Saturday, October 6, 2018

Do You Want to See Something Really Scary?

This marks the seventh annual edition of "Do you want to see something really scary?" The recurring title of this post is, of course, a tribute to Twilight Zone--the movie. I did not see it--my mother was extremely strict and never allowed us to watch horror movies or even light comedy containing anything that smacked of the occult. But I remember my father coming back from a trip and telling us that he had been driving with his nephew on a dark, wood-lined road when his nephew told about the scene from Twilight Zone where a set of characters are in a car at night trying to scare each other. Finally, one of them says to the driver of the car, "Do you want to see something really scary?" When his friend agrees, he turns his face away, and when he turns back he has become a monster who kills the young man who is driving.

Over the past seven years that I have been writing this post, I have used it to highlight the scary problems in our political world.  And every year there is more and more to fear.  The real life events taking place in our country today are worse than any scary film plot ever hatched in the mind of any Hollywood producer.

Topping my scary list this year is the thought that Beto O'Rourke might actually become the next U.S. Senator from the State of Texas.  I don't have to watch TV or Internet ads or look at the media to form my opinion of Beto--I am from El Paso and have interacted with the man personally.  For more on that see last month's post giving some background on the guy.  Fortunately, a new NYT poll released a few days ago shows an 8 point lead for Cruz and Beto's new television campaign wreaks of frantic desperation, so this might be just a bad dream rather than a living nightmare.

Next up is the prospect of Nancy (we have to pass Obamacare to find out what's in it) Pelosi returning to her former position as House Speaker.  Since Pelosi refuses to give up her iron grip on power, she will certainly be returned to the post from which she can do the most possible damage to the country if Democrats retake the House next month.  My own opinion is that every Republican Congressional candidate should suspend all regular campaign ads during Halloween week and just run pictures of Pelosi with the name of their opponent and the tagline, "A vote for __________ puts Nancy Pelosi two heartbeats away from the Presidency."  I know that would motivate me.

Finally, one of the scariest events I have witnessed in recent history is the public flogging of Brett Kavanaugh by a group of leftists who tried to destroy his reputation without a shred of evidence.  Fortunately, Kavanaugh's nomination was confirmed a few minutes ago by the Senate, and that puts this whole ugly mess to bed--for now.  But the concept that any man can be accused of misconduct by any woman--with no corroboration or evidence--and that he is guilty unless he can prove that he is innocent shows a troubling change to who we are as a culture.  We are no longer concerned with fairness or decency.  We are no longer concerned with facts or evidence.  We are concerned with getting our own way--and we don't care who we destroy in order to get our own way. We have been polarized for a long time in this country, but the extreme ugliness of the Kavanaugh confirmation and the mob mentality that attempted to bully Senators into voting against Kavanaugh is a scary indication of how completely we have lost our moral compass.  Kavanaugh ordinarily would not have been my first choice--I would have preferred someone more conservative.  I would have at least preferred a nominee who self-identifies as a conservative. However, considering what he has just endured, I am very happy to see him confirmed.

The vileness of this whole confirmation process has turned my stomach--from the women outside the Senate chanting "shame" to Jimmy Kimmel's debase and violent comments on late night television--liberals turned a Supreme Court confirmation into a smutty, disgusting smear job. The scariest part is that what happened to Kavanaugh could happen to anyone, any place, any time.  In this new world without restraints, anyone can be accused of the most egregious offenses and destroyed with absolutely no evidence and no recourse after the "charges are proven baseless."  And that, folks, is really, really scary.  

Alexandra Swann's novel W: The Set, incorporates her novels The Planner and The Chosen which tell the story of  an out-of-control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21 and NDAA.  The set is available on Kindle. For more information, visit her website at http://www.frontier2000.net.






Friday, August 31, 2018

Beto O'Rourke--The Apple That Didn't Fall Far From the Tree

Although I have not lived in El Paso for over four years, I still have an El Paso, Texas area code so I get calls and texts specific to the area.  One of these came in last weekend from Beto O'Rourke's campaign.  The text wanted to know whether I was going to vote for O'Rourke or Cruz.  I replied with the same message that I gave the young woman who came to my door on a different weekend--I know Beto.  I have met him personally.  And I wouldn't vote for him for dog catcher.
 
I am a Ted Cruz supporter.  I supported Cruz for president.  But for me that is a separate issue than this campaign because for me personally this campaign is more about voting against Beto than voting for Cruz.  And since the race is close, and, as an ex-patriot El Pasoan I have a different perspective than most Texans, I am taking this opportunity to share why I would not ever vote for Beto.
 
To have perspective about Beto's campaign, you have to understand that El Paso is very different ideologically than most of Texas.  El Paso has not experienced the "Texas miracle" partly because El Paso does not embrace the mindset that created that miracle.  El Paso is a liberal Democrat stronghold with a majority Hispanic population.  Ronald Reagan was completely wrong when he said that Hispanics were a natural fit for the Republican party because they shared the social values of that Republicans hold dear.  On some social issues individual Hispanics may agree with Republicans, and individual Hispanics are Republicans, but the predominate Hispanic culture leans much more toward the liberal Democrat ideal of powerful, centralized government and high taxation.  That is the governing model of Latin American countries, and it is the governing model that El Pasoans prefer.  As with many progressive liberals, many of the people in El Paso take an "it's fine for thee but not for me" approach to the repressive policies they advocate for everyone else.  In other words, the city favors numerous laws that are selectively enforced and obeyed by other people--not the elites. 
 
Beto's father was county judge Pat O'Rourke, who was found in 1984 to have a bag of "white powder" in his car during a traffic stop.  The deputy who found the white powder was ordered to destroy it without any investigation or analysis. O'Rourke served out the rest of his term without prosecution, but the traffic stop and suspicions about O'Rourke's drug use made the local news (and appeared in a New York Times story from the era), and he did not seek re-election when that term ended. Pat O'Rourke was killed in 2001 by a motorist while biking in El Paso. 
 
Beto's mother, Melissa O'Rourke, owns Charlotte's--a high-priced furniture boutique.  In 2010 the company pleaded guilty to "restructuring" cash payments to avoid paying taxes to the IRS.  Between 2005 and 2006, Charlotte's accepted $631,000 from an unnamed customer. According to news reports, the customer structured the transactions so that each amount was under $10,000--for example one amount of $50,000 was structured as 18 payments under $10,000 each with multiple receipts issued under multiple names.  Charlotte's was ordered to pay $250,000 restitution and was put on probation for 5 years.  Melissa O'Rourke herself was never charged--according to a news story by KVIA-TV she claimed not to understand that any laws were being broken and, in her case, ignorance of the law proved to be a very adequate excuse. 
 
This family, and the city that rewarded them, gave birth to Beto.  His political career began in a place where the population is constantly seeking a patron--a Spanish word which carries the concept of a wealthy landowner who typically dominates and controls those around him while bestowing favors on those he chooses.  He understands the class envy and anger over income inequality that the national media is constantly pushing because as a child of El Paso he grew up with this mindset and he knows how to manipulate it for his own benefit.  He understands that socialism allows for abusive elites to grab power and monopolize everything for themselves and their own benefit because El Paso has repeatedly embraced leaders who have done exactly that. And he truly understands the socialist progressive policies of the new Democrat party because these principles have been near and dear to the hearts of El Pasoans for a long time.
  
So before you go cast your ballot for Texas Senator in November, here are a few things you should know about Beto:
  1. He is not a champion of  the people with a grassroots campaign of little folks who are just looking for change.  Beto is not only the child of El Paso elites, he is the son-in-law of billionaire developer Bill Sanders.  Sanders is originally from El Paso, but he spent time in Chicago with the LaSalle Group. When Sanders did return to El Paso, he set up a number of elite organizations that operated largely in secret with the goal of redeveloping the city using eminent domain.
  2. As city councilman, Beto supported taking private property (both homes and businesses) to further the plans of his father-in-law's development projects, both through the Paso del Norte Group and the BorderPlex.  He argued at the time that there was no conflict of interest in his votes to support seizing private property through eminent domain to turn over to developers (his wife's dad) because neither he nor his family could profit from his activities.  (Sanders had promised to donate any profits from his REIT, Paso del Norte Group, to charity.) 
  3. As city councilman, Beto supported bills that were difficult and burdensome to small business owners and private property owners, including a landscape ordinance that increased the cost of property ownership for commercial property owners and an ordinance that fined commercial property owners hundreds of dollars a day for failure to remove a dead tree from their property.  On behalf of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce I spoke to City Council personally regarding that last ordinance and the hardship it worked on small business owners, and Beto responded by sneering that he was tired of people getting in the way of the city's progress.  Mind you that all of this took place during the Great Recession, when many business owners in El Paso were struggling just to keep the lights on.  In a city that constantly beats the drum that both it and its people are poor, Beto helped ram through bills that made it harder for small business people and small property owners to survive and to hang on to whatever they had managed to acquire.
  4. There is a reason that he brags about having an F score card from the NRA.  Again, to understand why this is a point of pride for a Senatorial candidate in Texas, where God and guns are prized, you need to understand El Paso.  My sister-in-law was born in Guadelajara, Mexico.  Right after she married my brother, she walked into the room where he was cleaning his guns.  Instinctively she folded her hands behind her back so that she would not touch the guns because as a child of Mexico she had been taught that, "to touch a gun is to touch the devil."  El Paso is sister city of Juarez, Mexico and Mexico has harsh gun control laws.  These laws have had the net result of transforming Mexico into a society where the most violent criminals rule the society through guns and intimidation and law-abiding people are unarmed.  Nevertheless, anti-gun sentiments are very strong there.
  5. Although he has benefitted hugely from familial connection to a powerful elitist developer, Beto champions environmentalism, green energy and "smart" development.  He took several opportunities to ride his bike to work when he was city councilman to demonstrate to El Pasoans that individual cars are not the best form of transportation.  He championed bike paths and biking in general as a tribute to his father who was killed while bicycling down a busy street.  This dedication to all things "green" fits nicely into the elitist Agenda 21 mindset of Beto and his wealthy donor friends.
  6. He really does support open borders.  In El Paso, cross-border commerce is essential to the city's economy.  The fastest way to start a fight in the city is to stand the heart of downtown and yell "border security."  There is NO support in El Paso for anything except a completely porous border that allows anyone who wants to do so to drift in and out of the city at will.
  7. Beto and his friends have plans for him that go far beyond the Senate.  That was actually apparent years ago when he ran against former Congressman Silvestre Reyes.  Reyes had been a very popular Democrat Congressman but his reputation was tarnished with corruption charges that he was illegally enriching his own family on the taxpayer dime.  Beto ran for Congress and won the seat partly because Reyes was in the middle of a scandal and partly because Reyes did not take him seriously.  But even then, anyone paying attention could see that the long-term goal was to run him for president of the United States.  That is much more apparent now, as the National Review reports in today's Morning Jolt:
"And that’s apparently all he needs! Peter Hamby is writing in Vanity Fair that O’Rourke should be discussed as a potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate: Whether he wins or loses his race — and yes, even if he loses — O’Rourke should be included in every conversation about the 2020 Democratic primary. That’s because, unlike most of the paint-by-numbers politicians in his party, O’Rourke actually understands how politics should be conducted in the Donald Trump era: authentic, full of energy, stripped of consultant-driven sterility, and waged at all times with a social-media-primed video screen in mind."
There are a lot of words I could use to describe Beto O'Rourke, but "authentic" certainly isn't one of them.  In fact, he is the same mass of contradictions and phoniness that has come to define modern day liberalism--the rich elitist pretending to be one of the poor unwashed masses fighting income inequality and decrying the 1%,
El Paso is forever whining that it is not taken seriously as part of Texas--that Texans don't accept the city or include it and that it does not share in the rest of the state's prosperity.  All of this is true, but they don't take any responsibility for the reason why--El Paso has rejected every single idea that has made the rest of Texas prosperous.  Individual freedom, limited government, the right to private property, and the right to gun ownership--all are valued through most of the state, but not in El Paso.  I can only hope that in November, the rest of the state will once again recognize that Beto O'Rourke is more a child of El Paso than of Texas and that his values and goals are out-of-step with the rest of the state.

 Alexandra Swann's novel W: The Set, incorporates her novels The Planner and The Chosen which tell the story of  an out-of-control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21 and NDAA.  The set is available on Kindle. For more information, visit her website at http://www.frontier2000.net.

 

 

 

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Freedom Prayer

 I am often asked to repost this around the Fourth of July.  Our deepest problem in America is a spiritual problem and until we are willing to repent nothing else that we change is going to make much of a difference:


“Lord we come to You tonight to ask for Your forgiveness. The Bible promises that when we seek You, we will find You, if we search with all our hearts.

"Lord we confess that we have not followed Your commands. We have not loved You with our whole hearts--we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not stood for the truth of Your Gospel. We have sat by and said nothing when Your name was blasphemed and mocked. We did not take a stand when we saw Your laws despised.

“We know that many times we ourselves have been among the worst offenders. We have lived sinful lives that are contrary to the word of God. Like Esau, we have traded away our birthright for a little convenience; we have despised this incredible gift of freedom that You provided for us and allowed all of the liberty that our country offered to be trampled down. We have forgotten the words of King David who said that it is better to fall into the hands of God than to be at the mercy of men, and so we now find ourselves living under the rule of a cruel and despotic government who has stolen everything from us and shows us no mercy.

“We know that everything that is happening to us is a result of our bad choices, both individually and as a nation. You gave us the gift of being born into a free nation—the greatest nation the world has ever seen. You gave us a form of government unlike any other that had ever been known by any other people, and we did not value it enough to defend it.

“For all of these things, Lord, we ask Your forgiveness. We pray tonight that You will change our hearts so that each of us will begin to love what You love, to hate what You hate and to want what You want. We ask You to save our nation, for we know that the Bible teaches that salvation belongs to our God—no political party, no ideology, no government can save us. If we don’t find salvation in You, we won’t find it at all.

“Please turn Your face to us again, and give us back our freedom, and restore our country so that we can truly be one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. We ask all these things in the name of Your son, Jesus. Amen.”


Alexandra Swann's novel W: The Set, incorporates her novels The Planner and The Chosen which tell the story of  an out-of-control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21 and NDAA.  The set is available on Kindle. For more information, visit her website at http://www.frontier2000.net.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Big Brother is Watching Part II--Does the Dodd-Frank Rollback Really Encourage Discrimination Against Minorities?

This week, Donald Trump signed into law the "Dodd-Frank Rollback".  In reality, this law is not much of a rollback.  It is really just a fix to help smaller banks and lending entities better cope with the crushing tsunami of regulations that have been enacted over the past eight years. 

This blog was originally started because of Dodd-Frank.  The Dodd-Frank bill always benefited larger institutions at the expense of small ones.  Today, in 2018, the cost of complying with regulations has made the cost of doing business so high for small lenders that many companies are closing their doors.  The company I have worked for during the past eighteen months closed its doors May 31, 2018.  When we notified our vendor partners that we were closing, we received an email back from our quality-control auditor that the cost of doing business is so high now that he is seeing many companies our size close the doors because they can no longer be profitable. The small mortgage bank is rapidly disappearing, due in large part to burdensome regulations.

In spite of this, big government devotees rail against ANY changes, however slight, to Dodd-Frank and so they are demonizing this rollback, which really just changed a few provisions of the law.  One of the complaints from the media is that the new law will make it easier for small banks to discriminate against minorities by exempting them from some reporting requirements under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA)

The funny thing about this particular complaint is that the same people who are squawking about how Facebook treats data collection and individual privacy believe that all financial institutions should have to make a full report to the government under HMDA. That being the case, I thought a little comparison between Facebook and HMDA might be in order, so let's consider the facts.  1. Facebook is a private site which is joined voluntarily by individuals who choose what data to post.  2. Individuals can and do choose their own levels of privacy on Facebook.  3. Cute animal videos and photos of lunch continue to make up a large percentage of content shared on Facebook.

HMDA is quite different.  1. Until this week, virtually all institutions were required to report data from their mortgage loans to the U.S government.  (The new law exempts smaller mortgage companies and banks producing fewer than 500 mortgage loans per year from the reporting requirements.)  2. There is no way for an individual to opt-out of reporting his or her data to the federal government under HMDA since it is a regulatory requirement.  3. Very little of the 2018 HMDA reporting has to do with race. 

In 1975, when Congress enacted the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, the few questions were about race and gender.  Originally the law DID allow regulators to see who was making loans to minorities and who was not and to determine where under-served populations were for mortgage lending.  The data was general in nature but it could serve as a tool to help regulators determine where minority communities were being concentrated and where they might be having trouble moving into homeownership.

Fast forward to 2018.  Today, race and under-served communities is only a small part of the over 50 data points required by HMDA.  In 2018, mortgage lenders are REQUIRED to report to the federal government the following information about every person who gets a mortgage loan:

  1.  Name
  2.  Age (date of birth)
  3.  Credit score (for both you and your co-borrower if you have one)
  4. Which credit score model was used for your credit score
  5. Address of the property along with census tract data for the precise location of the property.
  6. Loan amount
  7. Amount of down payment
  8. How much debt you have (debt-to-income ratio)
  9. Whether the property is a primary residence, second home or investment property
  10. The interest rate you paid
  11. The exact points and fees (if any) that you paid
  12. Your sex (gender)
  13. Your race  (as I explained before race was the original reporting on HMDA, but in 2018 race was expanded to include your exact origin.  For instance, if you are Hispanic, you will expected to disclose whether you are from Mexico, Cuba, Central America, South America, etc.  Asians are expected to disclose whether they are Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, etc.  Persons from India finally have a category on the HMDA chart--which is actually long overdue in my opinion since they were traditionally categorized as Asian--but interestingly there is still no category for Middle Easterners.)

In addition to all of the above-information, the lender also has to disclose how your file was underwritten and to share some details about the types of systems used to make the determination of your credit worthiness.  In all, there are over 60 separate data points that must be collected on borrowers and their finances.

Now, if that seems intrusive--it is.   Not only is the new reporting onerous and invasive, it is very specific.  In the past, HMDA reporting was general.  Lenders reported the number of loans made to various racial and ethnic groups but the reporting was part of a general pool of data. 

Not so in 2018.  In 2018, for the first time ever, the federal government is assigning each mortgage loan a Universal Loan Identifier (ULI).  This is essentially a federal loan number that will follow the loan as it sells from investor to investor.  Although when your loan sells, your loan number with your new servicer will change, your ULI will remain the same.  That means that the federal government no longer just tracks information about loans made by XYZ company to borrowers in Chicago.  The government can now track mortgage loans made to John and Jane Smith on all the properties that they have purchased using a mortgage.  And using that data, they can determine how much property John and Jane Smith own, how much they paid down on each property, how much they borrowed, how they manage their credit, etc.

In connection with the income data already on file with the IRS this new HMDA reporting is going to give the federal government a very close and personal look at individual Americans' finances.  Granted, the information on your mortgage loan is a snapshot in time.  Your credit score, debt-to-income ratio and cash in the bank are all fluid and subject to change.  Still, this information gives the federal government unprecedented access to your financial life and your property. 

In an era when privacy concerns are growing, Americans should be aware of this type of data collection.  The media should be championing any rollback that limits the amount of data the government can collect on private citizens rather than criticizing it.  And the current CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney should proceed with his plan to eliminate this massive data collection from those bigger financial institutions which will still be required to collect and report so many details of Americans' lives to Big Brother.

Big Brother IS watching--very closely.  At this moment, we have a CFPB director who has been openly suspicious and critical of the very agency he directs.  Mulvaney's leadership has made much needed reforms to the CFPB and its policies.  But those reforms are not enough because they are tied to his leadership. Eventually Mulvaney's term will end, and then this behemoth agency and its massive data collection tools will be in the hands of someone who may not be as respectful of the rule of law.

We should all be concerned--very concerned.

Alexandra Swann's novel W: The Set, incorporates her novels The Planner and The Chosen which tell the story of  an out-of-control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21 and NDAA.  The set is available on Kindle. For more information, visit her website at http://www.frontier2000.net.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Problem with Freedom

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."--John Adams

During the Obama Administration, I created a Social Media meme that read, "The Second Amendment--Protecting the Other Nine Since 1791."  This is really the truth--an armed populace is essential not only for the individual defense of the individual members but for the corporate defense of the whole.  A friend of mine whose uncle was a high-ranking military official during World War II has told me that the Japanese did not attempt a ground invasion after their strike at Pearl Harbor because Americans were so heavily armed.  History, especially the history of the 20th century, is full of examples of foreign invasions and of internal communist take-overs that involved the slaughter of unarmed populations.  Tyranny begins with disarmament.

Since the completely senseless, tragic shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, there are many new calls for gun control.  From the Twitter campaign to #BoycotttheNRA to the bill introduced yesterday to ban assault weapons, we are hearing once again that the problem in our country is too many guns in the hands of too many unstable people. Maybe we can stop these shooting by banning automatic weapons, or bump stocks or increasing background checks or waiting periods or at least by raising the minimum age to purchase these guns.  On the other side, gun advocates claim that we need better treatment for mental illness or more armed guards.

I do not believe gun control will fix any of the issues we are facing--I DO believe that ending gun-free zones could help with the problem of shootings in schools but the issue there is that the teachers would have to be the ones to take responsibility for carrying these weapons and for training on them and for many that is not going to be practical.  Personally, I would not want to be responsible for protecting everyone at my workplace with a gun. Teaching attracts, on the whole, liberal people who support big government at the expense of personal freedom.  Certainly not all, but many, teachers believe that more government is the answer to problems.  On top of that, we have created an environment in schools over the last forty years where teachers have been stripped of personal authority to deal with discipline problems or manage troubled students.  It seems a little na├»ve to now ask teachers to be responsible for the personal safety of the class by arming themselves, training on weapons and shooting assailants when we have spent four decades creating a culture of non-confrontation in our schools.

The real problem in this country is neither guns nor lack of gun control. The real problem is that our free republic, as John Adams said so eloquently in the above quote, was created for a moral and religious people.  Freedom requires individual responsibility and individual morality and as a society we have lost both. When we decided as a culture that we did not want to be "One Nation Under God" and that we did not want the Ten Commandments telling us "Thou Shalt Not Kill" we were sowing the seeds of the crisis we face today. We abandoned a Judeo-Christian culture with an absolute sense of right and wrong for a Secular Humanist culture with a relative sense of morality and told several generations "if it feels good, do it."  Unfortunately, to some people mass murder feels good. Our Constitutional Republic with its protections for individual rights is "wholly inadequate" to govern people with no personal sense of morality who don't know right from wrong.

Banning guns, ironically, will not solve the issue of mass-murder.  People who want to murder others will still find weapons and will still kill people. Gun control just disarms their potential victims and gives them more targets.  But a godless society that relies more and more on the government is going to trade more freedom away to that government so that they don't have to be responsible for themselves.  And as that happens, our country is lost.

For the present, I think the majority of Americans still support gun rights and the NRA is still a force to be reckoned with.  And that is a GOOD thing because the Second Amendment Does still defend the other nine.  But the society is rapidly becoming less moral and less religious rather than more so.  Among, Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) only 40% say that religion is an important part of their lives and only 27% believe that the Bible is literally true.  And this group will represent 40% of voters by 2020. Millennials are the biggest generation since the Baby Boomers, and they are neither moral nor religious. 

If we as Americans do not return to our Christian heritage our Second Amendment freedoms and the other nine it protects will all be lost to a new generation that does not value them.  We need to pray for our nation more than ever and take seriously the other warning of John Adams:  "A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom can never be restored.  Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."

Alexandra Swann's novel W: The Set, incorporates her novels The Planner and The Chosen which tell the story of  an out-of-control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21 and NDAA.  The set is available on Kindle. For more information, visit her website at http://www.frontier2000.net.
 




Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Big Brother is Watching--Part 1: The Internet

My website went down last night.  No, this was not an ordinary server crash.  Nor was it a 404 error or even at "Sorry, we can't find this webpage" error.  The website was gone--as the ServePro commercial says, "Like it never even happened."

I had been on my website in the morning so I know that the disappearing act took place sometime between 8:45 AM and 7:00 PM.  My emails are tied to my domain name, so they went down too with a notice that the Domain Name was unavailable.

Since I know that my domain name is pre-paid and registered for another several years, I was not really concerned.  AT&T manages my domain name and my webhosting, so I assumed that they might be conducting some kind of general maintenance and that everything would come back up on its own.  But when I got up this morning with still no website I knew there must be a bigger issue.

Five phone calls and three emails later, I learned that ICANN had suspended my domain name.  ICANN is the International Committee for Assigned Names and Numbers.  ICANN has managed the Internet since October 1, 2016.  Assignment of domain names and registrations now happens on their watch.  Although Obama got the blame for the transition, the seeds of ICANN were planted in the Clinton Administration in 1998.  The Clinton, Bush and Obama Administrations all made the determination that global governance of the Internet was the best way to protect and manage it.  In September of 2016, CBS News quoted Michael Chertoff, former Homeland Security Chief under both Bush and Obama, on the subject of surrendering Internet governance to ICANN, “If we don’t make a transition to a more global form of governance, many people will say, ‘Look, this is a U.S tool, and we’re going to make our own Internet. We have to realize that even though we know our motives are good motives, there are people who will argue that if we don’t give it up that we have bad motives. To maintain credibility we have to go through this process.”

Before the transition, many conservatives were worried about ICANN shutting down sites they don't like--about regulating and controlling speech and thought. Obama supporters insisted that they were just being paranoid and silly.  After the transition life seemed to go on as before and most of us forgot about ICANN.

So what does any of this have to do with my website?  I learned this morning that ICANN is now sending a yearly email to all domain owners to make sure that they are still active and want to remain registered.  The email is sent to the email on file with the webhost--which is typically a different email than the host provides.  In my case ICANN sent an email to an email address I have not checked in almost 10 years.  When the email does not get a response within 15 days, ICANN suspends the domain until the party to whom it is registered confirms it.  This annual check-up does not take into consideration that the domain name may have been paid in advance for a certain period of time and that the owner may be accessing it daily. 

After four confirmation emails and a text message confirming that I am still using the domain, I was able to get my website back up.  And I confirmed with AT&T that I can change the email in their system so that ICANN can reach me next year so that I don't have to go through this again.  But the experience has shown me how quickly this "global governing body" can flip a switch and cut off anyone's website or email and make it disappear without a trace--as if it had never been there. 

That's a scary thought, and it portends a scary future for all of us if ICANN ever does decide to regulate content and not just domain names and numbers.

Alexandra Swann's novel W: The Set, incorporates her novels The Planner and The Chosen which tell the story of  an out-of-control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21 and NDAA.  The set is available on Kindle. For more information, visit her website at http://www.frontier2000.net.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Search and Rescue

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost”  Luke 19:10 KJV  

The end of every year is a fitting time to take stock of our lives.  We count our failures and successes, our blessings and our losses, and we look at where we have been and where we are going.

Many of us will make resolutions to change some aspect of our behavior in 2018.  We may want to lose weight, or get in better physical condition or to get promoted at work or develop better personal relationships, but for most of us when night falls on 2018, most of those resolutions will still be unfulfilled, shuffled forward to another year as we continue in a never-ending desire to become a better us.
Our newest release is Precisely at Midnight, the sequel to The InvitationPrecisely at Midnight begins with Carol Pensworth's invitation to begin a new life.  Unlike her brother, Kevin, Carol has a very good and satisfying life.  She does not believe she needs a rescue, but when she accepts her own invitation she realizes what is really being offered to her--the chance to impact not only her own life, but to change the lives of many others who are not in a position to  help themselves. 
We just finished celebrating Christmas, and we looked at nativities and sang songs of the child in the manger, but Christmas is so much more than a sweet story about a little baby who was born in a stable.  The cave in which Jesus was born is symbolic of the tomb where He was laid after his crucifixion, and the swaddling clothes in which his parents wrapped him represent the grave cloths.  He did not come to earth to be a good man or a good teacher—He was born to die for us in the greatest search and rescue operation of all time.  The God of the universe looked down and saw our lonely, lost, dysfunctional world—a world which we were powerless to change—and loved us so much that He sent His only Son to save us. Jesus is our Kinsman Redeemer who came to release our debt, and He extends to each of us the greatest invitation we will ever be offered. But for His invitation to impact us, we must recognize the immense opportunity which we have been offered; then we must be willing to accept it for ourselves and fully embrace our new life.  And we have to understand that as we accept the invitation for ourselves, we take on both the ability and the responsibility to impact and change the lives of others.
As we start the New Year, I invite each of you to see 2018 as more than an opportunity for a new resolution.  2018 can be a year for a rescue—a year for salvation and a new life.  Accept God’s invitation to you in 2018. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Alexandra and Joyce Swann's newest novel, Precisely at Midnight, was released October of 2017.  For more information, visit their website at http://www.frontier2000.net.