Given, not taken – tears on Memorial Day

This day we honor our soldiers. Our combat veterans will not permit the memory of their fallen brothers to fade away. Nor will they discard the images of the faces of those fallen on the battlefield and those they have killed in hand-to-hand combat. These are bitter memories, the horrors of war returning in silent meditation. They know the lives their brothers lost were not taken, but freely given.

A good man might lay down his life for his friends. But our fallen, not all good men, gave for the millions in their country, for our American community. They strengthened the bonds (religio) that bind us together. Their gift was to us, to their country, a political unity and even more a cultural one. To all Americans, past, present, not yet born. Our nation state, the last outpost of Western civilization, is under attack from within as well as without. Despite many obstacles, domestic and foreign, our military and first responders – those who would die for us – form the last, best line of defense of the best of our traditional American culture. Yet many among us hate their American identity, deny nation states – ours most of all. They seek a godless millennium in a world government of open borders that is multiculturally communitarian and politically communist. Multiculturalism means of course no culture, the denial of local culture, a population of faceless, rootless isolated and etiolated mere human beings with social ties only to Big Brother.

Our call to remembrance on Memorial Day elicits tears of gratitude for the fallen and the survivors, a small reflection of the free gift of grace given by our fallen Lord. With the living waters of our tears of joy we bless our soldiers and hope that their sacrifices past, present and future will inspire a virile patriotic effort to overcome all challenges threatening our liberty, values, and culture.    

Troglo (L. H. Kevil)

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The conceptual penis as a social construct

Read this groundbreaking new article in gender studies here in the scholarly open-access journal Cogent Social Sciences. The authors explain that in their paper they

incorporate careful reading of the relevant academic literature with observations made by searching trending hashtags to derive important social truths with high impact. In this case, their particular fascination with penises and the ways in which penises are socially problematic, especially as a social construct known as a conceptual penis, have opened an avenue to a new frontier in gender and masculinities research that can transform our cultural geographies, mitigate climate change, and achieve social justice.

Of course the article is a hoax, puncturing the balloon of academic radical social “science” research and hilariously following in the tradition of the great Alan Sokal , whose hoax  proved quantum gravity was a social construct. Confessing liberal use of the Postmodern Generator (see below,) the authors reveal their true identities and the purpose of their hoax here. The linking of the conceptual penis to climate change was a masterstroke. As is the insight about ‘manspreading’ and rape:

Manspreading — a complaint levied against men for sitting with their legs spread wide — is akin to raping the empty space around him.

The Internet is full of delicious commentary. Here is one from James Delingpole, one of our favorite skeptics. Another is from the great Steve Hayward at Powerlineblog. He has been a faithful reporter of many academic absurdities. For more search Bing or google for “conceptual penis.”

The Postmodern Generator, the salvation of penis-equipped undergrads anxious to survive required social science courses compos mentis, will generate a similar article for you here. Scroll down to the bottom for a full explanation.   

Troglo (L. H. Kevil)

Will the ‘nuclear option weaken the Senate? Don’t believe it.

The ’nuclear option,’ so named because it is believed to be catastrophic to U.S. Senate tradition and function, would remove the filibuster requirement for Supreme Court nominees. But why should Senate tradition, which in this case is not very old, be worth preserving? One case for retaining the filibuster is here.

The French word flibustier at the origin of our term filibuster appropriately means ‘buccaneer’ and by extension ‘crook.’  Until recently the filibuster rule permitted a senator to delay a floor vote only so long as he was speaking from the rostrum continuously – no bathroom or other breaks permitted. He could, however, be relieved by another Senator. This tactic could in principle gain other Senators time in which to round up votes.

But the current rule does not require speaking to an empty chamber reading from Dr Seuss. Now when the minority simply signals ’filibuster,’ a cloture vote to end debate is not permitted and the bill being debated is shut down. Pace filibuster apologists, this hardly extends debate or encourages deliberate consideration of different points of view. It simply ends debate, giving the minority party veto power, like a buccaneer on the high seas invading another vessel. If the goal is to enable extensive debate and further reasonable compromise, other and better rules can be substituted. However, to think that rules can encourage thoughtful compromise is rather naive.

The Senate is all too often the place when good bills go to die. If they do not die, the requirement of a filibuster-proof supermajority makes them emerge diluted and loaded with pork. Remember the Cornhusker kickback, the Louisiana purchase, and the Florida flim-flam provisions in Obamacare? Since the nuclear option exercised today does not apply to legislative filibusters, we can anticipate with dread what Senate ‘tradition’ will do to tax reform and the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. The Senate’s indulgence for its ‘traditions’ seems to suggest a culture of self-importance. Senatorial egos suggest the same.

Don’t believe the pleas to retain the filibuster for judicial nominees. In fact let’s remove the filibuster for garden-variety legislative bills. If we insist on preserving tradition, – why? – let’s bring back the old-fashioned filibuster as detailed here and enable the solons of the Senate to block cloture votes only while they are speaking from the rostrum.    

Troglo (L. H. Kevil)

The view from 10,000 feet – March 2017 edition

All too frequently missing from contemporary thinking is the right context. Beginning from misplaced or even incorrect premises will not lead to the best conclusion. Inaccurate terminology and misleading metaphors and synecdoche usually lead to misplaced emphasis and much foolishness. This often is deliberate on the part of politicos and journalists eager to sway opinion.

The higher the airplane, the larger the extent of land one can see. This metaphor can stand for providing a proper context. I propose to offer commentary from 10,000 feet – as high as I can attain without Icarus-like hubris. The conspectus from 30,000 feet is for those who have spent a lifetime pondering the permanent things. I propose to do this at irregular intervals treating several topics concisely without numbers, notes, or hyperlinks. A hat tip to the great Thomas Sowell, who called his columns like this Random Thoughts.

One. Words matter. The current health-care bill, known as AHCA,  is not about health care. It is about insurance. In a twisted instance of synecdoche insurance is used to represent the medical industry generally and one’s ability to receive proper care. If the debate were about health care generally, the debate would center on:

  • Increasing the supply of physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants
  • Reforming the FDA so that new miracle drugs come to market sooner and at lower cost
  • Removing government regulation so that a truly competitive marketplace can minimize cost and deliver better service
  • Ways to prevent mass disruption as government steps out of the medical business – perhaps starting with incentives for insurers to provide inexpensive catastrophic insurance for all
  • Bringing transparency in pricing so that aspirin in a hospital is not billed at hundreds of dollars and people can make choices informed by price
  • Equalizing the individual and group insurance markets by eliminating the deductibility of employer-provided health insurance and reducing income taxes to compensate

The health-care bill is principally about reforming the individual health insurance market and Medicaid. It only slows down the deplorable trend of shifting insurance from the state level to the Federal. Avik Roy warns us that eliminating the ObamaCare surtaxes on the “rich” will open Republicans to withering Democrat attacks in 2018. Senator Cotton that unless the replacement legislation lowers the costs of premiums and deductibles Democrat attacks will hit home.

Two. The current health-care bill must be limited in scope, otherwise the Senate parliamentarian will not permit it to be voted on via budget reconciliation rules. Senator Cruz reminds us that since ObamaCare was passed by the Senate through reconciliation, so can its repeal and replacement. He also states what should be obvious, that the Senate Parliamentarian has an advisory status only. Her opinion can be overridden by the Presiding Officer, Vice President Pence. This is a lame excuse to justify a pusillanimous bill.

I suspect that many House Republicans are not as opposed to big government ‘solutions’ as those of us in fly-over country. Representative Ryan in particular is very squishy on amnesty and has a wonky interest in making big government more efficient, not necessarily smaller.

Three. Two examples of manipulation via synecdoche. Arts funding. In the debate about Federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the arts, journalists and commentators love to wave their magic tongues and pronounce that since funding for defense is so large surely we can afford a tiny fraction of that amount for “the arts.” But “the arts” stands for all the myriad tiny expenditures that together amount to a whale-sized chunk of Federal spending. Government programs are the closest things to immortality. (Pres. Reagan)

Prevailing wage is another notable example. A group claiming to represent veterans is airing advertisements urging the state not to repeal its prevailing wage laws. These laws significantly increase the cost of labor in construction and harm state and local governments and school districts.It represents a transfer of money from taxpayers to a favored interest group. The pitch is that since veterans in construction jobs benefit, we should support prevailing wage laws. Unmentioned are the veterans working for companies that cannot compete for contracts requiring prevailing wage and veterans who are taxpayers. Using one small group to represent the whole would be a non-starter with an engaged, literate public.

Four. In defense of Steve King. In a widely condemned tweet, Representative King wrote:

“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” — Representative Steve King in a tweet, speaking truth to power.

Wilders is the Dutch candidate for Prime Minister who does not believe that Muslim immigrants will assimilate into Dutch society. He is widely characterized as “far right,” although he is a conventional leftist in most other respects. King was almost universally reviled for making these two uncontroversial points:

We should preserve our American culture, largely based on Christian and postChristian values brought to our shores by immigrants first from Great Britain and then from Continental Europe. Some alien cultures – notably those based on Islam ­ are inimical to our values and culture. This is particularly apparent in first- and second-generation Muslims.

Many countries with advanced economies are facing demographic suicide via depopulation, with birth rates below –sometimes far below –  the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman of child-bearing age. Some countries, like Germany, Japan, and Italy are near a crisis point, when the demands placed on the welfare state by an increasing elderly population will far outstrip the ability of an ever shrinking number of workers to pay for them. Stagnant economies result. Both Holland and Germany have imported large numbers of Muslims “guest workers” to supplement the workforce. This has not worked out well.

Five. It is not a ban and the travel and refugee pause is about religion. Andy McCarthy reminds us not to kid ourselves. The purpose of these bans, pauses, and vettings is to prevent actual and potential jihadis from entering the country. Jihadis belong to a branch or sect of Islam. Singling them out is of course a religious test, just as would be laws affecting only Methodists. Let’s also not kid ourselves about ‘diversity’ and ‘discrimination.’ Blindly worshipping these concepts is dangerous. Diversity among people sharing a common culture and language can be a great force for unity. Otherwise diversity creates division and strife. Discrimination is not necessarily a bad thing, unless you believe that any and all distinctions are evil.

Six. Collusion with the Russians. Are we talking about Obama telling Medvedev that he would have more flexibility after the election? Or Hillary Clinton approving the deal benefiting a Clinton Foundation  donor and selling 20% of our uranium to the Russians? Or John Podesta’s links to Rusnano, a Russian government company founded by Vlad Putin?  

Troglo  (L. H. Kevil)

The Muslim travel ban and unconstitutional religious discrimination

Words matter. The terminology chosen by the Left and its allies such as Big Media can create and then reinforce the way the public thinks about a particular issue. In the phrase the “Muslim travel ban” only the word “travel” is accurate. The President’s executive order does not deal with Muslims as a group, but only with citizens of several countries who cannot be screened for radical or terrorist ties. Nor is it a ban, which properly means a prohibition with the presumption of indefinite duration. It is simply a temporary pause, not a flat-out ban.

Similarly with “unconstitutional religious discrimination.” The Left has long tried to hoist its progressive policies under the banner of fighting “discrimination.” Having successfully redefined segregation to mean not just legally enforced separation by race, but also the communities formed by personal choices, the Left now does the same with “discrimination,” so that any differences far beyond race are discriminatory, thus illegitimate and subject to governmental discipline. What is illegitimate to the Left then must ipso facto be found to be ‘unconstitutional.’ So now bush-league Federal judges with an absence of a constitutionally presumed ‘judicial temperament’ and respect for the separation of equal powers rush to overturn innocuous executive orders with which they disagree.

It matters not that non-citizens abroad have no constitutional rights or standing. Apart from the vaticinations of courts, that is. Federal legislation specifically grants the President broad latitude to regulate immigration and travel into the U.S. of any class of aliens for any reason. (Naming a class of aliens is of course ‘discriminatory’ to the Left. This would include any sect of Islam that espouses total and permanent jihad on the West.) Even in the absence of this legislation the President’s constitutional duty and ability to do so is clear. Any court cognizant of its duty to interpret the law, not rewrite it, would agree. This is not difficult.

Nor does it matter that the widely reported “unconstitutional religious discrimination” is a figment of the fevered imagination of the men in black who push judicial supremacy. In this case the judiciary asserts supremacy over the executive. In the case of the ‘marriage’ of homosexual people it trumped the legislative power and wrote its own legislation.

The attorney and astute commentator John Hinderaker identified the current blocking of the travel order as a ‘liberal coup.”  I could not agree more. The progressive takeover of the courts must be reversed. The perception of the voters is increasingly ratified that though candidate Trump was deeply flawed, the election of Mrs Clinton and her choice of Supreme Court justices would have inflicted calamitous and permanent damage to American culture and institutions.    

Troglo  (L. H. Kevil)

It’s about much more than Trump

Would it be too much of a simplistic exaggeration to say that the recent eruptions – anti-Trump, pro EU, marches for women’s rights – reflect the perennial struggle between the progressives holed up in their urban echo chambers and the traditionalists in fly-over country, between the globalist citizens of the world fighting to save the EU and its moribund emblem, the Euro, and the nationalists, always portrayed as disturbing Fascists, who love their country, its culture, traditions, and vibrant immediacy subject to gradual erosion by alien forces, between the Hegelian-Marxist millennium worshippers and those of us more than comfortable in our own skin, sex, marriage, career, locality, and religion?

Think of the rage if a long-cherished dream were at last just within grasp only to be snatched away by cruel, capricious fate. Just like a child stripped of the candy about to be enjoyed, so the Leftists of America were ever so rudely deprived of a Hillary completion of the Obama transformation of America. So the intelligentsia of Europe so enamored of their post-national, new non-country super state, the European Union, were shaken by the unexpected rebellion of their inferiors in the Brexit vote, soon to be followed by Italy or some other country whose people have decided that there is a deeply personal, life-enhancing and -deciding meaning to their country and its cultural identity worth fighting for.

The press against Trump, including the BBC, the portrayal of France’s Marine LePen, the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders, and others as Hitlerian Fascists, the marches worldwide today for women’s rights all proceed from a worldview of radical, undifferentiated equality that admits of no mediating institutions between man and government, least of all the family. Multiculturalism proclaims all cultures equal, our own inferior one excepted. Non-discrimination leads to an Orwellian acceptance of the Lie as the Truth. One of the Queens chaplains was asked to resign after complaining of Islamic prayers denying Jesus’s divinity in a Scottish cathedral. Might offend Muslims, you know. But the rubes in the provinces know that regional, cultural, and other differences make life worthwhile, not least because they are ours and because they keep the progressives and the horror of their millennium at bay.

Women’s rights? The emasculation of America is nearly complete. Universities teach courses on demasculinization. Title IX star chambers rule. Women in combat roles is now law, although women cannot succeed as grunts. They haven’t got the strength, the endurance, or the culture to be the relentless killers we need our soldiers to be. Nor do they want to be. Men are portrayed on TV as dunces. Millions of men in their prime, ages 25 to 54, are completely outside the workforce, the jobs that should be theirs taken by immigrants, illegal and legal. Feminists crow that women need men as fish need bicycles and yet bemoan that single women occupied with their children don’t earn as much as men. NBC News regrets that while over half the drivers are women, less than 2% of mechanics are female. Division of labor by sex roles is the new unforgivable sin. Weak men gather this into their psyche and submit (and occasionally explode.) Strong men and women know they have work to do.   Troglo

Troglo (L. H. Kevil)

How do we make international trade fair?

Since the desire for “Fair Trade” is the supporting mantra behind each and every threat by government to use tariffs, quotas, or other trade restrictions, shouldn’t fair trade be defined and defended?

There is fair trade whenever trading partners reach agreement on mutually determined prices, terms, and other conditions, whether such partners are individuals, agents, firms or co-operatives.

If such entities attempt to, but can’t reach a mutually acceptable exchange, it is most often due to one or both participants in the bargain determining that  terms of the proposed trade transaction are unacceptable or unfair. Only the parties to the trade transaction can determine what is fair, for them and them alone.

Can government produce fair trade?

I probably don’t need to answer that question, as you likely intuitively already know the answer. I’m sure you wouldn’t hire a representative from the retail grocer association to have the power to determine the price of your groceries, instead of allowing free market competition among grocers to be the primary price determinant. Why? Because the association represents the interests of its member stores and would make every attempt to enhance the grocers’ profit margin, all to your disadvantage.

You shouldn’t want government to interfere with your international trades for the same reason.

When we ask government to govern trade negotiations by means of tariffs, quotas, and other restrictions, it always pursues someone’s interest. It may pursue the interests of consumers, or producers, or distributors, or retailers. If this pursuit results in a change in price or other terms than would otherwise be negotiated via voluntary exchange, the intervention by government would result in favoring one interest to the transaction and disfavoring the others.

Example: If government implements a tariff to favor US producers, to protect them from what it determines to be “unfair competition,” it disfavors US consumers by making their purchases more expensive, harder to get, etc.

By this reasoning we must conclude that government can only produce UN-FAIR trade.

The only way that government can pursue the interests of all is to refrain from intervening in international trade.

#separationofeconomyandstate    Bruce-thumbnail

Bruce Hillis