Tuesday, June 30, 2015

And now for something completely different

Earlier today while I was waiting for my coffee date, I was listening and singing along to this:

I opened my eyes and she was there. She said, "Hey don't let me stop you!"

Relationships aren't my priority right now so my Game is rusty. It's strange. My fellow Traditionalists and conservatives veer between saying, "Game is nothing but a placebo effect," vs. "Girls should avoid the irresistible Jedi mind tricks of Game practitioners." My father was part of the Silent Generation rather than the Baby Boomers, and I think that significantly influenced his teaching me about women. I was exposed to the same falsehoods about love and marriage as my contemporaries (depending on which demographer you consult, I'm either the last of Generation X or the first of the Millennials) but they never sat right with me. I always had much more success with women when I ignored everything the world said about the subject.

The player lifestyle is not an option for me as extramarital sex is sinful, but I enjoy female company as much as the next man. If anything, I rather enjoy freaking out the nice Catholic girls. They all purport to want nice clean shaven Catholic boys with full heads of hair whose most serious curse words are "gosh darn it." So when a chain smoking, hard drinking, shaven headed, goateed jerk like me comes along, I upset their world view.

As an example, a few weeks ago I was at the public library when a beautiful woman sat down at a nearby table. I approached and said, "Hey. I think you're cute and I'd like to get your number." The look on her face was priceless. She was speechless. She replied, "I... you... wow. Just wow. Thank you so much for coming right up and saying that. That was amazing!"

Normal people will read that and think, "Big deal. You asked a girl for her number. What's the big occasion?" It wasn't great Game, or witty, or smooth or anything like that. Her reaction was instructive though: most modern women aren't used to getting approached by complete strangers in broad daylight like that. If she didn't find me attractive, she'd have immediately gone on to social media to write, "OMG a total creeper just totally harassed me!!!!" Maybe she did do that and I just don't know it, heh.

Perhaps I'm an inveterate optimist. Maybe my optimism is completely baseless. But I'm confident that human nature will out. The current environment of sexual anarchy is as doomed to fail as Soviet communism was. I won't live to see it but if I ever have children, I'll work to build a better world for them than the one I was born into.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

My new article at Return of Kings

In my second article for Return of Kings, I briefly examine the natural law and the objective nature of truth, goodness, and beauty. Check it out and share.

God bless Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee is a personal hero of mine. Besides being a great general, he was a great Christian and gentleman. So naturally, he must be made a non-person. Brooks mentions in passing that Abraham Lincoln did not believe that blacks were capable of equality with whites. His administration considered several plans to help blacks settle in foreign colonies. By 21st century standards, Lincoln was a white supremacist.

If we are going to strip Robert E. Lee's name off of public facilities because he was a slave holding traitor, then it follows we must do the same with George Washington who was a slave holding traitor who took up arms against his King. The man who wrote the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, was also a slave holding traitor whom Doctor Johnson famously called out:
We are told, that the subjection of Americans may tend to the diminution of our own liberties; an event, which none but very perspicacious politicians are able to foresee. If slavery be thus fatally contagious, how is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?
Brooks claims that this isn't about rewriting history but about shaping culture going forward, as if the one didn't imply the other. A people without a history is a people made up of emasculated liars, and emasculated liars are easy to control.

Trahison des clercs

I didn't really expect him to, but nonetheless I was surprised that Father did not say anything at all about what happened this past Friday. Most priests don't have the stomach to stand at the pulpit and tell their flocks that they have a moral obligation to oppose same-sex "marriage" and that supporting it in any way, shape, or form is formal cooperation with evil which necessitates repentance and confession before receiving Holy Communion. I'd be pleasantly astonished if any priest in the country said anything like that from the pulpit today. If they commented on it at all, I expect it was more along the lines of a tepid defense of real marriage or assurances that the sacrament cannot be changed.

What did you people hear at Mass or at church today?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Our fey planet

Many Christians are worried about what today portends for religious freedom. I've written about it at length here.  For most of us, day to day life will continue as usual. We'll deal with the public square as necessary, but we should never accept today's ruling as legitimate. The positive law rests upon the natural law and any positive law that purports to contradict the natural law is illegitimate and unjust.

"The American people" doesn't carry the same connotations as, say, the German people or the Chinese people. The Narrative holds that America is a nation of immigrants and that talk of core Americans is raciss and exclusionary. We are united by the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. For that reason, many right-liberal Americans recoil in horror if we criticize either document. For now they can take refuge in the Supreme Court's invention from wholecloth of a right to sodomite marriage (and they did manufacture it, don't misunderstand me.) But suppose we eventually passed Constitutional amendments explicitly guaranteeing positive rights to abortion and sodomy. If the Constitution explicitly violates the natural law, then right-liberals fear that the government would become illegitimate and we'd cease to be a nation at all. Balderdash. Caesar may try to violate the natural law, but we still have to obey the traffic laws.

Of course this will have serious implications for anyone considering government work that involves swearing to uphold the U.S. or state constitutions. I don't regret my own military service but if I had children I would strongly discourage them from going the same route. Bonald suggests that Christians need to become much more tribal. That post struck a cord with me. Godless heathens and Protestants seldom make me angry, but if I had any hair on my head I'd tear it out in rages over my fellow Catholics who side with the Church's enemies. Remember: Catholics support same-sex "marriage" at rates equal to or greater than the population as a whole.

As for me, my go-to response to inquiries on the subject is, "Yes, I oppose same-sex marriage. Go cry about it."

Justice Kennedy made his ruling, now let him enforce it

Is anyone surprised by this?
The Supreme Court on Friday delivered a historic victory for gay rights, ruling 5 to 4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live and that states may no longer reserve the right only for heterosexual couples.
The court’s action marks the culmination of an unprecedented upheaval in public opinion and the nation’s jurisprudence. Advocates called it the most pressing civil rights issue of modern times, while critics said the courts had sent the country into uncharted territory by changing the traditional definition of marriage.
 Justice Scalia's dissent is, as usual, filled with the sort of zingers that have made him a national treasure:
"The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic... If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: 'The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,' I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie."
The Supreme Court can declare that squares are round if it wishes, but that doesn't make it so. Gay LARPers can ape the trappings of marriage but that doesn't make them married. Whenever liberal justices manufacture a new right, they argue that they're not manufacturing anything but that the right they've discovered was hidden in the text of the Constitution all along, arising from the emanations and penumbras.

The normative force of any positive law, including the Constitution, rests on the natural law. Right-liberals are reluctant to speak of the natural law so instead they attempted to reign in the judicial power with positivism. Republican candidates always vow to nominate "strict constructionists" to the Supreme Court, that is Justices who would base their rulings solely on the text of the Constitution. I've had Fox News on in the background and already I'm hearing right-liberals decrying this decision, not because sodomy is a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance, but because the court trampled on democracy or this should have been decided by the states or some other procedural complaint.

Both right-liberal positivism and left-liberal post-modernism are attempts by the free and equal liberal superman to push the natural law outside the Overton Window. From now on whenever a Republican president nominates a justice to the Supreme Court, the nominee will dutifully inform the Senate committees that of course sodomite marriage is the settled law of the land, and that he might not personally approve of it, but that won't affect his rulings...

Man is a social animal. Our connections to others make us who we are. Our duties to society aren't impositions by outsiders, but integral to our identities. Traditional sexual morality made possible trust and bonding between the sexes. Rejecting that tradition, as our current world works so hard to do, is to reject what makes us human. Progressive delusions to the contrary, human nature cannot be reconfigured at will. A fully human life must respect natural human functions in areas that affect the entirety of life such as love, marriage, and childrearing. That which is best for man is to use sex for its natural ends. Otherwise, life becomes an animalistic bedlam of impulse and chaos.

The traditional family is not a museum artifact the government can redefine at will. The progressives hate it because it represents settled understandings of what men are, what women are, and what sex is for. If you give the same level of honor and support to arrangements that are radically at odds with the traditional family, then you destroy the family as a reliable institution. I doubt the gays would be triumphant today without the existence of feminism and no-fault divorce.

What can't last forever, won't. If sexual anarchy causes enough problems for individuals and societies, it won't last. Progressives in general are not known for their fecundity. When the State collapses (and it will, long before this century is over) and people can no longer depend on it for education, health care, and pensions, then the importance of family ties and the sexual mores that support it will grow in importance again.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ban the American flag

They're only going half way:
If you've been watching the news recently, you'll know of the huge debate in the U.S over the role of the Confederate flag in contemporary America. Many see it as a reminder of the many pre-Civil War injustices while others see it simply as a way to honor the soldiers who died for the Confederacy. Many large US companies, like Walmart and Amazon, have already banned the sale of any Confederate flag merchandise as a reaction to the recent events. Now, it appears that Apple has decided to join them by pulling many Civil War wargames from the App Store. As of the writing of this story, games like Ultimate General: Gettysburg and all the Hunted Cow Civil War games are nowhere to be found. Apple is famous for reaching for the axe rather than the scalpel when it comes to political issues (like rejecting Hunted Cow's Tank Battle 1942 for depicting Germans and Russians as enemies), so this move doesn't come as a great surprise.
Technically, the United States as a whole was a slave holding nation up until the South seceded in 1861. From Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address:
I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.
Obviously we need to ban the American flag as well. In fact, let's cut out the middleman: white people just need to be outlawed all together, am I right?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

O let thy power, holy John, now loosen
Tongues which are fetter'd, cleanse our lips polluted, 
That we thy servants all thy wondrous actions 
May sound forth meetly.

Lo! a swift herald from the heav'ns descending,
Brings to thy father tiding of thy greatness,
Thy name revealing, and thy life's high story
Duly declaring.

Doubting in spirit of the heav'nly message,
Straightway his tongue the pow'r of speech forsaketh,
But on the birthday thou his voice restorest,
At thine appearing.

Thou, while yet hidden, in the womb still cradled,
Knewest thy Monarch, in his bridal chamber:
Whence the two mothers, through their children's merits
Mysteries utter'd.

Glory to God the Father in the highest,
And to the Sole-begotten Son be given,
Praise, too, to Thee, O great co-equal Spirit,
One God, forever. Amen.

Lesson, from the Prophet Isaias 49:

Give ear, ye islands, and hearken, ye people, from afar. The Lord hath called me from the womb, from the bowels of my mother He hath been mindful of my name. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand He hath protected me, and hath made me as a chosen arrow; in His quiver He hath hidden me. And He said to me: Thou art my servant Israel, for in thee will I glory. And now saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be His servant: Behold I have given thee to be the light of the gentiles, that thou mayest be My salvation even to the farthest part of the earth. Kings shall see and princes shall rise up, and adore for the Lord's sake, and for the Holy One of Israel, who hath chosen thee.
Gradual, from Jeremiah:
Before I formed thee in the bowels of thy mother, I knew thee: and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee. The Lord put forth His hand, and touched my mouth: and said to me.
Alleluia, alleluia. (Luke 1.76). Thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest; thou shalt go before the Lord to prepare His was. Alleluia.
Gospel. Luke 1. 57-68:
Elizabeth's full time of being delivered was come, and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and kinsfolks heard that the Lord had shewed his great mercy towards her, and they congratulated with her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they called him by his father' s name Zachary. And his mother answering, said: Not so; but he shall be called John.
And they said to her: There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And demanding a writing table, he wrote, saying: John is his name. And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened, and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came upon all their neighbours; and all these things were noised abroad over all the hill country of Judea.
And all they that had heard them laid them up in their heart, saying: What an one, think ye, shall this child be? For the hand of the Lord was with him. And Zachary his father was filled with the Holy Ghost; and he prophesied, saying: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, because he hath visited and wrought the redemption of his people.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

My father and I

My father was 41 when I was born. He was quite an athlete in his youth, eventually becoming captain of his high school basketball team. I was his sixth child overall but the only child from his marriage to my mother. Naturally, when I became older he introduced me to sports. At first I felt like a disappointment to him on that front. I was slow and clumsy. I'd miss easy throws or catches. I got frustrated and gave up trying to learn. Dad never said anything about it until one day when he noticed that I was literally pressing my nose into a book.

"Son," he said, holding up a sheet of paper, "Can you read anything on this? Don't come up here, just tell me what it says from where you are."

"I can't see anything on it."

"Let's go get you fitted for glasses."

That solved my athletic ineptitude. Dad also instilled in me my love of literature and reading. One of my fondest memories of the family must have been in 1989 or 1990. A freak snowstorm had left my hometown buried in snow. The electricity was out for three days. There's never been anything like that storm around here since then. Dad and I sat in recliners in front of a roaring fire, each with a stack of mighty tomes by his side. My mom was bouncing off the walls without TV. "How can you just SIT there and read?!" she'd cry.

My parents divorced when I was 12 or 13 years old. Divorce completely destroys young children, but no matter how old you are, it does affect you in some way. Neither of my parents remarried afterward. To my knowledge, neither one so much as went on a date. Dad always lived about 20 miles away so it wasn't like a complete separation of the family. Two years ago, in the weeks leading up to his death, my mother doted on him and took care of him as if they'd never been apart.

Rest in peace dad.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

No potpourri

Some of the feedback I received from my recent article came from old school fundamentalists. Benedict is not a saint, they said, because he was part of the great Whore of Babylon, a servant of the anti-Christ, and they'll die before they accept my vile Roman popery. I wasn't certain people like that actually existed anymore. It might be a regional thing. Here in California, 99% of my arguments about religion involve Godless heathens who either believe the Church is a reactionary fossil standing in the way of the progressive utopia, or a superstitious liberal NGO that all good libertarians should reject out of hand. Both believe the Church is a reactionary roadblock to the brave new world of the Nietzschean superman, self-created through his own reason and will.

It's difficult to speak of a "Protestant worldview" because Protestantism, by its nature, is prone to division. It encompasses everyone from the homosexual Episcopalian Gene Robinson to the toothy Joel Osteen to the white knighting Mark Driscoll to the thunderous John Hagee. Two things all Protestants have in common is 1) rejection of the papacy's authority, and 2) a belief that the Bible is to be the sole authority for the Christian faithful. For the 21st century Protestant, choosing a particular church to attend is largely a matter of personal taste. If Pastor Bob's preaching isn't meeting your spiritual needs, you can start attending Pastor Jim's church instead. Or you can found a church of your own.

Many years ago when I was wondering which church to join, the claims of Sola Scriptura troubled me. If the Bible is the sole source of authority, then why are there so many denominations? Did not our Blessed Lord pray that we all be one?

The problem is positivism. Positivism attempts to confine all meaning to a text, in this case the Bible. It purports to isolate meaning from any metaphysical assumptions. This is, of course, impossible. Any complex writing can have multiple good faith interpretations depending on the intentions of the author, the background of the reader, and the circumstances in which the text is written and read. If two good faith interpretations both taken to be true conflict with one another, then we have a contradiction. A text that contradicts itself has no meaning. The only real solution to mutually incompatible good faith interpretations is a source of authority outside the text itself that can resolve such conflicts. The logical conclusion of Protestantism is not the thousands of denominations that exist today, but a billion denominations; every individual Protestant his own one-man church.

The positivist believes that all meaningful parts of reality can be reduced to quantifiable and communicable knowledge. The post-modern correctly suspects that this is impossible but then leaps to the opposite extreme of believing that we cannot be certain about any aspects of reality, and that anyone who claims certainty about anything must be a crypto-Nazi. Positivism and post-modernism are two sides of the same coin, much like politics in the 21st century are arguments between left-liberals and right-liberals. The only question is deciding which basket of unprincipled exceptions you prefer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


One of the peculiar characteristics of modernity is our unwillingness to recognize the blindingly obvious. For example, if I'm part of a nine member board of directors at the local gun club, then my vote will significantly influence the outcome of our official governing decisions. In contrast, my vote's likelihood of deciding an election for President of the United States is negligible, particularly since I don't live in a swing state. It's obvious when I spell it out but many people balk at its implications. Whenever I tell people I'm not going to vote, they react as if I'd announced I was going out to kick puppies.

Third party voters are often excoriated for "throwing their votes away" or hindering a mainstream candidate's chances of winning. However, if the chances of my vote deciding a national election for president are negligible, then it is irrational to vote pragmatically in presidential elections. At this point the common retort is, "Sure it's negligible but it's possible!" I will concede that it's possible in the sense that it's possible to win the lottery, but I wouldn't gamble retirement money on it.

Elections in the 21st century are not about deciding how we are to be governed. They are about publicly affirming our allegiance to the governing philosophy of secular liberalism. They are about strengthening public consensus about how we are actually being governed. Conservatives, poor credulous dopes that they are, dutifully turn out to vote for the favored Republican candidates every four years and yet the United States moves ever leftward. Each further lurch to the left causes the Overton window to shift leftward as well. Twenty years ago, gay marriage was the hobby horse of one New Republic columnist named Andrew Sullivan. Today, questioning it can get you fired.

That's one possible benefit to a Jeb! vs. Hillary contest: it will forcefully demonstrate that elections are about endorsing the system rather than deciding how we will be governed.

Monday, June 15, 2015

My new article at Return of Kings

I'm pleased to announce I've been published by Return of Kings. Check out my article there: How to Restore Civilization by Following St. Benedict's Example. Many thanks to Roosh and the ROK editors.

Liberal joggers, right-wing lifters

While musing on Tom Wolfe's female characters, Steve Sailer brought to mind an old observation Wolfe made about exercise. Most people who are serious about fitness do both cardio and resistance training, but I've found they almost always like one more than the other, and that those preferences correlate with certain personality types. Serious joggers - the people who run half marathons - tend to be young upwardly mobile white suburbanites (American blacks are usually sprinters) with slender builds, good portfolios, a taste for good red wine, and are generally left of center in their politics. In contrast, men and women who are serious weight lifters tend to be working to lower middle class, beer drinkers with stockier builds, and are generally more right-leaning.

To be sure, there are many exceptions. I'm sure there are conservative joggers and liberal weight lifters. The manosphere is rife with men who lift and are in the upper income brackets. I think the general pattern is solid though I don't have any scientistical studies to back it up. Why do you suppose those patterns exist?

I've always hated cardio with a passion long before I ever smoked my first cigarette. I often joke that if you ever see Beefy Levinson running, try to keep up because something's about to explode. My fitness routine is lift some weights and eat some steaks. The closest I get to cardio these days is knocking out pushups or Hindu squats as quickly as I can.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The most important lesson

Gender is a social construct but race has certain physical cha... uh, that's not to say I pay attention to race because we're all the human race but... oh, wait, that's not to say I'm microaggressing against your struggles as a black wo... uh, that is, if you identify as a black, I mean African-American, woman... but gender doesn't have similar phys... wait, they do, and if you... damn it, look. The important thing here is cishet white men are evil, okay?! We can all agree on that, right?!

It's interesting to watch complete anarchic self-will crash into the brick wall of reality. Mentally ill men can mutilate themselves and start wearing skirts, and they receive standing ovations.  Today Rachel Dolezal is mostly a laughing stock, but I've seen several liberal acquaintances seriously argue that race is simply a social construct as well so it's perfectly normal and healthy if people want to change themselves at will. If you want to learn what someone truly believes about race, find out where they send their children to school.

When progressives describe something as a "social construct," what they mean is, "[X] can be made not to matter with the right conditioning." They come pouring into academia and the liberal arts so they can slowly condition us out of reality. Who are you going to believe, your lying eyes or the Black Studies major? That's not a rhetorical question. If you answer incorrectly then you're an awful person who should be fired.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The American Dream has died

Dusty Rhodes I mean:
WWE is deeply saddened that Virgil Runnels, aka “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes — WWE Hall of Famer, three-time NWA Champion and one of the most captivating and charismatic figures in sports entertainment history — passed away today at the age of 69.
Runnels became a hero to fans around the world thanks to his work ethic, his impassioned interviews and his indomitable spirit. Moreover, Runnels was a dedicated father to WWE Superstars Goldust (Dustin Runnels) and Stardust (Cody Runnels), a caring husband and a creative visionary who helped shape the landscape of WWE long after his in-ring career had ended.
WWE extends its sincerest condolences to Runnels’ family, friends and colleagues.
Before there was Hulk Hogan, there was Dusty Rhodes. The prime of his career took place in the old territory days. Before WWE became a virtual monopoly, each region of the country had its own wrestling promotion. Dusty spent most of his time in the South and mid-Atlantic states, and within those territories he was the number one baby face. He briefly wrestled for Vincent J. McMahon's World Wide Wrestling Federation, the company that eventually became WWE. As the territories began consolidating, he moved to Jim Crockett Promotions which evolved into World Championship Wrestling. During his time with Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, he gave one of the greatest promos of all time:

From 1989 to 1991, he wrestled for Vincent Kennedy McMahon's WWF under the "common man" gimmick. After that, he returned to WCW to perform booking duties and serve on the commentary team. Smarks quickly named one of his favorite booking scenarios the Dusty Finish: a wrestler's apparent victory being overturned on a technicality. Dusty came back to WWE after WCW died (the less said about TNA, the better.) The wrestling world has lost one of the all time greats. Rest in peace Dusty.

Long time fans and smarks complain endlessly about the PG Era of WWE which began in 2008 after the Chris Benoit murder-suicide. I stuck with WWE through its notoriously bad New Generation Era during its low point of 1994-1997, and even I have to admit the PG Era gives it a run for its money. Many of the complaints compare the PG Era to the Attitude Era, usually while wearing rose colored glasses. The Attitude Era coincided with most of my years in high school, and Monday Night Raw and WCW's Monday Nitro was all we talked about on Tuesday mornings. That time had some of WWE's greatest moments but also some of its worst ("I choppy choppy your pee pee!"), rivaling even the Katie Vick angle of of 2002.

The PG Era isn't bad because it's PG. Dusty and other greats like Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, and the Ultimate Warrior all competed during a time when wrestling on broadcast television was family friendly and fun and goofy. The PG Era is bad because the writing and booking is terrible. Great talents like Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, and Daniel Bryan were booked into the ground. As Jim Cornette likes to say, the key to professional wrestling is here you have a good guy, and here you have a bad guy, and people want to pay money to see what happens when they fight. Yes, the outcome of the fight is predetermined. At their best, the wrestlers make you suspend your disbelief. They take care of each other in the ring but wrestlers get injured far more often than UFC fighters. MMA fighters have maybe four or five big fights per year. Wrestlers do what they do almost seven days a week. I tune in for the drama and the characters. If the writers bury the most compelling characters, then people won't watch. There's only so many times you can watch Super Cena overcome the odds.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Book Review: Donnie Brasco

FBI agent Joseph Pistone grew up surrounded by Mafia culture. He knew their lingo, their attitude, and their lifestyle. It was for that reason he was chosen to go undercover in 1976 to break up a network of fences selling stolen goods from hijacked trucks. The FBI expected the operation to last about six months. Instead, Pistone, using the alias Donnie Brasco, was undercover for five years and nearly became a made man. He recorded his experiences in his book Donnie Brasco.

Wiseguys are mostly working class Italians who just happen to be employed as criminals. They have girlfriends, wives and children; they complain about the bills, they enjoy a good game of cards, they eat out and socialize; and they murder people without thinking about it the way we would use the copier at work. Brasco said the stereotype is that they're all hard partying drinkers. Some of them are like that, but a surprising number of them are teetotalers. Adultery was commonplace, but never with another wiseguy's girl. Disrespecting the wife or girlfriend of a member could get a man killed.

The lower ranking members were perennially broke as a joke. Brasco's Mafia partner, Benjamin "Lefty Two Guns" Ruggiero, was always on the lookout for the next big score. He was never off. Wiseguys made it a point of pride to spend as little of their own money as humanly possible but they still managed to rack up impressive debts. Lefty unwittingly caused enormous headaches for the FBI by insisting that Brasco and other undercover agents pay for his rental cars, hotel rooms, and restaurant tabs.

Brasco had to walk a fine line. As an FBI agent he could not commit crimes; any stolen goods he handled were turned over to the Bureau. But he had to create a reputation for being a stone cold criminal. Only a handful of good guys knew what he was doing. As the operation went on, his life was in danger both from the cops and from the bad guys. If he learned of a Mafia plot to murder a civilian, he was obligated to stop it. But he decided early on that if he was involved in a hit on another criminal, if it came down to himself or the bad guy, the bad guy would die.

Beneath all of the Italian bravado, the driving emotion of Mafia life is fear. Associates feared soldiers. Soldiers feared their captains. The captains feared the bosses. The bosses feared each other. Establishing gambling, loan sharking, and racketeering operations required a lot of money. Wiseguys are judged first and foremost by how much they "earn." Soldiers had to share the profits with the captains, and captains had to share with the bosses. Holding out on your fellow wiseguys could get you killed if the numbers were big enough, but even so it was a common practice. Never spend your own money, and keep as much as you can get away with.

Despite their ruthless approach to killing, the Mafia generally doesn't retaliate against cops or judges as doing so would bring down too much heat. When Brasco was revealed to be an FBI agent, they made an exception by placing an open $500,000 contract on his head. The Bureau informed them to drop it or else the entire Justice system would make it a point to wipe them out. Nearly every wiseguy who so much as had drinks with Brasco was whacked.

The saying goes that there's no honor among thieves, but the Mafia has its own code of honor. Brasco's Mafia captain, Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano, said he harbored no ill will against Brasco for his deception. He was an agent who was doing his job. Sonny's body was found in a shallow grave with both hands cut off, a symbol of someone who compromises the family's security. Lefty was quickly apprehended by the FBI for his own protection. Brasco, for his part, harbored no ill will against his Mafia partners. He ended the book by saying professionally he'd do it all over again, but personally, it created too great a strain on his marriage.

If you're at all interested in criminology, read this book.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Adoro te devote

St. Thomas Aquinas is best known for his Summa Theologicae, but he was also a great hymn composer. In a perfect world, all parish choirs would perform this hymn during Eucharistic adoration before, during, and after the Mass for today.

Corpus Christi, a.k.a. Jesus is our boyfriend

The feast of Corpus Christi is a golden opportunity for priests to preach a good old fashioned doctrinal sermon about the Real Presence. Our Blessed Lord's real presence in the Eucharist is the dogma upon which the entirety of Catholicism hinges. If you lose faith in the real presence, you lose the Catholic faith in its entirety. Much like the dogma of the Holy Trinity which we celebrated last Sunday, however, most priests are deeply uncomfortable or lack the confidence to preach on the subject of the Real Presence.

The priest was a guest from another diocese in the midwest. He opened his homily this morning with a personal anecdote about how he once made Cardinal Timothy Dolan angry. Dioceses from back east, you see, are faced with mass parish closings and that makes people angry. "Why don't you sell your fancy mansion?!" people said to his Eminence. This priest was interviewed by CNN and blurted out, "Yeah, I think he should." Oooops. But, the priest went on, wouldn't it be nice if more bishops and priests lived like the good and humble Pope Francis who lives in a motel? Unlike those mean old monarchist reactionaries Benedict XVI and John Paul II he was surely thinking.

People are upset about parish closings, he said, because that's where the community has memories. That's where we get baptized, where we get confirmed, receive first holy communion, get married, have our own children baptized and confirmed, and get buried. It's where we have our deep personal encounter with Jesus who loves us.

I don't think he directly touched on the dogma of the Real Presence at all. Much like last Sunday's homily on the Trinity, the important thing, these priests are saying, is not all of this theological mumbo jumbo that nobody is smart enough to understand or that nobody really cares about anyway, but that we love each other and that Jesus loves us just the way we are like a celibate boyfriend. So allow them to ignore the readings and the feast day and tell you the story about how good and holy and wonderful you, the congregation, truly are...

He concluded with an appeal to pray for vocations. Yesterday my diocese ordained two men as priests. Two men out of one million baptized Catholics in the diocese. Well gosh, when the priesthood mainly involves kissing the asses of the nice old white ladies who actually run the parish, what self-respecting heterosexual man wouldn't want to be a part of that?

I'd like to run an informal poll of my Catholic readers: what was the priest's homily about today? Was it good, bad, or indifferent?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Molon Labe

Greek banks on verge of total collapse:
While the Greek government believes it may have won the battle, if not the war with Europe, the reality is that every additional day in which Athens does not have a funding backstop, be it the ECB (or the BRIC bank), is a day which brings the local banking system to total collapse.
As a reminder, Greek banks already depends on the ECB for some €80.7 billion in Emergency Liquidity Assistance which was about 60% of total deposits in the Greek financial system as of April 30. In other words, they are woefully insolvent and only the day to day generosity of the ECB prevents a roughly 40% forced "bail in" deposit haircut a la Cyprus.
Greece will default, and with that default the European Union quietly dies. Who are the Germans going to send into Greece to collect their debts - elderly pensioners and Turkish immigrants? Who's going to fight to preserve an anti-democratic, anti-national institution like the EU? The Greek government is giving its people a chance to run on the banks before their deposits are confiscated, or "bailed in." If the Germans want their money, I hope the Greeks tell them, "Molon Labe."

I submitted an article to Return of Kings yesterday about the lessons we can learn from the last time the West experienced total socio-political-economic collapse. Back then, the deposing of the last Western Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, is generally taken by historians to be the moment when the Western empire finally died after a century of lingering illness. If current trends continue, the future is not going to be a multicultural wagon train to the stars like in Star Trek. The North American continent will fragment into several constantly warring regional powers and squabbling tribes. Europe will be a mostly Islamic ocean with a few islands of holdout Europeans. That's pretty much the setting of my upcoming series of dystopian novels. It's depressing to imagine it, but Mike Judge's Idiocracy is probably the most prophetic film of our time.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Choosing life

My blog turned three years old the other day. Thank you to my five loyal readers and all of the other visitors who have dropped by. I've noticed that my most popular entries remain my Skyrim and Fallout: New Vegas builds. I like to think that many of the kids stuck around for the crimethink.

The retreat was enjoyable but there were a few head scratching moments. Our visiting priest was late on Sunday, so confessions and Mass were postponed for a few hours. Beforehand, my buddy the youth minister and the rest of us core members gave a long talk to the teens about the necessity of being in a state of grace before receiving Holy Communion. But later on Father encouraged everyone to receive even if they hadn't been to confession beforehand. Now, technically that can be read in an orthodox way - venial sins wound but do not destroy the life of grace in the soul - but it came off as implying that confession isn't that big a deal. Some of the kids even approached us afterward and confided that what Father said didn't sit right with them. Two of the kids were self-described agnostics. Sure enough, one of them went up to receive communion and Father, not knowing her background, gave her the Host. YM was devastated.

We prayed Lauds and Vespers from the Divine Office every day, and the feedback was only positive. The Church's paaaastoral strategy is to water down the faith to the lowest common denominator. My eyes tell me that young people respond well to being challenged. They want to know more about our history and traditions. Afterward during our debriefing over beers and smokes, we commiserated about how it's a struggle to work with the teens when our greatest conflicts usually arise from within the Church itself.

This retreat taught me the necessity of fighting even if it's a losing battle. We're talking about a group of 40-50 teenagers in one parish in what is generally a liberal diocese. What difference can it possibly make in the big picture? One of my fellow core members has worked in sales for 25 years. He's a man of action. He dislikes diagnoses that are unaccompanied by prescriptions. But doing what we do requires both faith and patience. We don't know what these teens will do in the future. It's my hope that they take the initiative in learning and living the faith once they move on from LifeTeen. They may end up converting their parents to a more serious purpose with the Catholic faith.

This is why I've always dismissed the opinion in the manosphere that we ought to enjoy the decline at poolside. It's ultimately rooted in despair. I'm a short term pessimist - both the West in general and the US in particular are continuing their slide into socio-economic collapse - but a long term optimist. At the start of the retreat we all had our pictures taken which were then taped to our own manila envelope up on a bulletin board. The idea was you could write notes to the others to encourage them and offer prayers. The notes in my envelope seriously moved me. The kids expressed their appreciation for all of our efforts and said that we made them want to be better Catholics. There are many objective reasons to be discouraged about the world. But it's worthwhile if you can convince even one person that the glory of the world is fleeting and to focus more on eternity.

Also, the small group of kids I worked with all collaborated on a thank you note for me which included a portrait of your host. Personally, I think it effectively captures the essence of Beefy Levinson.