Many people write or speak to tell us what we should think. Some want to be believed because they are experts, or think they are. Some want to be believed because they claim to speak for us. Some have had revelations. Others want us to trust them because they communicate through prominent media outlets. Many tell us what we should think. I write to encourage my readers to think for themselves. I write to ask you to inquire. Question me. Have fun.

  
Comment of the Day
More parenting is needed

Aug 01, 2019

Peter Gray in Psychology Today advises for less parenting. The problem is exactly the opposite: There is not enough parenting. In the past, when most of our ancestors lived in self-supporting households, often a farm, out of necessity, children were an integral part of whatever adults needed to do during their daily life, and they learned that way. Now, we do not need to do as much at home. Work is outside the home, food is brought in, heat is turned on and off, and mysteriously magical, colorful screens are the center of most activities. If we leave children free to explore what they find the most attractive, they will play video games. There might be some educational value in it, but one needs to learn much more. Hence, we need more effort in parenting, with parents doing more in the home than is otherwise required, and spending more time with children outside in order to introduce them to the real world. This realization hit home after I witnessed the surprise of a 7-year old seeing apples on my apple tree.

PREVIOUS COMMENTS
Less fight more work
Jul 30, 2017

The fight over Obamacare repeal is over, at least for now. The GOP can start to work on a new proposal that each of us can look at it, and then compare how my particular health care solution would play in it, as compared to Obamacare. In a television interview, HHS Secretary Tom Price said that Obamacare “may be working for Washington, it may be working for insurance companies, but it’s not working for patients.” Maybe it is time to consider patients’ involvement in the preparation of an Obamacare alternative? It could be that Obamacare repeal failed just because it has been prepared by Washington with consultation from insurance companies. Let us start with addressing 19 health care issues that politicians avoid talking about.

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How to pay for the wall?
Apr 04, 2017

If you want to build the wall, pay for it with your own money. How much of your own money are you willing to donate? Trump received 62,979,879 votes. If each of Trump’s supporters voluntarily donates at least $1,000, which corresponds to about $42 per month for the next two years, and if we encourage those who are more affluent to double their donations, then Trump can have on hand about $100 billion, which may suffice for a substantial piece of the wall. Hence, all of you who are talking loudly about spending my money on building this wall, stay away from my wallet, but open your own wallet and send money to the “Build the Wall Fund.” Put your money where your mouth is.

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What is wrong with Russia?
Dec 22, 2015

It appears that Russian leaders cannot free themselves from the medieval concept of regional influence, where weaker neighbors were subdued into becoming serf states. Is anyone capable of explaining to them that in these times of a global economy, any influence comes from economic strength? Russia, thanks to its size, natural resources and well-educated labor force, has everything that it takes to maintain a dominant position in the region, just by maintaining free trade with all its neighbors. It can do so without military interventions in Georgia and in Ukraine. Russia has everything that it takes to be a respected wealthier neighbor, to whom everyone in the region would turn for help when needed. Instead, it is a bully and a hooligan. It would take so little to change that. But it is so hard for Russia to do it. 

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Closed mind for closed borders
Nov 19, 2015

Known to some as a libertarian, Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. speaks against open borders. His argument is that it is an infraction against private property. He misses the point that most people migrate just because Mr. Rockwell’s neighbors want them on their private property – for picking apples, washing the dishes or writing a computer code. Then, Mr. Rockwell wrongly laments that those foreigners invited by his neighbors violate his private property rights by loitering in the public spaces that he frequents. He wants the government to deny the rights of his neighbors to do on their private property whatever they wish, so he will not need to face immigrants in the public spaces. Mr. Rockwell left the train called “liberty” at the station called “xenophobia.”    

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They do not know…
Sep 14, 2015

Mr. Trump says: “A lot of what I’m doing is by instinct.” I prefer that our President would make decisions based on systematic due diligence. The instinct that guides Mr. Trump in his professional life arrives from his vast experience, starting when he was growing up under the mentoring of his successful father, followed by a solid education and years of practice. Mr. Trump's confidence is misguiding, as it gives his supporters the illusion that someone who mastered real estate dealing can be equally skillful as President. It is similar to the illusion surrounding Dr. Carson, that he can be as good a President as he is a brain surgeon. If both gentlemen were humbler, they would realize that they qualify to be President equally as much as Mr. Trump qualifies to conduct brain surgeries and Dr. Carson to run Mr. Trump’s real estate empire. The problem is not that they do not know many things they should; the problem is that they do not realize that.

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Freedom cannot be legislated, its restriction can
Mar 31, 2015

Indiana voted in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In his WSJ piece, Gov. Mike Pence claims it was needed to protect the religious freedoms of Hoosiers. Every legislative act by its nature limits someone’s freedom. The only way of increasing freedom is by identifying existing laws that curb personal liberties and then eliminating them.  Hence, if Gov. Pence sees that under some circumstances, the religious freedoms of Hoosiers are not respected, he could correct the situation by eliminating laws causing this problem. We have the Bill of Rights, and it suffices. No “enhancements” are needed.

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The wall, the bullets, or both

Many patriotically motivated Americans try to help President Trump in his attempt to resolve our immigration crisis. In an extreme case, one of them took his AK-47 style rifle and drove for about nine hours from the Dallas area to kill 22 people in Walmart, in El Paso, TX.

Building the wall is the flagship of the president’s immigration policy. Brian Kolfage is there to help. I do not know how, but he found or bought my private email address, and a few months ago I began receiving regular updates from the We Build The Wall (WBTW) efforts led by Mr. Kolfage. Most of us usually block unsolicited emails, especially those advocating for a political agenda we do not support. As a political writer, I do the opposite – I read them, at least occasionally, and sometimes reply. In particular, I emailed back the link to my article arguing that the border wall makes no sense. When Mr. Kolfage informed me that his venture has support from Kris Kobach, one of the most prominent anti-immigration political activists and currently a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Kansas, I forwarded to him the link to my article debunking the most famous anti-immigration video. I did not expect a reply, and I did not get one. Most likely, they ignored my responses. If they had at least read them, they would think twice before sending me an email on Aug. 15, 2019 that prompted me to write this article.

The subject line read: “Who Knew A Game Could Help Win The War?!” On the screenshot of this email we can read that they “brought that exact game to a whole new level (…) at a constant war against the cartels and illegal immigration.” In my understanding of the email, two weeks after the El Paso shooting, Mr. Kolfage winks to me that building the wall is just a smokescreen, but bullets are the ultimate means “for an AMAZING cause in which we ALL stand behind.”

Concerned that I might be oversensitive, I looked more closely at who Mr. Kolfage is and what he does. The more I read, the more interesting things I found.

We know that at 19, he joined the Air Force, trained to be a pilot. We do not know how this went, but we know that four years later he served with the military police at the Balad Air Base, Iraq. During an ambush, a missile exploded nearby and, thanks to medics being close by and the miracles of modern medicine, Mr. Kolfage survived. The nation rewarded him with the Purple Heart, but he lost both his legs and his right hand. He showed strong will and endurance in his recovery. In his personal life, he won the heart of a girl he fell for years ago and now is happily married, with two kids. Being right-handed, he taught himself to use his left hand to the point that he earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture.

But architecture was not his calling. Soon, he became involved in numerous not-for-profit funding ventures, with the purpose of helping veterans, sick people and supporting conservative political causes. There would be nothing wrong with helping others, if not that Mr. Kolfage has been accused of many financial irregularities. The report by BuzzFeed depicts him as an unscrupulous manipulator exploring his military past to enrich himself, mostly by using or, to be precise, abusing social media.

In the article supporting Mr. Kolfage, one can read that when promoting his conservative news site Right Wing News, he accumulated almost 10 million fans on Facebook by maintaining about 600 pages and 200 accounts there. It is a little more than one account per person or one per cause that Facebook allows; hence, all of them had been shut down by Facebook last October. In response, Mr. Kolfage became an advocate for freedom of expression (this website was shut down on August 23, 2019). I read, with a dose of skepticism, reports such as the one on BuzzFeed, but also on Medium, asking how the almost $1 million apparent cost of Mr. Kolfage’s boat has been paid for. He dispelled my concerns himself when, on the leading picture of his own website dedicated to collect donations, he exposes his artificial limbs, asking shamelessly in bold letters: I GAVE THREE LIMBS FOR IT. WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO GIVE?

He plays on basic human emotions, implying that someone who had the back luck of losing three limbs in a missile explosion and the good luck of surviving it, does not need to be transparent when dealing with public money, as everybody else would be expected to do.

Last December Mr. Kolfage launched fundraising on GoFundMe with the purpose to raise $1 billion to help the federal government fund the wall. Within the first few days it raised about $9 million, but then the media started questioning the reputation of Mr. Kolfage. One could think that a person with a lengthy shadow of questionable financial dealings would be ostracized by politicians. Maybe by some, but hard-core anti-immigration activists embraced him. They stepped in when it became obvious that the targeted $1 billion was unrealistic. With the help of a top-notch lawyer from a major law firm specializing in political affairs, they formed We Build The Wall as a not-for-profit organization. This way donors could let Mr. Kolfage keep the money committed on the GoFundMe forum, even though the goal has not been reached. According to the WBTW website, 94% of the donors who committed $20 million gave their money to the WBTW. All funds donated on GoFundMe after December 28, 2018, go to Brian Kolfage directly. Presently it is above $25 million; in recent days he rakes in about $1,000 per day, mostly in small donations between $5 and $100.

Some of the money collected by Brian Kolfage went into actually building the wall. In a small village of Sunland Park, New Mexico, 85-year-old George Cudahy owns a piece of land on the Mexican border. Annoyed by illegal immigrants crossing his property, he accepted an offer from Mr. Kolfage to build the piece of wall there. Instead of applying for a construction permit, Mr. Cudahy went to the city hall and asked for, and received, a permit to raise lampposts along the border. Then, during the Memorial Day weekend Fisher Industries from North Dakota stepped in and, working three days around the clock, built about 90% of a half-mile-long metal fence. The village of Sunland Park stopped the construction after the Memorial Day weekend, but, when it found itself in the center of a political storm, allowed Mr. Cudahy to complete the project under the condition that the proper permit would be obtained.

The fence builders overlooked the fact that they had blocked a levee road owned by the U.S. government. The U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) forcefully opened the gate in the newly built wall. After negotiations, the two sides agreed to keep this gate closed at night and keep it open during daytime. What has critics laughing is that, despite the new wall, illegal immigrants still have a gate open through which to pass.

This half-mile metal fence was heralded by Mr. Kolfage as a one-mile-long border wall. Almost three months after completion, the actual cost of this project still has not been released. On GoFundMe it is listed as an estimated $6-$8 million, with the final cost to be determined. One needs to know that Fisher Industries, aka Fisher Sand & Gravel, which is the name of the holding company, is lobbying heavily for getting the wall construction contracts. It has vocal support from President Trump and North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer. This spring Fisher launched a media campaign claiming that it can build the wall much cheaper than other companies. In particular, they offered to build 234 miles of a border wall for $1.4 billion, or about $6 million per mile. In this context, releasing the real cost of the stunt in Sunland Park, N.M., can belie the claims of the marketing spiel of Fisher Industries, as half of a mile of border fence costs at least $6 million. This might be a reason that, in public announcements, Brian Kolfage “extended” the actually built border fence to one mile. After all, it appears that it is not about illegal immigration; it is only about money.

For the record, so far it does not look as though Fisher Industries has won any contracts for wall building. CNN pointed to the company’s checkered record of criminal tax evasions and environmental violations. The Washington Post added that “DHS (Department of Homeland Security) officials also told the Army Corps in March that Fisher’s work on a barrier project in San Diego came in late and over budget.”

Mr. Kolfage still enjoys approval from President Trump and has support from Donald Trump Jr., Kris Kobach, Steve Bannon, Tom Tancredo, and many other fanatical opponents of immigration, despite the fact that, following media reports, authorities started looking more closely into irregularities in his multiple fundraising operations. At the beginning of August, BuzzFeed reported that in Florida, We Build The wall is under criminal investigation.

I checked again; Mr. Kolfage sent me the email with the bullet version of a peg game on August 15. My first thought was that it was a wink to hardcore supporters, but after learning more about Mr. Kolfage, I cannot exclude the possibility that it was a veiled message to the opponents as well. Also, it could be just one more not-well-thought-out, edgy media ploy, the specialty of Mr. Kolfage. Whatever it might be, it is worth our attention.

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About me

I was born in 1951 in Gdansk, Poland.
Since my high school years, I have interest in politics and love for writing. During my college years, I started writing to student papers and soon became freelance author to major Polish political magazines.

In 1980 I wrote a book “Czy w Polsce może być lepiej?” (“Could it be better in Poland?” – this book is available only in Polish) analyzing major problems in Poland at the time and outlining possible solutions.

I was among those Polish political writers who by their writings contributed to the peaceful system transformation that finally took place in 1989. Since 1985, I live in the Chicago area. I went through the hard times typical of many immigrants. Working in service business, I have seen the best and the worst places, I met the poorest and the richest. I have seen and experienced America not known to most of politicians, business people, and other political writers. For eleven years, I ran my own company. Presently, I am an independent consultant.

My political writing comes out of necessity. I write when I see that the prevailing voices on the political arena are misleading or erroneous. Abstract mathematics and control theory (of complex technological processes) strongly influenced my understanding of social phenomena. In the past, my opponents rebuked my mathematical mind as cold, soulless, and inhuman. On a few occasions I was prized for my engineer’s precision and logic.

I have a master’s degree in electronic engineering with a specialization in mathematical machines from Politechnika Gdańska (Technical University of Gdansk).

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