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What they call confidence, I call hubris. What they call happiness, I call slavery. How about you?

Recently, I have been confronted by folks accusing Your Humble Narrator of being "too negative". These words have come at me from...

"Let no freedom be allowed to novelty, because it is not fitting that any addition should be made to antiquity. Let not the clear faith and belief of our forefathers be fouled by any muddy admixture." -- Pope Sixtus III

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Thomas Sowell is a real mensch. We need more like him.

Thank you, Dr. Sowell, for your relentless dedication to truth and freedom. Enjoy your retirement, sir.

From The Jewish World Review:


12/28/16: Farewell   

Even the best things come to an end. After enjoying a quarter of a century of writing this column for Creators Syndicate, I have decided to stop. Age 86 is well past the usual retirement age, so the question is not why I am quitting, but why I kept at it so long.

It was very fulfilling to be able to share my thoughts on the events unfolding around us, and to receive feedback from readers across the country — even if it was impossible to answer them all.

Being old-fashioned, I liked to know what the facts were before writing. That required not only a lot of research, it also required keeping up with what was being said in the media.

During a stay in Yosemite National Park last May, taking photos with a couple of my buddies, there were four consecutive days without seeing a newspaper or a television news program — and it felt wonderful. With the political news being so awful this year, it felt especially wonderful.

This made me decide to spend less time following politics and more time on my photography, adding more pictures to my website (www.tsowell.com).

Looking back over the years, as old-timers are apt to do, I see huge changes, both for the better and for the worse.

In material things, there has been almost unbelievable progress. Most Americans did not have refrigerators back in 1930, when I was born. Television was little more than an experiment, and such things as air-conditioning or air travel were only for the very rich.
My own family did not have electricity or hot running water, in my early childhood, which was not unusual for blacks in the South in those days.

It is hard to convey to today's generation the fear that the paralyzing disease of polio inspired, until vaccines put an abrupt end to its long reign of terror in the 1950s.

Most people living in officially defined poverty in the 21st century have things like cable television, microwave ovens and air-conditioning. Most Americans did not have such things, as late as the 1980s. People whom the intelligentsia continue to call the "have-nots" today have things that the "haves" did not have, just a generation ago.

In some other ways, however, there have been some serious retrogressions over the years. Politics, and especially citizens' trust in their government, has gone way downhill.

Back in 1962, President John F. Kennedy, a man narrowly elected just two years earlier, came on television to tell the nation that he was taking us to the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, because the Soviets had secretly built bases for nuclear missiles in Cuba, just 90 miles from America.

Most of us did not question what he did. He was President of the United States, and he knew things that the rest of us couldn't know — and that was good enough for us. Fortunately, the Soviets backed down. But could any President today do anything like that and have the American people behind him?

Years of lying Presidents — Democrat Lyndon Johnson and Republican Richard Nixon, especially — destroyed not only their own credibility, but the credibility which the office itself once conferred. The loss of that credibility was a loss to the country, not just to the people holding that office in later years.

With all the advances of blacks over the years, nothing so brought home to me the social degeneration in black ghettoes like a visit to a Harlem high school some years ago.

When I looked out the window at the park across the street, I mentioned that, as a child, I used to walk my dog in that park. Looks of horror came over the students' faces, at the thought of a kid going into the hell hole which that park had become in their time.

When I have mentioned sleeping out on a fire escape in Harlem during hot summer nights, before most people could afford air-conditioning, young people have looked at me like I was a man from Mars. But blacks and whites alike had been sleeping out on fire escapes in New York since the 19th century. They did not have to contend with gunshots flying around during the night.

We cannot return to the past, even if we wanted to, but let us hope that we can learn something from the past to make for a better present and future.

Goodbye and good luck to all.


12/27/16: Random Thoughts, Looking Back 

Any honest man, looking back on a very long life, must admit — even if only to himself — being a relic of a bygone era. Having lived long enough to have seen both "the greatest generation" that fought World War II and the gratingest generation that we see all around us today, makes being a relic of the past more of a boast than an admission.

"Gratingist" is a perfect neologism.

Not everything in the past was admirable. Poet W.H. Auden called the 1930s "a low dishonest decade." So were the 1960s, which launched many of the trends we are experiencing so painfully today. Some of the fashionable notions of the 1930s reappeared in the 1960s, often using the very same discredited words and producing the same disastrous consequences.

The old are not really smarter than the young, in terms of sheer brainpower. It is just that we have already made the kinds of mistakes that the young are about to make, and we have already suffered the consequences that the young are going to suffer, if they disregard the record of the past.

If you want to understand the fatal dangers facing America today, read "The Gathering Storm" by Winston Churchill. The book is not about America, the Middle East or nuclear missiles. But it shows Europe's attitudes and delusions — aimed at peace in the years before the Second World War — which instead ended up bringing on that most terrible war in all of human history.

Black adults, during the years when I was growing up in Harlem, had far less education than black adults today — but far more common sense. In an age of artificial intelligence, too many of our schools and colleges are producing artificial stupidity, among both blacks and whites.


The first time I traveled across the Atlantic Ocean, as the plane flew into the skies over London I was struck by the thought that, in these skies, a thousand British fighter pilots fought off Hitler's air force and saved both Britain and Western civilization. But how many students today will have any idea of such things, with history being neglected in favor of politically correct rhetoric?

You cannot live a long life without having been forced to change your mind many times about people and things — including in some cases, your whole view of the world. Those who glorify the young today do them a great disservice, when this sends inexperienced young people out into the world cocksure about things on which they have barely scratched the surface.

In my first overseas trip, I was struck by blatantly obvious differences in behavior among different groups, such as the Malays and the Chinese in Malaysia — and wondered why scholars who were far more well-traveled than I was seemed not to have noticed such things, and to have resorted to all sorts of esoteric theories to explain why some groups earned higher incomes than others.

There are words that were once common, but which are seldom heard any more. The phrase "none of your business" is one of these. Today, everything seems to be the government's business or the media's business. And the word "risque" would be almost impossible to explain to young people, in a world where gross vulgarity is widespread and widely accepted.

Back when I taught at UCLA, I was constantly amazed at how little so many students knew. Finally, I could no longer restrain myself from asking a student the question that had long puzzled me: "What were you doing for the last 12 years before you got here?"


Reading about the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, and the widespread retrogressions of Western civilization that followed, was an experience that was sobering, if not crushing. Ancient history in general lets us know how long human beings have been the way they are, and dampens giddy zeal for the latest panaceas, despite how politically correct those panaceas may be.

When I was growing up, we were taught the stories of people whose inventions and scientific discoveries had expanded the lives of millions of other people. Today, students are being taught to admire those who complain, denounce and demand.

The first column I ever wrote, 39 years ago, was titled "The Profits of Doom." This was long before Al Gore made millions of dollars promoting global warming hysteria. Back in 1970, the prevailing hysteria was the threat of a new ice age — promoted by some of the same environmentalists who are promoting global warming hysteria today.

TheChurchMilitant: Sometimes anti-social, but always anti-fascist since 2005.





Monday, December 26, 2016

If you think I was too hard on that dead son of a bitch Castro, read this!

     Armando Valladares is a real man, a gentleman, and a great Christian. Pray, kiddies, that you may never have your faith tested like this brave man and his comrades.

     And when it does happen [as it surely will] pray even harder that you will not be found wanting. The totalitarians of both the left and the right don't give a flying fuck about your body. They want your souls!

                Armando Valladares’s story says more about Fidel Castro than any obituary could. It’s a part of the Fidel Castro story Michael Moore and Sean Penn won’t tell, or don’t know. It’s a story you certainly didn’t hear from the media as they endlessly opined about Castro’s “complicated” legacy. But it reveals so much more about the dictator than they ever could.

The year was 1959. Castro, a young revolutionary, had seized Cuba’s imagination with talk of democracy and a new vision for its people. It didn’t take long, however, for one follower to discover Castro’s true nature, and for Castro to run up against the limits of his own earthly power.

  Armando Valladares may not have been the first man to challenge the Cuban dictator, but he eventually became the best known. By his own account, the young Valladares was an early supporter of Castro’s revolution, taking a job in the Office of the Ministry of Communications for the Revolutionary Government, where he worked as a postal clerk. But all of that changed when he was asked to put a communist slogan on his desk. It comprised three simple words: “I’m with Fidel.” He refused.

A young artist and poet who also happened to be a Christian, Valladares understood the meaning of the request. What he did not know, and could not know, was how far his own government would go to bend him to its will.

Soon after his refusal to comply, Valladares was arrested by political police at his parents’ home. Faced with trumped up charges of terrorism — a favorite tactic of the Castro regime for silencing dissent — he was given a 30-year sentence. Valladares would spend time in different prison camps for the next 22 years.

The first, La Cabaña, forged some of the very worst memories. “Each night, the firing squad executed scores of men in its trenches,” he told the Becket Fund, which last year honored him with its Canterbury Prize, given annually to a person who embodies an unfailing commitment to religious freedom. “We could hear each phase of the executions, and during this time, these young men — patriots — would die shouting ‘Long live Christ, the King. Down with Communism!’ And then you would hear the gunshots. Every night there were shootings. Every night. Every night. Every night.”

May God have mercy on their brave souls.

Years passed, and the communists fixated on enrolling prisoners in reeducation programs. Valladares, still early in his sentence, was offered the chance at “political rehabilitation” but refused to comply.

He was sent to an even more brutal prison, and the government ramped up its efforts to break his spirit. Armando Valladares may not have been the first man to challenge the Cuban dictator, but he eventually became the best known. “I spent eight years locked in a blackout cell, without sunlight or even artificial light. I never left. I was stuck in a cell, ten feet long, four feet wide, with a hole in the corner to take care of my bodily needs. No running water. Naked. Eight years,” Valladares recalled.“All of the torture, all of the violations of human rights, had one goal: break the prisoner’s resistance and make them accept political rehabilitation. That was their only objective.”

After nearly a decade, prison officials adjusted their terms. If Armando would simply sign a document renouncing his beliefs and embracing Communism, he could return to his family. The choice was simple: physical freedom or spiritual liberty. “For many people, it wasn’t practical to resist. Better to sign the paper and leave,” Valladares said. “But for me, signing that paper would have been spiritual suicide.” So how did Valladares do it? How did his faith and spirit endure during those years alone in prison?

“In the beginning, I embraced God perhaps for fear of losing my life, since I was in danger of being executed,” he told the National Association of Evangelicals in 1983. But hearing those men proclaim their love for Christ just prior to their executions moved him in ways he could not have imagined:

"I realized then that Christ could be of help. Not merely by saving my life, but also giving my life, and my death if that was the case, an ethical sense that would dignify them. I believe that it was at that particular moment, and not before, when Christianity, besides being a religious faith, became a way of life that in my own circumstances resulted in resistance — resisting torture, resisting confinement, resisting hunger, and even resisting the constant temptation to join the political rehabilitation and indoctrination programs that would end my predicament.

The battle lines were drawn for Valladares: the material life versus the spiritual life. Castro and his earthly ambitions of a utopian dictatorship versus Christ and His promise of everlasting life for those who follow Him.

Castro fought hard, desperate to strip Valladares of his most valuable possession: his sense of morality. But once again, his faith proved up to the task. “To be Christian under those circumstances meant that I could not hate my tormentors; it meant to maintain the belief the suffering was meaningful because if man gives up his moral and religious values, or if he allows himself to be carried by a desire to hate or for revenge, his existence loses all meaning,” he explained.

Valladares noted often that he was not alone in his spiritual battle with Castro. His fellow Christians showed him the way: I saw dozens of Christians suffering and dying — committed, like myself, to maintaining their dignity and their richness of spirit beyond misery and pain.

"I remember with emotion Gerardo Gonzalez, a Protestant preacher, who knew by heart whole Biblical passages and who would copy them by hand to share with his brothers in belief. I cannot forget this man whom all of us called “Brother in Faith.” He interposed himself before a burst of machine-gun fire to save other prisoners who were beaten in what is known now as the Massacre of Boniato Prison. Gerardo repeated, before dying, the words said by Christ on the cross: 'Forgive them, Father for they know not what they do.' And all of us, when the blood had dried, struggled with our consciences to attain something so difficult yet so beautiful: the ability to forgive our enemies."

Valladares’s God, too, showed him the way and the light. “There are no impossibilities for those who love and seek God,” he said. “The more ferocious the hate of my jailers, the more my heart would fill with love and a faith that gave me strength to support everything; but not with the conformist or masochistic attitude; rather, full of joy, internal peace and freedom because Christ walked with me in my cell.”

While in prison, Valladares began to write poetry denouncing his oppressors. Without paper or pen, he wrote on cigarette papers and onion skins, using his blood as ink. His wife, whom he met in prison, smuggled the poems to the outside world and they became his first book, From My Wheelchair, released in 1977. “There is nothing dictators fear more than artists, especially poets,” Valladares wrote.

In “Life Was Not Enough,” dedicated to Pedro Luis Boitel, whom he called “an unforgettable brother,” he expanded on the thought:

Life was not enough for you in that torture chamber but there were rifle butts and boots to spare buckets of urine and excrement thrown in your face. They could not forgive you your labors of light and words they feared your smile the eloquence of your hands they feared the fertility of your ideas and your manner of being silent they feared your life, Pedro, and they murdered you . . .

Today, Valladares paints rather than writing poems. His pictures are not scenes of torture and darkness, but vibrant landscapes that depict his soul — the refuge where he survived Castro’s war on his body and his conscience. But in his speech last year to the Becket Fund, he stressed that his experience had taught him the need for vigilance in defense of freedom: Just as there is a very short distance between the U.S. and Cuba, there is a very short distance between a democracy and a dictatorship where the government gets to decide what to do, how to think, and how to live. And sometimes your freedom is not taken away at gunpoint but instead it is done one piece of paper at a time, one seemingly meaningless rule at a time, one small silencing at a time. Never allow the government — or anyone else — to tell you what you can or cannot believe or what you can and cannot say or what your conscience tells you to have to do or not do. Castro is dead, and there will be countless biographies dedicated to burnishing his legacy. But the best way to understand his life is to appreciate the life of one Cuban dissident he changed forever.

Armando Valladares’s story may never be required reading in Cuban schools, but it needs to be read in every American school. Call it “The Dictator and The Dissident.” It’s quite a yarn.

— Lee Habeeb is the vice president of content for Salem Radio Network. He is also the host of Our American Stories. He lives in Oxford, Miss.

TheChurchMilitant: Sometimes anti-social, but always anti-fascist since 2005.

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First of all, the word is SEX, not GENDER. If you are ever tempted to use the word GENDER, don't. The word is SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! For example: "My sex is male." is correct. "My gender is male." means nothing. Look it up. What kind of sick neo-Puritan nonsense is this? Idiot left-fascists, get your blood-soaked paws off the English language. Hence I am choosing "male" under protest.

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