Stop and think,  collected — 2016

Note. Because of changes in the archive pages, over time, you may find that some of the links you hit to other "Stop and think" installments actually lead nowhere. If you encounter frustration with a particular link, please feel free to hold my feet to the fire. — Nicholas Strakon

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Reader responses

Free to vote. Seven Electors from the College cast their votes in ways that did not reflect the outcome of the November 8 election in their states.

Not only did their votes not change the outcome of the election, but given the persons for whom they voted (none of whom were on the ballots in any states), they could not change it.

So why did they cast their votes as they did? No doubt there are many reasons and they differ from Elector to Elector, but this much must be common to each of them: The particular vote they cast could make no difference to the outcome.

In a sense, they voted as they did, because they understood that the particular vote they cast DID NOT MATTER.

When I have argued against participating in electoral politics, it has not been on the basis of the uselessness of voting, though that has always been a kind of secondary reason. It is interesting now to see that Electors — people the sole purpose of whose positions is to vote — have said, "I am free to vote as I please, because my vote doesn't matter." [Ronn Neff] (December 2016)

"... [N]or all thy Piety nor Wit / Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line." I was put in mind of Fitzgerald's translation of Omar Khayyam by a Washington Post account of a recent decree by the Holy Imam of Unicorns. (Soon to depart! Praise be to Allah!) In "President Obama bans oil drilling in large areas of Atlantic and Arctic oceans," Darryl Fears and Juliet Eilperin write:

White House officials described their actions to make the areas off limits to future oil and gas exploration and drilling as indefinite. Officials said the withdrawals under Section 12-A of the 1953 act used by presidents dating to Dwight Eisenhower cannot be undone by an incoming president. It is not clear if a Republican-controlled Congress can rescind Obama's action.
Excuse me, but what the frack?! How about a constitutional amendment? Would that do the trick?

Oh — wait! — maybe this is all it would take: repealing or amending the 1953 act. Or is the act, too, graven into the stone of the space-time continuum, and beyond the reach of present and future Congresses?

Note that the writers aren't talking about the ins and out of politics here, thanks to which countless enormities of leviathan become practically immortal. No, they're talking about a law — actually, a decree based on a law — that some seem to think cannot legally be undone or rescinded.

Such statist foolishness. The most absurd aspect is that this drilling ban isn't even real law. It's fake law. It's a malum prohibitum dreamed up by politicians to control property they don't own.

But paper, even government paper, burns at Fahrenheit 451.

Real law is eternal — or to put it more precisely, it will exist as long as Man exists. The jumped-up thugs of the state can't burn it. They can't even singe it, not with all of their hellish weapons of mass destruction. [Nicholas Strakon] (December 2016)

Meanwhile, Lucy's pumping up that ball for next time. The Electoral College has met and the Electors have cast their votes.

The general election of November 8 gave Donald Trump 306 Electoral votes; Hillary Clinton 232. The Left's fantasy that at least 37 Electors could be prevailed upon to bolt and give their votes (and thus the election) to Clinton has come to an end.

But that's not the way the actual Electors voted. One of the Republicans of Texas cast his vote for Ron Paul (giving that worthy more electoral votes than he got any of the times he actually ran for president); and another one gave his to John Kasich.

Clinton, who was to be the beneficiary of the shenanigans, fared worse: five of her Electors bolted, four of them from Washington. Three of the Washington Electors voted for Colin Powell, one for Faith Spotted Eagle, an anti-pipeline "activist." One of Hawaii's Electors voted for Bernie Sanders.

Supporters of the Libertarian Party, let that sink in.

Three people who weren't even running for president got more Electoral votes than the LP candidate and the Green Party candidate — combined.

Three people who hadn't spent a dime did better than the two candidates whose only hope of having an effect on the outcome was to deny the electoral majority to the major candidates.

Three people who participated in no debates, bought no TV time, littered no front yards or automobile bumpers, committed no gaffes on talking-head shows or in interviews have been handed the footnotes in the World Almanac that Gary Johnson and Jill Stein coveted enough to use months of their lives to obtain — months they will never get back.

The Electoral vote John Hospers obtained in 1972 remains the only electoral vote the Libertarian Party has garnered in 12 presidential elections.

To vary the old Verizon tag line, "Can you hear me yet?" [Ronn Neff] (December 2016)

Oh, one more thing about what Hamilton wrote ... In an earlier observation posted two days ago (see next item), I alluded to the Hive's quoting Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist as part of their attempt to overthrow the result of the presidential election.

The history lesson comes to us in a video propaganda spot featuring various Hollywooders and aimed at the Republican Electors. First up is former President Martin Sheen, who says, "As you know, our founding fathers built the Electoral College to safeguard the American people from the dangers of a demagogue and to ensure that the presidency only goes to someone who is 'to an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.'"

Another celeb, youngish female type, comes on next to repeat in a dreamy voice, "'An eminent degree.' Someone who is highly qualified for the job." (Not everyone's an egghead who can dope out what "eminent degree" means, you know.)

Here's the full sentence from Federalist No. 68, "The Mode of Electing the President":

The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.
Later, some black lady appears and expresses her hope "that you, you [Electors] will make yourselves heard through the constitutional responsibility granted to you by Alexander Hamilton himself." It is she who first identifies Hamilton as the author of the words quoted.

Hamilton Himself! The Great Grantor of Responsibilities! The same titan who's the subject of a hit hip-hop musical with a deeply "diverse" cast! Well, I don't want to get hung up on this part, but wasn't it the several states that (alas) actually ratified the Constitution? Maybe the whole thing was even more of a coup d'etat than we anti-statist malcontents had ever suspected.

Hamilton may have been sincere in what he wrote — I suppose even Stalin was sincere from time to time — but the main point is, The whole thing is screamingly utopian! If the ghost of Hamilton were hovering over American history, I suppose he would celebrate the growth and expense and power of the Central Leviathan that he did so much to create, but surely he would have to blush, assuming specters can blush, seeing how well his "eminent degree" fantasy turned out. [Nicholas Strakon]

Modine Herbey wonders. Do President Sheen and his staff now think that George W. Bush was eminently qualified for the presidency in Hamilton's sense of the term? How about the chap who we think was one of the least damaging presidents but who is derided by everyone else, Warren G. Harding? Psssh. (December 2016)

Political fiction. Modern Democrats normally display even more contempt for the Constitution than modern Republicans, so it's been a scream to see the former group don periwigs, pop on Ben Franklin-style specs, and pore over dusty passages of the Founding Document as well as anti-democrat Alexander Hamilton's equally dusty contributions to The Federalist. As you know, it's all in an attempt to overthrow some election results the Dems don't care for.

All guffaws aside, if this were 1969 — that is, when I was still a constitutionalist — I'd probably endorse the Left's late-breaking strict construction, while remaining alive to the bad faith poisoning it. That is to say, Electors were intended to be sovereign in choosing a president. (As an historical aside that both democrats and Democrats may find interesting, I note that in the first presidential election, state legislatures chose Electors in five states. By 1800, eleven states were letting their legislatures make the pick. South Carolina persisted with that system through the 1860 election.)

Now, from the start, those Electors were surely expected to take instruction from whoever chose them. The Electors would have been members of the same political tendency to begin with. But the Electoral College continued to have some life in it — potential life, at least — until the modern two-party system solidified, or calcified. Matters then became more ... well, fictional, if you will. The occasional cropping up of "faithless" Electors started to operate as a severe shock to the sensibilities. Faithlessness was Defiance of the People's Will! It moved into the same universe of badness as treason. Some states have even passed laws aimed at punishing the "faithless," though no such Elector has yet been punished. Michigan and Minnesota even claim the power to void the votes of such Electors.

Any such voiding would no doubt pique the interest of the Supreme Court, which has continued to uphold Electors' sovereignty. We begin to see some contradiction in the system. The Higher Law, as defined by the Court, supports sovereignty; but the impetus of partisan politics as it's actually practiced pushes against it, and hard.

Speaking of periwigs, I am reminded of all that nice business, across the pond, of "Her Majesty's Government." Monarchy and democracy are flatly incompatible, but the Brits do their best to have both, by promoting the fiction of a monarch as "head of state" instead of "head of government," and even requiring the prime minister to "consult" with her. Yet she is expected to stay the hell out of the actual running of government lest her intervention provoke a "constitutional crisis" — that is, lest it lay bare the basic contradiction at the heart of the British system. The prime minister and his people have long written the Queen's speeches. And now they even appoint the members of the House of Lords! — meaning that the UK, in effect, has a unicameral legislature.

I'll be told that the Brits "make it work," and have done so since Victoria's time. That's fine. But it counts as yet another example of political fiction. In his classic essay, "Cognitive vanity," Ronn Neff reminds us that "deceit is the basis of all politics." That goes in spades for the result of politics — government.

Governments can't exist without promoting fiction. Old-time monarchies developed their fictions by draping the original bloody banditti in purple robes, surrounding them with colorful banners, and dreaming up mythologies about their connections with God or the land or the people. Then came Duh-MOCK-risy. The biggest and most dangerous fiction we have to contend with here in America today is: "We are the government." [Nicholas Strakon] (December 2016)

Ralph Raico (1936-2016). On Wednesday we received the sad news that our old friend, Ralph Raico, the eminent libertarian historian, had died. He was 80.

I met Ralph at an American Renaissance conference in the latter half of the 1990s, but he had already encountered the print version of The Last Ditch by that time, and we had fallen into an occasional correspondence — one that I enjoyed immensely. (I cannot speak for Ralph!) Over the next few years I had the chance to break bread with him several times. He was famously good-humored, but his humor turned wickedly mordant when he went to work on the world's rulers.

Ralph is the author of Great Wars and Great Leaders: A Libertarian Rebuttal (Mises Institute, 2010). References to the book that I saw usually omitted the latter part of the title, and I always wondered how many victims of court history had strayed into the work thinking it would be the usual rah-rah celebration of strongmen and their wars. I hope there were some.

For those who haven't yet had the pleasure, I highly recommend Ralph's lecture series History: The Struggle for Liberty (Mises Institute, 2004).

James Bovard offers a brief look at Ralph's life and work in "Ralph Raico, R.I.P. — Scholar & Champion of Freedom." He links to appreciations by Sheldon Richman and David Gordon. [Nicholas Strakon] (December 2016)

"Literally without thinking." David T. Wright recently informed the TLD gang: "The Trump victory continues to claim more victims, as traumatized women rush to send a message, by ... getting their hair cut?" He sent along a link to this article in The Cut: "The Post-Trump Haircut," by Heidi Mitchell, December 5, 2016.

One woman is quoted as saying: "Literally without thinking, I grabbed the Natural Black box by Garnier.... I was like, f** [sic] it! The election deadened my soul. I think I wanted to do something defiant to feel stronger."

Mitchell writes: "[T]hey are collectively — however subconsciously — making their own statements of rebellion by challenging traditional notions of beauty."

Note how they did it "collectively," not as empowered, individual women. Also, they apparently didn't think: it was some sort of subconscious herd instinct.

Meanwhile, the Traditional Notion of Beauty was quoted as saying, "Challenge accepted."

It seems that "rebelling against the standard of beauty" means that "empowered" women are, in fact, trying to look more like men. That is concurrent with an increase in the number of emasc ... er, "empowered" men bravely challenging the traditional understanding of being "handsome" by trying to look pretty. [Jayne Cobb] (December 2016)

God save the Tsar! There — maybe TLD can now finally break through the impenetrable wall of obscurity that has bedeviled us for 22 years. After all, we've got all those leftists out there now, suddenly finding Russians under every bed. Well, we've got beds! What are our beds, chopped liver? [The suspiciously named Nicholas Strakon] (December 2016)

Recommended reading: "Record Traffic for Our 'Fake News' Russian Propaganda Website!" by Ron Unz, The Unz Review, December 1, 2016. Steve Sniegoski and The Ditch come in for a mention, though, alas, we are not identified as Russian agents.

Off-site alert! Jared Taylor's American Renaissance has posted a review by Ronn Neff, senior editor of The Last Ditch, of Keith Preston's The Tyranny of the Politically Correct: Totalitarianism in the Postmodern Age, a collection of essays.

Preston is a left-wing anarchist, but according to the title of Mr. Neff's review, he is "An Anarchist We Can Work With."

Mr. Neff writes: "I have been a free-market anarchist my entire adult life, and in all that time I have never met a left-wing anarchist whom I could trust not to start making excuses for state coercion at some point."

Preston, Mr. Neff goes on to observe, "seems to be that startling exception: a leftist anarchist who really has no use for the state or for left-wing hooliganism."

A rara avis indeed!

As is our esteemed senior editor: a writer of rare discernment and intellect. [Nicholas Strakon] (November 2016)

Anti-capitalist Minute. This year is Indiana's bicentennial as a state, and the History Authorities have come up with a series called "Bicentennial Minute," narrated by Jane Pauley. The "Minutes" air during local-affiliate newscasts. Today's "Minute" was about Gary, founded by U.S. Steel as the site of its new mill in 1906.

Most of the "Minute" had to do with Michael Jackson, of course, but Pauley also chirped this assertion: "Immigrants from Eastern Europe came for gruuuueling and low-paying jobs."

I imagine a conversation somewhere in Eastern Europe, circa 1907.

Stepan: Check it out, bro. The Slavograd Bugle says that U.S. Steel has created lots of gruuuueling and low-paying jobs in the new town of Gary, Indiana.

Wladislaw: Awesome! Gruuuueling and low-paying! What more do you need to know, dude? Let's scrape together enough zlotys to pay our passage, say farewell to the old folks — we'll probably never see them again — and emigrate to a country of whose ways and language we know nothing!

What with the completion of the comrades' Long March here on these shores, I guess you can count on this kind of demotic history to lack all perspective but still be packed with left-wing premises. [Nicholas Strakon] (November 2016)

Recommended reading: Capitalism and the Historians,
ed. Friedrich A. Hayek.

Don't forget. The same people guaranteeing Hillary's victory at the polls swear Global Warming is real. [Tony Pivetta] (November 2016)

"Snowflake." I have only recently learned the term "snowflake" as it applies to the current generation of university students, and I confess I just don't understand the choice of that word. Sure, the eponymic ice crystals are delicate, subject to being easily destroyed. But isn't each one of them supposed to be unique? "No two are alike." But university snowflakes are all the same. There's nothing unique about them at all. No diversity anywhere. Get to know one, and you've met them all. And yes, that's a prejudiced generalization.

Guess what a snowflake will say about it. Anything no other snowflake has never said? [Ronn Neff] (November 2016)

Off-site alert! The Unz Review has posted a major review by Steve Sniegoski of Alison Weir's Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel. Congrats, Steve! [Nicholas Strakon] (November 2016)

No serious threat to our system of government (apologies to Joe Sobran). Well, that didn't take long: "Trump and advisers hedge on major pledges, including Obamacare and the wall," by Jose A. DelReal, Washington Post, November 11.

Last night, on a site previously unknown to me, I saw a claim that Trump had backed away from his pledge to repeal Obamacare, and I actually checked the site out, thinking it might be one of those fake-news outfits. But no. Not that I expect Trump or any collection of pols (i.e., the brave Republican Congress) to actually repeal it, but I was naive enough to think that Trump might try.

This bit from the Post story reveals the most about Trump's empty, chaotic mind, and the ease with which he can be manipulated by whatever hissing reptiles manage to slither up around him:

Trump said he came to the conclusion [about Obamacare] after Obama, during Trump's Oval Office visit Thursday, suggested areas of the law that should be preserved....
That would be a jaw-dropper if we understood nothing about Trump's feckless habits of thought.

According to the story, the president-elect also seems to be weakening on his promises about a Great Wall (thank God) and prohibitive tariffs (ditto), the latter of which are now represented as just a misunderstanding. Maybe we won't end up paying $2,000 for our iPads after all.

We're hearing about Rudy Giuliani becoming attorney general, and that's no surprise. He'd be a good fit with Trump's unvarnished authoritarianism, which seems to be one of the few things that's genuine about The Donald.* But on the manipulation-by-hissing-reptiles front, the neocons are already curling their scales around him. In fact, John Bolton — JOHN BOLTON! — may have the inside track for secretary of state.

That's less remarkable, I suppose, than the Obama Mind-Meld mentioned in the Post article. It was always rash to repose much hope in Trump the anti-interventionist, in view of his ability — actually surpassing that of most pols — to entertain enormous contradictions in his cranium. The only possible wager was that he'd be somewhat less dangerous than the Hell Witch, at least outside the Middle East. And he may not drag Americans into a war with Russia (though Bolton might have something to say about that), but still, look: During the campaign Trump described himself as "the most militaristic person there is," promised the military-industrial complex a gravy train if he were elected, and pledged also to tear up the nuke deal with Iran. Moreover, he proudly advertises his Israel patriotism. Doesn't sound like a Taft Republican to me.

One may object that, Trump being Trump, he may drift away from those things, too. A fair point. However, here's my rule of thumb when it comes to these lying pols: Skepticism is the default setting, but when they promise to do evil, it is only prudent to believe the blackguards mean what they say. [Nicholas Strakon] (November 2016)

* The Obamunists' authoritarianism is somewhat varnished, largely thanks to Minitrue's Department of Lacquering.

Killer rabbits. As you've seen, Trump's victory has sent the softer SJWs — those who aren't up to personally tossing Molotov cocktails, I mean — bouncing their little cotton-tails off to their safe rooms and pillows and Play-Doh, weeping all the way. Their latest outburst of infantilism and — I have to use a word I don't like — sheer wussiness is revolting in itself, but it's also mighty peculiar if you think about it.

I have in mind a certain contradiction. These wimpy wobbly fraidy cats all favor, and work indefatigably to impose, an ideological system that would point guns at peaceful people all the time in order to enforce its will. True, any state system you might choose points a lot of guns at a lot of peaceful people — but none more than leftist totalitarianism. And none more ruthlessly.

Can there be any doubt what these lily-livered SJWs would have their hard men do if they attained absolute state power? Any doubt that we'd be gulaged and that a good proportion of us would receive humane, compassionate back-of-the-neck bullet therapy? The SJWs may moan with disgust about hard men with guns now, but we may expect a different kind of moaning when the hard men fall under their full command.

Quite a contrast, there, between style and substance. Though I must admit that, when they're not crying, these rabbits do an awful lot of hateful screaming. [Nicholas Strakon]

Modine Herbey comments: For the killer rabbits, speech they don't like amounts to a wicked initiation of force, and initiation of force for ends they favor is an indisputable virtue. That's what a century of intellectual domination by the Left will get you. (November 2016)

Maybe the monkeys need teddy bears. The sobbing. You've got to love all the sobbing.

Were the original flying monkeys so lachrymose, after the melting? [Nicholas Strakon] (November 2016)

Yeeee HAH! One of my colleagues has a nephew at university in Madison. The kid said that people were wandering around the campus on The Day After crying. In anatomy class, the dissections didn't go very well because the professor spent the period curled up in a corner weeping.

I say it's time to take advantage of this!

Put on the nastiest, most ill-fitting hick clothes you have, and garnish them with a Trump button. Wear a greasy Caterpillar or Kenworth cap. Black out one of your front teeth. Carry a large stick, or even better, a firearm. Then go out and scare the shinola out of hipsters and progressives.

Fix the trembly friendoes with a level stare and growl menacingly. Or sneak up on them and shout "Boo! Hoohoohoohahahaha! Woogawooga!"

Drive around liberal neighborhoods shrieking rebel yells and honking your horn in a rusted-out pickup festooned with signs that say "It's time to leave, a**holes!" Go to your nearest Panera or Starbucks and yell "It's a new day and we're comin' fer ya!" You get the idea. Use your imagination.

With a bit of luck we can make them max out their health-care savings accounts on trips to the emergency room, therapy visits, and rehab. It's worth a shot! [Davy Tee Wright]

Yew know, some a them city libruls got a purty mouth. [Nickluss "Backwoods" Strackawn] (November 2016)

Self-inflicted. So much breast-beating over how wrong the polls were! What went wrong?

Why do the media keep asking that question? It's obvious what went wrong.

John Podesta sent out e-mail explaining how proper oversampling for polls could distort them to get the results the Clinton campaign wanted.

Those e-mailed messages can be read here.

These e-mailed messages are also useful for understanding how the media brought this error on themselves:

The distortion of news and polls does not begin with the Clinton Crime Family, of course. Edith Efron from the Right (The News Twisters, 1971; How CBS Tried to Kill a Book, 1972) and Noam Chomsky from the Left (Manufacturing Consent, 2002) warned us, and therefore indirectly warned the media that their days were numbered.

I offer the following revolutionary advice to get accurate polling information in the future:

Collect (not "manufacture") information; report it.

What a concept! [Ronn Neff] (November 2016)

Strange new neo-Confederates. Get a load: "Silicon Valley investors call for California to secede from the US after Trump win," by Olivia Solon, The Guardian, November 9, 2016.

Don't let the door hit your heinie on your way out!

I knew those pecksniffs were good for something.

But left-wing secessionists! Does this mean they want to bring back slavery? Interestingly, the answer is yes! [David T. Wright] (November 2016)

Related viewing: "Neeeo-Confederaaate ..."

Shut up! Shut uuup! Maricopa County, Ariz., voters rejected Sheriff Joe Arpaio's most recent bid for re-election. Here's the New York Times, November 11, 2016:

Who knows what Sheriff Arpaio will do next? He should certainly be disqualified for any job in the next administration, especially if it involves immigration. If there is a list of nightmare scenarios somewhere, Joe Arpaio as homeland security chief would certainly be in the Top 100.
One ought to be careful in giving advice to The Donald. [Edward Morrison Morley] (November 2016)

A hollow ring. At his victory celebration early Wednesday morning, Donald Trump said: "Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very sincerely."

Most folks seemed to think that was great. Very reassuring: maybe Trump isn't such an animal after all. Let the healing begin, and so forth.

But it reminded me of the falseness inherent in all democratic politics. Politics vitiates every virtue that strays close to it, including graciousness.

Such manure wouldn't work if it occurred to people to ask: Is he lying about his beliefs now, or was he lying then? [Nicholas Strakon] (November 2016)

The Fiendish Plot foiled ... for now ... As the winner took his victory laps, I turned again to view the smoking ruins of her campaign headquarters and heard her disembodied voice saying:

"The world shall hear from me again." [Ronn Neff] (November 2016)

To help you vote ... Your vote is important, so we at The Last Ditch are always ready to help you make up your mind.

You can think of Donald Trump as the Titanic (luxury liner) and you can think of Hillary Clinton (you know, with all the contraband) as the Lusitania.

With that in mind ... pick your vessel.

And for you guys who want to vote for Gary Johnson ... you can think of him as the Costa Concordia.

I don't have a boat for Jill Stein voters. Maybe they should just think of Jimi Heselden and his Segway.

The important thing is to pick a ship and go down with it. [Ronn Neff] (November 2016)

Feeling for the news. Over the past decades I have noticed that a few attacks have been developed that are difficult if not impossible to counter.

"You're so immature" is one. What is the other person supposed to say? "I am mature"? The answer makes one sound immature. Then there's the one used by airline personnel when a passenger has a legitimate complaint: "Please calm down." What can the passenger possibly say? "I am calm." Hard to say that and sound calm.

Fox's Megyn Kelly recently came up with this one after "interviewing" Newt Gingrich: "We're going to leave it at that, and you can take your anger issues and spend some time working on them."

Notice that she fired that off after Gingrich had lost any opportunity to reply in substance, and from the complete safety of her network's control of the microphones. Notice also that it suggests that she bore no responsibility for the ugly turn the discussion had taken. A friend of mine has remarked that women take everything personally. Maybe he's right.

But what I really want to point out here is how "the news" has changed. Some of us can still remember Douglas Edwards reading the news dispassionately to us. Even Walter Cronkite, CIA whore that he was, and David Brinkley were able to present the news as though they were being objective.

All that is gone now. Media celebrities are clearly partisans; they do not give us the news. With their frowns and head and eyebrow movements, to say nothing of their choice of stories and tailored words as well as their transparent opinionating, they tell us not how we should think about the news but how we should feel about the news.

It would be an interesting study if someone could work out to what extent the presence of women in the celebrity levels of the media has brought this change about. [Ronn Neff] (October 2016)

And they did it all without hacking any e-mail. We've been hearing a lot lately about how horrible it is that a foreign government is meddling in an American election. Of course, none of the candidates seems to mind that the U.S. government (and its allied "non-governmental" organizations) meddle in other people's elections all the time — most recently, I think, in Ukraine, where they managed to start a war. But for this country, it wouldn't hurt anyone to have a look at the election of 1940, when British intelligence manipulated U.S. politics to make sure no anti-war candidates were running against Franklin Roosevelt. [Ronn Neff] (October 2016)

Related reading: "The conquest of the United States by Britain ...
with a little help from her friends,"
by Stephen J. Sniegoski.

And now please rise ... I think that in the future, "presidential" debates should be preceded by a celebrity's singing of the National Anthem. That would help us all understand what is really going on. [Ronn Neff] (October 2016)

Guest suggestion from Miss Sally Druthers, our special friend: The debates are so exciting and so informative, there should be a few more after the election. That way, we would know what the candidates really think; they wouldn't just be saying stuff to get elected, because they'd already be elected. I don't know whether we should allow for vote changing, but it would fit in with my earlier suggestion about allowing post-election voting. (October 2016)

Motes, beams, and babes. The media are wallowing in make-believe shock and revulsion over remarks made by Donald Trump about what a man can get away with when talking to hot women with celebrity aspirations. Their hidden delight should be placed alongside their turning a blind eye to Bill Clinton's rapes and actual assaults.

The way they are all fluttering, as though we should all be racing around looking for the smelling salts, you'd think none of the men had ever said or thought anything similar about women they worked with or just saw, and none of the women had ever talked that way about young guys' butts.

As we have seen from the Left before, words mean a lot more than actions. Trump was only talking, perhaps fantasizing; Bill Clinton for certain molested women, and almost certainly raped some.

Rudy Giuliani told us that Donald Trump is a changed man, that in the intervening 11 years he has learned a lot and he has apologized for those remarks (which, by the way, is more than can be said for Bill Clinton).

Well, it's been almost 16 years since Mr. Clinton left office. Have the media learned anything? Have they apologized for their protection of Bill Clinton?

Which is worse? That Donald Trump likes to make passes at ambitious young women? or that the media give passes to ambitious older women? [Ronn Neff] (October 2016)

The bark of Kaine. It was pretty clear to me that in the vice-presidential debate last night, Tim Kaine did not want Mike Pence to speak or be heard.

If he and his running mate win the election, do you think they will let you speak or be heard? [Ronn Neff] (October 2016)

How about a minor breakout? There are people who believe that Donald Trump cannot win the election. Many of them do not want Hillary Clinton to win. I want to ask those people: I know I can't convince anyone not to vote, but I wonder ... this year, can you bring yourself to break out of the two-party system?

There are at least five other candidates who are either on the ballot or who can be written in, in more than 40 states. In most years the argument has been that you should not vote for them because you'd just be "throwing your vote away." Well, this year, if you think Trump cannot win, but you vote for him anyway, aren't you throwing your vote away?

So why not vote for someone else? Do a little research. Find out who they are. And if you like one, go ahead and vote for him (or her). After all, none of them can win either.

Once you get used to the idea of not voting for a major-party candidate, we can revisit the question of voting at all. [Ronn Neff] (October 2016)

The meme pictured here, sponsored by an outfit called Mixed Nation, showed up in my Facebook feed last night — not because it was posted by one of my "Friends" (whom I would have unfollowed immediately) but because one of them commented on it.

I have some observations of my own.

1) Note that the meme shows us the form of black-white miscegenation that is usually portrayed by Minitrue, including its entertainment division, but is not usually practiced by miscegenators.

2) Note the odd, primitivist, repulsive portrayal of the Negress, showing her pregnant belly over ragged, undone pants. That is the aesthetic these people chose to help sell their message.

3) Finally, note whom the kid is looking up to: the parent who more nearly resembles him. That is the most honest and realistic part of the meme.

I took a gander at the website, which seems to be intended for people of mixed race. Such folk deserve some sympathy, I think. But I wish the activists running the site would can their recruitment efforts and just leave us the hell alone. Demoralized white folk already have enough difficulty, preserving the civilization their ancestors built. [Nicholas Strakon] (September 2016)

Après le scandale of Sunday [September 11], the Times was authorized to report: "Asked whether she was concerned that such questions about her health would affect the election, as the polls have tightened, Mrs. Clinton told reporters on her campaign plane last week: 'I'm not concerned about the conspiracy theories. There are so many of them, I've lost track of them.'"

Isn't that one of the signs of dementia or Alzheimer's? I can't remember for sure. [Edward Morrison Morley]

Ronn Neff comments. I wonder whether she's lost track of the one she invented ...

... the vast right-wing conspiracy about Monica Lewinsky.

Nicholas Strakon comments. Judging from her testimony and other public statements, I'm not so sure she remembers much about being secretary of state, either. (September 2016)

Franz Kafka, call your office. With whom was Oceania at war? Winston Smith knew.

With whom is the United States at war?

That's classified. (But if it was on Mrs. Clinton's server, maybe we can find out.)

Have a listen: "60 Words" (Radiolab, season 12, episode 7, especially 30:40–38:15).

[Ronn Neff] (September 2016)

Will its remains be found in Fort Marcy Park? From the Onion: "Pneumonia Virus Terrified after Remembering What Clintons Capable of." (September 2016)

For benefit of our younger readers, here's what
Wikipedia has to say about a certain event in 1993.

It's a well-known secret code! At the Forward, Lilly Maier asks: "Is Donald Trump's Endorsement by 88 Retired Generals a Secret Neo-Nazi Code?" She writes, most non-satirically:

In a move to boost his national security credibility, Donald Trump released an endorsement letter signed by 88 retired military figures.

Now some are questioning if there is a hidden anti-Semitic message behind the statement — since the number 88 is a well-known code for "Heil Hitler."

For benefit of the naïfs among us, I must explain that "H" is the eighth letter in the alphabet, so "88" obviously means "HH," which in turn means "Heil Hitler."

Miss Maier goes on to remind us:

While the number of military officials who signed the letter may be a coincidence, Donald Trump has previously used anti-Semitic symbols in a number of instances.

In July, the Republican frontrunner tweeted a picture of Hillary Clinton with the slogan "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever" written over a Star of David. And just last month, Trump used a graphic that originated on an anti-Semitic site and was shared by white supremacist David Duke.

Is the "88" a coincidence? No! Preposterous! It's yet another Nazi dog-whistle by would-be Führer Trump!

Speaking of dog-whistles, I remind you that Adolf Hitler loved dogs.

If that's not enough, here are some other Ominous Parallels: Hitler did not drink alcohol. Trump does not drink alcohol.

Hitler did not smoke. Trump does not smoke.

Hitler had the interesting Dr. Morell standing by to ensure his health; Trump has the interesting Dr. Bornstein standing by to reassure everyone that Trump would be the healthiest person ever elected president.

Hitler had by his side the fetching Eva, who was 23 years younger than he; Trump has the fetching Melania, who is 24 years younger than he.

And neither woman was an American!

Both Hitler and Trump were very much concerned with Russia. Hitler wanted to take it over; Trump wants to turn his country over to it.

Finally, Hitler rounded up Jews; Trump surrounds himself with them.

What more do you need to know? The Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal must be reconvened! (No, no, not for Hillary! The very idea! What are you, some kind of Nazi?) [Henry Gallagher Fields] (September 2016)

We must spare no expense to keep her cool and comfy. Despite the mild weather in New York today, Hillary Clinton became overheated, collapsed, and lost a shoe at the 9/11 commemoration ceremony.

If she's elected president, the Central Government may have to move its capital from Washington, D.C., to Seattle, Washington. [Henry Gallagher Fields] (September 2016)

Whaddaya gonna doo about Timbuktoo? Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for emperor, stepped in it today under questioning by Mike Barnicle on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show. Johnson didn't seem to know anything about Aleppo (Syria), at least not right away.

Stumbling onto a replay of the segment on Fox News, I didn't know anything, either. In fact, when I heard "Aleppo," I thought of my studies of the Crusades in college, forty-some years ago. I was interested to hear that the city still exists.

It turns out that a good deal of violence has recently occurred there in connection with the interminable Syrian Civil War. Some TV folks have displayed astonishment that Johnson apparently had not seen the awful photos and TV coverage featuring bloodied children and the like. For my part, I had seen some of them, and I was dimly aware that the atrocities had occurred in Syria, but I hadn't sought information any more specific about the locale. It was some Dreadful Foreign Place that Americans would be wise to steer clear of, with both their lives and fortunes.

That's actually a very libertarian attitude, it seems to me. Now, I've been saying to anyone who asks that Johnson the Libertarian is a libertarian only to the same extent that Republican pols are republicans. And, true, if he were bound and determined to make the dreadful mistake of running for emperor, he should have done some more homework. But now I'm feeling some strange new respect for the guy.

In fact, I'm feeling some strange new respect for the old Ingsoc slogan "IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH" — in the sense that normal Americans shouldn't have to know where Aleppo is or what's going on there.

Talking to Steve Sniegoski earlier today, I admitted that, given my personal interests, I would know little about the Middle East were it not for the fact that I'd edited so many of his writings on the region. Like Archilochus's hedgehog, though, I still would know one important thing, namely, that if such an entity as the United State Government must exist, it should observe a strictly neutralist and non-interventionist foreign policy toward the Middle East and, naturally, toward the rest of the world as well.

Steve reminded me of something else that's important: that the neocons and war liberals claim to know all about the Middle East, and often are able to drone on and on about it, but what they do in the Middle East always fails or turns out to be bad for the normal Americans who have to pay for it. (Hillary Clinton came up in this conversation.) Much better to recognize one's lack of omniscience and mind one's business. [Nicholas Strakon] (September 2016)

Not of This Earth. Talking to Noah Rothman of Commentary Magazine on his broadcast of August 25/26, John Batchelor said:

I read from a statement on Twitter today [August 25] from reporters. This is a statement from an organization called American Renaissance. And in it, it defines itself as alt-Right. "What is alt-Right?," says this statement from American Renaissance. It then goes on several paragraphs to say, "There is a very broad overlap between the races, but they differ in average levels of intelligence and in other traits." This is a statement from American Renaissance about what alt-Right believes in. "People of different races do not build identical societies, and most people prefer societies characteristic of their own race. This preference is not controversial when expressed by blacks, Hispanics, or Asians. It is only whites who are thought to be immoral if they openly prefer the culture, society, and people of Europe. The alt-Right rejects the idea of a 'proposition nation.' The United States has a distinct culture and heritage that derives from the European founders. It is not a territory that is up for grabs that belongs to whoever can manage to sneak across its borders" — I understand there are errors in grammar here; I'm reading accordingly — "The descendants of the founding stock have the right even the duty to resist dispossession." I'll stop there.

Noah, this looks very similar to people who didn't do their homework in history class. That's what it looks like to me. However, it looks also like a political movement that wants to claim the United States is in the possession of what? Who are they, Noah? What's this nonsense about European founders? What are they talking about?

First, as a grammarian, I see no errors of grammar in what Batchelor read. I assume he imagined that the word "whoever" should have been "whomever," and if so, then he didn't do his homework in grammar class.

But second, and more important, what can he possibly imagine he is saying when he asks, "What's this nonsense about European founders?" Does he imagine that the North American continent was explored and settled by Malaysians? Does he imagine that Africans brought whites over to be their slave masters in 1619? Does he imagine that the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution wrote in Urdu or Kyrgyz, and that it is only the editors of the World Almanac who have given us the well-known English translations? Does he imagine that the Pilgrims were fleeing Hindu persecutors? or that the phrase "King James Bible" refers somehow to Prester John?

This is the sort of comment that leads me more and more to believe that my country is inhabited by a fairly large number of insane space aliens. [Ronn Neff] (August 2016)

Having activated my telescreen, I heard a snippet of the Hell Witch's convention speech today that I'd been unaware of. She cawed, "We need to appoint Supreme Court justices who will get money out of politics...."

Well, she's just the woman to do it. After all, she and her husband have gotten a lot of money out of politics.

All joking aside, the Witch's statement falls into an interesting category. I'm going to call it hypocritical utopianism. [Nicholas Strakon]

Modine Herbey horns in to explain, explain, explain. Sometimes our beloved Strakon tends toward the elliptical. I'm going to intervene here to make everything crystal clear. The "hypocritical" bit is pretty obvious. But in referring to "utopianism," Strakon means to argue that as long as the state is able to confer vast power, privilege, and pelf, it's just bootless to assume that vast sums won't flow in to rent or buy that power, privilege, and pelf. Every "reform" so far has failed to halt this tidal force. Kell soopreeze! as the French like to say. The only way to eliminate money from politics is to abolish politics. (August 2016)

It's about time I reminded readers of Ronn Neff's "Only states have borders," which appeared in the print version of TLD in 1996 (and on the site in 2000). There's one formulation in particular that deserves to be highlighted anew. You'll see it as the first pullquote in the article.

It's twenty years later, and we're still hammering away on this question. I like to think the problem is not that we're so inarticulate — or, ahem, elliptical — but that so many people remain locked in the prison of statolatry. [Nicholas Strakon] (August 2016)

Coming up, no doubt: denials, evasions, and "evolutions." You may find some black humor in this, dear reader. The other day I saw a campaign ad reporting that Rep. Todd Young, the Republican running for Senate against Evan Bayh here in Indiana, has referred to Medicare and Social Security as "welfare."

Also, that "in Washington, Young said he was proud to back a plan that meant deep cuts for Social Security."

Moreover, that Young called Social Security a "fatally flawed Ponzi scheme."

Ah, but you're ahead of me already. The ad disseminating those great, principled, accurate statements was run by the Democrats, not the Republicans. [Nicholas Strakon]

P.S. The last time this Ponzi business came up at TLD, Henry Gallagher Fields pointed out that comparing Social Security to a Ponzi scheme is unjust, noting that ordinary Ponzi schemers "don't force anyone to become a paying member at gunpoint." (August 2016)

That hideous perfection. From the podium of the Democratic Convention, Madeleine Albright praised Hillary Clinton as embodying the "fighting spirit" of Harry Truman.

It was just perfect, hearing a savage war criminal praise another savage war criminal by comparing her to a third savage war criminal. [Nicholas Strakon]

Hmpf. It'll take more than Miss "It Was Worth It" Albright's endorsement to earn my vote. I won't be convinced until La Clinton gets Janet Reno's support. [Henry Gallagher Fields] (July 2016)

Norman Thomas isn't looking so bad anymore, is he? There was at least one commentator who would not have been in the least surprised that North Korean and Soviet flags were flying at the Democratic Convention, and that none of the Democrat luminaries seemed to mind. In fact, she more or less told us to expect it. The only surprise is that it took so long:

[C]onsider the conflict between the Republicans and the Democrats.... Since both parties hold altruism as their basic moral principle, both advocate a welfare state or mixed economy as their ultimate goal.... It is precisely those ends (altruism-collectivism-statism) that ought to be rejected. But if neither party chooses to do it, the logic of the events created by their common principles will keep dragging them both further and further to the left. If and when the "conservatives" are kicked out of the game altogether, the same conflict will continue between the "liberals" and the avowed socialists; when the socialists win, the conflict will continue between the socialists and the communists; when the communists win, the ultimate goal of altruism will be achieved: universal immolation.

— Ayn Rand, "The Anatomy of Compromise," The Objectivist Newsletter, January 1964 (reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal)

[Ronn Neff] (July 2016)

In foreign news, Alyssa Canobbio of The Washington Free Beacon reports one grandee's assertion: "Kerry: Air Conditioners as Big a Threat as ISIS" (July 22, 2016).

I find this very exciting.

Surely we can depend on this new JFK to show real leadership by removing the air conditioning from all his properties on land and water. And I look forward with breathless anticipation to his heroic struggle to have air conditioning removed from all State Department offices.

Since the Democratic Convention has yet to act, may we even hope that it will once again nominate him to be its candidate? Surely TLD will back him with all the prestige and financial power at its disposal.

Your humble servant stands at the ready to offer his mite in the noble endeavor. [Ronn Neff]

Nicholas Strakon comments: I find myself warming to the idea.

And Modine Herbey: I look forward to the State Department's losing its A/C and being redubbed Funky Bottom. (July 2016)

Plagiarism wasn't the half of it. So ... from the sayings of which Deep and Inspiring Thinker did Melania end up plagiarizing? Cicero? No. Thomas Jefferson? No. The ever-quotable Ben Franklin? No.

All right, some Republican, then? Well, not Lincoln. That would have been bad enough, but at least he was of the same Party as Melania.

Barry Goldwater, maybe? Or Ronald Reagan? No, and no.

Not even George W. Bonzo. Or Mittens Romney.

No, she lifted from the maunderings of Comrade Michelle Obama! Big Michelle! The Muscle Lady of the Left herself — the linebacker of antiwhite totalitarianism — a grimacing commissar even more revolting than her (ostensible) mate!

What. A. Crew. They're the gang that can't plagiarize straight. [Nicholas Strakon]

This was priceless, too. In the wake of Ted Cruz's address to the convention, Prof. Newt Gingrich offered a lesson on how to spot a constitutionalist, telling his fellow political philosopher, Sean Hannity:

... Ted gets up and he says, "Look, vote your conscience for someone who will support the Constitution." Well, in this particular election year, that by definition cannot be for Hillary Clinton.

So in a very strange way, for a guy who's a Princeton Harvard graduate, he backed into ... he has to be for Trump, because by Ted Cruz's own standard, there's no other candidate that fits the criteria Ted Cruz set up.

Yeah, very strange, indeed.

Once again Strakon the anarchist finds himself required to point out something that involves the Constitution. This time, it's that Donald Trump is not involved with it. When has he ever referred to it, except for 1) endorsing the Second Amendment and 2) saying he supports all of its "twelve articles"? (There are but seven.) Nota bene that the blunder in my second example came as an answer to a question — and it was an answer that Trump clearly intended as a brush-off so he could get back to talking about all the Power he's lusting to wield.

Instead of the Cruz standard, Gingrich was actually adhering to Reince Priebus's binary standard. On ABC's "This Week" program for July 17, George Stephanopoulos pointed out that, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, the country was "pretty disgusted with both [ruling-party] candidates." Eventually he brought out the GOP chairman and asked him about the unpopularity of both candidates, and especially that of Donald Trump. Stephanopoulos reported that 60 percent of Americans think Trump is not "qualified to be president. That's a killer number."

Priebus replied that dissatisfied Republicans now faced "a binary choice. It's Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton." That applies also, I should think, to all the voting addicts who support the ruling parties. And since Clinton definitely isn't the constitutionalist candidate, why, Trump must be! Now that's some bold binaryism, though I have to confess that the logic of it escapes me. [NS] (July 2016)

Applying what we once understood: Attorney General Loretta Lynch continues to insist (under oath, no less) that, when she met with Bill Clinton just before the FBI announced that his wife would not be indicted, they talked about their grandchildren and their travels.

I believe her.

I believe her, even as I recall the scene from "The Godfather, Part II" in which Frank Pentangeli, about to testify before Congress, spots his brother (who he thought to be in Sicily) sitting next to Don Michael. In the IMDb cast list, the brother has no name. He is listed simply as "Pentangeli's brother." The actor has no lines (and apparently no other acting credits). Frank does not have a chance to speak to his brother, to Michael, or to any of Michael's surrogates; and none of them speak to him.

But suddenly Frank gives quite a different account of his association with Don Michael and Michael's father than the one he had given when he first offered to testify.

In the accompanying shot from the movie, we see Michael's lawyer, Tom Hagen, and Frank's brother in earnest conversations about their grandchildren and their travels. [Ronn Neff] (July 2016)

Hillary and the Russian gaps. Here's an article that's fascinating on many levels: "The Strange Gaps in Hillary Clinton's Email Traffic," by Peter Schweizer, July 6.

First, it's in Politico, which is as Establishment as you can get and the Paper of Record for the Hill.

Second, it's not about the (ho-hum) private-server controversy. It's about missing official e-mails that, by their absence, seem to point to extravagant corruption by the Minister for Pushing the Rest of the World Around:

What could explain [the] lack of emails on the Russian Nuclear Agency [Rosatom]? Were Clinton's aides negligent in passing along unimportant information while ignoring the far more troubling matters concerning Rosatom? Possibly. Or, were emails on this subject deleted as falling into the "personal" category? It is certainly odd that there's virtually no email traffic on this subject in particular. Remember that a major deal involving Rosatom that was of vital concern to Clinton Foundation donors went down in 2009 and 2010. Rosatom bought a small Canadian uranium company owned by nine investors who were or became major Clinton Foundation donors, sending $145 million in contributions. The Rosatom deal required approval from several departments, including the State Department.
Also according to the article, Clinton's lawyers reformatted their hard drives so that no erased files could be recovered.

With these facts, the reasons for the caving in by the Ministry of Love become clear. If e-mails relating to any of this got out, they would make the Obama regime look really, really bad. Obama would have to face a scandal about corruption at the highest level of his cabinet, in which foreign policy was changed to help a Russian company, at a time when the regime was confronting Russia and treating it as an enemy. This is a Teapot Dome-level outrage.

And, of course, that is only one example of obvious Clinton corruption. So Hillary can't be thrown to the wolves without splashing mud all over the great and wonderful Obama, peace be upon him.

Of course, it also provides an important object lesson to the proles: We can do what we want. You can't. Deal with it. [David T. Wright] (July 2016)

I just want to make sure I understand everything that's going on with this business about being on a "watch" list and gun ownership: "If you can't get on a plane, you shouldn't be able to buy a gun."

Let's say that passes on August 1, 2016. Now that would mean that if you bought a gun after August 1, you could get on an airplane, right? And if you were on a "watch" list, buying a gun would be a sure way to get you off the list, right?

Right? [Ronn Neff] (June 2016)

Newsflash: Women demoted to second-place status at the YWCA. No doubt you've heard of the March through the Institutions. Well, it's over. And now the comrades in charge of everything can never stop with the gratuitous sloganeering, even when the context makes them look downright insane. An alert friend of TLD spotted this sign at the local racism-elimination facility while visiting Fort Wayne, Ind., the other day. (Tip o' the hat to Michigander D.R.) [Nicholas Strakon]

Modine Herbey has a question: I assume "racism" in this slogan refers to irrational racial bigotry. In calling for its elimination, is the YWCA addressing both whites and nonwhites? Equally? (June 2016)

INTFaB ...* As you've probably heard, Donald Trump chose "Pocahontas" as one of his nicknames for the Massachusetts commie and Indian impersonator Elizabeth Warren. It was rude, certainly, like so much of what Trump has eructated, "[b]ut was it racist?" That's what Washington Post writers Matea Gold, Karoun Demirjian, and Mike DeBonis ask in their story of June 10, "Trump's 'Pocahontas' attack leaves fellow Republicans squirming (again)."

Come, let us reason together.

Let us suppose that some pol asked — referring to a grandiloquent poseur of an adversary — "Folks, did you hear the latest from Thomas Jefferson?" Would reasonable people reflexively interpret the nickname as a gibe aimed at old Tom? Or would they instead assume it was a gibe at the taunting pol's adversary? That the taunter was saying his adversary was a small man absurdly impersonating a statesman?

Look, Pocahontas was one of the good Indians, right? And — pace General Sherman — not just because she's now dead. The only living people who'd disagree, I think, are the really fringe antiwhite types.

It would be even more bizarre to see Trump's nicknaming of Warren as an attack on the entire Indian race. Does satirizing someone as a fake Thomas Jefferson amount to an attack on the entire white race?

Seems to me you've really got to tie logic in a knot to gig Trump as a racist for this one. But in some knotty minds, "racism" is a concept that is inflatable on demand. [Nicholas Strakon]

* "I'm no Trump fan, but ..." I'm trying to popularize the acronym, given the fact that I have to use the phrase so often.

(June 2016)

The plague temptation, again. "Andrew Cuomo and Other Democrats Launch Severe Attack on Free Speech to Protect Israel," according to Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman, writing at the Intercept.

They explain: "The prince of the New York political dynasty yesterday issued an executive order directing all agencies under his control to terminate any and all business with companies or organizations that support a boycott of Israel."

OK, pop quiz! "With government money comes ..." what? Anyone? ... Anyone?

Where does "free speech" begin and end, anyway? If I'm renting a house to someone, I believe I have the right to insist — in the rental agreement — that my tenant not hang banners out front reading, "Israel must be destroyed!" Or, "Hillatrump for emperor!" For their part, contractors who choose to deal with a private company are obliged to abide by their freely agreed contract. In settling on that contract, both sides may seek to restrict certain behavior. We've all heard of confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements.

However, matters become a good deal muddier when one chooses to deal with official organized crime. It is very hard to talk of rights in such a corrupt, Stygian realm of commerce. I'm tempted to just say, "A plague on both their houses." [Nicholas Strakon] (June 2016)

Everyone knows that a third-party candidate for president has no chance of winning. Theoretically he can affect the outcome by drawing more votes from one candidate than from another. And the candidates and their supporters like to think that they can help "shape the debate on the issues."

The other possibility is that a given candidate might draw just enough electoral votes to throw the presidential election into the House of Representatives.

It is worth remembering in this connection that NO third-party candidate has won a single electoral vote for president since John Hospers (Libertarian) won one (renegade Republican) electoral vote in 1972.

Let's review:

Ross Perot (Reform, 1992) had a lot of popular support and won a lot of popular votes; he won not one state.

George Wallace (American Independent, 1968) won 46 electoral votes — if they had all gone to Richard Nixon's Democratic opponent (what was his name?), it would not have changed the outcome.

Harry Byrd (Democrat, 1960) won 15 electoral votes — even if they had all gone to Republican Richard Nixon, Nixon would not have defeated Kennedy that year. In any case, Byrd was not on the ballot, and his votes came from unpledged Democratic electors.

Strom Thurmond (Dixiecrat, 1948) won 39 electoral votes — if they had all gone to Republican Thomas Dewey, Dewey still would have lost. Thurmond, of course, was running on a breakaway Democratic ticket.

Robert La Follette (Progressive, 1924) won 13 electoral votes — if they had all gone to Democrat John W. Davis, Davis still would have lost.

Theodore Roosevelt (Progressive, 1912) won 88 electoral votes. Roosevelt's candidacy is interesting because it was the last third-party candidacy to win more electoral votes than an existing party. But even adding his 88 to William Taft's 8 would not have been sufficient to defeat Woodrow Wilson.

In fact, since the Twelfth Amendment was passed, only the outcome of the 1824 election was decided as a result of electoral votes won by "third parties" — and we need to remember that the current two-party system did not yet exist in 1824.

Note also that all the candidates listed above — except for Hospers — were popular and nationally known figures, and still could not glean the electoral votes necessary to affect the outcome.

Here, then, is my question: Surely Bill Kristol and his allies, who are trying to advance a third-party candidacy of a person most of us have never heard of, know all of this.

What, then, is their purpose? I fully understand that a person who does not want to vote for a major-party candidate might vote for a third-party candidate. It's called "voting your conscience." But if the idea is to actually elect someone, then what is the point of voting for a third-party candidate? And why not state that point explicitly, boldly and loudly?

Just askin'. [Ronn Neff] (June 2016)

Après Bern, will they really feel the Johnson? Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee for president, has stated that he sides with Bernie Sanders "73 percent of the time." The idea is to attempt to win over Sanders supporters once he has lost his pitch for the Democratic nomination.

Does this strategy have any possibility of working? I doubt it, but I do not wish to overestimate the ability of American voters (and Sanders supporters) to grasp political principles, so maybe Johnson is right. I propose a test.

Let's hear libertarian Gary Johnson address a mass of Sanders voters and call for the repeal of anti-discrimination laws. I'm guessing he will find that considerably more than 27 percent of them will stop listening to him. [Ronn Neff] (June 2016)

The permanent revolution, one month at a time. Ever eager to explore the possibilities latent in social development, I offer the following suggestion to teenage and college-age women who may experience a monthly bout of painful cramping: a few days before the expected onset of your discomfort, begin self-identifying as boys. Maybe that will help. [Ronn Neff] (May 2016)

The great tsar. I don't usually dabble in the foreign policy of other countries, but a few of our "cousins" have been trying to convince me that Vladimir Putin is a great national leader because he is defending the traditional values of Russia. They are seemingly unimpressed by my objection that he isn't doing much for the values of individual Russians, whose grocery shelves, alcoholism rate, and unemployment are beginning to look as though the Soviet Union never fell.

But maybe this will have some effect. Remember all those "Russian speakers" Putin was so concerned about in Ukraine that he had to help arm pro-Russian contingents there? — well, I hear he's not taking any refugees.

Those "Russian speakers" will just have to stay in Ukraine and serve as Palestinian-like propaganda fodder. [Ronn Neff] (May 2016)

Unmentionable. Minitrue's lies and distortions are bad enough. But the operatives add insidiousness to their sins when they resort to the blackout or the variation that Steve Sniegoski has dubbed the "smudge-out." At The Federalist, Mollie Hemingway reports on a recent "smudge-out" operation: "Media Want to Make Sure You Never Hear about 'the Little Sisters of the Poor.'" [Nicholas Strakon]

Modine Herbey comments. It's inconvenient when the Left's counterfeit "compassion" and "humanitarianism" collide with the real thing. (May 2016)

Riddle me this. Where in the universe is it intruding on college students' safe space when someone writes "Trump" in chalk on a sidewalk, but isn't invading the safe space of pre-college girls when someone who physically appears to be male shows up in their restrooms and locker rooms? [Edward Morrison Morley] (May 2016)

Remember the Equal Rights Amendment? It failed for lots of different reasons, but among them must be counted concerns over what "equality" with men would mean.

Would it mean that men and women would use the same restrooms?

Would it mean that women would be subject to the draft?

Well ... the things women didn't want have come to pass or are coming to pass.

And that which they wanted to disappear (primarily, the so-called gender gap in pay) remains.

I allow myself a bit of gallows laughter here. Even the Left's failures end up crushing civilization. [Ronn Neff] (May 2016)

Those flyover goyim are inbred! A week ago I sent my co-conspirators a link to this story about what a senior L.A. police bureaucrat, Steve Soboroff, said about the crowd at a Trump rally here in Indiana: "LAPD Commissioner: Trump Supporters Look Inbred" (Chuck Ross, The Daily Caller, May 3).

One friend replied: "All white?! The horror! Is that his standard for declaring that the men in the Evansville crowd are inbred? Is that Soboroff's opinion of the largely black crowds Hillary Clinton attracts at some of her rallies?"

One guesses that the latter is most definitely not so. [Nicholas Strakon]  (May 2016)

Further reading on Steve Soboroff.

Speaking of Trump ... I may be one of those awful "brutalist" libertarians according to Jeffrey Tucker's taxonomy, but I refrain from celebrating the Donald Trump circus. One reason is that, all "brutalism" aside, I'm a no-government libertarian and Trump is a giant-government authoritarian. Believe it or not, such tiny distinctions can be important! That being the case, I have to send some praise Tucker's way for this piece posted yesterday at FEE: "Trump's Economic Plan: Higher Taxes, Higher Inflation, and Higher Minimum Wage."

Tucker writes: "Why would anyone believe that Trump is anything but a state builder? Much of it has to do with the strange way in which people infuse candidates with their own ideological longings, hoping against hope that Trump shares their values."

An excellent observation, one that cuts to the heart of Electoral Derangement Syndrome.

A friend on Facebook posted another, exquisitely concise observation: "Anti-establishment does not equal pro-liberty."

To which I would add only this: Opposing the establishment on a couple of issues doesn't necessarily make one a true anti-establishmentarian. [Nicholas Strakon] (May 2016)

I'll have to see your self-ID ... According to the Babylon Bee, one big-box chain is "[c]onfirming its commitment to celebrating inclusivity" in this wise: Target Announces Senior Discount for Anyone Who Self-Identifies As Age 60 or Older" (April 28).

It was just a matter of time that self-identification would apply to age: "It's just a number." But what will happen now to the various driving laws? alcohol-purchasing laws? marriage laws? voting laws?

Social-Security-collection laws?

How about licensing laws? The self-identification revolution still has a ways to go, apart from the question of age: "I self-identify as a brain surgeon trapped in a welder's body."

Maybe we've been missing a trick here: libertarians should get on board the self-identification wagon as a way of totally disrupting the regulatory state.

P.S. Will girls who self-identify as boys suddenly be able to do math? [Ronn Neff]

I wish the self-identification revolution with respect to age had already been won back in 2004 when I was waging my war with the Walgreen's in Huntington, Ind., trying to buy cigars without being carded. The smoking age in Indiana was 18. I was 54. They carded my dad, too, when he tried to buy cigars as a gift for me. He was 85. The Walgreen's supervisor told me, "We don't want to get into the business of guessing your age." I guess that's no longer an issue! [Nicholas Strakon] (May 2016)

Typical government project: Andrew Jackson is too homely, so let's put a dame on the $20 bill. [Ronn Neff] (May 2016)

Now for yet another heroic attempt to decipher the Party line. If race doesn't really exist, how do racists know whom to hate?

And how do non-racists know that the racists are not hating a diverse population out of ignorance?

I mean ... if a racist says he hates niggers, how can the non-racist tell if the guy is actually discriminating against blacks? The non-racist says there's no such thing as race. So the racist can say he hates this group or that, but he probably doesn't really. He's hating a bunch of diverse people and has no idea whether they're of the race he hates or not.

He'd have to be really, really lucky to get it right every time.

But even so, the non-racist could never tell.

Look at it this way ... if there's no such thing as a difference in ice cream flavors, and it's just a social construct, you could say you preferred peach to vanilla, but you'd never know whether you had gotten peach. And even if you did, those with no preferences in ice cream flavors would ever know whether you actually had. [Ronn Neff]

Further reading. The "No Such Thing As Race" nuttiness explained, maybe as well as it can be: "Can a Dress Shirt Be Racist?" by Moises Velasquez-Manoff, Backchannel, March 31, 2016.

(May 2016)

McCain and Romney, No. 1. Both John McCain and Mitt Romney have come out against Donald Trump. Let's suppose I were a voting man: whom would I be inclined to pick? The guy they attack? or a guy supported by the two men who did more than anyone else to give us eight years of Barack Obama?

McCain and Romney, No. 2. Seeing how establishment Republicans are doing everything they can to lose the White House this year (again), I think it's time to remind TLD readers of the work of Walter Karp. Even Joe Sobran, in a private conversation, told me that he found the Karp thesis of inter-party collusion difficult to swallow. If that describes you, just keep an eye on the GOP establishment; and use both eyes to re-read anything you can find by Walter Karp. And don't forget Strakon's review essay of Indispensable Enemies, right here in The Ditch. [Ronn Neff] (March 2016)

Now that we know that Justice Scalia was a member of a secret society of hunters (International Order of St. Hubertus), a question occurs to me: of what secret societies are the other eight justices members?

And other senior government officials?

Transparency in government starts here. [Ronn Neff] (March 2016)

Other countries. Responding to a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, "The Political War on Cash" (paywall), one reader remarked:

Your editorial reeks of paranoia. What could go wrong if we hold all our monetary assets in the form of electronic zeros and ones inside a government-regulated computer system? We coexist with a benevolent government. It isn't as if it would ever seize our assets, tax marginal income at 94%, proscribe the citizens' holding of gold, or force us to buy expensive health care. That only happens in other countries.

John Carlson, CFA
Boulder, Colo.

The reader's irony notwithstanding, he is right: It does happen only in other countries. When those things happened in the United States, it was, by definition, an "other" country. The practices he lists are not only tyrannical, they are instruments for changing one country into another, in effect "electing a new people." Meanwhile, of course, the state remains the same. [Ronn Neff] (February 2016)

That's quite a system they've got there. Let's assume for a moment that everything the Right is saying is true: that Justice Antonin Scalia was the great guardian of the Constitution, which in turn is Our Sacred Law of Liberty. And that now, as a result of his death, we're all in peril! (The peril business, I accept. But it was true before his death, as well.)

So, one guy dies, and we're all immediately in the soup?

One guy?

Who was a government employee?

All I can say is, it's a hell of a way to run a railroad. [Nicholas Strakon]

Related reading: "Abolish the Supreme Court," by Ryan McMaken, Mises Institute, February 15, 2016. (February 2016)

2015 archive.

Published in 2016 by WTM Enterprises.