February 26, 2021

Friday Hot Takes

A balmy 40+ degrees this week, the first snow melt since January, a full month of having an exquisite snow blanket cover the ground. I think a month is enough and has served all my snow needs for a year. 

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Kind of mesmerized by the earnest young people in our diversity meeting today. Touching how religious they are in their desire not to offend others by a stray remark. They really take to heart identity politics and have bought into their own guilt.  One fellow is Mr. Alan Alda, a sweet sensitive guy who wouldn’t insult a flea and yet feels a great need to improve in his diversity awareness. Says that if he sees a picture of the Board of Directors or any group photo of leaders he now notices if they were all white, which he wouldn't have before. He counts this as progress. Sigh. So much for MLK. 

God love them all. These young un’s are the answer to us GenX’rs who were raised on Dilbert cartoons and Letterman. Everyone rebels against the generation previous. 

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Listened to a good podcast (Conservative Daily) with Michigan attorney Matthew DePerno who is doing the case involving Dominion and Antrim County. He alone was able to capture the prize of prizes in a sketchy election: a holy Dominion server. This deep dive into one county is what we thirsted for.

Inspiring to see his can-do Americanism, to see him smartly anticipate bad actors by having twenty-four guards stationed around a state office building. And sure enough he had to turn away someone at 1am on Saturday morning and another later that afternoon before getting the Dominion goods on Sunday. Reporters of course were inundating him with calls, incredulous that a judge gave him access to the holy of holies. The reporter's job, of course, was to gawk and shake their heads in disapproval, not to investigate. 

He seems capable unlike, God love her, Sidney Powell. She lost me with her basic lack of attention to duty, i.e. spelling errors in her briefs as well as some of her odd tweets. 

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Kind of an ominous pair of Mass readings today. Jonah preaches to Nineveh: “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”  Jonah called for a 40 day fast, recreated by Jesus despite his sinlessness. In the gospel Jesus says, “no sign will be given to this generation except the sign of Jonah.”  If Jonah’s sign was “40 days of fasting or Nineveh shall be overthrown!” then Christ’s was “40 days of repentance or Jerusalem will be overthrown!”. And it seems telling it was 40 years between Christ’s death and the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans.   

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John Henry Newman:

"The simplicity of a child’s ways and notions, his ready belief of everything he is told, his artless love, his frank confidence, his confession of helplessness, his ignorance of evil, his inability to conceal his thoughts, his contentment, his prompt forgetfulness of trouble, his admiring without coveting; and, above all, his reverential spirit, looking at all things about him as wonderful, as tokens and types of the One Invisible, are all evidence of his being lately (as it were) a visitant in a higher state of things."

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With the temptation of Christ in the desert it’s interesting to follow the logic. 

The devil first attacks Jesus’s identity: “IF you are the Son of God” and tries physical appetite. Jesus follows with asserting that Scripture is food so the devil in next question quotes Scripture and subtly brings into question the love of the Father and angels. This approach worked on Adam and Eve where the main temptations were God’s love for them and the physical appetite.

In the final question he doesn’t question Christ’s identity or the Father’s love or appetites but goes for the raw power grab: worship me instead of them. And the devil is summarily dismissed.

February 13, 2021

Who Needs Russia When We Have the Lincoln Project?

Listened to an Axios podcast about the final days of the Trump presidency and they pointed out how the Lincoln Project ran a December ad only in D.C. and intended for an audience of one (Trump) with the intent to persuade him Pence would have a say in Jan 6th electoral vote. 

Steve Schmidt was reminiscing later about how they were joking that Trump probably didn’t know about Pence’s ceremonial role and came up with this “genius” way to manipulate him. 

What a despicable group of traitors, preying on the weakness of their own president. Who needs Russia or China when our own country sabotages itself from within? But that’s been the goal of the Democrats and haters since the November ’16 election by undermining the president of the United States, not the president of the Republican Party. 

February 11, 2021

An Answer to Rousseau

Excerpt from a Derek Walcott poem:

Meanwhile the steamers which divide horizons prove

Us lost;

Found only

In tourist booklets, behind ardent binoculars;

Found in the blue reflection of eyes

That have known cities and think us here happy. 


February 10, 2021

Update on CO Sec of State

I posted an update on the inexplicable and meteoric rise of the native Ohioan who is now Colorado Sec of State here.  She fits the mold of the type the Obamas like: female, pretty, unlikable, heartless, and ambitious. (See Kamala Harris.) 

February 07, 2021

Trafalgar Poll Tracks With Lindell’s Data

I watched Mike Lindell’s verboten video and the Ramsland fellow seemed credible in part because his research predated the 2020 election by a couple years. Also interesting to me was the web traffic that purports to show interceptions by foreign entities was centered primarily on Michigan and Georgia. 

Of course the obligatory disclaimer applies in that I don’t know how accurate the information is, and since no one with the ability to investigate is much interested in election fraud it’s likely to remain foggy.

But what’s interesting is the Trafalgar poll, which is probably as accurate as our crap voting system's Election Day Month poll, showed both states as easy Trump wins. He showed tighter races in WI and PA. So I suspect Trump got ripped off 32 electoral votes in those states putting him at 264, six shy. And Nevada probably should’ve given him those if that election was done above board. Even the anti-Trump folks at The Dispatch implied the Nevada election was shady. 


Ultimately our country has chosen to have a very complex voting system involving planes, trains, and automobiles as well as proprietary Dominion code that only the shadow knows what lay within. And it’s precisely in complexity where scams can easily take place due to the hidden nature. A field day for conspiracy theorists, sure, but also a field day for fraudsters. 




February 06, 2021

Time Capsule Tunes

Listened to a couple “time capsule” songs. One shouldn’t break them out too frequently or you’ll obliterate the original memories. Like a fossil unexposed to the elements for a thousand years and then ruined by the shock of air and light. Most nostalgia songs get ruined that way, like how “Sweet Caroline” got associated with Red Sox games. 

But if a song is preserved in amber well enough they can time-travel you. First up was some Clint Black circa 1989 singing “Better Man”.  Simpler time although I wouldn’t have believed it back then. After he sang it on Oprah’s show she was interviewing Black about how he became a better man after he sang it. 

A chance mention of Solzhenitsyn on a Catholic pod today led me to pick up The Gulag again and the great Russian soul writes of the familiar refrain, “It’s a mistake!”, which was the plaintive cry of those who were innocent but taken to the camps. 

Somehow the Gulag feels a primer of coming attractions, although probably after I’m gone. But time moves fast and the intolerance faster. 

That phrase triggered another distant memory: the Men at Work song.  I found it online and within a few seconds was magically listening to a song I hadn’t heard in maybe three or four decades?  I got the vibes of exactly where I was at the time the song was a hit and wikipedia confirmed the date in memory exactly.  Youth is a time so intense that it burns in memory while who can remember what happened to you at 40 versus 47?  Unless there was a searing event involved. 

It’s odd how sensitive I was during one of those intervening years to the deaths of people I didn’t really know.  They hit me hard and in succession.  William F. Buckley, John Updike, Richard Neuhaus and Michael Dubruiel. I actually met two of them however briefly (Neuhaus & Dubruiel), but when all of these distant heroes, to a greater or lesser extent, died, well... (Buckley’s death was made worse by my having read his son’s memoir of his last years.  Not cheery.)

Perhaps I was too cavalier about death (that it happened to strangers mostly) and too sensitive to its sting (as in not being able to say, “Death, where is thy sting?” with St. Paul).  As the old professor said, “everything happens for a reason.”  And my Uncle Tom, “This too shall pass.”

February 05, 2021

February 04, 2021

Why Trump Took Election Fraud Literally But Not Seriously

The poly sci course I took back in college was spot-on.  The number one takeaway was: proximity to power is power.  And reading the spy novel-like post about Patrick Byrne’s visit to the White House certainly affirms that message. 

So did my long ago reading of Nixon’s White House.  Nixon would give some order and those proximate to power would say “yes sir” and not do a thing. It was shocking then because, reading that, decades ago, I naively thought a hierarchical system like the office of the presidency had lines of authority. Ignoring of a president’s will was replicated in this instance by Mark Meadows with respect to not giving Sidney Powell a White House pass. 


Possible reasons Trump took election fraud literally but not seriously: 


1. Stuck to incompetent Rudy, come what may. 

2. Rudy and Sidney hated each other; see #1.  

3. Allured by the Greek sirens calling a 74-year old to Florida and ease. 

4. A dearth of information. 

5. Meadows and lawyers obstructed, anticipating their next job. 

6. Trump himself had already mentally moved on by 12/18...He was saying, “what we could’ve done the past four years...” Past tense. 

7. The NYT was to him what the Ring was to Gollum. 


Assuming Trump wasn’t playing them - which he certainly could’ve been although it’s hard to see why he would’ve engaged with them for an impromptu four-hour meeting running till after midnight - we see the usual mix of human weakness of failure of key personalities to get along, the allure of retirement and ease, the effective obstructions of the gatekeepers. 


They say that presidents are insulated from information but how can that be true not given the 24/7 news cycles? Was Trump really oblivious to the possibility of using the 2018 executive order? Or playing dumb to placate Powell and Flynn?  It’s certainly believable that the president’s aide, Pat Cipollone, wasn’t going to mention that option. And I doubt Fox News, in the post-Ailes era, mentioned it. 


Probably the key was that Trump was sticking to Rudy like white on rice. They were in it together, win or lose, but Rudy was going through the motions, getting drunk every night, blowing off texts or emails, mind firmly closed. Content to let the clock run out.  


Personnel is policy.  Maybe Trump surely suffered from his lack of education, of not understanding what that D.C. is famous for, that in the waning days of an administration all are playing it out with both eyes on their next job. Meanwhile Powell got herself sued as her next job. 


But perhaps the larger tell in the last days of Trump was his never-quite-cured addiction to the prestige that only the NY Times could offer.  It was always about respect, from the time Obama skewered him at the WH Correspondents’ Dinner. Respect that only the mainstream press could provide. Which is why all his covid press conferences were stacked with the usual players of CNN, NY Times, WaPo instead of answering questions from more serious media outfits.  He could never shake loose of that addiction, could never cross the Rubicon despite the excoriating press he received.  Stockholm syndrome I guess. 


Interesting section from Byrne on Antrim County:


The [computer security experts] went to work. It turned out the 75 year old lady who ran the place had a story about how, on the day after the election, some people from “County” had shown up and instructed her to insert her card and re-run her machine using some different inputs. What she was saying did not make sense, and it was clear that they had taken advantage of an elderly woman who probably does not send her own texts. Finally she mentioned that, unbeknownst to County, she had kept both the paper audit trail of the original run, and the re-run, and had stored them in a closet. Our geeks got excited, and had her bring them out: they unrolled them on a long carpet, and in a few minutes of study, they began finding things. Alarming things.


Those learnings and those affidavits were fed to a Michigan lawyer who was pursuing an own election fraud case in Michigan. Days later a judge read it, and found it alarming enough he gave a court order for a formal exploitation of the Antrim County voting machines. We returned to Antrim County and this time, with a proper court order in their pocket, they were able to image hard drives, and returned to base camp with those images. By working in staggered around the clock, over the next four days they performed a month’s worth of work, first breaking the security on the imaged hard drives, then reconstructing the files, then analyzing them. That was all fed up through the system, and emerged about a week later as an eye-opening report that created a national stir, known as the Antrim County Computer Forensics Report.


Well, he tells a good story.

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One of the downsides of computers is you end up with opaque almost unauditable code. Here is Krebs debugging from afar: 


“[CISA’s] Krebs also said that a photo he inspected from the report, which purported to show vote tampering and an effort to ‘zero out election results,’ appeared to him as nothing more than a ‘placeholder’ in a line of code in Dominion's programming system. He noted that these are Windows-based machines and he worked at Microsoft.


"It's a placeholder for a parameter," Krebs said. "It may be that it’s just not good coding. But it certainly doesn't mean that someone tried to get in there and hit 0.”


Makes me nostalgic for hanging chads. 

February 03, 2021

On the Authority of Scripture

Keen thoughts on what to look from a study Bible from a YouTube video via St. Irenaeus Ministries:

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I want study notes that know their place. They’re there to serve the inspired Word, to help the faithful get what God is trying to give them in whatever Biblical text they attend. It’s like in Psalm 45: ’The princess is decked in her chamber with gold woven robes, in many-colored robes she is led to the King, with her virgin companions, her escort in her train.”

The biblical text is the princess. The text is inspired, the notes are not. And so the notes, maps and introductions are like those attendants, they are handmaidens to the Biblical text. 

So what makes for a good handmaiden? Does a handmaiden walk in front of her mistress? No, a handmaiden follows behind. Should a handmaiden try to make herself the center of attention? No, all eyes should be on her mistress. Should a handmaiden talk down to her mistress or contradict what she says?  Unthinkable. 

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In Old Testament critical thinking, it reorders the Pentateuch based on a new principle: evolution, which as you know was the shiny new tool in the 19th century’s intellectual tool belt. The story told is the gradual growth and development of human religion, from the primitive anthropomorphic “J” source to the decadent ritualistic “P” source, which is compared to later rabbinic Judiaism with abstruse legalism...Turns out the major proponents didn’t like the Jews, and the roots of this are in 19th century German anti-semitism is one of the things biblical scholars aren’t supposed to talk about in polite company.

Similarly, in the New Testament, the evolution was supposedly from a primitive gospel “q” source and Mark.  So what’s the problem with that? I don’t think it’s a problem for Luke since he specifically says in his preface that he put his gospel together from sources. But Matthew’s gospel is the apostolic gospel par excellence. It’s the authoritative statement on our Lord’s life and teaching by those who ate with him and walked with him and sat at his feet. And when you demote the gospel of Matthew to something cobbled together at the end of the first century by an anonymous redactor from earlier written sources you’ve opened an immense evidentiary chasm between us and our Lord.

What it means that we the Christian faithful are no longer in the position of receiving eyewitness testimony from the apostles. If we want to know about Jesus, we have to try to reconstruct the sources behind the gospels and in so doing correct the evangelists mistakes be they from human error or prejudice. 

In the traditional model, you approach the gospel text with reverence as though it were the very body of Christ, living and active. In the critical model, you treat the gospel text like a cadaver at the morgue and approach it with clinical detachment, scalpel in hand. 

It’s a fundamental shift, it’s a different kind of Christianity. It’s no longer the story of God made flesh to come down to fulfill the law and redeem the earth. Instead it becomes the story of religious development - from the primitive apocalypticism of the earliest sources to a more developed teaching suitable to the needs of the later communities who redacted them. 

In this new religion we, not God, are the protagonist of our religious narrative. And the story we tell is of our own growth, from primitives who believed in things like miracles to sophisticated, self-aware,  mature believers who tell hard truths and congratulate ourselves on how nuanced we are. 

The great struggle for the survival of the Catholic Church in our century will be over the authority of Scripture. You may think it’s women’s ordination or gay marriage or contraception. Those are all secondary. Mark my words: it’s the Scriptures. This is where we stand or fall. 

February 02, 2021

The Impressive Resume of the Conspiracy Theorists

The stereotype of the conspiracy theorist is the pajama-wearing nerd studying esoterically sourced information in his parent’s basement. But let’s look at this (very partial) list: 

1. Wharton MBA who was managing director at investment firm before becoming Assistant Secretary of HUD under George H.W. Bush. 


2. Well-regarded defamation lawyer who successfully defended Richard Jewell. 


3. Bronze star medalist and Lt General in Air Force.  


4. Entrepreneur who started internet retailer with revenues over $1 billion.


5. Respected federal prosecutor who was involved in major cases such as the Enron prosecution. 


6. Former mayor of the largest U.S. city who was widely hailed for his governing excellence. 


7. Three-star general tapped by President Obama to lead the Defense Intelligence Agency.


This imposing array of talent and productivity have at least one thing in common: all were very vocal public defenders of what the media calls election conspiracy theories. 


If what they said was untrue then it’s a heckuva thing given their collective imprimaturs. And it’s looking like what they said can’t be proven not only because the lack of interest by the courts and state legislatures but also now that Dominion has finally roused itself to sue some of the above for a 1.3 billion dollars. It’s highly doubtful they would be suing if they weren’t absolutely positive that nothing nefarious could come out. 


Perhaps there have always been smart, able, and well-regarded conspiracy theorists and I wasn’t aware of it. Maybe in the pre-Internet age these folks couldn’t find an audience due to being shutdown by the media gatekeepers. 


(Names above respectively are Catherine Fitts, Lin Wood, Thomas McInerney, Patrick Byrne, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and Michael Flynn.)

Everybody Must Get Hacked

Apparently our democracy depends on electronic voting machines so I am happy for the job security of voting merchants:

 “Voting systems have a security life span.  What's safe today may not be safe tomorrow.  A good example of this is a FIPS 140-2 level military standards were cracked at the end of 2009.  These were certified USB drives as secure as encrypted devices.  And there was a fundamental flaw they were compromised. So immediately one of the vendors has been coding to fix that leak. And again the encryption or requirements were secure, but the way it was implemented was not. And it still got certified.  We have the same in the voting industry. Vulnerabilities come to light after the fact.” --Dominion’s Eric Coomer at public hearing in California. 

https://votingsystems.cdn.sos.ca.gov/oversight/hearings/transcript20810.pdf