Three Crises: 1) America

Posted on 2023-12-05
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Helena, Alabama – This is the first of three articles that will take a look at three crises – the one in America, the one in the world, and the one in the Church.

There are many crises rocking America. Like the sudden cascade of organ failure at the end of a person’s life, these crises interact with each other, one feeding on and complicating the others, leading to an even greater cascade of failure. Here, as best I can, are the critical five:

Tower of Babel – Pieter Brueghel the Elder

The New Darkness: We have several generations of Americans who have embraced ignorance – and think it enlightenment. This manifests in small ways and in large. People have lost basic skills, often abdicating them.

The hardy pioneers who settled this country knew how to provide for themselves. They could forage, grow and hunt for food. They knew how to turn raw ingredients into useful home products. They could build a simple home and provide a means to heat it. They knew the medicinal properties of common plants and minerals. One need not romanticize it to appreciate the value of their self-sufficiency. For many, particularly in our urban areas, if the utilities went out for three weeks and Door Dash wasn’t delivering, they would starve to death.

Just in my lifetime, much of society has the lost the capacity to read a map, read cursive writing, or remember much of any data. Every new convenience we get also quickly becomes a crutch. We become cripples without even noticing. When I was in my 20’s through my late 40’s, if I knew your name, I also knew your phone number by heart. Now I sometimes have to think hard to remember my own. With all my travel, I love the convenience of my GPS – but I also know how easy it is to become dependent on it. I know many young people who do not have a clue how to get anywhere without it.

As we get more and more dependent on technology we think ourselves uniquely sophisticated and brilliant because of it.  Truth be told, it has dumbed us down because we have taken no pains to preserve basic skills.

It shows in big ways, too. Leftists love to say that places like California and New York are the economic powerhouses of America. Both states have produced a lot of high tech and financial instruments – but the cheerleaders for such have entirely forgotten (if they ever knew) that a sophisticated economy or society is utterly dependent upon a healthy basic economy and society. If you are scrambling for food or shelter, no one cares about your latest cool software design. It was not farmers and carpenters jumping off the ledge when the Great Depression took hold.

The replacement of objective truth with moral relativism has left us adrift. If everyone has their “own truth,” why is anyone arrested for anything? Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy were just living their “truth.”

The replacement of God with a gauzy, mindless, sentimentality has not just left many of us with bad judgment; it has left us incapable of making rational judgment at all. A new dark ages has already taken hold – and will not lift until it has caused our current culture to crash and burn.

The New Barbarism: The traditional American outlook was that, barring some genuine atrocity, the aggressor was held responsible for violence and the aggrieved was defended. The new rules define everything in terms of oppressor-oppressed (with little to no actual oppression involved), using immutable characteristics such as skin color, ethnicity, and religious affiliation to determine who is who. This is how a white baby or a white nun becomes the villain and a black or brown fellow who has murdered 20 innocents and has, “Born to Kill,” tattooed on his shoulder becomes the hero.

The racism, savagery, and intolerance of the modern “woke” minions is far more encompassing and comprehensive, barring no exceptions, than that of the most villainous of plantation owners. Histories and offenses are made up out of whole cloth to justify the left’s barbarous depravity. The babies who were burned alive on Oct. 7 deserved it because they were white, according to these savages. Oh, they use pretty terms sometimes, such as calling for a “cease-fire” by those trying to defend themselves – and making no mention (except in sympathetic terms) for the savages who broke the existing cease-fire by raping, beheading, and burning everyone in their paths, including helpless babies, teen-agers, and crippled old folks.

I suppose this is not so surprising. Murderous movements have almost always portrayed their target victims as villains. The old Soviet Union described dissidents as “wreckers.” When it felt some twinge of compassion, it described them as mentally ill. The old KKK, the paramilitary arm of the then-Democratic Party, described black men as forever seething and plotting to rape white women. But the zeal and vigor of the modern leftists savages rivals (and perhaps surpasses) that of those Nazi’s most committed to the “final solution.”

What surprises about the new barbarism is its pretense of intellectual acuity and moral elevation when actually they are intellectually vacuous and morally depraved. Francois de la Rochefoucald said that, “hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.” Perhaps the transparent hypocrisy of the left is some tattered remnant of a Christian sensibility.

Regardless, the savages are among us, full of passionate intensity. Like the Terminator, “it can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.” It is hard for most to wrap their mind around the idea that such remorseless savages have risen up among us. But they have. There is no compromise. This time we must win. That will entail some mix of mass conversion and mass incarceration of all who hold to this violently pernicious ideology. May we commit ourselves to this course and may God help us.

The Collapse of Competence: We have seated a ruling class (or more accurately, allowed it to seize power) that is among the least competent in world history. Our “leaders” in almost all sectors of society make the old Keystone Kops look like the very model of disciplined efficiency.

Despite having every single one of its apocalyptic predictions fail manmade “climate change” is still taken seriously by many otherwise reasonable people. They rarely use the manufactured statistic that “98 percent of climate scientists agree” because so many prominent scientists have gathered the courage to publicly refute the nonsense.  We are currently in a phase where American leaders are desperately trying to double or triple our reliance on an electrical power grid which only has a standing excess capacity of about 10%, while simultaneously refusing to expand existing capacity. Electric vehicles, the bold enthusiasm of our incompetent ruling class these last few years, cost more to make, use slave labor to extract rare earth minerals, and cost a lot more to operate than traditional vehicles. (Most of the latter is hidden by socializing much of the operating costs. Whether or not you own an EV, you are paying for them.) Natural climate cycles, repeated throughout history into antiquity, are cited as evidence supporting the various crackpot theories the media and ideologues have adopted. While the theories vary from decade to decade the solution is always the same: give the leaders more money and comprehensive coercive power over all of society.

Free speech has been crushed on American campuses. Except for some technical, hard sciences, most kids leave university knowing less than when they started – but are far more pushy and aggressive about their newly acquired ignorance. Rank indoctrination is justified as “intellectual freedom” while actual intellectual freedom of inquiry is suppressed as “misinformation” or “hate speech.” Employers know intimately what I am talking about, seeing too many recent college grads having few skills while showing a marked propensity for quitting or suing when they don’t get their petulant way. Again, except for some hard sciences, a recent degree is more often a red flag of trouble ahead than an assurance of competence.

With the Covid fiasco, the medical establishment has tanked its credibility almost entirely within just a few years. In this case, raw incompetence has been the best case scenario. It turns out that many health experts KNEW what a fiasco Covid restrictions and, especially the shots, were – and pushed them anyway. Many still are, counting on the general public to be too stupid or lazy to read and interpret raw data. The public health agencies are all become panels of death and control. If you must have a doctor, make sure it is one you already know and trust – and who will answer your questions candidly without rancor. Otherwise, you take your life in your hands.

In the home repair industry, there are conmen operating who give the profession a bad name. Fortunately, the building industry works diligently to identify and weed out these frauds. In the medical industry, the frauds are in charge – and work diligently to identify and weed out any who are honest and take service seriously.

I could go on, but what’s the point? What institution do you trust anymore? They are all become temples of self-actualization and control over others – and you’re not in the club. They are deeply infected with corruption and incompetence. But, hey, they feel good about themselves.

A society that values neither intellectual rigor nor basic competence is a society in the process of immolating itself. You do the math.

In a God-fearing society, everyone is called to serve God and their fellows with all their heart, mind and soul – and do no harm. The acolytes of our brave new world without God serve only their own ambition and self-actualization. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all. (At least all who remain in the castellated abbey of the happy and dauntless and sagacious Prince Prospero). All of us rubes who choose to opt out of this brave new world cannot save the old, but we can build a healthy new world, under God.

Legitimacy: Democrats (both the media and officials) insist that vote fraud doesn’t happen – except in Democratic primaries. We are supposed to believe that they do it to each other but would never, ever do it to Republicans. Of course, the actual difference is that, in Democrat primaries, Democrats are allowed to complain of it without being called conspiracy theorists – and will have courts consider the case on the merits instead of dismissing it on procedural grounds.

When I first started voting in 1974 the procedure was simple, straightforward, and secure. If you wanted to vote, you had to go register. Almost all municipal and county offices could register you. The whole process, including driving there, took anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on how rural you were. When you went to vote, you showed your ID and signed an affidavit. Once your registration and signature were verified, you were given a paper or punch card ballot. When you finished, you put it in a sleeve and gave it to the election worker, who dropped it from the sleeve into the locked box, which was not opened until the polls were closed. The ballots were collected in front of workers and observers of both parties, then either counted on-site or, in the case of punch cards, the raw cards were counted, secured and the number recorded for delivery to the county clerk’s office. Cheating was possible – and even common in some locales (Chicago, New Orleans, some Texas jurisdictions), but it was difficult and could only affect things on the margins.

Democrats usually assert that vote fraud does not happen. That is NOT what the first question should be. The first question should be, “do election policies make it easier to happen or harder to happen?” The easier it is to make it happen, the more it happens.

When I was doing radio in the ‘90s, Democratic legislatures started pushing “Motor Voter” laws, which would automatically register people when they got or renewed their driver’s licenses. I insisted on air that if truth in advertising applied, these bills would be called the “Fraud Expansion” laws. A secret ballot is required to protect the public from coerced voting, powerful people forcing large groups to vote as the powerful want. To provide security while preserving secrecy requires several critical protocols, particularly at points of vulnerability.

Requiring people to register is the first important protocol. It should be simple so that all eligible voters can easily register but it should require some initiative on the part of the voter so that you have a motivated voter pool. Having a pool of voters who exercised some small effort to get registered guarantees you will have an electorate who takes the franchise seriously. It is much harder to fraudulently vote in someone else’s name if it is likely that person votes regularly, themselves. Creating a pool of registered voters who are not interested and rarely vote gives you a much larger pool with which fraudsters can successfully work without detection. You must also keep your voter rolls regularly updated. Voters move and die. If you don’t regularly update the rolls, once again, fraudsters have a bigger pool of names they can vote illegally. Democrats routinely fight to automatically register as many unmotivated voters as possible – and fight efforts to update voter rolls (usually calling it a “purge” which it is, but only of voters who have died or moved). This does not enhance “ballot access” at all but does provide a much larger pool of potentially fraudulent votes.

Chain of custody protections insure that the only ballots that are counted are those which were cast by registered voters. They used to be counted on-site at the polling place before observers from both parties, then sealed in a locked box so they could be audited against reported results after being transported to the central election authority. Until 2018, we were assured that when machines were used, they were firewalled away from internet access so vote totals could not be changed in transmission.

Now, we have massive numbers of un-motivated voters on the rolls, voter rolls are seldom updated, massive numbers of ballots come in with no provenance, no chain of custody, whatsoever, and we know that vote totals can be and are changed in transmission. Every “reform” Democrats have called for over the last two generations has made fraud easier and detection of it harder. That has not increased ballot access, but it has destroyed voter confidence in the integrity of our elections. If you complain or ask for an audit the left, at best, calls you a conspiracy theorist and, at worst, tries to jail you. In 1976 I was not happy Jimmy Carter won – but I knew he had really won.

I believe, based on my own analysis of results (based on decades of work in Illinois, where fraud was common before it went viral throughout the country) that Donald Trump won the popular election by about 10.7 million votes and crushed Biden in the electoral college. I went to bed as soon as they stopped the counting in all the swing states where Trump had big leads. That scene has played over and over in banana republics: stop the count when you’re losing, go manufacture ballots to give you victory, then claim that the people have spoken. Sure enough, the next day, (mirabile dictu!), Biden had overcome Trump’s commanding lead in every one of the swing states where voting was stopped.

Then the courts refused to examine any evidence, rejecting all challenges on procedural grounds. The Democrats, of course, said the courts “examined” the evidence and rejected it. To the contrary, the courts refused to look at the evidence at all. When those courts refused to consider the evidence, our Republic was doomed. The last few years have been its death throes. A free nation cannot stand after the legitimacy of its officers is destroyed – and I regard the vandals running the country as an occupying force of usurpers.

The courts were our last hope of salvaging the processes that ensure legitimacy. Some judges are working nobly still to preserve those processes. But I would estimate that 30-40 percent of judges are not judges at all. They are activists who think their job is to deliver the most left-wing outcome and then justify it with plausibly legal-sounding phrases. Frankly, they have dropped most of the pretense of plausibility now.

Confidence in elections is shot, trust in the judiciary is shot, and the justice system is now openly used to target political conservatives and Christians while ignoring actual crime. That is the formula for the sort of convulsion that overthrows nations.

It was the Judeo-Christian system, the system which came to be known as Western Civilization, which touted the reality that you cannot achieve honest results through dishonest means. If you push it long enough, you destroy legitimacy and pave the way for revolt.

Dishonest, venal men have destroyed the legitimacy of the American system. I think it is beyond saving. But I call on all to call on God as we rebuild a healthy society from the ashes the left will soon leave behind, that we may have a society that is both healthy and legitimate. I miss the days when, when I lost, I knew I had truly lost and could focus on where I had erred and do better the next time round. Those days are gone in America.

Meaning: Every man is the hero of his own story. Adolf Hitler was restoring the Aryan race to its rightful position of supremacy against the depredations of the Jews and other inferior races – or so he thought in his own mind. Josef Stalin was securing the Soviet Union as a great nation to be feared and respected. Every man searches for meaning in life. When his judgment and reason are deranged, he finds meaning in the wrong places. The more talented he is, the more destructive his search for meaning can become.

Western Civilization had been slowly drifting away from its foundational Judeo-Christian principles since, at least, the turn of the 20th Century. After WWII, Europe was possessed of a progressive ennui. No longer dominant on the world stage it consoled itself by an “above the fray” pretense of moral and intellectual superiority. No longer influential, it became snooty. It entered into its post-Christian twilight. In America a relentless materialism replaced a sense of community and self. Oh, it still had innovators, risk-takers, and far more piety than its European counterparts. But it was slowly being impoverished of its sense of meaning.

Barack Obama deeply wanted to transform American society – and he did. America went from a culture with a fundamentally Christian ethos to a society with a fundamentally pagan ethos. He undermined the concept of a sovereign people with administrative servants in public office and replaced it with the idea of sovereign rulers guiding a people who were too dim to understand their own interests. He used the rhetorical device of suggesting he was just emphasizing “positive” rights – what government must do for you – rather than what he called “negative” rights – what government is prevented from doing to you. I don’t think even Obama knew that he was paraphrasing the justification of the very monarchies in Europe that we broke away from some 250 years ago. Thomas Jefferson explained it better and more succinctly: “A government strong enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have.” (It is disputed who actually made that quote first – but it has been used frequently and was one of Ronald Reagan’s favorites.) So now we have a government that presumes to tell us what kind of light bulbs we can own, what kind of cars we must drive, what household appliances we may use, what shots we must take, and what officials we must obey on every bit of trivial minutiae. We are ruled by expert administrators – administrators who usually get it wrong and may be the most incompetent ruling class in world history. But the bureaucratic behemoth has become so huge that its only concern now is its own survival and expansion. It uses pretty words to justify its depravities – such as “positive” rights. But it preys on the people it is supposed to serve.

While still a junior in high school, I started writing in 1973 about the impending break-up of the Soviet Union. My thesis was that the system was incoherent – and that its growing internal contradictions would eventually bring it down. A system that is internally incoherent cannot long endure. Every disorder begets more disorder unless dealt with boldly and candidly. The Soviet system was allergic to candor. It must pretend its serial failures are actually great successes – kind of like Bidenomics. I had no public platform at the time beyond haranguing my friends and writing pretentious screeds to show them. I estimated the Soviet Union would collapse sometime around the turn of the millenium. I might have been right about the timing, but the magnificent troika of Ronald Reagan, St. John Paul the Great, and Margaret Thatcher gave it a good, solid shove and it fell a good decade ahead of my schedule. But some of my friends were quite impressed when, after the fall, it was revealed that the internal weaknesses of the country were very much as I had pegged them.

America is almost as internally deranged right now as the Soviet Union was before the fall. Meantime, having dumbed down the population, the search for meaning is deranged. Pampered children, unable and unwilling to build anything, define morality as condemning the failures of those who built Western Civilization. Those same pampered children somehow find moral meaning in supporting savage butchers because those butchers are “oppressed.” There is little to no actual oppression involved. In fact, those championed by the trendy, invincibly ignorant are usually great oppressors, themselves. It is all based on skin color, ethnicity, and perceived victim status. The incoherence of declaring the butchers oppressed and the butchered oppressors can lead to nothing but collapse and revolt. The pretense that Bidenomics is a great success while people are scrambling to stay afloat is akin to the annual Soviet pronouncements of a record harvest as their people starved.

A decade and a half ago we firmly rejected God and Western Civilization (at least the occupying force that seeks to rule us did – and make no mistake, they have plenty of minions, all dreaming of being the commissar who commands their village, if they can’t command the nation.) We have been slouching towards Gomorrah ever since.

We are going to collapse. It is baked into the cake now. People often ask me how it is going to come and what form it is going to take. I can think of dozens of answers, none of which I am sure of. If I correctly predicted the inevitable demise of the Soviet Union while still a teenager, I was astonished that it came with almost no violence at all. In a larger sense, I don’t care how it comes or what form it takes. God always gets His way and so I largely consider that His business; business that is largely irrelevant to my calling.

St. Augustine, in his magnificent “Confessions,” (the catalyst of my conversion), says, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Those wise in their own estimation who are determinedly slouching towards Gomorrah will find it soon enough. My concern with it is the same as my concern is with the rapids in a canoe – how to navigate it, not how to change it. My real concern is how to gather and inspire a Godly people who well know that wisdom and justice is from God – and truly trust in it to rebuild. Frankly, I would rather the inevitable collapse in America come quickly, for I believe that the re-evangelization of the world must come primarily from America (and for reasons I will explain in the world crisis article, from Russia). So, I would just as soon we get to it. I have no interest in folks who want to sit on their hands and wait to see how God is going to rescue us from the mess we have made. I want people who are committed to doing the little they can right in front of them, those who are eager to put their shoulder to the plow, for they are the light of the world in these dark times. I want people who are determined to gently bring light to those poor souls furiously seeking meaning in darkness, trusting if we humbly do what we can, God will light the path before us and use us to bring meaning to a poor, battered and broken world; a world that keeps battering itself.

We will find meaning as we let our soul rest in God – and bring the whole world to do the same. We cannot do it ourselves but when we do the little we can with fortitude and trust, God will use us as His catalyst for renewing the faith and face of the world.

We entered into crisis because we turned away from God. Some would rather die than turn back to Him. He will oblige them. The crisis will not end because we turn our face back to Him. We must be proven in patience, fortitude and trust. If we commit to do that, He will use us to end the crisis and re-evangelize the world.

*********

I was grieved when I learned of the death of Henry Kissinger. If I sometimes seriously disagreed with him, I also admired him. Kissinger is one of those rare ducks who was reviled almost universally by the left and by large portions of the right, as well. So why did I admire him? He was also one of those rare ducks in the foreign policy establishment who was competent. I did not always agree with his policy aims, but what he set out to accomplish he usually accomplished.

Jimmy Carter sought to open up and liberalize Iran – and gave us a monstrous theocracy that has fueled terrorism across the globe ever since. George H.W. Bush sought to turn back Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and was brilliantly successful, but quit the fight before it was finished, betraying the Kurds and leaving the Middle East a bigger morass than when he started. Bill Clinton tried to be everybody’s buddy, to ignore provocations and reward enemies – and we ended up with attempted genocide in Kosovo and terror coming to America’s shores.

Kissinger sought to open up relations with China. He did it. Some conservatives blame him for the monstrous threat China has become. That is, perhaps, an unintended outcome of his diplomacy but it is irrelevant. Global geo-politics is not a static set-piece. It is more of an ever-changing kaleidoscope where interests and the balance of power are constantly shifting. The province of the diplomat is to solve today’s threats – and leave tomorrow’s for tomorrow’s diplomats. The Soviet Union was the great threat to the globe in 1972 – and Kissinger successfully ameliorated that threat by putting China into the mix. The rise of the Chinese threat is not the fault of Kissinger, but of the largely serial incompetents who followed him.

Klemens von Metternich, the great Austrian diplomat, carefully preserved the European balance of power for three decades in the early to mid-19th Century, an astonishing achievement at a time when war was always threatening. One could say he laid the seeds for the German aggression that exploded into WWI. I think that would be correct – but it was because of the 50 years of incompetent diplomats who followed him.

Talleyrand served to pacify the victims of Napoleon’s conquests. Napoleon both effectively ended the French Revolution then proceeded to threaten and conquer much of Europe. I would that Talleyrand would have been less effective, but he accomplished what he aimed – and it was no mean feat. His skill was both useful and admirable.

Don’t get me wrong. Geo-politics is hard and mistakes are common. My most serious issue with most diplomats is not their feet of clay, but their raw arrogance and hubris while messing things up. You’ve got a lot of D-students in the profession rambling about their own brilliance and sophistication while counting on you to be too polite or cowed to mention all the destruction they leave in their wake. Kissinger was not a triumphalist. He was a competent craftsman who delivered the goods he promised. You might fault some of the aims he championed, but you had to admire the skill and finesse with which he accomplished them. And it is utterly ignorant to condemn him for not having the prescience to forestall the sort of consequences that no diplomat has ever been able to forestall. You can’t see where the kaleidoscope is going to turn 50 years from now. I am content with a diplomat who understands that, “sufficient to the day is the evil thereof,” and has the wit and wherewithal to forestall that.

Henry Kissinger, Rest in Peace.

*********

Unlike its larger, more famous namesake in Montana, Helena, Alabama is pronounced Huh-LEEN-uh. It is a southwestern suburb of Birmingham within easy striking distance of EWTN, Hanceville and Montgomery. When I am making the rounds in Alabama, I frequently make it my headquarters as I have quick access to most of the places I need to go. Originally home to Creek Indians, it grew slowly as a trading center until it took on some significant manufacturing during the Civil War. In some ways it reminds me of Tyler, Texas – a relatively small city with the obnoxious traffic of a town 10 times its size.

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1 Comment

  1. judejeffrey

    A brilliant piece and summary of the tragic state of the USA.

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