Saturday, February 28, 2015
Friday, February 27, 2015
Persons who carry a handgun in their daily travels will sometimes be heard to comment on the difficulty of concealing it completely. It’s a formidable problem, for good clothing that fits properly will often suggest the presence of the gun via a “bulge” that’s visible to an onlooker. In several jurisdictions that prohibit open carry, police have been authorized to detain on the basis of such “suspicious bulges” and to arrest the detainee should he prove to be armed, regardless of whether he has a concealed-carry permit. The logic, of course, is that the gun isn’t completely concealed – that the bulge gives it away, thus creating a prima facie violation of the law.
To a Second Amendment absolutist – for the record, that includes your humble blogmeister – that’s quite bad enough. What makes it worse is the presumption involved, which is wrapped up in the doctrine of “reasonable suspicion.” The Fourth Amendment apparently doesn’t protect those of us who’ve had such bulges conferred upon us by diet or genetics.
To permit the police to infer a crime based on a suspicious bulge probably strikes some as reasonable enough. Indeed, it can be a tough thing to argue against...but I don’t take the easy cases. At any rate, today’s tirade isn’t about the infringement of Second Amendment rights because of such bulges. It’s about a bulge in plain sight that ought to have the entire nation locked, loaded, and storming Washington.
For quite some time, I and other commentators have discussed the thresholds for an open revolution against the regime. Some have drawn the line at the destruction of the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. Others have insisted that our Second Amendment rights are the last bastion – that once we’ve been reaved of our guns, our ability to resist tyranny will be gone, so a move in that direction should trigger revolt. A few have focused on the possible abrogation of an electoral outcome, as if vote fraud were irrelevant to the issue, or the outcome of an election has changed anything substantive this century past.
Well, Gentle Reader, in case you’ve been paying insufficient attention to the news, we’ve just had a quinella:
- The Federal Communications Commission has just claimed wholly unConstitutional powers over the Internet, imposing a 300-page-plus book of regulations upon ISPs that no one outside the federal government has yet seen.
- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, another wholly unConstitutional agency, has declared its intention to ban 5.56 NATO / .223 Remington rifle ammunition as “armor piercing,” despite the plain fact that that round does not meet the legal definition of armor-piercing ammunition.
What are the implications of those actions? What further measures against Americans’ rights to free expression and the possession of arms seem likely to follow?
Is that enough of a suspicious bulge for you? Combine it with the nationwide militarization of local police forces, Obama’s open obstruction of the enforcement of the immigration laws, and the vote fraud that was rampant in the 2012 elections. What verdict pops out of the slot?
Are we being reduced to helpless subjugation or not?
I’m growing tired. I’ve been writing op-ed for the Web since 1997, nearly always to the same effect: that America as it was designed – “conceived in liberty,” as the classic phrase goes – is being reduced to tyranny. Hundreds of other commentators have been shouting the same warning. Yet nothing has changed for the better. No effective resistance to our ongoing subjugation has been mounted. The closest we’ve come have been the popular resistance to the seizure of Cliven Bundy’s ranch and the Oath Keepers’ defense of legitimate Ferguson, Missouri businesses against looters and rioters.
Now we’re looking down the barrel of the State’s gun: the removal of the last wholly free means of expression and organization remaining to private citizens, plus the ongoing destruction of our potential means of resistance.
In the name of God, people, when will it be enough?
It’s no longer sufficient to protest. Those who hold the levers of power have decided that they can ignore our voices. Worse, we can’t even mobilize ourselves for effective resistance. There’s no point in standing on a street corner and crying out a warning if those who hear are unwilling to act.
Some say we need a leader that has not yet arisen. Others demur that we’re too comfortable – that the spirit of liberty has been enervated by prosperity. There’s some justice to both assessments, but a third is uppermost on my mind this morning: that we’ve become cowards, none of us willing to risk our own lives and possessions, all of us happy to “let you and him fight.”
Mind you, I don’t exempt myself.
Just yesterday, I wrote about the difference between facts and inferences as categories of knowledge. It might have been too abstruse to capture your interest. All the same, it’s an important subject, directly relevant to the situation we face today.
Abraham Lincoln once spoke thus:
"When we see a lot of framed timbers, different portions of which we know have been gotten out at different times and places, and by different workmen...and when we see those timbers joined together, and see that they exactly make the frame of a house or a mill, all the tenons and mortises exactly fitting, and all the lengths and proportions of the different pieces exactly adapted to their respective places, and not a piece too many or too few...in such a case we find it impossible not to believe that...all understood one another from the beginning, and all worked upon a common plan or draft, drawn up before the first blow was struck."— Abraham Lincoln, deducing from objective evidence the blueprint of a political plot to save the institution of slavery. [Quoted in Garet Garrett's essay "The Revolution Was"]
Lincoln’s concern was the ongoing enslavement of tens of thousands of American Negroes. He was willing to start a war that divided the nation and ultimately claimed 800,000 American lives to put an end to the practice. It hardly matters whether other means to bring an end to slavery were available, for the greater part of the nation deemed the price acceptable.
What about the enslavement of 300,000,000 Americans? What price are we willing to pay to prevent that?
The process has been in train for more than a century. Its completion, as implied by the assaults on the Internet and our firearms rights, looms before us. Could any bulge in the Omnipotent State’s garb be more suspicious?
"Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to treaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the Ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation.
"There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free; if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending; if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon, until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained; we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight!! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!
We, too, have tried argument.
We have also tried electoral measures.
We have tried everything except open revolt.
What, then, must we do?
I await your thoughts.
I’m scheduled for more oral surgery today, so please excuse me if I’m unable to write for a day or two. Of course, if I’m “unable” to write for some other reason, I exhort you to become outraged...if nothing else.
Both the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago are in dire financial condition. Illinois’s unfunded pension liability stands at $111 billion. It owes another $56 billion in unfunded retiree health-care obligations. Chicago itself faces $35 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. The total liability for all local government obligations adds up to as much as $83,000 per household.When all the socialist, Democrat, redistributionist, "social justice," racial justice, fairness, public service, diversity, reparations, white privilege crap is gift wrapped and delivered to every moron voter south of Milwaukee, the iron laws of arithmetic eventually get their chance at the polling place. The Black Death is more popular but that vote always gets cast.
It's always a write-in vote and the name written in is always "Mr. I Told You So."
 "Rahm’s Runoff. Chicago’s problems run deeper than many in the city want to acknowledge." By Aaron M. Renn, City Journal, 2/26/15 (links omitted).
Thursday, February 26, 2015
A commenter to this piece wrote:
"How about that, folks: two quasi-philosophical pieces in one week! I hope this doesn't constitute an overdose."
We're not here for the cat pictures, dude. Which is good, since you don't post cat pictures. :)
And the realization came upon me like a thunderbolt:
OMG!!! And I’m a lifelong lover and keeper of felis domesticus! I’ve had more cats than Carter has Little Liver Pills! Why, at this very moment I have three: April Come She Will, Uriel The Great, and Fluffy. (The last one is a recent adoptee who arrived pre-named, so don’t blame it on me. Anyway, she’s a longhair, so the name sort of fits.)
Besides, what’s a Website without a few cat pictures? In the spirit whereof, I present:
Thank you, commenter lelnet, for drawing that omission to my attention!
Recent events, including one with more personal significance than the others, have caused the nature and varieties of knowledge to bubble to the top of my priority list. How about that, folks: two quasi-philosophical pieces in one week! I hope this doesn’t constitute an overdose.
What we mean when we say we “know” something varies according to the kind of knowledge being claimed.
An acquaintance once argued to me that it’s impossible to “know” anything – that even our most fundamental observations are “too theory-laden” to constitute knowledge of a reliable sort. This...person is a “Unitarian pastor” who specializes in “feminist theology” and thinks muckraker Ida Tarbell was an objective and trustworthy reporter. Despite an advanced degree in the sciences, he disbelieves in scientific method as the most reliable technique for amassing knowledge about the universe, because he rejects the notion of objective reality, though he knows better than ever to say so outright.
My acquaintance’s fundamental failings – in this regard, that is – are an inability concede the requirement for premises and a corresponding ignorance about the varieties of knowledge.
Let’s look at a typical problem in required premises and the varieties of knowledge.
It’s impossible at this time to determine a man’s true beliefs and affinities with absolute assurance. For example, I could tell you that I love my wife, but you could never be absolutely certain that that statement is true. The truth of the matter is locked inside my head, where you cannot examine it. What you can do is test my assertions against my behavior, according to patterns you believe to be reliable. Do I treat my wife with affection, consideration, and loyalty? Most important: am I consistent about it, especially when I’m unaware that I’m being observed?
Much will depend upon your choice of premises. Will you assume that I always speak the truth? If so, the syllogism runs:
- Fran always speaks the truth.
- Fran says he loves his wife.
- Therefore, Fran loves his wife.
If you refrain from making that assumption, preferring confirmation by experimentation after the fashion of the sciences, your syllogism will run:
- A man who consistently behaves in fashion X loves his wife.
- Fran consistently behaves in fashion X.
- Therefore, Fran loves his wife.
When we look closely at those arguments, we note the following:
- In each case, statement 1 is accepted as true without question, which makes it either a premise (first argument) or a previously inferred item of knowledge (second argument).
- In each case, statement 2 is about an observed fact: what a scientist would call data. Whether or not the fact in question was independently witnessed, it could have been witnessed.
- In each case, statement 3 is the implication of statements 1 and 2: we infer it from our premises / previous knowledge and our observations.
In any case of inference, regardless of the particular premises chosen, at the conclusion of it there are two questions of importance:
- How certain are you of your conclusion?
- Why does that matter?
In point of fact, certainty about inferred knowledge – i.e., knowledge other than awareness of an observed fact – is barred to us. We can have a degree of confidence in such knowledge, that degree being proportional to its observed reliability in practice, but we cannot be certain that it will always hold true.
Robert A. Heinlein made an important point about this in Stranger In A Strange Land:
"...You know how Fair Witnesses behave."
"Well . . . no, I don't. I've never had any dealings with Fair Witnesses."
"So? Perhaps you weren't aware of it. Anne!"
Anne was seated on the springboard; she turned her head. Jubal called out, "That new house on the far hilltop - can you see what color they've painted it?"
Anne looked in the direction in which Jubal was pointing and answered, "It's white on this side." She did not inquire why Jubal had asked, nor make any comment.
Jubal went on to Jill in normal tones. "You see? Anne is so thoroughly indoctrinated that it doesn't even occur to her to infer that the other side is probably white too. All the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't force her to commit herself as to the far side . . . unless she herself went around to the other side and looked - and even then she wouldn't assume that it stayed whatever color it might be after she left . . . because they might repaint it as soon as she turned her back."
Heinlein’s Fair Witnesses make an absolute distinction between observable facts and inferences. The two constitute completely different kinds of knowledge. The former are utterly reliable – always assuming one’s own perceptions are reliable, of course – while the latter are propositions in cause and effect which can never be proved beyond all possibility of exceptions.
Quite recently, Rudy Giuliani kicked over a hornet’s nest by saying that he doesn’t believe that Barack Hussein Obama loves America. In the classification system established above, Giuliani’s assertion is an inference from observable facts, founded upon a simple premise: i.e., that one who loves America would speak and behave quite differently from Obama’s record. Because “love,” in whatever context, occurs in the mind of an individual, Giuliani cannot be absolutely certain of the accuracy of his inference. Additional uncertainty arises from the tendentiousness of claims about “love.”
Many persons agree with Giuliani, but there are many others who don’t. The former persons accept his premise, while the latter persons reject it. What cannot be disputed is the pattern of facts from which he drew his conclusion; the conclusion itself is open to disputation.
When a reporter ambushed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by asking him “Do you think President Obama is a Christian?” Governor Walker faced a comparable problem. Obama claims to be a Christian. He attended a supposedly Christian church for some twenty years. If Obama’s statement is all that’s required to establish his Christianity, the inference is automatic...but a sincere Christian such as Governor Walker has good reason to infer from Obama’s conduct and the nature of the “Christian church” he attended that there’s quite a bit of doubt about it.
Full disclosure: I agree with Rudy Giuliani that Obama does not love this country. My premises and observations match Giuliani’s, which leads me to agree with his inference. More, I do not accept Obama’s claim to be a Christian. Obama’s observable conduct, and the statements and behavior of his odious pastor Jeremiah Wright, utterly contradict all established Christian doctrine. Make of that what you will.
Those who aim to confuse you, to misdirect your attention, or to make damaging imputations about others, will routinely attempt to confuse the two kinds of knowledge.
The reporter who tried to corner Scott Walker wanted the governor, a promising candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, to assert a kind of knowledge that that reporter could thereafter misrepresent. Whatever answer Governor Walker might have given would have been an inference from his observations and premises. The reporter, regardless of whatever beliefs he might hold, would have trumpeted it as Governor Walker’s certainty about a matter locked deep within Obama’s self. Had Walker said that he accepts Obama’s claim to Christianity, the reporter would have used it to divide him from the many Republicans who have been offended by the clash between Obama’s claim and his observable conduct. Had Walker said that he rejects Obama’s claim to Christianity, the reporter would have implied that Walker allows himself to be contemptuous of Obama’s faith – a faith that the reporter, strictly by unspoken implication, wants his readers to accept as beyond question. That’s the nature of “journalism” in our hyperpartisan age.
I would have loved for Walker to respond to the reporter as follows:
Reporter: Governor, do you believe that President Obama is a Christian?
Walker: Do you?
Reporter: Yes, of course.
Reporter: He says he is, and he attended a Christian church.
Walker: Do the words and deeds of pastor Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ match Christian teachings? Does Obama’s conduct in office reflect Christian allegiance?
A smart, on-his-toes reporter would refrain from answering. He’d know that the initiative had passed to Walker, and that there would be nothing to be gained by proceeding. But let’s imagine that Walker has caught him off-balance:
Reporter: I don’t know enough about Christianity to say.
Walker: But you expect me to say – to testify to what lies within another man’s heart, which no other man is privy to. That’s a degree of arrogance I leave to you and your colleagues. I’ll have no part of it.
There’s a win for you. Perhaps Governor Walker will read this and agree.
A relevant personal vignette, arising from events of yesterday: Have a look at this listing at Amazon:
I did not publish that story through Amazon. The only place I published it is here, at Smashwords. More, note that the price listed at Smashwords is Free. Believing that Smashwords simply must be the originator of the listing, I contacted its support center and asked what had happened. Here’s the reply I received:
Thanks for your email. We don't distribute to Amazon so you would need to contact them directly.
Amazon is one of the most reliable, and reliably ethical, retail organizations in the world. More, its security arrangements have never been breached. Yet Smashwords’ staff would have me believe that Amazon lifted my story from its Smashwords listing, entirely without my permission, listed it at Amazon’s site, and attached a price to it to which I did not assent – all while listing it under my full and correct name, such that I would be certain to encounter it!
What are the facts in this matter, and what inferences, if any, do they support?
Food for thought.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Thanks to “our” Main Stream Media...well, I suppose any left-liberals in the audience would regard them that way...the Nixon Administration’s “enemies list” is a notorious, even legendary item. There’s some irony in that, for it’s been stated by numerous Nixon White House staffers that if such a list did exist, President Nixon never spoke of it and probably never saw it. All the same, the open hostility between the Nixonites and the media makes the suggestion of such a list plausible, whether or not it was real.
These days, lists of enemies of the regime are compiled in a different fashion, and by a different agency: the Department of Homeland Security. The indefatigable Doug Ross has the scoop:
Are you a conservative, a libertarian, a Christian or a gun owner? Are you opposed to abortion, globalism, Communism, illegal immigration, the United Nations or the New World Order? Do you believe in conspiracy theories, do you believe that we are living in the “end times” or do you ever visit alternative news websites (such as this one)?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are a “potential terrorist” according to official U.S. government documents.
At one time, the term “terrorist” was used very narrowly. The government applied that label to people like Osama bin Laden and other Islamic jihadists. But now the Obama administration is removing all references to Islam from terror training materials, and instead the term “terrorist” is being applied to large groups of American citizens.
And if you are a “terrorist”, that means that you have no rights and the government can treat you just like it treats the terrorists that are being held at Guantanamo Bay. So if you belong to a group of people that is now being referred to as “potential terrorists”, please don’t take it as a joke. The first step to persecuting any group of people is to demonize them. And right now large groups of peaceful, law-abiding citizens are being ruthlessly demonized.
Below is a list of 72 types of Americans that are considered to be “extremists” and “potential terrorists” in official U.S. government documents. To see the original source document for each point, just click on the link. As you can see, this list covers most of the country…
The list is indeed extensive. I’m a member of quite a number of the listed categories. Perhaps you are, too. And as Doug says, it’s not something to take lightly. If there’s a saving grace to the situation, it would be that if the majority of Americans are “potential terrorists,” then according to democratic norms we can all cheer that we “potential terrorists” have “won!”
(No, not really. I’m being facetious; note the snark quotes. It’s how I keep my blood pressure in check.)
The relevance to “New Class” political dynamics is obvious. Anyone who qualifies as a “potential terrorist” by one or more of the criteria on that list is clearly not a member of the “New Class.” Therefore, should such persons eventually league with one another to oppose the existing regime, the political elite will have a prefabricated justification for ordering the military to suppress the “coup.” That the existing regime, in and of itself constitutes a coup against the Constitution only adds to the irony.
Persons who qualify (by the criteria on Doug’s list) as “potential terrorists” would tend to be more politically conservative than average. As political conservatism correlates rather strongly with the traditional understanding of patriotism, it would follow that those “potential terrorists” constitute the bulk of the nation’s patriots: those who love their country and equate its interests with their own. There are implications for those not on the list as well: implications the “New Class” is anxious to prevent being noticed and expressed.
Patriotism is a form of allegiance: that is, it expresses a sense of contingent obligation to serve one’s country, even at cost to oneself. Members of the “New Class” being less inclined to patriotism as conservatives understand it, they would therefore be less inclined toward public service -- real public service, rather than a highly paid job bossing less fortunate types around.
Let’s ponder the de facto meaning of “public service.” The “New Class” would have you interpret that as a position within the government, whether elected, appointed, or Civil Service. But when we inquire into the actual “service” being rendered to the “public,” it often proves to be vapor: the awkward, insubstantial self-justifications of the self-serving, endlessly more concerned with personal incentives than with doing something for someone else. (Note: not doing something to someone else; that’s part of the problem.)
In the private sector, to “serve” the “public” has a fairly strict meaning. Whether or not the service is compensated in some fashion, it must involve something that accords with the interests of the “public” as represented by the particular persons being served. In that light, a reasonably diligent waiter has a better claim to being a public servant than any federal bureaucrat.
This is not to say that there are no genuine public servants in government employ. Soldiers and firemen come to mind at once. But the tendency to equate government employment with “public service” has leached all the virtue out of the term – and the soldiers and firemen should be as aggrieved over that as you and I.
Genuine public service is the best overt demonstration of patriotism. Therefore, that both patriotism and a sincere ethic of public service are notably lacking among the “New Class” should come as no surprise. It follows that those who are sincerely patriotic should be prominent on the “New Class’s” enemies list.
The probability of a “roundup” of the regime’s “enemies” seems low at the moment. Incidents such as the popular response to the federal assault on Cliven Bundy’s ranch, and the Oath Keepers’ defense of Ferguson, Missouri businesses despite “official” demands that they disperse, suggest that our political class would be foolish to embark upon such a thing. But many terrible events are foreshadowed well in advance by trivia such as an “enemies list.” It would be foolish not to regard it seriously.
America has entered a time of trial. Whether it’s to be what its political elite demands that it be, or what the great majority of its true patriots want it to be, cannot be foreseen. All that’s guaranteed is the struggle. In that struggle, the broad sweep of the “enemies list” is an asset in the patriots’ favor: it’s too clearly an attempt to pre-demonize those who oppose the “New Class’s” grip on political hegemony.
Former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani:
“I don’t feel it. I don’t feel this love of America,” Giuliani said, talking about Obama. “I’m talking about a man who grew up under the influence of Frank Marshall Davis who was a member of the Communist Party, who he refers to over and over in his book, who was a tremendous critic of the United States.”Giuliani's pointing out that Obama has no love for America has exercised the left as only a plain and simple statement of obvious truth can. Well, duhh.
What simple facts can we turn to to shed some light on this matter?
Here's Obama's mentor of nine years until Obama went away to college, the guy Giuliani refers to above:
Mr. Davis was a card carrying communist. Your mentor in life was a hard core communist, right? And wouldn't that be everybody's go-to guy for lessons in patriotism? That part about a communist dictatorship just sends me. And nothing says "Americanism" like an efficient secret police force and sham elections.
Moving right along, here's Obama's pastor, the Rev.Jeremiah Wright:
He's the gentleman who preached that sermon with the words, "God damn America! God damn America!" He was Obama's pastor for 20 years who married Obama and Michelle and baptized their children. You should hear how my friends curse America. Like, don't get me started, ok?!
Here's Bill Ayers, husband of Bernardine Dohrn. They are two communist terrorists in whose living room Obama began his political career:
If you were kicking off your political career, wouldn't you make a bee line to the communist terrorists in your life to help you get set up? Doesn't everybody wipe their boots on Old Glory at some time in their life? Could we just get real here for a moment?
Here's Obama on the campaign trail in 2008:
Everyone else on that stage seemed to know that the national anthem was being played. Obama preferred his signature crotch salute. You can see it here later on, in case you think the previous picture shows some kind of a mistake on his part:
You just can't rush these things.
Compare and contrast that with this, as the professors at Harvard Law School say in their exams:
Not a Harvard law man here, it's true, but good enough for me. I detect a glimmer of understanding there, even though he is a Texan.
Here's a photo showing Obama's profound respect for our fighting men:
For future reference, we have:
How hard is that? Seriously?
Or is there any lesson for us here?
That's pretty cool in my book.
How about this shameless grandstanding?
I'm just sayin' is all. You can tell stuff about a man if you read the subtle signs.
Way I see it, apologizing to, slobbering over, and bowing and scraping before foreign heads of state and hotel maids around the world is just an exercise in humiliating the United States as part of some bizarre exercise in making amends for the sins of America that seem to preoccupy him so:
And taking office crowing about how you'll bring about the fundamental transformation of America is not what a patriot would do. You don't love something that you want to change fundamentally.
I just don't get this guy. Did he ever change a tire? Did he ever enjoy a brewski while tinkering with an engine? Did he ever put a cherry bomb under a hub cap? Did he ever shoot for 50 push ups? Did he ever date a girl in high school? Did he ever think about joining the military? Did he ever ride a motorbike? Did he ever go hiking or do anything as a youth besides smoke dope, hang out with foreign students and Marxists, read Frantz Fanon, and write creepy poems? He wanted to be a righteous "community organizer." Ad astra, man.
Giuliani nailed it. That vibe is missing. There's no sense that the man's heart is brimming with pride at serving as the president of this country. Every day I woke up knowing that I was the commander in chief of our splendid armed forces I would be filled with humility and an awesome sense of responsibility. Sure as shootin' you wouldn't need to shame me into rendering an appropriate salute when the occasion called for it.
 "The Mysterious 'Frank' Returns." By Cliff Kincaid, NewsWithViews.com, 2/23/15.
Edited 2/26/15 to finesse error in the original stating that Bush wasn't a Harvard grad.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Many years ago, Irving Kristol wrote of the emergence of a “New Class” that had come to dominate the corridors of power:
Today there is a new class hostile to business in general, and especially to large corporations. As a group, you find them mainly in the very large and growing public sector and in the media. They share a disinterest in personal wealth, a dislike for the free-market economy, and a conviction that society may best be improved through greater governmental participation in the country's economic life. They are the media. They are the educational system. Their dislike for the free-market economy originates in their inability to exercise much influence over it so as to produce change. In its place they would prefer a system in which there is a very large political component. This is because the new class has a great deal of influence in politics. Thus, through politics, they can exercise a direct and immediate influence on the shape of our society and the direction of national affairs. [From The Neoconservative Persuasion: Selected Essays, 1949 - 2009]
Those who made up the “New Class” tended to dismiss Kristol’s warnings about them, often by pointing out that he was one of their kind: he possessed the same academic credentials they did, and he, too, sought influence over the nation’s political direction by the exercise of his intellect and eloquence. But they could not dispute his assessment of their aggregate power.
The most significant aspect of the “New Class” is its hostility toward those they deem “outsiders” who challenge their hegemony. Anyone who recalls the treatment Sarah Palin received from the political elite and their boughten allies in the media will know at once how savage they can be toward such an interloper.
The 2015-2016 Presidential campaign season is already providing us with another example of “New Class” ferocity in defense of its bastion:
The left-leaning mainstream media senses that [Scott Walker is] a potential danger. After all, he has won three straight elections in a swing state, while challenging the public employees’ unions head-on and significantly reducing their government privileges. (This is precisely what makes him interesting to those of us on the right.) The mainstream media feel that they need to disqualify him now, so they’re looking for anything they can use against him....
There are no real class divisions in America except one: the college-educated versus the non-college educated. It helps to think of this in terms borrowed from the world of a Jane Austen novel: graduating from college is what makes you a “gentleman.” (A degree from an Ivy League school makes you part of the aristocracy.) It qualifies you to marry the right people and hold the right kind of positions. It makes you respectable....
If you don’t have a college degree, by contrast, you are looked down upon as a vulgar commoner who is presumptuously attempting to rise above his station. Which is pretty much what they’re saying about Scott Walker. This prejudice is particularly strong when applied to anyone from the right, whose retrograde views are easily attributed to his lack of attendance at the gentleman’s finishing school that is the university.
That brings us to the heart of the matter. I have observed before that left-leaning politics has become “part of the cultural class identity of college-educated people,” a prejudice that lingers long after they have graduated. You can see how this goes the other way, too. If to be college-educated is to have left-leaning views—then to have the “correct” political values, one must be college-educated.
You can see now what is fueling the reaction on the left. If Scott Walker can run for president, he is challenging the basic cultural class identity of the mainstream left. He is more than a threat to the Democrats’ hold on political power. He is a threat to the existing social order.
Note what Kristol said about the “New Class:” “They are the media. They are the educational system.” Note what Robert Tracinski says above about the indispensability of a college education to “[having] the ‘correct’ political values.” The dots almost connect themselves.
What hones the above observations to microtome sharpness is the media’s immediate compliance with the Left’s defensive needs: the “gotcha” questions reporters have posed to Walker about evolution and Obama’s supposed Christianity. Perhaps it’s for the best that Walker isn’t a Catholic; they’d bombard him with questions about birth control and abortion. Note that John Kerry, a left-liberal who claims to be a Catholic, never had to face such questions.
A brief tangent: To conservative candidates everywhere, I repeat my exhortation:
If they ask about your views on abortion, reply: “Does human life begin at birth, or in the womb?” If they ask for your views on birth control, reply: “Do you have any minor children? Were you married to their mother when they were born? Are you still married to her?” If they ask about whether you think Obama is a Christian, reply: “Would you say man who constantly defends the barbarities of Islamic societies has more sympathy for a bloodthirsty warlord like Muhammad, or for the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ?” There’s no better way to reveal the hypocrisy and venality of the Left.
To return to the main topic: A great part of the Left’s high dudgeon about Rudy Giuliani’s recent, highly publicized remarks about Obama’s self-evident lack of affection for America is that just as with Scott Walker, they regard Giuliani as a “rube” who dared to “rise above his proper place.” Worse, he succeeded in taming New York’s crime problem, where a series of Democrat mayors had failed. Worst of all, in defeating David Dinkins, the first Negro mayor of New York City, he committed an unpardonable sin against their favorite mascot-group.
Frankly, there’s nothing they approve of about conservatives, including those who’ve gone to Ivy League schools:
- A large family would compromise one’s social standing.
- Guns and shooting sports are noisy and dirty: low-class pursuits.
- Patriotism expressed in deeds – e.g., military service – is déclassé.
- Commercial enterprise is too grubby for the political class; they might get their nails dirty.
- Religion, except for the purely cosmetic sort required to reassure the hoi polloi, is for rubes.
- As conservative sentiments are strongest away from the Atlantic and Pacific Seaboards, anyone not from those Seaboards – preferably from one of the megalopolises that dominate them – is automatically extremely suspect.
The savagery the Left showed to Governor Palin has been resurrected to be showered upon Scott Walker. Should another of the other potential GOP presidential candidates pass Walker in popular standing, that same treatment will be visited upon him. The reason hardly needs to be stated outright: A successful conservative is a threat to their rice bowls.
Big Government has many flaws, both moral and practical. But it has a great virtue to the “New Class” that trumps all its shortcomings: It provides them with their incomes. Beyond that, it reinforces their “assumption of differential rectitude” (Thomas Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed), albeit by an exercise in circular reasoning. Their standard of living and their self-conferred privilege of dismissing those who disagree with them as stupid or evil both depend upon the embrace of the State. They will permit no conservative barbarian within its gates while they have the means to bar them.
The “New Class” does have a “candidates group:” its allies in the media and academic worlds. Persons from those environments are permitted to aspire to admission to the halls of power, though not many are accepted. As with any graduate student who seeks a doctorate, they must first prove themselves by serving the desires of the “New Class.” Quoth Lawrence Sellin:
In the Obama years, disseminating either disinformation or no information, a devoted media helped create the intellectual darkness and vacant servitude required to carry out the strategy of their leftist Messiah; a country without any sense of its own history and traditions, where the low-information voter would slouch towards Obama’s imaginary utopia through a combination of governmental coercion and the hedonist nihilism of a painless, amusement-sodden, and stress-free America managed by a nanny-state.
Though Colonel Sellin specifically references the Obamunist Interregnum, the media / educratic complex has served the agenda he delineates for at least four decades. It’s the precondition its foot soldiers must meet to be considered for eventual acceptance into the “New Class” elite: the nation’s political command staff. America’s education barons have participated as well: consider this eruption among the warmistas and the savagery of the assaults upon Michael Behe as cases in point.
Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein, in their masterpiece The Bell Curve, noted that the ongoing striation of the American populace into classes separated from one another by differences in intellect presaged the emergence of a "Latin American kind of conservatism." Their symbol for this was the hacienda on the hill, surrounded by parapets manned by armed guards. Those walls and guards exist to protect a class order in which the aristocrats enjoy an elevated lifestyle and access to power, from disturbances from los peones below.A class is defined by its legal and social privileges. The aristocrats of medieval times were not distinguished by their lineages or their deeds, but by the things they were allowed to do, without penalty, that commoners were not. There is reason to believe that the majority of medieval aristocrats were fairly responsible stewards of their lands and of public order within them. That does not justify the creation of a class of men who could wield high, middle, and low justice over others, but who would normally escape all consequences for deeds for which a commoner would be severely punished.
My only amendment to the above would be to note that whereas Herrnstein and Murray focused on intelligence, the “New Class” has demoted demonstrable intelligence in favor of the right academic credentials and the right “values.” Other than that, the game remains the same. We will see many more throws as the Presidential campaign season moves ahead.
I simply don’t believe in the doctrine of global warming.
I am not a climatologist but I am an economist who worked as a statistician and econometrician for 15 years. I know something about the computer models used by the climatologists because they are structurally very similar to the econometric models. I know how easy it is to play with the parameters and how easy it is to get the results you want to get. This doctrine is basically not a doctrine from natural sciences about climate, but rather a doctrine about man and society. The greens and environmentalists are introducing the old collectivist ideas to “control and regulate” and un-free society under new banners.
Actual satellite temperature measures compared to the “predictions” of IPCC sanctioned climate models. The gap is widening ever more. There has been zero global warming in the last 18 years and two months.
Monday, February 23, 2015
I’m in a somewhat philosophical mood this morning, partly because of some reflections over events of the weekend just behind us, and partly because anything too political will push my blood pressure past four figures. (I can’t write unceasingly about political subjects. It’s been slowly but steadily boiling all the happy bits right out of my brain.) So forgive me, Gentle Reader, if you find the following disconnected from your mundane concerns. I assure you, it connects quite well to mine.
A question I’ve recently tried to keep continuously in mind, which I commend to all of you, is:
Much of what any individual does is habit-based. The habit in question might be an important one, perhaps even a survival imperative. Nevertheless, habitual actions are undertaken automatically, nearly always without thought. It refreshes one to remember the whys of such actions; it makes them seem less mechanical and more purposeful.
Many of one’s remaining decisions and consequent actions arise from an aversion of some sort. To be more precise, we think of something to do – something that might get us nearer to some goal – and immediately find ourselves thinking of the negative aspects. In many cases, we turn aside from the action we’d thought to take – and in many of those cases, the deep reason is time preference.
In the simplest terms, we value a near-term reward over a long-term reward when the two are nominally equal. A dollar put in one’s today beats a dollar to be delivered tomorrow. Indeed, we value a dollar in hand today above a dollar and some cents tomorrow. There are several reasons:
- Gratification of desire is difficult to defer;
- Promised rewards sometimes fail to materialize;
- An asset currently in hand can often be used to generate a greater reward than what one was promised in return for one’s patience;
- If further investment, whether of time, money, or effort, is required to win the promised reward, those things have their own costs, both materially and in opportunities forgone.
The struggle to overcome our time preferences is summarized by a lapel button I once saw:
Laziness pays off today.
It also explains Americans’ willingness to finance current consumption with long-term indebtedness.
Before the weekend, I had promised myself that I’d get some work done on Statesman, the sequel to Polymath. (Regarding which, I could still use reviews. Hint! Hint!) Well, to cut straight to the chase, I didn’t. What stopped me wasn’t an overload of more urgent tasks; it was time preference. It takes me about a year to turn out a novel. I can’t confront that extensive an effort without being beset by reluctance to begin, no matter how ardently I want to see the book finished. This past weekend I simply needed more get-up-and-go than I possessed to set to work on a project whose completion is so far away.
You’d think a writer with nine novels already out would have conquered that hill by now, wouldn’t you? Yet that “potential well” of reluctance has grown deeper with each completed book, because I know how much effort and suffering another one will cost me. This past weekend, a little immediate gratification from a quick short story seemed far more appealing. In case you haven’t already noticed, here’s what resulted.
My case is surely not unique. Only a writer of absolute and unfailing discipline is unaffected by this problem. And of course, it’s not confined to writers. The dissuasive power of time preference afflicts us all.
In Freedom’s Scion, at a critical juncture for Althea’s emotional development, she has the following exchange with her “dead” grandfather Armand:
Grandpere! It’s been—
—Nearly two years. I know, I know. You needed the time to yourself. Never fear, I’d have been there if you ever really needed me.
(grimly) I had plenty of needs!
—Nothing you were unable to handle by yourself, dear.
And you knew that...how?
—I know you.
It halted her in mid-flight.
My self-imposed exile wasn’t for any particular purpose. Maybe it served one even so.
—No maybes about it, Al. You are not who or what you were. You’re far more. Some of it is invisible to you yet, though it won’t be forever. Just one of the unacknowledged laws of human nature at work.
—At every moment of your life, you are everything you have ever been. It’s all there, from the instant of your birth onward to this very moment. And it all plays a part.
Even the pain?
—Especially the pain.
That “unacknowledged law of human nature” is more frequently overlooked than observed and respected. (Why, we might even call it “obvious!”) It has a clear application to our relations with others, but what I have in mind this morning is how it affects our preconceptions and decisions about our own lives.
What we “know” is really more often than not what we “have known:” i.e., what we have experienced in times past. We did this and then that happened. Sometimes we infer causal relations from those sequences of events. Sometimes our inferences are correct, and sometimes we’re merely being superstitious. Nevertheless, it’s the way the mind works: we associate our undertakings both with the rewards we got for them and with their costs in time, effort, and suffering.
However, there’s an important component that’s often left on memory’s “cutting room floor:” the pleasure of the moment.
I’ve told my Gentle Readers on several occasions that I mostly write these pieces for myself, as a way of reasoning out my intuitions. It happens to be true; I did it before there was a World Wide Web, and I’m certain I’d continue to do it if the Web were to be shut down forever (shudder). This is just one more example of the practice.
What I’m going to try to do, when next I have time to work on Statesman or any other extended project, is to focus on the pleasure inherent in the instantaneous act of writing: the specific and immediate reward of getting the next scene, paragraph, sentence, or word exactly right. Narrowing my focus down to the very instant in which my fingers touch the keys might just be enough, not to “overcome” my awareness of the pain and struggle that lies before me, but to forget about it entirely for as long as I write.
After all, I can hardly argue with Armand; he’s a planetary Overmind. According to him, at every moment of my life I’m everything I’ve ever been. If so, then each moment is the culmination of my life’s journey up to that moment. In some sense, it’s why I’ve lived – why I’ve done everything I’ve ever done.
Note how this perspective differs from the typical “life is a journey” platitude: you don’t have a finish line to reach before it can be significant. You’re standing at a “finish line” at every instant of your life. That you can’t always hear the roar of millions of adoring fans is of infinitely less importance.
That makes it a pretty important moment, one that deserves my full attention...and my full powers of enjoyment. I’ll try hard not to waste it.
Sunday, February 22, 2015
...I’m taking today off from Liberty’s Torch to concentrate on other projects: mainly snow shoveling and fiction. If you have any prayer bandwidth to spare, an Our Father or a Hail Mary for my shoulders and lower back would be much appreciated.
Enjoy your Sunday. May God bless and keep you all!
All my best,
Saturday, February 21, 2015
A short, sweet romantic fantasy. Obsession can come upon us all unawares. There are many kinds of obsession, some more frightening than others. Perhaps the most frightening of all is love that comes upon us unanticipated and wholly unexplained.
Free in all formats at SmashWords.
There are no perfect human beings. Does it not follow that there are no perfect politicians?
I admire Rudy Giuliani, without a need to agree with 100% of his positions and sentiments. One of the principal reasons I admire him is his forthrightness, which has been on vivid display this past week:
Needless to say, Obama’s media defenders are apoplectic about this blasphemy:
MSNBC’s Steve Benen called the mayor “clownish.” The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson strongly implied that Giuliani was racist. Writing in The New York Daily News, Wayne Barrett noted that Giuliani secured a deferment allowing him to avoid service in the Vietnam War, and added that documents indicate his convict father and five uncles also managed to avoid service in World War II. Who’s the patriot now, huh?...
Maybe the most excessive pile-on could be found, as it so often is, on MSNBC. There, the cast of Morning Joe scrambled over one another to not only denounce Giuliani’s comments but to air 14-year-old grievances against the mayor and to insist that Republicans should entirely abstain from criticizing the outgoing two-term president ahead of 2016....
“Yes, Mr. Mayor, it is racist and it sounds, frankly, kind of unhinged,” The Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson insisted.
When Donny Deutsch, who was apparently personally offended by Giuliani’s remarks, attacked him for “co-opting the tragedy that was 9/11” and accused him of being a “fringe” element of the GOP, he inspired a panicked series of repudiations from his fellow panelists. Deutsch didn’t seem to realize that his assertion had exposed the fabricated nature of Giuliani-gate, day two.
The media have pressed various Republican luminaries to add their voices to the chorus of denunciation. So far, no prominent GOP figures have done so.
Remember how livid John “mind my camera” / “the next JFK” Kerry was when he sensed that someone had “questioned my patriotism” -- ? Come to think of it, do you remember the following episode?
Double Standards Department, please pick up on Line 1! But as much fun as this is, I digress.
Rudy Giuliani is in the stocks for saying that he does not believe that President Barack Obama “loves America.” He said this at a small, private dinner for Scott Walker, who probably will not be inviting Giuliani to very many events in the near future.
Giuliani went on to say that he wasn’t questioning the president’s patriotism — angels and ministers of grace defend us! — only noting that the president’s rhetoric is decidedly low-cal on the American exceptionalism but full-fat when it comes to criticism. It may be the case that the president is a practitioner of the Smokey Robinson school of patriotism: “I don’t like you, but I love you.” Something's really got a hold on this guy, and it is not an excessive fervor for the American order.
Questions about patriotism and love of country are, according to our self-appointed referees, out of bounds, declasse, boob bait for bubbas, etc. Those are questions that we are not allowed to ask in polite society. Why? Because polite society does not want to hear the answers.
...but do please remember, Gentle Reader, that “obvious” means “overlooked.”
It’s Question Time here at America's House of Commons, my friends. No, the question of the day isn’t does Obama love America? That’s hardly tough: He doesn’t. He resents America, maybe even hates it, and there’s absolutely nothing in his actions to indicate otherwise. If he harbors “love” of any sort for these United States, it would be of the George Bernard Shaw variety:
OCTAVIUS. Even if it were so—and I don’t admit it for a moment—it is out of the deadliest struggles that we get the noblest characters.
TANNER. Remember that the next time you meet a grizzly bear or a Bengal tiger, Tavy.
OCTAVIUS. I meant where there is love, Jack.
TANNER. Oh, the tiger will love you. There is no love sincerer than the love of food. I think Ann loves you that way: she patted your cheek as if it were a nicely underdone chop.
If we were discussing anyone not in national politics, we would recur to ancient, well-proven wisdom:
believe the deeds.
Isn’t that what every last one of us has been taught? Is there any reason to think we somehow missed a conclusive indication to the contrary?
How a man can rise to the highest executive position in the nation despite a profound resentment of that nation, carefully inculcated practically from birth, is the deepest question. But I have still another one in mind for particular consideration today.
Leftists routinely drip venom and hurl the basest of insults at anyone on the Right they deem a threat to their agenda. They do so with a complete absence of inhibition that speaks of a passion to eclipse all the other passions in their souls. That they permit no one on the Right to say anything even moderately critical about their luminaries without a counter-barrage that would dwarf Somme, Verdun, or Third Ypres is the most significant aspect of the thing. Why?
Progressives play this game where they launch nothing but nasty Marxist Critiques upon America, agitating for the country to remake itself entirely, but want to claim simultaneously: We love America as much as anybody.
Oh you most certainly do not! Definitionally, you do not: One who "loves" with a long list of caveats and criticisms does not love as much as someone who loves completely (or with a much shorter list of caveats and criticisms).
Furthermore, progressives take patriotism itself to be a the sanctimony of the unsophisticated. Or, as Oscar Wilde called it, "the virtue of the vicious."
Progressives, when they're speaking honestly (that is, when they're not speaking in front of TV cameras), love to lampoon their fellow countrymen's unsophisticated, stupid, and obese love of country.
Progressive “love of country” is comparable to Nurse Duckett’s “love” of Yossarian:
Nurse Duckett found Yossarian wonderful and was already trying to change him.
Pace Rand, to love is to value one’s beloved as highly as oneself. If the beloved has flaws, they’re no worse than one’s own flaws, though perhaps different. One does not set out to “fundamentally transform” a beloved.
But the second part of the answer to the question impends, and here it is:
We react with anger toward mock-countrymen who don’t.
But the progressive agenda – i.e., unlimited power for them and complete subjugation for us – paradoxically depends upon securing our cooperation. They must somehow persuade us to elevate them to power. Therefore, they can’t afford to have us angry at them. They must pretend to hold the same values we espouse. They must posture as lovers of America despite being nothing of the sort.
When their mask slips, or when it’s wrenched off by a Rudy Giuliani, they panic. They know their enterprise has been put in mortal danger. Nothing will serve but a backblast so vicious and so violent as to drown out the evidence of their duplicity.
I suppose this reduces to just one more argument for rejecting the Left in all its manifestations and defeating its initiatives wherever it might advance them. Yet it must be said. What Giuliani said must be said. What the various leftists who slammed him for it said must be held up to the light. No one must be allowed to avert his eyes. Once the truth of Giuliani’s words is generally conceded and the Left’s reasons for its hysterical denunciations of him are appreciated, it will be their Waterloo.
Food for thought.
Friday, February 20, 2015
If you’ve been reading my drivel for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with these sentiments:
Though your Curmudgeon disbelieves in left-liberal doctrines, he believes strongly that they should be argued for -- that men of wit and knowledge should undertake to defend them with all the logic and evidence they can muster. This is important precisely because they are opposed to the ideas of freedom, the free market, inviolable individual rights to life and property, and a system of justice founded on objective law, objective evidence, and unbending rules of procedure. We must know how to defend these things logically. If we're never required to do that, we will forget why they're important, and will fail to do them justice when they're attacked by force or guile.
There is this as well: the Starkman paradigm, which accuses conservatives of sealing themselves off from facts and theses that contradict their beliefs, whether by intention or incapacity, actually puts left-liberals in far greater danger of that pitfall. It is not possible to dismiss one's opponents as either stupid or evil, yet still grapple with their contentions in full sincerity. If we on the Right are correct and the left-liberals are wrong -- it doesn't matter about what -- the left-liberals will never learn it....
Leftists have assumed their moral standing to be significantly above that of others. Over the century past, they've had to confront an avalanche of evidence that their prescriptions are less than effective; indeed, that they're utterly unwholesome, toxic to human life and happiness. Were they not to wall the evidence irretrievably out of bounds -- were they not to dismiss all arguments against their notions presumptively, as the whisperings of Satan -- the earthquakes that have toppled their political edifices would topple them from their moral pedestals as well.
So they demand to have their intellectual and moral superiority deemed unchallengeable. They exhort us to subordinate our moral and political opinions to the "experts" -- care to guess who those are? -- and to dismiss counter-evidence and counter-argument with prejudice. They seek to sweep their opponents from the field by disqualifying us morally, before battle can be joined.
Perhaps the height of irony is Hellie's conclusion that "all that left wing political writers need to do is report the truth." Clearly, if that were so, his demonization of us as conscious agents of injustice would be unnecessary, as would the campaigns of calumny the Left is conducting against anyone to the right of John Kerry.
In a way, the sentiments of Neal Starkman and Benjamin Hellie are not exceptional. It’s been a longstanding pattern for left-liberals to dismiss their political opponents as “stupid or evil.” But in light of the most recent developments in left-wing arrogance and deliberate mendacity, it’s worth revising the subject to contemplate what those attitudes allow us to infer about their moral standing...and how they live with it.
The “stupid or evil” pattern in leftists’ political rhetoric has only grown stronger as the years have passed. They simply can’t abandon their intimations of idiocy, venal motives, or bigotry when confronted by a dissenting conservative. Perhaps that’s because the Main Stream Media have accorded those calumnies their approval...and their promulgation, of course. Or it might be that they’ve become “grooved,” and find the habits involved too hard to break. Whatever the utilitarian case, the tactic became blatant during the Bush the Younger Administration, has continued to intensify during the Obama years, and will probably continue to strengthen should a Republican take the White House in November next year.
It hasn’t done a thing for the efficacy of their prescriptions, of course. But the combination of their slanders with the consequences of their policies casts doubt on their own intellectual and moral standing.
We must start by assuming that the left-liberal who employs “stupid or evil” rhetoric is himself neither stupid nor evil. He might be badly misinformed. He might never have acquainted himself with critical aspects of history, economics, or human nature. His own motives, despite the chaos and destruction his preferred policies have produced, might be entirely benign. All of that is possible even for an American with an advanced education and an occupation that puts him among others of diverse backgrounds and views.
Of certain things we can be sure:
- He thinks more of his ability to gauge intelligence and judge character than is warranted.
- If he’s familiar with the Golden Rule, he doesn’t think it applies to political discourse.
- He’s never received the sort of verbal lambasting that would suffice to get him to doubt his premises.
- When he confronts a conservative, he doesn’t “see” a person of equal intellectual and moral standing.
In consequence of those four conditions, he awards himself an exemption from the rules of courtesy and civility when fencing with a conservative. He doesn’t reciprocate the conservative’s assumption of mutual benevolence.
In a way this is all quite logical. Why employ reason when one faces an irrational opponent? It would be wasted, wouldn’t it? When one is assured, a priori, that to dissent from left-liberal orthodoxy implies evil motives, why grant the dissenter’s assertions and arguments the respect of sober consideration? Surely the Devil, who “can cite Scripture for his purposes,” should get absolutely no slack.
The problem, of course, is in the premises...but very few persons, once they’ve allowed themselves to assume an attitude of intellectual and moral superiority, ever dare to question the premises that underpin it.
I’ll allow that the assumption of intellectual and moral superiority can be a hazard for conservatives as well. Yet it doesn’t seem to be nearly as widespread, nor as venomous and unrelenting in action, on the Right as it is on the Left. Perhaps that’s because conservatives are more likely than leftists to be believing Christians, but it’s an untestable hypothesis. At any rate, we haven’t sunk nearly as far into the disease, as one can verify for oneself merely by watching the talking-head shows for a few weeks.
Yet the problem is a serious one that threatens both camps, for as Tom Kratman has told us, over time we will come to resemble our adversaries ever more strongly:
[I]t has been said more than once that you should choose enemies wisely, because you are going to become just, or at least, much like them. The corollary to this is that your enemies are also going to become very like you....
If I could speak now to our enemies, I would say: Do you kill innocent civilians for shock value? So will we learn to do, in time. Do you torture and murder prisoners? So will we. Are you composed of religious fanatics? Well, since humanistic secularism seems ill-suited to deal with you, don't be surprised if we turn to our churches and temples for the strength to defeat and destroy you. Do you randomly kill our loved ones to send us a message? Don't be surprised, then, when we begin to target your families, specifically, to send the message that our loved ones are not stationery.
Tom isn’t the first writer to note that progression:
The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it. – Adolf Hitler
Hitler imposed himself upon the world both by promoting Nazism and by forcing the democracies to become zealous, intolerant and ruthless. Communist Russia shapes both its adherents and its opponents in its own image. – Eric Hoffer
...but we’ve seldom needed to ponder the premises involved quite as much as we do today.
Ayn Rand made the exhortation to “Check your premises” famous, at least among persons who’ve admired her thinking. When the premise is that the person with whom you’re arguing is on a far lower intellectual and moral plane than you, such that you need not grant him the respect due a putative equal, the consequences can be disastrous:
- Persons too stupid to be reasoned with can legitimately be deceived and coerced “for their own good.”
- Persons who lack an adequate moral sense can legitimately be forcibly re-educated, confined, or eliminated “for the greater good.”
- Worst of all, persons who, though assumed to be your intellectual and moral inferiors, turn out to be right when you were wrong, can make you look like a fool.
I submit that it’s that last possibility that poses the greatest hazard to the body politic.
Once the gentleman’s code ceased to bind a significant number of persons engaged in political activism or discourse, and once enough of us who still adhere to the code lost the moral confidence required to enforce it, it became inevitable that “stupid or evil” rhetoric would proliferate. To beat it back requires a massive campaign of “moral surgery:” the willingness to reprove the behavior founded on the pernicious premises, brutally if necessary.
Of course there’s a need for this in the home, in the rearing of one’s children, but the need to do so in public, among other nominal adults, is far greater:
- Never tolerate being treated like an intellectual inferior.
- Never allow anyone to imply that your motives are venal or corrupt.
- Never allow a conversation in which the “stupid or evil” premises are visible to go unchallenged.
Wrap your good right hand around those premises and rip them out roots and all, perhaps as follows:
Miscellaneous Arrogant Leftist: [Insert some insulting statement founded on the “stupid or evil” premise here.]
Offended Conservative: Tell me, do you think I’m your intellectual inferior?
MAL: Well, no, but...
OC: Do you think I’m morally deficient?
MAL: Well, I wouldn’t say so, but...”
OC: Because what you’ve just said implies either or both. It’s extremely offensive, the sort of remark that once led to pistols at dawn. As I always assume an adult has said what he meant to say, you can continue this conversation by yourself. [Turns and strides away.]
Among other things, it’ll make you feel better than you can imagine.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
I've just read one of the most remarkable, even critical documents of our time. It's so vitally important to the future, not merely of the United States but of Mankind as a whole, that not to proclaim it far and wide would be a sin of omission for which no penance would be sufficient.
Wait for it. I have a couple of other things to say first. I trust you'll appreciate the perspectives they afford.
First, allow me to recount an episode from more than a decade ago. It occurred at the home of some friends, who had invited us over for dinner. They'd also invited another couple, about whom I’d been told nothing except that the husband, Abe, was someone "you might enjoy talking to, Fran."
Abe was a left-liberal of typical left-liberal opinions and arrogance. We fenced verbally for an hour or more -- apparently our mutual friends had told him a little about me and my proclivities -- during which:
- The topics were many and various;
- Abe repeatedly made factual assertions I could easily disprove, but which he insisted were true, while freely dismissing my factual assertions as "nonsense;"
- Despite severe temptations to do otherwise, I remained courteous. I was in someone else's home and felt an obligation to maintain the peace.
But there came a point where Abe felt he simply had to address what he deemed the inadequacies of President George W. Bush. Now, whatever Dubya's missteps were -- and I'll allow he made a number of them, some of which were quite serious -- he was a man of sterling character. You could believe that he meant what he said. When he proposed a plan of action, you could be confident that he was sincere about it and would prosecute it to the limit of his ability and authority. When Abe lit off in that direction, I could sense that trouble was on the horizon.
And indeed it was. I managed to hold myself in check throughout most of Abe's tirade, but when he sneered at Dubya for his Christianity -- for "needing the comfort of an imposed structure," as Abe put it -- I snapped.
"Do you have any idea," I said in a tone that might have issued from the bowels of the Earth, "what you just said to a devout, practicing Catholic?" I didn't wait for an answer. I turned on my heel and walked away. We exchanged no further words that evening. Indeed, my wife and I left without wishing him a good night.
I wrote some time ago -- apologies; I can't find the link -- that among the patterns that characterize men of good will is the tendency to assume that others are equally as benevolent. That attitude is one of the main supports to the maintenance of the conventional courtesies: broadly speaking, refraining from calling someone an idiot, fool, dupe, liar, slut, thief, murderer, or otherwise unsatisfactory person in a nominally social setting. Abe felt no such inhibitions, at least when his target was someone who wasn't physically present. When I put him on notice that he'd denigrated my convictions, his face fell apart. He couldn't believe I had reacted in such an unrestrained fashion. Why, it was positively discourteous. And after such a nice dinner, too!
I'd reached my limit. Everyone has one. Abe had found mine, whether or not he'd deliberately sought to do so.
It was the beginning of a rather sharp swerve in my attitude toward leftists who denigrate Christianity. I once felt it was something like an obligation to remain courteous, to try to demonstrate how far wrong they were by my conduct, erudition, and sound reasoning. Beneath that, of course, lay the assumption that they could be led to see their error and retreat from it: if not to the extent of becoming Christians, at least so far as allowing that we might not be the imbeciles, buffoons, and would-be oppressors they'd taken us to be.
The assumption was the problem. Indeed, it still is: far too many men of good will retain it, despite innumerable demonstrations that it is false-to-fact.
President Bush labored under that assumption, too. He repeatedly acted as if he accepted without question that his political adversaries were as benevolently inclined as he. He received numerous rebuffs without ever abandoning that premise. It cost him, and the country, in ways that still burden us and will continue to do so for some time to come.
To cut to the chase: Courtesy toward one another is a formal thing. It's not context-free; sustaining it requires a state of reciprocal obligation, in which all persons strive to remain courteous. It derives from the spirit of the Second Great Commandment: to love your neighbor as you love yourself. But one can maintain the specific standard of the Commandment without straining to remain courteous to an unmannerly boor.
Once Abe had demonstrated that he felt himself unbound by the courtesies, I declared myself free of them as well. But Abe is in no way exceptional among left-liberals. To left-liberals, courtesy and propriety are shackles for conservatives, Christians, and their other enemies. They have no interest in donning those fetters; they might keep them from winning an argument...or an election.
The double standard in political and social discourse has never been clearer. One side has declared itself outside all rules. It will lie, cheat, steal, sling unbelievably vile calumnies, and generally do whatever it deems useful to its aims, moral standards be damned. The other side strains to remain within the traditional standards of polite conduct, even to the extent of declining to give true coloration to the adversaries' words and deeds. The height of the madness is captured in this: left-liberals' slanders frequently include accusations that conservatives are doing what left-liberals have already done or are planning to do.
Religion has become a particular battleground. The Left has put its nominal atheism to the side to defend Islam, despite its exhortations to violence and oppression and the savagery of its most visible adherents. That's an outcome of leftist "othering," in which any enemy of American norms is immediately granted sanctuary within the Leftist fold. But Islam has sworn the destruction of its enemies -- Christianity and Judaism in particular -- and the Left, in support of its clients, has taken up cudgels against those faiths, while ceaselessly proclaiming that we whom it would destroy must be "tolerant of other faiths."
If you're familiar with the "Islamic Two-Step," this tactic should be familiar to you as well.
The spirit of the Great Commandments is generous beyond measure. As the angels who massed above Bethlehem sang, they proclaim peace on Earth and good will toward men -- all men. But the letter of the Law does not demand that Christians sit meekly and unresistingly before a campaign of annihilation.
Now for a snippet from the essay that I praised so highly in the opening segment:
The degradation of our culture has gone too far, and I’ve fucking had it....
This is the Progressive vision for the future, where fat and unhygienic is beautiful. This is a world in which John Scalzi is the pinnacle of writing talent, where Michael Moore is your script writer and Ben Kuchera is your journalist. Your State Department official is a moron who claims the unemployment numbers in Syria are largely responsible for global terrorism. Your own President cannot name who the terrorists are.
Utopia for Progressives is Hell on Earth, possibly worse than any the Bright One who Fell could think up. Your live entertainment will be based on vaginas. Your art is a Crucifix in a jar of piss, or period blood on canvas. Paul Krugman will be your personal banker, with every Western government worth mentioning so far in debt that the entire population could work for well over a year doing nothing but paying it, without coming close to discharging it....
I’m going to say two things in rapid succession, because, again, I’ve had it. My patience has been exceeded. The tank for tolerance is empty, it’s been running on fumes for years now.
I’m a Christian. Okay? And this is a remarkably unChristian thing for me to say, but if you don’t like it… to hell with you (I just realized this is a good pun). I’m tired of being Peter to the rest of the world and skirting the issue, denying it because it’s the fashionable, popular thing to do in a degenerate age, because it might mollify a gatekeeper lording over his own personal pile of waste. I encourage other Christians to do likewise. Proclaim it, loudly and proudly, and say “now what?” Yes, I DJ Industrial-Goth dance clubs, and I am a Christian. We’re everywhere, you know. And there are more of us than there are of them, even today.
Second, and I want to make this as abundantly clear as I possibly can with words, I’ve had enough of the destruction of Western Culture. Progressives have ruined all that is good and Holy on this planet. Wherever there is ugliness, you can be sure to find one of their ilk behind it. Not only do they loathe standards of conduct, beauty and comparison, they actively promote anti-standards. They deconstruct so far, they’ve tunneled straight through civilization and into barbarism, they are the men digging in the ground all the way to China.
They elevate diarrhea to fine wine, while pouring the good vintage down the drain. A beautiful woman in a bikini is an ugly demonstration of sexism, to them, instead of a wonderful example of femininity. A strong man is a patriarchal, heteronormative oppressor. The intellectual is a “mansplainer.”
When you next make use of the bathroom, know that your excrement, your bodily waste, is of higher value than anything they can produce. For at least that waste can become fertilizer for something greater. They are the snake, the worm, the voice of unreason. They are the Autumn People, the product of a century of spoiled children, rotten parenting and failing families. They are reared on garbage, educated by propagandists and coddled by elitist fucks living so far up the Ivory Tower they haven’t seen Terra Firma in their entire lives. Yet, as high up as they are, Dante knew their ilk well enough in the bottom rungs of Hell.
The garden is full of weeds, more wheels are squeaking for the greasing. Civilization is oinkin’ for the boinkin’ while politicians discuss the proper regulations for tree removal in my front yard.
Dystopic, you're my hero. I could not have said it better. Gentle Readers, please read the whole thing. Spread word of it far and wide.
A significant number of people look at me, probably because of my tirades here and elsewhere, as an authority of sorts: someone who can certify conclusions, award permissions, and pronounce absolution. In reality I'm nothing of the sort: just one more American with opinions he dares to set forth on the Web. I'm flattered by those who regard my reasoning as sound and my conclusions as important, but in reality the only thing that could make them important is if they were to become your reasoning and conclusions as well. If that's the case, I'm doubly flattered, but remember that it's you that made the critical difference.
All the same, in recognition of the exalted status I don't deserve, I hereby declare, ex cathedra from my bellybutton:
Dystopic has stated the case in the strongest possible terms. Perhaps some of you have already experienced what I did from Abe. Perhaps you've cringed before the larger syndrome Dystopic has so passionately denounced. Perhaps you've been wondering "is it time to take off the gloves?" I proclaim it so. Indeed, the time arrived some time ago.
They have placed themselves above the Law.
They are no longer entitled to the protection of its spirit.
Treat them as roughly as they treat you.
Leave them naked before the firehose of your contempt.
They have earned that and nothing more.
Have a nice day.