Tuesday, June 30, 2009



We are now told by the AP that “American adults from young to old disagree increasingly today on social values, ranging from religion to relationships, creating the largest generation gap since divisions 40 years ago over Vietnam, civil rights, and women’s liberation”.

Let’s leave the last clause alone for the moment; to have a serious conversation much would depend on how one defines “Vietnam” and “civil rights” (affirmative action was something not originally encompassed by public support for civil rights) and “women’s liberation” (abortion, abortion on demand promised much uproar from the get-go, but gender wars and the deconstructionist assault on morality itself were not originally part of the package).

The Pew Research Center was inspired to conduct the survey after noticing that 18-29 year-olds voted for Obama by a ratio of 2-1. I hope We aren’t going to make the same mistakes the adults facing the Boomer kids made: oh well, if the kids are for it, then it must be good. That bit of feckless surrender by the adults of that day constituted an opening act to a lethal melodrama that is still playing today.

Of course, ‘youth’ and ‘revolution’ were in the air, as it were. All those postwar babies suddenly coming to (chronological) maturity all at once, the Established adults having gotten the country into a baad war that they were in danger of losing, and it didn’t seem - as it never does to kids – like anything their adults had decided to do was actually doing any good.

And it didn’t help that the now-desperate Dems decided that ‘the kids’ (meaning not the same thing as this era’s ‘the children’) were a nice plump demographic looking to be plucked for the Party. So the Party went with ‘the kids’, and all the incoherent idealism that could survive being baked into a pie full of change – change immediate and without any bad consequences.

That was before the ideological feminist cadres – disciplined and, unlike the barefoot hippies, most sensibly shod – co-opted all the great revolutionary playbooks of the century and mounted a sustained, comprehensive, and in-depth assault on everything that stood in the way of their utter and constitutional right to be as free as ‘guys’. And since what they wanted – as best anyone could make out – was so contrary to much of what Western civilization and civilization generally had taken as ‘reality’ for centuries if not millennia, then it was just about everything vital and fundamental in matters civilizational that the feminist cadres declared to be the enemy.

The curious thing is that at this point, forty Biblical years later, their dogged and clever revolutions are still highly contested. Let’s face it, 40 years after 1787, 1789, 1917, and 1949 those revolutions were not daily affronted with wide and deed popular doubt and dissatisfaction. (That 1933 ‘thousand year’ revolution didn’t last long enough to be measured on this scale.)

They were embraced by the Beltway pols and the media ‘elites’ on the heady assumption that the Boomer generation would sweep all before it. That dizzy Bubble was reinforced by the expectation that the power of the government, the media, and all the other of the national ‘elites’ – thrown into the scales on the side of Boomer visions of perfection – would create an unstoppable synergy that would overwhelm the older folk and thoroughly indoctrinate the future younger folk as they grew up.

But here We are, forty years later, and not only have the revolutions not-become the nation’s standard accepted ‘reality’, but the bad but hardly unforseeable consequences of their frothy incoherence are now becoming clear and impossible to ‘spin away’.

The revolutions chose to make their Long March through the institutions – the universities (where the deconstructionist binge got its start), the federal bureaucracy, but most importantly the Beltway itself, where the pols were eager to trade in their Vietnam wave for one that actually promised to carry them on its crest to the true Island of Perfection and Delight. That Long March was cleverly and shrewdly handled. Many useful synergies were catalyzed and things began to feed off one another, all to the greater glory of the revolution.

But they failed to actually convince – not to put too fine a point on it – folks. As in people, as in other citizens, as inThe People.

Well, maybe this was not so much a failure as it was an oversight. They really weren’t trying to convince people. The masses – as any good revolutionary cadre could have said – were leaderless lumps that needed to be led; those myriads who didn’t get it would be led by those few who did get it. The strategic expectation was that once the institutions were forced to submit, then the lumps would follow for lack of any other direction.

The thought that individual human beings, and that human beings with some genuine if incomplete claim upon human maturity, would resist the revolutions … that thought never crossed the minds of the revolutionary cadres, male or female … or female-identified male, or formerly male-identified females. Or what-have-you.

Forty years later and here We are, still in one piece, though apparently losing altitude and unsure of the course and heading. And rather brutally short of fuel.

History is not only not-dead, but it is full or irony. And for many must now seem to be not only not-dead, but frankly undead. But anybody who ever watched B-movies about witless kids cavorting in cemeteries at midnight or summer-camps in the middle of the day could have warned that History and Life have ways of waiting in the tall grass, and coming back to exact their revenge for the insults heaped upon them. But even when his own donkey stopped in the road and started talking in complete sentences, Balaam still didn’t get it. Though none of the cadres bothered with the story of Balaam, since they had declared that they did indeed get it, and anyway Biblical stories were just stories. Only their own ‘stories’ were actually valid, were actually worthy of being called Narrative. So they assumed.

But resistance, though not hugely organized, has remained steady and strong. And can you say ‘Iraq War’?

And here We all are.

There is not so much reason for consolation as you might think.

Generations of the young have now grown up in the cadres’ Flattened world. There is no Beyond – because no revolution will accept its being liable to any definitive and decisive judgment from a power or authority beyond itself. In this, the revolutions and the government-controlled State were sisters (as it were) under the skin. Leftist and Rightist, sisters under the skin.

I think the Framers must have imagined that one of the major supports of their Constitutional machinery was a Citizenry that was not only acknowledged as the source of all governmental authority, but was indeed a Citizenry each of whose members dwelt in the Presence of some Beyond. A Beyond that not only judged them, but also nurtured them, as they would then judge and nurture their Constitutional government.

This shrewd blather about politics being public and religion being private – so useful in trying to shoehorn space for abortion and all the assorted ‘lifestyles’ of the revolutions – was just that: blather. The Constitutional vision presumed some sort of support for The People stemming from their own personal experience of the Beyond. That, more than any political maneuvering, would ground them in an independence of spirit and thought that would let them, the Citizens, ‘judge’ their government.

Now what happens to the Constitutional vision when generations have been raised with no working experience of the Beyond at all? For all the vitality and energy and even idealism that youth commands, what will Ground them? What will Shape them?

America is truly, once again, a wilderness – and far more so than it ever was before. Youthful vitality and idealism, un-Shaped, un-Boundaried, un-Grounded, will create a jungle, not a Garden. And while jungles have a certain charm all their own, and are – for the intrepid – nice places to visit, very few would want to live there. Or could.

Unballasted so that it cannot ride deep in the water, dismasted so that it cannot reach up into the wind with sails for motive power, with therefore a rudder that is of no use, and with all charts and even the compass thrown overboard as ‘quaint’ … Our societal ship scuds along, moved by wind and wave in whatever direction they will push and not under any control of Ours, queasily sliding along the surface of a bottomless and now-trackless sea of Time.

Until such time as the ship runs aground, or founders and rolls over, or is overtaken by another vessel very much under human control and boarded. Say what you will about the Pilgrims, but at least they got themselves somewhere in one piece.

Myself, I worry about all these young. For the past forty years at least We have been in freefall, and the cadres witlessly or cynically assured Us that this was liberation, assuming that since nothing was really ‘real’, then if they could only convince Us to believe they wielded the Secret of Fulfillment all would yet be well; because in a world where nothing is on the level, it’s only a matter of how you hold your head.

It was far more a loaf of freakish and sleazy baloney than anyone has wanted to think about. But, like the Japanese citizenry who began to experience B-29s over their very heads after years of a war they had been told they were winning gloriously, now Our turn has come: nothing works anymore, not even the most essential elements of the Founding Vision upon which – up until recently – the American political Identity was based.

Cast loose from any fear of ‘judgment’, the Branches of the government and the assorted ‘elites’ and all the hangers-on that are parasitically attracted to unbridled wealth and power, have been carousing in the Beltway in a most comprehensive imitation of Imperial Rome during the last century of its existence.

Only the most sustained and well-Grounded and well-Shaped and well-Aimed seriousness can save Us now. And those are not something that youth is known for; because it is not something youth has had the time, or the will, to yet achieve. And without such seriousness on the part of those with more experience, how will enough of a world and a culture and a society and a civilization remain in place to nurture their growing-up?

It’s not enough that there be a ‘government’ or ‘elites’. Rome of the fourth century A.D. had a government – such as it was – and ‘elites’ by the bucketful, but it had lost the much deeper sources of its Identity. And became a heavily-rouged, dying thing, going through the motions of life until History sent others to put it out of its misery; its estate was broken up and taken by others.

Romans – alas – presumed they were ‘Romans’ just because there was a government there in Rome and they belonged to it; hence they were ‘Romans’. But that isn’t how the American vision saw it: Americans were Americans because of their shared vision, goals, beliefs, assumptions, lifeways – all of which constituted an Identity. They then erected a Constitutional government that was ‘American’ because The People that raised it up, its Citizens, were Americans.

Identity Politics, like the revolutions that created it, wanted to do too much too soon. It was, like the revolutions that created it, cocky, arrogant, self-assured, impatient, and far too willing to tolerate ‘collateral damage’.

But ‘collateral damage’ is a term that migrated from military affairs, and in this case the migration did not serve its masters well. When you are inflicting casualties on others, then you may well find it simple enough to ‘accept collateral damage’ on those others.

But when you are at sea, and ripping the structural supports out of your own vessel, then the ‘collateral damage’ consequent upon your remodeling is not going to be inflicted upon ‘others’, but rather upon yourself. If you pull the supports out of your hull, it’s you that will suffer the consequences – intended or unintended, foreseen or unforeseen – of your actions.

So Madeleine Albright’s breezy if jowly assertion that half a million dead Iraqi children would be “an acceptable price to pay” – delivered in the accents, though hardly the spirit, of Lincoln – set Us a reely reely baaaad example. We actually thought that willingness to let other people – and children at that – die by the hundreds of thousands was a sign of seriousness and maturity. That her statement was proof positive that the Clintons and the Dems and ‘women’ had ‘arrived’: they could be as macho as guys, like Rambo and Lincoln.

Bush the Second, that egregious frak, tried to run the same play. Welcome to Fright Night – for real (to quote that film’s famous line).

And the consequences came back upon Us.

Where it belongs. We, after all, are the masters of the government. That We choose not to control Our government is no more a defense than the owner of an attack dog who chooses not to keep it on a short leash in a crowded park.

But there are now cohort after cohort of Our young who cannot comprehend the strength required of a truly independent Citizenry: that they must first remain independent of their government, in order to judge and control it.

Interestingly, there is a great – and legitimate – brouhaha over pols and public officials who solicit or take – how to put it nicely? – ‘improper emoluments’. But We Ourselves have become quite used to taking bribes from the government – delicately described as ‘entitlements’ or what-have-you – to ensure Our cooperation in whatever schemes it comes up with.

So much so that for many now the only question is What’s in it for me? Or: What’s in it for us? (however that term is populated). Iraq would be invaded and We would get the rush of feeling that something good had been done for democracy – and maybe there would be a lot of cheaper oil … and that lulled a lot of folks into agreeing respectfully or eagerly.

The kids have a lot to learn. And We have to teach it to them. Even if We first have to re-learn it Ourselves.

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Friday, June 26, 2009



The President wants lawmakers to make immigration a priority.

That’s a good idea.

Although We now have so many problems facing Us that even if he came up with a good idea for each of them (and don’t forget that some of them are interconnected, ‘synergistically related’ as the wonks like to say)the Hononrable Congress is going to have a time thinking its way through them. Especially since the standard operating procedure on the Hill for a couple-three decades is simply to sit back, see which PAC contributes the most or which Identity threatens the most, and go where Greed and Fear lead you. It’s not the height of maturity – but in a ‘sensitive’ America who wants to hate-on them or ruin their self-esteem (if it’s even possible to dent the self-esteem of a sitting national politician).

“It’s going to require some heavy lifting” he says. Marvelous. When was the last time they were told that in the Beltway? The only heavy lifting they’ve had to do is shaking hands and collecting checks from PACs and pandering to too-interested lobbies and advocacies of pained and noisy Identities.

The whole idea thirty-plus years ago was that they would never have to do any heavy-lifting again. They made a stint in Congress into a classier equivalent of the old ethnic ‘getting on the city’ gambit, where the award of a city job for services-rendered to a pol or simply by being an annoying but essential in-law of his meant that one would never have to really work again. It’s very heaven, in a flat-souled, porcine way.

Thus the Dems retained their electability by raising up Identities around this or that ‘fear and outrage’, and then granting the advocacies and lobbies for those blocs whatever they ‘demanded’; while simultaneously raking in the cash from the PACs that Tip O’Neill had invented specifically for the purpose: corporations, lobbyists, hell even foreign countries (that bumptious ‘ally’ on the far shore of the Mediterranean) could get in on the act if they were willing to pay to play. The Reagan-Clinton-Bush the Lesser years made the two administrations of Ulysses Grant look like a church picnic for the hopelessly imagination-challenged.

But then, courtesy of all the deconstruction work going on, there were no challenges to the imagination: nothing could stop a fantasy fueled by greed or the lust for power and influence and control. There was no ‘morality’ (that had to go in order to grease the skids for the abortion agenda); nobody could ‘judge’ you (that had to go in order to make room for all the alternative and ‘creative’ lifestyles and life-choices); nobody could say they disapproved of you even if they did judge you (that had to go in order to squelch public resistance to all the new pandered demands); nobody – frankly – could tell you what to do with your own life (that had to go in order to make room for abortion, but the concept migrated quickly to issues dearer to the place-holders on the Hill: they couldn’t be ‘judged’ for cementing themselves into place in their Districts).

Nor, having paid, did any of the players really want to see whole new bunches of Honorable Electees trooping into town, who would have to be paid and broken-in all over again.

If the honorable generals and admirals made robust use of the Pentagon revolving door, their erstwhile bosses on the Hill entrenched and fortified for a permanent occupation. Perhaps the most expensive political boondoggle facility isn’t in the Green Zone in Baghdad, but somewhat closer to home.

So what about immigration then?

I have no answers.

But it seems to me that We should start approaching these little political matters not as soap-operas but as police procedurals. Nor do I mean such high-production-value but egregiously phantasmagoric shows like Bellisario’s pair about the JAGs and the so Freudianly-aptly named Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

No. I’m thinking more along the lines – let me date myself – of ‘Hawaii 5-0’, ‘Kojak’, and ‘Columbo’. And with a hefty dose of Darren McGavin’s ‘Night Stalker’ as well. In other words, turning a gimlet eye on the ‘narrative’ that ‘it’s all good and there’s nothing to see here’, and start kicking those tires so you can answer accurately the basic question of who would benefit and who had opportunity, all the while deftly sidestepping all of the assorted stories, press releases, and fake evidence planted in your path by party or parties as yet unknown.

So in this immigration thing – again, I have no answers nor pretend to – I would say that any professional lists of those-with-motive would have to include the following:

The Democrats, who would benefit by bringing in fresh new voters who would be either so grateful to be here, or so unaware of how things used to work in this country, or so used to how things used to work in their own countries of origin, that they would simply vote happily for them what brung’em to the dance.

The radical ideological feminist movement, who would hasten the death of that ‘America’ associated with and tainted by ‘white, industrial-era males’ and all their dripping violence and lumpen macho rationality, by bringing in whole bunches of folks who – being ‘poor’ and ‘oppressed’ (somehow) and therefore ‘good’ - would before long cancel out the hateful white, industrial-era male dinosaurs, their world and their civilization, with all its oppressive adulthood, maturity, and aspiration – however shaky – to some amount of virtue.

The radical ideological feminist movement, who would allay the fears of scientists and pols who feared a demographic flat-line of zero-reproductive replacement (all those abortions that liberated women would be flocking to get) by ‘keeping the numbers up’ through immigration. And of course, those immigrants would soon quickly start having kids who would not know the way the once-but-maybe-not-future Republic was designed to work, and then that generation would have kids … and so on.

The radical ideological feminist movement, who would need a lot of nannies for all those liberated women who would be taking high-paying executive jobs and would need somebody to take care of the kids, if either hubby was also employed or there was no hubby. Also for leaf-blowers, gardeners, pool-persons, and younger folks who would be day-laborers for the contractors who would be building, installing and maintaining the McMansions, lawns, gardens, and pools.

The Republicans who would need a lot of those same nannies, leaf-blowers, gardeners, pool-boys, and younger folks who would be day-laborers for the contractors who would be building, installing and maintaining the McMansions, lawns, gardens, and pools.*

The corporations who would be needing a whole lot of cheap and pliable labor to break the unions and essentially dissolve the New Deal and the Detroit Consensus. For which purpose the Democrats, under the tag-team of Clinton and Clinton, and the Democratic Leadership Council, and others as yet unindicted, did deliberately fabricate and provide the ‘cover’ theory of ‘globalization’. The afore-mentioned theory did deliberately and with malice afore-thought misrepresent as merely a way for American corporations to produce goods more cheaply abroad, what really was a scheme that resulted in not only the jobs but the profits of the production going and remaining overseas. For which many PACs were gratefully rewarded by those few who profited greatly.

And the ‘new economy’ entrepreneurs whose job market – burdened by the overnight doubling of the potential workforce that needed to be employed by the ‘liberation’ of women – required that salaries be correspondingly chopped in half and benefits reduced, for which purposes a wholly new workforce, unfamiliar with the old ‘industrial-era’ status of steadily and well-remunerated employed workers, would most suitably answer.

And, lastly, the entire Beltway association of elected pols, who stood to gain immensely from a citizenry largely ignorant of the responsibilities of The People and of the role of the individual Citizen, or too pre-occupied with earning a meager living to learn, or too fearful of biting the hand that fed them to object to whatever their new master-government chose to do.

Well, that’s my initial list of suspects. It isn’t complete, but it should provide enough to start Our investigation.

Now, mind you, I am not saying that every single individual immigrant is going to fall into all these characterizations. I’m saying that this was the way the suspect-perpetrators would have imagined their plan would work out, by and large.

And in those expectations, I think they were correct.

Nor can We forget that many of those desperately seeking entrance were utterly undone by the effects of the afore-mentioned ‘globalization’, that wrecked their livelihoods in their own countries of origin.

So many Clintonian turkeys coming home – or at least here – to roost, as it were.

Nor can We forget that while such deconstruction was going on in this country and against its People, the Reagan-era stratagem, begun under Nixon the decade before when the currency was cut loose from the realism of the gold standard, was to provide the appearance of ‘wealth’ for all by enabling easy credit. Which credit was provided by other nations’ purchase of Our debt in the form of Treasury bonds, while Our new ‘knowledge’ society produced nothing but a few ‘ideas’ (famously inedible) and mountain-ranges worth of paper ‘instruments’ of increasing complexity and increasingly dubious integrity.

Nor can We forget that We allowed Ourselves to be thus seduced, indenturing Ourselves and Our posterity unto the umpteenth-generation with debt uncountable.

So that at this point immigrants are invited into – or invite themselves into – a country that has no means of providing them either with a living wage or with the reliable promise of sustained employment.

Nor can We forget that the nation for which the Statue of Liberty was cast and to which it was presented as a gift, was a nation bursting with a potential that required the labor of as many willing hands as it could find (and its Democratic benefactors could entice). And that it would be an indication of the most profound imbecility if the Democrats of recent decades imagined that they could simply run the same play that had worked a century before.

Nor can We forget that fully a third of the Italians – to take one example – who entered at Ellis Island returned to their home country for good, having realized that the American streets were not only not paved with gold, but were actually built on filth and blood even more than on honest sweat and toil.

We are not in a position to be making any promises. Nor is America any longer the fabled Land of Promise.

So I’d say that – yes – some heavy-lifting is indeed required.


*When I use the terms “Republicans” I do not mean the party of Teddy Roosevelt, sticking up for the environment and for regular folks against the corporations, “the interests”, and the “malefactors of great wealth”. It was the Reagan ‘genius’ to use fake money fueled by increasing debt to make everybody think that they were now part of the ‘wealthy’ class; so that what was done for the malefactors was – according to the illusory ‘narrative’ – done for everybody. Nor did the Dems find this a baaaad thing, and they declared themselves ‘bipartisan’ forthwith, to hide the fact of their treacherous collusion and – let’s face it – collaboration. They were, after all, the inventors of PACs in the first place.

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Neal Gabler, always a worthwhile read, joins in the discussion about empathy.

Characteristically, and impressively, he hopes that this present go-round about empathy will somehow jolt the national discussion beyond the Left-Right, either-or, divide. From his lips to God’s ear. This juvenile form of mental processing – either/or – has become the hallmark of a powerful national decline for quite a few decades now. And – Gabler will sicken to hear it – it has been induced as vigorously by the Left as by the Right, upon both of whose houses be a plague because of it.

This is, I say, the key national decline: the hugely diminished capacity of the citizenry to process information maturely, to sift and assess it, to deliberate, and thus to arrive at a substantive conclusion that they can then transmit to their (ideally listening) elected representatives. Only in this way can people function as The People.

And as I’ve pointed out on numerous occasions here, if there is no People, there can be no Constitutional government – or, for that matter – no Constitution. Why, after all, have an instrument that respects and protects The People if there is no People? I half expect that this is the strategy of far too many Beltway lobbies: that they will continually erode the competence of The People, under the guise – of course – of ‘sensitivity’ and ‘liberation’ (you know, like the Hippies said about pot and free luv) until someday, satisfied that there really isn’t much of a People left, they will simply announce that the Constitution is ‘quaint’, that it is all a part of a now-past American history irrelevant to present realities, and the Founding vision and its instrument will die with a sensitive whimper rather than the bang of a Commie thermonuclear detonation. You think you have nightmares?

But Gabler hobbles himself soon into the run: he likes liberals and liberalism and so he has to think that the whole thing is the Republicans’ and the Right’s fault. To hear someone blame the Right totally for the parlous condition of the national moral and conceptual Competence calls Us to revisit that marvelous historical scene where Mussolini, Il Duce, finally called to account before the Fascist Grand Council in July of 1943, blamed it all on … the Germans – I tedeschi sono responsabili da tutto. Alas, by that point, from Mussolini’s lips, nothing was going to be getting to God’s ear, or be admitted if it ever managed to arrive there.

The right-wing has a fascination with Ayn Rand’s self-absorption, he notes, as if dropping at a 1949 cocktail party the key equation of nuclear fission. The notorious self-absorption of the Left, We are left to infer, is simply – as the Left’s self-induced Bubble has it – rocksolid evidence of ‘liberation’, which is what the Left and the liberal has always been about. Ovvvvv coursssssse.

So the self-absorption of abortion-on-demand is really evidence of a mature liberation, or at least a liberation – since ‘maturity’ is in the eye of the beholder and, anyway, ‘morality’ and anything else that tries to limit your desires is simply ‘oppression’ and doesn’t exist in the first place? Or whatever – it’s my body and not yours and that’s all there is too it. Which is not so far from a rather acute expression of something kind of close to self-absorption. If you get my drift.

Bill Clinton’s speaks “in the immortal words” about we can feel your pain (Gabler identifies himself, and Clinton, as liberal). There is a great deal of Clinton’s record that should indeed be classified as immortal – but for the purposes of statutes of limitations. And ‘pain’ turned out to have been a ‘sensitive’ cover for self-indulgent emotionalism, the essence of Hippie fecklessness and pot-smacked whackery erected into a Plan by the vote-addled Dems (a game into which the Republicans later allowed themselves to be bought).

And then Gabler tosses in John Rawls*, the mushy thinker from bosky Harvard who provided benefit-of-philosophy to that Plan: when thinking about the poor, Rawls prayed, legislators and policymakers should imagine them in the worst possible situation (that’s ‘empathy’) and then make one’s impositions accordingly. That’s imposition, since the lumps of the citizenry just don’t get it and need to be ‘led’ by those of their elites who know better – which is as neat a précis of revolutionary and anti-democratic and anti-constitutional arrogance as you’re likely to find this side of Lenin‘s or Mao’s Tomb. And don’t laugh: wayyyy too many public intellectuals, pols, and jurists consider it – you should pardon the expression – gospel.

Gabler goes on to sermonize that this Rawlsian revelation “is the very source of political community”. Yes, empathy**is indeed a vital element in human maturity. But a) it is one thing for an individual to develop the advanced capacity for empathy, and another thing to turn a government loose with it – where it will too often turn out to be used as a nice cover for that government to shower bennies on its favorites. And b) since emotionalism has indeed been adopted as such a cover, it should be given strict scrutiny indeed when the pols have decided to impose gifts. And c) emotionalism, given a free rein and not seated in a mature human-ness, tends to run wild, like kudzu, or Tribbles – only more lethal.

But Gabler sees this as part of the problem: Republicans and conservatives (and I don’t at all equate the two) differ from Democrats and liberals (ditto) in that conservatives think that people are sort of evil and Dems (and Hippies) think that they’re kind of good – or at least groovy. This is a huge point. The Framers were of a generation that was exposed to two conceptual universes: an older Hobbesian assessment that human beings, left to their own devices, are selfish; and a sort of Lockeian or even Rousseauian confidence in the goodness of folks. (Locke was a little more circumspect about it; Rousseau went gaga – like a Hippy).

I’d note that the old Catholic tradition, predating the bunch of them, was that human beings were created in God’s image, but somehow flawed in such a way that they would act against that image within them (that image also constituted a core of their identity as individuals and as a species). So you were dealing with a complicated – binary, certainly – and unpredictably dynamic, perhaps even volatile, mix.

THAT is an awful lot of complication and dangerousness to put on any plate. And it is a powerful indicator that maturity – and sustained seriousness in developing and maintaining it – are utterly essential for any human. Or any human society. Or its government.

And also that since a ‘government’ is going to be composed of the very same members of that human species, then a government has to be handled just as gingerly and carefully; hence the checks and balances. And thus the emphasis on putting together a rational mechanism for somehow keeping on track all the fraught dynamics of human nature and the politics that those dynamics generate.

This is hell-and-gone from the ‘liberal’ approach of late, which has fallen in love with ‘big government’ even as much as – in Gabler’s cartoonish view – the ‘conservatives’ have.

It also remains to be seen how a large ‘welfare state’ can sustain an independent citizenry. Although this is not intended as a ‘trump’ thought, I point out that a citizenry in which a majority of citizens rely on ‘the government’ for their sustenance, and have come to accept that as a normal state of affairs, is a looooong way from achieving an independent maturity and a politically independent approach to kicking the tires of that government’s doings.

And I’m not talking here of the ‘safety-net’ welfare state of the New Deal but rather the Identity-era ‘entitlement welfare’ state. Because, for all its good intentions and appearances, it could not but have a baaaad effect in two ways. First, the government could ‘buy’ the voters thus entitled, and perhaps so reliably weld them to itself that it could be said to ‘own’ them. Thus, second, that the entire operational principle of a Republic where the government was answerable to an independent and capable People was undermined. From which flow the working dynamics of ‘imperial Presidency’, divine right government (from the Left or the Right) and the government – Legislative or Executive – as Lord Protector against fear, pain, and unhappiness generally.

Nor can We forget that the term “ordinary people” is no longer quite the badge of honor that it once was. You had only to look at the 1980 film of that name to realize that “ordinary people” no longer meant the ‘little people’, ground down under the heel of Robber Baronry and Social Darwinian industrial capitalism, sweating and unwashed, but sturdy in spirit and ready to do a day’s work for a day’s pay. No; now in 1980 the Dems would embrace ‘professionals’ with foreign sports cars and big houses in bosky burbs and even a desk-top computer at home. Things had changed. A real lot. And went on getting mushier from there.

Whether you have a Rightist desire to enforce a social conformity for the purposes of easier corporate control and an acquiescence in military adventure, or whether you enforce a social conformity so that those who ‘get it’ can impose upon the unenlightened masses the Correct way to go about the on-going process of civilization … well, that’s a hugely secondary question. Ayn Rand or John Rawls – either way The People are enfeebled.***

So are people basically ‘good’ or basically ‘evil’? The old Catholic answer was: both – as described above. But of course, you can’t whomp up a real good political ‘wave’ (or stampede) by such finely-tuned thinking. You need that either-or approach. Even if it doesn’t correspond to reality.

But the postmodern solution to that problem is that there is no ‘reality’, it’s all in how you let yourself ‘approach’ the ‘text’. This has some modest application in approaching a piece of literature – which is where it started. But to apply it more widely, out in the ‘real world’, creates the risk of serious frakkery. As I have said before, the rules for flying an aircraft, based on the immutable principles of aerodynamics, are not a ‘text’ – if you fly a plane by treating aerodynamics as a ‘text’ that you can change as you feel you wish, then you are not going to stay airborne very long. (More on this below.)

I’m suggesting – against the postmodern approach that the ‘liberals’ have applied to the Constitution, among other things – that the Constitution be seen somehow as purposely designed to correspond to certain principles, such that to screw too much with it is going to result in a rather decisive termination of the American Experiment.

Thus that the Framers, as serious and mature human beings rather than simply as ‘dumb, dead, white, oppressive, violent, rapist males’, did indeed construct the whole thing with an eye to principles that they – and a sizable chunk of Western Civilization before them – had found to be reliably in effect. Alas, Jesse, you were too quick to chant that ‘Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has to go’; it’s been happening, and the national aircraft, by amazing coincidence, is having a hard time maintaining course and altitude – indeed a reasonable observer might wonder if it is any longer in a status of controlled flight at all. Certainly, if the Beltway is the cockpit, we are well-advised to Be Very Afraid – and to do something about it.

Thus the ‘rules’ are not just some “theoretical category” which hem in the boundless ‘empathy’ of the bienpensant ‘liberal’. Gabler reduces the ‘conservatives’ to being “rulists” – in love with rules because they are anally retentive or they are afraid of goodness or because they haven’t got their groove on or because they just don’t get it or because they are hating-on life and people.

Whereas the ‘liberals’ are sensitive and empathetic types who aren’t going to allow any abstractions and the “theoretical category” from doing what needs to be done. Which is a neat, if nicely dressed, expression of the concept of revolutionary law and justice – which is hell and gone from the Western concept of the Rule of Law. In revolutionary justice no principles exist and no government is to be trusted – except the principle that the revolutionary government always knows best and therefore can do whatever it wants. Which is also not very far from the operating principles of Divine Right Monarchy.

Which We as Americans traditionally do not support. No revolutionary cadres, no divine right monarchs.

And – pace the victimist movement – no Lord Protector, whether of the Right (s/he will strike out preventively at whomever s/he divines to be an enemy) or of the Left (s/he will strike out preventively at whomever s/he divines to be a victimizer and bringer-of-pain). Either way, the American vision is being freakishly deformed.

And it is sophomoric to just say “rulists”. There are rules and then there are rules. For example: Trans-Planet Airways can have rules about what color uniform the flight-crews will wear, what color the planes are painted, and what the corporate logo will be. Then there are FAA rules about planes having to keep a certain distance apart in the air, and not landing or taking off without clearance from the tower. Then there are rules like Bernoulli’s, that flight cannot be achieved or sustained without air flowing up and over the leading edge of the wing and rushing down and over the trailing edge.

Three ‘rules’, but hugely different types, dealing with hugely different realities. Trans-Planet can change its colors to its heart’s content. It might lobby the FAA or Congress to change the spacing or clearance rules. But who in all creation is going to change Bernoulli’s Principle? Nor will it help either to find his bones and put them on trial and burn them – a medieval approach of only modest efficacy, nor to poo-poo him over a plastic glass of chardonnay as somebody who just doesn’t get it.

I’m suggesting here that the Constitution is more like Bernoulli’s Principle than it is like the company-colors choice.

For the past forty Biblical years, though, just about every ‘rule’ has been treated as just a thang about company colors and logo.

And this is especially dangerous in a society where so many have fallen under the influence of the Hippy-Rousseauian belief that ‘rules’ are just oppressive crap that ‘oppressors’ make up to ‘oppress’ everybody else. Yes, rules can be so abused. But that doesn’t establish that there are no immutable principles without which a society, and especially one structured along the lines of America’s Republic and its great Constitutional Experiment can long endure.****

Gabler is a very intelligent writer. He has a broad command of historical ideas and trends. But he has committed himself to the ‘liberal’ point of view (which as I am saying is not so liberal at all once you get to the nuts, bolts, and implementation of all that goodwill and good intentions and ‘empathy’ and assorted feelings). So he has to contort himself into all sorts of selectivity in order to say something significant that also passes ‘liberal’ and Politically Correct muster.

Which is itself an indication of just how frakked and whacked things are here nowadays.

And just how hard it has become to fix things, because to come up with a repair-plan you first have to have a clear and accurate idea of the damage that you’ve sustained.

And We have sustained a great deal.*****


*I have Posted on John Rawls: March 30, 2009: "Rawls and Religion"

**I have Posted on empathy: June 8, 2009: "Sotomayor and Empathy".

***In this regard I can’t help but connect the following dots: Hitler’s Volk concept required a superior master race that therefore had the right to take whatever it needed; yet his Fuhrerprinzip concept required a Leader who could lead the dopey German people who otherwise would not rise to the occasion of their own greatness. This was a monstrous conceptual incoherence at the very heart of the Nazi project; it led to the totalitarian government control over every aspect of the citizenry’s life even as the citizens were in theory the ‘master race’.

And it exists here today in both Rightist (Ayn Rand, say) and Leftist (John Rawls, say) assertions of ‘greatness’, whether it be the ‘greatness’ of the nation (Rightist) or of the Identity (radical ideological feminism and victimism – the two are joined at the hip). Ach.

****An aerodynamically-oriented disagreement might be made that the stealth bomber and stealth fighter ignore Bernoulli. Those aircraft are, by manufacturer’s admission, not airworthy: they will not stay up in the air and will not fly unless their hugely complex set of onboard computers makes continuous adaptations every moment – lose the computers and no pilot can keep the things in the air.

And if, say, you let this ‘concept’ migrate into general legislative and governmental functioning, then you get a situation where the government regulatory and police apparatus must function minutely, constantly (and thus hugely invasively) in order to keep society operating under the impossible design that has been imposed. And that most surely is a recipe for Constitutional catastrophe, as perhaps We are beginning to realize now.

*****I don't include this following passage as a 'trump', nor do I agree with everything its author ever wrote or said. But it strikes a worthwhile note for Our time, I think:

"You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help little men by tearing down big men. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn. You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence. And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves."

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009



Now comes Madeleine Albright in this season of commencement speech bloviation and doth commence to commend: "I don't want to say women necessarily make better diplomats than men … But in a lot of ways we do have advantages. Diplomacy is about being able to put yourself into someone else's shoes, to be able to empathize, figure out their perspective. At the risk of making a gross generalization, women are often much better at that."

Ah yes. This is “off” the Sotomayor and Obama “empathy” thread, as NYPD Blue lingo might put it. (Andy Sipowicz as President? I’m just askin’ …) This is a classic example of Beltway copycatting and Beltway surfing as well as the ‘migration of concepts’ I have been talking about in recent Posts.

You may recall the Sotomayor fluffery: a ‘woman’ might be better on the Supreme Court because she uses ‘empathy’ and not just reason to decide matters of grave import. I Posted specifically about this on June 8th in this blog in the Post "Empathy". I said that I see no problem with a female on the Court but I have reservations about a ‘woman’ being on the Court because in Our modern American reality ‘woman’ means somebody indentured to, or a card-carrying member of, the ideological-radical feminist fringe or core (take your pick) of feminism who is expected by her cadre-sistern to do things for “us” (and by that “us” they most surely do not mean the American people or their common-weal).

Which puts this whole thing in the Women-from-Venus/Men-from Mars thread that has been bethumping Us lo these past forty years: Men are violent and rational whereas women are nonviolent and empathetic. Which, if it were an aircraft, I would certainly not want to fly in such a dubious design.

And the upshot of it all is that men are simply too unsuitable to really run things, whereas ‘women’* – long oppressed, repressed, and depressed – are the key to a strife-less, war-less, poverty-less world of peace and love (you know, what the Hippies and Flower Children expected would suddenly pop up to the surfaceof Life and History just as soon as they dethroned ‘the Establishment’ and/or smoked and screwed themselves – if not the entire world – into a groovy utopia).

Somewhere in there between the Flower Children and the feministicals We ceased to become a serious nation. We were serious neither about human nature nor human events, adopting for Ourselves a ‘bubble’ (precursor to the assorted financial bubbles; it was a concept that migrated robustly) in which We were young, brilliant, omnipotent, and magically gifted – and We had the military and financial clout to ensure that Our imperial desires were not frustrated … and can you say Two-Year Old?

Subsequently, the national political scrum threw up a Fundamentalist bubble, synergistic twin of the foregoing: We were chosen by God to wear the Badge of Divine Righteousness and wield the Divine Taser, backed up by a heavily-armed SWAT capability that could respond empathetically and without hesitation to ‘pain’ anywhere in the world, especially – it turned out – landing Ourselves like a Super Nanny at the doorsteps of those peoples who happened to live on or near large deposits of fossil fuels. On the Divine Behalf, We would happily shock and awe the benighted dis-empathetic governments of the world, secure in the knowledge that We would never Ourselves have to face the Divine Grrrrrr because, whether for oil or empathy, We had God on Our side.

Oddly, while We had taken from the Nazi imperium rockets, propaganda techniques, enhanced interrogation techniques, and even the shape of the military helmets, We never took the belt-buckles, upon which was cast the brazen phrase Gott Mit Uns; perhaps it was no wonder that after the agitated ministrations of that imperium – dresst in its 12 years of brief authority – Europe sort of swore off God.

As the world is now increasingly inclined to swear off the United States of America.

And we cawn’t think why. Except that they just don’t get it.

And must be made to get it.


But this is the monstrous synergy whereby the pot-hazed day-dreams of the Hippies were co-opted by the steel-jawed and often sensibly-shod determinations of ideological feminism, who had tactical political congress with the Establishment – only to find themselves happily ensconced close enough to the pinnacle of power in the national seraglio so as to call more than a few shots.

But the unsleeping serpent of government authority – caged by the now-Mosaic generation of the Framers – did seduce them with the apple of Weltmacht, and now these empathetic nurturers are busily snuffing out life wherever it gets in the way or just doesn’t get it. Although with far more taste and clawss than Genghis Khan, though – alas – still not rising to the level of genuinely impressive human seriousness evinced by – among others – Elizabeth the First, Catherine the Great, or even Lucrezia Borgia (who at least could speak Latin and read Greek and knew a sin when she committed one).

Not progress, I’m thinking – forty Biblical years of deconstruction and all manner of ‘reform’… and all the death and destruction, and treasure frakkingly frittered away.

Which brings Us back to Albright, who famously observed, her rouged jowls flapping over that heaving maternal bosom, that the lives of half a million Iraqi children were “an acceptable price to pay” for the imposition of America’s vision of how things should be in the New World Order.

Well … if that’s ‘getting it’ then I’m going to sit out this version of the Millennium. If it takes the lives of half a million kids, then this is a Circle that truly deserves to be broken. And, of course, it’s now been a lot more than half a million kids, the butcher’s bill for title to those broad, sunlit uplands of revolutionary empathy.

Flannery O’Connor famously observed back in her day that Southerners wrote about “freaks” because at least they could still recognize one when they saw it. I don’t believe that that profound bit of wisdom is yet past its sell-by date. Not hardly.

If there’s a better home a’waitin’ on this planet, I don’t see that the current Vision is going to get Us there. And actually, I don’t see that that better home a’waitin is on this planet at all. But in this matter the feministicals have proclaimed that there is nowhere else where it might be, and as always the unsleeping government power never really accepts any authority over it, Beyond it, that might sit in judgment over it.

Which perhaps is the biggest Bubble of all.

But the Framers – those fuddy-duddy, apparently un-empathetic oppressors – saw that problem, and would have seen straightaway the freakishness – the frakking freakery, if I may – of wayyy too much of Our current ‘progress’.

Not because they were ‘prophets’ or ‘witches’ but simply because they would have immediately understood that for all the tremendous value of great literature and philosophy, ‘literary theory’ was a concept that did not travel well. It had to stay in the rarefied realm of the classroom. Some realities in this world, and some verrrry big ones, are not simply ‘texts’ that exist independent of their authors (Ben Franklin even used the capital-A on occasion, as in “the Author”). Nor can these verrrry big realities be changed by somebody – or a lot of somebodies – simply changing the way they ‘look’ at them.

So if you try to fly a 747 backwards out of ‘empathy’ for passengers who are experiencing the ‘pain’ of flight-sickness, you cannot be surprised if neither plane nor passengers reaches the desired destination. Or, if out of boundless empathy you try to rescue everybody by overloading the aircraft on its rescue mission, then … ditto.

If there is ‘oppression’ in that equation, it’s not coming from oppression, not even male oppression. Just as Gerald Manley Hopkins noted that “there lives the dearest freshness deep down things”, that reverend child was expressing a counter-insight to the oppressive awareness that there also lives – deep down in the mysterious beating heart of human existence – an abiding darkness. Human be-ing is, like old Kaintuck, “a dark and bloody ground”. And no human being, or country, is totally or reliably free of it, not even those who step out of rivers and swimming pools and proclaim themselves ‘saved’, and not even those who emerge from a bosky weekend klatsch and proclaim that they now indeed ‘get it’.

Empathy is a good thing, but one hose does not extinguish a wildfire.

Seriousness as to the true nature of the situation and its governing dynamics, and as to the possibilities of extinguishing the fire, and of doing so without having to dynamite the very homes and lives you are trying to save … that seriousness is absolutely indispensable, in an individual and in a government.

And We – sadly – seem to have lost it.

And We – freakishly – seem to be dealing with that dim apprehension by ever more loudly and violently striking out at folks in all directions. Yet to exert violence as a way of proving one’s ‘seriousness’ shades ominously close to the testosterone-addled un-mastered and adolescently unripe ‘maleness’ that now appears to be the standard operating procedure for wayyy too many folks, male and female and especially those who formerly were sensibly shod, and including – freakishly – those who trumpet themselves as genuine paragons of sensitivity and empathy.

Albright is peddling an incoherent and unripe vision, and her own record screams un-ripeness and incoherence.

They can swill all the Chardonnay they want out there at the Wellesley College campus (where they are going to set up some Chair or Institute in her name, and receive her ‘papers’).

Flannery O’Connor would know what to say about the whole show.


*I use commas here because I am not taking these assertions to be the genuine thoughts of all or even most American females, but rather the code-word for what should actually read ‘women who get it’, which is to say women who agree that the illuminations, excitations, perturbations, and agitations of the radical ideological feminists are the long-lost recipe for turning human existence into gold and the long-lost map to the broad, sunlit uplands of perfect fulfillment in this life – toward the achievement of which ‘revolution’ is most surely justified.

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Monday, June 22, 2009


Scott Saul over at ‘The Nation’ has written a review of Thomas Sugrue’s ‘Sweet Land of Liberty’, released last Fall. The book is about the ‘Northern Phase’ of the Civil Rights Movement. I had Posted about it back on November 26th, here.

At that time I said that there was a fundamental and fateful difference between the ‘Southern’ or ‘First’ Phase of the Civil Rights Movement, presided over by Martin Luther King, grounded firmly in a genuinely comprehensive and spiritually effort to unite all Americans in the non-violent struggle to realize the country’s still-unrealized ideals. It is from this phase that the uplifting now-iconic images of sit-ins and Freedom Riders and arm-linked clergy – black and white – are taken.

The ‘Second Phase’, I said, resulted from the spread of the movement – especially after the signing of the Voting Rights Act in July, 1965 – to the Northern and coastal urban setting, where King lost influence and the more revolution-minded and separatist-minded younger generation of activists took over. Indeed, I noted, it was less than two weeks after the Voting Rights Act signing that Watts suddenly exploded, effectively gutting LBJ’s ability to further deploy his massive skills in the service of integration in consequence.

Now comes Saul, with an interesting piece.

He begins by going back even further than the 1950s and the Montgomery era of Rosa Parks, to the wartime 1940s and the indications of racism in the real-estate trade as well as the efforts of individual and local black folk to bring to fruition the promise of 1865 and Reconstruction. Black Americans, after all, were shedding blood for human dignity, democracy, and ‘freedom’ in World War 2 and yet did not have it themselves at home.

The efforts of American blacks to – quite legitimately – take advantage of the opportunity of World War 2’s societal developments sparked a racism in the non-Southern portions of the country; but it was a far more subtle racism than the brutishly obvious ‘Southern’ racism that performed so vividly for the cameras in the 1950s and early 1960s.

But Saul wants to back Sugrue’s effort to show that there was a very real, if not so organized, civil rights movement outside the South well before Rosa Parks’s day. Which is certainly a legitimate historical project.

Yet there’s something else piggy-backed in there. Saul also goes after the “now-standard accounts like the PBS documentary ‘Eyes on the Prize’” wherein “the Northern movement literally explodes into view with the urban insurrections of the mid-to-late ‘60s – with Stokely Carmichael’s chant of ‘Black Power’ taken up in burning cities from Watts to Newark”. Well, yes, this is also a legitimate point; black folk in outside of the South were trying to get things done to improve their lot. And they faced resistance, though – as noted above – of a more subtle type than in the South of that era.

But, Saul goes on quickly, “From this angle, the Northern civil rights movement seems to coincide with the starburst and subsequent flameout, of Black Power and Black Power appears largely as a betrayal of Martin Luther King’s inclusive vision rather than as a strategy that evolved from the painful dilemmas faced by the Northern side of the movement.” This is a big leap. The inference is that there was a non-revolutionary Northern movement, one that kept on all along, from the 1940s (at least) all the way up through the Sixties and beyond. And Yes, there may well have been.

But Saul honestly observes that Sugrue “offers a history of the Northern civil rights movement in which the Black Panthers have been demoted to bit players, Angela Davis and the Attica prison revolt make no appearance” and a bunch of good-hearted little folks, so to speak, are “battling against faceless if powerful entities like the National Real Estate Board”.

The present scheme of understanding, Black Power displacing King and engaging in actual ‘revolutionary separatism’ with all the callow commitment of the young, is “profoundly incomplete” and Sugrue is going to correct that with his history, Saul claims.

Well, I’m not sure about the profundity of the incompleteness. It was the sudden metamorphosis of the civil rights movement into the Black Power movement that shocked the citizenry – all those riots and threats of armed revolutionary force in the service of a violently achieved separatism – and so gutted the Democrats’ vote-garnering strategy that they proceeded in a desperate and addle-pated way to simultaneously pander to any ‘black demands’ while also courting all sorts of other Identities – especially the ‘womens’ movement and, more precisely, the radical feminist ideology that proclaimed itself the representative of ‘women’s interests’.

And, relevantly to Us here today, the ‘Jewish vote’ by initiating a thorough indenture of US foreign policy to the visions, hopes, dreams, schemes and excitements of the Israeli State.

So while I acknowledge that Sugrue is performing a good service by accurately expanding the historical record, he is not stepping in to correct a “profound” incompleteness. The profound effects of the Black Power phenomenon are with Us still, and have poisoned relations between the races, even as it helped to enable an even larger civil divisiveness between ‘the genders’. Oy.

Indeed, future historians may come to mark the fall-out of the Black Power movement as the beginning of the end of America as a coherent polity, society, and citizenry, setting in motion a decline in civic health and unity that only increased as the decades of ‘revolution’ eagerly mushed forward on their Long March (Marches, plural, more properly).

This is a rather profound reality that the Left and those who like to think of themselves as ‘liberals’ would rather not contemplate. And who can blame them? Now that the fake-wealth and almost-fake money that plastered over the increasingly large and deep cracks in the very foundations of the polity has run out, and its greasy golden miasm starts to dissolve in the harsh cold winds of global and historical actualities, the Left would rather not look at things … in much the same way as the former Bushist banditti most strenuously resist being examined as to the lethal and duplicitous frakkery that they perpetrated when they were gaudily dressed in a lot of brief but vast authority.

More specifically, as Saul observes, it’s hard to tell a good story with no dramatic arc, and all the small, genuinely ‘grass-roots’ efforts of all those little-folk really doesn’t make for good theater or – face it – good television ‘news’. No blood, no threats, no posturing, no flames and wreckage … just a bunch of decent people trying to improve things in the face of admittedly subtle obstruction.

But this was, again, a key fracture-point. Faced with an opponent no longer providing overt hostility (think the Southern cops and politicians and a whole lotta the Southern white folks, firehoses, billy-clubs, police dogs, and even white-robes), the blacks looked to the government when the Dems controlling the government declared themselves ready to deploy the awesome government power against such a subtle enemy. It would be – if I may – the ‘military option’ by virtue of adopting the military metaphor and by virtue of attempting to root out a complex and deeply-rooted and profoundly subtle attitude on the part of a very large number of citizens, using the offensive weapons of the government police and regulatory power as if it were a military instrument. (An eerie doppelganging of the mistakes already being lustily funded in Vietnam, and an even more eerie precursor of the current wars in Iraq and Af-Pak.)

This was a grave – perhaps ultimately fatal – mistake for at least two reasons. First, the government cast itself as a warrior against a sizable fraction of its citizens (the ‘white, racist’ fraction), which – to all but the most inebriated – can only seem … ill-advised and fraught with darkling potentials.

Second, the government was going to be going after something so ‘subtle’ that the usual weaponry of civil and criminal law – attuned to ‘acts’ rather than ‘attitudes’ – were far too blunt as instruments or weapons to really and quickly achieve the objectives. Rather than ‘win the hearts and minds’ of the ‘subtle white racists’ of the not-Southern parts of the country, the government simply went to war against them.

But that’s the classic American way of doing things, isn’t it? Find a clear enemy, go after that enemy with ‘shock and awe’ and overwhelming force, and conquer that enemy quickly, cheaply, and with no lasting ill-consequences. And if you don’t succeed in that damp-dream on the first try, then keep doing it even more, with more of everything. Thus the course of the Vietnam War.

(And let Us not here overload the circuits by envisioning what happened when the government then went and declared war on an even larger fraction of the citizenry – males – on behalf of an even more politically attractive ‘demographic’, that ‘women’s vote’, administered, for convenience’ sake, by the ideological and radical elements of feminism. Oy gevalt.)

Now, of course, nobody in the past or present ‘elite’ wants to really talk about it. I suppose it would be like the captain and bridge team of the Titanic locking themselves away up there, to avoid having to come down to steerage, or even first class, to explain how they meant well and stuff happens and isn’t it good that we’re all now really really Nearer My God to Thee?

We’re going to be seeing a lot more of this type of ‘history’ now. For two reasons. First, these ‘elites’ of those storied days are now getting on and would like to ensure their legacy with a How-We-Did-It sort of memoir. Thus to some extent Sugrue here and – in matters feminist – Fred Strebeigh’s recent history* of the feministical machinations to change – by hook or by cocktail – the Beltway approach to American law in the service of their excited visions. They succeeded, by the by, although the consequences have not been altogether what they intended.

Second, it is prudent, wise, and surely shrewd to start spinning things before – the money and the miasm having blown away as aforementioned – folks start seeing more clearly just what the frak has been done over the past three and a half decades. Teddy Kennedy isn’t the only one looking to lock-in a preemptive spin before the fog blows off or before he is no longer – ummmm – physically present to ensure with the weight of that presence that only the nice parts are discussed. It’s an important part of ‘The Dream’ there in the Beltway: getting out of town with your reputation burnished.

Alas, history may prove as implacable as God was formerly. Or perhaps still is, once you wind up rather immediately in His presence. Oy gevalt and Ach.

Saul ends with observations that Sugrue has been unable to grapple with the failure of so much of the civil-rights movements’ initiatives. He tries to save the day with the thought that even while individual whites are no longer so racist, they are willing to countenance much institutional racism.

Here, Saul is trying to save ‘The Nation’s’ bacon as well as the entire post-1965 record. What else can be Correctly identified as a source of the failure? You can’t ‘blame the victim'. You can’t actually start going after pols – the Dems are the official hope of ‘liberals’ and to blame it all on ‘the Republicans’ or ‘the Right’ would be ludicrously tendentious. You can’t acknowledge that there were far more profound complexities than the heady revolutionaries and advocacies and the addled Beltway pols were willing to take into account before they pressed their assorted launch-buttons. You most surely can’t note that the anti-family and anti-male and anti-morality schemes of the radical and ideological feminist elements utterly undercut with scythe-like accuracy the fabric of black community and even individual identity and maturity. And it’s just too little of a bang and too much of a whimper to observe that it was one of the great and sad ironies of American history that the civil-rights movement arrived at such fruition as it achieved just at the point where America’s postwar economic world-hegemony was beginning to fail, starting what has now proved itself to be a probably irreversible and irretrievable decline.

And what self-respecting ‘liberal’ nowadays can blame it on ‘God’ with a straight face?

Saul nicely concludes that Sugrue deserves “much credit for forcing attention on the hard questions that the Northern civil-rights movement asked of American society. He deserves even more for forcing attention on the arduous questions that the movement’s disappointments reflect back on us.”

Those arduous questions have been around since at least Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s time, since Watts and Black Power. They were ignored; in their scramble for votes the Dems – and not long after the Republicans – neither asked them nor provided the type of moral leadership or at least example that would have helped American society look at itself carefully in the mirror.

Who is in a position to ask them now?


*Fred Strebeigh, in his book “Equal: Women Shape American Law” . See also my Post and Notes “Their Ranters, Our Advocates” of June 3, 2009.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009


A news blurb over on Constitutionalfights is verrrry ominous.

A bill has been introduced in both the Senate and House entitled the SORT Act of 2009 (S.1146, H.2612). The Senate version has been read twice and sent to the Judiciary Committee. It’s only a few pages long and worth a few minutes to read it yourself. The House version is here.

The Senate version was introduced by Schumer of New York, and the House version by King of New York, and since they both seek funding and authority for a New York-based organization, you can imagine that it’s all a bit of hometown pork.

But it’s wayyyy more than that.

The organization in question is the non-profit corporation Parents for Megan’s Law, Inc. It has to be recalled that it was the murder of Megan Kanka in the mid-1990s, by a deeply troubled man living across the street from her, that became the touch-point for the sex-offense Registration and Notification wildfire that is still, clearly, burning out of control. It also has to be recalled that whereas the ‘accepted’ version of events is that nobody knew the man was a potential danger and so a Registration and Notification regime would prevent that tragedy from happening by giving parents ‘information’, yet at the time of the killing the other residents on the street mentioned to local reporters that they all knew the man had a history and was dangerous. Nor did the Kankas themselves deny that they had already known.

But somehow a different version of events was erected into ‘reality’ and things have gone where they have gone.

Now this bill (I’m focusing on the Senate version):

The organization has made itself into a clearing-house of community education and also a rape-crisis center and a ‘support’ resource for persons (“child and adult victims” it calls them) who otherwise would not want to go public with what they consider to be their situations. This starts to shade into some verrry deep psychological and therapeutic territory, and that includes a whole bunch of concerns about ‘therapy’ that ‘moves’ a patient – child or adult – toward a particular legal outcome. Which is a lot for a non-profit volunteer-type organization to be taking on. We recall the disastrous pre-school day-care cases of the 1980s.

And the organization also relays ‘tips’ on sex-offenders to the relevant police authorities.

Persons can anonymously send in ‘tips’ and this organization will forward them (they like to call it a “criminal justice referral”). The organization conducted its own ‘survey’ which – who can be surprised? – discovered that a quarter (100,000 or so) of registered sex offenders were not complying with the laws (those registration and notification laws that the Kanka case – whatever its actual elements – helped bring about).

And this ‘tip’ thing suddenly reveals itself to be the innocent looking tip of a monstrous berg. Because somehow the organization is either looking for, or possibly already has, access to the National Criminal Information Databases (the NCIC), the stuff policemen can look up on the computers in their patrol cars.

It claims that it needs this authority to “effectively evaluate the veracity of tips received, proactively research noncompliant registrants or registrants engaged in criminal activities, and provide law enforcement with viable accurate information for follow-up action”. Which are all things that – not to put too fine a point on it – only police forces are authorized to do.

And just where do you put “proactive” research of (allegedly) noncompliant registrants? This is something that is very close to unconstitutional for the government to do (think of Tom Cruise’s unit in the movie “Minority Report”, arresting people who have been ‘seen’ by a psychic being committing a crime in the future and being imprisoned before they do so).

So is this Bill an attempt to let civilians do something that the government is constitutionally prohibited from doing? Because nobody should be willing to let such a feral camel’s nose under the Constitutional tent.

Or is this Bill an attempt to actually force police departments – that are increasingly coming to realize that the vast sex-offense registration and notification apparatus is a useless waste of precious police resources – to keep going through the motions? Because I am going to bet that if any police agency declines to ‘follow up’on a "referral" that the organization has decided to make, then the organization will threaten to go to the media and the mayor with placards and all the now-usual panoply of props and players. In other words, this is an attempt to force the police to stay in a losing, and very badly-conceived, game, and to keep up appearances (and 'numbers' and funding and you can see where all this goes).

Worse, this Bill and this organization seek to do this by demanding what is essentially police authority. Why not give this organization autos or even paddy wagons equipped with emergency lights, sirens, and radios? Why not given them arrest powers like bounty-hunters? The police have access to the NCIC databases because they are the police: they are trained and they are sworn and they are – ideally – accountable to extensive procedural requirements. And, as noted above, they are constitutionally guided as to what they can and cannot do. None of this is true of this non-profit organization which has, it must be said, an axe it needs to grind. And to keep grinding.

In a bit of sleazy wording, the Bill piously notes that the organization needs the NCIC access to carry out its “duties and responsibilities”. The organization may well have adopted its own goals and agenda, but it has utterly no official duties and responsibilities that require it to carry on what is very much official police work. Nor is the NCIC access simply a way to help the organization “assist and support law enforcement agencies in administration of criminal justice functions”. That’s like giving the Salvation Army not just sandwich-and-coffee trucks to pass out refreshment to firemen at major fires, but actually giving the Salvation Army real fire-trucks to join in fighting the fire.

And the Bill is so loosely worded here (Sec. 3.c.) that it opens up the possibility of this organization, or any other non-profit volunteer organization, expanding its interests beyond sex-offense matters to any other criminal offense or records (or perhaps tax-watchdog organizations accessing government income tax files). And if that happens, then what if a for-profit organization decides it wants to try doing this sort of thing? We’ll have the equivalent of Blackwater ‘contractors’ loose all over the place doing pretty much the same thing the official forces do, except without the constitutional responsibilities or restraints.

This organization already has – as the Bill acknowledges – the resources of “existing Internet sex offender registries and public information”.

The bottom-line here (Sec. 3.d.) is that the organization wants a million dollars a year for the next five years.

But, really, there is a much deeper line in this bottomless thing: the organization wants to start garnering police-authority. And if this Bill is passed, then it will be only ‘the next logical step’ to give it all sorts of other police authority. And to give other similar organizations such authority.

Like the sex-offense enabling legislation itself, this is a baaad Bill, a baaad and indeed constitutionally dangerous idea, and it is based on assertions and claims that are not exactly – ummm – true.

And for that matter, I’d say it’s a classic example of what’s gone wrong on Capitol Hill: you would have to say that Schumer has done absolutely no serious long-term thinking about the consequences of this Bill. Either that or he has no working knowledge of the purposes and dynamics of this government’s – or any government’s – monopoly of officially-sanctioned use of violence through its police power and the role of Constitutional limitations in actually keeping that role legitimate.

This cannot end well. And should not even be allowed to go any farther than it already has.

The government has gotten itself into this frakking mess by indulging and fueling this entire unholy sex-offense mania to begin with. Now, with the actual truth and its consequences starting to become unavoidably clear, there is a groundswell from interested parties to try to plaster over the widening holes and keep the show on the road. And to do so by getting the government to dole out its constitutional authority to such interested parties as are willing to make a jihad out of their Cause, even if the government can no longer manage to keep the lid on the problems with the whole thing in the first place.

Government’s only course here is to prevent any such dispersal of its own authority. And instead, to own up to its responsibility – at last – to look carefully at the whole mania and its constitutive elements and start to fix the things that it has rather largely broken. And - We can only hope - with more success than it has had fixing things up in Iraq.


I have started a separate blog on matters sex-offensual. I am going to Post this piece on that blog. From now on, I will concentrate any sex-offensual Posts on the second blog. The second blog is entitled Sense Offenses and is also hosted here on blogspot. You should be able to reach it with this hyperlink.

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Monday, June 15, 2009



Barbara Ehrenreich reports on an address she gave to this year’s graduating class at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

The dean, she said, had wanted her to keep it upbeat – no doubt the faculty wanted to simply get the corpses tastefully and efficiently disposed of and get on with summer vacation, hoping – in best Micawber fashion – that ‘something will turn up’ by the time the summer is over.

Ehrenriech wouldn’t go that route. You have skills, she assured them, but nobody knows what to pay you for them now.

Well, yes, But then: what sort of skills have they learned? Surely ‘advocacy journalism’ and the lapdog stenography that panders to all ‘consumers’ by airbrushing stories about all but the most universally loathed targets. Invented to show solidarity with the Identities, within a decade it had skewed ‘news’ into selective and ‘positive’ stories – on soooo many levels they were indeed stories – and added ‘soft news’, which wasn’t really reporting at all. And then – with the Right’s meteoric rise under Reagan – the same courtesy had to be extended to government and foreign adventures.

Readers were no longer seen as Citizens in need of solid information as they were Consumers, waddling along with lots of buying power from all the ‘credit’ that suddenly welled up. One big happy party, with just enough designated ‘outrages’ to keep things spiced up.

Courtesy to government – not what you’d imagine the Framers envisioned for ‘a free press’.

But then Ehrenreich gets closer to the heart of the matter: “Welcome”, she told the grads, “to the working class”.


Because part of the obscene, butter-greasy glow of the Reagan years was the inflation of the status of ‘professional’. Reporters used to be hard-working stiffs, in scruffy clothes but with a great nose for what was really going on and the heart to pursue it. College professors used to wear patches on old sports jackets and drive modest cars (or the egg-like early-60s Volvo).

Doctors used to make house calls. Clergy actually believed in a God. ‘Ordinary people’ weren’t architects who lived in toney burbs and drove flashy foreign sports cars and had a computer (At home! On your desk!); they were working stiffs glad to be out of an era of depression and war and not so unhappy with a certain amount of peace and quiet; happy with a simple Ford or a Plymouth, and willing to leave the Caddies for the bosses and the foreign cars for the Commies.

Ah well . ‘Creative destruction’ made it all better – the story goes. And the creative inflation of credit, and the creative inflation of status.

And that’s where the professionals found their price. Everybody who could do anything was now a ‘professional’. It was a self-esteem thing, and the Left’s ‘sensitivity’ actually worked in Reagan’s furnaces as well: if you felt better about yourself, you would feel better about how things were going in the country, leave the Beltway alone to work its magic, and buckle down to enjoying the good things of American life. City bus drivers began showing up for work in a Mercedes – it was deemed great progress.

It all became so … well, Italian. Over there, nobody is just plain Signore unless you’re looking for a fight. Everybody is Professore or Dottore. The Italians knew how to make do with a little; how to make a little go a long way. And if the brute realities of life couldn’t actually be changed (too many important people had a stake in keeping things frakked up) then at least the little people could smooth the edges by ladling on the honorifics and the sincerely dishonest flattery.

‘Reporters’ became ‘journalists’, learned how to handle a meal where the place settings included three or more forks, and no longer took the bus. It was, surely, only gratitude that as they learned ‘manners’ they also learned politeness, especially towards those who were throwing the dinner parties. Having suddenly been brought into the national country club, they were in no hurry to start pointing out which of their new club-brothers (or sisters) were up to their ears in skullduggery, often involving the public till.

And, if they insisted on salving their consciences, then they could be ‘sensitive’ to ‘pain’ and skew their stories in the service of something ‘good’ – dishonesty in the service of ‘good’ is no vice. Or something like that.

Now the Bubble-fueled fantasy has run out of Bubbles. This is not something Americans have ever had to get used to (and this will be the world-historical mission of this era’s cohort of Americans: to preside over, as Churchill put it when his own moment came, “the dissolution of the empire”). What this generation of Americans will have to face up to is the dissolution of the empire of the American Dream.

What did Germans citizens feel like when they quietly figured out from the ‘glorious’ government newsreels that the Red Army – bulked up to a size the world had never seen before – was blowing through all the stop signs in Budapest and coming West? What did Japanese citizens feel like when they realized that their sons and brothers and fathers were dying of war wounds in places not very far away at all?

The ‘Dream’ – whether the version imposed by the Dems or peddled by Reagan and his spawn – is now revealed as the illusion it has been for so long. Neither the industry nor – alas – the character any longer exists to put a solid ground under any Dream. If a Dream is like a rocket that you launch with high hopes, there is no longer any solid ground from which to launch the thing.

Which should have come as no surprise, since things had been getting kind of iffy for quite some time.

But the ‘journalists’ were far too tasteful and 'positive' to notice.

So what skills does this graduating class have? That’s the first question. The ‘soft news’ and ‘advocates’ still have the advantage of fitting into the last known occupational model that worked – but that was in a time when there was plenty of almost-fake money to fuel their almost-fake professional services.

Maybe there are enough scruffy ones, though, with a grounding in some actual sense of reality and truth, who just get a genuine kick of telling the truth to people who need to hear the truth. Their labors would certainly be useful – at least to those Citizens who still look for the solid information they need to do their Constitutional job of grounding the never-quite-trustworthy government and all its pomps and all its works.

They could ‘report’ the old-fashioned way.

And leave the ‘Dream’ to the factories that have historically made them. Just the facts, please.
And yes, I know, there are no such things as ‘facts’. Well, there may be no such thing as the perfect fact, or at least not one that the human mind can encompass. But that doesn’t mean that there are no facts at all. Just because ‘we’ can’t ‘get there’ doesn’t mean the place doesn’t exist. That’s cargo-cult thinking, no matter how much it’s dressed up as ‘cutting edge thinking’.
We have regressed mightily, and down some very wrong paths.

It’s not enough to exhort “let’s face the music and dance”, as the 1930’s musical did. Better to face the facts and see what can be done with what’s actually left available to Us.

It’s worked before.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009



The ‘Boston Phoenix’ – that city’s historically alternative newspaper, that nowadays is going a lot better than the others up there – runs an article by Adam Reilly entitled, nicely, “The Blessing of Abortion”.

It concerns the upcoming installation of a lesbian priestess as president and dean of the Episcopal Divinity School, a neo-medieval enclave ensconced in the bosky precincts just across Cambridge Common from the Harvard Yard.

It catches my attention primarily because it is an indicator of a) the still-kicking vitality of a radical and ideological feminism that is seeking to define itself as ‘established’ by spinning its radicality as ‘old news’ and b) the actual extent of the demand for abortion, hell-and-gone beyond the limited parameters espoused by much of the public that doesn’t simply oppose it outright. And c) because it just raises a bunch of interesting questions on its own.

The ‘blessing’ first. The Rev. Katherine Ragsdale, a local resident, is the priestess in question.

Her position is that abortion is itself “a blessing”, the solution and not at all the problem. Which, for someone with an unwanted-pregnancy problem, is quite possibly true.

Her take on it, in a semi-poetic liturgical incantation that is too long to reproduce here but is embodied in the article, is itself revealing. “When a woman finds herself pregnant due to violence …” OK, that’s within the general parameters of where things are at.

“When a woman finds that the fetus she is carrying has anomalies that are incompatible with life, that it will not live and that she requires an abortion …” Well, sort of within the parameters, but then quite possibly far beyond them. “Incompatible with life” does not actually equal “it will not live”; depending on how you define “compatible with life” it may be that the fetus is somehow limited, but not necessarily bound to die or to threaten the life of the mother. (Am I over the line by using the term “mother”? I haven’t necessarily gotten all the memos.) And given the continuous improvements in genetic diagnostics and fetal examination, perhaps a fetus that will be prone to ‘depression’ – however that is defined by whomever is doing the defining – will also be “incompatible” with life, or at least the “mother’s” conception of a good life, for the child or for herself or – even – for both.

“When a woman wants a child but can’t afford one …” This would be due, the incantation goes on, to lack of education or a good job or access to health-care or day-care or “the abysmal priorities of our nation, the lack of social supports, the absence of justice …” – which pretty much locate the source of the problem ‘out there somewhere’. But if you can’t afford a child, why are you pregnant (presuming that you haven't been genuinely raped, of course)?

This of course leads directly to the point I noted in recent Posts, that the objective of the lobby is to achieve for ‘women’ (and I am not saying that all females in this country want this) the same walk-away freedom in matters conceptional that males enjoy: the male, We recall, gets his jollies by impregnation, but can then walk away since the female is stuck – by the decree of evolution – with the gestation and carrying to term and – though the lobbies don’t want to deal with it – the profound bio-neuro-psychological attunements by which the female is bonded to her ‘nurturee’, even to the point that the experiences of gestation and maternity are actually irreplaceably healthful for the female on the deepest levels.

“And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her, decides that she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion …” Well, this is about as ‘elective’ and ‘on-demand’ a concept of abortion as Iraq was an elective war. And the absence of the word ‘marriage’ sort of stands out by not being included in the incantation.

In all these cases, the incantation, repeats, “abortion is a blessing”. The ‘tragedy’ is not the abortion but rather the “need for an abortion”. But the abortion itself is the “blessing” in the whole thing.

Well, perhaps. My own thoughts run along the lines of post-Weimar Germany thinking not that the problem was its wars, but rather that victory in those wars would be “the blessing”.

Something of a self-serving spin, and a conceptualizing of the overall situation that so profoundly diverged from actuality that it left the post-Weimar German government in something of a fairy-tale land of delusion, until that point when its delusory conceptualizations and the profound actualities it had unleashed diverged irretrievably. The profound actuality, as so often happens, won. And the Bubble burst, and not for the last time in world affairs, as We have recently been seeing.

Which is not the way so much of the ‘revolutionary progressive’ worldview likes to imagine things. It prefers to imagine that reality is subjective and that the imagination conquers all.

Which, come to think of it, is how children think – or how the childish mind works. And when the childish mind is in control of a body capable – in the male or the female mode – of completing the sex act, then you can see where things might very well go. Look where childish minds in control of organizations capable of the ‘war act’ have gotten Us. Funny, but the Boomers in their salad days of the Sixties went after the ‘Establishment’ for lascivious misuse of the ‘war act’ – and rightly so, but simultaneously wrote themselves a hall-pass to engage in the ‘sex act’ with gay (in the old sense) abandon. Wheeee! Oof.

The article’s author gamely tries to keep the ball of ‘balance’ in play: “That is a provocative line of thinking” … well, yes, yes it is, at the very least. And from a someone that a mainstream organization like the American Episcopal Church has placed in a position of no little authority.

But then again, you might imagine that ‘mainstream Protestantism’ is no longer much of an authoritative source of thought, let alone religious thought, any longer. The Episcopal Divinity School itself, built with large dormitory spaces that look like the wings of one of Henry VIII’s larger palaces, and with a large, modish Library complex, now has a student body of just one hundred.

I’m going to imagine that instead of being a central powerhouse of serious religious education and thought, the School is well on its way to becoming, at best, a radicalized fringe of student and professorial cadres, under the gimlet eye of its Chief Cadre, the priestess Ragsdale.

That, unsurprisingly, is not how she or her backers see the situation. They are the cutting edge of a progressivism (as it prefers to be called) which the churches have been spear-heading since “the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement”. Which sort of shows you where her priorities are: religion, politely, don’t enter into it. Of course, when your theology is basically that the Roman Catholics were right in everything except that the Crown wanted to replace the Pope so as to collect the offerings and can’t we all just ‘move on’ and ‘get along’? … when that’s basically your theological starting-point, it’s hardly surprising to see interests other than the theological and the religious capture the energies of your elites. And while Martin Luther King certainly imparted a religious dimension to his own first-phase civil-rights movement, to which many Protestant and Catholic and Jewish religious figures rallied after a while, that religious element ‘went away’ in the ‘revolutionary’ post-King phases of the thing, starting in the mid-Sixties.

Of course, back in the late-Sixties and since, just about all American religious activity has been tinged with less of an interest in ‘God’ and more of an immersion in the things-of-this-world. Even in the matter of ‘social justice’, as it was cautiously supported in the Catholics’ Second Vatican Council and much more robustly and urgently embodied in Liberation Theology – itself tinged with a Marxist analysis and a revolutionary penchant for immediate change at any price … even then the Catholic Church, though caught up in the powerful winds and storms of ‘change’, had more keel in the water with its sheer size, more rudder biting the water in its governance, more deadweight in the water with its admittedly hefty load of traditions and rules, and more institutional experience (about 1,500 years more) than the various Protestant entities, which fared less well in that great typhoon.

So now, though the typhoon has passed, the Catholic convoy remains more intact and on-course than the numerous Protestant flotillas, now scattered about a vast swath of trackless sea, lost even in the clearing skies.

But that’s not how the former mainstream Protestants see themselves. They are the elite who are forging new paths, progressive paths.

And – wait for it – they are opposed! Not by doubters or skeptics or hesitant thinkers, or by those who aren’t certain that all this is ‘progress’. No, they are opposed – as they see it – by “extremists”, though – amazingly but perhaps also shrewdly – extremists “from outside the [Episcopal] Church”. In other words, all the opposition – and the article faithfully limns the depth and extent of it – comes from ‘outside’, outside agitators, as it were.

And, marvelously, they are right-wing agitators. This from the lefty, ‘liberal’ (not at all the term for the revolutionary cadres of the Sixties and since) element that pretty much introduced Leninist and Maoist agitprop into American politics 35 and 40 years ago. The hot ironies.

And of course, Ragsdale represents precisely that identification of ‘religion’ with that misnamed ‘liberal’ but certainly Left agenda of the Sixties and early Seventies. Indeed, especially in the unballasted Protestant traditions, it was a submersion of religious concerns and realities, a sinking of them, into the socio-political agenda of that era.

Worse, she embodies the identification of feminism (in itself a worthy thing) with the most outré elements of Ideological Feminism’s concepts and methods, and also with feminism’s highly fraught and perhaps dubious embrace of ‘abortion on demand’ (or ‘choice’, or ‘reproductive rights’, or ‘full equality’ or ‘gender equality’ or whatever coded buzzword you might otherwise prefer from the broad and varied menu on offer).

She sees herself as leading the leading source of the American Episcopalian cutting-edge support of racial equality, which she now sees as enhanced by gender-equality and for which utter flexibility as to abortion is just another civil-right waiting to be fully acknowledged after, of course, a tooooo-long history of ‘oppression’.

I have written just recently* about the many difficulties engendered by the politically strategic decision to cast feminism’s cause as legally a ‘civil rights’ matter, in order to surf the large waves that had already been churned up politically and legislatively by the assorted phases of the black civil-rights movement.

Nobody can be simply dismissed as ‘evil’ for having doubts about the wisdom of a general abortion ‘right’, or even about abortion in general.

But the article’s author, is careful to point out, carefully, that Ragsdale’s claim to be open to seeking “common ground” seems a bit odd. If she is now claiming – and under the auspices of religion and theology, in a way – a full-spectrum ‘right’ to abortion if any woman so chooses, then what ‘common ground’ can there ever be? ‘Consensus’ is indeed a necessary element of a democratic politics (for which sidestepping the necessarily long process of achieving such a ‘consensus’ by going ‘to the courts’ and lobbying legislators like any oil company or defense contractor – the Beltway approach, and thereby to enforce rather than achieve ‘consensus’ – was never a wise long-term option). But in some matters there’s hardly a way to achieve ‘common ground’ on the abortion matter, except perhaps within the very limited parameters of genuine life-threat to the mother or genuine rape, which is not at all what Ragsdale is going for.

It isn’t at all an indication of being on “the rabid right” to suggest that to compromise in this might seem uncomfortably close to finding ‘common ground’ or ‘consensus’ with the post-Weimar German initiative of euthanizing the mentally “unfit”, those lives-unworthy-of-life that would obstruct the racial and genetic integrity of the chosen Volk. In this case, the lifestyle choices and convenience of a self-chosen Identity, or at least of its lobbyists and radical cadres.

Nor is it accurate for Ragsdale and her supporters to dismiss their already-demonized opponents as a small fringe (so curiously, meseems, a mirror-image of Ragsdale’s cadres themselves). The ERA and the assorted collection of spin-off decisions from Griswold and Roe have demonstrated beyond doubt that there is a very great opposition indeed among the citizenry, sustained over the course of decades, and not simply by obstructive loonies but by people, male and female, of good will and some substantive thinking capacities.

Nor is it by any means clearly accurate to characterize such sustained opposition as merely the obstructionism of the unenlightened, or those who are so thoroughly deluded or co-opted in their assessment as to the state of affairs or as to the nature of reality itself that they can be dismissed with a truly revolutionary condescension as those who ‘just don’t get it’.

And finally, a note of duplicitiousness is introduced by Ragsdale herself: she claims to have been told by a bishop during her initial theological studies in 1985 that “he didn’t ordain lesbians”. She reports that at the time she didn’t even know she was a lesbian. This seems tactically convenient: she casts herself as the victim, on top of everything else, of an anti-homosexual bias. But I seem to have the clear and distinct impression that among most secure male homosexuals they report ‘knowing’ even before they reached the double-digit age of 10. Does it work differently for female homosexuals, the popularly-termed lesbians?

She says she is a lesbian now. Which raises the curious similarity with the old Roman Catholic situation of celibate priests (whether straight or gay) holding forth authoritatively to parishioners about ‘sex’.

But then, in her view of things, she’s not telling them whether to have sex or not; she’s simply fighting for ‘civil rights’, and in a matter which – much as they don’t like to mention it – the feministical cadres consider even more significant than black civil-rights. Wheeeee.

And of even deeper concern is the entire matter of just to what extent the testosterone-grounded ‘maleness’ – if I may – of lesbian females is sufficient to overcome the evolutionary dependence of the female of the species upon the experience of gestation and birthing and post-natal nurturing. If, as seems possible, lesbians are still quintessentially ‘female’ in the evolutionary scheme, then they may not be sexually attracted to males but are still very much susceptible to the ‘desire’ for the mothering experience.

Which leads toward a male-less conception, if not indeed toward a male-less world (except, in the more outré imaginings, such males as would be required to produce sperm for bank-deposit).

If for no other reason, such a possibility of such a ‘new world order’ might give male citizens pause; and not a few female citizens as well.

Even Hobbes saw the ‘family’ as the essential building block of society, no matter how dark his view of human affairs and the resulting need for a government Leviathan to keep order if human life and any level of civilization were to be preserved at all. Locke had a brighter view of human capacities, including the intelligence of females – and on that last point I very much agree with him, but both Hobbes and Locke were still convinced that government did not occupy the core position in the ordering of human society. And in that regard, the ideological or radical feminist lobbies’ disdain for ‘the family’ and ‘marriage’ may well run counter to some very profound human societal dynamics. Nor can simply ‘getting it’ and re-jiggering your imagination accordingly serve, surely not quickly and simply and without consequence, to override those utterly elemental realities.

So the inappropriately-named ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’ agenda of the present era may be a step in a very wrong direction.

And surely so, for any religion – whose purpose is to mediate the Beyond to its faithful, who , being human, not only prefer but seem fundamentally to need, some relationship with that Beyond in order to anchor and shape the profoundly indispensable Meaning and Purpose, the ground and the shape and the boundaries, of their individual and communal life.

Let Us indeed pray.


*See the Post ‘Their Ranters, Our Advocates” of June 3 on this site.

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