The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘Real Wrath of God Type Stuff’

Posted on | November 18, 2023 | No Comments

Dr. Peter Venkman: “This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.”
Mayor: “What do you mean, ‘biblical’?”
Dr. Raymond Stantz: “What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff.”
Dr. Peter Venkman: “Exactly.”
Dr. Raymond Stantz: “Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!”
Dr. Egon Spengler: “Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes …”
Winston Zeddemore: “The dead rising from the grave!”
Dr. Peter Venkman: “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together — mass hysteria!”

Ghostbusters, 1984

What makes that scene so funny — and I still laugh at it, nearly 40 years later — is the line by Bill Murray, inserting “dogs and cats living together” in the list of cataclysms in this “wrath of God” disaster.

Compared to a rain of fire and brimstone, the unnatural cohabitation of cats and dogs seems rather trivial, see? As an example of comic screenwriting, this scene from Ghostbusters is pure genius, but what I want to connect it to is the theme of choices and consequences that I undertook to address in last night’s post (“Pro-Hamas ‘Liberals’ and Other Thoughts on the Binary Nature of Choices”). Seemingly trivial things can be indicative of larger problems, and when things go off the rails — we seem to be living through “a disaster of biblical proportions” lately — it behooves us to take note of such omens and portents, however minor they may appear when viewed in isolation.

Say hello to Tiffanie Lucas, who is jailed on $2 million bond in Bullitt County, Kentucky. Among other things, she is a bad housekeeper.

Readers may infer from the $2 million bond that Ms. Lucas is accused of wrongdoing much worse than a failure to do household chores, but it’s one of those minor things that is symptomatic of larger problems.

“Clean your room,” Dr. Jordan Peterson advises. “If you can’t even clean up your own room, who the hell are you to give advice to the world? . . . My sense is that if you want to change the world, you start with yourself and work outward because you build your competence that way. I don’t know how you can go out and protest the structure of the entire economic system if you can’t keep your room organized.”

What Dr. Peterson is commenting on here is the mobs of young “activists” who posture as social critics, considering themselves qualified to lecture the rest of us about the ills of society, despite the fact that their own personal lives are typically disordered and unimpressive.

A major factor in what has gone wrong with the world is that so many people aren’t doing the ordinary little things necessary to the good life — finish school, stay sober, work hard, save your money, etc.

Arguably the most important book of the 1980s, Charles Murray’s Losing Ground, was widely seen as a criticism of “Great Society” programs:

“Murray’s main thesis is that social welfare programs, as they have historically been implemented in the United States, tend to increase poverty rather than decrease it because they create incentives rewarding short-sighted behavior not conducive to escaping poverty in the long term.”

However, one of the key insights Murray found from studying poverty statistics was that any young American had a 97% chance of avoiding long-term poverty if they accomplished just four simple things:

1. Get at least a high school diploma.
2. Get a job and keep working.
3. Get married and stay married.
4. Don’t have children before you’re married.

Is this too much to expect? Is this an impossible obstacle to overcome? These basic steps to success — and, if you’re born into poverty, escaping it is a major success — do not require exceptional ability, nor is their value negated by racial prejudice or other disadvantages any individual may face. However, what these steps do require are good behavioral habits, such as patience and a willingness to endure short-term difficulty in order to achieve long-term goals. Anyone who’s ever had an entry-level, low-wage job has had to deal with the common hardships involved, being bossed around while doing menial tasks. Having spent two years driving a forklift in an industrial warehouse after I’d graduated college, I’m quite familiar with the mental toughness required to endure such work.

The key point here is that, if you wish to have nice things, you must develop certain behavioral habits, and that much of what liberals decry as “oppression” is actually the consequence of bad choices made by people who failed in basic ways. What do you notice about this photograph?

Yes, of course you notice the crime-scene tape and the two police cruisers, but what else? Here’s what I see — it’s a nice neighborhood.

These aren’t some neglected old tumble-down shacks. It’s not a trailer park or a public housing complex. It’s a middle-class suburban community with relatively new homes, well-kept lawns, etc. If one of my kids purchased a home in such a prosperous-looking neighborhood, I’d consider them to have done quite well for themselves.

This home is on Bentwood Drive, in Bullitt County, Kentucky, about 15 miles south of downtown Louisville. Tiffanie Lucas lived here:

Family members told WDRB News on Tuesday that they’ve cleaned out the home she was renting. They said it was filthy, with the utilities turned off and an eviction notice on the counter.

Oh, yes, she was a bad housekeeper. She also hadn’t been paying her rent or utilities. And while this is not why she’s in jail on $2 million bond, am I the only one who thinks this information is relevant to her case?

What do we know about Bullitt County, Kentucky? Whenever the news focuses on some situation of alleged “oppression” — whether it’s in Gaza or Baltimore — the location itself is depicted as one of complete hopelessness, as if geography had decreed that no one living there had any chance at a decent life. Yet we can look at the tidy lawns on Bentwood Drive and see that this is not such a place. According to the Census Bureau, the median household income in Bullitt County is $67,892, and the median home value is $182,000. Furthermore, the population of Bullitt County is about 93% white, so it’s not the kind of place where “social justice” activists would expect to find oppression. Yet here was Tiffanie Lucas living in a house she’d rented, where she was being evicted, the utilities had been turned off and the house was “filthy.”

By now, I’m sure some curious readers have done the Google search and learned that the reason Tiffanie Lucas, 32, is being held on $2 million bond is because she is accused of murdering her two sons, ages 9 and 6.

Do some more research, and you’ll learn that Tiffanie Lucas had a history of using drugs. Also — this seems relevant — her two sons had two different fathers, and it doesn’t seem she married either one.

Perhaps now readers understand why I went on that digression about Charles Murray’s Losing Ground, because Tiffanie Lucas made some choices that had consequences. Almost anyone can avoid poverty if they do a few basic things right and having children out of wedlock is a basic error which, although it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doomed, certainly suggests that your behavioral habits are problematic.

And also: “CLEAN YOUR ROOM!”

Far be it from me, with my messy desk, to hold myself up as an exemplar of tidiness, a role model of efficient housekeeping. However, when your own family denounces your house as being “filthy,” this suggests a very basic failure. We don’t know for certain if Tiffanie Lucas was on a drug binge or perhaps suffering from some kind of psychiatric problem, but it appears that it had been a long time since she did the kind of basic work necessary to keep her home livable. People make choices, and these choices lead to consequences, which may include murder and prison.

Tiffanie Lucas’ friend says
‘killer mom’ had a ‘dark side’
and would ‘flip a switch’ before
she ‘murdered her two sons’

The Sun (U.K.)

What went wrong? Was this fate? Was it her destiny? Was there never any hope that Tiffanie Lucas could have had a better life?

When I was a young man, I was full of wild and reckless ambition. My dream was to become a multimillionaire rock star, to record a string of platinum-selling albums, tour the world, marry Brooke Shields and retire by age 30 to enjoy my wealth in a mansion on my own private island.

Readers may laugh at this, but I was very serious about it — driving a forklift in an industrial warehouse, saving up to buy a P.A. system for my band — and my idea was, “Why bother with small dreams?”

Things didn’t work out the way I’d planned, of course, and becoming a mere journalist would have once seemed to me a great disappointment, but certainly I’ve succeeded in many ways that others might envy. My lovely wife and I have raised six children and now have five grandchildren, and in my maturity, I’ve come to appreciate the value of something I once viewed with disdain, i.e., middle-class respectability.

If you asked me what I want for my children and grandchildren, that’s it in a nutshell. Becoming a reputable, law-abiding member of the bourgeoisie is a worthy goal, and achieving this goal has become more difficult than it was when I was growing up in the middle-class suburbs of Atlanta, where adults lived by the old-fashioned rules, and expected their kids to do the same. Because I was a wild and rebellious child, I chafed under the yoke of these rules, and because middle-class life seemed so ordinary — living in a place where nearly everybody was middle class — it didn’t strike me as something to dream about achieving. Somewhere in the past 50 years, however, even as I have found satisfaction in the small pleasures of bourgeois life, the old-fashioned rules of my parents’ generation have been forgotten, and society seems to be breaking down as a result. “A disaster of biblical proportions,” indeed.

Readers are welcome to draw their own inferences from the sad case of Tiffanie Lucas — why did her mother spell her name that way? — and some may find relevance in information that I have omitted, but I return to my original point, that people make choices and these choices have consequences. Failing to anticipate such cause-and-effect sequences in one’s individual life can lead to very bad outcomes. When this kind of misguided decision-making becomes commonplace in a society, when harmful behavioral patterns are so tolerated as to become normalized, the results can be catastrophic. It occurs to me that American society is approaching the point at which “mass hysteria” is to be expected.

Dr. Peter Venkman could not be reached for comment.