Musings on Sports, Politics and Life in general

Author Archive

Image

Glory



Image

Our Gospel



Image

The Glorious Return





It’s Good Not To Be The Donald


Trumplicans who won:

  • JD Vance

Trumplicans who didn’t win:

  • Don Bolduc
  • Lee Zeldin
  • Dr. Oz
  • Doug Mastriano
  • Dan Cox
  • Herschel Walker
  • Blake Masters
  • Kari Lake

As of 6:30am, Kelly Tschibika and Lisa Murkowski were virtually tied. Adam Laxalt held a slim lead over Catherine Cortez-Mastro.

Also of note, three GOP governors who are not in Trump’s orbit crushed their opponents:

  • Brian Kemp
  • Greg Abbott
  • Ron DeSantis

In-depth analysis to follow, but it looks like the “red wave” crashed on the shoals of Trumpism.


Dissecting An Embarrassing Failure


The New York Yankees, once the class of Major League Baseball, have just suffered yet another postseason defeat coming on the heels of a regular season collapse. At the All-Star break, this is a team that seemed poised for a historic 118-win season. In the end, they did set a record: they became the first team to ever lose 5 consecutive AL Championship series.

What happened?

A quick review of the season tells us this team was never as good as it played in May and June. It probably wasn’t as bad as it played in August. The reality is this was a bad roster construction, led by a middling manager, who made it to the playoffs on the back of a Herculean effort by Aaron Judge. This was the inevitable result.

To begin to understand what went wrong, we need to travel back to last offseason. Coming off an ignoble defeat in the Wild Card game to the hated Red Sox, the team’s management correctly identified several gaping holes in the team’s roster. Poor defense, especially on the infield, was targeted as an area for improvement. Specifically, the middle of the diamond – catcher, shortstop, and second base all fielded well below league average. Fans also recognized center and left field were not positions of strength.

General manager Brian Cashman spent most of the offseason not doing much more than rappeling off buildings and sleeping on a sidewalk. But in March, he pulled the trigger on a franchise-altering trade. Struggling catcher (and one-time top 5 prospect) Gary Sanchez and popular third baseman Gio Urshela were shipped off to Minnesota for former MVP Josh Donaldson, Gold Glove shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and catching prospect Ben Rortvedt.

The thought process behind the trade was obvious to most. Despite the deepest, most free-agency class of shortstops in history, the Yankees didn’t want to spend the money on a long-term commitment to one. First, they had three shortstop prospects in the high minors who all profiled as potential MLB starters in Oswald Peraza, Oswaldo Cabrera, and Anthony Volpe. Second, the team already had huge contracts on the books in Giancarlo Stanton and Gerrit Cole and was trying to extend Judge, which they knew would take another substantial contract.

So instead, we watched Javy Baez sign with the Tigers, the Rangers scoop up a pair in Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, and Francisco Lindor re-sign with the crosstown rival Mets. T o add insult to injury, the Twins took the $59 million they saved by shipping Donaldson to the Yankees and used it to sign Carlos Correa.

It was a risky gamble by the Yankees. In the end, nobody won the trade. Sanchez has continued his decline and is no longer viewed by Minnesota as a catcher. Urshela had a decent season, hitting .285, but his power numbers fell off a cliff. Correa overcame a horrid first half to post a decent slash line – and promptly opted out of his contract.

But on the Yankees’ side, the trade was a disaster. Kiner-Falefa started out as a fan favorite, thanks to his backstory and effervescent personality. But we’re still wondering how he ever won a Gold Glove, as his defensive miscues finally led to him riding the bench more than playing in the playoffs. His bonehead play on a double-play ball in Game 4 of the ALCS was his season in a microcosm. His teammate was charged with an error, but his failure to execute a play taught kids in Little League led to the game-winning runs being scored by Houston.

As for Donaldson, his age showed in very ugly ways. His high point came on Opening Day when his extra-inning hit gave the Yankees a win. But we watched as his bat got slower and slower throughout the season, unable to catch up to fastballs. It turned the former “Bringer of Rain” into a strikeout machine. Defensively, he remains one of the best. But his .172, 16 strikeout performance this postseason is indicative of what can be expected of him going forward, particularly on the heels of a second half that saw him struggle to a .219/.305/.356 slash.

And Rortvedt? He has yet to play an inning for the Yanks. His injuries forced the team to make a sudden trade for an afterthought from Texas named Jose Trevino. All Trevino did was make the All-Star team.

The other area of concern was the pitching staff. It wasn’t a question of talent, but health. Indeed, over the first half of the season, Yankee starting pitchers were leading the league in innings, ERA, and strikeouts, while the bullpen saw the emergence of Clay Holmes and Michael King as lockdown relievers in the late innings. Ah, but that health. Nobody doubted Cole would rebound. But Luis Severino hadn’t pitched more than 12 innings in 3 seasons, Nestor Cortez had never pitched more than 93 innings in any season, and Jordan Montgomery and Jameison Taillon had injury-marred careers. Domingo German hadn’t pitched in nearly two seasons due to a lengthy domestic violence suspension.

In the end, that inning load played a crucial factor as Severino spent another stint on the 60-day IL, and German struggled in his first few starts back. But where the injuries really began to pile up was in the bullpen. As Boone struggled to manage his starters’ innings, the suddenly overtaxed bullpen began dropping like flies. King exited in July with an elbow fracture. Holmes had to be shut down twice and his effectiveness was noticeably less after his surprise trip to the All-Star game. Before the season was over, 32 men would toe the slab for the Yankees.

Things in the ‘pen certainly weren’t helped by the implosion of former closer Aroldis Chapman. Once possessing a 105mph fastball, the relatively pedestrian 97mph heater he featured proved very hittable, and his tendency to suddenly shy away from it led to obscene walk rates. Chapman was clearly a big part of the plan coming into the season, but by June he had played himself into a mop-up role. A couple of bizarre injuries (including one from an infected tattoo) and poor play led to the one-time superstar being left off the postseason roster.

Another failure came as a result of the midseason moves made to try and bolster the team. Nobody can fault GM Cashman for acquiring Andrew Benintendi, and the unfortunate broken finger he suffered can’t be laid at his feet. But trading for a pair of injured players in Frankie Montas (from the A’s) and Harrison Bader (Cardinals) raised quite a few eyebrows. More eyebrows were raised when the team refused to part ways with Volpe or Peraza in exchange for Luis Castillo, or Gleyber Torres for Pablo Lopez – but did trade from an already thinning staff by sending Montgomery for Bader. While Bader’s return for the playoffs was a lone bright spot for the Yankees. his inactivity for most of the second half left them playing the downright horrible Aaron Hicks (.216/.330/.316, 86 OPS+), and eventually, pressing Cabrera into an OF role.

As for the manager, Aaron Boone has three strengths: his ability to handle the rapacious NY media, his ability to communicate with the front office, and the players genuinely like and respect him. But after 5 seasons, it’s extremely obvious he lacks a sense of strategy, for the ebb and flow of a game, and for managing a bullpen.

Perhaps the greatest indictment of the 2022 Yankees is they entered the season with questions at catcher, second base, shortstop, third base, left field, and center field, along with pitching depth and the manager. They ended the season with the only answer seemingly found at catcher and (hopefully) center – and a looming enormous vacancy potential if Aaron Judge signs elsewhere this offseason.

I’ll delve into how I think they can fix these problems at a later date. Stay tuned…


God & Foxholes


Earlier today, I was ruminating on a few things when out of nowhere the old saying, “there’s no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole” came to mind.

You might be familiar with it. It relates to the concept that when facing the enemy, soldiers suddenly get religion. I can certainly understand it. I found myself praying fervently in such situations and that was years before receiving my salvation.

When you stop to think about it, it isn’t just soldiers in foxholes who find themselves asking the Almighty for help in dire circumstances. Perhaps you haven’t been saved but still found yourself praying for help in a time of need. Don’t think so? I can almost guarantee at least once in your life you’ve said something along the lines of, “Hey God, get me out of this and I’ll donate to the Children’s Hospital” or “If You help me pay my bills, I’ll go to church every Sunday” or “Dear God, please help my kid get over the flu and I’ll write a big check this Sunday.” Sound familiar?

Odds are that those without salvation will wonder “why did I do that?” once the drama has cleared. They might feel foolish. They probably won’t tell anyone that they actually prayed. If anyone was in earshot, they’ll deny it or try to explain it away. That’s a funny thing, because psychiatrists make a meaty living by telling people that their prayers are just a cultural remnant from their childhood. a way of coping with stress that is meaningless.

Don’t believe the psychiatrists.

For those of us who are saved, I could go into a long dissertation here about whether God hears and answers the prayers of the unrepentant. Or delve into why that entire prayer structure is wrong. Maybe we will discuss those things, some other time. But this post is for those among my readers who aren’t saved yet.

I’m here to tell you that those prayers are not worthless and to assure you that God did indeed hear you when you asked for help. How do I know this? My Bible says that God doesn’t want anyone to go away from Him (2 Peter 3:9). It tells me that God hears everyone, even if they aren’t in a state of Grace. Consider the case of the Ninevites. The prophet Jonah warns them of impending doom. They pray for deliverance and God spares them. These were not men of faith; indeed they had a jolly time persecuting Jews. But God heard them and spared them.

The Bible also tells me that God is constantly talking to us, even when we aren’t saved. It’s all an attempt to bring us back to Him. Paul wrote to the Romans about how God uses our conscience to talk to us (Romans 2:14-16). James wrote about a myriad of other ways God speaks to us as individuals. God is using me to speak to you right at this moment. And GOD USES OUR PRAYERS TO SPEAK TO US.

One of the few things I truly despise is the false teachers who warp Scripture to fit their personal agenda. I’ve heard people preach that if you’re unsaved, God won’t hear your prayers. They often twist John 9:31 into a pretzel to make this point, but they’re wrong. I’m not going to get a scriptural argument on this point. But just follow the logic here: if we say the way to salvation is through prayer, and God doesn’t hear the prayers of the unsaved, then how do they get saved?

That’s what this little post is all about. I’m hoping that by now you’ll have come to recognize that during those times of fear, anxiety, doubt, and pain God was calling out to you. He was letting you know that if you simply trust in Him, he can and will set things right.

If you have, then the world’s simplest prayer

God, I know I have sinned. I have done wrong in your eyes and beg forgiveness.
I believe that your Son Jesus died for my sin and ask Him to enter my heart
and promise to follow Him as Lord and Savior

will set you free. If you just prayed that prayer, find a Bible-believing and -teaching church near you.

If not, I hope I’ve given you something to consider. But don’t think about it for too long. After all, tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone and if you stuck around this long, God is speaking to you now.


To The Moon


When I was 4 years old, my mother let me stay up late and watch Neil Armstrong take that giant leap for mankind. I was hooked. The rest of my adolescence was spent dreaming of and planning to be an astronaut. I watched with fascination during the rest of the Apollo missions, the hookup with the Soyuz capsule, Skylab, and the space shuttle. As things turned out, I never realized that dream but my interest in space travel hasn’t waned. In fact, I have the NASA and ESA channels locked into my TV.

I was naturally interested when NASA announced they were planning a return to the moon. And naturally, I was disappointed when Artemis 1 didn’t get off the launch pad. When I heard the reason the launch was twice scrubbed is due to 45-year-old engine technology failing, I was stunned.

We’ve spent billions on the SLS rocket, and NASA is using the same engines that powered the space shuttle? Billions on research and technology development, but Lockheed couldn’t come up with something better? What the heck are we doing?

The Artemis (SLS) Rocket

Further, why the moon? NASA says it is to eventually build a moon base. But of what use is a moon base? As a platform for launching expeditions to other planets, it’s useless. A geosynchronous space station, to which supplies and parts could be resupplied relatively easily, is more logical. Besides, we’ve been there already and discovered it to be as inhospitable a place as our solar system offers.

When you dig into this program, these are just a few things that stick out like a sore thumb. Here’s the reality. NASA lost the space race. Not to the Russians (who are using even older tech). Not to the Chinese, the Indians, or the Europeans. No, NASA lost the space race to Elon Musk and SpaceX. They know it, the world knows it, but the public largely doesn’t know it. Yet. Once they do?

They won’t stand for spending billions on a government program that can’t compete with the private sector.

NASA is being kept alive for two reasons. First, it is the government’s way of getting the nascent Space Force into its theater of operation (never mind that actual launches are handled by SpaceX). The other reason? The second and third largest NASA contractors (after SpaceX) are Lockheed and Raytheon, who also happen to be two of the Pentagon’s biggest suppliers. They are also the two principal leads on the SLS design.

Beginning to see a pattern here? Lockheed and Raytheon have soaked the government for billions of dollars, for a design that is fundamentally unchanged from the 1970s, for a rocket they can’t even get off the ground. In the meantime, Musk’s SpaceX is already handling almost 80% of NASA’s launches. Oh, and while NASA is struggling to get back to the moon, SpaceX is powering ahead with their own heavy launch space vehicle, Starship.

SpaceX Starship and Heavy Booster Test

And they aren’t trying for the moon. They’re aiming for Mars – and not to visit. Musk plans to plant a colony, officially marking humanity’s expansion from our terrestrial roots. While NASA and its military contractors fall further behind schedule on trying to get 4 people to the moon, SpaceX is on target to land 50 people on Mars by the end of 2029.

The bloody nose for NASA would be immense. The reality is that NASA should have been dissolved years ago. Their functions are already being managed by SpaceX. It has become merely a way for the government to funnel billions of tax dollars to military contractors. it is a boondoggle wrapped in corruption, incapable of doing things the private sector does routinely.


Fascism Arises


The leader strides to the podium. Behind him is the nation’s oldest government building, recognizable by all. It’s portico is bathed in a dark crimson light, making the brickwork somehow ominous. The normally white columns stand out, like flickering pillars of fire. Members of an elite military unit stand at the ready in the background, their dress uniforms barely distinguishable in the lighting – except for the white caps they wear.

He raises his fists in the air and launches into a twenty minute long rant, decrying his political opposition as enemies of the state. He yells, he screams that they intend to tear down the country. He vows to fight them, to destroy these political opponents. With wild gesticulations punctuating his every word, he exhorts his followers to ensure the voices of the opposition are silenced.

What I’ve just described might sound like a speech delivered by Adolph Hitler. Or Benito Mussolini. Or Fidel Castro. But it isn’t.

This was Joseph R. Biden, 46th President of the United States, evoking the memories of petty tyrants throughout history.

It should scare the bejeezus out of you. This is the same President that in the past month has unleashed the federal police against his political opponents, bypassed Congress to spend a trillion dollars of public money to solidify his support among his most ardent supporters, is desperately trying to “normalize” relations with the world’s greatest terrorist state, and is determined to prolong a European war.

He says he wants to warn us about the rise of fascism in the United States? Too late. It’s arrived in the person of the president.


Did You Earn A Useless Degree? Now You Get A Bailout!


One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was, “write as you speak.” This might sound intuitive to you, but for me, it took some serious retraining. You see, I dropped $10 dollar words into everything I wrote. After all, I reasoned, I had spent a lot of money to get the education where I learned those words. Why shouldn’t I use them? What I didn’t understand was that most people don’t want to run for a dictionary every time they opened one of my emails. I had failed to “read the room,” as the saying goes.

The same can be said for the President’s asinine student loan bailout. I understand why he did it. Protestations from the administration aside, Joe Biden’s poll numbers are further underwater than a nuclear submarine awaiting orders. In particular, he is way underwater with what might be the group that put him over the top in 2020: 20-something college graduates. So giving them a cool $20,000 must have looked like a gimme to him.

Look, I get buying votes. It’s a practice as old as the republic

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public’s money.

Alexis de Tocqueville

except in this case, it isn’t Congress, it’s the President.

That brings us to the first problem with this handout. The Constitution makes it pretty plain that any appropriations are supposed to begin in the House of Representatives (Article 1, Section 7). Nowhere does the President have the authority to magically create money to hand out to a select group of people. He’s claiming that an obscure law, meant to provide temporary relief after 9/11, gives him that authority. Most legal beagles are dubious. The lawsuits to come should be entertaining.

Now, as mentioned, the money to pay for this isn’t being reapportioned from some other program. At least, none that anyone knows about. That means this is brand new spending. How much brand-new spending? Nobody’s quite sure. The administration (via the OMB) thinks $260 billion. The CBO thinks it’s more like $500 billion. Just yesterday, Penn-Wharton said this will end up costing you and me $1 trillion. Last week, Democrats were crowing about their “Inflation Reduction Act” (protip: it does no such thing) and the $210 billion in deficit savings it is supposed to bring. Well, with a stroke of his pen, their nominal party leader just played Enola Gay to their Hiroshima.

Then there’s the question of income redistribution. Nobody will ever confuse me as someone in favor of such schemes. But if you’re a fan of such socialist hogwash, let me ask: are you in favor of a reverse Robin Hood scheme in which the government steals from the poor and gives to the rich? That’s exactly what this is: waitresses and truck drivers will be sending part of their paychecks to lawyers and accountants, so they can buy their soy lattes. On what planet is that considered fair or equitable?

I understand how difficult it is the pay off onerous (sorry, $10 word. Buy a dictionary) student debt. My personal debt was over $72,000 and took 18 years to pay off. But that’s the thing. I made my monthly payments, even during the 2001 and 2008 recessions. Once upon a time, that wasn’t anything to talk about. Everyone did it. It was called being an adult. But we have a senile president being led around by the craziest people in Congress. Responsibility is passe.


Nations Have Seasons


This was written by someone else, who’s been gracious enough to allow me to post it here. I might not have written it, but the thoughts mirror mine and possibly yours. Leave your feedback in the comments.

Imagine a Roman of the 2nd century contemplating an empire that stretched from Britain to the Near East, thinking: This will endure forever…. Forever was about 500 years, give or take.

France was pivotal in the 17th and 18th centuries; now the land of Charles Martel is on its way to becoming part of the Muslim ummah. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the sun never set on the British empire; now Albion exists in perpetual twilight. Its 96-year-old sovereign is a fitting symbol for a nation in terminal decline. In the 1980s, Japan seemed poised to buy the world. Business schools taught Japanese management techniques. Today, its birth rate is so low and its population aging so rapidly that an industry has sprung up to remove the remains of elderly Japanese who die alone.

We’ve gone from a republican government guided by a constitution to a regime of revolving elites. We have less freedom with each passing year. Like a signpost to the coming reign of terror, the cancel culture is everywhere. We’ve traded the American Revolution for the Cultural Revolution. The pathetic creature in the White House is an empty vessel filled by his handlers.

At the G-7 Summit, ‘Dr. Jill’ had to lead him like a child.

When we were young and vigorous, our leader was too. Now a feeble nation is led by the oldest man to ever serve in the presidency. We can’t defend our borders, our history (including monuments to past greatness) or our streets. Our cities have become anarchist playgrounds. We are a nation of dependents, mendicants, and misplaced charity.

Homeless veterans camp in the streets while illegal aliens are put up in hotels.

The president of the United States can’t even quote the beginning of the Declaration of Independence (‘You know – The Thing’) correctly.

Ivy League graduates routinely fail history tests that 5th graders could pass a generation ago.

Crime rates soar; we blame the 2nd Amendment and slash police budgets.

We slaughter the unborn in the name of freedom, while our birth rate dips lower year by year.

People who fight racism by seeking to convince members of one race that they’re inherently evil, and others that they are perpetual victims. A psychiatrist lecturing at Yale said she fantasizes about “unloading a revolver into the head of any white person.”

Our ‘entertainment’ is sadistic, nihilistic, and as enduring as a candy bar wrapper thrown in the trash. Our music is noise that spans the spectrum from annoying to repulsive.

Our culture is certifiably insane!

Our national debt is so high that we can no longer even pretend that we will repay it one day. It’s a $31-trillion monument to our improvidence and refusal to confront reality.

Patriotism is called insurrection, treason celebrated, and perversion sanctified.

A man in blue gets less respect than a man in a dress.
We’re asking soldiers to fight for a nation our leaders no longer believe in.
How meekly most of us submitted to Fauci-ism (the regime of face masks, lockdowns, and hand sanitizers) shows the impending death of the American spirit.

This is the nation that took in my immigrant great grandparents, whose uniform my Grandpa, my father and most of my uncles wore in the
Navy & Military.

During Britain’s darkest hour, when its professional army was trapped at Dunkirk and a German invasion seemed imminent, Churchill reminded his countrymen, “Nations that go down fighting rise again, and those that surrender tamely are finished.” The same might be said of causes. If we let America slip through our fingers if we lose without a fight, what will posterity say of us? While the prognosis is far from good, only God knows if America’s day in the sun is over.

I don’t want to imagine a world without America, even though it becomes increasingly likely.

I believe that we in America are at the moment in time to stand up, or let it fall! We now may soon be at the next step in our country’s future.

I believe that it might be closer than we think.

“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.”

Edward R. Murrow

Restoring Trust in Our Elections


Vote!

Pulled from the archives. Now that primary season is over and we’re headed for another general election in 2 1/2 months, this seems like a good time to dust this one off.

It seems you can’t pick up a newspaper (ok, I’m being quaint, but some of us do still read newspapers) or turn on your television without hearing about how our elections are under assault. If the Russians aren’t rotting our minds with memes of Hillary Clinton drunkenly gazing at balloons, the Chinese are hacking into our voter rolls. When the Chinese aren’t hacking into voter rolls, the Iranians are hacking the voting machines themselves. When the Iranians aren’t playing centrifuge subterfuge with the voting machines, the North Koreans are actually changing vote totals.

It’s a wonder a beloved TV sitcom character hasn’t been elected to Congress with all this electronic doo-dah. Oh, wait…

Okay, the security of our electronic voting systems are important. I don’t mean to belittle them. But that insecurity highlights a much bigger problem our nation faces: in a representative republic, the integrity of the electoral process cannot be open to interpretation. When it is, then the legitimacy of the election outcomes that select our representatives comes into question. No government without said legitimacy can stand for long.

It seems to me that I’m not the only one thinking the way we vote has become an absolute mess over the last twenty years. You would have thought that after the disaster of the 2000 election, the one in which “Hanging Chad” came to mean something other than executing a yuppie horse thief, we would have gotten our act together. But as the most recent election demonstrated, if anything we got worse at both voting and counting the vote. Of course, much of the coverage centered on our favorite county (Broward) in our favorite state (Florida) for electoral shenanigans. This overlooks that there were nearly four dozen House races that still weren’t called a full week after the election. It overlooks serious charges of vote tampering and fraud in California, New Jersey, Illinois, Georgia, Alaska, North Carolina, and Utah.

Since we didn’t learn from the disaster that was 2000, allow me to propose some simple changes that would be relatively simple to implement that would go a long way to ending the nonsense. Will it end voting irregularities forever? No, of course not. They are a feature of any voting system since man-made systems are imperfectible. But we can do much better than we have to date.

Step 1: Implement a national Voter ID system

Look, forget all the nonsense about poor people, or black people, or Hispanic people, not being able to get a valid state ID. It’s the 21st century, for chrissakes. There is absolutely no reason an adult should not have a valid ID. I challenge you to find me a state where you can buy a beer or pack of cigarettes without a valid ID. If we demand you have a valid ID for something as mundane as getting a cold brew at a restaurant, any argument against having one for something as important as voting is ridiculous on its face. Remember this sob story? The only reason he was prevented from breaking the law was due to Tennessee’s voter ID law.

Yeah, Voter ID laws work exactly as intended. Which may be why the same crowd that is all for open borders and illegal immigrants voting in our elections are so against them.

Step 2: Get rid of early voting

It seems many of the problems we run into with counting the vote (and where some of the greatest opportunities for general screwing with the ballots) comes from the fact that in some jurisdictions, people can actually begin voting up to a month before election day. There are other reasons to get rid of early voting (seriously, who but the most partisan hack is 100% certain of who they’re going to cast their ballot for a month before election day?), but that’s another post for another day. Anyway, the nonsense we witnessed around the country last November, with ballots mysteriously materializing from car trunks and classroom closets, would immediately end simply by getting rid of early voting. I understand voting in the middle of the week is inconvenient for a great many people, but that brings me to my next suggestion, which is…

Step 3: Make all national elections a national holiday

See, now nobody has the excuse they can’t get off work to go vote. Yes, the lines might be long. But if voting becomes a holiday, think about this: how long will it be before the nation’s retailer’s start offering discounts when you present that “I voted” sticker? I bet Friendly’s even starts offering a free scoop of ice cream!

Step 4: End “ballot harvesting”

Look, I don’t know who came up with this piece of insanity. I’m ambivalent about absentee ballots, to begin with (I can’t get around particularly well these days, but I still show up to vote in person), but if your state is going to allow them, shouldn’t the very least expectation be that you put the doggone thing in the mailbox yourself? I don’t know who thought the idea of letting party operatives handle them was a brilliant idea, but they need to be taken out back and put out of their misery the same way we do horses with broken legs. Heck, we’re ten weeks past the election and one district in North Carolina got so fouled up with ballot tampering as a result of this idiocy that they likely need to call a special election. Stories have come from California of voters just signing a blank ballot and handing it over to a party apparatchik. I’m 100% certain no tampering happened in those instances whatsoever, right?

Step 5: Get rid of electronic voting machines

I don’t know if the Russians or Iranians or little green men from Mars are trying to break into the electronic voting systems in use around the US. What I do know is there is enough distrust that those systems can be secured against sophisticated hacks (or even hacks from 300 pound couch potatoes) that we should have already stopped using them.

Step 6 : JIT ballot verification

This is little more technical, but every bit as important as anything else. During the latest Broward “Whose Vote is It Anyway” episode, we were once again treated to election workers trying to decipher illegible ballots. Just because that wasn’t enough fun, then we heard that poll workers could, in the event a ballot was indecipherable, just fill out an alternate one. Just fill out an alternate one? Are you kidding me?

In software engineering, we use “Just-In-Time” testing to validate that our code at least has the correct syntax and spelling to not cause a digital rejection of our work when trying to make it do something. It isn’t that hard to do something similar with a paper ballot. Optical scanners, which have been around for longer than most of you who read this blog, can detect if too many circles on a line (or a row) are filled in, and if they’re filled in correctly – and check this out, they CAN EVEN COUNT THE VOTE IN REAL TIME. If your ballot is illegible, for whatever reason, the poll worker can hand you another blank, destroy the bad one and scan the corrected ballot all before you leave the voting booth! Amazing!

This won’t completely end the questions about voting. Some states will complain vociferously about Congress passing any further restrictions. I can already hear the Chamber of Commerce harping on yet another paid holiday. Democrats will kvetch about Voter ID and the loss of early voting, Republicans about JIT verification. Both will scream bloody murder over ending harvesting.

But these six steps will make our elections more secure and provide for quicker vote tabulation. They address some of the biggest questions the nation has about our elections. It puts what is the most vital process in republic back into the sunlight, restoring the trust that the process isn’t corrupted. In short, it is the first step in injecting some sanity back into our politics.


We D̶o̶n̶’̶t̶ ̶ Got Him!


As I’m writing this, we’re finding out more about the FBI raid at the Mar-a-Lago resort, the primary residence of former President Trump. I won’t bother rehashing the details from last Monday. Unless you’ve been living on Mars, you’re already aware of them. Heck, odds are that even if you’ve been living on Mars, you’re aware of them.

Of far more import is the reason behind the seizure of the documents. The Department of Justice hasn’t said much of anything. What we know is from the cover page of the warrant and the property list. According to them, they took cases of classified documents, including some marked “Top Secret” and “SCI.” They also grabbed some photo albums and a letter from the Italian Prime Minister.

We also know that they were looking for evidence of espionage.

Are You Kidding Me?

I don’t want to say that’s a fantastic allegation, but stop to consider what that charge means. It means that a President of the United States is actively working as a spy for an unnamed foreign government.

Ok, forget fantastic. I know the severely TDS impaired types are lapping that up. But we’ve seen this story before, with the dummied up “Russia Russia Russia” idiocy that tied the nation in knots for 3 years. Let’s not forget how many times we heard that the FBI had proof of that conspiracy, only to have it all fall apart.

So, here we are (again). The FBI is trying to tell us that Donald Trump is a foreign agent (again). Their proof? Well, we don’t have any (again) and they won’t tell us their causi belli (again).

All of this is quite laughable, except that the Very Serious People are all nodding their heads like those dashboard bobble-heads in agreement. “We got him NOW!” they’re screaming from the ivory towers.

Except, of course, they don’t have him on anything. Trump’s lawyers are already saying the documents in question were declassified before he left office – and that they notified the DOJ and National Archives of this back in June. Already this latest tempest in a teapot is devolving into what amounts to a bureaucratic snafu, a battle over clerical matters of what paperwork was filed where and with whom.

Of far greater importance is what the raid signifies to everyone to the right politically of Al Gore. I keep hearing from pundits that Merrick Garland is apolitical. I think that’s a massive miscalculation. Garland is every bit as political as any member of Joe Biden’s cabinet. More than likely, he authorized the extremely broad search-and-seizure warrant in hopes of uncovering damning evidence that Trump led the January 6th riots.

It’s a political miscalculation of the highest order. Instead of finding a silver bullet, they let a genie out that may never get back into the bottle. Why? Regardless of what many non-Trump conservatives think about Trump as a man, most just had their suspicions about progressive infiltration of our government confirmed. Instead of permanently putting Donald Trump to pasture, Garland’s faux pas probably handed the GOP nomination in 2024 to him.

You can bet Trump will remind voters of the DOJ’s corruption daily during that campaign, ginning up the GOP turnout. Democrats may well rue August 8, 2022 for a long, long time.


Shitholes, Fucktards & Distractions


I dug this one out of the archives from three years ago. Yes, the specific topic (immigration reform) isn’t currently a hot topic. But the problems I ranted about have only become worse. Read on… if you dare.

Well, THERE’S a headline I never thought I would see, much less write.

Unless you’ve been living on Mars for the past week, you might be confused by this topic. It certainly seems a great number of people who should know better – our politicians, our press and our pundits – are confounded, similarly to how a dog might wonder what his master is up to by having a bone yanked away just as he’s about to take a bite.

outhouse-2-wesleying

So a quick refresher course might be in order, both for those recently arrived from outer space and us more earthbound types.

On January 9, during what became an impromptu, hour-long televised bipartisan meeting on immigration matters in the Cabinet Room, the basic framework for granting amnesty to the roughly 800,000 “Dreamers” seemed agreed to. In exchange for amnesty, Democrats would agree to a $1.8 billion down payment on border security measures, which presumably would go towards further development of the border wall. Hammering out the long overdue overhaul to America’s immigration system would be fast-tracked after the budget was passed.

But in typical Washington fashion, nobody could long stand the positive vibes. Liberals immediately decried the border wall, Trumpkins decried the amnesty. And so…

On January 11, a new “Gang of Six’ (apparently, the old “Gang of Eight” atrophied in the bright sunlight the last time Congress attempted to tackle immigration) struck a deal that they simply had to know was going to be a non-starter with anyone politically left of California. In exchange for amnesty not only for “Dreamers,” but their extended families, granting permanent residency to everyone here under Temporary Protected Status and a couple thousand fewer lottery visas, the government would get $1.8 billion in border security measures.

The White House almost immediately announced their displeasure with essentially granting fully legal status to over 4 million illegal aliens. Which brings us to…

Can you say “verpiss dich?” No? How about “shithole” (or “shithouse,” depending on who’s interpretation of events you choose to believe)?

That evening, during a meeting with the Gang of Six and a few others, the President made his position clear: no more unfettered immigration from shithole (or shithouse) countries, which he loosely defined as being Haiti, El Salvador, and pretty much all of Africa. But not Norway.

And so, for four days now, any discussion of doing the actual work required of this Congress and the Executive branch – little things, like passing spending plans for the federal government and actually passing a realistic immigration plan and doing something about border security and doing something about entitlements and…

You get the picture? Instead of focusing on the real business of governance, we’re distracted by discussions of the President’s racial animus. (For the zillionth time, he isn’t a racist – but he is, as we all are, a prejudiced shithole. Deal with it.) And here’s the part that drives people like me nuts: any substantive discussion regarding immigration is immediately tinged with calls of “racism” by those opposed to anything other than fully open borders. All because the President uttered a rather crass epithet in describing a rather larger segment of the world.

Here’s what should be beyond dispute: there are large swaths of the globe in Africa, Asia, Central and South America that are, in the common vernacular, either outhouses or the holes located at the bottom of an outhouse. There isn’t one sane person who would describe Haiti, Gabon, Rwanda or Chad as a prime tourist destination. Nobody except a Jack Nicholson character would characterize Thailand, Libya, El Salvador or Venezuela as the kind of place where you would want to raise your kids (it’s a great neighborhood, Mr. Nicholson – on a good day, you can get three hours of electricity, the corner market will have toilet paper and the drug gangs will only take half your belongings!).

Here’s what should also be beyond dispute: not everyone from a basket case nation is themselves a basket case. Yes, the predominant population in those places isn’t

****TRIGGER WARNING****

(the following statement will be too true for some of you)

what we want as new Americans. After all, if they were their countries wouldn’t be basket case outhouses. But some of those people are the sorts of folks we do want to come here, and those should be the ones we allow in.

****TRIGGER WARNING CANCELLED****

Merit has nothing to do with nation of origin or skin color. Conversely,

****TRIGG… oh, screw it

barring someone from, say, Haiti likewise has nothing to do with skin color, either. But the President’s remarks, which were in response to the asinine idea that the “temporary” in TPS now means the same thing as permanent in non-Washington speak, have been twisted, misconstrued, massaged and rebranded by both sides of the identity politics war into competing clarion calls.

That’s what all the teeth gnashing , thumb sucking and 140 character diatribes of the past four days have left us with. If you happen to agree with the President’s position that maybe, just maybe, a system that right now says if your homeland, which wasn’t in particularly great shape to begin with, get whacked with a hurricane, you get to stay here indefinitely, is off-kilter, you’re branded a racist. If you sort of wandered over the border, or maybe overstayed a tourist visa, a couple of decades ago, no biggie – you get to stay, too (why should our laws apply to you? You meant well)! If you think that a system that says we’re going to have immigration based on a lottery, where winning not only means you get to set up house here, but you can bring your mother, your brother, your great uncle and your second cousin thrice removed while we deny a software engineer residency is just a wee bit out of whack, you’re a racist. If you happen to think the systems in Canada, India, Japan, South Korea, etc, and so forth (all, by the way, “enlightened liberal” democratic societies) might be something we could learn from, you’re obviously a racist. Because those damned Canucks are totally racist, eh?

So, how do we get out of this miasma of non-productivity? I’d suggest the first thing to do would be for both sides to ditch to identity politics and identity politicians, pundits, journalists and all the rest of that diaspora. Al Sharpton, you gotta go. Same for you, Sean Hannity. Because so help me, if I hear one more idiot yell “I’m a proud black man!’ or type in all caps “I’M PROUD TO BE WHITE”, I just might lose it.

Speaking of identity politicians, if I see one more disingenuous congresscritter emerge from a private meeting fuming about language, I might just have to point them to their own past statements (bunch of hypocrites, the lot of ’em). Besides, ever listen to the tapes from the Kennedy, Johnson or Nixon Oval Offices? You would hear language that would make a Parris Island Drill Instructor blush. And Trumplicans don’t get a pass on this, either. Saying the President didn’t utter one epithet because he used a different cuss word is equally disingenuous. It was pure huckstering on both sides, and it had the desired effect. The status quo will remain for at least two more years. Congratulations! Washington has once again succeeded at doing the one thing it’s proven incredibly efficient at: creating new problems while ignoring the existing ones. It’s back to the ramparts, you plebes – fight the good fight and if the country burns in the meantime…well, at least I won reelection.


We Need New Experts


I believe in meritocracy. The concept that the best and brightest among us should be making the important decisions that affect everything and everyone. Certainly, they’ll be wrong on occasion. That’s human nature. But the odds are they’ll be right far more often than not and we’ll all be better off for it.

The nation was founded by experts in political theory. The documents they created, our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, have proven to be guiding lights not only for the United States but the world. And they were smart enough to recognize that their first attempt at a national compact was not working and hammer out something better.

Throughout our history, our reliance on meritocracy has worked well. There have been fits and starts, but the country has inexorably become more just. Our living standards have continuously improved and the opportunities our meritocracy created lured the world’s best to our shores.

Our meritocracy reached its zenith in the Cold War period. Experts in every field of human endeavor made breathtaking creations that made the USA the envy of the world. All of the technological marvels of our time, all of the medical breakthroughs, the 20 year Pax Americana all resulted from the effort of those experts.

But something has happened over the past 25 years. The experts have been wrong far more often than they’ve been right. What’s worse, they’ve been wrong about the Very Important Things, and that’s led to public policies that have diminished the nation as a whole. From failing to recognize the threat of Islamic extremism (and actually funding it!) to WMD in Iraq through “2 weeks to stop the spread,” I’m hard pressed to think of a single thing our current crop of experts got right.

Now our current experts have gone from simply being terribly wrong to being dangerously misguided. They tell us boys can be girls. The coastlines will be underwater – 10 years ago. That experimental medications are safer and more effective than fully tested ones. That people who can only afford to put a side of poor meat at dinner three times a week can spend 2 years of earnings on a car you can’t drive in large swaths of the country.

An Over-The-Hill Expert

I’m waiting for the day they tell us the sky is green and grass is orange.

The simple fact is that for a generation, our meritocracy is less a society led by the best and brightest as much it is led by the politically connected. It’s time to put all of them – in government, in academia, in medicine, in science, in engineering, in every field and every occupation – out to pasture.


RAID!!!


As of this writing, it’s been about 12 hours since the FBI executed a search warrant at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. It’s notable because it is the first time in history the principle federal law enforcement agency has ever legally searched the primary residence of a former president.

Press reports indicate the search warrant was to identify and locate official records from President Trump’s tenure, including possible national security documents. If the President was in possession of such records, he would be in violation of several laws. Those laws carry significant penalties. Most importantly, one of those laws is the Official Secrets Act. Were the former President convicted under that law, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

There’s no way to look at this without recognizing the political and social implications. President Trump still commands a large and overly devoted following. Additionally, many more Americans may not necessarily support him, but do support the political agenda he represents. If this warrant wasn’t predicated on strong evidence, or the search didn’t yield anything of importance, then he will be vindicated in his claims of a witch hunt. The result will be an absolute decimation of the Democrat Party and complete loss of faith in the government and its institutions.

Which is why I tend to think there must have been significant evidence presented in the affadavit for the warrant. We like to think judges are impartial and free of political considerations. But there isn’t a person alive who doesn’t understand the historic implications of searching a president’s residence. There isn’t a judge anywhere who would not recognize that searching this particular president’s residence has the potential to tear the country apart. Signing that warrant put into motion the potential for political violence on a scale we haven’t seen since the late 1960s and early 1970s.

An indictment is almost certainly forthcoming. The judge who signed the warrant had to have reached the same conclusion. Without that level of evidence, they wouldn’t have taken that risk. That’s the reality of this moment.

Any ensuing trial will be the most closely watched in history. If the evidence isn’t ironclad, a large segment of society will never accept a verdict. If the charge is something spurious (a la convicting Al Capone of tax evasion), the anti-Trump part of society would recognize a pyrrhic victory. Yes, Donald Trump would be convicted of a federal crime and barred from holding office, but the “witch hunt” claims would be bolstered. Instead of removing him from the political scene, it will only make him even more influential.

These are certainly considerations made by the Justice Department. The risks associated with this prosecution are immense and there is virtually no upside unless there is a slam dunk case. For the sake of the country, let’s hope they haven’t miscalculated.


An Ode to My Wife


The Bard famously wrote, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

Growing up, we’re taught this line from “Romeo and Juliet,” the tale of star-crossed young love gone horribly wrong. Well, today I want to use it to tell a much happier tale. It’s the story of the most amazing woman God has put on this planet since Mary. A woman so incredible that even Shakespeare would have trouble doing her justice. While my skills with a quill are no match for his, I’m about to try.

Nearly a quarter century ago, Linda came into my life, a visage of beauty that left me so awestruck I couldn’t find the words to say “Hello.” But something (God? Fate?) gave me the courage. After a few minutes of conversation, I asked her to dinner. Except, in classic fumble tonguededness, I think I might have asked her to take me to dinner.

No matter. She turned me down cold.

It took two more attempts before she finally said yes. By the end of that summer, we were engaged. And married the next. That was 22+ years ago and in that time, my love for this woman – a love I thought bottomless on our wedding day – has only grown.

But why? What enchantment has she weaved over my heart, my soul, my being that could do this? Oh, I could recount the times she’s stood by my side when things looked black. The times businesses failed, the times my health failed. If you’re reading this, chances are you already about some of these events. While all of those have made my appreciation of her steadfastness grow, they don’t explain the love in my heart.

Could it be her beauty? The years have dulled that shine, as it has to all of us. Despite that, she is still a beautiful woman, in many ways more lovely than that first time I saw the setting sun dance through her hair. Others fade with maturity. Linda has become an ever more wondrous sight to behold each morning when I wake. That beauty may have drawn me like the proverbial moth to a flame, but it doesn’t begin to explain the way I love her today.

Is it her charm? Her wit (and if you’ve been on your receiving end of one of her barbs, you won’t soon forget it)? Is it her ability to put others at ease when uncomfortable?

No. None of that explains it, either.

In the end, it’s inexplicable. I don’t think it needs explaining. You see, what matters – what truly matters, above all – is this one simple fact:

My wife loves me for who I am. All she’s ever asked of me is to be me. All I’ve ever asked of her is to let me love her, as best I can, for as long as she’ll have me. 22+ years later, she’s still ok with that bargain. And with more love than I ever thought I had to give, so am I.

Now for a bit of news: today is Linda’s birthday, and I nothing would make me happier than for all of you to wish her a happy one!


Rain


I’m sitting here on a rainy Saturday afternoon in mid-July. I’ve spent the day as follows:

  • I managed to get out of bed and get dressed. This has become a chore. I tend to wake with legs that are simultaneously numb and in excruciating pain. It takes a half hour (at least!) of massaging my calves and feet before I can stand up. (To give you an idea what it feels like, cut off the circulation to a leg so it falls asleep. Then hold your sleeping leg over an open flame. Keep it there. Yep. Not fun.)
  • Eat breakfast. Thankfully, I have a wife who’s willing to cook, since I can’t properly grasp a spatula. Or a knife. Or any other cooking tool. Heck, I can’t even use the microwave. Or pour a cup of coffee without spilling half the pot. Have I mentioned lately that I married the greatest woman in the world? I should probably devote a post to her one day.
  • Shave. I don’t know whether it was Mr. Remington or Mr. Norelco who invented the electric razor, but God bless them. I would resemble the wolfman without their invention.

(In case you haven’t noticed, mornings are no longer my most enjoyable part of the day)

  • Take my daily walk. I’m up to about a half-mile now. For a guy who used to bike 20 miles just to warm up, it doesn’t seem like much. But 3 months ago I was still stuck in a wheelchair. Small victories!
  • Get through my email. Even though I haven’t worked in over 2 years now, I still get around 150 of them a day.
  • Take a nap. I do that more than I ever did. I guess I’m finally catching up on all that sleep I missed in my 20s🙂
  • Read.

Reading is something I’ve always enjoyed. Today I finished “Aeon Rising” by Michael Mather. I’m also reading a tome on argumentative thinking -essentially, relearning how to argue all sides of a position intelligently. While I’ve applied that type of thinking throughout my adult life, I’m still picking up a few pointers.

Mather is a decent author, generally creating post-apocalyptic worlds with a hard science fiction underpinning. In this one, an apparent supernova explodes in Earth’s backyard, creating all kinds of disasters, melting the South Pole, stranding a spec-ops force in the Amazon. Only… Is it really a supernova? He blends in AIs (both good and not so good), a couple of mad scientists, a rogue senator and colonel, a Chinese spy/astrophysicist, the NSA, and a shadowy tech terrorist group.

Rereading that last part makes me realize it probably sounds like a bit too much to jam into one novel. Hey, I mentioned Mather is a pretty good writer. He not only gets it all in, but they’re essential to what is a tightly wound story.

So, I got off on a tangent. This was supposed to be post about rainy days, and somehow it turned into a book review. Anyway, back to my original subject: rainy days SUCK. They especially suck when you spend most of your day trying to ignore pain. See, not only can’t you do things outdoors which helps alleviate the pain. The damp, cool air makes everything hurt more than usual, as well.

Anyway, the sun is supposed to make a reappearance tomorrow. Here’s to better days ahead!


Hello Again! (And Thank You, Jesus)


You might have noticed I’ve only posted twice over the last 18 months. Well, thrice if you include this one, I suppose. There’s a very interesting story that explains why.

In February 2021, as we were entering week 48 of “two weeks to stop the spread,” I was told the blood clots in my lungs needed to be removed ASAP. The procedure would be difficult but not especially dangerous. Oh, and for good measure, there were only two hospitals in the country capable of doing it. Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, and UCSD in San Diego. We opted for Temple since flying cross-country during the pandemic was virtually impossible. Thus began 7 intense weeks of testing, doctors appointments, consultations, a couple of minor procedures to prepare for the actual surgery, and more tests.

Finally, the day for the actual surgery arrived. April 7, 2021, was the day my life changed. Due to the pandemic, my wife wasn’t allowed to come with me, but the doctors had assured me I would awake the following day and they would try to arrange a visit. I was apprehensive, my wife more so. But I needed the operation or I would be dead within the year, so I arrived ready for the surgery at 6AM that morning.

Only, I didn’t wake up the following day. Or the day after that. Or even the week after that. Instead, I slipped into a coma and didn’t wake up until June 26. I was awake for two days but then slipped back into a coma for another ten. I didn’t finally come about earnestly until July 7 – a full three months after the surgery.

Now, I obviously don’t know all that happened during that three months. Nobody even knows why I went into a coma.* But there are a few things I do know. While I was asleep, I suffered a series of trans-ischemic events (mini-strokes for the rest of us). I know at one point, the doctors were certain I was dead, only being kept alive by machines. My wife, knowing that wasn’t how I never wanted to live in that condition, made the heart-rending decision to terminate life support. I can’t imagine the emotional turmoil she was going through over those days. Only 3 years prior she had been tasked with making the same decision for her brother; he died within minutes. Now she was tasked with making the same decision for her husband.

Thankfully, I survived. They “pulled the plug” and expected me to expire. God had other plans – I just kept right on breathing. That brings up another thing I discovered about my time in my coma. When my wife announced on social media that she had to make an impossible decision, she asked for prayer. Boy, did you all respond! I have heard from literally hundreds of people, including a whole bunch of you I’ve never met, who told me they spent time pleading with the Almighty for Him to allow me to live.

I spent another 2 1/2 months in rehab. I had to learn to eat and talk. When I first awoke, it was as if I were paralyzed. I couldn’t even move my arms and legs. It was a difficult process that I again went almost alone. Almost, but not quite. Even though I was despondent and begging God to just let me die, he gave me the strength to push through. Finally, 25 weeks after going in for a difficult but not particularly dangerous procedure (except, you know, for the almost killing me part), I returned home. I still couldn’t walk, or even stand up. My left hand was virtually useless. I could barely grasp a spoon with my right. Even sitting up for a few hours exhausted me. But I WAS HOME. And alive.

The past 8 1/2 months have been difficult, to say the least. It is, I hope, understandable that I haven’t posted much recently. My rehab is going well. I can walk some – up to a half-mile, although it is slow and painful. The neurological damage from the strokes and, as we’ve since discovered, very poor care while in the coma forces me to wear a leg brace. It’s also badly disfigured my hands and wrists, so even common tasks like shaving and using a fork and knife have required many hours of therapy and experimentation. My speech is a little more slurred than it used to be unless I concentrate.

I’m not complaining, though. Quite the opposite. I’ve had people ask me how I can be actually happy with all the last 18 months have brought me. I think the answer should be obvious.

I AM ALIVE!

In His infinite wisdom, God has seen fit to give me another chance at life. I don’t know why. It may simply be to strengthen my faith. If that’s the case, He’s succeeded.

Anyway, I’ve mastered the two-fingered typing method. Sort of. I hope to be posting more frequently, although a daily post is probably out of the question. And a final thought: I noticed almost 1400 of you are still following this site, despite not very much content lately. I thank all of you. You are a big part of the reason I’m trying.

There are two other reasons I’m going to attempt returning to blogging. They are two fellow bloggers. First is Beauty Beyond Bones. She has gone through more than I, yet her faith remains strong and her voice, stronger. The other is Peter Venetoklis at Roots of Liberty, whose views don’t always align with mine but whose positions and arguments are always well thought out and reasoned. These people have inspired me to metaphorically pick up my quill and inkwell and get back in the game.

After all, we have a lot to discuss and I can’t wait to get the discussion started.

*My doctors think the coma was a result of systemic shock, but they aren’t sure. If you’re a long-time follower, you’re probably aware I’ve dealt with Crohn’s Disease for 30+ years. The doctors think the combination of being weakened from a few years of pulmonary hypertension and Crohn’s may have left me so weak that the coma was my body’s attempt at shielding me from the pain of the surgery.


Putin’s Disinformation War


War is hell and the first victim is the truth. Propaganda is flying from both sides. But here’s what we can be sure of:
* Russia invaded Ukraine, without provocation, after more than a year of propagandizing their intention
* As part of their strategy, they are intentionally targeting civilians
* To prevent Western interference, they resorted to nuclear sabre-rattling early in the campaign, part of standard escalate to deescalate doctrine

The weak tea Russian apologists on the “right” prefer to ignore these facts. Not surprised, even after Japan dropped bombs on Hawaii the original “America First” wing of the GOP wanted to acquiesce to the Axis. I don’t think they’re unpatriotic. They are just badly misguided, incapable of reading history, and extremely risk averse.

The problem is the current America First wing of the GOP is buying Russian propaganda about this war hook line and sinker. This is a rather sad and frankly, disgusting turn of events. That anyone with any moral fiber or rudimentary intelligence would believe such claptrap amazes me. But this is the world we live in and I’ve discovered that attempting to reason with these people is pointless.

While I hate discounting anyone’s point of view, the simple fact is these people need to be marginalized in public discourse. This doesn’t mean censoring their opinions or banning them from the public square. Instead we need to ensure that every time they spout some bit of disinformation it gets drowned out with the correct information.

And for God’s sake, we cannot allow that propaganda to inform our national decisions.


Why I Support Sanctions


I understand the sentiment, behind opposing sanctions on Russia, but refute it on two points:
1. People get the government they choose. Yes, Russian elections are rigged and yes, there are dissident factions inside Russia. But they do not have popular support. By making life difficult, there is a chance that something similar to 1989 will recur and topple Putin.
2. Russia has turned this into a total war. There’s evidence his strategy is reminiscent of the old Soviet doctrine of waging war on civilian populations with the aim of forcing the government to lose legitimacy. So far, it isn’t working – but by doing so, he’s opened his own population to a different version of total war, an economic one.

War is hell, and to win you have to be willing to be inhumane. Think of Sherman’s March to the Sea, or the way the Allies hammered Germany. Ending WWII by nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki certainly wasn’t humane. You worry about winning the peace after you’ve won the war, not before.


The Establishment Learned Nothing


Joe Biden is now officially the 46th President of the United States. Already, the press and official Washington is pretending the last 4 years didn’t happen, except that they intend to extract a pound of flesh for being subjected to it. Instead of asking themselves why it was that 75 million people voted for Donald Trump, they’ve already come to the misguided conclusion that those people don’t matter. Besides, they are probably a bunch of racists and wannabe autocrats anyway, so they suck.

For evidence of this, I point to this opinion piece published yesterday in National Review, authored by Kevin D. Williamson. I’m a long-time subscriber to NR and for the past few years, a member of the NRPlus community. Kevin’s take is not a lone cry in the wilderness. Many of my NRPlus fellows have expressed similar sentiments throughout Trump’s term. The disdain and outright contempt for anyone who dared vote for the “Orange Ape” shown in Kevin’s piece is part and parcel with the disdain and contempt that many of his ilk showed these people before Trump ever took his golden escalator ride.

I’ve often argued that what motivated Trump’s voters wasn’t the man himself. Make no mistake, there are those who would have followed him over a cliff, as we witnessed on January 6. But the vast majority of the 75 million that voted for him on November 3 do not fit into that neat checkbox. Their concerns have more to do with Barack Obama’s “bitter clingers” comments and Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” diatribe than Mr. Trump. We knew The Donald is an imperfect vessel – but he was the only one willing to address those concerns in 2016; he remained one of only a handful of willing to address them in 2020.

So now we have Joe Biden calling for national unity, but immediately marginalizing the bitter clinging, deplorable “chumps” in his Inaugural Address. To highlight the ad hominem attacks against people they don’t understand and wish would just go away, we got KDW calling us “the studio audience from Hee-Haw” and continually referring to us as “Cletus” (FWIW: Cletus is the backwoods living, inbred village idiot from The Simpsons). These were not meant as complimentary terms (I suspect Kevin didn’t, but I enjoyed watching Hee-Haw when I was growing up). In so doing, he forgot that you don’t have to live in Washington to be a coastal elite. However, you can live in Texas and still be a jackass.

Make no mistake, I still enjoy the bulk of KDW’s writing. His arguments in favor of American-style federal republicanism are among the most eloquent written in the past 20 years. But he’s also made it clear that his brand of conservatism (again, a view shared by quite a few others) is better off ignoring the complaints, gripes, and daily life of a wide swath of ordinary Americans. He would rather lose elections and see the last vestiges of classical liberal thought purged from these shores than ever admit that maybe, just maybe, there is something legitimate about the populist uprising within the GOP. Admitting certain policy preferences that somehow became conservative orthodoxy didn’t work out as intended is more painful than seeing them permanently jettisoned by admittedly unconservative democrats, I guess.

But KDW, just in case you stumble across this humble blog, remember this. Conservatism was never about standing athwart history, yelling “STOP.” It was never about tax cuts or being the world’s superpower or any of those other things that seem to have come to define DC conservatism. Conservativism has always been about unleashing the power of the individual so that all of society can improve. Denying that agency to millions of us in order to preserve corrupt and decaying power structures isn’t conservative, nor is it classically liberal. Those original classical liberals put up with denial of agency for only so long before they rose up and smashed the power structures to which they were subjected.

We shouldn’t have to wish for the same.


De-Platforming & Big Tech Censorship


Social media companies today are the equivalent of the public squares of yesteryear and need to be treated as such. I can already sense the “government can’t dictate what a private company allows” arguments heading my way, but the idea of technological public forums predates the internet.

The common carrier statutes – 47 USC Part 1 if you’re inclined to look them up – were originally created to prevent telecoms from censoring anyone. They were later updated to prevent ISP’s from censoring content. Those laws already give the federal government the tools to prevent what we euphemistically call “Big Tech” from censoring and de-platforming anyone based on political views.

Much of the focus has been incorrectly on “repealing section 230.” That idiocy refers to 47 USC 230, which ensures domains cannot be sued for the content they do not create. The point these people, including the outgoing President and Senators such as Josh Hawley, are making when they say that is they want to sue social media companies for removing or flagging the content of which those companies disapprove. That won’t solve the problem. It is more likely to make it worse, since without those liability protections social media companies cannot function. They would be liable to be sued not only for content they removed, but content they allowed. It would mean every single opinion posted would be subject to legal action, driving the companies into bankruptcy in short order.

Additionally, 47 USC 230 has absolutely no effect on preventing a web-hosting company from de-platforming an entire service, such as happened to Parler this week and Gab last year.

Where people should focus first is 47 USC 214, which regulates when and how a carrier can deny service to another entity. In this case, the carrier is a web-hosting company (much the same way AT&T once provided access to telecom lines) and the entity is the social media company. This section was the one used by Sprint to force AT&T to allow them access, effectively ending Ma Bell’s monopoly over telephone service.

As for 47 USC 230, paragraph d defines the obligations of an “access software provider,” but currently limits those obligations to warning about explicit content. By the way, the same statute defines an “access software provider” as “a provider of software (including client or server software), or enabling tools that do any one or more of the following:
(A)filter, screen, allow, or disallow content;
(B)pick, choose, analyze, or digest content; or
(C)transmit, receive, display, forward, cache, search, subset, organize, reorganize, or translate content.”

Sounds like a social media company, doesn’t it?

One simple line, say, “access software providers shall be subject to Section 202 of this Code” put into Paragraph D will prevent willy-nilly censorship and de-platforming of accounts. For those concerned about how that would be fairly enforced, the same enforcement rules that have been in existence since 1932 as outlined in 47 USC 204 and 208 will work. Remember that bit about Sprint using this section of the US Code to force AT&T to allow them access? The same works on a smaller scale. What’s more, the social media companies would be expressly forbidden from preventing access by 47 USC 202. The pertinent clause is,

It shall be unlawful for any common carrier to make any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services for or in connection with like communication service, directly or indirectly, by any means or device, or to make or give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person, class of persons, or locality, or to subject any particular person, class of persons, or locality to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage.

47 USC 202 Paragraph A

In other words, the same thing that prevents Verizon from cutting off your phone service because you texted a friend “biden sucks” would prevent Twitter from restricting your access for posting “biden sucks.” That’s a win for everyone. Well, everyone except those folks who don’t want you to exercise your freedom of speech.


Is The President Guilty Of Incitement?


As I’m writing this, Congress is once again preparing to introduce an Article (or Articles) of Impeachment against President Donald Trump. Reports suggest the focus of these articles will center on a charge of inciting an insurrection against the government of the United States. That’s an extremely serious charge to bring against anyone, much less a sitting President. It amounts to charging someone with sedition, or attempting to overthrow the federal government.

Let’s get one thing out of the way, before we get into this. The only place where anyone who thinks the events of last Wednesday were justified are on the fringes of society. It was a despicable act by erstwhile citizens of this country, one that has rightly been roundly condemned. Those people who participated in the invasion of the US Capitol are not patriots. They were not rioting. That was an assault on the United States and on the Constitution. The people who engaged and led that attempted insurrection should be tried as terrorists – because terrorism is the use of force in an attempt to frighten a government into conceding its authority.

The question is, is the President one of those who incited those actions? There can be little doubt his rhetoric is inflammatory. It is one of the things his most adoring supporters like about most about him. The President has in the past admitted inflammatory rhetoric is a tool he admires and uses, once writing

I love pitting people against each other. My whole life is based on that. It brings out the best in people and the worst in people.

Donald Trump, The Art of the Deal

This long-stated acknowledgement that he strives to create division and inflame passions would preclude any possibility of the President or his lawyers from trying to slough off the incitement charge based on the idea he wasn’t trying to create division or inflame passions among his supporters. Of course he was, we all know he was. I suspect that while nobody ever wants to admit they were manipulated, at the end of the day most of those in that crowd will admit they were. The rest of us understand what he was doing with his rhetoric over the last year, by saying things that amounted to charging that the United States is incapable of running a fair and honest election. But the question remains, does this amount to incitement?

There is a reason Congress has been careful in how it crafted the laws around incitement and the requirements that speech or actions must have before an incitement charge can be prosecuted. We cherish the First Amendment’s protections of political speech, even speech that seeks to offend as its principle aim. We’ve long accepted that restricting speech should only happen under the most extreme circumstances. Incitement – calling on others to cause harm – is one of those few exceptions.

Legally, incitement is defined as,

As used in this chapter, the term “to incite a riot”, or “to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on a riot”, includes, but is not limited to, urging or instigating other persons to riot, but shall not be deemed to mean the mere oral or written (1) advocacy of ideas or (2) expression of belief, not involving advocacy of any act or acts of violence or assertion of the rightness of, or the right to commit, any such act or acts.

18 US Code 2102, Paragraph b

What we need to focus on are the speech and conduct that are precluded as incitement. They amount to speech that promotes an idea or belief, unless that speech directly calls for violence. You can examine every statement made by the President relating to the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally prior to the event. While you will find things that may be distasteful and inflammatory, there is no direct call to violence. If you listen to his hour long speech at that rally, while he does call on his supporters to march to the Capitol Building, there is nothing in the speech that directly calls on them to engage in the conduct they did once they got there. You might infer that he wanted them to, but the reason inferences are not allowed as evidence is they are colored by your point-of-view. Additionally, judging an inference requires not your interpretation of the speech involved, but attempting to reconstruct someone else’s interpretation.

If the clearly stated legal bar for determining incitement isn’t enough for you, there is a boatload of case law that upholds this standard. Most important is Brandenburg v. Ohio, in which the Supreme Court held

Freedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.

395 US 444, Per Curiam opinion

Once again, there is nothing in the President’s speech that is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action.”

My personal opinion is that the President’s actions (and more importantly, inactions) after the violence started are reprehensible. Based on those, he would resign – or at least issue a mea culpa – if he had any honor. But based on the law, he is not guilty of “incitement of insurrection.” Once again, Congress has overreached and i̵s̵ ̵p̵r̵e̵p̵a̵r̵i̵n̵g̵ charged the President with a crime they cannot prove. If Congress was serious about attempting another impeachment, they could simply charge him with “Conduct Unbecoming A Federal Officer,” which is certainly a charge that can be proved. But this charge is likely to fail in the Senate for more than political reasons. Legally, it’s a false charge and Senators would more than understand that allowing this to proceed would damage First Amendment rights for all of us.

(note: as I was finishing this up, Congress did introduce a single Article of Impeachment, for “incitement of insurrection”)