Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Extracts from the Little-Read Book: Chapter 035

Wit, wisdom, pseudonietzscheanistic aphorisms, and bad jokes.

* If you were to rewrite My Fair Lady so that Professor Higgins was (say) Condoleeza Rice and Eliza Doolittle was (say) named Rufus Willis.... but of course they'd never let you.

* Quote of the Day: "I made two mistakes in my time as President, and one of them is sitting on the Supreme Court." --President Dwight Eisenhower describing his misgivings about nominating Earl Warren, presumed to be a staunch conservative, to the Supreme Court, where Warren quickly showed he was very much aligned with the liberals Earl Warren was the man who sent the Japanese to American concentration camps.... and spent the rest of his life repenting it. At other people's expense. (Sometimes, as in Brown v. Board of Education, he actually got it right, though.)

* Every dollar not taxed is a personal abomination to a leftist.

* I keep getting flack from evolutionists because I’m a "creationist." (Yes, I’m looking at you, Charles Johnson of LGF.) Others flack me because I’m not a YOUNG EARTH creationist. Bah. I’m not interested in impressing the faithless. Me, I rely on the church that Christ personally founded. For all its faults, well, Catholicism is the worst church in the world except for all the alternatives.

* I keep hearing "Amnesty is unfair to people waiting in line!" So what? People get all upset about "illegal aliens voting." Yet they're eager to give a "vote" TO PEOPLE WHO HAVEN'T EVEN COME HERE YET. If we decide to give a break to people already here as a matter of public good and public security, those waiting patiently in line get absolutely no say whatsoever. Hiding behind 'people waiting in line' is lower than sphagnum moss.

* I hear sneers at the word "amnesty" for illegals. Well the illegals are here because we murdered 55 million people, half of whom would be working adults now. The parents of the aborted *got* their amnesty!

* From Wikipedia: "During this spring frenzy, hares can be seen "boxing"; one hare striking another with its paws (probably the origin of the term "mad as a March hare"). For a long time, this had been thought to be intermale competition, but closer observation has revealed it is usually a female hitting a male to prevent copulation." Yeah, I know what that’s like.

* I'm a very bad Catholic–but I am not worried about the eternal effect of my missing Mass. Christ knows--literally--He has so much to pick from if He's looking for a reason to send me to the down escalator.

* I do poor people law. It sucks, but someone has to do it.

* I despise the concept of the "private prison." Imprisonment is a function that MUST NOT be commercialized. There were two judges in Philly who owned 50% in the very private prison they were sending juveniles to. They each got 20+ years (one 28 years). Oh, they were white, and 100% of the kids they sent were not.

* The bedrock of the anti abortion movement is the fundamental belief that men are responsible for their flies. I am not talking about Victorian notions. I'm talking about objective morality binding on all humans since the beginning of time. If you don't want to pay for a child, don't screw Mom. Men don't have to f---. If you do, it's called "assumption of the risk." If you don't want to face this choice, to paraphrase Monopoly: do not pass COME, do not expend $200,000.

* Lefties love conservatives who turn coat. Yeh, the Ron Reagan syndrome.

* GMO producers should be punished as terrorists, Russian MPs say (rt.com)  He meant Kulaks of course. In the Russian tradition of how they treat productive corn growers.

* It sez here: I got Centaur! Which Mythical Creature Are You?  (www.buzzfeed.)  Humphrey Boggart.

Monday, November 24, 2014

REPOST Teledeception And The News
(Or: "This... is PNN")

"This is the Palantir News Network."
(Ran this first on September 17, 2012.)

Did you know that Lord of the Rings talked about television news?

Well, not directly. But J.R.R. Tolkien wrote about it quite prophetically. This is most astonishing in that TV news hadn't really been invented yet. (The first experimental TV broadcasts began in 1936 at the Berlin Olympics, but all TV broadcasts were terminated from the start of WW2 to 1945 – after LOTR was completed.)

But yes, Lord of the Rings talked about it a great deal.

In the LOTR universe, the Elves had once created seven great powerful items – the Seeing Stones, or Palantiri: "Far-Seers" (tele-vision). They were connected to one another, so that an individual who looked into one could see individuals looking into others.

By the time of the events of LOTR, only four of the original seven Seeing Stones were still in existence: one was held by Sauron, the great villain; one was held by the evil wizard Saruman; one was held by Denethor, the Ruling Steward of Gondor. A fourth one, off stage, was kept hidden by the Elves, unused.

"Now This."

What is fascinating about this was that every individual who used a Seeing Stone is deceived by it.

Saruman reveals early on that he sees a great, huge army in place by the hand of Sauron, so great and huge that it cannot possibly be overcome by force. He falls into despair and is tempted by Sauron to betray the West and to become his own, Sauron's, servant. He is deceived by what he sees as the overwhelming strength of the Enemy.

Denethor, the lord of Gondor, sees the same forces, a huge army that he knows cannot be defeated through military force. He, too, falls into despair; not into treason, but into suicidal depression and madness, ordering the death of his own son and heir by fire, and suddenly and eventually his own spectacular death in the flames.

He too is deceived by what he sees as the overwhelming strength of the Enemy.

The Hobbit Peregrin Took took hold of a captured Seeing Stone and stared into it, wanting to gain knowledge and power in his own small way. He mind was captured and examined by Sauron, and he was subjected to a great and horrible terror by staring into it. He was deceived by his wish to know too much.

And Sauron himself, the great and powerful wizard, all wise – he himself was deceived by it!

Sauron saw Peregrin's mind in the Stone and thought that Saruman was torturing Pippin by forcing him to stare into it. He knew that some Hobbit, somewhere, had his Great Ring; he thought that Peregrin had it: and revealed to Pippin, unwittingly, his plans to destroy Gondor through force majeure.  He was deceived by seeing in Pippin what he wanted to see, that is, Frodo, who truly had the Ring.

Finally, Aragorn declared himself King of Gondor by taking up the reforged sword Anduril and staring down Sauron through the Seeing Stone of Denethor. By this means he again deceived Sauron into making Sauron, think that he, Aragorn, was now bearing his Great Ring. Again, Sauron was deceived, and kept his eye on Aragorn, never watching his back door where the valiant Frodo and Sam crawled, ring in hand, to destroy it.

But Aragorn, too is deceived, or shown a lie by Sauron: he sees his great love, the elf Arwen, dead in her room (she lives).

Now why do the Palantiri deceive? Two reasons: for most viewers, the one who controls what is seen (i.e., Sauron) forces the viewer to see what he wants. Saruman and Denethor see overwhelming military force; Pippin sees torment and torture; Aragorn sees his love deceased. Their limited view, narrow focus and their preemption by the will of Sauron show the viewer what Sauron wants rather than the truth.

But it also deceives Sauron himself! -- by showing him what he wants to see: he wants to see the Ring Bearer, a hobbit; he sees a hobbit and sees the Ring Bearer. Even the Program Chief of this tiny TV network is deceived by his own vision device. (This is likely also one of the drawbacks of being an Evil Overlord; one tends not to trust one's trusted lieutenants and not hears contradictory advice. As Paul Simon put it, "The man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest... doo doo doo....")

So a Palantir is a dangerous tool indeed.

When the war is over, there are only two stones left; Sauron's is destroyed and the fourth one is removed from Middle Earth by ship. Both of those remaining stones are in the hands of the King of Gondor, and since they are colocated, they really do no good, and they are not noted as having any further effect on history.  It is likely they were never used again.

Why? Aragorn knew:

Every single instance of the use of the Seeing Stone deceived the viewer, in almost every instance, to their self-destruction.

Now, these are not exactly original insights; they are well known to fans of the LOTR world.... so well known that they are given in the Wikipedia blog entry for Palantir, which I did not consult prior to writing the above.... although I will confess that I may well have read it some time previously.  Nevertheless the points are valid. And the resemblance to the real world remain valid.

How does that relate to television news today?

Each of us now has a Seeing Stone in our living rooms: a TV set that can bring views of the world directly to our faces, our families, our children. Through it we can see scenes half a planet away, in close detail, repeated endlessly until it is drilled into our heads. Sometimes visions on that screen–the coffin of a martyred President, an aircraft demolishing a skyscraper–can haunt our dreams for a lifetime.

Can it be trusted as a source of the news, of what is most truly going on in the world?

My answer is a most decided no.

The problem with TV news is that it is supremely the product of the large organization that is necessary to bring it to your doorstep.

Every TV news company – NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, MSNBC, CNN – is an organization made up of thousands of individuals, from the bubble headed beach blonde who comes on at five down to the janitor lady pushing the broom when the lights are out. That organization is necessary because bringing the news from out there to here – a sight to a camera, a camera to a signal, a signal to a satellite, a satellite to the home office, where it is edited, transformed, shortened, edited again, put in context.... and turned into a two or three or four minute mini story with moving pictures, described to you by the aforementioned bleach blonde.... requires an organization.

And organizations are made up of people who need to eat.

TV news, therefore, is extremely dangerous. It must, must, be assumed by the wise viewer that almost every news story brought to you on TV is, to some extent or another, an organized lie.

Oh, not necessarily by intent. But the story requires hundreds of hands to make it happen. Those hundreds of hands have hundreds of mouths attached to them, not to mention those mouths' family member's mouths. It therefore requires vast amounts of money. To obtain that money, they must sell advertising. To sell advertising, they must get people to watch. To get them to watch, they must tell people what they want to hear! For if they don't people don't watch; if they don't watch, no money from advertisers. That simple.

Ergo and therefore, the news that is brought to your doorstep is brought to you in such a way that THEY (those who control the news) ... WHAT THEY THINK YOU WANT TO KNOW.

They don't bring stories that are 'too complicated for TV coverage' (like the budget deficit, the national debt, the massive sequestration of funds that will happen in January 2013, or any real details of the Obamacare package). They take complicated questions (should the USA fight in Iraq?) and turn them into simplistic 'grim milestones' like "Today the 8000th soldier died in Iraq."

They don't bring stories that will outrage their advertisers, or more importantly will outrage those who the advertisers are afraid of. For example, all stories about (say) "gay marriage" will support it (in order to avoid gay fascists from trying to force their advertisers to drop them).

They will not bring stories that go against what they themselves view as "obvious and true" such as (a) the Democrats being absolutely in favor of the little people or (b) the Republicans being the tools of nazis, white supremacists, or racists.

In order to find the truth of what you see on TV, you must supply an extremely careful and discerning eye. You must know the cant used by TV news broadcasters, must understand their ideological starting points, must look for the 'dog whistle' phraseology they use to transmit the real news, and look for the buried lede–the actual meaning of the story–which is forever given in the last 20% of the story.

In other words, you need to be in essence carefully trained to watch the TV news, otherwise you will be deceived.

If great and powerful wizards can be deceived by tiny screens, how much more vulnerable are the rest of us?

Robert A. Heinlein. Smart man.

I will admit to having a great hostility for the TV news.

I'm' an inveterate reader--and a trained intelligence analyst from my days in the Army.  Reading (and writing about what I read) is what I *do.*

There is something deeply dangerous out of watching the news on TV as opposed to reading it.

An analyst can read a news story and fairly easily identify the deception and slant found in that story. You can look at the source (NY Times, WashPost, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, etc.) and know immediately what kind of a slant you're going to get. If you read this stuff for a living, you can recognize who is trustworthy and who is not. You can read through a story and find the 'buried lede' fairly quickly, and you can extract poisonous deception (if you're trained to spot it) much as you can remove a bad mushroom or berry from a salad.

You can't do that with TV news. It goes directly through your forebrain into your emotional center with the pictoral impact; you watch the picture of the burning tank, the crashed plane, the yammering politico, or the bleach blonde, while the voice-over gives you the message approved by the corporate leadership of the news network. It is impossible to analyze, impossible (without great resources) to separate the wheat from the chaff--because it's neither wheat nor chaff, it's homogenized liquid with a significant, indeed deadly, poison thoroughly mixed within. You can't filter poison out of a poisoned drink!

I've been very fortunate: I live in a TV broadcast bowl; we can not receive broadcast TV in the precise spot where I live, and we do not have access to cable TV by choice. (I have three adolescent males in the house and if you think I'm going to have MTV vomit into my living room, think again!)  Thus, I'm pretty much restricted to print news via the internet.

I much prefer it that way. It's easier to extract poisonberries from a salad than poison from a poisonberry drink. And I am able to live my life in blissful ignorance of the meaning of certain cultural phenomena (oh, like "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," which I hadn't heard before Thursday).

There is a key scene in Orwell's 1984, where Winston Smith and his love Julia meet with O'Brien, the Inner Party member who they think will help them subvert the Party.

At the start of their meeting, Winston looks up and stares into the face of Big Brother on an oversized telescreen. O'Brien turns a switch, and the face disappears as the screen is disabled.

"You can turn it off!" says Winston in astonishment.

"Yes," O'Brien says. "We have that privilege."

Turn it off. You have that privilege.


A friend of mine sends the following:  

Excellent essay. I only have broadcast TV and Internet entertainment services, not cable. I don't watch TV news, and don't miss it. This post recalls Madeleine Albright's statement to Newsweek a few years ago about how she missed the 1960's-1970's situation of all the nation having the same three evening news broadcasts (ABC, CBS, NBC). She said that gave us a common narrative, that we all started discussion with the same facts, etc. I thought: anathema sit! Good riddance to that! Let me consult multiple sources and think carefully and form my own judgment. I don't need networks, all of whom are controlled by secular postmodernist-autonomists, setting the terms of discussion. In fact, that situation is actively harmful.

The same was true of metropolitan newspapers, which IMO abused their power as the major print gatherer of local news and have eminently deserved their decline. For decades in my hometown, the liberal daily paper set the terms of political discussion in the county. The paper is still influential, but it IMO doesn't have the absolute control it used to. I say: good riddance! Bring me the news, but don't try to make us all Democrats.
Palantir, indeed. I do just fine without TV news.


As I was saying: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2012/09/19/Rasmussen-internet-over-TV

Saturday, November 22, 2014

♪♪Ya Say Ya Want A Revoluuuushuuuunnnn.....♪♪

A very good and otherwise very sensible friend of mine, pissed off over ObAmnesty, just invoked the Declaration of Independence as justification for overthrowing Obama.

Sigh. Really, my dear friends.

We need some history here.

Let’s look at the list of George III's abuses that they cited in 1776 and see how many of them Obama has committed, shall we?....

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
Yes, but so what? Unlike George III, we GAVE him veto powers by electing him President, like or not.
He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
Some laws–particularly Arizona’s anti-immigration acts–actually meet this standard. (Whether it is good or bad it has been suspended is another question.)
He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
Nope. DC is a place usual, comfortable, and near the depository of its public records. Our representatives are fatigued, yes, however, but not his doing.
He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
Not yet.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
Quite the opposite. Congress has done precisely this. On the other hand, per the Constitution, that’s Congress’s job.
He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
Nope. Nominating useless leftist loser judges is NOT the same as obstruction as Georgie 3 liked to do.
He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
Nope. US Constitution prevents this.
He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
Okay, got him on that one.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.
Nope. He’s actively tried to REDUCE the military and standing armies, and so far Congress has gone along with the gag.
He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.
Nope. Quite the opposite.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
Well, this is arguably yes, if you believe that citing the United Nations’s various “Conventions” in court documents and so on counts.
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
Nope. They stay on base or in their own homes.
For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:
Nope. Although some might argue Ferguson applies. (I don’t so argue!)
For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:
Hardly. Foreign trade is as lucrative as ever.
For imposing taxes on us without our consent:
Arguably yes, particularly through the ACA.
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:
Nope, except for those schmoes at Gitmo, and they aren’t Americans so they don’t count....
For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
Ditto above.
For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:
Um, get back to me on this one if/when Obama conquers Canada.
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:
Giving 4 million poor Mexicans work cards may–MAY–qualify.
For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
Nope. Believe me if he could suspend the next Congress, he would.
He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.
Um, no.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the head of a civilized nation.
Nobody believes this but overheated Michigan Militia types.
He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
The closest we could come if his peeps are behind the agitation at Ferguson, which I don’t believe for a nanosecond.

28 charges of which Obama has arguably committed two or VERY arguably committed four more.

In other words, get a grip peeps. Obama’s acts do not reach the point of calling for revolution!

Two more years.

We can wait two more years.

(((shaking head)))

Fridge Pics: Memes of the Week 11/16-11/22, 2014


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Tattered Remnant in Jerusalem

Druze-born Israeli policeman Zidan Sayif died yesterday at an Israeli synagogue where terrorists murdered four rabbis at prayer.

His sacrifice preserved the lives of the survivors.

A true TR.

To quote the traditional benediction: May his memory be a blessing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Extracts from the Little-Read Book: Chapter 034

Wit, wisdom, pseudonietzscheanistic aphorisms, and bad jokes.

* It sez here: Are Democrats getting too liberal? (washingtonpost.com) That question was answered last week with a resounding "yes." Leftists ALWAYS overreach. The only question ever is: how much damage will they do before power is struck from their hands?

*  The reason I fight Homeland Security is because after the next 9/11, Congress can, and probably will, turn IMMIGRATION COURT (a kangaroo system that can deport "them") into CITIZENSHIP COURT (a kangaroo court that can internally deport YOU, say, to Alaska).  My job is to hold their feet to the fire.

* Demilitarize the cops. "More Mayberry, less Fallujah."

* It sez here: Nancy Pelosi to Accept Award Honoring Black-Hating Eugenicist Margaret Sanger (tpnn.com) The Joseph Mengele Memorial Medical Center voices its approval.

* Welcome to the German language: Mit hugeunreadablesesquipedelianwordscrammedtogetherunreadably with the verb at the end of a very long sentence finally coming.

* It sez here:An (Eastern, it figures) German city wants ‘green police’ to raid homes to enforce electric heater ban" (dailycaller.com) Not an idea lacking in German historical precedent.

* The leftist self-title "Coalition of the Ascendant" to be unbearably snobby and bears the seeds of its own destruction.... as the election just proved. "Coalition of the Ascendent"? Only in the sense of their noses.

* Basia Trzetrzelewska. Polish jazz singer from the 90s. Still has an awesome voice--but the old grey mare ain't what she used to be! (Google image a recent pic of her and, alas, you will understand.)

* Politics is showbusiness with live ammo. Statesmanship is politics with nukes.

* The first piece of genetically modified anything I ever saw was firefly genes added to a tobacco plant--resulting in (no shit) a glow-in-the-dark living tobacco plant. Cool, yet scary. I gots no trouble with DNA research given proper controls. What I fear in this department is the 'decentralization' of genetic research--when it becomes possible for the GE equivalent of script-kiddie hackers start mucking around with microbes' DNA in their garages. Remember, all we need to do is screw up ONE microbe and we're back in 1350. Yes, I have probably read "The Stand" once too many times.... yes, I *do* Fear the Reaper! Y. Pestis is not your friend!

* "....and He said 'Let the one of you who is without sin cast the first stone!'. And a rock came out of the mob and hit the woman square on the noggin. And Jesus said, 'Mother, I'm trying to make a point here....!'"

* Biden is no dummy.... for a dummy cannot speak. Alas.

* What came first, the chicken or the egg? Answer: The egg, laid by the last of the protochickens.

* Now, remember, bird, as soon as we get over the top of Mount Doom, you drop the ring into the lava. 'k? (Of course, nobody would have read THAT short story!)

* Which reminds me of the world’s shortest Star Trek episode, entitled "The Logical Thing To Do." Sarek: "you’re WHAT?" Amanda: "You heard me!" (Roll end credits.)

* It sez here:   Sandra Fluke: ‘‘I’d rather be a captive Nigerian girl than touched by a Republican’’ duhprogressive.com Shudder. At least now the people of California have spoken, and Ms. Fluke has taken her rightful place somewhere insignificant on the ashheap of history. Good riddance.

* Accepting the specious* equating of opposition to gay marriage with anti-gay violence opens the door to persecution of religious believers because they will not submit to a bogus law. (*"Specious": lawyerese for "bullshit.")

* No matter how bad Obama is–and he is unimaginably bad–the next Democrat President will be even worse. Even Hillary.

* If Republicans were stuffing the ballot boxes the Democrats would turn the country upside down to stop it.

* You call the GOP obstructionist? Of course we are. We must be obstructionist to treason, madness and evil. Not to mention theft, plunder, and self-aggrandizement.

* PS if the people didn't want the GOP to obstruct they wouldn't have elected them.

* In the end, Obama but one of several items on the floor of the Augean Stables. Time to commence the river-diversion project.

* No, not buying that Jesus is coming here any time soon. If the Universe is 13.7 billion years old, then the Second Coming in the year 20,000 AD is still "soon" by the Cosmic scale. I’m not looking for Jesus to come here any time soon. (Much more likely I will go see HIM. But, alas, likely for no more than a few minutes.)

More Thursday.

Monday, November 17, 2014

We now return you to your regularly scheduled GREG'S GIGGLES!

Ladies ‘n’ germs, Mr. GREG SCHANKIN!

*  A man in Florida has been sentenced to six months in prison for stockpiling weapons at a compound just 11 miles from Disney World. Eleven miles from Disney World? So . . . in the parking lot?

*  Sesame Street turned 45 years old. If you are not familiar with it, Sesame Street is how we entertained our children before we could just hand them an iPhone.

*  Things have changed on Sesame Street since 1969 when it first went on. The street itself is totally gentrified. It's all Muppet hipsters now. And Oscar's garbage can is a fair-trade coffee shop. Mr. Hooper's store is a Lululemon. Cookie Monster is gluten free.

*  President Obama is in China. Also in China is evil Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. They're both in China at the same time. It's like running into your ex-girlfriend on vacation.

*  "Sons of Anarchy" is the No. 1 show in its time slot. They were No. 2 but then they had the No. 1 show executed in an abandoned warehouse.

*  Critics love "Sons of Anarchy." Critics have called the show "Hamlet on motorcycles," which is better than the original concept — "Macbeth on Segways."

*  "Sons of Anarchy" takes place in a fictional California town filled with degenerates and endless mayhem. They had to choose between making it a fictional town in California or any real town in Florida.

*  Last week was a great week for the great state of Texas. The last person being tested for Ebola has come back clean. So Texas is now Ebola free. This was a big week for them. They're now free of Ebola — and Democrats.

*  Democrats in state legislatures are at their lowest level since the 1920s. President Obama has a can't-miss strategy to save the party in 2016. He's leaving.

*  They say that the Taj Mahal casino in Jersey is about to close because unprofitable. Hmn. A casino called "Taj Mahal". I have often wondered if somewhere in India there is not a gambling establishment that looks just like the Lincoln Memorial.

*  In an effort to boost ticket sales, the country's largest movie theater chain, Regal Entertainment, is adding motion, smells, wind, rain, and even bubbles to certain theaters — or you can go the cheaper route and watch Netflix on your phone in a car wash.

*  PepsiCo is developing a Doritos Mountain Dew called Dewitos. I think I’ll wait until they come out with Diet Dewitos.

*  It's unclear when Dewitos will be released. But if it does come out, stoners are going to have some very tough choices to make. Do I eat my Doritos or drink them?

*  I'm working on a combination of Ruffles and Red Bull. It tastes like America at its worst.

*  Amazon has a new digital assistant. It's their version of Apple's Siri. It's called Echo. They say it's going to revolutionize the way we loudly repeat ourselves at electronic devices.

*  President Obama and Vladimir Putin were both in China attending the same economic summit this past week. Obama saw Putin and said, "After those midterms, it's nice to finally see a friendly face."

*  Pepsi has a new Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew. No, we don't have an Ebola vaccine, but we do have the Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew.

*  You know Kim Jong Un, the evil dictator of North Korea? Apparently, a guy in his inner circle used his ashtray while smoking and Kim Jong Un had him executed. I remember the same thing happened when a guy used Martha Stewart's personal lemon zester.

*  President Obama is in China. Today he visited the kids who make our cellphones.

*  Obama took a tour of the Great Wall of China and said, "We need one of these things around the White House." (Republicans in the party were more inclined to Texas.)

*  A new book claims that Jesus had a wife and two kids. In other words, he suffered even more than we thought.

*  And the Pharisee asked: "....which of the seven brothers was the woman’s husband in heaven?" Answered Jesus: "There is no marriage in Heaven." Pharisee: "There isn’t?" Jesus: "It’s Heaven. Like, duh."

Thththththtat’s all, fffffolks.....

Sunday, November 16, 2014

BEEN AFK......

...back to normal this week. Promise. RLK.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Armistice Day Repost:
Tattered Remnants:
The Desert One Expedition 1980


An Ignominious Glory: Heroes of the Desert One Fiasco, April 24, 1980

(Editor's note: 9/11/2012 was not the only embassy related disaster in American history. Here is its direct predecessor.....)

"Then out spoke brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate:
‘To every man upon this earth Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods?"

-Thomas Babingdon, Lord Macaulay

In the course of the Tattered Remnants series I have tried to bring attention to a few individuals who have stepped into the breach, sometimes without so much as a moment's warning or a single word of encouragement, and attempted to stand up and do what was right in the face of overwhelming force, danger and resistance, tothe cost even of their own self destruction.

I've deliberately passed over whole classes of individuals in this series, and for good reason. Generally speaking, I don't talk about politicians, who seem to have endless opportunities to pat themselves on the back or at least enrich themselves even if they start out as Tattered Remnants.

Likewise, I have tried to avoid including the military in my list of Tattered Remnants, even though those entering the military profession are almost always those that have the "TR nature." Sure, there are many who go into uniform because they're young and immature and need training to become adults; many others go in (at least in the United States) for the relatively comfortable salaries, guaranteed room-and-board, and the chance to see the world. But most of those of any nation who choose to wear their nations' uniform do so out of a love of country and a desire to contribute to their peoples' well-being.

But the military life also has its distinct rewards. On the whole, the military profession makes a point of compensating its best with a public honors. In the UK, great soldiers are granted titles and knighthoods (and sometimes even the crown); here in the USA, we cover them with medals. The military hero is also recognized in many other ways, from elaborate headstones and beautiful cemeteries, to patriotic public holidays (of which we have no less than three), and, for the very rarest of honors, the song. ("To the everlasting glory of the Infantry, shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young!", goes one such famous ballad.)

It would be very easy for me to use any of a number of great military heroes to show the Tattered Remnant spirit in uniform. The obvious candidates are the Few who stopped the Luftwaffe over London in 1940. But, being cheerfully American, I might rather look to those who led us to victory at D-Day, or those Navy airmen who sank four Japanese carriers at Midway, or those Army warriors who liberated any of a hundred Nazi camps, or those Marines that stopped the Hun at Belleau Woods, or perhaps those of the 20th Maine who stopped the South at Little Round Top and saved the Union.

But the well known heroes are already honored (by definition).

I could, rather, look to the honorably defeated: history remembers the 300 at Thermopylae, the defenders at the Alamo, Chinese Gordon and his men at Khartoum (albeit our sympathies these days are with the Sudanese who killed them), the 400 or so at the Warsaw ghetto--to die in defense of one's nation, even in hopelessness and defeat, is not lacking in its own glories.

But what of those who seemingly pointlessly die in fubars, snafus, and operational botches? Who die self-defeated to the great humiliation of their nation?

Could it be that even they may be worthy of remembrance?

To illustrate the spirit of military self-sacrifice at its finest--to give ones life even in disasterous defeat--let me do honor to those who are apparently the greatest military failures known to us: those who died in what was viewed, at the time, as the most humiliating, devastating and, yes, embarrassing of American defeats. They died in a military blunder far from home and far from help, doomed by poor preparation by layers of command far above their own. The mission that they went on was a fiasco by every possible measure, and they were self-defeated without the enemy even knowing that they were present.

For in so dying they brought about, in the following years, our most amazing victory, that which came over the Soviet Union. Their sacrifice lay in being a casualties to bad planning, bad equipment, and insufficient training: deficiencies which, as a result, were largely remedied in the years that followed (if only just in time).

The disaster rings down now, lo, these thirty years later. For the disaster at Desert One remains, to this day, a disgrace and an embarrassment to the United States: and yet without it, we might not have bloodlessly won the Cold War. By this defeat we saved the world from a nuclear holocaust.


A. Some History, Ancient and Modern

Once upon a time, a very, very long time ago, there was a country known as "Persia", a corruption of the name "Fars," which is one of its provinces (much as the Netherlands is also known by the name "Holland"). The name Iran is, however, associated with the word "Aryan," the ancient horse-people that conquered the preliterate world; the country took this name in the 1930s, when "Aryanism" was held in respect by, er, certain countries.

The ancient Persians conquered Babylon and their great king, Cyrus, returned the People of Israel to their homeland. In the centuries that followed, the Zoroastrian/pagan Persians were the great Eastern enemies of the Roman empire and on occasion even captured Roman Emperors in battle. It was against the Persians that Marcus Crassus, the wealthy third member of the Roman First Triumvirate, fell in battle in Iraq. Later, the Persians played a major role in the spread of Islam to their east, into India and the Turkic lands of central Asia.

But sometimes empires strike out. By the early 1920s, the old Qajar dynasty of the Iranian imperial line was in its final days. The last Shah of the old dynasty was ineffective and weak, and was presently replaced in all but name by the head of his guard, one Reza Khan. Reza took the name Pahlavi, and having forced the old Shah into exile, was declared Reza Pahlavi, "Shahanshah", King of Kings, or Emperor.

The new Shah ruled, well, imperially, per his title. His goal was the modernization and development of his country. To that end, he needed funds, and to get those funds he entered into agreements with British and American oil companies. However, those oil interests became deeply entrenched, as he soon found. He turned to Germany's influence to counter that of the Western powers.

When, in 1941, the darkest days of the War against the Nazis, Shah Reza tried to expel the Westerners. This was intolerable; soon the British and the Soviets together worked to expel Shah Reza Pahlavi and replace him with his then youthful son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was in his 22nd year.

It was necessary at that time to take that step, as the railroad through Iran to Russia was vital to supplying the Soviet war effort against Nazi Germany, and suppressing Nazi influence in Iran was imperative. However, it deepened Western control over the leadership of that nation, deeply resented both by Iran's political and intellectual classes as well as by its Islamic institutions. The long term consequences of this act continue to play themselves out to this day.

In 1953, the Emperor, no longer a youth, was overthrown by the prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, who favored nationalizing the oil companies and expelling the British and Americans. Again, this was intolerable; Iran bordered Stalinist Russia and a rapproachment with them was also unacceptable. So US and British intelligence agencies arrested Mossadegh, and restored Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to his throne, where he sat secure for another quarter century.

B. The Iranian Revolution

In the late 1970s, the imperial Iranian regime was on its last legs. Although it held thousands of political prisoners, a broad coalition of opponents of the regime–including Islamic clerics, Communist intellectuals, and liberals advocating a westernized democracy–united against the Shah. Iranian university students world wide made a nuisance of themselves while massive street demonstrations in Tehran and elsewhere demonstrated the Shah's weakening hold.

Between pressure from the streets, the general weakening of Western will, the feckless Carter administration in Washington, and the Shah's own deteriorating health due to cancer, the Shah's political backing buckled and, in February 1979, he fled his country. He eventually came to the United States so that his cancer could be treated.

The new revolutionary regime in Iran took control on his departure. It was at first a coalition, but as time progressed clearly a regime of Islamist supremacists united in the desire to create a totally Islamist state was in place. The transitional regime was itself overthrown and those former revolutionaries who supported a democratic or socialist course for the country were quickly arrested.

All power was soon given over to the Grand Ayatollah, Imam Ruhollah Khomeini. Iran was now nominally a republic (resembling that of United States!--a lefthanded complement that the Iranians could never acknowledge). It was, however, a sham, created to give a figleaf of popular authority to religious autocracy, even if some of its institutions were nominally democratic.

The powers that be in the West, in particular President Jimmy Carter, could not make heads or tails out of the new regime. They looked at it through the lens of the long struggle with the Soviets and it fit none of their preconceived notions. It wasn't communistic or socialist, which pleased them somewhat; nevertheless, they had no comprehension that with the Khomeini regime a new, or perhaps a resurrected ancient, enemy of the West was arising. Every attempt by Carter and his cohorts to reach out to the new regime failed for reasons clear to us now but bewildering to them.

In short, the Iranian revolutionaries took their faith absolutely literally and made every decision on that basis. And Jimmy Carter and his crew, who only nominally understood their own Christian faith, could not understand this new Islamic mindset that confronted them.

They did not comprehend what the goals of the regime were: in short, that the Islamists who now ruled Iran wanted nothing less than the overthrow of Western style democracy everywhere and its replacement by absolutist Islamic teachings and Islamic law in the Shiite tradition.

The Iranian fundamentalists, for their part, looked at the world under the impression that God Himself wanted them to destroy the West and could not themselves understand anything about Western life that could be viewed positively, as 'freedom', to them, meant only 'freedom to sin'. This mutual lack of comprehension led to endless blundering in the days ahead.

C. The Hostage Crisis

The United States got a forewarning of what was to come during the revolution of February 1979, when students briefly occupied the US embassy. That occupation ended quickly; the students were expelled by government forces intent on keeping some sort of Western structure to their nation.

As a consequence of this incident, the US reduced its personnel footprint in Iran to an absolute minimum, but still there remained on the order of fifty or so diplomatic personnel on station in Iran. They remained in place as the Carter administration desired to have a continuous source of information and intelligence on developments in Iran–a not irrational choice, given the entirely new developments that Iran was currently undergoing. However, of the three CIA officers in place, none spoke Farsi.

On November 4, 1979, the embassy was again occupied by a mob of several hundred students. The US diplomatic personnel, as well as a handful of US citizens who were in the embassy on business, were taken hostage; many were paraded blindfolded before a mob and television cameras in what is today an indelible image of American humiliation.

Carter and his administration was already reeling from post-Vietnam self-doubt, "stagflation" (a combination of inflationary monetary policies and low growth stemming from overtaxation) and a national lassitude and loss of faith in the American mission that is now known as "The Malaise". Carter and his team were confounded by the challenge before them.

For the first few weeks following the taking of the hostages, it appeared likely that a diplomatic solution could be found. Most of the women and African American hostages were freed early on; one other was freed in July 1980 after he fell ill. The remaining 52 hostages remained in Iranian custody in various conditions of torment (at worst) or harassment and deliberate annoyance (at best) for the whole of the 444 day crisis.

A series of negotiations were undertaken, and they had a pattern: an Iranian diplomat would suggest this or that solution, Carter would agree with it, plans would move forward... and then, at the last minute, the Ayatollah Khomeini would veto the deal. Then two weeks later, the cycle would renew itself. And Carter kept falling for it, like Charlie Brown attempting to boot Lucy's football.

D. The Bear In The Woods: The Soviet Factor

There was also a general darkening of the geopolitical picture worldwide. While the American government became fixated on the Iranian difficulty, the geriatric leaders of the Soviet Union had problems of their own. In what was later seen as the beginning of the second Russian revolution, the Soviet leadership under the senescent Leonid Brezhnev, which only five years earlier had celebrated the pinnacle of its imperium when South Vietnam was conquered, itself began to crack. Its regime in Afghanistan began to totter and the extremists in power there seemed to be on the verge of being overthrown.

As a result, the Soviets, on December 21, 1979–-only weeks after the embassy was taken in Tehran–-took over Afghanistan and executed its president for incompetence, placing a puppet regime in power. A long, cruel war followed in which up to one million Afghans died over the next nine years. In the US, it was feared that the Soviet thrust into Afghanistan was preparatory to a possible lunge into Iran and thence to the oil fields in the Middle East.

But Afghanistan was not the only troubled area that confronted the Soviet leadership. In Poland, the Solidarity trade union movement presented Eastern Europe with its first challenge to Soviet authority since the Czechoslovakian invasion of 1968. In Britain, The Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, took power and presented the Soviets with the first British leader since Churchill who understood that strength, not weakness, was necessary when confronting Soviet aggression. At the same time, the newly elected Polish pope, Karol Woytila, John Paul II, confronted the Soviets with a spiritual force, radically different than that of the Ayatollahs, that it could not easily contain.

Thus the Soviets were facing unprecedented internal challenges to their authority which made them extremely dangerous. And President Carter, after years of naive acceptance of Soviet good intentions, imposed sanctions on the Soviets. Following the Afghan invasion, he embargoed the sale of American grain to the Soviets; furthermore, he boycotted the Moscow Olympics, cut cultural ties, and started the military buildup which in later years would be called the "Reagan Buildup."

The world was sliding toward conflict, and the continued hostage crisis could not long be borne. It was in this atmosphere that the plan to rescue the hostages began to take form.

E. Operation Eagle Claw: The Rescue Operation

As the winter of 1979 melted into the spring of 1980, Carter's standing nationwide dropped dramatically. He hid out in the White House while his hold even on the Democratic nomination for president slipped. Opponents to his weak willed administration coalesced around Edward Kennedy; only Teddy's ineffectual defense of his ambition before a television interviewer saved the United States from another Kennedy Administration.

In the face of this, Carter decided that only a heroic rescue of the hostages could allay doubts as to his leadership and abilities to lead the Western World. He therefore gave the order for the United States military to assemble a strike team to penetrate deep into Iraq, free the 53 hostages, and bring them home again. Had he accomplished this, he would have very likely been reelected, and the entire history of the end of the 20th Century would have been dramatically changed.

But there was much to be overcome. Where the Iranians did not necessarily have day to day surveillance over the American fleet that had gathered in the Gulf, the Soviets did, through trawlers that shadowed the American fleet. They saw that American aircraft carriers held helicopters topside–the identities of which were known by sight by any analyst worth his salt. We knew this--and this caused our first blunder.

For the helicopters topside on American aircraft carriers were RH-53D Navy minesweeping helicopters, intended not for long range missions–but for close-in surveillance. This range limitation was caused by a simple fact: the RH-53D were incapable of in flight refuelling. But replacing the helicopters with something that could have been refueled in flight would have alerted the Soviet trawlers–and through them, the Iranians–that a rescue mission was offing.

The plans, therefore, required that the copters stop somewhere between the aircraft carriers and the rescue points in Tehran to be refueled. They chose a spot in the middle of the South Iranian desert; this spot would be given the name Desert One.

The second mistake grew from interservice rivalry stemming from the prestige of the mission. All who participated in the planning process knew that, if it were successful, it would rank with the great Western military triumphs of the 20th Century: the liberation of the Entebbe raid on July 4, 1976; the American landings at Inchon, Korea in 1950; even the American invasion of D-Day.

Accordingly, all the different services wanted a piece of the action, and one of the medals that would no doubt be awarded to all and sundry once the hostages returned in triumph. Therefore, every service had to have a place in the picture. And it was this mutual competitiveness for glory, medals and Defense budget funding in future years that engendered a cross-hatched command structure that degraded planning and operations tremendously.

The third mistake that was made was overly tight secrecy. The plan was so secret that nobody below the four-star level had the slightest clue as to what was really going on. As such, as each section of the team was separately trained, the parts were expected to mesh together perfectly when nobody had had a chance to rehearse as a team prior to the launching of the mission itself. As it developed, the rescue team trained separately from the pilots, who trained separately from the mechanics, who trained... etc. As things went forward, the fact that nobody had worked together prior to the commencement of the mission doomed it from the very beginning.

The fourth and final mistake was made at the highest levels, by President Carter himself. Out of either caution in the face of Soviet expansionism or, what can (charitably) be called an undue aversion to the use of force, he decreed that the unit sent to rescue the hostages must be no larger than the absolute bare minimum required for success. Given that 50 or more hostages were held, they required six helicopters to carry out the mission, for fewer were unable to carry the men and women held by the Iranians. But President Carter would only allow a maximum of eight copters, allowing for a cushion of two for the mission to go forward. More copters would have made the mission a possible success, but would have required more refuelling craft.

Teams scouted out areas forward to prepare the way. Desert One was identified by CIA officers on the ground; a second landing zone, designated Desert Two, was also chosen outside of Tehran proper for the hostages to join the copters once they were extracted from the embassy by a hidden team of warriors secreted in place on the ground. Other well-laid plans were in place using ground agents of the CIA and other organizations, awaiting the arrival of the eight helicopters.

F. The Fateful Day: April 24, 1980

Early in the morning of that fateful day, the rescue force took off from their respective starting points: four fix-winged aircraft left from Egypt, followed by eight helicopters leaving the U.S.S. Nimitz and other carriers in the Persian Gulf.

The first helicopter went down two hours into the mission when an indicator light showed a malfunction with the blades. Rather than risk continuing the mission in an incapable aircraft, a second copter landed with the troubled craft and took the crew on board. The eight copters were now down to seven.

Secondly, a low level 'haboob' – a sandstorm, the existence of which was unknown to the copter pilots – caused an electrical malfunction to another copter, which abandoned the mission and returned to the Nimitz. The mission was now down to the bare minimum of six helicopters. One more and the mission would have to be abandoned.

The six helicopters rendezvoused with the four fix winged aircraft. Two of them carried out refuelling functions and per plan left Desert One for Egypt. During preflight inspections, however, one of the remaining six helicopters displayed a bad indicator light, showing that that helicopter was not fit for the remaining flight to the rescue point at Desert Two. The ground commander determined that the mission could not possibly go forward with five helicopters and the mission was scrubbed. Word was transmitted back to the White House, which responded immediately, affirming the scrub order. Word went down for the mission to be abandoned.

Then the crowning disaster struck. One of the helicopters, changing positions prior to departure, moved forward and then crashed into a C-130 refuelling craft on the ground. Eight men were killed instantly in the conflagration. The survivors left, leaving the corpses of the dead and the wreckage of the destroyed aircraft on the ground.

It seemed at that time that it was the end of the military pretensions of the United States. Eight burned corpses, three burned aircraft, and half-destroyed abandoned helicopters holding classified documents identifying American CIA operatives and sympathizers in Iran were left behind in the sands of Desert One. Eight Americans and, accidentally, one Iranian civilian, lay dead in the sand.

G. Aftermath of the Disaster
The corpses of the dead were taken to Tehran and put on display by the Revolutionary Government of Iran.

The American national humiliation that followed caused a side effect that was most unexpected: the revival and return to respectability of both American patriotism in popular culture and of the United States military, which, in the five years following the fall of Saigon, had been an object of derision and loathing among most young Americans of those days.

Prior to the Iranian disaster, to 'wind up in the Army' was the booby prize of American youth culture; a military career was to be avoided at all costs. Furthermore, Vietnam veterans faced a national shunning that even included employment discrimination–eventually requiring Federal legal action to prevent.

But in the days that immediately followed the Iran disaster, military service began once more to be seen as a fundamentally good thing, a way to contribute, not merely a place to spend one's career for lack of anything better to do. The quality of those enlisting shot up dramatically and shortfalls in enlistments, endemic in those days, began to abate.

The national aversion to patriotic displays also began to abate as well. In the late 1970s, again as a result of the Vietnam experience, Americans, and especially young Americans, tended to stifle any patriotic displays in public. Such ceremonies such as the Pledge of Allegiance had largely disappeared from classrooms, and events such as Memorial Day parades saw their attendance drop. When Superman (The Movie) was released in 1978, in the scene where he told Lois Lane that "I am here to fight for truth.... justice... and the American way!" loud snickers were heard in the audience.

After the Iran debacle, the combination of national shame and rage at the Iranian clerics caused a backlash. At first, the displays of the new patriotism were crude; there was a sudden appearance of Mickey Mouse t-shirts with Mickey displaying his middle finger with one hand and holding an American flag with another. A general aversion to things Iranian followed--not Islamic, but Iranian–which showed America's fundamental misunderstanding as to the nature of the new difficulty facing us.

However, the most important development lay in the new, general cultural acceptance of a need for a military buildup. Only seven years after the end of the draft, the Carter administration laid the groundwork for a new draft. Registration was now being required for those turning 18 in 1979. This requirement was accepted without a qualm as millions of young American males filled out their draft registrations in the spring of 1980. Only half a decade after Vietnam, there were no draft protests.

As the spring progressed it was generally seen that the Jimmy Carter brand of 'Detente' in the face of Soviet aggression and weakness in the face of a new fascism was unacceptable to the American people, and they turned to the Republican candidate for President: the self-same Ronald Reagan who had been derisively mocked at Woodstock as "Ronald Ray-Gun (zap)". In November 1980, Reagan decisively beat Carter in the Presidential election and a new era commenced.

The Iranian fascination with taunting Jimmy Carter, however, was itself distracted by historical developments. In mid-1980, Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, decided that he saw military weakness in his larger neighbor and, in September, ordered an invasion into the western provinces of Iran. The Iranians, now facing a major land war from a neighbor, decided that the United States was less important a threat than the Iraqis, and they turned away from the "hostage crisis."

The election of Reagan in November 1980 was noticed in Iran and both sides saw an opportunity to put an end to the whole affair. As a "goodwill gesture," the 52 remaining American hostages and the bodies of the dead American soldiers from Desert One were released and returned to the United States as Reagan took his oath of office. The "Hostage Crisis" was over after 444 days.


Eight men died in the Desert One fiasco. Their names were:

Major Richard L. Bakke, USAF, born 13 May 1948
Sergeant John D. Harvey, USMC, born 30 May 1958
Corporal George N. Holmes, Jr., USMC, born 20 July 1957
Staff Sergeant Dewey L. Johnson, USMC, born 26 May 1948
Major Harold L. Lewis Jr., USAF, born 26 February 1945
Technical Sergeant Joel C. Mayo, USAF, born 26 October 1945
Major Lyn D. McIntosh, USAF, born 11 October 1946
Captain Charles T. McMillan, USAF, born October 4, 1951

A headstone stands today at Arlington National Cemetery in memory of their sacrifice:


It's a very small monument, not much, really.

They deserve better. There is a very real chance that, in sacrificing their lives, these men, and the band of brothers who served with them, made possible American victory in the Cold War, as their loss highlighted the paper tiger that was the American military in 1980.

It might even be said that lives brought about the election of an American President who was able to bring the Cold War to a victorious end. (The thought of Jimmy Carter facing off against the wily and evil Yuri Andropov, the butcher of Budapest, does not bear thinking about.)

Churchill's honoring of the Few can now, in retrospect, be given to the eight who died--as well as to the others who served in a futile and disasterous mission, made glorious now only with thirty years' perspective.

God rest and remember them all.


Although America remembers 9/11 as the gravest insult that America ever suffered since Pearl Harbor, there was one event associated with the rescue attempt that still stinks in the nostrils among those who remember that time. For after the disaster, ayatollahs of Iran showed a vengeful barbarism unmatched these thousand years.

The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ordered that the wreckage left behind by the American hostage rescue attempt be used to humiliate the United States; he understood the particular care and affection that Americans have for their deceased soldiers. So he ordered his subordinates, foremost among them the "Hanging Ayatollah," Ayatollah Sadagh Khalkhali, to desecrate the American casualties.

Khalkhali was a man of remarkable vengeance and bitter hatreds. He was the point man for the ayatollas' dirty work; he it was that executed large numbers of 'enemies' of the Islamist regime. He also destroyed many public monuments, including the tomb of the Shah's father. Wikipedia tells the following story about him:
Khalkhali is famous for ordering the executions of Amir Abbas Hoveida, the Shah's long time prime minister ..... according to one report, after sentencing Hoveida to death, "pleas for clemency poured in from all over the world and it was said that Khalkhali was told by telephone to stay the execution. Khalkhali replied that he would go and see what was happening. He then went to Hoveida and either shot him himself or instructed a minion to do the deed. 'I'm sorry,' he told the person at the other end of the telephone, 'the sentence has already been carried out.'"
After the rescue mission, Khalkhali ordered the corpses of the dead American servicemen be brought to Tehran; before television cameras he reached into the canvas body bags and extracted burned limbs and skulls of the good men who died trying to rescue their fellow Americans. He gloated as he displayed these dead things: the lifeless limbs of honorable men who died in the best of causes, even if inexpertly carried out; each one, even the lowest ranking, far greater a man than he could ever be.

Americans remember with rage and pain the insult of 9/11. Furthermore, history is replete with barbarians displaying the corpses of their enemies. But there is something particularly dark, even Satanic, about the behavior of these Men of God on this occasion.

And yes, they were Men of God of a sort, which actually damns them deeper. Ayatollahs are the "archbishops" of Shiite Islam; they are men, according to their own beliefs, annointed by God to bring their people closer to Him through better observance of the Islamic faith. And yet they committed what can only be called an act of self-befoulment in this display, waving around charred limbs and skulls in an act of savagely primitive triumphalism.

In the written history of man, this clerical abomination has only one parallel: the so-called Synodus Horridus, the Cadaver Synod of the deceased Pope Formosus, carried out in 897 AD by Pope Stephen, seventh of that name, Formosus' immediate successor. Stephen placed the corpse of the dead pope on a throne--probably the darkest and most depraved act in the history of mediaeval Christianity. This is the level to which the Ayatollahs had sunk.

Americans surely wish the names of these two men be erased, but then we are biased.

History, however, has its own way of making its judgment known.

In 1989, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini died, and at what is euphemistically called his "first funeral", a deranged mob dragged his corpse from his coffin and trampled it underfoot.

The Ayatollah Khalkhali lived until 2003, dying at last in the holy city of Qom; the cause of death, a diseased heart.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Ghost of J. Crow

Here's something I just found out canoodling with Census figures:

If the GOP is racist because of Nixon's Southern Strategy.... what does that mean?

It means that "The GOP is racist because some people who vote GOP once voted for Jim Crow laws in the Old South."

This is objective bullshit, and I can prove it.

Okay. Let's figure out what happened. They passed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in 1964, and it they went into effect in 1965.

In 1965, the voting age in the Old South was a uniform 21 years old.

Which means that everybody who voted for Jim Crow laws--before they were made illegal--must have been born no later than December 31, 1944.

This also means people who were born in 1944 or earlier would be 70 years old and up today.

So. There are, as of July 1, 2013, 104.5 million people in the Old South (that is, the Old Confederacy plus Kentucky, not a member of the Old Confederacy but a state that embraced Jim Crow laws).

Of those, 9.89% are aged 70 or older. Assume 10% of that number is African American, thus none would have EVER vote for Jim Crow. Of that remainder let's be pessimistic and assume that 60% of voters in the Old South would have actively supported Jim Crow laws in the voting booth.

Now, over-70s ARE registered to vote more than any other age group. 80%. Of those voters who registered almost all (87.5%) of them actually voted in 2012 (the latest year for which figures are available).


....out of 104.5 million people in the Old South, 353,882 (or  can be presumed to be old-style guilty-of-supporting-Jim-Crow racists who voted in this election. Scattered over ten states. Or about 35,000 votes/state. Or about 3/10 of 1% of the entire region.

This chart tells the tale (click to embiggen):

So, 353,882  divided by 104,553,833 = what? 0.00385, or under 4/10s of 1%.

Can we put the GOP-and-the-South-are-racist shit to bed now, please?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fridge Pics: Memes of the Week: 11/02-ll/08, 2014

The Empire State Bldg on election night: lights up red for the GOP.

Friday, November 7, 2014

REPOST: Memtok's Thumb, Or: The Uses and Abuses of Evolution

[Ran this essay first in 2009. Warning: 'tis long.]

I. A Night at the Opera: The Unbearable Being of Light

God said, Let there be light, and there was
God said, Let there be night, and there was
God said, Let there be day, and there was
Day to follow the night
And it was good, brother
And it was good, brother
And it was good, brother
And it was goddam good!
- Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Schwartz, The Mass

A few weeks ago, when I was visiting Washington, I had the great pleasure of an evening out with an old friend, a school classmate whom I had not seen in thirty years. In celebration of this particular and most pleasant event, her husband very kindly granted us his season tickets at The Kennedy Center where we had occasion to watch a concert.

The concert that evening was Haydn's Die Schöpfung: "The Creation". This 1797 oratorio was regarded by Haydn himself and by many of his admirers as his greatest work. As Wikipedia describes it, Die Schöpfung "depicts and celebrates the creation of the world as described in the biblical Book of Genesis". This particular evening, the University of Maryland Choir and three well known operatic stars sang the world into existence in three movements, from the creation of Light to, three hours later, the short, happy, and yet-unfallen hours of Adam and Eve, ending with the final line of the work an angelic wish: "I pray that they not wish for more!"

I couldn't help but think of Little Green Football's Charles Johnson, for this whole scenario was a contradiction, indeed a negation, of all his belief.

The evening was the paradigm of Intelligent Design. The music had not merely 'created itself', it was created in the mind of a single genius--an infinite monkey, as it were--now long dead. Nor were the sounds randomly generated, they were performed by hundreds of people who had spent their lives preparing themselves for this presentation. Nor was the building they sang in evolved; it was a clear example of intelligent design. Nor was the city the building was located in, nor the nation where the city was built.

We are indeed surrounded by signs of Intelligent Design: everything we see in our day to day world is a product of the intelligent design of men. (Or semi-intelligent, if we're reading LGF.) So, of course there is intelligent design in the universe: where Man makes it. But where does Man get this capacity?

I cannot think that the minds that made the nation, city, building and music were random: how could the Universe in which they all existed also be random?

But those who would hold design of the Universe to be 'intelligent' are outside of science.

Well. So be it. If the universe that made the concert possible was not random, in what way can it, does it, reflect the mind of a Creator? And in what way does our artistic expression of how that creation occurred not contradict the idea of long-evolved life in a 13.2 billion year old universe? The works of the Bible are of course, art: the highest art, the art of the Divine.

I realize that asking this question may reveal what the godlike, all knowing Squire of Gothos Charles Johnson (whom some bloggers refer to as "Darwinist Rage Boy") calls "the glazed mind of a creationist". But it must be asked: how, exactly, does Creation as expressed in Genesis really differ from Darwin? Or does it?

II. Duck Soup: Out of the The Divinely Premordial Ooze

God said, Let there be storms
Storms to bring life in all of its forms
Forms such as herds and gaggles and swarms
Swarms that have names and numbers and norms
And it was good, sister
And it was good, sister
And it was good, sister
And it was goddam good!
-Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Schwartz, The Mass

We seem to be in an era of a cultural undercurrent of loathing of religious believers, which is generally masked, and by a hostility toward aspects of their belief, which is most decidedly open. Most commonly, we see hatred manifested toward those parts of the belief that is most vulnerable to mockery and intellectual 'debunking.' Most commonly, traditional Judeo-Christianity's origin myth, being most "obviously" different from 'what science teaches us,' is subjected to ridicule, and those who put faith in that teaching are held up as fools at best, morons at worst.

One sees this manifest in many places, but of late we have heard it loudly proclaimed in places hitherto having little connection with religious faith as such, such as, inter alia, the pages of LGF. Charles Johnson in particular has lately spent his energy uselessly by ridiculing those holding beliefs thought conventional for two thousand years as "Creationists"--a charge both childish and useless.

I for one am unashamed to claim the title of "creationist": for I DO believe that God did indeed create the universe.

I am also unashamed to claim the title of "evolutionist": for I also believe that God took about 13.2 billion years to create that universe, and that biological evolution as detailed by modern biology is exactly the way He did so. As Devo put it thirty years ago: "God made man, and he used the monkey to do it." (No young-earth creationist am I.)

But as comfortable as I am with Darwinistic evolution as description of things past, I utterly reject it as a prescription for how human beings should live now and in the future.

Before we discuss that question, however, let's ask: truly, how does Darwinistic evolution REALLY differ from what is found in Genesis--if it differs at all?

Are Darwinism and the Creation really so different?

What follows is what is best described as a line of inquiry, by a self-admitted amateur (your narrator) into First Things: to wit, who are we? What are we doing here? Where are we going? (And: Where are they taking me in this handbasket?)

Let us start. From the beginning....

...starting with words that makes atheists recoil as a vampire does from a crucifix.

You know the words, dear Reader. (Yes, even you, Charles Johnson.) Let us reread them. Don’t worry, it won’t make you grow a third eye (or make a UPC appear) in the middle of your forehead.
In The Beginning .... God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years. And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. To paraphrase Steve Martin, in college they said this was all bullspit.

According to everything we have heard from the scientists, it’s nothing like what REALLY REALLY happened. Like Star Trek nerds whose heads explode at the slightest plot inconsistency, they nit and pick. Light first day! Sun fourth day! Plants before seas! Yadda yadda yadda. But ... let’s imagine what we would have had they written it. It would probably read something like this (at the risk of inviting incoming lightning bolts):

In The Beginning .... the universe was formless and empty; there was only a tiny, very hot but formless blob about the size of a walnut, and the rest was darkness.
Then Something happened (we don’t know what). And there was light: a horrendous space kablooie.
The universe was bright where the light was, and where the light wasn't, it was dark.
Then as the matter grew it divided in the deep into separate parts, so that there were matter in some areas and no matter in others, and maybe dark matter somewhere else.
Everywhere, whereever you were, Light was followed by darkness, and then light again, cyclically.
There eventually the gasses gathered and a appeared a star out of the void, and it lit up. Then the leftovers formed into clumps, and then into planets. This happened over and over again: lotsa stars. And One of the clumps became Earth. Another clump became the moon. The moon was lit by the sun and reflected light back onto the earth at night.
Then the surface of the earth became uneven, and waters gathered in the deeper parts; the wet parts we call Seas and Oceans and Lakes; the dry parts became what we call the Continents and Islands.
Then life developed in the water, and became many and various animals and creatures. These plants and creatures tended to change over time; the better formed ones survived to reproduce and ate the less successful.
Then one form of life moved from the sea to the shoreline, to eventually cover the lands, first the plants, then the bugs, then the fish. And this life differentiated into types.
The animals having arisen from the seas, then turned into the ancestors to the birds. And some developed feathers then wings, and so they flew.
Then mammals and herds of mammals appeared.
Then one particularly form of mammal appeared and developed a brain far better developed than anything that had come before.

And it figured out how to hunt every kind of animal and eat every kind of plant; it was an omnivore, and it learned to speak. And this form of mammal, male and female as created, turned out to be quite smart–smarter, in fact, than anything that had ever appeared before.
Now note this: Add on a few "And-God-saw-that-it-was-good's", then superimpose a six-day calendar on this, and what you have there is pretty close to Genesis. No?

Well, not exactly. But close enough. Compared to the creation myths of non-Judean-descended faiths, it’s remarkably close.

And really. Let’s not forget the absurdity of the competition’s origin myths. Let’s pick one of these other myths at random for comparison: say, the first Creation Myth listed in Wikipedia, for lack of anything more definite. It is the Bakuba tribal myth from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and it goes like this:

In the Bakuba account of demiurge, the Earth was originally nothing but water and darkness, ruled by the giant Mbombo. This giant, after feeling an intense pain in his stomach one day, vomited up the sun, moon, and stars. The heat and light from the sun evaporated the water covering Earth, creating clouds, and after time, the dry hills emerged from the water. Mbombo vomited once more. Many things were contained in this second vomiting—people (the first man and the first woman), animals (the leopard, the eagle, and the monkey Fumu), trees, the falling star, the anvil, the firmament, the razor, medicine, and lighting.
Now this -- this -- clearly is nonsense. Certainly this myth would not pass the LGF ha ha test either. Giant with the Earth in his stomach, barfing us up. Yeah, I want to base MY civilization on that myth: Man As Puke. No thank you. I don’t think so.

I leave it to the reader to go through the rest of that Wikipedia article and read the rest of the creation accounts, but verily, verily I say unto you: the Genesis account, although not perfect, is pretty darn close, at least by comparison to all the other possibilities.

But. But. But. Not close enough for some, it appears.

Our problem is that those who believe entirely in a universe created as the cosmologists insist, with Darwin tacked on for good measure, they look upon the words given from the Genesis account, and, even given the similarities, still they recoil: like that big eared alien in the Star Trek movie. “Genesis allowed is not! Is planet forbidden!”

But why should it be?

To cosmological fundamentalists, it is forbidden because Genesis postulates that the Universe was ‘created’ somehow. That implies.... a Creator.

That’s right. Gah-gah-gah- ... It’s okay, you can say it.


And THAT is an absolutely scary thought.

III. Monkey Business and Horse Feathers: Why Genesis Scares The Scientist

God said, Let there be gnats
Let there be sprats to gobble the gnats
So that the sprats may nourish the rats
Making them fat, fine food for the cats
And they grew fat, brother
And they grew fat, brother
All but the gnats, brother
They all grew fearful fat!
-Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Schwartz, The Mass

Scientists hate scary things. (Particularly things that might invalidate their work.)

Secondly, the possibility of a Creator leads to even scarier possibilities.

If there is a Creator, is it meaningless and eternally detached from the human race, like Allah (or The Flying Spaghetti Monster for that matter), or does It have a Personality?

If It has a Personality, does it care at all about its Creation?

If It cares about its Creation, does it care about the human race in particular?

If it cares about the human race, does it care about ME?

If there is a Creator, and It has a Personality, and it cares about Its Creation, and it cares about the Human Race, is it not entirely possible that that Creator might not like the fact that I’m stealing from the retirement fund/cheating on my taxes/schtupping the baby sitter when the wife is out of town (or whatever)?

Deep down, the anti-creationist “scientist” - in the end, just a profession, no different in principle from wipers of telephones, sellers of insurance, or fillers-out of immigration forms – simply hates the thought of God for the same reason everyone else, deep down, hates the thought of God.

It’s because we’re all as scared as hell of what God will do to us because of all the nasty things we have all done. They say it’s for ‘scientific reasons’ but that’s just a cover. Everybody has something to hide, and we’re all standing around naked outside of Eden looking for the nearest Figleaf Jeans store.

C.S. Lewis put it very well in Surprised by Joy: “The phrase ‘Man’s search for God’ made about as much sense to me as the mouse’s search for the cat.”

But. If there is a God, is there one way of knowing Him? And if this Book is that way of knowing Him best, why does this particular book of His creation start off with abject nonsense?

Well, it does. And it doesn’t.

A recent article in the Catholic Culture website, www.catholicculture.org, discussed the question of how Catholics should read scripture. The article stated:

[How do we explain] the limits of what Scripture can be expected to do and how we can go wrong if we approach it the wrong way[?] How can these limitations be explained to the faithful in a way that does not charge Scripture with error?

[The Vatican Council II document] Dei Verbum has given us an important tool for doing this. The Council spoke of those things "asserted by the inspired authors" as asserted by the Holy Spirit and thus protected from error. So we need to determine what the inspired author is trying to assert, for that is what is protected from error.

What a person asserts is not the same as what he says. Suppose someone says, "It's raining cats and dogs out there today." What he has said is perfectly obvious, but he is not asserting that cats and dogs are falling from the sky. Instead, he is asserting that it is raining hard.

His assertion may well be true. It may indeed be raining hard, and
if so then he should not be charged with error.

Native English-speakers are familiar with the phrase "raining cats and dogs" and recognize what is meant. But non-native English-speakers could be perplexed by the statement. It's the same with Scripture.
And so: how then do we reconcile the scientific reality of an evolved humanity, arising from an evolved animal kingdom, arising from a 4 billion year old earth, with what the Bible is asserting? Is what we see really unscientific--or merely divinely idiomatic?

What Genesis asserts is that in the Beginning, God Created The Heaven and the Earth. The details are secondary.

Specifically, HOW God did it has been explained through science. Not all Christians are young-earthers mired in Biblical literalism: the Roman Catholic Church (for which I am a cheerfully sinful partisan) accepts that obvious truth and has from the time of the discoveries of the 1920s.

So far as it goes as history, Darwinism, or evolution (in this article consider the terms interchangable), is correct. The Universe is, indeed, 13.2 or so billion years old. This planet has indeed existed for five billion years. The human race has only existed in its present form for under 100,000 years. Worms, shellfish, trilobites, armored fish, dinosaurs, horned wonders.... all lived, died, and became extinct, along with all matter of other creatures. Evolution as an explanation of where the human race came from, i.e., derived from, is as true as anything you can ask.

I have no problem whatsoever accepting the fact that my distant ancestors climbed through trees, and before them, climbed out of the waters on their fins.

A God who took 13.2 billion years to cook us out of His primordial soup is actually fairly impressive, if you think about it.

But at some point, something extraordinary happened in the course of that evolution, which makes Homo, sapient: that is, qualitatively different from the monkey, the ape, the hominid. What conferred this crucial delta in the human equation?

Even Darwinists fall back on myth and symbol for this event.

In our Genesis, the writer refers to “God blowing in the nostrils of the Man He formed out of the dust in the ground.”

In 2001: A Space Odyssey, that ‘something’ was a group of protohumans encountering the Monolith (which just begs the question: what made the Monolith builders smart?).

Conventional paleoanthropology (as displayed in this fairly good TV program here) holds that it was ‘evolution with the gas turned on high’, extreme conditions in the deserts of southern Africa, combined with a ruthlessly culled inbreeding, that kill all but the very, very smartest.

And then: the ice age ends, the glaciers melt, Man 'leaves the garden of Eden' and conquers the planet (and then exterminates 'Abel'–the Neanderthals).

Science may explain this change without God. And yet, there is an unutterable danger to the reliance on the scientific creation story that fails to include that important line: in the beginning God created the heaven and the Earth.

And what is that danger?

It is that, in the absence of a personal God on which to base morality, that the theory of Evolution, and the Long-Universe Cosmological View that it requires, may be used, not as an explanation of past phenomena, but rather as a justification for or a prescription for future human behavior. That Evolution–the Law of the Jungle–shall become the basis of judging all morality and behavior.

And THAT is unacceptable.

While evolution is perfectly acceptable as biology, as a philosophy it is not. By that method, ‘Do what thou wilt becomes the whole of the Law’.

Without the concept of the individual having an eternal God to answer to, morality (either wearing the Darwinian fig leaf or expressed in naked Nietzschean will-to-power) becomes nothing more than an artificial and unneeded limit on the means to impose one’s will. Thrasymachus, in the end, trumps Socrates: justice, indeed, becomes the advantage of the stronger. Which is to say: that which we have called evil becomes good; good becomes evil. Nietzsche triumphs from the grave and his transvaluation of all values is achieved.

For what Evolution is, is a recognition that, hitherto, prior to the arising of the human animal as the dominant species, for billions of years life has been shaped by the Law of the Jungle: Eat or be eaten. The strong survive, the weak don’t. Rape is not a crime; it becomes business as usual. The big guy gets the pretty girl; the 98 pound weakling gets sand in the face. (And the big guy gets the pretty girl whether the pretty girl wants the big guy or not.)

If we choose to worship Nature or Power or Evolution as, essentially, a god, let us understand that It is red of tooth and claw; it is a murderer, a cannibal, a sexual panderer and an accomplice to rape. It’s all about the benjamins, baby: the benjamins in this case being the fresh-killed meal and the orgasm, the only two currencies accepted at the Bank of the State of Nature.

Our ancestors had to live like that, in a world where life was nasty, brutish and short. But we don’t. We abandoned the life of animals and to savage each other when we adopted a new way of behavior: we started to live in large groups, and eventually, to build cities. Which is to say: when we chose to give up life in the State of Nature and lived together as neighbors instead of enemies. We abandoned the Law of the Jungle and adopted the Law of the Golden Rule in order to have the privilege of having our buildings (and children) survive to the next generation in close proximity to other humans.

And the price of a return to the law of the Jungle may well be the complete loss of civilization as we have come to know it. The past century’s catalogue of crimes illustrates this on every blood soaked page: for, when law and God disappear, how easy it is for civilized men to act like barbarians. (And it's a one-way trip, for it is, as Spock once observed, "far easier for ... civilized men to act like barbarians than it [is] ... for barbarians to act like civilized men.") Civilized norms once lost are terribly hard to relearn.

In the long run, embracing a morality of evolution may well lead to the complete dissolution of who and what we are: not merely racial extinction, but racial transformation into something no longer human. Ol’ Friedrich Wilhelm might have seen the Uebermann as Superhuman, but I see it as subhuman, a return to what the Walking with Cavemen writers called “the Rules of Life” but what any reasonable judge must instead call the rules of blood.

Today, again, we are tempted to adopt a Eugenic philosophy as the basis of doing business in the West: a Eugenics which is, in fact the white hood over the klansman.

We have seen it manifest itself very recently in many ways. This writer has noted it recently in the manifest public hatred toward Sarah Palin, for daring to publicly bear a Down’s Syndrome child (a “mongoloid”), and even hatred and death-wish directed toward the child itself.

We have also seen it in the recent remarks of a Supreme Court justice who asserted that abortion was legalized so that we would not “have too many of the sort of people we don’t want too many of.”

And we have seen it manifest in certain bigotries expressed toward ‘anti abortion nutjobs’ who have the temerity to assert the handicapped or the minority or the ‘illegitimate’ have a right to live, as well as calls the extermination of certain minorities or others as an inferior species and the celebration of genocides committed against them. (For example, take the genocidal-cheerleading writings of the execrable "Rodan" at "Freerepublic 2: The Blogmocracy.") (Please.)

What happens when this repugnant, Hitlerian fantasy of ‘bettering the breed’ through genetic manipulation manifests itself in reality?

We saw the first steps in the “destruction of the useless eaters” under the Nazi regime in 1941 and in Auschwitz in 1942-44. We also saw a hint of the converse in the establishment of the SS breeding program, “Lebensborn”, which provided funds for the mistresses of SS officers to raise babies born outside of marriage, intended to “strengthen the race”.

If we choose again to take that trip, I warn that Hell lies at the end of the railroad. But we only took a comparative few steeps down the road, at just the start of that journey, before we temporarily interrupted it by defeating the Nazis.

What will come if we choose to resume that journey? Where will it lead us? I for one am not sure I want to know. But let’s ask anyway.

IV. A Day at the Races: Memtok, Morlocks, and Moties

And God saw it was good
God made it be good
Created it good
Created the gnats to nourish the sprats to nurture the rats
And all for us big fat cats
Us cats YEAH!

-Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Schwartz, The Mass

The evolutionist and scientist Stephen Jay Gould is famous for a series of essays, first published in The Scientific American, concerning various aspects of how evolution manifests itself through tiny changes in the anatomy of various species, allowing this tiny, astonishing mechanism or that to assist the creature hosting the change to have a better advantage. His most famous essay (and the title of his most famous book) is entitled The Panda’s Thumb, and is a reflection of one such change: he discusses how the panda’s paw has undergone a minor evolution in a wrist bone which causes it to extrude as a sort of sixth finger, or “thumb,” thus assisting it in stripping and consuming its favorite food, bamboo shoots.

He also cites a rather obscure Darwinian study of orchid reproductive organs, to the effect that certain random changes in the internal structure of the orchid’s flower forces a visiting bee to carry pollen to point ‘b’, where, presumably, another orchid’s stamen (or is it pestle? one forgets) is eagerly awaiting being fertilized.

OK as far as it goes. But Gould has to add the following little snide aside:

Our text books like to illustrate evolution with examples of optimal design--nearly perfect mimicry of a dead leaf by a butterfly or of a poisonous species by a palatable relative: But ideal design is a lousy argument for evolution, for it mimics the postulated action of an omnipotent creator. Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution--paths that a sensible God would never tread but that a natural process, constrained by history, follows perforce.
The Panda’s Thumb, page 24.

Well. Who is Gould to say that “a sensible God” would never tread such a path? It’s entirely possible that the God who created the Human Brain simply allowed the orchid to develop a ‘good enough’ strategy for the present. By all indications, evolution ("Perfection") is an ongoing process: perhaps the ‘perfect’ orchid is a thousand, or a million, generations (of orchid) from now. (“God isn’t finished with me yet,” indeed.)

But while a Darwin-friendly, science-compatable God may indeed be glorious in His creation of things possessing, for no reason, great beauty--say, the orchid, the lily, the butterfly, or for that matter, the first lady of France--He also has, for His purposes, allowed the forces of evolution to twist some of His creatures into rather hideous forms as well.

Consider the monstrosities that God (or Mother Nature, take your pick) has come up with regarding the lower animals and how they live. No Disney nature film candidates here....:

* the praying mantis or the Australian black widow spider, "where the bride concludes her nuptials by eating the groom," as Screwtape says;

* the angler fish, that wonderful symbol of the feminist movement, where a miniature parasite sperm-generator called a 'male' attaches itself to a female and literally does nothing for the rest of his life but suck her blood and produce sperm;

* the hagfish, which exudes a particularly odious form of body slime to clog the gills of predators;

* gobies, who, as fishtank-owners well know, regularly engage of autopaedophagy (they eat their own young); and, my personal favorite....

* the grey nurse shark of Australia: a mother produces a hundred or so embryos within a 'womb' structure, but lacking a placenta, the little baby sharks then sustain themselves by engaging in "adelphophagy": they eat each other--intrauterine cannibalism--until only one emerges alive at the end of the process. Of all those conceived, only the biggest, meanest, nastiest baby shark emerges from the womb. (This last reminds me a great deal of my experience at law school.)

Mother Nature, as the saying goes, is indeed a bitch. Do we really want to abandon ourselves to her merciless norms?

I’d like to discuss what the universe would indeed be like, in the end, if, there being no God, we were to abandon a civilized view of what should constitute ‘conventional morality’ and look at it if we turned the force of evolution against ourselves. Let us ask: is that a moral universe that Steven Jay Gould would have wanted to live in?

Where would we go as a race if we allowed ourselves to be ruled by Darwinistic forces? How might it change us? Or how would we change ourselves if we let it run free?

About forty-five years ago, the science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein published what may well be his worst novel: Farnham’s Freehold. It’s a poorly written saga, the story of a man, and five members of his family, hiding in a bomb shelter of the sort build in the early sixties by proto-survivalists. The nuke that bursts over their shelter transports the occupants forward in time, some two thousand years: to, perhaps, an alternate universe.

But what appears at first to be an end-of-the-world story turns into a nasty portrayal of the worst of black-white race relations.

The last third of the story, which out of charity I choose to call a “wild satire” is, in fact, a repugnant, klan-friendly fantasy. If this were his only book nobody would want to read anything else he had written. A charge of naked racism against Heinlein would be rebutted only through knowledge of his well known and long-established hatred of racism (and slavery) expressed in his other works.

In this world 2000 years in the future, slavery is reestablished and is commonplace, the slave owners are all black (not necessarily African; some may be of Hindu stock) and the slaves all white. In this world, white people are the property of blacks; black people eat, quite literally, white people, particularly young girls; white men are either mutilated “studs” or “tempered” castrati; where white women are “sluts”: either sterilized or breeders. And black men, having arrived in America after the nuclear holocaust to “rescue” the survivors, have chosen to stay as slave lords. This book is most unworthy of RAH and I consider it the most repugnant of his works.

And yet (as Nietzsche taught us) the errors of great men are often more productive than the successes of lesser men. Let’s look at one part of the story that indeed rings true.

There is, in essence, only one character worth noting in the book, and he describes clearly the universe we will live in, ultimately, if Christianity and its forms are replaced by a sort of Darwinian morality of power over weakness.

His name is given in the story as Memtok; he is the chief domestic of the Lord Protector of the Noonday Region. He is the head slave of his household, the feared supervisor of hundreds of house servants.
The truth was, Memtok loved his paperwork and did not want to share it. His hands flew over the papers, checking figures, signing his symbol, okaying payments. He held his pen in an odd fashion, nested between the first three fingers of his right hand – this because he had not thumbs.

He did not miss them, could barely remember what it had been like to have them. Nor did he need them. He could handle a spoon, a pen, and a whip without them, and he had no need ever to handle anything else.

Far from missing his thumbs, he was proud of their absence; they proved that he had served his lord in both major capacities, at stud when he was younger and now these many years as a tempered domestic. Every male servant over fourteen ... showed one alteration or the other; very few could exhibit both, only a few hundred on the entire Earth. Those few spoke as equals only to each other; they were an elite.

Farnham’s Freehold, pp. 131-132. Later in the book, it becomes clear that the white people in this land were all under 5' or so, the deliberate result of a breeding plan to reduce their size and to keep them small and subservient. A small reserve of “wild” whites are allowed to live like cave men in the mountains, and are hunted and captured for breeding purposes when the bred-out slaves become too soft.

Huh? Cannibalism? Cutting off of thumbs? Castration to control male aggression? Ridiculous, right? What sort of a society would practice such barbarities?

Not so fast.

We have many countries in this world who practice amputation of hands to punish theft. Sometimes these same countries castrate to punish rape–-a punishment advocated in this country by certain feminists in recent decades (and by racist whites in less recent days).

Furthermore, while castration is not widely practiced now against men, the gynocological equivalent–FGM (look it up)–is widely practiced world wide to control female sexual expression--and, per Wikipedia, this has been practiced since Pharaonic days in Egypt.

And as for cannibalism: all I need to say is: "embryonic stem-cell research." Capiche?

So don’t laugh. Not only can it happen, it’s already happening even as we speak. All that we lack is the will (and the evil!) to implement this as policy.

Now, Heinlein's vision is not particularly original; it is merely an earlier (fifteen hundred years vs. 800,00 years) version of what the socialist and "progressive" and (yes) racist H.G. Wells foresaw in his early novel The Time Machine. Like Heinlein, Wells foresees that humanity will eventually evolve into two separate groups, but over the longer time, they are in fact separate species: the peaceful, cattle-like eloi and the predatory, eloi-herding subterranean morlocks. But even this simple split of peoples may not truly encompass what lies ahead if the forces of evolution act on the human race with malice aforethought.

For that we turn to a book by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, The Mote in God’s Eye. I agree with Heinlein, who called it, in a book blurb, “possibly the finest science fiction novel I have ever read,” which is high praise indeed (let's quietly ignore the fact that Heinlein himself extensively edited the work and thus was patting himself on the back).

Be that as it may, however, it truly is an excellent story, as good as Farnham’s Freehold was awful. The story portrays man’s first contact with an alien intelligence.

In the year 3000, Man has colonized the stars and established residence on a thousand planets before finding their first intelligent non-human race. This people live isolated on a closed-in star system out of contact with the galaxy; the inhabitants are dubbed "the Moties." This novel answers what is apparently a throw-away question in the third chapter: “What would physical evolution of humans bring?”

The answer is shown by what has happened to the “Moties” over millenia, who (spoiler alert!) are a race of three handed, two legged aliens shattered into ‘castes’. There are twenty or thirty forms of the species. The Browns are engineers, short on conversation but long on tool-making and tool-using skills; Brown-and-Whites are go-betweens and mediators; the Reds are workers; Warriors are specialized killing machines beyond imagination. The delicate Doctors doctor, the stupid Farmers farm, Messengers communicate by rote memorization and running by foot, tiny Watchmakers do fine toolwork, Meats are raised in herds and eaten when starvation strikes. All are ruled over by the white-furred "Masters", to whom all the other castes defer by instinct.

The Moties are a race cursed by a reproductive trick: they are built in such a way that each individual is unisexual, male and female in cyclic change, and must give birth to a child every two to three years and then turn male, or they die. This reproductive cycle keeps their gross populations endlessly exploding. This causes them to rise and fall, rise and fall, in endless Cycles of civilization-overbreeding-war-destruction-barbarism-civilization, over and over and over again; collapses in civilization now occur before their civilizations rise enough to try to alter their genes artificially as they were originally, in ages past, by some sort of gene surgeons.

The story’s most horrible line is almost a throwaway, near the end. One Doctor Horowitz, a genetics expert, has been working on the creatures’ breeding and chromosome patterns.
“I believe the [Engineer] Browns were the original form” he said. “When the Whites became dominant they bred the other subspecies to their own uses. Controlled evolution, you see.”
(Emphasis mine.)
In other words, this unhappy (but thankfully fictional!) race is the end result of tens of thousands, or perhaps hundreds of thousands, of years’ reproduction of what was, in fact, a genetically engineered superrace and its subordinately-created subspecies. A race, in short, of slaves to the White masters, evolved long enough.

This is the end result of the breeding program in which Memtok is only at the threshhold. This is the answer to the question of where evolution of the human race would lead.

Now, these are, of course, just science fiction stories. And I can hear Charles Johnson mock me now: “He’s saying that you gotta be a creationist or we’ll all turn into three handed space aliens!” Then he might well put on his well-worn videotaped copy of Inherit the Wind and pat himself on the back for his intellectual superiority over creationists.

Not so fast, Trelayne. For starters, in India, we see the seeds of a Motie-like differentiation, in their caste system, in which jobs and function in society have for centuries been strictly inherited. For many centuries, if you were born a wiper of food troughs, so was your father and grandfather, and so would your children be, forever. Only the last hundred years or so has this caste system been broken; even so, caste hatreds abound (a redneck Georgia cracker is as nothing compared to an Indian caste-bigot).

Moreover, no less of an authority than the aforementioned Stephen Jay Gould states his belief that William Jennings Bryan, the supposedly blow-hard fundamentalist portrayed as "Matthew Harrison Brady" in Inherit the Wind, opposed the teaching of evolution, not because it was false, but because it was being used to advocate eugenics (as it indeed was in 1925, in the very textbook that Scopes used in his class). See his “William Jennings Bryan’s Last Campaign” (Natural History, November, 1987), reprinted in Bully for Brontosaurus, 1992.

(Of course, if I were on this occasion to treat Charles like he treats others, I'd then accuse him of being a Nazi exterminationist supporter of Lebensborn and Auschwitz because he disdains the divine account of the Creation. Instead I'll simply call him clueless.)

These stories I have cited are meant to be illustrative of how the Human race, having mastered genetics without mastering itself, could in the end transmorgrify itself into something less, rather than more, than human. This is what C.S. Lewis meant by The Abolition of Man.

We would behoove ourselves to pay attention, for if there is no overarching God to mark our paths and days, if we live in a universe where power is everything and Darwinian evolution is the driving force–where the Alistair Crowley* claim that “To do what Thou Wilt is the Whole of the Law” is true, then Memtok and the Moties may not merely be fantasies, but warning signs, in a way that Auschwitz and Lebensborn have ceased to be.

The lessons here may well be: In the end, not only is God needed by Man to stay 'on the straight and narrow path,' He may be needed to keep the race of Man from turning itself into something even worse than a beast. And, while Darwin tells us much about the past, what he tells us of our future we should not learn. For in the end, there are, indeed, some things man is not meant to know.

God said, Let there be light, and there was
God said, Let there be night, and there was
God said, Let there be day, and there was
Day to follow the night
And it was good, brother
And it was good, brother
And it was good, brother
And it was ... (whispers) SSSSSHHHHH!

A tip of the hat to my good friend Phil Rose for his assistance and comments.