Skip to content

Author: Briggs

April 13, 2018 | 6 Comments

Another False Flag? — Guest Post by Ianto Watt

How do you go from saying ‘We’re going to leave Syria to the other guys’, to saying ‘We’re going to bomb your brains out’ in one short week? That’s the question Donald-watchers have to find the answer to. My answer is this: Donald seems to be cornered. He must think that by reacting forcefully to all the chemical weapons trash talk, he will gain favor, or at least some time. And with the invasion of his lawyer’s offices by the Federal Bureau of Intimidation, that time may be minimal.

I’d like to pose a few questions that may reflect on Donald’s ability to maneuver, or even to survive. First of all, have you noticed that the phrase ‘chemical weapons’ has replaced WMD’s in the lexicon of the War Parties (notice, that is plural)? Somehow, this is the new ultimate crime. Why? Because it kills innocent women and children, so the narrative goes. And bombs don’t? Bullets don’t? Artillery, anyone? And the stories, front page everywhere, in neo-con and neo-lib rags alike, are all accompanied by colour pictures showing adults carrying lifeless children from some ghastly scene, surrounded by weeping mothers. It’s enough to make you want to cry. And to cry out for vengeance. And Donald, evidently, must succumb to this emotion, or else.

Surely Vlad Putin is a clever guy. At the very least, a cold-blooded realist. And his puppet, Mr. Assad no less so. I find it very hard to swallow the idea put forth by so many voices that Vlad somehow cannot totally control Mr. Assad, and that’s why these chemo/gas attacks keep happening. And that Assad has drug Russia to the brink of confrontation with the West. Again. Wasn’t it just a year ago this same thing happened, and Donald threw dozens of cruise-missiles at Assad’s armed camp? And hasn’t this repeated use of chem-weapons resulted in further airstrikes over this past year? Isn’t that the backdrop of this whole scenario? This whole script is so Pavlovian that I want to retch. Ring the bell, watch the dog salivate. Repeat.

All of which leads me to question this whole thing. Let’s start with the weapon itself. I am amazed that Mr. Assad supposedly seems to think that he needs chemical weapons to kill people. After all, he seemed to be doing that quite well, for what, six years now, all with conventional munitions. Why the need to spin the tech dial and shift gears? Does gas kill better? No, I don’t think so. Does it target better? It didn’t during WWI, when the vagaries of the wind often turned the weapon on the aggressor himself. So, what’s the point of using this? Is it the terror it inspires? Now I think we’re getting somewhere. But I don’t think the terror quotient is part of Assad’s plans. I’m thinking of someone else. I think most of Assad’s enemies (and their women and children) realize that dead is dead, regardless of the method. Was the slaughter of Homs more humane just because it used conventional weapons? And what about starvation, another Assad favorite? If you knew that you and your family were going to die, would you rather see your children starve to death, over an agonizingly extended period of time, or would you prefer the quick action of the gas?

So that’s my basic question, why in the world would Assad (and by extension, Vlad) resort to the small-scale use of this un-predictable weapon? And don’t ask me to believe Vlad can’t control this guy. All he has to do is pull his troops out and Assad is toast. Actually, Vlad could target him and put in a replacement quite easily. So, no, I don’t believe there’s a hair-breadth of space between these two. They understand each other perfectly. Which is why Vlad is so willing to go to bat for Assad. The Syrian regime is on a very short chain. Yes, the dog is vicious, but his owner’s no fool. For those who have forgotten, chess is the game Russians love to play, and they play it very well. They think out the repercussions of every move. Cold-blooded men don’t make hot-blooded moves. That’s for the Americans, who never question the front-page portrayal of some heinous event. They scan the headlines, look at the colour pictures (red is so graphic, no?) and then they decide we have to do something. And do it now! Which is what Donald appears to be doing.

So then, assuming something other than the surface story is actually at work, I wonder if we aren’t being maneuvered into something. Something we won’t like. Something like a ‘missile-gap’ moment, perhaps? Something that turns ugly (like our missile-launching ship getting sunk) and becomes the cause for a new round of war? Or our whiz-bang weapons fizzle in the face of Russian air-defenses? Or our troops in Syria get crushed in retaliation if our missiles do get through? Do we really want to know how cold-blooded Vlad can be? Is that the real point? To see if he will back down? Maybe we should ask some of his former victims about this thought.

Here’s another puzzle to me. This supposed poisoning of the spy defector and his daughter in London a few weeks ago. I keep asking myself, how did the KGB botch this operation? A double botch. How did they both survive? And she just got released from the hospital. Hmmm. Somebody in Moscow must not have checked the expiration date on that batch of poison. Or else…or else we’re back to the chemical weapons meme. We’re back to shrinking in horror at the thought that some peaceful guy sitting in a park with his daughter could be attacked in such a barbaric manner. Barbaric. That’s the way chemical weapons are always portrayed. As if a bullet to the back of the head is any less brutal. And why dope her? How would that further any Russian goal, other than terror? And why, why, why, would Vlad and his men resort to such a thing when they know that it will excite the world to such a frenzy that the public seemingly will bear any cost in retaliation? What is the point here? Why would Vlad be so unbelievably stupid? There is no logic here. Only emotion. And that’s what the media sells. On behalf of their client. Who might that be? Cui bono?

So let’s be a little Machiavellian here and ask something. If indeed the Russians were behind all of this, in Syria over the last year and London this past month, what have they gained by all of this supposedly-smart terror-inducing chemical activity? Let me see. Wow. I can’t think of a single thing they’ve gained. Don’t tell me it makes Vlad look tough in the eyes of his fellow Russians (or their client states). Vlad has always looked tough to them, and his polls have always shown it. As if he needs polls anyway. He’s firmly in control in Russia, regardless of what anybody here or there thinks.

But I can see what they’ve lost. Add it up, worldwide condemnation, sanctions, loss of trade, a weakened stock market, a falling ruble, and now, a possible head-on military confrontation that could upset their grand strategy of the gradual enervation of the West. A strategy that has been working quite well for at least a decade. Why would Vlad (and his puppet) risk that? For what? To kill a few dozen women and children? To off an old turn-coat? And by the way, just exactly how do we know that this guy (and his daughter) were actually poisoned? Says who? Isn’t it amazing that within hours of this supposed event the government experts were able to identify the substance, and the only country that produced it? Even to the point of telling us exactly where in Russia it was produced? Yet these same intelligence geniuses weren’t able to detect the plot to poison this guy in time to prevent it. How can these guys be so smart and so dumb at the same time? Which of these attributes is false? And isn’t there another more accurate attribute missing? Something like ‘scheming’?

What does all of this Western chemo-hysteria produce in that part of the world that doesn’t believe the Western press? Someplace like China, perhaps? Do we see them denouncing Russia and Syria? Do we see them backing away from their economic, military and political ties to Vlad? No, quite the opposite. They are as close as Siamese twins. They’ve figured out how to play us, now that our Armed Forces can no longer fight two major wars simultaneously. Guess where our carrier groups are right now. Nowhere near Syria, in case you haven’t guessed. No, the Chinese are laughing at us, as we ‘pivot to Asia’, leaving the rest of the world to be played by Vlad. So now, we have China and her hand-puppet, Rocket Man, tying us down in the East, while Vlad and Syria and Iran have free rein in the West. All of which is why Donald mused about leaving Syria to ‘other people’.

Now let’s look at the Muslim world. You know, that third of the world that is so dedicated to human rights and peaceful co-existence. Those regimes of moral rectitude that would shrink in horror at the idea of barbaric behavior. Right? Regardless of any feigned outrage emanating from any of these nations, I can’t really believe there is any genuine reticence to do anything similar to what Assad is accused of. Especially in Turkey. We’ve been here before, remember? The first time I wrote for Professor Briggs, I questioned the validity of assuming that the press was right. Specifically, right about the supposed coup attempt against Erdogan back in 2016. I said it was a false flag operation designed to cement Erdogan in power. All of which has seemingly come to pass. But I also said later in that post that Erdogan was in the grip of a three-front war with Russia, and only one could emerge as the master of his own fate. So, let’s see how this has worked out.

In Turkey, our cheerful ally Recep Erdogan is firmly in power. But only internally. He’s in power because he’s so beloved by everyone, right? Sure. Never any violations of human rights in Turkey, eh? So, what do we see there, in the land of the second largest NATO military ally? How strong is Erdogan now against his traditional enemy, Russia? What has he done to stand up to Russia since he shot down that Sukhoi jet in late 2015? Is Erdogan denouncing Vlad for his presence in Syria? Or is he busy edging away from NATO, the US and Europe? Is Erdogan busy buying more arms from the West, or is he busy buying the latest Russian air-defense systems? He’s already said Turkey no longer needs EU membership. No, he’s busy signing new trade agreements agreements with his ‘enemies’ in Russia. And surely Erdogan understands the meaning of the A2/AD bubbles Vlad has already emplaced in Crimea and Syria?

Maybe now we’re getting a little closer to the real motivations of those truly responsible for this repeated use of banned weapons. Maybe the War Party is getting nervous over the thought that they may not be able to control things any longer in the middle east. Especially if Donald cedes the Syrian theatre to Russia and Iran. And by default, to Turkey. So then, what would Vlad be willing to do in order to get Turkey to finally withdraw from NATO, and thus reinstate the Montreux Convention that bans non-Black Sea states from sending warships through the Bosporus? Would Vlad be willing to sacrifice the Kurdish card in return? Hasn’t this move already happened? Aren’t the Turks stepping with impunity into Syrian territory to pound the Kurds, without a peep from Vlad? And without a word of opposition from Iran, the other patron of Assad. And the other enemy of the War Party. It looks to me like the Syrian question is being addressed without any input from the US, who by the way, backs the Kurds. As long as they are useful, that is. And this looming loss of Imperial influence seems to me to be the driving force in this forthcoming fight.

The bottom line for me in all of this manufactured hysteria is that Donald is being herded towards something he doesn’t really want. Confrontation with Russia. And because he has failed to vanquish his domestic foes, they are free to use his own governmental apparatus to force him to acquiesce to their globalist agenda. After all, if Donald was willing to cooperate with the globalists, all would be forgiven. Including his past offences against women. He could be Bill Jr., and they would laud him. He could even gas them. If only he would relent. Which he won’t. But he keeps giving his (and our) enemies new cudgels with which to beat him about the head. And now his foes have seized his own lawyer’s trove of data. And they have somehow inserted John Bolton, the premier neo-con Warhawk, into his inner circle. Surely the generals that serve Donald are cringing at the prospect of this coming confrontation that will lead to nothing that enhances true American security.

There’s only one nation that will benefit from all of this, and it isn’t us. Nor does Russia want this showdown. Syria wasn’t looking for this either, so why would it use those weapons? The Iranians don’t want a further deterioration of relations with the US. And Turkey can only lose, long-term, if this showdown leads to an outright win by either Russia or the US. Why? Because Erdogan’s relative freedom depends on there being someone who might restrain the Russians when they finally decide they can take Tsargrad and the Straits. Erdogan’s a kept woman now, but he’ll be looking for the battered women’s shelter if either of the US or Russia is gone. As much as he hates the thought (and he does), he needs the continued stand-off between the US and Russia. His only freedom lies in his ability to play one side off of the other. He needs to maintain the current balance of power.

Where then is the motivation for anyone to use these weapons that are being used to drive this frenzy towards war? Nobody I’ve mentioned, with the exception of the Warhawks, stands to gain an inch of anything. And the Warhawks don’t seem to realize they may lose a lot if their calculations are off by any significant amount. Yet they seem willing to risk it. To risk everything. But not just to bring down Donald (although that is certainly a large part of this). No, there is a long-term game here, and it is at risk. And these Warhawks evidently feel that they have to make their move now, or else they may lose it all.

This is a dangerous moment. There’s too many chips on the table now. Nobody can afford to lose here. Everyone keeps raising the ante. And no one is dropping out. I have to say, I don’t see anything good coming from all of this. This may be a hand that everyone loses. Everyone except the player I haven’t named.

April 12, 2018 | 10 Comments

Academics Busily Purging Its Enemies, Real & Imagined

This was written a while back, and part become an item in the Insanity & Doom update. I would have trashed it, except that since the events detailed below, Gilley gave some interviews on the matter and here. The pertinent part for us is that Gilley is being investigated by his university because—wait for it—some students complained. His crime? I’ll let you figure that out. It’s doubtful any student even read the paper. You wonder how many of them can even read.

It’s not only a good swathe of college students who are mollycoddled overly sensitive ears-in-fingers intolerant know-nothings who demand and erect barricades blocking them from facts and ideas that hurt their feelings. Many professors are the same way.

Take how professors reacted when Bruce Gilley wrote and published “The case for colonialism” in Third World Quarterly.

He dared to say that “Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found.” And he said, “The countries that embraced their colonial inheritance, by and large, did better than those that spurned it.”

Worst of all was this: “Anti-colonial ideology imposed grave harms on subject peoples and continues to thwart sustained development and a fruitful encounter with modernity in many places.”

His work was greeted with all the calm and courtesy of certain religious leaders who learned Jesus performed a miracle on the sabbath. Many academics emulated the less sanitary habits of monkeys deprived of their bananas. It was a full Level Five freakout.

Fifteen academics who served on the board of the journal resigned. Thousands more circulated a petition demanding not only the paper be retracted (burning e-journals not being an option), but insisting Gilley, and anybody who had even heard of Gilley, apologize.

This wasn’t the end of it. No, sir. Some bloodthirsty clowns threatened the journal editor with bodily harm. So horrifying and persistent were the threats, that the journal tucked its tail firmly between its legs, yanked the paper, and issued a fear-filled Withdrawal Notice.

The paper made no identifiable error, used no false sources. It passed through peer review. It’s not even clear if there was so much as a typo.

But still it was crammed down the memory hole by the publisher Taylor & Francis because the journal editor “received serious and credible threats of personal violence…linked to the publication of this essay” (emphasis added).

The retraction was not a smart move.

What Taylor & Francis might have done is announced they were working with law enforcement to find, prosecute, and punish the criminals making the threats. Or, since law enforcement did not appear especially interested in their pursuit, T&P could have announced they were hiring private investigators to find the brutes.

What Taylor & Francis should have done is followed the example of Christian professor Mike Adams. When he receives a threat on his person, he responds by offering the criminal the choice of weapons Adams will defend himself him.

What Taylor & Francis should not have done is run away from the fight. Why?

We now suspect that any future paper published at this journal, and probably at any journal controlled by the publishing giant, will either have met the test of ideological purity or it will be a banality. Why bother reading anything they print?

The criminals who issued the threats, and their would-be emulators, must feel pretty good about themselves. “Hey, who should we threaten next?” they are surely saying to themselves, “It worked before. Why shouldn’t it work again?”

That’s true. Why shouldn’t it?

Even if no future threats appear, there is always self-censorship to look forward to. What academic would depart from progressive dogma and commit the secular heresy of saying colonialism was not always evil?

Self-censorship is already here. Hiding and keeping quiet is what even moderate professors must do on many campuses.

Rajshree Agarwal, who is by no means a denizen of the right, learnt her lesson. She was asked at an academic conference “what businesses can do to create social value.” She said, “They can do good business.”

Wrong answer.

My research supports this defense of profit, and I was ready to engage in civil discourse. Instead, two colleagues turned on me. “Milton Friedman, are we?” the first person said. “Didn’t you take money from the evil Koch brothers?” the other added…

Agarwal is the founding director of the Ed Snider Center. She said “faculty members who have aligned interests do not want to publicly associate with the Snider Center, for fear of retribution from colleagues.”

Rod Dreher published letters from two professors who expose the sad state of ideological conformity.

The first remarked on “a significant shift since the last election.”

One colleague wanted to confirm that I didn’t vote for Trump — he wasn’t sure how he could work with someone who did. Another noted how she was checking Facebook and Instagram to make sure she didn’t take on any students who were Trump supporters.

The second quit academics.

I saw the increasingly taken-for-granted “all life as praxis” presumption (read: research ought to be political activism; teaching ought to be political activism; mentorship ought to be political activism; scholarship ought to be political activism; parenthood ought to be political activism; etc.) to be a betrayal of the best traditions both of the Humboldtian university and of the institutions that preceded it in western history.

Those doing the purging don’t see their actions as a betrayal, of course. They look forward to the future, where each professor believes only what he’s told to believe.

April 11, 2018 | 9 Comments

A Tale Of Two Parks: Destroyers Vs. Preservers — Guest Post by Kevin Groenhagen

I grew up six miles from White Pines State Park in northern Illinois. I remember attending many family gatherings as a child at the park during the 1960s and 1970s. The Civilian Conversation Corps (CCC) originally constructed the lodge at the park during the 1930s. The CCC project also included sixteen one-room log cabins and three four-bedroom cabins. The lodge and cabins were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

In October 1969, Weatherman organized the Days of Rage demonstrations in Chicago. They started their protest by blowing up a bronze statue of a policeman in Haymarket Square. Over the next few days, they clashed with the police, vandalized dozens of cars and businesses, and injured dozens of police officers. Nearly 300 members of Weatherman ended up being arrested.

The quiet, peaceful environment campers and picnickers enjoy at White Pines State Park offers a stark contrast to Weatherman violence and vandalism in Chicago. The conservatism of Ogle County is also a far cry from communist ideology espoused by Weatherman. However, the park’s history does include a chapter involving the Weather Underground.

“Less than two weeks after the end of the Days of Rage, the Weather Bureau got together at White Pines State Park in northern Illinois,” Mark Rudd wrote in Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weathermen (2009). The Weather Bureau was the Weathermen leadership, which included Rudd, Jeff Jones, Linda Sue Evans, Terry Robbins, Bernardine Dohrn, and Bill Ayers.

The group’s members had rented cabins at the park, where they discussed their future plans. According to Rudd, those plans entailed a violent overthrow of the U.S. government. “We’ve learned from Che [Guevara] that the only way to make revolution is to actually begin armed struggle,” Dohrn told the group.

“[F]ear shot through me when I heard Bernardine talk about actually beginning the clandestine armed struggle,” Rudd wrote. “Going ‘underground’ would mean not only a profound shift in the organization but also a complete transformation of our lives, yet she had spoken coolly, rationally, as if she were suggesting we go out for supper. She proposed we had to make two fundamental decisions in this meeting: that a ‘front four’000Bernardine, Jeff, JJ [John Jacobs], and Terry—be given the go-ahead to plan clandestine work, and that the rest of us would, over the next few months, close the National Office, abandon SDS, and take the entire Weather organization underground.”

Interestingly, thanks to Linda Sue Evans keeping a rental vehicle longer than she should have, the new Weather Underground’s first meeting, in which they planned to do clandestine work, was recorded in newspapers throughout the country, although the violent details were not known at the time.

In an Associated Press dispatch with the dateline Oregon, Ill., and headline “Militant SDS Group Nabbed in Park Raid,” the October 25, 1969 issue of the San Antonio Express-News reported the following:

Police raided three cabins at White Pines State Park Thursday night and turned up some top leaders of the militant Weatherman faction of the Students for a Democratic Society. Two persons were arrested — Jeffrey C. Jones, 22, SDS Interorganizational Secretary from Cylmar, Calif., and Linda Sue Evans, 22, of Ann Arbor, Mich. Among others questioned and released were Mark W. Rudd, 22, National SDS Secretary from Maple Park, N.J.; Bernardine Dohrn, 27, former Interorganizational Secretary from Chicago; and William C. Ayers, 24, of Ann Arbor, SDS Educational Secretary. Jones was charged with possession of a deadly weapon—a blackjack—and released on $1,000 bond. Police said Jones is at liberty on $10,000 bond on an aggravated assault charge in Du Page County. Miss Evans was accused of auto theft after authorities said she had not returned a rented automobile on time. Police dropped the charge, however, on learning the renter would not sign a complaint.

For some reason, the dispatch didn’t mention Terry Robbins.

The group also had two .38-caliber revolvers, which Rudd hid in the woods behind one of the cabins after he saw a large number of police cars at the lodge.

In March 1970, Robbins was with Weather Underground members in Greenwich Village, New York, where they were planning a terrorist attack. “A few nights before, Ted [Gold] had told me what his group was planning,” Rudd wrote. “‘We’re going to kill the pigs at a dance at Fort Dix,’ he said. It was to be an antipersonnel bomb made out of stolen dynamite with sixteen-penny nails for shrapnel. Noncommissioned officers and their wives and dates in New Jersey would pay for American crimes in Vietnam.”

Rudd acknowledged that he assented to this plan. “At that point we had determined that there were no innocent Americans, at least no white ones,” he wrote. “They—we—all played some part in the atrocity of Vietnam, if only the passive roles of ignorance, acquiescence, and acceptance of privilege. Universally guilty, all Americans were legitimate targets for attack.”

Fortunately, Robbins, Gold, and Diana Oughton, Ayers’ girlfriend at the time, accidentally blew up themselves instead of the noncommissioned officers and their dates. After this accident, Ayers and other members of the Weather Underground insist they decided to eschew violence against people and instead target property with their bombs. They also insist their terrorist organization never killed anyone before or after the accident. That may not be entirely true. In February 1970, a bomb placed at a San Francisco police station killed a sergeant and wounded several other officers. Larry Grathwohl, who infiltrated the Weather Underground in late 1969 as an FBI informant, wrote in Bringing Down America: An FBI Informer with the Weathermen (1976) that Ayers told him personally that Dohrn planted the bomb. Leaders of San Francisco’s police officers union continue to believe that Ayers and Dohrn were largely responsible for the bombing.

In a 1982 documentary, Grathwohl discussed the Weather Underground’s plans after successfully achieving a communist revolution in the United States:

I brought up the subject of what’s going to happen after we take over the government. You know, [once] we become responsible for administering, you know, 250 million people. And there was no answer. No one had given any thought to economics. How are you going to clothe and feed these people? The only thing that I could get was that they expected that the Cubans, the North Vietnamese, the Chinese, and the Russians would all want to occupy different portions of the United States. They also believed that their immediate responsibility would be to protect against what they called the “counter-revolution.” And they felt that this counter-revolution could best be guarded against by creating and establishing re-education in the [American] Southwest, where we would take all of the people who needed to be re-educated into the new way of thinking and teach them how things were going to be. I asked, “Well, what is going to happen to those people that we can’t re-educate, that are diehard capitalists?” And the reply was that they’d have to be eliminated. And when I pursued this further, they estimated that they’d have to eliminate 25 million people in these re-education centers. And when I say “eliminate,” I mean kill 25 million people. I want you to imagine sitting in a room with 25 people, most of whom have graduate degrees from Columbia and other well-known educational centers, and hear them figuring out the logistics for the elimination of 25 million people. And they were dead serious.

Lowell Park, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011, is located just eight miles to the south of White Pines State Park. Forty years before the Weather Underground made plans for a violent overthrow of the U.S. government, a young man named Ronald Reagan worked as a lifeguard at Lowell Park. Over seven summers on the Rock River, Reagan saved seventy-seven lives.

Reagan was quite different from Ayers, Dohrn, Jones, and other leaders of the Weather Underground. Reagan was born in a flat above a bank in Tampico, Illinois. The flat had no indoor toilet facilities, no central heat, and no running water. When Reagan was two, the family moved to Chicago, where his father had gotten a job selling shoes. Their flat near the University of Chicago “was lighted by a single gas jet brought to life with the deposit of a quarter in a slot down the hall.” After moving several times, the Reagans settled in Dixon, Illinois, in 1920. “Later in life I learned that, compared with some of the folks who lived in Dixon, our family was ‘poor,'” Reagan wrote in his autobiography, An American Life. “We always rented our home and never had enough money for luxuries. But I don’t remember suffering because of that.”

Ayers’s father never had problems lighting his family’s home. Thomas G. Ayers was, after all, the chairman and chief executive officer of Commonwealth Edison, the largest electric utility in Illinois, in the 1970s. Dohrn grew up in Whitefish Bay, an upper-middle-class suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The daughter of a credit manager, Dohrn was voted the most popular girl in the class of 1959. She graduated from the University of Chicago with honors in 1963 and received her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 1967.

Jeff Jones’s father started a career with the Walt Disney Company in 1954. Home screenings of the latest Mickey Mouse cartoons made Jones popular at his birthday parties.

Diana Oughton, who died in the Greenwich Village explosion, was the daughter of James Henry Oughton, Jr., vice-president of the family bank and owner of a successful restaurant. Her great-grandfather, William D. Boyce, founded the Boy Scouts of America.

Ted Gold, who also died in the explosion, was the son of Hyman Gold, a prominent physician and a mathematics instructor at Columbia University. Gold’s mother was a statistician who also taught at Columbia. The family lived in an upper-middle-class apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Kathy Boudin, who survived the Greenwich Village explosion, is the daughter of attorney Leonard Boudin, who had represented clients such as alleged KGB spy Judith Coplon, Fidel Castro, and Paul Robeson. Dohrn has characterized Leonard Boudin as her “friend, mentor, and colleague among New York anti-war lawyers.” He was also the grandfather of Ayers and Dohrn’s adopted son, Chesa.

When we look at the divisions in the United States today, I wonder if instead of seeing Red America vs. Blue America, conservatives vs. liberals, or Democrats vs. Republicans, perhaps we should consider Destroyers vs. Preservers. I think what occurred at the two northern Illinois parks I mentioned above perfectly illustrate this division. The Weather Underground planned to kill fellow Americans when they met at White Pines State Park in 1969. Ronald Reagan worked to save lives as a lifeguard at Lowell Park. The Weather Underground sought to bring down America. Reagan saw America as a “shining city on a hill” worthy of emulation throughout the world. The members of the Weather Underground are Destroyers. Reagan was a Preserver.

“How to account for ordinary Americans who, in the millions, seem willing to be willing participants in the dismantling of their own country?” Balint Vazsonyi asked in America’s 30 Years War: Who Is Winning? (1998).

To answer this, we have to go back to the 1960s one more time. As we observed, in Europe, the intellectual alliance of former fascists, national socialists, some social democrats, anarchists, Soviet-style and Western-style communists—now all gathered under an all purpose Marxist umbrella—at last mustered the kinetic energy to launch their ideological missile across the Atlantic. As we also observed, by that time America offered a constituency eager to perform the docking maneuver on its arrival. An entire generation of Americans was affected, a generation now at the zenith of power. And here a point of seminal importance: Unless a person has consciously repudiated the teaching of the 1960s, that person will unconsciously carry on the 1960s agenda.

The former Weather Underground leaders and their followers certainly carry on the 1960s agenda. However, the Destroyers were at work prior to the 1960s. After all, in Ideas Have Consequences (1948), Richard Weaver wrote, “First of all, I would maintain that modern man is a parricide. He has taken up arms against, and has effectually slain, what former men have regarded with filial veneration. He has not been conscious of the crime but has, on the contrary—and certainly this is nothing new to students of human behavior—regarded his action as a proof of virtue.”

Perhaps the difference between Weaver’s time and today is the Destroyers appear fully conscious of their crimes while regarding their actions as proof of their virtue. They’re well aware of the fact they are working to destroy our religion, our culture, our traditions, our history, our language, our borders, our Constitution, and even life itself if that life is deemed inconvenient or resistant to re-education. The Destroyers are well-organized, well-financed, and willing to bide their time.

What about the Preservers? I believe we outnumber the Destroyers. Unfortunately, we’re not really in the fight. We occasionally demonstrate that we have a little fight in us, as we did when we elected Ronald Reagan in 1980, a Republican Congress in 1994, and started the Tea Party movement in 2009. However, too often we mistakenly believe the overall war is won after winning a single battle. More often, we give up the fight altogether because we believe the Destroyers are well on their way to winning the war.

I recently watched The Darkest Hour and was struck by this quote from Winston Churchill: “Nations that went down fighting rose again, but those that surrendered tamely were finished.”

Perhaps the Destroyers will ultimately win the war that they have started. However, don’t we owe it to our children to go down fighting?

Kevin Groenhagen is the author of The Tea Party Challenge: Understanding the Threat Posed by the Socialist Coalition.

April 10, 2018 | 16 Comments

A Beats B Beats C Beats A

Thanks to Bruce Foutch who found the video above. Transitivity is familiar with ordinary numbers. If B > A and C > B and D > C, then D > A. But only if the numbers A, B, C and D behave themselves. They don’t always, as the video shows.

What’s nice about this demonstration is the probability and not expected value ordering. Hence the “10 gazillion” joke. “Expected” is not exactly a misnomer, but it does have two meanings. The plain English definition tells you an expected value is a value you’re probably going to see sometime or another. The probability definition doesn’t match that, or matches only sometimes.

Expected value is purely a mathematical formalism. You multiply the—conditional: all probability is conditional—probability of a possible outcome by the value of that possible outcome, and then sum them up. For an ordinary die, this is 1/6 x 1 + 1/6 x 2 + etc. which equals 3.5, a number nobody will ever see on a die, hence you cannot plain-English “expect” it.

It’s good homework to calculate the probability expected value for the dice in the video. It’s better homework to calculate the probabilities B > A and C > B and D > C, and D > A.

It’s not that expected values don’t have uses, but that they are sometimes put to the wrong use. The intransitive dice example illustrates this. If you’re in a game rolling against another playing and what counts is winning then you’ll want the probability ordering. If you’re in a game and what counts is some score based on the face of the dice, then you might want to use the expected value ordering, especially if you’re going to have a chance of winning 10 gazillion dollars. If you use the expected value ordering and what counts is winning, you will in general lose if you pick one die and your opponent is allowed to pick any of the remaining three.

Homework three: can you find a single change to the last die such that it’s now more likely to beat the first die?

There are some technical instances using “estimators” for parameters inside probability models which produce intransitivity and which I won’t discuss. As regular readers know I advocate eschewing parameter estimates altogether and moving to a strictly predictive approach in probability models (see other other posts in this class category for why).

Intransitivity shows up a lot when decisions must be made. Take the game rock-paper-scissors. What counts is winning. You can think of it in this sense: each “face” of this “three-sided die” has the same value. Rock beats scissors which beats paper which beats rock. There is no single best object in the trio.

Homework four: what is the probability of one R-P-S die beating another R-P-S die? Given that, why is it that some people are champions of this game?

R-P-S dice in effect are everywhere, and of course can have more than three sides. Voting provides prime cases. Even simple votes, like where to go to lunch. If you and your workmates are presented choices as comparisons, then you could end up with a suboptimal choice.

It can even lead to indecision. Suppose it’s you alone and you rated restaurants with “weights” the probability of the dice in the video (the weights aren’t necessary; it’s the ordering that counts). Which do you choose? You’d pick B over A, C over B, and D over C. But you’d also pick A over D. So you have to pick A. But then you’d have to pick B, because B is better than A. And so on.

People “break free” of these vicious circles by adding additional decision elements, which have the effect of changing the preference ordering (adding negative elements is possible, too). “Oh, just forget it. C is closest. Let’s go.” Tastiness and price, which might have been the drivers of the ordering before, are jettisoned in favor of distance, which for true distances provides a transitive ordering.

That maneuver is important. Without a change in premises, indecision results. Since a decision was made, the premises must have changed, too.

Voting is too large a topic to handle in one small post, so we’ll come back to it. It’s far from a simple subject. It’s also can be a depressing one, as we’ll see.