Larry and Tonto

“This is the part where I disappear into the night.” I said over my shoulder, not intending to be heard.

“What? You don’t want a ride home?”

“No, I’m going somewhere else.” I lied, all but running as I picked up my pace, giving in to an old familiar impulse to flee social awkwardness, and its constant companion, dumb pride. I would navigate the five miles or so home at two am rather than incur a favor and endure a conversation. Have you known the feeling?

I realized I’d probably end up hailing a ride share, and I might even converse with the driver; dreading that wouldn’t even occur to me. So: I was about to pay a stranger, to be a stranger; like the celebrity who said he paid call girls not to come over–that’s not a problem–but to leave after. Needless to say, I’m no celebrity. I’m crazy.

I made for the black shadow of an unlit parking lot across the street to more quickly pass out of view. The vaguely human outline of a pile of rags under which a man crept along turned toward me as I passed. Briefly I saw a glint of eye there. Something shuttled across my path over the black ground, heading for a row of food carts. I relaxed and settled in to my stupid decision.

I’ve always done this sort of thing; the behavior is long set. Diligence is required in resisting it, and I’ve acquired some–or just calmed down with age; it happens more and more rarely, fading out like an echo. Still it strikes with the old vigor sometimes and must be appeased with an occasional indulgence like this, paid like a tribute. My burnt offerings are Saturday nights, blistered feet, relationships.

Sometimes I can only watch with dread as I act–noting it with a weird passivity and alienation, marveling, yet again, at myself: front brain sits on the bow, arms crossed, shaking his head, glaring with familiar resignation at back brain, hand on the tiller and mouth agape in determined oblivion. Still this isn’t what I’ve come to tell you about.

Two blocks on I peeked at the ride sharing app, balked at the cost, saw the wait, pocketed the phone. Waiting twenty minutes in the windswept–it felt like fall already–boredom of the south end of downtown was unappealing; I preferred, if not the human contact at least the presence of the degenerate denizens enlivening the north end. And you never know what you’ll see. Something occurred to me; I patted myself down for a mask. I would need one to ride. That settled it. The nearest 24 hour outpost, a boarded-up fortress of a Chevron station at Burnside, would be my destination.

I turned up Third at Market Street, overtaking and passing wide around a frail figure going my way when he hailed me. I stopped and let him catch up. He was walking as if falling forward on his stiff bowed legs, which seemed to trail behind as they worked, feet splayed, barely bending at the knees, favoring a wasting lower back. He had over his shoulder what looked like a white sheet folded up and fashioned into a pack, tied bindle-style at the corners and hanging from his shoulder over a clump of bags in his hand. Something under the other arm; when he came close I saw a cat peering out through mesh with alert curiosity. At first I wasn’t sure he wasn’t acting a little, as homeless will, when he staggered up with evident exhaustion, and presented himself, stooped at the waist in a perpetual bow.

“Can you help me find this place?” He wheezed. His shaded eyes were barely discernible, like a faint impression left behind on stone, imploring. A narrow face, narrowed further with age, tapered into the point of a wispy beard. He was winded; at points he would draw a deeper breath, groaning a little inhaling and rattling a little exhaling.

“What place?”

His answer was hard to hear.

“I’m not sure it exists. It’s supposed to be somewhere around here,” he rotated his stiff trunk weakly to indicate the surroundings. Seeing he held a scrap of paper:

“Is that the address?”

“Yeah.” He said enthusiastically as I took it from his hand. I squinted in the dark: VA something-or-other scrawled over a legible address. The address was on my way, a good ten blocks.

“Three oh eight first. That’s this way.” I gestured north. “Come on. We’re going this way.”

“What?” He asked.

“Come on. I’ll take you there.” I waved at him a little more emphatically.

He gave a little wheeze of surprise, and fell in.

He said his name was Larry. I don’t remember telling him mine.

“I’m a veteran.” He said. It didn’t occur to me to tell him I was too. Then:

“I’m sixty six years old.”

And a moment later:

“I was a minister.” He said these things with a morbid enthusiasm, offered like credentials in a routine pitch for relief. I didn’t tell him how old I was. He was homeless of course.

I tried picturing the block we were headed for, a distressed nook near a commuter train station and rotten with homeless. I thought as likely as not the place wasn’t there. But, someone had written that address down recently, before sending him on his way–to happen upon me, and here I was, assisting the hand-off. Absently I said:

“I think there’s a Salvation Army there.”

“I was a minister in the Salvation Army” he said with heightened enthusiasm, as if to reiterate what he’d said before. I was now confused and it was hard to hear everything he said, but it sounded as if he was some sort of evangelical minister who spent time working with the Salvation Army. I didn’t take him to be lying. Could it be that he had spent his younger years ministering to the needy and now here he was?

He struggled to keep up and I struggled to go slow. He huffed and wheezed along periodically cursing the effort but each time I offered to stop he insisted we press on, determined, giving out another tepid little curse. I think with his last-hope destination so close and an unlikely guide at hand he wasn’t going to rest until he got there.

“You want me to carry the cat?” I asked.

“Well he’s pretty heavy.” He said, as if to politely decline, but he didn’t resist when I gently lifted it from him. I could feel the outline of the cat through the soft fabric carrier; he was a good twelve pounds or more. The old guy laughed as I tucked him under my arm.

“See?” He said.

He complained things were getting worse on the streets.

“I’m surprised you stopped.” He said. “I can’t get anybody to stop. Not even the cops. They won’t even talk to you!” More grim enthusiasm.

I said something about last year’s riots and reduced police patrols. He didn’t understand me. I made mention again of it, but he still misunderstood; I’m not sure he knows about the riots and the diminishing role of police here.

The cat gave out a plaintive meow.

“I’m trying to position myself so he can see you. as we walk.” I explained.

“That’s not it. He’s just hungry. He won’t stop til he eats.”

By all indications the cat was eating better than he was. Nonetheless he began his own periodic lamentations, miserable little meows.

We arrived where First Avenue ducks under Morrison Bridge, where two rail lines take over the street heading into the MAX station. Car traffic is banished and the street is brick cobblestone; a tent camp, of course, has taken over the sidewalk under the bridge. He hesitated.

“Come on. We’re going up.” I said. He didn’t understand but eagerly followed up the concrete steps leading to a parking lot at Second Avenue. We neared the top when a furtive whisper came:

“Hey, you got a lighter? Got a lighter?”

Turning I squinted through chain-link into the black wedge under the bridge where it made landfall. The voice seemed to be coming from behind a strung-up blue tarp. The old guy got a little spooked, letting out a hollow whine under his breath as I let him pass me to the other side.

“No, I don’t.” I said, after taking a moment to decipher.

An obese rapper wearing a crown, five stories high, bearing an expression intended as pensive, looms over the parking lot. “The King is Back”, declares the billboard promoting his new single available on all platforms, “Bussin’ [shooting] Back”.

“Couple more blocks.” I said.

We turned back to First and I was relieved to find the 300 block accessible. I scanned across the solid old brick building across the street for a number before landing on the sign over the door right in front of me:

VETERANS COMMUNITY RESOURCE AND REFERRAL CENTER

“Here it is.” I said. “Nice.”

“Is it?” He said hopefully.

We crossed the train tracks and he set his bags down in the door’s alcove, expressing gratitude it was empty.

“Where you going to sleep?” I asked stupidly.

“Right here until they open.” He said

“Of course. Well then. Now to find you some water.” He’d been complaining miserably of thirst the whole time, and I’d promised him water.

“Where we going now?” He asked, discouraged, arranging his bags to hoist them back up.

“We’re not going anywhere. You’re going to rest here. I’m going to find you some water. There’s a place nearby.”

He sighed in gratitude, whistling a little. I set down the cat.

The Chevron on Burnside is girded in plywood, like a lot of places have been over the last year, but it’s the regular clientele, not antifa, against which fortifications are sometimes necessary. You can no longer go inside the little store, I think because of Covid. The door has been fashioned into a sort of Dutch door with the glass taken or broken out, and paneling over the bottom half; the attendant sells goods through it when he isn’t pumping gas.

His face is imploding, the homeless man at the window. His forehead tilts down and his chin tilts up, like rock outcroppings being drawn into the sinkhole of his toothless mouth. His mottled skin is dotted with open red sores that match the red around and lining the white of the eyes. His body wobbles one way and his head teeters another, as if having no relation; his collapsing chin bounces back and forth, his face makes little circular motions and his mouth works continually as if he’s in silent conversation.

The words bubble up as if through a viscous fluid, and he’s looking nowhere in particular when he says to the attendant:

“I’d like one of those double breve lattes.”

What? Do they have an espresso machine in there? And he’s ordering one? Now? What in the hell? I nod excuse-me to him, he appears oblivious–his eyes never look at anything–when the attendant lets me go first. The attendant’s facial expression and accent are both indecipherable; he gives me a Cheshire Cat grin when he says he’s out of masks. I think he’s East European.

The old guy didn’t recognize me at first, squinting up at the figure hovering over him.

“Here you go.” I said, opening the liter of water and handing it to him. The cat was out of his bag, a couple of tins laid out for him.

“Oh.” He sounded surprised, recognizing me finally. “Thank you.” He took the bottle in his shaky hand. Turning to the cat and filling one of the tins he said, “and there’s some for you buddy.” I stood there for a moment.

“Well, good luck.” I set out on my second escape of the night.

“Hey, wait a minute.”

I turned around and he was up and coming toward me, walking with a little more vigor and a little more upright, with all the dignity he could muster, his bow legs and skinny arms angling outward as he moved. He brought his hand around wide to shake mine, sharply, like a salute.

“God bless you” we said, and I patted his bony frame as he pulled me close.

I headed back in the direction and Old Town and then Broadway, still not sure how I’d get home. I wended through the tent camps, here an there stirring with life, if just barely, and then over the bridge, the silence occasionally and gently broken by the crashing wave sound of a passing car, and the city twinkling impassively and small behind.

I was well past the bridge when I came upon another service station. Around the corner a homeless camp had made a bonfire in the street. The maskless attendant gave me a pitying look as I approached with my shirt over my face; nobody among the clientele, typically motley, as required of a gas station convenience store at the hour, was wearing one.

“I don’t care if you wear a mask.” He said.

“Where do you keep them? The masks. I need one to get a ride.” I explained, embarassed.

Again the wait for a ride was unappealing, the service station parking lot an ugly drag (a middle-aged black man was fiddling with some sort of antenna mounted on his van while his slatternly white girlfriend brought out an armful of bright shiny food product), and with the perverse exhausted energy released by the evening, I decided to walk a bit more. I wouldn’t walk all the way, I told myself.

That would be stupid. And if I did walk five miles home for no good reason, I sure wouldn’t tell you about it here, now would I?

“You Killed his Fucking Dog?!”

Portland police today reported nine shootings over a 16 hour stretch in Portland’s Wild Wild East

According to the Portland Police Bureau’s Enhanced Community Safety Team, the shootings began just after noon on Tuesday, Aug. 31, and continued through the early morning hours of Wednesday, Sept. 1.

A glimmer of hope there is however; John Wick may have been activated:

On Aug. 31 at 7:40 p.m., officers were dispatched to a shooting in the 1700 Block of Southeast 122nd Avenue, involving an injured dog. Officers located crime scene which consisted of multiple cartridge casings. Officers located an intended victim (not injured) and his service dog, which succumbed to gunfire-related injuries. This investigation has been assigned to ECST. (Case #2021-242798).

Let’s hope his retribution is swift and total.

Postmodern Postmortem

Under a gray sky the vast abandoned parking lot documented the waves of consumers that once sustained the boarded-up department store set back in it like a temple. These ruins of the suddenly but definitively ended pre-woke era made for a locale ideal metaphorically as well as geographically for the Proud Boys’ “Summer of Love” demonstration in Portland last Sunday.

Exposing the division of personality types represented by antifa and patriots (my preferred catch-all phrase for such as the Proud Boys and others who are not white nationalists), the intellectually aspirational anarchists leapt all over the supposed irony of the patriots rallying in the parking lot of a derelict K-Mart, while the patriots, I’m pretty sure, didn’t notice. Reconnoitering the grounds for defense they found no potential irony traps.

Proud Boys place banner in support of January 6 detainees`

It’s too bad for them. Antifa’s standard “losers” take looks a little facile. Addressing the modest ruins about the patriots might have made for a good sobering starting point in a speech building up to an inspiring call to renewal. As it was speakers chose to stress Democrats are the Real Racists and We’re More Diverse Than Antifa and the program, naturally, featured speakers of color. No one seems to be paying attention but the patriots make their point–that they’re hardly fascists–by failing in their argument. Whatever movement they represent, it doesn’t have what used to be called a “political analysis”. What they are at this point is an apolitical resistance to the most political of movements, the radical campaign rapidly remaking America; what they don’t have are friends in any position of power or any level of political sophistication.

But they do have a cause; and somehow a sobering speech by an advocate on behalf of the January 6 political detainees came as a welcome break from the happy talk about the patriots’ diversity and wholly misguided demonization of the anti-white “Democrat Party” as the scourge of minorities.

The antifa/patriot divide often feels like a process sorting inherently political from inherently apolitical people.

Antifa had over a month to prepare for the event, provocatively scheduled for the anniversary of a patriot-black bloc brawl last August 22, and its social media was reaching a fever pitch as the date approached. After the city announced it would not send police in to intervene the anarchists protested a bit too much this refusal of the police to “defend” the city from “attack” by “fascists” (standard narrative humbug) while appearing to very much relish the coming battle.

In relocating ten miles out the patriots calculated correctly that antifa, with their reliance on public transport (while the patriots always caravan in their cars and trucks), wouldn’t be able to move enough bodies to outnumber them at the new location. Only a small intrepid group of antifa showed up late, and was chased off after a failed assault. The rogue group, which acted in defiance of antifa leadership content to stay downtown waiting for patriots to appear and engage there, giving the appearance they are “defending the city” from fascists, gives an after-action report here, arguing they went where the threat was, protecting nearby Parkrose High School, the “most diverse” in the state. From wilding fascist brownshirts. On Sunday. During summer vacation.

The meaningful level of organization for Portland anarchists seems to be the informal small crew of under ten; the above-mentioned “report back” from “several” crews making up “about two dozen people” explains their heavily criticized attack on the patriots:

We arrived at the waterfront a little before 1 PM. We had agreed to talk to other crews on the ground to reach consensus about going to meet up in Parkrose to oppose the fascist rally there.
Parkrose is a working-class neighborhood that’s home to many immigrants and people of color. The white nationalist rally was planned just blocks away from Parkrose High School, the most racially diverse high school in Oregon, and there are multiple large homeless camps in the immediate area. We stand by the old Anti-Racist Action mantra that “we go where they go”. We will never let fascists rally in our city unopposed.

Parkrose ranks seventh in violent crime among Portland’s ninety neighborhoods, and appears to be well-armed. The Proud Boys might need protection themselves, if the anarchists’ characterization of their rallies was true–the notion the patriots rally and then sate themselves attacking their hated targets around town is pure projection, and an accurate description of black bloc tactics. As for the targets the patriots have never attacked homeless or black people, yet antifa treats it as a given. Still, the patriots can be counted on to push their provocation, and I thought they might attempt a car caravan through the city but that never happened.

The notion the patriots represent a threat to anyone other than antifa is laughed off even in antifa circles now (where the frenzy of anticipation before Sunday has given way to a frenzy of recrimination this week):

This same anarchist-friendly Twitter account just said what I’ve been saying for years:

Well, yes and no. Portland doesn’t have a “far right problem”–it has a “far right” grift perpetuated by antifa. If antifa ignored the patriots so too would the city, and they would have had their meaningless flag waves and “back the blue” demonstrations and gone home. Whatever patriot intentions, they haven’t the option antifa has established, the implied sanction from the city to engage in some level of violence and encroach on the state’s monopoly. The patriots have been deliberately provoking antifa into repeatedly attacking them for years now, having begun with the ascent of Trump. When they started they could be forgiven for thinking fairness will out and their exposure of antifa would lead to its demise. Obviously the rules have changed, but the patriots should have succeeded and a sane country would have been appalled by the dynamic, played out repeatedly and reaching the intensity of last Sunday, of anarchists attacking what are in fact “peaceful demonstrations”.

The patriots are a useful compliment and foil for the anarchists; they just energized them immensely this weekend after a summer of quiet. The patriots’ scuffling with the anarchists exposes the patriots to selective prosecution as well, by a federal government faking a “right wing domestic terror threat”; that false narrative is supported in turn by its own questionable prosecutions and the domestic terror lie generally is supported by the raw image the patriots provide and a biased media molds into a useful caricature. I suspect antifa can’t help but hate the patriots, but the patriots have been very good for antifa–and for state actors pushing “domestic terrorism”. Again, antifa doth counter-protest too much.

In their encounters the two sides have the same two goals: to win the fight and to be seen as acting in defense. The latter is far more important to antifa than the former, and they’re able to maintain the fiction they’re playing defense against right wing aggression just enough with the help of a friendly media. But they’ve been pushing this evident absurdity so long even some anarchists are exhausted of carrying it.

On arrival at the patriot rally I found leader and street fighter Tiny Toese holding court from a flat bed trailer carrying a holiday-sized US flag mounted on a wood frame. Rumor was antifa had offered a bounty for the flag; fortunately for the patriots the wind didn’t pick up too much–a few gusts revealed the potential for disaster making antifa’s bounty unnecessary. A diminutive Statue of Liberty raised her lantern at one end of the stage. Tiny towered over what he at one point called “my girlfriend”. It wasn’t quite dwarves capering about a miniature Stonehenge, but that came to mind.

The ground was well chosen for defense, and about half of the crowd of little more than a hundred looked to be committed to security, with many Proud Boys in original black and yellow garb on the scene, patrolling and constantly eyeing the perimeter. Walking about unmasked in non-committal civilian clothes I drew a few stares but for the most part I felt nicely invisible.

The mood at the rally was of a tense party; beers were passed around and a keg was quickly emptied. Celebration of the sensible choice to relocate the rally competed with bravado at the prospect of an antifa assault, and less than a dozen counter-demonstrators on a sidewalk well away from the rally were harassed verbally by patriots in tense encounters that spilled into the street. Toese at one point came out and urged the growing patriot crowd there back toward the stage–the potential disaster was also drawing energy from the flagging demonstration.

A local man and political activist who identifies as clergy inserted himself and his minivan, appropriately white to convey woke purity, into the scene briefly. Reportedly later the patriots shot him with paint balls in the mayhem.

Thinking the rally would end without incident I left Parkrose for downtown around four in the afternoon, only to later learn of the ill-advised antifa assault. That bold Doolittle-esque raid failed on the two vital counts–antifa lost the fight, and in the role of aggressor. In the mayhem antifa stripped a liberal reporter (and technically a “woman of color”) of her camera, knocked her to the ground and pepper sprayed or maced her, while calling her a slut (in, I think, Hindi because of her ancestry).

Maranie Rae works for Matt Taibbi’s substack outlet and has given antifa favorable coverage, even writing an homage to the Floyd riot season celebrity Trumpet Man (who vanished from the scene at one point; I’m sure I last saw on video brandishing a knife and bouncing on his heels backward of of CHAZ, with ghetto youths in furious pursuit).  Taibbi wrote what passes for a scathing rebuke of antifa and its media enablers, which is being ignored. It’s really kind of tepid considering the outrage (which is very much of a long time practice of assaulting journalists); no vivid vampire squid metaphors to describe what’s happening, no letting go, yet, of the handrail of anti-racism.

The mass of black around Salmon Springs Fountain at the downtown waterfront was visible from a good distance; notable also was the quarter mile or so of chain-link fence running north between the riverfront lawn and Naito Parkway, where the street is being replaced whole in sections. To cross Naito to get to the riverfront you must weave your way through the poured-in-place concrete around the trenches where the road is to go; painfully sharp looking is the corner between what will be the visible gutter and the part due to be submerged beneath the street. A large brawl migrating north from the open park at the fountain would be confined to the relatively narrow grass lawn (rotten with goose droppings) between the street construction on one side and the railing over the steep drop into the river on the other.

I approached the gathering from the south along the riverfront walk. Graffiti marking antifa territory and warning away fascists seemed to cover as much available space as not. Antifa in small groups were stationed about the perimeter as per usual keeping watch. Making a pass through the gathering (I didn’t dare record) was very different from moving through the patriot rally, of course, and drawing the stares of people masked in black bloc has an added unsettling effect in that they’re indistinguishable and you can’t actually see their eyes often. Still, I was clearly an outsider and able to walk through unmolested.

A sound speaker was set up but there seemed to be no formal demonstration going on; a brother with a ghetto accent had taken the microphone–I couldn’t see him in the mass of black–to demand the return of an alleged lost item; “yo this is real shit here yo” or something he said in what sounded like a taunting tone; I’m not sure he wasn’t trolling antifa, who milled about, listless and tense. At the disabled intersection of Salmon and Naito Parkway Plexiglas shields were laid out rows forming a box; antifa was in the same tense defensive posture in which I’d left the patriots.

Kill lists, not for “Atomwaffen”
“We are all” antifascist
How to disable the knee of those who won’t bend the knee
161 stands for AFA, Antifascist Action
Death to the apostrophe as well

And for a second time Sunday I left before the action occurred; a gunfight happened downtown later in the day; it sounds like armed anarchists chased a suspected right winger they saw taking photos, who then took cover and fired a single shot. Antifa fired back. The suspected patriot was taken into custody; antifa vanished from the scene safely and have launched the rumor they’d been protecting black youths from assault by the man.

Antifa-allied media is feeding this back into the Narrate-o-Matic to come out as outrageous police inaction–no time to point out, and no point in pointing out, the absurdity of police abolitionists doing this, but the conscious overriding goal always at work now is to implicate police in the “right wing violence” of the “fascist” patriots when they protect them from antifa attack or, as now, when police stand down completely–citing, with some justice, new restrictions limiting riot control measures passed by the state legislature last year to protect BLM and antifa; these rules lay like intentionally laid traps now for the police, which is probably a fair description. The season of anarchist rioting did not materialize this summer–and we don’t know how fortunate we are, to not have been submitted to a repeat of last summer with the police’s hands tied, unable to even deploy tear gas.

The end goal of the abolitionists is to take police out of the business of street crime and into the business of political repression of patriotic resistance–not your local cops, who ideally will be disbanded and replaced by wokesters, but feds; the FBI is stepping eagerly into the role–as it must be whenever a new cause presents a government agency with a whole new area of power and funding. Maybe they even believe it, like CIA analysts imagining the creaky old Soviet Union a robust power, up to the point it fell apart as if overnight (like us now, maybe). Here’s the self-satirizing Establishment organ The Intercept twisting itself into knots to paint by the dots:

The absence of the police, in line with a policy on nonintervention announced beforehand by Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell, reinforced a sense among anti-fascists that they were on their own. So when a right-wing gunman fired in the direction of black-clad protesters who had chased him away from their protest at gunpoint, it was shocking but perhaps not surprising that one of the anti-fascists fired back, according to witnesses.

Despite the anarchist camps’ best efforts, it seems the patriots won the day.

Is the day worth it?

Portghanistan

As far as I can tell the road to the airport is open here in Portland, just the usual traffic, and of course the internet and broadcast media are up for the moment. Nonetheless progressive Portland breathlessly awaits an invasion tomorrow by religious fundamentalists hellbent on taking the country back to the Dark Ages. Patriot Prayer, the Vancouver Washington based “far right” group created to join the street battles that began in 2016 with Trump’s campaign, has scheduled a rally for tomorrow, August 22, anniversary of their brawl on the streets of downtown Portland last year with anarchists. Police did not intervene then and police chief Chuck Lovell has announced they won’t involve themselves this time either.

Anticipatory agitation has reached a fever pitch in the fever swamp that is anarchist social media, where competition to be the bravest and wokest whips the horses of passion onward. It’s ironic, but the behavior of the anarchist hive resembles, I think, the behavior of an isolated madman with nothing to check his self-reinforcing paranoid and grandiose delusions. No discordant or hesitant voices to serve as a conscience.

The event location has been changed and Patriot Prayer says they’ll announce the new location Sunday morning. Meanwhile the antifa counter rallies are already scheduled. No one has permits, which have become a relic of our more orderly recent past.

This interfaith group seems dominated by a particular faith

Mayor Ted Wheeler and some black clergy organized a “Choose Love” event live-streamed out of a local pub yesterday.  His admonition to refrain from violence against the Patriot group was muted into oblivion by the necessary self-preservative signaling about the utter moral repugnance with which he views the supposed Nazis; all with barely a glance toward the active element that is antifa violence. 

It was all steep downhill from this tepid call, with representatives of various progressive interests lining up to denounce the “white supremacy” and “white nationalism” of the worthless, no good, dangerous fascists, the profound threat they represent and the bravery of those who “protect” the city from them, with an unenthusiastic pitch for peace, maybe.  At points it felt like Marc Antony’s funeral oration in Julius Caesar.  The speakers did manage to advance their individual ambitions; Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, second-generation Oregon power broker and probable candidate for governor, basically made a red-meat stump speech for the woke, and specifically asserted the speech of the rightwingers is not “equivalent” to the speech of, say, police abolitionists and anarchists. Notably Multnomah County District Attorney of the Soros class, a positive ally of the anarchist movement, Mike Schmidt, gave brief and general remarks. I suspect his restraint results from anticipation he may have to file or not file charges as a result of tomorrow’s expected battle, and any assertive and definitive statements will only contribute to any controversy surrounding those actions.

The event could still be cancelled of course.  I’ll be out there to document it as best as I can.  There’s my footage from last year’s dust-up below.  The rightwingers in fact lost the optics battle then, as their exit from downtown resembled a retreat under fire.

Alas, there is no flight of refugees out of town.  Looks like I’ll be waiting a little longer for the real estate market to crater.

e co

Invade, Abandon, Invite

A palpable arousal has overtaken the refugee resettlement community in Portland, as they gear up to receive an influx of Afghan refugees

For Oregon organizations that contract with the federal government to help refugees resettle in the US, the sobering headlines meant an immediate shift in workload.

“The pace of what happened—I can’t wrap my head around it,” said Matthew Westerbeck, director of refugee services for Catholic Charities. “We are all ramping up as fast as we can to prepare. We’re about to see an influx of refugee families in a way we haven’t seen in this country for years.”

Catholic Charities is one of three Oregon agencies that receives funding from the federal government to support refugees seeking to resettle in the US. That work ranges from securing affordable housing for refugee families to connecting refugees with new employers to making sure refugee children feel comfortable at school. With thousands of Afghans fleeing Afghanistan out of fear of its new extremist leadership, these agencies have been told to prepare for an avalanche of newcomers seeking a new community to call home.

Donald Trump did manage sensible immigration and refugee policies, slashing the number refugee numbers and putting a lot of the resettlement grifters out of work.  Alas, just about everything good Trump managed was through executive action, and was immediately undone with the arrival of Biden.

It doesn’t help that refugee resettlement agencies like LCSN and Catholic Charities are emerging from a period of record divestment in their work by the federal government. The Trump administration’s strict limits on the number of refugees allowed into the US left resettlement agencies with little funding and stability to support the coming surge in refugees.

Westerbeck said that in 2016, Catholic Charities helped resettle 589 refugees across Oregon. In 2020, that number had dropped to 66.

The resettlement programs have received extra support from the Oregon government over the past several years to make up for the federal gap. But it’s still left the programs largely unprepared for the expected capacity need.

To ramp back up for the expected surge in Afghan refugees, Westerbeck said his organization will be seeking donations—to cover newcomers’ rent and utility bills—and volunteers—to serve as “cultural navigators” for refugees who need guidance navigating their new environment, to help furnish new apartments, and to greet refugees at the airport. He’s also seeking landlords who are willing to offer affordable rentals to refugees or employers who may be open to hiring the newcomers.

Westerbeck, who began at Catholic Charities as a volunteer, said he has faith that the Portland community will step up to support the new refugee residents. It’s lightened the heaviness of the past week’s headlines [I’m sure it did]…

Brown responded with strong support, pledging to urge the White House to expedite refugee relocation and increase the country’s cap on the number of refugees it accepts annually. The current refugee cap was set at 62,500 per year by President Joe Biden in May. Trump had set the yearly cap at 15,000.

If the US takes in something like 30,000 Afghan refugees mostly selected from the collaborator class I don’t expect we’ll have the sort of problems Europe has had with its Afghan refugees who, like those from the Muslim world generally, come from the young, male and troublesome part of the population; but it’s worth noting again the Europe “rape gang” phenomenon (not to be confused with another Pashtun-in-the-West phenomenon, grooming gangs) is overwhelmingly an Afghan thing:

But there was one development [following Merkel’s “refugee” influx of 2012] that had not been expected, and was not tolerable: the large and growing incidence of sexual assaults committed by refugees against local women. These were not of the cultural-misunderstanding-date-rape sort, but were vicious, no-preamble attacks on random girls and women, often committed by gangs or packs of young men. At first, the incidents were downplayed or hushed up—no one wanted to provide the right wing with fodder for nationalist agitation, and the hope was that these were isolated instances caused by a small problem group of outliers. As the incidents increased, and because many of them took place in public or because the public became involved either in stopping the attack or in aiding the victim afterwards, and because the courts began issuing sentences as the cases came to trial, the matter could no longer be swept under the carpet of political correctness. And with the official acknowledgment and public reporting, a weird and puzzling footnote emerged. Most of the assaults were being committed by refugees of one particular nationality: by Afghans.

Our Afghans won’t be that bad because they won’t be selected from anyone who can make the walk. Likewise our Muslims, who I’ve always found amiable enough, and their womens’ modesty admirable. Of course, they’ve also produced such as Ilahn Omar and Rashida Tlaib. The demagogues are inevitable now regardless of the source population, but the well-behaved aspect of our non-African Muslims may change as Biden flings the border open further and the group is no longer selected for better traits. Europe absorbs the Muslim equivalent of our southern traffic from Latin America; God bless our relatively placid Mexicans. As somebody once quipped, we had the good sense not to locate our county north of the MIddle East. The powers-that-be are seeking to right that unfortunate oversight..

Anyway, welcome, Afghan newcomers. You may find you feel right at home here.

And Never the Twain Shall Bro

Wherein our hero falters and redeems himself…

Nicholas Taleb writes about risk in investing and in general, and burst onto the scene with his widely praised The Black Swan. For those of use who may have read The Black Swan and then got on with our lives, his real vocation is now Being Nicholas Taleb, contrarian tough-guy who can’t expound long without mentioning deadlifting or beating up someone from the vast, decadent class of non-deadlifting humanity.

He’s been a sensible critic of US foreign interventions but as a “Greco Levantine” Christian whose influential family was impoverished by the Lebanese civil war, he’s no fan of such as the Taliban. So when he encountered Taliban encountering, maybe for their first time, gym equipment in their new digs (courtesy of the US taxpayer, natch) he delivered what Steve Sailer called “the most on-brand response” to their triumph:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

So, rousing myself this morning to post what I’d been thinking in the back of my mind about this curious spectacle (Taleb, not Taliban) since I saw it, I went to Mr Taleb’s Twitter and found this:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Which is pretty much exactly what I’d been thinking.  Taleb’s first response (if he wasn’t being facetious) represented Western delusion coming up against reality–delivered by the “Medieval” Taliban out of the “seventh” (or is it “eighth”?) century–that never went away.  America has made fetishes of muscles and military might, in film endowing special forces with mythical powers of physical capability, where they’re played by absurd comic-book caricatures like the Rock and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The pro-military genre (which is probably now a thing of the non-woke past) post-Rambo not only presents a wholly false impression, it likely has helped degrade the elite forces it’s romanticized–dropping the great magnetic lure of Hollywood before them.

Our servicemen have been holding at bay those scrawny Taliban only by virtue of technology, as one of them will no doubt tell you.  The Taliban have been doing very little but waiting for about a decade.  So it isn’t as if our defeat in Afghanistan was military–it was entirely moral.  For twenty years we provided the Western model, wealth and liberty and gym equipment and it dissolved the moment the powerful hand of technological superiority was removed.  But the curious thing is we deploy battalions of physical specimens, who shelter behind walls and call in air power whenever a fair fight presents itself–with their skinny, sandal-clad enemy.

I’m entirely serious when I say the Taliban should do to the gym equipment they find what they did to those Buddhist statues, blow it up with ceremony, for therein, like many of the temptations we’ll have left behind, lurks their doom, just waiting to be released by their vanity. You want to defeat the Taliban? Get them lifting, bro. They’ll be posting shirtless selfies and obsessing over their diet in no time.

Congratulations on your victory and may peace finally prevail in your country. I’m an unlikely ally, but trust me, you students of Islam, you don’t even want to get started with this shit. Shut it Down, as the meme goes.
Here’s a little inspiration:



Zabriske Point, Michelangelo Antonioni, 1970

Mirabile Dindu

Repeating myself from a couple of posts ago, it’s a cliche but the decidedly anti-religious secular order of the present feels very much like religion. It has its own fantastic mythology, its own miracles, its own faith as bulwark against undermining by reason or empiricism. It works as a received religion, despite confusing its apologetics, critical race theory, with science.

Equity is the revelation, and I find it no less miraculous than the Resurrection, not that it need be. In for a penny in for a pound once you’ve crossed that empirical and logical Rubicon, and a belief in the equality of races and the mutability of sex is a far more disastrous belief than in, say, a one-off miracle about an immaculate conception, the revelation of which is God Loves You, Be Decent. No, believing in this suppressed kingdom of God called Equity requires, as you see, the very destruction of decency and the perpetual self-abasement of an un-elect, us. Original sin with no path of redemption–redemption is heresy. The cult of equity proceeds like a black mass mimicking Christianity in the negative. Western man’s boundless need to affirm his moral worth is thus weaponized against him.

Genuine religious miracles are presented as exceptions to the laws of nature–this is what makes a miracle. Equity’s miracle is not nature defied but re-conceived. The miracle the woke must believe in is present and ongoing, everywhere at once, in defiance of reality. The genuine miracle pays tribute to the laws of nature–to science; the postmodern miracle of equity robs it daily.

Wokism commands the heights of power that Christianity in the West relinquished hundreds of years ago; arguably its control is greater than the Catholic Church at its height in Europe. At the same time the new dispensation proceeds with the vigor of a young religion that no mature religion can produce. No power is greater than a credulous mass, and the woke, with comic obliviousness, credit a wholly un-scientific tradition replete with its own fantastic mythology. And while believing in the Resurrection might sound “crazier” than believing Caitlin Jenner is a woman, somehow, it’s the latter that will wreck your society. I’m a religious skeptic but I acknowledge the Resurrection could have happened. Caitlin Jenner is right before me, and I need not look under “her” skirt to say definitely no, not a woman.

The notion Caitlin Jenner is a woman is recurring fact, not an isolated event obscure in the past; you must express belief in the miracle of Caitlin every day–and are encouraged to celebrate in ritual. You must believe this along with an ever-expanding host of things, even things, not to wax hyperbolic, but it’s true, that could get you killed. You must repress, as vigorously as anyone was encouraged in sexual repression, both your disgust and rational fear.

In the new arrangement Jesus doesn’t walk on water but you’re expected to.

Sunday Sermon: For Shame

It’s a cliché but the West’s secular post-religious dispensation feels very religious. Its values are opposed to the religion it displaced (despite it wearing the language of routed Christian morality like a skin suit) and the successful campaign against Western decency advanced a good deal on a Jewish critique of Christian shame as unnatural, taught to oppress and indulged out of inferiority, producing both psychological dysfunction and political repression. The American boomer was subjected to a lifetime of this conditioning. Here a film pilloried the Catholic Church, there one sent up the evangelicals; in the classic Carrie sexual shame produces supernatural retribution.

My impression is a psychotherapy-inspired theme critiquing shame as such rose with sixties counterculture and waned along with the sexual shame that was its central target. Shame made you sick, shame made you a bigot, shame kills they all but said once. Needless to say we, under the new regime, are inundated with shame. I would say shame has made a comeback but it never really went away. Shame is ubiquitous; the whole of woke ideology and practice is shaming, much of it a comic mirror-image of the old realm of the shameful: being a slut, or being obese are no longer shameful, but to find them shameful most certainly is. The grandchildren of the sexual revolution are very much into shame. But not all shame is equal.

Shame is currency in the political economy, sluicing through well-worn channels and trading on its own exchange market. Shame resembles a twisted financialization scheme, a negative asset shorting white America that doesn’t earn if it’s not churned. In the scramble for position, in the flight from white identity, even in the scrum for spoils among the non-whites, at the cesspools of “intersectionality”, the mantra is shame for thee but not for me.

The discrediting of shame (call it shame-shaming) has served its purpose, but shame remains, and it remains very useful. It’s as if there’s a more or less constant amount of shame in the collective Western breast, and it’s just a question of directing it. And now it’s directed in countless directions. Infinitely more and infinitely less free we are in this new arrangement. But the sexual revolution was a gambit, taken for a bargain: for our freedom we offered up sexual shame, thinking we didn’t need it, thinking the other guy was the sucker. And we got a palmful of magic beans for our patrimony. Sexual liberation is Western man’s mess of pottage.

So while the gaslit modern takes his sexual license for granted, as the natural order of things, the way his grandparents took sexual morality for granted, he takes for granted the new and multiplying restrictions. His shame, now conditioned to fix on other things, he doesn’t really question; society’s writ is the word of God, especially in a Godless world. Respite from the shaming grows more precious. The few lights on the plain, where dissidents collect to speak the truth under their breath, go out gradually one by one. The new religion does not endure village atheists.