2017-02-16

Urban Visitor Attends LVF Rally in John Day, Oregon

Free Range Report:

LaVoy’s memorial on January 28 was given the title, “The Meeting that Never Happened” because the gathering would fulfill the aims of those who traveled with LaVoy Finicum on January 26, 2016, to meet with local folks, and talk about the constitutional rights to life, liberty and property which he came to Oregon to defend. The Meeting that Never Happened was attended by around 500 people, many from other states, who wanted to tell the story that LaVoy Finicum simply wanted to share when he was gunned down; the story of a rancher who loved his God, his family, his country, and his freedom, more than life itself. ...

Following are the reflections of Macon Richardson, a 41 year-old technology professional from Bellingham, Washington, which is located about 9 hours north of John Day, Oregon.

FRR: Please share your impressions of eastern Oregon. How is it different than Bellingham?

Driving south to John Day from Bellingham, I thought to myself just how far away from the urban setting eastern Oregon is. Not just far in the sense of distance but far in the sense that people out here live a different life than most people in America. Out here folks care about each other, they know each other. They look out for each other. They have to, if they don’t look out for each other, who will? Without all of the comforts of large emergency service infrastructure and a grocery store on every corner the people of eastern Oregon have to be there for each other.

FRR: Being unfamiliar with the people out here, what did you expect after hearing media accounts of the Oregon Standoff? Did anything surprise you about your interactions with them?

A day in eastern Oregon made it clear to me that these folks are good, hardworking, caring Americans. I don’t understand why have some of them been deemed terrorists by the media. Why did a small group of ranchers decide to form a protest in such a remote part of Oregon? Why not protest in a big city like normal protesters? Why didn’t they burn things and assault people like the “normal” protesters that we’ve seen throughout America? I wanted to take a good look at it first-hand. There has to be more to the story than it just being some fringe group taking over a federal building with guns, as CNN reported.

FRR: What did you know about the background of the story, and the motives of the Oregon Standoff protesters before tonight?

I knew a little. The Harney basin has been a real hotbed of land deputes and outright destruction of natural resources for decades. By reading the news about the protest in Oregon last year you may think that all of this wrong-doing must be caused by the people who live there. But I learned that all of these transgressions and aggressions have been perpetrated by our own Federal Government. ...

Read the rest at the link.

Beyond the Hipster Ghetto

I like Portland, and I mix well with the hipsters here, culturally speaking. We can talk about books, art, music, exotic food, whatever, and it's all good. The minute we get into politics, though, everything changes. It's always the "elephant in the room" - so to speak - and there is just no getting away from the fact that I simply don't see the world the same way they do. This is what I mean when I affectionately refer to Portland as "the hipster ghetto". It's a densely populated place with a certain culture, a very rich culture to be sure, but it is a walled garden. There's this whole world of social norms, social signals, social codes, that you have to navigate. And politics is very much a part of that world. Deviate from the codes at your own peril.

Go outside of that walled garden, though, and the picture changes rapidly. A hundred miles to the east, across the Cascades, lies another Oregon entirely. It's a land of ranchers and Tea Partiers and Three Percenters; travel east from Bend and you're in John Day, the site of a recent memorial rally for LaVoy Finicum where they held a teach-in on why ordinary Americans should care about LaVoy. And to the north, across the Columbia River, you're in Vancouver, Washington, a town I've so far only briefly visited but which seems more moderate and down-to-earth than my beloved Portlandia.

In the coming year, I'm looking forward to exploring the West (which lies east of the West Coast) and in particular that other Oregon.

2017-02-14

Downs No Barrier for Designer Isabella Springmühl

"These protestors have convinced themselves that they are 'anti-fascists'."

Out Like Flynn

You don't have to be an admirer of Michael Flynn, or even of his (now former) boss, to have concerns about the way he was forced out of his role as national security advisor.

Here's Eli Lake at Bloomberg:
Normally intercepts of U.S. officials and citizens are some of the most tightly held government secrets. This is for good reason. Selectively disclosing details of private conversations monitored by the FBI or NSA gives the permanent state the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity. This is what police states do.

In the past it was considered scandalous for senior U.S. officials to even request the identities of U.S. officials incidentally monitored by the government (normally they are redacted from intelligence reports). John Bolton's nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was derailed in 2006 after the NSA confirmed he had made 10 such requests when he was Undersecretary of State for Arms Control in George W. Bush's first term. The fact that the intercepts of Flynn's conversations with Kislyak appear to have been widely distributed inside the government is a red flag. ...
And Damon Linker at The Week:
The whole episode is evidence of the precipitous and ongoing collapse of America's democratic institutions — not a sign of their resiliency. Flynn's ouster was a soft coup (or political assassination) engineered by anonymous intelligence community bureaucrats. The results might be salutary, but this isn't the way a liberal democracy is supposed to function.
Unelected intelligence analysts work for the president, not the other way around. Far too many Trump critics appear not to care that these intelligence agents leaked highly sensitive information to the press — mostly because Trump critics are pleased with the result. "Finally," they say, "someone took a stand to expose collusion between the Russians and a senior aide to the president!" It is indeed important that someone took such a stand. But it matters greatly who that someone is and how they take their stand. Members of the unelected, unaccountable intelligence community are not the right someone, especially when they target a senior aide to the president by leaking anonymously to newspapers the content of classified phone intercepts, where the unverified, unsubstantiated information can inflict politically fatal damage almost instantaneously.
... Those cheering the deep state torpedoing of Flynn are saying, in effect, that a police state is perfectly fine so long as it helps to bring down Trump. ...

 It's a little bit perplexing why the President sacrificed Flynn so readily.  Perhaps Flynn was only ever a sacrificial offering, meant to draw enemy fire.

Roses are red, violets are blue. You and me, we are gonna be yuge.

Israel / India Relations at 25 Years

Legal Insurrection:

This week, India and Israel celebrate 25 years of bilateral diplomatic ties. On January 29, 1992, foreign ministers from Israel and India signed an agreement establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Jerusalem in June or July to highlight the significance of this growing bilateral relationship, India’s envoy to Israel Ambassador Pavan Kapoor confirmed.

“The time is ripe for our two countries to explore the full potential of commonality and the complementary nature of our respective economies and work in tandem for the mutual benefit of our peoples,” Indian Embassy in Tel Aviv said in a statement marking this occasion. ...
 Read the rest at the link.  The relationship is bearing strategic fruit, for example the Israeli-made Heron XP drone that will help India keep an eye on Pakistan:

While the Israeli-made Heron 1 is already in service with the Indian armed forces, India is looking for a longer endurance drone. Enter Heron TP XP.

The XP variant of the drone will make its global debut at the upcoming Aero India at Yelahanka air base located outside Bengaluru. The MALE (medium-altitude long-endurance) drone can loiter over the designated target area for more than 30 hours at a stretch and can send back live images from a height of 45,000 feet. ...



2017-01-09

Artists and Moral Authority

The basic conceit - and I mean that in every sense of the word - is that artists and creative people have a heightened sensitivity to the nuances of human nature, and are privy to truths not immediately apparent to the rest of us. In their own minds, this gives them a great moral stature, by virtue of which they can make their pronouncements with solemn authority, unencumbered by facts or reasoning.

2017-01-08

Dear Hollywood Celebrities

"You exist for my entertainment. Some of you are great eye candy. Some of you can deliver a line with such conviction that you bring tears to my eyes. Some of you can scare the crap out of me. Others make me laugh. But you all have one thing in common, you only have a place in my world to entertain me. That’s it. You make your living pretending to be someone else. Playing dress up like a 6 year old. You live in a make believe world in front of a camera. And often when you are away from one too. Your entire existence depends on my patronage. I don’t really care where you stand on issues. Honestly, your stance matters far less to me than that of my neighbor. You see, you aren’t real. I turn off my TV or shut down my computer and you cease to exist in my world. Once I am done with you, I can put you back in your little box until I want you to entertain me again. I don’t care that you don't like Mr.Trump. But I bet you looked cute saying it. Get back into your bubble. I’ll let you know when I’m in the mood for something blue and shiny. And I'm also supposed to care that you will leave this great country if Trump becomes president? Ha. Please don't forget to close the door behind you. We'd like to reserve your seat for someone who loves this country and really wants to be here. Make me laugh, or cry. Scare me. But realize that the only words of yours that matter are scripted. In my world, you exist solely for my entertainment."

- anonymous, via Facebook

Donald Trump mocks ...

... everybody.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/09/14/did-trump-really-mock-reporters-disability-videos-could-back-him-up.html

http://www.newstandardpress.com/did-trump-mock-that-disability/

https://www.catholics4trump.com/the-true-story-donald-trump-did-not-mock-a-reporters-disability/

Same gestures, voice, and mannerisms. He's imitating the contortions of somebody trying to deny what they said in the past. Serge Kovaleski was one of numerous targets that Trump ridiculed in this manner, but the mainstream media would have you believe he was the only one. To this day, large numbers of Americans are convinced that Trump mocked a man's disability out of spite.

Religious / Secular Encounters in Israel

Rami Livni, Ha'Aretz:  Why Israelis abandoned secularism.
...  It’s secular Israelis who have changed.

What used to irritate, inflame and drive them to revolt two decades or even a decade ago, they now greet with a nonchalant shrug, forgivingly, all in the name of openness, tolerance and, of course, “Jewish identity.”

It is doubtful whether it is possible to fill a school with the number of secular parents who are disturbed by the fact that their children are delving deeply into topics like laying tefillin (phylacteries), kashrut laws and prayers in the context of “Jewish-Israeli culture.” Veteran religious functionaries at the Education Ministry must be rubbing their eyes in disbelief: How have we been able to achieve this blessed occasion when secular folk are retreating of their own free will – and even asking for more? ...

Peter Berkowitz, RealClear Politics:  Teaching Enlightenment liberalism to Israeli haredim.
... Having established that the responsible exercise of political judgment involves the blending of competing principles and that Israel is founded on the conviction that political freedom is an inseparable dimension of the Jewish state, we turned to our main topic. We explored the foundations of political freedom in John Locke’s “Second Treatise”; the constitutionalization of freedom in “The Federalist Papers”; the tensions that arise between democracy and freedom in Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America”; and liberty of thought and discussion in Mill’s “On Liberty.”

The students were particularly intrigued by the limits on the exercise of individual rights that Locke grounded in God’s sovereignty, the priority that the U.S. Constitution gives to the protection of religious freedom, and Tocqueville’s insistence that religion makes a surpassing contribution to political stability in America by remaining separate from politics.

Passions flared when we turned to Mill. Students readily appreciated the importance of a public sphere—newspapers, broadcast media, and parliament—in which the condition of their freedom of speech was the freedom of speech of all others. After all, the ultra-Orthodox too have interests to advance through the political process. At the same time, they immediately grasped the danger to their way of life posed by the vigorous promotion within the private sphere, embracing their families and communities, of Mill’s core conviction—indeed the conviction at the core of all moral and political education worthy of the name—that “he who know only his own side of the case knows little of that.” Exposing their sons and daughters to Mill’s case for the sovereign individual, they justly feared, might weaken their children’s attachment to the stringent ultra-Orthodox interpretation of God’s commandments. ...

What's interesting to me about Rami Livni's kaddish for Israeli secularism is that he sees secular culture, not merely in terms of freedom from religious compulsion, but as an explicitly anti-religious force.  Any gain by religion is a loss for secularism.  Livni's tug-of-war metaphor is telling:  for this writer, it is a zero-sum game.

Berkowitz, by contrast, believes that "both the ultra-Orthodox and broader Israeli society stand to profit from rapprochement."  While the motivations may be pragmatic (Israel's growing haredi, or ulta-orthodox, population will at some point need to come to terms with the rest of Israeli society), the philosophic premise of the Tikvah Fund lecture is that free inquiry can co-exist with religious faith.

Linkage