Louisiana MAGA-nificant Election

 

Louisiana is one of the states that has a top-two or “jungle” primary system, in which all candidates of all parties compete head-to-head. If one candidate gets 50% plus 1, they are the outright winner, otherwise the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, go on to a mid-November run-off election. President Trump both stopped the Democratic Party from an outright win in the governor’s race but also used the Lake Charles MAGA rally Thursday to preach solidarity to both strong Republican candidates and their supporters. It was Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment restated as he brought Ralph Abraham and “Eddie” Rispone up together to speak to the crowd: “You are not allowed to hit your Republican opponent. You are only allowed to hit John Bel Edwards, because he deserves it.”

President Trump reminded everyone of the rules of the election and the vital importance of turnout “vote before you go to the game.” “Get out and cast your ballot for Eddie or Ralph. Eddie or Ralph, it’s important.” “Let’s get a runoff. Just vote tomorrow for the entire Republican ticket.” He got the desired results, with 43 percent turnout on this off-cycle primary. The Democratic incumbent governor was forced into a run-off against Eddie Rispone, who narrowly edged out Ralph Abraham. Ralph Abraham immediately endorsed Rispone, and President Trump tweeted his congratulations to “the Great State of Louisiana.”

Looking at the rest of the races, Republicans won outright, exceeding 50 percent of the votes cast, in five of seven statewide races. Republicans split the vote in the governor’s race three ways: 27/24/1. If most of these people show back up in November, the Democratic Party incumbent will lose. Likewise, the Secretary of State will almost certainly be a Republican, as they split the vote 41/19/6, versus the one Democrat taking second place with 34 percent of the primary vote.

Overall, you can see that this is now an overwhelmingly Republican electorate at the statewide race level. Rispone came out ahead of Abraham with a very strong play on the idea that he, a businessman, was going to be like Trump. No one is running away from the president and leader of their party in Louisiana. See a good local analysis in the Monroe News Star. The Louisiana Secretary of State has the election results in clean graphic and numbers form.

Oh, Ralph Abraham is not out of the picture; he is still Congressman Abraham. His path now is likely to be advancing into House leadership, working with Rep. Steve Scalise for a renewed Republican majority.

Member Post

 

This story was brought to my attention by @ctlaw . He asked me who fired the shots. It’s a good question, and it’s one of the question’s homicide detectives are asking concerning the following incident. The news release from the Portland Police Bureau website: UPDATE: Victim Deceased in Vehicle Crash and Shots Fired in Kerns […]

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Beto: the Kang Candidate

 

I have long suspected that Beto O’Rourke is an alien, and not the kind that merely comes from another country, but one who may not even be from this solar system. His presidential campaign, after all, is a strange and almost parodical pastiche of exactly how conservatives have parodied the extremes of liberalism for years. It’s as though all he knows of being an “Authentic American” came from a battered bootleg copy of Jack Kerouac, and all he knows of campaigning is what he learned some 20 light-years out as the faint broadcast signals of the late 90s reached his starship, and the only one he could pick up cleanly was Rush Limbaugh’s brief TV run. Plus an early Simpson’s Halloween special that he misunderstood as a training video for his species.

How else does one explain Beto’s outbursts and truly bizarre proclamations? They’re not the sort of thing a sane and rational Democrat would actually say out loud and in public even in these crazy times (even if they were thinking them). Most politicians have at least some inner-monologue filter that prevents them from appearing honest or emotional, and they normally only disable that filter if they think nobody is listening (which is a foolish assumption anymore because somebody is always listening, somebody always has a voice recorder and video camera handy in the form of a phone). Romney’s “47 percent,” remark, Hillary’s “Basket of Deplorables,” Obama’s “Bitter Clingers,” and ¡Jeb!’s entire primary bid was all well-remembered political gaffes, not political triumphs, but one suspects Beto does not quite understand the context, and thus misses the lesson.

Already Beto bears an uncanny resemblance to Otto, from A Fish Called Wanda (Link here, language warning), reading the news and the signs of the times, but not understanding any of it. And so it was that after decades of the Democrat Party insisting that its drive for gun control and registration was only about safety, and would never ever pinkie-swear lead to confiscation, what does Beto say?

www.ammoland.com

He wasn’t supposed to say that out loud! You never say anything like that out loud! You don’t say that unless you’re hoping to lose, and lose bigly. And if you’re hoping to take out a few others in your party too. I can imagine that after that debate the burly guys in white coats were waiting with the happy juice, but (since Beto is not actually human) it did not take. One would think that angering gun owners (about as single-issue a voting block as Pro-Lifers, and always tetchy since leftists are always singling them out) is something the Democrats want to avoid doing in a national election, given how motivated they are as voters. But not Beto. The filter is missing, and so is the understanding. About what one would suspect if he were either a fool or (as I am now convinced) a space alien.

After all, for his next act, Beto had to take a swipe another rather tetchy and under-siege voting group: Christians. One of the most overused arguments against religious objections to Same-Sex Marriage and the militant expansion of trans-rights everywhere was that such objections were unwarranted. Just as the Democrats have always sworn that they weren’t really going to come after gun owners, so too had they sworn that they would never ever pinkie-swear come ofter religious organizations, and certainly not ever after churches. Obama, of course, went and did just that, but at least had the courtesy to try to claim that schools, hospitals, and charity organizations were not valid (and therefore protected) religious expressions because they were not actual churches. Beto (aka Kang) has no such subtlety or filter.

Yes, Kang has flat-out demanded that religious institutions toe the political line or lose their tax status as non-profit institutions. At that same town hall, other candidates only hinted that they would demand churches to share their politics, and Beto, being a space alien, instead just blurted it out.

I am convinced that Beto cannot actually be human. No human Democrat candidate would say this aloud. But a space alien would. In the 1996 Treehouse of Horror episode of The Simpsons, the final short story, called Citizen Kang, showed space aliens kidnapping Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, then the presidential candidates, and assuming their identities in a bid to take over and enslave the earth. Kang, in disguise as Bob Dole on the campaign trail, blurts out:

Only a space alien would think first to say “abortions for all”, and so I’m expecting that to be Beto’s next act. After all, only a space alien would also have clearly said “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15”, and only a space alien would say out loud that churches had to voice a totalitarian party line or else be treated as a mere business (remember: the Dems don’t think businesses have any speech rights). It’s either that, or Beto just doesn’t want to be the Dem nominee. But I think he desperately wants it. After all, Citizen Kang is a training video:

So if (God forbid) he gets the nomination, or (even worse) wins the elections, don’t blame me. I’m voting for Kodos. After all, it is a 2 party system.

How Lame Is Our Awesome God?

 

“When He rolls up His sleeves / He ain’t just puttin’ on the Ritz” must be one of the least promising ways to begin a worship song ever. Nobody rolling up their sleeves is “puttin’ on the Ritz.” The rolled-up sleeve-position used for manual labor is the opposite of the sleeve-position used for an old-fashioned fancy night out. And yet, that’s how Richard Mullins’s best-known song, Awesome God opens. Mullins himself considered Awesome God something of a failure, remarking, “the thing I like about Awesome God is that it’s one of the worst-written songs that I ever wrote; it’s just poorly crafted.” And yet it’s a song many of us remember fondly. Why?

To be fair, the lyrics get better from there: “There is THUNder in His footsteps / And lightnin’ in His fists.” Although not by much. Awesome God alternates patter in the verses with an expansive chorus, and the patter is hardly scintillating prose, much less verse. (“Eden” rhymes with “be believin’” — really?) The patter does, though, address themes often left out of “Jesus is my boyfriend”-style worship songs. God as Judge. Sin and its wages. God as God not just of happy, shiny, fluffy things, but also of the storm. And, when the song is sung at proper tempo (no slower than Mullins himself performed it), the rapid-fire, syncopated sixteenth-note patter creates an effect that surpasses its individual words. Especially when the worship leader delivers the patter in a half-snarled, half-whispered mutter, as if he’s letting you in on the secret of something dangerous — which he is: Aslan’s not safe, after all, just good. Notice I called the worship leader he. That’s important. Awesome God is made for a masculine musical delivery, and the difference between liking the song and hating it can simply be the difference between having learned it as masculine and driven, or crooning and wimpy.

***

Mullins’s fully-produced release of Awesome God projects a Motown-ish wall of sound, and it’s not bad, but this live recording, imperfect as it is, is more like what I’m used to — and, I think, better reflects what makes the song beloved:

Delivery of the verses must be rough and quick in order to make the expansive chorus satisfying. Else the “uplift” of the chorus becomes cloying. Contrast Mullins in live performance to this well-known Hillsong rendition:

The Hillsong rendition omits the verses entirely, and yet it’s five minutes long — two minutes longer than the original! Mullins’s original is firmly grounded in a folksy natural minor, so that when the chorus blooms into the relative major, it creates an obvious, meaningful contrast with the verses. Hillsong’s rendition, on the other hand, starts with nearly a minute of repetitive, tinkly, slowwww piano riffing on what sounds like Hark the Herald Angels Sing — which you might recognize as a song in a major key. Huh. No wonder so many people hate this song, if that’s what they think it is. And don’t get me started on the wimpy crooning. If you had any snap in your celery before five minutes of this stuff, you wouldn’t afterward.

***

Mullins uses both rhythmic and tonal contrast to create a sense of uplift and expansion in the chorus. The tempo doesn’t change between verse and chorus, but the chorus feels the beat in more expansive chunks: the rapid-fire patter of the verse emphasizes sixteenth notes; the chorus, half notes. The bloom from minor to major in the chorus isn’t any old transition from minor to major, but specifically dropping the root of the chord down a major third from the tonic, a transition which goes “down” (in the root) and “up” (to the relative major) at the same time, broadening the feel of the music. In the key of E minor, often the key of lead sheets for Awesome God, this means dropping from an E minor chord to a C Major. C Major is the plagal or “Amen” chord for G Major, E Minor’s relative major, so dropping the root like this works an “Amen” sound in there, too.

I know of another song, purely secular — indeed, profane, that immediately caught my ear with the same musical hooks. It alternates aggressive patter in the verses with an expansive chorus containing the same chord-root drop down a major third from the tonic. It’s Mr Hurricane by the (short-lived) Montreal group Beast.

There’s a lot to hate about the hectoring, not-quite-native English in the verses of Mr Hurricane. The songwriter is a native French speaker, and it shows in her casual indifference to syllable stress (how “country” ends up rhyming with “me”). Anyone who’s sung liturgical works in French will recognize Francophones’ annoying insouciance on this point. (Poulenc, Messiaen, guys, I know you’re not alone, but I’m looking at you!)

But then, there’s a lot to hate about the patter in Awesome God, too. Still, driving patter, even bad patter, produces the kind of contrast with a lush, expansive chorus that keeps the chorus from becoming cloying. As a bitter, cynical, secular song of deliverance (from a bad marriage, I believe), Mr Hurricane has the wittier lyrics (odd as they are) of the two. But, as Mullins said of Awesome God, when it comes to worship, “what you want them to respond to is not how cleverly you did that; what you want them to respond to is your message.”

***

The way to sing Awesome God on our college campus (where I learned the song) was a little bit honky-tonk, a little bit metal, and when we hit the chorus, the guys (yes, guys) let it all hang out. If the chorus didn’t sound like it could have been on the soundtrack of Lynch’s Dune, we were doing it wrong. It was fun. It was not effeminate. And I think that’s why it was so beloved.

You don’t have to be a man to appreciate music with a more “masculine”, aggressive, delivery. Nor do you have to be a woman to appreciate a softer delivery. Neither do you have to be a male musician to produce aggressive music, nor a female musician to produce softer stuff; although, in vocal music, having men deliver aggressive, masculine material is the easier, less-confusing choice — and, especially in congregational worship, not being needlessly confusing or difficult is typically a good thing.

@LesserSonofBarsham observes, Awesome God is “one of the few worship songs in recent memory that I can think of that don’t require me to strain and sing like a tenor. While I love my church, most Sunday’s I’d be perfectly happy skipping most of the music.” @DNewlander also has fond memories of Awesome God. “I love that song. We used to sing it at our Sunday night Bible study. Sadly, I hate all the versions I’ve found on YT” — because the versions YouTube suggests are the wimpy, croony versions. I maintain Awesome God is fun if you ditch the wimpy crooning and go for the jugular. Adds DNew, “That’s what I meant when I said all the YT versions suck.”

***

Ricochetians who hate Awesome God, on the other hand, tend to have rather different memories of it. Says @Skipsul, Awesome God is

popular because narcissistic praise team “leaders” can exert dictatorial control over congregations by making them repeat the chorus 40 times “this time sing it like you mean it!” while sobbing uncontrollably into the mike and all over their flannel shirts and sandals. (not that I have bad memories of this or anything… or remember the pastor never letting that guy near a microphone ever again…).

Yes, sobbingly repeating the chorus over and over again would be unbearable. I think Hillsong has proven that. Other Ricochetians simply wonder, why be so fond of a song the writer himself admits is poorly-crafted, and which uses what is, after all, a fairly shopworn minor-to-major formula?

On the other hand, formulas become shopworn because they work. They can be employed well or poorly, of course, and sometimes their persistence is annoying — or at least amusing (warning, the Pachelbel Rant is mildly NSFW).

@BishopWash observes,

Then there’s “Our God is an Awesome Battlefield”. When “Battlefield” was in rotation on the radio, I kept singing Awesome God over the song.

How lame is our Awesome God? Lame enough not only to be mangled and overdone in its own right, but to worm its way into at least one secular hit. Beloved by some, hated by others, our Awesome God is lame enough to be a Battlefield.

This thread was inspired by a conversation in Ricochet’s PIT. Thanks to all partPITcipants, named and unnamed.

Central Parks

 

Autumn hit like a hammer this year. In little more than a week, coastal Texas dropped from blistering 100-degree days to chilly 50-degree nights. In the middle there, if only for a day or two, is perfection.

I took the opportunity to wander the barely beaten trails of a small nature reserve recently secured within Houston’s ravenous outreach. Though my area is not technically part of the big city, most stretches of forest have been cleared as the population bubbles endlessly. Returning to the creeks and wilderness of my youth was a fine October treat.

The larger trails require less care stepping over tangled roots. During the summer, our many snakes (some venomous) might bask in such small pools of unbroken sun. But the cool weather seems to have coaxed them to more open areas.

I saw only two couples on the trails, but thankfully a few critters. This little guy hid among some leaves until I took a step back and crouched. That made him curious.

This one seemed to follow me for half-a-mile before finally landing. I prefer to believe I was followed than that a vast network of butterflies keeps me under constant surveillance.

The Gulf Coast’s subtropical climate ensures we are never short of colorful insects. I left only my hands and face untouched by mosquito repellent, so of course, that is where they targeted. None got me good, at least.

Trails eventually opened to the creek bank, where dozens of plant species compete in untrod sunshine. The branches of a willow-like bush dangled gracefully in a glitter of white seed pods. Beautyberries were ripe for the picking. My family picked blackberries and honeysuckle when I was young.

A moth fanned its wings on a small patch of sand. Many more flitted about.

Bees busied themselves among a wealth of bright daisies. Texas hosts many wildflowers throughout the warm months.

Our own creek did not have such a wide beach when I was young. Otherwise, there might have been a campfire rather than a rope swing. Alas, the water is not as clean as it once was.

For clean water, one must circle back to the small lake. A few families were fishing for bluegill and bass.

A grebe was also fishing. I had hoped to find herons and egrets to photograph, but only saw them upstream while driving past. Only a week ago, I spotted a bald eagle passing overhead. They generally prefer larger lakes than my town can offer, but there are some to the north.

Finally, a red-eared terrapin, such as my brother and I caught as kids. About a dozen basked upon a log. Had our grandpa been around, he might have requested turtle stew.

Spring is still a woodland area with deer and plenty of other wildlife. But the big city rapidly gobbles up all it can, pushing nature lovers farther out. Thankfully, this 25-acre Peckinpaugh Preserve has kept a small taste of the good life for future generations.

Are there any pleasant parks or trails near you?

This post is part of October’s Group Writing series. If you can think of a Trick or Treat to write about, I hear Clifford is offering candy.

Democracy Under Attack

 

I hear that a lot these days, that our democracy and our Constitution are under assault. There’s a grain of truth in it, though neither so much nor of the nature those who use the phrase intend when they say it.

Ours is not really a democracy, of course, but rather a democratic representative constitutional republic: we democratically elect representatives who then create and execute the law on our behalf, themselves bound by a Constitution intended to limit their authority.

In general, our system works pretty well: it’s lasted a long time, and we have enjoyed a remarkably orderly transition of power, decade after decade, for centuries. Even during moments of true crisis, it has proven itself robust and resilient. There’s no reason to think failure is imminent, despite the breathless and self-serving proclamations of the talking heads of mainstream infotainment news.

There are, however, those who seek to undermine our system of government, usually with the best of intentions.

— There are calls to restrict political speech, this despite the clear and specific First Amendment guarantee of a right to petition the government. These efforts are usually couched as “campaign finance restrictions,” but their intent and their effect is to limit who can speak and how much they can say and on whose behalf.

— There are calls to compel people to use specific words and phrases — the so-called “preferred pronoun” legislation of NYC, for example — despite the fact that freedom of speech includes a freedom not to be forced to speak, and freedom of belief encompasses a freedom to not profess what one doesn’t believe. Similarly, there are calls for speech codes that would enforce “sensitivity” toward various groups. Sensitivity is nice; mandated sensitivity is fascistic — and not an American tradition.

— There are calls to abolish the Electoral College. This isn’t illegal: the Constitution was designed to be changed through carefully restricted means. But the Electoral College is an important aspect of our Constitutional republic, and efforts to disparage it represent a kind of popular assault on our Constitution.

— There is a growing undercurrent of speech suppression, of First Amendment disenfranchisement, masquerading as justifiable civil disobedience. We see this in its most extreme form in the hooded thugs of the so-called “antifa” movement, who threaten and beat those who attempt to express ideas of which antifa doesn’t approve. We see it in the childish anti-free-speech campaigns on college campuses, where invited guests who espouse unapproved views are hounded, sometimes violently, from the podium by self-righteous students and activists.

— There is a desperate movement to undo, under whatever pretext can be seized, the 2016 Presidential election. I understand that the results were disappointing to approximately half of the electorate, but that’s not an excuse to abuse every conceivable mechanism for the nullification of that election and to thwart the administration’s execution of the office. We’ve seen the fabrication of a Russian conspiracy, the invocation of everything from malfeasance to insanity, the Machiavellian leaking of information by high-ranking officials, and an endless stream of anonymously sourced accounts breathlessly announcing treasonous conduct in the Oval Office.

In the meantime, we have a President who continues to appoint excellent Constitutional originalists, men and women who have demonstrated a deep respect for the substance and defense of the Constitution. We have a President who, whatever his flaws, continues to obey the often wildly improbable dictates of lower courts. We have a free press, a robust national debate, an unmuzzled opposition that routinely abuses its freedom through blatant dishonesty and misrepresentation — and an electorate that will, next year, once again decide which party will occupy the White House, just as it has every four years throughout our nation’s history.

Our Constitutional representative democracy is healthy. Our electorate is lied to by a wildly left-leaning and embarrassingly monolithic press, but nonetheless manages to hear more than one side of our political story — and, often, has enough sense not to believe most of what it sees on television.

We need more open criticism of our dishonest media, more people standing up and demanding their right to use their own words and not those thrust upon them, more people bold enough to face down their would-be censors in the popular culture: more outspoken conservatives, in other words. But our democracy is not under attack — at least, not in the way those who use the phrase believe.

Things Could Get Out of Hand

 

Since the three press conferences addressing Turkey, Kurds in Syria, and U.S. forces, there has been a near-miss of US soldiers. The hostile take is from Newsweek. The Department of Defense statement, on the record, gives us the facts we know from the US side.

The facts of this situation, even taken from the Newsweek post, contradict the “abandoned” narrative. That is, US forces were in an observation post within visual distance of the Turkish border, and close to some Kurdish positions, from which there may have been mortar, light artillery fire, across the border into Turkey. It is a long border, with lots of points of contact, compared to the small, shallow border section the past days’ actions and chatter concerned.

It is true both that being within a few hundred meters of an exploding artillery shell is not risk-free and that the carefully worded DoD report, suggests either just one shell or one volley of shells, since it was “explosion,” not “explosions.” Missing from the description is whether the US and Turkish forces were in direct radio contact locally. I would guess not, from the circumstances.

Consider the whole, carefully-worded statement:

DOD Statement on Artillery Incident Near Kobani
OCT. 11, 2019

Attributable to Navy Capt. Brook DeWalt, Director, Defense Press Operations:

First, this is on the record, with a name attached for accountability.

U.S. troops in the vicinity of Kobani came under artillery fire from Turkish positions at approximately 9 p.m. local Oct. 11.

So, there was not a wholesale withdrawal, let alone “abandonment.”

The explosion occurred within a few hundred meters of a location outside the Security Mechanism zone and in an area known by the Turks to have U.S. forces present.

See the Secretary of Defense and Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff emphatic statement about grid locations having been communicated to the Turkish military. Did the local unit commander actually have this information? See also the use of the singular form of “explosion.”

All U.S. troops are accounted for with no injuries.

If this was intentional, if it was an attack, then we should expect multiple “explosions” in volleys of shells, adjusted to walk into the US troops’ position. That is how an artillery attack works. Such attacks tend to cause injury and death.

U.S. Forces have not withdrawn from Kobani.

So, apparently we are not abandoning this set of Kurds in this town.

The United States remains opposed to the Turkish military move into Syria and especially objects to Turkish operations outside the Security Mechanism zone and in areas where the Turks know U.S. forces are present.

We gave y’all the cotton-pickin’ grid coordinates. You do know how to read standard grids, as a NATO member, right?

The U.S. demands that Turkey avoid actions that could result in immediate defensive action.

Keep it up and someone is going to get really hurt, turkeys. I refer you back to Friday’s tape and transcript, where Gen. Milley said:

GEN. MILLEY: So the no-strike — the — the Turkish military is fully aware, down to explicit grid coordinate detail, of the locations of U.S. forces, and — and we have been in coordination with them through the CAOC in CENTCOM, at various levels throughout CENTCOM and personally at my level. So all levels of the chain of command — me, McKenzie, everybody — is coordinating with the Turks to make sure that they know exactly where American forces are, and — and everyone has been told.

Q: Throughout — throughout Syria, not just (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

GEN. MILLEY: Throughout Syria and in the zones of incursion; and everyone is fully aware that we are the United States military. We retain the right of self-defense, and our soldier, sailors, airmen and Marines will defend themselves. That’s clear and it’s unambiguous with anybody.

The danger of starting to shoot, especially of lobbing shells and bombs, is that accidents can also happen. Sometimes friendly forces get caught. Turkish commanders really need to think through what they are doing to control their fires. Turkish commanders should be establishing direct FM radio contact with US forces at grid locations mapped in the Turkish commander’s area of operations.

When You Get Matt Taibbi, Well, That’s a New Thing

 

I have read numerous articles by Matt Taibbi over the last few years, rarely agreed with his major conclusions although there were frequently points he made with which I did agree. Now, a sea change, where I find his major points in agreement with my own view, and that’s a new thing.

I’ve lived through a few coups. They’re insane, random, and terrifying, like watching sports, except your political future depends on the score.

…We have long been spared this madness in America. Our head-counting ceremony was Election Day. We did it once every four years.

That’s all over, in the Trump era.

Read the whole thing.

Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc, Seattle?

 

That phrase is commonly called a fallacy (“after this, thus because of this”), but you can judge this instance for yourself, with a couple of stories from KOMO-Seattle.

First, there is this story about the low morale at the Seattle Police Department. In recent years, there has been an increase in low-level street crime, and many cases of neighborhood-dwellers who shout and jeer at police officers while they are trying to do their job. The incidents in Ferguson, MO, and the rise of the “Black Lives Matter” movement have led to distrust of the police, and the feeling in some communities that the police do not serve them, but are a threat. The city government has not dealt well with the rise of homeless and drug-dealing people living in broken-down, unsightly RVs in city neighborhoods, among other things. Some neighborhoods have to hire their own private security when the City ignores their plight.

Then, there is this story of how one local company has responded to the conditions above. Street Crime Forces Environmentally-conscious company to Flee Seattle. Seattle prides itself on being very “green,” funding companies such as this one, banning those evil plastic bags and plastic straws, and building street-narrowing bike and bus lanes where automobiles are not allowed.

In these cases, Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc is not a fallacy, but very true.

Cross-posted at RushBabe49.com

Making Connections: The Dilemma of Persuasion

 

Decades ago, there was a television series by the BBC called “Connections.” Hosted by James Burke, it was an erudite tour de force through history showing how one thing leads to another. Burke literally connected the dots between the weaving machines and the digital computer.

This came to my mind as I was reading through the dissent by DC Circuit Judge Rao in Trump v Mazars USA, LLP and Committee on Oversight and Reform of the U.S. House of Representatives. This is the case where the House has subpoenaed President Trump’s tax records, not from Trump, but from his accountants. The subpoena was issued, not by a committee investigating impeachment, but by a committee purporting to oversee the operations of the Executive Branch.

And this is the crux of the dissent by Judge Rao: If Congress goes after evidence of wrongdoing by an impeachable officer, it must use impeachment processes (including safeguards for due process), not broader legislative processes. To do otherwise violates the Bill of Attainder provisions of the Constitution that prohibit Congress from meting out individual punishments — trial by legislature. If an officer is removed, the Executive and Judicial Branches can then deal with trial and punishment, as they do with all individuals.

Reading through the dissent, I think Judge Rao has done a fabulous job of making the correct legal judgment and setting out a roadmap for either the DC Circuit en banc or the Supreme Court to reverse the three-judge panel decision. But that is for lawyers. The bigger problem is how do you persuade the broader public of the rightness of a particular approach or decision? That brings me back to “Connections.”

It was a wonderful show, and it gave the public a better appreciation for how events interacted with one another to create the modern world. (It also was a great advertisement for History that seems so out of vogue with Progressive “education.”) But it is post facto or “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” to use a more common expression. It is what you see after things have happened.

The challenge of persuasion is to explain how the slotted cards that drove the English weaving machines in the early 19th century would likely result in digital computers, not that they did. When deciding public policy today or who to vote for that will embrace that policy the public must understand and believe in what is likely to come as a result. That is why politics is so unpredictable. And while the past is not destiny, it is trajectory, and remains important to both be taught and taught accurately. Revisionist historians like Howard Zinn do the public no favor by erasing dots and adding others that distort the trajectory of history.

This is the tension of the “originalist” vs. “living constitution” approach to law and policy. Judge Rao is an originalist — a believer that the Founders struggled with a human nature that was fundamental even though the world around it changed. “Living constitutionalists” presume that history has little or nothing to teach us and that we arise anew each day to make a better world. (To make a better world, Trump must be removed by any means necessary, therefore there are no constitutional restraints on that outcome.)

But conservatives, including Never Trumpers, know better. Humans are flawed and will continue to be flawed. Human institutions are also flawed and will continue to be flawed. Therefore power needs to be disbursed and restrained. Law must be tied to history and our legislators must honor that history, or all is lost. Judge Rao is not only arguing what the law requires, but what it is seeking to avoid — the unchecked power of a group of people to gang up on one. It must always be recalled that what can be done to another — no matter how detestable that other may be — can be done to you. And history shows that it will be if it is permitted to be. That is the connection that must be made for our citizens today.

Our citizens must be reminded that the world did not start the day they were born (else they would not have been born at all). Government is not your friend — at best it will be a compliant servant if you insist, and only if you insist, that it be so.

A Viking and an Italian Got on a Boat…with a Pole?

 

Columbus Erikson PulaskiPresident Trump has issued the standard annual proclamation for Columbus Day, without any bowing to the oppressive white man narrative. Nor, did he leave the “Columbus wasn’t first” script dangling, as he had already issued the lesser-known annual proclamation for Leif Erikson Day! In between those two proclamations about dead white guys, he issued a third! Friday, October 11, marked the anniversary of the death of General Pulaski! I considered some highlighted themes in the proclamations and offer brief analysis.

Presidential Proclamation on General Pulaski Memorial Day, 2019
Issued on: October 10, 2019

On General Pulaski Memorial Day, we remember Brigadier General Casimir Pulaski, the great Polish hero who fought and died in America’s noble pursuit of freedom during the Revolutionary War. We honor his bravery and unwavering commitment to liberty and self-government, and we pay tribute to the abiding friendship between the United States and Poland, which has prevailed since General Pulaski took up the sword on behalf of the American cause and helped forge our young Republic.

Throughout his military career, General Pulaski was renowned for his gallantry and skill on the battlefield. He fought courageously against the Russian Empire as Poland sought to secure its own freedom from foreign tyranny in the anti-Russian insurrection of 1768. Later, in 1777, that same conviction impelled him to journey to the United States and join General George Washington’s Continental Army.  At the Battle of Brandywine, Pulaski successfully covered the retreat of Washington’s troops and saved the life of the future first President of the United States. To show his gratitude, Washington promoted Pulaski to Brigadier General and entrusted him to lead his own independent cavalry unit, “the Pulaski Legion,” which included both American and foreign-born soldiers. This famous and formidable fighting force cemented Pulaski’s status as the “Father of the American Cavalry.”

On October 11, 1779, Pulaski made the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation when he succumbed to battle wounds that were inflicted during an attempt to retake the city of Savannah from British forces two days earlier. Although he did not live to see the British surrender at Yorktown, his indispensable role in advancing the American quest for self-governance is uniquely part of our country’s history. His undaunted spirit will forever be preserved in the hearts of those who take up the fight for liberty.

General Pulaski’s tremendous legacy of fighting for freedom and democratic principles continues to inspire us today. His name is forever enshrined next to such luminaries as Winston Churchill and Mother Theresa as one of eight individuals in the history of our country to have received the distinction of Honorary Citizen from the Congress of the United States.

As we celebrate General Pulaski as a great hero of our Nation, we are reminded of the bonds that unite the United States and Poland. The longstanding and enduring friendship of our two countries is strengthened and renewed each day by the more than 9 million people of Polish descent who are citizens of the United States. We greatly cherish the cultural, economic, and security ties that bind us, and we look forward to a fruitful relationship in the years and decades to come.

Notice that he is celebrated for fighting against the Russian Empire, meaningful today. Note that he is celebrated as a positive hero in noble causes, and that Polish contributions to America are to be celebrated. We see, in both the Columbus and Leif Erikson proclamations a celebration of courage, of exploration, of cultural contributions to our society, and of the nations of origin as important partners, allies who happen to point against unstated Russian aggression.

On Leif Erikson Day, we honor the spirit of exploration, courage, and faith that led this legendary Viking and his crew to sail across the Atlantic in search of new lands and opportunities more than a thousand years ago. His dream — to venture beyond the known horizon and redefine the impossible ‑- still defines and inspires Americans today.

Leif Erikson’s undaunted life of exploration began in Iceland — the same location where the Apollo 11 crew trained for its historic journey to the surface of the Moon. The bold spirit that propelled Erikson and his fellow mariners across an unknown ocean is the same spirit that carried our brave astronauts into space 50 years ago, and it is what continues to fuel our desire to unlock the mysteries of the universe and pursue the exploration of Mars.

Americans share strong bonds with the homelands of the Vikings. Millions of Americans proudly trace their ancestry to Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. All of these nations help keep our transatlantic community strong. They stand shoulder to shoulder with us as North Atlantic Treaty Organization Allies or partners to enhance regional peace and stability. And as members of the Arctic Council, we work together to promote sustainable growth, scientific research, and environmental protection in the High North while maintaining the region as an area of low tensions.

Nordic Americans contribute each day to the rich tapestry of our country by their self-reliance, drive, spirit of adventure, and cultural traditions.  On this day, we pay tribute to the remarkable achievements of Leif Erikson, and we celebrate the daring dreams, big vision, and passion for discovery of all people of Scandinavian heritage.

To honor Leif Erikson, son of Iceland and grandson of Norway, and to celebrate our Nordic-American heritage, the Congress, by joint resolution (Public Law 88-566) approved on September 2, 1964, has authorized the President of the United States to proclaim October 9 of each year as “Leif Erikson Day.”

These two days will occasionally coincide, as Columbus Day floats as the second Monday of October.*

On October 12, 1492, after a perilous, two-month journey across the treacherous Atlantic Ocean, Christopher Columbus and his crew aboard the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria landed in what is today The Bahamas. This watershed voyage ushered in the Age of Exploration, changing the course of history and setting the foundation for development of our Nation. Today, we commemorate this great explorer, whose courage, skill, and drive for discovery are at the core of the American spirit.

While Columbus sailed from the port of Palos under the Spanish flag, he took pride in the fact that he was a citizen of Genoa, Italy. The celebration of Columbus Day is, therefore, an appropriate opportunity to recognize the more than 16 million Americans who claim Italian heritage and to carry forth the legacy of generations of Italian Americans who helped shape our Nation. The United States greatly values its close bond with Italy, a longstanding friend, ally, and economic partner. Our relationship, built on shared values and a commitment to furthering peace and prosperity, continues to benefit both of our nations.

Columbus’s daring voyage to the New World brought two continents together, enabling a global perspective for the first time. The bold legacy of Columbus and his crew spun a thread that weaves through the extensive history of Americans who have pushed the boundaries of exploration. On Columbus Day, we draw inspiration from this intrepid pioneer’s spirit of adventure. We also affirm our commitment to continuing our quest to discover and better understand the wonders of our Nation, the world, and beyond.

In commemoration of Christopher Columbus’s historic voyage, the Congress, by joint resolution of April 30, 1934, and modified in 1968 (36 U.S.C. 107), as amended, has requested the President proclaim the second Monday of October of each year as “Columbus Day.”


* Naturally, the America hating left is on the case, seeking to stir hatred of both men and the migrations, the kind of globalism, they represented. Time, a former newsweekly, advises us that it is all raaacist!

Many Americans will celebrate the second Monday in October as Columbus Day, a federal holiday that marks the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s Spanish-led expedition arriving in the Americas, or as Indigenous Peoples Day, to acknowledge those who were displaced by European settlement in North America.

Others, however, will opt for Oct. 9 to celebrate something else: Leif Erikson Day, a celebration of the Viking explorer credited with reaching the continent around the year 1000, nearly 500 years before Columbus did.

But, while it may sound only fair to share the credit for exploration, the movement to recognize Erikson also has a dark back story, as Leif Erikson Day’s history is connected to nativist backlash against immigration to the United States. At one point, for some people, the debate over who really “discovered” America came down to one question: who was whiter?

[If you wish to read the nonsense in the bulk of the article, you might notice that places with heavy Nordic and Scandinavian immigrant populations had politicians who looked to celebrate their place in making America. You might find the same for Columbus and Mediterranean immigrant waves.]

Since at least FDR, American presidents have generally issued annual proclamations recognizing Oct. 9 as a day to honor Leif Erikson’s achievements and, more currently, the achievements of the larger Scandinavian-American community. At least for Brøndal, it’s hard to imagine the holiday will gain much more additional recognition at this point, especially as the tide grows behind the idea of Indigenous Peoples Day, since the celebration of the Viking explorer isn’t any less problematic in that sense than the celebration of the Italian explorer. And yet both holidays have become a source of pride, for Italian-Americans and Scandinavian-Americans, and have become opportunities for these groups to raise awareness about their roles in the American story.

But consider this, all three of the White House proclamations were nearly boilerplate. Not one was “Trumpian” or “populist” or anything other than plain vanilla presidential proclamation. No one serious would have considered this stuff controversial at any point in the past. Indeed, it is a mark of the common expectations in our country that the following was issued by President Obama in 2016:

More than 1,000 years ago, an intrepid Scandinavian explorer, Leif Erikson, embarked on a voyage that landed him on the North American coast. A son of Iceland and grandson of Norway, Erikson and his crew are believed to be the first Europeans to reach the shores of our continent, founding the Vinland settlement in modern-day Canada. Today, we recall Leif Erikson’s historic journey as we seek to carry forward the bold spirit of exploration that has inspired Nordic Americans for generations.

Eight centuries after Leif Erikson’s trip, six families of Norwegians boarded a ship called Restauration bound for New York City. Following in Erikson’s footsteps, these individuals sought the promise of freedom and opportunity America offered and became the first group of organized American immigrants from Norway. Millions of Americans proudly trace their ancestry to Nordic countries, raised by parents and grandparents who crossed oceans to carve out new lives for their families and help steer the course of our country. The United States and our Nordic partners are united by ties of family and friendship, history and heritage. Earlier this year, I was proud to welcome Nordic leaders to the White House. This visit illustrated many of the values and interests we share — including increasing opportunity for all and recognizing the inherent dignity of every human being.

Nordic countries remain some of our most reliable and effective partners, steadfastly helping us meet the shared challenges of our time. We remain grateful for their friendship, and for the ways the Nordic people have influenced our country and enhanced the American melting pot. On Leif Erikson Day, as we express our appreciation for the myriad contributions of Nordic Americans, let us remember the discovery that set this profound history in motion.

On the other hand, President Obama tried to please everyone with his Columbus Day proclamation:

In October of 1492, Christopher Columbus completed the first of his expeditions that would land him on the shores of North America. Sponsored by Isabella I and Ferdinand II, Columbus embarked on a 10-week voyage he had hoped would lead to Asia. But when his ships instead landed in the Bahamas, a new story began to unfold. The spirit of exploration that Columbus embodied was sustained by all who would follow him westward, driving a desire to continue expanding our understanding of the world.

Though Columbus departed from the coast of Spain, his roots traced back to his birthplace of Genoa, Italy. Blazing a trail for generations of Italian explorers and Italian Americans to eventually seek the promise of the New World, his voyage churned the gears of history. The bonds between Italy and the United States could not be closer than they are today — a reflection of the extraordinary contributions made by both our peoples in our common efforts to shape a better future. Across our Nation, Italian Americans continue to enrich our country’s traditions and culture.

As we mark this rich history, we must also acknowledge the pain and suffering reflected in the stories of Native Americans who had long resided on this land prior to the arrival of European newcomers. The past we share is marked by too many broken promises, as well as violence, deprivation, and disease. It is a history that we must recognize as we seek to build a brighter future — side by side and with cooperation and mutual respect. We have made great progress together in recent years, and we will keep striving to maintain strong nation-to-nation relationships, strengthen tribal sovereignty, and help all our communities thrive.

More than five centuries ago, one journey changed the trajectory of our world — and today we recognize the spirit that Christopher Columbus’s legacy inspired. As we reflect on the adventurers throughout history who charted new courses and sought new heights, let us remember the communities who suffered, and let us pay tribute to our heritage and embrace the multiculturalism that defines the American experience.

Note, too, the subtle contrast in President Obama’s General Pulaski Memorial Day proclamation:

Over two centuries ago, Polish immigrant Casimir Pulaski crossed an ocean to take up the cause of defending a young nation. Rising quickly to the rank of Brigadier General in the Continental Army, he reformed our cavalry, saved the life of General George Washington, and helped secure our independence. Today, we celebrate the legacy of liberty he forged and reflect on the many ways Polish-American voices continue to shape the unending story of our Nation.

Spending his formative years in Poland laboring for his home country’s independence, General Pulaski came to America with both an expertise in combat and a passion for liberty that made him invaluable to our new Nation’s fight for freedom. Leading a legion of men on horseback and working alongside General Washington, General Pulaski achieved victory after victory. But he would never see the results of his valiant efforts fully realized — he succumbed to battle injuries on October 11, 1779, giving his final full measure of devotion in defense of the ideals we cherish.

More than 200 years later, Polish Americans across our country honor the spirit of General Pulaski through their many contributions to our Nation and through living the values that unite us all. The proud members of the Polish-American community strengthen the rich heritage of our country — many serve in our Armed Forces, protecting the very freedoms General Pulaski helped secure centuries before — and they reflect the strong friendship that endures today between the United States and Poland.

On General Pulaski Memorial Day, we commemorate one of our Nation’s earliest embodiments of the belief that no matter who you are or where you come from, those who love this country can change it for the better. In honor of General Pulaski’s sacrifice and the important role Polish Americans play in our country, let us rededicate ourselves to defending our founding ideal of liberty for all.

That’s right! Russia is missing. Maybe this was part of being more flexible, while his team was spying on Donald Trump and building their insurance policy with the help of Russian operatives. Even so, the broad forms of acknowledging cultural contributions, even if they were by dead white guys, were observed—even by the president who promised to “fundamentally transform” America.

You’re Not Paranoid: The Trans Lobby Really Is Targeting Children

 

I honestly don’t care if a fully grown man or woman decides he or she is a member of the opposite sex and proceeds to augment and mutilate himself or herself with injections and surgery.

My problem with this is the deliberate targeting of vulnerable children by the LGBT lobby.

In the UK, we’re talking about children as young as three years old being diagnosed by supposedly sane experts as being “transgender.” Numerous school districts across the United States in thrall to the LGBT lobby have classes in which activists instruct little boys and girls to crossdress and “reconsider” their gender – all without parental knowledge or consent. In Illinois, Democrat Governor Pritzker has made such instruction mandatory with no option for parents to opt their children out.

The campaign against “conversion therapy” for gays has transferred itself to also prohibiting any therapy to assist children to come to terms with and accept their biological sex. Which is actually the healthiest outcome by any measure, as opposed to condemning a child to a lifetime of therapy, sterility, hormone shots, and continuous surgery. And that’s not to mention the high likelihood of cardiac, skeletal, and circulatory issues.

In every other case of body dysmorphia – from anorexia to a girl just wanting bigger breasts – therapists are supposed to discourage healthy patients from going under the knife and encourage them to accept their bodies as they are. It’s only transgenderism that encourages surgery and hormone injections that do horrific amounts of damage to the body as a matter of course as essentially the first, and often, only, option.

It’s gotten to the point that not only are therapists supposed to immediately refer a child for “gender affirmation” for something as innocuous as a four-year-old boy playfully clip-clopping around in his mother’s shoes, or a little girl playing with a truck, there are grounds for suspicion that a number actually coach children to threaten their parents with suicide and even to fake suicide attempts if they voice any doubts that this is the only option.

As it is, today, if a little girl is seen in a tube top and miniskirt and made up like a streetwalker, there’s no one who would object to Child Services taking the child away from her parents. But just take a look at the hagiographical articles being written about “drag kids”, i.e. little boys being dressed like female prostitutes and strippers, and the praise being showered on their parents – up to and including parents who take their boys to pole dance for leering men in adult clubs and model “clothes” for BDSM magazines and catalogs (if you can stomach it, duckduckgo “Queen Lactacia.”)

Which brings us all to the point of this all – why are trans activists insisting on children being subjected to these life-altering medically dangerous treatments at ever younger ages, to the point that they’re recommending that very young children be allowed to have these treatments over parental objections?

Because kids with gender confusion tend to resolve into being comfortable with their biological sex 95 to 98 percent of the time by puberty’s end, i.e., the number of children with gender dysphoria that persists past puberty is vanishingly small. This is, of course, the healthiest outcome for the child … but it is considered a “problem” by LGBT activists. And the solution to this “problem” is to prevent this resolution by aggressively targeting children while they’re still prepubescents.

The reason why gangs demand that new members get extensive tattoos and “prove” themselves by committing some crime – often horrific – as part of their initiation ritual is to make the new entrant feel there is no going back – MS-13’s “Mata, Viola, Controla” is not just a motto.

Once a child knows he/she has been injected with something to make him/her the opposite sex – with adults he/she trusts acting so proud and approving – that same feeling of “no going back” is introduced into the equation. Especially when the child can see his/her peers are virilizing/feminizing as puberty kicks in and hormone blockers have halted his/her own development. From there being a 95 to 98 percent chance he/she would eventually become comfortable as his/her birth sex, it crashes to near zero – it’s “too late.”

So here we are. Being unaware of your 14-year-old son getting a two-inch tattoo on his bicep could very well lose you custody of your child. But deliberately having your son injected with chemicals that would not only sterilize him but also weaken his bones, damage his heart and blood flow, and then take him to a surgeon to create superfluous infection-prone orifices on his body would have you celebrated on the pages of the New York Times. In fact, you’re now more likely to lose custody of your child for refusing to do so.

Endpoint: the Trump Administration should announce an immediate ban, however it works, on persons under the age of 18 being provided with gender transitioning treatments, along with a strong campaign highlighting the dangers of such treatments over and above the heads of the media. This would be an electoral winner with every demographic outside of journalists, Far Left college students and professors, and Hollywood.

It’s the ultimate wedge issue – not just good politics but good policy protecting the most vulnerable.

I Don’t Trust the American People

 

Politicians on both sides of the aisle insist that they can trust the American people. Since I have also believed there are reasons to have faith in our citizens, I always silently nod in agreement at these words. But this morning, I asked myself: What does that statement even mean?

At first glance, I assume that those of us who make this remark believe that ultimately citizens will learn/recognize/figure out the truth of a complex political situation. But do we really believe they will make that effort? Do we honestly think that the American people will get through the maze and hyperbole of the information they receive from the media to get to the “truth”?

If we review the last hoax perpetrated on the American people, also known as the Mueller Report, do you think that most people know at least the final results? Or in spite of the report’s conclusions, do they still believe that Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice?

The sad news is that a poll was taken to get people’s reactions to the report and the results were no surprise: for the most part, no one’s mind was significantly changed, even though Trump was not found guilty of obstruction or colluding with the Russians. The poll also points out, however, that few people had reviewed the results of the report. That suggests that most of the people polled had only received input from social media, the mainstream media or their friends (who more than likely share their views).

You may not be surprised by these results, but I’m greatly concerned about them. Once again, the Democrat and media partnership are attacking Donald Trump and his administration through their impeachment fiasco. (I refuse to call it anything else.) To some degree, the Republicans and President Trump are pushing back.

One example of this push-back is the eight-page letter sent from the White House defying the illegitimacy of this action. In part, it said:

Given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections, the Executive Branch cannot be expected to participate in it. Because participating in this inquiry under the current unconstitutional posture would inflict lasting institutional harm on the Executive Branch and lasting damage to the separation of powers, you have left the President no choice. Consistent with the duties of the President of the United States, and in particular his obligation to preserve the rights of future occupants of his office, President Trump cannot permit his Administration to participate in this partisan inquiry under these circumstances.

And yet the letter is described by some as a “tantrum.”

And this was Nancy Pelosi’s response, in part:

For a while, the president has tried to normalize lawlessness. Now, he is trying to make lawlessness a virtue. The American people have already heard the President’s own words—‘do us a favor, though.’ The president’s actions threaten our national security, violate our Constitution and undermine the integrity of our elections. The White House letter is only the latest attempt to cover up his betrayal of our democracy, and to insist that the president is above the law.

It makes sense for the President to refuse to cooperate. At the same time, you can be sure that the Democrats/media will continue to chastise Trump for his lack of cooperation, stating that he has something to hide. We can see the results of the propaganda being disseminated in this latest Fox Poll:

For those who prefer the 538 polls, here is a partial statement from that site:

According to our average, 48.8 percent of people support impeachment, while only 43.6 percent don’t support it.1 That’s an increase even from last week, when the share of people who supported and opposed impeachment were roughly the same. What’s changed? Early this week, we got a couple new, high-quality polls that showed a majority of Americans in favor of an impeachment inquiry. Most notably, a Washington Post-Schar School poll found that 58 percent of Americans agreed with the House’s decision to start an impeachment inquiry, and only 38 percent disagreed with it. And an Investor’s Business Daily/TIPP found that 55 percent approved of the House’s decision and 44 percent disapproved.

We can hope that the Inspector General’s report and the DOJ report authored by John Durham will have an impact on the current chaos and misrepresentations. But I’m not optimistic. The media will challenge the legitimacy of the information, mischaracterize it, or ignore it.

The public has demonstrated that even though it doesn’t trust the media, it continues to go to them for information. The public insists that it can weigh all the information and come to a legitimate conclusion, even though it doesn’t actually read the original sources or trust those who publicize this information. As long as the Left continues to control its message, we need to worry about the 2020 election.

Frankly, I don’t trust the American people.

Representing Queens in Denmark

 

Demonstrating once again her laser-like focus on representing the interests of her constituents in Queens, AOC flew to Denmark recently on an airplane that burned an enormous amount of fossil fuels. This no doubt thrilled those who live in her congressional district, who have plenty of time to follow their congressperson’s heroic exploits closely because they don’t work at an Amazon distribution center. AOC believes that it’s all about her constituents – it’s not about her, as you can tell from her statements to those assembled in Copenhagen:

“I speak to you not as an elected official or a public figure, but I speak to you as a human being,” the freshman congresswoman told a climate summit in Copenhagen. “A woman whose dreams of motherhood now taste bittersweet, because of what I know about our children’s future,” she added, apparently choking back tears.

Thankfully, she valiantly choked back her tears sufficiently to continue to heroically represent her constituents in Queens, NY, which is not far from Puerto Rico:

“I speak to you as daughter and descendant of colonized peoples who have already begun to suffer. Just two years ago one of the deadliest disasters in the United States struck in the form of Hurricane Maria,” she said. “The climate change-powered storm killed over 3,000 Puerto Ricans, American citizens — my own grandfather died in the aftermath — all because they were living under colonial rule, which contributed to the dire conditions and lack of recovery.”

So AOC is reluctant to have children because of the threat of climate change. A threat that is very real, especially to Queens residents who live under colonial rule, because her grandfather was killed by climate change two years ago. Strangely, she neglected to give his actual cause of death (drowning? heat stroke? not sure…). But he was killed by climate change. And colonial rule. So there you go.

But the good people of Queens can rest easy because they have a selfless hero in AOC who is willing to sacrifice everything – even her unborn children! – to save them from the type of selfish egomaniacs who would fly to Denmark on an airplane that burns an enormous amount of fossil fuels to attend a conference in person, rather than use Facetime or something.

It’s easy to see why the good people of Queens were so excited when AOC flew to Denmark on an airplane that burns an enormous amount of fossil fuels, although it’s also easy to understand how disappointed they’ll be when she flies back, on another airplane that burns an enormous amount of fossil fuels. Talk about choking back tears.

But AOC will lift them to a higher plane, as she bestrides the, um, ah…

Eh, whatever.


You know, my heart really isn’t in this. I think it’s because AOC’s heart really isn’t in it, either. Neither is Al Gore’s, Harrison Ford’s, Leonardo DiCaprio’s, or any of the rest of them.

They’ve given up hope for some sign of catastrophe. Like the crazed loons who believe the world is ending next Thursday afternoon, their life seems sort of empty on Friday morning. They’ve been praying for disaster for a long time. “The Population Bomb” came out in 1968. The ice age in the 1970’s didn’t work out. Neither did global warming in the 1980s. Baby seals. Polar bears. Whales. And so on and so forth. Everything seems to be going pretty well. You can imagine how disappointed they must feel. What a letdown.

So rather than have scientists pretend to present evidence that doesn’t exist, they have actors pound the podium and act angry, and they have an autistic high school sophomore lecture us about things she doesn’t understand.

It all seems sort of empty and pointless, like screaming at a cloud, which is sort of what they’re doing, I suppose. It might even be sort of funny, although I’d feel a little guilty about laughing at such unhappy people. But it’s not funny, because these people are using their climate change act to gain power. And if you think Donald Trump is not well suited to be in a position of power, imagine just ANY of these people in charge. Actually, don’t imagine. Just read about the actions of the EPA these days.

I was going to write a really funny post about this. But whatever. There’s no sport in it. Or maybe I’m just tired.

Anyone who wants to pick this up and do something better with it, here’s the news story that inspired my half-hearted attempt at humor. Before I got bored.

That’s really the problem, I think. These people are boring. I’d rather hang out with someone else.

And every election, millions of people vote for them. Absolutely astounding.

And they’re closer to complete control than you think. Which will make dying of climate change under colonial rule sound pretty good.

I can’t decide if I drink too much or not enough.

Quote of the Day: Tolerance and Religion

 

“The frustrating thing is that those who are attacking religion claim they are doing it in the name of tolerance, freedom, and openmindedness. Question: Isn’t the real truth that they are intolerant of religion? They refuse to tolerate its importance in our lives.”
– Ronald Reagan

We saw that illustrated by Robert “Beto” O’Rourke this last Thursday when he threatened to strip churches of tax-exempt status if they did not perform same-sex “marriages,” and the Democrats cheered. This bigoted, intolerant position was (of course) framed as a means of fighting bigotry and intolerance.

Tolerance used to mean you ignored or put up with behavior with which you disagreed. You tolerated the loud music coming from your neighbor’s house. Today, progressives have redefined tolerance as approval and affirmation of behavior with which you disagree, with nothing less than active and participative affirmation acceptable. To be tolerant of your neighbor’s over-loud music you have to thank them for it or even use your house as a place for them to put their speakers for their music.

And who decides what behavior is worthy of tolerating? The progressives, of course, If you disagree with anything that means you are an intolerant bigot unworthy of rights and legal protections.

A Tale of 3 Press Conferences

 

POTUS DIMEFILIf you watch and listen to three sets of statements and answers by our current administration, you will get an interesting picture of our actual current policy. The first is by President Trump, answering a reporter’s off-topic question when he signed two executive orders on transparency in federal guidance and enforcement (a serious push back on the growth of an unaccountable fourth branch of government in the administrative state). The second is a Pentagon briefing on the deployment of Patriot Air Defense/Anti Missile units and two Air Force fighter squadrons to Saudi Arabia, in which both this action and comments on Syria are interesting. The third is a White House press corps briefing by Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin.

President Trump has laid out three possible courses of action in the longstanding conflict between Turkey and those Kurds living in eastern Turkey and across the border in Syria. As has been explained repeatedly elsewhere, these are not the same Kurds abandoned by George H.W. Bush and now supported in northern Iraq by President Trump. These are different groups with different politics.

The Turks have never treated their Kurdish population well. In turn, those Kurds, in the context of the Cold War, understandably turned to Moscow, as any group that was going to get outside support was going to be compatible with Soviet communist doctrine. Given all that, we should not bite on the “dirty commie” line too hard, and should remember that J. Edgar Hoover was busy trying to run the same line on black and Jewish civil rights leaders, a number of whom did turn to seek support where they might find it. All of which is to say that there ain’t no good guys in the local cast of characters, and there is a long standing quarrel with blood on both sides.

So, then, caught between an actual NATO ally, citing our own designation of the PKK as a terrorist organization, and an effective partner force that is secular/ethno-nationalist rather than religiously motivated, President Trump ticked off these three options:

  • He could send in “a thousand troops” to confront the Turkish army and air force
  • He could “destroy Turkey’s economy” with sanctions (if they engaged in atrocities)
  • He could be the mediator between the two parties to seek a workable agreement that met both sides’ security concerns

President Trump dealt with the first possibility himself. Watch the President, listen to his words, and pay special attention to the two grown men behind him. They are fighting to keep their composure, to not cry on camera. Start at 55:12.

The relevant portion of the transcript, from the White House is included at the end of this post. The passage that hit adult men hard was:

The hardest thing I have to do is signing those letters. That’s the hardest thing I have to do. And each letter is different. We make each letter different. And last week, I signed of them for Afghanistan; one in Iraq; one in Syria, from two weeks ago. And sometimes I call the parents. Sometimes I see the parents. I go to Dover, when I can, but it’s — it’s so devastating for the parents that — you know. It’s so devastating when they bring that boy or young woman out of the back of those big, powerful planes in a coffin, and the parents are there.

You know, we have people that do that. That’s what they do. They — they work that. They accommodate everybody. That’s what they do. They an incredible job. And they said — I said, “The parents seemed to be okay.” I’ll get there early. “The parents seemed to be okay.” “Well, actually, sir, they aren’t.” “No, no. The way they’re talking. They’re really okay, aren’t they?” “Sir, you never know until the back of that massive cargo plane opens up.” And they walk down holding a coffin with four or five great soldiers on each side of it, representing our various forces. That you never know.

And then I see it. And I see people that were smiling, “Oh, Mr. President, thank you for being here. Thank you for being here.” And I think they’re doing great. And then, twenty minutes later, we’ll be outside when that big plane pulls up and that door comes down, and they are walking the coffin with their boy inside this coffin with an American flag over the top. And they’re walking that coffin down this ramp. And I’ve seen people that I thought were really incredible the way they were ta- — I didn’t even understood how they could take it so well — scream, like I’ve never seen anything before. Sometimes they’ll run to the coffin. They’ll break through military barriers. They’ll run to the coffin and jump on top of the coffin. Crying mothers and wives. Crying desperately.

Then there are those who did not die:

But I’ll tell you what: For me, it’s very hard when I see that. It’s very hard. It’s easy to talk tough. You know, tough guys. All of these tough guys. “Let’s keep fighting. Let’s keep fighting.” If they had to go to Walter Reed — where they do unbelievable work. I have to tell you, these doctors are unbelievable. You know, it’s easy to say, “Oh, they’re not the…” They’re the best in the world. I’ve never seen anything like it.

One young man, last week, had his nose rebuilt. And they said it was in a thousand pieces. And, I said, “So where were you hurt?” He said, “My face, sir, was almost obliterated.” I said, “You have a better face than I do.” (Laughter.) And he said, “Sir, I had a doctor who was unbelievable, and they put it together.” They said — he said “a thousand fragments.” Now, I don’t if that’s even possible. But a thousand fragments. And they put it together.

And his father, who was crying, came up to me and said, “You’re not going to believe this, but my son didn’t have a great-looking nose and now his nose is better.” (Laughter.) Okay? It’s an amazing thing.

That is just one man with his face completely reconstructed and his father crying, but trying to man up with a bit of a joke. If you are not deeply moved by President Trump’s description of what he has witnessed, you are a sociopath. Thankfully, our current president is not a sociopath. At the same time, he is determined to actually use the full set of tools in the national tool belt, as demonstrated by the next two short videos.

Consider these key portions of Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin‘s remarks:

Press Briefing by Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin
Issued on: October 11, 2019
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:46 P.M. EDT

SECRETARY MNUCHIN: Hello everybody. So, I just met with President Trump, and he has authorized and will be signing a new executive order giving the Treasury Department, in consultation with himself and Secretary Pompeo, very significant new sanctions authorities that can be targeted at any person associated with the government of Turkey, any portion of the government. This will be both primary sanctions and secondary sanctions that will be applicable.

The President is concerned about the ongoing military offensive and potential targeting of civilians, civilian infrastructure, ethnic or religious minorities. And also the President wants to make very clear: It is imperative that Turkey not allow even a single ISIS fighter to escape.

Again, I want to emphasize: At this point, we are not activating the sanctions. But, as the President has said, he will provide very significant authorities based upon the continuing efforts.

So he will be signing this. They will be active. We will be working in consultation with the Department of Defense and Department of State to moderating this very quickly. We are putting financial institutions on notice that they should be careful, and that there could be sanctions.

Again, there are no sanctions at this time, but this will be the broadest executive authorities delegated to us.

[…]

Q So far, Turkey has not been dissuaded by anything this administration has done or the President has said. What makes you confident that the announcement that you just made is going to change Turkey’s (inaudible)?

SECRETARY MNUCHIN: Well, I don’t — I don’t agree with your premise. I’m not going to comment on specific confidential discussions that have been going on on different levels. So, I don’t think that’s a good premise.

But, again, these are very powerful sanctions. We hope we don’t have to use them. But we can shut down the Turkish economy if we need to.

So, we have heard from the president directly, and we have heard from the man every financial institution in the world must pay attention to, by virtue of our economic dominance. Now listen to the civilian and military leaders in the Department of Defense [Secretary Esper and General Milley transcript here]:

First, the Department of Defense, with the whole administration, condemns Turkey’s actions but will not allow American personnel to be caught in the middle of actual fighting between a 70 year ally and a partner ethnic group. They note the conflict is long-standing, but caution about both loss of control of ISIS detainees and any harm to any American military personnel. They specified that the Turkish military has precise grid locations (map coordinates) of every U.S. military member in the relevant area.

Q: Mr. Secretary, some of your own forces say that you have abandoned the Syrian Kurds. These were your partners against ISIS. They are also asking for air support and a no-fly zone over the border. Will you provide that?

SEC. ESPER: We have not abandoned the Kurds. Let me be clear about that. We have not abandoned them. Nobody green-lighted this operation by Turkey — just the opposite. We pushed back very hard at all levels for the Turks not to commence this operation. But Lord knows they have opposed this relationship between the United States and the YPG since its infancy in 2014. The Turks have opposed it all along the way, and so we should not be surprised that they’ve finally acted this way.

We have tried, at least since I came into office two and a half months ago, week after week to set up the security mechanism in order to try to address Turkey’s legitimate security concerns with regard to the P — PKK, but clearly, they are very concerned about this, and have decided that they’ve reached a point where they could not accept it anymore, and decided to make this incursion, despite our — our efforts to stop them.

Q: Gen. Milley, will you continue to arm your Syrian Kurdish partners?

GEN. MILLEY: Right now, the policies of the United States is to continue with our counter-ISIS campaign, and we are continuing those operations, except in that one area of the incursion.

With respect to the SDZ that you mentioned, there is no SDZ, that I’m aware of, that allows us to conduct military operations in support of the Kurds against the Turks, a 70-year NATO ally.

STAFF: Barbara Starr?

Q: Gen. Milley, can I follow up on the point you were making about Turkish responsibility for a minute. Have you now given the Turks — either of you gentlemen — any kind of no-strike list, like, “Do not strike these targets. This is where our people are?” And to follow up, you had talked about repositioning some additional forces to ensure that U.S. forces are safe, but you didn’t indicate that they’ve gone into Syria. Can you tell us any more about what you are doing to try and protect U.S. forces in addition to the no-strike question?

GEN. MILLEY: So the no-strike — the — the Turkish military is fully aware, down to explicit grid coordinate detail, of the locations of U.S. forces, and — and we have been in coordination with them through the CAOC in CENTCOM, at various levels throughout CENTCOM and personally at my level. So all levels of the chain of command — me, McKenzie, everybody — is coordinating with the Turks to make sure that they know exactly where American forces are, and — and everyone has been told.

Q: Throughout — throughout Syria, not just (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

GEN. MILLEY: Throughout Syria and in the zones of incursion; and everyone is fully aware that we are the United States military. We retain the right of self-defense, and our soldier, sailors, airmen and Marines will defend themselves. That’s clear and it’s unambiguous with anybody.

Second, the Department of Defense has ordered the deployment of two fighter squadrons, associated support personnel, plus additional Patriot Air Defense and THAAD antimissile batteries. The Patriot batteries would be expected to deal with airplanes, presumably drones, and some low-performance missiles, while THAAD is a dedicated anti-ballistic-missile defense system.

Iran’s continued malign behavior is part of its larger campaign to destabilize the Middle East and disrupt the global economy. Iran’s attempts to use terror, intimidation and military force to advance its interests are inconsistent with international norms.

Today, I spoke with the Saudi minister of defense to discuss the status of Saudi Arabia’s defensive capabilities and our ongoing efforts to protect our partners from further Iranian aggression. Saudi Arabia is a long-standing security partner in the Middle East, and has asked for additional support to supplement their own defenses and defend the international rules-based order.

In response to continued threats in the region, I’ve ordered the deployment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of two additional fighter squadrons and supporting personnel, along with additional Patriot and THAAD [terminal high altitude area defense] air and missile defense batteries. Taken together with other deployments I’ve extended or authorized within the last month, this involves about 3,000 United States forces. In fact, in response to Iranian provocation since May, the U.S. has deployed in array of additional capabilities to the region, including airborne early warning aircraft squadrons, maritime patrol aircraft squadrons, Patriot air and missile defense batteries, B-52 bombers, a carrier strike group, amphibious transport dock, unmanned aircraft, and engineering and support personnel. This has involved the deployment of about 14,000 additional U.S. forces to the region. The U.S. military has on alert additional Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force units to quickly provide increased capability in the region, if necessary.

Far from bringing all the troops home from everywhere, the president has authorized unpredictable deployments where they can create a sudden effect in support of the National Security Strategy:

This deployment of troops is one example of how we will dynamically manage our force posture to align with the national priorities while meeting the challenges of today’s very complex security environment. We will soon employ naval forces, brigade combat teams, bombers and other military capabilities in a similarly unpredictable fashion to place the right force in the right location at the right time.

This used to be called gunboat diplomacy or “showing the flag,” meaning you floated warships off a coast flying our national flag, while diplomats talked with the local government. The threatened deployments would take away an adversary’s ability to effectively lash out militarily as they are being badly hurt economically. Consider that China just abandoned Iran in a $5 billion oil deal. Iran losing such visible support from China matters, and may be part of the background consideration that Iran is considering rolling the dice. This likely was part of the analysis behind the announced deployments.

Taken together, President Trump takes his campaign promises seriously, has a real core of basic moral decency, will not have America trifled with, and prefers economic and diplomatic efforts in the lead, backed by the strongest military in the world. So, if the Turkish leader directs his military to pillage, there will be direct economic consequences for the current leadership in Turkey. If the Iranian theocracy opts for more military action, they will be foiled and face the threat of significant, effective counter-strikes. Don’t mess with John Wick’s dog and don’t hurt little children or U.S. military personnel. If that last point is not clear, I suggest you scroll to the start of the president’s remarks above, and watch his reaction to a small child making little kid noises with his mom and dad in the White House, think back to his words after a poison gas attack killed little children, then skip forward to him talking about coffins and Purple Hearts.


Remarks by President Trump at Signing of Executive Orders on Transparency in Federal Guidance and Enforcement
[Here are the highlights of the actual purpose of the event.]

Today, we take bold, new action to protect Americans from out-of-control bureaucracy and stop regulators from imposing secret rules and hidden penalties on the American people.

[…]

For many decades, federal agencies have been issuing thousands of pages of so-called “guidance” documents — a pernicious kind of regulation imposed by unaccountable bureaucrats in the form of commentary on how rules should be interpreted.

All too often, guidance documents are a backdoor for regulators to effectively change the laws and vastly expand their scope and reach. Guidance has frequently been used to subject U.S. citizens and businesses to arbitrary and sometimes abusive enforcement actions. Ha! It sounds like they’re talking about me. (Laughter.) I think they’re talking about me. I might have a conflict in signing this deal.

Because of these materials and the fact that these materials are too often hidden and hard to find, many Americans learn of the rules only when federal agents come knocking on the door.

This regulatory overreach gravely undermines our constitutional system of government. Unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats must not be able to operate outside of the democratic system of government — wow — imposing their own private agenda on our citizens. A permanent federal bureaucracy cannot become a fourth branch of government, unanswerable to American voters. In America, the people must always reign.

[Here is the relevant portion of President Trump’s remarks regarding Syria and the Middle East]

Q Are you going to take any action regarding the Turkish attacks in Northern Syria? And have the Kurds, as Senator Graham said, been shamelessly abandoned?

THE PRESIDENT: So, we have no soldiers in the area. We’ve been talking to Turkey for three years. They’ve been wanting to do this for many years, as you know. They’ve been fighting each other for centuries. They’ve been fighting each other for — hundreds of years, this has been going on.

We were put into this battle — interjected. It was supposed to be a 30 — a 30-day period. And we’ve been there for many, many years. And it’s time to get out. We’re speaking to both sides. We’ve told President Erdoğan how we feel. But we are speaking to both sides, and we’re seeing what can be made out of a situation.

But we have no soldiers in the area, you know. We’re getting out of the endless wars. We have to do it. And eventually somebody was going to have to make the decision. And, frankly, we’re getting a lot of praise from that decision. We — people are saying, “Got to sometime bring our people back home.”

We’re really serving and we were serving as a police force. We had defeated ISIS. We defeated the caliphate, 100 percent. Erdoğan and the existing groups of people, including Kurds — but you have the PKK, which is a natural enemy with Turkey, and likewise and opposite, they’ve been fighting, again, for many, many years. They have — they’re bitter enemies; have been always. Probably, possibly always will be.

[…]

Q In a statement this morning, you cautioned Erdoğan. Since then, it appears as though there have been casualties on the Kurdish side. Are you concerned about escalation? And are you concerned that Erdoğan will try to wipe out the Kurds?

THE PRESIDENT: I will wipe out his economy if that happens. I’ve already done it once, with Pastor Brunson. I’m sure that he — I hope that he will act rationally. You do have to understand: They’ve been fighting each other for many, many decades. Actually, for centuries, they’ve been fighting each other. And it was time for the Americans — we did a great job.

[…]

Now you have different factions in there. Again, you have PKK — that’s a different faction. And they worked with us. It’s a rough group, but they worked with us. But we’ve spent a tremendous — and they’re fighting for their lands. So when you say, “They’re fighting with us” — yes, but they’re fighting for their land.

Now, if we go on the theory that some of the folks in Washington go by — who all do very well with the military-industrial complex. I mean, you know, the military-industrial complex. Take a look at Dwight Eisenhower; he had it figured right many years ago. It’s got tremendous power. They like fighting. They make a lot of money when they fight.

But it was time to bring our soldiers back home. So I see — and I will tell you: The hardest thing I have to do, by far, much harder than the witch hunt, is signing letters to parents of soldiers that have been killed. And it’s not only that — in areas where there’s not a lot of upside, if there’s any upside at all, and in many cases, it’s only downside.

And especially when that soldier was killed in a Blue-on-Green attack. You know what that is, right? That’s where a solider being trained or whatever turns his gun on an American solider. “Here, son. Take your gun. You know how to use it.”
And he takes the gun and he turns it. And he shoots one — we have many of them in Afghanistan — in particular, in Afghanistan.

The hardest thing I have to do is signing those letters. That’s the hardest thing I have to do. And each letter is different. We make each letter different. And last week, I signed of them for Afghanistan; one in Iraq; one in Syria, from two weeks ago. And sometimes I call the parents. Sometimes I see the parents. I go to Dover, when I can, but it’s — it’s so devastating for the parents that — you know. It’s so devastating when they bring that boy or young woman out of the back of those big, powerful planes in a coffin, and the parents are there.

You know, we have people that do that. That’s what they do. They — they work that. They accommodate everybody. That’s what they do. They an incredible job. And they said — I said, “The parents seemed to be okay.” I’ll get there early. “The parents seemed to be okay.” “Well, actually, sir, they aren’t.” “No, no. The way they’re talking. They’re really okay, aren’t they?” “Sir, you never know until the back of that massive cargo plane opens up.” And they walk down holding a coffin with four or five great soldiers on each side of it, representing our various forces. That you never know.

And then I see it. And I see people that were smiling, “Oh, Mr. President, thank you for being here. Thank you for being here.” And I think they’re doing great. And then, twenty minutes later, we’ll be outside when that big plane pulls up and that door comes down, and they are walking the coffin with their boy inside this coffin with an American flag over the top. And they’re walking that coffin down this ramp. And I’ve seen people that I thought were really incredible the way they were ta- — I didn’t even understood how they could take it so well — scream, like I’ve never seen anything before. Sometimes they’ll run to the coffin. They’ll break through military barriers. They’ll run to the coffin and jump on top of the coffin. Crying mothers and wives. Crying desperately.

And this is on these endless wars that just never stop. And there’s a time and there’s a place, but it’s time to stop.

And just to finish, last Friday, I went to Walter Reed. And I gave out five Purple Hearts to incredible young men — in this case, all men. And they took a beating. Beautiful people. They took a beating. One couldn’t be there because the beating was so great that he was at a totally different part of the world. He lost a leg. He lost an arm. Ryan. He had tremendous damage, beyond even what these young folks went through.

But I’ll tell you what: For me, it’s very hard when I see that. It’s very hard. It’s easy to talk tough. You know, tough guys. All of these tough guys. “Let’s keep fighting. Let’s keep fighting.” If they had to go to Walter Reed — where they do unbelievable work. I have to tell you, these doctors are unbelievable. You know, it’s easy to say, “Oh, they’re not the…” They’re the best in the world. I’ve never seen anything like it.

One young man, last week, had his nose rebuilt. And they said it was in a thousand pieces. And, I said, “So where were you hurt?” He said, “My face, sir, was almost obliterated.” I said, “You have a better face than I do.” (Laughter.) And he said, “Sir, I had a doctor who was unbelievable, and they put it together.” They said — he said “a thousand fragments.” Now, I don’t if that’s even possible. But a thousand fragments. And they put it together.

And his father, who was crying, came up to me and said, “You’re not going to believe this, but my son didn’t have a great-looking nose and now his nose is better.” (Laughter.) Okay? It’s an amazing thing.

But when you see these — and the Purple Hearts — you see this kind of thing — and I see a lot of it at Walter Reed. And, again, the job those doctors and the people do at Walter Reed, it’s something to be commended.

Thank you all very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

END

Amazon Video’s Halloween Movie Recommendations: Trick-or-Treat!

 

Hey, Ricochet! I’m in the mood to watch a Halloween movie. Anyone want to watch one with me? You do? Yay! Let’s go over to Amazon’s Prime Video page and pick one out. I hear they have a lot of movies to choose from.

Whoa! Look at all those movies! How in the world are we going to find the Halloween ones? Wait a minute; I think I found them! If you scroll down, you’ll find a row called “Halloween Collection.” I bet we can find something to watch there. Don’t know why they didn’t put it closer to the top of the page, given the month we’re in – but oh well. We found it. Let’s see what they recommend.

Hmmm. There’s a bunch of different categories in this collection. I don’t like really gory movies, so why don’t we check out the section called “Kids and Family Halloween Classics.” That looks like it could be fun. Aw, come on. You’ll find something there you’ll like; I’m sure. Please? Pretty please? Pretty please with Skittles and candy corn and chocolate bars on top? Yay!

OK, here we are – “Kids and Family Halloween Classics.” Now, what are our choices? Oooh, looks like we’ve got some fun ones here – Halloweentown, Hocus Pocus, Hotel Transylvania. Not too bad. Oh, my goodness! Look over there. They have It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown! I loved that when I was a kid! And The Nightmare Before Christmas is over there. That’s not a bad choice, either. I’m glad we decided to check this section out.

Is that all they have? No, no – there’s more. Over here we have …. wait a minute. What’s Gnomeo and Juliet doing here? Talking garden gnomes may be a bit spooky, but Halloween-type spooky? Really? What’s that over there? Alice in Wonderland with Johnny Depp? Well, that is one creepy-looking Mad Hatter, and the Red Queen was pretty creepy looking too. I guess I can see why they added it to the collection. But Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? Why is it here and not Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? The Oompa Loompas weren’t scary. They were weird looking, but they weren’t scary-weird. So why did they put that one in the collection?

And what’s that over there? A Pinkaperfect Birthday? In the Halloween section? What in the world happens at that birthday party? Oh, I see. The birthday girl gets a present that allows her to turn everything pink. Well, that is a scary idea; so maybe it belongs here after all. But I’m pretty sure the Thanksgiving movie collection (Amazon has one of those; right?) wants A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving back. I don’t care if Thanksgiving dinners with friends and family can be hellish nightmares at times; that one’s been misfiled for sure. And what are all of these Christmas movies doing here? How the Grinch Stole Christmas? A Christmas Story? Santa Buddies: The Legend of Santa PawsMickey’s Magical Christmas? Elf? (Ok, maybe that one should stay)  

(yelling) Hey, Amazon! Over here! Look, I know Christmas is trying to take over the entire calendar. That’s pretty obvious since it sneaks its decorations and music into the stores earlier and earlier each year. But you don’t have to help it out. I mean, Christmas movies in your Halloween collection? Really? What are you thinking? Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. If anyone can fight off that Swiper-like, creature, it’s you! Don’t give in to its greedy plan, Amazon! Be brave and bold! Take the sword out of that stone and force the greedy creature back into the month it belongs in! (And yes, that movie is listed as part of the Halloween collection too.) You can do it! I know you can!

(hears the sound of someone running away and turns around) Hey, Ricochet! Where are you going? We still need to pick a movie! Come back! Please? I still have candy, so come back! Please? Pretty please? Pretty, pretty, pretty please?

Member Post

 

https://www.medicaldaily.com/more-chores-husband-does-more-likely-marriage-will-end-divorce-242815?fbclid=IwAR26ChH8-FysaMjGw7Eu7nAu43v1V5y7-Q40e2WWoDPHQQ6MvkeDLJ-a1_I “The more a man does in the home, the higher the divorce rate,” said Thomas Hansen, co-author of the study entitled “Gender Equality At Home,” according to AFP. While researchers found no or very little cause-and-effect, they believe that the observation could be due to “modern” attitudes. It may be traditional couples “hold a […]

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99 Cent Answer to ‘Food Deserts’

 

Who really is in touch with the poor, the Fort Worth mayor and city council or the 99 Cent Only CEO? The Fort Worth city council is moving down the tracks towards imposing limitations on low-cost stores, generally labeled “dollar stores.” They are doing so for two stated reasons: blight and “food deserts.” Any citizen can refute the second claim by a simple internet search. Any citizen living in the area could do the media and their own city council’s job, by simply walking through a 99 Cents Only store with their phone camera rolling in video mode.*

The very deepest discount stores operate like every other business that is not in bed with the government. That is, they identify locations where they can sell enough goods to make a profit. By definition, a dollar store is operating on the very thinnest of margins, so they have to consistently offer the stuff people want. Happily, this results in at least one such business offering the very items we are perennially told are being denied to the poorest among us.

The Dollar Tree store chain fills smaller retail spaces in older strip mall retail properties. It is also more than just a place to grab some paper plates, napkins and plastic utensils for a party. Many of these stores include a frozen and refrigerated food section. The frozen section always stocks vegetables and fruit, in addition to frozen prepared foods. The grocery aisle always includes rice, beans, dried pasta, canned tomato products and more. In short, you can put together nutritious meals from that small store, which you can get in and out of much more quickly than a supermarket.

Dollar Trees with Frozen Food

Each location showing on the map has frozen/refrigerated foods and accepts the government debit card that replaced food stamps. Of course, the selection is quite limited, but the invisible hand of actual cheapskates (like me) and those who barely make it through the month, often with government assistance in the form of food stamps (now “EBT”), has moved a competitor to answer the real demand for more groceries and fresh produce. I give you the 99 Cents Only stores:

Yes, that is in Fort Worth, Texas. Yes, there are more stores in the area. Everything is sold by the piece or cleanly packaged in plastic so you know what you are getting for 99 cents. The fresh produce generally needs to be used within a few days, but that fits the needs and habits of the shoppers. If you have to walk home or catch a bus, you are back to the old model, before supermarkets drove the small mom and pop grocers out of business. You likely buy for the next few days.

Look at the way this company approaches its customers on the internet. You are not marginal, you are not settling for this, you are a frugal bargain hunter who should be proud to be part of a community, the “99ers.” Look at this pitch on fresh produce:

Fresh Produce

Find deals on fresh produce like they grow on trees!

What happens when fresh vegetables and fruit, even organics, get 99’d? Your house is always overflowing with fresh produce. Fill lunchboxes. Feed someone grapes. Make someone feed you grapes. It may even bring out your artistic side and inspire you to paint a still life. People react to the bounty in different ways when there’s suddenly no limit to how much fresh produce you can have around.

Always wanted a pet gorilla but had concerns about your banana budget? Fear no more. Bring home a Silverback without the usual concerns about keeping him well fed while he watches TV on the recliner. Or maybe you just have kids. Regardless, our deals on bananas are always “Bananas.”

You’re young, Millennial and rolling in Avocado toast. Show your parents and the world that avocado toast fits just fine into your budget. We’ve even made it so Gen X, Y, Z and whatever the really new one is will want to get in on the Avocado action so we can all get on the same page. When you can buy organic avocados like they’re an everyday food, for Everyone, we believe you can feel squishy green goodness all around and make the world a better…..Nah, 99 avocado deals are too good for them. Let them find their own thing!

You never know what’s new and fresh that just came in but there’s plenty to keep demanding 2 year-olds, 4 year-olds, 14 year-olds and even 44 year-olds who all like different things, happy.

Contrast this to every media report and every city council utterance. Note that the supposedly well-meaning public “servants” always come back to central planning, regulations, and a preference to answer the problem or “crisis” with government, government favored business, or politically allied non-profit groups.

So, a move to limit store locations and to dictate what they stock is moving forward in Fort Worth, one of the last supposedly conservative large metropolitan areas. That same Texas “conservative” crew apparently never managed to get past “studying” amending Fort Worth city ordinances so that small entrepreneurs could take a pushcart or small panel truck into neighborhoods, selling fresh produce like they were operating an ice cream truck. I linked the relevant current ordinance chapter, and invite you to consider the “farmers markets” section.

Consider the current local law. Consider the announced desire to restrict dollar stores as supposedly driving out other, preferred (because their brands are higher status) businesses. Perhaps, take a listen to the Mark Davis Show podcast on dollar store regulation today. Consider the soundbites. Then look at the text, images, and links above. Who really is in touch with the poor, the Fort Worth mayor and city council, or the 99 Cent Only CEO?


*A text-based visual tour of a grocery trip to a 99Cent store:

Grab a shopping cart outside.

Enter and turn hard right. (Of course, you should turn hard right!)

Walk along the front wall shelves, on your right shoulder. See the pasta sauces, all name brand. Now see all the shelves of dried pastas, from regular, to whole wheat, to spinach, to Omega-3 enriched. Rice: white, brown, parboiled. Dried beans of all sorts. Don’t run into the side wall! You are looking at all the standard condiments.

Turn left. (Sorry but that is how geometry works.)

Look left: canned fruit, peanut butter, jelly, honey. Look right: vinegars, oils, salsa, Latin American food canned goods.

Move along towards the back wall.

Look left: baking goods from box mixes to all the raw ingredients. Coconut milk? Yup. Look right: canned vegetables and beans.

Keep looking right: Hamburger helper/rice/mac-and-cheese boxes. Canned meats (tuna, sardines, salmon, generic Spam, Vienna sausages), followed by an impressive array of spices, especially larger packages of peppers and other items you need for spicier foods. Don’t run into the back wall!

Turn left. (Sorry but that is still how geometry works.)

Straight ahead are the fresh produce displays. You just passed the fresh bread shelves as you dashed to grab a bunch of bananas! Yes, there is fresh milk in the refrigerator case on the back wall.

Notice how efficient this is, how quickly you can grab what you need for healthy meals, without wandering the aisles. Yes, there are other aisles, oriented front-to-back, stocked with breakfast foods, coffee, tea, other beverages, snacks, and shelf-stable desserts.

As you head to the front to check out with a human being, perhaps you’ll grab a fresh toothbrush, dental floss, and tube of toothpaste, with recognized brands all for … $0.99. Is your tube of Colgate really better if you pay $3 for it? Sure there is plastic junk in the store, and there are the sorts of cleaning supplies you need to keep your own place, or maybe the places you are paid to clean, clean.

Vaccines Are Not Going to Kill You

 

This chart has been floating around Farcebook and other sociopathic media for awhile. I finally saw it a couple of hours ago.

“Hmm,” I said, “that doesn’t look right.”

Let’s do some research, using the same websites that “t. sixx” purports to get his data from: The Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

I’ve been kicking around pediatric medicine for a year or two, so I immediately noticed a couple of anomalies. Very few people are just vaccinated for Mumps or Measles or Rubella. The grand majority, well over 90%, are given a combo vaccine called MMR. The same goes for Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis. Since that’s the case, how do you know which portion of the combo was the cause of death? Also, look at all the coincidences. Mumps, Rubella and Varicella vaccines all caused four deaths each. Well, deaths from those three appear to be incredibly rare, so that number is not out of the realm of possibility. But Diphtheria and Tetanus? Exactly 72 each? Pneumonia and Polio, 85 each? Really?

Well, maybe so. After all, incredible coincidences do happen. So I went to the VAERS database, the same source that “t. sixx” gets his/her/their/it’s data from, and plugged in every combination of Mumps, Measles and Rubella vaccines for 2014. “t. sixx” says those three caused 14 deaths. The VAERS database says three. Well, that’s only off by 79%; maybe “t. sixx” hit the wrong key. Anyone can make a mistake. How about Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis? “t. sixx” says those three vaccines caused 221 deaths. The actual number, again from the database that “t. sixx” claims as a source, is 36. Just a little bit off.

How about the other column? “t. sixx” claims that the CDC says that only 19 people died of the flu in 2014. Hallelujah! We’ve conquered the flu!!! Oopsy, that’s just a bit off. The CDC actually says that flu deaths in 2014 were estimated to be 51,376. That’s not even close enough for government work. Well, maybe he was just talking about children? 803 deaths in 2014 according to the source “cited” by “t. sixx.” Children under four years old? 396 deaths from the flu in 2014, still off by a factor of 20 to 1.

I did find one thing right: 13 people died of Hepatitis B in 2014. Unfortunately, according to VAERS, there were six deaths from the vaccine for Hep B that year, not 50.

And even supposing that every line on that chart is true, the reason that there are so few deaths from these diseases is because most people have been vaccinated. Does anyone really think that there would be still no deaths from Tetanus if we stopped vaccinating?

So this is the same as all anti-vax propaganda: Blatant lies to fool the gullible. And they obviously know they are lying. As Derek Hunter says about Adam Schiff, “If the truth was on their side, they wouldn’t have to lie.”

But Wait, There’s More!

 

You have to go looking for this kind of news. You might find it online, but won’t find it printed in the paper. If a local TV station heads out for some brief coverage, you can be certain they will heavily edit any interviews so they can maintain a sense of decorum. After all, we can’t discuss what really happens out there. Our local crime story continues:

“When I saw it on the news, I’m like, ‘If this guy’s that nuts, would he do something like that?’ And evidently, he did.”

Cooper said investigators were on his lot for several hours.

“They went through all the cars,” he said.

In a lot in far southeastern Cook County, IL, Dr. Ulrich Klopfer had eight cars in storage in an outdoor lot. Cook County authorities wanted nothing to do with it and called in the Will County Sheriff to handle the discovery of 165 additional preserved fetal remains; they had experience with this sort of thing, don’t you know. Dr. Klopfer stopped by once a year to pay the rent. He kindly stopped by just before he died to pay the fee for the next year. The Sherriff waited for the family to arrive with keys for the cars. The remains were in the trunk of a Mercedes Benz.

A doctor who was writing two millennia ago also wrote about this.

The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz′arus in his bosom.

And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’”

Nothing to see here. Let’s talk politics! Cat videos!

The Fighting Pandas

 

Perhaps the NBA could mend fences with China by renaming the Houston Rockets “The Fighting Pandas.” An NBA sponsored “Send a Uighur to Camp” scholarship fund might help mollify the Chinese government. Some lucky fan in Houston could win an all expenses paid trip to China for a kidney transplant, or any other organ they might need.

The marketing possibilities are endless.

What’s My Lyin’

 

I was in D.C. for my annual speech to the International Mensa Convocation when my longtime friend, attorney, and part-time oenophile, E. Hobart Calhoun, invited me to join him on the front row for a live presentation of the House Democracks’ hot new game show, What’s My Lyin’?

E. had just been named as the 78th member of President Big D’s impeachment defense team. As low man on Big D’s lawyer totem pole, E. had been dispatched to monitor the hit show, where panelists try to guess the contestant’s occupation.

House Speaker and soon-to-be octogenarian Nancy Lugosi, Bela’s older sister, strode purposefully on her aluminum walker to the emcee’s desk, welcomed the crowd in the packed House Super-Secret Hearing Room, and introduced the three panelists.

“First, we have Adam “Shifty” Shiftless, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and leader of the House Protuberant Eyes Caucus (HPEC).”

I was startled when thunderous applause and joyful huzzahs burst from the D.C. press corps to welcome Shifty, and then shocked when women on the front row, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Baader-Meinhof Ginsburg and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddog, began throwing their tighty-whities at Shifty.

“Our next two panelists are also powerful members of the HPEC,” Lugosi trilled, “Maxine ‘Impeach Fawty-Fie’ Waters and Alexandria Oblivious-Cerebral-Cortex (AOCC).

“Tonight we have a special treat,” Lugosi said. “We’re going to start with our celebrity guest segment. Panelists, please don your blindfolds.”

“Objection,” E. screamed at Lugosi, “Shifty’s blindfold only covers part of his gigantic eyeballs.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. E., but only Democracks are allowed to participate in this show. You’ll have to sit down and shut your ignorant right-wing mouth.”

Two huge SEIU security men appeared in front of us. One took a swing at E., who ducked the punch and sat back down quickly. Speaker Lugosi directed stagehand and House Judiciary Chairman, Jerry Addler, to waddle over to Shifty and give him a much bigger blindfold.

“Bring in our special celebrity guest,” Lugosi said to Addler, who pushed onto the stage a large box on wheels covered with an impenetrable black shroud.

Shifty asked the first question: “Are you a man, woman, lesbian, gay, bi….”

“We are pressed for time, Chairman Shifty,” Lugosi said, “so please limit your sexual identification question to the first 35 of the 102 sex categories the House has recently adopted.”

“A man, sort of,” said an electronically disguised voice from the black box.

“Have you ever worked for former CIA Director Walter Brennan or that bald-headed DUI guy James Crapper?” AOCC asked.

“It’s DNI, AOCC, and you can’t ask that,” Lugosi said.

“Objection,” E. said. “His, her, or they’s work history is relevant.”

“If you don’t shut up, Mr. E.,” Lugosi said, “we’re going to have to gag you.”

“But what about due process?” E. said

“Gag him,” Lugosi said.

E. struggled momentarily, but realized he was outmanned. He stopped fighting, and calmly allowed the SEIU goons to fit him with a gag, noise-cancelling earphones, and the blindfold that was too small for Shifty.

“Now,” Lugosi continued, “your question, Congresswoman Waters.”

“Impeach fawty-fie,” Waters said.

“We’re running short of time,” Lugosi said, “so I’ll give the panelists a hint. The last part of our celebrity guest’s designation is ‘blower’.”

“Ooo, ooo,” AOCC said, “did our celebrity guest work in the Clinton White House?”

“Join us next week,” Lugosi said, “for our next episode, when our mystery celebrity guest will be from Crimea.”

“That reminds me,” Waters said angrily, “what is that traitor Big D doing to stop the dictator Kim of North Crimea from nuking China or sinking Guam?”

“Good night, folks,” Lugosi said.

Happiness Amnesia

 

Why do we daily forget what makes us happy - and unhappy?Sometimes I like to imagine a little bell going off in my ear when I’m about to do something I sense will make me less happy. In my mind, the bell doesn’t generally ring before momentous decisions such as weighing whether to quit a job or drop out of college: those decisions are usually accompanied by an extensive weighing of the pros and cons. Instead, this little bell I imagine goes off whenever we have to make one of the countless sundry decisions of life, particularly when our eyes or tastebuds are preoccupied with getting what they want: A Cuervo golden margarita the size of my head? Bell rings. A cool-looking pair of overpriced sneakers I don’t need and can’t afford? Bell rings. A meaningless, soon-to-be-forgotten, one-off affair with a beautiful woman trying to seduce me thousands of miles from home?

In other words, the bell would ring more often than you expect – and perhaps more often. 

As the internet wisely points out, getting drunk is like borrowing happiness from tomorrow. Each day we must make decisions pertaining to everything from what we eat to whom we associate with – and these decisions and countless others impact our happiness.

Opportunities to increase or decrease our happiness are everywhere and we often choose badly, a phenomenon that is most evident when observing children. Left to their own devices – literally – most kids would rather play video games or watch Netflix all day. Yet how do these children feel when they must invariably cease doing so? They’re miserable. My own kids provide numerous examples. Here’s one: taking baths. They hate it. The very prospect of a bath prompts them to adopt an intolerable whine. A funny thing happens, though, when they’re actually takinga bath: non-stop shrieks of laughter and joy.

And adults aren’t much better than children, as you can see from the countless examples of people who can’t get out of their own way when it comes to their weight, their work, their lives. 

Conversely, the things we find most satisfying are precisely those things which we tend to avoid: getting work done, eating healthfully, making new friends, visiting the sick and lonely. So there’s a disconnect between what we want and what makes us happy. Importantly, merely being aware of this this disconnect isn’t sufficient to overcome it – it requires daily vigilance.

It’s a kind of happiness amnesia. We are shocked to learn that the hard work of learning to play a guitar is more satisfying than ease of watching tv. And yet we never learn.

So the next time you must make a seemingly mundane decision, ask yourself which path would make you happiest, and with practice you may find you’ve develop your own little bell – and that it tends to go off when you least expect it.

Can You Live Without Your Smart Phone? Would You Want To?

 

This stems from a PIT thought. How much do you really need your smart phone? How much has it supplanted other devices, activities, or things in your life? Would you be willing to give it up, either mostly or entirely? Do you want to give it up? What is it that you use it for?

With China and its vicious police state, endless and inescapable facial recognition, and concentration camps, maybe it is time we re-examine our own willing feeding of “the cloud.” How much do we do that’s really even necessary on our phones, or is their convenience so very much of an improvement that they’re a necessity? Do we have too much connected online already?

Several things have happened of late that have had me thinking perhaps it’s time to unwind the gadgetry, and put the phone away. Two years ago I bought an Apple Watch. Yet during those two years I cannot say I got much use out of the thing except as a watch. Its motion tracking never seemed to track, something I noticed the other night after a four-mile walk. The apps available for it were universally uninteresting to me, and otherwise the thing was a perpetual nag. Only useful thing it did was Apple Pay, but few places I go take that even now. So I dug out my old Seiko and that was that. At least I never paid full price for it, which was why I gave it a try.

Last week our TV died. It was a circa 2009 Mitsubishi 60″ HDTV, and it was dumb. We shopped for a replacement and found that all screens now are “smart”, with operating systems made mostly by Google or Roku, and they all spy on you to some degree. Nearly every set out there, assuming you connect it to the internet, will take pixel captures (often as 1 per second, of enough pixels to fingerprint exactly what you have on) of everything on the screen (not just what you’re streaming, but even DVDs or video games), and the set makers then trade and sell that data even to streaming services you’ve not subscribed to (Netflix and Amazon are massive purchasers of your watching habits). See here and here. Plus they have always-on microphones, and sometimes even cameras, doubtless capturing even more. Oh, and you can program your set (which is already spying on you) to control your smart-home stuff too. We opted not to replace the screen at all.

Lastly, we started tracking our own phone usage. It was horrifying, the number of times of day we picked up the things, and the hours we spent in front of them were astounding. That led us to strip games and social media off the things, along with other stuff we just fiddled with out of boredom. There are some things like email and banking that work or other things make necessary, but aside from podcasts and occasional texting, and some navigation when traveling, there just is not a lot I need the thing for. I’m debating refurbing my old iPod 5 (needs a new battery) and using that for podcasts.

Before I got my first iPhone, my prior cell phones were all just phones. And they stayed mostly in the car. Could I go entirely back to that? Maybe not entirely, given business obligations. But partially? Mostly? Maybe, just maybe.

So what do you use your smartphone to do? Do you want it to do even more? Or would you rather be shot of the thing entirely?