Charlie's Blog: 2017

11.19.2017

SOC 24

Only the educated are free.
EPICTETUS

Busking is basically where a street performer who plays music or displays other talents like juggling or magic out in the street or park for free and whatever donations people care to drop in the hat. Busking has a long history stretching back to ancient times. Basically, it is the combination of performance and begging. Along with busking is the soapbox where preachers or speechmakers would elevate themselves on a box in public spaces to be heard above the crowd and opine on anything from politics to religion. This also stretches back in antiquity. Socrates, St. Paul, and Jesus were all essentially soapbox preachers.

There is something humiliating about this form of street performance and oratory. You are liable to get something thrown at you as you are to collect donations or attentive ears. Now that we live in the age of the internet, I can see the parallels. I watch musicians making videos in their living rooms and posting them on YouTube. Others merely speak into the microphone. Do these people have dreams of bigger stages? I doubt it. The street performer is little more than a beggar at the end of the day, and the same is true of the internet performer as well.

I think about this stuff as I reflect upon my place as a writer of things unread. I used to be a writer of things read. Once upon a time, I tried being a writer while in my twenties. I had dreams of being a hack novelist like Stephen King while working for a newspaper or magazine until my big break came. By the time I finished my English degree, I knew that this dream was unlikely to happen for me. At the time, writers made very little money, and this included those working for the New York Times or managed to get a tome on one of the bestseller lists. Writers like Stephen King or Tom Clancy were fabulously successful for basically writing crap that could be turned into movies, and this move thing is what made them so rich. Today, the king of crap writing is a queen and her name is J.K. Rowling. I have read all of the Harry Potter books, watched none of the movies, and decided that I don't really like her stuff especially now that Dumbledore is gay.

I gave up writing after college and went on to other things. I would revisit my writing in my late twenties as I wrote a few bad stories on the weekends when I wasn't working. But my return to writing didn't really get going until I started visiting a few internet messageboards and became a bit of a sensation under a pseudonym handle. I was a minor celebrity sort of like the sportscaster at the local TV station. It wasn't ESPN or Monday Night Football, but I was a thing. My messageboards were attracted to me because I could actually write unlike most people on the internet, and I also had a message. I had some substance. Unfortunately, it was the wrong substance. I will now elaborate.

I had lost my faith in the Protestant Calvinist Christian faith I had in my twenties up until the tragic suicide of a friend and housemate which sent me down the Dark Path. By age 30, I was an atheist. I was not a militant atheist. That would come later. But I no longer believed in God which left a gigantic gaping hole in my worldview and mind. I was lost and drifting and had nowhere to turn. Without religion, I had to turn to philosophy for answers. I went back to the ancient Greeks and studied up on Plato, Epicurus, Aristotle, and the rest. But the lifestyle and mindset that attracted me most was the Stoic lifestyle. I read a lot of Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius who were all Romans. This makes sense in hindsight because the Stoic path was very similar to the Christian path. It hit a nerve with me and also others.

Basically, I took Stoic philosophy and made it accessible to regular people. When you read Stoic writings, they are both challenging and comforting. I still quote those guys, and they still influence me today though I reject those parts that are in conflict with the Catholic faith. The gist of Stoicism is that there are some things in our control and other things that are not. In a world that is often unpleasant, you should make for yourself an inner fortress of tranquility and try not to be disturbed by the unpleasantness of life or being taken captive by the pleasures of life. It is a nice theory if you can pull it off, but no one has ever done it. Nevertheless, in the post-9/11 world, such teachings became very popular. People were upset, and I gave them comfort.

I had achieved minor fame because of this. Had I stuck with this, I would have been Tim Ferriss today. So, why didn't I stick with the Stoic thing? 9/11 should give you the answer. In the aftermath of that disaster, I was all about being resilient and honorable and all of that. I think many people were like that. Consequently, the federal government took advantage of that impulse to honor and patriotism to roll back our liberties with things like the Patriot Act. By the time the second Iraq War took off, I was going down a libertarian path.

The problems with Stoicism are twofold. The first problem is that the ideal of the Stoic sage can never be attained. The Stoics themselves admitted this. To put this in a practical way, if you saw some Islamist Musloid terrorist types brutally gang rape, torture, and murder your daughter, you are not going to be tranquil in that moment. If you are, you're not human. You are a robot. Humans feel emotions and always will. This is how God made us. We can't unmake it.

The second problem is that Stoics are easily duped. They are wedded to a devotion to loyalty and honor but divorced from a greater moral context. It doesn't matter if the battle is just or unjust so long as you act in an honorable way. This is the dilemma of soldiers tasked to fight in wars that are more about oil company profits than patriotism. Theirs is not to wonder why but merely to do and die. That little rhyme comes from Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade." I post it here for those who have never read it:
The Charge of the Light Brigade
BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON
I
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

II
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
   Someone had blundered.
   Theirs not to make reply,
   Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.
   Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

III
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
   Rode the six hundred.

IV
Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
   All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke
   Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
   Not the six hundred.

V
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
   Left of six hundred.

VI
When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
   All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
            Noble six hundred!
The Light Brigade poem is about a group of dutiful British soldiers sent to their certain doom. Tennyson praises their Stoicism, but the rest of the world wonders about their common sense. Essentially, it is a poem about the virtue of blind loyalty. The problem is that blind loyalty is blind, and there are those who are all too willing to take advantage of that loyalty. In terms of war, this would be the military-industrial complex who trade human life for financial profits. But for me, the battle was more close to home.

I was questioning the blind loyalty thing, but certain family members were eating it up. I will not elaborate beyond that as I keep my family matters as private as I can. The gist of it is that I acted honorably towards my family, and they acted dishonorably towards me. I was a dupe, and they nearly destroyed me. When I came out of that, I was a changed man stripped of my Stoicism.

I believe in loyalty, but I do not believe in blind loyalty. I will defend my country, but I will not help my country in genocide of a race like the Jews in World War II. Likewise, I will help my family, but I am not going to help them destroy themselves or me.

What is the difference between a Stoic and a Christian? I can go on and on with an extensive list, but I will cut to the most practical difference. Stoicism makes supreme moral demands upon oneself and virtually none on others. You can see the formula for disaster already. I became the loyal son to a family of scumbags who always did right by them and never judged them for anything. What a fool that I was. That was God's chastisement on me for becoming an atheist, so I am not bitter about it. I deserved it.

My family would love to have that stupid person back, but they killed him. They are evil people, and I leave it to God to judge them for that evil. They will pay for all the things they have ever done to me or anyone else. They need to repent and ask for God's forgiveness and diligently seek conversion. They need to do penance. Will they do this? Of course not. I pray for their souls, but I will not be surprised to see them burning in Hell.

I apologize for this digression down memory lane. So, I was a writer about Stoicism until my family beat it out of me, and I transmogrified into a militant angry selfish atheist and a libertarian. I was reading Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, and others. This turn cost me my Stoic fans, and I didn't care. I was mildly popular before this turn. I became insanely popular after this turn. It was a strange thing for me. I did not understand it. As time went on and I found myself repeatedly banned from the messageboards, I turned to blogging at the suggestion of a reader. I was still using my pseudonym, but the popularity of my first blog was intense. Unfortunately, the character that I played on the internet was not actually me. It was a caricature of me.


I always draw the parallel of my blogging with the rock band KISS who wore makeup, removed the makeup, and went back into makeup. When I was anonymous, I felt like an invincible god of the internet. This would explain the problem of trolls. People do things while anonymous they would never do while identified. Either way, I felt strongly that I should stop being a character and be myself. So, I dropped the handle, and Charlie's Blog was born.

Unlike KISS, things went better for me when I unmasked. Was I the same person? Yes and no. With the handle, it was like a schizophrenic dual personality. I became unified when I stopped being that part I was playing. My online persona became nicer while my real life persona became meaner. The result was that the popularity I enjoyed online manifested itself in the real world. It was surreal.

The popularity thing was a real phenomenon for me. I didn't understand it at the time, but I understand it completely now. When I was in high school, I had no friends. I was religious, but this isolated me from my peers. I never fit in, and I was glad to graduate. Things became a little better in college, but I was basically a loser and a loner for most of my life. When I became an atheist, this all changed. The world fell in love with me.


I am reminded of Satan offering the world to Jesus in exchange for Jesus bowing down to him. Of course, Jesus told the Devil to go piss up a rope, but we do glean an important fact. The world was for the Devil to give to whom he chooses.

My gospel of atheism and liberty was an absolute winner with people, and they ate it up. And even those who rejected the message still loved me out of admiration and envy. It was sick. I went from being trash to treasure in so many eyes. Whether in cyberspace or in meatspace, I was a rock star. The message resonated with many people. May God forgive me for ever spreading that garbage.

The massive popularity and magnetism I possessed was the Devil's payoff to me. I never had it before because I was Christian. When I became a Catholic Christian, that popularity turned off rapidly. I went from treasure back to trash where I remain to this day. The world is not interested in Jesus Christ.

I am not an atheist or a libertarian anymore. I am a Catholic and a conservative. Both of those things have brought me hatred and ridicule, and I am more unpopular now than when I was a Protestant. Had I not converted, I would certainly have become more depraved than I was and more popular as a result. The lesson I learned from all of this is that if the world loves you then you are doing something wrong. If the world hates you, you are doing something right. The world belongs to the Devil.

I do not belong to the Devil. I turned my back on him and renounced his empty show. But that whole episode revisits me now as I struggle with my place and role as a writer. This crisis rages within me as I wonder why I bother continuing as a writer. It is also why you may surf here occasionally to see the C-blog missing. I often resolve to end the blogging as a waste of time as I struggle internally with what I conclude is a waste of time.


I miss the popularity. I liken it to going from being a rock star to becoming a classical guitarist. The music has gotten way better, but the audience has vanished. Talk about a trade off! In a just and ordered world, Andres Segovia would have been bigger than KISS. But as I said, the world belongs to the Devil.

I can never be popular like that again. When I became Catholic, the world spit in my face. This begs the question. Why keep writing things no one cares to read?

I love Andres Segovia. Most people have never heard of him. His music is exquisite. Is it exciting? Of course not. And that, Gentle Reader, is where we come to the crux of the matter. Rock and roll is exciting but empty. Classical music is fulfilling but not thrilling. And so, I toss at you Ace Frehley's Fractured Mirror. It is a beautiful piece of music played by a rock and roll guitarist. If you removed the second guitar, bass, and drums, you could see someone like Segovia playing it. If anything, the rock parts ruin what is a fine piece of music. I cite this tune as a demonstration of the conflict between playing for God and playing for the Devil. Ace would revisit the work and rework it numerous times. In its various forms, Fractured is awesome music, and I hear in it an unfulfilled ambition of Ace Frehley to be an awesome musician. Instead, he became a clown in makeup. On the flip side, here is a combox comment from someone who took a different path:
I was 19 in 1989, in college, and was playing electric guitar. I took a music appreciation class, and there was a woman in her 80s who took the class just to learn more about music. She very generously brought 2 Segovia cassette tapes to class for me to take home and listen to. I had never heard of him. I, naturally, was immediately blown away. I bought every recording I could find. I switched to classical guitar and never looked back. I owe so much to Segovia, and to that woman. I wish that I could have thanked her.
This guy took a different path. At 19, you could see he wanted to be a rock and roll guy with his electric guitar. But he shunned it to become a real guitarist instead.

This ties back into my now being a writer of things unread. It is not an issue of talent but substance. My popularity as a blogger came from writing things people wanted to read. The problem was that it was garbage in the same way that popular music is garbage. To write things of substance, I have to accept the fact that the world is going to hate me for it.

I miss being popular, but I see this as evil and demonic now. My blog is an attachment to sin in this regard. Going for the nuclear option is a way to destroy this attachment to sin, but this leaves me with the issue of being a writer. I write. It is what I do, and writing is not sinful. If it was, how would we have the Bible, the Summa of Aquinas, or the Catechism? And writing for the internet is not sinful as I read many of these sources and others on the internet. My answer to this dilemma is the Segovia Option.

If you are a vain rock star grappling with pride, the answer is to hang up the electric guitar and pick up the classical guitar and commit to beautiful music that will be played in much smaller venues. This is the essence of the Segovia Option. You commit to the true, the good, and the beautiful with no regard to acclaim, fame, Facebook likes, and all the rest. These things are worth pursuing for their own sake even if the whole world hates it.

In my exercise of the Segovia Option, I am simply going to keep doing what I do except I am going to accept and even take enjoyment from my unpopularity. I am rewiring my brain. I used to think that if the world loved you that you were doing something right. This was a huge mistake on my part. If the world loves you, you are doing something wrong. Conversely, if the world hates you, then you are doing something right. I like being a writer of things unread because it means I am doing something right.

The world is stupid. It would rather listen to rap crap than Segovia. The good, the true, and the beautiful are reserved for the few. And this is something I need to never forget.

11.07.2017

SOC 23


If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.
EPICTETUS

A co-worker of mine was suspended for using his smartphone while driving a company vehicle. Both hands and both eyes were on the device while the vehicle was moving. All of this was captured on camera. Of course, he shouldn't feel so bad. I see the same behavior by countless others during my commute. Smartphones truly make you dumb. They can also make you truly dead.

I share this tale as I contemplate another lost weekend to Twitter. I am so disgusted with myself that I have deleted my Twitter and GAB accounts for the umpteenth time. I also wanted to nuke my entire online presence, but I have relented. I am now in a more reflective and calmer mood about the whole thing as I consider my online presence.

Blogs are old news. They were a thing until about 2005 when social media took over. Blogs are for people who can write and actually read. Social media is for everyone else. I must also come to grips with the fact that I will remain an infinitesimal speck in the cyberuniverse. As such, I have simplified a bit here at the C-blog and now accept my permanent status in the backwaters of the internet. I am condemned to be a writer of things unread.

I blame writing for a lot of wasted time, but writing is taking the blame for social media's crimes. I spend more time on Twitter than on this blog. When I deleted my Twitter account, I write more and better. When I resurrect my acccount, the writing slides over the edge of the cliff. At least Ernest Hemingway was drunk when he was away from the typewriter.


I see two paths before me. One path is the loud life. This was my life before becoming Catholic. Gene Simmons from KISS is the epitome of the loud life. He is iconic, opinionated, and relentlessly self-promoting. Once upon a time, he was a hero of mine. Now, I find him ridiculous. By extension, I look at my old self as being also equally ridiculous.


The quiet path is best exemplified by Saint Joseph. Joseph was blue collar and the strong silent type. He didn't say much. He wrote nothing that exists today. He just worked hard and looked out for his family. Saint Joseph was not a self-promoter.

The loud path is the way of the rock star. The quiet path is the way of the saint. No one wants the quiet path. Everyone wants to be a rock star. Thanks to social media, everyone can be a rock star in their way. And if they can't be a rock star, they will settle for being rich. It is a great deal of vanity and self-seeking.

I am already on the quiet path. I don't want to be a rock star anymore. The loud path leads to self-destruction and Hell. This begs a certain question. Can you be a quiet blogger? I think it is possible in the same way that a wannabe rock musician can end up being a high school music teacher and a church pianist.

What we are dealing with here is pride and humility. It may help to consider the teachings of Saint Josemaria on the issue of materialism. He recalled a beggar who had a nice spoon which he practically worshiped as an idol. He contrasted this with a rich woman who was indifferent to her wealth and was known for charity and generosity. What matters most is the interior disposition concerning such things.

Is it possible to be a humble rock star? I think so. Conversely, one can also be a proud plumber. Ego can emerge anywhere. Humility is to be practiced in your station in life wherever you may find yourself. Granted, it is easier to be humble when you are poor and unknown. But it is more praiseworthy to be humble when you are rich and famous. And it is laughable to be proud when you are poor and unknown, and this is seen daily on Facebook. Facebook is the vanity parade of the nobodies.

I am a nobody. I think I have always wanted to be a somebody, but I have been blessed by God by ending up as a nobody. Of course, no one counts a blessing when it looks like a curse, but I am old enough to know better now.


The siren song thing has been on my brain lately. For those who are unfamiliar, Homer tells the story in the Odyssey of the sirens who would sing a lovely tune that men found irresistible. Drawn to the song, they would sail into the rocks and certain doom. To prevent these from happening, the men aboard Odysseus's ship stopped up their ears in order to not hear the song. Then, Odysseus was tied to the mast, so that he could hear the song but be powerless to move towards the temptation.

I see siren songs in many places in present society. The most obvious one is the student loan bubble where young people are drawn in by the promises offered by colleges of having good jobs when they graduate from their institutions. That is the siren song. The rocks are when they graduate into lousy jobs and debt slavery. Yet, these hapless fools keep piling into these schools and into those rocks. Why do they do it?

Another example of the siren song is Hollywood where kids, young men, and young women go to become rich and famous in movies and television. The reality is they become prey for sexual predators like Harvey Weinstein that use their ambitions to exploit them for sex. All of these aspiring stars could just get back on the bus and head back to Nebraska. Yet, they stay to be raped and sodomized. Why do they do it?

Young people decide they want to become professional athletes, and it all seems great until they run into the wall where the sport demands that they use performance enhancing drugs or get out of the sport because they can no longer compete. They could always leave the sport, but they choose to destroy their bodies and risk their reputations later in scandal like Lance Armstrong. Why do they do it?

The reason why they do it is obvious. The alternative is to be a nobody. You go home and wait tables at Waffle House or try and get a job at the factory. Or you learn a trade like welding or HVAC. Or you become a homemaker. Regardless of what they do, they know that the life ahead back home is to be relatively poor and unknown. So, they go for the awesome life they dream about in their heads. A handful make it because you need a few successes to bait the trap for the suckers. But most of those lured into the trap will be worse off than if they had chosen to be ordinary people.

I hate dreams because I see them for what they are. They are the songs of the sirens that sound so sweet but leave you in such misery. I'm old enough now to have built up enough wax in my ears to shut out the siren songs. The antidote to the siren song is to embrace being an ordinary person.

I have lost count of the numbers of times I have been offered promotions at various workplaces. Climbing the corporate ladder is a siren song. I took one of those promotions one time which lead to two years of regret. I made some money which I saved to fund my exit out of that hell. I didn't know what I would do, but I knew I didn't want to be in management anymore. Now, I realize the way to go is to be a blue collar guy and learn some skills and have a work ethic. Your ultimate ambition is to become self-employed or run your own small business. It is a modest path and no one's dream. But it beats the hell of Corporate America and the Machievellian machinations and shadiness of middle and upper management. Granted, a few make it to the top rungs of the ladder where they make the big bucks. But that ladder tapers meaning that the majority must fall to their peril at some rung or another. And if you camp out on a lower rung, you will be undercut by those below you with greater ambitions.

I've remained blue collar, and I have lost count of the number of managers I have seen fired out of their jobs. Some of them deserved it. Others did not. It didn't matter. We have a saying at work. If you want to get fired, get promoted first. The surest way to end your career in termination is to be ambitious. It is sad, but it is what it is. As for me, I never take the bait. I learned the lesson long ago the hard way, and I see it repeated every few months as others crash into the rocks.

I have this funny saying. A winner is a cheater that never got caught. I came up with it after Lance Armstrong got caught. Now, I do variations of it. A rich man is a thief that never got caught. A politician is a crook that never got busted. A famous actress is a whore who banged the right dude. We can go on and on. It sounds like sour grapes, but I don't mean it to sound that way. it is just the cynicism that comes from seeing various sectors turned into networks of corruption. Aside from a few honest exceptions, the vast majority of rich, famous, and successful people had to do disgusting, unethical, immoral, and even criminal things to get where they are. It is a depressing fact of life for people with dreams, but a reassuring truth to those of us who had their dreams shattered and replaced with Nebraska.


I love Nebraska. I've never been to the actual state of Nebraska, but I use the name of the state to represent the ordinary life of regular Americans who work for a living. I always imagine Nebraska is the state that all the Brad Pitt lookalikes in Hollywood are trying to escape. Nebraska is also incredibly boring in comparison to California or the Big Apple.

I actually live in South Carolina which is Nebraska in a different spot on the map. Pick any part of Flyover Country, and you are in Nebraska. I lived in Florida for awhile which is a lot more happening than either South Carolina or Nebraska. I like to visit there, but I made peace with South Carolina some years ago. Florida left a scar on me. That scar was the indelible knowledge that it doesn't make much difference where you live.

I don't think moving makes a lot of difference in your life. Others will disagree, but those people are wrong. Every place you go has its pluses and its negatives. Sometimes, you have to go places to place specific things. For instance, you aren't going to be much of a surfer in Ohio. You have to go to Cali or Hawaii for that. But for most everything else, you can do it right where you are at. My hero on this is Jack White who did his thing in Detroit, Michigan. No one thinks of Detroit as a musical mecca like Nashville or Los Angeles because it isn't. It didn't matter. Musically, Detroit is an out of the way place. I like out of the way places.

I had a thing for Asheville, NC because it is a pretty place, but I have gotten over it. The town is full of hippies attracted to the same things I'm attracted to. The sad reality is that Asheville is a pretty place with no decent jobs. Asheville is a geographic siren song. If you like cleaning hotel rooms and living in poverty out of a VW van, you will like Asheville,


The serenity of the mountains will draw you to Asheville. The stench of the hippies will make you leave. Asheville isn't the only town like this. Boulder, CO, Eugene, OR, and Burlington, VT, are virtually identical in attracting pothead stoner hippies where hygiene and employment are optional things. The thing that turns a town into a hippie magnet is to have free natural attractions like mountains and streams that hippies love to ruin with their presence. This means you are probably better off living in a boring place which is usually where you are at already.

This is why I don't really care about places. The upside of living where I am at now is that I know where everything is at, and I don't have to change my driver's license. I believe that the USA is 90% boring while the rest of the world is 90% cesspool. As for the awesome places to live, virtually everyone there had the same idea as you which automatically makes it a bad choice.


Robert A. Heinlein wrote a science fiction novel about time travel a long time ago called The Door Into Summer. I read it when I was a teenager, and I can't even remember the story. But I always remembered the title because it came from a cat who hated winter. The cat would go to a door and find snow outside. So, he would go to some other door in the house expecting a summer day on the other side. The stupid cat couldn't figure out that it was winter behind every door. Somehow, one of those doors was going to be the door into summer.

This is what I think when people move to some other place in the country expecting it to be radically different from the place they left. The reality is that it isn't different at all. Granted, North Dakota freezes solid in the winter while Arizona is dry as hell itself. But for the most part, both places are the same with people working their jobs and doing their thing. People move mostly because they desire the exotic, but they end up with the sameness that is virtually everywhere.

This brings me back to Nebraska. I don't mean the state so much as the state of being. I think people should learn to like Nebraska and make the best of it. Once you love Nebraska, you don't need Hawaii or Hollywood. I've learned to love where I'm at with all of its pluses and minuses. It all works out to being the same to me.

11.04.2017

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 53


My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.
RODNEY DANGERFIELD

1. THE RETURN OF RTOVS

It has been awhile since I've written one of these things. The goal is to do this as a sort of weekly review of all things that happened during the week and whatever else has been on my mind lately. But it is the hardest thing for me to write because of the variety of topics that I cover. Many things happen in a week. I have a day job, so that complicates things further. But I am back on the job this week here at the C-blog. Sorry for the absence.

2. TAXES AND TERM LIMITS

The most important political story this week is the tax reform efforts in Congress which are being stymied by the Establishment Republicans who are now indistinguishable from the Democrats. Trump needs tax cuts to help turn this economy around, and I support his efforts in this regard. Dan Bongino makes a great point. When has a tax cut ever resulted in less revenue to the federal government? The answer is never. When people and businesses keep more of their income, they produce more wealth which means more income to the government to pay for itself. Unfortunately, both Democrats and Establishment Republicans can't be bothered with this reality. Somehow, the tax cuts on one group has to be paid for by an increase on another group. Basically, they intend to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, but they can't decide how to carve that goose. It is sheer stupidity.

The simple and correct answer is to cut all taxes across the board. Leave all the current deductions in place. I would go further and make the corporate income tax absolute zero. No country in the world can compete with zero. Then, to be sure these tax cuts are "paid for," there should be cuts to the federal budget. This can be accomplished by a similar across the board cut in spending. These three things alone would produce an awesome economic recovery and help reverse the cancer that is bloated big government and the national debt.

Will it happen? Of course not. Such common sense would be a benefit to the American people, but the DC swamp has never cared about nor ever will care about the lives of Americans. The legislative branch of the federal government is filled with parasitic organisms that only care to keep sucking the blood out of this country for their narrow and personal benefit. They do not care if America is turned into a dung heap so long as they sit on top of the mountain of manure.

How can this be fixed? The simple answer would be term limits on senators and representatives. The absence of term limits is how you get slime like John McCain. Our elected representatives are out of touch with the people that elected them. Granted, they can be voted out by the people except the people are fed lies where the politician promises things and fails to deliver. The blame for this failure is dispersed. Eventually, decades pass, and people wake up to the sliminess of their senator or congressman. But the damage is already done.

In the absence of term limits, the next best thing is Steve Bannon who is committed to turning out Establishment Republicans. I applaud his efforts in this regard. Bannon leaving the White House was an awesome move because the man has been unleashed on the public where he does the most good. Unfortunately, Bannon is just one mortal guy. His revolution needs to be made permanent with congressional term limits.

3. THE OPIOID CRISIS

Jonah Goldberg has written a National Review piece on the opioid crisis that I think is absolutely splendid. Goldberg demolishes the libertarian argument for legalization by pointing out that opioids are drug legalization and that the result of this legalization has been an absolute disaster with the death toll from opioids exceeding the American death toll in Vietnam.

I used to be a libertarian. I used to make the arguments that Goldberg demolishes. The bottom line is that legalization leads to more drug use. The example in Portugal may make the argument for decriminalization, but decriminalization is not the same as legalization. Decriminalization retains the stigma and treats the issue as a health problem. Legalization removes the stigma and pretends there is no problem.

In my opinion, the drug issue is the number one difference between libertarians and conservatives. Aside from this issue, there is little difference between them. Both support free markets, limited government, lower taxation, gun ownership, etc. It is when it comes to vices like drugs, prostitution, and pornography that the differences become apparent.

I have always been on the right wing side of things since at least the time I was in elementary school. I have never been a left wing progressive, and I cannot recall ever voting for or supporting a Democrat for public office. My only political shift has been from conservative to libertarian back to conservative again. This libertarian fling was a consequence of losing my faith in God and becoming atheist. I started reading Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, and Ludwig von Mises, and you know the rest.

I left atheism behind when I became Catholic, and I have returned to being a conservative again. Why does religion make the difference? It all comes down to original sin. Conservatives believe in original sin and concupiscence. Libertarians don't. As such, libertarians really are libertines. Granted, many of them eschew drugs and alcohol and resemble conservatives in their private lives. Not all libertarians are potheads. The clean libertarians are bookish nerd types who prefer theory to reality. The dirty libertarians like the ones at Reason are hitting the bong in the parking lot at GOP cocktail parties with their college age girlfriends while decent Republicans are quaffing scotch inside.

I liked being a libertarian. I never smoked dope, but it made me hip. Here's what I mean. Here is our conservative Jonah Goldberg:


And here is our libertarian Nick Gillespie:


You can see the clear difference. Nick has that cool leather jacket that has become his signature look. Goldberg is a square in the suit and tie. The bottom line is that libertarians are cool the way that the Fonz was cool on Happy Days. Conservatives are Richie's dad, Howard Cunningham.


Being cool can only take you so far. One day, you wake up, and you realize you are a loser with greasy hair living in the apartment over Howard Cunningham's garage. You would be homeless except for the stability and tolerance that old man provides. As such libertarians exist in a state of suspended adolescence relative to the maturity of conservatives.

I think personal identity and beliefs influence a person's politics. I would like to think that facts and arguments make some difference, but they don't. Here is why Goldberg makes the argument that he does:
If you’ve ever had a loved one struggle with drugs — in my case, my late brother, Josh — the national exercise in guilt-driven blame-shifting and finger-pointing, combined with flights of sanctimony and ideological righteousness, has a familiar echo. 
The difference between the public arguing and the personal agonizing is that, at the national level, we can afford our abstractions. When you have skin in the game, none of the easy answers seem all that easy.
Libertarians might be hip, but they are out of touch with reality. The reality is that people who are addicted to drugs hurt other people and themselves. Smoking grass is kinda cool. Overdosing on pills and heroin is not so cool which is why even leftists put daylight between them and those who use drugs and favor their legalization. Consequently, the cause of drug legalization is owned almost completely by libertarians. As such, libertarians must now defend the death of 64,000 Americans from opioid abuse as being necessary for freedom. Deal with that reality.

4. Q & A

Q: How can you be a conservative and a Republican and also a vegan?

A: I must admit that 99% of vegans are left wing Marxist Democrats. When people hear that I'm vegan, they assume that I must eschew leather, favor the cause of LGBTQ rights, and voted for Bernie Sanders. The reality is that I wear leather and prefer it. I also voted for Trump, and I think sodomy is a sin. In short, my politics ends and science begins when I sit down at the table for a meal. I eat a plant based diet, and I do it for my health.

I hear that Rachel Maddow eats meat at a high level and loves to shoot guns. I think the point of this is that people are individuals, and they differ in personal preferences and lifestyle choices. I just don't think being a Republican means that you have to eat steak.

People get too wrapped up in pre-fabricated identities. For instance, I dress in blue collar clothes and work for a living. But I am also college educated, read books without pictures in them, and listen to classical music. You can do things like this.

5. QUOTABLE QUOTES

A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.
C.S. LEWIS

In all you do, remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin.
SIRACH 7:36

‘Great’ holiness consists in carrying out the ‘little’ duties of each moment.
SAINT JOSEMARIA ESCRIVA

We shall never learn to know ourselves except by endeavoring to know God; for, beholding His greatness, we realize our own littleness; His purity shows us our foulness; and by meditating upon His humility we find how very far we are from being humble.
SAINT TERESA OF AVILA

Rhetoric is no substitute for reality.
THOMAS SOWELL

ODDS AND ENDS

--What happened to the story about the Las Vegas shooter? I smell a cover-up.

--Bowe Bergdahl should have been put in front of a firing squad or left to rot in prison for what he did. Instead, he gets a slap on the wrist for being a traitor. Unbelievable.

--We are at the point now where being a faithful Catholic will bring you persecution from the Roman Catholic Church.

--Some young people in Belgium did a protest rosary against a service held in a Catholic cathedral once vandalized by Protestants. The service was in celebration of the Protestant Revolution. It was an absolute display of indifferentism. Some criticize this rosary protest as "rude" and "offensive" and "disrespectful." My only regret is that I could not be there to pray the rosary with those brave believers who stood up for the Roman Catholic Church. It would be nice to see prelates and priests doing this.

LINKS OF INTEREST





10.29.2017

SOC 22


We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.
SENECA

I have been contemplating the idea of having comments on my blog again. Then, I do a little social media, and the impulse vanishes. The reason I miss comments is because I like commenting on other blogs. I also like responding to things on Twitter. Then, you see something like this:

I used to follow Father Martin because he always posted something worth a response usually in correction. Now, I realize that he never read those responses. That's OK because I am sure others did, and we all know we are playing to the audience on social media. But I don't follow Martin now or any other modernist heretics or progressive Marxist types. I put myself in a conservative echo chamber, and I like it there.

I spent close to a decade allowing comments on my blog, and I literally censored nothing except obvious spam. Then, I converted to Catholicism which brought a lot of hatred, but I didn't care just as I don't care now. But the comments section on the C-blog ended when people began attacking a guy who is forgotten now, Ev Bogue. I don't even know if Bogue is even alive now. But when he disappeared from the internet after screwing over some people, my one blog post about the guy became the internet forum for bashing on him. I didn't care and figured the guy deserved it. But then, some trolls starting posting telephone numbers and home addresses of his family members. That was more than I could stomach. I jettisoned my libertarianism and shut down comments entirely. Things have remained that way since.

This tactic Bogue's enemies used is called "doxxing." It is probably illegal or should be. Either way, I find it immoral and repugnant especially when the people getting doxxed are merely family members guilty of nothing except being related to the guy. For me, it showed me the danger of an unregulated forum which is what my comments section was here. Whatever gets published here is my doing now, so I have control over that. But I don't have the time or resources to monitor comments 24/7 or even once a day.

The issue of comboxes also brings up the issue of censorship. Right now, sites like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Google are all accused of censoring content that doesn't gibe with their standards and policies. Of course, much of the censored content is right wing. What is the deal? The reality is that these sites are run by worker ants who respond to reports and alerts all day long from people who take offense at the slightest provocation. To be on the safe side, they just delete anything and everything which means that your content is at the mercy of any triggered left wing Marxist. These pinko trolls are now empowered to shut down the internet.

When a conservative sees something he doesn't like on the internet, he simply blocks that content. This is what I do. I don't spend time trying to shut it down. It's a free country, and I think people should have the right to express themselves as long as it doesn't venture into the illegal like threatening people or posting porn illegally produced. On the other hand, when a progressive sees something he doesn't like, he moves to suppress it. This is because the left wing does not believe in the First Amendment or free expression.

Social media sites are privately run enterprises, so they are not obligated to be free speech zones. The First Amendment is a restraint on government censorship and not private censorship. As such, YouTube is within its right to delete any and all content it does not like. That is something that conservatives need to reckon with. If you want to have a free press, you're going to have to buy yourself a press.

All of this discussion of censorship and comboxes and social media begs a certain question. Is debating worth it? Once upon a time, I spent a great deal of time online and in the real world debating people about politics and religion. Now, I am middle aged which is a nice way of saying that I am getting too old for this crap. I resemble Archie Bunker a little more each day.


All in the Family was a great show but not for the reasons intended. The show was produced by Norman Lear, and the actors were all liberal including Carroll O'Connor. O'Connor played the Archie Bunker role to the hilt doing his best to make him the most unlikable guy on TV. Instead, he made Archie a hero to many blue collar Americans like my dad. Meathead played by Rob Reiner was given all the intelligent dialogue while Archie was made to look like a total neanderthal. The shows always left with the leftist conclusion that Meathead was always right in his progressivism while Archie was always wrong. The reality was that all of the propaganda could not erase the fundamental conclusion you felt in your gut that Archie was right.

Archie Bunker could be a real dolt especially on issues of race. But he was a fundamentally decent guy who worked to put a roof over the heads of a family that was always contradicting him. Remember, Meathead was a lazy loafer who ended up busting up with Archie's daughter. Meathead was a loser. And for all his sophisticated views, he really was a meathead.

Archie should have put Meathead in the street. Having to work for a living is an enlightening experience for guys like that. That is a fundamental truth about leftists. They never build anything or accomplish anything. They let others do all that heavy work. They just come along later to corrupt it all. You see this in government and also in the Roman Catholic Church. Conservatives are the builders and preservers. Progressives are the destroyers.

Debating with progressive types never leads anywhere. If you can watch people starving to death in Venezuela and still think Marxism is the answer, what can I say to you that will make you think otherwise? The thing with debate is that it assumes that these differences are merely the result of lack of information or faulty logic. But we know better. I have yet to meet a progressive who ever let the facts or the truth get in their way. These people are willfully blind and ignorant.

I am not a debater. I am a preacher. What is the difference? Debaters listen or pretend to listen. I don't listen to these people. I have never given serious consideration to their views in much the same way that I have never given serious consideration to flat earth theories. Progressives are fundamentally Marxist, and Marxism is a failure by any empirical standard you care to use.

As a preacher, I simply broadcast the message. You can take it or leave it. That's it. Not everyone is going to agree or embrace what I preach about. That is fine. The message isn't for you. The message is for those with ears to hear. I don't care to waste my time on people not inclined to hear.

There are three paths you can take. You can argue and debate with fools. This doesn't get anywhere. You can give up and be silent, viz. the quietism of Rod Dreher and his Benedict Option. Or, you can preach. Preaching yields three responses. The first and most immediate response is hatred and persecution. The second is that people ignore you. The third is that people stop and listen and embrace the message. Those are the only people that matter.

10.20.2017

PRINT--The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism by John Zmirak


It is intrinsically impossible for the pope, as pope, to speak with authority on the details of climate science. Nor is he better suited than you or I to evaluate the so-called “consensus” of actual scientists. He might as well be picking stocks or rewriting the scores of Broadway musicals, for which he has equal divine authority: none.
JOHN ZMIRAK

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism came to me at a fortuitous time because I was struggling a bit in my faith as a newbie Catholic. I was drinking deep from the Catholic fountain, but there is a difference between drinking and drowning. John Zmirak kept me from drowning. I will now elaborate.

As a Catholic, I believe that the Roman Catholic Church speaks authoritatively on matters of faith and morals. The Church does not err in this regard though some priests and bishops do their damnedest to change this to the peril of their immortal souls. I think John Zmirak shares this same belief in the Church's teaching authority. The Guide clarifies the limits of this teaching authority and declares what the Catholic Church actually teaches.

My interior struggle came as a result of reading Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton. Both of these men were fine writers and fine Catholics. But they did err in believing the Catholic Church taught more than what it taught or should have taught. Belloc expressed that Catholicism was a complete worldview, and you didn't need any other. Then, Chesterton and Belloc attempted to make this the case with their disastrous theories about Distributism. For both of them, Distributism never left the page as neither abandoned writing to go live in the shire tending crops. Today, Distributists repeat the error by writing a great deal about something they do not do themselves and which doesn't actually work in reality. Their only argument is that we should abandon capitalism for distributism because the Catholic Church teaches this. The problem is that the Church doesn't teach this, and even if it did, it would be wrong.

When it comes to economics, I believe you are better off with the guys at the Acton Institute than with the folks at The Distributist Review. The Acton people believe in capitalism as found in Smith, Mises, and Hayek but informed by Catholic teaching on faith and morals. This is no different than how Aquinas redeemed Aristotle.

Zmirak taught me in the Guide how to hold to the orthodoxy of the Catholic Church but recognize its limits. The alternative to this is to believe that the teaching of the Catholic Church is unlimited and then try and change those teachings. This is the approach of the modernists, the Society of Judas, and Pope Francis. The reality is that these heretics take the garbage of Marxist progressivism and try to dress it up in Catholic infallibility. This is the same modus operandi these same scoundrels did on the Supreme Court with the Constitution. They basically rewrite that document while claiming constitutional authority. Yes, they are utterly wicked and evil in this regard.

The Catholic Church is not an authority on something like climate change. The Catholic Church can teach that it is moral and right to take care of the environment out of respect for God and for the sake of others. But it can't make the call on whether or not humanity is causing global warming. That is for the scientists to work out. The same also applies to politics and economics. The Catholic Church can't teach authoritatively on these things except to say that governments and economies have a moral duty to serve the common good of humanity. That's it.

If you struggle with these issues or how to reconcile your politics with your faith, I absolutely recommend The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. John Zmirak did a good thing when he wrote this volume. It has helped me a great deal on a lot of issues. It will certainly help you, too.

10.18.2017

Never Retire


To retire is to die.
PABLO CASALS

A few years ago, I wrote about retirement. The gist of that article is that retirement is an economic impossibility for most people of a certain age because of bad stewardship and demographics. If your golden years rest on a ponzi scheme, you or someone else is going to be left holding a bag of nothing. For myself, I do not expect to ever be able to retire. This prospect does not disturb me because I don't believe in retirement. What does disturb me is my generation being saddled with the burden of paying for the expenses of those who do believe in retirement.

If it was up to me, I would turn out the geezers in the street. I know this makes me a cold hearted bastard, but I see it as a fitting and just end for a generation that indulged itself for its entire span. Unfortunately, I do not think the geriatric welfare class will get its comeuppance in this life. What they will get is derision and scorn as they wait to die.


This scorn and derision is already cranking up. Millennials are already expressing their anger over the dawning realization that their lives are much worse than the lives of their parents, and a generational theft is taking place as those kids are expected to pay for Social Security and Medicare with their jobs at Starbucks. This is the same generation that will not hesitate to vote in euthanasia like they have over in Europe. In socialism, killing becomes expedient especially when you consume more than you produce. I predict death panels for geriatrics, and these people will literally be stamped with expiration dates. I might be cold for wanting these people turned out into the streets, but I do want them to live even if it is a life of hardship. The rest of the world will simply reassure itself with the notion of dying in comfort.

I will move from the demographics and public policy issues to the personal. Regardless if you are rich, poor, or in between, you should never retire. Retirement is morally wrong. It is an evil thing and should never be tolerated except in cases of physical and mental incapacity. At that stage, death is close anyway. Modern medicine can extend this time a bit, but I think natural death is the way to go. My example of how to go out of this world is Saint Teresa of Calcutta who worked until her frailty and poor health finally stopped her, and she passed at age 87. She basically worked until the day she died.


I compare this saint to a man I know who is 75 and very vigorous and strong. And he should be vigorous and strong because he has been in retirement for 20 years. I like the fellow, but I see the extended vacation he is taking as a shameful thing. Unfortunately, his example is not rare but common. People can reasonably expect to live another 25-30 years past their retirement age. That is a long time. Many people don't even live to see 30. And what do these people do or accomplish during this extended lifespan of leisure? They do very little. They spend a lifetime working in order to become lazy worthless bums at the end of life. Then, they have the gall to lament the death of the work ethic in our society.

A person who is getting old needs to ask themselves one question. Is it better to burn out or rust out? Your answer to that question determines how you are going to spend your golden years. And your choice in this regard reflects what you think the purpose of life is and what you think awaits you beyond this life. For St. Teresa of Calcutta, she chose to burn out because she wanted Heaven. And she got there. But for so many others, there is nothing beyond the grave, so they choose to make a heaven out of this life as they rust out in retirement. The irony is that I see these rusty relics, and they don't seem so happy. So much for heaven on earth.


Now, the counterargument I hear is that your body and brain falls apart as you get older. Now, this is true for people with diseases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's. I am not indifferent to this, and I think these people can be excused because their bodies really are failing. But this is a fact that is true at any age and not just old age. Yet, the woman with lupus at age 30 is expected to keep going while the fit man at 65 feels entitled to take it easy in life because he has "earned" it. I think this is a load of crap.

If your body works, you should use it regardless of your age. When your body fails, then you can hang it up. This is what it means to burn out. Your body fails before your work ethic and your virtue. But barring disease and/or severe injury, you should strive to keep working and doing until your body gives out. And there are old people who do just this.


Sister Madonna Buder is known as the "Iron Nun." She competes in ironman distance triathlons. She started running at age 48 on the advice of a priest. She is 87 years old. For those who don't know, an ironman triathlon is comprised of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile cycle, and a 26.2 mile marathon. Completing such an event is impressive at any age but even more impressive when you are 80+ years old.

Now, why do I point to this extraordinary person? Merely to show what is possible at that age. I don't expect every grandmother to go out and become an Ironman triathlete. That would be unreasonable. But I don't think it is unreasonable to expect otherwise healthy but older people to continue working a job. The reality is that many old folks live in a state of premature death because they were told that this is what you do at that age. The result is that age becomes an excuse for inactivity and laziness.

Most of the things we attribute to aging are really the result of inactivity. When they say "use it or lose it," they aren't kidding. The problem isn't getting old but getting out of shape. I can tell you now that Sister Madonna would almost certainly beat me in the marathon because I can't even run a single mile at age 46. This is because she uses her body, and I don't.


I have met many older people who defy their age. There is the high school PE instructor who I met who is clearly north of 60 and has biceps like you wouldn't believe. That guy is fit. There is the 60+ cook who I know works at Olive Garden. She always has a smile, and she is the hardest worker in that place. At my own workplace, I know of a guy in his sixties who is a heart transplant recipient. He is one of our top employees putting twentysomethings to shame. I feel confident that these old folks could go another 10-15 years with no problem. But I suspect they will succumb to the siren song of retirement and let themselves go. This is a real shame.

We've all heard the story of the guy who worked hard, retired at 65, let himself go, and was dead a year later. I doubt this happens that often because there are plenty of old folks who do the same thing except they linger for another 30 years on the retirement dole while smoking cigarettes and chugging beer. But the truth in that story is that work keeps you fit while retirement makes your health and fitness go south. Consequently, I think working a 9 to 5 beyond 65 is not a curse but a blessing in disguise for these people.

I know I will never be able to afford to retire. I am good with money and live a frugal lifestyle. But I don't expect to have enough cash saved up or expect Social Security to be solvent enough to allow me 30+ years of leisure. I expect to work until I die. And I am OK with this. In fact, I think the idea is totally awesome. This is because I don't see work as a curse, and I think you will get plenty of sleep when you are dead. And there is Heaven.

At some point, even someone like Sister Madonna Buder will succumb to a body that is destined to fail. The same will happen to me and to you. We aren't immortal. But if you do it right, this time will be relatively short. The most beautiful stories I read are of people who finally "retired," left the job, and were buried two weeks later. They had enough time to get their affairs together and were no burden to their loved ones. I just don't think you can have a happy death when you choose to rust out. I've seen those deaths, too. And they were all bitter.

Don't ever retire. Choose the path of burning out instead of rusting out and let that flame burn as brightly and as long as it can. I think you will be blessed with a happy life and a happy death if you choose this path. And I think things will go better for you on the other side, too.