Sunday, May 27, 2018

Negotiations And Dogs

     “You can always get an agreement if you’re willing to give enough away.” – Robert Dole, formerly U.S. Senator from Kansas

     Among the minor differences that distinguish humans from dogs is this one:

     The dog is aware that there’s a tasty treat just out of his reach. He wants it – oh, most definitely! – but the fence is in his way. What he will not do, in all probability because his mental horizon is far too short, is to back up and go around the edge of the fence. That would increase the distance between him and his goal. He is unable to resist the need to get as close to it “as he possibly can,” despite the palpable limit to his approach.

     This is called an approach-avoidance conflict. Human beings can resolve it, owing to our wider band of perception and our ability to reason out a course of action over time. Dogs cannot.

     You could easily get the feeling, from reviewing the “negotiating” approaches previous administrations had taken with North Korea, that those administrations were staffed entirely by dogs.

     President Trump’s recent moves in his parleys with North Korea indicate that he understands the importance of being ready to back away from a bad deal. He wrote as much in his early book The Art of the Deal. He also understands that sometimes there’s no other move available to a realistic negotiator.

     The North Koreans succeeded in extorting a great deal from prior administrations. They did this largely by behaving badly: making threats against South Korea, a client state of ours, and after their acquisition of nuclear explosives, by extending their threats to a far larger sphere. The U.S. State Department, owing to the ingrained institutional belief that “we have to be nice to them to get them to like us” for damned near every conceivable value of “them,” responded to the Norks’ bluster with offers of freebies – oil, technology, and a light water nuclear reactor – in exchange for essentially nothing. Historians will eventually note these episodes as the ultimate in international folly, akin to allowing Hitler to annex Czechoslovakia in exchange for a feeble, soon to be broken promise of peace.

     At least one other commentator viewed these episodes as America “training” North Korea to behave badly. That’s a pretty accurate assessment of the thing.

     President Trump has demonstrated that such “training” can be countervailed. The Norks’ recent protestations of willingness to return to negotiations and international decorum are cheering signs that the “training” is easily dispelled. But to return to the earlier theme, the previous administrations acted more like dogs, unwilling to increase the distance between them and their goal, than like men able to see that the fence is bounded in time. American military and economic power is so much greater than that of any other nation that there is never an absolute need to kowtow before some other nation’s bluster or threats. It merely requires the willingness to walk away – in effect, to let unstated threats of military and economic countermeasures hang in the air for our interlocutor to ponder. That’s all President Trump has done.

     Yet there are persons, some with high perches in the Punditocracy, who continue to rave that President Trump is a menace to “peace.” Well, perhaps some old dogs can learn new tricks, but clearly there are some who can’t.

The tightening screw.

Public services are stripmined to meet pension obligations . . . .[1]
And as pension fund investments’ rates of return are adjusted to actual (not held at delusional) levels the call goes out, in California’s case, to local governments to make up the shortfall so payouts remain at Wizard of Oz levels. Don’t touch that dial!

Is it California’s constitution that prohibits reduction in pension benefits? What ever state got that provision approved must have some seriously stupid voters. Really? Retired state employees are precious jewels in our firmament who should not have to tighten their belts? Remus reported on the pension of the officer in the Florida school shooting who stayed outside while shots were being fired inside – almost $9,000 a month! Woodpile Report no. 530, 5/27/18.

Medicaid payments now take up to 25% of tax revenue in some states. Obamacare in its heyday “solved” the “healthcare crisis” by increasing premiums and inflating copays so that the ever-squeezed middle had “health insurance” in name only.

A slight rise in the interest rate increases government debt service costs but abnormally low interest rates favor the banksters, drive savers (esp. seniors) into riskier stock market investments and investors into ever more questionable investments thereby exacerbating the misallocation of capital. Higher interest rates also drain money from overseas markets as holders of cash seek higher returns here, which has the effect of raising the value of the dollar, which harms exports.

God knows what derivative exposure portends for the world financial system but a quart of scotch a day will help you keep from thinking about it. As your correspondent has frequently observed, many things can be ignored but not the iron laws of arithmetic. Someone can take hormones, shave his beard, wear a dress and call himself Daisy Mae but, Pilgrim, no amount of hormones or weed will boost pension fund discount rates into the comfort zone.

Well, that’s today’s dose of economic hysteria. No one seems to be in charge and everyone wants to temporize and pretend. Don’t miss the chart of total debt in Smith’s article referenced in the note below. Always one of my favorite as it suggests a, um, certain fragility to the whole dealybob. And while you’re at it, contemplate that Deutsche Bank is laying off 10% of its employees and that the USG thinks its a great idea to spend $32,000,000 per hour on our overseas bases and activities since 2001. Yessir. That is some seriously important [stuff] going on overseas and it’s good that we’re heavily involved in it. I know we’re safer and more prosperous for waging war on the Syrian nation for reasons that must be kept wery, wery secwet.

The only place in our national life where the iron laws of arithmetic do NOT apply appears to be in the area of immigration and job theft. Apparently, there is NO UPPER LIMIT to
  • the number of foreigners who can be welcomed to our country and given welfare benefits or
  • the number of jobs that can be stolen from American citizens so that foreigners can “make a contribution,” that is to say the contribution that Americans could have made had their jobs not been stolen from them by foreigners and the political filth who run this country.
Pedal to the metal on that one, good buddy. Bienvenido, Abdul, Kwame, and Fernando!

[1] "America 2018: Dicier By The Day." By Charles Hugh Smith, ZeroHedge, 5/27/18 (formatting removed).

Floating around in the ether.

This is from a bunch of clever points that “someone” (not I) circulated on the web:
Just one more thing on Democrats and the Electoral College.

Why is it that Democrats think Super delegates are fine, but they have a problem with the Electoral College?

Saturday, May 26, 2018


     About an hour ago, the C.S.O. and I were making our way back from the Stormville Flea Market – a big, open-air flea market in southern Dutchess County that’s held on one weekend of each summer month – when we started discussing the, ah, sensibilities of the contemporary Left, especially the Social-Justice Warrior. I led off with a gag I found on the Web just yesterday:

FWP: What’s the difference between a social-justice warrior and a suicide vest?
CSO: I don’t know, what?
FWP: Triggering a suicide vest actually accomplishes something.
CSO: (laughs)
FWP: Of course none of them would think that’s funny.
CSO: They don’t think anything’s funny.
FWP: They take themselves much too seriously.
CSO: No, that’s not it. It’s would you describe Stuie? Other than an arrogant SOB?
FWP: Why would any other description be required?
CSO: I’d be satisfied with asshole.
FWP: Not too generic?
CSO: I like it. And his sort of assholian is getting to be really common in America.
FWP: Wait, don’t we have an extradition treaty with them?
CSO: We did, but it’s been violated so many times it no longer matters.

     The laughter went on quite a while after that.

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Cancer Has Metastasized

     Quite recently, the following exchange took place at my dinner table:

FWP: What do you think you’re doing?
Dinner Guest: (diddles her cell phone) I’m just answering a text.

FWP: Did it inform you of your impending demise?
Guest: What? No! It’s—
FWP: Because if you don’t turn that thing off and put it down right now, that will be the news of the day.

     “Dinner Guest” was a 67-year-old woman. On the cited occasion, her husband, a retired deputy sheriff, sat across from her. He didn’t say a word. He did award me a barely perceptible nod. He’d given up on retraining his wife in the courtesies. Apparently he was happy to leave the job to me.

     As you can see, I’m not infinitely tolerant. I certainly don’t tolerate cell phone use at my dinner table. I had to “teach” the C.S.O. that, too. Operant conditioning, don’t y’know.

     Just yesterday one of my fellow parishioners brought an un-silenced cell phone to Mass. It rang twice in the middle of the ceremony. On each occasion he left the chapel to answer it. No one else seemed disturbed by it, though the celebrant took conspicuous note.

     I’ve had it with the whole cell phone disaster. Absent a true miracle – say, an EMP attack that only strikes cell phones – we’re not going to recover. We’ve lost too much ground.

     Allow me to quote from a previous essay:

     In one of his most insightful moments, Adam Smith wrote that an individual will regard a cut on his finger as of greater moment than a famine in a faraway place. Moreover, he did so approvingly. That which is near should matter more than that which is far away, even when other things are not nearly equal. What’s near has the greatest potential for affecting you, whether positively or negatively. It should command the greater part of your attention.

     Attention. There’s a word to ponder, Gentle Reader. What is attention? What does it mean to “attend” to something? The Latin root tangere means “to touch” or “to hold.” You cannot touch or hold what’s distant, only what’s near. And if someone is near enough to you to touch – near enough to caress or strike you – ought you not to give him your attention?

     One of a parent’s most important duties is teaching his children to pay attention – and not solely to him. What’s around you is the most important source of all things good or bad. Indeed, the great majority of persons and things are potentially good or bad, or both – and what you fail to attend to can turn bad, perhaps lethal, in the blink of those eyes you can’t detach from your smartphone.

     There’s nothing that transforms proximity to hostility and contempt as surely or efficiently as being ignored.

     Thanks to the cell phone – especially the “smart” variety – spouses are tolerating the crassest of discourtesies from those nearest to them. Yet we gape at the rising tides of divorce, intramarital hostility, and spousal abuse, and ask one another what the reason could possibly be. It is to laugh...hollowly, and with many a tear.

     The cell phone has trained millions of Americans to pay more attention to what is far away than to what is near to hand. The training has been appallingly effective. Indeed, I sometimes wonder whether the engineers who designed and produced the foul things intended that consequence.

     As far as I know, cell phone jammers are only outlawed in public places. If that’s so, I think it might be time to acquire two: one for installation in my parish church, the other for my home.

     Glory be to God! Am I the only person on Earth who actually grasps the magnitude of the danger and is willing to act on it?

     I shan’t succumb to the temptation to go on a major tirade. I have other things to do, and besides, you’ve heard me rant about this before. But I had to get this out before it festered. It’s become too serious to let it pass unmarked. I’ll close by restating a little epigram from Baba Ram Dass:

Be Here Now.

     Verbum sat sapienti.

Pearls of expression.


Itzig, you should go back to that Breitbart-g@rbage. THAT is the pigsty that fits your profile.


If you act like this to everyone you'll never get a girlfriend.[1]

[1] Comment on "US-Backed Forces Clear From ISIS 21Km Of Syrian- Iraqi Border (Video)." By South Front, 5/13/18.

Globalism crumbling?

Comment by Speak Truth To Power:
I agree with much of what this columnist wrote. However this entire globalist criminal enterprise is rapidly crumbling. This is shown in the rise of patriotic/loyalist and Marxist parties in Europe and the Far Right and Far Left in the U.S. The globalist elite 0.001% empire of the banksters, crapitalists and fingerciers and their lackeys, knaves and varlets, along with their political prostitute puppets, is built on sand. These worthless cretins have loaded down every nation on earth, and especially in the West, with massive, crushing debt. Ditto for individuals and businesses. It is not sustainable. In addition they have off shored much of Western industry into Third World nations and flooded Western nations with Third World proles to hold down wages and depress living conditions. Reaction among the native Whites is building stronger by the day. At some point this volcano is going to blow. When it does all bets are off as to how much destruction will happen.

At this point the super rich and their banks and trans-national corporations can either gradually give way to democratic change and re-industrialize the West, discount all these debts, and stop this Third World invasion and begin swift repatriation of these interlopers and save much of their wealth and power or they will soon face armed revolution and civil/class/racial war in the streets. These worthless elites have fouled their own nests since they have left virtually no Western nation untouched by these triple evils of debt, immigration and de-industrialization. They either never learned the lessons of the French and Russian revolutions or believe it could not happen in the 21st Century to them.

Either way it makes no difference. Globalism is crumbling and going the way of other evil isms: Fascism, Communism, Nazism, Imperialism, Colonialism, etc. Its days are numbered and the writing is on the wall. Meanwhile those nations not controlled by the Western White Collar Mafia, namely Russia and China, along with Iran and a few other Asian and Middle Eastern nations, are building up their economies and militaries and increasingly challenging the Western tyrants. We are definitely in for troubled times ahead. Always remember: Those who make peaceful change impossible, make violent change inevitable.

Globalism has had its evil day and its black sun is setting. The only questions now are will it go peacefully and quietly or loudly and violently and what will replace it. I hope and pray something good and true. A new world order built that that is God and Christ and not man based with peace, prosperity, and justice for all in a natural order of things.[1]

I think there’s much truth in this. For five decades the “logical” and “natural” option has involved (1) massive immigration of hostiles, unassimilables, and parasites, (2) crushing wage competition from foreign illegals, (3) enormous, unconstitutional centralization of power in the federal government, and (4) the near destruction of the industrial base with, in our case, a magnificent gift to communist China. Even now, it’s utterly impossible to get even anti-immigration activists to speak the words “stop,” “repel,” or “deport.” Even now, the “acceptable” boundaries of any debate on immigration involve mere modest downward adjustments and shinier holsters for the Border Patrol nerf ball guns. We have allowed our dirt bag, sellout elites to grab untold power and inflict their lunatic social and governmental ideas on us all.

Probably it will take real economic pain before Americans realize that there’s only so much of America that can be given away before it’s changed forever. That insight has yet to arrive even now. Someone observed that a liberal never recognizes danger, a conservative only when it's too late, and a reactionary recognizes danger instantly. Enoch Powell in Britain was a reactionary according to this and, while I can't presume to place myself in the same category of such an amazing intellect as Powell, I for damn sure don't need to see but one bleeping picture of invaders coming ashore in Lampedusa, Italy to see that an immense tragedy is unfolding. I don' nee' no steenkin' spreadsheet and 40 years of census and crime statistics to figure things out.

[1]  Comment by Speak Truth To Power on "The Simulation of Democracy." By C.J. Hopkins, The Unz Review, 5/23/18 (emphasis added).

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Indoor Life: A Reflection

     Yesterday, in response to the promptings of the C.S.O., I bought her a grill. It’s a nice grill, a Weber, all stainless steel and (supposedly) easy to clean and maintain. The C.S.O. was exceedingly pleased by the acquisition. As I have not inherited the grilling gene, I was baffled.

     “Why,” I asked her, “did you want a device that would compel you to cook outdoors, among the insects, the ragweed, and the grass clippings, where at any moment your life could be snuffed out by a falling jet engine?”

     The C.S.O.’s reply was typical, and typically brief: “Troglodyte!”

     For those of you who suffered a “public school” education, that means cave dweller. And yes, nearly all of my day is spent under a good sturdy roof. (Our home was built in 1959, when Long Island was the beating heart of the defense aviation industry. if you fail to see the relevance, remember those falling jet engines.)

     But of course, such an exchange is merely grist for a writer’s mill. It caused me to reflect on the changes in American life patterns over the years since the Civil War / War Between the States / Late Unpleasantness. (Choose your regionally preferred expression.) One of those changes is how many of us are, like me, “People of the Roof.”

     It’s expressed in all our institutions and practices. We work indoors. We sleep indoors. Mostly, we eat indoors. We partake of our most common entertainments indoors. The outdoors is now where most Americans go on occasion, whether to go under a different roof, to discharge some obligation, or for a recreational purpose. (I maintain that when you’re in your automobile – convertibles excepted – you’re still indoors...and how, pray tell, do you store your vehicle? In a garage or under a carport, perhaps?)

     The homes of working-class Americans have larger rooms than they did a century ago, in part because so little of life was lived indoors. You don’t need big rooms, or need to pay for them, if you only use them to keep the rain off the kids. Homes with large rooms were the hallmark of the wealthy: the financiers and industrialists, and a scattering of the professions.

     The things we play with have become ever more outdoors-indifferent. Some are outdoors-hostile. And we spend an increasing fraction of our time playing with such devices.

     But the outdoors is still there. (Trust me on this; I checked.) And it still offers its opportunities and pleasures. It would be well for us to enjoy it a bit more than we do – not for any abstract reason, but because if we don’t we might wake up some day to find that it’s all been taken away from us. And I don’t mean by overdevelopment.

     Many years ago, when “in a mood,” I wrote an essay about the nature of outdoor beauty. Beauty, whether one claims that it’s an objective characteristic or solely in the eye of the beholder, is an event: It occurs when a man encounters something upon which he confers a strong positive aesthetic evaluation. “This is beautiful,” he says, audibly or otherwise. But as with all things that occur within a human mind, the beauty event cannot occur unless the beautiful thing is experienced, made perceptible by our sensorium.

     I’ve misplaced that early essay. However, I recall clearly and specifically the thrust at which I aimed it: If beauty is an event that requires an encounter between the beautiful thing and a conscious human being, then it depends critically on the accessibility of the beautiful thing to the human mind. The car one drives and the road one drives along to surround oneself in the beautiful landscape are as important to the beauty event as the landscape itself!

     Human ingenuity has greatly expanded the number of beautiful outdoor things to which men have access. But another sort of human ingenuity is gradually stealing them.

     The green bigots (Thomas Sowell) have gradually eroded the methods and means by which Americans can access outdoor beauties. Ever more scenic sites are being closed de facto to the general public, merely by making access to them too difficult for most of us. Unless you’re a fit-as-a-fiddle hiker or backpacker with oodles of free time, that is. This is a reversal of one of the few positive trends of the Twentieth Century: the opening of access to more places to more Americans.

     The green bigots’ usual rationale is “preservation.” (Note: not conservation.) This, of course, means preservation from normal Americans and reservation to the green bigots. It’s a large-scale form of theft: the theft of our opportunities to experience natural beauty. It’s being carried out under color of law, which makes it doubly vile.

     I could go on, and sometimes I do. But the most important thing is to highlight the trend involved, whereby supposedly “environmentally minded” sorts are depriving those of us with Airstreams or Winnebagos of the enjoyment of outdoor beauties. I doubt we’d be as numb to it as we are, were we not always peering into a smartphone screen or crouched before a keyboard.

     And now, in the troglodytic spirit from which this essay was written, a little music for you...very little:

A Reason to Join Gab

I've been on the fence about it for some time. Mostly interesting people, but - a few real whackos and pseudo-Nazis (they're pseudo, because they don't actually DO anything but post over-the-top racist/anti-Semitic stuff everywhere). This bothered me greatly, and led me to ignore Gab, seldom visiting.

Recently, the site revealed the extent of faked accounts, which were primarily spreading Alt-Right/Nazi-type comment. The site has removed most of these accounts. My guess is that most, if not all, of these accounts were created by Leftists, to 'prove' that Gab was filled with Nazis.

Now, a second front has opened in the Communication War. Trump has been ordered not to block ANY users from his feed. Apparently, the judge believes this to be a violation of First Amendment rights.

Expect a flood of bots to try to drown out his Twitter messages.

I think - in the spirit of the Alinsky rule # 4 (Make the Enemy live up to its own book of rules) we should do the same to other Twittering leaders - LEFTIST leaders:

  • Nancy Pelosi
  • John McCain
  • John Kerry
  • Andrew Cuomo
Add your own suggestions to the comments.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Good Advice for Would-Be SJWs

On how NOT to get killed.

The Brutal Truth

The alt-right is the right’s Billy Carter, our Roger Clinton, our Onyango Obama. You know you share a little DNA, but damn, they just ain’t right in the head.

Elusive Reasons Part 2: A Suggestion

     In response to the earlier piece, reader Mark Clausen has submitted a tantalizing note of explanation:

     They simply have to utterly destroy DJT to discourage any future upstart "outsiders" that any encroachment on "their" turf will not be tolerated -- especially by those who have not been vetted by decades of corruption.

     I added the emphasis.

     A corrupt organization must ensure that all its members are corrupt. This guarantees certain advantages, one of which is the ability to destroy anyone who turns on the organization. A passage from Martin McPhillips’s blockbuster Corpse in Armor underlines this nicely. A conversation is taking place between “The General,” who heads a super-secret, officially unacknowledged organization that investigates and thwarts terrorist plots, and Charles Spencer, a multibillionaire who is one of the American heads of a communist-terrorist conspiracy that has plotted to nuke New York City. Spencer, whom the General’s team has just captured, has been fooled into thinking the General, whom he knows as “Edward,” is a member of a higher-level committee in the conspiracy. The General is probing for a way to prevent or forestall the attack:

     “We need to delay the attack and we want you to tell us how to do that.”
     “It can’t be done,” Spencer said. “Can’t be done. Simple as that.”
     “You must have kept a key to delay it, Charles. No one is that irresponsible.”
     “Eddie, I’m sorry, but I had to make it so that nothing could call this attack off. It was my decision. Now we have to prepare for the aftermath. But calling it off, it can’t be done.”
     “I don’t believe you,” the General said.
     “Believe or not as you please,” Spencer answered. “It won’t change the facts. I relinquished control over the nuclear operation.”
     “You’ve never relinquished control over anything, sir,” the General said. “You certainly wouldn’t let go of something this important.”
     “Well, look, Edward,” Spencer said, “maybe there is a thread that could be pulled, but first just get me out of this chair. My damn fingers are numb.”
     “You need to give me that thread first, Charles.”
     “No. I have nothing for you. You want to continue humiliating me, then I’ll let you guess about what I know. Stop treating me like a dog and I’ll be more forthcoming.”
     “Here’s what I’ll do for you, Charles, if you don’t tell me how to delay the nuclear attack. I’ll let you go, get you all cleaned up, back to your tip-top condition and send you on your way back to your life, and as you arrive back at whichever estate, the news will break, here in the U.S. and around the world, that you are a pedophile.”
     Spencer froze. It was as though he turned into polished marble, the transformation was so immediate and complete.
     “Yes,” the General said, “we know all about your secret life. Did you think that you would be allowed to accumulate all that money and power without us retaining methods of control? We don’t care about your habits. But we know how attached you are to your grand reputation in the bourgeois world, and what this revelation would do to you.”
     Decades of cultivated arrogance drained out of Spencer in a matter of seconds. The General had the thing that was worse than death for him.

     The salient thing in the above is that Spencer absolutely accepts that those above his head would have assured themselves of “retaining methods of control,” and that they would use them if it should prove necessary to break him to harness. It’s what Spencer would have done were their positions reversed.

     The corrupt trust only in the corruption of others. Thank you, Mark.

The Word 'Delusional' Seems to Fit

The Anti-Trump 'Underground' Resistance is on the Move! The writer, Diplomad, points out that True Resistance Fighters did NOT proclaim their actions in public. Instead, because they actually feared the actual Hitler and his goons, the Resistance worked in secret. AND, used guns.
It seems odd that many members of the "resistance" want the state to take away all of our guns. The resistance hates Trump so much they want him and his henchmen to have our weapons. I guess the resistance to Hitler did the same thing, no?
Unlike these wankers.

How like the Left to push young females to the front of the crowd,
to protect the Pajama Boys
 from getting their butts whipped.

Literate Ape satirically lays out the Rules for the Resistance.

Elusive Reasons

     People want to understand the things they see, hear, and read about. They want explanations. Motives. The reasoning that would connect the responses to the stimuli. Now and then they get it, but not as often as they’d like...and not nearly as lucid, either.

     Writers of fiction understand this. It’s why we venerate Tom Clancy for his maxim that “fiction has to make sense.” Getting our characters to make sense is the toughest part of our job. We can’t merely model them on real people, because real people often do what they do for no good reason whatsoever.

     An old friend once opined to me that there are really only two reasons for doing anything:

  • “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
  • “I was only following orders.”

     Watch out for that second one. It didn’t save the accused at Nuremberg and it might not save you, especially if the orders were oral rather than written.

     I’m grappling with a “why?” this morning: the “why?” behind the seemingly insane actions of a huge cabal of CIA, FBI, and DoJ functionaries, from the lowest to the very highest, to damage a presidential candidate they believed, one and all, had no chance of winning. As it is now established beyond a reasonable doubt that various CIA, FBI, and DoJ elements did take part in such an effort, there must be some reason.

     A few motives have suggested themselves:

  • To ingratiate themselves with the Clintons;
  • Envy of the “upstart from Queens” who had succeeded so spectacularly;
  • To establish for all time that challenges to the political Establishment will not be tolerated.

     All of these have a surface plausibility. However, when the potential gain is measured against the potential loss – a retribution being enacted in slow motion as the nation watches – it’s hard to accept any of them as truly plausible.

     The enumerated motives themselves deserve further exploration. For example: is it really possible to gain the loyalty of creatures as low and corrupt as Bill and Hillary Clinton? They haven’t evinced a lot of loyalty to anyone over their years in the public eye. Or is it that the conspirators feared that unless they demonstrated a willingness to act as venally and viciously as the Clintons, they would be denied places in a Hillary Clinton Administration?

     Envy is a powerful force, capable of animating a great many evil deeds. Still, virtually every conspirator whose name has come to light has no prior connection, whether good or ill, to Donald Trump. To argue for the envy motive is to suggest that Trump, above and apart from all the other fabulously successful men in America, had somehow earned their specific ire. That’s hard to swallow.

     The third possible motive, to establish that a severe penalty will be inflicted upon any commoner who dares to assert himself against the Powers That Be, is the one that best holds up under scrutiny. Yet the various CIA, FBI, and DoJ conspirators strike me as unlikely to have been animated thus for personal reasons. Such a motive is the sort that’s normally superimposed from above: by the truly High, as orders to their palace guards to see that the gates to the dive are well and truly secured. That makes a certain amount of sense, but it implies direction from above that would be extremely difficult to prove.

     Yet all of these, their relative probabilities notwithstanding, pale against the downside possibility of the ruination of the conspirators’ reputations, their social and occupational positions, even of their liberty. People could still go to prison over this, as unlikely as it might seem at the moment.

     Whenever the available motives make little or no sense, it’s required that we entertain the ugliest of all possible explanations: the one detectives dislike to the point of nausea.

     Maybe they did it simply because that’s what they do.

     Unless the perpetrator is standing over the body with the bloody knife in his hand, a crime committed simply because the criminal was moved by an inexplicable impulse to commit it is the very hardest sort to investigate – and to prosecute. Any good defense lawyer knows how to attack a weak tender of motive.

     Yet there have been many crimes, and many criminals who were discovered to have committed them for no logical reason whatsoever. And innocent actions performed as a matter of identity fulfillment are not unknown to us. Perhaps these spies, scandal fabricators, and calumniacs did what they did for that reason alone: it’s what they do.

     It’s an ugly mess, one way or the other. In particular, it destroys any nonsensical ideas about “incorruptible” government agencies, not that we should have harbored any notions of that sort in the first place. But in the aftermath of a discovery such as the campaign to smear Donald Trump, what we want most is an analysis that will show us a way to prevent a recurrence. Just now we don’t have one, unless it’s “forbid the erection of government agencies empowered to spy on private citizens.” While that’s a laudable goal, its practical application is as elusive as the motives, whatever they may be, of the conspirators whose actions we’re trying to understand.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Slanders And Slanderers

     Among the most noteworthy aspects of contemporary political combat is the Left’s penchant for attacking personalities: i.e., those individuals who’ve caused Leftists agita by outperforming them. The assaults on Donald Trump are only the most blatant examples of this.

     President Trump, be it said, can be abrasive. He’s had that aspect about him ever since he entered the public eye, back in the late Seventies. Any skilled caricaturist would incorporate that element into his portrayal. That renders Trump susceptible to being twitted.

     But Trump is successful. In spades. (And among spades, but that’s a separate subject.) He’s had several failures, but he’s followed the Scrooge McDuck formula: after each one, he’s picked himself up, set to work afresh, and swiftly recouped his losses. Moreover, he did so in the toughest real-estate environments in America, often against the will and the aims of the political elites of those regions.

     More to today’s point, Trump has outperformed a whole lot of folks the Left practically deifies, including their anointed successor to Barack Hussein Obama. First he defeated Mrs. Clinton in a national election. Then he set about reversing the most egregious policy missteps of the Obamunist regime, including those in which Mrs. Clinton had a conspicuous hand. Indeed, President Trump is on the way to achieving foreign-policy goals that many of the political elite had deemed unattainable. He won’t get the Nobel Peace Prize, of course; that only goes to certified Leftists. But he’s already secured better results than any the political and media establishments would have imagined possible.

     And they hate him for it. So they’ve done everything they can to besmirch his name and reputation.

     As above, so also below.

     Regular Gentle Readers will probably remember the pieces I posted about John Ringo’s and Larry Correia’s disinvitations, over plaintive and entirely fictional complaints from “social-justice warriors,” from events to which they’d been invited as honored guests. Slander was the method; pusillanimity on the part of the event organizers was the target. The unwillingness to face down the slanderers got them the results they wanted.

     Just recently, John Ringo was targeted again, this time about a past event. The story is unbelievably enraging:

     Concerned to walk the halls carrying a Ringo book? Only if you’re an underage girl.
     Story time!
     As an attendee and participant at FenCon in 2013, I had the (mis) fortune of encountering Ringo – first as someone whose story for the writing contest got poor marks because Ringo didn’t like that it had a black protagonist, then sitting behind him during opening ceremonies, and finally watching ConCom repeatedly bring him up short for his behavior.
     Specifically, Ringo and his girlfriend (?) in fetishwear trying to get underage girls at the con to come back to his room for ‘consensual bondage.’ It was stomach-twisting listening to the weedy little jerk cry out ‘if there’s no penetration, it’s not statutory!’ as an excuse not to get thrown out. ConCom was on the ball and kept an eagle eye on him, and the rest of the con went trouble-free.
     I will admit some amusement at Ringo going everywhere in the company of a bunch of jackbooted, identically-uniformed, buzzcutted goons with ‘Ringo’s Roughnecks’ stenciled on their cheap t-shirts.

     John Ringo has replied:

     I suppose I should start with a declaration I really shouldn’t have to make:

     This is an entirely fabricated lie.

     It has no truth to it whatsoever save that I was at FenCon as Toastmaster and I was in the company of a woman wearing Goth clothing.

     Please read Ringo’s piece in its entirety. It’s a bigger eye-opener than six cups of espresso.

     I’ve been told that Ringo is planning to sue the slanderer. I hope that’s so – and I hope he utterly ruins the blackguard. But above all, remember the tactical consistency with other Leftist slanders. It’s their method, and as they have little else with which to attack those more successful than themselves, I doubt they’ll give it up.

     Political combat, which has become a wholly unruly affair, accounts for some of this. Yet in earlier eras in which Left and Right were bitterly opposed to one another, we saw a higher, cleaner standard of thrust, parry, and riposte. Today’s Left has departed from the gutters to swim in the cesspools of discourse – and to dispense poisons from those cesspools to whoever will give them the opportunity.

     The worst aspect of the thing is how very hard it is to punish a slanderer. There are avenues in the law, of course, but they’re very demanding; any one of several possible missteps will cause a court to invalidate one’s claim of damage. Note how carefully plaintiff’s lawyer Louis Nizer had to maneuver to press home Quentin Reynolds’s claim of libel against Westbrook Pegler. Even if the plaintiff touches every base in the right order, a libel or slander defendant can often get off the hook merely by claiming that “I was misinformed.”

     But there’s a bright side as well: one Robert A. Heinlein delineated in Citizen of the Galaxy:

     “A thousand truths do not mark a man as a truth-teller, but a single lie marks him as a damned liar....Lying to other people is your business, but I tell you this: once a man gets a reputation as a liar, he might as well be struck dumb, for people do not listen to the wind.”

     And whether or not their targets manage to exact full justice and retribution for them, the overwhelming majority of the Left’s slanders are easily proved to be lies.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Diffuse Threats And The MYOB Mindset

     The recent, luridly reported school shootings have – surprise! – resulted in a flurry of proposals and counter-proposals for “school safety” in which partisans and communities of interest have exchanged more invective than ideas. The rhetorical temperature is high, as it always is when the “safety” of “children” is the issue. Any one familiar with the current state of American public discourse would simply shrug and say “You expected something different, bubeleh?”

     Me? I’m inclined to laugh at it all. I’d imagine the shade of Aaron Wildavsky is laughing, too. And yes, I know vitriolic Leftists will pour condemnations on my head for daring to be amused over this oh so “serious issue.” But then, I routinely laugh at their idiocies and self-righteous preening.

     There’s a fundamental law of nature at work here, and no one -- literally no one -- has made mention of it up to now. It’s likely that no one has noticed it.

     Geez, it’s gonna be a great Monday!

     Some years ago, writer Marc Stiegler formulated a mantra of sorts for those of us who prefer to think rather than react from our glands. He presented it in his novel David’s Sling, a rather daring fiction that explored several areas of thought and analysis largely through the lens of military procurement prior to and during a major war in Europe.

     The mantra:

You can never do only one thing.

     A great truth is expressed therein. No matter what you do or how or why you do it, there will be side effects. Moreover, the Second Law of Thermodynamics guarantees that at least one of those side effects will be undesirable. The absoluteness of this law can’t be proved mathematically, but I dare anyone to find a counterexample.

     Take the safety of children herded into a large structure with controls at all the entry points. Those controls can be made quite stringent, such that no one can get in or out, and moreover that no one can move a metallic object in or out, without being detected. Put guards at those points to monitor the operation of the detectors and respond to would-be violators, and you’ve solved the safety problem!

     Or have you?

     Straitened entry implies straitened exit. Therefore, anything that happens within the building – e.g., a fire, or a noxious gas emission – will be that much harder to get away from. Stumbling and tripping at the exit points become more likely, with the possibility of a pile-up during an evacuation. Moreover, there are many things some villain could smuggle in that a metal detector cannot detect. Some of them can do a lot more harm than a gun.

     Many a “Safety Nazi” (P. J. O’Rourke) would simply double down. Hire more guards, he would say. Have them roam the building looking for suspicious activity and potential hazards of other kinds. Give then the ability to open more egress routes at need. But that introduces a new hazard: hiring a guard who has nefarious motives. If those guards are armed, it also increases the likelihood of a mistaken use of a weapon, or an accidental discharge.

     Try it yourself. Imagine whatever “safety provisions” you like, and apply them as stringently as you please. Then look for the side effects. Be honest about them. They’ll be there – and in the usual case, they’ll introduce hazards of their own.

     There is no way to make any human activity or institution absolutely safe.

     Safety is always a relative matter: Is this arrangement safer than that one? Parachutists pack two chutes, not because that renders them absolutely safe, but because it improves the odds at an acceptable cost. Cars incorporate various safety-enhancing provisions not because that renders driving absolutely safe, but because we think they’ll reduce the probability of an accident, or the likelihood of serious injury should an accident occur. Most guns incorporate a “safety” that prevents the trigger from being pulled, not because that eliminates the possibility of an accidental discharge, but because it gives the operator a way to prevent one if he remembers to use it.

     Besides, there’s the MYOB mentality.

     I’m sure my Gentle Readers are all aware of the “If you see something, say something” campaign that was supposed to get travelers to report suspicious behavior. It’s not a wholly bad idea, but it has two side effects of importance. Both have the effect of preventing overall safety from being absolute.

     The first is the common tendency to resist invasions of privacy, especially by total strangers. If the target is minding his own business and expects others to do likewise, he could be seriously offended by even the gentlest inquiry about what’s in his duffel, backpack, or briefcase. Blows could result. So could lawsuits, especially if the gendarmerie should involve itself.

     The second is the tendency even among nervous and suspicious types to mind their own business. Let Smith see a backpack left unattended. Let him wonder about its provenance, its contents, and the intentions of the person who left it there. Will he act? If so, how swiftly and to what end? The probabilities might be higher than before September 11, 2001 that he will inform a responsible person about the pack and thus trigger appropriate measures, but they aren’t nearly 100% — and the authorities have become somewhat overconfident that private citizens monitoring one another will suffice to provide for safety against a bombing in a public place. Americans still prefer to go about their own affairs without minding others going about theirs.

     You can get safer...maybe. You can’t be absolutely safe.

     Our lives have always known hazards, and they always will. What’s relatively new is the diffuse threat: the possibility of malicious acts that could arise at any time, in any venue, and from any actor. Indeed, the threats we face today are so diffuse that I can’t imagine how they could be more so.

     When people cluster together, it creates an opportunity for the evilly minded. Shall we no longer cluster together, then? There are arguments for it in particular cases, but there are counter-arguments for it in others.

     Contemporary technology has made it possible for a villain or an accident to take many lives swiftly. What can we do about that? There’s no way to put the genie of knowledge back in its Solomon bottle. More, to do so would be to forfeit the safety-enhancing attributes of our level of technology. Yes, airliners can fall from the sky, but air travelers are measurably safer per passenger-mile than passengers on any other form of transportation, including walking.

     You can’t win absolutely. More, once you’ve reached a certain safety level, attempts to decrease the probability of harm still further will carry a ruinous cost...and will introduce hazards you hadn’t anticipated.

     You can never do only one thing.

     I no longer gave a damn about three-car garages and swimming pools, nor any other status symbol or "security." There was no security in this world and only damn fools and mice thought there could be.
     Somewhere back in the jungle I had shucked off all ambition of that sort. I had been shot at too many times and had lost interest.

     [Robert A. Heinlein, Glory Road]

One-note ukulele.

President Trump has said he won't rule out military action against Maduro.
"Maduro Wins Vote Boycotted By Opposition As US Threatens Sanctions." By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge, 5/21/18.