Pearls of expression.

BLM = Buying Lotsa Mansions

Comment by “Harry D.”

The Great Othering

     I’m sure my Gentle Readers are familiar with the neologism othering. It’s been used in connection with common allegations that some minority group has been targeted for elimination. Supposedly, the targeted group is slathered with propaganda designed to convince the majority that “they are not like us – they are others.” This is used to separate the targets from other human beings morally: i.e., as creatures too dangerous to the rest of us to be tolerated. The withdrawal of tolerance leads to genocide.

     It’s happened. The Jews could tell you all about it. So could Armenian Christians. The inculcation of hostility toward a minority in the majority of a nation is a well-studied dictator’s tactic. If the people’s hatred can be directed toward an identifiable enemy, on whom the woes of the nation can be blamed, the dictator can wield that hatred for his own purposes.

     The late Philip K. Dick wrote a short story around the notion, titled “The Hanging Stranger.” Amazon Studios produced a video based on that story, titled “Kill All Others,” in its Electric Dreams series of tales. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it unreservedly.

     Clearly, othering is a powerful tool for the aspiring tyrant. But the tactic has never before been applied to the majority of the people of a nation. Before today, that is:

     The establishment Left seems determined to tar its opponents as “terrorists.” There’s the Jan. 6 Committee, which continues to investigate what the Democrats insist was an “insurrection,” despite a complete lack of evidence. There’s the repeated claim (that Biden, Garland, and Christopher Wray, among others, have repeated) that “white supremacists,” by which is meant “Trump supporters,” are the nation’s biggest terror threat. And now a former FBI counterintelligence official has gone the whole way and likened Trump supporters to “violent jihadists.”…

     “Where we are right now,” [NBC News “national security analyst” Frank] Figliuzzi told Nicolle Wallace, is a “cult-like scenario.” The cult wasn’t, however, the group that insists that men such as Rachel Levine and Lia Thomas are women, that there are dozens of genders (including cake), and that Joe Biden is a competent leader; no, as far as this crack former fed was concerned, were those who insisted on reality in the face of those fantasies.

Raw Story reports that Figliuzzi explained that “Trumpism” (it was unclear if this word came from Raw Story or Figliuzzi) had “gone way beyond a political ideology. It is now the identity of a party. But it’s more than that because it’s now become a personal identity for those who consume the ‘Big Lie’ that the grand deception – and I can’t help because of my national security lens that I look at things through, to compare this to what we see in violent jihad.” As if aware of how ridiculous what he was saying really was, Figliuzzi anticipated the question: “What do I mean by that?” Apparently he meant that both Trump supporters and violent jihadis were chasing an illusion:

     Please read it all. Apparently the Legacy Media are set to pump this at their dwindling audiences at full volume. Perhaps they hope it will halt the steady diminution of their audiences. But it just might energize a new pogrom: this time, against persons in the Right.

     Many millions of Americans are politically to the Right of center. By my estimate, we are the majority of the politically engaged population of the country. That’s a huge program of othering…and one hell of a pogrom-in-prospect. But the Usurpers can’t afford for us to know that. Its security lies in keeping us silent and isolated from one another…and what method would be more potent than instilling fear in us of our differently-minded countrymen?

     This subject doesn’t require a lot of analysis. However, it does require vigilance. Sadly, fewer and fewer conservatives pay any attention whatsoever to the Legacy Media. We’ve learned enough about their duplicity not to trust them even in small ways. While that saves us a fair amount of time and stress on our credulity, it also means that the media can work sub rosa to spread their deceits.

     This will not end well. But while it remains possible, do have a nice day.

Since No One Else Is Doing So…

     …it falls to me to commemorate the 105th Anniversary of the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin at Fatima:

     Our Lady of Fátima is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary based on the famed Marian apparitions reported in 1917 by three shepherd children at the Cova da Iria, in Fátima, Portugal. The three children were Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto….

     The reported apparitions at Fátima were officially declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church, which commemorates the event on the same date. The published memoirs of Lúcia Santos’ in the 1930s revealed two secrets that she claimed came from the Virgin while the third secret was to be revealed by the Catholic Church in 1960. The controversial events at Fátima gained fame due partly to elements of the secrets, prophecy and eschatological revelations allegedly related to the Second World War and possibly more global wars in the future, particularly the Virgin’s alleged request for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

     The Apparitions at Fatima extended over six sequential “thirteenths:” The thirteenth days of the months of May, June, July, August, September, and October of the Year of Our Lord 1917. The final apparition was the most heavily attended; it’s estimated that about 70,000 persons flocked to the Cova de Iria for that one. It was capped by the Miracle of the Sun, which the Blessed Virgin had promised to the three children as proof that it was indeed a heavenly visitation.

     There’s a great deal to be said about the Apparitions, including the utter fidelity of Francisco Marto and the dos Santos children to their accounts of them. Anyone with an interest can read more about the events that took place in the Cova de Iria than I have the patience to transcribe here. Yet such a miracle will always elicit skepticism from non-witnesses, especially those who are averse to religious belief. The accounts of the Fatima events must stand or fall on their own.

     For those interested in a particularly beautiful dramatization of the Apparitions, based solidly on the testimony of Lucia dos Santos, I heartily recommend the movie The 13th Day, produced and directed by Ian and Dominic Higgins.

     Our Lady of Fatima, Queen of Heaven, pray for us.

“Tapping The Wires”

     The Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch will probably already know what I’m about to say, yet its significance might be greater than any of us have yet imagined. Even so, I shall eschew large font for it. I’ll restrain my desire to shout. This once, anyway.

     The mainstream media are largely the mouthpieces of the wire services.

     The three major wire services – Associated Press, United Press International, and Reuters – provide many if not most of the stories “reported” in the mainstream media. The “reporters” at work in mainstream media newsrooms largely take wire-service stories and reword them for publication in their employers’ organs. That gives the wire services at least as much influence as the media over the transmission of information to the American public.

     Yes, mainstream media editors select which stories will be run, how they’ll be “framed,” and their priority-placement as well. However, the “raw material” is largely the wire services’ product. So he who wants to track the development of media “narratives” is well advised to keep a close watch on the wire services.

     That having been said, have a look at this AP piece about Elon Musk:

     This week Musk is again keeping people guessing. First he embraced a European measure to keep hate speech and misinformation off social media. Less than 24 hours later, he announced that he’d reverse Twitter’s ban of former President Donald Trump, who was kicked off the platform for inciting violence….

     But if the 50-year-old Musk’s gambit has made anything clear it’s that he thrives on contradiction.

     Musk boasts that he’s acquiring Twitter to defend freedom of speech. But he has long used the platform to attack perceived foes who dare to disagree with him….

     Musk did not respond to an interview request for this story. But speaking briefly with AP at New York’s Met Gala, he reiterated his pledge to rid Twitter of spam bots and trolls spreading junk messages online.

     “That’s obviously diminishing the user experience,” Musk said. “I’m on the warpath, so if somebody is operating a bot and troll army, then I’m definitely their enemy.”

     But a University of Maryland researcher recently concluded that such bots have been used to generate hundreds of thousands of positive tweets about Tesla, potentially buoying its stock in years when it was under pressure.

     Neither the company nor its supporters has taken responsibility for those bots. But Musk has said that for real people who use Twitter, most anything is fair game….

     Musk, who waxes about preserving Twitter as the public square of the internet, hasn’t addressed what he’d do if his efforts to open it to more voices wind up jeopardizing its accessibility.

     There’s a lot of verbal offal in that story: unsubstantiated insinuations, misuse of words, and baseless attributions of motivations and character defects to Elon Musk. The overall tone of the thing is negative. We are unsubtly being told to doubt Musk’s true intentions, especially as they concern Twitter. It’s hard to believe that’s unintentional.

     Might you conclude that the Associated Press isn’t happy about Musk’s intent to purchase Twitter and take it private?

     Now that the wire services operate their own news Websites, we can see their product quite as plainly as do the mainstream media. We might not be seeing all of it. Indeed, I’m sure there are “premium” pieces that only paying subscribers get to see…or report. But what’s visible suffices to draw some disturbing conclusions.

     Keep an eye on the wires. Compare what you see on their pages to what appears in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other mainstream media institutions. There’s a lot of information there – much of it “between the lines.” It might help us to predict where the “narratives” are headed next. That’s information we in the Right could definitely use.

Just ONE Example…

…of how far the Left will go to achieve their goals.

These were individuals working at the local level to express their concerns in a public forum, about the direction that the school system was taking in a variety of issues – CRT, curriculum, parental input into school board decisions, etc.

For that effort, they were investigated, their personal information (including some quantities of misinformation) spread about, PICTURES OF THEIR MINOR CHILDREN left on a publicly accessible Google Drive, confidential district information used to pressure them to shut up – it’s truly unbelievable just how extensive the effort to silence the school board’s critics was. Read the whole complaint at the link.

BTW, this link came from the excellent Robert Zimmerman at Behind the Black. Bookmark his blog, as it’s worth following.

Now, how does that affect you and I?

First, be cautious about who you ‘friend’ on social media. In this case, and so many others, phony accounts have been created for the purpose of smearing opponents with association with “racists, homophobes, and terrorists”. I do use some social media – primarily to keep up with family and close friends – but, in light of this, I’m planning on spending some time disassociating myself from third-tier ‘friends’ – friends of friends.

I don’t believe that I’ll miss all that much. If you want to monitor what is being said about you, try Twitter. You can follow people without having to identify them as a friend (Liberals of Tik-Tok has done that). It should improve now that Musk has bought it – we HOPE.

Second, it probably wouldn’t hurt to check your financial information and other reputational records, particularly if you have a common name, as I do. These records can become intertwined with other’s info. I learned that when, years ago, I wanted to set up a plan to spread payments over several months, and was told that I couldn’t use my husband’s income, as I was divorced.

I was mildly amused, and responded by saying that I was, at that time, a few months pregnant with my HUSBAND’S child, so, I was PRETTY sure that I wasn’t divorced. They checked again, and found that my sister-in-law’s records had been entertwined with mine (three of us, all with the same first name, had married the eldest 3 brothers).

We already knew my husband’s information had been co-mingled with his same-name father’s – my father-in-law had carried around his son’s license in his wallet for months, after the renewal was delivered to his address. My husband only discovered it when he complained about it being delayed, and my father-in-law checked.

It actually was YEARS before we finally persuaded the credit check companies to eliminate the wrong info. Fortunately, my in-laws had excellent credit, so it didn’t hurt our record.

A few years ago, I noticed that a house we had looked at, and actually put a deposit on, was listed as ours. We had made the offer contingent on a good inspection, which it failed. But the information, based on a credit check of our ability to pay for the house, was entered, and never corrected, until I put in a protest. There were a few other errors, too.

Last, continue to check. Make sure that disputes with government are resolved, and – most importantly – that you keep all documentation. You would be amazed just how long bad info sticks around.

When What You Want To Say Would Come Out As A Scream

     …it’s best to say nothing.

     Just now, the patience of real Americans – patriots who love our country and are agonized by what’s happening to it – is being tried to its limits and beyond. In less than two years, the Usurper Regime has brought this nation to the brink of the abyss. We’re teetering at the edge. It wouldn’t take more than a nudge to send us toppling into it.

     But that’s not the worst of it. The Republican Party, which supposedly represents us in the Right, has become traitorous. When they haven’t gone along passively with the Usurpers’ plans, it’s because they’ve chosen to endorse them. (Cf. Ukraine.) Given the unwillingness of the Republicans in Congress to put America and Americans first, there is no current recourse. Given the overwhelming likelihood that that condition will continue unchanged even after the midterms, there is no foreseeable recourse.

     Outrage is exhausting. I’m already exhausted from my labors to provide for my little family’s future. I can’t bring myself to fulminate along with the rest of the DextroSphere. Anyway, I hate to repeat what others are saying. So there will be no tirade today.

     Have a nice day.

Does Anyone Need A Reminder…

     …about why the Second Amendment is so important? Well, here:

     I rest my case.

“Not Done”

     Historically, much that is not illegal by statute has been restrained by an unwritten social code. Nineteenth Century England, the closest approach to a classical-liberal polity in Europe of that era, had extensive codes of that sort. Because English society was stratified by class, there were several such codes, which included rules by which Englishmen interacted within their class and with members of other classes. Indications of this come through in the fictions of the time. John Galsworthy’s magnificent Forsyte Chronicles are probably the best example.

     As the early United States was largely populated by persons of English descent, some of those codes made their way across the ocean and took root here. For a while you could hear Americans condemning certain kinds of behavior, actual or proposed, with the classically English phrase “It’s just not done.” The associated social opprobrium had a degree of force contemporary Americans – and contemporary Englishmen, for that matter – can hardly imagine. (“Enforcement” by dueling had only a little to do with it.)

     Today there’s damned near nothing that “isn’t done.” The greatest imaginable outrages are performed shamelessly and in public. They who perpetrate them upon the rest of us do so precisely because they are outrages. The social codes that once restrained them no longer have force. They certainly aren’t respected by the outrageurs.

     Some of this is attributable to “anti-discrimination” laws, but a far greater portion arises from cowardice among better men.

     Yesterday evening, I cited the disturbance at Los Angeles’s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels by pro-abortion protestors determined to disrupt Sunday Mass. The brief video embedded in that tweet depicts what occurs when a few good men find a scintilla of courage: enough, at least, to act against those who would ruin something precious to others. It was heartening to see…moderately so, at least. For I had to note a visible shortcoming: only a half-dozen of the Mass attendees rose to the occasion.

     Why so few? There was no physical danger involved. I can’t see how there would have been any legal consequences to forcibly expelling the protestors. Yet only a handful of Angeleno Catholics rose to oppose the desecration of a sacred Catholic rite that involves the Body and Blood of Christ. Where was the righteous anger appropriate in response to such a profanation?

     If we want such scurrilities to return to the status of “not done,” we’ll have to muster exactly such righteous anger – in quantity.

***

     The matter is grave. Such invasions of the prerogatives of others, even when nominally within the law, are massively destructive to the sense of social order and public peace. That, of course, is why they occur. The perpetrators want to convey exactly that message: “Give us what we want or you will know no peace.” It’s their mantra.

     What goes undiscussed is why such persons get away with their obscenities:

  • It’s nominally legal for them to do so;
  • The rest of us do nothing but wring our hands.

     But the law does not reserve unto itself the punishment of all infractions against the social order. It cannot. What’s done that’s “not done” must be punished by those offended by it – and by punished, I mean the infliction of actual pain, embarrassment, and ostracism.

     Minority groups determined to disrupt our lives, our gatherings, and our rituals will only get away with such behavior for as long as it fails to draw retaliation. We the Decent Majority must impose consequences so painful, embarrassing, and isolating that no one will be minded to repeat the offense ever again. Moreover, we have to be imaginative about it, for any tactic too often repeated can be countered, given time.

     Imagine if those protestors at Our Lady of the Angels had been stripped bare, spanked to a bright red, and thrust out of the cathedral entirely unclothed. Possibly after having been figged, as well. And perhaps doused with a blend of caffeine and DMSO, for good measure. Do you think they’d have dared to repeat their impertinence?

     Of course, preparation would be required, but that goes without saying.

     Sounds outrageous, doesn’t it? “Not done!” But what lesser measures would ensure a return to public peace? The organs of the law either have no authority in such matters or refuse to use what they have. This is what is left to us.

     Other commentators have spoken of a “cold civil war” in progress. Their perspective grows more applicable by the day. The Left has delved deeply into the “not done,” confident that We the Decent will not respond with more than words. When only one side is willing to fight, the outcome is foreordained.

     The explosions of outrages in recent years have made this Curmudgeon yearn for “the good old days” when such violations of the public peace were constrained by the possibility of being challenged to a duel. Unfortunately, when dueling was accepted, women were regarded as immune to challenge. Perhaps the custom could use a spot of innovation.

     Have a nice day.

Masks Off Dept.

     First, the scene at Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, just this past Sunday:

     And what do the Usurpers think of this? Well, I’d venture to guess that they approve of it:

     The Usurper Regime is actively encouraging angry, noisy protests outside the homes of Supreme Court Justices. Despite the plain statement in the United States Code that it’s a felony. Despite the possibility of a violent sequel. The Usurpers, from the Marionette-in-Chief all the way down to the regime’s lowest unnamed flunkies, clearly regard themselves as above the law.

     Yet Joe Biden claims to be a Catholic. Yeah, right.

     I’m seeing red. Were anything like what happened at Our Lady of the Angels to happen at my parish, there would be violence. There might be bloodshed.

     Perhaps there should be. AntiFa and Black Lives Matter have already spilled a fair amount of blood, as have the Capitol police. Say, have any of these “pro-choice protestors” dared to do this at an Islamic mosque? No? I wonder why not!

     I’ve had enough. It’s time to “bring it” — gloves off. The hell with what the media have to say.

More Cans And Can’ts

Certain truths appear to be particularly difficult for people to accept. One such truth is on my mind this morning:

Laws cannot change people’s desires.

     Laws, coupled with sufficiently determined enforcement, can change the incentives and disincentives people face, but nothing else. If a politician proclaims himself in favor of a law that’s in harmony with one sector’s desires, he may win their votes (other things being equal). But even should he succeed in getting that law enacted, he will not alter the desires of those who want whatever the law forbids. They will simply face a new disincentive to satisfying that desire: the possibility of detection and prosecution.

     Often, the enactment of a law creates a new business. When the law forbids some practice, a cadre of occupational specialists may arise to satisfy those who seek what the law has forbidden. In the case of murder, we get hit men: specialists who accept the legal risks pertaining to willful homicide for a price. This is ordinary market behavior, dictated by the law of supply and demand. It doesn’t matter that the great majority of us deplore and condemn murder; those who want someone killed, and the specialists who will fulfill that desire for a fee, obviously feel differently.

     When the thing desired can be sought and obtained entirely in private, such that only the seeker and the supplier need know, the enforcement of the law is most difficult. Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections, plus the prohibition of entrapment, operate to impede detection and prosecution. In addition, there are enforcement costs to consider: if that cost exceeds a difficult-to-determine threshold, the state might not even try to do so. Such costs are seldom purely monetary. Often they include political components, such as the enforcement of the law against popular celebrities or the relatives of high officials.

     But politicians campaigning for office will seldom address any of that.

***

     Sometimes, we have to “swallow hard.” This will be required of us in a post Roe v. Wade era.

     Let’s assume that Roe is overruled. After that, some states will completely ban abortion. Others will maintain the pre-Roe regime, in which abortion is legal throughout pregnancy. A pregnant woman – call her Miss Smith – who resides in anti-abortion state X, wants an abortion and travels to pro-abortion state Y to get one. How will the law deal with this?

     There are several facets to the problem. One is the matter of jurisdiction. X cannot compel Y to assist in the prosecution of an action that’s not illegal in Y. Indeed, if Miss Smith declines to return to X, that’s the end of the matter legally, for Y cannot be compelled to deliver her to X’s authorities.

     Another facet involves detection of the crime. How would X’s authorities detect the act they had outlawed? It could well be that no one other than Miss Smith and her abortionist would ever know that it had happened. This is most likely in very early abortions, where only Miss Smith need know that she has conceived. At least one abortifacient technique – the D&C – is also performed for other, non-abortive reasons.

     The Fourth and Fifth Amendments’ protections of bodily privacy and against self-incrimination play into the affair as well. Miss Smith cannot be forced to submit to any medical procedure – e.g., a pregnancy test – before being indicted. Some legal scholars claim she’d be immune to such a “search” even after having been indicted. And of course she cannot be forced to testify or give evidence against herself. Her pregnancy is therefore concealable until late in her term, assuming she possesses the necessary discretion.

     Some of these impediments would also interfere with the enforcement of a worldwide ban on abortion. Therefore, given unwilling mothers-to-be and sympathetic medical professionals, even under the most sweeping, widescale ban on abortion, some abortions will still occur that will not be detected or prosecuted. We who are pro-life must be ready for this. Moreover, we must accept it. We must not demand that the Constitutional protections of our bodily privacy and our right not to self-incriminate be weakened.

     It would be a hard pill to get down, which is why we must prepare for it.

***

     President George W. Bush, when addressing the matter of abortion, spoke movingly of the need to “create a culture of life.” He was spot-on. The only imaginable way to eliminate the practice of abortion entirely is to produce a generation horrified by the very idea of it. Otherwise, no matter how stringent a law against abortion might be, some abortions will occur that will not be prosecuted.

     This is not an argument for legal permissiveness toward abortion. Rather, it’s a plea that we not destroy the protections of body and mind Americans have enjoyed since 1788. What we need above all else is a culture of life. Indeed, if we had one, a law forbidding abortion might not be necessary at all. But that would be a world beyond most contemporary imaginations. Today, I will only go there in fiction.

Everything New Is…Old Again?

     A number of years ago, someone I worked with asked me to describe libertarianism. There are a host of answers to that question, most of them pretty good. I replied with one I find more polemically effective than the rest…possibly because I concocted it: “A libertarian is a conservative who remembers what conservatism used to be.”

     My interlocutor was somewhat puzzled by my response. We had a brief conversation, which ended with a promise to get together over lunch. The rest of the tale has no particular significance.

     Today we have the swelling of a community of conviction whose members call themselves Constitutional conservatives. Their creed and that of the libertarian are very near to one another. But in 1900, they wouldn’t have needed the qualifier Constitutional…and there would have been no need for the term libertarian at all. The American Constitutional ethos — a Supreme Law; sharply limited government with well-defined powers; established inviolable rights; minimum intrusions upon the freedom and property of the individual – was perfectly aligned with what conservatives believed.

     But go back to 1775 and the lexicon changes again. At that time, conservatives were British Empire loyalists who thought the very idea of separating the colonies from the “land of liberties” – yes, that’s what England was called, then – was heretical madness. So what if George II wanted to tax our tea or reserve our tallest pine trees for his ships’ masts? You don’t abandon your mother! Conservatives were agreed on that.

     A word whose meaning has gone through such convulsive changes can cause a bit of confusion. But political labels are like that.

***

     Today, courtesy of Mike Hendrix, comes this article in The Federalist, which I really should read more often. Author Christopher Bedford leads off by quoting New York Times columnist Bret Stephens:

     “What is conservative?” columnist Bret Stephens asked in Tuesday’s New York Times.

     “It is,” he posits, “above all, the conviction that abrupt and profound changes to established laws and common expectations are utterly destructive to respect for the law and the institutions established to uphold it — especially when those changes are instigated from above, with neither democratic consent nor broad consensus.”

     That’s not conservatism as I used the word to my co-worker, many moons ago. It does, however, express what many would call a “conservative attitude.” Most people who think of themselves as conservative do exhibit unease about abrupt changes – in anything. But the attitude is not coextensive with the political positions generally identified with conservatives. Some of those positions, if effectuated, would involve abrupt changes from the way things are today.

     Later on, Bedford presents a capsule sketch of U. S. Senatorial candidate J. D. Vance:

     [Vance is] a man who doesn’t “care if Google is a private company, because they have too much power; and if you want to have a country where people can live their lives freely, you have to be concerned about power — whether it’s concentrated in the government or concentrated in big corporations.”

     He thinks our corporate overlords would happily satiate us with whirling gizmos and gadgets while capturing our culture and selling us out to China. This places him directly at odds with tired, established Republicanism, which would prefer to slander the ghost of Ronald Reagan while they simp for corporations that work to undermine our national economy, our traditions, our families, and even our children’s sexuality.

     Vance is also a man who doesn’t “really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another,” and thinks “it’s ridiculous that we are focused on” their border over our own.

     Far more than Ukraine, he cares “about the fact that in [his] community right now, the leading cause of death among 18- to 45-year-olds is Mexican fentanyl.” This places him directly at odds with all of established Washington, where $5 billion for our country’s border security is too much to ask, but politicians crow about sending six times that amount to defend the sacred territorial integrity of another’s.

     Vance’s ideas all depart dramatically from today’s status quo. But they are in close harmony with the conservative of 1900: Grover Cleveland’s sort of conservatism, leavened with a measure of Teddy Roosevelt’s “trust busting” and his fierce “no hyphens” Americanism. They are at the core of Constitutional conservatism.

     Establishment GOPers are “Don’t rock the boat” types. That “boat” has no rudder or tiller; it doesn’t need one, as it’s never unmoored from the dock. It’s just a commitment to keeping the peace with their opponents on the other side of the aisle. It’s an attitudinal conservatism of sorts: what it seeks to conserve are the privileges and perquisites of the Republican elite and its corporate backers. The gravy train must be kept running smoothly, lest the gravy spill out. Small wonder that the Republican Establishment reviles J. D. Vance!

     It would seem that what Bret Stephens finds beyond his ken is mainly what our great-grandparents would have advocated without a qualm.

***

     All establishments are resistant to change. That is Orwell’s sort of conservatism: “The aim of the High is to remain where they are.” There is nothing of substance in it. However, the entrenched positions of our political Establishmentarians give them great power to impede and resist any changes that would negatively affect them personally. They use that power without blushing.

     Constitutional conservatives, populists, and libertarians are a threat to the Establishment, which can hold them at bay only by playing to a divide et impera strategy. If the three groups can be kept from coalescing, the threat will remain minimal. That strategy has two tactical requirements:

  • Exacerbate any perceived differences among the groups;
  • Prevent the rise of a charismatic leader, capable of rallying them into alliance.

     But the differences among the groups have grown less substantial as the predations of the Establishment have grown greater. And Donald Trump, though not ideal in any of the groups’ views, was such a leader. Perhaps the plainspoken J. D. Vance will prove to be one as well. If Christopher Bedford’s observations are accurate, there’s a crosshairs on him already.

     November draws near. Stay tuned – and alert.

For Life

     I attended several of the annual conventions of the Libertarian Party of New York, back when I was engaged with the party. I can’t remember at which of them, but at one I heard a presentation by an upstate activist, Andrew Melechinsky. “Andy Mel,” as we called him, told some riveting stories about his days “in the trenches.” While I enjoyed his whole program, I was particularly struck by one very brief statement he made – about abortion.

     “I’m a libertarian,” he said, “because it’s pro-life. Your life, my life, everybody’s life.” He didn’t over-press the matter; he just let the statement carry its own weight – which was considerable. It certainly hit home with me.

     I glanced around the room. Dozens of frowns and surly expressions were visible. Apparently not everyone in the crowd was as positively impressed by Andy Mel’s pronouncement as was I.

     A few of them have had abortions, or fathered kids that were aborted, I thought. I have no way to know whether that was so, but the atmosphere in the room did nothing to gainsay the conjecture. For my part, I left the gathering rather more thoughtful than I’d been previously.

     I once supported the “woman’s right to choose” on a legalistic basis. The Navy has a doctrine that struck me as relevant. If one vessel completely encloses another, the smaller vessel is deemed legally part of the larger one. The analogy to pregnancy seemed irrefutable. Inasmuch as militant pro-choice feminism was in the ascendant in those years, I gave the matter no deeper thought.

     But I was a libertarian, at least in domestic matters. I still am. And libertarianism is pro-life. Inherently and absolutely.

     Not long after that, I started to read widely on philosophical subjects, especially the metaphysics of identity. There’s an essay in the Baseline collection, “The Good Ship NEWF,” that’s from that time. It presents an old conundrum about identity. If you haven’t read it, please do. It’s directly relevant to the subject of human identity…and to the subject of abortion.

     If you are a libertarian, you are pro-life. Moreover, you know, in your heart of hearts, that an abortion terminates a human life. Perhaps you can’t see it happen. Perhaps there’s no blood to wash off the floor. But the essence of the thing is indisputable, for the embryo or fetus that was, had no untoward event intervened, would have become a human baby. The continuity between that baby’s two states testifies unimpeachably that who he was before his emergence, he is in the world outside his mother’s womb.

     To any Gentle Readers who support “a woman’s right to choose:” Give it some thought. And choose life, always, whether for yourself or for others.

For Mothers’ Day 2022

     A Happy Mothers’ Day to all my Gentle Readers, all mothers, and anyone who had a mother! Mothers, as most of us are aware, are vital to the continuing of the species…and you’ve just got to love our species. Especially the members who wear “pronoun pins” and insist that men can give birth. But hey. without a few nuts it wouldn’t be a Fruit ‘N’ Nuts Bar, now would it? Besides, we have to populate California somehow.

     Anyway, as I’m in a mood (“Again,” I hear you mutter), have an oldie from back when there was actual music on the radio rather than idiotic brutes chanting in a vulgar facsimile of free-association: from the Steve Miller Band of loving memory.

     …and for any other Catholics that still admit to it in the era of Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio, say a few Hail Marys today for the greatest Mother in history: she who bore Jesus of Nazareth, the fleshly Incarnation of the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Redeemer of Mankind. Remember the most important statement any woman has ever uttered:

“Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.”
(Luke 1:38)

     Every mother must make such a statement, even if only in the silence of her soul. That so many refuse is the greatest tragedy of our age.

     Have a nice day.

Things Lost And Things Misplaced

     Time was, there was a kind of space reserved in pop music for the ballad. Harry Chapin was one of the better known practitioners of the form, but there were many others. Being a storyteller by inclination, I have a soft spot for ballads and balladeers, and I miss them.

     Way, way back in the dim, dark Seventies – the early Seventies, at that – balladeers were riding high. Still, a few who had worthy contributions to make received no significant attention. One was an English band called Tranquility. They did make and release two records, but except for one “single,” they didn’t get much notice. It didn’t help that their second disc was an undisguised attempt to trade their lyrical gifts for a kind of glam-rock notoriety.

     Still, I replay their first album, the eponymous Tranquility, now and then, and I remember those years before the disco wave drowned all that I loved in popular music.

     Here’s a track from that first album. Remember along with me.

One More Before I Stir My Stumps

     In Weird Dave’s Friday Night ONT, he cites this tweet:

     Is further comment really necessary?

     Verbum sat sapienti.

Offhand Truths Of Staggering Import Dept.

     I stumbled over this in Weird Dave’s Friday Night ONT:

     I don’t think men in general get complimented enough, and I think men and women react differently to compliments.

     Well, yeah. But remember, Gentle Readers: obvious really means overlooked. And as the late, great Ron Popeil liked to say: But wait: there’s more!

     Among the reasons men are under-complimented is one that’s self-imposed: we generally react as if we’re embarrassed to be noticed. “Just doing my job, Ma’am” is about the least dismissive of men’s typical responses to a compliment. But that’s not because we’re genuinely embarrassed to be appreciated. It’s just the way we’ve been trained. A gruff “aww, ‘twarn’t nuthin’” or the like is what we’ve been taught to say.

     A great part of this arises from a concept that’s fallen on hard times in recent years: duty. Time was, we had it beaten into us with a broom handle that:

  1. You will do your duty: as a man, a husband, a father, and a citizen.
  2. Don’t expect a round of applause for it!

     That was and is a core tenet of Western masculinity. That it’s no longer hammered into American boys before they sprout their first whiskers explains a great deal about the steady deterioration of our culture.

***

     Duty is one of the truly fundamental terms of our lexicon. No one can give a perfect rational defense of the imperative You will do your duty. It arises from what C. S. Lewis, in his magnificent essay The Abolition of Man, called the Tao:

     The Chinese also speak of a great thing (the greatest thing) called the Tao. It is the reality beyond all predicates, the abyss that was before the Creator Himself. It is Nature, it is the Way, the Road. It is the Way in which the universe goes on, the Way in which things everlastingly emerge, stilly and tranquilly, into space and time. It is also the Way which every man should tread in imitation of that cosmic and supercosmic progression, conforming all activities to that great exemplar. ‘In ritual’, say the Analects, ‘it is harmony with Nature that is prized.’ The ancient Jews likewise praise the Law as being ‘true.’
     This conception in all its forms, Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Christian, and Oriental alike, I shall henceforth refer to for brevity simply as ‘the Tao’. Some of the accounts of it which I have quoted will seem, perhaps, to many of you merely quaint or even magical. But what is common to them all is something we cannot neglect. It is the doctrine of objective value, the belief that certain attitudes are really true, and others really false, to the kind of thing the universe is and the kind of things we are. Those who know the Tao can hold that to call children delightful or old men venerable is not simply to record a psychological fact about our own parental or filial emotions at the moment, but to recognize a quality which demands a certain response from us whether we make it or not. I myself do not enjoy the society of small children: because I speak from within the Tao I recognize this as a defect in myself—just as a man may have to recognize that he is tone deaf or colour blind. And because our approvals and disapprovals are thus recognitions of objective value or responses to an objective order, therefore emotional states can be in harmony with reason (when we feel liking for what ought to be approved) or out of harmony with reason (when we perceive that liking is due but cannot feel it). No emotion is, in itself, a judgement; in that sense all emotions and sentiments are alogical. But they can be reasonable or unreasonable as they conform to Reason or fail to conform. The heart never takes the place of the head: but it can, and should, obey it.

     If duty is to be understood, it must be recognized as a component of the Tao that has relevance specifically to men. Contemporary ideologists are at war with this conception of duty; rather, they insist that if duty truly exists, it must be derived from axioms they dictate. But this is to put the dictates of men above those of the Tao. Lewis goes on to say:

     What purport to be new systems or (as they now call them) ‘ideologies’, all consist of fragments from the Tao itself, arbitrarily wrenched from their context in the whole and then swollen to madness in their isolation, yet still owing to the Tao and to it alone such validity as they possess. If my duty to my parents is a superstition, then so is my duty to posterity. If justice is a superstition, then so is my duty to my country or my race. If the pursuit of scientific knowledge is a real value, then so is conjugal fidelity. The rebellion of new ideologies against the Tao is a rebellion of the branches against the tree: if the rebels could succeed they would find that they had destroyed themselves. The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary colour, or, indeed, of creating a new sun and a new sky for it to move in.

     Ironically, another writer I admire, the late Robert A. Heinlein, with whom I agree on so much that it would be far shorter to list the exceptions, got this exactly backwards:

     The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of “loyalty” and “duty”. Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute, get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed.

     But the acceptance of the imperative nature of duty is not an intellectual achievement; it is a recognition of a fundamental component of the Tao. You cannot reason your way to it. You can only project the consequences of abandoning it…which are, as Heinlein indicates, catastrophic and irreparable.

     Cassie Jaye’s remarkable and courageous documentary film The Red Pill sketches some of the consequences of the contemporary denigration of men by women. This contempt for the traditional masculine virtues is coextensive with the denigration of duty. I heartily recommend this film to all my Gentle Readers – especially the female ones.

     Ultimately, Assertion #2 below:

  1. You will do your duty: as a man, a husband, a father, and a citizen.
  2. Don’t expect a round of applause for it!

     …arises from the nature of duty itself. He who “gets” the one won’t need the other explained to him. Tragically, that verges on making compliments for doing what one should do seem unnecessary or excessive. They are not. Men need to be appreciated for their fidelity to their duties. Perhaps such appreciation is best expressed non-verbally, but it must be expressed. If it is too seldom expressed, there will be a diminution in men’s adherence to their duties. “No one cares, so why should I?” Try it out on yourself, Gentle Readers – especially the female ones.

***

     This rant may seem rantier than most of my rants. I do feel strongly about it. I wish others felt as strongly about it as I. Where Lewis says “You cannot hold a pistol to the head of the Tao,” and Heinlein says that a society without duty and loyalty is doomed, I say merely: Look around you.

     The great English architect Sir Christopher Wren chose as his epitaph a brief but compelling Latin phrase:

Si Monumentum Requiris, Circumspice.

     By that, he meant Saint Paul’s Cathedral where he’s buried. (He also designed many other churches in London.) In keeping with Wren’s insight, I would say:


The monument to duty would be
The beauty of our civilization at its peak.
The monument to the decline of duty
Will be found in its rubble.

When They Can’t Keep It Inside Any Longer…

     …it can sound louder than a car crash:

     According to Canadian sociologist and political commentator Mathieu Bock-Côté, mass immigration has weakened social cohesion and cultural conflict.

     Bock-Côté made the comments during an appearance on the Face a l’Info political talk show.

     “When a society predominantly receives new populations it cannot integrate (…) that inevitably creates groups that are on the fringe of society and creates different civilizations, which is the case in France today, the conditions are there for conflicts, cultural and identity tensions,” said the political commentator.

     Bock-Côté explained how France was becoming more like the United States, where a relentless obsession with racism has created the false notion that all society’s ills are to blame on racism.

     This is more than “a blinding flash of the obvious.” Sociology is one of the more heavily politicized fields – to the Left, of course – and Bock-Côté is likely to endure quite a lot of opprobrium for having dared to say what anyone not completely befuddled by mass-media propagandization already knows. As Canada in particular is deeply infected with the multiculturalist mind-virus, I fear for Bock-Côté’s professional position and stature.

     Canadians generally are a soft-spoken people. They don’t shout much…no, not even their Leftist agitators…so Bock-Côté’s danger might not be as bad as that of Charles Murray, who has faced actual assaults on his person for daring to express his convictions. But he’ll still have to endure a storm of denunciations. Can’t go openly saying what you think when it contradicts the Left’s gospel. They take it badly, there as here.

     Time was, integration and assimilation were as customary as daily bathing. But the Left’s campaign against those things was lethally successful. Were it otherwise, would we have legions of “high school graduates” who can’t read English, speak in complete sentences, or make change without being told how by the cash register? But those legions are all around us. They come in all colors. And they are the ultimate testament against uncontrolled mass immigration without reference to heritage, language, and culture.

A Gentle Suggestion

     A number of news and commentary sites I’ve enjoyed reading for years have recently set up for-subscribers-only sections. Those sections are only accessible after one agrees to a yearly payment. In effect, the subscriber must trust the site with access to one of his credit cards. I’m absolutely unwilling to do this, no matter how much I’d like to read the articles in the paywalled-off sections.

     So I have a suggestion for those sites. Offer an alternative: a one-time donation of $X that would grant the reader subscriber privileges for one year, and a one-time donation of $10X that would grant him subscriber privileges for his lifetime – in both cases payable through PayPal or some other credit-card-concealing mechanism. The immediate revenue would be welcome, I’m sure. In the case of the lifetime donation, having that much “up front” instead of receiving bits of it in yearly dribbles might also be attractive.

     If this is impractical, I’d like to know why.

Roe And Race

     While we’re on the subject of Roe v. Wade — we are, aren’t we? – consider the reaction of this crowd of “medical professionals” to a simple question from an unidentified person:

     Is there really anything more that need be said about this? Abortion annually takes more black lives per capita than those of other races. Why? Might it have anything to do with Margaret Sanger – she founded Planned Parenthood, don’t y’know – explicitly advocating the use of abortion to reduce the black population of these United States? Might it have anything to do with the unusual preponderance of Planned Parenthood establishments in or very near to majority-black neighborhoods?

     It’s been claimed that “hookup culture” will take a body blow if Roe is overturned. Will it really? If so, will the effects on the races be proportional to their percentage of the population? Why would you think so? Considering that per capita, both abortions and out-of-wedlock births are heavily slanted toward black Americans?

     Just a little more food for thought.

Before I Proceed…

     …to the other business of the day, I must recommend this article to my Gentle Readers. It concerns a minor matter with which you might even be personally acquainted: broken ice-cream machines at McDonald’s:

     When you order ice cream, you don’t want to hear “We’re out” or “It’s broken,” yet it has been happening so often across the United States in recent years that it became somewhat of a cultural meme that spawned considerable media interest. Reports indicate that up to a quarter of McDonald’s ice cream machines are not operational at any given time.

     Ice cream sales make up 3% of total McDonald’s sales (over $22 billion annually), amounting to about a quarter of a billion dollars a year. If the company is losing out on roughly 25% of that, we have a $56 million question on our hands every year.

     Interesting stuff, eh? Mind you, $56 million is a lot of money even in counterfeit bills. No executive worth his annual bonus would wave it aside as too little to trouble himself over. So what’s going on?

     The author of the article has a thesis. Many won’t like it. But it’s both well supported by the patterns and consistent with other developments of our times. And it has nothing to do with “culture.”

     I await your thoughts.

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