Are you surprised that Borat lies too?

It was during the 2008 election that I realized I couldn’t bring myself to vote for John McCain for President. Earlier that year VADM Mike Rogers visited my command and my wife and I had a chance to meet him at a social event. The man was very well spoken and shared quite a few good sea stories while demonstrating a sharp intellect. Friends of mine that had worked for him had previously vouched for him as a hard working, honest person. So when he was nominated to become the NSA director, I had to watch his nomination.

To my horror, Senator John McCain interviewed VADM Rogers and treated him like dirt. Not only did he constantly interrupt him, but he belittled his experience and used the interview to score political points against others. The previous members, mostly Democrats, had asked hard but fair questions and acted decently. That incident caused me to look further into Senator McCain’s record, which wasn’t impressive.

Since I couldn’t bring myself to vote for him, I decided to check out the Libertarian candidate, Bob Barr. He held a rally at Christopher Newport University, so I went to see him. After his speech, he mingled in the crowd to shake hands. I mentioned to him I was in the Navy, and he recalled his time in Panama when he worked for the CIA. Since I had his ear, I had to ask him about his appearance in the “Borat” film.

Rolling his eyes, he told me his entertaining story. “Borat” showed up with sufficiently forged papers that made him look relatively official. The audio you hear in the movie is dubbed, because during the actual interview, “Borat” spoke in a low voice so that Barr couldn’t hear all the words. Once Barr realized it was a setup, he promptly stopped the interview.

Barr’s appearance in “Borat” wasn’t big news, so I didn’t have much reason to doubt his claim. At the time, it was an entertaining story, and I took away the lesson that Hollywood will gladly lie to you to make a movie. Flash forward, and here we are again, this time with a new “Borat” movie that claims to have Rudy Giuliani undressing with an underage girl. Sure, its possible, but given how “Borat” movies are filmed, I’ve got my doubts.

So count me out for the new “Borat” film. I can’t see it in theaters anyway, and I’m sure I can find something else useful to do.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

All the news that fits we print

By Christopher Harper

After nearly 50 years as a journalist and journalism educator, I can no longer stomach the mainstream media, which have become apologists and censors.

After the New York Post published an account that linked the younger Biden’s influence-peddling to his father, almost every major “news”organization ignored the startling revelations.

In the old days, when the media actually pursued news, every outlet would have been chasing the story to confirm what the Post had reported.

After ignoring the revelations on Hunter’s computer, the media posited some of the ridiculous claims that the Russians were engaged in a disinformation campaign.

It didn’t matter that the nation’s intelligence chief dismissed those claims. Instead, “news” organizations contacted their paid consultants to confirm, without any direct knowledge, that Russia had done Donald Trump’s bidding.

However, suppose you look at the facts. In that case, the link between Hunter’s questionable activities and his father’s position, the case against Joe Biden is far stronger than anything the Democrats have thrown against Trump.

In this era of the media, however, that doesn’t count because news organizations have been propagandists for Biden.

In one of the most pathetic examples, the Washington Post’s David Ignatius portrays Hunter as a victim rather than a perp. “This is smoke without a fire. Hunter Biden erred. His father has said so quietly but clearly. He should get on with the business of trying to put the country back together after Trump’s ruinous presidency,” Ignatius wrote.

When these “news” organizations tried to cover up the story, Facebook and Twitter went to work to censor it.

The Post’s Twitter account was shut down. Facebook stopped the sharing of the story. 

Glenn Reynolds, the founder of Instapundit, was surprised when USA Today rejected his weekly column.

Fortunately, he published it on his website in which he takes the “news” organizations and the tech giants to task. See https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/

“Had Facebook and Twitter approached this story neutrally, as they would have a decade ago, it would probably already be old news to a degree… Hunter’s pay-for-play efforts were already well known, if not in such detail — but instead, the story is still hot. More importantly, their heavy-handed action has brought home just how much power they wield and how crudely they’re willing to wield it. They shouldn’t be surprised at the consequences,” Reynolds wrote. “And while this heavy-handed censorship effort failed, there’s no reason to assume that other such efforts won’t work in the future. Not many stories are as hard to squash as a major newspaper’s front-page expose during a presidential election.”

I took one step to express my dissatisfaction. I canceled my subscriptions to the New York Times and the Washington Post. I am no longer convinced that these organizations are interested in telling the truth. 

Their standards of “all the news that’s fit to print” for the Times and “democracy dies in darkness” for the Post seem hollow these days.

Selling fear

By Christopher Harper

When I walk our dogs each day, I don’t wear a mask outside because no studies show any reason to do so.

If I encounter anyone along the way, many pull up their masks as though I pose a danger.

A few weeks ago, we were cutting a dead tree from our garden, and our neighbor came storming out of his house because we weren’t wearing masks.

I see these incidents as examples of the success of the Democrats’ approach to selling fear during the pandemic, resulting in many peoples’ minds turning into emotional mush.

This anxiety and fear have permeated many people’s thinking when we should be looking to the future. The lockdowns throughout the United States may be taking a more significant long-term toll than the disease itself.

New research has added to the growing body of evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a heavy mental health toll on people who are not directly impacted by the disease.

A new study of 12,000 workers and executives in 11 countries found that more than 80 percent of those surveyed complained about the pandemic’s negative effect on their mental health. Those surveyed said they suffered from sleep deprivation, poor physical health, reduced happiness at home, or isolation from friends.

A CDC survey found that thoughts of suicide had increased among several groups in the United States: those between ages 18-24 (25.5%), essential workers (21.7%), and minority racial/ethnic groups (18.6% Hispanic, 15.1% non-Hispanic Black).

The homicide rates in many cities have risen dramatically. In August, a Wall Street Journal analysis of crime statistics among the nation’s 50 largest cities found that reported homicides were up 24% so far this year, to 3,612. Last week, Philadelphia recorded 363 murder victims, which was more than all of last year with nearly three months left. This year the murder rate has exceeded the number from every year since 2008. If the trend continues, there will be 113 more murders in the city, bringing the total to 476, the highest since 1990 and the third highest on record.

I may be naive, but it seems that there is a relatively simple solution to many of these issues: tone down the rhetoric and get people interacting once again in a safe environment.

The emphasis on making people afraid of one another and locking them down is likely to have far more negative effects over the next few years than the pandemic.

The Democrats should think about what one of their most beloved presidents, Franklin Roosevelt, said, “[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself–nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Diplomacy done right for Taiwan and India

Image from: https://www.imrmedia.in/india-rattles-china-appoints-new-envoy-to-taiwan/

Perhaps the only country not having a horrible 2020 might be Taiwan. Taiwan was one of the few countries to fight the spread of COVID-19 well, despite its proximity to Communist China. Later in the year, multiple US Navy vessels transited the Taiwan Straits, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated that the US is “a good partner for security” for Taiwan.

Now, on the day that is celebrated as Taiwan’s Independence Day (10 October, or “Double 10” day), #TaiwanNationalDay is trending throughout India. Communist China tried to snuff it out in advance with a strongly worded “reminder” that there is only one China. Not long ago China and India were fighting each other along their mountainous border, so its no surprise that this “reminder” found its way to the press. The reaction by Indians is telling. Even better, the timing is great, with Secretary Pompeo meeting with top Indian officials at the end of the month to discuss how to deepen ties between India and the United States.

After taking Hong Kong, China showed the world it will weather any storm of protests to achieve its own goals. Anything short of hard military and economic power doesn’t work. People continue to protest the horrible maltreatment of Uighurs and development of South China Sea artificial islands, and yet nothing has changed. The only reason China hasn’t grabbed Taiwan is the risk it faces of US military action. To get over this, China has built a navy now larger than the US (at least in terms of number of ships) and modernized its ground and rocket forces.

Traditional thinking would condemn the US to build an even bigger military, and recently Defense Secretary Esper called for just that: a 500 ship Navy. That’s currently a pipe dream, because we can’t even man the Navy we have now. The Navy currently has roughly 350,000 Sailors; an increase to 500 ships would require gaining at least 200,000 more, not to mention ships and Sailors take time to build and train.

But India? India is already worried about China. India is already in conflict. If Taiwan brings India into any future conflict with Communist China, its a winning move. China doesn’t want to fight on two fronts. It might be able to hold off the US long enough to cement gains in Taiwan, but its not going to do well if India pushes into its western territories. Worse still, if a place like Tibet or Xinjiang decides to not rejoin China, that could drag any conflict out for years, dragging down the economy and the Chinese middle class in the process. That’s a double whammy, because Communist China has to provide a good economy in exchange for not being a democracy. If the economy goes south for too long, it risks revolt.

Deepening ties with India is a smart move for Taiwan and the US. Let’s hope we get more of this diplomacy to stave off future conflicts.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

The Biden money tree

By Christopher Harper

As DaTimes delves into the illicitly obtained tax returns of Donald Trump, the news organization has failed to analyze the finances of Joe Biden, who heralds himself as the “common man.”

That common man and his wife made more than $30 million over the past two years through book deals and speeches, costing about $100,000 a pop.

What is appalling is all the information about the Biden family and its shenanigans that DaTimes fails to follow up on, preferring instead to continue its partisan attacks on Trump.

As I delved into the Biden family finances, I was surprised to find the most detailed account in POLITICO before it jumped on the Biden bandwagon. See https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/08/02/joe-biden-investigation-hunter-brother-hedge-fund-money-2020-campaign-227407

As the former vice president rolled out his tired speeches for another run, POLITICO analyzed the sleazy back story of how Biden’s family took advantage of his government positions.

That story is far more than Hunter’s recent antics in China and Ukraine. The story goes back to Biden’s first days in the Senate.

As POLITICO puts it in the 2019 investigation, “[V]entures, over nearly half a century, have regularly raised conflict-of-interest questions and brought the Biden family into potentially compromising associations. This investigation offers the most comprehensive account to date of the politically tinged business activities of Biden’s brother and son, and is the first time former associates of James and Hunter have alleged that the pair explicitly sought to make money off of Joe’s political connections.”

As Joe was entering the Senate in 1973, including a seat on the Banking Committee, his younger brother James operated Seasons Change night club with help from unusually generous bank loans.

From 2001 to 2008, Hunter worked as a Washington lobbyist for the banking industry—a period when Joe pushed a sweetheart deal on bankruptcies that benefited his son’s employer, MBNA.

James and Hunter take over Paradigm Global Advisors as Joe sat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Paradigm was the first of several such companies that James and Hunter used to expand into China, Ukraine, and elsewhere, riding on the coattails of Joe’s government position.

With his brother as vice president, James joined HillStone International, which in 2011, obtained a $1.5 billion deal to build houses in Iraq.

In 2013, Hunter traveled to Beijing with his father on official business. While there, he introduced his father to his Chinese business partner, Jonathan Li of Bohai Capital, with whom he had concluded a lucrative real estate deal.

In March 2014, Russia invaded Crimea’s Ukrainian peninsula, and Joe led the Obama Administration response. A month later, Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings gave Hunter Biden a lucrative board position worth $600,000 a year.

Perhaps DaTimes should expend the same amount of effort in unraveling the Biden family’s fortune as it did on Donald Trump.

The grain of salt for military opinions

Same goes for military intervention…

Every election there seems to be a string of retired military flag and general officers that come out of the woodwork to support one candidate or another. The media acts like these opinions really matter, and we’ll hear endless debate about what “the generals” think. But do these people’s opinions really matter?

Like any good question, the correct answer is “it depends.” First, retired military members can share whatever opinion they want. Active duty members are restricted on what opinions they can share, since they work for the executive branch of the government. That’s why you see the disclaimer at the bottom of my articles, and why I don’t get too edgy on any sitting President from either party. Retired military members don’t have these restrictions, despite what people may think or want.

OK, so they can talk, but do they say anything useful? Most retired flag or general officers were in the service for between 25 and 40 years. That translates to somewhere between 8 to 16 different duty stations. Many of these were in different states and different countries, so in terms of understanding how different parts of the world work, these officers were certainly exposed to that. Moving between different continents exposes them to the good and the bad of how countries operate and the issues each country faces. This is particularly important when thinking about foreign policy, where the U.S. news service is terrible at covering issues like the water crisis in the Sudan, competition between Russia and China in central Asia, and the continuing problems in the Balkans.

There is a caveat to this that is really important. Military members go to places that have trouble. We don’t send people to Africa or the Middle East because its fun. Every overseas tour or travel is in the lens of failed diplomacy or democracy, so the member is there to fix it. Civil war in Yemen? Shoot some missiles in and kill some bad guys! Military members are primed for action. That’s not a bad thing. The military mindset of solving problems is positive, but it has two drawbacks. First, we hesitate to say “not my problem,” and second, we value U.S. intervention over others.

Let’s look at Syria for the first issue. Syria is a mess. We have Russia attempting to maintain influence in the country, especially since it owns a major naval base at Latakia. Turkey, a NATO ally, and Syria share a long, not the best defined border that has a host of illegal crossings. Then we have Iran shipping weapons and people across a poorly controlled Iraqi border to Syria. Combine that with a government focused on maintaining power rather than protecting its own people, and you have a California-sized tinder box just waiting for a gender reveal party.

So, could we go in and sort it out. Yes! Whats the cost? I’d start at ~5,000 U.S. deaths and we’d need to sit there for at least 15-30 years. Sounds crazy? Well, we won World War 2 over 70 years ago and we’re still in Germany and Japan. Maybe that’s not fair, let’s go with when the Berlin Wall collapsed…that’s still 44 years! Thirty years might be an understatement. That sounds a lot like colonization, and is guaranteed to get us a lot bad press.

Is there suffering in Syria? Yes, and at horrible levels. I’m not denying that. There is a lot of suffering all over the place. Should we care about Syria? Yes. But that’s not the important question. The important question is:

Do we care about Syria enough, and more than anyone else in the area, to commit to a very long term stay that will cost American lives?

It’s like a mortgage that you can’t sell back. You buy a house with a 30 year mortgage. You can just walk away, but it’ll rot and rust, and someone else might move in. That’s our problem with making everything our problem. We simply don’t have the resources to fix every problem in the world. We should pick and choose wisely. I wasn’t surprised when President Trump pulled the U.S. out of Syria. I was surprised by the backlash from military members. That’s the first big issue with retired flag and general officers: they all too often don’t ask whether we should get involved at all.

The second issue is valuing U.S. intervention over others. We talk the talk about loving our allies, but lets be honest, only about a handful are capable in any sort of extended, high intensity fight. That’s OK, because they’re allied with us, but it also makes them wary of jumping feet first into what looks like reckless U.S. intervention. Everyone loved being part of the first coalition to free Kuwait, but once we freed Kuwait, there was no desire by other countries to turn north to Iraq. We invaded Iraq years later to topple a really bad dictator, and we had allies come with, but they weren’t exactly thrilled. Our allies were happy to jump into Afghanistan, but after it dragged past four years, that enthusiasm waned.

When our allies work without us, it takes them longer, and our retired military members make plenty of comments like “we should support them,” without asking whether it makes any sense. When Mali fought Islamic insurgents and France wanted U.S. support, President Obama asked them to pay for it. He’s not wrong, because the correct question to ask is, are we willing to stay there for a long time? Most Americans can’t find Mali on a map, let alone pick out any U.S. interest in that country.

We also need to ask a really hard question about what retired admirals and generals do when they get out of the service. A few of them retire and “go fishing,” but plenty get another job, and most of these jobs are with major defense contractors. If I’m working at Raytheon and the government is shooting a lot of Raytheon missiles, I’m keeping a nice job for many years to come. Its the hammer tool problem: if all you have is a hammer, the world is full of nails. If you go from working 30+ years on solving military problems, then shift to a job making military equipment, you are likely inclined to think the military is the only (or at least, the best way) to solve problems. In many cases you are right, but there are plenty where you are not.

That’s the grain of salt you need for retired military opinions. Are they valuable? Yes! Retired military have different experiences than the populace, and their understanding of the world has value in many cases. But it comes with its own biases and special interests that aren’t obvious at the outset. We need to keep that in mind when we determine how much value to place on someone’s opinion.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, Raytheon Corporation, or any other government agency.

Why we need robotics in the classroom

Autonomous mower from Left Hand Robotics, image from their website

By now, most kids are in school. Well, at least attending school in some fashion. My kids, like many, are in an online program, cobbled together by our local school by administrators that likely ask questions like “The files are IN the computer?” Like most people, we’ll find a way to manage and try to get our kids ready for their adult lives, despite the flawed setup.

When we eventually go back to school, we need to ask harder questions about how well our schools are preparing kids for future careers. One area we’re missing is how we’ll work with autonomous vehicles in the future. We see much talk about autonomous cars, but there are plenty of other areas where autonomous vehicles are quietly proliferating. Too many people focus on jobs that would be taken away. Yes, jobs are going to leave, but new ones will appear. The new jobs require humans that are used to, and can work with, autonomous vehicles as they perform their tasks.

For example, there is a lot of investment in autonomous trucks. Long haul trucks move goods across the country, and the lack of sufficient capacity became obvious when Amazon and other delivery services struggled under the weight of COVID restrictions and increased demand for home delivery. Autonomous vehicles can operate longer and safer, but they aren’t ideal for all circumstances, such as icy roads. The human driver of the future needs to understand how the vehicle works, how to maintain it, and when to take over to keep the truck safe.

Construction vehicles are another area. Currently construction is viewed as a low education job. Its not (think about the engineering that goes into road construction), and in the future it’ll require even more education. Autonomous construction vehicles are now operating in remote sites, running 40 ton excavators and doing the dirty work while humans supervise the project. Before long, construction workers will need expertise in setting up sensors, monitoring equipment, directing an army of robots to build bridges, roads, solar arrays and the other things that make our world a pleasant place to live.

Robots that are out of sight are also getting attention. Underground digging by the BADGER robots in Europe could completely change how our cities are built and enable us to bring in new services (water, sewer, internet, etc.) without requiring expensive and obtrusive digging. Dredging harbors, necessary to ensure enough water depth for container vessels, could become completely autonomous thanks to a new underwater vehicle. These robots can do the dirty work and operate around obstacles using autonomous logic, but they can’t determine what to do. That’s still for humans to perform.

The more we get our kids used to directing and working with robots, the better they will be positioned to work in the future. Technologists are quick to announce the demise of any particular field, but the future is always a hybrid first as new technology adjusts to the reality of the world. Our future with robots is no different, and our kids will work in that future better if we make our schools prepare them for it.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is wrong, there was a riot goin’ on in Kenosha

Car dealership last Sunday in Kenosha

By John Ruberry

The headline is a reference to the Sly and the Family Stone album from 1971, There’s a Riot Goin’ On. He’s largely forgotten now–although some his songs remain recognizable to the masses–but Sly Stone was the Prince of his day, a crossover artist, that is, he was very popular among blacks and whites. His band, unusual for the time, was multi-racial. Just like Prince and the Revolution.

The album title was a sarcastic reference to the riot that broke out when the band couldn’t, or Sly Stone wouldn’t, show up for a performance at Grant Park in downtown Chicago the prior year. Stone had a reputation for blowing off gigs, which added to the excitement, as well as the tension, of a Sly concert. Will the superstar show up?

Well on July 27, 1970 tension prevailed when Sly and the band were a no-show. Store windows were smashed, police cars were set on fire, rocks and bottles were thrown at cops, and three people were shot in what the contemporary media called a riot. Because it was one. The Chicago Sun-Times front page headline from the next day read “Rock fans in riot, 90 injured, 148 held.” Looking back to my own youth in the Chicago area I can now understand why my parents were horrified when I expressed my interest in going to rock concerts later that decade. The subhead of that Sun-Times article read, “Battle starts in Grant Park, spills over into Loop.” A look at the media images available on Google of the riot confirms the diverse spectrum of Sly Stone’s fan base.

Fifty years and a month later there was a riot goin’ on sixty miles north of Grant Park in a small Wisconsin city that has been devoured by Chicago and Milwaukee suburban sprawl, Kenosha.

Except Wisconsin’s largest newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, didn’t call it a riot, instead is chose such tame words as “unrest” and “disturbance.” Readers of the Journal Sentinel complained which led the paper to publish an article that explained the apologist tone (my words) of last month’s coverage of the Kenosha riots that broke out after Jacob Blake, a black man with an open warrant for his arrest, was shot seven times by a police officer in what is clearly a tragedy.

From that paper:

As we’ve seen in cities around the country this summer, protest participants and the activities surrounding them often change throughout the day and night. Peaceful protests can happen all day long and then fires can be set or violence occurs late at night by people not associated with the protesters. Would it be fair or accurate to label all that happened that day a “riot” — especially in a headline summing things up? We don’t think so.

And there are historical racial overtones in the use of that word in America.

As Dorothy Tucker, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said on the PBS NewsHour in June, “There is concern that it is automatically labeled as a riot if it is African-Americans who are protesting, but it’s not labeled as a riot when you see the same kind of destruction after a concert or after a sporting event. So there are words that have that association.”

Of course the Journal Sentinel sent reporters down Interstate 41-94 to see Kenosha for themselves. There was vandalism, arson, and looting. In short, a riot. I visited Kenosha–after the riots were over–twice last week. My blog reports are here and here. Downtown every business was boarded up. So were the churches. Most horribly, an automobile dealership with about 100 cars in its inventory saw nearly every one of its cars set ablaze. Near that dealership Kyle Rittenhouse, an Illinois teen, allegedly shot two people and wounded a third during the, ahem, disturbance.

What occurred in Kenosha met the commonly accepted, unless you are woke, definition of a riot.

Yes there are peaceful protests and peaceful activists protesting the death of George Floyd and other outrages. But Antifa and the like, as I’ve remarked before, are using these protests as a Trojan horse to raise hell. See Portland. Even Chicago’s liberal mayor, Lori Lightfoot, admitted so, albeit in slightly more moderate language last month as I noted in this space before. “What we’ve seen is people who have embedded themselves in these seemingly peaceful protests,” she told Face the Nation, “and have come for a fight.”

With such reporting on “facts” it’s easy to comprehend why readership of daily newspapers such as the Journal Sentinel continues to plummet as these publications are more concerned about appearing woke and satisfying the left-wing echo chamber they choose to inhabit.

In another Chicago reference, a Black Lives Matter organizer, Ariel Atkins, said of looting, “That is reparations.” A New York BLM leader supported her claims.

Last week the Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web James Freeman said of such contorted reporting and the questions of why the Journal Sentinel purses such a strategy, “No doubt citizens nationwide have the same question for many politicians and members of the press corps who have lately been extremely creative in conjuring euphemisms for destruction and lawlessness.”

Thankfully one such mainstream media euphemism for riots, which dates back to the Occupy movement, “mostly peaceful,” has been for the most part placed into forced retirement, but only because of repeated ridicule on Twitter and other social media platforms. As Mark Levin quipped on his show a few months ago, “Mostly peaceful means mostly violent!” But as you’ll see “mostly peaceful” has not been completely eradicated.

As for Kenosha, as I mentioned before, every downtown business was hit by looters. Even on the edge of the city malls were struck by vandals and thieves. Those businesses of course employ people. Families are supported by them.

There was a riot in Kenosha last month. A three-day long one.

Even if Milwaukee Journal Sentinel refuses to say so.

It could be worse. A chyron graphic on CNN with the backdrop of the cars on fire in the dealership pictured on top read “Fiery but mostly peaceful protest after police shooting.” That image was so wrong even Brian Stelter of the network criticized it.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Normalizing deviance on abortion and MAGA

Trailer for the movie “Unplanned”, from unplannedfilm.com

The first time I heard the term “normalized deviance” was at a Project Management group meeting when one of the members (an aviator) described how dangerous it was to fly with multiple equipment waivers. As he described it, once you got used to a piece of equipment not working, it eventually just became accepted, and that lowered the drive to get it fixed. He called that “normalized deviance, and he compared it to smoking marijuana. Twenty years ago, most people considered smoking marijuana illegal. Now? We’re likely to see it legalized in less than ten years throughout the country.

Normalizing deviance comes from constantly doing something that is supposed to be wrong or illegal, and by constant exposure, cause people to accept that behavior. Marijuana use is a great example. If you attended college in the last 20 years, you probably knew someone that smoked marijuana, and they probably were an OK person. Soon it was easy to question why marijuana was illegal. Dangerous substance? So is tobacco and alcohol, but we allow those. “Gateway drug?” Probably not, according to plenty of other studies. Combine that with health and even medical benefits, and soon it is OK to openly support marijuana use.

Normalizing deviance, although it sounds bad, isn’t necessarily wrong. It’s what broke down barriers to inter-racial marriage, or rampant anti-Catholic bias among new immigrants to America. Unfortunately, in the areas of abortion and open support to President Trump, its a troubling trend. In the case of abortion, its accepted that you can’t support women’s rights without also supporting abortion. This flies in the faces of the millions of women that are pro-life, yet its simply accepted in a large part of society.

The other normalized deviance is physical altercations on any Trump supporter. It’s accepted by too many people that if you put up a Trump sign in your yard, or wear a MAGA hat in public, you’re likely to get vandalized or attacked. That shouldn’t be the case. As a young boy during the 1996 Presidential election, I remember getting signs from all three Presidential candidates, mainly because I thought it was interesting. Rampant sign destruction didn’t happen, and when signs were damaged, people didn’t justify it. That’s not the case anymore.

If conservatives continue to allow this normalized deviance, it’ll be near impossible to openly speak about abortion or support conservative candidates. While plenty of people will simply stay quiet and vote conservatively anyway, it’ll be nearly impossible to raise enthusiastic support, especially among young people who are more inclined to be open about their beliefs and opinions.

It’s not enough to simply push back. Making movies like “Unplanned” and scoring legal victories like Nick Sandmann did are good starts, but that can’t be the end state. It not enough to be grudgingly tolerated in the background. The baseline has to be that you can be a woman and be pro-life, and that you can put a sign in your yard and reasonably expect it to stay up. Until that happens, we haven’t normalized enough conservative deviance.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

DaTruth and DaTimes

By Christopher Harper

Against the backdrop of the investigations into Russia and Ukraine, the New York Times failed to mention one of the most egregious failures about the region propagated by the news organization itself.

Fortunately, a recently released motion picture, Mr. Jones, provides the details of how DaTimes manipulated the American public about the Soviet Union and the Ukraine famine, which resulted in the deaths of millions of people.

The film, directed by Agnieszka Holland, recounts the story of Moscow bureau chief Walter Duranty, a chief propagandist for Josef Stalin, and how Welsh journalist Gareth Jones tried to unmask the gross falsehoods created by the then-venerated Times scribe.

Duranty, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Soviet Union in 1931, dismissed Jones’ first-hand accounts of the famine, known as the Holomodor.

Here are some excerpts from Duranty’s reports:

–New York Times, November 15, 1931: “There is no famine or actual starvation, nor is there likely to be.”

–New York Times, August 23, 1933: “Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda.”

–New York Times, December 9, 1932: “Enemies and foreign critics can say what they please. Weaklings and despondents at home may groan under the burden, but the youth and strength of the Russian people is essentially at one with the Kremlin’s program, believes it worthwhile and supports it, however hard be the sledding.”

–New York Times, May 14, 1933: “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.”

At the time, Duranty was so influential that his reporting is credited for convincing FDR to establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.

Although Jones and others provided extensive evidence to refute Duranty’s reporting, it wasn’t until 2003 that the Pulitzer Board and DaTimes itself finally sought outside analysis of the work.

The Pulitzer “Board determined that Mr. Duranty’s 1931 work, measured by today’s standards for foreign reporting, falls seriously short…. However, the Board concluded that there was not clear and convincing evidence of deliberate deception, the relevant standard in this case….The famine of 1932-1933 was horrific and has not received the international attention it deserves. By its decision, the Board in no way wishes to diminish the gravity of that loss. The Board extends its sympathy to Ukrainians and others in the United States and throughout the world who still mourn the suffering and deaths brought on by Josef Stalin.”

Ironically, DaTimes’ review of Mr. Jones only references Duranty in passing. At least that’s more than what DaTimes said during the recent debate over Russia and Ukraine. 

H/T to my wife Elizabeth for suggesting we watch the film! See the trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=15&v=wtWSyFNT9qY&feature=emb_logo