I’m posting a YouTube video with some thought by Dr. Robert Malone, that was posted on January 14, 2022. I don’t know if this video will be censored on YouTube, but for the moment, here it is:
Our American politics goes into the crazy zone on both sides so often in recent years, that I often shake my head in disgust at the hyperbole and wonder if America will ever regain a large center, where calmer leaders emerge and foster a sense of good citizenship rather than this constant right-wing saber-rattling and paranoia of evil radical leftists destroying America and left-wing “transformation” politics and paranoia of dangerous right-wingers lurking everywhere. I’m very much politically homeless at present – thoroughly sick of plenty of politicians on both sides. I’m not into being outraged everyday and frankly living like that seems totally counterproductive and exhausting. And it sure won’t unite America.
This is a very unsettling time we’re in and although most partisans prefer to reduce all problems as being caused by the other side, things are rarely that simple. Even if you don’t care about politics at all or if you have strong partisan political views, I expect the spin information war is impacting everyone, and when it comes to efforts to impose rules and measures to infringe on fundamental rights American have, well, that effort is coming from the left, where this corrupt spin information war began. There are now more people taking notice and speaking out on the politicized efforts by large (liberal-owned) social media platforms to control and silence more and more people for what is deemed “spreading misinformation.”
This current trend I expected for over 20 years with the crap Dem spin information war, that began with the Clinton crowd, spread to the entire Dem and liberal political sphere and then finally spread to the Republican side with Trump embracing the same corrupt spin information war model as Dems in 2016. Trumps supporters cheered that Trump was “owning the libs” and “breaking all the rules,” while still being outraged at that very same behavior by Democrats and liberals… Trump acting as corruptly as them became the new Republican standard.
The American political spin information war has advanced to a critical point. Every trusted information entity has lost a lot of credibility in recent years, especially the news media. Finding ways to access accurate, reliable information is going to become the biggest lifesaving tool aside from the most basic, food, water, and shelter needs. Having sources of information you can trust when the political class is engaged in spinning everything and the news media is thoroughly corrupted by spin and collapsing journalistic standards makes finding reliable information challenging. The online information ecosystem is filled to the brim with inaccurate, false, and unreliable information and it’s beginning to create what I dubbed an “information void.” We’re surrounded by mountains of information, but we don’t have the the time or resources to even sift through a fraction of it and determine which information is reliable. Where we used to trust in professional news organizations to provide reliable information, that trust has eroded a great deal and polls continue to indicate Americans no longer have much trust in the news media – across the board.
The continuing Covid political drama has reached the point where I believe the harms to children, the school disruptions, the devastating impact on small businesses due to government-imposed mitigation rules/shutdowns, the continuing politicization of public health and the mental health fall-out from millions of people living their lives in a political/media-induced state of fear for almost two years now has left trust in many of our most vital institutions in a downward spiral. Added to all of this, the world economic system shows major signs of instability. There isn’t much good news on the political or economic fronts in America, but the most at risk and crucial front that doesn’t get much attention is how vulnerable we all are in America when it comes to access to reliable information.
I started reading a 2020 book, A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream, by Yuval Levin, which delves into the role of institutions in our society and the need to bolster them. For decades I’ve been concerned about the growing partisan divides and lack of trust in American institutions, so I keep reading articles and books, which deal with these topics, both trying to understand what’s happening, gain some historical background and most of all looking for potential paths that might lead to less political and cultural chaos in America.
I recently finished two Sebastian Junger books, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging and Freedom. Junger delves into the idea of community in Tribe and explores what he thinks many people express when they talk about their feelings of isolation and lack of belonging in modern society. In Freedom, he takes the reader along on a personal adventure, while exploring what freedom means. Both books were quick reads. They left me with a lot to think about, but no closer to how all of that helps us with personal ways to weather the worsening economic, cultural and political storms we’re inexorably entering.
Reading about big picture theories and ideas about what’s happening interests me, but truthfully in my everyday life, I’m looking for uncomplicated ways to keep my life less stressful and functioning as normally as possible in these crazy times and probably that’s what most people are doing. However, along with the normal activities, I spend time trying to plan and prepare for bad things too, many of which feel like they’re not on the far horizon, but much closer.
Being able to access accurate and timely information is critical when it comes to not only preparedness, but truly it informs our decision-making from daily life decisions to critical decisions in an emergency.
The movement to silence views under the guise of “stopping dangerous misinformation” on social media platforms began a few years ago and it’s accelerating. I doubt most people realize how unreliable the American news media ecosystem really is and this applies across the political spectrum, not just to the news that doesn’t fit your partisan leanings. As institutions all around us have begun to fray, become corrupted, fail to adhere to their own ethical standards, well, journalism isn’t immune from that decay too. There’s a pervasive reliance on “reporting” what some other news agency or reporter working somewhere else “reported” and very little independent verification going on before running with “breaking news.” It’s typical now for news agencies and journalists to keep issuing updates and corrections, because they ran with information they hadn’t verified and then find out it was inaccurate or not true. Even worse is too often photos or videos are attached to news stories, which are not even from the event in the news story or the narrative attached to the photo or video is inaccurate or untrue.
On social media in the past few years political left messaging efforts have centered on protecting Americans from “misinformation.” I noticed it when Twitter banned Alex Jones, a far-right conspiracy guy, whom most people considered nutty. I thought Jones was a whacko, so it wasn’t hard to rationalize that Twitter decision, but now across social media platforms the movement has been to censor and remove content and ban people from platforms – always claiming they were spreading “dangerous misinformation.” Through 4 years of Trump, it was “dangerous Russian misinformation” and in 2020 the political left in America switched to censoring and banning “dangerous Covid misinformation.”
Today on Twitter I saw another disturbing effort to try to silence Joe Rogan, a famous podcaster, whom I had never listened to. He got Covid and received treatment from his doctor, which included ivermectin. He spoke about his experience. Then he interviewed Dr. Robert Malone and YouTube, Twitter, and facebook removed the video of this interview. Joe Rogan has the full interview on Spotify. Dr. Malone is a virologist, who has worked with Dr. Fauci and he’s been critical of the vaccines. Any prominent people who speak out or question the government Covid policies and rules, end up being attacked and then efforts are made to censor them on social media. Now there’s a group letter by some activist doctors and science educators, calling on Spotify to stop Rogan from spreading “misinformation.”
As the shortage situation escalates and economic conditions continue to worsen, I expect more groups of people and even more ordinary people in America to be targeted online for censorship and banishment. Thinking about ways to continue to communicate outside of relying on big tech social media platforms or apps on our cell phones will become critical as this crazy spin war rages further out of control. The spin war battles will expand to targeting more and more social media “influencers.”
Relying on liberal owned and controlled platforms, who are actively participating in a partisan political spin information war is a huge vulnerability. The information piece of preparedness, of being able to openly communicate and share information online, I expect will become harder if censorship efforts expand. I’ve been thinking about how people will communicate not only in worst case situations, like the grid goes down, but how to talk and share information outside of the social media controlled space and it’s challenging. Most of us are so used to relying on the convenience and accessibility of apps on our cell phones and the large social media platforms that we haven’t thought about freely being able to talk to each other and to find reliable information as a vital part of our preparedness, except in a worst-case scenario type situation.
I believe knowing people around you can create a vital network close at hand in any emergency, but we also need to be able to network with other people we trust across America and know what’s going on across the country and in the world. If you want any sign that the mainstream news media is unreliable, just look at the assiduous way they avoid giving a lot of coverage to the anti-lockdown, anti-Covid rules protests that have been happening in Australia and several European countries. Their doubling down on not talking about Hunter Biden’s laptop technique has now become perfected and is used by liberal news media to not talk about Covid-related news that doesn’t advance the partisan Democrat spin narrative.
Finding solutions to come up with alternative ways to communicate quickly and find accurate information isn’t as easy as prepping for items we can still purchase, but it’s vital and something that’s been on my mind a long time (years actually, as I wondered how this corrupt spin war would advance).
Former President Trump has tried to cultivate loyal news media entities by hounding and haranguing FOX News owners. He’s sucked up to One America News and cheered on Newsmax too. However, the liberal-owned news and social media organizations dominate (and control) most of the information world we operate in.
To see just how difficult it is to find alternatives, with the same ease and convenience of the popular social media platforms most Americans use, all you have to do is watch Trump-connected efforts to create a Trump-friendly news space and a social media platform to compete with the liberal-owned ones, who banned him. Direct TV is expected to drop One America News (OAN) from its satellite service. Amazon kicked Parler, a right-wing owned social media upstart, off of its web-hosting service. There’s now efforts to censor Joe Rogan, the largest podcaster in the country and a pressure campaign against Spotify to censor Rogan. Then there’s GETTR, a social media upstart by former Trump aide, Jason Miller, which I am not joining, because I want more details on Miller’s financial dealings with international business people, especially Guo Wengui, a dissident Chinese billionaire, who allegedly has close ties to the CCP.
Interestingly, Joe Rogan joined GETTR after being angered by efforts to censor him and within days Rogan was slamming GETTR for faking follower counts and harvesting his Twitter tweets to GETTR.
For ordinary Americans, who have an online presence or say a following on a YouTube channel, those can be demonetized, censored or even banned, leaving those people little recourse or alternatives. Even in a much more basic sense, trying to find alternative ways to communicate for most of us would likely have to rely on much less ambitious efforts than trying to create our own start-up social media platform, but still it’s important to think about things like having some basic information on people who matter to us saved somewhere other than online or in our cell phone. Having a good, old-fashioned address book, where you write down addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, etc. of close family, friends and people we want to keep in touch with, especially in an emergency, might be a simple first step.
I’m totally tech-challenged, so I don’t have any big ideas on how to prepare for the worsening access to reliable information situation, but in my gut I feel it’s going to become a huge challenge for all of us.
Update 1/17/2022, 9:21pm: If you think my concerns over maintaining ways to communicate are ridiculous, consider for a moment that all it takes to get on the wrong side of Covid information rules is to disagree or question anything the Biden administration, CDC, Dr. Fauci, Dem-run state Covid rules, or to point out their lies on some social media platforms or even podcasts and other online forums. Countering the Covid narratives can get you labelled a right-wing extremist in America, but in several other Western countries, the crackdown on publicly disagreeing with government policy and/or protesting can lead to even more stringent government actions.
Germany is considering shutting down telegram service:
“Germany raised the prospect of closing down the Telegram messaging service over concerns about its use as a platform for extremist groups. “
“The country could seek to block the service if the government reaches the conclusion that it breeches national and European Union law.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-01-12/germany-raises-prospect-of-shutting-telegram-over-hate-threats
The so-called “extremist groups” are people planning protests against the Covid lockdowns and rules. In America, between the Covid government overreach and the continuing liberal political effort to broadly label Trump supporters and other conservative white people as racists and “white supremacists” or “white nationalists,” this type of effort to silence Americans doesn’t seem that far-fetched at this point. Before Covid, I would have said none of this stuff could ever happen in America and now it’s beginning to happen.
Today I read this Matt Taibbi piece, A Tale of Two Authoritarians, which delves into the post 9/11 security measure overreaches and the many similarities to government “social mitigation pandemic measures. Taibbi doesn’t cater to partisan political sides, but instead just lays out the chronology of new security measures since 9/11 and how those American government overreaches expanded since then. He writes about the Pelosi 1/6 event and the reemergence of Dick Cheney:
“Seeing leading Democrats nuzzling the man George W. Bush called “Iron Ass” summed up the essential problem of the ordinary person trying to find a political home in this landscape. Even if you find the Trump phenomenon troubling, his opposition is not only authoritarian, but organized and armed with the intellectual tools to understand and appreciate how the technological elimination of democracy might be achieved in the 21st century.”
“We’re living through a period where an unpleasantly likely outcome for the ordinary American is the invocation of emergency powers to eliminate basic rights. From which side is that threat most likely to come? The pattern during Trump’s presidency was hyping the Russian menace to justify increased surveillance and censorship. Russia has since been switched out in favor of two new emergency bugbears. The first is the rise of “domestic terrorism,” and if you don’t think Cheney-style democracy-canceling is on the minds of officials heading into the next presidential election, you haven’t been reading the growing pile of articles quoting military types advertising their preparations for counter-coup in 2024.”
“The second emergency of course is the pandemic, which ought to have been exhibit A in Trump’s uninterest in being a dictator — he could have legally invoked all sorts of powers and did not. Instead, it’s become part of a widening propaganda campaign designed to enlist the wine-cave MSNBC set behind full-blown Big Brother governance.”
I wish I had even a tiny bit of Taibbi’s writing ability, but I don’t, so I recommend you read his piece a few times and then think about the issues he raised. He highlighted concerns about the new medical security state efforts that so many Democrats and government health officials have promoted since the pandemic began. He mentions Julian Assange and although I have never been sympathetic to his situation, I do admit that after 9/11, while having some concerns about the Patriot Act and many of the military actions, I still largely supported GWB and trusted our “experts” in intelligence and our military.
I grew up trusting authorities and I had a belief that there were mostly people with expertise, sound judgment, and most of all good character serving in public positions than there are. I was definitely too trusting and believed in public servants actually nobly serving the public interests.
When President Obama came along, he expanded on many of the Bush era Global War on Terror efforts and there were reports of more and more drone strikes in multiple countries, I began to wake up to the abuses of power. There were few clear answers from the Obama administration and Congress, whether controlled by Democrats or Republicans, has failed to rein in any of the post-9/11 emergency powers and instead there’s a willingness to expand these powers in Washington and zero ability to effectively do any true oversight or demand any accountability.
When the pandemic happened, once again, I believe that initially I was way too willing to trust the medical experts that were rolled out and a large part of my trust was that I believed these government health officials were non-political and dedicated to public health. Silly me. Plus from both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats had nothing but praise for Dr. Fauci and other health officials. I was too trusting again, that’s for sure, as we are now approaching two years into pandemic politics and seemingly endless efforts by liberal (mainstream) media, Biden officials, Fauci and CDC quacks, plus Democrat officials across America to incite fear, hysteria, impose new rules and to never let go of their failed pandemic policies (some of which began at the beginning of the pandemic and were approved by the Trump administration).
As corruption continues to spread among our federal governmental institutions, it’s becoming more and more disturbing to realize, not only how corrupt so many of the touted “experts” are, but how whenever anyone now gives glowing accolades about any revered official in Washington or that some official is respected by both sides of the aisle, it’s like a signal for me to put up my guard and be wary that we’re in for another snow job. It’s like when James Comey, the former director of the FBI, hailed Peter Strzok and other high-level FBI officials caught up in the efforts to spy on the Trump campaign and spread the Trump-Russian Collusion spin lies, as highly respected career professionals. As information trickled out, those career professionals turned out to be highly-partisan, liars and most definitely not adhering to any sort of professional behavior.
Twitter gets dismissed by most people as just ridiculous social media, but by following hundreds of journalists, pundits and politicians, and watching the interactions I came to realize why Trump relied on Twitter to wage his one-man spin war. He flipped Dem and liberal media spin cycles constantly with just a few tweets and that ability is why Democrats and powerful liberal elites were so desperate to try to muzzle Trump.
However, the more disturbing people on Twitter were retired generals, who joined with Democrats and liberal media to tweet their rage and anger about Trump and some, like General Michael Hayden, tweeted frequently to undercut Trump’s decisions. It was shocking to watch a retired general and former CIA director engage in berating, petty name-calling, and actively trying to undermine a sitting President of the United States. Hayden wasn’t alone, as former Obama CIA director, John Brennan, also spent many hours engaged in the Twitter spin war against Trump too.
When I tried to explain to my sister, who doesn’t use social media, about the importance of Twitter, she repeatedly has dismissed this, as just social media garbage and she points out that most Americans aren’t on Twitter and that’s true. However, the ones who are the big players in the news media, in politics and especially in the partisan messaging operations (they set the narratives in the news media) are all on Twitter a whole lot. This small group of elites, who dominate the politics Twitter space, are the ones who drive the mass media spin war, especially news media.
The social media efforts to silence people started in 2018 on Twitter with Alex Jones and Jones is an easy person to loathe. He spouted all sorts of crazy conspiracy theories. It was easy to dismiss his being banned from Twitter, but then the banning continued and last year Trump was banned after 1/6. Trump’s a lightening rod, he tweeted all sorts of lies too, but then more and more people who challenged the liberal Covid orthodoxy began to be banned. The liberal big tech, politically-motivated social media purges have escalated and they all go in one direction – those who challenge the liberal/Dem narratives.
Once again, while most people on the right didn’t care about Alex Jones being banned, as the bans continued, on YouTube, Bret Weinstein, a evolutionary biologist, who raised some concerns about Covid vaccines, had his YouTube channel demonetized and I believe a few of his videos were removed from YouTube too.
A week ago, Dr. Robert Malone, a prominent virologist, was banned from Twitter for ostensibly spreading “Covid misinformation.” Videos where Malone was interviewed by other YouTubers have been removed too.
Sitting Congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a flame-throwing, Trump-supporter from GA, was banned from Twitter a few days ago.
Matt Walsh, a right-wing political commentator was suspended from Twitter today, for apparently some transgender language infraction. Walsh, upon his return to Twitter, tweeted:
We’re heading into some disquieting and disturbing times. Everyone who uses social media or online platforms should realize that at any moment their online presence can be wiped out and they can be silenced across multiple social media platforms. Plus efforts for new social media platforms that aren’t controlled by the liberal big tech giants keep getting derailed at every turn.
Another disquieting thing I’ve noticed is beyond the efforts to silence opposing views, around the world, especially the Western world, there have been large protests against Covid lockdowns and rules, but you see very little liberal (mainstream) media news coverage of these protests. You’d think with Omicron being the hottest topic (besides 1/6), there would be a lot of news coverage of the large anti-Covid rules protests.
I’m going to end with this quote from Taibbi’s piece, which sums up the real stakes with this new era of trying to silence certain “undesirable” people on social media:
“Professionals” do make errors, about everything from terrorists to viruses. In fact, a fair number of the people seeking this enhanced authority are dumber than average. You don’t have to like Donald Trump to recognize the dire threat represented by a clique of mediocrities with just enough brains to use their offices to organize the criminalization of their opposition.”
So today is January 6th and I remember exactly how I felt that day – pissed off at Trump’s “Stop the Steal” sideshow, but I’d been pissed off about his sideshow antics since 2015. Do I believe January 6th was an “Insurrection?” Absolutely not. Do I believe it was the greatest threat to our democracy since, well, just listen to any ranting Democrat or hysterical liberal journalist and take your pick of which dire event in American history January 6th was as bad as, from 9/11 to the US Civil War? Heck, no!
So, yes, the mob that descended on the Capitol after several inflammatory speeches that Trump had his people organize that day devolved into chaos and violence. There’s no excusing attacking Capitol police officers, destroying public property, stealing public property or any of the other mayhem that ensued during those hours. It was a disgraceful spectacle.
Despite the House Democrats overblown assertions about January 6th being some organized terrorist attack, back in August a Reuters report stated:
“WASHINGTON, Aug 20 (Reuters) – The FBI has found scant evidence that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the result of an organized plot to overturn the presidential election result, according to four current and former law enforcement officials.
Though federal officials have arrested more than 570 alleged participants, the FBI at this point believes the violence was not centrally coordinated by far-right groups or prominent supporters of then-President Donald Trump, according to the sources, who have been either directly involved in or briefed regularly on the wide-ranging investigations.”
For all the hotair coming out of House Dems investigation, I haven’t seen any reporting that refutes this Reuters report on the FBI finding scant evidence that January 6th was an organized plot.
I think most Americans remember these same Democrats opining about January 6th being the most violent assault on our democracy and pontificating about the attacks on Capitol police officers are the same people who were justifying attacks on police officers during the 2020 BLM rioting, the wanton destruction of public property with tearing down statues and even thugs burning down a police station in Minneapolis. All of that was not an “attack on our democracy” according to Democrats in Washington and the liberal media who tried to sell the BLM rioting and destruction as “mostly peaceful protests.”
The Democrats and liberal media putting on today’s January 6th show are also the same people who spent 4 years peddling Trump/Russian Collusion lies to try to undermine and destroy Trump’s presidency.
That’s why all this Pelosi January 6th “commemoration” won’t matter at all, because it’s all disingenuous and hypocritical spin theater. I detested Trump’s January 6th effort to interfere in Congress carrying out a largely ceremonial certification of the Electoral College votes and I detested the rabble-rousing speeches too, but watching Dems and the liberal media create a year of endless spin hysteria about it has made me detest them as much Trump’s sideshow that day and all the mayhem that followed
To be clear, yes, the Democrats rammed through massive election rule changes under the guise of the pandemic emergency situation and the potential for massive election fraud certainly wasn’t a far-fetched concern, but to date no one on team Trump has ever produced evidence that would overturn the 2020 election outcome.
There is however plenty of evidence of how Democrats, liberal media and big tech/social media platforms worked to amplify Dem mass media messaging efforts and muzzle Trump messaging efforts. This is certainly corrupt, but it’s not illegal and it’s not proof the election was stolen.
I know people who love Trump and I know people who hate Trump, but for me I wish for an end to the spin information war that drives the culture war. Trump embraced using the same corrupt spin war efforts as Democrats. It’s pointless to argue who is more corrupt Dems with their spin war lies or Trump with his one-man show spin war lies. It’s all bad for America and won’t do a single thing to make America stronger, more united, more prosperous (except for the politicians, big tech and media giants, who get rich fueling the constant partisan rage).
Today, I was wishing we had better leaders, who put the welfare of the American people ahead of their own political interests. For that to happen more Americans will have to quit being avid consumers of spin war garbage or even worse believing it.
Happy New Year! Thank-you for your time, if you’ve stopped by here at any time to read my blog posts.
As we begin a new year, first I’ve got to admit 2021 has been the hardest year of my life. I’ve been debating about what to write, hoping to avoid the weepy sentiments about loss, so here goes. When my husband died in March, many people told me, “He’s better off; now he’s longer suffering,” which seems a rather common thing people think and say after someone dies after a lengthy illness, but it did nothing to console me or help me face the emptiness I felt each and every day. We married in 1980 and were together over 40 years, which when you say it sounds like a long time, but once it’s over seems to have flashed by in the blink of an eye. And I longed for more time to say and do all the things, that now filled my mind. There were many days filled with, “I wish we had done this” or “Why hadn’t I told him that.”
When the hospice care began in 2020, they gave me booklets and a stack of information to read, like a booklet explaining the dying process. and information on grieving. None of that helped me feel less devastated or at peace, but gradually life moves on whether you’re at terms with it or not.
What I’ve been thinking a lot about now is finding ways to move forward, even if all I can manage some days is a few baby steps. I’ve begun revisiting old hobbies and interests that fell to the wayside as my husband needed more and more care over the last several years, but some are much older interests that got pushed to the wayside as we raised our family and were busy with everyday life.
My husband was a gruff, definitely rough around the edges, paratrooper when I met him. He was a hardcore soldier, completely dedicated to the mission and that was one of the things I admired most about him and I keep reminding myself that he would expect me to, using the military phrase he said many, many times, “You’ve got to suck it up and drive on!’ I’m working on that each day, but I’ve also realized as we’re entering another wave of Covid with another variant, that a whole lot of people in America have not developed any ability to deal with adversity or tackle obstacles life throws their way.
As we begin 2022, I am hoping a whole lot of Americans move past the “crisis” mind-set and focus more on living as normal a life as possible and try hard to block out as much of the pandemic drama on the left and the everything is falling apart drama on the right. I firmly believe the best thing each of us can do is to preserve as much of our normal everyday life as possible. Take some time each day to enjoy the small things in life – a pretty sky, sunshine, a kind word that comes your way.
That doesn’t mean pretend this Covid wave isn’t happening, nor does it mean many of the concerns among the political right aren’t happening too; it means preserving your equilibrium, calm, ability to enjoy each day without being consumed with dread and media-driven panic. Maintaining control over how you react will help you cope and adapt to adversity and the constant media fueled dramas that bombard you when you turn on the TV news or consume social media news and politics.
I hope more people feel the same way I do and work hard in this new year to be of good cheer and remain hopeful.
Here in southeast GA we started off the new year with a beautiful sunny day in the 80s. Pretty wonderful! Although it’s traditional in this part of the country to have black-eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread for New Year’s Day, I’m cooking a Korean beef dish with spinach, mushrooms and glass noodles. I couldn’t find the recipe I’ve used for decades, but I found this recipe online, which is pretty close. Yep, after my Thanksgiving turkey misgivings, I’m now making whatever I feel like for holidays. I have one son here for dinner and he loves this Korean beef dish, so he doesn’t mind a bit that I’m skipping my PA-German traditional New Year’s meal – pork roast, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut.
Wishing all the best to all y’all (now that’s a really Southern phrase).
Years ago I purchased an e-book at Amazon, How To Analyze Information: A Step-By-Step Guide To Life’s Most Vital Skill, by the late Herbert E. Meyer, which I’ve referred to in previous blog posts. Unfortunately, I no longer see it available at Amazon or online. Meyer was a contrarian. Being a contrarian myself and often having opinions that swim against the prevailing views, I found Meyer worth paying attention to (and very interesting besides). In this small guide he laid out some very simple, but crucial steps to take to analyze information, which most of us often overlook. Here is his 7-step process:
Step One: Figure Out Where You Are
Step Two: Be Sure You’re Seeing Clearly
Step Three: Decide What You Need To Decide
Step Four: Determine What You Need To Know
Step Five: Collect Your Information
Step Six: Turn The Information Into Knowledge
Step Seven: Add The Final Ingredient (Judgment)
I think most of us take a lot of short-cuts when analyzing information and it leads us to assuming we have a lot more knowledge on many things than we really do. In our fast-paced, digital information environment, astoundingly many experts in our most information-crucial environments (like intelligence guru pundits), seem to skip these steps and rush to embrace partisan-packaged conclusions that either bolster popular political narratives or give them an opportunity to preen in the glow of the media spotlight, as journalists clamor for these intel whizzes to impart their wisdom to us.
Meyer gave very common situations as examples to explain these steps. Figuring out where you are isn’t just about your geographical location, it can be where you’re at metaphorically. In my last post, I recommended simplifying your lifestyle by beginning with building emergency savings and paying down debt as first emergency preparedness steps, in my view. So with simplifying your lifestyle, you have to really know where you are – from finances, to responsibilities, to physical health/limitations.
Seeing clearly takes effort, because everyone has what Meyer referred to as “prisms” that can distort how they view a situation or information. Prisms can be beliefs, biases, ideologies (political views) or even people we trust or distrust that will impede our ability to see information clearly. Meyer gave an example of having a friend you trust, but everyone else knows is a crook, would make you unlikely to see the information everyone else is seeing, until it’s too late. Often we glide by negative information on people we like, while taking a microscope to the tiniest, flimsiest piece of dirt on someone we dislike. Recognizing your own “prisms” and working to see clearly opens the way for you to move on to figuring out what you need to decide and then what information you need to collect for your decision-making.
Most of us, I suspect, start around Step Four or Five, when it comes to analyzing information, because we assume we know where we are and that we see clearly. Plus, most people, myself included, often assume we know what we need to decide, yet often later realize we should have been thinking about an entirely different matter first, should have taken more time to think things through, should have done more research, should have looked at other options – especially with financial decisions in our vast consumer culture and the ease with which we can swipe or click or make online purchases.
Meyer’s final ingredient was a chapter on judgment, which he described this way:
“Judgment is the sum total of who we are – the combined product of our character, our personality, our instincts and our knowledge. Because judgment involves more than knowledge, it isn’t the same thing as education. You cannot learn judgment by taking a course, or by reading a book. This is why some of the most highly educated people in the world have terrible judgment, and why some people who dropped out of school at the age of sixteen have superb judgment.”
Meyer, Herbert E.. How to Analyze Information: A Step-by-Step Guide to Life’s Most Vital Skill . Storm King Press. Kindle Edition.
Of course, the thing is we can all learn and improve our decision-making and judgment by becoming more aware of our short-comings, biases, and for all of us, honestly facing our past mistakes rather than making excuses for them.
Some people are reckless with money and some people, by nature, are very cautious, so being honest with yourself about your money habits will put you in a better position to knowing where you are and seeing clearly. I have known many people who go from one financial train wreck to another and invariably they blame “bad luck” for all of it, never taking personal responsibility for their bad decisions. Facing the truth is hard, but crucial to ever being able to figure out where you really are with your personal finances. Then you can decide what you really need to decide and set about gathering information, which is more than just reading one source that fits your “prisms.”
You’ve got to collect information from numerous sources and start figuring out what information is more accurate and reliable. This puts you on the road to acquiring knowledge. This process will hopefully lead to better decisions. I think it’s really helpful to have some trusted sounding boards, people who have experience or more expertise than you do, in your life.
Taking money advice from a friend who is always broke and behind in paying their monthly bills isn’t a good candidate to be a sounding board on good financial planning, but a friend like that may help you feel better about your own poor financial decisions and lead you to making more bad money decisions. I have seen this with people who are shopaholics and they seek out friends who reinforce their bad spending habits. Don’t seek me to be that shopping friend, lol. I have always hated shopping, except for craft and needlework stuff, which I have plenty of and don’t want more.
This all sounds so simple, yet until I read Meyer’s short little guide, I realized that I often completely skipped his Steps One and Two, which led me to become an excellent cherry-picker of information, looking for information that fit my “prisms” and often not really having a clear idea where I was, especially in making personal decisions.
I like to slow down now and take my time with making decisions. In the prepper world, I hear a lot of “hurry up and stock up on this or that now, before it’s all gone” and a lot of fearmongering, that the sky’s falling. I also see a lot of online preppers who talk almost exclusively about their purchases (hauls) and the YouTube “haul video” thing is in almost every YouTube community I’ve seen. We are a nation of shoppers, that’s for sure. As I said in my last post, emergency preparedness can save your life, but it’s got to start with being responsible in your daily life and that begins with getting your finances in better order, not shopping for “preps.”
I do have emergency savings and basic emergency preps, but still not as much water as I think I should (I am aiming for a 6 month supply). I’m still thinking about next steps in my preparedness efforts and have been thinking about buying a Berkey. Like many people, I think about emergency preparedness a lot more than I did pre-pandemic chaos and pre-BLM civil unrest. And like many Americans, I’ve been pretty fed-up and grown completely distrustful of our government rising to the occasion in major crises.
Of course, you’d have to be living under a rock not to be aware of all the disturbing events that have disrupted and impacted most people’s daily lives. Inflation is impacting everywhere, from fuel, to electricity, to consumer goods, to grocery prices and I haven’t seen any financial experts predicting things will improve anytime soon. It’s pretty unified warnings that inflation is expected to worsen and shortages will continue into 2022. The pandemic “stuff” is still ongoing too.
Even if the worst case financial collapse doesn’t happen, protracted national economic problems really can be a personal “sky is falling crisis,” if you’re not prepared – especially if your finances are already on shaky ground. Building some emergency savings and eliminating personal debt are two of the best “preps” you can do to increase your emergency preparedness to weather economic hard times.
I like Dave Ramsey, but many people disagree with his 7 Baby Steps Plan. I bought his book, Financial Peace, at a yard sale many years ago, read it and found it useful. However you decide to get your personal finances in order – eliminating personal debt frees up money, that you can put towards savings, building up basic emergency supplies, or other goals. If Ramsey isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of other financial planning and management sources.
Meyer’s 7-step guide helped me reassess how I was analyzing information and I found it very useful. If I find it available online, I’ll share a link.
A few days ago I watched a useful YouTube prepping video, 5 Things You Must Do NOW to Prepare for 2022, by City Prepping, which was a follow-up to his video on the top 10 threats we’ll face in 2022. He begins his list of 5 things to do with simplifying your finances by budgeting, cutting expenses and eliminating debt:
Talking about financial stuff isn’t an area where I feel like I have any expertise, but here are some of my learned from the school-of-hard-knocks personal finance thoughts. Money habits are like most of our other everyday habits, that most of us either grew-up practicing or kind of slid into without a whole lot of thought or consideration. Once I actually start learning more and honestly assessing many of my ingrained (and hard to break) habits, I almost always realize there are better choices available. It’s a real struggle to change ingrained habits, but I’ve found even modest changes can reap big benefits. Changing some of my bad money habits hasn’t been as hard as trying to change some of my bad eating and fitness habits, which I’m working on.
I’ve seen online prepper and various survival advertising centered on the argument that we’re headed toward a catastrophic economic collapse as a reason to not trust in banks or even cash, but to think about dramatic (and risky if that worst case financial catastrophe doesn’t happen) financial moves to survive. Sure, there might be a massive economic collapse, but placing your entire personal financial planning effort based on that worst-case scenario might lead you to be woefully unprepared for the multitude of everyday (and much more likely) emergencies that are way more likely to impact you. I can’t buy new tires or pay an emergency medical bill with gold or silver coins, so for me I prefer to stick to cash and traditional financial savings and investment options. Living on a modest income, I prefer to have roadside assistance and rental car coverage on my car insurance policy and having money in emergency savings over dabbling in bitcoin or other investment options sold as preparing for a catastrophic economic collapse.
Yes, the worst case is definitely possible, but I’ve experienced many of the more likely emergency situations and decided where I want to focus most with my emergency preparedness efforts. This preparing for the most likely emergencies first rather than the worst-case emergencies approach makes more sense to me. I don’t believe people, who haven’t even learned to weather the more common emergencies in life, can become prepared for more dire emergencies, just by buying all the right survival gear or abandoning safer financial savings and investments. In other words, you can’t buy your way to preparedness.
Experience and then learning from my mistakes helps me feel more prepared to weather harder challenges. It’s like with needlework, where it’s much easier to start with a small project, master the techniques and gain some confidence when I finish than to start out with some large and very complicated project. This year my husband died, so I’ve had to rethink a whole lot from finances to my entire life and adjust. One of my husband’s hospice nurses, a widow, advised me not to make any big decisions for at least several months and to keep my daily life as simple as possible. I heeded her advice and it has helped me plod through each day.
With personal finances, I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years, but I did learn that even a few modest cuts in non-essential spending, frees up some money and just a bit extra could help dealing with the inflation that’s already happening or allow you to put some money into emergency savings. Simplifying personal finances and your overall lifestyle makes you less dependent on all sorts of products and services you were consuming. Finding cheaper or free forms of entertainment can help with becoming more self-reliant.
Along with the chaos in the supply chains, I have already seen prices going up when grocery shopping and some wild price fluctuations with other purchases. I purchased a Christmas gift at regular price for one of my grandchildren online a few weeks ago and that same item, from the same seller, has now jumped $50 in price.
At the grocery store, I’ve been focusing on stocking up on basics and paying more attention to prices. I also often check prices online now, before even heading to the store, to aid in making my list. Making a list and comparing prices makes a difference, as does spending more time looking through my pantry, fridge and freezer before making a list. Last year I did some grocery shopping online that I picked up at the store, but I prefer to walk through the grocery store and see what all is there. Plus, I want to pick out my own fresh produce and meat.
Many people carefully meal plan too. I haven’t been diligent with meal planning ever, but I’ve become much more aware of thinking about how to use leftovers to make other different meals before I even cook a meal that I know there’ll be leftovers. Another area I’ve been working on for years is cutting down on food waste, especially with throwing away fresh produce, which happened way too often in my kitchen. Before I even consider buying larger amounts of fresh produce that are a “great” deal, I think about how I’ll be able to store it or preserve it to avoid waste.
Sometimes I pass on those “great” deals, because if food ends up thrown away that’s money thrown away. This same concept applies to other purchases too. If you buy mountains of stuff that are “great” deals, but it never gets used that’s waste. With prepper gear, tools, extra supplies or anything else you stockpile, figuring out how much money you want tied up in 10 of this or that vs. money in savings for all those common emergencies life throws your way should be part of your overall financial planning. I would opt for a few good quality tools and more money in savings for the unknowns rather than having 10 of every tool or piece of gear imaginable. No money in savings or even worse prepper gear on credit cards to pay off isn’t really sound preparedness, in my opinion. These kinds of financial decisions are personal choices, but this type of critically making decisions on all of your purchases is a good money habit to develop.
Truthfully, there are way too many unknowns trying to focus on preparing for such a massive catastrophe as a world economic collapse. It’s too big of an event for our minds to grasp all the ways it would impact every system our complex modern world relies on, so I suspect the best preparation there is to focus on the basics and streamlining your lifestyle to live as simply as possible. The Amish and similar types of communities that have a very simple, sustainable lifestyle seem to be less impacted and able to recover more easily from major emergencies than those more reliant on all the complex systems of modern life. The key there is community, so along with all the personal preparedness, trying to build some relationships, friendships and trust within your own community can start with just a few friendly words or even small acts of kindness. The more people you know who are nearby, the less you’ll feel like you’re completely on your own in bad times.
With so many disturbing events in the news and alarming changes in America in recent years, I’d like to talk about the importance of three pillars that can give us strength to survive whatever the future holds – faith, hope and love. While it’s the Christmas season, these three pillars apply to everyone, so if you’re not religious or not Christian, don’t go running off thinking this is going to be a preachy religious post, because it’s not.
I’ve been fascinated with leadership since I was young, wondering why some people seem to stand out as the person to follow in every group. Even with groups of kids, there always seems to be a leader who emerges. Sure, there are plenty of books devoted to leaders and leadership, often dissecting good leadership traits from bad ones, but for me I’ve always been interested in why people not only follow a leader, but why we seem to need leaders. For me a good leader puts the best interests of those he/she leads above his/her own interests and needs.
Still that leaves the question of what leaders offer and even ones with very flawed characters, I believe, offer some degree of faith, hope, and love (or at least acceptance within the group). One of the most alarming aspects of recent years is as crises hit, Americans automatically hunker down in partisan camps and bicker about each other. We don’t seem to have any leaders, political, religious, or even pop culture icons, who offer any sort of vision that we can all believe in (faith). There’s no one offering any truly hopeful messages either, but many pay lip service to sound bites and hollow slogans that fit their own agenda. Worse is many of our political leaders are dedicated to fanning the flames to divide Americans. And last we don’t see any examples of leaders who put the needs of others before their own political or monetary interests.
At the same time as we’re facing all these uncertain times and uncharted changes, due to decades of cultural, economic, and massive technological changes, most Americans don’t experience the same type of community life as even 25 years ago and even more unsettling for millions of people is often families are spread out and as the political polarization has deepened, it’s now seeped down to creating discord even within many families.
So, how do we begin the process of making any positive changes in our own life, within our families and communities?
I wrote some posts on my views on “prepping,” but I still don’t really think of myself as a “prepper” and I haven’t adopted the prepper lingo in my thought processes. I prefer to think in the same terms I always have – doing things that I think make sense for planning for the future. I rank having money saved for the future and emergencies as more important than having a whole lot of fancy prepper gear, but I do believe in stocking up on food, water, basic tools and supplies. I can’t predict the future, so I like having money saved to hopefully help in unforeseen emergencies that happen most often – things breaking in my home or car, weather emergencies and other family type emergencies.
While there are many prepper and homesteading people online who offer great advice, lists and tips on what supplies to buy, I am never going to urge people to go buy anything. I spent a lot of time volunteering with Army family support activities and the American Red Cross, I don’t want to suggest people run out and buy this item or that item, because the main thing I learned is every family situation is different.
Here’s the hard truth, the most common feature I observed was financial chaos and there’s no “go stock up on soup” or “go stock up on dried beans” that’s going to make people adequately prepared for emergencies until they tackle the financial chaos in their own life. I don’t think trying to become a prepper, like people who post photos of their amazing, vast food storage or gigantic food hauls online is sensible if your personal finances are already a train wreck or you’re struggling to pay your bills.
Tackling personal finances takes commitment to getting rid of debt and/or accumulating new debt, and making some effort to cut expenses. Unless people have this basic part of “being prepared” mastered, all their other buying prepping supplies will likely be as haphazard as their finances. That may sound cold and harsh, but that’s what I believe after my experiences. The caveat to this is I have known many people with very small incomes who slowly build up emergency food and supplies, while still living within their means.
Being prepared starts with being responsible and making careful, thoughtful financial decisions, not with shopping for preps.
That isn’t to say we shouldn’t all try to help people who made bad money decisions and need food or other assistance or stop pushing preparedness, it’s just that where a lot of the prepper community seems to start is with the shopping part and focusing on “preps,” when there’s a whole lot of more important things – like developing a preparedness mindset, having some sort of plan (goals) for yourself and your family, and building as much of a stable lifestyle foundation as you can. There’s also the critical need to acquire skill sets.
I think we should spend more time building our own family “survival” plan and that has to start with a serious assessment of family needs, family finances, family goals and then seeing how much can be put toward extra supplies and deciding which supplies are a priority. I know that when I go shopping without a list and a spending limit for that shopping trip, I invariably buy things that later I think weren’t wise purchases. If you’re going to work on shopping out of concern about shortages, at the very least, it’s prudent to inventory your pantry and supplies, then assess and prioritize what you need. Then make a list.
With being financially responsible usually comes learning some useful skill sets along the way. Even better is by learning to delay instant gratification, learning a bit of frugality, and working hard toward goals comes a goal-oriented mindset, not just adopting “prepping” as a hobby. Homesteaders learn the survival mindset quickly, because of the constant hard work and daily routine required to take care of animals, crops and still having to take care of their families too.
In several of my posts on preparedness, I wrote about my belief in acquiring skill sets and I’ve got a long list of new skills I plan to learn in the near future and some old skills I want to work on too. Along with the learning skill sets, I keep reading and trying to learn more.
As a kid I loved reading stories of people who survived in the most challenging situations, from explorers to wartime, to people who overcame devastating personal tragedies. I’ve also always loved American frontier stories, from the first American settlers to the settling of the West. American history is filled with stories of people surviving in the most extreme circumstances. Perhaps working to develop a little bit of the resilient American pioneer spirit would serve us better.
It would be wonderful if America had leaders who would try to inspire, motivate and try to guide people toward becoming more focused, more dedicated to helping others, and more grounded in a belief in faith, hope and love, but we don’t have any leaders like that.
That doesn’t mean we should all give up or live in constant fear or dread. It also doesn’t mean we should run around trying to buy every last item we can think of to stock up on, in fear things will get much worse or the economy will collapse. Finding that hope and love really brings me back to faith. Faith takes a bit of personal courage and the biggest obstacle to faith, in my opinion, is fear. Once I stop letting fear guide my thoughts and actions, I automatically feel more hopeful and when I talk to people who aren’t doom and gloomers, well, it’s not like they are blind to the bad stuff going on all around, it’s that they’ve made the decision to not let it stop them from plodding onward and leading their own lives. I pray and that helps me find some inner peace, but if religion isn’t your thing, some people find meditation useful.
As someone who is by nature an incessant worrier and “worst casing everything,” working on a positive attitude takes a lot of work, but when I start listening to a lot of “the sky is falling” news or advice, well, I learned to step away from that. It’s a constant work in progress to keep a positive attitude if you’re prone to worrying or anxiety, but it’s worth the effort. In a previous post I said I believe in keeping my home functioning as normally as possible – no matter what else is going on. Keeping control over my own home and not letting fear take over matters to me and I think it’s better for kids to have a home that’s a shelter of calm and normalcy, even in a crisis.
Despite no national leadership in sight, each of us can become leaders. First take charge of yourself and that means stop letting fear drive your actions and take responsibility for your own problems. Next take leadership over your own home and if you and your family are functioning fine, then look outward to perhaps trying to lead some efforts in your church, community or even online.
Yes, I know it sounds so easy, but truly it’s a daily effort to keep putting one foot in front of the other and staying focused with so much constant news media hysteria, alarming “new normal” craziness in our lives since Covid arrived and loud background noise that comes with social media. Setting more personal goals and cutting back on social media time are on my list of priorities.
Sometimes when I write blog posts, later I wonder how it might have been perceived in a totally different way than I intended. I was rather flippant about my Thanksgiving turkey purchase and to be clear I was thankful for the turkey and all the many blessings in my life. Having plenty of food in my home is a major blessing, that I am thankful for every day.
I froze a lot of extra turkey and even extra Thanksgiving side dishes, because I knew it was more than would get eaten in the days after Thanksgiving. I regularly freeze leftovers to reheat later for a quick dinner or lunch. Although I don’t care for turkey, it works fine in casseroles and soups as a substitute for chicken, so I will use it.
Now on to a few thoughts about politics and other topics. First up, the Jussie Smollett verdict came in last night and the jury found him guilty of 5 felony charges and not guilty of one felony charge. Smollett’s charges stem from a fake attack he staged, claiming he was attacked by white MAGA supporters. The verdict reaction in the media and professional pundits rushed to frame the verdict in ways most advantageous to their political viewpoint. On the left it was framing the verdict as bolstering the horrible Trump people and on the right it was framed as an indictment of prominent Dem politicians and liberal media, who bought Smollett’s alleged attack story as legit and never waivered in that belief, despite mounting evidence that Smollett staged that attack.
Smollett has been upstaged by the larger culture war and partisan political battle. The left is trying to change the subject away from Smollett’s guilty verdict and back to “systemic racism” themes, while the right is using it as justification to go through retweeting frenzies highlighting all the prominent Dems and media people who bought into and used Smollett’s story to pontificate about the terrible MAGA people.
After decades of watching this corrosive spin war, it’s safe to presume prominent Dems and media people will never apologize or admit they made a mistake in unquestioningly buying into Smollett’s story and a new Dem narrative will be framed shifting away from Smollett, while still demonizing MAGA people. And the fuming Trump-supporter punditry will keep railing about the liberal hypocrisy and dishonesty, but they’re howling into the wind when expecting liberal journalists and Dem pols to show contrition or even acknowledge they were wrong. Each side remains entrenched in this scorched earth spin information war, so on that front – SNAFU.
Now to the larger foreign affairs situation, where Ukraine is back in the American news. Russia has massed over 100,000 troops on the Ukraine border. Bizarrely, Tucker Carlson and some other right-leaning news orgs have gone out of their way praising Putin and sounding like they’re reciting Kremlin disinformation. There’s been some of the usual saber-rattling from various of the neo-cons, who never tire of beating their war drums, and among the left it’s been a jumbled mix of positions too.
President Biden held some awkward-looking tele-meeting with Putin. Then yesterday the Biden administration signaled their Ukraine policy, but it’s likely to be just like Afghanistan where most Congressional Republicans and the news media will act surprised by Biden’s breathless duplicity. I believe the Biden administration is trying to broker a deal with Russia, bargaining away part of Ukraine in exchange for Russian assurances they won’t go further. Here’s a tweet from a Cruz national security advisor yesterday:
While the Twitter foreign policy debate between the left and right centers on whether US troops or assets should be used to help Ukraine, that was never even a real consideration for the Biden foreign policy team, I believe. Their effort will most likely be just like how they deal with Iran and other countries hostile to the US and our interests – massive appeasement. If Ukraine turns out to be an even bigger debacle than the Afghanistan withdrawal, it should surprise no one.
So, if you’re arguing about US military involvement in Ukraine, I believe you’re behind the curve, as that’s not where the Biden administration foreign policy team was ever going and I believe they’ve already decided to pressure Ukraine to cede territory to Russia in exchange for a “peaceful” settlement to the hostilities with Russia. I expect the Biden Ukraine policy to be even more dishonorable, dishonest and downright unconscionable than the Afghanistan withdrawal. However, even if the outcome is, as I fear, their media narrative will be just like when John Kerry as Sec. of State brokered a deal with Iran to release captured American sailors.
“Intense U.S.-Iranian diplomacy led to the release early Wednesday of 10 American sailors captured by Iran after they strayed into its territorial waters, a smooth resolution to a potentially fraught incident that the Obama administration attributed to communications channels established during negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.
“We can all imagine how a similar situation might have played out three or four years ago,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry said. He thanked Iranian authorities for their “cooperation and quick response,” and said the sailors were treated well in the relatively short time they were held.
“These are situations which, as everybody here knows, have the ability, if not properly guided, to get out of control,” Kerry said in a speech at the National Defense University in Washington.”
Then Iran released demoralizing hostage videos, showing just what an incompetent fool John Kerry and his vaunted diplomacy really were:
The Biden foreign policy team is the same as the Obama foreign policy team.