The “Clean Vs. Dirty” Thing

One of Jeff Goldstein’s fine statements in Maybe I’ll be there to shake your hand (as discussed in the above post) is this one:

The Global Elites behind BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, the WEF, the WHO, the UN, et al., have never liked that presumptuous, barely-credentialed nobodies, can get on planes and travel the globe, just as they do. They never accepted that the filthies can eat a fine rib eye, or drive a nice car, or own a comfortable home — and not have to rely on their largess, or answer to their diktats.

For those who missed the allusion to “filthies”, here’s its foundation:  another Jeff (Tucker) wrote a brilliant piece called Clean vs. Dirty: A Way to Understand Everything, and here’s its basic premise:

It is possible to understand nearly everything going on today – the Covid response, the political tribalism, the censorship, the failure of the major media to talk about anything that matters, the cultural and class divides, even migration trends – as a grand effort by those people who perceive themselves to be clean to stay away from people they regard as dirty.

They don’t want pet waste on their carpet, thus comparing ideas with which they disagree with a nasty pathogen. They are seeking to stay clean.
In this case and in every case, they are glad for the government to operate as the clean-up crew. It’s dirty ideas and people who hold them they oppose. They don’t want to have friends who articulate them or live in communities where such people live.

And the reason they don’t want to deal with people like Tucker Carlson, Ann Coulter, Elon Musk or, for that matter, any unwashed scum with uncomfortable ideas supported by incontrovertible evidence and/or historical precedent — the reason is that their own worldview is based upon theory and (they think) altruism.  The thing about both theory and altruism is that these are clean philosophies — their motives are pure, you see — and they hate to see those cherished ideals get messed upon when some Unwashed (like, for example, me) points out that their climate “science” is based upon shaky data and wishful thinking, while their predictive models are hopelessly in accurate and cannot form the basis of social or political policy.

The Cleanies likewise hate it when someone lowers income tax rates, because revenues will be “lost” — except, of course, that anyone with the slightest knowledge of history (never mind economics) can point out that when tax rates are cut, tax revenues increase, in some cases massively.

But those messy, messy realities sully the purity of their philosophy, so best to ignore — or better yet, suppress — those dirty realists.

Of course, the reality I’d like to impose on them is fairly simple:

…but no doubt, someone’s going to have a problem with this Occamic proposition.

It might, however, be the only solution — messy though it is.

Rocks And Hard Places

One of the problems with having a Bill of Rights and the Constitutional freedoms thereof is that as with all absolutes, there are times when compromises have to be made, even if temporarily.  We’re all familiar with the doleful example of shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater (anyone remember those?), and I will reluctantly concede that the right to keep and bear arms should not necessarily include the possession of tactical nuclear devices.

The recent lockdown has given us a few more examples.  I know that various Democratic elected officials have used the occasion of a purported pandemic to indulge their inner Mussolini, but ignore that for a moment while we ponder the big picture.

The best example of a situation requiring a temporary freeze on a Constitutional right is that of religion, where church services were banned (amazingly, not for Muslims but that’s a discussion for another time) because it is completely logical to suppose that it may not be in the public interest to have hundreds of people crammed into a single room, breathing all over each other and touching hands, etc.

And of course, the First Amendment’s rights to peaceable assembly and practice of religion would both stand against prohibition of said services.  At the same time, however, the potential risk of wholesale infection would seem to support such a Constitutional abridgement —  provided that it was temporary, of course.  (And the stupid politicians did themselves no favors by even banning the congregation of worshippers in the churches’ parking lots, which is so stupid a ban that it defies both logic and commonsense, but that’s politicians for ya.)

On the one hand, therefore, it is  a perfectly-natural impulse of people to seek comfort where they can during a time of disaster.  My own take is that people need to be realistic about this kind of thing — God isn’t going to punish you for not going to church in times of an epidemic or pandemic — but at the same time I understand and indeed sympathize with people for having that urgent need for the solace of religious congregation.  All religions are inconvenient, behavior-wise, and this is just one manifestation thereof.

On the other hand, the society requires a sensible public policy to prevent mass infection.  (In the case of the Wuhan virus, the dangers may have been overstated, but that too is a discussion for another time.  For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that the pandemic was going to be as dreadful as first thought.)  Had governors (at all levels) done nothing to try to prevent the rapid spread of infection, for fear of running afoul of Constitutional infringement, they would have been excoriated (and rightfully so) for their negligence and disinterest in the welfare of their citizens.  (Hardcore libertarians, take note.)

The problem with accommodation of said Constitutional abridgements and infringements is that there is always the risk that said governors will not only take things too far (right now, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer’s ears should be aflame let alone burning), but will use the opportunity to increase still further the State’s power over the populace — which they have done, almost without exception.

That still doesn’t negate the fact that occasionally, hard choices have to be made;  and it’s all very well to say things like “We will allow our rights to be infringed, but only temporarily” because in the case of communicable disease or other illness, there is always going to be the question of “How long is temporary?”  At what point is it safe to say, “Okay, as you were” when the risks of pandemic are, almost by definition, unknowable?

It’s a tough question, but on the whole I think that we managed to dodge this bullet better than the Europeans and Brits have.  (The foul “track and trace” proposals as proposed by the various politicians Over There will never fly Over Here, and thankfully so.)  The exceptions — where we were screwed by the governors — are primarily to be found in states governed by people for whom power is the sine qua non  of political existence (unsurprisingly, the socialists like Cuomo, Whitmer and Newsom being the best / worst examples thereof).

I think that the lessons we have learned on this topic should be both memorized and debated long and hard, and  I hope this post can serve as a starting point.

Terminal Thoughts

The other day I made reference to the fact that I would be unlikely to be flying anywhere in 2020, and might only do so in late 2021 — and for the first time in my life, I said to myself, “…should I live that long.”

I think the most depressing thing about getting old is that you get wary of making long-term plans — the old joke “I’m so old, I don’t even buy green bananas anymore” is a perfect example — and it can be depressing.

It doesn’t have to be, of course.  A friend of my own vintage recently embarked on a business venture which involves a massive construction project, and when I asked him when the whole thing will be finished, he said airily, “About fifteen or twenty years’ time.”  If that is true, he would be around eighty years old at completion date.

I’m not sure I would do anything like that.  At the same time, I’m still buying green bananas, so to speak, so there’s that.

At some point in a person’s life, you become resigned to the fact that you’ll never climb Everest, or race at Monaco, or make a billion dollars, or sleep with some famous beauty (maybe because she just died).  Those are the big dreams, of course, and mostly — realistically, even — just pipe dreams.  Still, their disappearance is a little of a jolt;  which is probably a preparation for a much bigger disappointment when you realize that your age precludes you from doing something that you did only  little while ago.  As an example, I’m most likely never going to be able to go deer-stalking in Scotland with Mr. Free Market, Doc Russia and Combat Controller again, because the trudging over the uneven ground of the Cairngorm Mountains is, to put it mildly, unthinkable.  I made a joke about that with the guys during a telemeeting, the other day, and said that if I were to do it again, I would only ever shoot at a distance no further than 50 yards away from the Land Rover — i.e. close to the road — whereupon Mr. Free Market said bluntly, “Then you’re never going to take another shot” (because most of the stalks now involve a prospect of a mile or two’s scrambling before the deer even come within a respectable shooting distance, assuming they haven’t moved in the interim).

So goodbye to all that, then.

It’s even more poignant when you think of your approaching end with regards to family and friends, especially family.  New Wife’s elder son has given her a grandson;  my own kids’ prospect of doing the same is becoming more and more remote with each year.  That, actually, doesn’t bother me too much as I’ve never been one of those parents who pushes their kids to provide grandchildren — in fact, I specifically told mine that I would never push them that way, and I’ve kept my promise.  But it also means that I’ll never be able to do the grandfather things with grandsons that my own grandpa did with me, and that’s a little sad.

If you reach that point where you start making a mental list of “things I’m realistically never going to do”, two things are going to happen:  the first is that you’ll give a mental shrug about some of them and say, “Oh well” and realize that the left undone isn’t important — I’m never going to fly an ultralight aircraft again or take my first parachute jump, for example.

But for the others:  do not be surprised if some of them hurt (as in the grandchildren scenario above, for example).  I will in all probability never meet up with some old and valued friends ever again, simply because of geography.  I will never hunt bear in Alaska (see “Scotland”, above, for reasons) — in fact, I may never hunt anything again, except maybe high birds with Mr. FM next year — and even then, I’m going to need to save a bunch of money to be able to afford the trip, money that I’m not at all certain of making (see:  Chinkvirus and similar disasters for reasons).  And I might need not one but two years to save that money, at which time I’ll be nearly 68 years old.  Fuck.  I might not even be able to make the walk from the Range Rover to the shooting positions at that age, and my already-shaky and fast-deteriorating eyesight might make the whole proposition impossible anyway.

As one gets older, one’s options start to shrink.  I watched a feature about Paul Newman the other night;  he only started auto racing in his early fifties, and won his last race at age eighty.  That doesn’t give me any hope at all, mind you, because Paul Newman was also a zillionaire, and lots of money does have an annoying tendency to make dreams come true a lot more quickly.  For some old guy drawing a meager Social Security check and needing a side gig to make ends meet, those — maybe any — kinds of dreams become increasingly unreachable.

All of which makes the picture in my masthead a lot more poignant even than it was when I first chose it.  I am wonderfully blessed by having found New Wife so that at least I can share the rest of my life with someone I love;  but figuratively speaking, our age might just cause us both to be confined to that lonely bench because with age, options disappear, horizons shrink and dreams fall apart.

And what happens when you can no longer afford green bananas?


The other night I watched a little movie on Netflix entitled simply “Itzhak”, which unsurprisingly was a little mini-biography about virtuoso violinist Itzhak Perlman.

Some background is necessary before I go any further.  I attended a classical concert in Chicago many years ago, and the “house band” was the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, then and now one of the finest orchestras in the world, conducted by Georg Solti, one of the finest conductors ever to wield a baton.  The opening piece (if I remember correctly) was something by Beethoven, and the CSO played it wonderfully.

Then Itzhak Perlman came to the stage, painfully hobbling along on his crutches, his polio-ravaged legs waving helplessly as he made his way to the First Violinist’s chair.  He sat down, rearranged his legs with his hands, then waited while the CSO began playing Brahms’s  Violin Concerto in D major, which is characterized by a lengthy introduction before the lead violinist plays a note.  Then it came time for Perlman to play… and the CSO took off like a fighter jet.  In other words, one man’s playing grabbed the already-magnificent orchestra and literally propelled them into a performance of unbelievable virtuosity.  The standing ovation from the audience lasted nearly as long as the performance itself, and several of the orchestra’s violinists dabbed at their eyes with tissues, so moved were they by the experience.

Itzak Perlman was and is a force of nature.

So when I saw this movie on Netflix, I hit Play with gleeful anticipation, and was not disappointed.

Itzhak Perlman is no ordinary man.  Quite apart from his virtuosity with the violin, he is a man of infinite compassion — his charitable works and teaching violin alone would set him apart from most people — he’s been married to his priceless wife Toby forever, is a devoted father to his large family, and loves his pet dogs almost as much, I think, as his children.  He is also wonderfully funny — his description of looking up something Jewish on the Internet as “Jewgle” made me guffaw for several minutes.  I have always loved Perlman’s playing — who could not? — but this was something different:  the longer the movie went on, the more I fell in love with this incredible, singular man.

But, of course, he’s Jewish.

And this would make him a target for all the assholes in the world:  the Muslims, the alt-Right, the academe and intellectuals (especially in Europe) and people like the loathsome Labour politician Jeremy Corbin who are infected with their foul brands of anti-Semitism.

Make no mistake:  to these people — think of Hitler and his Nazis as just the extreme embodiment — this man Perlman, this extraordinary, wonderful man who has been one of the greatest gifts to civilization ever, would be just another Jew to harass in the street, another Jewboy to kick and spit on, and just another Untermensch to load onto a train to be sent to Auschwitz.

Almost two years ago to the day, I wrote these words:

Pound for pound, the Jews have contributed as much or more to Western civilization than any other group — it’s even called the “Judeo-Christian tradition”, FFS — and to discount this contribution deliberately, to me, shows a shallow intellect at best.  (At worst, Hitler, but I’m not going to go there.)  Of course, I know that many Jews are socialists, communists, progressives, one-worlders, and all those things that are not only themselves distasteful, but are contradictory to Western thought.  Ending slavery in the Western hemisphere (an action performed solely by Western nations, lest we forget) is not the same as allowing Western culture to be perverted or submerged by inferior cultures — and let’s be perfectly honest, when compared to Western culture, all other cultures are in general absolutely inferior to ours.  To say otherwise is to be ignorant of history, or to be able to consciously deny the fact of the matter despite all evidence to the contrary.  Judaic culture, by the way, is not inferior to, say, Western culture and civilization because in no small part, theirs is almost indistinguishable from that of Western Europe because of their commonality.  That Israeli liberals seem perfectly prepared to help bring about the destruction of Eretz Israel was always a mystery to me until it was explained to me (by one of my good friends, an Orthodox Jew) that these liberals hate the state of Israel because it is culturally closer to Western European democracy than it is to Eastern European socialism.  And the liberal Israelis have camp-followers all over the world:  in Europe, Britain, the United States and anywhere that Jews can be found in any numbers.  Does that mean “conspiracy”?  Sure, if you’re a moron, because there are many, many Jews who are conservative, too — but somehow, the Conspiracy seems to have passed them by?  Not credible.
So:  am I pro-Israel?  You betcha.  I’m even more  supportive of Israel when I look at the nations of assholes who want Israel destroyed.
Do I think that a lot of Jews are liberal assholes?  You betcha, again. (Don’t even ask me about Jews and their support for gun control, unless we also mention JPFO, who also seem to have missed the memo.)
Am I prepared to become an anti-Semite because of The Great Jewish Conspiracy?  Think again, Adolf.
Would I stand aside if some anti-Semitic pricks started playing their little neo-Nazi reindeer games with Jews in the streets?  Not only would I not  stand aside, but I’d be standing between the two groups, telling the anti-Semites that they’d have to get past me first.
Ich habe Dachau gesehen.
And as long as I have breath in my body, “Never again!” will not be just an empty phrase, even if that seems to be the case with some Jews(!), who think that their tribe’s survival of the Holocaust was somehow irrelevant in today’s world.

Today, coincidentally, is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, and this post is dedicated to all my Tribe Readers especially, but also to all my Jewish friends and acquaintances all over the world.

After watching the movie about Itzhak Perlman, a rage descended on me that has not dissipated in the days since, and I’m not sure it ever will.

So here’s what I’m going to do.  Winging its way to me on the wings of the USPS is a yarmulke (kippah) — something not purchased, but given to me by a Jewish friend because, as I explained to him, it would mean more to me coming from a friend than if I’d just purchased it somewhere.

It’s going into my jacket pocket, to be carried everywhere I go.  And from now on, every time I walk around in an area which might be regarded as anti-Semitic — majority Muslim, majority Black, majority alt-Right, whatever  — I’m going to wear the yarmulke, not because I’m Jewish, but because I’m sick to death of this bullshit.

And to anyone who may take issue with me over this:  fuck with me at your peril.

Blast From The Past: Right And Wrong

Right And Wrong

January 8, 2006

I watched the movie of Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent this morning, and through all the legal twists and turns, I found the most egregious twist to be that innocence is relative, guilt is sometimes not guilt, and perverting the law is okay if it helps someone else.

Of course, Scott Turow is a lawyer, so all these things are to be expected.

Plot summary: A DA has a fling with some female lawyer, she’s found dead, and he’s accused of the murder even though we know he didn’t do it. The evidence against him is substantial, but he’s eventually found not guilty. Then [plot twist warning], he discovers that his own wife actually killed the woman, and planted all the evidence, thinking that it’s so thin that he’ll never be accused of it—but of course, he is, and it’s only through some skullduggery that the evidence against him disappears, during which time we discover that the dead tramp was a Truly Evil & Corrupt Person (which, clearly, makes her murder sorta-okay), and the prosecution aren’t angels either, being pretty corrupt themselves (which also exonerates the defense’s wrongdoings).  (There’s a huge gaping hole in the plot, by the way, but that’s not relevant to the point of all this.)

The end of the movie has wifey confessing the crime to him. He doesn’t turn her in, of course, and the voice-over (his) which closes the movie says that he’s not going to deprive his son of his mother, and he’ll have to suffer the torment of knowing that he’s living with a murderer.

Am I the only one who thinks that this is relativist nonsense?

I am reminded of the real-life FBI agent in (I think) North Carolina who discovered that his own son had killed someone. Rather than protecting his son, which he could have done simply by keeping his silence, the FBI agent turned him in, even knowing that his own son might fry in the chair or go to jail forever. Now thatwould have made a good morality play, and a fine movie, because every single parent could say to themselves, “I hope I’m never faced with that decision, and if I am, I hope I have the moral strength to do what that man did”—because few would. I don’t know if I would.

But that movie will never be made.

When I compare real life to Hollywood, I find that in Presumed Innocent, Hollywood has made an open-and-shut case of morality into something a little more cloudy (surprise, surprise), where “the slut deserved to die because [blah blah blah]”. And the torment of the hero knowing his wife’s guilt, and of his own complicity in not revealing this, somehow makes up for the fact that a woman was killed just because she screwed another woman’s husband. And it’s okay to hide evidence because the prosecution is also doing the same kind of thing. And, and, and… the list of moral excuses runs on and on.

After watching the movie, I cannot tell you how dirty I felt. Because I’d followed the story avidly, seeing morality being bent and twisted this way and that, and all I could think at the end was: No wonder that murderer O.J. Simpson was acquitted.

That’s the pernicious effect of Hollywood, and its insidious effect on our modern culture cannot be underestimated. Wrong is right, provided there are extenuating circumstances, right can be wrong if the other side isn’t being honest on their part, and so on.

At the end of all this, there is no moral compass left on which one can make the proper judgment. The only important thing is winning in the short term, regardless of what harm comes from so doing.

It’s not just in the movies.

I watch people playing sport, and bending the rules to their utmost extent to try to gain a little advantage. I see little honor in sport nowadays: if I were playing Wimbledon, and the linesman made a call against my opponent which was clearly wrong, I would either tank the next point in protest, or I would complain to the umpire and insist on the call being reversed—warning that if not, I would tank the next point in protest.

But that never happens, and these so-called “sportsmen” go on and win huge sums of money, sometimes based on the certain knowledge that they won because of a wrong decision. How do they sleep? I’m not interested in saying that “it happened to him today, it could happen to me tomorrow” and using the law of averages to excuse a wrongful action. I’m not interested in excusing such behavior because great sums of money are involved, either. That’s like excusing a shoplifter because he only stole “a little” money.

Because not correcting an obvious mistake, and profiting thereby, is as wrong as committing an unnoticed foul and going on to win in consequence.

People ask me why I watch golf. You know why? Because golfers call fouls on themselves, even if they may be disqualified from the competition thereby. Golf may be the last true sport left in the world, because people still play the game with scrupulous honesty.

I’m not setting myself up as some paragon of virtue, and that’s not the point of all this.

But in the so-called “bad old days”, Hollywood movies were supposed to show that crime doesn’t pay—even if there are extenuating circumstances. In High Sierra, Humphrey Bogart dies for his crimes, even though his downfall was caused by his feelings for a crippled girl. In modern-day Hollywood, that would be sufficient to secure his escape, and with all the money he’d robbed from a bank into the bargain.

We all chuckle at those old-fashioned rules, where wrongdoing had to show its consequences, and sneer about “censorship” and censors inflicting their “morality” on others.

Let me tell you something.

When the history of this era comes to be written, and people wonder how a society which had become so prosperous, so healthy and so settled, could have sunk into such depths of depravity that the Menendez brothers weren’t executed for cold-bloodedly shotgunning their own parents to death, all the evidence will be found in novels and movies like Presumed Innocent.


We’re All Individuals!

This line comes from Chris DeGroot, and I nearly made it a QOTD, but I think it actually deserves more discussion.

“Over time, any nation in which personal autonomy is taken for granted as the highest good must become deficient in social cohesion.”

And that’s where the Enlightenment falls apart.  In their rush to overcome the oppressive social environment such as under royalty or an official State church (not to mention religious excesses such as the Inquisition), the Founding Fathers, Enlightened all, created a system with ironclad rights (which they called “natural”) which were guaranteed to the individual and protected by the Constitution.

I have no idea what John Adams or Thomas Jefferson would have thought of a society with many nebulous and self-identified genders about which nobody dare breathe an ugly or even judgmental word (despite that “freedom of speech” thing).  Let’s not even talk about the demonization of White men or the “reverse” racism enshrined in racial-preference laws.  If they’d had that situation back then, Washington may well have called out the militia to enforce a series of mass floggings… ummmm…

Sorry, I went away to warm and wonderful place there for a moment.

The point is that intelligent people (such as, say, the Founding Fathers) have always known that the concept of individual rights stood at the very top of an extremely slippery slope, but I suppose that the aforementioned probably counted on the common sense of the people and their elected officials not to take society to a place where a White woman wearing a caftan on a hot summer’s day could be decried as “cultural appropriation”, and punished  (by censure from university authorities, for example, or by socially-acceptable ostracization).

So much for that idea.

DeGroot’s statement is perfectly true, of course, so at a time when we as a nation are hopelessly divided into a multiplicity of self-interested groups of increasingly-freakish people — not to mention nigh-monolithic groups such as “Blacks”, “progressives” or “LGBTOSTFU” — it seems an impossible task to call for such exotica as “national unity” (what a fucking joke) or make pleas that sound like “Can’t we all just get along?”

No, we can’t, ever;  not when The Other has been institutionally demonized by the Perpetually Aggrieved.

Well-meaning people may think that there must be a way for us to come together and put aside our differences, but that’s never going to happen.  As long as the most trivial differences between us have been magnified into chasms separating us into “Nazis” and “racists” (to name but two), such harmony is absolutely impossible.

I wish there was a workable, lasting solution, but there isn’t.  Even the mass floggings alluded to above aren’t possible, otherwise the Left would have started them already — on us — for being the Nazi / racist / evil / Trumpians / whatever we are (according to their  standards, of course).

The only thing that does cause so splintered a nation to unify is a calamity (e.g. a hurricane’s devastation) or a palpable evil perpetrated by a hostile entity (e.g. 9/11).  Because of the sheer size of the United States, natural calamity is generally localized and is not a “national” event.  And even the actions of a hostile entity have an increasingly-abbreviated shelf life nowadays, so I see no “unity” in our collective future.  Hell, I don’t even see comity appearing anytime soon.

But then, I’m The Enemy.