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Some Scary thoughts

From HMS Defiant – ON NATIONAL STRENGTH AND WILL

A study of history shows that the United States rose to dominate the world after World War II due to its transcendent wealth and manufacturing and maintained its dominance even as the politics of the nation slipped to encompass outright stupidity at the very top of politics and saw the jobs and manufacturing flow out of the United States and soon followed by the wealth.

Where the international currency had been dominated entirely by the dollar it isn’t anymore thanks in large part to the stupid and insane policies of the Fed and the US Government as it tried to use $hegemony to trim our rivals (not our enemies, just rivals) and so we come to what is left at the end and it isn’t what you think.

There is very little remaining of the military I spent 30 years in and my father spent 26 years in and his father spent 30 years serving.  The debacles go all the way back to our involvement in the dissolution of Yugoslavia and persist right through Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and encompass all the myriad little SNAFUs along the way such as Mogadishu and the rest of Somalia and Sudan and Iran.

The officers selected to run our military services were all selected by the handful of officers approved by Bill Clinton who then went on to pick more like themselves for the 3 and 4 star commands which led to an overwhelming number of idiots, morons and incompetent boobs at the help of all 4 military services and things are only getting worse at an accelerating rate because the blinders are off now and the People can see what a travesty military service has become.

General officers like Flynn and Boykin  aren’t just rare these days, the very conditions to bring them out are gone because they’ve been stamped flat. Only officers like former LTGEN Clapper will thrive in this environment. There should not be any room at the top for liars like that.

It says something when the entire United States of America can only build one nuclear submarine at a time because it doesn’t have enough qualified skilled craftsmen to build two nuclear submarines at the same time. Did nobody see that coming?

The surface warships designed and built for the last 20 years have been pure crap Littoral Combat Ships which can literally perform no military duties whatsoever because not one of the mission modules they were designed to operate (supposedly) has ever been embarked and deployed. Not a single module in 20 years. Included in the crummy design category must be the Zumwalt class of extremely large gunboats and the bleeding-edge-tech aircraft carrier, USS Ford.

The Army is short more than an entire infantry division because youngsters failed to materialize out of the old South to fill the ranks of a service that has largely lent its name, image and heritage to vilifying every single aspect of Southern pride and engaged in a never ending witch hunt for some white supremacy in the Army.

It looks like all the pillars of national power and prestige have been deliberately broken and thrown down by the people and the government running this country.

I wonder where they all plan to refugee to when this country “suddenly” goes 3rd world and no longer has electrical power 24/7 and fewer and fewer working roads and nowhere near enough fuel to fire the power stations and the cars and trucks that make this country possible.

It’s probably time for a long hard think about where we’re heading as a country and what we can do to shape a future that is better for all of us. Perhaps there is no future in being the global superpower and we should just stop doing it. We might say the same thing about many of the roles we have found ourselves inserted into over the decades.

Maybe we could end the war on drugs? With the vast amounts of lethal concentrations of fentanyl entering the country now, it’s just a matter of time until the addicts all kill themselves and what the Hell, states are busy legalizing all the fun drugs while still restricting access to things like sudafed….

End the war on poverty. We lost that one so it might be time to initiate a new war that deports the impoverished to someplace else such as California.

End all subsidies for public education at all levels from pre-school to College and let the maket forces sort out what college graduates we really need. It will probably turn out that we need about 1/20th of the ones we currently graduate from 4 year colleges.

We could collapse the entire FBI, CIA, NSA, DIA and the Homeland Security operations/intel centers and go back to the old school way where we only spy on our enemy, not everybody.

It bears some thinking about.

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Some Scary thoughts

What Happens When The Competent Opt Out? BY TYLER DURDEN

By this terminal stage, the competent have been driven out, quit or burned out.

What happens with the competent retire, burn out or opt out? It’s a question few bother to ask because the base assumption is that there is an essentially limitless pool of competent people who can be tapped or trained to replace those who retire, burn out or opt out, i.e. quit in favor of a lifestyle that doesn’t require much in the way of income or stress.

These assumptions are no longer valid. A great many essential services that are tightly bound to other essential services are cracking as the competent decide (or realize) they’re done with the rat-race.

The drivers of the Competent Opting Out are obvious yet difficult to quantify. Those retiring, burning out and opting out will deny they’re leaving for these reasons because it’s not politic to be so honest and direct. They will offer time-honored dodges such as “pursue other opportunities” or “family obligations.”

1. The steady increase in workloads, paperwork, compliance and make-work (i.e. work that has nothing to do with the institution’s actual purpose and mission) that lead to burnout. There is only so much we can accomplish, and if we’re burdened with ever-increasing demands for paperwork, compliance, useless meetings, training sessions, etc., then we no longer have the time or energy to perform our productive work.

I wrote a short book on my experience of Burnout. I believe it is increasingly common in jobs that demand responsibility and accountability yet don’t provide the tools and time to fulfill these demands. Once you’ve burned out, you cannot continue. That option no longer exists.

For others, the meager rewards simply aren’t worth the sacrifices required. The theme song playing in the background is the Johnny Paycheck classic Take this job and shove it.

Healthcare workloads, paperwork and compliance are one example of many. Failure to complete all the make-work can have dire consequences, so it becomes necessary to do less “real work” in order to complete all the work that has little or nothing to do with actual patient care. Alternatively, the workload expands to the point that it breaks the competent and they leave.

2. Loss of autonomy, control, belonging, rewards, accomplishment and fairness. Professor Christina Malasch pioneered research on the causes of burnout, which can be summarized as any work environment that reduces autonomy, control, belonging, rewards, accomplishment and fairness.

Despite a near-infinite avalanche of corporate happy-talk (“we’re all family,”–oh, barf) this describes a great many work environments in the US: in a word, depersonalized. Everyone is a replaceable cog in a great impersonal machine optimized to maximize profits for shareholders.

3. The politicization of the work environment. Let’s begin by distinguishing between policies enforcing equal opportunity, pay, standards and accountability, policies required to fulfill the legal promises embedded in the nation’s social contract, and politicization, which demands allegiance and declarations of loyalty to political ideologies that have nothing to do with the work being done or the standards of accountability necessary to the operation of the complex institution or enterprise.

The problem with politicization is that it is 1) intrinsically inauthentic and 2) it substitutes the ideologically pure for the competent. Rigid, top-down hierarchies (including not just Communist regimes but corporations and institutions) demand expressions of fealty (the equivalent of loyalty oaths) and compliance to ideological demands (check the right boxes of party indoctrination, “self-criticism,” “struggle sessions,” etc.).

The correct verbiage and ideological enthusiasm become the basis of advancement rather than accountability to standards of competence. The competent are thus replaced with the politically savvy. Since competence is no longer being selected for, it’s replaced by what is being selected for, political compliance.

It doesn’t matter what flavor of ideological purity holds sway–conservative, progressive, communist or religious–all fatally erode competence by selecting for ideological compliance. Everyone knows the enthusiasm is inauthentic and only for show, but artifice and inauthenticity are perfectly adequate for the politicization taskmasters.

4. The competent must cover for the incompetent. As the competent tire of the artifice and make-work and quit, the remaining competent must work harder to keep everything glued together. Their commitment to high standards and accountability are their undoing, as the slack-masters and incompetent either don’t care (“I’m just here to qualify for my pension”) or they’ve mastered the processes of masking their incompetence, often by blaming the competent or the innocent for their own failings.

This additional workload crushes the remaining competent who then burn out and quit, go on disability or opt out, changing their lifestyle to get by on far less income, work, responsibility and far less exposure to the toxic work environments created by depersonalization, politicization and the elevation of the incompetent.

5. As the competent leadership leaves, the incompetent takes the reins, blind to their own incompetence. It all looked so easy when the competent were at the helm, but reality is a cruel taskmaster, and all the excuses that worked as an underling wear thin once the incompetent are in leadership roles.

By this terminal stage, the competent have been driven out, quit or burned out. There’s only slack-masters and incompetent left, and the toxic work environment has been institutionalized, so no competent individual will even bother applying, much less take a job doomed to burnout and failure.

This is why systems are breaking down before our eyes and why the breakdowns will spread with alarming rapidity due the tightly bound structure of complex systems.

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Some Scary thoughts You have to be kidding, right!?!

It’s Over! South Africa is F*&$d – Failed State

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Some Scary thoughts

And if they can do this in Jolly Old England……

In Place until 1973

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Some Scary thoughts The Green Machine

On Command: A Confession BY ANGRY STAFF OFFICER

I don’t want to be a battalion commander. I don’t want to be a brigade commander. I don’t want to command anything, ever again.

For an Army officer to say, this is well nigh on heresy. I nearly expected George C. Marshall himself to descend from his lofty throne on Mount This We’ll Defend and smite me down with his Army Strong Scepter as I typed those words. As officers, we are taught from our very beginnings as second lieutenants that battalion command is the end-all goal of our careers. And I believed it, too. I wanted it.

I wanted to wear the silver oak leaves and receive the colors from my brigade commander, seeing all the campaign streamers and unit awards, and knowing that was entrusted to me. That weighty responsibility, all in my hands. And then, I could make positive changes in soldiers’ lives. We could make the Army fun again. My staff and I, we could cut through the BS and show soldiers that their lives in the Army didn’t have to suck. We could make a difference. I truly wanted that.

And then I had company command. Well, command(s). Like battalion command, I had yearned for company command for years. For years, people had told me, “Oh, just wait for company command, you’ll love it.” I was sure I would. Command was a privilege, not a right, I was told. Damn right, and I wanted that privilege. Like all senior lieutenants, I was champing at the bit to take the guidon and run with it. And I did. And it was a blast.

For about a year and a half.

Then the running became a slog. Then the slog became a morass. And then I began to feel like I was drowning. I was exhausted. I was tired of fighting ridiculous battles with higher echelons to do the simplest of things. I was tired of the late-night texts and the phone calls, wondering what one of the soldiers in my unit had done this time. I was tired of the endless meetings, the signatures on an infinity of forms, of constantly feeling like for every step forward, I took two steps back. I was tired of fighting personnel battles, trying to ensure soldiers got to go where it worked best for them and the Army, only to get slapped down. Of building training plans which had to be changed less than a month out because someone above me failed to plan correctly. Of receiving conflicting guidance, where somehow even the most basic things became complicated. Of constantly balancing peoples’ egos and personalities with each other. Of acting as recruiting officer and commander, simultaneously. I was exhausted.

On paper, though, we were winning. Across two line company commands, we averaged the highest retention rates in the battalion and in some years, the whole state. We did this because we treated soldiers like human beings. We treated endemic unit issues and helped soldiers get into marriage, financial, or personal counseling. We destroyed other units’ metrics in training and were rated the best company of our type in our JRTC rotation. We somehow managed to have a robust and fun training schedule during the pandemic, while keeping soldiers safe. All the training paid off when we mobilized the company in 48 hours to get on the ground in DC after January 6. We won best unit in the battalion for years running. Officers, NCOs, and soldiers got to go to their dream schools. We helped so many soldiers get full time jobs in the National Guard so they could spread their skills around and build a solid financial base. We developed good relationships with other units and I got to work with some amazing leaders. And personally, I racked up top blocks on my OER for every year of command. On paper, I was best qualified and on track for battalion command. But I was exhausted.

I knew I needed to come out of command about four months before I actually did. But there’s that thing in your head, where you think, “to be a good leader, I have to give it my everything.” There’s a vivid picture in my memory of my conversation with my battalion executive officer, where I said I needed a break…”But if you really need me to, I can do four full years,” I heard myself say. Totally not like a masochist at all, nope.

I came out of command after 3 1/2 years and as I told someone when they asked me where I wanted to go next, I said, “A dark room where no one talks to me, and I can just read some doctrine or something.” The universe – or some kindly deity – came to my rescue and got me a dream assignment that took me far out of the universe of the operational force. Someplace I could finally take a knee and breathe. It felt weird. And on reflection, I came up with a troubling realization.

I did not love my company command. God knows, I wanted to. I loved the people I worked with, but command? Naw, I’m good. Then I began to think about battalion command and my brain basically shut down. Maybe I just had nothing more to give, or maybe…maybe it held nothing for me anymore. This was an embarrassing thought and I was reluctant to share it with anyone else, because it sounds like admitting failure and weakness.

Then I began to talk to my post-command peers, from across all components of the Army and a whole slew of branches. There were people who had deployed with their companies, some had commanded basic training companies, some who had incredibly specialized commands, and others who had basic branch commands. To a person, when we talked about if we wanted battalion command, the answer was, “Naw, I’m good.” Amazingly, we’d all had very similar experiences. Successful commands, top-blocked on evals, the works; but utterly and entirely drained, disillusioned, jaded, and with no desire to move to that next rung on the ladder. Precisely because they felt like they couldn’t actually make any meaningful changes – all while being ground down and kept away from their families.

So that’s why I write this. Not to complain about the Army. This is for all those other officers out there who might be thinking that you’re the anomaly, the aberration. That something’s wrong with you. Nope, you’re pretty damn normal from what I can see.

However, it should perhaps be sounding some alarm bells for the Army. If it was just me who had been feeling this way, as I thought for a while, then that’s a “me” problem – and I have no problem admitting that. Indeed, it took me so long to write this – I’m almost two years post-command – because I wanted to make sure this *wasn’t* just me being a cantankerous, salty moron. As, you know, I have the propensity to be from time to time. As it turned out, it’s not just a me problem.

Which then leads me to conjecture, that if you have thinking, capable, dynamic, engaged, and caring officers, who are rated among the best, but who are scrambling to find their ways out of their basic branches so as to not have to compete for command…that sounds like an Army problem. And it also means that those who are competing for battalion commands are either the very best of the best (and probably superheroes, to boot), or the egotistical, non self-aware narcissists that absolutely should never lead soldiers but somehow we keep meeting them in places of authority.

If you are looking at the conclusion, here, for a solution to this problem, I regret to inform you that I do not have one. Is there a way to make command less burdensome? Probably, but that would involve reforming the culture of the Army from the top down, which I don’t think I have the brainpower or the rank to call for, let alone the digital space to quantify.

Perhaps this can begin a dialogue, however, as we discuss how we treat command. The times ahead are not getting any simpler, and we will need the most capable minds in the Army to be in the best places for them in the years to come (not mine, it’s barely capable of holding two competing thoughts in it at the same time). As we discuss talent management, this needs to be part of that conversation.

As for me, who knows – maybe I’ll change my mind as I go through my other key duty positions. But I also know that if you do not want to be a commander, you should not be a commander. There’s plenty of fulfilment in the rest of the Army for me.

And hey, if you survived command and loved it, and were good at it, and aren’t some sort of absolute psychopathic micromanager who hates their families – good on you. I’m glad you exist. We need you.

For everyone else, you’re not alone.

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Some Scary thoughts You have to be kidding, right!?!

Senators issued satellite phones, part of new security measures 15 by Scott MacFarlane (Its a big club & we are NOT in it!)

Amid growing concerns of security risks to members of Congress, more than 50 senators have been issued satellite phones for emergency communication, people familiar with the measures told CBS News. The devices are part of a series of new security measures being offered to senators by the Senate Sergeant at Arms, who took over shortly after the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The satellite phone technology has been offered to all 100 senators. CBS News has learned at least 50 have accepted the phones, which Senate administrative staff recommend senators keep in close proximity during their travels.

In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee last month, Senate Sergeant at Arms Karen Gibson said satellite communication is being deployed “to ensure a redundant and secure means of communication during a disruptive event.”

Gibson said the phones are a security backstop in the case of an emergency that “takes out communications” in part of America. Federal funding will pay for the satellite airtime needed to utilize the phone devices.

A Department of Homeland Security advisory said satellite phones are a tool for responding to and coordinating government services in the case of a “man-made” or natural disaster that wipes out communication.

Gibson has also opened an office “demonstration space” in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building to offer senators and staff an exhibition of new home state office security upgrades. The demonstration room offers exhibitions of “duress buttons,” mail screening devices and safety glass to reduce the risk of attacks.

U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms Karen Gibson testifies before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on April 25, 2023 in Washington, D.C. / Credit: Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images
U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms Karen Gibson testifies before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on April 25, 2023 in Washington, D.C. / Credit: Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images

In her testimony before the Senate panel in April, Gibson reported, “Our team provided initial physical security enhancements for 31 offices and improved existing security for 52 others in 2022. Maintaining security systems in good working order is a priority, and to support this effort our team conducted over 622 service calls to maintain, repair, and or test and inspect state office physical security systems in 2022.”

Senate administrators have also offered “stop the bleed” training to better equip staffers to respond to medical emergencies and victims of attacks.

In April, the House Sergeant at Arms William McFarland told legislators there is “robust participation” in a program to help House members secure their home residences. McFarland said that House administrators are coordinating with local police departments to help protect members of Congress who hold events in their home states and to help better secure the homes of members.

A spending bill passed in late 2022 provided additional funds for hometown security measures for Congress. The legislation required security administrators to “enhance member protection including providing a security program for Congressional Leadership, expanding Dignitary Protection Division services and expanding USCP field office presence,” which would deploy and broaden Capitol Police protection in cities outside of Washington.

Though the U.S. Capitol complex is shielded by a force of nearly 2,000 Capitol police employees, there have been growing concerns about hometown security for members of Congress. A California man was charged in a 2022 attack at the San Francisco home of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The assailant was allegedly targeting Nancy Pelosi when he confronted and attacked Pelosi’s husband Paul with a hammer.

In a May 15 attack at the Fairfax, Virginia, office of Rep. Gerry Connolly, one of Connolly’s constituents is accused of attacking two of the congressman’s staffers with a metal baseball bat. Both were briefly hospitalized and are recovering.

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Being a Stranger in a very Strange Land Some Scary thoughts

Stuff like this scares the shit out of me!

                Especially since I am old, crippled with a bad back & seen way too much real violence in my time. Grumpy

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All About Guns Anti Civil Rights ideas & "Friends" Born again Cynic! Interesting stuff Paint me surprised by this Some Scary thoughts You have to be kidding, right!?!

Disarm the IRS, De-Militarize the Bureaucracy, and Dismantle the Standin

John Whitehead

“There are instruments so dangerous to the rights of the nation and which place them so totally at the mercy of their governors that those governors, whether legislative or executive, should be restrained from keeping such instruments on foot but in well-defined cases. Such an instrument is a standing army.”—Thomas Jefferson, 1789

What does it say about the state of our freedoms that there are now more pencil-pushing, bureaucratic (non-military) government agents armed with weapons than U.S. Marines?

Among the agencies being supplied with night-vision equipment, body armor, hollow-point bullets, shotguns, drones, assault rifles and LP gas cannons are the IRS, Smithsonian, U.S. Mint, Health and Human Services, FDA, Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Education Department, Energy Department, Bureau of Engraving and Printing and an assortment of public universities.

Add in the Biden Administration’s plans to swell the ranks of the IRS by 87,000 new employees (some of whom will be authorized to use deadly force) and grow the nation’s police forces by 100,000 more cops, and you’ve got a nation in the throes of martial law.

We’re being frog-marched into tyranny at the end of a loaded gun.

Make that hundreds of thousands of loaded guns.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of federal agents armed with guns, ammunition and military-style equipment, authorized to make arrests, and trained in military tactics has nearly tripled over the past several decades.

As Adam Andrzejewski writes for Forbes, “the federal government has become one never-ending gun show.”

While Americans have to jump through an increasing number of hoops in order to own a gun, federal agencies have been placing orders for hundreds of millions of rounds of hollow point bullets and military gear.

For example, the IRS has stockpiled 4,500 guns and five million rounds of ammunition in recent years, including 621 shotguns, 539 long-barrel rifles and 15 submachine guns.

The Veterans Administration purchased 11 million rounds of ammunition (equivalent to 2,800 rounds for each of their officers), along with camouflage uniforms, riot helmets and shields, specialized image enhancement devices and tactical lighting.

The Department of Health and Human Services acquired 4 million rounds of ammunition, in addition to 1,300 guns, including five submachine guns and 189 automatic firearms for its Office of Inspector General.

According to an in-depth report on “The Militarization of the U.S. Executive Agencies,” the Social Security Administration secured 800,000 rounds of ammunition for their special agents, as well as armor and guns.

The Environmental Protection Agency owns 600 guns. The Smithsonian now employs 620-armed “special agents.”

Even agencies such as Amtrak and NASA have their own SWAT teams.

Ask yourselves: why are government agencies being turned into military outposts?

What’s with the buildup of SWAT teams within non-security-related federal agencies? Even the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Education Department have their own SWAT teams. Most of those officers are under the command of either the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Justice.

Why does the Department of Agriculture need .40 caliber semiautomatic submachine guns and hollow point bullets? For that matter, why do its agents need ballistic vests and body armor?

For that matter, why do IRS agents need AR-15 rifles?

Why do local police need armored personnel carriers with gun ports, compact submachine guns with 30-round magazines, precision battlefield sniper rifles, and military-grade assault-style rifles and carbines?

Why is the federal government distributing obscene amounts of military equipment, weapons and ammunition to police departments around the country?

Why is the military partnering with local police to conduct training drills around the country? And what exactly are they training for? The public has been disallowed from obtaining any information about the purpose of these realistic urban training drills, other than that they might be loud and to not be alarmed.

We should be alarmed.

As James Madison warned, “We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.”

Unfortunately, we’re long past the first experiment on our freedoms, and merely taking alarm over this build-up of military might will no longer suffice.

Nothing about this de facto army of bureaucratic, administrative, non-military, paper-pushing, non-traditional law enforcement agencies is necessary for national security.

Moreover, while these weaponized, militarized, civilian forces which are armed with military-style guns, ammunition and equipment; trained in military tactics; and authorized to make arrests and use deadly force—may look and act like the military, they are not the military.

Rather, they are foot soldiers of the police state’s standing army, and they are growing in number at an alarming rate.

This standing army—a.k.a. a national police force—vested with the power to completely disregard the Constitution and rule by force is exactly what America’s founders feared, and its danger cannot be overstated or ignored.

This is exactly what martial law looks like—when a government disregards constitutional freedoms and imposes its will through military force, only this is martial law without any government body having to declare it: Battlefield tactics. Militarized police. Riot and camouflage gear. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Drones. Less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Concussion grenades. Intimidation tactics. Brute force. Laws conveniently discarded when it suits the government’s purpose.

The militarization of America’s police forces in recent decades, which has gone hand in hand with the militarization of America’s bureaucratic agencies, has merely sped up the timeline by which the nation is transformed into an authoritarian regime.

Now we find ourselves struggling to retain some semblance of freedom in the face of administrative, police and law enforcement agencies that look and act like the military with little to no regard for the Fourth Amendment, laws such as the NDAA that allow the military to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens, and military drills that acclimate the American people to the sight of armored tanks in the streets, military encampments in cities, and combat aircraft patrolling overhead.

This quasi-state of martial law has been helped along by government policies and court rulings that have made it easier for the police to shoot unarmed citizens, for law enforcement agencies to seize cash and other valuable private property under the guise of asset forfeiture, for military weapons and tactics to be deployed on American soil, for government agencies to carry out round-the-clock surveillance, for legislatures to render otherwise lawful activities as extremist if they appear to be anti-government, for profit-driven private prisons to lock up greater numbers of Americans, for homes to be raided and searched under the pretext of national security, for American citizens to be labeled terrorists and stripped of their rights merely on the say-so of a government bureaucrat, and for pre-crime tactics to be adopted nationwide that strip Americans of the right to be assumed innocent until proven guilty and creates a suspect society in which we are all guilty until proven otherwise.

Don’t delude yourself into believing that this thinly-veiled exercise in martial law is anything other than an attempt to bulldoze what remains of the Constitution and reinforce the iron-fisted rule of the police state.

This is no longer about partisan politics or civil unrest or even authoritarian impulses.

This is a turning point.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, we are sliding fast down a slippery slope to a Constitution-free America.

If we are to have any hope of salvaging what’s left of our battered freedoms, we’d do well to start by disarming the IRS and the rest of the federal and state bureaucratic agencies, de-militarizing domestic police forces, and dismantling the police state’s standing army.

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His most recent books are the best-selling Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the award-winning A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, and a debut dystopian fiction novel, The Erik Blair Diaries. Whitehead can be contacted at staff@rutherford.org. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

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Paint me surprised by this Some Red Hot Gospel there! Some Scary thoughts

Paint me surprised by this!

When a 28-year-old person identifying as transgender shot up a Tennessee school in March, killing three children and three adults, the usual grim afterlife of tragedy was underlined by an odd note: One by one, media outlets rushed to apologize for “misgendering” the shooter, who, they explained, had been born female but had recently begun identifying as male.

How to make sense of such a statement? And what to do when a newspaper headline tells you about a “trans woman left sobbing in JFK Airport after TSA agent hit her testicles”? Appealing to reason hardly helps, as J.K. Rowling and others learned the hard way when trying to ask simple questions such as how one might define sex if not according to the chromosomes rooted in literally every cell of our bodies. Instead, anyone wishing to find his way through the thicket of American public discourse these days should start by embracing one simple and terrifying idea: The barbarians are at the gates.

I mean this almost literally. Everywhere you turn these days, pagans are afoot, busily hacking away at the Christian and Jewish foundations of American life and replacing them with a cosmology that would have been absolutely coherent to followers of, say, Voltumna, the Etruscan earth god, or to those who worshipped the Celt tribal protector Toutatis.

If you think the above paragraph is a little bit overblown, consider the numbers. In 1990, scholars from Trinity College set out to learn just how many of their fellow Americans practiced some form of pagan religion. The numbers were unsurprisingly small: about 8,000, or enough to pack your average Journey reunion concert. But the researchers asked again in 2008, and this time, 340,000 Americans said yes to paganism. A decade later, the Pew survey posed the same question, and, if it is to believed, there are now about 1.5 million Americans professing an array of pagan persuasions, from Wicca to the Viking lore, making paganism one of the nation’s fastest-growing persuasions. So fast-growing, in fact, that my colleague Maggie Phillips recently reported in Tablet magazine about the thriving, and officially recognized, pagan faith groups within the U.S. Army. “What’s important now,” one of its leaders, Sergeant Drake Sholar, told Phillips, “is showing religious respect and understanding across the board as Norse Pagans, or Heathens, return to a distinguishable religious practice.”

Amen, selah. But as we respect and understand those who profess paganism outright and sincerely, we should worry about those—many more of them—who go by other names and profess different affinities yet whose worldview is consistently, coherently, and crushingly pagan. There are millions more heathens who would shudder to be called such, yet who offer a vision of a perfectly pagan American future. It behooves us, then, to reckon with the paganism in our midst.

And that, it turns out, is not an easy task, mainly because “pagan” is somewhat of a loaded term. If you have an appetite for good origin stories, you might as well place the birth of the notion with St. Augustine in the fifth century C.E. Pressed to explain to his readers why Rome had been sacked by the Visigoths so shortly after embracing Christianity, Augustine wrote his famous treatise, The City of God. Its full title? De civitate Dei contra paganos, or The City of God Against the Pagans. The latter, he opined elsewhere, had delivered unto mankind nothing but a “hissing cauldron of lusts” that have so spoiled our souls and driven us so far from God that the downfall was imminent. The moral stain of Augustine’s description stuck, and it often colors both our historical vision and the observation that “pagan” describes a dizzying array of peoples and beliefs—from the Slavic tribes who believed that the sky god Perun had beget all other deities that control nature to the Germanic peoples and their complex mythology of giants, dwarves, elves, and dragons, familiar to us from Wagner’s operas.

Leaving permutations and particularities to the pedants, though, it’s quite possible to observe paganism as one sweeping vista and find common themes and threads that haunt us still. Let us begin: Just what do pagans believe?

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The answer, while wonderfully complex, may be distilled to the following principle: Nothing is true, everything is permitted. These were the last words, allegedly, of Hasan i-Sabbah—the ninth-century Arab warlord whose group, the Hash’shashin, gave us the English word “assassins.” And his dictum perfectly captures the soul of paganism, illuminated by the idea that no fixed system of belief or set of solid convictions ought to constrain us as we stumble our way through life.

To the pagans, change is the only real constant. Just consider the heathens of old: Believing, as they did, in the radical duality of body and spirit, they enjoyed watching their gods breathe the latter into a wide array of incarnations. To please himself or trick his followers, a god could become a swan or a stone, manifest himself as a river or adopt whatever shape suited his schemes. Ovid, the greatest of Pagan poets, captured this logic perfectly when he began his Metamorphoses with a simple declaration of his intentions: In nova fert animus mutates dicere formas corpora, or, “I am about to speak of forms changing into new entities.” This was not understood as fickle behavior by the gods’ cheerful followers. To the contrary. With no dogma to uphold, the sole job of deities was simply to be themselves. And the more solipsistic a deity chose to be, the better. Nothing, after all, radiates inimitable individuality more than marching to the beat of your own drum and no other.

If that’s your understanding of the gods, or whatever you’d like to call the hidden forces that arrange the known universe, how should you behave? Again, lacking a prescribed credo passed down from generation to generation, pagans began answering this question by casting off the tyranny of fixity. The gods are precarious and ever-changing? Let us follow their example! We should sanctify each sharp transformation in our behaviors and beliefs not as collective madness but as a sign of the wisdom of growth.

Still, change alone does not a belief system make, and pagans, despite differences galore, unite by providing similar answers to three seminal questions: what to do about strangers, how to think about nature, and how to please the gods.

First, the question of difference. What to do with those who are not like us? Easy enough, argued the pagans: Observe any group of humans, no matter how small, and you’ll see it striving to differentiate itself from the group next door. The nomadic Bedouins expressed this idea neatly in an idiom: me and my brothers against our cousins, us and our cousins against our neighbors. Tell children at summer camp that a color war’s afoot, and pretty soon Team Red is likely to develop healthy disdain for Team Blue. Rather than seek to transcend this basic instinct, the pagans sanctified it: It wasn’t for nothing that the Slavs, for example, named their top god Perun, an Indo-European word meaning to strike and splinter, and portrayed him as swinging a mighty axe and engaging in ongoing battles with his fellow divines.

The same spirit, alas, is alive and well among our newest pagans: For them, tribal warfare isn’t just a way of life—it’s a system of divination, with power and privilege waxing and waning to reveal who is pure and worthy and who evil and benighted.

Consider, for example, intersectionality, the academic doctrine that is as close as contemporary paganism gets to a formalized gospel. Its ideas, like most of academia’s excretions these days, aren’t worth studying in any real depth, but the key concept is simple. We each have several components to our identity—sometimes referred to, in the flowery language of assistant professors, as “vectors of oppression and privilege”—and their interplay determines the discrimination we suffer or the violence we may be tempted to wield against others. This means that each introspection is nothing more than an invitation to a fight with those who have more power, real or imagined, than you.

This is what gave Lori Lightfoot, Chicago’s grotesquely inept mayor, the temerity to avoid blaming her recent defeat on, say, the fact that she had called on her city to defund the police, then watched crime soar—with more than 800 murders in 2021 alone, the highest rate in nearly 30 years—and then begged the federal government to help her out of the predictable mess she created. No, she had been defeated for being “a black woman.” For a pagan, tribal identity isn’t the beginning of the conversation; it’s the end, an affiliation beyond which lies nothing but battle for dominance.

Still, merely affirming their own and rejecting others and spending their days trying to decipher who belongs to which group is hardly the sort of theological engine that can power faith for long. Next, then, the pagans turn their lonely eyes toward nature, asking themselves how to understand the creations in their midst. Here, too, a relatively straight forward answer presents itself immediately: If the boundaries between the human world, the natural world, and the divine world aren’t clearly defined—if Zeus, say, can transform himself into a beautiful white bull so that he may rape Princess Europa—then nature should be revered as the repository of divine revelation and rebirth. The Roman historian Tacitus, for example, tells us that the ancient Germanic tribes often worshipped in groves rather than temples. It’s easy to figure out why: Observe the oak in winter, and it stands, barren and leafless, a pillar of death. Visit it some weeks later, when spring is in full bloom, and you see it flourish again. The oak, like the gods, is change embodied, and therefore deserving of worship.

Scan the modern pagan cosmology, and you’ll see much that would have made those ancient Germanic cultists nod in recognition. Consider the eco-protestor who, last year, stormed the court just before Roger Federer’s last career tennis match and set his own arms on fire to protest climate change. Or the Brit who, shortly thereafter, poured human feces on a statue to call attention to environmental causes. Or the lunatics from Just Stop Oil, a radical environmentalist group, who slung soup on Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Just like the Scandinavian pagans who offered precious gifts to appease the Askafroa, the spirit of the Ash Tree, a vengeful entity that demanded sacrifice lest it wreak havoc, many of today’s green activists seem much more intent on appeasing an angry god than solving a scientific conundrum. And the scientists themselves aren’t helping much either: In 2018, for example, one prominent Columbia University climate scientist took to Scientific American to write that she refuses to debate…climate science. “Once you put established facts about the world up for argument, you’ve already lost,” she wrote, capturing the opposite, more or less, of the scientific method, which is little more than a constant and unfettered argument about established facts, new evidence, and the possible correlations or contradictions therein.

But if pagans have always found the questions of how to treat others and how to live in nature relatively uncomplicated, the third question—that of how to please the gods—is infinitely more shaded. What do the gods want? Study pagan mythologies and you’ll emerge none the wiser, in part because the gods, like their human worshippers, seem to consist of little more than appetites and caprices. But while they may not be understood, they have to be appeased—and this left classical pagans with a question of a more practical order, namely what might they possess that the all-powerful deities could possibly want.

Gold, silver, and other dear things were frequently the answer, but rarely exclusively: Being the creators of the natural world, after all, the gods could hardly care that much about things that they can easily forge themselves, ex nihilo, by virtue of their divine will. And so the pagans scanned the horizon for something truly precious and exquisite, something whose sacrifice would be an unmistakable sign of devotion. And, across time and across cultures, they alighted on exactly the same thing: kids.

At once the embodiment of innocence and the object of our deepest and most sincere emotions, children, the most vulnerable of mortals, were the ultimate offering to the gods—proof that the pagan believer was so certain in his belief that he would offer up his own offspring to show the gods the strength of his faith, appeasing them and avoiding potential punishment. So prevalent among the heathens of antiquity was the practice of child sacrifice that the Torah issued a strongly worded prohibition against it, in Leviticus 18:21: “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek.”

Child sacrifice, alas, is alive and well in America these days, too. We may not, like the Vikings, toss our young into wells as offerings to the heavens, but turn over every rock in our craggy contemporary political landscape and you’ll find some pagan policy offering up the well-being of children to the gods of virtue. In March 2020, to choose one stinging example, Sweden bucked the global trend and responded to Covid-19 by keeping schools open. The results of this experiment were available shortly thereafter: Zero dead kids, almost zero kids sick, and very little, if any, risk to teachers. By January 2021, a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention affirmed that Covid rates in schools that had reopened were 37 percent lower than the rates in the same communities at large. The Biden administration largely ignored this evidence; it took some liberal cities such as New York a full 18 months to reopen their schools.

The results: dramatic upticks in juvenile mental-health crises, sharp declines in basic academic proficiency and just about every other metric of human misery visited on our children. A rational society, to say nothing about one guided by traditional values, would have curbed this suffering long before it blossomed so terribly; the pagans instead composed a fanciful narrative of what constitutes righteous behavior and then forced it on their children, whose pain was then explained away as a necessary evil if one wanted the forces of science to vanquish the darkness and cleanse the soul. When Anthony Fauci said, “I am the science,” he couldn’t have sounded more like the mighty Perun had he worn a cape and a crown.

Maybe you’re a kinder person than I, one more inclined than I am to give fellow human beings the benefit of the doubt. Pandemics are stressful times, and even the most well-meaning public health officials may be forgiven their missteps when the entire world is crackling. No sooner had the wrath of Covid subsided, though, than our pagan witch doctors jumped in with another way to sacrifice the well-being of the young on the altar of ideological convictions. According to a recent Reuters report, for example, 15,172 Americans ages six to 17 were diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2017; by 2021, that number nearly tripled. How to explain this stratospheric rise? Have doctors gotten better at detecting this particular medical condition? Has the science simply improved?

A 2018 study by Lisa Littman, assistant professor of behavioral sciences at Brown, addressed this very question. Teens, Dr. Littman concluded after studying 256 subjects, were highly susceptible to what she called “rapid-onset gender dysphoria.” When spending time, particularly online, with groups of people who favorably discussed the idea of being transgender, teens were much more likely to become gender dysphoric, a phenomenon Dr. Littman described as “peer contagion.”

The paper was accepted by PLOS One, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, but after transgender activists protested, the article was removed, and a Brown dean explained that censorship had been necessary because Dr. Littman’s findings “invalidate the perspectives” of the transgender community. Meanwhile, the Reuters report also confirmed that the past four years have seen a doubling of the rates of both hormone therapy and puberty blockers prescribed to teens. This uptick, coupled with school policies that now actively seek to exclude parents from conversations about their child’s gender identity, has led lawmakers in 27 states to draft 100 bills to halt so-called gender-reaffirming care.

Meanwhile, the intellectual-industrial complex continues to push its pagan convictions. The University of Pennsylvania recently announced an anonymous $2 million gift that would allow it to hire Alok Vaid-Menon, a self-identified “non-binary transfeminine person,” as a scholar in residence. Vaid-Menon is the author of Beyond the Gender Binary, a children’s book encouraging young readers to understand that “man” and “woman” are but two of an infinity of gender-related options.

But it’s not merely the hotly debated issues in the center of our cultural skirmishes that point to the pagan propensity for child sacrifice; it’s the pagan style of politics itself. A study published in 2022 and led by Columbia epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Gimbrone examined the longitudinal data collected by the Monitoring the Future project, which asks high-school students a wide array of questions about attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Dr. Gimbrone’s findings were alarming: Before 2012, there had been no differences between boys and girls, and none between self-identified conservatives and liberals, when it came to mental health. Then, depression scores began to soar for liberal girls and rise considerably for liberal boys. Conservative children registered a far less significant spike. Put crudely, the obsessive and relentless pagan emphasis on gender, ideology, and other divisions was literally driving kids crazy.

Writing about the roles schools played in destabilizing the mental well-being of children, NYU psychologist Jonathan Haidt and journalist Greg Lukianoff argued that our academic institutions were practicing “reverse CBT.” While Cognitive Behavioral Therapy teaches its adherents to catch catastrophic thoughts before they turn into full-fledged panics, schools were now teaching children to see the world in black and white, perceive opposing viewpoints as harmful, and surrender to their worst fears.

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What, then, are we to do when confronted with so much lunacy? Three urgent steps come to mind.

First, let us realize that all of the above-mentioned permutations are far from random. They’re not aberrations to be gawked at separately. They’re part of a cohesive belief system, paganism, that is gripping those who have rejected monotheistic ethics and mores. This recognition is particularly important because the pagans themselves vehemently deny it. They print stickers with slogans like “believe the science,” not realizing that they have just admitted, however tacitly, that theirs isn’t a logical and rational product of the Enlightenment but a religious system like any other, complete with its quirks and its zealotry. Only when it is understood as such can it be confronted; only if we deny the pagans the right to don a white lab coat or a tie and claim impartiality can we provide a sober accounting of their actions.

Second, we must understand that the good, old-fashioned faith traditions that the pagans so often reject as oppressive, patriarchal, racist, misogynistic, or any number of other trendy terms have seen it all before. Judaism has been facing down pagans for millennia now and answering each of their deathly dicta with sound, humanistic alternatives. Here’s a taste: We were all, the Bible tells us, created in God’s image, and even though God elected one people to preserve and protect his Torah, the arc of history bends toward togetherness. God’s house, Isaiah wisely reports, “shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” In other words, while people are different, and while their differences are meaningful and instrumental in shaping their unique experiences, they also form the bridge that could one day lead to a common house of prayer. The biblical story begins and ends with a universalist message; its meaty middle, the story of the chosen people and their travails, is a crucial reminder that cultivating our own tribal beliefs and rituals is, ultimately, an exercise in self-awareness without which we can never truly empathize with anyone anywhere. Know thyself so you may know others—as credos go, this one is unimprovable and so much more compassionate than the pagan call for perpetual warfare.

Which leads us to step three, the most urgent yet most difficult one: Save your children by shielding them from an ideology that perpetually seeks ways to harm them; root them instead in traditions that nurture them and give them dignity, hope, and a future. At the very least, this means refusing to enlist your children in political crusades, no matter how just they may appear. Resist hagiographical books about activists and rabble-rousers. Realize that taking your kids to a march or a demonstration doesn’t make them better citizens—as if civic duty can be learned by osmosis—but merely ladens them with the anxiety of ideology, a burden no child should ever have to bear. If you can, rescue them from pagan schools as well, or, at least, teach them that there are better options.

When pagans waving the banner of diversity, equity, and inclusion insist that we judge others by the color of their skin, not the content of their character, tell your children that the Hebrew prophets offered a much more transformational vision of racial justice, one that inspired everyone from Frederick Douglass to Martin Luther King Jr. When pagans calling themselves environmentalists tell your children to worship the earth, introduce them to the Talmud for a superior attitude that is as mindful of production as it is of conservation. When pagans quarrel and cancel, teach your children the value of building real communities, and of the tried-and-true blueprints for real human happiness given to us by our faith traditions.

If we do that, we may very well discover that history, God bless, always repeats itself: The heathens ululate and then fold, subdued by the demonstrable advantages of better faith traditions. We’re long overdue for another cycle of pagan defeat; let’s do our best to bring it on soonest.

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Some Scary thoughts War You have to be kidding, right!?!

Sounds to me that a REAL War is coming soon! MIGHTY MARCH US holds world’s BIGGEST elephant walk with 4,000 airmen and 80 warplanes in titanic show of strength against Putin & Xi Taryn Pedler

THE United States held the world’s biggest “elephant walk” in a spectacular show of strength to Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.

More than 4,000 airmen shared the runway with 80 aircrafts in single file, nose-to-tail take-off positions, which is said to resemble elephants walking.

The United States held the worlds biggest 'elephant walk' as a display of strength to Putin and Xi

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The United States held the worlds biggest ‘elephant walk’ as a display of strength to Putin and XiCredit: SWNS
80 warplanes shared the runway in the incredible demonstration

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80 warplanes shared the runway in the incredible demonstrationCredit: SWNS
The scenes at Sheppard Air Force Base highlighted the importance of Air Force training and partnerships with allies

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The scenes at Sheppard Air Force Base highlighted the importance of Air Force training and partnerships with alliesCredit: SWNS
The event was planned as a message to friends and competitors that the U.S. and its allies remain committed to the legacy of unequalled training

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The event was planned as a message to friends and competitors that the U.S. and its allies remain committed to the legacy of unequalled trainingCredit: SWNS

The incredible scenes at Sheppard Air Force Base, in Wichita County, Texas, highlighted the importance of Air Force training and partnerships with allies.

“The key to airpower is exceptional Airmen, and the key to exceptional Airmen is exceptional training,” said General Lyle K Drew.

“That’s what we do here at Sheppard, and this elephant walk was our message to the world that the U.S. and its international partners remain committed to delivering the best-trained Airmen in the world,” he added.

It comes as America sailed a massive warship through the Taiwan Strait in a display of power towards China.

The US Navy described the journey as a “routine transit”, which took place only days after China stopped it’s massive drills around Taiwan.

And US nuclear B-52 bombers were flanked by NATO fighters in V-formation to deliver a similar message to Vladimir Putin last month.

The warning to the tyrant came as jets intercepted a pair of the bombers over the Baltic.

The US demonstrated another ‘elephant walk’ back in December 2020 when a fleet of 30 fighter jets showcased their combat readiness.

I SURE HOPE THAT I AM WRONG ABOUT THIS!!!!!!!!! Grumpy