The Real Writer vs. The Wannabe

Larry Correia, pulp-writer extraordinaire and one of my secret writing mentors, takes on another article by “the Guardian’s village idiot,” Damien Walters, which means it’s time to pop some corn and settle in to be entertained.

Some background: Mr. Walters is a contributor for the U.K. paper ‘The Guardian’ and self-styled professional writer. Not that he’s actually sold anything, but he gets a grant from the U.K. government to work on a novel. Judging by his Guardian output, Her Majesty’s Government is getting cheated again.

Meanwhile, Mr. Correia is a New York Times bestselling author with about a dozen novels published and many more under contract who ranks in the top 1% of authors in terms of the royalties he makes. His works include the rocking-good-fun Monster Hunter International series and the insanely-awesome Grimnoir Chronicles (which is basically the X-Men set in an alternate 1930s).

Mr. Walters periodically takes it upon himself to lecture Mr. Correia on what it means to be a successful writer, which is rather like if I tried to give, say, Chuck Norris advice on how to be a successful martial artist, except that I wouldn’t adopt a sneeringly dismissive tone and would actually try to research the subject first. Reading Mr. Correia’s replies are like watching a killer whale whacking a seal into the air over and over again.

Interpretive Re-Enactment

For example (Mr. Walters is in italics, Mr. Correia is in bold)

If you find meaning in straight-to-video Dolph Lundgren films, then Larry Correia’s novels will be your kind of read.

Wait… Is he comparing me to Dolph Lundgren, the ripped 160 IQ chemical engineer, turned Red Mother F****** Scorpion, Ivan “I Will Break You” Drago, and all around bad ass… as an insult? 

In fact, much of the Monster Hunter series relies rather heavily on people the hero doesn’t like turning into monsters … so he can shoot them.

Another lie, but it just demonstrates that Damien merely skimmed the first chapter so he could fake a review.

The bit about the series relying heavily on people the hero doesn’t like turning into monsters so he can shoot them? I found out about this article when somebody shared it to the MHI fan page on Facebook. Nobody there could think of any other cases over five books where somebody the hero didn’t like turned into a monster so he could shoot them. The closest anyone could think of was the opposite happening.

You know what they say about assumptions, Damien? They say when you in particular make them you’re probably going to be wrong, because you’re a dope.

Speaking of assumptions, this is the same guy who published that I was a sexist/racist/homophobe, who when confronted for evidence, then crowd sourced a witch hunt of all my copious political writings to find something bad I’d said. And the best thing they could come up with was my teaching free self-defense classes to women (so they could shoot rapists in the face) was “victim blaming”. 

By all means, read the whole thing. This is what happens when a wannabe writer tries to attack the real deal. Content warning, though: Mr. Correia does not mince words (this is the guy whose books include a scene involving werewolf-zombies and a giant snowblower: you do the math whether he’s appropriate for sensitive readers or not).

 

The Quotable Don Colachos

Nicholas Gomez Davila, known as Don Colachos to his friends, was a Colombian Conservative intellectual who, up until now, has been pretty much completely unknown. Part of the problem is that most of his works haven’t been translated into English. However, by good luck, I happened to stumble across some of his aphorisms tonight, and I am now going to do my bit to make sure the whole world knows his name.

Below are some of the aphorisms of Don Colachos.

“Taste is relative” is the excuse adopted by those eras that have bad taste.

Contemporary persons do not admire anything other than hysterical texts.

Whoever says that he “belongs to his time” is only saying that he agrees with the largest number of fools at that moment.

The word “modern” no longer has an automatic prestige except among fools.

The particular creature we love is never God’s rival. What ends in apostasy is the worship of man, the cult of humanity.

In philosophy, a single naive question oftentimes suffices for the whole system to collapse.

If philosophy does not resolve any scientific problem, science, in its turn, does not resolve any philosophical problem.

What is difficult is not to believe in God, but to believe that we matter to Him.

Being a reactionary is not about believing in certain solutions, but about having an acute sense of the complexity of the problems.

Wise politics is the art of invigorating society and weakening the State.

Many love humanity only in order to forget God with a clear conscience.

The growing difficulty of recruiting priests should embarrass humanity, not disquiet the Church.

Faith is what allows us to wander astray into any idea without losing the way out.

Catholicism does not solve all problems but it is the only doctrine that raises them all.

God does not die, but unfortunately for man the subordinate gods like modesty, honor, dignity, decency, have perished.

Christianity did not invent the notion of sin, but that of forgiveness.

Power more surely corrupts the man who covets it than the man who exercises it.

Asking the state to do what only society should do is the error of the left.

“Social justice” is the term used to claim anything to which we do not have a right.

A noble society does not wait for catastrophes to discipline it before it disciplines itself.

Sexual promiscuity is the tip society pays in order to appease its slaves.

Liberty is the right to be different; equality is a ban on being different.

Vulgarity consists in striving to be what we are not.

Among ideas only the stupid ones are immortal.

“Escapism” is the imbecile’s favorite accusation to make.

The fool does not renounce an error unless it goes out of fashion.

Love and hate do not create, but reveal, qualities which our indifference obscures.

The 19th century did not live with more anguish because of its sexual repression than the 20th century with its sexual liberation. Identical obsession, even when the symptoms are the opposite.

Rudeness is not a proof of authenticity, but of bad manners.

Egalitarian societies strangle the imagination without even satisfying envy.

Rare are those who forgive us when we make it harder for them to shirk their duties.

Liberalism proclaims the right of the individual to degrade oneself, provided one’s degradation does not impede the degradation of one’s neighbor.

Where Christianity disappears, greed, envy, and lust invent a thousand ideologies to justify themselves.

Modern society only respects science as an inexhaustible provider of what it covets.

Those sins that scandalize the public are less grave than those it tolerates.

Man assures himself that life vilifies him in order to hide the fact that it merely reveals him.

Intellectual honesty is a virtue which every successive generation presumes it is practicing for the first time.

That’s just a small sampling: you’ll probably see more of him in the future.

Don’t Expect Caesar to do Peter’s Job

An idea came up in my discussions with family and friends about my compare/contrast post about the two third parties I was considering: whether the Constitution Party is too narrowly focused on American interests rather than the universality that Catholics are meant to have. Elsewhere I’ve read Catholic commentators warning against treating America as a kind of substitute religion.

I think there’s a misunderstanding here. You see, it is precisely because I don’t see America, much less any particular political party as a substitute religion that I don’t expect Catholic universality from my politicians and I don’t expect the country to act as a church. I expect it to act as a country.

If I want charity or universality, I know where to find it. What I want from my politicians is for them to look after the country in which I live and which I love. I want them to specifically look after her interests. It isn’t that I don’t care about people elsewhere; I do. It’s that I also care about my own nation and its people, and in voting for a certain politician I’m acting on that concern; not out of concern for any other nation or any other group of people.

Put it this way: a man’s first priority is to care for his wife and children. It’s not that he doesn’t care for anyone else, it’s they aren’t his responsibility in the same way that his own family is. This is part of the law of beneficence: briefly, it says that if we cannot help two people at the same time, we ought to help whichever one we stand in a relation of responsibility towards: family over acquaintances, benefactors over strangers, countrymen over foreigners, co-religionists over infidels, etc.

In the same way, politicians ought (I don’t say they do, but they ought) to have the welfare of the nation, or the state, or the city as their first priority (at least insofar as they are politicians), because that is their job. Those in government are entrusted with a specific duty; to safeguard the interests, rights, liberties, and so on of our nation. I expect them to put American interests over the interests of foreigners not because I think foreigners less worthy or less important than Americans, but because that is the specific responsibility that they have been given.

This is the reverse of making the nation a substitute religion. The fact that I don’t expect America to open her borders out of charitable concern for those in Mexico, or to provide free healthcare for all, regardless of the economic consequences, stems from the fact that I see America as a nation and not as a church. That is, I expect her to occupy a specific, important, but limited position: not to attend to every need, bind up every wound, and bring salvation to the world. The Church is universal; that is one of her hallmarks. The nation, by definition, is not. Caesar’s job is to do the duty of Caesar; not the duty of Peter.

Yet, the evidence of history and the Church indicates that God does not, therefore, disapprove of nations. Jesus wept over the impending destruction of Jerusalem and ordered His disciples to “render to Caesar what is Casear’s.” St. Paul and St. Peter commanded obedience to civil authorities and love for the community. The concept of the nation-state evolved out of Christendom, and great Christians have often been great patriots. Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman was a fervent Englishman even after he became Catholic. St. John Paul II loved Poland. G.K. Chesterton wrote as eloquently about his love for England as about his love for Christ. Archbishop John Hughes defended the cause of the Union as ferociously as he defended the Church in New York. St. Louis IX, St. Vladimir of Russia, St. Edward of England, St. Jadwiga of Poland, St. Stephen of Hungary, and St. Henry II of Bavaria were all national leaders. Not to mention that St. Joan of Arc was commissioned by God to rescue France from her enemies; showing that God certainly has some concern for national rights as such.

National pride only becomes a danger when it is expected that a nation will do more than it ought, or when it’s expected that the Church must become subservient to the state (this, by the way, is the real reason behind the separation of church and state: the idea that the church threatens to dominate the state is an ahistorical absurdity). Like most things, it has its claims on us and to pursue it in just moderation is a virtue. Moderation, in this case, includes not expecting a nation to act like a church. Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and expect a Caesar’s duty.

St. John of Damascus on the Feast of the Assumption

I found this on John C. Wright’s blog and thought it so beautiful and moving that I had to repost it here.

St. John of Damascus was a Syrian monk and priest, from the same stock from which the Maronites descended. He lived in the monastery of Mar Saba near Jerusalem in the seventh century.

From a homily by Saint John Damascene, priest
(Homily 9 on the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 3, 7-8, 10: PG 96. 727, 734-735)

You have borne for us the clothing of immortality

Once indeed God ejected the mortals and first parents of the human race from the paradise of Eden, when they had drunk deeply from the wine of disobedience and had become so affected by the hangover of sin through the intoxication of that transgression which led to the sleepiness of the mind’s eye. Now, however, shall not paradise receive her who repelled the onslaught of all sin, producing the seed of obedience to God and Father, and bringing forth life for all races of mortal men? How can death devour this truly blessed woman, who gave birth to the whole person of the Word of God through union with God? How can hell receive her? When Christ, who is the way and the truth, said Where I am, there will my servant be also, why would there not be a dwelling for his own mother with him with an even greater justification? It is well said that precious in the sight of the Lord God of Hosts is the death of his saints: but even more precious is the passing of the Mother of God from this life.

Then Adam and Eve, the founders of our race, exclaimed with a loud voice in great rejoicing: “Blessed are you, O daughter, who bore for us the penalties of the commands that had been broken. When you had gained a mortal body from us, you gave birth to a covering of immortality for us. You repaid us so that it might be well with us, since you received birth from our loins. From beyond the grave you have called us back to our ancient seat: we closed paradise for ourselves, but you made open the way of the tree of life. Through our actions sadness came forth from happiness; through you even more joyful things have returned from sorrow. In what possible way could you be acceptable to death, O Immaculate one? You are the bridge of life and the ladder to heaven: you are a boat over the sea of death reaching to immortality.”

But the woman herself, as she did not shrink from the truth, said: “Into your hands, my Son, I commend my spirit. Receive this soul which is dear to you, which you have preserved free from any sin. I hand over my body, not to the earth, but to you. Take me to yourself, that where you are, you, the child of my womb, so there I also may be your companion. I am hastening to you, who have often come to me on this side of that long distance.”

When she had said this, she heard in reply: “Come to my rest, my blessed Mother: arise, come, my beloved, most blessed among all women. Behold, the winter is ended. You are all fair, my beloved, and there is no spot of stain found in you: the odor of your ointments are more precious than all other aromas.”

virginwithangels

Reviews: Suicide Squad

SSquad

So far the DC Cinematic Universe has been off to an unimpressive start, with the uneven Man of Steel and the God-awful Batman v. Superman. Nevertheless I was cautiously looking forward to Suicide Squad, which from the previews seemed like it would at least not take itself so dang seriously as the other films had, and appeared the most likely to win me over to the series.

Has it? Well, not exactly. On the one hand this is easily the most entertaining film in the DC universe so far, with little of the ponderous pretention that dragged down the previous two movies. On the other, it doesn’t really come together into a coherent whole and the oppressive cynicism of the series saps some of the fun.

The story is that with Superman dead (spoilers for Batman v. Superman, but who cares? It’s not like he’ll be gone long), black ops mistress Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) has a plan to turn a collection of incarcerated supervillains into a strike team that will serve to protect the US from meta-human threats. The team will be led by Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) and consist of master marksman Deadshot (Will Smith), short-tempered Aussie Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), taciturn flamer El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), monstrous Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), escape artist Slipknot (Adam Beach), possessed archeologist Enchantress (Cara Delevigne), swordswoman Katana (Karen Fukuhara), and psycho-woman Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), girlfriend of the Joker (Jared Leto). When a potentially world-ending threat materializes, Waller deploys her team, but things don’t go according to plan.

Call it The Dirty Dozen with supervillains and you wouldn’t be far off the mark, except that it doesn’t quite live up to the premise.

With such a large cast, some confusion is inevitable, though the list is a bit deceiving. Of the team, one goes rogue and becomes one of the antagonists, while another only serves to demonstrate what happens if the team tries to slip the leash. Nevertheless, there’re a lot of informed attributes going around, and some of the team don’t get much to do. Captain Boomerang in particular contributes little except for comic relief (there’s even a running gag with him that just gets dropped without comment midway through). The plot rather quickly spirals out of control, with at least four distinct parties each vying for different objectives and plot holes multiplying one after another. I don’t want to spoil things too much, except that I’ll say Waller is a lot stupider than she ought to be, making me wonder just how she got where she is if she’s so lacking in foresight.

That being said, Viola Davis is at least a lot better suited for the part than Cynthia Addai-Robinson, who played the role on Arrow (if DC doesn’t want me to make comparisons they shouldn’t run two distinct shared universes featuring many of the same characters at the same time). Robinson was far too thin and too attractive for the part: Davis is more of the everywoman and if not the hulking figure Waller should cut, she at least is solidly built. Whatever the flaws in Waller’s portrayal, none of them are Davis’s fault.

I also have problems with Jared Leto’s version of the Joker. He’s not bad, and certainly not the train-wreck that Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor was. I can accept him as the Joker, just not as an especially memorable version of him. Of course, anyone taking up the role after Heath Ledger is at a huge disadvantage, but even discounting that there’s one major flaw with Leto’s performance: he’s dangerous, cunning, and psychotic, but he isn’t funny. He laughs a lot, but I don’t think he ever made me laugh.

Now, Ledger’s Joker was funny because he was so darn unpredictable; you had no idea what he might say or do at any point in the film, so that half the time you cringe, the other half you laugh because you see the unexpected logic of his behavior. Leto’s Joker isn’t unpredictable; I was never queasily waiting to see what he might do. He’s pretty much just a normal gangster with an eccentric fashion sense (one review I read called him “pimp Joker,” and that’s a pretty fair description).

On the other hand, Harley Quinn is funny and is unpredictable. A lot of her moments were spoiled in the trailers, but she still gets plenty of laughs. And I was so happy that they have her call the Joker ‘Puddin’ and ‘Mr. J.’ I don’t think it was necessary to hyper-sexualize her to the extent that they did (though that did lead to at least one very funny bit when the team is suiting up for battle), and the torture scene with her and the Joker, while it wasn’t as bad as I feared, still doesn’t really make sense and, I think, undermines her character. Other than that, though, she was perfect: perfectly nutty, perfectly dangerous, perfectly the girly-girl psychopath we all know and love. I especially liked a late-game revelation about what she really wants more than anything: a bit that perfectly captures the tragedy at the root of Harley’s character.

That said, there was a lot of superfluous fluff with her, such as a completely gratuitous flashback to her and the Joker having sex in one of the Ace Chemical vats (does he just own that place now or something?). Oh, and you know that scene from the trailers where she smashes a store window to steal a purse? It literally comes out of nowhere and does nothing.

That points to another problem with the film: the editing is often a mess. Juggling so many characters and plotlines is difficult, and they couldn’t pull it off, so that sometimes it’s difficult to keep track of who is where doing what and why it matters. Like with Harley’s bit above, some scenes just come out of nowhere, as if they were filmed without any real clear idea where they belonged in the story and just stuck in wherever they could find room.

To be honest, I think the film would have benefited if they had cut the Joker entirely. It would have been tricky to handle Harley’s character that way, but if they had kept the Joker as an unseen force in the background I think the film would have been much stronger for it. The Joker’s scenes don’t really affect the rest of the plot except once, and never in an especially vital way, and they’re just a kind of visual white noise contributing nothing to the story and a lot to the confusion.

I was concerned about Will Smith as Deadshot, both because I’m generally suspicious about casting big stars as superheroes/villains, and because I’m cynical about the practice of switching a character’s race just because you can. That said, I thought he was pretty good. Smith is, of course, an immensely talented and charismatic actor, and though he’s not my idea of Deadshot (again, I thought Michael Rowe on Arrow was much closer to my image of the character, and I can probably come up with a half-dozen actors I think would fit the part better), he’s perfectly acceptable in the role as it stands. Basically, a Will Smith version of Deadshot isn’t a bad interpretation of the character, especially if you’re going to cast him as the lead. Smith captures Deadshot’s contradictory nature as both a loving father and a dangerous assassin (though the character’s suicidal tendencies don’t appear), and he serves well as a strong anchor doing his best to keep the film together. A flashback assassination scene was a ton of fun and perfectly showcased his ridiculous skill level. All in all, I have no serious complaints about Deadshot.

Jai Courtney, as I said, doesn’t get a whole lot to do as Captain Boomerang, but he’s a blast whenever he’s on screen. Likewise with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, who really comes into his own towards the end and who makes a valiant effort to  act through the effects that turn him into a human crocodile. Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flagg, the token ‘good guy’ of the team doesn’t make a whole lot of impression: his job is to sneer at the bad guys and come to respect them over time, and as far as it went, he was acceptable, and he at least had sympathetic motives for undertaking the mission. Karen Fukuhara as Katana doesn’t make much of an impression either; she basically just walks around glowering through her mask and occasionally busting out some sword moves. Ditto for Adam Beach as Slipknot, only minus the mask and sword. Ben Affleck returns for a handful of cameos as Batman, and though it’s not saying much, I thought he was better played this time around (that is to say, he wasn’t psychotically trying to murder people for no reason while ranting about how life doesn’t matter).

Cara Delevingne as Dr. Moon / Enchantress was mostly overwhelmed by the special effects and didn’t make too much of an impression as a character, not to mention that the nature and extent of her powers was extremely vague: an early scene has her travelling to Iran and back in the space of a second, but toward the end she picks up a sword and starts fighting hand-to-hand. Huh?

To my surprise, probably my favorite character was El Diablo, who I had barely heard of before the film came out. His character arc was, for me, the most interesting and credible of the film, and Jay Hernandez shone in the role. He’s about the only one of the bad guys who seems to actually regret his criminal actions, which makes him probably the most sympathetic and interesting character on the screen as he wrestles with his own self-loathing.

That brings me to what, for me, was probably the biggest problem with the film: that the world of the DC cinematic universe is simply too downbeat and cynical to be worth bothering about.

With its colorful cast of antiheroes and its pop-music soundtrack, Suicide Squad clearly seeks to be the Guardians of the Galaxy of the DC universe. But in Guardians all the rough-and-tumble heroes were sympathetic and were shown to be more or less decent people by the end, even if they still cheerfully talk about doing bad things. But even if they’re not the most scrupulous people in the world, they still fought for a good cause and on behalf of good people, and the good people were grateful to them in the end.

In Suicide Squad, while most of the characters are pitiable, there are only two or three who are really sympathetic. Nor is the world they’re fighting to save shown to be really worth saving. Okay, there’s Deadshot’s daughter, but other than that are there any ‘good people’ who need to be saved and who are worth saving?

Practically everyone in the film is to a greater or lesser degree a bastard. El Diablo stood out as the only one who seemed even to understand that he ought to have been a better person: everyone else either assumes that that’s just the way the world works or blames the rest of society for not ‘accepting’ them. When Harley asks “what did the world ever do for us?” My thought was, “girl, you’re a murdering psychopath: you’re not in a position to complain about being ill-treated.”

Another problem highlighted by the comparison is that, in Guardians, the team convincingly came together after some initial friction to form a charming company of friends, so that when Groot said, “We are Groot” it felt earned. Suicide Squad tries to do the same thing, with the squad coming to care for each other, but it doesn’t work. They repeatedly call themselves a ‘family,’ but it doesn’t feel earned, and nothing that happens really convinces me that these characters had any reason to appreciate each other. The Guardians were only broken: the Squad is a bunch of psychopaths and monsters who are only thrown together for the sake of the mission. The Guardians were working together for common ends, even if they were selfish ends at first. The Squad is working together for not other reason than that they’ll be killed if they don’t. They have no reason to really care for each other or to feel any team spirit, at least not so quickly as they do. There was a point where Deadshot is ordered to shoot one of his teammates. As he agonized over the decision, it occurred to me that there was no reason why he shouldn’t, or that I should be rooting for him not to. If anything, I felt like it would be best for all concerned if he took the shot.

The DC universe lays the artificial grit and forced moral ambiguity on way too thick, and while Suicide Squad at least has some fun, it can’t escape being dragged down by the dreariness of the world it inhabits. Whoever decided that the best way to compete with Marvel was to make everything in the DC film world as dark and cynical as possible should be fired as soon as possible, before he has the chance to ruin The Flash or Justice League (it’s probably too late for Wonder Woman).

All that being said, Suicide Squad is a good time. It’s not great; certainly nowhere near as good a Guardians of the Galaxy, but it’s easily my favorite of the DC films so far. It’s stylish, often funny, and consistently entertaining, with a colorful cast played well by some talented actors.

Final Rating: 3/5. Not great, but at least it’s actually entertaining, which is a big step up from the DC universe’s last offering.

Third Party Showdown: The Constitution Party vs. The Solidarity Party

With the nomination of Donald Trump, I have officially given up on the Republican Party. As the only other major party is a socialist-Satanic death-cult, I’ve been in the market for a suitable third party to promote in the place of the dying GOP. Thus far, on the recommendations of friends and family, as well as my own investigation, I’ve identified two candidates: The Constitution Party and the American Solidarity Party. Let’s stack them up and see how they do going head-to-head.

Mission Statements

Constitution Party:

            The mission of the Constitution Party is to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity through the election, at all levels of government, of Constitution Party candidates who will uphold the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights. It is our goal to limit the federal government to its delegated, enumerated, Constitutional functions.

American Solidarity Party:

Common good. Common ground. Common Sense.

           These are the three principles that guide the American Solidarity Party, the only active Christian Democratic party in the United States. We seek to promote the common good and the material and spiritual welfare of all people, thereby raising consciousness of the Christian worldview. We don’t seek to be a proselytizing party but, in a broken and increasingly callous, secularized world, we offer a positive vision bringing communities together.

Guided by these three principles, The American Solidarity Party stands for the sanctity of human life, the necessity of social justice, responsibility for the environment, and hopes for the possibility of a peaceful world

Thoughts:

I am deeply suspicious of a political party identifying itself with Christianity, not because I don’t think Christianity belongs in the public sphere or that I don’t want a genuinely Christian political party, but because it seems to me to open the door to way, way too many possible abuses, first and foremost being the implication that the party’s principles are Christian principles and anyone who questions them is not really Christian.

Also, I find the Solidarity Party’s statement to be vague, generic, and unhelpful: “we seek to promote the common good and the material and spiritual welfare of the all people.” What does this mean? How does this differentiate them from any other political party?

The Constitution Party’s statement is straightforward and direct: “We seek to…uphold the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights.” I feel like I’ve gotten a better sense of the party’s philosophy in that one paragraph than in the Solidarity Party’s three.

Winner: Constitution Party

Party Platform/Key Issues:

Right to Life

Constitution Party:

We affirm the God-given legal personhood of all human beings from fertilization to natural death, without exception.

Solidarity Party:

We support constitutional and legal measures that establish the Right to Life from conception until natural death.

Thoughts:

Basically, both parties oppose abortion in all circumstances (the Constitution Party makes this clear, the Solidarity Party implies it).

Beyond that, however, I find the Constitution Party’s position, at least as outlined on its website, more satisfying because they keep the focus of the issue where it needs to be: abortion, embryonic stem-cells, and government funding of the same. The Solidarity Party lumps it in with items on capital punishment, war, violent crime, and “social services for…vulnerable persons.” I found all this distracting and disheartening. Abortion, euthanasia, and ESC research are straightforward issues: either you support them or you don’t. They are clearly morally repulsive and cannot be permitted. But the others are complex and difficult ones involving a wealth of other concerns and tangled up with innumerable contributing factors that don’t really allow for the same kind of absolute stance. Men of good will can disagree about the best way to deal with them.

This is a problem I have with the pro-life movement: that it often lumps completely different issues like capital punishment, war, violent crime, and so on together with abortion under the heading of ‘culture of death.’ I think this makes it look as if it takes an absurdly simplistic view of the world, undermining its arguments against the unambiguously evil practices like abortion (it may be reasonable to oppose capital punishment, but trying to link it with abortion is absurd).

But that’s another issue. The point is, both are on the side of life, but the Constitution Party comes across more intelligent about it.

Winner: Constitution Party

Religious Liberty

Constitution Party:

We call upon all branches of government to cease their attacks on the religious liberties of the people and the states, regardless of the forum in which these liberties are exercised.

Solidarity Party:

We acknowledge that the Judeo-Christian worldview has played a positive role in the history and culture of the United States of America. We advocate for laws that allow people of all faiths to practice their religion without intimidation and deplore aggressive secularism that seeks to remove religion from the public sphere.

Thoughts:

Considering it’s the explicitly religious party of the two, I was surprised to find the SP a lot less aggressive in its defense of Religious Liberty than the CP. I also note that the SP “calls for laws” to defend religious liberty, while the CP points out that the Constitution doesn’t allow for any other kind of law. The ASP specifically mentions the Judeo-Christian worldview, but states rather toothlessly that it “has played a positive role in the history and culture of the United States of America.” The CP doesn’t mention the Judeo-Christian worldview specifically, but it does specify both that it is against the taxation of churches and that private organizations can hire and fire whoever they want.

Winner: Constitution Party

Family

Constitution Party:

The law of our Creator defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman. The marriage covenant is the foundation of the family, and the family is fundamental in the maintenance of a stable, healthy and prosperous social order. No government may legitimately authorize or define marriage or family relations contrary to what God has instituted. We are opposed to any judicial ruling or amending the U.S. Constitution or any state constitution re-defining marriage with any definition other than the Biblical standard.

American Solidarity Party:

We support the legal recognition of marriage as a union of one man to one woman for life.

Thoughts:

Again, they say the same thing, but the CP says it better.

Winner: Constitution Party.

Gun Rights

Constitution Party:

The Constitution Party upholds the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms. We oppose attempts to prohibit ownership of guns by law-abiding citizens, and stand against all laws which would require the registration of guns or ammunition.

Solidarity Party:

Not mentioned.

Thoughts:

That’s suspicious; if they valued the right to bear arms, they would have mentioned it. Thus we have a victory by forfeit.

Winner: Constitution Party

Environment

Constitution Party:

We wholeheartedly support realistic efforts to preserve the environment and reduce pollution – air, water, and land. We reject, however, the argument of the perceived threat of man-made global warming which has been refuted by a large number of scientists. The globalists are using the global warming threat to gain more control via worldwide sustainable development.

Solidarity Party:

We advocate a cap-and-dividend approach to the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Producers will bid for permits to emit a fixed amount of greenhouse gasses; revenue from the permits will be applied to ecological research and the Citizens’ Dividend.

Thoughts:

I have some concerns with the Constitution Party’s platform, such as calling for the repeal of the Endangered Species Act. I think they go a little too far in the direction of rolling back environmental policy. However the Solidarity Party simply embraces the extreme in the other direction. They call for the end of fracking (AKA the source of about the only growth the American economy has experienced in the past decade), the subsidizing of worthless alternatives like solar and wind, and, of course, swallow the climate change hysteria wholesale.

No competition on this one: one side advocates possibly irresponsible policies, the other supports gutting the US economy for the sake of a scientific fad.

Winner: Constitution Party

Drugs

Constitution Party:

The Constitution Party will uphold the right of states and localities to restrict access to drugs and to enforce such restrictions. We support legislation to stop the flow of illegal drugs into the United States from foreign sources. As a matter of self-defense, retaliatory policies including embargoes, sanctions, and tariffs, should be considered.

At the same time, we will take care to prevent violations of the Constitutional and civil rights of American citizens. Searches without probable cause and seizures without due process must be prohibited, and the presumption of innocence must be preserved.

Solidarity Party:

            We support the decriminalization (not the legalization) of recreational drugs. Funds currently expended on the “war on drugs” should be directed toward prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation.

Thoughts:

The drug issue is a complicated one that I haven’t made up my own mind on. Though I think my ideas, such as they are, are closer to the Constitution Party: it’s up to the states what drugs are illegal and what penalties are incurred by their possession, but individual rights must be protected at the same time.

On the whole, I’m calling this one for the CP: I’m deeply skeptical of the effectiveness of government-funded prevention programs, so I think the CP policy seems like it would be more effective.

Winner: Constitution Party

Crime and Punishment

Constitution Party:

Crime, in most cases, is to be dealt with by state and local governments. To the degree that the federal government, in its legislation, judicial actions, regulations, and executive branch activities, interferes with the ability of the people in their communities to apprehend, judge, and penalize accused lawbreakers, it bears responsibility for the climate of crime, which has grown more destructive with each passing year.

Solidarity Party:

The ASP believes that preventing and punishing crime is an essential public service. We oppose the privatization of law-enforcement and penal institutions.

Thoughts:

Yet again, the Constitution Party’s platform is a lot more coherent than the Solidarity Party’s, whose crime platform is a mishmash of different statements rather than a clear and consistent set of principles. And, on the whole, I don’t care for a lot of those statements. The Solidarity Party calls for criminalization of pornography, reform of the laws related to prostitution, and “vigorous enforcement of human trafficking laws,” which are all good ideas, but they also call for the “civilian review boards at all levels of law enforcement,” which I think is a terrible idea (some civilian oversight needs to be in place, but cops don’t need to constantly be trying to explain their actions to people who have no law enforcement experience). They also support “ban the box” initiatives, which are meant to forbid employers from asking whether an applicant has been convicted of a crime (not only is that something that very clearly has a bearing on whether a person should be hired, but it shows a disturbing willingness on the part of the SP to stick their fingers into private business).

Meanwhile, the Constitution Party mostly sticks to the principle that, except in some cases, crime and punishment are the duties of the states, not the federal government. Not sure I would go as far as they do, but I like the notion of letting local jurisdictions handling their own affairs. I also really like their calls to remove “hate crime” legislation, which I always thought was an incredibly stupid and blatantly illegal measure.

Another no contest.

Winner: Constitution Party

Education

Constitution Party:

            All teaching is related to basic assumptions about God and man. Education as a whole, therefore, cannot be separated from religious faith. The law of our Creator assigns the authority and responsibility of educating children to their parents. Education should be free from all federal government subsidies, including vouchers, tax incentives, and loans, except with respect to veterans.

Solidarity Party:

The ASP believes that the responsibility for the education of children resides primarily in the family. Families should be free to home-school their children or send them to public or private schools.

Thoughts:

On the whole, the two parties are pretty similar, but, as usual, the CP is more specific and consistent: calling for the end of all federal involvement in education and the dismantling of the Department of Education. I’m definitely with the CP on this one: there’s zero authority in either the Constitution or the Bill of Rights for the federal government to be involved in education.

However, I will say that I appreciate the SP’s call for ‘initiatives to improve education for virtue and citizenship,’ which I think are probably the most pressing educational needs in this country.

This one’s close, but again I have to give it to the one that knows how to state its principles.

Winner: Constitution Party

Healthcare

Constitution Party:

The Constitution Party opposes the governmentalization and bureaucratization of American medicine. Government regulation and subsidy constitutes a threat to both the quality and availability of patient-oriented health care and treatment. Hospitals, doctors, and other health care providers should be accountable to patients – not to politicians, insurance bureaucrats, or HMO Administrators.

Solidarity Party:

The ASP advocates the replacement of privately-funded health insurance with a decentralized ‘single-payer’ system.

Thoughts:

Decentralized or no, I can’t support a ‘single payer’ healthcare system. Honestly, this isn’t my field, so I don’t know how practical the CP’s platform is, but I don’t trust any kind of unified single payer system and I think les government interference in healthcare is always to be preferred at this point.

Winner: Constitution Party

Immigration

Constitution Party:

We affirm the integrity of the international borders of the United States and the Constitutional authority and duty of the federal government to guard and to protect those borders, including the regulation of the numbers and of the qualifications of immigrants into the country.

Solidarity Party:

The ASP calls for reform of immigration laws, including amnesty and a path to citizenship for aliens currently residing within our borders.

Thoughts:

Yeah, I’m with the CP on this one. National borders are vital to the survival of a nation, and unrestricted immigration, while it sounds charitable, really only ends up destroying the very things that attract immigrants in the first place. A nation has a right to its own sovereignty and to maintain its own national identity, and unrestricted immigration renders that impossible. Not to mention that, in a welfare state, such as we have, unrestricted immigration is a short route to national destruction.

Basically, we can either have the welfare state or open borders, but not both and preferably neither.

I don’t know what to do with the illegal immigrants already here, but my instinct is to go with the rule of law, difficult and harsh as it seems to be, and then use that experience as a motivator to keep our borders secure in the future so we don’t have to go through this mess again.

Winner: Constitution Party

Trade

Constitution Party:

We support a tariff based revenue system, as did the Founding Fathers, which was the policy of the United States during most of the nation’s history. In no event will the U.S. tariff on any foreign import be less than the difference between the foreign item’s cost of production and the cost of production of a similar item produced in the United States. The cost of production of a U.S. product shall include, but not be limited to, all compensation, including fringe benefits, paid to American workers, and environmental costs of doing business imposed on business by federal, state, and local governments.

Solidarity Party:

We maintain that international trade agreements should guarantee the freedom of all participants. We are opposed to regulations and loopholes that protect special interests at the expense of consumers. We are opposed to favorable trade status for countries in which workers are exploited, and to agreements that favor international corporations over local producers.

Thoughts:

Neither of the parties seems to me quite satisfactory on trade: the Solidarity Party again seems to think of trade as an opportunity to meddle with private enterprise and promote it’s uneven moral and environmental agenda. The Constitution Party, meanwhile, calls for a return to the tariff based system that was barely functional by the end of the 19th century and which, as I understand it, would be an absolute nightmare in the global economy of the 21st.

On the whole, I’m in favor of free trade and open competition. It forces the parties involved to grow and evolve with a changing world. England tried to maintain a economy directed solely to the maintenance of her own manufacturers, and she fell behind. America can’t do the same.

Winner: Solidarity Party

Welfare

Constitution Party:

Charity, and provision of welfare to those in need, is not a Constitutional responsibility of the federal government. Under no circumstances should the taxpayers of the United States be obligated, under penalty of law through forced taxation, to assume the cost of providing welfare for other citizens. Neither should taxpayers be indentured to subsidize welfare for persons who enter the United States illegally.

Solidarity Party:

            We oppose the sudden elimination or reduction of income supports such as welfare, food stamps, and unemployment insurance, when no other safety net is in place.

We call for the gradual replacement of needs-based welfare and assistance payments with a Citizens’ Dividend, funded by the collection of unearned income.

Thoughts:

I agree with the CP that welfare is not a constitutional responsibility of the government and that it is a disastrous, morally degrading system that needs to be replaced.

However, I’m concerned about how they plan to do that, as a sudden elimination of the system would be unthinkable, as the SP points out.

But I don’t know about the ‘Citizen’s Dividend’ of the Solidarity Party either; it seems to me that they’re admitting the principle of forced government ‘charity,’ which I don’t like.

This one’s close, but I trust the CP’s principles more, even if I’m a little concerned with how they intend to carry them out.

Winner: Constitution Party

Economy/Taxes

Constitution Party:

We propose legislation to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, and will veto any authorization, appropriation, or continuing resolution which contains any funding whatsoever for that illicit and unconstitutional agency. We are opposed to the flat-rate tax, national sales tax, and value added tax proposals that are being promoted as an improvement to the current tax system. The Sixteenth Amendment does not provide authority for an un-apportioned direct tax.

            It is our intention to replace, with a tariff based revenue system supplemented by excise taxes, the current tax system of the U.S. government (including income taxes, payroll taxes, and estate taxes.)

Solidarity Party:

            The ASP believes that political economy (economics) is a branch of political ethics. We reject models of economic behavior based on greed and naked self-interest.

-To build an economy that is fair, transparent, and democratic, we support models of production and distribution that are local, responsible, and sustainable.

-We support the creation of family-owned businesses and worker cooperatives. We oppose regulations designed to inhibit competition from smaller firms.

-We advocate a tax shift from earned income (wages and interest) to unearned income (economic rent). We propose to shift the burden of property taxes from buildings and improvements to ground rents.

Thoughts:

Again, I don’t particularly care for either of these. The CP returns to its ridiculous tariff policy because, hey, that worked in the eighteenth century; no reason it can’t work now! Meanwhile, the SP rejects “models of economic behavior based on greed and naked self-interest,” which sounds to me like wild work. Has there ever been a functional economic system that wasn’t based on self-interest? And what kind of system do they have in mind? Distributism, with all respect to Mr. Chesterton, isn’t a real economic system: it’s vague smoke blown by someone who didn’t like the current system, but didn’t have the slightest idea how or why it worked the way it did.

On the other hand, the CP also calls for a return to the gold standard, which I like. I don’t trust a system built entirely on air. They also call for an end of wage and price controls (no more of the hated minimum wage), which is good.

Here we have the problem of the SP being too vague to be taken seriously and the CP being precise, but wrong. Though I don’t especially like it, I’m going to have to go with the Solidarity Party here. There’s a possibility they might do something right, while the CP, though parts of its policy are appealing, is just plain wrong in its main strategy.

Winner: Solidarity Party

National Defense

Constitution Party:

It is a primary obligation of the federal government to provide for the common defense, and to be vigilant regarding potential threats, prospective capabilities, and perceived intentions of potential enemies.

Solidarity Party:

Doesn’t specify.

Thoughts:

This isn’t encouraging. The SP talks about its foreign policy, but not about its policy regarding the military itself. The CP specifically rejects the idea of disarmament or the dismantling of the US defense structure, calls for fiscal responsibility and mission focus in funding the military, and condemns the ‘feminization’ of the military. The best we can say for the SP is that is opposes female conscription and the use of torture. So, we have another forfeit.

Winner: Constitution Party

Terrorism

Constitution Party:

America is engaged in an undeclared war with an ill-defined enemy (terrorism), a war which threatens to be never ending, and which is being used to vastly expand government power, particularly that of the executive branch, at the expense of the individual liberties of the American people.

Solidarity Party:

The ASP believes that a less aggressive foreign policy will reduce the threat of terrorism within our borders. In the short term, we call for a review of the effectiveness of centralized and specialized anti-terrorist agencies, such as the TSA.

Thoughts:

Groan

I agree with the CP that the War on Terror is being mishandled and used to expand the power of the federal government unforgivably. However, the fact that this apparently their primary take on the subject is ridiculous. Elsewhere they announce their opposition to America’s involvement in the Middle East, making me wonder just what they intend to do about the threat of terrorism, especially now that we have an actual organized national power on our hand in the form of ISIS.

The SP isn’t any better. They believe that “a less aggressive foreign policy will reduce the threat of terrorism within our borders.” So, if we back down, the bullies won’t hurt us. Has that ever been effective? People like this are predators: they see a lack of aggression as weakness and weakness as an invitation to attack.

So, on one side we have “The rest of the world can go to Hell: it doesn’t affect us” and on the other we have “If we’re just nice to them they’ll leave us alone.”

Winner: None. You are both equally worthless.

Foreign Policy

Constitution Party:

Since World War II, the United States has increasingly played the undesirable role of an international policeman. Through our involvements abroad our country is being changed from a republic to a world empire in which our freedoms are being sacrificed on an altar of international involvement. The United States is now committed by treaty to defend foreign nations in all parts of the world, and by agreements other than treaties to defend more. Therefore, we call upon the President, and Congress, to immediately commence a systematic withdrawal from these treaties and agreements, each of which holds the potential to plunge America into war in some far-flung corner of the earth.  NATO, for instance, serves no defensive purpose for the United States, and this country should withdraw from it.

Solidarity Party:

We call for an end to unilateral military intervention in foreign countries and the closing of US military bases abroad, where these are not required to protect diplomatic missions or to meet explicit treaty obligations.

Thoughts:

Again, groan.

Now me, I’m something of an imperialist. I believe that the world is at it’s most secure and reaches its closest approximation of world peace only when there is a dominant world power enforcing order across a wide area and which has a powerful influence over other nations (see Rome, Britain). I also believe that the world is such today that there will be such a power, and the only question is who it will be. Nature abhors a vacuum, and the filling of power vacuums tends to be very destructive.

Basically, I don’t agree with either of them particularly. I think that if we abdicate our position of world power, we’ll see either Russia or China step in to take it, and no one’s going to like that. I also think that ISIS is the natural result of the retreat of the West from world affairs: the barbaric cultures that were suppressed or quieted by European dominance claw their way out again, only this time with the ability to strike all over the globe.

Like it or not, either someone will play world cop, or someone else will play world robber.

To make matters worse, the Constitution Party doesn’t seem to realize that Europe isn’t the center of the world anymore, or that isolationism isn’t an option and hasn’t been since the dawn of the twentieth century. At the same time I don’t trust the Solidarity Party at all to actually stand up and fight if it comes to it (see the terrorism section above).

In short, I don’t like either foreign policy, but I’d trust the CP in a crisis more than I trust the SP.

Winner: None.

Least Bad Option: Constitution Party

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Both parties advocate personal morality and call for legal restrictions on pornography and sex-related businesses. Both claim to call for a reduction of federal power, though the SP seems kind of inconsistent on that and more concerned with pushing its moral agenda without concern for whether it clashes with the principle of limited government, while the CP takes care to justify its moral agenda with its limited government principles. Point to the Constitution Party.

Both call for election reform. The CP quixotically calls for the end of the ‘party system,’ as if anything the government could do could stop the organization of parties. The SP claims it “opposes unduly restrictive voter registration laws.” I’m not sure what they mean by that, it smells suspicious to me. Not sure which I prefer here.

The SP “Opposes union-busting laws” without any distinction between private and public sector unions, while the CP, as far as I could find, didn’t mention labor at all: presumably, they consider that a matter for the states. Since the SP supports ‘unions’ as such without qualification, I’m assuming they favor public sector unions as well. Point to the Constitution Party.

The Constitution Party declares its support for free enterprise. The Solidarity Party favors free trade, but from its support for free enterprise seems inconsistent (again): they support the creation of small businesses and oppose restrictive regulations, but support other regulations to make a more fair and equal field. Point to the Constitution Party.

The SP opposes the privation of Social Security; the CP calls for the gradual phasing out of the system and replacing it with an opportunity to choose between a private retirement fund or a pension program. I’m with the CP here: point to the Constitution Party.

Summary

Neither party is exactly what I’d want to vote for. On the major issues of foreign policy and the economy, I find them both very weak. Whichever one I voted for, I would be counting on the opposition to rein them in on those issues.

Both claim to be in favor of reducing the federal government in favor of local authority. That’s good. Both are on the right side of the major moral issues of abortion, same-sex ‘marriage,’ religious freedom, and personal virtue. Both call for electoral reform. So far, they are both good parties.

However, I find the Constitution Party has a much more coherent, consistent, and clear platform. It couches each of its positions in its basic principles and lays them out in a concise, specific, and easy-to-understand manner. It bases itself in religious and traditional principles and applies them to individual issues in a consistent fashion. The Solidarity Party, on the other hand, has a vague, inconsistent platform that claims to value freedom, local authority, and tradition, but which includes many authoritarian, intrusive, and untested policies, including the embrace of the global warming myth, single-payer healthcare, and policies meant to create ‘economic fairness.’

I feel reasonably confident that, if the Constitution Party came to power, I could trust it to pretty much do what it said it would. I wouldn’t trust the Solidarity Party on anything but strictly moral policies, and not always even then. Moreover, in terms of debate, the CP is solid: it argues succinctly from real principles. I think the Constitution Party could actually convince people to support it. I don’t think the Solidarity Party could: it’s too inconsistent and too much what I would call a point-by-point party. That is, it feels like the party leaders decided their position on each issue individually rather than drawing their conclusions from a unified set of principles to make a coherent whole.

In short, the Constitution Party, even when it’s wrong, stands by its principles, and they are, for the most part, good, or at least consistent principles. The Solidarity Party seems to apply its principles only in certain cases and certain times. On moral issues it is sound. On everything else, it’s a mess.

And the Vote Goes To: The Constitution Party.

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I Don’t Care Anymore

You may have heard that the EEOC has declared that the Gadsden flag, one of the flags of the American Revolution, constitution racial harassment.

The complaint was based on the fact that the flag was designed by Christopher Gadsden, a “slave trader and owner of slaves,” and for the fact that it was heavily used by the Tea Party, which promoted “white resentment against blacks.”

So, an obscure bit of historical trivia and a ridiculously false interpretation of recent events and another bit of American heritage is banished from the public sphere.

By this logic, handing a black man a twenty-dollar bill constitutes racial harassment, because it shows the image of a well-known slave owner. Apparently, when I gave alms to a homeless man, I was at one with the Klan.

But you know what? I don’t care. You understand? I don’t care anymore. I don’t care if the Gadsden flag, or the Confederate flag, or a twenty-dollar bill, or whatever else is technically ‘racist.’ I’m so sick of this nonsense. I’m sick of people striving to find an offensive interpretation of everything they happen to dislike. I’m sick of having my country’s history and heritage destroyed and defamed before my eyes.

And I’m especially sick of being told that I need to confess to crimes that I haven’t committed and beliefs that I’ve never held and have hardly ever even encountered. I only learned that there was such a thing as racism through learning that it was wrong. Practically the only thing I was taught all through my stint in public school was the evils of racism and the glories of the Civil Rights movement. My generation does not have racism as its besetting sin.

So you know what? I am officially tapped out of sympathy. I don’t care anymore. I don’t care if you think someone’s acted racist towards you. I don’t care if you think a flag or a shirt is racist. I don’t care if you feel undervalued or marginalized or any of the other buzzwords. You have left the reasonable demand for basic courtesy behind long ago, and I’m not playing your game anymore.

To people like the man who sued his coworker for wearing the Gadsden flag, your ancestors earned undying glory by volunteering to fight in every American war even when they were legally second-class citizens. You can show some basic courtesy and not throw a childish tantrum because you don’t like someone’s hat.

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