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How to Hold Your Breath for 3 Minutes

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Remember when you were a kid? All the weird challenges and contests you’d wage with your friends? There’s a good chance that breath-holding was one of them. Who can hold their breath the longest, right?

I was always good at this when I was young, but I’m not that young anymore. I’m 53, but I held my breath for two minutes and 47 seconds last Thursday. And I could have gone longer, but I was bored. My body wasn’t aching to breathe. My brain wanted to move on to something more stimulating than watching the stopwatch on my iPhone.

I’ll tell you how you can amaze your friends with championship breath-holding feats in a moment, but first, you should know why my 2:47 record is pretty amazing. I read recently that the average adult can hold his breath for only 30 to 40 seconds, so I blew that away. You can, too.

Election Year Debauchery

In case you missed it, I do a lot of political stuff. Especially in election years. In 2015 and 2016, I did more than usual. Besides blogging, rallying, traveling, knocking on doors, going to meetings, and keeping up on the latest news, election season also includes more drinking, periodic smoking, less sleep, horrible diets, and less exercise. In other words, at the end of an election cycle, I’m lucky to be able to breathe at all.

And, as I said, this past election cycle was more intense, if anything.  I should also mention that I considered the election season over on January 20, not November 8.

So how did I manage to hold my breath for 2:47 just a week after my quadrennial debauchery ended?

5-Day Water Fast

You might be thinking I worked out, ran, ate nutritious foods, and all the other stuff you’re told will make you fit and strong.

That stuff might work, but that’s not what I did. Instead, I did nothing sort of.

Instead, I fasted on only water, a few cups of black coffee, and a few cups of green tea for five days. In other words, I consumed about 6 calories over a work week.

You’re probably wondering how fasting can help you dazzle your friends. And it’s all about energy.

Your Body Is Like a Car

Your car probably runs on a variety of fuel blends. Some cars can run on 85% ethanol. All gasoline cars can run on up to 100% petrol.

Your body runs on two kinds of fuel: glucose and ketones.

Glucose comes from carbohydrates like sugar and wheat. Ketones come from fats like olive oil and beef fat. Our bodies have evolved to work well in a variety of conditions.

But glucose and ketones do different things to our bodies over time. Just as high ethanol stresses your car’s engine more than petrol, glucose stresses your body more than ketones. For example, glucose gives off far more carbon dioxide exhaust than ketones do. And that’s the secret to holding your breath.

Why You Ache to Breathe

That terrible urge to take a breath doesn’t come from lack of oxygen in the blood. It comes from too much carbon dioxide. When your body is running on glucose and you hold your breath, your brain will scream for air very quickly. But when you’re running on ketones, your blood will have lots of room for CO2.

When you fast on water for an extended period, your body has to run on stored fat; aka, ketones. Depending on your diet before the fast, your sex, your weight, and your metabolism, it takes two or three days for your body to burn off all the spare glucose. In my case, I went into full ketosis on day 4 of the fast, Thursday. Your mileage may vary.

When I tried to hold my breath last Sunday, before I started the fast, I could get one minute, fourteen seconds (1:14) before it became very uncomfortable. My only exercise during the week was a daily 30-minutes walk/run on a treadmill, far less than my usual powerlifting workouts. Yet, in only 4 days, I increased my breath-holding abilities by more than 100%.

That’s because I had very low blood glucose levels by Thursday. I was running on the stored fat in my body.

Thursday and Friday Were Great Days

You might think I must have been lethargic, weak, and miserable after three days without food. But it was the opposite.

After one meal on Sunday and no food for four days, Thursday and Friday I felt fantastic. My senses were sharper than ever. I could smell things in the woods that I’d never smelled before in my life. When the wind changed direction, I smelled completely different things. These smells, which I could not identify, were interesting, not repulsive. Not necessarily delicious-smelling, either. Just a little fascinating because they were new.

My mind was sharp as a Ginsu knife. I had moments of hyperactivity followed by lulls, either. I got a lot done.

But the most amazing benefit from my fast was patience. I simply did not feel anger, frustration, or annoyance for those last two days despite numerous situations that usually drive me crazy. Like people who couldn’t operate a self-checkout scanner at Schnuck’s. Normally I want to yell at those people. During my fast, I simply watched and listened as the cashier explained the process. I felt like a grown-up.

For More on Fasting

I’m not a doctor, and a lot of doctors hate fasting. I think it’s because fasting offers amazing health benefits that hurt the healthcare establishment. You should learn more about fasting’s benefits, dangers, and history.

The best resource I’ve found is The Quantified Body podcast. If you’re interested, here are three recent blog entries, with links to the podcasts, that will let you know the science behind this amazing, free healthy process:

5-Day Water Fast Results

5-Day Mimicking Fast Results. This is a great method if you think a full water fast is too much.

10-Day Water Fast Results

“Water Fasts” as a Potential Tactic to Beat Cancer with Dr. Thomas Seyfried

Plus, here’s a great, fun post about someone else’s 5-day water fast. You’ll enjoy it.

Will You Try It?

Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in more on fasting. I find this potential lifesaving tool fascinating and enjoyable. I’ll write more about my experience and my research if it’s something you’d like to know more about. I’ve learned that fasting (and ketogenic diets) might help prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in addition to their proven suppression of diabetes, obesity, and most cancers. In fact, fasting has been shown to make traditional cancers way more effective and eliminate the horrible side effects of chemotherapy. Plus, ketogenic diets have effectively helped prevent epileptic seizures since the 1920s.

So let me know if you find this interesting and want to know more. I’ll hold my breath.



Study: Kellogg’s Products Deadlier Than Cigarettes?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Kellogg sells mostly simple carbohydrates in the form of breakfast cereal and snacks. Their ad agencies make you think their foods are wholesome and safe. They’re not. They’re mostly simple carbohydrates (grains and sugar) that produce a glycemic shock when eaten. And foods that produce glycemic shock seem to be deadlier than cigarettes. At least that’s the suggestion from a recent study at the University of Texas.

The study of 2,000 lung cancer patients and 2,500 people without lung cancer should raise concern. Tony the Tiger might pose a greater threat to your kids than Joe Camel ever did. Via WSAZ Channel 3:

Researchers looked at 2,000 patients with lung cancer and 2,500 without.

They say non-smokers whose diets had a high glycemic index were more than two times more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer than non-smokers with a low one.

Dr. Oz says, “A high glycemic index means that the sugar in whatever food you’re eating rushes into your bloodstream because it’s not cobbled together with fiber that would naturally hold it together in your gut.”

Here’s more from CNN>

And from the American Diabetes Association, here are examples of foods with a high glycemic index:

High GI (70 or more)

  • White bread or bagel
  • Corn flakes, puffed rice, bran flakes, instant oatmeal
  • Short grain white rice, rice pasta, macaroni and cheese from mix
  • Russet potato, pumpkin
  • Pretzels, rice cakes, popcorn, saltine crackers melons and pineapple

See more at:

And here’s a longer list of glycemic indexes for products, including many Kellogg products from Harvard.

Granted, Kellogg isn’t the only company that packages glycemic poison as wholesome health food. I’m singling out Kellogg because Kellogg has singled out people like me for a hate and acrimony campaign of epic proportions.

Kellogg donated nearly $1 million to Black Lives Matter.

Kellogg pulled advertising from Breitbart News.

Kellogg Foundation funds efforts to destroy True the Vote.

And Breitbart chronicles a whole list of Kellogg and Kellogg Foundation crimes against America.

And Kellogg says terrible things about a lot of Americans who probably eat their poison.

Breitbart provides a convenient list of Kellogg’s potentially deadly products. Before you reach for any of these, you might consider the healthier alternative of a cigarette.

UPDATE: Here’s great wisdom from Ace of Spades.

Some of Kellogg’s brands:

  • Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes®
  • Kellogg’s® Nutri-Grain®
  • Pop-Tarts®
  • Rice Krispies®
  • Cheez-It
  • Kashi
  • Eggo®
  • Frosted Mini-Wheats®
  • Cocoa Krispies
  • Morningstar Farms
  • Famous Amos
  • Kellogg’s Corn Flakes®
  • Kellogg’s Honey Smacks® cereal
  • Corn Pops®
  • Mother’s Cookies
  • Keebler Company
  • Smart Start®
  • Froot Loops™
  • Kellogg’s Raisin Bran®
  • Low Fat Granola
  • Fruit Flavored Snacks
  • Apple Jacks®
  • Cracklin’ Oat Bran®
  • Mueslix®
  • Smart Start®
  • Smorz
  • Kellogg’s Raisin Bran®
  • Krave
  • Crispix®
  • All-Bran®
  • Apple Jacks®
  • Crunchmania

A lot of these things are toasted. Like Lucky Strikes.

If you want to know why Americans are so fat, it might be because governments and doctors have been lying to you about what to eat, especially when it comes to carbohydrates and cholesterol. Possibly because companies like Kellogg pay them to lie to you? It’s called lobbying, and Kellogg’s done a ton of it since 2012 according to How many studies have they suppressed?

Kellogg’s stock is down, and it’ll probably go lower. Especially when people start to realize Kellogg’s products could be killing their kids. Awful.

2016 is the year we overwhelm the Flak Catchers

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Cars that get 200 MPG.

Cures for multiple sclerosis and cancer.

Someone saw Elvis in Dallas eating lunch with Jim Morrison.

Conspiracy theories satisfy a psychological need to blame others for our problems or explain why the world doesn’t work the way we wish it worked.

Maybe two nuns in Peoria found a cure for cancer in 1954 and Big Pharma really did pay J. Edgar Hoover to seize the formula to keep the multi-billion dollar oncology pharmaceutical money-printer cranking out the bucks at full speed.

Or maybe it’s just a crazy conspiracy theory that satisfies psychological needs of the people who believe it.

The real problem with crazy conspiracy theories is that they mask a real problem in America. When an industry does use its crony relationship with government to block innovation, both the government and industry can point to the cancer cure theory and say, “we hear this stuff all the time. It’s all Area 51 nonsense.”

These assurances satisfy the large majority of people who believe people in authority always operate with our best interest at heart. Even after seeing The Big Short.

And yet . . .

St. Louisans fought a three-year battle to be able to order up an UberX car so they could drink at the government-funded Ballpark Village and get home safely. Did the quasi-government Metropolitan Taxicab Commission block UberX for our good?

No. The whole fight was to protect incumbent taxicab companies from competition. Uber innovated and responded to a need while taxicab companies enlisted the power of government to keep St. Louis in the dark ages.

The federal government does this, too. When Democrats went to work on Dodd-Frank to rein in Wall Street, they turned to Wall Street to write the legislation. Somehow the bill that passed protected big Wall Street banks from competition from regional and community banks. So the people who blew up the economy in 2007 and 2008 got richer while hundreds of small community banks went out of business.

Want another example? Cholesterol.

Researchers have known for years that dietary cholesterol has a very nuanced and imprecise effect on blood serum cholesterol. But the government spent billions of dollars convincing everyone to ask for egg white omelets that taste like ass while knowing full well that whole eggs are healthier than egg whites. (If you eat egg whites, look it up.) The dietary cholesterol industry (doctors, food companies, dietitians, nannies) lobbied hard to hide the truth from people. Egg producers weren’t nearly as aggressive as medical textbook publishers and researchers.

The problem is that, as huge corporations get huge, they also get fat and lazy. Big organizations profit from predictability and consistency, and innovation screws with both. General Motors wants to make next year’s car models only different enough from last year’s so that consumers feel the itch to upgrade. They don’t want innovation that requires massive retooling or new vendor contracts or, God forbid, new union contracts.

And big unions don’t want innovation, either. They want three-year contracts that guarantee their members will do the exact same thing every day for 660 work days during the life of the contract. They happily lobby against innovation and competition. Heck, the entire union industry exists to eliminate competition and change.

Thwarting progress pisses people off, and politicians hate pissed-off people. So politicians create bureaucracies that take the flak. And the bosses of bureaucracies, the appointed suits with degrees from Ivy League schools who made million at Goldman Sachs before feeling the need to Serve Their Country by taking a government job, they don’t want to take flak, either. Instead, they lobby Congress for increased funding to build hierarchies of lifers–people who went to state colleges or directional colleges who are glad to have a job in the bureaucracy with good vacations and a kick-ass pension back by the full faith and the credit of the United States Government (and it’s $63 trillion in unfunded liabilities and debt).

These lifer dogs of the bureaucracy are the Flak Catchers, to borrow a phrase coined by author Tom Wolfe. The Flak Catchers have their own union. It’s all like a sick 1970s psychedelic painting–you never know which end is up or what you’re supposed to be looking at.

When someone invents a new product or even a new process that threatens to disrupt big incumbent companies with friends in government, this entire bureaucratic, lifer-dog, flak-catcher leviathan springs to life to “protect consumers” from the very things consumers want. Some of these innovations will even save a life. But the survival Too Big to Fail companies is far more important to the Flak Catchers and their bosses than the lives a few thousand (million) Americans. “There’s new Americans being born every minute (or running across the border), but I don’t see anyone creating a new Goldman Sachs, do you?”

In the meantime, your United States Government prohibits inventors from even telling you about their inventions. “The people are too stupid to understand, so keep your mouth shut or go to jail.” The First Amendment has no meaning inside the bureaucracy.

I need a theme for 2016, and I think I found it.

I want make life so miserable for the Flak Catchers that they throw up their hands and turn us over to the Appointees.

Congress is owned by the incumbents. The presidential candidates are either part of the incumbency cartel or too busy with other things. And the Flak Catchers can only take orders from their bosses or get out of the way. Flak Catchers will never turn against the system they’ve been part of–unless they’re willing to live in exile in Russia.

So the best hope for breaking the cartel is to make flak-catching such an unbearably degrading and humiliating job that the Flak Catchers pass us through to their Appointee bosses. The Appointees are a weak lot who will fold under the slightest pressure. That’s why the insulate themselves with Flak Catchers.

The reward for this effort is better products and dynamic new companies that challenge entrenched incumbents on a level playing field. The reward is a free market that actually operates like a market, not a DMV.

More to follow.


What’s Wrong With The Franklin Project? – Part 3

Reading Time: 8 minutes

This is part three of a five-part series on national service. Part 1 introduced the controversy and corrected a major misconception. Part 2 looked at national service through the eyes of conservative giants, Milton Friedman, William F. Buckley, and Ronald Reagan.

So, what’s wrong with the Franklin Project?


The Franklin Project promotes the idea of a renewed ethos of national service in America. It’s mission:

The Franklin Project envisions a future in which a year of full-time national service—a service year—is a cultural expectation, a common opportunity, and a civic rite of passage for every young American.

I pointed out in part 1 that The Franklin Project’s mission is very similar to William F. Buckley’s vision for a national-service ethos, first introduced in his 1974 book Four Reforms and expanded in his 1990 book Gratitude.

I also pointed out that Buckley’s plan differed from Franklin Project’s in several key ways. In some ways, Buckley’s program was more ambitious, but in other ways more subdued.

Before anyone gets the idea that I wholehearted endorse the Franklin Project’s plan, I do not. But it’s possible to endorse their idea without endorsing every feature of their plan.

Suffice it to say that I do believe America needs an expectation of service. On that point, Franklin Project and I are in complete agreement. Likewise on the idea that society must find away to offer opportunities to serve that match society’s urge to serve. Finally, we agree that service strengthens and improves volunteers as much or more than the volunteer work itself improves society.

On each of those three fundamentals, I agree with both Franklin Project and William F. Buckley.

Part of my purpose in this series is to inform the discretion of two sets of people. First, those who would dismiss the idea of service because it smacks of liberal hooey. Second, those who accept blindly that the Franklin Project’s prescriptions are, on the whole, wise or effective. Parts 4 and 5 speak to the former. This post to the latter.

So, again, what’s wrong with the Franklin Project?

While the Franklin Project itself advances an idea endorse, its massive Plan of Action published in 2013 documents a wish list of bad ideas built upon many failed programs and broken promises. The plan, while ambitious in length at nearly 40 pages, is lazy in thought, as it mostly seeks to swell government programs that train new generations of bureaucrats. Finally, much of the Plan of Action, if implemented, would do the exact opposite of what the organization hopes to accomplish, just as Milton Friedman warned in 1990.

Some will say, “Bill, you’re naïve. The people who put that plan together are advancing a hidden agenda.” To be honest, I believe some are. I also believe many signers of the plan accepted the bad with the good because they believe in the vision. Regardless of motives, conservatives must point out the errors in the plan. Conservatives who agree with the vision but despise most of the details should offer an alternative. As I said in yesterday’s post, stomping our feet and yelling “no” isn’t enough, because there is a growing demand for the vision and a pent-up need for a service ethos.

Point by Point

Here are the high-level points of the Plan of Action. On the right is a simple critique of each point:



• Link military and civilian service as two sides of the same coin; OK—this seems like a reasonable idea..
• Challenge all young adults (ages 18 to 28) to give a year or more of full-time service to their country; OK—this is the core idea of a new national ethos
• Establish national service corps, building on those proposed in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, that will unite each generation in common purpose through service; NO—Edward Kennedy had very few good ideas, and his Serve America program wasn’t one of them. I agree with Gen. McChrystal that a big federal program isn’t the answer.
• Strengthen and expand the existing infrastructure of the Peace Corps, VISTA, AmeriCorps, and other national service efforts; NO—Reagan gutted VISTA because it fraught with corruption. AmeriCorps is exactly the kind bureaucrat training program that exploits young people and lobbies for more funding for more exploitation.
• Call upon the private sector, industry groups, and professional associations to take the lead in supporting and expanding national service corps within their fields; OK—the private sector should absolutely take the lead in service and everything else. Private enterprise stands to gain a lot from a new service ethos, and business leaders should invest their own money and talent and time in advancing the cause
• Partner with the growing non-profit infrastructure—in colleges, community organizations and faith- based institutions—and leverage new technologies to embed full-time national service across our society; and OK—faith groups, states, communities, and college should join with business leaders in managing projects, administering programs, and expecting service of candidates for jobs and admission
• Ask all federal departments and agencies to use civilian national service members to help accomplish their missions. NO—this exploitation of youth, a training program for bureaucrats, and a pool of (poorly) paid lobbyists for bigger government

Score: 4 OK, 3 NO

In that list of goals, we see two conflicting themes woven together. The points I marked OK, while not necessarily perfect, aim at providing volunteers with opportunities to suffer for a worthy cause. Yes, suffer, just as B. T. Collins described the California Conservation Corps as Hard Work, Low Pay, Miserable Conditions.

The other thread forms a noose around the private sector. The three NOs combine to grow government while degrading volunteers in bureaucratic jobs and lobbying efforts. I will return to the problems posed by these noxious weeds in our garden of service, but first let’s point out more ugly specifics in the Franklin Project plan.

The National Service Corps

General McChrystal assured Business Insider that a big government program is the wrong approach. Apparently, the Plan’s authors failed to consult General McChrystal.

Young adults would serve full-time in national service corps. The civilian national service corps would be in areas where full-time civilian national service has been shown to make a significant difference.

A national service corps without a bloated federal bureaucracy? Impossible. Moreover, we see another disturbing trend in the Plan’s text at this point: emphasis on good done by volunteers instead of on the good done to volunteers. This is a big problem throughout the rest of the plan, as Buckley pointed out in Gratitude:

While acknowledging the good can that be done to the various beneficiaries, we reiterate that we have primarily in mind the good that is done to the volunteers themselves.

Before getting bogged down in motives, let’s move on to look at he constituent elements of this national service corps. These I will critique individually:

  • Education Corps: to mobilize youth to serve in our lowest-performing schools, while working to 
ensure that every young child receives the high-quality education they need to succeed in the 21st century;
    • If operated by the states or communities, this is probably a worthwhile goal. I do not see a role for the Department of Education, though, as the DoE has all but destroyed America’s schools, particularly poor schools
    • If this is just a lobbying team to press for every-increasing taxes, we can do without an Education Corps
    • The challenge of this corps is to give volunteers tasks challenging enough to let them grow
  • Conservation Corps: to help restore the health of America’s endangered parks and rivers and engage youth in other conservation and clean energy efforts;
    • Conservation corps in every state that wants one could offer a fantastic experience for volunteers, just as Reagan’s Ecology Corps did in California
    • The idea of “engaging youth in other conservation and clean energy efforts bothers me. Does that mean lobbying for laws to advance bad science? Does it mean rooting through my garbage for the stray aluminum can in the wrong bin? Does it mean knocking on doors telling citizens to turn some lights off? These are not activities that do good to the volunteers
  • Opportunity Corps: to support programs to empower low-income Americans and to engage youth disconnected from school and work in full-time national service;
    • This sounds like ACORN, frankly. Let’s just say “no” to the opportunity corps.
    • The powerless, low-income Americans can develop skills and self-esteem by volunteering in one of the programs that does not simply admire the virtues of poverty
  • Health and Nutrition Corps: to educate young people on the importance of good nutrition, physical activity, and preventative [sic] care, and to enhance the quality of life, address the childhood hunger problem, and lower health care costs;
    • This is school, not service
    • I see few opportunities here for good things to happen to the volunteers
    • Or do the obese kids get shoved into this program?
    • If the last, then lets take the kids with dietary and exercise issues and turn them over the likes of B. T. Collins for hard work and a five A.M. reveille.
  • Veterans Corps: to recognize, support, and utilize veterans as civic assets and leaders through civilian national service by and for veterans and to expand opportunities for civilian national service members to support veterans and military families;
    • Veterans affairs being a legitimate federal issues, I have no problems with this
    • Even the idea of providing opportunities for civilians makes sense, since the beneficiaries are veterans
    • Being a veteran myself, I assure you volunteers in this program will have opportunities to develop patients and self-esteem J
  • Professional Corps: to enable young lawyers, health care professionals, financial experts,
technology specialists, and other professionals to unleash their talents to help address public problems and help those in need; and
    • Um, no.
    • Let the people with advanced degrees work in private industry and serve as mentors
    • This is way for government to get cheap labor
    • If states, schools, churches, and communities want to run these program, I can say OK, but it’s not a federal matter
  • International Service Corps: to provide opportunities to serve to help strengthen education, health, the environment, information technology, and small business creation around the world.
    • Why not
    • But these functions should be done by and through charities, not the federal government

I don’t like the list of sub corps at all. Yes, I said “ok” to a few items, but the notion of a national service corps leads to all those horrible outcomes that panicked Milton Friedman.

I particularly detest the Opportunity Corps, and so should anyone who believes in service. Because, as William F. Buckley wrote:

[T]here is one decisive way to sentence national service to death, and that is to conceive of it as a fight against poverty. The diminution of poverty is properly a national objective, but to confuse it with national service is to play the sorcerer’s apprentice. Only confusion and chaos will result from tampering with the suitable formula.

And Buckley goes on to point out the impossibility of eliminating poverty:

It is regularly left to crabby conservatives to point out that poverty will almost always be defined as that condition in which, roughly, the lowest-earning quintile of Americans live, never mind reassuring historical comparisons between the material level of life led by the poor of 1990 [or 2015], and the level of life in which families judges relatively affluent by contemporary evaluations lived earlier in the century.

Bingo. About 20 years ago, I fired off an angry column about a World Health Organization report identifying the principle health issue facing America’s poor as obesity.


I have no doubt the WHO report is true, but until the late twentieth century, obesity was a physical-economic impossibility for America’s middle quintiles, much less its bottom. A few extra pounds were the proud symbols of wealth until the War on Poverty made Doritos and television national rights.

When it comes to the War on Poverty, our volunteers can make love instead.

At this point, there’s no need to further critique the plan’s specific goals. Instead, my advice to the Franklin Project is to go back to the drawing board, this time with a more balanced representation from conservative schools of thought. If, that is, conservatives are willing to help.

Within the flawed plan dwell a few items conservatives can support, such as the veterans corps. Turned over to state, private, or charitable organizations, many of the other concepts can serve as directional goals for a national service program. (Well, except for the food and trash police, and the poverty programs.)

The Franklin Project’s Plan of Action seems to have follow a predictable development pattern: someone points out a good idea, conservatives ignore it, liberals rush to exploit it, and we are left with what the liberals hand them. Stanley McChrystal seems to have opened up the idea of a service ethos which attracted two types: believers in service and believers in government. In the battle over the Plan of Action, believers in government won.

That does not excuse conservatives from their duty to try to influence things like The Franklin Project. Being reflexively independent and bent toward sticking with the status quo, conservatives tend to leave ideas like national service to others. When the “others” fill the void we leave with plans to grow government, we turn on, not only the plan, but the idea itself. We must resist that impulse.

A conservative lion, William Buckley, pointed out the need for an ethos of national service 41 years ago and again with renewed vigor 25 years ago. How did conservatives respond? We let the left pick up the ball and run with it.

Tomorrow in part 4, I will attempt to explain why conservatives should care about the issue of service and the consequences of stomping our feet and shouting “no.” Part 5 will propose simple first steps toward a conservative service solution.

Thanks for your patience.

How Emphasis on Race Hurts Efforts to Reform Municipal Courts

Reading Time: 3 minutes

My story on the Justice Department’s Ferguson report addressed race early. .

So let’s have a little blunt talk about race from a West County white guy’s point of view (which is alway helpful).

Faction A and Faction B

Whenever race comes up, two large factions shut down. They shut down intellectually because ‘race’ touches an irrational, emotional nerve.

Faction A views every issue as a race problem. They see rain at a picnic as racist. They see horse racing as racist. They see the neighbor’s barking dog as racism, even if the dog and its owner are black. Doesn’t matter. Anything that bothers them must have racism as its cause. This group assumed Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown because Michael Brown is black, and no evidence in the world will change their minds.

Faction B views every problem as a false accusation of racism. If Faction B sees a KKK member burning a cross, it  blame the race-mongers for putting Section 8 housing where some gentleman needed to start a fire. This group believes every time a police officer shoots someone, arrests someone, or pulls over someone, the police action was justified and necessary. No. Matter. What. This tweet, in response to yesterday’s headline, is a perfect example of Faction B reaction:

As soon as either faction hears “race,” it exits the conversation. They leave the conversation because the word triggers a default script in their minds. Everything to them is literally black or white.

And these are two really big factions. Both factions are so big that united they can do anything and divided they can stop everything.

If we hope to resolve the problems of police and courts shaking down citizens, we must unite these two factions. But declaring any problem a racial problem divides these two factions.

So what’s the solution?

I don’t have the full answer, but I know it starts with leadership, because all problems are leadership problems.

Leaders must rise above the race card. That’s not to say leaders ignore racial problems. It means leaders accept the racial factors involve, then address the causes of the problem.

Let’s use Ferguson as an example.

Race and Ferguson

I recognize that race is a factor in Ferguson, and I said as much in yesterday’s post. But gazing at the race problem does nothing but satisfy Faction A (“I told you so”) and irritating the Faction B (“There they go again.”) Real leaders must acknowledge the obvious: abusive courts and fine-wielding police in Ferguson disproportionally hurt African-Americans.

And that’s where the racial conversation must end.

Blaming Ferguson’s problems on race is like blaming a cavity on tooth decay. The decay is the thing you can see, but the cavity didn’t cause itself. Bad hygiene and diet and maybe a little genetics caused the problem. While drilling and filling the cavity will stop the pain, the next tooth over will soon rot.

In Ferguson, the problem is government. The people in government who created the problem did not decide “let’s mess with the black people.” They decided, “let’s use the police and courts to pull in more money.” Black people disproportionately got in the way of that money grab. The money grab, not racism, caused distrust of the police and courts. Since the police and courts are mostly white and the people mostly black, race was a factor in the result, not necessarily in the cause.

Put another way, there is no racial remedy for what’s wrong in Ferguson, but fixing Ferguson will disproportionately benefit African-Americans. And that’s a good thing.

Seize the Blessing | Ignore the Curse

Leaders must want to fix the problem, not be proven right about its cause. Addressing the real problem of overextended municipal government and unprincipled leaders like Judge Ronald Brockmeyer will alleviate the  most obvious race problem of poor blacks going to jail and getting poorer.

The Justice Department’s report on Ferguson was both a blessing and a curse. The blessing was pointing out how corrupt and destructive is the practice of “taxation by citation,” to use Senator Eric Schmitt’s fantastic phrase. The curse of the DOJ report was its over-emphasis on race as a cause.

If our leaders focus on the blessing in the DOJ report, we can unite the factions and do anything that needs to be done. Unity will improve the race problem. But admiring the problem does nothing.


One Irrefutable Definition of Leadership from Tom Landry

Reading Time: 4 minutes

It’s funny, really, that America celebrates the day we signed up to fight a brutal war for independence, not the day that war was won.

But I want to write about football.

I’ve always hated the Dallas Cowboys.

Cut me a little slack, though. I was a Big Red fan from childhood, and a season ticket holder from 1978 to 1983. (“Big Red” refers to the St. Louis Football Cardinals for those of you under 40.) My heroes were Conrad Dobler, Dan Dierdorf, Jim Hart, Tim Van Gelder, Terry Metcalf, Jim Otis, Council Roudolf, Roger Wherle, Larry Stallings, Larry Wilson, J.V. Cain, Roger Finney, Tom Banks, Bob Young, Mel Grey, Roy Green, Pat Tilley, Ottis Anderson, Theotis Brown, Jim Bakken, Johnny “Dr. Doom” Barefield . . . shall I go on?

The St. Louis Cardinals played in the NFC East in the 1970s and 1980s, along with the Dallas Cowboys, the Washington Redskins, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the New York Giants. That was a killer division back then, and the Cowboys were killerest of all.

My anti-Cowboy aquifer runs so deep and cold that I once said, “If the Cowboys were playing al Qaeda I don’t know who I’d root for.”

As I matured . . . Strike that. I haven’t matured.

After the Cardinals moved onto Phoenix, my passions against the Cowboys subsided a bit. When Jerry Jones crassly fired the legendary coach Tom Landry, I immediately became a Tom Landry fan. Landry might have been the wisest and most gentlemanly NFL head coach of all time.

Tom Landry took winning as seriously as the next guy, but football and winning were not the most important things to Landry. In 1979, he berated and fired linebacker Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson because Henderson was goofing with a camera while his team was getting massacred on the football field.

Landry did more than humiliate Henderson, though. He might have saved Henderson’s life:

Just this morning, 9/11/94, I heard Hollywood Henderson — X-Cowboy of considerable fame — from Austin on the Fox Network. He said that in the days when he was playing for the Cowboys and “at the same time doing drugs,” and “ruining his life,” he “resented Tom Landry.” He resented Tom Landry’s Christianity, and the fact that he had a happy family life.

Now, in 1994, after spending some time in prison, and after 11 years of being free of his drug addiction, Hollywood Henderson says that he has a little different slant on life. He said that he once was hopeless, but is now hopeful. He says that today, Tom Landry is his “role model”!

The Hollywood Henderson story typifies Tom Landry’s simple definition of leadership:

Leadership is getting someone to do what they don’t want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve.

—Tom Landry, Hall of Fame Coach of the Dallas Cowboys

Few people actually want to lift weights, eat healthy diets, and build stamina. But we all want to avoid disease, live long lives, and look good in a swimming suit. We need someone to help us do what we don’t want to do so we can achieve what we want to achieve. That someone is a leader.

America didn’t want to go through another deep recession in the early 1980s, but Ronald Reagan and Paul Volcker knew we wanted America to flourish again, so they orchestrated an interest rate driven recession that finally choked out inflation—from 13.5% in 1981 to 3.2% in 1983.

And the Revolutionary Army didn’t want to winter in Valley Forge, but Washington helped them fight through to ultimate victory and independence.

I know some people don’t like my criticizing Republicans who put their own personal agenda or the party’s power before American greatness and freedom. I sure don’t like it. Many are even more reluctant to get leverage on the GOP with bold actions. People worry that getting political leverage on Republicans could help Democrats and their anti-freedom agenda.

But we need more than a victorious Republican Party. We really don’t care about the name of the party that delivers us from tyranny, crony capitalism, and fascism. We want a strong, prosperous, and free America. In the words of the preamble to the Constitution, we want to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and posterity.

When I encourage liberty lovers to get some leverage against miscreant Republicans, I do it only because I want us to achieve what we all want to achieve. And I recognize that achieving our big goals often requires doing things we don’t want to do.

Here’s what Hollywood Henderson said about Tom Landry:

I have a vision of him standing on that tower. He was maybe three stories above the team in training camp. That’s sort of where I remember him the five years I was in the Cowboys’ training camp–30 feet in the air overseeing us. Untouchable. We couldn’t throw a rock and hit him. I tell you, you sort of didn’t like him. You were afraid of him. You resented him. But when the dust settled, you wanted to be like him. When you had a family, took care of a company, managed people, you idolized him.


I think it’s a uniquely American quality that we commemorate the dates we signed up to do the hard work, not the dates we accomplished the mission. July 4th, 1776. December 7, 1941. September 11, 2001. We are a people of rash vows. Or, at least, we wish we were.

G. K. Chesterton wrote an essay “In Defence of Rash Vows.” In it, he summarized the importance of this American tendency to celebrate the making of the vow:

The man who makes a vow makes an appointment with himself at some distant time or place. The danger of it is that himself should not keep the appointment. And in modern times this terror of one’s self, of the weakness and mutability of one’s self, has perilously increased, and is the real basis of the objection to vows of any kind. 

Tom Landry’s leadership gives us the confidence to make appointments with ourselves in the future so long as we have leaders who will drive us to do what we don’t want to do in order that might keep our appointment.

I never wanted to like Tom Landry. But I want to achieve the kind of things he achieved–helping people reach their goals even those goals required them doing things they don’t want to do.

Now, I’m going to work out.