Thursday, March 23, 2023

Real Parental Choice in Education

Whose responsibility is it to educate the children of the rising generation? The parents. That is the most local level—the family, the basic unit of civilization.

It is not the responsibility of the state, and certainly not of the nation. It is not even the responsibility of the school district. Letting those other levels grasp responsibility has caused the problems our schools are in.

Let’s start with making sure we're talking about the same thing. What is the finished product when we educate a child?

Aristotle says we educate a person to produce a great soul. That’s still pretty vague. Joe Harless, in his book The Eden Conspiracy, is a bit more specific. He says we are producing an accomplished citizen. We should teach the knowledge, skills, and information relevant to becoming accomplished members of society. The attributes of such a person include:

             Being obedient to the law.

             Making informed voting decisions.

             Contributing to stability.

             Resolving interpersonal conflict.

             Contributing to community improvement.

These are what an accomplished member of society does regardless of how that person makes a living.

Do we need to teach ways to make a living? Yes, but that is incidental. What we’re doing is providing the knowledge, skills, and information a good citizen will need in order to work out their own way to make a living that sustains themselves by making a contribution of worth to someone willing to pay for it.

So producing that civilized person, that contributing member of society, is the mission. That is the mission of the parents.


Back in 2008 a bunch of us homeschoolers put on Shakespeare's
A Midsummer Night's Dream, in a park. We did a Shakespear play annually.

But what options—parent choices—are available to do that? In theory, the choices today are wide open. Information is everywhere. Much of it is free. You could guide your child through a series of elementary through high school-level learning with resources available for free or very low cost. Excellent resources. Better than you got when you were a student.

You could even guide your child through college level learning through online mostly free resources. You can give them great opportunities for learning, if you and the child are willing to put in the effort. You can do everything but give them the college diploma.

In reality, however, there is a monopoly. It is the public school system, controlled by the teachers’ unions, which are about making money for the teachers’ unions, not about improving teaching for teachers, and certainly not for improving the education of students.

There are a couple of basic things in the way of breaking free from the monopoly: availability of the parent, and money. And they are related. If a family can make enough money while allowing at least one of the parents to be with the student, overseeing the education, then total homeschooling is an option. But it is very difficult to homeschool while committing an eight-hour day to an employer—even working from home. You can’t sit down to do math with your child while you’re writing a report for your boss.

And private school is expensive, while public school is “free.” It isn’t really “free,” though. That has always been a trap.

The providers of whatever is “free” always want something. In the case of schools, it is money and control—control of how your children are raised and what kind of citizen—or subject—they are formed into.

If we and those providers of “free” education were of the same mind, this wouldn’t be so bad. But we are not of the same mind. And that has become abundantly more clear in the past few years. Parents are waking up. They’re expressing their disapproval with what has been going on. And they’re being insistent that they are not abdicating their God-given role as decision-maker in the care and upbringing of their children.

We’re seeing that play out in school board meetings, in school board races, and in legislation.

And one big way we’re seeing it is in the debate over school choice.


Stephanie Lambert, speaking at Cypress Texas Tea Party, March 16, 2023
screenshot from here

Last week at our Tea Party meeting we heard from Stephanie Lambert, daughter of Tim Lambert, founder and head of Texas Home School Coalition, talking about their two prongs: educational choice and parental rights. And we got some interesting statistics concerning school choice, particularly Education Savings Accounts, or “the money follows the child”:

·        There are currently 72 such programs in 32 states, some of them with long years of data we can look at.

·        Whether in high-regulation or low-regulation states, these programs have not led to increased regulation.

o      In fact, regulation for homeschooling has plummeted.

o      In no state has regulation of homeschooling increased in the past two decades.

o      Also, here in Texas we saw a three-fold increase in homeschooling since the pandemic shutdown.

·        71% of Texas homeschoolers support ESAs. Only 20% oppose.

So let’s take a look at that opposition. Last year, at the state GOP convention, testimony from these opponents of school choice lined up and took the public comment slots before the Platform Committee. They seemed a much stronger force than they actually are, and very nearly got the Committee to strike the language “money follows the child” from the platform plank. A good speech from a Committee member rescued it at the last moment.

I have noticed a fair amount of pressure from these opponents on social media sites where conservatives communicate. They’re forceful and insistent. I’ve collected some of the arguments to try to understand them and possibly express the choice side better.

One early clue was their accusation, “Look where the money is coming from.” They claim the choice side is funded by people who really want to gain control over homeschooling families. Since I’m one of these pro-choice people, and I know that my voice is independent and absolutely not connected to any money, that does not ring true.

And since I have been a member of THSC while homeschooling, and continue to follow them, particularly during the legislative session, I’m also aware that THSC is very grassroots, not a big money outfit, nor is it controlled by some nefarious higher elites. I have reason to trust them. So that first opponent argument doesn’t fly with me.

They linked to this article in the past week: “School Choice: Are We Willing to Sell Our Children for a Pittance?” by Tiffany Boyd, a Tennessee homeschooler opposed to school choice. This is from the article:

She [Charlotte Thompson Iserbyt, author of The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America] predicted that all types of “school choice” will eventually be tax-supported, with the tax money following each child.

“Each child, regardless of type of ‘choice’ education, will have an individual education plan (IEP). This will be determined by decisions made by the school/business partnerships (for which kind of workforce training they have determined your child’s intelligence/talents are best suited, for their own profit-seeking purposes). This is the failed communist/socialist job quota system from which millions of foreigners escaped. These immigrants, the backbone of our nation, made enormous sacrifices to come to the United States of America in order to enjoy the upward mobility guaranteed by our free (unplanned) economic system.”

I haven’t read the book quoted from, written originally in 1999. But we can look at this quote with some hindsight now—and the data we mentioned above. Do you know where you will have an individual education plan (IEP)? In a public school. Any student with a special need will have one. It isn’t determined by the parents, although the parents may be pressured to comply with the school’s plan.

You know where you don’t have one imposed by any outside entity? A homeschool. You, as a parent, plan or go by the seat of your pants as you see fit, and as seems to fit your particular child. Our family had a moderate amount of structure (I needed it, and so did the kids), but we bristled at anything beyond our plans being messed with by anyone. We got to decide everything—except these particular requirements: we had to teach reading, math, spelling, and good citizenship, all of which we were glad to do. I can attest that we did all of those things—and quite a lot more—better than the public schools we pulled them from when they were failing us.

My experiences are anecdotal. But the data about the various places that have implemented ESAs is telling: regulation of homeschooling plummets, and no increased regulation of homeschooling is even tried.

ESAs, by the way, are similar to a medical savings account. You get to choose the doctor and the service that you want. But the money can only be used for medical purposes. There are some purposes that might be excluded from your account—certain alternative therapies, for example—but you’re free to pay out-of-pocket for those extras. There isn’t a huge amount of oversight; you simply can’t use your HSA for a vacation (for your mental health, you claim) or something most people would see as quite a stretch to call it a medical service.

ESAs would be limited to educational purposes. But that can be a lot broader than tuition or textbooks. This is the point at which people worry, however. Someone makes the decision of whether a service applies or not. But, again, that hasn’t been a big issue with HSAs; they provide greater freedom, not less. And they are similar to a GI bill, which is used for any type of education, at any institution, including religious, that the veteran chooses to use it for.

Did I mention, ESAs can roll over the money to the following year, so there's incentive for the parents to find cost-effective resources. In some programs the leftover upon graduation can be used for college tuition.

Here’s another part of the article—about those evil, selfish parents who resent having to pay taxes for a school system that doesn’t serve them:

I often hear parents say, “It’s my money and I want it back.” My retort to that statement is, “What is more important to you, your freedom or your money? What is more important to you, your child or the money?”

That is usually met with the following: “I want freedom to choose.”

The truth is, parents already have the freedom to choose. They can choose public school, private school or home school. With school choice, you are simply choosing more of the same. It’s still the same system parents insist is failing, funded by government. The teachers are still all trained the same and the state controls the curriculum. So, what would they be choosing that is any different?

This is where the catch is: the choice shouldn’t be between two forms of public school, regular or private; and two forms of private school, high-tuition classrooms or homeschools. What a bogus limitation!

There was a video these opponents on social media linked to of how “school choice” ruined education in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane had devasted entire areas, so many schools were literally wiped out. So they created a Recovery School District, which they claimed was completely free choice for all parents. Since there was no local school to choose, it allowed the parents to send their child to any other school they wanted. But the parents had plenty to complain about: the schools they wanted didn’t always have openings; the schools they wanted didn’t always provide transportation; they schools they wanted ended up being whatever they could scramble to get, of whatever quality, at whatever location. Some parents ended up sending each of their kids to a different school, with all the transportation and confusion that would entail. What these parents wanted to choose was a free school down the street that actually educated their child—like the parents had had growing up. But that wasn’t an option.

Let’s just point out that this wasn’t exactly putting the free market to work in education. It was a shoddy approach to dealing with a catastrophe.


image found here

What does real choice look like? How about if that ESA can go to multiple different approaches and places for each child. Maybe the local school has a good drama program—fine, put the student there for those hours. Maybe the local community college is a better fit for math. Maybe a nearby private school has a really good history teacher. Maybe private music lessons are worth using part of the allotment for. There could be online courses for special interests of the student. Part of the allotment could go to that.

Homeschoolers have been finding these sorts of combinations for decades. Before we moved to Texas—so, well before we homeschooled—we had homeschooling neighbors who sent their kids to an hour for one subject in one school district and an hour for another subject in the next school district over, and then did some other subjects at home. While there were more regulations for homeschoolers there than here in Texas, the schools themselves were actually more flexible. Here the public schools are all or nothing.

The image I've painted, with all those options, looks like it would be parent intensive, just providing transportation. Until you’ve got a student who drives and has a spare car, that’s true. But what if the local public school allowed private vendors to use their rooms, perhaps for a fee to cover maintenance costs, etc., and parents could have their child at the same general location all day, but with multiple educational opportunities there?

In an actual free market, where there’s a need, an entrepreneur steps in to fill it. Transportation between educational locations could become a thing. Maybe there could be an educational "mall," a general location with lots of options, and you can easily walk from one to another, like you walk from class to class on a college campus.

There seems to be a fear that, if you allow any money to go beyond the current status quo public school, you’re harming public schools—and by extension putting the education of all children in jeopardy. Gasp! But is maintaining public schools—at the expense of the students they are failing—the ultimate goal?

Public schooling is a relatively new experiment. In 1910, when UIL was established for extracurricular competitions, private schools and homeschools were the norm, the vast majority, while public schools covered only a relatively small percentage of children. By the 1940s, compulsory education laws were put in place, not for improving education, but for controlling thought, using a uniform factory model. 

Since public schools have already failed, I would indeed like to see public schools as we know them done away with. But that does not mean I want there to be no teachers or opportunities for educating our next generation. I want ALL the choices to be available to ALL the children. The only ones stuck in the monopoly then would be those whose parents won’t take responsibility for even the decision-making.

Some of the opportunities, of course, are going to depend on location. In Houston, we can find plenty of resources. In a small town with one public school and no private school, choice might need to include options that homeschoolers do and have done for millennia: teach them yourself; combine with others to pay for a private school, or hire private tutors, which today includes access to the internet, so it’s pretty unlimited, depending on availability of the parents and some common technology.

Educating our children will require a new way of thinking. Public schooling as it is done now has failed to meet the mission and has subjected kids to indoctrination of things parents absolutely oppose. ESAs might not be the final solution. I think a fully free-market education, with scholarships provided by local businesses (and maybe willing taxpayers) could do an even better job. But ESAs would be a step toward injecting actual free market choice into schooling.

And we know what we get from a real free market: better quality at lower cost.


Legislation This Session

 

Texas Senate Committee on Education, March 22, 2023
screenshot from here

This legislative session in Texas, we have a number of bills trying to protect children, regain parental rights, and allow school choice. There are two I’m looking at: SB 8, Bettencourt, Creighton, et al (including Middleton); and SB 176, Middleton (with Bettencourt as a co-author). Both bills are long and attempt to accomplish a lot. I trust both Senators Bettencourt and Middleton; both have a record of being pro-school choice. Bettencourt is my state senator. Both bills do two main things: codify a Parents Bill of Rights and implement an ESA program. They are not, however, considered companion bills.

Friends tell me Senator Middleton and crew have spent 18 months carefully crafting the wording of their bill, SB 176. My friends were disappointed to have Bettencourt’s bill come in and seem to replace all their work. But I didn’t get from my friends any specific problems with SB 8. I’ve only just scanned both of them. SB 8 is 50+ pages, and SB 176 is around 36 pages. There may be very similar sections. The low bill number on SB 8 means it is a high priority and is more likely to see movement.

If you click on the bill numbers above, I’ve linked to the Bill History page for each. From there you can see what movement the bill has had so far, and you can click on Text to get the wording of the bill and any amendments that may come.

Public testimony was heard in committee for both bills on Wednesday, March 22, and both were left pending in committee. That means there will likely be another day of public hearings before they take a vote.

It will take more time for me to determine what to recommend or amend. But I do hope we get a bill passed here in Texas that will do what parents have been calling out for.

Friday, March 17, 2023

About the Banking Collapse

I’m in the process of trying to understand what’s going on with the bank failures. And just watching to see what happens. I’m not in a position to explain it all. I can list the bare basics and send you to the people who are explaining it in a way that I can almost grasp it.

Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) failed last Friday, March 10, 2023. That has been the big one in the news. What caused the run on the bank? Bad policies and practices all around. The usual suspects. Government has been overspending for decades, but on steroids lately. They were able to do this without economic failure and hyperinflation, because the Federal Reserve, the bank controlling the “printing” of money, kept interest rates artificially low.


Glenn Beck explains the banking crisis on his Wednesday special
screenshot from here
.

But the Federal Reserve had been giving warnings for months that interest rate hikes were coming. Nevertheless, SVB had put its excess cash in long-term low-rate bonds. Something like 10-year locked-in rates of around 1.5% interest. People don’t buy those bonds if they can put their money somewhere that makes more money.

Anyway, this put the bank’s reserves in an upside-down non-liquid form. When too many people withdrew their money, the bank couldn’t supply it. The money was tied up for a decade.

Why did the bank do this? Good question. I don’t have an answer. One detail is that the position of risk manager was left open for the past nine months or so. They probably should have seen the higher interest rates coming; the rest of us did. But apparently no one was watching.

Meanwhile, they were dedicated to hiring someone over ESG scoring—that’s where they invest based on “woke” ideas of morality, rather than on fiduciary responsibility to the investors. So there’s that.

Overall, though, a certain amount of blame has to go to the federal government for spending into oblivion and the Federal Reserve for accommodating that spending addiction by pretending there was enough money.


The Federal Reserve had a precipitous $40B drop this past quarter.
FRED chart from here

The FDIC, which is intended to secure the banking industry by ensuring that depositors can get their money, steps in. This has always been on deposits up to $250,000. Knowing this, sound business practices would involve using several banks to handle larger amounts of money, to make sure each deposit wouldn’t exceed the insured amount.

However, by executive order, Biden came out and promised that all deposits would be covered, regardless of the $250,000 limit. Where would that money come from? Taxpayers. I’m sure it makes you feel all aglow inside to know you’re suddenly on the hook to bail out companies and individuals who deposited beyond the insured limit, knowing they were putting those funds at risk. 

Or, not to worry; the Fed will just “print” more money, leading to higher inflation, so you can pay that way.

It’s unclear where Biden can get authority to make this change. It's also unclear whether he can get away with limiting this sudden change to a specific bank or two or three, or whether this sets up a system where there is no need for risk management, because there will be no consequences for taking bad risks.

While we’re talking about SVB, there are other bank failures going on. One happened a couple of days later, on Sunday. This was Signature Bank. This was more of a surprise. They had thought they had the ability to stabilize and were shocked when the Fed came and took them over.

There was an earlier failure, Silvergate last Wednesday, two days before the SVB failure. They said something like, they saw the writing on the wall. “Recent industry and regulatory developments” led them to see that “an orderly wind down” was their best option.

Signature Bank was considered “the bank for crypto investors.” Silvergate’s focus was also cryptocurrency. Let’s add that SVB, the go-to bank for tech entrepreneurs, also handled a lot of crypto investments. In less than a single week, the nation's three main banks for cryptocurrency were taken over by the government. Strange.

That detail about recent regulatory developments is telling. I can’t tell you exactly what the regulatory changes are. But I am aware that the federal government is diametrically opposed to cryptocurrencies. They intend to move us all to digital currency. Big difference. Cryptocurrencies are decentralized; a digital currency would be centralized. Cryptocurrencies are private and relatively secure. Digital currency would put your ability to buy, sell, receive income, or have access to money you have earned in the hands of government tyrants. The ones who tried to control you during the pandemic and force you to get injections you didn’t want or need and that would harm you. The ones who raid innocent people to cow them into submission when they politically disagree.

A centralized digital currency is an easier way for tyrants to control people than gulags.

Right now, the banking crisis is a warning that they are on the move toward this end. They must not reach it.

The question is whether we are awake enough—and have enough alternatives for a parallel economy—to keep them from gaining the total control they are attempting.

I’m still just trying to grasp the basics. And I don’t really know what to do about it, as a fairly powerless individual. But below are some of the sources I’ve been going to.

Resources

·        How They’ll Use the Banking Crisis to Control YOU | Glenn TV | Ep 26” Glenn Beck Special, March 15, 2023. 

·       'Woke' Is Not a Slur. Here's What It Actually Means | Guests: Missy Robertson & Carol Roth | 3/16/23” Glenn Beck Program, March 16, 2023. See, especially, the interview with Carol Roth, in the third hour segment. 

·       Bank Runs Feared Amid SVB Crash; Domino EffectCould Roll Through Economy” Joshua Philipp on Crossroads for EpochTV, March 13, 2023. 

·       Fed Tries to Stop Unfolding Bank Crisis;Illegal Immigrants Cost US Health Care System Billions per Year” Joshua Philipp on Crossroads for EpochTV, March 14, 2023. 

·       Banks Linked to Cryptocurrency CommunityCollapse: Could New Regulations Have Prevented This?” by Jeff Carter for Epoch Times, March 13, 2023.     

·       Tucker Carlson: This is why our big banks areincompetent” Tucker Carlson Tonight, March 13, 2023. 

·       Tucker: This was a disaster for AmericaTucker Carlson Tonight, March 15, 2023. 

·       The End of Silicon Valley (Bank)” Stratechery blog, March 13, 2023. 


Friday, March 10, 2023

"Don't Believe Your Lying Eyes" They Tell You

By now, if you haven’t seen Tucker Carlson’s Monday night report on the video surveillance tapes from the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, then you must only be watching MSM. In which case, how did you end up here?

So you don’t need me to show you that report. But for the sake of my chronicling what’s going on, I’m going to point out what we already knew (early post here) and what was new in Tucker’s report.

Tucker stated quite boldly that the January 6 Select Committee are liars. Yes, he used the “L” word. The video proves it. This was not a violent insurrection—a betrayal of our country. It was hundreds of thousands of people who were there to protest and never did anything else—no violence, no breaking and entering.

There were hundreds, possibly a thousand, who entered the capitol. The overwhelming majority of these entered peacefully, walked around respectfully, did no damage, obeyed police officers who had ushered them in, and then left, still peacefully.

And then there were a small number, maybe 100 or so, who were violent—but unarmed—who fought police officers, broke windows, and did some relatively minor vandalism. Among these were an unknown number of government assets, hired agent provocateurs, who it appears were inciting the crowds and fomenting violence.

What Tucker showed was not, as Chuck Schumer claims, the big lie that there was no violence that day. Clearly there was some violence. It should have been anticipated better, perhaps, because there were permits granted for the large outdoor protest. Extra help was offered, and requested by some Capitol Police, but denied by Nancy Pelosi who oversaw Capitol security as House Speaker, and Muriel Bowser, the mayor of the city surrounding the Capitol. They didn’t want National Guard troops, “because of optics,” they said—until afterwards, when they wanted things to look like martial law, I guess.

Tucker focuses mainly on three examples.

 

Jacob Chansley, The QAnon Shaman

First there is the guy known as the QAnon Shaman, Jacob Chansley. According to Carlson, the video footage shows his entire time within the Capitol building. It shows him—never violent—being escorted to the Senate Chamber by Capitol Police. There were as many as nine officers around him. There was no crowd he was leading; most of the shots show multiple armed police and just him. So the argument that police were simply acquiescing to de-escalate possible mob violence seems impossible to square with what we see. Not one officer tries to stop him. They try various doors for him. Once inside the Senate Chamber, he prays aloud, thanking Heavenly Father for inspiring the Capitol Police to help guide him in. He saw them as his allies.


Jacob Chansley, called the QAnon Shaman, surrounded by Capitol Police,
who guided him into the Senate Chamber on January 6, 2021.
screenshot from here

It must have been very distressing to him, after that peaceful exchange with officers, to suddenly be prosecuted for violent insurrection. And it was his word against the prosecutors—because they would not provide this footage to his defense team. For all he knew, they were going to railroad him into a 20-year prison sentence if he didn’t plead guilty. And isn’t it handy for them, in their other prosecutions, to have this “admission of guilt” from the public face of the so-called insurrection?

Now that we have seen the video, it is obvious he should not have pleaded guilty; he should have been allowed to use the video to prove that he wasn’t guilty. His ongoing imprisonment is a grave injustice that should be rectified immediately. How that can happen is another question.

Robert Gouveia talked about that on his law vlog. He said after a plea deal and sentencing, it is nigh unto impossible to take back the guilty plea and call for a mistrial. But there could be something called post sentencing relief. Chansley’s current lawyer talks about that in this interview

Along with the lawyer in that interview is Chansley’s mother, who explains that her son had heard there were people who had gone into the Senate Chamber, and he thought he could de-escalate them, calm them down, and had offered to help the Capitol Police do that, which could plausibly explain the way they are seen escorting him, and there being other people in the Senate Chamber when he enters and offers his prayer.

What we know—and can see—that Chansley did not do was attempt a violent insurrection. He remained calm. He was never violent. He took some selfies in the Chamber, and then left with the others who had gone in there. He harmed no one, and Senate business reconvened and completed that evening.

 

Officers Down

One of the continuing lies is that this “violent insurrection” resulted in the deaths of five police officers at the Capitol that day. That is a bit of an exaggeration; the actual number is zero. The main one mentioned was Officer Brian Sicknick. They said he was bludgeoned to death, with a teargas canister to the head, in the crowd outside the Capitol, dying from his injuries the following day.

We knew very quickly afterward that this wasn’t true. He did indeed die the next day—from a stroke, apparently unrelated to the violence that day. There was no head trauma, according to the medical examiner’s report.

Jan. 6 was no doubt a stressful day. But the new video shows Office Sicknick walking through the capitol building, clearly healthy and vigorous—well after the time he was supposed to have been beaten by the crowd outside. And he is wearing a helmet, belying the head trauma narrative.


Officer Brian Sicknick is seen well and vital, directing traffic
within the Capitol, after supposedly being killed by rioters.
screenshot from here

His death was used for political purposes; it was their “proof” that the “insurrectionists” were violent. They had him lie in state—as a political prop. He didn’t die of violence that day. He wasn’t injured by violence that day. He communicated with family members later in the day, completely fine. And now the surveillance video verifies that long-known story. Yet Biden and others still claim he was violently killed by the angry mob, along with multiple other officers.

There were no other officers that died that day either, nor from injuries in subsequent days. There were a handful who died—of suicide—sometime later, some of them many months later. What we don’t have is a demographic comparison to know whether that number of suicides is a high number for any similar period of time. We also don’t have suicide notes or any other details linking those suicides to Jan. 6.

If all the video surveillance tape were allowed to be viewed on the internet, no doubt there are people who could use AI and face recognition software to follow Brian Sicknick’s movements the entire day. They could do that with a whole lot of people, including those who might have been instigators—agent provocateurs—who just happen to be the only ones known to have done the stirring up of the crowd but not charged.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who gave the exclusive access to Tucker Carlson and team, says he plans for all of the surveillance video to be made public online, so people can see for themselves. Also, he pointed out that there are many more hours of footage than the 14,000 we were told. I have heard 41,000 hours, which switches the numbers around, so I wasn’t sure whether that was just a typo, but McCarthy puts the number at 42,000+ hours, and asserts that this is a lot more than we were originally told.

Also, this video footage does not compromise security at the Capitol. Tucker Carlson’s team ran their clips by the Capitol Police to verify that they weren’t endangering any security. They cooperated fully. The only instance of a change they made was to blur out a particular door. I did notice one blurred door. An officer tries it and then turns to guide Chansley another way. There is a stairway in the background. It looked to me like the location where Ashley Babbitt was killed, although I have no way to verify that. And I don’t know whether this was after that happened. It might have been, because I think she would have been the first to enter. So the blur blocked what would have been broken glass in that door or next to it. If that was the reason, then the location of that camera or any other does not endanger security just by the public seeing it.

 

Agent Provocateurs

This brings us to the third main story from Carlson Monday night: Ray Epps. We know his name. We’ve seen video of him, from the day before, insisting to a crowd that they would need to go into the capitol the next day. People in the crowd, suspicious of him, call out, “Fed! Fed! Fed!”

He had been, for a time, on the FBI’s most wanted list. And then he wasn’t. Investigators had flown to Alaska to interrogate a woman who had been at the rally but never even walked to the capitol (mistaken identity, which she fortunately was able to prove, both by photograph and by phone data). But Ray Epps, known to have been stirring up the crowd, was considered an ally of the Jan. 6 Committee for some reason.

It was known that he had texted a relative, a nephew, boasting that he had orchestrated the crowd that attacked the Capitol that day.

He was so publicly known that the Jan. 6 Committee had to bring him in to testify. They asked him leading questions, to get to the narrative they wanted, which for some reason was that he was harmless and uninvolved, despite evidence to the contrary. In his testimony, he said he never even heard the crowd call “Fed! Fed!” around him. And he claimed he had thought the Capitol would be open for tours, which is why he called for people to go in. He claimed that he never even went into the Capitol on the day of. He left the speech early, to see if he could help with crowd control, and left his companions, whom he claimed he needed to locate. And then he left, inexplicably without them.

But there was that text. He claimed that was nothing, really. Exaggerating his helpfulness in crowd control or something. And that it was after he’d already left the Capitol and gone back to his hotel. Except that video shows him still at the Capitol for a full half hour after sending that inflammatory text.

Yet the Committee defended him, for motives we can only suppose. Why claim he is just an innocent bystander while imprisoning actual innocent bystanders?

And how many actual agent provocateurs were there that day?

Another likely one is John Sullivan, an Antifa member who claimed he was only there to chronicle the day, as a self-styled reporter. (I wrote about him here.) Mr. Reagan podcast reminds us that Sullivan’s original hour-long footage shows Sullivan’s view inside the Capitol. People are walking through respectfully. Sullivan calls for burning and destroying, but people resist and shut him down. No burning. No defacing statues. They prevent any damage, rather than being fomented into it. Despite Sullivan’s efforts to the contrary, the people there respected their government and were not trying to overthrow it, let alone do so violently.


Clip of John Sullivan's footage inside the Capitol on J6
records him urging destruction, but people shut him down.
screenshot from here

 

Mostly Peaceful

Robert Gouveia has done some math and charts to show that this was “mostly peaceful.” Using the conviction records, he’s got this list:

Total Crimes:

950

 

Violent—Impeding, Resisting, Assaulting:

284

29.89%

Violent—Weapon or Serious Injury:

99

10.42%

Entering the Capitol:

860

90.53%

Entering the Capitol—Weapon:

91

9.58%

Destruction of Government Property:

59

6.21%

Theft of Government Property:

36

3.79%

Corruptly Obstructing:

295

31.05%

Conspiracy:

50

5.26%

Insurrection:

0

0%

 

And he put them into this pie chart for perspective:


Robert Gouveia charts the conviction records of January 6, 2021.
screenshot from here

There’s some explanation that is helpful. Total charges do not equal total number of people charged; people were often charged with more than one supposed crime. 90.53% of all charges were for entering the Capitol, which means the total number of people charged would be very close to 860. This is out of the several hundred thousand, possibly a million, people who attended the rally. And it’s close to the estimate of about 1000 people who entered the Capitol that day. And we now see footage that most of those people did nothing worse than trespass—and most of those at the invitation of Capitol Police.

We know that weapons charges did not include any firearms. Zero. They counted things like flagpoles and water bottles as weapons. It may be that some people, particularly in the melee outside, may have used anything at hand as a weapon, including flagpoles and water bottles. But inside the Capitol—have you seen any footage of anyone using a flagpole as a weapon? Aiming a pointy top at a police officer perhaps? They have had all the footage. They have had facial recognition and any other tools available to them. But they haven’t shown flagpoles being used as weapons. I wonder why.

So, of those 90% who were charged with entering, under 100 were charged with carrying a weapon, whether they used it or not. Under 60 did damage to or stole government property; if they did those things, those are legitimate charges.

Of those who assaulted officers—no more than 284, since that number includes simply impeding or resisting officers’ orders—those would be legitimate charges but not necessarily violent. Many of these altercations happened outside, with police throwing teargas into the crowds, escalating rather than de-escalating the situation.

Conspiracy is rather vague. Was it planning to meet up with friends at the rally? Or was it planning to do damage and harm? Out of the 860 or so people charged, only 50 of them were charged with conspiracy. And we’re not yet privy to the evidence.

For insurrection, zero charges. Of the 860 or so people charged with entering the Capitol, plus possibly something else, zero were charged with insurrection.

It’s hard to claim there was an insurrection when there is no evidence to charge anyone with insurrection. Not one.

The worst attack on our “democracy” since the Civil War seems a bit of an exaggeration, according to the numbers. It appears Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the anti-Trump team tried to stage an insurrection—because that charge carries the weight of preventing running for public office—but the enormous America-loving crowd simply couldn’t be goaded into insurrecting, drat them!

It looks as though footage of actual violence—and there was some—was more cherrypicked than the footage Tucker Carlson showed, which coincides more with the numbers given by the government’s charging documents, which we know in themselves exaggerate what actually happened.

Chuck Schumer, in his fuming response on Tuesday, fails to explain how Carlson selectively edited the video by adding peaceful moments galore, but the Committee did not selectively edit by showing only the violent moments to create a narrative that the evidence does not bear out.

Among liars, when faced with mounting evidence of their falsehoods, most give in and admit to the lie. It’s too hard to keep it up when everyone knows better than to believe you. But there are some liars who double down, fume, blame the messenger, and insist that you believe them rather than your own eyes.

This is the type of liar we are facing. They wield power in our government. They are indeed swamp creatures. We need them gone so we can get our country back. And truth seems to be the best weapon. You can tell by how much they fear it.

 

Worth Viewing

·        Tucker Carlson Tonight, March 6, 2023. 

·        Tucker Carlson Tonight, March 7, 2023. 

·        Tucker Carlson on Jan. 6 video: ‘I know DECEPTION when I see it’”—Glenn Beck interviews Tucker Carlson, March 8, 2023. 

·        January 6th Conviction Records DESTROY Fictional Narrative” Robert Gouveia law vlog March 9, 2023. 

·        January 6th Tapes DESTROY Insurrection Narratives and Politicians FREAK” Robert Gouveia law vlog March 7, 2023. 

·        Tucker: The government hid this from you about Jan 6”—Tucker Carlson interviews Martha Chansley and her son’s attorney, Fox News, March 9, 2023. 

·        New Jan. 6 Footage Shows Falsehoods in Mainstream Narrative; Trump Proposes Freedom Cities”—Joshua Philipp on Crossroads for EpochTV, March 7, 2023. 

·        The Real Story of January 6 Documentary” EpochTV, premiering (again) March 10, 2023. 

·        As the January 6 'Insurrection' Narrative COLLAPSES, Media & Politicians DOUBLE DOWN!” Viva Frei vlog, March 8, 2023. 

·        The Stuff Tucker Can't Talk About” Mr. Reagan podcast, March 10, 2023. 

·        BREAKING : Previously Unseen January 6thFootage” @StevenVoiceOver, March 7, 2023. This is satire, for your entertainment. 



Friday, March 3, 2023

A Little Last Days Speculation

This post is going to be somewhat different from the usual. I’m working through trying to understand some scriptures that apply to our day, and looking at what’s happening to see if they correlate. I am not unique in this particular interest. There are a multitude of YouTube channels dedicated to this. There are speeches and sermons and books galore.

But one of the benefits of this blog, for me, is that it helps clarify my thoughts. I clarify what I think by writing it out and trying to order things. And anyone who reads it is along for that ride, and hopefully also benefits from it.

So, with that, welcome to some last days speculation.

 

Let the Studies Begin

For me there has always been a back burner interest in the last days. But the emphasis at church had always been that we need to live our daily lives to be ready to meet God. That would most likely come through death. But maybe 20 years out we might imagine the Savior’s Second Coming. Always 20 years out. A moving goal post.

Until 2020. The pandemic was a wake up call for me. Was that one of the plagues foretold for the last days? When you read about those things in Revelation, they seem more dire. This was a bad illness. But it was treatable—although treatments were withheld. The economy and life in general were shut down for a good long while. Churches and temples were closed. In fact, the reaction to the pandemic seemed more of a plague than the pandemic itself. And then came the so-called vaccine—experimental, forced upon us, ostensibly to let society open back up—but it didn’t actually prevent illness or spread and couldn’t actually meet the definition of a vaccine. And lately health issues from the vaccine are the main news. Meanwhile the virus itself has mutated into the endemic status of a bad cold.

I may talk about the possibility that this was a particular apocalyptic plague some other day. For now, let’s just say it was a catalyst to get my attention. Sometime early in the lockdown, late spring of 2020, I saw a couple of videos that really got my attention.[i] They were speculating that the Second Coming could be much sooner than 20 years away. It might be within 10, or maybe 3-4 years. And I got excited. Great—more than dreadful—I thought. We can last through almost anything for a few more years.

This was comforting to me, as I watched the decay of our constitutional republic, which I love and have dedicated a lot of my time to preserving. It is unthinkable that we should have to tolerate a socialist dictatorship on this promised land for decades into the future, after all we have done to preserve freedom, prosperity, and civilization. May the Lord come quickly! Hosanna! (which means come and rescue, among other meanings).

As I began to study, I’ve found that there are a lot of people doing similar study, fitting it in among their daily lives, or maybe letting it take over. We’re supposed to watch and be ready. Those of us who have taken up this study sometimes even call ourselves watchers.[ii] Even if we don’t know the day nor the hour of His coming, we can see the signs and the season. It will be like a woman in travail; you don’t know the day nor the hour, but you feel the preparatory birthing pains, and recognize when they get harder and more frequent, so you know the time is imminent.

See, by the way, Revelation 12: 1-2. If you’re into looking at signs in the heavens, you might be aware that in September of 2017 the constellation of Virgo had Jupiter, the royal planet, birthed from the womb area after about nine months inside, while Virgo was “crowned” with twelve stars. You can, if you know how better than I do, find this on constellation trackers.


sign of woman in the heavens constellation,
screenshot from here

I’ve learned a lot since 2020, and I’m just scratching the surface. What I’m recognizing is that reading the scriptures, especially something as symbolic as Revelation or the dreams of Daniel, is open to interpretation. I try to find official sources when I can—in my Church, what do the prophets say about particular verses? And what do other Christians say? And what do other religions believe about these last days? At the bottom I’ll share some resources. There are plenty to keep a person occupied for all the time we have left.

I want to look at just one segment, relating I think to this nation, America.

 

The Two Beasts

Let’s look at Revelation 13, starting in verse 1 [note that I’m using the King James Version of the Bible, linking to ChurchofJesusChrist.org, which has a lot of helpful footnote links]:

And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.


La BĂȘte de la Mer, a medieval tapestry depicting John the Revelator
seeing the dragon and the sea beast from Rev. 13

The beast coming out of the sea, if I understand the symbolism, means it crosses the oceans, covering multiple nations, or maybe all nations. The Joseph Smith Translation of this verse says, “And I saw another sign, in the likeness of the kingdoms of the earth: a beast rise up out of the sea, and he stood upon the sand of the sea, having seven heads….” I think that’s a clearer way to look at the verse.

Verse 2 further describes this beast, a leopard’s body, feet of a bear, mouth of a lion. Then,

And the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

The dragon refers to the devil. This beast, or multi-national entity, is empowered by Satan.

Verse 3 gets interesting. One of the heads gets a deadly wound, and then is healed, amazing all the world. I’ve speculated that in the 20th Century we thought we had defeated the Marxist ideologies that led to so much mass murder—in addition to war and famine. Now, it’s as though these socialist ideas are revived to become mainstream, even here in America. Maybe that’s the head that the world thought was dead but that revived.

There’s a footnote in verse 4 for beast, describing it as Babylon. Symbolically, Babylon is Satan’s kingdom; Zion is God’s kingdom. As Neal A. Maxwell used to say,

“Let us once and for all establish our residence in Zion

and give up the summer cottage in Babylon.”

So, the beast represents Satan’s kingdom, an international entity, perhaps a cabal of many nations and organizations, given power to do evil.

I want to come back to a subsequent verse or two. But further down in the chapter is another beast, starting in verse 11:

And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.

This beast, this symbolic animal, has two horns like a lamb. But it is not a lamb—certainly not the Lamb. It speaks as a dragon—and as we know from just above, the dragon is Satan. It speaks the Devil’s words. It speaks falsely. Verse 12 tells what this false speaking land beast does:

And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

Verses go on to say this beast deceives the people of the earth, directing them to do the bidding of that other beast, the sea beast. This land beast can create images that seem incredible and convince many.

I call this land beast the propaganda beast.[iii] The liar. It says whatever the message of that sea beast might be. The worldwide cabal is given voice and image by the propaganda beast.

There are plenty of people who look at these verses and see one or the other of them as “the anti-Christ.” They are certainly both anti-Christ. But I do not believe these verses say we are to expect to see a particular person embodying them. I think the worldwide cabal is something we are actually seeing today. We could try to name the various heads and crowns and horns, but I don’t think it’s necessary to do more than say, Yes, there is certainly a worldwide cabal, and it’s as fierce and ugly as that symbolic description.

As for the land beast, the false speaker, I think we’re looking at mainstream media (speaking the lies), plus Hollywood (creating the image), plus academia (inculcating the lies)—anything that gives the lie that empowers that sea beast, or worldwide cabal. Propaganda beast seems to cover it, although that does sound milder than it is.

This combination of the two working in tandem does great damage, described in verse 15:

And he [the propaganda beast] had power to give life unto the image of the beast [the sea beast], that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

Cancel culture—figuratively killing anyone that doesn’t go along with the prescribed lies—could be one meaning. The loss of ability to work or function in society might be another. It could also mean literal death to some—at some point maybe to many. There’s more about being able to buy and sell—only if you take upon yourself the “mark” of the beast, which has to mean choosing to go along with the beast. That is, choosing Babylon instead of Zion; it can’t be inadvertent, it seems to me.

I want to back up to verse 5, talking about the sea beast again:

And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

I was thinking about that forty and two months recently, which is what I’m really speculating about here today.

There are people who have put together timelines, using the numbers in scriptures. Forty-two months is 3 ½ years, which comes up a few times in last days scriptures. Forty-two months also comes up a couple of chapters earlier, referring to the two prophets raised up to Israel, who will walk in Jerusalem, witnessing and prophesying of God, and protecting Israel for forty-two months, before being killed and then rising again just before the Savior’s coming. I don’t know if that forty-two months coincides with this forty-two months of the beast’s reign, or any other 3 1/2- year segment. I just don’t know.

But I’m looking at this Chapter 13 time in conjunction with another possible last days thing.

 

The Eagle

There’s a prophecy in Esdras 2, or the second book of Ezra, an apocryphal book I was unaware of until my 2020 studies began. I’m looking at Chapters 11 and 12 mainly, a prophecy often called Ezra’s Eagle. One common interpretation of it is that it refers to America, in the last century or so. I’ve resisted this, but there are parts that may be true. The main image is a 3-headed eagle, which soars over the earth, influencing everywhere. Sounds like America, with its three co-equal branches of government. However, every interpretation I’ve heard says, rather casually, that those three eagle heads don’t depict the three branches of government, but three individuals who control things.[iv] I just say, no, that’s not how symbolic representation works. Why represent a nation with a three-headed eagle that has nothing to do with the nation’s three heads? So, let’s just agree this represents America, and maybe I’m right about the three branches of government.

As an aside, the three heads don’t survive; one is killed in sleep, and another gets eaten by the remaining head. Symbolically speaking, I’d say what you see is the legislative branch giving its work over to the executive branch through the regulatory state, and then the executive branch killing off the judicial branch through executive orders and a corrupt department of justice, plus all the corrupt three-letter agencies. Just a thought.


Image taken as screenshot from here.

The eagle is somewhat bedraggled. On one side it has a wing with feathers attached. Some are long, some are short, one is quite long. The interpretation chapter says these are rulers who come in turn, rule, then don’t show up again. A short feather means that rule was cut short. If you start with Herbert Hoover, these feathers line up to be the US presidents from him through Obama on that side. A regular long feather can go with a four-year or an eight-year presidency; either way it is a complete presidency. The short feathers happen to coincide with JFK and Nixon, and the really long one is FDR, who was elected four times, before the law was made to limit the president to two terms.

I can’t tell you why they start with Hoover. I heard a completely different interpretation recently in which there are parallels to the kings of northern ancient Israel. So, who knows. Anyway, if the modern America interpretation holds, there are a few more feathers on the other wing. The first one is a short feather, meaning it is an incomplete presidency. The second one is also a short feather, and is to be even shorter than the one before it. Some say there are two more feathers, but it looks to me like after the two attached feathers, then come two feathers that are loose, trying to attach, or rule, but unable.

So, if the other side completed with Obama, then the first short feather on the other side is Trump. When I first heard this interpretation, I resisted just because it looked like that meant removal from office because of death or impeachment. I think he’d already been through a failed impeachment attempt by then. What I didn’t anticipate was that he might actually be elected but unable to complete his presidency because of a stolen election. And I do believe that is what happened. It strains credulity to think a senile old man who didn’t campaign got more votes than anyone in history. And there’s plenty more to say about that, but I’ve mostly said it before.

So, if that interpretation of Ezra’s Eagle is accurate (a big if), then we should expect the Biden presidency to last a shorter amount of time than the full four years (that should have been eight) of Trump. Four years is forty-eight months. You know what is shorter than forty-eight months? Forty-two months.

Total speculation here, but what if the Biden presidency is the forty-two months of sea beast (the worldwide cabal) giving a mouth (and not much else) speaking what the sea beast gives the mouth to say, including blasphemies, or false doctrine, as the footnote indicates?

False doctrines might include things like “abortion is a woman’s right,” “gender is mutable, but sexual orientation is not,” “using fossil fuels is going to end life as we know it,” and “all white people are racist but black people can’t be racist.” I’m sure you can think of some more.

That would mean somewhere around late summer of 2024, the Biden presidency ends. I don’t know how. I do not wish him dead, nor do I predict that will be the way. Impeachment seems much more likely for someone as corrupt as he is. If it turns out he indeed caused the sabotage of the Nord Stream Pipeline, that is an act of war. Doing so unilaterally as president, putting the entire nation at risk, is treason. Add in the proof from the Hunter Biden laptop that he has taken money to favor foreign nations against US interests, and impeachment seems inevitable.

If that should happen about that time, then what? I don’t know. It’s only a couple of months before the 2024 election. I cannot accept (I cannot stomach the idea of) a Kamala Harris presidency, even for a few months. And the prophecy, if accurate, would say there would not be another attached feather after Biden. What then?

Well, maybe rule by the King of Kings, who has returned. That would be how I’d like to see it play out.

If things go longer, then one thing we could be looking at is a breakup of the United States. There’s what could be considered last days prophecy in the Book of Mormon, which we’re told is a parallel for our day, how precise we do not know. But in the years prior to the Savior’s coming to the Nephites on this continent following his resurrection, the people destroyed their government (which had been an elected government) and broken up into tribes. Are we going to see that? Breaking up into individual states? Or is the intersectionality going on now a kind of tribalism?

Everything seems easier to see in retrospect—like that sign of the woman in heaven we saw in  2017, coinciding with an eclipse and the biblically proportioned floods in Houston called Hurricane Harvey, which certainly got our attention here.

Earthquakes are picking up. Birthing pains, are they? Maybe. There’s snow on the beach in California as I write this, which is pretty weird. In 2020 there were so many weird things, we started referring to them as apocalypse bingo. It included summer snow in China, and locusts, and murder hornets, and fires over large swaths of he earth.

Do we really need to wait until things are cinematically apocalyptic looking? Or are we seeing things now? I believe we’ll know soon. And I wish I knew precisely how to define soon.

 

Resources:

As I mention in the footnotes, I started with these two videos:

·        7 Year Tribulation in the Seventh Seal Timeline,” by Masayoshi Montemayor, on Millennial Reign, March 12, 2020. 

·        NEW Revelation & Daniel SECOND EDITION (PART 1 of 4)” by Jodi Stoddard 

o   Part 2 

o   Part 3 

o   Part 4 

Here are a few on Ezra’s Eagle:

·        What Do The Scriptures Say About President Donald J Trump -See Ezra's Eagle?” Last Days Timeline, March 10, 2017

·        Ezra’s Eagle,” Michael B. Rush, January 31, 2021 

·        Ezra’s Eagle, The Background,” Christian Homestead, May 26, 2022

·        Ezra's Eagle Repent America” New Evidences for Joseph Smith, November 14, 2022. 

A few YouTube Channels and Websites:

·        Christian Homestead. Jared Davies puts out content daily. He’s very low-key and casual, but he does good research. He has a spreadsheet available online with a wealth of information he’s tracking, from things Latter-day Saint prophets have said, to earthquakes happening around the world.

·        Watcher Palmer. Scott Palmer talks about a lot of gospel related things, and sometimes things related to what’s going on in the world. His followers are called the Community of Watchers, or COWS, which is fun. Again, low-key, low-budget, and an individual thinker. As I mention in the footnote, I grew up with him from elementary school, and my husband knew him as a missionary, because in the Church it’s a small world.

·        The Last Dispensation.  Troy Ables also covers a wide variety of topics, but often last days. He and Scott Palmer and Jared Davies all know each other and sometimes collaborate on videos. All three are from a Latter-day Saint perspective.

·        The Happy Lady. This is another Latter-day Saint. I’ve only watched a few. They are long. She sounds bubbly and not what I’d expect, but her research is actually pretty fascinating. Sometimes she makes connections where I would not (a lot of numbers have meaning to her, and she sees them everywhere), but that’s OK. There was one I watched on the Sami people and other “lost tribes” that had me wanting to go do a DNA test.  Not all are last days related, but the ones I’ve seen have been.

·        The Watchman with Erick Stakelbeck. This is a Christian guy in the US who covers daily news and all things related to Israel.

·        One for Israel Ministry. This is a ministry of Jewish Christians. It’s an interesting perspective, not typically last days related, I don’t think, but it’s good to understand Jewish customs to help understand last days prophecies.

·        The Temple Institute. This is a website of all things Jewish (not Christian), preparing for the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. It’s fascinating.

 

Scriptures to Get Started and Study Aids:

·        Revelation 

·        Daniel  

·        Doctrine & Covenants 45 

·        Old Testament Student Manual Kings-Malachi 

·        New Testament Student Manual, especially chapters 53-56 on Revelation 

 



[i] I started with this one by Masayoshi Montemayor, and one by Jodi Stoddard, which were redone and posted in four parts, starting here. Both do timelines, slightly different, showing things happening very soon. Both are from a Latter-day Saint perspective. Both have things that I do not totally agree with, now after more study. But there are some good facts in them, and they’re a good starting place.

[ii] One YouTube channel I follow regularly is Watcher Palmer. (I actually went to school with him, elementary through high school, and my husband knew him as a missionary. Small world.) He and his followers started referring to themselves as the Community of Watchers, or COWS, which allows for some good cow pictures for graphic T-shirts and whatnot.

[iii] I first came to this understanding of the sea beast and the land beast from a lecture by Hyrum Andrus, posted to YouTube around 2017, but was actually from the late 1980s. I saw it in 2020. They all look alike, but I think it is this one

[iv] The first introduction I had to Ezra’s Eagle was this video from 2017, which I watched in May 2020. I still resist much of the interpretations, but some of it keeps coming to mind, so I’m entertaining the possibilities.