Speaking truth when there’s much to lose.

is there anyone who doesn’t know me?

At 29 minutes, 30 seconds or so of episode 7, season 7 of Game of Thrones, Jon Snow, everyone’s hero, refused to make a vow that he couldn’t keep, even though saying the words might have saved the world. What he did say (my paraphrase is close) might be the key to why he is possibly the most admired character in G of T. “I cannot swear to something I do not mean to keep. If lies can be told so casually, then words will eventually mean nothing.” Eventually? He couldn’t be referring to our world, our politics, our relationships, our media, our religions, ourselves, could he?

At 45 minutes into the same episode, one of the most deceptive and least admirable characters, “Littlefinger(?)” Petyr Baelish, like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, tries to sow distrust of Arya in the mind of hers and Jon’s sister Sansa. Like the serpent, his goal is to use “reasonable” words to deceive. “When I wonder about someone’s motives, I play a little game. I try to imagine the worst reason someone could have for suggesting something?” Soon he is hoist on his own petard, or rather his words are thrown back at him, followed by the swipe of Arya’s dagger against his throat.

As a former student and “master practitioner” (kind of a Meester) of neuro-linguistic programming, NLP, I was taught that words mean far more than we usually imagine. Words we speak or say to ourselves actually represent a mental map of how we access and process information stored in our minds. We can and do deceive ourselves with words. Words we say to ourselves and others create our history, much of which never happened, at least not the way we prefer to imagine. Words are associated in our minds with pictures, sounds, feelings, smells and tastes. If I knew what your favorite food is, I could cause you to salivate by describing that food in words. How can words provoke autonomic reactions? Words are power, they are our reality.

It’s a well known fact that recall of names and recent events slows down considerably as we age. Imagine your mind as a vast library, and words as the filing system for all your knowledge and experience. For example, someone says a name to you, like Jon Snow or Sansa Stark, and you soon see a face, if you’ve watched G of T. But how? The picture of the face was stored from before, and the name, the words, trigger the neurons responsible for searching the mental library for the face. The older you get, the slower the process, and the more likely the attempt to find the file will get sidetracked into the wrong file. The exact processes by which information is pulled from memory are unknown, but are more often triggered by words than anything else.

I called this post, “Speaking truth when there’s much to lose.” How does a person decide, at the moment of the vow or promise or statement, to speak truth or falsehood? There are really only two decision making processes. Jon Snow represents one, the better one, which I call principle based. Baelish represents the other, inferior one, which I call expediency based. Jon said, in effect, he had already decided a long time ago to only vow what he meant—the principle. Baelish would coldly calculate possible gains or losses from different vows, then say whatever he thought would gain the most or lose the least—the expediency. His way cost him his life in the end. Too bad every liar can’t see the future.

TDS

Not BDS (boycott divestment sanctions); it’s BS, like BDS, but it’s TDS. Trump Derangement Syndrome. WashingtonPost.com headlines just today: Women all around the world will suffer because of Trump policies; Would Trump start a war to boost his 2020 chances?; Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims; Voters have had it with Trump; Trump’s latest corrupt moves demand a tougher response; We can’t fight white supremacists when Trump supports them; Trump blames NRA’s woes on New York’s governor and attorney general; populist economic frustration threatens Trump’s strongest reelection issue.

I didn’t vote for President Trump, nor did I vote for President Obama, but they were duly elected and regardless of the fact that I don’t like either man, I still refer to them as “President.” That’s the proper title. I much prefer President Trump‘s policies to President Obama’s. Enough to vote for him this time around? Yes, and my vote will reflect less about my politics than it will be an expression of two other factors: my extreme distaste for ALL the contenders And their politics, and TDS. Yes, thanks WaPo, CNN, MSNBC, CNN, NY Times, CNN, MSNBC, did I mention CNN and MSNBC? My iPad has trained itself that whenever I type WaPo, it then suggests CNN and MSNBC. I wonder why? Anyway, these usual suspects’ reporting has actually helped drive me into the Donald’s camp. So has the following:

Rod Dreher in Theamericanconservative.com: From CBS series The Good Fight, a monologue directed to the audience: “Is it alright to hit a Nazi unprovoked? I was always taught never to throw the first punch, never to instigate. Defend, but don’t attack. But then I saw a video of the white nationalist Richard Spencer being punched in the face during an interview. I realized Spencer was in a pressed suit, wearing a tie, being interviewed like his opinion mattered — like it should be considered part of the conversation, like neo-Nazism is just one political point of view. And then I realized there’s no better way to show some speech is not equal. Some speech requires a more visceral response. It’s like Overton’s window — that’s the term for which ideas are tolerated in public discourse. Well, Overton’s window doesn’t mean shit unless it comes with some enforcement. So yeah, this is enforcement. It’s time to punch a few Nazis.” Mr. Dreher then observed, “Having taken the position that ‘some speech is not equal,’ and that there is ‘no better way’ to demonstrate that than to beat up unpopular speakers, what is the limiting principle, CBS? What would you, CBS, say to some right-wing person who attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar over her words, you having promoted the point of view that violence is the best way to set the limits on free speech?”

Ah, Mr. Dreher, CBS (and yes, CNN, MSNBC, WaPo and their ilk, or is that irk?) are never wrong!! Being an SJW, morally superior beings, means never being wrong, sorry or culpable!🙅🏽‍♀️🤦🏽‍♀️🤷🏽‍♂️💁🏿‍♀️

The Tribunal. Humor dies in darkness.

Mike Ward

The Washington Post says on their masthead, “Democracy dies in darkness.” Maybe, but humor certainly does. My favorite comedy, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Seinfeld could never appear on tv these days. While it might appear superficially that hypersensitivity has killed satire, perhaps it’s really satire that comes too close to the truth. One day, Stalin lost his favorite pipe, and directed the MKVD ( the forerunner of the KGB) under Lavrenti Beria to hunt for it. That night, he found it under his pajamas, and directed Beria to call off the hunt. “Impossible”, said Beria, “ three people have already confessed to the crime.” Tell that joke in Stalin’s USSR, and it’s off to the gulag with you. Tell it in Canada, and it’s off to the Tribunal.

From Reason.com: It‘s called the Human Rights Tribunal, but this Canadian government agency could easily be mistaken for the censorship-enforcement arm of an authoritarian country. The tribunal recently fined comedian Mike Ward $42,000 for telling a joke that some people found offensive. The joke concerned Jeremy Gabriel, a 19-year-old Canadian singer who suffers from Treacher Collins Syndrome, a debilitating disease. Ward’s joke was that the constant media coverage of Gabriel overlooks the fact that “he was supposed to die… why isn’t he dead yet?” Ward suggests that Gabriel “stole a wish” and is now, in fact, unkillable.

When Gabriel’s family heard about the joke, they called the Human Rights Tribunal. Ward then fought them in court, and lost. He has to pay a $42,000 fine: $35,000 to Gabriel, and $7,000 to Gabriel’s mother. Ward told Spiked magazine that he’s appealing the decision. He says that if he ultimately loses the case, he will “just move to Syria or Saudi Arabia or some other country the respects free speech as much as Canada does.”

“Unacceptable remarks made in private do not automatically become lawful just because they’re made by a comedian in the public domain,” wrote Judge Scott Hughes in his decision forcing Ward to pay Gabriel. “Plus, having a such a platform imposes certain responsibilities.” Ward’s mistreatment is a reminder of the importance of the First Amendment—something that doesn’t apply in Canada. But it’s also reminiscent of the current state of free expression on American college campuses, where administrators often behave as if they are not obligated to obey the Constitution.

I didn’t hear the entire joke, but the portion mentioned in the first paragraph was not the least bit funny to me. However, that is no criteria of acceptability. Judging what is “acceptable” or “unacceptable”, we need to ask various questions: Unacceptable to whom, and by what standard? Who is fit to judge what is humorous? What is worse, an unfunny or even offensive joke (offensive to whom?), or the censorship of words that offend someone? That word, acceptable, purports to represent some kind of worthwhile standard, but in Canada it can be dangerous, not to mention expensive.

It should come as no surprise-at least to those of us who are capable of extrapolating the downstream consequences of a trend-that the encouragement to complain generates more…..complaining!

  • 25,000 people contacted the Commission to complain in 2018, surpassing any other year. 19,500 of them did so through the Commission’s new online platform.
  • The number of complaints the Commission accepted in 2018 is the highest in over a decade, at 1,129.
  • The number of accepted complaints citing discrimination on the ground of disability, national or ethnic origin, race, color, religion, and sex were highest in a decade:
    • Race: up by 118%;
    • National or ethnic origin: up by 98%;
    • Religion: up by 73%;
    • Color: up by 68%;
    • Sex: up by 41%;
    • Disability: up by 33%.
  • Disability was the most commonly cited ground of discrimination, at 52% of accepted complaints. Over half of all disability complaints were related to mental health. This represents 27% of all complaints accepted by the Commission in 2018.

Hard teachings

Again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” 2 Samuel:11. The text doesn’t say what kindled God’s anger against Israel, though it was probably one more in an endless backsliding into idolatry. However, two things are abundantly clear: God can be angry, and will use human behavior to punish or rebuke those He is angry with. Does that bother you? Why? The idea of a loving God being angry is unacceptable to you? You’ve been taught that anger is bad, it’s akin to hatred? Many will rush in to protest, “no, you’ve got it all wrong….this passage is an important exception, or it doesn’t belong, or it doesn’t mean what it plainly says, or men changed the words…”

Well then, what do you make of this? After David directed Joab to take a census, God then used that action, which He incited, to punish Israel. This is the choice He gave David through His prophet, Gad: So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me.” Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.” The LORD sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning until the appointed time. And there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba 70,000 men. 2 Samuel 24:13-15.

Whoa, 70,000 men died because David did something that God incited him to do! That’s so unfair! Is it? By what standard? Do you accept the whole Bible as the infallible Word of God? You do? Then what standard are you using to judge these (and many other) passages as unfair? Where do your foundational standards come from? God could have simply killed many more than 70,000 directly, like wiping out Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from heaven, or wiping out humanity in the flood. But He gave David a choice. I won’t even try to justify any of it by saying His way was more humane than direct action. My main point, why I call this post “Hard Teachings”, is…..well, I’m getting to that, but first, something to really offend the spirit of egalitarianism:

As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable right, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Luke 19:11-26

And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ That’s so unfair…..List your own reasons. I won’t attempt to interpret this passage, others have explained better than I can. My main point is “what standards do you use to judge scripture?”

M.A.D. Border Security

Remember the term Mutually Assured Destruction? M.A.D.? The United States and the Soviet Union had huge nuclear arsenals, and the means to deliver nukes anywhere, and mutual distrust. under MAD, each side has enough nuclear weaponry to destroy the other side and that either side, if attacked for any reason by the other, would retaliate with equal or greater force. The expected result is an immediate, irreversible escalation of hostilities resulting in both combatants’ mutual, total, and assured destruction. The doctrine requires that neither side construct shelters on a massive scale. If one side constructed a similar system of shelters, it would violate the MAD doctrine and destabilize the situation, because it would have less to fear from a second strike. The same principle is invoked against missile defense. The payoff of the MAD doctrine was and still is expected to be a tense but stable global peace.

The primary application of this doctrine started during the Cold War (1940s to 1991), in which MAD was seen as helping to prevent any direct full-scale conflicts between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was also responsible for the arms race, as both nations struggled to keep nuclear parity, or at least retain second-strike capability. Although the Cold War ended in the early 1990s, the MAD doctrine continues to be applied. Since the credibility of the threat is critical to such assurance, each side had to invest substantial capital in their nuclear arsenals even if they were not intended for use. In addition, neither side could be expected or allowed to adequately defend itself against the other’s nuclear missiles.

Is there any application of that doctrine to border security? When you read about the philosophy behind it, it seems perfect for satire, but it worked, didn’t it? Really really think carefully about how things were when Ronald Reagan was President just before the USSR broke up, or the brinkmanship of President Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis. How did war not break out? The real, underlying goal of M.A.D. was saving lives. While it seems counterintuitive to say the power to harm can save lives, I want to give you my favorite example. During the Vietnam war, a Marine Corps sniper, Carlos Hathcock, was probably our single most feared soldier by the enemy. He was so stealthy and so deadly that just the suspicion that he was overwatch of a base camp was enough to keep the enemy away. The normal bounty the Vietcong put on a sniper was $1,000-$2,000, but on Hathcock it was $30,000. “I really didn’t like the killing,” he once told a reporter. “You’d have to be crazy to enjoy running around the woods, killing people. But if I didn’t get the enemy, they were going to kill the kids over there.” Saving American lives is something Hathcock took to heart. One time just he and his spotter killed an entire company of NVA over a 5 day engagement, possibly saving many Americans. So fear of consequences, backed up by consistent actions in the past, or a realistic assessment of future actions, can and has forestalled greater unwanted consequences. MAD.

If you read my post yesterday about our southern border, you know that the situation is out of control, to no one’s benefit. I sympathize with the plight of the migrants, especially the families and the young children, and I also firmly believe we have a right to control access to our country and a duty to uphold both our laws and border security. I have in the past advocated direct military aid and assistance to those Latin American countries that need to suppress and destroy criminal gangs and drug cartels in order for their people to have more secure lives, as the best long term solution to massive migration. In the more immediate present, given the very low likelihood that any of those governments request our help or would be willing to accept it, how do we reduce the migrant assault on our border to manageable numbers?

Possible strategies, objections in italics:

1. Improve conditions in their home countries enough that very few would brave the hardships of trying to migrate to the United States. That would have to include rooting out corrupt officials, disarming or killing violent criminal gangs and drug cartels. Those criminals who give up their arms and surrender to authorities would be sent to work camps to grow crops, plant trees or do other useful manual labor. This would be my preferred solution. Governments in question not likely to cooperate. They may even want to get rid of their refugees.

2. Build physical barriers to entering that are even more difficult to surmount than what we have. Any visible physical barrier can be climbed over or tunneled under, but such efforts would result in more deaths and injuries; politically unsustainable.

3. Change asylum policies to include exclusions for asylum, like they do with insurance policies. Sample exclusions: anyone without proof of identity, like a birth certificate, which includes their country of origin; country of origin not on a list of persecution by religion, ethnicity or other systemic persecution of groups (that would exclude asylum requests from almost every Latin American country). They will come anyway. Virtually all asylum seekers will then be breaking the law.

4. Make all involuntary human trafficking punishable by death. If caught with victims, traffickers are hung or shot. This would help reduce immigration-by-trafficking and perhaps coyote activity, but politically unacceptable.

5. Use “area denial” technology and electronic barriers instead of or in addition to border patrol and physical barriers. Area denial tech has been used for dispersing violent crowds. It involves microwave beams which are extremely painful but usually cause no injury. While this idea is also likely politically unacceptable, because of the possibility of injuries caused by panic (the microwaves feel like you’re being cooked) and howls of protest that “innocent migrants are being attacked by our technology”, it’s also more likely to work than any of the above, because the uncertainty of knowing where the electronic detectors are and the fear that the “microwave weapons” can strike anywhere, anytime, without warning. Uncertainty is the basis of the effectiveness of the M.A.D. doctrine.

I can think of more objections to each strategy, and there are powerful vested interests that want the situation to remain as it is, or get worse. Politically, immigration from the south is as unlikely to be proactively dealt with as is the national debt. We’ll keep borrowing until we can no longer repay, and we won’t make the hard decisions about immigration until there’s a serious crisis, maybe even a “false flag” kind of terrorist attack. I didn’t list that as #6.

The border….crazy.

What’s it like at our southern border? You hear so many stories that sound so lacking in compassion. Depending on their politics, critics of our immigration policies either portray the border patrol and the Trump administration as heartless and cruel, or not forceful enough. For a truer perspective, Sophia Lee spent weeks interviewing migrants and riding with the border patrol. She reports in World Magazine.

To Border Patrol, the massive spike of family apprehensions at the border creates plenty of opportunities for criminals to take advantage of the chaos and dysfunction. Many migrants arrive with no birth certificates or ID, so Border Patrol has to call their country’s consulate to procure their biographical information—and at times, the supposed parent has no relations to the child. “That’s scary,” Carbajal said. “Are these kids kidnapped? Rented out? What if drug cartels are taking advantage of these kids and our laws?” Sometimes, the children unwittingly put themselves in danger. In one case that Carbajal worked on, a 17-year-old girl from Guatemala showed up with two younger siblings, ages 4 and 7. She said she had a 45-year-old male contact in New York whom she had met on Facebook—and when Border Patrol ran the man’s records, several child molestation charges came up. Out of sheer desperation or foolish naïveté or both, the girl had been willing to travel thousands of miles to seek refuge from a man she had never met.

Anatomy of a wall

Not so simple, is it? It’s easy to sympathize with the migrants, at least those fleeing gang and cartel violence, and corrupt politicians and police. Some say that the United States is guilty of having fostered those conditions, through CIA-driven overthrow of unfriendly but supposedly less corrupt governments, and meddling in the politics of the less well-governed Latin American countries. Others say that the Democrats want to undermine our border security and invite hordes of potential democrat voters in to violate our immigration laws and suck up our tax dollars in free services. There are probably some elements of truth in both sides. The one argument I totally disagree with is the one that says “immigrants have a right to get into the United States because we are all immigrants.” I have previously made my objections known. I believe that we need an effective and orderly way to admit immigrants, and that our present system is not working, and cannot work with such unsustainable chaos along our southern border. What about a wall? More of Sophia Lee’s report continues.

The San Diego Sector of the border runs for 60 of the 1,933 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border along deserts, shrubby hills, a beach, and heavily populated towns. Currently, about 46 of those 60 miles have some sort of physical barrier between Mexico and the United States.The first walls were built in 1999—6-foot-high metal panels made up of donated Vietnam War scraps that weren’t meant to prevent people from jumping over but to prevent vehicles from speeding through, cutting down on high-speed vehicular chases that resulted in deaths and accidents. Border Patrol later put barbed wires on top of those panels, but people still managed to push it off the top, throw a thick rug over, and then hop across.

Then in 2007, under the Bush administration, Border Patrol built another set of walls out of steel mesh and barbed wires on top, but people cut giant squares and U-shaped holes out of the mesh with cordless power tools. Almost every section of those walls has distinct square-shaped patches. Border Patrol plastered more barbed wires up and down the mesh walls, but that hasn’t stopped people from crossing through.

Next came the 18-foot-high steel bollard wall built last November under the Trump administration, hardly the concrete blocks Trump had originally envisioned. These steel bollards are far more effective: Inside each hollow bar is cement to prevent people from trying to pry the bars apart, and on the top are large, smooth steel plates to prevent people from climbing up the bars and hopping over. Two inches of space separate each bar, wide enough so border agents can see through, but narrow enough that the average man wouldn’t be able to lop his arms around and climb it. In addition to the physical barriers, Border Patrol has installed stadium lights and cameras and motion sensors in certain areas, as much as its budget allows.

I have previously discussed the problems with any wall. My post of yesterday about prisoner transport was testing the waters about some ideas I have about controlling the migrant flow. That’s next.



Now I know I’m old.

say it ain’t sooo….

After Jerry Garcia left, or retired from The Grateful Dead, he helped form a bluegrass band with a hilarious self-deprecating name: Old And In The Way. That aptly describes how I felt last night when I discovered just how old my favorite crush when I was younger, is now. Remember the Avengers, that British series about two elegant spies, Mrs. Peel and, and, and I seem to have forgotten the man’s spy name. Bowler hat, cravat, umbrella/sword cane, jolly good upper crust accent and manners, played by Patrick MacNee……Well, actually who cares, HE wasn’t my crush. If you’re a man, cisgender man that is, reading this, and you are old enough to have seen the original Avengers, you are saying, “enough foreplay, get to the crush, the luminous star of the series, the sexiest, most elegant woman….Diana Rigg!

Watching Game of Thrones last night, there was something naggingly familiar about Olenna, the matriarch of House Tyrell. She was kind of funny, kind of commanding, but certainly not very unattractive, probably never a great beauty……Then the credits rolled. I was not only in shock, I suddenly felt really old. Diana Rigg played Olenna! Sure, makeup can make someone look older as well as younger, but it wasn’t makeup, it was the ravages of age! I saw her without makeup too. She has two chins! Oh, kill me now. Aging is just evil. It doesn’t help matters that I suffered a stroke three years ago and have not recovered my balance, but at least I had my fantasies of Diana Rigg. Well, that’s done.

I decided that while I’m reminiscing, I might as well listen to some Old and In The Way, on Amazon music. I never paid much attention to Mr. Garcia, and discovered he died in 1995, at age 53, of the accumulated effects of drug abuse and heart problems. I am 72, so perhaps I shouldn’t complain. Old and In The Way reconstituted a few years ago, without Jerry, but renamed themselves Old and In The Gray. This July, I am going to California to attend a concert of ELP Legacy, Yes, and Asia. Carl Palmer, the sole surviving member of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the original ELP, formed ELP Legacy with two young musicians, and also helped form Asia, an English Progressive Rock band, with Steve Howe of Yes. These are the bands I am going to hear. I hope they can all get up on stage without too much assistance, and I hope that the performance will not be interrupted by any strokes or heart attacks, either by the bands members or old codgers like me in the audience. Just in case, I bought performance cancellation insurance for an additional $8. Aging is a bitch!