Wednesday, August 16, 2017

*Sigh* Such is love . . .

I've been battling with a case of the seasonal crud that's going around at present.  It's no fun, but you know what they say . . . take medicine, and it lasts a week;  don't take medicine, and it lasts seven days.  It's that sort of crud.

Anyway, I knew I had it bad when I said to my wife this afternoon, in passing, "I love you."

She replied, "I love you too, my little plague vector."



The Shadow no longer knows . . . he's become politically correct!

Courtesy of a link at John C. Wright's place, we find this absolutely magnificent - albeit magnificently profane - rant concerning how political correctness has invaded even The Shadow.  Mr. Wright writes:

Dynamite Comics just put out a new version of The Shadow. The Shadow is and has been my most deeply beloved character of my imaginative life.

They turned him into an SJW who lectures villains on their white privilege.

I am not making this up.

While in the middle of gunning down two Virginia Tech style mass murderers, The SJW Shadow tells them that they were born atop a pedistal of privilege, and their loss of power when the minorities lives improve erodes their “empire”, which is what drives them to their crimes.

. . .

... in a comic, the Leftist can reverse the polarity of reality, and have the most proto-Objectivist hardcore vigilante in comicbookdom turn into a morally ambiguous Antifas lefteroon.

The comic also pauses to have the viewpoint character, a Hispanic woman, say that there are no heroes in life, merely violent men. Heroes are merely gangsters in white hats.

Interesting message to put in a story about the most iconic vigilante of all time, the human version of an archangel of merciless wrath-of-heavenly vengeance.

. . .

If Walter Gibson returns from the grave as a ghost in a black hat and cloak, half unseen, heard only as a whisper or a mocking laughter,  armed with .45 automatics, to carry out a divine vengeance against these greasy leftwing harpies, who despoil every feast they cannot eat, it would be only justice.

There's more at the link.

Mr. Wright also embeds the video below, along with a warning that it's not safe for civilized consumption due to language and other issues.  I agree . . . but it's such a magnificent rant about how the PC (politically correct) and SJW (social justice warrior) brigades have ruined comic books, that I simply can't resist posting it.  Watch at your own risk!

Suffice it to say that if the older generation of comic fans - those who took the genre to the heights, back in the '60's, '70's and '80's - had had to endure this sort of crap, the genre would never have taken off as it did.  Instead, it would have been (more or less mercifully) euthanized.


I'm sick of political wreckage. Let's have some other wrecks!

Here's another series of rally accidents.  At least they're relatively bloodless, and everyone (except those in the vehicles) seems to enjoy them!

Yeah.  That'll get the taste of Charlottesville out of our mouths for a while.


Is Antifa the American ISIS?

I've been trying to analyze the behavior of the far left wing in America over the past few weeks.  I speak as one who's been through one national revolution (the transformation of South Africa from apartheid to democracy), and witnessed several others in the continent of Africa.  I know what political extremism means, what terrorism means . . . I've experienced them at first hand.

As a starting point, let's take Peter Beinart's view of 'The Rise of the Violent Left'.  I'll quote extensively from it, but you really should go read the whole article.  It's worth it.

To most left-wing activists during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama years, deregulated global capitalism seemed like a greater threat than fascism.

Trump has changed that. For antifa, the result has been explosive growth. According to NYC Antifa, the group’s Twitter following nearly quadrupled in the first three weeks of January alone. (By summer, it exceeded 15,000.) Trump’s rise has also bred a new sympathy for antifa among some on the mainstream left. “Suddenly,” noted the antifa-aligned journal It’s Going Down, “anarchists and antifa, who have been demonized and sidelined by the wider Left have been hearing from liberals and Leftists, ‘you’ve been right all along.’ ” An article in The Nation argued that “to call Trumpism fascist” is to realize that it is “not well combated or contained by standard liberal appeals to reason.” The radical left, it said, offers “practical and serious responses in this political moment.”

Those responses sometimes spill blood. Since antifa is heavily composed of anarchists, its activists place little faith in the state, which they consider complicit in fascism and racism. They prefer direct action: They pressure venues to deny white supremacists space to meet. They pressure employers to fire them and landlords to evict them. And when people they deem racists and fascists manage to assemble, antifa’s partisans try to break up their gatherings, including by force.

Such tactics have elicited substantial support from the mainstream left.

. . .

Antifascists call such actions defensive. Hate speech against vulnerable minorities, they argue, leads to violence against vulnerable minorities. But Trump supporters and white nationalists see antifa’s attacks as an assault on their right to freely assemble, which they in turn seek to reassert. The result is a level of sustained political street warfare not seen in the U.S. since the 1960s.

. . .

What’s eroding ... is the quality Max Weber considered essential to a functioning state: a monopoly on legitimate violence. As members of a largely anarchist movement, antifascists don’t want the government to stop white supremacists from gathering. They want to do so themselves, rendering the government impotent.

. . .

Antifa believes it is pursuing the opposite of authoritarianism. Many of its activists oppose the very notion of a centralized state. But in the name of protecting the vulnerable, antifascists have granted themselves the authority to decide which Americans may publicly assemble and which may not. That authority rests on no democratic foundation. Unlike the politicians they revile, the men and women of antifa cannot be voted out of office. Generally, they don’t even disclose their names.

. . .

Revulsion, fear, and rage are understandable. But one thing is clear. The people preventing Republicans from safely assembling on the streets ... may consider themselves fierce opponents of the authoritarianism growing on the American right. In truth, however, they are its unlikeliest allies.

There's more at the link.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

Where else have we seen such tactics recently?  Oh, yes . . . ISIS/ISIL!  The fundamentalist Islamic terrorist movement that has plagued Iraq, Syria, Libya and many other countries in recent years appears to follow almost exactly the same principles, albeit from a religious rather than a political perspective - but the results are the same.  ISIS dictates to people how they should and may behave, in moral, political, social and cultural terms.  Dissent is not only not tolerated, it's punished severely, frequently with death or torture.  There is no 'state authority' to whom to appeal:  ISIS is both the religious and secular authority, and makes no distinction between them. Its propaganda and indoctrination reach from the cradle to the grave.

Death sentences for conduct such as homosexuality are immediate and automatic, and there is no appeal.  Conform, or else!

If Antifa and its ilk are like ISIS (and I believe they are, although not [yet] so far sunk into terrorism and depravity), they can be expected to be just as intolerant of doctrines and positions that differ from their own.  Isn't that exactly what we're seeing on the streets of America right now?  It hasn't yet gotten to the point of Antifa throwing dissenters off buildings . . . but they will gather with sticks, stones, clubs and improvised flamethrowers, and attempt to disrupt the gatherings of those with whom they disagree - often violently.

What's more, Antifa's leaders and organizers are simply not prepared to accept that they might be wrong in their interpretation.  They are fanatical in their views, and are not open to discussion.  Take, for example, the views of Yvette Felarca, one of the organizers of the riots in Berkeley last year.

I see in her precisely and exactly the same fanaticism that I see in ISIS spokesmen.  Facts don't matter:  only her interpretation of those facts is relevant.  Her tactics may not be so far gone in violence and bloodshed as those of ISIS, but that may not last.  In pursuit of her ideals, her perspective, I doubt that she would flinch from personally using violence on her opponents.  She may already have done so during the Berkeley riots, for all I know.  Certainly, her Antifa allies don't shrink from the prospect.

(Readers may recall that I linked to the "It's Going Down" web site last Saturday, and provided examples of its propaganda.)

Antifa, Black Lives Matter, Occupy . . . all those movements appear to involve the same organizers, and follow basically the same principles.  They all try to disrupt the existing order and violently oppose it.  They refuse to entertain the idea that there might be another side to the issues they raise, instead insisting that only their views are correct.  In their intolerance, in their political and social obsessiveness (which borders on religious fanaticism), I submit that they have become the equivalent of ISIS in America.

The only question is, can we deal with them more peacefully than we have had to deal with ISIS in the Middle East?  That remains to be seen.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Two new fun, short reads

Friends in meatspace and cyberspace, Tom Rogneby and Alma Boykin (the links are to their respective blogs), have each put out a new piece of short fiction in the past few days.

Alma's newest is a collection of five short stories titled 'Familiar Tales'.

The title doesn't mean that the stories are familiar;  rather that they're stories about familiars, the spirits (usually in animal form) who are 'assigned' to magicians and other arcane practitioners to help them in their work.  Alma's 'familiars' are sometimes a hindrance, too, due to their somewhat . . . ah . . . eclectic natures.  The collection of stories is a lot of fun, with several sections that had Miss D. and I laughing aloud.

Tom's latest offering is a short story titled 'The Boogeyman'.

It's about a private investigator with paranormal leanings, and a lot of experiences he'd rather not have had - hence his title.  He looks scary, but he's good at his job.  This story tells the tale of one such job, in a way that has you riding right along with the hero.  Good stuff.

Both books carry Miss D.'s and my seal of approval, and they're very reasonably priced.  Recommended reading.


Heh - Google edition

Crisis magazine offers this satirical take on the Google political-correctness imbroglio.

To: All Google Employees
From: Unoi’m Carasee, Vice President of Mutually Exclusive Propositions
Subject: The Recent Outrage

Dear Google Employees:

In light of the horrific assault on Google values recently made by a former employee, we feel it is necessary to add a few further propositions to the official Google List of Mandatory Beliefs. In order to retain their positions, all Google employees must assent to the following two Statements of Fact:

1) For the purposes of employee non-discrimination policy, there is no such thing as a male brain or a female brain. Any suggestion to the contrary is rank bigotry.

2) For the purposes of transgender policy, each person’s brain is either male or female. Any suggestion to the contrary is rank bigotry.

Perhaps the first reaction of some of you will be that the two statements above cannot both be true. That is Western, patriarchal, non-intersectional thinking. Such thinking is merely a sign that your brain has not been fully Googleized. Accepting the truth of what used to be called “mutually exclusive propositions” can be difficult for the uninitiated, who bitterly cling to outdated ideas. But once you internalize contradictions, affirming the logically impossible becomes easier and easier every day. As an exercise in proper thinking, I myself assent to at least three impossible contradictions every day before breakfast.

There's more at the link.  Good for a giggle!

The sad thing about the infamous memo and Google's reaction is that the whole thing shows the insularity of Google management.  They literally seem incapable of recognizing their own failure to comply with the fairness and inclusivity standards they preach.  Their institutional blindness is mind-boggling.


Errr . . . oops?

I've always regarded sex work as a lousy job.  This incident last week appears to prove it's a s***ty one, too!

A popular strip club in Abbotsford, BC has been closed until further notice after several dancers contracted diarrhea last Friday night. The cause of the incident, which remains under investigation, has been initially linked to a contaminated buffet at the venue. While the investigation continues, the venue has not been named.

. . .

Patrons at the venue who were sitting near the stage were the most directly affected by the incident, which occurred close to 11pm. According to a witness at the venue, three dancers were performing on separate poles when the first sign of trouble emerged ... ‘a stream of brown liquid soon gushed over the stage splashing onlookers’, according to the witness. “It was absolutely disgusting,” he told journalists. “A number of guests immediately puked. I personally ran for the exit, I lost all interest in the show.”

The other dancers on stage also suffered from diarrhea soon after and were forced to abandon their performance. “They had a hard time getting off the stage,” said one witness, who stayed to watch the aftermath of the incident. “High heels and diarrhea really don’t mix.”

There's more at the link.

Clearly, this particular strip club is (literally) not for the anal-retentive!


After Charlottesville: some very interesting responses

There have been a large number of comments and developments following last weekend's violence in Charlottesville.  Here are a few that I found particularly interesting.

1.  The ACLU questions whether law enforcement was deliberately trying to provoke a confrontation.
"It is the responsibility of law enforcement to ensure safety of both protesters and counter-protesters. The policing on Saturday was not effective in preventing violence. I was there and brought concerns directly to the secretary of public safety and the head of the Virginia State Police about the way that the barricades in the park limiting access by the arriving demonstrators and the lack of any physical separation of the protesters and counter-protesters on the street were contributing to the potential of violence. They did not respond. In fact, law enforcement was standing passively by, seeming to be waiting for violence to take place, so that they would have grounds to declare an emergency, declare an ‘unlawful assembly’ and clear the area."

2.  It looks very much as if the political leaders of Charlottesville were actively interfering in law enforcement activities.  Fox News reported that "officers were instructed to make no arrests without the explicit approval of the Charlottesville mayor".  Given the politics of that council and its leaders, this should give any objective observer pause for thought.  For more information on that, read the section 'Bonus: Report from the Field' at Stilton Jarlsberg's place (scroll down at the link to find it).

3.  This political interference appears to have stretched all the way to the head of the state government.  City Journal reports:
Almost at first contact, Charlottesville mayor Michael Signer and Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and cancelled the demonstrators’ permits, whereupon police began funneling the alt-right protestors away from the designated demonstration site—and, some reports have it, toward the counter-protestors. The carnage followed in short order. Whether the breakdown in police protection was purposeful—that is, intended to quash a constitutionally protected demonstration and provoke a violent confrontation—is a question unlikely to be pursued in Virginia’s present political environment. As partisan eye-gougers go, Governor McAuliffe, a Democrat, is near the top of the list; Mayor Signer, also a Democrat, seems to be cut from the same cloth.

But deliberate or not, the effect was the same: when the sun went down over Charlottesville Saturday, the First Amendment was lying in the dust, and the civic ties meant to bind all Americans were just that much weaker.

4.  Brendan O'Neill summed up the situation very well, IMHO.
"It's becoming so clear now why the war of words between SJWs and the new white nationalists is so intense. It isn't because they have huge ideological differences -- it's because they have so much in common. Both are obsessed with race, SJWs demanding white shame, the alt-right responding with white pride. Both view everyday life and culture through a highly racialised filter. SJWs can't even watch a movie without counting how many lines the black actor has in comparison with the white actor so that they can rush home and tumblr about the injustice of it all. Both have a seemingly boundless capacity for self-pity. Both are convinced they're under siege, whether by patriarchy, transphobia and the Daily Mail (SJWs) or by pinkos and blacks (white nationalists). Both have a deep censorious strain. And both crave recognition of their victimhood and flattery of their feelings. This is really what they're fighting over -- not principles or visions but who should get the coveted title of the most hard-done-by identity. They're auditioning for social pity. "My life matters! My pain matters! I matter!" The increasing bitterness and even violence of their feud is not evidence of its substance, but the opposite: it's the narcissism of small differences."

5.  Lawdog summed up the heart of the matter in his usual inimitable way.  Here's an excerpt.

Gentle Readers, free speech is messy.  It is ugly, precisely because free speech that everyone agrees with does not require protections.  Why would you protect speech that upsets no-one?  Why would you need to?

Even worse is the call for the government to declare that certain speech is "hate speech" -- because getting the government involved always works out so well -- and to give the government (and the flawed, flawed humans who make up that government) the power to declare bans on certain speech.

To put it in simple language even a college student can understand:

Do you really want President Mike Pence deciding what is protected speech, and what speech should be banned?

Because that is what you're going to get in the future.

How about President Greg Abbott after Mission Creep gets into the mix?

 How would you feel about President Ted Cruz deciding what speech you should go to jail for?

That, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what you're setting yourself up for when you start yick-yacking about the government banning speech.

"But, LawDog," I hear you snivelling, "Some speech is an incitement to violence, and should be against the law."

You know what?  Let's look at that.

I have heard folks chanting, "What do we want?  Dead cops!  When do we want it?  Now!" rather recently.  About me, and those like me.

Is that not an incitement to violence?  Ask Dallas PD, and their dead brothers.  Should it not be "against the law"?

No.  It is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

I can show any number of YouTube videos of imams calling for jihad, for the slaughter of Westerners, for the genocide of an entire people.

Is this not an incitement to violence?  Ask the dead in San Bernadino, at Ft Hood, at Orlando, at the Boston Marathon.  Should it not be "against the law"?

No.  It is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

"But, LawDog, Nazi-related speech is banned in Germany!"

I don't give two hoots in hell about how they do things in Germany.  You like their restriction on free speech -- move.  Delta is ready when you are. Scram.

So.  To break it down Barney-style:  your calls to ban speech -- even Nazi speech -- is un-American.  And once you've begged government to pass that first law banning speech, it's a simple amendment to expand those bans.  Think about the absolute worst politician you can think of in the White House.  Worse than Trump -- because they're out there, and they've got as good a chance at the Oval Office as Donald J. Trump had -- think about that politician being able to amend a law banning speech.

There's much more at the link.  Recommended reading.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Doofus Of The Day #970

A tip o' the hat to an anonymous reader for forwarding the link to today's award, which goes to a couple in Florida.

A Florida couple transporting a propane barbecue grill inside their SUV was injured Sunday after a woman lit a cigarette, sparking an explosion.

The grill was turned on and the propane tank was open in the back of the red Kia Sorento when the couple left a barbecue at the Central Florida Fairgrounds, Orlando police Lt. Cindy Lane told the Orlando Sentinel.

After the explosion, the vehicle kept traveling until it crashed into a pole, according to Lane.

There's more at the link.

Let's see . . . roof ripped open and blown upward . . . windscreen blown out . . . I'd say they're lucky to be alive!  Why the hell didn't someone check to see that the gas was both switched off, and disconnected, before they loaded the grill?


That'll put the cat among the penitential pigeons!

I note that Australia is considering forcing priests to reveal child sexual abuse that might be mentioned in the sacrament of penance, commonly known as Confession.

Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended in a report on Monday that all states and territories in Australia introduce legislation that would make it a criminal offense for people to fail to report child sexual abuse in an institutional setting. Clergy who find out about sexual abuse during a confidential religious confession would not be exempt from the law.

There's more at the link.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

I can understand why the Commission is proposing this . . . but it's going to produce a head-on clash with the Catholic Church, because priests are required - on pain of instant, automatic excommunication - to keep confidential any sin discussed during the sacrament.  There is no way the Church is going to relax that rule, even if priests may be jailed for refusing to obey secular law(s) to the contrary.

The irresistible force is about to meet the immovable object.  Get the popcorn, folks.  This is going to get heated.


Tourons in Yellowstone - a potential solution?

(For those who don't know it, the word 'touron' is an amalgamation of 'tourist' and 'moron'.  It's a fitting description of most of those portrayed in the video clips below, IMHO.)

We've already seen more than one incident where tourons at Yellowstone National Park learned the hard way that bison are not pets.

And, back in 2015, a touron actually wrote to the administration about their lack of trained bears.

Now comes news that the park is nearing its capacity for vehicles and visitors.  (Some would say it's already exceeded its capacity in practical terms.)

I have a suggestion.  Why not operate a lottery?  Every vehicle entering the park should be allocated a number.  Every hour, one number will be drawn at random, and the occupants of that vehicle get introduced to bison and bears at halitosis range.  In exchange for the injuries and deaths that will undoubtedly result, they get to park for free.  The other tourons get to watch and take pictures . . . until the next drawing, an hour later, when they may find themselves providing the entertainment.

I reckon that wouldn't take long to reduce tourist overcrowding quite satisfactorily, don't you?


Racial and extremist violence in Charlottesville, VA

By now I daresay all my readers are aware of the tragic - and totally avoidable - events in Charlottesville, VA last weekend.  I don't propose to add to the extraordinary amount of sturm und drang being flung around over the incident.  I would, however, like to make some sober, factual points about it.

First, this is what happens when two opposite political extremes decide to take their arguments to the streets.  Both sides are at fault, and both sides are equally wrong.  What's more, both sides got what they wanted.
  • The racist extreme Right should not have tried to force their right to express themselves - and yes, it is a right - on a city that did not want them to be there.  They could have chosen to hold their gathering in a less inflammatory place . . . but they wanted a confrontation, and the added publicity that they knew would result.
  • The progressive extreme Left (personified in this instance by those claiming to be Antifa, but including a number of other groups) should not have chosen to make this a battleground by deliberately arming themselves to confront and 'beat down' the right-wing demonstrators.  They could have held a counter-demonstration at a safer distance (for which coverage from a sympathetic news media would have been guaranteed);  but they wanted a confrontation, and the added publicity they knew would result.

Second, the authorities are at fault for what looks like a deliberate abdication of their law enforcement responsibilities.  I don't believe their excuses, as quoted at the links.  It is the job of law enforcement agencies to enforce the law equally across any and all political, social, cultural and economic spectra.  It seems very clear, from multiple accounts, that the police stepped back from the violence and allowed it to play itself out.  That is not policing.  That is abandoning the city to extremism.  It's a dereliction of duty, plain and simple - and, in this case, it made matters much worse.  Any and all armed demonstrators should have been disarmed before things could get out of hand.  If they resisted, they should have been arrested.  Plain and simple.

Third, as I've warned many times in these pages, extremism of any kind - political, social, economic, cultural, religious, whatever - is dangerous.  You can discuss, argue rationally, and debate with, any person of basic good will.  You cannot do any of those things with an extremist.  They will insist on their position, and react more and more aggressively - and, in due course, violently - to disagreement and opposition.  Therefore, it's time for all right-thinking Americans to shun all those, on either end of the political spectrum, who believe that violence is a legitimate expression of their perspective.  It is not.  There is no room for such nonsense in any civilized society.  If violence is allowed to take root in our politics - as appears to have been the case over the past few years - we risk the disruption and eventual destruction of our political system.  That cannot be allowed to happen.

Fourth, this cannot and should not be turned into an occasion to criticize President Trump's response to the crisis.  He did exactly what his predecessor did when faced with a similar crisis.  Compare and contrast President Obama's response to the Dallas police shootings, and President Trump's response to Charlottesville last weekend.  Both statements were temperate, trying to pour oil on troubled waters, and both acknowledged that there were many sides to the situation.  Both Presidents were heavily criticized by partisan sources for failing to come down more heavily against one side or the other - but both were correct in trying to address the whole nation's needs, rather than one part of the nation.  That's what being Presidential entails.  If President Trump is to be condemned for his statement, then let's hear his critics' perspective on President Obama's words a couple of years earlier.  Unless they condemn both statements equally, they're displaying partisan bias, and should be treated with the contempt they deserve.

Fifth, we need to look to our own security.  I've written on several occasions about the need to be elsewhere when something like this happens.  If you're caught up in it, you cannot guarantee your safety or those of your loved ones.  Get clear before it goes down . . . but if you can't, be prepared to defend yourself.  For example, here's a photograph of one of the demonstrators deploying a home-made flamethrower against some right-wingers.

The demonstrator wielding the flamethrower should have been either instantly arrested, or, if that had not been possible, he should have been instantly shot.  He was deploying deadly force, something that could injure and perhaps kill innocent persons.  He should have been taken out, right there, right then.

I won't be found among racist demonstrators like that . . . but as an innocent bystander, if anyone, of whatever persuasion, is ever so unwise as to try that against me, he's going to suffer the consequences.  I will not permit thugs like that to attack me, no matter what the subsequent cost may be.  They must be stopped.  Period.  I suggest that all my readers adopt a similar position.  We - and the country as a whole - will be safer that way.

I disagree equally with both extremes of political opinion on display in Charlottesville last weekend.  Neither deserves any place in American political discourse . . . but both are present, and in larger numbers than we might wish to imagine.  We are going to have to deal with both of them.  That's inevitable.  We may as well get used to the idea.

There is, of course, humor.  It's a much underrated response to such nonsense, and can help to defuse tensions.  This, for example, was found on Facebook by Miss D., and caused both of us to laugh.

Yep.  Racist doofi with tiki torches.  Says it all, doesn't it?


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sunday morning music

Since the violence in Virginia yesterday may suggest to some that we have another civil war brewing, I thought it might be appropriate to play some songs of the original American Civil War, or inspired by it.  I'm sure they'll be familiar to my readers.

Let's start with a folk song that was written long before the Civil War, but became popular with both sides, and was also widely sung as a sea shanty.  It's 'Oh Shenandoah', performed here by Chanticleer.

Next, a song popular in the South, celebrating General Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson.  It's 'Stonewall Jackson's Way'.

Crossing the line to the Union side of the war, here's a medley from the Merrill Staton Choir combining 'All Quiet Along The Potomac Tonight' with 'Just Before The Battle, Mother'.

'Tenting Tonight' was popular with Union Army troops, but 'crossed the line' to be sung in the South as well (not surprising, since its words are non-sectarian).

Finally, here's one that many people mistakenly think is a Civil War-era ballad, but was actually written after World War II by Irving Gordon.  Nevertheless, it fits the Civil War so well that it's frequently used as incidental music for re-enactments, film and TV productions, etc.  It's 'Two Brothers'.  My favorite performance is by the Johnny Mann Singers, but that doesn't seem to be available online;  so here's a 1967 rendition by Dusty Springfield.

Let's hope we don't sink any deeper into the current morass of political, social, cultural and sectarian division, to produce another crop of songs about a new civil war.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Defining the internal enemies of the USA, in their own words

I note with considerable interest that an organization calling itself "It's Going Down" has set up a Web site.  On the principle of "Know your enemy", I thought it might be worth mentioning it here for my readers.

The organization describes itself as follows:

Who we are:

It’s Going Down is a digital community center from anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements. Our mission is to provide a resilient platform to publicize and promote revolutionary theory and action.

What we do:

We publish original content alongside anonymous submissions as well as repost articles from websites which share our perspectives.

We maintain active Twitter, Instagram and Facebook social media accounts, in addition we publish a yearly magazine.

The organization's library contains various articles and links. They're fascinating, if you can call watching such a diabolical train-wreck of radical-liberal and progressive ideas 'fascinating'.  Here are a few examples.  If you want to know more, links are provided at the source, although I don't advise poisoning your mind with such trash.

Burn Down the American Plantation

The Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement is a political movement dedicated to freeing people from bondage and building resistance in the United States. We situate our political movement in the context of the abolitionist struggle against slavery and continue in the tradition, from Nat Turner to the Black Liberation Movement. We believe the Civil War was never resolved and the system of slavery transitioned into the prison industrial complex. Our struggle today must begin from this starting point. Lastly, as revolutionary anarchists, the abolitionist struggle must be extended to the state and capitalism, the perpetrators of oppression. The revolutionary movement in the US today is at a cross roads, as fascist movements are expanding, and the state becomes increasingly authoritarian. The Rojava Revolution, in northern Syria, provides us with a model for revolution today with its foundation in communal and council based political organization and militant defense.

. . .

Class Struggle and the Origins of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race

“Allen, however, was not an academic; he was a class conscious, anti-white-supremacist, working class intellectual and activist, who had researched and written on the historical development of the “white race” for twenty-five years, and he was not comfortable with the proposition that Frederickson described. As he“ explained in his internet-published “Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race” — viewing “race as a social and cultural construction” has value in “objectifying ‘whiteness,’ as a historical rather than a biological category,” but it is “an insufficient basis for refutation of white-supremacist apologetics.” The apologetics, or arguments, that Allen had in mind were from those who would argue that such social constructs are somehow natural or genetically determined. He stressed that “the logic of ‘race as a social construct’ must be tightened and the focus sharpened” and “the ‘white race’ must be understood, not simply as a social construct (rather than a genetic phenomenon), but as a ruling class social control.

. . .

Toward the Queerest Insurrection

Queer involves our sexuality and our gender, but so much more. It is our desire and fantasies and more still. Queer is the cohesion of everything in conflict with the heterosexual capitalist world. Queer is a total rejection of the regime of the Normal.

“Queer is not merely another identity that can be tacked onto a list of neat social categories, nor the quantitative sum of our identities. Rather, it is the qualitative position of opposition to presentations of stability – an identity that problematizes the manageable limits of identity. Queer is a territory of tension, defined against the dominant narrative of white-hetero-monogamous patriarchy, but also by an affinity with all who are marginalized, otherized and oppressed.”

There are many more entries at the link.  They're not worth reading unless you have to, but if you want to know what the enemies of the US Constitution and our republic are saying and planning, this is a good place to start.



"How America lost its mind"

The Atlantic tries to explain in a long, interesting essay.  Here's an excerpt.

Each of us is on a spectrum somewhere between the poles of rational and irrational. We all have hunches we can’t prove and superstitions that make no sense. Some of my best friends are very religious, and others believe in dubious conspiracy theories. What’s problematic is going overboard—letting the subjective entirely override the objective; thinking and acting as if opinions and feelings are just as true as facts. The American experiment, the original embodiment of the great Enlightenment idea of intellectual freedom, whereby every individual is welcome to believe anything she wishes, has metastasized out of control. From the start, our ultra-individualism was attached to epic dreams, sometimes epic fantasies—every American one of God’s chosen people building a custom-made utopia, all of us free to reinvent ourselves by imagination and will. In America nowadays, those more exciting parts of the Enlightenment idea have swamped the sober, rational, empirical parts. Little by little for centuries, then more and more and faster and faster during the past half century, we Americans have given ourselves over to all kinds of magical thinking, anything-goes relativism, and belief in fanciful explanation—small and large fantasies that console or thrill or terrify us. And most of us haven’t realized how far-reaching our strange new normal has become.

Much more than the other billion or so people in the developed world, we Americans believe—really believe—in the supernatural and the miraculous, in Satan on Earth, in reports of recent trips to and from heaven, and in a story of life’s instantaneous creation several thousand years ago.

We believe that the government and its co-conspirators are hiding all sorts of monstrous and shocking truths from us, concerning assassinations, extraterrestrials, the genesis of aids, the 9/11 attacks, the dangers of vaccines, and so much more.

And this was all true before we became familiar with the terms post-factual and post-truth, before we elected a president with an astoundingly open mind about conspiracy theories, what’s true and what’s false, the nature of reality.

We have passed through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole. America has mutated into Fantasyland.

How widespread is this promiscuous devotion to the untrue? How many Americans now inhabit alternate realities? Any given survey of beliefs is only a sketch of what people in general really think. But reams of survey research from the past 20 years reveal a rough, useful census of American credulity and delusion. By my reckoning, the solidly reality-based are a minority, maybe a third of us but almost certainly fewer than half. Only a third of us, for instance, don’t believe that the tale of creation in Genesis is the word of God. Only a third strongly disbelieve in telepathy and ghosts. Two-thirds of Americans believe that “angels and demons are active in the world.” More than half say they’re absolutely certain heaven exists, and just as many are sure of the existence of a personal God—not a vague force or universal spirit or higher power, but some guy. A third of us believe not only that global warming is no big deal but that it’s a hoax perpetrated by scientists, the government, and journalists. A third believe that our earliest ancestors were humans just like us; that the government has, in league with the pharmaceutical industry, hidden evidence of natural cancer cures; that extraterrestrials have visited or are visiting Earth. Almost a quarter believe that vaccines cause autism, and that Donald Trump won the popular vote in 2016. A quarter believe that our previous president maybe or definitely was (or is?) the anti-Christ. According to a survey by Public Policy Polling, 15 percent believe that the “media or the government adds secret mind-controlling technology to television broadcast signals,” and another 15 percent think that’s possible. A quarter of Americans believe in witches. Remarkably, the same fraction, or maybe less, believes that the Bible consists mainly of legends and fables—the same proportion that believes U.S. officials were complicit in the 9/11 attacks.

There's much more at the link.

The most interesting - and worrying - thing about the article is the blind faith and non-evidence-based certainty with which each of these 'belief groups', to coin a phrase, believes in their particular credo.  You can't argue with many of them, because no matter what evidence you advance, or what rational reasoning you deploy, they will stick their fingers in their ears, scream "LA-LA-LA-LA-I can't hear you!", and go on regardless.

Yes, this includes religion.  I have religious faith, as is obvious to anyone who's read these pages for a long time . . . but I'll be the first to admit that my faith may be based on falsehoods.  I have chosen to accept the Bible as the word of God, and Jesus Christ as a real, historical manifestation of God made man.  I base my life upon those principles and his teaching.  Nevertheless, if I refused to admit that I might be wrong, I'd be as ideologically dogmatic as a militant atheist who refuses to admit even the possibility of the existence of God in any form.  There are many things we can accept and believe, but not be able to scientifically prove.  We need to acknowledge that reality.  If we don't, we make ourselves as guilty of the problem as anyone else.  Doing so does not mean we don't continue to live according to our beliefs.  We simply accept that we're fallible, too.

I'm not threatened by someone who doesn't believe as I do.  I shall continue to be as open and friendly towards him as his conduct allows me to be, and not worry about things that divide us unless and/or until they become a real obstacle.  I trust that one day, my hope and faith in God will be rewarded in the hereafter.  If there isn't one, I guess I'll never know . . . but that won't stop me believing, and hoping, and trusting.  That being the case, why should I deny the right to their own beliefs to anyone else?

The Atlantic's essay is well worth reading in full, and pondering.  Where do we fall on the spectrum of belief-versus-fact?  I think we'll all do well to consider that very carefully, and very honestly.  Blinkered vision and blinkered minds are a recipe for disaster, personally and nationally.