Tilting at Windmills

Cultural movements have a certain life cycle. If you read enough history, you see it. Because humans are the same all through history, the history of ideas that excite people tend to follow the same points.

It starts with enthusiasm and iconoclastic elan. That is the idea is so strange and far fetched for that society that only people who arrive at their positions by difficult individual thought and decision think it’s a good idea.

In fact, people who think this is a good idea, might get called names or ostracized.

Then slowly the idea gains converts. When it’s new and vibrant, the converts will be young and also vibrant, the movers and shakers of the society.

If the idea is not completely insane, it will then become more and more accepted, as these young and vibrant people gain power.

But if it is still moderately insane – say Marxism – and won’t work in the real world, when tried, it will then become ossified. The only people who still believe in it are the ones who were too old to change when it proved non-viable, and possibly a whole bunch of youngish people who were taught the idea as a legacy, inherited from parents or grandparents (or in the case of Marxism teachers) and who refuse to evaluate it on its merits, because then it might prove wrong, which would force them to go against received tradition, which none of them is prepared – emotionally – to do.

This is when you get the rump end of an ideology, the straggling, delusional end.

It was about something like this that Cervantes wrote Don Quixote.

I read Don Quixote when I was seven or eight, and I’ve watched one of the movies. It left very little to no impression. (I have the same problem with Foundation. No idea why.) So my memory of what it says might or might not be true.

However, if I remember, Don Quixote read a lot about the age of chivalry and decided to be a knight errant, at a time when knight errants were well and truly gone. He then proceeded to go over the country side, mistaking various signs of modernity for long gone mythical enemies. So for instance windmills were thought to be giants.

There have been, I know, because I studied them, various interpretations of Don Quixote, including that he was mad, or that he was just playing a game. Faced with a world that had escaped the framework in which he was prepared to understand it: a world that made no sense and gave him no status, he chose to go into the country side and battle imaginary monsters.

This gave him an illusion of control over a world to which he could no longer adapt.

Yesterday, while on facebook, reading a link that Brad Torgersen had put up, relating to the Hugos and science fiction (I didn’t have much time on the net yesterday and it will be spotty all week, mostly because of access/connectivity issues as we change services) the thread got invaded by a young lady (ah! She wouldn’t like that appellation) lecturing us on how the use of Social Justice Warrior was wrong and shaming, and it meant we were all wing-nuts or something.

The funny thing is the longer the thread went on the more she revealed herself for a stereotypical SJW. She believed science fiction needs to be more about underrepresented races/LGBT/other because “people can only identify with characters like themselves” for instance.

Also, of course, she didn’t answer my comment that I often have gay characters, but somehow I get more grief from SJWs than the right wing people. With a few and rather nutty exceptions, right wingers might say “I don’t like this type of thing” but they don’t call me evil, a Nazi or stupid. All of which the SJWs call me for doing gay characters in a way that’s not “progressive.”

That’s because it’s not really about writing the other, for them. It’s about writing the other as a Marxist class, in which each individual is a widget, tainted with class guilt or accruing class credit due to what the “class” is considered and what it has suffered historically.

Though Marxism has proven itself a thoroughly unviable economic and social theory, by impoverishing some of the world’s richest countries and filling graves with over 100 million humans, they learned it as the frame work through which to see the world.

They can’t see the world in any other way. And anyway, if they managed to adapt to this “Marx is dead and so are his theories” world, they’d have to break ties with the old power structure, which would mean they would be cast adrift in a world with no ties and no clear guide to right and wrong.

So instead of trying to adapt, instead of seeing what’s before their eyes: a world that’s unimaginably rich with possibilities; where Marx might be dead and we might be going through a rough patch, but the future of humanity is full of possibilities, where men and women are for the first time freed to be themselves in anyway they want to be (short of the truly impossible) where more people are fed than ever before, where even the “poor” in developed countries live better than kings, they choose to tilt at windmills.

The windmills they’re tilting at are the thoughts and artworks of those who don’t subscribe to their philosophy.

Like Don Quixote they’ll do some damage to whatever stands between them and the monsters of their imagination.

They’ve already done considerable damage to ever field they’ve taken over: education, arts, government, entertainment, even religion.

But in the end, those fields will recover. Partly driven by need to circumvent the damage they cause, people have created other avenues, other means to these pursuits.

The rest of society is routing against the madmen (and madwomen) shouting and throwing fits while charging at the windmills.

But the dying rump end of socialist-communist-Marxist-Leninism can’t do anything but keep charging.

Charge all you want. We’ll repair the windmill sails and life will go on, except for the occasional nuisance of yet another scare-crow would be knight, calling itself the triple lie – social justice warrior: any justice is individual. Punishing individuals for their ancestors actions or the actions of those who look like them is by definition INJUSTICE. As for warriors, they couldn’t fight their way out of wet paperback – sticking a lance through a working part.

And eventually the dying rump will be gone, too ineffective to even annoy us.

And we – and the windmills, which are good and useful portions of society – will go on.

In the end, we win, they lose.

Be not afraid.

The Charity of Strangers — A blast from the past post from June 2007

*What, you’re going to b*tch it’s a blast from the past?  Sorry, but everything hurts.  And no, the appointment wasn’t medical, it was related to trying to get the house ready for sale, and that’s why I’m so tired everything hurts. So, now I’m going to clean my closet.*

I should be working on my overdue novel or writing my overdue short story. I’m not. The reason I’m not is because I’ve been turning an ethical problem in my mind.

And this is going to lead me to break one of my longstanding rules, which is not discussing religion or politics in public.

Not that what I’m about to discuss is religion – exactly – or politics – exactly. But it touches on both.

The fact is, I’m aware that some of you are going to be very angry at me. I’m aware some of you will be angry enough never to read me again. I’m also aware that I’ll be violating one of Heinlein’s rules – to wit – “Only a fool or a sadist tells the unvarnished truth in social situations.”

Perhaps I’m going menopausal. Or perhaps I simply don’t care anymore. Or perhaps sometimes – SOMETIMES – the truth needs to be told.

I know I will get a very strong reaction to this because I’ve discussed this topic before, years ago, in a women’s writing group. The group consensus was that I was “mean” or perhaps “evil” and there was nothing I could do to change it.

And yet – and yet – I see evil in what is going on. And I think it should be stopped.

So I’ll begin at the beginning. Let’s talk about charity.

I grew up, like any normal kid in a fairly “nice” family learning to share and to give to those who had less than I. This was so emphasized that until I was twenty eight I thought I had killed my cousin Dulce by refusing to share my bread and butter with her. (She died in the last small pox epidemic to sweep through Europe. As I had it too, I’m sure some reference was made to the fact we were playing together a week or so before. That my mind attributed this to my refusing to share just goes to show how I was brought up.)

Beyond that, I always had a sense of empathy. Like most of your nerdy writers, as a child I was excluded from enough games and clubs to give me a sympathy for the underdog. So far so good.

And then when I was eleven, I joined a youth group. This was the seventies. We were for social action and justice. Which was our parents’ charity and poor relief dressed up and nice and with a new hairdo.

We spent six months – SIX months holding fund raisers and collecting money. One of the girls in the group had come up with this idea that we should help this family that lived next to her. Six kids in a shotgun apartment, no decent clothes, no toys and most of the time no food on the table.

We worked our behinds off. We were that kind of earnest young people. And I was so proud, so incredibly proud, when we collected the equivalent of about six months’ salary and delivered it to these people. I could imagine what a difference it would make in their lives. I could JUST see it.

I felt very virtuous. This lasted until I told my mom what we’d done. Mom was horrified. Turns out the parents were both alcoholics. Not only wouldn’t the kids get any of the money, but the parents would use it to get stinking drunk, which in turn would result in more aggression towards the kids… you get the point.

Turned out mom was right – bummer – and I’ve never felt that virtuous since.

This is apropos what?

Well, bear with me.

Thirteen years ago when we moved to town – an apartment near downtown – I loved this city. One of the things I loved was how SAFE it was. There were exactly four “homeless” people identifiable as living downtown. I’m sure there were more served by the various shelters, which demanded sobriety or a modicum thereof before you used their services. But downtown, we saw four. And, really, downtown was a safe, friendly place, with a lot of small businesses in place. I could, without driving, buy most things I needed, from groceries to office supplies. The kids could sit out on the front porch, when they were toddlers. It was just nice.

And then it changed.

Because I don’t follow such things it took me time to figure out why – all of a sudden – every corner had people pushing shopping carts. Aggressive people; people mumbling to themselves. It took me time to figure out why the little park in the middle of town was now infested by people sleeping on the grass, threatening (and mugging passerbies.) Why the little businesses were fleeing downtown. Why my friend who worked downtown had issues with people coming into the bookstore and urinating on the carpet.

The city hadn’t grown that much. It might have doubled in size, but I don’t think so.

And the local economy was not worse. On the contrary. We’ve been ranked as one of the more affluent towns in the US. So… how come this problem suddenly.

And then the city forbid panhandling – this is not related, except where it got me to understand the situation a little better – and all of a sudden the newspapers were full of interviews with the people affected…

Do you know, with a few exceptions – families fallen on hard times and the like, though they’re not the kind that haunts parks – the “homeless” population could be divided in two: Young kids – teens to twenties – who’d run away from home. And people who had been living a rootless, boundary-less life since the sixties or seventies.

The funny thing, you know, is that I’d always thought kids who ran away from home did so because they were being abused or there was another huge problem. And some of them did mention that. However, the vast majority of the young indigent said a paraphrase of “I left home because my parents had all these rules. And now, man, if I can’t panhandle, I’ll have to go back.”

The adults, otoh had various expressions of confusion as to why we were doing this to them and how – with no provocation – we were taking away their means of livelihood.

Since that time I’ve been a little skeptical about the type of charity that just gives “services” to the homeless.

My skepticism increased when I realized a) the reason downtown was now full of homeless was a “no questions asked” soup kitchen run by Catholic Charities right smack downtown. b) Homeless were taking the bus from the largest city nearby. (This is not a conjecture. I overheard them talking and on one signal occasion was approached by one demanding to know where the soup kitchen was because he’d just taken the bus to our town. They’d told him there was this great place…)

Okay – hear me out – I’m neither mean nor stupid, nor have I arrived at this opinion without a lot of thought.

Look, I’m not saying we shouldn’t feed the hungry. Yeah, we should if we can. I assure you that for a long part of my teen years I needed – and received – both food and clothing from the charity of strangers. One of the reasons the Red Cross will always get a check from me was the clothes I wouldn’t otherwise have had after that growth spurt at fourteen.

That’s not the point. The point is that the first rule of charity should always be: First Do No Harm.

I still live downtown. I walk by the park a lot. And you know what? I’m sorry for these people. Really and truly sorry. Most of them not only lack the skills to integrate in society – they lack an understanding of WHY they should.

They get food. They get clothes. They get a place to sleep. WHY should they change anything about how they live? Why shouldn’t they do drugs and have promiscuous sex? Those of them who are mentally unstable not only have no reason to seek treatment or to take their medications – they don’t KNOW they SHOULD.

Oh, I’m sure people who volunteer at the soup kitchen – and other places – tell them they should. But… the thing is, they are human right? Humans work mostly on inertia. If you don’t make it difficult to just drift on, why should they try?

Now and then you hear of people who clean up, who move on and up. But these are the exceptions. Like people who lose 100 lbs, they are the exception and display immense willpower.

Our society is so affluent we can afford to give these people a life that’s downright luxurious compared to the peasants of most societies in history. Food everyday. Enough clothes to cover themselves. Clean places to sleep at night.

And we demand nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I realize part of this is a reaction to Victorian times, when it was assumed that people were poor because they’d done something wrong. I know many people are poor through no fault of their own – or at least no fault of their own that they can easily remedy. Lack of skills, lack of will power, just a lack of ambition, are enough to keep someone born outside the right conditions “down.”

But most of the time, none of those are enough to make the person outright “homeless.” That requires worse. A stroke of bad luck might do it, if bad enough. A mental condition. Or… a drug addiction. Alcohol abuse.

The stroke of bad luck usually leads to people living in their cars or crashing with friends. It leads to people who are TECHNICALLY homeless, but not the visibly so. Not the ones who haunt the park and mug passersbye. These people – the homeless with cause or, to use an old-fashioned term, the deserving poor – are undoubtedly there through no fault of their own. And there are already several organizations that assist them. If they need anything, they need an explanation of how to get there from here – how to apply for help; whom to ask.

And then there are the others – the VAST majority of others – which are the ones who patronize this “no questions” soup kitchen. The ones who don’t know why they should change. The ones we are ENABLING in their dysfunction.

Yes, yes, I can hear the shouts now. I’m mean. I don’t care about poor people. I am made uncomfortable by the presence of the needy.

Except… That these “needy” are shutting down businesses and driving other people into poverty. Except that I do donate money/time/service to various causes helping those less fortunate than I. Except that I think what these “needy” need is help of a different sort. Help seeing the way out. Support on their way up. NOT “no guilt” help that keeps them trapped.

HOW can it possibly be that allowing them to self destruct helps them? Or society? Or the communities blighted by their presence?

Look – we’re back to that family and how GOOD I felt “helping” them. Except that I didn’t.

There was a way to help them – oh, sure there was – or at least a way that would have done no harm. We could have bought groceries for them for six months. This might still have led to more drinking as the parents might have sold the groceries – but it would have been more difficult.

Or – and far preferable – we could have given OF OURSELVES. We could have befriended those kids. Eventually taken them home to our comfortable houses for meals/playtime/interaction. This would have helped far more.

BUT that wasn’t easy. And besides, it wasn’t what it was all about. It was about social action. And justice. It was about collecting money and handing over a check. It was about the charity of strangers. And it was about a bunch of pre-teens feeling good and virtuous.

I think this soup kitchen – which is now undergoing a massive fundraising to expand – is about exactly those things. I’m sorry, but I believe it is about people who volunteer there and people who donate to it feeling good about themselves. D*mn good.

And who am I to grudge people a bit of self-satisfaction?

Well… perhaps I’m an evil bitch, because I feel that self-satisfaction arrived at the expense of other people’s lives is bad. Perhaps I’m an evil bitch because I care not only about the small businesses being driven from downtown and the families that can no longer work in the park but these people who are being “helped” to remain lost in a moral no-man’s land. With no way out.

I’m not against charity. I’m against charity to faceless strangers. I think most of the time it ends up doing evil.

There are ways to help – but those demand that you actually get close and personal. That you find out what’s holding these people down. That you CARE. For more than feeling virtuous. And that, let’s face it, it’s more than most people have the time or patience for.

Recently, reading St. Dale by Sharyn McCrumb (excellent book, btw) I came across a joke she quotes. A man is struggling in the water. “Help, help, I can’t swim.” Another man is standing by and says, “I can’t swim either. Will $20 help?”

This is what this “no strings” soup kitchen reminds me of. This is what catering to people’s physical needs and not their mental/spiritual ones reminds me of.

The charity of strangers. Well intentioned, perhaps. But mostly about the giver.

And in the end, I think in more than fifty percent of the cases it violates the dictate to “First, do no harm.”

 

Post later

Sorry, I have to deal with some appointment stuff.  will post nearer noon.

Someone was supposed to send me a guest post and didn’t!

Try not to break things or each other.  SPQR has the baton to close discussions that are driving everyone insane.  He’s used to command.

Positively Living Lies

A couple of days ago, I offended one of you who thought I was being facetious at Canada’s expense (which I only do in terms of accent, and which is my right as a linguist. Also, because my accent is the funniest of them all) when I said they’d had something like 10 constitutions. I was in fact repeating the claim of a Canadian (and patriotic) commenter who thought this flexibility of their uniting legal principle made Canada superior to us, hide bound Americans.

Turns out this is wrong… but maybe not as wrong as we thought. Canada has only had two constitutions. However, it has had several revisions.

Now, you’re going to say so has America. We’re up to how many amendments? And that’s true. Except that our amendments aren’t as sweeping. They usually concentrate on one topic and also technically can’t go against the tenor or thrust of the founding documents.

Note I said generally. I’d rather you didn’t get lost in minutia about the prohib– Oh, who the heck am I kidding. You guys will battle out the small details in obsessive frenzy and still remain friends and Huns. That’s what makes this place so much fun. So carry on.

At any rate this is not about Canada’s Constitution, because I’m really not in a place where I can take time to research it and do it justice, but about the thought it sparked.

The reasons the original commenter was so proud of Canada’s flexibility was that he pointed out it allowed them to “modernize” and grant citizens “positive rights.”

In fact the lack of positive rights is a reason our Pres(id)ent Affliction thinks the constitution is passe and should be revoked.

For those of you who don’t know what positive rights are, they’re not “I’m dang right positive that you can’t do anything the constitution doesn’t allow, and I’ve got this here gun to positively ensure that.” (One kinda wishes it were though.)

Positive rights are guaranteeing things, usually material, that are in the “rights of men” (a well known Soviet tool to fire back at free countries that called it on its abuses) but not ah… accruing to the human condition.

For instance, some countries guarantee “minimal sustenance” or a “minimum income” or “housing” or “health.”

The problem with these guarantees are that you can’t obtain any of those things without taking them from another human being. Just saying “you have a right” doesn’t cause them to appear out of clear air. So the “positive right” of one person is the “negative theft of the other.”

While I think all taxation is theft (hey, I’m clear headed on this, okay) I think some theft is sometimes vaguely justified on the grounds of “we need to have common defense and we’ll defend the guy we stole from, too.

Mind you, this is not particularly morally right, but in a world where just being inoffensive doesn’t guarantee you’re not attacked (on the contrary) it’s necessary for collective survival.

However while you can extract penumbras and emanations where “to make everyone minimally affluent is good for everyone.” (Government is a word for the things we choose to do together, like drunken orgies and baby sacrifice!) Those are a bit far fetched. It’s pretty easy to prove it’s easier and more profitable to defend x amount of territory and everyone in it than one individual here and one there, by themselves. It’s harder to prove that making sure Miss Aramintha Smith in Kentucky having a minimum of 20k she doesn’t have to work for is better for me, and so I should make that amount over at a minimum per year. I think Miss Aramintha should get off her behind and go to work.

(It’s even harder to prove that I derive benefit from sending 20k of my money a year to the Palestinian authority or that I derive benefit from paying for Nancy Pelosi’s liquor which is about the same amount, give or take a million. Which just goes to show our Constitution is a fine thing and we should try following it, sometime.)

None of which means, understand, that I’m against helping people in need. In fact, if that’s where it stayed it would be fine.

As some of you comment with SS Marriage, (Yes that topic is still closed, because no one is going to change his/her mind. However I CAN see your point in this regard.) is that it slides. Same Sex Marriage being legal the perpetual agitators will move on to polygamy and incest and whatever. (I just suggest making it hard and fast TWO consenting adults and then ignoring the shrieking.) Part of this is of course Marxism. The serpent might be gone (or perhaps undead. Hello Mr. Putin. But its agit prop lives on.) And part of it is intellectuals. Those of you in the sf/f community where we all “think too much” know exactly what I’m talking about. Having staked out an extreme position, no one stays happy with it. You must prove how enlightened you are by claiming yet a more extreme position. This is why, btw, the Social Justice Warrying is now moving to “trans rights” which will render them irrelevant because those are a minority of a minority.

But this happens with everything, not just sex. So if we grant SOME positive rights, like say the right to a safe living place (how we keep it safe is something else) and food, next thing you know we’ll see articles on the plight of the poor who can’t take European vacations. Even though a lot of the employed and “wealthy” can’t either. But the argument would be they could if they chose to/spent all their money/put it on credit. While the poor can’t.

This is one of the reasons I’m against life imprisonment instead of the death penalty. I’ve seen this road in Portugal. First you say “we’ll lock them and throw away the key.” And next thing you know there are articles on the horrible punishment of being locked up for life, and are they really a danger when they’re old? Then it will be “Aren’t twenty years enough?”

I don’t know now, but when I came to the US the penalty for murder was about 7 years, with time off for good behavior. (Keep that in mind when they lament how many people are incarcerated in the US.)

So… How many “rights” plausible of interpretation do we want to “grant?” It starts with aid to women and children, and it ends up with subsidizing college and medical care for non citizens here illegally. This is a provable course of “positive rights” where the government grants you benefits at others’ expense.

And since “positive rights” is a proven normal thing for people to demand of their governing bodies (mostly because it looks like the money comes out of nowhere. They don’t have to see that they’re stealing someone’s savings or retirement fund. They just see “the government gave me this”) the only defense against them (THE ONLY defense against them) is to have a founding document that lays out the rules and is not easily revised. And one which points out there are very few things government as power over.

If government can change the rules at will, in an endless game of Calvin Ball, what you have Is not a country, but an ever changing dance where the partners move around but the government gets more and more power, no matter under what guise of benevolence, until the “law” is what government says.

That goes for easily revisable constitutions and it goes double with salt on it for the penumbras and shadows of the “Living Constitution.” You want to add Health Care to it? Or a right to privacy, for that matter, or even a right to Drugs, Sex and Rock and Roll? Fine. You stop peering into that venerable document like a fake seer into a glass ball and discerning shapes that were never there. Instead, you come out in the open and say “I want to change this” and “this is different.” And then – then – we can have a vote on it like civilized human beings. You might still blunder – the Prohibition, again – but at least it will be a common blunder.

This “Living Constitution” and “executive power” thing are tattered masks pulled over the Will To Power you know damn well your fellow citizens wouldn’t grant you.

Which of course is why you employ these.

Stop it. We can see your face. It’s old as sin and new as the Stalinist purges.

And we are not amused.

 

Still Alive

Okay, here’s what’s happening.

We’re moving stuff out of the house and starting to prepare it for sale.  So, I got a little side tracked and the blog didn’t get posted.  Rest assured I’m alive.

Beyond that — I’ve talked of being ill.  As a result of tests I got an anerobic infection, which is hopefully now gone.  At least I finished the world’s worst antibiotic (dizziness and nausea were strong side effects.)

However the tests while negative for the big bad indicate the big bad is on the way, as it were, so there will be an operation in a couple of months.

So, sorry, not posting a real blog today.

Sigh, I guess I’ll have to let you redecorate the blog until I can post a real blog tomorrow.  Until then, kindly don’t cause too much damage.  I hope I don’t find any more elephants crammed in the closet, and do try not to spray paint the elves again.  They hate it.

In the World of The Red Queen

How did we get here? And why is it so dark? And why does everything look so strange?

It’s not just that charming lady (I’m stretching a point, okay?) Tanya Cohen willfully claiming that having your speech restricted is true freedom of speech. Oh, no. I wish it were. That would be easy. We have places for people who confuse the meaning of words to that extent and who seem unable to reason their way enough to cross the street. Or, okay, not places, but at least medicines.

But the topsy-turvey nature of our present reality goes well beyond Tanya’s problems.

Take, for instance, how people say things, publically and in a way that seems to make them all proud of themselves, about how we should believe rape reports regardless of whether or not they’re true.

Or take how I’ve been accused of racism and white supremacism for pointing out present day Muslim culture is sick. (I didn’t say all Muslims subscribed to the culture, just that the culture in Muslim countries has issues that completely dwarf ours. Apparently it’s bad to be against female mutilation and stoning. Who knew?)

Or the way I was called transphobic for saying men and women are different, not just in external genitals but in internals, because the hormones shape brain development. This is something that no brain expert would dispute, and even I who am no brain expert can’t begin to dispute. But apparently saying this, saying that men and women have different equipment between the ears as well as between the legs is transphobic and homophobic to the point it caused someone to throw up on reading it.

This not only baffled me, it baffled one of the gay readers of this blog (and a friend) who pinged me to say “if men and women were alike inside, then how could anyone describe himself as a woman in a man’s body? And if men and women were exactly alike except for externals, why would anyone say they are gay – or straight for that matter? After all there are prosthesis and they’re not expensive.”

It’s a mystery, but apparently it’s a pattern of thinking, if you can call it that.

It is also racist to say our president has any issues, even though, you know, my lying eyes can’t help but seeing them and my problem with him is not the black but the red. (I have a cold war injury. I remember communism. It only hurts when I laugh. Fortunately I’m more likely to cry.)

Also I’m misogynist. Too many reasons to list, but it includes thinking women shouldn’t be given affirmative action because cream rises. And my thinking that being promiscuous is not mandatory for young females. And my thinking that having children is actually something most women aspire too. Oh, yeah, and my thinking that some women are morons. Granted, fewer women than men are morons. OTOH statistical distribution wise, there are more male geniuses. We women mostly cluster in the middle. There is also my firm belief that women often also have a dysfunctional culture in groups, and that the greatest enemy of female success are other women.

All this makes me misogynist to go with my racism and my transphobia and homophobia.

And all I can think is “Why are we here? How did we get here? Why is it so dark?”

Liberalism, the real kind, started off so well. It was all about allowing the individual to succeed and fail on his merits; allowing each person to determine what constituted his happiness; allowing people to speak freely and to practice whichever religion they liked, and to strive and earn or fail to earn, each to his capacity and inclination.

Why did we get to this place where suddenly we all have to be the same and the same we have to be is a white male (whatever the feminists say. Greatest case of raging penis envy ever. That’s why they hate women having children or wanting to be mothers) obsessed with work and casual sex and voting straight party democrat.

It’s dark in here. I think we’re up a duck’s bottom. Because up a duck’s bottom is the only way any of this would make any sense at all.

Now it’s bad to say criminals are bad. It’s bad to have a gun in self-defense. It’s bad to say communism was a bloody (literally) failure. It’s bad to believe our lying eyes and not the word of our betters.

And I want to scream. My middle fingers are screaming up.

What got us up the duck’s bottom was that some fluffy people went too far. If the individual was so important, it must be because we were all born saints. From that too comes the idea that if we’re not all succeeding it must be a systemic problem, not an individual decision.

And once Marx put the cap on that bit of madness, everything got subverted. Because if the capitalist system is the original sin that causes all human badness how can we condemn criminals? And if everyone should have equally good results, then there must be discrimination. And anyone who says that things are different, that some humans, even some classes of humans are, statistically, different from each other, anyone who says that communism and socialism are not moving us near to Earthly paradise, anyone who disagrees with any of that… well, they’re the culprit and should be destroyed.

This is enough to keep most people quiet while our current administration does things that punish our friends, empower our enemies and endanger the entire world.

After all the press reserves particular words for those who question the status quo and the received wisdom: evil, extreme, wing nut.

This is never applied to supporters of a system of governance that saw 100 million (a low estimate) into the grave. Instead it’s applied to the proponents of a system of limited government that has created the greatest prosperity and ease for the common man that this sorry globe has ever known.

And people stay quiet, in the main, because they’re afraid of being called names, of being hunted down, of having their reputation and livelihood destroyed for daring challenge the insanity.

Which is how we find ourselves living in the Red Queen’s world, where words mean what she says they mean and everything changes at random and only her majesty can dictate what is true.

As someone pointed out it’s like a child crossing a tile floor, who is beaten for stepping on a particular tile, which looks just like every other tile. And the fact he can’t tell the difference is what makes him so particularly evil. And this goes on till he admits he’s evil or he cowers on a corner of the room, with his hands over his head, sobbing.

Metaphorically speaking, there are a lot of us either admitting they’re evil to make the punishment stop, or hiding in a corner of the room, hands over head.

I could join them, I could. For a long time, I just stood in one square, paralyzed, afraid to move.

But the more this goes on, the more I become convinced that if we are LUCKY we’ll be called “the mad years” in future history books. If we’re unlucky we’ll be called the “pants on head running around making train noises years.” And if we’re really unlucky, we’ll end up not being called anything, because there will be no human civilization left on Earth to write books about us.

Which is why I refuse to just sit in a corner hands over head. It’s not because I don’t feel the madness around me. It’s not that I don’t get tired.

It’s because I want my children and my (at least my adopted) grandchildren to have a future. I want humanity to have a future.

So someone needs to point out the mad people are mad. And tell the sane ones:

Be Not Afraid! In the end, we win, they lose.

The future of humanity demands it.

Tell the Truth

And shame the devil used to be a well known proverb.

Now… ah, now things have changed. Now we’re treated to the spectacle of Tanya Cohen a “human rights” activist telling us that “hate speech” is against human rights, and that, therefore we should stop people from speaking freely.

In sentences that should make you fall on your knees – if you are an American citizen/resident – and pray to the divinity of your choice in joy and gratitude that you live in the – still, despite all – land of the free, she excoriates the United States for being the only one of the Western civ countries to have no laws against hate speech.

Mike Walsh raged at her, so I don’t have to. You should totally read his article.

I did not follow his link to her full rant, because, heaven help me, I don’t need to become the first verified case of spontaneous human combustion.

But one of the things he quoted from her, stuck in my craw, like something indigestible and possibly poisonous.

First up, yes, I do strongly believe in freedom of speech, and I’ve worked with many human rights organizations to protest against genuine restrictions on freedom of speech and expression, such as government crackdowns on LGBT activists in Russia. Freedom of speech is the core of all democratic societies, and it’s a freedom that must be upheld in the strongest terms possible. But the people responding to my column with anger do not seem to understand what freedom of speech is. They seem to make no distinction between free speech and hate speech, and they seem to believe that freedom of speech includes the freedom to say anything.

Does she read what she writes? Is there in fact in this woman the vaguest scintilla of self-awareness or the ability to reflect on the random thoughts that, like scintillating and meaningless flickers of consciousness cross her brain? Or is she just some sort of parrot repeating meaningless phrases that she lacks the capacity to realize are meaningless?

How could she possibly have come to the conclusion that there can be freedom of speech but it doesn’t mean “saying anything they want?”

What does she define as hate speech? How can she define hate speech? Is a Muslim speaking about how women should be subjected to male rule in everything committing hate speech? Or is the activist who denounces such a Muslim (should such “activist” exist, of course, which in the west, by and large doesn’t. Well, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is now in the west and she is such an activist, beautiful and brave, but almost alone.)

Who is to parse through the forest of hate speech? Who is to decide which of the wounding words are hate speech? Who is to come from heaven and give us the ultimate judgement?

Later on another quote gives us the clue to the puzzle.

I do believe that, one day, the US will indeed pass a Human Rights Act and/or a new anti-discrimination law to outlaw hate speech and other forms of speech which violate basic human rights. Those of us on the right side of history, meanwhile, will be writing columns like mine, while racist bigots continue to write angry comments speaking out against human rights.

And I do believe she’s full of Shiite, and also that that phrase “human rights” doesn’t mean what she thinks it means, since she thinks it means humans have a right not to be offended. But never mind that – or rather do – let’s concentrate instead on the absolute stupidity of “the right side of history.”

Can someone please tell this overgrown child that history is merely the recorded progression of human events, and that it has no sides, right or wrong. Oh, sure, the victor writes his side as right, but other than that, there is nothing that – as she believes – compels humans history towards the ‘progressive’ narrative she loves. Yeah, yeah, that old Fraud, that ridiculous ink stained blob of hate and bile Karl Marx thought that history came with an arrow. He also thought Communism was scientific, something he divined by the method of pulling it from his posterior since he was no kind of scientist.

Those “Human Rights” to honor and dignity and what have you that she’s so devoted to were a Soviet ploy foisted on the UN to give them the ability to criticize truly free countries on specious grounds.

Specious, you say?

Surely unlike little Tanya, you can think. What is honor? What is dignity? Define those concepts in absolute enough terms that they can be used in law.

Heck, we have years of argument on things such as “what is libel” and keep coming up dry to the point that different countries have different definitions of it.

Using the idea that if you offend anyone, you’ve committed a hate crime, you can silence anyone, stop any troublesome questioner, turn “justice” upside down and define it as “social justice” which is in fact injustice in which people can be held liable for the alleged crimes of people who look vaguely like them and who died well before they were born.

Again, what is a hate crime? Killing people, or pointing out that the killers’ twisted and atavistic culture advocates subjugation of all who thing differently? Mutilating young girls and forcing them to marry much older men against their will, or pointing out that certain cultures mutilate young girls and force them to marry much older men against their will? Raging and demanding a share of other people’s hard earned wealth? Or pointing out that the underclass brings itself to straits through lack of certain cultural virtues?

There isn’t an answer to this, because there is no such thing as “hate speech.” There is hateful speech, and some of it is despicable. Say, when people tell two women who are defending freedom of expression that they’re the worst person in the world.

Note though that even that didn’t hurt the two reprobates… er… women except by making them wonder how they can both be the world’s worst person.

However sometimes the speech that seems despicable turns out to have been necessary. And the speech that everyone thought was correct and right and on the right side of history (say, the whole racial superiority and Arian wonderfulness thing so popular less than a century ago) turns out to be crazier than worm sh*t and to lead to a whole lot of senseless death and destruction.

That Tanya never even contemplates that the ability to define “hate speech” is going to be in the hands of the ruling class, and that any restrictions at all on speech mean there’s a good chance those silenced will be people standing athwart metaphoric trains headed to ovens yelling “stop” means she doesn’t think in any significant sense of the word.

Like a well trained parrot she repeats what she’s been taught.

And it is because of her, and her imitators in our own field, those who define justice as injustice and gagging as freedom of speech that you and I have to continue screaming.

Screaming as loudly and offensively as we can that the king is naked.

No one has the right not to be offended. Sometimes the thing that hurts the most is the thing you most need to hear.

And sometimes the thing that hurts the most is just a hurtful thing – and you need to speak back and refute it.

What you don’t need to do is murder cartoonists. H*ll you don’t even need to murder Tanya Cohen. You just need to point and laugh at her until she slinks back under the totalitarian rock she crawled out from, and maybe uses her time in the moist darkness to do some thinking on her crimes against reason and her enabling of totalitarians.

Perhaps she’ll even realize that any speech that has constraints isn’t free.  Then she’ll stop being the sweat rag of totalitarian wanna-bes.

She — and us — will be the better for it.

 

 

We Are Not The World

I was seventeen the first time I packed a suitcase and headed off into the unknown by myself. (Well, technically with an exchange student group, but really by myself, because I hadn’t known any of those people long and wasn’t close to any of them.)

Even then, this wasn’t the first time I’d met different cultures or had to adjust my perception of the world.

This is because – heaven help me – I was born in a country so small that if you want to swing anything larger than a kitten, you have to have a passport. When my dad showed me Portugal on the globe when I was three, it was the size of his pinky nail.

And yet, as small as it is, it has fossilized cultures and subcultures. I thought I could speak normal every day Portuguese, until I found myself at six, in the classroom, realizing I had no clue what the standard word for bathroom was, because we didn’t use it around the house.

In fact, by the end of that year, I’d learned almost an entire second language. Add to that that written Portuguese was a different dialect than spoken Portuguese, and it was a year of acculturation. As was, six years later, when I went to school at a magnet school in what was called the “Hollywood” area of the big city next to the village, because it was where all the big mansions were. Again, there were different ways of behaving and being in the world.

But beyond that, every Summer Portugal gets infested with tourists, rather like my current city does. (How do you answer a tourist asking where Pikes Peak is? “First, you go to Pueblo.”)

Only these are foreign tourists. And since I was learning languages, I was doing translating to and from mostly English, but sometimes French and Italian from about the age of fifteen.

On top of that I read books. A lot of books that weren’t set in Portugal. Books set in England, the US, Australia, Romania, France, Poland.

All of which is to try to explain why half the time when I hear people talk about world politics, or about where we’re headed or about anything at all having to do with mass scale culture and culture change, with interactions between cultures, with individual reactions to cultural events, my back brain locks into a kind of “argh.” And that’s all I can think “argh.”

Look, perhaps it is a very bad thing that the most advanced culture of our time (us, the French just THINK they are) and the one with the most outsized influence, is a continent-spanning, relatively uniform (shush. Yeah, I know the differences. Shush) culture.

I find after living here for a few decades, I too am starting to think in terms of “the US is the world.”

The US isn’t the world. This is obvious, if you think about it a moment, but most people never do.

This is not just the other side of the political divide where they obsess about cataloguing just every kind of sexual orientation possible (and some impossible) and detail the rights for them, as though this is the way to the future… All the while sweetly unaware that in 99% of the world the notion is not just morally laughable, but laughable period. Most of the rest of the world isn’t rich enough to worry about such frills. They’re too busy surviving.

It is true for our side too, because the extreme Libertarians think that if the US stops caring about the rest of the world no one will attack us, which is a delusion that denies the rest of the world the right of free agency, free culture, and ways of thinking that are markedly different from ours. Meanwhile the small l libertarians and the conservatives, in their most despondent times talk about how the US is now a dictatorship or the equivalent, thereby revealing they know bloody nothing about dictatorships or even mild unpleasantness. (Oh, I think we should fight for every inch of liberty and individual determination taken from us, don’t get me wrong. But don’t go imagining we’re anywhere as bad as the rest of the world.)

And then there’s the international comparisons. Oh, sweet baby Buddha the international comparisons and studies.

I’ve mentioned before how seriously ya’ll take the numbers you get from abroad. You wouldn’t if you knew the fifty million ways they can be fudged, and are. Oh, not to fool you, but because other countries are really different.

Look, France has three kinds of “murder” and only one is counted as “murder-murder” in statistics, while we count it all as murder.

And Portugal – Oh, if I hear one more hopeful question about how great legalizing drugs in Portugal must be because look how arrests have pummeled… I’m going to remind the person how great Obamacare has been for job creation. Because now full time jobs are part time, so everyone works two jobs. Yeah. In the same way Portugal decriminalized drugs. That means there are fewer arrests for drugs. So… um… yeah. I’m not saying this might not be a good thing. I don’t live there, so I don’t know. Though the last time I was over it seemed to me they had a massive drug problem, kind of like here in the early seventies. BUT that was an impression, and I have no data. Neither does anyone else.

So why does all this upset me?

Well, it upsets me in books. Heinlein does it, but his future history provided for a sort of universal Americanization of the world. Most writers don’t. They just assume things are the same everywhere. In the future, we are using the same forms and fashions, the same demarcations of adulthood and accomplishment, as we do in the US now.

But more than that it upsets me in politics.

If the left stopped and thought for a moment, they would realize their “progress” is not actually proceeding everywhere in the same direction; it’s not starting from the same place; and the idea of an international society is a pipe dream.

However, it took Heinlein taking a world tour to fully get it. Before that he’d assumed, like most Americans, that it wasn’t that different. After his world tour, he understood that things like the UN can’t and won’t work because people had different aims, interests and specialties.

As for the right… I don’t think any of you realizes how close Europe is to snapping. We tend to judge them for ourselves, but the Charlie Hebdo thing bit deep, and they’re going through a sort of crisis of their own, anyway, before that.

And I don’t think anyone realizes just how different the texture of life is elsewhere.

If you did, you’d understand why America won’t be left alone. America is the clean, shoe-wearing kid in the playground. The fact he washed in the river and made his shoes himself, out of bark, won’t save him. On the contrary, because it means they too could have done it, if they’d tried. And then that kid is weird. Instead of believing in the sovereignty of blood, or of caste, it believes in this individuality and freedom thing.

So the other kids will keep poking. They have too. We’re too different.

Only by knowing how different we are can we be a model, instead of an irritation. Only by looking further than our little differences and our petty categorizing of wants can we get anywhere.

I’m minded of the story Heinlein told in Have Spacesuit, when the kid has government studies in school, and they all decide every kid must have his own room.

At which point the father points out the family with more kids than house can’t comply, no matter how much they might want to. So that can’t be mandatory, because it can’t happen.

I wish our elites, who dream of a multi-gendered, multi-accepting, transnational world understood the only way their world would work is every one in it is an American. No other culture is equipped to even consider those as needs. (Oh, the rest of the Anglosphere, maybe, but not like America.)

They are sophisticated, and they have friends abroad, and they’ve traveled.

But in their sophistication, they never realize they don’t see beyond the surface. They’re blinded by what they think they know and what they’ve been told is true.

Too blind to see the real amazing diversity of cultures out there. And the way in which they’re their own microcosmos, self-directed and capable of decisions we can’t control.

Maybe then they’d understand that hating America is hating the only hope for achieving everything they hold dear.

And maybe they’d start their civilizing process.

The Tight Rope Act — a blast from the past post from February 2011

*So you don’t worry — I am better.  Much better.  Unfortunately the antibiotic messes with my fluid balance which has given me headaches from beyond, so I’m putting this here from a few years ago.

Two interesting observations — I’d just “lost” a fledgeling when I wrote this.  No to the best of my knowledge he’s not dead — it’s been a few years — but I couldn’t get him to understand the difference between stories you tell yourself and stories you tell the world.  In the end, he preferred his inner narration and refused to shape it in a way others might be interested.  This memory was revived recently by a certain obsessive author that some of my fans/friends have tangled with.  The thing is, they keep thinking this man is especially crazy or dangerous, but my feeling is “there but for the grace of G-d go I — and every other professional writer. Sometimes I think the miracle is that we DO pull away sufficiently to write stuff others want to read.”

The Tight Rope Act — a blast from the past post from February 2011

When I was very little and very sickly, before I learned how to read much less write, I spent the time I was kept alone, indoors, while recovering from some dread awfuls, making lego houses. It came naturally, after that, to make up stories about the people who lived in the lego houses.

After a while, learning and listening to adults became a mission of finding facts and “how things work” to incorporate into my stories. Some of the story lines and some of the characters have been with me in one form or another since then.

Needless to say I started writing stories as soon as I could write for a long time without discomfort – about six. But the “untamed” story lines, the ones that I told myself, continued in the background. And some of these people became as real to me as my best friends.

Right here I want it to be perfectly clear I don’t hear voices and I don’t see things. Having just watched Harvey, this is an important distinction to make. The only way I see things others don’t is if my fever is through the roof (and then mostly I see cartoon characters. Don’t ask. Tom and Jerry, yep) or if I take anything morphine-based, which seems to have a disproportionate effect on me, which is why I don’t take it unless the pain is truly unbearable. (Unbearable – can’t stop either crying or throwing up JUST from the pain.) Then I see Tom and Jerry speaking Latin to each other. (You wish I was joking. You’re just jealous because you don’t have the high class hallucinations we published authors get.)

This is not auditory or visual or any of that type of input. I’ve HEARD some writers have those. I’ve read The Evolution Of The Bicameral Mind. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

My storylines and characters exist in the same space as the “constant internal narration.” If you have no clue what I’m talking about, you’ve never stepped back and thought about it. There is a voice, always, inside your head telling you who you are. That voice sometimes takes on multiple tones and allows you to debate things with yourself. “No, I shouldn’t go to the store, because” “But I need to go to the store.” Etc. there’s also the times it replays arguments you had, or conversations where you’re not sure you got your point across. The story lines and characters are sort of like that, only these conversations never happened in the real world. Yet, it has the same feel. I.e., I can’t just change a character or what he/she says, just like I can’t just change what my mom told me when I was three. I’ve always figured it’s because my subconscious is a MUCH better writer than I am and creates this stuff without asking me about it. Usually I find the characteristics that bugged me about a character or a situation are needed – at least if these characters/situations are in an actual story (more on that later.)

From what I’ve found, I’m not unique in this. Most, if not all writers, have this going on in their heads. Some with one world, some with several, some with a world that’s much like our own, some with wildly alien lands. Some writers even have the full blown auditory/visual thing going.

Which brings me to why I’m writing this. Most of us who have this in ANY degree think we’re completely alone and possibly insane. My first clue I was not totally alone was when I read an interview with Rex Stout, when someone asked him how Nero Wolfe was doing, and Stout was able to give him the exact place Wolfe was, what he was reading, etc. as though Nero lived next door. After that, I became a member of a tightly knit writers’ group and found I wasn’t alone.

I still have the two or three “primitive” and hyper extended story lines going on in my head, but these days I tend to shove them to the back. I’ve learned to put my peculiarity in service of my art, and I USE that in the service of my writing. If a character never comes alive – and yes, I’ve had those – and the scenes don’t start playing themselves out in my head – including scenes I’d NEVER put in the book but which explain actions in the book – then the book is very difficult to write. To date I’ve done three that way, and I’m not going to tell you which, because I don’t think you can tell. It was just hell to write. And I have had one set of books in which only ONE character came to life. The others were “placers”. This is strikingly obvious and reviewers have noted it.

In addition, I have stories that come to my head by means of a fully formed character wanting to discuss things. This is why walking, ironing and repetitive tasks are ideal for coming up with story ideas. The mind goes somewhere else.

Again, I assume – and it’s the only explanation I can come up with – that as a result of my boring, lonely childhood my mind learned to amuse itself by playing chess between my conscious and my subconscious. My subconscious sets up the board, as it were, and throws up these situations and creatures for the conscious to play with. This is also not a bad analogy by the way on how to control it, survive it and use it.

So, why am I telling you this? Well… there are several reasons.

First of all, there is a huge possible trap for new writers who are of the type I am – people who want to write because the stories won’t leave them alone.

If you think of your world as pretty toys, spun out by your subconscious to amuse YOU particularly, you’ll understand how fascinating these stories are to the people who created them. Most of them, once they become hyperextended over years partake a lot of the characteristics of soaps, or even Lost (coff.) People die. People come back to life. Bizarre and purposeless stuff happens. But because these are designed to catch YOU and they are aimed specifically at you, you’ll remain fascinated. If your particular angle is sex, your plots will have tons of sex. Mine had/has tons and tons of medical details – because I grew up in a family with a lot of doctors and absorbed a lot of the interest, even if I never wanted to do it myself. These days mine also have a ton of start up businesses, economics and new inventions, because those subjects fascinate me.

For new writers, who are afraid to talk to anyone about it, the danger is that they will get caught in the first world they (subconsciously) created and which to them is so immensely fascinating. ANYONE who has been in a writers’ group for any time knows the “eternal beginner” who writes story after story after story in a world that is obviously NOT commercial by anyone else’s standards – a world that’s so targeted or so icky or so bizarre that you know no one else will ever buy it. But the writer remains trapped. If you read Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, and examine the dromes, these are something like it. The dream catches you to feed the dream. If you go on in it, you’ll never be published (more on why this is important later) and you and the drome will eventually die together.

The type of writer who does this type of story usually has ABSOLUTELY no control over them, either. You start noticing after a while, that their stories partake this dream-like and formless quality and it’s not unusual, if you approach them, to be told that “it happened that way.” That means they’re being used by the subconscious, instead of using it. It’s one of the many ways potentially great authors die on the vine.

Worse, with the advent of self publishing as economically feasible and THE way to get in, a lot of these writers will churn out endless novels that two people read, and go quietly insane, never understanding why they don’t sell more.

So what can you do about it?

1– (Sorry to use Pratchett as a guide here, but the man presumably knows what this is like.) Always remember which voice is yours, there inside your head. This is very important because it’s easy to become fascinated by a character and let it take over. I wonder how many of the cases of “possession” or personality disorders are just that.

Remember that your mind is yours. For whatever reason, you created this mechanism to cope with reality. Perhaps like me you were just bored and lonely. Or perhaps, like others, the situation was unbearable and you escaped it.

You might not even remember the circumstances, but do, please, remember, you are you — the other “voices” are just stories wanting to be told.

2- Seize the story, instead of the other way around. Yes, okay, people getting complex operations to repair bizarre injuries might be endlessly fascinating to you. Understand it’s not fascinating to most people. Your world might marry high tech and a neolithic society, because at the time you created it you had clue zero how that stuff worked. Understand you can’t use it that way in a story, unless you explain it. Then deliberately intervene. “No, it didn’t happen that way, it happened this way.” Give the story form, shape it (studying stories that worked commercially helps, here) and write it as a commercial story. You’ll find this helps too. Once it’s out there, in commercial form, it will cease to obsess you. Though you’ll probably get others and have to write them too…

3- Take a clue from stories about possession (I believe a lot of them centered on this type of mechanism) and bring in more devils to drive out that one devil. Weirdly, this does work. By conjuring up a lot of different stories (not in the same world) it divides your subconscious’ ability to create lures for you. That means each story line will be SLIGHTLY less fascinating to you, personally, and you’ll take better control of it.

4 – Publish it. Eric Flint has been known to say that if you’re not crazy when you become a writer, you’ll be by the time you’re a professional. He says this is not so much because we have to work with imagination at a level kids do, but because we live such solitary isolated lives, in which weird thoughts and ideas can seem perfectly plausible. It is the same with your world. You must expose it to the sunshine of other people’s minds. All the unpublished, cherished, obsessed upon worlds I know grow in “ick” factor. It’s the nature of the beast to make itself even more targeted and push more buttons. Which means “more insane” and also “would cause more readers to run screaming into the night” And, UNFORTUNATELY more importantly “will distort my sense of reality till I start reacting oddly to real life.” You must make it passable enough for other people to read. And this will allow you to control you own obsessions and move on.

As writers, we’re creatures who shape dreams. To some extent these dreams also shape our lives. We must walk that fine line every day. I hope this will help people stay on it, without falling into either side.

Thoughts from a Military Mom – Amanda Green

Thoughts from a Military Mom – Amanda Green

 

Yesterday, during a conversation with my son, the conversation turned as it does so often to the military. I had seen an article a day or so earlier from someone who suggested we do away with our military academies. According to the author of the article, the academies are not filled with the best and the brightest. They no longer prepare our officers for the rigors of command. What they are, he alleges, are drains on the tax dollar and underproductive. You see, as far as this person is concerned, the military does well at training but not at education.

Now, I’ll admit, I don’t particularly like the admission process for the service academies. If you or your family doesn’t have political clout, it becomes extremely difficult to gain admittance, no matter what your academic record or military career goals. Each year, a number of appointments go unfilled because the politicians simply don’t use their allotted numbers. Worse, many of the politicians don’t let those students applying for one of their allotted slots know if they have made the final cut for consideration or not.

In short, the application process is flawed.

But what really got to me about the article is that the author of it, who happens to be an instructor at the Naval Academy (but not, if I remember correctly, a member of the military). Worse, his whole emphasis was that it is up to the Republicans to change the system since they are the ones who are so worried about our tax dollars. The Republicans are to reach across the aisle and take care of this horrible problem. The Republicans will be at fault if they do nothing and we keep spending tax dollars on the academies.

Funny, did the academies become a problem only after the Republicans regained the majority of Congress or is this sour grapes? My bet is on sour grapes.

Or maybe it has something to do with the Moon or the water or something else. After all, not long before reading that article (which appeared in Salon and that, in itself, say a lot) I heard a commentary about another article concerning the service academies. This other article apparently condemned the academies because they – gasp – made their cadets do late night exercises and pushed them hard, not only physically but in their studies. They interrupted the sleep of the cadets at times to run surprise exercises. They didn’t give the cadets as much free time as students at “real” colleges” got.

In short, the academies were mean and didn’t let their cadets get a good night’s sleep every night.

My first thought upon hearing this was a long and loud “WTF?!?” Then I found myself wondering if the person so upset that cadets might be awakened in the middle of the night to go on a run or something similar had the same concerns about fraternities and the pranks they pull on their pledges. But fraternities are allowed to do this, I guess, because they are social organizations and booze.

My son’s reaction, much like mine, was quick and explosive. My son, who is currently serving in the military, is not a graduate of one of the service academies. In fact, he is one of those who tried to get in but we didn’t have the political clout and, worse, one of our senators was notorious for not using all of her appointments – and she failed to do so the year my son applied. No, my son is a proud Texas Aggie and member of the Corps of Cadets. The Corps that has trained up more flag rank officers than any other college except the service academies.

With all their faults, the service academies do serve a purpose. They help forge the officers that will lead our military. Part of that process is throwing things at the cadets that they aren’t expecting. Wars aren’t fought on an 8 to 5 schedule. The enemy doesn’t give you a schedule of their movements and plans, making sure you have time to respond. So why should we not make sure those we want to command the troops that will respond to the threat of enemy action are able to adapt to any situation?

Despite the Salon author’s contention that ROTC programs can give a future officer everything he or she needs to be an effective officer, that’s simply not the case. There is a reason why graduates from the service academies, and colleges like Texas A&M where organizations like the Corps of Cadets exist, produce more senior officers than any other programs. Members of the A&M Corps of Cadets are immersed in the military lifestyle and mindset just as students at the military academies are. They live and breathe that sort of life or they get out. So, unless you are going to make sure more colleges put together successful programs like TAMU, the dissolution of the military academies as anything more than short term training programs will be detrimental not only to the military but to this country as well.

All that said, change does need to come to both the service academies and to the military as a whole. Admission to the academies needs to put less emphasis on political clout and more an ability and the desire to make the military more than a one hitch commitment. The military needs to police itself better and it needs to be given the freedom to actually accomplish the missions put to it. If we enter into a firefight or a war, we need to go in with the attitude that we are going to win it, not just hold the line or push back the enemy while we train someone else to take over.

In other words, we let the military do what it does best. We don’t tie our commanders’ hands because war might get messy. It is war. People die, whether we like it or not. There will be collateral damage, especially when the enemy has no qualms about hiding in the middle of civilian neighborhoods.

Instead of tearing down the military academies, we need to tear down the artificial sensibilities that the SJW crowd has imposed on the conduct of war. There was a time when the world respected our military and knew that if the commander-in-chief mobilized our forces, butts were about to be kicked. That is no longer the case. The enemy knows we won’t be swift with reprisals and we sure won’t come in and finish the fight. What the SJWs refuse to admit is that, as long as this is the mindset, more people will die, innocents will die because we aren’t there to protect them.

And, no, those innocents won’t all be citizens of other countries. Don’t believe me? Look at the number of Americans who have died or been kidnapped who are non-military but who have been taken by our enemy simply because they are American.

And because the enemy knows we won’t do a damned thing about it.

As a mother with a son in the military, it scares the crap out of me to think we might one day be in a war where my son could be in danger. Then the realist in me realizes he already is simply by being American. He doesn’t have to be in the military to be in danger from those who hate our country. But, because he is in the military, he is at least trying to do something to keep our country safe. That’s more than a lot of folks can say.

Yes, I’m pissy this morning. I’m tired of seeing our politicians bow their heads and stick their tails between their legs when it comes to people who want to see our country fall. I’m sick of seeing Washington do nothing when our countrymen are murdered by ISIS and their ilk. I’m sick of seeing our leaders insult countries that are our allies by not supporting them in their time of need. (BTW, where was our president yesterday? Was he watching football or playing golf instead of being in Paris? If he couldn’t go, why didn’t the VP or Secretary of State? If the heads of Germany, Israel, even the Palestinian states could be there to show their solidarity with France, why couldn’t we have someone there, someone more than an ambassador?)

The answer to our problems isn’t to do away with the military academies. Yes, we need to cut federal spending but cutting military budgets and doing away with the service academies is not the answer. Instead of advocating further neutering our military, perhaps the Salon author ought to remember the words of John F. Kennedy when he said:

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.

“My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

In other words, reform is needed not at the service academy level but at the social services level where we are now seeing generations of families on welfare. Service to the country can take many forms. It isn’t limited to the military but, in my opinion at least, that is a pretty damned good place to start.