Thursday, June 25, 2009 33 Comments

UR succumbs to virology

This week's post is postponed to the weekend.

If you need something to read in the meantime, why not consider Professor Seeley's classic of imperialist history, The Expansion of England (1883)? Or perhaps Professor Hearnshaw's Democracy at the Crossways (1918)? Or even Professor Hobhouse's intriguingly-titled Democracy and Reaction (1905)? As we Jews like to say - think British, dress Yiddish.

Friday, June 19, 2009 59 Comments

Émile Faguet on legal realism

If I may do a Deogolwulf:
The contempt for efficiency is carried far even in the liberal professions and in professional customs. We all know the story, perhaps a mythical one, of the judge who said to an earnest young barrister who was conscientiously elaborating a question of law: "Now, Mr. So and So, we are not here to discuss questions of law but to settle this business." He did not say this by way of jest; he wished to say: "The courts no longer deliver judgment on the merits of a case according to law, but according to equity and common sense. The intricacies of the law are left to professors, so please when conducting a case do not behave like a professor of law." This theory, which even in this mild form would have horrified the ancients, is very prevalent nowadays in legal circles. It has crept in as an infiltration, as one might call it, from the democratic system.

A magistrate, nowadays, whatever remnant of the ancient feeling of caste he may have retained, certainly does not consider himself bound by the letter of the law, or by jurisprudence, the written tradition; when he is anything more than a subordinate with no other idea of duty than subservience to the Government, he is a democratic magistrate, a Heliast of Athens; he delivers judgment according to the dictates of his individual conscience; he does not consider himself as a member of a learned body, bound to apply the decisions of that body, but as an independent exponent of the truth.

An eccentric, but in truth very significant, example of the new attitude of mind is to be found in the judge, who formally attributed to himself the right to make law and who in his judgments made references, not to existing laws, but to such vague generalities as appealed to him, or to doctrines which he prophesied would later on be embodied in the law. His Code was the Code of the future.

The mere existence of such a man is of no particular importance, but the fact that many people, even those partially enlightened, took him seriously, that he was popular, and that a considerable faction thought him a good judge, is most significant.
Émile Faguet, The Cult of Incompetence (1912, trans.), p. 162.

Note that in the English common-law tradition, this "code of the future" approach - which is, indeed, ridiculous on the face of it - is not even a 20th-century artifact. It dates not just to Holmes and Cardozo, not just to Marshall, but to Coke at least. Maybe Pepsi really is the choice of a new generation.

Thursday, June 18, 2009 61 Comments

The crimes of James von Brunn and Marcus Epstein

I feel it's really unfortunate that so few anti-government blogs have commented on these cases. While the crimes themselves may be more sordid than historic, the entire incident is a fresh fillet of wild history - to be grilled and served now, while it's still twitching.

But wait. Who are these people? What did they do, and why did they do it?

At present, everyone not in a Faraday cage on the dark side of Mars knows who James von Brunn is. But since here at UR we always write sub specie aeternitas, James von Brunn is an 88-year-old retired Navy officer who attacked the Holocaust Museum in Washington with a .22 rifle, killing a security guard and getting shot in the head in return. And earning the wall-to-wall coverage of which he perhaps dreamed.

Why? Some of his writings are online:
We fought two disastrous wars for the JEWS against Christian Aryan Germany. It is time to pay the piper. IT WILL HURT BADLY as North America and the Caribbean become ONE STATE within a ZIONIST GLOBAL EMPIRE.
Mr. von Brunn has a punchy diction which Judge Sotomayor could learn a lot from, and shares her interest in race, ethnicity, history and public policy. His grammar is better. She prevails on tone, typography and general sanity. As for content, perhaps a debate could be held. If Mr. von Brunn succumbs to his sucking head wound, a stand-in can be found any day at Stormfront.

(UR, of course, is a pro-Jew blog - not popular with this segment, to say the least. Anti-Jew comments are hereby prohibited, as are anything smacking of a personality cult. I'm sure everyone has heard enough from you Nazi swine, and it is simply bad form to praise anyone in his own comments section. Enforcement is on the honor system, as always.)

As for Marcus Epstein, he is a 25-year-old right-wing activist who works for Pat Buchanan's sister. Unlike James von Brunn, Mr. Epstein is a perfectly coherent writer. At least, when he's not drunk.

When he is drunk - at least, according to an Alford plea in court documents stolen by pro-government activists, a crime for which no one will be punished - he does things like this:
On July 7, 2007, at approximately 7:15 p.m. at Jefferson and M Street, Northwest, in Washington, D.C., defendant was walking down the street making offensive remarks when he encountered the complainant, Ms. [REDACTED], who is African-American. The defendant uttered, “Nigger,” as he delivered a karate chop to Ms. [REDACTED]’s head.
Alas, this progressive has it exactly right. Marcus Epstein is a racist. His inner self has impressed itself on the public record. He will always be McGregor the pigfscker. He might as well find a way to relax and enjoy it, preferably one that doesn't involve attacking museums.

(Watch Bay Buchanan, most nobly, defend him. Look at the comments on the article. This is Marcus Epstein's future. A friend of mine told me of a fellow freshman who in orientation at Stanford, in the late '90s, cracked some mildly racist joke. He was socially ostracized for his entire four years. For the rest of his career, Epstein will be employed by racists, or by no one. Very reminiscent of, say, Czechoslovakia in the '70s.)

Now: not every wingnut is a reactionary (I'm sure both von Brunn and Epstein, for very different reasons, would be horrified by UR), but every reactionary is a wingnut. Like it or not. And needless to say, wingnuts should want to talk about James von Brunn and Marcus Epstein, because here is a rare case of wingnuts in the news.

You'll notice that when the Times does a story on hang gliding, or whatever, the hang-gliding community is buzzing about it for weeks. When normal people see people like them described in the news, they find the experience highly informative and worthy of discussion.

Indeed, it often tells them more about the news than about themselves. And this indeed is our case today. It's not quite the same when normal people see abnormal people, who have some things in common with normal people except that they're abnormal, in the news - but it's close. Are there normal wingnuts? Yes, Ms. Beria, there are. They all read UR, or at least Steve.

And as for the abnormal ones, there is certainly no covering them up! This is yet another department in which, yet again, the right fails by adopting the tactics of the left. The left can cover things up by ignoring them. When the left stonewalls, it works. When the right tries to stonewall, it is creepy and pathetic. More on this in a little.

So as students of current history, how shall we evaluate these crimes - obviously, there can be no dispute that they were crimes - and the criminals behind them? What is the story here?

The first question we have to answer is: are these crimes important? If they are important, public attention is appropriately directed at important matters. If they are not important, public attention is inappropriately directed at unimportant matters. Which is important - so the events belong in our history, either way.

(Epstein's case has received little attention from the true press so far - one mention only in this gloriously-Vyshinskyesque Times column. But this may be due only to the delicate matter of the "obtained" documents, or other mysterious media internals. I expect to see more around the sentencing, and obviously the incident will be a permanent millstone for Tom Tancredo.)

When testing the importance of a crime, we have two tests. Is the crime itself, alone, important? Or, if not, does its historical context render it important?

First, let's consider the crimes, alone. Here is what happened. In Washington in 2007, a young drunk man was walking down the street cursing, and hit a random bystander. In Washington in 2009, a deranged old man brought a hunting rifle to a museum and shot a security guard.

We see instantly that when we describe the crimes, alone, they are - while certainly crimes - of little actual importance. Any public shooting is certainly a news event, and von Brunn's age alone perhaps provides a certain human-interest factor. This perhaps could qualify for a clip, segment or bus-plunge clipping.

But while perhaps interesting in this sense, there is certainly no sense in which von Brunn's crime - alone - could be described as important. A crazy, pointless murder in Washington, DC? It may not happen every day. But it happens every other day.

As for Epstein's crime - getting drunk and slapping someone on the street - it does happen every day. (Despite the "karate chop," any actual injury to the victim would surely be reported. My guess is that Epstein is not, in fact, a karate master, and his actual wasted intent was to pretend to karate-chop his unfortunate victim. But it would be nice to hear his side sometime.) Any record that incorporates any such crime - alone - is no history, but a police blotter.

We cannot consider the crime without the criminal. If an important person commits an unimportant crime, the event remains important. If Barack Obama got drunk and slapped someone on the street, it would be important.

James von Brunn was certainly not important. Marcus Epstein is a staffer, possibly the only staffer, at a tiny right-wing PAC on the outer fringes of legitimate politics. Not much importance here. Indeed, is this crime - alone - important enough to change Marcus Epstein's life, as described above?

If a friend of yours (I do not know Marcus Epstein) got wasted, and slapped and cursed at some random woman on the street, what would you say? "I disown you, Marcus, I hope you will fall into ignominy and despair, return to drink and kill yourself. How could you get wasted, and slap and curse at some random woman on the street? What if you were just walking down the street, and a drunk person cursed and slapped you? Please, Marcus, never speak to me again."

So far, this analysis does not tell us that these crimes are unimportant. It tells us that they are not important of themselves. In historical context, however, they may remain quite important.

How can a crime be unimportant in itself, but important in historical context? It must be part of a pattern of crimes. Each crime is unimportant, but the pattern is relevant. The pattern has weight, meaning, power; it moves the course of history. And thus it must be noted; to omit it is a distortion. And thus an unimportant crime may be worthy of notice, because it may be noticed to illustrate the pattern.

Since we're already on the subject of Hitler, there's no better example but the pattern of street crime committed by the Sturmabteilung in the pre-1933 period. (Note the real, ie non-Nazi, meaning of the word - basically, special forces. The hideously-comical nature of the early NSDAP is already visible in this appropriation.)

That some SA-Mann bashed some Communist over the head with a stein, making him see so double he could read Marx and Engels at the same time: not important. That well before 1933, the NSDAP intimidated its opponents by physical force: important.

In short, the crimes of the SA were political crimes. Both today's crimes must be at least candidates for this status. Like the Nazis, both these individuals hold unusual political views which contrast sharply with the views of the majority. It is certainly at least plausible to suspect the possibility of political crime.

Political crime is a serious matter because it reflects directly on the cohesion of the state. In any stable sovereign, cumbersome and byzantine though it may be, the imperium maius in all cases rests perfectly within some internal organ (in our case, the Supreme Court). No power can or does challenge the physical authority of this sovereign organ.

State security in this sense is absolute and boolean, like all security. Any systematic breach in it is a step down the ladder in any classification of government quality - comparable, perhaps, to the corruption of the police or the adoption of paper money. Any pattern of political crime renders the State that much less a state, and no crackdown on it can be too harsh.

Given this truism, the existence of political crime must depend on toleration. Political crime is an effect, not a cause. It exists when, and only when, it is tolerated. For example, the toleration of the SA is widely, and I presume correctly, attributed to the "boys will be boys" attitude of German judges in the Weimar era, whose Wilhelmine training tended to give them some sympathy for the nationalist right (of which the NSDAP was only one member).

Of course, there are important political crimes and unimportant ones. We seek only the former. Therefore, with this piquant and memorable illustration, we can head straight for the goal and attempt to produce a definition of an important political crime.

One simple way to classify political crime is to classify it in terms of the political cause it is associated with. Therefore, we could say that political crime in a bad cause is very, very bad - and thus extremely important. Whereas political crime in a good cause is perhaps excusable - at least, certainly more excusable that the same crime with no political motive at all. Therefore, it is more likely to be unimportant, and therefore lauded.

Have you ever found yourself applying this standard, dear reader? If so, you are not alone. We will call it the antinomian interpretation of political crime. Let us observe a few examples.

Thus we can say that James von Brunn is bad, because he stood for neo-Nazism, and neo-Nazis are bad. And Udham Singh - to pick a random revolutionary murderer - stood for the liberation of India, and is therefore -

Perhaps not good. But understandable. Definitely understandable! And if you go to Italy, you may well find yourself in a Piazza Oberdan. Who was this strange man with the strange name? He, too, is understandable. Unlike James von Brunn, of course. And then, of course - and closer to home - there is one with an oddly similar name...

It is easy to see the pitfalls of this system for analyzing political crimes. Often, our judgment of whether a political movement is good or bad will depend on its political crimes. What we have here, however, is a system for analyzing political crimes which depends on the output of our process, the notoriously difficult problem of determining whether a movement is good or bad. We have just invited some serious circular reasoning into this already-challenging problem.

So if the highly-subjective antinomian approach is discarded, what more objective criterion can we find? One candidate is effectiveness. We can say that a political crime is important if, and only if, it is effective. This is the pronomian approach to political crime.

The pronomian defines a a true political crime as one which is a functioning part of a functioning political mechanism. For example, the crimes of the SA are important, because the SA was a functioning mechanism which achieved the goals of the NSDAP, ie, smashing the heads of its political opponents. It cannot be proven that without the SA, the NSDAP would never have come to power, but it is surely at least plausible.

A true political crime is important because its motivation is rational political calculation. While those who joined the SA had not reckoned with the superior military capacity and indomitable destructive drive of America, they otherwise made an excellent choice both individually and collectively. Collectively they achieved their political goals; individually, they received many considerations in the New Germany.

(Note, while we're on the subject of Hitler, we should take a quick look at the most common fatal error in the historiography of World War II: admitting the Holocaust to any consideration of Allied motives. The Holocaust is excluded in all discussions of Allied war motivations - far from nursing it as propaganda, the Allies bear nontrivial complicity for covering it up. Whatever war FDR was fighting, it was not a war to save the Jews.

Yet this assumption is so easily assumed that it need never be stated, for everyone knows it is false. If you have not already passed through the fires of UR, removing this small counterfeit part from your World War II should have the same effect as removing the international Jewish conspiracy from James von Brunn's - whatever rubble remains, it can no longer be described as a historical narrative.

If America's war wasn't a war to save the Jews, what was it? It wasn't a war against the Axis plan for world domination, for there was no such plan - that was Allied propaganda. In fact, there was barely any such thing as an "Axis." And nor was it a war for the liberty of man - considering the concurrent embrace of Stalin. So what was it? Here is my favorite clue, which I cling to like an anti-Semite. Here at UR, we often mutter darkly about the international Protestant conspiracy. We're not joking, either.)

But in any case, since the crimes of the SA were true political crimes, functional parts of a functioning mechanism, they are important. They exist as the result of a rational motivation, and diagnose a serious ill at the heart of the State (the corruption of its judicial system), and any historian writing in 1932, if he wrote correctly, would judge them thus. Of course, he might also note that it was not the Right which brought political crime into Germany.

For an example closer to home, it is no secret that white supremacy in the South between Reconstruction and the civil-rights movement was maintained by true political crime, unabashed and tolerated. While it must be borne in mind that by no means all lynching victims were innocent, lynching was most definitely a political crime - it was used by one faction to forcibly subordinate another, and it could only exist where it was tolerated by the courts. It is no secret that this was part of a general pattern of lawlessness, which Washington could not permit indefinitely - despite the corrupt bargain that elected Hayes.

A crime which appears related to some political movement, but is not in fact effective, might be defined as a parapolitical crime. That is, it appears to be a political crime; it resembles the crimes of political movements in the past, or has some imaginary connection to some real movement of the present, or some real connection to some imaginary movement - but is not, in fact, a functioning part in a functioning mechanism.

Thus its perpetrators are not rational attackers. And thus their only possible reason for committing their crimes is that they are out of their frickin' gourds.

I feel it is extremely clear that the crimes of both von Brunn and Epstein is parapolitical in nature. It appears to be political crime. But it is actually just the act of a man who is crazy or drunk, respectively. And it cannot be even remotely described as effective - thanks to the brave efforts of the few, but proud, anti-fascist activists, these crimes may even be counterproductive to the general wingnut cause. Ya think?

Note the interesting parapolitical structure of these offences. The suggestive parallel - the crimes of the SA, for von Brunn; the regime of Jim Crow, for Epstein. You will notice that nothing of the kind exists in the present, though it certainly existed in the past.

If the crimes of von Brunn and Epstein are part of a pattern, they are part of a pattern that no longer exists. As Hume noted, the past exists only in our imagination. It could be the case that Epstein's victim is terrified of returning to Georgetown lest she be struck and demeaned once again by some Jewish-Korean drunken master, and it could be the case that Americans are afraid to speak out against the Holocaust lest 88-year-old men drive up in Gran Torinos and perforate them with a hunting rifles. But it is not the case - and if it was, it would be evidence of mental derangement, individual or general. Reality exists. Ernst Röhm doesn't.

Of course, these patterns existed in the past, and could exist in future. But it did not exist when the crimes were committed, and thus the crime cannot be a true political crime. Therefore, we are looking at parapolitical crimes, which are unimportant by definition.

Any attention directed at them is therefore misdirected. Here at UR, we are of course familiar with these Jedi mind tricks. Nonetheless, it is always fun to capture another in the wild.

Why would your attention be misdirected? Well, allow me to redirect your attention. I suspect that what happened in the plea negotiations between Marcus Epstein and the prosecution was that he agreed to a bargain that would be sealed, thus would not destroy his life. This could not possibly happen if the prosecution did not, knowing the actual facts, agree that he was in some sense morally innocent. Epstein signed the paper, trusted the government, and got pwned.

Of course, this is just a guess - we have no way of knowing the actual circumstances under which these documents were released. The pro-government activists who acquired them, obviously individuals with a great personal commitment to law and transparency, used the word "obtained." The presumed process is that someone in the court released them, and this release was certainly not through the court's official channels.

If this is true, "crime" seems like the right word. If the documents were due to be released anyway, the crime was a minor crime, comparable to most Washington leaks. If not, as I surmise, it seems morally more serious. Either way, the act is a technicality; it is not a crime in an important different sense, because it can be and never will be prosecuted. An unenforced law is no law at all. (It might actually be morally wrong to prosecute anyone for such an offence.)

Does this remind you of anything, by any chance?

When, earlier, I summarized this argument with a link, I linked to this law-magazine article. The entire article is worth reading - it is not long. But here is a condensation:
A federal judge Tuesday rebuked an attorney, an expert witness and a reporter for The New York Times for violating a protective order in a mass-tort action concerning the health risks of Zyprexa, an anti-psychotic drug manufactured by Eli Lilly.

Eastern District of New York Judge Jack B. Weinstein, said the men -- Alaska attorney James Gottstein; Dr. David Egilman, an expert hired by plaintiffs; and Alex Berenson, of the Times -- had "conspired to obtain and publish documents in knowing violation of a court order not to do so, and that they executed the conspiracy using other people as their agents in crime."
[...]
The documents were covered by a protective order, and Weinstein said all three men knew about the order.

The judge alleged, based on testimony from Gottstein, that Berenson and Egilman had devised a way to circumvent the order: Have Gottstein subpoena Egilman for a case in Alaska, and then send the documents to Berenson for an exclusive story.
[...]
In a statement, the Times said that because it [ie, the Times - MM] had declined to allow Berenson to testify, the judge came to a conclusion that "vastly overstates Alex's role in the release of the documents."

The statement added: "We continue to believe that the articles we published were newsworthy and accurate and we stand by the reporting."

Stephen Gillers, a professor of legal ethics at New York University School of Law, said that while lawyers are constrained by ethics rules of their profession, journalists need only obey the law in reporting a story.

"But the bottom line is, there is no First Amendment right to violate a judge's order," he said.

Although Berenson might not face sanctions, Gillers said he might yet be called to testify about the case.

"It could come to pass that his testimony is sought in conjunction with any penalty against the other two," Gillers said. "He may not be a party to anything but he may be a witness."
[...]
"Even if one believes, as apparently did the conspirators, that their ends justified their means, courts may not ignore such illegal conduct without dangerously attenuating their power to conduct necessary litigation effectively on behalf of all the people," the judge wrote. "Such unprincipled revelation of sealed documents seriously compromises the ability of litigants to speak and reveal information candidly to each other; these illegalities impede private and peaceful resolution of disputes."
If this isn't lawlessness, what is? In fact - if it is not true political crime, what is?

The New York Times, via its reporters acting as proxies, steals documents. It violates laws that everyone else must follow. It uses the information in these documents to sell newspapers, and profits by it. And most important, it uses this process to exercise political power, informal but no less real. Therefore, this crime - not necessarily as an individual event, but as a pattern - is a functioning part in a functioning mechanism. It is therefore a true political crime.

The most we can say is that this is a different kind of true political crime. It does not involve bashing Communists over the head with beer steins. It involves stealing documents. This is true, and must be remembered. (But remember also that what makes political crime important is the presence of systematic criminality in one's political structure, rather than details of the crimes themselves - though any widespread pattern of crime must reflect misgovernment.)

The fact that the Times may commit this class of crime with impunity, while I can't and you can't, enables it (with the true press, of course, as a whole) to act as almost a sovereign force. With the power that the true press wields by virtue of this authorized political crime, it acts as an almost irresistible force in the departments of its "coverage." In 1974 it defeated a President, and only one bastion now remains. The Supreme Court, still, is sovereign - but its Justices read the paper like everyone else, and they do not get to assign their own journalists.

Granted, the actual theft of actual documents, through criminal conspiracy as described, is not a common event. However, please feel free to go through today's Times, and look at which articles are the result of public information and which are not. You will certainly find some "stories" which contain only information which any energetic person (with a press pass) could find and reproduce.

But most of your important news stories will be anonymously sourced, meaning they are the result of information disclosures which are not public. Some of these sources are legally authorized to disclose the information they disclose. Some are not. And no one is ever prosecuted for any of this, except by some chance if they happen to be a Republican.

This is considered a normal and ethical practice in early 21st-century journalism. It is actually a criminal practice, which any other century would recognize as such. Proper practice in official information disclosure is actually followed, at present, more or less, by one class of agency: publicly traded corporations, which must follow Regulation Fair Disclosure.

If Reg FD were applied to USG and actually enforced, the true press as we know it would cease to exist. A corporation that follows Reg FD may not leak, voluntarily or not. And, in general, they don't. (The result in my own field is a beautifully adversarial relationship with the world's healthiest duopoly of journalism - El Reg and L'Inq.)

Effectively, the business of the Times as an institution of journalism can be described as the business of stealing secrets from the public trust, and selling them. Note also that this cozy social network of power is what makes the Times irresponsible as an intellectual sovereign - its access to the secrets of power makes it impossible to displace through mere competing honesty. No competitor, however truthful, can offer anything like a matching buffet of material non-public information.

So, setting bait to catch a salmon, we have hooked a killer whale. The logical net we wove to catch von Brunn and Epstein has passed up von Brunn and Epstein, but "Punch" Sulzberger appears to be writhing in it. Oops! What do we do? Sue the Times?

No - cut the line. Obviously, this is an absurd result, and there must be something wrong with it. The New York Times cannot possibly be a criminal organization. There must be something wrong with the logic above. I invite all UR readers - reactionary or progressive - to discover it.

But this is not the only lesson that the cases of von Brunn and Epstein teach us. Hardly! We have only scratched the skin of Lord Foul. Since we are through the armor, let us dig briefly in the black, sulfurous flesh, and see if we can't nibble off a vile meatball or too.

There is a fascinating duality in the relationship between Right and Left, as we see it exposed in the entire incident - the crimes and the strange reaction to them.

In this broad pattern, leftists actually believe that the Right is fundamentally unscrupulous and criminal, in exactly the same way in which the Left is fundamentally unscrupulous and criminal.

Meanwhile, many, if not most, if not (in some ways) almost all, rightists are corrupted by the pervasive temptations of the Left - plus a few unique temptations of their own, like knee-high leather boots. They allow their compass to drift from true Right; they adopt not only the ideas and buzzwords of the Left, but also its antinomian mindset, and its tactics. And they thus descend to political crime - thus confirming the suspicions of said leftists.

This pattern, once noticed, is easily seen across the 20th century. Unlike most mental parasites, it has a morph for both right and left. It is therefore stable. And it is a difficult feat of Jedi mind-trick resistance for either a rightist or a leftist to escape from it.

For the first half of the pattern, I have personally observed that most progressives, even well-informed progressives, have no idea whatsoever what right-wingers think and why. They can barely tell a neocon from a paleocon. The difference (not a terribly subtle one) between the ideology of James von Brunn, and that of Marcus Epstein, might as well be 13th-century French poetry as far as they're concerned. Indeed, they may know more about 13th-century French poetry.

Therefore, it is quite plausible for them to think that the right side of their political dial works in exactly the same way as the left side, only reversed. And they know the left side that well. Thus, if on the social graph of revolutionary politics, Barack Obama and Louis Farrakhan are linked by one degree of separation, the same is probably true for Dick Cheney and James von Brunn.

As Voltaire said, those who can believe absurdities will commit atrocities. And they most certainly do. You'll note that once we get to Louis Farrakhan and friends, we are not just talking about stealing documents.

Suffice it to say that the general flow of the progressive social graph is "no enemies to the left, no friends to the right," and the general flow of the conservative social graph is - exactly the same. Who operates under the rule "no enemies to the right, no friends to the left?" Answer: basically, no one. If you doubt me on this, this one is worth investigating.

Here again we see our old friend, tu quoque. Because progressives adopt the antinomian definition, which allows them to minimize all kinds of crimes committed by their political allies, a mountain of revolutionary or democratic lawlessness is a molehill in their eyes. A molehill of conservative or reactionary lawlessness becomes a mountain. Thus, in classic Don Quixote fashion, they crusade against right-wing thuggery, ie fascism, which is nothing but a fading, distorted and now largely-imaginary reflection of their own revolutionary violence.

You might have noticed that James von Brunn didn't commit his crime at the Commucaust Museum. This is not next door to the Holocaust Museum. Nor is it ten times the size. It does not even exist, and nor is there even any such catchy term. And what if it did? Would Kendall Myers show up at its door, and shoot some poor redneck guard?

Without the Bolsheviki, it is hard to imagine the Nazis. Without the French Revolution, it is almost impossible to imagine either. Without the American Revolution, it is impossible to imagine the French Revolution. Without the English Civil War and "Glorious Revolution," it is impossible to imagine the American Revolution. Thus the Jacobite or Legitimist alone may regard the last four centuries with simple, unmitigated regret and revulsion. And yet, I regularly see young people strolling around with hammer-and-sickle T-shirts.

In fact, it is really quite ballsy for a society which has adopted the principle of disparate impact as a fundamental axiom of its jurisprudence to even mention the Holocaust, much less make it the central idol of its civilization. What do you think the chief "Aryan" complaint about Jews was? The shape of their noses? No - that all the high-status professions were full of Jews. In wild disproportion to the numbers in the population.

This was a perfectly true statement. Unfortunately, its simplest explanation was not an international Jewish conspiracy, but mere Ashkenazi intelligence. Similarly, if you understand the crimes of Epstein and von Brunn as further diabolical acts in the service of the international white conspiracy, you may well be a progressive. Forty years after the death of Jim Crow, the concept of "racism" is rapidly becoming a classic conspiracy theory. It even has a name.

Rassenkunde
redux! Hitler returns to haunt us, with a vengeance. Meanwhile, in the now-familiar ironic structure, we see that the Holocaust itself is a true conspiracy theory - that is, a gigantic crime carried out as a secret government program, which actually occurred.

And once again, we converge on this strange Dog Star of our society: Hitler. Even the common name of our era is a Hitler name. It is called the postwar era. It could just as easily be the post-Hitler era, for this is exactly what it is.

And Hitler is clearly relevant to this post. So let us gaze into his terrible, mesmerizing eyes (by all reports he had the same gift as Rasputin) once again. We have explained, as unpejoratively as possible, how to escape from the deadly left-right pattern on the left. Let's see it on the right.

The difference between Right and Left is that, since Left is antinomian and Right pronomian, political crime generally works for the Left. This is why the Left finds it so easy to believe that crimes like that of Epstein and von Brunn are truly political, not merely parapolitical.

For exactly this reason, political crime only rarely works for the Right. Therefore, as a practical and objective matter, leftists are advised to be as devious and ruthless as they can get away with. Whereas rightists should make a habit of rigorous obedience to the law - not only because it is more righteous, but also because it is more effective.

Political murder, creepy stonewalling, mass demonstrations, personality cults, popular elections, crusading journalism, mob intimidation, mendacious pseudohistory, revolutionary cells, direct mail and academic mafiosi: for left against right, all are threads in the great pageant of revolution. For right against left, all but the last are sewage in the great cabernet of reaction.

(And even the last has a bit of that funky barnyard flavor. If you are a young man of reactionary spirit and great intelligence, and you must harness your chaotic, Nietzchean instincts, consider becoming a tenured professor of anything. First step: read Milosz on ketman. But few indeed are called to this termite's career.)

Leftist ideas can be right, and leftist tactics can be effective. But these cases are the exceptions. Conservatives adopt these ideas and tactics, and lose, because they are conservatives and not reactionaries. If they were reactionaries, they would seek to abolish leftism. Since they are conservatives, they seek to reform it. Thus they are easily drawn to the shibboleths and methods of yesterday's progressives - for example, protesting Barack Obama's political crimes in the name and style of the Boston Tea Party, another classic outbreak of political violence.

The arms and garments of the left will always tempt the right. They tempt the left, too. They work. However, it is easy to see why they are fundamentally leftist. They are fundamentally works of the Devil. The Devil, as Dr. Johnson put it, was the first Whig. There are those who think they can beat the Devil by joining him, but alas - they are mistaken.

It was Carlyle who realized that left and right are not parallel but opposite. The struggle of right against left is the struggle of order against disorder, cosmos against chaos, God against the Devil. You may not believe in God and the Devil as physical entities, and neither do I. An inability to understand them as metaphors is not evidence of a free mind, but a captive one.

Order need not stand defenseless before disorder. Fire can be fought with fire. But when the angels fight, they fight because one must fight to win. When the demons fight, they fight because they are demons from hell, who were born in fire and will love it forever.

Angels who fall prey to this spirit become demons. Not only are the worst fights those of demon and demon - but when the game is a game of fire, the lightly-corrupted angel has no chance at all against Beelzebub and his old prison crew.

This applies not just to James von Brunn and his .22 rifle, or even to Marcus Epstein and his drunken "karate chop." It applies to Marcus Epstein and his political activism, all of which is democratic and conservative in spirit, and none of which strikes me as any more productive - even assuming the exact goals of Marcus Epstein - than hitting random people in the street.

The wounds of USG are great and awful, and if they could be fixed with a drunken karate chop or two, we would have to seriously consider the possibility. Fortunately or unfortunately, this is not the case.

But just as they will not be fixed with a drunken karate chop, they will not be fixed by Pat Buchanan's "peasants with pitchforks" or Sam Francis's middle-American radicals. And this is precisely the audience to which Mr. Epstein has spent his short career peddling ideas. Supposing Marcus Epstein had all these people, what exactly would he do with them?

There are no longer enough to win a universal-suffrage election. And this "Vaisya" population - the same that backed Hitler - is the exact converse of a Pareto elite. Every bone in USG's body is designed to exclude them, whether they win the election or lose it, from power. So I see only one realistic answer: the Devil's work. Mr. Epstein, the Devil will always out-devil you.

Thursday, June 11, 2009 75 Comments

Evidence in current history

If we believe in one thing here at UR, it is judging past and present by the same standards. This includes standards of truth and evidence - a subject last week's post may have raised.

Personally, I believe in judging past and present by the same standards because I believe that the dead are entitled to the same consideration as the living. Could they come to life and judge us, as any ancestor would, we would like to be able to answer them honestly and with a straight face. I don't feel our society meets this test at present - do you?

One easy solution is to apply the standards of the present to the past. This is called presentism. In general, the results of presentism are so dire, comical, and infamous that we cannot avoid concluding that something is terribly wrong either with the method, or the present, or both. Surely this pattern holds true for evidentiary standards.

For example, a common present standard of truth is that the New York Times is always right. We could follow the logic of presentism and apply this to the past, by saying that just as the New York Times of 2009 is always right, the New York Times of 1909 is just as always right. This, in turn, can be easily refuted by showing that the two occasionally disagree.

We also could be pastists and apply the standards of 1909 to 2009. This would be much more fun, and probably produce better results. But at a philosophical level, it is no less gay.

Rather, it is best to come up with a common set of standards for historical evidence, one which does not implicitly trust the New York Times, or the Catholic Church, or even USG, or any institution or set of institutions past or present. So we know we are doing history, not PR.

Thus, to emphasize the commonality, we speak not of current events, but current history. To even begin to know the events, even as they happen, we must think historically.

By the standards of history, my standard of evidence is strict but hardly unusual. I prefer single-malt sources, as it were. I want to see original documents whose authenticity is without question, and the only lesson I take from an authentic document is that it exists and whoever wrote it wrote it. I distrust digests, samples, statistics, surveys, reports, encyclopedias. I would rather have one good source than a thousand bad.

And most importantly, in history there are no reliable sources - no person is trustworthy by definition. Without trust we can know nothing, but trust must always be a product of reason. It can never be automatic. It must always be considered and tested.

Here's an example of trusting authorities: Half Sigma, normally a real bastion of common sense, assuming that because Sonia Sotomayor graduated summa cum laude from Princeton and won the Pyne Prize for its "most outstanding undergraduate," she cannot be dumb as a post.

This does not strike me as sound evidentiary practice in current history. Let me explain why.

Here is a fact I trust: if we had access to Princeton's records, they would confirm the text below (from the Daily Princetonian, February 28, 1976):
J. David Germany and Sonia M. Sotomayor are the joint winners of this year's M. Taylor Pyne Honor Prize, the highest honor the university confers on an undergraduate.

The prize, given to the senior or seniors who have "manifested in outstanding fashion...excellent scholarship and effective support of the best interests of Princeton University," carries with it an award equal to a year's tuition, $3,900 this year, which will be shared by the two recipients.

The Pyne Prize is not the first recognition of Germany's scholarship-he has won both the Freshman First Year Honor Prize for the highest grades during freshman year and the Class of 1939 Princeton Scholar Prize for the highest academic standing prior to senior year.

Two years ago, after winning the freshman award, Germany said, "There's a choke factor on every final exam, and I'm really due for a big one. But I'm going to enjoy this as long as I can." Today, his transcript shows 21 A+s and 9 A's.
[...]
Sotomayor, a history major, has maintained almost straight A's for the last two years, but is especially known for her extracurricular activities.

Her dedication to the life of minority students at Princeton has been illustrated by her service on the Governance Board of the Third World Center and in her efforts to form the Latino Students Organization.
(On a side note: I bet myself, when I read this text, that the "Third World Center" is no longer the "Third World Center." I won. Yes, dear Princeton: I know, you know, and God knows, that "Third World" was once a term of approbation to you. This too is on your tab - not yet summed.)

Again, I am confident that Sonia Sotomayor's transcript "for the last two years" would show "almost straight A's." Who assigned her these straight A's? And why?

At this point we leave the domain of verifiable facts, and enter that of proof by authority. Half Sigma does not know. Nor do I. Nor does anyone.

I am quite confident that David Germany is a smart cookie. Unless his name is pronounced "DavEED HermANee" or even if it is, I doubt he is of Puerto Rican descent. Which means he is just another white guy. Which is not a quality of any value at all. But does mean that to get his Pyne Prize, he had to beat a lot of other very smart white guys.

What did Sonia Sotomayor have to do? Whom did she have to beat? It is not at all clear.

My judgment is that when we look at the career of a progressive race activist of the late 20th century, institutional records and personal endorsements tell us just about nothing. Every rule can be, and is, bent for these people. What's clear is that at Princeton, David Germany was first and foremost a student, and Sonia Sotomayor was first and foremost an activist. Why on earth would anyone expect her grades to mean anything?

I will repeat the analogy I used when I questioned Barack Obama's Columbia record: the academic records of college athletes, who are regularly found to have graduated from reputable universities, while remaining almost literally illiterate. Trusting the academic records of a race activist - especially when not actually disclosed, but merely attested to - is credulous beyond belief. Behind any Sotomayor is an army of activist professors whose commitment to la lucha is, shall we say, slightly greater than their commitment to the academic integrity of Princeton. At least, in the athlete's case, his coaches and his professors are different people.

This is what is truly remarkable about Judge Sotomayor: at every stage in her career, her success is plausibly and parsimoniously explained by her mere ancestry. In every institution in which she has produced a record of excellence, her biology below the neck is a sufficient explanation of that record. As historians, we cannot even exclude the possibility that she got her Princeton A's because someone helped her with her papers. We have no evidence for this, but we also have no evidence against it - and we are writing history, not conducting a criminal trial.

Thus I feel the best public evidence as to Judge Sotomayor's actual talents consists of her speeches, such as this famous one (published as an essay in the La Raza Law Journal). Here is a speech by a white male colleague of Judge Sotomayor's - ie, one who owes his position on the Second Circuit to neurology, not dermatology. If you retain any doubts, please compare.

(Judge Sotomayor's judicial opinions, while also notoriously bad, are much less interesting, because they are produced with at least the assistance of law clerks. Perhaps Judge Sotomayor does not choose the best clerks, but she has the best talent pool to hire from. They know how to use a comma. It's not clear to me that she does.)

Similarly, Barack Obama, or someone writing under his name, produced one book which betrays nontrivial, if hardly world-shattering, literary ability. And nothing else. As Jack Cashill has observed, the author of Dreams From My Father, whoever it was, misspells Frantz Fanon in a rather distinctive way - and is also fascinated by tidal hydrology. Frankly, if someone can point me to a work in which Shakespeare mentions "Franz Fanon" and speaks of rivers flowing backward, I'll be prepared to at least consider the possibility that the real author of Hamlet was Billy Ayers. I know what a solid case for literary attribution looks like. This is it.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Ordinary claims require ordinary evidence. The claim that a politician's book was ghostwritten is an ordinary claim. Especially in the post-FDR era, when it is simply assumed that the task of a politician is to take other peoples' words and claim them as one's own, an act that previous generations of American would have regarded as unspeakably contemptible.

If you don't believe that John F. Kennedy wrote Profiles in Courage, why should you believe that Barack Obama wrote Dreams from My Father? Because everyone says he did? This is the evidentiary standard of a fishwife, not a historian. Why should you regard it as true, until proven false? Why not regard it as false, until proven true? What percentage of political memoirs are actually written by the purported author?

In fact we have almost no evidence of any historical validity that describes the early life of Barack Obama. Take the famous "birth certificate" controversy: I believe that Barack Obama was almost certainly born in Hawaii, but only because the converse seems labored and unlikely. The ordinary English meaning of birth certificate is an original physical document, produced at the actual date of birth, ie 1961. It is not a printout of a database record, which is what we have.

Again, I am confident that this document exists for Barack Obama. The refusal to disclose it is just as contemptuous and contemptible as everything else in the process that produced him. Stonewalling on all life records of this man - from birth certificates to college transcripts - is a classic Alinskyian maneuver, pure vicious hardball. It serves the exact purpose it achieves: to generate as many conspiracy theories as possible, most of which are false. Any actual dirt will disappear in this cloud of vain speculation. This is the regard for truth, decency and honor which Americans can expect from their rulers today. Were it actually discovered that Barack Obama was born in Papua New Guinea, I would find it far less damning.

Nor is this excessive respect for institutional authority an isolated glitch in the epistemology of current history, as most practice it today. It is actually a symptom of a much deeper syndrome: the tendency to analyze democracy in terms of its appearance, not its reality, even when that reality is known to everyone.

Here is a perfect example - courtesy of Powerline, which is by far the best neoconservative blog. The authors of Powerline are top-flight attorneys with excellent political connections, and the scholar they are quoting, Charles Kesler, editor of the Claremont Review of Books, whose mission is "to make war on the progressive administrative state," has a Ph.D in government from Harvard - an honor that does not appear to have been conferred on account of dermatology. In short, these individuals have the right talents, the right knowledge, and the right enemies.

And yet, by my standards of evidence, all this is a waste of time. The error is at step one:
Claremont Review of Books editor Charles Kesler sat down last summer to read the books and speeches of Barack Obama. Professor Kesler concluded that Obama is a serious and ambitious politician who has set about to engineer a transformative leftward shift in American politics and government.
We see that Professor Kesler starts his work with one completely unsubstantiated assumption. He assumes that "the books and speeches of Barack Obama" were written by Barack Obama.

Indeed, he knows for a fact that the "speeches of Barack Obama" were not written by Barack Obama. Fifteen seconds on Google will tell Professor Kesler that he is, at the very least, reading the books of Barack Obama and the speeches of Jon Favreau. As we've seen, he is more likely reading the books of Billy Ayers and the speeches of Jon Favreau (to name only two Obama ghosts). These certainly tell us something about Billy Ayers and Jon Favreau. Do we care? The former, at least, is certainly no longer employed in this capacity.

Of course it is the accepted convention of 20th-century American politics that we refer to these as Obama's books and speeches - as if they were the work of, say, Lincoln, or Cicero, or Gladstone. At least, I am pretty sure that Cicero and Gladstone didn't employ ghostwriters. I have my suspicions about Herndon, Hay and Nicolay.

There is a grain of truth in this convention. We know that Barack Obama, the actual person, has at the very least approved all the words he utters, and those published under his name. Billy Ayers may have written his own girlfriend into Dreams, but he at least started with Obama's notes, and Obama got to edit the result. Even if he made no changes, this too was his choice. So in a sense, even if he did not write "his" speeches, he is morally responsible for them.

But even this grain, when scrutinized, conceals a deeper fallacy. For even if Barack Obama did write "his" speeches and "his" books, analyzing them as Professor Kesler does demands another spectacular and completely unjustified assumption.

Again by convention, Professor Kesler is assuming that Barack Obama is sincere in his words - that when he says or publishes X (a knowable, and known, fact), the best explanation for this event is that he believes X. His speaking or publication of X implies his belief in X; his belief in X is the best explanation of why he spoke or published X. This assumption, quite unstated, is everywhere in almost every discussion of all these works.

Of course, if you know anything about the actual career of Barack Obama, the most salient quality you see is ruthless, nihilistic cynicism. "To my mind, we were just abiding by the rules that had been set up." It is possible that the actual person, Barack Obama, actually has some beliefs or principles, but I have seen no particular evidence of it.

This syndrome is hardly unique to current history. One historical figure of whom Barack Obama reminds me is Abraham Lincoln. Like Obama, Lincoln was an extremely guarded and deeply ambitious man whom we know almost nothing about. (Unlike Obama, he had a sense of humor.) Understanding Lincoln is not a matter of casual observation, but serious historical detection.

And if you go to a bookstore and look at the popular Lincoln biographies, all of them will take the Keslerian approach to analysis - assuming, without even mentioning it, that Lincoln's words are more or less identical to Lincoln's thoughts. In the normal Lincoln biography, you get Lincoln the saint; a good one will give you Lincoln the statesman, or maybe Lincoln the tyrant; you have to get into actual scholarship to see Lincoln the politician. And there is scholarship, and scholarship. The old is generally better than the new. (My Lincoln is Beveridge's Lincoln, or possibly Masters'.)

In terms of historical evidence, I feel I know no more about Barack Obama than about, say, Daniel Craig. Daniel Craig does an excellent Bond, but I don't think he's actually killed anyone. Nor do I know, or expect to know, which lines were written for him, which he changed, and which he improved.

Barack Obama gives an excellent press conference, but I have no idea what his role, if any, is in the Obama administration. Maybe he contributes a lot in the meetings, maybe he is just a stooge for David Axelrod, maybe it is somewhere in between. Whichever it may be, you or I or any ordinary person has no opportunity to know. His present is just as mysterious as his past.

The resemblance between film and politics is not at all superficial. Solid analogies between the two are too numerous to count. There are many differences, too, and here is a big one: if you are watching a movie, even a documentary or "reality show," you know that you are looking at an artifact of production. At least in 2009, the average consumer of visual entertainment is quite sophisticated as to the entire production process. The man in the seat may not know a C-stand from a DP, but he basically knows how a movie is shot and edited. And he is certainly aware that he is watching a movie, not a live performance, and certainly not an accidental happening.

Whereas: who knows what actually happens inside the Beltway? As in the old Taoist proverb, Democrats know and don't tell. Republicans tell, and don't know. Both parties are married, at opposite ends, to the same lie. Voting continues in glorious bliss.

If USG is a film, it is a period film. The actors are all playing 18th-century statesmen, by 18th-century rules, in 18th-century clothes. The production itself is a substantial business, which is registered in Delaware and operates entirely in the 21st. Its operations are not entirely independent of audience participation, but what you think matters less than you think.

Obviously, as an enemy of "the progressive administrative state," Professor Kesler is not operating under the belief that he is actually looking at an 18th-century architecture. His failure to actively disabuse his constituency of this notion does not reflect any actual belief in the system. No - this would be mere harmless stupidity.

No. Professor Kesler's error is far worse. Professor Kesler believes that, although 20th-century politicians such as Barack Obama are not 18th-century statesmen, or even 19th-century statesmen, since the American system of government went from Thomas Jefferson to Barack Obama, it must be able to go back. The true, inner, ideal form of USG is its Jeffersonian form. (Or possibly, for a muscular Claremontian like Professor Kesler, its Lincolnian form.)

USG is our father and our mother, its bones are sound, and any pox it has will heal or be cured. It's true that it is smelling a little, has not moved for years, and is awfully bloated. None of these problems can't be solved with a dolly, a scalpel and some Chanel No. 5. So, in order that USG may recover its senses, Professor Kesler undertakes to humor it, to treat it (like a wise parent) not as it is but as it should be.

He is, in a word, Burkean. The trouble was that when Burke praised Marie Antoinette, he was praising Marie Antoinette - not Steven Rattner. When he spoke of reforming one's government as surgery on the body of one's own living father, he spoke under the great oak of the 18th-century Whig aristocracy. Corrupt in its own way this was, but Old Sarum returned Pitt - not Wade Rathke. Had Burke spoken of an autopsy, he had spoken differently.

Professor Kesler's error is no pathetic mistake. It is a true tragic flaw. The entire conservative movement, throughout the age of democracy, has been in the iron grip of tragedy. If Othello could recognize his jealousy and correct it, he could cast out Iago and reward Cassio at once. The play could end at any act. Yet it runs all five, for that is tragedy. Similarly, conservatism could snap out of it at any time - but it won't.

The desire that leads the conservative astray is, as always, the desire for power. To present any criticism of USG as a plan for reforming it, by returning it to its original perfect state (a state so perfect that it has turned into what we have now!), is to render oneself eligible for command of the small army that sees this outcome as the inevitable future. The loyal opposition.

Gentlemen, power - as Fidel Castro puts it - is sweet, like honey. If you intend to wrest it from those who have it, I advise one of two courses. One is to be bigger, stronger, more ruthless, more devious and more mendacious. The other is to rely on magna est veritas et prevalebit.

If you have the choice, by all means choose the first. It is far more effective, and faster as well. If you have the first option and you do not succeed with it, you are beyond any advice I can offer.

However, if the first is not an option, your only recourse is the second. The second is certain, while never quick. It has gained a reputation for unreliability which is wholly undeserved.

The problem is the principle of wine and sewage: any mixture of wine and sewage is sewage. The same is true of reality and illusion. In propaganda, you may mix them freely. Propaganda, however, is only useful as an adjunct to superior physical force. It is not the second strategy.

Clearly, Professor Kesler does not have superior physical force. Otherwise he would be in, and the progressives would be out. Thus his only conceivable armament is veritas prevalebit.

While this is probably what Professor Kesler thinks he is wielding, it is not. Instead, Professor Kesler and the authors of Powerline - and the vast, pyramidal food chain of conservative thought beneath them - seek to replace one illusion, behind which there is at least an actual reality, with another illusion, which does not exist at all and perhaps never did.

USG is what it is. USG used to be what it was. USG evolved from what it was into what it is. But this is no reason to believe it can evolve just as easily in reverse. Furthermore, if your critical standards for assessing USG as it was are just as lax as those you use for assessing USG as it is - since you prefer to see the 18th-century illusion, not the 20th-century reality - your understanding of the real 18th century is perhaps not what it should be, n'est ce pas?

Thus the conservative comes armed against one sham, with another sham. Goliath brings a club, and David brings a smaller club. Consequence: Goliath kicks the shit out of David, and has done for the last two centuries and change. Conservatives are losers by definition. The locomotive steams on, Buckley's cadaver baking on its cowcatcher.

I see this as a tragic flaw because I see it as a surrender to the desire for power. David is just David, and he gets his ass kicked. But it was certainly fun to be William F. Buckley. "Fun" understates this elemental lust - and, under democracy, the loyal opposition can still confer status and even, in a sense, achieve victory. It never achieves its goals. In order to remain loyal, it has denied itself the weapon of veritas prevalebit - the only real weapon it can have.

Whereas if you accept veritas prevalebit, you must refuse to accept the conventional illusions, the naked emperors, the pious frauds. You thereby render yourself disloyal. And you lose your army, your pomp, your sceptre and general's tent.

So be it. Because sovereignty is great, the reactionary must remain loyal in body. In soul, he is a stateless pirate - a well-armed creature of the open sea. His one authority is his own. He does not outsource truth. He looks into the matter himself, or finds someone he trusts; and that trust is not given lightly.

And the figure nailed to his bow is not Burke, but Carlyle. It is Carlyle's twelfth hour of the night - and has been, for over two centuries. "Birds of darkness are on the wing; spectres uproar; the dead walks; the living dream."

Thursday, June 4, 2009 87 Comments

Judge Sotomayor: a reactionary exegesis

UR, in case you're new here, is not one of those "pundit" blogs. The purpose of UR is to try, humbly and no doubt incompetently, to see the history of 2009 through the eyes of the great reactionary historians of the Victorian era - like Carlyle, Froude, or Lecky.

Current events are part of this, but not a large part. Most of the real action in the 20th century is in the 20th century proper. This century is now dead. At some point, it will stop breathing.

But every now and then there is a spark of life, and UR is pleased to endorse the candidacy of Sonia Sotomayor for the United States Supreme Court. Here at UR, we believe Judge Sotomayor's talent, temperament and training are all in the true spirit of USG, and reflect her impressive Ivy League credentials. Indeed she reminds me of many historic American figures, such as Samuel Adams, Benjamin Butler, or Thaddeus Stevens - a judgment with which I'm sure Carlyle, Froude, and Lecky would concur. I'm confident that her vibrant presence will add as much wisdom to the Court as empathy, as much feminine charm as colorful wit, as much analytical rigor as serious scholarship. I expect the Congress will display its characteristic prudence in confirming her without delay. Ketman is thirsty work, I'll have you know.

In discerning how Carlyle, Froude or Lecky would evaluate the USG of 2009, we must adopt two methodological principles, one of which is easy and the other almost impossible. The easy principle is to keep our sources pure - we need to get our data as far upstream as possible, to prevent contamination with the omnipresent psychological-warfare, or "spin," of 20th-century democracy. This is not hard, and a good habit even if you don't give a crap about Carlyle etc.

The impossible problem is to be extremely brief. Our basic problem, as reactionary historians, is that Carlyle, Froude and Lecky do not give a crap about USG. Their opinion of USG is that it's fscked, a typical American disaster, and completely impossible to un-fsck. It is quite obvious that the confirmation of Judge Sotomayor will render it neither any more fscked, nor any less.

Therefore, I can't imagine Carlyle, Froude, or Lecky so much as mentioning Judge Sotomayor in any history of the early 21st-century. If so, it would be as an illustration rather than a pivotal contingency, and it would be a short illustration. A paragraph, maybe, at most.

And what would that paragraph say? Here at UR, we'd all like to know. I cannot get it down to a paragraph. But I think even Carlyle, Froude or Lecky would need to start with some context.

As it turns out, the selection of Judge Sotomayor actually provides a fine historical illustration of what USG is and how it does business. It is like UR 101. It is so easy to read, it reads itself.

The reactionary is always a Machiavellian. She devotes her attention to reality, not form. So, for instance, I call USG "USG" because that's what the people who work there call it. I feel that if you're interested in learning about USG, you'll learn a lot more here and here than here. (Memo to the Washington Post Company: while it's fine to begin a domain name with "who," follow it with a dash, or a word that doesn't start with "r.")

To the reactionary, USG is an unlimited government - a true sovereign under the classical law of nations. Everything that happens in the United States (if not the entire world) is either caused by USG, or allowed to happen by USG. If there is some domain of human affairs in which USG does not intervene, this is too is USG's choice. There is certainly no domain from which any force, other than USG's own will, precludes it.

Therefore, USG deserves full credit for anything good that happens in the United States, and bears complete responsibility for anything bad. Who invented the Internet? Whoever it was, USG caused it to be done. Why did USG's financial system collapse? USG mismanaged it.

It is a truism of reactionary political science that every government which is truly sovereign contains some individual or committee which holds the imperium maius - absolute power, subject to no contradiction. In USG, this committee is the Supreme Court.

While in the 20th century, the Court's imperium is maius without a doubt - not even FDR could quite break it - it is also extremely weak. This is not a contradiction in terms. Custom limits the Court's imperium to the slowest, most reactive process in slow, reactive USG: the law. Who has the final word in this process controls USG, but only in the end. The Court's sceptre cannot be used for proactive, executive action.

Thus, while the Court holds imperium maius, just as Augustus did, it cannot actually use this power as Augustus used it - eg, it cannot declare a state of emergency and rule by decree. At least, any attempt at classical imperial government by the Court would violate the true and ancient customs of the Beltway. I still think it would probably work, but there is a significant chance of just breaking the instrument.

Moreover, the Court is weakened as an institution by its nomination process. While the political arm of USG can be broadly described as vestigial - most of the real power is in the civil service, the press and the universities, all of which are strongly shielded from "politics" - the White House retains some genuine responsibilities. One is nominating judges.

Given the pendulum of party politics, in which each side must sully its reputation in turn by serving as figurehead of the good ship USG, and the biological facts of life expectancy (note that Judge Sotomayor's diabetes reduces her expected term by 15 years), this creates a Court on which the most important fact is not the identity of the members, but their partisan ratio - as in any legislative body. Any truly studly Court would choose its own replacements, like the Israeli Supreme Court.

It so happens that Judge Sotomayor is replacing Justice Souter, a typical late 20th-century Justice - an Outer Party nonentity who betrayed those that brought him to power, and became a consistent Inner Party vote. Thus, the replacement does not change the partisan ratio, and again is interesting only as an illustration.

(This pattern of systematic treason (there's really no other word for it) is a legacy of the era in which Inner Party domination was so total that the Outer Party had no scholarly institutions at all. With new institutions such as the Federalist Society, it probably won't happen again. The Outer Party has no shortage of sound, talented ideologues. This, in itself, is a problem for the Modern Structure - though not yet a major one.)

We are finished with our context. This, in UR's best judgment, is the reality. You know the theatrical production above it. Now, our illustration. I will work entirely with direct sources.

First, let's listen to Judge Sotomayor's famous "policy" outtake: 30 seconds. Please watch it again now, if you haven't seen it already. This is my transcription, which is as exact as I can make it. I feel the italics are Judge Sotomayor's:
"all of the legal defense funds out there... um... they're looking for people with court of appeals experience... because - it is - court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know - and I know - this is on tape and I should never say that, because we don't make law. I know. [audience laughter] Okay. I know. I'm not promoting it - I'm not advocating it - you know. Okay. [more laughter] Um...
Now: this clip is from a real event. It was not forged, it was not altered, it happened. You can believe your own eyes and ears on this one. At a certain point, when the spin gets so intense that you feel like curling up in a little ball, you just have to go back and start with your own peripheral nervous system - because if the Reptoids can own that, they can own anything.

Starting from this point of unconditional truth, I want to examine two points about the clip. The first is the remarkable tone shift in Judge Sotomayor's voice, right after "policy is made," which is almost what linguists call code-switching. If we didn't have the video, we could almost believe that two different speakers had been spliced together. The second, of course, is the laughter.

Perhaps you were linked to this post by accident, and you are not actually a reactionary. If so, please ask yourself before you continue: what is your explanation of these two phenomena? Think about it and save it up. You'll be comparing it to mine.

First, the code-switching. Judge Sotomayor's tone and diction as the clip begins is an acrolect which I recognize immediately: it is the standard teaching voice at any top-ranked university. I am confident that the average Ivy League law school is taught more or less entirely in this tone. Indeed, since Judge Sotomayor was never a law professor, and since she is speaking at Duke, it would be surprising if she were completely self-confident about her status on this occasion. This would lead us to expect an almost exaggerated correctness of diction.

It is always perfectly permissible for the professor to drop out of the arch academic tone and into a standard, informal American basilect, as Judge Sotomayor does here. Indeed it is intrinsically humorous - although it is also humorous, of course, to reverse the trope.

And Judge Sotomayor is in need of humor. Because in the second half of the clip, there is no way to mistake the context of the discourse. Judge Sotomayor is apologizing.

All comedy is drama. If you don't have a dramatic shift, you are not funny. The audience laughs, so we can tell that Judge Sotomayor is, indeed, funny. Why is she apologizing? Has she made a boo-boo? If so, what? And why is the apology funny?

At this point, we shift abruptly from the top end of the judicial food chain to the bottom. Judge Sotomayor has indeed made a boo-boo. And what was her boo-boo? She forgot that the meeting was being taped. And then she makes a second boo-boo. She says exactly this - on tape. And the whole room cracks up.

Because, you know, at the other end of the law - the business end - it's really quite common for people to know, as a matter of professional responsibility, whether or not they are on tape. When they think they aren't but they are, fascinating things can be recorded.

And if this wasn't a fascinating thing, I wouldn't be wasting your time with it. But clearly, Judge Sotomayor has no actual fear of prosecution. We are not at that end of the law. We are at the other end - the majesty end. Whew. But then: why apologize? What's funny?

Let's go back to the first half of the clip. Play it again, if you have to. Again, there is an appropriate context for the discourse in which Judge Sotomayor is engaging: academia. Note that she is speaking at Duke. And were she not a public official speaking on the (taped) record, a fact she appears to have momentarily forgotten, no one at Duke would raise an eyebrow.

To understand the full context of Judge Sotomayor's reasoning, we need to rewind the tape a century and look at America a century ago. Judge Sotomayor would no doubt be comfortable, if not perhaps on tape, in describing herself as a "progressive." So indeed would Herbert Croly, founder of the New Republic and author of The Promise of American Life (1911). And while the word has taken a twist or two over the century, it basically refers to the same movement.

The original progressives (or Progressives) were original and iconoclastic thinkers, believe it or not. Just as we do here at UR, they found themselves grappling with difficult truths. One of these truths, which has revealed itself again and again ever since Plato, is this: democracy doesn't work. Or, as Croly puts it:
Majority rule, under certain prescribed conditions, is a necessary constituent of any practicable democratic organization; but the actions or decisions of a majority need not have any binding moral and national authority. Majority rule is merely one means to an extremely difficult, remote, and complicated end; and it is a piece of machinery which is peculiarly liable to get out of order. Its arbitrary and dangerous tendencies can, as a matter of fact, be checked in many effectual and legitimate ways, of which the most effectual is the cherishing of a tradition, partly expressed in some body of fundamental law, that the true people are, as Bismarck declared, in some measure an invisible multitude of spirits — the nation of yesterday and to-morrow, organized for its national historical mission.
Here we see the seam between progressivism and reaction, under glass. Here at UR, we are perfectly happy to observe that majority rule is an arbitrary and dangerous piece of machinery, which is peculiarly liable to get out of order.

To me, what this says is that democracy is bad political engineering. To Herbert Croly, what this says is that democracy is a higher spiritual truth, distinct from the "politics" of mere majority rule - cue the invisible multitude of spirits and the national historical mission. With these mystical forces, it is not difficult at all to worship democracy and despise politics - a position held by hundreds of millions of intelligent people today.

But I digress. If we look at USG in the era of Herbert Croly, we see how justified his observations were, because what we see is a sort of democratic klepto-plutocracy. The real USG of 1909 is not too different from the progressive image of the Bush administration. To put it baldly, the levers of politics had been captured by an alliance of bosses and plutocrats. America had real industries then, and those industries had real captains. It also had political machines, as it has today. Croly writes:
The consequence has been, however, a separation of actual political power from official political responsibility. The public officers are still technically responsible for the good government of the states, even if, as individuals, they have not been granted the necessary authority effectively to perform their task. But their actual power is even smaller than their official authority. They are almost completely controlled by the machine which secures their election or appointment. The leader or leaders of that machine are the rulers of the community, even though they occupy no offices and cannot be held in any way publicly responsible.
Indeed. But in fact, by any reasonable historical standard, the quality of government that American klepto-plutocracy produced was not bad at all. Perhaps it can be compared to the klepto-plutocracy now operating in China, whose methods are also unseemly, and whose results are also quite good. But surely no such government can be in any sense optimal. China's sure isn't, and nor was the McKinley administration. Thus a Croly had every right to expect improvement.

And what offended the early progressives most of all, quite reasonably, was the corruption of the system. Recall UR's definition of corruption: a thing is corrupt if it is not what it appears to be. No one can possibly argue that Gilded-Age USG was what it appeared to be. On the other hand, it is quite difficult to argue that the 20th century improved USG's customer-service quality.

There is an unintentionally-wonderful mural near my home in San Francisco: the Market Street Railway Mural. If you doubt the above conclusion, have a look at the mural. My caption is that what we see in this mural, from right to left, is progressivism improving Market Street in the imaginary future, and devastating it in the actual past. Hopefully the reactionary can be excused for his lack of hope for the UN ecotopia, pleasant though this Embarcadero would indeed be.

Alas. When we analyze the progressive mind, we are dealing by definition in abnormal psychology: with the problem of the mind warped by power. Tolkien never told us what his great work was about, but his politics were no secret. No fellow reactionary can believe but that when he wrote of the Nine Rings that Sauron gave to mortal men, Tolkien was thinking of such as Keynes, from whom power hissed out like a snake. One has to wonder if the two ever met.

Croly was certainly an American equivalent. And another grim rider is Walter Lippmann, whose Public Opinion (1922) is perhaps the most frank discussion of how the new, twentieth-century, progressive USG operates. If you read both Croly and Lippmann, you have a pretty solid start on the founding mindset of progressivism.

When a Ringwraith hisses of invisible spirit armies and national historical missions, it is not wise to take him at his word - or ignore him. These writers are not to be believed in any way. Their texts are not authorities, but evidence. Any approach to them must be forensic - in a word, Machiavellian.

The Machiavellian gist of the early progressive agenda - is that, since USG is not being properly directed by the mechanisms defined in its actual, written Constitution (as reconstructed in the 1860s), it must be directed through an alternate channel. That is, though nominally directed by its political arms, which depend on majority rule and are therefore dysfunctional, it must be actually directed by professional experts, who are above politics. In case you hadn't noticed, this has been pretty much the case since 1933.

Unfortunately, there is just one small problem with the Croly-Lippmann design. By working surreptitiously and dishonestly to direct the State, whose humble and disinterested servants they claim to be, the Platonic guardians these thinkers postulate must violate any professional codes of honor that they may have. It is impossible to be dishonest in one field of endeavor and honest in another.

In other words, the progressive movement is actually far more corrupt than its banal kleptocratic predecessor, because it corrupts the very fields of knowledge on which all successful governments must rely. In a society steeped in science, law, history, and economics, it seems remarkably attractive to shift the foundations of one's sovereign away from robber barons and machine politicians, and toward scientists, lawyers, historians, and economists. (And journalists, of course. But the journalists of 1909 were already quite corrupt enough.)

However, from a long-term perspective, the decision is fatal. Robber barons and machine politicians will never be nice people, but both professions are competitive enough to prevent much decay. Consider the political conditions of the Italian Renaissance. It is impossible for power to corrupt a kleptocracy: a kleptocracy is already corrupt. This does not render the structure ideal, but it lends it a certain long-term stability which is of great value.

It is possible to corrupt science, law, history, and economics. It may be impossible to uncorrupt journalism. For a society ruled by bad journalism and condemned to bad science, bad law, bad history and bad economics, there is no exit but destruction. I think we still have some good science. Perhaps there is a little good history, and some decent law. For economics, there is just no hope. Fuzzy fields rot fast.

When you ask experts, who claim to be performing a technical service in which individuals are interchangeable, to wield power - for example, when you exempt their advice from any independent review, or even allow them to control their own funding streams - you are basically sliding the Ring on to the collective fingers of some of the most important professions in a modern human society.

For example, the scientist is the figure in modern society for whom it is easiest to cheat, because no one but a philosopher of science can determine whether his work is really science. Falsified science is easily detected; pseudoscience is not. And there are not a lot of philosophers, ever. And next to detecting pseudoeconomics, detecting pseudoscience is a piece of cake.

And if you can distort this input to the government, you have hacked the government. You, not the old boss machine, are in the driver's seat. And the worst of it is - you haven't even solved the frickin' problem:
The leader or leaders of that machine are the rulers of the community, even though they occupy no offices and cannot be held in any way publicly responsible.
The progressives have transferred this invidious position - job description, Ringwraith - from ward heelers to the scholarly tradition of the West. In the process, they have irreparably corrupted the scholarly tradition of the West. And they have not gotten rid of the ward heelers. At least in 1909 there were no (supposed) scholars who were also ward heelers. I'd take ten Boss Crokers for one Rajendra Pachauri.

And suddenly, when we get to Croly on law, we see the intellectual pedigree of Judge Sotomayor:
The conservative believer in the existing American political system will doubtless reply that the lawyer, in so far as he opposes radical reform or reorganization, is merely remaining true to his function as the High Priest of American constitutional democracy. And no doubt it is begging the question at the present stage of this discussion, to assert that American lawyers as such are not so well qualified as they were to guide American political thought and action. But it can at least be maintained that, assuming some radical reorganization to be necessary, the existing prejudices, interests, and mental outlook of the American lawyer disqualify him for the task. The legal profession is risking its traditional position as the mouthpiece of the American political creed and faith upon the adequacy of the existing political system. If there is any thoroughgoing reorganization needed, it will be brought about in spite of the opposition of the legal profession. They occupy in relation to the modern economic and political problem a position similar to that of the Constitutional Unionists previous to the Civil War. Those estimable gentlemen believed devoutly that the Constitution, which created the problem of slavery and provoked the anti-slavery agitation, was adequate to its solution. In the same spirit learned lawyers now affirm that the existing problems can easily be solved, if only American public opinion remain faithful to the Constitution. But it may be that the Constitution, as well as the system of local political government built up around the Federal Constitution, is itself partly responsible for some of the existing abuses, evils, and problems; and if so, the American lawyer may be useful, as he was before the Civil War, in evading our difficulties; but he will not be very useful in settling them.
(Note the interesting charge that the Constitution "provoked the anti-slavery agitation." That sure ain't one ya hear these days! What can Croly possibly mean? Why is there a watermelon there?)

At the point when Croly wrote, American law was in the thrall of the belief that now would be described as legal formalism. Legal formalism is the belief that: there is such a thing as law; the law means what it says; some things are legal, and other things are illegal; etc. Generations of lawyers were indoctrinated with this medieval obscurantism. From Hammurabi until Herbert Croly, no one had ever begun to suspect that it might just be wrong.

Seriously. I am not making this up. There has been some recent interest in the term, or it would not be in La Wik - but there is no surviving legal-formalist tradition in America. In the generation after Croly, it was replaced by the tradition of legal realism. For example, the Uniform Commercial Code was principally drafted by the noted legal-realist Karl Llewellyn.

Legal realism succeeded so completely that its acolytes succeeded to actual responsibility, thus invoking Conquest's law - everyone is reactionary on the subjects he understands. It therefore had to be succeeded in the '60s and thereafter by critical legal studies and the even more aggro critical race theory, for which even the Wikipedia page is wreathed in pure Stalinist spittle. Do read these pages, if you can stomach looking that long into the eye of the Ring.

The content of all these philosophies is the same. Let me summarize, in Machiavellian terms.

The first essential ingredient is a pinch of tu quoque. This spice is to progressivism as cilantro is to Mexican food, so we cannot be surprised to find it here. To believe that you, as a lawyer, should dishonor everything your profession has held to be good and sweet and true for the previous four millennia, indeed dishonor the notion of truth itself, and install a Judas hole in the veil of Athena, your soul has to be pretty seriously bent. There are only two instruments that can do the bending: fear and hate.

Thus, those who break the rules will always first argue that their enemies, real or imagined, are breaking the very same rules: tu quoque. Thus, a judge might rule against the workers because there was a bad egg on his plate this morning. Or because he has stock in the company. Why, then, how can it be wrong for us to rule against the workers? Most judges are white men, and most white men are at least a little racist. Why, then... und so weiter.

In the Machiavellian furnace, this is the turd down to which all these bloviations boil. Here we see it in the words of Judge Sotomayor herself:
Yet, because I accept the proposition that, as Judge Resnik describes it, "to judge is an exercise of power" and because as, another former law school classmate, Professor Martha Minnow [sic] of Harvard Law School, states "there is no objective stance but only a series of perspectives - no neutrality, no escape from choice in judging," I further accept that our experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions. The aspiration to impartiality is just that--it's an aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others. Not all women or people of color, in all or some circumstances or indeed in any particular case or circumstance but enough people of color in enough cases, will make a difference in the process of judging.
If I may digress for a moment - note, also, that this typical diversicrat, this DMV supervisor, this jurist of renown, can barely write. She literally does not know how to use a comma properly. Read the whole speech linked above - not a transcript, but a prepared text that was published in a law journal. Mother Jones has noticed, too. Keep it up, guys! Speak truth to power!

Understandably, Ms. Sotomayor almost flunked out of Princeton her freshman year, because she couldn't write. Oddly enough, she later managed to graduate summa cum laude. Perhaps this reflects a remarkable, but temporary, improvement in her writing skills. Maybe it was that she was good at math, not writing, and took a lot of physics classes to get her GPA up. Or perhaps it reflects the fact that she majored in Puerto Rican studies, ie, racism. Can we know? We cannot.

It might well be appropriate to classify Judge Sotomayor as a critical race theorist. On the other hand, it might not. I don't know the details well enough. However, her suspicious interest in human biodiversity (HBD) is quite compelling:
Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum
Perhaps she's been reading Steve Sailer. Or perhaps she's more in the Leonard Jeffries line? I would certainly be fascinated to hear Judge Sotomayor explain her perhaps-idiosyncratic views on "inherent physiological differences."

In any case, enough with the mockery - back to the mindset. Now, a mindset can exist only in the minds of those who have a mind. Eg, who know how to use a comma. There are plenty of mindless progressives, but there are also quite a few mindful ones.

So tu quoque might be sufficient for the mind of a mediocrity. And if Judge Sotomayor is anything but, I have seen no convincing evidence of it. This in itself is a historic corruption. When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up and be on the Supreme Court, and I sure as hell knew how to use a comma.

But we have not really gotten to the secret of the laughter. We have made progressivism seem mean and petty, a reflection which is not true to life. If tu quoque was all there was, there might still be laughter on the soundtrack to that speech, but it would be shriller, colder laughter.

Here is a quote from the blogger Revere at Effect Measure, who claims to be one or many senior officials in USG's public-health apparatus. Obviously, these are some of the best people at USG. Obviously, many of them are children of the '60s. Revere's insights on influenza are certainly pertinent and sincere, but often he veers off into social and political topics which reveal his perfect orthodoxy in the great tradition of Herbert Croly. He writes:
There have been a lot of dismaying things about American politics since Reagan, but for us surely one of the most disheartening was the continual denigration of public servants. Politicians ran for office on platforms that put down anything done by the public sector even as their own corrupt hands yanking on the public money teat. It wasn't enough to praise the wonders of private enterprise. It had to be done at the expense of tearing down the virtues of a common purpose. The result was to marginalize and impoverish public service, what should be the noblest of callings, not the most trivialized. Instead young people were fed the idea that hedge fund managers and Wall Streeters were the Best of the Best.

That was then. Now a nascent spirit of civic engagement has emerged from the 2008 campaign and found a responsive and sympathetic ear among the younger generation and even some of us oldsters. Talking about the value of civil engagement is one thing. Enabling it is another. So I'm glad to share an email I got today from Danny Modovan, Director of the Jobs for Change initiative at Change.org.
[...]
Of course we were delighted to endorse the vision and we did.
Etc, etc. Of course, we've all seen this kind of garbage, whose very unreadability betrays its pure cant. It is particularly interesting to see it mixed with what looks like perfectly sound science. But that is not unusual, either.

Nonetheless, behind the cant, here is true belief. It is as sincere as any Catholic's loyalty to his church - an unconditional institutional attachment. We can be sure Revere is attached to the UN, for the same reasons. What would the Pope have to do, for Catholics to stop believing in the Catholic Church? He could come out on the high altar at Christmas mass in St. Peters and rape a goat, and the Church would get either a new Pope or a new sacrament.

The faith of Revere is the faith that, here at UR, we call Universalism. We can use the tools of reason, of course, to belittle and mock this faith - just as we can use them to belittle and mock Catholicism. But we cannot belittle or mock those who hold either, because all of us stumble through life in a maze of delusion - Catholics, Universalists, and mere reactionaries.

When you hear someone in 2009 use a phrase like virtues of a common purpose (meaning, the spiritual satisfaction of being a government employee), which could have come straight out of Herbert Croly or any of a hundred writers of a century ago, it is the equivalent of finding a preserved sequence in comparative DNA analysis. You know that here you have found something important, something that works, something that appeals to the human heart. Whatever it is, it is something to be respected.

My guess is that Judge Sotomayor's audience for that speech consisted largely of people with minds, and my guess is that - if they share the general philosophy of progressivism - they would respond in the same way as Revere to "Jobs for Change" at change.org. These are people who are convinced, as Croly was, that they are building the New Jerusalem. No matter that Croly, too, was building the New Jerusalem! Progress takes time, and its enemies are powerful.

For any cause so great, no effective tactic can be rejected. Especially not when the opponent is so powerful, ruthless, and unprincipled. Thus the tu quoque - which tends to operate on the principle of cet animal est très méchant, quand on l'attaque il se défend. These two blur to create the mindset that could laugh, in that room, at that time, in that way. A laugh which is confident, warm, but somehow... predatory.

I actually can speak personally to this laugh. I personally have emitted it, though in a completely different context. The context was that of an old employer of mine, which had devised an extremely aggressive strategy for participation in standards forums. The basic gist of the strategy was, as always, to block progress on standards in which progress favored our competitors. Without, of course, admitting any such thing. In my specific memory, the CTO of the company was talking about how these tactics would be used to "screw Nokia," or words to that effect.

And the laugh was the same, not just because screwing Nokia would shift money from Nokia's pockets into ours, but also because our engineering tended to be better than Nokia's. Thus, by retarding Nokia's work and advancing ours, the result would be better standards. And thus, our manipulative and dishonest conduct was actually serving the industry as a whole.

So Judge Sotomayor's audience that day went through the following mental process. They realized that Judge Sotomayor had committed a Kinsley gaffe - hardly surprising, considering her skill with the comma. Then they realized that, by mentioning her fear of the tape, she had committed a double Kinsley gaffe - not only had she described the reality of USG, not the fantasy that keeps the voters going back into the little booths, she had brought up the difference between the two.

And the audience laughed, because they realized that this was in some sense shameful - just as it was shameful of us to block Nokia's standards initiatives, by raising bogus technical obstacles. Again: any divergence between appearance and reality is essentially corrupt. At the very least, it amounts to a deception.

There is thus a slightly diabolical tone to this laugh. It is almost the laugh of sinners called out by a preacher, except that your typical sinner does not conceive himself of sinning for a higher good. Indeed there is another, older, name for "legal realism" - antinomianism. This is often found in the presence of extreme Protestant sects, such as Universalism.

We know policy is made in appeals court, but we don't say policy is made in appeals court. Don't talk about Fight Club, Judge Sotomayor! Similarly, it would be a definite error to admit in an open meeting that the bogus technical obstacles are, in fact, bogus obstacles presented for the purpose of thwarting Nokia.

And the lie is never exactly a secret - per se. Progressivism is distributed and adaptive, not organized and conspiratorial. Obviously, everyone around the appeals court knows that the appeals court exists to make policy. And everyone in the working group knows who, exactly, is stalling.

Yet if the lie is admitted, at least admitted too often, real consequences may ensure. It's not like Judge Sotomayor has blurted out the formula for the atomic bomb. Nonetheless, the camouflage machine can only crank out so many amps, so it's definitely better if there are as few continuity errors as possible.

Thus we hear four things in the laughter: a bit of shame, a bit of the thrill of power, a bit of danger, and a bit of smug self-righteousness. Government does not always do evil in this state of mind, but this is the state of mind it must adopt in order to do evil.

And lastly, there is also the feeling of camaraderie in the transcendence of order. This truly is the holy brotherhood of the antinomian - excused, like demon monks, from any limit on the appetite. As Fidel Castro says, the honey of power is sweet. It is sweeter yet in the presence of righteousness. And those who share this taste are brothers forever, like tag-team acid-trippers. What sin can this comradeship not excuse? And what foe can defeat it?

But the terrible fact is that power, like life, ages. The USG of today is no longer what it was even in the '70s. Look at this team of revolutionaries that Judge Sotomayor joined after law school:
"She just believed in the mission,” Luis Alvarez, a former chairman of its board, said of Ms. Sotomayor. “This was a highly refined group of individuals who came from the premier academic institutions. It was almost like Camelot. It was a wonderful growth period.”
Alas! Why the past tense? Is LatinoJustice-PRLDEF no longer so highly refined? Does it no longer stir the most delicate and elegant passion in the hearts of of its own staff? Does it no longer recruit from the premier academic institutions? After this wonderful growth period, what happened? Sadly, I can guess - Trotsky turned into Brezhnev. All things age.

Let us roll the clock back, briefly, and look at the level of dishonor briefly. Our first exhibit: a little ransom note sent by the young Ms. Sotomayor to Princeton, in 1974. Here is our highlight:
Yet statistical evidence is not the total concern or complaint of the Puerto Rican or Chicano students — what is terrifying to us are the implications. The facts imply and reflect the total absence of regard, concern and respect for an entire people and their culture. In effect, they reflect an attempt — a successful attempt so far — to relegate an important cultural sector of the population to oblivion.
In other words, Princeton University - in 1974 - is engaged in an active racist conspiracy against Puerto Ricans. Similarly, Hitler is alive and well and living on the dark side of the moon. This is either pure delusion, or pure shameless mendacity. Neither reflects well on the character of the young Ms. Sotomayor.

Almost every sentence in this letter, whose thinking is just as slovenly and sordid as its writing, yields priceless rewards to analysis. But here is perhaps the best:
Puerto Ricans constitute 12 per cent of the population in New Jersey. Immediately surrounding Princeton — New Brunswick, Trenton, and Newark — they constitute approximately 15 per cent of the population.
Now, why would this be relevant? Remember the complaint: not enough students and faculty members of "Chicano" (why doesn't anyone say "Chicano" anymore?") descent. But Princeton both hires and admits from a pool which is national, if not international. It is not a New Jersey university. It just happens to be in New Jersey.

Lurking under these innocent demographic statistics is a simple threat. There are a lot of Puerto Ricans near Princeton. Therefore, we can seduce them with our secret Boricuan wiles, of which you gringos know nothing, and bus them here to cause trouble. Granted, Newark is an hour away, but what's an hour on a bus? If you think nothing like this has ever happened, you could not be more wrong - although most of it was confined to the late '60s and early '70s. But then again, that's when this letter was written. And the jobs didn't go away, either.

Could a future Supreme Court justice think in such a sordid, material way? Could this really be the substance of her concern as a young woman - give my kinsmen jobs, or we will (a) sue you and (b) bus in a mob to rough you up? Alas, it is not at all surprising. The Sonia Sotomayors of the world got their jobs, and have served out long and happy careers as diversity bureaucrats.

And it is quite possible to go lower. Consider this impeccably-sourced graf from La Wik:
On the recommendation of Yale professor and future judge José A. Cabranes, Sotomayor was hired out of law school as an Assistant District Attorney under New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau starting in 1979. She said at the time that did so with conflicted emotions: "There was a tremendous amount of pressure from my community, from the third-world community, at Yale. They could not understand why I was taking this job. I'm not sure I've ever resolved that problem." [...] She felt the lower-level crimes were largely products of socioeconomic environment and poverty, but had a different attitude about serious felonies: "No matter how liberal I am, I'm still outraged by crimes of violence. Regardless of whether I can sympathize with the causes that lead these individuals to do these crimes, the effects are outrageous." Hispanic-on-Hispanic crime was of particular concern to her: "The saddest crimes for me were the ones that my own people committed against each other."
Isn't this amazing? How can this just not amaze you? "No matter how liberal I am, I'm still outraged by crimes of violence." It's like listening to a Holocaust denier talk about how saddened he is by the very real suffering of the Jews.

Shall we go there? Oh, yes. Why don't we go there. Let's consider all the "lower-level crimes" - such as "minor assault cases" - that occurred in New York in the '70s and '80s. No - let's just include muggings at knifepoint, in cases where the assailant is a Puerto Rican and the victim is an elderly Holocaust survivor.

Can we picture this set? Is there any reason we can't? How many members of the set do you think there are? 10? 100? Call it a hundred. And over each of these events, each of which actually really truly happened, the wise Latina spirit of Judge Sotomayor, empathetic to a T, is hovering. And each time it happens, she empathizes to the assailant: no matter how liberal I am, I'm still outraged by your crime. But at least you didn't hold up a fellow Chicano.

Judge Sotomayor, like Warren Hastings, stands amazed at her own moderation. She actually believes that some crimes should be punished, even when they are carried out by her own people. Perhaps thanks to some residue of Catholic school, she cannot quite swallow the full Frantz Fanon line - or should I say, Franz Fanon?

This is what Sam Francis called anarcho-tyranny - sadistic, wilful domination not by the direct agents of the state, but private parties acting with the toleration and consent of the state. It is quite literally the same "boys will be boys" principle that old Wilhelmine judges applied to Nazi street violence under the Weimar Republic. And it has exactly the same effect: leveraging extralegal force to produce political power.

Oncce you see this, of course, it sticks in your head and stays there. What we are looking at here is simple: a mafia, united by an adolescent status fantasy. So when a respected journalist, at a respected publication, writes:
Judge Sonia Sotomayor is smart and sharp, and her formidable track record on the bench should put to rest any lingering doubts that she isn't. (Speaking of which: Why was the left, or at least the center, criticizing one of its own?)
The reactionary's only feeling is sadness. USG is enormous and very old, and many, many people believe deeply that it is either intrinsically righteous or, if not, susceptible to reform. They certainly are not aware that it consists of a set of individuals who, whatever their actual IQs and grammatical skills, are moral 13-year-olds who think real life is a game of Fight Club.

What saddens me especially is my confidence that Herbert Croly, Walter Lippmann, and even later Ringwraiths such as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., would probably have no choice but to agree with me, Carlyle, Lecky and Froude. This narrative is sordid and pathetic, truly Third World. It is simply impossible to respect a USG that appoints, as a justice of its highest court, a woman who is confused by the concept of a comma, solely on account of her unusual pigmentation. There is certainly no chance that history will spare it - at least, not forever.

Fortunately, USG does not demand our respect. It asks only for our obedience, and here at UR we are always glad to provide it. That's why I'm happy to provide a strong blog endorsement of Judge Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. Jurists like her are the face of USG's future - and the future cannot arrive soon enough. Here at UR, we hope for nothing so much as change.