With Tears In My Eyes

Please, Step Back and Think

This morning, I want to ask everyone on every “side” of the political spectrum, to take a step back. Yes, the majority of my remarks are aimed at the progressive side of things, as they are the ones initiating most, if not all, of the violence. But, it also applies to everyone as far too many seem intent on throwing thermite on the fire.

In more than fifty years of life, I have never seen this Republic so divided, and the concept of discourse so thoroughly discarded. I have never seen a level of hatred with open calls of violence by so many in all those decades.

With tears in my eyes, I beg you: please step back. Think.

Look in the mirror, and take an honest look at yourself. Are you condoning violence against those who hold a different opinion on politics or any subject? Do you say the “Nazis” (socialists by the way, look at the name) deserve to be punched or worse? Do you pass off violent assault and murder with any form of ‘they had it coming/deserve it’ because they hold a different belief? Do you hate those who disagree with you or hold a different opinion? Do you support violent ‘resistance’ to the results of the election, or to those of a different viewpoint by armed masked brown shirts? Do you eagerly anticipate and embrace anything by anonymous sources that validate your beliefs? Do you take any news that validates your position without question, without doing any digging or critical thought?

If so, you are the reason the Republic is, if not dead, in a coma. You are the reason for the violence, and the lack of civility and discourse. Own it.

Demonizing your opponents is as old as time itself. In terms of the American body politic, the idea of casting non-progressive (conservative, libertarian, Republican, etc.) as Nazis goes back to the early part of the last century (see lidblog.com/republicans-less-human for some interesting history on this)but has reached epic levels in the last decade. It’s easy to get people to hate that and those who are demonized. Hate removes rational thought, and what truly scares me about the situation today is the rampant unthinking uncritical hate that has infected far too much of the body politic. It is not enough to disagree: one must destroy the ‘enemy’ and all they hold dear. Take a look at the Social Justice Bully playbook, and see how often it has played out in the last 10-15 years.

While there is hatred on all sides, a good case can be built that much of it is institutionalized on the progressive side of the spectrum. Use a good metasearch engine (I like Dogpile) and do some searches on calls for political violence; actual cases of political violence; and, false claims of violence/hate crimes. The unfiltered results may shock you.

Take a look at the cases of actual violence against conservatives/libertarians/Republicans/etc. A good listing of them is at dailycaller.com/2017/06/16/this-list-of-attacks-against-conservatives-is-mind-blowing Don’t like the source? Do some more meta searches as there is a good bit out there for those who truly are willing to think and be responsible informed citizens.

Yes, there were some nutcases who said nasty and vile things about Obama. However, I ask you to show me a single case where major members of the political/entertainment class (and I include news media in the latter) openly called for violence against him and/or the progressive cause. There was a rodeo clown who wore a mask, and was subjected to the required three minutes of hate and a concerted effort to destroy him and his life…

Today, you openly have professors, journalists, and even political leaders calling for open violence and armed resistance to the duly elected President and those who agree — even slightly — with him. Don’t believe me? Again, metasearch is your friend if you truly are interested in being an informed Citizen. Frankly, it is my opinion that much of it is a deliberate and cynical effort aimed at political power and destabilizing (killing) the Republic. May I commend to you that your reading include www.powerline.blog//archives/2017/06/the-empire-strikes-back-4 as part of your reading.

I would also commend to you some wise words from Brad Torgeren, on the subject of hate. Please check out his very wise words at www.facebook.com/brad.torgersen/posts/1967883229904567

To those on the conservative/libertarian/etc. side of the spectrum who are egging it on and eagerly pushing for violence in return: you are just as bad.

There is much more I could say and list. However, far too many minds are closed, so I will simply say this:

Your fantasy is just that, a fantasy. The blood and pain will not be for others, but for you. Don’t believe me? Just look back at the French Revolution. Then look at every other ‘revolution’ that pitted socialism (in all forms) against everything else.

It did not work out well in 1914. It did not work out well in 1933. It did not work out well in 1789. It will NOT work out well this time.

Brad also has some more wise words at www.facebook.com/brad.torgersen/posts/1970456016313955.

To everyone on all ‘sides’ of the political spectrum, I beg you with tears in my eyes, to stop and think. If you continue, you are responsible for all that happens and are just as guilty of the assaults, murders, etc. that WILL come if things continue this way. As yourself if you are willing to personally pull the trigger, swing the club, etc. If not, you need to step way the fuck back and try to pull in those who continue the calls. If you are, then look in the mirror and realize that you have met the enemy and they are you.

It will not go well, and it will not end the way you think it will.

Few today realize the aberration that was the founding of this Republic, which enshrines the peaceful exchange of power; of the checks and balances (sadly damaged if not destroyed) on that power; of the idea of one set of laws for all (sadly gone). It all hinged on the concept of an informed electorate and the marketplace of ideas. Where is that open and honest marketplace now?

Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said “A republic, if you can keep it.” Can you? Will you?

Way Of The Wolf: The Cult Of Victimization

A repost from my first version of this blog:

According to the first two definitions in the Concise Oxford Dictionary, a victim is someone who has been injured or killed as a result of an event or circumstance, or a person or thing harmed or destroyed in pursuit of an object or passion. In modern society, however, this definition has been severely expanded such that everyone and anyone who has experienced the least inconvenience in any context is a victim.

After all, it is a comforting thought. When you are a victim, nothing is your fault. It was not your responsibility and there was nothing you could do about it. Even better, as a victim, no one can place any responsibility for what happened, or the aftermath, on you. To top it off, as a victim you are entitled to reparations. After all, you were the one harmed by what happened, so society as a whole owes you for what happened.

The roots of this movement lie in the eternal battle between law and justice. The theory was quite sound and valid: a person harmed should be able to seek redress for that harm. If property is stolen, you should be able to get back the item or the cost to replace it from the person or persons that took it. If you were injured in an attack, then the person or persons who injured you should pay for medical bills, lost work, clothing, etc.

It all seems reasonable and it was, until the definition of harm was expanded. Harm became much more than simple damage, it became something almost mystical without clear definition or boundaries. Harm was more than mere cost, it was an ethereal thing defying a constant definition. No longer measured, it was a thing sensed and felt beyond words. It was something even beyond pain and suffering, an eternal darkness weighing down the victim.

By the new definition, it no longer takes direct action to produce harm. Words harm, and even innocent words can cause damage. Pictures or images can harm, and even sounds can harm. Instead of the median or mode of society, the norm, the definition was shifted to the most fragile in society. Instead of the “most reasonable people” concept, it became the “least person” concept.

It was and is also lucrative. Since it can’t truly be defined, it also cannot be defended against. There is no way to disprove the claims of anguish, in large measure because there is no way to truly prove the claims. It is raw emotionalism, and as such more a form of blackmail than anything else. This provides economic and political leverage/power for those that wield it.

The payoff is not merely in the form of money, but in less tangible things as well. A victim by definition is not responsible, therefore anything they do in the future cannot be held against them as it occurs as a result of their victimization. A victim has, in essence, a free pass for the rest of their lives for all that they do. So, more and more people delight in being victims, and more and more so-called leaders encourage this as it provides them with a power base.

Someone insulted your clothes in elementary school? You are scarred for life and a victim. Someone says you are pretty? You are a victim. Someone calls you ugly? You are a victim. Someone does a commercial with characters wearing a hat that looks vaguely ethnic? It is secret racism and you are a victim. Someone makes a polite pass at you? Sexism! And again you are a victim. A teacher requires you to go look something up? The Horrors! You are a victim!!

Congratulations! You now have a free pass for life. You have the perfect excuse and a valid legal defense for anything that comes at you in the future. You may even qualify for monetary damages!

Give. Me. A. Break.

There are two other definitions of victim about which you need to think. One is a living creature sacrificed to a deity or rite. The other is a dupe, the prey of those who would feed off the weak.

When someone is persecuted for an innocent action, or simply for the sake of political or other expediency, that person is truly victimized. When someone is persecuted for something they did not do, or that is attributed to their ancestors, that is true victimization. When someone is tried later for something that was not a crime at the time, and maybe even a societal norm, that is true victimization.

It is easy to forget, especially when there is strong encouragement to do so, that all things come with a price. That price have many facets, from higher costs for products or services to a denial of products or services. It may be that the lives of individuals are destroyed by mere accusations, unproven and unfounded, and there is a high cost to that.

The easy thing to do is to be a dupe, to play into the system (You can’t win unless you play!) and find a way to be a victim. The hard thing to do is to avoid it. There is a fine line between justice and vengeance, and it is not always easy to see. There is a fine line between legitimate redress and the Cult of Victimization, and serious efforts are being made all the time by the unscrupulous to blur or erase it.

The key to this lies within you. Are you going to let the bully in 3rd grade define your life for you? Are you going to let the crushing disappointment of being dumped by a lover rule your life forever? Are you really going to give another person that much power over you? Are you really going to give them your soul?

Just down the page from victim is a far more powerful and important word. A word towards which any follower of the way should strive. That word is a simple one, also only six letters long.


A winner. Someone who triumphs over adversity. A person who wins the contest. An individual who defeats the opposition and the odds despite any and all circumstances. A person who does not let any one, or even several, setbacks deter them from winning.

This is a person who looks ahead. This is a person who refuses to let themselves be defined and limited by what has occurred, but uses it to move forward and achieve great things.

And that exposes the true trap of the Cult of Victimization. As a victim, you are forever trapped in the past, with no future. Everything is measured against that event, and you must always look back to it in horror so that it defines you and your life. It limits you, and you will always be dependent upon a system to support you.

Raise up your eyes. Turn around, and look up. There is a vast expanse of unwritten future that awaits you, and it can be as bright and as high as you want it to be.

You may have experienced real trauma in your life; or, you may be a manufactured victim. It matters not. The choice is still yours, to live in the darkness of what was, or to move up and ahead.

My question to you is, are you going to give the person who harmed you absolute control over your life, your destiny? Are you going to let them win in the truest sense of the word? Or are you going to take back your life and have the best revenge of all: living well and accomplishing great things?

That choice is yours. It is up to you to decide if you are victim, or victor.


Do You Know This Man Or Voice?

Bumping, as someone, somewhere, knows who he is.  He may be the person at church who recently shaved his head or dyed his hair after a comical “accident.”  He may be the person who assisted you at the home improvement store, or that gets his cigars/cigarettes at the same place you do.  He may be the person you see getting gas each week.  He may be the neighbor down the street.  He’s the person you would not think of in this context, so adding this to help people think a bit.

Listen to this voice. Listen Again. 

Imagine that you know something bad is about to happen to you, and that you have no effective means to prevent it.  You know nothing can stop it, but you activate the video feature on your cell phone not to help you, but to help police find the person or persons who did those things to you.

14-year-old Libby German did just that in the moments before at least one male ordered her and her friend — 13-year-old Abby Williams —  “down the hill” and ultimately to their deaths.  She showed a clarity and courage that I’m not sure many adults could or would match under the same circumstances.

The least we can do is spread this far and wide, so that the killer or killers are brought to justice.  Somebody, somewhere, will recognize the photo or the voice.  Share it far and wide.

Light. The. Bastard. Up.

Christianity And Immigration: A Starting Point For Discussion

Recently, a discussion started on my Facebook page about faith, and the duties of Christians towards refuges, as a result of my response to what was then the latest round of continuing outrage.  This specific bit of outrage was directed towards Christians, rebuking them over the EO issued by President Trump.  As noted then, my response to that and some comments raised deserves a fuller and thoughtful reply.

In the hopes that some may actually read it and consider the comments, I present that response.  I’ve been slow to post as I both have limited time, and because giving a more thoughtful response does take time.  I hope you will forgive me for suspecting that none of the commenters were truly interested in a theological debate.  I strongly suspect that for many or all that the responses were far more religious than Religious, in terms of Dr. Barnes outstanding work on rational discourse and persuasibility (see http://www.blackfive.net/main/2006/09/repost_rational.html).

That said, there are three parts to this:  theological, philosophical, and factual.  The three are, as always, intertwined.  Trying to separate the three is a quick way to be wrong, as well as a logical fallacy.  On the first part I note that I am not a theologian, and I speak for myself.

I don’t think anyone, in my post or elsewhere, tried to argue that Christians (and those of the Jewish faith) don’t have a duty to Charity, or to charity.  This does indeed include charity to foreigners.

A quick search shows that there are (at least) 46 verses that deal with strangers/foreigners/resident aliens.  Of those 46, some involve smiting those with ill intent towards the Children of Israel.  Others deal with taxing foreigners/resident aliens, and giving unto them unclean foods that could not be eaten by the Children of Israel.  Others, commend particular care to do for foreigners/resident aliens as the Children of Israel had once been strangers in a strange land (Egypt).  One reason for the delay in response was the interesting find that one of the terms from original scripture (Hebrew and Greek) does appear to translate as resident alien, a legal term then as it is today.  One or more translations of scripture does use that term, and I’m actually wanting to explore that more.

If there is a faster way to doctrinal/theological error than cherry picking scripture, I am not sure what it is.  A full understanding requires consideration of Scripture as a whole.  One of my few quibbles with Dr. Barnes work is that I have found that faith and theology require not blind faith, but full discussion and discourse of any single verse in the context of the whole.  And, yes, I note that faith and understanding of what scripture means has changed as we as a people have grown, studied, and debated.  It has indeed led to what I call ‘Oh, that’s what you meant’ moments for all.  Leaving aside Charity, I would note that charity does not demand that one aid and abet those of ill intent towards you.

For those who still want to focus on a single bits of scripture, may I commend to you

Psalm 82:3-4 and Romans 13:1-2.

With all that said, yes, scripture can be, has been, and will be, cherrypicked from now to the end of time.  Anything can be taken out of context, and Man — with his free will — tends to find those things that justify his desires.  Just as I noted above, however, cherrypicking is in and of itself a wrong act, philosophically and theologically, as it lacks the context of the full.

In fact, if you read the fullness of scripture, evil is to be resisted; and, unjust governance is to be resisted by passive and active means.  Active does not mean, in all cases, armed.  Rather, it is primarily resisted by peaceful actions to enact positive change by reason, discourse, and example.  Keep the faith.  Only at last resort, or to protect from imminent harm, is one to turn to violence.

In the great experiment that is our Constitutional Republic (not a democracy), we have voting, state and federal legislatures, and the courts as means of peaceful challenge and change.  The peaceful transition of power in the Republic was a novel thing at the time the Great Experiment started, and few born here realize how rare it is even today in many parts of the world.

Now, let’s move from scripture to theology and philosophy.  Both are in agreement that the ends do NOT justify the means.  If one seeks to do a bad thing, that is wrong, even if the desire is to obtain a good thing, especially a “greater good”.  To accomplish good, one must do the right thing, for the right reasons, at the right time.  It is good and right to fast so that the money that would be spent on food can go to the poor or other good cause.  It is philosophically wrong (theologically a sin) to fast and give that money if the goal is to gain fame and notoriety for oneself — in other words, doing the right thing simply to virtue signal others and glorify yourself is a wrong act/a sin.

Theology and philosophy both take note of the Principle of Double Effect, i.e. the law of unintended consequences.  One can undertake something good, for good reasons, but still cause evil.  if those consequences were indeed entirely unknowable and unintended, then great wrong has been done but theologically it is not a sin.  If, however, one knows that these consequences are quite likely/inevitable, there are other reasonable courses of action, then one has committed a wrong act (sin) if you proceed.

Now, to current events.

First, every nation has control of its borders and regulates who comes in for a visit or permanently.  One excludes visitors that you know are up to no good.  One welcomes people who want to assimilate and become a net positive to the society of that country.  The definitions on both applied by countries do vary quite a bit, as each has its own ideas on those principles.

Some are quite open.  Our own country is, despite the outcry, a very open and welcoming country to visitors, though not quite as much to immigrants.  Our Immigration Service and laws/regulations seriously need overhaul.  A woman I come close to marrying was, in fact, was a resident alien and her efforts to become a citizen exemplify a good bit of the problem.  She spent years and thousands of dollars in her effort, and to my knowledge still has not achieved her desire.  Whatever my thoughts about her, the system is essentially broken in regards those who want to come here, become citizens, and pursue the American dream legally.  That said, our system in regard to illegal aliens is also broken.  Both need serious reform, especially in regards illegal aliens who come here and commit minor things like rape, robbery, and murder.  We must do better by all.

An even better example is the plight of the interpreters who have aided us in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.  These are people who have proven themselves under fire, and almost all were being recommended and/or sponsored by the troops with which they served.  They were supposed to be fast-tracked, as their service to us literally put a target on not just their backs, but the backs of their immediate, and sometimes extended, families.  Instead, those applications were at best slow-tracked, far more often than not taking years.  The appearance was that this was both deliberate and malicious, and is something on which the military community has been working with members of Congress and others to address.  Sadly, there was not a lot of success with those efforts and it is my hope that the new administration and Congress will work together to address it.

As for why I talked about appearances, compare and contrast the extreme vetting and slow-rolling of the interpreters to the rapid and apparently cursory vetting given to other refugees from the Middle East.  What was taking years for people who had proven themselves took literally days for them.  Interesting, no?

That said, we are far from the most draconian, and I invite you to take an honest and objective look at them.  Want to have some fun?  Try immigrating to Mexico and buying land.  Take a look at visiting Iraq, Iran, Somalia, North Korea, Nauru, Butahn, and Libya to name a few.  We are not the best, but those claiming we are the worst need a serious reality check.

Every nation vets/checks visitors, and especially immigrants, in a variety of ways.  That is simply being responsible to the greater good.  In other words, governments have a duty to protect the people there (and their way of life).  America has taken in the lowly and oppressed from around the world, and overall done very well by it.  Hybrid vigor is a good term for it, and it comes from a variety of people coming here, assimilating and embracing the opportunities, and becoming good and productive members of society.  It is part of the great experiment that is our Republic.  However, not all individuals or groups have done so, and it is right (and a right) to deport them if they can not obey the law.

Daesh, which is the better name for ISIS/ISIL, believes in establishing a world-wide caliphate, along with starting a war between Muslims and all those of other faiths.  It should be noted that those Muslims who do not agree with them are considered as bad or worse than Christians and others, and they spend considerable effort exterminating and/or enslaving them.

I suspect that a majority of people in the U.S. have only a limited idea of what Daesh has done and is doing.  They routinely throw gay men from roof tops; what happens to lesbians is horrific; they crucify those they regard as apostate, as well as Christians and others (per the Koran, which lists crucifixion as one of the acceptable means of death for such); they enslave men, women, and children; they engage in sexual slavery, particularly women and children (male and female) of the Christian faith; and, I could go on but why bother.  Few seem to care.

That is a bit of a blanket statement, but it comes from both watching efforts to help minority populations in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere, and to aid or start new efforts to do so.  I can make a very good argument that the UN has done little for them; and, will note that efforts by religious charities have done far more.  They and the Martyrdom they have endured for their faith is astounding — and they deserve all we can do to help provide them security, healing, and more.

For much of last year, I had a housemate who was a practicing Moslem from Libya.  He and other members of his extended family were forced to flee Libya because of Daesh.  He shared a few things with us, and in regards Daesh some of what he shared can only be described as horrific.  For purposes of this note, I will simply share that he accepted as a given that Daesh was using the crisis to export believers/fighters.  Not a possibility, but a fact.  For all that I think discussion of the demographics of the current refugee crisis is often used as a red herring, I will note that a mass influx of military-aged males (who are not interested in assimilation or adhering to the laws of the countries being entered) was in the past called an invasion.

I will note and accept that the latest wave of refugees is not the start of such a problem, though it has caused the issue to explode.  England and Europe have long provided pretty much open and unfiltered immigration.  I will simply note that few seem to know about Rotherham (https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2769601/rotherham-sex-abuse-gang-allahu-akbar-jailed/ as a start); the wave of rapes and murders in Germany (and elsewhere); and, the terrorist acts committed by those immigrants in Europe, of which the spate of attacks in Paris are just the tip of the iceberg.  There are many valid citations of those problems, and I leave researching them to the (few) who are truly interested.  I will also recommend you read https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/04/world/asia/isis-messaging-app-terror-plot.html?_r=0 as part of this.

Again, none of this is news to those who have been paying attention.  it has been a topic of extreme interest to the intelligence community, and those interested in terrorism and those interested in helping those who have truly suffered from Daesh and others.  Again, while I think discussion of demographics allows those who want to ignore reality a great opportunity to do so, almost all sources agree that out of the refugees let into the U.S. that are part of the current crisis, less than one percent come from those being persecuted and martyred.

The recent EO was a 90-day ban on people from six countries — not a ban on Moslems.  It was, in fact, half the time of previous such orders — and again as an exercise for those truly interested, go to the Congressional Research Service and look at previous bans, which administrations had the most, and the length of them.  It is a fascinating and telling read, all the way back to FDR turning away Jews fleeing the Holocaust.

The idea behind the temporary ban was to force those countries to do a better job of helping vet the refugees, while making improvements to our own vetting process.  Will it miraculously make us safer immediately?  No, it won’t.  What it will do is allow the government to start a process that hopefully (and, no, I’m not sure it will given the nature of our bureaucracy) make us safer in the long run.  Was it well handled/initiated?  No.  Was it a step in the right direction?  In my opinion, yes.  Is making those who are truly suffering a priority over those who are not the right thing to do?  Yes, politically, philosophically, and theologically.  Is doing all we can for them here and abroad the right thing to do?  Yes.  It is the least we can do.

Now, back to the law of unintended consequences/Principle of Double Effect.  Given the multitude of evidence of what happens from unvetted immigration, the fact that rape, murder, terrorism, and other crimes against law and humanity will occur is NOT an unforeseeable side effect.  It is, instead, a given.  Which mean that those who demand such are complicit in those acts, and committing philosophical and theological wrong.  Take your pick of either, it is the same in both.

Some of us have been paying attention to, and trying to address all the issues listed above for quite some time.  From the issue of the translators on down, I have to echo the question asked by this man at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/04/world/asia/isis-messaging-app-terror-plot.html?_r=0.  Further, I will not just ask where you were then, but where are you now.  Are you virtue signaling, or are you engaged in any meaningful effort to address the multiple problems in our system or in general?

SDB and Kerry Gilley, Into The Light

Steven Den Beste has moved on into the light. In the early days of the Internet as we now know it, his USS Clueless was a bright beacon of what it could be. I can’t remember how I found him, but I was amazed and delighted to find his work, work that made one think, epitomized rational discourse, reason, and much more that is good in thought and the world. His considered reasoning was refreshing, and even when you disagreed with a point, you were in awe of the way he arrived at it. More than once (many more) when reading you stopped and thought to yourself “Wow. Never looked at it that way before.” If you ever wrote something that got an attaboy from him, you knew you had done well. I still have the USS Clueless and the USS Clueless Essential Library bookmarked on my site, though his health had moved him on to other things. To say he was a giant in the field is a massive understatement. He was an inspiration to me in my early days, and also introduced me to people, sites, and concepts for which I am immensely thankful. The positive impact he had on the Internet and the world may never be fully appreciated.
Tom Hayden has passed.
Kerry Gilley has also passed into the light. Like Steven, health problems had driven him from the stage several years ago. He was not a blogger, but a good man and a good friend in Science Fiction fandom. I can’t remember exactly when and how we met, and it seems like he was always a part of my life in that arena. He had a truly rotten sense of humor (often quite dryer than many suspected) and pun, and for all that we disagreed on some points, it was a subject of fun banter and serious philosophical discussion that drew us together rather than apart. He had a huge heart, and would literally give someone the shirt off his back if they were in need. Sehlat salutes Mr. “Sliding Down The Razorblade of Life” and is much the richer for having known him.
Godspeed Steven and Kerry. Toasts are raised, prayers said, and smiles abound thinking back on that which was.

Slow But Steady

My apologies for the delays, but as some may know, I’ve had some health issues to go with too much going. Fact is, I’ve stepped back from a number of things and causes, and am focusing on dealing with the health and other issues — including a need to get back to writing before my Muse hurts me.

Meantime, will be working to get the site back up and to restore as many posts as I can. The efforts to save and bring things over didn’t work as planned.

Also, I’m trying a new spam filter/system on this site, hoping to reduce spam without too much annoyance to you or to me. We will see.

More soon.