Saturday, November 9, 2019

Clowns and Idolaters: Last Month

Saturday afternoon, Oct. 26, 2019, the final day of the "Amazon Synod". The Pachamama idol surrounded by candles in the middle of Traspontina Church near the Vatican.


Fall finally arrives in Taipei. I wake up as if from a long fever.


Face it. Clowns have been getting a bad rap for a while. But with two installments of IT on the racks, and now Joker, it's finally really game over for the clown as a dopey fellow who's fun to have at your kid's birthday party.

Are you even fucking listening, McDonald's?


A fashionable young woman stands next to me on the subway. I didn’t notice that five or six strands of her long black hair were caught in the strap of my shoulder bag, and as I’d stepped a few inches away from her, I began pulling her hair with the strap. But here’s the thing: She's mesmerized by her cell phone, and feeling her hair pulled, she doesn’t even look to see who, or why, but merely leans her head toward me, eyes still glued on the tiny screen.

I stood a moment taking it in. She only turned to look when I began to untangle her hair from my bag. It was my stop.


I am not good enough to be a Catholic, and neither is the pope. The way we each lack the necessary goodness differs. My lack is the usual badness—sloth combined with selfishness; an undeveloped prayer life; fits of anger, etc. I do however believe Catholic teaching is true. As for this pope, it gets harder and harder to believe he believes.


As a child, for some reason, I got in the habit of writing most of the numerals from the bottom up. My teachers never corrected me, so I continued. I've now been writing numbers this way for nearly half a century. Sometimes people notice."Hey! What--? ... Write that again!"

This year I finally began writing the number 8 from the top down. But I persist in writing 2, 3, and 5 from the bottom up. And will.


St. Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians: “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods. Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits? How can you want to be enslaved to them again?” (4:28)

* * *

My novel A Taipei Mutt is now in second edition. More bark, more bite.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Amazon Synod, 635 BC

The word of the Lord spoken through the prophet Jeremiah to apostate Israel and Judah:

Have you not brought this upon yourself
     by forsaking the Lord your God,
     while he led you in the way?
What then do you gain by going to Egypt,
     to drink the waters of the Nile?
Or what do you gain by going to Assyria,
     to drink the waters of the Euphrates?
Your wickedness will punish you,
     and your apostasies will convict you.
Know and see that it is evil and bitter
     for you to forsake the Lord your God;
     the fear of me is not in you,
     says the Lord of Hosts.

As a thief is shamed when caught,
     so the house of Israel shall be shamed—
they, their kings, their officials,
     their priests, and their prophets,
     who say to a tree, “You are my father”,
     and to a stone, “You gave me birth.”
For they have turned their back to me,
     and not their faces.

How lightly you gad about,
     changing your ways!
You shall be put to shame by Egypt,
     as you were put to shame by Assyria.
From there also you will come away
     with your hands and your head;
for the Lord has rejected those
     in whom you trust,
     and you will not prosper through them.

—Jeremiah 2:17-19; 26-27; 36-37 (7th c. BC)

Just change the rivers: Nile and Euphrates to Amazon. The “tree” and the “stone” are the same; the "gadding about" and the paganism, the same. It was and is apostasy.

The fear of the Lord is not in them. It has not been for some time.


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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Using Greta: Aussie Feminist Version

Is it LIBERAL MEDIA FAIL #984,261? From an Australian site, regarding Greta Thunberg:

She doesn’t dress to attract men. She doesn’t charm or flirt or giggle or pout. She has a death stare. She is angry. She is here to say something, whether people want to hear it or not.

She’s challenging the power of middle-aged white men, and it upsets and threatens them. They’re used to giving their opinions and being listened to and being respected. They don’t quite understand where she’s appeared from and why she’s talking like she’s an equal, and they don’t like it.

Uh-huh. Where to start?

First, notice how this Australian journalist has projected her own insecurities and lame feminist persecution complex onto a 16-year-old girl. It’s pathetic. It’s laughable. I’d blush for her if I had any blushes left for these people.

Second, as a middle-aged white man, allow me to point out a few things:

1) “She doesn’t dress to attract men. She doesn’t charm or flirt…”

I don’t care and didn’t notice how this girl Greta dresses. Quite differently from left-liberals, I don’t really like to see sexualized, flirty teens. For me, hypersexed kids are symptomatic of a failing civilization. Left-liberals like this Aussie writer and her friends are “sex positive”, which means they want to teach 3rd-graders how to use condoms and sex toys. Not me.

2) “middle-aged white men … it upsets and threatens them.”

Huh? Rather than feeling threatened by this girl, I feel SORRY for her. If she is smart, and she may well be, when she grows up she'll likely resent how her attention-starved parents and the media have used her. Until then, I feel it is Greta, and the millions of poor kids fed the climate hysteria she’s been fed, that are under psychological threat.

3) “[middle-aged white men are] used to giving their opinions and being listened to and being respected.”

I don’t “give opinions”. Instead I make arguments. I leave “giving opinions” to liberal Aussie writers and people like the ladies who appear on The View--i.e. people who assume that when they open their mouths worthwhile ideas come out SIMPLY BECAUSE THEIR MOUTH IS MOVING.

4) “They don’t quite understand where she’s appeared from…”

Come again? We know exactly where Greta has appeared from and why a microphone has been propped in front of her. We know and we are not mystified and we are not especially impressed.

5)—AND THIS ONE IS KEY— “They don’t understand … why she’s talking like she’s an equal.”

Sorry, but no 16-year-old can talk as an equal to educated adults. That this Aussie opinionator believe Greta is somehow an intellectual equal to adults only proves she herself has never grown up. If my own 16-year-old self were to appear from the past and begin lecturing me, now 53, I would rightly tell my 16-year-old self to take a hike. I’d say: “Listen. If you study hard, when you’re 22 you MIGHT have some interesting ideas. But even those ideas, by age 35 you’ll have dropped most of them. Unless you’re a nitwit. As for now, keep studying. You’re in no position to lecture your elders. There’s just far too much you don’t yet understand. Oh, and take out the garbage.”

I’d say this same thing to a boy or girl, black or white or Latino or Asian.

When is this plague of liberal blather going to end? What kind of moron publishes dreck like the above-quoted editorial?

Her name is Helen Vnuk. She’s a contributor on “News and Parenting”, of all things, for the Australian journal MamaMia. For shame.


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Friday, September 13, 2019

David French’s Pyrrhic Victory?

It’s now common wisdom that David French won his September 5th debate with Sohrab Ahmari. Though more #TeamSohrab myself, I think it’s true French came out the better. The decisive factors in this outcome were more than merely intellectual however. Ahmari’s microphone kept shorting out, repeatedly interrupting his train of thought. Why this was not fixed the first time it happened is anyone’s guess. Ahmari looked tired (his wife had given birth to their second child literally the day before), whereas French, on his side, looked rested, showered, caffeinated … and angry. Probably Ahmari should have requested a reschedule for a month later. But was French’s debate win really so decisive?

Both men made powerful arguments, but in large part kept talking past each other. It’s not perhaps that one was usually wrong and the other right, but that their stresses are so differently placed. Many of us, I’m sure, can get behind a vision of conservatism going forward that combines the two approaches. Still, it’s clear Ahmari is the one bringing something new and necessary to our sense of where we’re at. His call-out against “David-Frenchism” that appeared in First Things and set the whole process moving was long overdue, regardless of any personal ill-will it stirred, and notwithstanding the fact that both men are Christians facing the same enemy.

Far from crestfallen, Ahmari has since come out with a hard-hitting piece revisiting some of his wider concerns. He channels arguments compellingly made by Patrick Deneen in his brilliant Why Liberalism Failed. Among these, especially, the argument that liberalism, choosing “value neutral” individual autonomy as the highest good, has also necessitated an increase in state intervention to keep the newly “autonomous” barbarian hordes in some semblance of order:

Overthrowing these limits [those recognized in previous Western social orders] prevents us from making lifelong commitments and plunges us into sterile decadence. Our consequent dysfunction frequently necessitates restrictions more onerous than any imposed by nature or tradition. The vast administrative state arises in order to regulate societies that have been deregulated by an individualistic liberalism.

Our combination of dysfunction and growing Panoptical state overreach is obvious, no? But that state overreach, in our liberal West, is also increasingly value-laden, and geared toward punishing those who offend left-liberal SJW hypersensitivities. I do think one of Ahmari’s tacit points all along, deafness to which has led many to misread him, is that “value-neutral liberalism” has proved to be a pipe dream. What we’ve ended up with instead, pragmatically speaking, is something like: Their values are “neutral”, ours are just “bigotry”.

And worse: Given that “bigotry” is “harmful”, our values will ultimately need to be censored.

Isn’t it clear that this is the endgame envisioned by all the Democratic presidential candidates now on offer? The First Amendment protections David French has done so much to buttress are crucial, yes, but will they really prove decisive when the electorate swings leftward again? Isn’t a more aggressive strategy necessary to keep our tired troops united in the face of such a united aggressor? And doesn’t, per Ahmari, populism offer much as part of this strategy?

To return to Drag Queen Story Hour, the Rainbow-inspired atrocity that set off the Ahmari-French conflict, one thing that kept striking me watching the debate was the uncanny recognition that French (and thus potentially millions of smart conservative liberals) didn’t even think it possible or wise for sane Americans to come together to protect the sexual integrity of children. Children!

As an American in my fifties, who clearly remembers the ’80s and ‘90s with their overriding concern to keep kids separated from sexual deviants, this new caving to the “autonomy” and “rights” of perversion is downright eerie. It’s an entirely new ground that’s appeared, a vast island of muck arisen out of nowhere just yesterday. And David French already sees it as unassailable territory, because of what, “value neutrality”?

This is an instance where French’s blindness to the big cultural picture is deeply troubling. In Britain and the US, the number of trans-identifying kids, slated for hormone suppression and worse, has risen roughly 4,000% in the past ten years. Yes: 40x! But Drag Queen Story Hour does not represent a real crisis?

At the same time, where the liberal state apparently cannot allow conservatives to intervene in DQSH because of “value neutrality”, it has no problem seeing my career ruined if I commit the “offense” of typing here or there on social media that “Same-sex marriage is not marriage.” And yes, although my loss of career at present would only be the woke market, rather than the state, talking, all our mainstream Democrats are now on board with their “Equality Act” to make sure the state follows my loss of career with fines or jail time.

Given all this, the poison fruit of a mere decade during which the left did not even monopolize power, what can be expected if they do gain any lengthy stretch of power? And French can scoff or laugh at Ahmari’s mention of potential “Colosseums” in the near future? (French is scoffing along with mainstream liberals, as one can see in this Yahoo fluff piece. Me I think Rod Dreher’s “Law of Merited Impossibility” is more apt: “It will never happen, and when it does, you bigots will deserve it.”)

While on stage, French also indicated that in his view pornography is not protected under the First Amendment. It did seem a strange disconnect from his arguments on value-neutral liberalism and his legal indifference to things like DQSH. Is pornography unprotected by the First Amendment because its obscenity is an assault on the sexual integrity of the viewer? If so, is that not also a viable argument vis-a-vis DQSH—that sexual integrity, in this case of children, is being assaulted? Yes, conservatives’ ideas of sexual integrity will not be accepted by the left, and as for the left’s ideas—they are constantly shifting and hopelessly self-contradictory. Still, if it’s true that sexual integrity has any relevance to what is or is not afforded First Amendment protection, French has some explaining to do.

At one point in the debate Ahmari quoted something French had written in the years before Obergefell, to the effect that “if the gay couple down the street gets married, how would that affect me?” French quickly responded that his thinking had since changed, implying that quoting him from that era was irrelevant. But I’d say it was French’s response here that is irrelevant. Ahmari’s point was clearly that French’s brand of liberalism, before Obergefell, had set him up to minimize the conflicts SSM would bring. Why then should conservatives trust French to read the writing on the wall now in 2019?

As a Christian concerned with religious liberty, I have enormous respect and gratitude for French. But I think he is misreading the larger cultural issues, and that his Never-Trumpism is part and parcel of a perhaps too self-congratulatory optimism about the status quo. Though I’m not a pessimist by nature, I cannot accept French’s rosy depiction of where America’s Christians now stand in relation to the liberal state. Which is why I predict Ahmari’s voice will only prove more prescient as time passes. Thus my title here.

(For a more trenchant argument than mine as to why French’s debate victory is ultimately Pyrrhic, Michael Warren Davis’ piece in Crisis is a MUST READ. In brief: It’s the Overton window, stupid.)

Check out my novel A Taipei Mutt, now in second edition. More bark, nastier bite.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Vulnerable Ones

Salute to the vulnerable ones—
for remaining tender in this insensitive world,
for your hesitancy in the midst of the world's dead certainty,
for your ability to feel others as if they were you, and to take on each and every of their pains,

for being afraid of the world with its blind and bottomless conviction,

for your need to brush even the invisible dirt off your hands—


Salute to the vulnerable ones—
for your dread of the absurdity of existence,
for keeping subtly quiet about what you see in others,
for your clumsiness in the ordinary matters and your ability to commune with the extraordinary;
for your transcendental realism and your utter lack of practicality,
for being ill-adjusted to how things are, and being lucid about how they ought to be,
and for all that is endless—unknown—unspoken,
hidden in you.

Salute to the vulnerable ones—
for your creativity and ecstasy,
for your hungry friendships, love,
and for your fear that love might die even before you do.

Salute to the vulnerable ones—
for your talents, never in use,
(lack of appreciation for your greatness will not help in recognising the greatness of those who come next)
salute—because, instead of taking your example, they want you to adjust,
salute—because, instead of healing the world, it is you who get treated,
salute—for all your divine abilities getting ravaged by lower animal force,
salute—for your incredible uniqueness and for the solitariness of your ways.
Salute to the vulnerable ones.

by Kazimierz Dabrowski

Trans. from the Polish by Alexandra Gruszczynska, 5 August 2018

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Saturday, August 10, 2019

Mader's Law

82% of things “new and improved” are actually worse and messed-up.

This applies to products, customs, legislation, art forms, beliefs.

The upshot is clear. The 18% of things that bring actual improvement are suffocated by the 82% that bring something worse than what held before. We continue to decline through our very “improvements”.

Check out my novel A Taipei Mutt, now in second edition. More bark, nastier bite.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

An Unwelcome Guest

I’d been in the apartment a little more than six months. Centrally located but quiet, well-furnished, 7th floor. Perfect for me. There were enough small takeout restaurants nearby that I didn’t have to cook much, and the bar scene was just right. I even got the idea that the apartment had a certain feng shui that helped me with the women. Since moving in, I’d brought home many, something that had seemed harder in my previous place.

Of course it was sheer superstition about the feng shui. The women I brought back--they hadn’t yet seen the building when they stumbled with me out of this or that bar. So how could the building be working on them in my favor?

No matter. With a new job and new digs, staying fit at a gym round the corner, women like never before, I finally felt set up in this new city. It had taken awhile, but the town was starting to seem right.

During my fourth month in the apartment something odd happened. A girl I’d brought home, Maureen was her name, had dragged herself from my bed at about three a.m. to find something to drink in my fridge. I was in bed, asleep, when she began to scream in the kitchen. Startled awake and stumbling from the bedroom, I saw she’d switched on the kitchen light and stood against the wall, frozen.

“What’s wrong?”

“You … you …” she began.

“What? What happened?”

“There’s someone in your fridge! Your father! He glared at me. He’s in your fucking fridge!”

Her eyes were wild. She was screaming, unhinged. She'd wake the neighbors, and probably already had.

For a minute I didn’t know what to do. Like everyone, I’d had to deal with nut cases now and then, but this was different. Once her words really sunk in—I was buzzed and half asleep—I thought either someone must have put something in her drink at the bar, or the girl was a full-fledged psycho.

“You think my father is in my fridge?”

“He said he was your father!”

“But … it’s impossible!”

There flashed through my mind the trouble I might be in—that she’d somehow accuse me. Just recently there’d been a widely reported case in town of a rich young perv who’d been slipping date rape drugs in aspiring models’ drinks. That guy was headed to jail.

I tried to calm her down.

“Listen. There’s no one in the fridge. Just think about it. It’s impossible.”

“I saw him.”

“My father lives a thousand miles away. You must have been sleepwalking or dreaming.”

“He’s there! I saw him.”

“But it’s impossible. Think about it... Here. I’ll show you.”

I stepped toward the refrigerator door.

“No! Don’t you open it! He’s … horrible.”

She was blinking, breathing unevenly. She did look drugged. What was I going to do?

“Okay,” I said. “But my father doesn’t even live in this town, much less in a fridge. Don’t you realize what you’re saying is literally impossible? Just try to be calm, think it through. It’s the middle of the night. Come back to bed. We can talk about it.”

“You’re sick!” she yelled at me, really angry this time. “I can’t stay here. This is SICK.”

She scampered past me to the bedroom.

“Where’s the light switch!” she yelled.

I went and turned it on for her. She dressed quickly, muttering curses as she did, then rushed back to the living room and grabbed her bag.

I followed her to door, tried to say something to calm her down, but it was no use. She slammed it on the way out.

It took me awhile to get back to sleep, but that I finally did made me feel a little proud of myself. I got in a good three or four hours before work. No use letting a psycho ruin my night and the whole next day. And as for trouble, if she was going to cause any, I’d just have to deal with it. I’d done nothing illegal.

Two days passed without any appearance from the police. I breathed a sigh of relief. Crisis over.

Then one evening about two months after Maureen's fit I was putting a styrofoam carton of takeout pasta in the fridge when something pinkish caught my eye. It was in one of the door racks. I reached down to fish it out.

It seemed to be half of a set of dentures—the top half. What the fuck? It looked real enough, but was too small, about a third the size normal adult dentures would be. Was it maybe a denture made for a kid? Or a toy? But why was it in my fridge?

I took it and sat on the sofa near the lamp, to look it over more carefully. I thought back to the state of the refrigerator when I’d moved in. In fact there’d been a few items from the previous tenant: some condiment jars, a few drink bottles. Had I maybe not noticed the denture when I cleaned them out?

Then it hit me. Looming up like a wall, solid and white, menacing: the memory of that night with Maureen.

I put the denture on the coffee table, then picked it up again. Then put it back down. With a tightness in my throat, I went back to the fridge and stood staring at its closed beige door.

Then I had to laugh at myself, at how absurd it was.

I went and looked at the toy denture again. But it didn't seem to be a toy. And really: Why was it in my refrigerator?

I finally opened the refrigerator and peered in, scanning the spaces, the shelves. Drinks, white plastic bags of uneaten takeout. It was a mess. I swung the trash bin out from under the sink and, my heart starting to pound, began to empty the top shelf where most of the takeout was. Toward the back of the shelf I noticed an empty white bag stretched lengthwise, covering something. I seized the corner of the bag and yanked it off.

There he lay, on his side, blinking.

“Okay, okay!” he snapped suddenly. “It is what it is. I like the cold. What are you gonna do about it?”

I’d recoiled four or five steps, eyes trying to take it in. It was impossible.

“What are you gonna do about it?” he repeated.

“What the FUCK!” I yelled. “What the fuck is THIS?”

“This is this,” he said, glaring at me with beady black eyes. "It is what it is."

He wore what looked like a threadbare hospital gown. He was nearly bald. Shriveled in an unnatural way. From head to toe he seemed a bit over two feet. An obscene doll.

“Who are you?” I demanded. “What are you?”

“Oh as if that's …” he began. Then: “And who are you—if it comes to that?”

“This is my apartment. I’m renting it. How long have you been in here?”

“Not quite sure.”

“You told a girl you were my father!”

“I didn’t want to scare her. She caught me awake.”

“You didn’t want to scare her?! You think finding a shriveled man in a fridge in the middle of the night is not going to scare the shit out of someone!”

“Well … I did my best.”

“FUCK!” I yelled, stepping closer to the open door.

“Yes, that’s the way. Get it off your chest.”

“Off my chest? FUCK! This is ABSURD. How did you even get in here?”

“I’ve been in here a while. I like the cold.”

“But ... why my fridge? You should be dead in there. Are you in there all the time?”

“I'm not dead. And I think I told you," he said sarcastically, "I like the cold. It helps me sleep.”

“You should be dead! You’re in a fucking refrigerator!”

“But I’m not. I can hibernate. Since I was young. I can do it. I think I’m part bear. Hah! Funny, hey?”

He made a kind of pirouette move with his hand, as if to punctuate the joke.

I was frantic. I began to pace a bit, still keeping my eyes on him.

“How old are you?” I demanded.

“I don’t keep track. It’s better that way. Sometimes I’m out cold three, four days. So as for months and years, who knows?”


“C’mon now. Let’s just keep things simple here. We can just get along. It’s no skin off your back. I only nibble a bit of your chow now and then. Couple times a month I figure. What’s it to you?”

I winced, unsure whether I was feeling nausea from the thought, or whether it was the impossibility of the whole thing.

“NO,” I finally said.

“Just be a good sort now and put my bag back over me and close the door. The light bothers my eyes. C’mon, then,” he coaxed.

“NO! Fuck!”


“You are OUT OF HERE.”

From the floor where I'd dropped it I snatched up the bag he’d been using as a sheet. I wrapped it round my right hand so I could seize hold of him. I didn’t want to have to touch him.

“No no no!” he started, covering his face with his hands. “Just take it easy here! There's no reason to … ”

I moved closer and began to reach in toward him.

“I’ll bite you!” he barked. “I’ll bite you good!”

“I have your dentures,” I said, feeling more confident.

“You only have the top one! I’ll bite you! I swear!”

Lunging forward, I got my hand round one of his deformed little legs. He twisted himself round to make good on his threat. I yanked him out of the fridge in a single swoop.

I held him up in the air, upside down. He was screaming and writhing, trying to grab my arm to bite me. Holding him out away from me, I got to the apartment door and managed to open it. I swung him out onto the hallway floor, far enough that he wouldn’t have time to scurry back. I slammed and bolted the door.

Cussing, heart racing, I retreated to the living room. I stood glaring for a while at the locked door. He didn’t knock, didn’t make a sound. I heard nothing in the hallway.

I needed to get my wits about me. It was all too much. A hibernating imp!

I sat back on the sofa, trying to think. Then: “My dentures,” I heard through the door.

I didn’t reply.

“My dentures!” he said a little louder. “C’mon. Be a sport.”

To be done with the whole thing, to get him to leave, I took the dentures to the door, unbolted and opened it just an inch, then flicked them through the crack near the floor. I heard them drop against the hallway tile just before reslamming the door.

“Aw, you could've broke ‘em!” he whined.

“Go away!” I yelled.

I stood listening for movement, but heard nothing. A few minutes passed. He made no more noise from outside.

A half hour later I decided to go out myself and look around, to be sure he was gone. I didn’t find him in the hallway, nor on the stairs going down (he was too short to use the elevator) nor anywhere near the building’s main entrance. I scanned both ways down the street. Nothing.

All this happened a week ago. There have been no problems since. I did clean out and disinfect my fridge. And I called my father. Though of course I told him nothing about what happened. He wouldn't have believed me.

Sometimes I’m only half convinced myself it happened. But no, I know it happened. It's all too clear in my mind. I wasn't drugged. And Maureen wasn't drugged.

And so a question: If I ever run into her again, which I suppose is possible, should I tell her? Should I try to apologize?

I'm thinking it'd be better not to.


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Friday, June 14, 2019

Stop Lying About Sohrab Ahmari

EWTN Screenshot: Sohrab Ahmari

I’ve been roundly disappointed in reactions to Sohrab Ahmari’s piece decrying “David French-ism”. Reading through the first flurry of pundit weigh-ins, I kept thinking Huh? Did I miss something in the original? So I went back and reread it. No, in fact, on second reading I still don’t see any blanket rejection of the liberal order. Ahmari was not, as many claimed, declaring himself a theocrat. It’s just not there.

Ahmari’s position, it seemed to me, was far more nuanced. In brief: The liberal order is such that it will typically end up imposing one or another vision of the good. For any liberal state to hold together, this is perhaps even a necessity. Our current left (with its hysterical identity politics playing on constant loop, with its penchant for censoring critics in the name of a bogus “safety”) has nearly succeeded in establishing its own vision of the good as paramount. The problem is that that vision is a disaster, whereas conservative ideas of the good, at least the kind held by Ahmari, have the imprimatur of a long history of cultural flourishing.

Given the stakes, given the left as it stands, Ahmari is arguing that conservatives need to begin playing hardball if they are not to be utterly silenced. This is the main thrust of his argument. Not reject the liberal order as such: rather, play a louder, more aggressive game within that order. Conservatives need to stop dreaming that mere proceduralism will save the American future.

Is that beyond the pale?

To reject David Frenchian proceduralism as a fix-all approach is not equal to becoming a fascist. Many of Ahmari’s critics don’t seem to get this. He is not arguing for an end to the Constitution or some kind of Catholic sharia; he simply seeks more direct engagement in areas of pubic life besides just the courts and staid conservative political reviews.

I myself think there’s a large and disgusted demographic of Americans who would agree with him on this. They want pushback. Why, they wonder, don’t our conservative leaders stand up to these pinkshirt bullies?

This is not to reject polite debate in arenas where it is necessary—say, in the courtrooms where David French has accomplished so much. I point this out because Ahmari was also widely attacked for stating what seems to me a necessary truth about our moment. He finished his essay with the words:

Progressives understand that culture war means discrediting their opponents and weakening or destroying their institutions. Conservatives should approach the culture war with a similar realism. Civility and decency are secondary values. They regulate compliance with an established order and orthodoxy. We should seek to use these values to enforce our order and our orthodoxy, not pretend that they could ever be neutral. To recognize that enmity is real is its own kind of moral duty.

Ahmari’s critics were horrified that he called civility and decency “secondary values”. But these critics at best misread his point, and at worst show that they’ve lost all sense of the hierarchy of values that comes with any serious thinking about the good. Luckily Matthew Schmitz of First Things debunks these misreadings in an excellent essay that you should take the time to read.

Ahmari’s post-battle talk with Mark Bauerlein (on podcast) confirmed me in my first reading of his piece. Since I think a lot of people still aren’t getting this, and others are tendentiously pretending not to get it, I’ll type some out by way of transcript.

Bauerlein mentions the Drag Queen Story Hour, which set off Ahmari’s argument with French, and wonders if conservatives who believe in proceduralism above all have any means of stopping this debased new institution.

AHMARI: If your conservatism is merely the upholding of procedure and maximal autonomy, with harm and consent as the only limiting principles, then you may win X, Y, Z legal battle over religious liberty in the courtroom, but the thrust of the culture will sweep you away. Because the ideology that we are up against says not only is drag to be tolerated in the drag queen bar or whatever … not only will it be legally tolerated, but it must be treated as normative, [that] for me [as drag queen] to feel fully autonomous in my identity, you will have to acknowledge that everything I’m doing is fine … Or if it’s a matter of the transgender thing, it’s not enough that you say So-and-so has a right to surgically transition: you must say that this person was always the gender that they became, and that their old name is now a taboo, it’s a dead name. That’s the full exercise of my autonomy [as trans], and it will [have to] destroy your autonomy for me to feel autonomous.

So that’s why I think that this idea that Sohrab Ahmari, by challenging David French-ism or this sort of conservatism, is proposing, you know, the restoration of the Papal States, or a kind of Catholic sharia—all these extremist labels that have been thrown at me—also reveals the kind of limits on the conservative imagination, that there’s only one configuration. And anything that suggests that we could go back to, for example, decency laws, or obscenity laws, must mean, you know, Vichy, or Pius IX, or Papal States. You know, there were people who were firmly in the liberal tradition—I cite Matthew Arnold in the essay—who say, Yeah, liberalism and autonomy in their proper spheres, but there have to be other limits [besides mere autonomy]: there are spaces in which the moral authority of the community must override individual rights, or free trade, blah blah blah. To be a bit pragmatic actually. Who’s the dogmatist [here]—the one who says, “In the face of Drag Queen Story Hour, if you want to do anything about it, you must want sharia,” or the one who says, “No, in its proper sphere, OK, but don’t try and make it normative for my children.”

Bauerlein then asks if Ahmari considers this development a result of the excess influence of libertarianism from the 1950s forward. Ahmari agrees, and points out that since the 1960s especially, conservatives may have grumbled about this or that development, but nonetheless pursued a deregulatory approach in all spheres of life, one which, he implies, has given the left carte blanche to remake the culture according to its own perverse blueprint.

Honestly I’m tempted to type out more, but I think the main point on Ahmari’s supposed “illiberal turn” is clear. Listen to the whole thing.

And speaking of blueprints, I myself would like to see conservatives with a bigger voice than my own start getting on board with more concrete initiatives. There is news of a “Straight Pride” rally planned for Boston later this year. That seems a good start, though to me the choice of name, merely derivative, is not ideal. I’ve long thought about the need for some kind of celebration or rally to counter the Rainbow Cult Processions that now gyrate through our cities. I’d call the event the Back to Basics Rally.

Why "basics"? Because our bodies, male or female, are one of the basic grounds on which our health and wholeness depend. It is this basic ground, the beauty and goodness of healthy development as male or female, that is being rebelled against. We should never be seducing youth into rebelling against their bodies and then, insanely, affirming and celebrating them when they do. But that is precisely what America's elites are doing.

Participants in Back to Basics would stress a few central truths:

1) Transgenderism is not a matter of “discovering one’s true gender”, but a dangerous psychosexual disorder, one which quickly spreads (cf. Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria) among youth.

2) Wise Americans raise their boys and girls to become healthy men and women, not sexually confused mannequins prey to a cultural fad.

3) LGBT activists currently have far too much sway in our schools.

4) During elementary and high school, boys and girls should only be identified based on their physical bodies and should use corresponding restrooms and locker rooms. The respective pronouns are he, him and she, her. Public schools that do not uphold these basic standards should be sued, boycotted, and protested by parents. Such schools, through their pandering to a destructive sexual cult, gravely endanger American youth--as is already happening.

Back to Basics Rally participants would also, of course, celebrate: 

1) the goodness and givenness of the body;

2) heterosexuality and the goodness of traditional marriage and family;

3) a sane return to basic biology;

4) healthy, age-appropriate education of youth.

In short, participants would celebrate the opposite of what our mainstream culture now promotes--a rebellion against the body via an LGBTQ dogma that demonstrates an ever-deepening fetishization of sexual and gender disorders under the rubric “Pride”.

There are millions of American parents who see how this cult has run rampant over our schools and media. Back to Basics Rallies would allow them to come together to push back against the destructive ideology being spoon-fed to their children. If these parents were to unite under a platform stating basic biological truths, in defense of their children's healthy development, they could turn the tide against this cult. I propse Back to Basics, B2B, as an effective slogan for this needed movement.

And really: How far are responsible parents going to let this go before they take a stand? Studies now suggest that the number of young people identifying as "trans" or "nonbinary" has increased as much as 4000% (!) in recent years. The reason is not difficult to grasp given the climate created by the LGBT movement and its trendy cheerleaders in the entertainment industry. Young people see gender-bending as a vehicle through which to gain the attention youth always crave, as well as a route by which they may dramatically mediate the suffering and confusion that come with growing up. That this gender-cultism often ends with hormone-blocking therapy and surgery is what makes the phenomenon truly tragic. Youth are defacing their natural bodies and scarring themselves for life, and medical and educational authorities are helping them do it. Many of these youth will end up sterile, will arrive at age thirty and wonder: “How could they have let me do this to myself?” That this will happen, that it is happening already, is as obvious as Wednesday follows Tuesday.

Would Ahmari, or other conservative writers, get on board with such initiatives as Back to Basics? I’m not sure. But such a movement as I sketch out here, with raucous in-your-face rallies and parents up in arms against our sexually corrupted education system, seems the kind of thing Ahmari is calling for. This is not a rejection of the liberal order, but a rejection of the new gaythoritarianism that is corrupting American culture and endangering American youth.

Check out my Idiocy, Ltd. and begin the long, hard reckoning.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Top Dems Mourn the "Easter worshippers"

“Easter worshippers.” Hats off to Mr. Khachatrian for his graceful call-out. And the truth is, we've had more than enough of such sleights. A constant drumbeat of them.

The linguistic brush-off from Obama and Clinton is carefully calculated and clear as day. Don't think so? Just watch how the whole team takes it up:

These people don't dare sympathize openly with Christian victims. It's against their religion.

Of course the Obama years were rife with this kind of linguistic misdirection. Exhibit 1: Obama almost never referred to religious freedom, but used freedom of worship instead.

Why? "Freedom of worship" suggests that Americans of faith should keep their religion INSIDE their churches or other houses of worship rather than live it in the public sphere. "Freedom of worship" is a not-too-subtle betrayal of our Founders' stronger vision.

The language of our Democratic Party big wigs, even the “Christians” among them, is intentionally corrosive of Christianity. Again, after this horrendous massacre, they pretend to reverence the many victims in Sri Lanka even as they subtly erase them.

Given the persecution of Christians globally (now the world's most persecuted religion by far) Democrats' refusal to even speak the word "Christian" is despicable. #WalkAway


No problem there. Of course not.

Eric Mader

Check out my Idiocy, Ltd. and begin the long, hard reckoning.

Friday, March 29, 2019

After Russiagate: Why the “High Road” Needs to Lead to Orange Jumpsuits

Lying liar John Brennan photographed while lying

The Russiagate scam is finally dead. But it would be a grave mistake to see it as just another example of “partisan politics as usual”. Nothing like it has ever happened before.

The scam was truly massive in scope. It was run through various branches of government simultaneously and included dozens of government officials, from Obama’s CIA chief John Brennan to the FBI’s James Comey down to whiny little Adam Schiff. Many of these officials, repeatedly, lied brazenly to the public about “evidence” they had “seen”. We now know they lied because there never was any evidence.

The Democratic Party’s attempted coup against an elected Republican president involved myriad felonies as well as Deep State attempts to hide those felonies. It’s no exaggeration to say that the actions of this cabal make Watergate look like child’s play.

So how are we to proceed? Many who were not duped by this scam to begin with are now insisting that whatever we do, we must not let Russiagate just drift out of the public consciousness. I think they’re right.

Michael Knowles underlines some of the issues:

Some people in the conservative wing, say that we need to just move on. Just move on, no more investigations, we've had enough — be a better person, just take the high road. There is nothing moral about just moving on. There is nothing on the high road about just moving on. This is not water under the bridge, it would be very wrong to just move on because they haven't apologized. And they are just going to do it again. All these people who lied through their teeth. People who were entrusted with the federal government. People who had the public trust. People who had the public trust as members of the media lied. They didn't just get it wrong. They lied through their teeth and they are totally unapologetic about it and they will do it again.

. . .

This is why it's so important to go after these guys with everything we've got — to bring more investigations, to bring them before judges and to put them into orange jumpsuits. It's not just a bunch of idiots on CNN. It's not just Jim Acosta. It's not just Ron Burgundy on CNN. It's a conspiracy. I don't know how else to put it. Is it a conspiracy when it's true?

We know that the federal government, the Democrats and the media conspired together to push a lie. We know that for a fact. Who exactly committed what improprieties is the next question, and that's what we'll find out with investigations. We know that for a fact, with such institutional support, all of the print media, mainstream media, the Pulitzer Prizes, and all of the accolades of this popular culture, all the way down to our pillars of government, the DOJ and the FBI. All the way down to the longest continually extant political party, the Democrat Party. All the way down to the Barack Obama administration spying on his political opponents, trying to prevent the Republicans from winning the next election. All of these institutions, working together to subvert the rule of law and to lie and to push lies through their teeth. It would be so wrong to just let this go as water under the bridge.

Knowles is right. Starting with Hillary’s server and massive destruction of evidence, moving on to high officials lying through their teeth about “evidence of collusion“ they never in fact saw, lies then blared through a fake news media 24/7 in literally thousands of reports for more than two years—this has been a criminal operation to undermine the Constitution.

Ask yourself: Has our republic faced anything like this in its 240-year history? Figures across different branches of government combining to overthrow a head of state on the basis of flat out lies and repetition of those lies?

No. This is unprecedented.

Given, again, the sheer scope of the scam, a reckoning is necessary. We must go back to re-investigate the Hillary campaign and its role. We need to investigate the FISA warrants, the lies, the seamless collusion with a toothless press corps.

The high road requires those responsible face responsibility for what they’ve done. The Trump Administration and the DOJ should get on it pronto.

A Taipei Mutt is now in print. The Asian capital unmuzzled.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Liberal America: Why You Are A Joke

So it’s nothing. Of course it is. Everyone using their noggin knew it was nothing from the start. Because the claims weren’t even coherent.

America had no need for the Mueller investigation. It was a witch-hunt-cum-smokescreen launched by a pissy Deep State/MSM cabal that couldn’t accept losing an election.

Sorry to blow my horn, but I figured this out before the end of 2016. And I’ve felt nothing but nausea watching half of America pretend for TWO YEARS STRAIGHT to believe something that isn’t even feasible on first glance.

“Trump colluded with Russia to win the White House” was predicated on an impossibility. Namely, that Putin’s government, early to mid-2016, recognized Trump as a serious candidate and potential future president. Which is frankly impossible, given that the sharpest American political analysts, through that whole period, considered the Trump candidacy a non-starter. NO ONE thought he could win the primaries, until he did. NO ONE besides Ann Coulter thought he had even a slight chance. But somehow the Russians knew months earlier? And the Russians were already backing him and even “colluding” with him to beat Hillary, who wasn't yet the official Dem nominee?

It’s incoherent. The whole collusion story, never mind the complete lack of evidence, was never even merely logical.

And now even CNN is admitting the president has been proved right. CNN, the network that spent literally all of 2017 and half of 2018 on “Russia Russia Russia!”

CNN is a farce. Utter joke. And sorry, but all of you who believed for a minute in this transparent two-year gaslighting operation—you are a joke too.

I write this as someone who wasn’t even a Trump supporter for most of 2016. I’d voted Democrat in every election since I reached 18 decades ago. No more. Ever.

I voted Trump in 2016 and will be voting for him again in 2020. He’s done much better than I expected. Meanwhile my former party is offering nothing but shrill political correctness and hysteria. And now openly hates the United States Constitution.

Nonstop unregulated immigration, trans hormones for kids, Jussie Smollett hate crimes, Soviet-style speech codes on campus, the “Green New Deal”—that visionary document written by a teenager—and oh, let's not forget infanticide as a woman's most sacred right.

Left-liberal America: a sick joke on the verge of becoming an entrenched long-term nightmare. David Horowitz got you right: “Inside many liberals is a totalitarian screaming to get out.” Except the word many no longer applies. The word now is most.

#WalkAway #MuellerInvestigation #Gaslighting #Russiagate #JOKE

Eric Mader

Check out my Idiocy, Ltd. and begin the long, hard reckoning.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Rod Dreher's Facebook "Followers"

For years Rod Dreher at The American Conservative has been following the insanity of our sexual left, tracing its juvenile fads and fetishes, documenting its woke Kool-Aid authoritarianism. His blog there also has one of the sharpest groups of regular commenters on the Internet.

But when TAC posts Dreher's pieces on its Facebook page, the commentary is monochrome. Repeatedly, there's a literal horde weighing in within hours to savage him, nearly always in the same exact terms. What's interesting is that these are not garden-variety trolls, I think, but actual readers of TAC who somehow love to loathe Dreher's cultural conservatism. Which reveals something: many of our young "political" conservatives, at least those on Facebook, don't have a moment's patience for religiously grounded critiques of the Sexual Revolution. (Yes, not only "conservatives" follow TAC, but I think it's safe to assume that many of those posting consider themselves one type or another of conservative.)

I'll just post some screenshots from today's salvo. And honestly, this is perhaps the most polite series of comments I've seen this bunch give Dreher in months. Usually the savaging reveals a deeper discomfort--what I read as the fear of many thirty-somethings (?) to be even tangentially linked to someone who might be accused of being a "bigot". Thus, in this group of readers, Dreher simply must be savaged.

I used to engage these threads now and then. I now see it as wasted time, though I did deliver a punch today.

The comments are on a piece in which Dreher formulates a new law of public attention--the Law of Motivated Noticing. These are motivated noticers of a certain type, I'd say--people who can't sit still if anyone dares suggest in their presence that our sexual anti-culture is a civilizational problem. These are noticers who are sadly downstream in the Andrew Breitbart sense.

Oh, and of course:

If mainstream culture and the education system is daily prodding kids to discover they're "trans", if gay men celebrate urinating on each other as a kind of public rite, that's because "people want to be accepted as they are". If you see in such things a glaring sign of anti-culture, you should just take a lesson from Kindergarten (what Kindergarten?) and say nothing. Uh-huh.

Monday, February 4, 2019

My Brother Sohrab Ahmari

Yes, I consider Sohrab Ahmari a brother of sorts. I’ll confess I laughed aloud more than a few times while reading his youthful memoir From Fire, by Water. Part of it was that Ahmari is in ways a laughable sort. Doubtless we’d all be laughable if we dared undertake such brutal self-revelation as he does. But even more than laughing at Ahmari, I laughed because his zigzagging intellectual youth traces my own nearly to a tee. Ahmari’s brave self-interrogation in this book is a mirror in which I was forced to revisit the stages I myself went through. It made me laugh at my younger self.

This coincidence is odd, given the stark difference in our backgrounds. Cultural/geographical: Ahmari’s Tehran childhood vs. my suburban Wisconsin childhood. Generational: Ahmari is a young man, in his 30s; I’m in my 50s.

In common we have the fact that we both became Catholic in the middle of the current decade (2015 for me, 2016 for him). But there’s much more commonality, as you’ll see.

Ahmari’s tale begins with his childhood in the Ayatollah’s Iran. Raised in a middle-class Tehran household by liberal-minded parents who kept their real lives hidden from the regime, Ahmari learned English young and was infected by an admiration for all things Western, especially American. His portrait of the double lives of those around him is sketched with a swift, light touch. Still, the memory of regime menace, always present in the form of school officials and morality police, and his sense of Iran as a land stuck in fatalistic nostalgia, burning with ideological rage, a land “[smelling] of dust mingled with stale rose-water”, clearly mark off the Iran chapters of his book from the intellectually madcap American chapters to follow.

At age 14, Ahmari immigrates with his mother to the US and starts a new life near an uncle in small-town Utah. In a narrative turn that will disappoint many an American patriot (and many a Mormon besides) the young Iranian is horrified by the cultural wasteland he finds himself in. His youthful dreams of the US as intellectually advanced, and deeply secular, are dashed. He’s repulsed by the numbingly shallow conversations Americans engage in when together (cars, sports, bargains, weather); he’s indifferent to his high school’s sports rituals; he’s amazed that his neighbors actually believe the Mormon scriptures; American girls his age are aggressively physical in ways he can’t process. These pages remind me of my own teenage years in Wisconsin. I never could grasp, and still can’t, Americans enthusiasm for sports. (A confession: I have yet to watch a full game of American football from start to finish. Ever. To me “Super Bowl” refers to a vast toilet fixture, one large enough to flush simultaneously both NFL and NBA.)

But just when the disillusioned young Ahmari feels himself going irreversibly sour on America, he one day comes across a copy of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra in a book store. He buys it, takes it home, devours it on his bed, and is reborn. Never a pious Muslim, still disappointed that Americans themselves are so religious, Ahmari declares himself a Nietzschean.

It’s here where I begin to laugh at myself. At age 16, in a Milwaukee book store, hardly knowing their content, I also picked up the hammer of Nietzsche in the form of two slim paperback volumes: The Antichrist and Twilight of the Idols. I took them home and was likewise electrified by what I found. Ahmari’s difference from me here is that he, as an Iranian from the capital, at least had some notion of what a philosopher was. My own milquetoast Midwest education hadn’t even hinted at the existence of such a class of being. My discovery of Nietzsche was thus a double revelation: 1) God was dead, as I’d already suspected; 2) one could use writing, and this thing called “philosophy”, to seize upon the world and maybe even wrench it into different forms.

I followed my purchase of the Nietzsche volumes by building up much the same small library of “existentialist” writers Ahmari did (Camus, Sartre, Dostoyevsky, Kierkegaard) though in my case Colin Wilson’s dour book The Outsider proved key in terms of suggesting new titles and deepening my sense of the crisis. Like Ahmari, as I gather from his hints, I became a brooding verbal scourge at my high school.

Ahmari’s Nietzschean awakening soon gave way, via the “existentialists”, to political engagement and Marxism. For me a similar phase began when I entered the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study Comparative Literature. In 1987, I was sent for a month to Gorbachev’s USSR as a citizen diplomat of sorts. Ahmari ended up studying philosophy and getting involved with a Trotskyite cell. We both at this stage became enamored of the Beats, especially William S. Burroughs.

Citing these parallels may not be very interesting to readers of this review, who may find this intellectual trajectory a bit banal, or common. If so, sorry to bore. But the pace, the motives, the disillusionments—they all ring too familiar. The oddity is that I went through the trajectory starting around 1983, whereas he began his more than a decade later.

Further, some may find this range of philosophical and literary obsessions (Nietzsche, Marxism, William S. Burroughs) bizarre for two men who were to end up Catholic. I don't find it odd in the least.

And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: … “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am going to spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:14-5)

One kernel of truth in this verse from Revelation is the following: those who burn most feverishly against God, who struggle heroically to reject God’s knocking, often only manage to mark themselves out as future faithful. Ahmari was such. His memoir demonstrates that his halting steps toward faith were nearly all made possible by his keen intellectual honesty combined with resistance to that faith. And the fact that grace finally reached him.

Ahmari’s conversion story is the heart of the book. Cracks appear in the confident secularism to which he’d committed himself. He has finished university, begun work as a teacher. From one especially dedicated colleague, whose comportment in life c ontrasts painfully with his own often hungover self, he learns the worth of honesty and resolve. He's nagged more and more by the sense that academic leftist or left-liberal explanations for evil in the world are incoherent, just as he realizes that the identity categories of SJW politics don’t even half explain the dynamics of victim and oppressor in the real world.

He reads more widely, and is impressed by the horrendous failure of all the grand modern projects (particularly Marxism) predicated on the notion that man can be remade according to ideology—or that such remaking can be a recipe for progress. He begins to realize that it's rather the conservative vision, grounded in religious tradition, that makes sense of the arc of history. In fact, contrary to what Marx and Sartre might argue, human nature is both unchangeable and shot through with sin, and will remain so regardless of political revolutions or any new economic dispensation that might be effected. There are, instead, two things necessary. First: attending to human nature as it really is, which means accepting and understanding it with all its fatal flaws. Second: listening to that internal voice that calls in all of us, namely conscience, a voice that insistently prods us whenever we begin to move toward evil or injustice—that even prods us when the injustice we are about to commit has been justified by some utopian political program.

Basic experiential recognitions like these, which come like epiphanies to Ahmari as he continues his work as a teacher, join up with his keen understanding of the centrality of sacrifice in the human condition, and together prepare the way for his recognition of the central Gospel truth re-enacted in the Mass.

I won’t try to describe Ahmari’s pages on what actually happened to him, how he was finally shaken to his depths while attending Mass in New York. His depiction of his doubts, his telling of how the stages each gave way to the next, his final decision to become Catholic and the process of joining the Church—it's all narrated with a compelling honestly that evidences no designs on the reader. One has rather the impression of a very careful observer of self doing his best to explain what that self has lived and seen in the world.

From Fire, by Water is a brave book and, for all its intellectual twists and turns, surprisingly readable. I’ve often read and been impressed by Ahmari’s articles, but this book is something else. I highly recommend it to anyone engaged in current left-wing politics in the US. It will challenge you. Also, of course, Catholics, especially those who’ve been educated in the humanities in recent decades, will get much from the book—perhaps, like me, more than a few laughs.

Order Ahmari’s From Fire, by Water: My Journey to the Catholic Faith.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

What It Does

What it does to you is a thing you would not want done to you. Not by any stretch of the time we fell under the sway of ending.

You’re here and be grateful it’s not you either. Should you see them coming to the end of your tether, look away. That you no longer trust each other they take for granted. They’ll grant it you as a given of their supposedly benign presence. Look away. And think only this: What was is the future we hope for.

Mutterings may console. And who do they expect to fool with these arguments that I for one find utterly persuasive?

We are in the place where all fear the one thing that has happened already.


Check out my Idiocy, Ltd. and begin the long, hard reckoning.