The Case for Getting Rid of the CIA and the FBI

by baldilocks

This morning, I shared this very long piece by Angelo Codevilla, who outlines what close observers have figured out for themselves.

What, then, is CIA good for?

Its founding myth combines a historical falsehood with reference to technical circumstances that have not existed for at least a generation. (…)

The truth that analysis of Intelligence must include a multiplicity of sources, and that a central repository of information is needed for that, was always the strongest argument for the existence of some sort of central facility where “all source analysis” could be done. But, since at least the 1980s, computers have made it possible and imperative for all analysts, regardless of their location, to access everything securely. Nowadays, ironically, CIA’s insistence on managing the access and distribution of information is the biggest barrier to universal, all-source Intelligence analysis.

Today, CIA is good for confidential meetings with the New York Times, the Washington Post, NBC News, etc., through which it joins—if it does not lead—campaigns to shape domestic American opinion.

What is the FBI good for?

Once upon a time, FBI foreign counterintelligence officers were cops first. Like all good cops, they knew the difference between the people on whose behalf they worked, and those who threaten them. They had graduated from places like Fordham, a Catholic, blue-collar university in the Bronx. Like T.V.’s Sergeant Joe Friday, they wore white shirts and said yes, sir, yes, ma’am. Unlike CIA case officers, FBI officers mixed with the kinds of people they investigated, and often went undercover themselves. The FBI jailed Capone and dismantled the Mafia. Because it used to take counterintelligence seriously, it was able to neutralize Soviet subversion in the USA. The old joke was that, in any meeting of the U.S. Communist Party or of its front groups, a majority of attendees were FBI agents. The only U.S. Intelligence penetration of the Kremlin was the FBI’s recruitment of a U.S. labor activist whom high-level Soviets trusted.

In the late 1970s, that began to change. Director William Webster (1978-87) refused to back up the officers who had infiltrated and surveilled the New Left’s collaboration with the Soviets against America in the Vietnam War. Webster also introduced contemporary political correctness into the FBI. Asked by the Senate Intelligence Committee why his FBI had neither infiltrated nor disrupted the Jim Jones cult that resulted in the deaths of 900 Americans in Jonestown, Guyana, he answered that he would no more have interfered with that religion than with the Catholic Church. Not incidentally, the Jim Jones cult was associated with the Democratic party.

Thus FBI officers became standard bureaucrats who learned to operate on the assumption that all Americans were equally likely as not to be proper targets of investigation. They replaced the distinctions by which they had previously operated with the classic bureaucratic imperative: look out for yourselves by making sure to please the powerful.

Take a cup of coffee or tea and read the whole thing. And I should point out that I’m old enough to remember when it was considered paranoid and crazy to believe that the intelligence agencies were domestic enemies of the American people.

Their concerted efforts against Donald Trump, however, have turned out to be a vast miscalculation.

Do I think that these agencies could be scrapped? Yes, but one might liken it to surgical removal of an aggressive cancer: expensive and painful, the body will need time to recover, and the surgeons will have to monitor the patient for new growth.

It can be fixed but it will never be over.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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China, socialized medicine, and me

Hundreds of people wait to register to see a doctor in Guangzhou, China.

By Christopher Harper

If you want to see what socialized medicine looks like, China is a classic example—a system unable to meet the needs of many patients in normal times that crashes into chaos when a crisis occurs like a coronavirus.

During my travels throughout China over the past five years, I was able to see the system up close and personal. See https://datechguyblog.com/2018/06/05/healthcare-in-china/

While the wealthy can pay for the best care with foreign doctors, most people are relegated to overcrowded hospitals. In the countryside, residents must rely on village clinics or travel hundreds of miles to find the closest facility.

The country does not have a functioning primary care system. China has one general practitioner for roughly every 7,000 people, compared with the international standard of one for every 1,500 to 2,000 people, according to the World Health Organization.

Another major issue, particularly in a crisis like a coronavirus, is the system for handling patients at hospitals, which often is the place where most people go for treatment.

When I went to a hospital in Guangzhou, the third-largest city in China in the southern part of the country, I registered to see a doctor and waited for one hour to see a physician to diagnose a persistent cough.

I sat in a large waiting room to see the doctor—where you can get sick from some of the other 60 to 70 people with a variety of illnesses.

The doctor seemed competent during my five-minute visit, but I then had to go for tests, waiting for another two hours with 50 other people because the hospital closes for lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

It took only a few minutes to get the results of an EKG, but the blood tests came after two hours.

I then saw another physician—in my case, another hour of waiting—before receiving three prescriptions to soothe my chest cough. It took another 30 minutes to have the prescription filled. Again, those waiting for prescriptions amounted to roughly 100 people.

By the time I was done, I’d been around hundreds of people, with a variety of diseases that I could have gotten, and they were exposed to my illness.

All I had was a chest cold and needed a prescription for some medicine. A visit, which would have taken me 15 to 30 minutes with my family doctor in the United States, took more than six hours in China.

But there’s more. At the time I was getting my chest cold diagnosed, hundreds of thousands of children were found to have been injected with faulty vaccines, amplifying the already existing frustration with the health care system.

In recent years, scandals have erupted over bribes to physicians from those who could afford to pay to move to the front of the line for critical treatments.

In my experience in China and elsewhere, socialized medicine may be adequate as long as there is no serious health threat.

Here’s what every voter should ask a Democrat candidate for president: Would you prefer socialized medicine fighting the coronavirus or the current system that exists in the United States? For me, the choice is pretty simple.

Who is Mike Bloomberg?

By John Ruberry

As expected because Michael Bloomberg is rising in the Democratic polls, there’s a backlash from the far-left against his candidacy. The far-left of course is no longer a fringe within the Democrat Party. Socialist Bernie Sanders has a very good shot of winning the Democratic nomination. The Vermont senator will almost certainly lose to Donald Trump if he gets the Dems’ nod in Milwaukee, but Bernie will set a new record for highest percentage of vote collected by a self-admitted socialist, the previous high was the six percent collected by Eugene V. Debs in 1912, which until recently was seen as an astoundingly high amount.

Times have changed but not that much. A majority of Americans do not want socialized medicine, oops, make that “Medicare for All,” the Green New Deal, and student loan bailouts.

But most Democrats oppose Trump, no, make that they despise Trump. And with the collapse of the not-so-left wing campaign of Joe Biden, some Dems are looking at Mike Bloomberg as their savior.

Bloomberg was a lifelong Democrat until he successfully ran as a Republican for mayor of New York in 2001. Then he quit the GOP and ran as an independent for mayor in 2009, winning again. Now he’s a Democrat again.

As mayor Bloomberg kept Rudy Giuiliani’s successful CompStat policing program. New York endured 2,245 murders in 1990.Three years Guiliani was elected, now annual murders in NYC hovers around 300. CompStat floods dangerous neighborhoods with police officers–and until recently stop-and-frisk was part of policing in those crime-ridden areas. Last week leaked audio emerged from 2015 where Bloomberg supports it. “95% of murders — murderers and murder victims — fit one M.O. You can just take a description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities, 16 to 25,” Bloomberg said. “The way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them … And then they start … ‘Oh, I don’t want to get caught,’ so they don’t bring the gun. They still have a gun, but they leave it at home.”

Remember, the Dems are the party of Black Lives Matter. When former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley said at a Netroots even “All lives matter,” he was booed and then he quickly apologized.

Whatever happened to O’Malley?

This morning Politico found a 2013 videotape where Bloomberg, not favorably, compared an NYC teachers union to the National Rifle Association. That’s a problem for Bloomberg, as the Democrats, among other things, is the party of the public-sector unions. The same unions that have destroyed the finances of many states and cities, most of them run by Democrats

New York City hasn’t been hit as hard by the pension bomb as much as Chicago, which is bankrupt-in-all-but name because of unfunded public-sector union pension obligations, and Bloomberg deserves some of the credit for that. As he was leaving the mayor’s office Bloomberg warned of a “fiscal straitjacket” for cities and a “labor-electoral complex that has traditionally stymied reform.”

Bloomberg got rid of, or at least eliminated, the infamous “rubber rooms” for New York public school teachers who were paid to do nothing, while still getting paid by taxpayers, as they awaited their dismissal hearings.

So Bloomberg, in my opinion, did some good as mayor. Now he has apologized for his support of stop-and-frisk. Now Bloomberg has to make peace the public-sector unions. Look for other embarrassing video and audio clips to emerge. Surely staffers from the remaining Democratic campaigns are scouring the internet and public records; hey, they even may be scanning Babylonian tablets looking for dirt on Bloomberg.

Like Trump, Bloomberg has not released his tax returns. He promises them “soon.”

Bloomberg risks looking like an opportunist who will change his views to be elected president. The NeverTrump movement of 2016 within the GOP accused Trump of being a Democrat who was masquerading as a Republican to win the White House, one who would govern as a Democrat. Of course that hasn’t happened, Trump is the most conservative president since Ronald Reagan.

There’s much for woke Democrats, the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wing, to hate in regards to Mayor Mike.

Just as I am in this post, the far-left wing of the Democrats will be wondering, if they are not already, just who is the real Michael Bloomberg.

Republicans and many independents already know who the real Donald Trump is. Love him or hate him, Trump is genuine.

People don’t like phonies. They don’t like sneaky people, and Hillary Clinton has been a sneak for decades. So it’s pretty funny that according to the Drudge Report, Bloomberg is considering HRC as a running mate, even though one of them will have to declare residency in another state because the Constitution prevents a presidential ticket with two candidates from the same state. 

Back to the beginning of my post: Most Americans don’t want a socialist president.

The Democrats might need a new candidate to rescue them. Biden of course has already failed. Who else do they have? Martin O’Malley?

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Buttigieg and the Military Service Check Box

by baldilocks

From last month at the Wall Street Journal (subscription required):

When Mayor Pete Buttigieg talks about his military service, his opponents fall silent, the media fall in love, and his political prospects soar. Veterans roll their eyes.

CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Mr. Buttigieg Sunday if President Trump “deserves some credit” for the strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. “No,” the candidate replied, “not until we know whether this was a good decision and how this decision was made.” He questioned whether “it was the right strategic move” and said his own judgment “is informed by the experience of having been on one of those planes headed into a war zone.”

But Mr. Buttigieg’s stint in the Navy isn’t as impressive as he makes it out to be. His 2019 memoir is called “Shortest Way Home,” an apt description of his military service. He entered the military through a little-used shortcut: direct commission in the reserves. The usual route to an officer’s commission includes four years at Annapolis or another military academy or months of intense training at Officer Candidate School. ROTC programs send prospective officers to far-flung summer training programs and require military drills during the academic year. Mr. Buttigieg skipped all that—no obstacle courses, no weapons training, no evaluation of his ability or willingness to lead. Paperwork, a health exam and a background check were all it took to make him a naval officer.

Wow.

Combat veterans have grumbled for decades about the direct-commission route. The politically connected and other luminaries who receive immediate commissions are disparaged as “pomeranian princes.” Former Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus became a Naval Reserve officer in 2018 at age 46. Hunter Biden, son of the former vice president, accepted a direct commission but was discharged after one month of service for failing a drug test.

I’ve never understood the need to overestimate the importance of one’s military service or to pretend to understand aspects of it outside of one’s field and be accepted as an expert simply for having served. However, I guess that’s due to the fact that I’m not a politician. (And even though I had four AFSCs during my career, I can’t even tell you that much anymore for two reasons: a great deal of it is classified and I have brain-dumped a lot of information. My hard-drive has its limitations.)

But this guy didn’t even have to go to Officer Training School! Now, I’m told that the military will occasionally use this form of commissioning to fill essential billets which are difficult; physicians and lawyers, for example. But why would the Navy need a paper-pusher wearing O-3 bars?

Answer: to credential this particular person for his planned future as a politician. No need for any real hardship — like being awakened at Oh-Dark-Thirty for exercise. He’s in; he spends some time in Afghanistan behind the wire; and then he’s back to the states with a check mark inside of the military service box.

I don’t see the point in bothering with this sort of thing anymore especially since our last two presidents have had no military service. But, if they must, I’m sure that there are thousands of worthy Democrats who at least have Basic Training/OTS under their belts. Why this one?

I’d give Buttigieg this: at least he didn’t get booted for being a crackhead.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Andrew Jackson’s censure was expunged, what about Trump’s impeachment?

By John Ruberry

Last week of course President Donald J. Trump was acquitted by the Senate after being impeached by the House. Ironically the acquittal comes in what was arguably the president’s most successful week in his 37 months in office. His not-so-loyal opposition, the Democrats, embarrassed themselves by taking several days to count 170,000 or so votes ending up with results, essentially a tie between Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders, that leave more questions than answers.

Last week the stock market reached new highs–again. The employment numbers that were released on Friday were great–again. His State of the Union speech, which extolled “the Great American comeback,” given the evening before his acquittal, was enthusiastically received by his base, as was his “victory lap” celebration at the White House on Thursday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi looked petty–wait, make that she was petty–as she ripped up her copy of President Trump’s SOTU speech.

“Trump keeps going,” Greg Gutfeld said on his Fox News show last night. “He doesn’t have the wind at his back. He’s got a Category 5 hurricane.”

In a feeble defense of why the House impeached the president, Pelosi said in December, “He’ll be impeached forever.” On Wednesday, Acquittal Day in the Senate, Trump was forever acquitted.

Trump’s favorite president is Andrew Jackson. Ironically he was the founder of the Democratic Party. In 1834, after Old Hickory removed federal funds from the government-chartered Second Bank of the United States and deposited them in state banks, the Senate censured Jackson. In 1837 the Senate expunged the censure.

There is talk of the House expunging Trump’s impeachment, which, like the expungement of Old Hickory’s censure, will be symbolic. Then again, “impeached forever” is largely symbolic too. Last week House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said he favors it. “This is the fastest, weakest, most political impeachment in history,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think it should stay on the books.”

Calling it, again, “a total political hoax,” Trump supports McCarthy’s suggestion.

If the Republicans retake the House this year, look for the 117th Congress to expunge Trump’s impeachment.

A lot has been made of Trump’s demeanor, most of it criticism from his opponents. But Jackson, who killed a man in a duel, tops Trump in bellicose talk. As he was leaving office in 1837, he asked by his successor, his second vice president, Martin Van Buren, if he had any regrets. He had two, “[That] I didn’t shoot Henry Clay and I didn’t hang John C. Calhoun.”

Clay led the censure battle. Calhoun was Jackson’s first vice president and who was a primary figure opposing Old Hickory during the Nullification Crisis.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

California Assembly Set to Outlaw Choice

No, not that one

by baldilocks

Assembly Bill 5 (CA AB5) wasn’t the California Political Left’s first tactic in tightening the noose on the state’s citizens and it isn’t the last one.

This tactic won’t be the last one either: meet Assembly Bill 2070.

Assemblyman Marc Levine has introduced a bill that would require every registered voter in California to cast a ballot in elections beginning in 2022.

“We’re not compelling anyone to vote,” Levine, a Democrat who lives in Marin, said Thursday. “We’re asking them to return the ballots that have been sent to them or come in and cast a ballot. If they don’t want to mark a vote on that ballot, if they’re not informed about a particular issue or campaign, then that’s fine. This only applies to registered voters, people who have expressed an interest in voting. (…)

As drafted in its preliminary form, AB 2070 leaves it up to the California Secretary of State how to enforce the proposed mandate. Levine said he has been contemplating ways to address low voter turnout for five years.

“In 2014, we had ridiculously low voter turnout across the state, including the North Bay, which usually votes in very high levels,” he said. “I’ve been working on this issue since then.” (…)

I’m sure that all Californians are so looking forward to finding out what the enforcement methods are. It is for certain that money will be involved. Those public troughs aren’t going to fill themselves.

“This is extreme government overreach,” [Vice chairman of the Marin Republican Party Tom] Montgomery said. “I’m not worried about more people voting. I’m worried about the government taking our choices away from us. The Democrats place such an emphasis on a woman’s right to kill her unborn child, but they want to take away my choice of whether or not I cast a ballot.”

A few months back, I pointed out that Jungle Primaries have been the law of the land in California since 2010, which has given us all Democrats, all the time. But, considering the voter turnout, few are willing to bother showing up at the polls. In 2022, that will change because …

You, my fellow Californians, will be made to vote for the leftist of your “choice.” In this manner, the California Political Left will be able to claim a mandate for anything it does. Anything.

Here is AB 2070.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Kobe and the media mess

By Christopher Harper

The coverage of Kobe Bryant’s death underlines just how bad the media have become when covering relatively simple stories.

Here are some of the problems that happened:

–Bryant’s widow Vanessa got the news from TMZ.

–ABC News national correspondent Matt Gutman reported that all of the Bryants’ children were killed.

–The BBC aired footage of LeBron James, identifying him as Bryant.

–Vox and others got the number of people killed wrong.

–Many outlets identified the deceased daughter incorrectly.

–Esquire got the number of championships he won wrong—as well as the number of points he scored in his final game.

–DaTimes misidentified the team James was playing for in March 2018. He was still with the Cleveland Cavaliers rather than the LA Lakers.

As my boss at The Associated Press told me many years ago: Get it first, but it damned well better be right.

But then there’s the worst of all. DaPost’s emphasis on Bryant being charged with rape in 2003, which never went to trial but was settled out of court in a civil case.

Felicia Sonmez, a political reporter at DaPost, tweeted a link to a story from the Daily Beast about the Bryant rape case. After a tremendous negative response, Sonmez tweeted a second time. “Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality,” she wrote. “That folks are responding with rage & threats toward me… speaks volumes about the pressure people come under to stay silent in these cases.” 

Sonmez once accused a colleague from The Los Angeles Times of sexual harassment, and he lost his job.

DaPost’s Editor Marty Baron told her to take the tweets down, which she did, and the reporter was suspended for a minute and a half until her colleagues at DaPost and elsewhere backed her up.

The paper’s union wrote an open letter to Baron and Managing Editor Tracy Grant, accusing them of failing to protect Sonmez and noting that this isn’t the first time management “has sought to control how Felicia speaks on matters of sexual violence.” More than 300 staffers signed the letter.  

DaPost retreated and reinstated Sonmez. In a statement, it said that following a “review,” it had concluded that Sonmez’s tweets were “ill-timed,” but “not in clear and direct violation of our social media policy.” Sonmez was reinstated. In a statement of her own, Sonmez said she and her colleagues deserve to hear directly from Baron.

What’s clear is DaPost and others did a dreadful job of covering a rather simple story of a helicopter crash and ramped it up into an ill-timed examination of woke values. It used to be that a reporter wasn’t supposed to be part of the story. Unfortunately, that long-held ethical value has died, too. 

Illinois corruption investigation breaks wide open with guilty plea of state senator for bribery over red-light cameras and more

By John Ruberry

Last Sunday in this space I wrote about the need to ban red-light cameras in Illinois–and nationwide. One of the reasons I gave was that the easy cash collected from these “safety devices” fosters corruption. Oh, as far as safety, I mentioned in that post that the record on safety involving red-light cameras is at best mixed. They may even cause automobile accidents.

On Tuesday former Illinois state senator Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago), who has close ties to longtime state House speaker Michael Madigan–who also is the chairman of the state Democratic Party–pleaded guilty to bribery, tax evasion, and extortion charges in federal court. Sandoval is now cooperating with the feds.

Sandoval is the former chairman of the senate Transportation Committee. Using the clout from that post, he promised to “go balls to the walls for anything you ask me” to a representative of the red-light camera firm referred to as “Company A” in the plea agreement.

So far that company has not been officially named but perhaps in a verbal misstep, told a judge, “I accepted money in exchange for the use of my office as a state senator to help SafeSpeed, or Company A.”

SafeSpeed denies wrongdoing and in a statement says it is cooperating with federal authorities. 

Politicians are nervous. This weekend on his Fox Chicago show Flannery Fired Up, host Mike Flannery said, “This red light camera company–suddenly candidates, Republicans and Democrats in Springfield and elsewhere are racing to get rid of this money as if it was infected with the coronavirus. ”

Prosecutors say that Sandoval accepted $250,000 in bribes, including $70,000 in bribes to benefit the red-light camera industry. 

It hardly seems that the industry needs the help. According to the Illinois Policy Institute, Illinois drivers have handed over $1.1 billion to municipalities in fines involving red-light camera infractions. Illinois’ largest city of course is Chicago so it won’t shock you that it has more red-light cameras than any American municipality. Chicago, as I also mentioned in last week’s DTG entry, has already endured its own red-light camera scandal. The central figure in that scandal worked his way up the ranks in Boss Madigan’s Chicago ward organization.

Part of the federal investigation involves lobbying done on the behalf of Commonwealth Edison, the local electrical utility.

As far as public interest, the jaded residents of Illinois will have reasons to keep their attention focused on these scandals. Why?

  • Because people hate utilities.
  • They hate red-light cameras.
  • They hate politicians.

Yes, people keep re-electing the latter, but Boss Michael Madigan, the Michelangelo of gerrymanderers, mocks the electoral system by creating legislative districts that all but ensures Democratic super-majorities in the Illinois General Assembly. 

And increasingly, people hate Illinois. The Prairie State has lost population for six straight years. And no, cold winters aren’t the reason. The states that border Illinois, as well as nearby Michigan, are gaining residents. 

As nauseum pols and media figures are calling–again–for “meaningful reform” in Illinois. Here are my suggestions: Amend the state constitution to ban gerrymandering, and bring term limits to the General Assembly–four terms in the House and two in the Senate. Majority leaders, minority leaders, House speakers and Senate president should be limited to four-year terms. And while we are amending the constitution, the pension guarantee clause needs to dropped, but while protecting those recipients on the lower and of the pension scale. 

Did you know that state legislators can be paid lobbyists? Ban that too.

Also, the state needs a strong inspector general with the power investigate General Assembly members. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Wishcasting for California

Bernie won’t win

by baldilocks

In two days, it begins.

Californians start voting Monday in a high-profile Democratic presidential primary that has no clear front-runner and could take longer to count than any previous election in a state already notorious for slow ballot counting.

For the first time, Californians can register to vote all the way up to and including election day wherever ballots are cast, which could mean a surge of last-minute ballots, including last-minute provisional ballots that take longer to count.

Sanders, Warren and Biden are all jockeying for first position here to go against President Trump in November. Our primary used to be on the other Super Tuesday in June, but this year – going forward, I presume – it’s on the first Tuesday in March.

Fifteen counties, including Los Angeles, will replace traditional polling places with “vote centers” where people who live anywhere in the county can vote early, drop off ballots or register to vote. (…)

California has previously allowed same-day voter registration, but only at county elections offices. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation last year requiring all polling places and vote centers to offer the option until 8 p.m. on election day.

But with change comes the potential for hiccups.

You better believe it. For the past few decades, voting in California has been one gigantic hiccup.

If you think that we got this was through some pristine voting process, you are delusional. As I implied here, California’s Organized Left has built the electorate it wants, with massive voter fraud as complement.  But I wonder about something.

I wonder if California can be flipped.

What has me thinking about this is CA AB5. Enacted by the Democrat Super-majority in the California Assembly and signed by Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom – who has also allotted $20 million to enforce it — it has nearly every self-employed Californian wondering when their next dollar is coming from.

Remember: CA’s Political Left wants only three kinds of people in the state: the rich, the dirt poor, and the illegal. AB5 is just another winnowing tool in a long line of them.

So, all the actors, film crews, artists, musicians, hairdressers, costume designers, set designers, and whatnot who have been contracting out their talent for decades have seen  all their livelihoods nearly obliterated by AB5 — the handiwork of politicians put into office by many to most of them.

I’d sure love to see President Trump address how California’s Political Left has betrays them – preferably doing it while holding court the Rose Bowl. Yes, I want to see a Trump rally in Southern California.

Anyway, the California Primary is about to drop off and we will see which one of the Democrats will likely face the president.

I hope it’s Biden because … who doesn’t?

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Why Agnostics Hate Prayers

What people would pay for prayers, from PNAS study by Linda Thunström and Shiri Noy.

Would you pay someone to pray for you? That was the focus of a recently published study, which asked this very question to almost 500 people in the wake of Hurricane Florence. The study separated Christians from atheist/agnostic people, and presented each person with the option to pay for prayers and/or thoughts from different people. On average, Christians would pay more for prayers, and specifically from prayers from a priest, while atheists and agnostics would pay for Christians to NOT pray for them.

While we might comically imply there is a new income source for priests, the paying to not pray is disturbing and highlights two issues. First, atheists don’t believe in the power of prayer. While that’s not a surprise in itself, it does mean we (specifically Catholics) have done a terrible job advertising how prayer works. The second, and more troubling side, is it highlights that atheists and agnostics simply don’t like Christian people.

Contrary to what the media would tell you, prayer does in fact change things. The Catholic Church has been rigorously testing for miracles, and especially for medical miracles (the ones most people think of), most don’t survive scrutiny. For the Catholic Church to declare a miracle, prayers have to be offered to one Saint or person, the condition has to have no chance of healing on its own, and the condition must quickly be cured (as in, it can’t take a long time to heal). A good recent example was the miraculous curing of Dafne Gutierrez, who prayed to St. Charbel and had her sight restored.

I bring examples of these up with my friends who are agnostic, and it surprises them, which means that Catholic media is failing to promote these instances. How do we not have a repository of images, miracle stories and the like? How do we not have social media accounts pushing these stories out for the world to read? Catholic miracles are called out in our Catechism to inspire us, and yet we act like the man who buried his master’s talents. Given the prevalence of platforms like Twitter and Facebook, this is inexcusable.

Worse still is the image that agnostic people have of Christians in general. Ask an agnostic person what their image of a Christian is, and you will likely get some flinching. The media has been bashing Christianity forever, and while Christians might ignore it, the effects are playing out now. More people than ever are identifying as atheist or agnostic, and worse, more agnostic people say they won’t associate with Christians. This, despite the fact that many of the same people know lots of good Christians that they see every day. We are, again, poorly advertising ourselves and our lives, allowing the media to make us out to be the boogey man for atheists and agnostics everywhere.

Christianity, and specifically Catholicism, can in fact die out if we don’t fight for it. The media will gladly hide our miracle stories so that prayers become nothing more than good thoughts in most people’s minds. Worse still, the media will continue to incite violence against Catholics, like the attack on St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1989. It’s not enough for us to live good lives, but we must also show those that have no faith that our lives are worth living.

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