The new church of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

That’s the alternative description of the Scottish Nationalist Party, the ruling party of Scotland, according to pastor David Robertson, minister of St Peters Free Church in Dundee Scotland, who also blogs as the Weeflea. Aye, Scotland! Sure and begorrah, Ireland is going the same way. Mr. Robertson’s own words: “Cycling home from St Peters I saw a poster that took my breath away.  Sometimes you see that something is going to happen and yet it still shocks you when it does.  These posters are currently being displayed in towns and cities all over Scotland. 

Dear-bigots-1-641x900Dear-transphobes-2-1_640x345_acf_cropped

“You will note that these are posters from the Scottish Government and the Scottish Police. At one level they seem fine. Who is going to argue against the idea that we want rid of hatred? That people should not call others names, or be violent, or mock and abuse? But that is not what is happening here. Note the following:

The posters themselves are somewhat ambiguous, unless you speak the code. If you do speak the language of the Scottish Government and Police then what they are saying is that any kind of disagreement with homosexuality, the trans philosophy, or Islam  makes you guilty of hate and you have no place in ‘our’ community. They are selective – Its only certain groups that are mentioned.  Look at what they leave out. They are intimidatory – It is not the job of the police to police our thoughts and hearts.  They can have no idea what we do or do not hate or love.  Their responsibility is to deal with crimes that are committed. They do not have the time, money or ability to deal with our thoughts. But it seems they are going to try.  The new State morality is going to be imposed through education and enforced by the State police – welcome to modern Scotland – the Saudi Arabia of Secularism. They are self-contradictory – A poster which is designed to combat hate – spreads hate.  Imagine a poster which said – ‘Dear bigots, you can’t spread your homosexual hatred here!’. You would be arrested immediately for putting that up.”

Now my turn: A “hate crime” is synonymous with thought crime, because how does one know what the perpetrator harbored in his mind or heart? Hatred is defined as intense dislike or ill will; a “hate crime”, legally, is “a crime motivated by racial, sexual or other prejudice”. First of all, it’s a crime, which means either a felony or a misdemeanor, and is therefore prosecutable. But the problem is with the next word, motivated by….. Statutes say the perpetrator targets the victim because of their perceived membership in a certain group. I have two BIG problems with the whole concept: 1. I have already mentioned that the term itself implies ability to know the motives of a perpetrator, which is pretty much guesswork, and is very subject to a prevailing narrative. The best example I can think of is Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in 1998. I would suggest you do your own research. The narrative was that his murder was a hate crime because he was homosexual. That narrative has been challenged by an author who is himself homosexual, and who has interviewed over 100 people with knowledge of both the victim and the perpetrators. This author insists that Shepard was murdered by a homosexual acquaintance and meth dealer who wanted the meth that he believed Shepard was carrying. Regardless of the actual truth, the original Shepard narrative (along with the murder of James Byrd) was a major factor in expanding federal hate crime legislation to include those motivated by sexual orientation. 2. Is it somehow worse to the victim to be targeted for their race or sexual orientation? If you are beaten senseless and wind up dead or paralyzed, is it any comfort to know that it is being prosecuted as a hate crime? If a victim could somehow go back in time to before the crime, and be forced to choose between a beating due to his race, or the very same beating due to the attacker’s having a bad day, can we presume that a majority would choose the latter? No, we can’t. In fact, interviews with victims, or families of those who were killed, say that a senseless crime feels worse.

Do you think I am getting a little too worked up about this hate crime stuff? Doesn’t really affect you? Mr. Robertson wrote a letter to “Police Scotland” about a religious position being called “hate speech” or a “hate crime.” He received reply from Superintendent David Pettigrew, Equality & Diversity Unit, Specialist Crime Division, Safer Communities, Scottish Crime Campus (sounds Orwellian to me) which contained the following paragraph: “A hate crime is any crime which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated (wholly or partly) by malice and ill-will towards a social group. A hate incident is any incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated (wholly or partly) by malice and ill-will towards a social group but which does not constitute a criminal offence.

The Police Scotland Hate Crime Standing Operating Procedure (SOP) directs that ordinarily, the perception of the victim or any other person is the defining factor, in determining whether an incident is hate related for recording purposes. I would highlight however that although a SOP sets out processes and procedures, it is recognised that there will be circumstances requiring action on the part of officers or staff, which may require them to exercise professional judgement or discretion.”

YEAH, I’M MAKING TOO BIG A DEAL OF IT. WATCH OUT FOR THAT PERCEPTION BANANA PEEL WHILE YOU’RE STANDING ON YOUR RIGHTS….OVER A PRECIPICE! Read the WeaFlea blog here. scots

 

Buy ice cream, fight oppression, yeah!

Ben and Jerry’s ice cream brand tries to be cool, laid back and woke. After all, wasn’t their first flavor Cherry García? If you millennials out there don’t get the significance, have you ever heard the Grateful Dead, or are they “so yesterday”? Anyway, Ben and Jerry’s hypocrisy helps me understand why the dead might be grateful. The company is owned by Unilever. Who dat? Only a British-Dutch transnational which is the world’s largest consumer goods company by revenue, that’s who. Just hours after I published my blog post on cultural appropriation, Ben and Jerry’s announced the release of a new flavor–pecan resist–that will fight oppression and president Trump. Just as there’s no cause effect relationship between my blog post and the new flavor, there’s no cause effect relationship between B and Js new flavor and Unilever’s corporate profits (and since I’m on a roll, no cause effect relationship between Nike sponsoring Colin Kaepernick and their corporate profits). After all, if there’s anything the shareholders of a publicly traded company care about more than profits, it’s being woke (not to be confused with waking up in a shareholder meeting).

Justin Solheim, CEO of Ben and Jerry’s, in an interview with Wharton Business School on January 15, 2016, stated that “if Ben and Jerry go out and say, ‘social justice is not our mission anymore’ it undermines the value of the acquisition.” He was answering the question of whether Unilever would allow Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, whose likenesses adorn (or deface, depending on your perspective on physical attractiveness) every container of the ice cream bearing their name, to continue to preach their mission of “social justice”, after they sold the company to Unilever for heap big moolah i.e. $326 million.

How does ice cream fight oppression, you might ask? Solheim said “it’s hard to be angry while eating ice cream” and “lots of people will stop and sign a petition if free ice cream is offered.” I totally agree with the second contention, but the first is highly questionable. Angry people can be angry no matter what they are eating, though I will grant that ice cream is the food most likely to degrade while you are on your angry rant. So what “social justice” causes is “pecan resist” fighting for? Don’t worry, I will deconstruct the social justice slogan by and by.

The flavor is not new; it used to be called New York Super Fudge Chunk, so only the name and design of the container have changed. The new name is meant to “celebrate activists who continue to resist oppression, harmful environmental practices and injustice.” Man, how can you NOT get down for such lofty ideals?? The label is described as “female forward and multicultural.” Is anyone losing their appetite? The company is donating $25,000 to each of four activist groups: color of change, honor the earth, women’s march and neta. You can look them up, I am not devoting blog space that could be used for my heretofore non-existent sponsors. Hey, maybe Ben and Jerry’s will become my first…or maybe not. So they change the name from a decidedly uptown gentrified vibe to a more activist vibe, more in keeping with the Antifa-style of political action, and the label to attract guilt ridden hoi polloi who would dress like the people on the label if they didn’t fear cultural appropriation backlash.

How much revenue will the renamed flavor generate for Unilever? I would wager a tad more than the $100,000 they are donating. Ben and Jerry’s had about $1.8 billion in sales in 2017, good for 4th place among all brands. Unilever, with 8 of the top 15 brands, racked up a 22% market share, far larger than its next competitor. Ice cream has the highest profit margin of any snack food, 23%. I have tried, but failed, to discover the value of Unilever’s sales or profits on ice cream, but if it’s 4th ranked brand had $1.8 billion in sales, the total sales of all its brands is certainly more than double $1.8 billion. 23% of $1.8 billion is $414 million profit on just Ben and Jerry’s sales, let alone those of the parent company. $100,000 is 2/1000% of that–a rounding error, as they call it. So why are People magazine, a variety of media outlets and personalities touting this new named flavor so much?

It isn’t the amount of money, it’s the thought that counts, right? As I said, their ideals have a lofty sound, as does social justice. What grinch wouldn’t want that stuff? But shouldn’t we consider what all that loftiness looks like on the ground? In 2009 they changed the name of Chubby Hubby to Hubby Hubby to celebrate legalization of same sex mirage marriage in Vermont. Their enthusiasms are sexual deviants’ rights, taxing the United States for the future effects of global warming, in the streets political activism, especially by angry women, and immigrants’ rights. I for one am happy that Ben and Jerry’s is so stingy about their social justice.

Addendum to post: I just read a company statement about their ice cream, to whit: Alongside all those nutty chunks, this pint packs a powerful message under its lid: together, we can build a more just and equitable tomorrow. We can peacefully resist the Trump administration’s regressive and discriminatory policies and build a future that values inclusivity, equality, and justice for people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, refugees, and immigrants. Pecan Resist supports four organizations that are working on the front lines of the peaceful resistance, building a world that supports their values. Obviously, there are more “nutty chunks” in B and J’s marketing dept. under the lid!!!

”Redistribution of free speech” rights, meet “cultural appropriation”.

Who can say what they want to, about whomever they want, out in the open, in either the United States or anywhere else, without suffering unpleasant consequences? Probably no one. Then what does “freedom of speech” mean in 2018? Who determines what is acceptable, and what consequences will be applied to unacceptable speech? Has speech become just another right to be redistributed according the prevailing thought police? What are some other freedoms that now require the approval of the perfectionist progressive* mavens? *I use this term to denote those who act like they are the arbiters of acceptability; others call them liberals, leftists, radicals, etc.

How about being able to wear what you want, or eat what you want, or cook or sell what you want? No to all of those, if in the process you “appropriate” a culture not your own. I am a 72 year old U.S. born, Caucasian heterosexual (cisgender?) male, born into a Jewish household, and declared myself to belong to Christ at age 40. So here’s a “cultural appropriation” quiz. If I am walking the streets of Portland, Oregon or Seattle, Washington, can I do the following without being harassed, threatened, or jeered by the perfectionist progressives of that city? I will list the activities, you will mark either A for acceptable, or for the unacceptable activities, H for harassment, T for throwing stuff at me, or S for stomping me, on the line provided. Ready?

1. Wear a: sombrero____; tribal headdress ____; bra under my shirt ____; bra over my shirt ____; camouflage paint _____; war paint _____; paint stained wife beater _____; women’s clothing entirely ______; women’s and men’s clothing combined ____; burqa ____; speedo only ____.

2. Speak with: a lisp _____; a fake Mexican accent _____; any non English language _____; ebonics _____; proper (white) English diction _____ ; rapping _____; yapping _____.

3. Set up my own: taco stand _____; soba noodle joint _____; falafel cart _____; hotdog and apple pie cart _____; slideshow about cannibalism around the world _____.

4. Have a meal at a: Chinese restaurant _____; Mexican restaurant _____; Ethiopian restaurant (unless they really need my business) _____; hotdog and apple pie emporium _____; Korean karaoke bar _____.

5. For Halloween costumes: blackface _____; fatsuit _____; dark glasses and cane _____; dark glasses and caning a seeing eye dog _____; zombie makeup _____; tomahawk and loincloth _____; just the loincloth _____.

Now let’s grade your answers. For question 1, all answers would be either H or T, except for A for burqa since no one could be sure, especially if I wore a padded bra, that I wasn’t a Muslim woman. But if the wind blew the burqa up to reveal hairy legs, then the correct answer would definitely be S. If you saw me in a speedo, you would want me to add C, for cover up, to the list of responses.

For question 2, H and T would be correct for all. Why correct for my actual normal speech, English diction? Because it sounds, as we used to say, hifalutin. Oh well, my bad. Yapping would get an S from PETA members, who overwinter en masse in Portland.

For question 3, taco, soba and falafel are all cultural appropriation, but the Japanese tend not to mind imitation, since they built their auto industry on that revered principle, so soba would get an A, as would hotdogs and apple pie, and cannibalism would get an emphatic S, unless the cannibals were wearing white face.

Question 4 is a trick question, since even in Portland and Seattle keeping restaurants in business overrides cultural appropriation. Why? So protesters will not run out of restaurant windows to break during their riots over cultural appropriation!

Question 5 would have been unanimous in getting S for every response except for zombies, but they are soon to be added to the “protected classes”, to give Trump something to tweet insults about, since he’s run out of insults about the other protected classes. So S for every response, and for Halloween itself (I hate people knocking on my door at night holding out hands and baskets for teeth-rotting sugar, especially since sugar, or was it cotton, maybe both, made slavery economically viable). 

Princeton university, once under the leadership of the most brilliant theologian America had produced, now offers students guidelines on acceptable Halloween costumes. Their first question to ask is “is my costume making fun of a group of people.” My question is, “so what?” People who take offense at, or dwell on, or obsess about being made fun of, are people I don’t want to have a beer with anyway. Now right here, you might expect a disclaimer saying it’s not okay to make fun of races, ethnic groups, sexual orientations or sundry other human characteristics. You won’t get that disclaimer from me. Having been part of military units and sports teams–two of the most cohesive human working groups–and experienced the never ending mock insults about every foible or trait, every race, ethnicity and physical characteristic, I have come to realize that stuff actually helps bind the individual into the unit, because they are all working together towards a common goal. That’s the key. Offense-mongers aren’t working together towards anything except winning the victimization sweepstakes.

Now for an interlude of reason.

From David D’Amato, writing on thehill.com.:  “But the idea that culture is something susceptible to appropriation assumes that culture is owned by a membership in a particular racial or ethnic group. Fundamentally, cultural appropriation requires us to believe that culture is a dead thing. However, culture is a living thing, forever changing and blending with other cultures at its margins. Cultures have never been hermetically sealed from one another, self-contained and exclusive of outside influences. Each one is necessarily a mixture or an agglomeration of its influences. A culture doesn’t spring to life fully formed, a platonic ideal that generated itself from nothing. The idea of cultural appropriation presents a demarcation problem: Where are we to draw the line that separates permissible from impermissible behavior? Is it permissible for a white American to practice yoga or become a rapper? Perhaps a Cinco de Mayo party is an example of impermissible cultural appropriation, or maybe it depends on how many people of Mexican heritage are participating. Any rules that attempt to distinguish cases, to map lines of demarcation are sure to be arbitrary and absurd. When people treat other cultures with derision and disrespect, the problem is not cultural appropriation but cruelty, hatred and racism. A simpler lesson is, in such cases, called for: Don’t be a jerk. Treat people with respect, as autonomous equals with valuable lessons to impart about who they are, where they’re from, and what’s important to them. 

Just as there is no such thing as a pure race or ethnic group, so are there no pure cultures, unmixed with others, their essence uncorrupted. The toxic notion of cultural appropriation breathes new life into old racist attitudes, discouraging us from finding new opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue and exchange. Our small-minded, parochial and plain ridiculous worries about cultural appropriation are robbing us of both opportunities to learn from and simply have fun with each other.LET’S HAVE SOME FUN…

FOR THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE OF CULTURAL APPROPRIATION, DO YOU REMEMBER MICHAEL JACKSON’S SONG THRILLER. HERE IS THE UPDATED VERSION…TRIGGER trigger

Rhetoric inspires or kills.

Rhetoric: “Language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content.”

Ben Shapiro: “In terms of mental health, the American  body politic is like a series of concentric circles: a core of mentally healthy people who won’t commit political violence no matter what, a larger group of people who can easily distinguish heated rhetoric from violently inciting rhetoric, and a very small fringe of people, often mentally ill, who could react violently to heated rhetoric. Our law and morality has never held that rhetoric’s effect on that small fringe outweighs the actual content or intent of the speech. To do so would be to attack the core of speech.”

The following rhetoric is actual, I’m not making it up for satire: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says it’s time for Americans to “ditch dairy” because it’s a “symbol used by white supremacists.”

White supremacists are guzzling cow milk in an effort to mock people of color who are lactose intolerant 😡 https://t.co/HyCzd4wfjc
— PETA ❤️🦊 (@peta) October 22, 2018

While the PETA rhetoric is unconsciously so self satirical that even many of their followers condemned it, Western Europe is continually rolling over and showing its naked belly to rhetorical tyranny. I often distinguish between Western and Eastern Europe, because the former is foolish and self hating, while the latter, having suffered the glories of communism and totalitarianism, are willing to take a stand against the modern incarnations of tyranny.

Andrew McCarthy in National Review: “Nearly four years ago, when Europe bowed to the mob and curbed its tongue following the jihadist massacre at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, I tried to explain the stakes in a pamphlet called Islam and Free Speech. If a society is to be a functioning, flourishing, free society, it must safeguard the robust exchange of knowledge and ideas. Absent that, the rule of reason dies, and with it freedom of conscience, equality before the law, due process, property rights, and equality of opportunity.

“Islamists and their transnational-progressive allies seek to redefine democracy as a guarantee of domestic tranquility, on the road to global tranquility in a post-Westphalian order. It is a sweet-sounding roadmap to tyranny, in which “tranquility” is enforced Soviet-style, with an official version of history and truth that is not open to question or debate. Your “freedom” to speak is strictly limited to those confines. Sounds like Newspeak in 1984.

“There is no free speech in Islam. Sharia states do not merely forbid speech that insults or denigrates Islam; they regard as blasphemy — and punish with cruelty — any form of expression that casts Islam in an unfavorable light. What the vestiges of Western civilization are coming to: I say something that is true; it hurts your feelings, so — of course — you blow up a building; and it’s my fault.”

But rhetoric has also helped save the free world from tyranny, out of the mouth and pen of people of courage. I give you a big one here, Winston Churchill: “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject. An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” “Personally I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.” “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” “When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.” “I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this Government: ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” “Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Rhetoric has also helped discredit racism among the majority of fair-minded people. Martin Luther King:”Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” “There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

I love good rhetoric, it opens the mind, it distinguishes humankind from animals, it inspires and transforms hearts. Bad rhetoric incites fools to evil and stupidity. It occurs to me as I am writing this, that it takes relatively few words to inspire, but many words repeated ad nauseum to incite. Note the examples of Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King jr., brief but eloquent, their words helped transform the world. In raising children, don’t you find that words have the power to lift their spirits, or to crush them?

I want to end with some proverbs from King Solomon, to whom God said, “Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.” 1 Kings 3:12.

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”
“Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear. “

“Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give. “

“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”

“Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.”

 “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

“For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.”
“As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.”

“Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.”

“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”

“One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.”

“He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.”

A dire warning to Google-heads.

I am calling you a Google-head if your attitude towards learning is “why should I learn it if I can google it?” Of course, google now being shorthand for internet search, I could just as easily substitute Bing, Yahoo or others for Google and the problem would be the same. What problem? Let me illustrate with a personal example. I was born in 1946 and was supremely healthy for the next 50 years. Suddenly, in one year, I was diagnosed with cancer and myasthenia gravis, and suffered a catastrophic knee tendon injury. I recovered, except from the M.G., from which there’s no recovery. Still, my health remained good, my cognition above average, my endurance was more like a 50 year old than a 66 year old. Weirdo that I am, I continued my habit of reading a book a week, formed in 1969.

Suddenly, March 11, 2016, despite over 50 years of healthy eating, regular exercise and rare alcohol use, everything good about my physical body crashed in the form of a stroke. I was standing at the stove, preparing dinner, reflecting on all my good fortune, when my left foot began turning into water. That’s how it felt. Fortunately, somehow I knew this was a stroke, and I grabbed for my cellphone as I crashed to the ground, paralyzed. I lay there helpless, as our two cats were nosing me, aware that something was wrong (maybe they were worried about not getting fed tonight). Gradually, I became aware that it was my entire left side that was paralyzed, and I was able to call 911 using my right hand. My dominant thought was “I hope I left the front door unlocked so they don’t have to break it down”.

During the next two months of rehabilitation, I was tested both physically and cognitively. Physically, it was a very uphill battle, but cognitively, I now seemed to be renewed. Please don’t read this as boasting, I can’t take credit for it. But the lead speech therapist, whose main responsibility was cognitive testing, told me something shocking. After he had failed to stump me in any test or problem, and finally ran out of materials to test me on, said I tested higher than anyone he worked with his entire career, including people who never had a stroke. I could see for myself that I was able to solve problems that I would have previously given up on. We both theorized on how this could be. When I told him about my reading habits, that was his ah ha moment. Reading and learning new stuff creates new neural pathways in the brain. I apparently developed so many alternative pathways that I didn’t need. They were there, and the stroke destroyed some old pathways and stimulated the use of new ones that had been dormant.

Now, the warning. Hopefully you will never suffer a stroke, dementia, or other nervous system breakdown, because if you are not reading and memorizing, learning and organizing your thinking, but instead entertaining yourself by passive watching, and using internet search for more entertainment instead of information to learn, you are probably not developing much in the way of new neural pathways. When you need them, they may not be there. A good friend visited me in my second week of rehabilitation. He said he was nervous about what he would find. Would my personality be different? Would I have lost my sense of humor? Would I be able to think and communicate? He had friends and family members who suffered strokes and were never the same person. He was relieved, I was actually funnier and quicker than before. I ascribe that to being a readaholic, not a Google-head. 

Nameless Crimes and Memory Holes.

Franz Kafka and George Orwell both understood hopelessness, embodied by a monolithic system, and the will to fight against it. That will, at least in their novels, could not survive the relentless assault of hypocrisy and arbitrariness that is the heart of all totalitarian systems.

In Kafka’s The Trial, Joseph K, an estranged and self-absorbed citizen, is the victim of anonymous governing forces beyond his control. Deceived by authoritarian power, he is relentlessly harassed for a crime that remains nameless. Finding himself arrested and awaiting trial, K sinks deeper and deeper in this hall of mirrors that his life has become. In Kafka, the institution is a mechanism that obeys its own laws; no one knows now who programmed those laws or when; they have nothing to do with human concerns and are thus unintelligible. Resigned to his fate, though still questioning the situation, Joseph K. does not protest his execution at the end of the book. In following Joseph K.’s struggle toward absolution, the novel presents us with a moving account of what it is to be born naked and defenseless into a completely incomprehensible system.

In George Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, the memory hole is the mechanism for the alteration or disappearance of inconvenient or embarrassing documents, photographs, transcripts or other records, to give the impression that something never happened. Winston Smith works for The Party’s Ministry of Truth, which systematically re-created all potential historical documents, in effect, re-writing all of history to match the often-changing state propaganda. These changes were complete and undetectable. Winston, like Joseph K, is most definitely estranged from the governing authority, represented by The Party, Ingsoc. In the end, Winston’s brief rebellion against the system is snuffed out by the prospect of being consigned to room 101, which contains each person’s greatest fear. How could the system be certain that Winston truly embraced it after his rebellion? The only way to avoid his own room 101 was by abandoning his beloved, Julia, to her room 101.

Both Kafka and Orwell understood the power of language to enable oppression and create hopelessness. In 1984, the mechanisms used by the Party were “Doublethink” and “Newspeak”. In The Trial, the authorities pleaded ignorance of the charges of the nameless crime while zealously carrying out the orders of a nameless hierarchy. The words they use are cleansed of universal meanings, such as when an official tells K, “it’s true that you’re under arrest but that shouldn’t stop you from doing your job, and there shouldn’t be anything to stop you from carrying on your normal life.”

In the same way, Winston’s bureaucratic persecutor informs him, “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”

While the Party in 1984 intended to eliminate thought crimes, today we have another  Party that is manufacturing thought crimes. Hint: hate speech, hate crimes, political correctness, safe spaces, campus speech codes. Whom is all that stuff associated with? As with Newspeak the immediate goal is to narrow the range of acceptable thoughts. Unlike Ingsoc, we don’t have either the technology or the surveillance–at least I hope not–to completely eliminate thoughtcrime, that is, individualism, so the alternative method, is to create so many more crimes through speech codes that their long term goal–shutting you up–will be realized.

The truth about “dog whistle” politics.

My comments in red. “Dog-whistle” politics, according to some prevailing definitions, is political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different, or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup (says who?). The analogy (whose analogy?) is to a dog whistle, whose ultrasonic whistling sound is heard by dogs but inaudible to humans (and used to attract a dumb animal). The term can be distinguished from “code words” used in some specialist professions, in that dog-whistling is specific to the political realm. The messaging referred to as the dog-whistle has an understandable meaning for a general audience, rather than being incomprehensible

According to William Safire, the term “dog-whistle” in reference to politics may have been derived from its use in the field of opinion polling. Safire quotes Richard Morin, director of polling for The Washington Post, as writing in 1988, subtle changes in question-wording sometimes produce remarkably different results... researchers call this the ‘Dog Whistle Effect’: Respondents hear something in the question that researchers do not (which is true of most messages between two people). Australian political theorist Robert E. Goodin argues that the problem with dog-whistling is that it undermines democracy, because if voters have different understandings of what they were supporting during a campaign, the fact that they were seeming to support the same thing is “democratically meaningless(this term itself is meaningless).

Now let’s analyze the presuppositions in these statements. “Coded language” implies that someone created the codes, that the codes are known and understood by the group to whom they are addressed, and that there is an encryption key somewhere that can reveal what the “dog-whistler” is really saying. “Subtle changes in question wording produce different results.” Really? As Steve Martin says, “well excuuuse meee”. Isn’t that one of the most basic complications of human communication? The spoken word has even more potential for breakdown in communicating than the written word, due to the complicating factors of tone and volume of voice, facial expression and other non verbal cues. As to what the “political theorist” (could any job description be more pregnant with implications?) Robert Goodin argues, it isn’t the so-called “dog whistling” that interferes with voters having a common understanding of what the politicians are saying, it’s the very nature of human communication itself. Each person creates their own meaning of words through the filters of their individual experience, intelligence, analytical ability and neurological wiring.

My central contentions are: The use of the term “dog whistle” is meant to convey contempt for the hearers of the so-called coded messages; human communication is, by its very nature, fraught with personalized, internal meanings; therefore, attaching a pejorative label–dog whistling–to political messages is equating the intelligence of the intended audience for the message to that of animals. If I am correct, it would be instructive to look at who uses the term most frequently. I used the two most popular search engines, Google and Bing, to search “examples of dog whistle politics.” I was looking for how commonly that term is applied to a particular political party or audience. The search results were very clear: Every reference through the initial pages of both search engines were of Democrats accusing Republicans of dog whistling. I stopped searching after a few pages after I found no references of Republicans accusing Democrats of dog whistling.

You might argue, “well, that’s because Republicans do it and Democrats don’t.” I would argue, “no, it’s because Democrats harbor more contempt for their opponents and feel freer to express it than Republicans.” My argument is truer, since the term “dog whistling” itself is a pejorative label for the normal complexities of human communication. Further proof of my contention: Isn’t “racist” still the dirtiest connotation for prejudice? The majority of the time that “dog-whistle” is used to denigrate a Republican message, “racist” preceded it. Maybe voters are smarter than Democrats give them credit for. Despite all the “racist dog-whistling” that Republicans are accused of, they are gaining minority voters. For example, is the phrase “law and order” merely a dog-whistle for racism, or does it actually denote the importance of every day security? For those who live in a neighborhood overrun with drugs and gang violence, would law and order be a desired state or a racist dog-whistle?

Contempt for political opponents, expressed as equating the behavior and intelligence of their supporters to animals, physical and emotional harassment of public officials wherever they are, including their homes, screaming opprobrium from the gallery at anyone they disagree with, unsupported and flamboyant accusations as a means of opposition to legal proceedings….Need I go on. Whose tactics are these? Well, they did work for Hitler, until they didn’t. Case in point: little hitler

We Pledge Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor…

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” From American Heritage magazine: When the Continental Congress opened its session of Friday, August 2, 1776, in Philadelphia, the major business of the day was to continue a somewhat moribund debate on the Articles of Confederation. An incidental piece of business was the signing, by all the delegates to the Congress, of an engrossed copy of the Declaration of Independence—a matter which John Adams did not consider sufficiently important to mention in his diary of the day’s events. There is little evidence that the actual signing struck any delegates, other than the impressionable Ellery and the dramaturgic Hancock, as one of the great moments in history. The delegation from Massachusetts, where the war had been going on for well over a year, thought it was long overdue, and Samuel Adams grumbled constantly about its lateness. The fifty-six men who were to achieve an immortality, the true dimensions of which seem clearly to have escaped all of them, represented no single stratum of colonial life. They were of varied backgrounds, ages, education, property, and experience. But none signed casually. They were clearly aware, as Abraham Clark of New Jersey put it, that they would have “freedom or a halter.” All but four signers risked their lives and fortunes in spite of considerable family obligations. There is no doubt that the signers of the Declaration knew they were up to something far more serious than making a brave gesture when they put their signatures on the document. Indeed, for reasons of security, the Declaration with the signatures was not published until January, 1777—six months after the signing—for it was fully understood that if the Revolution failed, the signers would be rounded up, their property confiscated, and their lives forfeited. Altogether seventeen of the signers suffered extreme, and in some cases total, property losses. One in nine of them lost his life. But not one man of the fifty six lost his “sacred honor.”  Throughout the long ordeal of an often-floundering war, in a cause that at times seemed hopelessly lost, there was not among the fifty-six men a single defection—despite the reservations that some had had about independence at the beginning and despite the repeated sagging of popular support for the war.

Sacred honor, what an archaic idea, at least by the “standards” of modern times. Honor is what? Military colleges like West Point, paramilitary colleges like The Citadel, religious colleges like Notre Dame have honor codes, which they tend to enforce. Other types of colleges also have honor codes, though enforcement is more lax. Certain religions believe in honor killings, though whose, and what kind of honor is at stake is questionable. At the very least, honor is truthfulness. But how can honor be sacred? Sacred to whom? Perhaps the hint is contained in those concluding words of the Declaration, “with a firm reliance on Divine Providence.” In other words, maybe God, Divine Providence, sanctifies honor and makes it sacred. These colonists, militarily unschooled, lacking in resources, divided in their loyalties, with patriots against tories, by this Declaration of Independence, went to war against the world’s preeminent military power, Great Britain. Darn right they needed to rely on Divine intervention.

That was then. Now we have the proof that our model constitution, copied by other nations, works, at least for over 240 years, but we also have a surfeit of politicians and politics. The servants of the people are awash in perquisites, privileges and pandering, but honor? Not so much. I have no hesitation saying that George Washington is my favorite President. He’s the only one who didn’t want the job, resisted being acclaimed king, and wanted nothing more than to return to his home and provide for his family. Compare that to politicians today. Where did honor go?

Income Inequality, a shibboleth for our time!

In late October, 2018, someone in South Carolina won the mega millions lottery prize of $1.356 billion. Almost everyone else who bought tickets won nothing. In fact, they lost what they had spent on the tickets. As the amount of the prize grew, more and more people bought tickets, thus increasing the odds of their winning. I haven’t heard any complaints about income inequality. It must be a great system. The more people who participate by buying tickets, the higher the prize climbs while simultaneously the chance of any individual winning the prize diminishes proportionally. Could there be a greater example of income inequality than one person winning $1.356 billion and millions of others winning zero while paying for the privilege?

Jeff Bezos, the founder and chairman of Amazon, is currently, at least momentarily, the world’s wealthiest person, as measured by the market value of Amazon stock he owns. I hedge my position by using the words “currently” and “momentarily”, because equity wealth, as in stocks or real estate, is based on a somewhat arbitrary concept of “market value”, which is formally defined as “what a willing and informed buyer is willing to pay a willing seller.” While use of “willing” three times in a single sentence no doubt violates editorial standards, it is apt, because it denotes the following: it is temporary, it can change, it is subjective, and it is voluntary. Mr. Bezos’ stock value is based on the decisions of millions of shareholders, each of whom believe that the purchase of Amazon stock will increase their own wealth. So far, they are right. I bought amazon stock in 1998, when the share price was $4.79. On September, 2018, share price is $2,003. I should be rich! But I’m not. Thinking that the world was going to collapse on January 1, 2000 due to Y2K, I sold my Amazon stock for about $64 a share in 1999. Then I invested the proceeds in a small startup company that proposed to create a non-addictive analgesic from the venom of a poisonous snail. Eventually that company went under and I never recovered my investment. I bet on the wrong horse. The looming question now is, “whom should I blame?” Perhaps even a better question, for those who trust in God, is “am I a steward worthy of having my wealth management responsibilities increased?

Jeff is a billionaire, I not, despite all my 50+ years of hard work and my graduate level education. Shall I blame “structural discrimination”, you know, racism, sexism, ageism, genderism and assorted other “isms”? Nope! I’m white, old and not rich, born Jewish to boot, so there’s no excuse for me. The real structural problem is between my ears, and yours. I was riding a bus one day, and picked up a copy of Inc Magazine that someone had left behind. I read an article about a computer company that some university of Texas student named Michael Dell started out of his dorm room. The article predicted his model would really take off, and the company would soon be going public. As it turned out, the initial public offering price, which the general public usually can’t buy, was $8.50 a share in 1988. The stock quadrupled in value the next 4 years. I thought, when I read the article, “what a dumb idea”. Who’s dumb now?

But material wealth is a measure of what? If you believe in God who owns everything and who created you, material wealth is not something you own, rather something you manage as a steward for the real owner, God. The story of Robert LeTourneau is instructive. God gave him the ability to design powerful earth moving equipment, and he in turn resolved to give back to God’s work 90% of his income. But behold, as his income, and thus his management ability grew, no matter how much he gave away, the 10% he retained just kept growing. The miserly experience the opposite phenomenon. Are you generous? You will be able to grow in generosity. Are you miserly? You will grow in that too!

If you want to reduce your own income inequality, here’s the simple steps that will make all the difference. Save either 5% or 10% of your earnings before spending anything; create a budget which tracks your income, all spending, and allots a certain percentage of income for saving and giving (here’s where you will find out how much you can save without pinching your lifestyle); as your savings increase, decide how much needs to remain in savings as a cash reserve for emergencies–three to six months worth of expenses is recommended–and invest the rest. When I use the terms “save and “invest”, here’s what I mean: savings are very low or no risk of loss of value, very easily accessible without penalties, and consequently very low prospect of growth, like bank accounts; investments are the opposite of those characteristics, with prominent examples being stock mutual funds. If you want details consult with a financial planner, but following these steps WILL build wealth and cure your own structural inequality! That is, as long as you show yourself to God as a worthy steward.

The way to a better life or an invasion by another name?

WASHINGTON, 10/25/2018—Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to sign an order Thursday sending 800 or more troops to reinforce the U.S. southern border in anticipation of the arrival of a migrant caravan, officials said Thursday. President Donald Trump has called the approaching caravan, estimated at 7,000 people strong, a national emergency. The group departed today from Mapastepec, Mexico, more than 1,000 miles from the U.S. border. Mexican officials said nearly 1,700 migrants have dropped out of the caravan to apply for asylum in Mexico, and a few hundred have accepted government offers to bus them back to their home countries. A second, smaller caravan of Hondurans is also headed for the Mexican border. Estimates place its size at between 1,000 and 2,000 travelers. The second caravan is currently in Guatemala, about 200 miles behind the first group. It began on March 25 in the Mexican city of Tapachula, near the Guatemala border. The largest single group of migrants in this caravan is from Honduras, although there are also many Guatemalans and Salvadorans. There’s also bound to be a smattering, or more, of criminals, Islamic terrorists terrorists?, media fame hustlers, political agitators and other flotsam.

Violence in Central America continues to cause people to flee, despite falling homicide rates. Murders in Honduras and El Salvador fell by about 25 percent in 2017, but both are still among the most violent countries in the world. Street gangs known as “maras” are also ubiquitous and prey on small business owners and families through extortion. Many migrants this year said they joined the caravan because they felt there was safety in numbers while they traveled along the route from Mexico to the U.S. border. There is significant violence perpetrated by gangs who prey on migrants on the final leg north. I should add, there’s also a lot more to this spectacle than meets the eye. The timing is certainly interesting, coming as it does just before significant midterm elections in the United States. While the explanations given for the mass invasion attempt (whatever else it is, if it were successful in meeting it’s stated goal, it would be an invasion) sound plausible, and certainly apply to the real pawns migrants, who knows how much of this is really staged?

If the real migrants want to better their lives, I have a better, more long lasting, if more radical solution. I am not joking. If I were fleeing my home due to violence, I would welcome the opportunity to fight back. But fight back against whom? Most of the violence in the Central American countries and Mexico is due to drug cartels, and the corruption among the police departments and other authorities who are in the pay of the drug cartels. So how can a bunch of peasants who have no military training or weapons, take on the organized and powerful drug cartels? What if the United States were to say to the migrants, “you can’t come here, but if you want to fight for your homes and your future, we will equip you and train you.” Think of this as an updated Bay of Pigs counterattack. “That didn’t work out”, you say? My idea is very different.

These “re-patriots” would not be trying to overthrow a government, nor invading from the sea, like in Cuba. They would have the support of the populace, because that’s who they themselves are and what they want is the same as what everyone back home wants, except the drug cartels and corrupt police and politicians. They aren’t soldiers, but with the proper training and equipment, they would be formidable. An idea like this cannot be done halfway. If we are going to suggest and support it, so that these migrants can have a real impact on their own country and lives, we must be willing to give them every chance of success, even if it means deployment of American air power. The actual military tactics and logistics are beyond the scope of this blog, but isn’t the idea sound? After all, if you were offered the choice between leaving your homes and families to a corrupt Wolfpack, and wandering around trying to get into countries that don’t want you so you can constantly worry about being deported, vs. taking back what is rightfully yours and determining your own future, even at the risk of your life, what would you choose? Of course, I am putting this question to the real migrants, not the agitators, criminals and terrorists trying to infiltrate. If our Founding Fathers had not risen to the challenge of fighting for their homes and freedom, where would we be today?