The king welcomes Matthew Peterson, the cofounder of New Founding, a commercial and cultural union for the American people. Matt is also President of the Firebrand Super PAC, Publisher of RETURN, and has a great new podcast you can find here. Before all this, he founded The American Mind, which rapidly became influential among select political, tech, and media figures since its start in 2018.

Jon then discusses some international news including Giorgia Meloni’s big win in Italy and the strange damage done to the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines. Subscribe to the King of Stuff Spotify playlist featuring picks from the show. This week, Jon recommends “Change with the Sun” by Italian trio Soviet Soviet.

When the FBI Shows Up at Your Door . . .

 

Why would the FBI come to your house?

There are a number of possible reasons.  They range from the possibility that they are looking for someone who does not live there anymore, to looking for information about another person, to looking to interview a target or even make an arrest. Perhaps you were at home, and the FBI agent has told you some things about your connection to the investigation and you are wondering if you can take the agent’s statements at face value. Or, perhaps you have already agreed to speak with federal agents, and you are wondering if you have made a grievous error.

These are alarming times. We continue to hear stories of the FBI confronting citizens who have not committed crimes to all appearances, but who have offended the powers-that-be in the political realm. These are folks who are stopping at a fast-food drive-thru, or who are on vacation with their families, or who are confronted at their homes by multiple FBI agents with guns drawn. The FBI’s goals are clearly to intimidate those they’ve accosted, but the interactions can be frightening and bewildering. In other words, they’ve accomplished their mission.

The days of respecting the FBI have been over for quite a long time. In all likelihood, the organization never fully recovered from the times of J. Edgar Hoover. And today, anyone—anyone—could be an FBI target. So, I decided it would be common sense to prepare for an exchange with the FBI.

You might think that you could never be an FBI target. Let me suggest, however, that if you write on Twitter, Facebook, or on other social media sites, you could be in the sights of the FBI. If you post photos that could be considered “controversial” or at odds with the Biden government, you could be seen as an adversary.

Even writing on Ricochet could make you vulnerable.

So let me share some suggestions, which are not in any way intended to be legal advice, if the FBI shows up at your door.

The foremost advice that I found was never speak to government agents without an attorney present. Although this advice was given by a law firm, I think their advice is wise:

It is almost never to your advantage to speak to government agents without an attorney.  While we would not rule out the possibility that there might be situations–perhaps one out of a thousand–where you are losing some advantage by not talking to agents then and there, you are not in a position to objectively make that decision.

Federal agents may also try to convince you that it is safe to speak with them:

Federal agents receive extensive training on how to convince people to talk without their lawyers and they can be very intimidating and/or persuasive.  We have represented many clients who came away from interviews thinking they had been promised a particular outcome and were later displeased to learn this was not the case.

The bottom line is that the agents’ only goal is to secure the evidence they need for their investigation.  They are not there to protect your rights and interests.

And you could be in serious trouble if you have lied to agents:

Let’s say you have already spoken to federal agents and did not tell the whole truth.  Maybe you left some things out or fudged a few details.  Or, maybe you spun a tale that was (in technical legal jargon) ‘total BS.’

The bad news is that you have probably broken the law by doing so.  To be sure, you are not required to speak to law enforcement. But, if you do so, you must tell the truth.  Lying to federal agents could result in false statements.  Many a famous case involved a defendant who was never proven guilty of an underlying criminal offense but nonetheless went down for lying to investigators or to the grand jury (Alger Hiss, Barry Bonds, Michael Flynn, Martha Stewart, etc.).

And last, you won’t be able to change your statement:

FBI agents typically do not record their conversations with targets or witnesses because early in the 1950s it was established that FBI agents go through a rigid selection and security clearance process. In return, they are presumed to be credible when it comes to ‘their’ story versus ‘your’ recollection of the conversation. Further, agents typically show up in a team of two, with one agent playing ‘good’ cop and one agent being more of an observer who takes g notes. So, you are also outnumbered. In addition, investigating agents are required to contemporaneously write a memorandum about each interview they conduct to capture all details of a conversation.

*     *     *     *

I’m not trying to make anyone paranoid. And I certainly don’t want anyone to stop writing; sharing your ideas provides a valuable benefit for our citizens. As they say, however, desperate times call for desperate measures. And common sense goes a long way to helping us be prepared in an unpredictable and violent world.

Just be safe. And smart.

…and Just Like That, the Nordstrom Pipelines Went Kaboom!

 

Last night, the twin pipelines supplying Russian natural gas to Germany blew up.  Specifically, they were both breached below the surface of the Baltic Sea, near Danish and Swedish territorial waters.  Almost certainly sabotage, based both on the time coincidence, and a Swedish seismologist’s estimate that at least 100kg of explosive was used.

This sabotage was not a trivial exercise.  It would presumably require a ROV, large underwater drone and/or a submarine to place the charges accurately.  There’s a limited supply of such equipment and expertise. And it would likely require a large enough team that it will eventually leak, even if there’s no obvious forensic information to be gathered.

Qui bono?  Certainly Ukraine. Russia’s ability to use energy blackmail against Germany in particular and Europe in general has been eliminated at a stroke. But they are notably short of a navy and the required equipment and experts.

By the same token, unlikely to be official Russian actions. Putin’s ability to turn the tap on and off at will was just eliminated.  Much is being made by the fact that it happened the same day a new gas pipeline from Scandinavia to the mainland was opened, but you don’t generally threaten your enemy’s asset by destroying your own.

But Russia does have the necessary equipment and expertise, so there’s a chance that a military faction that wants to get rid of Putin but has no way to directly confront him would comprise his negotiating position in a reversible fashion (pipelines can be repaired).

After that, the circle gets pretty wide. The US certainly has the required abilities, as likely do the UK, France, and a few others.  Any pipeline or marine salvage company probably also could pull it off in a pinch, but keeping that secret would be hard, I’d think.

So the strategic background to Ukraine vs. Russia just shifted dramatically, and we don’t yet know who or why.

Beware the Whig Left

 

Despite what you’ve been told, the American left is not composed of people who hate the country and want to see its institutions burned to the ground in an orgy of rage. Oh, sure, those people exist — but they’re not the whole left. Not even most of the left. Nor are they, on their own, all that dangerous, since burn-it-down-style radicalism inevitably runs up against the natural human desire for peace and order. (Even in Seattle, CHAZ could last only so long.) No, the great majority of Americans who identify with the left belong to a different faction: the whigs.

When I say “whig,” I’m not talking about powdered faux hair or the Democratic Party’s long-lost rival or British parliamentary politics. I’m talking about those Americans — and there are many of them — who take a whiggish view of the country’s history. Such people consider themselves patriotic. They hang red, white, and blue flags from their porches. They watch fireworks shows and march in July 4 parades. They swoon at the sight of military regalia. They flock to old battlefields and can rattle off facts about Benjamin Franklin and the Constitutional Convention. They also believe that Elizabeth Warren is the fullest expression of the Lincolnian spirit and that gas-powered cars must be abolished, lest life on Earth end.

If the whig left had a creed, it might be this: Social change is America’s genius. Resistance to social change is illegitimate and un-American. The Democratic Party, as the progressive party, is the natural steward for the best parts of American history — a history that consists of a series of virtuous struggles against oppression: the oppression of the British crown, the oppression of slavery, the oppression of the patriarchy, the oppression of unbridled capitalism, the oppression of the Jim Crow regime, the oppression of homophobia, the oppression of immigration restriction, and so on.

Our present-day struggles against systemic racism, climate change, Trump’s subversion of the democratic process, and Republican assaults on women’s right to choose and queer and transgender persons’ right to be included are merely today’s manifestations of the same old problem. After all, our great-great-grandmothers didn’t make the trek to Seneca Falls just so that we could be forced to stand barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen! We defeated the South (that backward hellhole!) once, and we can do it again!

Joe Biden’s misbegotten “Dark Brandon” speech is a prime example of whig leftism in action. Many in the commentariat misunderstood the lines about abortion and traditional marriage. When Biden tarred pro-life politics as fascism, he wasn’t just making a cynical calculation with an eye toward the November elections. No, he was expressing a widely held view among members of the American elite: that socially conservative beliefs have no place in the public square. They’re an aberration. Some ideas that were supposed to be dead and buried. The Democratic Party platform is America, and America is the Democratic Party platform.

And in a sense, they’re right. Because whig leftism is the American creed. It’s what all unelected leaders in major American institutions, private and public, believe. It’s what the head of the local chamber of commerce believes. It’s what the military officer class believes. It’s what every curator in every D.C. museum and every state historical society believes. It’s what every newspaper editor believes. It’s what every librarian believes. It’s what every professor believes. It’s what the school systems teach. It’s embedded in every part of civil society. It’s even encoded in the law itself. Only in some churches (not the Mainline Protestant ones), some weirdo classical schools, and, of course, the elected government itself will you find holdouts. But most who dissent belong to the disaffiliated, disorganized, and dysfunctional masses.

Perhaps it’s time for us conservatives to face reality: It’s not our country.

Quote of the Day: Taking Aimless

 

“Sometimes being aimless helps you discover where to aim.” — Russ Roberts

All the talk these days about frivolous college studies has me remembering some of my endeavors at the University of California, Santa Barbara, 1977-1981, that would make me question the academic and career seriousness of a kid doing so today.

  • Started as an English major, the original “What are you going to do with THAT?” major.
  • Took a class on popular culture that mostly involved watching classic movies (hey, it’s where I fell in love with Casablanca, so money well spent!).
  • Took a class that attempted to teach French through the watching of French movies.
  • Crocheted during my classes instead of taking notes.
  • When I didn’t know the answer in an essay test, wrote a short story in which characters debated the two possible answers.
  • Took up a professor’s challenge to memorize the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” instead of taking a final exam.
  • Switched to a Literature major in the College of Creative Studies, a ’60s holdover with no grades and no tests.
  • Took a class called “Undergraduate Bibles,” which included Catcher in the Rye and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and … something by Tom Robbins, maybe Even Cowgirls Get the Blues?
  • Wrote a paper on Doonesbury, complete with comic strips Scotch-taped onto my typed pages as quotations.
  • When looking in the job placement office for my post-college career starter, filled out a portfolio for a job at Hallmark Cards just because it seemed hilarious to me.
  • Got the job, worked there a year and a half, then left because it was intolerable that they would not do things my way but instead fell back on their, you know, decades and decades of profitable business experience.

And even now, when I’m an old lady and would like young people to get off my lawn and also stop majoring in gender studies, I have to admit that this sort of nonsense worked for me. Maybe I’m a little sorry that it’s no longer financially feasible to be kinda unfocused and unserious and aimless in one’s college studies and early career. Just another of the billion or so reasons to Make College Affordable Again.

When Reality Is Optional: Mage and Post-modernism

 

“The ordinary modes of human thinking are magical, religious, social, and personal. We want our wishes to come true; we want the universe to care about us; we want the approval of those around us; we want to get even with that s.o.b. who insulted us at the last tribal council. For most people, wanting to know the cold truth about the world is way, way down the list.”– John Derbyshire

I am starting to think that every social ‘science’ can either be understood through tabletop RPGs or Russian Literature. Mage: The Ascension is a tabletop RPG that explains the post-modernism and current Wokeism by describing a fictional universe of magic. 

Perhaps the most fascinating things about Mage: The Ascension is its take on science and the technology that utilizes it. Apparently, reality in the Mage universe isn’t static and neither are physical laws. Much of reality, if not all of it is as debatable as what gender you are on a university campus. Regular people are referred to as sleepers and conventional physics are whatever sleepers think it is. Mages are people who realize that an intense application of will can alter the rules of reality. So your cellphone doesn’t work because it followers the natural rules of the physical universe. It works because people agree that the engineers and tech geeks know what they are talking about. Mages are like shamans or voodoo doctors who can ask spirits to make your sword stronger in battle or to make your crops grow with vigor.

Now you may be asking me, “Henry. What does all this nerdy MAGE stuff have to do with Wokism or science.” Well, everything actually. All these stories relate to magical thinking.

The Magic of Sacrifice

Why do environmentalists believe that windmills and solar panels will fix everything? Because they think that sacrifice and belief will change the physical realities on the ground. Real science nerds do all the calculations about how much it would take to transfer to a green economy and then they touch their glasses (anime meme) and explain how getting rid of fossil fuels without nuclear energy will lead to food shortages that make Venezuelan agriculture look like Ukrainian wheat farms without Russian intervention. The environmentalist response to all these stubborn facts is that they just don’t care enough. This makes sense from a magical and religious point of view.

In the movie, Memoir of a Geisha, the titular character sacrifices a sum of money that can buy a week’s worth of food to a benevolent god. She does this despite the fact that she is quite poor. She does this because she needs to make a serious sacrifice in order to get a serious return on her divine investment. How many times have you heard leftists say that we could cure cancer if we only spent a few more hundreds of billions on research? That policy position comes from the religious notion of sacrifice.

Quite often, the more powerful spells in the game need some sort of sacrifice to work. Usually, you have to spend money to get super fancy ingredients and a few days doing rituals. But the more extreme spells included physical dismemberment. Eating bugs in order to cast the spell to make the world healthy.

Divine Punishment

It is not uncommon throughout the ancient world to think that the poor and the dispossessed deserve their suffering somehow. As old as this idea is, I shall show that it never really went away. Just check out Job 4 with Eliphaz the Temanite. 

Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed. The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the fierce lion, and the teeth of the young lions, are broken.

Eliphaz the Temanite isn’t an unusual character. Romans and Vikings thought that slavery was justified by nature and most Hindu and some Buddhist theology has a disturbing idea that the poorer castes deserve their misery.

Science, economics, and the enlightenment suggest that the material universe doesn’t act morally. The forces of the weather sometimes create hurricanes that hurt people who live in climates that are conducive to hurricanes. The morals and behaviour of the hurricane victims aren’t relevant according to the enlightened view.

Compare that with global warming. Environmentalists clearly view global warming and any adverse weather phenomenon with the Earth Goddess Gaea punishing us for our transgressions. It reminds me of Renaissance European peasants who, under the plague, went around whipping themselves and burning down synagogues because they thought G-d was mad at them. Greens want to harass oil executives and make you live without air conditions and eat bugs. In both situations, the unrighteous must be punished and the totems of evil (Jews or fossil fuels) must be excised before the divine punishes us.

The Power of Magic Words

Speaking magic words was also a common part of magic throughout world history. Take, for example, the European ritual of a black mass. In medieval times, some would pay a corrupt priest to recite the funeral rites of your enemy so he can trick the angels and the spirits into believing that your enemy is dead. How this works with G-d knowing and judging everything I haven’t the slightest idea, but it was a thing that happened.

Names were believed to possess great power in the East as well. Bruce Lee had a girl’s name, I believe, to confuse evil spirits. Depending on how someone is named, fate might change for them according to Chinese superstition.

Many illiterate tribes refused to tell outsiders their real names because knowing someone’s name can give you power over them. Demons can be exorcised if you know their real name in Christian traditions.

It is pretty safe to say that names are very important things whenever humanity uses magical thinking. This brings us to the Left’s obsession with names.

The most obvious obsession is dead-naming. The similarities, even in the term itself, are uncanny as a Spiderman comic book. When someone changes their name, they can become a different gender. However, when someone uses another person’s dead name, they are conjuring the gender of who they were previously. This is why leftists are so freaked out about deadnaming and consider it violence (check out the Triggernometry interview). According to the Mage rules, a consensus needs to be established or transgender people will detransition through name magic. Noticeably, more conservative trans people seem to be much less freaked out by deadnaming.

However, recent events have also shown the superstitious fear that the left holds concerning names. Illegal immigrants into undocumented people or migrants. Buying people tickets to Martha’s Vineyard is human trafficking and Republicans worried about election security are fascists and the economy isn’t actually in a recession.

Leftism is often described as a religion and I believe that interpretation. I wrote one of Dr. Bastiat’s favorite Ricochet essays of that year about the subject after all. However, Leftism is far more than a replacement for religion. It is a replacement for community for patriotism and tribalism and, as I have discussed in this essay, magical and emotional thinking.

We will never get rid of human nature unless we undergo generations of genetic engineering and even then I suspect the wisdom of the Bible, Aesop’s fables, and Shakespeare will still be relevant. Mark Twain said “History Doesn’t Repeat Itself, but It Often Rhymes.” As Christianity and Judaism fade from the Left, even the superstitions that attend to those beliefs are transferred to the religion of Wokeism. While I don’t much care for any superstitions, at least religions can offer some guidance and mitigation to the worst parts of superstition. Wokeism has no such history.

With Winter Coming, 20 Million Americans Are Behind on their Utility Bills.

 

A favorite polling firm is TIPP Insights, which has been conducting public opinion surveys such as the IBD/TIPP poll for about 30 years. I follow their work closely. Their polling of the 2016 presidential election (Trump v. Hillary) was spot on.

This weekend, they published the results of a new survey that should scare incumbent Democratic officeholders on the ballot on November 8th, at least the ones (all of them in Congress) who voted to hose the economy with over $5 trillion in inflationary spending over the past two years and are still at it (and that’s not counting the trillions spent during the pandemic when the Trump Administration shut down the economy). Our money supply (M2) has grown more than 40 percent since February 2020. Even most Democrats blame Biden’s policies for runaway inflation. Yelling “Donald Trump!” and “Abortion!” and other shiny objects isn’t going to save them.

“…Inflation is taking its toll and not sparing anyone,” TIPP concludes their analysis of their latest survey. “Americans are coping in various ways, including cutting back on food, driving, etc. Real wages have fallen for 17 months in a row. The average American household spends $5,400 a year due to inflation. With many Americans living paycheck to paycheck, finding the extra cash to pay is a big challenge.”

And it’s not just TIPP expressing their opinion. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) agrees. “Inflation has cut into the finances of the middle class more than that of low- and high-income households, according to a CBO report from Sept. 22,” reported the Epoch Times.

 

And Americans are likely to know when they cast ballots (early voting began in Virginia last Friday) that inflation is not alone in driving up their utility bills – Joe Biden and the Democrats’ energy policies have also wreaked havoc, from the cancellation of the KXL pipeline from Canada to federal and offshore oil and gas leases. They saw Joe Biden begging Saudi Arabia for oil when, during the Trump Administration, America reached energy independence, with a national average of $2.25 per gallon of gas the month Trump departed the White House. As TIPP noted, recent declines from record high gasoline prices come from people simply forgoing travel and consolidating trips. Those increases began well before (and were exacerbated by) Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Energy costs are a major factor in every facet of food production, from fertilizer to packaging and logistics. And Biden Administration regulators want to make that worse with burdensome and expensive supply chain reporting mandates. Nutty left-wing governments like New Jersey’s didn’t stop with bans on plastic bags in grocery stores – they now ban paper bags, and force stressed consumers to buy reusable bags that present food safety issues. Higher food prices also signal food shortages. Political unrest won’t be far behind. Ask Sri Lanka.

 

And Winter isn’t even here yet. Given supply constraints and growing urgency, policy options are limited. Watch the Biden Administration propose more federal subsidies under an expanded LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) and dare Congress to kill it, coupled with a new round of demonization of utility and energy companies. But nothing to increase our energy supply and decrease supply chain costs.

Read the whole thing here:

Americans Worry About Utility Bills Amid Bidenflation

Under President Biden’s watch, electricity has increased by 22%, and utility/piped gas services have increased by 47%.

TIPPINSIGHTS EDITORIAL BOARD

September 24, 2022. 7:40 AM

As Bidenflation rages like wildfire at 12.6%, two-thirds (65%) of Americans are concerned about their ability to pay utility bills. The shocking finding comes from the Investor’s Business Daily/TIPP Poll of 1,277 Americans completed early September.

Overall, energy prices have increased 43% since February 2021, the month after President Biden took office. Under President Biden’s watch, electricity is up by 22%, and utility/piped gas services are up by 47%. We computed the increases using the August CPI data but rebased to Feb 2021.

The situation is dire. Bloomberg recently reported that more than 20 million households are behind on utility bills. The suppliers will likely take action against delinquent customers and shut off their power.  Such action would present hardship in the coming winter.

 

The IBD/TIPP Poll asked Americans: How concerned are you about the ability to pay your utility bills? The results:

  • 35% are very concerned,

  • 30% are somewhat concerned,

  • 17% are not very concerned,

  • 14% are not at all concerned, and

  • 3% are not sure.

 

Under The Hood

Our data analysis of 36 demographic groups shows that the sentiment is universal. Interestingly, except for one,  all other 35 groups shared the concern. The only demographic group with less than 50% expressing concern was those aged 65 and up (48%).

Concerns were shared by 64% of those in the Northeast, 64% in the Midwest, 66% in the South, and 63% in the West. Further, 66% of urban, 61% of suburban, and 67% of rural respondents are worried.

The groups with over 70% concerned are aged 25-44 (74%) and households with $30K to $50K income (72%).

 

 

Implications

The TIPP Poll results support the data from the U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey conducted mid-August.  An analysis of the Census Bureau data by the Help Advisor website showed that:

  • One in four (26%) Americans reduced basic expenses such as food and medicine to pay their energy bills in the last 12 months.

  • One in six (16%) adults report having kept their home at a temperature that felt unsafe or unhealthy in the past year due to rising energy costs.

  • In some states, the percentage of residents sacrificing basic needs to pay energy bills is significantly higher than the national average.

In summary, inflation is taking its toll and not sparing anyone. Americans are coping in various ways, including cutting back on food, driving, etc. Real wages have fallen for 17 months in a row. The average American household spends $5,400 a year due to inflation. With many Americans living paycheck to paycheck, finding the extra cash to pay is a big challenge.

A Simple Way to Help Kids Recover from Covid School Closures

 

Last week in the Wall Street Journal, one of their columnists who rarely appears elsewhere did a short, very interesting op-ed column.  The columnist is Meghan Cox Gurdon, their reviewer of children’s books.  As long as I have been reading and enjoying her columns, she has supported and encouraged reading aloud to children from an early age.  Well, it turns out that reading aloud to your kids is an excellent way of improving their reading comprehension, which so many public school kids missed in the past two years.  She cited a study showing that measures of reading skill improved when the kids had been read aloud to.

The results were astounding.  Morale and test results soared.  Children who hated English lessons, who had experienced literature as daunting and indigestible, were practically running into the classroom to find out what was going to happen next in the stories.  Seventeen of the educators used the word “joy” to describe their own experiences of this unorthodox teaching method.  When the children were given reading-comprehension tests afterward, average readers had made 8.5 months of progress while poorer students had made 16 months of progress.  As the study authors observed: “Simply reading challenging, complex novels aloud and at a fast pace in each lesson repositioned ‘poorer readers’ as ‘good readers’, giving them a more engaged uninterrupted reading experience over a sustained period”.

I can testify to this from my own experience in grade-school.  Our sixth-grade teacher read novels aloud to us after lunch every day, and we all listened raptly.  The rambunctious boys in the class quieted right down when the teacher read to us.  Even as an adult, early in our marriage Ray used to read novels aloud to me just before bedtime.  I would often fall asleep before he was done, indicating how relaxing listening made me.

So, parents, if you are struggling with kids who have suffered from the government school closures, here’s an easy way to help them gain back lost learning.

Losing My Religion

 

No, I’m not turning away from my faith in Jesus, which began when I reached the ripe old age of 36, back in early 2004. The religion that I’m losing is the American religion that might be called “We Won The War.”

This may be a troubling post for some of you.  I’m pretty confident that I would have found it very troubling and offensive, myself, about five to ten years ago. I’d appreciate a critique of these thoughts.

So, back to “We Won The War.” I take this phrase from a 2018 book by Peter Hitchens called The Phoney Victory.  I highly recommend it. Peter Hitchens is the younger brother of the famous atheist Christopher Hitchens. Like his brother, Peter was a Marxist in his youth, of the Trotskyite variety, but unlike his brother, Peter ultimately turned to conservatism and Christianity. He has an interesting story, told in more detail in another book, The Rage Against God.

Peter Hitchens writes about the British version of this religion or mythology, “We Won The War.”  It comes complete with a Savior, Winston Churchill, and an antichrist, Adolph Hitler.  Looking back, it seems that I was raised in this religion.  Interestingly, for me, even the American version identified Churchill, rather than FDR, as the Savior.  In my case, I was such a big fan of Churchill that I read and re-read his Memoirs of the Second World War, his book about WWI (The World Crisis), and his History of the English-Speaking Peoples.

Today, I’m inclined to view Churchill as a brilliant propagandist.  This has led me to question many of the WWI and WWII narratives that Churchill promoted.

I think that the narrative starts with the idea of German guilt for WWI, which I now view as quite misplaced.  The work of recent WWI historians like Michael Neiberg and Christopher Clark has been particularly significant for me on this issue.  (Both have excellent lectures available on YouTube, if you’re interested.)  My current view is that Russia is principally to blame for the expansion of the war, which otherwise would have been a localized Balkan conflict between Austria and Serbia.  The Austrians mobilized first, against Serbia, and then the Russians mobilized against both Austria and Germany.

It may seem strange that Germany responded to Russian mobilization by attacking France, but this was strategically understandable, as Russia and France were allied against Germany.  Technically, as far as anyone knew, the Russo-French alliance was defensive only, so France was not obligated to join in Russia’s war against Germany.  But: (1) Germany had no way to know whether there was a secret agreement, and (2) in any event, it would have been very risky for France to allow Russia to face the Germans and Austrians alone, as a Russian defeat would leave France vulnerable.

So, in August 1914, the Germans launched a massive assault on France, hoping to drive France out of the war.  The Germans succeeded with this strategy in 1870 and 1940, but not in 1914.

Britain’s entry into the war is also questionable.  If I remember correctly, Niall Ferguson wrote a book (The Pity of War) placing blame for WWI on the British, for intervening unnecessarily.  I don’t place the bulk of the blame on Britain, but I do agree that British involvement further expanded the conflict, and probably made it more difficult to settle.  It also led to dubious British actions like the starvation blockade of Germany, an action generally considered to be something akin to a war crime at the time.

The US entry into the war was odd, though the Germans didn’t help themselves with the absurd Zimmerman Telegram.  (The Zimmerman Telegram, for those not familiar with this particular historical tidbit, was a telegram from Germany to Mexico seeking an alliance against the US, and offering Mexico recovery of US territory in the southwest taken by the US in the 1840s.)

Wilson campaigned in 1916 on his success in keeping us out of the war, then plunged us into the war in 1917, and compounded the problem with his unrealistic ideas about the shape of a post-WWI Europe.

The Russians, of course, collapsed into an eventual Communist revolution, and lost huge territories in the east to Germany.  Germany, though, was defeated in the west, in large part due to the pressure of the British starvation blockade, and also due to the US entry into the war.  I think that there is some justice in the German claim that they were misled into a cease-fire based on some fairly mild terms (or rhetoric) offered by Wilson, while the actual Treaty of Versailles was more punitive than the Germans had some right to expect.

The worst part, though, was the collapse of the imperial system in eastern Europe, which had been pretty stable for about a century (aside from the catastrophe of WWI, of course).  The victorious Western Allies declared the principle of the “self-determination of peoples,” and carved a variety of small, largely defenseless nations out of the former territories of the Austrian, Russian, and German empires.  (Less from the Germans than the others, though it did include that Danzig corridor that so annoyed them later.)

Worse still, once the principle of “self-determination” was established, the Germans would naturally expect this to apply to them, as well.  Austria sought to unite with Germany, an action that the Western Allies would not allow, and there were significant German minorities in Czechoslovakia and Poland.  This set the stage for Hitler’s actions in the years preceding WWII.

Hitler is often portrayed as a madman.  I don’t see any madness in his plan.  It was ruthless.  He accurately perceived a problem faced by the German nation: inadequate natural resources, especially farmland and oil.  He targeted Ukraine and the Caucasus as the regions that could satisfy these requirements.  Conveniently, these areas were ruled by the horrid Soviets, so Hitler might have expected relatively little objection from the West.

Not so, as it turned out, though the British and French were slow to react to Hitler’s initial moves.  I think that the legitimate German grievances relating to the post-WWI borders of the newly-created Poland and Czechoslovakia explains much of this British and French reticence to act, through the Munich Conference in 1938.

The fate of Czechoslovakia is more complex than it is typically portrayed (though to his credit, Churchill does point out the connivance of Poland).  After the agreed German annexation of the Sudetenland, both Poland and Hungary took chunks out of Czechoslovakia, and then Slovakia declared independence.  Hitler then moved into the power vacuum in the rump Czech state, and ended up forming alliances with Slovakia and Hungary.

I have come to view the British guarantee to Poland, shortly in advance of the German invasion in 1939, as a bizarre action.  Hitchens makes this point, at length, in The Phoney Victory.  The British and French had no practical way to defend Poland, and it’s hard to see why they thought that it was very important.  Poland had been partitioned between the Germans, Russians, and Austrians for about a century before WWI.  Poland was in the path of Hitler’s planned invasion of the Soviet Union, which was hardly a secret after the publication of Mein Kampf.

So why was Britain — and especially Churchill — so keen to defend Poland?  It drew them into a disastrous war, which resulted in British bankruptcy and the loss of the Empire.  What was the point?  To defend Stalin?  Stalin, by the way, ended up as the major victor of WWII.

Many of Hitler’s outrages seem to have flowed from this British decision.  The French joined the British, but my impression is that the British were leading the way.  I don’t see any reason for Hitler to have invaded Denmark, or Norway, or the Low Countries, or France, absent the foolish guarantee to Poland and the Anglo-French declarations of war on Germany.  (It appears that Hitler invaded Denmark and Norway to forestall British efforts to cut off Swedish iron shipments via Norway’s coastal waters, which led the British to commit an act of war by mining the territorial waters of then-neutral Norway.)

Hitchens reports something that I don’t recall reading or hearing before, about the American attitude toward Britain at the start of WWII.  Apparently, we were quite annoyed at the British for having defaulted on their WWI debt.  We agreed to supply Britain and France in their war with Hitler’s Germany, but demanded cash payment — and gold — right up until a de facto bankruptcy hearing for the British Empire before our Secretary of the Treasury.  Confident that the British had paid us all that they could, we then adopted Lend-Lease and started supplying arms and war material to Germany’s enemies.

For free.

Gee, I wonder why Hitler ended up being annoyed at us?

Then there’s Japan’s war in China.  Japan was bogged down in a land war in China for years, and we were making good money on the consequent trade, especially in oil.  But for some reason, FDR decided that we couldn’t stand for Japan to rule part of China.  You know, much the way that we were then ruling the Philippines.  So FDR embargoed oil sales (and other exports) to Japan, an action that would cripple the Japanese war effort.

I don’t recall reading or hearing an analysis of the response that FDR’s administration expected from the Japanese.  It should have been pretty obvious that the Japanese would need an alternative source of oil, conveniently available to them in the Dutch East Indies and British Malaya, which were virtually defenseless at the time.  (The Dutch had been conquered by the Germans, and the British had their hands full fighting the Germans and the Italians.)  A Japanese attack toward the East Indies, though, would open the Japanese flank to American forces in the Philippines, a risky move for the Japanese.  So it seems, to me, that it should have been no surprise for the Japanese to conclude that the least-bad of their options was an attack on the US.  This was provoked by FDR, in violation of the principle of free trade declared by FDR himself in the Atlantic Charter, just a few months earlier in August 1941.

Further, what was the uniting factor behind our eventual Axis opponents, Germany, Italy, and Japan?  They were part of the Anti-Comintern Pact, an alliance specifically aimed at the tyrannical and potentially expansionist Soviet Union.  Why would Britain — or the US — want to take the Soviet side in such a conflict?

I’ve rambled for quite a while here.  This is all pretty complicated, I think, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of the events leading to the two catastrophic wars of the 20th Century.

The story that we’re taught, though, is very simple.  Hitler was a madman and a monster, launching wars of “aggression.”  So was Mussolini, in a smaller and more contemptible way.  Why, Mussolini had the temerity to conquer Ethiopia, outraging the British and the French.  That’s right, the British and the French, who between them ruled just about all of the rest of Africa at the time.  Let’s not forget Japan, portrayed as a Yellow Menace that was somehow going to be invading California soon, and which supposedly attacked us for absolutely no reason.

It is interesting to see people objecting to Putin’s potentially cutting off supplies of oil and gas to Europe, a tactic apparently considered perfectly fine when we did it to Japan in 1941.

They were evil, we were good.  The brave British, especially, were good, led by the indomitable Savior Churchill.  You know, the Churchill who imposed the starvation blockade on the Germans in WWI.  The Churchill whose failed Dardanelles campaign aimed at the massive naval bombardment of the Turkish civilian population of Istanbul.  The Churchill who illegally mined those Norwegian territorial waters, then expressed outrage at the German invasion that this triggered.  The Churchill who presided over the deliberate terror-bombing of women and children in German cities.

I’m not claiming that the Axis were a bunch of great guys.  They did terrible things.  So did our side, which included Stalin’s Evil Empire.  War is hell.

There’s no changing the past.  We might be able to learn a lesson, and the lesson that I’ve come to learn is the wisdom of our Founders, who cautioned against involvement in foreign wars.  They are costly in blood and treasure.  We often have little understanding of the cultures and nations involved, but are inclined to want to force our ways on them.  Perhaps worst of all, if we take sides and help one side win — the Soviets in WWII, for example — we might find out that they are just about as bad as the side that we opposed.

Moreover, the policy of “unconditional surrender” adopted in WWII eliminated three major checks on Soviet expansionism, placing the burden of the Cold War on us.  In hindsight, this seems like a bad decision.

It is impossible to be certain of the outcome of various alternative choices.  If Britain had not guaranteed Poland, what would have happened?  If we had not supplied Britain and the Soviets, or had not embargoed Japan, what would have happened?

My impression is that the general answer is something like: Germany and Japan would have conquered the world, and would have come after us.  Something like the premise of the Amazon series The Man in the High Tower.

I’ve come to doubt that this is true, and even to view it as a bit paranoid.  There are precious few examples of successful conquest of this type.  Most of the time, a conqueror becomes bogged down pacifying the territory it has occupied, and the occupation ends up being a drain on resources, not an addition.  This was true of the Soviet occupation of eastern Europe and Afghanistan.  It was true of our own occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.  It was true of Napoleon’s various conquests.

I’d be curious to hear from those of you who disagree with this.  I used to disagree with my present view, quite strongly.  Maybe some of you could address two issues:

  1. Part of the motivation for America’s 20th Century policy seems to be the promotion of “liberal democracy.”  Do you even like this?  The location of the most obvious success of this policy is Western Europe.  Do you like the EU?  Do you like its policies?  Do you like its culture, its focus on the Rainbow agenda, its undermining of traditional faith and culture, its crusade against Climate Change, its bureaucratic Leftism?
  2. Part of the motivation for America’s 20th-century policy seems to be a sense of pride for being defenders of, well, something.  The people that we like, it seems.  The French, and the Jews, and the Ukrainians (at the moment).  The Taiwanese.  Some of the Afghans and Iraqis, perhaps.

My new view of things still troubles me a bit, as it makes me far less inclined to think favorably of our country.  My old religion, “We Won The War,” was comforting in some ways.  It made me feel good about myself, and about America.  I just don’t buy it anymore.

‘Same-Sex Couple’ Does Not Equal ‘Two-Sex Couple’

 

Same-sex “marriage” is in discussion again, as the US Senate seems intent on forcing the issue further down the throats of resistant Americans. There are multiple arguments for why same-sex couples do not qualify for “marriage.” My primary argument is that same-sex couples cannot produce children.

Marriage is socially and legally recognized for couples of two sexes because such a couple may, even is likely to, create new life, i.e., produce children. Those children blend the two families from which the couple came into a new branch on the tree of humanity and perpetuate that blend far into the future. Throughout history and across cultures, it has been and is the expectation of children that drives marriage. “Romance” or “erotic love” are very late additions to the long and broad history of marriage, and not particularly central to why marriage exists.

“Marriage” establishes a social and legal framework so that the new branch on the tree of humanity formed by creating children not only does not wither and die, but grows and thrives. Society (and the law that society creates to govern human behavior) has both short-term and long-term interests in the children that a coupling by people of different sexes may produce. Short-term, we want a structure in which those children are more likely to be protected, housed, fed, clothed, etc. Long-term, we want a structure in which those children and their children on through the generations bolster the society into which they are born.

It is a biological certainty that a couple consisting of people of the same sex will not produce children. Their coupling will end no later than when one of them dies. Societies (especially ours in the US) have legal systems for contracts for people to form partnerships that involve themselves only, and exist during their lifetimes.

In times or cultures in which women might be limited in their ability to own or control property or to conduct business, marriage also helped to protect women from destitution. That’s not really a concern in 21st-century America. So we’re left with children (or at least the possibility of children) as the public justification for marriage.

“Marriage” exists because of the potential for children emanating from the couple. A same-sex couple cannot produce children. “Marriage” designed for two-sex couples should not be extended to same-sex couples.

Meloni, Mussolini, and the Media

 

Whenever Italy elects a right-of-center Prime Minister, the international press labels them a fascist and links them to Mussolini (coincidentally, the only Italian PM they’ve heard of). What was true for Silvio Berlusconi and Mario Draghi is true of their latest PM, Giorgia Meloni, elected over the weekend. To wit:

I’m no scholar in Italian politics, nor have I invested much time researching the 317 parties jockeying for control from Turin to Taranto. But considering the news media’s coverage of U.S. politics, I didn’t fall for their latest imprecation.

They claimed Ronald Reagan was a fascist. As was Bush Sr., Bush Jr., McCain, Romney, and Trump. As I type, the press is pivoting from “Trump is literally Hitler” to “DeSantis is even more Hitlery than Hitler.” Hell, they thought Liz Cheney was a fascist until a few years ago.

So, their track record is, let’s say, spotty. And provincial. Which is why our political press called Jair Bolsonaro “Brazil’s Trump” and Viktor Orbán “Hungary’s Trump.” They view every election around the world as a proxy battle on whatever Beltway buzz is circling the cubicles this week.

Let’s hear from Meloni herself in the 2019 speech that catapulted her to national fame:

The left hates her because they reflexively denigrate family, faith, and patriotism. All of these are bulwarks against government power, transnational finance, and the NGO-driven international monoculture. That just won’t do. There is no world but one and Klaus Schwab is its prophet.

Meloni disagrees, as do a growing number of voters around the world. Sweden ousted its leftist government two weeks ago. As Vox mewled:

Giorgia Meloni and her far-right Fratelli d’Italia are expected to lead a far-right victory in Italian elections this weekend. That win, if it happens, would come shortly after the far-right Sweden Democrats won the second-largest share of the vote, helping to oust the center-left from power and giving the far-right a potential role in the next government.

The far-right is far-right and that far-right beat the center-left. Booo, far-right.

The left is always characterized as the natural center, while the right lurks on the fringes. The people of Sweden, Italy, Hungary, Poland, and Denmark disagree, but what do they know about Europe compared to an asthmatic spoon-chest filing reports from a Park Slope kombucharie?

The best part of Meloni’s speech was her quoting G.K. Chesterton, a personal favorite. Here’s the full quote, from his book Heretics:

Everything will be denied. Everything will become a creed. It is a reasonable position to deny the stones in the street; it will be a religious dogma to assert them. It is a rational thesis that we are all in a dream; it will be a mystical sanity to say that we are all awake. Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer. We shall be left defending, not only the incredible virtues and sanities of human life, but something more incredible still, this huge impossible universe which stares us in the face. We shall fight for visible prodigies as if they were invisible. We shall look on the impossible grass and the skies with a strange courage. We shall be of those who have seen and yet have believed.

Next, they’ll be impugning Chesterton as an extremist. Wait, it’s already begun

The De-Bidenification of America

 

As the American left rapidly mutates into fascism (and I use that term literally) we need to face the fact that we do have a “systemic” problem and it ain’t racism. Do we need to be prepared to do to the left what they continue to do to us in education, law enforcement, and social and entertainment media?  How can we affect a de-Bidenification of America and still honor the values that define conservatism?

When the Nazis came to power in 1933, party officials, including the SA and SS, were given de facto police power to root out political enemies. In Biden’s America, party members (tech lords and DEI commissars) can de-platform, defund, fire, and otherwise silence dissent to an astonishing degree. The Biden administration had sought to place that delegated power under express government direction with a “disinformation czar” who could more formally empower those practices. Fortunately, the residual respect for the First Amendment was still strong enough to cause outrage.  (That the “czar” was an utterly ridiculous woman was also a blessing.)

In 1936, SS chief Heinrich Himmler became the national police chief and formalized the new order.  Uniformed cops, the “order police” still handled drunks, traffic violations, and petty crime.  Murder and serious crime were handled by the Kripo and political crimes were handled by the Gestapo (first formed in 1933 by Göring) but the entire law enforcement structure was bent to serve Nazi objectives.

In Biden’s America, federal law enforcement no longer enforces the border nor ramps up to combat the criminal activities (drugs, trafficking) related to that dereliction.  A whistleblower has claimed that the FBI is even removing resources from law enforcement in areas like child trafficking to increase its focus on the ever elusive “white supremacist” underground and “insurrectionists” now rather broadly defined.

However, unlike the Nazis, Biden has made the “order police” and routine law enforcement into political targets.  Violent and widespread petty crime are implicitly encouraged apparently in service to some warped partisan notion of appealing to low-income voters while simultaneously effecting a sustained demoralization of the middle class. In this instance, Biden resembles Hugo Chavez far more than Hitler or Mussolini.

But very much like the old European fascists, Biden’s henchmen running the FBI and DOJ are consciously recasting federal law enforcement into an instrument to suppress ideological dissidents which is fascism in its purest form.

So how do we De-Bidenify America once he is ousted in 2024? What can we do in the meantime?

It is profoundly un-American to criminalize political actions and beliefs.  While specific abuses like the Russiagate/Mueller Conspiracy, the metastasizing “insurrection” arrests and prosecutions, the COVID-pretextual authority misappropriations do require full investigation and maybe sanctions of some kind that will not be a fitting approach to the problem as a whole.

Several prospective outcomes offer hope and opportunity for corrective action (listed in inverse order of their importance):

(1) A GOP Congress would have the power to compel disclosures that the current congressional leadership has no interest in obtaining. In particular, Wray and Garland should spend the rest of their lives in a witness chair.  But more constructively, it is a chance to defund and delegitimize the left as much as possible until under President DeSantis it can be done on an appropriately large scale.

(2) The Supreme Court may well affirm and refine the 5th circuit’s decision that Texas can treat the tech lords like common carriers and bar viewpoint discrimination.  This can and should have far-reaching effects, especially if additional state and federal legislation solidifies First Amendment protections.  In particular, we need to be able to weaponize the plaintiffs’ bar to hammer and undo the fascist control over all media.

(3) The Supreme Court will likely remove the BS diversity loopholes that protect racial quotas in college admissions.  A lot of dominoes will fall if that bogus legal doctrine collapses. A flood of merit-valuing Asian-Americans in our top colleges will likely be a net boost to the nation and a barrier to more DEI thought control.  Perhaps the shock of limiting affirmative action will cause African-Americans to reassess the devil’s bargain in which they provide votes for corrupt politicians who deliver bad schools and horrible social environments in exchange for tokenism and hiring and admissions quotas.

A big part of de-Bidenification involves momentum, The good guys need to win some conspicuous battles so that the inertial majority expressly comes back to our side. When the Bidenistas are on the defensive and the good guys are not simply deflecting Orwellian charges about being racist threats to democracy, the majority can see that there is not much value or appeal in being on the side of those who defend and promote Biden’s America.  Unlike Hitler or Mussolini who initially did deliver economic growth and the appearance of progress, Joe Biden is a buffoon who has cost us all trillions and failed on all fronts.

We can work towards an America where university presidents are more worried about the consequences of attempts to silence speakers or fire conservative professors than they are about being called transphobic, where the border is secure and federal law enforcement is not politicized, where librarians end drag-queen story hour and stop stocking porno in with the kids’ books, where there are no mandatory DEI brain-washing sessions to obtain or maintain employment (and “DEI enforcement/training officer” looks bad on a resume), where both Morning Joe and the ladies on The View trash Fauci and where Merrick Garland has to surrender his law license.  While all this remains aspirational, if we can shift the tide in that direction, that alone will be an enormous (and eminently obtainable) victory.

The Dangers of Moral Therapeutic Deism

 

Yesterday, Pope Francis tweeted that we must “learn from the meekness of plants” in dealing with the ecosystem and environment. To wit:

I am but a humble Catholic, one of those “rigid” and “inflexible” traditional Catholics who the Pope holds a special and specific ire for, yet I know these truths to be self-evident:

We are not plants. We are human beings made in the image and likeness of God. Plants do not have humanity or consciousness. They can be neither “meek” nor “cooperative” because they lack the ability to do so. And anyone who has spent even a few moments in a garden knows the weeds — if left unkempt and unmanaged — will choke out the good plants and take over. A friend has had to use a flamethrower to rid a yard of kudzu, which takes over all it can.

I should not have to explain these things to the Pope. He should know this.

Yet, he is a Jesuit, and they have gone completely off the rails the last fifty years or so. What the Pope is now professing is what I call moral therapeutic deism; that is — popular culture masquerading as theology in order to make one feel good. It is wholly devoid of Truth and wholly devoid of God. This one has a very thin, cheap Catholic veneer, but it is moral therapeutic deism nonetheless.

Circling back to that special ire the Pope (and some of his bishops) hold for traditionalist Catholics, today I had the pleasure of meeting new families in my parish. Families who make the 90-minute trek from the Chicagoland area, where Archbishop Blaise Cupich has stifled the Latin Mass, to my parish in Milwaukee where the Latin Mass and its community is thriving.

In a world where so much liturgical abuse and questionable theology is tolerated in the name of “diversity” and “cultural expression,” that the Latin Mass is being banned, restricted, and removed from Catholic public life sheds light on a Pope and a hierarchy who are incapable of seeing what their people want and — more importantly — what their people absolutely need.

This is a world where men can be women, women can be men, children can be “transgender.” Up is down, left is right, and right is wrong. People, struggling financially from the recession; struggling emotionally from the fallout of two-plus years of COVID restrictions; and struggling mentally from the endless onslaught of woke nonsense seeking to upend reality, are desperately in need of the Truth. In need of tradition. In need of community, consistency, continuity. They need something that not only inspires with Truth, beauty, and light, but something that is not of this world — something that stands in direct opposition to the many, many things that are going wrong.

The proof is in the pudding:

  • 2% of TLM-attending Catholics approved of contraception vs. 89% of NOM Catholics.
  • 1% of TLM Catholics approved of abortion compared to 51% of NOM attendees.
  • 99% of TLM Catholics said they attend Mass weekly vs. 22% of NOM.
  • 2% of TLM goers approved of “gay marriage” as opposed to 67% of NOM.

Also of note was the rate of giving among TLM Catholics, which was nearly six times the amount of giving (at 6% of income) as NOM parishioners (at 1.2%). TLM Catholics also had a fertility rate of 3.6 vs 2.3 for NOM — indicating “a nearly 60% larger family size.”

There is clearly something not right with the Novus Ordo Mass and the catechesis those Catholics are receiving. This is not to be said that the Novus Ordo Mass is always bad; but when 89% approve of contraception and 51% approve of abortion — both things forbidden by the teachings of the Catholic Church — alarm bells should go off. Yet it is the Latin Mass that is under attack and traditionalists who are maligned, while politicians like Joe Biden can say the Catholic Church supports abortion without repercussion.

Comparing people to plants, urging them to live in “cooperation” and “meekness” with the environmental agenda is part of that alarm bell. It flies in the face of Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the person. It embraces the anti-family, anti-child, anti-life environmentalist agenda. It may sound pretty and feel good, but it — at its core — is rotten and wrong. It is the moral therapeutic deism we should be preaching against, not embracing.

The FDA and the Greatest Grift

 

Safe and effective are terms that should not be debatable but here we are. Recently the FDA has approved the use of the reformulated MRNA vaccines, which they are calling bivalent vaccines. These new versions have been modified to contain a more omicron-specific antibody. Since they are using the same manufacturing process, the powers at be feel comfortable pushing ahead with this product despite a lack of human trials.

Strangely enough after approval of the new versions, word came down that the older versions could no longer be given legally as a booster; which is quite the pivot. Availability of the new products has been haphazard; we quickly used all the Moderna that we were given and had only Pfizer for a while. Most patients who desire it have no problem mixing and matching after all the products are so similar that Moderna is currently suing Pfizer for patent infringement.

Rushing another product to market while stating there is no time for trials certainly raises a few eyebrows. Clearly you would not need to reformulate it if any of the original claims held up. The vaccine narrative has shifted from the ironclad “you cannot get Covid if you are vaccinated” to the arguable “well, trust me, it would have been worse without it.” The most disturbing part of this entire fiasco is that we have given millions of doses of an experimental product and have no control to compare the results to. Even in the trials, the threat of the virus was deemed so high that it was unethical to even continue the control group. From a research perspective, it is impossible to explain how great this sin was, and it will keep graduate students busy for a long time to come.

If you had spoken with me prior to Covid, you would have found no fan of the FDA. It is a bloated, bureaucratic organization filled with doctors who do not practice and are instead paid obscene amounts of money to promulgate excessive rules and regulations that stand in the way of novel treatments and therapies. For most of my life, the FDA was far too conservative, in my opinion, when it came to approving new products. This did not happen by accident. There are good historical reasons why the FDA would err on the side of caution with loads of regulations stacking up over the years only to be ripped off like a band-aid due to the ongoing national emergency declaration.

The most well-known is thalidomide, the notorious drug given for morning sickness all around the world that would cause widespread and horrific birth defects. In the only bright spot in history for the FDA, thalidomide would not be approved for morning sickness. While the organization has taken credit for this over the years, the truth is that the decision not to approve the drug was due to a single employee Frances Oldham Kelsey and a stroke of luck. She would bravely stand up to the drug company Richardson-Merrill which was infuriated that she would hold up their drug that had already received approval in forty countries.

Kelsey had read about neurological toxicity in adults taking the medication in the British Medical Journal and correctly had legitimate concerns about how this toxicity would present itself in the fetus of a pregnant woman. To defend themselves, the company pointed out that it was certainly safer than barbiturates which were already approved. The antagonistic relationship between Kelsey and the drug company back then stands in stark contrast to our present situation, where the FDA co-owns the patent and is less a regulator and more a business partner.

So, what was the stroke of luck? This was only the second approval her team was assigned, which fortunately left enough time for her to review and deny the application. Kelsey would admit in her memoirs that, as work would pile up, many drugs would be automatically approved simply because they were unable to review them in the allotted two-month period! Ironically, thalidomide would eventually receive FDA approval in 1998 because it is quite safe when you are not pregnant and has other uses.

Dr. Kelsey would be hailed as a hero and given the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civil Service in 1962. Legislation would be passed that assured no drug would be sold without first obtaining the agency’s approval. Kelsey would be first put in charge of the Investigational Drug Branch and later would develop the Division of Scientific Investigations, which was tasked with inspecting clinical sites for integrity. She would pass away at the ripe old age of 101 in 2015; thankfully, before she could live long enough to see her life’s work simply disregarded.

The MRNA vaccines, like many other therapies, are great tools that we have unfortunately used with the finesse of a monkey with a hand grenade. Like opiates and benzodiazepines, their overuse has created a set of unique problems and concerns. Hormone blockers like Lupron are interesting drugs that, in saner times, the general public would not even know existed. Instead its use is trending in teenage girls. The story is always the same and the “let no crisis go to waste” mantra applies here because this emergency has allowed for the removal of safety regulations that lobbyists could only dream of.

Jacob Hyatt Pharm D.
Father of three, Husband, Pharmacist, Realtor, Landlord, Independent Health, and Medicine Reporter
https://substack.com/discover/pharmacoconuts

hyattjn@gmail.com

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Further Reading and References

https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-106hhrg73042/html/CHRG-106hhrg73042.htm

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-62691102

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/08/18/1117778748/whats-behind-the-fdas-controversial-strategy-for-evaluating-new-covid-boosters

https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/biological-sciences-articles/courageous-physician-scientist-saved-the-us-from-a-birth-defects-catastrophe

Update: At 5:30pm BST (12:30 EDT) this evening, PayPal notified Toby that it has restored all three of the accounts it cancelled a couple of weeks ago – the accounts for the Daily Sceptic, the Free Speech Union and his personal account. In all three cases, the email read as follows:

We have continued to review the information provided in connection with your account and we take seriously the input from our customers and stakeholders. Based on these ongoing reviews, we have made the decision to reinstate your account. You should now be able to use your account in the normal way. We sincerely appreciate your business and offer our apologies for any inconvenience this disruption in service may have caused.

Toby writes in The Spectator, “It goes without saying that I won’t be using PayPal’s services again. I made the mistake of trusting PayPal when I set up the Free Speech Union and the Daily Sceptic, embedding its software into our payment processing systems. Given what I know now – that it can demonetise you on a whim, seemingly without any proper justification – I’m not going to make that mistake twice.”

 

One of the biggest rules of journalism is simple: Don’t become the story. But sometimes, the story chooses you.

This week Toby and James discuss Toby’s three-front war with PayPal, both personal, and with the accounts of the Free Speech Union and The Daily Sceptic.

Out in the wider world we touch on the victory of  Meloni in the recent Italian elections, Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget, and whether the Canadian teacher who identifies as trans and turned up to class wearing huge fake breasts was, in fact, trolling the woke left.

In Culture Corner: The Capture, Crime and Punishment and Dr Thorne, the third novel in Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Chronicles.

This week’s opening sound is Mark Dolan of GB News reading a letter from PayPal to Molly Kingsley, co-founder of UsForThem.

Constitutional Amendment Film Fest

 

If one should have a movie theater in the District of Columbia, why wouldn’t you have a Film Festival to salute each of the Amendments to the United States Constitution?

I guess one reason why you wouldn’t is that you might lose money on the run, but other than that…

I have slated a film for each amendment of the constitution and admit some picks are better than others. Feel free to suggest substitutes. Who knows? Various amendments might be the subject of Movie Fight Clubs someday. But for now, here’s what I got…

Amendment 27 – Regarding the compensation of senators and representatives:

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (A fantasy film in which not everyone in D.C. was a crook)

Amendment 26 – Giving the right to vote to those 18 and up

Animal House (A reminder of what a bad idea this was)

Amendment 25 – Removing the President from office

Dave (Also a reminder of why screenwriters must never be given a voice in economic policy)

Amendment 24 – Securing the right to vote

Swing Vote (Though if any character would make a good argument for a poll tax, it’s Kevin Costner’s in this film)

Amendment 23 – Voting for District of Columbia residents

D.C. Cab (Because Mr. T. plays a part in making America great)

Amendment 22 – Two-term limit for President

Sunrise at Campobello (About FDR, the reason for this amendment)

Amendment 21 – The repeal of prohibition

The Thin Man (Nick and Nora drink a bit)

Amendment 20 – Presidential and congressional terms moved from March to January

The January Man (TBH, this isn’t a great film, but it does have a great cast)

Amendment 19 – Women were given the right to vote (But I admit that I’m not a biologist)

Mary Poppins (sure, the subplot is about British suffrage, but a better film than any about American suffrage)

Amendment 18 – Prohibition

The Untouchables (Duh)

Amendment 17 – The election of senators

The Candidate (Has one of my favorite closing lines of any film, up there with “Nobody’s perfect”)

Amendment 16 – The Income Tax

Say Anything – (I thought about going with a film about the apocalypse or pure evil but I went with this film with a tax evasion subplot)

Amendment 15 – Right to vote for all men

Lincoln (After all, he made this amendment possible)

Amendment 14 – Granted equal protection under the law

Glory (men who fought for their rights)

Amendment 13 – Ended slavery

Twelve Years a Slave (No, I wasn’t about to go with documentary 13th)

Amendment 12 – Election of the Vice President

Air Force One (Glenn Close, the actress couldn’t help but be a better VP than what we have now)

Amendment 11 – Prohibits federal courts from hearing cases in which a state is sued by an individual from another state or another country

A Civil Action (Would you hire John Travolta as your lawyer?)

Amendment 10 – Powers not specifically given by Constitution to the Federal Government are entrusted to the States or the people

Free State of Jones (Maybe it takes a revolution to remind D.C. this amendment exists)

Amendment 9 – The rights not listed in the Constitution belong to the people

Amistad – (I know this might be controversial in modern America but freedom is a good thing)

Amendment 8 – No excessive bail, no cruel or unusual punishment

Cruel and Unusual (I haven’t seen this 2014 film, but it seems… um… interesting)

Amendment 7 – Trial by jury

12 Angry Men (Have to go with the obvious sometimes)

Amendment 6 – Right to a speedy and public trial

Just Mercy (One of the last films I saw in a theater before the pandemic)

Amendment 5 – Bars being tried multiple times for the same crime

Double Jeopardy (The makers of this film didn’t understand this law at all)

Amendment 4 – Protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure

Training Day  (Hey Denzel, that’s not a real search warrant!)

Amendment 3 – Bars soldiers from being quartered in homes

The Patriot (A helpful reminder of why this amendment was needed)

Amendment 2 – The right to bear arms

Red Dawn (Must go with the 1984 version, not the 2012 remake)

Amendment 1 – The right to speak, write, assemble, worship

The People vs Larry Flynt (Many options for this, but decided to go with the reminder that even the worst speech must be protected… in order to protect the best)

(This is an entry in the September 2022 writing series with the Constitution as the theme.)

And She’s Still Not Done: Once Again, The Queen Goes Above and Beyond

 

You’ve got to hand it to the late Queen.  Not only did she manage to die in Scotland, giving the Palace an opportunity to drive her past thousands of loyal and respectful Scots to Edinburgh for a lie-in at which thousands of people queued up to view her casket, and then past thousands more as she was driven to the airport for the flight home (The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon–who represents the Scottish Nationalists–must have been regurgitating her haggis the whole time); she also died on one of the rare occasions that Harry and Meghan were actually in England, thereby side-stepping the inevitable “will they fly to the UK from California–Will Meghan go with?” circus that would otherwise have occurred over the course of days and distracted from the main event.

Now for the best part: Today’s Telegraph headline: Coverage of the Queen’s death led to drop in funding for Democrats, New York Times says.

September is a pivotal month for political parties as they gear up for a poll in which the fate of both houses of Congress hangs in the balance.

During the 2018 midterm elections, MissionWired, a Democrat fundraising company, saw donations surge by 133 per cent.

But, according to Nat MissionWired’s Nat Binns, the increase is projected to be about half the 2018 figure.

“The coverage of the Queen disrupted that moment,” Mr Binns told the New York Times.

“It feels almost like we have to start over to build it up.”

God Save the Queen!

(I wonder what she’ll get up to next.)

PS: The article does say that Republican fundraisers didn’t respond to the NYT’s request for information.  I expect their funding was down some too; but I should think the Democrats were hoping for a post-Roe-decision bonanza,  and apparently they fell far short. 

 

SF Bicycle Coalition Broadens to Include Bicycle Thieves

 

…And bad drivers. Because equity and racism, The Post Millennial reports.

I have bicycled in San Francisco for longer than the average hipster has been alive.  I started when there was no infrastructure or consideration for bikes whatsoever and eagerly supported the SF Bicycle Coalition in their successful efforts to lobby and make biking safer and practical. Every time I rode, my primary concern was to avoid getting hit by a car, and the secondary concern was to avoid getting it stolen. The second concern stayed with me constantly, as I have had three bikes stolen from my house in two burglaries.

I am indeed concerned with the life of a bicycle thief. I want it to end. There is something very bad about having a bicycle stolen, somehow worse than other things stolen. Maybe it’s a primitive memory from childhood, or the old Italian movie, The Bicycle Thief.

The SF Bicycle Coalition has outlived its usefulness. Like the civil rights movement, it has succeeded, and the people involved need to move on.  It has morphed into a coalition of woke bikers, bike thieves, and reckless/drunken drivers. Really? Perhaps they deserve each other.

The Hopes of a Mother to Her Son

 

See the source imageI remember when you were born — a tiny, ruddy-faced newborn. As I sat in the hospital bed cradling you, your hand would reach out and five delicate fingers instinctively wrapped around one of mine. And we brought you home and you were ours, not yet a part of the outside world — our perfect secret, bundled tight in a swaddle, safe and asleep. A brand-new life in a used crib and a home overflowing with awe, exhaustion, and love.

Somewhere between the last violet streaks of sunlight and the sliver of the rising moon, I would take you for walks around the neighborhood. Up and down the big hill and past the old school and fields where you’d crane to see the bigger kids playing ball and your sandy-gold whisps of hair would curl and tussle about in the breeze. It wouldn’t be long before you’d be among them, joining the chorus of shrieks and hollers, running furiously with the others to keep up or chase or get away.

But for now, we go past them, through the woods, and past the turnoff of the dirt road to the little pond. You’d skip rocks and the dark ripples would meet your feet at the water’s edge, then I’d see the light of the stars reflected in your eyes as you chased fireflies in the clearing, and I couldn’t remember my life without you or why God blessed me with such a priceless gift.

Sometimes there were skinned knees or hurt feelings or the quiver of your frowning lips foretelling the tears to come.

But those long days couldn’t hide the short years. And your dad taught you how to bait a hook, throw a sinker, and always wear high socks. We took you to the cemetery and told you about what your great-grandfather did in the War and what it means to be a man.

You’d ask about birds and trees and we’d find the best ones to climb and you were afraid to come down but you did.

You learned about Dylan, Robert Johnson, Elvis, and Otis Redding. We watched Cool Hand Luke, Casablanca, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. And we read The Wizard of Oz and Treasure Island and Huckleberry Finn. And you wanted to be a cowboy and a spaceman and an explorer, and I said you could be all of those things.

But your father and I can’t keep you all to ourselves and you will meet a world hungry for the innocent to feed to the cynics. And I can’t prepare you for a world that is changing so fast that I can’t possibly know the challenges you’ll be faced with. I can look today at men who value their principles and values as cheap as a dirty penny but will easily steal the change out of your pocket. And people on television who make a sport out of human misery and suffering and can sleep at night because it pays the bills. And a class of people who would rather spitefully mock those they disagree with than understand. And those who think they are morally superior because they were born to the correct parents and went to the right school and said all the right things and nodded at all the scripted quips and applauded the right shows.

I cannot protect you from that world, but I can try to prepare you for living in it. You were raised not with everything but enough things. You know the value of making a dollar and of giving it away. You know both the effects of man’s kindness and virtue and the humbleness of man before His grace and forgiveness and that wisdom is a greater pursuit than novelty. There is no shame in asking for help and nothing more satisfying than doing it yourself. You are of this world, but you needn’t be a slave to it.

As the summer is tucked away into the long shadows of fall, our walks allow me to catch glimpses of people who sit at their table sharing meals, teaching their kids similar lessons, and finding their way through a time that seems to grow more chaotic, fevered, and empty. We live in a country in which we have so many ways to connect with each other, yet we feel so disconnected. Here are little platoons fighting for existence in an environment made so hostile to families, prosperity, and life. But perhaps that is by design: communities thriving in their self-determination and sustainability have no need to be controlled (protected!) by an overseeing government. We are the threat they warn us about.

When you are old enough to understand why we didn’t just escape for a life away from the disorder and didn’t take one of those big trains or planes and abandoned the world that was engulfed in the flames of its own creation, I’ll say this: it was because you, and someday your children, will be of this world, but you must not be made a slave to it. Because the strong have a duty to protect the weak; the righteous to fight the unjust.

I think about those moments in the small, quiet hours, and the darkness hides my uncertainty of whether to bury my face in my hands or throw my head back in bitter laughter that it all has to end — because I’ve done what I could to make you self-reliant, courageous, and truthful. That someday I’ll reach my hand out and you won’t need to take it. But it will always be there, nonetheless.

“May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young”

—Bob Dylan, Forever Young

The FBI Robs a Bank

 

Well, not technically a bank, but the utter lack of principle is the same. US Private Vaults was a private safety deposit box business in Beverly Hills, CA. An FBI agent “suspected” that its owners were involved in laundering drug money (an allegation that was never proven in court, by the way). On that basis, the FBI moved in and seized every lockbox on the site – most of which belonged to people who were not dealing drugs or laundering drug money.

Agents took photos and videos of pay stubs, password lists, credit cards, a prenuptial agreement, immigration and vaccination records, bank statements, heirlooms and a will, court records show. In one box, agents found cremated human remains.

Eighteen months later, newly unsealed court documents show that the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles got their warrant for that raid by misleading the judge who approved it.

They got the warrant, but they never told the judge they planned to confiscate everything under our gangster Government’s corrupt asset forfeiture laws. And as is usual with the thoroughly corrupt FBI, they are refusing to release to the public the papers they filed with the court before they raided the operation; which seems to be standard procedure for Merrick Garland’s DOJ.

The U.S. attorney’s office has tried to block public disclosure of court papers that laid bare the government’s deception, but a judge rejected its request to keep them under seal.

The FBI’s take amounted to some $86 million dollars. When some of the depositors asked for their possessions back, the FBI threatened to charge them with crimes. Most people gave up rather than spend tens of thousands of dollars and fighting in court for years to get their stuff back. David French calls spending tens of thousands of dollars in court to have your rights returned a “blessing of liberty.” I call it Gangster Government.

Ramen-Noodle Republicans

 

Republicans have a chance to speak to normals this 2022 in a way they haven’t or wanted to in a very long time. Normal people have thought of the Republican Party as effete, only for the rich, not prone to listening to the problems of people who haven’t donated a few ducats into the war chest for rubber chicken.

Inflation has hit families in the wallet when it comes to groceries. But, it’s also hit those of us without families. A few voices in conservative media have begged Republicans to go into dark-blue territory and just ask for their vote. This is the year.

But politicians also have this nasty habit of couching things for the squares that doesn’t quite resonate with the everyman. Sure, you can campaign that bacon or a pound of beef is more expensive, but you still get the same amount of bacon or beef: a pound.

So I propose a different route: the way to talk about the economy that will win far more votes this cycle is to talk in the language of the poor. We talk about the price of proteins, which has always been a luxury for people who are truly destitute. We never talk about the kinds of food people are struggling to buy. The way to get to those people is to talk about something they understand: talk about ramen noodles.

When I moved to Los Angeles in 1996, ramen noodles were ten for a dollar (it might have been twenty). Perfect for the recent college graduate living in a chic neighborhood on his own and paying far too much for rent while working menial jobs that barely paid above minimum wage. I just remember my diet was mostly ramen, store-brand mac and cheese, and store-brand hot dogs for the better part of two and half years.

I found very creative ways of eating ramen noodles as someone who couldn’t afford much more. I actually like them. Every so often, because I’m scared to death of being poor, I will pick some up to remind myself to feel blessed for what I have now. Absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever, but they make great French Onion soup. Chile, followed by beef and roast beef, are my go-to flavors.

In Los Angeles, when Joe Biden was inaugurated as President, ramen noodles were five for one dollar. As inflation got worse, those numbers went down. Currently at my grocery store, they are two for a dollar.

That means people trying to extend a dollar can literally get half as much food as they could if they were in the same position when Biden was inaugurated. That speaks to the electorate, especially the electorate where bacon is a luxury.

It’s clear, it’s succinct, and it’s understandable to anyone who has ever been on a budget.

It’s also the kind of story most Republicans suck at telling, be it inauthenticity brought on by success, or too busy screaming buzzwords like “socialism” in hopes that something sticks.

But increasingly, as Democrats become more and more the party of those with college educations, they are becoming the so-called “party of the rich” as they recommend we merely spend more money for electric cars or spend more time on inefficient public transit with the other rabble. But that argument will fall on deaf ears if we try to make it directly, courtesy of the media, which will deconstruct or obstruct what is being said.

But this illustration couldn’t be made any more clear. It’s an illustration parts of the electorate that Republicans haven’t been able to connect with in the past can understand.

Vote Ramen 2022.

FBI SWAT: The Most Miserable Job

 

Imagine being an FBI SWAT team member today. Can you really feel proud? You signed up (possibly motivated by the TV presentations of heroism) to take down the violent terrorists and menacers of the most vulnerable among us. And now you are being used to intimidate and “send a message” mafia-style.

How else to explain the many recent no-knock raids and arrests? The latest story is the arrest of Mark Houck in Philadelphia. Yes, he is charged with a federal crime of pushing a 72-year-old volunteer who was escorting a Planned Parenthood worker to the ground, twice. Accusations, of course, are not proof. And Mr. Houck has yet to have an opportunity to present his evidence of innocence or justification. And he may be guilty, I don’t know.

Certainly there will be many supporters and detractors of Mr. Houck as his case goes forward. But the key question remains in this case and so many others in our political divide: Why use an FBI SWAT team? This is becoming the preferred method of the Left.

It is intimidation, pure and simple. It is dangerous, and the government is way to overconfident about their ability to manage the reaction to a Ruby Ridge or Waco-style blunder. No doubt Ceaușescu felt similarly confident up to the moment he didn’t.

Pray the Left comes to its senses before the Right loses its mind.

Alo-ha!

 

Yes, Southwest Airlines may have pursued this adventure of giving their passengers free ukuleles and the instrument covers for the publicity it would garner. Guitar Center provided the ukuleles and a free lesson, too. And yes, there were people annoyed with the disturbance of their precious time on the jet.

But in a world where people take themselves far too seriously and have lost their ability to be playful, I think it was just the right strategy.

*     *     *     *

We had the joy a couple of years ago of seeing a young ukulele master play in Orlando. We’d never heard of him, but I was intrigued at the prospect of seeing the ukulele played in concert. I encourage you to take a few minutes to listen to his playing of “Alleluia”; sit back, take a deep breathe and enjoy.

(He begins to play at 1:50 on the video.)

 

 

The ‘Big One’ and the Pacific Northwest

 

At odd intervals, I ponder the Cascadian Subduction Zone.

This is a 600-mile-long geological fault in the earth’s fractured crust that lies along the coast of the Pacific Northwest, extending from northern California all the way to Vancouver. The CSZ is a type of fault well-known for causing extraordinarily destructive, 9.0+  megathrust earthquakes. Because the fault lies under a pile of salty H2O, the quake itself will be followed by a huge, catastrophic tsunami. In emergency-prep circles, this one-two punch is known as “The Big One” and … oh yeah. It’s both inevitable and overdue.

And, as one after another of the sober documentaries available takes care to remind us, we are not prepared.

Among my friends and relations, there are a number of persons fully (and vocally) persuaded that “we” must be preparing, now, for a different apocalypse, the one “we” caused through anthropogenic climate change. If we are to survive in any recognizable way, we must, they say, completely and quickly transform the entire planet’s economic, political, and cultural systems

The obstacles to the necessary transformation are clear: Standing in the way are the deplorable, conservative Denialists. And, of course,  the pet scientists, bought-and-paid-for, of Big Oil. But everyone else, all the smart, kind, compassionate, rational, science-believing people are totes, totes on board. 

The Cascadian Subduction Zone earthquake/tsunami is, let’s admit, small beer by comparison with the end of the world: When it comes, it will not wipe out the entire planetary ecosystem.  Still, one could argue that the CSZ presents progressives, in particular, with an opportunity to demonstrate wholesale transformation on a smaller scale. Think of it as a kind of dry-run: the Big One as a test case for the Really-Really Big One.  The target cities, Portland and Seattle, have long taken pride in being ideal progressive communities: high-tech, education-minded, scientifically literate, environmentally-conscious, and high-status cities people boast of living in.

Even if these cities might be burdened with a few small pockets of deplorable resistance, when it comes to the CSZ, there are no deniers standing in the progressive’s way.

True, there will be no “warning signs” for the Big One, no denial-shaking shockers akin to an unusually hot summer or a melting glacier. Still, anyone willing to peruse a bit of YouTube can see for him/her/xerself just what the catastrophe will look and sound like, because what happened in Indonesia in ’04 and Japan in ’11 was extensively videoed.

But it’s unnecessary, really: Everyone knows. And while there may be parents/MAGA-terrorists yelling at the school board about CRT or gender ideology, no parent objects to the Duck, Cover, and Hold drills held in elementary school classrooms. 

Again, these are overwhelmingly progressive-Democrat cities. To a man or woman, then, I’d be willing to bet that all the leaders of Seattle and Portland are Climate Change true believers, who would agree that “we” can and must transform society pretty much in toto. So what exemplary, smaller-scale transformation can they point to? What have Seattle and Portland done to prepare for the merely Big (as opposed to Really, Really Big) One?

Thanks to the example set by Japan, we have a model for the kind of preparation which, while not preventing apocalypse, would result in far fewer deaths and a far swifter recovery. The technology already exists. It’s not complicated.

So why are we still not prepared?

Of course, these cities have done some things. In the past few years, a couple of tsunami towers have been installed in the inundation zone, for example. And there has been talk (don’t know about action) about constructing at least one earthquake-resistant bridge spanning the waterway that separates the low-lying coastal community of Seaside from life-saving access to higher ground. The six existing bridges are expected to fall apart during the quake, but the new one would offer at least one narrow avenue of escape to use in the half-hour window between catastrophic quake and devastating tsunami.

I’ve been following this story for about seven years now, and in that time, I have to say, I have not noticed much improvement. The documentarians continue to intone “we are not ready.” What they don’t say is that, in the last five or ten years, those given direct responsibility for “hardening the target” for this inevitable catastrophe have, instead, been softening up the cities, making them more vulnerable and less resilient.

For instance:

1) In the name of protecting a miniscule number of black arrestees from largely imaginary uniformed bigots, Portland and Seattle have demonized, defunded, and devastated the ranks of their police departments, thus eliminating whole swathes of trained, experienced first responders — the very helpers citizens must depend upon during and after the cataclysm.

Children — because they are children — are very likely to need to turn to strangers for help in the post-catastrophe environment. The school children of Portland are being trained to duck, cover and hold, but they are also being taught to distrust and dislike the strangers who, by their uniforms, would be most easily identifiable as helpful, capable, and trustworthy.

2) Functional, self-reliant, self-confident citizens who identify with and feel affection for the city in which they live and work naturally form the first line of civil and civilizational defense in any emergency. They will be the skilled pioneers required when rebuilding commences in the aftermath too.

City leaders have accused such citizens of -ism and -phobia, permitted demoralizing,  destructive, and expensive riots to go on for months, tolerated the smashing of historical monuments and other shared sites of civic pride, allowed and enabled the takeover of whole city blocks by violent anarchists, allowed the crime rate to rise and encouraged the takeover of thoroughfares, neighborhoods, open lands, and vulnerable downtown areas by the addled, addicted and severely mentally ill.

These progressive leaders are, by their actions, demonstrating that notions of social justice are a far higher priority than preparing for an imminent and expected catastrophe.

When discussions about Climate Change begin, I usually opt out. It’s not my issue, I say. My skepticism about the claims of the Climatistas emerges less from knowledge of the science and more from the behavior of those who claim expertise: They don’t behave like people facing an imminent existential threat. 

I’m not just talking about the obvious stuff — the Obamas’ purchase of beachfront property, “activists” jetting off to Davos for yet another carbon-spewing celebrity schmooze fest. Long before push comes to shove — even when it ought to be easy! Progressives can’t bring themselves to sacrifice anything in the name of what is supposed to be an existential crisis. The carbon footprint cannot be reduced by so much as a toenail’s span and, more than this, even their most arcane, boutique ideological obsessions cannot be set aside.

For some reason, an image of the Polish Duma comes to mind: of them meeting in September 1939 to vote for more restrictions on the activities of the Jews. The German Army was literally massing on the doorstep, and Russian troops were moving into position on the Western flank. And yet…

In progressive-land, the cause of the black trans-woman must absolutely and unequivocally be angrily, even violently upheld,  at the cost of confusing and alienating people who might otherwise be allies, and whose assistance and expertise (even if accompanied by unexpunged -ism and -phobia) will be required to prevent the apocalypse or ameliorate its effects.

If, that is, the apocalypse is real.

The disconnect between stated belief and behavior is, as I say, what makes me inclined to pooh-pooh the climate change apocalypse.

They don’t really have the “science.” If they did, they wouldn’t make such asses of themselves.

But there it is, that bona fide apocalypse, the Cascadia Subduction Zone and the Big One. It’s real, inevitable, overdue, and unquestioned, an existential threat that looms over a huge area of the northwest coast from Northern California to Vancouver. Its existence isn’t a matter for political debate. There are no deniers. Everyone knows, everyone believes. Everyone agrees that we are not prepared.

And yet … they cannot seem to make this — the Big One — the priority.

Would they do better if Portland and Seattle were conservative cities, run by Republicans? Maybe.
But maybe not?

Still, in this context, the most peculiar feature of these exemplars of progressive governance is that they appear to be busily un-preparing. They are, willfully it seems, actively undermining, impoverishing, weakening their social infrastructure, enabling and perhaps even bringing-into-being persons incapable of surviving or of helping others to survive.

I have an image — tragic, really — of the ground beginning to shake and slide beneath the Birkenstocks and Doc Martens of the denizens of Pioneer Square. The skyscrapers start to sway, the old unreinforced-masonry buildings begin raining bricks and shards of glass down upon those rainbow-haired heads. The schizophrenics in their tents incorporate the nightmare into their hallucinations, the drug addicts hurriedly inject themselves, but an activist sets down the Molotov cocktail or can of spray paint and reaches for the cell phone. He/she/xhe will dial 9-1-1. Not to ask the dispatcher (if there is one) what is happening, however. The call is just a reflex. He/she/xhe and they/them … everyone really, will already know. It will be too late.

Meet FBI Agent Steve Friend

 

This week, you may have missed this blockbuster story by Miranda Devine in the New York Post. It’s labeled as “opinion,” but it reads more like a report from an investigative reporter, which she is. If half of what former FBI agent Steven Friend alleges is true, the top of the FBI is indeed a corrupt place, and its cancer has spread to field offices.

After Miranda, author of “Laptop from Hell,” originally broke the Hunter Biden laptop story in October 2020 – just before the election – fifty former intelligence agency heads and experts rushed to exclaim, “Russian disinformation.” Facebook, other social media sites, and major news outlets rushed to censor it. Twitter suspended the New York Post’s account. Each signatory has jettisoned their credibility, if not their integrity.

Eighteen months later, the New York Times, one of those major outlets that bought into the gaslighting, meekly admitted the Hunter Biden laptop was real. Polls suggest that had the laptop story not been censored, it might have changed the election outcome. We’ll never know. The story also adds growing evidence of the blatant politicization of the Capitol violence on January 6, 2021.

In its way, however, Miranda’s latest missive also confirms that dutiful and law-abiding agents still permeate the agency’s ranks. Let’s hope that more of them find their courage and help the forthcoming US House majority’s Republicans conduct badly needed oversight of this once great agency. Many are. Laws are in place to protect them, ostensibly.

Unsurprisingly if not corruptly, Attorney General Merrick Garland threatened the FBI and other Justice Department officials from talking to Congress.

Read Miranda’s story here.