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I’ve Not Visited Here In a While…

The Art of Manliness! (a blog to which I often refer) (in part)

Decluttering Your Digital Life

Hamlet’s Blackberry. The Joy of Missing Out. Irresistible. Reclaiming Conversation. The Tech-Wise Family.

Recent years have seen a boom in books (and articles) about being digitally mindful — putting down the smartphone, closing the computer, and engaging with real-world, tactile things. All this content makes the case that our devices are sapping a bit of our soul.

And I have to agree. Here on the Art of Manliness, we’ve written about FOMO (and interviewed Christina Crook about JOMO), breaking the smartphone habit, the importance of conversation in a digital world, and more.

This isn’t to say that the digital revolution is a bad thing, just that it needs a little more mindfulness than simply picking up the latest iPhone and diving into the digital ocean with reckless abandon.

In reading these commentaries on the effects technology is having on our lives, and considering both the negative and positive sides of the coin, it occurred to me that perhaps the best way of thinking about how we should engage our digital spaces, is to compare it to how we inhabit our physical ones.

In the same way that “analog” possessions are neither good or bad in and of themselves, but only detract rather than enhance our lives when they become too great in number, require too much maintenance, and clutter up our garages, kitchens, and bedrooms, apps and websites aren’t inherently problematic, but become such when they overwhelm our devices and require too much attention. When they become digital clutter.

Just as physical clutter can cloud the mind and hinder your focus, so can digital clutter. It takes up an inordinate amount of mental space and bandwidth.

Fortunately, just like with physical clutter too, the digital variety can be readily sorted through, organized, and cleaned up. By making the effort to do some digital decluttering — putting everything in its place and ditching what isn’t desirable — you’ll be able to focus better, breathe easier, and reclaim many of those spare moments that have been lost to endless scrolling on Facebook and Instagram.

If you’re ready to vacuum up some digital dust, clean out your closet of apps, and pare down your technological junk drawer, then grab a metaphorical trash bag, and let’s get to work.

The Harm of Digital Clutter

Just as physical clutter leads to stress and a muddled mind, so does digital clutter. It leaves you with what author Scott Hartley calls “constant partial attention.”

It works in the same way that physical clutter sometimes leaves you unable to fully focus on a task: You need to finish up some administrative work at home, but you know there’s a pile of mail that needs your attention, the living room needs vacuuming, and the coat closet is bursting at the seams with junk.

The digital version: Your inbox has thousands of messages. Your smartphone notification window is alerting you to 6 different social media apps that need your attention. You have 19 tabs open, each with some purpose that you’ve probably already forgotten. You have a conversation going with a family member in a variety of different places — text message, Facebook messenger, email — and you can’t keep track of what was last said.

With all that going on just in your little device that you hold in your hand, it becomes impossible to truly focus on any one thing, let alone something that’s truly important.

Scott Hartley states this problem well in The Fuzzy and the Techie:

“It’s a process of constant minor interruptions that delude us into thinking that we’re highly engaged across a number of shallow conversations, but in fact, we’re just continually, partially attuned.”

The very technology that we’ve created has in fact very slowly hijacked all of us. As Christina Crook notes, “Facebook in 2006 was fun, Facebook in 2016 is downright addicting.”

You know the feeling of satisfaction, relaxation, and relief that comes when you’ve tidied up your room or house? It’s the exact same when you tidy up your digital life. You regain the ability to focus on important things — not necessarily productive things, but important things like your family, a good book, even a great meal. (When’s the last time you went a day without checking your smartphone during a meal?)

Identify and Inventory the Problem

The task of physical decluttering often starts by surveying what areas of the house have become overly filled with junk, and deciding on a rubric for figuring out what should stay and what should go.

The job of digital decluttering should begin in the same way.

In The Joy of Missing Out, Christina Crook offers a helpful yardstick for evaluating the effects of our digital “possessions.”

She was inspired by a seemingly unlikely and decidedly un-modern source: Saint Ignatius Loyola, who lived in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

While it’s unlikely he created the discipline, he considered what he called “The Examination of Consciousness” (sometimes shortened to simply be called “Examine”) to be the most important spiritual practice one could partake in. It was really quite simple — twice a day, the Christian practitioner would guide themselves through a reflection of their actions and time spent, using the 10 commandments as a guide.

With Ignatius’ Examine as a starting point, Crook created a shorter, modern, secular version designed to inspire reflection. She asks readers to inquire of themselves, on a daily basis, two things (and in this case especially, thinking with your device and internet habits top of mind):

  1. What today was most life-giving?
  2. What today was most life-taking?

In just two days of practicing this contemporary Examine I came to realize that most of my digital actions were far more life-taking than giving. What was most life-giving in a normal day? A splendid cup of coffee in the morning alongside a real book, a breath of fresh air in the middle of the day, playing with my son after picking him up from daycare, writing a letter to a friend. Not once in my reflections has anything social media or internet-related been most life-giving.

And yet, before this digital decluttering, I spent a lot of my time on my phone. Granted, I was better than a lot of people. It’s rare that phone time was truly disrupting something, but in spare moments I was playing games, or perusing Facebook, or trying to pick which adorable picture of my kid to post to Instagram. Those spare moments really added up — I’m a little ashamed to say that my game of choice was Two Dots, and I got up to level 1,006 before recently working up the nerve to delete it.

Viewing my digital habits through Crook’s Examine questions helped me to identify the areas of my tech habits that were problematic, and gave me criteria on which needed to be re-organized, pared down, or eliminated.

Before beginning your own decluttering project, I recommend engaging in the same illuminative exercise. The insights that you get will be different than mine, which will allow you to create a more personal plan.

In a lot of the material out there on digital detoxing, you’ll find plenty of prescriptive advice. The thing with clutter (of any kind), though, is that it’s actually fairly personal. A desk with piles of of books and papers and mail on it doesn’t bother me, but a sink full of dishes does. Some folks are just the opposite. Similarly, an email inbox with more than 30 messages in it stresses me out, while plenty of people have never deleted or archived anything and are perfectly happy to leave it that way.

You’ll have to find out for yourself what bothers you — what takes up mental space — and what doesn’t. Don’t necessarily just blindly follow what’s been recommended by others. Experiment and tailor your digital decluttering to your wants and needs.

How to Declutter Your Digital Life

Once you’ve determined which of your digital habits are more life-taking than life-giving, it’s time to take a broom to the former.

Below I walk you through some steps — both easy and not-so-easy — to tidy things up. Some of them may seem a little intense, but I encourage you to give them a try. As Flannery O’Connor wrote, and as The Strenuous Life implores — “Push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you.”

Since our age is pushing us hard into the abstract and distracting, don’t be afraid to be similarly ruthless with your decluttering — to go to what other people might call “extremes.” You can always add back in what you miss and what you discover is truly life-giving. Sometimes when cleaning up, you just need to throw it all out and start with a blank slate.

Christina Crook did this by going internet-free for 31 days. After going nuclear for a month, she added back in what was useful and beneficial (and also kept the good habits and routines she discovered in that month).

Kyle Eschenroeder did something similar with his Input Deprivation Week. For seven days, he lived without blogs, social media, and online news sites of any kind (among other non-internet forms of input too). He realized the space they were taking up in his life, and noticed a slew of benefits from taking a break:

“It will increase mindfulness, increase the respect you have for your own ideas, you’ll have more ideas, unsolvable life problems may begin to make sense, you’ll have an increased appreciation for the news that actually matters, you’ll become more social, you’ll gain perspective, and you’ll become more original.”

With the principle of doing more rather than less in mind, let’s get into specific tactics for reducing the digital clutter in your life:

Cull your email inbox. Let your inbox become a sacred space. By utilizing filters for any advertising or social media email, and by unsubscribing to anything I’m not actively interested in reading, my inbox has become a place where I know that almost anything that comes in is either important, or from a friend or loved one (which I’m interested in even if it isn’t all that important!).

Rather than letting Redbox into your inbox to tell you the new releases, just go to the website when you want to rent a movie. Rather than letting Target suck you in with coupons, search out the coupons when you need something.

Practice Inbox Zero if you’re into that; if it doesn’t bother you, not a big deal. Personally though, knowing I have a fairly empty inbox at the end of the day clears up a bunch of mental space.

Get rid of apps on your homescreen(s). The homescreens on our smartphones are hotbeds for clutter. Between apps, folders for apps, and notifications, it’s pretty much constantly beckoning for our attention. If you have an Android phone, if you delete an app from a homescreen, it’s not gone, it just goes away into a slightly-harder-to-access app section. I’ve done this, so if I want to get to Instagram, I’ve added a step besides simply unlocking my phone. I now have to navigate to apps, then to Instagram. Just one extra step has me checking on a weekly basis rather than a few-times-per-day basis. My homescreen now only has apps that I use regularly for life-giving or practical purposes: Kindle, flashlight, kid’s mode, camera, phone, email, text messaging, and Starbucks. And boy is it nice.

(On iPhones, it’s a little harder, as apps are downloaded automatically onto the homescreen. Utilize folders, multiple homescreens with less on them, or the below option of losing your apps altogether.)

Decluttered homescreen(s), decluttered mind. You’ll no longer be mindlessly sucked into 20 minutes of Facebook scrolling because you’re worried you’re missing out on something. If you don’t see that little blue F button, there’s a good chance you won’t even think about it (or if you do, you’ll think about it much less).

Ditch apps altogether and use your browser or your computer. Frankly, I love this tactic. Get rid of all the apps on your phone and force yourself to use its browser, or your home computer, when you need a social media fix or to search for something. Apps are clutter. Period.

Need to look up flights? Right now? Doubtful. It can wait until you’re in front of a computer. If it can’t, use your phone’s browser. In general, apps give us permission to feel the need to check or look something up instantly, when that is rarely, if ever, a true need. We check the weather app constantly only because we can. Ten years ago we survived with weather reports on the news, maybe looking it up on a computer, or heaven forbid, stepping outside to feel the temp and look at the sky. Now, I check the temperature on my phone while standing in front of a window. Seems a little silly.

As noted above, don’t be afraid to go nuclear with your apps and mass delete things, and if you find you really need something, download it again knowing that it’s truly useful.

Ditch all notifications. Okay, this is somewhat prescriptive advice. Notifications are clutter, just like a pile of mail on your table is clutter. It’s stuff that’s just begging to be opened and looked at and dealt with. Except whereas your mailbox might have 5 items to look through, between email and social media and news alerts, you could have hundreds of things to wade through every day. Mental clutter.

Treat your notifications more like you do your actual mailbox. When you get snail mail, it’s not chucked through the window at you the instant it arrives at the postal service’s distribution center. That would be rather distracting. Instead, it’s sorted and delivered in a bundle all together at a single time during the day. Take 15-20 minutes once or twice a day to check email, news, social media, etc. Don’t let it clutter your day and interrupt the important things you’re doing.

And while you’ll generally think of notifications in terms of your smartphone, ditch ‘em on your computer too. There are multiple inboxes I keep track of for work, but I’ve limited desktop notifications to only my main account. And I’ve also disabled all social media desktop notifications. Those are things that can be checked at set times during the day.

Stick to 1-2 social networks. I have personally found that trying to maintain regular use of multiple social networks to be just too much. It takes a lot of brainspace to check and be active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnapChat, and more all in the same day. So I’ve decided that in addition to deleting most apps from my phone, I won’t even try to keep up with more than Facebook or Instagram, and won’t maintain a presence on even those platforms beyond posting a weekly or bi-weekly photo. I’ve also taken up letter writing to keep in touch with people I truly care about. It’s far more satisfying for both parties than simply “liking” a social media update.

Put your phone away. When you come home and throw your keys into a basket, catchall, or other small container, toss your phone in with them. When it’s with you — and in your pocket — the mental clutter of an entire internet’s worth of headlines and viral videos can be too much to resist. Having your phone always next to you is like having a stack of newspapers and magazines on the floor that you have yet to read. Only when you ditch the newspapers because you realize they’re literally old news will the mental space they’re crouching on be freed up. Same goes with your phone. Those memes don’t call to you if your phone isn’t within reach.

Change your “zoning out” routine. Plenty of people, myself included, cite phone use as a way to zone out and chillax a little bit at certain points throughout the day. Maybe you had a long day at work, or your kids were being extra rambunctious during dinner. So when it’s time to kick back and relax a little, you grab your phone for some mindless browsing and social media scrolling. You need to just not think for a little bit.

But in doing so, you’re adding to your digital and mental clutter. You’re actually filling your brain with more FOMO and more headlines that don’t usually convey anything important. You want to empty your mind, but you’re only adding to it.

Rather than zoning out by engaging the digital clutter, do something else. Anything else. Pick up a book — some easy-reading cheap thriller will do. Sit outside with a homebrew or a cocktail and watch the sunset. Bake some bread. Carve a spoon. Jumpstart your journaling. These are the things that will truly declutter your digital life. While your phone calls you in a million different directions and to dozens of apps to constantly check, doing something tactile often requires that you focus on one thing at a time.

While these actions often necessitate more effort to start than simply grabbing your phone, resolve to do it, and once you’re in the moment, you’ll realize it’s far better than staring at a screen.

When it comes to spring cleaning this year, don’t just think of tidying up your physical spaces, but take time to declutter your digital ones too. Determine which of your digital devices, apps, and emails are taking from your life rather than giving to it, and organize or eliminate the vitality suckers. “A place for everything and everything in its place,” doesn’t just apply to your clothes and dishes, but to your phone, and your habits, too.

Do I follow their sage advice?  Not as much or as often as I should.

But I AM learning!

 

I’m NOT Mentioning Her Name In The Title

(Because I loathe her, her actions, and her serial rapist husband, whom she supports! – Guffaw)

(from Brock Townsend)

While I am skeptical of where this will lead, it is noteworthy to see that this report comes from NBC and more specifically Chuck Todd.  In a report earlier this week, NBC reported that there were allegations that while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, the quashed investigations into a prostitution and pedophile ring that was operating inside the department in order to avoid scandal and protect high-ranking employees and an ambassador.

“Serious allegations concerning the State Department,” the NBC anchor said.  “According to internal State Department memos the agency might have called off or intervened into investigations into possibly illegal, inappropriate behavior within its ranks allegedly to protect jobs and avoid scandals.

“This concerns a time when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.”

There have been rumors for years regarding the misdeed crimes involving the Clintons, but only in the past couple have I seen allegations of them concerning pedophilia, specifically involving Bill and Hillary’s covering up of the same.
Nice a blip made the mainstream media.
Finally.
(I delayed reposting this Brock Townsend for a few weeks, in part to see whether or not the MSM would run with it, and where it would lead.
Crickets.
I should have known. – Guffaw)

 

 

Is THIS That To Which We’ve Come?

I truly hope not!

A dear friend (and regular reader of this humble blog) recently attended a talk presented by the President of the Arizona Republic (newspaper).

The president outlined her personal history, then presented what was countenanced as  ‘the toxic culture that is America today’.

Summarized by my friend, as follows:

She was part of the historic decision of the paper to endorse Hillary Clinton for President, the first Democrat ever endorsed for President in the paper’s 126 year history.  She was only part of that decision.  The board, heavily conservative, many of them Goldwater Republicans, considered their decision very carefully.  They discussed the options, giving no endorsement at all, endorsing a third-party candidate, or Clinton (which they eventually did).
For them, it was never a partisan  choice, they had endorsed John Kasich in the primaries. For them, it was on their consideration of fitness for office.  They knew it was weighty decision.  They knew it would cost them business.  They knew that it would be an unpopular choice for many in a Republican dominated state.  But an endorsement of Trump was never in the cards for them.  Something I didn’t know, but was interesting to learn.
What they were unprepared for, was the volcano of ugliness that followed.  Death threats came in by the hundreds.  Targeted personally toward individuals on the board.  Things like:  We know where you live.  We know where your children go to school.  We know the license plate on your car.  We know where you park.  We are going to do to you what was done to Don Bolles.  You will die.  We will kill your family.  Hundreds of these.  Every day.
Threats came by phone, by mail, in person, via email (of course).  People attempting to sell subscriptions were spat upon, had guns brandished in their faces.  It got so bad that the Republic ceased trying to make in-person subscription sales.
One extreme right-wing Catholic group spammed her email 5000 times a day.
Her response, in part:
I was horrified.  This is America?  This is what we do to people who disagree with us politically?  I’ve had my share of political arguments.  I’ve vented anger, but I never imagined anything like this.
Thankfully, nobody was actually killed, although there were several assaults.
All over an ENDORSEMENT.  A simple statement of opinion.
It is ongoing.  She said that she now “only” gets 2-3 death threats a day.  Although, every time Trump calls the press “enemies of the people” or complains about the press, there is another spike.
One man calls every day, just to say, “I hate you and think you should die.”
This is what we’ve come to.
Well, I’m not going to be a part of it any more.  I will state my opinions, exercise my freedom of speech, but I will never again engage in behavior that dehumanizes or could be perceived as threatening to people who disagree with me.
Civil discourse begins with me.  I hope it doesn’t end there.
I’m interested in this blog’s readership response, if any.  Of course, any non-civil discourse or threats will be dealt with as appropriate.
I’ve my own opinions on the matter, which I may present at a later date.
Anyone?

 

From Not Clauswitz

media-collusion.jpg

Now, it makes sense that people who travel in the same circles with similar interests would meet and perhaps get involved.  Or married.

And their are examples of opposites – Mary Matalin and James Carville, for example.

But, it does make one wonder…

A Question Posed By Quizikle

( from Quizikle, in part)

But the patriotic garb worn by some Valley High School students on Wednesday upset students at Des Moines North High School, which is described as being more diverse and full of refugee families.”

Diversity or not. Refugee or not. Welcome to America, this is what we do.
If you’re offended by displays of Americanism IN America, WTF did y’all come here for?

I recall at the time of the Iranian hullabaloo running into Iranian students that happened to be here at that time. There was quite a mix of pro-Shah and pro-whoever. The only thing the two sides could agree on was their dislike for America. I had the opportunity to get into a conversation with one of the pro-Shah folks and this person was adamant about the evils of the US. I asked why he didn’t go back home then. His response was that he would be killed if he went back and being in the US was essentially saving his life.

He could not seem to grasp the concept of being a guest – or even being welcomed as a new member of the family – and not peeing in your host’s living room.

Which seems to be a common attitude today (including among many California refugees):
Wow! We got out. Thanks for taking us in. Now we demand you make this place more like the home we left.”

Except the “Thanks” part is usually left out.

FoxNews: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/03/13/wearing-red-white-and-blue-lands-high-school-students-in-hot-water.html

Immigration?  I’ve NO PROBLEM with LEGAL IMMIGRANTS!  Those who want to join the rest of us in the Great American Experiment in our Constitutional Republic.

Many immigrants brought with them elements from their own countries:  St. Patrick’s Day, with the ‘everyone’s Irish’ for a day meme.  Mexicans, with their wonderful foods (I LOVE Sonoran fare!)

BUT, if your goal in coming here is to destroy The Republic, through terrorism or mandatory imposition of your idea of law (Sharia?), you might as well stay home.

Jus’ sayin…

 

What To Do? Put ‘Em In The Corner?

(from Kenny)

The Australian school board condones this?

Teachers at a primary school in Sydney, Australia have been threatened with beheading and other violence from young Islamic students, prompting one of them to quit her job.

Students as young as those in Year 5, according to the Daily Telegraph, are making the violent threats and pressuring others to read the Koran at Punchbowl Public School in Sydney.

Documents given to the newspaper allege that three staff members have taken a leave of absence owing to stress, received counselling and been awarded compensation after bullying from Islamic students.
MORE

Political Correctness is killing Europe, Asia, and has landed here.

Teachers not allowed to control their classrooms?  Of course, we are seeing that here, as well.  Just not to THIS degree (yet).

At least we have a Bill of Rights.  Australia has none – although some of their States have ‘something’.

You know I’m all for property trained personnel with guns in schools.  Australia, not so pro-gun.  If a terrorist presents a viable threat against an administrator, teacher or student, there would be a solution here.

I don’t care is they are another student!  If they are armed and refuse to stand down and be arrested…

Staff members being bullied?

I don’t think so…

We Should Learn From WHO? France?!

(from Free North Carolina)

France’s Death Spiral

Via Frank

  • In 1990, the “Gayssot law” was passed, stipulating that “any discrimination based on ethnicity, nation, race or religion is prohibited”. Since then, it has been used to criminalize any criticism of Arab and African delinquency, any question on immigration from the Muslim world, any negative analysis of Islam. Many writers have been fined and most “politically incorrect” books on those topics have disappeared from bookshops.
  • The French government asked the media to obey the “Gayssot law.” It also asked that history textbooks be rewritten to include chapters on the crimes committed by the West against Muslims, and on the “essential contribution” of Islam to humanity. All history textbooks are “Islamically correct.”
  • In hospitals, Muslims are increasingly asking to be treated only by Muslim doctors, and refusing to let their wives be treated by male doctors.

February 2, 2017: A “no-go zone” in the eastern suburbs of Paris. Police on patrol hear screams. They decide to check. While there, a young man insults them. They decide to arrest him. He hits them. A fight starts. He accuses a policeman of having raped him with a police baton. A police investigation quickly establishes that the young man was not raped. But it is too late; a toxic process has begun.

Political correctness is killing Europe, literally!
AND, it will kill the United States.

The Whole Cloth Of History

(from Free North Carolina)

Save the Robert E. Lee Statue

Via Billy

Image may contain: text

In an article entitled “Historic Preservation Still Unites Us” First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe touts the worthiness of historic preservation: “May we Virginians, and all Americans, continue to enjoy history through preservation and never take for granted that its lessons are the guideposts to a better future.”

We could not agree more with this statement but recognize that in the Commonwealth of Virginia there exists a hypocritical double-standard regarding historic preservation. Confederate monuments and memorials are currently the lowest hanging fruit – ripe and easy targets for those who view history with tunnel vision. It should not be this way – we as Americans should protect our past instead of shunning it. Existing memorials in our public spaces should not be banished from their long-standing locations based on emotion and divisive politics. The poet John Donne famously wrote “no man is an island,” and these monuments are not islands either – they are connected to the communities in which they reside. And they tell a story, not just about the events and people they depict, but about those who commissioned and sculpted them to vivid life. If historic preservation matters, it should matter for all Registered Historic Landmarks, and not just those deemed “acceptable” by the powers that be.

The attorneys retained to fight Charlottesville City Council’s vote to remove the Robert E. Lee Monument from Lee Park are diligently preparing their case. Rest assured that they do not take this charge lightly and will proceed with filing at the precise and practicable moment.

We appreciate your patience, support and contributions as this issue moves forward. If you have donated, Thank You. We have been touched by the messages we have received and the willingness of people across the country and even overseas to contribute to save history. If you haven’t donated and feel this issue is important, please consider a contribution – no amount is too small to help us win this battle:

Online
Checks payable to: The Monument Fund, Inc., P.O. Box 483, Charlottesville, Virginia 22902. All contributions are tax deductible.

The idea such actions to save historical monuments are even necessary is horrific! 
First, I’m a believer in this Nation’s history, warts and all.
Second, didn’t the United States Congress pass legislation almost 100 years ago stating that ALL military participants in the Civil War (or the War Between the States, or the recent unpleasantness, if you prefer!) were VETERANS as such deserving of remembrance and monuments as much as the Union soldiers?
And that desecration or removal of military monuments was against federal law?

Confederate Soldiers are American Veterans by Act of Congress

Sadly, this is not the only location or action taken against Confederate monuments.  Politically correct forces are continuing to try to erase American History (and by extension free speech), lest the young learn about the whole cloth of history!
It’s disgusting!
Please help if you can.

The Return Of BUREAUCRATIZILLA!

I’ve posted about the bane of my existence – BUREAUCRATIZILLA9 times previously!  And, they’ve not picked up the hint!

Not coincidentally, in today’s quote:

“Millions are fascinated by the plan to transform the whole world into a bureau, to make everybody a bureaucrat, and to wipe out any private initiative. The paradise of the future is visualized as an all-embracing bureaucratic apparatus. . . . Streams of blood have been shed for the realization of this ideal.” – Ludwig von Mises

(Please, let me preface this to state my roommate and I are barely scraping by.  Me on my disability benefits, her on survivor’s benefits.  She can work some, when her infirmities allow.  NO, this is NOT a bleg!  –  Guffaw)

Last week, my roommate received a letter regarding her Survivor’s Benefits from The Social Security Administration.  In short, because she reached a certain age, and changed her supplemental insurance, they decided to deduct previously gov’t paid insurance premiums for two months (essentially cutting her modest benefit in HALF!) then begin repaying her the Survivor’s Benefit (at a lower rate!) the third month.  She only began receiving her Survivor’s Benefit last year, and could have been receiving it for the previous three years, but did not know it was available.

And this, just when she has been working less due to illness (she is a contract employee), and is preparing to have surgery next month!

It couldn’t have come at a worse time…

BUT, there was a mention on the Social Security letter of an appeal process.  As NO ONE was reachable by phone without an extension(!), we had to go into the Social Security satellite office, take a number, and wait about 20 minutes to get the required appeal form.  (After disarming, of course!)

Easy peasy, right?

WRONG.

The surprisingly helpful Social Security employee reviewed the letter, and advised us that the appeal needed to be made with the Arizona Department of Economic Security, not Social Security!!  It was Medicare who became aware of the insurance change, and notified AZDES, who contacted Social Security to send the letter(?!)

He provided us with the number to call.  And as it was late Friday afternoon, the call would have to be the NEXT BUSINESS DAY.  AFTER PRESIDENT’S DAY.

Next Tuesday!

BUREAUCRATIZILLA, MUCH?!

People ask me why I distrust government.  The above is a prime example.  First, they provide you with a benefit.  Then, after you become accustomed to it, they screw with it, and take part of it away.

“The government strong enough to give you what you want is strong enough to take it all away.” – Barry Goldwater

Our Tax Dollars At Work, Again

(from Judicial Watch)

JW Files Suit For ‘Refugee Travel Loans’ Information

Tightening our immigration and refugee programs is a matter of national security (despite what some out-of-control judges may think), and it is also a matter of cost.

In this regard, we have filed a lawsuit against the State Department for records on the number of “Refugee Travel Loans” issued by State’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration to the United Nation’s International Organization for Migration from 2010 to the present.

We are also seeking the number of loans defaulted upon and the amount of money written off on each defaulted loan. We filed the suit on January 24, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:17-cv-00157)).

Judicial Watch filed the suit after the State Department failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on February 5, 2016, seeking the following:

  • All records reflecting the number of Refugee Travel Loans furnished by the State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) per year; the number of travel loans that are defaulted upon per year; and the amount of money written off per defaulted loan.

The Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration provides funding for aid and relief work abroad and the bureau’s admissions office handles settling refugees in the United States. According to the agency’s website, it spent nearly $545 million “to provide new beginnings to the world’s most vulnerable refugees” in 2016 and more than $2.8 billion to “humanitarian assistance overseas.” It provided $103 million directly to the UN’s International Organization for Migration.

The International Organization for Migration, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, has an annual budget of $1.4 billion  and (as of 2014) a staff of 9,000 throughout the world. According to the International Organization for Migration website, the organization provides interest-free loans “furnished by the Department of State” to “all refugees arriving in the United States:”

All refugees arriving in the United States are offered interest-free travel loans by IOM.  Refugees who accept these travel loans are required to sign a promissory note prior to departure, committing themselves to repayment of the debt within 46 months after arrival in the United States.

IOM arranges for refugee travel using funds furnished by the Department of State, and is mandated to subsequently effect collections on behalf of the Department of State.  Repayments made by refugees toward their loans are returned to the Department of State for use by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) to defray the cost of future refugee travel.

In July 2016, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution making the International Organization for Migration part of the UN.

Even The Washington Post reported that the nine resettlement agencies contracted by the State Department to help resettle refugees in the U.S. actually make more than $5 million a year in commissions on refugee debt collection.

The State Department has stonewalled our request for refugee loan information and associated taxpayer losses for a year – an unlawful delay that screams “cover up.”  This is an opportunity for the Trump State Department to come clean and clean up this refugee welfare program.

And there’s a lot more for the Trump administration to clean up when it comes to “refugee loans.”  In June 2016, Judicial Watch reported:

The U.S. government gives refugees on public assistance special “loans” of up to $15,000 to start a business but fails to keep track of defaults that could translate into huge losses for American taxpayers, records obtained by Judicial Watch reveal. The cash is distributed through a program called Microenterprise Development run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement.

***

HHS is not the only government agency doling out huge sums of cash for this cause, though its focus on refugees appears to be unique. Others, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Labor (DOL) also dedicate hundreds of millions of dollars to various microenterprise causes. For instance, in one recent year alone USAID spent $223 million  on microenterprise development activities, according to figures released by the agency. The USDA also allocates large sums to provide loans and grants to microenterprise development through a special “Rural Microloan Revolving Fund” and the DOL regularly pours lots of money into various microenterprise projects that are promoted as workforce investments in areas with high rates of poverty.

So the debate about refugees is more than about keeping dangerous refugees out, but there is also the matter of asking just how much it costs to make politicians to feel good about themselves by using our tax dollars to provide special assistance to these foreign nationals.

I have no problem with legitimate, vetted refugees or immigrants following protocols for legal residency and eventually even citizenship.  I used to know a guy who, with his family, escaped Saddam Hussein and Chemical Ali’s tyranny, to arrive here, become a citizen, and open a liquor store.  He practically hugged every customer who walked in!

And I remember wondering where Lee Harvey Oswald got the ‘Traveler’s Aid'(CIA) funds of $200, after renouncing his U.S. citizenship and living in the Soviet Union.  And was allowed to return back to the United States after purportedly giving away military secrets to the Russians.  With nary a hitch.

Much has changed since the 1960’s.

And not for the better.

 

"Round up the usual suspects."

In Loving Memory…