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Feb 22

Thou Shalt Not Be Easily Manipulated

I suppose it wouldn’t take a particularly astute observer to notice that most of my posts for the last 6 months or so have been more orientated towards dissuading people from participating in the ‘national outrage’ rather than addressing whatever it is we’re ‘outraged’ about.  The reason for this is twofold: 1., my research has shown ample reason to believe that there are people who deliberately wish to create and direct mobs and 2., I consider a mobocracy to be one of the most dangerous threats to freedom that history has ever seen.

Thus, I try to avoid ‘national conversations’ and I am definitely not keen on participating in our collective ‘two minutes of rage.’  But I am interested in trying to awaken people to their manipulation, and that means to some degree referring back to whatever people are rabid about today.

Well, what everyone is frothing at the mouth about today are guns, inspired by the latest school shooting.

I have very strong feelings about these shootings, and recently argued that if we were serious about stopping them, we would come to grips with reality and harden our schools with armed guards.   I believe that a big part of the reason people resist this obvious solution (after all, we have armed guards at banks, sporting events, air marshals, etc) is that it is a bold admission that there is something dark in the heart of man which cannot ever be legislated away.  It won’t be deterred by ‘No guns allowed’ signs.  Opposing guns is a cheap way to avoid hard philosophy.

But what if its worse than that?   What if a big part of it the fixation on the guns is simply because so many people are easily manipulated?  What if they lack all ability to think for themselves and WANT to be angry every day, treating their anger as action, and letting their good intentions mask their impotence?   How would one know?

Well, dear reader, that is precisely the question I want you to ask yourself.

Most people are disgusted by the accusation that they are simply a tool.   That will be little consolation if some future outrage you participate in morphs unexpectedly into a Bolshevik purge.  I’m sure the outraged Russians of 1910 didn’t think they might help usher in one of the bloodiest regimes known to human history… and yet they did just that. So, how might one actually know?

I want to give you some tips, and I want to give you a concrete example of something you ought to be outraged about, but you’re not, because… because… because… because the national media has chosen not to look at it, and since YOU ARE A TOOL, you do NOT look at it.  You only look at the things the media tells you to look at.  Sad!

So, one of the best ways to tell if someone has gone off the deep end is when they’ve lost all ability to keep things in proportion and view them in perspective.  The latest school shootings are a great example.

As I said, I am not at all indifferent to school shootings.  However, I know where they sit in the larger context.  I know, for example, that despite a high rate of gun ownership in the United States, the homicide rate is fairly low, and if you exclude Baltimore, Chicago, and a handful of other towns, the homicide rate is comparable to any of the countries with low homicide rates and strict gun control.  Eg, the UK.  Meanwhile, there are plenty of countries with strict gun controls where the homicide rate is absurdly high.  One almost gets the impression that the problem isn’t the gun!

This chart appears to have data from 2016 (I welcome correction):

Would you rather live in Honduras, or the USA?

As you can infer from the fact that America’s top 10 cities have more than 50% of the gun homicides, one of the other things we know is that school shootings, despite being horrible (probably preventable) incidents, simply are not the national problem that the national media would have us believe.

Per this researcher in this Politico piece of a few years back, the number of shootings has remained roughly the same over the last 40 years:

(I wish he would have shown the data on longer timeline.)

The number of victims of school shootings has generally increased, but still remains a very small proportion of the overall fire arm deaths.  In this Vox article, it shows that in 2013, the number of victims from mass shootings was only 2% of the total.   (The author makes some good points, but doesn’t seem to understand the implications of his own data.)

Unfortunately, when listening to gun control advocates talk about guns, they also lump in SUICIDES with homicides.  The Vox article above does a better job than most in parsing that out.  But the Vox article comes closer to revealing the dirty little secret about the whole issue when it says this:

For homicides, one big factor seems to be that the everyday shootings happen out of sight and out of mind for most Americans, since so many occur in poor, black, urban communities. In 2013, for example, more than 51 percent of homicide victims (75 percent of whom were killed by guns) were black, even though they make up 13 percent of the general population.

It is not uncommon for Chicago to put up as many deaths in any given weekend as are killed in a school shooting, but you don’t see any national outrages inspired by those!  Why is that?   Setting aside the possibility that gun control advocates are RACISTS, the real reason is worse in a way: school shootings better fit the gun control narrative.  Mass deaths in crime ridden areas do not fit that agenda, and in fact, may actually contradict that agenda, therefore NO ONE CARES.  The national media can’t make a strong connection between the conditions that leads to gang violence and legally owned weapons… so they simply don’t talk about it.

And because they don’t talk about it, YOU, dear reader, don’t think about it.  I’m not trying to insult you here.  I’m just pointing out that you don’t think about things unless they are put in front of your nose.  (And I’m also aware that MY readers are more sophisticated than this.)

One big way to avoid being being a tool is to read widely, of various sources of different political persuasions.  Read books, too.  Every day, I read multiple LIBERAL websites.  My daily pattern is this:  I start with the Drudge Report, and then from there see what’s going on with the WAPO and the NY Times, and then will mosey on to Huffpo and Salon.  I never read conservative media unless its linked from the Drudge or it pops up on my Facebook feed.

In my experience, my pattern is similar to other conservatives.  That is to say, conservatives read liberal media as much as anything else, whereas liberals and mainstream Americans only read liberal media.  And that is a big problem when it comes to keeping things in perspective.  The liberals like to paint themselves as the objective, non-partisan ones.  It is not so!

I want to give you a case in point.

Back in December, the Politico published a damning expose on how the Obama administration deliberately shut down prosecutions of drug smugglers in order to preserve their ‘deal’ with Iran.  Specifically, Obama and his team looked the other way as Hezbollah enriched itself by smuggling cocaine into the United States.

This is staggering, if true.  And it appears to be true.  But you would not know about it AT ALL if all you read was the NY Times.  It has now been almost 3 months, and the NY Times has yet to follow up on the Politico’s reporting. The WAPO is hardly better.

Well, who cares if loads of cocaine come into the country?

It is interesting–the NY Times didn’t feel like following up on the Politico piece, but when the report came out that opioid (and cocaine) deaths were on the rise, including in black communities, it covered THAT.  The Politico piece came BEFORE the NY times article on the rise of drug deaths, so it is quite the omission.

Well, just how many people died from drug overdoses in the US in 2016?


How many people were murdered by a firearm in in the US in 2016?


Which number is bigger?  60,000 or 11,000?

60,000… BIG.

11,000… LITTLE.

60,000… BIG.

11,000… LITTLE.

Media attention on a relatively small amount of school shootings?  MASSIVE.

How many deaths to school shootings in 2016?


Outrage for school shootings?  MASSIVE!

Outrage over 60,000 deaths PER YEAR to drugs in the US?  Zero.



60,000 very big.


Media attention 60,000 dead to drug over doses?  Sure, its there, but you don’t see any hyperventilating, do you?

What?  No calls to make heroin and cocaine illegal, despite there being 6 times the number of deaths due to them as opposed to guns?

Oh, that’s right.  Drug smuggling and drug use is already illegal–and it didn’t stop anyone.  It doesn’t fit the narrative, so we don’t have hourly fits of panic and rage about it.

But this Hezbollah story justifies outrage if every outrage was justified.

This chart is interesting in that context:

First of all, note that drug overdoses in general have gone up for everyone, but one of the hardest hit groups are BLACKS.  When did the blacks start getting hit the worst?  Shortly after Obama was elected.  Shortly after Obama thwarted prosecution of Hezbollah.

Now, you KNOW that if a Republican president had looked the other way on drug smuggling and at roughly the same time drug over doses in the black community sky-rocketed, there would be hell to pay.  We’d be hearing about it every day.

If it was the Trump administration, The NY Times, which has not followed up on the Politico piece AT ALL, would be asking the obvious question:  just how many of these drug overdoses are from drugs brought in by Hezbollah’s smugglers? If it was Trump, we’d have a rough answer to that question, and impeachment proceedings would have already been initiated.

But since it was Obama:  silence.

Don’t lie to yourself.  You know its true.  You know it. 

In fact, if you are a liberal, this may very well be the first time you have even heard about the giant pass that Obama gave Hezbollah.  The odds are equally unlikely that you heard that Hezbollah recently shot down an Israeli jet plane… where did Hezbollah get the money for that missile, I wonder?   What other capabilities does Hezbollah have (eg, striking America?) thanks to the veritable cash donation the Obama admin made to Iran’s terrorist expeditionary force?

I could have focused only on the fact that there are more gun fatalities in cities, largely by blacks murdering other blacks.  But my goal here was to expose 2 things:  1., if you had any sense of proportion whatsoever, you would know that even in THAT regards, blacks and whites together are dying in far greater numbers to other things which 2.,  are barely a glimmer in the eye of the media.

This raises profound questions about the health of this society.  And its not by any means the only questions that arise if you really try to assess the true state of the country.   There are many things to get angry about.  But let’s keep it in proportion, and lets take the time to study and research it ALL.

Eventually, our national outrage machine is going to cause serious, perhaps irreversible harm.  Harm that perhaps dwarfs any of these other things we argue about.  There may be no going back.

If we’re going to get angry, we should be getting angry because of the results of our own research, not because the media has whipped us up into a daily frenzy.


Feb 19

The Right Tool for the Job of Securing Liberty

Last year, I needed to move a large item, but had no way of lifting it.  A couple of years ago, I had learned of something called a ‘farm jack.’   I picked up one, and the job went super smoothly.  I thought to myself: why didn’t I get this thing sooner?  There had been sooooo many times when there had been no better tool than a jack like this, and my life was harder than it needed to be for lack of one.

For some reason, people fail to understand that a gun is simply a tool, and like many tools, can be used in different ways, or even abused altogether.  If someone charges into your house while you’re sleeping, the tool you want is a gun.  If you haven’t a gun, then a baseball bat may be the next best thing.  Just as I found ways to lift heavy items without the proper tool, you might be able to defend yourself with the baseball bat.  But there may very well be a time when the baseball bat simply is NOT going to work.

Now, gun control advocates speak out of both sides of their mouths when it comes to this issue.  They may want guns to be removed–but by that they mean moved… exclusively into the hands of the State.  In other words, if they are disarmed, and someone breaks into their house and has bound them up and is raping their wives and children, they don’t want the police to come armed only with baseball bats.  They want the police to come fully equipped for the task at hand.

Similarly, you can usually get a gun control advocate to very reluctantly admit that SOMEONE has to have guns, if only because of the existence of tyrannies like North Korea.  They understand that North Korea isn’t leaving South Korea alone simply out of good will, but because South Korea bristles with weapons.

But what they never can imagine is that their own country could become more like North Korea.  They can’t conceive of a reality in which the police, being the only armed individuals, comes to abuse their powers in an overwhelming manner.  In short, gun control advocates are afflicted with an ideology which sees threats everywhere–except by the State.  In fact, gun control advocates seem to be doing all in their power to engorge the State, chalking up its many failures as merely ‘blips’ which we can progressively eliminate until one day, viola! Utopia!

Now, the framers of the U.S. Constitution were acutely aware of the horrors an armed State could inflict on its unarmed populace.   To ensure that the United States did not become such a state, they recognized that the best tool for the job was a gun, and they built into the foundational documents the right to keep and bear arms.  (‘Arms’ being short for ‘armaments.’ The 2nd amendment is NOT about conferring a right to HUNT.)

This is a basic disagreement between gun control advocates and those who support the 2nd amendment.  Gun control advocates tend to think it is absurd to believe that their country could ever become a tyranny.  2nd Amendment advocates are convinced it is entirely possible.  Gun control advocates believe that society can be progressively perfected, and they often slip into a state of mind that would have you believe they think that ‘world peace’ is possible.  2nd Amendment advocates do not think that world peace is possible (unless Jesus himself establishes it) and that the civilization we enjoy at present is only skin deep, and is only held together by significant checks and balances from the bottom of the chain to the top.  And the final check and balance on the State is an armed citizenry.

Now, there really is no conversation possible between these two camps.  There is a saying, “A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged.”  Likewise, I believe one only moves out of the gun control camp after they’ve been thumped by reality–and facts, logic, and reason don’t count.

I used to be in the gun control camp.  I advocated for the confiscation of guns.  I mocked the idea that guns don’t kill people.  I was not talked out of this viewpoint.  No, I was violently shaken from my position by the events of 9-11.

9-11 came just as my first child was about to be born and I was suddenly awakened to the realization that MY GOVERNMENT CANNOT PROTECT ME.  I am the first AND the last line of defense for my family.

There were a few other terrifying things that occurred in the background.  For example, there was the guy who barged into my house and stood nose to nose with me, angrily shouting at me.  (I was in Illinois at the time, so it almost goes without saying that I was at the mercy of any random person off the street–which is basically what this guy was).

But it was 9-11 that marked the most profound change.  You see, if you soberly assess what 9-11 represented, you will see that it was not just a monumental lapse of the Federal government’s security apparatus, resulting in 2,000+ dead.  The bombers of 9-11 targeted the United State’s economic (WTC), military (Pentagon), and government (Congress/White House).  It was a serious attempt to literally dismantle the American way of life, sending it into anarchy and leaving the United States unable to defend itself further.

Now, the attempt did not succeed, and perhaps it could not have succeeded.   (Certainly, you’ll need to do more than take out a portion of the Pentagon in order to render our military powerless.)  But the fact that anyone thought the attempt was worth trying–and our government was incapable of preventing the attempt–reveals in very stark terms the fact that we have no good reason to assume that the circumstances of today will be the circumstances of tomorrow, or a month from now.

What is to say that in the near future, some of those famed nuclear ‘suitcase’ bombs might not finish off Washington DC, NYC, or a handful of other strategic locations?   Are we so sure that our civilization could survive such an event?

9-11 was not more than 20 years ago.  It was within living memory.  Who knows what ‘black swan’ event could occur tomorrow where it becomes perfectly evident that the ONLY way liberty can be secured or re-secured is by an armed populace asserting itself?  You can’t know, and while the odds may be remote, they are plausible.  Eg, a massive meteor strike, an earth quake swarm, an EMP attack, etc.

These are the ‘sudden’ scenarios, but there is something to be said about a sober look at history, too.  You don’t even have to go too far back, but why not?

Before the Cherokees were forcibly removed to Oklahoma, they were disarmed ‘for their own good.’  Before the Young Turks murdered millions of Armenians, the Armenians were disarmed.  You can sure as hell bet that the Jews in Germany were disarmed!  You can be certain that the Tutsis of Rwanda wished that they had owned weapons–in fact, it was only the armed Tutsis that effectively survived in order to displace Hutu Power and take control.  This was only in 1994!  Include Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, Lenin, and a host of others, some of them within the last 50 years, and it becomes clear that we should not be resting on our laurels.

These are all examples of STATE-inflicted mass murders.

Freedom and liberty must be carefully preserved and maintained.  It is an exception in history, not the rule.  While you may believe otherwise, there are many of us who believe the founders were absolutely correct to be concerned, and we believe that their concern is valid to this very day.

This is sometimes countered by mocking us  with comments like, “Do you think you could stand up to America’s military?!?!?! Idiot!”  But this shows you’re not listening.  There are any number of scenarios (eg, an EMP attack) that do not involve pitting the American State vs its citizens, per se.  Its also worth mentioning that (I regret to inform you) that American soldiers take an oath of allegiance to the US Constitution, and at least at present, they vote overwhelmingly conservative.  In case of a societal breakdown, America’s military won’t be on the side of the Statists…. they’re with us, not you.

But like I said, there is no particular reason to limit our analysis to scenarios where we need to worry about our own military.   In point of fact, America’s way of handling its military is another one of those important checks and balances on tyranny.  Eg, being subject to civilian authority.  If you read primary sources, you will discover that early Americans saw the citizen-soldier aspect of America’s military as a profound check on government overreach.

The bottom line is that if you want to have a ‘conversation’ about gun control, and your argument is that there is nothing to fear from the State, or black swan events, you’re never going to get anywhere.  Moreover, I should advise you that history suggests that if you succeed in disarming the citizenry, its almost certainly the case that in due time, you will deeply regret it.  Not just because tyranny has come upon you, and you are powerless to do anything about it, but because thanks to your naïveté, you were probably part of the reason it came about in the first place.



Feb 14

A ‘Solution’ to Mass Shootings at Schools

Listen.  I will tell you a secret.  It isn’t the gun.  Indeed, if Nicholas Cruz had wanted to kill even more people, he could have waited until after school and drove his vehicle 60 mph into the kids lined up as they were getting onto their buses.

In the Nice, France, attack, 86 people were killed and 458 others were injured–not by a gun, but by a truck driving down the street.  This is more fatalities than the Vegas shooting.  Not too long ago, 8 were killed in NYC due to a truck attack.   There have not been calls to ban vehicles.  Because that would be stupid.  (You might be surprised at how many such incidents like this there are.)

In Japan, 19 were killed and 26 were wounded in a stabbing attack in 2016.  This surpasses what Cruz ‘accomplished.’

For those having trouble keeping up, truck attacks are attacks by TRUCKS.  Not guns.  Stabbings are attacks by KNIVES.  Not guns.

In this murder spree, these two gents killed 21 people–with a hammer.


Are you starting to get the picture?

And lest we forget, France has very strict gun control laws, but that didn’t stop thugs from getting them and wiping out 12 in the offices of Charlie Hebdo.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could focus our attention only on the objects, and solve our problems.  Alas, the problem isn’t objects, it is subjects.  If people decide they want to kill there is little to stop them–except other people.

It is not my purpose to get into why exactly we see schools targeted by shooters.  The basic answer is one that no one wants to contemplate–SIN.  But call it whatever you want–or don’t call it anything.  All you have to do is come to grips with the reality that people are going to continue to murder other people en masse using whatever tool they decide to use. Unless you want to enclose every person on the globe in their own private padded rooms, or ban knives, trucks, hammers, rocks, machetes, ropes, …. , this is an unalterable state of human affairs.

Now, when the grown ups began to appreciate the fact that people were using trucks as weapons, they did not say a peep about banning trucks.  Instead, they worked within the reality that they found themselves in.  They analyzed their situation, erected barriers, trained themselves to spot potential assailants, etc.

Yea, it SUCKS that it became necessary to think in those terms, but THAT IS THE REAL WORLD.

I am convinced that one of the reasons why no ‘solution’ to the mass shooting problem has emerged is because the ‘solution’ means acknowledging not only that people are not intrinsically good, but worse… they are intrinsically bad.  The implications of that realization are far more uncomfortable than the feel good alternative of focusing on the object used in the slayings; well, only if that object is a gun, right?  The point is not trivial.

Now, before I go further and help you all out with the ‘solution’ to this mess, let me submit to you that there have been guns widely dispersed in American society for many decades, but school shootings are only a more recent development, inaugurated more or less with Columbine.  This should tell a tale, except the tale it tells is one that no one wants to hear.   What it means is that there is something that has changed IN THE CULTURE.

If there have been semi-autos back into the 30s and 40s, and bad men even then, but mass school shootings didn’t begin in earnest until the late 1990s, it means a CHANGE has occurred that has NOTHING TO DO with the existence of bad men or the availability of guns.

I’ll have to leave the reader to ponder some ideas on why that is for now.  Yes, I have some distinct ideas of my own, and agree that these dynamics ought to be addressed, but right now my purpose is to save lives, and what I wish to dispel is this fanciful, veritable childish line of reasoning, which supposes that if suddenly every gun was removed from the planet, mass murders would stop.

NO.  They WOULD NOT STOP.  The murderers would merely SWITCH tactics.  Whatever dynamics are driving people to shoot up schools are still going to be present if there are no guns to shoot.

If you want to save lives, you’re just going to have to come to grips with this reality.

To put the point somewhat differently, when you put obstructions up around a soft target so that a truck can no longer mow people down, then you can FULLY EXPECT that perpetrators are going to adapt.  YES.  Good Lord, people.  Can’t you get it through your thick head?  They do one thing, we do another, they react, we react, they react again, THIS IS THE REAL FRIGGIN WORLD.

If you want to save lives–really–then you need to get your head in the world we’re actually in, rather than the world you wished you live in.  Two seconds on Google news will dash any illusions you have about the nature of the world… but you’re a stubborn fellah, aren’t ya?

(Oh yea, and just as a quick aside, if you broaden your research a little further, you will discover that there are no mass murderers that rival the murdering that various States have inflicted on their unarmed subjects.)

So, here is the solution:  abandon the fairy tale about schools being safe environments just by virtue of having locked doors.  (such silliness.  The Sandy Hook shooter just shot his way through the door.  I mean, duh.  What did you expect?)   Abandon the goal of FEELING safe.  Do what is necessary to BE safe within the current environment.

And that means 2-6 sufficiently armed men on the school premises, authorized to intervene ASAP.

Every school.

Every day.

Period, end of story.  No brainer.

If you have your undies in a bundle about having private parties stationed on the school campus armed to the teeth, you could just suck it up and bite the bullet (no pun intended) and factor in the hiring of armed police officers as part of the school budget.  I know with budgets being tight as it is, that’s a hard thing to do, but if you really think you’re going to eradicate every gun in America any time soon you desperately need a reality check.

There is potentially a more cost effective way to do it that might make for a good compromise, and that is to ask any of the hundreds of thousands of veterans that are in our country and ask them to do it.  I will bet you a good chunk of money that almost every community in the country could come up with a sizable security force of trained former soldiers who would gladly be willing to step up to the task, and charge next to nothing for the privilege.  (They would consider it an honor.)

You do this, and mass school murders–not just shootings–will come to a screeching halt.  But if you do it, you gotta really do it.  No half-measures.  No skimpy security details.  For something like this, you have got to do the job right.

Does it strike you as tragic that one would need to have armed guards in a place of learning?  Oh well!  Have you never given any thought as to how we can generally live our lives in peace from threats, foreign and domestic?  That’s not an accident, my friend.  While you might like to nurse your utopian ego and pretend that it all works because at lease we civilized folk are singing Kum Buh Ya, but in point of fact, we only have our relative safety because, as Richard Grenier said, “People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

If you want to stop the killing, you have to suck it up and realize that people have decided that schools are great places to find defenseless people to kill, so if you want to make the change, you need to insert into the equation people who are NOT defenseless.

Do you know what is tragic?  I’ll tell you what is tragic:  people who understand that we rely on ‘rough men’ to secure our peace and freedoms against tyrants and various foes but somehow think its a PERFECTLY BRIGHT IDEA to leave our children defended only by … a hippie delusion that OF COURSE no one would target places of higher learning!  THAT is tragic.

It’s time to come to grips that our schools have practically been designed as actual kill boxes which are known to be absent of ‘rough men’ defending them–with outcomes almost so obvious its almost embarrassing that anyone is shocked, SHOCKED, when sees them as the kill boxes they are.  It’s time to give the ‘rough men’ their proper place, and give up this asinine self-delusion that all we have to do to protect our children is to get rid of the guns.

You either hire a bunch more police officers, ‘enlist’ our vets for the cause, or allow private citizens to step into the breach, or a combination of all three.

Let it now be said: “Parents calmly go about their day and students confidently go about their studies only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

This is the solution.  There is no other.

You’re welcome.


Feb 13

My Interactions on Social Media Explained

By social media, I basically mean Facebook.  I hold Twitter in contempt.

The purpose of this essay is to offer some explanation for why I post some things to Facebook, which some may find helpful.

My Facebook posts fall into 2 basic categories:  cat videos and hard hitting commentary.  ‘Cat videos’ would be me just chillin’ with light-hearted fare.  Hard hitting commentary is pretty self-explanatory.

Here is the deal: the hard hitting commentary is reserved for those that I deem able to cope with it, which means that for the most part, this commentary is ‘preaching to the choir.’  But even these might be interested in knowing the driving principles behind my remarks.  You can find them summed up to the right on this page under “Anthony’s Three Principles.”  But, if I post on Facebook, its usually with this principle in mind:

Prevent the next holocaust-level event from occurring and stop the ones that are presently on-going. He does not share the optimism of some that humanity has ‘progressed’ enough to avoid it…

In other words, my commentary is meant to ring alarm bells.  People who see this commentary may be sympathetic to my perspective, but they may not have the time, energy, or resources, to investigate them in the way that I can.  My commentary is thus intended as a service–specifically, to alert those who have ears to dangers that are out there that could potentially threaten them or their loved ones.

There is not a 3rd category: debate and argue (I mean ‘argue’ in its technical sense).  If ever there was a time when I argued for the sake of arguing, that time is long gone.  If I contribute to someone else’s conversation, rest assured it is not because I find it entertaining.   I tend to stay off of other people’s FB pages, but if it is on my own Facebook profile, it still isn’t posted because I like debating.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  My time is worth far more to me than people are likely to realize.   No: my goal is to lend my expertise to those who might be interested in hearing my perspective.

And what is my expertise?

I study death.  I study mass murder.  I study genocides.  I study the collapse of societies.  I study repressive regimes.  And by study, I mean, I actually study.  I read, and read, and read.  I seek out primary sources.  I do not rely on others to tell me what to think. I do the work so that if I speak on a topic, I am qualified to do so.  I have a personal library of some 3,000 books, paid for out of my own pocket.   I don’t say it as a boast, but as evidence of my quest for genuine insight into the world.

Here is what I don’t mean by ‘study’: “I saw a meme, once…” or “I read a paragraph in a text book when I was in 9th grade,” or “I learned it in Sunday School!” or “The NY Times says it, so it must be true.”  I have no time or patience for people who argue a position which rests on such infantile foundations.

Unless I have some kind of relationship to warrant putting up with such childish opinions, I’m not going to waste my time talking to them.  Viola! And like that, they are moved from my list of people who can see my hard hitting commentary to only those who see my cat videos.

A sizable number of the books on my shelf are written by people I disagree with completely.  I spend 90% of my time reading the websites frequented by those I disagree with completely.  Why?

Answer: To make sure that my perceptions of an issue are not filtered through the words of another.  I don’t need person X to tell me what Person Y believes.  I listened to Person Y in his own words.  And you can sit there on the other side and piss and moan that my view of Person Y is skewed, or biased, or whatever else someone wants to throw out there, but I will not be cowed by belligerent, ignorant, uninformed rants to the contrary: because I know.  I KNOW.  I heard it out of their own lips. 

As I have taken to saying: Don’t pee on my leg and tell me its raining.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but there is no good reason to think that any of history’s worst calamities cannot unfold right here in the United States.  More bad news:  we are never as far from it as we suppose.  Even more bad news:  all the elements that have enabled Americans of divergent viewpoints to co-exist (relatively) peacefully since its founding are steadily being eroded, corroded, and purposefully undermined.  (Hint: the people doing this are not Christian conservatives.)

This of course doesn’t mean that we’ll see a Bolshevik revolution tomorrow.   Things don’t work that way.  On the other hand, things can happen faster than anyone could have guessed.   There are a number of potential scenarios, and all of them require some kind of catalyst, which almost by definition cannot be predicted (eg, an assassination, such as Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.)

It is not my purpose here to go into all those scenarios, or discuss likely catalysts, etc.  My purpose is to explain that I believe that, as in other times and places in world history, the fuel is being gathered for the fire, and whether by lightning strike or by arson, a conflagration is more likely by day–not less.

Before I sign off on this post, its worth mentioning too that in rejecting the utopian vision of those engaged in the perfection of society, I firmly believe that the best explanation for this state of affairs is as the Christian scriptures lay them out:  people are fallen and sinful–everyone of us.  And the rest is true, too: this world is going to be burned.  There is one hope, and only one hope, and his name is Jesus.

If you want to hear more from this perspective beyond what is on this blog, you can friend me on Facebook.  You ought to send me a note telling me that you are worthy of more than cat videos, otherwise that may be all you ever see.

[Caveat: there are other reasons why I might not show all of my Facebook posts to all people beyond my feeling that they cannot handle commentary.  For example, I use Facebook to keep in touch with family somewhat, and there is no particular reason to expose THEM.  So, if you are currently a FB ‘friend,’ the fact that all you see are ‘cat videos’ doesn’t necessarily mean I find you unworthy of more.]




Feb 05

Trump’s War on the Media Explained

It will be hard for my readers to believe, but for more than half my life, I was effectively a liberal.  Except on the issue of abortion, I more than leaned to the left.  I once seriously advocated for confiscation of all guns as well as legislative re-distribution of wealth.  I was sympathetic to unions until around 1995, and even walked a picket line in 92.  There were a variety of factors that pushed me away from liberalism:  the fall out of the strike I just referred to, the Bill Clinton experience, and 9-11.  Some others, but you get the picture. Despite this transition, I considered liberalism to be a respectable viewpoint held by otherwise reasonable people who happened to disagree with me.

Watching what happened with George Bush brought this to an end.  Although, I should be clear, that when I say ‘what happened with George Bush’ I also mean, ‘what happened to anyone who happened to disagree with liberals.’  Because this idea I had–that you could be a liberal and still be a good person–was emphatically not reciprocated by liberals.

Shortly after 9-11, I distinctly remember hearing some liberal politico, complaining about the popularity that Bush was enjoying,  saying something to the effect of “We have to destroy this man.”  (If anyone knows who this person was and the full quote, I would love to hear it.  I can’t find it now.)  Not long afterwards, Bush Derangement Syndrome set in.

I had and have significant disagreements with the man, but all the information publicly available suggests that he was a decent guy who did his best for the country as he understood it.  And yet he was mocked and heaped with derision that  was never ending.  The media heaped scorn upon him.  I’d be sitting there watching the news and some minor thing that Bush had done (and Republicans in general) was a national nightmare.  It got worse and worse.  It was unrelenting.

And I remember that Bush never fought back.  He didn’t defend himself.  As his regard among the populous was deliberately degraded, the pile-on continued.   It overflowed onto every other Republican, and any other person who disagreed with liberals.  We saw it manifest into red hot silliness with McCain and Palin, and then again with Romney and Ryan.  And I remember that as all these people were subjected to the politics of personal destruction, they did not fight back.

I believe that Trump remembers this too.

Let’s remember that until he declared his candidacy for president, Trump was generally accepted within the wider culture.  As a media figure in his own right, he belonged to the ‘club.’  But as soon as he entered the race as a Republican, and certainly as soon as he strengthened his lead, the contempt amassed, built up a head of steam, and brought us to today, where Bush Derangement Syndrome has been officially replaced with Trump Derangement Syndrome.

I believe that Trump pushes back on EVERYTHING, not because of a personality disorder or ego trip, but as a matter of calculus.  He has watched relatively good people be destroyed at the hands of the press, and he is not going to let it go unanswered.

On this view, if you are in the media and you don’t want Trump to continue tweeting, then stop posting malicious and obviously biased smears and slanders and passing it off as ‘news.’

Whether or not carrying out this counter-offensive on Twitter is a good idea, the counter-offensive in principle is almost certainly the smartest thing that Trump can do.   I can’t help but notice, too, that Trump, in defending himself, is defending 50 million people who have been subjected to one slander after another for as long as I’ve been paying attention.  And I’ve only been paying attention since c. 1996.

I have seen little in this time to suggest that the liberal ideology is interested in co-existing with people who have disagreements.  To them, it is open war, and it is utterly justifiable.  My strong suspicion is that Trump has come to the same conclusion, and refuses to acquiesce to it.

If only the rest of the GOP would follow suit.

Just as a side note– Trump’s Twitter account is accessible to Twitter–by definition. Twitter, like the other social media networks, is run by liberals.  Fighting back using this platform is a recipe for disaster, setting aside the intrinsic problems of communicating in under 300 characters.  It is entirely conceivable that someone at Twitter could hijack Trump’s account, potentially causing yuuuge problems (beyond any that Trump himself might cause 🙂  ).  I don’t know what else I’d suggest, but if I were Trump’s teams, I would take precautions if they hadn’t already.



Jan 15

It shouldn’t be taboo to criticize people who criticize people for having too many children

Ok, so the post title today was immediately what came into my mind, but naturally someone in the comment section to this article, It shouldn’t be taboo to criticize parents for having too many kids, already said it, so my thunder has already been stolen a bit.

These kinds of articles, essays, blog posts, etc, are everywhere these days.  I used to collect them, hoping that the sheer number of them would persuade people to the real danger.  Nowadays, however, the people who can be persuaded already are (after all, they’ve got eyes; they can see these articles themselves, which are EVERYWHERE), and the people who can’t be persuaded will never be persuaded.   For these, I often encounter a variant of Rod Dreher’s “Law of Merited Impossibility” at work.  In sum, there are people who argue like this: “X will never happen, but when it does, you’ll deserve it.”  Put another way:

From arguments of denial to arguments of justification, overnight, with no one seeming to grapple with just how profound the consequences must be. [Emphasis mine].

Similarly, in dozens of exchanges on topics related to population control, my debate partner will A., deny that what I’m describing exists and then after I show it very much does will B., say it isn’t as common as I purport, and after I provide 10, 20, 30, 40… (I could provide hundreds, but after 20 I think we know what’s going on, don’t we?) examples, they will C., say, “well, surely we ought to have a conversation.” And you can be quite sure that after A, B, and C, all come into their full flower, when “D” comes to pass — coercion–they will say, “like I said, it will never happen, but now that it has, you deserved it!”

People with this mentality have something really sick in their head. (Or is it their soul?)  It is more dangerous and potentially deadly than the policies Kristen Pyszczyk wants to have a ‘conversation’ about, and something we should be watching out for when we hear people talking about such things.

Pyszczyk, though offering a rather typical argument, is not worthy of a point by point response.  I certainly have no interest in debating the un-persuadable.   But there are people who are persuadable, and even already persuaded, who could stand to understand better where the danger lies in such argumentation.  This post is for them.

First of all, we need to observe that Pyszczyk describes herself as a feminist–and yet, she feels completely justified in telling other women how many children they ought to have:

It’s not OK to have five kids without once considering adoption.


In the global West, where the environmental footprint of one person is far larger than in developing nations, it’s crucial that we begin to present all people with alternatives to the traditional nuclear family. This inevitably involves calling out people who have kids like they’re going out of style.

Shame is a powerful tool for changing behaviour: it’s how we introduce new and existing social conventions.

Here is your takeaway:  people in this mold, while they might describe themselves as liberals, or feminists, or whatever, who would never want to talk about anything that, as Pyszczyk says, “involves telling a woman what to do with her body,” in reality, these count for very little.  Her own essay stands as a rebuttal to her feminism, but she is too daft to notice–or give it much weight.

The problem for the rest of us is that we take them at their word.  They say they are animated by rights for women, they say they are for personal liberties (more often than not, license), they say they don’t want the government in the bedroom, they say they don’t want anyone else to come between a woman and her doctor… and they are lying about all of it.

Now, they may not know they are lying.  They may very well be lying to themselves.  They are lying nonetheless.

Pyszczyk correctly notes, “Population control is a fraught topic, and carries with it associations with eugenics and other nasty historical events.”

Quite so.  And if you actually study population control, eugenics, and other nasty historical events, you will very often find that the eugenicists and perpetrators of these ‘historical events’ attempted to take the exact same line that Pyszczyk does, that of ‘changing attitudes.’  I will talk about that more in just a bit.

The point is, she thinks that if you get society to adopt ideas that serve the ‘public good’, even if it descends into shaming (just how coercive would she go?), this is NOT an intrusion on anyone.  As someone who HAS studied these things, I can assure you, this is a very common sentiment among the eugenically-minded.  Recently I detailed it in a post describing the aborting of children diagnosed with birth defects, in this article, “The White Supremacy of Aborting Defectives.” Just to illustrate for our purposes here, I quoted a very reputable geneticist as saying:

In order to fulfill the aim of achieving a form of selection more humane than that resulting from the unalloyed struggle for existence, it would of course be all-important for this purposive control to be carried out, not by means of decrees and orders from authorities, but through the freely exercised volition of the individuals concerned, guided by their recognition of the situation and motivated by their own desire to contribute to human benefit in the ways most effective for them.  This is the only real solution, the only procedure consistent with human happiness, dignity, and security. … But for voluntary adoption by people in general of a course of such wisdom, and so different from that now followed, a deep-seated change in mores would be necessary.  Not least among the requirements for this would be a far more thoroughgoing and widespread education of the public in biological and social essentials. [emphasis added]

And here we get into very strange country.

As it relates to population control (rather than aborting children with birth defects), we find in the first place that all the same people who advocated for women’s rights were ready in an instant to revoke them if it became necessary.  In his 1969 book The Population Bomb, Paul Ehrlich famously said,

The battle to feed humanity is over.  In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.  At this late date nothing can prevent [yadda yadda yadda].  Our position requires that we take immediate action at home and promote effective action worldwide.  We must have population control at home, hopefully through changes in our value system, but by compulsion if voluntary methods fail.

What kind of compulsion, you wonder?  Ehrlich would team up with a certain John Holdren in the mid-1970s and put on the table:  compulsory abortion, …

…. compulsory giving children up for adoption, adding sterilants to the water supply, compulsory sterilization, outlawing having more than 2 children, and lets not forget “an armed international organization” or “planetary regime” to enforce such policies on a global scale.

Please observe that Holdren said that these laws can be sustained under the US Constitution.  Oh, and also that he was Barack Obama’s chief science advisor.  He never repudiated his ideas.  He only said that the situation wasn’t ‘sufficiently severe’ to entertain such policies.

These kinds of arguments run throughout the pro-woman’s ‘choice’ to have an abortion field.  I mean, they are everywhere, if one cares to actually find out what they really think.  By far, the most glaring and easy to access example of this sentiment is the Jaffe Memo, which I extensively treat on this blog.

The most notable feature of the Memo for our purposes here is the fact that it was put together by a Vice-President of PLANNED PARENTHOOD, and includes proposals such as:

Restructuring the family by altering the “image of the ideal family size.” Compulsory education of children. Encouraging homosexuality.  Fertility control agents in the water.  FORCING women to work–and then provide few child care facilities.  Compulsory abortion and sterilization–obviously.  Discouraging private home ownership.  And so on.

You get the idea.

The counter argument is that these have not been actually implemented, they were just options to consider.  My point is that they were options at all!  To have an organization like Planned Parenthood seriously considering such proposals, when it is supposedly the guardian of a woman’s right to her own body, is very revealing.

And of course, they all knew that abortion and eugenics were interrelated.  As Frederick Osborn said:

“Birth control and abortion are turning out to be great eugenic advances of our time. If they had been advanced for eugenic reasons it would have retarded or stopped their acceptance.”

And Henry Kissinger noted in a 1974 report (NSSM 200) that was embraced by both Republicans and Democrats:

Certain facts about abortion need to be appreciated:  No country has reduced its population growth without resorting to abortion.

There is one obvious conclusion to make from my argument thus far in relation to Pyszczyk’s claims.  She says ‘we ought to have a conversation.’  This ‘conversation’ has been going on already for the greater part of a century!

A more substantial criticism, along the same lines, is in response to her statement:

Now, as a feminist, I tend to oppose any cultural conversation that involves telling a woman what to do with her body. But women have long been told that they need to have kids to have a meaningful life, and they are groomed for motherhood from a very early age.

But we don’t often hear arguments for alternatives to motherhood. Women need to be presented with options for a fulfilling life that don’t involve taking 20 years of their lives to care for offspring. Changing the narrative around motherhood should help to offset some of the cultural conditioning we receive throughout our lives.

Wow, just wow.  What kind of bubble does she live in?  The above quotes enough show that in actuality, for the last 40-50 years, the truth is that women have long been told that they do NOT need to have kids to have a meaningful life.  Women are CONSTANTLY presented with options for a ‘fulfilling life.’  Moreover, population control advocates have long understood that it is not ‘cultural conditioning’ that leads women to want to have children, but rather the way women really are.  In other words, until and unless the elites smother what women really want, they will generally want to have children.

This ‘smothering’ has been more or less the actual policy for the last 40-50 years.  What happened is that they couldn’t get any traction on the compulsory angle, and the only thing they were left with was trying to change the culture and attitudes (largely among women themselves) about having careers, giving up having children, or too many children, that sort of thing.  We see this most pronounced in the direction that John D. Rockefeller took in his own population control efforts.  An active proponent for population control, he helped spearhead a commission, which gave its report to Nixon in 1972.   Very few of the proposals could be implemented politically (so sad!) so by the late 1970s he has shifted his efforts exclusively towards promoting “women’s rights” (by which he meant, like many advocates of “women’s rights”, “Women can’t think for themselves, so we’re going to goad them into a socially benefit direction”) and homosexuality.  (This is documented in the book, Intended Consequences, by Donald Critchlow)

In other words, everything that Pyszczyk says we ought to be doing is already happening.  It’s already part of the program.  It’s already institutionalized.  Read this little excerpt, which pointedly reveals that all Pyszczyk is advocating for is well under way:

Before the 19th century, fertility levels in North America were as high, or higher, than present levels in many of the world’s less developed countries. As Canada developed and living conditions improved, birthrates declined steadily from their early levels of around 50 births per 1,000 population. By the 1920s, the birth rate had dropped below 30, and by 1937 had reached a low of 20 births per 1,000 population. The Second World War revived the economy and reversed the declining trend in birth rates; they reached record highs during the baby boom — 28.9 in 1947 and 28.5 in 1954 — before resuming the long-term decline beginning in the early 1960s. This decline occurred in a context of significant social change, especially with respect to the role and status of women in society. Beginning in the 1960s, there were significant advances in women’s education levels and their participation in the paid labour force, as well as increased availability of efficient birth control methods (see also Women in the Labour Force). All of these factors contributed to a decline in fertility rates.

Since the mid-1970s, the number of births has been below 400,000 per year, and the total fertility rate has ranged between 1.5 and 1.7 children per woman. These figures are well below the 2.1 level of fertility needed to ensure the long-term replacement of generations for a low mortality population such as Canada. The continuing pattern of low fertility for nearly half a century gives little reason to expect a return to replacement levels. In 2014, the total fertility rate was 1.58 children per woman, significantly lower than the 3.85 rate recorded at the peak of the baby boom in 1959.

Emphasis added.

Thus, if you find her essay offensive, you shouldn’t be offended by what she’s proposing.  You should be offended by what is happening.  And then take action.

(There are countless resources detailing all this, many of which are highlighting the problems resulting in DECREASES in population.  In other words, the birth rate is already so low in so many places, that there are major societal problems arising from it.   To think that there is a continuing problem with a GROWING population, when the population is actually set to decline [certainly in certain countries, eg, Japan, but globally, too] shows you just aren’t paying attention: you are a dupe.)

In particular, you should start thinking very carefully about what you believe and why you believe it.  Chances are good you were fed 1970s-era rubbish which you accept today as fact, and have no idea the rubbish was formulated by pro-population control eugenics-minded people who didn’t give a rat’s ass about individual liberties and the like, but had to find a ‘work around’ to the reality that they couldn’t just shoot people the way the Nazis did.

Now, I want to say a word or two about the most dangerous part of the whole thing.  It would be easy enough to chalk this up to typical liberal progressive excrement, but the underlying attitude that Pyszczyk exhibits is not at all limited to the liberals.  The attitude in question: statism.  Yes, liberal progressives are almost all statists to a man, but you can find statists across the spectrum.

For example, to stay on this topic, the population control movement was thoroughly welcomed in the Republican party for decades.  It was Richard Nixon that passed a Federal population control bill establishing an office of population affairs–which still exists.  (You’re not supposed to notice that the whole purpose of the agency is to curtail the population of the United States while its sole activity is to promote ‘family planning.’).  Henry Kissinger, previously mentioned, has played both sides of the aisle, and was charged by Nixon to apply population control measures first internationally (with an eye towards eventual domestic implementation).  It was the Republican Gerald Ford that signed the implementation order on Kissinger’s plan.  George H Bush is on record fully supporting population control (forgotten by the time he ran for president).

These guys are all statists.  Also statists:  Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham.  And of course, Obama, John Holdren, Cass Sunstein, Jonathan Gruber, etc.

Pyszczyk is a statist.

Among the many giveaways in her article is her throwaway comment regarding immigration:

And if the birth rate in Canada declines, so what? As old You-Know-Who cuts off aid to not-for-profits that educate on abortion, restricts immigration and stops sending money to countries that need it, we will have a steady supply of smart and talented immigrants. Their loss, our gain.

This is essentially the exact same position of ‘moderate’ Republicans who are in favor of open immigration: we need workers to take the place of all the people who are not being born because of our population control efforts.  (Notice again how Pyszczyk is contemplating a FUTURE decline, amazingly seemingly unaware that the decline is well in progress.) Immigration is not linked to the welfare or dignity of the immigrants, but is instead a necessary counter-balance to a falling population.  And abortion, rather than a function of a woman’s liberty, is construed as a public policy issue.

What is a statist, exactly?

Think of a farmer who has a herd of cows.  The farmer runs the estate, of course, but he also decides which cows will breed.  He decides how each cow will be utilized.  He balances the resources of his property to maximize the ‘sustainability’ of the enterprise.  At times, he will cull the herd.

A statist is like the farmer, except instead of a farm it is a nation or the globe, and instead of managing cows, they manage people.  They literally view the human population as something to be managed, and they, of course, are the designated Managers.  They are usually exempted from their own management policies–eg, they will fight tooth and nail for compulsory public education, but they send their own kids to expensive private schools with far more flexible arrangements.  Or, like Al Gore, they’ll lecture on cutting back on a carbon imprint while having one that is 100 times larger than anyone else.

There are many starting points for becoming a statist, hence how both Romney and Obama can be statists, but in entirely different political parties.  (Remember, Obamacare was modeled off of Romneycare).  I’m not going to go into all the different rationales behind statism, as that would be quite the essay, and this one is already 3,000 words long.  But core idea is that it is good, proper, and appropriate for one group of people to manage another (usually larger) group of people (usually, the rest of us).  Culling is very much on the table–what do you think abortion is?  And euthanasia, to ‘free beds’?

True, the best of them try to balance their inclinations to manage society against the rights and dignities of individuals, but in principle, they are ready to give them up when the chips are down.  I mean, after all, if you thought the whole globe was going to DIE unless X happened NOW, what wouldn’t YOU contemplate?  That’s how they actually think, and that’s why they are a continual threat to all that is good and decent.  They are, in a word, proto-fascists.  And bigots and racists and sexists usually, too (black people can’t take care of themselves, so the government needs to step in… by paying for their abortions; women, when left to their own devices, would have a baby!  Aaaaaaaaaaaah!  Must! Inter! Vene!).

Kristen Pyszczyk wants us to adopt a society-wide shaming campaign. Fine, lets start with shaming the proto-fascists like her.

[A fascist, historically, is someone who advocates for private ownership, but government control.  This is only a small step away from communism:  government ownership and control.  Capitalism: private ownership, private control.]

They can’t be trusted.

If only they were God, they would be smart enough and able enough to manage the affairs of 7 billion people.  Despite their persistent belief that they are God, they aren’t.  They ruin everything they touch.

The best thing would be to radically scale back their ability to touch anything.  That’s probably not going to happen, though.  The best opponent to statism, at least right now, is the Republican party in the United States.  The fact that the GOP threw up a field of presidential candidates in 2016 in which 3/4 were statists tells you what you need to know about the long term prospects of the GOP being a faithful opponent to statism.  Its only a matter of time before proto-fascism turns into real fascism.  Plan accordingly.


Dec 20

Its the Idea of America I Love

He is an American, who leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones with the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds … Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men.  — Jean de Crevecoeur in Letters from an American Frontier, 1782.

This is a bit of a prelude to some essays percolating in my mind, in which I will discuss some grave errors that have been made by various countries in the past, including the United States of America.  I want to have some thoughts on “America” on record before I write those posts.

First, I want to take issue even with the idea that the United States is like any other country in the world, past or present.  If I discuss America’s ‘sins’ is that even a meaningful concept?  To what degree is it meaningful even to discuss the sins of ‘Germany,’ such as what transpired under the Nazis?  What is ‘Germany’?  In what sense do Germans today have to answer for what Germans did almost 100 years ago (the Beer Hall putsch was in 1923)?  Not every German went along with it; some, like Bonhoeffer, actively opposed it, and paid for it with their lives.

In an important way, the idea of a ‘country’ is conceptual short cut, which is real enough, but also obscures other realities.  For the purposes of this conversation, one of those ‘realities’ it obscures is the fact that if you’re going to try to make people TODAY accountable for the behavior of people 100+ years ago, you’re going to need something more expansive than merely the fact that they happened to live in a region geographically described as being within the ‘German’ or ‘American’ territory.

The point is driven home when you look at certain regions which have been in the hands of different ‘nations’ repeatedly over the centuries.  The country of Czechoslovakia has had its borders changed dramatically over the centuries.  One decade, the Czechs are Hungarians, the next, they are Poles, and the next, Germans.  To which ‘nation’ do present day Czechs need to answer for? Similarly, should the people who live in the region of the Alsace today answer for the actions done by Germany or the actions done by France? There is a wry bit of ‘humor’ in The Gulag Archipelago where Solzhenitsyn describes ‘Russians’ who were sent to the gulags for treasonous travel without the proper papers–travel that had occurred decades earlier, before the region in question had fallen under control of the Soviets.  They had betrayed Russia decades before they were subject to her laws!  But that did not stop the Soviets from imprisoning them or even executing them.

These kinds of realities seem essential to recognize if one is going to start talking about ‘generational justice’ and reparations, and so on.  It is all well and good to make someone pay for their crimes, and maybe even proper to have the child pay for the sins of the parents, but should someone be made to pay for the sins of people who were not their ancestors at all?  If 100 years from now, the Canadians sweep down from the north to conquer the state of Wisconsin, should residents of Wisconsin be made to pay for the Canadian crimes against their aboriginals?  If so, on what basis?  On what logic?

If I had to wager money, it would be based on no logic whatsoever.  It would be a pure emotional argument, with the truth more likely being that the ‘justice’ argument was a paper thin cover for pure greed and covetousness.  But I’ll be speaking on this more in the upcoming essays.

Back to the topic at hand:  just what is America?

America is not like any other country, past or present.  It was not organized based on tribe or religion or political party.  Most of the people who flocked to the geographic area now called ‘America’ were in fact fleeing countries that were organized based on tribe, religion, or ideology.   These knew intimately and directly what atrocities followed from the principles espoused by other statists, especially but not exclusively in Europe.  They wanted nothing except to be left alone, and they designed an organizing document that would enshrine these principles of liberty.

Granted, many of these principles were corrupted before the pen even went to the paper.  Granted, many of the Europeans modes of thought that they had wanted to escape nonetheless followed us here.  Granted, even these people who felt these principles of liberty most keenly failed to implement them.  Granted, granted, granted… and yet….

America is not a ‘country.’  It is an idea.  And you can have that idea wherever you live in the world, regardless of the circumstances of your birth.  These ideas lived in the bosoms of Mankind before there was the land we call ‘America’ but until there actually was a land, people were enslaved to the whims of strongmen, ‘nobles,’ and ‘systems.’  Contrary to much of the gibberish spouting out of the ivory towers today, ‘America’ flourished not because the region happened to have a lot of natural resources or because it plundered resources, but because the people it attracted were the bravest and most noble people from any region.

They sold all that they had, took every risk, and suffered immeasurably, to escape the tribalism and dictatorships of the other countries all around the world.  When they tossed King George on his ass in the late 1770s, they had no desire whatsoever to appoint a new king.  When they fled Prussia in the 1850s, it sure as hell wasn’t to create a new Prussia.  We could go on and on with such examples, whether they be Chinese settlers or Irish immigrants, one of the defining characteristics of these people was that they were adamantly opposed to implementing the philosophies of the lands they left.  However different they were in other respects, they had this in common, but it was only in the land we now call ‘America’ was it possible to avoid doing otherwise.

To put it another way, you could almost carve out any other territory in the world and hand it over to these kinds of Americans, and they would there build a city on a hill that shines as brightly as it now shines today.  That’s because there is a connection between the philosophies enshrined in the US Constitution and the great wealth and prosperity the US has enjoyed.  There is a connection between the constitutions of the people who flocked to the shelter of the US Constitution and the great wealth and prosperity the US has enjoyed.

There is a reason why the rest of the world limps behind ‘America’ in so many respects, and that reason is that the people who love America as an idea love a better idea.  What is that idea?

In a nutshell:  every person has intrinsic dignity and worth and has the right to strive mightily for their own self-interests, worshiping as they see fit, living as they see fit, and governing themselves.  But, people will abuse both powers and freedoms, thus robust checks and balances are necessary.  A republican scheme of governance allows for the most pertinent issues to a community to be resolved by the community itself, with only select powers given to the higher levels of governance.  Both the mob and the tyrant are to be feared.

The rest of the world is still bound up by its old world concepts, with its ethnic divisions and squabbles over petty issues, which is all well and good if that’s what they like, but the spasms of violence and grotesque atrocities that are constantly percolating make it clear that the idea of ‘America’ must be carefully preserved and protected–for it can be lost.

Indeed, it could be argued that it is being lost.  As second and third and fourth generations are born in land area called ‘America,’ it has been easy to forget just how God-awful things were for their parents, grand-parents, great-grandparents, and so on.  It has become easier to contemplate, nay, even embrace, defective and destructive policies that have laid previous populations into ruin.  Aye, are even now laying people low:  look to Venezuela or North Korea.  These things could happen in this land area, given time and circumstances.  Ideology matters.

‘Americans’ have sinned horrifically over the centuries, but the idea of America is nearly without blemish.  I renounce and hate those sins, but the idea of America is the closest thing to heaven that we’ll actually have on this earth.  If it is lost, there is no haven besides heaven left.  The further away we get from that ‘nutshell’ understanding of the American ‘idea,’ the greater the danger of having that last haven disappear, with all of the attendant tragedies likely to be inflicted in short order.

Thankfully, the idea of America is not bound up by borders or genes, so even if the region now called ‘America’ were to succumb to old world toxins, America could spring up again–in China, perhaps, or the Congo.  And the world’s best and most bravest will go there, instead, and raise the light of freedom high once again.  But you can be sure that many people will have died in the intervening hours.  It would be far better if we remember not only why America as an idea is great, but just what it was that our immigrant ancestors repudiated with their feet, and guard ourselves appropriately.




Dec 11

A Tale of Two Shootings

There are 2 released videos out showing people killed by police officers.  I suspect that they’re not going to make too much of a ripple, so I’d like to offer some thoughts of my own. Please don’t leave a comment addressing anything I say unless you watch the videos.

Here is the Daniel Shaver (hotel hallway) video (start around 12 min mark):

Here are couple of perspectives of the Pierre shooting.

This one is helpful, because it provides a bit of audio.

The first video outraged me, and I was further outraged to hear the police officer was acquitted. It almost makes you think that maybe we should take guns out of the hands of even law enforcement. But then you see the second video(s), and you see that multiple non-lethal methods are attempted, and even tazing the guy doesn’t stop him. A guy like this is capable of anything and all the evidence is that he would not have stopped unless he was shot–unless, of course, the police officers were to put themselves even further into harm’s way.

In reality, there are more examples of the latter than there are of the former, so armed law enforcement agencies are on balance necessary. But it is still a reality that there are plenty of shootings by police officers that are not justified or where other methods could have obtained better results.

I am not drawing all my lessons from these 2 videos alone, but I think both offer some good jumping off points for discussing some of those lessons, so here is a bit of analysis.

Evidently, the Shaver incident began because someone saw someone ‘waving a gun’ and called the police. It was actually a pellet gun. The officer who shot Shaver bears the bulk of the blame, but I wonder if the person who made the call feels any responsibility. I think I can almost picture this person in my mind’s eye… the kind of person… the mere sight of a gun throws them into a cold sweat… IT MUST BE REPORTED! Despite the fact that Arizona allows people to carry weapons–both concealed and openly, on one’s hip–without even a permit, the sight of the gun INSIDE a hotel room prompted this person to call. Well, better safe than sorry, right? RIGHT?


But if we can’t expect some ninny off the street to properly assess a threat, you should at least expect your local police officer to be aware of the laws of Arizona and what that might mean when you encounter someone. When you look at these two people come out of their hotel door, you can plainly see, if you have any capacity for situational awareness and reading people, that these people are nowhere near ‘up to something.’ And even if he did have a gun, damn it, he was lawfully entitled to have it.

Listening to the background audio on the first video, I gather that one of the police officers was relatively new. This may have impacted the behavior of the other officers, who perhaps were over-compensating for having the liability of a new guy with them.

Shaver bears some responsibility here, and it is a lesson for all of us gun owners. 1., assume your fellow citizens are idiots. If at all possible, prevent them from knowing you are carrying at all. They can’t be trusted to take the measure of a situation. Shaver apparently flashed his pellet gun inside his hotel room being none-the-wiser, and died for it. This is, in my opinion, a good reason for concealed carry rather than open carry. 2., assume the LEO is as dumb as you assume your fellow citizens are. Of course, if you are intoxicated, as Shaver may have been to a degree, you might not be thinking all that clearly. But the irony with Shaver is that he didn’t have a gun with him AT ALL and he still was killed. So, the bottom line is that you should have your wits about you ALL. THE. TIME. Take responsibility for your actions.

As for the LEO himself, I think it speaks to a toxic strain that runs through America’s law enforcement mentality. Yes, the job is dangerous. Yes, you might get killed in the line of duty. Yes, your discretion and patience may actually get you killed. Yes, you may have to make decisions super quickly based on limited knowledge of the situation. Sorry, but the Shaver scenario shows what can happen if you allow this toxic strain to manifest without restraint.

This is still a Constitutional republic, and within this constitution, there is a second amendment to bear arms. There are other amendments, too, protecting citizens. You, as a law enforcement officer, are duty-bound to treat your fellow citizens as FELLOW CITIZENS with rights and privileges that come under the Constitution. You receive certain accommodations on the use of force, but you do not have a license to disregard the Constitution just because you are afraid for your own life. If you cannot maintain a high view of the Constitutional rights of the people you encounter, then GET ANOTHER JOB.

I thought this National Review article put it well:

That’s especially true when the police — through their own incompetence — create their own fear. Philando Castile was shot even as he followed his killer’s instructions. Shaver died trying his best to comply with a highly unusual, complicated set of commands while under extreme duress. Scared cops still need to be competent cops, and members of the public shouldn’t face death because a police officer can’t keep his emotions in check.

Finally, I know that police have a dangerous job, but they’re not at war. As I noted above, it’s infuriating to see civilian police exercise less discipline than I’ve seen from soldiers in infinitely more dangerous situations. Not one of the men I deployed with would have handled a terrorist detention the way these officers treated American citizens.

Emphasis added.

And who holds law enforcement accountable? The local municipalities. In other words, elected officials have the responsibility to make sure their officers have the right attitude. If law enforcement is allowed to set its own rules and expectations, that’s like the fox guarding the hen house. It is easy to defer to the ‘experts’ in law enforcement, but it is not wise. Hold their feet to the fire. This toxic strain I referred to can only be reversed when local communities and states make it emphatically clear that the rights of citizens shall be preserved, even in the execution of law enforcement activities. This is the United States of America, not some two-bit third world country. And, as David French put it, we are not at war.

In the second video, we see too much restraint! I honestly don’t know what that police officer was thinking. His posture and demeanor from beginning to end was bizarre, although maybe if I had more information it would make sense (eg, as he enters the room he seems to be unprepared for the possibility a hostile is inside it). It should have been evident almost immediately that this guy would not be stopped by anything short of lethal force (or non-lethal force that put the lives of LEOs at risk).

One gets the impression that this officer was highly reluctant to use lethal force. Perhaps here the elected officials over-did it? Maybe he was more frightened of what the American media would do to him if he shot Pierre (a black man) than what Pierre might do to him–even if Pierre killed him!

This officer is frankly lucky to be alive. His own weapon could have been taken from him, or perhaps Pierre was armed with a firearm all along and could have transitioned to it. Less than decisive action by LEOs have led to their deaths at the hands of bad men.

The second video helps us see why we do need to give law enforcement some latitude in their use of force. We see how fast situations can escalate, and how quickly one has to make decisions. It reminds us that there are some bad hombres in the world, and if one of them happened to be in your house, you want the responding police officers to have the capacity to use the necessary force. Although, the same lesson is again an argument for why citizens should be allowed to arm themselves.

If a bad hombre like Pierre is in your house, there probably won’t be enough time for the police to respond BEFORE YOU ARE DEAD. In that second video, there appears to be a full 90 seconds before backup arrives–and this is with his partner ALREADY ON THE SCENE. There is plenty of time for Pierre to put this officer down for good. 90 seconds may not seem like a long time to wait for help, but hopefully this video helps the reader think more clearly about the realities of such encounters. Per the saying among advocates for guns: when seconds count, the police are minutes away.

How far do you live from your police department?

This is the real world, not some fantasy make-believe world where given enough time and good intentions we’ll iron out all of our problems. There will be bad men, bad accidents, and bad misunderstandings. Very little of it can be addressed at a level above the individual, with some of it falling appropriately under the scope of the local community. But lurking behind all this is an even more disconcerting truth… what happens if the bad men control the nation?

Better to work through these issues before you are in them, in my humble opinion.


Dec 01

It’s time to grow up and believe in Santa Claus–and Christ.

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house…” begins some of the most enchanting verse in American literature.  The enchantment is real, and powerful.  Clement Moore’s poem may not have started the commercialization of Christmas, but it certainly added fuel to the fire—enough, perhaps, to turn it into a raging inferno.

Yet, even for Moore’s poem to ‘catch fire’ the way it did, some kind of explanation seems warranted.  In fact, to say that Moore tapped into a powerful human current is, after all, to admit to the existence of a river for the current to flow through.  Or is it an ocean?

For the Santa Claus ‘Myth’ is one that has been percolating over the centuries throughout various cultures.  Each region had its own take on who and what Santa Claus was, and yet there were common threads that ran through them all.  Prior to America’s application of business acumen, none of them had a Santa Claus that was particularly magical, per se.  In point of fact, the Santa Claus of the centuries seemed rather mundane, rather human, compared to the Macy’s version.

The point is worth considering.

Before doing so, we must say a word about ‘Myth.’ In modern parlance, the purpose of calling something a ‘myth’ is to make it clear that the thing in question is not true.  You’ve surely heard it said, “That’s only a myth…”  This is unfortunate, because the word’s older usage is more helpful in explaining the phenomena discussed in this essay.

The television show MythBusters comes nearer to getting it right.  In this show, various popular beliefs in society are actually put to the test.  Yes, some of the beliefs do not survive their testing.  However, some of the beliefs are shown to be plausible or even confirmed.  In other words, on this view, a myth is not necessarily true or false, rather, it is a story that is believed to be true by some people.

Here is a definition that provides some utility, rather than merely blanketing an account with disparagement before one has even begun to examine it.  It begs some provocative questions, like, “Why did the people come to believe it is true?”  Perhaps they had good reasons?  Or, “What is it about stories that they move humans so powerfully?”  Maybe the power of Story testifies to something in the human make up that cannot be explained merely by thinking of them as “fortuitous concurrence of atoms.”  Or maybe, “Does the power of Story signify the existence of a Storyteller?”

These are all ripe lines of inquiry for the truly inquisitive—but the modern concept shuts down inquiry at the beginning, suggesting subliminally that the matter has already been settled by someone else as false.  It rarely occurs to anyone that this someone might have himself been wrong in his conclusions, or worse, this someone merely dismissed the account with smug hand-waving.

One sees this sort of smugness wherever ‘myths’ are discussed, and the Story of Santa Claus provides the base for much of the hand-waving, along with that unfortunate fellow, the Easter Bunny.  After all, isn’t it always said that people grow out of their beliefs about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny?  Believing such things as a child is alright, but once you are an adult, you know better!  You believed in X as a child, but now that you are an adult, set aside your belief about X, just as you now know the truth about Santa Claus!

But the Truth about Santa Claus is apparently much more foundational and enduring, as is evident by a thousand sappy movies and a few famous books which, every Christmas, people enthusiastically drink up—adults as well as children.  Whatever the Truth is about Santa Claus, it is such that at the very least, much of humanity desperately hopes that it is true; or perhaps it is better to say, that much of humanity already knows ‘it’ is true, and humanity finds in the Myth of Santa Claus a way to access ‘it.’

But what is ‘it’?

As it happens, I am a Christian.  I have a particular passion: explaining and showing to people that Christianity is actually true.  There are a great many Christians who are quite prepared to jump in with the materialists and rip on the Santa Claus Myth, with the difference being that Christians believe the commercialization of Christmas represents a society-wide forgetting of the ‘Reason for the Season.’  I do not agree with either of those perspectives, as usually argued.

First, let me speak to the Christians.

In the first place, I take issue with the notion of ‘society-wide’ being a proper focal point for Christian advocacy.  If you and your family do not forget the ‘Reason for the Season’ and your Christian friends do not forget, and your church does not forget, I fail to see the problem.  We could get ‘society’ to adopt every behavior that Christians approve of, but that would not make ‘society’ Christian, per se.  It might, rather, make ‘society’ a ‘white-washed tomb,’ instead.

If you have a concern about the commercialization of Christmas, it is only to yourself and your fellow Christians that you have any responsibilities.  After all, if they aren’t Christian, the mere knowing what the ‘Reason for the Season’ isn’t going to change anything.  If they don’t know the ‘Reason for the Season’ that is the least of their problems, and de-commercializing Christmas is not likely to help. And, well, it’s not likely to happen, either.

In the second place, there surely must be something to be said about the fact that the world’s greatest party is thrown, every year, with the celebration of the birth of Christ as the cornerstone, by Christians and non-Christians alike.  No such parties are held in honor of Hanukah of the Fourth of July or Ramadan.

Oh, sure, Jews around the world celebrate Hanukah.  But do non-Jews?

Yes, the Fourth of July is a popular American holiday.  But is it celebrated in China?

Ramadan is observed by millions of Muslims.  Do non-Muslim children eagerly look forward to the arrival of Ramadan each year?

But wherever Christmas goes, it is lapped up gleefully.  There are places today where Christmas isn’t celebrated, but that is only because Christmas hasn’t yet reached it.

The Christmas phenomena strongly suggests that there is something about it that resonates with people.  This ‘something’ represents an opportunity for Christians.  Identify the ‘something’ and harness it as a means for preaching the Gospel, for it is the one occasion when non-Christians draw themselves closer to Christ.  And they do this every year!  Without coercion, legislative, social, or otherwise.  Amazing.

To the materialist I would take this point and submit it as evidence that, despite their protestations, humanity is not just a “fortuitous concurrence of atoms.”  The materialist outlook does not satisfy, and its failure to satisfy is itself evidence of its deficiency in explaining the world.

I need not limit myself to Christmas to make that point.  Whether it is the existence of religious fervor among the great majority of humans, or even the widespread superstitions and enjoyment of ‘ghost stories,’ the fact is that most people know that the materialist viewpoint does not obtain, even if they can’t express why in a syllogism.

Yet it is at Christmas, in the West, at least, where the materialists themselves abandon their philosophy and join in the party.  The great tendency of humanity to party is itself a testimony to the defect of materialism.  Have you ever seen a pack of coyotes celebrate a birth day?  Do apes bake wedding cakes?

But it can be said that nonetheless, it must all be an illusion, or perhaps a neurological ‘misfire,’ since (the materialist says) the Santa Myth shows how people can believe something that is not true at all.

Ah, but there is the rub.

It is not true that it is not true at all.

Indeed, there is not much that people believe that is not true at all.  There may be accretions, and it may not always be possible to know which is the fundamental reality and what is the accretion, but more often than not, the existence of a fundamental reality can be discerned.  This is not a blow to Christianity, which contains within it the ability to interpret these fundamental realities in a way consistent with the Christian worldview.  It is a blow to materialism, which, by definition, must reject anything non-material.

In the case of the Santa Myth, it so happens that it is possible to peel back many of the accretions and get a glimpse of the fundamental reality.  One of those accretions you hold in your hands—Moore’s A Visit from Saint Nicholas.  The fundamental reality is that there really was a Saint Nicholas.

He was a Christian bishop who lived around 300 AD.  He suffered grievously at the hands of the Roman emperor Diocletian.  After suffering so much, he was not sympathetic to those, like Arius, who insisted that Nicholas had suffered only for a man, not God incarnate.  There is a legend that St. Nicholas punched Arius in the face at the Council of Nicaea (325 AD).  How is that for ‘jolly Saint Nick’?

Surely the reader sees how ‘Saint Nicholas’ and ‘Sinterklaas’ and ‘Santa Klaus’ are a reference to the same person?

Yes, accretions do exist.  But nonetheless, the evidence is that there was a man, Nicholas of Myra, who did exist.  While we may not know very well the true reasons for why he became so popular throughout the Roman empire, the popularity itself is evidence that he did something that was perceived as out of the ordinary.  The accretions, also, are evidence of the same.

In other words, the ‘Santa Myth,’ rather than providing justification for waving away old tales as proof that they are ‘not true at all,’ is justification for taking old tales seriously, as there may actually be some truth in them after all.  Not truth in the hard to gauge sense of ‘humans like to party’ but truth in the sense of ‘there are certain definite things we can determine from the historical record.’

To actually ‘grow up’ out of the ‘Santa Myth,’ one does not dispense with his belief that Santa is real, but rather puts the belief on a still stronger foundation that begins with acknowledging that Santa is real.  (Or ‘was real,’ depending on your perspective.)

Those who say that the ‘Santa Myth’ is a good example of what we ought to do in regards to Jesus of Nazareth have badly misunderstood their own position.  In reality, doing with Jesus what we do with Santa threatens to expose the fact that just as we can establish that Nicholas was a real person in history, despite certain ambiguities, we can also establish that Jesus was a real person in history—despite certain ambiguities.

But Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, upon closer, unbiased inspection, does not appear to be one of those ambiguities.

So, I say embrace Santa!  He is no friend to the materialist, and threatens to be a powerful ally for the Christian.  The commercialization of Christmas is indeed a challenge, which Christians themselves should rise to meet in their own lives, but on the other hand, this commercialization is itself evidence that “the harvest is plentiful.”



Nov 30

The Coming Sexual Gulag Archipelago? On the Truth about Sex

Maybe its because I’m currently reading Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn‘s The Gulag Archipelago, but this growing spate of accusations on sexual misconduct is making me queasy.  If you know anything about the various purges of the Soviet regime, you know that people were shuffled off to oblivion over nothing more than accusations, if not executed outright.  On top of that, people were making false confessions left and right.  They perceived that they had little chance of being found innocent anyway, so they sought to limit their punishment, or the punishment of those they loved.

Reading Solzhenitsyn‘s book, I was faced again with the uncomfortable question of how it is that seemingly normal, educated people, could commit such vile acts, and acquiesce to them.  Has anyone ever pondered how it is that an otherwise sensible people manage to fall into such a nightmarish century, where in the end, tens and tens of millions died?  If you wondered how it was possible, take a good look at what is going on with all the accusations of sexual misconduct.

Evidently, we have a society which is happy to inflict consequences on people based on nothing more than ‘trial by media’ and a perceived ‘public opinion.’  It is hard to see how this will end well.  Anyway, I reflected on the downsides of ‘trial by media’ almost a month ago, which I’ll just re-submit here:  Accusations of Sexual Misconduct IN THE MEDIA are Themselves Inappropriate.

I’ve taken several stabs at what I wanted to communicate in this post, but I’m tired of even thinking about the ‘media by trial’ angle, even as the number of these grows exponentially.  I’ve decided instead to talk about what this phenomena tells us about sexuality.

Here we have a big problem.  How best to put it?  How about we start with Mike Pence?  Surely the reader remembers the derision heaped upon Pence for his application of the ‘Billy Graham’ rule.  It seems poetic that the people who pounced on Pence for the rule are now finding their own lions in public life falling fast and and often for not taking such ‘rules’ seriously.  Have they changed their minds?  Surely there must be one or two out there, but in the main, it seems these people are still sneering at Pence–that is, sneering at conservative Christian values.  How can we possible have a conversation with such people?

And its worse than that!  These very same people are apparently thoroughly befuddled by human genitalia.  If you say to them, “That man is bald!” and they look and see the man has hair on his head, they will turn to you and counter, correctly, “Ah, no.  The man has hair on his head.  By definition of the word ‘bald,’ if a man has hair on his head, he cannot be bald.”  But ask them if a girl can have a penis, and a look comes on their face–the face of someone thinking very hard–as if they are in desperate need of a laxative.

These people are positively flummoxed on basic biology; if you point out easily verifiable fact that penises and vaginas clearly were made for each other, you’re trounced as a bigot.  The extent of the mental deformity that must be present in these minds is illustrated by the simple fact that nearly every person actually walks around with a penis or a vagina and is able to directly inspect his or her own genitals at his or her own leisure, and furthermore, a great many of these people have actually participated in an activity where a penis and vagina have interacted, and–surprise, surprise–about 40 weeks later, they say hello, face to face, with a new person.

I am not saying all this as an insult.  This is simply observation.  If you cannot understand that if you have a penis, you are a boy (by definition), and if you have a vagina, you are a girl (by definition), you really can’t be expected to understand anything.  If you miff this, why should we take you seriously when you wax eloquently on politics?  If you find the presence of a penis hanging on your body mystifying (“What is this dangling appendage?  Its presence is so ambiguous, I am as justified in inferring from it that I am an automobile, as anything else!”), why do you think you can weigh arguments for and against Christianity–or ANYTHING?  How can I possibly use LOGIC and LANGUAGE to talk about SEXUALITY when vast portions of the population are stupefied by all three?

A friend of mine says, “Seems like men in positions of power have a tendency to be dicks to women, regardless of their politics. I would think that this would be trumpeted as yet another proof of our fallen & sinful nature, except that would put you in a tricky position re: your defence of Roy Moore.”

There is a measure of insight in this statement, as it indicates at least some accurate knowledge of Christian doctrine.  These incidents are indeed indicative “of our fallen & sinful nature.”  But I can’t help but think his sudden appeal to non-partisanship by hiding behind my own views on Sin (which are absolutely non-partisan!), after his scathing denunciations of Roy Moore (at the time), is really just a ploy to distract from the fact that, at present, we’re running about 50 – 5 in terms of liberal/atheist/progressives vs Christian conservatives caught in misbehavior.  When the Moore thing first ballooned it was only like 20 – 5, and its been an unhappy string for liberals since.  If I had said in response to Moore, “Ah, well, this just proves that we are fallen and sinful!” he would have denounced it as a cop-out.  But now that the ratio is roughly 10 to 1, he wants me to embrace the doctrine.  A bit convenient, no?  (And has he changed his tune on the wisdom of the Pence Rule?)

Indeed, these things are proof of our ‘fallen and sinful nature’ but that is not even the half of it (at present).  To say that we are fallen and sinful is to say something about human nature itself, which is obviously very controversial.  But to be wrong on sexuality, where misconceptions can be remedied merely by taking off one’s own pants, suggests that the situation has metastasized well beyond a point where we can explain it merely as it being more evidence of our sinful nature–although it certainly is that.

I saw the same kind of right track but incomplete answer in a recent article titled, “Conservatives Were Right About Sex.”  It makes some good points, like this one:

Again, it’s worth noting that it wasn’t “society” writ large that boarded the sex train—it was the culturally influential liberal elites who control the universities, the media, and the entertainment industrial complex. Further, there’s a giant subculture who never boarded the train. They’re called religious believers.

But to call something ‘religious’ is to call it ‘mere opinion.’  My purpose in this post (and many other posts on this site) is talk about reality.  To your average American reader, there is no relation to reality in religion.   The author of the piece does not explain WHY it was religious believers had the views they did.  Your average American reader will think, “Oh, its because they read it in the Bible.”  The average American reader is fundamentally incapable of understanding that instead, the religious believers dropped their pants, inspected what they saw there, and called it as they saw it.  No great Revelation needed.

The author ends with:

It’s way past due for liberals to meet conservatives halfway on some some important social issues. A good first step is acknowledging that conservatives were right about sex all along: That there is a connection between sex and virtue, and that our politics and our culture should do everything possible to strengthen this connection.

Another good point, and one with merit.  But it isn’t just that there is a connection between ‘sex and virtue’ that conservatives were right about. They were right about what sex is, and what humans are.  And as for a ‘meeting halfway’, I wouldn’t count on it.  I was amazed to see the Politico–the Politico!–publish research that exposes the liberal talking point that red states are more dysfunctional than blue states as the sham that it is, No, Republicans Aren’t Hypocrites on Family Values.  Although the conclusions can be verified and tested by anyone who wants to look, you can tell by the comments (telling us who likes to read the Politico!) that there will be no meeting halfway, anytime soon.

No.  Any distinctly religious argument is going to fail.  I think any and all arguments will fail.  We’re talking about a population which has completely jettisoned one of the basic laws of logic.  “If any X has a Y, then it is a Z; X has a Y, therefore it is a Z” has been completely submerged by the pulses of hormones.  No, no argument is going to work.  What will?  Imagine someone disputing with you that running into a wall head first and at full steam is going to hurt.  You work it all out with pen, paper, and calculator, but they still insist running into a wall will be painless.  There is nothing else for it except to let the dude run into the wall to see what happens.

This is where we are at on sexuality.   Until and unless society runs as fast as it can, head down, into the brick reality wall of ‘sex’, and feels the pain, there will be no conversation possible.

The collapse of the nuclear family and the (purely coincidental!) rise of poverty within the black community did not convince liberals that there was a relationship between the two.  The widespread damage wrought by the intentional dismantling of the institution of marriage via ‘no fault divorce’ hasn’t phased them.  Men and women in ALL WALKS of life (not just in places of power) were told, over and over and over and over and over and over again that we’re just animals (“Let’s do it like they do it on Discovery Channel“) and now we find that we are dismayed when people act like animals?

Ah, but that’s not how animals act, is it?  No, let’s not make it about religion.  For the moment, lets just look at the animal kingdom, which, presumably, most liberals believe is fully the result of unguided naturalistic processes (Darwinian evolution).  Nothing else has convinced you, so lets compare the conduct of the animal kingdom with the conduct of humans.

Throughout human history, past and present, humans–mostly men–have been raping people, women, yes, but also girls, and, yes, young boys.  Even babies.  Remember, humans are the result of the same evolutionary processes that gave us dogs, chickens, and flowers.  We’ve all seen a dog hump a tree, I reckon, and watched dandelion seeds fly through the air.  But in these and every case I can think of (I’m leaving room for someone with more biological knowledge to provide examples of exceptions) you do not see these organisms behave as malevolently as humans.

We may suppose that a dog does what he does because it gives him some pleasure, but dogs seem to keep it pretty well in proportion.  They don’t mix their humping with food fetishes.  They don’t find a special attraction to dogs that are on a leash.  And they certainly do not engage in analagous behavior to pedophilia.

The birds of the air do not fly into a tree and capture young birds just after they have learned to fly, and then sell these young birds into sex slavery.

To my knowledge, horses do not sneak to the barn to see if any of the other horses are getting undressed.

Based on my limited knowledge as an ignorant Christian conservative (thus, I may be corrected), rose bushes do not film themselves copulating with each other, with special attention to the ‘barely 18’ roses.

The honeybee queen allows herself to be ‘impregnated’ by the drone, but then both get on with their lives.  The drone does not slap the queen bee’s rear as she comes by, depositing her eggs, and the queen never thinks to herself, “If I give this drone bee a good time, maybe he’ll give me a part in his next movie!”

It is my understanding–and here, our friendly public health official can advise, if I’m wrong–that there is no need among the apes to launch massive campaigns to prevent unnecessary pregnancies and counter national waves of STDs.  It’s almost like… can it really be?… that the apes are not so infatuated with their genitalia and the (presumed) pleasure from using them, that they do not behave in such a way as to threaten their own community?

Do the eagles maintain a series of abortion clinics, where unwanted eagle eggs are brought to be dashed into pieces (and the parts sold to the pigeons) out of fear that the eagle population might get out of control?  Do the vultures lend assistance by handing out condoms?

Sexuality has so consumed us that humans are actually orienting their IDENTITY around their GENITALIA.  Can you imagine an armadillo waving a rainbow flag, as if the most important thing to the armadillo is that the armadillo understands itself to be is attracted to sage brush?

Need I go on?

Within the rest of the biosphere, sex is occurring all over the place, mostly, if not always geared towards reproduction.  And apart from the reproductive side of it, the rest of the biosphere easily keeps its sexual inclinations in healthy perspective.  It is only the human population that is so utterly inflamed by its sexuality that at every turn we see humans running from danger to danger, abuse to abuse.  What does this suggest about humans?  (And our putative evolution?)

When I was a teacher, I explained that sexuality was like a campfire–something that provided an an appropriate amount of comfort, but which must be carefully tended to make sure the fire does not leap out of the fire pit and become a raging forest fire which consumes everyone, and the forest with it.  We’re well past that!   The better analogy today might be that sexuality is like nuclear power–something that will lay waste to an entire region, making it inhospitable to all life for centuries, unless it is kept in careful bounds (eg, the Pence Rule?).  Worse, it has been weaponized, so that people are enslaving and being enslaved or advancing themselves or tearing down others.

No, there is something definitely very different about human sexuality.  I’ll leave it to the reader to ponder how well evolution can account for these differences (emerging strangely only very recently, it appears, within the last 10,000 years or so, despite humans being around for hundreds of thousands of years), but for our purposes it ought to be enough to point out that there is something very, very, very, very very, very, very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  very, very, very, very very, very,  wrong with the human species when it comes to sex.

Now, what is the best explanation for this?

Well, it goes back to exactly what ‘conservatives’ are right about.  Is it the sinfulness of humans?  That’s a start, I suppose.  But most of the conservatives I know (more of the Christian sort) understand that we are right about other things, too, which our liberal secular atheist friends wave off as nonsense.  First of all, we are right when we say that there are biological differences between men and women.

For example, there are REASONS why men are the main perpetrators of sexual violence, and it is not only because men are demonstrably more physically powerful than women.  Human males–as opposed to males throughout the rest of the biosphere–are disproportionately aroused by the sight of sexual acts and naked ladies.  If you think I’m wrong, do the test.  Take pictures of dogs having sex and show them to other male dogs and tell me if their reaction is even slightly sexual.

In a society that is saturated by visual acts of sex, whether in magazines or movies, or their fraternity in college, any attempt to mention that this rank immodesty is not helping is met with bloodshot catcalls about ‘blaming the victim.’

Yea, sorry, but welcome to the real world, where whether you like it or not, men are far more turned on by the sight of flesh than women.

Now add to that the fact that men are more physically powerful than women, you can easily see why (if this was a sane universe, and we were attempting to ‘meet halfway’), the cultural acceptance of sexually provocative content throughout the media could give men the idea that the behavior they are engaging in is actually condoned by society.

Aren’t you the ones who believe humans are just mammals?  Ever hear of Pavlov’s dog?  Ring the bell, the dog slobbers.  Show a man a naked lady… what do you expect?  — Except even dogs are not aroused by the mere sight of other dogs.

Now you might think that instituting training, or creating a sexual Sexual Gulag Archipelago to try to recreate moral boundaries after systematically undermining morality for a hundred years, and mocking those who point out the existence of that morality, will finally resolve (ie, ‘perfect’) our society.  No.  Its like C.S. Lewis said, albeit in a different context:

“In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

No, just no.  If you gut the basis for morality, but then expect people to be moral, you’re going to be disappointed every. single.  time.

Keep flaunting basic biology and basic observations about the truth about humans for another 40 years.  Go for it.  But don’t expect me to take your shock and outrage seriously when situations flare up over and over again.

On the other hand, if Christian conservatives are RIGHT, then people are made in the image of God, and yes, quite fallen from that image.  That is, they are not just animals.   They were made ‘male and female’ and given the gift of sexuality, which, as it happens, is extremely volatile when expressed by sinful creatures.  Nobody, and certainly no man, is able to avoid lusting in their life, and if you have a man walk about a society filled with naked people, it would take someone with a special dispensation of the Spirit to avoid acting on their lusts.  Remember, Joseph knew better when Potiphar’s wife made herself available to him:  he didn’t have a debate, he got the hey out of there, ASAP!  Why?  Not because Joseph was better than the rest of us, but because he knew he was just as bad!

Atheists walk around thinking that Christians, in espousing a moral code, are somehow immune from transgressing that moral code, and from the position of 100% holiness, are able to judge others who transgress it.  This is based on an understanding of the Scriptures and Christianity that is as unreal as their understanding of genitalia.  It is nearly the opposite:  Christians understand that NONE of us are immune from transgressing that moral code, and NONE of us will be able to present themselves as 100% pure before God.  The whole idea of the ‘Gospel’ is based on this–and yet atheists fail to understand it every. single. time.

When Christians issue their warnings about sexuality, the goal is not (or had better not be, if they know their Scriptures!) the purification of our society, but a frank and honest statement about the real nature of humans and sexuality, which, if people disregard, will lead them to experience consequences which entail a great amount of suffering.  Not for the Christian, and not because the law might be involved, but because mishandling sex is like playing with fire–or uranium, if you wish–and eventually YOU WILL GET BURNED.

So, here we are.  A spate of allegations of sexual abuse has arisen, directed ironically (largely) at people most prone to make fun of Christians and their prudish viewpoints.  Who is surprised?

Not Christians.

Maybe this spate will be a ‘wake up call’ to re-appraise one’s views on human nature, and sexuality in general.  Maybe there will be some who will not run headlong into a wall, but, seeing others do it just ahead of them with bloody results, will draw the right lesson.

Hint:  the right lesson is not simply to put on a helmet before you sprint towards the wall.


Nov 15

40 Year Old Accusations? Really?

I don’t know whether or not Roy Moore actually did the things he is accused of doing, but unlike some, I actually care.

I have seen innumerable statements on Facebook, comment sections of articles, and so on, stating that Christians conservatives are really hypocritical for supporting Moore.  This is interesting, because from the very beginning, I’ve seen many conservatives ready to give weight to the accusations, and those who ‘supported Moore’ did not support Moore so much as dispute the idea that just because the WAPO reports something, it must be accepted.  Here is one of my favorites, especially this bit:

If the allegations are true? Well, of COURSE. If the allegations are true, the citizens of Alabama ought to do more than politely request that Moore step out of the race. If the allegations are true, they ought all to pitch in, buy the world’s biggest frying pan, fill it with about half a foot of piping hot bacon grease, and fry the good judge a deep brown on both sides.

Now I will admit it—that previous paragraph was a tad flamboyant. But I put it that way for a purpose. A defense of the presumption of innocence ought never to be read as a defense of the guilty. If he is guilty of this, he deserves everything he is getting and more.

Exactly right.  Indeed, I saw one of my own points put pretty well on an internet comment, to the effect of, “Of course conservatives will throw Moore under the bus if he is guilty.  That’s the difference between conservatives and liberals.  Conservatives toss their perverts; liberals stand by them.”  Again, the question is whether or not the charges are true.  Already, I’ve noticed quite a few on the conservative side stepping away from Moore, including Rush Limbaugh, perhaps, whose comments seemed to suggest that he was inclined to think Moore was guilty as charged.

Anyway, this whole thing has prompted an interesting development re: sexual allegations, in that after decades of sticking up for Bill Clinton and deriding the women who accused him of RAPE, the rank hypocrisy is so profound even they cannot miss it.  But that will have to be another topic, perhaps, because my purpose in this essay is to ask people who instantly believed the WAPO whether or not they really had a sound basis for doing so.  That is the heart of all such accusations: are they true?

My target audience is not those who backed Moore, who backed him initially but no longer do, but those who leapt to “we must believe the women!” Who–coincidentally?–all seemed to be liberal atheists.

Let us lay out the basic outline of what transpired.

Roy Moore, a Christian conservative who liberal progressives especially detest, was accused just a few weeks before an election, of various sexual misdeeds that occurred nearly 40 years ago, 38 to be exact.  These accusations were made in a Washington Post article, the WAPO being a ‘news’ outlet that is notorious in its left-leaning bias.

We are given the names of some of the women:  Leigh Corfman, who says she was 14 at the time.

Moore’s first encounter with Corfman was with her mother present.  Pretty brazen move, for Moore, I’d say.  In support of this accusation, one anonymous source and Betsy Davis, allegedly childhood friends, are reported to have told the WAPO that they recall Corfman telling them only “that she was seeing an older man.”  According to the article, Corfman’s own mother was not told until “the mid-1990s”.  Corfman recalls certain details, only some of are things we can corroborate (he called her on HER phone number).  We are told Moore touched her intimately, over her clothes, while he himself was also down to his under garments.  We are not, naturally, supposed to ask why it was that Corfman thought it a good idea to go on a car ride with Moore, nor what might have prompted Moore to think Corfman would welcome such advances; we’re not supposed to read into her (boasts?) that “she was seeing an older man.”  We are not supposed to give any weight to the fact that, after she asked to be taken home, Moore did so without objection.

The WAPO is not curious about this, and neither, evidently, are the liberal atheists who accepted this depiction on its face.

We are then told of other incidents by women who found Moore’s attention “flattering at the time” but who also remained silent about their ‘troubled’ views as they grew older.  WAPO says:  “None of the three women say that Moore forced them into any sort of relationship or sexual contact.”  No one wonders why, if this is the case, that we’re hearing about it at all.  We are told that the WAPO interviews more than 30 people.  By my count, only about 6 names are actually listed in the article as references.

We are told that none of the women knew each other, and that they did not approach the WAPO, but rather WAPO approached them.  We are not supposed to be curious how the WAPO found out about them, if indeed the women kept the matters to themselves over the years.

To sum it up, we have a highly partisan news outfit–the WAPO–magically coming up with 4 ‘reluctant’ women just before an election, who give us their word that they are telling the truth, corroborated by a couple of mothers who offer mild corroboration, and 30 unnamed people–all of whom, I suppose, have motives as pure as the wind driven snow.  Just like the WAPO!

And this is what liberal atheists believed instantly.

Since the article, there is one more woman who has come forward, assisted by the completely unpartisan Gloria Allred.

Again, we aren’t supposed to be curious about how this managed to unfold so quickly after 4 decades of nearly complete silence.  But we do have the emotional testimony which indeed sounds compelling.  Nelson said that Moore tried to grope her and then when she resisted she says that he says, and I quote, “You’re just a child,’ …. ‘I am the district attorney of Etowah County and if you tell anyone about this, no one will ever believe you.'” Pretty good memory, right?

She remembers all sorts of stuff:  “Mr. Moore was wearing brown hush puppies on his feet.”

We are told the name of the restaurant, “the Olde Hickory House.”  Interestingly, Beverly Nelson has a yearbook where Roy Moore evidently wrote, “To a sweeter more beautiful girl, I could not say, ‘Merry Christmas.'” [signed] “Roy Moore, D.A.”.

She remembers other details:  it was after her shift at 10 p.m.., which we are told is when the restaurant closed.  It was cold.  Her boyfriend was late.  Moore happened to walk out at the same time, and saw her waiting, and offered to take her home.  She describes where Moore parked.  She gives a pretty vivid and detailed account of what then transpired.   Very detailed stuff!

She said she left after her shift was over, which is the same time the restaurant closed.  We are led to believe she had been sitting there for some time (no one pressed her on it), as her boyfriend was late.  No one seems to wonder how it is that Moore was leaving a restaurant that was closed, and had been closed long enough for at least some of the workers (Beverly) to have already left and then sit around for a bit.

She says in her statement that Moore would stay until closing often, but this seems to be a late departure by Moore even on this view.  And besides, wouldn’t he be seen by others leaving so late?  Or are we to believe that she was not only ending her shift, but she was the last person on the premises–besides Moore, who exits AFTER she leaves AFTER the restaurant is closed.

Then there is the thing about the yearbook.  The following picture is provided:


This is interesting corroboration.  But I have questions.

If you are going to sign a yearbook, why would you list the date?  Its a YEARBOOK.  One already has a good idea of the date, no?  Why would anyone say, “Merry Christmas” and then repeat himself one word later, with “Christmas 1977”?  This redundancy is compounded by yet another redundancy with Moore not only telling us it is “Christmas 1977” but ALSO 12-22-77.  And now this is bizarre–why does a man who is the DA think that after putting DA after his name, he thinks he needs to jog her memory further by putting the name of the restaurant?–which just happens to be the ‘scene of the crime.’  How lucky for Beverly to have such corroborating documentation!

And yet, this lucky corroboration begs another question.  What kind of dumb ass DISTRICT ATTORNEY writes something as incriminating as this in the yearbook of a woman he later assaults?  How stupid would one have to be?  Speaking of stupid, Moore was actually the ASSISTANT District Attorney.  An ADA would not generally represent himself as a DA.*  It is easy to gloss over the fact that Young claimed that Moore said he was the DA (“I am the district attorney of Etowah County”), suggesting that she was young and ignorant, and anyway, it was a traumatic incident.  However, a few weeks earlier in the calm of the restaurant, the older and well-educated Moore would know how to sign his name:  Roy Moore, ADA.

I note, too, that the rest is in cursive, but the date and name of the restaurant is printed.

Something doesn’t smell right about this yearbook signature, but at least its some kind of documentary evidence.  And she does say that she is willing to testify under oath, which is great.  But what she really needs, like the other women in the WAPO post, is a good cross-examination.  Ah, but what poor luck for them… the statute of limitation has expired for all of them.  No justice for them is available… only a fortuitously timed assassination of a man’s reputation.

Now I want to be clear.  For all I know, these women are telling the God’s honest truth.  I do not know them, and I do not know Moore.  I do not live in Alabama, so I don’t have to make a judgement here.  My complaint is the one I already made, where people are alleged to be sexual predators and then either, A., allowed to continue their predation for decades because no one presses charges on them or B., they are deprived of any ability to clear their name if they are falsely accused.  If we find a way to verify these charges, I will be happy to join the flock of denouncers.

I am just very curious to know why atheists will believe accounts that are 4 decades old.  Who can remember things like “Mr. Moore was wearing brown hush puppies on his feet.” after 40 years?  Do 14 year olds in 1979 have their own telephone numbers?  Where is the skepticism from the avowed skeptics?

Could some atheists please explain to me why we can trust these 40 year old accounts coming from two sources (Allred and the WAPO) who are known to be biased?  Who can believe anything this detailed and specific after so many years, presented at such a suspicious moment?

Much appreciated.   The comment section is yours.  Thanks!

* I thought this was the case, but I chatted with some I know who works at the level of a state supreme court to see if my assessment was accurate, and without knowing why I was asking, affirmed it.


Nov 13

Tips for Knowing that What you Know is True and Real

In a preamble to this topic, I set forth some important caveats.  I may have some more when I am done.  In this post, I aim to set forth my basic principles and practices for drawing as close as I can to ‘knowledge.’

1.  Have as few preconceived notions as possible, and be aware of the ones that you have.  The universe is a big place, and the earth fairly large, too, relative to your own experiences.  Be as skeptical of your own apprehension of reality as you are of others.  Many people trust that they OF COURSE are able to process reality, but one flawed assumption can send their whole epistemology careening into the ditch.  That is to say, until reality breaks in.

In the legal field, there is the concept of ‘fruit of the poisonous tree,’ which refers to evidence gained illegally.  In other words, you may gain evidence that exonerates or convicts, but it is inadmissible because it was gained improperly.  A similar idea is in view here, except that the ‘evidence’ you gain, or better yet, your interpretation of the evidence, may not be valid and genuine at all, because you started from a false position.  Think of it like fouling up a math problem early on, and not detecting it until much later.

It is hard work gaining knowledge as it is.  Having to backtrack through the steps to figure out where you made your mistake in the first place is work you don’t want to have to do.

A good example of a flawed assumption that colors all that follows is the presumption of atheism.

2. Make sure you are using the right tool for the job.  Remember the boiled woman from the preamble!  If you are trying to gain knowledge about the physical realm, then the scientific method may very well be the way to go.  If you are trying to gain knowledge about a past event, the scientific method, along with a variety of methods applicable to historical scrutiny will be in order.  If you are trying to determine if Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a fine play, you will need different methods.  If you are trying to determine if your wife loves you, or if you love your wife, an entirely different set of tools is necessary.   Sometimes multiple tools are appropriate.  Think it through.

3.  Read widely and study.  I finish off about a book a week, mostly non-fiction.  I read a variety of websites almost every day.  I don’t necessarily count any of that as ‘knowledge’ but it does help expand my experiences vicariously, as it were.   By having this expanded framework, it becomes more practical to sort out the wheat from the chaff.  One does not have to form judgements from what they read–in fact, I would urge that one does so gingerly, provisionally, and tentatively.  On the other hand, if it is a topic that you feel important to render a judgement on, then you should dive even more deeply into it.  These kinds of things take time and energy… that’s why most people don’t do it.

4.  Read those you disagree with widely.   I have far more books on my shelves written by atheists, Darwinists, Buddhists, and the like, than I do of Christians.  Besides offering a corrective to any flawed assumptions that I might have, their different perspectives will often help bring out other relevant points to consider–or reject.  I mentioned the presumption of atheism above.  It turns out that many of atheism’s best ‘arguments’ actually hinge on their assumption from the beginning that atheism not merely is true, but must be ASSUMED to be true.  Well, obviously if you assume atheism is true and then evaluate evidence in light of the assumption that atheism is true, then you are going to conclude that atheism is true.  Duh.   However, one might not ever discover this chain of reasoning back to the first principles if one does not read their entire argument.

It does not just apply to these philosophical issues.  As someone with a distinctly conservative-libertarian bent, I am interested of course in reading essays and news articles that reflect my position.  However, I like to read the Huffington Post, Salon, and Politico to hear what else is being said–for myself.  I also read the New York Times and that other rag, the Washington Post… but I wouldn’t say I like it.  🙂

I read once that conservatives are more likely to read liberal material than liberals will conservative material, and that definitely fits my experience.  Many people who reject Fox News and Rush Limbaugh have never watched or listened to them, for themselves.  They rely on fellow liberals to represent conservatives to them.  That’s a recipe for epistemological disaster.   Liberals had a great big taste of the kind of disaster that awaits them for behaving like that in the election of Donald Trump.  They could not understand how he could become the GOP candidate, let alone win the election, and frankly even to this date they seem ignorant.  If they are aware of the concerns of those who voted for Trump at all, they are smugly dismissive of them.  Since this attitude and approach is persisting from the left, expect more disasters to come.

5.  Primary sources are to be preferred, whenever they can be gotten.  This includes the idea of performing experiments yourself, when it comes to exploring the physical universe.  Practically speaking, of course, one cannot do this about everything which we think we ‘know.’  We rely on secondary sources, or even tertiary sources, for most of it.  However, the more important something is, the more you should seek out primary sources.  That is to say, original source documents, journals, diaries, government documents, direct observation, etc.  Referring to secondary sources can be helpful because they might bring to light other primary source material which might be relevant, but in my experience, after one has spent days, weeks, or months delving into something, more and more flaws appear in the secondary sources.

For example, I started the website www.eugenics.us to post my research into the eugenics movement of the early 20th century because it was clear from reading some of the important secondary research that many extremely important facets of the eugenic mindset were overlooked, understated, ignored, or forgotten.  I’m not necessarily knocking them, as one has to make choices on what one presents, if one is not going to present everything.  My point is that a look into the primary sources yourself will not only give you a broader feel of the reality of things, but will also put you in a better position to test the reliability of secondary and tertiary sources.  (In my experience, most secondary sources on eugenics are fairly decent, but the tertiary sources are rubbish.)

6.  Corroboration is essential.  If you only have one account for something (eg, cold fusion), and/or cannot duplicate it, then one must be cautious about whether or not something counts as ‘knowledge.’  Here is a good segue into the topic of ‘fake news.’  If only one outlet is reporting something, and references an unnamed source or sources, and no other outlet is reporting it–or the other outlets are only reporting that some other outlet has reported something–red flags should go up.  Our contemporary society will insist that you draw a conclusion from this single source.  You must either accept it or reject it, or else you are a bad citizen!  Don’t fall for this trap.  Remain agnostic until better evidence surfaces that can be substantiated.

Of course, it might be that the single source you have is one that you have previously determined is generally reliable.  Of course, that judgement depends on having subjected that source to some kind of scrutiny at some point.  Hard work!

It is worth mentioning that when you can get corroboration through different strands of inquiry, all the better.  Can you back up a witness testimony with physical evidence?  If so, you’ve not only solidified that particular point, but you’ve also provided yourself with non-arbitrary justification for assigning that witness extra weight.

7.  Indirect Corroboration.  I’ll talk more about this when I talk about detecting ‘fake news.’  Corroboration is very important, but precisely because it is important, nefarious parties might work to contrive the ‘corroboration.’  It may not be as malevolent as that.  A person telling a story may have a subtle inclination to speak well of some people and poorly of others, which even they may be unaware of.  One of the ways around this problem is to give weight to items which are outside the scope of their attention or their purpose for writing.   They might taint stuff related to their purpose in the area of their direct attention, but the items that the source himself deems unimportant are less likely to be contrived.

For example, if you are assessing an account of a famous battle as told by one of the participants, you might suspect a slant regarding the battle itself–but he is not likely to lie about growing up in Kansas.  Where he grew up is likely immaterial to the account of the battle itself, and probably not something he cares about at all.  Its an incidental, ‘throw away’ detail, which nonetheless can be useful in determining if the source is credible.  Or, if your goal is to learn stuff about Kansas, since this source’s remark is ‘off hand’, not meant as a defense or attack on the state itself, this source’s statement on Kansas can be given more epistemological weight than, say, his statements about his conduct in the battle.  The statement about Kansas was otherwise inconsequential–but precisely for that reason, gives information that is potentially of consequence.

8.  The criterion of embarrassment.  Whether its in history or in today’s newspaper, the criterion of embarrassment is a very nice and efficient way to determine if something is (more likely to be) true.  It is very easy to understand:  people don’t like being embarrassed or humiliated, or having their perspective undermined, and would prefer not to give justifications to others for ridiculing them.  So, if X hates Y, but nonetheless concedes something nice about Y, that ‘something’ is probably true.  If X loves Z, but nonetheless acknowledges something less than flattering about Z, that ‘something’ is probably true.

In the above example (in #7) of the Kansas soldier, if he behaved poorly in the battle he described, and he is ashamed of his conduct, or not as glorious as reported, etc, his statements are probably more reliable than if he was tooting his own horn.  We have a real life example of such testimony.

So it is that it is generally the case that one is more likely to ascertain true things about liberals and conservatives (for example) by giving more weight to the things they concede or acknowledge that undermine them, then the things that flatter the people or events they support.  Yet another reason to read broadly, and read things you disagree with.

One last thing, and then I need to wrap this up for now.

It’s “ok” to not know something.  It really is.  What is not “ok” is to paper over your ignorance by regurgitating headlines and tweets.  Don’t do it.


Nov 12

Tips for Knowing that What you Know is True and Real: Preamble

Many disagreements on issues come down to a fundamental difference on how people arrive at what they consider to be ‘true’ and the different weighting they give to different kinds of knowledge claims.  It is even worse when people are unaware of how they are arriving at their conclusions and have given no thought whatsoever to whether or not these methods are sound, or appropriate to the categories they are applying those methods to.  I have given thought to this, indeed, you could even say I wrote the book on epistemology.  😉 There have been many occasions where I thought it would be helpful to my interlocutor to understand my approach to knowledge, but recently, one of my sons asked me how to determine if something is ‘fake news.’

Well, that’s a deep question to fall into!  My full answer would require another book, but in interests of giving some insight to my son, and perhaps some debate partners on the way, I will summarize it.

A proper treatment of the question would first of all examine the axiomatic nature of it.  The assumption is that it is preferable to have knowledge than to not have it.  But why is that the case?  Second of all, we have to recognize the basic mystery of knowledge.  We ‘know’ that 2+2=4, and this is corroborated by, for example, putting 2 baseballs with 2 baseballs and noting that every time we do, we have 4 baseballs.  But why not 3, 5, or 500?  Why is it that our logic correlates with the universe?  We don’t strictly know it, but the assumption seems to hold true, so we call it knowledge, and not without good reason.

Nonetheless, its good to be able to tell the difference between things we assume and things we know, and even better if we can admit it to ourselves and others.

A full treatment of the question would also entail a discussion of what I call ‘the golden rule of epistemology.’  (That’s what my book was about.)  Its very easy:  if our ‘knowledge’ leads us to a conclusion which requires that we declare it impossible to know anything (including our knowledge that it is impossible to know anything), we must reject that which we considered to be ‘knowledge’ out of hand.  Sawing off the limb you are standing on works in cartoons, but creates devastation in the real world; Chesterton had this idea in mind when he attacked ‘the thought that ends all thought.’  There are a great number of viewpoints that are out there that are self-defeating, with the adherents being none the wiser.  Post-modernism, relativism, Darwinism, would be examples.  One that many tend to agree on is logical positivism, which took awhile, but eventually even most of its proponents realized it could not be supported by its own weight.  So, the ‘golden rule’ is not an abstraction.  It is very relevant, as it is widely flaunted.  But eventually reality breaks in.

We naturally have to offer a definition of knowledge, too.  Philosophers have argued about this, too!  For my purposes, I will simply say that “knowledge is the personal awareness of information that accurately conforms to reality as it actually is.”  Reality is the baseline for our truth claims, not our perception of it.  On this definition, we can immediately see that there are pitfalls all around.  One might be aware of a state of affairs that conforms to reality, but may arrive at that awareness by flawed methods or approaches.  We’re not going to parse that sort of thing here, but I thought it might be good to at least highlight my view that if what we consider knowledge does not correlate with actual reality, whatever it is we think we ‘know,’ we do not actually ‘know.’

However, one thing I will say is this:  most people don’t actually know a quarter of the things they think they know.  For example, I find that the ‘fallacy of the collective we’ runs rampant in society.  In this fallacy, you will hear someone say something like, “We now know that….” But the person making this statement doesn’t actually know jack.  He is appropriating someone else’s knowledge, and for all he knows, this person is likewise appropriating someone else’s knowledge.  And, at bottom, we might find that the knowledge claim our chain is resting on is held by someone who has a whole host of problems–he may be hopelessly biased, or morally compromised, or on the take, and so on.  Or, an equally plausible possibility, although more charitable, is that the first link in the chain himself doesn’t consider the knowledge claim to be 100% established fact.  If that is the case, then we don’t actually know the the thing that we now know, do we?

People who say “We now know that” are usually arrogant (and ignorant) snobs who read a headline in Time Magazine and then think they know something. Or my favorite, the folks who read a small paragraph in a 9th grade text book and now think they know the end of the matter… because obviously, it wouldn’t be in the text book, or in Time Magazine, if it weren’t real!

It is critical to understand that we don’t ‘know’ all the things we think we ‘know’ and be willing to tell the difference.  We might casually say that we know that Person Y did Action B, but we should be self-aware enough to know that what we really means is, “Article X in Publication Z says that Person Y did Action B.”  So it is that strictly speaking, we don’t know that Person Y did Action B.  We know that’s what we read… but if anyone has knowledge, its the author of Article X, or, even more likely, it is Person Y.    And even Person Y might have an incomplete picture of the action in question.

All these ambiguities and caveats matter a great deal if you hope to navigate life’s many decisions without hurting yourself or others.

Now, before I go through and set out my method for determining what is most likely real, I need to also address another important preliminary issue.  Namely, not all knowledge claims are determined through the same methods.  Sometimes, the nature of the knowledge claim cannot even in principle be determined through a particular method.  This is very important, because you can screw up your entire worldview if you don’t get it right, although here again, reality tends to break in.  That is to say, people might say that they consider one method of gaining knowledge to be preferable, but in their real life, they hardly ever use the method.  Not because they don’t have opportunity, but because even they aren’t that stupid.

One of the best examples of this are the secular humanist atheistic skeptics who elevate the ‘scientific method’ above all else.  Now, to be clear, I’m a big fan of the real scientific method, and I consider it to be a powerful tool.  But, as with anything, one must use the right tool for the job!  So, the scientific method is a great tool for determining, say, if water boils at a particular temperature at a certain pressure.  If, however, you are trying to determine if a woman loves you, and you throw her into a pot and boil her, we can say with great confidence that if she ever loved you, she doesn’t now!

Of course, your average empiricist does not settle questions of the heart by boiling the objects of his affection, or burning them to a crisp and putting the ashes into a test tube and carefully weighing them.  Your average empiricist does not settle 1/100th of the issues he thinks he ‘knows’ via the scientific method, because, as I am saying, reality often breaks in.

(Hint:  if you want to find out if someone loves you, your most reliable guide is what we would call ‘revelation.’  Ie, she reveals it to you.)

The scientific method is nice because when it is the appropriate tool for the job, it can often provide more definitive ‘knowledge.’  But here is where the “fallacy of the collective we” comes tearing in with a vengeance.  Not one of us has performed 1/1000th of the actual experiments that have given us information that we reasonably consider knowledge.  Someone may have performed the experiment, but it wasn’t us.  In point of fact, your most hardened atheist who insists on rock solid empirical demonstration for truth claims actually relies on the revelation of those who actually carried out the empirical demonstration.  It is worse than that: I bet that most of us, myself included, could not name 50 specific individuals who are responsible for the scientific investigations behind some of the things we think we know are true about the physical universe, and yet I bet we believe we know 5,000 things we think are true about it.

I don’t fault anyone for trusting that Scientist K has accurately performed experiment G and learned knowledge J, and then behaving as though J is a legitimate piece of knowledge.  I only fault them for being unaware of how much they depend on revelation in their epistemology.

In our actual experience of reality, it is usually the case that we cannot be as definitive as what we can theoretically be when weighing or boiling things.  On the other hand, as I have argued, the best way to know certain things is sometimes not going to be by weighing or boiling them at all.  That does not mean that we are out of luck.  There are still methods for determining truth which often give us good, reliable results.

The American justice system offers a good example.  In this adversarial system, evidence of various sorts are brought into the courtroom, and subjected to cross-examination and other (hopefully) rigorous tests.  The scientific method provides some of that evidence.  The trustworthiness of revealers is evaluated (ie, ‘witnesses’).  Claims are weighed, deemed significant, or even discarded.  But here again, this is a system that we cannot often avail ourselves of in the ordinary course of business.   Nonetheless, it is a system which allows us to compare propositions against the standard, ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’ which is sufficiently robust that if the standard is met, we have been known to execute people.  So, it is not a method to be sneezed at.  And yet it remains that most of us cannot convene a grand jury to ask, say, “Do I know for a fact that drinking coffee every morning will not give me cancer?”

From the foregoing, it should be clear that determining if what we know is something we really know is not an easy task.  There are many pitfalls, caveats, exceptions, all along the way.  For some people, that is an excuse to throw up their hands in despair.  These are usually the same people who in their next breath will say, “You’re wrong.  We now know that…”

The complexity and difficulty of determining what is true and real only means that it is not something we can take for granted.  We must man up to the problem, even if 95% of our fellow citizens are clueless.  With any luck, over time, we can knock that number down a percent or two.  If not, at least you’ll be better off.  Because when reality breaks in, it tends to do so painfully.  The best play is to find out what reality is, and conform ourselves to it.  It’s for our own good.

The next part will come in due time.



Nov 09

Accusations of Sexual Misconduct IN THE MEDIA are Themselves Inappropriate

Updated at the end to include a response to an argument made re: Moore.

Yes, of course, there is the long pattern of claims of rape and other examples of sexual misconduct that have been revealed to be completely untrue and fabricated… the Duke lacrosse team… the Rolling Stone fiasco… Tawana Brawley… almost certainly Anita Hill… but this essay is going to assume, for the sake of argument, that there is an underlying legitimate basis for the claims.  But the false claims are not irrelevant to this post, and the point I will be making, so we will do well to remember the larger context.

We might begin with the Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey allegations, which are noteworthy for a number of reasons.  First of all, there is the fact that as near as I can tell, neither men have denied the accusations.   Secondly, there is the irony that they are said to refer to an ‘open secret’ among a group of people who are constantly berating their fellow Americans for their various moral depravities.  Not to put too fine a point to it, but for example it seems that whatever Donald Trump is accused of doing, most of Hollywood actually has done it, is doing it now, or has been looking the other way on for decades.

As I write, I see reports that Louis C.K. is being accused, as well as Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Roy Moore.  Louis C.K. is not talking and Moore is denying the charges, and given how quickly the liberal drive by media has lodged accusations in the past, only to have them revealed as outright fabrications, we should not be too hasty in accepting them as legitimate.

But let’s assume that all of these accusations through the media are actually legitimate.  In nearly every case that I’m aware of, the incidents occurred years earlier.  Even decades earlier.  Why, then, are we only hearing about them now?

Rape and many other kinds of sexual behaviors are against the law.  These laws are there for the purpose of allowing us to prosecute bad actors.  However, if someone does not avail themselves of the laws, then these prosecutions cannot happen.  There is a serious problem with trotting them out as allegations, shopped to the media.  The criminal procedures offer protections both to victims and to the accused.  However, as we see so often, no such protections exist in the media for the accused.  Indeed, we see over and over again how people are deemed guilty based on allegations alone, largely because we have a grotesque media culture that engorges itself on such situations, calling it ‘news.’

This is a horrible way to run a society.

That’s why the Weinstein-Spacey allegations are somewhat unique.  By not defending themselves at all, they essentially conceded the charges made against them.  This, I think, is telling.  First of all, I think it means that they are unconcerned about any long term fallout.  I suspect they figure that their Hollywood friends, many, if not most of whom, are already engaged in the same kind of behavior or worse, are going to eventually ease up on them.  I suspect they understand that for normal people, being crucified in the media is a fate nearly as bad as enduring the criminal justice system, but since they are not normal people, it is far better to drink the cup of media agony than put up a fight and end up in court.

It is one thing for people guilty of the charges to make such calculations, but for innocent people, there is little recourse if one is falsely accused by the media.  It’s called the ‘drive by media’ for a reason.  At least in a court trial, evidence is heard and evaluated, and verdict is rendered.  If someone is innocent, they may very well be able to prove this in court.  But if they are convicted in the court of ‘public opinion’ there is no way to get one’s reputation back.

A further advantage to trial by media:  there are certain ‘victims’ who would prefer not to be cross-examined in such a way that their false statements could get them sent to jail.

The bottom line is that if you are sexually assaulted, it is not commendable to wait 40 years before bringing out your allegations, and it is not commendable to bring out those allegations to the media.  And society should not tolerate it.  If someone is sexually assaulted, they should promptly report it to the authorities so that the scum bag can be put in jail and deterred from committing similar acts against other people.   On top of that, its a little silly to think that we can root out such behavior in our society if we allow it to unfold over many decades; I mean, the proposition is absurd on its face.  Obviously if you want the behavior brought under control, it must be dealt with quickly and effectively as soon as it manifests.

However, this spate of allegations has an entirely different feel about it.  The claims smell spurious, and the media’s participation in spreading them smacks of something despicable in itself.  I began by assuming that the claims in many of these cases are legitimate, but one does not end someone’s reputation on claims alone.  If the whole purpose appears to be to bring someone down in the media, it calls into question whether or not the cases are legitimate at all.  If someone doesn’t want to be disbelieved when they make their accusations, then perhaps they ought to level them before it seems obvious that they get something out of it.

On the way things are proceeding, any American could be destroyed merely by someone saying that they were sexually assaulted.   No evidence required, or even desired.

Its easy to see how this could eventually backfire on the people who most revel in it. It is easy to see how it might then be too late.


Everyone is fixated on the Moore thing, but my blog post is NOT a response to Moore…. because I am not a tool.  My post is focused on a broader, more dangerous pattern.  To that end, I recently made these comments to a friend:

I am aware that you said you didn’t know if he was guilty or not. That’s not what I said. What I said is YOU DON’T CARE if he is guilty or not. And that’s a real problem.

For example, you expressed doubt that Hannity appropriately grilled Moore. I suppose you want Hannity to really go after Moore, taking bits of flesh out with every question. You want Moore subjected to vicious interrogation and cross-examination, as befitting a pedophile. Very good, then! Let’s run pedophiles into the ground! Ah, but what if Moore is innocent? Well, then you will have subjected to him to punishment that he never deserved in the first place.

And you don’t care.

My interest in this is not limited to Moore. See #3 on my blog priority list.

We’re talking about a trend that is facilitating several very dangerous currents in our society.

1. Delaying prosecution of sex offenders has the obvious effect of allowing these people to inflict more harm over the ensuing years, creating a climate where the offender draws the obvious implication that if no one is bothered by his behavior, it must not be all that bad. Not pressing charges on a rapist obviously leaves the rapist to rape more women, which he will be inclined to do, and if it is ‘lesser’ offenses, such as exposing oneself and so on, he will be even more inclined.

2. I’ve only been following it moderately but it seems that in all these cases, the behavior was an ‘open secret.’ (Moore again seems to be an exception, in that there was no hint of anything until just this week, FWIW). This means that not only the perpetrators, but the many people around them, allowed bad conduct to persist for years. Yes, this meant more people victimized, but ponder as well the kind of culture we’re talking about where these things fester. Now picture yourself or loved ones possibly coming into contact with that culture, and think about what might happen to them. You were oh so concerned that no one would come to your defense if you were falsely accused, but you exhibit an utter lack of concern when the same thing is already true for countless others, past, present, and as I warn, future.

3. It must mean something that in some of these cases, the people did not deny the charges, allowing themselves to be flayed by the media. While it does help us bystanders determine whether or not there was something to the charges, it suggests that these people (Weinstein, Spacey, and now CK) believe it is in their best interest to accede to the charges rather than put up a fight. My hunch is expressed on the blog: they know that media storms will likely pass, but jail time is far from ideal. Actually innocent people would prefer the trial in a court of law to the media storm, because they at least can clear their name.

4. While all this is going on, there is a widespread pattern of false accusations that are proved later to be false, but which were gleefully accepted on their face by, yes, a largely liberal population, who rarely come across a ‘victim’ they won’t adopt as their own. Here there are at least 2 categories, 1., the trial by media vs 2., the trial by a criminal court. In America, people are innocent until proven guilty, at least in the eyes of the law. This is not an accident. It was put in there because of a long pattern of abuses by the British and other European powers who, like you, thought it fine to treat someone as a criminal even before it was proved he was a criminal. Our system, while imperfect, attempts to balance the rights of the accused with the rights of the accuser.

Here, the cases of Weiner and Cosby are noteworthy, as, for better or worse, they were actually given a chance to defend themselves because, unlike in pop culture, the criminal justice system is not allowed to treat someone like a criminal until they are actually shown to be a criminal. The media by trial dispenses with all of that, and this dangerous trend is facilitated further when the media drops the chum in the water, and the unprincipled sharks gather to join in the mauling.

5. This is the climate that my children will be coming of age in. My sons are going to have to find women to marry in an era of microaggressions and false accusations; My sons and my daughter might be sexually molested by people who are known already to have a long history of sexual misconduct. My sons will grow up in a culture that thinks it is a wonderful idea to wait 40 years or more before lodging an accusation.

I have already instructed them that they will have to be on their guard throughout, that the Billy Graham rule must be taken seriously, and so on. Some of this advice is warranted at all times. But some of the advice is unique to our age, where people are destroyed for no other reason then the fact that the media makes money destroying people because people enjoy watching people be destroyed. Do they know if the people being destroyed are guilty or innocent?

Why, they don’t even care.

How is that going to end well?