Amarillo: Boondoggle on the Staked Plains

In trying to lay out hotel reservations for a long trip recently, I found myself in need of a place to spend the night in North Texas. Not a lot of choices: Amarillo was the obvious one. Yet I hesitated, because I dimly remembered some problem with that city a couple of years back when I was planning stops along the same route. Well, maybe there had been a convention at the time… so I tried again. Rooms at any place nicer than the Budget Super Zero started at $150: sure enough, that’s pretty steep. Must be because there’s literally nothing else by way of hostel or settlement in North Texas, and people cramming in a late summer vacation on their way to Santa Fe or Phoenix or the People’s Republic of California have no options if they don’t wish to drive all night.

Okay, $150. Then I make a few clicks and prepare to confirm, when I notice that the taxes piled onto the already rather whopping bill are… $75! The bill increases by fifty percent to pay the damn taxes! Why, why do you pay so much tax when you pass through Amarillo?

The only reasonable answer I can divine is that the windmill-building and fracking industries are booming in the area—and local government is doing everything it can to cash in on the bonanza while it lasts. After all, if you’re traveling in connection with a major energy-producer, your expense account will readily absorb an extortionate tax (since your company intends to turn around and extort the consumer).

Now, I have my reservations about fracking. The strange incidence of earthquakes in some areas where the procedure is performed (and very unusual near-to-surface earthquakes) is a worry. But at least fracking yields a tangible result that is creating substantial energy-independence for the nation.

On the other hand, if you’ve read my earlier posts, you know that I go downright livid at the thought of windmills. They are not delivering sufficient energy to justify their existence; and by the time better technology exists, we’ll be stuck with thousands of these monstrosities in the heartland whose dismantling will be almost as costly as their assembly. Meanwhile, flatbed trucks are chugging and grinding to transport single blades out into the middle of nowhere, eating up diesel fuel every mile of the way.

On top of all that, I now realize (or am pretty darn sure) that local businesses and municipalities have probably lobbied for these gigantic exercises in futility. Ka-ching, ka-ching. If you still want to tell yourself that you support that endeavor because you believe in natural, renewable energy, then keep singing yourself to sleep with the same refrain… but you’d better keep your eyes firmly shut and the lights turned off.

When I Hate Being Right: Global Safety Deteriorates

I’ll write as little today as necessary to get the idea across, because I don’t like using this space to post political commentary. But recent events are snapping my last nerve.

The oligarchy that tyrannizes millions of human beings in Communist China has been busy over the past few weeks. Chinese troops are now swarming along India’s Bhutanese border and spoiling for a fight (news is that they’ve already launched a mortar shell or two). As usual, the Chinese grind out a bunch of claptrap about only taking defensive action: paranoid lunatics always take only defensive actions. But I don’t even know that this regime deserves the excuse of insanity. They’ve prosecuted their “we’re Number One” economic jingoism for so long, forging ahead with an environmentally ruinous industrialization adrift from any sort of market force, that their economy is actually in shambles. To conceal the fact, they have to keep pillaging natural resources from the rest of Asia and—increasingly—Africa. Naturally, this is bringing them into conflict with numerous sovereign nations that don’t like being invaded or steamrolled… so the PRC’s government cranks up the estercola-mill and announces that it has to defend itself.

I can only reiterate that this is a scary, scary bunch of megalomaniac plutocrats, who are nowadays wielding a communist ideology with the self-serving cynicism of a jihadi who sends out boys to suicide-bomb while he rakes in generous contributions. Of course, the PRC elite have done absolutely nothing to put Kim Jong Un back on his leash. Through his rabid yapping, they have satisfied themselves that Donald Trump is highly unlikely to push any red buttons. That’s just what they wanted to find out.

And now, thanks to quarreling “bigly” with the broadcast media (speaking of mad dogs), Trump is afraid to forge any kind of alliance with Russia, a move which would be essential to containing the truly ravenous imperialism of Red China. Though he condemned Congress’s sanctions against Russia as ill-considered, Trump signed them into law, anyway, lest anyone accuse him of delivering on a sub rosa election promise to Vladimir. I have never been a Trumpista, but I would indeed have respected him in a new way if he had vetoed the sanctions and chosen, instead, to pursue some sort of rapprochement with Putin. That would have demonstrated true independence, and also a genuine concern for our national welfare. Now we’re merely hanging out the European Union’s wash for some reason—another statist oligarchy that doesn’t execute dissenters left and right, it’s true, but has ceased being a friend to free speech, liberal values, and the Christian faith. And by the way, Mr. Trump… sticking your thumb in Vlad’s eye is not going to improve your press coverage!

If I thought our talking heads contained anything by way of gray matter, I would suspect them of being on the Chinese payroll. Our foreign policy has now been so disastrously hamstrung by Russophobia that the new administration has already committed major strategic gaffes and also shown the world that it is hostage to the kingmakers at CNN. Kim Jong Un is free to slaver and bite, the PRC imperial government to appropriate and exploit… but, by gum, we’re going to hound Trump out of office! Yeah!

No, our media are not in league with the PRC. They’re what Lenin called “useful idiots”. Why should you pay some fool to go on the attack who starts to salivate every time you ring a bell?

 

Slander Is Loathsome… But So Is Intimidation

A clarification: yes, I’m very, very tired of being called names because of my genetic material. The argument that a particular biological type is responsible for vast misery, not because of conscious choices made by representatives of the type, but because of overriding instincts irresistible to the whole group, is definitively fascist. It isolates the entire enemy-group (males, blacks, whites, Jews, aborigines) without reference to its individuals—without extending to those individuals any possibility of redemption. We call a man bad because he elects to do bad deeds: to steal, to cheat, to betray. We don’t call him bad because he grew up in a culture where anyone may walk into another’s house and carry off a bit of food from the larder. We certainly don’t call him bad because he has curly dark hair, and we’ve decided that curly dark hair indicates “oversexed” DNA conducive to sexual aggression. That’s “witch hunt” stuff. The very possibility of a “good/bad” determination about moral character is removed if the subject cannot make willed choices; and, indeed, to insist that a person is bad for something over which he has no control is itself bad, in that the judge has refused the terms of common humanity to the judged.

I reiterate, then, that to call a male a sexual predator merely because of his sex, to call a Caucasian a genocidist merely because of his race, and so forth is pure Nazi-speak. It’s self-contradictory, hypocritical, arrogant, inhumane… and, by the way, quite stupid.

Here’s the clarification. I do NOT therefore endorse behavior which licenses our showering deliberate liars with obscenities, pushing them off the sidewalk, punching them in the kidney, or criminalizing their exercise of free speech. It didn’t even occur to me, frankly, that clarification was needed there. When you’re slandered, you have every right to stand up and denounce the slanderer—and even, usually, a moral duty to do so; for if you allow a crime to be committed against you today with impunity, then it will very likely be committed against someone else tomorrow. But a denunciation consists of a rational argument from the other side built upon coherent principles and adducing truthful evidence to expose the perpetrated fraud: it’s not a series of counter-slanders.

Especially in this case, where men are being accused of eyeing every woman for a chance to rape her, to “double team” the assailant with an assault of twice the vitriol—and backed up with real intimidation, such as threat of a gag order or physically outshouting the other party—makes one look like the very kind of man one has supposedly been slandered with being.

I know that a lot of people as fed up as I am (probably men, especially) cast their vote in the last election because they’d had enough. They lacked a forum to bellow, “Sit down and shut up!” so that it would be heard nationally, but they found a figurehead who—they thought—got this message across. Unfortunately, elevating a “bogeyman” figurehead doesn’t address the issues underlying our culturally pathological indulgence of lies that slander large groups within the nation: it only makes us more closely resemble the unfair caricature.

Thanks to the other side for circulating all these caricatures, in the first place—you of the educated elite, I mean, who’ve been railing against “stereotypes” for half a century. The “brutal male” wouldn’t be nearly so prominent in our cultural life if you hadn’t insisted that all males are brutal. The best way to raise a thief is to accuse a kid of stealing things all throughout his childhood. Just keep up your good work in this area, O Ivory Tower Beacon of Enlightenment!

As for me, I cannot consider a guy who slanders slanderers to be a champion of truth—and I certainly don’t consider men who’ve lost every trace of chivalry to be paradigms of manhood. This side, that side… I just see one side, and myself not in the middle but far beyond the perimeter. I wonder more every day if I’m alone.

 

The Unending Christian Dispute Over Islam

Over the past few days, I’ve had several sustained exchanges with friends and acquaintances about Islam. The most ardent and influential of these correspondents insisted that my effort to distinguish between Islam and Islamism is a waste of time. He made the following points:

1) Islam itself is the problem. Its objective is not to disseminate a religious vision, but to enforce a body of law upon the rest of the world.

2) Its scriptures are replete not with descriptions of historical violence, but with “how to” varieties of “instructional violence”.

3) Its exhortation to follow Mohammed’s example (even before Koranic teaching, so my friend argues), drives such behaviors as the merciless execution of enemies and the marrying of child-brides.

4) ISIS, Al Qaeda, et al. are merely following Islam to the letter; civil, peaceful, amiable Muslims (of which my friend concedes there are many) are in fact far less true to their faith than the terrorist is.

5) Islam continues to spread unrest of the most sanguinary sort around the world, and has done so without respite throughout its history: e.g., Boko Haram’s predations in Nigeria, which doesn’t “take their oil or support Israel or any of that crap.”

I can’t maintain that I have ever found reading the Koran particularly uplifting—or, I should say, that the uplifting parts seem to me sufficient motive to brush away the disturbing parts. And I will quickly add that parts of the Old Testament have always deeply troubled me, from Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son to the programs of genocide in the books of Samuel. But I rarely hear those sections of the Bible recommended in Christian culture as paradigms for how we should conduct ourselves in daily life or how our nation should construct a foreign policy. Another friend made the oft-repeated point to me that this resistance to ignoring certain bellicose sections of the Koran—or this acquiescence to the decisions of leaders not to ignore them—is a major stumbling block to those of us who would reach across the barriers of traditional practice.

I mentioned Zuhdi Jasser to my most vocal contact. He revealed that he had actually worked with Jasser and found him completely sincere… but that the good doctor’s humane secularism was doomed to failure in the broader Islamic world.

Honesty compels me to say that I can’t disagree with most of the points made in these exchanges. I suppose one of my reservations would qualify as pragmatic. It’s this: I don’t know where moderate Muslims like Jasser and Qanta Ahmed are to turn if we say, “You’re lovely people… but your diabolical faith must either devour you or transform you. Your one chance is to cross entirely over to our side.” Isn’t that an ideal strategy for pushing all of the moderates over to the other side?

I have one more objection, which is not at all pragmatic but has a much stronger grip upon me. As a Christian, I am fully persuaded that God is not morally inscrutable to us, but rather that He speaks very comprehensibly of basic right and wrong to every ear that listens. Nevertheless, I cannot tell a Muslim, “Your god is too distant, too arbitrary and morally unmoored from humanity”—not when it is we who practice wholesale abortion and insist that mainstream culture admit one deviant sexual practice after another. I am ashamed of Christendom, on the whole. Perhaps so many Muslims are convinced that Christianity is not the answer because they see how self-styled Christian populations behave on TV, at the movies, through the medium of pop music, and even in legislative decisions.

Marrying a child-bride is pretty awful. Slipping off on weekend junkets from Frisco or Seattle to Thailand so you can wallow through fields of child-prostitutes… well, I think I’m okay with beheading in those instances.

Hands Off YOUR WHAT?

We’ve bought a nice little piece of land in the Appalachian foothills where I plan to grow almonds and apples, just to name the two that begin my list alphabetically. I have cans and canisters of seeds saved from years and years ago which I intend to plant. We’ll see what actually comes up. Thanks to genetic modification, very few of the fruits and vegetables I would have bought at the grocery store over the past six or eight years will ever produce anything from their seeds. That’s a frightening thought, and one of the reasons I want my own land with my own food growing on it. Some day, Big Brother is going to be deciding who gets viable seeds and who doesn’t, because nothing in our commercially purchased food will reproduce. I’m sure the basis of selection will be “first come, first served”… just as I’m sure that the single year my tax-exempt charity was hounded by the IRS had nothing to do with Lois Lerner’s reign.

At the entrance to my property sit two rusty old gates. They won’t keep out any hunters who really want in, but they might be a mild deterrent to teenagers looking for some place to drive into the woods and smoke weed or run anatomy experiments. The previous owners don’t seem to care about the gates sufficiently to take them down, and we’re glad enough to have them since we are not yet in situ. It might be said that the gates are now ours: the property is ours, and the gates were a free gift. Kind of.

But what happens if, after we’re moved in and well settled, the previous owners show up and want their gates back? They say, “You know, leaving them didn’t seem like a problem before… but now we’re running really short of cash. We need another pair of gates on our farm but can’t afford to buy them—so, naturally, we thought of these two. Sorry that you got used to them, or that we let you get used to them… but they weren’t ever part of the original sale. You realize that, don’t you? You didn’t pay a penny for them. They were a freebee, given on the assumption that we had unlimited money in the bank. Turns out that we don’t, so… now we need them back.”

At this point, I rear back and scream at the top of my lungs, “Hands off my gates! Do you want me to die—do you want robbers to break in and kill us? Everyone has a right to protection in this world. Hands off my gates!

I would look pretty stupid, wouldn’t I?

“Planet-Saving” Scams: The Stupidity and the Outrage

In case I haven’t written enough about this before… let me urge anyone who reads these scribbles to view words and phrases like “environmentally friendly”, “sustainable”, and “renewable” with extreme skepticism when they appear in the context of energy. The California legislature, in its interminable and terminal stupidity, has apparently decided to require that all new houses be equipped with solar panels and that all farms devote 25 percent of their acreage to windmills. One idiot legislator was chirping about all the new jobs that will be created by the heavy-handed mandate; and when questioned about how the consumer will pay the roofing crews who profit from the artificial bonanza, he blithely responded that the federal government would pick up the tab in the form of tax credits and rebates. That means YOU, my dear, and I: WE shall pay for California’s decision to “act responsibly” and “save the planet”. I thought Californians wanted to secede… so what’s holding them up?

Umm, and about “saving the planet”… just a few words. The rare-earth elements with which solar panels are coated—delightful stuff like cadmium and mercury—are so toxic that they can’t even be mined legally in this country. In the Third World and China (i.e., where people will shorten their lives just to eat for what time they have, or where their government doesn’t give a damn if they live or not), the locations where such mining is done are known as “cancer villages”. The life expectancy falls well short of thirty. So the next time you’re congratulating yourself for being environmentally responsible and saving the planet, say a little prayer for the children whom your virtue sent to an early grave… would you, please? And by the way, the panels need replacing every twenty-five or thirty years. Their energy output is not indefinitely sustainable.

As for windmills, every time I drive west or up into the heartland, I’m infuriated. There are quite literally thousands and thousands of the things. The landscape west of Abilene was never lyrically beautiful, but it once had a kind of sublimity that I found uplifting. Now vast tracts of land from West Texas to… yes, California… look like some kind of Siberian gulag for misbehaving fans—or perhaps like an infinite gauntlet of paddles awaiting some class of sinners in Dante’s lower Inferno. I’ve never seen all of the blades turning at once, and few of them ever turn very fast. Imagine the rate at which a turbine would be spinning at the base of a mediocre waterfall, and then compare that mental picture to the pathetic gyrations of these regimented titans. It is simply inconceivable that the horde of creaky monstrosities will pay for itself in less than a century. Each blade exceeds the length of a flatbed truck and must be hauled expensively (using God knows how much gas, by the way) from whatever industrial hub produced it (using God knows how much oil or coal, by the way). And there they sit, thousands upon thousands of them, all but motionless and about as scenic as the smokestacks of nineteenth-century Manchester. So far, though many are perched in prime tornado territory, we haven’t seen the consequences of their huge blades being torn asunder near a population center. And in the very near future—far sooner than a century—when we have discovered some infinitely cheaper energy source, we will face the further risk and expense of having to take them down.

Meanwhile, the industrial donors to these idiot politicians who sell their “clean energy” programs to you, the idiot public, keep raking in the taxpayer’s cash. We are creating jobs, you know! And meanwhile, as well, those of the emoji generation who need to slap a little icon or bumper-sticker on their conscience to show that they care about the planet as they check their messages and scroll through YouTube have the drive-through fix they crave. At what a cost! But what do they care? Just as long as everyone knows they “care”.

The Most Dangerous Nation on Earth

I’m sorry that I use this space for so much griping, but… maybe that’s how I retain what little sanity I have.

Throughout my life, I have been what you might call a Sinophobe. Communist China scares me stiff. Even in early adolescence, I knew that the PRC was feeding arms to the Vietcong, and I had a feeling that I would end up face down in a rice paddy like so many of those just a little older than I… all because Red China couldn’t desist from fomenting unrest and bloodshed all around the world. The Chinese had ginned up the Korean conflict just a bit before my time; and the Korean War, as you all know, has never officially ended, and indeed could go nuclear almost any day now. No one can convince me that the PRC’s ruling elite couldn’t pull the rug out from under that sadistic, megalomaniac butterball, Kim Jong Un, any time they wanted to. Instead, they have actually decided to increase trade and aid to this lunatic as the rest of the world tries to isolate him—this while, at the same time, they assure our diplomats that they’ve played every card in their hand.

Meanwhile, China continues to bully Taiwan. (My own guess is that the PRC oligarchs are stoking Kim’s dreams of nuclear holocaust in hopes of backing us away from our support of the Taiwanese, at which point they will simply invade and take over. It’s how they think.) Japan, Vietnam, and even India are also being menaced by Chinese saber-rattling. The PRC has grossly mismanaged its vast economy, through a combination of state-mandated projects that create temporary jobs but appeal to no market and rampant corruption in top-heavy local bureaucracies. The response of the oligarchs—again fully typical—is not to learn from mistakes and clean up their act, but to execute a few of the more public grafters, brush other errors under the rug, and seek to prop up the economic numbers by raping vulnerable spots around the globe of their very limited resources.

Africa has been especially hard-hit, because her own struggling economies cannot resist the kind of short-term wealth that China dangles before them. A Chinese conglomerate will move in and construct a soccer stadium or lavish government buildings (using only Chinese workmen) in return for local mineral rights, then leave the country with rare rainforests razed from the face of the earth and none of the locals knowing how to operate or maintain all the great new “free” stuff… which falls apart within ten years.

People who speak out… vanish. Editors and publishers take mysterious, unannounced “vacations” from Hong Kong and may or may not be heard from again. Internationally visible advocates of freedom are invited for a “cup of tea” at the local police station… and may return a week or a month later, with guards thenceforward posted around their home to watch their every move. Others simply rot away in prison. Liu Xiao Bo, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is going to die unnecessarily of cancer because his captors won’t allow him to have treatment in the West; and though one would suppose that Liu would have global visibility, the rest of the world is beginning to prefer blindness. Maybe we’re supposed to reason that everyone dies of cancer in China, anyway, free or jailed. The air, water, and food are so polluted that sometimes even the oligarchs can’t be assured of a non-toxic environment.

Yes, China’s government scares the crap out of me. It always has. Churchill and FDR winked at Stalin’s massacres in their zeal to depose Hitler and armed China’s communist resistance to the Japanese as if, war ended, we would have sweetness and light in perpetuity. We have lived since under the shadow of a mushroom cloud; and I’ll even say—take a deep breadth—that dropping the bombs and demanding Japan’s unconditional surrender was a big, big blunder, insofar as it left the door wide open for Mao. Look at the numbers. Mao murdered, directly and indirectly, more innocent human beings than Hitler and Stalin combined.

So why is it—remind me again, please—that Russia is our “primary geopolitical enemy,” as I just heard one National Review editor opine? Shouldn’t we, rather, be luring Russia to our side as China lengthens Kim’s leash and sends her cruisers arrogantly through neutral waters throughout Southeast Asia? Shouldn’t we even be pondering how to make Iran more of a thorn in the PRC’s side?

But no, I have a better idea: let’s defeat some of China’s enemies for her, emasculate others, and turn still others into her allies! Because we just can’t have those stinking Ruskies giving presidential candidates confidential dirt about each other. That red line… you gotta draw it somewhere, you know.