Reflecting back on to interesting days in history, Otto von Bismarck, a man known as the Iron Chancellor passed away July 30th, 1898.
von Bismarck was the central name behind the unification of the German states into the empire of its time. But he was dismissed by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1890.
One of the weird factoids that we had overlooked about the dismissal was the man who did the dismissing; Kaiser Wilhelm II.
KWII was born with a “tough poker hand”, having a birth that gave him physical issues (palsy) for the rest of his life. Most notably; a deformed arm. There were arguments made that he was treated differently because of this, being viewed as a black sheep of sorts.
(I had read a story about how he had gotten violent with a family member when he was young. KWII was immensely frustrated with other people and the keyboard doctor prognosis would point at him having emotional/mental issues).
Many of these things would affect him as he got older, making it difficult to interact with other people in their aristocratic world.
It shaped his decision making and how he dealt with those around him.
But I strongly doubt that he would have been able to wildly successful in our lifetime, considering he had a series of disabilities that plagued him. The people in our society make a campaign of the disabled and this is a great disservice.
KWII would have been held back by the pity party instead of allowed to discover his talents or natural abilities. He would have been put into a system or put into a PR/marketing babysitting arrangement. (Note: I know of this happening from people I know that have dealt with “advocates” and local agencies).
I think of this to be a tragedy, that we don’t let let the disabled find what they are good at. Along with being pawns to make people feel better about themselves.
I am not 100% sure of his claims but it is worth digging into. Feel free to read into various viewpoints. I know that Greenwald has detractors, but I wish that Congress would also dig into some of these events, instead of learning of it from articles.
The narrative that domestic anti-government extremism is the greatest threat to U.S. national security — the official position of the U.S. security state and the Biden administration — received its most potent boost in October 2020, less than one month before the 2020 presidential election. That was when the F.B.I. and Michigan state officials announced the arrest of thirteen people on terrorism, conspiracy and weapons charges, with six of them accused of participating in a plot to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who had been a particular target of criticism from President Trump for her advocacy for harsh COVID lockdown measures.
The headlines that followed were dramatic and fear-inducing: “F.B.I. Says Michigan Anti-Government Group Plotted to Kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer,” announcedThe New York Times. That same night, ABC Newsbegan its broadcast this way: “Tonight, we take you into a hidden world, a place authorities say gave birth to a violent domestic terror plot in Michigan — foiled by the FBI.”
Democrats and liberal journalists instantly seized on this storyline to spin a pre-election theme that was as extreme as it was predictable. Gov. Whitmer herself blamed Trump, claiming that the plotters “heard the president’s words not as a rebuke but as a rallying cry — as a call to action.” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) claimed that “the president is a deranged lunatic and he’s inspired white supremacists to violence, the latest of which was a plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer,” adding: “these groups have attempted to KILL many of us in recent years. They are following Trump’s lead.” Vox’s paid television-watcher and video-manipulator, Aaron Rupar, drew this inference: “Trump hasn’t commended the FBI for breaking up Whitmer kidnapping/murder plot because as always he doesn’t want to denounce his base.” Michael Moore called for Trump’s arrest for having incited the kidnapping plot against Gov. Whitmer. One viral tweet from a popular Democratic Party activist similarly declared: “Trump should be arrested for this plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer. There’s no doubt he inspired this terrorism.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo instantly declared it to be a terrorist attack on America: “We must condemn and call out the cowardly plot against Governor Whitmer for what it is: Domestic terrorism.” MSNBC’s social media star Kyle Griffin cast it as a coup attempt: “The FBI thwarted what they described as a plot to violently overthrow the government and kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.” CNN’s Jim Sciutto pronounced it “deeply alarming.”
A lengthy CNN article — dressed up as an investigative exposé that was little more than stenography of FBI messaging disseminated from behind a shield of anonymity — purported in the headline to take the reader “Inside the plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer.” It claimed that it all began when angry discussions about COVID restrictions “spiraled into a terrorism plot, officials say, with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer the target of a kidnapping scheme.” CNN heralded the FBI’s use of informants and agents to break up the plot but depicted them as nothing more than passive bystanders reporting what the domestic terrorists were plotting:
The Watchmen had been flagged to the FBI in March, and one of its members was now an informant. That informant, others on the inside, as well as undercover operatives and recordings, allowed the bureau to monitor what was happening from then on.
The article never once hinted at let alone described the highly active role of these informants and agents themselves in encouraging and designing the plot. Instead, it depicted these anti-government activists as leading one another — on their own — to commit what CNN called “treason in a quaint town.” The more honest headline for this CNN article would have been: “Inside the FBI’s tale of the plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer.” But since CNN never questions the FBI — they employ their top agents and operatives once they leave the bureau in order to disseminate their propaganda — this is what the country got from The Most Trusted Name in News:
Gov. Whitmer herself attempted to prolong the news cycle as much as possible, all but declaring herself off-limits from criticism by equating any critiques of her governance with incitement to terrorism. Appearing on Meet the Press two Sundays after the plot was revealed, Whitmer said it was “incredibly disturbing that the president of the United States—10 days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial, and execute me, 10 days after that was uncovered—the president is at it again, and inspiring, and incentivizing, and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism.”
Yet from the start, there were ample and potent reasons to distrust the FBI’s version of events. To begin with, FBI press releases are typically filled with lies, yet media outlets — due to some combination of excessive gullibility, an inability to learn lessons, or a desire to be deceived — continue to treat them as Gospel. For another, the majority of “terror plots” the FBI claimed to detect and break up during the first War on Terror were, in fact, plots manufactured, funded and driven by the FBI itself.
Indeed, the FBI has previously acknowledged that its own powers and budget depend on keeping Americans in fear of such attacks. Former FBI Assistant Director Thomas Fuentes, in a documentary called “The Newberg Sting” about a 2009 FBI arrest of four men on terrorism charges, uttered this extremely candid admission:
If you’re submitting budget proposals for a law enforcement agency, for an intelligence agency, you’re not going to submit the proposal that “We won the war on terror and everything’s great,” cuz the first thing that’s gonna happen is your budget’s gonna be cut in half. You know, it’s my opposite of Jesse Jackson’s ‘Keep Hope Alive’—it’s ‘Keep Fear Alive.’ Keep it alive.
In the Whitmer kidnapping case, the FBI’s own affidavit in support of the charges acknowledged the involvement in the plot of both informants and undercover FBI agents “over several months.”
In sum, there was no way to avoid suspicions about the FBI’s crucial role in a plot like this absent extreme ignorance about the bureau’s behavior over the last two decades or an intentional desire to sow fear about right-wing extremists attacking Democratic Party officials one month before the 2020 presidential election. In fact, the signs of FBI involvement were there from the start for those who — unlike CNN — wanted to know the truth.
A report from the Detroit Free Press published just two days after CNN’s FBI stenography noted that the FBI agents were incapable of identifying any specifics of this supposed plot, adding that defense attorneys were adamant that those accused were merely engaged in idle chatter, boasting that they were never really serious about following through. Then the paper added that, for defense lawyers, “it remains to be seen what roles the undercover informants and FBI agents played in the case, and whether they pushed the others into carrying out the plan.” Meanwhile, an actually independent journalist, Michael Tracey, had no trouble identifying the telltale signs of FBI orchestration that were so apparent countless times during the first War on Terror. Three days before the CNN story, he wrote:
But the value of depicting Trump as having incited a frightening terrorist attack just weeks before the election, and the zeal to feed the broader narrative pushed by the U.S. security state that anti-government extremism is America’s greatest national security threat, drowned out any skepticism. The storyline was clear and unquestioned: Trump was inciting ISIS-like terrorism on U.S. soil and right-wing extremists, who would fester even after Trump was done, were the primary menace that requires new domestic powers and larger budgets in order to defeat.
Yet just as happened with so many other narratives — from the origins of COVID to Hunter Biden’s corrupt use of his ties to his father — Trump’s defeat means the media is now willing to reconsider some of the propaganda that was pushed in the lead-up to the election. An excellent piece of investigative journalism published by BuzzFeed on Tuesday documents that, far from being passive observers of the plot, FBI informants and agents were the key drivers of it:
An examination of the case by BuzzFeed News also reveals that some of those informants, acting under the direction of the FBI, played a far larger role than has previously been reported. Working in secret, they did more than just passively observe and report on the actions of the suspects. Instead, they had a hand in nearly every aspect of the alleged plot, starting with its inception. The extent of their involvement raises questions as to whether there would have even been a conspiracy without them.
So central to this plot were those acting at the behest of the FBI that many of the accused plotters only met each other because of meetings arranged at the direction of the FBI, who targeted them based on social media postings and other political activities that suggested anti-government and anti-Whitmer sentiments which could be exploited:
A longtime government informant from Wisconsin, for example, helped organize a series of meetings around the country where many of the alleged plotters first met one another and the earliest notions of a plan took root, some of those people say. The Wisconsin informant even paid for some hotel rooms and food as an incentive to get people to come.
One of the FBI’s informants, a former Iraq War soldier, “became so deeply enmeshed in a Michigan militant group that he rose to become its second-in-command.” With his leadership role in one of the key groups, and all while acting under the direction of the FBI, he was “encouraging members to collaborate with other potential suspects and paying for their transportation to meetings.” Indeed, he even “prodded the alleged mastermind of the kidnapping plot to advance his plan, then baited the trap that led to the arrest.”
A review of not only the BuzzFeed reporting but also the underlying court documents leaves little doubt that the primary impetus for this plot came over and over from the FBI. On July 12, a lawyer for one of the defendants filed a motion asking the court to compel the FBI to turn over all chats which their agents and informants involving the plot. He did so on the ground that the few chats they had obtained themselves — from their own clients — repeatedly show the FBI pushing and prodding its agents over and over to lure defendants into more meetings, to join in “recon” exercises, and to take as many steps as possible toward the plot.
While it was clear from the start that there were FBI informants and agents in the middle of all of this, it turns out that at least half of those involved were acting on FBI orders: twelve informants and agents. As BuzzFeed says, those acting at the behest of the FBI “had a hand in nearly every aspect of the alleged plot, starting with its inception.” All of that, concluded the reporters, “raises questions as to whether there would have even been a conspiracy without them.”
But this evidence does not so much raise that question as much as it answers it. The idea of kidnapping Gov. Whitmer came from the FBI. It was a plot designed by the agency, and they then went on the hunt to target people they believed they could manipulate into joining their plot — either people were easily manipulated due to psychological weakness, financial vulnerability, and/or their strongly held political views. In sum, the FBI devised this plot, was the primary organizer of it, funded it, purposely directed their targets to pose for incriminating pictures that they then released to the press, and then heaped praise on themselves for stopping what they themselves had created.
For anyone covering the FBI during the first War on Terror, none of this is new. So many of the supposed “terror plots” the FBI purported to disrupt over the last twenty years were — just like the Michigan plot — ones that were created and driven by, and would not have happened without, the FBI’s own planning, funding and direction.
Just as they are doing now, the FBI used those plots to elevate fear levels and justify more domestic surveillance power and funding for the U.S. security state. While the targets then were typically young American Muslims with anti-government views rather than young right-wing white men with anti-government views, the tactics were identical.
The examples are far too numerous to count. As one illustrative example, in 2015, the FBI flamboyantly praised itself for arresting three Brooklyn men on charges of “attempt and conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq.” Then, as now, outlets such as The New York Timespromoted the FBI’s maximalist-fear-mongering version of events: “3 Brooklyn Men Accused of Plot to Aid ISIS’ Fight,” blared the headline.
But even that largely pro-FBI Times article raised the question of whether this plot was real or manufactured by the bureau:
The case against the three men relies in part on a confidential informant paid by the government, court documents show. Defense lawyers have criticized the government’s use of informers in similar cases, saying they may lure targets into making extreme plans or statements. In some cases, the threat has turned out to be overstated.
And the FBI itself admitted that the “threats of violence” from the three arrested — such as killing President Obama — “had an ‘aspirational’ quality to them, with no indication that the suspects were close to staging an attack, large or small.” The Times article also noted that the FBI observed that “in online postings, the two younger men seem to be searching for meaning in their lives,” adding that “as they were led into court, the youthfulness of Mr. Juraboev and Mr. Saidakhmetov was striking.”
Analyzing all the evidence in this case, my then-colleague at The Intercept Murtaza Hussain documented “the integral role a paid informant appears to have played in generating the charges against the men, and helping turn a fantastical ‘plot’ into something even remotely tangible.” Indeed, he wrote, “none of the three men was in any condition to travel or support the Islamic State, without help from the FBI informant.” It was only when the FBI sent an older Muslim man to gain their trust — acting as an FBI informant and being paid for his services — did anything resembling a crime start to form. The paid FBI informant encouraged the young men to pursue the plan more concretely, and only then did they begin agreeing with the informant’s proposed plot. The informant befriended them, moved in with them, and spent months “convincing both of them that he intended to travel to Syria and join Islamic State.”
Just as was true in the Michigan case, Hussain wrote about this arrest: “Crucially, it appears that only after the introduction of the informant did any actual arrangements to commit a criminal act come into existence.” In sum, “the covert informant under the direction of the FBI” — which employs teams of psychologists and other mental health professions who are experts in how to manipulate people’s thinking — “evidently helped encourage the two toward terrorism over the course of these months.”
I have also covered countless other FBI plots over the years where all the same attributes were present. After the 2015 “ISIS arrest,” I wrote an article compiling how often the FBI was doing this and asked this question in the headline: “Why Does the FBI Have to Manufacture its Own Plots if Terrorism and ISIS Are Such Grave Threats?,” noting that the bureau’s behavior “is akin to having the DEA constantly warn of the severe threat posed by drug addiction while it simultaneously uses pushers on its payroll to deliberately get people hooked on drugs so that they can arrest the addicts they’ve created and thus justify their own warnings and budgets.”
Months before the 2015 ISIS arrests, the FBI issued a press release praising itself for arresting “a Cincinnati-area man for a plot to attack the U.S. Capitol and kill government officials.” But as I reported, the scary terrorist was “20-year-old Christopher Cornell, [who] is unemployed, lives at home, spends most of his time playing video games in his bedroom, still addresses his mother as ‘Mommy’ and regards his cat as his best friend; he was described as ‘a typical student’ and ‘quiet but not overly reserved’ by the principal of the local high school he graduated in 2012.”
Then House Speaker John Boehner immediately seized on that arrest to warn Americans to be afraid: “We live in a dangerous country, and we get reminded every week of the dangers that are out there.” Boehner also told Americans they should be grateful for domestic surveillance and not try to curb it: the Speaker claimed that “the National Security Agency’s snooping powers helped stop a plot to attack the Capitol and that his colleagues need to keep that in mind as they debate whether to renew the law that allows the government to collect bulk information from its citizens.” Yet the only way Cornell got close to any crimes was because the FBI informant began suggesting to him that he act on his rage against U.S. officials by attacking the Capitol.
One of the most egregious cases I covered was the 2011 arrest of James Cromitie, an African-American convert to Islam who the FBI attempted to convince — over the course of eight months — to join a terror plot, only for him to adamantly refuse over and over. Only once they dangled a payment of $250,000 in front of his nose right after the impoverished American had lost his job did he agree to join, and then the FBI swooped in, arrested him, and touted their heroic efforts in stopping a terrorist plot.
The U.S. federal judge who sentenced Cromitie to decades in prison, Colleen McMahon, said she did so only because the law of “entrapment” is so narrow that it is virtually impossible for a defendant to win, but in doing so, she repeatedly condemned the FBI in the harshest terms for single-handedly converting Cromitie from a helpless but resentful anti-government fanatic into a criminal. The defendant “was incapable of committing an act of terrorism on his own,” she said, adding: “only the government could have made a terrorist out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in scope.” She added: “There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that James Cromitie could never have dreamed up the scenario in which he actually became involved.”
Her written ruling is worth quoting at length because of how relevant it is to current FBI activities. The judge began by noting that Cromitie “had successfully resisted going too far for eight months,” and agreed only after “the Government dangled what had to be almost irresistible temptation in front of an impoverished man from what I have come (after literally dozens of cases) to view as the saddest and most dysfunctional community in the Southern District of New York.” It was the FBI’s own informant, she wrote, who “was the prime mover and instigator of all the criminal activity that occurred.” She then wrote (emphasis added):
The Government indisputably “manufactured” the crimes of which defendants stand convicted. The Government invented all of the details of the scheme – many of them, such as the trip to Connecticut and the inclusion of Stewart AFB as a target, for specific legal purposes of which the defendants could not possibly have been aware (the former gave rise to federal jurisdiction and the latter mandated a twenty-five year minimum sentence). The Government selected the targets. The Government designed and built the phony ordnance that the defendants planted (or planned to plant) at Government-selected targets. The Government provided every item used in the plot: cameras, cell phones, cars, maps and even a gun. The Government did all the driving (as none of the defendants had a car or a driver’s license). The Government funded the entire project. And the Government, through its agent, offered the defendants large sums of money, contingent on their participation in the heinous scheme.
Additionally, before deciding that the defendants (particularly Cromitie, who was in their sights for nine months) presented any real danger, the Government appears to have done minimal due diligence, relying instead on reports from its Confidential Informant, who passed on information about Cromitie information that could easily have been verified (or not verified, since much of it was untrue), but that no one thought it necessary to check before offering a jihadist opportunity to a man who had no contact with any extremist groups and no history of anything other than drug crimes.
One of the reporters who has most extensively covered the FBI’s role in manufacturing terrorism cases it then proceeds to “break up” is Trevor Aaronson. In 2011, he documented, working with the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkeley, that of 508 post-9/11 terrorism defendants, “nearly half the prosecutions involved the use of informants, many of them incentivized by money.” After 9/11, the FBI’s budget-increasing, power-enhancing strategy was to target “tens of thousands of law-abiding people, seeking to identify those disgruntled few who might participate in a plot given the means and the opportunity” by monitoring their social media postings, and “then, in case after case, the government provides the plot, the means, and the opportunity.” Of the terrorism arrests from sting operations, almost 1/3 were ones in which “defendants participated in plots led by an agent provocateur—an FBI operative instigating terrorist action.”
It is this long history and mountain of evidence that compels an investigation into the role played by the FBI in the planning of the 1/6 riot at the Capitol. And it is that same evidence that made the corporate media’s derisive reaction to such demands — as voiced by Darren Beattie’s Revolver News, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and myself — so ignorant and subservient. They acted as if only some unhinged conspiracy theorist could possibly believe that the FBI would have informants and agents embedded in the groups that planned that Capitol riot rather than what it is: the only logical conclusion for anyone who knows how the FBI actually behaves.
Indeed, the BuzzFeed reporters who investigated the FBI’s key role in the Michigan case must have been very disturbed by what they found since they used their reporting to raise that taboo topic: what role did the FBI have in 1/6? Moreover, they asked, is this yet another era where the FBI is targeting Americans not for criminality but for their political views, and then orchestrating their own plots that justify the U.S. security state’s massive budget and unlimited powers?
Instead, [the accused] say, they were targeted because of their political views. Some describe the case as a premeditated campaign by the government to undermine the Patriot movement, an ideology based on fealty to the Second Amendment and the conviction that the government has violated the Constitution and is therefore illegitimate. They argue that the recordings and text messages that the government calls proof of a criminal conspiracy are in fact constitutionally protected speech — expressions of frustration at what they see as the government’s betrayal of its citizens.
The Michigan case is unfolding at another fraught moment in American history. In court, the government has drawn a direct line between the alleged kidnapping plot and the Jan. 6 insurrection, holding up the storming of the US Capitol as evidence that the Michigan defendants posed a profound threat. . . . [I]f the defense is able to undermine the methods used to build the Michigan case, it could add weight to the theory that the administration is conducting a witch hunt against militant groups — and, by extension, that the Jan. 6 insurrection was a black op engineered by the FBI.
When Carlson raised these same questions on his Fox program, he did what I did when doing so: cited my reporting as well as Trevor Aaronson’s about the FBI’s long history of orchestrating such plots and luring people into them using informants and undercover agents. Much of that reporting about the FBI’s tactics was published by The Intercept, which — when aimed at American Muslims during the First War on Terror — had an editorial view that it was extremely improper and dangerous for the FBI to do this. But now that it is being done to American anti-government activists on the right, the site’s liberal editors seem happy about it. They got Aaronson to write an article under the headline “Tucker Carlson Distorted My Reporting in His Latest Jan. 6 Conspiracy Theory.”
But that headline was an absolute lie. There was nothing in Aaronson’s article that pointed to any “distortions” in how Carlson (or I) cited Aaronson’s work. To the contrary, Aaronson himself acknowledged that the FBI’s past history — including in the Whitmer case — made such questions highly rational and necessary:
In many of these stings, informants or undercover agents provided all the money and weapons for terrorist plots, and sometimes even the ideas — raising significant questions about whether any of these people would have committed the crimes were it not for the FBI’s encouragement. Many targets of these FBI stings were mentally ill or otherwise easily manipulated. . . .
Carlson’s claim fits an existing and well-established argument: that the FBI creates crimes through aggressive stings where no crimes would otherwise exist. . . . I think it’s worth noting that there’s a reason for the cultural stickiness of the claim by Revolver and Carlson. It might be a conspiracy theory, but it’s not exactly “baseless,” as the Post described it. That’s because there are genuine concerns that the sting tactics used over the past two decades against impressionable Muslims will be used against equally impressionable Americans with right-wing ideologies. In the supposed plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, for example, FBI agents and an informant played significant roles, raising the same question that surrounds so many supposed Islamic State and Al Qaeda cases in the United States: Would this plot have happened were it not for the FBI?
I think the FBI’s investigation of potential right-wing threats, and the degree to which the bureau replicates its abusive post-9/11 tactics, will be a critically important story in the coming years. How news organizations report on it will be a significant test.
While Aaronson insists that no proof has yet been presented that the FBI had foreknowledge of the 1/6 plot or encouraged it to happen, and also seized on a minor error in the Revolver News article originally raising these questions about “confidential informants” — an error I noted in my own article about this topic while explaining that it was ancillary and insignificant to the overall question — Aaronson’s article has far more in common with the primary theme raised by Carlson than it does arguments that Carlson “distorted” anything. In particular, Aaronson writes, the FBI’s ample history requires a serious investigation into the role it may have played in knowing about and/or encouraging the 1/6 plotters.
As I documented in my own reporting on this question, there is ample evidence to believe that the FBI had informants embedded in at least two of three key groups it says were behind the 1/6 Capitol riot. As I noted at the time, most of the corporate press spewed contempt and scorn on these questions because 1/6 has become an event that carries virtually religious importance to them, and their reverence for the U.S. security state makes them resistant to any suggestions that the FBI may have acted deceitfully — an utterly bizarre mindset for U.S. journalists to possess. But such is the state of the liberal sector of the corporate press today.
Now that one of their own liberal members in good standing — BuzzFeed — has not only proven the FBI’s key role in the Whitmer plot but also themselves suggested that it makes more plausible the bureau’s involvement in 1/6, these questions are becoming increasingly unavoidable. Both the Whitmer plot and especially 1/6 are absolutely crucial to everything that has happened since: the launch of the new War on Terror, billions more in funds for the security state, proposals for greater surveillance, Biden’s use of the intelligence community to insist that anti-government activists constitute the greatest threat to U.S. national security. Asking what role the FBI played in the episode at the Capitol is not only rational but imperative.
Every Wednesday: I never fail to be disgusted with advice columns. I am unsure why they still get paid to do what they do. As always, I am in awe when it comes to awful examples like Dear Prudence and Dear Abby. The columnists seem to get rewarded for giving you bad advice. I think that people get terrible advice from them. I don’t blame anyone that calls advice column responses garbage. I use my postings to correct these responses and help society by being an utmost asshole, (as always, a hat tip to Aaron Clarey at Asshole Consulting).
Consider this piece from the Harriette Cole column (courtesy of Arcamax)from July 28, 2021:
A few months ago, one of my friends texted in our group chat that she needed to take a break from us. She has always struggled with her mental health, and she explained that she couldn’t handle the pressure of hanging out with people right now. She said that if we wanted to, we could add her back by the end of June.
Yesterday, an acquaintance posted an Instagram photo hanging out with the same friend who said she couldn’t handle being with people right now, which really hurt all of our feelings. Our friend hasn’t reached out to us about being added back in the group chat, when it’s well past the end of June. My friend group doesn’t want to keep chasing her, even though we adore her. Do we keep pushing or let her go?
One of the biggest mistakes we make in our lives is that we don’t tell people what we expect out of them. We often reward people with silence instead of verbalization. We often will repeat repugnant behaviors instead of stopping them. The people among me do the same to everyone’s detriment.
I have been blessed in my life a few times. I found myself surrounded by a few people of conviction that would tell me when I screwed up. On occasion, I also could receive actionable advice in how I could improve. These people could account for a few real friends that I have known.
To move on in our lives, we must grow past being phony shells of human beings. We are raw and flawed beings, instead of semblances of glossy statues. Social media won’t do this. Only we can.
I think that it would make sense for you to tell your friend where they went wrong, in the exact words that you used in your letter. I would speak to them in person. (Context is not easily construed through written and electronic means). I would not throw this person away, yet. Your friends should wait until you have a complete picture of your friend’s side of things, then your group can determine what is the next step.
I don’t imagine that I will have a shortage of emails to answer. I would love to start doing this for anyone that sends me an email. If this is you; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you hate advice columns; I don’t blame you. If it isn’t soft people giving advice; it is someone trying to justify acting like an insensitive asshole. Till next week.
The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday approved a language change in the $768 billionNational Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would expand the “Selective Service”—the oxymoronically named requirement under threat of imprisonment for 18-year-old males to submit their names to a national registry of potential military conscripts—to include the female of the species.
As Ella Lubell noted here yesterday, among those cheering this development is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), whose lawsuit challenging the male-only draft was denied a hearing last month by a Supreme Court that nonetheless signaled its potential interest should Congress decline to change the law. “Men-only registration actually impedes women’s full participation in civic life,” the ACLU maintains.
It’s worth pausing on that logic, particularly in light of what that “L” stands for. Is “participation” really the right word to describe being coerced by the state to sign and mail a piece of paper for the purpose of expediting any future governmental conscription of citizens into a death-struggle? Is compulsory self-reporting to a national list of people whose freedoms could potentially be usurped really characterizable as a liberty?
“That women register, and perhaps be called up in the event of a draft, is a necessary prerequisite for their achieving equality as citizens, as it has been for other groups historically discriminated against in American history,” concluded the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, in a March report heavily perfumed with the terminology of anti-discrimination.
This share-the-pain interpretation of “equality” is common, but fundamentally perverse. When assessing unequal treatment under the law based on immutable characteristics, a first-order sorting question should be: Is this a government-imposed legal inequality of opportunity, or of burden? The former deserves overturning; the latter should be ameliorated via not expansion but removal.
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 would not have been made more legally and morally palatable by expanding the unwanted-immigrant class to other nationalities; instead, it was finally reversed altogether by the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. Internment of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent during World War II would not have been any more just had we imprisoned more hyphenated Americans derived from other Axis-allied nations. Instead, we issued apologies and made reparations.
Those actions, which wrecked lives, were explicitly discriminatory in intention and effect. Limiting the Selective Service to males, on the other hand, is for most dudes (though not me) a mild annoyance at worst, and if there’s any divinable discriminatory intent, it is—as the ACLU and National Commission both contend—the old-fashioned paternalistic notion that the ladies aren’t strong enough to fight.
Yet the actual effect is discriminatory to the young men who have to comply or face the (rare) threat of imprisonment and fines, and the much-more-common blocked access to student loans, federal employment, and even driver’s licenses. Using the opportunity/burden test, the barring of qualified women (or gays, or other groups who have been blocked historically) from the opportunity of serving in combat has been rightly overturned, but merely exposing them to burdens of draft registration should lead us in an opposite direction: to remove the burden imposed on males.
Laws and other government initiatives that were less explicitly aimed at outgroups, but nonetheless discriminatory in application, have generally been thrown out by courts, rather than expanded to negatively impact a broader population. Most post–Civil War poll taxes didn’t say anything about race (with the exception of literal “grandfather clauses,” which exempted the descendants of prior, definitionally white male voters from paying), though a century later both the Congress and the Supreme Court recognized that both intent and effect were discriminatory on poor and black communities.
Closer to our era, New York City’s “Stop, Question, and Frisk” policy was judged in 2013 to be unconstitutional due its unequal enforcement—around 90 percent of all applications—on minority residents. The solution was not to “mend it” by shaking down the swells in Midtown and Wall Street, but simply to end it altogether.
There’s a kissing cousin to the flawed share-the-burden instinct when it comes to criminal justice reform. Every time a rich and/or white suspect or defendant is seen to have received less punitive treatment than what frequently befalls those who are poor and non-white, there are calls even from diehard criminal justice reformers to somehow equalize the punishment by brutalizing the privileged.
“For my friends in Georgia,” tweeted former Will & Grace actress Debra Messing on Dec. 10, 2020, “your next U.S. Senators will decide the future of the George Floyd Criminal Justice Reform bill and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Be sure to VOTE.” Five days later Messing tweeted to Donald Trump: “I hope you live a long life in prison where you become the most popular boyfriend to all the inmates.”
The solution to the disparate enforcement of, say, drug laws, on rich celebrities and homeless addicts, is not to make sure Lindsay Lohan serves the maximum sentence each time but to stop jailing adults for drug use, period. So it should be with that other 20th century anachronism, the military draft.
If and when the Democratic-run Congress passes the female-conscript-inclusive NDAA, and President Joe Biden signs it into law, my daughters will not magically have more liberties or even experience discrimination any less. It is discriminatory—and, frankly, embarrassing for any mature country, let alone one dedicated to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”—to treat any 18-year-old like the physical property of the state. The policy goal should be equality of opportunity, not equality of immiseration.
The real reason for not committing suicide is because you always know how swell life gets again after the hell Is over.
Ernest Hemingway. Letter, 1926. In Frederich Busch, “Reading Hemingway Without Guilt,” New York Times Book Review, 12 January 1992
I knew of the hell that a man could speak of. I had not found myself in prison, although it was steering towards that direction. I had not found myself enamored with the hypnotism that “sweet vein candy” could provide. I had not yet imbibed the sweet nectar that many called liquor. I also did not dabble in diddling. My path to hell was different.
I let myself become despondent when my pre-military times identity was quashed. The man that I saw in the mirror did not reflect those that rejected me. I could not understand that the rejection was an offering of a form of freedom. I saw a life’s plan crash. I had stopped feeling and I became numb.
Fast forward to the modern day; I had training on suicide prevention. In this training, we were warned about the unfeeling/numb condition. This being a step away from someone taking their lives.
I had never considered taking my own life back during the dark times. I felt like it wasn’t worth dying for. I felt like two or three people would benefit from my death. And it wasn’t three people I could tolerate. (One of them was someone that made a habit of slandering people).
I, just like now, wanted my death to mean something. If it wasn’t leaving behind something meaningful, it would be something stereotypically valiant or supporting something of a noble cause. I feel/felt like being found in a pool of blood or sealed up in a car couldn’t fulfill this.
I hate the stereotypical saying that suicide is “a permanent solution to a temporary problem”. It might be true, but I hated hearing it. I feel like the vast majority of people that had successfully done it were in error. I feel like that your life should change in meaning. I pondered that I wanted to stay alive, not out of familial duty, but out of the desire to see my enemies bested. Or at least that the shittiest of my enemies do not find humor/comfort in my demise.
My “war” against suicide is not conventional. It takes a further dive into a level of darkness to find reasons. It might take a crusade, identifying worthy adversaries, or various inconvenient goals that could be achieved. It is a step in the right direction.
I hope that one of my won battles in my lifetime will be that I have not only not killed myself, but that I have helped kill suicide among men.
May we live one more day, not for pithy sayings but that we find purpose in the darkness.
I have remembered fondly many times with guys I hung out with. Between cracking jokes, scrounging money for illicit alcohol, and various other fun activities, we had a blast. I left it behind when I went into the military.
When I left, one of those guys became a shitty outlaw. Meth made him an asshole and plenty of people couldn’t stand to be around him. Another dude boosted guns from a delivery truck and attempted to sell them to a fence. It failed and he along with a known snitch ended up in juvie. A man I considered a brother of sorts found himself down on his luck, rolling with a bunch of jackasses, high on cocaine and beating wholesale ass with a baseball bat. The rat amongst them saw to it that he visit the regional prison for a spiritual retreat. This man, “Petey”, is who I will focus on today.
I went to see Petey after he got out of jail. He was engaged. He had a beautiful little place a short drive from where I live. He let things fall apart. He ran off a beautiful fiancée and a cherub of a child. He dragged ass about finding work. But one of the most disturbing things was to come.
He ended up moving back home to live with his enabling mother. He went back to working cooking jobs at fast food or chain restaurants. (Please note: Petey was a sous chef at one time before his fall). He ended up avoiding the cretins but he dove into one of my least favorite poisons; nostalgia. He would get onto Facebook and crow about how he “couldn’t wait to get some of the guys together”. Petey would try to get a chuckle out of us guys in adding a mention of our drunken tomfoolery of past.
The irony is that several of us are clean. One goes to AA and I don’t get into that stuff anymore. A few of us have sensitive careers that don’t look fondly on hanging out. A well meaning AA going guy mentioned that we moved on. I didn’t see much of any of those guys when I had a reason to be in town, (minus AA guy runs a training program and a gunsmithing operation). Looking back at this, it struck me when I used to hear assholes on the news say the following:
“I’ve got to rep my crew and my street”.
The irony is that this is often after they come back from the military or life changing event. Knowing, for the most part, that these people bring nothing to them, outside of trouble or nostalgia.
I don’t have much back “home”. Only one or two folks did anything that didn’t mirror being an bankrupt anchor. The healthiest of the “old crew” would fall silent during a conversation, knowing that we weren’t bonded by old antics. We both knew that each other were serious about work and family. I wasn’t offended.
I wanted to part with a warning via Ryan @ Path to Manliness. He had a email that was titled “Your Old Friend Will Hold You Back”. He had mentioned “ your high school friends will bring you down”. Petey was the last one that could hold himself accountable or even try to inspire others. I, like Ryan, needed better in my life.
I was never going to find it back home and I wasn’t going to find it “repping my old crew”.