My Friend Vlad (Part the Third… and the Final)

I’m really not anxious about “reader volume” this time.  I almost hope that today’s post passes completely unnoticed.  I didn’t want to write it: I wrote it because I had to.  And I wrote parts of it in excessive haste or with excessively tropological sarcasm.  I did that because I wanted to finish.  I feel a spiritual nausea coming on this morning as I review the weeks that brought us here.  And with the luminous “holidays” at hand… oh, yes, the holidays!  Like anyone else, I want to weave an insulating cocoon around my wife and son and me for a few days.  I’m indeed grateful for the opportunity offered by the calendar.  For the rest of it, for the “Happy Holidays” emails from people I haven’t seen in decades… damn them all for pitiful fools.  And damn me for seeing more than was intended for fragile human eyes.

To those who have posted or may post comments, thank you for your time and attention.  Thank you for having the stamina to look long and deep into some of the darkest pits imaginable.  I haven’t answered any of you, and I don’t imagine I’ll be doing so—not on this subject.  I just want to get it out and leave it behind.  Maybe you’re better fortified against the pit than I am.

In the rubble of the former United States—in “Unmerica”—national elections will be as meaningless as plebiscites in the proverbial banana republic.  On the ballot is Your Beloved El Supremo and… and Salinas, Chacón, Gasparo, Dominguez… “We’re a democracy, you know, amigo!”  That’s your new standard, your “new normal”.  Enjoy.

This isn’t to say, however, that there will be no resistance.  Far from it.  On the local level, resistance will now flourish as never before.  As I suggested in this essay’s previous parts, the rift between Western European elite-progressive totalitarianism and the belief systems of the formerly weaponized minority masses—traditional Muslims, Hispanic Catholics, rural and blue-collar black populations—will widen rapidly now that the Nationalist Strawman has been incinerated in the town square.  The swarthy rank and file don’t like masks.  College-educated white people cling to them in adoration, but the folks I’ve seen mask-free in Wal-Mart have mostly been black males and Hispanic females.  The dark rank and file don’t want drag queens reading to their children at the library.  College-educated white people have attempted to float such quasi-moralistic claptrap as a solvent of conventional Christian values—and they’ve done so, indeed, with spectacular success, much of it engineered from within the white Christian church; but our brethren who live closer to Mother Earth (and who may actually have some of her gritty skin beneath their fingernails) aren’t having it.

We can join them to say “Hell, no!” at Town Hall meetings, and our selections of mayors and state representatives may reflect our fury.  Securing the representation of Podunk County for Montague “Poke” Mahone the Third, white socialist wonderboy (married to a Native American sociologist), isn’t really worth the cost of a Dominion-caliber voting system.  Regional elections don’t particularly interest the revolutionaries (except for district judgeships).  The central government, you know, can always crush counter-revolutionaries if it so chooses.  With fleets of drones to locate targets and Humvees of stormtroopers (now brought home from Waziristan to wage war on their cousins) ready to roll, unruly rioters in Joplin, Missouri, wouldn’t offer so much as a training exercise for “our brave military”.  Yet the optics of such beyond-the-beltway massacres and Bloody Sundays wouldn’t be good.  President Vandal ordering the execution of 8,000 black folks or of 12,000 Muslim immigrants… hmm.  Some of the state governors, at least, would begin to shy away.  Some of the stormtroopers wouldn’t trigger their cousins on cue.  The dictatorship would risk becoming a transparent tyranny.  Too early for that play, perhaps.

So what’s the next move on the board the Vandal?  If we remain in control of our towns and hamlets, how does our new master, his old master—the Puppeteer—bring us to heel?  What if, for instance, Xi Jinping, unmoved by President Vandal’s public-relations problem, orders him to pursue the sophisticated, pincer-like vaporization of ringleaders on a hit-list?  What if, for that matter, Chairman Xi insists on offering the assistance of thousands of PLA stormtroopers, who have no cousins on these shores and are well rehearsed, besides, in clubbing and bayoneting women and children in Xinxiang Province and Hong-Kong?

I have been somewhat glib in trying to paint the scene in broad strokes… but I promise you, it isn’t excessively reductive to represent life under Unmerica’s new (first?) president as life in one of Xi’s satrapies.  An article posted by Peter Helmes drops the names of a few European billionaires most intricately involved in Western civilization’s overthrow.  They don’t sound terribly Chinese.  H.J. Schellnhuber, Stefan Rahmstorf, Ottmar Edenhofer, Claudia Kemfert, Uwe Schneidewind; Gerd Müller, a chief architect of Angela Merkel’s paternalistic oligarchy; Frithjof Finkbeiner and his son Felix, creators of “Fridays for Future”, “Scientists for Future”, and the ongoing Greta Thunberg fiction in general; Dr. von Hirschhausen and Maja Göpel; George Soros, of course, “who with his thousands of non-mandated NGO’s” influences global politics significantly… such are the figures that a savvy European analyst would associate with the Club of Rome, and that are more often denominated as the Davos set on this side of the pond.  “But who is the strategic godfather of all these ideologues?” questions Helmes.  “Standing at the hierarchy’s peak—far above even Bill Gates and David and Richard Rockefeller—is the Canadian multi-billionaire Maurice Strong”… and Strong’s ties to Communist China are indelible, if not purely Marxist.  Beyond the Strong family’s commitment to a dictatorship of the proletariat (as interpreted by a dictator) nestles a pathological hatred of evolved human beings, as if we were far kinder to the planet when we were apes whose life-expectancy scarcely broke twenty years.  And if Bill Gates doesn’t reduce our minds fast enough (for time is of the essence) to that lemur-like state with digital exo-intelligence and injections of uncertain content, then… well, there’s always the termite model on Xi’s drawing board.

It’s beyond my ability—and, frankly, little to my taste—to autopsy global conspiracies.  My brush does broad strokes only.  To me, the ultimate godfather of megalomaniac takeover in our time isn’t Soros, or Gates, or Strong, or even Xi Jinping, but rather the same culprit as gets up to such things at all times: Satan.  That’s why no blessed meteorite just happening to drive Xi’s skull ten miles below the earth’s crust would really solve very many problems for very long.  It’s also why a President Vandal, if miraculously rid of the worldly creditor who owns his carcass, would have that sorry hide auctioned off to another master within a week.  In a way, none of this matters.  If Judas were not to exist, we would have to un-invent his brother in our mirror. 

Yet until we reach eternity, the day we occupy is always this single shriveled day—this minute of this hour.  We are here and now.  On this day and at this hour, it’s Xi Jinping who would rule the universe.  He’s the present Mao, the present Genghis Khan.  Likewise, our senile President Vandal, a grifter and a bravo by nature and by trade, is Xi’s hired tough at this moment; so our children, on this day of our Lord, need protection from this domestic despot who serves that global tyrant.  The succor we seek would be Heaven’s from the Evil Domain if the hour had come for every man, woman, and child of us to join hands and enter the Light at one step.  But since this particular hour is only engraved with the names of a few (as the next hour will have a few more, and the next a few more), let us see if another man like ourselves—in the image of Jesus casting the shadow of Judas—might be persuaded to save a child here and there.  Let us try to act rather than merely curl up and die

Someone like Vladimir Putin could be our man.  Oh, he’s no saint, no, and he may well be another of the Devil’s chief lackeys… but so may any one of the relatively nameless vultures who circle our civilization in high bureaucratic office.  Vlad is a dismal figure, I know, upon whom to hang any hope; but I see no other locus of earthly power anywhere who hasn’t signed away his soul ten times in blood.  Putin, perhaps, has only done so eight or nine times.

Yes, I’m aware of “the list”.  The poisoning of Aleksandr Litvinienko, the bludgeoning of Mikhail Lesin, the Mob-style hit of Anna Politkovskaya… it’s hard to imagine Dante’s locating Putin anywhere better than intermediate Hell.  But… well, maybe intermediate Hell will have to do for now, since the jackals slavering over our children are all pouring from Satan’s mouth in Hell’s Pit.  We santini who can’t sully our hands in anything morally equivocal—such as incarcerating traitors or executing murderers—may have to contract out our enforcement to the nachalnik of contract killers… or else watch our children be devoured.  The truth is… well, the truth is this: men such as we should never have sired children.  We weren’t men enough to stand up and kill our children’s killers.  We just sing hymns.  So here we cringe… and here lie our children with their throats bared to the knife.  And there’s Putin (and in yesterday’s shadow, the Mossad, and—once upon a time—a CIA not yet neutered by careerist bureaucrats).

If Putin himself is soon taken from the scene by his mortality (and, please God, may Xi and Soros and Gates not be far behind!), then another Russian nationalist of his stamp would do.  Imagine a Putinesque premier, offered harbor privileges in Texas or mineral rights in Oklahoma or an automobile plant in Alabama.  Such a high-profile collaborator in American enterprise would be hard for the Vandal and his Beijing masters to reject on “moral” grounds; for Putin is ostensibly of their plundering swarm, and is already doing a ripping oil business with another hell-bait butchering despot in Venezuela.  As Xi’s most visible buddy in war games fantasizing over the annihilation of earth’s human inhabitants in large numbers, Putin has earned his own Vandal letter-jacket.  He’s a cutthroat, like the rest of the team.  I’ve admitted that.

Yet Putin, or the next Russian nationalist to replace him, could also conceivably pose a major deterrent to President Vandal’s firebombing of his own citizens.  If some of us are paying tribute to the Russian Vandal, then we’ll have every right to summon his defense against Xi’s kowtowing-satraps (and Xi himself).  For I say it in a whisper to those few who continue to follow this dark conversation: I cannot believe that Vladimir Putin loses any love on Xi Jinping.  War games?  Of course Russia joined China in war games!  Russia is something of an extra-large Taiwan in Xi’s glazed stare: how better to handle the situation than to pal with the Beijing juggernaut for the time being?  Terrify the Yanks, win a few concessions here and there (knowing that Chinese promises are written on the wind with water), peer into your rival’s arsenal, get to know your rival’s tactics, let your rival believe he’s stealing similar looks into your sanctuary… it’s really quite brilliant.  Quite un-American, in any “post-Cold War liberal America“ sense.

Putin is a nationalist, a Russia-first bully.  He is that at the core of all his machinations and assassinations.  He’s not a communist—not of the Xi stamp.  That is to say, he doesn’t lust over visions of an insectified world swarming in indistinguishable millions before a hundred-foot gold likeness of himself.  (And yes, children, that’s communism: that’s its final, “real life” form on this sick planet.)  Putin wants Russia self-sufficient and feared enough to keep intruders at bay.  He’s a Mob boss whose passion is for the famiglia.  I know that the American conservative intelligentsia scoffs at such analyses.  Frank Gaffney and Diana West, for instance—and there are no two minds whose insight I more respect—recently underscored Putin’s communist bona fides on Secure Freedom Radio by referencing his remark about Joe Biden: that Biden would be easier for him [Putin] to work with than would Trump because Biden’s beliefs are more “Soviet” (not Russian: Soviet).  Alas, I think that interpreting such utterances at their most transparent level typifies our collective error.  I understand the remark as follows.  “Westerners with totalitarian notions readily go along with power plays that shortcut democratic participation.  Joe Biden is one of those Westerners, and I’m interested in getting the upper hand where I can.  Therefore, I’d like to work with a useful idiot who can be suckered into giving me what I want as he gleefully tramples down his nation’s conventional restraints.”  Only an ex-Soviet could fully appreciate the extreme convenience of dealing with an “American Soviet”.  Putin is an opportunist, not an ideologue.

So… say that President Vandal and his vulturine, life-sucking Health Minister Fauci (whose name means “jaws” or “maw” in Italian) were to decree that all citizens must be vaccinated with… whatever’s on the day’s menu.  (Something under your sink, perhaps.)  Say that your state refuses to enforce universal compliance.  Say that the Vandal (with Xi pulling one set of strings, and the ghoulish Life-Sucker another) makes a Little Rock moment of the situation, sending in the National Guard (SS Division) to strap people down house by house as Mengeles in training load and empty syringes.  Say that bullets begin to fly (and they would, you know).  And then?  And then?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have an Uncle Vlad looking over everyone’s shoulder?  If Xi can send in his PLA advisors, fresh from massacring Hong Kong, to volunteer assistance… why, then, Uncle Vlad can send in his advisors, too.  “Not so fast, tovarishch!”  They bring a tank, we bring an anti-tank gun; they bring a chopper-gunboat, we bring a surface-to-air missile.

I’m wondering if the state of Texas or the state of Georgia couldn’t borrow such toys from my friend Vlad.  The Vandal has all of the toys produced and stockpiled with our tax money… but now our Uncle has called the raise—and raised again.  Another dirty little secret: most of these made-in-the-USA toys are now outdated and inferior.  Vlad has better stuff, frankly.  Fifty years of subversion by the Vandal and his fellow partners and pillagers have actually left very little good stuff in our arsenal, much of that little rusted out by nameless wars in sandy deserts.  Meanwhile, Vlad may just have amassed more and better stuff even than the Chinese.  He has oil but otherwise no economy, he has an aging and thinning population (as will China, believe it or not, in just a few years)… but he also has state-of-the-art Armageddon hardware galore.  People said it was a foolish investment.  Now it’s the single game-changer on a board where Communist China occupies most of the strategic squares.

I’ll take Vlad, please.  I don’t have a nation any longer.  It dried up and blew away.  I have no president.  A disgusting, senile thug and career lackey is fumbling with the presidential seal bestowed upon him by the most inhuman regime to pollute the planet since Genghis Khan’s reign.  I have no flag.  I have no anthem.  I salute nothing of this world any more, because this world no more acknowledges the rights given to me by God.  What I have is an either/or choice of cutthroats to invite into my home.  In that case… I’ll take Vlad.

I’ll take the Russian hit-man over the Chinese mass-murderer.  I’d rather be a dog who eats at the bony carcass after the Russian wolves have their fill than the two-billion-and-forty-sixth ant in Precocious Boy’s ant farm, his weary eye following all our movements through a glass panel as he decides which tunnel to collapse before supper.  I’m learning Russian, not Chinese.  And if I have to absorb a pecking-order smack to the rear of the line in order to ensure that my children aren’t tied down and infused with Gates/Fauci eugenic sterilant, I’ll take it in silence, conceding that it wasn’t fully undeserved.  I should have done more, when I still had the chance, to purge my society of the white “Christian” all-tolerant progressivist virus.  I should have been more of a man—should have unleashed a little more “hate speech” when it was due.  I hate liars; I hate cheats; I hate abusers of children and innocents; I hate self-coddling cowards disguised as spiritual illuminati; I hate egotists and hypocrites who promote “science” only insofar as institutionalism shuts down open inquiry.  I am full of hatred… and some of it is left over for myself.

So… this loathsome Vlad, this buccaneer with raped riches gleaming at his ears and his fingertips—I’ll take him, if I must have a worldly captain.  And when I can take him no longer, he may throw me to the sharks, and I’ll gratefully meet my maker.  But the conundrum, my dears—if you have followed any of this wild rant—isn’t about the Kingdom of Heaven.  It’s about how you can save some of the children you brought into a here-and-now where you allowed a trap to be laid for them… and you are not Jesus, and you do not walk on water.  You did some bad things, and you are left with two bad options.  Yours is not to pretend now that you’re Heaven-pure—not after you betrayed the children.

I’ll take Vlad.  I will certainly not take the vile, fumbling, all-fingering Vandal.  Not now, not ever.

My Friend Vlad (Part Two)

You won’t like what I’m about to write.  I don’t like it myself—not one bit.  I wish things were otherwise.  I wish we could strap on our magic masks and be transported back in time to the days when our layers of government were virtually invisible except in the matter of protecting us from criminals and invaders: when we would take our kids to the park and throw a Frisbee, plan a Thanksgiving trip to Grandma’s where the height of all the little ones was penciled on a door frame, worry over no greater crisis at work than how to deal with a congested parking lot.  But…

but no.  Only in our dreams now.  In this, our waking Hell, the concern—the one resonant, irrepressible concern—is government, government, government.  No malingering in the park after curfew, and no presence on any sidewalk without a mask.  (Absolutely no concealed weapon, either, to protect your family in case a released rapist takes advantage of “stand down” police protocol.)  No assembly in Grandma’s house to exceed X warm bodies… and, very soon, no travel in vehicles that burn carbon fuel.  No going in to work physically, or at least no opening of the doors to more than three people at a time.  No refusal of the restroom to homeless wanderers.  No new hire for less than twenty bucks an hour.

You’re a slave, a helot.  So am I.  This is our new world.  Let’s be clear: it’s not our revised world, our old America amended constitutionally to create a kinder, gentler republic.  It’s the new totalitarian regime against which most of us voted, and whose ascendancy was nonetheless ordained by our thought-controlling class: the broadcast media, the entertainment media, the journalistic propaganda-mill, the academic brainwash-tank, the high bench of judicial mandarins, the globalist banking industry, and the careerist guns-for-hire teeming in our bureaucracy (including our elite security forces).  The 2020 presidential “election” served formal notice that our votes no longer count.  We have arrived.  The next train you climb aboard will pull nothing but cattle cars.

Assuming that 2021 opens as most pundits now predict, I do not have a president.  I do not have a country.  I serve my own formal notice here and now: this state under the plunder of a vast band of Huns is not my nation, and the band’s teetering, morose, incoherent, through-and-through corrupt Attila is not in any wise my leader.  He is my enemy unto death, the murderer of due process, accountability, rule of law, individual rights, freedom of assembly, freedom of dissent, open exchange of ideas… he and his flock of circling, mask-draped vultures (masked like highwaymen—how appropriate!) are the antithesis of everything I have devoted my life to preserving, everything our forebears devoted and sometimes sacrificed their lives to sustaining.  This squalid, diabolical assassin of humane society is now in possession of our home turf.

So… what to do about it?  I’ll attempt to restrain myself from further flights of indignation, and to complete this essay with something like icy objectivity.  Otherwise, I’ll never be done.

I offer three recommendations.  All three respond to the necessity of redefining “we”.  The Vandal has defeated us by dividing us.  Let us therefore accept the divisions which we were too dull to resist when we might have saved ourselves.  Let us instead play the hand which the Vandal has dealt us.

Race: the race card.  Let us play it—but not in the manner scripted for us by the Vandal.  For decades, I have read commentators like Pat Buchanan and Ann Coulter with interest, but also with a deep spiritual dyspepsia every time the theme, “demography is destiny,” emerged.  (And it emerged frequently.)  We were supposed to dread the dissolution of “white European” society in the rising tide of Third World peoples.  They would ruin everything: they would vote for the Nanny State until we all had Orwellian surveillance devices in our kitchens and bedrooms.  Non-Caucasian people… for some reason, they just couldn’t understand that they were being led to the slaughterhouse.  And, by popular vote, they would take us all there.

At this instant, it’s unclear in my state of Georgia whether or not the kind of election fraud reported verbally over and over and caught on tape by Project Veritas—state employees deliberately tallying a “Trump” as a “Biden” in the recount and harassing observers who point out the error—it’s uncertain, I say, whether these shenanigans will have surrendered our nation’s future into the hands of Beijing’s lackey.  Many of my acquaintances sermonize in hushed tones, “It’s those Atlanta blacks.  The Democrat Party offers them anything and everything, and they keep selling their souls for an empty promise.  Look at all the unprincipled party hacks caught cooking the books: black, every one.”

Well, not every one.  And if you want to assign the Georgia debacle to a particular racial influence, I should think the “white, college-educated, upwardly mobile professional” demographic would be a much better choice.  It’s primarily white people who have created all the engines of moral squalor enumerated a few paragraphs above: the media, Hollywood, journalism, academe, the judiciary, the banking industry, elite bureaucracies like the FBI and NSA… white people, overwhelmingly.  White people who patronize—and, to be sure, often promote—black people in ostentatious flourishes of high mission (and in the implicit, largely unconscious presumption that people of color can’t make it on their own merits).  In the vanguard of virtually every “social justice” initiative decrying racial inequity is a band of “superior to thee” Caucasian crusaders.

Sorry, Pat and Ann… but your race of choice has in fact authored our gravest miseries.  One of the few hopeful developments I see in the tea leaves left behind 2020’s bitter draught is the emergence of outspoken resistance from the likes of Col. Allen West, Candace Owens, Kimberly Klacik, John James… from black athletes of high recognition-value like Burgess Owens and Hershel Walker… from entertainers, even, like Kanye West and “Ice Tea”.  The leadership supplied by the socially pampered, morally supercilious Caucasian anomists who pullulate in our universities has proved lethal to our free society.  People of African descent are beginning to tire of serving as their “pity pets”.  A slave upon whom you lavish gifts just for scowling sullenly—and oh-so-cutely—from your couch’s cushions all day long is no less a slave than the wretch who sows fields under the whip’s lash.

People of Latin descent, Buchanan et al. notwithstanding, are also showing a new propensity for preferring individual freedom to government patronage.  What has historically driven the Hispanic vote to the Democrat Party is stuff, much of it free: more and better jobs than anything “back home” (even though, by American standards, the pay is poor and the benefits negligible), free schooling for the kids, free health care for the extended family (illegal aliens regularly receive Medicaid in many states, contrary to federal law), relatively uncorrupt police services, hands-off tolerance of petty infractions in sanctuary cities, and a host of quota-driven head-starts into white-collar careers.  Who wouldn’t grab that deal?  But the shelf-life of the pantry’s more extravagant goodies is mere months—perhaps mere weeks—from expiring.  The national debt is careering toward thirty trillion, the Chinese are busily laboring to supplant the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, and the Vandal has promised more lockdowns and the strangulation of our domestic energy industry.  Tens of millions of Hispanics, legal and otherwise—and the Democrats have now endowed the latter with the right to vote in many locales—may soon be without work and without government subsidy.  The party that engineered such misery will not inspire patient devotion.

If conservative America has given little thought to constituencies of this composition, my next suggestion will be vastly more shocking: the Muslim community.  Like black Americans and Hispanics—rather more than they, in fact—traditional Muslims deplore the core values of the new Democrat Party.  They’re dismayed by the extent of sexual liberation in the Western world.  They have no doubt about the number of genders Mother Nature has assigned to human beings.  Their family units are extremely tight-knit.  They weigh the individual male’s dignity to some considerable extent upon his ability to make his way by the sweat of his own brow.  They believe in a higher power whose authority must not be eclipsed by the whimsy of human institutions.  They intensely dislike public obscenity aimed at deriding or vilifying figures and symbols held in honor by their culture.  Culturally, they could not be more antithetical to the New Left.

In the unsorted rubble which is all that remains of the United States, friends of the Constitution would do well to strike up a common cause with the Muslim community.  Of course, in Europe and in many Canadian cities, Muslim “no-go zones” enforce Sharia law and defy civil authorities to set foot in their streets.  A constitutional conservative would naturally prefer to have another sort of Muslim at his side.  I don’t propose that the friends of individual freedom stockpile explosives for a cultic religion’s lockstep-marching suicide-bombers: that would be a bridge too far.  Yet during the ongoing ruination of our republic, counter-revolutionaries need not collaborate in the neutralization of radical Islam’s homicidal “scare value”.  The energy of violent jihadism will steer itself by nature in the direction of the Constitution’s nihilist destroyers, even though it tramples upon constitutional principles in doing so.  If nothing else, the totalitarian state’s zeal for collecting all defensive weapons from its citizenry might be blunted when a subset of that citizenry proves to be too hot to handle.

I understand the ghastly undertones of what I’ve just written.  I wonder if everyone reading my words understands equally the horrors of the progressive totalitarian state now descending upon us, whose proponents (e.g., AOC, the Lincoln Project) have already boasted publicly about rounding up dissidents and dissuading them with all the finesse that Xi Jinping has employed with Xinxiang’s Uighur population.  We are not now in a position to choose friends fastidiously: we can only survive by matching potent enemies against our enemies.

And I hasten to add that I’m not among those who view all Muslims as closet-jihadists.  As a retired educator, I remember many chaste, gentle, humble souls among my students whose simple decency put many of their ostensibly Christian classmates to shame.  In fact, I’ll say candidly of the Muslim community what I said above of black Americans: if we white Christians sincerely want to pinpoint the rot that has gnawed away our free republic’s sinew, we might as well start with a session in front of the mirror.  Too many imams, yes, incite fanatical violence among their abject faithful… but the Catholic faith is led by an overt socialist who considers all traditional teachings negotiable in the light progressive revisionism.  The Muslim community, true, is scarred by the presence among its members of such barbarities as “honor killings” and female genital mutilation… but the Christian (and especially Protestant) community finds itself, in its “blanket tolerance” caricature of Christ’s example, unable to condemn any trespass or atrocity of any kind—except, of course, intolerance.  “Fake Christianity” has played no minor role in our surrender to the Vandal: it has, indeed, repeatedly unbolted gates for him.  Can you confidently affirm that your priest or pastor does not regard the faith as a) an ideological framework for redistributing worldly possessions rather than for combating worldliness, b) a vehicle for ushering in a “better” society rather than for saving individual souls, and c) and inherited body of quaint tropes effectively modernized by Marxist formulas rather than a metaphysical fortress raised against the measurements of manmade value systems?

If your spiritual guide is not of this toxic sort… good for you.  God be praised!  Yet it remains a raw statistical truth that institutions posing as the Christian Church have hazed us into the slaughterhouse of Xi’s Maoist worldview.  In our sick society—in our defunct United States—the Muslim is sometimes a better Christian than the Christian, and the black or Hispanic American is beginning to resent the Herd more than does the white pillar of virtue who has designed privileged pens for all “dark people”.

I abhor the tactic known to advertisers as “teasing”, and it was certainly not my intent to skirt a full explanation of my “friendship” with “Vlad” a second time.  Yet I’ve once again more than filled up my allotted space.  Just as well.  I will need a full post just to present my case for why the freedom-loving fragments of our shattered union would be very wise to court a closer relationship with… Vladimir Putin.  I’ll end with this very condensed, slightly melodramatic observation, then: we can be insects on Xi Jinping’s ant farm, or we can offer strategic advantages to Russia’s nationalist leadership.  We have no other play on the board.  Under the Vandal’s administration, we are useful idiots serving the needs of Communist China.  That’s all we are.  We’re not the children of the Greatest Generation, and all that.  No, we shoveled our “Americanism” into the bonfire of the vanities.  If some of us are to preserve life on this earth under the United States Constitution, we shall need the help of an earthly power not traditionally friendly to constitutional values.  We shall have to dine with one devil or be eaten by the other.

Or, of course, we can all just consent to die, like a massive holocaust of Christian martyrs.  A respondent to my video, Must a Christian Be a Doormat?, wrote me, “Christ made a doormat of himself, and we are called to do the same.”  Yes, we can do that: the millenarian Doormat Cult, that stands by and sings hymns while children are abused and innocents are butchered.  Yes, we can do that.  Just spare yourself any further visits to my column, would you, if that’s the nature of your conviction?

My Friend Vlad (Part One)

These aren’t pleasant words to write—and I didn’t even get done with writing them, for I find that I must continue along this corridor of thought for at least one more week. I want to be unburdened of all such words: I want to go back to playing around in my baseball blog, where I can distract myself for hours. But first, I have a duty to fulfill.

Say that you heard a strange screeching noise in the distance… something like a large metallic door rasping on a concrete block.  You smile.  It reminds you of an elephant’s trumpeting that you’ve heard on TV.  The very idea!  An elephant, in this place and in the year 2020!

I grew up just a few blocks from the Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth.  After a mass-shooting that left seven congregants dead in 1999, several survivors remarked that they had thought the shots belonged to the staging of a movie.  This response and the “backfiring car” supposition appear often in the statements of trembling witnesses just after such incidents.

I wonder how the festive travelers aboard the RMS Titanic reacted when the news was first borne to them in all seriousness that the deck beneath their feet would soon vanish under icy waves.

When an air-raid siren howls like a banshee up the street and you look out your window to find a gray funnel descending from the clouds, what’s your likely response?  Many go for a camera.  I think it’s akin to the “Wedgwood Baptist movie”: the camera magically makes the event recoil into the realm of the staged, if not the fictional.  It goes away.  It’s happening, but it vanishes as an existential threat that requires immediate and energetic counter-measures.  It will blow over.  This, too, will pass.

I can’t do better than reproduce a paragraph from Rachel Alexander’s column of November 9:

There is too much fraud here — concentrated in the swing states — to list in one column. Voting machine irregularities that coincidentally tipped the vote to Biden. Dead people voting. Almost as many people over 90 registered to vote this year than that age group did in all of 2008-2019 combined. A Pennsylvania mailman who said he was ordered to collect late ballots, and four postal workers who said they were told to change the date on ballots. Election workers counting ballots without verifying signatures. Videos of election officials filling out ballots. More people voting than registered voters in some areas. Wide discrepancies between Trump and down-ticket votes; former Justice Department prosecutor Sidney Powell said bout swing states, “We’ve identified 450,000 ballots that Miraculously ONLY have a Vote for Joe Biden.” Biden underperformed in big cities in blue states compared to Hillary Clinton in 2016, yet Biden had record turnout in big cities in swing states.  

Another columnist–Rick Tiseo–witnessed in person high-handed abuse of the electoral process on November 3:

This past week, Detroiters and Michiganders alike were denied their right to a free and fair election. I know because I saw it firsthand. 

I was a poll challenger at the TCF Center in Detroit from dawn to dusk on November 4. The many bungled protocols and perceived bias against Republican poll workers were as eye-opening as they were concerning.

Oftentimes, a ballot must be duplicated because smudges, frays, or the use of a checkmark (in lieu of filling in the bubble) prevent it from being properly tabulated. During the duplication process, election inspectors are typically charged with drawing a blank ballot and transferring the voter’s choices from the original ballot to the new one. From there, one election inspector will verbally call off the voter’s choices while another poll worker marks them in. The poll workers then reverse roles to double-check the accuracy of the selections. 

According to the Michigan Department of Elections, this cross-check process “must be [done] by two election inspectors who have expressed a preference for different political parties.”

Unfortunately, this was not the process I witnessed. In fact, one poll supervisor said that cross-checking with one Republican and one Democrat was not necessary if a third party (another poll worker) was present. I challenged this attempt to sidestep the rules, but it fell on deaf ears. 

I also noticed Republicans were often excluded—literally shoved aside in some cases—from observing the handling of original ballots. This made it difficult to verify that the original ballot was properly discarded, as opposed to counted alongside its duplicate. Original ballots should be labeled with a number and the duplicate labeled with the same number preceded by “Dup.” Yet, in my observation, this practice was largely ignored. 

Apologies for being somewhat prolix in documenting a simple claim—but some people apparently must be hit over the head.  Here’s the hard fact of the matter.  This year’s presidential election was a multilateral blitz, using dozens and dozens of weapons at once, upon the public trust, upon local and federal law, upon common decency, and upon standards of truth comprehensible to any but a sociopath or an idiot.  It was a bald-faced, jeering adventure in criminality that seems to have been “high-fived” behind locked doors all around the nation.  It was an effusion of hideous moral arrogance and indisgestible self-righteousness.  It has no analogue in our history.  What separates it from, say, the My-Lai Massacre or the Massacre at Wounded Knee is a) that its perpetrators shredded an entire system that makes civilized life possible instead of letting the blood of a few dozen, b) that they did so with the contemptible cowardice of white-collar assassins who do all their work at midnight after bribing janitors, and c) that there was no fog of war to excuse buck-privates for losing their moral compass.

The engineering of Joe Biden’s “victory” was an atrocity.  It was a series of treasonous acts.  Collectively, it was an act of war against the United States.

And yet… and yet, that couldn’t be an elephant, could it?  Not here… not in 2020!  Not the Titanic.  Haven’t you heard?  She’s unsinkable!

As many of us linger in our post-gundown daze, we’re lectured by the aiders-and-abettors of the conspiracy—the mainstream news media—to turn the calendar and scrub from our eyes what we just saw.  Yours truly, as well, saw things that shouldn’t have appeared, that have never appeared before.  My wife and I both received multiple postcards urging us to submit our mail-in ballots, which had “not yet been received”, long after we’d handed them over in person to the clerk downtown.  (I spend much of every Tuesday at a clinic receiving an IV to fortify my body against prostate cancer.)  Upon calling the clerk for an explanation, we were encouraged just to “throw away” the cards—that multiple questions were rolling in about the matter, but that our votes had been duly logged.

So how did the unidentified organization in question a) know that I had cast a mail-in ballot, and b) know that I had voted for a particular candidate?  It knew both.  To whom would this knowledge have been available six weeks before November 3?  Was the gambit not to induce me—and untold dozens or hundreds like me—to vote illegally in person later on, thus disqualifying our vote entirely?

A friend in North Carolina writes that their early votes at the polling station—hers, her husband’s, those of numerous acquaintances—were recorded as mail-ins.  Innocent, inconsequential gaffe… or clever overture to disenfranchisement in case mail-ins were invalidated?

As I wrote above, all weapons were deployed on all fronts.  Everywhere.  An almost inconceivably massive undertaking in fraud and subversion was executed.

And the people who did this are… are what?  Just the other political party?  Just fellow Americans who happen to see things a little differently?

A little differently, yes.  They’ve been very vocal about their ideological objectives—their “vision”—both before and after the election, so there’s really no mystery about who they are.  For instance, they want and seek total suppression of views not their own (on Twitter, on Facebook, on Wikipedia, on mainstream news broadcasts, in metropolitan dailies).  We’ve seen that elsewhere, haven’t we?  Isn’t it a snapshot of Xi’s China?  What’s the difference between this new “Americanism” that supports rigid control of public discussion and the old Maoist totalitarianism that our forefathers fought to resist?

They—our “neighbors”—want dissidents identified, shamed, “doxxed”, harassed by mob, punished by law, “re-educated” (with capital penalties for uttering a peep of protest)… so tell me, what’s the difference between this red-white-and-blue “return to decency” and the Chinese “cultural revolution”?

Even as they throw our borders wide open, empty our prisons of violent felons, fund homicidal riots in our streets, and defund our police except as hit-squads to hound us into compliance, they want us to surrender any effective means we possess of self-defense.  How is this new America any different from the new Hong Kong lately beaten, bullied, and poisoned (with CV-19) into submission by Chinese Communist imperialism?

And as for COVID, that Pavlovian app spliced into the “obey” directory… they want us to live without individual humanity, our faces perpetually draped like the women of fundamentalist Islam, as we seek permission to walk a dog at night or take a stroll on an empty beach or attend a church of our choice.  What, I ask you, has Xi’s China to offer—has Mao’s China at its worst to offer—that equates with the limitless, arbitrary, whimsical control over ordinary people demanded by the elite of the new administration?

And as for imperialism… haven’t they taught our children for generations now—didn’t they teach us when we were children—that our nation was racist and imperialist to its core; and do they not maintain now with no further trace of diplomatic reserve, from the blackboards of kindergarten to the lecterns graduate school, that Communist China, Castroite Cuba, Iran of the mullahs, Erdogan’s Turkey—that all are more humane, moral, egalitarian, and healthy states than the corrupt USA?  Does such fulminous loathing of American individualism, industry, and self-determination not infuse its sulfur into every single utterance of this “alternative political party”?

Play “Hail to the Chief” and limber up an arm in the Whitehouse to inaugurate the 2021 baseball season.  That’s not an elephant: it’s just a rusty door.  Those aren’t gunshots: it’s just a backfire.  That’s not ice water creeping up your leg: you’ve just had too much champagne.  That’s not a tornado: it’s just a video being screened on the Weather Channel.

Let’s have a peaceful transfer of power, please.  Let’s just get on with our lives….

Yes, let’s.  Now that we have no right to free expression, no right of assembly, no right to due process, no right to self-defense… no right to breathe freely or to use a public sidewalk, and certainly no right to demand legal accountability of “protected” classes or to have our votes counted fairly one-per-person… yes, by all means, let’s just get back to our lives.

You have been invaded.  The invading enemy is composed of your “fellow citizens”.  There are no more “united” states in this America.  When Nikita Khrushchev thumped a podium and cried, “We will bury you!” he was being generously candid.  Now elite bands of thugs, hooligans, arsonists, rabble-rousers, propagandists, number-crunchers, revisionists-for-hire, shysters, con men, barrators, pathological subversives, incurable megalomaniacs, and self-made godlings are trying to slip a neighborly hand around your shoulder and whisper, “Calm down.  Let’s get back to normal.”  Translation: “We are burying you.”

Rid yourself of the suicidal notion that the United States of America exists as it did half a century ago.  That groan you hear is the ship listing fatally.  That burst of fireworks isn’t the Fourth of July, but a twister snapping your power lines.  Your enemy is right here: he’s “your neighbor”.  He’s just occupied your cities, towns, and hamlets.  At least stop sending him Christmas cards.  He’s burying your children, fool.  You believe in Christmas, in Christ? You believe in peace, in non-violence?  Then emulate the Crucifixion.  At least go out and die: at least make your new neighbors murder you for all to see, as they did to “tank man” in Tiananman Square.

I’ll preserve my cryptic title at the head of this piece, although I never neared a proper explanation of it.  You’ll have to let me pick up here in a week if you want that explanation, should God give me a few more days to write it.

Politics Hasn’t Created This Division: It Rose From the Soul’s Abyss

With the political and social coherence our nation dissolving before our eyes, I naturally feel drawn to comment on the meaning of the dissolution.  Yet I’m going to reserve that chore for another day.  I think a further week of watching events unfold can’t help but leaven my observations.  I need to settle myself down.

Frankly, my nerves have lately been shattered far more by a very personal confrontation than by the very public collapse of our nation’s rule of law… though the two, it turns out, are not completely unrelated.  I received a call last Saturday night from a very close relative of mine.  I will identify her simply as S, though none of my readers is likely to know her—and it’s even less likely that she would ever read this or any other of my columns.  S was the closest person to me on earth when we were growing up.  Somewhere along the line, a lot of things changed.  Now that we’ve both passed well beyond our sixtieth birthday and are also separated by a thousand miles, we seldom speak to each other.  The gaps in time and space appear to mar transmissions.  Neither of us seems readily to understand what spiritual wavelength the other operates on.

Of course, S knows all about my round with prostate cancer this summer.  If for no other reason than that, she tries to check in with me at least once a month.  Our exchange of last Saturday night went along amicably for a while… and then, for some reason that I can’t seem to reconstruct in retrospect, the subject of the Corona Virus floated malodorously to the surface.  I believe the first mention was hers, and that my response was simply to try to soothe her—to convince her that she needn’t worry about an illness whose infection-to-fatality rate was equal to that of a bad seasonal flu.

Shots fired.  I was at once assured that I was completely wrong—that I had in no wise done research equal to S’s, whose dogged pursuit of the truth (I was told) could be matched by no one else in our family.  She knew for a fact that children were dying of COVID-19: this was a five-alarm warning to our society.  Everyone needed to be taking it with the utmost seriousness.

Fallen son of Adam that I am, I pushed back at the charge of being an ignoramus—and a bigot, to boot, who only processed information from a single source.  (Don’t know where that came from: S never bothered to ask about my sources and never volunteered any of her own.)  

I didn’t get really heated up, however, until a third person’s came into the discussion: someone who is as important to me as anyone on earth, and who I’d supposed was almost as important to S.  This young man had checked himself into the emergency room last month in an incipient suicidal state which deeply alarmed him.  The cause was, of course, the lockdown in which he and all his peers were living—are still living—day in and day out, week in and week out, in a vast Midwestern metropolis.  I observed to S that older people like us should be prepared to run a two-or-three-chances-in-a-thousand risk of death if doing so might flatten the fearful spike in young suicides.  Despair, in my opinion, was a much more formidable adversary than the flu.

Then came the response that touched a match to my powder keg.  It was the baked-in-hell blarney about how kids shouldn’t be preoccupied with their amusement when their social activity jeopardizes the lives of others.  This is what I propose to write at about some length today (perhaps because my attempts to dissect the claim in live conversation only met with being shouted over—and occasionally f-bombed: offensives which I ended up countering blow for loud, profane blow… God help us).

On the table, then, sits the propositions that you pose a menace to the lives of all around you if you circulate publicly in a normal fashion but do not strain your body almost to suffocation in an extremely abnormal fashion.  If you decline to wear a mask, that is, you are engaged in a murder attempt.

My objections to this preposterous, insane, rabidly totalitarian groupthink are basically of two classes.  To begin with the practical: respecting the claim above would bring us instantly to an absurd standstill—a train wreck of insoluble situations where life would simply have to go into a deep freeze.  Consider the following few cases which spring to mind instantly.

Most contagions are primarily spread by hand: hands are constantly touching our faces and then proceeding to door knobs, paperwork, furniture, light switches, faucets, and so on.  If we’re serious about not spreading SARS-COV2, then all of us should be required to wear gloves.  The gloves themselves, as ersatz hands, must be shucked and replaced at intervals of no more than half an hour.

Infections of most varieties are spread through travel: ergo, we should impose rigorous travel bans.  Trips should be permitted if we’re making an essential run to a nearby destination: e.g., a grocery store. Otherwise, wayfarers must be seized and punished.

We certainly shouldn’t permit people to smoke anything, whether nicotine, marijuana, or vaping compounds. We shouldn’t allow our fellow citizens to strain their lungs, because this would make them more tempting targets for respiratory infection… which, in turn, could be spread to us innocent bystanders. The same reasoning might be extended to obesity. People who are overweight tend to huff and puff, and one cough from their ample lungs… well, there you go. Potential murderers, every one!

And when it comes to jeopardizing the lives of others, why stop at the Corona Virus?  Driving itself claims around 40,000 lives each year in this nation.  We know that operation of cell phones while attempting to drive is risky behavior, and in much of the country it’s now illegal; but we also know that sustaining a conversation with someone in the passenger seat is distracting, as is attempting to manage food.  Therefore, vehicles should not be allowed to move on the road that have an occupant in the passenger seat—unless, perhaps, that person is wearing a gag; and any driver caught behind the wheel with a Big Mac or a Smoothie King should be sent to Reeducation Camp for half a year.

As practically idiotic as any program must be that aims to ensure the “health of the collective”, I’m infinitely more disturbed by the moral assumptions—the immoral presumption, I should say—behind collectivist hygiene.  The very idea that my society has the right to make me impede my airflow out of consideration for others is the most maniacally self-centered inversion of selflessness imaginable.  I exist.  You exist.  Each of us poses certain potential threats to all others around us through the mere fact of our existence.  We might misstep on an escalator with dozens of people below us.  We might swipe an incautious pedestrian starting across an intersection while we’re peering at street signs.  We might drop something that creates a sudden racket in the presence of a cardiac patient.  Human life is a constant stream of such risks.

I’m not threatening your existence because I choose to have an existence.  If I choose to sing, I’m not a threat to your life because I open my mouth and expel air.  If I choose to sit at a table and eat a meal, I’m not a threat to your life because the juices circulating on my teeth may be ejected invisibly and borne away by the wind.  If I hug a child who may go to the same kindergarten as yours, I’m not a threat to your life because an infection may be passed along from me the next school day that could eventually terminate you.

All such considerations are a selfish paranoia of unimaginable proportions.  The spiritual sickness oozing from these equations  is almost as baffling to me as it is disgusting.

Well… the phone conversation degenerated very quickly as its volume rose.  I’m not proud of having lost my control to the extent that I did; and as a matter fact, I paid the price for it this past week.  I won’t claim that I came down with a nice new case of COVID-19… but something flu-like certainly overtook me once my nerves were shattered and my resistance level bottomed out.  Headache, congested lungs, extremely painful aching in the joints, neck pain, chills, weariness, a low-grade fever… I got almost no sleep on Saturday night, and this is the condition which started overshadowing me on Sunday morning.

Just to cinch the argument—not that I’m going to phone S with an update—my duel with this baleful flu-like adversary was treated by… staying quietly at home, nursing myself, taking lots of naps, minimizing my physical activity, and sustaining a good diet.  I’m feeling immensely better as I sit here dictating this article.  I didn’t need to go to the hospital.  I didn’t need to sit in the emergency room.  I didn’t need a physician prescribing Remdesivir or Hydroxychloroquine.  I’ve had the flu before.  I treated my round of plague sensibly, and… what do you know?… within three days it had virtually disappeared.

Am I now supposed to quarantine myself for two weeks?  Why?  I wear a mask in most public settings—and the mask absolutely prevents the Corona Virus from exiting, right?  Besides, all the people around me have masks on, too, so they cannot breathe in my toxic exhalation. And since we’re both masked, everyone is doubly protected, yes?  So the world is absolutely safe from any threat that might come from my direction.  I’m so happy!  Aren’t you happy?

It’s become a bromide that politics is now destroying civility, friendships, and even family relations because we’ve grown so intransigent in our views.  We can no longer agree to differ.  Um… true and not true, I would say.  If you deny to me the freedom to take a few steps on God’s earth, enjoy God’s golden sun, and breathe God’s fresh air—if you even revile me as the author of a moral atrocity because I go down the sidewalk humming a tune—then we’re not disagreeing over whether the jogging trail should be plowed under to make a traffic bypass.  You’re not even just committing an outrage against me personally.  You’re blaspheming against Creation—you’re adoring Moloch.

I miss that little girl in those black-and-white photos, S.  I’m sorry she exists no longer.  I miss her so much!  Who did that to her?  Who kidnapped her and transformed her into what you are?

Nothing Will Change

author’s original oil painting (from 40 years ago)

Trying to write a commentary this weekend while ignoring next week’s events is like staying mum about the proverbial pachyderm on the divan.  Nevertheless, I don’t think the dawn of November 4 will satisfy our human craving for change.  No, not for any of us.  I don’t intend those words entirely in the sublime sense of Ecclesiastes (viz., “What has been is what will be; there’s nothing new under the sun”).  I mean, as well, that our specific ordeal as hapless citizens of the US in 2020 will drag on.  The forces that have plotted political ambushes and assassinations behind the scenes from within the CIA, the Department of Justice (smirk), and Wall Street will not let anything so banal as a national election decide who assumes the reins of power.  We’ll have enough misery in local, state, and federal courts to last us well into the new year.

So don’t look for shelter, at last, from the directionless, spontaneous, insane whirlwinds of 2020 to appear by Thanksgiving, or even by Christmas.  Don’t suppose that the finish line is just around the next turn.  It isn’t.  La paz empieza nunca, as Emilio Romero wrote shortly after World War II of the fight against creeping totalitarianism: “Peace begins… never.”

When I was concluding Why I’m Not Dead, an account of my recovery from Stage 4 cancer by turning away from mainstream American medicine, I confessed that my experience had shaken me loose from a lot of illusion and fond fantasy.  None of my daydreams has been harder to surrender than the belief that we might actually leave the world a better place for our children.  I chafe every night, as I bare my soul to God, against this sobering admission.  But so it is.  We completed the latter half of the twentieth century without inaugurating another world war or igniting another nuclear weapon over a human target… and what have we got to show for so much “progress”, really?  A general populace so subservient in mind and spirit that the Chinese Communist Party may rule our nation soon without having fired a shot.  We’re already scurrying around in search of “virtue points” even without the presence of eavesdropping cameras in every corner and closet.

My sister continues to believe that Putin pulls our president’s strings (as opposed to Ivanka and Jared), that COVID 19 leaves pericardial muscles permanently damaged, and anything else that her one rag of record tells her.  My former minister was practically executing rhetorical high-fives in this week’s circular because one of her parishioners (an octogenarian with previous conditions, as I recall) was admitted to the ICU with COVID—as if to say, “You see?  I told you all that this was deadly!”  The personnel at the “integrative medicine” clinic where I receive weekly transfusions of Vitamin C continue to mask up religiously, despite mounting evidence that obstructing respiratory passages for hours can be severely harmful.  (Ironically, a superstar in the integrative medicine world, Phoenix’s Colleen Huber, has been permanently banned from Twitter and roundly denounced on the Internet simply for highlighting some of these risks.)

Meanwhile, my son and his peers continue to battle with acute depression in their city’s lockdown, where many of them go the entire day without seeing another human being face to face.  The suicide rate in their demographic has skyrocketed; yet the generation that ought to include their parents (and I write “ought” because we are all parents of the forthcoming generation) utters paranoid whines and whimpers because masks and lockdowns do not straitjacket the whole planet roundabout, 24/7.  Think of it: people whose natural lifespan can scarcely now contain more than a mere decade or two of earthly time fume because the despair-inducing isolation of their children isn’t airtight.

Several governors have announced that large family gatherings over Thanksgiving will be banned in their state.  The presidential candidate who has spent the past half-year cringing in his basement from the “pandemic” incoherently promises to open the nation back up while also promulgating a universal mask mandate.  And the incumbent president, though at last lending an ear to Dr. Scott Atlas, also refuses to distance himself from Dr. Anthony Fauci (who now foresees extending mask- and lockdown-protocols until 2022).

Our news media are going full-throttle into bald-faced, gob-smacking propagandist mode.  “Oh, look: he used income-averaging one year to pay virtually no tax!  Hark ye, one and all!  List, ye people!”  And then, the next day… “No, debunked.  Debunked, do you hear?  ‘The Big Guy’ could be any guy… and why wouldn’t Xi’s minions, Putin’s henchmen, and the ruling-class dregs of Afghanistan and Iran want to pay this nice young man a few measly million for his advice?  What’s the matter with you all?  What has so polluted your souls?  Why are you so cynical and wicked?”

Why?  Because of an infectious disease called thinking, which somehow—incredibly—manages to spread even through the Internet and in other public forums.  “This cannot stand!  Stop the circulation of disruptive ideas!  Fact-checkers, to your posts!  Certified experts, hone ye your excising blades!  Black-splashing redactors, let the ink run like the Nile in spate!  We’ll do the rest.  Wolf is at full-cock.  Jim has girt his loins.  Christiane’s cup of words runneth over.  Brooke’s blinders are cinched tight in battle-mode.  Dana has memorized the interview questions passed along via secure email.  Let’s roll!  Dorsey, Zuckerman, Bezos… just keep further breaches from opening.  We’ll do the rest: we’ll make castles of clouds, tropical resorts of death camps, cordon-bleu cuisine of cow’s dung, sweet camomile of sulfur.  We’ve got this.  We’ve trained for this.  It’s what we do.”

Satire is all that’s left to the seeker of truth who’s determined to honor the principle of free speech.  It would be so easy to cry for the guillotine, to volunteer for journalist firing squads… but this, of course, is the very hell-on-earth vision that cultic ideologues hug to their hearts.  We must somehow not become them.  The energy consumed in mere resistance to such ugly impulses—in clinging to the negative virtue of not acting—leaves one exhausted.  We must find that energy, as our better angels pant and faint.

Yet where does it end, if the lithe-tongued lackeys of totalitarian utopia are not to be jailed or gagged?  “Foul deeds will rise, though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s eyes”…. But will they?  Why?  How?  When all men are forced to go masked, and when all speech is passed through filters that catch far more truth than face-diapers catch virons, why should we be confident that the vipers among us will writhe helplessly and wither away once the sun rises? The sun that never sets, yes—the immeasurable truth of eternity, yes… but between now and then? What justice will there be between now and then?

Karl Popper’s Note 27 to the seventeenth chapter of The Open Society and Its Enemies expresses confidence—from the perspective of over half a century ago—that the Press might be made to fulfill its civic duty if elections affected by misinformation were repeated, with the newsrooms and studios responsible for the fraud being made to foot the bill.  How naive that great mind seems now… now that we know just how creative human mendacity can be.  The truth exists.  But does the unnamed “mother of three” interviewed in a high-crime neighborhood represent prevailing opinion?  If it should turn out that she’s the mother of none and has been coached in her views, are those views necessarily wrong?  Or if she’s all that she seems and also accurately projects the neighborhood’s mood, is a mood evidence that the real problem has been grasped?

I don’t see when or how this kind of thing gets better.  The tribes among us will have to wear their masks and feathers until they kill each other off—and perhaps the rest of us with them.  Those entrusted with words so that disputes may be reasonably resolved will continue to overdraw on Reason’s account until its last penny is assumed to be counterfeit.  The wildfire must run its course.  If a few of us find a low, barren place where the flames pass over lightly, then we will indeed have occasion to give thanks.

What a reckoning for the incendiarists, when the stars bend to earth and show them real fire!

Scientific Reasoning: Remedy to Pain or Recipe for Panic?

I haven’t use the Dictaphone on my iPad for two years.  I wouldn’t be using it now except that I can’t type with two hands.  My right arm is about to fall off, and I don’t want to overdose on Tylenol, which has seen me through much of this week. I decided that the ordeal that I’m going through might be instructive in a more general way.  I hope so… at any rate, it’s all I can think about for the moment.

I could adopt the attitude of a certain neurologist that I visited one time (and only one): that is, assume that any pain in my body is my prostate cancer metastasizing again.  The arm seems to have somewhat migratory pain from the top of the shoulder down into the wrist.  Migratory pain: that’s sort of heads up.  And then… well, 2+2 = 4, doesn’t it?  Patient had prostate cancer earlier this summer; now patient has migratory arm pain; ergo, must be the cancer coming back again in a new spot.

That’s the kind of analysis that a cancer patient would embrace naturally enough.  I suppose all of us (or those of us with certain unwholesome personality traits, anyway) immediately lunge to the worst possible scenario.  Something well worth remembering about science, however, is that it yields no absolute truth.  If one is trying to diagnose a pain in the body or any other empirical problem, one looks for evidence to support this or that particular theory over its rivals.  In my case, the “cancer” theory doesn’t have a whole lot of evidence behind it.  It’s about as nuanced as the 2+2 = 4 formula: you had cancer before, you have a pain now, the pain must be cancer.

But I can also, with reflection, link the pain to specific “trigger” events having to do with excessive exercise.  As a kind of would-be hitting instructor in baseball—an excavator of techniques long forgotten by the game—who operates a site at SmallBallSuccess.com, I construct hypothetical versions of century-old swings all the time.  One in particular had me jamming my right elbow quite a bit in the follow-through.  Not that I’ve ever played golf… but I believe golfers rather famously have the same problem.  The severe compression of elbow and shoulder joints seems to have pinched a nerve, or perhaps strained ligament.  When I was too foolish to leave the arm alone completely for several days, the pain quite predictably kept returning.  It would get better for a while… but then I would assume that “a little bit better” meant “recovered”.  Incredibly (I myself am amazed at my stupidity), I repeated the same miscalculation several times.  At last a nagging discomfort became persistent aching of a magnitude greater than anything I’ve experienced for years.

So what should I conclude about over-exercise?  I used to work out quite vigorously and, as one might say, religiously.  Am I just getting old?  Am I looking at incipient arthritis?  Is there any relationship to my cancer adventure at all?  I think the answer to the last of these posers is probably “yes”… but not the facile kind of “yes” that my neurologist wanted to promote.  Rather, I suspect that, because I’m taking so many hormone-suppressants to deny prostate cancer its natural fuel, I am also denying my muscles and joints the fuel they need to recover from routine stress.  If this is so, then perhaps I can find supplements that provide muscle support without hormones and move a long way toward solving my problem.

This is in fact the step that I am currently taking.  (Sincerest thanks to Mr. Sanchez for suggesting Garden of Life FYI Restore Muscle—a 100 percent vegan option).  But, of course, I’m proceeding without having proved my hypothesis: I’ve only rendered it the more likely of two proposals (which is, I would add, precisely the nature of scientific “proof” in practical application).  Could I have overlooked other possibilities in my desire to embrace a less malign one?

I know from my first round with cancer that metastatic cells do tend to move in upon bones when incidental tears and stresses occur to muscle.  What about my present condition would cancel that scenario?

Actually, I have a second pain of note—and it’s in my hip, because my right arm had grown so sore that I decided to throw left-handed in another baseball video.  In doing so (another very predictable result, in hindsight), I strained the inside of my right thigh.  Again, that source of pain is fully explicable as the product of repeated (and bloody foolish) aggravation.  One special point of interest here, though, is that the hip has at last almost entirely recovered.  I’ve gone back-and-forth with both injuries, but the hip is the one I’ve treated better.  Recovery is almost complete.

That’s a positive sign.  The arm has likewise shown improvement over periods when I nurse it along.  That doesn’t sound like cancer.

I might further note that my heel spurs have been acting up even though I have done no jogging or extreme walking lately.  The only explanation for that pain, inasmuch as there are no distressed muscle or bone complexes nearby, would once again be that even minimal exercise is not being handled very well—by any part of my body.  Tissue is simply not rebuilding itself overnight the way it used to do.

Finally I should point out that my shoulder has been hurting me more right after I have a typing session, usually in the morning.  (Hence my dictating to this annoying little iPad.)  That seems pretty conclusive to me.  Lots and lots of tiny muscle groups are used in typing: we all know about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  The recurring pain after an episode of typing very probably points to muscle damage.  What I need to do is a) take my new pills to allow my muscles and joints to recover in the absence of hormones, b) stop exercising with the ferocity that I used to bring to the endeavor, and c) find new exercises that keep me fit but do not put severe strain on my muscles.

This, I submit, is how scientific reasoning works.  You form an hypothesis, you create tests for it, you look for evidence that supports or refutes it, and—in the happy case of discovering supportive evidence—you continue looking for more support… or contradiction.  You consider evidence that is conspicuous by its absence.  What does the theory fail to explain that you want to account for?  Any theory can have a certain amount of support and yet be incorrect if the examiner proceeds no farther.

Too often today, unfortunately, our self-styled scientists exchange professional high-fives after they account for a rather restricted body of evidence, and they go no farther.  Heaven forbid that anybody should turn over another stone!  In fact, people who try to do so in certain celebrated cases lately have been publicly denounced, reviled, blackballed, and refused a place in the public exchange of ideas.  I don’t recognize this as science, yet it’s the body of thought that my ex-minister refers to as the “best science” in a recent circular emailed to the congregation.  The “best science”, according to her, insists that mask-wearing is our surest means of protection against CV-19.  The implication, I guess, is that inferior science reaches a different conclusion; for how else can you rate this science if not by its conclusions?  Do our “best scientists”, then, have any concern about the overwhelming evidence correlating mask mandates and lockdowns with the spread of the virus?  

Apparently not. It is the “best scientists”, rather, who have refused to allow such information into the public forum.  They offer no refutation of the graphs at RationalGround.com rational or similar websites; theirs is the tyranny, indeed, that has prevented the formal publication of a major Danish study on mask efficacy for over two months.  Expected to reach the public eye in August, this research has so far been rejected by The Lancet and JAMA due to the political incorrectness of its outcomes. One contributor answered a query about the paper’s status in these words, more or less: “It will appear as soon as we find a journal brave enough to publish it” (source: Daniel Horowitz, Conservative Review, Episode 743).

One earns an instant ban from Twitter if one seeks to publicize any such inconvenient truth. The “best science” appears to be associated with the position of shutting people off when they question conclusions on the basis of an abundance of contradictory evidence.  I’m glad the evidence in my own case doesn’t indicate that my cancer is spreading.  I have recent lab results, as well, that wave no red flags, and I have the responsiveness of my body to gentle treatment when I decide to use a little common sense in my exercise routine.  I’m not coddling myself.  I’m not allowing myself to believe something that has little support.  I’m choosing the conclusion for now that appears to have more evidence behind it.  I am not panicking, though I easily could; I am looking at what facts are available to me.  I’m also looking for further facts that seem unavailable but may be hiding from me in the shadows.  Meanwhile, I’m taking action on the basis of the most probable explanation.

This is what science is supposed to do.  It’s not good, bad, worse, or better.  It is certainly not “the best”.  It’s simply a struggle for us to make sense of physical reality, the roots of which extend well beyond our possible understanding.

As a person of (I hope) moderate education and intelligence, I deeply resent the attempt of the “best scientists”—as they clearly suppose themselves to be—to shut me up, to keep me from asking questions, to keep me from sharing theories with others, to make me fall in the line and march in one direction.  This trend in our troubled society is the very antithesis of science.  It will prove to be the death of science is if we allow it to thrive.  It is an intellectual—yes, and a moral—cancer that has likely already metastasized and may yet precipitate our us.

Cancer and I: The Couple That Makes the Neighbors Cringe

If you were told less than half a year ago to buy a plot in the cemetery and get measured for a coffin—this by honored and decorated practitioners of mainstream American medicine—your perspective on a lot of things would change.  Having groped your way back among the living (thanks to a Mexican clinic unsanctioned by Their Holinesses at the FDA), you’d find that you didn’t care much about matters once deeply important to you.  “COVID-19: oh my God, there’s a .3 percent chance that I might die if infected!”  Nope… sorry.  Those odds don’t accelerate my heartbeat at all, except to make me angry with cowards who are terrified by them.  “Well, how about this: the nation is poised to elect a bunch of socialists who will so mangle the system that the republic can never recover!”  Okay, that’s disturbing… but it’s also a doom we have been collectively courting throughout my lifetime.  We don’t want to make our own mistakes any more: we want the avuncular hand of Government shielding us and guiding us through every corridor of our mortal existence.  We want to be treated as children… or as slaves whose only task is to vote for our Masters (for the brief time that we’re still allowed to vote).

I could get angry about that, yes… but why?  Why should I believe that human folly, so graphically illustrated on every page of history, has been banished from our own epoch?  Our species only learns, apparently, when water-boarded over and over in disaster.  We Americans will get the government we richly deserve next January.  The mainstream media made it all happen?  The universities made it all happen?  But who forced us to listen to the “news” or to submit our children to “higher education”?

Sometimes I think the only genuine Christians on earth live in China, where Xi Jinping’s ruthless tyranny suppresses, arrests, and tortures the faithful at accelerating rates.  Meanwhile, our priests and ministers urge us from the pulpit to support CCP-like social engineering projects and to scorn individualism as selfishness.  And we return every Sunday to hear more.

Maybe I was granted more time—how much more, nobody on earth knows—to peck out my contrarian telegrams as our society’s ship settles to the bottom.  Maybe that’s my part of the exchange that renewed my life in the flesh.  When massive food shortages make my eccentric diet impossible to sustain, or when rolling blackouts make my therapies impossible to continue, I suppose I’ll lapse into a steep decline.  Or maybe not.  Who knows?  Nobody here on earth.

My wife and I think a lot about where the “cancer road” may take us.  Most people, upon discovering that you’ve had cancer, assume that the scenario of your remaining life is something like the protagonist’s in that old Ben Gazzara series, Run for Your Life.  You have a year left, maybe two.  Oh, they’re all so sorry.  Poor baby… maybe you’ll get three.  I understand the reaction.  I was actually fortunate that the American “health care” system declined to give me any treatment at all.  My fellow patients at the Immunity Therapy Center in Tijuana had almost all suffered through a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemo.  The struggle of their weakened bodies to profit from more salutary, holistic therapies as mine did was uphill, and often heart-breaking.  In our medical system, cancer is “cured” in the same way as a death-row inmate is “freed” because a lawyer agrees to take on his appeal.  What a hope!

But for the rest of us cancer-revenants, with our hale-and-hearty physiques and our arsenal of vitamin supplements, how is the future any different?  Do we live until a car wreck claims us, or a heart attack?  Or do we still consider ourselves as having cancer, which will likely come roaring back within days if our bottles of pills stop coming?  Exactly what is cancer—what’s its modus operandi?  Is the mass of humanity free of it, while the unhappy minority must feel its shadow descending over their shoulders during every birthday and Christmas they enjoy from now on?  Is the burden of that shadow never to be removed in this life?

I could say (and I have said: I have a section of this tenor in Why I’m Not Dead) that we cancer survivors at least know which gate of the city is under attack.  The “healthy” around us could be harvested tomorrow by a stroke, by an overdose, by an undetected cancer.  (By COVID?  Very, very unlikely.  Could it be that we want to make a bubonic plague of SARS-2 because insulating ourselves from it gives us a sense of being shielded from all other assaults on our mortality?)  That ubiquity of exposure is true, insofar as it goes: the Reaper is stalking everyone.  But there remains something distinctly different about living in his shadow, day in and day out.  The blissful ignorance that renders the shadow undetectable to others does, after all, generate a kind of bliss.  We don’t enjoy that luxury.

And as far as I can tell, we’re not going to, we recovering cancer-holics.  The sobered-up wino dare not ever take a sip again; and most of our group, I think, are just as leery of ever eating sugar or red meat.  Half the contents of the grocery store now wear an invisible skull-and-crossbones as we run our eyes over the shelves.  We don’t even have intact memories in which to seek comfort… or, at least, I don’t.  When I recall the summers of pitching a baseball to my son in the back yard and try to sell myself on how happy times were then, my effort is immediately sabotaged by the thought, “But you had that hideous dark snake sliding around your entrails and didn’t even know it.”  I cannot make ignorance blissful even in retrospect: my ignorant yesteryears are now horrid to me.

Which, I might argue, makes me stronger than ever: mortality will never again be able to creep up on me.  That’s a great boon… but it can also be a great burden.  The childishly pious around me tell me to trust that God will keep me sound and whole, as if I might make a virtue of delirium—might shut my eyes, stop my ears, and sing hymns of praise at full volume.  “The night’s not there, there is no night: all is sweetness, joy, and light!”  Fa-la-la, fa-la-la!  And when I decline to chime in, they consign me to outer darkness.  Maybe cancer is God’s judgment on me for refusing to accept His gift of long life.  That God Incarnate promised us immense suffering as the likely recompense of virtue in this world is… is no longer the concluding instruction of the Beatitudes, I guess.

So you don’t seem to garner much comfort from the very quarter where you would have expected to receive it.  Comfort.  There are days, you know—many days—when I’ve thought that just seeing children playing in a park would chase the Shadow away.  They say that misery loves company… but it’s not true.  Or it’s only true of man in his most fallen moments.  The Shadow lifts one out of self-preoccupation, lifts one to prospects only accessible from the mountain’s peak… but our sick society has seen fit to drape those happy little valleys in mist.  If only I could have watched our local Single A baseball team play a few games this summer… but no.  But no.  But we had to exile every joyful social pastime from our midst because of THE PANDEMIC!  Because of the abject hysteria with which we greeted even mortality’s most wavering, transient vulture-shadow on the far horizon, we pounded all the joy out of life.  We pounded it sadistically, with the seventy-two knife wounds or cudgel blows that one reads of homicidal maniacs delivering to their victims.  Some of us did it.  I didn’t.  Maybe you didn’t… but a lot of us did.

Appallingly many cancer patients did.  I always want to say to them, “Don’t you think you already have death before you in a sufficiently palpable form without running panicked from doors that bang in the night?”  I don’t understand them.  I would have thought a round or two with cancer would give you the courage to measure your limitations as a secular being.

No children at play, and no ballgames: that’s been the hardest thing to bear.  Not knowledge of my own mortality, but knowledge of how little my fellow beings recognize the precious gifts within theirs.  I should have liked to see you all—you who don’t have cancer, or who don’t yet have it, or who don’t know that you have it—finding a spot in the sun, enjoying its golden touch, and blessing God for the day.  That would have done my heart great good.  Instead, I see you complaining—constantly complaining: the sun isn’t golden enough, its beam is too hot or too cold, the spot where it falls requires you to move too far.  You understand nothing, and you learn nothing.  The valleys I see are minute pockets of fools seeking refuge in caves. I’ll look for my little patch of sunlight today, as I do every day now.  It’s a lonely spot, but it’s directly from God, and I’ll take it.  I’m sorry that most of the rest of you won’t be there.

People of the Twilight: The Masked World Between Being and Non-Being

They fear life.  In many ways, they hate it.  It hasn’t been kind to them.  Mother Nature may have burdened them with unattractive faces, or the luck of the draw may have given them a single parent who bothered about their childhood needs a quarter of the time—and never on weekends.  Perhaps their temperament (who knows if such things are bestowed more by nature or nurture?) has prevented a comfortable degree of socialization.  They are oddball, alone, and without a cast of supporting characters or even a stock of pleasant memories to offer them refuge.

They’re likely to thrust a tremendous investment of affection upon a dog or a cat—the childhood- or bosom-friend they never had whose big eyes can always be interpreted as limitlessly loving and whose muteness as perfect agreement.  They tend to eat too much.  Whatever care they give to personal appearance often borders on self-mutilation, either to channel the loathing they feel for an unprepossessing body or, perhaps, to ground the argument that they could make a swan of the ugly duckling if they gave a damn.

Males, more often than females, seek escape in the virtual reality of video games.  The feminine taste leans more toward romantic fantasies available ad infinitum in ebook form.  Both sexes exploit social media in search of escape or relief—the male more likely to slash and burn with a lexicon learned from public toilets, pretending to be the buccaneer iconoclast he hasn’t the intellectual depth or moral courage to play in real life; the female more often curling up warmly behind an avatar and a trove of cliches that render her easily “friendable”.

The female is much more likely to have an above-average exposure to formal education.  One may even say that she is magnetically drawn to certain of the “social studies” in college because of the patented rationalizations they offer for her misery—the absolution of any personal guilt and the accusations lavished upon others.  Graduate-degree mills in several fields are indeed nothing short of a “crutch industry”, thanks to an abundance of her kind in the post-grad population.

The male of this species that dwells in twilight, while not so successful academically (and, for that matter, distinguished by his unsuccess in all endeavors), isn’t stupid.  He has a measure of intellect that might have been tapped for more-ambitious-than-average projects if only a means of motivating him existed.  He has dedicated whatever talent he possesses, sadly, to sneering and snarling at the system that walls him in with evidence of his failure and inadequacy.  He might possibly construct a bomb some day, and it might possibly be of the small nuclear variety: he has the acumen necessary for something of the sort.  The question is… does he have the courage, the hellish courage (think of Milton’s Satan), needed actually to make other humans who’ve never done him wrong suffer far more than he ever has?  Probably not.  Mercifully, in most cases, no.

As a footnote, I should add that another kind of male exists: more sociable, much more “female”.  Oddball yet eloquent, alienated yet readily found in company, he plays at the edge of twilight and represents an unstable ally.  His companionable qualities make him risky: he may withdraw in a given crisis from endorsing outright anarchy.  While he may follow whatever crowd forms to overthrow everything, he’s also apt to follow that hard day’s work with an evening at the theater or the cabaret.  He’s not a bomb-thrower; and if you yourself are one, you shouldn’t assume that he has your back.

Whether courtesy of the Ivory Tower or simply through natural attraction, both “pure” sexes of Twilight People are idolaters of the future.  The future is not now.  In Baudelaire’s grand phrase, it’s anywhere out of this world.  The details of that better—that oh-so-very-best—future are yet to be hatched out.  Why bother?  At the moment, the present needs annihilating, for Future Perfection cannot come to dwell among us until a place for it to dwell is swept clean.  A mind even of average intelligence, to be sure, would grasp early in “the struggle” that the Golden Age isn’t going to show up during the lifetime of its footsoldiers.  The Twilight People “get” this.  They embrace it, indeed.  The indefinite delay—the perpetual postponement—is more attraction than obstacle to the true believer.  After all, the future’s real gift is its looming, its approach.  One may devote one’s life to preparing the glorious way with far more zeal than one might bring to actual day-to-day life in any well-defined utopia.

The zeal’s the thing.  Life is hateful, miserable, loathsome… but zeal for tomorrow makes today tolerable—and may tomorrow, always almost here, never complete its disillusioning arrival!

Two further characteristics will likely have struck you about the People of Twilight as I wrote the previous couple of paragraphs: 1) they have no faith in any metaphysical reality, and 2) their zeal for “unreal reality” has been nudged into the gap of that missing faith.  It couldn’t be otherwise; for, as much as they shun daylight, they also fear the night.  They hate life, but they hate death, too.  They flee life, but can’t flee it too far—not beyond its edge; for in that chasm lurks the unthinkable, infinite and permanent oblivion.  Precisely because they’ve made nothing of life, they must cling to it.  It’s all they’ve got.  Maybe it will yet yield something pleasant, something worthwhile.  Probably not.  But at least there’s that chance in a million.  Beyond the pale, in the outer darkness… no chance of anything.  Ever.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of faith is its taking the terror out of death… and perhaps an advantage very nearly as great is its bestowing purpose on life.  Imagine the misery of having neither purpose nor a means of escape from purposelessness.  A difficult spot to find oneself in.  Twilight is the only alternative: a world that isn’t here-and-now but also isn’t the hereafter: a kind of ongoing suspension, a transport in cryogenic immobility from the hated world to the same world no longer hateful.  And you get there by dreaming of a world no longer hateful… on whose behalf you ignore, or actively incinerate, all in the world around you.

I’ve come now to masks.  I might have come to firebombing and Antifa, or to broadcasting made-up dramas in full awareness of their fantasy, or to translating every single human event into the plots and assaults of racists as ingeniously as John Donne transformed a flea into sexual intercourse.  But masks will do.  In fact, they are surely the supreme trope, the most expressive creation, of the People of Twilight.  The masked face breathes, but does not partake of your filthy public air.  That face may speak to you, but “socially distanced” and muffled by a sheet.  Its features are not those of a “death mask”, for the eyes remain open; but without contributing gestures from mouth or nostrils, the intent behind the eyes remains always equivocal.  Are they warm and simpatico… or are they hot and fuming?

The new face is half in the dying daylight and half in the clammy fingers of night.  It’s neither fish nor fowl.  Hands off!  You don’t know it—you have no hermeneutic key to its thoughts.  Wherever you may suppose it to be… it’s elsewhere.  Welcome to the brotherhood of the stay-away-from-me’s.

The rationale undergirding (or hiding behind) the mask is similarly evasive.  We are told that the mask keeps deadly microbes from exiting the wearer, and also that it protects the wearer from deadly microbes.  (Yet mask-cultists never appear to register anxiety about infecting others: their concern is always for their own vulnerability.)  The mask’s weave blocks minute viral particles… but it does not compromise the wearer’s lungs by trapping larger contaminants and bacteria before the mouth for hundreds of inhalation cycles.  The mask is security against a virus traveling everywhere—everywhere—in aerosol form… yet it’s unnecessary outdoors, and its challenge is largely met by social distancing.  Your mask will protect you from me… yet I must wear one, too, because yours may not protect you.  COVID virons are so tiny that two mask-walls scarcely suffice to impede their attack… yet the visible gaps around the chin and the nose bridge are too small to open a passage.  Bare hands are constantly in contact with noxious “naked air”… yet those same hands are forever readjusting the mask, with a thumb or fingertip slipping past the gate every time.  Or if the wearer always “purels” and/or removes gloves before every adjustment… well, didn’t a bare hand grasp the second glove to come off, or didn’t a bare hand hit the pump of the Purel bottle?  And there’s always that potentially lethal three or four feet between the bottle and the face, filled by ever-untrustworthy free air.

Neither dead nor alive.  The People of Twilight are among us, and they are legion: just how many, we’ll soon find out.  But a house divided against itself cannot stand, and a people half of whom flee the daylight cannot grow and prosper.  What the deranged cultists of the fleeing half refuse to understand is that twilight, by definition, is unstable, ephemeral: a flight into night.  To reject life is to run into death’s arms.  To deny God is to affirm fearful oblivion.  There’s no third option.

FREE EBOOK: From Sunday (October 11) to Thursday (October 15), this text that I created for a college class is will be available as a Kindle download at no cost whatever. Mainstream academic publishers, of course, didn’t want to take a chance on my thesis: that medieval scribes had faintly Christianized the ancient Irish legend of Cu Chulainn’s journey to the Other World and the Welsh Owein’s transits through the same interface. They bristled even more when I added Marie de France’s Eliduc to the list, these days treated only as an indictment of toxic masculinity. Yet the redemptive allegory, at least in the last two, is unmistakable… except to the unredeemed.

No Home on the Range: Corporatism Hunts Free Enterprise to Extinction

Last week I accomplished exactly what I expected, if not what I wanted: I left several readers supposing that I was a “snowflake-coddler”—that I found a period of internship in our economy’s miserable entry-level positions to be an excessively brutal demand to place upon tender young college graduates.  Which misinterpretation of my message indeed goes to show one thing (and maybe not much of anything else): that a man with a hammer sees nothing but nails, and a man who never removes his sunglasses finds the moon unimpressive.

No, those aren’t two things.  I’m trying to be apothegmatic.  Here’s an analogy that’s a bit less cliché.  Some people are going to stuff and mount you to fill a vacant spot in their display of felines even if you have feathers.  They class you at a glance, without study. They see in you what they’ve already decided must be there.  They hear in your utterances a script that they’ve already written in their heads.  If your audience consists only of them, you might as well save your breath.

I should know.  I’ve been trying to make the case for a “conservative conservatism” throughout the past three decades.  I always run into the “jobs/growth/innovation” types who don’t—who apparently can’t—realize that their vision is a progressive one: ever-changing consumer tastes, ever-responding markets, ever-shifting landscapes, ever-evolving standards of relevance.  No stability of foundational experiences, no permanence of places, little enough fixity in basic values.  I’m perceived by such people always to lose the argument—and, in the process, to disgrace myself with flabby, namby-pamby sentimentalism—because I don’t appreciate that Americans are tough, resourceful, energetic, dynamic, go-getting, risk-taking: the lumberjack, the cowboy, the wildcatter.  Yee-hah!

You know how that movie always ends, don’t you?  The lumberjack has no more timber to cut.  The aging cowboy finds that all the range is fenced in and that trains have supplanted cattle drives.  The wildcatter sits disconsolately in the tower of his mansion, abandoned by his third wife and reading the telegram about his estranged son’s death in a car crash.  “Yee-hah” is not a philosophy of life.  It might get Slim Pickens from the bomb bay door to the Kremlin atop his nuke, but it won’t get a child successfully to middle age.  You can’t discover human purpose in a life of consuming, moving to new pastures, and consuming again.

I decided (in vain, no doubt, with regard to those who never remove their sunglasses) to take one more crack at the subject by reflecting upon the walks my wife and I take through the all-but-empty Mount Berry Mall in Rome, Georgia.  With the onset of the fall allergy season, I can’t seem to spend much time outdoors… and one circuit of Mount Berry Mall probably gives us almost a mile of air-conditioned pacing if we wind around every nave.  I believe Berry College (now “University”, like all one-time colleges) sold the land for this ambitious project in the late Eighties.  The Mall isn’t at all old, as such things go, and parts of it are quite majestic.  It’s a pleasant venue.  Yet it has never prospered.  The Toys-R-Us sitting at the turn-in from Highway 27, where we bought a couple of my son’s favorite stuffed animals during our visits to his grandparents, has been boarded up now for well over a decade.

Meanwhile, the Mall’s interior has shrunk steadily—not in physical size, of course, but in its “enterprise footprint”.  The food court, teaming with exotic, high-calory options that are all strictly forbidden on my cancer-throttling diet, seems to be the only quarter that does any business.  J.C. Penney’s is selling off everything—everything, manikins included—at whatever price it can get, opening two afternoons a week.  The massive sporting goods outlet, Dunham’s, appears to have red blood in its cheeks, despite the utter invisibility of its customers; and Belk’s hasn’t yet gone as foul as whale on a beach (though the “50% off” signs in all its windows have an ominous smell).  Other than that, we see on our meanders only a half-dozen outlets for designer clothes (frilly tops for chic female teens, high-priced high fashion for their moms), fronts for the luxury-bath-and-soap market (represented now by just one Bed, Bath, and Beyond), a Kay Jewelers, and a salon where Vietnamese women discreetly perfect toe- and fingernails.

What else?  I think the space that sells smartphone accessories (not the phones themselves, apparently) may still be open, though its gate is never up nor its lights above a dull glow when we happen to pass.  Hibbett’s Sporting Goods has a presence, selling off metal bats and mouth-guards at the all-but-ubiquitous half-price.  At least three or four specialty shoe stores are stocked, not to be confused either with clothing vendors or sports-equipment distributors—wow, does our society ever pay attention to its footwear!  Otherwise… well, a lot of utterly empty space yawning beyond the glass of vacated showrooms: thousands of square feet of comfy indoor refuge the nature of whose previous commercial purpose cannot even be guessed today.

Why has the Mount Berry Mall failed?  Possibly, it hasn’t.  Its acres and acres of interior have all been freshly carpeted: convenient for our ambulatory exercise, but also a very curious investment on somebody’s part if there’s no plan for overhaul.  Let’s hope for the best.  But why was the Mall already failing twenty years ago?  It was on the respirator long before Dr. Fauci told our whole nation to stay home.

Some would say that the Internet has rendered storefronts permanently obsolete.  I have to question this, however.  People still crave places to go.  We’re social beings.  And once we find ourselves in a marketplace venue, we like to browse.  If various wares are spread around us, we often return home carrying a bag or two even though we had no intent of buying anything when we left.

There are also many items—admit it—which cannot be reliably purchased over the Net.  Remember all those shoe stores?  How many pairs of shoes have you put in your digital shopping cart that pained your feet when the box arrived, despite your having clicked on the proper size?  And with my revised diet, how many food products have I lately sent back to Amazon because the Web page didn’t reveal that they contained soy or added sugar?  There’s sometimes a real need to examine the product face to face.

Okay, okay… but still (says my snowflake-hostile cowboy), why do you suppose that a young person who wants to make dolls and teddy bears or to write and record songs or to collect and trade baseball cards should be able to make a living in such fanciful activities?  We should all have hobbies.  Especially because our day job can be so boring or soul-killing, we should most definitely have that special something done in our free time to lift us up again.  In the real world, though, the special something rarely translates into paid bills.  It’s foolish—pure pipe-dreaming—to suppose that an economy could run on lollipop fantasies of the sort.

If I wanted to be arch, I could play back for this urban cowboy (any urban cowboy: I know the species well) his own words mere days or weeks earlier when he praised capitalism to the skies for freeing people to chase their dreams.  Oh, yes: I’ve got that pep talk on my mental tape-recorder in thousands of renditions!  But I’d rather defend his compromising statement than deride it: I genuinely believe that free enterprise (which is sometimes distinguished from capitalism—more on that shortly) can indeed build a realistic bridge between people and their visions of sugarplums.

So you like to stitch together dollies and teddies (and who does nowadays… but say that you do): you wouldn’t need more than a closet-sized shop with a broad casement window to peddle your button-eyed wares.  Say that you write and record songs.  An even smaller closet would do.  Visitors could request that you compose a lyric for their wedding or anniversary.  Why not?  “Come back in a week—I’ll have it ready.”  And the card-dealer?  Some of his merchandise could be quite costly, so a tiny space in a secure, well-policed environment would be ideal.  All three of these improbable enterprises—and any number of others like them—would share one critical factor: each would profit symbiotically from the others’ presence, as well as from the colossal magnetism of Penney’s and Belk’s and Dunham’s.  Customers who might be vaguely enticed by such offbeat offerings but wouldn’t drive across town to browse through them would willingly stop by while on a more general shopping expedition.  Mere pedestrians like my wife and me, too, with no thought originally of buying anything might step in to admire Jurassic Teddy or to price a George Kell rookie card in good condition.

In short, the mall—the latter twentieth-century American version of the marketplace, the piazza, the agora—is ideally suited to promote the tiny enterprises of creative people with somewhat cockeyed visions.  But no, cries the Cowboy.  “No, it’s not!  Are you crazy?  Think of the overhead!  Such minuscule operations couldn’t begin to rent even the smallest space in a mall.”  Well, thank you, Cowboy, for bringing us straight to the heart of the matter.  Why can’t small entrepreneurs afford mall space, which ought to be infinitely more congenial to their bottom line than an independent storefront on Main Street (or a ramshackle lean-to bordering suburbia)?  Let’s consider the reasons.  They tell us much about how healthy, dream-friendly free enterprise degenerates into crony capitalism and competition-hostile corporatism.

Local taxes are a good starting point.  City and county governments seem to consider malls as rich terrain for plundering to fund their pet projects.  Precisely because so many shoppers go to malls and because so many huge national chains claim space in them, the haul is lucrative… supposedly.  Of course, these assumptions strangle the small enterprise from the start.  In and of themselves, high taxes make mall space prohibitively expensive for the doll-maker or card-dealer; and if he or she tries to pass the cost along to the consumer… well, suddenly the crap-shoot of buying footwear online seems a much better alternative than visiting Shoe Carnival.

The mega-chains seldom complain, though they probably should.  Large corporations have developed the philosophy that the more small businesses are driven under, the larger the pot left on the table for Penney’s and Belk’s.  In many specific markets, corporations even lobby government to raise taxes or impose new regulations, knowing that smaller competition will have to fold as a result.  I don’t see how Penney’s suffers at the mall from the presence of a shop that peddles leather jackets and teeny-bling, however.  On the contrary, the big fish can feed upon the customers drawn to the little fish as much as the little ones can snap up a few Penney’s patrons.  Nevertheless, the signs that Mount Berry Mall has become the exclusive province of vast chains are unmistakable.  The chains should have done more, not less, to lobby for lower taxes and lower rents.  Their survival-of-the-fattest DNA has targeted them for extinction in this instance.

Sometimes politics at the national level—macro-politics, as we might say—sabotages thriving small businesses.  The minimum wage is the most graphic example, with certain strictures associated with OSHA being a close second.  Tammy’s Teddies could make a nice go of it if Tammy could employ a couple of sixteen-year-olds at seven bucks an hour to work the cash register and arrange displays over the summer… but no.  Kids have to be paid like adults with hungry families at home, and to enjoy a full slate of benefits.  This is represented as “humane” by demagoguing populist politicians who don’t really give a damn about the average family’s income.  So Tammy can’t employ high-schoolers… Tammy can’t keep her door open… and Tammy goes on unemployment while she waits for Walmart to offer her a gig stocking shelves.

I’m not an economist.  I feel confident that I could double or triple this list’s length if I knew the all of game’s “inside baseball” realities.  And yet, economists with advanced degrees often promote the environment so toxic for small business that I’ve just described.  It seems to me that they bring to their studies a taste for centralization that dictates how they assemble specific facts.  I freely—even proudly—admit that, for my part, I have brought to my analysis a presumption in favor of the creative, energetic individual.  I hate “big”, because “big” suffocates.  Free enterprise is supposed to give “little” a chance to breathe and to thrive: that’s the proposition, dear Cowboy, which you’re supposed to be singing on your guitar.  Instead, you’ve been duped into warbling, “Leave the range unfenced and open—let those corporations move their herds!”  What you’re not noticing is that government is buying your saddle and stocking your chuck wagon; because government, for the sake of securing power over as vast a block of citizenry as possible, wants all the small sodbusters to sell up and move to the city, where they face lives of maximal dependency.  (It occurred to me, as I worked through this faintly humorous analogy, that I was describing precisely what happened during the British Enclosure, and especially during the Irish Potato Famines.)

We could make our young people eager to participate in the marketplace if it were truly free.  We could so energize them, indeed, that few would be interested in wasting four or five years expensively taking a degree in Sociology.  Instead, our “conservatives” have allowed Big Business to fuse seamlessly, almost invisibly, with Big Government—as the two all the while cultivate the public-relatio9ns myth that they are mortal enemies.  And the conservative plays useful idiot in the sell, more often than not.

So where did your open range go, Cowboy?  You still don’t realize, do you, that an unfenced plain prowled by the Wild Bill Gates Cattle Company is just a wind-tossed slaughterhouse for freedom.

FREE BOOK OF THE WEEKEventually It All Gets Used: Complete Poems of a Fragmentary Life contains every poem I’ve been able to find from my adult years—and I’m being rather liberal with the word “adult”. Actually, the early poems shock me now with the degree of severe depression and misanthropy hiding just beneath their surface. I also look back and see the struggles I had as a believer (during my thirties) in a very personal God while various forms of organized religion crowded my professional life (forms that sometimes had the aura of big business). Fatherhood transformed me—utterly transformed my life, like landfall on an enchanted island. Then, in my last productive years, I got a bit wry and testy about several political subjects which I’ve since learned to back away from. I’m much more of a contemplative now… but contemplatives don’t write poetry charged with angst!

You might or might not like some or most of these. They’re all free from today (Saturday, October 3) through Wednesday (October 7).

Finding Peace as Willy Wonka Socialism Closes In

A few weeks ago, I joined a new social-media outlet dubbing itself CaucusRoom.  I will recommend it at this point only insofar as I‘m seeking “followers” for my newly created “cause”: to wit, the securing of our lamentably exposed power grid.  In our present state, we could easily be plunged into a genocidal paralysis devoid of refrigeration, central heating, air-conditioning, communication (beyond earshot or line-of-sight), home defense (of any electronic variety), transportation (unless we own a pre-1980 vehicle—and even then, understand that gas stations won’t pump fuel), cash resources (if related to credit cards or online banking), medical resources (if they run on electricity or require transport to hospitals, which in any case will have shut down)… we’ll become prime candidates for being starved, frozen, or murdered, in short.  Most of us—predictions have reached the figure of 90 percent—will die within a year.  And there’s nothing tendentious about the science, though mainstream “journalists” skimpily cite 40-year-old papers to poo-poo the threat. Unlike “climate change”, which relies on a lame “greenhouse” model (the earth’s many active volcanoes do not simulate greenhouse conditions) and ignores the saw-tooth history of Earth’s climate over the past ten millennia, a massive solar flare is as much a cinch to happen as an 8.0 quake along the San Andreas Fault.

Okay, are you concerned yet?  I have been so, for a long time—about this and several other “causes”.  But my brief exposure to most of CaucusRoom has confirmed in me a lesson I was taught by cancer this past summer.  It’s this: life on earth for all of us, as individuals and as vast human (or even biological) aggregates, is finite.  At some point, we have a spiritual duty to prosper from our time here rather than to fret about how to make that time last indefinitely.  Quantity is not quality.  Inner peace—union with one’s Creator—is not achieved by digging a moat and throwing up stone walls of defense.  Most of the participants in this new SM platform, as with those who populate its cousins, appear to me to be “dug in” as they pay exclusive attention to some enemy at the gates, ignoring the state of the palace at their backs.  As long as there’s a “they” to fight, the value of the cause for which one is fighting doesn’t come under much scrutiny.

I began nursing this bitter (though strangely soothing) thought after I commented on someone’s post of a P.J. O’Rourke article… or I believe it was a review of the humorist’s new book, rather.  Now, taking humorists seriously is always an exercise in self-mutilation.  I should have known better.  But then, I don’t know that comparing our young “snowflake” generation to spoiled kids who want everyone to have a free doughnut (or something… I can’t recall the terms of the analogy, which was pretty lackluster) struck other CaucusRoom readers as tongue-in-cheek.  I don’t even know that O’Rourke himself had traces of wryness on his mug when he penned the words.  To a great many of us, exhausted with “wokeness”, our children appear to be over-educated brats who haven’t learned that (for instance) electricity doesn’t flow from Sheetrock if you just screw in a plastic outlet panel.

But some of us, too, have watched our children struggle with depression—and the ordeal is no joking matter, no comedy sketch about poor-little-rich-kids in a pastry shop.  Imagine that you’ve graduated from college and are starting your eight-to-five existence, which is supposed to carry you through most of your time on earth and to compensate or fulfill you over those decades with a rising salary.  There’s nothing remotely spiritual in the equation.  No deep satisfaction in the work you do has been factored in.  You know better—for that work is often service to an inscrutable machine whose ultimate objective is… well, the handsome profits responsible for your salary.  Higher motives be damned!

So, on that arid spiritual savanna into which you’ve wandered, you purchase gadgets and gizmos to amuse you over weekends. Eventually, as bank account and credit rating prosper, you spring for a 3,500-square-foot house just outside the taxable zones of Dallas or Denver. You take vacations to Vegas and Tampa one week out of the year, you smoke a little weed and acquire a fairly non-toxic alcohol dependency, you join a big church where you flutter dangerously close to flames lit by an abundance of highly discreet divorcees… and then the sand runs out of the glass.  That was your life.  You were a success, a good American: supported your church, never got caught cheating on your wife, sired and raised a couple of kids whom you reintroduced to the same assembly line (prep school, State U, desk at Merrill Lynch)….

Yeah, that’s your life.  That’s it.  What do you want, a free jelly roll?  I suppose you want everyone to have free jelly rolls… is that what you want?  What are you, a snowflake?

I don’t recall my precise comments upon the CaucusRoom post, which I haven’t managed to relocate, or the responses to my comments; but as telegraphic as all the “communication” was, I think it implied the tragic disconnect that I’ve tried to describe more amply in the last few paragraphs.  We “conservatives” don’t seem to have any detectable regard for quiet streets with shaded sidewalks and front porches where our aging neighbors rock.  Where those venues continue to exist, they characterize once-desirable settings (desirable in the Fifties, perhaps) which have now become “run down” and seem nearly devoured by adjoining overpasses and interstates.  Our “way of life” is the make-money paradigm that requires a constant purging of such neighborhoods, along with all other relicts and habits of the past.  What do you want… you want us to hold out for quaint corner drugstores and steeples nestled among tall trees in the Age of the Internet?  You want free doughnuts for everyone?  That scheme’s not economically viable any more.

Pardon me… but I think the miserable, anguishing poverty of this “conservative” rationale is why our children are Willy Wonka socialists.  Yes, their mother’s-day-out conceptions of how an economy might work if only we built chocolate factories everywhere are constructed of colorful, round-edged blocks that should have been left in the playpen; but… but is the sole alternative really spiritual annihilation?  Is that really all we’ve got to offer—is that how we intend to win them over?

I don’t begin to accept that the majority of these young, clueless wonders with worthless college degrees are lining up to enlist in Antifa.  My experience is that they really don’t like anything vaguely scented with politics.  They supported Bernie four years ago because he was their Willy, their clownish guide to an alternative world not slick with blood from cut throats and poignarded backs: the corporate world, the advance-at-all-costs world.  And they’re not all unemployable, you know.  Many of them have already doubled my best-ever annual salary, though they go to work dressed very casually in rags that do nothing to hide their rings and tattoos.  They fool around with computer code and in sound studios helping capitalist enterprises to exploit the dreamy gullibility of the masses—unaware of any potential hypocrisy in their labors since they themselves move in the vapors of a dream.  Thanks to their inspired work in the make-over room, DuPont or Halliburton or General Motors now comes off seeming infinitely more concerned about ushering you through the deadly pandemic than selling you… whatever it is such conglomerates sell today.  (Sometimes it’s hard to tell amid all the passionate dedication to “keeping you safe”.)  Insurance is peddled by a gecko or a flaky cop with an emu partner.  Red Bull gives you cartoon wings.  Suddenlink connects you in Instagram-length vignettes.  And of all the happy people dramatically or graphically represented on your screens as made safe, thoroughly insured, energized, and connected, a good half seem to have drawn their significant other from a different race.

I mention that final detail only to stress that, when Generation Z’s graduates do find jobs in some tech-related enterprise, they eagerly lend their gifts to imagining a world socially and culturally different from the one we actually see.  Yes, it’s a happy world: it always has been, in these industrial make-overs.  (When I was a kid, Paul Parrot would assure us that P.F. Flyers “make your feet run faster, as fast as I can fly”.)  But it’s also a more racially integrated world.  It’s a world where women don’t need fathers to raise their children, where svelte vegan retirees enjoy their golden years on endless Caribbean cruises, where energy really does appear to course from the Sheetrock.  I think the young designers of these Never Never Lands half-believe, in some spontaneous fashion, the utopian claptrap they grind out.  (Even the most alcoholic cartoonist, in contrast, didn’t believe Paul Parrot existed.) In the old days, you tried to convince the public that eating spinach would make them look like Popeye because you had an unsavory vegetable to unload.  Nowadays, fantasies are being packaged for the public by producers who themselves yearn to locate reality in fantasy.

Eventually and inevitably, some of these raptured cherubs accede to the control of their own enterprises… and they support leftist, statist causes.  Conservatives are shocked.  They protest, “It was free enterprise that made you a mogul… and now you want to throw it all over for socialism?”  But… but the Young Turks became rich by marketing their naïveté to others of their generation who were equally naive.  To some extent, you see, living in illusion can be profitable in a capitalist system.  I mean… if you thoroughly believe in your own illusions, aren’t you especially well suited to convince others of their truth who yearn to believe?

The yearning to believe… this is why, sooner or later, our society is doomed to become a socialist anthill.  Our children appear to us spoiled brats in a candy shop because they can’t “get real”, because they don’t understand “what it’s really like”.  Yet that bitter panacea—the well-paying job—which was flung back at me on CaucusRoom as the answer to their problems is part of the poison driving them to candy.  They don’t need money; or, at least, if they turn into the kind of human being who only needs money, then they will become as sick as if they’d gorged on socialist sugar.  What they need is higher purpose, which they misidentify with an egalitarian utopia. They don’t understand that Uncle Bernie’s Candy Factory must end up being Treblinka or Auschwitz because trying to better humanity within merely human boundaries always results in vast slaughter.  The visionary do-gooder must forever be melting down and remolding the millions of little morsels trundling along his assembly line; for the batter of which we’re concocted is flawed, and it doesn’t rise properly under heat.

They can’t see this, the children.  Our children.  They won’t see it until they live through their own nightmares on the assembly line.  The evils of socialism, I’m afraid, aren’t something you learn to assess by reading a conservative book or listening to a conservative professor (assuming that you could find either one).  They strike you between the eyes only after you come to understand human nature.  My brother and sister remain left-of-center, I believe, because they were relatively popular in their adolescent high-school-and-college cocoons, and the habits acquired in that insulated existence have clung to them.  I, on the other hand, while the least worldly of human beings, learned the deeper meaning of the Crucifixion after years of being an ugly duckling.  My misery was a blessing.  I came to grasp that people are fatally warped by their egotism—their unconscious, self-indulgent dedication to a script that casts them in an enviable role.  And the contradictory evidence from the “real world” that might have made their well-rehearsed lines taste foul in their mouths becomes, instead, the raw material for weaving ingenious new narratives….  So passes an entire lifetime, in many tragic cases.

This analogy portrays much more accurately what I see in young people than any facile comparison of them with spoiled brats surrounded by Krispy Kremes.  Of course, all of us parents want our kids to be well-integrated and “happy”—to be shielded in some measure from bitter truths about human nature.  Hence we send them forth into the adult world, all too often, as if it might be a place where they could simply share out confections to the hungry masses from miraculously self-replenishing shelves.  The fault for that, however, clearly lies in ourselves as much as in them.  We have fashioned this seductive Siren-shore of socialism by loving our little ones not wisely, but too well.

Now our society is poised to enter a period of rotting bones—of victims who have heard the sweet song and thrown themselves into the brine, thinking they could live forever on its melody.  We’ll have to get through that… or not.  We’ll have to get through a period of not getting through it.  We’ll have to rediscover true faith: the confidence, I mean, that peace and joy are already assured us in a higher reality, a “real reality”.  We’ll have to stop trying to substitute our own provisional, earth-bound realities for the genuine article—the very sin of which we so justly accuse our socialist offspring.

Take whatever November and the new year bring, and live in peace.

Free Download of the Week: Starting today (September 26) and extending through Wednesday (September 30), my collection of short stories, A Sleepless Man Might Earn Two Wages, is available as a free Kindle download.  Written over a period of two decades, all of the stories are intended to evoke the quality of a dream in some manner. Events, that is, are bizarre or even physically impossible in certain respects, yet their portrayal is simple, straightforward, and tantalizingly humming with truth.