The Ten Dollar Bill

 

Take a ten dollar bill out of your wallet or purse. Take a look at it. What’s it worth?

“Obviously, ten dollars, Brian”, you’re thinking.

Maybe.

The actual intrinsic value of any object is the cost of its production and/or its rarity. Gold, for example, derives its value from its rarity. But that ten dollar bill isn’t rare at all and is nothing more than a small piece of rag paper and a smidgen of ink, less than a penny’s worth of material. So its intrinsic value is also less than a penny.

But it does have “worth”, a value we as a society agree on as to what it represents. That could be a specific quantity of something that has intrinsic value, such as a rare metal. We saw this when this country was on the gold standard, at which time that ten dollars represented about 1/3 ounce of refined gold metal. You could take the bill to a bank and exchange it for the appropriate amount of the metal.

Once the dollar was delinked from gold, its worth became a much more fluid property subject to the fluctuations of governmental policies. The only physical limit to the production of more ten dollar bills is the availability of ink and rag paper, and since there’s no shortage of either the government can crank those bills out in unlimited quantities should it so deem.

But creating physical ten dollar bills doesn’t create more actual “worth”. In fact, the opposite can take place.

Our current ten dollar bill’s actual worth is based on its buying power. How much of a person’s labor or the physical goods they produce – through agriculture, manufacture, or intellectual creation – does societal consensus allow that ten dollar bill to purchase?

If I raise cattle, John makes cloth and you sell gasoline, how do John and I pay you for the gasoline you sell us? Do you have to accept some amount of cows and bolts of cloth, as well as all the other disparate products and services people produce, to sell your product? The ten dollar bill is the method used to assign a universally accepted value to facilitate the exchange for transactions, replacing the need for actual barter.

As our country’s economic base – our ability to produce goods and services – has increased our supply of ten dollar bills has also increased to make those transactions possible. In a perfectly balanced system there will always be just enough ten dollar bills available to accurately reflect the relative value of each product or service.

If our economic base shrinks, it’s also important to remove some of those ten dollar bills from circulation to maintain balance and currency value. But the real problem arises when the government – which doesn’t actually create anything of value itself (government is a “consumer”, not a “producer”) – turns on the printing press and cranks out a lot of ten dollar bills that don’t reflect any increase in societal productivity. Those “excess” ten dollar bills flood the market, and since they don’t reflect an increase in societal productivity, they dilute the actual value of the ten dollar bills that are already in circulation.

This is what is meant by “inflation”, which is a decrease in the buying power of money. The ten dollar bill buys less.

In fact, graphic examples abound of what happens when governments turn on the printing presses with abandon. In a few short years Venezuela went from being the most prosperous nation in South America to an economic wasteland, its 2018 rate of inflation being an incredible 929,789%. Its money is essentially worthless. In 2008 the inflation rate in Zimbabwe was 250,000,000%. Following World War I the inflation rate in Germany hit 344% per month!

Which brings us to the current Democrat party presidential primary. The current gaggle of candidates seems to be in a race to see how much “free” stuff they can offer to the electorate (pretty much legal bribery, in my opinion). The list includes “Medicare for All”, including illegal aliens; eliminating private health insurance; open borders; “free” college; writing off current student loan debts; “guaranteed monthly income” of $500 – $1000 per month depending on the candidate; “free” universal daycare and pre-K, the “Green New Deal”; and a plethora of smaller programs too numerous to get into.

How do they propose to pay for this largesse? It pretty much boils down to “tax the rich”. Sadly for them, the reality is that even a complete confiscation of everything “the rich” own won’t come close to paying for this cornucopia of “free” goodies. Their only alternative will be turning on the printing presses, and cranking out more and more of those ten dollar bills.

Ultimately, you’ll need a barrel full of ten dollar bills just to buy a gallon of milk… IF there’s even any milk on the shelves.

If they win we’ll get to find out personally what it’s like to live in Venezuela. Is that what you want?

 

©Brian Baker 2019

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

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The Latest Crisis du Jour

 

Another Wednesday, another Horton bleat.

His June 27 entry, “Kids in Cages: Is That the American Way?”, finds him in full-bloomed sob mode.*

“Kids in cages in faraway places, with no soap or blankets and barely room to move. Locked inside fences, in tents, warehouses, for-profit human exploitation machines… The Trump presidential response is to make conditions on our side the wrong side for them to come to. Make it so bad, so miserable, so debilitating, so terrifying as kids are ripped from parents – that they’ll stop coming.”

Lions and tigers and bears, oh, my…

This is apparently the latest trope from the Dem/socialists. They’ve swerved from denying just a couple of months ago that there was any “emergency” at all at the border – countering Trump’s position in pushing for money for border security – to wailing about a looming disaster, especially regarding the kids of border jumpers. Talk about situational ethics! I guess whatever’s expedient at any given moment will be pushed as the crisis du jour.

The hysteria also serves a practical purpose: obfuscate and misdirect the discussion from factual and legal elements that don’t serve the leftists’ message, and attempt to drape it with humanitarian concerns that have broad appeal to the innate generosity of the American people.

Not only is it cynical beyond belief, but it uses those unfortunate people as mere pawns to advance an unpopular political agenda: open borders.

Here are some realities to consider. Who’s actually responsible for those kids being in a facility in the first place? Did Trump and his minions kidnap them and drag them over the border to lock them up? Or were they brought here by their parents, who were trying to enter the country illegally?

Once here, this country really has no responsibility to provide them any care at all. We could have simply dumped them back over on the other side of the border – which would have been the truly cruel and inhumane thing to do – but we didn’t. Instead, we’re making every effort to provide for them as best we can, given the realities and limitations of the resources available.

Why are those resources so strained in the first place? Because the Dem/socialists, as usual, have for a very long time refused to cooperate – by approving funding, among other things – in addressing the core of the problem: border security. If our border was secure we’d have a lot fewer people coming across, and thus a lot fewer detainees. Further, as it became known that we were serious about enforcing that border, much of the magnetism that draws people to try to jump it would be eliminated.

But then, where would all those future Dem/socialist voters come from?

And that, my friends, is what this entire discussion is really all about. The left, as represented in this case by Horton, will do or say anything to allow hordes of illegal aliens to flow unfettered into this country to disappear into that “underground” they’re constantly moaning about, so they can later benefit from the next round of amnesty – under whatever name at the time, DREAMERS, DACA, whatever – and become “legalized”, and ultimately a voting bloc.

Don’t let yourselves be fooled.

 

©Brian Baker 2019

* https://signalscv.com/2019/06/gary-horton-kids-in-cages-is-that-the-american-way/

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signalhttps://signalscv.com/2019/07/brian-baker-dont-be-fooled-by-border-rhetoric/ )

 

 

A Lynching in the Senate

“Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime” –

Lavrenti Behria, head of Stalin’s secret police.

 

There’s a reason why legal proceedings, both civil and criminal (with a very few exceptions such as for murder), are subject to statutes of limitations, meaning that such court proceedings must be initiated within a prescribed and limited time frame.

The reason is because as time passes, evidence disappears or is no longer attainable; people’s memories of events fade and become unreliable; witnesses move away, becoming impossible to find, or they simply die off.

Further, in our legal system the burden of proving the offense, criminal or civil, lies with the accuser—the prosecutor or plaintiff. The defendant doesn’t have to prove his innocence; he enjoys a presumption of legal innocence that must be overcome.

But we seem to have entered an era that proves why there’s an actual need for statutes of limitations. This is an era of hysterical accusation, as typified by the #MeToo movement, in which any allegation of impropriety at any time in a person’s past has the potential of destroying that person’s life without benefit of the protections of any legal proceeding at all. It’s mob-sanctioned character assassination and personal destruction.

This is reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials, in which completely fabricated and fantastical accusations by hysterical teenagers was enough to condemn women to death unless they could prove their innocence of the accusations, an impossibility. Basically, a lynch mob.

We saw something similar in the 1980s when a completely unfounded hysteria swept the nation about children in preschools being subjected to satanic rituals, including human sacrifices, all of which led to the infamous McMartin Pre-School trials, in which the defendants were ultimately exonerated and the nature of the hysteria finally understood.

The latest iteration of this phenomenon is Senator Dianne Feinstein’s incredibly cynical and despicable act of accusing Judge Brett Kavanaugh of committing the criminal act of sexual assault well over 30 years ago while he was in high school, an accusation she leveled during the last day of the committee hearings concerning his appointment as a Justice to the Supreme Court.

If she knew about this claim for months, as she’s said, why did she wait so long to bring it to light? If this is anything other than a Hail Mary attempt to derail the confirmation process, why didn’t she raise the matter much earlier, when it could have been addressed in an orderly fashion? Why, after examining the “evidence”, did the FBI decide not to pursue the matter?

Why did the alleged “victim” wait literally decades before telling anyone about this assault? Why didn’t she report it to the cops at the time, or at least her parents? She claims Kavanaugh was drunk. How do we know it wasn’t she who was actually drunk, this whole thing being just a figment of her fevered imagination?

Both Kavanagh and his friend – who would be an “accomplice” to this “crime” – have stated that the incident never happened. Why shouldn’t we believe them? How does Kavanaugh prove something didn’t happen over 30 years ago? Why should he have to, since that flies against all the foundational precepts of our justice system? Scores of his high school contemporaries have stated that they don’t believe the accusation, and that it doesn’t conform with his personality. Why should anyone believe the sole accusing “victim” over all the others who have made statements about the matter?

As I said, this is why we have statutes of limitations; so we don’t have a “show me the man and I’ll show you the crime” society.

Think about it. How would you like to wake up one morning and find out that some kid you went to high school with three decades ago has, out of the clear blue sky, falsely accused you of committing a major felony all those years ago? And that to top it off they were making the accusation to local reporters, maybe right here in The Signal for example, so that all your friends and neighbors, relatives and business associates, would have that accusation staring them in the face over their morning coffee.

Well, that’s exactly what happened to Brett Kavanaugh thanks to the shameless manipulations of Feinstein.

This is the closing run of the Dem/socialist clown car that they’ve driven through this whole confirmation process. I thought Kamala Harris and Cory “Spartacus” Booker were absurd, but Feinstein’s managed to take the cake with this.

Remember this when it comes time to vote on November 6th.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2018

 

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

 

Deplorables: Making America Great Again

Back when Ronald Reagan was President the mainstream press hated him as much as they hate Trump now, and there was a joke that made the rounds that I think is just as applicable today. It goes like this:

If there had been a press corps a couple of thousand years ago like the one we have today, and they covered Jesus like they cover Reagan, the day after He walked on water the headline would have been: “JESUS CAN’T SWIM!!!”

To quote Yogi Berra, it’s déjà vu all over again. In fact, in the age of Trump, I think an updated version of that punch line would read: “JESUS IS AN ANTI-SWIMMER NAZI!!!”

The volume of the hysterical outrage from Dem/socialists and Never-Trumpers is a wonder to behold. Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) is in full and marvelous bloom. The added irony is that as their outrage level gets cranked ever higher, Trump’s popularity simply seems to increase in direct response. It looks like we Deplorables just aren’t buying the snake oil. In fact, as of July 26 the Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll had Trump’s approval rate at 46%, which is higher than Saint Obama’s numbers at the same point in his presidency.

Now, I have to admit that I had very grave doubts about Trump during the 2016 election cycle. If you’re interested you can go into the Signal archives, or my old blog entries, and read my columns from that time. I was a hardcore Ted Cruz guy. But as Election Day in November came rolling near, and it became clear the choice was a binary one between Trump and Hillary “Whiny” Clinton, I reluctantly threw my support to Trump, since I viewed Whiny as a disaster-in-waiting for the country.

Much to my delight, Trump’s turned out to govern as the single most conservative President since Reagan. Who’da thunk it?

I know, I know… I’m just a Deplorable who “cling(s) to guns or religion” per Saint Barrack; a racist, xenophobic, homophobic, gun-loving, small-government, nativist, greedy, ignorant Nazi. Bummer.

The problem for the TDS crowd is that we Deplorables just don’t care about the things that whip them into such a lather. Did Trump have girlfriends back in the day? Who cares? The guy was a rich guy in show biz. Didn’t they all? I voted for a guy to be President, not saint.

“But, but… Mueller!…” Yeah, what about Mueller? A year and a half of wasted time and taxpayer dollars on an “investigation” that’s wandered very far afield of what it was supposedly investigating; that’s lost any semblance of objectivity (Strzok, Page, McCabe); and has only managed to indict a bunch of Russian internet trolls located halfway around the globe. How utterly underwhelming.

“Treason!” That’s the latest meme from the loony left. They don’t like how he’s carrying out foreign policy, so now they’re accusing him of “treason”. Seriously! Check out the Boston Globe, Chicago Trib, Baltimore Sun, Congressman Ted Lieu, Anderson Cooper on CNN, among many others. Talk about unhinged. This is exactly why normal people can’t take TDSers seriously.

One of the most ironic “treason” accusations came from former CIA Director John Brennan. The irony stems from the fact that in 1976 Brennan voted for Gus Hall for President. Hall was the nominee of the US Communist Party. How this guy ever got a security clearance is beyond me. When I was in Army Intelligence that would have been an immediate disqualifier. Instead, he rose to become CIA Director.

Between that and the Mueller “investigation”, not to mention James Comey’s outright malfeasance with the investigation into Whiny’s home brew email rig, there’s certainly credence to Trump’s complaints about the operations and objectivity of the intelligence apparatus, at least to my mind. The Intel community sure has changed since I was a member.

Trump has a summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un? “Terrible” per the TDSers, though Saint Barrack bowing and scraping to every tin pot dictator in sight was a great thing. Trump gets Kim to make concessions? “Meaningless”. What did they expect? That Kim would ask to be annexed as a state?

Trump pressures other NATO members to start hauling their own weight? “Outrageous”, per the TDSers. But guess what? That sounds like a GREAT idea to us Deplorables!

Meanwhile, the economy’s cooking, people are taking home more money, they’re paying less in federal taxes, there are more jobs than applicants, unemployment’s at record lows, the stock market’s at record highs, we’ve pulled out of the Paris Accords “climate change” scam, we’ve had a great new Supreme Court Justice seated in Neil Gorsuch with another terrific nominee in Brett Kavanaugh awaiting confirmation, and we’re really on our way to “Making America Great Again”.

It’s time for the TDSers to grow up and put their big boy pants on. The election’s over. Whiny lost and is never going to be President (thank God). Trump’s not going to be impeached and removed from office.

That’s just the way it is.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2018

(Also published today in The Signal)

The Asylum Scam

I often find columns by our resident leftists to be entertaining, and even amusing, and Anthony Breznican’s “Debunking Baker’s Latest Column” on 10 July (Link) was no exception.

He starts out with the SOP leftist bleat about being victimized: “(Baker) also decided to make a series of personal attacks against me, but I’ll ignore those insults and distortions. They are beneath our community newspaper.”

What was that “insult”? I said he lied to his kids. But what does he call the things I wrote that he’s “debunking”? “Baker Lie”, in boldface type and all. I guess it’s not “beneath our community newspaper” if he’s doing it. Hypocrisy, anyone?

I’ve been debating leftists for literally decades, and I’m still amazed at their lack of self-awareness.

I think his first “debunking” is instructive of the quality of his material:

BAKER LIE: ‘… they wouldn’t have been separated from their kids, which is exactly the same thing that happens to ANY lawbreaker who’s arrested for any crime.’

“THE TRUTH: Crossing the border is a misdemeanor, seldom prosecuted in cases of asylum seekers. USA Today reports it usually comes with a fine of $10. This is like someone ringing your doorbell to ask for help after a car accident — and you calling the police to have them arrested for trespassing. American law has never mandated seizing the children of people charged with misdemeanors. Ask anyone who has been caught driving without a license, or shoplifting, or engaging in disorderly conduct. In America, the punishment fits the crime, and caging young children over a misdemeanor is cruel and unusual.”

Now, while the majority of what he wrote is actually true, it doesn’t directly respond to, or in any way negate, what I specifically wrote. In fact, it’s pretty much irrelevant. There are a whole lot of misdemeanors for which people are jailed. The definition of a “misdemeanor” is that it is a crime for which the maximum sentence is one year or less in jail. And just as I wrote, if someone is sent to jail – for whatever length of time – their kids don’t accompany them. What Breznican is doing here is indulging in the timeworn leftist tactic of misdirection and obfuscation. That’s pretty much his go-to SOP.

Further, those kids weren’t “caged”. They were placed in facilities which are more accurately likened to daycare facilities. But then, there’s no emotional drama in that, is there?

A bit later he writes:

BAKER LIE: He writes about the Obama administration’s policy of processing the claims of asylum seekers and then releasing them on bond with a court date. In court, their request for asylum will either be accepted or denied. ‘Those illegal aliens for the most part never showed up in court for their hearings,’ he writes.”

But that’s not what I wrote. I didn’t restrict my statement to “asylum seekers”. Yet another attempted bait-and-switch.

Which brings me to what I believe is the underlying, and far more important, reality of this issue. This was clearly illustrated by the now-infamous cover photo of the July 2 edition of Time magazine. That cover juxtaposed a picture of a crying little girl looking up at a seemingly indifferent Trump, symbolizing his – and I assume others’ who aren’t part of the illegal alien lobby – lack of empathy for those seeking “asylum” at our southern border.

But even before publication it became known that the kid’s mother wasn’t actually a legitimate “asylum” seeker, and had in fact taken the kid to be used as the “beard” for the mother’s request for asylum, which itself was phony. It turns out that Mom had taken the little girl without Dad’s knowledge (Link), and that she was never, in fact, separated from her daughter at all.

Yet even though they knew that their cover illustration was a lie, Time decided to go ahead with it anyway. False and misleading or not, it made a political point for them that they wanted to have made. So much for integrity from the left, at least on this issue (and almost any other, in my experience).

Ask yourself this question: if someone from Central America truly wants legitimate asylum, why would they go all the way to the US border when they have to pass through Mexico to get there, a country with very accommodating laws on asylum and immigration? (Mexican asylum) Why wouldn’t they just stay in Mexico?

The reality is that our border has been under invasion for decades, and I think that in many, if not most, cases this “asylum” claim is just a scam. People in Central America can read the news and access the internet just as easily as you and I can. There are hordes of lawyers who specialize in the subject, not to mention those, such as the coyotes, who profit from motivating people to make the trek.

Those people know that if they can pluck the heartstrings of America and get us weeping about little kids there’s one heckuva chance that once they show up at the border and wrap themselves in the mantle of asylum with a couple of cute kids in tow, they’ll wind up getting to stay.

Could this be why there’s been a 1700+ percent (!) increase in asylum claims at our southern border in the last ten years? (Percentage increase) I think we’re being gamed.

What do you think?

 

©Brian Baker 2018

 

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

A Leftist Lies. Shocking, I’m Sure

 

On 20 June The Signal published a column by Anthony Breznican, entitled “Family separation is cruel — but familiar”, which I found to be very interesting and informative.

For those who don’t know who he is, Breznican is a local hard-left activist, and I think his column offered a telling insight into that mentality.

He starts out by telling a story about a conversation he had with his two little kids, aged 9 and 5, while on the way with them to a demonstration in downtown LA about the separation of kids from illegal alien border jumpers. Per Breznican, as he tells it: “I said these are people following the rules. They are asking for help, not sneaking in.”

He goes on to say: “Rather than keeping the families together while we figure out their situation, like we used to, we are separating the children from the parents, and putting them in detention camps.”

And of course, from there he goes on to rant against Trump and Steve Knight, our local congressman who’s running for re-election.

Several things jumped out at me. The first was about the parental wisdom of taking such little kids, especially a 5-year-old, to a political demonstration. I’m a parent and grandparent, and wouldn’t have dreamed of doing such a thing, even though I’m also very politically active. I think it’s a really, really bad idea, regardless of one’s political affiliation.

But more importantly, and illustrative of the mindset of the hard left, is the disconnect from actual facts that we see in the things he told his kids.

Exactly what “rules” have the border jumpers been “following”? In what alternate universe are they “not sneaking in”? They certainly haven’t gone through any legal process to arrive here on our border. If they had, they wouldn’t have been detained in the first place, would they? And they wouldn’t have been separated from their kids… which is exactly the same thing that happens to ANY lawbreaker who’s arrested for any crime, as I wrote in my last column.

Further, this separation policy isn’t anything new at all. The policy was set in place as a result of a consent decree signed in 1997, while Clinton was President, to satisfy the judgment in a law suit filed in federal court, and these separations have been going on since then, under Clinton, Bush, and Obama. So, sorry Breznican, but “we used to” separate families for quite a while, in fact.

There have been periods when the percentage of those caught jumping the border and detained was lower, such as under the “catch and release” doctrine, particularly under Obama, and look at how well that worked. Pretty much not at all, because once released, those illegal aliens for the most part never showed up in court for their hearings, disappearing into the vast sea of the illegal alien underground. It was basically a de facto open border policy, which is exactly what the left really wants, of course.

To summarize, and put it plainly, in order to indoctrinate his young kids into his ideology, Breznican has flat-out lied to them. That’s what I found so illuminating about his column.

Now, it doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, since the American left uses flagrant lies to advance their agenda as a matter of course. That’s just SOP. But it was certainly fun to see it so blatantly illustrated in that column.

Well, I guess Trump’s stolen the left’s thunder now, having changed the policy under executive order so as to not separate kids from their parents. So, instead of being transferred to some form of foster care suitable for young kids, I guess they’ll be accompanying their illegal alien parents to detention.

How ironic. Breznican should be careful what he wishes for. But I have faith in him. I’m confident that with a little… manipulation… of the truth he and his cohort of fellow American socialists will still find some way to carry on with their smear campaign against Trump and, by extension, Knight.

It’s what they do.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2018

 

(Also published today in The Signal)

 

Who’s Responsible for Lawbreakers’ Kids?

 

The latest outrage du jour from the left is the separation of the children of illegal aliens from their parents if those adults are put into detention after being caught sneaking across the border.

Is it sad? Of course it is. No one likes the idea of kids being separated from their parents. But who’s actually responsible for it occurring?

When parents are arrested for other crimes – let’s say embezzlement, for the sake of discussion – what happens to their kids when the parents are locked up? Are the kids sent to jail, too, so that they’re not “taken away” from their parents? Of course not. The idea’s frankly absurd.

Those kids are placed in some form of foster care pending the outcome of the legal proceedings, and any incarceration that might follow. That’s exactly what takes place with the kids of these illegal aliens: the kids are placed in the care of agencies whose function is to take care of them.

This policy and practice isn’t “Trump’s fault”, though the left and the Never Trumpers seem to relish trying to make that argument. It’s the law, plain and simple, and it’s also good practice as far as the welfare of the kids goes, considering the circumstances.

Just like the hypothetical embezzlers I mentioned above, the illegal alien parents made the decision to break the law and cross the border illegally. That’s indisputable. Therefore, if anyone’s at fault for their kids being taken away and put into foster or institutional care, it’s the parents themselves.

What are the alternatives being proposed by those who oppose this practice? As far as I can tell, the silence is pretty deafening, other than some vague idea that Trump must “do something” to change this practice. But do what?

The law requires this practice. So is Trump supposed to ignore the law? We all know that Obama did that all the time, legislating by fiat with his “pen and a phone”, but that certainly doesn’t make it proper or legal. Trump isn’t Obama (thank God).

Is this yet another emotional hook the illegal alien lobby can hang their open borders agenda on? You bet it is. The American left and the cheap labor advocates, along with the Never Trumpers, are tugging the heartstrings of the country, hoping to advance their cause.

The net effect would be to once again turn illegal aliens into even more of a special class that’s immune to the regular order of law, granting them more special privileges that don’t apply to American citizens, such as our embezzlers. Let’s be honest here. The real, though unstated, goal of all this noise is to stop the practice altogether of detaining border jumpers.

Well, then, maybe we should just stop incarcerating all lawbreakers who have kids. Why not? If that separation is unbearably cruel for the kids of illegal aliens, is it any less cruel for the kids of other lawbreakers?

If people want this practice to end, the proper way to do that is to enact some legislation to that effect. Unless and until that happens, current law defines the practice.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2018

(Also published today in  The Signal)

 

The “Courage” of the Mob

On October 30th, shortly after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, I published a column — which was also published in my local newspaper, The Signal — under the title “Casting couch probably has not seen its last days”. As the title implies, I believe that once the dust settles things in Hollywood – and elsewhere – will return to pretty much the pre-Weinstein status quo.

In the meantime, though, we’re being treated to a hair-on-fire spectacle of absurd proportions, a lynch mob straight out of a 1950s “B” Western two-reeler. To paraphrase a line from the Bogart classic Treasure of the Sierra Madre, “Evidence? We don’ need no steenkin’ evidence!”

Every pat on the knee, persistent flirt, failed seduction attempt, inappropriate joke, unthinking comment, or unwanted compliment has been elevated from the level of innocent interaction or boorish behavior to the equivalent of the rape of the Vestal Virgins.

The biggest problem with all this hyperventilation is that it ends up trivializing and camouflaging the real offenders, those such as Weinsten. To paraphrase another saying, this time from the realm of civil rights, “when everything is rape, nothing is rape”.

At the Golden Globe Awards ceremony female attendees demonstrated their “courage” by vowing to wear black. I hate to be the one to break it to such vacuous luminaries, but real “courage” is putting on a camo-pattern uniform and fighting ISIS in the Middle East, not donning a black gown by Givenchy with plunging neckline and side slits from floor to derriere.

The hypocrisy on display at the Golden Globes was also breathtaking in its depth. Apparently, before Oprah Winfrey and Meryl Streep became such figures of “courage”, and spokeswomen for “oppressed” victims, they were pretty much besties with Harvey Weinstein, if we can believe pictures of them with him before his precipitous downfall. And since his “proclivities” were such an open secret in Hollywood, it’s hard to believe they didn’t know anything about his perversions before they became splashed all over the pages in the media.

The other major problem with the current hysteria is that we’ve entered a “no proof required” zone. All it takes is an unsubstantiated accusation – sometimes even made anonymously – for the outrage machine to gin up to destroy some guy’s life.

Every accuser is given the presumption of driven-snow purity and victimhood, and every one of the accused is given the presumption of villainy and guilt. There’s no effort made to consider facts or circumstances in play at the time of the alleged offense. No thought as to whether or not the “victim” was, at the time, a willing participant. Whether or not the accusation is actually an expression of “buyer’s remorse” in regretting an action that they may even have encouraged at the time. No recognition of the reality that sexual mores have changed over the last couple of decades, and that behavior that’s now considered out of bounds was perfectly routine and acceptable just a short while ago. No acceptable possibility that truly innocent words or actions were completely misconstrued by the accuser.

In other words, it’s a witch hunt.

Am I saying that there’s no fire causing all this smoke? Of course not. Weinstein alone is the only example one needs to recognize there’s a real problem, and the evidence against him is incontrovertible and overwhelming. But in no way does that justify the irrational furor we’re seeing today.

We’ve been down this road before. In 1921 Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, one of the top film stars of the Silent Era, was accused of raping Virginia Rappe, who had died after falling ill at a small party being held in Arbuckle’s hotel suite in San Francisco.

Because of the stature of Arbuckle’s celebrity and the salacious nature of the accusations – that he’d raped her with a foreign object – the event became a national scandal of epic proportions, fueled by the yellow journalism of the Hearst newspaper empire.

The San Francisco District Attorney filed criminal charges and took Arbuckle to trial… three times. The first two trials ended in hung juries, in both cases 10 – 2 in favor of acquittal. The third trial concluded with the jury not only unanimously finding Arbuckle “not guilty” after a mere six minutes, but they spent about five of those minutes composing a formal letter to Arbuckle apologizing to him for having been put through the ordeal.

But the damage had been done. The completely spurious allegations had ruined his life, and his career never really recovered. In spite of his actual innocence and acquittal at trial, the scandal alone was enough to make him essentially unemployable in Hollywood from that point forward.

Arbuckle’s ordeal should serve as a cautionary tale for everyone. There’s no “courage” necessary to be a member of a lynch mob.

 

©Brian Baker 2018

 

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal )

 

How Did We Get Here?

I found Maria Gutzeit’s 28 November column “Watching the world burn” (link) to be very interesting and well-written. But I think her wish for a society free of partisan politics, though admirable and well-meant, is at its heart naïve and unrealistic.

The problem, I believe, is that we’re currently engaged in a cultural civil war in this country that’s every bit as profound and fundamental as the one that took place in the 1860s, though so far pretty bloodless. Thank God for that, at least.

Historically, political rancor, and even violence, is nothing new in this country. Elected representatives were known to whack one another on the head with their canes right on the floors of Congress; Burr killed Hamilton in a duel over politics; and, of course, there was the afore-mentioned Civil War itself.

World War II was the event that created a rare period of national unity which lasted well into the post-war era of the ‘50s and early ‘60s, when the world was rebuilding from that war’s destruction. That was the “Leave It To Beaver” era for which so many wax nostalgic, or mock mercilessly, depending on their political inclinations.

That era came to an abrupt and dramatic end with the riots at the 1968 Democrat Party convention in Chicago, which underscored the rise of the counter-culture that rejected the ethos of the later-named “Greatest Generation” – their parents’ generation – in favor of a radicalized vision of what American culture should be.

That counter-culture, firmly rooted in the ideology of collectivist socialism, ironically found its home in the very Democrat party it had so violently rioted against, and in the subsequent almost half-century rose to positions of prominence and power within that party. As a result of their de facto takeover of that party they’ve managed to radically alter its underlying principles to the point that they now reflect much of the agenda of those original radicals who rioted in Chicago.

We see much of its strategy deriving directly from Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”, a primer for the counter-culture of the ‘60s and ‘70s, which is essentially a blueprint for political disruption and manipulation. This is evidenced by class warfare pitting the “haves” against the “have-nots”, and the demonization of the “one-percenters”, as well as the creation, proliferation, and perpetuation of “victim” groups, which then go on to even compete against each other for prioritization, leading to further fragmentation and balkanization of the society and culture.

In such a noxious and confrontational political climate, our national motto, “E Pluribus Unum” – meaning “out of many, one”, a message of unity – has been effectively reversed for all intents and purposes into its mirror-opposite, “out of one, many”.

In her column, Maria writes: “The win will come when we all sit down and acknowledge common goals and work on that without uttering the words ‘democrats’, ‘republicans’ or ‘politics’… Imagine if we focused on electing people to improve and implement good policy, rather than ‘win’ for ‘our side’.”

While I think that’s a very nice thought, I also think it’s about as realistic as a kid’s Christmas wish list as he tells it while sitting on Santa’s lap at the mall. The reality is that “politics” is how we determine public policy in this country, and there’s at least one very sizeable portion of the body politic that seems determined to completely redefine the social and cultural fabric of our society. To destroy it in order to replace it with a system that is completely alien to traditional American ideals and constitutional principles.

In consequence, we see the politicization of almost everything, even sports, which used to be one of the few remaining bastions of political neutrality. Instead, we see the NFL immersed in their “taking a knee” controversy. We see popular media – TV, movies, and even books – showcasing political correctness at the expense of entertainment value. Higher education has become, at many universities, a venue of indoctrination rather than enlightenment.

In this adversarial climate, I believe the wish for reconciliation and cooperation, though well meant, has very little chance of being realized.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2017

(Also published today in The Signal)

Liberty Is Under Fire

 

Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and

murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that didn’t

commit suicide – John Adams, 1814

 

Anthony Breznican’s column “Hart’s Messina wrong man for leadership role” in the Weekender edition of The Signal (Link) published September 23rd was a reminder to me of how dangerous leftism is to the liberties we take for granted in this country.

Breznican’s focus is on Hart school board member Joe Messina, and views Messina has expressed in social media (apparently Facebook) and a self-published book, both of which Breznican claims are “disturbing acts”. Breznican complains that in spite of those stated views “the district has taken no action to censure or demand even an apology from him about his inflammatory remarks.”

Nor should they. This may come as a surprise to Breznican, but what a citizen says or does on his own time, as long as it’s legal, can’t be sanctioned by any governmental agency. It’s called the First Amendment. It’s not subject to the district’s approval or disapproval.

From what little I know of him I happen to agree that at least some of what Messina says makes no sense, but if that were some kind of threshold, I can’t think of anybody in the Dem/socialist party who would be qualified to hold public office.

If that board tries to do anything, that’s the action of a government body reacting to, and taking action against, a person for exercising their right to express an opinion, which is EXACTLY what the First Amendment prohibits.

Breznican goes on: “”That’s what Joe Messina has done. He is harming the students and the district with these fabrications.”

Well, that’s Breznican’s opinion, and it’s only an opinion. Clearly, a lot of people don’t agree with him, or Messina wouldn’t have been able to get elected. And at the next election, if other people share Breznican’s opinion, Messina won’t be re-elected. Right?

I think that Bernie Sanders is a Trotskyite communist, and his ideas and policies are insane, but that doesn’t mean I think he should be silenced, or booted from the Senate. He was duly and properly elected to the Senate by his constituents, as crazy as that seems, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it.

I think every Dem/socialist in Sacramento, along with about two-thirds of the GOPers, are nuts. But that doesn’t bar them from office, or justify any form of governmental sanction.

That pesky First Amendment again.

Which brings us back to that threat to our liberties that I mentioned at the beginning of this column. Conservatives believe that the liberties guaranteed to us by the Constitution and Bill of Rights mean exactly what they say. I may not agree with you but I won’t try to silence you. Or, as attributed to Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

But the Left… Ah, the Left. If they don’t like what you say, they’ll try to destroy your life, demonize you, silence you, shun you, exile you from the public square, get you fired from your job, and outlaw what you can say.

If that’s not a threat to liberty, I don’t know what is.

 

©Brian Baker 2017

 

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal )