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!

We need a new policy.

ambushed convoy

I was watching the Enemy Within, a series on TV and I saw a convoy carrying a high-value prisoner headed for interrogation. Now every time you see that situation in movies or on TV, you just know what is about to happen. The prisoner’s organization is going to rescue her, or him, killing almost everybody in the Convoy in the process. More often than not, the prisoner escapes. If that’s the policy, transporting prisoners by vehicle, it doesn’t matter how heavily guarded or armed the good guys are, the bad guys will almost always be better armed and be able to anticipate the strategy of the good guys. Besides, the bad guys always seem to have bribed someone to give them the route and strategy of the convoy, and always seem to have one of their own as part of the convoy, and their inside bad guy usually kills the rest of the good guys.

There’s only one way to remove the incentive to try to break the prisoner free. And that’s an official policy that goes like this: Any attempt to rescue the prisoner will result in the immediate death of the prisoner even before we defend ourselves. I imagine this idea might encourage a few objections, so I will debate the objections.

Are you serious about this policy? Yes, I believe it’s the only way to discourage breakout attempts, which would save the lives of the good guys.

But what about prisoners who didn’t murder anyone, or aren’t suspected of having information which could prevent deaths? My policy would be very clear about which prisoners are subject to immediate death during a breakout attempt. If the prisoner has been convicted of murder, or there is ample evidence that this prisoner possesses information which could stop an attack or bombing or terrorist act, and thus save many lives, then allowing the prisoner to escape is a worse crime than killing them. Some caveats: if this policy were seriously implemented, breakout attempts would mostly cease, saving both the prisoner’s life and the lives of the guards in the convoy; the philosophy behind my policy is the same as the philosophy of not negotiating with terrorists, because the negotiations or escapes incentivizes more of the unwanted activities.

What if the convicted murderer resides in a state with no death penalty, or has already been sentenced to life in prison? Under my policy, lives of the convoy guards would be saved if breakout attempts ceased or decreased, and a life in prison sentence doesn’t specify how long that life needs to be. It’s very unlikely that the convict’s friends would take a chance on ambushing the convoy if the convict has already been sentenced to something other than death.

There must be another way to prevent breakouts while transporting high value prisoners without killing them. You would have to make sure every one of these boxes are checked: no one in the convoy, or with knowledge of their route, armaments and strategy, could be bribed; the convoy vehicles are impervious to man-carried weapons; a quick reaction force to defend the convoy would have to be able to get to the ambush within seconds of it starting; the entire convoy route would have to be cleared of IEDs within minutes of the convoy starting out, and the entire route would have to be monitored to make sure no IEDs were planted after initial detection; the weaponry of the convoy would have to be superior to anything the bad guys could bring to bear; no criminal or terrorist organization would be able to field a drone with precision missile capabilities. Never gonna happen.

Sure, the Enemy Within is tv, but the convoy ambush went like this. The prisoner was an important lieutenant of the arch terrorist, and if she could be persuaded to talk, hundreds of lives could be saved in preventing a bombing. She was being transported in an armored vehicle similar to what SWAT teams use, with armored Suburbans in front and behind, each carrying four heavily armed contractors. The prisoner in back was guarded by three armed men, with two more in the cab. That’s 13 heavily armed military personnel. Pretty hard to top that. The ambush was perfect: teams using shoulder fired anti-tank missiles took out the Suburbans, killing 8 immediately. The armored vehicle driver got out, after killing his partner, and unlocked the back of the vehicle, then shot the three guards. It was over in about 20 seconds, prisoner liberated. 12 guards killed.

But even if the prisoner was executed right after the Suburbans blew up, the ambush would still have killed eight guards, and the driver still might have killed four. With the prisoner dead, the terrorist mastermind wouldn’t have to worry about his bomb plot being divulged. You’re right. In such a case, the terrorist would have won anyway, especially if his purpose in ambushing the convoy was to silence the prisoner. But if loyalty to a terrorist or their cause is the main incentive for any high value prisoner to remain silent, and the HVPs see terrorists ambushing convoys knowing that the prisoner is certain to be killed, isn’t such experience likely to weaken the loyalty of many, if not most, HVPs, since they realize that the terrorist is just as happy that they are killed as rescued?

My policy would only work, like the policy of not negotiating with terrorists, if applied consistently, regardless of who the hostages or prisoners are. Otherwise, let’s continue to lament the innocent dead.

 

The intersection of hypocrisy, greed and mental illness.

Beware of overpopularity

I wrote a long post yesterday about Critical Theory in which I intimated that the motivation behind such a nihilistic worldview might be greed. Something I read today in Takimag made me realize that the rapid spread of C.T. and it’s associated poisons could be driven by something I didn’t even think about. David Cole started his post by describing a friend of his, a vivacious and educated Cambodian woman, and her sad descent into madness. Her particular mental illness took the form of paranoia—hearing voices that weren’t there, then delusions of being recorded wherever she went, and finally shouting in the streets epithets against her imagined persecutors, who in her mind were all men of high melanin pigment. He says, “fortunately there was no social media back then.” Her madness could not be used by others to thrust her into an unwanted notoriety. Not so today.

He then goes on to describe a Burger King commercial that ran in New Zealand, introducing an Asian burger, showing white people struggling to eat this burger with chopsticks. Most people made nothing of the commercial, but a Korean woman named Maria Mo, living in New Zealand took offense at it, and tweeted an offensive rant about it. So you have a Korean woman somehow offended that Burger King culturally appropriated chopsticks venting on Twitter. What neither she nor I ever realized was that the social media lust for fame has fertilized a global mushroom crop of media trolls who scour the internet looking for tweets, Facebook and Instagram posts that can be appropriated to stoke the fires of intersectional victimhood rivalries and Critical Theory justifications. In plain language, outrage and anger over racism and other expressions of oppression, all of which are the byproducts of human sin, sells!

David Cole in Takimag: When the global media turned her tweet into an overnight sensation, forcing Burger King to remove the ad, initially Mo was elated: “Yay. Suck on this racists. You don’t get your way, not today. Cry me a river. PoC who are all “well I’M PoC and this doesn’t offend meeee” need to shut the fuck up cos why you gotta be such a pick me bitch for wypipo if u effectively have no horse in the race.” (PoC is person of color)

Soon her elation turned to fear. Why? Because when she tweeted her rant, she was already in the throes of significant mental illness, depression, paranoia. The international fame her tweet brought her, courtesy of the outrage trolls. I am aggregating a bunch of subsequent tweets which she sent over the next few weeks as her unwanted notoriety metastasized. All she wanted at that point was to be left alone to try to adjust to different medications that her psychiatrist prescribed.

“Ehhh my racist Burger King ad video tweet has almost 2M views. This is almost kinda scary. So I think the weight of everything that’s gone on in the past few days has just hit me and I’m lying in bed tearing up. It’s probably fine but I just don’t feel safe. I never asked for any of this. I’m just a fucking nobody who just sent out a tweet not knowing the shitstorm it was going to cause. Don’t @ me saying I did this for the attention. And no I did not get paid. I need the international media to STOP REPORTING already. Friend sent me a screengrab of an Austrian paper. Just deleted an interview request from a Japanese tv programme (twice in two days). I JUST WANT TO GET ON WITH MY LIFE. How much more do I need to feel threatened about my security and privacy?” David Cole again: This is the moral bankruptcy of today’s “anti-racist” media. Whether turning videos of disturbed white women into viral sensations in the name of furthering the “racist white lady” narrative, or exploiting a tweet from an Asian woman struggling with mental health issues, these despicable monsters don’t care whose lives they ruin in the name of the almighty retweets.

Their fame-seeking is motivated by greed. Of course racism exists, it is even pervasive, even everywhere. Pretending it doesn’t exist, or isn’t significant, or doesn’t matter anymore, is worse than naive, and might be evil, if such protestations are motivated by disliking others for their physical characteristics. Exploiting racism is evil, and usually motivated by lust for more…..more popularity, more sales, more notoriety, more “moral capital”, more power. Power? What does power have to do with exploiting racism? Let’s take an example from advertising. Remember the infamous “woke” Gillette commercial? Racism wasn’t the shibboleth there, it was “toxic masculinity”, but the principle is the same as that underlying a Nike commercial featuring Serena Williams. Serena is not only female, but black, the intersection of the two most pervasive victim narratives of Critical Theory.

She goes, “If we [women] dream of equal opportunity, [we’re called] delusional. If we stand for something, [we’re called] unhinged.” Notice the use of the “straw man” fallacy, that of answering a hypothetical person or group of people who are supposed to be saying something, but in fact are not. Whom do you know who calls women delusional or unhinged? I don’t know anyone like that. Then why introduce that into a commercial? Because it makes it sound like there’s a horde of oppressors out there, and where oppressors lurk aren’t victims under their jackboots? Under Critical Theory, when you’re the victim, you get to call the shots and dictate the narrative. The victim wears the crown. The oppressed have the say-so. And anyone who questions the legitimacy of the victimhood based on evidence is indeed the oppressor by default.

Racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia and other made-up isms and phobias are not the same, except in Critical Theory and it’s bastard stepchild, Intersectionality. Hating someone for their skin pigmentation—my definition of racism—is a sin, the product of our sin nature. The others on the list are not sins, they are made-up names for creating victim classes, and the ones ending in phobia not only don’t exist, but are designed to be labels to paste over the mouths of anyone with a politically incorrect opinion on the topic. Why? As I said, power & popularity = payoff. Critical Theory = grievance monetizing. It all comes down to greed, covetousness. So what if you exploit the mentally ill? The trolls can always claim racism drove her mad. The intersection of greed and madness that is Critical Theory has a third street, this one called hypocrisy. The proponents of CT are overwhelmingly overeducated, and thus privileged in a material sense at least. They enjoy the benefits of the ideas they criticize, ideas which are the foundation of our country’s prosperity. Their “solutions” would undermine the very benefits they enjoy, but they think they will escape the consequences.

One of the premises of Critical Theory is that statements can’t be evaluated on the basis of objective truth because the speaker or writer has an ulterior motive—preserving their power and privilege—for making the statement. Okay, let’s judge CT on the same standard. Who benefits from CT which divides humanity into oppressed and oppressor? Certainly not the oppressors, and certainly not the oppressed. The latter just gets weaker by accepting victimhood. No, who benefits? Just the grievance hustlers.

Critical theory, and why you care.

I love someone with the ability to synthesize a wide variety of phenomena and opinions to produce a comprehensive explanation of the underlying cause. Neil Shenvy calls himself a “homeschooling theoretical chemist.” Here he takes on Critical Theory, the theoretical foundation of most of the ideas I regularly mock. My comments are in italics, and will be serious rather than mocking.

Critical Theory has four main premises and two secondary premises. If you really want to understand how it is possible for so many apparently illogical and unsupported ideas have flooded into our culture, academia and media, you must understand Critical Theory.

Main Premise 1: “Our individual identity, who we are as individuals, is inseparable from our group identity.” In particular, our individual identity depends on whether we are part of a dominant, oppressor group or a subordinate, oppressed group with respect to a given identity marker like race, class, gender, physical ability, or age. Everyone is segregated into those two groups, oppressed and oppressor. You are either one or the other.

Main Premise 2: “Oppressor groups subjugate oppressed groups through the exercise of hegemonic power.” Hegemonic power is the ability to impose your group’s values, expectations, and norms on the rest of society. In this way, hegemonic power is distinguished from money, or influence, or mere numbers. Dominant groups set the norms by which the minority group is judged.” This is rarely conscious on anyone’s part, but is a result of the marketplace of ideas, in books, arts, entertainment and education.

Main Premise 3: “Our fundamental moral duty is freeing groups from oppression.” Liberation requires a struggle against discrimination based on race, class, gender, sexual identity, ableism and age. Says who? By what standard? The very idea that there is a fundamental moral duty has to come from somewhere. The idea of a fundamental moral duty is contradicted by the next premise.

Main Premise 4: ‘Lived experience’ is more important than objective evidence in understanding oppression.” The idea that objectivity is best reached only through rational thought is a specifically Western and masculine way of thinking. What do they propose to supplement rational thought? Story. Narrative. Personal testimony. Lived experience. Furthermore, because ‘lived experience’ outweighs evidence, people from oppressed groups have special insight into truth that is fundamentally unavailable to people from oppressor groups. If you are not a member of an oppressed group, you are expected to listen and learn from oppressed people; you are not permitted to challenge their claims. If personal testimony outweighs objective standards, then there is no such thing as fundamental moral duty.

Secondary Premise 1: “Oppressor groups hide their oppression under the guise of objectivity.” The claim being made is that there are no completely neutral observers who present us with totally objective ‘facts.’ Instead, oppressor groups ‘claim’ that their observations are neutral, but this claim is only a strategy to cloak their will to dominate. Such a contention requires serious mind reading skills.

Secondary Premise 2: “Individuals at the intersection of different oppressed groups experience oppression in a unique way.” Imagine a black woman [who may be] a single working mother… She experiences, potentially, not only multiple forms of oppression but ones unique to her and to others like her. The authors here are expressing the concept of intersectionality: the idea that our identities interact in complicated ways. Individual characteristics and circumstances are reduced to an “intersection”. If individuals don’t matter except as fodder for your theory, then how does it matter whether or not any individual is “oppressed”?

CHRISTIANITY AND CRITICAL THEORY ARE IRRECONCILABLE WORLDVIEWS. 1. Christianity tells one comprehensive, overarching narrative about reality in four basic acts: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. Who are we? We are the creatures of a holy, good, and loving Creator God. What is our fundamental problem as human beings? We have rebelled against God. What is the solution to our problem? God sent Jesus to bear the penalty of our rebellion and rescue us. What is our primary moral duty? To love God. What is our purpose in life? To glorify God. This is the basic story that Christianity tells us and is the grid through which we ought to interpret everything else.

1a. Critical theory also functions as a worldview, but it tells a alternate comprehensive, overarching story about reality. The story of critical theory begins not with creation, but with oppression. The omission of a creation element is very important because it changes our answer to the question: “who are we?” There is no transcendent Creator who has a purpose and a design for our lives and our identities. We don’t primarily exist in relation to God, but in relation to other people and to other groups.  Our identity is not defined primarily in terms of who we are as God’s creatures. Instead, we define ourselves in terms of race, class, sexuality, and gender identity. Oppression, not sin, is our fundamental problem. What is the solution? Activism. Changing structures. Raising awareness. We work to overthrow and dismantle hegemonic power. That is our primary moral duty. What is our purpose in life? To work for the liberation of all oppressed groups so that we can achieve a state of equality.

2. Critical theory encourages an alternate approach to truth claims that is very popular but is logically invalid. “Oppressor groups hide their oppression under the guise–the pretense-of objectivity.” Because of this premise, when someone makes a truth claim, the first question asked by critical theory is not “is this claim true?” but “What incentives does this person have to make this claim? What social or political agenda motivates this statement? How does this statement function to preserve his power and privilege?” Such an assertion applies even more to proponents of CT, with its rejection of objective truth. If the supposed goal of a “privileged person” is to preserve his power and privilege, how much more is the goal of the “oppressed person” to attain to the power and benefits of the privileged? If they have not done so on their own, with all the opportunities and programs on their side, isn’t their motive to get the power structure to take from those who have in order to further “equality”?

3. Critical theory assumes an adversarial relationship between individuals that is profoundly antithetical to Christianity. Critical theory depends crucially on differentiating identity groups into ‘oppressor’ and ‘oppressed.’ Conversely, if all human beings shared some fundamental identity marker, that fact would severely undermine the dichotomy between oppressor and oppressed and would call into question the foundations of critical theory. Yet Christianity offers not just one but three of these fundamental identity markers, which are shared by human beings across lines of race, class, and gender: we share a fundamental identity first in creation, then in sin, and then –for Christians- in redemption. Why would anyone want to claim an identity marker “oppressed”? See my last sentence of the preceding paragraph. Even worse, claiming such an identity marker makes it harder to succeed on your efforts; claiming to be a victim keeps you one.

4. Critical theory is built on the rejection of hegemonic power. It sees singular narratives and a singular set of values and norms as inherently oppressive. Unfortunately, the Bible is nothing but one giant, colossal hegemonic discourse from start to finish. God has all the power in the universe. Not a problem for critical theorists. Their conception of god is a being to do their bidding.

5. The designation of some individuals as oppressed and other as oppressors leads critical theorists to insist on a moral asymmetry between these groups. What is immoral behavior for an individual from an oppressor group can be moral for an individual in an oppressed group.

Here’s my “meta-analysis”: If it’s true that the moral assymetry exists, what exactly gives the oppressed more “moral capital” than the “oppressors”? If there are no objective truths, what’s wrong with oppressing groups to maintain your own power? Isn’t that what human beings have always done, everywhere? Look at the great historical empires: Rome, Babylon, Greece, Assyria, Persia, the Caliphate, the Mongols. Look at present day oppression in Iran, Turkey, N Korea and so forth. Oppression appears to be a pervasive result of power asymmetry, but what authority says that’s bad? If you want to promote C.T., go ahead but by denying God who alone gives value to human life and bestows rights and upholds the “fatherless and the widow”, you have no authority to appeal to except the power of the government. You’ve been complaining about power and privilege all along, but by appealing to government power to equalize outcome by taking from those who have achieved, you are indeed validating the principle of oppression for the sake of gain. Equality, per se, has no inherent value. Demanding equality by hiding behind a theory of dubious, to put it mildly, merit, is really monetizing grievance.

How should past grievances be handled? Take the lesson from Rwanda. The Rwandan genocide, also known as the genocide against the Tutsi, was a mass slaughter of Tutsi in Rwanda during the Rwandan Civil War, directed by members of the Hutu majority government between 7 April and 15 July 1994. An estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 Rwandans were killed, about 70% of the Tutsi population. Neighbors killed each other. Yet today, they are working side by side as brothers and sisters. They demonstrate the power of forgiveness. Critical Theory exists because forgiveness can’t be monetized, grievance can be.