Wednesday, August 17, 2016

It's Our Party and We'll Die If We Want To

They could have stopped him, but they didn't. I'm referring to the Republicans and Donald Trump. There were plans afoot, right up to the convention and a day or two into the convention, to pull a fast one – enact some sort of change in the rules – whatever – anything to keep Trump from being the nominee. But it all collapsed; it became a non-story, a non-event, literally overnight.

And now, since that didn't happen, they are left with pathetic whining and empty threats to – at this point! -- choose someone else (to run on what ticket, pray tell?), or even to form a temporary third party. But this is all, in my opinion, an anemic attempt to save face – to basically say “Trump does not represent the Republican Party, even though he won its nomination (in accordance with rules which we could have changed, but didn't).” Well, fine – he may, in fact, not represent the mainstream or establishment Republicans, but he certainly represents all those who voted for him in the primaries, and they seem to constitute the majority of voting members of the party at this point in history.

But that is precisely the point. Trump won the primary race thanks to a populist insurgency -- a movement which he, basically, inspired. Where were these people before Trump came along? They were out there, clearly, but they had no voice – they were the forgotten, the disenfranchised, the ignored, the mocked and ridiculed (by the media and the liberals), and the generally shat-upon. So Trump became, literally, a rabble-rouser, and it was that rabble that temporarily took over the Republican Party by sheer force of numbers and energy. There's nothing like the politics of victimization to turn the powerless into the (temporarily) powerful – and since the Republicans are traditionally the party of non-victims, this was something the establishment did not foresee and had no way of dealing with once it occurred.

Now, I hasten to add that this particular populist demographic was not, and should not be confused with, the “Tea Party”, although there might have been some overlap in personnel. The latter was, basically, a conservative movement within the party; it made the country-club types uneasy, but they were willing to tolerate and work with it. The Trump crowd, on the other hand, makes the country-club types hold perfumed hankies up to their patrician noses; they really are beyond the pale, and “not our kind”. If the Tea Partiers were the county clubbers' churchgoing cousins (you know, the kind with wrinkled suits and big hair), the Trump crowd are all the black sheep of every Republican family rolled into one. They're the equivalent of Cousin Mike, who shows up at the family reunion on a Harley with a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon strapped to the back seat.

And the reasons are not hard to understand. The Republicans have been, as long as anyone can remember, the party of the contented... the complacent... the smug... the satisfied... the party of those who've made their pile and thus want nothing more than to hold onto it and keep it out of the hands of the unwashed masses. You can call it “conservatism” if by that you mean keeping things just the way they are – with, perhaps, an occasional bone thrown to the underclasses in order to keep them at bay (or at least confine them to the Democrat-operated inner cities where they belong). (And who says that it's only the Democrats who “need” the inner cities with their captive constituents? The Republicans need them too, the same way they need jails – to keep the proletariat contained.) But this is conservatism with neither compassion nor principle; it's a holding pattern, and it's phobic whenever confronted with actual ideas (which is why the Tea Partiers were regarded as being a bit out of control – because they actually had what amount to ideas in these times of conceptual vapidity).

And then along came Trump and his rabble army – and when you think about it, they didn't necessarily even have to be Republicans. After all, Trump and Bernie Sanders probably have more in common than Trump and the mainstream Republicans. But aside from that, Trump is not, after all, a man of ideas or of principles – to say nothing of “theory”. He is, when you get right down to it, fairly pragmatic in his goals, if vague as to the means of achieving them. He's not much for slogans, and is certainly not interested in demagoguery of the typical liberal/Democrat type, or bland speechifying of the typical Republican type. Heck, he doesn't even talk in rhymes like Jesse Jackson, or put on different accents depending on his audience, like Hillary. If you get beyond the offhand remarks and quips (AKA “gaffes”, according to the MSM – and why is it that when Biden says crazy stuff, he's just good ol' Uncle Joe, whereas with Trump it's taken as evidence of madness?), you find a lot of common sense – and that is, in fact, what his supporters are looking for. They've had the lifeblood sucked out of them by people with “ideas” for decades now, and are just looking for someone who “gets it”, as Trump seems to do. (And I don't mean “getting it” in the “I feel your pain” sense, a la Bill Clinton, because it was obvious that he didn't feel anyone's pain, and even if he had would not have cared.) Plus, Trump has the added quality of being politically incorrect, to the maximum extent possible without being literally driven out of town (although he has come close at times). And this is something that naturally appeals to anyone who considers themselves a victim of political correctness. The old-time radical goal of “├ępater le bourgeois” -- shock the middle classes – has taken on new life, and from an unexpected quarter at that. Now it's not so much the middle classes per se that need shocking (although that's also true) but the complacent subset represented by the Republican Party mainstream. (And their complacency is particularly puzzling considering that they have long since lost the culture wars and most of the big bucks are going to the Democrats. Which causes one to wonder, what's left? What do they stand for, anyway? (I think the answer should be clear by now.))

So with all of this in mind, why is Trump so anathema to the Republican establishment? Why are they openly plotting against him – openly hoping he loses? Well, it's because he, basically, stole the nomination – snatched it right out of their pale, limp, lifeless hands. But they let him do it, and why was that? It was, basically, to teach those populists – that rabble, that doesn't belong in the party anyway – a damn good lesson: This is what happens when you try to turn the party of complacency into some kind of “people's” party... some kind of rag-tag outfit that talks about change, and reform, and all that radical stuff. Another way of putting it is that Trump is trying to turn the Republican Party into a Democratic Party for the white working class – and that can't be allowed to happen. (And yes, I know, the Democratic Party represented the white working class for many years, but they decided at some point that their fortunes lay more with the “rainbow coalition” -- a multiplication of aggrieved minorities under the supervision of “intellectuals”, academics, and media and Hollywood trend setters. So the traditional Democrat constituency became orphans. Some of them were corralled by Nixon with his “Southern strategy”... others by Reagan... and now it's Trump's turn.)

The problem with all of this is that the Trump camp is a minority within a minority. Not only do they not belong in the Republican Party, but they are a minority in terms of power, influence, and resources – even if they managed to exert themselves sufficiently to get Trump nominated. And the Republicans, in turn, are a minority party on the national level, simply because we have gotten to the point where the takers outnumber the makers – the tax receivers outnumber the tax payers. (And I don't hesitate to place myself in the former category, since I'm on a civil service pension – although I also pay taxes.) We have become, in short, a nation of minorities, most of which are aggrieved, rebellious, and militant – and thus easy pickings for the Democrats, who promise everything but deliver next to nothing (but that doesn't seem to matter since it's the “ideas” that count, and the Democrats are nothing if not the party of ideas – invariably wrong, but ideas nonetheless). (You can see this in the fact that while Obama has done so much for race relations – ahem! -- all that really counts is his being “the first black president”. And all that will really count for Hillary is being “the first woman president”. Results? Let's not get all hung up on that issue.) Ideas are fine things except when they trump (no pun intended) reality.

So the demographics are against any Republican candidate for president, even if they are not against all Republicans in all Congressional districts, state houses, etc. The Republicans could have nominated pretty much anyone to run against Hillary, and they would, by now, be dead men (or women) walking, as is Trump. And that's only pure demographics, and doesn't include the big-city machines that have myriad ways of delivering votes to Democrats – their age-old tactics now in overdrive with the advent of computer-based voting machines. (If it has always been true that it doesn't matter who votes, but who counts the votes, it is more true now than ever.) (At least in the old days it took some considerable physical effort to steal votes; now all you have to do is be in charge of the software.)

The Republicans can “fight back” by concentrating on Congressional races, governorships, state houses, etc. -- and they are, after a fashion. Of course their default platform when it comes to domestic policy is “we're almost as compassionate as the Democrats” -- a sure-fire winner. And when it comes to foreign policy, everyone is pretty much on the same sheet of music across the spectrum – although Trump has come out against “nation building”, which is sure to win him very few fans among the neocons who control the Republican party and have great influence with the Democrats as well. (This may, in fact, be his greatest sin as far as the Regime is concerned – that he seems skeptical about the desirability of expanding and maintaining the American Empire.)

The most recent candidate who represented a true choice among the entire Republican-Democratic array was Ron Paul, and his ideas are either 100 years behind the times or 100 years ahead; time will tell. Rand Paul was a pale imitation at best; he got some things right and other things as wrong as anyone else. Basically, he's a good man but not an idea man, and if anything is going to smash the two-party monopoly (which means a single ruling party with two subdivisions) it's ideas – and not just the usual pap, but real ideas with real consequences.

I should mention also that a prominent argument against the idea that the Republicans allowed Trump to be nominated so that he'll lose and discredit “right-wing populism” once and for all is the Supreme Court issue. Put Hillary in for 8 years (she'll get re-elected in 2020 even if she has to campaign from a hospital bed) and we'll wind up with an iron-clad liberal Supreme Court for the rest of the century, or something. (And BTW, if the rumors about her health are even partly true, is she really going to last eight years? Will I be putting up a blog post entitled “Citizen Kaine” at some point? Time will tell.)

But when it comes to the Supreme Court argument, well... for one thing, look at the success rate of Republican presidents when it comes to Supreme Court appointments; most of them take about five minutes after they don those heavy black robes to wander off the reservation. But the main point is that the Republicans knew – just knew, with absolute certainty – that they couldn't win the presidency this year. So why not try and salvage at least some advantage from what is shaping up to be a debacle? Why not teach those populists a lesson and get rid of them (blaming them for losing the election, of course), and drive them back into those trailer parks and mountain shacks where they belong? Then the “nice”, well-behaved people can take over the party again, and... what? Continue to suck up to the Democrats, even when they are in the majority in Congress? Probably. It's what they do best.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Meltdown Under the Elms

It started with an article in The New Yorker:

This got my attention because the college most prominently featured in the article is Oberlin (in Ohio, a bit west of Cleveland). And I admit, nothing in it surprised me because hypersensitivity was a common ailment in the student body when I attended (1963-1967). But it did seem to represent a new low – or high, depending on which metric one is using. Hypersensitivity is one thing, but morbid hypersensitivity bordering on paranoid psychosis is quite another, it seems to me, especially when it seems to infect a large number of people in the same place at the same time. Then it moves into the realm of mass hysteria. But enough introduction.

So after much meditation, I produced a response, which is as follows.  But please read the New Yorker article first, because as bad as you might think things have gotten, they are much worse.

I can't possibly deal with everything that the article brings up – nor are many of these “issues” even worth dealing with, quite frankly. (Once you give people a license to obsess, they will obsess about anything. The point is to exercise discernment as to which issues are actually worth discussing in a public forum and which ones are better left to the psychiatrist's couch. It's, among other things, evidence of the current trend whereby nothing is any longer personal or private – one's life and thoughts are for public consumption and it's shameful in a way to keep them to oneself.)

I'd rather draw back a bit and deal with the broader issue of hypersensitivity, which is a common element in much of what is discussed. I'd rather do that than get “down in the weeds” with each micro-issue – plus, I have a certain historical perspective that I'd like to put into play. I don't think one can understand the current hypersensitivity craze without looking at the socio-political history of colleges and universities in the U.S.; but since the only one I'm at all familiar with is Oberlin, I'll have to confine my remarks to that one place – although, hopefully, some generalization will not be totally out of order. (In fact, since Oberlin is at the vanguard of most social movements – or at least fancies that it is – using it as an example might be much more fruitful than some other college or university selected at random.)

The phrase “reductio ad absurdum” comes to mind. There is nothing new about college students (in “liberal arts” colleges in particular) being thin-skinned, hypersensitive, and easily offended; they were like that in my day too. Or, at least some of them were, and I was always curious as to the difference between the easily-offended types (think of the ones would boo or hiss every time they heard something they didn't like – which was about once every five minutes) and the rest, who were either thick-skinned, or apathetic, or who had better things to do. The sensitive types were the self-anointed guardians of what we now call political correctness; they claimed the right to boo or hiss at anyone whose opinions did not match their own – and the range of issues for which this was true was quite wide (although, arguably, not as wide as the comparable range today -- “ecology” was a brand-new subject back then, and “global warming” was unheard of, just to give a couple of examples).

So what was the difference? Upbringing? Culture? What they had been taught in high school, or by their parents – or rebellion against either or both of those? Or was it just DNA – a “born that way” personality trait? I never figured it out back then, and still can't. One thing I can say for certain is that it was highly correlated with what was called “activism” -- which was, then as now, firmly based on liberal/progressive doctrine. (I say “activism” as opposed to “revolution”, because, although there were some bonafide Leninists/Stalinists and Maoists on campus, they were too small a minority to make much of a difference. But, there were also very few “coat and tie radicals”; most of the activist types I recall were pretty much in the middle of the spectrum. They were, if you will, right out of central casting -- they had the right hair, wore the right clothes, smoked the right dope, protested and demonstrated the right amount, etc. They were, in that sense, “Goldilocks people” -- they had found a comfortable middle ground and pretty much remained there as long as they were able.)

The main point is that many of them hit campus on the first day of freshman year already primed – so it was easy to imagine that they had been born that way. But there were others who were gradually radicalized over time – like the superficial “preppie” guy I knew who eventually wound up in every picket line and in every demonstration he could find. (I don't recall anyone ever being “de-radicalized”, on the other hand – I guess it's some kind of political/social ratchet effect. Maybe it's based on the academic environment, which shares little with the “real world”.) The ones who fascinated me were the ones who showed up on campus already armed with “Das Kapital” and Molotov cocktails; what were they like in high school? In grade school? It's fascinating, really.

I'm describing that landscape (of the mid-60s) in order to establish a context for discussing what's happening now. As I said, the hair-trigger sensitivities were there, as was the chip-on-shoulder, street demonstration attitude. But here's the difference. Back then, there were real causes; very few of these activists were constantly waxing indignant about nothing. One might argue with their motives, but the things they were talking about were real, and they were external – part of the wider world, by and large. (Causes within the confines of the campus were real too, if bordering on the trivial at times.)

And this is not to say that campus activism of the traditional sort is extinct; I'm sure that there are plenty of people and groups agitating for the same or similar causes (and with, most likely, the same degree of success), but that is not the emphasis; it's not what makes the news. What makes the news now is safe rooms, and teddy bears, and “comfort animals” -- as if a large proportion of college students had mysteriously regressed into infancy. And actually, that is a good question right off the bat – were they always this way? Were they raised this way? Or is it more a matter of opportunity, i.e. if one is allowed to, and reinforced for, acting a certain way, then the chances are that the behavior will persist and increase. In this, I'm almost temped to think of it as a variety of mass hysteria, but I suspect there are too many differences to make this a fruitful comparison. What I do think is that suggestibility has a lot to do with it, as does conformity, the need to “belong”, the need for “visibility” or “affirmation”. There is nothing like moving from an at least somewhat diverse high school setting to a hermetically-sealed hothouse campus environment where there is only one acceptable way to think about any given issue. Think of it as a kind of relatively benign prison camp where the same propaganda is blasted out of loudspeakers starting at 4 AM daily and not stopping until midnight. Actually, part of this oversensitivity may simply be a kind of reaction against this political and informational tyranny – a form of PTSD. (This is based on the theory that things get worse for these people once they transition from high school to college – but I admittedly have no data, just supposition.)

I say that legitimate activism is not extinct – or I certainly hope so, because many of the causes were legitimate, as I said. And yet, one is hard pressed to draw a clear line connecting the “classic” activism of old and the hypersensitivity of today. For one thing, are we even talking about the same people? Or is it an entirely new breed? Say what you like about the activists of old – that they were oftentimes thin-skinned, oversensitive, paranoid, whatever – but they did show a bit of durability as well. They would get out there day after day, writing, printing, distributing, demonstrating, protesting... they were not afraid of the world, in other words. (The world was, on the other hand, remarkably afraid of them, which is no longer the case for the current generation.) I don't see the slightest trace of this robustness and stamina among the pajama-clad, teddy bear-clinging crowd; just the opposite. And yet I can't help but at least try to connect a few dots.

The activists of old were, as I said, invariably of the liberal/socialist bent, and all subscribed to the notion of collectivism to some degree – by which I mean not only collectivism in the economic and political sense but in the social psychological sense. The truth, in other words, resided not in the individual but in the group – the collective. In fact, there was no distinction between “truth” and what we now call political correctness; the truth was determined by the will of the people, which was expressed as the product of a dialectic (and, actually, by the social dominance of “agents of change” -- political leaders by and large, but also members of the academe and what we now call the media). But here we encounter a phenomenon that I noted quite often back then, which was that so many of these activists, who presented themselves as altruists and humanists, were actually quite infantile in their personal behavior and particularly their interactions with other people. They may have been demagogues in public, but they were petty tyrants and spoiled brats in private – and this got me thinking about the psychological roots of activism, and of liberalism in general. How many of them really believed in their cause? How many were sincere? And how many had a personal agenda that tended to interfere with, or cancel out, the good the were supposedly doing?

So even back then there was this personal note – this radical subjectivity – that, rather than being overcome, served as a kind of energizer, but which, for that reason, may have corrupted the process. So if you take this subjective tendency and mix it with what Ayn Rand calls “social metaphysics”, plus the general moral anarchy of the time... well, the bottom line is that there were no absolutes, no bedrock principles, and that politics – the will of the collective, however defined – was the highest manifestation of truth (with the perfectly logical result that the word “truth” pretty much went out of use). (I can think of no better example than this: In my day, the consensus was that Israel could do no wrong. Now things have shifted – not 180 degrees maybe, but more than I would ever have thought possible. And yet the facts behind the issue have changed very little in essence. So what brought about the change? Who decided, in other words?)

So, between then and now – did this cluster of ideas, tendencies, and motivations remain within the halls of academe, paralleling the wider culture but not always interacting with it, and eventually manifest itself in the absurdities of today? Or did they flow out into the larger culture, and by an iterative process over many decades flow back into the academe, in a distorted and grotesque form? What, in other words, are college students responding to now? A specific set of premises, facts, and theories – or some sort of aura or atmosphere? Where do they get their cues – their marching orders, if you will? Because in former times it was fairly obvious; in these times, it's much less so simply because of the radical subjectivity of it all.

And – does it even matter on this level of detail? In any case, I think the key is subjectivity. Back then something was true if the group said it was. But then the “group” became fragmented over time into sub-groups and sub-sub-groups, based on ever finer points of identity politics – race, gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, body type, and so on. (We see this brought out very clearly by the article.) And if the degree of fragmentation we've seen so far is acceptable – commendable, even – why stop there? Why be part of a group, however small, that is ever searching for something to be upset, indignant, or offended by, when you can be your own group? The essence of identity politics is, after all, to choose one, or very few, demographic descriptors as the key to one's identity and place in the world, and as a platform from which to protest injustice. But where is it written that it has to stop there? Why not cut to the chase and identify with a group of one – namely oneself? That way, you don't even have to get together with anyone else in order to decide on which issues to focus on on any given day – you just wake up each morning and decide for yourself... or, better yet perhaps, put off deciding until you've gotten a taste of what the world is dishing out that day, at which point you can withdraw back into your shell and claim grievance, unfair treatment, bullying, persecution, and pretty much any form of -ism you like – and who is to argue? If it's all subjective anyway – if there are no absolutes – if it's all a matter of opinion – then why isn't my opinion superior to that of any group? If smaller (social and political fragmentation) is better, then why isn't the smallest unit – me – best of all? Don't I have as many rights, if not more, as any group? Don't I have, above all, a right to feel offended and threatened, since if we're only talking about me, then anything that comes along is an existential threat? In other words, one can put up with threats to one's group because, after all, the group is not identical to the individual – I am more than the group to which I belong (although it would be hard to detect any admission of this sort in the current climate). But if my “group” is me, and no more, then all of my interactions with the world cut to the quick if they are negative – and carry an aura of insecurity if they are good. So the solution, such as it is, had to be to provide “safe havens” where I can recover from the inevitable buffeting I'm going to get the minute I walk out the door – or, even if I stay home, by means of the Internet, TV, books, magazines, newspapers, the telephone, etc. I will exercise non-stop vigilance when it comes to “microaggression” or “triggers”, because, after all, I am an entity unto myself – and yet no more robust or secure than an egg without a shell.

I mean, really, what is wrong with these people? I was certainly not a paradigm of mental health when I was in college, but at least I had enough sense to realize that I was my own worst enemy – that it was not “them” or “the system” that was the main source of my discontent. This sort of fairly basic insight seems totally lacking in the current crop of quivering undergraduates.

It's ironic that there is a traditional American ideal of the independent, fearless, self-actualizing individual who only acts as part of a group when it's convenient, and the rest of the time is a lone wolf. This is part of our mythology as a people and as a nation – and, yes, it probably is a myth, by and large, although we've all encountered people who seem to come pretty close to this description. (We find them more often in literature and movies – and, referring to Ayn Rand again, in her novels.) And yet in practice, it seems like most self-contained people are self-contained for all the wrong reasons. (Note that the word “idiot” is ultimately derived from a Greek word meaning “one's own, private”. So these poor souls who run off to safe rooms at the slightest provocation can could be called idiots.) Any number of patients in mental asylums are king of their own hill. There is a mental disorder in which the individual believes that he is the only thing that exists. (This is a philosophical disorder as well.) But how far is the pajama and teddy bear crowd from this state? Will they recover? Or are they on to something? They are, whether they are conscious of it or not, the personification – the reductio ad absurdum – of liberalism, subjectivism, and all of its political and social trappings. They are victims, certainly – but so are we, if you include the social costs of having to deal with them. When there are things we are not allowed to discuss, we are accepting the tyranny that their helplessness imposes on us – which, I guess, means that they are not so helpless or powerless after all. And maybe on some level they realize that and revel in it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Russian Gossip

Senator Harry Reid is not exactly enamored of the truth, but he let something slip the other day that is more significant than it might sound. If a Republican had said it, it would be called a “gaffe”, but since the Democrats/liberals invented the term and have declared themselves the sole authority on what is or is not a gaffe, we can't expect the label to be applied in this case.

So according to a Washington Post article (published on July 30), “...Reid has suggested that Trump's murky ties to foreign interests and general inability to not speak his mind should be reason enough for the people briefing him to make things up.” The briefings in question are those provided to presidential candidates by the intelligence community, and supposedly include “classified information about the government and our foreign policy efforts.”

Let's dissect this statement by Dingy Harry (Rush Limbaugh's apt nickname) for a moment. “Murky ties to foreign interests”? I guess that doesn't include the countless millions the Clintons have received from foreign governments in order to gain “access”, whatever that entails. “General inability to not speak his mind”, means, in language used by most humans, that Trump speaks his mind. Imagine! A politician actually coming out and saying, in public, what he really thinks. Pass the smelling salts. No wonder the Washington establishment is worried sick; in the unlikely event he becomes president, he might carry this unsavory habit with him into the White House. It could, for starters, be the death of diplomacy (a skill which Hillary Clinton demonstrated so well as secretary of state, ahem).

But the real gem in all this is the idea of the intel people making things up for consumption by the president, or by a presidential candidate. One would almost think that this is a new idea, and that it's never been done, or even tried, before. Never mind mere candidates; my theory is that, on the contrary, most presidents in our time, since they are figureheads and empty suits more than anything else, have been deceived on a regular basis by the intel people, and probably a lot of others as well (the military comes to mind, but also “lifers” in the State Department and elsewhere). Do you honestly think that anyone is going to share information vital to national security with the likes of George W. Bush? (And what would he have done with it if he'd had it?) I imagine similar things about Clinton (soon to be known as Clinton I) and Obama. Contrary to Bush's self image as “the decider”, I don't think presidents in our time “decide” squat, basically. They are front men... scapegoats, when necessary... and sock puppets for the Regime. Whatever they think they've “decided” has already been decided; the trick is to play along with the game and not let them in on it (although I suspect that some of them finally start to catch on, but by then it's too late). (And what are they going to do, go on live TV and announce to the nation, “I'm nothing but a stooge”? That's not the way their minds operate; delusional systems are way too powerful to put up with a dose of reality of that sort.)

I've long been convinced that the last president who had any real authority, and who exercised it, was Lyndon Johnson. He always seemed to be in charge, and always seemed to be willing to do pretty much anything to get his way... and he had an unmatched ability to intimidate -- in other words the ability to scare everyone else shitless, basically. He was America's last true tyrant. All of those who came afterward were organization men at best, heads of committees, and spokesmen for the Regime... and they were studiously kept away from real people... from the masses, the hoi polloi, the unwashed – just as Trump and Clinton are at present. They are kept in their respective bubbles until the election, at which point one of the bubbles will burst and the other will become even more impenetrable as the next administration gets under way.

So why not tell our illustrious candidates even a little bit of the truth – just a harmless secret or two? You know, to keep up appearances. Well, Dingy Harry's fear is that Trump might blab it to the Russians, and the Republicans' fear is that it might wind up in Hillary's e-mail, and thus in the hands of the Russians. So the Russians are behind both of these people's perceived vulnerabilities when it comes to keeping secrets! Who said the Cold War was over with? Maybe I'd better clear the scrap lumber out of my fallout shelter.