Lysolgate and Yanny

This week saw another episode in our nation’s psychic divide with Lysolgate.  Unless you were living under a rock, on Thursday Trump, in true Trump fashion, made inexplicable comments following a presentation on the impact on surfaces of disinfectants, sunlight and temperature on the COVID-19 virus.

In relevant part, here they are:

“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that, so that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me. So, we’ll see, but the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute. That’s pretty powerful.”

From there, the internet exploded.  Immediately, the President’s detractors went with Lysol syringe memes and the President’s supporters went into a special denial land of “he didn’t say that” or “here’s what he really meant” – -with detailed medical explanations. Of course, the latter is so implausible as to be beyond belief. Trump refuses to read briefings more than one page and literally gets much information from cable television. To suggest that he is aware of the details of respiratory therapy treatments is simply beyond imagination.

Nonetheless, you could say everyone heard what they wanted to hear.  However, I think that’s a cheap out.  The reality is more complex.

Two years ago, social media raged with a media clip called “Yanny or Laurel” in which almost half of people heard Yanny and half of people heard Laurel. The reality was that word was Laurel. Higher frequency distortion had been added to the clip. Those who brains are more attuned to higher audio frequencies, such as me, heard Yanny. Those less sensitive heard Laurel.  Even after establishing the fact that the word was Laurel, I could not hear it.  I used an audio software program to peel off the higher frequency distortion and then I was able to clearly hear Laurel.  However, add it back and I still hear Yanny – even knowing the truth.

In parapsychology (yes, I’m one of those crazy people that investigates ghosts – but as a skeptic, not to find the ghost of your dead Uncle John), we refer to a concept of mental matrixing.  People will sometimes claim to see a disassociated human face in mirrors or pictures. More often than not, this is an optical illusion.  Our brains are computers that interpret input data. When that data doesn’t make sense, it tries to make sense of it. If visual data has characteristics resembling a familiar object, it will interpret it as that object.  Thus, if certain features are consistent with a face, the brain will interpret a face. It will even fill in the blanks sometimes if some features – like eye, nose or mouth – are missing.  It is not real, however real it’s perception may be.

The same was true of the auditory Yanny/Laurel phenomenon.  Perception was reality to the listener, but that did not make it real.

The same thing is happening in our political environment today. I have an enormously diverse group of interactive followers on social media – particularly on Facebook.  My followers range from anarchist Libertarians die hard Trump supporters to die hard progressives and Bernie Bros and everything in between.  The reaction to Trump’s comments on social media were a true Yanny/Laurel moment.  To Trump’s critics, he suggested drinking bleach and shooting up Lysol.  To Trump’s supporters, because he didn’t use that exact language, there was nothing wrong with what he said. In fact, the right wing spin machine spun up posts from respiratory therapists and other people with medical knowledge trying to rewrite what the President said and make it seem completely reasonable.

Of course, the reality … it was Laurel.  The context was clear – a lengthy discussion household disinfectants and sunlight (for those of you always screaming about comments taken out of context) and he was talking about injecting disinfectants. Now sure, in Trump’s stream of consciousness brain, he probably wasn’t thinking “well, why couldn’t you inject Lysol into the lungs.” But come on people.  Any way you slice this, it was a stupid thing to say. There is no defending it, but of course people did – with abandon.  Why?  Yanny.

Why did people hear Yanny in the Yanny/Laurel clip?  It wasn’t a choice. God knows I tried. Hundreds of times. However, the auditory part of my brain was conditioned to interpret the higher frequency and override what my conscious brain told me. This is what is happening in political culture. As people veer off into belief bubbles or echo chambers, where they only hear information that is consistent with a particular point of view, they become less and less able to perceive another point of view. The brain has literally programmed a preference filter and try as they may, they can’t hear Laurel. Try as they may, they can’t hear criticisms of Trump.

Now I realize, I’m the one who supposedly suffers from Trump Delusional Syndrome, so of course, my criticism is invalid. This is another defense mechanism set up by the echo chamber to filter out views that create cognitive dissent.  Here’s the thing. I do know “conservatives” that went off the deep end after Trump. If Trump was for it, they were against it and they went from “conservative” to blue waver progressive. That isn’t me. Keep your labels to yourselves.  I challenge anyone to review my posts over the last 12 years and tell me where I’ve become more “liberal.”  The only area where I have changed my mind is on immigration issues. However, those changes in point of view pre-dated Trump.

TDS is simply a buzzword of the echo chamber.  Look, I know you hear Yanny. It’s not your fault. However, choosing to ignore the truth after knowing it is as such is denying your responsibility – and duty. We have a duty to the truth and that transcends our political preferences, fears and biases.

I am now Ex-GOP

Today, I tendered my resignation as a Precinct Committeeman in the Marion County (Indiana) Republican Party:

Cindy Kirchofer


Marion County Republican Central Committee

Madam Chairman,

It is great sorrow that I must tender my resignation as the elected Republican Precinct Committeeman of precinct 18-02.  I will not be in attendance at the Convention on February 1st, nor will I seek re-election for the position and wish for my resignation to be effective immediately.

I have been a Republican all of my life. At age 5, I had my own electoral map enthusiastically watching the election of Richard Nixon. In 1980, though I could not vote, I campaigned for Ronald Reagan for President and Dan Quayle for Senate. Ronald Reagan was proudly my first Presidential vote in 1984.  Since that time I have proudly assisted Republicans candidates and campaigns in a variety of capacities.  I remain committed to the historic conservative principles that have been at the very core of what Republicans have stood for since the founding of the party – limited government, fiscal responsibility, local control, individual freedom, free markets and strong defense. Sadly, this no longer represents the Republican party.

In 2016, I severed ties with the Republican National Committee after the disgraceful conduct at the Republican National Convention and permitting the party to be highjacked by a populist nationalist who does not represent Republican values. I remained in the party with the hope that surely sanity would prevail at some point, even after Trump’s election.

Since that time, I have watched the Indiana GOP refuse to take action against an Attorney General credibly accused of sexual assault and to become a propaganda shill for Donald Trump – despite having an amazing Governor in Eric Holcomb that they should be better supporting.  They also essentially wrote off Indianapolis in the last election and crowed of other wins while ignoring the utter massacre in Marion County, which was caused in large part by revulsion of Donald Trump, whom they embrace with the devotion of a cult.

After watching the impeachment process transpire, it has become patently obvious that nothing remains of the party I knew and faithfully served. It has become the party of Donald Trump with cultish enthusiasm. I can no longer lend my name and reputation to be identified with it.

This is not a reflection on you or your leadership. I have the utmost respect for you and my Township Chairman, Councilman Mike Hart. I have made no secret of my views, but I have never been treated by either of you with anything but the utmost respect and I am most grateful for that.  This is also not a reflection on Marion County Republicans who I believe are committed to core Republican principles.

I am not becoming a Democrat and will always be available to genuine conservatives to assist them in any way in which I am able to help and they are willing to accept my help. However, I cannot be associated in any way with the party of Donald Trump and those who have repeatedly enabled his illegal, unconstitutional and immoral conduct. My prayer is that someday the party is restored to sanity and this stain be removed. If that occurs, I will happily return.

With warm regard,

Ed Adams

GOP Precinct Committeeman

Marion County

Precinct 18-02

To Be or Not to Be: The Existential Crisis for Conservative Republicans

In William Shakespeare’s Classic Tragedy “Hamlet,” the young prince, through urgings of the ghost of his father, grapples with the injustice of his father’s murder and his uncle’s usurpation of his throne and the rapid marriage of his mother to his uncle.  In Act 3, Hamlet delivers his famous existential soliloquy “To Be or Not to Be, that is the question.” He contemplates the known sorrow of life where he feigns madness and spurns love compared to the unknown future of non-existence – death.  Hamlet chooses to live to see through his promise to his father’s ghost to avenge his father’s murder, but, as in any good tragedy, in the process he loses all that he loves, his kingdom and ultimately his own life (Sorry for the spoiler, but come on, you should have read it) giving his kingdom to the son of the man Hamlet’s own father had killed.

Today, Conservative Republicans have reached their own existential crisis with the rise and election of Donald Trump as the leader of the Republican party.  The very movement launched by men such as William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan which had dominated the Republican party since Reagan has found itself out of the driver’s seat.  The very movement that had provided the energy that gave Republicans control of Congress, the Tea Party, had found a new champion in Donald Trump.  Anger at the failure of Republicans to deliver change with control of Congress swelled to throw out “RINOs” and “Establishment” or as Trump named the chant “Drain the swamp.”  Like Prince Hamlet, they hear the ghosts of Lincoln and Reagan, but what are the ghosts saying? Rise up and seek revenge on the usurper? Run away and set up a government in exile?  Join the enemy of the Crown?

Trump was an unlikely champion of Tea Party conservatives and social conservatives. He was historically a liberal and a frequent visible supporter of Democrats. He had a well known immoral past and a very tenuous connection to Christianity.  Yet social conservatives (particularly white evangelicals) freely embraced him in the face of what they perceived as a steady attack on their religious culture – legalization of same sex marriage, transgender us of public restrooms, the rise of political correctness, “white privilege,” Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter, the “war on Christmas,” etc.  There was also a rising fear of immigrants – fueled largely by the large migrations of Syrian refugees into Europe and America and the attacks of ISIS, which included attacks on American soil.  There was a sense to them that the country was “out of control.”  It was not a time for reason and compromise. It was time to “Make America Great Again” because we were going to be overrun by immigrants, killed by terrorists or lose Chirstmas. Obama and Clinton were clearly responsible for this and Trump was the solution.

In this atmosphere, there was little room for traditional conservative principles. Conservatives were fractured in the 2016 election.  Many initially opposed Trump and declared “Never Trump” only to return to the fold and vote Republican because the thought of President Hillary Clinton was completely untenable.  Others saw Trump as the greater threat and decided to vote for Clinton.  Still others, like myself, could bring not bring ourselves to vote for either and voted for third party candidates or refused to vote in that election.

Of course, Trump did win.  Following the election, most conservatives, including me, took a (less than optimistic) wait and see approach – ready to support conservative principles, but also ready to criticize where necessary. Others, however, took a decidedly different path.  A surprising number to me, became as John McCormack of the Weekly Standard recently coined the term, “Neo-Trump” and firmly lined up behind the President – occasionally becoming uncomfortable with his actions, but not standing to oppose in any way.  Others, like for example Sen. Marco Rubio, have been generally supportive, but also vocally critical on certain issues. As a whole however, the GOP Congress, while not giving Trump everything he wants, has been most cautious to confront or cross Trump. Those who have, have not fared well. Senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake chose not to seek re-election. Recently, Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) went down to primary defeat.

However, another significant faction, much to my surprise have discovered themselves to be “neo-liberal” and have all but left conservatism behind to join the Resistance – Trump being the focus of modern evil.  Washington Post Columnist Jennifer Rubin, for example, still calls her column “Right Turn,” but its clear she has made a U turn.  I’ve observed a number of other “conservative voices” in blogging and on social media do a total flip over Trump.

Others have either formally left the Republican party as a protest over Trump’s behavior or policies such as separation of families at the border.  Yet another group remains in the party but strongly advocates that Democrats win control of Congress to purge and repudiate Trumpianism from the GOP.

The late great Charles Krauthammer coined the term “Bush Derangement Syndrome” to describe Democrats who had lost all sense of reason of President George W. Bush. He described as: “the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency — nay — the very existence of George W. Bush.”  To no one’s surprise, the term “Trump Derangement Syndrome” has been applied to anyone who does not sing Trump’s praises or dares to criticize non-conservative policies, e.g. protectionist tariffs, or outrageous and immoral behavior that degrades the office of the President and reflects horribly on Republicans. I have frequently been accused of TDS.

I would concur that TDS is real.  I have watched conservatives I admire become so frothed at the mouth as to incomprehensibly advocate what they fought against for years – because of Trump. Contrary to my critics, my positions have not changed. I advocate the same core conservative principles that I have advocated most of my adult life – with a few changes recent years (immigration reform and same sex marriage), but those changes occurred pre-Trump and have nothing to do with him. Nonetheless, my critics routinely assure me that my positions and the strength of my support for them are mere products of “Trump hate.”

I’ll be the first to admit it. I don’t like him. I don’t like his protectionism, his foreign policy, his crude and immoral manner, his bullying nature (I really just have no patience for bullies), his anti-intellectualism, his pandering to hate groups and ignorance, his attacks on free speech and free press (and before you go all “Fake News” on me, he attacks anyone who attacks him), his penchant for dividing the country, etc.  As to “hate,” yes, I do hate what he has done to my party which has included the normalization of racism in the name of opposing political correctness, e.g., the nomination of Corey Stewart for Senate in Virginia. I hate the ugly behavior at his rallies. I hate the lack of civility that he has heightened (yes, it already existed and yes Democrats have been just as uncivil). I could go on, but that is pretty sufficient to illustrate my point. So, Trump hate? Guilty. TDS? No.

Having said these things, he has surprised me on some things. He has followed through on regulatory reform pretty aggressively. He did appoint Gorsuch, an eminently qualified jurist for the Supreme Court which proved pivotal in 3 major cases this week. He has appointed a number of conservative judges in the lower courts. Some have been great. Others, well, no.  On balance, in that regard, I will confess that he exceeded my expectations. Of course, over the last 2 days I have been reminded of this and asked am I not happy Hillary didn’t make an appointment. Bear in mind though, I did not vote for Hillary.

While the Courts are important, we have made them far more important than they should be. The Courts have become a super legislature because Congress fails to do its job. If we remedied that dysfunction, the courts would be far less important. Also, bear in mind, that if the President gets NATO wrong, North Korea wrong, or China or Russia wrong, Courts are the least of our problems. I’m a lot more concerned about foreign policy than the courts – my own interest in Constitutional law notwithstanding.

I am not trying to re-litigate the 2016 election. In fact, I’m really quite tired of hearing about it – from all sides. Trump won. Period. End of story. “Elections have consequences.” – Barak Obama.  I’m not pushing for impeachment.  I do believe it is important to let the Special Counsel do his job. I do believe there will be a lot more to see – and its going to get pretty ugly. Impeachment level ugly? Unknown.  I’m rather doubtful. Will more people go to prison? I think that is likely. Will it affect the 2018 or 2020 election? No way to know at this point.

Former Republican Columnist George Will has called for an effort to elect Democrats in the mid-term as being the only solution to purge Trumpianism from the GOP. While I am sympathetic to that view (because I think it is unlikely to change unless that does happen), I simply cannot advocate that action.  Contrary to views of many of my critics, I remain a member of my state and local GOP and work to elect Republicans. Why? Because I don’t think you can change the party from the outside.  I still believe in the legacy of the party of Lincoln and Reagan.  I don’t know why anyone would think they can leave and campaign against the party and then come back and assert your moral will. Frankly, that’s delusional. People have long memories.  Having said that, I have, literally and publicly, cut all ties with the Republican National Committee. It is an arm of Trump and I will have nothing to do with it.

So, as Hamlet contemplated his fate, so must Conservative Republicans decide what they will do with their own usurper “uncle” Donald Trump. What is the way forward? Is the answer to renounce the GOP and Trump? Should conservatism, which has become mired with Trump’s nativism and tribalism, be renounced as well?

There is no question that both Conservatives and Republicans have serious brand damage.  I warned about this loudly and frequently in the 2016 election. My fears have been more than realized. The GOP has indeed become the party of Trump (with over 80% of GOP approving of Trump), and not the party of Lincoln and Reagan. “Conservatism” has been redefined to embrace fiscal irresponsibility, crony capitalism, protectionism, demagoguery, and xenophobia. The principles that built conservatism – free markets, fiscal responsibility, small government, and the rejection of racism – have disappeared from the radar.  I truly understand why those who left the party and the movement did so.

As unwelcome as I currently feel in my party those calling themselves “conservatives,” I don’t see another viable alternative. Third parties are a ticket to nowhere in America.  I have good friends who are Libertarians. I respect them and their views. However, I often tell them and others that Libertarians are the nine sided dice players of politics (a Dungeons and Dragons reference).  Most people, myself included, will never understand D&D and neither do most people – regardless of the enthusiasm of the players. People just don’t take them seriously. They had their best chance in 2016. The candidates of both parties were hated. Who did they nominate? Gary (“What’s Aleppo?) Johnson, who even in interviews looked like he had just had a great smoke.

Also, historically, third parties just don’t work in America. They only have permanent impact following the collapse of a major party. There are a number of reasons for that which I will not delve into here.  Suffice it to say, neither party is at the collapse point yet and it isn’t happening.  So it might feel good to leave and wave your own new flag, but you’ll be lonely.

You could join the Democrats …. But why? Haven’t you fought them most of your life? There is no room in the Democratic party for your views. Right now, Democrats are having their own existential crisis with “uncle” Bernie, who isn’t even a Democrat, in a giant tug of war between liberal/centrists and progressives (and just outright socialists, or as they will correct me “Democratic Socialists). Don’t even try to be a pro-life Democrat. You will face the Purge.

Is the enemy of my enemy really my friend? Never Trumpers criticized Republicans who voted for Trump solely because he wasn’t Hillary. Voting for Democrats simply because they aren’t, or oppose Trump, is the same monolithic approach.  If Republicans take a kick in the keister this fall, it very well COULD carve Trump from the GOP. However, if the Democrats take control of Congress, I think it highly likely that Trump will find new friends and work with Democrats. He is not a man of principle and historically is liberal. It’s clear his base will go where he goes, so he would have little to lose by doing so.

I believe the solution to the existential crisis is to choose “To Be.” Conservatives need to get back what first built the Conservative movement – Ideas.  The Conservative movement embraced the principle of ordered liberty.  As Lee Edwards, Ph.D wrote in “The Origins of the Modern American Conservative Movement” from the Heritage Foundation:

The central idea of The Conservative Mind, upon which American conservatism is essentially based, is ordered liberty. It is a blending of the sometimes contending requirements of the community and the individual, of individual freedom and individual responsibility, of limited government and unlimited markets.

Much of this comes from “Classic Liberalism” of the Enlightenment embraced by John Locke. Conservatives believe in the strength of individual liberty and the strength of a society comes not from the strength of government, but of civil society – expressed in non-government institutions such as families, churches, neighborhood organizations, service clubs, fraternities sororities, etc.

Conservatism as a modern American movement was launched by intellectuals such as William F. Buckley.  The current trend in politics is anti-intellectual. However, I firmly believe that the answer to darkness is light. The answer to anti-intellectualism is engagement with intellectual, intelligent, understandable, and relatable thinking. Millennials, who currently lean left, actually respect this process – when they are engaged.

In his recent book, “Suicide of the West:  How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy” Jonah Goldberg points out that Civil Society is against human nature and human nature is always ready to reclaim us.  We have to struggle to press forward the ideas which have made us prosperous and free.

It will not happen automatically. It will not happen if we choose “Not to Be.”  The struggle to remain relevant will not be easy. It will be hard fought with much mocking and name calling. However, the legacy of Locke, Lincoln, Buckley and Reagan are too important to leave behind like some dicarded and forgotten refuse.  It is our birthright and we must fight for those promises and ideas to remain relevant so that we can pass them on to the next generation as others have faithfully passed them on to us.

We must choose “To Be” light in a time of darkness.

Reflections on the Life of my Mother

Today, we laid my mother to rest.  These were the remarks – which I did my best to get through – at her funeral today:

Where do I begin to reflect on 82 years of my mother’s life in a few minutes?  Or even the 54 years that I knew her as my mother. She was not one to promote herself or be the center of attention.  You would never find her on the front page of the paper.

She invested herself in her family, close and extended.  She loved her family.  She loved the history of her family – both hers and those of her husband.  She spent countless hours researching genealogy and compiling family history, photographs, letters and stories.  I am grateful for the opportunity I had to be her partner in research and we often enjoyed talking about the latest find or the frustrations of dead ends in the family tree.  I remember fondly going to Frankfort, KY to the library looking for hidden secrets from the past about their lives of those who came before us.

I was especially overjoyed as we discovered the location of the graves of Dad’s early Kentucky ancestors hidden away on private property.  Mom was excited to find it, but was no Indiana Jones.  When we discovered from the land owner it was covered in dense weeds and overgrowth, Mom decided that was not for her and waited in the car.

Over the years, Mom compiled over a thousand family records with hundreds of pages of records with a family tree going back to the Mayflower and beyond.  I am blessed with this treasury of records and history that I will seek to flesh out and extend in years to come so that her gift to her children and grandchildren will last far into the future and inspire many generations of her descendants.  Beyond records, there are stories which I have shared with my children and will be shared for generations to come.

Mom had many passions.  Those passions touched the life of each person here.  One of Mom’s greatest passions was family.  She wanted the best for us. She wanted us to excel and exceed in school and in non-school activities like 4-H.  She taught us her passion for music, which has been a life-long love of mine.  She introduced me to a variety of music and gave me love for classical symphonic music.

She wanted us to be able to do things that she had been unable to do as a child, including travel.  However, that did not include flying. Mom had an impending sense of doom about airplanes.  I would end up not flying until age 37.  Even then, I would not tell her ahead of time that I was flying.  I would call her once I had landed to let her know I had safely arrived.  This became a regular habit for every flight I have taken since.

This was not Mom’s only phobia. I cannot count the number of times we had to return home on the way to church, a school event or a trip because someone MIGHT have left the iron or the toaster plugged in.  Mom was not terribly concerned about navigation before a trip began.  In fact, she would often say “all roads lead to the same place,” but once on the road, she was convinced we had missed – or would miss – an exit on the interstate and, as a result, we were doomed.

Mom was excitable, sometimes at minor things, but sometimes major ones.  This could be most challenging at times. However, she was focused on the important things.  Mom believed that her first duty as a mother was to lead us to Christ.  She was devoted to her churches and family. Her love for the Lord was evident.  She encouraged us to read Bible and was quite insistent on church attendance and being active in youth activities – such as Sunday School, youth groups and church camp.  She was heavily involved in Bible Bowl, which was obviously a clever trick to get kids to read their Bibles.  It succeeded.

As a young child, I was not fond of being read to, although I was interested in books. She encouraged me and taught me to read them myself – well before I went to school.

Although uncommon in some families, talking politics at the dinner table was common practice in ours.  This engendered for me a lifelong love of history and politics.  She helped me learn the names of all the Presidents and Vice-Presidents by number of their Presidency by age 5.  I was probably one of the only 5 year olds intently watching the 1968 presidential election returns with my own electoral map.  She made a family tradition of watching the returns and having hot dogs in the crock pot for the long evening.  We often had peanuts as well, but this became difficult in 1976 since Jimmy Carter was a peanut farmer.

Mom had a strong sense of fairness.  When we got in trouble and deserved it, she let us know we deserved it. However, if we had been treated unfairly, God help you. She fiercely defended her own. However, she would often look to Dad and say “what are you going to do about that?”

She taught me important lessons about people – who they are as children of God and their value as human beings.  I remember her being upset at the assassination of Robert Kennedy. Now Mom was no fan of Mr. Kennedy, but she knew that violence and injustice were never a solution and that we are all children of God.

I will never forget as a young child the first time I encountered someone of a different skin color from that of mine. I was at a Christmas program at East Side Elementary School and seated next to an older African American woman.  For some reason, I was afraid and moved as far away in my seat from her and as close to Mom as I possibly could.  I’m sure it was quite embarrassingly obvious. She did not shame me, but quietly explained to me that this woman was a very nice woman and that some people have different skin color.  It didn’t make them any less of a person make them someone to be feared. She later shared about her friend in college who was African American.  She told me about the unfairness of how they couldn’t take her to some restaurants and how that made her friend feel.  I have never forgotten how she quietly dispelled my ignorance and fear and taught me love and the equality of our human condition.  As irony would have it, I decided to follow Christ after a presentation by African American singers who did a presentation on the history of the old spirituals and the faith of their ancestors.

In light of this, I remember being horrified as an adult when Mom was going through old family pictures and showed me a picture of her father in Klansman robes.  She calmly explained that in the 20s, nearly all the men in the community were members as that was the Klan’s heyday in Indiana.  As the Klan was exposed with the fall of D.C. Stephenson, he greatly regretted his involvement.  In this, Mom taught me that people are not only not defined by their skin color; they are also not defined by their mistakes.  She exhibited that to me time and time again. She was often an instrument of God’s mercy and grace when I needed it the most.

Mom’s fairness was not always peaceful.  As a child, I was, with the exception of a brief growth spurt in 4th and 5th grade, always height challenged.  As a result, I was often picked on and sometimes bullied.  One particular day in the neighborhood, there was a boy in the neighborhood who was a giant (at least in my eyes).  The other kids feared him and he used them to pick on the smallest – me.  The teasing was pretty vicious and I ran home crying.  Mom was hanging clothes on the clothesline, as was routine in the days before dryers were common.  I told her what had happened and she told me go back.  Now this was not what I was expecting. I tried to explain to her about the giant boy, but she insisted that I go back.  I walked back, apparently very slowly.  To my surprise, she was already there – with other parents.  They separated the other children from the bully.  Mom brought the two of us together and said now you to go at it. I was horrified.  I kept thinking, “Mom, do you not see how big he is!”  We stood there facing each other for seemed an eternity. I finally took a swing and landed a punch – which surely could not have hurt as I was small and terrified.  To my shock, he turned and ran away.  Mom, of course, knew that would happen. She knew that I had to learn to face my greatest fear and confront it.  Following that day, I never had another problem with that boy. Though others still feared him – as he always was big and strong – he always respected me and we never had any problems.  To this day, I have no patience for bullies and those who prey upon the weaker and believe it is our duty as children of God to stand up for them and fight oppression.  I owe that to my Mother.

While the last few months have been very hard and Mom was not the same person she was in earlier years, there were flashes of who she was that would come back from time to time.  At the end, she was unable to talk in any meaningful way. Dad and I had been with her for some time.  She tried to talk, but all that she could muster was “baby talk.”  As we laid her in bed, I kissed her and told her I loved her.  As clear as a bell, she said, “I love you too.”

The next day, I stopped by before coming home to Indianapolis. She had been asleep all day.  While I was there she woke up.  They brought into the main room and gave her dinner, but even with me trying to help, she would not eat.  However, in a moment of complete clarity, she looked at me and said, “I know it sounds crazy, but I’m afraid to swallow.”  I told her I understood.  She had a couple of amusing moments that night.  Since she could not eat, I took her for a ride up and down the hallway in her wheelchair. We were followed by one of the residents who was convinced I was making an escape with Mom and that I needed to take her with me.  I explained that we weren’t going anywhere, but she remained adamant.  When we returned to the table, Mom told me, “I don’t know what that woman’s problem was. You tried to tell her.”  She was quite concerned about who was going to do the laundry.  I assured her it was being taken care of.  She also was quite adamant that she was not going to follow “that man’s rules” whatever those were!  I guess I come by it honestly.  As it was time to go, I kissed her and told her “I love you.”  She replied “I love you too.”  Those were the last words I heard her speak.

I will always treasure those two nights.  I can’t stress enough.  You can’t tell your loved ones enough that you love them. Hug them, hold them and kiss them as long as you can.  I love you Mom.

Hope for the Hopeless

It is well known that the holidays, while a time of great joy for many are a time of deep despair for those suffering from depression and loss.  It is sadly a time marked with a large number of suicides.  In fact, someone within my circle of friends tragically took their life recently.

The real meaning of Christmas is not gifts and family gatherings, trees or decorations. It is a celebration of hope.  As the prophet Isaiah writes:

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

This Christmas, remember those still “living in the land of deep darkness.”  25 million Americans suffer from depression.  Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death and the second leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 10 and 34 years in the United States last year. More than half of those taking their life suffered from depression.

Chances are you know someone battling depression or contemplating taking their life.  Reach out to them. Let them know you care. Let them know that where there is life, there is hope.  Christmas symbolizes that hope. Selfless giving is the real meaning of Christmas. This year, reflect that great light that dawned long ago in the village of Bethlehem.

Deplorables: Donald Trump and The Racist Alt-Right International

By Contributing Author Matt Adams

Hillary Clinton recently gave a speech and discussed the dangers of the “Alt-Right” and racism. This may be the first time many have heard of the term “Alt-Right.”  Is this just a smear campaign by Clinton towards Donald Trump and conservatives?  Is the “Alt-Right” really just a group of internet trolls concerned with free speech or is it actually an ideological phenomenon rooted in white supremacy and racism at its core?  Are the charges levied against the Trump and the Alt-Right by Clinton and the “Liberal MSM” valid?  How extensive is this movement from a domestic and geopolitical standpoint?

Donald Trump’s new ‘Campaign CEO’ is Steve Bannon, the CEO of, a “news” and opinion site started by conservative Andrew Breibart, who was known for his confrontational style.  Under Andrew Breitbart’s leadership, it helped foment several political scandals during the Obama era, including the Anthony Weiner sexting incident and the ACORN videos.  Since Breitbart’s untimely death, the website was taken over by Bannon.  As popular as it is among some conservatives, is not known for factual accuracy and are very agenda driven. They often politically incorrect for shock purposes, even to the point of outright racism in some of their reporting, e.g., calling conservative columnist Bill Kristol a “renegade Jew” Recently, under Steve Bannon’s leadership, has been associated with the Alt-Right.

Perusing social media postings, one may assume the Alt-Right is mainly a group of internet trolls making tasteless, racist memes and jokes and harassing people online who disagree with them.  However, their ideological roots are tied to an international white supremacist movement with ties to Putin’s propaganda machine and was the ideological backdrop to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This is a bold claim.  The forthcoming seeks to connect the dots.


The Alt-Right’s Racist Origins

Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart columnist (who left the organization over the handling Michelle Field’s allegations of being grabbed by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski), has a good summary of the transformation of Breitbart into a ‘motley collection of white supremacists and anti-Semites’ in a recent Washington Post article In it, an individual by the name of Richard Spencer states that Breitbart “has elective affinities with the alt-right, and the alt-right has clearly influenced Breitbart. In this way, Breitbart has acted as a ‘gateway’ to alt-right ideas and writers.”

Who is Richard Spencer? In an article back in March of this year, Milo Yiannopolis, Technology Editor at Breitbart and outspoken Trump supporter (recently known for being banned from Twitter for inciting racist trolling of a black comedienne, but has become an alt-right ‘celebrity’ of sorts) wrote an ‘Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right’  In it, Yiannopolis cites Richard Spencer (along with other figures and sites such as American Renaissance, VDare, and so forth) as one of the foundational intellectuals of the newfound ‘alternative right’ movement. Currently, Richard Spencer runs the white supremacist think-tank called the National Policy Institute which is “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world.” The NPI also publishes a site called, which is the “news” and opinion site for the NPI. It has recently published such articles as “What the Founding Fathers REALLY Thought About Race” which begins:

“Today, the United States officially takes the position that all races are equal. Our country is also committed―legally and morally―to the view that race is not a fit criterion for decision-making of any kind, except for promoting “diversity” or for the purpose of redressing past wrongs done by Whites to non-Whites.

Many Americans cite the “all men are created equal” phrase from the Declaration of Independence to support the claim that this view of race was not only inevitable but was anticipated by the Founders. Interestingly, prominent conservatives and Tea Party favorites like Michele Bachman and Glenn Beck have taken this notion a step further and asserted that today’s racial egalitarianism was the nation’s goal from its very first days.

They are badly mistaken.”

The article goes on to cite racist views and policies that the founding fathers and other presidents held and promoted during most of our country’s history, concluding that only with John F. Kennedy do the “radical dissenters from traditional American thinking” find a president whose “conception of race begins to be acceptable to today’s standards.”

Another ‘founding’ site of the Alt-Right, according to Yiannopolis, is The American Renaissance, a monthly online magazine founded by Jared Taylor.  AmRen recently published an article called ‘The Biological Reality of Race’ which promotes a “theory” (if one can call it that) called Human Biodiversity.  The article runs through a gamut of racist tropes and suggests that they are all due to substantial biological differences among races.  It’s essentially Neo-Phrenology.  The fact they cite no scientific literature or research to support their claims should be a given to any rational, decent human being.

There is more evidence embedded in the other sources referenced by Yiannopolis’s introduction to this “intellectual” movement that are just as blatantly racist and bigoted, or more so. Yiannopolis, who calls Trump “Daddy”, says these “intellectuals” have been “accused of racism” simply because their views cater to “Natural Conservatives” who are “mostly white, mostly male middle-American radicals, who are unapologetically embracing a new identity politics that prioritizes the interests of their own demographic.”  He goes on to separate the Alt-Right ‘meme-brigade’ from their racist, ideological forefathers, but asserts that these “Natural Conservatives” are who the establishment should be most concerned about, politically.

This is outright racism and white supremacy. This is a throwback to a time in American history where white men controlled all the vestiges of power in America, from government to business to even labor unions – or, as Trump may put it, a time from which his conception of American Greatness comes from. These “Natural Conservatives” are the people, after all, from whom @realDonaldTrump retweets quotes from Mussolini and photo-shopped images of Hillary Clinton with the Star of David superimposed.


Decent, rational human beings would reject this group outright based on the evidence presented above.  However, there is a further geo-political argument to be made against the Alt-Right for those concerned about America’s stance as a global superpower.


The Alt-Right’s Ties to Europe’s New Right and Russia’s Aleksandr Dugin

On Radix Journal’s ‘Critical Reading’ page, there is section dedicated to an ideology called the Fourth Political Theory. It features four books by an author named Aleksandr Dugin. One of the books, “Martin Heidegger: The Philosophy of Another Being”, is published by Radix itself.

Who is Aleksandr Dugin? He is Russian professor (Moscow State University).  He is a propagandist for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. His ideas have become increasingly popular within the Russian intelligentsia, having served as an advisor to Russian State Duma government officials. One of his disciples is said to be Putin’s favorite journalists. Here is some further reading about Dugin, his ideas, and his influence:,

Dugin “is the intellectual who has Vladimir Putin’s back in the emerging ideological conflict between Russia and the West. At home, Putin uses him to create a nationalist, anti-liberal voting bloc, while abroad Dugin is the lynchpin of numerous irregular networks of anti-liberal political resistance and sabotage.” He is a promoter of Eurasianism, a theory of history which sees human civilization as a conflict between Eurasia (Central Europe, Russia, and Asia) and “Atlantis” (The West.) He has “reconstructed the entire history of the world as a continuous battle between these two factions, from Rome vs. Carthage to Russia vs. the Anglo-Saxon “Atlantic Order” today. If it is to win its fight against the subversive oceanic bearers of such “racist” (so called because their values are foreign imposed) ideas as human rights, Russia must unite around itself all the continental powers, including Germany, Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics, Turkey, Iran, and Korea, into grand Eurasian Union strong enough to defeat the West.” Through this conflict, the Russian People will finally be realized, though not through conquest but in the death of Russia and the end of the world. “Death is the way to immortality.” The recent creation of the Eurasian Economic Union and the War in Ukraine (where Dugin posed with Russian tanks on the front lines) are but two manifestations of this conflict.

His Fourth Political Theory is the ideological basis that will unite the Eurasian Union. It is a combination of “Communism, Nazism, Ecologism, and Traditionalism.” Dugin founded the Center for Conservative Studies, which he uses to expose intellectuals around the globe to his theories. Through this and his speaking tours, he’s influenced New Right parties in Europe, such as the German NDP, Greece’s Golden Dawn, the Dutch Freedom Party, and France’s National Front, all of whom hold nationalist, isolationist, Fascists or even neo-Nazi political views (the European New Right’s most visible manifestation is its widespread support for the Nigel Farage-led Brexit referendum.  Nigel Farage, of the British Independence Party, recently appeared at a Trump rally in support of his candidacy  His internet presence is bolstered through American white supremacist sites, e.g. Radix Journal. If one doubts the connection between the American Alt-Right, Europe’s New Right, and Dugin, in 2014, Richard Spence himself held a European “Identitarian” Conference, hosted by the Polish far-right Jobbik party, where Dugin was invited (but was denied a visa to attend.) On the invitation, Spencer exclaimed “I think the fact that we’re inviting Dugin is expressive of the fact that we want to have a real healthy dialogue with the major currents of Russian conservatism.”

Note, also, that Richard Spencer was at the Republican National Convention inviting attendees to talk to a racist  Further, Geert Wilders, leader the far-right Dutch Freedom Party mentioned above, attended the Yiannopolis rally at the RNC, and posed with GOP congressmen for pictures

These are the people who now find home in the GOP that Trump is attempting to mold. It may be political opportunism, capitalizing on a movement using language different from establishment conservatism and liberalism.  It’s doubtful that the Alt-Right online trolls are actively participating in Putin’s propaganda machine.  However, it is telling that Trump has put at the head of his campaign someone who runs a media outlet who the racist Alt-Right has credited for its recent popularity. Trump has openly questioned the necessity of NATO, who Putin sees as its main threat to his Eurasianist vision.  Trump has even stated that he wouldn’t intervene to protect NATO allies if Russia invaded, which plays right into Putin’s hands to regain political control over eastern Europe.  It is no wonder Russia’s media outlets are so pro-Trump.  And there’s difficult to deny the foundational ideological synthesis between the American Alt-Right, European New Right, and Russian “conservatism” promoted by Dugin. Trump’s nativist, nationalist, protectionist, and “law and order” rhetoric is music to the ears of both this international white supremacist Alt-Right insurgence and America’s geopolitical foes abroad. They all have common cause, to fight Western pluralistic, multi-cultural “liberalism.”

Make America Great Again?  The evidence suggests otherwise.

About Matt Adams:

Husband and dog father.  Rust-belt Midwesterner trying to survive in the desert.  When I’m not wasting time on politics and sports, I work to ensure healthcare information systems are working as designed.


A Deplorable Election

Days ago, Hillary Clinton made headlines calling half of Donald Trump’s backers a “basket of deplorables.” She soon apologized for the statement, but only about the 50% portion of the remark.  Mike Pence countered that Donald Trump’s supporters were “hard working Americans.”  He further added, ““Let me just say from the bottom of my heart: Hillary, they are not a basket of anything, they are Americans and they deserve your respect.”

Frankly, it was a stupid thing for Hillary to say and Pence eloquently and smartly responded.  Of course, the media could not let Pence get one up, so Wolf Blitzer of CNN decided to bring back David Duke.  Blitzer tried to get Pence to acknowledge that David Duke was deplorable.  Pence declined and a minor firestorm erupted that Pence would not classify Duke and the Klan as “deplorable.”  However, that was false.  What Mike Pence actually said was that he wasn’t going to engage in name calling. He said that Duke had already been denounced and that their support was not wanted. Of course, we can argue as to Trump’s flippancy on David Duke, but there is zero evidence that Mike Pence has ever supported Klan members or pandered to them.

Anyone who knows Mike Pence and his history knows that Mike does not like negative campaigning.  He rejected it very publicly after his unsuccessful first election effort to unseat Phil Sharp (D-IN) writing an article, “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner” and publicly apologized to Sharp.  He refused to do so when running for Governor.  He has been forced into that role as the VP candidate, but he does not like to lower himself to name calling.  It was a cheap shot and it is an example of what gives journalists a bad name and low regard among Republican voters.

For weeks now, the Trump campaign has dogged Hillary Clinton about her health.  She falls (literally) ill and all there is a frenzy among Trump supporters of proof of their suspicions.  From all indications, she did suffer from pneumonia, resulting from allergies and exhaustion from the campaign schedule.  Trump remained surprisingly quiet and staff and surrogates were threatened to be silent.  Even so, the campaign is dogged with a lack of transparency and calls for release of health records – all the while, Trump refuses to release his tax returns.

It is a deplorable election with deplorable choices.  Hillary Clinton can’t keep track of her stories on emails and won’t divest herself from the Clinton Foundation, even though she says she will do so if she wins.  Trump can never keep any story straight. He has continually flip flopped on immigration, abortion, Planned Parenthood and now climate change.  He routinely just makes things up and is rarely held accountable – likely because there are so many that the impact of a single lie is not that seemingly significant.

When you look to third parties, Gary Johnson asked “What is Aleppo?” when it had been all over the news for weeks as a result of the humanitarian crisis from the Syrian Civil War.  His isolationism was revealed to be cluelessness. Jill Stein is facing criminal charges for playing protestor.  One who is to be the Enforcer and Executor of laws lacks any credibility if she ignores the law.  Then we have Evan McMullin – the only adult in the room.  Unfortunately, however, due to his late entry, he will be a on limited number of state ballots – and, sadly, not on mine although I fully support his candidacy.

It is a long 2 months and we haven’t seen the debates yet. Like Hawaiian Limbo, we will indeed see how low can you go. It’s going to be a grim few weeks.

On the subject of “deplorable” and the context of Hillary Clinton’s remarks, please welcome Matt Adams (no relation to me) as a guest columnist to Vocem Libertatis.  He will be detailing the origins of the alt right movement and their relationship to white supremacist, nationalist and the Russian power brokers.

How I Remember September 11, 2001

15 years ago today, I had just finished working out in the fitness center of the American United Life Tower – now One America – in Indianapolis.  I had just showered and was getting dressed when someone said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  By the time I got out, many were glued to the TV.  A second plane had hit the second tower. We all knew it had to be a planned terrorist attack.  I immediately suspected, as did many others, that al Qaeda was responsible as they had attacked the embassies previously.  Of course, we soon learned that in fact they were the perpetrators.  We were completely stunned as watched the towers engulfed in flame and smoke and were horrified as people jumped to their deaths to escape the flames.

I shortly went upstairs to work.  Everyone was glued to internet news.  One Tower collapsed and we were completely dismayed.  The second tower collapsed and we were sickened.  We learned that the Pentagon had been hit.  While there was no evidence there was a threat to our building – the 2nd tallest in Indianapolis – we could not help but worry that we might be next and what was next.  Who was safe? How large was this attack?  Were my wife and children safe?  We were released to go home as no one was able to get work done.

The world changed that day in so many ways.  I remember days of no contrails in the skies and no planes overhead. Shortly afterward came the anthrax attacks.  No one felt safe.  We all lived in fear.  We were horrified at what had happened in New York and Washington.  Yet stories of courage came from those hours.  We heard of the bravery of first responders in New York.  The stories of survival from the towers and in the Pentagon.  Perhaps most stunning was the story of Flight 93 and courage of those passengers who likely gave their lives to save others from another attack.

We were unified as a nation in resolve as firefighters raised a flag over the ruins of the towers.  We rallied around the President – who had not won the popular vote in the last election – and were heartened by his grabbing a bullhorn and letting the terrorists know that would hear from us and that they would be held responsible.  Parties didn’t matter. We were all Americans and we had been attacked.

The fear from that day changed us in many ways.  We demanded that the government deal with terrorists aggressively and surrendered many freedoms.  I most cognizant of the scrutiny we now endure to board a plane as I write this in the air today.  We enacted laws like the Patriot Act which gave our government the ability to intrude upon our privacy in a much greater way.

I guess it’s easy for me to reflect upon my own reactions and memories today being in the air on this day.  I certainly had some trepidations about flying today.  However, what happened 15 years ago is so much larger than our personal memories, fears and reflections.  3,000 Americans perished suddenly that day.  They went to work like any ordinary day. They had no idea it would be their last day.  Their families had no idea they would never see their loved ones again.  None of these had anything to do with the complaints of the terrorists.  They were ordinary Americans.

In addition to the ordinary citizens that were lost, many first responders died doing what they were trained to do – save lives, sometimes at the expense of their own.   Many more have died since due to diseases from inhaling toxic fumes and dust from the debris as they sought to find survivors and recover the remains of those we lost.

As we reflect this day on the events of 15 years ago, think about the families who lost and may we be ever mindful of those we love.  Don’t take them for granted.  Don’t put off telling them how much you care.

Also as we reflect on the events of that day, I remember vividly how we came together as a nation.  No one decided to use the national anthem as a political statement.  People realized that as Americans we are all in this together.  We stood as God Bless America was sung and many, including me, were brought to tears.  We did not focus on our differences.  We focused on what we had in common.

I don’t mean to minimize racial divides in our country or the inequities that are present.  We are not perfect and we need to address those issues.  However, need to reclaim that sense of what we have in common.  We need to remember why we pursue justice and equality – because that is our heritage.  We need to remember that those 3,000 died not because of what is wrong with America.  They died because the perpetrators hated everything that unites us.  The dead included many faiths, races, LGBT and straight.

The rancor of this election has had little to do with our shared values.  We need to embrace those values – without losing the sense of urgency to address wrongs in our society or wrongfully denying they exist.

Let us remember those who left us that day.  Let us remember the courage of those sacrificed all to save lives.  Let us also remember for whom they sacrificed themselves – fellow Americans of all faiths, races, preferences and genders.  For those in the NFL protesting today, you picked the wrong day. It’s pretty clear you don’t understand what the flag means.  Ask those firemen.



Re-Launch: I’m back



The silence is over.  I’m back.  As many of my social media followers know, I didn’t disappear and have been very active there.  Unfortunately, life has not permitted the opportunity to write long and more thoughtful articles. It has also been difficult for me to put into useful discourse our current political situation.  As I mentioned in the Writer’s Block post, I’ve had numerous drafts that have not been posted that I just didn’t feel properly expressed our current situation.  Having been sucked into too many meaningless social media discussions, I realize the time for more reflective writing has come.

After many years of progress and change in the areas of discrimination and race relations, our nation is currently experiencing a crisis in race relations – police shootings, shootings of police, riots in Baltimore and Milwaukee, both Presidential candidates accusing each other of bigotry and now the drama of Colin Kaepernick and now other athletes kneeling or raising fists (on September 11th of all days).  I will be posting a series of articles on race relations.  Our handling of this issue is critical to our future liberty.

I’ll also be posting extensively on the future of the GOP and the alt right.  I have the privilege of posting a guest writer on this subject.  Look for it Monday,

An End to Writer’s Block

Sorry for the absence over the last few weeks.  For those who follow me on Twitter and Facebook, you know I have not met with doom or foul play.  Between working on campaigns, despair over their results and having to take care of some matters in my personal life, it has unfortunately left me with little time and a severe case of writer’s block.  I had numerous articles that never left the draft stage.  However, don’t despair.  The stupor has cleared.  Articles will be forthcoming soon.  There is work to be done.  Freedom is on the line. I will not be silent.