Thursday, February 23, 2017

Note the instant effect of Twitter's censorship

I'm obliged to Gab user Matthew T. McDonald for providing the image below.

This morning, activist James O'Keefe released over 100 hours of video, allegedly showing how CNN's coverage of news was deliberately biased, falsified and redacted to reflect its editorial point of view.  Discussion immediately arose on Twitter (and elsewhere) about it, using the hashtag #CNNLeaks.  Twitter censored that hashtag a short while later, to prevent it becoming even more popular (Twitter being a hotbed of left-wing partisan political activism, as we've discussed here before).

Mr. McDonald notes:

This graph shows the moment when Twitter dumped the #CNNLeaks hashtag. Around 9:30 AM 15,000 ppl were using it, moments later only 600.

Very eye-opening!  Now you see why Twitter, Facebook and other left-wing-oriented social media are censoring alternative viewpoints as hard as they can.  If they can reduce discussion of events or news unfavorable to their side, they can have a significant effect on public opinion and political debate.

That being the case, I guess it'll be up to supporters of free speech and open debate to make sure that all points are aired, regardless of censorship.  I try to do that here, as you saw earlier this morning.


Michael Moore offers ten points to thwart President Trump

Michael Moore is a hard-core progressive left-wing activist, far more so than the mainstream of the Democratic Party.  I disagree profoundly with his politics, but he is a politically savvy commentator.  Don't forget, he predicted President Trump's victory almost a year before it happened, to mingled scorn, laughter and anger from other left-wing commentators.  He was proved right.

He's now come out with a ten-point plan to thwart the President's aims and objectives, and prevent his re-election.  He claims baldly:  'Do These 10 Things, And Trump Will Be Toast'.  Here's a sample.

6. TAKE OVER THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: The old guard of the party has twice in 16 years presided over the majority of Americans electing the Democrat to the White House ― only for us all to see the losing Republican inaugurated as president. How is it that we have won the popular vote in SIX OF THE LAST SEVEN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS ― the Republicans have only won ONCE since 1988 ― and yet, we hold NO power in any branch of government?! That, plus losing 1,000 local seats in this election that the Dems use to hold ― plus watching many Dems in Congress unwilling to stand up to Trump ― PLEASE, the old leadership has to go. God love ‘em for their contributions in the past, but if we don’t enact a radical overhaul right now, we are doomed as far as having a true opposition party during the Trump era. And that, more than anything, will help to usher in the vise-grip of a totalitarian culture.

. . .

7. HELP FORM BLUE REGIONS OF RESISTANCE: People keep saying to me, “Mike - I live in a Blue State - what can I do?” If you live in a Blue State, you have one of the MOST important tasks to complete: Show the rest of America what it looks like when Trump isn’t in charge! Blue States and Blue Cities must do an end-run around Trump and create the America we want to live in. That means New York goes ahead and offers Free College for All. California can create its own Universal Health Care. Oregon can stop mass incarceration of African Americans. Hawaii can enact its own climate change laws. Blue States can show the rest of country how much better life can be. Important historical note: Before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal, California and New York passed their own state laws to make it legal. This greatly helped pave the way for CHOICE being the new normal ― and the enactment of Row [sic] v. Wade.

There's more at the link.

As I said, Michael Moore is politically savvy.  Expect to see elements of this road map adopted by others, and put into practice.  Those of us opposed to it will have to counter its points as they emerge - so consider this a warning shot across our bows.

As a matter of fact, I strongly support point 7 above.  I believe it would be very good for America if those living in states with a strong, dominant Democratic or left-wing or progressive element were to adopt and implement those social policies and entitlement programs that they think are most important.  That way, the rest of the country could see how they work - or don't.  In fact, why don't we use that as a point of argument?  Why should the federal government be involved in any such programs?  Why not send them back to the states, who can fund them - or not - as they see fit, and adopt their own tax structure to do so?

For example, those states that are opposed to socialized medicine can de-fund all except emergency care.  Those states in favor of it can adopt comprehensive, Obamacare-plus-plus programs, or go all the way to a single-payer system such as Canada uses, and levy taxes on their citizens to pay for it.  Individual citizens and residents can decide for themselves which system they prefer, and vote with their feet and their wallets by moving to states that have adopted that system.  The same can apply to almost any program.  Let those who want them, vote for them in their states and pay for them by local taxation.  Those of us who don't want them should be equally free to vote against them and de-fund them.

We'll do well to pay attention to people like Mr. Moore.  We don't have to agree with them.  We just have to understand where they're coming from, and examine our own beliefs in the light of their proposals.  Informed opposition is far better than knee-jerk rejection - on both sides of the political divide.

(I'm obliged to reader Antibubba for sending me the link to Mr. Moore's article.)


Looks like the ATF is at it again

We all remember the BATFE's 'Operation Fast and Furious'.  So far, its 'score' includes two dead Federal law enforcement officers, several hundred dead Mexican nationals, and who knows how many lives ruined by their loss.  Now it looks like at another arm of the BATFE went so far as to fund their operations off-budget, evading Congressional oversight, by creaming off the profits from an illegal cigarette marketing operation.

Working from an office suite behind a Burger King in southern Virginia, operatives used a web of shadowy cigarette sales to funnel tens of millions of dollars into a secret bank account. They weren’t known smugglers, but rather agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The operation, not authorized under Justice Department rules, gave agents an off-the-books way to finance undercover investigations and pay informants without the usual cumbersome paperwork and close oversight, according to court records and people close to the operation.

The secret account is at the heart of a federal racketeering lawsuit brought by a collective of tobacco farmers who say they were swindled out of $24 million. A pair of A.T.F. informants received at least $1 million each from that sum, records show.

The scheme relied on phony shipments of snack food disguised as tobacco. The agents were experts: Their job was to catch cigarette smugglers, so they knew exactly how it was done.

There's more at the link.

Would someone please tell me why the BATFE should not be designated a rogue agency, out of control, and the entire damned operation shut down once and for all?  It seems to be a living definition of Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy.  If President Trump is looking for ways to cut costs in the federal government, I suggest that 99 New York Avenue, NE in Washington DC would be an excellent starting point.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The media's job is to "control exactly what people think"

That's the extraordinary claim made by MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski earlier this morning.

While discussing President Trump's entreaties to the American people to remain skeptical of the press, Bzezinski worried that if the economy turns south, Americans may end up trusting him over the media.

"And it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think," Brzezinski said. "And that, that is our job."

SCARBOROUGH: "Exactly. That is exactly what I hear. What Yamiche said is what I hear from all the Trump supporters that I talk to who were Trump voters and are still Trump supporters. They go, 'Yeah you guys are going crazy. He's doing -- what are you so surprised about? He is doing exactly what he said he is going to do.'"

BRZEZINSKI: "Well, I think that the dangerous, you know, edges here are that he is trying to undermine the media and trying to make up his own facts. And it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think. And that, that is our job."

There's more at the link.

That explains a lot about why the mainstream media are so adamantly, categorically, pathologically opposed to President Trump and his agenda.  We've examined several of their falsehoods on this blog in recent weeks.  To mention just a few, from most recent to oldest:

Brzezinski's comments provide a new perspective on such media bias.  They honestly think it's their job to be that way, and for the rest of us to fall into line and digest what they spoon-feed us.  One can't help but wonder what they've been smoking, to give them that idea . . .  After all, if I wouldn't (and I don't) trust any politician or bureaucrat to tell me what to believe, why should I trust any journalist that way?


"You might be an Alaskan if..."

Rev. Paul has channeled Jeff Foxworthy to produce some very funny suggestions.  Examples:

  • If the entry way to your home doubles as a refrigerator, and sometimes even a freezer, you probably live in Alaska.
  • If you use your old 200lb. console TV for weight in the back of your truck, instead of sandbags, you might be an Alaskan.
  • If you use duct tape to detail and customize your car instead of actually getting a paint or detail job done, you probably are an Alaskan.
  • If you don't wash your car or truck anymore because the dirt is the only thing holding it together, you might be an Alaskan.

There are many more at the link.  Since Miss D. was an Alaskan (by adoption) before she became a Texan (also by adoption), there was much gigglage when reading these.  Thanks, Paul!  You made my morning.


In haste

I haven't had time to put up a blog post yet this morning.  I'm off to town with Miss D. for an appointment that will keep us busy for a few hours.  I'll put up something when we get back.

In the meantime, please amuse yourselves with my fellow bloggers linked in the sidebar.  They write good stuff, too!


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fishy dishies

Miss D. and I went up to Oklahoma City this morning. It's a drive of a couple of hours, not too far for an occasional day out.  We wanted to buy new dinner plates and accessories, and there's a Corelle factory outlet store there.  We spent an hour walking through it, buying dinner and side plates in the design we'd selected, and then browsing for bowls and other bits and pieces.  Their prices were rather better than other shops or online vendors we'd tried, so it was worth the trip.

By then it was lunchtime, and I suggested seafood.  Miss D. did her usual wizardry with what Lawdog calls the Portable Magic Elf Box (a.k.a. smartphone), and after perusing a list of local establishments, we decided that Pearl's Crabtown, housed in a converted warehouse, sounded interesting.  We headed that way.  My, oh my, oh my . . . it turned out to be an inspired choice!  (Click the pictures for a larger view.)

The decor and atmosphere are very warehouse-like, very pub-like, and comfortable.  We had to smile at the giant green crab over the fireplace.  I think the picture below must have been taken from right next to the table where we sat.

The service was extremely good, so much so that our waitress got a better than 20% tip for her hard work.  As for the food, we decided we'd try a combination of several starters and nibble on them together, rather than order a single main course each.  We picked (from their menu - link is to an Adobe Acrobat file in .PDF format):

  • Chowder Fries - "Crabtown fries smothered with creamy clam chowder, cheddar cheese, crispy bacon and scallions";
  • Fried Calamari - the regular rather than the spicy version;
  • Louisiana Crab Cakes with remoulade sauce;  and -
  • A cup of Boston Clam Chowder.

I can only describe the food as superb.  It's easily the best seafood we've tasted since we visited the Gulf Coast a few years ago (where, as you may recall, my wife was mean to me - and yes, I still tease her about that!).  Everything was very tasty, but the crab cakes and clam chowder were particularly delicious.  We were too full for dessert (even though these were nominally starter-sized portions, they were very generous), but we ordered a slice of key lime pie to take home with us.  Miss D. always says that the further a restaurant is from the sea, the more she mistrusts its seafood;  but after today's lunch, she says she'll gladly make an exception to that rule for Crabtown.

I washed down my meal with a very interesting beer:  Marshall Old Pavilion Pilsener.  It was a delicious and original variation on traditional German pilsener, rather 'heavier' than usual.  I enjoyed every drop.  It doesn't appear to be available outside Oklahoma, so that's a good excuse to make more trips there to stock up on it now and again!

If you happen to find yourself in Oklahoma City for any reason, and you like seafood, Miss D. and I highly recommend Pearl's Crabtown.  We'll be going back there, even if it takes an almost five-hour round trip to get there and home again.  It's worth it.  (No, they aren't sponsoring this review or giving me any kickbacks.  I just like to tell my readers when I discover something worthwhile.)


Home security - "Hot time in the old town tonight" edition?

It seems a Chinese power utility has developed a flame-throwing drone to combat trash on transmission lines.  You can read about it here, in English.  Here's a Chinese TV report.

Can you imagine the fun if you could incorporate something like this into a home security system?

  1. Trash jumps over back fence to break into your house.
  2. Trash is incinerated before he can make entry.
  3. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I think that might sell like hot cakes.  There really would be a 'Hot time in the old town tonight'!


Starting your Tuesday off with a bang

Continuing our week of interesting video clips involving dynamite - things I encountered while researching that substance for my new Western novel - here's a piece of history.

The video of a dead whale being blown up on an Oregon beach has been described as the most-viewed in history (or the fifth most viewed, depending on whose statistics you believe).  However, many of the copies of it online have been edited or 'enhanced', which spoils the fun, IMHO.

A few years ago, on the fiftieth anniversary of the television station that originally broadcast that footage, a presenter interviewed the reporter who'd covered the story, and played the original report exactly as it was shown at the time.

I still want to know who calculated that they needed twenty cases (!!!) of dynamite.  How on earth did someone come up with that figure?  That's a hell of a bang!  (Yes, yes, I know - it was probably some anonymous of-fish-ial somewhere!)


Monday, February 20, 2017

Busy, busy, busy

I'm really swamped at the moment, so I must apologize for the less-regular-than-usual blog posts.  So far this morning, I've:

  • Written 3,000 words for my latest novel (now at 53,000 words completed);
  • Put in about 2 hours of research for the next 2 chapters of the book;
  • Had an extended counseling session with two people trying to cope with the aftermath of a tragedy (I'm a retired pastor, remember - I may not be able to hold down a church any more, but I still do this sort of thing);
  • Answered 9 e-mails, and opened and dealt with a few dozen more.

My cup overfloweth . . . but not with blog fodder, I'm afraid.  I'll try to do better tomorrow.

Meanwhile, amuse yourself with this classic song about insanity (which fits the busy-ness of my life rather well right now!).  This version's from Old Blind Dogs, a live recording.


Starting your Monday off with a bang

In case you missed it, on Saturday I put up a teaser chapter from my new Western, the second volume in the Ames Archives and sequel to 'Brings The Lightning'.  If you haven't already read it, click over there and enjoy it.

As part of the research for this novel, I've been looking into early forms of dynamite and how it was used.  It's been very educational.  (I hope the FBI doesn't get suspicious about the Internet searches I've been doing on that subject over the past few days!)  I've learned a lot about it, as well as related areas such as fuses, blasting caps, handling precautions, etc. In particular, I've gained a new respect for those who used the stuff in those early days, before it was properly stabilized.  It had a shelf life of only up to a year, and that only if it was stored under controlled conditions and turned regularly, to stop the nitroglycerin oozing out of the sticks of dynamite and pooling or puddling at the bottom of the case.  Once that happened, or if beads of nitro formed on the sticks, it became highly unstable.  A sudden shock to the stick or case, and you'd be spread all over a couple of acres of countryside.

Old dynamite is still sometimes discovered, as my Internet searches have revealed.  Among other things, it seems a group of people with too much time on their hands needed to dispose of no less than 192 (!) sticks of it.  They did what everyone does, of course:  stuffed it all into an old Chevrolet Celebrity and set it off.  The resulting screams and shrieks of glee will gladden any redneck's heart. Watch it in full-screen mode for best results.

Boys and their toys, indeed!

I've discovered several video clips of similarly explosive shenanigans in the course of my research. I'll post one each day this week, just for fun.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Pedophilia does "no lasting harm"??? Yeah, right!

Richard Dawkins, well known for his militant atheism, has really put his foot in it this time.

In a recent interview with the Times magazine, Richard Dawkins attempted to defend what he called “mild pedophilia,” which, he says, he personally experienced as a young child and does not believe causes “lasting harm.”

Dawkins went on to say that one of his former school masters “pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts,” and that to condemn this “mild touching up” as sexual abuse today would somehow be unfair.

. . .

Child welfare experts responded to Dawkins’ remarks with outrage — and concern over their effect on survivors of abuse.

There's more at the link.

All I can say is, as a pastor and clinical counselor, I've had a great deal of experience trying to help the victims of pedophiles. Many went on to become pedophiles themselves - a cycle that carries on down the centuries, if you go back far enough.  Others have had their confidence in themselves destroyed, their ability to love and be love corroded, and their lives ruined.

I'm a strong believer in the rule of law.  I've worked inside the criminal justice system to help promote the rule of law.  Nevertheless, if there's any one sin or crime that cries out to Almighty God for vengeance, it's pedophilia.  In the words of Jesus himself:

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

You can debate, if you wish, whether those words were meant to include pedophilia, or merely other types of offence.  Personally, I have little doubt.  No, scratch that - I have no doubt.  If a pedophile were caught in flagrante delicto, I would have few or no moral qualms if the parents of the child concerned executed him on the spot.  I think there'd be little or no sin in that;  in fact, I could make a strong case for it being the justice of an outraged God.

Pedophiles can't be cured.  Time after time that's been tried, and failed miserably.  They can only be prevented from committing their crimes, either by incarcerating them where they can't get at children, or by executing them.  Harsh?  Yes, it is harsh.  Having seen too many children's innocence destroyed by pedophiles, my feelings towards the latter are very harsh indeed!  Right now, I'm not feeling particularly charitable towards Mr. Dawkins, either . . .


Fixing the State Department - and the left-wing spin

It looks like the Augean Stables at the State Department are, at long, long last, being cleaned out . . . but you'd never know it from the mainstream media.  For example, here's how CBS News reported it.

Much of [the] seventh-floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were told today that their services were no longer needed.

These staffers in particular are often the conduit between the secretary’s office to the country bureaus, where the regional expertise is centered. Inside the State Department, some officials fear that this is a politically-minded purge that cuts out much-needed expertise from the policy-making, rather than simply reorganizing the bureaucracy.

There are clear signals being sent that many key foreign policy portfolios will be controlled directly by the White House, rather than through the professional diplomats.

. . .

... State Department officials ... hope that Mr. Tillerson - who had a long career as Exxon Mobil’s CEO -  will bring his worldly experience and management to a building that has been demoralized by the Trump administration’s antipathy toward multilateralism and cavalier approach to diplomacy.

. . .

While positions are often reshuffled during transitions and those perceived as politically-oriented are moved aside, the departures leave the positions vacant at a time of global instability.

. . .

“It is irresponsible to let qualified, nonpartisan, experienced people go before you have any idea of their replacement. You can’t do foreign policy by sitting in the White House, just out of your back pocket,” explains Tom Countryman, Former Assistant Secretary for Non-Proliferation who was let go earlier this month. Countryman worries that the White House is displaying an intent [to] not rely on the State Department for foreign policy in that no one will be in place to challenge the edicts drawn up in the Oval Office.

There's more at the link.

Wow, just look at all the negativity!  This is clearly a disaster for US foreign relations . . . or is it?  Let's pick a few comments and respond to them.

"... some officials fear that this is a politically-minded purge that cuts out much-needed expertise from the policy-making ...".  It's certainly a purge - and it's long overdue!  It was senior State Department officials who referred to themselves as a 'shadow government', when, in fact, they are (constitutionally and legally) nothing of the sort.  I've heard many military officers refer to the State Department in (to put it as politely as possible) disparaging terms.  Their view may be summed up as, "We went there to win, they went there to make sure the other side won".  I've heard that perspective on Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Iran nuclear deal, and a lot more.  I daresay some of my readers have more direct experience in that regard.  As for 'expertise', that's debatable.  I've worked in many countries in Africa where I've had contact with representatives from US embassies, consulates and other official bodies.  I can't say I've been particularly impressed by their expertise about those countries or regions . . . in fact, I often got the impression they believed all that was necessary was to improve hygiene, bring in US-style democracy, and promote abortions!

"... many key foreign policy portfolios will be controlled directly by the White House, rather than through the professional diplomats."  How is this a problem?  The professional diplomats have screwed up rather spectacularly in the past (they've also had some successes, admittedly).  Who's to say that the White House, using its own carefully selected team, can't do as well?  I don't see any reason.  The current Secretary of State has no diplomatic background whatsoever, but a great deal of international business experience.  Does that mean he'll be less effective in that role than a 'professional diplomat' would?  (The same question might be asked about the previous Secretary of State as well.)

"... the Trump administration’s antipathy toward multilateralism and cavalier approach to diplomacy."  Blinkered perspective, anyone?  Who says the current Administration has a 'cavalier approach to diplomacy'?  That's an accusation, not a news report!  Anti-Trump bias at work again . . .

"... the departures leave the positions vacant at a time of global instability."  Ooh!  Panic stations!  Except . . . what difference would it make if those positions weren't vacant?  Would it make the globe any less unstable?  No?  Then why is it a problem?  Instability is a fact of life in diplomacy.  Some countries, and some people, handle it better than others.  Based on the State Department's track record, I venture to guess that it's not among them, whether or not all its bureaucratic positions are filled.

As for Mr. Countryman's comments, he was appointed to his Cabinet-level position by President Obama.  As a political appointee, of course he'd be let go, and replaced by someone chosen by the current Administration, just as is normal whenever the Presidency changes hands.  He might even be expected to resent losing his job and the status it provided, and he might possibly be expected to express that resentment through the content and tone of his comments about the Administration that removed him.  However, you don't see CBS News telling us any of that, do you?  Furthermore, Mr. Countryman was appointed to his position precisely in order to ensure that 'edicts drawn up in the Oval Office' (by President Obama) were implemented in and by the State Department.  If that was in order for the previous President, why isn't it in order for the current President to do likewise?

This is yet another example of the relentless drumbeat of criticism directed by the 'establishment' (which includes most of the news media) against President Trump.  When you deconstruct most of the negative articles like this, it's amazing how much bias and subjective vitriol emerges.

I suggest that reports in the mainstream media about anything to do with the current Administration should be regarded as unreliable until proven otherwise.