May 29, 2021

The Truth Is Worth an Army Division

Patrick Byrne posts about his book "The Deep Rig" about election fraud being released as a movie and some of us thought it was rather small potatoes.  He says in response: 

“Those who don’t understand why this movie is important do not really understand the battlespace in which we fight. This is an information war, and truth is worth an army division.”

On some level I get that. Most Americans get their information from TV and movies, not from books.  And now I understand, I guess, that the courts are not going to do their work because they suck at their job, and that the state legislatures aren't going to do their work because they suck at their job. 

My bent is to take the lazy way and expect that "someone is looking into this, somewhere" and assume that the "system will work" and “let the facts speak for themselves”, and "the courts will do their jobs".  But the truth doesn’t speak for itself, we are its hands and feet, especially given the anti-media. Deep down I suspect the Church and the country are in the state they’re in because we don't explain things, write letters, make movies, and make the case for the truth. 

There’s a temptation, a tension, between seeing things in reality - i.e. pretty damn bad spiritually and politically - and trying to do too much, or feeling you have to be a superhero. Perhaps that tension can be met with working on the “mundane” local level.  My wife's evangelical pastor said that too often we don’t treat the ordinary as extraordinary, when it deserves to be. That the ordinary is “precious”. 

And there’s a similar vibe in a Where Peter Is commentary: 

One gets the sense that this is a movie about people who think they’re living in a movie. Sensationalism and grandiose narratives have replaced mundane things like critical thinking or careful discernment. It’s a lot less exciting to accept that we’re sitting out a global pandemic that took our government and health officials a while to figure out and is deadly and serious—but nowhere near what’s portrayed in movies like Outbreak or TV shows like The Walking Dead.

The pandemic—for those of us lucky not to have been directly affected—has been boring. And some Catholics can’t stand the boredom. So they’ve imagined a more exciting explanation and are passing it along, via social media, to Catholics who have sadly forgotten (or never learned) critical thinking skills.

I think there’s something to that although “careful discernment” is not going to result in a change of our elites -- other than spur the recognition that that is what needs to happen.  “Critical thinking” is actually what leads us to the “grandiose narrative” that we are in a crisis in which even our biological sex is controversial, that our leaders routinely lie to us, our intelligence services pick winners and losers at their whim, and that, yes, that lack of trust in our elites has directly led to a crisis of confidence in our voting systems. 

David French famously laments the appearance of evangelical Christianity into Trumpland but I've  grown in my appreciation for my co-patriots and have felt a new bond with my country, a renewed feeling of patriotism that had lain dormant because it was seen as too "ordinary" and "common".  And I have a hopefulness based on the nation's consecration to our patroness Mary. 

Trump was the "honey pot" of the corrupt, a sort of one-man entrapment unit. Who else but a D.C. ingenue like Trump could've unwittingly exposed the deceitfulness and corruption of our FBI, DOJ, and dominant media?  His greatest service is likely his contesting of the '20 election because there's a "darkness on the edge of town" when it comes to Dominion and the rest, and the way to purge corruption is to expose it to the light.

Catholic Grift Or Infinitely Approaching Grift Without Actually Reaching It

Kind of discombobulated today reading the Catholic scandal sheets (aka Catholic Twitter). Specifically learning that rightwing fringe priest Fr. Altman has raised over $500k in his legal defense fund (his defense costs will be maybe $15k). And he wants to control the money and use as he sees fit. 

Fr. Altman seems highly grift-y. You couldn't have necessarily predicted a grifter in advance although incendiary language lacking nuance is a decent tell.  Fr. Z similarly has always turned me off although with far less griftedness than Altman. 

We live in an age where religion is mimicking politics. Celebrity is like water in the basement: it finds its way in when there is sufficient motivation and avenue. Or like money in politics. You can dam up every spigot but money will find politicians. 

I feel wary of Dawn Eden’s side given her side is leftwing Catholicism but I find myself won by her argument that it means little, contra Sohrab Ahmari, that Rutler is not going to be charged for sexual abuse after a seven month (!) investigation. You still have the issue of the porn use which he'd has not denied and will require an archdiocese review. 

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Arguably abuses start on the left and the conservatives catch on belatedly, in the time-honored fashions of liberals being on the vanguard and conservatives observing and following what works.  In the religious sphere you had Fr. James Martin in 2017 let his freak flag fly without repercussion so that begat Fr Altman doing the same on the other side of the fence and it was mid-2018 Archbishop Vigano did his number on Pope Francis.  

On the political side, you had all kinds of protests and violence in the summer of ’20 on the Left, BLM and antifa. And it was only in Jan. ’21 that the Right thought (mistakenly) that it could get away with some of that. 

Usually the Right has far less success due to the bias of the national media although sometimes neither side successful as in the case with questioning the security of voting machines. 

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A lot of botox and plastic surgery in Hollywood. You would think that it would limit actors, that it could flatten out expressions. Actors need to express with their face and anything that limits the ability to smile, for example, would be detrimental. But of course Hollywood isn’t so much concerned with acting prowess as looks and celebrity.  And people like to gaze at attractive people. 

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The following passage from the Charlie Smith novel made me think of a city like Hamilton, and how the river must be so different now that it is kept at arm’s length, compared to pre-1913: 

"In the afternoon he took walks on the levee. Fifty feet high, wide as a ship...two worlds were cut off from each other by the long line of dirt and grass, and though no passport was needed to cross from one side to the other, the years of separation - so it seemed to him - had changed both parties. The river was no longer the infiltrating presence, destroyer or abettor, but now only an untrustworthy stranger who had to be kept in its place; and the town, once humble enough to accept whatever came its way, whether flood or heavy, slow passing of time rolling downstream, imagined itself as indestructible, as exemplar of a shape and style that would endure forever." 

And this was an interesting take, on the main character, a criminal: 

"He could not resist his desire to take what he wanted. There was remorse, but he learned to live with that. His belief was conservative: that there was a huge vat of goodness wickedness polluted only little by little."

May 25, 2021

Grifters and Non-Grifters in Election Integrity: Who to Support?

The fallout from the election controversy has spawned a cottage industry of newly sprung organizations and I've decided to try to invest in it a much larger way. Which means trying to discern who is doing the work of the Founding Fathers in all of this since we all should feel some responsibility to try to continue what they started even if, perhaps, the experiment has already failed. 

I'm sure I'll be taken a ride along the way by some or all but to refuse to participate out of fear of being taken advantage of is cowardly, prideful, and maybe too beholden to the god of reason (as Chesterton said, "the rational soldier does not fight, the rational man does not marry"). 

Here are some thoughts on some of the players and orgs:

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1. I love what the guys at Conservative Daily Podcast are doing, the duo of Joe Oltmann and Max McGuire. Oltmann's lack of grift was shown by how it wasn't he who chose to go after Dominion, but rather Dominion's problems found him. He was on the ground floor of understanding the connection between Coomer and Antifa, went public with it, and now is experiencing the wrath of a media complex that will disparage the reputation of a Kentucky high schooler (Nick Sandmann) but not question a corporation owned by hedge fund responsible for tabulating our votes.  Oltmann could use the bucks for his legal defense and seems deserving, especially because he was in it before there was any remunerative potential. 

McGuire is pretty amazing fellow given that he actually exhibits fairness - a primary characteristic of the drive for truth, ala Aquinas - rather than just demonizing people. He said in response to Joe's queries about, "why do the vaccinated care about other people getting the vaccine when they can't get it?".  Max brought up what I was thinking: because variants will emerge and the variants will evade the vaccine.  How many would say that to listeners who are extremely anti-vacc in the main? 

And from yesterday's podcast:  

"We shouldn't even be in the position where we have to worry if the machine is restricting Republican ballots. And I get that some of that could be confirmation bias, that we already suspect that they are doing sinister things so anytime anything goes wrong we just connect the dots. That's going to be at play no matter what.  But when you have so many people saying 'they wouldn't let me vote but they let their Democrats vote'." 

Oltmann is in the process of building up platforms that will allow for unfettered conservative speech.  Grade: A 

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2. Matt Braynard's Looking Forward America.  Braynard was entrepreneurial in his approach to fraud, proactively and competently seeking new data sources to try to get at the truth since so much of the data is held by secretaries of state and consist of old, unmaintained voting rolls that are a joke.  He was very careful with caveats, methodology, transparency and would not make the claim that Trump would've won the election but merely in certain states we don't know what the outcome would've been.  Seems one of the most responsible folks on the election integrity front. Grade: A

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3. Sidney Powell's Defending the Republic:  I've soured a bit on Sidney.  I think her lack of attention to detail to the filings she made (the myriad misspellings) despite having time for media appearances during the time was off-putting.  I don't really fault her for the cases she brought given that they were never decided on the merits. The fear of the courts of controversial issues is legendary (witness even the highest court in the land with the highest justice, John Roberts, and his fear of overturning Obamacare)  and to some extent these things have to be done at the state legislature level despite the lack of appetite there for the potential spoiling of their career as a politician. Sadly politicians are now paid commentators at one extreme or milquetoast functionaries on the other, and both in it for life.  Grade: C-. 

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4. Mike Lindell. Mike Lindell, what can you say? He's a live wire. Seems as guileless as Nathaniel in the gospels.  Jimmy Kimmel asked him, "why is a pillow guy sitting on this information?"  And the answer is, of course, because the death of journalism requires amateurs.  Performed a service in his documentaries by highlighting the questions that deserve answers. His social media platform didn't quite work out, but then neither has Parler (now bowing before the knee of Apple) or Gab (hacked with all passwords and IDs exposed).  Apparently social media is a very hard thing to do. The fact that he lost all his stores due to being cancelled also buoys his status as the original anti-grifter. Grade: B. 

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5. Young Americans for Freedom: Not about election integrity but perhaps a way to reach our woebegone youth.  The very credible Gov. Scott Walker heads it now, and the tagline is genius: "playing the long game".  Definitely want to fund not just the short term but long game.  Grade: too soon to know. 

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6. Matthew DePerno and his law firm.  He's gotten farther with less than any attorney in the country and competence should be rewarded.  He made breakthroughs in information that no one else has been able to get, such as how votes can be backdated to any time / date stamp.  He also found a 4G Telit modem (made in Taiwan) in voting machine used in Michigan after being told by Michigan Sens Ed McBroom and Mike Shirkey that voting machines have no modems.  His case was eventually dismissed but not on the merits, the judge emphasizing that he was making no ruling on machine fraud. Grade: B+

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7. Patrick ByrneThe former owner and CEO of Overstock.com has recently started a Locals channel after writing a surprising bestselling book on the 2020 election titled "The Deep Rig".  If it's true he's put $5 million into election integrity efforts then his charging $5 a month for his channel seems reasonable and not "grifty".  But he's overpromised a bit, saying a "big thing" is coming on 5/28, a "mother of all bombs", and then walking it back lately saying it's going to be more "three yards and a cloud of dust".  Grade: B. 

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8. Alliance for Defending Freedom.  Not about election security but related in that it uses the legal system to try to defend our religious liberty.  Doing God's work and worth supporting. It's a shame that monies that could be used for the poor or evangelization now have to go to "secondary" things like ADF and election security but it is what it is.  Grade A.

The Puzzling Case of NYC's Rutler

Thrown by this case of scandal of the ultra orthodox priest. Felt the need to do a personal investigation, as if that’s my calling. (Not.) 

But what a mystery. The facts, in the case: their appears to be an Ms Gonzalez (the accuser) in the Bronx on Twitter in 2014, looking teen-ish.  Is it her ?  She "liked” male pornography and follows a male porn revue. Hardly an ingenue. Not that that makes her claim less credible, especially when backed up with video. If she was 15 then she’s 22 now, the right age for this Gonzalez.  

The video, who knows? The shape of the head fits.  Completely bald instead of the halo of stubble in back as was the case a half-year earlier.  Chemo?  The arrangement of the art on the wall seems imperfectly balanced. I feel like he has a  better sense of aesthetics but obviously the room is pretty easily checked for veracity. I assume we would’ve heard by now if it didn’t fit. 

The reading of his parishioner letter is a denial of physical abuse, not the pornography viewing.  A really good round-up of everything is here

May 23, 2021

Katie Hobbs Helpfully Makes the Case Machines Should Not Be Used

Have to laugh at Arizona Sec of State Katie Hobbs who puffed up her chest and sent out an unwitting letter proving our point, saying of the audited machines: “no methods exist to fully rehabilitate the compromised equipment or provide adequate assurance that they remain safe to use." 

In other words, the machines are so complex that even Dominion can’t debug them.

Imagine a democracy trusting code so opaque that no one except maybe Eric Coomer can tell if it works properly.

You have to laugh at the stupidity of our country when folks in Canada and Ireland among many others said no years ago to electronic voting machines and thus have saved themselves headaches. 

Also imagine the stupidity of American tax money funding Chinese scientists working in a bio lab developing viruses in order to defeat viruses. What could go wrong?! 

On the merits, we don't deserve to be a serious country but I think someone once said that God looks after America and drunks.  We sure need looking after. 

May 20, 2021

DIY Journalism

The death of journalism makes theories - conspiracy or otherwise - flourish since everyone is forced to be their own journalist. It’s a do-it-yourself era. 

The shocking reaction to even the suggestion of looking under the hood of voting machines seems conspiratorial in and of itself. 

I think part of the problem is how people experience computers, thinking of the “impartiality”, like the way they use a calculator and come up with the same answer every time, unaware that code is very partial. Most people seem blind to how a look under the hood at most programming code would make you blanche. No doubt part of the reason Dominion and company are so reluctant to audits it’s simply due to the level of embarrassment that would result. Embarrassing for slap-dashery even if not out-and-out fraud. 

A key concerning character in this is Eric Coomer. He knows where the bodies are buried, appears to have godlike admin powers, and seems to be a disreputable character.  Not a good combination. The lack of a systematic check-and-balance - just plain good old-fashioned auditing - doesn’t come easy with computer code given the ways it can appear very opaque to the unacquainted.  Power tends to aggregate when dealing with complex computer systems as there are so few who have the time to know and understand the big picture (and the micro issues) and thus he or she has the ability in turn to affect the big picture. The level of naivety of the public is understandable given their experience of an ATM, banking, mortgage amortizations, all seem to “work”. 

Voting seems unique in that you have three major components: the alive, human (hopefully; now who’s being naive) voter, the physical ballot, and the machine tabulator.  It’s seemingly impossible to audit because two out of the three are “inaccessible”.  The physical ballots are a joke because they don’t tie to any actual living human being; they tie at best to a voter registration list and that list is filled with dead people, or folks who have moved out of state, or people who didn’t actually vote even though they magically have a ballot filled out for them. 

One way to “wall off the system” is to not have the voting machines hooked to the Internet, but we’ve found alas that many are. That alone is verboten to the point that you can’t certify votes. Worse, you can print and then back-date ballots to Election Day. 

But a huge advantage for Dominion and others is that the people complaining about them are not important.  Not the elites. Platforms bans the discussion and google hides the search results, amazon the books, etc... 

From Ryan Williams, president of the Claremont Institute: 

“With the audit in Maricopa County [there was an] immediate and universal misinformation campaign. In other words they wanted to paint it from the beginning as just a partisan witch hunt.  There are a lot of well-intentioned folks who really want to get to the bottom of the 2020 election and figure out in some definitive way whether there were real shenanigans or not. The weight of the establishment ,both Right and Left, are not interested in even investigating it because they made up their minds months ago.”

Those well-intentioned folks don't have the juice, don't matter.  

May 15, 2021

Thank God Voting Machines Can't Get Hacked and Other Short Takes

Gas pipelines can get cyber-attacked but luckily voting machines can’t.

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In 2018 Senators Warren and Klobuchar wrote letters and expressed dismay over the security of voting machines. Come 2020 and 2021 there’s been radio silence. Meaning they were either liars then or cowards now.  (Ok, aka "politicians".)

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Biden and China are tripping over each other to be the first to ruin the USA.

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I don’t like Liz Cheney but respect that she’s willing to lose her position out of principle. The lack of her type in GOP is what made Trump possible and even necessary.

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CEO Jamie Diamond tells lie at OSU commencement, saying the murder of George Floyd highlighted racial inequities despite zero evidence that the death was racially motivated.

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Maricopa County Sheriff Penzone is claiming that the elections department router is used by law enforcement, meaning Canadian company Dominion had access to law enforcement data? 

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Article in mainstream press outfit quotes computer science professor J. Alex Halderman, a voting machine expert, on Michigan’s Antrim County error: “it’s plausibly human error, but if a simple screw-up could cause these problems, that sounds like a technical design flaw.”  

Gee, if only there were an alternative to using computers to vote for us… 

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And from the Washington Post of all places: “…concerns about the security of electronic voting continue to simmer, including among experts. It does not help, they say, that some machines contain modems and that those machines have sometimes been left connected to the Internet for extended periods.”

Gosh, I wish there was a method other than computers...

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St. Catherine of Sienna spent vast quantities of time alone with God in between her activist moments. Died at 33!  And a Doctor of the Church. Odd how some of the holiest female saints died at young ages (St. Therese, St. Catherine, St. Joan of Arc, St. Faustina, St. Bernadette, St. Maria Goretti, etc. - two of them died at the same age of Jesus, at 33.). 

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From the memoir I’m reading about the Ohio girl:

"In college, I spent a lot of time driving around the ghost towns of Butler County, Ohio, listening to Mozart and Cole Porter and thinking about how the people who lived in these places really were up against a lot. 

During these trips back home from New York, my parents and I would ride bikes on a path along the Ohio and Erie Canal. This was one of my favorite things in the world to do. A hundred, a hundred and fifty years before, mares and donkeys used to tow canal barges along the path, before the railroad came and changed everything. Imagine that—a whole world, now vanished, right along the canal.

As my parents and I biked along the canal, now overgrown with soft green grass, we saw blue herons, and beavers, and frogs. I thought about the animals, all so beautiful and peculiar, and the boats, and the people, the people whose lives were the canal—the voices lost to us, voices never heard, buried in history.

But why was it always this way with me—when I was in Ohio, I couldn’t wait to get out of it (this is not the place to be, my friends), and now that I was out of it, I wanted to go back? Why was it that whenever you achieved exactly what you wanted, the allure of that thing dissolved in the grasping?"


May 14, 2021

God's Ways and Man's Ways in the Sorrowful Mysteries

I’m always struck by the asymmetry (or symmetry) of what Jesus endured versus what he gave. There’s a sort of photographic negative in the Passion scenes:

1. Jesus created a company of men and offered his companionship to them.

2. They slept during the agony in the garden when He longed for companionship.


3. Jesus led a crowd to stop the stoning of the woman caught in adultery.

4. “Suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them.” (Lk 22:47) 


5. Jesus was charged with death unjustly. 

6. We are given life unjustly. 


7. We opened wounds on the physical body of Christ.

8. Jesus closed the wounds of the lepers.


9. God covered the nakedness in the garden of Eden after the sin of Adam and Eve.

10. We “plucked his beard”.  (Is 50:6) 


11. Jesus used his spittle to heal the blind man. 

12. Men spit to wound: “I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.” (Is 50:6)


13. Jesus was stripped, crowned with thorns, given a scarlet robe.

14. He covers our sins, crowns us with everlasting life, gives us the robe of Baptism.


15. Jesus was blindfolded (Lk 22:64).

16. Jesus un-blinds us. 


17. “After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him.”

18. This sounds almost ritualistic. God gave us a different ritual (the Eucharist).  


19. We robbed Jesus of his blood. 

20. Jesus offered his blood to us. 


21. We offered Jesus sour wine.

22. Jesus offered the best wine at Cana.


May 07, 2021

The Haunt of it is: He Came From Us

It's still kind of shocking to learn that the head of security and products for Dominion, a Canadian company responsible for the votes in some 28 U.S. states, is anti-American and a near psychopath. 

But would we expect otherwise? It's the new normal. If we eliminated near psychopaths from the job market our economy would grind to a halt. You'd be nervous with Coomer as your school janitor let alone being in charge of security for the largest voting machine software company in America and holder of the patent on voting adjudication. 

It reminds me of what Peggy Noonan wrote recently: 

Some of our policing problem is connected to a problem that affects everything: They came from us. Our police come from modern America, that jittery, jacked-up, broken place. They don’t really come from health and stability but from families that are fractured and a culture that is crude and violent, from hypermedia and videogames, from a society that doesn’t cohere. They don’t come from something boring and solid like the cop on the beat 50 and 100 years ago did; they don’t come from a world that went out of its way to teach them manners, morals, faith. How to act.  All the cops, and the perps, they came from us.

 














 

May 05, 2021

Arizona Audit

The post-election reaction to election integrity is much of the "the lady doth protest too much" variety. It's laughable that the audit was opposed by a team of 73 lawyers. The county and state are spending more on attorney fees than the audit itself. 

There's no better example of how we're really only a country on paper at this point, symbolized a few years ago by our failure to even agree on body posture during the national anthem but now demonstrated on a much more significant front. 

To paraphrase Jonah Goldberg, who was tweeting against MTG and Gaetz: If you're more upset, appalled or concerned about people questioning voting machines than with machine's actual code and security, then you should get up from the table and splash some water on your face.

It’s sad that voting integrity has gotten so politicized that even a drop in the bucket ($150k) is seen as a scandalous misuse of funds.  On the contrary, every dollar spent towards trying to pry open the “black box” that is our crap voting system is a good thing. If amateurs and bumblers have to do it, like the Cyber Ninjas, that is not a mark against them but against the ridiculous response by folks like Goldberg's Dispatch to the honest inquiry that made the audit necessary. 

Even if you believe there is no fraud, how can we avoid the appearance of the possibility of that when our voting system is controlled by two private companies? There is oversight, of course, but it still centralizes our voting system to an unhealthy degree. 

It’s sickening that the concerns of tens of millions of Americans are so discounted that even the proposal to wean ourselves from voting machines and to go back to paper ballots is seen as crazy conspiracy thought.  The lack of curiosity is especially stunning given that Senators from both sides of the aisle have expressed grave concerns about voting machines (see Warren and Klobuchar, who did yeoman service pre-2020). 

The Dispatch hit piece on the 'Zona audit was almost information-free other than “trust the experts”.  That ship has sailed. As Eric Coomer’s Instagram handle went: “HiddenInPlainSightForAllToSee".