Sunday, October 18, 2015

Words Unsaid

In October 2014, I asked for command of the PA LF 77th BN in Lehigh County; I went up to the regiment commander and said: "I want Lehigh County", simple as that. The appointment came through a few weeks later.

A few days after that, I got a call from the state commander. After some pleasantries, he said: "So, you refused to register with Selective Service."

"Yes", I said. I make no secret of it. I've had this conversation before, and I knew where it was going.

Several people within LF, upon hearing that I now had responsibility for the 77th, had approached state command about this, believing that it would be inappropriate for me to hold that position. They feared I would be "hating on the military", as they put it.

The state commander told them that he has known me for several years, that he has complete confidence in me, that the last thing I would do is "hate on the military", and that the subject was closed.

About an hour later I realized that this was the first time in my life when I had a conversation that started with "So, you refused to register with Selective Service" and did NOT end in "you're fired", or "you cannot go to school", or "we cannot hire you", or "you cannot get a drivers license", or "you cannot get a court date".

Decency is such a rare thing in this world, and it can only be repaid with loyalty, something that doesn't come easy to people like me. I've always had tremendous respect for the state commander, but on that day he earned my loyalty.

The next day, I told this story to Chris Smith, my ex.

Chris: "Well I fired you."
Me: "No, I fired you."
Chris: "I think it was a mutual agreement."

Whenever I'm fed-up with my job, or with events in the world, or with my own shortcomings, I think of all this, and realize that I'm the luckiest man alive.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Patriots and Active Patriots

Had an interesting conversation tonight with a retired U.S. Army Ranger. He was uncertain about the fate of our nation, and wasn't hopeful that anything can be done to save her. Here's my response...

You ask "What can I do to save America?" and "What can I do to save her people?"

Those are the wrong questions to ask!

Saving America and its people are laudable goals, but they are outside of any single person's ability. No one person can do it, not you, not me, nobody.

Some people take that fact (that no one person can save the country) as indication that all is lost, that you can't do anything.

Nothing is further from the truth!

The first thing is to ensure the immediate security and well-being of yourself and your loved ones. Don't worry about "keyboard warriors" or naysayers. Don't wait for some sort of "mass action" - indeed, waiting for the crowd to turn is unethical. Don't worry that people aren't doing what they "need to do" - really, the only thing people "need" to do is to die. Don't make that into an excuse for inaction. Understand that there's nothing wrong with "looking out for number one". You're a free man, act like it. That's the first step.

Second step is to seek out similar people. The important part is to seek them out, not try to make people into something they are not. It is much easier to make an Active Patriot into a friend rather than the other way around. Find these people, and earn each other's respect and loyalty.

Third step is to take honest assessment of your skills, and get training - good training - to fix deficiencies, and to improve. Always improve. Good training costs, but it is well worth every penny. Practice that training with your fellow Active Patriots.

Actions undertaken by a militia are last resorts. Fourth step is to realize that fact. If we let the immediate vicinity deteriorate to the point that militia action becomes necessary, then we as Patriots aren't doing our jobs. Abandoning civil society will leave the enemy in control, not by victory but by default.

Fifth step is to stop enabling the people who are ruining our country. Do not give them any monetary support. Do not give them the benefit of the doubt. Do not let them say that fundamental rights are up for debate. Do not negotiate. Do not compromise. When food and poison are mixed, only death can result.

This step is the hardest to do. You've been taught to "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's". Unlearn that lesson. Free men would not permit Caesar to exist.

Sixth and last step is to broaden your abilities beyond survival. Focus on survival AND growth. Growth without survival is impossible, and survival without growth is like living in a wax museum. If you don't understand this, Google the hell out of the word "eudaimonia", which means "human flourishing".

There it is.

Notice the theme: you start with the immediate survival of your loved ones. You end with the long term survival and growth of a network of Active Patriots. You start with something you can control and leverage that to extend your grasp.

So, the real question to ask is this: "What can I do to ensure the survival and growth of myself, my loved ones, and fellow Active Patriots who have earned my loyalty?"

The above is my answer.

Is it a plan for saving our country? No. It is a plan for saving your corner of it.

Is it the best all of us can do, working together? No, but it is the best that each one of us individually can do.

Is the result attainable and worthwhile? Yes.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fading to Black

Since the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which nationally legalized gay marriage, various media outlets have been comparing the gay rights movement to the civil rights movement. Here's my analysis.

Until recently, the progress on gay rights has been slow and steady, but it allowed everybody to observe and to make judgments based upon those observations. This was a good thing, for it gave people the chance to see the world not through religion, not through tradition, but through their own eyes. Notice that this is a very different thing from a "national dialog", for the acts of observing and judging are necessarily solitary acts.

The effects were palpable: 30 years ago it was common for gay children to be kicked out of their homes after having an arm broken; 20 years ago the evictions were still happening but the broken arms were less common, "he’s a good kid, but he’s queer", parents would say; ten years ago, parents reactions were essentially: "he’s gay, but he’s a good kid"; now, parents stop at "he’s a good kid". The exact same story was replayed in the workplace, in social organizations, and (to a lesser extent) in the military.

Progress was slow, but the changes that constituted this progress were deeper and more permanent than with any other social movement in the United States, due to the fact that people had the time, and the evidence, to decide on their own.

When people come to a conclusion that is contrary to popular opinion, there’s a calm resolution to them, for they are experiencing a short burst of pride. They have just captured an intellectual territory, and they will hold that territory.

The net result is that non-gays began treating gays as individuals, as family members, as coworkers, as friends. Being gay was rapidly becoming a non-issue, not for the sake of "tolerance" or "diversity", but because hating a person for being gay implied hating a family member, a coworker, a friend.

No small consequence of this bottom-up approach is that the changes were not very traumatic for this nation, compared to the civil rights movement. As long as gay rights are won in this manner, you could safely predict that there would never be a Civil War over gay rights, nor any large and violent protests.

This allowed gays to partially participate in professional and civil society, and gays and lesbians have made serious contributions in every profession. As an example, email was invented by Eric Allman, who once said:

"There is some sort of perverse pleasure in knowing that it's basically impossible to send a piece of hate mail through the Internet without its being touched by a gay program. That's kind of funny."

Most people don't know who Eric Allman is, or that he is gay, nor do they care. What people do care about is that email works - and that's all that matters.

America has, for the most part, recognized these contributions: for example, every 4th of July, we hear Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. We hear that piece of music not because it was written by a gay composer, but it is a great piece of music which matches the spirit of the occasion. That's the way it should be.

These contributions were positive to American culture - they made America a better country not by lowering standards in the quest for "equality", but by opening new possibilities, new ways of communicating, new intellectual territories.

Gays and lesbians indeed saw themselves as adding to American society and culture, not replacing it. In this era of "hyphenated Americans", you rarely hear the label "gay-American", and we consider that label offensive. There is no other minority in this country that see things this way.

Compare this with the civil rights movement, where all "progress" was made in a top-down manner. This movement, the surrounding culture, and the way it accomplished its goals, have created a group of individuals about which every individual achievement is questioned and doubted; it elevates the lowest criminal to the status of hero or martyr; it encourages not just bad parenting but a lack of parents; it creates dependency, an enormous sense of entitlement, and a corresponding "grievance industry"; it has produced an artificial middle class; it has made being thin-skinned acceptable by making everything other than glowing praise into a "microagression"; it has done nothing but Balkanize our country.

These "achievements" are so pervasive that it is reasonable to doubt that they are nothing but unintended consequences. Unintended or not, the result hasn't been a raising of our standards, but a razing of our culture.

The salt in the wound is the horrible irony that blacks so often subscribe to socialism - a philosophy guaranteed to not make them free. They've traded one plantation for another, by believing that slavery to government is somehow better than private slavery.

Now along comes the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Instead of people coming to their own conclusions about gays and lesbians, conclusions are being forced upon them in a top-down manner. The out-and-out homophobes clearly lost, but so did everyone who "captured their own territory".

So, for whom was this a victory?

For gays and lesbians who wish to marry, it is a Pyrrhic victory, for the reasons outlined above.

For everybody else, it is a loss. One of the many things that contemporary Liberals do not understand is that it is at least as important how people come to decisions as what decisions are actually made. Being dictated to - having decisions made for you - never, ever, works. That's exactly what Obergefell v. Hodges accomplished.

We should consider ourselves lucky that gay rights got as far as they did in a bottom-up manner. My only fear is that the gay rights movement will go the route of the civil rights movement.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tinfoil Hats Not Required

A certain portion of the Patriot movement is powered by conspiracy theories, but this isn't unique to the Tea Partiers and III%ers: theories about the assassinations of JFK and MLK were staples of the Left, as global warming is now; Bigfoot aficionados come from all over the political landscape; the Heaven's Gate people were just criminally stupid.

The problem is not the particular subjects of conspiracy theories (Bigfoot, UFOs, chemtrails, etc.) but the conspiracy theorists' methods by which they gain "knowledge" of those subjects (non-observational, non-causal, crowd-sourced, etc.) as well as the consequences of using such magical thinking (division, paralysis, false targets). These will be discussed below.

For any reputable person or organization to be successful, that person's or organization's actions must be based on solid information, not conspiracy theories, not hearsay, not rumors, and certainly not fear mongering. The ultimate standard for solid information is this: is something true or false, and how do you know?

Here's the answer: you have five senses, use them. You have logic and common sense, use them. You feel that that those standards don't leave you too much? Welcome to the real world. That's where training and experience comes in: training and experience are nothing but logic and common sense in action.

Only by these methods do you have knowledge, and along with it that feeling called "certainty". People too often tolerate uncertainty prior to taking action; worse, some people believe that omniscience or infallibility are prerequisites for being certain, so they conclude that certainty (and therefore knowledge) is never possible.

To any person who proclaims that "you can never be certain of anything", ask them: "are you sure?" and watch what happens.

Believers will sometimes try to undermine a skeptic’s position by appealing to a lack of direct experience, e.g. by asking: “how do you know Bigfoot isn’t hiding around the corner...or somewhere in Oregon?” This is where Bertrand Russell and his famous teapot becomes relevant:

"If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense."

In other words, it isn’t our responsibility as skeptics to either confirm or refute such claims - the burden of proof (and it is a considerable burden) does not lie with the skeptic. Thus, the proper response to the Bigfoot believer is: “It’s not my job to hunt down Bigfoot.”

But the fact remains that we are neither omniscient nor infallible. Sometimes, we attempt to "fill in the facts" - but until proven, these aren't facts, merely guesses. Problems start when we confuse guesses with facts. The best description of this process comes from Victor Hugo's "The Man Who Laughs":

"At the corners of old maps of the world of the 15th century are great vague spaces without shape or name, on which are written these three words: Hic sunt leones. Such a dark corner is there also in man. Passions grow and growl somewhere within us, and we may say of an obscure portion of our souls: 'there are lions here.'"

It is mildly interesting to wonder what these growing and growling passions are that would cause someone to create such lions, to initiate and propagate rumors and conspiracy theories. Some possibilities include:

  • To add drama to one's life
  • To gain the appearance of experience, without actually having experience
  • To press the limits of gullibility, and laugh at the results
  • To garner attention - would anybody ever go to Roswell, New Mexico, if a UFO wasn't rumored to crash there?
  • To fool the opposition
  • To act as a trigger - to start Revolutionary War II based not on intolerable acts but on fictitious deeds

Whatever. Regardless, the end result of rumors and conspiracy theories is to spread FUD - fear, uncertainty, and doubt. The end result of FUD is to paralyze and to divide.

Why paralysis? Conspiracy theories frequently portray vague and shapeless things or events that cannot be sustained by themselves, that appear to be causeless. By being causeless, they must be sustained by some outside magical power. How can we fight something like that? Monsters that live under children's beds have power only because of the child's ignorance. Thus the nonexistent become efficacious.

Even if paralysis is NOT achieved, there is the problem of “false targets”. Imagine that someone convinced the Library of Congress to release all documents related to the assassination of JFK. Some people would no doubt hail this as a victory for openness, transparency, and the American Way. No, rumors about a grassy knoll are false targets, and any success against a false target is a false victory, and the American Way has not been advanced. The real acts of a real devil you know have been made acceptable by the fictitious actions of a nonexistent devil that you do not know.

If you can see something, and it is wrong, you can fight it with a reasonable chance of success. Fighting the nonexistent is worse than pointless: Don Quixote tilted at windmills, but at least windmills are real.

Why division? If you’ve ever listened to a conspiracy theorist prattle on for more than a minute, you experience a queasiness, a desire to flee from all the unjustified conclusions, all the leaps of faith, all the bullshit being heaped upon you. And, you would be right to flee, to separate yourself from that person, no matter what else you might share in common.

The advantage to fighting the evils that are in plain sight is the fact that it is quite easy to win-over the "opposition".

A prime example of this is NSA spying. Not too long ago, most people thought that the U.S. government was not spying on its own citizens. Then along came Edward Snowden, and we now have an allegiance between the Tea Party and certain members of the Left on this issue.

Another example is police militarization. Before the Ferguson riots, the receipt of military hardware by civilian police was considered a libertarian issue, ignored by everybody else. Photos and news coverage of the Ferguson riots changed that, so that now the administration seems to be taking steps to curtail this hardware transfer.

A third example happened recently over the non-disclosure by the Obama administration about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. The administration was keeping the TPP secret...why? A bill was introduced with bipartisan sponsorship that requires the TPP’s text be revealed before vote, but at present it appears that we lost this one.

Those issues - NSA surveillance, police militarization, and TPP secrecy - are now three more things that the left and the right have in common. The only way this happened was because we have the evidence of the senses, something that is available to everybody regardless of their political stripe. As for the evil our government does, tinfoil hats are simply not required, and are indeed a detriment. While such allegiances are fragile and fleeting, they make it clear who the real enemy is, and so make victory possible.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Je Suis Charlie

Remember: cartoons don't kill people, Muslims offended by cartoons kill people.

Hear about the time Mohammed's wife called him a pedophile?
Mohammed responded "Pedophile is a pretty big word for a 9 year old!"

I phoned the Islamic Samaritans today. When I said I was feeling suicidal they got all excited and asked if I knew how to fly a plane.

We shouldn't assume that Islamic terrorists are somehow representative of all Muslims, because aren't. Most Muslims are too busy running pedophile gangs to even contemplate terrorism.

Q. What is the difference between the Prophet Muhammad and Michael Jackson? 
A. One is a pedophile child rapist and the other recorded eight platinum albums.

Q: What do you call a drunken Muslim? 
A: Mohammered.

Q: What's the difference between a Muslim and a vampire? 
A: At some point the vampire will stop being bloodthirsty. 

Q. Why don’t Muslims eat pork? 
A. The Koran forbids cannibalism.

Q: Why did Mohammed make homosexuality a sin in the Koran?
A: Because his boyfriend thought that would make it hotter.

Translation: "The Koran is shit - it doesn't stop bullets!"

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Quotes for 2014 (no, they're not all related to Ferguson!)

"Gentle giant" - Al Sharpton canonizing Michael Brown.

"The day he was killed, he was out spreading the word of Jesus Christ." - Mike Brown’s cousin Eric Davis continuing the canonization, during Brown's funeral.

"The physical evidence does not change because of public pressure or personal agenda. Physical evidence does not look away as events unfold nor does it blackout or add to memory. It remains constant and is a solid foundation upon which cases are built."
- St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch announcing that a grand jury will not indict Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

"Burn this bitch down" - Louis Head, MB's stepfather, to demonstrators shortly after McCulloch announced the decision.

Obama talking about solving the problem of discriminatory law enforcement: "That won’t be done by throwing bottles. That won’t be done by smashing car windows. That won’t be done by using this as an excuse to vandalize property." Meanwhile, protesters in Ferguson proceed to throw bottles, smash car windows, and vandalize property. In split screen. With Obama on the other half of the screen. According to the same speech, they weren't looting and pillaging and burning, they were "channeling [their] concerns destructively." This was clearly a prepared speech. I wonder if he prepared another speech for use if the grand jury indicted Darren Wilson?

"We think it was wrong place, wrong time," St. Louis Police spokeswoman Schron Jackson, describing rationalizing excusing the murder of Zemir Begic, who was bludgeoned to death by four hammer-wielding thugs.

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" - Bridget Anne Kelly, Chris Christie's deputy chief of staff, in an 2013 e-mail to David Wildstein, a Christie appointee on the board of commissioners of the Port Authority. This little gem emerged in the 2014 Bridgegate investigation, funded by taxpayers, carried out by Christie appointees.

"ISIL is not Islamic" – Obama apologizing for ISIS terrorism.

"We came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt" - Hilary Clinton. Yes, Bill, DC hookers are expensive!

"At least five CIA detainees were subjected to 'rectal rehydration' or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity... Majid Khan's 'lunch tray,' consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins was 'pureed' and rectally infused." - the Senate Intelligence Committee's "CIA Torture Report". Gitmo - the gift that keeps on giving. GOP - the recipient of said gift, without lubricant.

"My other laptop is a boy" - Pamela Ribon, dissecting Mattel's "Barbie: I can be a Computer Engineer". This is the same company that made Barbie say "Math is hard"!

“Just when we all thought we’d reached peak beard, a surprising development has happened in the fascinating world of male grooming. Yes, you guessed it (you probably didn’t guess it) – the lumbersexual is here, with his beard, plaid shirt, backpack and artfully scruffy hair barely contained by his sensible woolen hat.” – The Guardian (and Gawker, and The Atlantic, etc.) proving that Monty Python has staying power. Cue the Mounties!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Opposite of Idealism

Everybody in any type of movement is an idealist. For example, the Patriot movement is all about idealism - we advocate an ideal society, an ideal form of government, an ideal way of life.

What can go wrong with idealism?

One way idealists go wrong is by choosing the unachievable ideals. Socialism, communism, and fascism are the political manifestations of unachievable ideals, carried to genocidal extremes.

Incorrect ideals need not be writ large, however. Incorrect ideals are sometimes adopted only for brief periods of time, at certain times of the year. Let’s call this “holiday idealism”. A good example of this is described in the audio version of David Sedaris’ essay “SantaLand Diaries”. The narrator describes a parent who must threaten her child in order to get a good photo with a department store Santa Claus:
“On paper, it means that everything is exactly as it is supposed to be, that everything is snowy and wonderful. It’s not about the child, or Santa, or Christmas, or anything but the parent’s idea of a world they cannot make work for them.”

A far deeper way idealists can go wrong is to abandon their principles completely. This doesn't happen all at once. People sell their soul in such small quantities - a seemingly trivial compromise here, a rationalization of a minor evil there - that they don't realize what they're doing until it is too late.

The immediate result of abandoned idealism is an embittered and drained man, whether he realizes it or not, whether he likes it or not. He is capable of acting in his own interest, but only to the extent that those interests coincide with those of the lowest animals.

It gets worse, once the embittered man realizes not all people have chosen his route.

The embittered man understands that something has gone wrong, but instead of identifying the problem and repairing the damage, he pretends that perception trumps reality, so he puts on a happy face. He becomes an uncheerful cheerleader for what used to be his opposition: “there but for the grace of Obamacare go I”, “there but for laws prohibiting cocaine go I”, etc.

For a brief while, the embittered man believes his own propaganda and becomes mildly happy. He finds similarly mildly happy men, and they might even come to think of themselves as a pack. In reality they are a herd, and are perfect for being in a herd, for they are incapable of believing they are being herded.

Here’s looking at you, 1960s counterculture hippies.

As time goes on, the embittered men see the gulf between what is and what could be - but they push such thoughts away. They view their abdication of principle as a sign of maturity, and they pride themselves for their pragmatism. They advocate for things that would horrify their younger selves. When they encounter those who haven't sold their souls, they call them immature, or say that they aren't living in the real world.

Here’s looking at you, old-school Republicans.

People say - popular culture advocates - government demands that we sell our souls, for nothing but the cheapest of baubles and bling, if even that. If you do sell, the result is a gray, cheerless, and dreary existence.

If you stay true to your principles, you have confidence, conviction, purpose, values - in other words, you have a future.

Why would anyone be happy with less?