Stand Up Virginia Rally

 

We attended the Stand Up Virginia Rally Saturday in Centreville near the Bull Run Battlefield. Traffic on I-95 was heavy so we missed part of it but we made several useful contacts for fighting voter fraud. We think that’s a major issue both in Virginia and countrywide. In addition, we heard WMAL’s Chris Plante give an excellent talk.

I expected to see Rob at this booth…

Many people at the rally are fighting Critical Race Theory.

Our Feckless State Department Is an Embarrassment

 

Soon, 18,000 Afghan translators could die, and their blood will be on our hands. We are approaching an emergency situation as we plan to leave Afghanistan. Although we have a program in place, the Special Immigrant Visa Program (established in 2009), to save those Afghanis who worked for us, our State Department demonstrates once again its inability to get out of its own way. The U.S Embassy in Kabul recently suspended visa operations.

And many people will die.

The first dire issue is the impossibly slow processing of the visas by the State Department. Even though they’ve known for months that a withdrawal date was approaching, they didn’t make the effort to find other ways to save these people in the meantime. The dangers of the Taliban making inroads are already apparent:

The Taliban is on the move—now contesting more than half of the country’s districts and controlling more than does the Kabul government. More than 400 central government forces and about 260 civilians were killed last month, the deadliest since the summer of 2019. The Taliban has targeted translators and their families in the past, killing hundreds, and they will continue to do so as they take more territory.

The State Department said that Covid-19 killed an embassy employee, and the safety of diplomatic personnel should always be a priority. But the department made a point of vaccinating its staff abroad for a reason: Its work is critical, even during a pandemic, as Afghanistan makes clear.

What are a couple of alternatives?

Even a functioning visa program is insufficient at this point. President Biden can save lives by doing more, such as the evacuation of applicants to a temporary third country as the process plays out. Or he could provide them with humanitarian parole, which grants temporary permission to enter the U.S.

Anthony Blinken has made a point of saying that he cares:

‘I’ve actually lost personal friends and colleagues who supported the Americans.’

U.S. officials say there is no plan to evacuate these Afghan translators. Secretary of State Tony Blinken said this recently on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’: ‘Evacuation is the wrong word. We’re determined to make good on our obligation to those who helped us, who put their lives on the line, put their families’ lives on the line working with our military, working with our diplomats.’

I don’t think the families of the translators care what he calls the process, or even that he cares. His sentiments won’t save lives. Keep in mind that the 18,000 people at risk probably doesn’t include family members of the translators.

Protestations by members of Congress Jason Crow and Michael Waltz appear to be falling on deaf ears:

‘We are here today to urge the Biden Administration. To do the right thing and to evacuate those who stood by us at great personal risk,’ Crow said. Waltz added a direct challenge to Biden who famously said in 1975 that the U.S. did not have an obligation to evacuate those Vietnamese who worked with the U.S. military and government.

I want to be clear, if he doesn’t act and he doesn’t get these people out, blood will be on his hands and on his administration’s hands,’ Waltz said. ‘And I, for one, will very publicly and very loudly hold him accountable for that.’

Crow added: ‘There is a moral imperative at play here. The American handshake has to mean something.’

The Senate proposed changes to the SIV program a little over one week ago; the House proposed organizing a task force to look into evacuation of the translators. Meanwhile, withdrawal of our troops is more than 50% complete and could be completed as early as July 4.

I am certain that once more, as we watch this inept administration, the world is taking notes. Both allies and enemies.

On One Father … and So Much More – Lessons (and Warnings) Galore

 

Lest you are feeling too comfortable and secure under current circumstances, I offer this from this morning’s reading from the autobiography by Lech Walesa:

When I was born at half past three on the morning of September 29, 1943, my father Boleslaw was in a Nazi concentration camp. His arrest had come without any waring for his family, when I was still in my mother Felicja’s womb. One dark night, policemen on horseback arrived, searched our home, found something incriminating, and took my father away with them. Later they came back to do another search and stole my mother’s watches and rings. My mother was in despair: they had taken her wedding ring. She told me later that she was sure it meant that her husband would never return, that her married life was over.

The men arrested were first detained at Chalin, in a building that after the war was turned into a school I later attended. I remember seeing blood still staining the walls from the savage beatings the Nazis had inflicted. Afterward, my father was sent to the camp at Mlyniec. That winter the prisoners lay on the ground in unheated cells; their hair froze while they slept and stuck to the frost-covered walls; worn down by hunger and illness, they soon began dying. My mother tried every means possible to smuggle food in for my father, and sometimes she succeeded. She would slip out of the house in the middle of the night and take secret paths through the forest, so as not to be spotted by the Germans. As long as my father was in a work camp, some contact was possible. Mama went through the forest, weeping, praying that her trip wouldn’t be in vain.

My family had always been very close. My father’s brother was killed during World War I. One day he went off to fight and he never came back. We don’t even know where he is buried. Grandmother Walesa, born Glonek, was a very pious woman, and for the rest of her life she continued to pray for her son’s return. She was never able to accept his death. He had been in the cavalry, and sometimes she ran out to the road, convinced, she’d heard the sound of approaching hoofbeats.

The people of our village hated the Nazis, who had destroyed heir world. Under the occupation, two Germans lived in Popowo: Krepeic and Broch. Two Polish families, the Bialoskorskis and the Uminskis, were thrown out of their homes so that Krepiec and Broch could move in. Krepiec and Broch were themselves hostile to their Polish neighbors, but the daughter of one of them fell in love with a Polish farmhand who had snatched her from the jaws of death when she got herself caught between the gears of a combine. Love conquered all, and everyone in the village knew about it – and benefited from it. The young woman always warned the people when the Nazis were about to come to the village.

It was commonly understood that slaughtering a pig for food, like taking food to the partisans, was very dangerous. All meat belonged to the occupiers. Apparently, before he was arrested, my father had tried to slaughter a pig. He stunned the animal, but didn’t stick it with enough force, so the pig came to, escaped, and trotted off into the woods covered in blood. The police followed its tracks to our house, and things looked black. But thanks to some miracle, possibly in the form of a bribe, the whole business was hushed up. The pig, however, was confiscated.

Wehmacht deserters turned up regularly in the vicinity of the village, and I know that our family, among others, hid them. They sometimes took shelter in the stables, and children brought them soup in pails so small they looked like toys. The partisans used the forest not far from the village of Brudzenio as their hideout, and the children took food to them, too, sometimes covering a distance of nearly three miles.

After the war, corpses were discovered in Brudzenio (where today there is a cross over a mass grave), It was there that the Nazis executed people, especially the young men, from the surrounding villages. The grisly chore of exhuming the bodies was performed by those Germans who had failed to get away and were still living in the neighborhood. They were ordered to dig up the earth with their bare hands, pull out the corpses, wash them, and then line them up neatly. When they had finished, the Poles gathered to identify their loved ones. In agonies of grief they threw themselves on the Germans and beat them, until an officer forced them to stop and to stand aside. What they saw overwhelmed them all. Some of the disinterred bodies had their hands over their mouths, as though trying to keep out the dirt. They had probably been buried alive.

My father was lucky enough to die at home. After the war he returned to Popowo, but lived only another two months before succumbing to exhaustion and illness. … – Pages 129-131

Thankfully, nothing even remotely like this could ever happen here.

(SIDENOTE: I humbly suggest that this is a good companion piece to something I posted five years ago: Horse Tales from the Abyss. The meat of that older post is taken from some “fiction” written by Victor Serge. Like Walesa, Serge knows very well much of what he translates to us.)

Book Release Day!

 

I like to announce them here first, I’m sentimental like that.

I’m delighted to announce that my 57th audiobook narration, The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War by J. L. Bell, is now available on Audible.com.

It’s commonly taught that the Redcoats marched into Concord to capture John Hancock, John Adams, and other patriots, and this led to the battle that started the war. But General Gage’s orders to his troops didn’t say anything about capturing people on the mission. Some wise-ass Sons of Liberty had stolen four brass cannon right out from under his nose, from a guarded building, by cutting into a side door while the Brits were making noise outside during the changing of the guard. Gage was determined to get those cannon back before someone told London about the incident and embarrassed him.

The Patriots were serious, determined men, but they were experts at playing games with the Redcoats to keep them off balance. Military supplies and provisions were being stockpiled for the coming war and hidden in all sorts of interesting ways. This book tells stories about ordinary farmers and mechanics, who were the driving force behind the beginning of the war. Men like Adams and Hancock influenced and guided, but the war would not have happened if ordinary men and women hadn’t felt that they were being denied their rights, and were determined to do something about it.

I would be happy to send a coupon code for a free download to anyone who is interested.  Send me an email at dad@pratt-hobbies.com and I’ll send you a promo code. You don’t have to be an Audible subscriber to get the free copy, but you do have to use their free app to listen to the book. If you decide to subscribe to Audible and pick this book as your free introductory title, please do it through this link (https://www.audible.com/pd/B096BNJP2N/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWU-BK-ACX0-261618&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_261618_pd_us)  and the author and I will get credit for your membership. If you are interested in any of my other Audible titles, let me know; I still have review promo codes for most of them and will be happy to share them.

Member Post

 

A good father puts food on the table. He says, “No.” He is looked up to even while wrestling on the ground.  A good father lets go of the bicycle. He says, “It’s time to sink or swim.” He says, “Walk it off.”  A good father requests a helper, though he needs no help. He […]

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Ali and Weiss: Two More Podcasts Worth Trying

 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is something rare and beautiful, a truly heroic figure who has faced life-threatening adversity without flinching, and without surrendering an ounce of dignity or resolve. I recently listened to her June 3 podcast with Megyn Kelly, hosted on Ricochet, about Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, and appreciated the common sense expressed both by Ms. Ali and Ms. Kelly. As one of the few conservatives who has never heard Megyn Kelly speak, I was impressed by her thoughtfulness and intelligence — and, in particular, by her willingness to bluntly reject the absurd claims of the gender identity movement. And Ms. Ali’s is a voice I hope is never silenced; I applaud Ricochet for providing her a platform and hope she does well.

I also listened to a June 16 Podcast by Bari Weiss and her guest Martin Gurri. This podcast appears not to be hosted on Ricochet, so I found it here: Revolt of the Public. What particularly struck me about this interview was Ms. Weiss’s professionalism: she asks intelligent questions, follows up when appropriate, and comes across as a serious woman and a serious interviewer. Mr. Gurri, an ex-CIA employee who left Cuba as a child and has, as he put it, witnessed both right-wing and left-wing totalitarianism, speaks sensibly and optimistically (albeit with some caution) about America. His views on the Internet — that it is transformative and destructive — in many ways comport with my own. I found his rejection of the popular notion that America is a racist country refreshing. I’ll probably read his book, The Revolt of The Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium.

As an aside: I have long been put off by overly confident pundits who speak as if their views were the obviously correct views. Though both are accomplished and intelligent, neither of these women conveyed that impression, and I wonder if perhaps women may tend to have an advantage over men as hosts on the kinds of podcasts I like, given what I believe is their greater willingness to admit uncertainty and convey a bit of humility. (That’s probably sexist, but I’m okay with that.)

Anyway, two good programs I’ll happily recommend.

Loan Forgiveness Related to ITT Tech Is Different

 

My son Brian graduated from ITT Tech with an Electrical Engineering degree, for which he and I each assumed about $20K in student loans. I see on NRO this morning that this debt will be forgiven. Even though I have a reason to be pleased, I want to point out that this is not the same as other student debt.

Debt related to ITT Tech partakes of fraud.

I am immensely proud of Brian. We used to team teach NRA Pistol Safety classes, and I know he is an excellent instructor. The biggest reason I’m proud of him is that he has gotten through some incredibly bad luck without turning bitter.

Brian decided to become a gunsmith, so we did some research and found that there were only four colleges that offered a degree in gunsmithing at the time. The oldest and most respected was at Lasson College in Susanville, CA, up in the north of the state. So that’s where he went, and he was six months from graduating when California passed new gun control laws that shut down the program.

He came back home to Virginia and decided to go for a two-year EE degree at ITT Tech. Straight As, even in calculus, which surprised him more than us (kid has a high IQ). So when they offered to extend him to a four-year degree (with loans) he took them up on it. In his last term, ITT Tech lost their accreditation, and they didn’t tell Brian or their other students. He passed his final (only one B all four years), and the next day they announced that they would close the company. They mailed him a diploma. When he tried to use it to get a job he was informed that since the degree was from ITT Tech it didn’t count, and he could either go to a real school for a few years or take a job as something less than an electrical engineer.

And here’s something for you Starbucks-haters to consider. Brian worked as a barista through high school and almost all the years of college. He moved to Seattle and went to work at their factory, and now runs a production line. Starbucks has been his only good luck career-wise.

Back to ITT Tech. Clearly he got a raw deal; not as raw as hundreds of other ITT Tech students who thought they were going to be RNs, but plenty raw enough. This wasn’t just the student loan sales pitch. This was clearly fraud, and a class-action suit was instigated. We have been hoping for the best, and I think we can expect some good news when all this is finalized.

I wanted to tell the story so we could point out that not all the student loan forgiveness is gender-study majors freeloading off taxpayers. Thanks for listening to my Fathers’ Day bragging. Don’t get me started about my daughter unless you want to hear more.

Stop Blaming Trump Over Lost Friends

 

Trump Isn’t The Real Problem. His Haters Are, Mostly.

Go to your favorite internet search site – mine is duckduckgo.com – and search “friends lost over Trump.” Or some variation.

You will quickly find an array of articles of how anti-Trumpers have canceled friendships over someone’s support for Trump. Like this one, from a post by Doug McKinnon in The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper:

“One casual friendship abruptly ended last year because I would not acknowledge that Trump is a climate change denier who advances the insidious goal of killing off humanity. The person making that charge is an accomplished executive.

“When I politely asked over the phone if this person truly believes Trump’s ultimate ‘goal’ is to kill off the world — including his children, grandchildren, and future Trump generations — my friend screamed at me and then hung up, forever.”

And that’s pretty mild as the Trump-related cancellations have gone. This, from National Public Radio:

“I did straight up say, ‘Dude, I’m done. Lose my number,’ ” said Shama Davis from Los Angeles, recalling when he “unfriended” a guy he’d been friends with since high school 25 years ago.

“I just hung up on my end and proceeded to just block him in every possible way,” said Joni Jensen from New York, still fuming over the guy she felt compelled to dump.

And betraying just a tinge of regret about cutting off his cousins, Ricardo Deforest of Tampa, Fla., conceded, “I hate to say it because family is everything,” before unabashedly proclaiming, “I disowned them. In my mind they’re not family anymore.”

That’s pretty severe. And for the record, it’s not just anti-Trumpers canceling pro-Trump “friends.” Pro-Trumpers are doing it, too. This, from a New York Times op-ed from Apri 2016 by anti-Trumper and Republican Peter Wehner:

“While I haven’t lost any friendships during this Trumpian moment, at least not yet, I certainly haven’t been immune to the heightened tension. Several friends whose political views have often coincided with mine in the past have voiced their anger to me over my public opposition to Mr. Trump’s candidacy.

“One close longtime friend told me that my criticism of Mr. Trump stemmed from my desire for attention and notoriety and a longing for the favor of liberals. He was questioning not my reasoning but my motivations. His concern wasn’t about policy; it was about the state of my soul.”

Wehner thinks Trump is to blame for all this. “The candidacy of Donald J. Trump is not only fracturing the Republican Party, but it is also breaking up friendships as well,” he wrote in his April 2016 op-ed.

Is he? Or is it the state and condition of our friendships and our culture in general? Is Trump really to blame, or was he just a catalyst that exposed the shallowness of our own relationships, and more importantly, our inability to manage or talk through legitimate disagreements? Have we lost the ability to manage the inevitable conflicts we all have with each other, even our own family members?

How big is the problem? This, from The Atlantic:

In a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted a couple of months after Trump’s 2016 victory, 16 percent of respondents said they had stopped communicating with a friend or family member because of the election. Four years later, many such relationships are still in disrepair. Corin Goodwin, a 53-year-old communications consultant in Seattle, hasn’t seen her dad since October 2016, when they had a falling-out over the presidential race, in which he supported Trump and she supported Hillary Clinton. Since then, they’ve had only occasional email contact. “When he passes, I don’t know if I will even be informed, which really freaks me out,” Goodwin told me. (Goodwin and others mentioned in this article were not comfortable putting me in touch with the friends and family members with whom they disagreed, so I was unable to hear the other sides of these stories.)

Sixteen percent of Americans is roughly 30-40 million working-age and senior/retired Americans. That’s no small potatoes.

Confession: I have done my share of canceling. Not terminating friendships per se, but “unfriending” people on Facebook for their erratic, overly partisan, and unsubstantiated posts. I think of that as managing my Facebook feed, not defining friendships, but that’s now how people see it anymore (when did Facebook become the arbiter of “friendship?”) But yes, I have terminated communications with a number of people over their admonitions of me (to put it mildly), personally, for my refusal to repudiate Trump or mischaracterize some of the organizations that are allegedly supporting his “racist” and “white supremacy” ways. Of course, I largely reject that based on the totality of Trump’s history and record – including separating the man from the record – not what the media tells me.

When did Facebook become the arbiter of “friendship?”

And there is the problem. I carefully challenge people’s assumptions and beliefs (“have you considered. . .”). Many don’t appreciate that. Few – not all – are unwilling to consider that they may be misinformed, even wrong.

But am I willing to have my views and beliefs challenged? I hope so. I have always tried to remember to be humble and consider that I am wrong. It is part of my faith. I am open to correction, and my mind has changed on some issues over time. For example, I was so virulently anti-Trump in 2016 (I supported Rick Santorum, then Marco Rubio, then Ted Cruz in my state’s primary election) that I left the GOP for 13 months, registering as an Independent in Pennsylvania. I literally stared at my absentee ballot in 2016 for 3 weeks deciding whether to vote for Trump or another option.

A question: have we allowed too much - everything - to become overly political, or politicized? Can we not allow room for disagreement over politics while recognizing and respecting our basic humanity, our origins, our families, and our shared values?

I reluctantly voted for Trump in 2016 (I could never bring myself to support Hillary Clinton). And I enthusiastically supported him in 2020. I have no regrets, especially given what we’re seeing now.

I lost friends in the process. However, I discovered new ones. I deepened others. Others have written me off, including “friends” in the lobbying world, Republicans, who were all-in for Biden, I suspect for “economic” reasons. Money speaks loudly in Washington, DC, and Trump wasn’t friendly to traditional DC lobbyists. In other cases, cultural or social issues are a factor. For example, Critical Race Theory, and weak-minded Christians being sucked into its religious trappings, despite its Marxist affiliations.

And, of course, social circles. People like being liked and part of a club, and tend to migrate towards the views of their tribes. That’s true everywhere. And here in the Washington, DC, area, it’s become very, very, anti-Trump (folks here like retaining and expanding power inside Washington’s beltway – it’s a nice way to feather the nest). They’re helping the local elitists circle the wagons. That’s their tribe. Their source of income. Their friends. Their contacts. I get that. They now wear blue; I’m still on Team Red.

My great fear is that America is becoming overly tribal, and people are moving with their feet. Republican-minded voters in California and other blue states are moving in droves to neighboring states or places like Texas. Other conservative-minded people are departing high-tax northeastern states like New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania for friendly southern confines like South Carolina and Florida, even Georgia.

My wife and I are looking at new homesites, and one of my criteria is how the locals voted in 2016 and 2020, and who their US House member is. That is not healthy in the long term, but I have learned the hard way how difficult it is to be around people – even churches – who do not share my basic beliefs and values.

I may be part of the problem. But can you blame me? Does anyone want to live among people who not only don’t like them but will call the police over slights? It happens. Diversity is one thing; hostility, another.

Houston, we have a problem. We have lost the art and skill of communicating across political lines and lost the ability to trust each other despite differences. We have lost our focus on that which unites us. We need to find our way back. Fortunately, we have organizations like Braver Angels and the Convergence Center for Policy Resolution that are helping us do that. And they have a very heavy workload.

But here’s the thing: While I’m very open to building, or rebuilding bridges with my one-time friends, I strongly suspect the feeling is not reciprocal. After all, it is now not fashionable to have “pro-Trump” friends (defined as having voted for Trump at least once). The bridge-building, if they’re really interested, begins with them.

After all, you won the last election. Graciousness always starts with the winner. And we’re still waiting.

Member Post

 

I hope everybody enjoys their up coming 4th of July / Independence Day holiday.  We will most likely have only a few more like these.  Congress has recently created / raised a little-known regional holiday to national federal status.  This new holiday is designed to celebrate and focus our nation of all critical race issues […]

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I Love You, Dad

 

Certain is it that there is no kind of affection so purely angelic as of a father to a daughter. In love to our wives there is desire; to our sons, ambition; but to our daughters, there is something which there are no words to express.

So said Joseph Addison, seventeenth-century essayist, playwright, and politician who, alongside his friend Richard Steele, founded the first Spectator magazine in 1711.  Pretty smart for such an old-timer.

Happy Father’s Day to Dads here and everywhere.  Treasure each other, hug each other, love each other.  And don’t forget to say it.  Life is short and unpredictable.  Regret is forever.  Don’t be that guy.  Or that gal.

When I’m at my best, I’m my father’s daughter–Anonymous

Please share a memory or two of fathers, sons, and daughters.

Member Post

 

I’ve often been amazed by how angrily leftists defend political arguments that they clearly don’t understand, and to which they clearly haven’t given a great deal of thought.  There are many possible reasons for this, of course.  They may have been taught that conservatives are evil, so if anyone says anything that doesn’t sound clearly […]

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Happy Father’s Day to The Golden Bear

 

It just so happens that I was commissioned to paint a picture of Jack Nicklaus for the Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood, Ohio. It was there in 1973 that Nicklaus won the PGA Championship, giving him his record-setting 14th major title, surpassing Bobby Jones. He later went on to win four more major tournaments, a record that still stands.

The painting was based on a famous photo taken at the tournament. After finishing one of the holes, Nicklaus’ four-year-old son Gary (now a professional golfer), having been cajoled by his mischievous older brother Jack Jr., crawled under the security ropes and ran out onto the green to greet his father. Jack hoisted him into his arms and Cleveland Plain Dealer Newspaper photographer Ray Matjasic snapped a black and white photo.  Jack Nicklaus is quoted as saying that it is his favorite photo.

I can make up colors from black and white images if I have to, especially skin tones, but instead I scoured the Internet and found color photos taken of Jack and his son Gary at that very tournament, possibly the same day that the famous photo was snapped. The clothing on both of them matched the black and white photo perfectly. So this is historically accurate, not that it matters much. The Nicklaus Foundation also helped with some critical details.  I would post the photo here but there might be some copyright issues.  You can find it online.

Canterbury appropriately chose today, Father’s Day, for the unveiling of the painting to its members. They have a whole room dedicated to Jack Nicklaus, as well as rooms dedicated to four other famous golfers. This is the third portrait painting I have done for them (so far). They tried to get Jack to fly in for the ceremony, but the trip from Florida to the Cleveland area proved to be too burdensome. Instead, he will be participating either through Zoom or sending a video message. I’m not sure of the details. The unveiling is at 3:00 PM Eastern time, so if you don’t hear from me or my wife @caryn around then, you will know why.

Here’s a sneak peek at the painting and a wonderful Father’s Day greeting to all of you fathers out there. A special appreciation to my own father James, also an artist, who died ten years ago. He taught me everything I know!

Canceled for Opposing Arson

 

I ran across a couple of news articles about the composer Daniel Elder this week. Perhaps you’ve seen them. Elder is (or was) an up-and-coming choral composer living in Nashville.

Listening to Elder’s work, it’s clear that he is a fine composer with much to offer. I have not heard enough of his music to offer generalizations about his style, but I’m willing to bet you will find Ballade to the Moon worthy of repeated listenings.

Elder has been canceled. That’s a term that can be tossed around rather freely these days, but if it applies to anyone, it applies to Elder. The long knives came out after he posted on social media about Nashville’s historic courthouse being set on fire during one of the many demonstrations last year.

Composers and other artists have run afoul of the prevailing political winds many times before. They might fall out of favor for a time, or be banished from court, or sent to the Gulag, or worse. The current version of all that is to suffer public shame and be cut off from your job and livelihood.

I practiced law long enough to understand the peril of commenting on a situation without having all the facts. But there appears to be no debate about the content of his post, which merely condemned the arson in a rather tame way. I went to the social media posts of those who were most offended and found nothing to refute this. But some apparently revel in being offended.

Social media provides us with enough distance and anonymity to cast aside the restraints that make civil discourse (or even civilization) possible. On social media, you have to answer to the mob. But what I find most appalling in this episode is the sniveling apology penned by Elder’s publisher GIA and their demand that he post it. When he declined, GIA issued their own public apology and vowed never to publish him again. Elder’s post had nothing to do with his music, and you would think a publisher would be able to recognize that distinction. But it caved to fear of the mob and, with its aesthetic judgment corrupted, became the voice of the mob.

Elder worries that his career as a composer is over. I hope not. He wrote on his blog:

The fertile fields of artistic expression are parched. There is no vision; only voice. There is no soul; only skin.

That’s a pretty good assessment of where we now are. Art is about beauty, and as one of the three transcendentals, beauty ought to transcend. Listen, because surely Elder’s musical voice far transcends the ravings of his detractors.

QOTD: Bork Bork Nom Nom

 

“I don’t know about you guys, but I think the 70lb landshark filled with sharp teeth and aggression is pretty good backup.” -Donut Operator

One of my favorite YouTubers is the former police officer who goes by the handle Donut Operator.  Donut does regular police recaps sometimes deadly serious, other times really funny.  His takes on K-9 units are mostly in the latter territory.  This is one of the more CoC-friendly videos of police dogs in action, and it is pretty funny to watch a crazy junkie get used as a chew toy.

He has a few other videos with funny commentary, with K-9 “translation”, but be warned that there is ample use of arresting language.   “That guy smells like methamphetamine and bad choices.”   or Deploy the fur missile!

One of the things I’ve learned is police officers deal with the craziest parts of society, people at their worst and best, they outright hilarious to nightmarish tragedy.   With all of this, it is good to have a partner to count on, regardless of whether they are on two legs or four legs.

If any of Ricochet’s law enforcement community has some good K-9 stories, feel free to post them below.

Show Me The Fruit

 

One of the things that makes mankind special is that we can – and do – take in data, make sense of it, assign it to categories in order to make it useful, and act accordingly. These categories, whether they are of the more scientific “mammal or not mammal?” variety or the softer stereotypes of, “Does that person pose an above-average risk to my person?” are not necessarily accurate – but they tend to be broadly helpful in going about our lives.

There are always dangers with categorization, as we know very well. Broad stereotypes lead to enhanced tribalism of all kinds (from xenophobia to racism). There is a reason the Torah tells us to have the same law for the stranger within our gates as for the citizen – we instinctively think otherwise.  Nevertheless, the same text tells us that we must categorize and make judgments. We must be responsible for our actions and choices because it is our choices that define who we are.

What amazes me is that there seems to be a broad push within the liberal world to remove all the classic categorizations: nobody in polite intellectual company uses the word “evil,” for example. Or, for that matter, asserts that people have souls. Of course, if we do not make moral decisions, then we are reverting to a more basic existence where nothing is “good” or “bad.” Such labels have no meaning to a mere animal.

When I wrote the first draft of this piece, I thought that we were seeing a reversion to the Garden of Eden – to a time before we ate the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, and learned to see the world in categories, with everything assigned a place along some kind of scale between opposites: beautiful and ugly; good and evil; man and woman; materialism and spiritualism; matter and energy. By eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we learned how to make distinctions and judgments, to perceive that there are in fact moral differences that we can and should see.

But, as @susanquinn so delicately corrected me, I was wrong. Liberals are not actually keen to remove all categories, to put us back into a primordial mental state where we can no longer make useful distinctions.

Instead, they want to rewrite everything. Stereotypes are necessary to a liberal – it is just that all the ones we have from experience and tradition must be wrong by virtue of the fact that they come from that same experience and tradition. So liberals absolutely have stereotypes about whites and blacks, men and women, and even good and evil; it is just that everything we thought was right is, apparently, wrong.

We thought it was best to judge people by the content of their character: WRONG. We thought that men and women brought unique perspectives and value to relationships: WRONG. Heck, we even thought that there was such a thing as “men” and “women.” The joke is clearly on us. How could we have been so blind so as not to see that white people are bad, and gender is fluid, and humans are just animals? The world was SO wrong for so many millennia. Bad world.

Liberals do not want to eliminate distinctions. They just want to rewrite them all.

Still, my earlier thought that the liberals seek to revert mankind is not entirely incorrect. Because there was a key feature about living in the Garden of Eden: there was nothing productive to do there. Eden was a paradise – one with no mission, no tasks, no responsibility. All Adam and Eve could do was engage in hedonism, the ancient equivalent of endless orgies and Netflix-bingeing. They had no jobs, no children, nothing of what we would today call “real life.” Adam and Eve did not have to be adults.

And it seems to me that this is a key feature desired by the Left. Marx wanted everyone to have a job, but modern liberalism wants everyone to be given money with no obligations attached. Because there are no traditional roles, there is no traditional family. Because life is just about self-identity (and especially sexual identity), there is no investment in other people, and certainly no investment in a relationship with G-d. We fixate instead on how, in our deepest and basest fantasies, we want to deploy our sexual organs. Not for the sake of growth or reproduction, but just to scratch an itch. This was the Garden of Eden. It is also the liberal paradise.

In this – OK, I admit it, grossly overextended – analogy, then the thing that broke mankind’s stay in Eden was when Adam and Eve decided to do the one thing that made this paradise impossible: they ate the fruit, and deliberately chose to be able to make clear distinctions between good and evil – and every other dichotomy found in the world. Like the child who sees the emperor is naked, Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened.

Adam and Eve became hopelessly bored in the Garden, and they had no sense of what would happen if they ate the fruit. We have an advantage over them: we do not need to act out of sheer boredom or bloody-mindedness, because we have already tasted the fruit, and we see the value in family and relationships and creative work and an honest living from hard work. I choose not to be an animal. I choose not to be the sum of my lusts. And I seek to always be able to tell good from evil.

Which means that if anyone can tell me what fruit I can eat that enables mankind to once again be able to distinguish between Good and Evil, please do so. Like Adam and Eve, I would much rather do the one thing I am told not to do, rather than endure another minute of this narcissistic pointlessness.

Conservatives Are Defined by Their Tolerance

 

The increasingly ubiquitous and bitter partisanship in America recently seems very odd to me, partially because I really don’t understand the basic, central difference between leftists and conservatives.  In the Civil War, Democrats and Republicans had obvious and important things they disagreed on, such as slavery and human rights.  Things seem nearly as hostile now – surely we’re not arguing about trans-sexual bathrooms or something – there must be a big topic somewhere, that I’m missing.  I discussed this in the Land of Confusion podcast with Don and David a few weeks ago, and I’ve linked to that portion of the conversation below – it runs for about six minutes.  I hope you’ll listen to it to get my point, but I’ll try to summarize here.

Leftists tend to believe in strong, centralized power structures.  Democrats are the party of big government.  I know that Republican politicians don’t always do a great job opposing the Democrats on this point, but I think a large majority of Republican voters view their ideal government as much smaller and much more constrained than Democrat voters do.  President Obama said that government is the word we use to describe the things we all do together.  Leftists profess to believe in cooperative efforts within communities, and view conservatives as radical individualists who believe in an “every man for himself” society, and say that Republicans lack empathy for others.  I know these stereotypes are just that – stereotypes – but just for the sake of argument, follow along with me here.

What I find interesting about all this is that leftist societies, which ostensibly are based on cooperative effort and collectivism, tend to be violent, tribal societies that eventually tear themselves apart.  While other societies, which are based on respect for individual thought and individual rights, tend to be more peaceful and community-based.  Part of this, of course, is the Marxist tendency to coordinate groups of lower- and middle-class people, who use their superior numbers to take what they want from the wealthy few.  But I think there’s more to it than that.

Societies that respect individual thought and individual rights are by nature more tolerant.  If you want to continue to be permitted to do as you please, you are obligated to allow your neighbor to do as he pleases, or else your rights won’t last long, either.  And if you have sufficient self-respect to actually take your views seriously, then you tend to respect the views of others, even if you disagree.

Whereas if you’re in a more collectivist society, then your identity is less dependent on your individual thoughts, and more dependent on your membership in a group.  By remaining loyal to your group, you gain power.  But only at the cost of conceding some of your rights as an individual.  If you are ok with that, then you are less likely to respect the rights of individuals with whom you disagree.

There are some criticisms of conservatives that I can understand.  But when a leftist criticizes a conservative for being intolerant, I just don’t understand that.  A conservative is, by nature, more tolerant.  He simply has to be, if he wants his rights to be tolerated as well.  I would even argue that if someone really cares what someone else thinks, and seeks to control their behavior, that their intolerance defines them as a leftist.  I’m sure there must be exceptions to that rule, but none leap to mind.

The baker from Colorado (Jack Phillips) has become famous for declining to bake cakes for trans-sexual transitions, or other things that conflict with his Christian faith.  But when he declines such jobs, he very politely gives the prospective customer a list of other bakers in his town who would be happy to help them with their request.

The baker is not telling them what to do with their life – he simply declines to participate.  That, to me, is the definition of a conservative.  I admire him for standing for his beliefs, while allowing others to do the same.

And he is going to lose.  They will keep going after him until they destroy him.  Because they are Democrats, and they are by nature intolerant.  And that’s it.

So societies based on respect for individualism are paradoxically more peaceful and community-minded, while collectivist societies tend to tear themselves apart.

In fact, I’m not even sure that it’s paradoxical.  That’s just the way it is.

If you’re so inclined, listen to my effort to explain this – it’s about 6 minutes long, and I have the video below cued up to that point in the conversation.

I’d be interested to hear your perspective on this idea.

Thanks much.

.

The Backstory on the Portland Police RRT Mass Resignation

 

The Rapid Response Team of the Portland Police Bureau has endured over 150 nights of rioting. Not protests, riots. Riots that have not only destroyed the city’s reputation but have physically destroyed different neighborhoods in the city. Almost every member of the team has sustained injuries. Channel 2 News released a 14-point memo sent to the PPB Chief:

At the top of the list, Clark said nearly every team member had been injured during the protests last year.

“The injuries received ranged from multiple members with broken bones, torn ligaments and cartilage, traumatic brain injuries, hearing damage, damaged eye sight, lacerations, and burns,” he wrote.

He said members felt that bureau directives were being interpreted retroactively, leading to members being disciplined for policy changes that had not been in place when the officer acted during a protest.

Who has the George Soros prosecutor in Multnomah County started to prosecute? He’s searching for police officers to prosecute. He’s contacting attorneys whose rioting clients are suing the city. Some PPB officers allege he’s investigating police officers in hidden backdoor investigations. He does appear to be involving outside attorneys in the investigation of PPB officers.

“We reached out to other attorneys to see if their clients would be interested in pursuing any criminal cases,” Schmidt told The Oregonian/OregonLive. Schmidt said Budworth’s indictment may encourage others to come forward with information on alleged police excessive force.

“I hope it gives people in Multnomah County confidence that the system works,” the district attorney said. “That nobody is above the law.”

Over 1,000 rioters have been arrested in Portland. The District Attorney hasn’t spent much time investigating and charging rioters.

One wonders if merchants in Portland have confidence in the “system works” when they see the damage done to their stores, and the looting of their stores. Police officers and deputies in Portland, as well as officers in counties surrounding Portland, have no confidence in George Soros’s man in Portland.

The Feds are starting to pile on as well. I find it rather ironic that US Attorneys watched night after night of their courthouse being vandalized, and watched as federal officers attacked by rioters are now going after the PPB.

 I do have one question for the Feds: When will we be able to see the Ashli Babbitt shooting investigation? A fair question in light of the fact that in 150 nights of rioting, not one rioter was shot by a Portland officer.

Why Is the Left So Insanely Crazy?

 

I always ask, “why?” In this case, “why is the left so insanely crazy?” I tend to think that most things don’t have a single cause but maybe three or four causes that act independently of one another. And after all, knowing what causes are at the root of a major problem is necessary, I think, to even beginning to consider fixing the problem, by fixing them at their root causes.

And we’ve discussed generically two causes; and as for the third cause, we have attempted to psychoanalyze the loud or the proud or the violent left, and we’ve mentioned that the future may look empty and fruitless to the younger generations, due to lack of economic parity with their parents, and lack of opportunities, and digital social isolation. So far I think we have generally identified two, and now I think I’ve read about a third.

The two causes I think we can pretty much generally agree on are:

1. Divorcing ourselves from God, and thereby remaining open to any other philosophy or religious presentation.

2. The “march through the institutions” and the successive brainwashing of generation after generation; but what is the cause of this? I suppose, aggressive communist infiltration and subversion.

3. And now, finely tuned psyops – transferred to your viewing screen, in your pocket, where ever you go. The upgraded reintroduction of techniques drawn from MKULTRA. It really seems to explain the rage and the intransigent thinking of otherwise nice people, family, and old friends.

The second half of this post is a good succinct explanation taken from Jack Wedam’s article at American Thinker.

*****

But first a quick takeaway on what MKULTRA is for those who may not be aware. These are snippets from the 173-page report to Congress in 1977 (including to Joe Biden) and long but worth the read.

PROJECT MKULTRA, THE CIA’S PROGRAM OF RESEARCH IN BEHAVIORAL MODIFICATION

JOINT HEARING BEFORE THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE AND THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON HEALTH AND SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH OF THE COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RESOURCES

UNITED STATES SENATE NINETY-FIFTH CONGRESS FIRST SESSION

AUGUST 3, 1977

***

Senator WALLOP. So I think it is fair to say, too, that the experience of many American prisoners of war in the Korean conflict would indicate that there are behavior modification procedures in use by foreign powers of a fairly advanced degree of sophistication.

Admiral TURNER. Yes, sir. Senator WALLOP. Again, I will just go back and say I think this must have been part of the motivation.

***

Senator SCHWEIKER. Mr. Gittinger, a moment ago you mentioned brainwashing techniques, as one area that you had, I guess, done some work in. How would you characterize the state of the art of brain-washing today? Who has the most expertise in this field, and who is or is not doing it in terms of other governments? During the Korean war there was a lot of serious discussion about brainwashing techniques being used by the North Koreans, and I am interested in finding out what the state of the art is today, as you see it.

***

APPENDIX A

XVII. TESTING AND USE OF CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL AGENTS BY THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY

***

4. MKULTRA was the principal CIA program involving the research and development of chemical and biological agents. It was “concerned with the research and development of chemical, biological, and radiological materials capable of employment in clandestine operations to control human behavior.”

In January 1973, MKULTRA records were destroyed by Technical Services Division personnel acting on the verbal orders of Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, Chief of TSD. Dr. Gottlieb has testified, and former Director Helms has confirmed, that in ordering the records destroyed, Dr.Gottlieb was carrying out the verbal order of then DCI Helms.

MKULTRA began with a proposal from the Assistant Deputy Director for Plans, Richard Helms, to the DCI, outlining a special funding mechanism for highly sensitive CIA research and development projects that studied the use of biological and chemical materials in altering human behavior. The projects involved:

***Research to develop a capability in the covert use of biological and chemical materials. This area involves the production of various physiological conditions which could support present or future clandestine operations. Aside from the offensive potential, the development of a comprehensive capability in this field of covert chemical and biological warfare gives us a thorough knowledge of the enemy’s theoretical potential, thus enabling us to defend ourselves against a foe who might not be as restrained in the use of these techniques as we are.***

MKULTRA was approved by the DCI on April 13, 1953 along the lines proposed by ADDP Helms.

Part of the rationale for the establishment of this special fund-ing mechanism was its extreme sensitivity. The Inspector General’s survey of MKULTRA in 1963 noted the following reasons for this sensitivity:

a. Research in the manipulation of human behavior is considered by many authorities in medicine and related fields to be professionally unethical, therefore the reputation of professional participants in the MKULTRA program are on occasion in jeopardy.

b. Some MKULTRA activities raise questions of legality implicit in the original charter.

c. A final phase of the testing of MKULTRA products places the rights and interests of U.S. citizens in jeopardy.

d. Public disclosure of some aspects of MKULTRA activity could induce serious adverse reaction in U.S. public opinion, as well as stimulate offensive and defensive action in this field on the part of foreign intelligence services.”

Over the ten-year life of the program, many “additional avenues to the control of human behavior” were designated as appropriate for investigation under the MKULTRA charter. These include “radiation, electroshock, various fields of psychology, psychiatry, sociology, and anthropology, graphology, harassment substances, and paramilitary devices and materials.” The research and development of materials to be used for altering human behavior consisted of three phases: first, the search for materials suitable for study; second, laboratory testing on voluntary human subjects in various types of institutions; third, the application of MKULTRA materials in normal life settings.

*****

This is from Jack Wedam‘s article “CIA-developed influence strategies kept showing up in the last 18 months” at American Thinker:

The same Senate report claims… that all the MKUltra documents were destroyed. However, US Patent 8,095,492, issued in 2012, claims “a set of MKUltra documents were discovered, which had escaped destruction by the CIA” and were used to develop the seemingly anodyne “influencing strategies” that are the patent’s subject.

That re-naming is significant because many consider the word “brainwashing” a pejorative. For those trying to disguise their nefarious activities, “influencing strategies” sounds much nicer and more respectful, softer, and gentler. Still, using subliminal tactics to change people’s minds to advance political agendas is despicable, no matter the label.

Reading patents can be boring and time-consuming. However, you do not have to read all of the document’s “influencing strategies” to find a tremendous amount of disturbing information. After you pull up the patent, use the find feature on your computer (CTRL+F), and then search for the following words and phrases:

  • MKULTRA
  • CIA’s “manual on trickery”
  • psychological and social distortion of information
  • deceive
  • deceptive statistics
  • manipulate
  • false choices
  • all the clever tricks, must be concealed
  • brainwashing
  • the best deceptions are the ones that seem to give the other person a choice
  • influencing an actor using expertise

The patent is filled with many more examples of brainwashing techniques.

US Patent 8,095,492 also makes frequent mention of expert opinions, expert interviews, expertise, etc. as means by which to influence people. (NB: Textual errors are in the original quotations):

  • “Expert opinions are also used to impact the advice provided.”
  • “Influencing groups and individuals by applying results of social science.”
  • “Social projection and most people think that most other people agree with them about their views on the false consensus effect, things.”
  • “Exaggerated impressions of social support.”
  • “The `historical movies` that come out of Hollywood are examples of how telling a good story often distorts facts.”
  • “Asking an actor to advocate for the your position as an expert.”
  • “When someone believes you are an expert, they will tend to defer to your more than others opinions regardless of the sensibility of those opinions.”

Don’t those sound remarkably like some of the talking points repeated so often in the news media and social media? Believe the scientists. Trust the experts. Believe the expert opinions.

This patent also indicates that a person or organization can create a system that tracks people as individuals and continually monitors the success of the influencing strategies on the targeted individual. A computer system can then automatically recommend influence actions to further influence the behavior of the targeted individual towards a “desired outcome.” Artificial intelligence is also mentioned in this patent.

According to a former CIA insider, “‘Everything you have in that cellphone,’ she says, pointing to an iPhone, ‘is what we were working on for our whole careers.’” It’s an interesting coincidence, to say the least, that the same smartphones that constantly pump information into us through social media and news apps came from the same CIA that created the original “influencing strategies.”

We generally note the start of the decline in society and the rise of racism again with the installation of President Obama in 2008, and isn’t that about the time that (addictive) smartphone became popular?

There is absolutely no way of knowing whether Democrats across America – in the government, the social media arena, the mainstream media, etc. – know a single thing about MKUltra. It is, though, noteworthy that they’ve inundated America with “influencing strategies” that have succeeded in turning the gullible among us into fanatics. These fanatics often rage at others who dare to disagree with the information they’ve internalized – even when much of that information reliably proves to be wrong and the remainder can be intelligently and reasonably rebutted.

What Happened to Ireland?

 

One hundred years ago the original IRA fought the most powerful empire in the world to a standstill in Ireland. This resulted in the UK granting a de facto independent state to Ireland’s political leaders, which became a republic within thirty years. Much of the original IRA were devout Mass-going Catholics. My ancestors among them.

I wonder had they seen into the far future the Ireland of today – secular degenerate and liberal with a vicious anti-Catholicism in the air – would they have bothered.

I wonder.

Speaking of awful wonders, all month in my local city in Waterford a culture war has been going on between pride supporters and those opposed to its promotion. Several LGBT flags have been vandalised. Cue horror from liberals. Well, now the liberals did their own vandalism.

On the entrance to Waterford city, they covered over a famous mural with the pride colours.

Vandalism. Pure vandalism. Sick and sad. We all know that flag is not about tolerance in modern society. But fitting for modern Ireland.

Woke, CRT, and BLM Types: Straight, White Guy Has Questions

 

I have questions. I’m a straight, white guy, so please bear with me as I couch these questions the only way I know: like a straight, white guy. I know. But you’ve lived in my white guy world for years, so just act like the way you were until three or four months ago.

First question: A request really. Give me one or two concrete examples of “Systemic Racism.” White culture talking here but maybe throw in a place, name, date, or other details such that I can follow you. I’m hoping for facts and logic here — again white culture stuff — but it’s who I am. The media doesn’t explain anything anymore, and I need information to process all this woke cum racist-anti-racist stuff. I’m White!

Second question: What do you expect all of us straight, white guys to do? Let’s say I saw the “I am a racist” light, and now I want to lead the rest of my life as a good, honest, non-racist guy. What would that look like? How would it manifest itself? Maybe a leopard can change its spots. And again, sorry, my whiteness is showing, but can you explain this in plain, clear words from a dictionary printed before last year?

Last question: When are you going to stop using cars, airplanes, phones, and other inventions created by white guys? I have some spare Covid relief funds and I want to pick up stuff cheap. Because I’m a capitalist too.

Ricochet, please ask your questions in the comments.

Member Post

 

I took a job with Cigna Healthplan of Tucson in 1985 when I left the Navy. The company was a staff model HMO. That was at the beginning of the onset of managed care, which developed when Reagan was President. The idea was to control sky-rocketing healthcare costs. The sky-rocketing healthcare costs were a consequence […]

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Chaos in Austin: Update

 

Some updates on the mass shooting in Austin that I reported on earlier. Sadly, one of the victims, a visitor from Michigan, has died. Another woman remains in critical condition.

Two arrests have been made. Oddly enough, the 17-year-old arrested appears to exactly match the “vague” description provided by the police that the UT Football News refused to publish “as it is too vague at this time to be useful in identifying the shooter and such publication could be harmful in perpetuating stereotypes.”

KXAN, a TV station actually more interested in reporting news than in virtue-signaling, published the Chief of Police’s description: “He said the man may be a Black man with a “skinny” build and locs-style hair.” Here’s a photo of the suspect:

News stories indicate that the event was the result of a dispute between two individuals who had engaged in previous violent confrontations.  The identity and demographics of the second suspect have not been released as “they” is a juvenile.* And I have a hunch that we all can make a pretty accurate guess as to “their” demographics.

As usual, the anti-gun people chimed in saying that lack of gun control is the cause of this incident. Never overlook the opportunity for a tragedy to advance your political agenda.** It’s pretty easy to counter that by pointing out that both of the suspects were violating laws already on the books.  It is already illegal for both of the suspects to possess concealed handguns. The laws don’t mean anything unless you enforce them.

But they don’t want enforcement, either, because the majority of people arrested are going to look something like the photo above. Police in Minnesota recently attempted to make an arrest for a weapons violation; the result was more rioting. But being leftist means you never have to take responsibility for any of your policies.

* Using the proper pronoun makes that sentence look so much better, doesn’t it?

** Though Texas Governor Greg Abbott is not exactly shying away from using the victims to advance his own political agenda.

Member Post

 

Neutral observer and I have been binge watching the old Mary Tyler Moore Shows for a while now.  Last night, we watched the episode most often cited as the best one in the series, “Chuckles Bites the Dust”.  I’ll forego the spoiler alert because the episode is about 46 years old, so here’s a recap. […]

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