Archive for August, 2013

The Sound of Silence

August 31, 2013

A long time ago, back when I was in fifth or sixth grade, my class went on a field trip of sorts to the Hanover College Library. We were supposed to be doing research for some project or other. when I had gathered the books and materials I needed and sat down at a little table, I discovered that I couldn’t concentrate. Something was wrong. After several minutes, I realized what was wrong. The place was silent. I don’t know if the walls and ceilings were made of some sort of sound dampening material or if it was some design of the building, but there was no sound at all. As a person who has grown up in our mechanized era, constantly surrounded by noises and machinery, I found silence to be unnerving. It was almost as if the absence of sound was aloud and distracting sound of its own. I hated the silence. (Incidentally, years later I found the library at Indiana University to be very loud. Somehow the ventilation system was always making loud knocking noises and swooshes of air. I loved it and could spend hours happily reading there.)

In politics recently, I have noticed a certain lack, especially as we seem headed for military action against Syria. Where did all the peace groups go? Whatever happened to Code Pink? Where is Not In Our Name? Where are the massive protests against Obama’s wars? Why are there no demands that Obama be tried for war crimes? Why isn’t Maureen Dowd proclaiming the absolute moral authority of grieving parents? (That “grieving mother” opposes military action against Syria, by the way. Cindy Sheehan may be a left wing loon and a lover of dictators, but at least she is consistent.) Why are policies that caused outrage while Bush was in office now greeted with silence when done by Obama?

I have an idea. Maybe I am too cynical, but could it be just possible that all of that outrage was simply for political posturing? Could it be that it was not so much Bush’s policies they opposed but Bush? Could they all be a bunch of hypocrites. It does seem odd that all of these anti war movements disappeared almost the same day Barack Obama was inaugurated. Come to think of it, notice that the Occupy Wall Street movement with its 99% against the 1% only lasted as long as the wealthy Mitt Romney was running for president. Maybe I am getting paranoid as well as cynical. The silence does seem odd, though.

Every Breath You Take

August 30, 2013

Maybe you remember this song by the Police.

 

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you

Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I’ll be watching you

O can’t you see
You belong to me
How my poor heart aches with every step you take

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I’ll be watching you

 

I wonder if this is now the theme song for the NSA. Although Every Breath You Take was primarily about a jealous lover (a stalker?), Sting had surveillance in mind as he wrote it.

I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic, an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn’t realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control.

Fitting for these times, isn’t it?

 

Going to War in Syria

August 27, 2013

It would seem that we are preparing military strikes against the Assad regime in Syria. I can’t even begin to say what an incredibly stupid idea this is. Yes, it is deplorable that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against the rebels. Yes, the current government of Syria is a vicious tyranny that has violated the human rights of the people of Syria and it deserves to be overthrown. The problem is that the rebels are Islamist fanatics that want to impose Sharia law on Syria, that are allied with al-Qaida, that they have been massacring Syria’s Christians, and that they will very likely to be as tyrannical and vicious as the Assad regime.

There are no good guys in this conflict. Both sides hate us. Both sides have links to terrorists. The last thing the Middle East needs is another Islamic state, yet that seems to be just what Obama is trying to achieve. We need to just stay out of this.

Blaming Rush Again

August 27, 2013
Rush Limbaugh booking photo from his arrest in...

More powerful than the President? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I was reading this column by Rush Limbaugh‘s younger (and smarter) brother David Limbaugh at Townhall.com and a couple of things stuck me. First of all is the unpresidential spectacle of Obama blaming Rush for his inability to get his legislation passed.

 

Once again, President Obama is personally attacking my brother, Rush,
this time to shamelessly blame him for congressional gridlock. Nice
try, Mr. President, but what really bothers you is that Rush has your
number and daily shares it with his vast audience.

In an interview last week with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Obama charged
that most congressional Republicans oppose the move to defund Obamacare
but are afraid of saying so publicly for fear of Rush’s public
condemnation. Obama made the same type of charge prior to the 2012
elections.

Obama also glibly blames congressional Republicans for any impasse
with him on budgetary policy, saying the least they can do is to pass a
budget. “Congress doesn’t have a whole lot of core responsibilities,” he
said, as if to suggest that passing a budget is a mere ministerial
function.

 

Despite the fact that Rush Limbaugh has a large platform with which to present his views, he is still only a private citizen. He has no power to enact or block legislation and it is beneath the dignity of any president to personally attack a private citizen. This sort of thing only makes Obama look petty and probably helps Limbaugh maintain his ratings. The second thing that struck me was this remark by Obama.

 

But Obama continued to dig a deeper hole of deceit in his interview, telling Cuomo that sometimes his Republican friends (who are these creatures, by the way?) tell him privately that they would support his agenda but for their fear of a primary challenge from a tea party member, or they’re “worried about what Rush Limbaugh is going to say about me on radio.”

I seriously doubt that any such conversations took place between Republican congressmen and Obama, but if they did, it shows the type of Republican who would befriend Obama — the type who is dishonest with his constituency.

 

I wouldn’t doubt that many such conversations have occurred. But the point is that isn’t this how democracy is supposed to work? These people in Congress are supposed to be representing their constituents. If their constituents are opposed to Obama’s agenda, then shouldn’t they be representing such opposition? One gets the idea that President Obama would rather rule by decree with a rubber stamp Congress giving some fiction of constitutionality. Probably all presidents have felt that way from time to time, but Obama seems less able to conceal it.

 

One of the greatest frustration that conservatives have had is politicians who talk conservative while campaigning but then vote liberal as soon as they get to Washington. Until recently these spineless wonders have been more afraid of the New York Times saying something bad about them than the reaction of the people back home. If fear of the Tea Party has caused these people to actually start expressing the will of the people they actually represent, than the Tea Party has been a very good thing for this country.

 

 

 

Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov

August 26, 2013
Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov (biologist)

Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov (biologist) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A favorite character trope of science fiction and low budget horror movies is the mad scientist. The mad scientist is a scientist who is, well, mad, or at least eccentric. He works in his laboratory alone, or with a trusted minion. His researches are often considered beyond the bounds of respected science and he is either indifferent or oblivious of the moral and ethical implications of his discoveries. He could be evil, good, or amoral. The mad scientist is not always found in science fiction, however. There have actually been real mad scientists. Perhaps the maddest of these mad scientists was Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov. He was not mad in the psychiatric sense, but he was certainly willing to push the boundaries of scientific ethics. He is most famous for his attempts to create a human-ape hybrid. He was never successful, thank goodness, but that was not for lack of effort on his part.

Ivanov was born in 1870 in the town of Shchigry in Russia. He attended the University of Kharkov and graduated in 1896. He became a professor of biology at that institution in 1907. Ivanov was an associate of Ivan Pavlov. He also worked as a research veterinarian and his primary contribution to that science was the development of methods of artificial insemination which he could use on animals, especially horses. Ivanov was able to use the semen of a single stallion to impregnate 500 mares, far more that any stallion could manage naturally. Horse breeders from around the world studied his methods and he was put to work breeding fancy horses for the ruling Romanov dynasty. Ivanov was fascinated by the idea of creating animal hybrids from species that would never even consider mating with each other in the wild. He was able to create hybrids of antelopes and cows, guinea pigs and rabbits, and zebras and donkeys. The Czar and his court were fascinated by these hybrids and while the Russian Orthodox Church frowned on artificial insemination, at least in humans, Ivanov’s future seemed assured.

Unfortunately the Romanovs were overthrown in 1917 and the Bolsheviks seized control of Russia. The Bolsheviks did not have any use for fancy animals of any sort and Ivanov was out of a job. His troubles with the Orthodox Church seemed a recommendation to the militantly atheist Communists so he was able to find work at the State Experimental Veterinary Institute. At some point he had begun considering the possibility of making a human-chimpanzee hybrid. Chimpanzees were believed to be the animal most closely related to humans and he had managed to create hybrids from species farther apart, so the experiment seemed worth trying. He needed funding from the newly created Soviet government. Since the Soviet Union was just recovering from a devastating civil war, right after a disastrous experience in World War I, it might seem that the possibility of his getting the needed funds was remote. He somehow managed to persuade the Communists that a human-chimpanzee hybrid would show that man was nothing more than just another animal and its existence would serve to discredit religion and promote Communism and atheism. The Soviet government bought his line. The rising political leader Joseph Stalin was especially enthusiastic and in 1925, he got his funding.

There are no apes native to any part of Russia, so Ivanov had to go abroad to begin his work. By 1926 he had made arrangements to conduct his experiments at a primate research facility in French Guinea. The conditions there were not ideal. The chimpanzees had been captured by poachers  and half had already died of neglect. None of the females were sexually mature, so Ivanov had to wait, while trying to gather more chimps. By February the following year, two females had become mature and Ivanov could begin at last. The two female chimps did not appreciate being sexually assaulted by a man with a syringe and his first attempts were not successful. He tried again the following spring with a sedated chimp. This attempt was also a failure.

With his chimps dying faster than they could be replaced, Ivanov decided he needed to change his procedures. He decided to return to the Soviet Union. Earlier, Ivanov had helped to establish a primate research facility in Georgia, the southernmost part of the USSR and the only territory with a climate that apes could flourish. He also decided that since it would be easier to keep one male than several females, that he would use chimpanzee semen to impregnate a human woman. He tried to make arrangements to acquire a male chimpanzee from a Cuban woman who kept a private reserve for apes, but the Ku Klux Klan learned of their plans and threatened her into withdrawing her support.

Back in Georgia, most of the remaining apes fell ill and died. The only remaining ape was an elderly orangutan. Ivanov sought for volunteers to be fertilized with the old apes semen. They had to be volunteers since the Soviet authorities decided that it would be too capitalist or bourgeois to offer money. As amazing as it may sound, Ivanov actually managed to find a woman willing to undergo the procedure. Ivanov now had only to collect the semen from the orangutan. Unfortunately, he died before Ivanov could get a sample. He would have to get more apes.

Before he had a chance to continue, however, Ivanov was arrested by the NKVD. According to stories that may or may not be true, Joseph Stalin had had visions of invincible armies of apemen working in factories and farms and advancing the Socialist cause in the Red Army. Stalin was growing impatient with Ivanov’s lack of progress and he reacted in his usual way, arresting people and shipping them off to concentration camps. Ivanov was comparatively lucky. He was only exiled to Kazakhstan. He was old and his health had become fragile, so Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov died of a stroke just before he was due to be released.

His death was considered a great loss to science in some quarters and his old colleague Ivan Pavlov wrote his obituary. No one has ever tried to produce human-ape hybrids since his death and it is unlikely anyone ever will, at least I hope.

If you want to know more about Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov, as well as many other DNA related matters, I cannot recommend highly enough Sam Kean’s The Violinist’s Thumb.

  • Oliver the Humanzee (weird.answers.com) He wasn’t really, but a lot of people thought he was.

No Feeding the Homeless in Raleigh

August 26, 2013

It seems that it is illegal to feed the homeless in Raleigh North Carolina, if this story in Yahoo News is any indication.

A North Carolina church group said they were prevented from handing out food to the homeless after police threatened them with arrest, according to their website.

For the past six years, volunteers from Love Wins Ministries frequented Moore Square in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturdays and Sundays to give out hot coffee and a breakfast sandwich to those in need, according to the church group’s website.

But when volunteers went down to their usual weekend spot to dole out the 100 sausage biscuits and the gallons of coffee they had brought to feed the crowds who had gathered Saturday morning, they were also greeted by officers with the Raleigh Police Department, according to a statement on the church group’s website.

“An officer said, quite bluntly, that if we attempted to distribute food, we would be arrested,” the Rev. Hugh Hollowell wrote on the group’s website. “We asked the officers for permission to disperse the biscuits to the over 70 people who had lined up, waiting to eat. They said no. I had to face those who were waiting and tell them that I could not feed them, or I would be arrested.”

The Raleigh police were there to enforce a city ordinance that bans the distribution of food in any of the city’s parks, ABC Raleigh, N.C., station WTVD-TV reported.

While the group said it was aware they could not use the park itself, they had set up on the sidewalk for the past six years without issue, their website said.

“No representative from the Raleigh Police Department was willing to tell us which ordinance we were breaking, or why, after six years and countless friendly and cooperative encounters with the Department, they are now preventing us from feeding hungry people,” Hollowell wrote.

In addition, the group learned it would need to apply for a permit to use the park, which costs $800 a day, their website said.

No arrests were made in connection with the food distribution, Raleigh Police Department spokesman Jim Sughrue told WTVD-TV.

“People were simply informed the ordinance prohibits the kinds of actions some groups have been engaged in at the park,” he said.

Despite the off-putting encounter, Hollowell wrote that the group plans to find a venue in downtown Raleigh to carry out their mission.

In the meantime, they are seeking out owners of private buildings or parking lots to allow them to continue to bring biscuits to the hungry, the website said.

I am not sure what to make of this. Should I add this to the war on Christianity file? Maybe the police wanted to establish that only the government should be in the helping the homeless business. On the other hand, maybe the police simply didn’t want crowds of homeless people in the park doing whatever homeless people do to pass the time. Whatever their reasons the Raleigh Police Department isn’t winning any public relation awards with this action.

State Over Church

August 25, 2013

The question of same sex marriage wouldn’t concern me nearly so much if it were a matter of everyone being permitted to do their own thing. It doesn’t harm me if two men or two women pretend to be married to each other. I know that they cannot really be married. The problem is the use of the power of the courts to force people to go along, against their religious beliefs. Here is an example from Fox News.

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled Thursday that two Christian photographers who declined to photograph a same-sex union violated the state’s Human Rights Act. One justice said the photographers were “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.”

In 2006 Vanessa Willock asked Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, owners of Elane Photography, to photograph a same-sex “commitment ceremony” in the town of Taos.

Huguenin and her husband declined the job because their Christian beliefs were in conflict with the message communicated by the ceremony.

Willock found another photographer at a cheaper price but nevertheless filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission accusing Elane Photography of discrimination based on sexual orientation. She was later found guilty and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines.

Notice that the people involved were able to find another photographer, yet they would not leave the Huguenins alone.

“The Huguenins today can no more turn away customers on the basis of their sexual orientation – photographing a same-sex marriage ceremony – than they could refuse to photograph African-Americans or Muslims,” Justice Richard Bosson wrote in the court’s unanimous decision.

Bosson said the Christian photographers are now “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.”

“Though the rule of law requires it, the result is sobering,” he wrote. “It will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins and others of similar views.”

A recent Rasmussen survey found that 85 percent of Americans support the right of a photographer to refuse participating in a same-sex wedding.

Bosson said the case provokes reflection on what the nation is about.

“At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others,” he wrote.

Somehow, it seems that only one side of this debate is always being asked to compromise and deny its beliefs. Why could the couple not respect the Huguenin’s beliefs? Why was there no respect for the beliefs of the President of Chick-fil-A. Why does the tolerance only flow one way?

Next Judge Bosson says something rather chilling.

Bosson said the case provokes reflection on what the nation is about.

“At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others,” he wrote.

He said the Constitution protects the rights of the Christian photographers to pray to the God of their choice and following religious teachings, but offered a sobering warning.

“But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life,” the justice wrote. “The Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people.”

In other words, you can believe what you want and pray to whom you want, for now, but you had better not actually try to live by those beliefs if they conflict with the needs of the state or of protected classes. Is this even remotely compatible with traditional concepts of liberty? The lawyers representing the Huguenins do not think so.

Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal firm specializing in religious liberty cases, representing the photographers. Attorney Jordan Lorence said the ruling in effect means gay rights now trump religious rights.

“Government-coerced expression is a feature of dictatorships that has no place in a free country,” Lorence said. “This decision is a blow to our client and every American’s right to live free.”

Lorence said the New Mexico Supreme Court undermined the constitutionally protected freedoms of expression and conscience.

“If Elane Photographer does not have her rights of conscience protected, then basically nobody does,” he told Fox News. “What you have here is the government punishing someone who says, ‘I, in good conscience, cannot communicate the messages of this wedding.’”

Those sympathetic to the plaintiffs disagree.

Amber Royster, the executive director of Equality New Mexico, called the court decision a big victory.

“What it came down to is this was a case about discrimination,” she told Fox News. “While we certainly believe we are all entitled to our religious beliefs, religious beliefs don’t necessarily make it okay to break the law by discriminating against others.”

Royster said forcing a business that offers services to the public to abide by discrimination laws does not violate the First Amendment – and does not pit gay rights against religious rights.

“It’s about discrimination,” she said. “It’s not religious rights versus gay rights. We have a law on the books that makes it illegal to discriminate against LGBT persons. It makes it illegal for business to do that and this business broke the law by discriminating against this couple.”

No one seems to be very concerned about protecting people like those photographers against discrimination. Again, the tolerance only goes in one direction. If you hold positions that are not politically correct, you cannot expect any tolerance or sympathy for your position. You can expect to be bullied by the courts.

I would like to warn, once again, that anyone who thinks this court case is a victory for the cause of tolerance should consider very carefully that a government that has the power to coerce people like these photographers to act against their religious beliefs also has the power to force you to act against your beliefs. You have to consider not just what your friends will do with power but also your enemies. Depending on which way the wind blows, the government could just as easily have strict enforcement of sodomy laws and force gays to go straight, or else. Giving the government more power to enforce your ideology or preferences is a dangerous game that ultimately hurts everyone.

 

Call Me Loretta

August 22, 2013

I am beginning to have the strange feeling that I have somehow stumbled into a Monty Python sketch.

 

What brings this feeling on is the news that Bradley Manning wants to be a woman. Call him Chelsea.

Bradley Manning, the Army private sentenced to military prison for leaking classified documents, revealed he intends to live out the remainder of his life as a woman.

“I am Chelsea Manning. I am female,” the Army private wrote in a statement read on TODAY Thursday. “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.”

Manning, 25, was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Wednesday after having been found guilty of 20 charges ranging from espionage to theft for leaking more than 700,000 documents to the WikiLeaks website while working in Iraq in 2010.

Manning signed the letter “Chelsea E. Manning.”

During his trial, Manning’s defense team suggested his struggles with gender identity as a gay soldier were a factor in his decision to leak. His attorneys presented an email to a former supervisor from April 2010 in which he said he was transgender and joined the Army to “get rid of it.” The email, which had the subject line “My Problem,” also included a photo of Manning in which he is wearing a blonde wig and lipstick. During Manning’s nine-month detainment at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., following his arrest in 2010, he sent two letters to his counselor using the name “Breanna,’’ Master Sgt. Craig Blenis testified at his trial.

Normally, I wouldn’t have anything to say about Mr./Miss Manning’s lifestyle choices and psychological issues, but I wish he had come to this decision before deciding to commit felonies and being sentenced to 35 years in prison. As it is, I have a sinking feeling that the taxpayers will be paying for his/her treatments.

Manning will likely serve the sentence at Fort Leavenworth, the only military prison for service members sentenced to 10 or more years, a Military District of Washington spokesperson told The Associated Press.

Coombs said he is “hoping” that Fort Leavenworth “would do the right thing” and provide hormone therapy for Manning. “If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so.”

Why should they? I have no objection to him taking hormones or having surgery, as soon as he is released from prison and can pay for them. I have a problem with making us pay for it. The Army seems to agree.

The Army responded to Manning’s decision to seek hormone therapy with a statement.

“Inmates at the United States Disciplinary Barracks and Joint Regional Correctional Facility are treated equally regardless of race, rank, ethnicity or sexual orientation,” the statement reads. “All inmates are considered soldiers and are treated as such with access to mental health professionals, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, social workers and behavioral science noncommissioned officers with experience in addressing the needs of military personnel in pre- and post-trial confinement.

“The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder. The USDB has implemented risk assessment protocols and safety procedures to address high risk factors identified with the Prison Rape Elimination Act.”

One thing I find a little disturbing about the Manning case is how someone with such an unstable personality and untrustworthy character was able to gain access to military secrets. Who is determining who gets access to classified Information. How many more people are out there who might reveal secrets. If you think Manning did the right thing, and perhaps he did, consider what someone with less noble motives might do with the information the NSA is currently gathering on every American citizen.

 

Star Birth

August 22, 2013

Everybody in Britain was excited about the birth of the new prince. That’s understandable, considering the importance of continuing the royal line, but astronomers have been recording a somewhat more significant birth, the birth of a new star. Here is the story and pictures from Yahoo News.

A huge radio telescope in Chile has captured dazzling new views of a baby star lighting up an interstellar cloud with jets of gas streaking through deep space at record-breaking speeds.

The ALMA radio telescope, a joint project between North America, Europe and Asia, recorded the star birth images. They show the nascent star about 1,400 light-years from Earth unleashing material at nearly 84,477 mph (144,000 km/h), which then crashes into surrounding gas, causing it to glow.

The glowing object spawned by the newborn star is what scientists call a Herbig-Haro object. European Southern Observatory officials used the new views to create a video tour of new star birth images.

These new, detailed images showed that the material is streaking out of the star at about 40 kilometers per second (nearly 25 miles per second), which is about four times faster than any previous observation of carbon monoxide jets, scientists said. The discovery may help researchers understand the complex processes stars undergo during their birth.

The sun is a star, so if we want to understand how our solar system was created, we need to understand how stars are formed,” Héctor Arce, the lead author of the study appearing in the Astrophysical Journal on Aug. 20, said in a statement.

 The new image of Herbig-Haro 46/47 (HH 46/47) produced by the ALMA telescope, its name is short for Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, reveals two jets of material streaming away from the newborn star, one of which was never detected before.

 One jet appears on the left side of the photo in pink and purple streaming partially toward Earth, while the orange and green jet on the right-hand-side show a jet pointed away from Earth.

 “This system is similar to most isolated low mass stars during their formation and birth,” Diego Mardones, a co-author of the study detailing the stellar findings said in a statement. “But it is also unusual because the outflow impacts the cloud directly on one side of the young star and escapes out of the cloud on the other. This makes it an excellent system for studying the impact of the stellar winds on the parent cloud from which the young star is formed.”

ALMA’s sensitive instruments took five hours to get these results. Earlier photos taken with other telescopes did not catch the second (orange and green) jet stream because dust surrounding the star obscured their views.

“ALMA’s exquisite sensitivity allows the detection of previously unseen features in this source, like this very fast outflow,” Arce said. “It also seems to be a textbook example of a simple model where the molecular outflow is generated by a wide-angle wind from the young star.”

 The $1.3 billion ALMA radio telescope is an array of 66 of individual radio telescopes that create one of the most powerful telescopes ever built. Each dish is up to 40 feet wide (12 meters) and can weigh 115 tons. The combined effort of the telescopes allows scientists to see celestial sights invisible in optical light because they are masked by gas and dust.

Here are some baby pictures.

Isn’t he the cutest thing. I think we should name him George.

 

 

 

 

Bringing Down America

August 20, 2013

In 1969, Vietnam Veteran Larry Grathwohl had a chance encounter with some members of the radical group the Weathermen. Most people would have simply dismissed them as crazy hippies. Larry Grathwohl was not most people. He was concerned enough by their violent rhetoric to discuss the encounter with his father in law, a retired Cincinnati police officer. Grathwohl’s father in law encouraged him to share his concerns with the Cincinnati Police Department and the FBI. Grathwohl decided, partly on his own initiative, to try to infiltrate the Weathermen and was surprisingly successful. Despite having no training in undercover work, Larry Grathwohl managed to gain the confidence of the inner circles of the Weathermen and when they decided to underground, they took him with them. All this time, Grathwohl was sending information to the FBI and trying to frustrate the Weathermen’s plans for a violent revolution.

Bringing Down America is the story of Larry Grathwohl’s adventures as an FBI informant in the Weathermen. It is an exciting story and somewhat harrowing when the reader considers how deadly earnest these radicals were with their plans for revolution. They planned bombings, assassinations, riots, kidnappings, robberies; all for the Revolution. The Weathermen had some limited success and the only reason that they didn’t do more damage was their own incompetence as terrorists.

Weathermen_Book_Cover_6x9-11-200x300

There are a couple of points to consider after reading Bringing Down America. First is that the Weathermen were woefully inept at terrorism and revolution. At least one of their bomb making facilities blew up killing several Weathermen. They never seemed to have any realistic ideas on how to successfully carry out a campaign of terrorism. What plans they made were often wildly beyond their actual capabilities.

Second, the former Weathermen are far more dangerous now than they were back then. They made for inept terrorists, but now many of the former leaders of the Weathermen have positions of considerable influence. Bill Ayers is now an important expert on education. He helps decide what your children are learning in school. Bernardine Dohrn is doing her part as a “social activist” teaching law to undermine the rule of law. There is also Ayer’s protégé, one Barack Obama who has been moderately successful in politics.

None of these people has ever expressed the slightest regret for their criminal actions and there is no reason to believe their desire to fundamentally transform America into something resembling Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China has mellowed in the slightest. They are still dedicated to bringing down America.

 

 


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