Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Picture Dump - Cars & Coffee, 10/14/17

The second Saturday of every month, one of the high-end strip-malls in Tucson holds "Cars & Coffee" where, for a couple of hours, anybody can bring their car and show it off.  There's a wide, wide variety of vehicles at these things, but this month there was the largest turnout I've yet to see - at least a couple hundred cars.  Here are some of the highlights:

First, the exotic:





Then the classic:






Next, the unusual:







And, finally, something I've never seen in the wild before - An aluminum-bodied, right-hand drive AC Cobra:




There were also of course Camaros and Mopars, Golf GTIs and Subaru WRXs, BMWs, Porsches and Ferraris and more Mustangs than you could shake a proverbial stick at.  It's a good show every month, and gratifying to know that there are still a LOT of young gearheads out there interested in going FAST, along with us old farts who can finally afford the cars they dreamed about in their youths.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Motive

When I first heard of the details of the shooting spree in Las Vegas, my immediate thought was of Matt Bracken's Enemies Foreign and Domestic.  My second thought was of the University of Texas, Austin tower shooting.  I was not alone on either thought.

Well, preliminary reports are that there were no obvious brain abnormalities.

Mark Steyn recently received a missive from one of his fans on the incident, and in keeping with letting other people say it better than I can, I recommend you read what he had to say, but I will offer some excerpts:
This man amassed (rough figures) 24 guns in the hotel and another 19 at his home - 42 guns in total. He spent some $100,000 on buying them. The guns at his home are one thing but he also spent days filling his hotel room with more weapons and ammunition than he could ever conceivably use along with an array of advanced modifications and accessories.

Everything brand new. And very expensive. And mostly entirely redundant. Representing in effect an enormous waste of money and time and risk.

Except that is in the realm of generating massive publicity. Guaranteed massive publicity.

Yet despite having gone to enormous lengths to achieve that goal we are asked to believe this same man never troubled - never took the most elementary steps - to speak to that publicity. Indeed left behind no trace of anything that might demonstrate indicate or even hint at his motive or motives.

That would appear to make very little sense.

We would argue the opposite - that it makes absolute sense.

Because this gentleman did not simply fail to leave behind a motive; He took substantial trouble to ensure that no motive could be found - or attributed to him. All of which can lead us to only one conclusion:

It has been said that 'the medium is the message'.

In this case that is the literal truth. There is only one plausible motive for what this man did. And here it is:

This man wished to telegraph to America in graphic form the hard irrefutable evidence that guns and gun ownership and the ease of gun purchase in America are an evil and must be controlled. On that hypothesis everything now makes sense.
On the question of why the shooter scoped out other venues first, but ultimately attacked the Harvest Music Festival:
The people he chose to kill supports the hypothesis on 'guns'. Country and Western fans are virtually guaranteed to own or at least to defend the ownership of guns. By a certain logic this provides the gunman with two sound moral positions (because it is not beyond possibility he has a conscience):

First - While killing a very large number of innocent people is an horrendous crime it is nonetheless entirely justifiable - in moral terms - if it causes a restriction on guns. Because such a restriction would - it is widely held - save innumerable lives in the long run. There is no evidence for this but it is still a widely and passionately held belief.

Second - Since the people he is shooting are actively or passively defenders of guns and an obstacle to gun control they are by definition responsible in part for all the people who have been and continue to be killed by guns.
You see it in almost every story - "We may never know the motive." "The motive remains a mystery."

I don't think there was any kind of conspiracy involved, but I can't disagree with this assessment. It's almost as if he was shouting "How DARE we be allowed to be free!"

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

"This is Public. Please Share."

John Ringo, author of many books I've enjoyed greatly, posted something on Facebook I'm going to reproduce here.  The title of this post comes from it.

Other than that, I have no commentary:
A Theory on Las Vegas

I may be the only person in the 'pundit' world who can put what we know about the Las Vegas shooter in perspective because I've dealt with something similar before. My personal take, at this point, is 'homicidal psychotic break, rationale currently unknown, possible pharmacological.'

To debunk a few of the recent urban legends and prolapse some of the stupider arguments:

ISIS: Nothing in his electronic trail indicates any contact with ISIS despite their claims and some rumors. Nothing.

'There were multiple shooters/he was a patsy!': All the guns in the room were registered to Paddock. He was covered in GSR and even had burns on his hands from hot barrel/rounds.

'He was antifa killing Republicans!': Nothing in his electronic trail indicates the slightest political affiliation or interest. Nothing.

There weren't even angry emails. He never posted comments. Rarely read political news. Nada.

Gambling debts! He was broke!

Paddock was a habitual hobby gambler who was the sort of person casinos hate. He would set a budget on his gambling and stick to it religiously. He also rarely lost big or won big and never let either one change his habits.

He was a perfectly normal, successful, retired accountant well-invested in real estate with very little or no recent change in demeanor or actions.

Perfectly normal guy and only a ‘loner’ to the extent he wasn’t terribly socially active. ‘Loner’ apparently means he didn’t frequent wild parties. If he had the narrative would be ‘wild party animal.’

'Homicidal psychotic break means he couldn't have done the planning!'

Au contraire. Deep sigh. Been here, had someone in my life nearly do if not that than similar. With their permission I will now recount a story and show why everything about this makes a terrible sort of sense to me. The story is about my lovely and extremely loving wife, Miriam, and her descent to homicidal psychotic break due to a nasty drug interaction.

My wife has had the same doctor since she was a child. Old 'country' doctor who is the only person who has ever been able to handle Miriam's many oddities. A limited list:

My wife:

Has four kidneys and four ankles. (She ate the good twin.)

Was once listed as one of the top five Adult ADHD in the US and the only one who was clinically functional.

Has supremely bizarre drug interactions and thereby hangs this tale.

Miriam is a 'limited case pharmacological phenotype.' What does that mean? You know where on the warning label it says: 'in rare cases may cause you to grow two heads and fly to the moon'? Miriam is 'rare cases.' Every single time she tries a new prescription drug (fill in reason here) she is 'rare cases.'

This involves the 'in rare cases' effect of a drug called Cymbalta. Notably, as Cymbalta NOW states 'in rare cases may cause homicidal or suicidal psychotic break. Should not be prescribed to teenagers.' (Because it turns out in MOST cases WILL cause psychotic break in teenagers.)

Miriam was prescribed Cymbalta for 'depression' by her doctor in the early fall of 2007. I don't really remember if it seemed to work or not but she remained on it. I do recall that there as a shooting (by a teenager) that December in Nebraska in a mall. And I do recall Miriam's uncharacteristic comment.

'He only managed to kill five people in a crowded mall at Christmas time with a pistol and three magazines? He really needed to learn how to shoot.'

My wife is extremely loving and extremely Christian. Her normal response would have been 'That's terrible. God bless their souls and I hope he finds peace!' 'I could have done better' metaphorically was... not Miriam. I'll admit I didn't really notice it at the time.
Nor did I notice that over the course of the next several months (not sure when it started) we started to have a lot of 'off-brand' bleach around the house. Miriam is a lovely wife but cleaning is not her thing. But she also purchases in a very random manner. (Note the ADHD thing.) This did seem to be alot of bleach, though. I mentioned it a couple of times in jest. (We finally ran through all the bleach she bought in 2007-8 about a year ago. That much bleach.)

I didn't realize there were twenty-nine more gallon bottles in the trunk of her car.

I do recall during a rather bad time (possibly around below) that 'when she was gone' (and it had the feeling of 'soon') I wouldn't have to worry about the cats because 'they would be coming with her.' Miriam occasionally says odd things but that stood out. I'm more than aware of various forms of murder suicide and it was... discomforting. But... Miriam sometimes says odd things. (Used to. Far less these days for a variety of reasons. She's gotten SANER with menopause which is... just as bizarre as everything else.)

Things around Mother's Day got bad but they usually are. (Reasons I won't relate.) Then at a certain point I got a call from my loving wife (GF at the time) saying she was coming home from work, early, and we needed to go to Parkridge. I wasn't even sure what 'Parkridge' was.

Parkridge is one of the hospitals in the area but the specific one she mentioned was the psychiatric hospital.

I asked her on the drive over what was wrong. She didn't want to talk about it. For various 'privacy' reasons I wasn't well informed at the time. But I'll fill in the blanks for you in ways they weren't filled in for me.

She finally realized something was VERY wrong and checked herself in. Miriam had had a 'homicidal psychotic break' due to a side effect of Cymbalta. In most cases this is light and happens during the first couple of months or first month. NOW doctors are told to evaluate regularly in the first few months. THEN there was no warning. And NOBODY goes nine months. Except someone with ENORMOUS coping skills who has had to deal with madness that drove others insane on a daily basis her whole life.

(By the way, the teenager in the mall above? Guess what anti-depressant he was on? One guess and it rhymes with 'Sin Malta'. He’d been on it a few months, prescribed right around the same time as Miriam.)

So my loving wife coped. She controlled. As she slowly went ever-loving NUTS.

The specific issue was she had 'an uncontrollable desire to do harm to those who do harm to others.' Notably, she'd built up a list of persons on the Megan's (sexual predators) List and had developed very carefully constructed kill plans for each. She was tracking them and targeting them carefully. She has an extensive background in forensics and was probably going to get away with it.

Now, people may look at the targets and go 'Well... Uhm... having a hard time with that being 'bad'.' But to be very clear, my wife had shifted, subtly and without warning, from sweet, Christian, Miriam to serial killer. And I do mean without ANY REAL WARNING.

I didn't know exactly what was going on at the time. I was approached by one of the staff after a few hours sitting in a hard chair out front.

'I understand you're an author?'

'Yes. What's going on? Is Miriam okay?' (We weren't married at the time. Yes, I married her AFTER this, people.)

'She's being evaluated. But I understand you work from home? Are there frequently?'

'Pretty much all the time.'

'We can release her if she is under 24 hour monitoring...'

I had to sign to get her out pledging I would maintain '24 hour monitoring.' (Yes, I had to sign an actual release taking responsibility for the actions of an adult. They wouldn't tell me FOR WHAT ACTIONS.)

Miriam covered the big stuff on the ride home. I didn't get lots of detail til... years later. Details such as: Manson-like she had started to get the other patients, and even staff, to agree that her plan totally made sense in her first group therapy session. That was the real reason they were sending her home. They were afraid she was infecting the patients and staff and would form a 'kill sexual predators' cult.

(I guess they thought I was immune or something.)

Issues with this went on and on for months as it slowly leached from her system.

But let me relate it to Las Vegas.

Most people think of 'homicidal break' as someone suddenly 'grabbing a letter opener and carving their way out of Cost Accountancy and into forensic history.' (H/t: the late Sir Terry Pratchett.)

That's not, generally, how it works. How much planning and preparation a person does depends upon how rapid the onset is (months in Miriam's case) and how good they are at planning and preparation. (Both Miriam and Paddock were planners. He was an accountant and multi-millionaire.)

So look at the story above and break it down:

Relatively normal person, perhaps a bit odd, has minor changes in behavior that no-one in their close circle really notices.

He/she is a methodical person with an agenda. Other people who've done mass kills simply did not do it right. He/she is going to do it right. He knows they hold concerts by the Mandalay. That's the perfect venue for the most kills.

Suddenly they're a mass killer for no apparent reason.

That was what WAS going to happen with my wife.

So, Paddock doesn't really surprise me. I've seen it before.

My guess is it will be doctors who figure it out. And if they do they'll find he either was having a bad drug reaction (in which case nobody will admit nothin’ just as they’ve never admitted it was Cymbalta that caused the Westroads Mall Shooting) or neurological degeneration of some sort. (A tumor caused the University of Texas ‘Bell Tower’ shooting.) If pharmacological, the drug doesn't even have to be a definitively 'psychotropic' drug. Many drugs these days from heart medicine to anti-malarials have some psychotropic effect.

(If this had anything to do with a drug reaction, any drug of any type, I hope the survivors sue the shit out of the drug manufacturer. Because most of these recent 'crazy' mass kills, going all the way back to the 'postal worker' epidemic (overdosage of Prozac) and Columbine (both kids were hopped to their gills on prescription anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs), have had SOMETHING to do with psychotropic drugs pushed by drug companies. Many of the murder/suicides of returning military personnel were closely linked to an anti-malarial. And nobody seems to be willing to speak truth to power on the subject. Just writing this post will probably get me sued.)

The only lesson to take from this is 'keep an eye on your loved ones especially if they have ANY changes in prescription.' Doesn’t matter if it’s heart medication. Keep an eye on their personality as well as health.

Homicidal break does not always happen quickly. Sometimes it creeps in like the fog on cats feet. It is only at the last that the cackle of madness is heard. By then it is too late.

May God rest all their souls and let them find peace.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

91 is a Pretty Good Run

So Hugh Hefner has passed after 91 years on this earth and uncounted platinum blondes.

I hope he got the death Tyrion Lannister wishes for:


Friday, September 22, 2017

Awww, Sonofabitch, It's Dusty in Here...

I just ran across something at Reddit most of you probably already have read, but I'm going to copy it here with attribution because I want to archive it myself.  It's titled In the final minutes of his life, Calvin has one last talk with Hobbes, by Redditor "Samuraitiger19."

"Calvin? Calvin, sweetheart?"

In the darkness Calvin heard the sound of Susie, his wife of fifty-three years. Calvin struggled to open his eyes. God, he was so tired and it took so much strength. Slowly, light replaced the darkness, and soon vision followed. At the foot of his bed stood his wife. Calvin wet his dry lips and spoke hoarsely, "Did... did you.... find him?"

"Yes dear," Susie said smiling sadly, "He was in the attic."

Susie reached into her big purse and brought out a soft, old, orange tiger doll. Calvin could not help but laugh. It had been so long. Too long.

"I washed him for you," Susie said, her voice cracking a little as she laid the stuffed tiger next to her husband.

"Thank you, Susie." Calvin said.

A few moments passed as Calvin just laid on his hospital bed, his head turned to the side, staring at the old toy with nostalgia.

"Dear," Calvin said finally. "Would you mind leaving me alone with Hobbes for a while? I would like to catch up with him."

"All right," Susie said. "I'll get something to eat in the cafeteria. I'll be back soon."

Susie kissed her huband on the forehead and turned to leave. With sudden but gentle strength Calvin stopped her. Lovingly he pulled his wife in and gave her a passionate kiss on the lips. "I love you," he said.

"And I love you," said Susie.

Susie turned and left. Calvin saw tears streaming from her face as she went out the door.

Calvin then turned to face his oldest and dearest friend. "Hello Hobbes. It's been a long time hasn't it old pal?"

Hobbes was no longer a stuffed doll but the big furry old tiger Calvin had always remembered. "It sure has, Calvin." said Hobbes.

"You... haven't changed a bit." Calvin smiled.

"You've changed a lot." Hobbes said sadly.

Calvin laughed, "Really? I haven't noticed at all."

There was a long pause. The sound of a clock ticking away the seconds rang throughout the sterile hospital room.

"So... you married Susie Derkins." Hobbes said, finally smiling. "I knew you always like her."

"Shut up!" Calvin said, his smile bigger than ever.

"Tell me everything I missed. I'd love to hear what you've been up to!" Hobbes said, excited.  And so Calvin told him everything. He told him about how he and Susie fell in love in high school and had married after graduating from college, about his three kids and four grandkids, how he turned Spaceman Spiff into one of the most popular sci-fi novels of the decade, and so on. After he told Hobbes all this there was another pregnant pause.

"You know... I visited you in the attic a bunch of times." Calvin said.

"I know."

"But I couldn't see you. All I saw was a stuffed animal." Calvin voice was breaking and tears of regret started welling up in his eyes.

"You grew up old buddy." said Hobbes.

Calvin broke down and sobbed, hugging his best friend. "I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry I broke my promise! I promised I wouldn't grow up and that we'd be together forever!!"

Hobbes stroke the Calvin's hair, or what little was left of it. "But you didn't."

"What do you mean?"

"We were always together... in our dreams."

"We were?"

"We were."

"Hobbes?"

"Yeah, old buddy?"

"I'm so glad I got to see you like this... one last time..."

"Me too, Calvin. Me too."

"Sweetheart?" Susie voice came from outside the door.

"Yes dear?" Calvin replied.

"Can I come in?" Susie asked.

"Just a minute."  Calvin turned to face Hobbes one last time. "Goodbye Hobbes. Thanks... for everything..."

"No, thank you Calvin." Hobbes said.

Calvin turned back to the door and said, "You can come in now."

Susie came in and said, "Look who's come to visit you."

Calvin's children and grandchildren followed Susie into Calvin's room. The youngest grandchild ran past the rest of them and hugged Calvin in a hard, excited hug. "Grandpa!!" screamed the child in delight.

"Francis!" cried Calvin's daughter, "Be gentle with your grandfather."

Calvin's daughter turned to her dad. "I'm sorry, Daddy. Francis never seems to behave these days. He just runs around making a mess and coming up with strange stories."

Calvin laughed and said, "Well now! That sound just like me when I was his age."
Calvin and his family chatted some more until a nurse said, "Sorry, but visiting hours are almost up."  Calvin's beloved family said good bye and promised to visit tomorrow. As they turned to leave Calvin said, "Francis. Come here for a second."

Francis came over to his grandfather's side, "What is it Gramps?"

Calvin reached over to the stuffed tiger on his bedside and and held him out shakily to his grandson, who looked exactly as he did so many years ago. "This is Hobbes. He was my best friend when I was your age. I want you to have him."

"He's just a stuffed tiger." Francis said, eyebrows raised.

Calvin laughed, "Well, let me tell you a secret."  Francis leaned closer to Calvin. Calvin whispered, "If you catch him in a tiger trap using a tuna sandwich as bait he will turn into a real tiger."

Francis gasped in delighted awe. Calvin continued, "Not only that he will be your best friend forever."

"Wow! Thanks grandpa!" Francis said, hugging his grandpa tightly again.

"Francis! We need to go now!" Calvin's daughter called.

"Okay!" Francis shouted back.

"Take good care of him." Calvin said.

"I will." Francis said before running off after the rest of the family.

Calvin laid on his back and stared at the ceiling. The time to go was close. He could feel it in his soul. Calvin tried to remember a quote he read in a book once. It said something about death being the next great adventure or something like that. He eyelids grew heavy and his breathing slowed. As he went deeper into his final sleep he heard Hobbes, as if he was right next to him at his bedside. "I'll take care of him, Calvin..."

Calvin took his first step toward one more adventure and breathed his last with a grin on his face.
Just. Damn.

Monday, September 11, 2017

9/11

I've got nothing to add to this post from 2003 except "Thank you" to the operators of the Internet Wayback Machine, and I'll be sending them a donation.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

It's an Illness...

My first N-Frame was a Model 25 Mountain Gun in .45LC.


My second was a 327 TRR8.


Then I traded the Mountain Gun on a 5" heavy-barrelled, unfluted M25-7 also in .45LC.


Fourth was a Lew Horton custom 629.


Today I put $100 down on a 5" Model 24, tapered barrel, fluted cylinder.  Pictures when I finally get it out of layaway.

I'm an N-Frame junkie.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

No New Blog Content for Awhile

I'm going through the archives starting at the beginning and working my way forward cleaning up links (where I can - thanks to the Internet Wayback Machine) and moving photos onto Blogger (again, where I can thanks to the backups I made and what I can pull off of Photobucket.)  There are over 6,800 posts in the archives, so this is a long-term project.

My back already hurts.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Blogorado Bound

I attended Gun Blogger Rendezvous 1 - 10, only missing the last one so I could attend Boomershoot again. Unfortunately it really was the last one, but that means I have vacation time (and money) to allow me to attend another gathering of The People of the Gun™ that I have had to miss in prior years - Blogorado.

Blogorado is an invitation-only gathering of the Clan held in an undisclosed location in Colorado, attended by a glittering list of blog-writers, their spouses (often bloggers themselves) and sometimes their families.  It is held on the ranch of Farmgirl, Farmmom, and Farmdad.  Motel reservations are made, vacation time has been requested, and now I just have to choose what portion of my arsenal will be making the trip North and East with me.

I'm really looking forward to seeing several people I haven't seen in meatspace in years, and meeting new people I haven't had a chance to meet before.

For me, this is the best part of blogging - friends you never knew you had.  As Breda Fallon once said in an episode of the podcast Vicious Circle:
I'm one of those people - I like people, I'm personable, but I don't really have "friends" friends, because I just don't connect to people really that well. But then blogs happened, and I found a whole group of people that I fit in with because I'm weird and they're weird in kinda the same way, and yea for our mutual weirdness. So, thank you for being weird with me.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Well-Regulated Militia

Meet the Cajun Navy:
“They can handle their boats better than the average fireman, who handles a boat once a year during annual training,” says Lt. General (ret.) Russel Honore, who estimates outdoorsmen saved 10,000 from floodwaters in New Orleans while he was in command there after Hurricane Katrina. “They use their boats all the time and know their waters, and know their capacity. It’s an old professional pride. It’s like good food: Some people didn’t go to the Cordon Bleu, but they can cook like hell. That’s these fishermen and their boats.”

Buster Stoker, 21, is a heavy equipment operator for R&R Construction in Sulphur, La., and spends the rest of his time in his 17-foot aluminum Pro Drive marsh boat, fishing for alligator-gar in the heat of summer and chasing fowl through water-thickets in the winter.

“The best day on the water is every day on the water,” he said.

He and several other construction colleagues met in the company parking lot Monday morning at 5 a.m., loaded up with gas and supplies, and headed toward Houston. They launched their little fleet of 14 craft from the intersection of Highway 90 and 526, and over the next several hours they pulled hundreds of people out of their flooded homes in subdivisions, hauling them aboard like gasping bass.

This Cajun Navy is a nebulous, informal thing. It has no real corps or officers. It’s “an intensely informal and unorganized operation,” says Academy Award-winning filmmaker Allan Durand, a Lafayette, La., native., who did a documentary on the “Cajun Navy” volunteer-boats following Katrina.

It’s a movement basically founded on the realization that large government agencies aren’t quick-moving.

According to Honore, they have become utterly essential.

“The first-responders aren’t big enough to do this,” he said. “You might have a police force of 3,000, and maybe 200 know how to handle a boat.”
And that's a citizen militia.

ETA:  Watch this.

Further update:  Read this.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Quote of the Day - Thomas Sowell Redux

In keeping with the previous post, this from Thomas Sowell's Townhall January 2013 piece, The Role of Educators:
Schools were once thought of as places where a society's knowledge and experience were passed on to the younger generation. But, about a hundred years ago, Professor John Dewey of Columbia University came up with a very different conception of education -- one that has spread through American schools of education, and even influenced education in countries overseas.

John Dewey saw the role of the teacher, not as a transmitter of a society's culture to the young, but as an agent of change -- someone strategically placed, with an opportunity to condition students to want a different kind of society.

A century later, we are seeing schools across America indoctrinating students to believe in all sorts of politically correct notions. The history that is taught in too many of our schools is a history that emphasizes everything that has gone bad, or can be made to look bad, in America -- and that gives little, if any, attention to the great achievements of this country.

If you think that is an exaggeration, get a copy of "A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn and read it. As someone who used to read translations of official Communist newspapers in the days of the Soviet Union, I know that those papers' attempts to degrade the United States did not sink quite as low as Howard Zinn's book.

That book has sold millions of copies, poisoning the minds of millions of students in schools and colleges against their own country. But this book is one of many things that enable teachers to think of themselves as "agents of change," without having the slightest accountability for whether that change turns out to be for the better or for the worse -- or, indeed, utterly catastrophic.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Indoctrination

I came across this the other day - the syllabus for a University of Arizona "Honors" English class, English 109H - in fact, the syllabus states:
This is an honors class with work and credit equivalent to a year’s completion of ENGL 101 and 102. Expectations are high.
This is a class for incoming Honors freshmen, straight out of high school.

Shakespeare? Milton? (*shudder*) Conrad?

Nope:
English 109H: Fall 2017

DAMN, We Will Never Know: Kendrick Lamar’s and Kiese Laymon’s Hip Hop Literacies

Course Description


Morally, there has been no change at all, and a moral change is the only real one.
–James Baldwin

On April 14, 2017, twenty-nine year-old Kendrick Lamar, an American hip hop artist known for his pop protest music, released his fourth studio album, DAMN. Four years earlier, thirty-eight year-old Kiese Laymon, an American writer known for his work on Gawker and ESPN, published his series of autobiographical essays on American racism, masculinity, hip hop, and the deep South.

Using Laymon’s essays as a framework, we will study Kendrick Lamar’s body of music to events which boomed his controversy, including #BlackLivesMatter and ongoing police brutalities, especially those publicized by social media. By studying American values connected to what we call blackness and whiteness, we’ll explore conflict, contact, and coalition and ask: How does black American and white American social media allow for critiques of race, gender, sexuality, and violence? What does it mean for a genre of music and its accompanying culture that, by "tradition," enforces heterosexuality and masculinity—in the name of legal murders?

The goal of this course is to improve your ability to critically think and write. In addition to contextualizing and reshaping the Kendrick Lamar and Kiese Laymon conversations, you will conduct library and field research on your own controversy, which will be integrated into a semester-long project consisting of a research essay, public argument, and literacy narrative. If we can listen and read carefully enough, we can occupy other subjectivities; that is, to say, we can improve our writings and civic lives, which are connected to what happens outside the classroom. We will return to the same question at the end: Can we really act as witness to another voice, even for our studies of language and its adaptations?

Course Goals
Goal 1: Rhetorical Awareness
Learn strategies for analyzing texts’ audiences, purposes, and contexts as a means of developing facility in reading and writing.

Goal 2: Critical Thinking and Composing
Use reading and writing for purposes of critical thinking, research, problem solving, action, and participation in conversations within and across different communities.

Goal 3: Reflection and Revision
Understand composing processes as flexible and collaborative, drawing upon multiple strategies and informed by reflection.

Goal 4: Conventions
Understand conventions as related to purpose, audience, and genre, including such areas as mechanics, usage, citation practices, as well as structure, style, graphics, and design.

Written Assignments
  • In the first unit of the course, you will study and respond to various contexts according to different rhetorical lenses and write a Contextual Rhetorical Analysis of Public Protest Spaces reframing Black lives politics re-envisioned by music videos from Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. You may defend, depart from, or combine his arguments to develop your own inquiry.
  • In the second unit, you will conduct both library and field research on an approved social justice controversy of your choice, which will culminate in an analysis of the issue, or a Rhetorical Analysis of a Controversy. An Annotated Bibliography, due before the big Essay 2, will complete the “Research Portfolio.” You will closely study U.S. state or Supreme court cases to develop your controversies.
  • In the third unit, you will use this research to support an argument of public interest, called a Public Argument. You will create a video catered to a mobilized audience and present it to the class.
  • For the final “exam,” you will write and curate your own literacy narrative, which you will publish on a class blog. The final project is semester-long and we will NOT spend time in class on it other than one session per month; you are expected to develop, collect, and write your materials throughout the course. Please start early and utilize the class resources and office hours.
  • In addition to these larger projects, you will complete a series of in-class and out-of-class smaller assignments which build into the four major assignments. Homework (readings, journals, smaller pre-essay assignments and discussions), workshops, and participation are often the decisive suasion points for borderline grades. Do the work, come to class ready and willing to discuss and participate, and you will see that reflected in what you earn.
I'm not going to go through the rest of it, but here's an example of Kendrick Lamar's art from his album DAMN:


I'm reminded of this national championship debate performance.

Just saying.

Kiese Laymon's collection of essays How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America is a required textbook.

At least there's a textbookThe title essay is still available at Gawker.  It's prose, but I'm unconvinced that what's being taught in this class is "critical thinking" or "structure, style, graphics and design."  And since when is the purpose of an English class "problem solving, action, and participation in conversations within and across different communities"?

Oh, and remember we're paying (a lot) for our kids to go to college for this.

The professor?  Sylvia Chan.

The Long March through the Institutions has been completed for a long, long time.

Oh, and read this QotD too.  It's pertinent.

Edited to add this I found at a linking site:

Quote of the Day

New one on me:
Newsheimers, the media affliction by which you just can’t recall what you previously reported.  Especially when it concerns Democrats.
Heh™

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Right-Wing Media

I just got introduced to IntellectualFroglegs.com by a video over at American Digest.  The video is on YouTube - a wholly-owned subsidiary of Goolag - er, Google:


Watch that, if for no other reason than to appreciate the content creator's real mastery of the multimedia format.

If you had told me six years ago that the American Left would be self-destructing as rapidly and violently as they appear to be today, I'd have had you committed.  But bear in mind, their "long march through the institutions" has secured their (ever more tenuous) grasp on the reins of power.  They own academia, the media, and the entertainment industry almost completely, and that's still a lot of power, power they won't surrender easily.

The .25ACP and Defending Your Life

The third most popular piece on TSM is a reprint of an old Usenet post, written by a Florida pawnbroker who went by the handle Flimflam.  It's the story of how he was attacked in his store one day and had to defend himself from a sword-wielding nutcase.  He wasn't wearing his fully-loaded Glock, the backup .38 in his office was disassembled for cleaning, but while standing with a blade jammed through his abdomen he finally remembered the tiny Beretta .25 in his back pocket and it saved his life.

Well, yesterday someone emailed me a similar story of how a .25 saved another life:
While out walking along the edge of a pond just outside my house in The Villages with my soon to be ex-husband, discussing property settlement and other divorce issues, we were surprised by a huge 12-ft. Alligator which suddenly emerged from the murky water and began charging us with its large jaws wide open. She must have been protecting her nest because she was extremely aggressive.

If I had not had my little Beretta .25 caliber pistol with me, I would not be here today! Just one shot to my estranged husband's knee cap was all it took. The 'gator got him easily, and I was able to escape by just walking away at a brisk pace. It's one of the best pistols in my collection, plus the amount I saved in lawyer's fees was really incredible. His life insurance was a big bonus.
The .25ACP. It ain't much, but it beats harsh language!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Another Update from the Gun Retail Front Lines

Tam posted recently on what she believes is at least partially the cause of the current glut on the firearms market:
(W)hile most firearms companies are privately held and therefore inscrutable on matters fiscal, the goings-on at a few are public knowledge because they are publicly traded.

The news from American Outdoor Brands Corporation (neé Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation) tells a tale that is probably all too common in the industry right now: Shelves groaning under unsold inventory that was churned out in expectation of the mother of all gun panics following a Hillary Clinton victory.
I sent this link to my favorite local Merchant O'Death, and he recently replied:
As I mentioned in an earlier email, and, as others have pointed out elsewhere, it is definitely a buyer's market in the firearms industry right now. The big name companies continue to offer almost absurd "deals" in the form of free gear, mail in rebates and the like. One company was offering a free pair of Oakley sunglasses with he purchase of one of their AR platform rifles. I do believe that particular deal has ended but several other companies have continued deals that were only supposed to last a month or two. Ruger is currently engaged in a program for gun store employees. Sell a certain number of new Ruger firearms, send in proof to Ruger that you have done so and, upon verification that no skullduggery is afoot, they will send the gun store employee a brand spankin' new Ruger firearm of the said gun store employee's choice (from a list of firearms posted by the company of course). . There are some pretty cool choices on the list. Now to the point: the program was supposed to last for a couple of months. It has been extended for a couple more. I suppose that is one way to move product out of the warehouse.

Our distributors call us Monday through Friday with "ganga deals" on firearms we don't need either because we have them on the shelves (and in back stock) or because we have no room for them. The only firearms we have a hard time acquiring are a handful of things that were announced at SHOT earlier in the year. The CZ P-10C is much sought after though availability is getting better. Colt announced the return of the Cobra revolver at SHOT this year. I have almost a double handful of customers with money down on one. I have yet to see one. The Kimber K6S, even though it has been out for over a year is still a scarce beastie on our shelves despite the fact that we are a "Master Dealer". With rare exception ammunition is not hard to come by at all (those rare exceptions leaning toward the "semi-obsolete" cartridges like 30-40 Krag and 348 Winchester etc.) We turn down 22 rimfire ammo every day.

We are still turning customers away with firearms for sale. We are still stacked to the gunwales with black rifles, Glocks, XDs, M&Ps, Sigs, 1911s, pocket pistols and small frame revolvers. We also have a glut of heavy barrel target/benchrest rifles of varying caliber. Had to turn a guy away today with a nice Sako single-shot, heavy barrel bolt gun in 222 Rem. He couldn't understand why we didn't want to buy it even after we showed him the eight other target guns we had that had been there for longer than we wanted them to be.

The old and collectable are still flying of the shelves. Had a non-military/police Sig P-210 come into our possession from an old customer that is getting out of the firearms game due to poor health. That gun never made it to the shelf. Customer saw it as we were buying it and said that he didn't care what the price was he wanted it. Same thing with a couple of semi-scarce Colt 1911A1 models. Same story with some older S&W revolvers.

Things are selling, just not things that are collecting dust on manufacturers'/distributors' shelves.
So, interesting things are happening in the used market, but the market for all that stuff sitting in manufacturer's and distributor's warehouses? Not so much.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Quote of the Day - Gunnie Edition

Paraphrased because I can't find the actual quote at the moment, but seen elsewhere:
Handguns put holes in bodies.

Rifles put holes through bodies.

Shotguns, at the proper range and with the proper load, remove significant portions of bodies and splatter those portions all over the ground.
I'm advised that quote is from Clint Smith, President and Director of Thunder Ranch. And I think that's a pretty fair assessment.

I Wonder What the Earworm from This Would Be?

Seen at the Book of Face, had to share:

Frozen 2:  Lethal Ice

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Yup, It's Official

Photobucket sucks.  I've got to find another photo hosting service.  I'm sure as hell not paying them $40/month (Or $400/yr.) just so I can link photos here.  I don't need 500GB of storage (I'm currently using 2.7G of the 24G I'm paying something like $24/yr for.

This is like when HaloScan/Echo went pay-for-play on their "free" blog commenting service back in 2010.  I lost the better part of 40,000 comments dating back to just after this blog got started.  Through the herculean efforts of reader John Hardin, he managed to recover and host the comments to a large number of older posts, but I'm not going through anything like that again for the literally thousands of photos I've posted over the last dozen years or so.  Screw that.

Breda Fallon has said that blogging is dead.  I think she's right, and in large part because supporting industry business models simply don't work anymore.  It's just not worth dealing with bullshit like this.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Houston!

Looks like, barring unforeseen events, I'll be in northwest Houston, Texas the week of August 14-19 with my evenings mostly free.  Anybody want to get together?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Those Were the Days....

I posted this last year and the year before. Here it is updated.


On this day at 02:56 UTC 48 years ago, Neil Armstrong became the first human being to leave one of these on the surface of another astronomical body. Three years and five months later, Eugene Cernan became the last man to do so, so far.

The last Space Shuttle touched down for the last time six years and one day ago.

Elon Musk of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX fame has said that the impetus behind the development of SpaceX came when his son asked him, "is it really true that they used to fly to the moon when you were a boy?"

Now there are two-dozen or more private space ventures around the world. There is a plan to capture and retrieve an asteroid for commercial purposes. Two companies want to mine the moon. One plans on landing a probe by the end of the year.

If we can just hold it together for a couple more decades, humanity might get off this rock, and we might do it in my lifetime.

But it's looking less and less likely to me.

As someone posted on Facebook, "They promised me that by now we would have colonies on the moon. What did we get instead?"

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We got an electorate that put Barack Obama in the Oval Office - twice - and then gave us a choice between Felonia von Pantsuit and The Big Cheeto.

I hate to say it, but the nation peaked in 1969, Viet Nam and all.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

I LOL'd. No, Seriously.


Interesting Data from the Trenches

While Form 4473 Background Checks are still at all-time highs, things seem to be shifting for firearms retailers and wholesalers out there. Dennis Badurina of Dragon Leatherworks owns a brick-and-mortar gun shop and reports on Facebook:
I've gotten more calls in the past two weeks by folks asking if I buy guns.

When they tell me what they are selling, and I give them a ballpark of what its worth to me, they start bitching about how much they paid, and my offer is an insult, blahblahblah...

Anyone tries to tell me that the gun industry isn't in freefall, they'll be told to go away. I don't give a rats ass about how many NICS checks are run in a given month, or gun show attendance, or other such meaningless bullshit.

Firearms industry is slowing exponentially, both manufacturers and distributors are dumping their inventory through sites like CDNN, Buds, Grab-a-Gun, etc., and folks can buy a brand-new gun for 30% less than they did last year on those same websites, and even last year those prices were low.

--

I had a customer come in and ask me to price out Wolf steel case ammo. I actually logged in to my dealer portal, he watched me put the stuff in the cart from my distributor, and saw what the ammo would cost as if I were buying it. I was going to simply have him pay me $10 over invoice, and he would WITNESS the fucking invoice being created.

He logged into SG Ammo, and the EXACT SAME FUCKING AMMO in the EXACT SAME FUCKING QUANTITY was $70 cheaper than what the distributor sells to the little mom-and-pop. He saw it with his own eyes.

The distributors are dumping inventory so as to not be left holding the bag on the long-term purchase agreements they have with the manufacturers. They entered those agreements because everyone was certain that Clinton was going to go skipping down Pennsylvania Ave. with 99% of the vote.

Now the distributors are sweating bullets (pun intended) because they bet on the wrong horse.
I sent that info to my local favorite Merchant O'Death and asked him if he was seeing similar things. His response:
That FFL is spot on.

We are buying more firearms right now (the "down season") than we have in the previous eight months. Usually the shop is damned near a morgue come summer time. We are turning people down more often than not when they bring stuff in for sale simply because we can't take another one of what they are trying to sell.
ARs are pretty much dead as are most of the other tacti-cool types of rifles

Several manufacturers have extended promos that were only supposed to last a couple months at the most by a further couple of months. S&W has a $75 dollar mail in rebate on M&P Shield pistols that has been going on since this spring and has been continued until September.

The FFL is also right about the election outcome. I have heard more than one person selling stuff to us remark that they don't need said firearms "cuz Hillary didn't win". Apparently the family vacation to the Free People's Democratic Republic of California is more important than hanging on to the firearms they already own.

Part of the problem with people bitching about low offers from dealers (at least in our experience) is that they are spending way too much time on the internet. When we make the offer, the response is often: " well, on the Internet it is going for [insert random amount of money here]). The other part of that is that they whine and snivel when we tell them we just can't but what they have because we are over stocked as it is. They whine some more and come up with some hard luck story about why they have to sell. We tell them again that we just can't do them any good. Then the same question is asked almost verbatim, almost every time: " can you offer me anything?".

That being said, we are selling quite a bit more than usual but it is largely used stuff. Anything remotely considered "collectible" disappears from the racks in short order. I am still amazed by the number of people coming in looking for Mosin Nagant 91/30s.

Nope. Nobody expected the election to go the way that it did.
Over at AR15.com the recommendation is "Stock up on ammo while it's cheap."

YMMV.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Automotif

Went to Tucson's version of Cars & Coffee this morning.  Here's some of what I saw.  First up, the unique:

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The rare:

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And the damned near unobtanium:

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And a personal "grail" car for me:

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I really have to try to get to the next one by 7AM.  By 9AM a lot of the cars had already left because the temperature was pushing 100°F. Good show anyway, though. I figure there were at least 125 cars there. Followed a C7 Vette into the parking lot with the license plate "HER401K". That was pretty amusing. Didn't see it long 'Vette Row though:

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Monday, June 26, 2017

A Tale of Two Cities

So, Seattle's minimum wage is now $13/hr.  What effect has that had?

According to one story, nothing bad:
The city of Seattle is in the process of gradually phasing in a $15-per-hour minimum wage: It has now reached $13 for workers at large companies and will move up to $15 in 2021 for all workers. As the wage rises, the city is providing a lot of data on the effects of the policy, and that data is continually proving helpful to activists as they work to raise the wage in other cities, states, and nationally (and embarrassing to the economists who sounded alarm bells about how damaging a living wage would be for the city).

One common critique of higher minimum wages is that they also raise the cost of living. But last year, an initial study from the University of Washington found that retailers, despite having to pay their workers more, weren’t raising prices. Another is that higher pay will lead to fewer shifts and fewer jobs. And while those same UW researchers are analyzing the data, other researchers at UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) used an innovative model to prove that the city’s increased minimum wage has had no negative effect on job availability.
According to another, nazzo fast, Guido:
In January 2016, Seattle’s minimum wage jumped from $11 an hour to $13 for large employers, the second big increase in less than a year. New research released Monday by a team of economists at the University of Washington suggests the wage hike may have come at a significant cost: The increase led to steep declines in employment for low-wage workers, and a drop in hours for those who kept their jobs. Crucially, the negative impact of lost jobs and hours more than offset the benefits of higher wages — on average, low-wage workers earned $125 per month less because of the higher wage, a small but significant decline.
$125/month is $1,500/year or about a 6% drop for a full-time minimum wage worker at $11/hr. Not to mention that "steep decline in employment for low-wage workers."

Which story do you believe? The one sourced out of a UC Berkeley report, or the one sourced out of a University of Washington report?

And how many jobs were lost due to closed businesses related to the minimum wage increase?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Your Moment of Zen - Seagoing Edition

Check out the work of photographer Ray Collins. For images like this, I'll forgive him the top-knot:

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Quote of the Day - Jay Hafemeister Edition

Responding on Facebook to this Redstate story about Seattle's firearm and ammunition tax neither improving revenue nor reducing gun violence in that city:
Gun Control isn't supposed to reduce crime. It's only supposed to reduce gun owners.
See also this.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

And Now for Something Completely Different ... GUNSTUFF

I've been collecting pieces for this for several months now. I bought the Encore frame back in 2008 right after The LightBringer™ was first elected to office, and I put a .260 Remington pistol barrel on it and took it to Boomershoot 2009. But I've been wanting an Ultra-Violent Rodentblaster for quite some time now, so when I stumbled across a sale on 26" .204 Ruger barrels for the Encore I snapped one up. A 26" barrel doesn't play well with a pistol grip, however, so I needed a rifle stock. And, of course, I needed glass, since this is a 300+ yard rifle.

I ordered a fixed 12x 42mm SWFA Super Sniper scope with the Mil-Quad reticle, a set of 30mm Burris Zee rings, a bubble level and Butler Creek flip-up caps, then I went hunting for a stock maker. I found Tony Gettel, and had him make me this custom thumbhole set to my dimensions out of fiddleback maple. The stock set arrived yesterday.

Not bad, huh?

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Now to build some ammo and get out to the range.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Friday, June 09, 2017

Quote of the Day - Daniel Greenfield Edition

Daniel Greenfield, Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, aka "Sultan Knish" has a piece up on Frontpage Mag entitled The Civil War is Here.  QotD:
We can have a system of government based around the Constitution with democratically elected representatives. Or we can have one based on the ideological principles of the left in which all laws and processes, including elections and the Constitution, are fig leaves for enforcing social justice.

But we cannot have both.

Some civil wars happen when a political conflict can’t be resolved at the political level. The really bad ones happen when an irresolvable political conflict combines with an irresolvable cultural conflict.

That is what we have now.

The left has made it clear that it will not accept the lawful authority of our system of government. It will not accept the outcome of elections. It will not accept these things because they are at odds with its ideology and because they represent the will of large portions of the country whom they despise.

The question is what comes next.
Yes it is.

RTWT.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Quote of the Day - Be Careful What You Wish For Edition

Third QotD from Hillary Versus America: Knowledge Is Power. Seriously, read the whole thing:
All of this points to a basic, obvious truth of contemporary American politics: the Republican coalition is going to lose. Republicans are clumsy with power; they can’t seem to hold it for long, or ever use it to achieve any vision that fundamentally opposes the Democrats’. Republicans have been fatally outmaneuvered, flanked, and divided. The key institutions, the high ground, belong to the Democrats. Therefore, the Republican base is not going to get what it wants. The Democrats may offer a few expedient compromises along the way, but the state is well and truly caught up in the engine of “progress.” The total transformation of American social and civic life to align with the Democratic vision of the common good is a foregone conclusion.

And this basic truth, in turn, points to another. It’s this second truth that has become my singular political concern in the last several years. And this truth is one that the left has studiously ignored, because if they admit it, they will have to let go of their beloved vision of the common good. The truth is this: the right is not going to accept the left’s victory. The left has treated politics like a game, like a matter of points and position, like a matter of scoring goals and blocking returns. It isn’t a game. There are neither rules nor referees. At its base, the Republican coalition is furious, outraged, boiling. They will not quit the field gracefully. We are not heading into the fourth quarter. We are heading into an explosion. We are heading into civil war.

Everyone who is paying attention to politics knows this, by the way. It’s just something we don’t speak of. But if we want to survive, this silence has to stop. Each side has reasons for staying quiet, but it’s the left’s reasons that matter most. The left remains quiet about the civil war we all know is coming … because they think they are going to win it.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Quote of the Day - America's Ruling Class Edition

Second QotD from Hillary Versus America: Knowledge Is Power, and it echoes Angelo Codevilla's "Ruling Class" thesis:
The reason the Democratic coalition’s Final Solution is nigh is that it was superbly incisive strategy on their part to capture the knowledge-management institutions of mass media and higher education. There can be no serious argument over whether they have captured these institutions, which is why I have only glossed over the evidence here. Everyone knows these institutions belong to the left. Everyone has known it for a long time. But there are implications of this capture that are not as clear to everyone.

First, the left’s capture of higher education, combined with our cultural tilt toward credentialism, means that the only people qualified to hold upper-level positions in the civil service bureaucracy are those who have spent thousands of hours earning those credentials — in institutions of higher education that already belong to the left. As a result, especially considering the Ivy League is the unofficial headquarters of the Democratic coalition, the upper reaches of power in American government are much easier to access for those who have deep roots within the Democratic coalition’s establishment. It was no accident that the 2004 presidential election was between two of Yale’s C-students, both of them members of its most elite fraternity.

Second, the left’s capture of mass media means that every issue, every controversy, and every candidate will be presented in a way that favors the Democratic coalition’s agenda. Even though it is well known in the Republican coalition that the media are compromised, the rhetorical power of “framing” issues remains formidable in the extreme. Even if every Republican ignored the media’s framing, the centrists and undecideds that finally decide every issue can still fall for it, and they do. By holding the high ground of these key institutions, the left has managed to advance its agenda, with a few minor setbacks, virtually without opposition, for more than a century.

One further aspect of the left’s domination of key institutions must be understood before moving on. That is: the Republican party is part of the Democratic coalition. The Republican base, the mass that forms the heart of the Republican coalition, when it is paying attention, has nothing but contempt for the Republican party leadership. It has been paying attention more and more often lately.

The leadership of the Republican party went to Andover and Yale, just like the leadership of the Democratic party. Thus, top Republicans and Democrats share the same general worldview, the same manners, the same values. There are differences, but, from the perspective of the Republican base at least, these are slight. For example, on foreign policy, both the Republican leadership and the Democratic leadership are interventionist and globalist. The difference is that the Republican party tends to favor a global community with the United States of America as its undisputed leader. The Democratic party favors a global community ruled by transnational corporations, non-governmental organizations, and bodies like the United Nations. It’s a difference of emphasis, not essence. And the Republican base knows it.
Drop by tomorrow for the next excerpt, or just go read the whole thing. Strongly recommended.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Quote of the Day - Higher Education Edition

The GeekWitha.45 sent me a link to a piece published two days before the 2016 election, Hillary Versus America: Knowledge Is Power which as readers of this blog I recommend you head over and read. I wish like hell I'd written it.

I'll get more than one QotD out of it, but in reference to other recent QotD's, this one jumped out at me:
From the Republican coalition’s perspective, the left’s dominance of the major media is repugnant. But far more worrisome, for those Republican-types who pay attention to these things, is the Democratic coalition’s dominance of higher education. That’s because higher education hates America, and everyone knows it.

When a college freshman starts attending classes, his general-education curriculum, in almost every school in the country that still has one, will have one over-arching theme: The United States of America Is Evil, and your Duty, once Higher Education has made you ready for it, is to Right the Wrongs of this country by dedicating yourself to Progress.

Many students tune this propaganda out, because, as is well-known, young people don’t go to college to learn. The agenda the left pushes in the university system goes right past many students. Nonetheless, the better students tend to pay attention. And every student who does pay attention is going to get this message.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Obviously, They Need to Spend More Money

According to this 2016 Baltimore Business Journal story:
The Baltimore City Public School System spent the fourth most per student during the 2014 fiscal year out of the 100 largest public school districts in the country, according to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The city's school district, which is the 38th largest elementary and secondary public school district in the country, spent $15,564 per pupil during the time frame. Maryland has four of the 10 highest per pupil spending public school districts, with Howard County Schools rounding out the top five with a per pupil spending of $15,358.

--

Maryland came in at 11th out of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C., in average per pupil spending across the state at $14,003. New York spend the highest per pupil at $20,610 and Washington, D.C., was second at $18,485.

Utah had the lowest per pupil spending at $6,500.
This source provides this chart:

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So it would appear, dollar-wise, that Baltimore schools are sufficiently funded. 

And yet:
6 Baltimore schools, no students proficient in state tests

A Project Baltimore investigation has found five Baltimore City high schools and one middle school do not have a single student proficient in the state tested subjects of math and English.
Does the article blame lack of spending? No:
We sat down with a teen who attends one of those schools and has overcome incredible challenges to find success.

Navon Warren grew up in West Baltimore. He was three months old when his father was shot to death. Before his 18th birthday, he would lose two uncles and a classmate, all gunned down on the streets of Baltimore.

--

Despite his tremendous loss, Warren is set to graduate this year from Frederick Douglass High School. It’s a school where only half the students graduate and just a few dozen will go to college. Last year, not one student scored proficient in any state testing.
(Italics my emphasis.) Hey, he put in his time, give him a diploma! He can't read or do math to the level of a high-school graduate, but what does that matter?

But wait! It gets better!
High school students are tested by the state in math and English. Their scores place them in one of five categories – a four or five is considered proficient and one through three are not. At Frederick Douglass, 185 students took the state math test last year and 89 percent fell into the lowest level. Just one student approached expectations and scored a three.

Despite the challenges at his school, Warren found a path to higher education. He’s the reigning Baltimore City 50 and 100 freestyle champion who competed at the junior Olympics, finishing in fourth place. In the fall, he will leave the streets of Baltimore and head to Bethany College in West Virginia, where he will swim.
(Again, italics my emphasis.) So this kid, completely unprepared for college, will travel to West Virginia on a swimming scholarship (which won't cover everything, you can bet) and will rack up a year or three of student loans before dropping out because he can't do math or read at a high school level.

And he obviously isn't alone.

UPDATE:  6/3 - Instapundit steals my schtick.

Quote of the Day - Sarah A. Hoyt Edition

Common core is trying to do to math what whole word did to reading. They found that fast readers read "whole word" instead of sounding out, so they thought that everyone should just cut to reading "whole word." Of course, the problem was that fast readers had done the work to get there. Just treating English as a pictographic language, simply left the kids unable to read NEW words (and none to good with the old, because the word shapes aren't distinctive enough.)

Common core tries to take the little tricks that people who love math do in their head (because we got bored and worked it out in our heads when we didn't have anything to read) and reverse engineer them, so everyone does these math tricks. The problem is if you haven't done the work to internalize these tricks, you're actually just doing three times the work and never learning the simplest route to the solution.

This is exactly like realizing people who own homes are more stable financially and tend to be more prudent, etc, and deciding the remedy is to make it possible for everyone, no matter how addled, to own a home. It's taking the virtue required to do something, and thinking it accrues automagically if you do the thing.

It's one of current leftists' most persistent and pernicious illusions. They consistently put the cart ahead of the horse.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Quote of the Day - Malcolm Muggeridge Edition

In keeping with the light and uplifting QotDs I post here*, another:
So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over--a weary, battered old brontosaurus--and became extinct.

Malcolm Muggeridge, Vintage Muggeridge: Religion and Society

(*j/k)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Quote of the Day - Jerry Pournelle Edition

We have always known that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. It's worse now, because capture of government is so much more important than it once was. There was a time when there was enough freedom that it hardly mattered which brand of crooks ran government. That has not been true for a long time — not during most of your lifetimes, and for much of mine — and it will probably never be true again.
We voted our way into this.

We won't be voting our way out of it.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The New Soviet Genderless Person

Warning:  Überpost.  I don't know how big this thing's gonna get, but it woke me up at 4AM insisting that I write it.  It is, however, a rehashing of ideas and observations previously made here leavened with some new supporting links, so if you think you've read it all before, you probably have.  At least most of it.  After fourteen years of blogging, "new" is hard to come by.

According to Wikipedia:
The New Soviet man or New Soviet person ... as postulated by the ideologists of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, was an archetype of a person with certain qualities that were said to be emerging as dominant among all citizens of the Soviet Union, irrespective of the country's cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity, creating a single Soviet people, Soviet nation.
And they give an example of the idea via Leon Trotsky:
Man will make it his purpose to master his own feelings, to raise his instincts to the heights of consciousness, to make them transparent, to extend the wires of his will into hidden recesses, and thereby to raise himself to a new plane, to create a higher social biologic type, or, if you please, a superman.
If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you'll note that this concept was not original to Communism. Thomas Sowell in his seminal work, A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles (which I covered in a previous überpost) discussed William Godwin and his book An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice dating back to 1793 and the French Revolution:
Where in Adam Smith moral and socially beneficial behavior could be evoked from man only by incentives, in William Godwin man's understanding and disposition were capable of intentionally creating social benefits. Godwin regarded the intention to benefit others as being "of the essence of virtue," and virtue in turn as being the road to human happiness. Unintentional social benefits were treated by Godwin as scarcely worthy of notice. His was the unconstrained vision of human nature, in which man was capable of directly feeling other people's needs as more important than his own, and therefore of consistently acting impartially, even when is own interests or those of his family were involved. This was not meant as an empirical generalization about the way most people currently behaved. It was meant as a statement of the underlying nature of human potential. ... Godwin referred to "men as they hereafter may be made," in contrast to Burke's view: "We cannot change the Nature of things and of men - but must act upon them the best we can."
If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you'll know which side of this argument I believe to be the accurate one.  See Kipling's The Gods of the Copybook Headings.

Throughout history, one thing sticks out:  No civilization, no society, no political body survives forever.  The causes for this vary - war, resource exhaustion, internal revolution, etc. - but nothing lasts.  However, as Robert Heinlein wrote, the worst thing about living in the declining era of a great civilization is knowing that you are.

I first came across the phrase "Cold Civil War" in 2005 in a post at The Belmont Club linking to a Syrian blog Amarji and a post titled "A Cold Civil War!"  The author of that blog seems prescient now:
While neocons and liberals, or however one categorizes one at this stage, argue over wagging dogs and other fine assortments of beasts and monsters, and while the debate over the merits of real politick vs. salvation politics rages on, there are parts of the world that are going to hell in a hand-basket, reflecting the new cold war climate created by this internal debate. It looks as if America is having a nice cold civil war by proxy over its own identity and future.

The ideological components of this war might be taking place in the halls of academia and the congress and through US and international media, but the physical aspect is taking place in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, etc. Each camp here is producing, wittingly and unwittingly, its own allies there, both ideological and tactical. And like in all proxy wars, these allies are quite capable of furthering their own particularistic agendas by stoking the debate here.

The point:

Well, despite the seemingly irresolvable challenge that a presence like the Syrian regime seems to pose, in truth, solutions can actually be found. But first, this new American civil war, no matter how cold it happens to be at this stage, has to come to an end. Otherwise the war on terror can never be won and Iraq will be followed by Syria, then Lebanon then Sudan, then Saudi Arabia, then… You get the point.
The "Cold Civil War" concept has since spread. Do a Google search on the phrase. In 2012, just before the November election Michael Walsh at PJ Media wrote:
Now we are engaged in a great Cold Civil War. But the decision American voters will make in November is far more than merely an ideological clash about what the Constitution meant or means. For that supposes that both sides are playing by the same rules, and have a shared interest in the outcome. That presumes that both sides accept the foundational idea of the American experiment, and that the argument is over how best to adhere to it.

That is false.

For some, this is a difficult notion to grasp. To them, politics is politics, the same game being played by the same rules that go back a couple of centuries. The idea that one party -- and you know which one I mean -- is actively working against its own country as it was founded seems unbelievable.

But that is true.

Don't take it from me, take it from Barack Hussein Obama who famously said on the stump in 2008: "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America."
Peter Robinson, in one of his many interviews of Thomas Sowell for Uncommon Knowledge asked in 2014:
How’s my generation’s project of holding on to liberty coming along?

Thomas Sowell
: Not well. One of the reasons I’m glad to be as old as I am is that it means I may be spared seeing what’s going to happen to this country, either internally or as the result of international complications.

Robinson: You think that America’s greatest days are gone? Full stop? That it’s irreversible?

Sowell: Nothing is irreversible. But I think that we’re like a team that is coming to bat in the bottom of the ninth, five runs behind. We can win it, but this is not… I wouldn’t bet the rent money on it.

Robinson: Last question. What would you say – talking about Milton (Friedman) talking to my generation – what would you say to the next generation, to your grandchildren’s generation about the America for which they should be preparing themselves?

Sowell: Since I don’t know what that America is going to be, I don’t want to say anything to them. By the time they get here I think the issue will have been settled one way or the other.

Robinson: By then it will be irreversible.

Sowell: Either we will have pulled out of the dive, as it were, or else it will be all over.
I'm on the record stating that the 2012 re-election of Barack Obama convinced me that the country could not save itself.  We'd passed the point of no return.
 
In April of this year Angelo Codevilla, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University published another very important essay titled The Cold Civil War.  Previously he had written America's Ruling Class and the Perils of Revolution, from which I took several Quotes of the Day and got an essay or two back in 2010.  Read that, if you haven't, before you read The Cold Civil War.

I have ruminated on the idea of a second Civil War (or a second American Revolution) since the inception of this blog - Pressing the "Reset" Button, But What if Your Loyalty is to the Constitution?, While Evils are Sufferable, Freedom's Just Another Word for "Nothin' Left to Lose", Confidence, Part III, and most recently Pressing the "Fuck It" Button, just to list a few.  My take on the question has been that there's too much apathy and ignorance in the general population to support an all-out "hot" war, but that - should things really go pear-shaped - we're going to get "asymmetrical warfare" like we're seeing in the Middle East right now.  As I've said, we didn't buy those millions of firearms and billions of rounds of ammunition in anticipation of handing them inOur "austerity riots" are going to be spectacular.

Here in the U.S. the problem is - once again - human nature and Sowell's conflict of visions.  In America's Ruling Class Codevilla identifies the schism:
Never has there been so little diversity within America’s upper crust. Always, in America as elsewhere, some people have been wealthier and more powerful than others. But until our own time America’s upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter. The Boston Brahmins, the New York financiers, the land barons of California, Texas, and Florida, the industrialists of Pittsburgh, the Southern aristocracy, and the hardscrabble politicians who made it big in Chicago or Memphis had little contact with one another. Few had much contact with government, and “bureaucrat” was a dirty word for all. So was “social engineering.” Nor had the schools and universities that formed yesterday’s upper crust imposed a single orthodoxy about the origins of man, about American history, and about how America should be governed. All that has changed.

Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters — speaking the “in” language — serves as a badge of identity. Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct. Many began their careers in government and leveraged their way into the private sector. Some, e.g., Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, never held a non-government job. Hence whether formally in government, out of it, or halfway, America’s ruling class speaks the language and has the tastes, habits, and tools of bureaucrats. It rules uneasily over the majority of Americans not oriented to government.

The two classes have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century’s Northerners and Southerners — nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, “prayed to the same God.” By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God “who created and doth sustain us,” our ruling class prays to itself as “saviors of the planet” and improvers of humanity. Our classes’ clash is over “whose country” America is, over what way of life will prevail, over who is to defer to whom about what. The gravity of such divisions points us, as it did Lincoln, to Mark’s Gospel: “if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
“Saviors of the planet and improvers of humanity." The unending quest to build the New Soviet Person.

In a speech he gave some time back Bill Whittle explained the Three Legs of Liberal Philosophy, the third leg of which was "Let us help you!"
Let us help you.

Let us help you!

You need health care? Fantastic! Let us help you.

You need job training? Let us help you. You need unemployment insurance? Let us help you!

Let us help you, let us help you! What's wrong with these Republicans and Conservatives? We just want to help you. Why won't you let us help you? All we want is all of your money and all of your freedom, we'll help you all you want!
A little later on he explained the three legs of Conservative Philosophy, one of which was "Leave Me Alone."
Raise your hands out there if you're the kind of person who likes to be left alone. Most of them do. Now raise your hand if you're the kind of person who likes to tell other people what to do.

Now some people really do want to tell other people what to do, but I'll tell you one thing about young people, there's not a twenty year-old college student - not one - who will raise their hand in a group of their other fellows and say "Yes, I want to tell other people what to do!"

That's a really uncool thing, man. It's really uncool to tell other people what to do. So they won't do it.

So you say, "OK, you want to be left alone?" "Yeah." "I do too. I want to be left alone too."

Most of the time I want to be left alone. That means, if I want to start a business, leave me alone. If I want to go into a lemonade stand, leave me alone. If I want to be skateboarding, leave me alone.

We're the party that says "Leave us alone." We're the party that says "Let us do what we want to do, let us keep what we make." We're the party that's about being left alone. They're the guys trying to tell you that you can't have a big Big Gulp. They're the guys telling you how warm your house has to be. They're the guys telling you what kind of car you have to drive. They're the guys telling you what kind of things you have to wear, what you have to do, who you have to be, and who you have to hang out with.
But I have a bone to pick with Bill here, and that excerpt from Codevilla's essay above illustrates it. Robert Heinlein put it more pithily:
The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.
Frank Herbert expressed it in Chapterhouse: Dune thus:
All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.
With apologies to Bill and Michael Walsh, the Ruling Class is both parties, and they all want to tell us what to do.  That's why they end up in government.  Daniel Webster back at the beginning of  the 19th Century observed:
Good intentions will always be pleaded for any assumption of power. The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.
And in today's world the subversion of the Constitution is justified because they're the saviors of the planet and improvers of humanity.  They know better.  They need to reconstruct humanity.  They want to "fix our souls."  They want to use the Rule of Law to bring "human redemption."

Terry Pratchett has an appropriate quote. From Night Watch:
There were plotters, there was no doubt about it. Some had been ordinary people who'd had enough. Some were young people with no money who objected to the fact that the world was run by old people who were rich. Some were in it to get girls. And some had been idiots as mad as Swing, with a view of the world just as rigid and unreal, who were on the side of what they called "The People." Vimes had spent his life on the streets and had met decent men, and fools, and people who'd steal a penny from a blind beggar, and people who performed silent miracles or desperate crimes every day behind the grubby windows of little houses, but he'd never met The People.

People on the side of The People always ended up disappointed in any case. They found that The People tended not to be grateful or appreciative or forward-thinking or obedient. The People tended to be small minded and conservative and not very clever and were even distrustful of cleverness. And so, the children of the revolution were faced with the age-old problem: it wasn't that you had the wrong kind of government, which was obvious, but that you had the wrong kind of people.

As soon as you saw people as things to be measured, they didn't measure up.
But, per William Godwin, they mean well and that's what matters.  Ignore the piles of human bones!

Founding libertarian Isabel Paterson in her 1943 book The God of the Machine wrote:
Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends.

This is demonstrably true; nor could it occur otherwise. The percentage of positively malignant, vicious, or depraved persons is necessarily small, for no species could survive if its members were habitually and consciously bent upon injuring one another. Destruction is so easy that even a minority of persistently evil intent could shortly exterminate the unsuspecting majority of well-disposed persons. Murder, theft, rapine, and destruction are easily within the power of every individual at any time. If it is presumed that they are restrained only by fear or force, what is it they fear, or who would turn the force against them if all men were of like mind?

Certainly if the harm done by willful criminals were to be computed, the number of murders, the extent of damage and loss, would be found negligible in the sum total of death and devastation wrought upon human beings by their kind. Therefore it is obvious that in periods when millions are slaughtered, when torture is practiced, starvation enforced, oppression made a policy, as at present over a large part of the world, and as it has often been in the past, it must be at the behest of very many good people, and even by their direct action, for what they consider a worthy object. When they are not the immediate executants, they are on record as giving approval, elaborating justifications, or else cloaking facts with silence, and discountenancing discussion.
Rush Limbaugh was vilified for stating, after Obama won the Presidency the first time, "I hope he fails." Right now we're watching the Ruling Class and its enablers in the media do absolutely everything they can to pull off a coup d'état because the man who won the White House this go-around isn't one of them.  He's not one of the New Genderless Persons who mean to Do Good, who Care About You, who just want to help.

Codevilla from Cold Civil War:
America is in the throes of revolution. The 2016 election and its aftermath reflect the distinction, difference, even enmity that has grown exponentially over the past quarter century between America’s ruling class and the rest of the country. During the Civil War, President Lincoln observed that all sides “pray[ed] to the same God.” They revered, though in clashing ways, the same founders and principles. None doubted that those on the other side were responsible human beings. Today, none of that holds. Our ruling class and their clients broadly view Biblical religion as the foundation of all that is wrong with the world. According to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy, or any form of intolerance.”

The government apparatus identifies with the ruling class’s interests, proclivities, and tastes, and almost unanimously with the Democratic Party. As it uses government power to press those interests, proclivities, and tastes upon the ruled, it acts as a partisan state. This party state’s political objective is to delegitimize not so much the politicians who champion the ruled from time to time, but the ruled themselves. Ever since Woodrow Wilson nearly a century and a half ago at Princeton, colleges have taught that ordinary Americans are rightly ruled by experts because they are incapable of governing themselves. Millions of graduates have identified themselves as the personifiers of expertise and believe themselves entitled to rule. Their practical definition of discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, etc., is neither more nor less than anyone’s reluctance to bow to them. It’s personal.

On the other side, some two thirds of regular Americans chafe at insults from on high and believe that “the system” is rigged against them and, hence, illegitimate—that elected and appointed officials, plus the courts, business leaders, and educators are leading the country in the wrong direction. The non-elites blame the elites for corruptly ruling us against our will, for impoverishing us, for getting us into wars and losing them. Many demand payback—with interest.

So many on all sides have withdrawn consent from one another, as well as from republicanism as defined by the Constitution and as it was practiced until the mid-20th century, that it is difficult to imagine how the trust and sympathy necessary for good government might ever return. Instead, we have a cold civil war. Statesmanship’s first task is to prevent it from turning hot.
One would hope.

Statesmanship, however, seems to be pretty much absent these days, replaced with overbearing arrogance - "Shut up" they explain.
Well-nigh the entire ruling class—government bureaucracies, the judiciary, academia, media, associated client groups, Democratic officials, and Democrat-controlled jurisdictions—have joined in “Resistance” to the 2016 elections: “You did not win this election,” declared Tom Perez recently, the Democratic National Committee’s chairman. This is not about Donald Trump’s alleged character defects. The Resistance would have arisen against whoever represented Americans who had voted not to be governed as they have been for the past quarter-century. It is a cold civil war against a majority of the American people and their way of life. The members of the Resistance mean to defend their power. Their practical objective is to hamper and otherwise delegitimize 2016’s winners. Their political objective is to browbeat Trump voters into believing they should repent and yield to their betters. This campaign might break the Trump presidency.

In the meantime, however, it exacerbates the spirit of discontent in the land. In 2016 the electorate, following the pattern it had set in 2010 and 2014 (and even in 2012, except for the presidential election), voted Republican to show its desire to reduce government’s intrusion in American life, to get out from under the ruling class’s socio-economic agenda and political correctness.
"Leave us alone!"
But the Republican leadership did not and does not share the electorate’s concerns. Cycle after cycle, Americans who vote to “throw the rascals out” get ever more unaccountable rules piled on by the same unelected bureaucrats; and even modest attempts to hold back capillary intrusion into their lives get invalidated by the same judges. They come to believe that the system is rigged. In short, they want to drain the swamp.

Yet such revolutionary sentiments do not amount to a coherent program to reverse the past century’s course. Donald Trump’s promises with regard to the swamp and to restoring America’s greatness would be extraordinarily difficult to keep even were they matched with due understanding and forceful execution. But the ruling class is so big, so pervasive, and so committed to its ideas, that sidelining it, and even more so, undoing its work, would require at least matching its power, pretensions, and vehemence. In other words, it would take raising the temperature of our cold civil war’s right side to match or overmatch the temperature of its left side. Statesmanship’s task, however, is to maximize peace, not strife.

American society has divided along unreconcilable visions of the good, held by countrymen who increasingly regard each other as enemies. Any attempt by either side to coerce the other into submission augurs only the fate that has befallen other peoples who let themselves slide into revolution.
There's that "conflict of visions" again. As David Horowitz observed:
(I)f you believe that social institutions can change things by getting enough power, then when you look at your opponents, who are the people who are not going along with the program? You see yourself as the army of the Saints. Who are they? They are, YOU are the party of Satan!
And there's no Statesmanship in the world that can overcome religious fervor.
It follows that the path to peace must lie in each side’s contentment to have its own way—but only among those who consent to it. This implies limiting the U.S. government’s reach to what it can grasp without wrecking what remains of our national cohesion.
That is what the Ruling Class will not allow. Power, once seized, is never yielded easily, and the Ruling Class sees itself as being made up of New Persons who are bringing us, the Great Unwashed, kicking and screaming if necessary, into their Utopia.

And all Utopias are just one mass-murder away from being achieved.

Always.