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Archive for the ‘corruption’ Category

At Last The Mueller Probe Has Been Released

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

THE DAILY WIRE

On Friday afternoon, at 5 PM EDT,March 21, 2019, the Justice Department confirmed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had indeed turned in his long-awaited report on supposed Trump-Russia collusion. Attorney General William Barr then released a letter to the ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees informing them that he “may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.”

Under Department of Justice regulations, Barr must review the Mueller report for release; Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote a letter last year suggesting that no allegations concerning non-criminal activity would be released to the public. Late on Friday afternoon, multiple news outlets broke the story that Mueller had recommended no further indictments in his report.

The Mueller report represents the conclusion of a nearly two-year-long inquiry under Mueller’s auspices, begun when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller after President Trump fired FBI director James Comey.

Democrats have been clamoring for a full release of the Mueller report, presuming that a redacted report will be far less damaging to President Trump than the full report. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a statement calling on Barr to “make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress,” declaring that the “White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public.”

It remains to be seen how much information Barr releases publicly.

 

Many in the media continue to report, despite the lack of further indictments, that prosecutions that have already taken place somehow provide evidence of Trump-Russia collusion. This is flatly false. None of the indictments already pursued concern collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government that implicates Trump or any high-ranking campaign officials. With that said, it is possible that Mueller recommended no further indictments thanks to DOJ regulations that state a sitting president cannot be indicted. We won’t know the full extent of that possibility until we learn the details of the report.

Meanwhile, media members have already turned their eyes hopefully to the Southern District of New York, where the possibility of criminal indictment against President Trump on the basis of campaign finance violations remains.

 

The Truth About Marijuana/Mental Illness And Violence

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

IMPRIMUS

HILLSDALE  COLLEGE

Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence

January 2019 • Volume 48, Number 1Alex Berenson

Alex Berenson
Author, Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence

Alex Berenson is a graduate of Yale University with degrees in history and economics. He began his career in journalism in 1994 as a business reporter for the Denver Post, joined the financial news website TheStreet.com in 1996, and worked as an investigative reporter for The New York Times from 1999 to 2010, during which time he also served two stints as an Iraq War correspondent. In 2006 he published The Faithful Spy, which won the 2007 Edgar Award for best first novel from the Mystery Writers of America. He has published ten additional novels and two nonfiction books, The Number: How the Drive for Quarterly Earnings Corrupted Wall Street and Corporate America and Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence.

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on January 15, 2019, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.

Seventy miles northwest of New York City is a hospital that looks like a prison, its drab brick buildings wrapped in layers of fencing and barbed wire. This grim facility is called the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Institute. It’s one of three places the state of New York sends the criminally mentally ill—defendants judged not guilty by reason of insanity.

Until recently, my wife Jackie­—Dr. Jacqueline Berenson—was a senior psychiatrist there. Many of Mid-Hudson’s 300 patients are killers and arsonists. At least one is a cannibal. Most have been diagnosed with psychotic disorders like schizophrenia that provoked them to violence against family members or strangers.

A couple of years ago, Jackie was telling me about a patient. In passing, she said something like, Of course he’d been smoking pot his whole life.

Of course? I said.

Yes, they all smoke.

So marijuana causes schizophrenia?

I was surprised, to say the least. I tended to be a libertarian on drugs. Years before, I’d covered the pharmaceutical industry for The New York Times. I was aware of the claims about marijuana as medicine, and I’d watched the slow spread of legalized cannabis without much interest.

Jackie would have been within her rights to say, I know what I’m talking about, unlike you. Instead she offered something neutral like, I think that’s what the big studies say. You should read them.

So I did. The big studies, the little ones, and all the rest. I read everything I could find. I talked to every psychiatrist and brain scientist who would talk to me. And I soon realized that in all my years as a journalist I had never seen a story where the gap between insider and outsider knowledge was so great, or the stakes so high.

I began to wonder why—with the stocks of cannabis companies soaring and politicians promoting legalization as a low-risk way to raise tax revenue and reduce crime—I had never heard the truth about marijuana, mental illness, and violence.

***

Over the last 30 years, psychiatrists and epidemiologists have turned speculation about marijuana’s dangers into science. Yet over the same period, a shrewd and expensive lobbying campaign has pushed public attitudes about marijuana the other way. And the effects are now becoming apparent.

Almost everything you think you know about the health effects of cannabis, almost everything advocates and the media have told you for a generation, is wrong.

They’ve told you marijuana has many different medical uses. In reality marijuana and THC, its active ingredient, have been shown to work only in a few narrow conditions. They are most commonly prescribed for pain relief. But they are rarely tested against other pain relief drugs like ibuprofen—and in July, a large four-year study of patients with chronic pain in Australia showed cannabis use was associated with greater pain over time.

They’ve told you cannabis can stem opioid use—“Two new studies show how marijuana can help fight the opioid epidemic,” according to Wonkblog, a Washington Post website, in April 2018— and that marijuana’s effects as a painkiller make it a potential substitute for opiates. In reality, like alcohol, marijuana is too weak as a painkiller to work for most people who truly need opiates, such as terminal cancer patients. Even cannabis advocates, like Rob Kampia, the co-founder of the Marijuana Policy Project, acknowledge that they have always viewed medical marijuana laws primarily as a way to protect recreational users.

As for the marijuana-reduces-opiate-use theory, it is based largely on a single paper comparing overdose deaths by state before 2010 to the spread of medical marijuana laws— and the paper’s finding is probably a result of simple geographic coincidence. The opiate epidemic began in Appalachia, while the first states to legalize medical marijuana were in the West. Since 2010, as both the epidemic and medical marijuana laws have spread nationally, the finding has vanished. And the United States, the Western country with the most cannabis use, also has by far the worst problem with opioids.

Research on individual users—a better way to trace cause and effect than looking at aggregate state-level data—consistently shows that marijuana use leads to other drug use. For example, a January 2018 paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that people who used cannabis in 2001 were almost three times as likely to use opiates three years later, even after adjusting for other potential risks.

Most of all, advocates have told you that marijuana is not just safe for people with psychiatric problems like depression, but that it is a potential treatment for those patients. On its website, the cannabis delivery service Eaze offers the “Best Marijuana Strains and Products for Treating Anxiety.” “How Does Cannabis Help Depression?” is the topic of an article on Leafly, the largest cannabis website. But a mountain of peer-reviewed research in top medical journals shows that marijuana can cause or worsen severe mental illness, especially psychosis, the medical term for a break from reality. Teenagers who smoke marijuana regularly are about three times as likely to develop schizophrenia, the most devastating psychotic disorder.

After an exhaustive review, the National Academy of Medicine found in 2017 that “cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.” Also that “regular cannabis use is likely to increase the risk for developing social anxiety disorder.”

***

Over the past decade, as legalization has spread, patterns of marijuana use—and the drug itself—have changed in dangerous ways.

Legalization has not led to a huge increase in people using the drug casually. About 15 percent of Americans used cannabis at least once in 2017, up from ten percent in 2006, according to a large federal study called the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (By contrast, about 65 percent of Americans had a drink in the last year.) But the number of Americans who use cannabis heavily is soaring. In 2006, about three million Americans reported using cannabis at least 300 times a year, the standard for daily use. By 2017, that number had nearly tripled, to eight million, approaching the twelve million Americans who drank alcohol every day. Put another way, one in 15 drinkers consumed alcohol daily; about one in five marijuana users used cannabis that often.

Cannabis users today are also consuming a drug that is far more potent than ever before, as measured by the amount of THC—delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical in cannabis responsible for its psychoactive effects—it contains. In the 1970s, the last time this many Americans used cannabis, most marijuana contained less than two percent THC. Today, marijuana routinely contains 20 to 25 percent THC, thanks to sophisticated farming and cloning techniques—as well as to a demand by users for cannabis that produces a stronger high more quickly. In states where cannabis is legal, many users prefer extracts that are nearly pure THC. Think of the difference between near-beer and a martini, or even grain alcohol, to understand the difference.

These new patterns of use have caused problems with the drug to soar. In 2014, people who had diagnosable cannabis use disorder, the medical term for marijuana abuse or addiction, made up about 1.5 percent of Americans. But they accounted for eleven percent of all the psychosis cases in emergency rooms—90,000 cases, 250 a day, triple the number in 2006. In states like Colorado, emergency room physicians have become experts on dealing with cannabis-induced psychosis.

Cannabis advocates often argue that the drug can’t be as neurotoxic as studies suggest, because otherwise Western countries would have seen population-wide increases in psychosis alongside rising use. In reality, accurately tracking psychosis cases is impossible in the United States. The government carefully tracks diseases like cancer with central registries, but no such registry exists for schizophrenia or other severe mental illnesses.

On the other hand, research from Finland and Denmark, two countries that track mental illness more comprehensively, shows a significant increase in psychosis since 2000, following an increase in cannabis use. And in September of last year, a large federal survey found a rise in serious mental illness in the United States as well, especially among young adults, the heaviest users of cannabis.

According to this latter study, 7.5 percent of adults age 18-25 met the criteria for serious mental illness in 2017, double the rate in 2008. What’s especially striking is that adolescents age 12-17 don’t show these increases in cannabis use and severe mental illness.

A caveat: this federal survey doesn’t count individual cases, and it lumps psychosis with other severe mental illness. So it isn’t as accurate as the Finnish or Danish studies. Nor do any of these studies prove that rising cannabis use has caused population-wide increases in psychosis or other mental illness. The most that can be said is that they offer intriguing evidence of a link.

Advocates for people with mental illness do not like discussing the link between schizophrenia and crime. They fear it will stigmatize people with the disease. “Most people with mental illness are not violent,” the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) explains on its website. But wishing away the link can’t make it disappear. In truth, psychosis is a shockingly high risk factor for violence. The best analysis came in a 2009 paper in PLOS Medicine by Dr. Seena Fazel, an Oxford University psychiatrist and epidemiologist. Drawing on earlier studies, the paper found that people with schizophrenia are five times as likely to commit violent crimes as healthy people, and almost 20 times as likely to commit homicide.

NAMI’s statement that most people with mental illness are not violent is of course accurate, given that “most” simply means “more than half”; but it is deeply misleading. Schizophrenia is rare. But people with the disorder commit an appreciable fraction of all murders, in the range of six to nine percent.

“The best way to deal with the stigma is to reduce the violence,” says Dr. Sheilagh Hodgins, a professor at the University of Montreal who has studied mental illness and violence for more than 30 years.

The marijuana-psychosis-violence connection is even stronger than those figures suggest. People with schizophrenia are only moderately more likely to become violent than healthy people when they are taking antipsychotic medicine and avoiding recreational drugs. But when they use drugs, their risk of violence skyrockets. “You don’t just have an increased risk of one thing—these things occur in clusters,” Dr. Fazel told me.

Along with alcohol, the drug that psychotic patients use more than any other is cannabis: a 2010 review of earlier studies in Schizophrenia Bulletin found that 27 percent of people with schizophrenia had been diagnosed with cannabis use disorder in their lives. And unfortunately—despite its reputation for making users relaxed and calm—cannabis appears to provoke many of them to violence.

A Swiss study of 265 psychotic patients published in Frontiers of Forensic Psychiatry last June found that over a three-year period, young men with psychosis who used cannabis had a 50 percent chance of becoming violent. That risk was four times higher than for those with psychosis who didn’t use, even after adjusting for factors such as alcohol use. Other researchers have produced similar findings. A 2013 paper in an Italian psychiatric journal examined almost 1,600 psychiatric patients in southern Italy and found that cannabis use was associated with a ten-fold increase in violence.

The most obvious way that cannabis fuels violence in psychotic people is through its tendency to cause paranoia—something even cannabis advocates acknowledge the drug can cause. The risk is so obvious that users joke about it and dispensaries advertise certain strains as less likely to induce paranoia. And for people with psychotic disorders, paranoia can fuel extreme violence. A 2007 paper in the Medical Journal of Australia on 88 defendants who had committed homicide during psychotic episodes found that most believed they were in danger from the victim, and almost two-thirds reported misusing cannabis—more than alcohol and amphetamines combined.

Yet the link between marijuana and violence doesn’t appear limited to people with preexisting psychosis. Researchers have studied alcohol and violence for generations, proving that alcohol is a risk factor for domestic abuse, assault, and even murder. Far less work has been done on marijuana, in part because advocates have stigmatized anyone who raises the issue. But studies showing that marijuana use is a significant risk factor for violence have quietly piled up. Many of them weren’t even designed to catch the link, but they did. Dozens of such studies exist, covering everything from bullying by high school students to fighting among vacationers in Spain.

In most cases, studies find that the risk is at least as significant as with alcohol. A 2012 paper in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence examined a federal survey of more than 9,000 adolescents and found that marijuana use was associated with a doubling of domestic violence; a 2017 paper in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology examined drivers of violence among 6,000 British and Chinese men and found that drug use—the drug nearly always being cannabis—translated into a five-fold increase in violence.

Today that risk is translating into real-world impacts. Before states legalized recreational cannabis, advocates said that legalization would let police focus on hardened criminals rather than marijuana smokers and thus reduce violent crime. Some advocates go so far as to claim that legalization has reduced violent crime. In a 2017 speech calling for federal legalization, U.S. Senator Cory Booker said that “states [that have legalized marijuana] are seeing decreases in violent crime.” He was wrong.

The first four states to legalize marijuana for recreational use were Colorado and Washington in 2014 and Alaska and Oregon in 2015. Combined, those four states had about 450 murders and 30,300 aggravated assaults in 2013. Last year, they had almost 620 murders and 38,000 aggravated assaults—an increase of 37 percent for murders and 25 percent for aggravated assaults, far greater than the national increase, even after accounting for differences in population growth.

Knowing exactly how much of the increase is related to cannabis is impossible without researching every crime. But police reports, news stories, and arrest warrants suggest a close link in many cases. For example, last September, police in Longmont, Colorado, arrested Daniel Lopez for stabbing his brother Thomas to death as a neighbor watched. Daniel Lopez had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was “self-medicating” with marijuana, according to an arrest affidavit.

In every state, not just those where marijuana is legal, cases like Lopez’s are far more common than either cannabis or mental illness advocates acknowledge. Cannabis is also associated with a disturbing number of child deaths from abuse and neglect—many more than alcohol, and more than cocaine, methamphetamines, and opioids combined—according to reports from Texas, one of the few states to provide detailed information on drug use by perpetrators.

These crimes rarely receive more than local attention. Psychosis-induced violence takes particularly ugly forms and is frequently directed at helpless family members. The elite national media prefers to ignore the crimes as tabloid fodder. Even police departments, which see this violence up close, have been slow to recognize the trend, in part because the epidemic of opioid overdose deaths has overwhelmed them.

So the black tide of psychosis and the red tide of violence are rising steadily, almost unnoticed, on a slow green wave.

***

For centuries, people worldwide have understood that cannabis causes mental illness and violence—just as they’ve known that opiates cause addiction and overdose. Hard data on the relationship between marijuana and madness dates back 150 years, to British asylum registers in India. Yet 20 years ago, the United States moved to encourage wider use of cannabis and opiates.

In both cases, we decided we could outsmart these drugs—that we could have their benefits without their costs. And in both cases we were wrong. Opiates are riskier, and the overdose deaths they cause a more imminent crisis, so we have focused on those. But soon enough the mental illness and violence that follow cannabis use will also be too widespread to ignore.

Whether to use cannabis, or any drug, is a personal decision. Whether cannabis should be legal is a political issue. But its precise legal status is far less important than making sure that anyone who uses it is aware of its risks. Most cigarette smokers don’t die of lung cancer. But we have made it widely known that cigarettes cause cancer, full stop. Most people who drink and drive don’t have fatal accidents. But we have highlighted the cases of those who do.

We need equally unambiguous and well-funded advertising campaigns on the risks of cannabis. Instead, we are now in the worst of all worlds. Marijuana is legal in some states, illegal in others, dangerously potent, and sold without warnings everywhere.

But before we can do anything, we—especially cannabis advocates and those in the elite media who have for too long credulously accepted their claims—need to come to terms with the truth about the science on marijuana. That adjustment may be painful. But the alternative is far worse, as the patients at Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Institute—and their victims—know.

 

Rats/Filth/Trash In Our Cities

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

Freedom Outpost

Rats, Public Defecation & Open Drug Use: Our Major Western Cities Are Becoming Uninhabitable Hellholes

Michael SnyderFebruary 13, 2019

Almost everyone that goes out to visit one of our major cities on the west coast has a similar reaction.  Those that must live among the escalating decay are often numb to it, but most of those that are just in town for a visit are absolutely shocked by all of the trash, human defecation, crime and public drug use that they encounter.  Once upon a time, our beautiful western cities were the envy of the rest of the world, but now they serve as shining examples of America’s accelerating decline.  The worst parts of our major western cities literally look like post-apocalyptic wastelands, and the hordes of zombified homeless people that live in those areas are too drugged-out to care.  The ironic thing is that these cities are not poor.  In fact, San Francisco and Seattle are among the wealthiest cities in the entire nation.  So if things are falling apart this dramatically now, how bad will things get when economic conditions really start to deteriorate?

Let’s start our discussion by looking at the rat epidemic in Los Angeles.  Thanks to extremely poor public sanitation, rats are breeding like mad, and at this point, they have even conquered Los Angeles City Hall

Officials at Los Angeles’ City Hall are considering ripping all of the building’s carpets up, as rats and fleas are said to be running riot in its halls.

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A motion was filed by Council President Herb Wesson on Wednesday to enact the much needed makeover amid a typhus outbreak in the downtown area.

Wesson said a city employee had contracted the deadly bacterial disease at work, and now he’s urging officials to investigate the ‘scope’ of the long-running pest problem at the council building.

People from all over the world are drawn to Los Angeles because of what they have seen on television, but it is truly a filthy, filthy place.  The number of homeless has been rising about 20 percent a year, public drug use is seemingly everywhere, and there are mountains of trash all over the place.  Needless to say, rats thrive in such an environment, and the epic battle that one L.A. journalist is having with rats was recently featured in the L.A. Times

Eastside, Westside, north and south, they’re everywhere. If you’re a rat, the California housing crisis has not hit you yet and it never will.

At our house, it sounded like the rats were having relay races in the ceiling, and they don’t wear sneakers. Your eyes blink and your leg twitches as you drift off to sleep knowing that if the plague comes back, you are living at ground zero.

In our garden, they devoured entire heads of lettuce. They destroyed my squash just before it was ripe and ready to eat. They stole my tomatoes, cilantro and Anaheim chili peppers. Were they bottling their own salsa?

But let’s not be too hard on Los Angeles, because the same things that are going on there are happening in major cities all over the western portion of the country.

For example, a massive rat infestation recently forced authorities to close a shockingly filthy homeless encampment under a bridge in Salem, Oregon

Amid the trash, human despair and anguish, one weeping woman prepared to leave the most recent place she knows as home without any real inkling of where she’ll go next.

Terry Balow, an outreach worker with the Salvation Army, has been here for the darker moments of living life under a bridge — anger, mental illness, drug use and human frustration boiling over at times everywhere one looks.

Yet it was a rat infestation and concern about human health that prompted the city of Salem to move the campers out.

“It just grew and grew and got worse,” Balow said. “It’s badder than people can imagine.”

Yes, there have always been homeless encampments in this country, but in modern times we have never faced anything on the scale that we are facing now.

More than half a million Americans are homeless right now, and that number continues to grow.  And as it grows, communities will increasingly be forced to make some tough decisions.

I am quite eager to talk about San Francisco, but before we get to the City by the Bay, let’s take note of something that just happened in Denver.

If you are into public defecation, you will be very happy to learn that Denver just made it legal

First, the obvious: The Denver City Council has voted unanimously to decriminalize a number of offenses, including defecating in public. Also, urinating in public. Camping on public or private land without permission. Panhandling. And lying across public rights-of-way, such as sidewalks.

Democrat Mayor Michael Hancock and city officials explained the new ordinances are designed to protect immigrants — legal and the other kind — from “unintended consequences.” These consequences were fines and longer jail terms, as has been customary in most places for violating the behavioral norms of civilized American society.

If only America’s founders could see us now.

They would be so proud.

Speaking of public defecation, San Francisco has become world famous for the piles of human poop that constantly litter their streets.  During one seven day stretch last summer, a total of 16,000 official complaints were submitted to the city about human feces.

Blessed with such beautiful natural surroundings and so much wealth, San Francisco should be a great place to visit, but that definitely is not the case.

When reporter John Stossel recently visited San Francisco, he was stunned by what he found

San Francisco is a pretty good place to “hang out with a sign.” People are rarely arrested for vagrancy, aggressive panhandling or going to the bathroom in front of people’s homes. In 2015, there were 60,491 complaints to police, but only 125 people were arrested.

Public drug use is generally ignored. One woman told us, “It’s nasty seeing people shoot up — right in front of you. Police don’t do anything about it! They’ll get somebody for drinking a beer but walk right past people using needles.”

In San Francisco, they actually give out free syringes to drug addicts, and it is being reported that they handed out a total of 5.8 million free syringes in 2018.

That is a lot of syringes.

They also try to get the syringes back in order to prevent the spread of disease, but that hasn’t been too successful

There’s just one problem – well, more than one – despite spending an extra $1.8 million last year in an effort to retrieve needles, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the department handed out about 2 million more syringes than it got back… many of which are now washing around the streets of one of the richest cities in America (along with the feces of their users).

And with so much public drug use going on, it should be no surprise that crime is completely and totally out of control.  Here is more from John Stossel

Each day in San Francisco, an average of 85 cars are broken into.

“Inside Edition” ran a test to see how long stereo equipment would last in a parked car. Their test car was quickly broken into. Then the camera crew discovered that their own car had been busted into as well.

It has been said that “as goes California, so goes the country”, and if this is where the rest of the nation is headed then we are in serious trouble.

When Bill Blain recently visited San Francisco, he was so horrified by what he encountered that he felt he must write about it

I hope my American hosts will forgive me for raising this, but the squalor we saw in The City was frightful. San Francisco has always been one of favourite US cities, but the degree of homelessness, mental illness and drug abuse we saw on this trip was truly shocking. Walking round SF on a Sunday Morning and we saw sights we couldn’t believe. This must be one of the richest cities in the world – home to 4 of the 10 richest people on the planet according to Wiki. I asked friends about it, and they shrugged it off.. “The City has always attracted the homeless because of the mild weather,”.. “It’s a drug thing”.. “its too difficult”… “you get used to it..”

Well, I didn’t.

I found it quite shocking the number of folk sleeping rough on the sidewalks, the smell of weed and drug impedimenta everywhere, the filth, mental illness and degradation on view just a few meters from the financial centre driving Silicon Valley. It’s a city where the destitute seem to have become invisible to the Uber hailing elites. We found ourselves hopping on one of the beautiful F-Route Trolley Buses to find nearly every seat occupied by someone lugging around their worldly possessions around in a plastic bag. It was desperately sad.

San Francisco has a new mayor, and they are going to spend millions upon millions of dollars to try to clean up the streets.

But it won’t be easy to turn things around, because more drug users and homeless people are moving into the city every single day

And San Francisco is generous. It offers street people food stamps, free shelter, train tickets and $70 a month in cash.

“They’re always offering resources,” one man dressed as Santa told us. “San Francisco’s just a good place to hang out.”

So, every week, new people arrive.

We like to think that we are setting a positive example to the rest of the world, but the truth is that they are laughing at us.

America is in an advanced state of decay, and it is getting worse with each passing year.

If we keep doing the same things we will keep getting the same results, and right now there are no signs that the overall direction of this nation will change any time soon.

Article posted with permission from Michael Snyder

 

 

Indoctrination Saturation

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

In light of the mid-term elections and the Democrat wins, I thought this piece by Victor Davis Hanson was most appropriate.

 

Indoctrination Saturation

Victor Davis Hanson

September 4, 2018

 

The all-seeing social-justice eye penetrates every aspect of our lives: sports, movies, public monuments, social media, funerals . . .

A definition of totalitarianism might be the saturation of every facet of daily life by political agendas and social-justice messaging.

At the present rate, America will soon resemble the dystopias of novels such as 1984 and Brave New World in which all aspects of life are warped by an all-encompassing ideology of coerced sameness. Or rather, the prevailing orthodoxy in America is the omnipresent attempt of an elite — exempt from the consequences of its own ideology thanks to its supposed superior virtue and intelligence — to mandate an equality of result.

We expect their 24/7 political messaging on cable-channel news networks, talk radio, or print and online media. And we concede that long ago an NPR, CNN, MSNBC, or New York Times ceased being journalistic entities as much as obsequious megaphones of the progressive itinerary.

But increasingly we cannot escape anywhere the lidless gaze of our progressive lords, all-seeing, all-knowing from high up in their dark towers.

The Peter Strzok–Lisa Page texts, along with the careers of former FBI director James Comey and his deputy Andrew McCabe, reveal a politicized and in some sense rotten FBI hierarchy, beholden far more to its own exalted sense of a progressive self than merely to investigating crimes against the people.

Lois Lerner was a clumsy reflection of how the IRS long ago became weaponized in service to auditing deplorables. Former CIA director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper used their supposedly nonpartisan positions to further political agendas. That each in his own way is clownish does not mitigate their rank efforts to graft intelligence agencies onto political causes.

The same deterioration is true of many in the Department of Justice, who, along with the FBI, misled FISA-court justices, as if that were the only, or perhaps the easiest, way to obtain politically driven surveillance on U.S. citizens. Americans now are woke to the reality that straying too much into the forbidden zone guarantees that their communications can be monitored on the pretense that they’re colluding with some nefarious power. Yet if foreigners are the menace, why did our proverbial best and brightest traffic with a paid foreign spy at election time to sabotage a political campaign, then trump even the improper use of electronic surveillance with the insertion of paid informants?

Google, Facebook, and Twitter are facing accusations of censoring social-media accounts and massaging Internet searches according to their progressive political agendas. The masters of the universe have given us the stereotype of 20- and 30-something social-warrior geeks, fiddling with their algorithms to virtue-signal their left-wing fides to a global audience.

YouTube restricted more than 50 Prager University videos — often because either a human or computerized auditor did not approve of the videos’ presentation of America’s historical role as beneficent. Tie-dyed T-shirts, flip-flops, and faded jeans do not mask the reality that some $3 trillion in global capitalization is pledged to ensure that the nations’ computers, pads, and smartphones will not be polluted by traditionalist thinking.

First-time congressional candidate Elizabeth Heng, a conservative from central California, found her video ad blocked on Facebook and Twitter. Apparently, her description of the Cambodian holocaust that her parents fled was too graphic or politically incorrect, or both. But then again, in California, everything is politicized, from plastic straws to single-user restrooms, in an Orwellian effort to distract us from the fact that we do not have enough water, usable roads, or workable public schools to remain a civilized state.

Language is especially enlisted to disguise bothersome reality. During the Obama administration, no one would ever have known from “overseas contingency operations,” “man-caused disasters,” “workplace disasters,” and “holy struggles” that radical Islamic terrorists were seeking to kill Westerners from San Bernardino to Paris. As in the case of illegal aliens, undocumented aliens, illegal immigrants, undocumented immigrants, immigrants migrants, the progressive rationale is that anyone killed or harmed by a terrorist or migrant is usually a nobody and so an acceptable casualty in the greater war against incorrect speech and attitude.

When our public colleges now find that an increasing number of newly admitted students cannot do college-level work when they begin their courses, administrators drop the old idea of catch-up “remedial” classes or compensatory “remediation” courses. The new language conveys that students are now suddenly qualified, or at least it virtue-signals the university’s effort to be suitably sensitive to the fact that in California nearly half of those entering the CSU system cannot read or compute at what previously had been thought to be a college level.

Our very names and identities have become politicized. Desperate to highlight their progressive purity (or to enhance careers), politicians sometimes reinvent their nomenclatures and ancestries to suggest solidarity with those deemed racially, ethnically, or economically oppressed. Who now is who or what?

Senator Elizabeth Warren claimed falsely — albeit not quite in the clumsy fashion of left-wing political activist and professor Ward Churchill — that she was part Native American. Socialist New York state senate candidate Julia Salazar recently and falsely rebranded herself as a virtual foreign-born immigrant. Was their intent to pose as poorer, more victimized Americans without actually having to become poorer or more victimized?

White-male aspirant for a Texas Senate seat Patrick Francis O’Rourke has used the Latino nickname “Beto,” probably on the assumption that “Beto O’Rourke” might ensure a little more street cred among Texas’s Latino voters. I suppose “Pat O’Lopez” would be too shameless? But then again, California Senate candidate Kevin de León has added both a “de” and an accent to remind voters that he is not just an Anglicized Kevin Leon who could be mistaken for a third-generation Portuguese American.

Americans have long accepted that Hollywood movies no longer seek just to entertain or inform, but to indoctrinate audiences by pushing progressive agendas. That commandment also demands that America be portrayed negatively — or better yet simply written out of history. Take the new film First Man, about the first moon landing. Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong became famous when he emerged from The Eagle, the two-man lunar module, and planted an American flag on the moon’s surface. Yet that iconic act disappears from the movie version. (At least Ryan Gosling, who plays Armstrong, does not walk out of the space capsule to string up a U.N. banner.)

Gosling claimed that the moon landing should not be seen as an American effort. Instead, he advised, it should be “widely regarded as a human achievement” — as if any nation’s efforts or the work of the United Nations in 1969 could have pulled off such an astounding and dangerous enterprise. I suppose we are to believe that Gosling’s Canada might just as well have built a Saturn V rocket.

Comic-book sales are static, purportedly because tired readers now find their make-believe heroes sermonizing, preachy, and predictable rather than one-dimensionally heroic. Social justice has entered the world of fantasy — and extends to science-fiction novels as well. Will 1984 have to be either banned or subjected to race/class/gender Bowdlerization?

Sports offers no relief. It is now no more a refuge from political indoctrination than is Hollywood. Yet it is about as difficult to find a jock who can pontificate about politics as it is to encounter a Ph.D. or politico who can pass or pitch.

The National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and sports channels are now politicalized in a variety of ways, from not standing up or saluting the flag during the National Anthem to pushing social-justice issues as part of televised sports analysis. What a strange sight to see tough sportsmen of our Roman-style gladiatorial arenas become delicate souls who wilt on seeing a dreaded hand across the heart during the playing of the National Anthem.

Even when we die, we do not escape politicization. At a recent eight-hour, televised funeral service for singer Aretha Franklin, politicos such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton went well beyond their homages into political harangues. Pericles or Lincoln they were not.

Activist professor Michael Eric Dyson laced his supposed eulogy with an adolescent rant against Donald Trump: “Your lugubrious leach, your dopey doppelgänger of deceit and deviance” — and all that alliterative gibberish that apparently follows from a Ph.D.

Politics likewise absorbed Senator John McCain’s funeral the next day. Sarah Palin —his persistently loyal 2008 running mate, who has never uttered an unkind word about him — was not invited. Apparently, her presence would now be seen as too politically incorrect; it might have polluted the observance with a deplorable odor or reminded us that she was once considered useful in appealing to the clinger/irredeemable/“crazies” vote.

Meghan McCain, Barack Obama, and former president George W. Bush all did their best to praise the deceased, but in passing could not resist deprecating the current president. We have forgotten that the ancillary to de mortuis nihil nisi bonum dicendum est (about the dead nothing but good should be said) is “in speaking of the dead, nothing but good should be said about the still living.” It is certainly not an admirable trait to deplore incivility by gratuitously attacking a sitting president at a funeral — especially when neither the presidential encomiasts, nor the object of their encomia, had always been particularly civil and polite to each another in the past.

Even the long-ago dead are fair game. Dark Age iconoclasm has returned to us with a fury.

Any statue at any time might be toppled — if it is deemed to represent an idea or belief from the distant past now considered racist, sexist, or somehow illiberal. Representations of Columbus, the Founding Fathers, and Confederate soldiers have all been defaced, knocked down, or removed. The images of mass murderers on the left are exempt, on the theory that good ends always allow a few excessive means. So are the images and names of robber barons and old bad white guys, whose venerable eponymous institutions offer valuable brands that can be monetized. At least so far, we are not rebranding Stanford and Yale with indigenous names.

This new politicized borg ferrets out every aspect of our lives. Nothing is safe, nothing sacred. Dead or alive, the relentless social-justice messaging continues. Like some sort of time machine, we go back in time to alter history as if a few corrections and adjustments will change and thus improve the entire present.

Comments

Progressive politics seeks to connect and energize us as millions of shared malignant cells inside a metastasizing tumor — or to destroy us in the attempt.

 

The Disgraceful Attempt to Destroy Judge Kavanaugh cont.

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

One Ford Narrative Too Many

by Victor Davis Hanson                    October 7, 2018

In the end, the Christine Blasey Ford accusations collapsed. With them went the last effort to destroy Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court.

After thousands of hours of internal Senate and FBI investigations of Kavanaugh, as well as public discussions, open questioning, and media sensationalism, Ford remained unable to identify a single witness who might substantiate any of her narratives of an alleged sexual assault of nearly four decades past.

 To substantiate her claim, the country was asked to jettison the idea of innocent until proven guilty, the need for corroborating testimony, witnesses, and physical evidence, the inadmissibility of hearsay, the need for reasonable statutes of limitations, considerations of motive, and the right of the accused to conduct vigorous cross-examination. That leap proved too much, especially when located in a larger progressive landscape of street theater antics, including Senate disruptions, walkouts, and sandbagging senators in hallways and elevators.

At the end of all things, Ford remained scarcely knowledgeable about the location and time of the assault than she was months earlier in her original anonymous complaint. Nor could she yet describe how she arrived at or left the party that may or may not have taken place in 1982. That Ford retained a crystal-clear account of having consumed just one beer and that Kavanaugh played the Hollywood role of a cruel, smirking, drunken, and privileged preppy groper were sensational accusations but not supportable.

After two weeks of the televised melodrama, the country rejected the therapeutic mindset and preferred what was logic and rational—without dismissing the chance that Ford somewhere at some time had experienced some sort of severe trauma.

 In Ford’s case, that meant that being empathetic or even sincere did not translate into being credible. Logos (word) and ergon (deed) have never been synonymous. The country was finally asked to believe that because Ford told others of the assault 30 years later, that admission was de facto proof that the event really happened—and happened just as Ford described. But since when was sharing a story proof that the story therein was believable?

Serial Fibs and Fables

The Democrats’ strategy to derail Kavanagh encouraged the appearance of serial accusers—on the theory that the quantity of accusations could do what the quality of any individual testimony could not. Activists had little idea that the opposite usually occurs when such serial testimonials lack substantiation: like falling dominos one knocks down the next all the way back to the beginning. And so the wreckage of serial fibs and fables from all sorts also helped to undermine Ford’s credibility.

When the Deborah Ramirez yarn and the Julie Swetnick fantasy collapsed, along with those of accusers four, five, six, etc. (that inter alia had included charges of rape while out to sea off Rhode Island, a tag-team sexual assault with Mark Judge in the backseat of a car, and throwing ice), Ford’s narrative appeared even less credible. Instead it became just one of many fictions; the first accuser became different from the rest only in the sense of being the first rather than the only one credible.

But Ford’s problem was not just that her memory was inexact and often nonexistent about the details necessary to substantiate her quite serious charges aimed at destroying not just a nomination but the totality of an individual and his family, 36 years after an alleged teenaged encounter. Instead, the rub was that Christine Blasey Ford inadvertently became the best witness—against Christine Blasey Ford.

She had claimed that she was afraid of flying, but by her own admissions she was a frequent flyer.

She claimed the event took place in the early 1980s but also the mid-’80s—but also summer of 1982. Thus, her reported age at the time of the incident was equally fluid as a middle teen or late teen.

She swore that she had no idea that Senate investigators were willing to fly to California to interview her to accommodate her aerophobia—an offer splashed over the media for days.

Her halting answers to questions about her legal assistance funding, her past experiences with lie detector tests, the existence of any tapes or videos of her lie detector interview, and the content, accessibility, and nature of her therapist notes were either self-contradictory, illogical, or incomplete.

An ex-boyfriend turned up to question her narratives in a sworn affidavit alleging that she was demonstrably neither aerophobic nor claustrophobic—and perhaps far from being a novice in matters of taking lie-detector tests. Instead, he suggested that she had used her psychotherapy skills to coach her doppelganger friend how to massage such a test—a Zelig-like best friend who unfortunately also turned up at the hearings, and may well have hosted Ford before the Senate circus, and also allegedly may have tried to pressure one of Ford’s friends to massage her earlier condemnatory denials. [RG Comment: This is a reference to the mysterious former FBI agent Monica McLean, about whom much remains to be uncovered.]

Reporters had noted Ford’s two-front-door remedy for anxiety was not necessarily a result of post-Kavanaugh stress syndrome as much a far earlier mercantile gambit to cash in on the Silicon Valley rent boom, where an extra room with a separate roadside entry meant a lucrative attached rental.

That the same ex-boyfriend claimed that an unfaithful Ford had also ripped him off for $600 in credit card bills (presumably a demonstrable accusation given banking records) did not help her case that she was a babe in the financial woods without a clue about her growing and lucrative GoFundMe account, or who in fact had paid her legal and prep bills and how—facts at odds with Ford’s adolescent demeanor of supposedly lost innocence.

So Many Stories

Senate prosecutor Rachel Mitchell might have proven in court more a depositioner than an inquisitor in her seemingly circular questioning, but in retrospect she proved a brilliant interrogator nonetheless in getting Ford to testify to a host of things that simply could not all be true—and would come back to haunt Ford in Mitchell’s damning summary of Ford’s likely untruths.

And why exactly were there so many contradictions as outlined in Mitchell’s written summation?

Christine Ford in July may have had no idea that her original anonymous accusation would ever become sensationalized publicly, much less put her into a position of trying to reconcile a number of irreconcilable narratives.

Instead, Ford had initially thought a single anonymous but poisonous letter would do the trick far better than had previous weeks of grandstanding

Democratic baiting, demonstrations, and walkouts. A last-minute drive-by and anonymous charge of sexual assault would panic Republicans with the mere whiff of #MeTooism, shock and cower a goody-two-shoes, family-man Kavanaugh, and thus force a beleaguered, pre-midterm-anxious President Trump to withdraw the nomination—all without the disclosure of Ford’s name and thus without any further need to substantiate her narratives.

As a side note, in this context, I am confused by the bipartisan outrage solely directed at Senator Dianne Feinstein’s or her staff’s lowdown leaking of Ford’s name. Of course, it was unethical and so typical of the twilight years of the senior senator from California. But, then again, so is authoring an anonymous hit piece without any corroborating evidence but with misleading written assertions (such as how Ford sought “medical treatment” for the assault—without disclosing she meant marriage counseling 36 years after the fact.) It seems far less noble to charge Kavanaugh with sexual assault anonymously than to have come forward at the outset and demonstrate the charge transparently. The cloak of anonymity does even more damage to the idea of jurisprudence than does the unethical removal of it by a would-be enabler.

Yet the radical change of events that followed the disclosure of Ford’s name did lead to discovery of lots of Ford narratives with still more to come.

There was the narrative in Ford’s original letter to U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), which wound up in Feinstein’s hands.

There was the therapist-notes narrative (released in part to the press but strangely not to the committee).

There was the Washington Post interview narrative.

And there was the Senate committee testimony narrative.

By the time of the last narrative, Ford had given one too many.

Sincere, Empathetic . . . But Not Credible

Taken as a whole, Ford’s problem was not just that she couldn’t remember key details, but that she remembered all sorts of different things depending on when and to whom she related the latest narrative. More incriminatingly, her narratives seemed to change key facts about the number and sex of apparent partygoers and the vague date and general area of the assault in ways that might enhance her latest iteration of the story.

What destroys credibility is not just a lack of memory, but more so the presence of too many memories that are selective, self-serving, and mutually contradictory.

Thus far the consensus has been that Ford was sincere and empathetic, but not credible. But more and more, it appears that she was all at once not credible, quite insincere, and perhaps completely unfeeling, at least in saying so many things that were not only unprovable, but demonstrably false and sometimes quite hurtful to her friends—and all apparently for the progressive end of stopping a qualified right-leaning jurist by destroying his character and reputation.

 Ford had insisted on privacy concerning her own health problems, but gratuitously questioned the veracity (and by extension selfishness) of her friend Leland Keyser’s testimony by suggesting to the world that Keyser was suffering certain with “health challenges” (specifically, “Leland has significant health challenges, and I am happy that she is focusing on herself”), that might explain their differing memories. In other words, we were presented with something like “my friend perjures herself when she contradicts me but does so because she has medical problems and focuses on her treatment for them rather than on the ‘truth’ about me.”

Finally, the new progressive Democratic Party was especially dense in all this. Senate Democrats kept clamoring for more testimonials to buttress Ford’s charges, but at each juncture of a new witness offering relevant knowledge, the very opposite effect followed of further eroding her veracity. And in a brave new world without evidence, in which “sincerity” and “empathy” mutate into “believability,” and “her truth” is synonymous with “the truth,” why would the counter-testimonies of a boyfriend or best friend be any less believable than Ford’s, much less required evidence of their own? Why call for a supplemental, one-week FBI investigation (months after Feinstein had prevented just that) when all knew that after a week a once-praised FBI would summarily be damned for not finding Kavanaugh guilty of something?

In the end, Ford was perhaps fortunate that the entire circus ceased when it did. Had investigators probed any more deeply the recent accusations of her once long-term boyfriend, the strange but multifaceted role of her lifelong but apparently conniving friend Monica McClean in the Kavanaugh allegations, the passages of the therapist tapes, the exact circumstances surrounding the lie-detector test, the long odyssey of Ford’s original accusation through Feinstein’s staff to Democratic committee members and the media, and the sources of Ford’s judicial support, there might well have been more incompatibility with the ever growing number of Ford’s narratives.

In the end, we were left only with the Stalinist mantra “to accuse is to be believed”—but, of course, not even the current accusers in the future would

 


William S. Frankl, MD, All Rights Reserved