Sunday Funnies; No Holds Barred

And so this week, AG Barr testified, or at least tried to, since the Demonrats wouldn’t let him speak.

The more things change…

Ahead of the curve

Write your own caption

And, of course

Four Things and they’re All Important

Several things today starting with Governor Kristi Noem on reopening schools.

Doing governance as it should be done.


Rachel Bovard at The Federalist has some thoughts about Big Tech and Monopolies.

Conservatives have alleged for years that these companies exhibit a bias against conservative points of view despite the fact that entities like Facebook and Google constitute a “global town square” and see themselves as key facilitators of free expression. This allegation has only grown louder as conservative members of Congress were shadow-banned. […]

In a January field hearing, the antitrust subcommittee heard testimony from small tech businesses who recounted in detail how Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon were “wielding their massive footprints as weapons, allegedly copying smaller competitors’s features or tweaking their algorithms in ways that put new companies at a costly disadvantage.” Or, in the words of Patrick Spence, head of the speaker company Sonos, the platforms “leverage dominance in one market to conquer or destroy adjacent markets, especially markets that may one day pose a threat to their dominance.”

Amazon, in particular, is dealing with discrepancies between what they told Congress — that they do not use third-party sales data to set prices for Amazon-branded products — and what their employees told the Wall Street Journal. Amazon is also facing allegations that they met with startups about investing, only to swipe other companies’ ideas for their own product lines.

Google has faced allegations that it self-preferences its search results, demoting non-Google results even when the information contained therein was more relevant to an individual’s search. The Wall Street Journal reported that Google has altered its search algorithm on behalf of big businesses like eBay while modifying search results for terms like “abortion” and “immigration.”

None of this would matter so much if these companies didn’t wield such unprecedented amounts of power. But when Google constitutes 92 percent of worldwide internet searches, the opaque, unaccountable ways the company decides to filter information has tremendous consequences for business, human behavior, and independent thought.

Conservatives are rightly skeptical of government interference in the marketplace. But violations of existing antitrust law in the form of anticompetitive behavior isn’t regulation, it’s law enforcement. As the supposed champions of small entrepreneurs, conservatives should want to ensure that the field of commerce and innovation is fair and equally accessible.

Many on the political right have said for years that people unhappy with social media platforms should just “build their own.” So shouldn’t those same people want to make sure they still can?

The Threat to Individual Privacy

As an industry that makes money from the commoditization of hyper-individualized data, Big Tech knows more about us than any industry in human history. Indeed, Big Tech’s business model is based on knowing where we go (physically and virtually), what we say in our emails and text messages, what we buy, and even what our voices sound like.

This presents huge policy ramifications around what is “ours” and what is “theirs.” Do human beings have a property right to their data trail? Should there be limits on the type of data companies collect, what Big Tech can do with our data, or who they can share it with?

Consider that under a provision of HIPAA, hospital chains have shared the names, dates of birth, and medical histories of up to 50 million Americans with Google without the knowledge or consent of the patients or doctors. Google won’t say what they’re doing with the data, or the data they’ve recently acquired on 28 million users of Fitbit. In this bizarre legal landscape, Google has a right to your medical record, but you don’t.

These companies are also serial violators of individual privacy, despite presenting themselves as the opposite. Google reads our emails. Facebook reads our texts. Google still tracks the location of users who turn off geolocation services.

There quite a lot more and you should read and understand what she is saying.

Here is my take: I’m basically libertarian on economic policy, which most of you know BUT and its a big but: When the founder’s set up our government they endowed it with checks and balances against any branch becoming all-powerful. Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 28:

Power being almost always the rival of power, the general government will at all times stand ready to check the usurpations of the state governments, and these will have the same disposition towards the general government. The people, by throwing themselves into either scale, will infallibly make it preponderate. If their rights are invaded by either, they can make use of the other as the instrument of redress. How wise will it be in them by cherishing the union to preserve to themselves an advantage which can never be too highly prized!

This has worked reasonably well over the years, but as business grew so large it became a power center in its own right, as we see now in Big Tech, where Google, for instance, will not cooperate with the US Department of Defense but is readily willing to work with the Chinese military. There are plenty of other examples. So, it seems that the government must be the check on unchecked business, because no other entity is large enough to do so, especially including other businesses. Here too it is as Madison said in Federalist 51

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.


Via CNN:

Herman Cain, the former presidential candidate and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, has died from coronavirus, according to an obituary sent from his verified Twitter account and Newsmax, where he was launching a television show.

May he rest in peace having fought the good fight.


And finally, Sgt Joe Friday has some words for Antifa and Black Live matters that ring as true today as they did when written in 1968.

 

 

Sunday Funnies, Wild Pitch

People should refrain from publically demonstrating they are wimpy nerds.

Then there is the team with no name™.

 

This

I don’t know either!!

A reminder

And, of course

Sunday Funnies; Liberate America

Interesting that some of my English friends, especially in the original rebel province, East Anglia, went out of their way to tell me how much they enjoyed yesterday’s video. Well, Norfolk is sort of a prototype for the great plains, and it always amuses me that we have many buildings here in Nebraska built to English specs. What’s that? No the control towers on many of our airports are of a Royal Air Force design, and the aircrew that trained there, well many of them went on to Norfolk, to help free Europe. Many are still in England and we’ll remember them this weekend.

Now that is a proper salad bar.

Hi Tina!

And, of course

Special bonus video from Audre

All Manner of Things Shall be Well.

So what to talk about, I’ve read the horror stories, of local officials and even judges, gone full totalitarian, but I’d be surprised if you haven’t too, and it’s really up to those people’s voters to redress the problem. I hope they do, relentlessly. Americans have never shown much tolerance for totalitarian behavior, it’s one of the things that makes us different, and why we lead the (more or less) free world. But I’ve little to add to what has been written.

But we are far enough through this to raise our heads a bit and look around. We, the peoples who seventy-five years ago tonight, defeated Nazi Germany (and soon Imperial Japan). We, the English speaking peoples did that, almost alone. Remember at Argentia Bay in 1941 when Churchill and Roosevelt met, the United States had just passed the draft (by one vote). And almost alone in the world, the Anglosphere was actually free, Four years later we were victorious all around the world.

Now we cower at the flu. How’d that happen? The best way to understand the future is to study the past. So let’s do so.

While reflecting on our plight in the current pandemic, CNN’s Brian Stelter recently lamented, “We’ve never lived through something quite like this. We have nothing to compare this with!” It is true; we have never lived through a pandemic like this, but others have.

He’s right, of course, but the reason we don’t hear much about them is that we marched on. We’ve had many opportunities to curl up in a ball and give up. What we are today is the result of that ferocious will to life and liberty, but we’ve watered it down, because of an easy life, I suspect.

I wonder what our medieval predecessors would think of our societal reaction to this virus. In short, they would marvel at our fear and melancholy.

There Are Things Worse than Physical Death

Imagine how a premodern person might judge this reaction. We have shut down life. We reassert our faith in “science” and big government at every turn. We saddle our children with even more crippling debt. We forbid church but keep the marijuana flowing. We release criminals but threaten or actually arrest people for enjoying the outdoors. The health crisis is not unprecedented; our reaction to it is. Others have lived through health crises much worse. How did they respond?

One example of the typical medieval approach is the Venerable Bede (circa 673–735) in his “Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation.” As a matter of course, Bede recounts a few destructive famines and plagues. He mentions a “bitter plague” in the fifth century that killed so many people so quickly, there weren’t enough survivors to bury all the dead.

Another terrible plague came to England in 664. It began in the south and worked its way north through Scotland and then over to Ireland. It broke out sporadically over the next 25 years and, according to Bede, swept away a “great multitude” of people.

The disease struck young and old alike. Bede tells of a 3-year-old boy who died and another “little boy” of uncertain age who succumbed. Monks and nuns in the monasteries were dying daily. When he was about 13 years old, Bede survived an outbreak in the Jarrow monastery. He and the abbot were the only survivors in the monastery who could still recite the psalms antiphonally and keep the daily prayers going.

Bede’s main historical interest in the plague is not to give a physical or scientific description of how the victims died, although he details a few of the symptoms. He focuses instead on their emotional and spiritual state. In sum, they died with great courage. The slow, agonizing death afforded an opportunity for reflection, repentance, and consideration of what is most important in life and in death. This is what premodern Christians called “the art of dying.” It is now a lost art in a culture that seeks to repress the inevitability of death at all costs.

Yes, the fear of death was real back then, too. The extent of the plague’s devastation tempted some of the new Christians to return to paganism in their desperate search for relief. But Bede’s eyewitness account is dominated not by fear but by courage. Bede and his contemporaries knew there are things worse than physical death, which is why their fear was not paralyzing.

In addition to the courage displayed in the face of a plague, another striking characteristic of Bede’s narrative is the overall attitude of joy. Right in the middle of what some persist in calling the “Dark Ages,” Bede reports that five years into this unfortunate epidemic was also a time of peace and increased learning. He claims there was never a time “more happy” since the Angles had arrived in Britain.

It wasn’t that life was easy. Their great joy was the result of a trust in something more powerful and enduring than the disaster of the moment and the temporality of human life.

And the patron saint of historians is not deceiving us, this was the time of the great flowering of Anglos-Saxon Christianity, which overcame all, even the pagan Danish hordes.

As Boethius observed from prison, his good fortune had spoiled him. It has done the same to us, leaving us woefully unprepared to confront challenges that should be familiar to the human race. Fortune has turned, and only slightly so far, but enough to expose our emotional and spiritual fragility in the face of adversity.

We should hear the wake-up call to steel ourselves, individually and corporately, for what may be harder times to come. What’s more, perhaps we need to reclaim a more stirring vision of ultimate reality, one that will inspire more courage and joy for facing the present crisis.

Read the whole post here, it’s well worth your time: Our Ancestors Would Be Amazed At Our Cowardly Coronavirus Hysteria.

The linked author is entirely correct, of course, this is what comes of putting our selves in God’s place. Yesterday, the Midweek Hymn at The Conservative Woman ( which you should be reading) was: Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus. Its back story is an example of the art of dying as well, but this is a hymn (and a quick march) of the Church Triumphant. I remember it well from my younger days. Now it has fallen into disuse, and the Church is hardly triumphant any more either, much of it lying prostrate at the feet of secular culture, and the reaction to Chines Bat Flu is the result.

We Americans, like our British cousins, have had our dark days, when all seemed lost, Valley Forge comes to mind, marching barefoot, if not quite naked, in the snow, with a smallpox epidemic raging through camp, while they starved, and most of the enlistments due to expire, is about as bad as it gets, but those men kept the faith, and mind all the constituent parts of the British have faced equal trials and won through to the quite incredible world we live in today.

When things get bad, and no one is going to gainsay they are bad now, maybe not as bad as that winter at Valley Forge, but bad, it’s time to get moving. I’ve often thought that the name Valley Forge was entirely appropriate for in that valley was forged a new nation, one that would look much like its motherland, and so, like her, come to lead the world.

But we imported other things too, like a soldier from Cornwall, who would lead the 7th Cavalry at the first of Ia Drang, singing an old Welsh song in a kind of counterpoint to the 7th Cav’s Irish march. He would do so again on 9/11, as he saved almost all of the people, he himself being one of the exceptions of his company, for he was last seen going up the staircase, as is our wont. This is what he was singing.

Let us go, and do likewise

Always remember with Mother Julian of Norwich that:

He said not ‘Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased’; but He said, ‘Thou shalt not be overcome.

Speaking Softly while Carrying a Big Stick

The Big Stick

Conrad Black writing yesterday in American Greatness described how a great power acts. Let’s follow along.

It is not too soon to examine the shifting strategic balance in the world in the light of the unfolding coronavirus crisis and its economic and political consequences.

Though he gets little credit for it—even from his supporters, who tend not to be overly sophisticated foreign policy specialists—President Trump has carefully developed a subtle foreign policy. This policy is based on a definition of America’s interests that is not adventurously overstretched like Lyndon Johnson’s plunge into the ground war in Vietnam or George W. Bush’s energetic support for democracy—even in places like Gaza, Lebanon, and eventually, Egypt, that had little aptitude for it and democratically elected anti-democratic politicians. Nor is Trump’s foreign policy the wavering pacifism and overly earnest pursuit of adversaries as President Obama attempted with Iran.

Trump has revived the concept of nuclear non-proliferation in the case of untrustworthy states (Iran and North Korea) and has left local disputes to be worked out locally, where it wasn’t practical for the United States to maintain force levels adequate to prevail over local balances.

Rather another case of ‘threading the needle’ neither the Charybdis of intervening where we have little or no interest (perhaps beyond those who believe in the ‘forever wars’ that have so disenchanted the American people) and the Scylla of isolationism, which would negate any interest of the United States (and the Western Civilization that we revere). It’s not an easy task as many British diplomats in the 19th and early 20th centuries would attest.

This is how a sensible Great Power maintains its influence, by defending what is important, ignoring what isn’t, avoiding unnecessary confrontations, and sorting out abrasions without humiliating anyone—except where serious provocations require disproportionate responses, as in the execution of Iranian Quds Force  General Qasem Soleimani earlier this year.

Franklin D. Roosevelt concluded that an American presence was required in Western Europe and the Far East to prevent those key regions getting into the hands of enemies of this hemisphere. The resulting policy of “containment” was devised by Roosevelt’s strategic team and executed by President Truman and his successors and imaginatively refined on two occasions. Richard Nixon triangulated Great Power arrangements with his opening of relations with China, and Ronald Reagan pushed to build a comprehensive high-altitude, laser-based, missile defense system which implicitly threatened to undermine the entire Soviet nuclear deterrent capability. The combination of Chinese diplomatic and high-technology military pressure caused the peaceful disintegration of the Soviet Union.

You will, of course, remember that at Reykjavik, Gorbachev offered to put the whole Soviet missile inventory on the table to get the SDI removed. Reagan said no, knowing it was a war winner, and it was, even the American threat to deploy it was.

And now comes China:

China is becoming technologically and commercially skilled, but it has very few resources. A chronically overaged population is developing after their insane “one-child policy,” and the Chinese are extremely vulnerable to American pressure, both on tariffs and in America’s ability to encourage official Taiwanese separation. Despite its swashbuckling, China is in no position to challenge the United States for mastery in the world’s sea lanes, and China’s neighbors look to America for encouragement. Trump has given it to Japan, India, and others, quietly. Like Japan before World War II, which was importing 85 percent of its oil from the United States while it invaded China and Indochina, China today would be severely compromised if the United States blocked its ability to dump goods in sophisticated markets.

In economic as in other matters, the United States is able to outbid almost any country for the goodwill of a third party, as is demonstrated by the Europeans’ accommodation to American sanctions on Iran, which they opposed.

China is the enemy in what is shaping up to be the new cold war and another one that could go hot. The US Marine Corps is already reconfiguring itself away from the small war ethos that has dominated since the Clinton years toward a maritime-based policy design to cripple China, which is very dependent on its unfair trade practices, a fact exacerbated by the Chinese flu and especially the cover-up perpetrated by the CCP. The US, however, if we can recover our balance, and increasingly it looks as if the people have taken over that problem (Time to go back to work) that will happen. As Trump’s ad said this week, we did it before and we can do it again, and if western civilization is going to survive we have to.

 

And we would be wise to remember some words of Adali Stevenson:

Communism is the death of the soul. It is the organization of total conformity – in short, of tyranny – and it is committed to making tyranny universal.

As an afterthought, I note that the US-UK trade talks started yesterday, once again there is hope that it may again be as Maggie Thatcher observed…

During my lifetime most of the problems the world has faced have come, in one fashion or other, from mainland Europe, and the solutions from outside it.

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