To Trump, or not to Trump, that is the question - part 2

More Background

Don’t you dare start reading this tome before you read part 1 – here1http://erik.briggsfam.com/2020/09/22/to-trump-or-not-to-trump-that-is-the-question-part-1/.  Please do that first, this will make much more sense.  Before we go any further, I need to clarify some things that will influence all of what is written below, and is the basis for the logical reasoning we’re going to do.

Personal Responsibility

Firstly, we need to get on the same page about personal responsibility.  Every person is in control of their own life, or has a significant portion of events or interactions that are choose-able.  Is that agreeable to your way of thinking?  Yes, there are external influences (luck, genetics, where you’re born, parents, culture, etc.), but a person still has agency and can make decisions for themselves.  Therefore this person maintains a lot of influence over the major outcomes in their own life.  Yes, yes, you will argue that there are so many things outside of their control (systematic racism?) that influence outcomes.  While this is certainly true in some systems, it doesn’t control the outcomes, just some of the events, inputs or outputs.  Even in a “systemically racist system,” individuals still gets to make the vast majority of these day-to-day and life decisions.  You may want to argue this point more, and if you do, then you may just want to stop reading now, because you’re not going to agree with most of the rest of this post.  I wish you well, adieu.  To the rest of you, on we go.

Whether we use the libertarian2https://www.libertarianism.org/topics/responsibility or the republican3http://www.bobkwebsite.com/whyiamarepandnotadem.html description of personal responsibility doesn’t matter.  They both are very similar, especially for our purposes here.  Interestingly, I could not find a liberal link to personal responsibility (just a reference to social responsibility4https://www.allsides.com/dictionary/personal-responsibility).  Friedrich Hayek5https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Hayek, a Nobel laureate in economics, wrote in 1960 that “a free society will not function or maintain itself unless its members regard it as right that each individual occupy the position that results from his action and accept it as due to his own action.” The idea is that there are things that each individual MUST do for themselves.  These are not things that anyone else can or should do for them.  Everyone will agree that people have some level of personal responsibility, but that amount differs among political ideologies (as I’ve already pointed out).  I don’t think we need to split hairs on the level at this point, just understand and agree on the concept.  There is a minimum level of things that we must all do to take action in our own lives.  Feeding ourselves, for example, is something that most of us will need to learn if we are going to be successful in life, among many, many other things.  The list could take a long time to make, but you get the idea.  Larry Elder6https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Elder sums up my thoughts on personal responsibility very well with his “Personal Pledge 327https://larryelder.com/news/personal-pledge-32-larry-elder/:”

1) There is no excuse for lack of effort.
2) Although I may be unhappy with my circumstances, and although racism and sexism and other “isms” exist, I know that things are better now than ever, and the future is even brighter.
3) While I may be unhappy with my circumstances, I have the power to change and improve my life. I refuse to be a victim.
4) Others may have been blessed with more money, better connections, a better home environment, and even better looks, but I can succeed through hard work, perseverance, and education.
5) I may be a product of a single- or no-parent household, but I will not hold anyone responsible for my present, or allow anyone to interfere with my future. Others succeed under conditions far worse than mine.
6) Some schools and teachers are better than others, but my level of effort, dedication, curiosity, and willingness to grow determine what I learn.
7) Ambition is the key to growth.
8) I will set apart some time each day to think about where I want to go, and how I intend to get there. A goal without a plan is just a wish.
9) “Luck” is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
10) If suitable role models are not nearby, I will seek them out.
11) A role model is someone who, through hard work and a positive outlook, has achieved.
12) A role model may be a parent, relative, friend, church member, judge, doctor, attorney, businessperson, or someone I’ve read about in the newspaper or seen on the local news.
13) I will contact role models and seek their advice, guidance, and counsel. People remember when they were my age and are eager to help.
14) I will seek out recommended magazines, articles, books, biographies, videos, and motivational and how-to books, and use them for education and motivation.
15) The light is always green. You cannot go full speed with one foot on the brake.
16) I am always “in school,” and I will not waste my summer by failing to read about and speak to people who can inspire me.
17) I will avoid friendship with people who do not share my goals and commitments. Nonsupportive relationships waste time and energy.
18) I will not seek immediate results, as I understand life is a journey and not a destination.
19) I will read a newspaper each day.
20) I will entertain myself in ways that challenge and expand my mind. As someone said, a mind once expanded never returns to its original size.
21) will pay attention to my diet and overall fitness, as they are the keys to a healthy and productive body and an enthusiastic mind.
22) Drugs are stupid. People who believe in drugs don’t believe in themselves.
23) I understand that jobs of the future require more preparation and training than ever, and I am determined to obtain the necessary background.
24) A well-rounded, competent student studies math and science.
25) People are not born “deficient in mathematical ability.” Through hard work and dedication, the subject can be mastered.
26) It is essential that I learn to speak and write standard English. This is not “acting white,” but acting smart.
27) A strong vocabulary is the key to communication, and I will read books on vocabulary enrichment.
28) I expect sometimes to be teased, even ridiculed. This will not stop me; it will only make me stronger and more determined.
29) I control my body and will not create a child until I am spiritually, psychologically, educationally, and financially capable of assuming this awesome responsibility.
30) Life is difficult. I expect setbacks and will learn from them. Struggle creates strength.
31) Every day is precious, and one without growth is squandered.
32) There is only one me, and I’m it!

Mike Rowe’s S.W.E.A.T. pledge

Another great example of personal responsibility is Mike Rowe’s S.W.E.A.T. (Skill & Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo) pledge, wherein there are 12 items to say agree to.  Mike runs a foundation8https://www.mikeroweworks.org/about/ to promote skilled labor – of which we’ve had too many jobs and not enough laborers for years.  He gives away scholarships every year, but he requires the receiver (of free money) to sign this pledge.  Every year, he has kids who won’t do it9https://mikerowe.com/2017/05/otwappalledbythesweatpledge/.  Like, not only can people not accept responsibility when it costs something, but somehow even when it is free it is too much for some kids today.

If you’re interested in learning more about personal responsibility and do some thought experiments on how it can influence outcomes in your life, then I would recommend you do some research on Jordan Peterson10https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jordan_Peterson.  He is, in my opinion, one of the great thought leaders of our time.  He has talked and written a LOT11https://www.amazon.com/Jordan-B-Peterson-Architecture-Bestselling/dp/B082XCZ382/ref=sr_1_6?dchild=1&keywords=jordan+peterson&qid=1601706389&sr=8-6 about personal responsibility (among other ideas, but this one is central).  If you like short videos, this one12https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7BttOOecpE is a good start.  However, that is the baby steps version (just 14 minutes, made for television on Dr. Oz).  If you really want to learn some things about how you’ve come to think the way you think, you need to watch or read something with a bit more meat.  You could go with one of his books, or if you want something free, and easier to consume, we can stick to videos on YouTube.  Be forewarned, that you need to be fully paying attention to make sense of Dr. Peterson.  Your brain needs to be ready for advanced concepts in order to follow his reasoning, otherwise you will either be put to sleep or given a headache.  This video13https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juWJlQ-lclM is a little more advanced than that last one.  Or, if you like podcasts, here is one of his about personal responsibility14https://www.jordanbpeterson.com/podcast/s2-e53-personal-responsibility/.  If you haven’t heard about him before now, “Jordan Peterson’s most essential lesson … is personal responsibility. … [He] is a proponent of individuals taking responsibility for their own lives.  And, a corollary of that is the expectation that it is they … who [are] responsible for what they do or fail to do.” (quoted from this article15https://merionwest.com/2020/02/27/jordan-peterson-at-his-core-teaches-personal-responsibility/).  

This idea is going to be the basis for our further discussion.  If you can’t get behind that idea, then you might be a liberal.  Jeff Foxworthy could probably start a whole series of jokes with “you might be a liberal if” and end it with a number of punch lines about not accepting personal responsibility.  That’s okay.  You can still keep reading, but you probably will disagree with the reasoning.   If you’re here, hopefully it is because you want to learn about another perspective, or you plan on voting Democrat while still believing in personal responsibility (*gasp*).

Blame

Many of the arguments that I have read/heard put an awful lot of blame at DJT’s feet.  Some of this is justified, and some of it is not.  Things that he has said, done or chosen that have had direct impact on people would be in the realm of “he can be blamed for that” (we’ll call this culpable16https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/culpable going forward).   We will use some examples to see whether we think it is reasonable to make the President culpable or not for some of the more egregious accusations.  Things that people are doing based on their own choices, however, we’re going to throw in the unfair blame pile.  There is no way to make clean criteria that we will all agree on, so you will just have to indulge my attempt.  What I think is clear, you may not think so.  This is not a courtroom, and I am not a lawyer – we’re in my territory.  I’ll do the best I can to point out some things that I think are acceptable to most reasonable people who are jurors (trying to judge Trump or those who vote for him).  We’re just going to have to let me make my points, and I will freely admit that where I draw the line might be different than where you might draw it (ie. this is subjective).  However, we can hopefully agree that there is a line, and that there are things getting tossed on the wrong side of the line – unfair blame.

Blameworthiness, in the criminal law context, is conceived as the carefully calculated end product of discrete judgments about a transgressor’s intentionality, causal proximity to harm, and the harm’s foreseeability.
Reference17https://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1013&context=facultyworkingpapers

Before we dig into the meanings of blame, and how they apply to our reasoning, I’m going to start with an example from my children here.  My oldest son will sometimes push or hit one of his younger brothers because of words that the younger brother was using to provoke him.  When the inevitable happens (boys will be boys), and he hurts his younger brother in retaliation, what am I supposed to do to correct these events?  Smack the hand of the hitter?  Reprimand the provoker?  The correct answer is call BOTH brothers out, because they BOTH made bad choices.  The younger brother was trying to provoke the older, and succeeded.  The younger brother needs to learn to control his words.  After all, “he started it” the older brother will say.  However, the second act was the more egregious one, as the older brother used force (violence) to cause physical harm.  The psychological harm is harder to point out, and harder to prove to society (teachers, authority figures, police, etc.).  The lesson for the younger brother: stop being a jerk and using your words to hurt others.  The lesson for the older brother: the old adage, “sticks and stone may hurt your bones, but words will never hurt you.”  Recognizing BOTH of these, most people would probably agree is decent parenting.  However, can we go farther.  How much does my own example come into play here?  How about my reaction?  They both are ingredients for this stew (the actions and outcomes of our family dynamics).  We will draw on this example later.

2 types of Blame – Emotional vs Culpable

According to R. Jay Wallace18https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/blame/, “blame is primarily an emotion.”  Trump certainly evokes emotion!  Let’s also clarify that there is this emotional blame, and then there is true culpable-type blame (the stuff we agree is blameworthy).  In this same paper, written by Janice Nadler, called “MORAL CHARACTER, MOTIVE, AND THE PSYCHOLOGY OF BLAME,” it states (emphasis added):

a theory [on blame] that emphasizes the significance of emotions might opt for a more circumscribed account, since it’s not clear that indignation or other forms of blaming anger are really apt responses to, say, culpable epistemic failures.

In lay terms, emotion-based blame is not the same as culpability.  Most of these so-called arguments against Trump are emotion based ones.  There are few people who I have talked to about Trump (especially if they are against Trump) who do not emote something strong.  It is right on the surface, in their face.  This emotion is spread on thick and it is impossible to miss.  This is a telltale sign that they are focused on emotion, and not facts.  The story and its implications matter, the details perhaps not as much.  Let’s assume, then, that the blame we can both accept for the President is the non-emotional, culpable blame.  That leaves us with emotional blame as the kind that can be put in the unfair pile.  We’re looking for facts and things that are provable, without a shadow of doubt.  Things that could convict.  Things that only appear to harm, or make people emotional (sad, mad, etc.), are not the type of actions that we really say “yes, that is truly his fault.”  Does that make sense?  There has to be a line between what people are emotional over versus what is rational.  This is where my line is.

Blame’s Purpose

Now, what purpose does blame have?  Culpable blame gives us something to point at and focus on.  Culpable blame can be used for good, because if justified (proven), it can let us know what needs to be fixed.  It gives us a root cause19https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Root_cause, something that I’ve had to provide in my work for many years now.  Officer Chauvin20https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Chauvin (the guy who kneeled on George Floyd’s neck) deserves a lot of blame (both kinds).  He is pretty much universally blamed for Floyd’s death.  It is pretty clear to most people that he was a major cause of what happened, even if he was following training, or Floyd had other influences (drugs in his system).  The most important difference in this case was that Floyd was no longer a threat when this occurred.  Chauvin had a choice, and chose poorly.  He’s culpable.  If his training told him to kneel on a neck, he might have a defense (albeit a weak one).  This is something we can probably prove, because we are all eye witnesses (or that’s how we feel anyways – side note: isn’t that another crazy thing 2020 has done for us?  We have a front row seat to all the action now… video is practically ubiquitous, but it still misses things, so now we assume we know everything, but this is even misguided, as we get a different point of view when we see the whole body cam instead of the cell phone version that is just a small clip.  But I digress…).

Emotional blame can be used to give people a unified enemy to hate.  It can lead to or stoke hatred.  This is especially true if the blame in question is false, unfair, misguided or vague.  In extreme circumstances, blame, when coupled with emotion, can blind.  This is a dangerous outcome that I think has happened a lot in 2020.  Certainly, (peaceful) protests were justified this year.  A lot of them.  But when emotion creeps in, misguided emotional blame follows.  In the case of Floyd, Chauvin himself was to blame.  The other officers nearby deserve some, for not stopping Chauvin.  Whether this was in the course of their duty as a cop (rules, training, orders, rank), or as a human, someone should have stepped in.  Even the department and its training needs to take some blame too.  Local police unions can perhaps be added to the pile as well.  However, all of this needed to be done within the bounds of the law and our system.  As soon as protests became violent, this emotional desire for blame overshadowed reason and humanity, all over, especially outside of Minnesota.  Other states had a right to inspect their own police departments, but only through the processes of local government.  This was emotional blame.  In Minnesota, they had a current case in the works.  In the rest of other places who were protesting and rioting, it was based on emotion.  Then other cases came up to justify the rage (emotional blame), so most people just skipped over the reality.  They were already protesting and rioting before the justification.  And, when you look at the video in those other cases, few of them are as clear-cut as Floyd’s.  Whether KY, or WI, or GA, each case was different.  Emotions were hot everywhere, and people were wanting for there to be a justifiable reason for their actions.  They dug up all the past, including things that had already been through courts.  In some cases, using the system, there were appeals in place, or we were waiting for more information to come out (Breonna Taylor).  On the flip side, had all the protests remained peaceful, then the story could just be about reform, voting, activism, new laws, statutes, training, etc. It would have all been done properly.  I have not seen or heard much of that.  I don’t know whether that’s because it hasn’t happened that way, or because the news media isn’t covering it.  For me the BLM protests have been a good example of using emotional blame incorrectly.  Instead, people went with “one wrong justifies another.”  This is unfair, and you can see what it led to.  Chaos, fear, destruction, violence, anarchy, more death. 

Is blame important in our society?  Absolutely, yes.  It is how law and order works (culpable blame).  However, when there are no cases to be tried, and we are looking at large and complex societal issues, finding something to blame can feel good (emotional blame), but rarely will be accurate or fair.  Blaming a single man (the President) for individual outcomes is a very hard case to prove.  In most cases, the link would be tenuous at best.  Take the economy for example.  As much as a president would want to take credit for (be blamed for) the entire economy, its usually more complex than that.  Certainly he would have a large influence (and Trump has shown that his tweets can send the stock market sailing), but it can’t ALL be at his feet.  Maybe his entire administration can take credit (and they ALL do), but even this is tough to take a face value.  Another small example of emotional blame is from a woman whose husband recently died recently of COVID-19.  The obituary she wrote went viral21https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/david-nagy-died-coronavirus-his-wife-wrote-obit-blaming-trump-n1235761.  This is a horrible circumstance, but I’m going to put it in the emotional blame side.  I’ve already built the case for personal responsibility, so I just can’t conflate the two ideas (that Trump caused his death because the man was convinced that it was safe to go outside).  

Trump’s Personality and Twitter

Now comes the hard part.  How do we apply that example to a real life situation and our leaders (like DJT)?  If we were to start with DJT’s use of Twitter, this will become very difficult.  I would agree that most of what he puts out on Twitter is his own fault.  Personally, I don’t use Twitter, but I do see what he posts indirectly via my news feeds (the news will not stop telling us what he tweets).  Who else could we blame for his own words?  And we know they are his own words.  How do we explain him, or understand him?  We’ve never had a tweeting president quit like this before, although to be fair, there is only one person to compare him to on this topic.  In fact, Twitter didn’t even exist until the Obama administration, and while Obama did use it a fair amount22https://www.tweetbinder.com/blog/barack-obama-twitter/. Although, you might be surprised to know that Trump uses Twitter only slightly more than @Potus Obama did23https://www.tweetbinder.com/blog/trump-twitter/, and that his use of Twitter is gone down substantially since he became president.  Can you believe that?  I had no idea.  This was quite shocking to me, actually.  That is not what I would have guessed.  The media sure makes it seem like he uses it an awful lot, or maybe it is just the content of his tweets.  I am not going to go into his Twitter feed, so if you’re interesting in doing a more in depth analysis, be my guest.  Here are the two graphs for you to compare.  You can see that Trump has indeed used it less since he became President, although it is increasing as we come to an election (much like the spike you see in Obama’s spike in 2012).  Yes, overall Trump uses Twitter more, but as a new tool, so does everyone.  You wouldn’t have guessed that the Presidency has actually lessened it though, at least I didn’t.

Obama’s twitter timeline

Trump’s twitter timeline

Let’s try to break Trump down into what we know, so we can understand how much we need to use Twitter against him (for blame).  DJT is a unique person and has his own perspective.  He talks about things in very simple and generic terms when they do not show up on his radar as matters of import.  This makes him seem uncaring on some things, because of the contrasting passion he has when he’s talking about something that he is currently focused on.  He reuses the same words over and over again (not a huge vocabulary – see what I did there?).  He grew up far differently than we did, so he doesn’t see the world the same way we do.  Because of this different, on one level, he can’t possibly always mean things the way we think he does.  His life experience and therefore his day-to-day vocabulary would not match up with most of America.  If you understand that he grew up privileged and rich, but now sees himself as a man of the people (as if that were actually possible), it may help you see him with a different lens.  Or at least put his Twitter rants in context.  Trump on Twitter is much like Elon Musk on Twitter24https://www.wired.com/story/elon-musks-mouth-tweets-trouble-again/.  He opens his big stupid mouth and gets in trouble all the time.  Twitter, in my opinion, is partly to blame for being such a limited tool that causes just as much confusion as it does clarity, but I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole.    Never before have we had such quick and easy access to someone’s thoughts and mouth.  Never before have we had such a glimpse inside someone else’s mind.  And never before have we had a tool that helps us judge someone without proper context.  Twitter is simultaneously a useful tool and a horrible one at the same time.  If you want more in depth analysis and information on our social media applications, please go check out the documentary called The Social Dilemma25https://www.thesocialdilemma.com/ for more info.  I would highly recommend it.  It echoes much of my critique of Big Tech26http://erik.briggsfam.com/2020/09/22/to-trump-or-not-to-trump-that-is-the-question-part-1/#BigTech that I made in part one of this post, which I wrote before ever watching the documentary.

Trump thinks he is saying words that we want to hear.  He likes to hear himself think.  He thinks highly of his bluntness (as do many of his supporters).  This gives us a context to see Trump in, and also lets us know what filter to use when we see his words on Twitter.  Knowing this first also helps us understand his intent.  He thinks he is doing great things for all of us – most of you would agree with this. Not that he actually is, but that he thinks he is.  This is one area where the media doesn’t need to clip/cut and fabricate.  Trump’s words alone serve their purpose.  However, this is where there is a difference.  

While there is a good portion of us that just roll our eyes when he starts bragging (using our filter to ignore him), there is also a portion of his supporters who just take him at his word.  I don’t mean that they think he’s actually doing everything as well as he states he is.  They don’t believe everything he says, but hey believe that he means it.  They find this refreshing.  This style of speech is appealing to this portion of America who thinks that Washington is corrupt and doesn’t actually represent us any longer.  Take this Gallup poll27https://news.gallup.com/poll/185759/widespread-government-corruption.aspx about corruption in our government as support for this notion.

As a business man, it was commonly known that he surrounded himself with loyal people.  Anyone who watched The Apprentice on television saw this28https://www.npr.org/2017/10/06/555218514/6-lessons-about-trump-from-season-1-of-the-apprentice.  Now, he still does the same thing29https://thebulwark.com/trump-and-his-yes-men/, surrounding himself with people who tell him what he wants to hear.  In this echo chamber, who is there to explain to him how he really sounds?  There were a brave few, but many have been fired by now.  Then we have his salesmanship.  This is also very obvious, and we knew this from his TV show.  Much of his success, in his view, came because he could convince people of something’s value.  This is the same man doing the same things he did in business, just with our country.  Or that is how he sees it, anyways.  Okay, I didn’t intend to go off on an apology tour of Trump, but I think putting him in the right context (filter) is important.  When you use this context, you can see that he is trying to do good for the country, in his own way.  And he actually has pulled it off in many instances – more on this part later.

Okay, now that we have a context for Trump, lets come up with an example to dig into.  Now, I will start with the personal responsibility portion of this – and go back to my examples with my children.  Him making a statement doesn’t justify anyone take that into action by themselves (much like our example with my sons).  People are individually responsible for their own actions.  Much like my son who thinks he was justified because of some words.  I think not.  Trump is not completely blameless, however, on these.  He justifiably deserves emotional blame – I’m on board with that.  Some of the crap he says is just plain stupid.  This is one of the reasons a President is there for.  He is the example – where the buck stops – the head honcho – the person to blame.  But is this culpable blame, or emotional blame.  Based on what I watch, and what I’ve witnessed, most people use the president as a punching bag to express their frustrations.  What they are expressing is emotional blame.  Now, regarding culpable blame, I don’t think anyone who acted on their own could use Trump as a defense in court, for example.  Not based on the stuff he does say.   When you take emotional blame, and try to make it into culpable blame, you get things like the impeachment…  Sorry, the evidence didn’t support the Democrats’ feelings since they lost in 2016.  They spent 3 years trying to build a case, which didn’t stick and didn’t have enough evidence.  When you consider that they even vowed to impeach him even before he took office30https://www.foxnews.com/media/rep-al-green-genesis-trump-impeachment-running-for-office, then you have to wonder how this man has even been able to do what he has?  He’s arguably had more roadblocks than any President ever.  The news media says that he is the least liked President in history, but they also were the ones saying that Hillary was going to win31https://www.cnbc.com/2016/08/29/wall-street-doesnt-just-see-a-hillary-win-it-sees-a-landslide.html by landslide32https://www.newsweek.com/hillary-clinton-track-electoral-college-landslide-510362.  Take a look here at the history33https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efforts_to_impeach_Donald_Trump of the impeachment efforts, which “formally” started in Feb 2017, one month after he took office.  It’s clear that they never wanted him there to begin with, and they have done everything possible to get him out, stop him from being effective, and more.  Nothing is missing from the attacks against him, not even the kitchen sink.

Blame Trump example – White nationalists

Now, let’s look at a non-Twitter example, one that I see a lot, and disagree with: Trump supports or normalizes white supremacists / white nationalists. 

This particular topic just won’t seem to go away.  And there is a good reason for it, because it keeps making the news.  Here is an example of a legitimate news story34https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/blame-abc-news-finds-17-cases-invoking-trump/story?id=58912889, with real facts, about people who have committed crimes while citing Trump.  This was good journalism – at face value.  Specifically, there were 54 cases where people cited Trump (and 41 of them that acted with violence).  This certainly sounds like a smoking gun, doesn’t it?  However, the truth of the matter is much more nuanced, and this ABC affiliate didn’t cover some missing information (context).  Where did these 54 people get their information about what Trump supposedly said, which incited them to act/hate?  Aha…  I think we need to consider that in many of these cases, their information would have come from the news media’s own coverage.   So what?  Well, consider that the news media has been purposefully misquoting Trump since 2016.  People see him say “there was many fine people on both sides” and news anchor after news anchor after news anchor (and on35https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/trump-defends-white-nationalist-protesters-some-very-fine-people-on-both-sides/537012/, and on, and on).  The media is driving this narrative because the astroturf has worked in the past, and this is the single biggest lie that people continue to buy.  The facts are these:  Politifact has debunked this36https://www.politifact.com/article/2019/apr/26/context-trumps-very-fine-people-both-sides-remarks/Larry Elder has debunked it37https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5N_O-J_TAj8.  The facts are that he has denounced racism, the KKK, white supremacy38https://youtu.be/FTEbSoe1KFo?t=265, over and over and over39https://www.factcheck.org/2020/02/trump-has-condemned-white-supremacists/.  You will say, then why can’t the press secretary just state it, or he just state it (again)?  Umm, my children have played this game with me before: 

Child: Dad, <asks question>. 
I answer. 
Child: <repeats question>. 
I answer, again. 
Child <repeats question>. 
I impatiently answer. 
Child <repeats>. 
Now I begin to ignore. 
This is a child’s game, and I will no longer play. 
Child repeats. 
Dad patience is spent.  The wooden spoon makes an appearance…

If you accept the idea that the media is the child in our example, then you might be able to see how this is getting irksome.  At some point it is disingenuous at best, and an outright devious lie at worst, to continue asking the “question.”  It is a smear being perpetrated by the media.  For Trump, he can’t keep answering.  At the first debate, Chris Wallace asked him AGAIN!?!  You say its a fair question, and Chris Wallace must have thought it important to ask.  Well, Dave Rubin debunks this40https://youtu.be/FTEbSoe1KFo?t=157, but also shares some other information about Chris Wallace with his history of asking him this same question, at the debate in 201641https://youtu.be/FTEbSoe1KFo?t=265.  Fair?  You be the judge.  For me, there’s enough reasonable doubt to fit a semi past.  The media is beating a horse that was still born (the original question was never even legitimate aka living).   As of 10/15, they just did it again42https://youtu.be/Rj7jk9bDTyM?t=37.

Let’s take this example a step further, as far as culpability or blame.  If Trump has never been pro-KKK43https://www.politifact.com/search/?q=trump+kkk, or pro-white nationalism or pro-Nazi or pro-white supremacist, then who is to blame for this?  His words were easy to manipulate, due to his style of rambling, but fault of the story doesn’t lie with him.  I submit to you that the media is to blame.  They have known all along that this isn’t a real concern, or real news.  They have driven that narrative, and they are the ones who gave these unfortunate people the ideas that Trump does support it.  But Trump could just denounce it already, you say.  Yeah, we just covered that.  He has, many times, but the media doesn’t cover it, or cover it clearly.  So, AGAIN, this one is on the media.  They have blood on their hands, not Trump.  And to be clear, domestic terrorism is a real threat44https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/2020_10_06_homeland-threat-assessment.pdf (ie. there really are white extremist morons out there, and they have caused almost 40 deaths in 2018-19), but its not coming from Trump.

So, can we conclude that this Trump is really a closet racist that we just can’t seem to take down, or is this a clear case of astroturfing45https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing?  Since I have been watching and reading, for me it is clearly the latter, despite his obvious flaws.  That doesn’t mean I love the guy.  Far from it.  It just means I have been trying to call balls and strikes, when everything thinks everything is clearly strikes.  Statistically, scientifically, emotionally, logically, it just can’t be.  51% of this country is clearly so much more superior in logic and reasoning than the other 49%.  We are all equally wrong in the same proportions.  However, we can’t take our anger (emotion) and turn it into facts (culpability).  This really needs to stop, and is going to continue to fracture our country until either, someone points it out and proposes a fix, we neuter the news media, or we enter into civil war.

Blame Trump example – COVID-19

First we need to go back to personal responsibility.  I don’t believe the government is in control over whether or not I get COVID.  Ever.  Because, as we all know, safety is first THIRD!  Wait, safety third46https://www.jems.com/2018/11/13/safety-is-third-not-first-and-we-all-know-it-should-be/?  Safety third is a concept that Mike Rowe47https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Rowe learned, and now  teaches48https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1lcVo1Zshk, after he was on his TV Show called Dirty Jobs.  Essentially, he was on a crab boat in the Bering Sea, and he was in 30 foot swells on top of some crab pots.  He filmed his segment, in highly dangerous conditions.  Then went to the captain to complain.  “OSHA!”  He cried to the captain.  The captain told him “OSHA?  You mean ocean!  Look son, my job on this boat is to bring you all home rich, not alive.  If you want to get back home, that’s on you.”  The idea is that safety is your responsibility, always.  The idea of “safety first” makes people think that someone else is looking out for their own safety.  This leads to complacency.  Complacency leads to accidents.  Company safety officers would tell you that49https://www.airswift.com/about/safety/complacency-leads-to-accidents.  The best bet for safety as third is as a reminder that safety is on you.  Our governments have influence and guidelines for a “response”, which may or may not encourage people to try to act “safely.”  Let’s say there is a hurricane coming.  We know it is coming, we warn people of it, and prepare for it.  We ask people to move out of its path.  Some listen, some don’t.  Afterwards, the government is tasked with cleaning up.  Can we liken COVID to this example?  I think there are a lot of similarities.  Let’s do some analysis. 

Force of Nature?

The government cannot stop a hurricane.  It is a force of nature.  You will argue that COVID is not a force of nature.  Are you sure?  Interestingly, in legal terms, there is a term called force majeure50https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Force_majeure which essentially negates the terms of a contract because of an “act of God,” or something outside of both parties’ control.  Here is an analysis called “COVID-19; Does it fall within your force majeure clause?51https://www.ashurst.com/en/news-and-insights/legal-updates/covid-19-act-of-god/” that might let you chew on that idea a bit.  It is an interesting analysis of whether or not there are legal grounds to consider COVID-19 as an “act of God” or not.  There seem to be some cases where this might be arguable, but it would be up to a lawyer to prove.  There is no clear-cut answer, however.  I do know that companies are currently scared of this idea, so work-from-home policies are going to continue to be as flexible as possible for the foreseeable future (see “Microsoft’s New 6-Word Remote Work Policy Is Brilliant. Here’s Why Your Company Should Steal It52https://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/microsofts-new-6-word-remote-work-policy-is-brilliant-heres-why-your-company-should-steal-it.html“).   I know my company is doing similar.  Companies don’t want to get into the game of proof or liability, so they just avoid the conflict altogether.  Written at the end of March (before we knew much) by Dana Wilde53https://www.centralmaine.com/columns/dana-wilde-cm/, this article called “The force of nature that is the coronavirus54https://www.centralmaine.com/2020/03/25/dana-wilde-the-force-of-nature-that-is-the-coronavirus/” explains that it is things in our own power then can lessen the spread of it, but it in an of itself is not “alive” by scientific standards.  It is truly a force of nature.  We can control our own actions, and steer our outcomes in a manner, but we cannot stop it ourselves.   Wilde states many thing that we still do and consider today.  “The coronavirus is an unavoidable natural disaster that can be lessened by deliberate, rational behavior and self-discipline.”  Things in our own control, like sanitizing, hand washing, distancing ourselves from people, limiting our trips in public, and so forth. 

The Science

Again, this is exactly what we’ve been doing for months.  We’ve had MONTHS and MONTHS of “scientists” to tell us how to deal with this thing, but they haven’t added anything that this naturalist didn’t also say back in March.  Except for maybe masks.  Masks?  Here is Nature’s article55https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02801-8 on the topic, which gives a fairly in depth analysis of the many different scientific studies out there about masks.  They make a case that “increases in per-capita mortality were four times lower in places where masks were the norm or recommended by the government, compared with other regions.”  This sounds like a nail for the coffin.  But is it really?  Let’s do some of our own simple math with the public information available to see if it matches the data.  If we take a place in the US that has been masking for ages, like NY and compare it to a place that didn’t do masks at all, like Sweden, there should be a clear winner, right? 

Okay, here we go:

Okay, so New York to date has had 522,513 cases, with 33,507 deaths, under a population of 19.4 million people.  This is 1,722 deaths per million in population (deaths per capita). Sweden to date has had 106,380 cases, with 5,922 deaths, under a population of 10.1 million people.  This is 585 deaths per million in population.  So, the actual data show that Sweden, doing almost nothing56https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-53498133, had results almost exactly 1/3rd of what has happening in NYC, with the strictest lockdowns in the US.  Said another way, the impact to Sweden was 3 times less than in New York.  Here it is again in graph forms, over the timeline of the year. 
Sweden with zero lockdowns compared to New York with strict lockdowns:

So, Sweden with no lockdowns has had a slightly slower decline, just comparing linearly.  However, they Y axis isn’t equal.  New York is only double the population of Sweden.  If we adjusted the Y axis.  New York is still going up, even now.  Sweden spiked and fell to almost no more deaths in 5 months time.  New York has been going for also about 5 months before the deaths dropped really low, it is just that the spike was 10 times higher than Sweden’s.  So, account for the 2x population, and you have a 5x spike.  Here is what the 2 graphs would look like overlayed on the same scale:

Sweden is different than New York, you say.  Yeah, yeah, we all know this.  And that is the point! Government’s reaction to disasters is most useful when it is a one-size-fits-all response.  COVID-19 clearly doesn’t meet that criteria.  Trump tried to push back against long-term lockdowns57https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/trump-coronavirus-lockdown-skepticism-143800“The cure can’t be worse than the problem itself,”  he said58https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/23/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-restrictions.html.  But then we got a scientist who would listen59https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/i-m-going-keep-pushing-anthony-fauci-tries-make-white-house-listen-facts-pandemic.  Listen to who is the real question.  Was he listening to the best science, or to the people (like our mainstream media does)?  Do scientists have blind spots and bias too?  Keep reading and you be the judge.  And, just so you know, the science shows that lockdowns have higher death rates60https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/506515-the-truth-about-lockdowns (it’s not just me saying it).

Flatten the Curve, Remember?

So New York flattened the curve61https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/flattening-curve-for-covid-19-what-does-it-mean-and-how-can-you-help, exactly like we wanted it to do.  So did every place in the USA.  Everyone was on board with the idea of slowing or flattening the curve.  But the idea was to not overwhelm hospitals62https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/03/how-to-prevent-overwhelming-hospitals-and-build-immunity/.  Period.  We didn’t talk about slowing the curve for a vaccine.  It was slowing the curve to not have people dying like animals in hospitals, like what was happening in Italy63https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/05/world/europe/italy-coronavirus-lockdown-reopen.html.  Remember?  That was the only reason for temporary lockdowns.  Once we slowed the curve, we would go back to normal, right?  That’s what I and everyone else agreed to.  However, that is not what has happened, or continued to happen.  

Alternate Narratives

So the President was forced into a response that he didn’t want and cannot refute he fought.  Agreed?  But wait, the response is all his fault, right?  Well, they made the case that the States were responsible64https://theconversation.com/trump-versus-the-states-what-federalism-means-for-the-coronavirus-response-136361.  The federal government would proved what was lacking, ventilators.  They did this, and to date, not a single hospital has run out of available ventilators65https://www.politifact.com/article/2020/apr/24/can-anyone-who-needs-ventilator-get-one-so-far-it-/.  The states had already decided to take matters into their own hands and do things according to their own chosen experts, based on models from the best data scientists at our best universities.  The Cuomo brothers were national news66https://people.com/politics/chris-cuomo-andrew-cuomo-brothers-argue-national-tv/ for weeks while New York fought COVID.  New York took on the face of the nation.  It seemed great.  I really liked them.  They didn’t want to listen to the President.  In fact, they all went and did their own responses67https://www.wsj.com/articles/cuomo-covid-new-york-coronavirus-de-blasio-shutdown-timing-11599836994, since they wanted to prove that they could do better than him, since it is an election year after all.  If they could show that they stepped up and saved lives when he couldn’t, then it would be easy to pin this all on him.  So remember, that the States taking over was their choice.  The White House provided guidelines.  Only Georgia has “followed” them, to my knowledge, since they aren’t mentioned any more.  The other states (mostly Democrat run) did their own thing, and wanted to use it against Trump.  Was this because the White House didn’t provide guidelines?  No.  This was because they wanted to set their own guidelines.  It was purely political.  So lets look at the USA’s top deaths per million, and see which states are Democratic run that did their own thing, and which were Republican and followed Trump’s guidelines.  Fair?

First, here is a chart of the top 15 states in the US for COVID cases.  There are 8 Democrat-run, and 7 Republican-run ones.  Seems like an even split, not much difference:

In the very least, you can’t say that the states that followed Trump’s guidelines have fared any worse than the states who have done their own thing.  Agreed?  So let’s dice this data by a different column.  How about Deaths per Capita.  Here are the top 10 worst states as far as deaths per capita (and arguably compelling case for states with the worst COVID response):

Does the color skew change for your eyes too?  It is 7 democratic run vs 3 republican run ones.  Now, I will grant you that this is not definitive data, but it certainly pushes hard against the narrative that Trump has ruined our response.  In fact, in my mind, this proves the opposite.  Would you disagree with the assessment that the blue states are doing their own thing, and the red states are following Trump’s plan?  That’s the narrative.  Based on this, Trump’s approach is less deadly than the others.  In fact, in New York itself, Cuomo has been lauded, and Trump has been condemned68https://www.newsbreak.com/new-york/new-york/news/1556695303129/ny-patch-coronavirus-survey-cuomo-lauded-trump-condemned.  Now can you see a narrative?  It’s there, right in front of you. 

The media has been telling us that Trump has failed because it has to.  It is part of their playbook.  Sure, our testing and contact tracing could be much better.  But that has proven to be much more difficult in the US than it has in other countries69https://elemental.medium.com/hey-america-what-happened-to-contact-tracing-47a2dbccc020.  It is different county-by-county and state-by-state.  Again, a one-size-fits-all approach does not work in the US.  This is not Trump’s fault.  How about Sweden?  Outside the US, their approach is still garnering praise70https://www.statnews.com/2020/09/18/an-experts-take-on-what-the-u-s-u-k-did-wrong-in-covid-19-communications-and-what-others-did-right/.  However, aside from a few outliers71https://www.reviewjournal.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-sweden-now-a-coronavirus-success-story-2141207/, inside the US, the media is still making them out to be a “disaster72https://time.com/5899432/sweden-coronovirus-disaster/.”  See, the media HAS to keep up the narrative.  They know we can’t decipher information on our own.  We will believe whatever they write, as long as they do it a lot.  As long as there are enough believable people saying the same thing. Remember, one of the types of a smear is astroturf.  Here is a quote from Attkisson’s book73https://www.amazon.com/Smear-Shady-Political-Operatives-Control-ebook/dp/B01JYX44LE (emphasis added):

Plainly speaking, astroturf is when political, corporate, or other special interests disguise themselves and try to represent their causes as being genuine groundswells of support by ordinary people. Astroturfers write blogs, use social media, publish ads and letters to the editor, pay people to form protests or demonstrate as crowds, or simply post comments online to try to fool you into thinking an independent or grassroots movement is speaking. They use college professors and scientists; nonprofits; government; doctors and university researchers; public officials; news and scientific publications. If there’s a way to co-opt a mode of communication or a group of communicators, they’ve figured out how to do it. The whole point of astroturf is to try to give the impression there’s widespread support for or against an agenda when there’s not. Astroturf seeks to manipulate you into changing your opinion by making you feel as if you’re an outlier when you’re not. It magically transforms the media into propaganda agents. In short, what do you do when you don’t have an actual grassroots campaign for your cause? You buy it—or manufacture it—with astroturf.

Attkisson, Sharyl. The Smear (p. 120). Harper. Kindle Edition.

So why such an attack on Sweden’s approach in the US?  The US, whose death rate is currently at 682 per million (and climbing) is going to lecture Sweden (again, 585 deaths per million, and holding).  Right, we can totally believe that.  Or, we could believe that we, the USA and all our geniuses know better, despite all the numbers saying otherwise.  More importantly is that we smear the idea that Sweden is doing better.  They had 6 deaths in the last 2 days.  The US had over 1,300 deaths over the last couple days.  Again, who are we listening to and WHY?  For heaven’s sake, ask yourself why.  Why would we need to tell this narrative?  Could it possibly be because it will make Trump look worse and sway votes away from him?  Absolutely yes.  Are there other reasons?  Sure, possibly American hubris.  But its getting thick here folks.  I don’t know how to hand it on a silver platter an easier.  

Great Barrington Declaration – oh you thought I was done with narratives?

Hopefully some of you have seen my link to this declaration, and its accompanying press video74https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtiInz1DWuA (2 hours, I watched the whole thing – sped up, of course).  The quick summary is this:

It doesn't look like this information has made it very far so far I'm sharing, since I find it very interesting. A…

Posted by Erik Briggs on Monday, October 12, 2020

Oh, but they said “Herd Immunity”…

The science behind this and the scientists who support it provide a compelling case.  These scientists are NOT promoting “herd immunity” as a STRATEGY.  It has nothing to do with politics. Their reference to herd immunity is the recognition of it as a biological fact: Herd immunity is the only protection we’ve had for millions of years and has defeated millions of pathogens passing through the human population over time which is why we’re all still here. Vaccines produce an artificially-induced form of herd immunity – they help us get there faster or safer than nature would have otherwise let us. Their strategy would allow us to achieve herd immunity WITHOUT collateral damage – things that the science is showing us as negative effects of children without schools, etc. The fact is, the world WILL be achieving herd immunity no matter what strategy we incorporate – it is the state at which point we no longer have to fear, lockdown, change our lives because the virus has run its course.  Some hear herd immunity and think its a strategy to just allow things to go unchecked. That is nonsense and is the construct of the MSM and fools. Dr. Jay Bhattacharya says he believes our (USA’s and the world’s) COVID response will go down as one of the biggest mistakes we’ve ever made. Not because of Trump, but because of lockdowns and their far-reaching consequences. He equally suggests that Trump (although not by name) is part of the bad reaction, because the government suggested and supported lockdowns. This falls on all who have been suggesting those ideas.

Lockdowns were originally suggested for flattening the curve (as I’ve mentioned above), not eliminating COVID without a vaccine. The discussion morphed into the latter, without any scientific debate at all, but also because of our lack of data at the time. These doctors state that the data is in, and it is clear.  They are wanting to open discussions. They aren’t saying they already have all the answers. As they are scientists, they just want the data (which they feel is being ignored or politicized) to be given its proper consideration. Herd immunity, again, isn’t something we try. It is something we get. We get it ALWAYS, with every disease, ever (unless we go extinct from it). We get it with chicken-pox, mumps, measles and rubella, etc. by using vaccines. They are not suggesting we just open up without vaccines, but take precautions to protect the vulnerable. They are suggesting that we can safely build herd immunity with those that are already strong against this virus (THE YOUNG!).  The data suggests there is a large portion of the population that will react to this much like a normal flu – and in children, its less deadly than yearly flu (their words). However, there is a portion of the population where it is much worse – the aged and immuno-compromised. Their whole point is: shouldn’t our response take that into account?  Yes, you say, that makes sense.  It does!  The current responses (whether Trump or Biden (theoretical) or Cuomo’s) are causing avoidable collateral damage. This is not to say that it isn’t also saving lives. We are. They are just suggesting that we could do better.  Save lives that need saving, and improve lives of those that don’t need saving.

The Trump effect in action

When I posted that on social media, it seemed that very few people had seen it, and few news outlets had covered it.  That changed the day after I posted (not due to me).  Somehow the President became aware of it, and had a press conference stating that he would like to adopt it as their new policy.  Since then, the following headlines have come forth:

Wow, oh wow.  Like, I couldn’t see that coming from a mile away?!?!  I had read about it and researched it the 2 nights before all of these articles were written.  Every single one of these posts does not understand the declaration, or what it is saying about herd immunity.  In fact, they don’t even try to understand it.  They’re disingenuous at best.  They are purposefully giving meanings where there aren’t any.  This is a smear, plain and simple.  Every headline is using loaded language82https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loaded_language.  There is absolutely zero science rebutting the idea here.  This is such a disappointingly predictable outcome.  I’m not going to go through each of these articles.  Suffice it to say that they missed the point.  They saw that Trump embraced something, so open the playbook and it says refute.  Don’t worry about facts, intentions, lives, debates.  Smear, smear, smear.  He tried to do something that would be easy to astroturf.  Shame on him for trying to do the right thing – his job.

Government’s Actual Role 

The government can educate people to let them know how dangerous something is and where it may be coming from.  They can tell people to get out of its path, via recommendation, order, edict, whatever.  They cannot make people do any of these things, however.  The most important thing for each individual is whether or not the individual is acting safely (ie. they are more in control over whether or not they).  If we break down COVID spread to probabilities alone, the highest level of protection (ie. the single biggest impact on whether or not a person can “avoid” COVID) is that person’s individual actions to protect themselves.  They decide whether to go out, to wear a mask, to wash hands, to use sanitizer, distance themselves.  The individual decides which stores to walk into, how close to walk, whether to touch something without sanitizing, etc., etc., etc.  This all falls under personal responsibility. 

Science knows all

There are moments when one cannot 100% always remain safe.  Are we to assume, perhaps, that someone who entered our 6 foot bubble is going to now have given us this disease?  What if someone coughs?  What if I attended a wedding?  What if I went to a bar thinking that all was well?  What if I think COVID is a hoax, so I choose not to wear a mask, and still go outside?  Am I causing others harm, or killing them?  There is no actual scientific evidence to support that idea, and it is harmful to push it.  Did I say harmful?  I meant helpful in the fight against Trump.  There are many83https://www.rcreader.com/commentary/masks-dont-work-covid-a-review-of-science-relevant-to-covide-19-social-policy articles84https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/04/commentary-masks-all-covid-19-not-based-sound-data by real scientists85https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-take-off-that-facemask-20200209-gokq7zy5dbcwznn6rztbq372ca-story.html that state that masks aren’t useful86http://www.digitaljournal.com/life/health/op-ed-covid19-put-away-that-facemask-save-it-for-healthcare-workers/article/569818 or protect against87https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/49/2/275/405108 COVID-19.   Now, let me clarify, I’m not advocating no masks.  However, the science (you know the part with studies and data) doesn’t have any data except that it protects the wearer88https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02801-8.  The argument is about the science.  There isn’t data about non-wearers against wearers.  

Moreover, the idea that someone not wearing a mask is causing others harm is a lie at worst, and misinformation and fear mongering and best.  From a social science perspective, however, it is irresponsible for scientists to continue to suggest that people should get angry when others refuse to wear masks.  The CDC has said for months that it takes 15 minutes of exposure89https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/public-health-recommendations.html in order to transmit the disease.  If you yourself are wearing your mask, then the micro-droplets or aerosols, or whatever could possibly be inhaled, then you’re protected.  Simple logic says that double masks would be safer, but that is a perception thing, not actual science.  There haven’t been studies to prove that everyone needs masks, nor have there been any documented cases where people have spread COVID-19 to those wearing masks by those who are not.  For example, children, especially young children.  

Here is the other thing that I have a hard time understanding.  The idea that if you do everything, you will not get it.  There is very little to no evidence to suggest that if we do everything the so-called “experts” say we should do, then we will not get it.  That just isn’t true.  So, the entire premise that just because someone got it means that somewhere along the line, one or many people just weren’t following the guidelines is flawed logic.  This idea leads to people thinking that if they got it then there must be something or someone to blame – ie. the President.  Now we’re coming back to emotional blame.  This logic is a setup for emotional blame.  Even contact tracing is not science.  We don’t get to zoom in on these micro particles and we cannot know for sure who is doing what.  We’re still learning.  In 6 months, we will say things that contradict what we’ve been saying today.  That is science.  Science knows that it is changing.  Science isn’t certainty.  It is the ever-seeking of truth through scientific means.  However, true science rarely claims that it knows the truth about something.  

We have science on the ballot?90https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/2020/08/20/democratic-national-convention-live-updates/ What a play of words off the smugness. Just because Trump himself has a hard time quoting and citing what you’d consider credible scientists, doesn’t mean there are none advising him. And it certainly doesn’t mean there are no scientists on the right. It’s all about bias. The left chooses scientists that fit their narrative, just as the right does theirs. You think the “Holy Book of Science” has all the answers? Red wine is healthy, oh wait, no its not, but it is, but not?  It’s91https://time.com/5552041/does-red-wine-help-you-live-longer/ Clear92https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-red-wine-good-actually-for-your-heart-2018021913285 as93https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190729094553.htm MUD94https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/red-wine/art-20048281.

Red wine is something that we’ve studied for DECADES, if not centuries. COVID is a year old and we obviously would know all there is to know, because masks are harmful (WHO), oh, I mean, not useful or practical (FAUCI), well they could be used if just cloth (CDC), but wait, now EVERYONE needs them, even if they’re just cloth. Cause its on surfaces (WHO), but really airborne spitula, oh wait, micro particles. And COVID will go away in the summer, right? Yeah, SCIENCE is on the ballot. Oh goodie. That will solve all our issues. Yeah, and Trump denied it, because China told him about it (not a SCIENTIST). So he waited for his own US experts to chime in before creating panic, but he was supposed to panic the whole US because (trustworthy) Xi told him, when we had ZERO cases in the US, and he was criticized for closing the border at the time.

Get the idea?

I’m not going to go point by point for all the stuff he’s blamed for here, but for many of what you may perceive to be his greatest faults, there is an alternative way of looking at it.  Do your own research.  Get the full transcript.  Get the full context.  Do not buy what the media is selling.  If you’ve made it this far into my writings and you don’t think I’ve built the case against the media well enough, then there isn’t much more I can do for you.  How did you even get here?  This is a basis for the idea that not all things can be dumped on Trump, especially when you consider that no President has been treated more unfairly by the media, at least in the last 30 years95https://www.npr.org/2017/10/02/555092743/study-news-coverage-of-trump-more-negative-than-for-other-presidents

As far as blame for Trump in the first place, have a look at this video96https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3iKj28KqNg, which was made right after the 2016 election.  Warning, bad language ahead.  I would categorize this video as satire, but there are a number of very good points in it that point out how we, the media, the democratic party, the republican party are all “to blame” for Trump even being where he is.  It is the sad truth. 

Federal Judges and The Supreme Court

This topic is not just about the Supreme Court, but that will be covered as well.  “Trump has appointed second-most federal judges through September 1 of a president’s fourth year97https://news.ballotpedia.org/2020/09/02/trump-has-appointed-second-most-federal-judges-through-september-1-of-a-presidents-fourth-year/.”  And since then, he has added more98https://www.acslaw.org/judicial-nominations/on-the-bench/.  Here is a pretty good summary of his work done appointing judges99https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2020/01/28/judicial-appointments-in-trumps-first-three-years-myths-and-realities/.  Based on the evidence100https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/07/15/how-trump-compares-with-other-recent-presidents-in-appointing-federal-judges/, there is a lot of truth to Trump’s boastings about appointing judges. 

Who cares?  There are a couple of reasons to point this out.  First of all, there is this narrative that Trump is lazy and is a “golfing president” because he criticized Obama, yet plays more golf than Obama did101https://www.politifact.com/article/2017/aug/01/who-plays-more-golf-donald-trump-or-barack-obama/.  Him doing as much as non-golfing presidents would put this narrative into question.  Interestingly, there are sites102https://trumpgolfcount.com/ that track his golfing103https://presidentialgolftracker.com/.  Again, people who knew something of Trump before his presidency knew that he golfed a lot (as he owns 17 golf courses104https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump_and_golf).  He also claims to do work on the course.  This is also the guy who has claimed for years105https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us-canada-35819218 that he only sleeps 4 to 5 hours a night106https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/318428-trump-says-he-sleeps-4-5-hours-a-night.  His supporters believe this makes him a very hard worker and very efficient.  The sleep thing can only confirm, if true, that even if he golfs a lot, there is still a lot of time to get things done. 

Appointing judges, while also dealing with other duties, can also be seen as getting things done.  Obama left 105 court vacancies for Trump to fill107https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/oct/02/donald-trump/fact-check-why-barack-obama-failed-fill-over-100-j/, even though Trump claimed 128.  Whether or not you believe a guy who knew nothing about politics could be an effective president (the story is Trump’s team was completely unprepared to transition108https://www.newsweek.com/unprepared-president-chaos-trumps-transition-team-revealed-michael-lewis-1141493), you have to respect a guy who is keeping up with true politicians with experience, or at least give a little bit of a nod.  In the very least, if he couldn’t be bothered and would rather play golf, I don’t think he would be doing as much as the other presidents on the list.  

Secondly, judges are extremely important to our country, not just in the Supreme Court.  Why are judges so important?  Jessica Levinson, professor at Loyola Law School said109https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/trump-s-quiet-reshaping-judiciary-could-be-his-most-lasting-ncna826261?icid=related “This could be the biggest change to the federal judiciary in almost 40 years” in regards to Trump’s appointment of judges.  She continued, “Along with the record number of judicial vacancies that Trump has to fill, enlarging the judiciary would help the president continue to shape the legal precedents for at least half a century.”

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) has said in 2016110https://aflcio.org/2016/8/30/why-supreme-court-nominations-are-one-most-important-issues-working-people (emphasis added):

While Supreme Court nominations may not be the most headline-grabbing stories that come out of a presidency, they probably should be. With Supreme Court justices serving for life and having significant power in interpreting laws that affect our daily lives, the importance of Court appointments cannot be overstated.

According to the AFL-CIO, the Supreme Court has a tremendous influence on workplace fairness, corporate influence on supreme court cases, voting rights, and immigration (as it pertains to the power against unions and the labor force of citizenry – ie. the people who are hurt by illegal immigration).  

The Supreme Court – a Bulwark of Freedoms

I recently described my personal dislike of single-issue voting111https://www.facebook.com/brian.blumer.9/posts/10158734539469189?comment_id=10158806049089189&reply_comment_id=10158806186774189&notif_id=1602629138132997&notif_t=feed_comment_reply&ref=notif.   One issue, alone is tough to make a case on.  I respect people who make a stance, morally or ideologically, but for me, there is always more to it.  However, the Supreme Court is not a single-issue item.  The court itself stands as a defense of our constitution.   They act as a bulwark against tyranny112https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/digital_age_reinforces_the_need_for_judiciary_to_act_as_a_bulwark_tyranny, a bulwark against state police power113https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1110654.pdf, and a bulwark against political liberties114https://www.law.georgetown.edu/georgetown-law-journal/wp-content/uploads/sites/26/2019/07/The-Great-Bulwark-of-Political-Liberties.pdf.  They will be “bulwark against every assumption of power in the Legislature or Executive; they will be naturally led to resist every encroachment upon rights expressly stipulated for in the Constitution by the declaration of rights” (reference115https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution-conan/article-3/section-2/clause-1/the-establishment-of-judicial-review).  They are a constitutional bulwark116https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-supreme-courts-chance-to-rebuild-a-constitutional-bulwark-1521397044.  It cannot be understated as to how important the Supreme court and other federal judges are to the fabric of our country.

Almost by definition, the Supreme Court is conservative (in purpose).  That doesn’t mean it cannot give a liberal or libertarian ruling.  On the contrary, that happens all the time.  But, their job is to start from the stance of what is in the constitution today.  Then they measure what the intent was, how are peoples’ rights involved and how does that measure on the scale of things.  They try NOT to interact unless they think that they are the only protection and recourse that one side has left.  They routinely opt to NOT rule on specific cases.  This, in my opinion, is a conservative-type approach (rather than ruling on everything).  This barrier or protection is also known as a bulwark (or perhaps bastion).  When searching for the words “bulwark” and “supreme court” one finds many results117https://www.google.com/search?q=supreme+court+acts+as+a+bulwark.

Not only did President Trump do this work that he was supposedly incompetent to do, he also flipped118https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/nov/19/trump-flips-11th-circuit-majority-gop-appointed-ju/ three appeals courts to Republican-appointed majorities and changed the long-understood left-leaning 9th Circuit court119https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-02-22/trump-conservative-judges-9th-circuit with 10 appointments.  This will have a long-lasting conservative impact on rulings in our country.  This doesn’t even touch the (just about to be) 3 Supreme Court justices. 

Topics that the right cares about in regards to the federal courts

Freedom of Religion (1st Amendment)

In a time when religious freedoms are under an onslaught, there is almost nothing more powerful this president could to in favor of religion in our country.  Republicans are keeping a close eye on this topic.  Here are some recent cases or rulings:

Freedom of Speech (1st Amendment)

  • On campuses all over the US, freedom of speech is under attack125https://www.governing.com/topics/education/tns-university-michigan-doj.html (also here126https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2018/06/06/free-speech-under-attack-many-campuses-opinion).  Many people have been blocked from speaking to students, by students, but also by the Universities themselves.  People like Ben Shapiro or Jordan Peterson have been canceled from speaking.  Not surprisingly, the voices being silenced are almost always on the right, almost never the left127https://scholarship.claremont.edu/cmc_theses/1827/.
  • On social media, which is protected by section 230128https://www.eff.org/issues/cda230Freedom of speech is under attack129https://www.freedomforuminstitute.org/first-amendment-center/primers/free-expression-on-social-media/.  There is a strong case to be made that social media companies, which are used by 911 operators, police departments, fire departments (public safety) and many other organizations as tools of normal communication, that this should no longer be considered protected as content owned by private companies.  It is public space, and is now how we communicate.  Just this week, 2 social media platforms came out to say they would be censoring anything regarding a single (legitimately reported) story130https://thehill.com/opinion/technology/521517-censoring-the-biden-story-how-social-media-becomes-state-media.  While is smells like a smear, there is still an open investigation on it.  It is news, period, until it isn’t.  But even that is still news.  Whether smear or not, they allow smears of Trump all the livelong day131https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/all-the-livelong-day.  It is so ironic that the left, who claims Trump is akin to totalitarianism, themselves condones this form of modern-day book burning132https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/book-burning.  Gone are the voices like John Stuart Mill133https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Mill:

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion… Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them…he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

Or:

If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

This list goes on134https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2387235-on-liberty, if you’re interested135https://www.google.com/books/edition/On_Liberty/AjpGAAAAcAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&printsec=frontcover.

Right to Bear Arms (2nd Amendment)

Regardless of what your reasons for wanting to create stricter gun laws (most are okay with better background checks, etc.), 2020 is not a great year to try and do any of it.  2020 has seen a huge spike in gun purchases136https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/07/13/three-million-more-guns-the-spring-2020-spike-in-firearm-sales/, all for defense.  Given all the unrest and fear going around, especially when there have been threats to defund the police, this is a very important issue for many on the right.  Trump supports gun rights, Biden does not137https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-19/trump-biden-gun-policy.  If you don’t live within 30 minutes of groups that look like these, then maybe you don’t think you might, one day, need something better than a baseball bat, or a handgun:

Black Militia marching toward confederate memorial in GA

Gun range militia in GA

This isn’t scare tactics, this is real life in 2020.  These pictures are from groups in my area.  Would you be scared?  I don’t scare easily.  If you live in a safe place, that is far from any of this, I’m happy for you.  Stay there and pray that it stays that way.  When this138https://thejewishvoice.com/2020/07/armed-black-militia-marches-thru-georgia-challenging-white-supremacists/, or this139https://times-herald.com/news/2017/06/under-trump-us-militias-not-ready-to-lay-down-arms,  is literally minutes from your doorstep, you might find yourself considering things you’ve never had to consider your whole life.  I know I did.  Neither group was after “me,” but do you think I was going to trust that they knew that?  I would love to go back to not owning a gun, living in safety, relying completely on police.  The self-reliant voice in my head says that is not the case in 2020 or later.  I’ve heard people warm up to gun ideas, but leave it at “a handgun is all you could ever need.”  What would you think a handgun would do against a group armed like these?  Seriously.  This is the reality that many are facing now, maybe for the first time, or maybe just finally admitting it for the first time.  The 2nd amendment seriously matters.  While the rest of society continues to play with radical ideas, citizens need to be able to protect themselves, from all threats.  A handgun alone isn’t going to cut it in every situation.

Abortion – Roe v. Wade

This isn’t just about the legalities of abortion, but changes to it.  Abortion is the leading cause of death worldwide140https://aul.org/2019/02/02/the-leading-cause-of-death-in-the-world-is-100-percent-preventable/ and also in the USA141https://www.denisonforum.org/columns/daily-article/abortion-is-the-leading-cause-of-death-in-the-us-the-persuasive-logic-and-compelling-story-of-life/That would be over 73 million abortions worldwide142https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/preventing-unsafe-abortion.  What’s that, did you not know that?  Snopes can’t even comment on it143https://www.snopes.com/news/2019/01/03/abortion-leading-cause-of-death/ because the “medical community does not confer personhood upon fetuses.”  Yeah, you read that right.  So, just so you know the numbers, worldwide, there are more abortions each year than the top 10 leading causes of death144https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death, COMBINED.  We just needed to get the context here, before we bring it back to the US and our President and judges he nominates.  The current laws allow it up into the 9th month145https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/overview-abortion-laws#, which is nowhere near what it was originally allowed for.  I’m not sure if any of you have looked at the actual numbers146https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_statistics_in_the_United_States, but in the US, we abort 2.5 times the number of people who have died this year due COVID-19 (although that’s being generous147https://wpde.com/news/nation-world/cdc-94-of-covid-19-deaths-had-underlying-medical-conditions-08-30-2020).  Yeah, except COVID will get a vaccine and will go away one day.  Not this.  Some of you may have known this before, hopefully some of you didn’t, and this is news to you too.  All I knew was that my religion is pro-life, and the US has Roe v Wade148https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v._Wade and Planned Parenthood149https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_Parenthood – which leads to apathy.  What could I do about it?  I had never really researched the numbers before.  I’m glad I did, because it makes me want to cry.  Like September-11-cry, every day, all year round (do the math, its close).

States are no longer required to report these numbers150https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/abortion-reporting-requirements.  Just think of how angry you are about 220k deaths that you see as preventable (more on that later, many of them may not have been).  Now think of 600,000 lives that were never allowed to be lived.  Let me say that again.  More than six-hundred thousand deaths, every year, for decades (sometimes 2-4 times more).  3 times the 2020 COVID numbers amount of deaths, each and every year, except when it was higher – much higher.  You think COVID was preventable, well, these were 100% preventable151https://aul.org/2019/02/02/the-leading-cause-of-death-in-the-world-is-100-percent-preventable/…  The party in power itself doesn’t seem to make a large difference152https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/sep/25/facebook-posts/graph-us-abortion-rate-during-different-presidents/.  However, the right cares (see The Complicated Importance Of Abortion to Trump Voters153https://www.npr.org/2020/09/17/913589176/the-complicated-importance-of-abortion-to-trump-voters). 

This is not about overturning Roe v Wade.  Few people actually think that can or would ever happen (and even if it did, we all know abortions would just go underground).  That’s not the point.  The point is that the direction of our country has been straying from a course.  The religious of our country no longer think abortion is able to be overturned, but they would still support someone who is against it.  Trump is, and has proven it with judges.  He has also removed funding from planned parenthood154https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/trumpometer/promise/1357/defund-planned-parenthood/, and has vowed155https://www.torchonline.com/opinion/2020/09/16/trump-vows-to-defund-planned-parenthood-if-reelected-heres-what-that-really-means/ to defund156https://www.istandwithpp.org/defund-defined it.

Conclusion – Finally!!!

There is more I could write.  A lot more (Religion (Mormon and Catholic are ones that I have a lot of content on already), specific policies, CRT, and more were heading I had started…).  I started this post a month ago (part 2).  I’m not sure I have it in me.  My son has been watching me, and earlier was asking, how long is that Dad?  I copy/pasted it into word and it was at 20 pages.  Just this part 2 is now at 30 pages.  It is highly unlikely that anyone in the world made it this far, if you did, let me know.  I’ll send you something special.  You’re either bored or insane.  It is highly unlikely that my work has done much other than ease my own conscience.  This effort has served a number of purposes (purpi?).  Let me list them:

  • Act as a defense for those who have good reasons for voting for Trump.
  • Act as a candle for those on the other side who are curious about the right.
  • Act as a defense against misinformation that Trump voters are all mis-informed, uneducated, conspiracy-believing dolts.
  • Act as possible insight into how the other side may see things on issues you care about.
  • Act as a journal for myself so when I look back in a few years and wonder what the hell was I thinking?
  • Act as a fun hobby project for my social experiment.   

In 2020, I have seen many things that made me extremely concerned with rhetoric that was being used by both sides.  Rhetoric that was driving a wedge between 2 sides that, to me, appeared much closer together than things would make it seem.  I first delved in, starting first with George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks discussions happening.  Then I went broader, until I decided to ‘out’ myself for the first time as a 2016 Trump voter.  In a sick way, this was fun, to try the logic that I had been building up for the past decade on others.  In my head, I see clear lines between logical points.  When I find gaps, I need to fill them.  The web in my brain needs cohesion.  Its hard to describe.  Hopefully I have given you something to think about.  One thing would have made it worth it.  There is one thing that I know for sure.  Social media is not the future, it is the past. 

Just me writing this blog here, with the amount of information, links and references.  It is completely impossible to do on social media.  Social media has taken the place of so much of our public interaction.  It is a highly flawed communication medium.  It will never be able to replace more pure forms of communication.  I’m not saying a blog is pure, but it is much closer to it than FB.  Since I started my social experiment (engaging with people in discussions on FB and trying to use logic to help them see other points of view), I have seen rays of hope.  I have also seen willful blindness, anger and emotion.  There is a lot of emotional blame going on; it is almost constant.  It feels good, because people think they’ve pinpointed the source of their frustrations and anger.  It is far too rare that people try to share in order to be understood (rather than use their point of view as a cudgel against some foe). 

We are at a crossroads in history.  No, this is not a Biden v Trump crossroads.  Too many do not see that it is the people who make up a country.  Whomever wins this election will not change the hearts of its people.  We’re already headed on our own path toward sadness.  Individual actions and choices can help heal us.  Go do something good outside, rather than virtue signal and re-post junk on social media.  Teach your children how to critically think.  Allow them to see both sides of arguments.  Admit to them when you share them your opinion that it is only one side of a coin.  All points of view are valid.  Valid doesn’t make them “right,” but each person has a right to that point of view.  This compassion and empathy will do the world wonders.  Good luck in your journey for light and truth.

 

The Lord's Way - WI and TX versions

From Becky on 10/11/20:

Hey Erik!
I’ve been looking back at journals and stuff a lot lately and so surprised at how the Lord has been shaping things for me. Hindsight is definitely more than 20/20. I’ve been trying to figure out some promptings and things that the Lord’s been giving me. (I WISH the temples were totally open so I could just go ponder in peace.) But I was just looking at some memories on Facebook and read a comment you made to a really long and depressed post I made after we moved here.
And I’m pretty sure that I appreciate what you wrote even more NOW than I did then. So I just wanted to say thank you! I hope things are going well for all y’all right now. How are you holding up?
And just cuz it’s sometimes so helpful to look back on journals and remember what we’ve learned from our past experiences, I’m pasting your comment to me below. Just in case you want to reflect. 😜💕

From me to her 4 years ago (2016):

Do you have a list of things that you’ve seen, done, heard, said, etc. in TX that you would have never had in CA? Whose life in TX are you supposed to touch that would not have been touched by anyone else in the world if you weren’t there? If you take it like a scavenger hunt, it makes it easier to endure.

I do know a little of what you’re going through. For me, I was lucky enough to know what a transfer was (from my mission), so moving to WI was a transfer to a new area because I knew GOD wanted me to do it. I had to drive away from my family, leaving them in UT to go to a place that I had never lived, by myself. I cried for the first few hours of the drive. It was scarier than anything I’ve ever done, and I’ve done some things… Had I not had an answer to prayer, knowing it was what I was supposed to do, there is no way. The first week I was there, I had to find a place to live, knowing my wife and kids were back home having their own struggles. I found a dude from craigs list, went and met him, and talked him into renting me his place even though I had no money (left my check book in UT). Instead of driving to the ATM to get $300 max to try to start a deposit, I offered to help him cut down a tree. Again, another thing I learned from my mission (SERVICE). The guy was 65+ standing on a branch 20 ft up and was cutting the branch he was standing on with a chainsaw. For the next few days (after work and on that weekend), I helped him there at that house and some others of his properties. Instead of him fretting if I was going to pay him, he learned that he could trust me and I was someone who could serve. I got my checkbook within a few days and he got paid. I made a friend and he helped me get a lay of the land. That was life #1 that I think I was meant to impact (the first of many more to come).

It was never easy. We were burning money pretty fast (as I flew back and forth) and the relo didn’t cover more than a couple trips. What I never lost sight of, amidst my apparent hard trials, was the fact that He wanted me here.

Fast forward 5+ months and it was finally time to just move the family out here cause I couldn’t take it any longer, and the house hadn’t sold yet. My plan for me was that the Lord was going to make the house sell miraculously fast. Didn’t happen. My plan for me was that the house was going to sell for X% higher than we bought it, cause the realtor said it would. Didn’t happen. My plan was that we’d find a perfect place to live with a short commute. Didn’t happen. We finally drove out to live in a 1000 sq ft rental that literally bled heat ($350 heat bill for 1000 sq ft during the INSANE winter – I’d kill for the great weather of TX :P). This was also the most stressful time of my life so far. I was working on a project at work to update the data center and literally take the whole company offline and bring them back up again. The 2 guys who had been there for 15 and 35 years that were running the project LEFT, and the whole thing dropped on my shoulders. I have a pretty strong will, and mind, and usually have high confidence. I literally drove home crying a number of days because I was freaking out that this WHOLE FORTUNE 500 company was literally in my hands, and here I am, a fake. I got this job as a miracle. I have no degree. What makes me qualified to do this?!?!! And there, again, was my answer. It WAS a miracle that I got this job. Which means, it was HIM again that put me here. ARGH!!! Smacked in the face with that fact again. I wanted to bemoan how hard it was, but I couldn’t. He put me here. He got my family. The stupid house sold a day or two after we moved into the rental. OKAY FINE, BE THAT WAY LORD.

44 hours of work on Christmas later and I did it. I pulled it off. I took a deep breath and couldn’t believe it. I didn’t destroy it and it was a success. I even was getting kudos and the CEO apparently knows who I am… What is going on???

Then, the next week, I got called into the Bishopric! Awwwwwwww, realllly?!!?! Fine, be that way, Lord. I asked for it. I said: “where do you want us to go?”

Fast forward again. We’ve been here 2 years (this month) as a family. We LOVE it. I never want to go back. The mid west is the place for me. Time heals all wounds and the Lord provides. Hang in there.

To Trump, or not to Trump, that is the question - part 1

BACKGROUND

“The media [is] the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” — Malcolm X

Media Bias

The basis of my current world-view started with a fascination with the news (or whether “fake news” existed). I knew that I couldn’t trust what news I saw on a daily basis from just about any source, whether TV, FB or especially print. Then I read Sharyl Attkisson’s book (about 2 years ago now) called “The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote” (found here – it’s on sale for $3, buy it , but it, buy it!!!)1https://www.amazon.com/Smear-Shady-Political-Operatives-Control-ebook/dp/B01JYX44LE/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=the+smear&qid=1600328160&sr=8-1.  This topic is foundational to how I’ve come to the conclusions I have, so that is why I’m starting here.  She covers (or uncovers) many of the techniques that were used and refined in 2016, and since then, and are still being used today.  Things like “transactional journalism,” where journalists offer positive press for scoops or better access to a candidate (furthering the journalist’s career).  She shares how Hillary made use of this LOTS of times (and has proof from leaked emails).  She describes “astroturfing,” which is a technique of throwing every possible bad label and rumor at a person, just to see what sticks.  It doesn’t have to be true.  Once it sticks, the smearing side just need to stick with it and amplify it.  It’s the media’s version of throwing spaghetti to see what sticks.  She then ends with fake news, with this quote (emphasis added):

John H. Johnson, author of Everydata: The Misinformation Hidden in the Little Data You Consume Every Day, divides fake news into five categories: 1) news that’s entirely false; 2) news that’s slanted and biased; 3) pure propaganda; 4) stories that misinterpret or misuse data; and 5) imprecise and sloppy reporting.

Under these definitions, fake news has been embedded in our culture for decades.

Attkisson, Sharyl. The Smear (pp. 252-253). Harper. Kindle Edition.

In the very least, this lets you know where my mistrust of media has been reinforced. You might also find this video interesting, named “The Myth of a Free Press: Media Bias Explained2https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-8t0EfLzQo&t=2362s” which points out that this is occurring in all the western world, not just in the USA. There is quite a bit of scholarly source material in this video too (including a book by Noam Chomsky is cited a bunch called “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media3https://www.amazon.com/Manufacturing-Consent-Political-Economy-Media/dp/0375714499/” which is now on my reading list).  Attkisson completely reinforced that feeling I had of distrust, but gave me proof and more telltale signs to look for.  She also pointed out that while the biased news media was on both sides, it was particularly more advanced on the left, which was a surprise to me.  Particularly important is the tracing of money: Clinton raised and spent more than double what Trump did on the 2016 election, and Biden is on track to out spend Clinton4https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/02/election-2020-biden-raises-a-record-shattering-364-million-in-august.html.  This is the same type of money that every used to claim that Romney must also be selling himself to get access to.

On the topic of media bias, Pew research (one of the “gold standards” of journalism, known for being center of the line) has a ton of great stuff, both current and from 2016.  They, as an organization who study the media, seem to be the closest thing there is to UNBIASED, if there really is such a thing. If you’re interested, check these out (listed chronologically):

Also, I would point out that we all must be extremely critical of our news sources. This goes back to 2008-2010-ish for me (early Obama admin). When smart phones were just starting to become a “thing” I got my first news app. The idea that technology could help me sort the news and provide me with an easy way to stay up on important events was appealing. Back then, it wasn’t too hard to find a news aggregator that did only this – just pull headlines and sort them based on popularity (ie. the idea that if lots of people were clicking it, it must be something I need to know about). I think, like most people back in the early 2000’s, we were used to using news.yahoo.com or msn news, or something like that, which was an example of this. Then they started to get lots of ads. I upgraded to an APP, which EVERYONE knew at the time, was WAY more powerful than just a website. APPS and smartphones were the future, computers were dying (DUH!!!, especially Microsoft, right? Cause Apple knows best… <- I couldn’t help myself with this little insider jab. It’s for Robert Briggs – it will make him smile). Well, guess what, apps, especially FREE ones, needed to monetize. Google already was learning that having the whole world land on their search page was immensely useful for metrics, and the data they could glean (and then SELL) was awesome. This was back when everyone knew Google’s motto was “Don’t be Evil,” btw (now think when the last time you heard them say this? You can’t because they don’t say it anymore! more on this later).

And, if you think the media has changed, or learned from their 2016 mistakes … think again: The Atlantic: The Media Learned Nothing From 201611https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/09/media-mistakes/616222/?utm_source=feed.

Big Tech

So, that’s the media, what why else should you as a technology user care? Take a look at how you’re reading this now.  Your looking at a piece of technology (possibly in your hands).  But you’re running some form of APP, whether a browser or something made for a more specific purpose.  Apps from Apple and Google get into the game of NEWS. Google takes what they did with their landing page and turned it into news.google.com. Apple had to get in on this, among many others. Facebook now too. What’s the point of all this? These tech companies realized that they needed to be the ones to control how our news came to us. They realized that not only could they make tremendous amounts of money off of us from it, but they could also start to “promote” news stories above others. They weren’t manipulating the actual news, just the order in which you saw it. Facebook has an amazing amount of analytics that they provide to paying advertisers. (side note – the LDS Church makes use of this quite a bit, for example. It allowed them to decide to advertise about our church in and around Times Square while “The Book of Mormon” was on Broadway12https://www.deseret.com/2012/9/6/20506358/lds-church-buys-ad-space-in-book-of-mormon-musical-playbill – and they ran a very successful campaign there, I might add.) Again, so what? This has allowed Facebook, Google and Apple to start to bumping up stories based on their own corporate desires, rather than what is happening.  It started as an algorithm, and especially after 2016, when Zuckerberg vowed to “fix” things13https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42569105, how do you think they fixed it?  Rather than let their algorithm work, they now manually manipulate it.

In 1996, when the CDA14https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_230 was written, the likes of Google, Facebook, Twitter, barely existed, let alone RAN our lives.  Under this act, corporations were given protections to keep them from getting prosecuted because of what is on their systems.  Now, as things have changed in tech LIGHTYEARS in the 24 years since15https://www.mymemory.co.uk/blog/how-technology-has-changed-in-the-last-20-years/, these protections are now allowing them to get away with massive amounts of censorship and manipulation.  They are private companies, which get to delete, promote or hide any information that they see fit. We’ve all agreed to their EULA’s (End-User License Agreements)16https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End-user_license_agreement, which essentially is us giving them permission to manipulate or censor the information they show us. As private companies, they can’t be sued for this17https://www.wweek.com/news/2019/08/28/why-cant-you-sue-facebook-for-hosting-lies-about-you/. It is their right. And we’ve handed them the reigns of our flow of INFORMATION AND NEWS, willingly. “Take my stupid money and give me that newest phone with those new features” (with a newer OS, newly updated EULA – giving away more of my rights). We have no guarantees from the Constitution on ANY of these platforms.

Now the gut punch: What percentage of the news you consume comes from one of these sources? If you believe, for a second, that these companies are still in the “Don’t be Evil” camp, think again. They aren’t outright evil, but don’t think that with all that power, that there isn’t also corruption, or at least dabbling in power in the name of data science18https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/10/tech-companies-data-online-transactions-friction. Their walled gardens19https://hackernoon.com/are-tech-giants-building-walled-gardens-again-rw5y31tf are their own to do, manage, censor, delete, modify as they see fit. They are the supreme leaders in their own world. Congress agreed to let them, we agreed to their EULA’s, and we PAID them for their goods and services. I’m not trying to make your skin crawl, but at this point, it should be. If you have any “spidey” sense, it should have gone off by now. This stuff is not conspiracy theory. It is verifiable stuff… But don’t take my word for it, do some20https://www.eff.org/issues/cda230#:~:text=47%20U.S.C.,of%20the%20Communication%20Decency%20Act&text=Section%20230%20says%20that%20%22No,%C2%A7%20230). reading21https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_230#Debate_on_Section_230’s_protections_for_social_media_companies_(2016%E2%80%93present) of your own22https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/05/was-the-obama-administration-too-soft-on-big-tech.html.  Does that mean that we can’t trust anything? No. We just have to be very careful about how and where we get our news. And we need NEW techniques for how we consume it. We need filters (new techniques for spotting what is not trustworthy). “Constant Vigilance.” Look for loaded language, and just skip to another source (Methods of bias and terminology23https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/methods-of-bias-and-terminology/)

Trusted Sources?

This lead me to the the problem of finding sources of information that were not “bought.” About 99% of our news from the actual NEWS MEDIA24https://ohvec.org/media-ownership/ (I’m not talking big tech any more) is “produced;” meaning they decide ahead of time what narrative they want to go with, and find a way to structure it in a way to best put that forward. Our news also CATERS25https://medium.com/lab-work/how-are-news-organizations-are-catering-to-young-adults-371fa407c72e to viewers (for money/ad revenue), rather then what the tenets of Journalism26https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journalism_ethics_and_standards used to do. Gone is Walter Cronkite, and the respected anchors we used to be able to trust27https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106770503. The people behind those that do this do not have the best motives in mind, and really just want to manipulate us. Behind it all is a single mastermind; more on him later. I have found that with enough digging, there are some independent and unbought “journalists” to be found on YouTube.  While that sounds iffy, I’ve spent a long time trying to find people worth listening to – specifically non-biased sources that are moderate. One the one hand, YouTube is “Big Tech,” on the other hand, the amount of content that we post out there is so astonishingly huge28https://www.omnicoreagency.com/youtube-statistics/, they can’t possibly police it all. This means that there is some good out there, which is not “produced.” I stopped listening to radio prattle long ago, and can’t stand hearing ads.  And in the absence of moderate voices (when they are hard to find – which they ARE), I read and watch stuff from all sides. I do this in order to form my own opinions. With this amount of content to wade through, however, you need to find ways to go through it faster. I find I can cover more topics if I speed the videos up to 1.5-2x speed (depending on how fast their normal speech is – another major plus on YouTube). Some of these sources I have found and like (so far) are Dave Rubin29https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJdKr0Bgd_5saZYqLCa9mng, Larry Elder30https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZmkvHLQu76lYbW1w9FoGzQ, Joe Rogan31https://www.youtube.com/user/PowerfulJRE, Alison Morrow32https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtz6NVOKxqeiCC_6Jpe9bhg and more (including Beck, Tucker C, A Cooper, John Oliver, Candace Owens – from all sides – to check the direction of the current, so to speak). I particularly like Dave Rubin, as he brings in folks on both sides of issues and lets them TALK. He doesn’t attack like the mainstream news media, and he lets them have their say. Joe Rogan is another who is very good at bringing in people on both sides of issues. He will debate them, but also lets them have their say. It is VERY refreshing to get info from the direct sources unedited, uncut, un-manipulated, etc.  And, sorry to disappoint many of you who were expecting my “koolaid drinking” to be coming from Breitbart, Fox, Blaze, INFOWARS or some other biased right wing sources…  If you thought that up to this point, stop and think who might have biases now?  Don’t be offended.  We ALL have bias – its part of what makes us human.

I was completely fascinated with this idea that the news was no longer pure, so I went searching for “clean” sources of information, if there is such a thing. It feels like it is almost impossible to find. Even Snopes33https://www.allsides.com/news-source/snopes and AP34https://www.allsides.com/news-source/associated-press-media-bias (both considered the gold standard) occasionally have left slants, depending on the topic, but NEVER right ones – also curious… Let’s just be clear and up front that the motivation that led me to all of this was to discern Satan’s patterns, and how do I “pick him out in a crowd,” so to speak. This is something that I am obviously still working on, but I feel I do it better than some, and certainly better than the average American who knows nothing of the ongoing spiritual war we’re all engaged in. I don’t claim to know it all, and am ALWAYS learning. So, as I say to everyone else, this will be MY take on things, which is personal to me, and biased from my eyes. I try very hard to see things from all points of view, but, well, I’m human… you get the idea. The following can be taken with a grain of salt, if you so choose. I won’t be offended if you do. My intent is to share my view; you can take from it what you can/will… This is not a debate, I’ve never viewed it as one. I don’t want to WIN, I want us ALL to be happy with our country. I will be clear, my research has led me to believe that the media slants LEFT much further than right (although there are many right biased news sources too (Fox, etc.). This immediately makes me more skeptical of the left. Do I ignore right bias?  Hardly.  Does this make ME biased, because I found bias? Probably, but it is a bit like Inception (dream within a dream within a dream). I do have my own blind spots… and am human, so yes, I am biased too.

Tuned out?

Let me insert one last point about the media’s bias. As Pew has already showed us35https://www.journalism.org/2017/10/02/covering-president-trump-in-a-polarized-media-environment/, the right is far less likely to trust the media36https://www.journalism.org/2020/01/24/u-s-media-polarization-and-the-2020-election-a-nation-divided/ when it comes to Trump. The media changing their language to include more and more “loaded” words has only done harm to the message, even if it has truth in it. The left already doesn’t like Trump, so they’ve fanned the flames of the left’s hate, stoking it hotter (leading to more divide). They cried wolf so early on that much of the right stopped listening37https://www.cjr.org/tow_center/conservatives-trust-conservative-media-heres-why.php.  Those who were in the middle were pushed away.  This has created an effect that has lead to the right tuning the media out, almost completely. Much of what Robert Briggs, Lisa Blumer Smith (and others) have shared38https://www.facebook.com/robert.briggs.16/posts/10223330073260987 has been lost in this cacophony. I’m glad someone is watching (thanks for sharing), but when someone already cut the cord or hit the mute button, how are they to stay up-to-date on what is going on?  And you can’t blame them.  They voted and now are waiting to see what happens.  Most Trump voters aren’t loud pro-Trump activists (again, the bell curve).  They let their voice be heard with their vote39https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/514664-hidden-trump-voters-could-have-big-november-impact, and then they went back to work. Content to watch and see if he would do what he promised, and allow the system to keep him in check (we’ll discuss this part later).  Whether that has happened is moot, because to the right, all they see are his successes, since the boys who cried wolf lost any other message a long time ago.  It has numbed them to any and all messages from the left.  I find myself pulled that way as well, but try to remain open. It is hard…

So, why do I say all this, and what does it have to do with this election? What I am about to tell you (if you keep reading below) is going to make you and everyone who reads it want to judge me. That’s just how this works. I want you all to know who you are judging. It’s okay, trust me, you’ll get there before the end. I am sharing enough of what makes me ME that it will be almost impossible not to see my “beams.”  I’m fine with it.  I think it helps you also see that I am being genuine.  This is not some argumentative pride cycle. I’ve learned most of what I know from Robert Briggs.  He’s a great man.  But I am me, and my responsibility is now to lookout for me and mine.  I’ve grown up and moved on, and more importantly, I’ve learned to learn, live, and love.  This makes me ME, and not him.  This also makes my point of view 100% valid.  It doesn’t mean I’m right, or wrong.  In the end, God will tell me, and I’ll beg.  However, I have lived a life that is different than any and all of yours.  My perspective is one that I love.  I love myself and my family.  I’m proud of who I have become, flaws and all.  So read my perspective and know that it is representative of more than a few who plan the heresy known as voting for Trump.

Emotion

Liberal smugness

Let start here with some things about the left that evoke emotion out of the right.  This starts with some of my observations about “smug liberals” (probably more accurately called the progressive liberals, because I have much more respect for moderate and traditional liberals, closer to the center).  I borrow the term from this article called “The smug style in American liberalism” – (GREAT READ!)40https://www.vox.com/2016/4/21/11451378/smug-american-liberalism which happens to hit the nail on the head.  These “smug liberals” view Trump voters as “stupid hicks [that] don’t know what’s good for them. They’re getting conned by right-wingers and tent revivalists until they believe all the lies that have made them so wrong. They don’t know any better. That’s why they’re voting against their own self-interest.” Having met LOTS of Trump voters, I highly disagree with this view. As with almost all things, there is a bell curve in politics41https://www.modernrepublic.org/political-bell-curve.  The outer extremes (farthest from center) are where most of the ignorance lies, on BOTH sides.  Yes, I said BOTH. And here’s another great quote from the article:

“The internet only made it worse. Today, a liberal who finds himself troubled by the currents of contemporary political life need look no further than his Facebook news-feed to find the explanation:
Study finds Daily Show viewers more informed than viewers of Fox News.
They’re beating CNN watchers too.
NPR listeners are best informed of all. He likes that.
You’re better off watching nothing than watching Fox. He likes that even more.

The good news doesn’t stop.

Liberals aren’t just better informed. They’re smarter.
They’ve got better grammar. They know more words.
Smart kids grow up to be liberals, while conservatives reason like drunks.
Liberals are better able to process new information; they’re less biased like that. They’ve got different brains. Better ones. Why? Evolution. They’ve got better brains, top-notch amygdalae, science finds.

The smug style created a feedback loop. If the trouble with conservatives was ignorance, then the liberal impulse was to correct it. When such corrections failed, disdain followed after it.”

Famous meme-ified liberal

I have watched/heard/witnessed this same disdain and undertone from the a portion ALL types of liberals, not just progressives.  Don’t tell me you never have, or you’d be blind or deaf, or too busy agreeing to pay attention.  These are bullies, and will bully in the same sentence that they call someone else one.  Not only did I see this in pre-2016, and got worse in 2016, but I have seen it just about every week since then, minus about 1 day when they were all crying and in shock or quarantining (well, most of us were, except protesters who got a pass42https://www.bnd.com/news/coronavirus/article243235151.html).  Just like you find immense satisfaction in seeing someone mic drop on me, I can’t help but want their downfall.  Call it the natural man in me, call it bias, call it saying it like it is.  Maybe its the protector in me who wants to stick up for those who I’ve seen do nothing wrong – except share an OPINION.  I’m not talking about Trump, I’m talking about those who support him, openly. 

Up until a month ago, I did silently, only letting a select few know what craziness I had done in 2016.  Don’t forget, we live in a free country, and our vote is a RIGHT.  For people to HATE others because of their vote, I cannot and will not ever stand for that. And it is clearly HATE43https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-the-left-is-consumed-with-hate-1537723198. You can see it in their eyes when they shout. This is part of why I said in a previous comment that I cannot see myself standing in a crowd with most Biden supporters and fitting in.  Yes, I would be fine with those who are moderate.  But, I’m not talking about them. I never once saw someone yell or spit at an Obama or Clinton voter (and I supported Obama in 2008), but I have the other way around. Maybe this is my version of what outsiders think when they see a Mormon drink coffee or swear or sin openly, and they think “I knew it all along, hypocrite!” while they judge the rest of the group too.  This judgement was ALREADY MADE before a word was said.  This is what I cannot stand. Maybe this is just my flaw, but it brings me no small amount of joy when I see them cry. Trump does that to them a lot, and it is gratifying. There, I said it, and I’m a horrible person.

Hypocrisy

I wrote the following on my Facebook page with the intent of opening eyes about unification and respect for one-another.  I thought it was obvious, and might be helpful to heal wounds, and allow for individual opinions to exist (’cause aren’t our votes just our opinions?!):

As we head toward the upcoming election, I have watched, read and pondered the various different candidates, policies, messages, and so on. I have decided to vote for candidate/party A. I do so with HOPE. During my study, I have come to understand what policies and agendas will be for candidate/party B. I can respect anyone who chooses to vote for candidate/party B, even though it will be against my own choice. I believe they do so for their own reasons and are in line with their own conscience and values.

I now challenge everyone to fill in your A and B and see if you can see yourself accepting the same statement without any hesitation or changes. If you are for candidate/party B and cannot respect my choice for candidate/party A, where does that leave us? Don’t extol me of the virtues of your candidate/party if you, yourself, have none. In this game, it shouldn’t matter who or what A and B are. If you cannot grant me the same courtesy and play nicely, then you’ve forgotten why our Republic was created and what our forefathers fought for. As Martin Luther King Jr. said “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Look deep within yourself and see if you really have room in your heart for understanding and empathy, rather than hate and anger. Choose to hope for the better tomorrow, no matter who wins the election. All people are have the capacity for good and will come together when their hearts are full of hope.

 

Do you know that the only people who took issue with this statement were Biden supporters?  Does that give you any pause at all?  Think about it.  Only Biden supporters are capable of knowing that their side is correct.  It is NOT an opinion to some of them.  They KNOW without any doubts that their choice is 100% correct.  There is no room for human fallibility.  There is no room for forgiveness.  Read that last part again.  Think about who else would argue this way…  I’ve mentioned him a few times.  This is very dangerous speak.  Let me share another post I just saw from a Biden supporter, just yesterday:

DEAR RED STATES; WE’RE LEAVING.

We’ve decided we’re leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we’re taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren’t aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, California, New Mexico, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast.

We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country that includes Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and Washington D.C.

We also get the vast majority of the major shipping ports. So good luck with getting goods in or out of the country affordably.

We also get Costco, Starbucks and Boeing. You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states.

We get stem cell research and the best beaches.

We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Branson, Missouri.

We get Intel, Apple and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.

We get 85 percent of America’s venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Mississippi.

We get two-thirds of the tax revenue; you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition’s, we get a bunch of happier, intact families.

Please be aware that California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we’re going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they’re apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don’t care if you don’t show pictures of their children’s caskets coming home.

With the Blue States unified, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country’s fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation’s fresh fruit, 95 percent of America’s quality wines (you can serve French wines at your state dinners) 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools — Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, the Penn, Princeton, and Yale; and Mount Holyoke, Vassar, Smith, Wellesley, Bryn Mawr, Barnard, and Radcliffe colleges; plus UCLA, UCB, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and Rand Paul.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 62 percent of you believe life is sacred unless we’re discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties. (See that part about divorces. …)

Oh, and you can have all the new COVID-19 cases since you’re too dumb and self-centered to wear masks.

Peace out.

We are the people of the
Blue States

*Cut and pasted.

What an utter load of bollocks.  There is so much wrong with this, and I trust you all to see it (and if you don’t, there is almost no chance you’ve made it this far into my post), but the point is, these are the people who DON’T want our system to work the way that it was intended.  These are the people I can’t stand with.  And this isn’t someone from the FAR left.  This level of crazy, anarchist, southern-style secession talk is coming from the middle of the left.

Righteous Anger

Fiery, but MOSTLY peaceful … right

Pelosi44https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-nancy-pelosis-righteous-rip-20200206-4dnxahzscvfqlo26y5pputb7su-story.html and AOC45https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-moral-preening-of-alexandria-ocasio-cortez/ also seem to embody this smugness, and the left loves them for it.  I have never seen people so obviously self-righteous, so clearly wrong and without true virtue. The “virtue signaling46https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRcoCw4CcGE,” telling me I must be racist because of the color of my skin (not knowing my heart!), and then there is the (each of these is a link, please click) “peaceful” protesting47https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/only-some-kinds-of-protest-are-always-mostly-peaceful/ and rioting48https://www.bostonherald.com/2020/09/02/the-left-shifts-the-blame-on-riots-in-american-cities/ , the HATE49https://www.wsj.com/articles/we-hope-they-die-11600031160 against50https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ee8iOwb_YLc our51https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OfU87lsRWM cops52https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-54137838, shaming teenagers on the news53https://thehill.com/homenews/media/433355-covington-teenager-planning-to-sue-cnn-for-at-least-250m-lawyer-says, shouting at restaurant-goers54https://www.businessinsider.com/white-protesters-confront-diners-during-black-lives-matter-protest-2020-8, clubbing random white old white people over the head55https://nypost.com/2020/06/15/man-knocks-down-elderly-woman-in-random-nyc-attack/, knocking out trump supporters56https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_3HG0zrHRg, attacks on college student who dare have a graduation photo with a gun57https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/kaitlin-bennett-ohio-university-protest-954500/, and on and on and on.

Then there is Hollywood … oh boy, Hollywood. Does it not give anyone pause to think that you’re siding with Hollywood? I’ve never wanted to be farther away from anyone with my own support than them. Practically everything they are, I try to be the opposite. If you listen to their “logic” when they try to talk about how virtuous and loving their side is? Oh it is gross and sick. They are the blind leading the blind. Who cares what Lebron thinks, or Cardi B, or <insert any sports or Hollywood star name here>?  The news media OFTEN uses the same logic, or re-uses what famous stars have said in the nightly regurgitations.  John Oliver or Trevor Noah or SNL are funny, yes, but SO far from anything that resembles truth. How could I support what they support when it is so obviously against anything I stand for?  This one should be obvious for most who read this post, so I don’t need to dig in further.

This year, I’ve watched people (not on video, in person) screaming at others because “we’re having a moment,” or cut off an employee “just a minute young man! let me finish [my tirade]” while the employee gets berated FOR TRYING TO HELP. Decency is gone. You will all argue that this is because of Trump and “Trump’s America.” As if a President could make people do something. Again, poppycock. All Trump has done is opened the doors for the baser impulses to come out. But here’s the catch, Trump didn’t OPEN the doors. They were already WIDE open. The doors are no longer even on the hinges. America is lost. Is this all on him? No. Pelosi ripping up paper58https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-nancy-pelosis-righteous-rip-20200206-4dnxahzscvfqlo26y5pputb7su-story.html? Its a war of escalation. I don’t think Trump started it, but he certainly perpetuates it. He joins in, mainly in defense, tit for tat. Is it infantile? Absolutely. I really dislike this about him. However, if you ignore him, which I studiously CAN, listen to the followers on both sides. Once these people have shown their true characters, do you think that if Trump is gone they will just fall back to a former docile state? I don’t. The mob has awoken, and is out for blood. If anything, I’ve watched the right continually turn the other cheek, and stay quiet – not provoking anyone, trying to keep things calm. Except in Portland59https://www.foxnews.com/us/portland-civil-rights-leader-protesters-not-going-anywhere, or Racine. Who can blame them when Biden, Harris, Pelosi and more are ENCOURAGING them? See this video from Larry Elder60https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nr3bLsZFX58&t=619s for a summary of what the Democratic party’s main message is on this topic.

This has lead many to feel a sense of distaste for the entire message of the left, including me, most of the time.  Sound familiar?  Many of you have done THE EXACT SAME THING on the left side, to the right.  Some or many things you can’t or won’t stand for have caused you to draw the line.  How can it be that we don’t allow people to think their own way, and that is okay?  If I can allow you to do that, using emotion as your motive, why is the right not allowed to do the same?

Left Drift

Every heard of #WalkAway61https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WalkAway_campaign (or seen the news try to debunk it – the debunking is fake news, btw)?  Moderate or classical liberals are feeling left behind by their own party62https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo380pcCdGEOthers’ voices within the party are being silenced63https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQLtSnxaFfc because they already had their time, and now “just need to shut up.”  The identity crisis that is happening on the right, is currently also happening on the left.  It’s NOT just one side that is fracturing.  America is fracturing.  Not because of a leader or ideas, but because Americans lack traditional values.  As Americans lose religion, they lose their compass (See here64https://news.gallup.com/opinion/polling-matters/183518/five-things-learned-americans-moral-values.aspx, here65https://www.wsj.com/articles/americans-have-shifted-dramatically-on-what-values-matter-most-11566738001, and here66https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/our-emotional-footprint/201706/where-have-all-our-values-gone if you hadn’t already noticed).

How about #Blexit67https://blexitfoundation.org/?  This is a group that was formed to promot the idea that Blacks can be conservatives and leave the Democratic party.  The idea that Black Americans are actually being manipulated by the left, who expects them to vote all together, “or [they] ain’t black68https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzxpjIGOp_w.”  This is all done under the guise that the Democratic party is the ONLY party that will help them and stand for them.  Then, there is trying to think for yourself, being frowned upon.  Take a look at this documentary that just came out called Uncle Tom69https://www.uncletom.com/.  It is so ironic or fitting (depending on your view) that black conservatives are called “Uncle Tom’s” as an insult, even though the character was actually one of the heroes of the book…

So, if you’re new to the Left, or just there for a temporary stop in 2020, waiting for the next post-Trump train to bring you back to the green pastures of the conservative right, you may not have known this was standing behind you (on the left). I hope you now may understand why there are MANY people (Conservatives, Republicans, #WalkAway folks) in the moderate space who just cannot see themselves voting Democrat this election. As you will point out, this is one small aspect. You’d be right, and I’m just getting started.

Done? Nope.  I’m just busy working on other things.

There is more to come in a future post

Ding DIng GIF - CarlWeathers DingDing ApolloCreed GIFs

The following headings are in the works:

POLICY

China

Manufacturing

REASON

COVID response

RELIGION

Emmett @ 9 months, my take

Annelise is always good to keep up with milestones, doing them for each of the boys.  Last week she finished her 9 month update for Emmett, but there were a few things I wanted to add from my side:

  • In the entire 9 months, he never once let me put him down to sleep.  This is out of many attempts (probably well over 40).  He has been our worst sleeper at this age, by far.  I could always get him to fall asleep in my arms (each of those 40+ attempts) when Annelise either couldn't or was too exhausted to wait him out, but I could not lay him down.  I even would watch her do it to see if I was doing something different.  Without fail, he would wake up again.  The good news, however, was that she could then get him to go to sleep after my failed attempt.  The good news:  He has finally let me 3 times in the past 2 weeks (one just a couple mins ago).
  • He is our "fattest" baby, by far, and at 9 months, is heavier than they both were at probably 15 months.  While Sam and Owen were both in the zero percentile (off the bottom of the chart), Emmett stayed in the 50's, even after a tough winter of colds.  We both would have assumed, had we been told that this one would be in the 50's, that it would have been easier (and therefore less stressful).  Looking back, it was just as stressful, just in different ways.  Where he made up in eating, he lacked in sleeping, or in "neurological development" (since the doc said he was slightly neurologically delayed, or whatever his term was).  
  • He is way behind the older two when it came to crawling, cruising, etc., but is making up ground quickly in the last month.  Sam was walking at this point, and Owen was cruising.  Emmett just learned to crawl last week.  He is, however, already pulling himself up on both knees within his first week of crawling, which is much faster than his brothers.  No ear infections or colds probably is helping him catch up.
  • He seems to be the giggliest.  Both the others had their own things, and maybe its because its hard for me to remember them at his age (since they both cry so much now).  Today in chuch, he just sat there leaning back until he was upside-down, then sitting up and smiling at everyone.  The other two were certainly happy, but not as their core/default.  Emmett will just look at you and smile, which will melt your face.
  • He will actually sit still, if rarely.  Owen and Sam NEVER ever sat still, once.  Sam didn't even do it at 0 days old.  I have video of him watch me the night he was born.  Emmett actually will sometimes let us have him sit in the car seat for a while, even when he is awake.  It is rare, but does happen.  Neither of those two would ever fall asleep in our arms at church, and never in the car seat at church.  Emmett will do both (still rare).  He still is not even close to what we see in other children in the neighborhood (who can seemingly sleep through all of church).  
  • Naps are about like nights.  He will nap, but it has only rarely toped an hour, and is never consistent.  At 9 months, he still has only slept through the night about 10 times, or less.  He wakes up at midnight almost every night.  Some nights he still wakes up 2-3 times.  

Still a joy to have such a fun trial.  If only they could all be that way.

Sam's First Goal - The Making Of

This is a compilation of all the effort it has taken Sam to score his first goal in soccer this year. It was his first ever season, and they are small, 4 on 4 games. He had lots of near misses, and breakaways.

Cast: Erik Briggs

Tags: Soccer and kids

Introducing the backyard game of "Frisbee, Shield, Sword"

Similar, perhaps, to “Knifey spoony,” “Frisbee, Shield, Sword” is a game for all ages, depending on levels of bravery. This game can be played by as little as two, and scale up massively, given the right circumstances. There are no points involved, just fighting to the death (that’s all!).

Although it should be self-explanatory from the name, make sure you have an ample supply of shields, swords and frisbees. You will see why.

Also, armor can be added, depending on the “enthusiasm” used by the players.

Cast: Erik Briggs

Tags: Backyard fun, games, swords, shields and frisbees

Sam's First Soccer Game

This was just yesterday (Aug. 23, 2011). It was Sam's first soccer game. We learned some important lessons and had a lot of fun. It was great that Grandma was in town to see it too. Now she has seen Father and Son play soccer in Utah.

Cast: Erik Briggs

Tags: children, kids, soccer and sports

Sam’s Bike Riding – update

So, the last I knew was his first ride video. I came home a couple of days later and Annelise told me he wanted to show me something. I went outside and turned on the video. I hope you don’t get motion sick, because if you do, this video is going to make you hurl. Aside from that, it shows a boy’s first real bike ride, all by himself (with the obligatory crashes).

Cast: Erik Briggs

Tags: Bike and child

Sam and Owen dancing, Shawn the Sheep style

They were watching the end of a Shawn the Sheep episode, when this dance came on. They both did it once, so I rewound with again and pulled out my phone to get this video. We’re not sure where he got these moves from. The last move is the best.

Cast: Erik Briggs

Tags: children and dancing

Emmett’s First Bath

Here he is just 5 days old.

Cast: Erik Briggs

Tags: Bath, Baby and Infant