Military Life Story, or What White Privilege, Pt 1

In February of 2009, I was informed I would be sent to Iraq for a year, starting mid-July of the same year.  That gave me some time to prepare, including curtailing my children’s summer visitation and arranging permission for my wife to return to China. Her English wasn’t developed well enough at that time for her to remain in the US for an entire year alone.

That meant putting all our household goods in storage.  I contacted the proper military office 30 days prior to the date we needed to get everything packed up.  It was originally scheduled for 7 and 8 July.  I would then take my wife and kids to the airport on the 9th, then fly out myself on the 10th.

Note that I say “originally scheduled”.  That means there was a change, right?  Right. But not by me.

I was working a little bit late on Thursday, 2 July, to finish things up before departure. See, in the military, we often get a 4-day weekend for Independence Day. Since the 4th of July fell on Saturday that year, that meant pretty much the entire Air Force base had Friday and Monday off.  And most functions were shut down early so people could leave around noon-ish on Thursday.

So at 4pm I get a call from the office in charge of household goods moving and storage. The company they had contracted to pack my household goods and move them into storage had received an offer for a job that paid more, and exercised their clause to cancel my appointment.

I had a choice: I could reschedule for the following week, or I could do it myself.

Rescheduling for the following week was a non-starter.  My wife and I would both be gone. We would have to trust a co-worker to watch over the movers.  We hadn’t had horrible experiences with movers to that point, but even when people are watching over their own items being packed up, there are always items lost/stolen, damaged, or packaged inappropriately.

“Packed inappropriately” includes things packing up garbage and letting it rot in a box with household goods. In our case, my wife was still upset that the movers from the previous had packaged bathroom/toilet and cleaning supplies in the same box as kitchen utensils and plates.  So she didn’t trust the ability of disinterested co-workers to keep a close eye on how the hypothetical next round of packers put things away.

That left doing it ourselves.  My second step was to arrange to rent a truck for the 7th and 8th, and purchasing a metric butt-load of packing supplies, to begin packing up the whole house ourselves on the evening of the 2nd.

That’s the sort of thing you want as many people to come help as possible. So after making the decision, my first step was to immediately began calling all my co-workers…

…it was 5:30pm on the last workday of the week before the Independence Day holiday, and those of you paying attention already know what happened: I got no answer.  From anyone.

Oh, my supervisor was still in, and the Squadron Commander. People in charge work late.  So I explained the situation to both of them. The Commander said the situation was unacceptable.  From my perspective, it was pretty much accepted without a peep. There was nothing she could do to change it.  My supervisor said he’d help, but could only help for about an hour, and he’d see if he could get others to help out.

All I got was my supervisor’s help, for about an hour on Tuesday (loading everything on the truck), and another co-worker’s help for about an hour on Wednesday (unloading everything off the truck and into the storage unit).

So from Thursday night through Tuesday morning, we did nothing but organize stuff and box it up.

Tuesday I started loading, while my wife continued to pack the remaining household items. My supervisor showed up at a good time to help me load a couch, the washer and dryer, and an old-style arcade-style video-game console.  As it got dark, I was still loading stuff up.

Slept.

The next morning, we took it to get weighed and commenced to unloading.  The one co-worker who managed to get some time off from regular duties showed up to help me unload the couch, w/d, and game console.

One event of note: one of the last items loaded onto the truck (it all just *barely* fit) was a reel push-mower.  I had taken off the handle, and just put the body on top of one of the boxes near the top.  I didn’t make allowances for everything shifting as we drove the truck over. So when I opened the back door…

…a box began to fall down.  I stepped up, raised my left hand, and caught it with my flat, upraised palm.  Then I was starting to lower it, I saw the reel mower roll and fall out.

I don’t know how I did it, but I reached out and caught it, as it was falling.

This is what it looked like:

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See that bar there across the front?  That’s what I grabbed. Not, I repeat not, by any of the blades.

That is probably the single-most bad-ass thing I’ve ever done. I felt like Superman.

Anyway, we got it all in storage.  That night, around 10pm, when we were all done, we went to eat at McDs, about the only thing open.  We ordered our food. I was exhausted. I hate a hamburger, then felt nauseous, and didn’t *quite* manage to make it to the toilet before vomiting.

That is the only time in my entire life I vomited from exhaustion.

Also, the tally for weight?  7,700 pounds.  I think it might be fair to say the items I got help with totaled no more than 1400 pounds, so my part would still be at least half of those items.  The rest: all me.

That means that in about a 36 hour-period, I personally lifted, carried, set down, and arranged 14,000 pounds, or 7 tons.  Personally. Myself. With no help.

And I didn’t even hurt my back.

In this, it is quite possible we made some bad choices.  We certainly had choices.  We could have decided that with my unit’s help, my wife could stay in the US by herself.  We could have decided to pack up our stuff a week earlier, and it probably wouldn’t have been cancelled. We could have decided to trust someone to oversee the packing, and just dealt with whatever losses and problems occurred.

But we made the choices we made, and we dealt with the consequences. I didn’t waste energy trying to find evidence of discrimination. I didn’t wallow in self pity. I didn’t waste any time blaming anyone else or trying to avoid the fate.

I just did it.  With hard work, stubborn effort, and persistent consideration of a problem and how I could solve it.

White/Male privilege?  Where?

 

MUST READ SFF: The Monster Men, by Edgar Rice Burroughs

  • by Gitabushi

I have embarked on an exploration of old Pulp, with designs of writing some pulp stories myself. Where better to start than with Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs?

Having recently finished ERB’s “A Princess of Mars”, and the library term having run out on “The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian” by REH, I decided I should read some more Burroughs.  However, I didn’t want to limit myself to Barsoom stories at this time, so I picked up The Monster Men.

monster men

The Monster Men is an intriguing mix of different ideas: the hubris of science, the nature of souls, love and loyalty.  At times, it seems as if ERB was writing in response to Shelley’s “Frankenstein”; at other times, I wondered if he was trying to establish his protagonist as a Christ figure.

In the end, it is none of those, although those elements certainly do play a role.

Lately, I’ve been consumed with the notion of Willing Suspension of Disbelief: it is a prerequisite to enjoying a story. For instance, I can’t get into Star Trek because my expectations for The Next Generation were so high that when they lost me, they ruined my ability to accept any premise from that universe. Likewise, I enjoyed “Orcs!” because the verisimilitude of the GS rank battle, combined with what struck me as a precisely-correct shift of tone from farce to seriousness, convinced me to buy into the premise.

But I hadn’t seen The Two Towers film. As such, when the scenes that parodied that movie played, I wasn’t jarred from the story as anyone who had seen that other film would be.

I could delve into this more deeply with other examples, but the point is: obtaining and maintaining Willing Suspension of Disbelief isn’t something the writer should take for granted.

I very nearly choked on the premise of this story: that man could create life from scratch. Modern Science has only recently mapped the human genome; I don’t care what texts Professor Maxon had available to him, there was no way he was growing humans from scratch.  But I finally decided to swallow the premise (key word: “Willing”) and take the premise at face value.

Before I had completely accepted the premise, however, the book started getting really good.  This occurred at approximately 20% of the way in  (according to my Kindle; page numbers are meaningless when you are reading Kindle e-Book publications). At that point, multiple actors began to reveal their competing goals and techniques for reaching those goals.  What was a relatively simple story suddenly became extremely complex.

From that point on, I had to finish the book to see what would happen. My Disbelief was fully Suspended. There were points were the pacing slowed, but I was already committed to the story and to reading the fates of the various characters.

And I wasn’t disappointed.  Burroughs ends this story extremely well, with a somewhat surprise ending that, at the risk of ruining it for you, he actually fully telegraphed earlier in the book.  Fortunately, he did it in a way you will either not notice, or forget in the ensuing pages of action.  Masterfully done, in fact.

Moreover, Burroughs drops some challenging ideas into the story, particularly regarding the nature of humanity, souls, and morality.  When I say “challenging”, I don’t mean the ideas are complex, novel, or controversial.  I just mean that he raises questions and has the characters consider them; this process compels the reader to actually consider these issues in the hypothetical context. Perhaps the reader is already clear what they think, perhaps it is an entirely new idea; either way, I have to believe the reader is forced to think on the concept.

The novel doesn’t really get preachy, however.  It isn’t a Message story, although it has some Messages in it.  This is how I like my books: don’t beat me over the head with what you think is the Right Way to Think About a Moral Issue.  Just raise the issue and then show me the consequences of people’s decisions and actions.  Make your case.

ERB did, and did it well.  12 hours later, I’m still thinking, “Huh. What if this other character had followed through with that action? It would have been horrible!” To me, thinking about the ramifications of different characters doing different things is the sign of a good story: it means I’ve begun to think about the characters as people, with agency and options. It means I found their decisions and actions to be realistic.

There is some stereotyping that most Social Justice Warriors would probably now denounce as racism.  I wouldn’t, because they are stereotypes that serve the story. Burroughs needed people to act a certain way, and the setting made the racial choices obvious. But I don’t think he reduced the humanity and agency of anyone, and the choices they made were based on realistic cultural influences. Giving a Chinese character a “Your Raundly is Leddy” accent throughout the whole damn book is annoying, but the character itself is treated with the utmost respect.  I see nothing racist about this book at all, although there are indubitably racial elements.  Noticing race isn’t racist in and of itself. This more firmly establishes in my mind the opinion that charges of racism leveled at ERB are undeserved.  My mind can still be changed, but that window is closing.

However, the novel had some other problems.  Mechanically, his writing is sometimes poor: there are run-on sentences, confusing clauses, loss of clarity in who is speaking or acting.

One of the more interesting weaknesses, however, is ERB’s Show-Don’t-Tell problems.  He “tells” way too often.  This would be a much better novel if he showed the reader what he wanted to tell us.  Motivations should be revealed more in dialogue and descriptions of actions, rather than just telling us what someone wanted or meant by their words.  And yet, taking it to another level, his telling the reader about motivations and actions served as showing a deeper level of moral character and integrity of the characters in the story. So I can’t give him a failing grade in that area the way I do mechanics.

Finally, in this book, ERB’s descriptions are rather muted and plain, much like they are in “A Princess of Mars”.  I find myself comparing him to REH with ERB coming out the loser, badly. But to be fair, REH is a master at vivid description, at making you feel you are actually present in a 3D world, so anyone would pale in comparison.  ERB’s descriptions were adequate, so he barely passes here, too.

From now on, I’ll be including a chart that captures my rating of the story based on several aspects.  Here is the chart for ERB’s “The Monster Men”:

Monster Men Radar

The book is public domain and can be downloaded from various online locations. I recommend you do so.  This is a book worth reading!

MUST READ SFF: “A Princess of Mars”

  • by Gitabushi

I just finished re-reading “A Princess of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

tars and john

I read it the first time in my teens, and liked it okay.  I think I read some of the sequels but got bored with it.  But I can’t remember. And that should tell you something.

I re-read “A Princess of Mars” when the movie “John Carter” came out.  I was disappointed then, because I was reading it with a reading standard of Lois McMasters-Bujold, Steven Brust, CJ Cherryh, Lee Child, Robert Heinlein, Niven/Pournelle, and many other more modern writers.  And to be blunt, it doesn’t measure up to the more advanced versions of SFF in terms of plot, characterization, science, etc.

A few years later, I encountered various members and fans of the Pulp Revolution. As part of my attempt to understand both Pulp and the reason for its resurgence, I expressed my unpopular opinion, and was chastised for it.

However, the standards you bring with you do have a huge impact on whether you can enjoy something, whether you can suspend your disbelief or not.  If you judge an off-road vehicle by the standards of a sports sedan, the off-road vehicle will be horrible.  But the opposite is true, too.

So I decided to re-read it, with a new viewpoint in mind. I decided to re-read it with a viewpoint informed by what Pulp is, and its place in history.  I also wanted to analyze the elements and fully grasp the universe because I have plans for a story (or even a series) in the same universe.

Armed with my new viewpoint, I started re-reading.  It wasn’t a difficult read.  Looking at it as heroic planetary romance, written for people who want to read about a heroic bad-ass, it was enjoyable.

That doesn’t mean it was without flaws.

There are too many times that things work out for John Carter just because ERB wanted them to.  Some of the plot developments are rather contrived.  That John Carter had to wait until almost literally the last minute before he realized he had the key to save the planet was a pretty ham-handed method of adding dramatic tension.  The revelation of what scared off the Apaches from the cave at the beginning of the book was really lame.  The payoff wasn’t worth the build-up at all.

Those who say “A Princess of Mars” is decent SFF because ERB used the science of the times (incorporating canals and a grasp of gravity disparities) are wrong.  Sure, those elements comport with the known science of the time, but the introduction of the Barsoomian discovery of the 8th and 9th rays…sheesh. It doesn’t even work well as magic, much less science.  And the idea that John Carter could successfully mate with a being that lays eggs, and whose very internal organs are different, defies even the most generous of disbelief suspensions.

But for all that, there are some very good elements to the book, as well. ERB sets up some dramatic moments very well, and often resolves them in a way readers don’t feel cheated. We get a good sense of John Carter’s character, and commitment to doing what’s right.

As a discussion of Race vs Culture, however, this book really shines.  Originally, when I didn’t think as much about messages in stories, in my memory of previous readings, I just thought of the Tharks (green men) as possibly standing in for earthly blacks, because, hey: black vs white is the primary racial issue in the United States, and has been since before its creation.  But upon re-reading, it struck me that the Tharks are supposed to represent Native Americans, and the Red race is supposed to represent whites.  I wouldn’t be surprised if ERB deliberately chose to make whites “Redskins” and Native Americans an entirely different color to try to highlight that skin color doesn’t matter one bit, that it is culture that makes the real difference.

tars-tarkas

And he showed that.  It might be contrived that it took John Carter to re-awaken normal human emotions and compassion in the Tharks (sort of…it was Sola’s mother and Tars Tarkas that apparently ignited the spark…it just took John Carter to coax it into a full flame), but the point fits with what I believe about people: most of the differences we see between races in the modern US is due to culture that largely (but imperfectly) corresponds to race.  You can change the character of a race without changing skin color by making decisions to change individual behavior that then changes direction of the culture.

And I think his message is underscored by the fact that the worst people in the story are of the exact same race as the best people.  If all it took to be honorable and good were to be of the Red Skin race, then the Zodangas wouldn’t be such horrible people. But they are.

I think it is good writing, and ERB is a good writer, but I do think the standards of writing, as a performance skill, have improved immensely since ERB’s time.  I think if “A Princess of Mars” were written today, or if ERB had been born 100 years later and then wrote the stories, it would be essentially the same story, but with better pacing, fewer deus ex machina elements, better scientastic explanations for anti-gravity, atmosphere generation, and similarity of appearance between Red Barsoomians and Earthlings, etc.  It would be the same story, but better.

Still, it is what it is: a landmark work in the history of science fiction.  You have to be in the right mindset to read it, however. You have to judge it by its own standards to fully appreciate and enjoy it.  Maybe the Pulp Revivalists do it more naturally.  Or maybe most readers, whether into pulp or not, are able to suspend disbelief more easily than I can.  I don’t know.  I do know that I enjoyed it much more after changing my perspective.

So…final analysis: Good book, good story. I will keep reading in the series.

 

Edited to add: related.

Democratization of Choice? Can’t Think of a Catchy Title

– By Gitabushi

We are in a very weird time, politically speaking.

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Leftist Spokesmodel is Not Amused by my Unwillingness to Pay for her Birth Control

The Left is moving farther and farther Left. They seem to feel encouraged by their victories in matters like Same Sex Marriage, Govt-funded health care and successful use of the Overton Window to protect their preferred politicians.

At the same time, the Right has had a series of victories that, in the United States at least, leaves conservatives with control of the Supreme Court, the Presidency both halves of Congress, 33 Governorships, and a majority of the state legislatures.  I’ve seen it said that Democrats lost more than 1000 seats during Obama’s terms, if you include state positions.

From another perspective, however, Democrats have won more overall votes than Republicans in the US, it just hasn’t translated into victories because of the way their votes are concentrated in urban areas.

There have been conservative victories in individual gun rights, conservative victories in religious liberty; we’re making some progress in dismantling the Democrat money machine, appear to be ramping up to defund Planned Parenthood (striking a blow for human rights of the most vulnerable), and widespread vote fraud is finally getting attention. (There was no proof of vote fraud previously because Democrat officials had successfully prevented us from looking).

Simultaneously, there is a great realignment, as Democrats doubled down on identity politics, driving moderates into voting GOP, no matter how reluctantly.

The thing is, there’s something else at work here.

Information explosion.

Amazon could not have been successful 30 years ago.  It was impossible to gather the information and present it in a way that people could make informed choices.

Just as the internet and computing power have gathered information and enabled algorithms to help people make better choices in their purchases, these same elements will also enable individuals to make better choices in the government they want.

This, more than anything, will destroy all the Leftist politics that rise from Marxism.

Marxism and its descendants, like Communism, socialism, Progressivism, Feminism, etc., are all predicated on one-size-fits-all governing, with choices given to you by an all-powerful, all-knowing government.  But these isms always fail, too, because a central government can’t do as well as individuals making choices that work bets for them.

However, many aspects of life were easier to implement via government.  I’m sure there are many examples, but right now I’m thinking specifically of education.

With credentialing, standards, infrastructure, payroll, etc., it was just easier to let govt handle education, providing school systems that served local geographic areas.  Economy of scale made it work poorly, but still work.

Vouchers have the potential to cause an education revolution, however.

But linking education dollars to the student rather than to their local school, it opens up the possibility of all sorts of schools opening up in competition to the govt school. It was never cost effective to have more than one school in a small town of 2500 people with, say, 240 in the high school.

With vouchers, though, it becomes cost-effective to have 12 schools of 20 students each, all competing to be the best school so that parents will want their students to attend. Of course, it wouldn’t break down that way.  The most popular school would probably grow (why not capture more of the voucher money?), while less popular schools would probably specialize to try to retain what they could of the voucher income.  So maybe one 100-student school for average students, a military school for discipline problems, a 40-student college prep school offering only AP courses and requiring a test to get in, and two or three Vo-Tech schools focusing on different practical skills for those who least suited for college.

It would have been impossible to organize, staff, and fund this much diversity in a small town before, dealing with all the accreditation and public school dollars.  But the internet and computing power will allow us to Amazonize education, letting parents (or the students themselves) choose the best way to spend their education voucher dollars.

Sure, there will be mistakes, and failures, and bad choices.  Some kids will be worse off in this sort of system. But despite our best efforts and high ideals, students are already being failed and left behind by our current education system. Throwing more money at the current system hasn’t helped…it just sucks up money to no effect. The biggest advantage of the Voucher system will be the innate incentive for schools to fix problems and minimize damage to the students.

Vouchers provide economic incentive and economic freedom to experiment and innovate.

And this will happen in other areas, too. Expect the information revolution to come to Health Care soon. And energy consumption.  Why can’t we have a nationwide grid that allows me to buy energy from Wyoming if they can provide it to me cheaper?  Sure, the power plant in Wyoming can’t push the electrons that far, but energy is somewhat fungible….we should be able to make power companies source-agnostic, and buying electricity should eventually be as competitive as your cellphone service.

The Left is going to collapse. It’s going to be interesting to see what takes its place for the people that *want* to give up their liberty in exchange for security and/or preferential treatment.

Must-Watch SFF: Orcs!

  • by Gitabushi

Orcs-2011

With my daughter home for the summer, I end up actually watching visual entertainment.  We browse Amazon Prime for movies that include topics I can use to highlight conservative principles and the values I want them to learn.

But we also encounter movies and television shows I’ve never heard of.

This one just looked stupid.  I had to watch the trailer to see just how stupid it was.

Surprise! It wasn’t stupid.

It was actually a very enjoyable movie, with a solid premise, good writing and decent acting.

It’s always hard for me to do a review without giving away spoilers, so I tend to focus on descriptions of what the author (or movie, in this case) does well, what it doesn’t do well, and my reaction to various extremely-generally-described elements.

I’m probably going to have to do that again. But bear with me. And see the movie, if you can (free on Amazon Prime).

The premise of this movie is that orcs are real, but they’ve been bottled up (suspended animation? Dimensional portal?) in a subterranean realm since mythical times.  They nearly obtained their release decades ago, but were stopped by chance.  Recent activities have opened their path to the surface Earth again, and the orcs are now making their best attempt to destroy or subjugate the human race.

What this movie is not:

A comedy, although the trailer makes it seem like one (the canoe seen isn’t as funny in context as it is in the trailer).  But it is funny at times.

A campy movie, although it has some camp.  The movie escalates in seriousness and in the stakes as it runs, as a good story should.

A professional movie, although the special effects were better than I would have expected.  But they were clearly on a tight budget to get things done.

A goad Bad movie.  Because it simply isn’t a Bad Movie.  Okay, okay, it could be seen as a bad movie due to its production values and lack of brand-name actors.  But if you can suspend your disbelief for the cheesier aspects, honestly: the stronger elements of the movie make it a good movie.  Not a great movie, but a good one.

What this movie is:

A very well-written, decently well-directed, decently-well acted movie.  It has a decent premise, and takes the premise seriously.  The actors over-act at times to fill space.  The moments they try to conceal their limited budget are obvious (“thousands” of orcs marching by seems likely to be a half-dozen running in a circle with obvious sound effects), but done as well as you can expect.  The overall impact is better than most of the fanfic movies I’ve seen on YouTube.  It drew me in, made me care about the outcome.  The climax battle wasn’t over as quickly as you might expect, heightening the sense of dread from the orcs’ overwhelming force.  The writing, plot, and acting made me care about the actors.  The characters had depth (the GS-9 rivalry was spot on), and the main character grew/changed throughout the story in a plausible manner.

A fairly good Pulp Revolution movie.

I’ve often run to IMDB to find out what other movies a set of actors have been in. This is the first movie I’ve ever watched that made me run to Twitter immediately after to find the main actors’ twitter handles to praise them.

Watch it as soon as possible, and leave your comments.

 

How to Stop the Left from Destroying the United States

  • by Gitabushi

 

A man with a history of violence, steeped in Rachel Maddow conspiracy theories and Bernie Sanders ideology, tried to kill Republican Congressmen simply because they were Republican.  This was the latest occurrence in escalating violence and anti-democratic tactics by the Left.  The questions raised by this shooting include: Are Democrats and their allies in the news media responsible for this?  What should the Right (and Republicans) do to stop it?

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The idea that the Right is Fascist and the Left can do anything necessary pervades the Left’s worldview.  Otherwise mild people are convinced that Donald Trump is a unique menace to the United States. This worldview is summed up in the prevalence of the self-described #Resistance movement.

Doesn’t the Right embrace the idea of individual responsibility?  Is the Democrat Party’s  worldview responsible for the shooting of GOP officials? Yes and no. Directly responsible? No. Blameless? Certainly not.

Words are just words, not actions, not force. But words are also orders, and encouragements, and goading.  “I was just following orders” is not an excuse. You are responsible for what you do.  But “my hands are clean, I didn’t pull the trigger” is also not an excuse. At some point, words expressing intent should be taken seriously

I hate to go here, but I have to: Hitler didn’t personally kill 6 million Jews.

He stirred up hatred, accused them of selfishness, blamed them for all of Germany’s problems. He said it was okay to punch them. And worse.

Don’t forget, Obama used religious imagery to tell his followers they were righteous. Told them to punch “back” twice as hard. He threatened financial executives with mobs and pitchforks if they didn’t cooperate with his goals.  He praised the Occupy movement, stirred up anger and hatred in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The inevitable rise of Leftist violence should have been expected when Obama hung around with a Leftist terrorist who had gained enough status to never be held accountable for his crimes.  The Right tried to use it politically: “Obama pal’d around with terrorists”, but we didn’t draw the lines to see where it would lead.  And, of course, the Left’s control of the Overton Window was used to protect their Lightbringer: Obama having an unrepentant terrorist as a mentor was downplayed; if mentioned at all, Bill Ayers’ current status as an accepted leader for the Left was seen as a repudiation of Ayers’ past rather than the approval it was.

But even the strongest critic of Obama didn’t realize it was leading to the overt Leftist violence we see today.

We should have realized when the news media looked at polite, peaceful Tea Party gatherings and called them violent racists, that it was an indication of more than just partisan rhetorical sniping. They were building the case for violence against the Right. Distorting views of our character. De-legitimizing our concerns. Demonizing us.

Mainstream news outlets have pointed out the shooter had no ties to any violent extremist groups, as if that is exculpatory. In fact, it is damning.  This man was unremarkable in his associations, but felt justified to shoot Republicans just for being Republican.

This is just an escalation of the general attitude on the Left.  Remember, Obama ensured his IRS subordinates would face no penalty for targeting conservatives just for being conservative.  He shielded any and all his subordinates from penalties for their actions in support of the Leftist cause, to include Lois Lerner, Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton and her aides (for Benghazi, and for divulging secrets), Bradley Manning, and all his officials who broke Federal Records laws by using private email accounts to conduct business as a blatant ploy to avoid citizen oversight (again, to include Hillary Clinton).

So what do we do about this?

There seems to be two sides. 1) Use the same tactics the Left uses, against the Left. 2) Keep doing what we are doing, hold to our principles.

I find both tactics to be unsatisfying.

Two intelligent, thoughtful participants in this debate are Jim Geraghty and the anonymous Ace of Spades blogger.  I don’t have a link to the twitter debate they had, but Geraghty references it here, as well as summarizing his argument.

I can’t disagree with Geraghty for distinguishing between words & actions, but the best argument against Geraghty’s point was made by Geraghty himself mere days before he debated Ace of Spades: At what point is Islamic rhetoric criminal? Applying that to the #Resistance, at what point does the rhetoric of Democrats and their news media allies actually become responsible for the violence the Left is committing?

 

The thing is, Ace of Spades makes a compelling argument that the Right cannot simply sit endure and outlast Leftist violence and destruction of democratic values in the US.  Read this article summarizing the violence by the Left and how the Left encourages it. The rise of violence was telegraphed by Hillary’s campaign deliberately instigating violence, but we responded to it only in the political sphere, and not even much there.  And even after the shootings, some Democrats are still encouraging more violence. (all three links are to thought-provoking Ace of Spaces HQ articles)

And this list of violence by the Left against the Right truly is mindblowing, to see it all in one place.

Whatever the Right has been doing, it isn’t working.  We need to hold the Left responsible.  The simple fact, is that most political violence is perpetrated by the Left. Endemic to Marxism, encouraged by Alinskyism.  It has always been that way throughout history.

“By any means necessary” & “The ends justify the means” are ideas rejected by the Right, but embraced by the Left since the original rise of the Communist movement.

In some ways, it is a process vs outcome argument.

The Left only cares about process if it gets them what they want. The Right sticks to process even if outcome is against them.

The Left exploits this. They know they can depend on the Right to keep following the rules. Even as the Left doesn’t recognize any rules.

That’s why we have this violence. That’s why we have porn. The Left is losing power in normal processes.

This just leads us right back to the debate between Geraghty and Ace of Spades: what do we do about it?

One major proponent of following the new rules set by the Left is Kurt Schlichter, who not only predicted this escalating wave of Leftist violence, but makes strong arguments for embracing those new rules, simply because the Left wants them.  To be accurate, he isn’t just arguing for Tit-for-Tat like Ace of Spades, he’s arguing that if these are the rules the Left applies to itself, let there be no double standards.

In some ways, Schlichter’s argument fits with the Right: we follow processes, we follow the rules.  His argument is that we stop thinking the process/rules are what’s written down, and start thinking of the processes/rules as demonstrated by the Left.

All respect to Kurt Schlichter, but I’m not going to shoot Democrats. I’m also not going to call for violence on them.  It isn’t really that I don’t want to stoop to their level, or fear I lose my soul if I use their tactics to win.  I simply can’t do it.  I can’t kill, I can’t advocate violence to install my preferred political outcomes.

But continuing to follow the processes and rules, as written, while they attack and kill us? No.

My take: continue to follow the rules, because that is our most basic nature.

But change the written rules.  Strengthen and improve the processes to make them serve the democratic process, rather than help the Democrats seize and wield power un-democratically, as they do now.  We have unprecedented power at all levels: control of the Presidency, Senate, House, SCOTUS, governorships, and state legislatures.  But we are barely using this power to enact our political agenda.

We should be using this power to enhance criminal penalties on the Left’s current tactics.

Use every democratic process at hand to change rules to to allow dismissal of judges. Then fire ones who don’t rule based on Constitution.  Use democratic processes to change rules to to allow dismissal of bureaucrats more easily. Then fire the ones enacting Left agenda.

There has to be a way to criminalize the heckler’s veto without damaging free speech. One idea that occurs to me is re-writing laws (and prosecutorial discretion policy) to penalize mob actions.  Free speech is an individual right, not a collective right.  If you are in a mob, and the mob shouts down a speaker, you aren’t using speech to counter speech you don’t like, you are using the mob’s power to shut down free speech.  We can make that illegal, while still encouraging individual free speech, right?free-speech-voltaire.jpeg

We gotta do what we do: stick to the rules. But use our power to change the rules: increase transparency, liberty, and choice.

Change the rules to reduce non-accountable exercise of power. Change the rules to identify & reduce Marxist influence.

Then make them follow the rules and enforce them fairly, but fully.

Use Rule of Law to punish Leftist violence harshly. Every time.

 

 

 

 

Benghazi: Still Waiting for Justice

I wrote this on 27 November 2012.  It has some minor inaccuracies, but it was what was known at the time:

Here is what is known about the Benghazi slaughter.  There is no dispute at all on these points, they have been supported with testimony and eyewitness statements to the press:
1) There were threat streams based on actionable intelligence:
a) Ambassador Stevens knew he was on a target list
b) The head of security wanted more security, and protested when security was reduced
2) the Obama administration claimed there was no actionable intelligence
a) 9/11 is still the anniversary of a successful attack on the US that Islamic terrorist organizations are proud of and wish to emulate/perpetuate
b) President Obama did not attend Presidential Daily Brief meetings to go over intelligence and provide guidance for addressing threats
3) Requests for increased security, and requests to not reduce security were denied
a) repeated requests for increased security were rejected, culminating in someone in the chain of command saying “Stop Asking”
4) CIA agents (former SEALs) heard of the attack on the consulate
5) They were ordered to stand down
6) The CIA says orders to stand down did not come from anyone in the CIA
7) Several CIA agents did not stand down, but attempted to rescue
8) After failing to rescue, they retrieved one body, but failed to retrieve Ambassador Stevens’ body
9) In the rescue/retrieval attempt, they came under attack
10) the attack proceeded for 7 to 8 hours
11) This attack was observed/recorded by two intelligence drones using Full-Motion Video
12)  The CIA Agents under attack were in contact with others not in the same location (unknown what level they were in contact with and where: Tripoli? Italy? CIA HQ?)
13) The CIA Agents expected support. They were using laser target identifiers on targets [saw this in a report. It wasn’t supported by what was shown in 13 Hours movie, so maybe this part wasn’t correct]
14) The video of the attack was available to the President stateside
15) By law, the President is to be informed within 15 minutes of an attack on any Ambassador (among other events).  This is not a law the President can sidestep or ignore.  The President is the senior Executor of Laws, but is not above the Law himself.
16) The Intelligence Community correctly identified this as an organized attack, with no connection to a protest
17) The Obama Administration claimed the attack grew out of a protest of a YouTube video
18)  The Obama Administration told relatives of the dead CIA agents that they would “get” the person responsible for the video
19)  Relatives of the dead CIA agents have been told provable lies by the Obama Administration
20)  The Obama Administration continued to claim that the attack on the Ambassador was related to a YouTube Video. This was known to be false before the attack was concluded.  The Obama Administration has never adequately explained why they blamed the attack on the YouTube Video.
21) The Obama Administration has attempted to explain their focus on the video as based on the Intelligence known at the time.  This has been proven to be 100% false. The Intelligence Community knew the attack was an organized assault.  The intelligence drone FMV shows that there was no protest, and that it was an organized assault.  The Intelligence Community has clarified that their talking points never mentioned a protest, and specifically mentioned an organized assault by known terrorist organizations.
22) The Obama Administration has offered the only explanation as to why the reference to an organized assault by known terrorist organizations was removed: they claim it would have tipped off the terrorist groups.  This explanation has never been mentioned by the Intelligence Community.  The Obama Administration has still not explained at all what they were trying to conceal from the terrorist organizations, or what negative result would have occurred from the terrorist organizations being “tipped off” that we knew it was a terrorist attack.
Those are the known facts.
They paint a clear picture of an Administration that deliberately lied to US citizens.  With President Obama making specific references to his actions having put al Qaida on the run during his campaign speeches, and the temporal proximity to the Presidential Election that was extremely close at the time and extremely close in the results, it is an obvious conclusion that the Obama Administration concealed their actions and statements in order to preserve their political future.  The conclusion is so obviously apt and probable that President Obama should either provide an explanation to the contrary, or resign.  Absent such an explanation, the media and the populace should be applying pressure for one outcome or the other.
Since the election, the Obama Administration has refused to provide any answers to the questions that existed since before the election. The only explanations given have been inadequate or ridiculous even at first glance (specifically: pushing the video angle so as to not “tip off” the terrorists).
For example, President Obama has attacked the character of those who criticized UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and said that they should “come after” him.  But he has refused to answer even the most simple questions about his actions on 11 and 12 September 2012, and why his administration pushed the notion that the video caused protests that resulted in the deaths of the 4 Americans.
Obama has the information that would answer almost all the questions about the issue:
1) Why was security reduced despite actionable intelligence threat streams?
2) Why did the administration initially claim there was no actionable intelligence, when it has been proven there was?
3) How did skipping the PDBs impact security levels in Libya before the attack?
4) What preparations were taken to heighten security on the anniversary of 9/11?
5) Did Obama watch the video of the attack?  If not, why not?
6) What orders did Obama give while the attack was going on?  To whom?  Were they carried out to his satisfaction?  If not, was anyone punished?
7) Obama claimed that “as soon as he found out what was happening” he gave orders.  What time was this, exactly?  If it was not while the attack was occurring, why not?  What does the President define as “what was happening”?
8) Was an order given to stand down?
9) If so, who gave it?
10) If not from the President, was that authority delegated, or arrogated?
11) What consequences have been imposed for the stand down order?
12) If no stand-down order was given at all, why were the CIA agents under the impression they were told to stand down?
13) Were there any standing orders to not attempt relief in the case of an attack?
14) If so, why?
15) If not, why were no assets activated to attempt a rescue or combat support?
16) Why did the CIA agents expect combat support (actively designating targets with a laser)?
17) Why did the Obama administration blame a video for protests when Intelligence informed them it was an organized assault by a terrorist organization?  Blaming the Intelligence Community for bad Intel or trying to conceal information to not tip off the terrorists are inadequate explanations, already disproven as justification.
18) Why did Susan Rice go on five television shows to push the video angle?  Who told her to do that?  Who authorized the information she delivered?  What wording was written down, and who wrote it, and based on what information?  Who participated in the development of the talking points she delivered?
19) Why is the Obama administration not cooperating with investigations into the matter (specifically: why is the President declaring his chosen spokesperson as off limits, why did the SecState visit friends in Australia instead of meeting a scheduled hearing, and why did the Obama administration choose to bring revelations of Petraeus’ affair to light days before a scheduled appearance at a Congressional hearing when the information had been known for at least 6 months?)