Saturday, April 30, 2016

Quickies: Racism? What Racism?

     By the au courant use of the term – especially on the Left – I am a racist, and an admitted one. That’s why I get a charge out of stories such as this one:

     A Rhodes Scholar and leader in a black activist group at Oxford University posted a Facebook status in which he boasts of stiffing a white waitress on a tip as revenge for colonialism.

     Ntokozo Qwabe hails from South Africa, and is studying at Oxford as the beneficiary of a full-ride scholarship created by 19th century British imperialist Cecil Rhodes. Despite this, Qwabe became a leader in the Rhodes Must Fall movement, which demands the removal of all memorials to Rhodes on Oxford’s campus. Qwabe claims that Rhodes was “as bad as Hitler” because of his support for the British Empire.

     Recently Qwabe returned to South Africa, where he visited a cafe with some friends. His own description on Facebook of what happened next is below:

     To cut the long story short, we are out at Obz Cafe with [a black non-binary transgender] activist, and the time for the bill comes. Our waitress is a white woman. I ask the said activist what the going rate for tips/gratuity is in these shores. They look at me very reluctantly and they say ‘give me the slip, I’ll sort that out’. I give them the slip.

     They take a pen & slip in a note where the gratuity/tip amount is supposed to be entered. The note reads in bold: “WE WILL GIVE TIP WHEN YOU RETURN THE LAND”. The waitress comes to us with a card machine for the bill to be sorted out. She sees the note & starts shaking. She leaves us & bursts into typical white tears (like why are you crying when all we’ve done is make a kind request? lol!).

     Note that this vicious-minded bastard who so gleefully abused a white woman for being white is enjoying a free education courtesy of a Rhodes Scholarship. What do you suppose this “leader” of the “Rhodes Must Fall” movement would say if that scholarship were to be retracted? That it’s “racist” to do so?

     It’s a struggle not to hate such persons. A lot of good people are slowly losing that struggle. What will follow will not be pretty.

Quickies: Political Betrayers

     Concerning Australia’s upcoming elections, the indispensable Joanne Nova expresses one of my own convictions:

     With an election likely for July 2nd, the hottest topic in Australian politics right now is how to vote. So put your best case forward here. Hammer this out. Will Turnbull promise anything to win back the Delcons — the angry conservatives? The time to ask is now, and if the Liberal base are not prepared to vote against him, they have nothing to negotiate.

     The elephant in 2016 is the ferocious boiling anger among betrayed conservatives and small government libertarians, divided over whether they can bear to vote for Turnbull (a Liberal*) who has been called the best leader the Labor Party never had. Delcons was tossed at the so-called “Delusional” Conservatives. But they took up the badge. Defcons means the Defiant ones.

     Right now, and since September, I’m a Delcon, like Tim Blair, Merv Bendle, and James Allan. Convince me otherwise. (We love you Miranda but you are wrong.)

     The issue: Is it better to vote for the lesser of two evils and hope a Turnbull-led party can be reformed after a win, or is it better to think long term, take the medicine and rebuild in opposition — and is there a realistic third choice?

     Winning at any cost is a loss. It’s a matter of principle. As long as Turnbull is in charge there will be no real alternative for conservative libertarians. If the “true liberal base” will put up with Turnbull and support power for Liberals regardless of principles then their vote is truly worth nothing. I’m not just talking about putting small parties or independents ahead of the Liberal candidate, but the nuclear option — sending the preferences to Labor, despite its ghastly policies [and Tanya Plibersek, says DavidE, who incidentally leans more to the Miranda-line].

     [A footnote: *Liberals? For foreigners, “liberal” in Australia still means something like a real liberal — a free-market, small-government player. In the US progressives stole the term and the silly Republicans let them misuse it.]

     Bravo! Election campaigns tend to promote personalities over policy. But policy is what matters – and as we saw from the Nixon, Bush I, and Bush II years, a self-styled “conservative” who, in defiance of his supposed principles, compromises with the Left’s agenda is actually worse than allowing the Left to have its way, undisguised and undecorated. It gives people the wrong things to react and rebel against.

     We wouldn’t have Obama or the Bernie Sanders movement today had three of the last five Republican presidents actually governed according to conservative principles. The GOP compounded the damage by nominating John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. Should the 2016 Republican National Convention repeat rather than repent its errors, there will no longer be any question what the party really values above all else.

Quickies: A Constitutional Army

     Via Doug Ross comes heartening news of a force mustering in defense our Second Amendment rights:

     As the federal government continues in its quest to restrict the rights of gun owners across the country, local law enforcement is stepping up their response.

     For many, it is one of a line in the sand against a bevy of agencies based in Washington, and partnering state agencies, who have violated the constitution.

     The still-growing Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), headed by former Sheriff Richard Mack, is standing up to these infringements, and saying no.

     Of course, it has the attention of the indoctrinated Big Government folks, who are apt to see a group of law enforcement officials standing up for the rule of law as – what else, a potential threat....

     Richard Mack, who successfully staved off federal encroachment at the Supreme Court level back in the 90s, described his CSPOA association as “the army to set our nation free.”

     The media has been quick to demonize the fiery rhetoric for these constitutional-minded members of law enforcement. But the battle is grounded in sound ideology, and a principle that literally millions of Americans are prepared to fight for.

     Indeed. As a character of mine put it:

     “Miss Weatherly,” he said with a note of regret, “I’m a lawyer. I was raised by a lawyer. He taught me to think of the law as our most precious possession. One of the questions he repeatedly insisted that I ponder was ‘What is the law?’ Not ‘What would I like the law to be,’ but ‘What is it really, and how do I know that’s what it is?’
     “My profession, sadly, has made a practice of twisting the law to its own ends. There aren’t many lawyers left who really care what the law is, as long as they can get the results they want, when they want them. So they play the angles, and collaborate with judges who think they’re black-robed gods, and generally do whatever they can get away with to get what they want, without a moment’s regard for what it does to the knowability of the law.
     “I care. I want to know what the law is, what it permits, requires, and forbids. I want my clients to know. And the only way to reach that result is to insist that the words of the law have exact meanings, not arbitrary, impermanent interpretations that can be changed by some supercilious cretin who thinks he can prescribe and proscribe for the rest of us.
     “The Constitution is the supreme law, the foundation for all other law. If it doesn’t mean exactly what its text says—the public meanings of the words as ordinary people understand them—then no one can possibly know what it means. But if no one can know what the Constitution means, then no one can know whether any other law conforms to it. At that point, all that matters is the will of whoever’s in power. And that’s an exact definition of tyranny.

     The members of the CSPOA understand that. God bless them.

Quickies: Romantic Travails Of The Rich And Famous

     We’ve all heard the jokes about “first world problems.” Well, above that category are the problems of mega-rich, mega-famous celebrities. For example, it’s one of today’s lighter news items that Jennifer Lawrence can’t get a date.

     Now, it’s one thing to just say “How sad” and return to your bagel. It’s another to take such a problem seriously and resolve to fix it, or at least understand it. And really, what else is a Certified Galactic Intellect for?

     So I decided to think through the possible reasons the beautiful, talented, and wealthy JLaw is unhappily unmated:

  1. Intimidation. Quite a lot of “regular” men would never dare to approach a major star like Jennifer Lawrence. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of the men in her “peer group” – i.e., other celebrities – are users and untrustworthy philandering assholes with vacuum for brains. Fame can do that to you.
  2. Exclusion. A celebrity is expected to spend his time in the company of other celebrities and their rich, powerful backers. That naturally limits Lawrence’s exposure to potential romantic candidates.
  3. Occupational conflicts. A good man will have a career of his own. How many such would be willing to abandon their careers for a shot at the affections of a celebrity? Celebrities are notoriously flighty, which is part of the reason most celebrity romances are brief and go down in flames. That’s what made Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward so noteworthy.
  4. Nastiness. Celebrities often express themselves with no thought for the consequences. Lawrence has done that at least twice: once on Christians, the other time on “equal pay for women.” Many a good man would immediately recoil from her: first because she’d condemned three-fourths of the country on the basis of her narrow exposure; second because she allows herself opinions on subjects about which she knows nothing.
  5. Other personality quirks. Jennifer Lawrence is widely celebrated for her “quirky” personality. To many men, that presents the appearance of instability. Instability is a highly undesirable trait in a lover or spouse, no matter what other assets she might bring to the match. I’m here to tell you.

     Well, she does like dogs and guns. Maybe you should spend more time at animal shelters and shooting ranges, Jennifer. I’ve met some very nice people there. Or maybe try going to church. Perhaps at a Catholic parish, if you can find one in Tinsel Town where Catholicism is actually practiced. I understand that’s getting to be rather difficult, but you could consult Jim Caviezel for a suggestion.

Quickies: Politics And Faith

     The supposed “wall of separation” between religion and government of which Thomas Jefferson wrote is about as badly understood as the epicycles of Ptolemy. It occurred to me a little earlier that it deserves a few words of explanation...and believe it or not, a few words are all it needs.

     The Constitutional aspects repose in two brief passages:

  1. Article VI, Section 3: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
  2. Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

     There are no other mentions of religion, faith, or anything associated with them in the Constitution. But it’s the substantive aspects of American governance, rather than the clauses above, that have occasioned the Sturm und Drang.

     Consider a topic more intimately associated with religious beliefs than nearly any other: abortion. Just now, it’s legal in all American jurisdictions, essentially without regulation or restrictions. Many of those who oppose this do so on the basis of their religious faiths, which abortion’s supporters condemn as an attempt to breach the “separation of church and state.” In truth, it’s nothing of the sort...but if the United States were a different sort of polity, perhaps an absolute hereditary monarchy, the story might be different.

     Were Congress to approve any of the suggested “human life” amendments restricting or completely banning abortion, and were the legislatures of thirty-seven or more states to ratify it, some or all abortions would no longer be legal – not for any religious reason, but because a wholly secular process had amended the Constitution. As the legislators in Congress and the state legislatures didn’t need to face a “religious test,” there would be no case for claiming that the “wall of separation” had been breached.

     Now imagine that the president had seized the unbounded and unreviewable powers of an absolute monarch. Were such a president to decree that abortion shall henceforth be equivalent to murder, there would be questions about his motives for doing so. Were he to state explicitly that it was “God’s will” that it be so, that would be a plain and open insertion of a religious faith – i.e., that of the President – into American governance. Indeed, all an absolute autocrat’s decrees could be questioned on that basis, for the “legislative process” would be confined to the inside of his skull. Were we to permit such an autocracy, we would have no recourse except assassination.

     The Constitution isn’t perfect; nothing human is. But by defining a secular legislative process rich with provisions for correction and revision, it escapes the sort of Deus vult “legislation” which the subjects of a theocracy must endure. In this and only this lies the “separation of church and state” – a genuinely valuable aspect of our polity, as the wretched ones of many an Islamic hellhole would tell you, if they could.

Quick guide to demonstration attendance.

You should not be at a "demonstration" where:
  • there are lots of Mexican flags,
  • there are lots of Mexican illegals,
  • people are trashing automobiles,
  • people are wearing masks and hoodies,
  • there's a drumming circle with at least one overweight lesbian,
  • there are men with beautiful pony tails on your side of the police barricades,
  • "transsexuals" spit on people they are debating,
  • people are six inches away from police lines and cursing the police,
  • there's a Black Lives Matter contingent,
  • your purpose is to forcibly stop someone else from exercising free speech,
  • your own speech is what might charitably be called incoherent,
  • you arrived on a bus and you don't know who paid for your ticket,
  • George Soros is involved in any way, and/or
  • you agree with organizers that America should be the dumping ground for every ignorant, parasitic, or criminal third-world person who wants to take a job from an American.
If any of these apply to the demonstration you're at, your judgment, decency, or patriotism are questionable.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Quickies: Everywhere == Nowhere Redux

     Remember this essay?

That which is everywhere is banal.

     It’s impossible to maintain one’s interest in something that omnipresently beats one over the head, screaming “Look at me!” from every vertical plane. The mind learns to tune it out for reasons of sheer survival, especially in a crowded, hypercompetitive environment. That this is possible even with the sex drive and the associated reproductive imperative is only slightly more surprising than the well-known indifference of candy-factory workers to candy.

     Japan might still have the lead in that “race,” but it’s possible that America’s sex-saturated culture is catching up:

     The birthrate among American teenagers, at crisis levels in the 1990s, has fallen to an all-time low, according to an analysis released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention....

     ...teens -- despite their portrayal in popular TV and movies as uninhibited and acting only on hormones -- are having less sex.

     "There has been a change in social norms that has happened in the past 20 years, and the idea of not having sex or delaying sex is now something that can be okay," said Bill Albert, chief program officer for the National Campaign To Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

     Talk about ambivalent news! I don’t know whether to be happy about the decline in abortions and unwed mothers, or to fear that America, like Japan, is about to enter irreversible demographic decline. I do know that our media have gone about as far as the FCC will allow them to go in presenting us with sex-laced entertainment. Must we back away from the beauties on our 16:9 screens to get this job done? Or is that too terrible a sacrifice to contemplate? Don’t glance at your spouse as you answer that.

     Come on, people! The future you don’t want to engender is depending on you. Get out there and screw like minks!

     (No, that doesn’t mean “do it while wearing fur coats.” In a few weeks it’ll be too hot for that anyway.)

Friday Frivolities

     1. Hug Your Dog!

     Human psychologist Stanley Coren may regret ever having written this:

     Dogs are technically cursorial animals, which is a term that indicates that they are designed for swift running. That implies that in times of stress or threat the first line of defense that a dog uses is not his teeth, but rather his ability to run away. Behaviorists believe that depriving a dog of that course of action by immobilizing him with a hug can increase his stress level and, if the dog's anxiety becomes significantly intense, he may bite. For that reason, certain websites, which try to educate children and parents in order to reduce the incidence of dog bites (such as Doggone Safe), make a point about teaching children that they should not hug dogs. Furthermore, a few years back when a children's book entitled "Smooch Your Pooch" recommended that kids hug and kiss their dog anytime and anywhere, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) felt that it was necessary for them to release an official statement that strongly advised parents to avoid purchasing the book, since "this information can cause children to be bitten."

     Cursorial animals? Okay, that’s how they started out. But millennia of commensality and companionship with humans just might have changed the equation a bit:

     "This is interesting preliminary data which might serve as a good starting point for a formal study. But it's important to note that (to my knowledge) this is not a peer-reviewed empirical paper so I would caution against any firm conclusions before the work can go through this important part of the scientific process," Evan MacLean, co-director of Duke's Canine Cognition Center, wrote in an email to The Washington Post.

     For a rebuttal to Coren's op-ed, Mashable has taken the liberty of also looking around the Internet for dogs hugging. To our astonishment, we found some very different results.

     Have you hugged your dog today?

     Enjoy the pictures in that latter article. I did. And being the owner of a Newfoundland and a German Shepherd mix, both of whom frequently demand to be hugged, I would find it difficult to subscribe to Coren’s position.


     2. Follow Your Dreams!

     Dystopic has this to say about that:

     Youtube commercials are hilarious. They constantly go on about your “dreams” as if some marketer from a New York ad agency knows your “dreams” better than you do.

     “Finance your dream home.” Says one.

     Well, commercials can be like that. The ones that really amuse me are the ones that tell me that “you deserve” whatever they’re hawking. My immediate reaction is “Really? Did you ask my wife?” But Dystopic has a better one-up:

     If you said “It’s time to finance your dream home… IN SPACE” you might actually get my attention instead of my disdain.

     Indeed. I might even go for that, given how badly my knees are creaking.


     3. Hugo Award Stuff.

     A gratifying number of non-SF and fantasy readers wrote complimentary things to me about yesterday’s piece. Apparently the colonization of our cultural space by “social-justice warriors” has pissed off enough people to register even in a relatively sectarian matter such as this.

     For those who can’t quite believe that the war is as intense as I’ve stated, The Arts Mechanical has a copious roundup of reactions from the SJWs.

     On a related subject: Have you noticed the upsurge in the depiction of black-white and homosexual romances in prime-time TV dramas? One of them, Blindspot, features one of each. For lagniappe, the homosexual romance is between a pair of black lesbians. My, my!


     4. Words Fail Me.

     By way of Stephen Green at Instapundit comes the most absurd, self-centered demand for an accommodation I’ve ever seen: a demand for “maternity leave” without the terrible bother and burden of having a child:

     And as I watched my friends take their real maternity leaves, I saw that spending three months detached from their desks made them much more sure of themselves. One friend made the decision to leave her corporate career to create her own business; another decided to switch industries. From the outside, it seemed like those few weeks of them shifting their focus to something other than their jobs gave them a whole new lens through which to see their lives.

     While both men and women would benefit from a “meternity” leave after a decade or so in the workforce, the concept is one that would be especially advantageous for women. Burnout syndrome is well-documented in both sexes, but recent research suggests that women may experience it at greater rates; researchers postulate that it’s because women (moms and non-moms alike) feel overloaded by the roles they have to take on at work and at home.

     Bottom line: Women are bad at putting ourselves first. But when you have a child, you learn how to self-advocate to put the needs of your family first. A well-crafted “meternity” can give you the same skills — and taking one shouldn’t disqualify you from taking maternity leave later.

     This...person is in her thirties? Yet she needs several months away from her job so she can have “a whole new lens through which to see her life” -- ?

     Unfortunately, in our current sociopolitical climate demands of this sort get more respect than they should. The only proper response to such a claim of privilege is “If you’re not joking, you’re too immature and self-absorbed to work here. Either put your ass back in your seat or pack up your personal effects. I’ll have Accounting cut your final check.”


     5. No Safety? Really?

     I’m far from knowledgeable about handguns, so when I got interested in acquiring one I solicited the opinions of several persons of greater expertise. I heard quite a lot of praise of Glock. One colleague said he’d buy anything Glock offers. What I didn’t hear about was the rate of accidental fire incidents with Glocks...until I encountered the following:

     No safety? NO SAFETY?!?! Given the power of the “Safety Nazis” (see this article by P.J. O’Rourke), I’m surprised Glocks can legally be sold in the United States.

     The really surprising part, though, was the fanaticism of the Glock enthusiasts. Check out the comments to Wild Bill’s video for some priceless examples.


     6. Whys And Wherefores

     Now and then, a Gentle Reader will write to ask why I’ve produced this or that piece – or this or that kind of piece. What stimulates and shapes them? Mostly it’s whatever’s in the news, which I sweep through twice each day. But sometimes it’s pure whimsy: the need to depart from my habitual track – not to say rut – in search of something refreshing. These assorted pieces are an example of such.

     That’s also one of the reasons I’m trying to write a romance novel. Not the only one, though. Quite recently, after reading a recommendation for it at Dustbury, I picked up Heather Grace Stewart’s short romantic comedy Strangely, Incredibly Good at Amazon, and was thoroughly charmed by it. It’s funny, original, and endearing...and it got me to ask myself “Could I write something like that?”

     I’ve penned several short-story-length romances, but up to recently I’d resisted attempting novel length for reasons I can’t quite articulate. However, I’m finding the attempt both challenging and refreshing...which I suppose stands to reason for a writer whose other stuff tends toward heavy sociopolitical themes.

     We shall see. Meanwhile, enjoy your Friday. And remember, Toes Go In First!

Monetary stupidity and the financial system's unwillingness to make healthy reforms.

In other words, central banks and planners have generated enormous bubbles in debt, housing and stocks to maintain the illusion that doing more of what failed spectacularly will actually fix what's broken. This is crazy, because these policies are what's broken. All these massive interventions and manipulations are driving the system off the cliff.

* * * *

Here is the craziness: nothing has actually been fixed in the past 7 years. Rather, everything that was broken in 2008 has been ramped up to an even higher levels of craziness. The crazy solution to bursting housing bubbles is even bigger housing bubbles (see Sweden, China and the U.S.).[1]

Mr. Smith points out that the "Swiss central bank admitted to spending $470 billion on currency market manipulation since 2010." That's an enormous amount of money for a very small country to spend. That has to be an expenditure coming under the heading of desperation measures and something far removed from any kind of long-term productive purpose.

Notes
[1] "Is the World Getting Crazier, But We No Longer Notice?" By Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds, 4/29/16.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Quickies: Incredible Surprises Dept.

     As is well known, this year’s Republican National Convention will be held in Cleveland, Ohio. As is equally well known, the Huffington Post has its little ways. One of them is to blame everyone to the right of Karl Marx for any unfortunate event – even if it hasn’t happened yet:

     The city of Cleveland, which will host the Republican National Convention this July, will spend $1.5 million on an insurance broker to find a policy which covers potential lawsuits related to police conduct for the event, according to Cleveland.com. The website is calling it “protest insurance” — although more technically it’s known as law enforcement professional liability insurance.

     “There’s such a huge range of things that can happen when you have that many people with so many different viewpoints together in a city,” said Christine Link, the executive director of the Ohio ACLU. She noted Cleveland is expecting between 50,000 and 75,000 extra people in its downtown area during the upcoming convention.

     This convention is no run-of-the-mill event, either. Currently, no GOP primary candidate has secured enough delegates to sail through the nomination process, and there is such resistance to Donald Trump’s candidacy within the party that there’s lots of talk about a potential contested convention. That means not only will there be the protesters you normally see at any political event, but there could be protesters from separate factions of the Republican Party itself....

     “Nerves are on edge because of the possibility of a contested convention,” Robert Hartwig, the president of the Insurance Information Institute, told The Huffington Post. “It could cause tempers to flare on the parts of various parties. Any good risk management program is now contemplating that possibility.”

     So it would be Republicans fomenting violence? That’s doubtful, to say the least. It’s rather more likely that, should violence ensue, it would be precipitated by the Left: Black Lives Matter, Occupy, some of Bill Ayers’s admirers, or any of the many fringe loonies who’ve suggested that Trump, Cruz, or others deserve to die.

     Mind you, violence might not ensue. But just in case, the Huffington Post wants its readers to know that it will be the fault of the GOP. Imagine that. Say, where's the Democrat National Convention being held? Philadelphia, isn’t it? Where the Knockout Game is played by so many enthusiastic young’uns? Do you suppose Philly is bracing for convention-related violence? Or would it be so lost in the routine pattern of the City of Brotherly Love that the authorities would fail to notice?

Wrapper And Product

     Everything in the universe is either packaging, big toys, or meat – From a lapel button

     The above might seem mildly disputable – how does one play with a star? – but all the same it expresses an important truth: we “meat folks” are forever unwrapping layers of packaging from the products within them. Sometimes the process is simple and painless; at other times, there are contusions, abrasions, lacerations, and much profanity.

     Packaging and its significance are as evident in the field of ideas as in consumer items. It is a truth too obvious for words – nevertheless, words will be used – that you cannot express an idea without some sort of “wrapper.” The most successful polemicists known to history have also been skillful “packagers.” The very best of them learned to make the “package” as valuable as the “product,” such that it was possible to enjoy the “package” – typically, a story or other form of entertainment – even for those who reject the “product” – the ideas enclosed within it.

     Consider, among the great fabulists of the century behind us, the late Robert A. Heinlein. Virtually everyone who’s read his stuff agrees on his skill as a storyteller and entertainer. Yet not all of those who admire his gifts agree with his libertarian-conservative sociopolitical outlook, which was evident in virtually everything he wrote. He was so good a storyteller that it was possible to spurn the “product” and “play with the box” instead.

     By contrast, many contemporary writers, in every genre, have adopted the stance that all that matters is the “product:” the specific ideas they mean to promote. Some pay a modicum of attention to the “packaging;” others, more heavy-handed, give it comparatively short shrift. Their readers had better get full value out of the “product,” because the “wrapper” is little or no fun.

     It is noteworthy that those “product is all” writers are almost uniformly on the political left – mostly the extreme left. Equally noteworthy, they’ve striven to dominate publishing in its entirety – to exclude from the field anyone who differs with their opinions – as well as the various awards given out for works of fiction. And they’ve largely achieved that aim.

     In one field at least, the “speculative” genres of science fiction and fantasy, there’s been a reaction against them. They don’t like it. And they’re determined that we shall not pass.


     Any longtime Gentle Reader of Liberty’s Torch will already be familiar with the “Sad Puppies” controversy. For those who are unfamiliar: This whimsical name was adopted by a small group of SF and fantasy writers, notable among them Larry Correia and Brad Torgerson, as a label for a counter-movement to the blatant politicization of their field at the expense of good storytelling. Their counter-movement consisted of an attempt to open the venerable Hugo Awards process to a wider range of nominees: nothing more, nothing less. They, and those who have succeeded them as Sad Puppies organizers, merely requested that readers interested in the awards process pay the registration fee that empowers one to nominate for a Hugo, and to submit the titles, writers, and editors they deem worthy: again, no more, no less. For four consecutive years, this has resulted in a list of suggested nominees, which the organizers urged interested parties to read, evaluate, and thereafter consider for nomination: for the third time, no more and no less.

     Last year, works aggregated by the Sad Puppies 3 campaign were heavily represented among Hugo Awards nominees. This year, they and the allied but distinct “Rabid Puppies” campaign run by Theodore “Vox Day” Beale, have run the table:

  • Of the sixteen categories of awards, ten sets of nominees consist entirely of SP or RP suggestions.
  • Of the other six, only one – “Best Editor, Short Form” – is not composed of a majority of SP and RP suggestions. Even in that category, two of the five nominees are SP and RP suggestions.
  • The nominees that were suggested by the SP and RP campaigns constitute a broad spectrum of the sexes, races, and political orientations.

     Of course, the “social justice warriors” who have previously contrived to dominate the awards process are apoplectic over it. Last year, they managed by “bloc voting” to exclude SP and RP nominees from the awards, giving “No Award” in the five categories that consisted entirely of SP and RP suggestions. What they’ll do this year, we shall soon see.


     I write fiction as well as these endless op-eds. I have a “product” – freedom and Christian values and ethics – that’s “wrapped” in every story or novel I write. That’s the outcome of my personal sensibility. I can’t not embed those things in what I write. They inevitably animate my heroes and heroines. But I put entertainment value above all other things; I insist that the story be a good one by my standards: important, absorbing, and capable of surprising the reader. Needless to say, a “social justice warrior” who deems the ideas emphasized to be the one and only point of a story would spurn my “product” regardless of its “wrapper.” A few have written to tell me so.

     That’s part and parcel of their sensibility. To an SJW, entertainment as such is valueless; its sole function is to promulgate ideas – and they must be the sort of ideas the SJWs approve. I wrote about this last year:

     Fun – that which we strive to attain through the “play impulse” – is one of the keys to a successful life. C. S. Lewis noted its importance in The Screwtape Letters:
I divide the causes of human laughter into Joy, Fun, the Joke Proper, and Flippancy. You will see the first among friends and lovers reunited on the eve of a holiday. Among adults some pretext in the way of Jokes is usually provided, but the facility with which the smallest witticisms produce laughter at such a time shows that they are not the real cause. What that real cause is we do not know. Something like it is expressed in much of that detestable art which the humans call Music, and something like it occurs in Heaven—a meaningless acceleration in the rhythm of celestial experience, quite opaque to us. Laughter of this kind does us no good and should always be discouraged. Besides, the phenomenon is of itself disgusting and a direct insult to the realism, dignity, and austerity of Hell.

Fun is closely related to Joy—a sort of emotional froth arising from the play instinct. It is very little use to us. It can sometimes be used, of course, to divert humans from something else which the Enemy would like them to be feeling or doing: but in itself it has wholly undesirable tendencies; it promotes charity, courage, contentment, and many other evils.

We play – i.e., we engage in activities that have no deliberate gain in view – specifically because it’s fun. It comes naturally to us to do so, especially when in the company of those we love. One of the great quantitative differences between America and other nations is the fraction of our resources we have available for play. It could justly be said that Americans are the world’s foremost players – no pejorative intended.

Americans are so fun-oriented that we devote whole industries to it, most emphatically including the video gaming industry. We even seek to make our work lives fun, to the extent that might be possible. My favorite source of business advice, Robert C. Townsend, put it this way:

If you don’t do it excellently, don’t do it at all. Because if it’s not excellent it won’t be profitable or fun, and if you’re not in business for fun or profit, what the hell are you doing here?

     Note the contrast this makes with the SJW attitude:

     In this connection, ponder well this essay on the Sturm und Drang besetting the video gaming community. Take particular note of the following highly revealing snippet:
[W]hile watching a video about GamerGate, I clicked on a link to an archive of one of the original articles, “A Guide To Ending Gamers” by Devin Wilson at Gamasutra....

I was scrolling down through the article’s list of strategies for eliminating gamers, trying to keep an open mind, and actually thinking there were one or two somewhat valid points. Then I got to item #11:

We stop upholding “fun” as the universal, ultimate criterion for a game’s relevance. It’s a meaningless ideal at best and a poisonous priority at worst. Fun is a neurological trick. Plenty of categorically unhealthy things are “fun”. Let’s try for something more. Many of the alternatives will have similarly fuzzy definitions, but let’s aspire to qualities like “edifying”, “healing”, “pro-social”, or even “enlightening”. I encourage you to decide upon your own alternatives to “fun” in games (while avoiding terms like “cool” and “awesome” and any other word that simply caters to existing, unexamined biases).

     Clearly, never the twain shall meet.


     The message from this year's Hugo nominations could hardly be clearer: the “wrapper” matters. No matter what “product” you’re trying to “sell,” it must be packaged attractively. Thousands of readers of SF and fantasy have poured into the nominations process to state their opinions, and in so doing have made the awards meaningful as awards for fiction for the first time in many a year.

     To sum up: You write, and you’re politically to the Left? That’s your business. Please try to entertain us. Otherwise, your idea won’t get any traction. It’s really quite simple. If you insist that your ideas are all that matter, and slough the work of entertaining us while you vend them, you won’t close the sale. That you should turn from that to castigate us for preferring entertainment, whatever ideas it’s wrapped around, to your naked polemics only reinforces the pity we feel for you...which will, doubt it not, be reflected in your sales.

     Other articles relevant to this subject:

     All are excellent food for thought.

Pearls of expression.

√Čric Zemmour on Pope Francis's decision to take some Syrian Muslim families back to Rome with him from Lesbos but to leave some Christian families behind:
The Pope explains to us, not without a touch of irony, that the Christian families who were presented to him did not have their papers in order. We didn't know that divine mercy was so legalistic. Or should we understand that religion matters little to him? That the Christian father has crossed Europe off?
"Abandoning Europe to Islam." By Tiberge, GalliaWatch, 4/27/16.

In thrall to hideous Wahhabism.

The Saudi lobby is a vast public relations machine, well-oiled with money and top-heavy with Washington insiders. Former Senator Norm Coleman, who headed up the American Action Fund – a major “dark money”conduit to GOP campaigns – and is now backing Ted Cruz is on the Saudi payroll. .

On the other side of the partisan divide, the Clinton Foundation is the recipient of Saudi money and the Podesta Group, a major Democratic party public relations firm, is on retainer to the Kingdom. Tony Podesta, founder of the firm, is a longtime supporter of Hillary Clinton.[1]

Mr. Raimondo's piece is about more than just Saudi influence and he finishes with the question on most every ordinary American's lips:
This is the price we pay for empire: interventionism is a two-way street. We send the Marines to foreign lands – and they send their lobbyists to Washington. Our overseas client-states have every interest in maintaining the level of financial and military support that flows out to them, and it’s no surprise that they’re fighting to retain it. The question is: are the American people finally beginning to realize that their overseas empire is a burden rather than a boon? The Fifth Estate is looking out for Number One – but who is looking out for the American people?[2]
There's much more in Mr. Raimondo's illuminating article on how foreign lobbyists distort the American political process. Highly recommended.

Notes
[1] "The Fifth Estate: Foreign Lobbyists." By Justin Raimondo, Antiwar.com, 4/22/16.
[2] Id. Emphasis added.

ADDENDUM 4/28/16:

"When Media Shill For Saudi Money." Moon of Alabama, 4/21/16.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Quickies: These Puppies Have Staying Power And Teeth

     You might not be interested as a matter of the entertainment you prefer...but you’ve got to be interested in the cultural associations:

     For the second year in a row, nominations for the prestigious Hugo Awards for science fiction & fantasy have been swept by the Sad Puppies & Rabid Puppies, two groups of authors and fans who oppose left-wing domination of the community.

     The Sad Puppies were formed in 2013 by bestselling author Larry Correia, amidst growing domination of the Hugo Awards by left-wing cliques — who, in 2012, successfully agitated for the cancellation of an appearance by British comedian Jonathan Ross at the awards due to fears that the entertainer might make a “fat-shaming” joke.

     Correia, along with a number of other conservative and libertarian-leaning authors, contended that a large chunk of Hugo voters voted on the basis of authors’ personal political beliefs rather than the quality of their writing. The Sad Puppies aimed to change that, by nominating authors on the basis of perceived quality rather than perceived politics. The Puppies have a particular opposition to “message fiction” — works that are primarily intended to convey a political message rather than tell a good story.

     That the Puppies have remained engaged is very much to their credit...but I seriously doubt that the “social-justice warriors” who predominate at Worldcon 2016 will react otherwise than they did at Worldcon 2015:

     No doubt my Gentle Readers have noticed that three of the pieces linked in the post below are about the 2015 Hugo Awards and the huge foofaurauw that’s surrounded them for some weeks. The contretemps has concluded with a shameful display of petty spite as the “social justice warriors” banded together to ensure that no work, writer, or editor on the Sad Puppies’ nominations list would receive a Hugo. To this end, “No Award” dominated an unprecedented five categories – those categories in which all the nominees appeared on the Sad Puppies’ slate. Moreover, this year’s award winners have all been marked with an asterisk.

     What the Puppies’ persistence has demonstrated – “right out in front of God and everybody,” as the saying goes – is the SJWs’ insistence on excluding those who won’t toe their social and political line. This is consistent with a previous observation of mine:

Organizations are magnets for those who want power over others. They who desire power above all other things will eventually get it. After they have it, they’ll do whatever it takes to ensure that it cannot be taken from them.

     Never doubt this. Consider the recent case of ESPN’s firing of Curt Schilling -- an organization that has modest influence over a relatively narrowly focused audience – and ponder the implications.

How It’s Done Dept.

     In this installment of the “How It’s Done” series, Liberty’s Torch presents some examples not of “how it’s done by you,” but of “how it’s done to you.”

     First, a brief video by John Stossel about his attempt to get a concealed-carry permit...in New York City:

     Please watch it in its entirety before proceeding to the next segment, especially if you don’t live in the Big Apple or another large city with draconian anti-gun laws.


     If you did as I asked above, you’re now familiar with one large American city’s method for overruling, de facto, the Heller and McDonald decisions that established as a matter of Constitutional law the individual’s right to keep and bear arms. Other firearms-hostile districts use other techniques, but the intent is always the same: to erect as high a barrier as possible between the law-abiding citizen and his rights. Note that criminals don’t bother their heads about the legalities of firearms ownership – and that all such districts are dominated by Democrat regimes.

     Now let’s proceed to the great state of Michigan, one of the few where the residents are fairly easygoing about firearms...or were:

     School officials at KRESA West Campus in Kalamazoo, MI locked the campus down when a 4-year-old student’s father legally open carried his gun on campus. But when classes resumed, officials continued to lock down the daughter of the law-abiding gun owner, transferring the rest of the students to another class on a different campus – leaving her alone.

     The little girl’s mother says her husband just wants to protect their daughter, and neither he nor she should be punished for that since he was acting within the law.

     WWMT reports:

     Jamie Warren’s 4-year-old daughter looks forward to a music class at KRESA’s West Campus–a class parents are required to attend.

     Warren’s husband sat in on the class.

     “I think he attended two or three sessions before anyone noticed that he was carrying a gun,” she said.

     By law, Warren’s husband can open carry his gun.

     He didn’t want to go on camera, but Warren says its for the protection of their little girl.

     Charming, eh? The “authorities” couldn’t pressure the father out of exercising his rights, so they shifted their focus to his defenseless daughter. Wisely, her parents pulled her out of that snake pit. But sadly, most “educational institutions” – why yes, I do have a key labeled “sneer quotes!” – have the same attitude toward firearms. They’ll do whatever they can to discourage them...even if that involves tormenting a defenseless four-year-old girl.

     That’s not all, Gentle Reader. We’re just warming up.


     An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, the power to destroy. – Daniel Webster

     If you think New York City’s $430 exaction for a carry permit is severe, wait until you read what exercising your rights will cost you in the Mariana Islands:

     The Mariana Islands are a US controlled territory often forgotten, but now they have everyone’s attention. This small set of islands far off in the Pacific ocean passed a Senate Bill which is drawing a lot of criticism. As of April 11th, all new handgun sales are subject to a $1,000.00 tax. The governor of the islands, Ralph Torres, has since defended his position on passing the bill, and even suggested that this could be a model for others (referring to states in the U.S.)....

     An immediate thought is that this is an act of gun control. This is not far from the truth. Governor Torres is essentially trying to legislate what economic classes can purchase handguns under the veil of creating “safer communities.” Sadly, disarming law abiding citizens has never slowed criminals, but only gives them free range knowing people have less means to defend themselves.

     Where, in such a place, is the settled principle of American law that a tax or fee must have revenue as its primary purpose – that it may not be used as a backdoor prohibition of something that’s entirely legal?

     A brilliant friend of mine once propounded the following scenario: “Imagine that the police have come to your house. Though they have neither a warrant nor “probable cause,” they intend to perform a search of your home for unspecified items. You protest this invasion of your rights, whereupon the detachment commander says ‘Just give us $100.00 and we’ll let you be.’”

     If the police could do that, would Americans possess a true right to “be secure in their person, houses, papers, and effects?” Or would it be something the “authorities” could arbitrarily grant or withhold on payment of a “fee?”


     Now that we’ve seen the lengths to which the “authorities” will go to keep you from bearing arms, let’s have a quick look at what the “public” bearers of arms are allowed to do:

     Eh Wah had been on the road for 12 hours when he saw the flashing lights in his rearview mirror.

     The 40-year-old Texas man, a refugee from Myanmar who became a US citizen more than a decade ago, was heading home to Dallas to check on his family.

     He was on a break from touring the country for months as a volunteer manager for the Klo & Kweh Music Team, a Christian rock ensemble from Myanmar. The group was touring the US to raise funds for a Christian college in Myanmar and an orphanage in Thailand.

     Eh Wah managed the band's finances, holding on to the cash proceeds it raised from ticket and merchandise sales at concerts. By the time he was stopped in Oklahoma, the band had held concerts in 19 cities across the United States, raising money via tickets that sold for US$10 to US$20 each.

     The sheriff's deputies in Muskogee County, Oklahoma, pulled Eh Wah over for a broken tail light about 6.30pm on Feb 27. The deputies started asking questions – a lot of them. And at some point, they brought out a drug-sniffing dog.

     That's when they found the cash, according to the deputy's affidavit.

     Eh Wah was carrying $53,000 in proceeds from his fundraising tour. You can probably guess what happened next:

     The officers ended up taking all of the money – all US$53,249 of it. "Possession of drug proceeds," the property receipt reads.

     But they let Eh Wah go. They didn't charge him with a crime that night, instead sending him back on the road about 12.30am, with the broken tail light.

     The article – yes, it’s from a New Zealand publication. Strange that you’re reading about it for the first time, isn’t it? – says that “the officers didn't like Eh Wah's explanation for how he got the cash.” I rather doubt that. I doubt, once they found the money, that any explanation would have satisfied them. $53,000 is what our less savory citizens call “a nice haul”...and you may be sure that the Muskogee County police will do everything short of mass murder to keep it.

     Plainly, men with badges and guns have “rights” that a peaceable private citizen does not.


     “Liberals” don’t really believe in rights. No, not even the right to free expression. Hillary Clinton wants to rewrite the First Amendment, basically gutting it of its protections. Others on the Left might not want to wait that long:

     Americans who value freedom should find the prospects of a Clinton and a Perez presidency equally chilling. Clinton and [Secretary of Labor Tom] Perez have a shared distaste for freedom of speech: Hillary’s implicit but unmistakable opposition has been abundantly documented, whereas Perez’s distaste for the First Amendment seems even starker. In July 2012, Perez -- then the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, was asked by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ):
     Will you tell us here today that this administration’s Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion?

     Perez could have simply answered yes, and maybe even cited the First Amendment. Instead, Perez refused to answer the question directly. Franks persisted, ultimately asking it four times.

     Perez at one point responded that it was a “hard question.” He simply refused to affirm that the Obama Justice Department would not attempt to criminalize criticism of Islam.

     As it turned out, the DOJ didn’t need to -- due to Hillary Clinton’s advice. Clinton called for Americans to embrace “old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.”

     The mainstream media now marches in lockstep on this issue. Most Americans are too cowed to speak out against the advancing jihad and the accommodation of Sharia principles that are inimical to American freedoms, as they are afraid of being branded as “racists,” “bigots,” and “Islamophobes.” A Clinton-inspired culture of “peer pressure and shaming” is working beautifully to intimidate Americans. Many simply have adopted her values, now believing it’s morally unacceptable to oppose jihad terror and to speak honestly about its ideological wellsprings.

     President Hillary Clinton -- or President Thomas Perez -- would only continue this trend, working to restrict the freedom of speech even further. Perhaps they would do away with their equivocating over the First Amendment and actually attempt to enshrine in law that disturbing yet increasingly popular slogan: “Hate speech is not free speech.”

     The authority given the power to determine what constitutes hate speech would wield tyrannical control over the rest of us, able to work its will unopposed by criminalizing dissent.

     Don’t imagine for a moment that “the power to determine what constitutes hate speech” would be any safer in the hands of conservatives.


     A lot of people in the Right have been talking about sitting out the presidential election. I can understand the impulse; if it should be Trump against Clinton in November, I’d be parroting David Letterman’s bon mot from a few years back: “What a pity it is that both these fine candidates can’t lose.” But there would be severe consequences to a Clinton regime. Think about the prospect of three Clinton appointees to the Supreme Court, for starters.

     There’s no hope in a third party. There’s no hope in state-by-state “nullification.” There’s no hope in protest movements. Should the Left prolong its grip on Washington, there would be no hope other than a successful violent revolution that, miraculously and against all precedent, succeeds in restoring the Constitutional constraints on government. The odds...well, let’s just say I’d rather squander my savings on lottery tickets.

     To preserve even the slightest chance of retaining even the shreds of our traditional rights, we must stay engaged. Indeed, precipitating as many of us as they can into disengagement is another example of “how it’s done to us.” The tyrants, the intolerant, and the tax-suckers never, ever disengage. They gain power to the extent that decent people do so.

     I plan to start practicing “holding my nose.” I do plan to continue breathing...until Election Day is behind us, at least. Your decisions are for you to make – and to live with.

Air Force airspace penetration deficiencies.

Pretty interesting stuff:
The combination of threat development, neglect of electronic warfare and an overcommittment to stealth should throw the Air Force’s ability to penetrate well-defended airspace into question. There is a way for the Air Force to regain its penetration capability, but it will require recognition that the all-stealth philosophy has been technologically outmaneuvered. The Air Force cannot spend its way out of this problem with the F-35; the aircraft’s design parameters were designed for a less-advanced threat environment that has instead outstripped the JSF’s development. Instead of putting the entire tactical airpower portfolio at the mercy of one aircraft, the service should make an effort to restore long-dormant capabilities and re-invest in readiness, training, and electronic warfare. The Air Force should buy back its EC triad and recommit to low-altitude operations.
"Low-Altitude Penetration and Electronic Warfare: Stuck on Denial, Part III." By Mike Pietrucha, War on the Rocks, 4/25/16.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Quickies: An Uncomfortable Truth

     We all know about Al Gore’s fraudulent An Inconvenient Truth, right? A “documentary” that contains fewer actual facts per frame than any “documentary” not produced and directed by Michael Moore – so fraudulent that it was thrown out of English classrooms by judicial decree. Well, Gentle Reader, any man – meant to designate a member of the male sex this time -- who dispassionately studies the history of the First World over the past five decades is likely to arrive at an uncomfortable truth:

     The female of our species has a biological purpose. That’s to find a suitable mate, bear children and raise them to sexual maturity. That’s nature’s assignment to women. Anything else is either in support of that purpose, frivolous or in opposition to biological necessity.

     The result of a century of feminism is a society that works against the interests of women. Young men are no longer obligated to get married and be family men. In fact, being a traditional male is routinely mocked by popular culture. All the pressure on men is to not get married. Instead, males have easy sexual access to females, to whom they have no obligation, other than cab fare to the abortion clinic.

     It’s not just young females who are suffering from a century of feminism. Middle-aged women have always faced a difficult time. The kids leave and the mother’s purpose expires. Every man over the age of 40 understands that women often go bonkers at this stage of life. They get into weird causes or begin to obsess over trying to look young. Because we live in an age where so many women made it to this age without bearing children, we now have a surplus of women like Melissa Click.

     Indeed. Biological purposes are primary purposes. They must be served for the race to survive, much less flourish. To demote them in favor of some secondary or tertiary purpose is a shortcut to extinction. Feminism is the label our era has given to that demotion.

     Some First World women do understand this. Some of those, however, have dedicated themselves to denying it and destroying anyone who proclaims it. What are the various percentages? I cannot say...but I fear we’ll find out the hard way.

Quickies: Those Wonderful “Trans” Activists

     If you live in Texas and need the services of a photographer, may this New Yorker suggest that you consider Joyce Moore Photography?

     Here’s why:

     “Trans” activists have opened a furious campaign of hatred against this woman. They’re doing their best to destroy her small business. Breitbart reports on their actions here.This is a fine opportunity for those of us who still believe in freedom of expression to act on the side of the angels.

     Remember Sweet Cakes by Melissa.
     Remember Memories Pizza.
     And rally to the side of Joyce Moore.
     Share her poster far and wide.

Immoral Laws And Regulations

     Jeff Carter at Points and Figures makes a strong case for deliberately disobeying them:

     Regulations aren’t what you assume. Economic Nobel Prize winning Chicago Booth Professor George Stigler found, many times regulations aren’t written to protect innocent people. They are written to provide a regulatory barrier for the corporations that endorse them. I think this is especially topical today as we see politicians rail against special interests.

     Stigler uses a simple model of regulation: A regulator faces special interest pressure from producers and electoral pressure from consumers. The special interest pressure is always more “persuasive,” so producers always win. Regulations are passed only for the benefit of large firms, not for the benefit or protection of consumers.

     Are these regulations that are passed “moral” any more than Jim Crow laws passed after the Civil War?

     Stigler did, indeed, demonstrate that regulatory bodies are routinely captured – i.e., their operation is bent toward the protection of the supposedly regulated companies – by the largest and strongest players in the regulated sector. However, the mechanism to which Carter alludes is a step more complicated than he makes it appear.

     The trick lies in “reasonable and proper” enabling legislation. Most regulatory enabling bills leave a large amount of discretion in the hands of the regulators. In effect, the regulators will write the “working parts” of the law. That makes the regulatory body a target. Those who most want to control commerce in that sector will have the strongest incentives to influence it. Those are, of course, the managements of the companies in that sector – and in the usual case, the way lies open to them.

     The adit exists because of the regulatory body’s need for “subject experts.” Such experts are more likely to be found in the existing companies to be regulated than anywhere else...and of course, they’re highly likely to “advise” the regulators in a fashion that would benefit their employers.

     Such benefits can be of several kinds. One variety is the requirement that products sold in that sector must incorporate features that the existing players control, perhaps by patent. Another is the imposition of mandatory liability provisions: i.e., large escrow accounts from which judgments against the product would (notionally) be paid. A third is the creation of a regulatory maze or process that favors high-volume sellers, such that startups in that sector would be unable to afford an adequate compliance department. There are others.

     The net result is invariably a tailwind for the existing players and a headwind – often a prohibitive one – for anyone else. Thus can supposedly well meaning, “consumer oriented” regulation become a shield for a de facto cartel, by indirectly foreclosing competition from newer or smaller organizations.


     As soon as government management begins it upsets the natural equilibrium of industrial relations, and each interference requires further bureaucratic control until the end is the tyranny of the totalitarian state. – Adam Smith
     Government has always exercised the right of universal interference, and nobody ever questioned its right to do so. – Herbert Spencer
     The state seeks to hinder every free activity by its censorship, its supervision, its police, and holds this hindering to be it duty, because it is in truth a duty of self-preservation. – Max Stirner

     Regulation of industry and commerce under color of law is, in Adam Smith’s terms, government management of industry. It is an intrusion into the private affairs of supposedly free men. If it were viewed in the same light as the regulation of land use – i.e., the curtailment or removal of the property rights pertaining to a tract of land – it would be too obviously a taking, for which “just compensation” must be paid. Needless to say, such compensation is never offered.

     Though it’s a longstanding principle of American law that a government may not interfere with a man’s livelihood, if it’s lawful under the penal law, that principle has been vitiated by the application of regulation. Carter mentions licensure in this connection, which is the most obvious case. Licensure has been described as “government taking away your rights and offering to sell them back to you.” In some cases, the State refuses to return those rights for any price.

     A great deal has been said and written in this connection about the Food and Drug Administration’s effectively absolute power to inhibit the production and sale of particular drugs. Many cases of sufferers at the edge of death pleading for access to as yet unapproved drugs have appeared in the media. The excellent movie Dallas Buyers Club, which featured Oscar-winning performances by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, tells of a real-life workaround Ron Woodroof employed to acquire and distribute unapproved drugs for the treatment of AIDS. However, such workarounds are not always possible.

     Would anyone care to argue for the proposition that denying a dying patient access to any possible hope – effectively denying him the right to try to sustain his own life by his own decisions and efforts – is a legitimate, moral function of government?


     Some of the above would horrify even the most enthusiastic promoters of the Omnipotent State. They agree on how deplorable it is...just before they present their “but” arguments. In the usual case, their minds are closed to the moral argument, because it would undermine their assumption of moral and intellectual superiority. They have an infinite supply of “buts,” and will change the subject in ways both blatant and subtle, to avoid grappling with the horror. As there is no persuading them, there’s no use arguing with them.

     When argument is useless, there remains defiance. However, defiance puts one on a different scale: one that balances possible benefits against possible government vengeance. Ron Woodroof defied the FDA, and eventually the entire edifice of the federal government, because his life was at stake: He had nothing to lose. Few of us, and approximately none of our business enterprises, would be willing to make that bet.

     In conclusion: Yes, it is morally acceptable, and in some cases morally obligatory, to defy the State by violating an unjust law. How often a man or an organization will find the spine for such defiance is an entirely separate and much more challenging question.

Something vicious and dishonorable.

From a British "skilled manual worker who mostly works in domestic households":
The intellectual classes strive for justice, equality, multiculturalism, killing the rich, lifting the poor out of poverty and peace on earth with all men. But God forbid a white working class male has a different view to them. The red neck [N]ed is a man to be despised. They fight for him yet despise him at the same time.[1]
I knew an interesting man here in the U.S. who observed once that he loved mankind but despised the common man. He later denied he'd said that but he had. Another well-educated young woman of my acquaintance once told me she thought it would be interesting surreptitiously to observe black people from a van parked on the street. She wanted to study them.

Millions of liberals swoon about the rights of this or that oppressed, disadvantaged, under-advantaged, deprived, poor, underprivileged, neglected, overlooked, sidelined, marginalized, or under-funded person who can't manage life without their help but make damn sure that they return each night to homes that are as free of the presence of such persons as it is humanly possible to be.

Their "concern" is nothing but hypocrisy for they advocate policies that guarantee desperate and degraded lives for their target group(s) unless the group consists of foreigners, in which case the priority is to grant them special privileges. Foreigners are indeed "more equal" than others. As another commenter observes:

There is a culture of disassociation among the British upper classes (particularly the conservative – so called – Government and the Judiciary) that is dismissive of the reality of Tommy Robinson and the suffering lower-classes – suffering as a result of gung-ho, poorly thought-out policies and absolute refusal to back down, even in the face of incontrovertible evidence of moral, societal and cultural destruction![2]
You see that with Cameron who earlier said he wanted to reduce immigration to the "tens of thousands." Not zero with decades of evidence of the deleterious effects of third-world immigration, but tens of thousands. (Merkel's the same way. Stop the invasion? No way. Add Turks to the mix as well!)

The Treason Class purports to wear the mantle of caring and compassion but the actual result down in the streets where millions live is consistent with something vicious and dishonorable. If that characterization seems excessive, bear in mind that if you oppose this class you can expect, like Tommy Robinson, to be persecuted in the criminal courts and to be imprisoned where you're at the mercy of violent Muslims who try to pour boiling water on you and you do have your teeth knocked out.

Notes
[1] Comment by Ooh God! on "Britain’s Dirty Secret: Class Trumps Everything, Even Honor." By Dymphna, Gates of Vienna, 4/26/16.
[2] Comment by Eirene on "Britain’s Dirty Secret: Class Trumps Everything, Even Honor." By Dymphna, Gates of Vienna, 4/26/16.

Degraded America.

Less than 15 years after 9/11, the US government is openly cooperating with and defending Al Qaeda. What more needs to be said about the morality of the US government, or the state of democracy in the USA?

Immediately after 9/11, Washington declared relentless war against Al Qaeda; and President Putin was the first foreign leader to offer his condolences and his support.

Today, Washington has aligned itself with Al Qaeda and against Russia.

Comment by tom on "Syria: Russia Rejects Kerry's New Attempts to Shield Terrorists." By Moon of Alabama, 4/26/16.

No blogging.

I've not done any blogging for the last week. It's been a difficult time for me while I process the fact that a drug-addicted pop icon of indeterminate sex has been taken from us due to a drug overdose. And just when the healing has begun, Fox Business News does another 25-minute segment on his life and the wound is opened up.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Doomsayers

     Ever since our media “went national,” the path to greatest exposure has been to maximize the drama. There’s some development or trend you want people to know about? Predict the most dramatic, all-enveloping consequences you can make sound plausible. Reporters and editors will give you more attention than those who speak in more moderate, wait-and-see terms and tones.

     Consider the case of Comet Kohoutek, which passed close to Earth in 1973:

     Due to its path, scientists theorized that Kohoutek was an Oort-cloud object. As such, it was believed that this was the comet's first visit to the inner Solar System, which would result in a spectacular display of outgassing. Infrared and visual telescopic study have led many scientists to conclude, in retrospect, that Kohoutek is actually a Kuiper-belt object, which would account for its apparent rocky makeup and lack of outgassing.

     Before its close approach, Kohoutek was hyped by the media as the "comet of the century". However, Kohoutek's display was considered a let-down, possibly due to partial disintegration when the comet closely approached the Sun prior to its Earth flyby. Since this was probably the comet's first visit to the inner Solar System, it would have still contained large amounts of frozen volatiles since its creation. Although it failed to brighten to levels expected, it was still a naked-eye object.

     What few remember about that “let-down” is that a substantial number of astronomers differed dramatically with those who predicted a “spectacular display.” Many advised those interested in observing Kohoutek’s approach to acquire field glasses or low-power telescopes for the purpose. But those predictions were almost completely ignored by the media.

     The moral here should be obvious.


     For several decades now, April 22 has been designated “Earth Day,” an occasion for all sorts of pointless sacrificial gestures toward that great Leftist shibboleth, “the environment.” Via Cold Fury comes a link to a list of the predictions made by “Earth Day” promoters on its first “celebration.” Here are a few choice samples:

     1. Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

     4. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich confidently declared in the April 1970 Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”

     6. Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the 1970 Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the “Great Die-Off.”

     8. Peter Gunter, a North Texas State University professor, wrote in 1970, “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”

     13. Paul Ehrlich warned in the May 1970 issue of Audubon that DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons “may have substantially reduced the life expectancy of people born since 1945.” Ehrlich warned that Americans born since 1946…now had a life expectancy of only 49 years, and he predicted that if current patterns continued this expectancy would reach 42 years by 1980, when it might level out.

     14. Ecologist Kenneth Watt declared, “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.'”

     15. Harrison Brown, a scientist at the National Academy of Sciences, published a chart in Scientific American that looked at metal reserves and estimated the humanity would totally run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would be gone before 1990.

     18. Kenneth Watt warned about a pending Ice Age in a speech. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”

     Not one of the apocalyptic predictions made on “Earth Day 1970” came even close to true. However, every one of them received respectful attention from the major media. The reporters and editors who decided to trumpet those prophecies of doom never recanted their decisions...and often blared quite similar, and similarly wrong, forecasts of disaster over the years to come.

     The media’s guiding maxim was once “If it bleeds, it leads.” Today the formula would probably be something like “Disaster is our master.” Nor does the subsequent failure of the predicted catastrophe to occur have any noticeable effect on subsequent editorial decisions.


     Economist Julian Simon tried his best to dampen the cataclysmic choruses by applying facts and reason. His 1983 book The Ultimate Resource (expanded and reissued in 1998 as The Ultimate Resource 2) is a compendium of his arguments for a more temperate assessment of such predictions. Needless to say, the media were not interested, even though in every case he addressed, Simon has been proved right by events.

     That’s the media for you. Screams of approaching doom sell newspapers and commercial slots. Reasoned assessments of observable developments well supported by the available evidence do nothing for circulation. If this begins to sound to you as if the “news media” are in some business other than reporting the actual news, you’re not alone.

     What’s that you say? Might the doomsayers and the media be cooperating, albeit without conscious collaboration, to promote something more than just the sale of newspapers and air time? Quite possibly. The doomsayers want to be noticed, appreciated, and funded. The media perpetually seek access to persons in high office, and influence over their decisions. And those persons in high office are ever on the lookout for ways in which to increase their power, prestige, and perquisites. There does seem to be a zone of mutual interest among those agendas.

     Have a nice day.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Some Symmetries For Your Sunday (Vaguely Ruminationish Cogitations)

     Over the years – Dear God, since 1997! – any number of Gentle Readers have written to ask the same question, to wit: “Why do you give your pieces such oddball titles?”

     I wish I could tell you. Really I do. But then I’d have to kill you I don’t know myself. They’re often more whimsical than the topics themselves...and who among us would try to explain whimsy? Charles Lutwidge Dodgson I’m not.


     It’s common for persons opposed to the concept of natural individual rights to assail them as antithetical to “our responsibilities to each other.” Should you ask “Whence do these notional responsibilities arise?” you can leave them tongue-tied. They prefer not to answer such questions, and not because they’re intellectually deficient. Well, not always, anyway.

     The Ace of Spades group at Goodreads.com recently discussed C. S. Lewis’s mighty essay The Abolition of Man. Lewis grappled with similar questions (among others) in the context of juvenile education. He got right to the root of it, too: There must be postulates – propositions we accept despite an absolute inability to “prove” them – for any sort of reasoning to work at all.

     On the Right, we emphasize rights, and sometimes discuss their nature; on the Left, they emphasize responsibilities, but seldom delve into their nature. It’s a fundamental cleavage that arises from symmetrical varieties of reasoning...but the symmetry is seldom addressed.


     The very best argument for freedom ever made comes from the great Herbert Spencer:

     All are endowed with faculties. All are bound to fulfill the Divine will by exercising them. All, therefore, must be free to do those things in which the exercise of them consists. That is, all must have rights to liberty of action.
     And hence there necessarily arises a limitation. For if men have like claims to that freedom which is needful for the exercise of their faculties, then must the freedom of each be bound by the similar freedom of all. When, in the pursuit of their respective ends, two individuals clash, the movements of the one remain free only insofar as they do not interfere with the like movements of the other. The sphere of existence into which we are thrown not affording room for the unrestrained activity of all, and yet all possessing in virtue of their constitutions similar claims to such unrestrained activity, there is no course but to apportion out the unavoidable restraint equally. Wherefore we arrive at the general proposition that every man may claim the fullest liberty to exercise his faculties compatible with the possession of like liberty by every other man.

     [Herbert Spencer, Social Statics, pg. 69]

     This, which came to be known as Spencer’s Law of Equal Freedom, was regarded by Nineteenth Century thinkers as the clinching argument for the rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. The possession, by each of us, of a human nature confers equal rights upon each of us. By symmetry, no one can claim a right to deprive another of his rights. The Authority who made us what we are wouldn’t like it.


     A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. [John 13:34-35]

     To some, this looks like a restatement of the Second Great Commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is not. In fact, it’s far more demanding.

     To love others as Christ has loved us is a daunting task, for He sacrificed everything – the whole of His mortal life – to bring His New Covenant to men and to open the gates of salvation. No ordinary human can rise to that standard. Yet we can use it as a measure for our own inclinations and conduct.

     Probably the most important implication of His new commandment arises from our brotherhood with Him as a man. Because He took on human form, it is possible to see Him, in outline, in every man that lives. His benevolence encompasses us all; if we can be similarly benevolent to all, we approach Him and the love He bore for us in that regard at least.

     The commandment to “love one another as I have loved you” is a touchstone by which to distinguish creeds that are fit for human consumption apart from those that are not. It’s the heart of Christian allegiance that we bear good will toward all others – that we strive not to harm others, nor to wish that that others come to harm. When wronged we may seek justice. We may pray for it mightily. But true justice is not about inflicting pain but about restoring the wronged one if it’s at all possible, and protecting ourselves if it’s not.

     Even in the imposition of temporal punishment upon a lawbreaker, it is possible to wish him well...and a sincere effort to do so is what the Son of God has commanded of us.


     But this God stuff! These claims of absolute and unbounded authority! A lot of people accept it, but a lot of others don’t. And quite a few have tried to “prove” their contentions, one way or the other.

     Back in Europe’s Middle Ages, theologians put a great deal of effort into attempting to prove the existence of God. “Proofs” of the Divinity from that era are many, varied, and often extremely ingenious. Their authors were among the brightest minds of their day. Every last one of them falls to the same fallacy.

     Today, in the midst of the First World’s headlong rush toward secularization, we’re routinely deluged with “proofs” of the nonexistence of God. Though such “proofs” seldom amount to more than scoffing and ridicule, their authors, on average at least, are fairly bright. Yet they, too, succumb to a fallacy – and in an irony to cap all ironies, it’s the same fallacy as the one that got the medieval theologians mentioned above.

     The subject puts a smile on my face. A good thing, too, as the emotions that power such fusillades over theism / atheism are often high enough and ugly enough to drive a man to drink. (No, I don’t need a ride; I’m already there.) It’s a fine example of the sort of foolishness that’s toppled empires, and deserves careful study by anyone who considers himself a thinker.

     “But what is this fallacy?” I hear you ask. Sorry, Gentle Reader; the point of this is to get you to think about it. When you reach a conclusion, wax eloquent about it in the comments.


     May God bless and keep you all...whether you believe in Him or not. Because that’s less important than this: He believes in you. In every sense.