Sunday Flash Fiction/Vignette

(cleaned up a bit from what I posted at Sarah Hoyt’s Sunday Vignette for today.)

Like a swift knee to the crotch, rosy-dactyled Dawn broke Morpheus’s headlock. I fell off the office couch onto the floor, slamming my eyes shut against the brilliant morning light.

I open them slowly. A pair of million dollar ankles above some near-death-experience heels came into blurry focus a few inches in front of my face. They were attached to a set of billion dollar gams. After that, things got expensive.

Her hand still gripped the gadget that opens the blinds. She glared down at me, “Do you work for me or just drink your advance money?”

I looked up. My head hurt. Her baby blues could launch a few hundred ships by themselves. A thousand for the whole package was selling it short.

“I don’t see why I can’t do both.”

Popular Vote vs. Electoral College Explained

Impressive amount of stupid on the loose this morning, so let’s take this slowly:

  1. Campaigning works. Showing up and asking people for their votes tends to inspire people to vote for you – that’s why politicians do it. In general, a politician will get more votes in places where he actually campaigns.
  2. Individual states determine how their electoral votes are to be allocated to different candidates. California and New York, like all but two states, are “winner takes all” states.
  3. In winner takes all states, it doesn’t matter how many votes you get, as long as you win. If a candidate wins or loses 51%-49% or 85%-15%, he gets the same number of electoral college votes.
  4.  Now, putting the above points together – here’s the important part – if a candidate doesn’t think he has a realistic chance of winning a particular winner takes all state, he has little reason to campaign there
  5. If he doesn’t campaign in a state, following point #1, he will tend strongly to get fewer popular votes in that state.

Now, how hard did Trump campaign in New York and California? Not hard at all – because, even if he could convince several million more people in those states to vote for him, he was still almost certain to lose, just by a smaller margin, and would still get zero electoral college votes out of it.

Evidence suggests that Trump was a better than decent campaigner, meaning that he did in fact change people’s minds to vote for him when he showed up someplace and pitched hard. But he and Clinton both did the math, and spent the bulk of their time campaigning in places where such campaigning might make a difference in the actual election run under the current rules. In practice, this means a light touch and fundraising junkets to states you think you have in the bag or are sure you will lose, medium touch on states you think you’ll win but want to be sure, and heavy touch on states you think you might win but could lose. Thus, Clinton swings through California and New York to provide fan service and raise funds, but spends essentially no time in the South except maybe in (weirdo) Florida. Trump similarly will campaign hard in places he needs to win, show up to fire up the troops where he’s pretty sure he’ll win, and does the minimum in states where he’s sure to lose.

This is (evidently not so) common sense. When victory is defined in terms of electoral college votes, a candidate doesn’t even look at how the popular vote in general shakes out, except out of morbid curiosity. To then claim that losing the popular vote shows much of anything about the candidates relative popularity is is either ignorantly or willfully missing the point.

History: the electoral college was set up so that a few populous and rich states – say, like California and New York – would not easily be able to dictate to the other poorer and less populated states.

Subtract out California and New York from the popular vote tally (1) – and Trump wins the rest of the nation in a popular (and electoral college) landslide. More to the point, if we did not have the electoral college but instead relied on direct popular vote, Trump and Clinton would have campaigned hard in the cities on the coasts and Texas and in Chicago – and pretty much ignored all the rest of the country. With the electoral college system, candidates are forced to pay attention to ALL of the people – or risk having the rubes down in Florida or out in Michigan cost them an election.

Bottom line, something that we all should have learned in about 6th grade: If you want people who don’t live in a few larger cities to have some skin in federal elections, leave the electoral college alone. If you’d rather be ruled by rich city dwellers, go with the popular vote. If you live in one of those cities, you might feel all warm and fuzzy and involved. If you don’t, you’ll wonder how the President can be said to represent you at all.

  1. In fact, just subtract the votes of NYC, LA and San Francisco, and maybe Chicago and Philly, and you’d get the same result. The electoral college is intended, in modern terms, to prevent all of us from being ruled from a couple large cities.

At War Against the Flat Moral Universe

When somebody’s grand explanation of everything is that everyone who opposes them is evil, stupid, or ignorant, or that they are members of an oppressing group whose every action is evil by nature (and these are not mutually exclusive: ignorant, bigoted white men, for example is a double dose of both), their moral universe is very flat. All issues boil down to Them versus Us. There is no ‘We’. Since the opponent is evil simply by dint of being the opponent, we can trust nothing they do or say and there is nothing out of bounds for what we may legitimately do to them.

Steal elections? Of course – because they would do it, or worse! Riot? Sure, if it works. Wanton destruction of the property of people who just happen to be there? They deserve it, and worse. Physical assault? Totally OK.

And the lying. Total, non-stop lying, in word and deed.

First point: the reasons Hillary lost include:

  • Poor turnout of Democrats versus previous elections
  • Failure to carry the people Obama carried to the same degree
  • She’s an embarrassingly terrible candidate

Bigotry? Racism? Um, didn’t this same electorate just elect Obama – twice! – in the last 12 years? (1) Sooo – now they’re racists? Sexist? A smaller number of women voted Hillary than voted Obama. (1) Maybe women aren’t totally defined by sex organs, but might have thinking organs as well? Wherein they pondered what it means to them personally to be totally defined by somebody else’s idea of how a real woman should vote?

Clinton did not do as well as Obama did with women and minorities. From a marketing perspective, that’s nobody’s problem but Clinton’s team’s.

A flat moral universe does not admit of such fine distinctions, however. Only class-level distinctions carry any moral weight. Therefore, we are to ignore the facts on the ground and look instead to some oppressor/oppressed dynamic to explain everything. It can’t be that a huge percentage of the voters in this country resents being labeled racist or sexist simply because they voted against or even merely considered not voting for the ‘correct’ candidate? That any reasons they might offer for their concerns were labeled bigotry or hate? That everyone they personally knew who might support the wrong candidate was a racist/sexist/homophobic bigot no matter what their personal actions might indicate?

So, today, judging by what’s on the news, we have a battle going on: between those who are trying to apply their flat moral universe to the world – I include here any who do not condemn the mostly manufactured riots – by fomenting race and class warfare, and those who, in the words of Martin Luther King, judge people “…not … by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Be clear: this is the flat moral universe in which it is OK to slaughter 6 million Jews, 20 million Kulaks, 60 million Chinese peasants, 25% of the population of Cambodia – not because of anything particular those unarmed and defenseless people did,  but because of the groups they were presumed to belong to.  In this universe, Marxist hitmen get to round up and assassinate Spanish nuns and monks and Mexican boys who won’t play along; and French Carmelites who never hurt a fly get guillotined in the name of equality, liberty and brotherhood. These incidents are, if somehow allowed past the mental barriers set up over 16 or more years of education, summarily dismissed, or at least trivialized. A huge percentage of people will look the other way, just as today they look the other way when a shopkeeper’s shop is burned down or a cop is shot – it is conclusively presumed they either had it coming or it’s not important in the big picture.

So, we can’t let accusations of racism, sexism and bigotry against entire classes of people stand. That’s the battle today, for most of us. Pray God it may go no further.

  1. Usual caveats: exit polls are, if anything, even less likely to reflect reality than pre-election polls; the gray area – people who didn’t answer – is big enough in most cases to easily swallow the reported changes; and people are often not at all motivated to tell the truth, either about who they are or how they voted. That said: The NYT exit poll chart shows that Hillary picked up a percentage point worth of female voters, but since she got only 92% of the vote Obama did, the actual number of women who voted for her was about a million fewer than voted for Obama in 2012. 2016-exit-1
  2. The same chart says 8% of blacks voted for Trump, up from 1% who voted for Romney. Huge swing.  Now, given various videos making the rounds today, how good an idea do you think it would be for a black man or woman to own up publicly to voting for Trump? So this may be understated in the same way the pre-election polls were. I personally know one black pastor from Oakland who has spent the last decade or so trying to get his flock and blacks in general to see how they are being used by the Democratic Party, and specifically how abortion is used to keep blacks in line. He has suffered enormously – economically & personally – for his stance. But I know guys like him are out there – this election is the first time I think it has shown.

How to Survive the Next 4 Years

Tips from an Old Guy for dealing with your outrage/depression/optimism/euphoria in a way that will strengthen you mind and soul. We’ll start with those whose candidate lost, then we’ll take it from the other side, which is a mirror image:

HRC fans:

  1. Make a list of all the bad things you  believe Trump will do or cause.
    1. Be specific: no ‘he’s a racist’ but instead ‘ he will round up blacks and imprison them without cause or trial’ – or whatever, it’s your list.
    2. Make it something *provable* not just a feeling.
  2. Follow the news. When a bad thing on the list happens, check it off
  3. *Document it* – you must be able to assign names, dates, sources, links to the events – or it doesn’t count.
  4. Get some counter-sources – find people (Breitbart, Fox, Drudge – whatever, I don’t read these much myself, but I suppose you’ll be able to find sources considered eeeevil). Extra credit: actually read the contradictory sources and explain how you know they’re wrong.

After 4 years, look at what you’ll have! A documented list of Trump atrocities, complete with references and answers to counter-arguments – in a form you can share with people you’d like to convince how evil he is! You will be able to constructively contribute to changing hearts and minds rather than just yelling at people and calling them names!

 

Trump fans:

  1. Make a list of all the things you believe will result from Trump’s election.
    1. Be specific: no ‘he’ll make America great again’ but instead ‘he will rescind all of Obama’s executive orders’ – or whatever, it’s your list.
    2. Make it something *provable* not just a feeling.
  2. Follow the news. When a thing on the list happens, check it off
  3. *Document it* – you must be able to assign names, dates, sources, links to the events – or it doesn’t count.
  4. Get some counter-sources – find people (in the dreaded MSM, I suppose) who will disparage/dismiss/offer counter-takes. Extra credit: actually read the contradictory sources and explain how you know they’re wrong.

The parts that will help your mind and soul:

  • the intellectual discipline of listing only objectively validatable claims
  • the emotional discipline of listing specific actions rather than just how something makes you feel
  • the spiritual discipline of putting the truth first, before partisan fervor.

In a moment of reckless generosity, I volunteer my services to anyone who makes or is making such a list as an impartial judge: I will read it, look at links, and let you know how convincing the evidence appears to me, an anti-partisan zealot. Just ask in the comments or contact me at the email on the About page.

Now, you may or may not change your own mind or feelings as a result of this exercise, but you should gain more clarity – and peace.

If everybody followed these simple steps, in 4 years or sooner, we’ll all have real thoughts and evidence to share! We might not have to vote based solely on which candidate insults us less or belongs to the party that did something nice once for my great-grandfather. We might even learn to gently correct those among us who refuse to do any of this work, but cling to their religion’s Bibles-by-whatever-name and media-calumny-guns. We might get in the habit of telling them to please shut up and grow up.

A man’s gotta dream.

Me? As an anti-partisan, my list will be a little different.  Background: As George Washington put it:

However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

So old George and I loathe the very idea of political parties, seeing ample evidence of their deleterious effects all around us. (1) Plus, having reached voting age in time for Reagan’s first election, I got a first hand view of how it works – I fell for it. So, when I was told by every news source what a dangerous maniac Reagan was, how he’d destroy the country, start a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, and so on, I believed, and voted for Carter. 4 years later, I looked back at what Reagan said he do: unleash an economic boom and bring the Soviet Union to heel – and, well, these claims seemed a lot closer to what was actually happening than what was asserted by his enemies.(2)  So I went with reality over feelings.

One set of claims did not pan out, which occasioned massive and numerous mea culpas from all the major news sources, who then got in line to sing Ronnie’s praises.

Just kidding! Lesson 2: no amount of contradictory evidence would cause the haters to change their tunes. Almost without exception, the punditocracy was noticeably irritated that things did not go bad, were displeased that all those dirty little people seemed to actually like Reagan, and seemed eager for some evil to befall him and our country.

Next time, I voted for Reagan, and set a principle: ignore what the news sources say, look at the claims being made, as judge what seems reasonable based on experience. Vote accordingly.

Anyway, that whole period would be a good thing for any whippersnappers here to study – just make sure you get a little balance, because his fans really LOVE Reagan, almost as much as his enemies really HATE him. Choose sources wisely.

Now, my list, as of this morning. I expect:

A: That the news media will continue to lie in order to paint as grim a picture as possible because their team didn’t win. Fish in a barrel – could already be checked off, but I think I’ll graciously allow for a cool-down period, not that I expect much cooling down.  Before the NYT could even deign to call the election for Trump, reports of ‘protests’ were already dotting the newsfeeds. These were ‘protests’ that involved setting stuff on fire, which looks a little more like ‘riots’ than ‘protests’. But it seems the ‘protesters’ haven’t yet burned down any cars or buildings, or beaten anyone up – at least, as far as I could find – so we’ll let it pass.

Just FYI for future reference: a protest is something like a march or demonstration; a riot is when people start destroying property or hurting each other. Calling a riot a protest is what we sane people call ‘lying’.

B: That Clinton and most of the administration and maybe a bunch of people back in Chicago will get preemptively pardoned by Obama, probably sooner rather than later. People who think Hillary will be thrown in jail have not looked at history nor the implications of the current situation: if Obama lets Clinton go down, she or somebody close to her is as likely as not to take as many people down with her as possible. Other people still with power are very, very uncomfortable with this.

This cesspool has no bottom – going back a mere 25 years, Fred Roti, a known mafioso, was running Chicago as the Outfit’s guy from his position as 1st district Alderman. He ‘mentored’ many people in key positions there, including people who went on to help Obama get elected and served in his administration.

Now, theoretical question: what sort of people do mafiosos help obtain positions of power? Law abiding citizens who might turn on them out of the sheer goodness of their hearts? Or, rather, people they can count on to do the right thing when the time comes – people, in other words, on whom they have dirt, know where the bodies are buried and how their kids get to school?

The FBI has long been a weak link in this picture – they were more likely to have hard to corrupt zealots who were crazy enough to go after the big fish (the FBI eventually got Roti, after 20 years of trying, Capone style).  So high on Obama’s list is getting all this investigation activity to die down and stay dead. The pressure on the FBI must be incredible.

Unless they think they can get away with throwing Hillary under the bus – they’d really enjoy that, but I can’t imagine how they’d get away with it.

C: That Trump will do a few things that demonstrably help the economy.

D: That Trump will rescind a bunch of executive orders.

And, frankly, for the moment, that’s about it. I suspect or maybe hope a number of other things will come to pass, but don’t know how I’d document them, other than to say he appointed people or passed laws this or that group liked – the awkward reality is that most appointments and laws take years to play out, before you can see what actually happens. Maybe someone, a Trumpeteer, would like to turn all his campaign promises into a list and see if they can check them off – that would be good. And a Hillaroid could do the same with all the predictions of doom. It should be done. That’s not where I’m coming from, however.

You?

  1. Why, I’ve long asked, are *parties* on the primary ballots? Why do we, the people, allow and even pay for parties – an idea with no presence at all in the Constitution – to use our voting process for choosing what candidates they want to run? That’s their business, to do and pay for however they see fit. There’s nothing sacred – not to mention nothing legal,  reasonable or constitutional – about the Red Sox and Yankees – I mean, the Democrats and Republicans – that entitles them to use *our* democratic machinery for their purposes. It gives them a status and advantages that are then used as Washington describes above. That we take it for granted and shrug it off just shows how far we’ve departed from the idea of government of, by, and for the People.
  2. Retroactively, his enemies pointed to Reagan’s admittedly dubious activities in Latin America – but I sure don’t remember that being made a prediction before the first election. Rather, as nothing else we’d been warned would befall us came about, his enemies shifted focus to something that did happen that they didn’t like. I note in passing that nothing North or Reagan were accused of doing is 1/10th as bad as what few dispute HRC actually did. Times change.

Dr. Jerry Pournelle from Yesterday:

(First, please say a prayer for him and his wife, Roberta – she suffered a stroke a little while back, and is working through regaining ability to speak. They’re good people.)

Dr. Pournelle is about as knowledgeable about how things really work in politics and diplomacy as anybody, so I tend to take him quite seriously. His November 7th thoughts:

I won’t venture a prediction. I will repeat, Trump makes me nervous; Hillary makes this old Cold Warrior terrified that she’ll blunder us into a war with Russia.

He goes on into areas in which I have no intelligence, but certainly seems of high interest (we have kids who would be of an age to be drafted, if it came to that):

Trump understands Putin much better than either Clinton does. Mr. Clinton let Ms. Albright get us into the anti-Slav position in the Balkans, where there are no obvious good guys, but the Russians have always been pro-Slavic; things have soured since then. We cannot dictate policy in Iraq and Syria, and neither Obama nor either Clinton seems to understand that the Russians take encirclement by NATO very seriously; if we really mean to act as a superpower, the only First World Nation, we need superpower capability; and we not only don’t have that now, we are losing what superiority we have in favor of more entitlements and crony services. I was an aggressive Cold Warrior, but I understood the limits; I do not think the Clintons do, as Obama certainly does not.

Finally, the bottom line, at the bottom and everything:

The nation could tolerate four years of Mrs. Clinton – indistinguishable from a third Obama turn – but I do not think we would enjoy it. I do not think we could tolerate another Hot War, especially one where we have no vital interest but survival.

I worry that we could not tolerate it even without the war, that the long-term repercussions might be so anti-democratic that we, like the subjects under the Chicago Machine, will not be allowed to vote ourselves free. Balancing that worry is the knowledge of how hard it is to maintain unity among power-hungry maniacs – the gullible rubes and useful idiots and envious children can be made to march wherever, but at some point, there will be too many chiefs, too many cooks.

Like the late stage Soviet Union, an exterior strength may mask an interior fragility – perhaps what we’re seeing now are desperate efforts to hold the facade together, because if one piece falls – if, say, Hillary goes down because the cumulative evidence of treason gets just too overwhelming – chances are everybody else goes down, too. I expect Obama to pardon, preemptively, most of his administration and the DNC on his way out the door. That will be interesting. Some huge % of people will totally agree that it was for the best, to keep the jackals at bay, while some larger (one hopes) % will feel justice was horribly cheated.

Interesting times.

Election Day: Links, Bullet Points, etc.

  • Solzhenitsyn: Always good for a bracing slap or six right across the chops. He seems to think Harvard isn’t all that:

This new way of thinking, which has imposed on us its guidance, did not admit the existence of intrinsic evil in man nor did it see any higher task than the attainment of happiness on earth. It based modern Western civilization on the dangerous trend to worship man and his material needs …

  • Thinking today, after the polls close, I’ll break my fast with some guacamole and a very strong margarita or two – it can be seen either as celebratory or a retreat into comfort food. (By all reports, I make killer guacamole (chop, don’t crush, the avocados; garlic, fresh lime and cilantro – plenty of all three) and margaritas (Cuervo is death – use Sauza Commemorativo, Grand Marnier and the best store-bought mix you can get (making your own margarita mix is past the diminishing returns threshold, IMHO)). My beloved will need it, too.

Alex Rogan: There’s no fleet, no Starfighters, no plan? One ship, you me, and that’s it?
Grig: Exactly. Xur thinks you’re still on Earth. Classic military strategy: surprise attack.
Alex Rogan: It’ll be a slaughter!
Grig: That’s the spirit!
Alex Rogan: No, MY slaughter! One ship against the whole armada?
Grig: Yes, one gunstar against the armada. I’ve always wanted to fight a desperate battle against incredible odds.

 

Grig:  I had hoped that by putting you in the thick  of battle, a great Starfighter would emerge. But alas. Perhaps… there was never one within you to begin with.  I shall take you home.  You still may live a long and fruitful life back there. That is, until the Kodan reach Earth.

 

Lord Kril: Damage report!

Kodan Officer: Guidance system out. Auxiliary steering out.

Lord Kril: Divert! Divert!

Kodan Officer: She won’t answer the helm! We’re locked into the moon’s gravitational pull. What do we do?

[sound of Lord Kril’s eyepiece swinging over left eye]

Lord Kril: We die.

 

Alex Rogan: We did it.

Grig: Yes, we actually did, didn’t we?

Election Plans

Fast and pray. Had all kinds of polemical and possibly amusing things to say about this election, but – nah. My heart wasn’t in it. It has come to this.

Tomorrow after work, my wife and I will take out 12 year old to practice, then head on over to the polls, then head on over to a perpetual Adoration chapel nearby to plead for mercy for a while, recognizing and admitting that my sins alone are enough to have allowed the evil we see creep into the world.

You?

Friday Afternoon Flash Fiction

Two long multi-jointed arms wrapped themselves around the dessicated remains of Julian, pulled them away from the serrated syphon that served the creature for a mouth, and carefully deposited them in the murky shadows with the others. The arms rewound themselves up against the black bulk, and rested.

Linda didn’t scream; a few of the others among those not mercifully unconscious emitted feeble whimpers. In a little while, maybe an hour, maybe 6, those sames arms would feel about the other victims glued to the wall and floor, pick one, and deposit him in the feed trough Julian had just now vacated.

She heard a muffled chuckle, and craned her neck against the sticky but not quite solid excretion that held her in place to turn toward the sound. It was Albert. She remembered how he’d lobbied to get a spot on the longship, how he’d learned everything he could about the selection process, how he’d worked on ingratiating himself with the influential people on the board. He’d spent his time out of stasis grinning like a fool, like a truant kid skipping through the woods on a spring day. Now, after 20 years subjective and centuries earth time, after finding the needle in the galactic haystack that is a habitable planet around a stable star, he was waiting to die with the others.

The legs uncoiled. Now there were a few sobs from the trapped colonists. Again the appendages reached out toward the dwindling collection of live meat. They poked and felt among the victims and settled on Albert, and began dislodging him.

“Damn,” he said as he was lifted free, “I thought when I got out of D.C., I’d escaped politics…”

Perfect Solutions

One thing working with one’s hands gives us is a perspective on perfection: there ain’t any in this life. You can work longer or with greater skill at something – laying a brick, painting a picture, sewing a skirt – but you will never get it perfect. What you can do is keep improving, learning more skills and (as important) more patience.

For an adult or even a sane child, that is enough. What is frustrating is working hard and not seeing any improvement. To expect improvement shows a hopeful yet rational grip on reality; to expect  perfection is to live in constant frustration in an unreal, irrational world.

I’ve written about the difference between a flat and a rich moral universe. The ultimate morally flat universe is nihilism in its various manifestations: it supports only a homogeneous 2-dimensional world of actions in which one might move around on the plane, but where no act is morally any higher or lower than any other act.

Slightly more interesting and much more common is the moral landscape of power dynamics: either you are oppressed, in which case everything you do that can be construed to have resisted oppression is good, and anything you might do as a victim of oppression is presumptively excused. Or you are an oppressor, wherein suicide of one sort or another (you may keep your body for the time being, but your intellect and integrity must die!) is the only possible morally good act you can perform. Everything else you do, no matter how apparently innocent, is an act of oppression and thus eeeevil.

In such a world, there are nothing but failures and perfect solutions, meaning there are nothing but failures. People who are oppressed can’t make small improvements in their lot over time – as long as they remain oppressed, they are objectively miserable no matter how happy their little improvements may seem to make them. The only success allowed is movement toward the day they shall be free from oppression, which mostly means getting more miserable – because happy people don’t usually have revolutions.

So, in yet another Orwellian moment, Misery is Happiness; Failure is Success. No really: as some wit once said, Marx’s call to revolution sounds a lot less convincing when all you have to lose is your suburban home, a couple of cars, a snowmobile, 4 weeks vacation, health care and all the rest of your stuff. Better you be destitute and miserable, as that is closer to Paradise. (1)

The lack of perfect solutions is used as a criticism: since there is STILL injustice in the world, every effort made by every man, woman and child,  has FAILED. Everything that has created a better life for several billion people is not good enough. The world *should* be perfect!  We may think the small and shrinking percentage of people worldwide in true poverty is a good thing, that the growing number of people who are not insecure for their persons, who have food, clothing and shelter, is a good thing – but they are not good enough! In fact, insofar as they delay the true freedom only to be had via revolution, they are eeeevil.

On the other hand, if all one hopes for is improvement, one can realistically hope to achieve something. This happy state requires a rich moral universe, where our choices and actions are judged within a moral framework with room for nuance – with room for improvement, one might say. In such a world, it is possible for such subtle shades as it being  wrong that I murdered somebody richer than me, or right that I paid him for that snowmobile. My faithfulness or unfaithfulness to my spouse is not washed out to meaninglessness by my presumed membership in one or the other of the oppressed/oppressor pair, but has – at it most certainly appears to have – real, concrete, *moral* consequences.

The richest, most detailed and thus most lovely and terrifying moral universe ever described can be seen in Dante, or in the Catechism. That is a Universe without perfection in this life, but of improvement within it. Within it can be lived a life of meaningfulness, a life standing against the blandly evil and tasteless flat moral universes being pushed upon us more every day.

  1. The devil parodies in Marxism the voluntary surrender of goods in this life for greater goods in the next.

Mothers, Fathers, and Empathy

My comments on a video claiming to have delved into the origins of liberal/conservative and authoritarian/egalitarian axes from over at John C. Wright’s blog: (1)

What’s missing from the discussion on the video is what’s missing from the culture at large: paternal love. That’s the love that picks the kid up, dusts him off, and tells him to get back at it, that he can do it himself, that it’s up to him. It has been said, and in my experience it is true, that kids will love their mothers but follow where their fathers lead. Where there are no fathers, we end up with eternal children desperately seeking to be lead. Even lead by the likes of Marx and Freud and their spawn.

In the video, we hear repeatedly about ’empathy’ being a trait of Liberals – but that is only the empathy of mothers, which, as John points out, is all about unconditionally championing the needs of helpless children. But a father’s love is no less empathetic – but he wants his children (and the world!) to grow up and experience the joy of being responsible and doing stuff. He feels the pain of his kid who struggles, but sees the strength to be gained by working through the struggles, and values that – for the sake of the child. That’s empathy, too – he sees himself and his struggles in the child, but sees his role as helping the child overcome, not just to kiss the owies.

This is the sense in which not only individual kids, but any culture worthy of the name needs strong fathers. This is the sense in which we older guys need to still be fathers even when our own kids have left the nest – our culture needs us to model – and insist on – pushing through problems, accepting burdens and pain, getting to good enough results as steps to better results, to counterbalance crying to momma every time we face a problem, are handed burdens and pain, and want the perfect solution NOW,

What we are seeing is the 3rd, maybe 4th, consecutive generation where there are not only no fathers for a huge percentage of people – and no grandfathers either – but no recognition of the role itself. It’s one thing to grow up an orphan when surrounded by families – to see modeled what is, in fact normal and healthy – it is totally another to grow up amidst serial polygamy where the very idea of a father is mocked and dismissed.

As my dad, an Oklahoma farm boy, would have said: quit your bellyaching and get to work!

Aside: Claims that statistical analysis reveal causality do little more than reveal the claimant as not very good with statistics or logic. Surveys are not science in any sense in which I’ve ever seen them used , and applying statistics to them doesn’t make them so. What we have instead are possibly common-sense claims based on very wobbly personal observations dressed up in a lab coat – but hey, since I find them interesting, I let it slide for the sake of making my own common-sense observations. But I’m not calling Science! on my claims…

  1. I’m staying out of this whole “Alt-Whatever” discussion. It seems to make already complicated things even more so, especially when one considers that the motivations of those involved on every side may not be pure – the possibility of Alinskyite tactics and false flags makes my head hurt. Plus I’m congenitally disinclined toward group-think labels – just say what you mean, and we can talk about it.