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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Monday, September 28, 2015

BORN THAT WAY

"Pedophilia isn't a moral wrong."
-Ben Kuchera, Senior editor Polygon

Every time the topic of pedophilia and related sickness comes up, at least some of the people there get this jaded look on their face like you're talking about the earth being flat or moon landings being faked.   There he goes again, warning about the slippery slope and predicting horrors just because we're nice to homosexuals.
Its long been a chorus over the years that cultural conservatives have heard.  No-fault divorce will not cause a breakdown in marriage and family, you heartless jerk!  Relaxing sexual mores will not result in increased teen pregnancy and social decline, you cold-hearted monster!  The responses are remarkably consistent from the same groups of people: any resistance to moving away from proven and trustworthy social morals is a terrible, restrictive, and even fascist thing.
Repeatedly over the years I've noted that the trend is toward normalizing pedophilia and related evils in western culture.  Each step has predictable and unpredictable results, and leads naturally and logically to the next slouch toward Gomorrah.  The problem is that the sophist, emotionally-driven arguments for these changes always appeal not to the good of society and reason, but to feelings and how nice people are.  And, of course, personal attacks, accusations of terrible motives, and insults.
For a few decades now, film, literature, and portions of art and other communities have been leaning toward normalizing underage sexuality.  Since the 70s, Roman Polanski's rape of a drug addled girl of 13 years has been defended by those who think his art transcends morality and propriety.  But its getting more pervasive and common these days.  Take this little piece at Salon by an admitted pedophile defending his behavior:
Many gays begin to recognize their sexual preferences sometime around puberty, if not before.  For me it was the same.  I was about 12 when the first inklings of a sexual preference bubbled up in me, though at the time I thought little of it.  As I turned 13 it occurred to me that what I initially took as a phase had begun to solidify into something more troubling.  Even so, at this point I could still convince myself that I was within the realm of normalcy.  Then something happened that all but removed my ability to continue this self-denial: my Eureka Moment.

One day, as I was sketching in my grandparents’ living room, a neighbor of theirs came to visit with his seven-year-old daughter in tow.
He goes on to talk about how he was born that way and its just how he is and how awful people are who "out" someone of his kind.  He frames this in terms of "help us not do this" but the tone of the article is one of wanting acceptance, not help to be better.  The comparison to homosexuality is repeated, as it has been by people defending the man and his proclivities online.  He describes his yearnings as "alternative sexuality" the exact term that was and still is used for homosexuality.
The "born that way" argument is one of the most effective the homosexual activists has deployed in the past.  They use it because they compare it to race, then say "you can't discriminate against race, its not fair, they can't stop being who they are!"
The problem here, of course, is one of morality.  There is no moral character to one's ethnic background any more than being left handed, blue-eyed, or short.  Its just a physical description.  Moral character comes from what we do with what we are.  Some behaviors are evil and awful and should be oppose, period, no matter how much someone is born that way.  
Being born lusting toward someone you ought not is bad for you, and a struggle - we all have those struggles in some way or another whether it be jealousy about wealth, gluttonly, gossipping, excessive rebellion, and so on... or something sexual in nature.  Fighting that evil inside us is a noble cause.  But at no point does it become justification or permission for behavior.  Being born a certain way is simply a statement of fact, not allowance to act upon it.
But that argument has a certain emotional appeal: this is how I am, how can you be so cruel as to say I must not be how I was born?  Its unfair, its unjust, its unreasonable to expect me to fight against my nature!
After all, if you believe the purpose of humanity is to fulfill its desires, to be happy, healthy, comfortable, and enjoy themselves - as the bulk of modern culture agrees to - then how can you say that someone must fight their natures?  That would make them... unhappy!
At present, the concept of "age of consent" bars certain actions, but this is a legal fiction, an arbitrary statement agreed to by society and codified into law.  It could be just as easily disagreed upon and re-codified, or removed from law.  After all, children have a right to be happy too, and sex is great, how can we prevent them from enjoying that pleasure?  And the 14th amendment after all, states clearly that one may not treat someone differently without due process.
Let me repeat that.  The 14th amendment of the US Constitution says that all must be treated equally under law unless a court process and legal decision allows them to be treated differently.  Not a law, but a case decision: being convicted of a crime, for example.  So technically, kids cannot be denied certain things simply by age - that is not permitted in the way the 14th amendment is worded.
So there we have it: cultural pressure, legal structure in place, identical arguments of human fulfillment and nature, and we're seeing more and more of the push for acceptance show up in the news, entertainment, cultural institutions, etc.
But by all means. Tell me I'm crazy.  Tell me no way would society go that far.  Pretend your daughter is safe.  Hey, she might be - the shift might take 10 years, and by then she'd be of legal age.  Tough luck for her kids, though.
*UPDATE: the author of that Slate article posted a followup all about how the real monsters are right wingers on social media who are so mean to him for being a child molester.

Friday, September 18, 2015

COMMON KNOWLEDGE Potpourri IV

"It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance."
-Thomas Sowell

Its time for another roundup of misconceptions, factoids (in the truest sense - things people beleive are facts but are not), and mistaken common knowledge.  There are so many of these that I don't suppose I'll ever run out.
First up, Martin Luther King jr. and his politics.  This one gets thrown around by both parties and people opposing each party quite a bit.  MLK jr. was a Republican!  No, he was a Democrat!  See, your side must be wrong because this mascot is on our side!  The truth is, nobody knows what party MLK was a member of, if any.  There isn't any record, and nobody seems to recall.  Its possible he was never registered as a member of a party.  If any its likely he was Republican because most blacks in the 50s and early 60s were - Democrats at the time being the party of Jim Crow and opposing ending slavery in years past.  But there's no way of knowing.
Islam, I've written about it in the past, and probably should do an entry in this series based on the misconceptions and confusion about the religion.  But there's a very odd one among the black community in America that claims Islam is the black man's religion, as opposed to Christianity.  This probably arose because so many black prisoners have taken up Islam and some prominent black celebrities ("leaders") are Muslim such as Louis Farrakhan.  And there is a large portion of Africa which is Muslim.  But that's a fairly recent development in African history - roughly 600 AD was the first introduction of Islam to the continent - and only covers the northern part.  
Islam is an Arabic religion (Arabs being ethnically Caucasian) and indeed borrowed heavily from previous Arabic religions and cultural patterns, blending them with Judaism and Christianity.  If any religion can be said to be from Africa, it would be something like Voodoo or Sangria, although those have been heavily influenced by other religions.
Nowhere in the Koran is there a mention of 72 virgins for martyrs in heaven.  The descriptions of heaven in the Koran do note hot women awaiting the dead, but that's for anyone who goes, not just martyrs.  The 72 virgin line comes from a Hadith (traditional sayings of Muhammad and stories of his life) written after the Koran.
The Wright Brothers did not build the first flyable aircraft.  They did build the first actual airplane, but lighter than air devices were being experimented with and functioning as far back as the late 1700s.  As early as the 1200s, the Chinese have stories of men being strapped to kites and flown, although that's not exactly an aircraft.  However, it was in 1848 that Sir George Cayley built and tested a glider, with a small boy flying it.  In 1853, he tested a full sized aircraft with controls and an adult pilot, although it was still a glider.  His efforts to build an engine using rubber (presumably like a rubber band) did not see any success.
What the Wright Brothers did was invent the powered airplane, something that proved and demonstrated that you could fly on your own, instead of gliding, using the internal combustion engine.  Thus, they invented the first true modern airplane rather than a glider.
Columbus did not prove the world was round.  Few scientists believed that to be the case, and indeed over a thousand years before Columbus was born, Eratosthenes measured the world and proved that it was round.  What Columbus was trying to do was use the round world to find a quicker, cheaper trade route to Southeast Asia by going west rather than east and around Africa.  He had a hard time getting funding because people though the trip was too far, not because they thought he'd sail off the edge of the planet.
Rosa Parks was not just some tired old woman who finally just decided to not give up her seat.  After a long day at work she probably was tired, and she did refuse to give up her seat, its true, but she did so as a deliberate act of civil disobedience and was an activist working with Martin Luther King jr.  That doesn't detract from her significance or the effect on the Civil Rights movement, but this wasn't just some coincidence or some poor old woman being misused (she was only 42 at the time) at random.  She deliberately set about to spark a legal case and draw attention to the ridiculous and oppressive laws of the time.
Marie Antoinette probably never said “let them eat cake.”  In fact, there's no evidence anyone ever said it at the time, and she was smarter than generally portrayed.  The only source for this quote is Jean Jacque Rousseau's biography in which he mentions "a great princess" saying "let them eat brioche" but the work is generally thought to be without historical merit and largely invented to begin with.
Henry Ford did not invent the automobile.  I'm not sure how this one comes up but the automobile's invention is a bit clouded in mystery, but happened in the 19th century before he was born.  There was a guy that claimed to have invented the device and the story of the battle between him and Ford is a fascinating one.  Ford didn't even invent the assembly line, although he did pretty well perfect it to build automobiles.  Ransom E. Olds (the guy behind the Oldsmobile) actually was the first to use it and he probably got the idea from someone else.
Sharks are not immune to cancer.  They tend to get skin cancer more than anything else.
Fatwas are not Islamic death sentences.  They are non-binding legal decisions by Muslim judges.  They do not compel action, and can be about anything, not just calling for death.
Cooking with wine will not remove the alcohol completely.  Even if it is baked for two hours, 10% of the alcohol will remain in the food.
Edelweiss is not the national anthem of Austria.  In fact, it was an original composition written for the film The Sound of Music.  Beautiful song, though.
Mary Magdalene in the Bible is never identified as a prostitute.  The only connection is the mention of a woman with a reputation of sinning mentioned not long before Mary is introduced, but there's no reason to assume that the two women are the same, or even evidence that the "sin" involved was prostitution.
Black soldiers were not segregated in the US military until after WW2.  Blacks served along side whites long before that (even as far back as the Revolutionary war), but the training was generally segregated, and during the first half of the 20th century, blacks were generally put into their own, separate units rather than with whites.  Truman's executive order 9981 in 1948 required desegregation of training and units, blending all servicemen together.  
 The thing is, in practical war fighting, the structures of units were so fluid and in the battlefield so often of little meaning that these separations often disappeared.  There's good reason to believe that the presence of black soldiers next to whites in the battle line seeing each other in action and being bonded by fear, death, and warfare is what lead more to the civil rights changes in later years than anything else.  
Basically, fighting next to a guy bonds you closer than some stupid ideas of race and appearance, and for a lot of these soldiers, this was their first exposure to blacks up close, which changed theory into reality pretty fast.  Coming home after war, they couldn't see any point in the separation and mistreatment of people they'd fought by and knew were just folks.
And that's it for now
*This is part of the Common Knowledge series: things we know that ain't so.

Monday, September 14, 2015

A CHRISTIAN RESPONSE: Mecca Crane Disaster

"This is great honor from God that every one wishes for but not many will be granted."

In the news on 9/11 this year was the memorial of the terrorist attack on New York City, where almost 4000 people died.  Also in the news was the story of a disaster in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.  There, lightning struck a large crane and it collapsed on the Grand Mosque, killing at least 60 and injuring many others.  The crane was owned by the construction company that Osama Bin Laden owned (his father was a wealthy construction magnate in Saudi Arabia).
The timing and the location of this disaster has prompted more than a few reactions around the internet.  Many are crying "karma" as if some vast wheel of cosmic justice caused the crane to fall and kill worshipers on the anniversary of their co-religionist's murderous attack.  Others are saying that the hand of God must be involved: lightning, falling on Muslims, in Mecca, on that day seems a bit more coincidence than they can believe.  Even Muslims are responding to this event as if it is special:
Shockingly, a British imam and director of the Oxford Islamic Information Centre, Dr Hojjat Ramzy, said he wanted to “congratulate” those who lost their lives for “going straight to heaven without any question”, describing the tragic incident as a “great honour”.

The Independent newspaper quoted him as saying: “Many Muslim pilgrims wish to pass away during the journey of hajj and to have honour of being buried in the holy city of Mecca.

“This is great honour from God that every one wishes for but not many will be granted.”

The half-Iranian, half-Iraqi imam said he was “very saddened” to hear of the deaths, but added: “In the same breath, I would like to congratulate those people who lost their lives for going straight to heaven without any question."
From what I know of Islam this seems like a dubious claim - unless you are given a special dispensation by an Imam before taking an action, or die in Holy War, everyone goes to hell for at least a time to pay for their sins in Islamic teaching.  But perhaps death on pilgrimage also qualifies.
Now, the "karma" reaction is ridiculous; even if there was a shred of reason to believe in some cosmic wheel of retributive justice and reward, there's no rational basis for tying the pilgrims who died in this disaster with the radicals who planned, funded, and executed the terrorist attack in 2001.  Simply being a Muslim is no more tie than being male.
But does the "vengeance of God" theory hold any validity?  Is this an act of God's judgment against people who not only reject His word, but Jesus as savior?  Is it a symbolic strike against a religion which has members who murder Christians specifically and deliberately?
Any time there is a major disaster, someone always claims they know what it means and that God is doing something against someone.  Generally they interpret it to mean God's vengeance against someone they particularly dislike or who has been mean to them.  This says much more about them than about God or Christianity, let alone truth.
But the fact is, we know for certain, without doubt, at least one reason this - and every other - disaster took place.  We know because Jesus Christ himself taught us, as recorded in Luke 13:1-5
There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.  And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things?  I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.  Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
Historically, the people were asking about an event in which Pilate had ordered soldiers to kill Jewish worshipers (presumably rebels and troublemakers - Pilate got the job of governor in of Judea to put down all the rebellion and was according to history quite successful).  They wondered why those people had died, what their sin was?  That question came up a couple times in the gospels, where disciples and others asked Jesus what the sin of people who died in disaster could have been.
Its not difficult to guess why they asked.  People still do it today: what did they do to deserve this terrible death?  Its human nature to assume that death or disaster which befalls us is unjust and unreasonable.  And certainly in the Old Testament, the stories of God's wrath falling in spectacular fashion always was accompanied by an explanation of the evil that person had done... except in one very noteworthy case.
That would be the case of Job, who was called a "righteous" and "blameless" man who suddenly was stricken by every horrific thing a man can experience and yet still live - even his wife turned on him.  And what did his friends say?  This must have been some secret sin, nobody has this happen to them without cause.  God eventually speaks directly and what does He say?
"I'm God.  Deal with it.  I know what I'm doing, and I do not have to answer to you or anyone else.  You must trust me."
That's not the answer any of us care to hear, but in these verses, Jesus explains more fully - the course of redemptive history and God's progressive revelation now coming to its fruition so that everything can be revealed.
Jesus says "they were sinners, sure.  Like you.  Like everyone on this earth and everyone who has been on this earth, save me.  They didn't sin any special way more than others around them.  You should be looking at your own heart, not others."
Jesus says the reason this happened - in part at least - is to make you stop and reflect on your own sins, repent of your own evils, and walk humbly and justly before God.  In other words, you don't point the finger of indignation at others when this happens.  You don't judge them as being more wicked than you.  You look inward, see your sin, and go to the cross of Christ to cling to His doing and dying.
None of us deserve anything except hell its self (see Romans 1-3 for more details on that).  The assumption that some disaster struck someone else is the assumption that we're better than them.  That we don't deserve that sort of thing, we're good people.  We don't sin like that guy.  Thank God I'm not [insert category here]!
But Jesus rejects that as arrogant, sinful, and presumptuous.  We do deserve that.  We are as sinful as they are.  Only the grace of God and the love of Christ Jesus prevents that disaster from happening to us.  Unmerited, unearned, through no greatness of our own.
So when a disaster like Mecca takes place, its time to check your heart: is there anger and vengeance in there?  Is there a lust for disaster against others?  What sins have we committed this week, this day, this hour that we should repent of ourselves?  That's the Christian response - that and prayers for the families that they find peace, and come to understand the gospel and the love of God themselves.
Certainly we want the world to be just.  Certainly we want those who hate God to love Him.  Certainly we desire for the world to be saved and terrorism to stop.  But to wish disaster, death and maiming on people because they are our enemies, that's simply not Christian.
Remember, Jesus said to bless those who curse you, to pray for your enemies and those who persecute you.  We are to reach out in love and compassion when something like this happens, not snicker in satisfied glee at their distress.  They had it coming.  Yeah.  So do I.  So do you.  Like William Munny said in the film Unforgiven "we all got it coming.
*This is part of the Christian Response series.

Friday, September 11, 2015

LIFE UNWORTHY HITS THE SHELVES

"I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done."
Steven Wright
People have asked here whether I have a new book coming out, and I've said yes, but it has been taking quite a while to finish.  Well, its done.
For more than eight years I have been working on a book, and now its done.  Life Unworthy is finished and available for pre-order on Amazon (release date September 21).  Life Unworthy is a supernatural thriller set in WW2 Poland, and unlike my previous two books is more gritty and dark in nature.
Here's the back blurb:
When poison gas was delivered to a shower in Birkenau, the camp guards expected death, but what came out of that concrete chamber was far worse. Now the Fuhrer has demanded the monster be tracked down and destroyed, but a German scientist has other ideas for how it may be used for the third Reich. And the Werewolf has plans of his own.

Caught in the middle is the city of Krakow and its citizens striving to survive under the brutal, murderous Nazi regime. In that city is Aniela Wisniewski, a ‘pianist’ feeding snippets of information to the British. As events unfold, terror spreads over the city with Aniela at its center, a terror racing to an inconceivable conclusion!
I started this novel before I wrote Snowberry's Veil and Old Habits, as a National Novel Writing Month book effort. I didn't actually finish the book, but the effort to put something on paper every day forced me to write when I was worried about the time and trouble of finishing a book and broke me free to actually become an author.  Back then I posted the sections I wrote here, on this blog, with some comments each day on what I was thinking or trying to do.
But Life Unworthy was a more challenging book, one that was more difficult to write in terms of the story and the concept I had in mind.  I wasn't up to the task as a writer.  So I turned to other projects and I enjoyed them tremendously: two fantasy novels which are getting great reviews and are very well accepted by readers.
So now the book is finished, and you can read the first part of the book as I post it in serial format on Wattpad, two parts a week until the release date.  Here is the full book cover for the print version which will be available on Lulu and CreateSpace print on demand:

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

WHY I DON'T GIVE A DAMN ANY MORE

"Fool me once, shame on me."

Syria has been torn by civil war and invading forces trying to take over for years now.  When it first started up, the USA and other countries had an opportunity to lean on the nation and help keep things under control.  NATO and the UN have been somewhat successful in the past in controlling violence in these situations, and even calming a country down.
But despite several "red lines" drawn by President Obama, and a hapless group of ill-trained rebels sent in by the United States to be slaughtered, nothing was done for good or ill.  So the situation has gotten increasingly worse as IS sends troops into Syria to take it over.
Now, the place has become such a disaster that thousands of refugees are fleeing the country, accompanied by at least some thousands of radical Muslim invaders posing as refugees.  Their travel patterns are conspicuously non-refugee:
These "refugees" among the real ones are heading for places they can get welfare money and change the culture to be Muslim - and they aren't very grateful or nice people, either. Still, Syria is in terrible shape, and I don't blame people for wanting to get out.  As rebels hide among the population, the Asad government - never one to let morality or human decency get in the way - is bombing the population where they figure rebels might be.
And calls for the USA to do something are rising.  Presidential Candidate Marco Rubio says we should let Syrian refugees into America.  And Michael Totten pointed out in an article about IS and Palmyra recently:
One of my best friends was so aghast he told me that the United States should invade Afghanistan. I said he was nuts. We’re not going to invade a country on the other side of the planet because some primitive yahoos blew up some statues. And I was right. We did not invade of Afghanistan because some primitive yahoos blew up some statutes.

But I’ll never forget what he said next.

People who commit cultural genocide will mass-murder humans. War is inevitable.

Six months later, the United States invaded Afghanistan after the most devastating attack on American soil in history.

I was right. But so was he.

The Taliban’s cultural genocide was just a prelude to what would come later.
The danger is real that an evil like that in a region like that will reach out and cause us trouble later.  And certainly the argument of "deal with them abroad so we don't have to at home" is compelling.  So is the argument that we have a certain responsibility as a world leader, and as a rich, powerful nation.
But I say no.
In the past, certainly I would have agreed.  To this day I understand why invading Iraq was the right move at the right time - something history will probably prove.  I think invading Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban was the right thing to do.  The fact that later on, treasonous scum undermined our efforts in the west and a presidential successor that is incompetent and hapless in foreign policy has virtually erased all the US gained in those nations doesn't make what we did wrong or bad.
No, the reason I reject any US interference or involvement anywhere in any situation around the world has nothing to do with failure in Iraq or worries about "nation building" that ignorant people throw around*.
My position is quite simple.  When Saddam Hussein was building a gigantic army, committing genocide on his own people, committing ghastly acts of horrific human rights violations, jailing children to control parents, making corrupt deals with the UN to buy forbidden goods, violating the cease fire agreement in 91 dozens of times, and maintaining a stockpile of WMDs he was forbidden to have, the world cried out "why doesn't someone do something??
In fact every time there's a horrific dictator doing evil things to his people and neighbors, the world cries for action, for leadership, and for the US to stand up and take action.  And I agreed, leaders lead.  It should be done.  Justice cries out for punishment. 
So the US took action.  Leading a coalition from every continent on earth save Antarctica, from over 4 dozen nations and following up on several UN resolutions with congressional approval, the United States under President Bush moved in and demolished Saddam Hussein's military forces, obliterated his evil government, and put him on trial for his crimes against humanity and his own people.


And the world... turned on the US.  It called President Bush a warmongering monster.  It declared the action illegal and horrible, called US soldiers baby killing murderers.  The news was full every day with hordes of people protesting and crying for the US to get out of Iraq.  Protesters and politicians called for war crimes trials against the US presidential administration.  To this day, merely supporting the Iraq war in public gets you called names.
The world called for action, and when it got what it wanted, turned on the people who took action and demonized them.
Well enough.  If that's what you think, then you can eat it.  Enjoy the world you wanted.  This is what you get when you reject attempts to do right, bring justice, and help people.  You claim you wanted it to end, but when it ended, you attacked the very people who did it.
So this is what you get.  Enjoy your new world without US "interference" and "imperialism" you pathetic wretches.  No more spending American blood and American dollars to help anyone, anywhere, for any reason, at any time, unless it has direct, tangible, and specific US interest and people.  No more invasions, kinetic actions, air strikes, UN involvement, NATO assistance.  Nothing.
I think the USA should yank its world bases out of nations that treat us with contempt and hatred. Leave only a few scattered bases in strategic locations, and pull all those US dollars and spenders out of the region.  No more contracts, no more soldiers buying goods, no more taxes for land, nothing.  This is what you wanted, its what you get.
I don't want one more young man to bleed or die for ungrateful scum that cannot seem to understand what it takes to bring liberty and safety to the world.  No more, for you.  You had your chance, and you blew it.  You showed contempt and spat on us for doing what you asked.  Why should we do it again?  We spent ourselves into a crater of debt for you, taking nothing from Iraq when we could easily have taken it all.  All we asked for is a little support and you gave us hate.
Never again, no matter how awful things get.  Invade us, and you'll catch sheer hell.  But leave us alone and we'll leave you alone.
Do I care about what is happening?  Yes.  I want things to be better. I pray for peace.  I think individual groups trying to bring help, food, and medical care to these areas are doing well.  Russia seems to think it should handle this stuff now, and good luck to them.  They can spend their money and die there for people that will hate them for it and a world that will spit on them.
*Nation building is when you move into an area to fix it, ala Somalia and Yugoslavia.  Invading a nation to destroy a terrorist supporting, funding, and harboring dictator hostile to America then rebuilding it is completely different.

Monday, September 07, 2015

I AM WOMYN HEAR ME WHIMPER

This little bit stands alone and is worth thinking over, and passing around, I think.

The same people who'd argue that protecting women is demeaning and patronizing then turn around and demand that women be treated specially as if they are particularly weak and helpless.  This kind of thing is simply reprehensible and idiotic - if it were not deliberately corrupt.

They aren't so much interested in helping and protecting women as crushing and controlling men.  This isn't really even about women and being drunk, its about presuming men are always wrong and predators and further that they are targets for any upset girl to destroy if she has any regrets.
Its more of the "women are fragile princesses" stupidity that radical feminism is pushing today and is completely the opposite of what their mothers and grandmothers fought for nearly 50 years go.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

A PROPOSAL

"Americans want Congress to end the lawlessness, but this bill would have us surrender to it"
-Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama)

The United States, like a lot of western nations, is facing a bit of a crisis in terms of immigration. 
Having ignored immigration laws and encouraged people to flood across the border from poorer nations for decades, the US is dealing with the weight of these new people.
These new immigrants have often ended up on welfare, taking advantage of the generosity of the government which every year extends more and more benefits to not only non-citizens, but people who have crossed the border in violation of immigration law. The resulting expense is burying the nation as a whole and many individual states in debt.  With an estimated 11 million (the actual number is likely as much as 20) illegal immigrants in the country the cost has gotten out of control.
Further, while most of these immigrants are good people who work hard, at the very least every single one of them has come to the country by breaking the law, and some break the law a lot. Every few weeks another ghastly murder, rape, or other severe crime takes place by an illegal immigrant, since not everyone who crossed the border is a nice person.
Illegal Immigrants make up about 25% of the prison population in the United States, according to the Government Accounting Office.  At American Thinker, Randall Hoven points out illegals are more criminal than the average US citizen, that they don't commit minor crimes, either:
The Government Accountability Office has data that show otherwise. Here is the leading sentence from a 2011 GAO report (GAO-11-187, Criminal Alien Statistics, March 2011).
“The number of criminal aliens in federal prisons in fiscal year 2010 was about 55,000, and the number of SCAAP criminal alien incarcerations in state prison systems and local jails was about 296,000 in fiscal year 2009 (the most recent data available), and the majority were from Mexico.”
(SCAAP is the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program and in this context means “illegal aliens” – a GAO term meaning “Noncitizens whom ICE verified were [or whom states and local jurisdictions believe to be] illegally in the United States at the time of incarceration”.)
Of course getting hard numbers on illegals in general is difficult since by their legal status makes them unwilling to admit it to anyone who seems remotely official.
It is true, however, that the greatest bulk of illegals in the USA are there to work, build a better life, and make a future in the USA.  While it is true that immigrant families in the US sent over $20,000,000,000 to Mexico alone last year, they also are a positive for the US economy.  Much of the work done is "off the books" in the form of work for cash, which means no taxes paid or contributions to Social Security, for example, but not all of it.
And immigration has always been a delight for America, not a frustration.  There were no indigenous people in the American continents originally, all who live here came from other lands, even back long ago when the first Indio-Asian groups arrived.  They bring new ideas, cultural flavor, food, music, dance, poetry, art, language, and much more to blend into the American melting pot.  While some are slower to assimilate, eventually after a few generations, they become American and the nation as a whole is stronger for it.
THE REASON
However, immigration law as it stands now is frankly terrible.  Tales of how awful, slow, expensive, and ridiculous it is to enter the United States legally make coming into the country illegally seem frankly attractive and logical.  It takes so long and is so expensive that the system clearly is a mess and needs streamlining, which I've written about in the past.
But the biggest problem with immigration in the USA is that the nation has for decades basically ignored its own immigration laws, and over the last decade or so has been even more determined to do so.  Recently, President Obama deliberately flew thousands of families into the country in the name of sanctuary for refugees, and called them children - but of course, their parents, uncles, grandparents, and so on all came along.
So people are talking about walls and boxcars full of families driven out of the country and jailing people and so on.  Deportations, tougher laws, towers and drones patrolling the border, on and on.  But the thing is, simply enforcing the law and cracking down on businesses that hire cheap illegal labor for low pay and no benefits would actually work to pressure immigrants to self deport.  Take away the jobs and the welfare goodies, and people will go on their own.
What about the people who've been here for years and are working in the society, people who are settled in?  I have a suggestion, based on existing law that is long-established in our legal system, to be implemented once all the other things have been done (enforcing law, cracking down on businesses, fixing immigration law, etc).
STATUE OF LIMITATIONS
When you commit any non-capitol crime such as theft, there is a "statute of limitations" or similar concept which cuts off the point at which someone may be held accountable for their crime.  The principle behind this is that after a certain point testimony and evidence is so unreliable or unavailable that a fair trial cannot be held.
So basically: commit most crimes, hold out long enough, and you walk.  This may seem unjust, but it really isn't; ten years after you shoplifted, the store is no longer damaged and nobody's around to question or remember details, anyway.  Its not like in the movies, if you ask someone in real life where they were on January 15th 2005, they are not going to have a clue.
So I propose that we apply this to immigration.  If an illegal immigrant has been in the country for a certain amount of time - ten years, fifteen, whatever seems best - and has not committed any felonies or additional immigration crime and have demonstrable work and status in their community, then they are treated as if they came to the country legally and may then begin to work toward becoming a citizen, from the point at which they are granted legal status.  In other words, as if they have just arrived.
Naturally a lot of details would have to be worked out, such as what crimes would negate the deal (identity crimes like fake ID probably should not, if done in an attempt to live legally and properly in the country) and who is covered, and what consists of status and employment, but this seems a decent approach.  Perhaps requiring basic familiarity and use of English as a language would also be a useful requirement - demonstrating a desire to fit in and be part of the culture rather than taking advantage of it but remaining part of one's former country.
AMNESTY
Yes, I hear you yelling "amnesty" which, technically this could be called.  Except it isn't.  Amnesty is law enforcement blanket agreeing to ignore your crimes.  This is following previously established legal concepts and precedent.  If you've been a productive, useful citizen and are a useful member of your community then you've proved that you are a benefit to the country and are given a new chance.
Its true that previous statements of immigration law changes have included these concepts, but usually they were too broadly written (anyone who has been in the US a certain amount of time) or were to be established first, rather than after - or in the place of - any other changes.
I think of this not as a compromise, but as a useful addition to law to change the way immigration is treated in the country.  Not as something given up in exchange for something we want, but something that is a logical and proper feature of the law.
THE RESULT
A result of this would be not very significant in terms of encouraging people to come to the country illegally.  If you have to dodge tougher immigration enforcement, have a harder time finding a job, get no welfare or driver's license, and have to stay in the country for a decade or more to qualify, that's not a very attractive concept.  But it is estimated that if all illegals paid taxes, they would increase tax revenues by as much as 77%.  Now, only a fraction of illegals would qualify - certainly fewer than a third - but that's still a noteworthy benefit to the country.
Further, it would allow neighbors, friends, and even family who live here in uncertain status to become full members of society rather than at its fringes or in the shadows of the law.  And that is a benefit to communities across the nation.
I know this concept is pretty controversial but I think it would be a good idea that would make a big difference to the nation and allow the culture to move forward positively from this era of foolishly unrestrained immigration.  But I'm sure you have a lot of tomatoes to throw.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

THE CONSEQUENCES

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive."
-C.S. Lewis

Much is made of unintended consequences in politics and law.  When bills to provide public assistance to the poor are passed, they don't intend to create a dependency upon the government, and few  of its supporters have a desire to damage the family unit, but that's what takes place over time.
But there's another class of poor decisionmaking that was recently illustrated by a federal court decision.  Forty years ago or so, federal courts ruled that southern schools were compelled to desegregate, so that there was a racial mix in each school rather than a single homogenous ethnic body of students in each.  
In doing so, they established a precedent; that courts could order students to given specific schools regardless of the desire of parents, schools, or students.  The principle was considered such a public value and so important that these peoples' desires and needs were overruled.  Their freedom of choice and care of their children was trumped by the government's idea of public good.
At the time, this seemed like a good idea, since black schools were being grossly underfunded and treated like trash in some areas, while black students were banned from schools even in their own district, forced to travel miles out of their way just to get an education.  The government was just trying to help those kids out and fight against institutionalized racism.  Their intentions were noble, but their efforts were at best questionable in terms of the US Constitution.
TRANSFERS
So now a federal court has ruled that parents may be prohibited from transferring their kids to a different school.  Why?  Because this previous ruling establishes that these parents have no constitutional right to choose where their kids go to school.
“[There] is no relevant precedent [to] support the proposition that ‘a parent’s ability to choose where his or her child is educated within the public school system is a fundamental right or liberty,'” says the majority ruling, written by Judge Lavenski Smith, a George W. Bush appointee.
Now, the Arkansas legislature has since changed laws and parents are free to move kids if they want to, but this ruling is consistent with previous, established law.
If the federal government can compel parents to put kids into certain schools and prohibit them from moving their kid to another based on anti-discrimination policy, then that still applies now.  It means that the government has decided parents have no right to choose where their kids attend school.  Not just in that district, but anywhere.  Because this ruling was not specific to this district or state, it was a general statement that there's no support for the idea that choosing where your kids get an education is a fundamental right.
CONSEQUENCES
Now, consider that a few moments.  What does this mean in general?  Courts usually try to be cautious about making major, broad statements about society at large, trying to be specific to a given case.  But this ruling just said that parents may not choose to keep their kids at home to school them, either if the state decides that is wrong.  And it says that the state can deny your ability to put your kids into private schools or religious schools, if the state decides that this is wrong.
If there is no "fundamental right or liberty" for parents to "choose where his or her child is educated within the public school system" then that easily and comfortably extends to education in general.  This ruling does not require anything.  It simply says that parents have no power or choice to resist laws passed by the government when it comes to where their kids study.
So if the state or local government passes a law that says you cannot send your kids to a private school... this ruling says the parents have no constitutional right to disagree.  They must comply, without possible recourse to courts based on the constitution, that's what this case claims.
FREEDOMS
One of the tough things to deal with and handle in a system like the US Constitution establishes and intends is that people are free to do lousy things.  People are free under the 1st amendment to say nasty things.  They're free under the 2nd amendment to own scary guns.  The purpose of the constitution is to preserve the greatest amount of liberty and to restrict the federal government as much as possible, which means people are able to do things that we might not like.
For example, I might not care for a Satanist teaching kids in school, but that Satanist is free to believe and say what he wants, as long as it does not seriously damage another right.  I might not want a mosque in my neighborhood, but the constitution guarantees the freedom of that building to be completed and Muslims to worship there.  And I might not like a business turning down people shopping there because they are native American, but the US constitution says that they can do just that.
In essence, people are free to be stupid jerks, because to be any less would be to surrender too much liberty to the government, to the detriment of all.  Saying you can't build a mosque means someone can say you can't build a synagogue or an atheist study center.  Saying you can't deny service to one group means you can't deny service to any group, even if they have no shoes or shirts.  We're all free... or none of us are.
The desire to restrict liberties the constitution protects because things aren't going the way we want or something seems mean or bad to us inevitably, incrementally, leads to greater and greater government power, while at the same time fewer and fewer liberties for the citizens of a nation.
Each time the court rules in this manner, it strips away freedom from citizens and takes their power away.  And each time it takes away power which, under the US Constitution, belongs solely to the people of the United States and gives it to the government.  This transfer of power - for good intentions - has been going on for more than 200 years, in little steps at a time.
And with the courts, each step has been based on a previous step, with almost no steps back.  Each time a court rules transferring power to the state, that is the basis for the next transfer of power.  And it accelerates over time as the weight of precedent builds and the comfort level of the public adjusts to the loss of freedom.  What was unthinkable ten years ago seems inevitable today.
THE TRAJECTORY
And so we reach the point at which I've given up the idea of ever getting back to the constitution today.  In fact, I've come to the realization that there's no point in appealing to the document as any kind of governing and restraining document because the government and people have simply abandoned it except as a fetish.
Recent supreme court decisions have simply negated the constitution entirely, building on decades of ignoring and twisting the document, inventing things not in it until its simply trash.  And all of this happened because of well-meaning tiny little steps, any one of which the founding fathers would have been enraged at, but we sigh and shrug at today.
There is no rational basis for thinking that any government will reverse this.  It simply is without precedent in human nature and history for a politician to voluntarily surrender their own power or a government to weaken its self.  There is only one direction, one trend: toward tyranny.
The founders knew this.  They did their best to lock in our freedom and protect this inevitable tendency of the state.  It was so well done that the nation lasted more than a century with great, widespread liberties.  That era is over, and only one future lies before us, barring some act of God.
The only question is what lies beyond that point, and how we get through it.