You know, I’m getting to the point of being numb about this sh*t. Herewith the graphic predicting the angle of news coverage of this and other outrages. (Sorry for the long absence – real life, writing and home reno projects. I’ll be back, I promise.)
I didn’t watch very much of the horrific YouTube tape of four inner-city “youths” of color tormenting a special needs white kid – a tape that was all over the alternative media last week, and miracle of miracles, even made it to the national media, where incidents of black-on-white violence usually get to be covered, like with a pillow until they stop moving. It goes without saying that if the skin colors of victim and perpetrators had been reversed, just about every other national news story would have been driven off the front page and out of the first twenty minutes of national news for weeks. (Save perhaps one of the Kardashians bursting out of her dress like an overstuffed sausage in the middle of a top-drawer celebrity event.) I know that, you know that, we all are most tiresomely and cynically aware of that. Many would have been the chins tugged, NPR would have been consulting their golden rolodex for the most plummy-voiced commentator with an air of spurious authority over matters racial, CNN anchors and the correspondents of main-line news broadcasters over the world would have been hyperventilating in their efforts to keep up with the currently-fashionable expressions of condemnation of American racism, brutality, racism, cruelty to the ‘other’, white privilege, racism, the center-city of places like Chicago, Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit (aside – is there anything left in Detroit to burn?) would have been going up in flames … so on and so forth, und so weiter.
Only this was the other way around, and so noxious and horrific a brutality to an inoffensive and harmless a young person; attention must be paid, no matter how the usual plummy-voiced commentators drag their metaphorical heels. Here it was – the perps filmed it themselves, and posted their nasty, deed on-line … for what? A brag to their friends, a trophy … seemingly unaware that a recording of their actions would be used against them. Did they not expect law enforcement to somehow, magically not see? Or did they just not care, assuming they would be untouchable. There has been a long, long, long series of horrific black-on-white atrocities – the Newsom-Christian torture/rape/murders in Knoxville ten years ago, come to mind as one of the most brutal and the most little-reported, outside of local media, plus any number of flash-mob attacks, of white or Asian pedestrians suddenly attacked on city streets through the “knock-out” game, of organized looting of retail venues and white visitors to mid-west state fairs threatened as they try to leave the venue.
It’s a soulless brutality demonstrated through these incidents. In the mug-shots of the perpetrators their eyes are dead. They seem to have tormented the kid for fun and no other purpose than that of showing off to peers – akin to pulling the wings off of flies, I suppose. I also suppose this kind of game is encouraged by inner-city thug culture, excused and rationalized away by intellectuals and politicians who one would have expected to know better. Such incidents are hastily covered up by the very same national establishment press, who break out the headlines and commentary by their pet race relations experts ad infinitum when it comes to a Black Lives Matter-manufactured storm in a teacup. I have no idea why it should be this way, but I have read suggestions that secretly the national news establishment are afraid that white flyover country would go all indiscriminately punitive on the ‘hood in the manner of the 1921 Tulsa race riot – or something of the sort.
It is ironic, isn’t it – that the current inner-city black thug culture is demonstrating itself to be as feral, brutal, and ignorant as the 19th century KKK considered that blacks were. There are no chains quite as binding as the ones that you hang on yourself.
For a moment, as the saying used to go, when I was in. The first part of that truism was, “The military will take care of you.” – This bitter wisdom is now being discovered anew by a number California National Guard troops, who – when they were offered bonuses for re-upping ten years ago, accepted the bonus, reupped and served … and ooops, now it turns out that they weren’t qualified or eligible for said bonus, and the Big Green Military Machine wants the money back. With interest and penalties, it would appear. The Big Military Administrative Machine writes and enforces the rules to suit the needs of the machine – a thing which is screamingly obvious to anyone who ever signed a contract of any sort with the Big Military Administrative Machine. (It was always a point of bitter observation to us overseas, that as the dollar-to-local-currency exchange rate rose or dropped, the military paymaster’s adjustment for that exchange rate lagged or sped up in a manner which invariably screwed the military member living on the local economy. The Big Military Administrative Machine will have their pound of flesh, regardless… And it will not favor the individual military member.)
If ever there were a 19th Century journalist more deeply wedded to the old mission statement of comforting (and avenging) the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable with energy and fierce enthusiasm, that person would have to be one William Cowper Brann. In the last decade of the 19th Century, he possessed a small but widely-read newspaper called the Iconoclast, a reservoir of spleen the size of Lake Michigan, and a vocabulary of erudite vituperation which would be the envy of many a political blogger today. Born in 1855, in Coles County, Illinois, he was the son of a Presbyterian minister. Upon losing his mother when barely out of diapers, he was placed with a foster family. At the age of thirteen, he ran away from the foster home and made his own way in the world, armored with a bare three years of formal education. He worked as a hotel bellboy, an apprentice house painter, and as a printer’s devil, from which he graduated into cub reporting. He and his family – for he did manage to marry – gravitated into Texas, settling first in Houston, followed by stints in Galveston and in Austin, working for local newspapers as reporter, editor and editorialist, and attempting to launch his own publication – the first iteration of the Iconoclast – terming it “a journal of personal protest.” For William Cowper Brann had opinions – sulfurous, vituperative and always entertaining, even for a day when public discourse not excluding journalism was conducted metaphorically with brass knuckles – and he despised cant, hypocrisy and what he termed ‘humbuggery’ with a passion burning white-hot and fierce.
The first launch of the Iconoclast failed, but nothing discouraged, Brann sold the name and the press to another writer – William Sidney Porter, who much later became well-known under the nom-de-plume of O. Henry. Brann knocked around between big-city Texas for another couple of years, which makes one wonder if a) his wife ever entirely unpacked the Brann household goods, and b) what she said in private to her peripatetic spouse at hearing of yet another move. At the start of 1895, Brann – now working as chief editorialist for the Waco Daily News – re-launched The Iconoclast as a monthly periodical. Eventually, he had a subscription list for it of over 100,000, a fair portion of it national and even international. Which is quite understandable, given his talent with a well-turned phrase and a savagely telling choice in description; in this century he would have been a blogger, and a very well-read one at that. A selection of his pieces (linked here) are readable and highly entertaining, very much on par with luminaries like Mark Twain, in my opinion. (He had written a couple of plays, and at the abrupt end of his life was working on a novel.)
Brann had his list of favored targets – and in what his near-contemporary Mark Twain termed ‘The Gilded Age’ (and Twain did not mean that as a compliment, but rather as something cheap and nasty, all tarted up to look rich) he was rather spoiled for choice in the targets of his broadsides. His remarks on one of the signature social events of the decade – the notorious Bradley-Martin masquerade ball are one of the most savagely-slashing preserved.
Mrs. Bradley-Martin’s sartorial kings and pseudo-queens, her dukes and DuBarrys, princes and Pompadours, have strutted their brief hour upon the mimic stage, disappearing at daybreak like foul night-birds or an unclean dream—have come and gone like the rank eructation of some crapulous Sodom, a malodor from the cloacae of ancient capitals, a breath blown from the festering lips of half-forgotten harlots, a stench from the sepulcher of centuries devoid of shame. Uncle Sam may now proceed to fumigate himself after his enforced association with royal bummers and brazen bawds; may comb the Bradley-Martin itch bacteria out of his beard, and consider, for the ten-thousandth time, the probable result of his strange commingling of royalty- worshiping millionaire and sansculottic mendicant—how best to put a ring in the nose of the golden calf ere it become a Phalaris bull and relegate him to its belly.
In a word, he detested Europeans, particularly British, the new rich of America, vulgar excess, excess of every sort, the deviousness of cows, cant and hypocrisy of every stripe, and Baptists – of which last he opined, “I have nothing against the Baptists. I just believe they were not held under long enough.” (It has to be admitted here that he detested blacks and didn’t think much of women, either.)
Since he was living and working in Waco – the home of Baylor University, which Brann described as “that great storm-center of misinformation” – and thus a kind of Vatican of Southern Baptists, these openly expressed and published remarks regarding Baptists did excite considerable local comment and resentment. Brann paid a price, personally – in being occasional apprehended and assaulted by partisans. His popularity, locally and elsewhere, soared, however. Local anger became especially marked when he published accusations that college administrators and their family members had imported orphaned female child converts from missions in South America … and not only exploited them as domestic help, but sexually as well. I am given to wonder if this didn’t hit Brann in several personal ways, having been given up by his own father, the Presbyterian minister, into the care of people who cared so little for him that he ran from their tender care the minute he was able to do so. But Brann was just getting warmed up. Next, he alleged that male faculty members were pursuing female students sexually. Any father contemplating sending his daughter to Baylor as a student was putting her at hazard of being raped; the university was nothing but – in his words, “A factory for the manufacture of ministers and magdalenes,” – magdalenes at that time being the socially acceptable term for ‘whores’.
A Baylor supporter – the father of a female student there, one Tom Davis who dealt in real estate in Waco and the surrounding country – took personal insult from Brann’s choice of words, simmered over it … and rather than writing a fiery letter to the fiery editor, took his own gun, emerged from his office on downtown Fourth Street, and ambushed Brann as he walked past with a friend in the late afternoon of April 1, 1898. Davis shot Brann in the back, mortally wounding him. The sound of bullets sent newspaper vendors, passing innocent citizens, street musicians and trolley-car motormen, policemen and simple citizens going about their business on a busy Friday evening darting for cover. First escorted to the local police station and then carried home by his friends, Brann died the next morning. He was buried in Waco’s Oakwood Cemetery; the monument marking his grave is a square dark stone pedestal with his profile in white stone and the word “Truth” engraved on it, topped with a Brobdingnag-sized stone lantern … which since appears to have been stolen, if the comments on Find a Grave are anything to go by. The publication of the Iconoclast itself was in the hands of Brann’s long-suffering wife, who subsequently sold it … again. The new owners removed the publication to Chicago; likely it sank shortly thereafter, since it was Brann himself whose corrosive genius in print carried it all on his back.
And what of Tom Davis, who chose to ambush and shoot his bete noir in the back? He didn’t last any longer than William Cowper Brann … who in the best tradition of the Wild West – upon being shot in the back and holed through his left lung, drew his own personal Colt revolver and emptied all six shots into Davis … who fell into the doorway of a tobacconist’s establishment. Back in the day, the city fathers insisted that Waco was the Athens of the West … but the locals all called it Six Shooter Junction, for the disagreement between the newspaper editor and the real estate man was only one of many.
The longest night, the shortest day, the turn of the year – and I think likely the oldest of our human celebrations, once our remotest ancestors began to pay attention to things. They would have noticed, and in the fullness of time, erected monumental stones to mark the progression of the sun, the moon, the stars, the seasons, the light and the dark and all of it. The farther north and south you go from the equator, the more marked are the seasonal differences in the length of day and night. Just north of the Arctic Circle in the year I spent at Sondrestrom Greenland, those mid-summer nights were a pale grey twilight – and the midwinter days a mere half-hour-long lessening of constant dark at about midday. It was an awesome experience, and exactly how awesome I only realized in retrospect. How my ancestors, in Europe, or even perhaps in the Middle East, would have looked to the longer days which would come after the turning of the year; the darkness lessening, sunlight and warmth returning for yet another season of growing things in the ground, and in the blessed trees, when the oxen and sheep, and other domesticated critters would bear offspring. And the great primitive cycle of the year would turn and turn again, with the birth of the Christ added into it in due time.
Of course, Christ wasn’t really born in mid-winter – that was not the time when shepherds watched their flocks by night, all seated on the ground – but the promise of His birth, of light and joy and sunshine was added retroactively to those pagan festivities marking the longest night and shortest day. (Likely Christ was born in the early spring.) Christmas and Easter, the pole-stars of the Christian year and liturgy; the birth and the sacrifice; I’ll not get into the other pagan parallel observances. The colors of the paraments and vestments went through their turns – green, red, purple, gold and white, and usually not much linked to the absolute seasons. But still – there you are, the turning of the year, the festivals and observances and all, marking the time and tradition.
I was thinking of this, listening to one of my own personal observances last Wednesday; the live radio broadcast of Nine Lessons and Carols from the Chapel of Kings College, Cambridge. I’ve never been to that service – but I visited the chapel, once upon a time. The chapel was light and beautiful, walls of glass and fragile-seeming stone tracery, a late gothic bubble floating on the gentle green-lawn bank of the Cam. The Nine Lessons and Carols has been a tradition since the end of WWI … a little short of a hundred years, a brief time as the traditions of Christianity go. And I was thinking and wondering as I listened, and wrote and surfed the Internet – how deep do those traditions actually go in these days. One of the internet stories that I scanned – about the established church in Germany – contained a riveting phrase:
Christmas in Germany is like a brightly decorated eggshell with no egg inside. The forms of the holiday are merrily observed, but not the faith. To declare one’s belief in a personal God counts for proof of mental defect here as well as in most parts of Europe, especially among educated people.
A brightly decorated eggshell with no egg inside…which reminded me again of that summer of 1976 when my brother and sister and I did England and Scotland the Youth Hostel and BritRail Pass way. And being well-brought up, we went to church services at the nearest available and interesting-looking church wherever we happened to be on a Sunday morning. To be fair and to acknowledge that anecdote is not data, on most of those Sundays we were well out in the countryside. There usually wasn’t much else to do on a Sunday except go to church … but still, even thirty-five years ago it was perfectly plain to us that most of those churches visited in England had the lovely sanctuaries, soaring music, beautiful, comforting ritual … and mostly empty pews. Only in a couple of Presbyterian churches in Scotland did there seem to be anything like a full house and passionate enthusiasm from either minister or flock.
These days, whenever I see a story in the Daily Mail or in the Telegraph which touches on matters of faith, I can depend on most of the comments posted to be utterly contemptuous of religious belief and faith – especially for Christians of whatever denomination.(To be fair, they are usually contemptuous of Muslims, but also and worryingly – of Jews.) This is both baffling and dispiriting; I’d not be surprised that readers of The Guardian and similar high-toned publications consider sincere religious belief to be infra dig and that appearance in one of those beautiful and historic houses of worship is obligatory only twice yearly and on the occasion of a wedding, christening or funeral, if that. That Daily Mail commenters seem to feel the same … is unsettling. I would guess that if anything, the Daily Mail is aimed towards exactly the demographic – blue-collar, working-class and not educated much beyond the English equivalent of junior collage and trade school. Backbone of the country, salt of the earth, they used to say, somewhat patronizingly. I must note that my three British grandparents and great-aunt Nan were exactly that sort. In the US, that exact demographic is also the backbone of the various established churches. In the main and quietly for the most part, churches are the quiet bulwark of many communities. They offer emotional support in the main, and quite often actual economic support when needed to members in good standing and often to those without any standing at all. This I know from having been involved in church work, and through having lived in Utah (where the LDS is the quiet power behind the throne of ordinary politics).
There is a cultural value in religious belief; a shared belief lending confidence and strength to a culture – strength such as in Poland within living memory led to the downfall of a Communist system – just to name one. Yes, it sometimes lead to petty and hypocritical things – unlovely sanctimony, judgment of neighbors and vicious clannishness with regard to those designated as outsiders being the least of it. But somehow, this seems to have all been drained away, the limited bad and the solid good, all together. As far as Christianity goes, Western Europe does appear as a brightly decorated eggshell with no egg inside – a hollow thing, easily smashed.
Share and discuss – whither Britain and Europe generally?
(Crossposted at www.chicagoboyz.net)
… I think. My crystal ball is out for re-calibration so I cannot be absolutely certain, but I’ve been expecting a crisis or bundle of intersecting catastrophes for some time now. There have been murmurings for the last year regarding the probability of Ebola spreading out of Africa. And now it has happened – a person sick with it has exposed lord only knows how many other people on his way back to Dallas from a visit to Africa. Which is horrific enough, but just getting started. Meanwhile, an enterovirus which attacks the respiratory tract and in some instances has an effect very like that of polio has been here for some months, sickening children – especially those who have respiratory difficulties. It has already killed five – this ailment which was rare in the US heretofore but apparently fairly common in Central America. The supposition is that it was carried into the US with the government-assisted influx of child illegal immigrants earlier this year. Were I the parent of a school-aged child in a public school and exposed to this virus – as many children doubtless have been – I would be furious, or even more furious than I am; that third-world diseases are being casually dispersed throughout communities in the United States for some .deliberate purpose; a Cloward-Pivening of the system, to pack the Democrat party voting rolls, undermine the labor market, or perhaps just to crash those local communities where the illegals have been parked. (Yes, illegal immigrant – I’ll say so and be damned, sir!)
For two years and more I’ve been expecting race-riots in those American cities hardest hit by the double-blow of single-party machine politics and the complete inability of the Obama administration to actually meet any of the sky-high expectations of him held among the black underclass. So, they got to feel good about themselves for a couple of years, before realizing they are worse off than ever. Can’t be Obama’s fault, of course; it must be all that white raaaaacism. St. Louis looks to be ground zero – again – at this point in time. The race card is about played out with me, having known too many good, hardworking and patriotic citizens of color – but I am about to the point of getting that bumper sticker that says, “I wish my ancestors had picked their own damn cotton.” Of course, my American ancestors didn’t grow cotton, and were in fact fiercely abolitionist Quakers. I suspect even the most racially tolerant among them would be loosing patience with the black thug underclass these days. I know now that many of those who comment on various blogs – about the only source on incidents of the knock-out game or flash-mob lootings – are loosing patience as well. So much for content of character, rather than color of skin.
And the Middle East is well-afire now, with ISIS/ISIL/The New Caliphate gleefully pouring more gasoline on the bonfire, and posting regular videos on social media of beheadings and mass executions, recruiting wanna-be-jihadis from across the United States and from Europe. Meanwhile, the Kurds and the Israelis stand nearly alone, while it seems that it is more important that American troops be sent to Africa, either to assist local governments in fighting the Ebola epidemic or to catch it themselves and bring it back to the stateside military units and their families. Hard to tell what the intent of the Obama administration is, these days; one hesitates to attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence or stupidity.
One is reduced to eying the actions of the federal government with wary suspicion these days. After this – and other actions, to include Fast and Furious, the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups, the NPS deliberately barricading national monuments and the ongoing disaster that is Obamacare – who besides those who serve, enable and benefit directly from it can claim with a straight face that our federal government is not motivated by greed and outright malice towards us?
(Cross-posted at Chicagoboyz.net)
Between my English and Scots-Irish-English grandparents, a deep and abiding love of English literature and history, a fair number of English friends, and two long-ago summers sojourns in Britain doing the youth hostel and Brit-Rail Pass, I’ve always looked on the place as my metaphorical second country. I know it about as well as any American could and not actually be in residence there, and I’ve always kept in touch – through English magazines, newspapers and yes, in recent years through websites. Yes, and I score sufficiently high on any number of those quizzes testing American knowledge of British slang to say, with perfect truth, that I speak fluent Brit. (Although I can’t place British regional accents … something to do with acquiring most of this knowledge from the printed page rather than the spoken word.)
So, ever since I happily discovered The Internet, and began following more news than was available in the local newspaper and mainstream print publications, I’d been reading English news sites – starting with, I think, The Times of London and The Spectator – before they put the good stuff behind a pay-wall, and moving on to the Telegraph. I had a print subscription to the Guardian Weekly, for years – and occasionally checked out their website before the burden of wading through waist to neck-deep oceans of political-correctitude got to be too much of a chore. Now my guilty tabloid pleasure is to scan the Daily Mail; I know, in the eyes of the grand and the good, this is about one step above the Star or the National Enquirer. But the Mail and the Enquirer have of late begun to commit regular acts of non-partisan journalism – especially when it comes to the American political scene, in contract to the supposedly more respectable publications.
So, I was already aware of the horrific and ongoing scandal of native English girls – many barely into their teens – being groomed, raped, gang-raped and sex-trafficked by British-born Pakistani men, in Rotherham and elsewhere. The release of an especially damning report on a formal inquiry into the matter has even rattled the cages of bloggers like Wretchard at Belmont Club – and no wonder. The most horrifying aspect isn’t just that girls were routinely raped on a wholesale basis, or that many were blackmailed by threats to their family into cooperating in their own exploitation. Even worse is that the police forces, social workers, and local politicians also knew – but refrained from doing anything about it because they did not want to be accused of racism. It seems that the national media outlets also looked away, for as long as they could. As commenter Andrew X, at this discussion thread explained: The media lying is due to a combination of fears – fear of being called racist, fear of Muslim fanatics, and above all a fear of the public. The establishment sees the working class as ignorant racist morons so they’re afraid to say anything that might give the mob an excuse to go on the rampage. It’s not just the rape gangs that see British people as “white trash”.
Wrap your mind around that, if you please – that those bureaucrats, politicians and investigators whose profession and mission is to protect and defend their fellow citizens, especially the most vulnerable among them – hesitated to act because they were afraid of being called racists, which would be a career-limiter, in these present days. They might get a letter of reprimand, or a tough question or two from local media and a certain degree of heat from the diversity-loving intellectual set. That many of the girls victimized were from working-class families or the English equivalent of trailer-trash, or from troubled backgrounds anyway just adds a dimension of particularly ugly snobbery. In order to maintain the benign mask of multicultural toleration and diversity in place, the ruling managerial and political class essentially sacrificed the children of the ruled class to a sexual Moloch … and kept quiet about it for years. How badly the ordinary British citizens are being served by their ruling class, these days! (Nearly as bad as as Americans are being served when it comes to black on white crime, but that’s a rant for another occasion.) My grandparents would be appalled, and horrified at what has become of the country that they immigrated from 100 years ago, but still held in affection.
(Crossposted at www.chicagoboyz.net)
It’s a German word – it means “frightfulness“ – and it was used, if memory serves and a brief internet search conforms – it was a sort of shorthand for the reprisals exacted by the German Army against civilians during both wars. If not an actual German military field policy in WWI, it had certainly become one by WWII; brutally persecute, torture and execute civilians, and make certain that such horrors became well-known through extensive documentation within the theater of operations, and outside of it. To encourage the others, as the saying goes, but on a grand scale – to make war on a civilian population, once all effective military have departed the area – in hopes of cowing everyone who sees and hears of what brutality has been meted out on the helpless, and especially the helpless.
Was it an explicit policy of the German armies to apply the principle of schrecklichkeit – by that name or another – in the field in those wars?
Whether or not dictated from the highest levels, it did have the desired effect of discouraging armed resistance … at first, anyway. Acts of extreme cruelty against civilians were definitely committed, beginning in Belgium in 1914 – and had a short-term effect in that Belgian resistance to the German juggernaut was, to put it mildly, discouraged with Teutonic efficiency. However, the long-term result was a black mark against Germany, in its conduct of that war which resounded for years and was revived again with the record of Nazi atrocities in the second.
Which brings me to reports of the horrors being committed by the Islamic radicals of ISIS, or ISIL, or whatever they are calling themselves, as they sweep into Mosul and proclaim the establishment of a renewed caliphate. I have not seen much of this reflected in the mainstream media yet – but the worst excesses are seeping out, through minor publications, blogs and social media. Of course, without all those layers of editors and fact-checkers, such excesses could be really happening, or the work of propagandists of varying degrees of sophistication … but for the fact that ISIS/ISIL make no bones about boasting of what they are doing, and sharing the pictorial and video evidence. This link was posted on Samizdata by M. Simon – and if you have a low nausea threshold, don’t go any farther than a couple of pictures. I post the link only so that readers will have an idea of exactly how horrible this situation has become. I await for the inevitable lefty-luvvie comparison to Abu Ghraib, of course.
There are likely two rationales for practicing the 21st century Islamic version of schrecklichkeit in Northern Iraq; the ISIS/ISIL fighters are extreme sadists with the blessings of an ideology which encourages them to do what they enjoy most – torturing and murdering infidels – and bragging about it. And secondly, this demoralizes those unfortunate enough to be in their way, and discourages resistance. For a time, anyway. But schrechlichkeit has a short shelf life, once those whom it is practiced on realize that there is no way out, and only one way to fight back. Eventually, as the Allies discovered in the Pacific in WWII – there comes the understanding that those who have so relished inflicting cruelty on the helpless deserve no mercy at all, and will receive none, once the tables are turned upon them. Surrender is not an option at this point – and in future neither will mercy.
(Cross-posted at Chicagoboyz.net)
I’ve been surfing my usual internet hangouts over the last week or so – in between working on various editing, formatting and sales projects for the Tiny Publishing Bidness – so although I did surf, and read and observe reports on a number of different and rather disturbing events – I didn’t have time to write anything about them until after I had finished the biggest of the current projects on my plate.
The biggest of them was the new-old range war of the Bundy ranch. I suppose that technically speaking, the Fed Gov had some small shreds of technical justification in demanding grazing fees … but the longer one looked at the whole of L’affaire Bundy, the worse it looked … which is doubtless why the Fed Gov backed down. A tactical retreat, of course; The optics of a shoot-out between the minions of the Fed Gov and the various Bundy supporters would not have been good, for Harry Reid and his clan and friends most of all, although they may eventually act – seeing that they have a position which will be at risk by tolerating defiance.
First it was state land, then it was Fed Gov property, and all this supposed to be for the benefit of desert tortoises? Dad did an early life study of the California desert tortoise, back in the day. Tough little critters, and seemingly in no particular danger of extinction in the Mojave, unless and until they paved over the desert with solar panels, which was why Dad was tasked with the research. (He went out into the desert near Needles, California, every six months for a number of years, rounded up the randomly-assorted selection of 50 tortoises fitted with radio-transmitter devices, and hauled them into a veterinarian’s office for an x-ray, and for other examinations. No, I don’t know of anything else that Dad discovered, peculiar to the tortoises, only that they seemed pretty easy-going about the whole process…)
Say, the Bundy family has been running cattle on that range since the late 19th century, and now they are the last ranch family standing in that part of the world? Hmm, says the observer, upon seeing a sudden interest by the political powers that be in otherwise pretty unspectacular desert property owned by someone else. This plot was played for laughs in Blazing Saddles – I guess this time around, Harry Reid is doing the Hedley Lamar part. A bit ago, one of the regular commenters, (Subotai Bahadur, if memory serves or perhaps it was Wretchard at Belmont Club), speculated that the cold civil war would turn hot in earnest at the point where a locally respectable, well-thought of and otherwise respectable good citizen was unjustly and viciously brutalized by the minions of the Fed Gov, or as in the case of the following – by a governmental body or several acting in collusion. As a note to L’affaire Bundy, a lot of people not living in flyover states, or in rural areas – have no idea of how heavy the hand of the BLM or the Forest Service lies upon those in the rural west. Living in Texas, I have little personal experience in this regard, since by a historical twist of good fortune, most of Texas is privately owned. One does hear stories, though. Do not underestimate the resentment felt by residents of western states toward representatives of the Fed Gov when it comes to the BLM or the Forest Service. There is a pile of dry tinder there, well-soaked in gasoline, only wanting a lit match or two.
The second local story of which I speak – is the case of a family in Colorado who own – for now – a tiny cabin, a little island of private property within the boundary of a national park. The Forest Service appears to be colluding with the local county to confiscate the property, with the stated purpose of making the park all pristine, by means of eminent domain. No, this park is the preserve of the general public who don’t have any existing property rights, so for the good of all, the property of the one must be confiscated. This will be another stick of tinder for the National Forest Service, by the way.
The third instance is a curious one, of a reclusive collector of a wide variety of artifacts in a little out of the way neighborhood in Rush County, Indiana. Suddenly the FBI is descending on a modest house and supposedly confiscating certain items for examination … and what? The owner appears to be a wholly respectable collector who acquired the items legally, through a long career as a missionary and as an archeological enthusiast? What gives, really? The few news stories concerting the matter are unrevealing when it comes to the question of – what brought this on? Why now? And why is the elderly owner being treated as if he is an international art thief with millions of dollars in looted Nazi art stashed in a warehouse somewhere? And would the same consideration be given to a multimillionaire with a private gallery and a house in the Hamptons? Especially if he were a generous contributor to acceptable Dem Party political causes? Yes, one really does wonder.
The final story regards the recent dismaying policy of the IRS to scoop up tax refund monies from descendants of people who – mirable dictu – are found to owe money to the Fed Gov. Usually, according to this story in the Washington Post (who astonishingly, now appear to be committing acts of journalism) the debts were incurred by long-deceased parents and grandparents, and the legal means established for going after such long-time debts was in an obscure provision of a farm bill passed some years ago. Well, as Speaker Pelosi once so airily remarked, we would have to pass the bill to find out what was in it. This case is curiously illustrative.
I take away from all this a somewhat more discouraging insight – that the various offices of the Fed Gov now seem to see themselves as above the original intent of the law.
Which would be worrying enough; but the underlying tendency that I sense in reviewing all this is a bit more worrying, as a property-owner and one with the odd bit of original art and small artifacts collected in legitimate sale from distant lands, as well as having parents and grandparents who might in the distant past have been briefly in debt to the Fed Gov. Extrapolating from these separate stories, one can’t help coming to the conclusion that if you have something in the way of real property (even just as paltry a thing as an income tax return) and the Fed Gov has a reason for wanting it – they will come and get it.
If such is the case, we are not citizens any longer – but sheep to be sheared whenever the Fed Gov needs a few more pennies. In which case, the Fed Gov sees their prime duty as mulcting the citizens of what items of value they possess, by fair means or foul (usually foul and by the misuse of the laws they choose to enforce), in order to pay for the towering edifice of the Fed Gov as we know it, or to pay off those to whom they owe favors. Discuss.
(cross-posted at Chicagoboyz.net)
Found through a comment at Neo-Neocon.
A reminder of what Britain used to be.
Not to speak ill of the dead. But in the case of Fred Phelps, of the loathsome Westwood Baptist Church (which actually had no connection whatsoever with the formal Baptist church establishment save the name, and that was doubtless a bit of self-serving publicity. I’d lay any amount of money that the regular Baptists would have liked to have paid a pretty penny to make him promise to call his nasty little sect anything but Baptist … where was I? Oh, back to the convoluted sentence…) I could be tempted to make an exception.
God is infinitely merciful, and He is the ultimate judge, so I’ll leave it to Him to decide if Fred Phelps should be eternally deep-fried like a basket of French fries in the everlasting boiling lake of Hell … but I would argue that he richly deserves that fate for several reasons: One – he and his loathsome little sect coldly and deliberately used the pain and grief of other people. This was either to torment them for their own micro-sectarian jollies, as a means of getting in front of the TV cameras – or provoking outraged mourners into laying violent hands upon their disgusting and manipulative persons for the purposes of extorting money out of them by means of a lawsuit. All three reasons are sufficiently loathsome, IMHO, to justify hellfire. This judgment is not mine to make. It was not theirs, either, but this realization didn’t seem to instill any degree of Christian humility in the members of the cult.
Two – their actions noted in the above paragraph certainly did not reflect any credit on the Protestant denominations, or on American Christians, generally. Likely, they served to drive ordinary people away from an understanding of God and his many mansions.
On the other hand, I am told that Fred Phelps was a long-time Democrat party activist. So he can and probably will go on voting. There is life after death, you know.
… or, haven’t I been to this rodeo before? Why, yes I have, and not all that long ago, either. First I called to mind was poor artless Paula Deen, celebrity cook-book author, metaphorically burned at stake in the marketplace of public opinion. But the Great Duck Dynasty Imbroglio of 2013 reminds me very much more of the Great Chick-Fil-A Ruckus of 2012, wherein some fairly mild published remarks by the CEO of the company sent the usual right-thinking suspects into a frenzy of shrieking like demented howler monkeys. Boycott, shun, divest and/or fire was the general ukase – for they are hateful hating bigots who shouldn’t be tolerated by truly tolerant people … and then the funniest thing happened. People went out and deliberately bought lunch, dinner and breakfast at their local Chick-fil-A outlet, to the utter chagrin of the usual right-thinking suspects. Chick-Fil-A nationwide had the best darned week they ever had, as far as sales went, and lines of hungry customers stretching for blocks.
Among the blessing that is about biggest in my inventory of them – aside from finishing out my final military tour in Texas, which I didn’t much like at the time, since it was third on my list of choices. Dammit, the personnel who dictated broadcaster assignments were supposed to turn themselves inside out, giving retiring broadcasting personnel their first choice of a final assignment location since they could then do things like buy a house and work up local connections to facilitate the post-retirement second career which the customary long stretches of overseas/remote duty tours usually didn’t allow an opportunity to do. It turned out for the best, although I certainly didn’t see it so at the time. The main thing is that not only am I now glad that I am retired and long past being recalled to active duty (like they couldn’t get enough military broadcaster talent that they have to recall a slightly overweight lady of certain age) but I am glad that Blondie is also long past recall. And that she didn’t sign up for Reserve duty, either.
There, I said it. I am glad both of us are no longer on active duty; and I am also glad that the handful of friends that I kept in touch with post-retirement are retired. The hints and portents which have emerged from the military machine over the last year or so do not give cause for assurance; a portion of the tippy-top echelons in the service being forced by convenient circumstance to retire at the top of their game is, I think the most obvious harbinger. God knows how many other of lesser rank, or long-experienced NCOs are also seeing the writing on the wall and walking away. Certainly note won’t be made in individual cases. Military operations in Afghanistan appear to be going about as well as every other historical foreign military operation ever did – and I should like to point out here and now that I never really expected much else, even back in 2003. Keep the money flowing, and a couple of units of Special Forces to thump the obvious Talibunnies when they got too obstreperous, secure Kabul and some of the other population centers, and generally administer to the theater with a very light hand. Let the indigenes sort out their own salvation and keep them from damaging anyone else. Of course, our current administration, not known for any other political and international savvy than it needs to keep the Chicago political machine functioning, thought otherwise. Now there is a steady trickle of metal coffins coming back, to practically no notice in the news media than that in the hometowns of the deceased. (Anyone know if the current president has a private meeting with every family/next of kin to those killed in combat? The usual search engines are … unproductive of answers in this regard.)
Then of course, there is the one-two punch of allowing openly gay personnel to serve also openly and with every prospect of the same benefits and courtesies as the heterosexual, and the ever-green question of permitting women in direct, full-frontal infantry-style combat specialties. Both of these moves by the current administration were immensely popular among that portion of the civilian population which didn’t actually have to deal with realities on the ground as experienced by serving military. Believe me when I tell you this – it’s a great deal more complicated than it appears when discussed in the faculty lounge. Really-oh, truly-oh.
Allow a slightly overweight and defiantly non-combat-specialty retired career AF NCO to provide enlightenment. Firstly, at the grunt-level, my own service and specialty didn’t give a rip about what you did with your significant other in bed, as long as you weren’t doing it in the road, or on the base commander’s front lawn. No, really – we didn’t care all that much. Just – don’t demand rapturous approval of your life-style, which from my own personal observation and the best figures available, only involves about 2-3% of the general population. No, really – a dismayingly large proportion of the public thinks that a quarter to a third of the population are gay, but that’s because they are only so LOUD about it. I don’t know which percentage of that 2-3% are confrontational to the point of hysteria about demanding that the rest of us line up and clap like a gaggle of performing seals – but I suspect there are actually not many, and very few in the active and serving military.
No – some deep dark secret-revealing here; I am about 96% certain that the true reason that the military didn’t go out and embrace the rainbow agenda is that administratively, they barely had a lock on heterosexual harassment; mostly of males doing it to females, but now and again the other way around. It was about as much as they could do to keep the heteros from jumping each other and using upper rank to exploit the lower. The last thing that anyone in authority wanted to see was even more sexual harassment cases on their personal docket – or because the military is still a preponderantly male preserve – to see it turn into something like a state prison, only with snappy uniforms for all, not just the prison guards. A lot of military life is lived in confined quarters, and with a severely authoritarian structure in place. The scope for abuse of the lower-ranking is incredibly wide. Again – turning a large structure inside out and upside down for the benefit of a microscopically small but vocally outsized minority – only a community activist and former college lecturer could think it a good idea, or that there wouldn’t be problems down the line – including morale problems. More about the morale problems later.
As for women-in-combat; back in my day the Air Force was pretty ecumenical about it all. Because it was … the Air Force. Technical and brainy and all that stuff; no very great degree of upper body strength required for most of the AF specialties. After the Vietnam War (say from about the early 1980s), the only Air Force specialty confined to strictly XY Americans in good health and medical fitness for military service was that of para-rescue specialists, and if memory serves, of advance AC controllers and spotters. One required a great deal of upper body strength and a tolerance for dealing with dead bodies in variable states of decay, and the other with Special Forces-degree skills at humping a heavy pack through the brush while avoiding or dealing with hostiles who didn’t have your best interests at heart. Other wise, most of the Air Force military specialties could be performed as easily by women as men. Not so your basic grunt rifleman, although there have been women – especially Marine women who had the basic fitness, were taught the skills and could very well cope with incidental combat when it came their way. But full-time, all the time and round the clock for indefinite periods of time … er – no. This is not to downplay the courage and skills of women who have served as such in the most recent round of wars, especially those who performed heroically when the hot lead was flying; but they are a small percentage and self-selected. In the long run, about all that we can count on is that training standards will be loosened to accommodate women, the guys will resent the hell out of them, and very likely women will die … to prove a point upheld by academics and politicians who will never in a blue moon come anywhere closer to the military than a base open house.
I am also hearing rumblings regarding balancing the rights of atheists with regard to Christians in the military, and frankly I am a little perplexed at that. Looking backwards at my own career, it didn’t seem to me as if believing and practicing Christians of whatever denomination were a big enough percentage of the force to give anyone who wasn’t any kind of heartburn, even overseas. Anecdote is not data – but those of us in the habit of attending weekly services, or going as far as regular Bible study were pretty much in a minority, considered against the non-observant. Making a habit of proselytizing your peers was considered bad form – and frowned on, for one of higher rank to proselytizing those in lower ranks. I did know a couple of atheists or people who claimed to be, and there was one young man whom it was whispered, belonged to a Wiccan coven – which was no sweat off mine, since it meant that he had a social life after all. I suspect that it is the attitude of believing Christians with regard to gays that is driving the sudden upsurge of hostility to the openly devout.
These four things – the purge of the upper ranks, dropping of don’t ask-don’t tell, women in combat specialties, Afghanistan – are all affecting morale in the services, to one degree or another. Morale, in an individual or in a unit of any size, is a delicate thing; hard to build and easily destroyed. I’ve been in units which had good morale and a sense of mission, a leadership cadre whom we trusted and in turn trusted us. I’ve also been in units which didn’t have good morale, where we scraped by from day to day just hoping to escape being made a scapegoat for a leadership-created disaster. At those units, I counted the days until I rotated out. I expect there are a fair number of serving NCOs and officers now doing the same.
(cross-posted at chicagoboyz.net)
I guess that I must still be an astonishingly naïve person – for although I fully expected riots in inner cities across the US in the wake of the jury in the Zimmerman trial coming to the decision that they did – I did not expect the veritable tsunami of calculated hatred and willful ignorance washing over the mainstream media, four days later. I was astonished that the six jurors stuck to their guns, so to speak, and delivered what I consider a just verdict, although that might just be my own inner white bigotry speaking. Given what was gone over in painstaking detail in the courtroom, I can’t see that they could have come to anything else, but I guess that logic and obedience to the letter of the law are all constructs of racial superiority, and it’s all the fault of those jurors that they couldn’t bring themselves to do the will of the mob.
That mob, of course – and I include a number of black celebutards and so-called intellectual lights among them – believe with the faith of holy writ everything which was first put about in the national media regarding the case. And everything which was first put about with regard to George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin and their fatal encounter on a rainy Florida evening – turned out to be wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong – so wrong that it can’t possibly be anything but a deliberate attempt to mislead on a grand scale. The professional black activists pushing the matter as they have are promoting what a propagandist like Josef Goebbels called ‘the big lie’ – no matter how outrageous the falsehood is – just repeat it often enough and from the mouths of as many as possible – figures of authority especially – and eventually the lie is accepted as the truth.
It has been educational to see ‘the big lie’ in action this last year. It is also interesting and educational to see a high-tech lynch mob gearing up, and to realize that the color of the faces involved don’t seem to make it any more or less ugly and bigoted.
A day may come when the courage of men fails,
when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.
An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down,
but it is not this day!
This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth,
I bid you stand, Men of the West! – Aragorn’s speech, before the Black Gates
It always comes back to Tolkien, doesn’t it? A man who lived through the hell of the WWI trenches, who recalled from first hand a time when you could use the term ‘Great Britain’ without ironical quotes around it, a time when there were very real social issues and pathologies to criticize and to try and deal fairly with – but also a time when the common people took enormous pride and confidence in what they were, in their country, in themselves, in their institutions – and in turn, the various institutions looked toward the general welfare of the commonality. I like the 19th century for that very reason, both the British and American versions. It’s a kind of mental refuge to me, these days. For all its pathologies and shortcomings – citizens of both countries had cultural self-confidence. In the main, a self-confidence based on real accomplishment is a hell of a lot more attractive than a pitiful, helpless and apologetic bleating about ones’ societal and cultural shortcomings.
Really, whom would you look to; someone like Isaac Kingdom Brunel, or Lord Gordon … or a cringing and eternally self-abasing creature like Uriah Heep? Never mind that the first two are real, the third a literary creation; there are plenty of vicious, ostentatiously humble Uriah Heeps now active in political life, and plenty of them – a sufficiency of them, actually – infiltrated into academia and in the media. They’ve been doing their destructive work for decades, always with the best intentions, and ostentatiously for the good of us all. They preen themselves on this, and make good careers out of it.
Only, somehow and mysteriously, it has had such malign results as the vicious and very well documented murder of a British soldier by Islamic jihadi muppets in front of a large crowd, in the capital city of what was once a proud empire. Wrap your mind about that. A public street adjacent to a military base; they bash him with a car first, and then carve him up with knives, swagger about the street declaiming on their purpose, shouting Islamic slogans … and wait for the armed officers of the law to appear. Who did arrived, twenty minutes later, when the victim had doubtless bled out – some news reports have it that his head was cut off, which would certainly remove any urgency in responding with medical aid. Meanwhile the murders, with bloody hands swagger about, explaining why they did it. Three women come forward, and I accept that this took enormous courage on their part – given that this horrible event took place out of the clear blue. I also accept that the initial witnesses to this atrocity were shocked, disbelieving … but that any impulse on the part of members of the public to intervene in any meaningfully effective way was likely squelched on the instant of being considered. The duty of any good British citizen these days, or so I have gathered, is to to be passive, and never to resist being robbed, raped or murdered, since such resistance is likely to injure or inconvenience the robber, rapist or murderer. This precept of non-resistance has been enforced over the last few decades by prosecution and convictions obtained against those who actually did resist outrages against their own or others’ property and persons. The end result was what we saw this week in Woolwich; no resistance, no rescue. Thus are a free people reduced to serfitude. Pity, that – but I am certain that the ruling classes like it very much that way.
(Crossposted at Chicagoboyz.net)
Having now developed what seems to be an annoying allergy-cough in the last couple of months, I have had reason to visit the Fort Sam Houston primary care facility more times lately than I had in years. I think I must have had about a dozen primary care providers in that time, who came and went without me ever laying eyes on them. In the time since I last had reason to seek medical care or a prescription renewal, BAMC itself compounded, split and compounded again like a cell undergoing mitosis – to the point where they moved the primary care clinic and the laboratory facilities which supported it out of the massive brick Skinner-box maze and onto a free-standing and very modern clinic building on Fort Sam itself. Where, in another couple of years, I wouldn’t be the least surprised to see undergo a mitosis of its own…
Anyway – walking into that building through the main door means that I walk past the serried array of pictures of the chain o’command, which includes a picture of our current president. The sight of this almost makes me start coughing again. Perhaps in light of the hearings this week regarding l’affaire Benghazi, I should begin coming in through the other door. I might actually begin to cough so hard that I throw up, whenever I see the current C’in’C’s picture, posted there.
I am actually glad to be retired at this point and that my daughter also completed her enlistment a good few years ago. Given current conditions, we are both glad to no longer be on active service, and past the point of being recalled. No, this administration must be a horror, to be any rank at all over E-2 or GS whatever in the State department … and I speak as one who did my first hitch during the Carter Administration. Say what you will about ol’ Jimmuh (and I can say a lot about that sanctimonious, double-dealing anti-Semitic creep) at least, you never got the feeling that he as the Commander in Chief would sell out military members and State Department functionaries for the sake of keeping his own political reputation bright an squeaky-clean. (He only went for that after he departed high office.) And if Jimmuh himself wasn’t the answer to a voter’s prayer, the top echelons of his government were stocked with responsible and experienced grown-ups. At least they mounted a military strike force to free the hostages taken in Teheran, whereas our current administration couldn’t even find it within themselves to do that.
Just as a personal aside, rumors had it during their administration that the Clintons – especially Hillary – didn’t much care for the military. And despite Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden making a show of attending to the moral and well-being of military family members, I very much suspect that the Obamas actually despise the military ranks. I should not at all be surprised to find out that things such as ending Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell, permitting women in direct combat roles – even the rumors of Christians being disciplined for evangelizing inappropriately – were intended rather to sabotage morale and discipline among the military. Knowing that in the event of things going all pear-shaped, the highest levels in the chain of command will hang you out to dry, have a photo-op with the next of kin over your coffin, and then lie to cover up their own incompetence and lack of imagination … well, that is just the cherry on the top of the whole rancid sundae.
Such has been the sad state of our very own dear media creatures in these United States lately that I have begun again to read the English newspapers, or their on-line iteration – mostly the Telegraph and the Daily Mail, and mostly because the worthy reporters for those establishments don’t seem to give a damn or not if they are ever invited to interview members of the Obama administration or not and thus have no inclination to soft-ball their coverage of American political matters as regards the present occupant of the White House and his administrative flunkies. Frankly, this is rather refreshing, although the Daily Mail site seems to be regularly curated by people who can’t spell, are innocently unscathed by knowledge of the customary rules of grammar and have a penchant for semi-weekly stories about well-trodden aspects of WWII posted as if they were the latest word, evah!
Anyway, one of the regular tropes on the Daily Mail are stories about neighbors from hell; sometimes about spectacular neighborhood feuds between people whom you thought might have known better (some of whom seem at best to be deranged), but most reliably about another kind of neighbor; the ‘council house and violent’ kind having it out with their hapless neighbors. I presume, from the context of the Mail, and from various other sources (movies and popular genre novels like this one, and this one) that ‘council house’ equates to the American version of public housing, or more especially ‘Section 8’ houses … and the presence of certain clients of social services in public or Section 8 are not particularly welcome among their neighbors. Not that I wish to be particularly snotty about this; but any fool can tell you that in a working-class neighborhood of house-proud home owners, the sudden presence of a family moving in with their rent paid by public funds is not often a very often a good or a welcome thing, with or without any racial element attached. Especially if the new neighbors are inconsiderate, destructive and hostile (or oughtright criminal) – and if it turns out that nothing much can be done to dislodge them, as seems to often be the case in once-great Britain. (Unlike the landlord in this story – who has a fine appreciation for a responsible kind of tenant-mix in his properties.)
One of the most recent of these stories – and one of the most depressing is this one; of a career welfare recipient with pink-dyed hair who has never, ever held a paying job or apparently a legal marriage, but who has still managed to birth and raise at government expense, no less than eleven offspring. One of her current neighbors had the most viciously accurate comment; describing her uterus as a clown-car. At any rate, this woman seems to have gotten the local council to place her and her spawn at some considerable expense in a custom-renovated house. Why Ms Heather Frost is to be deserving of this is a question unanswered or perhaps better yet, unasked by the council housing authorities, although I’ll bet a lot of her prospective neighbors are demanding to know. She doesn’t seem to have any particular qualities which would justify this tender consideration, other than being warm, breathing, indiscriminant with her favors and embarrassingly fertile. And it also appears that she and her offspring made life such a hell for one of their unlucky neighbors – an elderly widow – that the poor woman couldn’t even turn up the sound on her television without inviting regular, sustained abuse and vandalism. This wasn’t the only account of this kind of situation, oh, no – a couple of months ago, another such neighbor, this time a well-educated and relatively young university lecturer was driven to commit suicide by a similarly feral lot of neighbors. (Can’t find the link – but remember reading it.)
What a hell the local housing authorities create for working-class good neighbors, I must say; it’s almost as if they revel in assigning the hellish, destructive and improvident to live among them – as if cutting loose people like Ms Frost and her brood are a punishment for responsible homeowners who don’t have the wherewithal to respond by moving away, or hiring effective legal help. It’s purely a pity that hellish council house tenants and Section 8 recipients with form can’t all be sent to live in a neighborhood all together, where all they can do is make each other miserable, instead of blameless and quiet-loving working-class homeowners. Or better yet – right next door to those housing authorities
It’s kind of creepy, seeing events in real life pattern themselves after thriller novels and Hollywood movies; proof of anything that God – or the Fates – do have an ironic sense of humor. Like certain other bloggers and commenters I am on my knees with gratitude that the asteroid/comet fragment/whatever which detonated upon hitting the atmosphere over the Urals a few days ago did not hit at the height of the Cold War. That would likely have set off a chain of unfortunate events, for which those surviving remnants of the old Soviet high command would have been very sorry afterwards … well, maybe they would have been sorry, but on the other hand, opportunities are not to be wasted. Still – a repeat of Tunguska is fascinating enough, and so is the fact that it was caught on so many dash-cams and CCTV cameras. It’ll be as hard to blame it on global warming as it would be on the US, although some are apparently trying their best. But the wittiest observation on the whole matter simply has to go to a commenter at the Belmont Club, who observed “In Post-Soviet Russia, SPACE EXPLORES YOU!”
I was a teenager when the Manson murders went down, in the autumn of 1969 – of course, the cruel and inexplicable murder of a movie star and several of her friends made all the headlines, and had lots of law-abiding citizens looking over their shoulders and being very careful about locking the doors and windows of their homes at night. It wasn’t until some time later that the associated murders of an elderly retired couple also hit the headlines of the LA Times, and other national newspapers. A blood-drenched, hippy cult with a weirdly charismatic leader had committed those murders in order – so they claimed – to trigger a devastating racial war, which they termed ‘helter-skelter’ from a Beatles song moderately popular at the time. Well, it was the late 1960ies; after assassinations, race riots and anti-war protests, ordinary citizens were pretty shell-shocked. A lot of extremely deranged people held equally deranged beliefs back then, and continued to do so for a good few years – cults and communes like Jim Jones’ Peoples’ Temple, for instance. My parents often resignedly repeated the truism about the US having been tilted at a steep angle, and all the unmoored nutcases, nonconformists and grifters sliding west and ending up in California. Having both been born there, and with recollections of how it used to be, they would grumble about how they wished such people would slide the hell back to where they came from, and stop embarrassing hard-working and relatively conservative citizens of the Golden State.
Helter-skelter didn’t happen – well, not then, anyway. Reading this week about Christopher Dorner, the ex-LAPD cop and former Navy reserve officer, with a chip on his shoulder the size of an an aircraft carrier and a string of revenge murders on his slate … now, I could see helter-skelter happening now, forty years later. A lot of things have happened over in Los Angeles, not many of them for the better. One of them is that the LAPD are nowhere near as respected now as they were formerly. It might very well be that they were no more or less competent or corrupt then than they are now, but it is the public perception of them now that sets the bitter tone. Corruption scandals like the slow train-wreck of Rampart division, the beating of Rodney King, the perception of racism among police officers which allowed OJ Simpson’s legal team to plead for acquittal on those grounds … all of those incidents and accidents have blotted the LAPD’s reputation in the eyes of ordinary citizens of all races.
So, is Christopher Dorner a good and moral man driven mad by the system, or a race-card pulling manipulator with a very hot temper? Big boastful talker or a cold and calculating planner of a campaign of murder? The various stories in the news about the matter have it both ways and every gradation in between. One can take away anything that one wishes to see in his posted manifesto; in any case, the man has gone Rambo, and gone to ground, leaving at least fifty families under police protection, and three people – who looked nothing at all like him, but merely had the misfortune to be driving pickup trucks with a likeness to his vehicle – injured by panicky LAPD officers opening fire. Where is he now? Lost and dying of exposure in the woods at Big Bear, or blending into the background in a comfortable hide-out in Compton. Heading into Canada, or into Mexico, or just laying low until the row dies down? When and if he emerges again, and encounters the LAPD – or any other law enforcement body – the chances of it ending quietly with an uncontested arrest are pretty small. And should it end quietly or not – what are the chances of riots breaking out, regardless?
(crossposted at chicagoboyz.net)
In the foundation-legend of the Swiss confederacy, Alberect Gessler was a cruel and tyrannical overlord installed by the Austrians, who installed his hat atop a pole in the public marketplace and decreed that all should bow to it … to his hat, not merely his person. Such a declaration was, I think, a way of rubbing in his authority over the common citizens – indeed, rubbing their noses in the fact that he could make them do so, and do so in front of everyone else.
Having read now and again of small businesses run by devout Christians, such event venues, a bakery doing wedding cakes, or a wedding photographer, even a bed and breakfast refusing to provide a good or a service to a gay couple, I am lead to wonder if this isn’t a kind of Gessler’s hat, metamorphosed to the 21st century. Of course, in this best of all possible worlds, anyone’s money ought to be as good as anyone elses’. And in the case of some of the complainants, loud comparisons are made, comparing the way in which small businesses dealt – or didn’t deal at all – with customers of the African-American variety, fifty years and more ago. Left unsaid, but still implied is a kind of smug satisfaction that devout Christians will be called to heel just as unrepentant racists were.
Somehow, I can’t be so certain of that outcome. Browbeating and bringing suit against the religiously observant into compliance with society’s dictates most usually has the opposite of effect intended, even if superficial compliance is eventually gained. Devout and observant Christians do make up a larger portion of the population than gays – who for all their prominence in media and entertainment, still only comprise less than 3% of the population overall – if that. African-Americans, give or take a couple of percentage points either way are at about %12, which is probably not a market segment which can be ignored by someone selling services or a product.
So, can you refuse service to a member of the public, and for what reason? Do you need a reason? Or will just a polite demurral do, such as “I am so sorry, we can’t fit that into our schedule” ? Making the question a little more complicated – will any religion do? Suppose a Jewish photographer didn’t want to photograph a Catholic quinceanera celebration, or a Muslim-owned halal caterer refused to provide food for a specifically Jewish or Christian event? Seriously, even if such a thing happened in the real world, I can’t imagine the customer getting too bent out of shape by the refusal – unless the refusal was couched in less than tactful language.
So what are we to make of stories such as those that I linked, and others of the same sort? I am pretty sure that it’s not so much a question of civil rights for a very small, but socially influential minority at issue here. Rather, it’s a metaphorical Gesseler’s Hat, for which is not sufficient to merely tolerate – all must be seen to approve, and in loud voices in the public square. Discuss.
It appears that once again, Sgt. Mom has to bring out the Mallet of Loving Correction that she has shamelessly copied from John Scalzi, and explain the whole concept of ‘freedom of thought’ and it’s fraternal twin, ‘freedom of expression’ to the inhabitants of those (mostly but not always) quarters of the world usually known as ‘Islamic-run hellholes.’
See here, we in the western world are known for a good many things – some of them good, some of them bad – but one of them is a sense of logic, and another is the freedom to speak our thoughts, suppositions and criticisms on any matter. Openly, freely, and through any medium available to us … without fear of prosecution by the forces of law and order. Unless, of course, we are inciting violence … umm, which to put it plainly, you guys seems to have a problem with. Actually, some of our own very dear Established and Housebroken Lapdog Media have a problem with that too, but that is an issue for another day.
And the range of topics which we may freely discuss and criticize includes practically anything, and everything; the current television season of the Alphabet Networks, the fiscal policies of our current administration, the horrible dress sense of the Kardashians, and the messy love lives of celebutards and neighbors … and religion does not get a pass. Scientology doesn’t get a pass, Catholics and Evangelical Christians don’t get a pass, Mormons don’t get a pass, and Islam especially doesn’t get a pass, much as you appear to wish otherwise. Yes, I know that the lickspittle media, our equally lickspittle State department, and Administrations past and present all made polite noises about the so-called Religion of Peace, and that Ibrahim Cooper and his CAIR-bots go off on a royal toot, and that Saudi Arabia have bought themselves into various academic establishments and existing mosques at the drop of a Danish Mo-toon … but Islam as currently practiced in such charming locales as Pakistan, Egypt, Somalia, Iran, Lebanon, Thailand, Indonesia, Detroit and certain cities in Britain and France is not in the least attractive to those of us in the Western tradition.
I don’t care how many museum exhibits, or how many TV documentaries about the marvelousness of the Golden Age of Islam get thrown at us like so much expensive confetti. The misogyny, the brutal practice of sharia, the Jew-hatred, the ignorance, the backwardness, the prosecution of other faiths, all speak louder than the occasional public relations offensive. … So we have critical things to day about it. Especially after seeing the stacks of dead bodies left in the wake of militant Islam. A lot of us can’t help noticing, and wondering – if Islam is so damn peaceful, how come all the dead bodies? For the sake of good manners, most of us refrain from saying so bluntly to those of our acquaintance who we know are Muslim … but what does our good manners get us?
You see, my dear little Libyan and Egyptian chickadees; we are going to discuss this, and we are going to be critical – on line and in home-made movies, in lectures and in books. Have tantrums all you like. Go so far as murdering ambassadors, blowing up tourists, inciting riots and inciting the murder of artists, writers, bloggers, Christian activists for exercising our rights of free speech – even speech offensive to you – and at some point in the near future, we might not be quite so polite. Those media, academic and political figures who have been the worst toadies … they might very well stop being polite also. Not holding my breath on that one, though.
Something on the internet is disrespectful to Islam? Have a cup of coffee, Mohammed, and get over it.
Taking it into my head to go to the local Chick-fil-A last Wednesday was another one of those odd things, like getting involved in the Tea party which happened because of a friend. In this case, a purely on-line friend; the friend who inveigled me into attending an early San Antonio Tea Party planning committee meeting was a blog-friend whom I had actually met on a couple of social occasions, so when he said, ‘Hey, we need someone to write press releases and stuff, and you’re a writer and you were a broadcaster, so can ya?’ And being a stubborn independent libertarian-conservative sort, it seemed like a good idea. That the planned event very shortly turned into an all-Texas blow-out with 15,000 to maybe as many as 20,000 in attendance … well, I didn’t have anything much to do with that … I just kept my head down and sent out the press releases and made myself available for local media interviews.
So, I got caught up in Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day in the same manner, when Sarah Hoyt, another writer-blogger (who is in favor of same-sex marriage) wrote a long post condemning at length the way the militant pro-same-sex marriage advocates were going about it. She held that ganging up on Chick-fil-A was an appallingly bad move, being based upon not much at all save a mild remark by the president of the firm regarding favoring traditional marriage in an interview published in an relatively obscure denominational publication. She predicted that this would alienate and infuriate people across the political spectrum, and that it would backfire hugely … which seems to have been the case. It is only fitting that she would be a writer of science fiction, a genre which lends a boost to ones’ powers of accurate prophecy.
I wonder myself if the better than huge turn-out in support of Chick-fil-A isn’t at least as much of a cultural seismic shock as the various Tea Party gatherings in 2009 were to the political arena. Certainly there was the same air of friendly cheerfulness and purpose about the other customers in the Chick-fil-A outlet where I went on August 1 as I remember from the first huge Alamo Plaza Tea Party rally. No kidding – it was a fun gathering, like the world’s biggest and happiest block party. There were whole families there – and it was as if the plaza was full of good friends whom you had never met before. So was the Chick-fil-A; and from the comments and posted reports on the internet it was pretty much like that all over. The illusion that it was some kind of grotesque grotesque and hateful mass exercise in gay-bashing must be difficult to maintain, in the face of so many actual participants who saw nothing of the sort. Just so the Tea Partiers were constantly accused of being dumb, disorganized, violent red-necked racists. This meme was so constantly pushed by mainstream media over the last three years – against considerable evidence to the contrary as well as the experience of actual participants – that a good portion of the public now readily believes the worst of the Tea Party. It goes without saying, such is the weary cynicism of experience, that the mainstream news organs of course painted the militant gay advocates who responded to Support Chick-fil-A Day in the most favorable colors, in spite of vandalism, harassment and generally distasteful conduct … just as the Occupy Whatever Street activists had breathlessly positive press in spite of turning their various occupied locations into unsanitary, lawless and repellant hellholes. I’m not even surprised by this tendency on the part of the mainstream media any more.
It is interesting that this all happened just as the self-organized, social-media savvy Tea Party adherents are managing to elect more and more fiscally-responsible, free-market favorable strict Constitutionalists into political office. I disagree with those commenters who hold that the Chick-Fil-A thing was brief distraction from the series matters at hand; this might be one of those huge turning points. The chain may be just another national fast-food outlet – but their local franchise owners are deeply-embedded in their communities, where apparently they do a lot of quiet good works, and are looked upon favorably by loyal customers, and their employees. To cynically and carelessly malign and insult them, just as the Tea Party is maligned and insulted is every bit as much a blunder as Sarah suggested. Beware the cold anger of quiet and patient people who have been pushed once too many times. Those who stood patiently in line for hours for a chicken sandwich and waffle fries to make a point will also be standing in line to vote in November. Depend on it.
Crossposted on www.chicagoboyz.net)
Actually, no – not the ruins of Athens … that’s a Beethoven piece that popped into my head – the Turkish March, from The Ruins of Athens … I’d always wondered in a desultory way, what would happen to me, if I played that classic music piece without comment, when I was stationed at EBS-Hellenikon, back in the day. I was never reckless enough to do the experiment and find out, actually. The Greeks were hair-trigger temperamental about any mention of Greece, Turkey, or the EEC (the forerunner to the EU) on the perilous airways of the American Forces Radio station where I worked – mostly on the swing and mid-shifts in the early 1980s. As exasperating and sometimes as deadly as the political stuff got during those years – and it did get deadly, for the N-14 organization and elements of the PLO were more or less targeting Americans on a regular basis – I loved Greece unreservedly. More »
This is the text of the email that I sent to the office of Lamar Smith, who is my congressman. Any reply will be posted here.
I am inquiring if you are aware of how conservative and libertarian bloggers have been maliciously pranked in the last few months by the practice of “SWATing”?
(A bogus 911 call is made claiming that there has been a shooting (or some other act of domestic violence) at the home of a conservative blogger. Usually these “SWAT-ing” calls are made in the middle of the night. Per emergency protocol, such a 911 call triggers a guns-drawn police action at the blogger’s home which puts the blogger and his or her family at immediate risk.)
This is not only a fraud and a waste of police time, but puts both the family of the blogger, any dogs they might have in the household, and the police officers themselves in danger of physical harm.
This a deliberate attempt to intimidate conservative and libertarian bloggers into forfeiting their right to exercise free speech and political commentary. I assume that you likewise would be concerned about this practice, and would like to know if you intend to take any action in this matter.
I am one of your constituents, a military veteran, Tea Party sympathizer – and a blogger. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Update: Monday morning – well, no answer other than the usual robo-email, but it is noted that Lamar Smith is a signatory to the letter from 85 members of Congress to AG Holder demanding that he address and investigate the issue. We’ll see what develops, then!
Like a number of other unpleasant experiences, a brush with a full-on, balls-to-the-wall sociopath can be a soul-scarring but life-educational experience. Generally, unless you are in a professional field such as the law, law enforcement or a working psychiatrist, you will – in the normal run of life, not run into them all that often. This is a good thing, generally – that they are rare. And a bad thing, because sheer disbelief freezes the normal, human reaction when they get heaved up to the top of one’s awareness. This is probably why they are able to do so much damage; they are as rare as man-eating sharks, and when they do pop up, the initial reaction is to think that … no, they couldn’t possibly have said/done/believed that. No normal, thinking, decent person could possibly … well, do what they do. It’s an experience so far outside ordinary experience that the first reaction is disbelief, and quite often the disbelief is prolonged because sociopaths often and at first glance (and even second) seem to be quite normal, reasonable and reality-based people.
The second quite human reaction when encountering one of these cold-blooded human sharks is fear, cold, stark fear, once you come to the realization that there are no limits to what the sociopath will say or do. Let me say that again: no limits. They will do or say anything, without remorse or second thoughts. They will tell any lie, use any person or tool they happen to have at hand, and then move on like a tornado, leaving the physical and emotional wreckage behind them. It’s frightening as hell – as I know from personal experience. It must be even more frightening for those bloggers who are now the target of a vengeful and malicious sociopath like Brett Kimberlin, one with an established track record of violence and sufficient friends in high places to enable harassment of blogger/reporters who have run afoul of him by spotlighting his criminal past.
I ran into a Kimberlinic personality once although at the time I didn’t know what she was. I described her as poisonous when I wrote about her years later. I still didn’t use her real name, although I have been retired from the Air Force since 1997, a matter of eight years after we were assigned together. I still would not want to have anything to do with her, especially after I looked up some of the identifying markers of a sociopath: Habitual liar? Check: she lied like she breathed, effortlessly. Egotistical to the point of narcissism? Check again – the whole world revolved around her. Scapegoating – whatever happens, it’s always somebody elses’ fault. Yep – check again. Remorselessly vindictive, when exposed or thwarted? OMG, check in spades. Everybody who ever had any kind of run-in with her, even administered the mildest reprimand – she would go nuclear in retaliation. I’m still a bit surprised though, that she didn’t ever think to accuse me of being a lesbian – in those days before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, it would have been the ending of my military career for sure, even if I had been able to fight it. Manipulative, absolutely no empathy, and capable of violence? Well, definitely manipulative: that was one of her shticks; getting other people to do her dirty work. I’m still in two minds about the violence, although I wouldn’t have put it past her, if she were frustrated enough. I did have a point in writing about malignant, manipulative, cold-blooded sharks-in-human form today; the most obvious one was to participate in ‘Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day’ … which I did think long and hard about doing, just as I thought long and hard about doing a post about the Danish Motoons o’ Doom, a good few years ago. He is a vengeful, violent sociopath, and people are very right to fear such. But I do not believe it is wise or right to give in to fear.
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain!
(Later – here’s what you can do, should you feel moved – http://ace.mu.nu/archives/329575.php )
That’s the feeling, really – as Blondie and I walk the dogs of a morning, and discuss such weighty matters as who remembered to bring sufficient poopy bags, if it is safe enough to let the Weevil off leash long enough to have a brisk run up and down the long fence behind which lives another Boxer mix who carries on a sort of fence to fence tag run, how many tomatoes we are likely to get from our current planting of garden bounty, if there will be enough cucumbers to make a decent batch of pickle spears soon, what to have for dinner that evening … and the morning gleanings of various internet news sites that we favor, upon rising from our slumbers first thing of a morning.
I favor Instapundit myself – out of long habit, even if he did drop this site from his blogroll a couple of years ago, but my daughter favors a combination of TMZ and the Daily Mail website, which (oddly enough) often puts up items of American news days before it appears in our own very dear mainstream media organs. Nope, tis true, tis true: sensationalist, twee, celebrity-addled, frequently misspelled/ungrammatical/confusing/sentimental-enough-to-trigger-a-diabetic-reaction, the DM still unashamedly and without much bias that I can detect covers the news. What a concept, hey? (Leaving aside the DM’s editorial bias, whatever it might be. When it comes to Brit newspapers, I used to favor the London Times and the Spectator myself, until they put everything interesting behind a paywall, then the Telegraph, and even the Guardian – until … well, that last just went beyond the pale for me. The lefty establishment bias just got to hard to take. God knows what the Grauniad thinks of the Tea Party; I don’t have a stomach strong enough to check.)
Anyway – to see ourselves as the DM sees us. My daughter notes the increasing numbers of American commenters, who ask why they hell do they have to go to a British newspaper site to see relatively unbiased American news. I’d guess it’s probably because the DM doesn’t seem to actually have a rep in among the White House Press Whores, or among the local establishment in whatever city the interesting story of the moment comes from. So, they can tell the story and access-to-the-elite-establishment be damned. Kind of refreshing, actually: what was the old press motto? To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable – damned if it doesn’t seem that principle has been reversed, in these degraded modern days.
Anyway – we were talking about a wide-ranging number of topics, but actually, they weren’t all that wide-ranging. Mostly it was the various aspects of the Federal Gummint’s heavy and strangling hand descending on a variety of concerns and businesses: the EPA going after coal-burning power plants (what – do they want rolling blackouts?), the Department of Labor going all ‘it’s for the chiiiiiiiildren!’ in forbidding children, tweens and teens from working certain essential jobs on family farms, hammering the Catholic church for not handing out free birth control like it was Skittles, the EPA going after rabbit breeders, the Justice Department casually allowing weapons to walk from border states into Mexico, prosecuting Gibson guitar manufacturing enterprise for using certain kinds of imported wood, the TSA (who easily could be the most despised organization in the US today but for all the competition from the EPA) feeling up four-year old girls and ripping off wheelchair bound veterans, the NOAA enthusiastically ruining the livelihoods of New England independent fishermen … and the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman imbroglio, with respect to flash-mob violence and the disinclination of our own very dear Department of Justice to become involved in prosecuting those who incite racial violence. Long list it was, too. So, I don’t think I want to get fitted for a tinfoil hat just yet … but WTF do these various numbskulls think they are doing? Exactly how far do they think people can be pushed before an individual or a community entirely looses patience? I mean – do they want large numbers of Americans to openly defy the Feds, nonviolently or otherwise? Is this deliberate incitement or just dumbassery on an epic scale?
I know, cheerful thinking for a morning walk. I think I’ll go fire up the canning kettle, and put aside another dozen jars of home made pickles, relishes and sauerkraut. To the best of my knowledge, the EPA or the DOJ hasn’t come out regulating against that … yet.
(Links here. Impossible to embed links any more…