Slaying Dragons

I have written from time to time about my quest to save a family member who had become a victim of scams. I called this family member “Riley,” since that’s a nice, gender-neutral, name.

Alas, my mother has died (and I’ve told you who she is). You are left with the possibility that I was describing a distant relative (and some of you would therefore be right to wonder why I was butting into someone else’s business) or that I was describing my father.

“Riley” is my dad.

I bother writing this now because I spent the last two days in yet another hearing, where Dad incurred tens of thousands more dollars worth of legal effort in his quest to free himself from the protection we were able to provide for him. The funny thing is that all the legal costs are being borne by his estate. We children show up and testify. I’ve gotten really good at writing pro se filings. But no one else is losing a cent (aside from toner, paper, and stamps). With COVID, none of us even had to stir from our couches.

I sometimes see my life as slaying dragons. Some of the dragons are small, like the tiny dragons of disorder in my home. Other dragons are large, like the threats against which it is my job to help ensure the United States maintains undersea superiority. M* readers have witnessed my battles trying to slay the twin dragons of 1) defamation against Joseph Smith over plural marriage and 2) adulation for the supposed patriarchal and woman-hating system some believers claim is Joseph’s legacy.

But when it became clear my father now believed African women were willing to share gold mines and $100Ms in offshore assets for fake marriage documents and every cent in his possession, I realized I was facing one of the most difficult dragons of all.

Dad is every whit as smart as I am. Like a tiger, he lashed out in ways intended to cause great wounds. Even now, protected, he is pleased to insist that I and my siblings acted to protect him only because we covet his money. Though we are barred from knowing anything about his will, he is pleased to tell us that he has disinherited us. Given that estimates of the value of Dad’s real property exceed $50M, that would hurt.

If it was money we cared about.

I guess I see my dad as being like Scrooge McDuck. He glories in his wealth. The scam worked on Dad because he thought he suddenly had a line on wealth beyond his previous dreams. Initially, we know, he intended the vast wealth the scammers promised to be ours.

But the way these scams go is predictable. First, every scrap of available money is siphoned out of the victim. In Dad’s case, that was $1.2M. Then, the real property is sold because of defaulted mortgages or unpaid taxes. The funds from these sales of real property go to the owner – land transformed to cash. Had Dad been unprotected and still under thrall, all that cash would have been wired to the scammers. The gold and promised wealth is imaginary.

Dad would have ended with his lifetime of investment, sacrifice, and luck dissipated. He would have been left with only income from his pension (still more than many have). And he would have had the love of his many children and grandchildren. But had he ever awoken to the truth, it would have been truly pitiable.

In Dad’s case, we were able to get him protected just as mortgage companies were acting to foreclose. Despite the substantial cash he’d lost, Dad didn’t lose any of the real property he’d spent his lifetime accumulating.

I hope in some future day to meet my Dad beyond the veil, freed from the lies that cloud his vision today. I hope that in that day he will realize that I was fighting to save him from a fate he would have found horrific.

For now, I must be content with a job well done, if unthanked by the beloved father whose dear treasure we have saved.

Why was a Utah BLM activist who threatened to attack Trump in the Capitol yesterday during pro-Trump rallies?

Utah BLM activist John Sullivan was in the Capitol building yesterday during the pro-Trump rallies. Here is a picture:

Sullivan was interviewed on CNN because he filmed the death of Ashli Babbitt, the US Air Force veteran who was killed by Capitol Police as she tried to climb through a broken window at the Capitol. He admitted to being in the Capitol building, but the incurious “journalists” at CNN failed to ask the left-wing insurgent what he was doing there when supposedly only pro-Trump people were in the Capitol.

More on Sullivan:

Just in case you think that Sullivan has somehow become a secret Trump supporter, here is a video of him promising “revolution” and promising to rip Trump out of the White House. WARNING: LOTS OF PROFANITY.

As I wrote this morning, the majority of people who invaded the Capitol building were Trump supporters, but what the heck was Utah’s John Sullivan doing there? Were there many more Antifa/BLM types in the Capitol building yesterday?

The worst of times

Regarding the Capitol Hill situation with Trump supporters yesterday, I think the first point we should acknowledge is that we as members of the Church support the rule of law, and these people broke several laws, so they should be punished. They definitely will be. The FBI is already involved, and the people who invaded the Capitol building will go to jail, in some cases for a long time.

It is worth noting that at least some of the people involved definitely were NOT Trump supporters, and may have been Antifa/BLM supporters. Here are some articles you may not have seen on SOME of the people who invaded the Capitol who were apparently not Trump supporters:

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2021/jan/6/xrvision-firm-claims-antifa-infiltrated-protesters/

But conservative members of the Church must face the fact that even if there were some Antifa false flag infiltrators, it is simply a fact that the majority of the bad actors WERE Trump supporters. And this is not good by any standard.

Conservative members of the Church have always had an uneasy relationship with the populist elements of the Trump message, and in this case we can see why. I discussed that in detail in this recent post here:

It is clear that the Trump populist message is not in line in many ways with what many LDS church members believe on important issues. But I would point out that the Democrat party is not in line with what most LDS Church members believe on even more issues. And Libertarians (and I say this as a liberty Republican myself) support many things we as Church members do not believe in. So, LDS Church members often feel politically homeless. With the Republican party going through yet another political evolution, LDS members may end up feeling more homeless than ever.

What the media will NOT be talking about, however, is WHY the 73 million-plus Trump supporters voted for him and why they are so upset with the results. The first step toward peace is sympathy, and Trump supporters are getting very little of that these days. This is a dangerous position for progressives and anti-Trump people to take. Trump supporters feel they are being backed against a wall with no escape. They are mocked by all of the dominant groups in society, and if they try to express their feelings on Facebook or Twitter they are censored. I would recommend, at least as a practical measure, that the political winners try better to understand where Trump supporters are coming from.

There are significant claims of voter fraud that have not been addressed. It is simply not good enough to say the claims are all conspiracy theories. When you look at the evidence, there are claims in six states that should be looked at. I am not saying the claims are all valid, but the political process does not allow for these claims to be studied in detail.

Conservatives are now facing a future where Democrats may have gotten away with widespread voter fraud and will continue to use these tactics for the foreseeable future. The legality and appropriateness of widespread use of mail-in ballots needs to be discussed. Do we really believe this is how people should vote? The process for monitoring mail-in ballots and assuring their validity was extremely poor in many if not most states. Remember that Republicans can do mail-in ballot fraud too, so we will be heading to a future where all elections are called into question unless we address this issue.

Sadly, part of being a conservative member of the Church is the inevitable sense that things will fall apart eventually, and personally I have been feeling this way since the 2000 election and Bush v. Gore. And of course 9/11 in 2001 solidified that feeling. As I re-read the Book of Mormon this year, I felt that I was feeling the same things that Mormon and Moroni felt as they watched their civilization devolve into chaos. We are getting a little taste of that happening before our eyes. The good news is that we know the ending will be happy, with the Savior returning and wiping away the tears from every face. But in the meantime, it seems like the world is spinning out of control before us, and that is not a good feeling at all.

Trump’s Insurrection

In 2016, I switched from the Republican party to the Libertarian. Knowing Trump’s background in business, family matters, etc., I felt I could not trust him to be, well, to be Trump.

He did surprise me somewhat over his first three years, governing decently, though there were many areas I disagreed with him. Still, in 2020, I again voted Libertarian, knowing my state of Indiana would still probably go for Trump.

Sadly, Trump began his presidency giving accolades and appointments to his alt-right buddies. Trump is all about people being loyal to him, first and foremost, which is how he ran his business, his marriages, his love affairs, and the Oval Office. When competent leaders disagreed with him, they were often fired by him. He was enraged with several for not backing him, due to their own integrity, such as when AG Jeff Sessions recused himself regarding Trump investigations.

This was a continual process of Trump hiring, then firing those who did not remain loyal to him. For Trump, loyal friends and a growing stock market symbolized success.

During this past election cycle, we began again to see the real Donald Trump emerge. He put off serious consideration on the Covid virus, fearing it would hurt him in the election. Doctors he once applauded, suddenly were on his naughty list, because they disagreed with his assessments.

In the Black Lives Matter riots, he sought to punish them heavily, and had no problem with police shooting rioters. In previous incidents, he avoided condemning his alt-right compatriots, insisting there were good people on all sides of the debate.

During the presidential debates, when pressed on whether he condemned racism, he stated for the Proud Boys to “stand by.” The Proud Boys are a fascist alt-right group.

In insisting the election was rigged, he was given the opportunity to take it to court. He did, about 50 times. None found his claims to be credible, including Republican judges he appointed, nor the Supreme Court which he appointed 3 of the SCOTUS justices. There was no evidence. Yet, he used his Twitter feed and pulpit to keep pushing his agenda: reelect Trump at any cost.

He vetoed the Defense Bill, primarily because it included renaming military bases named after Confederate leaders. Another hat tip to his alt-right groups, like the KKK (who honored his 2016 win with a Hitler salute).

His continual conspiracy theory attacks cost the Republicans the Senate majority. He was so focused on Trump that he no longer cared about how he was affecting the party.

Finally, today he held a rally for tens of thousands in front of the White House. He encouraged them to march to the Capitol building. Several were armed, some with bombs (showing that this was not a spur of a moment decision to invade the Capitol building). He allowed his alt-right groups to wave Confederate flags in the Capitol (remember, the Confederates were traitors), brandishing weapons and endangering the lives of Congress and the Capitol police (remember Trump supporting the Thin Blue Line this past summer against the BLM rioters?).

When Trump finally responded, he told the rioters that he “loved them.” He still insisted that he and they had been ripped off.

From what I’ve seen, Trump and his alt-right factions are guilty of insurrection. Treason is only one of two crimes mentioned in the Constitution (the other is money forgery). Guess what, Mr Trump? You have gone against the Constitution and encouraged others to attack Congress. That is treason.

Trump is no longer competent to be president. I can’t imagine what he’ll do over the next two weeks. Encourage riots everywhere? I ask Vice President Mike Pence, my former governor, to invoke the 25th amendment, declaring Pres Trump no longer capable to fulfill his duties as president, and remove him from office.

To defend the Constitution, restore our national sanity, and keep us from becoming a banana republic, we need Trump out. Now.