Thursday, January 16, 2020

South on the Sphere

On Tuesday of this week, James O’Keefe, with Project Veritas, released a recording of a Bernie Sanders campaign Iowa field organizer, Kyle Jurek. The paid employee may or may not directly reflect Sanders’ opinions, but he does reveal pretty clearly how tyrannists think.

And it gives us an opportunity to point out how much more useful the Spherical Model is to this “if you’re not a socialist who believes everything I believe, you must be a Nazi” model.

I’m transcribing a fair amount of the video, with profanity “bleeped,” and linking (here) so you can watch the whole two-minute video. But be warned, the language does not qualify as civilized. 

screen shot from here

Q: So, if Trump gets reelected, what...?
KJ: F*-ing cities burn.
Q: Do you even think that some of these, like, MAGA people could even be re-educated?
KJ: [laughter] I mean, we got to try. I mean, so, like, in Nazi Germany, after the fall of the Nazi Party, there was a s*-ton of the populous that was f*-ing nazified. And, like, Germany had to spend billions of dollars re-educating the f*-ing people to not be Nazis. Like, we’re probably going to have to do the same f*-ing thing here. That’s kind of what Bernie’s whole f*-ing like, “Hey, free education for everybody.” Because we’re going to have to teach you not to be a f*-ing Nazi.
There’s a reason Joseph Stalin had gulags, right? And, actually, gulags were a lot better than, like, what, like, the CIA has told us that they were. Like, people were actually paid a living wage in gulags. They had conjugal visits in gulags. Gulags were actually meant for, like, re-education.
The greatest way to break a billionaire of their, like, privilege, and their idea that they’re superior? Go and break rocks for 12 hours a day. You’re now a working-class person, and you’re going to f*-ing learn what that means, right?
Q: If Bernie doesn’t get the nomination or it goes to a second round at the DNC Convention…
KJ: F*-ing Milwaukee will burn.
It’ll start in Milwaukee, and when they f*-ing—and when the police push back on that, other cities will just f*-ing [explosion sound].
And if your speech is calling for the elimination of people based on race or gender or religious, like, for whatever reason, like, things that people can’t change, then you should expect a f*-ing violent reaction. And you deserve a violent reaction.
Be ready to be in Milwaukee for the DNC convention. We’re gonna make 1978 [1968] look like a f*-ing girl scout f*-ing cookout. The cops are gonna be the ones that are gonna be f*-ing beaten in Milwaukee.
screen shot from here

As of this morning, this guy is still a paid employee of the Bernie Sanders campaign, which means the Sanders Campaign does not categorically disavow his statements.

Much of the attention has been on the apparent call for violence. Yes, that’s bad. But I’m going to look at the worldview this guy has. It’s a tyrannist worldview. He believes that, by his own definition, he is in the right, so you need to either go along with him or be coerced to go along with him.

He’s seeing it as a difference between correct (him) and Nazi (everyone else). And he’s also using the rather typical left-right model of political ideas. He’s left—which he defines as moral—and anything “right” of him is therefore immoral right-wing extremist, or Nazi.

That is wrong in so many ways. All ways. The Spherical Model can help straighten this out.

Instead of a left-right line spectrum, the Spherical Model uses a three-dimensional view. Political ideas have polar opposites. Not leftist/rightist. Not communist/fascist. Instead it’s tyranny/freedom. We can put them on a sphere, with tyranny at the south pole and freedom at the north pole.

The Political Sphere of the Spherical Model

The lateral direction, east or west, is mostly neutral, depending on what level an issue belongs to: from local as furthest west, to state, region, nation, continent, to global as furthest east. It’s only a negative if too high a level tries to take control of what should be handled more locally, because that leads to lack of freedom.

The southern hemisphere can be divided, then, into chaotic tyranny in the west and statist tyranny in the east. Other differences in the southern hemisphere have to do with depth into tyranny—the control of other people. The more coercion, the further south, regardless of whether the coercion is done more locally or from a central government.

This guy, Kyle Jurek, is very deep south on the sphere. How do we know? There’s enough in this short video to tell.

He’s paid by the Bernie Sanders campaign. Bernie is an avowed socialist, who happily spent his honeymoon in the old Soviet Union and praised it. Socialism is far south on the Sphere. Examples: USSR, Nazi Germany, North Korea, Communist China, Cuba, Venezuela, and everywhere else communism/socialism has been imposed. Bernie puts the word “democratic” in front of socialism to make it seem somehow different or better than the real-life examples. But, remember, Hitler was duly elected in Nazi Germany, where Nazi meant the national German socialist party. Fascism is a flavor of tyranny not essentially different from any other totalitarian statist tyranny.

Jurek is very much into coercion. Re-education is—and has been used historically to mean—imprisonment, brainwashing, and physical and mental force to cow people into submissive behavior that looks like it does not disagree and fears expressing a dissenting thought. He says that’s what Bernie means by “free education for all.” Digest that.

image found here
Jurek downplays actual historical attempts at re-education—i.e., forced submission to the will of the tyranny—such as the gulags of Stalin, which he says were not so bad. He omits the fact that people were rounded up and imprisoned there without due process, without breaking actual laws. He brushes off the horrors that took place there, claiming that’s all simply CIA propaganda that we fell for, ignoring actual stories of people imprisoned in them, such as Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag ArchipelagoEighteen million people (far more than the billionaires, or even millionaires) were imprisoned in them, and 1.6 million died directly from their imprisonment. But people in gulags shouldn’t feel bad because, he says, they were “paid a living wage”—something they had been earning before their freedom was taken. And the government was generous enough to offer them conjugal visits—but would not permit them live their lives with spouse and family.

He repeats actual Bernie talking points—that equality is the goal, so money earned by successful people should be confiscated and given to unsuccessful people. He embellishes that idea with the fantasy of sticking-it-to-the-rich-guy by forcing him to break rocks for twelve hours a day, to take away his “privilege” and “sense of superiority”—an evil he is attributing to the person simply for having more money than others. Make that guy into a working-class man—because the assumption is that having money means the guy didn’t work for it.

This isn’t actually different from the approach of every other socialist takeover in history.

Fascism, Socialism, and Communism
are overlapping forms of tyranny.
There’s an interesting thing about being very deep south on the sphere: east and west are very close. So when he suggests using violence—a chaotic tyranny approach—that’s natural. It’s what revolutionary tyrants do. They create so much chaos, so much insecurity, that the populous will be desperate for stability and safety, and then the tyrants step in and say, “Let us solve that for you. All you have to do is give up your freedom and do everything we say.”

He’ll say he’s fighting for the underdog, because he says all the bad comes down on you only if “your speech is calling for the elimination of people based on race or gender or religio[n].” But here’s what I can guarantee you: any speech that disagrees with him is what he labels “calling for the elimination of people.” He lies about your hatred, while he despises you and works for your demise—comforting himself that you deserve the violence.

Socialism has never been about compassion for the downtrodden. It has always been about power.

In a country that was founded on principles that would prevent power-mongering—as much as adhering to a document could do—we need to make sure that people who believe what this Bernie Sanders campaign spokesperson believes never get anywhere near the reins of power. Their power can only lead to our rights—and actual people—being trampled.

And while this guy speaks pretty radically, and even Bernie wouldn’t say all of it out loud, I’d say every single one of the Democrat candidates for president is so used to thinking only as a southern hemisphere tyrannist that they don’t even know there’s a northern hemisphere where we find freedom, prosperity, and civilization.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Real Women Are Better Off with Truth

Write what you know, they say. Here’s something I know from experience: being a woman. I can’t say I know what all women experience, but I know the basics, plus my own experience.

And I want to say, to those “woke” people claiming that a man can be a woman—or that a woman can be a man, for that matter—are wrong. Offensively wrong.

What happens when a person goes through a so-called “transition” from male to female? They dress in stereotypical feminine ways—dresses, maybe sexy or maybe frilly. They put on makeup. They may take hormones or undergo surgeries to disguise the original body parts and produce the appearance of feminine ones.

Sometimes it’s a pretty effective disguise. Voice is still an issue, but some women have somewhat deep voices, so they might possibly be in the target range.

But is being a woman just a matter of “presenting” as a woman before the world?
Does it come down to clothes, makeup, and chemical and surgical castration, and that makes someone a woman?

As a real woman, I resent the very assertion.

There are so many things—and such a range of things—that come with being a real woman.

Me, with a couple of awesome real women.
We've been in each other's lives since freshman year of college.

There’s the physiological. There’s understanding what it means when your hormones affect your mood and behavior, and sometimes sabotage your otherwise capable self. There’s the preparation for producing offspring that begins at puberty—changing your shape, your interests, and your sense of calendar timing.

There’s the tremendous change that comes with pregnancy—with the miracle of growing a person inside you. There are the physical effects of that: nausea, tiredness, sinus congestion, discomfort, looser joints leading to difficulty walking near the end. Plus the thrill, fear, and anticipation of this permanent change to your life.

Then comes the actual birth. Women, when they get together, tell and compare their birth stories. I’m not certain I know why. It’s not to one-up one another; it’s to participate in the sisterhood of mothers. We share these life-changing stories.

No matter how unpleasant the pregnancy—and delivery—that new life in your arms is miraculously worth it. And this new little one teaches you something about love that you thought you understood before, but you realize you didn’t. It gives you a glimpse of the love of Heavenly Father for His children—all of us.

And there’s the psychological. No matter what you see about the terrors of having a house full of “littles,” messing things up, doing gross things, and upending your previous order—those little ones teach you how to be a better, more loving, more patient, more service-giving person. Without them, you might never become the person of your potential.

Me with a grandson 5 years ago
A woman understands how this person with a heartbeat that used to be inside her now moves through the world separate from her. And she understands what it is to see this young person grow into an adult, who will leave home and start a new family, hopefully. Which is both painful and beautifully satisfying.

A woman knows what it is to grow older, and focus less on appearance, more on being productive in other ways than producing new humans. She knows the mix of feelings surrounding losing fertility and moving beyond that time, including the new emotional upheaval of menopause, followed by something of a calm beyond that.

Let’s include women who never have children. Is she still a woman? Yes, of course. She might be infertile but will still have gone through all those physiological changes in preparation of the potential, which women’s bodies do.

And we include some women who aren’t loving mothers, or even good people. They’ll still understand things about being a woman that a man does not—cannot—comprehend.

Being a woman is a human thing—a very specific human thing. Different from being a man. That’s regardless of job choice, talents, tendencies toward being outgoing or introverted, logical or emotional, brainy or… not. Women cover the whole range of humanness—except everything that is specifically what a man is.

So, when a tiny fraction of humanity—around 3 per thousand people[i]—decides they want to be something that they simply are not, and closer to just 1 per thousand people who are male but want to claim they are female,[ii]  what does a real woman think about that? In today’s world, are we even allowed to have an opinion about that? In locker rooms and sports all over, real women are told to shut up about it. Suck it up. Suffer in humiliation. Be powerless.

Me with two more awesome real women.
We started a homeschool group together back in 2005.
Julie (left) has a book coming out soon and does a
podcast on grief recovery.
Here’s another thing about being a woman: We’re better off with truth. When speaking up about unfairness at the workplace. When speaking up about unwanted sexual interest anywhere. When speaking up about rape absolutely every time it occurs. When speaking up about males trying to take over women’s sports.

Women are better off with truth.

What about that tiny percentage of about one per thousand people who decides to claim they are a woman even though they were born male? Let’s try treating them with honesty. We can do that while also treating them with dignity. We can offer them sympathy for a mental disorder that isn’t being treated very logically by the medical and psychological communities. We can hope for better treatment for them—even expect that and pressure for it.

We can accept that they want to present themselves as something that they are not, and we can say, “You’re welcome to do that, as long as you do not require me to participate.” We don’t have to pretend that their “transition” is real. We don’t have to treat them to the portions of life that are reserved for women—out of respect for women—such as in locker rooms and in women’s sports.
We don’t have to lie and say they are an exception to the scientific fact that, if you are born male, you can’t be a woman.

We don’t have to use a pronoun that they demand—a part of speech that refers to a person generally in their absence in place of a name, for brevity or when the name may not be known. Why should anyone be allowed to control the way someone refers to them when they are absent or unknown?

We can speak up loudly and repeatedly that we will not allow this fraud to be perpetrated on children, and we can push for laws to protect children from the permanent damage this fraud has been subjecting them to.

We can expect them to respect our differences of belief.

And if they do not, we may have to get louder about how offensive this tiny minority has been toward real women. We have tolerated their offensive lies long enough, pretending they can reduce everything that we women are down to makeup, clothes, and outer appearance.

Women are much more than that. And telling the truth about that is better for us all.

[i] We’re using the whole population total of .3% transgender. Children are likely lower. See “The Search for the Best Estimate of the Transgender Population,” New York Times, June 9, 2015.
[ii] We’re assuming, for simplicity, that half of transgender individuals are males who present as females. So, of the 3 per thousand, that leaves 1.5, rounded down to the nearest whole person.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Red Umbrella and the Pedro Pan Children

I read a lot of youth novels, often because I volunteer at Scholastic Book warehouse sales, which I did just last month. They pay you in books. One of the books I picked up was The Red Umbrella, by Christina Gonzalez. It’s a look back in time to 1961, during Fidel Castro’s communist takeover of Cuba.

The story is told from the point of view of a 14-year-old Cuban girl, Lucía Álvarez, in an upper-middle-class family. Her father is a banker. She’s concerned with fashion, beginning to be interested in boys, and is planning her quinceañera ahead of her next birthday. She reads Seventeen magazine—in English, which she was required to study in school but doesn’t yet speak well. And she listens to Elvis records. She lives a happy life with her parents and 7-year-old brother.

Quite suddenly her life changes. And that change is a story our young people today need to hear.

Let’s start with the meaning of the umbrella. It’s bright. It’s noticeable in a crowd. Plus, it’s not very fashionable. Lucía tells her mother, “Just because you’ve had that umbrella forever doesn’t mean it’s the only one you can use, you know.” 

Her mother answers, “I like my umbrella. It’s the only one I’ve ever found that’s big enough to protect all of us from the rain.”

“But red is the color of the revolution.” I hoped this would make her reconsider.
Mamá stopped walking to look at me. “No, Lucía. The revolution may have taken over a lot of things, but it doesn’t own a color. For me, red is the symbol of strength, and that’s all it will ever represent.”
Strength and protection. Makes for a good symbol.

OK, now for the story.

Schools have been closed—private schools permanently, and government-run schools temporarily. It’s early summer. Some of Lucía’s friends are being recruited to join the brigades, and leave their homes for months at a time to “go teach and live in the mountains.” Since nothing exciting is happening around home, Lucía has been asking her parents if she can go on that adventure. She tries to convince them. “Thousands of kids my age and younger have joined the brigades. Their parents trust them.”

Her father vehemently says no:

“You think your mother and I enjoy saying no to you? We only want the best for you, to protect you. They don’t care about breaking up families. It’s actually what they want. To destroy the family so the only thing left is the revolution, just like Karl Marx suggested.”
At this point, the revolution seems distant, only an idea that people who are in tune to what’s up to date are doing. She can’t understand why her parents are so against it. Her parents are careful not to come out publicly against the revolution; they know that isn’t safe. But they do only whatever minimum is required. Her father identifies their CDR (Committee for the Defense of the Revolution) former friends as “glorified neighborhood spies,” which means they need to be careful around certain neighbors. Lucía is thinking,

I couldn’t believe how judgmental Papá was being. I’d read the newspapers and knew how much the revolution wanted to help people. It said that the factories had been closed because the owners were giving all their profits to foreigners and that the churches had been infiltrated by American sympathizers. Castro had no choice but to have the government take over many of the businesses so that there wouldn’t be so much corruption.
Lucía has a friend, Ivette, who goes to the “Jóvenes” (youth) meetings:

She said it was like walking into a kitchen after something had burned. At first, the odor almost knocks you over, but after a while, you forget there was ever a bad smell.
The government has started confiscating wealth. Her father brings some things home from the bank one day, from their safe-deposit box, and hides them, along with her mother’s jewelry, in a hole under a loose tile in the floor:

“Your mother’s ring, my father’s watch, everything.” Papá shook his head. “The idea is that all the wealth should be spread out. So they’re taking from those who have worked their entire lives, like us, keeping some of the money for themselves and then supposedly giving the rest to the poor. Isn’t that wonderful? I’ve worked since I was fifteen just so I can be as poor as the bum who never worked a day in his life. Welcome to Castro’s revolution!”
Lucía is beginning to wonder.

I’d read how the revolution wanted the working class to save their money. It was only the lazy rich who had to share with those who had less. So why was Papá so worried? We certainly weren’t rich. Plus, Papá had worked hard every day of his life, and although he wasn’t a fan of the revolution, he most definitely wasn’t an anti-revolutionary. No one could really fault him for trying to protect what was ours. Could they?
It’s notable how much indoctrination Lucía had already received from school and newspaper propaganda.

Shortly after this, Lucía is sent on an errand to the pharmacy because her little brother is sick with a fever. Doc Machado is late coming in that day, but his sister, Señora Garra, takes care of Lucía’s needs—including a bottle of nail polish that her mother was letting her buy in preparation of her first dance that coming Friday. On the way home, a girl from school warns her away from Central Avenue, because there were soldiers, and something was happening over there. “Just be careful.” But Lucía wasn’t paying attention, dreaming about the dance, and suddenly realizes she’d been walking down Central Avenue, her usually route home.

There weren’t solders. There wasn’t anyone. Something was wrong. She plans to cut through the city park up ahead and cross over to another street. But at the entrance to the park, she faces a horror.

There, from the oak tree on the corner, hung the body of Doc Machado!
This was a turning point. She had known Doc Machado. He was not a threat to anyone; he was a good man. She was now worried about her parents. They, in turn, were worried about the children.

More bad things happen. Police come and find the hiding place under the floor and confiscate all their wealth. The bank manager is removed, and Lucía’s father is given the position for a while—on the assumption that he will provide them with any information they want on people’s private accounts, which he won’t do. There’s more pressure to take all children from their families. Some children have even been sent to Russia.

Lucía’s parents start working to find a way to get the kids out of the country. The kids take it as they must, but it’s frightening. Lucía worries that America might be “a place full of hate and race riots like the Cuban newspapers described.” That isn’t what they encounter, of course.

Most of the book tells the story of their separation. The first destination is a camp in Miami, but girls and boys are in separate camps, across the road from each other, and her younger brother keeps sneaking out to be with her. A good supervisor there—who had known Lucía’s father—arranges for them to go together to a Catholic foster family, the Baxters, in Nebraska. They’re a kindly couple whose son is grown and living in Boston. They live modestly, on a farm in a relatively small town.

The children had to leave Cuba with very few possessions—a single bag each. And they aren’t equipped for winter. So the parishioners do a collection. Lucía tries not to be ungrateful, but,

I was going to be wearing hand-me-downs. Used clothing. I’d never had to do that before. We always bought the very latest fashions. Ivette would be mortified to see me wearing these clothes.
They are able to save up and make occasional phonecalls to their parents, and send letters, which are always subject to scrutiny by the Cuban government, so they can’t speak openly about conditions. Papá loses his job. He works doing odd jobs to provide an income, and Mamá also finds domestic work. Then Papá falls off a roof and is sent to a hospital, so there is much worry.

Near spring, about ten months after the family was separated, the parents tell the children that they have been able to get an exit visa—but for only the mother. Mamá insists she won’t leave, but the opportunity is not likely to come again, so the rest of them talk her into it.

The red umbrella comes up again at the reunion.

I’ve probably given too many spoilers already, but it’s a book worth reading—and worth getting young people to read.

It’s actually not very political. There’s only the young girl’s view of what she experienced—the change from freedom and prosperity to the loss of all that in her home country, and the eventual acceptance of her new home. She observes what happens to good people in Cuba. And she observes the changes in people who are essentially brainwashed by the revolutionaries—as she corresponds with her friend Yvette, who loses her former self completely. 

When Lucia realizes her childhood friendship with Yvette is over, she thinks,

My heart ached. I had wanted to go back to Cuba. To my parents. To my best friend. But that didn’t seem possible anymore. That Cuba, that friend, simply didn’t exist.
Operation Pedro Pan children, hoping
to immigrate to the US from Cuba
image from Wikipedia
Lucía has lost her old life in Cuba, the beautiful island nation that she loved. But at least she remembers the good life it had been. Yvette and others who give in to the revolution no longer remember the good; they’ve been taught to believe it was all bad.

In a time when young people don’t have the memories and experience to understand what Marxism does to a country—even with the example of Venezuela before our eyes—this child’s-eye-view might be enlightening.

Unlike many youth novels, most of the people in this story are kind and well-meaning. The Baxters aren’t secretly deviant, don’t have ulterior motives. Friends at school are accepting and genuine—and recognize the few mean people for what they are, as in any high school. The parents are neither domineering nor saccharine perfect. There’s a bonus glossary of Spanish terms at the back of the book, in case you didn’t understand any phrases through context.

The story is fiction, but it’s based on the experiences similar to the author’s family. Her grandparents had to make the heartbreaking decision to send their children alone to the US—which means her parents experienced being “Pedro Pan” children, as did her mother-in-law. As she says in the acknowledgments, “Because of their foresight, our family has become part of the American dream.”

Fifty-nine years have passed since that time, and Cuba still suffers. But it’s clear why Cuban Americans, especially, cherish the freedoms we’re guaranteed in our Constitution.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Sampling the Substitutes, Part II

Last post we were going over some of the things that showed up in radio broadcasts with substitutes during the holidays. There’s one more I wanted to cover. This is a second one by Steve Deace (pronounced Dace). He has his own program on The Blaze, but for two days he filled in on Glenn Beck's radio program. His Monday, December 30, was philosophical. But he has a background in campaign strategy. Because strategy is not my strong point, I’m interested when someone offers tactics that I can clearly understand. Chances are, in 2020 these are going to come in handy.

Tuesday, December 31, Steve Deace 

This is the day for tactics, called “Ten Commandments for Political Warfare.” Deace has written these in a book called Rules for Patriots, as an antidote to Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. Deace doesn’t believe we should be using the opposition’s tactics, which require a fair amount of deception and just plain evil. He’s not worried about sharing his strategies openly. He’s certain that these positive ideas won’t work for them opposition, because they preclude relativism.

As he says, we conservatives need to know what we believe. And then we need to know how to conserve those things. Tactics help us do that.

He spent the entire first hour on rule 1.

1.       Never trust Republicrats.

He’s referring to those who are actually uncomfortable with conservative principles—saying what they have to to get elected, and then getting away with being like the rest of Washington once they get there. The way to tell is by which hills a person is willing to die on. He gives the “liberty score,” taken from the last 50 votes taken, of various legislators. These include people who sometimes get praised as conservative heroes: Devon Nunes 33%.  Lindsay Graham 30%.  Elise Stefanik 24% (not even for tax cuts).  Doug Collins 48% (in deep red Georgia). Some Republicans elected in deep blue districts vote as they would if they were Democrat—more than 90% of the time. These are enemies within the gates. I think we're allowed to praise them when we conservatives approve of what they do, but don't be fooled into trusting them to regularly do what we would approve of.
2.       Never attack what you’re not willing to kill.  

Example was Donald Trump,Jr. on The View recently. It’s hard to do. But if you’re going to take the hit anyway, then don’t be gentle. They’re going to treat you like the Covington kids anyway, so why be nice in hopes of avoiding getting hit? Go ahead and lay waste. With truth and reason of course.
3.       Never accept the premise of your opponent’s argument.

Never means never. Fear of getting banned on social media is real, but don’t give in. There’s an example headline from RedState recently—"A Lesbian Couple Identifying as Neither a Straight Nor Gay Couple Has a 'Miracle Baby'—With the Sperm of a Man Identifying as a Woman, Thanks to a Transgender Doctor." Not biologically possible, so why pretend? To translate, a woman pretending to be a man got a sperm donation from a man pretending to be a woman, and then gave birth not exactly miraculously. If you verbalize your opponent’s talking points, you help promote them. Whoever’s premise is accepted in an argument always wins. Just go, “I’m not using your talking points. You wouldn’t use mine. Why would I use yours?” Don’t use the word “abortion”; say “baby killing.” Don’t use their terms.  Why sanitize for them? (I still frequently use the clinical term abortion, and sometimes say baby killing. But I do not use the term pro-choice, which is so inaccurate that it is simply a lie.)
4.       Never surrender the moral high ground.

Again, never means never.  Example: Obamacare debate, the most anti-constitutional policy in American history. Not just unconstitutional, but anti-constitutional—intentionally attempting to undermine. Republican politicians didn’t argue the wrongness; they argued, “We can’t afford that.” So, it would have been OK if we’d had a budget surplus?  We’ve suffered from decade(s) of being conditioned to think everything’s doable by government if it’s just expedient enough. Republicans missed an opportunity by playing “nice” when courts ruled against late-term abortion, or baby killing, based on cruelty to the baby. If it’s a baby, why didn’t we go ahead and at least ban all abortions after 20 weeks like all but seven other nations have done? Clue: If France is to your right on something, you’re wrong.
5.       Reverse the premise of your opponent’s argument and use it against him.

Ronald Reagan offered many examples. Asked if he was to blame for nation’s economic misery, before his reforms made the difference, he said, “Well, you’re right. I used to be a Democrat, so I do share some of the blame.” When confronted on the campaign about his age, he said he wouldn’t use his opponent’s youth and inexperience against him. Hoist them from their own petard. This is especially when done with humor or winsomeness. How to use it: When they say the only reason you dislike Obama’s policies is that you’re racist? Hold them to their own premise: The only reason Detroit doesn’t allow school choice, or that we had more on food stamps under Obama than the total population of Spain, then, it's because you’re a racist. Make the other side live by standards they force you onto you.
6.       Never abandon your base unless they’re morally wrong. 

Even the Republicrats believe this. In 2016 the base cared about judges. Those who cared about getting conservative judges voted for Trump by 16+ points. If we had let Obama seat Antonin Scalia’s successor, all the base would have been lost. So the Senate  had to fight Merrick Garland. Trump doesn’t abandon his base. He won’t throw you under the bus on an issue you care about. This demonstrates how powerful you are, even with a Republican hierarchy that hates you; they have to do what is important to their base.
7.       Define your opponent before they define themselves, and define yourself before your opponent defines you. 

Example: the word “liberal” was annihilated—by Reagan, then Bush in 1988. That’s why the opposition uses the term “progressive” now. Liberal is still used in conservative media, though. Glenn Beck transitioned early to talking about Wilsonian progressives and Fabian socialists. Deace uses the term leftist (which, if you’ve read anything about the Spherical Model, you’ll understand why I don’t go with that). There may be a lot of “liberals” among our friends and family, but none in Washington. The opponents change the language. And they use the full coercive power of government to compel you. That’s who they are, so let that be known.
Steve Deace
image from

8.       Always make your opponent defend their record and belief system.

Example: During his presidential campaign, Rand Paul insisted that personhood begins at conception, and used phrases from the Constitution to support the rights of persons: “No person shall be denied…” “Equal protection for all persons under the law.” He was attacked by Debbie Wasserman Schultz with a question about when a zygote becomes a person. He answered, essentially, “I’ll answer your question about zygotes if you answer when you considered the children you carried to term to be children.” A couple of reporters actually asked her that question. She couldn’t get out of that fast enough. Christians—we should always have a reason (apologia) for what we believe. That doesn’t mean to always be on the defensive. Having a defense is not the same as letting yourself get cornered.  When they say, “That’s offensive,” say, “The truth is often offensive.” Do not feel like you have to constantly be the one on the witness stand. Make them defend what they believe, at least for a change.
9.       Stay on message.

When you have a winning message, play the hits. This is not the time to play your new stuff. When you go to see Elton John in concert, you want to hear some “Tiny Dancer,” some “Candle in the Wind.”
10.   Play offense.

Nothing inspires your base more than that.
As Deace says in closing on New Year’s Eve, “2020 is going to be nuts. You need to be equipped for it.”

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Sampling the Substitutes, Part I

Over the holidays many of my favorite radio shows and podcasters take a break. It’s good to take a break from the daily news. A podcast can simply not provide content until they decide to. But radio shows can’t leave dead air. So they get substitutes to fill in. Often these are less well-known broadcasters, people who are thrilled to have a chance to have a larger audience. So they might be putting forth their best work—which they have a chance to do, because the news onslaught tends to be less intense during holidays.

I was listening to the substitutes on the Glenn Beck radio program, which had some valuable information. So I’m sharing some of what they said. I'm covering three programs, and I pictured it as just some quick lists, but when I included some commentary on each one, it went long. So I’ll cover two of the days today and save the third for a part II.

Mike Broomhead
image from his Facebook page
Monday, December 23, Mike Broomhead

On the Monday before Christmas the substitute was Mike Broomhead, who has a radio show in Phoenix, Arizona. He spent the beginning ten minutes of the second hour (from 39:58 on the recording) listing the data on the economy. I’ll do it in list form.

·         Stock Market: The Dow Jones has added of 10,000 points since Trump was inaugurated. The Dow, the NASDAQ, the S&P, the three big indicators, have all touched and/or set records this month.
·         Employment: The lowest unemployment rate in 54 or 55 years.
o   Highest number of Americans employed.
o   Lowest black unemployment since statistics have been kept.
o   Lowest Hispanic unemployment since statistics have been kept.
o   60% of jobs created during this administration have gone to women.
·         Income Growth: People’s incomes growing faster now than in decades.
o   Low inflation means raises don’t just keep up with standard of living, but people are actually living better.
o   Lowest earners have seen the greatest growth.
o   All demographics of Americans are better off.
·         Consumer Confidence: These two indicators are both positive, which they haven’t been in decades:
o   “Are you better off this year than you were last year?” Yes.
o   “Do you believe you will be better off next year than you are this year?” Yes.
o   Travel over Thanksgiving was the highest in decades, or forever. True also for Christmas holiday travel.
o   Gift giving and spending up. People are willing to risk using a credit card, because they believe their job is secure.
o   Working-class Americans notice a huge difference when inflation stays low and they have more discretionary income.
·         Tax Cuts Working: The US Treasury is collecting more income tax dollars from individuals and businesses now than ever in the history of America—even when adjusted for inflation.
o   That means deficits are definitely due to a spending problem, not a “not enough taxes” problem.
The odd thing is that many Americans don’t seem to be cheering about all this good news.  As Broomhead says,

I live in a desert. I live in Phoenix, Arizona. There’s a time of year we call monsoon season when the rains come. People dance in the streets when it rains here, because of the long spans without rain. When it rains, it’s a joyous experience.
We should be overjoyed with the rain right now. We had so much of an economic drought, and climbing out of a recession, businesses scraping by and not thriving. And now businesses big and small are thriving, and individuals are thriving as well. As a nation we should be overjoyed.
The only explanation for the lack of celebration is disdain for President Trump. If the opposition allows people to notice that they’re better off, he’ll get reelected. But it’s hard to deny this vindication of what we conservatives have been saying all along:

We have now shown that, when the government gets out of the way, the lives of people improve. They do it themselves. All this president did was unleash the job creators, and look what it’s done.

Monday, December 30, Steve Deace

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Steve Deace (pronounce Dace) has a program on The Blaze. He filled in for Glenn Beck for two days, and I’m going to cover both of them (one in the next post). Both include lists. This first one is philosophical. The second one is tactical. Both refer to books he’s written.

Philosophy day covered "The Seven Deadly Worldviews," and refers to his book The Nefarious Plot. These seven worldviews, he says, go in order to devolve a civilization. They are summarized in an article in The Christian Post, so, for simplicity I’m using the definitions from that article for each of the seven. Then for each one there’s Deace’s commentary, plus a bit of mine.

1.       Gnosticism: The rejection of God's Word as not sufficient for us to know our true purpose or for life to have its ultimate meaning. The seeking of extra or special knowledge elsewhere other than God himself.
·   There’s a preference for experts, to make people believe that knowledge they need is hidden to them, and only the special few have it. Then there’s a search, not for actual truth, but for something to make the searcher feel elite.
2.       Legalism: A religious system that puts more emphasis on works based righteous than the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
·   This is feeling superior because of behavioral rules you adhere to and impose on others. There’s no acceptance of contrarians, or heresies from what the rule setters impose.
3.       Dualism: The belief that good and evil are equal in power and essentially two sides of the same coin.
·   An example of this came up in a review I read about the latest Star Wars movie, but covering the whole three-trilogy series. Particularly in episodes 1-3 there’s this pseudo-scientific way of looking at good and evil, with measurements of Midi-Chlorians. There’s talk about there needing to be a balance in the force. But that is never the goal. Neither the dark side nor the light side seeks balance, but dominance. There is no satisfaction in getting to the point in the battle where you say, “We’ve done enough winning; lets let the dark side win for a bit to create balance.” Light always needs to vanquish the dark. The odd thing about this worldview is that it’s so close. No. Anywhere you turn on a light, darkness is vanquished. Good is much more powerful than evil, so it’s always better to choose good over evil.
4.       Darwinism: The belief the universe is the result of random chance occurring completely in the natural world and not the purposeful plan of a creative and sovereign God.
·   Darwinism is not equivalent to evolution. Darwinism reduces humans to animal status. It is nihilistic. There’s no meaning, no purpose in life. This worldview paves the way for eugenics and racism. The Twentieth Century was Darwin’s century. His “scientism” was used by Margaret Sanger (of Planned Parenthood) and the Nazis to murder massive numbers of human beings.
·   There’s a piece I wrote in 2011 that compares treating people as “meat machine” or a human being. 
5.       Pragmatism: A utilitarian ideology that says something can only be true if the practical consequences of accepting it satisfies our needs, desires and wants.
·   The most common summary is “The ends justify the means.” The wrong questions are asked, so the answer comes out wrong. For example, “Why should Mother Teresa be helping people who were put into their miserable circumstances for some karmic reason?” And, as Margaret Sanger would say, “It’s cruel to bring an unwanted child into the world,” so you should kill them before they’re born.
6.       Syncretism: The blending of two or more distinct belief systems for the purpose of creating a new system.
·   A more understandable term might be relativism. People choose their truth. They incorporate any useful belief into their own belief system. They offer fake tolerance; they get to judge you all they want, but don’t allow you to judge them. But in reality, two opposing, contrary views cannot both be simultaneously true. Our founders cracked the code on living peaceably with those that have differing beliefs—holding strong to your own Judeo-Christian beliefs while respecting the differing beliefs of others, but not accepting and taking on the differing beliefs.
7.       Secular Humanism: A belief system that rejects virtually every single principle of God's Word.
·   The seeds for this final deadly worldview have already been sown. It’s the endgame of a culture. We need to worship; there’s never been a longstanding secular culture. The Soviets ended up making government their god—and that is the typical move of secular humanists all over. Note that enlightenment thinkers were supporters of the slave trade, and then of eugenics. Clues: if your culture is doing baby killing, they’re worshiping a pagan god, as anthropology shows us every culture has done. You either worship the true and living God, or you make a god such as government to worship, or you make yourself as god.
The final words on the show were:

We live in a nation where we are first and foremost accountable to God. We know what secular humanism will bring. It’s revival or bust.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Hero Stories and the Latest Star Wars Movie

There are only so many story plots in the world. Very limited. I have one book that puts the number at 36, 8 of which are anachronistic now[i]. There are just a couple of those that involve a hero sacrificing for a greater good. But we actually see that story fairly often.

Last week Mr. Spherical Model and I went to see the latest Star Wars movie, The Rise of Skywalker. I’m about to do something of a review—trying to avoid spoilers, but be forewarned nevertheless.

movie poster
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About halfway through, a light came on for me. Suddenly I understood, on a larger scale, what story was being told. It’s what I’ll call The Hero’s Story. The list includes Harry Potter; The Hobbit; The Lord of the Rings trilogy; Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight series, Mistborn trilogy, and Steelheart trilogy; the Eragon series; How to Train Your Dragon; The Ranger’s Apprentice series; and a great many others in the sci-fi and fantasy genres, especially. There are some elements you can expect:

·        There’s the hero, who starts out as little known or cared about. Possibly an orphan. Parentage possibly unknown.
·        The undeveloped hero discovers a special skill or power.
·        The hero goes through a development or training process, usually with a mentor or trainer.
·        The hero’s special skill or power develops beyond what one would normally expect, often surpassing expectations—or even abilities—of the mentor or trainer.
·        Nevertheless, the hero doubts himself/herself. Often this is related to learning about parentage and wondering whether heritage is destiny.
·        The hero may even give up temporarily, but will return to use his/her special skills in an epic battle for the sake of all the other people depending on him/her.
·        There may be a parallel anti-hero story—a similar character with similar skills, who is on the side of evil.
·        The hero wins against the otherwise undefeatable adversary. This may require significant sacrifices—and possibly his/her own life, although more likely the loss of someone close to the hero. But the hero must win or the story fails to meet the contract between the writer and the reader. In the battle between good and evil, good always wins.
How does this fit in Star Wars? In the original trilogy (episodes 4-6), Luke was the insignificant orphan. He is mentored and trained in The Force by Obi-Wan Kenobi. He starts out pretty ragged, but gets better. He uses the force at the end of the first movie to destroy the death star.

A lot of the training goes on in The Empire Strikes Back (maybe still the best—at least of that trilogy) by Yoda. He leaves for a while, frustrated in his lack of progress, and distracted by the need to take action elsewhere. At the end of that movie, he learns that he is the son of the arch villain Darth Vader. Back before all details could be leaked on the internet, that was truly a stunning moment in the theater.

In Return of the Jedi, Luke is a force to be reckoned with. Only he has the power to take on the evil emperor and Darth Vader—the essential meta-battle going on while the military battle takes place outside.

There’s another element we’ll see repeated: Luke sees some good in Darth Vader, his father. Instead of simply hating the evil and fighting it—or giving in to join it, which would make the story not even worth telling—he invites the evil villain to give up his evil ways and join forces for good.

I saw this element as not very believable in that original trilogy. And if we’d seen, at that point, the killing of the children that Anakin Skywalker, AKA Darth Vader, did in the second trilogy (episodes 1-3), it would have seemed even more implausible.

And yet, we see this possibility of redemption come up again in The Rise of Skywalker. This time—because we’d seen Kylo Ren murder his father, our beloved Han Solo, I did not see it as even a remote possibility. And yet it’s a valuable part of the story, approached rather believably I thought. (I hope I’m not telling too much here—not saying what the result is.)

one of the duels between Kylo Ren (left) and Rey
Disney/Lucasfilm image found here

In both Darth Vader and Kylo Ren, the story includes their succumbing to the dark side because they saw it as inevitable; they did not believe they had the strength to resist, so they bought into the idea that attaching themselves to the bad guys is the necessary choice—and not really a matter of choice. But it is a matter of weakness. And this is an idea worth exploring further sometime, when we’re using the story to understand evil in our own world.

Anyway, each individual Star Wars movie, if it’s going to work, is going to be its own hero story, or an obvious part of a larger hero story, as in the cliffhanger ending of The Empire Strikes Back.

In the newest trilogy, Rey is the unknown hero this time. She’s an insignificant orphan, making a living as a scavenger when we first meet her. She learns of her powers in the first movie—and uses them against a much more trained adversary, and wins that first battle.

In the second movie, The Last Jedi, Luke is her mentor/trainer. At the beginning of The Rise of Skywalker, Leia is her mentor/trainer. We can see that Rey is extremely skilled. Still, she is frustrated at her lack of progress—and she’s worried about her destiny, because she has discovered her heritage. (I won’t mention it here, but apparently those who speculated that having her and Finn be actual nobodies was not really the point of the second movie.)

This question about destiny came up in the Harry Potter series—where you see a lot of these hero story elements. While his parents are mostly heroic martyrs to the cause against evil, he has the elements about himself that concern him. He speaks Parseltongue—the language of snakes—which identifies him as Slytherin-like, and therefore likely to choose the dark side. Fortunately, his mentor, Dumbledore, advises him that who we are isn’t determined by some destiny we have no control over; it is determined by the choices we make.

Eventually Rey realizes that her choices do indeed matter more than her bloodline.

You know going in that she will win the final battle against the ultimate evil. That is giving nothing away. It’s the getting there that is interesting.

I’m interested in hero stories, because, in a world where truth and goodness—even reality—have been made relative, it’s harder for a younger generation to understand meaning and purpose. They long to be important—to be a hero in their own story. Failing to find that in work or other pursuits, they might spend endless hours experiencing a hero’s success in a computer gaming world. (I wrote about this here.)

Being the hero in our own story is actually important for all of us. We need to know our purpose. We need to find meaning in our lives.

Our life mission and our special power or skill will be related. Sometimes we learn our mission by noticing our developing skills. Sometimes it’s the other way around; we develop the skills we need in order to meet our mission. We find meaning in our life when our unique contribution and mission meet.

I’m going to take one tangent here, in this partial movie review. It’s about the actor who plays Kylo Ren. I’ve seen Adam Driver in other things (I recommend Silence, in which he plays a missionary to Japan several centuries ago). I respect him as an actor. But I’m puzzled at making him the “leading man” possible love interest of Rey. He isn’t an attractive person. I remember being shocked the first time he took his helmet off in The Force Awakens—a helmet he didn’t need, as Darth Vader had needed his; it’s just a personal prop. That first view was surprisingly disappointing. This was the son of Leia and Han? Really? Were we supposed to see him as attractive, and I just didn’t happen to? There’s always that possibility, because of taste differences, and my being in an older generation.

Fortunately, when son Economic Sphere and his wife came for Christmas, they had already seen the movie, so we could discuss freely. Mrs. Economic Sphere, suggests that this was purposeful. Kylo Ren was always intended to be inferior. She may be right. He’s undisciplined. His anger gets out of hand with various tantrums in The Force Awakens. In all of this trilogy, there are rivals not quite willing to accept his leadership, where there really weren’t any to Darth Vader in the earlier trilogy. He seems to idolize his grandfather but can never measure up to his stature, although his size and build are probably adequate.

He also seems to miss the fact that his grandfather joined Luke against the emperor at the end of Return of the Jedi. And my very observant DIL also noted that Kylo Ren probably got swindled when he acquired that Darth Vader helmet he reveres. Remember, the face and helmet were separate parts, as we saw just before Darth Vader’s death-after-redemption. On the funeral pyre he’s not wearing the helmet. And yet, what Kylo Ren has is a battered—presumably because of the funeral pyre—helmet attached to face part. DIL concludes it must be a fraud.

There’s a Studio C skit that emphasizes the sniveling weakness of Kylo Ren, called out by Rey, included below. Worth watching for a chuckle.

Anyway, while this might not be my favorite Star Wars movie (I still prefer The Empire Strikes Back, and the non-trilogy prequel Rogue One is probably in second place), the good guys win—with some sacrifice along the way, but still very decisively, as it should be. And it’s a fun and interesting ride getting there.

Speaking of riding, Finn gets a great scene in which the bad guy controllers can’t shut down the speeders, because Finn and crew are not riding speeders. Fun moment to watch for.

Also, let’s note for the sake of the real world, the central controllers are the bad guys. Enough said about that for now.

[i] The 36 are listed in the appendix of Theme and Strategy by Ronald Tobias, Writer’s Digest Books, © 1989. The Hero’s Story, as I describe it, is from my own understanding and reading experience.