Ham Radio, Homebrew, and great political conversations

I’m writing this week’s article from a rather unusual location – in a tent, in the middle of a farmer’s field, out in the boondocks of Thompson Connecticut.  Surrounding me are three other tents, a few camping trailers, four generators, a bunch of laptop computers, and over a dozen radio transceivers.  Strung up in the trees is about a mile of wires in the form of antennas.  The day before this was an empty field and tomorrow afternoon it will be an empty field again. 

This is my station

The two dozen individuals gathered with me in the middle of this field for the weekend have two things in common, we are all ham radio operators and we all belong to the Eastern Connecticut Amateur Radio Association.  All across this country thousands of clubs gathered in similar locations and thousands of individuals operated from their homes. This weekend all of us Amateur Radio operators are taking part in the single largest emergency communications exercise in the world, which is known as Field Day

Field Day is something we Amateur Radio operators take very serious because emergency communications is the heart and soul of Amateur Radio.  Whenever there is a major disaster such as a hurricane or an earthquake the only communications into and out of the affected area is through Amateur Radio.  We provide essential communications during medium and small scale disasters also. 

For the weekend my club, which is a small club, set up five complete stations.  All of the stations are completely self contained, running on either generators or deep cycle marine batteries charged by solar panels.  The wire antennas are all strung up in trees by ropes.  From these portable stations we were able to contact over a thousand similar stations all across the United States and many across the globe.  I personally talked to France and Sotland along with 30 states..

All year round we plan for Field Day and we continuously practice our emergency communications skills and test our equipment.

Field Day is also a social event.  We always have a potluck supper and we gather together all weekend just to gab.  The club I belong to is one of the hardier clubs, we decided to hold our usual Field Day despite the Coronavirus. 

The social aspect of Field Day allows me to combine two of my other favorite hobbies, brewing beer and engaging political discussions.  Every year for Field Day I brew up a batch of Field Day Amber beer and bring it to share with everyone.  It is always a big hit with the club members. 

Even though we are located in New England there is a large percentage of conservatives and libertarians in our club.  All sides of the political spectrum get along great in our club.  The Coronavirus did not deter any of us right wingers from attending.  This weekend I engaged in a great many enjoyable political discussions with fellow patriots and many liberals.   Beer and political discussions go so great together,

Report from Louisiana: Protests

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Are people protesting where you live?  I know many cities across the nation are dealing with protests, some peaceful, some not so much.

In Shreveport, there have been protests and marches every weekend since the George Floyd incident exploded in the media. The focus of the protest this weekend seemed to center around the Confederate monument which stands in front of the courthouse. This is not news. The monument has been in litigation between the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the parish administration for years now. There is, in fact, another court date tomorrow. The protesters are angry that the monument is still there and want to see it moved to another location. Plenty of them want it simply destroyed.

I have not seen my city more racially divided since 1988 when riots erupted across Shreveport which drew national attention at the time.

Protesters gathered on the courthouse lawn Saturday and paced back and forth on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse bearing large, heavy guns.  Counter-protesters in support of the monument gathered on the sidewalk across the street, also heavily armed. No weapons are allowed on courthouse grounds, of course, and so those with the weapons stayed on the sidewalk while others took turns taking the microphone to speak or share their latest musical endeavor. Club music played over the PA between speakers. For the most part, it was a peaceful demonstration although there were reportedly a couple of arrests and verbal altercations between the two sides.

As photographs of the day, and live video streaming, began to filter onto social media, people expressed outrage and concern at the large number of heavy weapons on both sides.

One car backfire on Texas Street could have turned the whole thing into a very ugly scene.

On the other hand, Louisiana is an open carry state and so as long as your AR15 is visible, it’s just fine to carry it around in public.

The BLM group has vowed to be on the courthouse lawn every Saturday until the monument is removed. As long as they have a permit, they have the right to do this.

All eyes right now will be on the court action tomorrow. The case on the Confederate monument has been in litigation for years, even up to the US Supreme Court (which declined to hear the case); the UDC and the parish are currently using different legal angles and paths to continue fighting in the courts.

Both sides of the issue vow to be in the courtroom tomorrow – this time without the weaponry.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Things would be so much better in the US if the news media was worthy of our trust and respect

All across the board, on every single issue the Mainstream News Media has failed the American people.  They have gone way past failing to inform us on so many key issues, they are intentionally misinforming us.  This has produced truly disastrous results, namely the recent rioting that rocked so many US cities and the Coronavirus lockdowns that have crippled the US economy and destroyed so many businesses.

The Mainstream News Media is more than deserving of the label Fake News, which I will use for the remainder of this article.  They have completely thrown out all objectivity, and are now the propaganda arm of the Democrat party and the progressive side of the political spectrum.  This article News Media Credibility Rating Falls to a New Low indirectly provides the proof of the bias, which reached an extreme level during the Obama Administration, only to be surpassed during the Trump Presidency.

As America grapples with a historic crisis under the leadership of a Republican president who frequently derides the media as “fake news,” new Morning Consult trend data finds Americans’ views of the fourth estate’s credibility have hit a new low during the Trump administration, largely driven by declines among Republicans.

The share of U.S. adults who said nine leading media outlets — including CBS and The New York Times — were credible has dropped roughly 9 percentage points since December 2016, from 60.6 percent to an average of 51.2 percent today. Last year, the average credibility rating sat at 55.4 percent.

As was seen in last year’s analysis, Republicans are driving this drop.

If the Fake News was not so incredibly biased toward the political left then the disapproval ratings of the networks by both parties would be roughly equal.  The drastic lopsidedness of the disapproval and approval is proof that the coverage is severely slanted to one side.

Sadly Fox News is no longer the Conservative powerhouse it used to be and that shows in the media survey.

Fox News is the only media entity to remain relatively unscathed, though the share of GOP adults who find it credible has slipped 6 points since 2016. Two-thirds of Republicans say the “Fair and Balanced” outlet is credible, a figure that’s more than 20 points higher than the next outlet’s credibility rating among Republicans (CBS, at 46 percent). 

The Fake News has particularly failed the entire nation during the Coronavirus and the survey proves it.

The poll comes at a particularly sensitive time for news information, as residents across the country seek out accurate reports on the coronavirus pandemic. Recent polling shows a country divided over the job that news media is doing: Fifty-five percent of respondents in a March 13-22 Gallup survey disapproved of the news media’s handling of the coronavirus in the United States, while a Pew survey, fielded March 19-24, reported that 54 percent of the public said the news media is doing a “good” or “excellent” job responding to the outbreak.

From the very beginning of the Coronavirus crisis the Fake News gave far more airtime to the scientists and experts that had predictions of doom and gloom. I believe this was done on purpose so government officials would lockdown the United States and tank the economy in an attempt to influence the 2020 election.  This has resulted in enormous amounts of pain and suffering as businesses all across the US close for good.

The media is going to keep the panic over Coronavirus going until the election in an attempt to cram through mail in voting everywhere and to keep the economy sputtering along so they can hammer President Trump over it. This Bloomberg headline is proof of that: Virus Surges Across U.S., Throwing Reopenings Into Disarray.

Would the recent riots that resulted in such terrible destruction have occurred if the media had not jumped to the wrong conclusions and taken them to such an extreme during the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown incidents?  Many years of the Fake News pushing the false narrative that the US is still a systematically racist nation provided the fuel and lit the fuse of the recent riots. Fake News needs to be held accountable, not by the government, but by its viewers.

A Modest Proposal to end the National Anthem kneeling conundrum

It has been maintained by many of the National Anthem kneelers and many on the political left that the keeling during National Anthem has nothing to do with disrespecting our flag, our military, or our country.  This was echoed by Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt when he tweeted this:

if you still think it’s about disrespecting the flag or our military, you clearly haven’t been listening.

Was he right about that?  Let’s look at what Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien had to say about this issue:

The players have a right to protest, a right to be heard and a right to be who they are. They’re not taking a knee because they’re against our flag. They’re taking a knee because they haven’t been treated equally in this country for over 400 years.

To me the entire kneeling during the National Anthem is all about disrespecting our flag and everything associated with it.  Why else would they take this action specifically during the National Anthem?

There is no greater expert on this whole kneeling issue than Colin Kaepernick.  Here is his justification for kneeling:

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder

I believe that whole quote is dripping with disrespect for our flag, country, and everything else.  The United States does not have a perfect record when it comes to its treatment of people of color, far from it when you examine slavery, segregation, and racism.  However this country has made enormous strides and is no longer a racist nation.  Protesting racism specifically during the National Anthem is very disrespectful to the flag, our military, and those that gave their life for our country.  It is so disrespectful it pisses me off a great deal.    I know I’m far from alone.  Based on social media and the drop in NFL viewer ship a very large segment of the country agrees with me.

Every single individual has a right to protest as they wish as long as long as they do it peacefully.  That most definitely includes kneeling during the National Anthem.  Because freedom of speech and freedom of expression are two way streets it is perfectly fine to criticize those who kneel.  Some individuals do not understand this. 

It is the timing of the protesting that pisses people off.  Since the kneelers claim that their kneeling has nothing to do with disrespecting the flag why don’t we make them prove it? 

I have just a proposal to end the anthem kneeling situation and make the kneelers prove it has nothing to do with disrespecting the flag.  The NFL, NASCAR, and all other sports associations should specifically set aside time for any athlete to protest racism and racial injustice in any manner they see fit.  The stadium announcers and TV broadcasters should announce the time to protest and the reason behind the protesting.  They should make a big deal about it.  The kneelers will find that they have far more support for their protesting and their cause if the stand during the anthem and protest during that allotted time. 

Report from Louisiana: Into the Mighty Mississippi

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – The issue of monuments persists.

John Ruberry asked in this space, “Where does it all end?”  I’ve been asking myself this question for several years now as we fight in Shreveport to save our Confederate monument. Perceived symbolism aside, our monument is a beautiful work of sculpture in its own right, and fairly unique among other Confederate monuments.

The unhinged left continues to destroy and deface monuments and it seems that logic and reason has gone further and further out the window. All that matters now is that the target is a monument, never mind what it stands for.

In New Orleans this weekend, protesters attacked a bust of John McDonough (1779-1850) in front of City Hall. Armed with a chisel and a skateboard, they tore the bust off its pedestal and tossed it into the Mississippi River:

A group of protesters used a chisel, rope and a skateboard to tear down the bust of John McDonough in Duncan Plaza, doused it in brightly colored paint and rolled it into the Mississippi River on Saturday.

The New Orleans Police Department said at 5:30 p.m. that two people who drove the bust to Jax Brewery to dump it in the river were “apprehended and transported to NOPD headquarters.” Protesters began gathering at the jail near Tulane Avenue and South Broad Street known as the Orleans Justice Center and there were roughly 200 there by 7 p.m.

Their grievance seems to be that McDonough owned slaves.

While McDonough wasn’t a saint, he did leave his fortune to Baltimore and New Orleans for the purpose of forming schools for poor black and white children.

Two of those who attacked the monument have been arrested.

In Kentucky, armed residents formed a line of protection around their Confederate monument against potential attackers.

Nancy Pelosi has called for the removal of eleven statues from Statuary Hall at the Capitol Building. While her letter does no specify which eleven statues, she does specifically mention Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens who served as President and Vice-President of the Confederacy.

Louisiana’s two statues there include Huey P. Long and Edward Douglas White. White was a U.S. Senator and a Chief Justice of the United States, but he also served as a soldier in the Confederacy. Is she targeting this statue as well? It’s not clear.

But again, you see the problem? Where does this end? We can remove monuments, relocate statues, throw busts into the Mississippi, but where does it end? Who gets to decide which ones go? Under whose sensibilities are we all to live? Whose rights take precedence over any others?

Honestly it makes me crazy. I want to wash my hands of all of it and live on a houseboat in the Atchafalaya Basin.

We need to find our way back to reason and learn to get along. Mind our own business. Find a balance. Enough.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Government officials are picking and choosing which individuals get to exercise which rights

I’m living in midsized town called Webster Massachusetts.  Because of the Coronavirus lockdowns the Memorial Day parade was canceled in my town along with fireworks on July 4th.  The local high school canceled graduation.  Businesses were forced to close.  There are three Catholic Churches here, along with a Baptist Church, and several other denominations; all of which have not held services for months. While all of this was not going on a Black Lives Matter protest was held. 

I have no problem with the Black Lives Matter protest being held in my town even though I have many issues with the sponsoring organization, mainly their connection with many attacks on police officers, their anti police officer message, and their Marxist message.  I completely support their right to hold protests and to spread their message.  It bothers me greatly that all of us locals are denied so many of our most fundamental rights while an outside group was able to exercise their rights.

This type of injustice is going on all across this great nation.  Yes free speech and freedom to assemble are such fundamental rights that they are listed in the First Amendment.  The right of all of us to attend which ever church service we wish to as often as we wish is also listed in the First Amendment. 

The right of all of us to do as we please, to come and go as we please, to work where we please, and to run what type of business we want to are all covered under liberty. This most fundamental right is being denied to tens of millions across this nation.   Some individuals are allowed to come and go because they are deemed essential workers, and some businesses are allowed to open because they are classified as essential.  Far too often these classifications do not make sense.  They are made for political reasons.  Governments should never pick and choose winners and losers.  Liberty is a fundamental right that can only be denied to individuals who have been found guilty in a court of law

The Black Lives protests are welcomed by local and state officials.  Conservative groups in many states held protests against the unjust lockdowns.   Were these anti lockdown protests welcomed as warmly?  Were any conservative protests denied or harassed?  I haven’t heard of any instances of conservative permits being denied or harassment but I’m guessing they happened.  If you are aware of any please let me know in the comments.

These lockdowns are unjust along with the business closings.  It is wall past time to restore the liberty and rights of everyone in the United States by opening every state back fully.

Report from Louisiana: Six Feet

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – It does seem like COVID-19 is on the back burner now; with the riots and the protests, nobody is really worried about catching a virus anymore. That whole thing about “groups smaller than ten” and “groups smaller than fifty” sort of vanished.

Here, in Shreveport, we have seen several protests downtown, but they have been peaceful. Saturday, hundreds, maybe over a thousand people, marched through downtown while at the same time the ladies from the United Daughters of the Confederacy held their annual observation of Confederate Memorial Day at the Confederate monument in front of the courthouse. No words were exchanged at all, just everyone practicing their own Constitutional rights.

From a “man on the street” level, it seems that people are just “over” this virus business. Very few of the protesters wore masks and they were by far closer than six feet from each other.

Meanwhile, Governor John Bel Edwards (D) is doing his best to keep his thumb on his people. His restrictions for Phase Two reopening have raised a few eyebrows.

While he has allowed restaurants to reopen, for example, they have moved from 25% occupancy in Phase One to 50% occupancy in Phase Two. Live music is not authorized and dancing is forbidden. (But protests with hundreds of people are okay).

Casinos can reopen, although one of our casinos closed for good during the quarantine. Employees must wear masks but patrons don’t have to. What? One of our casinos has already reported a small Covid outbreak among employees.

Swimming pools can reopen as long as people remain six feet apart.

Apparently the only place that six feet apart rule does not apply is a mass protest in city streets.

There is no guidance whatsoever on the opening of school in August at this time. It is as if nobody needs to make plans or adjustments for this kind of thing. While the CDC has released some initial guidelines for schools, it is unclear whether this applies to schools currently open or if those guidelines are meant for schools opening in the fall. Either way, the guidelines are ridiculously impossible for the most part.

One of those guidelines includes students keeping six feet apart from each other in class and in hallways, which should all be one direction only.

I fail to see the logic in any of it.

If we are so worried about keeping people protected, how are we condoning these protests where all rules, ALL rules, are excluded?

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

These riots are the end result of progressive indoctrination

The death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer was an appalling crime, one worthy of outrage from everyone.  The despicable nature of the crime more than justified widespread protest across the United Sates. 

Unfortunately the protests turned into the wide scale rioting and destruction because far too many college students and young adults have been brainwashed into believing that violence is an acceptable form of protest.  This is something that they are being taught on college campuses.  Had they been taught civics and the original meaning of the Constitution they would know that peaceful protesting is the only valid form of protesting.  Here is the exact text of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The right to protest is a combination of the rights of free speech, assemble, and petition.  The amendment clearly states that the right to assemble must be done peaceably.  Rioting, looting, throwing rocks, and other forms of violence are not peaceable therefore they are not valid forms of protest.

For decades college students, and recently high school students, are being taught that the United States is now, and has always been, an inherently racist nation.  They are receiving a highly edited history of this nation with only the worst components of our history blown way out of proportion.  That has led to tremendous and unjustified anger, especially in the minority communities.

ANTIFA is a common entity on college campuses whose members are very often recruited and taught on college campuses. They are being taught that the use of violence is an acceptable form of expression especially against people who have different beliefs. Check out this Breitbart article

A new poll has revealed that young and college-educated Americans are more likely to support the recent riots that have taken place in major cities around the nation. 58 percent of respondents with a four-year degree agreed that riots are “fully or partially justified,” including such acts as burning a police station down.

Progressive indoctrination has also misled whole generations into believing that capitalism is an unjust system that exploits everyone especially minorities.  That has led to the belief that looting is an acceptable remedy for this injustice.

Restoring our educational system is the best way prevents these riots from happening again.  We must teach again concepts such as liberty, and the original understanding of the Constitution, and the true virtues of capitalism.

Report from Louisiana: Phase 2

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Louisiana is expecting news today from Governor John Bel Edwards regarding moving into Phase 2 and reopening the state.

Whatever else this pandemic has been, it has certainly been the cause for many businesses and restaurants to close permanently. Maybe they were already on the brink of closure and Covid just pushed them over the edge—I don’t know. It seems now that people are just “over it.” I’m seeing fewer people wearing masks than I did a week or two ago. The rioters and looters on my television aren’t wearing masks, either, for the most part.

Louisiana State University has released their plans for reopening the college for the fall semester; plans include social distancing, increased sanitation measures, and random testing of the campus population:

Random testing between 10 and 16 percent of the populations of all LSU System campuses statewide for COVID-19 this fall. Participants would be selected randomly from lists of students and employees, and those selected would be encouraged to participate in the testing, although, not required. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 would be interviewed in an effort to determine who they have been with recently so that accurate contact tracing can be achieved. Every effort would be made to locate and test anyone believed to have been exposed. The goal of this plan is to determine the incidence of the virus on LSU’s campuses and to locate and mitigate any possible clusters of the virus.

The public school system in which I work has not yet released any specific plans, but the discussions sound much like everything else with social distancing and increased sanitation. I’m having a hard time envisioning my 15 and 16 year old students practicing social distancing in the hallways and the very small classrooms. On our campus there is just not a lot of room to spread out classes to keep kids six feet apart or have smaller classes.

Will they have to wear masks? Will I have to teach theme, symbolism, and literary analysis through a mask?

It is hard to imagine.

I have seen discussion in neighborhood social media groups with parents who will opt to home school rather than send kids back to “an environment of fear.” So be it.  That, too, will be interesting to monitor. For example, mine is a Title 1 school in a high poverty neighborhood and not many parents are interested in home schooling their kids. That is not to say none will or that all of our kids are in poverty; that’s not the case. There is a high percentage that are and many struggle just to have regular meals.

The virus numbers do seem to be leveling off, but our challenges are not.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Blind obedience to the government has never been an American virtue

Every time I see large groups of individuals gather to protest the draconian restrictions many governors have placed on their citizens I am happy.  I am also relieved to know that decades of progressive indoctrination has not squashed this in everyone, even though educators and the media have made great inroads.  Far too many have blindly accepted the trampling of their rights and far too many oppose the efforts of their liberty minded friends.  Of course the liberal media has done an excellent job vilifying those who demand a return to the good old days when freedom and liberty were the only normal we accepted.

I am extremely happy and relieved that the mass protests have not resulted in spikes in   virus cases.  It it did happen I know the media would have trumpeted that news loudly. 

When researching last week’s article I came across the perfect example of the type of liberal indoctrination that takes place.  This example was this definition of the rule of law I found on the Merriam Webster Dictionary “a situation in which the laws of a country are obeyed by everyone.”  When I saw the definition I was angered because it goes against so many important principles that are at the core of our great republic.  These principles have been core principles since the first sparks of the American Revolution began.

There is nothing more American than taking a stand against unjust laws.  That notion was at the very heart of the American Revolution.  Thomas Jefferson immortalized this principle when he wrote this in a letter to James Madison:

I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccesful rebellions indeed generally establish the incroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medecine necessary for the sound health of government.

I want to make it clear that I am in no way advocating armed rebellion now or ever.  Nonviolent civil disobedience has always proved to be far more effective.  I am extremely grateful that we have the Second Amendment to protect our God-given natural right to bear arms which is our ultimate defense against a tyrannical government.

We must only accept laws that are just. If they are not we must speak out and protest.  Questioning unjust laws does not mean we do not value the rule of law, it means we properly understand it is a two way street. 

For the rule of law to apply the laws must also be passed by those who have the true authority to pass such laws.  Governors issuing stay at home orders and lockdowns most likely do not have the proper authority under the state constitutions therefore they are not valid laws.

The US Constitution is the supreme law of the land in the United States.  Laws that violate the Constitution are not valid therefore the rule of law does not apply.  We should protest unconstitutional laws more readily.

Many states, including Massachusetts, are way too slow with their reopening process even though the curve of the Coronavirus has trended downward and not just flattened. I am hoping the protests soon kick into high gear.