Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. The story of Thanksgiving that we remember, with the turkey meal, etc is based on the Thanksgiving celebration held by the settlers of the Plymouth colony in 1621. They had a lot to be thankful for. These Pilgrims had decided to immigrate to the New World so that they could practice their religion freely. They had intended to settle at the mouth of the Hudson River but their departure from England on the Mayflower had been delayed and the trip across the Atlantic had been rough. They reached America farther north than they had intended, at Provincetown Harbor in November 1620. While they did not really have a legal right to create a colony in what is now Massachusetts, no one really wanted to spend the winter at sea so, on December 21, 1620, the Pilgrims began to build the settlement at Plymouth.

Model of a 17th century English merchantman sh...
Would you spend any more time in a leaky ship like this than you had to? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first winter at the new colony was very hard. About half of the colonists had died by spring. By what must have seemed incredible luck or divine providence, the colonists were able to make contact with two Natives who could speak English. One of these was named Samoset and he had learned some English from English trappers and fishermen. He introduced the Pilgrims to the other man, Squanto, who had a truly remarkable life. Captured by Englishmen, he was taken to England and instructed in the English language in the hope that he could serve as an interpreter. When he was brought back to New England, he was captured again, this time by members of John Smith’s expedition who planned to sell captured Indians as slaves in Spain. In Spain, some friars learned of this plan and had the Indians freed and instructed in the Catholic religion. Squanto was able to make his way back to England and then across the Atlantic. There, he discovered that his whole tribe had been destroyed by the diseases, probably smallpox, that the Europeans had brought to the New World.

Squanto was willing to help the Pilgrims and taught what they needed to know to survive in New England. The harvest in the summer of 1621 was good enough that the Pilgrims did not need to fear starvation that winter. They had a feast that Autumn to celebrate their good fortune and to give thanks to God. This celebration was not considered to be very remarkable. Thanksgiving celebrations were fairly common at the time, especially among people who had successfully made the difficult and dangerous voyage across the ocean. It was not really the first Thanksgiving.

The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon G...
The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930).

There were proclamations of thanksgiving at various times in American history, especially during the Revolutionary War, but the holiday we know of as Thanksgiving really began in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that a national day of Thanksgiving was to be celebrated on the final Thursday of November. It might not seem that there was all that much to be thankful for in the middle of the Civil War but the tide was turning in the North’s favor after the victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg that July and the country was continuing to grow in strength and prosperity despite the horrors of the war. Lincoln’s proclamation set the date for the national holiday that has been celebrated ever since. Franklin Roosevelt set the date a week earlier in 1939 in the hope that an earlier date would mean a longer shopping season for Christmas, thus helping the economy still mired in the Great Depression. This was not without controversy and in October 1941 Congress officially set the date of Thanksgiving on the fourth, and almost always the last, Thursday in November.

So, enjoy your turkey but remember to be thankful to God. If you happen to be an American you really are one of the luckiest people on Earth.

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Democracy Deniers

Everyone else is talking about the failed red wave in the last midterm elections, so I might as well put in my two cents worth. That is probably what my opinion is worth, but I might as well. It ought to have been a wave election. The alleged president Joe Biden is historically unpopular. The economy is doing poorly, with levels of inflation not seen since the Carter years. Biden is senile, and the United States has become a laughing stock under his administration. The Republicans should have won big. Why didn’t they?

There has been a lot of blame attached to President Trump, particularly from the establishment, Never Trump Republicans. It has to be admitted that thanks to the lying propaganda of the mainstream, Democratic (but I repeat myself) media, Trump has become toxic among large swaths of the public, particularly the low-information voters. Yet despite the narrative that Trump-backed candidates were losers, the vast majority of his candidates won the election. If there is anyone who deserves blame, it is more likely to be the Republican establishment, particularly Mitch McConnell. It seems obvious, to me that McConnell, along with most of the rest of the establishment Republicans, would prefer to be in the minority. This preference may be either because being in the minority absolves them from actually governing, or because they prefer to be in the junior wing of the elite uniparty rather than allow the people to have a say on governing the country.

But all this discussion of which Republican is at fault for the party’s disappointing showing in the last election is ignoring the elephant, or rather, the donkey in the room, the question of fraud. I do not know to what extent fraud determined the results of the elections of 2020 or 2022. I cannot prove that there was any fraud at all. The fact is, however, that it is all too easy, in many states, to commit election fraud. I do not believe that it was a coincidence that the Republicans did well in those states like Florida or my own state of Indiana, which have made some effort in securing our elections, while the Republicans did more poorly than expected in those states that did not. Call me cynical, but it seems to me to be obvious that where it is easy for people to cheat, many people will cheat. If you do not want people cheating, make it difficult to cheat. I do not believe that the Republicans are more honest or virtuous than the Democrats, yet it does seem that the Democrats are the main beneficiaries of electoral fraud in this country. The Democrats are certainly the ones who have opposed even the most elementary measures to secure our elections while sponsoring a ‘For the People‘ bill that would entrench fraud on a national scale while overturning what limited protections the Republicans have placed against electoral fraud.

The Republicans need to make election integrity an issue, perhaps the issue. Election integrity laws should be in place in all fifty states. This means everyone should be required to show proper identification at the polling place. Ballots should be paper, not electronic. Absentee voting should be limited to voters who legitimately cannot be physically present at the polling place; the physically disabled, soldiers deployed overseas, etc. There should be no same-day voter registration, no unsupervised ballot drop boxes, no ballot harvesting, no early voting, and no mail-in ballots that are not postmarked on or before election day. Ballots that lack a clear chain of custody should not be counted under any circumstances. Elections in states that fail to take these common-sense measures should be regarded as suspicious as best and assumed to be fraudulent.

The Democrats will, no doubt, call these measures acts of racist voter suppression. The fact is, however, that people of all races are more likely to vote when they see the process as honest. Why bother to vote when the outcome is already determined? Isn’t it racist to assume that Blacks or Hispanics are somehow incapable of acquiring documents that prove identity when it is all but impossible to get along in our society without some way of proving identity? The Democrats will continue to call those of us who are concerned with election integrity democracy deniers or election deniers. I would say that it is the Democrats, who stand in the way of election security who are the true democracy deniers. A government that is put into place through fraudulent, rigged elections can hardly be accurately described as democratic. People who are concerned about ‘our democracy’ can best show their concern by ensuring our elections are fair and honest.

COINTELPRO

Lately, there has been increasing skepticism among conservatives about the Federal Bureau of Investigation among many on the right. The raid on Mar-a-Lago, the involvement of the FBI in the plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Whitmer, and perhaps the ‘insurrection’ of January 6, harassment of prominent Trump supporters such as Mike Lindell, and arrest of pro-life activists have all contributed to the impression that the FBI has become a corrupt and repressive tool of the Democratic Party and the deep state elites.

This new skeptical attitude represents a sea change in the positions of the Right and the Left. It used to be liberals who expressed doubts about the power and possible civil rights violations of federal law enforcement agencies while law and order conservatives have tended to blindly support the police at every level and ignore all but the most obvious cases of corruption and violations of civil rights. Now that the force of the federal government has become increasingly weaponized against conservative dissent, the Right is awakening to the very real dangers of an over-powerful FBI. The Left, which now benefits from the increased repressive power of the federal government now supports federal, though not local, law enforcement, and we see the strange spectacle of the same people who urged defunding the local police suggesting that questioning the FBI is somehow unpatriotic and taking the side of the domestic terrorists.

The fact is that contrary to what many conservatives believe the corruption of the FBI is no new thing. The FBI has, in fact, been problematic since its beginning, with a long history of civil rights violations and prioritizing suppressing dissent over fighting crime. Most people have been unaware of the dangers posed by the FBI because they have generally targeted unpopular fringe groups. It is only recently that the FBI has used its power against mainstream organizations. The danger has been there all along, however.

To see the threat the FBI has posed to our liberties, one needs to look no further than COINTELPRO. According to Wikipedia, COINTELPRO was:

a series of covert and illegal projects actively conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic American political organizations

COINTELPRO began in 1956 and only ended when the program was revealed to the public by the Citizen’s Commission to Investigate the FBI in 1971. The Citizen’s Commission managed to steal documents from an FBI office and get them published by the Washington Post. Congress subsequently investigated COINTELPRO as part of the Church Committee’s general investigation of illegal surveillance and covert actions by intelligence and law enforcement agencies of the U. S. government.

The targets of COINTELPRO included:

 feminist organizations,the Communist Party USAanti–Vietnam War organizers, activists of the civil rights movement and Black Power movement (e.g. Martin Luther King Jr., the Nation of Islam, and the Black Panther Party), environmentalist and animal rights organizations, the American Indian Movement (AIM), Chicano and Mexican-American groups like the Brown Berets and the United Farm Workers, independence movements (including Puerto Rican independence groups such as the Young Lords and the Puerto Rican Socialist Party), a variety of organizations that were part of the broader New Left, and far-right groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the National States’ Rights Party.

Now, to be clear, most, if not all, of these organizations deserved at least some scrutiny from law enforcement. The Communist Party and associated Socialist organizations were, at least in theory, committed to the violent overthrow of the US government, and the Communists were funded by a hostile foreign power. The Ku Klux Klan and the Black Panthers were both racist organizations with a history of violence. Not all of the anti-Viet Nam war protestors were peaceful flower children. It would have been entirely appropriate for the FBI to conduct surveillance on many of these groups. Indeed it might have been negligent for them not to keep an eye on them. The problem is the FBI did much more than simply watch these groups. The FBI actively sought to harass, break up, and discredit organizations that held unpopular fringe political opinions. The FBI’s methods included:

  • Infiltration: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit, disrupt and negatively redirect action. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents.
  • Psychological warfare: The FBI and police used myriad “dirty tricks” to undermine movements. They planted false media stories and published bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups. They forged correspondence, sent anonymous letters, and made anonymous telephone calls. They spread misinformation about meetings and events, set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents, and manipulated or strong-armed parents, employers, landlords, school officials, and others to cause trouble for activists. They used bad-jacketing to create suspicion about targeted activists, sometimes with lethal consequences.
  • Harassment via the legal system: The FBI and police abused the legal system to harass dissidents and make them appear to be criminals. Officers of the law gave perjured testimony and presented fabricated evidence as a pretext for false arrests and wrongful imprisonment. They discriminatorily enforced tax laws and other government regulations and used conspicuous surveillance, “investigative” interviews, and grand jury subpoenas in an effort to intimidate activists and silence their supporters.
  • Illegal force: The FBI conspired with local police departments to threaten dissidents; to conduct illegal break-ins in order to search dissident homes; and to commit vandalism, assaults, beatings and assassinations.The objective was to frighten or eliminate dissidents and disrupt their movements.
  • Undermine public opinion: One of the primary ways the FBI targeted organizations was by challenging their reputations in the community and denying them a platform to gain legitimacy. Hoover specifically designed programs to block leaders from “spreading their philosophy publicly or through the communications media”. Furthermore, the organization created and controlled negative media meant to undermine black power organizations. For instance, they oversaw the creation of “documentaries” skillfully edited to paint the Black Panther Party as aggressive, and false newspapers that spread misinformation about party members. The ability of the FBI to create distrust within and between revolutionary organizations tainted their public image and weakened chances at unity and public support.

These methods go far beyond what ought to be acceptable for a law enforcement agency in a free, constitutional republic. These are police state methods, the sort of procedure you might expect from the KGB or the Gestapo. All of the members of the political organizations targeted by the FBI had a perfect right to belong to and promote the ideology of those organizations so long as they obeyed the law and abstained from violence. There is no law, and ought not to be a law that prohibits anyone from being a Communist, a Black Panther, a Klansman, or anything else they want to be.

COINTELPRO officially ended in April 1971. The FBI was supposed to have ended the illegal surveillance and harassment of law-abiding citizens, but there is good reason to suspect their illegal shenanigans have continued. Over the years, members of fringe movements on both the right and left have complained about the FBI’s actions. Lately, the FBI has been more blatant in its actions against groups deemed to be threatening to the political order, and as the FBI, along with many other federal agencies, has become less professional and more politicized under the Obama and Biden administrations, it has increasingly targeted mainstream conservatives.

The history of the FBI has generally been that of a rouge agency that threatens rather than defends the life and liberty of American citizens. A law enforcement agency with wide-ranging powers and contempt for the rights of the American people has no place in a constitutional republic. If there is, indeed, a need for a federal law enforcement agency like the FBI as part of our government, it should be an agency of strictly limited jurisdiction and under the oversight of Congress. I do not believe the FBI can be redeemed or reformed. It must be defunded and abolished.

Yom Kippur

This evening at sunset Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar begins. Yom Kippur is observed on the tenth day of the seventh month, Tishrei, of the Jewish calendar. This year that corresponds to October 4.  On this day Jews ask for forgiveness for the sins they have committed against God and their fellow men over the past year.  They fast for 25 hours on this day, starting about 20 minutes before sundown the previous day and continuing until the evening of the day. Jews also attend Synagogue services for much of the day and there are five services in contrast to the usual three prayers on most days and four on Sabbaths. After the last service, they recite the Shema, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One”, and blow the Shofar.

Here is the Biblical description of the Day of Atonement.

1 The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the LORD. 2The LORD said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.

3 “This is how Aaron is to enter the Most Holy Place: He must first bring a young bull for a sin offering[a] and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on. 5 From the Israelite community he is to take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.

6 “Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. 7 Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 8 He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat.[b]9 Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering. 10 But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.

11 “Aaron shall bring the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household, and he is to slaughter the bull for his own sin offering. 12 He is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before the LORD and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain. 13 He is to put the incense on the fire before the LORD, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the tablets of the covenant law, so that he will not die. 14 He is to take some of the bull’s blood and with his finger sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover; then he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the atonement cover.

15 “He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull’s blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. 16 In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the tent of meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 17 No one is to be in the tent of meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel.

18 “Then he shall come out to the altar that is before the LORD and make atonement for it. He shall take some of the bull’s blood and some of the goat’s blood and put it on all the horns of the altar. 19 He shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times to cleanse it and to consecrate it from the uncleanness of the Israelites.

20 “When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. 21 He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. 22 The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.

23 “Then Aaron is to go into the tent of meeting and take off the linen garments he put on before he entered the Most Holy Place, and he is to leave them there. 24 He shall bathe himself with water in the sanctuary area and put on his regular garments. Then he shall come out and sacrifice the burnt offering for himself and the burnt offering for the people, to make atonement for himself and for the people. 25 He shall also burn the fat of the sin offering on the altar.

26 “The man who releases the goat as a scapegoat must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp. 27 The bull and the goat for the sin offerings, whose blood was brought into the Most Holy Place to make atonement, must be taken outside the camp; their hides, flesh and intestines are to be burned up. 28 The man who burns them must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp.

29 “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work—whether native-born or a foreigner residing among you— 30 because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins. 31 It is a day of sabbath rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance. 32 The priest who is anointed and ordained to succeed his father as high priest is to make atonement. He is to put on the sacred linen garments 33 and make atonement for the Most Holy Place, for the tent of meeting and the altar, and for the priests and all the members of the community.

34 “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.”

And it was done, as the LORD commanded Moses. (Lev 16:1-34)

Since the Temple was destroyed in AD 70, the ceremonies pertaining to the Most Holy Place cannot now be performed. Instead, Jews remember the Temple ceremonies in the Avodah service. Orthodox and most Conservative Synagogues have a detailed recitation of the Temple Ceremony.

Here is a detailed description of Yom Kippur Services.

So, G’mar Hatimah Tovah.

Rosh Hashanah

Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and the first of the High Holy Days. To be more precise, Rosh Hashanah actually began yesterday evening, since the Jews traditionally begin a new day at sunset. This holiday takes place on the first two days of the month of Tishrei in the Hebrew calendar. Because the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar, the dates wander a bit in our Gregorian calendar. This year it takes place on September 25-27. The New Year is celebrated for two days because of the difficulty of determining the precise day of the new moon.

Rosh Hashanah, which means “the head of the year”,  is not mentioned as such in the Bible. Instead, the day is called “Zikaron Teru’ah” a memorial of the blowing of horns in Leviticus 23:24, and “Yom Teru’ah” the day of blowing the horn in Numbers 23:9.

 23 The LORD spoke to Moses: 24 “Tell the Israelites, ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you must have a complete rest, a memorial announced by loud horn blasts, a holy assembly. 25 You must not do any regular work, but you must present a gift to the LORD.’”  (Lev. 23:23-25)

1 “‘On the first day of the seventh month, you are to hold a holy assembly. You must not do your ordinary work, for it is a day of blowing trumpets for you. 2 You must offer a burnt offering as a sweet aroma to the LORD: one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs one year old without blemish.  3 “‘Their grain offering is to be of finely ground flour mixed with olive oil, three-tenths of an ephah for the bull, two-tenths of an ephah for the ram, 4 and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs,note 5 with one male goat for a purification offering to make an atonement for you; 6 this is in addition to the monthly burnt offering and its grain offering, and the daily burnt offering with its grain offering and their drink offerings as prescribed, as a sweet aroma, a sacrifice made by fire to the LORD. (Num 29:1-6)

I mentioned that the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar. That is not quite correct. A fully lunar calendar would be based solely on the phases of the moon that would cycle through the year, as the Islamic Calendar does. Instead, the Hebrew calendar is a lunisolar calendar. The twelve months add up to 354 days, so to keep up with the seasons extra, intercalary months are added in a nineteen-year cycle. Seven intercalary months are added during the cycle so that a thirteenth month is added every two or three years. This means that the dates wander a bit compared to the Gregorian calendar but stay within the appropriate seasons.

Anyway, Shana Tova everyone.

Suppressing Science

Over the centuries, we have found that the best way to discover truths about the natural world is through the method of examination, observation, and experimentation known as science. The use of science over the last few centuries has allowed us to make discoveries about the universe and invent new technologies that have fundamentally changed the world we live in, for better or worse but mainly for the better.

Science only works, however, when the people practicing it engage in a relentless, even passionate pursuit of the truth, whatever the consequences. Scientists must honestly report the results of their observations and experiments, even if the results are not what they would like. They must be willing to acknowledge when an experiment disproves the theory they are trying to prove. In particular, for science to work, scientists must be able to work without fear of political or ideological interference.

This is why I find the article, And Yet it Moves, by Jukka Savolainen in City Journal.

Nature Human Behavior, one of the most prestigious journals for social science research, recently published an editorial titled “Science must respect the dignity and rights of all humans.” Though short, the article generated tremendous pushback among academics and intellectuals concerned about the spread of social-justice ideology into science. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker said the journal was “no longer a peer-reviewed scientific journal but an enforcer of a political creed,” while Greg Lukianoff, the CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, described the journal’s statement as “an epistemic catastrophe.” What did the editorial say?

In short, it took the position that scientific truth should defer to politics. The journal now considers it appropriate to suppress research that “undermines—or could reasonably be perceived to undermine—the rights and dignities” of people or groups, as well as “text or images that disparage a person or group on the basis of socially constructed human groupings.” Researchers are urged to “consider the potential implications of research on human groups defined on the basis of social characteristics” and “to contextualise their findings to minimize as much as possible potential misuse or risks of harm to the studied groups in the public sphere.” Anything that could be perceived as disparaging is now fair game for rejection or retraction.

The implications on scientific inquiry and truth-seeking are clear. As the journalist Jesse Singal observed, an empirically flawless study could be retracted under the guise of social justice. “What’s most alarming is that unless I’m missing something, research that is perfectly valid and well-executed could run afoul of these guidelines,” he wrote.

Mr. Savolainen points out that this kind of censorship has become increasingly common in the scientific community, especially in the social sciences. He gives two examples of studies that were attacked and suppressed because their results were at variance with politically correct orthodoxy. Such findings might “cause harm” to a particular group and therefore should not be published. Some things are more important than the truth.

The problem with this approach is that it is impossible to suppress the truth indefinitely. Sooner or later, the truth comes out. As the title of the article, what Galileo allegedly whispered to himself, suggests, the Catholic Church tried to suppress the knowledge that the Earth moves around the Sun. The Inquisition may have been able to intimidate Galileo into proclaiming the Earth does not move, but the Earth does move; what the Catholic Church did by silencing Galileo was to gain the undeserved reputation of being a body of ignoramuses. Scientific journals which try to quash inconvenient studies will acquire a similar reputation.

The motivation for these acts of censorship may be noble. The editors seem to be concerned that reporting facts that might reflect negatively on groups that have historically been oppressed, perhaps providing excuses for further oppression. Whether the motivation for concealing truths is or is not noble, it is still a bad idea. If the members of a particular group suffer from some social dysfunction, perhaps they commit crimes at a greater rate than the national average, or lag in educational attainments suppressing the studies that reveal such dysfunctions does not help anyone. We cannot resolve the problems that a particular group of people might have unless we know all of the relevant facts. Suppressing these facts only gives credence to the bigots who use this ‘suppressed knowledge’ to suggest that the marginalized people the censors imagine they are helping are inherently inferior.

When you value politically correct ideology more than the truth, you will never discover what the truth is. You cannot do science unless you are willing to pursue the truth where ever it may lead. You may use scientific terminology and perhaps some aspects of the scientific method, but you are not doing science. You are performing what the physicist Richard Feynman called cargo cult science. The people at Nature Human Behavior have decided to give up real science in favor of the cargo cult variety.

Twenty-One Years

It has been twenty years since the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, and I still remember it as if it were yesterday.

On that Tuesday morning, I was at work, driving from Madison to North Vernon when I got a call from my wife. She asked me if I was listening to the radio. I was not. She told me to turn it on because something terrible was happening. I turned my car radio on and listened to the coverage of the attack.

I went about my duties at the stores in North Vernon in a sort of state of shock.  The North Vernon Walmart and Jay C played continuing news coverage of the day’s events instead of the usual soothing Musak. Not too many people were working or shopping in the stores. They were mostly just listening.

I had to go to Seymour for a meeting that afternoon. On the way, I noticed that some gas stations had raised the price of gasoline to a then unheard-of price of $5 per gallon. At the meeting, no one wanted to discuss the business at hand. Instead, we talked about the terrorist attack. It seemed certain to us all that more attacks were on the way and that this time we couldn’t just launch a few missiles, blow up some tents, and then move on. We were in for a long fight.

I don’t remember much about the rest of that day. I went home but I don’t remember much about it.

I was once in the World Trade Center. I was in New York with some friends as a sort of tourist and we took the elevator to the top floor of one of the twin towers. There was a gallery up there where you could look out over the city of New York. The day was foggy so I didn’t see anything. They had a gift shop in the center section of the floor. It sickens me to think that the people who worked there went to work one morning, and then had to choose between burning to death or jumping, Not to mention the tourists, who only wanted to look at the city.

It still sickens me to think about the people who were only doing their jobs having to lose their lives.

It sickens me, even more, to have an alleged president turn tail and run from the kind of terrorists who committed this atrocity, abandoning Americans in Afghanistan, or to have this so-called president declaring his fellow Americans a threat to the country while ignoring the external threats, probably because the traitor president is bought and paid for our enemies, but there it is.

twin

The End of an Era

Queen Elizabeth II is dead.

Long live King Charles III

From the Washington Post.

Queen Elizabeth II, the seemingly eternal monarch who became a bright but inscrutable beacon of continuity in the United Kingdom during more than seven decades of rule, died Sept. 8 at Balmoral Castle, her estate in the Scottish Highlands. She was 96.

Her death, of undisclosed causes, was announced by Buckingham Palace.

In her reign, which began in February 1952 after the death of her father, King George VI, Elizabeth served as a constant and reassuring figure in Britain and on the world stage as she helped lead her country through a period of profound shifts in geopolitical power and national identity.

The designs of postage stamps and bank notes changed through the decades, but they all depicted the same, if aging, monarch. The British national anthem now shifts to “God Save the King,” but most Britons have only known the other version, for the queen.

It is the end of an era. Queen Elizabeth II is the only monarch most Britons, and most of us elsewhere, have ever known. Although as an American I live in a republic without any kings or queens, I am enough of an anglophile that I felt that she was my queen. I am sorry to see her go and I wish the best of luck to the new King of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Trump for President 2024

When Donald Trump began his run for president back in 2015, I was a Trump skeptic. I did not think Trump was a serious candidate. I did not believe he had any chance of winning the Republican nomination, much less the general election. If Trump were nominated, I thought he would be a sure loser against Hilary Clinton. If by some miracle, Trump won, I was sure he would govern as a mushy moderate centrist. Trump’s political stands in the past gave me no confidence that he would turn out to be a conservative president.

Indiana doesn’t hold its primaries until May, and by that time. the once enormous Republican field had dwindled to just two candidates, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. I voted for Ted Cruz. By that time, however, it was obvious that Donald Trump was going to be the Republican nominee for president, running against Hilary Clinton. Since I knew that Mrs. Clinton was as corrupt as her husband and a leftist ideologue, I resigned myself to voting for Trump as the lesser evil.

A strange thing happened in the campaign, however. The people who supported Donald Trump were really enthusiastic about their candidate. Trump generated more enthusiasm than any Republican candidate in recent memory, he was no Mitt Romney or Bob Dole. The people loved him. More importantly, the people who opposed Donald Trump seemed to really, really hate him. The Democrats have always announced the current Republican presidential candidate as the latest incarnation of Adolf Hitler, but this time they seemed to mean it. Even more interesting, many Republicans and conservative pundits expressed the opinion that Trump was unacceptable as a political candidate and would support Clinton as the lesser evil. It seemed to me that all the people I really hate really hated Donald Trump. That led me to believe that he must be doing something right. I began to paraphrase Matt Stone’s comment about liberals and conservatives saying that I hated Donald Trump, but I really fucking hated the people who hated Donald Trump.

Trump won the election, of course, and he exceeded my expectations. Trump turned out to be, in many ways, the most conservative president since Ronald Reagan himself. Trump appointed conservative justices who respected the constitution to the Supreme Court and made the entire judicial system more conservative. He encouraged manufacturers to return to the US, and the economy was booming, with record lows in unemployment for Blacks and Hispanics. Trump didn’t manage to build the wall on the southern border, but illegal immigration slowed to a trickle. Trump was the first president since Jimmy Carter not to initiate any new military actions, but he managed to promote peace in the Middle East and elsewhere. He was a successful president despite having both political parties and virtually the entire media against him. So, while I was a reluctant Trump voter in 2016, by 2020, I was an enthusiastic Trump supporter.

Naturally, our elites couldn’t have an outsider have a successful presidency, especially when the President’s Make America Great Again agenda proved so beneficial to the American people and so inimical to their own interests. They certainly couldn’t have him reelected for another four years. As the 202o election approached, they made every effort to ‘fortify’ the election to ensure Trump’s loss. The COVID pandemic provided a perfect pretext to destroy the economy with lockdowns and illegally change the electoral laws in key states, making fraud by mail-in votes much easier. Social media companies suppressed information about the criminal acts of the Biden family while spreading misinformation about Trump. Finally, on election night, they resorted to blatant cheating then Trump ‘lost’ the election.

By all indications, Donald Trump is planning to run again in 2024. I have had somewhat ambiguous feelings about this. Right now, Donald Trump is seventy-six years old. In 2024, he will be seventy-eight, the same age Joe Biden was when he entered the White House. While Trump does not show the obvious signs of dementia Biden has shown, I wonder if Trump will be too old for the j0b. In addition, there is no denying that Trump has been a polarizing figure. If half the country loves him, the other half certainly hates him with a passion. Maybe the Republicans should go with a younger, less obnoxious candidate. Maybe, they should nominate a candidate who supports Trump’s policies, but that lacks Trump’s offputting persona, someone like Ron DeSantis, perhaps.

I was leaning towards that position, but recent events have caused me to change my mind and support Donald Trump for 2024. First, there was the unprecedented raid on Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago. Then the alleged President denounced the half of the country that supports Trump as ‘semi-Fascists’ and a threat to ‘our democracy. The elites who have spent the four years of Trump’s presidency hating him and everything he stands for still hate him and anyone who supports him. As Trump has said, “They don’t hate me. They hate you. I’m just in the way.”

In his first term, Trump had managed to expose the corruption and rottenness of many of our institutions. In his second term, he might be able to purge the putrefaction in the system. That is why they hate and fear him. That is why they hate and fear we the people. That is why Trump must be elected to a second term in 2024. That is why I have put aside all of my reservations and enthusiastically support Trump for president in 2024.

Mar-a-Lago

I think I can safely say that with the FBI’s raid of President Donald Trump’s residence at Mar A Lago on August 8, 2022, America is no longer the constitutional republic we have grown up in. We are now well on the way to a complete transition to an authoritarian banana republic complete with an arbitrary, politicized justice system, rigged elections, a state controlled new media, and a tyrannical disregard for the fundamental civil rights of the citizenry.

Here is Mr. Trump’s statement on this disgraceful affair.

These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents. Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before. After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate. It is prosecutorial misconduct, the weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024, especially based on recent polls, and who will likewise do anything to stop Republicans and Conservatives in the upcoming Midterm Elections. Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries. Sadly, America has now become one of those Countries, corrupt at a level not seen before. They even broke into my safe! What is the difference between this and Watergate, where operatives broke into the Democrat National Committee? Here, in reverse, Democrats broke into the home of the 45th President of the United States.

The political persecution of President Donald J. Trump has been going on for years, with the now fully debunked Russia, Russia, Russia Scam, Impeachment Hoax #1, Impeachment Hoax #2, and so much more, it just never ends. It is political targeting at the highest level!

Hillary Clinton was allowed to delete and acid wash 33,000 E-mails AFTER they were subpoenaed by Congress. Absolutely nothing has happened to hold her accountable. She even took antique furniture, and other items from the White House.

I stood up to America’s bureaucratic corruption, I restored power to the people, and truly delivered for our Country, like we have never seen before. The establishment hated it. Now, as they watch my endorsed candidates win big victories, and see my dominance in all polls, they are trying to stop me, and the Republican Party, once more. The lawlessness, political persecution, and Witch Hunt must be exposed and stopped.

I will continue to fight for the Great American People!

Robert Spencer says it best:

When the FBI raided Donald Trump’s home on Monday, a key aspect of what made the United States of America great and free has been lost, and likely cannot be recovered. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson detested one another for years before their eventual reconciliation, but neither one used the agencies of the U.S. government to hound, persecute or discredit the other. Other bitter political opponents throughout the history of the republic have never before used the government’s own mechanisms of justice to do injustice to their foes. Joe Biden, Merrick Garland and their henchmen have brought America to a new phase of its history, and it is not likely to be one that is marked by respect for the rule of law or defense of the rights of individual citizens. Instead, we are entering an ugly age of authoritarianism, in which the brute force of the state is used to bend the people to the will of the tyrant.


This is banana republic stuff. This is the kind of thing that moved Woodrow Wilson to intervene militarily in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua, explaining: “We are friends of constitutional government in America; we are more than its friends, we are its champions. I am going to teach the South American republics to elect good men.” Wilson was an authoritarian scoundrel and one of the worst presidents we have ever endured, but much as he hated Theodore Roosevelt and feared that he would be reelected to the presidency in 1920 (instead, Roosevelt died in 1919), Wilson never had rogue government agents raid Roosevelt’s home looking for something they could use to pin some crime on him.

 

The lesson is clear: in America today, in the corrupt kleptocracy of Joe Biden, you have to have the right opinions. Then all doors will open for you and you can even break laws with impunity, and have no fear of prosecution. But if you dare to dissent from the opinions of the elites, prepare to be hounded by the new super-IRS and the weaponized FBI, and you’ll face raids, and prison, and who knows what else is coming.

Precisely. The sole purpose of this raid is to find something, anything they can use against Donald Trump to prevent him from running again. What’s next? Will they arrest Trump on trumped-up charges and then announce he committed suicide? Or perhaps he will have a “heart attack” while in federal custody. I feel like a crazy conspiracy theorist just writing this, but apparently, they are done even pretending the rule of law is operative in today’s new America. 

Meanwhile, the Republicans are having fits. It remains to be seen whether they are all talk or will actually do something to stop this lawless regime. Honestly, I am not confident that they will finally grow a spine.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is promising an investigation if the Republicans win control of the House of Representatives. 

Yes, that will work. 

What is Mr. McCarthy planning to do when Attorney General Merrick Garland simply refuses to cooperate with any investigation just as Barack Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder did? Is he going to call on the Justice Department to prosecute Garland? Is he going to call on the FBI to arrest him? Does Mr. McCarthy honestly expect the the politicized Justice Department that authorized this unprecedented and illegal action against Donald Trump to suddenly start following the law? Who does he think he’s kidding? What’s to stop the FBI from declaring that McCarthy was involved in the January 6th “insurrection” and harassing him?

If by some chance the Republicans do manage to gain a large majority in Congress and Congress is still an actual independent branch of government after this year, the second thing they ought to do is defund and ultimately abolish the FBI. (The first thing would be to impeach Joe Biden on charges of treason and abuse of power.) Abolishing the FBI might seem a radical step, but I would argue that the mere existence of such a powerful agency is a radical departure from the founding fathers’ conception of how the federal government should operate. They would be appalled at the scope and power of the federal government today and would rightly be concerned that an unaccountable federal law enforcement agency would be more likely to be used to oppress the citizenry than to catch lawbreakers. This is precisely the sort of thing that caused them to rebel against King George III.

The existence of a centralized federal law enforcement agency like the Federal Bureau of Investigation has always been problematic in a free, constitutional republic such as ours, given the enormous temptation for such an agency to become an American KGB or Gestapo, as President Harry Truman had warned in 1948

We want no Gestapo or secret police. The FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail. J. Edgar Hoover would give his right eye to take over, and all congressmen and senators are afraid of him

Mr. Truman would be alarmed, though hardly unsurprised at the extent to which the FBI has become nothing more than the Praetorian Guard for the nation’s ruling elite. The legacy of the FBI in recent decades has been one of an increasingly politicized and incompetent rogue agency. I doubt this is actually a recent development. Even in Truman’s time, Hoover seemed more concerned with harassing dissidents than fighting crime.  He was more interested in surveilling the minuscule Communist Party than confronting the Mafia, which he denied even existed. I suspect the FBI’s reputation for crime fighting rests more on Mr. Hoover’s ability at spin than on any real prowess in catching the bad guys. Even if Hoover’s reputation was entirely deserved, the extent to which he violated the civil rights of so many Americans more than outweighs the good he did. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has become a threat to our liberties. It is today an even greater threat than it was in Hoover’s days. It should be abolished. If there is a need for a federal law enforcement agency, it should be one kept on a very short leash with limited jurisdiction and under the supervision of our elected representatives. 

In the meantime, we should remember the lesson from the Mar-a-Lago raid. We no longer live in a country with a government of the people, by the people, and for the people but one that is of the elite, by the elite, and solely for the elite. 

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