Revolution, American Style

I will give the French credit. When they do revolutions, they go about them properly: in the streets, at the barricades. Bodies, and particularly heads are put at risk. Not so in America; nothing so old-fashioned or crass as blood in the streets here. Above all, no risk that the failed perps’ heads will appear on spikes. No, here revolutions take place in secret grand jury rooms, where the mills (Muehlen, in German. A miller is a mueller – how about that!) of justice coups grind exceeding slow…

Much has been speculated since Mueller’s appointment as special counsel. The end result – that Trump would, with certainty, be accused of some wrongdoing – was baked into the cake at the outset. Comey, as agent of the deep state, somehow, saw to it that his friend Mueller was appointed. Were we still a nation of laws, their relationship would have been disqualifying, as should have been many of Mueller’s appointees been disqualified; they are known and vocal Democrat partisans. The fact that Mueller was never even slightly concerned with either of these blatant conflicts of interest tells just how sure of himself he is in his mission. And all of this is only possible because the “media” are now Democrat operatives; as such, they only scream about “apparent” conflicts of interest when they apply to Republicans. Blatant ones on the part of Democrats merit no mention, whatsoever. NOT news = fake news.

Trump’s ill-chosen former lawyer, Cohen, has become fresh chum strewn in the elasmobranch journalist pool, extra blood added by various Democrats of the same chondrichthyes family. All predictions aside, one thing, known to all inside the beltway is clear: no one can survive a federal investigation for anything without evidence of some felonious wrongdoing being “discovered” (or fabricated in the form of a perjury trap). The mere existence of this investigation assured the outcome: Trump will be accused of some felony or other, in the finest Stalin/Berea tradition – “You bring me the man and I will find you the crime.” Welcome to 21st century Amerika.

Let’s make a few comparisons. Hillary’s deleted emails were clear felonies, for which, still today, literally hundreds are sitting in jail – for deleting work-related materials of no national import. They will continue to go to jail in the future for this same act. Ordinary folks go straight to jail for doing this. To Comey and the media – no crime. Whatever Trump is eventually accused of will pale in comparison. Today, it is said Trump violated campaign laws by paying off women. What, by comparison, happened to women involved with Bill Clinton? Trump paid them money, Clinton and his wife destroyed Bills “bimbos.” Yet, they “love” women, while Trump hates them. And the kiss off – Obama broke the same campaign law Trump is accused of breaking, to the tune of about 10 times as much money. The result? No media coverage, no criminal accusation. Quiet payment of a small fine. End of non-story = more fake non-news, which, again is only no news when it applies to Democrats.

I have no idea how this will play out. What I do know is that in today’s America (it is no longer your grandparents’ America), all things are possible. I suspect Trump will not go down like Nixon did. That was a coup writ small. It was merely a warm-up for this, however. I hope Trump will not refrain from whatever he can do to fight and I hope he is joined – on the barricades if need be – by the righteously-irate citizens who elected him, lawfully. This is an attempted coup, under color of law, but, in fact extra-legal. It is a fake criminalization of political differences and has been conducted in secret and in slow motion. The perpetrators ought to be exposed for the treasonous revolutionaries that they are. They ought to fail and they ought to pay the heavy price of failure.

If this coup succeeds, count the moment as the definitive end of the American experiment (in my pessimism, I suspect it has already ended, but I could be wrong).


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“The Creepy Line,” a Documentary Worth Watching…

…and a subject worth reviling and fearing – i.e. the power of Google and Facebook to shape society in the image they, completely unaccountably, deem best. The title, an understatement – “creepy ‘ is much too mild a descriptor – comes from a statement by Eric Schmidt, who in 2010, told an interviewer that Google’s policy is to “get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”While that makes for a catchy title, it in no way captures the nefarious things being done by a company whose motto is (or was) supposedly, “Don’t be evil.” Facebook does similar things as well.

The film explains how Google began as a search engine, but became something very different. As a non-technical individual, I cannot do the topic justice. Suffice it to say, the stories told by psychologist Robert Epstein and Jordan Peterson (both of whose email and youtube accounts were suddenly shut down without explanation and without recourse) are very frightening.

Epstein recounts scientific studies which show that the the mere order in which search results are listed (and whether or not even a single one of them contains any negatives regarding a candidate) easily sway the opinions of a randomly-selected, undecided group of people. This alone should give great pause as to how we view these companies.

In addition, the tension between acting as neutral forums vs. publishers is explained and fleshed out. Today, we have the intolerable situation where Google and Facebook are regularly, if sometimes surreptitiously, acting as unregulated publishers by editing much of what they offer online. Even while doing so, they claim to be mere neutral entities, not responsible for what they show (or do not, by intentionally suppressing them!) in their links. The situation as it now exists, this documentary makes clear, must not continue.

After hearing the tales of how their email accounts were suddenly gone because they said thing Google didn’t like, I have decided it is time to migrate off of Gmail (I stopped using Facebook years ago after giving it a try and finding it “creepy”). The risk of losing all my mail as a result of political speech disliked by Google, in its arrogance (they scan every word, including discarded drafts!!), I find to be intolerable. I also find it intolerable to support a company (as the product that I am, not a customer) which has incorporated evil into the very heart of its business model. If you think I exaggerate, please watch the film, available for free on Amazon Prime.


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Review “Losing Mars” by Peter Cawdron

I had read Anomaly by this author. It was interesting and, as I recall, lacking the vices I describe here. Since it was covered by my trial of Amazon Unlimited, I figured I would read Losing Mars, that I couldn’t go wrong – yet I did. As I recall, John mentioned that some of the new sci-fi partakes of social justice warfare to the detriment of the stories.

Here is the review I posted on Amazon:

“Superfluous Moral Preening

I gave up reading about one-quarter through, notwithstanding a lot of interesting revelations about what it will take for humans to survive on Mars. For me, a major motivation for reading (particularly near-future) science fiction is to escape from the turbulent, nigh-on insane times in which we live; I need a break in which to recall humans are motivated and capable of doing amazing, constructive and even noble things. There is no shortage of media about whose raison d’être is to regale us with virtue signaling or de rigeur politically-correct thinking. Happily, there is also a good bit of near-future sci-fi which finds it unnecessary to preach. This author might very well have written the characters precisely as he did – matter-of-factly – and I would have continued and thought little of it. The fact that that was insufficient reveals an agenda beyond story-telling, however. The agenda/sermons bludgeoned the structure of the story to a point of failure, allowing the precious oxygen to be sucked out of the story/habitat, without enriching Mars’ atmosphere in the slightest.”


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President Trump, Executive vs. John Roberts, Judiciary

Once again, President Trump is stating the obvious truth. One of the major fracture lines in the cold civil way underway in America is judicial activism of leftist judges, who feel completely unencumbered by the Constitution or statute in making rulings according to their own policy preferences.

This represents a major departure from that codified in the Constitution and has been particularly apparent in a series of judicially intemperate arbitrary rulings against the President’s near plenary power to deal with immigration and foreign policy. The progressives who want to stymie the President know precisely which forum to shop. They invariable go to ‘Obama’ judges, ‘Clinton’ Judges, etc. Everybody know this. I hope the Chief Justice if only speaking from ‘institutional correctness’ according to his position. If he really believes what he is saying we are in even more trouble than I already think.

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Do Video Productions Give Flickering Insight into Modern Russia?

My wife, a great video fan, largely selects our programming from among DirecTV (soon to be shed due to high cost and emerging streaming alternatives), Netflix and Prime Video. For years, BBC has been a go-to source, usually via Prime. Alas, she is someone who usually multi-tasks with her laptop while watching TV, which has ruled out watching foreign language videos with English subtitles. Until about a week ago…

…when she discovered several Russian language video series, which came as an enormous surprise. Each consists of 8 – 10 episodes of around 50 minutes. First came Ekaterina: The Rise of Catherine the Great. Then we watched Rasputin. We are now into Sophia – the story Sophia Palaiologina, daughter of the brother of the last Byzantine emperor, who had been defeated by Ottoman Turks. Sophia was taken under Papal protection to Rome, where she was raised (ostensibly Catholic despite her having been Eastern Orthodox as a young child) and later offered by Pope Sixtus IV in marriage to Ivan III of Muscovy. This was a cynical attempt to capture the Orthodox Prince to Roman Catholicism, and much intrigue is on display in several dimensions.

All of which is outside the impressions I want to share here. When critiquing literature, we are used to reading “between the lines” as to the author and his/her times and culture. Here, I want to inquire as to the validity of searching “between the frames,” so to speak, of this near-infinite series of still images which combine through the human brain’s fortunate perceptual error, into often-stunning moving images. And they are indeed ‘moving’ in both senses of that word. What, then, can be inferred about the film’s creators and the country in which such movies are produced?

These are not your father’s Russian (or particularly Soviet) movies, and I found myself needing to challenge my own biases  (starting while I was still watching) when reflecting upon what these truly excellent productions imply about modern Russia. Had these videos emerged from my TV in English, I would have taken them for top-notch Hollywood productions, lacking only the coarse language, gratuitous nudity/sex, and wall-to-wall decadence. A certain forthrightness and innocence characteristic of pre-modern American filmmaking pervades these productions. They come from a place of quiet restraint and decency; they show nothing but respect for the majority Orthodox faith.

Technically, every component of film I can identify is extremely well-done. The story lines are credible and engaging, the characters, similarly, exude depth and texture written in screenplay fashion which is altogether polished, believable and professional. The settings are often breathtaking – some in recognizable lush historical places and buildings – all  perfectly restored. More rustic scenes show structures appropriate for the times. Costumes and implements (like weapons) in every one of these productions are unusually magnificent; fabrics are especially prominent and sumptuous.

The acting – across the board – is nothing short of superb, award-winning in its own right (and not even slightly dependent upon the actors’ having displayed the de rigeur political views du jour). The actress portraying Catherine the Great, Marina Aleksandrova was particularly striking and effective (although I cannot rule out some testosterone-weighted impression of her [pardon me while I catch my breath]). Other characters, even those evoking no humoral response in this writer, from major to minor, are uniformly excellent. The English subtitles are generally very good translations, with a few lapses in the form of modern colloquialisms inappropriate to the period.

These productions invoke in me a strong sense that the creators are intensely interested in showing the history of their nation and a desire to do so honestly, accurately and artfully. I believe it portrays a healthy nationalism – of pride in their nation’s emergence and existence – not superiority over anyone (why is nationalism such a dirty word for progressives?). Production generally appears to have taken place in an affluent country. Nowhere, even around the edges, does one see any shoddiness. Rustic homes of ordinary people appear clean and show real craftsmanship in their construction. Cinematography is just superb and scenes requiring computer graphics are every bit as good as what comes out of Hollywood.

Not usually a movie critic, I am surely leaving out many other identifiable aspects of movie-making which are amenable to description and critique. My overall impression of these films, however, has demolished whatever sense I had of Russia as a place somehow not measuring up to our “elevated” standards. I am not sure my inferences are completely valid, but suffice it to say that my opinion of Russia has markedly improved.

George Will used to say that the Soviet Union couldn’t produce poetry; that it was a third-world country with nuclear weapons. I remain unsure as to whether Vladimir Putin is really the dangerous autocrat our establishment and media insist he is. Seeing between the frames of these films this kind of creativity – which is usually upstream of politics – suggests some important, human, esthetic and ethical things are happening in a country which has only recently made itself able to afford these truly opulent productions. Considering where they came from, Russians have made obvious progress in many dimensions. Though they now even purport to possess hypersonic nuclear weapons, no third-world country can produce the poetry of these magnificent productions. 

The opening credits reveal that these films originated from Moskino Productions and, interestingly, state they were supported by the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. Could it be they are on to something? Maybe the best defense of a nation is maintenance of a coherent, self-respecting, self-restrained culture which knows and values its own history. By way of contrast, when people ask why I no longer attend Hollywood movies, I tell them I refuse to pay money to go into a dark room only to emerge feeling ashamed to be an American and a member of the human race (oh, how could I forget – now I would also have to be ashamed of my hypo-melaninemia).


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Public Health, Immigration, and Politics

Disease surveillance at the borders of the United States has undergone a radical (that word has lots of application here, nowadays) change. In the past, prospective legal immigrants arriving at ports of entry like Ellis Island, underwent serious scrutiny for infectious diseases. Many were quarantined for significant periods of time. Presumptions clearly came down on the side of caution when loosing new immigrants on a population whose health was taken seriously by law and by immigration officials. They were committed to protecting public health and followed strict procedures in order to assure it.

This approach has been abandoned. Although I have not made a serious study of the abandonment of public health measures, the first major deviation, I think, occurred in regards to AIDS. There, it seems, the established reporting and tracing of contacts in place for all previous sexually transmitted diseases were abandoned for political reasons; former basic principles of public health were deemed secondary to political needs, ostensibly to protect from discrimination those who were suffering from a disease which, at that time,  was much less manageable than it is today. Of course, discrimination – now a forbidden word – as to infected individuals (which is, after all, equivalent  to diagnosis of the presence of a communicable disease) is the basis of preventing spread of such diseases, But this is not the point I want to make here.

The point is to demonstrate the tension which now exists between well-established principles of public health and favored political narratives. Illustrating this, parents of children who have died of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) are speaking out and accusing the CDC of under-reporting the incidence and perhaps hiding the origin of this mystery illness, which is likely viral in etiology. There have been quiet rumblings dating back to the early Obama Administration, left largely unreported by the ever-vigilant-for-only-those-things-that-fit-the-narrative MSM, about the possibility of new diseases emerging in the US coincident with the ongoing invasion of “refugees” across the southern border.

Over the past several years, members of my own family have come down with several potent and very strange viral illnesses, one of which included fever, severe sore throat, painful symptoms of urinary tract infection and bloody conjunctiva (as seen in horror movies) – unlike anything I or our doctors had ever seen. Nowhere have I seen reports about this particular illness, but I suspect there are other similar stories deemed not worthy of reporting by our betters in media. Even ordinary knuckle-dragging citizens who are aware of former public health procedures for vetted legal immigrants might question the wisdom of taking thousands of illegal immigrant “children” (many of whom look strangely like men of military age in photos) and quickly putting them on airplanes (at public expense and with zero ID’s required of thee and me in order to fly!)  and dispersing them throughout the population – as was done for much of the Obama administration.

It seems the rights of citizens continue to shrink viv-à-vis anyone who cares to cross our borders for any reason, while our duty accept the consequences (like communicable diseases and payment for the wellbeing of all comers) has no limit. Inescapable is the conclusion that a government which abandons basic public health measures as to (is it merely hundreds of thousands or is it millions?) border-crossers no longer has much interest in protecting its erstwhile citizens, now reduced to subjects, in practice. Are we not becoming postmodern vassals?

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Today’s “Journalism” in Full

As if any more evidence is needed that the MSM puts Goebbels record to shame, witness the “reporting” on the mail “bombs.” The narrative, of course, is that Trump’s execrable anti-media statements are to blame. Now, I think it is fair to say that violent rhetoric runs about 100:1::Dem:Repub; that is unworthy of mention. Did the “media” ever find fault with Obama (“bring a gun to a knife fight”), Holder (“kick them”), Booker (“get in their face”), Watters (serial lunatic ravings) etc.,etc.,etc…

The pattern of recipients seems most convenient for an October surprise favorable to Dems. Do you suppose if the shoe were reversed, the narrative might include prominent, indeed rampant, speculation that this is a false flag operation, conducted by R’s to tar D’s? It has a more than a whiff of congruency with the tactics just deployed against Kavanaugh.

The single low-resolution photo of the supposed bomb, to my eye (I claim a certain expertise, having constructed bombs as pranks in college and was actually suspended for blowing apart a 2-foot diameter Norway Maple with one) it appears to be a mock-up – a fake. I have not seen any reports they have been blown up, as bomb squads are wont to do with bombs which appear real. Again, an unreported fact suggesting the likelihood of something beyond face value – the “no story here” typical deflection of anything possibly harmful to their Dem patrons/fellow travelers.

Investigative reporting? That threat only emerges to damage Trump (e.g. his gift tax return in the NYT) or Republicans. Our so-called media’s radioactive emanations occupy a spectrum well beyond fake news. In likely collusion (a word reserved exclusively for Trump and Republicans) between legacy “journalism” and monolithic Silicon Valley social media giants, we see in the bomb narrative what has become banal, mundane: denigration of Trump and his supporters in an organized (how many anti-Trump newspaper editorials on the same day?), concerted effort by corporations, cultural elites, non-government organizations, and public institutions (FBI, IRS, who knows who else) to influence elections. Under media rubrics, such activities can only condemned when practiced (even in the imagination) by those opposed to progressive causes, never by those in favor. Even the possibility they could be undertaken by Democrats is unworthy of even the slightest examination.


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Fascinating Online Course: “Simulation Neuroscience”

In at least one of his book reviews, John Walker has linked to the “Blue Brain Project.” This is a multidisciplinary approach to simulating (or perhaps instead emulating) the function of the mammalian (eventually the human) brain. It is being conducted in John’s back yard at the École Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne. It is a very ambitious project, presently studying slices of rat somatosensory cerebral cortex containing about 31,000 neurons.

Once upon a time, I was graduate student in anatomy at Rutgers Medical School studying the development and innervation of the superior oblique muscle of the newborn rat using enzyme staining of the motor end-plates and electron microscopy. I also studied neuroscience (then known as neuroanatomy and neurophysiology) and taught gross anatomy.

All the while, I fervently tried to piece together, bottom-up, all the parts of the nervous system, beginning with individual neurons (nerve cells) – their structure, electrical function and connections. As well, I learned the major connections (tracts) between various parts of the central nervous system (=the brain and the spinal cord). In my naiveté, I believed that if I only studied hard enough it would all come together, that an emergent understanding, a gestalt, would result. Wrong. It never happened. I now know that was because my brain lacked the memory and processing power.

What I was really wanting was the digital simulation now being developed at the Blue Brain Project, which is using the entire scientific literature as it pertains to neuroscience and very sophisticated in-house experiments in an attempt to assemble sparse data (it is impossible to know everything about the brain, so the researchers look for the minimally-necessary data to design algorithms) into digital simulations. These are then tested iteratively for conformance to observed biological functions.

All of which is preface to telling you about a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC – something which is new to me) and very worthwhile. Available for free online is “Simulation Neuroscience.” I have watched the first few hours of videos, describing the general approach and explaining the basic biology. I am hoping that when it gets around to the data, programming and computing (it requires supercomputers) aspects that I will still be able to follow. For the moment, at least, I am very excited to have renewed what was once intense intellectual curiosity which was left unfulfilled in the past for want of technology required to understand it. For those interested, I recommend checking it out.

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What is at Stake with the Kavanaugh Vote

Whenever I find it difficult to understand what is going on in the big picture, I turn to Victor Davis Hanson. He has several current essays which are pertinent. I recommend them and will not try to summarize them, as they are clearer than I can be and well worth reading. I will just say, as an enticement, they include words like ‘Jacobin.’

The political stakes, I think, cannot be higher. If the Republicans with their majority, fail to confirm Judge Kavanaugh, thereby defeating the unholy and anti-American tactics of the left (that, in itself, is worth a ‘yes’ vote), I expect that easily enough Republicans will demur in November to result in a blue tsunami. Should they fail, I will be freshening up my ‘the end is near’ sandwich boards.

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The Web, Decentralized?

I have developed a significant resentment of the monopolistic=leftist web companies and have asked why there aren’t alternatives. Well, now I have a question for those in the know on Ratburger: Is there anything to Tim Berners-Lee’s assertion that his new startup Inrupt

its mission is to turbocharge a broader movement afoot, among developers around the world, to decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it. In other words, it’s game on for Facebook, Google, Amazon. For years now, Berners-Lee and other internet activists have been dreaming of a digital utopia where individuals control their own data and the internet remains free and open. But for Berners-Lee, the time for dreaming is over.

It is based on something called ‘Solid,’ a “decentralized web platform he and others at MIT have spent years building.”

Should I be excited? Shall I start limbering up my ‘personal digital communicator (aka my middle finger) to signal “you’re fired” to Apple, Amazon, Google (I don’t use any of the others)? I hope those with understanding of the big picture will jump in.


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America, the Farce – Curtain Coming Down

It has been apparent to me for some time that the America I grew up in and which offered hope for all who wished to participate and play by a  few basic rules, is over. Finished. We are no longer a nation of laws equally applied. Hillary’s absolution proved that. Government processes depend entirely on politics, not any principle. The Kavanaugh hearing make that painfully clear. Compare, for instance, the intense interest in Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook by the selfsame senators and media who have zero interest in the accuser’s present social media musings (she was an avid Bernie Sanders devotee). Could that be why (or because) all her materials have disappeared down the “memory hole” à la 1984?

Note the cries for “an FBI investigation” of Kavanaugh, who has already had six of them over many years. Can anyone say the FBI is any longer free of political bias – in light of pro-Hillary and anti-Trump revelations? Do the Dems see the 4K picture of an FBI where we can only connect the dots? Do we automatically rely on it to prove a negative for Kavanaugh? How about the IRS? Must future nominees worry about their tax returns leaking? Actually, are any federal agencies, manned by progressive statists wall-to-wall, dedicated to anything more than acquisition of ever more state power and control over our lives with inevitable shrinking of our rights and prerogatives as subjects citizens?

Irreparable harm has already been done to our former Constitutional republic and the damage is accelerating (the image which should come to mind is when the Starship Enterprise engaged warp drive and the stars become lines) before our eyes. In case you don’t realize it, this is what the prelude to a revolution looks like with modern media manning the barricades and throwing the Molotov cocktails. One faction in this country is not even slightly interested in finding compromise. It is completely unwilling to even discuss the merits of any policy choice or nominee with its inferior opponents. It is only interested in destroying all opposition, winning at any cost and enacting its own brand of vicious tyranny. And it will be as vicious as any in history, albeit far more efficient with the IAI  (Immoral Artificial Intelligence) provided with ultramodern fascist allegiance by the state’s BFFs at Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. i.e., both the technology and the fascism will be sleek and ultramodern. Heck, if packaged, it might even say, “Designed in California; assembled in China.”

The cost of the relentless march of America’s left has been the moral and political bankruptcy of a nation which was once a going moral and economic concern. As of now, in “fundamentally transformed” America it seems, all things are possible. Even the usually-understated VDH says we are living in 1984.  Anything goes here today, except conservative speech. According to our so-called “mainstream media” it is nigh-on criminal to merely exist as a white male (especially a meritorious one) who is not frantically virtue signaling at every public turn; disagreement with progressive rubrics invites, indeed demands, physical assault. Red ball caps are in season year-round.

Reading history with my “refined” modern sensibilities, I used to have difficulty understanding why revolutions were inevitably violent with almost universal decimation of the losing side. The relentless, unyielding, uncompromising attacks on any and all opposition – to the exclusion of any reasoned debate – by the left suggests that political defeat is something they will never accept. Should they win, I do not doubt for a moment the fate of their erstwhile opposition.

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Kavanaugh Hearings: What is Really at Stake

The reportage on Fox is astonishingly bad – lots of assumptions and suppositions and reference to “credibility” and “emotion.” That is all meaningless. Who you like listening to does not determine facts. When all is said and done, here is what matters:

-Kavanaugh has lived his life in just about the most public and fully-documented manner possible. Literally hundreds of women have written in his support and none of the hundreds he has worked with has ever complained even of sexual overtures Yet, this single allegation (and two absurd ones), say the Dems, should deny him the nomination, because the witness was “emotional”.

-Democrat whining about “an FBI investigation” is patently bogus. If they really wanted one, they could have had it – and it could have been anonymous – 60 days before the committee began its hearings, when Feinstein got the letter. Why did they not want an FBI investigation then? Why did Feinstein keep it secret (secret does not equal anonymous!!). Further, the FBI reaches no conclusions, it merely reports who said what. The Judiciary Committee is the ultimate determiner of fact, not the FBI. The final stages of its investigation (with more force than an FBI investigation) is what we just witnessed on TV.

– There was not only no corroborating evidence from witnesses named by the accuser. Those she named actually refuted her allegations, every one saying – on pain of perjury – that the party at which she alleged she was groped never happened.

Bottom line: 1.no evidence beyond a bald assertion, refuted by witnesses named by the accuser. Those are the facts on which this is decided by fair-minded people and that are not nearly sufficient to overcome a pattern of behavior documented and going back over 35 years. 2. What conservative jurist in his/her right mind would ever want to be nominated to the Supreme Court? 3. Without fair processes in government, in the long run a peaceable society is not possible.

In case you have any doubt, today’s Democrats – especially their elected Senators – are not among the “fair-minded people.”

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The Speech Senator Grassley, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Should Give

That Republicans hate women and oppose every issue they care about is a given. The media/Democrat propaganda arm will blare that message 24/7 no matter what. The needle would not move a jot even if the Judiciary Committee simply ignored the accuser. It is time Republican “leaders” realized they have noting to lose and stand to gain only further contempt of their enemies. Here is what Senator Grassley should say:

“What is in order today is a  civics lesson: In our system of government, procedures are set forth by which all agree that government must operate, if it is not to degenerate. The alternatives are chaos, tyranny, or civil war. In the present instance, meticulous investigations and hearings have been conducted in order that senators may determine whether or not they wish to confirm Judge Kavanaugh as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. That process reached its conclusion on September 7.

After that date, despite the fact that she admits having the information for at least six weeks prior to the hearings, Senator Feinstein published an anonymous letter from a woman alleging unwanted sexual touching thirty-five years ago. These allegations have been massaged into “attempted rape” and even “attempted murder.” The senator said, in publishing the letter to the nation, that she was somehow respecting the accuser’s privacy. The woman, we are told in the press, already “passed” a polygraph and had retained a lawyer long before any of this became public (the lawyer, by the way, doubles as a most partisan Democrat activist who, after trashing Bill Clinton’s multiple accusers, now insists her one client must be believed). Why should such a late accuser have retained a lawyer (and an activist) all those weeks ago?  Further, the lawyer now insists that in order to testify (does she think she doing us a favor?) her client’s “safety must be guaranteed” (of course, such action is calculated to show that Judge Kavanaugh and his supporters are dangerous). No such endeavor is taken for Judiciary Committee witnesses. For merely doing what she regards as her heartfelt civic duty, a witness coming before this committee and the court of public opinion in good faith and with clean hands, would make no demands. Further, good faith and clean hands would have produced the allegations during the course of the hearings, not after their conclusion, when a Senate vote on confirmation was pending. Such timing and extraordinary demands simply do not comport with good faith. In fact, they strongly imply improper motives and duplicity. No court of law would tolerate such behavior by a witness for an instant.

Further suggesting impropriety, the complainant insists that she will testify only if Judge Kavanaugh testifies first! This cold and calculated gesture of bad faith runs counter to the most basic notions of due process of law. Only in Kafka and leftist tyrannies must the accused offer his defense before confronting his accuser and hearing the allegations first hand. Due process – fundamental fairness (isn’t that a fave Dem word?) – means first, one is put on notice of the specific allegations and then one has the opportunity to be heard in rebuttal. Is anyone surprised that today’s Democrats have no respect for either the rules of the senate (amply shown during the hearings), tradition of civil discourse or now, due process of law? This has indeed become a history lesson, offering profound insight into why violence is the rule, rather than the exception in settling political differences in much of the rest of the world. When one side recognizes no civil tradition and no rules whatsoever, how are differences to be settled peaceably?

Despite the intentional tardiness of her allegations – which could easily have been raised at any time prior to or during the hearings – Judge Kavanaugh’s accuser has been extended the courtesy of an invitation to testify. Witnesses do not, in our system of government, make the rules under which they testify; they must follow the established rules. In particular, the fundamental right of an accused to due process of law cannot be abrogated by a witness’ fiat. If she is unwilling to testify under the universal established and understood rules of fairness which operate in this country, she forfeits any claim to the Judiciary Committee’s consideration and will not be heard, Thank you.”


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Reflections from the Winter of my Life

Having just turned 74, with several medical conditions consistent with that age, awareness of the vulnerability and mortality I used to work so very hard to fend off and deny, is fully upon me. Although I still work one day a week as an anesthesiologist, much of my time is unstructured. I have completed all the tasks I set forth and have passed all the milestones in life to which I used to look forward. Now, I sense I am just running out the clock, one 90-day prescription renewal at a time.

My children are grown and educated without being indebted. I have actuarially-sufficient savings because, by choice, I always lived below my means. Looking back, I can clearly see how, by directing all my conscious energy toward single-minded pursuit of all the outward and visible tasks (B.A., M.S. M.D., J.D., medical licensure and board certification exams, bar exams, pilot’s license exams, including private, instrument, commercial, multiengine, flight instructor), I left myself no time or energy to examine the broader context of my life. One might say that then, I was a human doing rather than the human being I am today. As this human being, I have (too) much time to ruminate, and my inner pessimist has come to the fore.

These thoughts this Labor Day weekend, were provoked by my reading Herman Wouk’s “This is My God.” You see, at this stage of life, in lieu of external goals I am on an inner quest – for understanding. I earnestly long to understand the meaning of not only my life, but of life in the universe and its destiny. We are either blessed to cursed to live in a time when – if not answers – at least the ability to ask better questions has arisen by virtue of our exponentially-increasing knowledge of the physical universe and of our own biology.

The rate of increase of such knowledge and the technology following in its wake, is unsettling. That is the case to those of us who – in addition to seeing beginnings, meanings and ends of things –  also long to understand the context of our lives in the river of time. In that stream, we flail about, imagining we are free to move according to our will, yet often losing sight of the inexorable flow which takes us wherever it is destined. I suppose it is fair to say that nowadays some are aware of this and imagine we may eventually redirect the entire river. Who knows if humans may one day achieve such God-Like powers.

The main intellectual quest I find myself in this winter of life is an attempt to understand human ontology and, to do that it seems to me, I ought to have an intimate grasp of historical facts and also subjective human experience throughout history – even at times prior to written records. What was it like for early humans to merely subsist? To find water, food, shelter, clothing? To have children?  A third reading of “The Source” by James Michener has given me some insight into this, notwithstanding the fact the book is a work of fiction; it was based in much archeological research for which the author is renowned.

The story, set in a 1960’s fictional archeological ‘tell’ in Galilee, Israel, traces the roots of human existence in that area from the posited beginning to the present. Our ancestors first lived there in a cave adjacent to an artesian well (a source, or Makor in Hebrew) about 50,000 years ago. The particulars set forth in “The Source,” I believe, are generalizable to much of humanity in many times and at many places. It is a stark and plausible adumbration of much innate human behavior whose shadows (at least) are still apparent among us moderns.

I found myself moved to tears a few hours ago while reading the aforementioned “This is My God.”  In a chapter entitled “The Nature of Festivals,” Wouk recounts the deep agricultural roots of the Jews and says:

“But the Torah of Moses, which ordained the festivals,… prophesied that the glories would be temporary, that the people in their prosperity would lose their hold on the law and on their land, and would scatter into exile; and it ordained that the nation should go on observing the festivals wherever they dwelt, to all time. And so we do. Our people has lived for thousands of years in the faith that in God’s good time he will restore the nation to its soil, and that the festivals will take on, in their latter days, their ancient force and beauty.

Meantime – and it has been a long meantime! – these holy days, diminished as they are in substance and in pomp, are bulwarks of Judaism in exile. In Israel, even among the non-religious, they have speedily become national celebrations. To neglect them is to neglect the dikes that hold back the sea of oblivion, and to cheat oneself of pleasant and informing experiences (my emphasis). Words are dry and tenuous compared to vivid acts like clearing the home of leaven (ritually removing all traces of yeast before Passover) and marching with a palm branch. You can listen to a hundred lectures and read forty books on what Judaism is, and learn learn less than you can by carrying out in a single year the duties and the pleasure of festivals.”

The tears resulted from a realization so near that I am surprised I never saw it before. I not only did not identify with the religion and practices of my grandparents, all of whom were Ashkenazis from Eastern Europe who fled pogroms around 1900; I positively rejected all of that in a vain effort to be NOT like my father. Believing I might invent myself de novo, severed from those ancient cultural roots, I tried to fashion myself as his negation. If he was a Jew, I was not. Imprinted by childhood memories of the Depression, he lived out an intense need to have enough money and material things and to believe he had control of most everyone and everything in his vicinity.

He insisted I had to become a doctor and tried to “toughen me up” for life with criticism. He did manage to convince me that the world is generally not a safe place (this, he surely learned, himself, as part of trans-generational Jewish cultural history); this made me hyper-vigilant; I never quite lived up to his expectations of me – I never quite ‘got it right’ in his eyes. The silver lining in all that was that I was also driven to excel, which I did manage to pull off, in the eyes of most everyone else. That long list of degrees and accomplishments, in reality, was my way of manipulating the world at large to get it reassure me that I actually am a worthwhile person, despite what my father thinks. It was also my way of being sure I would always have enough, as I secretly bought into his Depression-based fears of scarcity (all the while denying it vehemently).

The essential insight I had this morning was simply this: here I am, single-mindedly (again!) trying – before I die – to understand the human nature and subjective experience of all those who came before me and lived long enough to procreate yet, all the while, rejecting my own real and uniquely accessible history going back over three millennia!

How and why my ancestors lived is explicitly laid out in the Torah, the Talmud and the extensive oral tradition. Today’s tears are tears of grief and regret over having intentionally denied myself and my children “of pleasant and informing experiences.” That is, I denied me and my children the possibility of having been in-formed, of allowing us to be formed within a known, comprehensible and even a reassuring context. I’m not sure, but I suspect that those who grow up in modernity “in-formed” with such traditions can navigate more surely the river of life in the many dimensions in which we all must navigate.

Much of modern anxiety, an attribute of our times I think,  derives from not only the increasing pace of the current of the river of our lives but also from the absence of landmarks and other navigational aids which culture – including knowledge of history – used to provide. As did I, our culture is about the business of ignoring or revising history. Doing so, in my experience, is a grievous error.

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VDH On the Real Consequences of Illegal Immigration

Victor Davis Hanson is one of the most intelligent, temperate and persuasive thinkers and writers of our time. I have followed him for many years and had the privilege of accompanying him on one of his annual tours to Europe – Greece, in my case. These are wonderful trips, complete with daily lectures and first-class accommodations. Information about future trips appears on his website, victorhanson.com .

He is in the fifth generation of a Swedish-American family which has continuously inhabited a farm near Selma in the San Joaquin Valley of California. The area grows raisins and almonds, including almost 100% of the raisins sold in the US. Victor has written intermittently for years about the joys and sorrows of living there.

In this essay, it seems clear that the sorrows have finally overtaken the joys. In Victor’s always understated and ego-free writing, he describes the real-life problems for real people which result from illegal immigration. After reading it, no reasonable person could deny the problems which continue to result from our country’s refusal to enforce its borders or its laws.

This essay is filled with caritas and pathos. I feel compelled to recommend it to fellow Ratburghers (I do think of this as our virtual town, our community, our ‘-burgh’) as one of the most quietly persuasive documents I have ever read. It might even summon forth the vestigial remnant of reason in a few radical leftists who reflexly label opponents of open borders as nativist, xenophobic, racist, hate-filled, etc., etc., etc…

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