Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Very Tired of Florida

It's been less than two years since a Jihadist with an AR-15 walked up to the Pulse night-club in Orlando, Florida, shot the lone armed guard at the door, strolled in and began shooting up the -- unarmed -- bar patrons at the height of Gay celebration night.  The bar patrons could do nothing but try to run and try to hide.  The vicious bastard killed 50 people and wounded another 58 before he was done.  It was a fish-in-a-barrel killing;  Florida law forbade anybody with a firearm to enter any place where alcohol was served.  That's why the lone armed guard was stationed outside the bar, easily spotted, easily shot.  The Liberals/Democrats/media raised the usual boilerplate howl about how legal guns were the problem.  The NRA offered free Concealed Carry qualifying classes to Gays.  A lot of Gays across the country took them up on it.

Today, at MS Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a 19-year-old punk who'd been kicked off the school grounds many times before sneaked back on campus with -- oh yes -- an AR-15 and shot up the school, killing 17 people and wounding 50.  This time the victims were a little better prepared;  as soon as the shooting started, somebody pulled the fire-alarm.  Kids and teachers who heard the shots phoned the police.  Two minutes later the school was evacuated.  This time the shooter was captured alive, and no doubt the psychiatric crowd will pick his brain for motivation.  Nonetheless, 17 people were killed and 50 injured.  Again, the Liberals/Democrats/media are promptly trumpeting their shop-worn push for more gun control.  The pro-gun-rights crowd have said nothing yet, but are busy digging for facts in the case.

Now what, besides the murderers' choice of tool -- the famous AR-15 (actually a light "varmint" gun, much more likely to wound than kill any animal the size of a deer, including a human) -- and choice of state, do these killings have in common?

The killers both chose gun-free/legally disarmed/fish-in-a-barrel targets -- whom the state legislature has done nothing to protect.

Now what if, after the horrific Orlando shooting, the state govt. had seen the error of its ways and allowed bar personnel -- or even designated-driver non-drinking patrons -- to carry concealed firearms inside bars, or other so-called "gun free" zones?  What if Florida schoolteachers who have CCW permits had been allowed to carry (concealed) inside schools?  In fact, what if the state of Florida had required all its schoolteachers to get firearms, train with them, obtain concealed-carry permits, and carry concealed firearms on the job at all times?  Florida law does, after all, not only allow but encourage banks to have armed -- and not always uniformed -- guards in banks, to protect the customers' money;  how much more valuable are its people, especially children?

But no.  In the nearly two years since the Orlando shooting, the Florida government has done nothing realistic, nothing effective, to prevent these fish-in-a-barrel shootings of helpless, unarmed citizens -- just the usual mouthings about "gun violence" and threats to disarm the innocent even further.  What can you say about a government that neither adequately protects its citizens nor even lets them protect themselves?

So much for Florida being a "red" state, or a "southern" state;  it's a hypocrite state with a useless government that ought to be thrown out in the next election.

--Leslie <;)))>< 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Another Chicago Tale

This is the story I was planning to tell before I learned that John had died.  It's a little more hopeful.

Back when I was living in Chicago, working with the union, there was a small shop just down the block from the IWW office that we liked to visit during the day.  (There was a tough bar up toward Halsted street where we went after hours, but that's another story.)  It was, so help me, a tea-shop.  It sold hot tea and homemade sandwiches which the customers could eat and drink at a handful of little folding tables and chairs, that were artfully covered with cloth throws, and it sold boxed teas of all kinds and flavors, as well as exotic incenses, incense-holders, and little brass statuettes.  It was the kind of elegant little shop that would have done well among the artsy crowd near the university campus or in an uppah-clahss neighborhood, but alas, the lady who ran it hadn't had the funds to pay several months' rent in one of those neighborhoods.  She had settled for what she could afford, a small storefront -- facing the park, at least -- in a poor-but-honest working-class neighborhood.  We loved the place, and patronized it as much as we could afford, but it never drew the crowds it needed.

There was no husband in evidence, but the lady who ran the place had a cute little boy named Charlie -- no more than seven years old -- who was clearly half-Asian.  We saw him often, because he'd come straight to the shop after school, sit in the back and do his homework until the store closed, and then go home with his mom.  On weekdays that was understandable, but when I saw him there one Saturday, looking miserable, I knew there was more going on than just schoolwork.  As a regular customer I'd become something of a friend, so I ventured to ask the lady why Charlie wasn't outside on such a nice sunny day.  She was almost desperately willing to tell me.  It seems that a bunch of the local kids had formed a small gang devoted to picking on Charlie, and they'd ambush or chase him and beat him up anywhere outside school or the shop or home.  She had no idea what to do about it, and was frantic for suggestions.

Ah, this was a situation I knew all too well from my own childhood, and I knew what to do about it.  So I finished the last of my tea, zipped up my black leather jacket, and said to the kid: "Hey Charlie, let's take a walk."

He was willing enough to get out of the shop under the protection of an adult -- and I must admit that in my leather boots and jacket, I must have looked pretty fierce to a little kid -- so out we went.  The first question I asked him once we got out the door was: "Where does this gang usually hang out?"

He pointed to the parking-lot just another storefront (closed) down the block, so I said: "Then let's go this way," and led him up the block toward Halsted Street and the drugstore on the corner.  There I bought him a chocolate ice-cream sandwich, and led him back out to the bus-stop where he could eat it in peace.

While he ate, I told him: "Charlie, you've got to settle with these bullies.  You're going to have to fight them, and fight them to a standstill, or else they'll just have fun keeping at you and making your life hell."  He looked grim, and nodded.  I went on: "You'll have to fight them, but I can set up the fight so that they have to come at you one at a time.  I can also give you some tips on how to beat them.  You willing to do that?"  He finished off his ice-cream, and nodded again.  "Okay.  You ready to do it now?"  He thought for a moment, stood up and said: "Yeah."

So we marched back down the side-street, and I told him to walk a good ten yards ahead of me so that the other kids wouldn't know we were together.  And sure enough, as Charlie walked past the edge of the parking-lot, out pounced half-a-dozen kids, aged seven to ten, one of them holding a bamboo stick taller than he was.  Charlie dropped into a defensive crouch, and the kids started to surround him just as I came marching up.

"What a fine gang of cowards!" I bellowed.  "What a great gang of chickenshits!"

That got their attention, and they all turned to look at me.  Apparently the sight impressed them.

"Six against one!" I went on, "And most of you bigger than him, and some of you have sticks.  Gee, what is he, Superman?  Or are you just a bunch of bullying cowards?"

At that they began to squirm and look sheepishly at each other.

"You want to fight him?" I continued, "Fine!  But you can at least have the guts to fight fair.  Let's go into that parking-lot and do it right."

I herded them, with Charlie tagging along, deep into the empty lot where I picked a good clear parking-space.  "You guys," I pointed, "You all stand on that side of the line, and you, kid--" pointing to Charlie, "Stand on this side."  They did, and he did, leaving the empty parking-space between them.  I marched into the empty mini-arena and asked: "All right, which of you wants to fight him first?"  Of course the leader of the pack -- also the biggest -- volunteered.  "So you stand here," I said, waving him into the parking-space.

Then I went to Charlie and whispered instructions.  "Run in fast, duck under his swing, and grab him hard around the body.  Press your face against his belly, so he can't punch it.  Use your arms to hang on tight, and pummel him with your legs, your knees and feet.  Got that?"  He nodded once, grim-faced and eyes narrowed.

"Okay," I said, stepping back to the head of the parking-space.  "Go at it!"

Charlie dashed into the arena, ducked low, and rammed hard into the bigger kid, hard enough to knock him down, but he managed to wrap his arms around the bigger kid's ribs.  Sure enough, he buried his face against the bigger kid's belly and hung on like a leech.  The bigger kid rolled over, trying to pry him off, but Charlie held on and used the opportunity to pummel with his knees.  The bigger kid rolled completely on top of Charlie, who now had clear space to kick high and hard with his feet.  The bigger kid punched futilely at Charlie's back, and rolled again.  Pretty soon they were rolling up and down the parking-space while the other kids yelled and cheered wildly, and I just stood like a statue, silently refereeing.

Finally the bigger kid pried Charlie's arms from around him -- and dashed out of the arena to the safety of his "side".  The other kids fell silent, amazed.  Charlie stood up, rumpled and panting, but triumphant.

"Okay," I said, striding to the middle of the makeshift arena, "Who's next?"

Instant silence.  The kids darted glances at each other, but nobody volunteered.  Slightly surprised, I strolled down the line of them, trying to make them meet my gaze.  "Nobody else?"  I asked, then pointed to another kid.  "You're the next biggest;  how about you?"

"Nah," the kid mumbled, shuffling backward and looking at his feet.  "I don't wanna fight him."

I sneered and moved on to the kid with the bamboo stick.  "How about you?" I challenged.  "You've got a stick."  I tossed a look back at Charlie and said to him: "You know how to fight a stick, don't you?  Same method."  Charlie thought for a second, then nodded.  But the other kid also backed away, muttering: "I don't wanna fight him."

"Nobody?" I snapped at them.  "None of you?  ...Yeah, just as I thought: a bunch of cowards, too chicken to fight one-on-one.  What punks!"  I turned my back on them and went to Charlie.  "Come on, kid," I said, "I'll walk you home.  Where do you live?" --as if I didn't know.

As we walked away, I heard the big kid muttering behind me, trying to salvage his pride: "He must know Karate," to which the other kids hastily agreed.  It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud as I took Charlie home.

When we got back inside the store, Charlie ran to his mother and hugged her jubilantly.  "I don't think he'll have anymore trouble," I reported, "At least for awhile.  If Charlie needs somebody to walk him home from school, just let us know."  Then I went back to the union hall.

Next time I dropped into the shop, a few days later, the lady couldn't thank me enough for what I'd done for Charlie.  Apparently the bullies had chosen to keep away from the very site of their humiliation, and had vanished from the block.  Charlie had no more trouble on the way home from school or anywhere else on the street.

Alas, the tea-shop succumbed to economic realities, and closed a few months later.  I never learned where Charlie and his mother went, never saw them again, but I daresay the kid did pretty well wherever they moved to.  I just hope he found another "referee".

To this day, when I look back on all that, what amazes me most was how fast the little bully-gang gave up once their leader got thrashed.  Was it just the presence of an impressive "referee" making them stick to the rules, or was it the upset of having their pet victim beat their best?  All I know for certain is what I learned as a little kid myself: when attacked by bullies, fight back;  at worst, you'll hurt them enough to spoil their fun, and at best, you can send them running.

--Leslie <;)))><             

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Another Good Man Gone

I was planning on telling another amusing tale from my wild and wooly days in the midwest, but it looks like I have to write another eulogy for an old friend.  Damn. 

Mary Creasey phoned me yesterday to tell me that her husband John had died.  It wasn't unexpected -- he'd been in a nursing home for nearly two years, trying to get his weight and blood-pressure down, and a couple months ago he had a neurological "incident" that behaved like a stroke, and since then he'd had one organ failure after another -- but, dammit, it was still a jolt.  The last time I talked to him he was bragging gleefully about having lost a whole 105 pounds, and I joked about not recognizing him when I saw him next.  I was so sure he was getting better!  I imagined that in another month or two he'd finally get the knee surgery, and be able to walk, and could go home again and take up half the reins of Random Factors Ltd., and we'd get those albums started...

Not to be.  Not to be.

Now everything's changed.  We'll get the albums done, just not as soon or easily as we'd hoped.  Random Factors will go on, so will the family, so will all of us, but it will be a lot harder.  I was hoping, last year, to get him to sing bass back-ups on the remake of Firestorm;  he had probably the best bass voice in southern-Cal filk-fandom.  And he did the marvelous photos for the cover of the two Kipling-album CDs.  And how I wish he'd written down all those incredible stories about his growing up in Ethiopia where his family worked on the country's first commercial airline, or his mother's tales of being an army nurse in World War Two, or his fascinating work with the little company that makes gas-flow regulators for spaceships...

And there was all the work he did in fandom, and not just in co-creating Random Factors.  I confess, I talked him and Mary into doing that, after Off-Centaur fell apart.  Other filk-publishers have come and gone, but Random Factors has lasted.  It needs to last, and not just for me and Mary, or to preserve/archive the works of filkers come and gone.  With all the changes wrought by the advances in the technology, the near-instant dissemination of MP3s, then near-infinite storage possibilities, the question of how anybody's going to make money selling what's running free on the Internet -- still, somebody has to do the original recording.  There still have to be CDs.  John was working on some ideas about that, but he never did write them down.  Now it's up to us. 

...For some reason I keep remembering a whacky dream John told me about, a few years back.  He dreamed he was at a big LA convention -- maybe LosCon, maybe a WorldCon, he wasn't sure -- in a hotel suite that was setting up for a party, when suddenly the numbers on the door began glowing.  There came a knock on the door, John went to open it, and Superman himself walked in, looking confused.  Nonplussed, but always the gracious host, John offered him a chair and a beer.  A moment later the numbers glowed again, there came another knock on the door, and in walked a puzzled-looking Thor.  Again, John offered a seat and a beer.  Another knock, and this time it was Green Lantern.  By now the first two guests had recovered enough to start questioning why they'd been yanked out of their respective lives/worlds/comic-books and brought here.  Another knock, and in came Captain America, soon followed by Batman, then Wonder Woman.  The crowd of superheroes determined that they'd been collected for some vital purpose, and were trying to figure out what it was.  John's comment was, "Well, I'd best go to the con-suite and get some more beer."

And at that point he woke up.

At the time he told me the story, I thought that yes, that sounded very much like fandom in action.  Now, I'm wondering if it wasn't prophetic.  We -- fandom in general and filk-fandom in particular -- are the bewildered "superheroes", however scattered into our separate worlds, who were gathered together by some unknown power (karma?) into John's hotel-room, for some mysterious purpose which it's left to us to figure out.  And John has gone out for the beer.

Damn, but we'll all miss him.

--Leslie <;)))>< 


Monday, January 15, 2018

The Racism Industry

This happened many years ago, when I was in college and living in a student rooming-house.  There were a few other tenants who weren't students, and one of them was a handsome young Black woman named Lavern.  She was well-educated, and intelligent -- except for her disastrous tastes in men, but we all have failings in that direction.  I recall it was sometime in the middle of Fall semester, and for some reason the company she'd worked for went belly-up, and she'd just lost her job.

We were sitting around the common-kitchen table bemoaning our pitiful financial states, and she complained that all the good clerical jobs in "college town" were taken, and she'd have a hard time getting work outside of it -- "because of the prejudice, you know."

"Why?" I puzzled.  "Because you're a woman?"

She gave me a shocked look and said, "No, it's because I'm Black!"

"Oh, right," said I, smacking my forehead.  "Sorry, I forgot."

Then she gave me a stunned look and asked, "How could you forget?  I'm sitting right in front of you."

"Sure," I answered, "I can see that you've got dark skin, but I forgot that it meant anything."

She gave me an odd, unreadable look, got up and wandered out, muttering: "...forgot it meant anything..."

That left me wondering, isn't that the point?  Isn't the point of the whole civil rights movement to make everybody forget that skin color, nose-shape, hair-color, etc. means anything?  If equality means equality, then why should such trivialities mean anything?  Does anybody remember, without stopping to think, whether Seabiscuit was a bay horse or chestnut?

For a few years it looked as if such forgetfulness was possible.  Up until a little over 12 years ago, I didn't run into any White people who cared at all about other people's skin-color;  race was "old-fashioned crap", and what people said and did was what mattered.  Colin Powell was the country's most popular general, Oprah was the most famous TV personality, and Bill Cosby was everybody's favorite comedian.  Sure, there were some White-racist groups -- like the LA police department -- still holding out and causing trouble, but for the most part White racism was galloping steadily toward extinction.

So who was it that kept fanning the flames, whipping up constant awareness of race and racism, not letting anybody forget for a moment that anybody's skin-color means something -- or should?

Well, I can readily point to Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, and a helluva lotta Black celebrities -- all of them successful and economically well-off -- who have, to be blunt, made their careers by hollering racism and stumping for funds thereby.  If White racism disappeared -- completely -- tomorrow, just who would be out of a job?

When Obama was duking it out in the primaries with Hillary Clinton, there were plenty of people saying -- like my old Chicago buddy, Cathy Taylor -- "Yes, I think America is ready for a Black president, or a woman president, but not that Black man, and not that woman."  There were a lot of planks in the Democrat platform that were worth complaining about, which have become a lot more visible since -- but Democrats, far more than Republicans, made the election all about Rejecting Racism.  Never mind Obama's spotty and questionable political background, and backers;  no, anybody opposed to him simply had to be "racist!"  The success of this tactic has led to its use under amazing circumstances, whereby anybody with a skin-tone lighter than yours can be attacked as a "racist", regardless of what that person is really saying or doing.  It's become practically an industry by itself.

Which brings us around to the media -- and a lot of political opportunists -- going ape over Trump's (unofficial, but overheard) comment about "sh!thole countries", like Haiti, and Nigeria, and some other unnamed African countries (and a few South American ones too, but nobody wants to steal the limelight from the Black "activists").  Never mind that Obama named one such country a "sh!t-show", and escapees from those countries call them "hellholes", or that a lot of inhabitants of those countries are saying in public that they agree with him -- oh no, Trump called those countries "sh!tholes",  and wanted more immigrants from places like Norway (which has an interesting history of contributions to American industry, but who's bothering to look?), so he's got to be thinking of nothing but the skin-color of the inhabitants.  He doesn't mean their cruel, corrupt and incompetent governments, or their disastrous economies, or their vicious and backward cultures, no: nothing but race, race, race!  Uhuh.

Who are the real racists here?

Now this whole flap started during a White House discussion about what to do with the immigration problem, and let's face it, having the 3rd biggest population in the world, the US does not need any more immigration.  If anything, we need to cut our population down.  The obvious solution is to pass a 10-year moratorium on all immigration, build The Wall (concrete and electronic), and seriously hunt down and deport the millions of illegal immigrants here already.  As for the DACA "dreamers", any of them who have at least begun the process of becoming citizens, and/or have joined the US military, can stay.  Just to be fair, let's make it permanent and retroactive law that anyone who serves in our military, finishes at least the minimum term of enlistment, and gains an honorable discharge, automatically gains citizenship on discharge if s/he didn't have it already.  That would be both effective and fair.

Why hasn't Trump done it already, or suggested it to Congress?  Maybe because he has to run a few more troglodyte-reactionary Republicans through his hire-and-fire mill.  Or maybe because he has to distract the attention of the Democrats, who seem bound and determined to run America's population up to 400 million -- so long as they all vote Democrat.

Now, what could more quickly absorb the attention of Democrats, their politicians, and their media-flaks?  Well, what's better than a juicy scandal?  Since Trump is a wee bit old, and well-married, for a sex scandal, what's the next best thing?  Why, ray-ray-racism, of course!  There's a whole political industry built around it, ready to mobilize armies of what Stalin called "useful idiots" to keep the topic hot and howling.  Hmmmm...

I'd keep an eye on what else Trump is quietly doing while the news channels yatter 24 hours per day about his "racism".       

--Leslie <;)))><


Friday, January 5, 2018

On Voter Fraud

I rarely re-print articles by other writers, but this one I think is worth repeating, even if it comes from a pro-GOP blog.  First off, let me say that I have no objection to requiring that everyone who wants to vote in an American election must show proof that:

1) S/he is an American citizen,
2) S/he really is who s/he says s/he is,
3) S/he really lives where s/he says s/he lives, and--
4) S/he is at least 18 years old.

Does anybody have a problem with that? 

As to whether there is persistent and widespread voter fraud in the USA, well, I was born and raised next door to Newark, New Jersey, and I lived and worked in grassroots politics for 12 years in Chicago.  'Nuff said?

With no more ado:

Dems Successfully Hide Voter Fraud

This week, President Donald Trump ended his Commission on Voter Fraud and the way the mainstream media are reporting it, makes it sound like there wasn’t any significant voter fraud uncovered, but that’s far from the truth. All it really means is that Democrats in a number of states refused to turn over any information that would prove Trump’s allegation of widespread voter fraud.

Not all of the states that refused to cooperate were Democratic led, as some states led by Republicans also refused to cooperate, but those states were largely angry that a non-politician who refuses to play their political swamp games won.
Trump tweeted about his decision to disband the commission, writing:

“Many mostly Democrat States refused to hand over data from the 2016 Election to the Commission On Voter Fraud. They fought hard that the Commission not see their records or methods because they know that many people are voting illegally. System is rigged, must go to Voter I.D..”
“As Americans, you need identification, sometimes in a very strong and accurate form, for almost everything you do…..except when it comes to the most important thing, VOTING for the people that run your country. Push hard for Voter Identification!”   
At this point, everyone needs to ask why Democrats have fought so hard against voter identification?
When a number of states passed voter identification laws, Obama’s crooked Justice Department took the states to court where liberal judges appointed by Obama ruled the voter ID laws to be unconstitutional.
I’ve had opportunity to discuss this with some Democrats and easily destroyed all of their arguments against voter fraud.
Most of them used the excuse used by Obama’s Justice Department, claiming that requiring voter ID is discriminatory against minorities and poor people. To this, I ask why it’s discriminatory and they say that many minorities and poor people are unable to obtain a valid voter ID. To which, I ask if most of these people receive any form of government assistance and they admit that most do. To which, I ask if they need some form of identification in order receive that assistance and they admit they do. That’s when I ask why it’s okay to require an ID for assistance but not to vote, especially when voting is a constitutional right and obligation and receiving assistance is not?
Then I take them to the part of minorities. Former Attorney General Eric Holder claimed that voter identification discriminated against minorities, especially black Americans. To this I ask why aren’t black Americans capable of obtaining a voter ID I’m told them aren’t able to travel to the locations where the IDs are handed out. To this, I ask if they are capable of traveling to a welfare office, traveling to a store, to a doctor and other places, so why aren’t they able to travel to the location necessary to obtain a voter ID, especially when voting is so important.
What difference does a voter ID make?
In the 2012 and 2014 elections, there were numerous incidents of voter fraud. There were numerous incidents where Democrats were instructing people how to vote more than once or in more than one state.
Between the 2014 and 2016 elections, several states, including California, passed laws that automatically registered illegal aliens and other non-citizens to vote, even though they cannot legally vote. More than one outfit claimed that over 3 million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election, most of which were Democrats.
Even the Washington Post, known for not being supportive of President Donald Trump or the Republican Party, claimed that there was evidence of voter fraud.
If, in fact those claims are true, then Donald Trump also would have won the popular vote as well as the Electoral College vote, which is why so many states, especially Democratic controlled states like California refused to cooperate with Trump’s commission on voter fraud. They obviously had something to hide and with the disbanding of the commission, it appears they succeeded.

D Jolly

Saturday, December 30, 2017


After a long hiatus, yes, I'm finally getting back to my series on modern American freedom.  I've said a lot of this before, but it does need repeating.

Throughout the last half-century, the grand strategy of the aristocracy – not just American, but from every country capable of supporting even a small super-wealthy class – has been to maintain their position through what Kipling called “The Peace of Dives”: interdependence for the rich, and complete dependence for everyone else.  “Globalism” is part of this pattern, devoting whole countries to single industries so as to make them dependent on other countries for everything else they need, let alone want.  Meanwhile, the aristocracy – the “one percent” – take care to own and control as many various industries, and lands, as possible;  “diversification” they call it, a means of guaranteeing their own continued wealth and safety no matter what catastrophe strikes anywhere else.  The problem is keeping the peasants at home from getting out from under proper control, which they have a lamentable tendency to do, especially in America.  Note how, despite the decades-long push for "globalism", and constant propaganda, Americans have obstinately refused to accept the concept of "gun control", and its necessary reliance on governments for domestic protection.  They've also, by and large, refused to accept floods of "Syrian refugees" which have proven so disastrous to traditional cultures in Europe.

When you start with a culture that emphasizes the value of the individual -- and individual competence, self-reliance, and responsibility -- and a government structured as a democratic republic, a would-be aristocracy has an uphill fight to establish or even maintain its power.  Suborning the national and local governments isn’t enough, because ultimately the politicians must keep the goodwill of the people at large in order to keep their jobs.  Even appointed or hired bureaucrats can be displaced – or even hauled into court – if they mistreat the citizens enough.  This limits how blatantly the aristocracy can use the government to loot the peasants.  Throwing the occasional politician or bureaucrat to the wolves of outraged citizenry is only a stopgap measure, because the peasants will notice, soon enough, that nothing about their condition has really changed.

Likewise, dominating the economy and weakening labor unions isn’t enough, because – despite lots of cunning government regulations designed to hamper small businesses (while being barely a sneeze to big ones) – the citizens still insist on creating small businesses of their own.  An independent businessman may work harder, at longer hours and with more responsibility than a hireling, and may be constantly at the mercy of the current market, but he’s still not dependent on any particular boss.  He doesn’t have to vote, speak, worship or think the way his boss wishes.  He’s in the position of the old English yeoman-farmer, or the Russian kulak – which is precisely why the British aristocracy and Russia’s Stalin made such efforts to wipe them out.  The American aristocracy may have severely weakened the middle-class, but they can’t eliminate it entirely.

Besides, those pesky mini-entrepreneurs are constantly finding new products, new services, new tactics, and new ways of getting in on the ground floor of new industries.  It won’t help to ruin your mini-rival’s credit if he can get funds by crowd-sourcing.  You may stop him from advertising his product through the mail or the news-media, but how do you keep him off the Internet?  You can price him out of manufacturing his product in a big standard factory, but you can’t keep him from 3-D printing.  Worst of all, you can’t keep him from learning these tricks by censoring the schools, because there are always libraries and the Internet.  You can try to censor the local Internet servers, but there are always hackers and pirates willing and able to dodge around you.  You can’t censor the phone system, because you need its capacities for yourself.  You can’t even starve an area into compliance if its people have learned the tricks of urban mini-farming and aquaponics.  So long as that enterprising and libertarian spirit is common among the citizens, you can’t quash them completely. 

All you can do is remain alert for particularly successful up-and-coming rivals, and stomp them individually.  For example, take the case of Changing World Technologies – which came up with the Thermal Depolymerization process for converting any carbon-bearing garbage to its essential minerals and light crude oil.  It set up its first factory next to a turkey and chicken processing plant in Carthage, Missouri, and began churning out 500 barrels of diesel fuel per day.  Certain residents promptly sued the company for creating bad smells (as if the poultry slaughterhouse hadn’t been doing that already for decades), and forced the company to shut down.  Also, some other company (which kept its actions and name remarkably secret) offered to handle the poultry waste at a better price.  The result was forcing Changing World Technologies into bankruptcy.  Its resources, including the conversion technology, were bought up by a Canadian company called Ridgeline Energy Services – about which very little is known.  So much for that rival.

Still, there’s no way to stop the proliferation of very small businesses, not with modern communications.  The “buy locally” movement is quietly growing, and attempts to quash it – especially with government intervention -- are met with surprising resistance.  Note the nationwide uproar (perpetrated through the Internet) that resulted when the FDA attacked dairy farmers selling “raw” milk, or the kids who sold homemade lemonade off a table in their own front yard.  There’s also a growing revolt against copyright law being used to prevent home repairs of computerized machinery, as in the case of the farmers versus John Deere and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.  And all the hasty laws against 3-D printing didn’t stop the creation of the Liberator II printed pistol.  The supposedly ultimate power of money, including the push toward abolishing cash in favor of more readily controlled electronic cards, has already engendered BitCoin and the expansion of barter – both online and face-to-face

And of course there’s the proliferation of urban farming, homeschooling, and home energy production.  These are usually denounced by the media as politically motivated, and of course the politics are branded fascistic – regardless of what the practitioners actually believe;  it’s in the interest of the aristocracy to persuade the populace that the government (and its professional cohorts) is always benign, and no one but an outlaw of some sort or another would even want to be independent of the proper rulers.  Still, the citizens don’t always believe what they’re told.  A concerted propaganda campaign during the ‘90s managed to discredit the name “survivalist”, but the survivalists themselves cleverly changed their names to “preppers” and their image to suburban white-collar, and have continued as before. 

American culture has always held that the basic unit of society is not the tribe, the household, or even the family, but the individual – which means that the individual must contain within him/herself the skills to survive if not succeed.  This takes broad and practical education, which the public schools are notoriously poor at providing, but the Internet makes it readily and cheaply available.  Anyone with intelligence and will can get it.  As for the unintelligent and apathetic, well, sheep have always been shorn. 

So it all comes back to competence and self-reliance, the ground and root for independence.  The cultural tendency to be competent and self-reliant is too strong and too widespread to be stamped out, so the grassroots rebellion continues to spread, and the aristocracy can’t stop it. 

How will this end?  There are three scenarios, but they all conclude – sooner or later – with the fall of the aristocracy, as such have always eventually fallen. 

The first, the peaceful change, would come if the increasingly disgruntled populace elects a smart and libertarian collection of politicians who legally dismantle the structure of laws, policies, and bureaucracies which maintain the status quo, and the aristocracy will have the sense to cut their losses and run, keeping their comfortable living – and their heads, literally.

The second is that some catastrophe will cripple and preoccupy all governments simultaneously, leaving the people to slip out from under control and run their societies themselves without interference, until they have the capability to shed their former masters. 

The third is that the citizens don’t wait for a distracting catastrophe, but begin sliding out-from-under by themselves.  In scenarios #2 and #3, the actual liberating will be only a matter of strategy and tactics, which competent and self-reliant people can readily choose for themselves.

It’s anyone’s guess which of the three is most probable.

--Leslie <;)))><                      

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, III: Melting Definitions

Hang on for the ride, folks;  this will be a long one.

It isn’t just nostalgia for my younger days that makes me cynical about contemporary “left/right” politics.  Neither is it the old saying, attributed to Clemenceau, that “He who is not a Socialist at 20 has no heart;  he who is not a Capitalist at 40 has no head” – hell, I was always an Anarchist.  No, it’s a sharp nose for hypocrisy and a clear memory of not-so-ancient history. 

When I was in college, never mind how long ago, the difference between “liberal” and “conservative”, between “socialist” and “reactionary”, and between “communist” and “fascist” was sharp and clear.  (Even then, we noticed that the extremes of both political directions curled around and met each other, nearly alike in attitudes and tactics.  It’s no coincidence that this is when the Libertarian movement began.)

In simple terms, the “left” was for civil rights and racial equality, for feminism and Gay rights and gender equality, fiercely for the Bill of Rights, for separation of church and state, against anti-Semitism and pro-Israel, against the war and very suspicious of Russia, China, and the Arabs. They also believed in the basic goodwill of government, and assumed that if they could only persuade a big-enough government to do the right stuff, all our sociopolitical problems would be solved.  They did have a vague notion of “globalism”, the old Progressive ideal of “All men are the same, the whole world around”, and that the ideal future would have a happy unified world under a single benign government, assumed to be the UN.  They didn’t spend too much time with that idea, though, being primarily concerned with immediate reforms.   

When it came to tactics, the “liberals” were meticulous in keeping what Dr. King called “the moral high ground”.  They’d spend hundreds of hours discussing the ethics, as well as the effectiveness, of their proposed actions – always aware that everything they did in public was intended to persuade the undecided to the morality of their cause.  They were very aware that the further left anyone got from their position, the less s/he cared about the ethics of tactics.  The “liberals” also had the advantage of being serious intellectuals who put high value on art – all the arts – which gave them a tactical advantage on persuasion;  they could effectively inject their attitudes into everything from theater to popular songs.

The “right” then ranged from “conservatives” to shameless reactionaries, but was undergoing some serious changes thanks to the war, Barry Goldwater and Ayn Rand.

The reactionaries were blatantly anti-Civil Rights and distinctly militarist, racist, sexist, and religiously biased – only Christians allowed, and preferably Protestants.  They were also furiously pro-war, anti-labor-union, plainly class-biased, hysterically anti-communist-or-anything-like-it, and were very much pro-government – right up to the point where governments interfered with businesses.  They were also distinctly anti-intellectual and suspicious of art and artists.  Their tactics were fairly simple and straightforward: entice money from sympathetic oligarchs – particularly in the military-industrial complex – use it to purchase controlling influence in the mainstream media, and campaign for likewise-reactionary political candidates.  And the occasional lynch-mob or police brutality was carefully ignored.  

But there were strong cross-currents running.  Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”, published in the 1950s, had been a steady best-seller since, second in sales only to the Bible, and her philosophy of “Objectivism” had quietly attracted millions – particularly among the young and intelligent.  It was at this time that Young Americans for Freedom – the first nascent libertarian group -- took off on college campuses across the country.  Their inspiration was about half Rand and half Barry Goldwater, whose “Conscience of a Conservative” helped redefine “conservatism” in years afterward.  Goldwater was called a “maverick” then, but his definition of “conservative” would have made him a Libertarian just a few decades later. 

Bear in mind that only a few years earlier the southern reactionaries – “Dixiecrats” – had finally figured out that the Democrat Party was (a century later!) no longer the opposition to Abraham Lincoln, and they deserted en masse to the GOP.  This had not done the Republicans any good, for it shifted the GOP severely into the reactionary camp – and its reputation likewise.  That was the real reason that Goldwater lost the election to LBJ.  And LBJ, despite his own political leanings, signed the historic Civil Rights Act. 

The mood of the voters had been shifting away from the reactionary position ever since World War Two, wherein Blacks, women, and other minorities had proved themselves in the war effort – in full view of everyone.  The revelations of the Nazi genocide won national sympathy for Jews (which neo-Nazis and Arabs have resented ever since), and the scientific advances during the war put anti-intellectualism in bad odor.  The necessary awareness of other countries involved in the war put paid to isolationism, as did the growing Red Scare – and the sensible opposition to it.  The reactionary right lost ground steadily, and by the time of the Vietnam War it was a visible minority.  The GOP was forced to scramble for a reasonable position between the dying reactionaries and the perturbing Libertarians.  The solution Republicans came to was an uneasy balance of “socially somewhat Liberal, fiscally Conservative”, which made them acceptable enough to elect a few presidents in the decades that followed. 

Meanwhile, the Libertarians quietly but steadily gained ground.  They created a formal Libertarian Party in Colorado, in 1971, and managed to get it on the ballot in all 50 states by 1981.  It has remained the only viable 3rd party in the US ever since, winning local and occasional state offices, and struggling against both mass shunning by the news media and repeated co-optation attempts from the rest of the political Right.  When the 2016 election campaigns left many Americans disgusted with both the major parties, the LP gained enough sympathizers – and enough votes – that the news media finally agreed to notice their existence and even give them a few opportunities to air their opinions to the larger public.

Likewise meanwhile, the political Left had progressed by quite visible leaps and bounds.  The “counter-culture” of the ‘60s spread to the mainstream culture, mostly through quality work in the performing arts, all during the ‘70s and well into the ‘80s.  Nixon’s scandal did the GOP no favors politically, and Jimmy Carter’s economic ineptitude did the Democrats no harm – until the Iran hostage crisis.  Voters elected Reagan primarily because they knew his militaristic attitude scared the Iranian government -- into releasing the hostages and backing away from its Jihadist ambitions as soon as he was elected.  His cunning use of economic warfare ultimately succeeded in bringing down the Soviet Union – which also got Bush Sr. elected on his coattails – but Democrats reliably took the majority of lesser offices, particularly at the state level.  American voters clearly wanted enough militarism to keep foreign enemies discreet, and enough sturdy capitalism to keep the economy healthy, but on all other social and political matters they liked the Liberal positions, particularly of racial and religious equality.  This was when federal bureaucracies and various police departments began accepting large numbers of Black applicants, assorted ethnic holidays became fashionable, and Women’s Lib, and then Gay Lib, became legitimate and popular.  And after one term, voters dumped Bush for Bill Clinton in ’92.

But something else had also been launched in 1971.  Two Alabama lawyers – Joe Levin and Martin Dees -- impatient with the slow implementation of the Civil Rights Act, founded the Southern Poverty Law Center for the express purpose of using lawsuits to enforce civil rights and “fighting hate and bigotry and seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society” – according to Levin, who remained a devout civil-libertarian all his life.

Dees may have had other motives in mind.  He had defended KKK chapters just ten years earlier, but clearly saw that the power of the reactionary Right was fading fast and there was no more money in defending it.  When he switched sides to help found the SPLC, he became the group’s chief fundraiser, gaining financial support from every Liberal/leftist group he could find.  Recruiting the famed civil rights activist Julian Bond to be president of the group was a real coup, granting the SPLC fame and respectability enough to open wallets everywhere, give the SPLC a multi-million-dollar war chest, and recruit lots of eager young Liberal law-students.

I recall that when I first encountered the SPLC, back in the late ‘70s, I sensed that there was something ‘off’ about them.  Perhaps it was my ex-SDS/IWW sensitivity to the danger of Parlor Pinks, but I sensed that they were entirely too rich and too Marxist to have the real interests of the people at heart, and I warned my fellow Wobblies to keep away from this bunch.  They, having the same sensibilities, did. 

To be fair, the SPLC did use their pet tactic well.  With crushing multi-million-dollar lawsuits on behalf of the victims, the SPLC did succeed in ruining a lot of the really blatant and vicious White-supremacist groups, smashed most of the legal and economic survivals of the Jim Crow laws, fought landmark cases for equality of women and Gays and the disabled, and contributed to the near-extinction of the Ku Klux Klan.  Through their well-funded research, they assembled probably the nation’s biggest list of what they labeled “hate groups”.  This impressed the FBI, which had not before then made any comprehensive list of its own, and so came to depend on the SPLC for its identification of “hate groups”.

Unfortunately, the SPLC began defining as “hate groups” (or just “haters”) as anyone to the political right of Eisenhower (who, being safely dead by then, couldn’t complain).  That came to include anybody criticizing policies the SPLC liked -- and with growing victories, money, and prestige, the SPLC’s tastes grew more demanding and extreme.  Former members began quietly dropping out.  Co-founder Joe Levin retired from SPLC in 2006 and went into private practice, where he wound up defending three southern universities in turn against federal govt. desegregation suits, arguing for mitigation of Affirmative Action decrees – and SPLC denounced their old civil libertarian and Black academics who agreed with him for “Appeasing the Beast”.

By then SPLC was provably the wealthiest civil-rights group in America, with reported assets over $200 million, and the IRS began asking discreetly about what Dees was doing with its wealth – besides purchasing for himself a 200-acre estate complete with tennis courts, pool and stables.  Undaunted, the SPLC expanded its “hate list” to include anyone criticizing immigration policies, Muslim fundamentalists, abortion laws, Gay Liberation, federal govt. overreach, and gun control.  At one point the SPLC considered adding the NRA to its list of “hate groups”, but backed off upon finding that the NRA had more funds, lawyers, and sympathizers than it did. 

In expanding its “hate list” the SPLC actively inflated the numbers of the moribund Ku Klux Klan.  Although the FBI noted that the KKK’s membership was less than 2000 nationwide, with at least 10% of those being police spies, the SPLC loudly claimed that there are 130 KKK groups in the US – and used this figure to campaign for funds.  In fact, the KKK was so small and fractured that it could no longer pay the salary of its last kingpin, David Duke.  As a result, Duke began hiring himself out as a political “spoiler”;  for an appropriate fee, he would make speeches praising various public figures so as to make them look like “White Supremacists”, tarnish their reputations and hopefully torpedo their careers.  There is no conclusive evidence that the SPLC ever directly hired Duke for that purpose, but that tactic would have dovetailed perfectly with their fundraising efforts.   

Worse, there is spotty but persistent evidence that “unknown sources” have been funding KKK and “alt-right” recruiting efforts, as well as outright hiring of “crisis actors” – if not actual agents provocateurs --  to play the part of “neo-nazis” in public, so as to make them look more numerous and dangerous than they really are.                                                                                                                                                                                   
Note that at roughly the same time the FBI had perfected the ancient tactic of provocateering into an elaborate system, typified by the CoIntelPro campaign originally aimed at the student civil rights movement.  It later used the tactic successfully against the National Organization of Women, using the “Judas goat” Andrea Dworkin.  The SPLC soon became aware of the tactic, and studied it thoroughly.  It has not, however, made any public comments about the government’s use of that tactic in the years since.  Bear that in mind.  Also consider the career of one Jason Kessler, former “Occupy” activist, who dropped out of sight for a few years only to suddenly reappear as the organizer of Richard Spenser’s “alt-right” protest in Charlottesville.  I believe we can add to the list of suspects for funding that elaborate caper. 

At another point, according to an unofficial but witnessed story, the SPLC tried investigating the Libertarian Party as a possible “anti-government hate group”, but retreated in dismay upon meeting an LP officer who was an openly Gay pot-smoker -- and learning the LP’s position on such things.  To all accounts, the SPLC has scrupulously avoided saying anything about the LP since.  It has also, I notice, avoided any mention of the IWW, or any other activist labor groups.  This is worth remembering, since the active labor movement had turned thoroughly against the Communists, Socialists and any brand of Marxist by the end of World War II.     

But possibly the greatest effect of the SPLC has been popularizing, and making into law, the concepts of “hate crime” and “hate speech”, concepts which they have spread world-wide.  If you think about it, laws based on these concepts are blatantly unconstitutional, because they make an emotion criminal – and thereby they make “thought crime” legal. 
In practice, this means that the nature of a crime is determined not by the action itself but by a witnesses’, victim’s, or prosecutor’s subjective impression of the perpetrator’s thoughts and emotions.  Evidence for “hate crimes” or “hate speech” can be nothing more than a witness’/victim’s claim of hurt feelings.  This can lead to such monstrous perversions of justice as (true case) sentencing a man to 15 years in prison, plus 15 years’ probation, for nothing more than leaving a pound of sliced bacon on the ground in front of a mosque.  “Hate speech”, legally, is free speech that hurts someone’s feelings, and depends for its severity on how much that person says their feelings were hurt.  This is a very poor basis for legal argument, and it’s hard to see how any rational adult could believe in it.

Unfortunately, the SPLC made a point of spreading its philosophy to a large number of sub-rational sub-adults. 

The college-student involvement in the reform movements of the 1960s and ‘70s impressed many with the political effectiveness of college students, and many were the Liberal political activists who went courting college students – and their professors – in the decades afterward.  Conservative activists tried too, but proved far less efficient at winning sympathizers.  Libertarian activists had better luck, but their hyper-rational philosophy had less appeal among the just-barely-legal-age crowd than the neatly sculpted emotionalism of the Liberals.

Part of this is only natural;  kids love to be told that there’s nothing more important than their own feelings.  However, most of the blame must be laid on the upper-middle-class style of child-raising, which tended to keep children childish for as long as possible – to reward emotions, downplay “cold” logic, and even assume that facts are mutable.  Between1980 and the present day, college graduates with these attitudes had flooded the job-markets of academia, journalism, and even government civil service – simply because other employment required a basic respect for facts and logic (rather than exciting pictures and sensational stories), and because a B.A. in any subject (including Liberal inventions such as “Oppression Studies”) could get you a mid-range job in the state and federal bureaucracies, particularly Welfare.

The result was a fertile recruiting-field on college campuses.  The SPLC, with its respectable list of “hate-groups” to target and its promise of lawsuits to back up any attack thereupon, was certainly not the only political group preaching to eager undergraduates, but it was among the most influential.  By the 1990s the phenomenon of “political correctness” was widespread and noticeable everywhere.

But power corrupts, and on many fronts – including the intellect.  Even as the old reactionary-religious Right was withering away to a rich-but-tiny minority, academic and journalistic standards in America began to sink – and political standards with them.  Regular surveys showed that a disturbingly large minority of college graduates were functionally illiterate in English, and total failures in Critical Thinking.  Media outlets reduced their fact-checking to a minimum, and real investigative reporters became an endangered species.  Government bureaucracies became politicized to the point of sue-able misuse of powers – and funds;  the two fastest-growing fields of legal specialties became civil-rights violations (real or imagined) and forcing government agencies to do their jobs, regardless of the politics of the recipients. 

Meanwhile, families too poor to send their kids to Liberalized universities sent them to technical “community” colleges – and, if lucky, high schools – instead.  There the students learned unflinching facts and logic and saleable technical skills, whereby they could move into the upper working-class or lower middle-class.  Even the military, that last bastion of guaranteed employment, had become very technically oriented;  again, facts and logic and critical thinking were necessary for job-progress, or even survival.

This difference created an unseen but deep division between the university-educated emotionally-oriented upper middle-class, whose politics were reliably left-wing, and the tech-school educated deadly-practical working-class-to-lower-middle-class, whose politics were all over the map.  The growth of the Internet made a wealth of information available to the latter, who made good technical, economic and political use of it.  Thus, by 2000, the old standard of class politics had stood on its head;  the “bourgeoisie” were now the passionate Leftists, and the “proletariat” were the coolly practical Right-of-center.

The terrorist attacks of 2001 only increased the political divide between them.  The practical/working class could see very plainly that Arab culture was the enemy, that too many Arabs/Muslims adored it, and that war between the two was inevitable.  The passionate Left collectively threw away its intelligence and pledged allegiance to the poor, misunderstood, innocent Arabs – on the assumption that they couldn’t possibly be so upset as to commit terrorism if they hadn’t been “oppressed” beforehand.  This led to some incredible intellectual back-bends (eagerly assisted by assorted Arab propaganda outlets) – such as opposing all wars (even those fought for survival) while encouraging civilian violence, blaming Israel and America for all the world’s troubles, claiming that the “White race” is inherently evil, hating Jews, fiercely attacking freedom of speech and the rest of the Bill of Rights as well, giving preferential treatment to Arabs and other Muslims, and elevating other cultures above existing law – even when the practices and foundations of those cultures are directly opposed to the rights and liberties which the earlier Left fought so long and hard to win.

Eventually even the Left’s bellwether, the SPLC, realized that it had created a monster that it couldn’t control – organizations like Antifa, BLM, and offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood ranting and rioting in public.  In particular, the FBI stopped using the SPLC as a reliable information source.  

At about the time that officers of Black Lives Matter began demanding in public that all White people should hand over their “car keys and checkbooks” and then die, the SPLC began adding “Black Separatists” to their list of “hate groups” – and admitting that there were more Black Separatist groups than KKKs, or White Nationalists, or “Anti-Muslims”, or even “General Hate” groups.  This is particularly telling when you see that the SPLC considers that: “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”  This is an awfully broad definition, since it would also cover groups that “hate” child-molesters, sex-traffickers, and other criminal gangs.  Also, as the Transgender Movement and the life and career of Michael Jackson have proved, very few characteristics these days are “immutable”.  It also still clung to its warning that “Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing” – which is exactly the same list that the more passionate Leftist groups practice.  So the damage was done, and shows no sign of abatement.     

This explains such things as the current Left’s adoration of the vicious Linda Sarsour, the government’s longstanding unwillingness to fight real wars to a solid conclusion, and the steady erosion of the Bill of Rights. 

It also explains the election of Donald Trump.  The practical working class didn’t vote for him so much as they voted against Hillary Clinton, and her promised continuance of the elite-Left agenda.  It also explains why the Libertarian Party gained enough popularityu to get increased attention by the media, and a notable increase in votes, despite its na├»ve attitude toward immigration and foreign affairs.  The corruption and excesses of what used to be the American Left have created the very “divisiveness” it now complains about, exacerbating an unspoken but definite class and cultural war.

Indeed, the so-called Left’s hysterical reaction to Trump’s election has revealed its present attitudes for all to see, and the picture is not pretty.  Today it’s the so-called Left which indulges in censorship, slander, biased news, racism, religious bigotry, hysteria, anti-intellecutalism, and fascistoid mobbing tactics – even as it calls its opponents “fascist”.  It’s the so-called Right which demands freedom of expression and support for the entire Bill of Rights, honors Black achievers like Colin Powell and Dr. Thomas Sowell, demands accurate verification of news media, insists on equal treatment of all religious groups, respects facts and logic, has developed a keen appreciation of the arts – including snarky comedians like Milos Yianopolos, the modern equivalent of Lenny Bruce – and is cautious of its own political fringes. 

Just about the only remnants of their political pasts that remain are the Left’s now-obsessive worship of “globalism” and the Right’s respect for the military and the occasional grim necessity of war. 

Other than that, the names remain the same but the definitions under them have shifted almost completely. 

--Leslie <;)))><