La Rochefoucauld said that it is easier to give good advice than to take it, to which he might have added that it is also easier to agree with good advice than to act on it. Enacting wisdom is a little like speaking a foreign language that is pronounced perfectly in the head but comes out of the mouth with a strong accent.

If good advice were easy to take, the world would long ago have been perfect.

Last week I was writing a chapter of a book on medicine and poetry in which I quoted Doctor Johnson to the effect that it is better to be sometimes deceived than never to trust. I was writing about Mark Akenside, an eminent 18th-century doctor whose major published work on medicine was on dysentery, but who was also a famous poet in his day, now entirely forgotten. He appears to have been a somewhat sour and paranoid individual who thought, contrary to Doctor Johnson, that it was better to never to be deceived than ever to trust. This was not a recipe for a happy life.

Now, it so happened that on the very evening of the day during which I quoted Doctor Johnson I was called upon actually to take his advice. It was rainy, but not cold. There was a tentative knock on the front door and by the time I answered it, the young man who had knocked was in retreat.

He apologized for having disturbed me so late. He carried with him a large bag, and I knew at once from experience why he had come. He was (or would claim to have been) a former prisoner who was now going straight, who was trying to earn a living by selling things from door to door.

“€œHe was pathetic rather than bad, and I felt sure that if I had asked him his life story it would contain little that was good.”€

I knew also from experience what those things would be: feather dusters, chamois leather cloths for cleaning the windows of my car, etc., none of which I would want. The young man held out a certificate to prove that he was a “€œlicensed hawker,”€ but it did not say who the licensing authority was and I did not ask.

I asked the young man to come in out of the rain. Say what you will, it cannot be much fun selling things from door to door in such weather to people you know perfectly well don”€™t really want to buy what you are trying to sell. If you are going to speak to them at all, it is better”€”I mean kinder and less aggravating to oneself”€”to do so with a good grace: and good grace is one of those things that one can teach oneself to exercise.

I learned the lesson at Lagos Airport many years ago. Although I had been to Nigeria before, I had arrived by land, not by air. I was still astonishingly naive. When I reached the customs hall, or what passed as such, the customs officer asked me, “€œHave you brought any presents?”€

“€œNo,”€ I replied, “€œI don”€™t know anyone in Nigeria.”€

“€œFor me,”€ said the officer, raising an eyebrow, and I felt terribly foolish, as innocent as a newborn babe.

I grasped at once that this was not the moment to seize the moral high ground, to expatiate on the terrible damage that corruption was doing to his country and to the African continent in general, and so forth. Apart from anything else, I knew nothing of the conditions of this particular man’s life: Perhaps he rarely or never received his wages. I laughed, took out my wallet, and gave him a banknote of small denomination, with which he was completely satisfied. We parted on the best of terms as he waved me through, and I even felt I had had value for money. I had made someone a little happier, as I should not have done if I had made a scene.

To return to the young man I had asked into my house: I saw at once that he was far more frightened of me than I was of him. He was of a nervy disposition in general, and had that starveling appearance that I knew so well from my work as a doctor in a prison, of someone who had not been fed properly from birth and had never really learned since how to eat decent food. I would have been prepared to stake my house that he had taken heroin at some time in his life.

“€œI”€™ve been out of trouble for fourteen months,”€ he said, obviously an eternity for someone who was only about 23, 24. “€˜I”€™m trying to go straight and sell a few things so I don”€™t have to be on benefits.”€

To Cleveland, Ohio, where mid-America’s middle class begins its great Midwest sprawl. I always wanted to visit Cleveland because the so-called sophisticates have poked fun at it. And the place does not disappoint. Beautiful municipal buildings of Fascist Roman style line the shores of Lake Erie, public libraries, city halls, opera houses, large public spaces, you get my drift. The people are friendly, unlike the aggressive slobs who pass for Noo Yawkers nowadays. The purpose of the visit is to moderate a debate and visit with Chronicles magazine staff and rub elbows with Chronicles readers, who have shown up in force. Among the numerous speakers is the great Pat Buchanan, three-time presidential candidate and a true-blue conservative writer who has kept the faith throughout.

His speech, delivered in a mild tone with no theatrics, leaves me depressed. The de-Christianization of America has dramatically taken place without any protest by the people. Churches are closing and priests are mostly senior citizens. What is worse, if that’s possible, is the plot to do away with the American past. Columbus Day is now called Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and there’s a movement to take Andrew Jackson off the twenty-dollar bill because he owned slaves.

“When I was at Virginia I proudly flew the Confederate flag in my fraternity bedroom. Crossed with the Greek one.”

Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe were also slave owners—of the first six American presidents only the two Adamses were not—and they will be next. The one that makes me laugh is the Cinco de Mayo celebration, of which I don’t have a clue. What I do know, however, is that on May 5, 1862, the Battle of Williamsburg was fought between the North and South, and on that day we should be celebrating the heroic dead of both sides. What the hell is Cinco de Mayo anyway? A dance step, a rumba band?

It is very simple. The counterculture has won the war. Ninety-seven percent spoke English at home during the ’50s. At present, more than 50 percent in Los Angeles don’t speak English at home. During Eisenhower’s years, 87 percent of Americans were of European descent. The number is down to 63 percent at present and falling rapidly. What is there to say or do? Not much, because political correctness has taken care of protest. Angela Merkel and the gangsters in Brussels have committed one of the great crimes of any century by allowing the browning of Europe, yet voices that protest this great crime are called racists.

White Americans vote 60 percent Republican. Black and Latino Americans vote 90 percent Democrat. The electoral vote is shrinking for whites, and once the country looks like California, where whites are in the minority, it will be impossible to elect a Republican. The great silent majority, as Richard Nixon called it, is no more. The country was invaded and taken over by a foreign army that used stealth and the welfare system as ramrods to break down the walls. Europe is undergoing a similar fate, the difference being I always thought Americans knew better.

When I was at Virginia I proudly flew the Confederate flag in my fraternity bedroom. Crossed with the Greek one. Today I’d be picked out by some horror-haired TV reporter as a bigot and most likely be accused of rape by some female journalist eager to make the cover of a magazine. Which brings me to the stealth campaign to empty the prisons of black criminals: There is a delegitimization of law enforcement by political activists and media types that is selling the myth of a bias by the courts against blacks. It began with the antipolice movement by black activists after the killing of a black man in Ferguson who had charged a white police officer and who had minutes previously stuck up a nearby store.

July 4th is the day America celebrates liberty but Halloween is the opposite. It’s the day we all get together and ask necrophiliacs what to do with fun’s cadaver. These ghouls have a lot of suggestions for us but they”€™re all disgusting. What used to be a silly theme for a party in late October has become a logic pretzel where we crowbar political correctness into every nook and cranny until the only way you can avoid appropriation is to come dressed as yourself.

The festivities began early this year. “€œSooooooo wal-mart [sic] is also selling fake noses for an “€˜arab [sic] shiek”€™ [sic] costume,”€ the presumably trans Sara Yasin, a Palestinian Buzzfeed reporter from Brooklyn, stated on Tuesday. “€œJust another reminder of how normalized it is to be racist against arabs [sic],”€ she later added. Walmart responded by dropping the nose immediately (this is the same nose that Macklemore was accused of anti-Semitism for wearing last year). Around the same time, Walmart got in trouble for selling an Israeli soldier costume that prompted Vanity Fair to ask, “€œWhy Can”€™t America’s Biggest Retailer Learn from Its Halloween Mistakes?”€ I don”€™t know”€”maybe it’s because you keep moving the goalposts? Almost every country in the world has a military. Can their kids please dress up on Halloween? As for the nose, yes, Jews, Arabs, and blacks do have bigger noses. Nostrils are used to get moisture out of the air and desert climates require more surface area to do so. Middle Eastern noses tend to go away from the face whereas African noses tend to go parallel. I come from Scotland where it rains every day, which is why my nose looks like a zit with two holes poked in the bottom. I”€™ve noticed this, as have you, but “€œPolitical correctness is a war on noticing,”€ so close your eyes or you”€™re racist.

“€œNobody has to explain why a particular costume violates protocol. Just say “€˜Boo!”€™ and everyone runs away screaming.”€

Also on Tuesday, the head ghouls at Gawker claimed, “€œRacist Halloween Celebrations Kick Off [note their enthusiasm] With Blackface Nicki Minaj.”€ Apparently, a high school student in Florida dared to darken her skin to appear like pop star Nicki Minaj and was promptly shamed off the Internet. Nobody has to explain why a particular costume violates protocol. Just say “€œBoo!”€ and everyone runs away screaming. The fact that Nicki Minaj wears a blond wig in a clear appropriation of white culture is irrelevant. Blackface is verboten. Why? I still don”€™t know. As far as I can tell, it’s because a small percentage of minstrel shows were negative. The other 90% mean nothing, including the incredibly popular Black and White Minstrel Show, which aired across Europe from 1958 to 1978. When Fred Armisen does his Obama he looks like a black man who just saw a ghost but we”€™d rather have inaccuracies than violate the ridiculous taboo of including skin tone in a costume.

Logic has nothing to do with this crusade because political correctness is a religion. It’s faith-based and their laws have been written in stone, never to be questioned”€”ever.

North Carolina State tried to solidify at least nine of these commandments in a recent announcement from Academic and Student Affairs entitled, “€œMaking Halloween an Inclusive Experience for All.”€ It’s a nice, concise list that explains that all you have to do to come up with a Halloween costume is make sure: It can”€™t be viewed as culturally, ethnically, or racially biased; its sexiness or funniness isn”€™t linked to any of the aforementioned categories; it doesn”€™t resemble a Mexican or an Indian or a rapper; you don”€™t think it’s “€œonly a costume”€; you would be okay with the whole world seeing it; you would be okay with the whole world seeing someone else wearing it if they were associated with you; it aligns with your club’s goals; the theme is thoughtfully verified; and obviously there is no tokenization. They make it clear you can”€™t mock gangsters”€™ low-slung jeans even though we”€™re talking about murderers here and the dude they used for the costume is white (they called him “€œwhitey”€ to be triple sure). You can dress like a punk rocker because they”€™re white but you can”€™t mock a white criminal because criminals are often black. Make sense? NCS”€™ rules (which all seem to be saying the same thing) then link to a “€œhelpful infographic flowchart“€ that lists almost nothing but DON”€™Ts and maybe one DO (but it’s for a nonwhite).

MSNBC also has a list for 2015. It includes the blackface listed above (CNN’s includes whiteface) as well as Caitlyn Jenner, Cecil the Lion, and sexy Donald Trump. These lists are invariably written by women and are rife with spelling errors such as “€œEvery year, with out [sic] fail”€ and “€œchange your skill [sic] tone.”€ The explanations for their arbitrary rules usually involve ultimate argument-settlers such as “€œSo, let’s agree to not,”€ “€œjust don”€™t,”€ and “€œPeriod.”€ I”€™m reminded of when blacks tell me I can”€™t discuss racism with them because I don”€™t know how it feels. People who don”€™t want to engage in a real discussion usually lack beliefs with any kind of conviction. That’s fine, but you”€™re not allowed to tell me what to do after that.

So why are we not allowed to question these rules, and why are there so many of them? The short answer is: black failure white guilt. This albatross around our necks is what drives most of the narrative. It’s the same reason the media is playing a loop of an angry cop dragging a black girl out of her desk when we”€™d never see that clip if the races or genders were any other combination. The dogma is: Blacks aren”€™t doing well in today’s society ergo slavery and white privilege are to blame and we all need to be constantly checking ourselves before we wreck ourselves. The (mostly white) liberal elites love the blame game because it enables them to tell other people how to behave, how to talk, what to wear, how to party, and what to wear to your party. The problem is, blacks tend to be bored by such academic minutiae. They don”€™t want to play this stupid game, so the Marxist academics have recruited Asians and Mexicans and Indians and demand they get aboard the hate train.

When a San Francisco high school principal named Lena Van Haren withheld student-body election results last week due to a lack of black and Latino winners (the victorious candidates were Asian and white), the right exploded in understandable anger. To conservative commentators, the principal’s actions conjured up images of racial political correctness gone wild. To me, however, the story conjured up different images: naked high school girls, beheaded students, and the death of “€œdangerous”€ comedy in the U.S. at the hands of the left and the right.

National Lampoon magazine, in its prime (the 1970s and very early “€™80s), was something that simply could not exist today. With a staff made up of liberal and conservative writers and editors pursuing one simple goal”€”to be funny“€”National Lampoon made equal sport of the left and right. Perhaps more important, the Lampoon was politically incorrect to an insane degree (an impossible degree, by today’s standards). These days, when people reflect, nostalgically or angrily, on the Lampoon‘s fearlessness regarding things like race and ethnicity, they”€™re likely to think of P.J. O”€™Rourke’s “€œForeigners Around the World”€ piece from May 1976. It still gets mentioned because O”€™Rourke is still a presence on the right. But O”€™Rourke’s piece has nothing on an illustrated feature from the April 1978 Lampoon. Thirty-seven years before Principal Van Haren decided to give her students a lesson in the heavy hand of “€œdiverse democracy,”€ Shary Flenniken, a seminal figure in National Lampoon history (she was one of the few women to work her way up from writer and artist to a position as editor), crafted a four-page comic spread that managed to be funny, insightful, and devastatingly politically incorrect.

The strip is called “€œWhiteface,”€ which should give you an idea of why you can”€™t find it anywhere online except buried in the National Lampoon Internet archive.

Flenniken’s recurring character Bonnie, a blond, precocious 13-year-old, arrives at school on student-body election day, eager to participate in the grand democratic process. Sadly, Bonnie learns that the faculty members, who are boarded up in the teachers”€™ lounge, have turned the election over to black nationalist student Itty Bitty Meanie Mohammed, a middle school Idi Amin wannabe who has declared that only black students can participate. Bonnie’s black friend puts her in blackface and an Afro wig so she can be smuggled into the auditorium to hear Mohammed’s victory speech, which consists of promises of “€œculturally-oriented IQ exams,”€ an “€œethnic dress code,”€ a Lincoln Continental in the driver’s-ed class, and Boone’s Farm wine in the cafeteria. Mohammed forces all the schoolgirls to strip naked and dance for him, which exposes Bonnie’s white body. Furious that a black traitor has smuggled an evil “€œNordic”€ into his victory celebration, Mohammed seals the auditorium as Bonnie escapes, promising to “€œeliminate”€ all disloyal black students.

“€œThe left may have dropped the ball regarding outrageous, politically incorrect humor, but the right shows little sign of wanting to recover it.”€

The final panel is almost certainly the most brutal image ever featured in a mainstream American comic strip. The next day, the white students notice how peaceful everything is, how devoid of racial unrest. As Bonnie goes to her locker, we see the bloody, decapitated heads of the black students, one per locker, murdered in Mohammed’s purge, as Bonnie’s friend explains that Mohammed has now “€œtransferred to a school with a broader power base.”€

It’s a gut punch of a payoff. The images are brutal because the subject matter is. Yet it’s impossible to read it in 2015 without knowing that it could never be published today in any mainstream publication, left, center, or right. A mainstream conservatism that declared John Derbyshire a racist embarrassment to be jettisoned and apologized for would never invite the backlash that would inevitably follow publishing the things that O”€™Rourke and the other Lampoon editors allowed in the “€™70s. This gives racial despots like Principal Van Haren an edge. They know that any criticism or satire of their vision of race-based democracy will be limited by boundaries that even their harshest opponents have agreed to adhere to.

I spoke to the cartoonist, Shary Flenniken, about her motivation for creating “€œWhiteface.”€ Regarding her own political views, she is the opposite of a conservative or right-winger. She explained that, as someone who identifies primarily with the left, she was always fascinated by the fact that “€œradical”€ leftists so often pick on the oppressed they claim to be defending. The desire to satirize this leftist trait began after the Patty Hearst kidnapping. Flenniken, then a newbie cartoonist, was perplexed that the SLA thought it would be effective to kidnap and repeatedly rape a young woman in the name of ending “€œpatriarchal oppression.”€ By the time she was at the Lampoon, Flenniken saw in the brutal excesses of Idi Amin a vehicle to explore the question “€œWhy are black people killing other black people in Africa?”€

“€œIt didn”€™t make sense to me,”€ Flenniken told me. “€œAnd now it does. I look back and I go, like, “€˜Oh, duh, there’s tribal warfare, there’s a lot of reasons that happens.”€™ But at the time, I was just so naive about, I guess, about race.”€ Back then, she used her art to work through that naïveté, and she laments that today’s artists, because the climate is so different, would not be able to explore an issue like black-on-black crime”€”an issue she agrees is every bit if not more relevant today as it was in “€™78″€”with the same freedom she had in the Lampoon‘s heyday. But in the end, Flenniken said, the strip was primarily about humor: “€œI thought that was really funny, to bring Idi Amin into that environment, to put something that evil into a high school environment. Also, at the time, the direction at Lampoon was to be outrageous. And my own instinct is to be outrageous.”€

Sadly, these days, that instinct among comedians and satirists is smothered. And while it’s neat and tidy to put all the blame on the PC left, that’s not the reality. The right bears equal responsibility. The left may have dropped the ball regarding outrageous, politically incorrect humor, but the right shows little sign of wanting to recover it. While the left may be blinded by political correctness, the right has never shaken the prudishness that gave birth to the American Family Association and its mindless boycotts (in fact, the AFA was the topic of my very first L.A. Times op-ed), exactly twenty years ago). The AFA’s “€œkill it if you don”€™t understand it”€ mentality is even more prevalent in an age in which social media rewards manufactured outrage. The end result is that conservative-friendly satirists who try to go for Lampoon-style outrageousness more often than not find themselves on the receiving end of angry posts and boycott calls from the right.

Mike Judge (King of the Hill) has always been uniquely adept at inserting conservative-friendly themes into his work, in a manner that is never preachy and (more important) usually funny. Episode 5 of his HBO comedy series Silicon Valley contained a story arc that should have had conservatives cheering. The episode followed the characters”€™ attempts to create an “€œedgy”€ logo for their tech start-up. Looking for “€œstreet cred,”€ they go to a leftist graffiti artist named Chuy Ramirez. Chuy fancies himself an expert on all things Latino, yet he confuses the company’s Pakistani employee for a Latino (a clever twist on the old gag of white Archie Bunker types who can”€™t tell minorities apart).

Reactionary author Michel Houellebecq’s novel about an Islamic takeover of France, Submission, was published the day of the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo. In fact, the satirical publication’s cover that bloody morning was a cartoon of the notoriously decrepit-looking Houellebecq prophesying, “€œIn 2015, I lose my teeth. In 2022, I observe Ramadan!”€

Perhaps continental Europe’s most talked-about novelist this century, Houellebecq (a complicated-looking name pronounced, simply enough, “€œWELL-beck”€) is representative of the rise of the right as a cultural force. The editor of the leftist Liberation newspaper complained that Submission “€œwill mark the date in the history of ideas on which the ideas of the extreme right made their entrance in high literature.”€ Houellebecq has described himself in his usual half-joking style as “€œNihilist, reactionary, cynic, racist, shameless misogynist: to lump me in with the rather unsavory family of “€˜right-wing anarchists”€™ would be to give me too much credit; basically, I”€™m just a redneck.”€

In reality, Houellebecq is an autodidact with an immense love of French literature. But he missed out on the usual educational and career path of French intellectuals, instead studying agronomy in college and going to work with computers, which he hated. In his 1990s novels, Whatever and The Elementary Particles, he more or less introduced to literature the now familiar character of the sexually frustrated computer programmer. Houellebecq has been a major influence on the sexual realist wing of the American blogosphere, such as Heartiste.

Submission has now finally been published in America, and it turns out to be worth the nine-month wait. The superb translation by Lorin Stein, the editor of George Plimpton‘s old literary magazine The Paris Review, is deadpan hilarious.

“€œHouellebecq’s ambiguity may be not just a masterly literary strategy, but also a legal one to keep him out of jail.”€

And this tale of how the French elite will collaborate with their new Islamic rulers as egregiously as their predecessors collaborated with the Germans has recently been made even more timely by the vigor with which Chancellor Merkel’s Germany has decided to try to outrace France to national suicide.

Numerous English-language reviewers have registered their relief that Submission is not as “€œIslamophobic”€ as they had feared. In fact, Submission‘s hero, a self-centered professor of French literature, eventually converts to Islam after he’s offered in exchange his old job back, a big boost in salary (due to Saudi Arabia buying the Sorbonne), and, best of all, arranged marriages with three nubile coeds.

Is Submission a dystopian novel or a utopian one, as Houellebecq sometimes maintains in interviews? Keep in mind that France has nothing resembling a First Amendment, so Houellebecq’s ambiguity may be not just a masterly literary strategy, but also a legal one to keep him out of jail. It’s not wholly irrelevant that the current leader in the polls for the first round of the 2017 French presidential election, Marine Le Pen of the National Front, is right now on trial and could be sentenced to a year in prison for criticizing the Islamification of France.

Houellebecq himself was put on trial in 2002 for calling Islam “€œthe stupidest religion.”€ He was acquitted, but exiled himself to Ireland for several years.

Moreover, Muslim extremists in Europe sometimes murder celebrities who dare dis them, such as Theo van Gogh, who was stabbed to death in 2004 shortly after producing a short film entitled, probably not coincidentally, Submission.

The basic plot of Houellebecq’s Submission is by now well-known: In the 2022 French presidential election, Le Pen wins the first round with 34 percent. But in a surprise, the suave, moderate Muslim candidate, Mohammed Ben Abbes, founder of the new Islamic Brotherhood party, slips into the second round with 22 percent, just ahead of Socialist warhorse Manuel Valls. (In real life, Valls denounced Submission: “€œFrance is not Michel Houellebecq, it’s not intolerance, hatred, fear.”€)

Granted, nobody knows exactly what the Muslim percentage of France is, but 2022 seems too soon, as Houellebecq has admitted. On the other hand, in the wake of Ms. Merkel launching the Camp of the Saints against her own continent, it’s clear that much of Submission is intentionally understated.

When the Muslim Brotherhood declare that they aren”€™t interested in the traditionally crucial ministries of finance and foreign affairs, desiring only to control education, the Socialists quickly form an alliance with the Brotherhood against the hated National Front. Eventually the center-right UMP party of Nicolas Sarkozy and the centrist Catholic François Bayrou join the grand coalition against the National Front. When the apolitical protagonist inquires why, a well-informed secret policeman assures him:

What the UMP wants, and the Socialists, too, is for France to disappear”€”to be integrated into a European federation. Obviously, this isn”€™t popular with the voters, but for years the party leaders have managed to sweep it under the rug.

Territoriality is basic human nature. The European elite strategy has been to demonize this natural urge among European men while hoping that this contrived attitude rubs off on Muslim immigrants through some unexplained form of moral osmosis.

How’s that working out so far?

With the backing of all respectable French politicians, the Muslim candidate defeats Le Pen in a landslide. After all, the important thing in politics is not to defend your country, but to defeat your fellow countrymen, even if that involves selling out to outsiders.

One clever aspect of Submission is that Houellebecq has crafted it to have his repulsive, misanthropic Houellebecqian narrator portray Islam as a positive force for France and Europe. Ben Abbes is seen as the second coming of Emperor Augustus, reunifying the Mediterranean world.

There once was an American billionaire, one so powerful and paranoid that he insisted upon being left off all those Forbes lists. He never showed up to Bilderberg or Bohemian Grove, so after a while, he stopped being invited. His name dropped off those lists, too, then eventually out of even the memories of the few men who could possibly be called his peers.

The billionaire died an unhappy man. Unhappy because, despite his wealth, he”€™d never achieved his dearest dream: He”€™d wanted to be a writer.

Not a novelist, mind you: Having come of age during the golden era of the American magazine, the billionaire fantasied about writing unforgettable, elegant, yet seemingly effortless nonfiction in the vein of Gore Vidal or Tom Wolfe. (Although he”€™d have happily settled for John McPhee…)

Except…he could never think of anything to write about.

He loved the idea of writing, but when he settled into the secret office he”€™d set up in each of his homes (with their matching IBM Selectrics, and those patient piles of white 20-pound bond poised just so to his left, and a steaming cup of oolong at his right), the billionaire’s brain”€”the one that had never failed him before and had, in fact, gotten him to this precise, perfect-for-writing place (the old boathouse in Martha’s Vineyard, perhaps, or the screened-in porch at the Bahamas house)”€”that formidable brain clicked off.

“€œJust as women pretend to value “€˜a sense of humor”€™ in potential male mates, men have been trained to claim they”€™re besotted with female brains.”€

So when he died, the billionaire’s sole bequest was the establishment of a secret trust to support similarly struggling writers. The money from this trust wouldn”€™t go directly to writers in the form of grants and awards, though. Instead, the billionaire set up the Polonius Foundation. Through a complex system of money laundering that no single sworn-to-secrecy man involved in the operation thoroughly understood, this foundation funded…studies.

“€œStudies”€ in…what? That didn”€™t matter. Researchers who submitted grant applications through legitimate academic channels (applications that sometimes, somehow caught the attention of Polonius apparatchiks) quickly figured out that the more banal their thesis, the more absurd their methodology, the more likely they were to receive the funds they”€™d requested.

Because what these researchers didn”€™t know was that the true purpose of all these “€œstudies”€ wasn”€™t to study (let alone solve) any real-world problems, save one.

These “€œstudies,”€ once published, would”€”the billionaire had fondly, and correctly, hoped”€”give desperate writers the one thing he knew from harsh experience they all needed much more than, say, a Louis Quinze desk of impeccable provenance:

These “€œstudies”€ would give writers something to write about.

And that, as you”€™ve all been impotently wondering for some time now, is where all these “€œstudies”€ come from, and (the real) “€œwhy.”€

Which brings me (yes, just hours before my deadline) to the latest one to capture my attention, via where else but the Daily Mail:

Men ARE threatened by intelligence: Study reveals males claim to be attracted to women who are cleverer than them…until they actually meet one.

Why bother reading more? You already know that the sample size was comically miniscule and rarefied (105 male college students); the methodology, Heath Robinsonian; the “€œscience,”€ well, not (in this case, psychology.)

And more important, unless you are reading this, that, and everything else on an iPad attached to the mechanical arm extending from your iron lung (and even then…), you didn”€™t need a “€œstudy”€ to “€œprove”€ that, did you?

Are Catholic truths immutable? Or can they change with the changing times?

This is the deeper question behind the issues that convulsed the three-week synod on the family of the 250 Catholic bishops in Rome that ended Saturday.

A year ago, German Cardinal Walter Kasper called on the church to change—to welcome homosexual couples, and to permit cohabiting and divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion.

Retorted traditionalists: This is heresy.

Had the pope followed his friend Cardinal Kasper and ordered Catholic teaching and diocesan practice changed, he could have provoked a schism inside the Church.

Such a change in doctrine would have called into question papal infallibility. Defined at the Vatican Council of 1869-70, that doctrine declares that when the pope teaches ex cathedra, on matters of faith and morals, he is protected from error by the Holy Ghost. Doctrinal truths, taught by popes in communion with the bishops, down through the ages, cannot change.

But if Catholic truths about the indissolubility of marriage and intrinsic immorality of homosexual unions can be changed, then, either the Church has been in grave error in the past, or the Church is toying with heresy today.

“The inevitable result of any of these courses that the pope chooses will be, it seems, to deepen the confusion of the faithful.”

Saturday, The Washington Post described the synod as a “brawl over Francis’ vision of inclusion.”

Reporter Anthony Faiola compared the synod deliberations to a Tea Party rebellion in John Boehner’s House caucus, and the pope to a change agent like Barack Obama who finds himself blocked and frustrated by conservatives.

Saturday’s document from the synod ignored the call for a new Church stance toward homosexual unions. And it did not approve of giving Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics, whom the Church considers to be living in adultery.

Yet, in Sunday’s sermon the pope seemed angered by both the defiance of the resisting bishops and the conclusions the synod reached. To Pope Francis, the traditionalists appear to be placing the strictures of moral law above the Gospel command of mercy.

“None of the disciples stopped, as Jesus did” said Francis of the blind man. “If Bartimaeus was blind, they were deaf. His problem was not their problem.

“This can be a danger to us. … A faith that does not know how to grow roots into the lives of people remains arid and, rather than oases, creates other deserts.”

The pope seems to be saying that the dissenting bishops, no matter their command of moral law, are lacking in charity, the greatest of the three theological virtues.

Where does the bishops’ synod on the family leave the Church?

In confusion, and at risk of going the way of the Protestant churches that continue to hemorrhage congregants.

Recall. With its acceptance of birth control at the Lambeth conference of 1930, the Church of England started down this road, as did its sister, the Episcopal Church. The process led to the decline of both.

From birth control, to divorce and remarriage, women priests, gay clergy, homosexual bishops, same-sex marriage, the Episcopal Church first broke apart, and now appears to be going gentle into that good night.

Indeed the Church of England began in schism, when Henry VIII broke with Rome after Pope Clement VII refused to approve his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and his marriage to Anne Boleyn. According to Cardinal Kasper, Clement should have cut Henry some slack.

Last Tuesday night I was walking down a poorly lit Brooklyn street en route to meet a friend for dinner when suddenly I noticed a black male strolling alongside me.

He wasn”€™t walking ahead of me or behind me”€”he was about three feet to my right as if we were best pals and we”€™d been walking together the whole time. At first I presumed it was a coincidence”€”that we merely happened to be going the same speed and that within a half-block, one of us would pull ahead of the other and that would be the end of it.

A block later, I tried crossing the street merely to shake him. He stayed glued to my side. After another whole block, I stopped, looked him straight in the eyes, and said, “€œWhat’s going on here? Why are you following me?”€

He stopped along with me. His glazed eyes looked straight into mine. He didn”€™t say a word. He only nodded in the affirmative, even though I hadn”€™t asked him a yes-or-no question.

So I crossed the street again, and he crossed with me, stuck to my side like a Siamese twin. Oh, sorry”€”a Nigerian twin, maybe?

He was walking alongside me so deliberately that I suspected he was a designated escort leading me into some sort of ambush.

“€œSuch is life in a big city teeming with biodiversity.”€

I knew I had suddenly found myself in a potentially dangerous situation, but I wasn”€™t sweating and my heart wasn”€™t pumping any faster. I have this personality quirk where I”€™m neurotic as Woody Allen when there’s no clear and present danger, but when there’s an immediate risk of dying, I”€™m cold, calm, and calculating.

I kept him in my visual periphery and breathed deeply as I remembered all the joint locks and leg sweeps I”€™d learned in martial-arts classes. At one point I reached inside my denim jacket to pantomime that I was concealing a gun, then I pulled my hand out quickly when I realized that if he actually was toting a pistol, I might have been signing my death warrant by reaching for a gun that wasn”€™t there.

After more than three blocks of this creepy urban polar bear hunt, I walked up to a pair of young hipstery girls who were closing up shop and locking the doors to their bakery.

“€œUh”€”hi?”€ I said to them.

My new unwanted friend stopped alongside with me.

“€œI know this is weird,” I continued to the pale-as-bakery-dough girls, “but this guy’s been following me for about a half-mile and I don”€™t know what to do here. I asked him what’s going on, and he wouldn’t even say anything.”€

One of them looked at my walking companion and asked, “€œAre you OK, sir?”€

He nodded in the affirmative.

“€œThis is weird, right?”€ I asked the girls, and they nodded in the affirmative.

They asked me whether they should unlock the bakery and allow me to wait inside until he vamoosed. I said he”€™d probably simply keep waiting, plus I didn”€™t think they should be forced to wait along with me. I also said that I didn”€™t like cops and didn”€™t want to get the cops involved.

At the mention of the word “€œcops,”€ my pedestrian stalker bolted back in the direction whence we”€™d come.

I apologized to the girls. “€œI”€™m really sorry to have bothered you, but you were the only sign of civilization around here.”€

When I met my friend for dinner and told him what happened, he speculated that I was being set up for a “€œsoft mugging,”€ which is a term for when homeless people attach themselves to you and won”€™t leave until you give them some money.

Long before the word “€œoligarch”€ became a substitute for major Russian crooks and fraudsters, and a decade before Tom Wolfe invented masters of the universe, we had Wall Street Croesuses posing as gentlemen in Scottish moors. I remember it as if it were yesterday. Clay Felker, my editor at Esquire magazine, assigned me to write about this new breed of American multimillionaires who were busy shooting down everything that flew, and lots of things that didn”€™t. I did as I was told and rang up my friend Peter Salm, an Austrian-American aristocrat whose property near Southampton, Long Island, was famous for its shoot.

Peter is no longer with us, and his lovely “€œPort of Missing Men”€ estate has been sold to a master of the universe, as it happens, but he clued me in rather well. Until the late 1970s, American nouveaux riches did not bother with shooting birds. A trip to Miami and a winter suntan were enough to distinguish themselves from the rest of us. Some went even far enough as to go skiing in Canada or Austria, but God’s flying creatures were left alone. Then it happened: Some wise-guy Englishman took an upwardly mobile visiting Wall Streeter for a shoot on a weekend, a shoot that included all sorts of dukes and earls and other such British species that “€œblew”€ the Wall Streeter’s mind. Upon his return he talked at length about his recent acquaintances, and presto, the northeastern seaboard of America had discovered a new way to infiltrate the British aristocracy. By killing everything that flies.

“€œLive and let live, say I, but try telling this to the joggers who got peppered on a quiet Saturday in Southampton.”€

Mind you, it wasn”€™t as simple as I make it sound. There is etiquette involved in shooting birds, especially in Britain, so Esquire deemed it necessary to publish an article by Alistair Horne, an English historian, explaining the lingo. For example, shooting verbiage includes words such as “€œpricked,”€ “€œrunning cocks,”€ and “€œDid you have a good bag today?”€ Such words would easily have American ladies blushing until it was explained that the lexicon meant no harm. “€œDon”€™t go running to the doctor when a running cock is mentioned”€ had many a man feel silent relief. Ditto for the words “€œbag”€ and “€œpricked,”€ no blushing or punching necessary.

Nevertheless, things did not always go smoothly. It began in Southampton, L.I., when a new gun”€”English country word for a hunter”€”shot low and instead of peppering a beater he hit no less than five joggers. Worse, the joggers did not see their getting shot as an inevitable risk that those exercising outdoors must accept. They called the cops. And in Southampton, the fuzz are mostly Polish and love the law. When they heard about the gunfire they armed themselves with heavy artillery and charged behind armored personnel carriers. Soon the place looked like a Chicago speakeasy after a gang battle. Ironically, it was St. Valentine’s Day.

At another shoot, again in Southampton, an Italian-American socialite shot across the line of guns, decimating a group of newly rich record executives out trying to impress their girlfriends with their knowledge of potato farms. While they lay writhing in their brand-new tweeds and cursing the “€œdirty dago,”€ the predictable happened. The police were summoned by one of the hysterical women more used to discos than cocks. When the host of the shoot, Peter Salm, explained to the cops that the offender was not only a gentleman but also the finest shot in Italy, they were not impressed. “€œNo wonder,”€ said one officer, “€œthe way he shoots, he must be the only one left.”€

Needless to say, the masters of the universe began shooting in merry old England come the “€™80s. Purdey, Holland & Holland, and other purveyors of guns and clothes pertaining to country pursuits made fortunes. As did broken-down English and Scottish lairds with shooting estates galore but not a shower, piece of soap, or warm room in the vicinity. Steve Schwarzman, the multibillionaire head of Blackstone Corp., heads the list of new rich adhering to the code “€œIf it flies, it dies.”€ He has shiny new guns and tweeds old King Edward VII would envy, but has yet to master self-deprecation, a sine qua non for an English gent. A friend of mine who shoots with him told me he wouldn”€™t know what the words meant.

Personally, I only shoot and kill clay pigeons. Although friends invite me to shoots, I do not enjoy watching the massacres. Still, it’s an English tradition, just as it’s an American one to hunt animals. Live and let live, say I, but try telling this to the joggers who got peppered on a quiet Saturday in Southampton. They”€™re still looking for that “€œdago”€ who did them in, but the poor guy expired 20 years ago. Apparently he shot, but missed, a couple of angels on his way up.

The Week’s Dumbest, Numbest, and Glummest Headlines

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who just so happens to be Jewish, sparked a thunderous outcry of digital “oy, gevalts” last week when he claimed that Adolf Hitler merely wanted to expel Jews from Germany rather than annihilate them.

Speaking before the World Zionist Conference”€”an organization that seems to cater to Jewish self-interest”€”the floppy-jowled Head Jew referenced a 1941 meeting between Hitler and Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem:

Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jew. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here (to Palestine).

Netanyahu alleges that Hitler then asked al-Husseini what he should do about the Jew Thing, to which the Mufti replied with a terse, “Burn them.” Netanyahu had previously referred to Husseini as one of the Holocaust’s “leading architects.”

May the God of Israel please”€”pretty please, with a cherry on top”€”put Benjamin Netanyahu on trial for Holocaust denial?

Second-wave feminist superstar Germaine Greer likes to show her boobs well past menopause, and we suppose we should have warned you about that before you clicked on that link, because it would have spared you the visual trauma.

The feminist author from Oz had been scheduled to speak at Cardiff University, but her bold and obviously insane claim that “transgender” men aren’t actually women has led to accusations that she’s “transphobic” and that her appearance at the university may possibly even threaten the lives of men who insist the world join in their delusion that they’re really women, despite their deep voices, hairy chests, low-hanging scrotums, and male chromosomes.

“€œIf the left continues to eat itself like this, there will be no one left.”€

According to a petition that has allegedly garnered more than 500 signatures:

Greer has demonstrated time and time again her misogynistic views towards trans women, including continually misgendering trans women and denying the existence of transphobia altogether. While debate in a university should be encouraged, hosting a speaker with such problematic and hateful views towards marginalised and vulnerable groups is dangerous. Allowing Greer a platform endorses her views, and by extension, the transmisogyny which she continues to perpetuate.

In other words, while they encourage debate, they only encourage it with people that already agree with them. After all, isn’t that the whole reason for debating?

Greer says that “a great many women” believe that male-to-female transsexuals do not “look like, sound like, or behave like women.” Tranny activists would likely accuse Greer of being a “TERF””€”a Trans-Exclusionary Radical feminist who has the gall to claim that men who think they’re women have no place in the feminist movement simply because they ain’t chicks and never will be.

Greer offered a rather manly and straight-up response to those who would dare ban her appearance at the college merely for spewing the hate-filled and widely discredited idea that men who claim they’re women aren’t actually women:

I don’t really know what I think of it. It strikes me as a bit of a put-up job really because I am not even going to talk about the issue that they are on about. What they are saying is because I don’t think surgery will turn a man into a woman, I should not be allowed to speak. I do not know why universities cannot hear unpopular views and think about what they mean.

If the left continues to eat itself like this, there will be no one left.

The Washington Post published an article last week claiming that the NRA’s demise is “inevitable” because America is getting less white.

Author Adam Winkler”€”who may or may not be related to Henry “The Fonz” Winkler, we didn’t bother to check”€”cites statistics that claim American whites are much more pro-gun than other races, even though he didn’t say anything about how it’s black males who commit most of the USA’s gun murders. He says that gun enthusiasts tend to be “white, rural, less educated Americans,” but he didn’t point out that rural areas have the lowest rates of per-capita gun violence. Nor did he bother to compare rural whites’ IQs to those of urban blacks.

Winkler fairly winks at the reader about what a swell country it will finally be when whites are a minority and aren’t able to protect themselves with guns anymore. It would be a horrible American tragedy if he were to get shot and crippled by a hostile nonwhite robber, so don’t even go there.

British writer Matthew Parris is a homely white man who appears to blame his unattractiveness on his whiteness rather than his homeliness. He recently penned an article in The Times titled “If I had a choice, I wouldn’t be a whitey.” After homoerotically rhapsodizing about a “maybe Sri-Lankan” man on the London Tube who had “beautiful golden brown skin” that is “how humans were supposed to look,” Parris proceeds to go on a psychotically self-abasing jag:

Speaking as a white man, don”€™t we have ghastly complexions?…White is just wrong for skin “€” a kind of mutation, as though some key pigment was missing from birth. It looks inbred….Come on, admit it, whiteys: if you were God designing the human animal, your brush poised above the divine palette, would you really go for just-crawled-out-from-under-a-stone off-white? Sallow sucks.

Mr. Parris, we wish you weren’t “a whitey” either.