Life Update

Posted here.

A Couple Of Catholic Conundrums

     An old tickler from many years ago is about the day a gaggle of theologians were confronted by a layman with a simple question: “Did Adam and Eve have navels?” The initial consensus answer was no. But, the layman objected, that doesn’t square with the notion that the first man and woman were the models for the rest of us. Surely God would not have created parents for Mankind who differ from their children in such an obvious way! The uproar over the question lasted for the rest of the meeting.

     You can get really dizzy over stuff like that. Here’s another: Before the Fall, did Adam and Eve have sex? Or functioning reproductive systems? The story of the Fall has sexual implications. Also, wasn’t death one of the consequences of the Fall?

     “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” [Genesis 2:17]

     We also have the reference to “the tree of life,” which, if Adam and Eve were to eat of it, would enable them to live forever:

     And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. [Genesis 3:22-24]

     There are a few inconsistencies in the above. However, they needn’t give you agita unless you regard the whole of the Bible, Genesis included, as factually exact and accurate in all particulars. The inconsistencies make it far more likely that Genesis is allegorical in nature. The same is true for certain other passages in the Old Testament.

     But if Genesis is allegorical, whence cometh this notion of original sin? Wasn’t that a bequest from Adam and Eve? If Adam and Eve are merely figures in an allegory about the origin of life on Earth, including human life, then original sin must have some other meaning. Once again, if we recur to allegory as an explanation for the tension here, a solution can be found. However, it continues to give Old Testament literalists a severe headache.

***

     Many questions of the sort above are put to Christian believers by those who scoff at our faith. Among my reasons for writing my particular brand of fiction is to explore tensions of this sort through the eyes and voice of a priest – my character Father Raymond Altomare, pastor of Onteora County – who is both deeply devout and an unusually intelligent, critical thinker. Regardless of what atheists may think, there are many such persons in the Catholic clergy – far more of them than many an outsider would credit.

     A church of any sort is perforce a conservative institution. It exists to conserve and promulgate a set of doctrines. If some doctrines formed early in the church’s existence are later shown to be incorrect, the church will undergo stress. While admitting to error is often necessary, no one actually likes having to do so, and churches are at the extreme end of that preference.

     One consequence of that special tension is a decades or centuries-long process of de-emphasizing the disproven teachings of previous eras. If sufficiently protracted, this allows older believers to fade away with their original catechesis intact, while younger believers arise and accept the doctrines as modified by more recent discoveries. Again, the atheist hardliner will often present this as evidence against religious belief as such. (Not that atheists are ever wrong about anything, mind you!) In truth, it’s both protection for the church and an act of mercy toward those who were incorrectly instructed.

     A church is a human institution. Yes, the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, too. It was founded by the Son of God, but He left it in human hands. Therefore, it can be wrong about some things, and on occasion, it has been. That’s Mankind for you.

     The Catholic Church has indulged in that protracted-deemphasis process about a few subjects. As it has happened before, it could happen again. The sole exclusions are the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the four canonical Gospels. The Gospel records are magnificently well confirmed by several thousand discovered and verified copies, plus accounts from secular sources. No other ancient document has been as extensively researched and verified. But the teachings of fallible mortal men are a quite different matter. That’s why we’re equipped with individual consciences: the facility by which we acquire direct knowledge of good and evil, unmoderated and unmodified by other human voices.

     Herewith, a snippet from my current novel-under-construction:

     “Good evening, Father,” Larry murmured.
     Ray smiled. “Come on in, folks.” He ushered them into the sitting room and waved them toward the little sofa while he went to fetch coffee.
     Now we’ll see if I’m really fit to teach the Faith.
     “Tonight’s lesson will be a little different from the previous ones,” Ray said as he arrayed mugs and a carafe on the coffee table. “Fountain, have you been thinking about the Commandments?”
     Fountain’s demeanor was expectant. “I have, Father.”
     “Have they got you wondering about anything? Something that God maybe didn’t mention when He gave them to Moses?”
     “I have, Father.”
     Ray cocked an eyebrow. “Well?”
     “Aren’t there more bad things people can do to one another than just the ones God listed on the tablets?”
     Ray nodded. “Yes,” he said. “There are. But Moses and the Hebrews were at the beginning of many things. They’d just come out of captivity, and they had just begun a long journey. They would spend many years thinking and discussing the Commandments and why they’re the right rules for Mankind. Some of what was on them, they already knew and understood from their own history. Some, God wanted them to think hard about, for a long time.” He grinned. “He might have meant it as a kind of learning exercise, like what you and I have been doing.”
     Her face clouded. “But a lord should fully disclose his will to his slaves. How else are they to know how he wishes to be served?”
     Ray glanced at Larry. The security specialist’s gaze was intense. He was plainly as eager for the answer as his ward.
     “That, dear one, is the big question, the one that keeps people like me up at night reading, and thinking, and wondering.” Ray sat back and steepled his hands against his chest. “I think I know the answer, but I want you to try to find it for yourself. Here’s a starter question, the one that got me started: when the Hebrews finally reached Judea, their promised land, did their lives change?”
     “Yes…”
     “Well, did they become more complicated, or less?”
     Fountain didn’t answer at once. Larry became maximally attentive.
     “They became more complicated, did they not?” Fountain said at last.
     Ray nodded. “They did. They had homes to build, land to cultivate, roads to chart through the wilderness, cities and towns to establish and markets where they could trade with one another, a whole new society to construct. It meant more ways for people to deal with one another. A lot more ways they could do one another good…or evil.
     “God knew that ten Commandments wouldn’t cover all of it,” he said. “But there are commandments behind the Ten Commandments. Ultimate rules that unite the Commandments and all the other rules that people must live by, if we’re to live in obedience to God and in peace with one another. Even though He didn’t include them on Moses’s tablets, He sort of whispered them through the Ten Commandments themselves.
     “We call those big rules the Great Commandments. There are only two of them, and they seem really simple. But they imply everything else that we have to know to get along well with one another…to have peaceful lives and a peaceful, happy society. All we have to do is think about them…but with a special part of our minds.”
     Ray propped his chin upon his steepled fingers and smiled.
     Now we’ll see if I really have what it takes to do this.
     Larry was looking at him curiously. Fountain’s face had filled with excitement and the anticipation of discovery.
     “Father,” she said after a moment’s silence, “will you tell me the Great Commandments?”
     Ray turned pointedly to Larry. “I’m sure your lord can tell us.”
     This is your moment to shine, big guy.
     “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and your whole soul, and your whole mind,” he said hoarsely, “and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
     Ray smiled and nodded. “Jesus’s very words. And which special part of our minds do we use to apply the Great Commandments?”
     “The conscience,” Larry croaked.
     “Exactly.” Ray said. He returned his gaze to Fountain.
     The young futa’s attention seemed to be elsewhere. Her eyes were unfocused, and her lips were slightly parted. Yet she was plainly in no discomfort.
     Theologians of fifty years’ experience still contemplate the Great Commandments and what they require of us. A twenty year old girl deserves a few moments of silence to kickstart the process.
     Larry’s hand moved toward Fountain’s and clasped it. Fountain returned the clasp. The grip looked very tight.
     “Father,” Fountain said, “who is my neighbor?”
     Thank You, God.
     “Anyone who comes near you, dear. Anyone who comes into your life. That’s what the word means.”
     Her gaze sharpened. “How do I love my neighbor as myself? And what does it mean to think with my conscience?”
     “Neither one is hard,” Ray said, “You turn your attention inside you, and you ask yourself some questions. Suppose you were thinking of doing something to your lord. The first question to ask yourself is ‘Would this hurt him?’ The second one is ‘Would he want me not to do this?’ And the third, which might be the most important of all, is ‘Am I being selfish?’”
     “I could never hurt my lord,” the futa whispered.
     Ray nodded. “I know you wouldn’t do so intentionally, dear. He knows too. But there are things you might do that could upset him. Especially if you were to do them without asking him first.”
     He hunched forward. “You, Fountain, are unique. I know there are other futanari, even some who were trained as you were, but there are none exactly like you, with powers like yours, a lord as special as yours, or a home and family as special as yours. That will make loving your neighbor as you love yourself a special challenge. You must practice using your conscience, carefully and consistently. After a while you’ll find it easier to remember to do so, but it will never be automatic.”
     Larry emitted a long sigh. Some hidden tension seemed to have released him from its grip.
     “Do you understand, Fountain?” Ray said.
     “I do, Father.” She smiled. “You were right. It’s not hard.”

     And it is not.

     May God bless and keep you all.

Because spouting the Democrat line is job number one.

Feckless, feeble, useless “Republicanism” at its best. The one, the only, Liz Cheney!!!

H/t: The Gateway Pundit, described by Wikipedia as an “American far-right fake news website.” Now you know.

A Far Cry From Women and Children First

Upon spotting this story Only Vaccinated Persons Can Board Evacuation Vessels to Leave Island Volcano: St. Vincent PM, I reflected upon the striking difference in attitude of the ruling class world-wide since the sinking of the Titanic. Hence the above title.

Of course that thought was accompanied by the news of the savagery of the ruling class that struck Fran when he posted this yesterday.

May all these authoritarians be swallowed violently by their own schemes. It would be fitting were this PM’s escape vehicle struck by a VBP — volcanic ballistic projectile.

Damn It All, I Was Just Getting Down To Work…

     …when this came along.

     (Thank you, Adrienne.)

     The whole article is worth your attention – your careful attention. Don’t accept it uncritically. Think about it, ask yourself (and others) why governments would want to depopulate their own jurisdictions, and whether the means proposed by Dr. Yeadon is a plausible method. Ask also whether there might be other motivations that don’t involve mass death: for instance, the imposition of a scheme of total control and monitoring over all movement and interaction of all humans everywhere, in perpetuity.

     In that connection, the bit that intrigues me most comes here:

     “I think the end game is going to be, ‘everyone receives a vaccine’… Everyone on the planet is going to find themselves persuaded, cajoled, not quite mandated, hemmed-in to take a jab.

     “When they do that every single individual on the planet will have a name, or unique digital ID and a health status flag which will be ‘vaccinated,’ or not … and whoever possesses that, sort of single database, operable centrally, applicable everywhere to control, to provide as it were, a privilege, you can either cross this particular threshold or conduct this particular transaction or not depending on [what] the controllers of that one human population database decide. And I think that’s what this is all about because once you’ve got that, we become playthings and the world can be as the controllers of that database want it.

     “For example, you might find that after a banking reset that you can only spend through using an app that actually feeds off this [database], your ID, your name, [and] your health status flag.”

     “And, yes, certainly crossing an international border is the most obvious use for these vaccine passports, as they are called, but I’ve heard talk of them already that they could be necessary for you to get into public spaces, enclosed public spaces. I expect that if they wanted to, you would not be able to leave your house in the future without the appropriate privilege on your app.

     The combination of coercion with fear and habituation could produce that outcome. When I correlate it with other recent developments – “smart” thermostats, electric power meters, and water meters; highway cameras that record license plates; facial recognition systems tied to ever more common CCTV systems; cellphones that continuously “check in” with the nearby cell towers; even “smart” face masks — a highly unpleasant picture begins to form.

     Could it all be paranoiac hallucination, with no coordinated intent whatsoever behind all these separate developments? Of course. But could it be something much closer to reality? Something that’s been encroaching upon us for several decades? I shan’t speak for anyone else, but my policy is to assume and prepare for the worst. That way all my surprises will be pleasant ones.

     My sincere apologies for disturbing your breakfast, but the possibilities deserve to be hauled out of the shadows and examined in the light. If those possibilities strike you as remotely plausible, a bit of resistance is called for, wouldn’t you say? Or would you prefer to sit back and assume that “the experts know best” and “the government only has our well-being in mind?”

     [See also Ira Levin’s somewhat neglected novel This Perfect Day.]

Some kind of an agenda here.

Reassurance from central banks is only emboldening investors to add to their risks. When Powell attempts to explain his continued actions, many of us who pay attention to such things cry “Bullshit.” Not only is the current Fed policy uncalled for but it does little to strengthen the economy or address our problems. What it will do is continue to prop up asset prices and encourage risk-taking and malinvestment.

Much of the carnage taking place on Main Street is being ignored. Add to this the fact that much of bitcoin’s surge is attributed to growing inflation expectations based on the debasement of currencies. The economy we are witnessing is constructed on a foundation of growing debt. More on this subject in the article below.

Fed Driven Bubble Destined To End Badly.[1]

The destruction wrought by the draconian lockdown was in no way warranted by the “threat” of the pandemic whose dimensions and mortality were initially anything but clear and only marginally more so now. (Ever wonder what happened to the garden-variety flu?) The approach was identical to saying “highway automobile fatalities therefore bicycles, shanks mare, and public transportation.” No discussion was tolerated — and I do mean NO discussion — that related to such obviously useful alternatives as hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and vitamin D, mortality risks, the efficacy of masks, or what might be a rational civilizational approach to risks versus benefits of any courses of action. I’ve seen more insightful and principled discussions of astrology.

Instead we ended up with NO national exercise in gathering and organizing data so that there could be a focused, coherent statement of what exactly we were facing and what alternatives there were. At SOME point the data started to come in but good luck finding any kind of an scoreboard. What we had instead was the enshrinement of the headless chicken approach adopted on day one of “the crisis.”

The arbiter of our “approach” was one Anthony Fauci whose understanding and expertise are not all that clear at this point. Certainly, it is not clear that he should have commanded the heights of the national “conversation” (spit) on Charlie one niner. But there he was.

So the conclusion is inescapable that there was no honest search for understanding and selection from identified alternatives but rather the pursuit of an agenda of destruction. Sherlock Holmes to the rescue on this disturbing point. Namely, when you eliminate the notion that what was done was an honest attempt to pursue the best policy possible that rationally balanced risk and reward, what you have left, no matter how unlikely or implausible, is The Truth. And that inescapable truth is that there was no honest attempt to devise a salutary approach to this odd viral invasion and the approach chosen was to designed to devastate the United States, throw millions out of work, destroy millions of small businesses, increase citizen dependency, wreak economic havoc, and make a mockery of the Bill of Rights. Add in the fiscal and monetary lunacy, the destruction of one-third of our industrial base from off-shoring, and the ludicrous pursuit of foreign wars and the chimera of “leader of all the world” and the agenda of malevolence is clear.

If it’s still not clear, ask yourself if you wanted to maximize the destruction resulting from this phenomenon loosely described as a “pandemic,” what exactly would you do differently from what ended up being official policy?

Notes
Comment by Let It Go on [1] “Global Billionaires’ Wealth Increase By $4 Trillion During The Pandemic.” By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge, 4/11/21.

Asymmetries

     Some things, it seems, must be said so bluntly that no one can mistake or “reinterpret” them. However, when the subjects fall within a certain realm, most persons, including many who are outspoken on other matters will dance around the subject hoping to avert a tide of defamation. The deficit of courage this suggests is detrimental to the entire country.

     Herewith, in the hope of cracking open the relevant subjects and evoking honest discussion of what might be done about them, follow blows with a few blunt chisels. If you dislike what you read from this point forward and feel yourself moved to invective, feel free to leave and not return. I will not tolerate insults, slanders, and baseless accusations in place of reasoned argument.

     You have been warned.

***

1. Race.

     The recognized races differ in ways that are contextually significant. Statistically speaking, they are distributed differently as regards several physical, intellectual, and emotional characteristics. Some of those differences have caused immense social and political problems, as anyone aware of the burning of American cities last year will be aware. This has been confirmed so many ways that to dismiss it as a kind of bias or bigotry is a form of purposeful insanity.

     While the members of all three races possess the same individual rights – i.e., those enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and protected by various provisions of the Constitution and Bill of Rights – that does not somehow obviate the need to be cautious in matters that touch upon race. This has become supremely important now that one race is demanding – and in some cases, openly being granted – special, preferential treatment under the law.

     Perhaps the best compact approach to the problems racial asymmetries cause, as matters currently stand, was penned by John Derbyshire. Of course, he was roundly vilified for it, but that’s what you get from ideologues determined, for one reason or another, to deny the evidence – including the evidence of our senses.

***

2. Creed.

     The uncritical worship of “freedom of religion” (see what I did there?) has been exploited by some of the foulest beings on Earth to do damage to the rest of us and to the United States. The core of the thing is the refusal to ask the question “What constitutes a religion?” Today, virtually any creed that calls itself a religion and demands to be respected as such is accommodated, regardless of its content and intentions.

     I’ve previously made a comparison between Hitler’s National Socialism (a.k.a. Nazism) and Islam:

     Christianity and Judaism aren’t the only games in town, are they? There’s another player that’s been much in the news, that’s had an enormous impact on world history and, if the reports from Europe are reliable, is bidding to return to hegemony there. Let’s have a look at some of the principal tenets of that creed:

  • It orders its adherents to spread the creed by force, and to compel all non-believers to submit to it as second-class citizens.
  • It demands that any heresy, apostasy, or blasphemy against it be punished by death.
  • It demands total political power over the entire world, and explicitly denies the legitimacy of any political structure based on any principles other than its own.
  • It prescribes a minutely elaborate code of behavior for all men, not just for its adherents, which is to be enforced by political means.
  • It sanctifies any deed, however violent or deceitful, done to spread its hegemony over the world, and promises great glory to those who die doing such service.
  • It particularly excoriates the Jews as its enemies, and prescribes their elimination from the face of the Earth.

     Quickly, now: Name the creed your Curmudgeon has in mind. One guess only.

     Wrong! Your Curmudgeon was describing Nazism, the creed developed by Adolf Hitler. But it was a natural mistake.

     [This originally appeared at the old Palace of Reason.]

     As you can see from the above, the similarities between Islam and Nazism outweigh the differences. Most important of all, both demand absolute faith from the adherent. Yet one is accorded the status and protections of a religion; the other is not. Why? What are the substantive differences that militate toward that legal distinction? Given that Hitler was made into a figure to be worshipped, that the Nazi regime made common cause with Islam during the Thirties, and that the Nazis did their level best to eliminate all other religions from the lands they conquered, can any such distinction be rationally defended?

***

3. Firearms.

     After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it. — William S. Burroughs.

     Play any of a number of video games – I have Diablo III in mind at the moment – and the difference between melee weapons and ranged weapons will be pressed upon you. Simply put: a melee weapon requires that you get much closer to your target than a ranged weapon. Thus, certain dangers afflict the user of melee weapons that don’t afflict the user of ranged weapons.

     Firearms are ranged weapons: weapons that have an effect at a distance greater than the length of the arm-plus-sword-or-cudgel. That’s one of the reasons they’re called “equalizers.” But in a land where only criminals and agents of the State are permitted to have them, one may be sure of two things:

  • Rampant criminal predation;
  • Rampant governmental predation.

     For very few of us will go into “melee range” with a gun-toting thug, whether or not he sports a government credential. Those who have done so in the past have a rather spotty record of survival.

***

4. Laws.

     While there have been functioning anarchisms in previous eras, the anarchic model is inherently unstable. Over time – usually a fairly brief time – it gives way to a State. Franz Oppenheimer described the pattern and the reasons for it in his book The State, a remarkably clear-eyed look at the genesis of Mankind’s worst self-imposed curse. (I wrote three novels on the subject, as well.)

     Where there is a State, there will be laws. Even in the very best imaginable State – Robert Nozick’s classical-liberal “night watchman” State – some of those laws will have nothing to do with the protection of individual rights. Some of them will literally invade or infringe on those rights. And so, there will be some who will rail against them and want to see them repealed.

     It’s hard to argue against such efforts. I wouldn’t have argued against Cobden and Bright’s campaign against England’s “corn laws.” Nor would I argue against the efforts to repeal contemporary laws against the use of so-called “recreational drugs,” even though I hold those who use them in contempt. But I would counsel those who seek massive changes in the law to ponder what Saint Thomas Aquinas said about stability in the law: that it has a value apart from that of the laws themselves. Gradual change is almost always preferable to radical, “thrown-switch” change; it gives people time to plan and adapt.

***

5. Tyrants.

     The labels can be confusing: communism, socialism, national socialism, fascism, Ba’athism, Maoism, and so forth. Each of them indicates a form of window dressing applied to totalitarianism. That, of course, is the assertion that “the State is all” – that the individual possesses no rights, as understood in Enlightenment terms, that the State need respect.

     Perhaps some aspiring tyrants sincerely believe the claptrap they spout about “the greater good” or “the national destiny,” or whatever their preferred window dressing proclaims. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that the will to power is unbounded and absolute: i.e., over all matters whatsoever, and eternally proof against defiance.

     Monarchy? Autocracy? Oligarchy? Aristocracy? Take your pick. All of them assert that Some Chosen One or Few will rule The Rest, and The Rest shall have neither any rights nor any means with which to protest, much less rebel. (Ponder the segment above on firearms in this connection.)

     Measure the Usurper Regime against that standard.

***

     I have a full schedule for the remainder of the day and for the coming week, so don’t expect to see much from me here for a while. I’m sure Linda, the Colonel, and our other Co-Conspirators will keep you amused. Be well.

Authority Versus Evidence Part 2: When Authorities Collide

     Those without expertise who nevertheless posture as authorities do so for a range of reasons, but most common among them is the desire to promulgate a falsehood. The causal logic behind this is unfortunately quite compelling. If you want people to believe a thesis that is untrue, when there are sources of information that contradict that thesis, what are your tactical choices?

  1. You could marshal political power – force – to censor the alternative sources;
  2. You could mount a campaign of defamation against the alternative sources;
  3. You could posture as a source of superior wisdom: i.e., an authority.

     Tactics #1 and #2 aren’t always available to the falsehood-promoter. Even when they are, they involve heavy costs and the possibility of a powerful adverse reaction. Tactic #3 is almost always the preferred choice, at least at first.

     However, the pseudo-authority stands at risk of being opposed by someone with true expertise. (Let’s leave aside the existence of contrary evidence for the moment, since that has nothing to do with authority.) Such a dueling-authorities situation is evident in many avenues of American public-policy discourse today. All of them excite high emotions – not the least from the authorities themselves.

     Consider the subject of lethal violence and the role of certain classes of firearms therein. “Authorities” associated with the anti-firearms-rights forces have repeatedly claimed that “assault weapons” (a category they staunchly refuse to define) are the tools of choice for innumerable shootings and deaths. Other authorities claim this is the reverse of the truth. John Q. Public, assuming he’s not capable of gathering the “ground truth” data for himself, must decide which of these authorities to believe. When the subject is as emotionally laden as public violence and death by gunshot, it can tax him badly.

     One of the possible responses – and it may be the most common one – is to throw up a barrier of denial to the whole subject: “Make it go away.” In effect, this invalidates both authorities, regardless of which one is nearer to the truth. When a sufficient fraction of the public does this, one consequence is an increase in the de facto power and latitude of governments. Any field left unwatched tempts those who wield political authority…and those folks are legendarily weak before such temptations.

     Other responses include the emergence of “discourse warfare,” in which each set of authorities acquires some degree of public support. after which the authorities and their adherents then “duke it out” in available public fora. Such public disagreements often become vitriolic in the extreme. Only the arrival of indisputable evidence sufficient to settle the core question can put an end to such wrangling.

     However, “indisputable evidence” is often bitterly disputed by the losing side. After all, its “authority” is at stake. That’s when we see tactics #1 and #2 deployed. In such cases, the most powerful elements of the media are importuned to take a position – again, usually on the strength of some “authority” – and to support that position both editorially and in their reportage.

     Ironically, those same media could settle many such clashes simply by unearthing and publicizing facts sufficient to answer the core questions. That this has become exceptional behavior is one of the principal reasons for the bitter divisions that afflict us at this time.

     Most of this is “of course” material: i.e., you’re likely to nod and say “of course…after you’ve read it. But it indicates the importance, to the analyst of public disputes and the campaigns and combats they feature, of “reasoning backwards:”

  • From tactics,
  • To strategy,
  • To objectives,
  • To motives.

     For only when you know your opponent’s motives do you have a decent chance of defeating him:

     “You must move heaven and earth, if necessary, to discover your opponent’s motives. His tactics will be determined by them. If his motives change, his tactics will follow. There lies your opportunity, if you can get him to adopt tactics unsuitable to the conflict. Of course, he could try to do the same to you.”
     “What’s the countermeasure?”
     “Constancy. Refusal to let yourself be diverted. Of course, that can be a trap, too. Motive is partly determined by objectives. If your adversary’s situation changes but his objectives remain the same, he could find himself committed to paying an exorbitant price for something that’s become worthless.”
     “And that’s the time to stop playing with his head?”
     His grin was ice-cold. “You have a gift.”

     [From On Broken Wings]

     More anon.

Authority Versus Evidence

     It’s risky to reflexively attribute actual knowledge to persons who represent themselves as “authorities.” More Americans have been led badly astray by such “authorities” than have contracted the Wuhan Virus. Speaking of which, courtesy of Ragin’ Dave at Peace or Freedom, here’s a contemporary example:

     Last month, when Texas Governor Greg Abbott axed the state’s mask mandate and other COVID-related restrictions on businesses and people, Dr. Anthony Fauci called it “risky” and “potentially dangerous.”

     “When you pull back on all mitigation methods on all public health guidelines, that’s when you get into trouble and history has proven that,” Fauci told Chris Wallace of Fox News. “This isn’t just some kind of a theoretical, a point that I’m trying to make. It’s not theoretical. It actually happens.”

     But, there’s been no surge. In fact, cases have continued to decline.

     And Fauci, proven wrong, struggled to explain how Texas has defied his own predictions during an appearance on MSNBC on Tuesday, and tried to suggest that there might be a “lag.”

     “It can be confusing because you may see a lag and a delay because often you have to wait a few weeks before you see the effect of what you’re doing right now,” Dr. Fauci claimed.

     According to the CDC, COVID “symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.” It’s been 26 days since Texas reopened, which means that Fauci’s “lag” excuse doesn’t hold up.

     At the very least, Texas’s experiences call Fauci’s assertion into question. While asymptomatic infection by the WuFlu is not unknown (note the periphrasis), we would reasonably expect it to be proportional to symptomatic and therefore diagnosed infections. This has not been the case.

     Knowledge, or expertise if you prefer, should be attributed only to to those with a record of successful predictions:

     Expertise in any of the realms of knowledge that don’t involve problem-solving – e.g., physics, chemistry, astronomy, et alii — is founded on prediction. To establish oneself as an expert requires a series of successful predictions: the use of the knowledge one has claimed to create a demonstrable connection:

  1. From a specified context;
  2. Affected by a specified stimulus;
  3. To a consequence that arrives at a specified time.

     Once again, I have the pleasure of citing the late Sir Fred Hoyle’s novel The Black Cloud:

     “It looks to me as if those perturbations of the rockets must have been deliberately engineered,” began Weichart.
     “Why do you say that, Dave?” asked Marlowe.
     “Well, the probability of three cities being hit by a hundred-odd rockets moving at random is obviously very small. Therefore I conclude that the rockets were not perturbed at random. I think they must have been deliberately guided to give direct hits.”
     “There’s something of an objection to that,” argued McNeil. “If the rockets were deliberately guided, how is it that only three of ’em found their targets?”
     “Maybe only three were guided, or maybe the guiding wasn’t all that good. I wouldn’t know.”
     There was a derisive laugh from Alexandrov.
     “Bloody argument,” he asserted.
     “What d’you mean, ‘bloody’ argument?”
     “Invent bloody argument, like this. Golfer hits ball. Ball lands on tuft of grass — so. Probability ball landed on tuft very small, very very small. Million other tufts for ball to land on. Probability very small, very, very very small. So golfer did not hit ball, ball deliberately guided onto tuft. Is bloody argument, yes? Like Weichart’s argument….Must say what damn target is before shoot, not after shoot. Put shirt on before, not after event.”

     The prediction must come before the consequence to be predicted! Anyone can say “Just as I predicted!” after the event occurs. That doesn’t take knowledge, only a lot of gall.

     From that standpoint, Fauci is the reverse of an expert. His predictions have almost all failed. At this point, he’s been wrong so many times that his usefulness as a source of knowledge and guidance has dropped to zero. In truth, that was the case well before today. But he appears to want to be considered an Authority Beyond Criticism:

     There’s a reason why journalists should always keep their distance from priesthoods in any field. It’s particularly in the nature of insular communities of subject matter experts to coalesce around orthodoxies that blind the very people in the loop who should be the most knowledgeable.

     “Experts” get things wrong for reasons that are innocent (they’ve all been taught the same incorrect thing in school) and less so (they have a financial or professional interest in denying the truth)….

     “Authorities” by their nature are untrustworthy. Sometimes they have an interest in denying truths, and sometimes they actually try to define truth as being whatever they say it is. “Elevating authoritative content” over independent or less well-known sources is an algorithmic take on the journalistic obsession with credentialing that has been slowly destroying our business for decades.

     Of course, there’s worse than the single-subject Authority Beyond Criticism. There’s the Anything Authority… and the political version thereof:

     It might not be perfectly obvious (a break from tradition here at Liberty’s Torch), but any man who bids for a high political office must present himself to the public as a sort of Anything Authority: i.e., one who “has the answers” to a wide range of questions concerning the issues most prominent in political discourse. As distasteful as it sounds, arrogance is therefore a qualification for office. He who lacks the glibness and certitude required will be dismissed by a large fraction of the voting public. Seldom does the less glib, less arrogant of two candidates prevail in an electoral showdown.

     Be warned – and beware.

Distinctions That Fail To Matter

     Anyone familiar with the fusillades over race and racial differences these past few decades will be aware that there are some subjects generally regarded as “too hot to touch.” The confrontation-averse are well advised to avoid such subjects, as those on one side are prone to hurling insults rather than reasoned arguments with evidentiary support. Men’s lives have been ruined by subsequent campaigns of defamation, entirely because of differences of opinion or perspective. This essay and the comments to it constitute a demonstration of the emotional power of the topic.

     Mind you, on racial subjects just as on any other, anyone, however well-meaning, can be wrong. Moreover, being above all legitimate accusation is no defense against a storm of slander. Ask James Watson.

     Nevertheless, subjects that touch upon racial differences will be studied, even if covertly. People will form their own opinions, even if unexpressed. Should arguments arise, emotions will run high and tactics inappropriate to rational examination will appear.

     One of those subjects is intelligence. The distribution of intellectual metrics and achievements among the recognized races is perhaps the hottest button in anthropology. In part, this is because of the desires of many that the data not exist. That moves them to attack those who gather the data, accusing them of everything from willfully using invalid methods of measurement to the most evil motives imaginable.

     Psychometricians are agreed on what is meant by general intelligence. They design tests intended to probe for it, and study the distributions that result. Those distributions, which have been consistent for many years, imply statistical differences among the races that are intriguing…and for many, upsetting.

     The upset persons are unwilling to accept the inferences many draw from those distributions – and furious that anyone else might accept them. That powers many a campaign of calumny. It also animates the intrusion, into discussions of intelligence and its measurement, of matters that might not seem to be on point.

     One such intruder is a motif I’ll call can’t versus won’t.

     When attempting to intelligence-test particular populations, the testers are often confronted by behavioral variations that seemingly cross-cut the test and the potential relevance of its results. One simple one is the willingness of the testees to sit quietly and take the test. Let’s call this a problem of focus. It can arise from several causes, including disbelief in the importance of the test.

     Consider: in First World nations, children are routinely subjected to a regime of schooling that requires them to sit quietly, pay attention to an instructor, and take what he says and directs seriously. They’re taught, one way or another, that it matters — that some aspect of their futures will be seriously affected by the way they behave at this moment. If the demand for quiet attention is repeated sufficiently and reinforced by subsequent events, the children internalize the importance of focus. (This is also the case in those nations hagridden by Communist regimes. Indeed, the “reinforcements” there can be far harsher than what American parents and schoolteachers are permitted to administer.)

     One consequence is a relatively strong belief in the accuracy and relevance of test results. Another is the readiness of many to dismiss the relevance of weak results among testees who fail to focus on the test. This, too, correlates strongly with race.

     Can you see the can’t-versus-won’t problem here, Gentle Reader? Is it possible to perform a conventional psychometric measurement on a testee who can’t or won’t take the test seriously? Is it possible to separate his behavior from his capacities? More to the point, apart from the most immediate of consequences – e.g., a low score, being left back a grade, being thought “slow” — does it matter to his future?

     A commentator once said that he who will not read has no advantage over one who cannot read. The same is true for intelligence-related tests, at least in an environment in which intelligence is a survival-and-flourishing factor. He who is unwilling to be tested, whatever the reason, has no advantage over one who is unable to be tested. Whether he is well or poorly adapted to his particular environment is irrelevant to the assessment of his intelligence, as psychometricians understand the term.

     As I observed in this piece, intelligence tests designed specifically for populations in sub-Saharan Africa reveal a mean average – i.e., the axis of symmetry of the “bell curve” or “normal” distribution of scores on those tests – that falls around 70. This result has been confirmed more than once. What does it mean?

     At the rawest level, it means the testees’ scores averaged about 70. Those most determined to avert any further inferences will insist that it means no more than that – and will viciously attack anyone who dares to suggest otherwise. They’ll allege all sorts of problems with the test, contributing factors, and “root causes.” In effect, they demand that the test’s results be deemed irrelevant.

     Are they irrelevant, or do they indicate something that subsequent events might confirm? In that question lies the whole controversy over race, intelligence, and the persistent correlations among them.

     This is where the can’t-versus-won’t conundrum rises to peak importance. Let’s imagine for the sake of argument that those sub-Saharan testees possess huge reserves of abstract reasoning power that no method imaginable to psychometricians could reveal, much less measure. Could those reserves make a significant difference to their futures – i.e., to their survival, their flourishing, the prosperity and harmony of their societies, and so on?

     In theory, yes. In practice…let’s just say the evidence is against the notion. But to note this in public will get you called “everything but white.”

     It’s unfortunate that so many good-hearted people refuse to consider the matter calmly and objectively. There are massive lessons to be learned here. Perhaps the most important of them is that despite all the feedback reality provides, a great many of us are determined to see only what we wish to see, reason and evidence be damned.

     Comments are closed for this essay.

Some Common-Sense Thinking on Privilege…

…and Deprivation.

I’m as guilty of stereotyping as anyone. I have carelessly and automatically characterized badly-behaved children – or, even, adults – as the product of Single Parents. Such a judgement doesn’t account for the many terrific people who were raised in such households.

But, that really is unfair – it’s not the Marriage/Not status of a parent that is the sole reason for a kid ending up with a bad life. It’s the combination of all the bad decisions/breaks in that kid’s life that lead to it.

That isn’t to say that – MOST of the time – having two biological parents in the house is a decided plus. It just makes some sense:

  • If a kid is difficult – high activity level, health problems, special ed issues – it sure does help that there is another parent to take some of the work off the shoulders of the mom.
  • Why biologic parents? Because, sometimes, the only thing that keeps that kid alive is that you have blood invested in that kid. Not mentioning any names, but the kids know what I’m talking about. If you kill that kid, there goes your investment to that point. You leave teens alive, because – aside from little considerations like jail – eventually they may provide you with grandchildren – a delightful thing called Payback.
  • Two parents, two paychecks – or, at least, childcare and household help without further cost.

But, there are many other factors involved in raising children. And, for example, if the ‘village’ in which you are raising your children is bad one, that factor, alone, may tip the scales to “Oh-Oh!”.

Not often pointed out.

Today we’re being fed justifications for escalating hostilities against Russia, China and Iran: they’re bad actors, they defy our ‘rules-based’ global utopia, they have a bad human rights record, they’re communists or undemocratic or anti-LGBT or whatever else might work to generate consent for another big war. However, the fact that one nation initiated more than 80% of all wars in the last seventy years does require an explanation, which I submit below (originally published in 2011): . . . .

Deflationary gap and the West’s war addiction.” By Akrainer, ZeroHedge, 4/7/21.

When Smart People Write Dumb Things

     “We’re all fools, most of our lives. It’s unavoidable.” –Jean Valjean in Les Miserables

     Everyone, at some point in his life, says or does something he later regrets. It’s part and parcel of human fallibility. It’s also a solid foundation for one of the Redeemer’s least-appreciated sayings:

     Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. [Matthew 7:1-5]

     Neverthess, we humans are an argumentative species – and as long as we do it properly, that is essential for our betterment. What’s tripped my trigger this morning is a statement from F&SF writer Sarah Hoyt:

     Because you know, the stupid theories — and some of them are very stupid indeed, like the idea that…the fact that sub-Saharan tribal populations score worse on IQ tests means they’re dumber…

     Sarah’s reasonably bright. She also writes decently. But the above is about as uninformed a statement as you can find anywhere. I doubt she could defend it without either dismissing all the contrary evidence as “biased” or redefining the very quality IQ tests are designed to assess: general intelligence, the ability to perform the operations of abstract reasoning.

     Every test aims to evaluate some specific characteristic. Every test embeds assumptions about what responses to what stimuli will cause that characteristic to appear…or not. The discipline that studies abstract reasoning, its efficacy, and its reliability labors ceaselessly to discover what questions most reliably probe for those things, and what answers will demonstrate them. Aware that environment is critical to the development of general intelligence, and that language and its mastery can reveal or conceal that quality, they design specific tests for specific populations.

     And far more often than not, they get it right. The demonstration is simple: IQ scores correlate strongly with success in occupations that require abstract reasoning and the manipulation of symbols for that purpose. Thomas Sowell, among others, has said that unambiguously.

     Sub-Saharan populations native to those regions test low on the IQ tests designed for their environments and languages. In numerical terms, the mean among such testees – in other words, the axis of symmetry of their bell curve – falls at about 70. This result has been reproduced by several researchers.

     If we trust the design and composition of the tests – and as I said above, they are custom-designed for the testee populations – then we would conclude that the great majority of those testees would be unsuited to occupations that require abstract reasoning, particularly at a high level. In colloquial terms, they’re not smart enough for those jobs. Whether the reason is nature, nurture, or some combination of the two, the results are what matter.

     What Sarah appears to dislike about this is that it provides a basis for that ultimate horror of the bien-pensants, discrimination. In point of fact, it does — which is a good thing. We routinely discriminate when choosing our spouses, our friends and associates, our service vendors, and our employees. It’s both logical and constructive, as long as the discriminant (no, not that discriminant ) is genuinely related to the purpose to be served.

     Selecting for intelligence adequate to the purpose to be served is essential to dealing with individuals on their merits. A genius inventor who seeks associates for the following three categories:

  1. Employees,
  2. Friends,
  3. A wife,

     …will select for characteristics that differ among the three categories, including different levels of general intelligence. As an illustration, genius tends to correlate with a dominant personality, which makes it unlikely that geniuses will marry one another…or if they do, that they’ll be happy with the match. However, geniuses can and do make friends with other geniuses…as long as they’re all willing to argue abstruse points of various kinds without drawing their guns.

     In short: while Sub-Saharan Africans may be superbly adapted to their environment, that does not mean that they’re intelligent by the meaning of the word as it has always been used. Redefining intelligence away from abstract reasoning power merely introduces confusion into the discussion – and such confusion is perfect grist for the mills of those who seek to foment discord.

     Remain firm about the meanings of words. Without fixed meanings on which we agree ab initio, discussion is impossible, arguments cannot be settled, and divisions among us become immutable. That’s the case even when the facts strike one as unpleasant, or (God help us all) “unfair.”

Where Is The State?

     The operational definition of a state is an entity which is conceded the privilege of using coercive force by the residents of some region. The residents of the region concede the state that privilege because they also concede it to have jurisdiction (remember that word) over events in that region. Thus, there exists an implicit bargain between the state and its residents: “You,” the residents say, “may wield coercive force, but in return we expect that you will enforce the laws you have dictated.”

     Jurisdiction, etymologically, means “the pronouncement of laws.” In a land that upholds individual rights as a fundamental concept, for the state’s jurisdiction to be other than a tyranny, it must pronounce and enforce laws that protect and defend those rights. Should the state default on that obligation, it will forfeit its claim to jurisdiction – and therefore to its monopoly over the use of coercive force.

     Which brings us to this atrocity:

     The two teen girls accused of killing an Uber driver in a botched carjacking in Washington, DC, in March are expected to reach a plea deal with prosecutors in the case.

     The bargain should be reached in the coming days, but it’s unclear if it will fully resolve the case, according to the Washington Post.

     The girls are due back in court on April 20 to discuss the status of the case, the outlet said.

     The pair, ages 13 and 15, have been charged with felony murder, carjacking and armed robbery in the deadly incident, which they allegedly carried out near Nationals Park in the Southeast section of the nation’s capital.

     Under DC law, the 13-year-old can’t be charged as an adult — even in a murder case, according to the Post. The 15-year-old suspect could be charged as an adult, but that would increase the burden of proof on prosecutors, the report said.

     Other sources suggest that the deal mentioned above has already been concluded, and that it guarantees no prison time to either of the young murderers. Some might find this tolerable…possibly even praiseworthy. “They’re just kids,” the chant will run. “You can’t treat them as if they were fully responsible adults!” If the deal proves real, would you say that the state has enforced the law against felony murder?

     There are also laws in all fifty states against rioting, arson, and vandalism. Those laws have gone conspicuously unenforced in a slew of American cities this past year. Moreover, those who have engineered and encouraged those riots are pleased with the results. Why else would they “predict” even more of them?

     MODEL and Black Lives Matter activist Maya Echols has warned “all hell is gonna break loose” if Derek Chauvin isn’t convicted for the death of George Floyd.

     In a video published on TikTok, Echols cautioned that Minneapolis would suffer more riots and vandalism, similar to the chaos that unfolded in the city last May in response to Floyd’s fatal Memorial Day arrest.

     “If George Floyd’s murderer is not sentenced, just know that all hell is gonna break loose,” the activist is heard saying in the since-deleted clip.

     “Don’t be surprised when building are on fire. Just sayin’,” she added.

     Let’s imagine Miss Echols’s prediction to be accurate. Should that prove true, would you say the afflicted states have enforced the laws against rioting, arson, and vandalism?

     No, I wouldn’t either.


     The complete failure of the states to enforce the most fundamental of their laws – the ones that purport to defend the rights to life, liberty, and property – must be counterpoised to those states’ ever more relentless enforcement of laws that have no such import:

  • Laws that drain us through rising taxation;
  • Laws that infringe upon our right to work and earn;
  • Laws that minutely license and regulate our use of our property.

     Such laws have nothing to do with the protection of individuals’ rights. Indeed, they invade, abridge, and infringe upon those rights. Nevertheless, they’re enforced with a humorless ferocity. Some of the recent ukases from the governors of “blue states” even threaten our right to move about freely (cf. “vaccination passports”).

     Can you say anarcho-tyranny?

     It cannot be put better than that. They who wield coercive force without penalty have a fair claim to being agents of the state, if not the whole of it. In such a situation, civil war is not only inevitable but desirable:

     War is not coming. It is here. If you need any more proof than the shortage of available firearms and ammunition, look to the censorship of the news from the front. War may not be at your doorstep today, but any sapient individual understands that time is of the essence.

     And for its sins the state, whatever its elevation or claimed locale, will be responsible for everything that follows.

A Giggle To Start Your Day

     Here it is, from the irreplaceable Maura Dowling:

     CAPITALIZING ON DEMOCRAT HYPOCRISY

     “Last week, our president decided to go on national news and basically disparage our state,” [Georgia State Representative Wesley] Cantrell began. “We have a new election integrity law here that we passed a couple of weeks ago, and our president, apparently without reading the bill, went on the news and called our new law, he called it ‘un-American,’ he called it ‘sick,’ he called it ‘pernicious,’ he then went on and called it ‘Jim Crow on steroids.’”

     “So, in light of President Biden’s concerns about our law here in Georgia, I have decided that I am going to introduce new legislation,” Cantrell continued. “The name of this new bill is going to be ‘The President Joe Biden Jim Crow on steroids Voter Act.’ … This new bill will change our voting laws so that they mirror the president’s home state of Delaware.”

     You’ve got to read the rest. This is the way to frustrate the Usurpers thoroughly. Ridicule, as Saul Alinsky has told us, is the unstoppable weapon.

     Imagine the consternation that bill will produce in the Usurper White House.

Headscratcher.

Mea Culpa: Oregon’s Largest Newspaper Admits Defunding Police Was A Terrible Idea As Homicides Skyrocket.” By ZeroHedge, 4/5/21.

At The Margins

     “A corporation has neither a soul to be damned nor a body to be kicked.” – maxim cited by Isabel Paterson

     Via John Hinderaker comes this James Kunstler piece on “wokeism.” He opens with a blast against “corporate wokeists:”

     What were the execs of these mighty companies thinking — these knights of the boardroom, these capitalist geniuses, these moral nonpareils — when they cancelled Atlanta’s turn to host the midsummer All-star Game to “protest” Georgia’s passage of a law that requires voter ID? Surely that they were striking a righteous blow against systemic racism. And then, the rest of the world realized — almost immediately — that Major League Baseball requires online ticket buyers to show ID when they pick up their tickets at any stadium… and that Delta Airlines requires passengers to show ID (duh) before being allowed to fly in one of their airplanes… and that various other corporations snookered into this latest hustle such as Nike, Coca-Cola, and Calvin Klein support forced labor in the Asian nations that manufacture their products.

     I hope Mr. Kunstler doesn’t seriously think the corporations he cites are motivated by moral indignation or (God help us all) “social justice.” Corporations and their top managements are utterly uninterested in such things. Whatever their public posturing, their focus is always on “the bottom line” – and that’s where it belongs. Their problem isn’t a profit-oriented focus but the nearness of their time horizons.

     The publicly traded corporation has a curious control structure that renders it vulnerable to certain species of panics. “Within the company’s walls,” authority rises from the bottom, “grunt level” employees, who have practically no influence over business decisions, through steady increments up to the chief executive officer, who has practically unlimited authority. But that pyramidal structure is counterpoised to a short inverted pyramid: a Board of Directors that answers to the stockholders.

     It’s commonplace for a company’s Directors and those in its top layers of management to possess significant amounts of the company’s stock. That makes them sensitive to fluctuations in the stock price. In our time, adverse publicity, including slanders, moral castigations, threats of boycotts, and so forth can cause severe fluctuations in the price of a company’s stock. Even the most hardheaded of stockholders, entirely unaffected by such calumnies and threats, cannot fail to take note of changes in the company’s revenues and profits – and such changes occur at the margin of the company’s business.

     In our time, mutual funds are the most important stockholders of all. Huge amounts of corporate stock are held by mutual funds. The managers of those funds are continuously alert to changes in the revenues and profits of the corporations in their funds’ portfolios. They trade in huge quantities, which makes them multipliers and magnifiers of price fluctuations. It gives them influence over stock prices beyond anything that’s ever existed before.

     When a small but militant minority mounts an attack on a publicly traded company, and some small fraction of the company’s business appears threatened, the mutual funds sometimes “jump in” – in defense of their clients’ interests, of course – and make matters much worse. Corporate managements are aware of this. It’s among their greatest fears.

     As a result, companies whose managements elect to kowtow to the “woke” militants are often acting in what they believe to be the best interests of their stockholders…which group is likely to include themselves. By defending the vulnerable margin of their business – which is usually quite small, seldom larger than one or two percent – they’re attempting to avert the disproportionate fall of their stock price, and of their overall valuation, that would result should mutual fund managers get into the act.

     Yes, it’s short-term thinking…but today, so much stock market activity is driven by short-term considerations that it’s a natural reaction. Differences that occur at the margins of business drive everything else about the capital markets.

     Can it be fixed? I rather doubt it. Short-term decision-making has become widespread. Too many people are looking for a “quick killing.” It’s been that way since 1971, when Richard Nixon severed the last of the bindings between the dollar and gold. Given the spending proclivities of the federal government, those bindings are unlikely to be recreated any time soon.

Chronicles Of The Narrative Engineers

     Does anyone else remember this piece? I stated my conclusion and theme quite plainly:

     If there’s anything that a conservative or libertarian must keep constantly in mind, it’s that whatever their enticements and cajolery, the Main Stream Media are not his friend. They’re not interested in his positions or his arguments for them. They’re not interested in presenting his ideas, or him, objectively to their audiences. They’re interested solely in making him look bad, if possible like a hypocritical monster. There are evolutionary reasons for this which I’ll delve into at another time. For practical purposes, the imperative of remaining constantly on guard against MSM reporters and allies is the critical item of wisdom….

     Whatever their justifications, they do it willingly. They have already decided as an unchallenged and unchallengeable moral precept that “conservatives deserve it.” It’s part of their “assumption of differential rectitude” (Thomas Sowell), by which they have rationalized that there is no tactic morally disallowed against enemies so foul.

     Never, ever trust them.

     The tale related in the above-cited piece is only one of innumerable examples of Main Stream Media deceits in furtherance of The Narrative: i.e., the “leftists are good / conservatives are bad” dichotomy” they’ve been trying to impose on Americans for many decades. Indeed, my high-school American History teacher – a difficult man with whom I didn’t get along, but nevertheless an honest and capable instructor – told us at the very beginning of the year that those who purport to “write history” were (and are) actually promulgating The Narrative. He made sure we were introduced to sources other than the usual ones, that we might become acquainted with the other side of the story.

     Well, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the Narrative Engineers are still at it:

     CBS’s “60 Minutes” deceptively edited an exchange that left-wing reporter Sharyn Alfonsi had with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) two weeks ago about the way the Sunshine State has rolled out its vaccination program.

     In the clip, Alfonsi suggested that Publix, the largest grocery store chain in Florida, had engaged in a pay-to-play scheme with DeSantis where they donated money to his campaign in exchange for him awarding a contract to the grocery store chain to host vaccinations.

     CBS edited the interaction that DeSantis had with Alfonsi when she showed up to a press conference a few weeks ago and repeatedly shouted at the governor. The network cut out a lengthy portion of DeSantis’ response in which he explains what happened and how decisions were made.

     This is on a par with what Mike Wallace did to Senator Bob Livingston twenty-eight years ago. Today, because of the World Wide Web, there are alternative channels for the distribution of news and opinion, so there are ways for such deceits to be revealed and castigated. Yet the Main Stream Media retain a terrible power. That power is augmented by the collaboration of Big Tech – Google, Facebook, and Twitter – which ruthlessly suppress all mention of those alternative takes.

     Needless to say, Democrat politicians and strategists write the libretto for that opera:

     [CBS 60 Minutes’ Scott] Pelley brought up an article on Cernovich’s website where a physician, who later outed himself as Orlando anesthesiologist Dr. Ted Noel, argued that an explanation for Clinton’s bizarre physical tics could be Parkinson’s disease. While confronting Cernovich about the oversold headline (“Hillary Clinton Has Parkinson’s Disease, Physician Confirms”), Pelley exposed his own credulous belief in an unproven claim:

Cernovich: She had a seizure and froze up walking into her motorcade that day [September 11, 2016].
Pelley: Well, she had pneumonia. I mean—
Cernovich: How do you know? Who told you that?
Pelley: Well, the campaign told us that.
Cernovich: Why would you trust the campaign?
Pelley: The point is you didn’t talk to anybody who’d ever examined Hillary Clinton.
Cernovich: I don’t take anything Hillary Clinton is gonna say at all as true. I’m not gonna take her on her word. The media says we’re not gonna take Donald Trump on his word. And that’s why we are in these different universes.

     Pelley has no answer for those six words — “Why would you trust the campaign” — as his entire profession goes berserk with literal-minded fact checks for every tweet from President Trump. Pelley also seems to forget the fakery that Clinton World attempted hours before its pneumonia statement — with the candidate smiling and waving outside her daughter’s apartment, greeting a little girl, and assuring reporters everything was a-okay.

     And let there be no doubt about it: the Narrative Engineers are everywhere hard at work:

     CBS News recently ran a report titled “Asian Americans Battling Bias: Continuing Crisis.” In its report, as well as other reporting, the news agency botched the statistics on hate crimes against Asians versus “hate incidents. ”

     “Nearly 4000 crimes against Asian-Americans have been reported since the start of the pandemic, an increase of about 150 percent in major U.S. cities,” CBS News said during its report, before showing videos of former President Trump calling coronavirus the “Kung Flu.”

     Those two statistics are not the same.

     Stop AAPI Hate, led by Arizona State University Professor Aggie Yellow Horse and San Francisco State University Professor Russell Jeung, started an incident tracker when it launched in March 2020. The tracker encourages people to anonymously report hateful incidents. The latest report showed nearly 4,000 hateful incidents, almost entirely “verbal harassment” and “shunning.”

     That sort of deliberate mixing of immiscible statistics is an important tactic in the Narrative Engineers’ toolkit. Thomas Sowell highlighted it in The Vision of the Anointed:

     One of the common methods of getting alarming statistics is to list a whole string of adverse things, with the strong stuff up front to grab attention and the weak stuff at the end to supply the numbers. A hypothetical model of this kind of reasoning might run as follows: Did you know that 13 million American wives have suffered murder, torture, demoralization, or discomfort at the hands of left-handed husbands? It may be as rare among left-handers as among right-handers for a husband to murder or torture his wife, but if the marriages of southpaws are not pure, unbroken bliss, then their wives must have been at least momentarily discomforted by the usual marital misunderstandings. The number may be even larger than 13 million. Yet one could demonize a whole category of men with statistics showing definitional catastrophes. While this particular example is hypothetical, the pattern is all too real. Whether it is sexual harassment, child abuse, or innumerable other social ills, activists are able to generate alarming statistics by the simple process of listing attention getting horrors at the beginning of a string of phenomena and listing last those marginal things which in fact supply the bulk of their statistics. A Louis Harris poll, for example, showed that 37 percent of married women are “emotionally abused” and 4 million “physically abused.” Both of these include some very serious things–but they also include among “emotional abuse” a husband’s stomping out of the room and among “physical abuse” his grabbing his wife. Yet such statistics provide a backdrop against which people like New York Times columnist Anna Quindlen can speak of wives’ “risk of being beaten bloody” by their husbands. Studies of truly serious violence find numbers less than one-tenth of those being thrown around in the media, in politics, and among radical feminists in academia.

     They will not turn honest. They will never “let up.” They can only be countered by honest men outside their corridors who relentlessly report the facts – regardless of whose agenda it serves or disserves.

Clearly a Violation, But…

…given the likely loss under the currently constituted Supreme Court, not a good time to sue, and risk a loss that would brick in a precedent. That would give the Left a victory that might well outlast their dominance.

Yes, this is – for all but the Stupid and Leftist (but, I repeat myself) – a violation of the CDA’s Section 230, as well as a politically motivated discriminatory act. Unfortunately, political discrimination isn’t illegal. Unless we can somehow shoehorn the motivation into a category that survives a challenge, we’ve lost this fight before we’ve begun.

Are the decisions a clear case of an unfair advantage to the Left? Of course. But expecting the Federal government to officially recognize that these actions unfairly impose a political finger on the scale is not reasonable. In a world that didn’t involve Deep State involvement in politics, we could appeal to the FCC, the FEC, and the courts, to just name 3 of the many institutions that have become thoroughly infiltrated.

So.

What’s the solution?

I’m afraid the only one I can see is not, at this point, likely. “Starving” the State only works when the Federal government’s use of fiat money is limited. The entrenched Elite have gone all-in on divorcing Federal spending from any relationship with GNP.

Which means, anyone who plans to retire, using Social Security, a military pension, or a pension (public or private), is riding a tiger. You cannot dismount, and survive. Your only “choice” is to continue the ride till the tiger collapses in exhaustion. At that point, you MIGHT be able to survive the fall, and escape before he recovers.

Continue your current activity – pay down any debt, build your reserves – both food and essential supplies – and get yourself ready for civilizational collapse. That means physical training and rehab, skills updates, and preparing not only your homestead, but the surrounding community, for a long siege. It might be government forces that are involved, but they will be enhanced by the starving masses, and the predators that take advantage of them.

If you’ve planning a move, you don’t have a lot of time. A newcomer, however vetted by a few of the longtime residents, will not be given the same assistance as one who has deep roots in that community. All-out defense help will be reserved to the closest relations and friends. Unless you qualify, you’ll be on your own.

UPDATE: Lest you become discouraged by all the gloom and doom, take heart! There are people who GET it.

The Last Vigil

     The darkness was absolute. No fire burned within range of his sight. Neither moon nor stars bedecked the sky. Had he not taken his post in daylight, he would not have known where he stood. Only the rough stone wall of the crypt against his back served to remind him of it.
     The swaddling darkness had robbed him of his sense of the passing of time. The lack was halfway between a comfort and a curse. His thoughts had come unmoored, which partly assuaged the pain of his deed, but if he could not think plainly of it, how, then, could he repent of it?
     Several of his men, aware that he’d stood the vigil each of the two nights before, had offered to take the duty from him. He’d thanked them with his usual formality, and declined. This was where he belonged, the only imaginable place where he could finish grieving.
     He’d vowed to himself, silently, that he’d stand the night vigils until the tetrarch rescinded the order that the tomb be guarded…perhaps until God should grant him surcease from his regrets.
     When summoned to bring a condemned to the place of execution, he’d thought little of it. Executions in this rebellious province were common. Given the belligerence of the locals, they demanded a military guard. He and his had been detailed to this rude place as agents of law. The law required that its forms be protected in their observance, if it were ever to gain the allegiance of the barbarians among whom he dwelt.
     Only when he first looked upon the condemned did he realize to what he was to be party.
     Throughout the thing he’d been torn between the need to halt it and the imposed duty to see it carried out as prescribed. His reason knew that for him to interfere in the proceedings would only guarantee his own death for insubordinate treason. Yet the urge was powerful. It never slackened, even unto the moment of death.
     The coup de grace would linger in his memory until he was no more.
     At least the darkness concealed his tears from others’ eyes.
     “Dawn is coming.”
     The soft words jerked him out of his melancholy reverie. At once he brought his spear to readiness, for in that murk he could not be sure of friend or foe.
     “Be at peace, centurion,” said the voice in the darkness. “You have done only what was required of you, though you knew it not. He blessed you even as you pierced his side.”
     Confusion buzzed in his head. The voice betrayed nothing of the speaker’s identity, and still less of his purpose. “Who speaks?”
     “A witness, and a messenger.”
     “Do you seek to defy the law?”
     “No more than he did.”
     Though the darkness remained as deep as before, he thought he saw the outline of a human figure, a short distance before him. The figure stood still, arms at its sides.
     “The tetrarch has interdicted this place to all but the men of the legion. Why come you here?”
     “As I have said: to witness. And to deliver a message.”
     “What message?”
     “Bide.” The figure raised a hand.
     A pinpoint of brilliance ignited between them. It grew steadily to become a sphere of soft light that warmed as it illuminated. By its radiance, the speaker was revealed as a young man of great beauty. His complexion was of smoothest ivory, his eyes and hair the darkest jet. The whiteness of his robe could outshine the noonday sun. He was too perfect to be a creature of mortal flesh.
     The spear fell from the centurion’s nerveless hand. He dropped to his knees and made to prostrate himself, but the young man stepped forward, took him by the shoulders and restored him to his feet.
     “In a few moments,” the young man said, “a mighty working will occur in this place. Though it must be witnessed in the courts that record all things, it was not meant for mortal eyes. So I have been sent. But my purpose is twofold, for you suffer a guilt that is not yours to bear. I come to relieve it.”
     “How?” the centurion breathed.
     “Thus: you have only done what he wanted. And thus: He knew you for one of his own.” The young man indicated the glowing sphere with a glance. “But you must not be here when he comes forth. It would unmake your mind and his purpose.”
     “Is he not truly dead?”
     The young man chuckled. “Oh, truly. For three days he has toured the depths of Hell, reproving the Mekratrig and his minions for their insolence and reminding them of the mercy of the Almighty. But his time there is done. He has a little while yet to spend among men. But no one may see him rise. No mortal mind could withstand it.”
     The centurion remained upright only by the sternest of efforts.
     “Has he forgiven me, then?”
     “There is naught to forgive. He was sent among men to teach, but also to suffer and die. It was you he wanted to attend him in the latter task. So be at peace, Longinus of Etruria, and bear no longer the burden of guilt for a duty ordained for you at birth, which you have well and honorably discharged.” His eyes moved to the spear that lay between them. “Guard your weapon well, for it will become an item of legend.”
     The young man raised his hand again. “Nunc dimittis.”
     The centurion’s heart filled with a serene, all-encompassing joy. He saluted the glowing herald, stooped to retrieve his spear, and strode resolutely westward, never looking back. As he walked, the first light from the east touched the hills of Judea. The rays of the rising sun glinted from his armor.
     Dawn was, indeed, coming.

==<O>==

[Copyright (C) Francis W. Porretto, 2010]

     Happy Easter, Gentle Readers. The greatest of all promises has been kept. May all the joy of this most joyous of days be yours throughout the year, for “He is risen, as He said.”

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