May 13, 2022

Shea & Zmirak, Brothers From a Nudder Mother

So for ol' time's sake I went out to proto-blogger Shea’s website hoping I could find some solidarity for once, some cheap comfort, and to mea culpa, “I was wrong about Bush in ’04 and you were right and now I’m on your side with respect to the proxy war with Russia.”  Figured he'd be against printing $40b to Ukraine given what it could do in this country. Hoped he might even put in a good word for Biden overreach on the disinformation campaign and how the Patriot Act ended up being a killer of civil liberties and...

Ha, life isn’t a fairytale. He’s got his tribe and I’ve got mine and he doesn't appeared concerned that his president is daring Russia to start a nuclear war let alone give a rat's ass if the 1/6rs rot in jail. 

Instead he’s just his old self, bitter at how the GOP (the dog that caught the car) is going to get credit for rolling back Roe v. Wade. He’d prefer it happen any other way than that way and posted a video from a pro-choicer who says that overturning Roe is just another in a long line of misogynic GOP capers. 

Maybe he’s just a prisoner of his Left Coast media or just stubbornly tribal. Or is micro-targeting his intended audience. 

He also posted the obligatory screed against his bete noir John Zmirak and I marveled at how he and Zmirak are like twins albeit at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Stylistically both brutal warriors. They're either both right or both wrong in terms of style so they apparently agree that God wants them to be that way. They see the world as Manichean and feel no compunction, as I increasingly do*. It's so interesting to me to see Christians who don't play nice or see any merit in the opponent's argument.  Just hard to figure where anger is righteous and when it turns unrighteous. And of course what may be good for Shea and Zmirak might not be good for the average Christian to model. God calls people to different roles.

Perhaps that even extends to politics. Perhaps God doesn't call us to be consistent individually but that the Body of Christ as a whole to be complimentary if not consistent. So if Dr. Cornel West isn't pro-life or doesn't care about due process for 1/6rs, that's because his role is to advocate for Blacks and women outside the womb (despite the damage to their conscience and spiritual life). Others defend the unborn and due process, but their role isn't to lobby for greater controls over police or equal justice for blacks. 

I suppose it's just completely unrealistic on this earth to expect someone else to be politically consistent, and prideful to expect it in ourselves. We're not wired that way. We're wired as tribal people, not disembodied brains that calculate and measure rationally like Spock. 

* Someone said on Twitter recently: "The most basic failure of the conservative they embraced the suicidal libertarian notion that power could be destroyed and so they are doomed to lose every engagement from the outset...The side that wants to win will always beat the side that just wants to be left alone."

May 11, 2022

GOP Slogan: "Fast to Recognize Foreign Wars, Slow to Recognize Internal Ones"

So Congress recently executed a nicely clarifying vote in which they signed on to printing $40b to give to a corrupt Eastern European country with a border problem. Remember those old silly days when there were caveats from Congress: "But how we going to pay for it?" 

Fifty-seven doughty Republicans bucked the knee-jerk neo-cons.  My own newly minted self-described "MAGA" congressman Mike Carey, who promised three months ago he would vote like Jim Jordan, did not vote like Jim Jordan. Par for the course of course. But helpful for voting purposes. I’d rather lose ten winnable races for the chance to get one America-friendly politician in.  Party labels are a joke now. 

Republican office holders are very quick to recognize when we are at war with an external foe, even if there was no declaration of war - but exceedingly slow to recognize an internal war. I daresay you could steal an election from them and they'd play dumb.

On Mark Halperin's substack there was a reader quoted who is appalled by the irrationality of MAGA crowd.  

Certainly I can understand his dismay at adopting the Left’s posture of irrationality (see “Trump is agent for Russia & likes urine-sex!”).  It’s a political advantage when only your side is irrational.

The best case scenario was that by mirroring the Left’s irrationality (including riots!), we would create conditions for a “reset” or truce, seeing how the costs were rising and there wasn’t the asymmetrical “craziness” advantage.

That did not happen of course and only made things worse but then that strategy depended on having rational Democrat leadership (catch-22 alert) and a fair judicial system (ie no ridiculous Mueller probe which should’ve been closed ten mins after it began).

Ultimately I think most GOP voters pre-Trump were like people in a remote village in Africa who just learned there was a war going on in 1943. MAGA all get it now and are driving the GOP ship.  We didn’t choose this war and are shocked by it but like it or not we’re in it.

Halperin is big on the "presumption of grace".  I'm not sure what he means by that. If someone is clubbing me over the head, am I still supposed to presume something? Does he mean to give the benefit of the doubt? What if there is no doubt?

The definition of presumption is “to assume based on probability”.  In what world can a MAGA voter use probability to assume grace from Blue given they stole two years from the president of the country by way of a frivolous case and are picketing SCOTUS houses?  (Not to mention wrecking a man’s reputation -- Kavanaugh -- just to try to prevent him from going on the Court.) The most rational probability is they hate us and want to screw us.


Max McGwire's post:

What could $40 billion buy if it wasn't being shipped to Ukraine?

It’s enough to give every American man, woman, and child $120.68

It’s enough to give every American living in poverty a check for $1,075.

It would build 2,000 miles of border wall (based on the price per mile when Trump left office). The US-Mexico Border is 1954 mi long, so we'd have money left over to start securing the Canadian border too.

HUD says it would cost $20 billion to solve homelessness. So, we could solve homelessness, and if it didn't work the first time, we could solve it again.

Could deport 3.8 million illegal aliens.

Could detain 685,000 illegal border crossers for 365 days each.

We could buy nine to ten years worth of baby formula at retail for US mothers.

Average medical debt in the US is $5,953. $40B could pay off the medical debt for 6.7 million Americans.

We could end hunger in the United States and make sure that everyone who needed food, had it. And we'd have 10-15 billion left over.

Cancer patients paid $5.6 billion in 2018 out of pocket for their treatments. $40B could pay Americans out of pocket cancer treatments for at least 7 years.

You know after 9/11, when people said it would be too expensive to rebuild both twin towers, so they settled on one massive Freedom tower? That cost $3.9B. We could have built ten of them with the money we are sending to Ukraine.

Average 4 year degree costs $141,324. We could put 283k Americans through college for four years. Or put 1.2 million Americans through trade school.

May 10, 2022

The "Uber Drivers" Who Stole an Election

Saw film "2000 Mules".  It surprised me on the upside given the quality and how D'Souza frankly addressed the elephants in the room like “How come in 2020 the Republicans won the undercard but not the top of ballot?” And “Isn’t it reasonable to assume that Trump pissed off more suburban voters than he drew new Hispanic and other voters?”  

The documentary understandably didn’t touch machine fraud; there’s no way to audit those machines. Which, of course, is an argument against them. My initial thought is that if the Left went to so much trouble to set up an Uber driver system to stuff ballot boxes then likely the machines must not be a trustworthy vehicle to commit fraud. I mean, if you have the machines, why risk the human labor? That's not to say the machines weren't a problem or couldn't be in the future. 

Probably the most surprising thing though is that even after the post-2020 election period when there was white-hot attention on voter fraud, ol’ Georgia went about fraud in the Jan ’21 run-off like nothing had changed -- well, they did make a small change - mules (or ballot-stuffers) wore surgical gloves to prevent leaving their DNA on the ballot since someone had been charged a few weeks earlier by that method. 

The mule count seems to help explain the disparity between the results in rust belt city Cleveland versus rust belt city Milwaukee. As podcaster Max McGwire said recently, "I had someone recently ask me if I deny the fact that Joe Biden got 81 million votes. He thought it was a gotcha question. No, I don't deny he got 81 million votes. I deny that he got 81 million votes from 81 million voters. There's a difference..." 

The brazenness of the ’20 theft feels historic but then the combination of outdated voter rolls, Zuckerberg drop boxes, and covid all gave the Dems a historic opportunity to cheat. 

Some Republicans blame Trump for losing the ’21 Georgia senate seats by complaining about voter fraud and decreasing GOP turnout, but the real determinant was the hard work of the mules who received a healthy $10 a ballot. 


In other doubt Biden and Dem leaders are snickering over SCOTUS leak outrage, saying, “wait till they find out we stole a presidential election!”. Many Republican voters are like villagers in a remote country first learning about WW2 in 1943. Ignorance is bliss, except when you are a voter.  And Republican leaders are, of course, hoping for that ignorance given they just lavished $40 billion on a corrupt foreign country. They seem to care more about Ukraine than Indiana. 

I would be fine if the GOP lost ten "winnable" elections just for the chance to get one America-first candidate in.  This establishment GOP helped enable a Biden presidency by turning a blind eye to voter fraud, and if you can't have a secure election then you don't have a democracy.  Richard Nixon's worst sin was not Watergate but the failure to fight the stolen 1960 election, which might've forced some future guardrails up and not given us the feckless Biden today.

May 02, 2022

Remembering the Great Thomas J. Jackson

It's always a tonic to read of those made of sterner stuff, and just as I was led to Roberton's biography of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson back during the Clinton administration so again another dose of methadone for the political junky. 

I picked up the biography“Rebel Yell” and it's healing to read about politics/war without the raw rancor of the contemporary, and even more so the 19th century spiritual fecundity.  Jackson is sort of the epitome of a Christian warrior even though the cause he was fighting for was spiritually bankrupt. He was ahead of the game in seeing “the Little Way” of St. Therese, of how God must be found in the daily. From “Rebel Yell”: 

[Jackson] chatted with Lacy, Smith, and McGuire on a range of religious topics that included discussion of how every aspect of a man’s religious life should be a self-conscious religious act. While washing oneself, one might imagine the cleansing blood of Christ; while dressing, one might pray to be cloaked in the Savior’s righteousness; while eating, to be feeding on the bread of heaven. Jackson had long lived this way, consecrating even his most trivial actions to God.

He died on a Sunday, just after 3pm, not long after declining an offer of brandy and water from a close friend because he “wanted to preserve my mind, if possible, till the end.”  Finally a capitulation: “Let us cross over rate river and rest...” You get the feeling of how it rhymed with the Savior’s death.  

The South knew instantly how much it had lost. One of Jackson’s great friends said, “The grief in this community is intense...The people made an idol of him, and God has rebuked them.”  More than twenty thousand came to honor him, which is how many came to Benjamin Franklin’s funeral in Philadelphia. 

It’s one of the keen mysteries of life to see someone so holy fighting for so unholy a cause but it's also interesting that he could garner such "bipartisan" praise despite it: 

But in the North there was widespread admiration for Jackson, for both his Christian piety and his warrior prowess. Harper’s Weekly described him as “an honorable and conscientious man” who had hesitated to take sides until secession forced his hand. British author and America watcher Catherine Cooper Hopley wrote that Northerners “pride themselves that he was a fellow citizen of the republic, an American, independent of northern or southern birth.” There were signs everywhere of the immense respect people of the North had for Jackson’s bravery and skill as a soldier. “I rejoice at Stonewall Jackson’s death as a gain to our cause,” wrote Union brigadier general Gouverneur K. Warren, soon to be a hero of the Battle of Gettysburg, “and yet in my soldier’s heart I cannot but see him as the best soldier of all this war, and grieve at his untimely end.”

Northern feelings about Jackson were perhaps best summarized by John W. Forney, the prominent editor of the Washington Chronicle. “Stonewall Jackson was a great general, a brave soldier, a noble Christian, and a pure man. May God throw these great virtues against the sins of the secessionist, the advocate of a great national crime.” (Lincoln wrote Forney immediately to compliment him on the “excellent and manly” article in the Chronicle on “Stonewall” Jackson.) Jackson’s beloved, estranged father-in-law George Junkin, who had embraced the Union cause and moved north, voiced some of the same feelings. “I was completely unmanned,” he wrote, of hearing the news of Jackson’s death. I sought my state-room, to weep there. Is it wrong, is it treason, to mourn for a good and great, though clearly mistaken man? I cannot feel it to be so. I loved him dearly—but now—he is with dear, dear Ellie and the rest! Oh, God! Oh give us grace to acquiesce in these terrible mysteries of Thy providence.  It is curious that, though many Northerners could not forgive him for fighting, as they perceived it, to protect the institution of slavery, the Northern newspaper the Independent, edited by archabolitionist clergyman Henry Ward Beecher, voiced no such qualms. It said simply that Jackson was “Quiet, modest, brave, noble, honorable, and pure. He fought neither for reputation now, nor for future personal advancement.”

Jackson is, of course, the direct opposite of our current leadership and culture. 


He and his sister Laura grew up in western Virginia and were very close - until the war divided them. Both seemed to have that strong, unbending devotion to the truth as they saw it. Laura was as fervently pro-Union as he was pro-Confederate, and it helped lead to the breakup of not just that relationship but to a divorce with her husband (he having Southern sympathies).

An impressive family line both before and after Jackson, as one would expect given the familial intelligence combined with a strong religious devotion. And the hard Presbyterianism of Stonewall and Laura was passed down with only one “renegade” Methodist. (Wasn't it Belloc said the Presbyterianism is the only intellectually defensible version of the denominations of Christianity besides Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy? Wonder if that backbone helped their backbones.)

May 01, 2022

Mark Halperin's Ponderable

Mark Halperin recently quoted a friend in his substack about whether social media is compatible with democracy because it amplifies voices like AOC, Cawthorne, MTG, etc..

I’m always puzzled by those who think Cawthorne, AOC, MTG are a big deal. Sure, their voices are amplified by social media but they have zero real power. Think about how many of AOC’s policies have been enacted.They are gadflies who occasionally speak truth to power (think Gaetz drilling FBI on laptop) and so can perform a useful if limited function.

Aren’t they distractions from what is really tearing down the country: our justice system (the immune system of a functioning democracy)?

Under the umbrella of justice we have FBI, DOJ, NSA, CIA who have worked to destroy us (think fake WMD, Russia collusion, Comey’s Hillary email announcement, Whitmer & 1/6 cases, the absence of law and order in summer 2020 riots, and destabilizing Ukraine in 2014 which encouraged the Russian bear.)

The combined failure of our "immune system” is really shocking and yet we focus on trivial actors like MTG and AOC. It’s like the patient’s lungs aren’t working but we are worried about the paper cut.

With social media so few Americans are on Twitter, maybe 10%, but it does seem to be a huge player. I guess Twitter is the way for the journalistic elites to immediately become a “swarm” and then influence the public with a unified, single voice. I suspect David Ignatius or Andrea Mitchell tweets something out and it becomes the conventional wisdom instantly. But seems like the old email chain lists would work as well.

I’m for building, not destroying, but how can we save the building if we can't even identify where the rot is, since our media is so determined not to show it to the public? 

April 28, 2022

Solving the OH Senate Race Endorsement Puzzle

The Senate race is shaping up to be a really interesting exercise in line-drawing. 

Personally, I don’t see the appeal of Josh Mandel. He seems business as usual despite the rhetoric. He’s been in politics for 15 years and has profited. In 2020 he “earned” $400k serving on corporate boards. That’s the way politics works: serve your time then get rewarded (or, as in Joe Biden’s case, get rewarded all along the way).  I don’t find it particularly appealing. 

JD Vance comes along and he’s already rich so he has zero interest in that. Perhaps less than zero arguably since he’s burning every bridge to anything resembling a payday from corporate America. He’s gone the path of MTG and Josh Hawley, much to his credit. 

Vance and Mandel are outwardly very MAGA. Not a dime’s worth of difference in their rhetoric - or is there? The one “tell” was the Russia/Ukraine war in which Mandel has revealed himself as the typical reflexive war hawk.  Looks like he’s been in politics long enough to think NATO is the another name for the holy, Roman Empire. Sacred and inviolable. 

Why would a guy like David McIntosh of Club for Growth -  an ostensible fellow traveler like Vance in that he was against Trump in ’16 and then found his way to conversion (forced or not) -  be resistant to Vance as the candidate?  Rather, he’s declared jihad on him and Trump. My suspicion is that Mandel and McIntosh have similarly favorable views of our dysfunctional national security apparatus. Or that someone has something over on both of them, as alluded to by Tucker Carlson. 

But the endorsements reveal all. It comes down to warmongers, or the military industrial complex types. Of course: 

Vance: Trump, Peter Thiel, Charlie Kirk of “Turning Point”, Gaetz, MTG, OH Sec of State LaRose, Sen. Hawley

Mandel: Gen Flynn, Ted Cruz, Mark Levin

Gibbons: Sen Rand Paul

Mark Levin has apoplectic that we haven’t started bombing Moscow. He thinks Biden has not done nearly enough and says: “We have been incredibly passive in the face of what Putin is doing.”  I think Biden’s been over-the-top in working to get us as close to a nuclear war as he can.

Ted Cruz is likewise full cry of the war party, like his buddies Tom Cotton and Lindsey Graham.  Birds of a feather...flock to Mandel.

April 20, 2022

The Big Lie about the Big Lie

Re: Trump and "the Big Lie". An analogy: mortgages were collateralized and leveraged by slicing all kinds of “good debt” and “bad debt” into financial instruments and sold widely as good and true and holy. Which led to the financial crisis. 

Similarly, we see how the media packages all kinds of truths and lies into one big statement (“the big lie”) that is sold and labeled as “the truth”. Which leads to further collapse of confidence in journalism.

So let’s all break out what is meant by the large leveraged statement of Trump's “big lie”:

Possible Trumpian lies:

1. "I won by a landslide”.  Judgement: Appears to be a lie or at best gross exaggeration. Even the good predictor Trafalagar poll done right before election showed only a narrow Trump electoral win. 

2. "The machines were rigged."Judgement: Could be true since machines can’t be audited except by Dominion and Dominion has shown itself unworthy of trust. Media likewise, so you have no check on them.

3. “The Election was rigged." Judgement: Yes, if by ‘rigged’ you mean takeover of key election counties by Zuckerberg. (This is the Hemingway distinction of “rigged” but not "stolen”.)

Basically by wrapping all 2020 election skeptisms into one “big lie” it effectively allows the media to sell a funhouse mirror version (if not overly successfully).  

One honest journalist (not conservative!), Christoper Leonard, funded by Schmidt Foundation through U of Missouri, had this to say on Brian Lamb’s podcast about the Hunter Biden laptop:

“I think the Hunter Biden story, to be honest, is a real black eye for my business. I’m not one to glibly second-guess print journalism editors who have such a hard job, but at the end of the day we have to own it as a big black eye. I’ll just go a little further, and maybe get myself in trouble here, but there’s a reporter named Peter Schweitzer, who is a conservative guy funded by conservative people. But he’s a heckuva reporter. And I’m looking at his book “Secret Empires” from 2018, which really unspooled in pretty solid detail a lot of Hunter Biden’s deeply problematic business relationships in China and Ukraine. And it was not picked up! The news is the news and the evidence is the evidence and we have to report things that make us uncomfortable or cut against our political preferences.” 

Imagine a dominant media who didn’t leave these topics to the amateurs: election vulnerabilities, the government’s role in Jan 6th vis-a-vis the Whitmer case, Hunter's laptop? (An exaggeration but funny line heard: "a nobody laptop repairman named Jon Paul Issac accomplished more than all journalism and intel community combined”.) 

But that is pie in sky. We’re back to where we were in 1800s with faction newspapers. I think it would be good to know how to navigate in this new environment, i.e. best practices for finding truth in an environment where every journalist is an activist, perhaps a scholarly look at 1800s journalism. (Did faction newspapers help lead to the Civil War?). 

One thing I’m hugely impressed by is the power of the media not so much in its ability to persuade as it is it’s potent ability to set the agenda, to decide what to suppress or talk about. All roads lead to journalism. I learned the hard way not to judge a news outfit by its (prestigious) cover or a college in the same way. Not too many go out of their way to seek out substacks and non-traditional places. In other words, you have to be your own journalist. 

April 19, 2022

Watching Rome Fall in Real-time

There are few things as fascinating as living during the fall of an empire. The long time questions: “how could Rome have possibly let it happen?” now are answered in real-time. 

In some ways it’s more explicable now simply because our leaders have a level of stupidity that the ancient Romans couldn't have had. Imagine one of their judges not to be able to answer the question, “how do you define a woman?”. And as bad as their military judgements were, our incomprehensibly bad pullout in Afghanistan has to be in the running. 

In the end the decline is likely as easy to understand as the quote I saw on Twitter: “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. Weak men create hard times.”  And so it goes, round and round and round. 

But I still have this insatiable desire to learn how to see this new completely foreign world we’re in.  Humans are meaning-seeking animals and I’d like to clue in to the big picture. 

Enter information warfare expert John Robb who has a rather unique view of things: 

“It was always kind of funny to see Trump and all these other folks during the 2020 election focus on election returns and saying they were manipulated, but the reality is the networks controlled the information flow and changed the outcome in 2020. What you saw with Trump - who had to have that direct contact with voters - was that he was heavily censored and muted and de-amplified. The outcome was largely determined by that. There was intervention on a grand scale, everyone was being controlled and the outcome achieved. 

What we’ve seen in the U.S. we see these big corporate networks have taken control of the stabilization of the U.S. Willingly the government has given them that authority and they are controlling the debate on the larger social issues, determining what is valid to talk about and what’s not, controlling election outcomes... Disconnecting the most powerful person in the world, President Trump, shows they were above everything. There’s the classic line where they say ‘the Constitution has been superseded by terms of service.’ Terms of service are now much more important to our future speech rights and everything else than our constitutional protections. And corporations can control whether we’re modern or not, or viable on a global scale or even personal scale.”

Why We Don't Make Things

Listened to podcast on a dog walk called “KunstlerCast” and a fellow named Tom Luongo lays it all out. 

“To continually grow global GDP we need to grow the supply of dollars in order to keep them both in reserve (in everybody’s central banks) and enough of them out there to flow to liquify global trade.  The dollar is three things: a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value. Where I think we went wrong with dollar reserve system is say that the dollar needs to be all three of those things at the same time concurrently. This leads to the issuing country of the world’s reserve currency has to run a constant trade deficit to liquify the world with enough dollars to keep global trade from collapsing. That’s where we are. That keeps the currency of account stronger than it should be because we’re exporting the inflation we should be experiencing because the dollars are all going overseas and it distorts terribly our economy and gives us the false sense that we don’t have to produce anything, all we have to do is produce money and then we get goods. We don’t have to make the goods themselves. Eventually the dollar should collapse but I don’t see it happening soon or rapidly.” 

April 18, 2022

Finally Making Sense of the Ukraine Invasion

Heard very interesting interview with John Robb, author of a book on modern network warfare. He talked about how the decline of the effectiveness of the nation state has left a vacuum that "networks" like corporations and social media groups have exploited. It's why the Russia/Ukraine war, which should've been a local skirmish, has become a worldwide existential threat.

He says that networks reveal the decline of religion in that since everyone now has a different conception of the good or what's right. Networks can then only solidify, be effective and have a purpose in common is to be against a common target. This happened Mubarak in Egypt, Occupy Wallstreet, Tea Party, and the anti-Trump Resistance folks. Whether it be Trump or Putin or Wall Street, the key is to have a common enemy that unites a disparate group.  This swarm/"hive mind" takes over and ends up leading the leaders. Which is why the hive keeps pushing Biden to further escalate with respect to Ukraine. 

Here's a key part of interview provides a simple explanation for why Ukraine has been a figure of obsession (hint: and it's not because they're white unlike the Yemenis!): 

Doug Casey: "This Russia/Ukraine conflict is basically a border war, the type of thing that has been going on in that part of the world for a thousand years.. a border war between two shithole countries that really shouldn't affect anybody. And in recent history in Europe I would've compared it to the succession of Kosovo from Serbia because this was a secessionist movement of Donbass from Ukraine for reasons that seem to me just as good as those of Kosovo breaking away from Serbia. And of course with Serbia the U.S. comes in and bombs the hell out of Serbia and that's fine, but the Russians try to protect the Donbass people and that's not fine. Is this just that the U.S. controls the world media rather than the Russians?”

Robb: "Yeah you could see it as a Slavic civil war between two relatively corrupt countries. It should've been just a subregional war. We could've sent arms into Ukraine to make it more expensive for Russia. Keep Russia connected to the world but at the same time help Ukraine. And that's the way it started out for a few days but we're in this world of networks and we had a large network of people, the Resistance, the anti-Trumpers who had been working on Russiagate. They put Trump and Putin together as a kind of existential threat to the West, the rise of authoritarianism around the world, so for the past five years they'd been working on creating this vision of evil such that when Russia invaded Ukraine it triggered them. All those years of casting Russia as the reason Trump was in office, that he'd already pretty much declared war on the U.S. by intervening in the 2016 election -- though if you looked at the stuff and the numbers it's not even a rounding error in the kind of propaganda we self-propagate. This network took it and amplified the war." 

April 16, 2022

A Poem and a Quote

The sun gesticulates

Cast-glances from the western window

Just before seven on a Saturday holy

Why so rare these late-day glints? 

Like the stones of Newgrange at equinox

Let it be writ in Columbus April sixteenth

The sun crouches low at seven

To bend to the sunroom’s dimensions. 


On why I like my suburban backyard even if it's a non-tropical savannah equivalent. From James Kunstler's "Living in the Long Emergency": 

“The savanna biomes around the world are the home of the majority of the world’s mammals. There are fewer mammals in a forest than there are in a grassland. There are more animals in the savanna than either. ‘And the human being basically loves the savanna,’ he continued. ‘That’s our homeland. It’s the Garden of Eden. It’s where we came from, the Olduvai Gorge, if you’re into the whole out-of-Africa genesis thing. And if you want proof that the savanna form is appealing to human beings, look at the golf course, you know, the lawn with the trees. It’s open underneath. We’ve got grass. We can see any predators come. We can climb trees for safety if we have to. There’s food on all the trees and shrubs, bushes, and vines. And there’s animals around. If we eat animals or use animal products, it’s all there. It’s a complete habitat for humans.’”

April 05, 2022

Politics and Poetry

My liberal brother-in-law recently wanted to “talk politics” but warned me not to use Fox News or any conservative outlet as my source. It's like we're speaking different languages.  I ruled out his sources of course so there’s not a lot to say.  I could tell him that all news is propaganda nowadays so we’ll have to wait till there’s journalism again. 

The difference between now and say, 2015, is that back then I was willing to give some credence to CBS, NY Times, etc... I felt like his networks were more established and credible and mine were more amateur and fly-by-night. It’d be like comparing Prudential Insurance to a small, iffy insurance company that only recently started.  But I’ve been greatly disabused of that notion in the interim. Don't judge by appearances.  It’s freeing, for sure, to no longer need to give any more credence to his sources than he gives to mine. 

I’ve heard that we’re merely going back to the 19th century in our history when newspapers were either Democrat or Republican and there was no pretense of objectivity.  So apparently it’s been done before although it would be nice to see a scholarly article based on our 19th century history on effects (beyond  polarization) of the bifurcation of media. (Well, there was a Civil War...hmm..)


Reading a book on the history of England and the author Joseph Pearce makes the point that I often forget, and one that applies also to America and Ireland as well as England since all are secular shadows of their former selves.  We think of history as “what was”, but it is all one moment to God. There is no past or future with God; all is simultaneous.  We ascribe firm categories of what was and what will be but those are fake distinctions.  True America is as much her Founding Fathers now as true Ireland is her saints and martyrs.  George Washington is as present to God now as Joe Biden so America is still as much Washington as Biden. 

Joseph Pearce writes of England: 

"We know that true England can never die, not because it lingers like a fading coal in the memory of mortal men, but because it exists as a beautiful flower in the gardens of eternity....England is not dependent on the awareness of those walking around in the geographical location of England today who have no clue what real England is."

I was glad to see the author of the hymn “Faith of Our Fathers” mention my own basis for my longterm hope in America (short-term despair of course):

Faith of our fathers,

Mary’s prayers,

Shall win our country back to thee;

And through the truth that comes from God,

England shall then indeed be free. 

In another Pearce book he makes the case for "wasting" time with poetry:

It might be prudent in a preface to a book entitled Poems Every Catholic Should Know to address the question of whether Catholics should bother to know poetry at all. We all live busy lives and we might feel that we don’t have time for anything but the most important things. Can we really claim that poetry is all that important? Don’t we have better things to do with our time?

In essence, St. Thomas shows us that humility is the beginning of wisdom because it is the necessary prerequisite for our eyes being opened to reality. One who has humility will have a sense of gratitude for his own existence and for the existence of all that he sees. This gratitude enables him to see with the eyes of wonder. The eyes that see with wonder will be moved to contemplation on the goodness, truth and beauty of the reality they see. Such contemplation leads to the greatest fruit of perception, which is what St. Thomas calls dilatatio, the dilation of the mind. It is this dilation, this opening of the mind to the depths of reality, which enables a person to live in communion with the fullness of goodness, truth and beauty. 

Let’s summarize: Humility leads to gratitude which sees with wonder, prompting the contemplation that leads to the dilation of the mind. 

Our modern obsession with social media might be seen as an infernal inversion of this true order of perception. If humility opens our eyes to reality, pride shuts them, blinding and binding us with the arrogance of our own ignorance. Pride, or narcissism, sees only itself or, more correctly, it sees everything in the light or darkness of its own self-centredness. 

It is myopic. It cannot see beyond its own self-centre of gravity. It lacks gratitude. Such ingratitude leads to the cynicism which cannot experience wonder nor see the beauty inherent in reality. This lack of wonder makes contemplation on the goodness, truth and beauty of reality impossible and therefore makes dilatatio unattainable. 

Once again, let’s summarize: Pride leads to ingratitude which lacks wonder, preventing contemplation and therefore closing instead of opening the mind. 

Another way of saying the same thing is to say that humility takes time while pride merely wastes it. 

Truly humble souls, filled with gratitude and wonder, take the time to stop in the midst of a busy day to sit in the presence of beauty. They open their eyes to the glories of God’s Creation and to the reflected and refracted glories of man’s sub-creation in art and literature, or else they close their eyes from all distraction so that they can listen to the singing of birds or the singing of choirs. Such time taken is the most joyful part of the day, a time when the mind communes with the reality of which it is a part. 

Prideful souls, lacking both gratitude and wonder, waste their time with mindless distraction after mindless distraction, filling the vacuum that their mindlessness.

If we wish to have minds open to the presence of God we need to take time and not waste it. We need to take time in the silence of prayer or the silence of poetry. We need more time with trees and less time with trash and trivia. A tree, or a flower, or a sunset are priceless gifts for which a lack of gratitude is a sin of omission. We cannot ever be wasting time when we’re taking it in wonder-filled contemplation. To be or not to be. That is the question. To be alive to the goodness, truth and beauty which surrounds us, or not to be alive to it. To delight in the presence of Creation so that we might dilate into the presence of the Creator or to distract ourselves to death.

March 30, 2022

Algorithm to Determine Congressional Passion on a Given Issue

Working on an algo to determine extent of Congressional passion on a given issue. So far I have three inputs: 

1. Does it affect them or their legacy? 

2. Does it affect how other kids in class see them, i.e. other global ruling elites? 

3. Can it be used against the other party to gain more power for themselves? 


0-10: Congress could not care a fig. 

10-20: Congress mildly interested.

20-30: Congress much interested.  


These criteria totally explicate why Jan 6th so excites Congress. It's sort of the off-the-richter scale event for Congress (scale 1-10): 

1. They were physically in the building, so 10. 

2. It was gigantic worldwide news and embarrassment so 10.

3. Can be used against Trump and any other political enemies so 10. This works both for Democrats and Republicans because most GOP officeholders want to Trump gone from scene. 

That score of 30 is the highest in U.S. recorded history! 


FBI/deep state against Trump, Russia hoax, etc... (Score 28)

1. Yes, politicians co-opted by Chinese money were hurt by Trump’s anti-China actions as well as their partners in military industrial complex due to Trump view of NATO and wars.  So 8. 

2. Yes, Trump hugely embarrassing to other kids in class, i.e. European rulers.  So a 10. 

3. Yes, to dethrone Trump this is definitionally true. So a 10. 

This is a 28, second highest. 


Kavanaugh hearing (Score: 20) 

1. Voting on SCOTUS candidates contributes hugely to their legacy. Everyone is watching: 9
2. Again, not much. Let's go 1 since Europeans don't care who is on court: 1
3. Yes, ding-ding-ding:  10

So that would be a score of 20. 


Election Security (score 14): 

1. Not so much. They successfully entered office under current voting system and see no reason to mess with it:  3
2. Europeans don't care about our voting system: 1
3. Yes can be used as weapon. 10


Decline of Manufacturing in U.S. (score 8): 

1. Not at all. Can still buy their BMW: 1
2. Europeans don't care what we build: 1
3. Both parties are globalist so hard to pin it on one: 6 


Balancing Federal Budget (score 5): 

1. No, doesn't affect them unless a default on debt:  2
2. No, doesn't embarrass them to run huge deficit as many other countries do too:  1 
3. Not so much because neither GOP nor Dems care about debt nowadays: 2

March 29, 2022

I Love Words

I think of how Eric Metaxas loves words, especially slightly unfamiliar ones, and I feel similarly. It seems an odd thing, to like words!  You can’t touch them and you can’t eat or drink them. You can’t store them in a vault and hope they appreciate in value. But I take comfort that it’s part of the ever quirky human condition.  

People have loved words since before they were written down; Homer spoke poetically some 5,000 years ago. God made us this way, or at least some of us.  The philosopher Rene Girard would say that all loves are give to us from others - if everyone valued ankles, ankles would become the body part most associated with sexual desire - so essentially it was probably a few authors in a few books in youth who transfused this affection in me.  

Partially though I think it’s a particular brand of writing that appeals - depictions of nature and of the senses.  Words are thus a conduit to relive actual experiences. The description of the beauty of trees or ocean merely triggers the feelings that I have in an actual forest or sea and so is derivative. Nearly everyone is in love with some form of nature, be it the sea or sun or moon or mountain. This is surely bred in us as well. Only humans create art and the cave dwellers 20,000 years ago drew - what else? - God’s creation.  It’s a way of extending the pleasure of scenery even when you aren’t in front of it. 

A couple examples from the Charlie Smith novel I’m reading:

She lay down on the yellowed sisal rug in the living room and listened to the little house geckos chirping like docents...Arise, she said silently, the Redeemer has come, and stopped in the kitchen—that still held its faded bundle of afternoon light like a sheaf of yellow seagrass in its arms...             

Stars everywhere like bristly bits tossed aside, crumbs.

March 28, 2022

Livin' in a Stupid Age

I think a decade or two ago Mark Shea or someone said, "we live in a stupid age." 

The last few years have been: "hold my beer". 

The asininity has reached stratospheric levels.  To borrow from Lino Rulli, it's not assi-nine it's ass-i-ten. 

How much longer till we see headline: "Local Obstetrician Tells Husband 'Don’t Bring Politics Into This' When Asked Sex of Newborn"?

Prayer is the main solution of course but I'm always under the semi-illusion of thinking money will solve problems. My longtime disdain for lawyers has abated; before I saw them as parasites but now see them as the only tool left in a insane society. 

Perhaps I’m naive but I think the last best hope for working through the system is being able to grassroots-fund lawyers who will fight for conservatives. Not that my pittance will make much difference anyway but but... it's like voting, you want your vote to count and not cancelled out by a fake one.  

Lawyers are like policemen in that the more amoral a country and its government becomes the more you need them. Obviously we need them desperately now, at least the ones willing to defend the likes of the Jan 6 protestors or to fight the courts to release documents and uncover corruption. The number of worthy charities explodes as injustice and oppression explodes.

How long till a Babylon Bee type headline: "DOJ Spokesman says "Jan 6 Trespassers Lucky to Get a Trial at All, Let Alone a Fair One”? 

Persuasion seems a joke at this point except for perhaps the small controlled experiment of a jury. The public at large is drunk off the media narrative. 

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum... the Left declared war on us. We were out there, mostly minding our own business, and suddenly all hell broke loose. Mostly because Americans committed the mortal sin of electing Donald Trump to the presidency. 

I'm amused by those who say that Trump is too divisive for '24.  It's like Britains saying in 1943 "Churchill is too divisive...let's put Neville Chamberlain in".  President DeSantis would become President Satan within two weeks of his inaugural.  At some point we've got to wake up to the reality that there's not going to be a "uniter" president because there's no way to unite fundamentally equal and opposite mindsets. Square, meet circle. 

March 21, 2022

Babylon Bee Created A Monster

I upgraded my Babylon Bee subscription and they gave me “headline writing rights”.  Which means I along with every other schlub can offer headlines which then get voted on Slido-style. 

Here are my potential entries…so far I’ve entered only the first two. Gotta spread the wealth:  


Minnesota Cop Used Lethal Force So Cleveland Indians Had To Change Their Name

Congress Gives Self 21% Raise To Offset Smaller Future Insider Trading Profits

Justice* Ketanji Brown’s Nameplate to Sport Asterisk Saying “Sex & Color Aided”

Trump Didn’t Make us Tired of Winning But Always Being Right is Getting a Little Boring

Male Swimmer Lia Thomas Would Be More Entertaining With a Falsetto

U.S. Elites Found to Have Been Flirting With Ukraine For Years, Hinting at NATO Marriage 

“American Hero” Job Has Been Outsourced to Zelensky

Six out of Ten Americans Would Prefer Ukraine Over West Virginia as U.S. State 


March 20, 2022

Put Not Your Trust In Code

Wall Street Journal inadvertently makes the case against Dominion voting machines:

“Both of these books re­veal the messi­ness be­hind crypto. Code may be law, but code is writ­ten by peo­ple. Crypto may be de­cen­tral­ized, but servers are still bought and run by peo­ple. Ethereum may be both ‘im­mutable’ and ‘self-gov­ern­ing,’ but when the code was hacked, his­tory proved plenty mu­ta­ble and the de­vel­op­ers who cre­ated the cur­rency were the ones who made the ul­ti­mate de­ci­sions.”  

March 13, 2022

Live-Tweets of the Hanks v Griswold Case

Ashe in America live-tweeted the Hanks v. Griswold hearing (Jena Griswold is the infamous Colorado Sec of State)... Griswold has been demonizing county clerks doing their job: 

Attorney for the Plaintiffs is speaking now.

Attorney is arguing the destruction of records violates the statutes.

Also argued the certification process.

Connecting Griswold to Obama. 

Claiming new evidence with the Elbert county image. 

Asking for forensic audit of Elbert and Douglas.

Talking about what Tina Peters did — I imagine this is going the route of “we can compare Elbert and Mesa”

On standing: Must have suffered injury.  May provide the requisite harm. Judge reading from a decision (Marks) against Sec Gessler (R) back in the day

Defense saying Marks is not relevant

Judge asks defense if they have an argument as to whether the system met the VSS 👀

(VSS = Voting Systems Standards)

I can’t believe this!!! He asked what the remedy is if true.

Defense: There’s lots of remedy with the Secretary of State.

Judge: If the Secretary fails to take action?

Judge: Does anyone other than the Secretary have standing and, if not why?

Defense: it has to be timely


Judge: so what’s the 35 day trigger?

Defense quoted statute that a verified petition would ...

State’s timing and standing arguments are destroyed by attorney Case!

Time limit is moot because Sec of State Griswold has repeatedly ignored evidence. She has the Mesa reports. Instead of investigating, she demonized clerk Peters, then clerk Schroeder, then clerk Klotz. 

But didn’t look at the evidence.

Now he is arguing administrative procedures — Jena’s assumed emergency rules.

Clerks are harmed when the SecState deletes their Election Data

Jena has prohibited clerks from hiring experts (emergency rules) which requires the Clerks to trust the SOS office.

Attorney Case: “What is she hiding?” 

Nailed it.

Secretary could have prevented this and failed to act. What were her motive?

Judge: so what’s the 35 day trigger?

Defense quoted statute that a verified petition would be an available remedy and the judge agreed.

Booooom!!  #logfileslivesmatter

Sounds like the clerks are going to have standing.

Judge: Do you agree the clerks have the duty to hold the data for 22 months?

Defense: No

Judge: a little more specificity?

Defense: You’re asking me to expand upon their allegations.

Judge just took his glasses off. In my head, it’s a good sign 😆❤️

Judge says SecState doesn’t have responsibility to preserve data to preserve records.

Judge: if they have a duty how do they not have standing

Defense: The law provides they have a duty but they are filing under the Apa which has different regulations.

Going for the technicality approach.

Ok judge questions for Case now.

Defense declines to say anything

Defense rests.

Judge to Case: We’re here to determine if there is standing and subject matter jurisdiction. Claim on rules (6th judicial review) arguably constrains the clerk and recorders. Do you believe the commissioners have standing?

Case: Yes, because they purchase the equipment. Purchasing decision means they can be harmed

Judge: obligation ends at funding

Case: Duties and responsibilities… and DEFECTIVE EQUIPMENT

Ok judge just said “oh actually, I understand your position.”

“Politics has no place in this courtroom and we will get to this as soon as possible.”


March 12, 2022

Sts Perpetua and Felicity

Words make things more real for me which is why, I think, Sts Perpetua and Felicity strike such a cord.  Their writings not that long after the death of the last apostle really bring home the actuality of their experience. 

Their deaths were in Carthage, now Tunisia. A big city on the Mediterranean Sea, just south of Italy. The “games” were there too, not just in Rome - “games” meaning spectacles of Christians fed to lions. 

The Roman emperor at the time was Septimius Severus who, after deposing and killing the incumbent emperor Didius Julianus, killed his other rivals for the crown. It’s unknown if the deaths of Christians in Carthage were local persecutions or empire-wide actions or decrees by Severus.


“With so many martyrs of the third and fourth centuries we have to say ‘they were martyred but nothing else is known about them.’ That is not the case here. We have a detailed contemporary account of their arrest, trial, sufferings and martyrdom, written partly by the saints themselves and partly by an eye-witness. Devotion to them spread rapidly and they are mentioned in the Roman Canon of the Mass.”

The 22-year old Perpetua wrote in prison about her father’s frustration that she would not renounce her Christianity which would only increase as her day of martyrdom drew near:

“Now when the day of the games drew near, there came in my father to me, spent with weariness, and began to pluck out his beard and throw it on the ground and to fall on his face cursing his years and saying such words as might move all creation. I was grieved for his unhappy old age.”

March 11, 2022

Quote on Twitter: "I think that in about 3 weeks the press could get the average American to support a genocide."

Interesting article in NY Sun about the civil war in the Republican Party. 

Two views of reality: “National Review thinks we can make peace with the liberals in debates over principles and policies, but we can’t go too far lest they call us radicals. The other side thinks we are in a wartime situation: the left wants to destroy us. That is a large difference.”

Another said the big difference is that “National Review thinks its job is to police the right, while the hard right thinks that our job is to defeat the left...This is infuriating because the left has Hollywood, the media, and the tech industry. Imagine trying to take on all of that and then be criticized by people who are supposed to be on your own side.” 

When did others make the u-turn and move off the mainstream GOP reservation?  My guesses: 

Pat Buchanan: 1990 

Victor D. Hansen: 2010

Tucker Carlson: 2013

Eric Metaxas: 2015

Mollie Hemingway : 2017

J.D. Vance: 2018


The problem with seeing the Left as an opponent of war is that it leads to further disintegration.  For example, the Left and the government will see the right as enemies of the state and thus feel well within their rights to punish and persecute the right. That is already happening with “lawfare” and judges who take it upon themselves to deny hard conservatives due process under the law.  

So you have to be sure before taking that plunge, especially with media, corporations, and government all against you. 

But on the other hand, to be in denial about what the Left wants is also dangerous. Being an ostrich has risks. To be naive towards Hitler in 1930s wasn’t a great strategy.

I don’t know what the answer is other than to pray and sacrifice that we get a religious revival. 

And the problem ever is always how to be angry with injustice and yet possess humility. 


St Augustine writing around 400 A.D., may as well be 2021:

"For I know very well what efforts are needed to persuade the proud how great the power of humility is. But by humility we reach a height—a height not grasped by human arrogance but granted by divine grace—which transcends all these earthly pinnacles that totter with the shifts of time. . . . This belongs to God alone, but the inflated spirit of human pride strives to claim it for itself I must also speak of the earthly city [of Rome]—the city which, when it seeks dominion, even though whole peoples are its slaves, is itself under the dominion of its very lust for domination."

We can see that with America. 

We once had sufficient humility not to go fight in the European war (WW1) until it was 3/4ths over.  Again in WW2, we waited over 2 long years before entering and then only after being attacked.  

We then had enough sense not to try to make the world in our image, not to try to be the utopian who would prefer to right every wrong (by killing). 

Now we positively itch for war - sometimes even starting them - whether it be Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, or now the drumbeats for Ukraine.  

The downfall of the U.S. is pride and the lack of respect for the limits of our power. (This even despite the continued demonstration of the weakness of that power - see Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan!) 

In our feverish desire for war, we’ve even made our economic co-dependence a weapon even though every Russian limb you cut off, you cut one off the rest of the world.

March 05, 2022

Earnestness in PJ O'Rourke and Matt Taibbi

The story of man is: sin - punishment - repentance.  Rinse and repeat. Both on a micro and macro level.  So it makes our current situation explicable. Every generation, after all, must start from scratch...we're back in the sin phase. America will be punished and then, ideally, repent. So hopefully I can tamp down my shock a bit. 

The word of the day is: earnestness.  God probably calls us to this more than I realize. This quality, according to John Podhoretz, was one of the things that made the late P.J. O’Rourke a mensch. O’Rourke never quite fit in, being an Ohioan amid a host of east coast Harvardians. Somehow O’Rourke managed to be earnest and yet funny. 

Earnestness is decidedly not a Gen X vibe. A couple days after hearing Podhoretz I read Matt Taibbi on this, flipping it around a bit: 

I grew up in the Cold War, one of those Gen-exers raised on Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse-Five and Dr. Strangelove to believe our hawks and their hawks were equally crazy. My generation’s orientation was ironic. We struggled with earnestness because we were there during the ten seconds it took for the Boomers who preceded us to go from being Marxist revolutionaries to Apple executives. The late seventies and eighties were a strange period in American history (a lucky one, I realize in hindsight, as I think about the world my kids are facing) when war was so distant that the fact that not enough people took it seriously as a policy option was a regular complaint of Washington experts. 

My generation, which smoked a lot of weed and listened to a lot of standup, mostly didn’t buy it. Being told since birth about the thousands of civilization-destroying missiles aimed at you by lunatics on both sides of the planet tends to decrease your patience for armchair-General Buck Turgidson types who argue that with a few engineering tweaks here and there, war can be a good idea again.

March 04, 2022

Anarcho-Tyranny and It's Discontents

Heard a term yesterday that I didn’t know existed describing a phenomena I only recently became aware of.  It’s sort of akin to if you went to the hospital with a serious injury and someone else with paper cut received priority and attention. 

It’s called “anarcho-tyranny” and is defined as “the dehumanizing state of affairs whereby the state refuses to stop violent crime, yet still vigorously enforces even the most unjust and petty laws against ordinary people.”

Really eye-opening since I had no idea this sort of thing was “a thing” until the way the Jan. 6rs were treated versus the BLM rioters.  The treatment of the Jan6rs could have been a shining example of our legal system playing no favorites but became the exact opposite. 

Instead of charging them to the fullest extent of the law and sentencing them based on those laws the DOJ has spent over a year now making them sweat either with home arrest or in D.C. jail, understanding well that the process is the punishment.  

One person, who did no violence and merely trespassed in the Capitol,  recently committed suicide after hearing the DOJ is asking for 50-70 months in prison. (“Consistency in sentencing” is the goal of the DOJ they say, which essentially means, “pretend there’s no difference between violent offenders and trespassers”.) 

We’ve come a long, long, long way from when the future president John Adams defended the British soldiers in the Boston Massacre simply because even they had the right to a fair and speedy trial. 

We’re seeing in realtime how the decline of a virtue plays out in a nation, namely in a lack of adherence to due process. I would not expect that from judges, who are supposed to be impartial and “above the fray”.  They are supposed to be the best we have and now that they’ve lost virtue well... Katie bar the door. 


More on anarcho-tyranny in Revolver News:  

“Anarcho-tyranny is why downtown D.C. was abandoned to a rioting horde last summer, most of whom will never be brought to justice, yet the largest manhunt in history seeks every person who walked into the Capitol on January 6. Anarcho-tyranny is why St. Louis only made an arrest in 29 percent of murders last year, but still brought felony charges against the McCloskeys for simply holding guns in the face of a braying mob.”

The term originated in the early ‘90s by Sam Francis, who was a Patrick Buchanan advisor back in the day and predicted that someone like Trump would come along sooner or later given the behavior of the elites.  On the term: 

He used it in the context of the crime wave of the early nineties, when armed drug gangs freely roamed American streets even as big government plotted to grab guns from regular Americans and ensnare the bourgeoisie in its regulatory and tax bureaucracy. It is a situation in which government does everything but what it is supposed to do, namely protect life and property.

March 02, 2022

Thoughts Shaken, Not Stirred

Interesting how neither JP2, Benedict, nor Trump could defeat their internal deep states. None could lift a finger against corruption despite three completely different skill sets/temperaments. Maybe the executive is impotent versus any bureaucracy? Or that we simply expect too much of our executive? 

Perhaps Pope Benedict himself kind of addresses this obliquely when he said a decade ago:  

“God grants to evil and to evildoers a large measure of freedom — too large, we might think. Even so, history does not slip through his fingers.”

That freedom God gives evildoers inevitably gives them power in the short-run. Is that power at all? The long run is where the power is. 


Interesting comment from a Catholic cardinal in a book I’m reading.  A reporter asked him, “what are we going to do about our Church?” And he replied, “The way you pose the question itself is wrong. You must recognize that this is not ‘our’ Church but ‘his’ Church. Christ said, ’This is my Church.’…” 


Heard Donny & Marie Osmond’s “Morning Side of the Mountain” song and thought about how it could be a model for the story of God and man except for missing the happy ending in the latter story. That song was kind of plaintive as a kid so it’s nice that now I can see it now as resolvable in the light of eternity. 

The song was written by a Jewish Russian emigre named Samuel Medoff in the 1950s. To read way too much into it, it’s almost like the lack of resolution between the morning side and the twilight side was a wait for the messiah! His co-writer, Larry Stock, was second generation via Hungary, and it might’ve been Stock who had the melancholic streak, as he was a co-writer of a more famous song: “Blueberry Hill”, with the lyrics: “The wind in the willow played / Love's sweet melody / But all of those vows you made / Were never to be.” 

I also listened to "Whiskey River” and there’s a riff in that Willie Nelson that sounded suspiciously similar to one in Barry Manilow’s “I Write the Songs” that came out two years later. I think The Beach Boys Bruce Johnston, who wrote the Manilow song, was listening to Nelson..

February 22, 2022

Obama's '13 Voting Commission & Jena Griswold

So let’s review the remarkable ascent of Colorado Sec of State Jena Griswold in light of the presidential commission on voting that Obama launched in 2013. 

The 2012 presidential election was presumably a closer call than Obama would’ve liked so only a few weeks into his second term he announced a committee to examine voting difficulties and voting technology. 

Obama’s panel was bipartisan in that it included Ben Ginsberg, a Republican lawyer who had just submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in favor of gay marriage. He was a Romney guy and as establishment Republican as establishment Republicans get.  

The team also included Tammy Patrick, the “compliance” officer for notorious Maricopa county. She was not in the compliance role in 2020 but Maricopa is the poster child for non-transparency and lack of vote-custody. Not a confidence-builder.  Also included are Larry Lomax from Nevada and Christopher Thomas from Michigan which means AZ, MI, NV - all swing states, two trending red - got represented.

Larry Lomax is noteworthy for seeing the key issue (unsure if he saw it 2013 but he certainly at some point). He says: 

 “The core problem for our fragile elections framework is secrecy: withholding from the public the evidence needed to authenticate whether results are true.”

In other words, we have an un-auditable system. 

He started an election watch website here.  (Naturally, Google search results have scrubbed blackbox voting from its results.  It’s the top hit for duckduckgo with term: “larry lomax blackbox voting”). 

Now just as the commission was starting its work Gov. Hickenlooper created a new position for Obama’s “voter protection” attorney Jena Griswold.  She was appointed as a “liaison to the federal government” and moved to D.C.

Hickenlooper likely became close with Obama when he was an executive member of the 2008 Dem convention hosted in Denver.  Hickenlooper didn't lack shyness in his partisanship. Wikipedia has it: “In a controversial move decried by critics as breaching partisan ethics, the Hickenlooper administration arranged for the DNC host committee, a private nonprofit organization, to get untaxed fuel from Denver city-owned pumps.” 

Griswold worked as liaison and then, according to a Colorado Democrat article, “work[ed] as outside counsel to a company she wouldn’t name and work[ed] on public policy issues as part of her firm, Griswold Strategies.”

Her juice, even as a 32-year old, must’ve been impressive (Obama-influenced?) because:

“The first-time candidate is one of two Democrats in the race to replace Williams but enters with the support of more than 20 current and former party officials, including Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, former House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, House Majority Leader KC Becker, former U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey and former Lt. Governor Gail Schoettler.”

So it wouldn't be difficult to imagine that Obama wanted, going forward, a more comfortable Democrat vote advantage and the route to that was understanding the machinery in order to leverage any advantage they could find (later: Zuckerberg dropboxes!).  Towards that end, Obama not only inaugurated a presidential commission but perhaps asked Hickenlooper to create a D.C. job for Griswold, his former voter protection lawyer, for mentoring and seasoning to prepare her to be the chief overseer of elections in the state of Colorado. 

February 20, 2022

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Trump

Joe Oltmann mentioned recently that he voted for Obama in '08 so there's been quite a political evolution for him.  To a lesser extent I had one too since I was anti-Trump in '15 and '16.  I wondered if I could pinpoint the moment I red-pilled and discovered: " Trump is more sinned against than sinning. And he's not been bad with his judges and policies." Perhaps my experience is representative of the millions who didn't vote Trump in '16 but did in '20. 

I would've guessed the turn came when the "empty vault" Mueller report came out but it looks like it was well before then mainly due to the combination of Trump having decent policies and the shock and awe of a corrupt press / intel services that didn't give Trump a chance. 

A singular moment seems to have been the Kavanaugh nomination.  It basically hit both points simultaneously: conscienceless Democrats on the Judiciary combined with the perseverance of Trump in sticking with Kavanaugh. 

But the Russia collusion collapse - which occurred essentially late 2017/early 2018 when we learned the Steele dossier was a joke and that Strzok and Page were also a joke - really opened my eyes and was a huge civics lesson. No one teaches in school - yet! - about the fourth branch of government.  

(And I feel "better" about that to some extent simply knowing how it came to be, i.e. that intelligence became god when digital became king. See these paragraphs from above link:)

"Once you accept the digital-era intelligence apparatus of China, Russia, Saudi-Arabia, The United States and Israel, are now the primary national security mechanisms for stabilization of government; then you accept the importance of those intelligence operations.

Once you understand how foundational those modern intelligence operations have become for the stability and continuity of those governments…… then you begin to understand just how the United States intelligence community became more important than the government that created it."

But, moving back to 2017 and 2018, here was my evolution which was heavily influenced by media and Comey: 


Electing Trump seemed like a turd sandwich but I do find it refreshing that someone isn't playing by the media handbook: Republicans generally act like eunuchs before the liberal media masters, but Trump sure has blown that up, sometimes for good, sometimes ill.  Falling Trump poll numbers are a puzzlement. He seems same Trump to me. If people expected him to change, then my approval rating of them (not Trump) sinks. 

His performance at the press conference was the stuff of wonder if only because he's taken authenticity and casualness to a new level.  Casualness with the truth, for sure, but also casualness as far as just being himself, not putting on airs, just acting like he wasn't at a press conference but at his backyard barbecue.  Only he was frying reporters, not burgers.  It's no small thing to be the first casual president. 


The way I've been lately looking at it is Trump is entitled, so to speak, to be fallible. That I have to put up with him as president just as my wife has to put up with me. Not to overlook flaws certainly but at least to understand he has them and thus write them off to some extent. "He's just being Trump," I think. 

I have to say I love the way Trump thinks outside the box as far as skipping things other GOP folks would take for granted: like getting abused at liberal White House Correspondent's dinner (basically a commercial for liberalism given comedians are almost always lefties).

I think it never occurred to other GOP'rs because they have a case of Stockholm Syndrome and like getting abused by their media captors.


I'm amused by the just desserts ol' Trumpenstein is receiving. Be careful what you wish for - in this case, the presidency.  It still rankles me that he brought up birtherism as a way to insinuate him into the hearts if not minds of primary voters, but anyway...

More to the point, he naively and blithely went into the election with things to hide (obviously) and figured his man Jeff Sessions would protect him from all harm.  Sessions doesn't play the game and recuses himself, opening the way for Comey to take over, leading inexorably to Trump firing him, leading inexorably to a special prosector, or for Trump a special persecutor.  That Trump would still be harboring an obsession against Sessions defies belief since no one cares about Sessions except Sessions' family (and Donald).


With the Trump nomination, Republican primary voters finally got exhausted with the long project of trying to go along by getting along, by buying into the Democrat premise that Republicans needed to do better on diversity, racial accord, political correctness, such as how Romney could scarcely defend himself from charges he was involved in a war against women, which later was “confirmed” by stray comment showing his dedication to the Democrat ideal of patronizing women and minorities by saying he had “binders full of women” on his short list for some office. 

There comes a time when even conservationists no longer want to conserve the current environment. I thought Trump was a mistake until I began to marvel at a world in which a Republican president felt free enough to speak his mind with such candor (if not with overly much truthfulness). It was a modest revelation and a guilty pleasure. Trump reminds me of the citizen legislator who isn’t there for a career and is wiling to be unpopular. 


Am enjoying the fix Trump is in way, way too much. He put himself into quite a pickle, one that money and power can''t free him from.  The wheels of justice are turning.  Character usually gets revealed, but rarely so quickly as in the case of Trump after he fired Comey and now wants to fire Sessions.  The anger at Sessions is a "smoking gun" inasmuch as Comey probably deserved getting fired while Sessions did nothing but do the honorable and customary thing and recuse himself given the conflict of interest. Even Breitbart and Limbaugh are troubled by his throwing Sessions under the bus. The country may get the best (and underserved) deal of all - neither Trump or Shrillary but Pence for much of the 4-year term.  


I told Ron that Trump’s first year has been a pretty decent one. I may have to eat my words about my anti-Trumpism pre-presidency.  Especially since I don’t care about Trumpian tweets and I wish the media would just ignore them.  Of course still three years left, an eon in politics. But he’s proving anyone can do that job.  


Read book with a clip in it about how Justice Scalia liked Trump run in ‘16, seeing it a refreshing turn of events in our heavily scripted, politically-correct time.

Indeed for me, the best thing about Trump is what upsets so many others - his candor, including the comment on “sh-thole countries”.  What bothers me is that he lies repeatedly, to put it mildly.  It’s ironic that from Trump you’re more likely to hear the truth or lies, compared to the lukewarm boilerplate of “real” politicians. 


I continue to find nothing to listen to in morning politics - Morning Joe horrible, Fox and Friends boring.  Been listening to Breitbart radio some; sort of refreshing to hear something where Trump isn’t the lovechild of Hitler and the Devil.  I was very open to the whole Russian collusion thing and possibly throwing Trump out, but now I’m done and I think the country needs to move on and do four years with Trump. 


Interesting summary from Ron’s friend on what looks like a scam: "All this Russia collusion is an attempt to cover up the fact that the Obama administration, the intelligence community, the DNC, along with the mainstream media used our nations surveillance as a political tool to try to get Hilliary elected President. This makes Watergate look like a kindergarten play."


My feelings on Trump hardened early by a steady diet of National Review and Morning Joe.   (Although in fairness to me, the thing that initially turned me against Trump was his birtherism, which pre-dates the negativity from National Review & MJ. ) But there’s no doubt that hearing only the case against Trump was an imbalance that I’ve since tried to rectify in very small doses, by reading parts of positive books about Trump and his voters.  The plain fact is that I appear captured by the media.


Ross Douthat in the NYT said that the Barrett interview with Trump reportedly went horribly (a credit to Barrett, ha) and Douthat said it’s not surprising to him that Trump and a devout Catholic mother of seven didn’t get along too well.


France has been an interesting inversion of the Trump phenomenon. I started out in love with Pope Francis and now struggle to like him, while with Trump an initial strong loathing has become an acceptance of his faults.

They don't care what others think. Ultimately when you ain’t got nothing (meaning no love or respect from elites with Trump, and none from more “conservative” cardinals and bishops with Francis) then you got nothing to lose.


Listened to more Morning Joe this morning and it occurred to me part of the issue is the criminalization of politics, how these senators don’t want a Trump pick on the Court and therefore want endless investigations to delay and destroy. They’re desperate to unseat Trump similarly by endless investigations. If you can’t get your way via the ballot box then the thinking is to use the court system or Justice department.  

I’m certainly on the Trump train now given the alternatives. I’d been skeptical of the notion that Republicans like McCain and Romney had been patsies by passively accepting the liberal media environment because it seemed a realistic strategy.  Live with the bias and try not to  “provoke the beast” and reap a whirlwind from those who buy their ink by the barrel, to mix metaphors.  But the problem with that is that it’s like paying protection money to a mafia goon - eventually they keeps upping the price. 

But Trump has shown “the art of the possible”, that it is possible to win the presidency without begging for crumbs of praise and recognition from Andrea Mitchell.  


I think Trump has been the best president we've had since Reagan (low bar). I think so far he's been far superior to W. Bush, Clinton, Obama. And broken promises don't bother me that much since I didn't expect them to be fulfilled (like the wall). 

Heard interview with Glenn Beck and how he found his way to Trump in '20 after rejecting him in '16. He said plainly that he had no record to go on with Trump before the first election and therefore was able to change his opinion as the Trump term went on. Seems Trump's actions with respect to Israel in late '17 and early '18 helped change his mind. Likewise his plainspokenness on abortion, etc... And, of course, the combination of someone in the GOP having a spine versus the radicalization of the Dem party made '20 an easy choice for him. 

February 13, 2022

Joe Oltmann on Susan Rice

I’d read that Susan Rice was dangerous and not to be trusted and so I was relieved when she wasn’t picked as VP.  Probably doesn’t matter given her influence is probably greater than Kamala’s now. 

Here is Joe Oltmann’s take:


“Here is something I know very well to be true. Susan Rice is a bad bad person. While at the UN after then Sudanese President Al Bashir slighted her attempts to interfere with the sovereignty of their nation, created the story of ethnic cleansing and genocide in Darfur, Sudan. That westerner story led to the development of Save Darfur, th sham organization that centered around saving what does not exist. To the tune of billions of dollars. It led to an ICC indictment for state sponsored genocide. An indictment that was ultimately dismissed, until… they could finally topple a nation with massive natural resources. Susan Rice is at the middle of many of the international fables that have led to death and destruction of millions of innocent people and the narratives designed to steal resources and rule over other nations. She is a demon among demons and was once described to me as a sociopath with no limits on what she would do for power. Fast forward to today… there is talk that Susan Rice is behind the Biden shell of a man. There is also talk of unity with Susan Rice. I cannot imagine a more demonic person.

Sanctions in Sudan led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese. Sanctions that were based on wars with South Sudan over the Christians verses Muslims battle, that was largely non existent. Sanctions over a lie in Darfur. Many do not know the truth… but I do. I was there. I spoke up then, I wrote white papers, I traveled without a passport, I was there under the mission of sharing Jesus. Yet that is not what I was doing… I was learning truth.

I wrote a paper on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and another on whether or not their was ethnic cleansing and genocide in Sudan. I included information about the nearly 50 Darfurian rebel groups, the Janjaweed, Chadian rebels, Libyan army… and the tribal conflict of the region. I wrote a paper that said there was no ethnic cleansing. There was no state sponsored genocide. But the narrative in the US… set by the intelligence or lack there of. A CIA linked journalist said to me, “why can’t you respect the institution of government?” Well… I’ve seen them lie about everything and seen them kill children. I’ve seen them enact strategies that literally caused commercial planes to fall out of the sky killing innocent people.

So back to Susan Rice. She’s a very bad person. The institution of the deep state does not differentiate Republicans and Democrats… it is a cabal thirsty for power and money. Wings of the same bird…

Once you understand you are an inconvenient necessity for the institutions of power, you will understand that God is in complete contradiction to who they are and what they represent.

Become the person who chooses to stand against the establishment and with your fellow Americans. Choose God first, choose courage and choose to stand with each other in the gap and hold these evil terrorists responsible.” 

January 20, 2022

The Quaint Recording of Modern Presidencies

I recall learning about the presidents in school and being awed by the office and its history but I think something fundamentally changed in 1992 with Bill Clinton. If it wasn’t quite the end of history it was somehow the end of the presidency as we know it; even bothering to record the history now seems sort of quaint, as if we’re assigning more importance to them than is due. They are more or less just random people plucked out of obscurity, like American Idol singers.  It doesn’t help, perhaps, that their supporting cast of Congressmen and women have been like bad contestants on “The Gong Show”. 

Now the office looks small, the grandeur non-existent.  Clinton was smart of course, but also a sexual predator who seemed more interested in himself than America.  Then we had a lightweight George W. Bush who got high on his own supply of utopianism, followed by “an elite dude found randomly on the street” in Obama (his claim to fame having been not swallowing the Bush drug of utopianism on Iraq), followed by the ever cartoonish Trump, and now finally (appropriately?) the Weekend at Bernie’s president.  

Perhaps for everyone this is true, that you grow up esteeming leaders until you find they have feet of clay.  Certainly the reverence for JFK and respect for LBJ fell off a cliff by the ‘70s.  LBJ seemed like something of a vulgarian and JFK had his appetites.  

January 19, 2022

Ray Epps and the Life of Reilly

Kind of humorous how the “Where’s Ray Epps?” meme has gotten the attention of the bad guys (FBI and 1/6 committee).   The committee said, “oh, don’t worry about him, we talked to him back in November. Nothing to see here.”. Then with amazing speed a week later they reversed course and now Friday they’ll be speaking with him on the record.  As if that would happen without the rightwing laughter at their inattention. 

Epps is said to have called the FBI on his own on 1/8/2020 and the FBI was satisfied he was a good guy and they’d merely “forgotten” to take him off the Most Wanted list for six months -- that is until a week the Revolver story on Epps. 

You get the impression they’re all just winging it, just throwing a ton of lies out and seeing what will stick and what they’ll have to “massage”.  

The DOJ  also felt called upon to charge someone, anyone, with a crime higher than the small charges they’ve come up with so they went with “sedition” on an Oath Keeper after letting him run free for a year.  Quite the delayed reaction, especially given the enormous resources being expended on 1/6. 

I’m sure the government wants to make an example of the 1/6rs, a shown of power.  But it really shows weakness, just the pathetic actions of a bully against folks without money or decent legal representation.  

We’re also getting a window on part of why they’ve dragged their feet for so long - -they don’t want all the video evidence coming out to show the Feds were involved. An Ashli Babbitt video surfaced showing her chatting with police and trying to calm other protestors. 

As journalist (former National Review'r) Julie Kelly wrote today:

"As more people slowly accept the idea that January 6 was an inside job, they want Republicans to investigate the truth when they take the House this year. None thinks this Republican leadership will do it. That’s a huge problem.”


Civil wars rarely happen in aging societies so I suppose we’re all going to be together like it or not.  But the hope is what Joe Oltmann said the other day: 

“They said we are headed to a civil war. I would argue we are headed to a great reckoning of recognizing our leadership is the enemy, not fellow Americans.”

January 18, 2022

The Sharing Miracle at Cana

The gospel about the wedding at Cana must be especially mysterious given how many homilists have missed the whole point of it.  As a priest on Twitter wrote:

It’s one thing to say that Yahweh is Lord, the God who will free us from our enemies and lead us to the promised land. But it’s really something else to read the most mystical and erotic of books in the Old Testament, the Song of Songs, a long poem of romantic discourse between a groom and his bride, and believe it is rally to be about God’s love for Israel.

Not a book for children, this one. But a book for lovers, which is why it is in the Bible. Which is why saints and mystics over the years have judged it to be full of some of the greatest words in all of Scripture. 

The Miracle of the Wedding of Cana is not so much about thirst or party planning, but about the faithfulness of the bridegroom... We begin to realize: there is another wedding being alluded to here... when Jesus’ hour arrives and he offers his body and blood for his bride. 


Hmm.... so the miracle at Cana wasn’t just a lot of folks sharing from the wine flasks they had in their cloaks?  Asking for a friend. 

January 14, 2022

The Great Winnowing

I must be extremely naive because here is a list of people I've trusted in the past: 

---Dr Fauci in 2020, our likable trustworthy uncle. 

---Joe Biden, in 2020, whom I’d trusted to be a sane, moderate president.  

---Dr Francis Collins at NIH, a professing Christian. 

          ---George W. Bush on WMDs in 2003 and to not call Republicans terrorists in 2020. 

          ---Dick Cheney in 2000, who I thought was a wise and experienced leader. (Ha!) 

          ---The modern FBI - after Hoover left. 

---The crew at National Review, where I’d been a subscriber for two decades but no more. Particularly Rich Lowry, under whose editorship there was not a debunking of election fraud (which would’ve been helpful to sort the wheat from chaff) but utter indifference. Similarly a lack of outrage over the criminals in our government with 1/6 and the rioters. (Same with Jonah Goldberg & David French.)

Some serious egg on my face.  

Other shocks: 

---James Comey and Robert Mueller who, without a smidgeon of shame tried to ruin Trump’s presidency.  

---The FBI who now has entered the game of enticing and entrapping rioters for fun and profit and spies on its citizens including journalists like Tucker Carlson.  

---Dominion Voting, a company responsible for nearly a third of our voting, cared so little about democracy and vetting their security chief that they hired a psychopath and antifa member. 

---The stunning refusal of Maricopa county to comply with subpoenas which directed them to provide routers to ascertain vote fraud. Similarly, ballot images, election related databases, result files, and log files were deleted just before being handed over. 

          ---The January 6th committee: you'd need an electron microscope to find any credibility therein.  

---Pope Francis, overseeing a church that is falling apart, goes out of his way to crush the Latin Mass. 

But there be heroes: 

---The heroism of folks like Eric Metaxas, Mike Lindell, Joe Oltmann and Lin Wood who gave up their professional reputations and much of their current earning potential in order to exercise their first amendment rights. 

---The stellar investigative reporting from Julie Kelly and others on 1/6. 

---The inspiring concern of Matt Braynard towards the political prisoners held in D.C.

---The courage of President Trump in not meekly accepting the double-standard that applies to all conservatives, up to and including not accepting election results, something Gore, Clinton, Abrahms and many others on the left have done in the past. 

---The many parents who have run for school board or gone to school board meetings to speak.  

          ---Priests who held masses and heard confessions during covid lockdowns. 

---The countless hours spent by so many volunteers in attempting to do a forensic audit in Arizona.  

January 12, 2022

The Bubbling Up of Truth

Kind of heartening to see that truth, like water, manages to make its way despite the obstacles and dams our elites put up.  Interesting to see the chain of information work its magic even without the help of conservative or mainstream media.  At least now we have a U.S. Senator (Ted Cruz) grilling the head of the FBI about who Ray Epps is and how many FBI people were aiding and inciting violence on 1/6. Theatre, for sure, but it's got to start there. 

To watch how the info bubbled up is interesting. No conservative magazine let alone liberal outfit would touch the Ray Epps story or how there were FBI inciting rioters to crimes.  It all fell to a rinky-dink website called “The Revolver”. But that unknown site caught fire.  It slowly made its way up Trump-friendly media. It got picked up by American Greatness. It got picked up by the fearless Tucker Carlson, who mentioned Ray Epps to Ted Cruz.  And Cruz, whether playing simply for the crowd or not had some words for the FBI head. Likely nothing will come further since the FBI is impervious to discipline. I mean, if they used a dossier they knew was fake to try to bring down a president, then what would they fear from a congressman?  

But the lesson is that without fringe, alternative news sources there would be no questions from Cruz on it. National Review is an example of respectable but useless publication since if they can’t feign interest in civil liberties and protection of citizens from the state then what good are they? 

The money quote is from Julie Kelly on the Eric Metaxas show: 

"There’s no condemnation from National Review of this abusive, punitive, prosecution of hundreds of Americans in a political prison in the shadows of the U.S. Capitol...I think a lot of it is laziness. I think these people are just in their safe little sinecures, they get paid by big donors, they don’t have to do the detailed investigative work. I don’t think anyone at National Review has listened to one court hearing about January 6th. Their reporting on this is very thin and to the extent any is involved it condemns Donald Trump and Republicans.” 

Seems a reasonable deduction. I came to a similar conclusion during the post-election when they had zero interest in the subject of election fraud despite at least 70% of Republicans being very interested in it.  If they weren’t lazy, they’d serve their readership. Or perhaps they did serve whom they were interested in serving: their big donors. 

National Review went from being anti-Trump in ’15 and then coming around during the Trump years in defending him to some extent. They turned on him the minute he left office. Less about truth than politics.  But that’s a defining characteristic of our time - it’s extremely difficult to treat corruption used in service of defeating an enemy as anything less than good.  It's shame on all of us. 

This has certainly broken my own partisanship. I would vote for Tulsi Gabbard or Andrew Yang or Bernie Sanders before Bush, French or Kasich.  That is certainly a new attitude for me.  I've finally come around to the view the great Tom of Disputations had many years ago: vote for the person with the best character regardless of party. And there are few tests of character more obvious than how you view the least of our brothers being stripped of due process.

It's likewise a test of character to take the concerns of the "deplorables" about election fraud seriously. It's a test of character when you promote trade policy that kowtows to China and makes millionaires into billionaires while stripping thousands of blue collar jobs. 

Ideally election security would be of interest no matter who the candidate was.  Likewise you’d think the story of the Feds helping to trigger a riot would be interesting no matter how repulsive the political rioters. Obviously that’s not the way the real world works. But National Review showed itself as indifferent to the rule of law and there’s the rub - it used to be their brand.