The curse of social media is that people are the same online as they are in person.

When it comes to serious discussion or even argument, we all know the childish people whom we long since gave up on. They’re the ones who, when you’re having a conversation, will say, “So you say, but where’s your evidence?”

In vain do you point out the fact that you’re in a restaurant or walking in the park, not in a serious research library. With such people, it is useless to say, “I know what I know because of a lifetime of experience, study and paying attention. How can I possibly find the sources?”

It is pointless to say, “But you have no evidence either. If it’s so easy to come up with evidence, why are you demanding it from me, but providing none yourself.”

You’ll get the same childish answers as always: “So you can’t prove it! Aha! Gotcha!”

This goes on all the time on Facebook and elsewhere, and I’ve learned – and have to keep relearning – that the moment somebody plays the “prove it” card, the discussion is over.

It’s like the brainwashed Left, the ones so lost to reason and reality that they don’t think Hillary’s criminal acts have been “proven” yet. Really? The FBI director says, under oath, that Hillary denied doing this, that and the other criminal act, and then, when asked, “Was that statement true?” says, “No.” Yes, he declined to prosecute, for reasons unrelated to the strength of the case. He has no doubt that she performed the illegal acts and repeatedly lied about it.

But to a Leftist automaton, that is not evidence. Nor is the fact that there is no explanation for Hillary’s cattle futures windfall from before her White House days except corruption and collusion. That’s not proof! they retort.

That’s because, for somebody determined not to even consider changing their mind, proof is an infinitely receding target. They accept any proof of wrongdoing by the opponent – and in the case of Trump, he keeps demonstrating his flaws over and over. But no proof of malfeasance by the Leftist candidate will do.

Same thing goes in the other direction. I have been stunned by good friends, who I thought had a strong moral compass, who actually think that it’s a complete answer to Trump’s appalling remarks (and confessions) about his attitude and actions toward women to say, “He only said what Bill Clinton actually did.”

Really? You’re now saying that Bill Clinton’s behavior was so acceptable that it provides a complete cover for Trump?

Even worse are the men who say, “That’s just locker room talk. All men talk like that.”

No. Not all men talk like that. In fact, no man that I know personally ever talks that way, because I associate with men who respect and love their wives, their mothers, their sisters, their daughters; they would be ashamed to have those thoughts, let alone speak them aloud to another person.

You can go through your whole life as a male and never think of women as possessions, as objects, as things to be owned and used and abused as you see fit. In fact, civilized men do go through their whole life without ever speaking of, let alone treating, women in such negative ways. Men who do think and speak of women that way are barbarians.

I take that back. Barbarians deserve a better reputation than that.

They’re not barbarians, they’re chimpanzees. Admittedly, chimps can’t talk; but they do treat females as objects. It’s built into the chimpanzee genes.

We share most of our genetic code with the chimps, and there are men – like Bill Clinton and Donald Trump – who spend their lives as chimpanzees in bespoke suits. Nice suit. Still a chimp.

Bill Clinton’s behavior was inexcusable. We all knew it then (except for Leftists, who never saw any “proof”), and despised how his defenders said outrageous lies like, “Everybody lies about sex.” No they don’t. Most people live their lives so that there’s nothing to lie about. They merely refuse to talk about private things.

That’s really different from a sitting president who perjures himself in order to conceal a pattern of behavior that might help make the case of a woman suing him because of his inappropriate sexual behavior. But over and over, we were told, “Everybody lies about sex,” as if that were the end of the discussion.

Now the extreme Trumpicles are making the exact same argument: “Men all talk like that.” It’s exactly the same lie as “Everybody lies about sex.”

Even if everybody you know personally does lie about sex, or speak despicably about women when in the company of other men, that is not an excuse.

We expect, or at least should expect, our president to meet a higher standard of behavior. The press understood it, back when they all knew about John F. Kennedy’s constant philandering, but withheld that information because if the public knew, he couldn’t have been elected president. (That’s one of the main ways the Leftist media manipulate us – by declaring information harmful to the Leftist candidate or officeholder to be “not a story” or “old news.”)

A few nights ago, on one of those Johnny Carson reruns, I happened to see his last hour-and-a-half show, before they changed to one hour in September 1980. By coincidence, in that monologue he told a joke about a guy who was walking along the street and suddenly a mugger put a gun to his head and said, “Right now! Tell me! Carter or Reagan!”

The man thinks for a second, then says, “Go ahead. Pull the trigger.”

In the real world of 1980, that was a joke, because we knew then – or know now, at least – that both Carter and Reagan were not disastrous as president – at least nowhere near as disastrous as their enemies claimed they had been or would be. They were both honorable men, and they both were conscientious in trying to use the resources of their office to do what was best for America and the world at large.

But now we’re faced with two utterly selfish candidates who have shown that they will lie and cheat constantly when they think it’s to their own advantage. They are, to use M. Scott Peck’s phrase, “People of the lie.” They are both terrifying. There are times when I agree with that guy who said “go ahead and shoot.”

Do you understand, as you decide how to vote, that we do not cast negative votes? You can’t vote “against Hillary” or “against Trump.”

When I suggest a third-party candidate, I’m constantly met with, “If you don’t vote for Trump, you’re throwing away your vote. A vote for anybody but Trump is a vote for Hillary.”

They hold up the specter of Hillary reconstituting the Supreme Court for decades to come. Of Hillary further weakening our already crippled (by Obama) national defense and foreign policy. And those dangers are real!

But they leave out the fact that Trump is incapable of sitting still long enough to learn anything. He pretends that he’ll listen to advisers, but then makes his foreign policy declarations by consulting only with his ridiculously ignorant self. In the last debate he openly repudiated his much-better-prepared running mate on matters vital to the national interest of the United States. He shoots off his mouth constantly, which will make it impossible for real diplomats to carry out their mission.

If the commander in chief is a fool, and a bragging, boastful, arrogant fool at that, our country is in no less danger than when the commander in chief hates the military and intends to downgrade it until we can’t defend Manhattan, let alone our vital interests abroad.

We have never been in such a Heads We Lose, Tails We Lose election before. Donald Trump really is – demonstrably – exactly what the Left claimed (falsely) Goldwater and Reagan to be.

More importantly, Trump has proven over and over again in his business and personal life that his promises mean nothing to him. Getting a promise from him is identical to Neville Chamberlain getting promises from Hitler at Munich. So no, I don’t expect him to protect the Supreme Court or anything because this is a man who won’t even pay his bills. His word is worthless.

Trump has never successfully managed anything. He’s a promoter. A salesman. When management is involved, when it is essential that he pay attention, he leaves the room.

Anyone who thinks they can choose between Hillary and Trump and thereby achieve an improvement is crazy. The only meaningful “bet” on this hideous horserace is: Which one is in the worst health, and is therefore likeliest to die of old age or “pneumonia” while in office? As ghoulish as that sounds, at least we would get a better president that way than by voting for either of the present candidates.

A vote for Trump is not a vote “against Hillary.” A vote for Trump is a vote for Trump. A vote for Hillary is not “against Trump.” A vote for Hillary is a vote for Hillary.

Whichever one wins, do you think he or she will modestly say, “I realize that many who voted for me really just hated my opponent a little bit more than they hated me, so I will consult with Congress and the states and try to govern in a way that will please most citizens and make America a better place”?

Of course not. They already have their list of enemies – immigrants on one hand, deplorables on the other – who will get no hearing if that candidate wins. Obama, remember, was not elected as the most extreme Leftist ever to run for the office. He was elected on a platform of “hope and change.” But the moment he was in office, his Leftist agenda was absolutely going to be pursued, and if anybody didn’t like it, he told them, “Elections have consequences.”

America will get no benefit from electing either the criminal or the clown if they get even close to half the votes, because, narcissists that they are, they will claim a “mandate” for their insane anti-American agendas. (America still is great. You can’t make what is already great, “great again.” Both candidates will make it worse – for some, then eventually all, of America’s people.)

I admit that it’s highly unlikely that any third-party candidate will actually win – though it’s not impossible. However, what third-party candidates can do is deny any kind of mandate to the winner. Even if the narcissists in question lie to themselves and us and claim that all the third-party votes should be counted in with their total to show the real support for their vision of America, Congress and the bureaucracy and the state governments will know the truth:

The larger the third-party vote, the larger the number of people who reject both leading candidates.

Let’s just look at the presidential elections since the Republicans took over the other half of the two-party system in 1856.

In 1856, ex-president Millard Fillmore got eight electoral votes as a third-party candidate, and 21 percent of the popular vote.

In 1860, the Democratic Party split, so that two offshoot candidates, John C. Breckinridge and John Bell came in second and third respectively, with Democrat Stephen Douglas coming in fourth. Breckinridge got 72 electoral votes and Bell 39, and between them they came close to a third of the popular vote. Abraham Lincoln, who won, did not imagine that he had some great mandate from the American people. He had to govern very carefully while conducting a civil war.

In 1892, Populist James B. Weaver got 22 electoral votes despite only polling less than 10 percent of the popular vote. (Starting in 1896, the Populist platform was essentially coopted by the Democratic Party, leading them to lose every presidential election until:)

In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt split the Republican Party, coming in second and leaving Taft, the Republican nominee, to come in third. Teddy got 88 electoral votes, and racist Democrat Woodrow Wilson ended up in the White House. Socialist Eugene Debs also got about 6 percent of the popular vote to Roosevelt’s 27 percent, meaning that fully a third of the voters chose someone other than the two major-party candidates.

In 1924, Progressive Robert LaFollette got 16 percent of the popular vote and 13 electoral votes.

In 1948, the segregationist States’ Rights Party, headed by Strom Thurmond, got 39 electoral votes out of the “solid South” – but Truman won anyway. This despite the fact that it was believed that no Democrat could win without that thitherto reliable Democratic bloc of Southern states.

In 1968, George Wallace and his American Independent Party, arguably the stepchild of the States’ Rights Party, got nearly 14 percent of the popular vote and carried 46 electoral votes, again from the “solid South.”

Everyone thought that a vote for Wallace was a vote against Nixon, because they assumed he would attract conservative voters only. Instead, post-election polls showed that he stripped away a large number of working-class voters in the industrial states, hurting Humphrey much more. When people tell you that a vote “for” a third-party candidate really amounts to a vote “for” a particularly repugnant major-party alternative, point to the election of 1968, when everybody was wrong.

In 1980, John Anderson got a mere 6 percent of the popular vote and carried no states.

In 1992, Ross Perot got almost 19 percent of the popular vote and carried no states; in 1996, he won about half that popular vote. People say he “stole” votes from Bush 41 in the same way that people “blame” Ralph Nader for “stealing” votes from Al Gore in 2000.

But all these guesses about what would have happened are probably wrong or at least unsustainable, because we can’t know how many of those people might have abstained from voting if they hadn’t had a third-party candidate who aroused their enthusiasm.

For all we know, third-party candidates bring disgusted voters to the polls who would otherwise have stayed home.

What about this year? If you actually believe global warming is caused by humans and poses the worst threat to our planet, by all means vote for the Green Party candidate.

In every state, people have the ballot choice of voting for the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson.

But in 34 states, the best candidate by far, Evan McMullin, is either on the ballot or, if you write in his name, the vote will be counted.

Write-ins are usually not counted – and definitely not in North Carolina, where the threshold for getting on the ballot even as a write-in is ridiculously high. But Evan McMullin’s people have done an extraordinary job of fighting to make him an electoral possibility in two-thirds of the states. {}

In those 34 states, voters have the option of voting for a man who is actually prepared to be president. Unlike any of the others, he actually understands America’s position in the world and what our vital interests are. He isn’t interested in “sticking it to” any portion of our population; he seeks intelligent compromises that most people could live with.

In other words, McMullin wants to be president of the United States, not president of the non-deplorables or the people-not-descended-from-immigrants.

He can sit across the table, literally or figuratively, from other heads of state from around the world and not embarrass us. Instead, he can conduct our foreign policy in a way that makes everybody safer.

If the electoral vote is close, and any third-party candidate picks up a few states, the election might be thrown into the House of Representatives, where I believe it is extremely unlikely that the present House would go for Trump – especially after he proved himself not to be a “winner.” It might be McMullin; it might be former Republican Gary Johnson.

But in all likelihood, Hillarump will carry the Electoral College no matter what.

Trump’s candidacy has delegitimized the Republican Party, in my opinion. Any party that would nominate an ignorant, narcissistic, dishonest self-promoter like Trump does not deserve to be taken seriously again.

I see Evan McMullin’s candidacy as a genuine grass-roots movement that can take the Republican Party’s place, not as the rigidly doctrinaire party of Sean Hannity, or the xenophobic party of Donald Trump, but as the voice of moderate-to-conservative Americans who want good government that mostly stays out of their business while protecting all their constitutional rights, not just the ones invented by the courts.

That’s why, after all the responsible Republican candidates fell before the onslaught of Trumpery, my political donations have gone only to Evan McMullin (and a few beleaguered senators). Because a respectable third-party showing will send a powerful message and it will be heard.

Either the Republican Party will realign itself to invite a much broader spectrum of Americans within its tent, or it will die. I personally don’t care which.

I believe that voting for Hillarump will mean throwing away my vote, because if you knowingly vote for garbage, your vote is garbage.

I hold my right to vote as a sacred responsibility, and I will only cast my vote for the best available candidate, if any candidate meets minimum standards of decency.

If McMullin (and Gary Johnson) were not available to vote for, I’d have to skip the presidential portion of the ballot and vote only for state and local offices.

If I lived in one of the 34 states where McMullin can be voted for, then I would proudly cast my vote for him.

I live in a state with absurdly difficult rules for getting on the ballot, so I have to vote for Gary Johnson … or nobody. Since Gary Johnson has at least governed a state, and, despite his advocacy of marijuana liberty, shows signs of personal decency, book-reading and paying attention to the news, I can vote for him in good conscience, and will do so.

(On Facebook I once spoke slightingly of Johnson as the candidate of “the Marijuana Party.” Someone commented, “What’s wrong with the Marijuana Party?” To which I replied, “Marijuana.”)

What might happen? Nobody knows. But maybe the American people will show real character by discarding the scabs on American politics represented by Hillarump, and voting in large numbers for one of the alternatives.

We only have a two-party system because the two major parties have shown a reasonable ability to nominate credible candidates. In the past, when both the Federalists and the Whigs showed themselves to be out of touch with the people, or incapable of grappling with the real issues of the day, the American people discarded them.

That’s right, we’ve always had a two-party system – but it hasn’t been the same two parties. When a party fails – and as far as I can see, both parties have failed miserably this year – then the American people seek out an alternative and elevate it to national status, restoring the two-party system by replacing the one deemed least worthy to continue.

The Republican Party was formed in the mid-1850s, when New York editor Horace Greeley urged a friend in Racine, Wisconsin, to form a new party. It began there as a political meeting in a smallish town, but then the news of the party’s formation spread.

It spread because that new Republican Party stood for something – it stood for the Abolition of Slavery. Those who loathed the way that pro-slavery legislators had rigged the system to prevent any possibility of freedom for slaves, realized that the only way to get rid of the abominable institution of slavery was to elect candidates pledged to fight against it, regardless of the political consequences.

Republican Parties sprang up in city after city, town after town. Soon they held national gatherings. By the election of 1856 they were able to nominate a national candidate, John C. Fremont, and perform credibly in the voting booth. In 1860, they ran Abraham Lincoln and, for many years, they deserved their national primacy.

Now they don’t. (Neither do the Democrats, who are locked into morally and constitutionally indefensible positions that will destroy them – or our civil society – in the end. You can’t amend the Constitution by unconstitutional means forever.)

So with the moral difference between Hillarump about as detectable as the lint in a newborn gerbil’s navel, isn’t it time we said, “A plague on both your houses,” and demanded, by our votes, that both parties reform their system of choosing candidates?

If you vote for Hillarump at all, either one of them, you are acquiescing to the current system. Only by voting for someone else – someone that everybody knows is better as a human being and as a potential president – can we set in motion the change that must come if America is to continue to fulfill its position as protector of the astonishingly productive world economy and, wherever possible, the aspirational defender of human rights?


A couple of days ago, my wife sent me a link to an interview with Jim Caviezel, the actor who played Christ in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Since then, we’ve almost forgotten that he did that; most of us know him as the macho lead in Person of Interest.

But to me, personally, as a Christian, I found his matter-of-fact testimony of what it meant to him to play Jesus Christ to be quite moving. He reminded me that if you try to win the approval of a world devoted to rejecting Christ and his gospel, you will end up rejecting Christ in your own life; and if you suffer various losses, inconveniences or other pains because you stood up for that gospel, the gift is acceptable to God, no matter how the unbelieving world might vilify you.

Here is the interview: {}

Here’s the thing. I am usually repelled by God-talk in the media. When Sarah Palin was on the presidential ballot, I heard her engaging in glib, buddies-with-Jesus rhetoric with religious media figures and it sickened me.

In my religious tradition, the name of Christ is sacred, and not to be bandied about lightly; when I hear it used like a brand name ╨ Nike or Kleenex ╨ my skin crawls. It sounds disrespectful to me. It sounds like taking his name in vain.

What I loved about Caviezel’s conversation is that while the host was a bit of a God-talk guy, Caviezel spoke of the Savior with genuine respect and devotion, affirming his reality but recognizing that we are all sinners incapable of saving ourselves. His attitude was exemplary, and my respect for him increased greatly (and I already respected his talent).

If you’re not a Christian, then I don’t think this interview has much to offer you, except perhaps to show you a Christian whose attitude toward religion isn’t smugly superior or cloyingly buddy-buddy. He is, in my experience, what most practical Christians are like: forthright and humble, unashamed of their faith but not smug.

(By the way, if you’re one of those, like me, who had no idea how to pronounce Jim Caviezel’s last name, the host introduces him as Jim ka-VEE-zul.)


Though it’s based on a Michael Crichton film from 1973, Westworld is benefitting from the full-blown Game of Thrones treatment on HBO.

Divided into coherent, intriguing, often moving episodes, it takes a complicated story and makes it comprehensible.

And while it has at least as much candid nudity (pretty evenly divided between females and males) as Game of Thrones, it is almost never prurient. Where the naked people in Thrones mostly appear in brothel scenes or absurdly unnecessary sex scenes, in Westworld they are essentially warehoused.

Because in the story, they aren’t living organisms. They’re machines designed to look exactly like human beings, and even talk and think like people. They are put to work as “hosts” in a cowboys-and-Indians theme park.

Think of them as somewhere between the actors playing Disney characters who walk the streets of Disney theme parks, and the people who act as citizens of Williamsburg as you tour that living museum.

With a huge difference. The visitors to Westworld are encouraged to indulge their darkest impulses – to have unlimited sex of any type they want with these Hosts, to rape and murder at will and without consequence, because, after all, they’re only doing these things to machines.

There are rules: The weapons carried by the Hosts cannot harm a Visitor, but Visitors can “kill” the Hosts.

The creators and operators of the Hosts intended that every night, any killed or damaged Hosts would be repaired and put back into the “story” they enact every day as Visitors arrive. Supposedly the Hosts completely forget everything that happened the day before, including all death and suffering, and act out their script for the new day as if it were the first time they ever said and did these things.

I haven’t clocked it, but it seems that the story is pretty evenly divided between what happens in the theme park, involving the Visitors, and what happens behind the scenes, among the Host-automatons and those who repair them, program them and control them.

Ed Harris plays the unnamed Man in Black, who seems to function as something of a devil. His goal, besides doing a lot of killing for the fun of it, seems to be to find a way to break into the backstage area of Westworld.

Anthony Hopkins plays Dr. Ford, the mastermind behind it all, who also seems to be following his own agenda, which none of the other people maintaining the theme park can guess at.

There are two parallel storylines to follow. First, we get to see how the free pass offered by the park affects Visitors differently. In the second episode, for instance, a pair of work-friends arrive, with one of them exploiting every opportunity to be a vile turd of a human being, and the other one choosing to remain true to his own moral values.

In a way, all the Visitors represent human beings who believe they live in a godless moral universe. If you think your actions have no consequences, that other people have no souls, that they’re just playthings for your entertainment, then why not kill and rape at will? What could possibly make that “bad”?

That’s why it’s so easy to confuse atheists who still think there’s a reason to lead a moral life. It always comes down to the impossibility of defining “good” without using a form of the word “good” in the definition.

Why is it good to treat other people kindly?

Because what goes around comes around.

So you treat other people well, so they’ll treat you well.


How is that working for us, do you think? How many times do you rely on good treatment to prevent other people’s bad behavior? Or do you call a cop or raise a fist or file a lawsuit? Then you’re treating them badly.

It’s what they deserve!

And why is it good for people to get what they deserve? Besides which, almost nobody gets what they deserve. So again, if that’s the reason to be good, it isn’t working.

Ultimately, such conversations always come down to this: So you’re saying that it’s good to be good. But why is being good better than being bad? Why is good, good?

I’ve spent 40 years wrestling with this philosophical dilemma, and I promise you, there’s no way out of that tautology. “The greatest good for the greatest number.” Naw. What’s the greatest good? Who decides? Who can know what other people really need, when they don’t even know themselves? Most people who think they know exactly what is “good” for others create things like the Taliban or the Communist Party. But … why are those “bad”?

Ultimately, the argument comes down to, “I know what’s good when I see it.”

Which is no proper basis for any kind of action. What that statement really means is: I think that whatever I was taught to believe is good, is good. Unless it would keep me from doing what I want, and in that case, it isn’t all that important to be good, because, like, I need my freedom, you can’t tell me what’s good.

Basically, what atheists are saying to the God they believe does not exist, is, “You’re not the boss of me.” And God agrees, in effect saying, I put you here on this Westworld-like planet, where you imagine that you’re free to do whatever you want. But I have made sure to tell you what really is good: what you will choose to do and how you will choose to act if you really are good at heart.

Isaac Asimov, who believed himself to be a staunch atheist, nevertheless put a god-figure in all his major works. There was always somebody who had devised a plan, which, if it prevailed, would make everybody happier and save the human race from some dire fate. Why? Because if there is no universal purposer, then there is no purpose, and if there is no purpose, then there is no good or evil, since these can only be defined in terms of their being conducive or non-conducive to the achievement of a good purpose.

(Which makes everything tautological again: Why is it a good purpose? What makes one purpose better than another?)

Westworld is exploring this question: Does it matter how you treat these human-like machines?

Which instantly translates to the real-world question, What does it say about your character if you spend hours playing Grand Theft Auto in preference to activities in which you don’t act out killing, raping, and stealing? You are literally not hurting anybody; yet it suggests there might be something seriously wrong with your soul.

However, in Westworld the game is rigged: Host characters actively encourage Visitors to set their real-world morals aside and act out every dark desire. Nobody is arguing that people maintain their real-world values. Why not? Because they want to bring customers back to the park. The ones who return most often are the ones who get a thrill from doing despicable things.

Meanwhile, in the backstage storylines, we’re watching as the Hosts show that, perhaps due to a deliberate change that Dr. Ford introduced into their programming, they are not forgetting everything, they are not completely slaves to their programming, and they might, in fact, be disposed to rebel against their makers.

All of this is very well written, well acted and beautifully designed. But I find most of the experience of watching Westworld to be quite unpleasant, precisely because good people are rare in both plotlines. Game of Thrones offered me a few people I could root for, even when their actions are morally ambiguous, because all of them live in a “real” (within the story) world and are trying to do what seems good and honorable to them.

In Westworld, we are immediately thrown into confusion about what, if anything, is “real.” Some of the characters think they know the difference, but I would not be surprised if we found that a lot of the backstage “human” characters were actually automatons, too, programmed by Dr. Ford to think they’re running things.

On the other hand, we’re being prepared to watch the fake humans become real, choosing their own storylines freely instead of complying with the instructions of Dr. Ford, who has tipped his hand by openly referring to what he does as “playing God.”

Westworld is a beautiful production. But most of the suspense comes from trying to figure out what’s really going on – which is not suspense at all, but merely confusion. I care about almost no one. I don’t care if they succeed, because I have no idea what “success” would consist of.

So I’m not even close to being as emotionally committed to Westworld as I am to Game of Thrones (or, for that matter, as I was to Downton Abbey, which also consisted of mostly-deplorable people acting utterly selfishly, so … who cares?).

Nor do I care what they end up saying about good vs. evil, or moral vs. immoral, or however you care to phrase it. That’s because the day I need a TV writer to answer the great questions of philosophy and religion will never dawn. I think it’s interesting that they have raised some of the deep questions; I have zero expectation that they will come up with deep answers.

But I’m still using my TiVo One-Pass to record all the episodes. We’ll see if I actually watch them, or instead spend my viewing time watching reruns of Rules of Engagement, Cougar Town and CSI: NY, and new episodes of Tosh.0 and Last Week Tonight.