Trials: An Early-Morning Meditation

     “It is part of the discipline of God to make His loved ones perfect through trial and suffering. Only by carrying the Cross can one reach the Resurrection.” — Archbishop Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

     The older I get, the more wisdom I find in Sheen’s statement above. It’s a sermonette on the requirements of living. Yet I cannot believe that God actually intends human suffering in some purposeful way. Rather, I think that He designed a universe with unbreakable laws that operate over time, and left the rest to the progress of time itself. For time is a thief; it takes everything from us. More, time is a traitor, the chief enemy of hope. For what it takes, it returns at best only a little learning.

     Perhaps not every man knows severe trials. Some, after all, are born to wealth and safety, and remain thus swaddled lifelong. But there can’t be many such. Time is too powerful an adversary.

     As with men, so also with nations.

***

     Until recently, America’s crosses had been few and easily borne. Yes, we’d had wars, internal strife, natural disasters that claimed scores of lives. Yet our resources, both in material things and in our spirit of independence and self-sufficiency, carried us through them all. Not only did we believe in ourselves, our responses to our trials provided confirmation of what we believed. We were a “can do” nation.

     Things have changed, and not for the better.

     I have no exact knowledge of the percentage of Americans who receive government support. I know it’s large. That sort of thing tends to sap the will of a people. Garet Garrett was one of the first to write of the process and its corrupting effect:

     No government can acquire power and put it forth by law and edict. It must have the means. A tyrant may issue laws and edicts, but if he lacks the means to enforce them they have no fury. In the ancient case, means might be the direct command of labor, food, and materials. So the pyramids were built. In the modern case, means will be money.
     That is why every government in the secret recesses of its nature favors inflation. Inflation provides the means. Under pretense of making money cheap for the people, the government creates money for itself. When it goes into debt for what it calls the public welfare it first fills its own purse and then, as it spends the money, it extends its authority over the lives and liberties of the people. It suborns them. Their consent is bought. It is bought with the proceeds of inflation.
     Senator Dirksen tells how Cordell Hull, then Secretary of State, expounded to him the New Deal’s doctrine of corrupting the people for their own good. “My boy,” Hull said, “this follows a bent of human philosophy. At first people will demur at the idea of subsidies and accept them very reluctantly, and then after a while they will accept them in good grace, and later they will demand them.”

     Money is the most addictive of all substances. Who has the strength of will to decline an offer of free money? It can be done, for it has been done, but not often. The withdrawal agonies from an addiction to free money must be as painful as crucifixion, for “getting clean” of it is virtually unknown.

     And it has made slaves of a great percentage of a once-free people.

***

     Government-provided money isn’t our only addiction We’re also hooked on government-provided protection from others – personal safety. This dependency is even more ironic than being weaned out of our self-sufficiency with our own money, for it is and has always been entirely illusory. In recent decades the illusion has steadily dissipated. Today we find ourselves as naked and defenseless as newborns.

     Not long ago, I wrote:

          Internal constraints are those that make it possible for police forces to do the job at all. Historically, those constraints were supplied by one’s religion. Hearken to Clay Christensen on the subject:

     Rose Wilder Lane was of the same opinion:

     The real protection of life and property, always and everywhere, is the general recognition of the brotherhood of man. How much of the time is any American within sight of a policeman? Our lives and property are protected by the way nearly everyone feels about another person’s life and property.

     With religion in decline – the aging of congregations everywhere would convince a man from Mars that it’s strictly for the nursing-home set – internal constraints are declining as well. The predominant ethical question is no longer “Is it wrong?” but “Can I get away with it?”

     And that’s before we factor in the concentration of a great part of our population in cities, the rise of black racialism, and the government-encouraged ingress of millions of Third World savages. Show me a man who sincerely believes that “the police” will protect him from all that, and I’ll show you an idiot.

***

     These addictions are at the root of our trials. We’ve lately been waking up, albeit slowly, to the realities of the bondage we suffer. The best of us can feel incapable of coping with them: “What can I do about it? I’m only one man.” Certainly I’ve often emitted that plaint, though I’m far from the best of us.

     I don’t have any guarantees to offer. Death is inevitable for men, and might be inevitable for nations as well. An organism that has ceased to grow must slide into senescence, and the United States ceased to grow some time ago.

     But there may be an alternative to dying along with the nation, at least for some of us.

     There are admirable, self-sufficient communities dotted throughout the nation. Some of them aren’t easily recognized; others conceal their self-sufficiency behind ethnic or religious guises. Murray Rothbard wrote about some of them:

     Albanian-Americans are an extremely poor group, and in New York they are almost invariably poor slum dwellers. Statistics are scanty, but their average income is undoubtedly lower than that of the more highly publicized blacks and Puerto Ricans. Yet there is not a single Albanian-American on welfare. Why? Because of their pride and independence. As one of their leaders stated: “Albanians do not beg, and to Albanians, taking welfare is like begging in the street.”
     A similar case is the decaying, poor, largely Polish-American and almost totally Catholic community of Northside, in Brooklyn, New York. Despite the low incomes, blight, and old and deteriorating housing in the area, there are virtually no welfare recipients in this community of 15,000. Why? Rudolph J. Stobierski, president of the Northside Community Development Council, supplied the answer: “They consider welfare an insult.”

     Rothbard also praised the Mormon approach to fostering self-sufficiency among Latter-Day Saints and insulating them from the appeal of government hand-outs:

     …the Mormon Church sternly discourages its members from going on public welfare. “It is requested that local Church officers stress the importance of each individual, each family and each Church community becoming self-sustaining and independent of public relief.” And: “To seek and accept direct public relief all too often invites the curse of idleness and fosters the other evils of dole. It destroys one’s independence, industry, thrift and self-respect.”
     There is no finer model than the Mormon Church for a private, voluntary, rational, individualistic welfare program. Let government welfare be abolished, and one would expect that numerous such programs for rational mutual aid would spring up throughout the country.

     These communities are notable in other ways, being extremely self-protective and bound by their shared heritages and faiths. It should make us ponder the value of such bonds, rather than dismiss them as vestiges of a benighted era.

***

     As usual, I could go on about this, but not at this hour. I’ll close by saying that while our trials – especially the ones discussed in this piece – might prove fatal, they certainly will prove fatal if we just shrug and say “That’s just the way things are.” If revival is possible, it might be through the revival of communities: groups concentrated enough to possess an internal vitality independent of larger things. If there’s a simple prerequisite for the emergence of such a community, such as a common ethnic heritage, a common faith, or even a shared belief in freedom and independence, we should be searching for it. Perhaps it’s waiting for us to discover it.

     Else our national and societal crosses will crush us.

Once Upon A Time…

     There was a band made up of session musicians who got together for a few drinks. Some of them were very well known for their studio work. Others were “invisible” despite their many contributions to the oeuvre of better-known artists. To make a long story short, they decided that they had something to contribute to contemporary music all on their own. So they formed a band called Dreams.

     Here’s the first track from their first album.

     I hope that lifted your spirits.

A Millennial Conflict

     Earlier today, I put forth a provocative proposition. Candidly, it was so provocative that it deserved large font:

The State and God are enemies.

     That probably upset a few folks excessively devoted to the opinions of Saint Paul:

     Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
     Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

     [Romans 13:1-7]

     No doubt the Bible-absolutists will clutch their pearls in horror at my saying so, but in the above Paul of Tarsus revealed himself to be a statist imbecile. And no, it wasn’t the one and only time.

     Paul, a relatively erudite man for his era, nevertheless had no sense for the dynamic of power. He sincerely believed that rulers are ordained by God, and therefore deserved deference and obedience. The record we possess today, which chronicles the incredible slaughters and sufferings the State has imposed on helpless individuals over more than two millennia, was unavailable to him. Even so, he ought to have been aware of the perfidy and cruelty of the State. After all, he, as a Pharisee and a persecutor of Christians before his “road to Damascus” conversion, had been an enthusiastic participant.

     But the subject deserves more than an offhand remark or two.

***

     As I said earlier this morning, over the centuries the church – meaning the clerical hierarchy – has tended to seek an alliance with the State. This serves two purposes. First, if the thing comes off, it will compel the rulers to concede the church’s authority, which serves as a brake on the rulers’ excesses. Second, it puts the State’s enforcement power at the church’s disposal, with all that implies. Until 1788, the pattern was essentially unbroken throughout the world.

     The First Amendment to the Constitution was the first time any nation had explicitly departed from that pattern:

     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.

     Fisher Ames, who composed the final version of the Amendment, probably thought that would put the matter to rest. However, he did not foresee the contemporary tendency among jurists and commentators to “reinterpret” words away from their original meanings. Thus great changes have been wrought upon the legal import of both the Establishment and the Free Exercise clauses.

     Consider the tragic case of Jack Phillips’s Masterpiece Cakeshop. Mr. Phillips’s right to the free exercise of his religion has repeatedly been attacked under “anti-discrimination” statutes that ignore that consideration. A similar attack was aimed at Sweet Cakes By Melissa, again under “anti-discrimination” statues that make no room for religious belief.

     Much has been written about those incidents, and much more could be said. The heart of the matter, however, was and is that the State considers its power to be superior to the rights of individuals to the free exercise of their faiths, at least in the commercial realm. That postulate has since been extended to questions of “public health” and State ukases pertinent to it.

     Simply put, the State doesn’t want this God stuff to get in its way.

***

     The cases cited above highlight an important auxiliary influence: the eagerness of activists for special “rights” to use State power to infringe upon others’ rights to the free exercise of their faiths. In both cases, homosexual activists deliberately targeted Christian-owned businesses. They knew beforehand that the proprietors of those businesses would be obliged by their Christian consciences to decline the orders. They wanted those orders to be declined: to make an inroad for the legal persecution of those Christian businessmen.

     Such activists tend to be few in number. They actively need State support to gain their aims. The State routinely views them as living cudgels with which to assert its primacy and beat down resistance. Owing to the dynamic of power, the number of persons within the State – it’s never more than a bunch of people with government jobs, whether elected, appointed, or employed – who would resist such activists shrinks monotonically toward zero as a nation’s governing structure ages. Today they’re pathetically few.

     Those at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of power will always be pleased at having the power of the State confirmed and extended. That is why they’re there. They relish every contest between activists, however fringy, and those who uphold a faith that asserts any bounds at all around the State’s powers.

***

     The conflict between religious rights as guaranteed by the First Amendment and “civil rights” of the sort asserted by “anti-discrimination” statutes is an important part of the mosaic. If two claims of rights conflict – i.e., if honoring one compels the denial of the other – then at least one of them is not truly a right. All genuine rights are natural: i.e., they issue from human nature, which cannot be self-contradictory. But the masters of the State are impatient with such things.

     Consider a right that would seem indisputable: the right to choose one’s own associates. Is there a way to harmonize that right with a “right” to force oneself upon unwilling others? I can’t see it. Yet that is precisely what “anti-discrimination” statutes attempt, particularly in matters of employment and commerce. It’s also been wielded against private clubs, on the grounds that business is sometimes transacted in such clubs.

     Once the State proclaims laws that infringe upon natural rights, or “rights” that compel such infringements, the possibilities are boundless. But the freedom proclaimed by Christ, by His famous pronouncement to the “rich young man:”

     And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
     And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
     He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. [Matthew 19: 16-19]

     …is a blockade the State is determined to demolish.

***

     It would be quite a difficult matter for the State to accept that there are any authorities that lie beyond its scope. The masters of the State want them all. Thus, even the suggestion that where the State’s powers end, other sources of authority have value is one that chafes its masters. They are determined that no such partition shall exist.

     Consider matters of personal moral conduct. Christianity incorporates teachings that go gently, but not unconnectedly, beyond Christ’s commandments as He articulated them to the “rich young man.” For example, most Christian denominations frown on divorce. (The Catholic Church forbids it entirely.) Yet the State facilitates divorce at the request of one partner who asserts “irreconcilable differences.” The other partner’s opposition to divorce is irrelevant to the State.

     In effect, the State has asserted the power to force a faithful Catholic in to a state of involuntary singlehood. He has no alternative, for the Church teaches that for him to marry again, while his spouse is still living, is to commit adultery – and it is so, by the original meaning of the word adultery: the violation of one’s marital vows of fidelity and constancy.

     We must not neglect to mention the drive for “hate speech” laws. Such laws have been focused repeatedly on persons who dare to express the teachings of the church where others can be “offended” by them. Both the Trudeau regime in Canada and the Albanese regime in Australia have already secured backing for such laws. Subjects of the United Kingdom are routinely arrested for Facebook posts that “constitute “hate speech.” The Republic of Ireland, one of the most Catholic countries in the world, is pondering the enactment of such laws today.

     The State’s attack on Christianity has recently gone in unexpected directions. The pseudo-crisis of the COVID-19 virus – which we now know to have been human-engineered, in part with American funds provided by the execrable Anthony Fauci – provided American and Canadian governments with a pretext for shutting down places of worship. North American Pastors were actually arrested and jailed for holding services. There could be no clearer indication of the State’s animosity toward Christianity, especially as numerous other gathering places were exempted from the edict, and as the command was never enforced against even a single mosque.

***

     The time has come to address the term “Christian nationalism.” Pastor Doug Wilson, in the brief Tucker Carlson video I poste late yesterday, emphasized the religious imperative: i.e., he seeks a “come to Jesus” moment for the American people. That doesn’t address whether Christianity would somehow become mandatory to remain an American citizen in good standing, but my sense of the thing is that, owing to the divergences among the many Christian denominations that exist today, it would be as impossible for America to have an established church as it was in James Madison’s time. However, what all Christian denominations agree upon is the teachings of Christ as He expressed them to the “rich young man,” and above them, the two Great Commandments He articulated to the Pharisees:

     But the Pharisees hearing that he had silenced the Sadducees, came together: And one of them, a doctor of the law, asking him, tempting him: Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?
     Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets.

     [Matthew 22:34-40]

     These commandments are the ethical core of Christianity. C. S. Lewis has called them “The Law of General Benevolence.” One cannot claim to be a Christian without accepting them as “Gospel truth.” And they are perfectly consistent with Judaic ethical teaching, with the teachings of most non-Judaic and non-Christian sects, and with the requirements of a sane and sensible secular law for any nation, great or small.

     But note: Christ did not mandate that the State enforce His Commandments. Indeed, He stood against it in a memorable case:

     Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
     This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
     And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
     When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
     She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

     In this lies an important difference between classical-era Judaism and Christianity. Moses did indeed command that adulterers be stoned to death: i.e., that State power enforce the religious decrees he articulated to the Jews during their wanderings in the desert. Christ would not have it. For the Christian, we are not to be punished by the State for acts over which only God should have jurisdiction.

     The masters of the State, of course, feel differently, especially when it comes to their “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” campaign and the special “rights” demanded by activists of innumerable stripes.

***

     In summary: To be a “Christian nationalist” is to be a Christian – ethically, above all – and a nationalist. Jews can endorse such a program. Buddhists, Taoists, Confucianists, and agnostics can, as well. (Muslims can’t, as their creed demands political supremacy over all persons, places, and things.) Christian nationalism does not demand an established church, or that all the servants of the State be Christians. It is not a program for conflict but a prescription for healing.

     For the great majority, it begins with that “come to Jesus” moment: the sincere re-embrace of America’s heritage as a nation forged from Christian ethical principles. From others who cannot or will not take that step, it asks only peace and tolerance: the acceptance Christ extended to the woman “taken in adultery, in the very act.” From that, all else will follow.

     Be not afraid.

The Key Historical Animosity

     If you bothered to watch the video embedded below, you might have a few questions about this nebulous thing called “Christian nationalism.” I intend to address some of those questions a bit later, when I’m properly awake. For the moment, have a gander at yet another video, this one from the Land Down Under:

     It “should” be “obvious” that the government of Australia regards the Catholic Church as its enemy. Its recent policy movements have been against the Church, though always sculpted to make it look like the government is protecting or promoting someone’s “rights.” Often the “right” being protected is the “right” to force yourself on others who want no part of you…just as here in the United States.

     The State and God are enemies. Pastor Doug Wilson says it explicitly in the video below. The laws decreed by the Supreme Being constrain the State’s edicts. That chafes men whose supreme goal is absolute and unopposable power. When their irritation at such constraint gets the better of them, they flaunt their defiance of God by passing some “law” that contravenes His dictates.

     Historically, churches have allied with the State. That has the twofold purpose of subordinating the temporal rulers to the clerical hierarchy, and to put temporal power at the service of the religious authorities. But rulers have always resented any degree of subordination, and have usually contrived to throw off a religious yoke. Henry VIII of England is the best-known case. When that occurs, the State invariably assumes power over the church…and can be counted upon to use that power to break the church and its teachings to the ruler’s will.

     The First Amendment to the Constitution was an attempt to prevent either source of authority from lording it over the other. But the situation has become unstable. Recently the State, here as elsewhere, has been exerting its authority at the expense of Christian teachings. That comes naturally to persons who worship power. The swelling reaction against it in this still mostly Christian country has frightened some. They fear the rise of an American theocracy, an establishment of religion akin to what Henry VIII imposed upon England.

     More anon.

If You Have 8.5 Minutes…

     …please watch this video:

     Pastor Doug Wilson articulates an almost satisfactory vision of “Christian nationalism.” The adverb is the most important word in that sentence. For what questions will be asked of his vision by those who are opposed to it and hope to destroy it? How is Christianity, fractured as it is into a multitude of denominations, to answer them?

     I’ll be writing further about this tomorrow.

For Any Visiting Statists

Good Guys And Bad Guys

     “The first casualty when war comes is truth and whenever an individual nation seeks to coerce by force of arms another, it always acts, and insists that it acts in self-defense” – Locomotive Engineers Journal, February 1929

     In high school, I had an American History teacher who opened his class on the subject by saying – quite memorably – that recent trends in the recording of American history strained to make the historical panorama look like one long contest: “good guys versus bad guys.” I, being a fourteen-year-old not yet sensitized to those trends, didn’t grasp his point at the time. It’s become rather clear since – especially since all of journalism (so called) now sculpts its narratives the same way.

     Now, I prefer to see persons and institutions as black or white. Thus a “good guys versus bad guys” structure appeals to me. But my preferences do not determine reality. There are shades of gray to be noted, especially in relations among nations. When the subject is war, the shades of gray become the most important matters on the table.

     There’s rather a lot of war at the moment, and more looming. We have the Russia / Ukraine contest, the Israel / HAMAS contest, the Iran / Israel contest – don’t kid yourself, Gentle Reader; this one’s already hot and about to go incandescent – Red China’s threat to annex Taiwan by force, and of course America’s several domestic wars, of which I’ll say no more for the moment. War, being a governmental affair, is therefore between institutions I despise. That can make it hard to pick a side to prefer from such a contest.

     Good guys? Bad guys? You can find copious representatives in any camp of any war. It’s not necessarily clear who predominates, even when who struck whom first is beyond dispute.

     When George Washington condemned “entangling alliances,” he was thinking first and foremost about the interests of the United States. Still, he may have had some of the above in mind.

     When a third party decides to get involved in a war, it does so for either moral or practical reasons. Woodrow Wilson, a moralist who had absolute faith in his concepts of right and wrong, got the U.S. into World War I for (his own) moral reasons. Franklin D. Roosevelt, of whom I find it hard to believe that he had any concept of good and evil, embroiled the U.S. in World War II for practical reasons, supreme among them the amelioration of the symptoms of the depression Herbert Hoover had engineered and FDR had foolishly deepened and prolonged.

     If you can’t discern the “whiter” and “blacker” sides in a conflict, wouldn’t it be advisable to remain on the sidelines? A moralist would say so. A pragmatist would ask, “Can I get anything worth the expenditure by allying with the Bruxists, or with the Wazznians?” If the answers are no and no, he too would be advised to watch from a distance.

     Governments are not moral entities. No matter how constituted, they have no binding to right or wrong. When a State elects to donate blood and treasure to a conflict between two other States, it’s always for practical reasons. Moreover, the masters of the State won’t be the ones shedding blood or treasure; that job is reserved to the hoi polloi and their sons. That makes the practicality of the venture rather unbalanced.

***

     Many years ago, I wrote:

     “Combat occurs within an envelope of conditions. A general doesn’t control all those conditions. If he did, he’d never have to fight. Sometimes, those conditions are so stiff that he’s compelled to fight whether he thinks it wise, or not.”
     “What conditions can do that to you?”
     His mouth quirked. “Yes, what conditions indeed?”
     Oops. Here we go again. “Weather could do it.”
     “How?”
     “By cutting off your lines of retreat in the face of an invasion.”
     “Good. Another.”
     “Economics. Once the economy of your country’s been militarized, it runs at a net loss, so you might be forced to fight from an inferior position because you’re running out of resources.”
     “Excellent. One more.”
     She thought hard. “Superior generalship on the other side?”
     He clucked in disapproval. “Does the opponent ever want you to fight?”
     “No, sorry. Let me think.”
     He waited.
     Conditions. Conditions you can’t control. Conditions that…control you.
     “Politics. The political leadership won’t accept retreat or surrender until you’ve been so badly mangled that it’s obvious even to an idiot.”
     The man Louis Redmond had named the greatest warrior in history began to shudder. It took him some time to quell.
     “It’s the general’s worst nightmare,” he whispered. “Kings used to lead their own armies. They used to lead the cavalry’s charge. For a king to send an army to war and remain behind to warm his throne was simply not done. Those that tried it lost their thrones, and some lost their heads–to their own people. It was a useful check on political and military rashness.
     “It hasn’t been that way for a long time. Today armies go into the field exclusively at the orders of politicians who remain at home. And politicians are bred to believe that reality is entirely plastic to their wills.”

     Today, there is no direct check on “political and military rashness.” Heads of state pay no costs for entangling their nations in war. Verily, in this era of electoral ambiguity, not even “democratically elected” heads of state. The Nuremberg trials and the execution of Saddam Hussein were notable exceptions – and it can be argued that in both those cases, more culpable criminals got away scot-free.

     What warrant, then, exists by which a head of State could legitimately send his nation into a war between two other States?

***

     In his early novel The Probability Broach, L. Neil Smith proposed that war itself could be abolished by the elimination of coercive taxation and conscription. I’m not sure; the wars of the pre-Westphalian era often involved volunteer armies and the wealth of the warring nobles, no more. (Believe it or not, many of those nobles viewed war as an entertainment.) Of course, those wars tended to be a lot smaller than our contemporary conflicts, so with regard to this era, Smith is probably more right than wrong. One thing is clear: if heads of State had to go to war themselves, and fund their wars personally, they would face a more significant deterrent to such ventures than they do today.

     When someone else is doing the bleeding and dying, detachment becomes possible – and routine. Indeed, military analysts must cultivate detachment; without it they could never practice the calculus of warfare. They must be able to say, given some notional conflict, who would be more likely to prevail and at what cost – and they must be able to say it with confidence. That the record of such analysts is, shall we say, less than inspiring only adds force to their need for detachment.

     He who is detached from the suffering of others is capable of monstrosities unbounded.

***

     I could go on for many thousands of words, but I think the point has been made. The masters of “our” government will send our children to war when it pleases them, with little or no regard for anything but the probable effect on the next elections. The amorality and detachment displayed by those…persons have only increased as the years have passed. The moral, for those of us who still believe in the “necessity” of the State, couldn’t be more obvious.

     Take no sides. Trying to count up the “good guys” and the “bad guys” on either side of other nations’ wars is a fool’s game. Be assured that our political elite does no such counting.

“Where Is Everybody?”

     Have you ever watched one of those end-of-the-world movies, wherein a lone survivor awakens to a world that seems to have been depopulated while he slept? There have been a few, and some of them have been pretty good. I have 28 Days Later and I Am Legend in mind as I write this.

     Lately I’ve been battling a growing sense that we’re living in one.

***

     I’m just home from Mass. When you next attend Mass, note the behavior of the congregants: as they arrive, as they worship, and as they depart. (What’s that? You’re not a Catholic? Well, there’s still time. I’ll pray for you.) Recently I’ve been paying attention to my fellow parishioners’ attitudes toward one another. They exhibit a definite reluctance to interact. Indeed, after we prayed the Lord’s Prayer we once clasped hands with those nearest to us and wished one another peace. The custom seems to have gone into the dustbin.

     You could easily get the idea that we’re afraid of one another.

     I know, I know: the COVID-19 pandemic has done a number on millions of heads. But that’s over. More, it was revealed to be a 99.7% fraud: we were in more danger from the medical profession and the vaccine than from the virus itself. Haven’t we internalized that yet?

     I tried to make light of it. It deserved as much ridicule as I could heap on it. But the fear of others was palpable. And apparently, it has some staying power.

     There are some things other than the Kung Flu that are making us view one another with fear. You could probably reel off half a dozen as you read this. While some of those influences are artifacts of too much attention to the news, others have definite substance.

     Clearly, the “high-trust society” of old has taken some body blows. Fear and trust are mutually exclusive. Moreover, high-bandwidth digital communications is helping us to isolate ourselves. The fraction of his shopping that a typical American does by actually leaving the house and visiting a brick-and-mortar store has dwindled sharply. The majority of meetings, outside of the sort that take place among co-workers in the same building, are now conducted via Zoom or equivalent. And of course our communications tend to be at a distance as well. Oftentimes they’re devoid of the sight of our faces and the sound of our voices.

     Must I say explicitly that this is not healthful?

     “Touch is the most fundamental sense,” wrote Robert A. Heinlein. He was quite correct. So also was Dr. Eric Berne: “If you are not stroked, your spinal cord will shrivel up.”

     There’s a whole lotta shriveling going on just now.

***

     Four years ago, as the Pandemic Panic was getting into high gear, Bookworm wrote:

     I very strongly believe that part of America’s falling apart is that we no longer see or speak to each other. Once upon a time, daily commercial transactions bound Americans together. At the grocery store, the butcher’s, the hardware store, etc., we’d see the same clerks and run into the same friends and neighbors. Those small interactions, repeated over and over, create a strong sense of community. I know that’s true because, for all its political leftism, that’s what life was like raising kids in Marin County. I lived in the functional equivalent of a small town, recognizing people wherever I went. Few were friends but all were friendly.
     Nowadays, especially thanks to the lockdowns, we do much of our shopping online. Even when we do visit a physical store, such as rising into a grocery store after work, people are masked and turned inwards. Saying “hello” through the mask requires physical effort.
     Social media, contrary to its name, hasn’t made us more social; it’s made us more angry. We don’t see each other’s faces so it’s easy to yell and insult. The very nature of a mob is that its very mass makes it impersonal. No one person is responsible for the physical or emotional damage it does. It’s the rare person who, like Clarence Thomas during the race riots after Martin Luther King’s death, looks at what he did while he was part of the mob and is so horrified that he completely revamps his life.

     We’re unlikely to touch one another when we fear so greatly that we refrain from leaving our homes.

***

     After Mass, I had a sad conversation with my pastor. Some weeks ago he’d floated the idea of a “Keep In Touch” ministry, whose volunteers would make regular visits to other parishioners who felt a need for more human connection. I volunteered to participate at once. But the idea seemed to fall off the agenda afterward. I asked him if he still thinks the idea is a good one. He replied that he does, but that recently he’d been too busy with funerals.

     Glory be to God! Must the attention we give to the dead and those who mourn them completely displace our attention from the still living? When among them are surely individuals who desperately need the sight of a friendly face and a warm handclasp to go on living? Yes, burying the dead, with appropriate ceremony, is one of the corporal works of mercy…but so is visiting the sick, including the soul-sick, the lonely, and the despairing. We must make room for it!

     That is, if those subtly inculcated fears of one another will permit it.

***

     The problem is not stiff. Indeed, it’s too BLEEP!ing simple. If we want life, we must give life to others, with our faces, hands, and voices. That includes both temporal and eternal life. It’s profoundly unchristian to withhold ourselves from others who need us, especially when the need is one we might soon feel ourselves. If what’s keeping us apart is fear, allow me to ask in the starkest possible terms:

What do we have to fear?

     May God bless and keep you all.

The Culture War: Dispatches From The Front Lines

     Two years ago, Matt Walsh was still near the beginning of his What Is A Woman? campaign. He wasn’t yet widely regarded as a vanguard combatant in the conflict over transgenderism. Today his name is closely associated with that conflict, and for good reason: he’s absolutely forthright about his position:

     Note the shocked faces on the gender-crossers and their ideological allies. Walsh didn’t call them lunatics; rather, he implied that they have aligned themselves against the truth. How? By their assertion that “Transwomen are women.”

     Transwomen are not women. They’re men who’ve chosen to strive for a female presentation, however successfully. Whether it’s through extensive surgical alterations or merely through clothes and cosmetics, that is the beating heart of the conflict: whether we will honor truth in our discourse about this phenomenon.

     The general attitude toward truth – that is, whether it’s a matter of objective facts or merely someone’s opinion – is a critical front in the culture wars.

***

     A few years ago, I wrote that in my investigation of the transgenderism phenomenon, I’d found these patterns:

  1. A large majority (perhaps as many as 90%, though the statistics are incomplete) of transgender transitions are from male to female.
  2. Among male-to-female transgenders – transwomen – the self-perception of inadequacy as a man was prevalent, and was often reinforced by factors in their surroundings.
  3. Transwomen almost uniformly pursue traditional ideals of femininity, often extreme femininity, in appearance, dress, and deportment.
  4. A surprising number of men, including some extremely masculine men, have found transwomen to be more attractive and sexually appealing than biological women of their acquaintance.

     Please pay special attention to items 3 and 4 above. As regards romantic and sexual attraction, what matters most is presentation. Apparently, the decline in the willingness of biological women to embrace the feminine norms that American men find attractive has caused the attention of some to “swerve” to an alternative that few would have embraced a century ago.

     Recently I revisited my sources for those searches, and the trend has grown even stronger. A growing number of men – even some very masculine men – have elected to pursue transwomen by preference to biological women. In effect, they’ve deemed the ongoing embrace of femininity by transwomen as more trustworthy than that of biological women – and femininity, rather than functional female genitals, is what they value most.

     Are such men somehow supporting the transgenderist ideology? I think not. Rather, they’re making personal choices to which the ideological component of transgenderism is irrelevant. As regards the cultural battle, those men are better aligned with Matt Walsh than with his opponents and detractors. They know full well that their partners are not women.

***

     As I mentioned the day before yesterday, the soon-to-debut PlayStation 5 game Stellar Blade is making big waves among video gamers, videogame critics, and videogame development houses. Preorders for the game have smashed all previous records. Some gamers have even said that before the promos for Stellar Blade, they’d had no interest in the PlayStation 5 but will now be purchasing one. It’s definitely the game of the hour, even though it won’t be released for another two weeks.

     Stellar Blade’s playable protagonist character Eve was designed to “pinup” specifications. She’s also clothed in form-fitting costumes, complete with high heels. While Eve is the typical badass you’d expect from the protagonist of an action platformer, she exemplifies femininity, especially feminine beauty, in all other ways. Gamers in the Western world are agog over her, for that reason among others.

     But Western game development houses, which have all but unanimously been colonized and conquered by the “woke,” are furious. Stellar Blade is making it plain to them that what they’ve been selling as female characters doesn’t please the gaming audience. They’ve deliberately made their women unattractive, even mannish. And the sales of games featuring those unattractive women are way down.

     Even if this stroke in the culture wars is being struck by a South Korean gaming house (Shift Up), it’s a telling blow against the “woke” incursions on prior norms. Anything that elicits this magnitude of enthusiasm – and resistance to the “woke” flood – must be counted as a major stroke. This is emphasized by the weeping and gnashing of teeth among “woke” game critics and developers. All of them are incandescent with hatred of Stellar Blade.

***

     Are we winning the culture war? Unclear. Perhaps it’s safer to say that we haven’t yet been defeated. If my perception of trends in the entertainment industry can be trusted, we’ve gained significant ground. Therefore, celebrate! We haven’t had much to celebrate in this connection for quite some time.

Just Another Reminder – Cheap Buys Have a Cost

Yes, I know it’s hard to manage expenses on a budget.

But, this is WRONG. As I’ve had ongoing problems with FB and other social media, I screenshotted this post, so it would not be ‘lost’.

The Well Is Dry…

     …and so am I. I desperately need a day away from the Net, if only to reacquaint myself with the analog world. Wait a moment: Is the world really analog? Or does it hide a sinister digital nature behind a bland, macroscopic mask of cause and effect? The public wants to know!

     Back tomorrow, I hope.

When Mary Had A Little Lamb…

     …her ObGyn scowled and asked her, “Just where have you been fooling around?” Mary merely giggled, albeit somewhat sheepishly.

     After yesterday – still think I’m slowing down, Pascal? – I have to kick back a bit. So instead of another epic diatribe, here are a few quick takes.

***

     First up is this report from Stephen Green about a librarian who was fired for wanting to be a librarian rather than a political censor:

     Cathy Simpson is, or rather was, head librarian at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library on the Canadian side of the river, so at least it didn’t happen here. Not that it can’t happen here, as Sinclair Lewis and I will never tire of reminding you.
     Back in February, Simpson wrote a charming op-ep — at least to my eyes — for Niagara Now headlined, “Censorship and what we are allowed to read.”
     […]
     So when Simpson went on to ask her “colleagues to recognize their biases and recommit to striving for library neutrality and viewpoint diversity in collections,” they fired her.
     They fired her for “asking all writers, publishers, library workers, teachers and readers to acknowledge that pressure to suppress the availability of books can come from across the political spectrum” during Canada’s Freedom to Read Week.

     We already knew that Canada is sliding into totalitarianism. Still, I didn’t expect this from professional librarians. Librarians of my acquaintance have always professed devotion to the ideal of freedom of expression, viewpoint neutrality, and so forth. Usually while they were looking for somewhere to hide the latest books from Thomas Sowell, Dinesh D’Souza, and Ann Coulter.

***

     It doesn’t take a lot to drive the “wokesters” up the batty tree. You’re probably aware that they regard nothing – no area of human action – to have the right to go without their tender supervision. My own field of speculative fiction has suffered gravely from their success at infiltrating and colonizing the industry. In recent years they’ve also set their sights on video games, as this episode and this more recent phenomenon should make plain.

     Well, there’s at least one game developer that isn’t having any “woke” crap: South Korean game company Shift Up is going its own way. Its upcoming PS5 release Stellar Blade, an action platformer set on a post-apocalyptic Earth overrun by alien monsters, features Eve, a sexy main character in form-fitting garb. The previews have evoked wild excitement from American gamers. Predictably, the “wokesters” are furious:

     Simply put, some find the design of Eve and the team’s attitude (as well as the attitude of some Stellar Blade fans) towards her design to be problematic or simply creepy. Some are simply uncomfortable with that general approach to character design (or this specific instance of it), while others argue that this “fan service” style feels regressive at a time when female character designs in major games are regularly criticized by some gamers for apparently not being sexy enough.
     There’s a bit more to this story than that, though. Issues with personal uncomfortableness aside, some critics of Stellar Blade suggest that the developers are leaning into the sexuality of its lead character to generate hype for reasons other than the game itself. Those criticisms are compounded by the studio’s history of highly sexualized titles with questionable microtransactions and their prior inexperience with Triple-A games.

     Hm. A sexy main character in a fantasy / science fiction game. What an important cultural target for the rad-fems and the woke legions! It might just drive them…well, even more insane. Already, one lefty game-columnist has had to apologize for slamming Shift Up’s character design — and for a very funny reason.

     If you’d like a preview, just go to YouTube and search for Stellar Blade. You’ll find several video walkthroughs of the demo release. The gameplay looks both complex and challenging. Yes, Eve is beautiful and her costumes are very sexy. Perhaps we needed a reminder, Gentle Reader: a shapely woman clad in a sexy costume and carrying a huge, hi-tech sword can conquer anything. Watch for them in your neighborhood!

***

     We recently bought a new bed with some extra features: specifically, head and foot portions that can be raised or lowered on command. The C.S.O. and I are generally satisfied with it, despite the expense and the difficulties we had to endure to get it. However, it seems to have a drawback we hadn’t considered.

     You see, the remote communicates with the bed’s motion base by WiFi. The remote must be paired with the motion base before it will operate the bed. Thus, if for some reason your WiFi fails you, the remote will stop working until it’s been paired afresh. But that’s not all.

     Yesterday at bedtime, we discovered that the head and foot portions of the bed had been raised all the way to their stops: roughly a 30-degree angle with the horizontal. That’s not our preferred sleeping position, to say the least. I didn’t do it; neither did Beth. There’s only one other explanation: someone else with a Wifi-capable cell phone passed our house and – all unknowing – did something to “trigger” our bed.

     At this point, I’m just grateful it happened during daylight hours. Imagine if it had happened while we were abed. Clearly, not everything should be linked to the Internet.

***

     Concerning yesterday’s big piece, I’ve received a lot of email, most of it condemning…me. It seems there are a lot of folks who automatically assume that anyone who argues against the War on Drugs must be a drug addict, or at the least an enthusiastic consumer. Sorry, hostile correspondents: you’re wrong on both counts. But that has been a favorite argumentative tactic of those opposed to government drug-nannyism for quite some time.

     However, some of the mail has taken a surprising position: the writers argue for the benefits of currently illegal drugs. I reject the proposition that a drug that distorts one’s perceptions, or causes hallucinations, is good for you. I’m utterly against it, even as I argue that those drugs should be decriminalized.

     Some writers have claimed such drugs stimulate their imagination. There’s a problem with that notion. No drug contains a new idea. No drug contributes anything to one’s consciousness but distortions. He who believes that he “owes” the new idea he had to the drug he was using has missed that point. The idea was already within him. All he had to do was notice it.

     Getting a good grasp of that truth is important to clean living.

***

     That’s all for today, I think. Have a good Thursday, April 11 in this Year of Our Lord 2024.

Drugs And Realism

     It’s a longstanding conviction of mine, along with Thomas Sowell, that “There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs.” Among its other faults, the Left harps on “solutions” as if it could guarantee the outcomes of its policies. That would be a thrill, wouldn’t it?

     The signal characteristic of a solution is that the problem disappears. After all, once it’s been “solved,” there should be no lingering manifestations of it, right? And indeed, that is the attitude of the Left toward just about anything they choose to harp on. However, it’s not perfectly confined to the Left. On certain subjects, the Right has the same attitude.

     Let’s start from a frank observation or two:

  • People have been using drugs to alter their consciousnesses for centuries.
  • The “drug problem” in the United States involves millions of people.
  • It also involves many billions of dollars in annual trade.
  • It’s been going on since the early Twentieth Century.

     I have no skin in this game. I don’t use recreational drugs, unless wine is counted as one. The neighborhood I live in is largely free from any excrescences of the illegal drug trade. But I do have an interest in law and order, in the well-being of Americans, and in American childrens’ futures. That makes the “drug problem” a subject of concern to me.

     But I maintain that there is no “solution” to the “drug problem.” No possible change in public policy will eliminate the use of recreational drugs, and I can prove it.

     Imagine a totalitarian society, in which enforcers of the Leader’s will are wherever one might look. Imagine that there’s no right of privacy there, that even one’s body is subject to arbitrary search at any moment. Imagine that the movements of everyone confined to that society are also carefully controlled; no resident can do so much as pass through a door without permission and supervision. Imagine that escape from that society is effectively impossible, while ingress is closely and carefully controlled.

     Pretty hard to imagine a way to get the drug trade into that society, eh? I mean, how would you go about it? You’d have to corrupt the enforcers, wouldn’t you? You’d have to promise them a piece of the action. Moreover, you’d have to ensure that all drug trade would require their approval.

     That is exactly what has happened in America’s prisons. It’s happened to nearly as great an extent to America’s urban police forces. Drug use is utterly rampant in our prisons. Nothing any reform-oriented warden has tried has reduced it. The amounts of money to be made are too great.

     The reform wardens and anti-drug zealots will tell you differently, of course. It’s up to you to demand evidence.

***

     We start from there: there is no solution. But there may be a method of amelioration. To find it, we must hold tight to our realism.

     A critical insight is required of us. Specifically, we must answer a penetrating question:


What do we really want
From our fight against drug use?

     To focus our thinking, we must be utterly candid about what bothers us, whether about drug use or anything else. So let’s list the harms that arise from recreational drugs, as extensively as possible:

  • What they do to the user:
    1. Some drugs are physically addictive.
    2. Most are also physically harmful to the user.
    3. They also deflect the user from productive activity.
    4. Even the least harmful ones can have long-term psychological effects.
  • What they do to public institutions and social cohesion:
    1. The drug trade greatly enriches organized crime.
    2. It also corrupts many of our politicians and our law enforcers.
    3. Drug use in the military, though largely undiscussed, is a significant problem.
    4. The drug trade has a negative effect on our relations with several other countries.
    5. Family members’ efforts to protect drug-involved relatives degrade respect for the law.
  • Other harms:
    1. Fighting the drug trade costs many billions of dollars per year.
    2. Drug enforcement is largely responsible for the obscenity called “asset forfeiture.”
    3. It also compels violations of Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights. (Think “no-knock raid.”)

     That’s everything I can think of at the moment. No doubt I’ve omitted something, but perhaps some Gentle Reader will put it in the comments. In any event, I submit that what makes us hostile to recreational drugs are the harms above – and make no mistake: they are considerable. Yet there is no method available by which all the harms can be eliminated.

     Discovering an acceptable trade-off might involve accepting that some of the harms cannot be reduced by any means imaginable. Nevertheless, we should try to find a path toward reducing all of them: a path that doesn’t involve still worse harms to individuals or to American society.

***

     Still more realism will be required of us, owing to the longevity of America’s drug problem.

     Not many are aware that drug use was first elevated to the status of a problem that needed to be addressed by public policy early in the Twentieth Century. The first federal measure intended to combat drug use arrived in 1914, with the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act:

     In the 1800s opiates and cocaine were mostly unregulated drugs. In the 1890s the Sears & Roebuck catalogue, which was distributed to millions of Americans homes, offered a syringe and a small amount of cocaine for $1.50. On the other hand, as early as 1880 some states and localities had already passed laws against smoking opium, at least in public.
At the beginning of the 20th century, cocaine began to be linked to crime. In 1900, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an editorial stating, “Negroes in the South are reported as being addicted to a new form of vice – that of ‘cocaine sniffing’ or the ‘coke habit.'” Some newspapers later claimed cocaine use caused blacks to rape white women and was improving their pistol marksmanship. Chinese immigrants were blamed for importing the opium-smoking habit to the U.S. The 1903 blue-ribbon citizens’ panel, the Committee on the Acquirement of the Drug Habit, concluded, “If the Chinaman cannot get along without his dope we can get along without him.”
     […]
     The drafters played on fears of “drug-crazed, sex-mad negroes” and made references to Negroes under the influence of drugs murdering whites, degenerate Mexicans smoking marijuana, and “Chinamen” seducing white women with drugs. Dr. Hamilton Wright, testified at a hearing for the Harrison Act. Wright alleged that drugs made blacks uncontrollable, gave them superhuman powers and caused them to rebel against white authority. Dr. Christopher Koch of the State Pharmacy Board of Pennsylvania testified that “Most of the attacks upon the white women of the South are the direct result of a cocaine-crazed Negro brain”.
     Before the Act was passed, on February 8, 1914, The New York Times published an article entitled “Negro Cocaine ‘Fiends’ Are New Southern Menace: Murder and Insanity Increasing Among Lower-Class Blacks” by Edward Huntington Williams, which reported that Southern sheriffs had increased the caliber of their weapons from .32 to .38 to bring down Negroes under the effect of cocaine.

     The laws against the importation and sale of the opiates and cocaine were strengthened over the succeeding decades. In 1937, Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act, which outlawed cannabis-based drugs as well.

     From the very first, organized crime seized upon those outlawed substances and became their marketers and source. The major crime organizations were jubilant about the opportunity and the revenue. After the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed, they badly needed the money. That was how drug abuse flowered to become a major subject of public policy in the United States.

     While it might not be perfectly obvious, a problem that’s been compounded over a century and more, with ever more people and foreign nations getting involved, isn’t likely to be ameliorated satisfactorily in a year or two. The demand alone makes that an unreasonable expectation.

***

     As long as there are drug abusers, there will be human suffering. That’s indisputable. But it may be possible to reduce the demand over time. Harsh legal penalties have not done so. Indeed, the outlawed status of those highly sought-after drugs is part of the problem: it’s responsible for the prices of those drugs and the crime and corruption they evoke.

     How does one reduce the demand for anything? Raising the price sometimes works; so does introducing a superior alternative. And of course, anti-drug education, especially of the young, is critical. Teens who know what drugs such as heroin and cocaine can do to them are less likely to use them. However, I must admit that the arrogance of youth often manifests in the statement that “It won’t happen to me.” A counteractant to that is as yet unknown.

     Reducing the demand for a drug among the already addicted is much harder. You could say that the addict lives for his drug of choice. At any rate, he often claims that he can’t live without it. Nor is therapy of any sort particularly effective; the rate of recidivism among users of hard drugs that “get clean” is appalling:

     We don’t know how many drug addicts never even try to kick their habits. How could we? Merely admitting to his problem is likely to get the addict incarcerated – another negative effect of the outlawing of those drugs. Add to that the likelihood that relatives will attempt to shield the user from the law, especially if the user is young. That has the unintended consequences of buttressing demand while simultaneously making those well-intentioned relatives lawbreakers themselves, which is an important part of the problem.

     As of this moment, there is only one way to reduce the demand for addictive drugs among those already addicted: letting them die. When all the effects are accounted for, the current practice of trying to “help” the drug addict, rather than allowing him to suffer the consequences of his behavior, might be the most harmful thing we do.

***

     Now for a few words about metastability. Ponder the following simple drawing:

     The ball in the depression pictured above is in a gravitationally metastable state. In the absence of any attempt to move it, it will remain where it is. Some attempts to move it will merely disturb it fleetingly; after a moment, it will return to its current position. But a sufficient attempt – one that would push it over the top of one of the bounding humps – would cause it to roll down the hill. In other words, to get the ball to a lower altitude, we must first push it higher.

     Metastability is like that. It’s my contention that the drug abuse problem is metastable against any and all proposed counteractions. That metastability arises from the age and size of the problem:

  • The size of demand;
  • The number of addicts;
  • The amounts of money involved;
  • The huge amount of official corruption;
  • The unwisdom of our attempts to “help” the drug addict;
  • Not least of all, our resistance to admitting that we’ve gone in the wrong direction, which is especially strong among public officials and prominent anti-drug activists.

     Oregon’s recent decision to recriminalize various drugs was motivated by the metastability of drug abuse. Among other things, merely decriminalizing those drugs was insufficient; see the list immediately above. Even if all the proper measures and repeals had been applied, not enough time had gone by for “the ball” to start “rolling downhill.”

     I could be wrong; I’ve been wrong in the past. But so could the “drug warriors,” including my Co-Conspirators. None of us are infallible, and none of us are saints.

***

     If we’re willing to allow that a total “zero it all out” solution is impossible, we can adjust our expectations. Reasonable expectations must incorporate the insistence on measuring the right things. That emphatically means don’t measure inputs. Inputs tell us nothing about harm reduction. Measure instead the rate at which addicts are forming; the amounts of money being spent per capita, the overall level of crime associated with drug abuse, and similar effects.

     A few closing words from H. L. Mencken, with regard to another social pathology: prostitution:

     There is no half-baked ecclesiastic, bawling in his galvanized-iron temple on a suburban lot, who doesn’t know precisely how it ought to be dealt with. There is no fantoddish old suffragette, sworn to get her revenge on man, who hasn’t a sovereign remedy for it. There is not a shyster of a district attorney, ambitious for higher office, who doesn’t offer to dispose of it in a few weeks, given only enough help from the city editors. And yet, by the same token, there is not a man who has honestly studied it and pondered it, bringing sound information to the business, and understanding of its inner difficulties and a clean and analytical mind, who doesn’t believe and hasn’t stated publicly that it is intrinsically and eternally insoluble. For example, Havelock Ellis. His remedy is simply a denial of all remedies. He admits that the disease is bad, but he shows that the medicine is infinitely worse, and so he proposes going back to the plain disease, and advocates bearing it with philosophy, as we bear colds in the head, marriage, the noises of the city, bad cooking and the certainty of death. Man is inherently vile—but he is never so vile as when he is trying to disguise and deny his vileness. No prostitute was ever so costly to a community as a prowling and obscene vice crusader, or as the dubious legislator or prosecuting officer who jumps at such swine pipe.

     Mencken could be speaking directly to us. There are days I wish he could.

Another wind-up toy hits close to home

Aloha Snackbar!

CNN reported Tuesday that Mercurio “planned to attack churches in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on Sunday ‘using weapons, including knives, firearms, and fire,’ according to court documents cited by the Justice Department.” He is accused of writing out his plan: “Stop close by the church, equip the weapon(s) and storm the temple, kill as many people as possible before they inevitably disperse/scatter, then burn the temple to the ground and flee the scene.” He planned improbably to repeat this scenario at all 21 churches in Coeur d’Alene; what he imagined the local police might be doing in all the time it would have taken to do this is unclear.

Short-short version, an eighteen year old wanted to kill people at church in my hometown. Now, if you want to read the legal stuff against him, Big Country has it right here for ya. And the one thing that jumped out at BC, as well as at me, was that the feds were pumping this kid for TWO YEARS.

So the Fedbois were talking this kid up ever since he was sixteen.

You think that maybe somebody, somewhere, could have gotten him some help in that timeframe? Huh? Anyone? Nah? We’re just gonna let the Fedbois turn this kid into a wind-up toy and see what happens?

Oh, and maybe, just maybe, track down the origin of the source that radicalized the kid in the first place? Maybe? Just maybe do that? Nah? Wind-up toy it is!

Every time I think I can’t hate my government any more, they prove me wrong.

Avert Your Eyes, Citizen!

     In this Year of Our Lord 2024, there are a multitude of things of which We the People are not supposed to take notice. The graphic just below lists a hefty few of them, whose effacement is assisted by “our” “news media.” There are others of note, some of them pertaining to the behavioral trends among various demographic cohorts. This morning, one of them is drawing attention:

     MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – All eyes are on Memphis as leaders from states across the country meet in the Bluff City for the first-ever Black Mayors’ Coalition on Crime.
     That coalition, created by Memphis Mayor Paul Young in partnership with the African American Mayors Association, is looking for discussion and solutions around public safety.
     “We are solidified and resolved in the fact that we are stronger together. The national crime data may show some decreases in overall crime stats, but what we discussed today is that if people don’t feel safe, then the statistics don’t matter,” said Mayor Young.
     Whether you’re walking the streets of Memphis and Shelby County, pumping gas, or just sitting in your home, you deserve to feel safe wherever you go.
     “We’re ensuring amongst ourselves that this will not be the last engagement but we will continue to lean in,” said Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba.
     Mayors and leaders from Jackson, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Durham, St. Louis and more met Wednesday and Thursday to talk about crime and solutions.

     There’s so much ludicrousness in the above snippet that words fail me, albeit temporarily. But then, they’re black mayors, aren’t they?

     There aren’t a lot of American municipalities where:

  • The population is heavily white, and:
  • The chief executive is black.

     It happens now and then, but rarely. By contrast, when the demographics of a municipality are heavily black, that district tends to elect and appoint blacks to public office. And by the way, that district also tends to have elevated crime and public disorder statistics – sometimes, very elevated. But that’s one of those things we’re not supposed to notice.

     So these black mayors have assembled to discuss “solutions” to the crime problem being produced by “their people.” And what kind of solution do they favor?

     “We have a lot of violence around convenience stores and gas stations,” said St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones. “So how can we hold those business owners accountable and also bring down crime? Some of the things are already doing, we’re finding other mayors are doing as well.”

     You read that right, Gentle Reader. Tishaura Jones wants to hold business owners responsible for not enforcing the law. Does anyone see a wee problem with that approach? Anyone? Bueller?

     The leniency cities have shown to predatory blacks has engendered a special culture among them, especially young black males. That culture is founded on an assumption of privilege: the privilege of breaking the law, even violently, and getting away with it. As that assumption has been treated ever more solicitously these past few years, it’s solidified to diamond hardness. Undoing it will require very harsh measures.

***

     I wrote some time ago:

     When a society makes special provisions for a particular class of persons, such that those persons have a good expectation of not suffering for illegal or antisocial behavior, it has committed the worst imaginable injustice against the persons in that class who honor their society’s laws and norms: it has equalized the legal, social, and moral positions of good citizens and thugs. Thus, if ninety percent of such a class is law-abiding and decorous while ten percent is violent, dishonest, or disruptive, the latter category will come to overshadow the former in the perceptions of persons outside the class — not because ten percent is a majority, but because that anti-social subgroup is identified with the class’s special set of privileges.

     A class is defined by its legal and social privileges. The aristocrats of medieval times were not distinguished by their lineages or their deeds, but by the things they were allowed to do, without penalty, that commoners were not. There is reason to believe that the majority of medieval aristocrats were fairly responsible stewards of their lands and of public order within them. That does not justify the creation of a class of men who could wield high, middle, and low justice over others, but who would normally escape all consequences for deeds for which a commoner would be severely punished.

     I also wrote, long ago:

     [W]e know from historical data that predators of all sorts will concentrate where the prey is fattest.

     So if any Gentle Reader has been wondering why blacks concentrate in cities – the larger, the better – you have your answer. Black politicians will naturally pursue concentrations of black residents. After all, where would their electoral prospects be better than in a heavily black city? And of course, the effective insulation from legal penalties granted to the residents is repaid by regularly returning the politicians to office.

     As the man said in the movie, don’t look at me; I didn’t do it. Though I’m regularly excoriated for noticing it.

***

     I could go on, but there’s no need. Charles Murray, who doesn’t get a tenth of the acclaim he deserves, has already done the spadework, and besides, I have an essay to write on the drug problem. Violent crimes and crimes against property are on the rise in cities and municipalities where blacks are overrepresented, and just about nowhere else in this blessed land. Black politicians strain mightily to blame the crime rates of the places that elect them on anything else. But in suburbs around those cities where zoning, housing costs, and general aversion has kept black occupancy down, the crime rate is far lower.

     It’s not racism. Decide for yourself what it is. And see if you can muster the courage to say it where others can hear.

A Reminder From Mike Miles

     Shamelessly stolen from 90 Miles From Tyranny:

     ‘Nuff said.

Why The Decent Must Counter The Screams

The Progressive movement has always known the importance of the scream. Conservatives have, for the most part, been identified as the base of the “Silent Majority.” Indeed, we’ve had it beaten into us as a matter of pride that “we are not like them” by high minded voices such as William F. Buckley Jr.

Well, maybe, just maybe, Buckley was a major Prog mole. Sure, we enjoyed him talking down to the smug Left; but maybe not so much when he did so to those he declared too far right, effectively giving license to MSM to help shut them down. (Given that Buckley’s baby, National Review, has become a major employer of Conservative Inc, he himself may have been the seed that made NR another victim of Conquest’s 2nd Law.)

Whatever the reason, and however the Progs achieved it, keeping the right more silent than their allies allowed the Progs to use their most effective weapon — the scream (being why “there are no enemies to the left”) — while the right kept their screamers muffled.

For reasons that escape me, the scream has never been identified as the Left’s primary tool to implement Critical Theory. A definition of Critical Theory, stripped of all its camouflage, is the criticizing of anything and everything in a culture under attack so that idealized Marxism — an ideology implicitly designed to exploit envy — provides opportunities for power seekers to seize control. Example: declaring those who fix up derelict homes as engaging in “gentrification.” Object, don’t bother learning skills so you can afford a home. Better you rent in block housing and own and learn nothing.

Have you ever pondered what is meant by “social engineering?” I did many years ago, and wrote about what I discovered in a humorous fashion. I sincerely regret my stupidity for not taking my analogy seriously. That is despite every hardware engineering colleague I shared it with agreeing with the validity of the analogy I came up with.

Essentially social engineering is a discipline that seeks to alter the nature of society by whatever means that might be at hand. The social engineer gets tasked with overcoming the resistance people have to any number of things. One of these things would be change. Convincing them that they are not getting what they were promised is another. Getting them to acquiesce to what they detest or find harmful is a third. Authorities learned from history that when resistance to actions are lowest, it is easiest to act.

Put into words, the rate or speed or ease of action will be proportional to the pressures applied and inversely proportional to the resistance to the pressures and/or actions.

Action ∝ Pressure/Resistance      (1)

What is a scream? Starting with the very basics: when an infant wails it wants to be fed, warmed, chilled, comforted or have its diaper changed. We are pressured into action. Take two examples: coming to its aid; shouting “take your baby home to a sitter” followed by applause from the theater audience. A scream (a cry, a shout, etc.) represents the desire or drive — arising from some stimulus — for change from one state to another. In physics, this is known as potential difference.

Whereas the hard sciences of fluid dynamics, heat transfer, electricity and material diffusion are all driven by the potential differences of pressure, temperature, voltage and concentration, respectively, the soft science of social engineering is driven by the scream.

The best known form of modeling hard science networks is found in the design of electrical circuitry. Although electrical theory can take one deep into advanced calculus, a linear approximation known as Ohm’s Law is most often used to design networks of circuits. Ohm’s Law may be represented in the form suggested by equation 1 above as current = voltage/resistance.

I = V/R.        (2)

And from that one gets Power = V²/R.    (3)

Designing heat transfer systems (where I made my living) is often done via what we call the electrical analogy. It uses a generalized form of Fourier’s law of conduction, heat flow = temperature difference/resistance.

q = ΔT/R          (4)

And because for some jobs I needed to design plenum chambers that passed through heat exchangers so as to remove heat from cooling streams, I once again found it useful to employ a linearized electrical analogy: mass flow squared = pressure difference/impedance.

w² = ΔP/Z        (5)

With all the above hard sciences lining up as they do, this ought to explain to the lay reader why my colleagues immediately recognized the validity of an equation for social engineering: Political action = Screams/Resistance.

A = S/R              (6)

and from that one gets Power = S²/R        (7)

“So what Pascal?” you may ask. We know propaganda works. We don’t control the powers that be’s enormous number of platforms to overwhelm us. And we will never have anything like Ayn Rand’s Deus ex machina wherein John Galt took all of them over. And even that didn’t solve the problems affecting the minds of the ultimate victims — the little common man of her novel.

Well, there’s more. Terrifyingly more. We must all come to grips with the fact that our enemies have almost completely removed the cloak over their horrible intentions and gloat by gaslighting their most obvious assaults. They are showing off for the very purpose to overwhelm us with their awesomeness.

Do you see any circuit breakers in this version of the electrical analogy?

Well, electrical circuits have them. Without them, you can draw too much current through the circuits and you burn down the house beginning at the location that is weakest.

Civilized societies have them. For disputes between neighbors we have:

  • Civil discussions
  • Debates
  • Mediators
  • Arbitrators
  • Courts with juries
  • Courts without jury

For criminal behavior there are police to keep the incidents lower. And then prosecutors and criminal courts and prisons to deal with that element.

And what has the radical Left and SKUNCs been doing lately? Doing all they can to eliminate every one of those circuit breakers. Soros prosecutors are much more prominent today than when I began this essay 18 months ago.

And long before this, there is another element of electrical analogy the psychos have been using to help them destroy our peaceful order. Let me make an analogy of the power of induction.

Just as we can build up a magnet by winding any ferro-magnetic material with wires and run a current through it, our enemy has been using media and education institutions to induce depravities in every human being. Our surroundings are soaking with every weird idea from minor aberrations to the vilest of cruelties.

But not every human being is attracted to every depraved suggestion, just as aluminum and wood and glass won’t become magnets as iron does. But provide enough different aberrant suggestions, and the destroyers reap a huge build-up of outliers. Each one provides the insatiably power-mad wokesters an excuse to shout down even those who wish to protect the targets of the latest depravity. Do I really have to provide examples? (Well, please see the footnotes for a wide variety of examples.)

Here is something I feel certain about. Every man who finds the strength to deny himself the compulsion to succumb to the one of those pornographic displays that attracts him most is repaying God by doing the right thing. Furthermore, each of us who overcomes the huge effort by the enemy to shrug off our natural resistance to their attacks is doing the same.

Let me end this with what I believe to be an improvement on the observation by Aristotle that “virtue is its own reward.” He came to that conclusion before his most renown pupil, Alexander the Great, came in contact with the Jewish concept of God and its ethical monotheism. Let me suggest to you that your virtues, despite your failures, are your repayment to God for your very life. In that sense, our virtue is His reward.

As I concluded at A Minor Insight That Could Inspire A Solution, the few among the-powers-that-be who are psychopaths know that many of the others still retain a portion of their truly good inclinations. These latter still think well of themselves, have a sense of leaving a good legacy, and so they would respond to our pleas for reform. The psychos and less virulent sociopaths are counting on us to remain silent.

So please add your loud and clear countering voice to your virtues. There are risks and the psychos will fight back, but it will restore your battered soul.


[Beginning on 2/21/24: Other supporting words:

  • https://tomklingenstein.com/how-censorship-drives-the-woke-revolution/ because silencing voices countering the screams of the radicals helps reduce the public’s resistance to their demands. This man has long recognized the war being raged against citizens.]
  • James Lindsay SHATTERS Woke Ideology: EU Parliament Speech what he says on the development of Critical theory (@22:50) fully supports my paragraph on it]
  • 2/26/24 Provides examples of censorship PragerU by Philip Hamburger, Professor of Law at Columbia U
  • 2/27/24 Provides examples of Conquest’s 3rd. Consequence of long term due to Conquest’s 2nd where as decent folk said little their resistance was gradually diminished. Regarding today’s museum curators, we hear a bit after 12:32 one conclusion: “I think that trustees obviously always have to reinvigorate and renew collections what I think is strange is that they should hate the collections which they are in charge of. “ Throughout this piece we learn of one museum (institutions of art and history) after another behaving this way.
  • 2/28 Whittle & Co laugh at cannibalism while ignoring its twin. My Comment: As if organ transplantation hasn’t become common in the last 60 years. Cannibalization of body parts IS cannibalism in disguise. It’s so widely accepted, unquestioned, that I’d bet big money that all 3 of you would engage in the practice without concern that the donor might be some victimized Chinese slave or disappeared child.
  • E.g., Were Canadians not conditioned into silence by statist media agit-prop, more than half of them would resist. MAID would be known as MAIM: D for dying replaced by M for murder.
  • 3/12/24 Paraphrasing Dr Phil interviewed by JPPeterson: ‘individual consciousness can’t contribute to the collective consciousness when one is fearful to speak up’
  • 3/22/24 Universalizing FWP “almost all decent people have good intentions themselves, and therefore extend that presumption to others”
  • 4/6/24 Mobilizing screamers to achieve concessions Radical Implementation by Cloward-Piven Model — MNN org, episode 345 of “The Radical Imagination”

“Getting Close To Post Time”

     Ever heard that phrase? It may not be used commonly anymore. It originated in the years when most betting on horse races was done at betting sites remote from the race track. If you wanted to bet on a race, you had to get your bet in by “post time:” the moment at which all the horses and riders had to be in their assigned stalls at the starting line. Bets on the race would not be accepted beyond that moment.

     In electoral terms, the closest equivalent to “post time” would probably be when the major parties have both announced their nominees. We already know that the GOP’s nominee will be Donald Trump. I’m not sure the Democrats will permit the nomination to go to Joe Biden, despite his “locked-in delegates” count supposedly having clinched that party’s nod. There’s still a possibility that their kingmakers will find a way to remove him. So I’d say we should consider the Democrats’ nominating convention – August 19-22, in Chicago – “post time” for the upcoming election.

     What shall we bet on? The eventual winner? The nature and timing of the October Surprises? How long after Election Day the results will be disputed? The amounts spent by the major parties on lawyers?

     Naah. That’s minor-league stuff. Everybody’s betting on some aspect of it. What’s occupying my thinking just now is the degree and duration of the post-election rioting.

     A few days ago, Robert Zimmerman prophesied thus:

     On Trump’s inauguration day in January 2017 leftist groups organized numerous violent protests that included “blocking roads, checkpoints, breaking windows, and setting fires.” Expect worse in 2025, because these thugs have now had eight years of training and practice. They know how to do this, and no longer have to face police forces as strong and willing to stop them. The Democratic Party’s “Defund the Police” and “no bail” policies have destroyed law enforcement to a point that we now see looting as routine behavior in many major cities.
     The riots and protests that I expect to occur before the election will pale in comparison to the violence of the protests after the election, should Trump win.

     Note the last three words of that citation. I have no doubt that Zimmerman’s assertion is correct. But I think that should the Usurpers manage to cheat Biden to a second term, there will still be violence. After all, we’re talking about demographics that rioted throughout 2020 and 2021. Some of them were still going in 2022. They’re propelled by the most violence-inclined groups among them: blacks and illegal aliens. Those cohorts continue to be Democrat Party allegiants that will expect a payoff for it…and the cheapest payoff the Dems could render them is a sotto voce license to loot and destroy once again.

     While we’re not yet too near to “post time,” some bets take longer to make than others. A few considerations for general reflection:

  • Are you a city-dweller? If so, you might want to consider being away for the two or three weeks after Election Day.
  • Do you own a business in a city? It might not be too late to buttress your theft-and-vandalism coverage…assuming your insurer is willing to extend it. He’s no dummy.
  • Do you have progeny in an American college or university? Don’t expect them to remain peaceful, regardless of the election’s outcome. You might want to encourage them to “fort up” if possible. Whether it’s possible will depend on many factors, so give it some thought.
  • If you aren’t an urbanite, how far are you from the nearest city? Trouble can travel, and just might once the city has been “picked over.”
  • Does anything you need to live travel through a large city to reach you? If it’s possible, stock up!

     And of course, two questions that must not be overlooked:

Got enough ammo?
Been to the range lately?

     Well controlled, accurate shooting is a perishable skill. Moreover, you can lose it faster than you can get it back. “Post time” is not that far off, so don’t shilly-shally.

     Just a few thoughts to brighten your morning. With that I’m off to Onteora County, so have a nice day.

Hope And Division Part 2

     In our conversations about important topics, the C.S.O. often asks what I consider to be the critical kind of question: the kind that clarifies what the issue really is. A question of that sort, put to someone with a particular stand on the issue, can get him to reveal what he values most.

     A good demonstrator arises from the endless snipings over gun control. Many a gun-control proponent says that his concern is harm to innocents, perhaps children. I had a colleague who was rabidly opposed to private ownership of firearms because, he said, if there were no guns in private hands, fewer people would be hurt or killed. So I asked him: “If I could show you hard evidence that increasing private ownership of guns actually reduces harm to innocents, would you reconsider your position?”

     The question agonized him. No one wants to be thought of as closed-minded toward the evidence. But a passionate position of any sort isn’t easily exposed to vulnerability. After some time, he said that he wouldn’t change his position – not, mind you, that he doubted that I could produce such evidence; rather that it wouldn’t affect his stance. So I said roughly this to him (it was a long time ago):

     “Then there must be something that matters to you more than harm to innocents, right? Something important enough to you that even if we could reduce harm to innocents by allowing private citizens to own guns, you would still be opposed to it. Would you mind telling me what that is?”

     He didn’t answer me, then or ever. But I’d planted a seed. Perhaps it made him rethink the matter privately.

     To return to the point: Beth asked me why prominent entertainers in the Right are so much more reticent about their politics than are those on the Left. Why, for example, are Clint Eastwood and Kurt Russell not as vociferous about their positions as are the multitudes of actors and musicians on the Left who seemingly can’t stop talking about them? It’s a question that doesn’t have a blanket answer, though there are some threads of connection worth noting.

     First to mind is the “our sort don’t do that” syndrome. Many persons choose their politics out of their admiration for others with whom they’d like to associate or be associated. If the general tendency among those admired ones is reticence about politics, the admirer will feel a pressure to emulate them in that regard. (Note also how that functions among those who admire persons on the Left.)

     Second is the matter of fundamental values, especially humility. If Smith sincerely prizes that value, he’ll surely try to live accordingly. He won’t promote himself or his convictions at the expense of others. In particular, he won’t use whatever following he may have as a platform from which to proselytize for his positions. Notably, the West’s two great religions, Christianity and Judaism, both incorporate humility in their fundamentals – and those two affiliations are more frequently found among those in the Right than on the Left.

     Third, and increasingly important in our time, is the unwillingness to tempt attackers. At a time when the media, a lot of the largest corporations, and a host of occupational associations are firmly under the Left’s control – see Robert Conquest’s Three Laws of Politics for the explanation – the potential for triggering a vicious and sustained attack on oneself by provoking those entities is huge. Many in the Right have suffered greatly from it. Though silence may be considered to give consent, it has the virtue of not calling fire down on one’s own position.

     There are surely other reasons pertinent to particular persons, but the above three generalize rather well over the American Right. Thus, we see Dwayne Johnson saying that henceforward he’ll keep his politics to himself, but not that he’s switched allegiances. Given what he’s said about combating division among Americans, that might well be the case, but proclaiming it would be inconsistent with the value he’s articulated.

     A coda: It’s been said that “I was wrong” is the hardest of all English-language sentences to master. In Pay The Two Dollars, his hilarious tome on law and lawsuits, Alexander Rose wrote that “Most people would rather plead guilty to murder than to ignorance.” Anyone who’s sat in enough status meetings will know this for truth, and it applies with tremendous force to changes in one’s political stances. The reluctance to admit to error inhibits everyone. On this subject I speak from experience.

Hope And Division

     This morning, Braden at Langley Outdoors Academy comments on a very interesting interview of Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson. In it, the star proclaims that in the interests of not further exciting division among those who pay attention to him, henceforth he’ll keep his politics to himself. It was an exceptional display of humility for an entertainer, a species not generally known for humility, and noteworthy for that reason among others.

     Johnson says that his motivation is not to foment further division among those who pay attention to him. That’s laudable, to be sure…unless you’re on the Left, which feeds on division. Popular anger and its mobilizing effect on its allegiants propelled the Left into power.

     Anyone familiar with the theses of Karl Marx will recognize the centrality of class warfare to the Left’s political strategy. The process is simple:

  • Invent some sort of division among the people. For Marxists, that’s traditionally been economic in nature: the “capitalists” or “bourgeoisie” against “the workers.”
  • Inflame those on the “losing end” of that division against the “privileged class.”
  • Use the anger thus evoked to mobilize for revolution, whether violent or peaceful.

     It works in places where the privileged class benefits substantially from the political power. The natural sense of wrongness about such a situation is readily exploited for political purposes. The pattern is on conspicuous display throughout Latin America, for example.

     Until recently, it hasn’t worked in the U.S. Economic mobility and the economic impartiality of the law have stood in its way. While that’s no longer perfectly true, the Left has succeeded in using other kinds of division, most notably race and ethnicity, in a similar fashion.

     There’s nothing new about any of that. I’d expect my Gentle Readers are already fully aware of it. But another effect – again, one of which the readers of Liberty’s Torch are already aware – now threatens the Left’s program. For the Left has relied for some time on its dominance of the channels of communication, particularly the mass media and the entertainment industry. Any degree of disaffiliation by the luminaries of those channels threatens the Left’s ability to maintain the divisions it has exploited.

     Dwayne Johnson’s proclamation is of a kind that’s been rare up to this point. But it may not be so henceforward. If other entertainment celebrities should embrace Johnson’s “my politics are private” stance, the effect on the electorate – especially the younger cohort – could be massive.

     I have no idea how to encourage other entertainers to emulate Johnson’s stance. Do you, Gentle Reader? Might pressure to that end be building today? If so, how could we amplify it, without insisting on a change of alignment rather than simple silence on political subjects?

     More anon.

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