Crisis in Ukraine

As I write this, Russia is escalating ground forces in Kiev with the goal of occupying the capital and installing a new regime more favorable to Moscow. The world is watching in horror as Ukrainian forces, standing alone and enlisting all men 18-60 to pick up arms and fight for their country.

The scenes coming from the city are heart wrenching.

What Can the United States Do in Ukraine

Before we can discuss what can be done, we have to acknowledge some facts as they exist.

They are:

  1.  It is possible to acknowledge strategic and tactical moves employed by Putin to be smart or effective or even genius and NOT be rooting for the Russians or for Putin to emerge victorious in this conflict.  Imagine playing chess and your opponent make a nifty play landing you in unexpected check.
  2. Trump was not elected in 2016 with help from the Russians or from Putin.  There was no Russian Collusion.  When you say that you sound like the people who claim the 2020 election was stolen.
  3. Nirvana is not for this world.  There will be the biggest kid on the playground.  Right now we can choose to have that kid be the United States or we can choose to have it be someone other than the United States.   Choose wisely.
  4. There is little to no appetite in the United States to send soldiers to defend Ukraine.
  5. NATO is broken.  As currently configured, NATO is just a term that we apply to the United States acting with the implicit approval of Europe.  The member states of NATO have not been paying their share of the freight for a very long time.  One way or the other, that has to change.  Pay or go.  Choose wisely.
  6. President Biden is suffering significant cognitive decline.  The time has come for him to resign.


The United States has short and long term goals to consider.

Short Term Goals

Our current and perhaps only priority at the moment is the cessation of the conflict in Ukraine.  One way or the other, Putin needs to stop the invasion and restore peace.  This can take several paths:

  1.  Ukraine surrenders
  2.  Ukraine cedes the Eastern breakaway regions and retains the rest of the nation
  3.  Putin surrenders and pulls back Russian forces

The question is which should the United States pursue?

I would like to see Putin call back his armies in full, would work very hard to prevent the outright surrender of the current Ukraine regime and would probably settle for some version of a split nation.

So, how do we get Putin to agree?

How to Prosecute for Peace

The United States does not want to commit ground troops to Ukraine.  We know this.  Putin knows this.  The world, waving at you China, knows this.  So, we have sanctions.  But are sanctions enough?

I think that Putin has done the calculus on possible sanctions that we can impose on him, his cronies and his economy.  I think he knows that the line he has crossed has cost him any future at the table of civilized nations going forward.  I think that he knows that the only real, and is it really real, sanction that as any bite is to cut off Russian energy sales to the West.

But Putin has two aces up his sleeve.

  1.  He knows the West NEEDS Russian oil as much as Russia needs the money.
  2. If we won’t buy his energy, China will.

Because of this, it is my belief that no amount of sanctioning by the West will move Putin in the direction we want him to move.  For better or worse, he has cast his die.

What this means for peace is that the United States is going to have to become “war adjacent”. 

It is not going to be enough to shuttle crates of bullets and guns to Ukrainian men in their 40’s.  We are going to have to provide more and better and more tangible elements of war.  Maybe this is securing air superiority in the region.  Maybe it is by deploying rockets of our own.  It might mean bombing key Russian installations.

Also, in lieu of sanctioning Russian exports of gas to the West, it might be time to bomb Russia’s energy infrastructure.

Short of this, there is little reason to think that the Ukrainians can do anything more than die with honor.


Long Term Goals

To be very clear, our long term goals have to end this obsession with the eradication of fossil fuels.  I understand climate is changing.  But it won’t change in any significant manner in such a time frame that warrants the danger to world peace that we currently find ourselves in.  It is time to recognize that moving to a greener world can be accomplished by replacing energy sources that emit lots of CO2 with sources that, while still emitting CO2, emits less.  Transitioning from coal to oil, then from oil to gas, is a win.

Take the dub.

Germany has to reopen its nuclear plants.

Germany has to replace the energy it is purchasing from Russia.

Same for the rest of the world.

The United States must restore energy independence that was in place when President Biden was elected.

This will almost certainly not occur under the current administration.  Biden lacks the clarity of vision and even had he seen the light, the current democrat party as it is configured will not allow him to abandon the green energy policies that they have championed.  The United States will have to elect a new President on an energy independent platform.

In Conclusion

We find ourselves in a bleak position brought about by our own decisions and taken advantage of by a very shrewd Mr. Putin.  We are not going to go to war, soldier v soldier, with Russia.  We are as dependent of Russian oil as Russia is on Western money.  There is not current appetite to change our energy policy in the US.

This means that the Ukrainians have a long night ahead, both literally and figuratively. 

Banning Books -Thoughts

The Recent Trend of Banning Books

Turn on the news, grab a paper or open your favorite news and app and you are going to see an article discussing the recent trend, is it really recent(?), concerning the banning of books sweeping across America. Art Spiegelman’s book, “Maus” is just a recent example:

Reading “Maus” was formative for me. But decades later, other public school students in Tennessee will be denied that same experience. Despite it being part of a state-approved eighth grade curriculum, the members of the school board in McMinn County, outside of Chattanooga, banned “Maus” in a unanimous vote earlier this month.
The vote finally received media attention Wednesday, just hours before the start of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Minutes of the Jan. 10 meeting available online reveal that the board members said they objected to the book’s use of profanity and an image of nudity depicting the dead body of author Spiegelman’s mother, who took her own life at age 56.

Book banning. Book burning. Restricting content or subject matters. All has a long history within human history. Here in America, we’re just adding to the long oftentimes dark, history. However, before I go into specific stories about the banning of specific books, or curriculum or even speakers, I have some terms to define, and comments regarding each.

Not all book bans are created equal

Much of the narrative you are reading today fails to take into account the nuances of the various bans; shocking, right?  Let me begin:

  1. Absence is not a ban:

    In a given school, whether it be in the school library or the collection of books available in each teachers classroom, there is not room for every book under the sun.  Just because a book is not available in a particular library, classroom or school does not mean that the book has been banned.
  2. Required Reading:

    Schools often stipulate that certain titles are required to be studies as part of their officially sanctioned  curriculum.  Simply because a book is removed from the “Required Reading” list does not mark it as a banned book.  Often times the book may be included in class at the discretion of the teacher.  It may still live in the library even if it is not ever taught in class.
  3. Not Purchased:

    This is a book that has not been purchased by the school but is not considered ‘banned’.  Kids are free to bring the book to school for their own personal reading pleasure.
  4. Banned Material:

    This is the type of material that is the most severe.  The book has been placed on an outright banned list from school grounds.  It is not taught, it is not in any classroom or library and individual students are not free to bring such material to class.

COVID Vaccinations: Update

So, as of today, January 26, 202, we are at 19,902,237 doses administered. That’s 5,631,796 does in 6 days, or 938,632 per day.

North Carolina COVID Data

I have been tracking the cases we’ve seen here in Carolina for some time now. The data prior to the recent surge beginning in September or October has stomped out the earlier data. That said, we’re really interested in the most recent data anyway.

The pattern here is really pretty straight forward. We see surges in cases after travel to and then the celebration of the three big holidays; Thanksgiving, Christmas and then New Years. I have the feeling, unsupported by data, that here in North Carolina, people traveled and met with large family groups for each of the two traditional family holidays; Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m guessing that those folks who typically celebrate New Years continued that practice. The cases follow the very predictable lag of 3-10 days. If I were to track hospitalizations and deaths, I would see the lag of each as well. The number I saw the other day was this:

12% of cases result in hospitalizations with 12% of those resulting in ICU. If I can find a reasonably easy data source I’ll run that data to confirm.

Anyway, it sure seems that we are seeing a real reduction in cases here; the trend is real. Today’s case total, 3978, is the lowest total in absolute terms since December 29 and the 7-day rolling average is the lowest since January 1. Expect this trend to continue.

COVID Vaccinations

New day, new president. Depending on your specific team and taste, this is either good news or bad news. Personally, I am hoping for a break in the incredibly visceral reaction to the recent individuals in presidential politics. From Barack to Hillary to The Donald.

Biden is a welcome dose of vanilla.

Let’s start with one of hi big initiatives that he wants to launch Day 1.

100 million vaccinations in 100 days

On first blush, that’s a fantastic goal. 100 million. 100 days. Very nice repetitive touch of rhetorical skill. The goal is measurable. The goal is soon enough that there is a built in element of urgency. And the idea of the vaccine being rolled out to that many folks gives us hope that we can one day see COVID in the rear view.

But, there is also an element in the goal, and in the news surrounding that goal, that the Biden administration is somehow taking on a Trump vaccine infrastructure that is failing and transforming it into an efficient machine; something that Biden but not Trump, can accomplish.

So, to the data we go.

As I mentioned, 100 million in 100 days is catchy and impressive sounding. Added to that is the notion that it’s a goal the Biden administration is setting for itself to somehow save us from the Trump administration. While there have been problems with the rollout of the vaccination, it would seem that Trump’s mishandling of the vaccination is even more far reaching than many would have guessed: Germany is struggling with their vaccine rollout.

So, how is Trump doing? Reports are that he’s not been doing well:

The rapid expansion of COVID-19 vaccinations to senior citizens across the U.S. has led to bottlenecks, system crashes and hard feelings in many states because of overwhelming demand for the shots.

Mississippi’s Health Department stopped taking new appointments the same day it began accepting them because of a “monumental surge” in requests. People had to wait hours to book vaccinations through a state website or a toll-free number Tuesday and Wednesday, and many were booted off the site because of technical problems and had to start over.

In California, counties begged for more coronavirus vaccine to reach millions of their senior citizens. Hospitals in South Carolina ran out of appointment slots within hours. Phone lines were jammed in Georgia.

“It’s chaos,” said New York City resident Joan Jeffri, 76, who had to deal with broken hospital web links and unanswered phone calls before her daughter helped her secure an appointment. “If they want to vaccinate 80% of the population, good luck, if this is the system. We’ll be here in five years.”

Ouch. But, while narrative is interesting, I’d like to see the numbers:

More than 11.1 million Americans, or over 3% of the U.S. population, have gotten their first shot of the vaccine

The AP article is dated January 14th. The CDC keeps track of vaccine rollout data. Here is a snapshot from today:

As of today, January 20, there have been 14,270,441 people vaccinated. This is an increase of 3.1 million Americans in 6 days, or about 500,000 per day. Interestingly, the AP article has this tidbit:

More than 11.1 million Americans, or over 3% of the U.S. population, have gotten their first shot of the vaccine, a gain of about 800,000 from the day before, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

The data isn’t clear. From the AP article and the CDC data, it appears that we are vaccinating between 500,000 and 800,000 people a day. If we’re dosing 500,000 people per day, the Biden goal is already halfway there and he hasn’t yet done a thing having only been in office 24 hours. If we’re dosing 800,000 people a day, that is already very close to Biden’s goal of 1 million a day.

While team Biden has done a nice job of articulating a goal, the fact is that team Trump likely is already on pace to meet and surpass that goal already.

On Standards and Principles

What is our guide

The shock of the events of this week have only begun to wear off; and then only the raw jagged edges of that shock. The full impact to my senses will take weeks and perhaps months. It’s been said a thousand times by now; you’ve all heard it I’m sure.

I never thought I’d see the day when the United States Capital would be overrun.

And yet here we are.

Over the years there have been many days that have shocked us, saddened us, horrified or shook us. We’ve witnessed untold tragedy, pain, suffering savagery. We’ve seen human pain brought on by craven humanity. And as each of those events have played out, I’ve tried to resist the temptation to lurch into the ‘politics’ of it all. I’ve tried to observe a period of calm reflection and deliberate fact-finding before commenting, before passing judgements and prevent rushing to conclusions that are inappropriately forged in the fire of passion.

And that’s good; calm minds careful with facts, and processes and deliberate understanding of the events produce superior conclusions and prevent mistakes both in facts as they are known and in causing rifts in relationships between people who might be impacted.

However, I live in a world where such deliberate reflections are not observed by the society that we live in. Like it or not, we exist in a world that is impacted by Twitter, by cable news and its 24×7 drumbeat of information. I am finding that if I take too long to raise my voice and to make myself heard, the moment is lost, the next crisis has pushed this one to the side and the events have been shaped by those who yell; yell loudest and first.

So, I am going to try my best to be quick and be good.

This past Wednesday, January 6, Trump supporters gathered in Washington DC to support President Trump and protest the election that took place this past November. At some point during this rally, this protest, a non-trivial subset of the peaceful protesters overpowered the Capital Police, forced their way into the Capital building where a joint session of congress was taking place, forced lawmakers to evacuate the building and rioted and vandalized the Capital building leaving only after hours of such behavior.

They are the facts as we know them. The details of the day’s events, the names of the perpetrators, the crimes they committed have yet to be recorded, the brushstrokes are straight forward.

A pro-Trump rally degenerated into a riot that resulted in the occupation of the United States Capital by members of those Trump supporters.

In the immediate aftermath, and I mean almost literally immediately after the news hit, blame was being assigned, facts were being disputed and sides were being taken with the usual suspects lined up one against the other. The Trump folks claimed that the riots and the vandalism was instigated by leftist infiltrators; Antifa or BLM members. The other side, the folks in our nation that are critical of the President, were equally quick in their condemnation of all things Trump, republican, and conservative.

The mainstream media was in full force, castigating the rioters [they are correct to do so] and castigating all Trump supporters [they are wrong to do so] as criminals, as terrorists, as enemies of the state. Calls for arrest, for charges of sedition, of treason and of insurrection were immediate and universal. Which seemed strange to me. These same media outlets and reporters had no such language when it came to the reporting of the events of the violent clashes we saw take place across America all year.

In fact, while the cities in America burned, people were being killed and police were being targeted and assassinated, the very same media were extolling us to understand the people, to understand that protests and riots have a long and storied history in American politics. Rather, the tones were now tones of anger and rage; filled with righteous condemnation.

So, I am going to ask you to take a minute. To stop the screaming and the chest thumping and the noble outrage. Just stop. For. A. Minute. Look inside yourself and identify what you would consider to be your ‘guiding principle.’ What is your ‘bedrock principle’, your ‘right principle’? What is it that you expect ‘the other side’ to live up to. Then write that down in plain English.

And apply it to yourself. To your team. To your tribe.

For example, if your ‘Guiding Principle’ is:

“In the pursuit of political freedoms, of liberty and the desire to construct a government that is fair and just and equal, it is permissible for the citizen, or the resident, to engage in protest and to engage in behavior that could bring about occasional damage to property, to bring about occasional harm to human life or even to bring about the occasional death of anther human.”

Then say that. Write that down and own that belief. And then, when faced with an individual who believes in that same principle but not the same politics, be objective in your application of that principle.

Do you think that our black friends, neighbors and families, in pursuit of an equitable claim of freedom, of economic equality, of equal protection under the law are entitled to protest in our cities and in our streets even if it means that buildings, vehicles, businesses – property in general be damaged, destroyed or stolen? Do you think that violent reactions in the face of political opposition is okay? Then you must be prepared to allow for the fact that another human being, in opposition to your politics, has the same right to the same strategy.

On the other hand, if you are of the belief that while protests are fine and understandable, violent and wanton destruction of property are not the acceptable forms of the airing of grievances. If you see the disregard for the rights of the individual to live and exist without fear of harm or of death, if you believe in the rule of law and the authority of the police, then you too, Ought be prepared to extend that same ‘first principle’ to yourself. If it is the mark of a mob to riot in the streets, to occupy police precincts and vandalize and loot businesses, then apply the same to your tribe, your team and your political party.

And so here I am jumping out quicker than I feel that I should but later than almost everybody else. SO late as a matter of fact, that I may be too late; the world has moved on. But, be that as it may, hear I am with my observation.

The democrat party and the media in our mainstream America has no ‘first principle’ that it will apply equally to those of us on the right and to themselves. All year we have been lectured by those who know better that the riots and the violence visited on American cities one after another are not only not illegal, but are noble. Are honorable. Such violence, when even acknowledged as violence as most of the time these actions are described as ‘mostly peaceful’ is excused or even seen as necessary to accomplish the goal of the people.

Wednesday night we witnessed a mob out of control take control of the Capital of the United States. And very nearly every single conservative republican condemned that action. Commentators, politicians and everyday Americans were appalled at the events of that night and called it what it rightfully was; a riot by criminals that needs to see the perpetrators punished.

Now, are their exceptions? To be sure. There are those on the right that cheered the rioters on, there are those on the right who claim that it was antifa or even BLM plants that instigated the violence. These people are wrong and should be called out. We cannot have two working sets of facts.

But make no mistake about it, there is near universal condemnation from the democrat left and the media outlets allied with them of the actions of those criminals that breached the Capital while not a single one of them issued a similar statement of responsibility as America burned.

And THAT is what is wrong with America today.

The Supreme Court

The year was 2009. And things were wacky. The fact that Brett Favre was in the NFC Championship game was, by itself, not at all strange. Brett Favre was a great quarterback having a great year. And he was on the brink of a Superbowl birth. No. The wacky part of that 2009 football season was that ‘ol #4 was wearing the purple and gold for the Minnesota Vikings. And that the game was going to change the rules of football.

You see, the game — and it was a GREAT game — ended in a tie. When the whistle blew the score of that game that would determine who represented the NFC in the Superbowl stood 28-28. The Saints managed to play the Vikings to a tie despite being outplayed the whole game. We’re going to overtime! Now, in the NFL up to and including 2009, the overtime rules were crazy, dumb and outdated. The rule, at the time, was this:

Before overtime started, the teams met at mid-field and a coin toss was conducted. The winner of the coin toss was allowed to declare if they would rather kick the ball or receive the ball. The other team was awarded the decision which end zone they would defend. In almost all circumstances, the winner of the coin toss would choose to receive the ball. The reason was simple; the rules of over time stated that the team to score first would be declared the winner.

This is, of course, stupid.

For example, a team that wins the coin toss gets the ball first and only has to score a field goal to win. And they can do this without the other team even having the chance to posses the ball and impact the outcome. Now, the NFL is not alone in sudden death overtime; hockey also plays extra time with the first score determining the winner. Some soccer leagues also play sudden death. However, other sports are not played in this manner. The NBA plays extra minutes and whoever is ahead at the end of that extra time is awarded the victory. Baseball plays an extra inning; each team is provided an opportunity to bat and if they can score more runs than their opponent during that extra inning, they are the winner.

The NFL’s rule is stupid. And the fact that a game as important as the NFC Championship game is determined by a coin toss only makes that rule more unfortunate. As it turned out, New Orleans won the coin toss, received the ball, moved close enough to attempt a field goal and won the game 31-28. The very next season the NFL changed the over time rules to allow both teams the chance to possess the ball IF the first team scored on a field goal. If they score a touchdown on the first possession, the game is over.

Better – but still dumb.

And here’s the thing; everyone KNOWS that this was a horrible rule. And while the NFL made it better by adjusting for a first strike FG, they still allow sudden death in the event of a touchdown. The rule is a bad rule. It is NOT poorly written or misunderstood. The rule is clear, everyone understands it. But it’s just a bad rule and there hasn’t been a willingness to change the rule.

Now, imagine if the Minnesota Vikings, after giving up that field goal to the Saints, appealed to the refs in the game and made the claim that the decision awarding the win to the Saints wasn’t right. That BOTH teams should be offered the opportunity to score. After all, football should be decided by plays on the field, not the luck of a coin toss. Whats more, there is precedent for such a method and it has been wildly successful. College football has a much better system.

In the college game, when four quarters results in a tie, each team is given the opportunity to score, much like the innings of a baseball game. Rather than have a kickoff, another horribly random play that unfortunately changes the outcomes of too many games, but I digress, the college format dictates that the ball is placed at the opponent’s 25 yard line. From there, each team attempts to drive the ball and score; either by touchdown or by field goal. After each team has had the chance to score, the game is decided by whoever has the most points. In the event of a continued tie; repeat.

Back to our imaginary appeal to the referees after the Saints scored their field goal. The Vikings surly have a case to be made; it is not fair that a team can win a football game by kicking a single field goal based on who wins a coin toss. It is nearly indisputable that the college system is superior. In fact, the college rules not only assure that there will be a winner, in the regular season, an NFL game can end in a tie if no team scores in 15 minutes, but it is superior to the format currently employed by the NHL and most soccer leagues; the dreaded shoot-out. Clearly the rule, as written, is outdated, not fair and has a clear path to a better result.

The referees should absolutely rule in favor of the Minnesota Vikings, award them the ball via Saint’s kick-off and resume play.

Except that’s not how things work.

You see, it is not the job of the referees to write new rules. Their job is to adjudicate existing rules as they are written. It is the role of the owner’s competition committee to write new rules; or not, depending on the will of those owners.

And so we come to my point:


Amy Coney Barrett

6 – 3

We had a good four years! Perhaps the biggest win for the Trump years was the additions of Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett. By elevating these three judges to The Supreme Court of the United States, Trump has solidified a conservative majority in the court for a generation; maybe more. But what does it mean to be a “conservative” when it comes to the Supreme Court?

What it’s not is this – A conservative Supreme Court is NOT a court that looks to uphold laws or cases that the partisan right-wing might favor. It is not the role of a conservative Court to see those partisan battle lines and take a side. A conservative Court should not care one single iota if the case being heard is one where a republican President or a democrat President favors the outcome. She should not care a single whiff that the case has the hopes and prayers of a partisan congress or even a partisan electorate writing Op Eds in the Journal or the Times. He should not care that the Senate Majority Leader is stomping on the grounds of the Senate or the Speaker is railing the same in the House.

The role of The Supreme Court of the United States is to adjudicate the law. Before it. As it is written.


The role of the court is NOT to ascertain what the Founders *may* have thought about certain events today, the changing nature of society today. The court is not to guess what the legislature might say if they could speak today.

The role of the court is to call balls and strikes. Or touchdowns and field goals.

Or overtime rules.

The reason the supreme court is such a hot button topic, and the reason why the liberal left is so emotional about the replacement of RBG by ACB, is that, for them, the court is not a arbiter of rules as written, the court is a process whereby old and archaic laws are to be refreshed, rewritten or reinterpreted. Maybe, maybe, the legislature would have included transgendered rights when they crafted Title VII of The Civil Rights Act back in 1964. Or maybe they wouldn’t have. That’s not important. What IS important is that they didn’t.

Maybe the 2nd amendment would have been written differently if the founders could have conceived a world that we find ourselves living in today. Maybe a just and noble society OUGHT restrict firearms. Maybe. Probably. But all of that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that there exists a process whereby legislation can be enacted to reflect current and prevailing views. If you don’t like the laws, change the laws. Elect politicians who will submit the bill, debate the bill and pass it where it will be signed into law by an executive who has also been elected.

And if you are unable to do that, going to the supreme court to get them to change the law from what it actually says into something that you hope for it to say is outside the role of the court.

So yes, Trump getting Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett on the court is a HUGE deal. Because now we will have a court that will interpret laws and not create them. We will have a court that is not trying to ‘catch the country up’ to society that it thinks we live in.

And that right there, is a pretty strong legacy.

Election 2020 – Pino’s Take

Well, it’s over. The great Biden Trump heavy weight bought has come and gone and Biden will be the next President of the United States of America – followed closely by Kamala as Biden is replaced within a year and a half. Going in, I was sure that we were gonna see a blue wave. I’m proud to report that we saw barely a ripple.

While Biden is gonna win his win is much less telling than we all thought it gonna be. There is no mandate. There is no massive shift. In ideology or makeup of the institutions. The House came back to the republicans enough that Pelosi may lose her gavel and the Senate remains firmly in the hands of Cocaine Mitch.

Here in Carolina the republicans retain control of the government even while Cooper will get 4 more years. This as we elect the first black Lt Governor in the state with the Republican Robinson.

So, I’m mixed on Trump. He’s a repulsive human being but he governed as a true conservative – mostly.

And now that we have a democrat in office, covid is cured.


The 1619 Project: My Thoughts

I suppose that it is long since past the time to listen to the 1619 Project published by the New York Times Magazine. And now with #BlackLivesMatter all in the news, it is more important than ever to to take the time and see what the project is and what it says.

But before I do, I want to take a few minutes and collect my thoughts and write down what I think of the 1619 before I listen to the podcast found here.

The first African slave ship to arrive in what is now America landed in the year 1619. With the arrival of that ship, the practice of chattel slavery in what would become the United States of America began. As I understand it, the 1619 project is an attempt to correct the historical accounting of the founding of the nation more commonly taught as an experiment in liberty and freedom. The author, Nikole Hannah-Jones, tries to tell the story of America through the lens of the oppression of people, I assume this would be non-white people, and how that oppression was used to build the the United States. I expect that Nikole will make the case that this country, the wealth and prosperity it has enjoyed, is due in no small part to the forced labor and the abuse of minority people at the hands of white Europeans and it is this narrative, rather than the idea that we are founded on near religious documents such as The Declaration of the United States of America and The Constitution of the United States of America, that is the true story of our beginnings.

If you know me, you will not be surprised to learn that I take a very skeptical side-eye to this idea. It’s not that I deny the fact that slavery existed in America, that slavery is brutal and inhumane, that the legacy of slavery still echos today. I don’t deny any of that. I just don’t happen to feel that America was founded on the concepts of being a slave state. I happen to feel that America was founded on the concepts stated in those documents. Concepts such as negative rights, limited government, the sovereignty of the individual. I believe that the founders did envision “a more perfect union” when they were gathering and thinking and legislating.

I have a healthy suspicion of the NY Times, its reporters, their bias. I don’t believe that they are neutral observers reporting news and facts as they happen and leave the analysis to us, the gentle reader. Rather, the Times has an agenda and that agenda is more closely aligned with far left ideology, think Karl Marx, than an ideology based on the concept of individual liberty. With this in mind, I fully expect that my listening of the 1619 Project will find errors in facts, a rewrite of history to support a “going in narrative” and an arc meant to reinforce a policy agenda already formed rather than an honest curiosity driven questioning of events years gone by.

To be fair, I listen to a majority of opinion from the right. I listen to Ben Shapiro, The Federalist, CATO. I read Reason and Mises. I also try to balance this with The Slate’s, ‘The Gabfest’ and am a regular reader of Slate and up until they went behind a paywall, The Atlantic. Of my sources of analysis, it is Ben that is the harshest critic of Nikole and her project.

I believe that America is that noble invention. I believe in the nobility of the self and the state that allows the expression of the individual liberty we all ought enjoy. In fact, liberty being the natural state of man, I happen to think that the restriction of that liberty, to deny a man the ability to express fully his own liberty, is nearly so, more so, a sin against nature as it would be to take his life.

I believe that we are all members of humanity; a humanity that itself an best be described as a ‘fallen humanity’. That while we are created in the image of God, we have not, cannot, live up to the expectations of a perfect life. That life, that perfection, is not meant for this world; that is the domain of the next. I believe that man can be wicked, man can be cruel. I find that, in the end, we all strive to make a life for ourselves better and that often, as is our nature, we see the world and the resources in it as a finite pie. We see the struggle for a better life as a zero sum game. Think a sporting contest between two players or teams. A score for your team, or a reduction of a score of your opponent is the same. A touchdown is a 7-point advantage for you and represents an exactly opposite 7-point disadvantage to the opposition.

A zero sum game. A game that ends 21-7 represents a 14-point advantage for your team and a 14-point disadvantage to the other team. Plus 14 for you and minus 14 for them. (+14) + (-14) = zero. A zero sum game.

This belief leads to all forms of evil. Slavery being one. In that regard, the United States is not unique. Slavery has existed since time immemorial and in every society and civilization in the world. In fact, slavery continues today. The noble intentions of our founding should not be replaced or rejected simply because people are sinful, a sad state that we cannot escape, but should be celebrated BECAUSE, or in spite of the fact, that we are sinful. It is the acknowledgement of our failings that is the genesis of our nation.

I suspect that Nikole and 1619 will try to refute that. I suspect that I will not enjoy that argument and will likely reject it as wrong.

An Opportunity For Reflection

It’s crazy out there man. Just walk outside, walk around outside and walk around where people are. Since February it’s been the covid. Since last week it’s been about George Floyd.

It’s crazy out there.

Grocery shopping is mostly the same. But only mostly. Increasingly I am getting scolding looks for not wearing a mask when I’m at the store. But so far that’s been it; an occasional glance or a slight frown of disapproval. A couple of times I’ve noticed an actual physical recoil. For example, as I’m making my way out of the aisle to move about the one of the two main horizontal aisles I’ll forget to look and all of a sudden I have intruded the personal space of someone. And to be sure, I have. I am absolutely overly close to that guy and I absolutely am the one that moved into his space. Before, before covid, this happened no more or less than it does today. But today is different. Today the guy recoils. It’s as if I have the plague. And maybe that’s truer than we know. Anyway, grocery shopping is mostly the same.

Work is WAY different. First, I don’t go work anymore. I go to the corner of my room, to my ‘office’ and from there I do my job. I haven’t been to my real office in weeks. Months. I don’t see my co-workers, I don’t see folks getting coffee or lunch. I don’t stop for a beer on the way home. The dogs love it though.

It’s crazy out there.

And then the world blew up.

A cop in Minneapolis, responding to a call regarding a counterfeit $20 bill, apprehended George Floyd, a black man, arrested him, placed him in handcuffs and while he was laying on the ground, not resisting or posing any threat to either 1. run or 2. to the officer, placed his knee on the neck of Mr. Floyd and held it there, for 9 minutes, until Mr. Floyd died.

That cop, for no reason, choked George Floyd until he was dead.

And the nation is now on fire. The anger, the frustration and the rage that has been felt by the communities across America have led to reasonable, legitimate and mostly peaceful protests. Black Americans have taken to the streets to voice their anger, their rage, their fear and their frustration over the continued abuse at the hands of their cities and towns, their states and their nation and yes sometimes their police. They are rising up and voicing their opposition to years, decades, generations – centuries, of oppression and abuse and fear.

These people are afraid. And they are tired of being afraid.

And they are right.

These protests are full of emotion. These protests are raw emotion. They are all about emotion; rage, fear, resentment – even a reckoning. And as so often happens when emotions are running high, outcomes that we don’t wanna see can spill into the open. These righteous protests have devolved into riots. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that these righteous protests have been followed by unrighteous riots. To say that America is burning is not a metaphor. Turn on any news channel and you’ll see one city after another, one state after another, on fire. Police fighting citizen; neighbor burning neighbor.

America is burning; it’s crazy out there.

It’s natural, I suppose, to ask yourself, ‘what can I do?’ And there might be obvious answers to that question – I suspect that my younger self had those answers anyway. I’m older than I once was (and younger than I’ll be that’s not unusual) and now I wonder not so much if I am wrong, but I wonder if I ever was right? I know that I don’t have all the answers. I’m now left with wondering if I have any.

It’s been awhile since I have visited this place here at Tarheel. And longer since I have routinely posted like I did all those years ago – kids and ever increasing responsibilities contribute to this decline. But with all that’s been going on I find myself failing back on an old addage I’m fond of:

How do I know what I think until I am able to see what I say?

So, I’m back here old friend. At least for today.

So, what do I think about race today? What do I think about the issues that America faces with respect to race? That’s a question with an answer much larger than a single post here. To be sure. But I do feel compelled to rough it out, to sketch the broad outlines.

I think that America has a lot of hurt in us. And I don’t think that I’ve always felt that way. I think that we’ve got more work to do than I was willing to acknowledge in the past; though I am still optimistic about where we find ourselves. I firmly believe that we’ve made remarkable progress in my lifetime. Gone are the days of codified racism; lunch counters to buses to restrooms to water fountains are all relegated to the history books. Opportunities, if not outcomes, are available and open to all of us. Who can’t become a doctor, a teacher, an attorney? A President?

But. Outcomes. There is very little solace in equality if we don’t equally feel equal. And the outcomes are definitely not equal. I can’t help but feel if it might be THAT fact that is driving the rage today. I don’t know.

Okay, but, so what DO I know – or, perhaps more correctly, what do I think I know today? I think I know that we don’t agree on what racism means. I think that the division in America is politically driven. I believe that policies in place absolutely affect the outcomes that we see today.

I believe that data is critical in this debate. All data – the more of it the better. I believe that we have to have a conversation about what’s going on around here and that we have to allow for that debate to be honest and fear free. Free from the fear of being labelled ‘a hater’ or ‘a racist’. I believe that the free market is the single greatest anti-poverty machine the world has ever seen. I believe that America, the concept that we call America, the promises given to us through the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States are darn near holy documents.

I believe that we are fallible; we are a fallen humanity complete with the failures, sins and ugliness commensurate with being human. I believe that we are still the greatest nation on earth.

And finally. Finally, I believe that deep down, we know, we ALL know, that the world is watching us. Watching us and holding its breath. The world is holding its breath because the world knows, the world knows that if America fails here, there is no hope anywhere else.

At least I think I know.

So, tonight and into this week I’m gonna go back and see what I’ve said. I have a category labelled ‘Race’ and I’m gonna go back through and read what I’ve said. And reflect on what I’ve said and then see if I feel differently.