The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

Month: March 2016

Restroom Follies

aliens, bestiality gourmands, man-boy lovers, woman-girl lovers, voluntary amputees, and eunuchs welcome.

traditional source of the law of non-contradiction is Aristotle‘s Metaphysics
where he gives three different versions.

ontological: “It is
impossible that the same thing belong and not belong to the same thing at the
same time and in the same respect.” (1005b19-20)
“No one can believe that the same thing can (at the same time) be and not
be.” (1005b23-24)
logical: “The most certain of all basic
principles is that contradictory propositions are not true simultaneously.”
short, A is A; A cannot be A and non-A (or B) at one and the same time.
did not deal in traditions. Traditions are not a fundamental basis for
establishing facts, politics, art, or even gender. Traditions are
“time-honored” actions or beliefs, which may or may not be worthy of
observation. But they are not philosophy.
today’s culture, a culture that has more or less repudiated Aristotle in its
government, in its culture, and even in “gender identification,” it is possible
for transgenders, gays, and other identity-deficient individuals to believe that they can be one gender and
not what they don’t want to be. This phenomenon is possible only in a culture
of philosophical disintegration.

writer was banned and all records of his past columns “archived” out of public
sight on over
an article he wrote and posted in June of 2015, “The Prancing Unicorn of Bruce Jenner.”   The article criticized Bruce Jenner, who
decided he was Caitlyn Jenner, a woman. He claims he is no longer a man. But
when he undergoes the emasculating surgery that will enable him (and all his
fans) to pretend he is a woman, in fact, he will still be a man, but now a
eunuch. Neither the blog host nor many of the site’s readers, cared for that
logic. As a consequence, I no longer post columns on the site, and no longer
read it.
is the art of non-contradictory identification. Ayn
Rand, the novelist/philosopher wrote succinctly and eloquently on the subject:
All thinking is a process of
identification and integration. Man perceives a blob of color; by integrating
the evidence of his sight and his touch, he learns to identify it as a solid
object; he learns to identify the object as a table; he learns that the table
is made of wood; he learns that the wood consists of cells, that the cells
consist of molecules, that the molecules consist of atoms. All through this
process, the work of his mind consists of answers to a single question: What
is it? His means to establish the truth of his answers is logic, and logic
rests on the axiom that existence exists.
Logic is the art of non-contradictory
. A contradiction cannot exist. An atom is itself, and so is
the universe; neither can contradict its own identity; nor can a part
contradict the whole. No concept man forms is valid unless he integrates it
without contradiction into the total sum of his knowledge. To arrive at a
contradiction is to confess an error in one’s thinking; to maintain a
contradiction is to abdicate one’s mind and to evict oneself from the realm of
are many people in the population now who believe
they are contradictions, and prefer to be contradictions. It’s how they feel. They feel they are one gender but not
the one defined by their physiology, because of their feelings. Feelings, or emotions, emotions they have not bothered to
examine in any meaningful depth, to them are indisputable tools of cognition.
Reality can be whatever they wish it to be. “Gender orientation” is based strictly
on feelings, feelings based on what can only be mental disorders or some severe
forms of neurosis that remain unexamined, uncorrected, and unchallenged by
conventional psychoanalytic wisdom.

Of our American style Stalinism.

chief subject here is not the political mare’s nest that governs local, state,
and federal laws governing discrimination, freedom of assembly or association,
and freedom of speech. These laws are themselves a consequence of statist
premises. It is all part of the same, inexorable process of disintegration. North Carolina’s House Bill II, otherwise known
as the “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act,” has certainly touched
off a reaction among those who favor discrimination in favor of the walking
vehicles of feelings, of the abridging of freedom of speech, of forcing one’s
association, under penalty of law, with people one would not otherwise choose
to associate with, and constraints on speech because the speech – or idea – may
“offend” another or hurt his feelings.

So, I’m
not going to try to sort through whether or not the state had a right to
override local ordinances or whether or not local governments had a right to
pass ordinances governing who shall enter public facilities or restrooms. The Charlotte Observer on March 26th, in its
article, “Understanding HB2: North Carolina’s newest law Solidifies state’s
role in defining discrimination,” neatly synopsized the bill and its
In a one-day specially convened
session Wednesday, North Carolina’s legislature passed a sweeping law that
reverses a Charlotte ordinance that had extended some rights to people who are
gay or transgender.
The law passed by the General
Assembly and signed that same night by Gov. Pat McCrory goes further than a
narrow elimination of Charlotte’s ordinance, which had generated the most
controversy by a change that protected transgender people who use public
restrooms based on their gender identity. The new law also nullified local
ordinances around the state that would have expanded protections for the LGBT
North Carolina’s
new law sets a statewide definition of classes of people who are protected
against discrimination: race, religion, color, national origin, age, handicap
or biological sex as designated on a person’s birth certificate. Sexual
orientation – people who are gay – was never explicitly protected under state
law and is not now, despite recent court decisions that legalized same-sex
people who have not taken surgical and legal steps to change the gender noted
on their birth certificates have no legal right under state law to use public
restrooms of the gender with which they identify. Cities and counties no longer
can establish a different standard. Critics of the Charlotte ordinance cite
privacy concerns and say it was “social engineering” to allow people born as
biological males to enter women’s restrooms.
does not affect existing local or state law governing the “protected” status of
the LGBT tribe; it simply says local ordinances can’t amend or expand the
privileged status of the LGBT tribe.
a gay magazine, claimed in its March 29th article, “
New York, Seattle, San Fran Ban
Travel to North Carolina Over Anti-LGBT Law,” that the North Carolina
law blatantly discriminates against gays:
Pro-LGBT corporations and
government officials have turned their focus toward North Carolina and its’ HB2
after Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal
announced Monday that he would officially veto the state’s impending anti-LGBT
North Carolina’s legislation
would allow discrimination against LGBT individuals and ban trans individuals
from using the bathroom associated with their gender identity. Google,
Facebook, the NBA and the NCAA have all spoken out against the law that was
created in response to the passing of a non-discrimination
ordinance in Charlotte, N.C
speaking of “equality,” that’s for the LGBT tribe, not for heterosexuals.
“It is my hope for our nation
that we do not allow issues of discrimination to divide us. Our union is only
made stronger when all Americans are treated equitably.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have joined forces in their North
Carolina boycott. In an official statement, the
Governor banned nonessential travel to North Carolina
“From Stonewall to
marriage equality, our state has been a beacon of hope and equality for the
LGBT community, and we will not stand idly by as misguided legislation
replicates the discrimination of the past. As long as there is a law in North
Carolina that creates the grounds for discrimination against LGBT people, I am
barring non-essential state travel to that state.”
These bans join a similar one invoked by San Francisco’s Mayor Edwin Lee on
March 25:
“I believe strongly that
we should be adding more protections to prevent discrimination against lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender communities in the United States, not taking them
The key fallacy employed throughout the
whole controversy, which, given the that LGBT “community” can turn ugly and
rancorous, is the notion of “gender identity” vs. “gender at birth,” or the
biological fact of a person’s existence. The New York Times was quick to side
with all the groups, businesses, and organizations that have not given an iota
of thought to the contradiction, if, indeed, they are even aware of.
So, if one were driving a convertible
car, one could wish and fancy that one were driving a Tootsie Roll. Why not?
Reality is malleable. One’s consciousness creates and defines reality. Didn’t
philosophers from Descartes and  Immanuel
Kant forward say this was true?
The Times, in its March 24th story, “North
Carolina Gay Bias Law Draws a Sharp Backlash
,” reported the lemming-like
rush to condemn the state legislature and the legislation.
A day after Gov. Pat McCrory
of North Carolina signed
a sweeping law
eliminating anti-discrimination protections for all
lesbians, gays and bisexuals and barring transgender people from using
bathrooms that do not match the gender they were born with, the battle lines
were clear in a bitterly divided state.
On social media and in public
rallies, civil rights groups, businesses and politicians expressed dismay at
the law, which was passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed
by the governor within just 12 hours during a hasty special session on
American Airlines, which
employs 14,000 people in the state and has its second largest hub in Charlotte,
along with other companies with operations in the state, including Apple, Dow
Chemical, PayPal, Red Hat and Biogen, all issued statements critical of the new

The object of the boycott is not so much to protest the
North Carolina law, as to punish anyone who does not conform to the “settled
science.”  It has been established that
one can change one’s gender at will, and demand that others recognize one’s
homosexuality, lesbianism, and transgender status as “normal” and
uncontroversial. Heterosexuality itself is being automatically labeled as a
form of  “bigotry,” just as whites are
being labeled bigoted against blacks by the fact of their “whiteness.”

Truth Revolt carried
this story on March 30th about the latest episode of the American version of a
Stalinist purge: “Conservative
Prof Must Confess ‘Guilt’ for His Political Views or Be Fired.”
The subheading read: “
Deems his views ‘reckless and
incompatible with the mission and values of Marquette University and you [must]
express deep regret for the harm’ they’ve caused.”
Because one of its professors defended a student’s view of
traditional marriage against a leftist philosophy instructor deeming it
homophobic, Marquette University has threatened the conservative professor’s
job unless he confesses “guilt” for being “reckless” and
causing “harm” to the offended instructor.
This incident dates back to November of 2014, when Professor John
McAdams wrote a blog
chiding instructor Cheryl Abbate for trying to silence one of her
students by telling him “some opinions are not appropriate.” The
exchange was secretly recorded by the student and McAdams was able to hear what
was said and included those quotes in his blog.
In her “Theory of Ethics” class, Abbate was going
through a list of political issues for discussion and when she came to
“gay rights,” she brazenly stated, “Everybody agrees on this,
and there is no need to discuss it.” The conservative student took issue
with this and confronted her about it after class, telling her he disagrees
with many of the tactics of the gay lobby, especially when it comes to pushing
same-sex marriage and gay adoption. 

The politically
correct speech enforcer, according to the article, has left Marquette for
another teaching – or brainwashing – position, but Marquette is now punishing Professor
But now Marquette, listed as
a Catholic university, is bringing charges against McAdams for his blog
post and a so-called diverse faculty committee has recommended his suspension
without pay through the fall of 2016 first, and then his position terminated if
he doesn’t confess “deep regret” for damages to Ms. Abbate.
Hitler would have been proud, too, of our political
correctness enforcers.

The next step would be a
show trial in the “tradition” of a Soviet prelude to execution. Already “global
warmists” are calling for the execution of climate change “deniers.” The fact
is that the “deniers” have never denied that climate never changes. They have
demonstrated that climate changes all the time, and has changed over four or so
billion years, even when the human race did not exist.

The piling
on of North Carolina over HB2 by every anti-logic, anti-reason individual and group
now in existence is symptomatic of a vitriolic hatred of anyone who does not
conform to the collectivist, totalitarian notion of reality. It is not the
first time this has shown its ugly face, and it will not be the last.

A Walking Jihadist Postscript

What follows are
expanded notes from Negan
and the Walking Jihadists
, plus further observations by me and by an
anonymous correspondent who has also watched the series.

I noted in Negan and the Walking Jihadists:
…In literature, while there is a
limited amount of malevolence one can accept in fiction, it is not, or should
not be, a permanent, unlimited feature; a continual presence of evil or of a malevolent
character or theme can dull one’s brain and make one indifferent or hostile to
any and all values.  In a story, evil or
malevolence must be defeated at some point and rendered impotent. If it is not foiled
and made powerless, but instead becomes a continuous presence and a driving
theme in a story, then there is no point in contemplating the story any
This is basically
the state of literature and art today. There is little respite from the
malaise. One finds relief where one can.  Where can one turn in a dying culture in which
the grotesque, such as The Walking Dead, is the norm?  Where does one turn when even the mitigating
attributes of the grotesque, such as the heroism of some of the players, are
going to be diminished if not outright extinguished? For that is what is going
to happen in The
Walking Dead
, and when it does, my TV screen will go blank.
In today’s
culture, the moral – that is, the rationally moral – is regarded as the
impractical, as the unjust, as wrong. It is regarded as an affront to hold
another person to a moral standard and to call for justice, either for his good
actions or his evil actions.
The almost
drooling anticipation in many of the series’ fans of the debut of Negan in the
finale of Season Six of The Walking Dead, which I have been watching as a
dramatization of emergency ethics in an apocalyptic world, is not flattering to
those fans. I sense that the writers and directors of The Walking Dead are
going to at least partially pander to fans’ appetites for brutality and gore
and a kind of nihlistic fireworks. Which means that I would stop watching the
Many strong
characters emerged over the six seasons, chief among them, at least from my
moral and esthetic tastes, Carol
(played by Melissa
) and Daryl
(played by Norman
Carol’s character
blossomed from a self-effacing housewife with a brute of a husband (who dies
early on) into an efficacious dreadnaught of a zombie fighter and a moralist
who finds values to fight for outside of her formerly shrunken realm of
domestic chores. Daryl’s character evolved from an ambiguous, brash,
loud-mouthed, back-country redneck to a man of quiet, understated moral
certitude and honesty.
But they may be
sacrificed to the irrational demands of the series’ fans.
A bellwether
indication of the direction the series is taking now is in the character of Morgan
, played by British actor and playwright, Lennie James, who in a
very long, special episode is depicted as being converted to some pacifist
philosophy of life – actually a martial art – Aikido, by a recluse. It is
called “The Art of Peace,” one of whose tenets are that “All life is precious.”
 Morgan is taught that bringing justice
to a criminal does not give one “peace.” A criminal who has slaughtered
countless people is somehow redeemable. He can be allowed to go on living, even
though his victims are dead.
Morgan encounters
the Wolves, looters
and killers. He easily defeats
– but does not kill them – and leaves them unconscious in an abandoned
car, safe and sound. He encounters them again in a later episode, and again lets
them go,
who go on to kill again. Because “all life is precious,” and the
killers can “change.” They can become “good” people and blameless with no blood
on their hands.
One of the things
that shocked me in the Star Wars
movie, Return of the Jedi, was the
denouement, in which Darth Vader,  a.k.a.
 Anikin Skywalker, the incarnation of
evil, was elevated to the pantheon of Jedi sainthood because he saved his son,
Luke, from the evil emperor. Here was a character who had blown up planets and
killed millions of people in his career before he died, yet he was forgiven.  At the end of the episode, “
Yoda, and the redeemed
[are] watching over them.”
Carol Peletier
apparently has been influenced by the pacifist philosophy of Morgan Jones. In
the last two episodes of the series she begins to express doubts about killing
men who are killing or are capable of killing her friends. From out of nowhere,
she produces Catholic worry-beads or a rosary, even while her hands are secured
together with duct tape. (It isn’t clear if she found the rosaries on the floor
of where she was being held hostage, or if they had been on her possession all the
Melissa McBride as Carol, and Norman Reedus as Daryl
Abruptly feeling
remorse, without any warning to viewers and in contradiction to the series story
line, Carol writes a note to one of the characters that she is leaving the safe
zone of Alexandria. It is addressed to everyone living in the zone:
“I wish it didn’t have to end,
not this way. It was never my intention to hurt you, but this is how it has to
be. We have so much here—people, food, medicine, walls – everything we need to
live. But what we have, other people want, too. And that will never change. If we
survive this threat [from the Negan gang] it’s not over and another one will
take its place, to take what we have. I love you all here. I do. And I’d have
to kill for you. And I can’t. I won’t. Rick sent me away and I wasn’t ever
going to come back (from an earlier “safe zone”], but everything happened and I
wound up staying. But I can’t anymore. I can’t love anyone because I can’t kill
for anyone. So I’m going as I always should have. Don’t come after me, please.”
The note is
basically a capitulation to the irrational. After all her fearless fights, she
has had enough of fighting, even though she knows that for as long as
irrational killers are out there, there will always be a conflict with the
irrational. To fight for her values is no longer possible for her. But, to
refuse to fight for her values, is, in effect, to surrender those values to the
irrational. Carol has written what amounts to be a suicide note.
My anonymous “pen
pal” wrote me, and left on a fan blog site, Verge,
this comment:
It’s a miserable
thing to watch a favorite character being destroyed by his or her creators.
I’ve seen that more than I care to and it appears that may be what is happening
to the great Carol Peletier. To watch a timid, abused woman grow into an
implacable protector of the good and then be brought down by guilt-inducing
religious mysticism is inexcusable. Shame on the TWD writers
if that is what they are doing.
I replied:

Having just watched “Twice as
Far,” and Carol’s goodbye note to Tobin and everyone else, if the
scripters kill her off, I’m done with TWD. If they somehow compromise or kill
of Daryl, I’m double done with TWD. Carol’s “leaving” the story
because she can’t kill people who are trying to kill her or the people she
values, is a dead end, as far as I’m concerned. To hell with the rosary, and
the implied pacifism of Carol. Bad turn in the series. We want heroes, not
characters who are angst-ridden about defending their values.
My correspondent
noted further, about the Season
How they deal with
the pure evil
of Negan
is going to be a turning point. I think we can wave Glenn goodbye
because his character arc has pretty much hit cruise control and Maggie is
taking over as the family badass. That’s going to be tough to watch, and if
it’s going to be as dark as everyone’s saying there has to be a lot more of the
same. Confronting that level of evil requires defining values precisely and
making an absolute commitment to defend them. If they waffle on that out of
fear of “becoming like Negan”, then I’m through with them as well.
Melissa McBride,
who plays Carol, got a preview of Season Six’s finale and said that she felt
she had fallen into a “black
I left this comment to my correspondent and on Verge:

I have a bad feeling that Carol’s “getting religion” is going to be
the death of her. I have no idea why the scripters decided to wussify her. She
and Daryl are the only two characters I have any empathy for. In reality and in
fiction, you can’t defend the ones you love by refusing to kill those who
intend on killing them. It’s like the Belgians’ “arrangement” with
Islamic jihadists, who promised not to kill anyone. You don’t declare a detente
with killers.
You don’t say,
“All life is precious” when the killers don’t value life, not even
their own lives. You’re the one with the values to defend, you’re the one who
wants to live. In war, you extinguish the killers when they show their faces,
before they extinguish you. You extinguish them before they take more lives you
may not even know. I do not look forward to the debut of Negan. It appears he’s
a thorough-going nihilist and evil to the core. When he shows up, I’m quits with
TWD. It seems that the scripters are pandering to viewers who want Negan. I’m
not one of them. TWD was a great dramatization of how men can conduct
themselves as emergency ethics. I don’t need Negan. We have the kill-happy
Islamists in the real world. Why would I want it in fiction, unless it was
defeated forthwith?
My correspondent
… I can’t come up with anything
additional. Checked some fan sites — one in German, big help that was — and
everything seems to be speculation over who gets the Lucille treatment [Negan
has named his barbed wire baseball bat, “Lucille”] from Negan. There is a
constant thread of what a “great” character Negan is because he’s
totally evil but so “complex… I’m not interested in
“complicated” people who steal, kill, rape, and beat innocent people
to death to instill fear. I’m interested in “complicated” people who
beat hell out of the bad guys, though I’ll take uncomplicated ones in a pinch.
There is speculation that Daryl will be the one to get Lucille’d, but unless
Reedus has come up with some reason to leave the show, I doubt it. Daryl’s
character arc isn’t anywhere near finished. Neither is Carol’s, but it would
indeed be “heartbreaking” if she were the one….
Carol’s note is
not an expression of cowardice. Rather, it is an expression of hopelessness. The
tireless fighter for values has grown tired, exhausted, discouraged. Perhaps she
is even traumatized. Trauma is a state of paralysis. Her solution is to stop
having values worth defending. It is a sentence of death.
Evil never seems
to stop attacking. So, let it come.
But evil is not a
metaphysical necessity in one’s life. This is a lesson she has never learned from
any of the other characters, not in the whole series. None of the “good”
characters has learned it. The scriptwriters have “martyred” Carol’s character
in a grotesque TV series in a surrender to their own nihilism.

Negan and The Walking Jihadists

Who or what is
Negan is a vile, evil character
who will debut in April at the end of Season Six of The
Walking Dead.
Negan is a brutal tyrant who lords over an enclave of plague
survivors and likes to smash victims’ heads with a baseball bat sheathed in
barbed wire. He has a policy of extortion that requires other, productive
enclaves to give him half of what they have in exchange for his not raiding,
raping, enslaving, and killing their inhabitants and trashing their
As one of their
spokesmen said to others in an earlier teaser scene: “Everything you own now
belongs to Negan.” His group or gang is called The Saviors. Negan’s crew are
dedicated nihilists.
The comic book Negan, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan

Negan could be
taken as a metaphor for the Obama administration, or for Islamic jihadists.
Both entities are looters, plunderers, and destroyers.

Advisory: I am
not a “zombie” fan or aficionado by any means. Out of desperation to watch
anything of interest on Netflix, I tried the first episodes of The Walking Dead
and found them intriguing in the personal conflicts and character growth of
many of the characters. Nor am I enamored of the original and ongoing graphic
comics rendition of the series, written by Robert
. The artwork in the comics is crude and without any redeeming value
whatsoever, and the storyline in the dialogue is banal, naturalistic, if not
repellant. Fortunately, the AMC TV series does not follow the graphic comics’
The similarities
between Negan and his Savior underlings and Islam and Muslims are striking to
those observant enough to see the parallels and not afraid to point them out.
The Islamic Negan has been raiding, killing, and trashing Western societies for
decades. Note the latest raid in Brussels.
Often these Negan jihadists and invaders are invited into these societies for a
variety of political and economic reasons.  Daniel Greenfield as Sultan Knish wrote, and
warned, in 2010, in his column, “Immigration
,” and the incremental and inevitable Islamization of Austria:
Where once upon a time Islamic
armies had to lay siege, plant gunpowder charges and finally breach the walls
in massive costly charges– today they can simply hop a plane. And so what
started out as a few newspaper vendors, factory workers and janitors, morphed
into a full blown cultural invasion complete with a network of Islamic schools
where students are taught that Islam is incompatible with democracy, that
Muslims are superior to non-Muslims, and where 8.5 percent of the teachers
surveyed said that it is understandable when violence is used to spread Islam.
The pattern however is not limited to Vienna, it exists worldwide…..
But like any takeover in which
the enemy is allowed inside the gates, it could not happen without the active
collaboration of those on the inside. And they have their various motivations.
Left of center politicians and parties often expect that Muslim immigrants will
serve as a reliable voting base for them, and they are correct about that—in the
short term. Meanwhile more middle of the road pols see rising population
figures as a regional net benefit and a shot at elevating their own political
importance, without examining the consequences down the road. Companies are
always on the lookout for cheap labor, and particularly in countries and areas
with a low birth rate, there are always some dirty jobs that need doing. The
jobs that Americans, Austrians, Frenchmen, Israelis and Norwegians don’t want
to do. But those same jobs are also part of the critical infrastructure of a
local economy. And by capturing them, they capture the base processes by which
the system exists.
The production
values of the TV series, however, are first-rate and profit from a first-class
cast, half of whose principal actors, one learns to one’s astonishment, are
British. Most of the characters are supposed to hail from twangy Georgia. But,
not a vowel of tea-and-crumpets escapes their dialogue.
However, in
literature, while there is a limited amount of malevolence one can accept in
fiction, it is not, or should not be, an unlimited feature; a continual
presence of evil or of a malevolent character or theme can dull one’s brain and
make one hostile to any and all values.  In
a story, evil or malevolence must be defeated at some point and rendered
impotent. If it is not foiled and made powerless, but instead becomes a
continuous presence and theme in a story, then there is no point in
contemplating the story any further.
This is basically
the state of literature and art today. There is little respite from the malaise.
One finds relief where one can.
That is what is
going to happen in The Walking Dead, and when it does, off will go my screen.
The almost
drooling anticipation in many of the series’ fans of the debut of Negan in the
finale of Season Six of The Walking Dead, which I have been watching as a
dramatization of emergency ethics in an apocalyptic world, is not flattering to
those fans. I sense that the writers and directors of The Walking Dead are
going to at least partially pander to fans’ appetites for brutality and gore.
Which would mean that I stop watching the series. 

Many strong
characters emerged over the six seasons, chief among them, at least from my
moral and esthetic tastes, Carol
(played by Melissa
) and Daryl
(played by Norman

Carol’s character
blossomed from a self-effacing housewife with a brute of a husband (who dies
early on) into an efficacious dreadnaught of a zombie fighter who finds values
to fight for outside of her formerly shrunken realm of domestic chores.

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, and Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, The Walking Dead’s most heroic characters.

The character of
Daryl evolved from an ambiguous, loud-mouthed, back-country redneck to one of
moral certitude and honesty.
A bellwether
indication of the direction the series is taking now is in the character of Morgan
, played by British actor and playwright, Lennie James, who in a
very long episode is depicted as being converted to some pacifist philosophy of
life – actually a martial art – Aikido,
by a recluse. It is called “The Art of Peace,” in which “All life is precious.”
Morgan encounters
the Wolves, looters
and killers. He easily defeats
– but does not kill them – and leaves them unconscious in an abandoned
car, safe and sound. He encounters them again in a later episode, and again lets
them go,
who go on to kill again. Because “all life is precious,” and the
killers can “change.”
What is the difference
between the Negans of fiction and the Negans of the real world? The fiction
will not kill you. The real ones can and will. As happened in Paris and
Brussels and New York City and dozens of other places over decades. There are
dozens of Koranic verses for violence
that the fictional Negans could just as well adopt, such as:

An Islamic Negan: Kill them, slay them, take what is theirs.

“When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, then, when you have made
wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by
grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads. So it shall be; and if Allah
had willed, He would have avenged Himself upon them; but that
He may try some
of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will
not send their works astray.”
2:191-193: “And slay them wherever you
come upon them, and expel them from where they expelled you; persecution is
more grievous than slaying. But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they
should fight you there; then, if they fight you, slay them — such is the
recompense of unbelievers, but if they give over, surely Allah is
Angela Merkel,
the French, the Swedes, the Danes, and other European countries welcomed the
hordes of barbarians into their countries because they believed that “all life
is precious.” Substitute Allah for “Negan” and you get the horrifying idea that
Muslims do not regard all life as precious, especially not the lives of
infidels. If Allah can will it, so can Negan. These are the Negan Jihadists.

Review: Radical by Nature

At the outset, I
will admit that this review of Thomas McCaffrey’s seminal book on the history
of and devastation wrought by environmentalism from its earliest days to the
present, Radical
by Nature: The Green Assault on Liberty, Property, and Prosperity
cannot begin to do it justice. As I underscored the importance of Lisa McGirr’s
groundbreaking book, The
War on Alcohol
, about how Prohibition fostered the growth of the pervasive,
all-encompassing State, I can only point with some humility to the heavy
lifters of these two books and to the stellar and indefatigable efforts of
their authors to bring their works to fruition and to the public eye.

Radical by Nature could easily be retitled, The War on Man. McCaffrey begins his history and exposé of the
whole environmentalist movement, from olden times and brings it up to the
present. With meticulous detail, a compelling narrative, and abundant
documentation, he paints the anti-man, anti-civilization trends and motives
behind the environmentalist movement in all its variegated forms.
From the
Publisher, Stairway Press: 
Environmentalism is a good idea
that gets carried to a bad extreme on occasion by a few radicals. This is the
standard critique of environmentalism—and
it is false
It echoes my own
position on “radical Islam” (a fatal redundancy, to be sure). The press release
goes on to say that environmentalism:
…is not a benign set of ideas
promulgated by well-meaning idealists whose efforts are occasionally hijacked
by extremists. It is a radical ideology that is moving inexorably toward its
logical, entirely predictable conclusion.
McCaffrey writes
on his Amazon page, and this cannot be overemphasized. We are not dealing with
Girl Scouts or mentally “challenged” do-gooders:
Environmentalism is not about
reducing pollution to manageable levels, as most Americans believe. It is about
eradicating it completely, even if it means eradicating industrialism in the
bargain, a process that is already well under way. It is not about conserving
marginal amounts of energy by devising more efficient light bulbs and car
engines. It is about eliminating our use of fossil fuels and replacing them
with far smaller quantities of energy from wind and solar, even though this
will cripple our economy. It is not about preserving a few tracts of scenic
landscape here and there, as in our national parks and wildernesses. It is
about channeling all new development into already existing urban centers and
then preserving the vast majority of our land in its natural state. Expect the
familiar call for mass transit to be accompanied one day soon by calls for mass
housing. (See my article, “Global
Urban Renewal
Environmentalism does not aspire
to make a few adjustments to a capitalist industrial system grounded in the
rights of individuals. It aspires to abolish that system entirely and to
replace it with one based on government command and control. We tried
individual freedom, say the environmentalists, and it brought us to the brink
of environmental destruction. Now freedom is a luxury we can no longer afford.
Environmentalism will vastly
diminish our comfort, health, wealth, safety, and security from foreign
enemies, and it will ultimately deliver us to tyranny….
That “predictable
conclusion,” in short, is nothing less than the obliteration of individual
rights and of private property, and the institutional regimen of enforced
impoverishment of Americans and of people around the globe – in the name of
climate “stability,” in the name of the new god, “Mother Earth.”
McCaffrey begins
at the logical place to discuss environmentalism vs. natural rights, to
establish his premises on which to later argue against environmentalism and for individual and property rights –
with the English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) and with the Founders. He
devotes the very first chapter of Radical
to the ideational innovations of John
Locke’s Second Treatise (1690) changed the course of
political philosophy. The idea of natural rights was new in the history
of mankind.
Locke started from the idea of a
“state of nature.” If there were no government, if men lived in a state of
nature relative to each other, there would still be right and wrong, things men
ought and ought not to do. Locke referred to these moral principles
collectively as the “law of nature.” The means that men have to discover this
natural law is their faculty of reason. Locke said that the law of nature is
reason. Or, as Jerome Huyler has suggested, the fundamental moral tenet
implicit in Locke’s conception of natural law is “follow reason.” (p. 11)
Locke wrote:
And Reason, which is that Law [of nature],
teaches all Mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal
and independent, no one ought to harm
another in his Life, Health, Liberty, or Possessions.
(pp. 11-12)
In a subsequent
chapter, McCaffrey discusses the debt of political philosophy John Adams and
Thomas Jefferson owed Locke. Adams wrote:
Adams was clear that liberty and
property are inseparable. He wrote: 

Res Populi, and the original
meaning of the word republic … had more relation to property than liberty. It
signified a government, in which the property of the public, or people, and
every one of them, was secured and protected by law. This idea, indeed, implies
liberty; because property cannot be secure unless the man be at liberty to
acquire, use, or part with it, at his discretion, and unless he have his
personal liberty of life and limb, motion and rest, for the purpose. It
implies, moreover, that the property and liberty of all men, not merely of a
majority, should be safe; for the people, or public, comprehends more than a
majority, it comprehends all and every individual.
McCaffrey writes
of Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence:
Liberty, in turn, is inseparable from
property; Adams was as aware of this as John Locke had been. The American
Founders’ commitment to individual liberty is nowhere more clearly expressed
than in the Declaration of Independence.
We hold these
truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are
endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments
are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the
governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these
ends it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new
Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers
in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and
It would be difficult to compose a more
concise and eloquent summary of Locke’s political philosophy than this. All the
more curious, then, is Jefferson’s substitution of “pursuit of Happiness” for
“property” in the familiar trio of rights. (pp. 35-36)
McCaffrey devotes
several pages to Jefferson’s curious but anomalous substitution of “the pursuit
of happiness” for “property.” This is no light-weight discussion of important
principles and historical precedents. The author maintains this level of
intellectual acuity throughout the work. (Parenthetically, and historically, it
may have been John Adams or Benjamin Franklin who made the substitution as they
emended Jefferson’s document, with Jefferson’s agreement. The Princeton
discussion here about the Declaration’s rough draft is one of several such
Jumping far ahead
to McCaffrey’s discussion of the assault on reason and reality by the
Pragmatists and the Progressive, he writes:
In its early years,
Progressivism drew heavily upon the philosophical movement called Pragmatism.
Three Americans composed the core of the Pragmatic movement in philosophy,
Charles S. Peirce (1839–1914), William James (1842-1910), and John Dewey
(1859-1952). Among the services these men provided to progressivism was a
redefinition of what constitutes truth. (p. 112)
And what did the
Pragmatists seek to achieve? McCaffrey writes:

To men who could
write “We hold these Truths to be self-evident,” the meaning of the word
“truth” is clear; a statement is true if it corresponds with the facts of
reality. This is the correspondence theory of truth, and it goes back to
Aristotle. “To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is
false; to say of what is that it is, or of what is not that it is not, is
true.” This definition of truth is based on the assumptions that something
exists, that man can know this something, and that truth is a correspondence
between what a man knows and what this something in fact is. (pp. 112-113)
The Pragmatists,
however, would disagree with a simple statement that “it is raining”:

“It is raining” would not mean that actual drops of
water are actually falling from an actual sky. For the pragmatist, the
“meaning” of a proposition is not some objective fact of reality but, rather,
the subjective experiences that men come to associate with that
proposition. (p. 113)
continues about the Pragmatist’s treatment of rain:
For the pragmatist,
this means that if I were to go outside, I would see drops of water
falling from the sky, feel drops of water hitting my skin, hear drops
of water hitting the ground, taste water on my tongue, and undergo
myriad other experiences that I would come to associate with the statement, “It
is raining.” The sum total of these experiences would be the meaning of
“It is raining” for the pragmatist. “It is raining” would not mean that actual
drops of water are actually falling from an actual sky. For the pragmatist, the
“meaning” of a proposition is not some objective fact of reality but, rather,
the subjective experiences that men come to associate with that
proposition. (pp. 113-114)
In another vein,
a Pragmatist would itemize all his experiences about a duck and conclude he
observed a duck: “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a
duck, then it probably is a duck.”  His
abductive reasoning, likely adjudicated by the “probability theory,”
however, would be invalid if even one of those observations or experiences was
absent. In reality, the duck would actually exist, even without the
Pragmatist’s observations. To a Pragmatist, if his “experiences” are in the
least skewed, he might conclude he was seeing an elephant, and he would need to
start all over again to reach a “probable” truth.

Depending on his “experiences,” a Pragmatist may conclude this is an elephant.

McCaffrey hits
another stride by tracing of the evolution of the late 19th and early 20th
century conservation movements to environmentalism. He discusses the
intellectual underpinnings of conservation and the resulting fascination with
“natural nature,”
Progressivism aimed to expand
the power of government in the United States. In the later decades of the
nineteenth century there appeared a number of individuals and groups who
prefigured Progressivism in this respect, who aimed specifically to extend the
power of government to manage the nation’s forests, waterways, wildlife, and
even its scenic beauty. Around the turn of the century, these resource
protection groups would coalesce into a larger movement that comprehended all
their respective goals under the heading of “conservation.” And, because all of
these groups aimed, to one extent or another, to expand government power, they were easily absorbed into the larger
Progressive movement
….(p. 202; Italics
The chief proponents
of conservation were George Perkins Marsh, George Bird Grinnell, John Wesley
Powell, and Gifford Pinchot. Each of these men, in private and in a government
capacity, advocated the expansion of federal lands and the adoption of
conservation policies. McCaffrey writes:
When Progressivism
arrived on the scene, about 1890 or so on the local level, and Progressives
began to hammer away at the constitutional protection of property rights, their
efforts helped to clear the way for just the sort of government intervention on
behalf of resource protection that the various resource guardians had been
promoting for years. Although many of the resource-protection efforts predated
the advent of Progressivism, after 1890 many of the more prominent advocates of
conservation were themselves Progressives. It was no coincidence that the most
prominent conservationist of them all, Theodore Roosevelt, ended his political
career as an arch-Progressive. By the end of Roosevelt’s second term,
conservation would come to be identified as an integral part of the broader
Progressive movement. (pp. 240-241)
The principal aim
of the early conservationists was to remove Federal forests from any kind of
development or exploitation by private interests. It was, frankly, to remove
these lands from economic realities and to bar any private individual interests
from interfering with the designs of “nature’s” appointive and self-appointive
By the time
Roosevelt left office in 1909, there would be 149 forest reserves covering
193,000,000 acres. By then, the federal government would no longer be just a
temporary owner whose primary purpose was to transfer federal lands to private
citizens; it would be a permanent owner and manager of a vast forest empire,
and Pinchot would be instrumental in effecting the transformation. Pinchot once
said that government needed to be run more like a business. This would have
made little sense to the men of 1789 with their idea of limited government, but
for a government determined to manage a nation’s natural resources, it did made
a certain sense, and in his management of the National Forests Pinchot showed
how to do it. (pp. 245-246)

McCaffrey writes:
With Theodore
Roosevelt’s leaving office in 1908, centrally organized conservation began to
wane, although the idea of conservation, and a great many of the government
initiatives and private organizations would prove lasting. The conservation movement
continued to influence events right up until the 1950s and 60s, when it would
be subsumed by a new movement called environmentalism. (p. 249)
Part III of Radical is
devoted almost entirely to the growth and establishment of environmentalism as
an official government policy. McCaffrey delves in detail into the National
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the Wars on Energy and the Auto, the various
Wars on virtually every product of an industrial civilization (e.g., nuclear
energy, oil, shale production), all of which, to oblige our “guardians” of the
environment, must come under stringent control, regulation, or even appropriation
– i.e., seizure – by the government, not so much anymore, for the “public
good,” but for the environment qua environment, shorn of any human interest or
value. Any one of the subjects discussed by the author would deserve a
book-length treatment.

The Environmentalists’ imaginary capitalist nightmare and
bogeyman; a city of darkened skies and perpetual rain. A still from Blade Runner (1982). But, this is exactly the kind of world the Progressives, Environmentalists,
and other GlobalistPlanners wish to force men into:  a
society in which men are pressed together in undifferentiated masses with no
privacy, no freedom, and no prospect of escape from the city or from each other.

Personally, the most salutary demonstration of the “environmental”
mind set for me was news of the fate of the Galileo spacecraft that was
launched in 1989 and was deliberately obliterated in September 2003.
I remember emailing NASA, when it was decided to destroy the Galileo
orbiter, which had been circling Jupiter between 1995 and 2003, by sending it
to be vaporized in Jupiter’s atmosphere. I asked why the spacecraft could not
just be left to orbit the planet indefinitely, as a token of man’s achievement,
as evidence its existence. I could not believe the explanations I had read in
the newspapers.
Someone at NASA replied to my query, writing that Galileo, which had
run out of maneuvering fuel, might crash into Io or another Jovian moon, and contaminate it with terrestrial microbes.
This was after being in space for fourteen years and continuously subjected to
life-killing cosmic rays and radiation from Jupiter. The explanation defied
reason. Yes, the NASA respondent replied to me with some indignation: Galileo
might despoil the pristine lifelessness of Io or another moon with man-made microbes!
And that was a bad thing,
remote as the likelihood of contamination was on any of the moons? Microbe-carrying
meteors, comets, and asteroids, regularly crash into all the solar bodies,
including Earth, our own moon, Mars, Titan and other bodies. That is somehow permissible.
But risk a man-made object ruin one of those bodies?
Out of the question! Man may not leave his mark anywhere. He must be
erased out of existence, as though he had never been there.
On Earth, as well as on the toxic, sulfur-coated moon Io or on the
frozen, cosmic ray bathed plains of Ganymede.
Radical by Nature is a
veritable treasure trove of information on the deleterious consequences of man-hating
environmentalism. When people celebrate “Earth Day,” it is not man’s place on
Earth that they are marking. The “extremists” among them are hoping for man’s
For your own edification, to bolster your own certitude that you are
right in the knowledge that environmentalists are as mortal your enemies as are
Islamic jihadists, I urge readers to read Thomas McCaffrey’s indictment of
environmentalists and environmentalism.
by Nature: The Green Assault on Liberty, Property, and Prosperity
, by
Thomas J. McCaffrey.  Las Vegas, NV:
Stairway Press, 2016. 580 pp.

Review: The War on Alcohol

Lisa McGirr’s scholarly
but hard-hitting and thoroughly documented exposé of the role of Prohibition in
its contribution to the cancerous growth of statism, The War on Alcohol: Prohibition
and the Rise of the American State
, should be the touchstone of all future
studies and analyses of why the country is in such poor shape. This is the State
we recognize today, the one that
demonizes smoking with bogus statistics and ubiquitous propaganda yet depends
on and collects revenue on tobacco sales, the one that demonizes “recreational
drug” use but prohibits pharmaceutical companies from perfecting and releasing
life-saving drugs, the one that criminalizes private gun ownership by private
citizens and would leave them defenseless against gun-toting criminals who do
not care about the law and who will always get guns.

This is the State
whose entrenched educational political establishments work to mold all
Americans into docile, obedient ciphers and drones, but whose experts and
managers feel themselves exempt from their own “social engineering” imperatives
and expect to be indemnified against disastrous consequences of their failed
policies. This is the State that will fine property owners for draining
mosquito-infested bogs or seize their property so that corporations can build
“environmentally friendly” headquarters, or so that some “endangered” or “protected”
animal species can thrive. This is the State that will chip away at one’s
freedom of speech, and keep American blacks on the welfare “plantation” in the
name of entitlements and “compassion.”
Our current,
post-Prohibition, super- State has a vested interest in continuing its policies
even when they are proven, costly, and destructive failures. Look at solar
energy. Look at wind-powered towers. Look at light bulbs. Look at what McGirr
called the federal “penal state,”
created by Herbert Hoover and which has exploded to dozens of prisons today with hundreds
of thousands of inmates, many of them sentenced for having violated arbitrary
federal laws.
McGirr, a
professor of history at Harvard, deftly knits together all the contributing
factors leading, first, to Prohibition and the enactment of the 18th Amendment,
then to all the salient influences that led to the repeal of the 18th Amendment
some fourteen years later. The Amendment, otherwise known as the Volstead Act,
was passed in September 1919, and went into effect on January 16, 1920. Between
passage and repeal the county rode a heady and often violent carousal of
defiance and criminal enterprise, of property destruction and death, of terror
from government “revenuers” and vigilante Prohibition enforcers ranging from
righteous “volunteer” Volstead armies to a deputized Ku Klux Klan.
The War on Alcohol is an eye-opener. It does not dwell on the Jazz Age or
flappers or the Charleston. It focuses on the 19th century origins of the
temperance movement, such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the
Anti-Saloon League. The temperance movement was a copasetic fellow traveler
with the Progressive Movement, which aimed at creating a “just” society of
egalitarianism dominance over Americans with the muscle of the State.
In the name of
the “noble experiment” of enforced sobriety and “clean living,” the State
created a monster in itself and in the fostering of nearly invincible criminal
gangs and cartels.
In a Facebook
posting in which recommended McGirr’s book, I touched on one of her central
revelations that explains yesterday and explains today:
the book I’m reviewing, “The War on Alcohol,” by Lisa McGirr, what is
happening now parallels what happened in 1928: Droves of life-long Republicans
switched to the anti-Prohibition candidate and Democrat Al Smith because most
people wanted repeal of the 18th Amendment. Al Smith was the unbeatable spoiler
because he voiced the sentiments of the “common man.”
see the same thing happening here today. Life-long Democrats are switching to
the “GOP” and Donald Trump, even in Congress. That’s because most
Americans sense that the “same ‘ole, same ‘ole” policies of
establishment Democrats and Republicans offer nothing but continued decline,
corruption, and socialist policies. Democrat FDR capitalized on this and
defeated Smith in the run-up to the 1932 nomination and election. Smith was a
mixed bag, but FDR was a statist through and through. He also came out, after a
change in campaign strategy, against Prohibition. People voted for him and
against Republican Herbert Hoover, who was for a stringent enforcement of the
Prohibition. What people wound up getting in the end, after repeal, was a glass
of beer, in exchange for an authoritarian state and vastly expanded federal
powers over everyone’s lives, property, happiness, and livelihoods.
people were for that, because they wanted “something done” about
crime and the Depression. People turned to the federal government to
“solve” all the problems which were basically the consequences of
government economic and regulatory policies.
question today is: What is Donald Trump actually “for”? Cruz, Rubio,
and others are all “same ‘ole” politicians good at pulling the wool
over people’s eyes. Trump doesn’t do that. I’m leery of Trump because he hasn’t
really articulated a consistent policy. I’m not really sure what he’s
“for.” Less government? Getting the government out of the economy,
out of education, out of trade? People who are pro-Trump, notably a large
number of black Americans,  are reacting
to Trump from a “sense of life” disgust with the political
establishment. As McGirr demonstrates, we got rid of Prohibition, but got a
vastly expanded welfare and regulatory state as a result.
McGirr ably and convincingly demonstrates, the federal government simply built
on what was established during Prohibition (one can trace things back to
Woodrow Wilson and WWI, but Wilson didn’t have the whole federal government at
his beck and call, although under his regime we got the income tax and the
Federal Reserve, and also the first “war on drugs.”) When Prohibition
was repealed, the federal government recalibrated its “war-fighting”
capabilities to target narcotics. Organized crime switched from bootlegged beer
to “illicit” and “dangerous” drugs as its main “money-making” racket.
There’s no difference between the activities, means, ends, and philosophy
between the Prohibition
and the Drug
Enforcement Administration
(DEA), except that the DEA is significantly
greater in scope and power.
lesson to be learned by Americans is that you can’t have a state that
“protects” you from the designated “evil” of the day, and also stays
out of your life. As Ayn Rand remarked so many decades ago, a “sense of
life” isn’t enough to defend your freedom and liberties.
As McGirr
repeatedly shows, enforcement of Prohibition victimized mostly the poor,
minorities, and the “foreign born.” Arrests, convictions, and imprisonment fell
on anyone who tried to keep body and soul together by making, selling, or
imbibing bootleg. The full force of enforcement fell not on the wealthy or on
organized criminal gangs, but on those least able to resist the invasions and
incursions on their liberties by crusading government (and often corrupt)
agents, bureaucrats, and “hang ‘em” high judges. The purpose of Prohibition was
to instill fear and obedience in ordinary Americans and create an “upright,”
patriotic, and civic-minded electorate. It failed.
A tenacious
residue of Puritanism has always resided in the American sense of life that
rises to the surface and becomes a crusade against anything that provokes its
ire. It obliterates the general benevolent and tolerant approach to individual
life that can stamp American character.  It
has usually taken on an emotionalist revival house religious character,
impervious to reason and calm reflection, calling down on “sinners,” if not the
wrath of God, then the wrath of the State. This phenomenon even occurred before
and after American Revolution in the form of the Great Awakening. In the
absence of an explicit philosophy of reason in everyday life, and after a
period of Americans living their own lives and minding their own business but
wishing good will to others, enough of them to make noise would allow that
infection to color their outlook on the world, and would “get religion.” In
turn they would browbeat and persecute anyone who did not share their fervor
for “doing the right thing” in the name of society and the “public good.”
Or, they would
get State religion and claim that if God would not “make things right,” then
the State could, should, and would.” Regardless of the new cause, and
regardless of their age or education, they would become “social justice
warriors” ranging from militant anti-smokers to Occupy Wall Street to Black
Lives Matter. With repeal and FDR, the expansion of State powers evolved from
pious women holding prayer meetings outside saloons in the late 19th and early
20th centuries to an empowered federal, state, and local governments dictating
myriad things and actions it now regulates, controls, taxes, and even prohibits.
McGirr remarks on
the general miasma of the State as the miracle worker for  all social problems.
Prohibition sparked a new debate
over federal power in the era of otherwise conservative retrenchment. Its
manifest successes and failures contributed to widely altered understandings of
government’s purview. Despite the relative moderate Progressive Era regulatory
apparatus – such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade
Commission or the dramatic but brief expansion of federal power during the
First World War, the federal government was rarely visible at a local level.
National power had usually been exercised in imperial expansion or the capture
and reorganization of land and territory, from the West to the Panama Canal.
Outside of wartime, most Americans only experienced the federal government
through visits to their local post offices….
To many opponents of
Prohibition, the Eighteenth Amendment signaled the government’s capture by a
highly mobilized minority, the “tyrannical power of the Billy Sundays” as one
ethnic newspaper put it. In response, opponents of the law mobilized so that
they might grasp the reins of power for themselves and in the process steer the
state in a new direction. (pp. 61-62)
And what is that
“new direction”? It is unfettered collectivism, the worship of an unrestrained
State unashamedly and without scruple employing government power against the
individual, against families, against minds.

Hogarth’s 1751 “Gin Lane” on the evils of gin in the right hand panel,
and “Beer Lane”on the beneficent virtues of beer in the left. An early
and effective campaign against the unregulated consumption of alcohol.

In 18th century
Britain, the government waged several campaigns against the consumption of gin, whose
name was derived from
genièvre (French)) and from jenever (Dutch),
both of which meant “juniper.”
This was to reduce the crime rate in especially London and to reduce the number
of deaths resulting from drinking doctored gin. At a time when it was hazardous
to drink water in the cities and in the rural areas, men turned to spirits of
all kinds, but particularly to gin, which more often than not contained toxic
chemicals and poisons. Gin could kill one even though it was extracted from
boiled water. The government encouraged men to drink beer, which as a rule
underwent more rigorous boiling and production processes. William Hogarth
(1697-1764), an engraver and printer, published in 1751 a satirical cartoon
called “Gin
,” which depicted the lethal effects of gin for the individual and for
In America, Prohibition made
war against not only “bathtub” gin but against beer, as well. It and its
anti-liquor advocates in and out of government sought to fit Americans into the
straightjacket of total abstinence. That crusade failed.
The anti-everything statists
picked up Humpty Dumpty and from the pieces put together a voracious, omnivorous
juggernaut drunk on the narcotic of power.
War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State
, by Lisa McGirr.  New
York: W.W. Norton, 2016. 330 pp.

First Things Preview

In late April, 1929, Cyrus Skeen, private detective in San
Francisco, is visited by a teenager, William Yeager, who asks him to find his
missing girl friend, Darla Rampling. Skeen is startled by the request, and is reluctant
to take on the case, but what the boy says intrigues him. The girl, living with
adoptive parents, seems to have run away. Yeager does not quite believe it. Skeen
interviews the girl’s parents, and his suspicions about the status of the girl
are aroused. He discovers more than he had ever bargained for on any of his
previous cases.

First Things is the 16th Skeen adventure. 
Chapter 4: More
First Things
Skeen drove directly
from the Coyles’ to the Marina police station at Bay Street and Van Ness
Avenue. After identifying himself he managed to track down the officer who had
taken the call from the Coyles about Darla Rampling’s disappearance. This
officer was still on duty, Lieutenant Brandt Noiles. “You’ve worked with Dolan
and Donovan down at headquarters, right?”

Skeen nodded.
“Have a seat,
shamus,” said Noiles, nodding to a chair beside his desk. “Ain’t this a
come-down for you Skeen?” asked the officer. “Gone from beating up bruisers to
looking for missing school girls? Hard times, eh?”
The detectives’
room at the station was a smaller version of the one at the Hall of Justice. Noiles
– noisy, smoky, and filled with tired-looking men in plainclothes and in
Skeen shook his
head. “No. I’m doing this as a favor to a love-struck kid. He wants to know why
the girl ran away.”
Noiles, a stocky
man in his forties, chewed gum but invited Skeen to smoke. Skeen lit an Old
“Don’t we all?”
replied Noiles. “Who’s the kid?”
“Her next door
neighbor, William Yeager. He saw her and went out with her on dates when he
came home from school back East. That was two weeks ago. Then he and he parents
took a road trip. When they got back a week or so later, she was gone. The
girl’s adoptive parents said she’d just left, about a day or two after Yeager
went on that trip. Left them a note.”
“We didn’t talk to
the kid,” said Noiles. “Just to the Coyles when they reported her missing. Some
people from the Missing Persons Bureau downtown also showed up the same time we
did. The Coyles had called them, too.” Noiles shrugged. “This case ain’t going
anywhere, not unless you can put some gas in it.”
‘Did you see the
note she left behind?”
“Yeah. There wasn’t
much to it, was there?”
“What did you think
of the Coyles?” asked Skeen.
“Why should I think
of them? I think of them and they’re a blank. Probably nice people in their own
Skeen said, “William
Yeager told me the girl had bruises on her legs. Around the calves, as though
someone had walloped them with a belt or a strap. They disappeared, but they
shouldn’t have been there at all.”
“That’s news to me.
The Coyles said nothing about it.”
“They wouldn’t if
they were the ones responsible.”
“So, you’re
thinking the girl took a powder because the folks were using a strap on her,
and maybe not just on her legs? It’s usually a kid’s bum that gets the
“That’s the long
and short of my thinking.”
“Good luck with
that,” said Noiles. “It’s the girl who’s got to make the complaint, and then it
ain’t a police matter. Might be for the Children’s Resettlement Society, or
some social worker. We’d only be called in if there was something really nasty
happening, or if a kid had to be put in a hospital.”
Skeen suggested,
more to himself than to Noiles, “There’s the California Children’s Rescue
Bureau in Sacramento.”
“Yeah, there’s
them. Not that I speak from experience, but I heard that if those people get involved, the foster
parents really don’t want to deal with them. They’d better duck for cover. They
can be pretty brutal.”
Skeen rose from his
seat at Noiles’s desk. “Here’s hoping Darla Rampling returns home soon and
“You and me both, Mr.
Skeen turned and
left the detectives’ room. He drove back to Carmel Towers. It was nearly six
Cyrus Skeen had no
opinion of children. He neither liked them nor hated them. They existed on the
periphery of his active consciousness. They were, to him, just little people
who had not yet developed into independent men and women, able to think and act
without much perilous error.
His only point of
reference was himself. He was the measure of what a child should become, or at
least become a version of. Was that vanity? No, he thought. It was pride. And
pride was not a deadly sin in his scheme of things. Nor was greed or lust.
Skeen was sitting
in his study. On impulse, he took out the sheet of paper on which he had
written his metaphysical importance notes and wrote on it the standard seven
deadly sins and appended a short note after each. He was smiling. The exercise
amused him.
Pride: If one has achieved
something formerly thought impossible, or accomplished something one set out to
do and it required extraordinary effort and it made one happy, why not be proud
of it? The antonym for it would be humility, which is absurd.
Greed: If one wants
something, one wants it. There can’t be a selfless greed. If an evangelist
preacher tells his flock that they should give up their vices, isn’t that a
form of greed? What would motivate him to preach such a thing if not some
“greedy” satisfaction of seeing his flock deny themselves things? Is there such
a thing as selfless greed? Perhaps there is, in preachers, priests, and
politicians who keep harping on the virtue of sacrifice. Aren’t they expressing
their own form of “greed”? They “need” people to give up things they enjoy.
Why? This subject needs to be explored.
Lust: If lust were such
a capital vice, the human race would be extinct. There’s no such thing as
selfless sex, except perhaps among animals and insects.
Envy: If one wishes to
have what someone else has, it’s not a failing of one’s character. Things
exist, and other people have them.
Gluttony: An irrational
obsession with food. Can be controlled.
Wrath: Anger. Outrage.
An injustice must provoke wrath. Something must be threatened or destroyed,
something one places a value on. It can be a rational value or an irrational
Sloth: There’s nothing
inherently wrong with being lazy, except when one habitually expects another
person to do what should be done by oneself. I have often felt lazy or
slothful, and felt no pangs of guilt about it.
Each of those
subjects, thought Skeen, deserved a book-length treatment. He thought that
perhaps he could write a book, Metaphysical
, and discuss those “sins” in separate chapters. What a project
that would be!
Dora Crammer, the
cook and maid, had fixed him a late dinner and had gone home. He told her he
would not need her in the evenings until Dilys returned in about a week and a
half; he would dine out. “I may be in and out at unpredictable times, Doris,
especially in the evenings. So there’d be no point in your waiting for me.”

Cyrus Skeen’s office building

“Yes, Mr. Skeen. Thank
you, and good night.”
Skeen put the notes
aside and concentrated on the matter of Darla Rampling. What interested him now
were the “spots” William Yeager said he had noticed on the girl’s legs. Skeen’s
first thought, independent of what Yeager thought of them, was that they were
the result of beatings with a belt or a leather strap.
But there were
other possible explanations for them. He took out one of his encyclopedias and
found some of them.
Under “rashes,” he
saw that there were four or five different kinds of rashes or inflammations on
the skin that could occur as natural but abnormal phenomena: rosacea,
psoriasis, lichen planus, granuloma annulare, and eczema. And if
any one of these occurred on the girl’s legs, they could just as well erupt
elsewhere on her body.
Presumably William
Yeager had not gotten that far in his courtship of the girl to observe one of
those conditions above her calves.
What Yeager saw as
bruises or welts just may be the visible manifestations of those conditions.
And if they were any one of those conditions, then the Coyles were blameless
concerning any kind of abuse they may have subjected the girl to.
But, then again,
thought Skeen, he did not particularly like the Coyles. They had seemed to him
a little too bright and chipper about the disappearance of their adopted
daughter. He did not get a sense of trepidation from either the father or the
mother. It was almost as though their dog had run away, and were concerned
about it. But a dog is a dog, not a human being, and can’t have the same value
placed on it as one would place on a supposed loved one, no matter how attached
one might become to a pet.
He knew there were
men and women and even children who did treat a pet as though it were another
person. He regarded that as an aberration, not as a measure of normalcy.
Tomorrow, he
thought, he would call on the Yeagers. And perhaps even the Coyles again.
There was something
not quite right about the girl’s disappearance. He could not put his finger on
End of Chapter

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