This ‘n’ that

A few notes to hopefully provoke your thinking today:

I’ve thought for some time that our nation’s enemies use our desire for civility and decorum to handicap us in the culture war.  When the other side says “have you no decency,” it’s usually a dodge to avoid being accountable for their own actions.  It seems I’m not alone in thinking so:

…while appropriate restraint is always a part of this consideration, we go too far when we decide that we must always adhere to every aspect of a dying civility no matter the cost. Failing to openly defy the Left’s blatant aggression does not preserve civility — it only emboldens the uncivil and betrays their victims.

…civility is not a moral absolute and its form is always adjusting along with culture, it’s requirements are determined primarily by social contract — the kind of behavior we all implicitly or explicitly agree to when interacting with one another.   …when one party violates a contract, the other party is no longer bound by all of its terms. If you sign a contract to buy a car, and the dealer refuses to turn it over you, you aren’t “sinking to their level” by refusing to hand over your money. If you contract an employee who never shows up for work, you aren’t “repaying evil for evil” by withholding his wages. The same is true when dealing with people who are deliberately uncivil to civil people — it fundamentally changes what the rest of society owes them.

We need to stop taking the lazy road of “be civil though the heavens fall” and begin being deliberate about when to be civil — and when not to be.  For starters, I suggest the following guidelines…  (read the whole post here)

One of the biggest areas in which ‘civility’ and emotional blackmail is used against us is in the area of immigration.  So it’s nice to see the rest of the world COMBINED recently took in more refugees than the U.S. for the first time in 38 years.  Keep that little factoid handy for the next time your Leftist acquaintance decries the supposed ‘heartlessness’ of the U.S.

Leftists also demand expensive judicial proceedings for everyone who shows up on our borderlands, in order to accord them “due process rights.”  Turns out the Supreme Court has ruled consistently since the late 1800s that non-citizens are not entitled automatically to the same expensive access to our judicial system that citizens have.  Another handy note to have in countering our enemies’ talking points (and yes, I’m calling them enemies now.  Their actions show it’s an accurate term, whether using it is civil or not).

One reason the media are held in such contempt today is the realization they, too, have broken the social contract.  Presenting slanted information while claiming to be impartial is hardly being ‘civil.’  Yet the Associated Press seems to have done it again, trying to tug heartstrings by claiming the military is ‘discharging’ immigrants rather than allowing them to become citizens.  But it turns out there is more to this than the AP would have you know, including the fact that ‘discharge’ is not the appropriate word for someone who hasn’t even been to Basic Training yet.  But remember, kids, “fake news” is only a Trump laugh line…

Finally, for those of us who aren’t tired of winning yet, the economy is strengthening to the point labor is becoming in short supply — and hence, more valuable and lucrative.  Could it be that allowing thousands of people to flow into our nation unchecked each month helped depress wages for decades?  Inquiring minds should want to know…

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Sounding a Mayday

A new memoir by retired Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz revisits the decision by then-Secretary Robert Gates to shut down the F-22 Raptor production line well short of the service’s calculated minimum operational requirement.  The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been tremendously expensive for the United States, both in lives and money.  As time goes on, we may find the largest cost of those conflicts was to cause such an intense focus on counterinsurgency warfare that our higher-end capabilities were allowed to atrophy.  Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States has considered Russia and China “near peer competitors” — in short, not quite the superpower America is.  That situation is changing more rapidly than many planners anticipated even a decade ago.  China fielded its first operational stealth aircraft years before expected.  While they are still having some growing pains, this development invalidated some of the reasoning behind shutting down the F-22 — that the U.S. Air Force was largely untouchable.

…Schwartz’s predecessor General Mike Moseley “never gave up in his principled attempts to get those 381 F-22s” the book states. That push ended up getting Moseley fired along with his civilian counterpart, Air Force Secretary Mike Wynn. After the culling, the brass thought that the new bomber was simply too important and that the chances of winning both the F-22 and bomber arguments with Gates, who was staunchly averse to building high-priced weapons that couldn’t be used in Iraq or Afghanistan, was next to zero.

Schwartz, in an attempt to see if a reduced F-22 production number would be palatable to the Defense Secretary, executed an independent assessment that ended up stating 243 F-22s was the absolute minimum the force could get by with. But Gates balked at that number as well.

In the end, the production line was shut down after only 188 Raptors were built.  The F-22 is designed to ensure air supremacy by sweeping adversaries’ aircraft from the skies.  For context, it is assuming that role from the 1970s-vintage F-15 Eagle, of which the Air Force procured nearly 900 over the decades since its debut.  That number does not include the 225 F-15E “Strike Eagles” specially designed with more focus on ground attack missions than air-to-air operations.  The F-15 production line continues to operate today, fielding orders from major U.S. allies more than a dozen years after the United States bought its last Eagle.

In short, the U.S. bought far too few Raptors, and now has no option to build more (the production line having been dismantled).  The Air Force was able to replenish its F-15 fleet over the years, purchasing newer aircraft and retiring older airframes.  This will not be an option for the F-22 design, as reopening production is cost-prohibitive.  As a result of this shortfall, the Air Force has kept a large number of F-15s in service as teammates to the Raptor.  But this generates the cost of maintaining four distinct fighter platforms: the F-22, the F-15, the smaller F-16 (most known for its use by the Thunderbird Demonstration Team), and the new F-35 attack aircraft.  The F-15 and F-16 were built concurrently as a “high-low” mix: a smaller number of highly capable F-15s to defeat enemy air forces, and considerably more of the less capable (and less expensive) F-16s to operate in a mostly “permissive” environment.  The same approach was intended for the F-22 and F-35.  With the premature closure of the F-22 line, the Air Force has to choose between keeping the F-15s around longer (adding to budget strain), or shifting some of their air superiority mission to the larger (but less capable) F-16 fleet until sufficient numbers of stealthy F-35s are flying.

This was not the first time the U.S. shot itself in the foot while buying a major aircraft system.  The B-2 bomber, which critics love to point out cost more per unit than any aircraft in history, was originally supposed to be a fleet of 100 aircraft.  Rattled by the program cost at a time the Cold War was winding down, Congress funding the Air Force for only 21 (of which only 19 are in operation today).  After 9/11 the system proved far more versatile than its original mission of nuclear combat with the Soviet Union, flying incredibly long missions non-stop from the U.S. to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere.  Instead of 16 nuclear weapons, the aircraft can carry up to 80 satellite-guided 500-pound bombs, accurately hitting scores of targets on each mission.  Such capability creates high demand, but with such a small fleet these demands have worn out the B-2 force and the Air Force is scrambling to produce a replacement system as mentioned in the book excerpt above.  It’s arguable an original fleet of 100 aircraft would have reduced or eliminated the need for another design procurement this soon.

But such is the “penny-wise, pound-foolish” ways of government acquisition.  The F-22 and B-2 are arguably the most advanced and capable aircraft ever built — and no more of either can be produced because the facilities have shut down.  It has been 65 years since an American soldier was lost to enemy airpower — in 1953, during the Korean War.  Three generations of military planners have been able to reasonably assume the U.S. would control the skies in any conflict they foresaw.

Our investment decisions in recent years may soon call that assumption into serious question.  Penny-wise, pound-foolish is bad, but not nearly as bad as penny-wise, blood-foolish.

Scattered thoughts and today’s read

Posting has been light lately, but I’ve been doing what I can to keep up with events.  Some observations:

  • If the current trajectory in Korea sticks (i.e. move to denuclearize and formal end to the Korean War), it can be considered the most important foreign policy development since the immediate aftermath of 9/11.  But don’t hold your breath waiting for the same people who screamed the nukes were falling four months ago to come to their senses and hand out a Nobel Peace Prize to the administration.
  • With scores of migrants now attempting to climb the border barriers in our Southwest, it’s time to move past policing and start firing beanbags, pepper spray and other nasty items to dissuade the would-be housecrashers.  Either we have a border and sovereignty, or we don’t.  Which is it?
  • The treatment of Sarah Huckabee Sanders by a “comedian” at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner shows the wisdom of Trump foregoing attendance again this year.  These people are losing their relevancy and their power… and they sense it.
  • Question: why have we heard nothing new about the Las Vegas shooting since right after it happened?  Is it plausible to believe our vast intelligence and law enforcement resources cannot put a picture together for the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history?  Or is everybody too busy looking for Russian collusion under the beds?
  • The much-anticipated report from Inspector General Horowitz is due soon.  It will be informative to see how many already revealed dots that report connects.  To that end, this is a great review:

There are three scary but crucial factors underlying the rapidly growing FBI scandal that most people miss, even though these factors are hidden in plain sight.

Recognizing and understanding this trio goes a long way toward explaining what has happened in the scandal — and where it is likely to go next… (read the whole thing)

Finally, I’ll note my curiosity about the increasingly frequent internet poster “Q” is fairly piqued.  I’m a skeptic of anything that smacks as “Live Action Role Playing” as the kids call it, or “conspiracy theory” as our generation knows it.  But I’ve been keeping an eye on this one for a while.  As the various investigations under way come to their conclusions, it’ll be interesting to see how Q’s posts continue to pan out against the revelations.  There’ve been enough synchronicities to this point that I’m willing to admit my interest now.  If you aren’t familiar with “Q,” start here, then go here, here (for cast of characters and terms) and here (for attempted advance deciphering).  That said, here’s hoping this recent post comes from legitimate high-level insight and points the way to the near future:

Q post next phase JUSTICE

Looking back 50 years later

Before Britain became knife-ophobic, before it became subsumed into the European Union experiment, there were those who remembered what it meant to be a Briton.  There were those who meant it when they sang (or thought) the words “Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

One such man was Enoch Powell, who today is remembered either as a prophet or the personification of bigotry, depending on one’s view of the last half century of unprecedented demographic change.  Today, the 50th anniversary of his most famous address, it’s worth reading and comparing to today’s conditions.  Keep in mind that in 1968, London did not have a murder rate exceeding that of New York.  Nor did the UK regularly suffer from terrorist attacks using vehicles or acid thrown onto passersby. Some links and information are included in the text below to provide further points to ponder.

*****

This is the full text of Enoch Powell’s so-called ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, which was delivered to a Conservative Association meeting in Birmingham on April 20 1968: 

The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils. In seeking to do so, it encounters obstacles which are deeply rooted in human nature.
One is that by the very order of things such evils are not demonstrable until they have occurred: at each stage in their onset there is room for doubt and for dispute whether they be real or imaginary. By the same token, they attract little attention in comparison with current troubles, which are both indisputable and pressing: whence the besetting temptation of all politics to concern itself with the immediate present at the expense of the future.

Above all, people are disposed to mistake predicting troubles for causing troubles and even for desiring troubles: “If only,” they love to think, “if only people wouldn’t talk about it, it probably wouldn’t happen.”

Perhaps this habit goes back to the primitive belief that the word and the thing, the name and the object, are identical.  At all events, the discussion of future grave but, with effort now, avoidable evils is the most unpopular and at the same time the most necessary occupation for the politician. Those who knowingly shirk it deserve, and not infrequently receive, the curses of those who come after.

A week or two ago I fell into conversation with a constituent, a middle-aged, quite ordinary working man employed in one of our nationalised industries.  After a sentence or two about the weather, he suddenly said: “If I had the money to go, I wouldn’t stay in this country.” I made some deprecatory reply to the effect that even this government wouldn’t last for ever; but he took no notice, and continued: “I have three children, all of them been through grammar school and two of them married now, with family. I shan’t be satisfied till I have seen them all settled overseas. In this country in 15 or 20 years’ time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.”

I can already hear the chorus of execration. How dare I say such a horrible thing? How dare I stir up trouble and inflame feelings by repeating such a conversation?

The answer is that I do not have the right not to do so. Here is a decent, ordinary fellow Englishman, who in broad daylight in my own town says to me, his Member of Parliament, that his country will not be worth living in for his children.  I simply do not have the right to shrug my shoulders and think about something else. What he is saying, thousands and hundreds of thousands are saying and thinking – not throughout Great Britain, perhaps, but in the areas that are already undergoing the total transformation to which there is no parallel in a thousand years of English history.

In 15 or 20 years, on present trends, there will be in this country three and a half million Commonwealth immigrants and their descendants. That is not my figure. That is the official figure given to parliament by the spokesman of the Registrar General’s Office.

There is no comparable official figure for the year 2000, but it must be in the region of five to seven million, approximately one-tenth of the whole population, and approaching that of Greater London. Of course, it will not be evenly distributed from Margate to Aberystwyth and from Penzance to Aberdeen. Whole areas, towns and parts of towns across England will be occupied by sections of the immigrant and immigrant-descended population.

As time goes on, the proportion of this total who are immigrant descendants, those born in England, who arrived here by exactly the same route as the rest of us, will rapidly increase. Already by 1985 the native-born would constitute the majority. It is this fact which creates the extreme urgency of action now, of just that kind of action which is hardest for politicians to take, action where the difficulties lie in the present but the evils to be prevented or minimised lie several parliaments ahead.     ((Note: by 2012, children of foreign-born mothers represented one-fourth of the population of the United Kingdom!))

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Book review: “Skin in the Game”

I recently finished reading Skin in the Game – Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.  It was a thought-provoking read, boiling down observations about the impact of personal vestment (or lack thereof) in decision-making and social interactions, producing frequent pithy remarks such as this:

“Bureaucracy is a construction by which a person is conveniently separated from the consequences of his or her actions.”

The gem above appears at the end of a section discussing the consistently foolish policy of interventionism the U.S. has maintained overseas.  Our national leaders never seem to learn proper lessons about the consequences of their actions, largely because they are insulated and isolated from those consequences.  Not so, unfortunately, for many people on the ground where their policies have impact (and for the Americans put in harm’s way to enact those policies).  He notes that more than 2,400 years ago the Athenian Isocrates wrote “Deal with weaker states as you think it appropriate for stronger states to deal with you.”  Application of that thought would certainly result in some change to our foreign policy.  The author’s discussion of a perceived distinction between “the Golden Rule” and what he terms “the Silver Rule” makes for interesting reading as well.

Taleb later labels the worldwide political developments of 2014-2018 (Brexit, the election of Trump, etc) as “a rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking ‘clerks’ and journalist-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy League, Oxford-Cambridge or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think, and … 5) whom to vote for.”  Couldn’t have put it better myself.

The book applies the concept of personal interest in a wide-reaching manner, far more broadly than the two quotes I’ve provided would indicate.  He uses the lens to examine everything from the positive roles of risk-taking to “the dominance of the stubborn minority,” and whether a society can afford to tolerate an intolerant system such as Salafi Islam. The prose is highly readable, specifically summarizing premises as it goes along.  But it’s not a quick read if you’re engaging the material and thinking about larger implications.  I found myself breaking out the highlighter and bending page corners repeatedly so I could go back and review.

The concept of the book first interested me because I believe the loss of “skin in the game” for our political, business, science and educational leaders is a key reason why our institutions are in such decline.  Taleb seems to agree.  As I’ve put it on this blog more than once, accountability seems to be out of favor.  Businesses deemed “too big to fail” are allowed to reap profits while saddling taxpayers with losses.  Government officials seem to have a different legal system applied to their actions than would the common citizen.  Politicized “science” drives policymaking with few, if any repercussions to the industry when the “settled” view is later shown to be in error.

At any rate, if you’re looking for something weightier to read than the usual New York Times bestseller lightweights, this one is worth your attention.

 

The last peaceful option?

The current polarization in this country is unique in our history.  There is little (if any) common ground between viewpoints, and both “left” and “right” (increasingly nebulous terms) see the other as completely illegitimate and a threat.  Thus the “culture wars” of the 1980s/1990s have become much, much more, and are being played for complete national dominance.  Twitter, like Facebook, Google/YouTube, etc, is clearly putting its technological thumb on the scale of public debate, finding various ways to mute nationalist/conservative voices.  So it was no surprise to see Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, recommend this article extolling the perceived virtue of California’s one-party rule.

The next time you call for bipartisan cooperation in America and long for Republicans and Democrats to work side by side, stop it. Remember the great lesson of California, the harbinger of America’s political future, and realize that today such bipartisan cooperation simply can’t get done.

And as voices including that of a former Supreme Court justice clamor to rescind the 2nd Amendment, those who value freedom are having to consider their options:

South Carolina Republicans have introduced a bill that would give the state capital the power to secede from the United States if the federal government violates the Second Amendment and begins seizing legally purchased guns.

With passions running high on both sides, firearms are just one of many different triggers (pardon the pun) that could turn our current cold civil war into a hot one.  The continuing politicized effort to overturn the 2016 presidential election through a farcical investigation could spark partisan violence at any time.  One side is convinced beyond persuasion that Trump is an illegitimate president, while the other is equally convinced our government has become corrupted to partisan purposes.  Those of us who hope the election of Trump might harbinger a restoration of sorts still have to be concerned that roughly half our fellow citizens would overturn any progress in the very next election if they can.  That’s why it might be better for all concerned if we found a peaceful way to divide the country so that each group can live as they choose (and reap the consequences and benefits thereof):

It is long past time for an amicable divorce of the United States of America. There is simply no common ground with the Left anymore. We are now the couple screaming at each other all night, every night as the kids hide in their room…  ((an apt metaphor… Jemison))

The history of the world is nations breaking up and redrawing their borders. If we want to avoid this political divide turning into a deadly one, we should do likewise.
Stop clinging to the past and acknowledge where we are as a country, not where you want us to be, not where things were when your grandpa was storming the beaches of Normandy. Where we truly are

The GOP has many problems, but the Democratic Party has turned into something completely un-American. The United States was founded on two things: Judeo-Christian values and a limited federal government. The entire platform of modern Democrats stands completely opposite both of those…

This idea of breaking up the country may seem a bit outlandish now, but you won’t think so once real domestic unrest comes to your town. Our political disagreements have become a powder keg, one that already would have blown if conservatives had liberals’ emotional instability.

Nobody is expected to cheer for this split. Cheering is not a normal reaction when couples get a divorce. We cheer for old married people on their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

But life is imperfect. Life is hard. We both now agree that living under the other side’s value system is wholly unacceptable. The most peaceful solution we Americans can hope for now is to go our separate ways. So let us come together one last time and agree on one thing: Irreconcilable differences.

I spent 24 years wearing a uniform on behalf of this nation.  No one would be sadder than me to see it disbanded into successor states.  The diminution of the United States would be a global disaster.  But it is still preferable to the carnage that will result if we have two incompatible worldviews continue to vie for dominance over a divided population.  A substantial portion of our people now neither understands nor desires true freedom.  As Sam Adams said, may history forget they were our countrymen.

It is far better that part of our nation remains free to continue the vision of limited, Constitutional governance in accordance with Christian principles than to see the whole of it subsumed by both alien populations and alien ideas.   

Open insurrection

There is a strong argument to be made the Trump Administration could declare both California and Illinois to be in a state of insurrection and respond with the authority such a condition conveys:

Mark the date April 1, 2018, April Fool’s Day, as the day Civil War 2.0 began. On that day, the State of California began to automatically register illegal aliens who have driver licenses to vote. This new law immunizes illegals against any state criminal penalty for registering and voting.

And in Chicago:

Municipal ID cards that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is launching for undocumented immigrants and others will be a valid form of identification for people both registering to vote and voting in Chicago, according to a letter aldermen received…

Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution requires the Federal government to “guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion…”  The facilitation by Gov. Jerry Brown of California and Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel of illegal immigrants settling and voting in the United States undermines our republican form of government and constitutes an invasion (even if unarmed).  U.S. citizens in California and Chicago have seen and continue to see their voices diluted by interlopers on U.S. soil – and they are not alone in suffering that loss.

It’s abundantly clear we have State and local leaders engaging in a slow-motion insurrection by demographics, by which they mean to fundamentally transform the United States.  They aren’t even pretending to hide it anymore, either.  As I write this, more than 1,200 additional invaders continue to move north through Mexico, bringing yet another very public challenge to U.S. sovereignty and authority.  No doubt the Democrats and media (but I repeat myself…) will do all they can to facilitate these people’s entry into the country.  After all, Democrats can’t even be bothered to do background checks of their own information technologists!

THIS. MUST. STOP.

The President is not able, on his own, to fully address these issues, and the GOPe has shown little interest in aiding him in Congress.  The American people — the legally valid American people — must demand the following of their Congresscritters:

  • As recommended in the first link in this post, refuse to seat any Senator or Congressman elected from California and Illinois until the programs above are terminated and the voting rolls confirmed by the Department of Justice to be purged of illegal aliens.
  • Authorize suspension or repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act in a manner that allows U.S. military forces to patrol the nation’s borders and detain/process individuals attempting to cross it illegally.  While it is understandable the Act is intended to prevent abuse of martial law, it unnecessarily prevents the military from performing its fundamental purpose: the defense of the United States.  Using the military for this primary purpose would free up manpower/resources of Homeland Security (Immigration/Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol) to seek out, detain and deport more illegal aliens already within the United States.
  • Explicitly declare via Congressional resolution that all “sanctuary State/city” policies as null and void usurpations of Federal authority under the Constitution, and direct the Department of Justice to begin arrests and legal proceedings against any State/local official found to be willfully aiding illegal immigrants in avoiding detection and deportation.
  • Institute serious penalties for repeatedly entering the U.S. without authorization.  It is ridiculous that so many illegal immigrants are arrested for serious crimes after multiple reentries into the U.S.  As I’ve suggested before, all illegal immigrants should have complete biometric profiles entered into federal records before deportation.  Upon a second offense, a distinctive tattoo should be placed on their hand or forearm.  And upon a third offense, they should be subject to the death penalty as invaders.  Yes, these are harsh and unyielding standards.  Kicking the can this far down the road leaves little room for half-measures, however.

To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln (who himself was paraphrasing scripture), this nation cannot much longer endure half Constitutionalist and half defiant fifth column.  Liberals are counting on the power they’ve already achieved through decades of demographic manipulation and undermining of immigration law.  But there are still enough concerned traditional Americans (of all ethnicities) to have elected Trump.  If we cannot muster the willpower and Federal resolve to take the measures above it will not be much longer, I fear, before the Union will be dissolved of irreconcilable differences.  The only question at that point will be whether the divorce will be amicable or contested.

History shows the latter to be a tragically expensive option.  That is why serious brakes need to be applied now, via strong Federal responses to the provocations above.