Monday, July 30, 2018

Normalizing Has Already Crossed the Line

I know, in this day and age, tolerance and understanding is seen as a virtue above all else. There’s a line that can be crossed with this kind of thing.
That’s a quote from conservative video blogger Roaming Millennial, from a post about the recent movement to normalize pedophilia. Is that happening? Yes. She shares a video from Salon from a year ago, featuring a man who refers to himself as a “virtuous” pedophile—a person with a sexual preference, or orientation toward children who knows acting on it would be wrong, so he is a non-offending pedophile.

Roaming Millennial video blog post, screen shot

Then, more recently, there was another step: rebranding, she calls it. They prefer the term Minor Attracted Persons, or MAPs, instead of pedophiles, since pedophile is an emotionally charged word.

Meanwhile, I also came across a TedX video from a month ago that attempts to normalize pedophilia as just another sexual preference that wasn’t chosen. The student at the University of Würzbrug, Mirjam Heine, who gave the talk received so much negative response that she asked to have it removed, for her safety, although others have resurrected it to make sure it can’t be hidden. 

Mirjam Heine, controversial TedX talk at the Univeristy of Würzbrug
attempting to normalize pedophilia, screen shot

Here’s the transcript from a minute-long segment

It is in our responsibility to reflect and overcome our negative feelings about pedophiles, and to treat them with the same respect we treat other people with. We should accept that pedophiles are people who have not chosen their sexuality, and who, unlike most of us, will never be able to live it out freely, if they want to live an upright life. We should accept that pedophilia is a sexual preference, a thought, a feeling, and not an act. We should differentiate between child sexual abuse and pedophilia. We shouldn’t increase the suffering of pedophiles by excluding them, by blaming and mocking them. By doing that, we increase their isolation, and we increase the chance of child sexual abuse.
Roaming Millennial refers to the movement, rather than this particular talk or the uproar it caused. But she says some useful things in her post. Offering the point of view of those who want to normalize, she says,

Some people argued that by destigmatizing pedophilia as a condition, we could encourage those who suffer from it to seek help without the fear of being immediately shamed and ostracized for an attraction they don’t have control over. It was posited that by bringing pedophilia out of the shadows, so to speak, in a way we would have a better chance of controlling and monitoring it.
Which she says she wouldn’t argue with, except that, then they do the rebranding thing—using words that mean the same vile thing, but trying to make it sound like pedophilia is not inherently a bad thing. The non-supportive side (which she is on) has this point of view:

A lot of people were critical of Salon’s interest in this individual, since they believed it was an attempt to normalize pedophilia, to make it mainstream, to paint it as just this quirky preference that some people happen to have, instead of what it really is: a serious mental illness that could cripple lives and increase a person’s likelihood of being a child abuser. That was, I think, the overall consensus for most of us.
There are those who think only actions matter, not thoughts. I want to look at this a little closer later on. But she says,

Your thoughts do matter. And yes, even thinking about molesting a child, whether or not you go through with it, is something to be worried about, something you should really be getting help for. Think of it this way: if you’re someone who commits serial murders, that’s bad. We can all agree. But if you’re someone who merely fantasizes about mutilating and murdering people on a regular basis, that’s still not good. Sexualizing children, fantasizing about them in a sexual way—that is an immoral act in and of itself, something that you do need help with, that you should work on treating.
She has a good point, and I agree.

But there’s something that I look at differently from a millennial, because of my age and experience. It has to do with that line that we all agree shouldn’t and won’t be crossed. Because, as we’ve seen before, those lines do get crossed. And the movement she’s seeing in the past couple of years has been well underway since the 1990s,[i] and has been part of the “Gay Rights Platform” since 1972.[ii]
Because of her millennial perspective, she makes a point of separating the pedophilia normalization movement from the LGBT “community.” She says,

And, just to make sure everyone understands this, because this is important, this move by pedophiles to leach onto the LGBT community and their movement for equality and acceptance has not been well received by the LGBT community themselves. A lot of gay or trans activists want to make sure people know that pedophilia is not the same as a mutual consensual attraction between two adults, nor does it have anything to do with gender dysphoria or gender identity.
This all comes before the “there’s tolerance, but there’s a line” idea. So, repeating the quote I used at the top, this is how she ends the segment:

And, I know, in this day and age, tolerance and understanding is seen as a virtue above all else. There’s a line that can be crossed with this kind of thing. And I think it’s safe to say that that line is about a thousand miles down the road of actual literal pedophilia. Pedophilia acceptance isn’t going to happen. Stop trying to make it happen. 
I’m not disagreeing with her about the difference. I’m trying to understand something broader. She believes that the LGBT “community” is made up of wholesome,[iii] regular people who just happen to have a different orientation. Probably most millennials believe that. But a generation ago that wasn’t a common belief. There’s been a change in society’s perspective about orientation.

Is sexual orientation a thing you’re born with and can’t change? That is the general agreement. But there is zero scientific evidence that sexual orientation is genetically caused. While there may be some genetic component contributing to sexual orientation, if it were genetic, then all identical twins would have the same orientation, and that is not the case.[iv]

Also, the other question is, is it immutable? That is yet another bit of “common knowledge” that is not based on fact. While it is common for a person with same-sex attraction to maintain that orientation throughout life, thousands have changed. Not just one or two, but thousands. In the range of 20-30% or those who seek change therapy.[v] And then there are additional many who leave the lifestyle, or avoid the lifestyle completely. There are yet others who, while still feeling same-sex attraction, are also able to develop a heterosexual relationship and even have a happy marriage.

It is so politically incorrect to state these facts that it feels illegal. Persecution can be fierce and cruel. While my obscurity mostly keeps me safe, even in church circles where I assume most people agree with me, I have received vitriolic responses.

For the person who doesn’t want to suffer with same-sex attraction, there isn’t much opportunity for change therapy. Most of what is available comes from religious organizations and help groups of people who have faced the challenge with some success. But, after the political decision around 1970 to declare homosexuality to be just another healthy alternative, most research stopped, most therapy stopped, and therapists who offer help are threatened and risk losing their licenses.[vi]

So, here’s a question I have: Even though we all (we decent people) agree that pedophilia is a bad thing and should not be normalized or accepted, and activists should stop trying to make it so, I’ve lived long enough to know that Roaming Millennial might be wrong when she says, “pedophilia acceptance isn’t going to happen.” What happens if it is normalized? What if we are persuaded to believe it is simply an inborn, unchosen orientation, and those who have it might be just as healthy and normal as the rest of us (maybe still provided they don’t act on it, but no guarantees there), and those of us who nevertheless worry about them being around our children are punished and ostracized by society for our intolerance? And we’re forced to send our children to schools where they are indoctrinated with this new belief?

I have more questions. It’s going to take another post to try to explore them. So we’ll continue this discussion in a Part II.

[i] “A North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) representative stated: “The ultimate goal of the gay liberation movement is the achievement of sexual freedom for all—not just equal rights for lesbians and gay men, but also freedom of sexual expression for young people and children.” David Thorstand, “an/Boy Love and the America Gay Movement,” in “Male Intergenerational Intimacy: Historical, Socio-psychological and Legal Perspectives,” Journal of Homosexuality 20, 1-2 (1990): 255. This note comes from United Families International Guide to Family Issues: Sexual Orientation, 2013, p. 32. 
[ii] “The 1972 conference of National Coalition of Gay Organizations released a ‘Gay Rights Platform’ which had as a plank ‘Repeal of all laws governing the age of consent.’ The goal has not changed. . See also (Warning: sexually explicit)" This note comes from United Families International Guide to Family Issues: Sexual Orientation, 2013, p. 32.
[iii] “The homosexual activist strategy outlined in the book After the Ball (1989) included: 1) begin portraying homosexuals as ‘victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined by reflex to adopt the role of protector,’ 2) present homosexuals in the media as ‘wholesome and admirable by straight standards, and…indistinguishable from the straights we’d like to reach,’ 3) desensitize people to homosexual issues by inundating the media with GLBT messages, 4) convert people to the belief that ‘gayness’ is good. ‘…conversion of the average American’s emotions, mind, and will, through a planned psychological attack, in the form of propaganda fed to the nation via the media.’ Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen, After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90’s (Doubleday, 1989).” This note comes from United Families International Guide to Family Issues: Sexual Orientation, 2013, page 31. 
[iv] See, e.g., N.E. Whitehead, “The Importance of Twin Studies” available at .  For additional articles, see
[v] See, e.g., Joseph Nicolosi, A. Dean Byrd, Richard W. Potts, “Retrospective Self-Reports of Changes in Homosexual Orientation:  A Consumer Survey of Conversion Therapy Clients,” 86 Psychological Reports 1071, 1083 (June 2000).  Study concludes that “20%-30% of the participants [in voluntary conversion therapy] said they shifted from a homosexual orientation to an exclusively or almost exclusively heterosexual orientation,” belying any assertion that homosexual orientation is “immutable.”
[vi] See Mike Adams, “Of Mice and Mormons,” parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI, and VII. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

What Equality Means

Andrew Klavan was on Glenn Beck Wednesday morning, talking about socialism, which he’d talked about the day before on his podcast. So I went to listen to the Tuesday podcast to hear what got Glenn Beck’s attention.

He talks about the death of Europe—after so many problems have been solved by capitalism. He has a better long way of saying it, but socialism essentially comes in and eats the bread produced by the freedom of capitalism. It takes about 70 years. So the instigators—who might not have known the future—don’t see it play out in its full disastrous tyranny. They maybe should have followed the logic through, but they don’t. The next generation has to suffer.

There’s not much of a pass you can give to those who can see world history and should know better from that, even if they don’t follow the full logic through to its conclusion.

For example, Bernie Sanders was alive to know of the millions murdered by communist regimes in the Soviet Union, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, etc. In fact, Klavan talks quite a bit about Nicaragua 

Klavan reminds us of a clip of Bernie Sanders in 1985 where he said, “Yeah, some people say it’s bad when they have bread lines in communist countries. They say it’s bad, but it’s good, because other places they’re starving. They’re starving, but only rich people eat.” As Klavan says, “That was after his trip to Nicaragua. That was in praise of Daniel Ortega, this clown who is now murdering his own people as they protest his communist tyranny,” which Klavan spends a chunk of his broadcast recounting, since Ortega has been shooting up Catholic churches to stop protesters from finding sanctuary for speaking out against his regime, which was always and ever supported by America’s Democrats).(praising both CBS's and Fox News's Brett Baier, who have been covering events there. 

Klavan points out more about Bernie:

At no point did Bernie Sanders, who, as I say “honeymooned” in the Soviet Union, which is a gesture of support for a country that murdered tens of millions of its own people, starved its own people in the street in order to bring about the perfect socialist utopia...—at no point has he ever said, “Something is wrong with my philosophy.”
He shares clips of both Bernie Sanders and, the young socialist candidate whom he calls Bernie’s “mini-me,” Alexadria Ocasio-Cortez, talking about all the things that are “rights” that ought to be paid for by the top 1% of earners. Because, while the “right-wing” goal is to beat them, so they don’t impose socialism on us and bring us to ruin—as has happened everywhere it’s ever tried, the “left-wing” goal is “equality.”

What does that mean? Well, that brings his to Klavan's latest episode of the "Leftese Dictionary: E Is For Equality," a short summary, with some rather fun visuals, which I found later on YouTube, so I could see it instead of just hear it. The summary is worth putting up on a poster where every old and newly minted socialist can read it over and over. So please enjoy this bit of education:

Monday, July 23, 2018

Good Words

Sometimes when I look at what I’ve been randomly collecting in the Spherical Model quote file, I find a theme. That’s been happening lately. There’s something connecting what our Founders thought about government, and why it should be limited—and about the people, and why they must be virtuous.

I go on this great republican principle, that the people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom.”—James Madison (The Papers of James Madison, 11:163, June 20, 1788)
James Madison
portrait by John Vanderlyn
image from Wikipedia

“We must learn the principles of the Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers.”—Ezra Taft Benson

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined…[and] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce.—James Madison, Federalist Paper No. 45

[N]o bureaucratic judgment condemning a sincerely held religious belief as “irrational” or “offensive” will ever survive strict scrutiny under the First Amendment. In this country, the place of secular officials isn’t to sit in judgment of religious beliefs, but only to protect their free exercise.—Justice Neal Gorsuch, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. CADA opinion, 6-4-2018

[T]he framers of the Constitution probably assumed that religious freedom would establish religion as a watchdog over government, and believed that free churches would inevitably stand and speak against immoral and corrupt legislation. All churches not only have the right to speak out on public moral issues, but they have the solemn obligation to do so.—M. Russell Ballard, Ensign, October 1992

Sometimes the dues we pay to maintain integrity are pretty high, but
the ultimate cost of moral compromise is much higher.—Michael Josephson

Samuel Adams
Painting by John Singleton Copley
image from Wikipedia
"Here therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man."—Samuel Adams ("The Life of Samuel Adams," 1:22)

"How our governments need standards of integrity! How our communities need yardsticks to measure decency! How our neighborhoods need models of beauty and cleanliness! How our schools need continued encouragement and assistance to maintain high educational standards! Rather than spend time complaining about the direction in which these institutions are going, we need to exert our influence in shaping the right direction. A small effort by a few can result in so much good for all of mankind."—L. Tom Perry, Ensign, May 1988

"No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency."—George Washington (from his First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789)

The hand of Heaven appears to have led us on to be, perhaps, humble instruments and means in the great Providential dispensation which is completing. We have fled from the political Sodom; let us not look back, lest we perish and become a monument of infamy and derision to the world!—Samuel Adams, speech at Philadelphia state house, August 1, 1776

Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.—Thomas Paine, Common Sense

George Washington
portrait by Gilbert Stuart, 1795
image from Wikipedia
The power under the Constitution will always be in the people. It is entrusted for certain defined purposes and for a certain limited period to representatives of their own choosing; and whenever it is execised contrary to their interest, or not according to their wishes, their Servants can, and undoubtedly will, be recalled.—George Washington (in letter to Bushrod Washington, November 9, 1787)

“In every government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ of corruption and degeneracy, which cunning will discover, and wickedness insensibly open, cultivate, and improve. Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree…. The influence over government must be shared among all the people. If every individual which composes their mass participates of the ultimate authority, the government will be safe.”—Thomas Jefferson (The Works of Thomas Jefferson, P. L. Ford, 8:390-1)

Thursday, July 19, 2018


Some things are unknowable. Some things I just don’t know yet. Today I’m writing about something I don’t yet know enough about, but the news is getting on my nerves, so I just want to respond and be done with it.

This cartoon is a good start:

cartoon by Ted Rall

A friend reposted someone’s Facebook post, trying to inform all of us, because he read the entire 29-page report concerning the indictment of 12 Russians, which is a worthy goal. James Dunlap made his post public and shareable, but I do not know him or how reliable he is. That said, here’s part of his intro:

There is no way you can read the actual indictment and not conclude that 1) there WAS a RUSSIAN conspiracy, 2) that the scope of that conspiracy was GARGANTUAN, 3) that it was organized BY THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT [i.e., there's no way Putin didn't know about this], 4) That people connected to the Trump campaign [and, shockingly, other U.S. Gov't officials] WERE INVOLVED, and 5) this is just the beginning.
He goes through most of the Articles 1-79, skipping a few and combining some together. Much of the summary is probably accurate. And not surprising. The detail might be interesting and surprising to someone who wasn’t alive during the Cold War (I don’t know whether Dunlap was), but I’ve spent my life assuming Russia spies. And when the leader of their country formerly led the KGB, their spy organization, I think it’s a safe assumption that they still spy. And maybe they particularly spy on the United States.

cover image from here
I read a book back in 2014 called Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism, by Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, with Ronald J. Rychlak. Paceda was, at the time (maybe still) the highest-ranking defector ever from a hostile intelligence service. He claims that intelligence collection is secondary—or maybe tertiary—on the list of purposes for then-Soviet Bloc intelligence services. More accurately, they were about “framing,” which means,

rewriting history and manipulating records, documents, etc., to bring that about. To what end this dezinformatsiya? Oh, little matters like using press leaks to destroy the reputation of a national or religious leader, engendering the spread of anti-Semitism, building up resentment against the United States or Israel in the Arab world.
As Yuri Andropov put it, “[Dezinformatsiya is] like cocaine. If you sniff once or twice, it may not change your life. If you use it every day though, it will make you and addict—a different man.” In other words, if you’re believing the disinformation, and relying on news sources that fall for it, your perceptions of our country and our reality will change you. 

The book is full of examples, worth reading. One little sample. Do you remember, back in the Clinton presidency years, he referred to memories of black churches being burned?

No church burning had occurred in Arkansas during Clinton’s childhood, in spite of his “vivid and painful” memories, and the National Council of Churches was accused of fabricating “a great church-fire hoax.”[i]
His memory was false. He didn’t remember; he fell for stories planted by Soviet disinformation, and pictured them in his mind, so that he believed he’d seen them. The Soviets had planted that storyline, to create the idea that there was rampant racism in America. It worked. A few years afterward a survey of Canadian teenagers showed over 40 percent believed the United States was “evil,”[ii] and 57 of Greeks believed the US was no more democratic than Iraq.[iii]

Why do the Russians do it? According to Pacepa, it has to do with a contrast in ideologies:

The Communists had something between no ideology and a dysfunctional one. We have one that almost all Americans would sign on to: democracy, the rule of law, and America as, in Lincoln’s words, the “last, best hope of earth.” For most of us we also have our religion, generally Christianity or Judaism. This brought out for the Soviet Bloc, and brings out for our current enemies, a carefully targeted attack, or framing…
I highlighted this quote in the book:

The truth is, the Western media are quite easily manipulated, for they often craft their stories from press releases and tend, on the whole, to be indiscriminate about the nature and reliability of their sources.
So, when you hear something denigrating the United States, the first reaction ought to be questioning: What’s the original source? What is their evidence? Are their conclusions merited? How does the news source feel about the story and its conclusions? Is there a possibility that the story is false?

If Russia is connected in any direct or peripheral way (and maybe even if you can’t find that connection), chances are it’s disinformation. If you believe it, and it changes you to be less loyal to the freest nation in the history of the world, you’re letting the enemies of freedom win.

So, back to the Mueller report. The Russians are involved; is there anything surprising? Only that people in America are so surprised by it.

And there’s a particular part, among all the actual documents leaked to and disseminated by Wikileaks, concerning the Hillary campaign and the DNC colluding to defraud Bernie voters (all caps are his):

Article 44: The GRU, posing as "Guccifer 2.0" wrote to a person who was in regular contact with SENIOR MEMBERS OF THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN. (The indictment includes direct quotes of their online conversation, and this is CLEARLY referring to Roger Stone).
We learn in Article 1, by the way, that GRU means multiple intelligence units set up by the Russian government, two of which were specifically tasked with using hacking skills to acquire and release stolen documents via hacking. Anyway, about those all caps. The total connection—because, if there were more, Dunlap, as well as the report, would have said so—was that some disinformation spy wrote (emails?), not to SENIOR MEMBERS OF THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN, but to some unnamed person who knew those guys.

Here’s Article 44 in total:

The Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, also communicated with U.S. persons about the release of stolen documents. On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, “thank u for writing back… do u find anyt[h]ing interesting in the docs i posted?” On or about August 17, 2016, the Conspirators added, “please tell me if i can help u anyhow... it would be a great pleasure to me.” On or about September 9, 2016, the Conspirators, again posing as Guccifer 2.0, referred to a stolen DCCC document posted online and asked the person, “what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign.” The person responded, “[p]retty standard.”
Maybe a timing reminder is useful here, from a quick Wikipedia search. I’ve highlighted the dates:

The 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak is a collection of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails stolen by suspected Russian intelligence agency hackers and subsequently published (leaked) by DCLeaks in June and July 2016 and by WikiLeaks on July 22, 2016, during the 2016 Democratic National Convention. This collection included 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments from the DNC, the governing body of the United States' Democratic Party. The leak includes emails from seven key DNC staff members, and date from January 2015 to May 2016. The leaked contents, which suggested the party's leadership had worked to sabotage Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign, prompted the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz before the Democratic National Convention. After the convention, DNC CEO Amy Dacey, CFO Brad Marshall, and Communications Director Luis Miranda also resigned in the wake of the controversy.
So, a month or two after the information became public, this Russian spy contacted someone outside Trump’s campaign but familiar with campaign team members, and asked whether the documents were interesting. And then, a month later, the spy asked about turnout data, which, in the only response we see was “pretty standard.”

And that’s the only tangent that connects in any distant way with the campaign, let alone Donald Trump himself.

But the media buzz about the story makes it sound like Trump, during the campaign, colluded with Russia and committed treason—for possibly knowing people who might have been aware of information that got stolen and had already been released by Wikileaks—that no one denies is actual information concerning Clinton campaign and DNC corruption.

So, spelling this out, slowly, the Russians interfered in the election by revealing things that are true about corruption of Hillary and the DNC. And therefore Trump shouldn’t be president. Hmm.

I expect we’ll also learn that there were Russian attempts—but none successful—at hacking software related to voting machines. I’ve been following voting machine security pretty carefully here in Texas—where True the Vote started. So I’m not much worried here, as long as people follow the law. There are many protections against such attempts. I don’t know about other states. But the fact remains that, with all the investigations, there is no evidence that a single vote was changed by Russians, let alone the outcome of any election. The same cannot be said for Democrats, or obviously Hillary during the Democratic primary.

Let me attempt a Trump translation. I don’t mean to support him when he’s unsupportable. But the other day, in his response to this report, during his summit with Putin, he acted as if he didn’t believe the intelligence sources. As usual, I think he could have said things clearer and better. But I believe he’s not responding to the actual report and what it says—which he probably hadn’t yet read in detail. He had already, multiple times, supported and stated his belief in the investigation’s findings. What he was responding to was the media frenzy that equates “Russia attempted to meddle with our elections,” which is an “of course” statement not worthy of frenzy, to “Russia colluded with Trump and overturned our election, and therefore Trump’s presidency is illegitimate.”

Meme posted by Conservatives Today
I don’t know what outcome Russia wanted, among multiple outcomes: help Hillary win, but seem illegitimate; help Trump win, but seem illegitimate; create doubt in the American electoral system; create cynicism about America in general. Maybe try everything and enjoy whatever chaos or negativity fell out. Mission accomplished—without needing to fraudulently change a single vote.

What I’m wondering is, why can someone like Dunlap read that whole report and see—enough to use all caps—a Trump connection that is beyond tenuous. Does he totally miss the actual corruption of the Hillary campaign and the DNC? Is he unaware of the many pro-Russian connections of the Obama administration and the Clintons? Is he assuming that leaking their actual documents is disinformation but reporters in a frenzy about Trump is not? Why?

Let’s assume our enemies act like enemies, have acted that way in the past, and are likely to continue to act like enemies. Certainly include North Korea on that list. They’re also into hacking; South Korea—just the general business on the street—has more internet security than many large US corporations, because they face North Korean hacking attacks so regularly. 

Of course we should keep doing all we can to stop these spies and hackers. But we’re vulnerable. Not just to the hacking, but to the disinformation planted by our enemies, which is gleefully pushed as truth by our "easily manipulated" media. The more rabid your hatred of any person or party, the more susceptible you are to disinformation.

Truth is hard to find these days, but the search is still worth it.

[i] Scott Swett, “Fanning Imaginary Flames: A Look Back at the Great Church Fire Propaganda Campaign,” American Thinker, June 11, 2011.
[ii] Arthur Weinreb, “Poll: Over 40% of Canadian teens thin America is ‘evil’,” Canada Free Press, June 30, 2004.
[iii] “Grecian Formula for Anti-Americanism,” Wall Street Journal, February 7, 2003 (Internet edition).

Monday, July 16, 2018

Red Pills, Walking Away, and Truth Seeking

There are plenty of popular culture references that go over my head. Some of that is related to my age (a full generation beyond millennials). And some of it is related to my odd collection of interests, which frequently don’t align with popular culture. Sometimes something bubbles up to my consciousness nevertheless.

The red pill meme is one of these. I never saw The Matrix, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. Here’s the result:

red pill and blue pill
image from Wikipedia

The red pill and its opposite, the blue pill, are a popular cultural meme, a metaphor representing the choice between:
·         Knowledgefreedom, and the brutal truths of reality (red pill)
·         Securityhappiness and the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue pill)
The terms, popularized in science fiction culture, are derived from the 1999 film The Matrix. In the film, the main character Neo is offered the choice between a red pill and a blue pill by rebel leader Morpheus. The red pill would free him from the enslaving control of the machine-generated dream world and allow him to escape into the real world, but living the "truth of reality" is harsher and more difficult. On the other hand, the blue pill would lead him back to stay in the comfortable simulated reality of the Matrix.

This concept has come up in relation to yet another popular culture idea: the #WalkAway movement, which turning coming up repeatedly in my Facebook feed this past week, although it’s been going on since May. Here’s a brief summary from Erich Reimer last week at Townhall:

At now over 100,000 members in its Facebook group and widespread international media coverage, the #WalkAway movement of former Democrats telling their stories about why they left their party has resonated deeply with a core feeling currently in the American people.
Started by NYC hairstylist Brandon Straka in late May the movement has caught flame because it speaks to how the Democratic Party of today, where far-left sentiments ranging from universal socialist programs to demonizing our first responders and border control, to questioning the very goodness of America itself, are edging closer to gaining a seat at the table.
The original Brandon Straka video is about six minutes, and pretty powerful:

When I first looked up #WalkAway, in a Google search, there was something about it being a fake movement instigated by Russian bots. But that was dispelled by numerous short and long videos of actual people telling their own stories—something Russian bots, I’m assuming, could not produce. And several of them say so right in their videos: “Just so you know, I’m not a Russian bot.” Straka’s video is powerful, but also professional looking. These myriad others aren’t professional, slick videos. They’re homemade, sometimes rambling, but very real.

Scott Adams, of Dilbert cartoon fame, but also a thoughtful commentator on the culture, talked about the movement. At first he thought it must be the result of policy. It turns out the economy is doing better, or something else seems better than expected. If it were that, he said, he would assume it would pass fairly quickly. But once he watched Straka’s video, he realized it was something far more interesting. Straka didn’t walk away because of policy; he walked away because he realized he’d been lied to and manipulated.

Here’s Adams’ description:

I’ve also said that President Trump—I said this two years ago—would “punch a hole in the universe, or put a tear in the universe so that you could look through the hole and see reality for the first time.” Because we all walk around in this little bubble movie of our own making. And I said that he’s going to let you see reality—at least a little bit of it, not all of it, ‘cause we’re not able—but he would put a hole in your current bubble so you could just peek out and see what’s on the other side, and you’d say, “Holy cap! I’m in a bubble!” So really, the most you’re going to get out of this is the knowledge certain that you’ve been living in a bubble of truth that you created in your own head, as opposed to truth that exists in the universe.
And apparently that’s what happened to Brandon Straka, because here’s how he describes his thinking behind the walkaway. It wasn’t about policy. Here’s what it was about. He realized that the Democrats were using fear to manipulate people.
Scott Adams
screen shot from video
Adams points out that, while Trump uses fear to manipulate as well, it’s different. Trump points to people outside the country—real people, like ISIS and terrorists—with guns and weapons and hatred toward us. And on the border, while immigrants as a whole are a low-crime demographic, illegal aliens commit more crime than their percentage of the population. And MS-13 is real people who really kill people. Democrats, on the other hand, try to instill fear in their fellow citizens, and in particular this president—whom no one was afraid of before he ran.

Adams mentions the news coverage, journalists who “moved from an observer watchdog role to actual participants, trying to move the needle.” He says, “I would argue that close to 100% of the fear that people have about this president is based on non-objective coverage.” What if the president wasn’t portrayed as a crazy buffoon, ready to blow up the world, and take over in Hitlerian fashion? How would things look different with objective coverage, just of a person doing and saying things, maybe keeping campaign promises or not? What if they left out all fear-mongering?

As he summarizes, “So the Democrats, for their political benefit, have caused the entire left to be in physical and mental distress, for two years.”

That’s what this movement is reacting to.

Where it will lead depends on a few things: Whether these people walking away are going to move forward continuing to seek truth. And whether they’ll now accept those people who were previously demonized as their enemies. And, of course, whether they feel welcome and comfortable around the demonized others—us.

My guess is that they’ll find welcome. As with other things, hatred and other negatives among us has been greatly exaggerated. (See this piece by Ben Shapiro. And this piece by William Voegeli.)

Everyone being welcome what I’ve seen at local and state Republican Party meetings. I’ve taken photos from time to time of the perhaps surprising number of blacks among us—nearly the percentage in the population as a whole, even though something like 92% of the black demographic have voted reliably Democrat, so it's as if, if you're a black and conservative, you really need to get active in the party to feel supported. We get accused of hating them, but when they’re with us, they’re just part of us. And we’re not at all surprised by Hispanics among us, because they’ve always been a big part of our party, despite what you may have heard.

Here are some truths those walking away might find:

·         Democrats have never been in favor of doing away with racial bias; they want to use it to convince people they are victims and then pander to them for votes. Republicans fought against slavery, fought against Jim Crowe laws, and fought for equal rights.
·         Democrats have never been in favor of lifting everyone up; they use class envy to tear down and bring down the top so all suffer together. Republicans, by philosophy, let go of class envy and admire success, because that just means success is possible.
·         Democrats claim to be generous—but with taxpayer money. Republicans tend to be careful about taxing and spending (at least in theory), and in reality are a lot more generous in their charitable giving.
·         Democrats aren’t about tolerance; they are absolutely intolerant of anyone who doesn’t move lockstep with their beliefs; they are particularly intolerant of members of their “victim” groups who do not agree ideologically with the party line. Republicans are used to having to defend their beliefs, and, while you can find exceptions, most are willing to listen to differing opinions and discuss beliefs with true interest in what others think.
·         Liberalism has nothing to do with freedom or open-mindedness. Conservatism is actually classic liberalism—freedom from tyranny. That’s what we’re conserving. While we’re doing it, we can have interests in all kinds of food, culture, fashion, architecture, music, and entertainment. Conservatism isn’t stuffy and stifling; it’s about conserving our God-given rights to life, liberty, and property.
·         Progressivism has nothing to do with progress and much to do with regression. Real progress is what you get when you adhere to the principles that lead to freedom, prosperity, and civilization.
·         Socialism has nothing to do with being social, or being civilized, and much to do with submitting to tyranny and its associated savagery. To have a thriving civilization, you do, indeed, need a religious, and a strong support of marriage and family. But for those who are willing to live in ways that are decent and kind, but who haven’t discovered the connection between that kind of choice and belief in God, you’re still welcome among us. Civilized people are good at getting along in the playground.
If you want freedom, you need to walk away from tyranny and go upward toward freedom.

If you want prosperity, you need to walk away from poverty—or, put another way, walk away from a controlled economy and toward a free market, which has lifted more people out of poverty than any other concept in world history. You need the people who earn to be the decision-makers in how they spend their earnings. And, for those unable to earn and in real need, you need voluntary philanthropy to help them as needed.

If you want civilization, you need to walk away from savagery. As we say at the Spherical Model:

Civilized people live peaceably among their neighbors, helping rather than taking advantage of one another, abiding by laws enacted to protect property and safety—with honesty and honor. Civilized people live in peace with other civilized people; countries and cultures coexist in appreciation, without fear.
So, if the #WalkAway movement describes your journey, your awakening to truth, come join us in our real world movement toward freedom, prosperity, and civilization.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Two Sides of Law: Inside and Outside

There are two sides to everything, so they say. And there are two sides to the law: the inside and the outside. Or, law-abiding and law-rejecting.

What law are we talking about? The basic law of the nation, the Constitution. All federal laws are subject to the Constitution. It’s not long: 4440 words. The word meanings have not changed so much since it was written in 1787 (ratified in 1788 with the Bill of Rights attached as the first 10 Amendments).
image from here

In other words, a moderately educated citizen can understand it. It doesn’t require any special intelligence, skill, or training. It was understood by the people who voted, in their various states, to ratify it back 230 years ago.

When we’re looking at judges to make rulings in cases, there’s an inside and outside view of that too. Either we want a judge to understand the law and rule based on it, or we want a judge to rule based on something other than the law—his gut feeling, his ideology, his agreement with popular views, his sympathy toward some or against others.

This is something to keep in mind when we’re about to go through the approval process for a Supreme Court justice appointment.

There are going to be two sides in this process: those who want to make sure a judge is both capable of understanding the law and inclined to abide by it; and those who want a judge who agrees with their gut feelings, ideologies, views, and sympathies/biases.

You’ll be hearing that both sides are doing the same thing: trying to use the judiciary to promote their views, ideologies, etc. The liberals/progressives/leftists (choose your term) do it, and the conservatives do it.

But what are the conservatives conserving? The rule of law. The Constitution—and the better union it forms. How does the preamble put it?:

Establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.
What part of that do those who fear a Justice Kavanaugh so violently disapprove of? Or what do they want that is outside the Constitution, and want so badly that they insist that the Constitution’s list of values and its enumerated powers should be considered extremist, radical, and dangerous?

screen shot from Judge Kavanaugh's acceptance speech

Sometimes when there are two sides, there’s the good side and the bad side, the right and the wrong. This may be one of those times.

But you’ll be hearing a lot of things from the opposing sides. Here’s my prediction: Democrats/ socialists/ liberals/ leftists/ progressives will claim the nominee will be undermining the law. But their examples will be rulings of the Supreme Court that went their way but are known—and sometimes acknowledged by judges on their side—to be making stuff up that’s simply not in the Constitution.
Then you’ll hear from Republicans. Some will be talking about some of those particular bad rulings, and hoping they may get overturned (e.g., Roe v. Wade, Obamacare). But mostly they’ll be talking about wanting a judge who goes by the law.

One side genuinely seeks someone to uphold the law. And one side fears someone who upholds the law. Hmm.

Already my predictions are holding true.

Republican Senator Sen. Cory Gardner shared this example:

What we saw last night was, from many on the left, simply mindless partisanship. I’m going to read a press release that was sent out from one liberal organization: “In response to Donald Trump’s nomination of XX to the Supreme Court of the United States,” the following statement was released, “Trump’s announcement today is a death sentence.” Apparently nominee XX was a death sentence. It didn’t matter who he chose, who he selected, they would have opposed it simply because of mindless partisanship.
And it appears the usuals got the memo. Here’s Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer:

What the hard right, the Heritage Foundation that vetted the 25, has learned is that they could never get America to go along with what they believe. They could never get the Congress, even when it’s controlled by Republicans, to go along with what they believe. And so they use the one non-elected branch of government: Article III, the judiciary, to sneak people onto the court who will then decimate Americans’ healthcare. And we are going to force judge Kavanaugh to come clean. Will he protect preexisting conditions? Will he protect Medicaid? Will he protect Medicare? We’re not gonna let him hide behind this “I’ll respect existing law,” because we’ve been burnt too many times by Justice Roberts, by Justice Alito, by Justice Gorsuch, on case after case.
The irony of those who accuse their opposition of doing precisely what they themselves are guilty of!

I’m not exactly sure how Justice Roberts “burnt” him too many times on Obamacare. And I’m not sure why the Heritage Foundation isn’t just conservative or constitutional, but is “hard right.” Everything I’ve read and followed from the Heritage Foundation is about understanding and upholding the Constitution. It's not exactly a sketchy fringe group.

Portraying our country’s basic laws as extremist is a lie. Thatt’s also why it helps to use the Spherical Model, so you don’t get confused by left and right. Instead you can compare and contrast freedom/tyranny, prosperity/poverty, and civilization/savagery. Those of us who support the Constitution want freedom, prosperity, and civilization. Those who rage against the Constitution must want the opposites: tyranny, poverty, and savagery. And you only have to look at what happens where they get their way to know that truth.

Democrat Senator Patty Murray shows her place on the sphere too:

Unfortunately, in Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump has found exactly what he was looking for: someone who will put extreme right-wing ideology ahead of patients’ access to their healthcare. Judge Kavanaugh openly criticized Justice Roberts for saving the Affordable Care Act. And he suggested the DC circuit court should consider a claim that the law was unconstitutional using an argument his colleagues on the bench labeled a flawed misread of precedent.
I openly criticized Justice Roberts for his convoluted ruling on the ACA as well. I understand—enough to follow the train of thought, and some of his reasoning. But I was with Justice Scalia, in his dissent.

Perhaps sensing the dismal failure of its efforts to show that “established by the State” means “established by the State or the Federal Government,” the Court tries to palm off the pertinent statutory phrase as “inartful drafting.” This Court, however, has no free-floating power “to rescue Congress from its drafting errors.”
And this:

We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.
And also this:

This Court’s two decisions on the Act will surely be remembered through the years…. And the cases will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.
I'd say criticizing Justice Roberts on his King v. Burwell decision puts you in good company, if you’re the kind of person who favors the rule of law. So let’s see Sen. Murray’s shock for what it is: a partisan talking point.

screen shot from Judge Kavanaugh's speech at AEI
Another particular concern is the sacrificial sacrament of the savage belief system: abortion. Judges are careful—of necessity—about sharing their views on controversial topics that may come before their court, and much more so since the Robert Bork hearings, sabotaged by Democrats. So there isn’t much record of Brett Kavanaugh’s views on abortion. Except that, in a speech a year ago at the American Enterprise Institute, he mentioned Justice Rehnquist’s dissents in Roe v. Wade (which was a 7-2 decision) and, two decades later, the Planned Parenthood case. He was talking about Justice Rehnquist's efforts to uphold the Constitution against judicial activism: 

It is fair to say that Justice Rehnquist was not successful in convincing a majority of justices in the context of abortion, either in Roe itself or in the later cases, such as Casey…. But he was successful in stemming the general tide of free-wheeling judicial creation of unenumerated rights that were not rooted in the nation's history and tradition.
From this we’re supposed to assume he favors women dying in back-alley abortions? Oh, the horror! Actually, he doesn’t say anything except that he thought Rehnquist’s effort was to prevent creating law from the bench. So, if abortion were an actual right, those who favor it would have no fears from those who are bent on upholding the law.

And even if the Court should have the opportunity to rule on a case that would overturn Roe v. Wade—a possibility, since even Justice Ginsburg has agreed it was badly done—that would only send the issue back to the individual states, where the debate was playing out before the federal court’s interference.

If you favor upholding the Constitution, then Judge Kavanaugh’s acceptance speech offered some reassurances:

My judicial philosophy is straightforward. A judge must be independent, and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent….
I believe that an independent judiciary is the crown jewel of our constitutional republic. If confirmed by the Senate, I will keep an open mind in every case, and I will always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law
Republicans/conservatives (not always the same thing, but Republicans here are joining conservatives) are pleased with Kavanaugh mainly for his rule of law philosophy. Here are a few responses recorded by the Washington Post:

Sen. Mitch McConnell: The President really could not have done a better job of picking an extraordinarily well qualified nominee, somebody who’s clearly, over the years, tried to follow the law as it was written, and not tried to get the result you want to get.
Sen. John Cornyn: The reason why I think the left is so afraid of this nomination is because they view the judiciary as a policy-making arm of the federal government. We disagree. And we’re in good company with people like James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, and the Founders, who viewed the judiciary as what they called the least dangerous branch, because they aren’t the policy-making arm of the government; it’s Congress, and it’s the executive branch—that’s where policy needs to be made.
Sen. John Thune: One of the amazing things was that Democrats, who we expected would attack whoever the President nominated, some of them were actually out before he named the individual he was going to nominate, announcing their opposition. So, it’s pretty clear theirs is a knee-jerk reaction. As Senator Cornyn pointed out, Democrats have a view of the judiciary that’s very different.
I can’t say for certain that Brett Kavanaugh will be an excellent justice and a firm upholder of the Constitution. But those who have vetted him think he will, and I hope and pray they are right.

Because, when the law is the Constitution, and we uphold it and let the chips fall where they may, we all get more freedom, prosperity, and civilization. I’m looking forward to a Court that will actually lessen its own power and be law-abiding.