Thursday, December 25, 2008

The season of all seasons

During this day of Christmas, a traditional holiday although celebrated in many ways over the centuries, I find myself looking at these other seasons that we have heard about from our past. Our Revolution was rife with them, with the best known being the Season of our Discontent and the other of the Sunshine Soldier and Summer Patriot. Those two dovetailed with discontent leading to such summer easiness which would be followed by a fall of those that came in summer leaving and replaced by a final winter grimness and resolution that caused these seasons to be cited at the time. America, once she worked through the pain of the Revolution found herself without one-quarter of her population that she had at the start. Those who had no stomach for Revolution, for this new way of government, left for other Crown Colonies or back to Britain and they were the larger part of that loss at 15%. The Patriots who founded this land lost an astonishing 10% of the total population, dead, and many more that had been imprisoned for years their views on their fellow man forever changed by that experience. Little did we expect that the actual act of becoming a Nation and having a Peace Treaty was but a lull and gentle warming that would be followed by the last of the dark winter that followed. That winter was one of dreams crumbling, people imprisoned for the general debt levied upon them, and a worse discontent growing and rising, yet again, under the banner of 'No Taxation Without Representation'.

America had failed to keep 15% of her population, lost another 10% dead and now the remaining 75% were facing a failure of the young Nation. The Baltimore Convention of 1786 called for a new way of government to be formulated in 1787 and the acute dreams of liberty and freedom embodied in the Articles of Confederation had demonstrated that our Nation could not be run by such a system of government. The brink of failure was a near thing for this Nation and we do not appreciate how closely this entire endeavor would come to sudden, chaotic end. The drafting of a new Constitution to have a Federal system to replace the Confederal one, shifted negative energies into productive channels and the wide-ranging debate between 1787-1789 was the largest public debate on how people should govern themselves ever witnessed in human history. It was gripping as those founders that were in Philadelphia were giving tacit admission that their grandest view of liberty and freedom could not work for the common man. When the greatest State-based system for independence met up with the hard problem of economic debt incurred by the Nation, the system failed and miserably. Many of those drafters in Philadelphia were very grim, as they had helped put this disaster in place and felt a deep and abiding responsibility to rectify it so that their dreams of liberty and freedom could survive.

Those two years of debate then did the necessary job of starting to hash out the problems in this NEW system of government an the Bill of Rights was added, in the English form, so that there would be some basic statements of outlook on government that would get encoded into the system so that Federal government did not overstep its bounds. Amendments IX and X were revolutionary in that they inverted prior forms of Constitution in which government granted rights to the people and changed that so that the people granted rights to government and only those clearly and unequivocally stated in the Constitution and its Amendments. The problem of government is not that it is evil, but that it is a necessary evil as mankind does not live in a state of harmony and requires the works of man to survive to lead a good life and yet not be dictated to by government. From society comes government and from common government comes State and from shared State we get Nation to interact with all other Nations.

The idea behind the Nation State is the exact, same one embodied in the concept of Federalism: local control is best.

Distributed control for the greatest leeway amongst societies is best.

Diverse people have demonstrated that common government without that government turning oppressive is impossible.

That was a prime problem with the US Constitution, as it was already a diverse and geographically large Nation for its means of commerce and communication in 1787. The greatest stumbling block was not that of how to distribute power, but how to keep government in check and to stop it from repressing liberty and freedom. No set of checks and balances will work if the people are lulled into singing along with the Siren as the Ship of State heads towards the rocky shoreline and demise of common effort by things that 'seem good' but, when put into the hands of that necessary evil called government, turns into a lash upon the individual and the destruction of liberty and freedom by government to its own ends. Thus the lesson learned from the Confederation, that oppressive debt of a Nation must be shared, was inverted by those that had an idea that the National government could, indeed, bring prosperity. That strange inversion was one that had a clear problem: it caused a Revolution as prosperity for the Mother Country did not mean prosperity for her Citizens abroad. The start of the Anti-Colonial era did not begin between WWI and WWII, but in1776. Unfortunately the message took awhile to get out and the lumbering beast of Colonial Empire continued forward even with a piece of lead having gone through its brain. Make no mistake about it: National government had demonstrated a marked lack and inability to ensure prosperity for all under its domain.

Many point to the era of Colonial Empire and are wistful for it. They will tout all the 'good' brought to people in far domains by dominion over them, that civilization spread via that influence. This is even *true*. The cost of having unequal opportunity via those regimes is disparity in outcome, so that even the richest of far-flung potentates under such a regime are *still* second class citizens with limited rights and freedoms. America does not need to look abroad for such lessons, as that period under the Confederation demonstrated a similar social stratification between the rich and ruling in the cities and the poor and indebted in the countryside. Having the keys to government and levying taxes was a boon to those in power, and those that were poor soon found themselves in prison if they had any property at all. Those who followed the path of Alexander Hamilton to robust government intrusion into the economy then made their own, foolish mistake to emphasize this point of the rich and privileged making the working man suffer in the formulation of the National Bank.

The cozy and corrupt relationship that the National Banks had with the Federal government led to corruption and favoritism by *law* for the bank and against the people. Mind you, this is after centuries of Mercantilism and Feudalism having demonstrated that the cozy relationship between the Crown and those favored by it make for a disharmony between government and the people. The magic boon of liberty and freedom was and is not enough to counter the ability to turn a necessary evil into an absolute one for personal gain. Yet there was wisdom in the grant by Congress to the National Banks that required them to be re-approved on a regular basis, because it was understood that no created vehicle of government that skirted the edge of the allowed could not go unchecked and lose popular consent and have no easy means to remove it when it went from necessary to absolute evil.

This, too, had been brought up during the Years of Ratification, and yet that discussion was also forgotten by many then and completely by now in public discourse.

Yet, there was President Jackson who abided by the Constitution and the wisdom behind it. I have written about his view of what the Presidency is and how government serves the people, and not up on a platter, either. In one of the lengthiest veto messages ever produced, President Jackson went through how government, the economy, the Nation's ability to defend itself, its responsibility on foreign trade and how accountability is best distributed in a fashion that makes the ideas present by later economic thinkers to be in accord with him, although he is never cited as one of the great proponents of those ideas. He is more than willing to abide by the Constitutional powers given to government, the laws as they have been decided by the Supreme Court and not only his duties but respect for the duties of the other branches of government for any law creating any Bank concern that cares the imprimatur of the United States government. He made sure Congress knew of the problems that needed to be addressed a year in advance so that it could remedy the problems of corruption, banks gaining money via exchange while citizens lost money via exchange, and the pernicious problem of having so much working capital under foreign control. He would be more than willing to run any bank that met those criteria.

Congress could not do that and the Bank was Vetoed, and it even withstood a new Administration after Jackson's that had been *for* the Bank.

A lesson of government interference via positive control over the economy had been recognized.

Government could not assure prosperity, and yet the Nation, with its ups and downs, would prosper, grow and become an industrial powerhouse by the end of the 19th century. That was done by giving a fair and even playing field in economic realms to the people and favoring none. The season that followed, after the harsh winter and cold snap in late spring called The Civil War, then led to a marshy, wet time of prosperity, where land was opened, rail lines put down and cities grew to support that industry. By all accounts that population, even without those pushing for sobriety, was swearing off of hard liquor and heading towards beer, by the gallons per individual per year. Patent medicines and the wide-spread application of various new medications did lead to many being addicted, too, but the last balm of government as steward in the food and drug purity acts had started that in decline as informed citizens will not ingest such things in such vast quantities. If we have a 'drug problem' today, just picture the situation in the 1880's where there were more addicts, more and harder liquor and a Nation filled with trying to build itself up and laying down the infrastructure that would power it into the next century. Somehow they achieved that with what, today, we would consider ruinous levels of addiction and inebriation. The effort to control those things by government was seen as 'Modern' and 'Progressive', and yet were the same restrictive and anti-liberty ideas that this Nation had established itself to prevent.

An ill-guided effort to enforce morals from government gave us super-powered organized crime that built itself from the ill-gotten gains of prohibited liquor. The government, itself, would find those in power who pushed for the old 'restrictions' on government to be relaxed as this was, after all, the 'Modern Era'. Surely, we could do with some economic guidance of government in the economy, right? Prohibition was repealed, when it became evident that no one respected morals dictated by government. Unfortunately the Federal Reserve, the modern incarnation of the National Bank concept, would not and was actually joined by more intrusion by government in the economy. Still that economic powerhouse laid down by our inebriated and addicted ancestors ploughed through the drags on it put in place by government and powered through the Great Depression until the staggering load placed upon the economy by government caused it to falter and the Recession of 1937-38 was the result. All the lovely ornaments on the fast moving vehicle caused it to stall out just when it was gaining speed. The only cure for government intrusion was *more* intrusion to fight a world war: America was 'saved' from her ill-thought out 'Modern' and 'Progressive' ideas by having a huge section of the productive workforce fighting overseas, and every last man and woman left working in the factories and industry. That made things 'better' so that the return to normalcy after the war, and the pent up spending between 1942 to 1945 was unleashed in a huge groundswell that masked the things government had done in the 1930's.

The lending policies of the Federal Reserve at the start of the economic decline contributed, in no small part, to the sudden collapse in the private sector. Government did, indeed, have positive control, but to negative impact. Government then foisted more positive control, in name of the common good, and nearly killed the recovery. Then government saved itself by removing the productive working class, paying them wages overseas that could not be spent in the economy all too easily, and then put the less skilled and abled to work to support the war effort. Those may have been necessary things to do, after the Nation was attacked, but that does not allow us to forget that these things had impact upon the Nation's economy and industry. The Cold War that followed saw a Nation transformed, economically, but put in place via education and lobbying interests, the idea that government positive control in the economy is in any way 'good'. All of the problems with positive control being 'good' were clearly, and definitively demonstrated by the USSR and China: they had absolute positive control over their economies and they ruined those and their people. Russia has always had that problem, with the Czars mandating industry and other lovely things, while China has had centralized rule for centuries since the founding of China by the Chin Dynasty. Russia was a poor, third world country, as we would call it today, with ability to exploit millions and achieve a little. China had the lesson of 'expediency' down pat, and the first thing Mao did to end the drug trade was to execute all of those in it... and their families, just to get the point home.

Thus when the United States, with its control in the economy from government, faced down Nations that had absolute control over their economies, we were no longer in a position to offer the clear and decisive choice between economic systems. It was somewhat controlled private capitalism, with positive control by the State or State capitalism with absolute control by the State. The idea of somewhat controlled capitalism that had some necessary social overhead, but no positive governmental control was not on the table. Worse, still, was piling on 'good things' for this positive control to accomplish in the way of health care, extensive laws on how government wanted things run and an increasing bureaucracy that was soon putting in place restrictions that those in the 19th century would not only call ill-guided, but repressive. Two-thirds of all regulations in the US were put down since 1972, and that is a growing problem as everything gains 'positive oversight' to the point of having no effect save to make laws that no one knows about and yet everyone is liable to know. Actually reading the federal regulations is a lengthy task and would take up a bookshelf six feet long of hard bound books with very small type... that was before it was put on CD.

It is amended monthly.

You are to keep up with that.

That is the effect of positive control of government in the economy: it restricts freedom, liberty and makes everyone liable to break multiple laws they can't even find nor know about before-hand unless they have some specialty in that area of endeavor. And those folks are still liable for the rest of it, to. Now we have come to the point where government seeks to 'bail out' failing parts of the economy. Thus the bucket brigade is set up and no one bothers to address the holes that point to missing parts of the economy in the hull of the State. Instead they want to support the rust at the edges of the hole...

Who would not love free money? Banks want it. So do car companies. Unions, can't leave their spendthrift ways behind, now, can we? School systems! Ski resorts, yes those poor folks facing an economic downturn with few customers... so sad, no? Public employee unions facing lack of pension funds! The State of California, it is too big to fail now, isn't? So is Michigan, and it has the auto companies, not that there is any relation between the huge taxes locally in Michigan and failing car companies, nosiree bob! Home builders, yes those poor folks pushing poor regulation to skew good economic accounting, then must NEED a bail out. Home mortgage companies, especially those that backed lobbyists to get the asinine regulations in place, well they have shown such wisdom in ruining a good sector of the economy lets give *them* a second chance to finish the job, right?

And, by damn, a lump of coal is vilified so everyone must get presents.

Pretty soon we will need that coal to heat our power plants to keep us alive.

Government will be so nice to hand out money to those who should have known better that you, my fellow citizen, will be impoverished into equality to help the cronies of those in power.

Because they are represented in Upon the Hill.

You are not.

That power will be felt in taxation which the 'Progressives' also wanted for National government to hand out unequally.

What was that about the founding?

'No Taxation Without Representation'?

That caused a Revolution.

10% dead.

15% fled.

Our bed is being made.

Soon we will find 'Modern' is as repressive as 'Ancient', just spiffed up a bit.

Perhaps we can remember that everything 'positive' is not good when handed to necessary evil.

Before we must lie in our bed, again and fight.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Private War the scourge we call terrorism and piracy

The following was originally presented on 27 NOV 2008 at Dumb Looks Still Free.

This is a topic I have written on multiple times, looking at the definition of terrorism being from the same root that piracy comes from:  one seeks pure power via war means the other seeks cash.  Terrorists attack at sea using the means of private war: they have attacked French tankers, Egyptian freighters and warships of the United States and Israel.  The groups doing that go by names like al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas.  The use boats to raid beach resorts, they board ships to take hostages and they see no reason not to use the weapons of war against civilians.  The currency of pirates is money, the currency of terrorists is power to intimidate, to threaten, to destroy that which they don't like... one is paid in gold the other in blood.  If the first is bad the second is horrific and far worse than mere piracy as those doing such actions place themselves against society and Nations to rule as they will outside of any law.  Both are outlaws in the truest sense: placing themselves outside all frameworks of civilized law and reclaiming the negative liberty of warfare to themselves.

When society and civilization starts to crumble, the opportunist predators appear.  If you laugh at them when they do not have the means, you are terrified and bleed when they do.  Yet their credo is ancient, going back to the roots of what it means to be civilized and no matter what their names, nationalities, ethnicity, 'causes', or beliefs, they come down to the same tactics described since the days before there were Nations, and yet there were still States.  We forget that Captain Morgan was viewed as a pirate by Spain even when his most notable attack was on LAND.  He had writ, justification and no knowledge that a peace treaty had been signed, so those at home first viewed him as a pirate for a land based attack on Spanish towns and fortifications.  Yes a person waging private war with his confederates is waging piracy on land, there is no difference between sea and land in the view of Nations, even though we have done much damage to ourselves to tell ourselves that piracy is only by sea.  It was not that way after the Fall of Troy, was not that way up to the early 20th century and is not that way to this very day.  The United States once had a leader who clearly told the troops what to do with those who waged terrorism and why, and he is revered by all parts of the political spectrum and yet we cannot learn the wisdom he signed off on for the troops:

Art. 82.

Men, or squads of men, who commit hostilities, whether by fighting, or inroads for destruction or plunder, or by raids of any kind, without commission, without being part and portion of the organized hostile army, and without sharing continuously in the war, but who do so with intermitting returns to their homes and avocations, or with the occasional assumption of the semblance of peaceful pursuits, divesting themselves of the character or appearance of soldiers - such men, or squads of men, are not public enemies, and, therefore, if captured, are not entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war, but shall be treated summarily as highway robbers or pirates.

That is a rule for the US Army that was kept for 30 years and infringes on no treaty, no convention and no other view of civilization amongst Nations as it *is* the civilized view *of* Nations what these individuals are.  That President in that era committed the US forces to treat these individuals as described with summary treatment from the battlefield without recourse, review or other appeal.  That was not injustice, but battlefield justice and it was in General Order 100:


Prepared by Francis Lieber, promulgated as General Orders No. 100 by President Lincoln, 24 April 1863.

The Great Emancipator, the President who Saved the Union, the man who so many point to as wise and honest, forthright in his term and stature was the one who sent the troops with that as a General Order, on land and sea, and it was kept into the 1890's.  Yet it contravenes neither the Hague nor Geneva conventions as those only cover civilians and uniformed military.  It is for Nations and citizens to respect and cross at their peril, and those who are neither, who take up war on their own, have little recourse to civil law in the battlefield or when picked up by those fighting in war.  This was recognized by President Jefferson as a necessary duty and function of the President: to protect the Nation by those who would wage war but be part of no Nation and have no commission or reason to wage war outside of the Nation State framework.  President Jackson sent the first US vessel around the world... it was a warship, the USS Potomac, and it was sent to the Malays to deal with those who were pirates and terrorists.  President Theodore Roosevelt ordered the Moro Insurrection to be put down as they were under no aegis of any Nation to fight as they did.

Each of these Presidents knew what their duty was and knew how to deal with those who had backing of no Nation to seek war on their own against the United States.  These are not wilting flower Presidents:  Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt.  They made no excuses for those that were uncivilized and practiced war to their own ends against not only the US but against all Nations.  That was their duty abroad - to use their Commander in Chief and Head of State powers to confront those who would tear at the fabric of international law and civilized intercourse amongst Nations to their own benefit no matter what their goals were.  While many decry ill-war amongst Nations, they raise no voice of action against those threatening the very international security they espouse.  These people who wish to confront no one, at any time, at any place and seek to excuse any action taken against civilization are seeking to submit themselves and their fellow citizens to rule by terror, rule by force, rule by war.  In decrying war they invite it by showing they have no standards to actually stand for: they seek to lie down with the lion and be the sacrificial lamb that the lion will see as his fair share for the taking.  There are no 'moderates' amongst those that take back to the Law of Nature: they are immoderate in the extreme and acting in an uncivilized way.

We see this amongst leaders who talk of 'humanitarian grounds' for those who commit ruthless acts of violence using the weapons of war (Source: Independent UK), even in the face of the families who were hurt by such groups coming to ask for justice and law to exist to keep such terrorists from facing no day of reckoning for their crimes.  Another terrorist convicted of killing 9 and attempting to kill 11 more, is now to be on 'parole' for his actions against society and his Nation (Source: Irish Times).  It does not matter if they are Red Brigades or Red Army Faction: they sought to undermine Nations with their attacks and had no backing to take up the weapons of war against anyone.  There is no difference in kind between these groups and their people and those of the Islamic world or those still tearing at Nations to this day.

Now we are faced with expansion of terror networks abroad due to one Nation that has fostered it in their own borders, often through negligence and many times through willing cooperation.  Pakistan has a long history of this, terrorism is an outgrowth of their older cultures that seek to place personal war amongst tribal leaders to meet their own ends.  Today those groups that started out with a single 'cause' now have a grievance list miles long, and it comes down to one, single thing: they will kill to terrorize society, tear it down and seek to gain power as society crumbles.  This is a codified view of one of those groups, named al Qaeda, that has its view put forward in that those that disagree with it, who are to be beaten down into submission are 'savages' to them.  Others take up that exact, same methodology when they seek private war on land or at sea, and have no good in store for citizens of any Nation.

Today the attacks in India and Afghanistan demonstrate that the hotbed of terror is no longer *just* in the Middle East, but has many tendrils and many organizations and many heads to it.  If FARC goes down in Colombia, others already exist in South America to take their place and continue their ways, even if not as lucratively it will be done.  These terror attacks in India are sourced to these networks that are international and transnational, even when they have 'nationalist' heads to them.  The attacks based upon religion is something that Western Europe gave up after the 30 Years War with Westphalia, and yet others do not see that as 'civilized' and use religion as an excuse to kill the innocent.  And yet, when you confront them, there are those that seek not to and to excuse killing and justify it.  They are more than cowards: they hate society and civilization and will not say any word against those taking up private arms to kill without commission, without warrant, without any authority over them to seek a just end to such violence as a Nation would do.

Further these same people, those seeking a more 'humanitarian' way forward have crippled the recourse to keep international systems accountable: they weaken the legal system and seek to excuse any action so as to blame society for the ills of the individual.  Even when it is the individual exploiting those ills to their own ends and seeking to be held unaccountable.  That is the hard part of this: tearing apart the criminal and terrorist networks that have cross-integrated, cross-trained and support each other fully now.

Yet we used to have a clear and concise understanding of what to do with these types of people and organizations.  Even when they struck from shadows, and hid in civilian guise to exploit Nations, they could be found and retribution handed out.  That way of war those that are 'humanitarian' want no part of: the simple deployment of civilians under National commission to go after these groups on the foundation our ancestors put in place.  It was simple and well understood at the founding and Congress given those powers, which had been understood for generations if not thousands of years previously.  Hugo Grotius would write on those things and come up with the necessary limits of civilian law and yet the need for society to know that harm done to it had been returned in kind on a one-for-one basis as seen in On The Laws of War and Peace

That work and others by Grotius would join with pre-existing works to form new ones that would define what the Law of Nations was and how Nations, like England, had a common law in agreement to it.  It was from there that the foundation of the United States came:  from old Roman Law given international distribution, through a man caught up in the 30 Years War seeking to know what the causes of war and peace were along with the laws of the sea, and then later members of the Enlightenment finally putting these things down so that all would know, in any Nation, what Nations were and how they all conform to that same outlook.  If you haven't been taught these things, if you haven't read them then you are ignorant of them, and are uninformed as to how our world worked to give us what we have today.  They can be lengthy works, even in translation, yet their reading level is not high and none are beyond what can be taught in a week.

How can anything relating to those willing to tear down societies and Nations be regarded as 'humanitarian'?  Simply, it can't, as these are individuals who have returned to the state of nature on their own and are seeking uncivilized means to gain their way, be it for profit or power.  Those that serve them, help them, excuse them are complicit in this work.  It is not 'civilized' to be 'humanitarian' towards vicious and brutal outlaws seeking to destroy the system of Nation States.  That is complicity in barbarism.  When civil justice is applied to those waging war on their own, it lacks the power and depth to address the horror of their activities.  They take up the weapons of war and only, only if they put them down and hold themselves accountable TO the law can they be said to be seeking a civil end of their barbaric ways.  They accept the judgment of civil law by doing that.  Captured fighting they are not 'prisoners of war' but brutal savages willing to kill and due summary judgment on the battlefield without recourse to higher power: they are known for their deeds and actions, thus they are defined by them and not their words, not their 'reasons' and not their 'grievances'.  They have civil means to get these things addressed and WILL NOT TAKE THEM.

These are the opportunistic predators showing up on weak society and weakened civilization.  Being civil requires recourse and that recourse is via civil means to address such individuals and groups.  When their actions go warlike, they are willingly taking to war against Nations and all lawful citizens, no matter where they live.  We have means as a civilization to address them not *just* by civil means, although that is necessary, but by the means of war both Public and Private given sanction by civil means.  That is the strength of civilization: recognizing when it is being threatened and using the accountable means to address these barbarians.  Those we confront as a totality of civilization will follow no rules, no law and seek to evade justice.  We know that by their actions.  There is no nobility in being 'humanitarian' to such for they see it as weakness to exploit.

As I see the blood and flames in India, Afghanistan and from many points around the world, I see a deep and lax civilization dying and the parasites already proliferating to eat on this once proud thing we held in common.  It once protected us and we deemed it good and restrained by civil means, a bulwark to keep us alive and the intercourse between Nations civil.  When we give it other things to do, strap it down with all sorts of 'good' things that distract it from that ability to protect us, we are then shocked that our protection goes down and that the killers roam many lands and seas without recourse.  In festooning the Nation State with so much power, it becomes immobile at powerless as it cannot do all things at all times well.  Soon it begins to lose the ability to protect, to enforce laws and ensure that the lawless are addressed.

That is the time we are now in.

Give more to the Nation State at your peril.

For the next thing you give it will be the able to restrict good and imprison those that disagree with it.

That is when all those 'good things' become ill and the protector turns into the punisher unbound by civil restraints.

Look at Mumbai, today, and see the outcome of generations of being 'nice' and 'humanitarian' and of Nations unwilling to keep governments to doing only a few, vital things to protect society.

We had a choice of confrontation and calling barbarism for what it is.

We haven't as a society, a Nation and as humanity.

Now we pay.

In blood.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Citizen and representative democracy

As a people we recognize our in-born, self-evident and inalienable rights and liberties as individuals to be those granted to us by existing in the Law of Nature. We give up some few of those rights and liberties to exist with our fellow man as citizens. That thing is called 'society' and is the basis for commonality amongst men, even if there are different ones across the world, the ability to put a few rights and liberties and invest them in society gains the benefit of common work done to the benefit of all, and the removal of wasted time and energy by helping our fellow man to survive. As animals have done this since the first schools of same back 400 million or more years ago, doing this gains a positive feedback for the individual: It feels good.

That needs no higher piece of explaining or logic behind it, but there is a purpose to 'feeling good' in helping your fellow man or achieving for yourself. It is a self-reward that reinforces society and organisms in society to help all of society to survive by lessening tension amongst individuals by allowing selfless acts to gain an internal reward and, often, external praise. Do note that not everything done that makes one feel good is praise worthy, but those that gain social appreciation become stronger for the praise of those one helps and your fellow man. As we have seen throughout history there is no guarantee that the actual activity is, itself, 'good' or 'nice': Aztecs cemented their society together with blood rituals which were necessary to appease their gods, Romans indulged in self-fulfilling debauchery that was supported (for a time) until the general decay of the Empire turned that into a counter-survival concept. Society, itself, is our investment of ideals and a modicum of liberties and rights to ensure that those ideals and beliefs are passed on, that is a neutral system with positive feedback: it ensures the state of beliefs but does not ensure the longer-term survival of them. Many a 'good' society has been over-run or lost to history, from those who were wiped out in the Aegean who had achieved hot and cold running water and sewer system for homes to small communities of Christians that wanted to directly believe in God with no intercession of any Church or authority, save God's, their ability to survive was not ensured by their society and how it fared with outside events.

From these events we gain wisdom that a stronger thing is needed to support society, and we invest more of our negative liberties in that man-made construct so as to protect that society. That thing is called a 'State' and serves as functional unit for discrete societies that are seeking furthered survival. States are unitary, by and large, they have a single society either via ethnicity or commonality of single place with single society, such as a City, as their focus. An outgrowth of a single, dominant and expansive State is one that attacks and conquers surrounding societies and States, which gains the name of Empire in that doing. States can also form alliances and have a structured framework of shared interests amongst them to form a stronger and shared self-protective capability while remaining wholly independent. When this shared, multi-society grouping unites into one, common form of government, that is called a 'Nation', thus the work begun by Philip of Macedon was completed by his son, Alexander, who not only welded the Greek States into the Greek Nation, but also formed an Empire ruled by Greeks. Thus the form of Empire also includes a Nation State ruling over other States, and even Nations as the limits of what it means to be in the original Nation has its bounds and limits given by ethnicity and culture. When Rome expanded its umbrella of protection, being a 'Citizen of Rome' was a very important thing that would allow one to have freedom and liberty above others, and to have the backing of Roman protection wherever one went. This idea was passed down to us via the Black Book of the Admiralty and became a cornerstone for understanding that ships were parts of their Nation: wherever a ship went, so long as it could claim access to the open seas, so did that Nation go. Thus the protection of Citizen when abroad is extended to ships as sea and planes in the air.

Born as humans we have full liberty, full freedom and no protection. As part of our understanding of shared culture, we give up some negative liberties to protect ourselves and to act in common under such authority which is created by the common culture and can enforce that upon us. We then give more negative liberties up to the State and give it the right of taxation to support itself. We also give up Public War to the State, so that it may more broadly protect society than the agreement to fight in common amongst individuals that was only present in common culture. To form a Nation we give up our right to Private War to the Nation and give it further power to extend laws made across all parts of the Nation to be enforced by that government. Throughout history, each of these negative liberties has been turned upon society by individuals or smaller groups of same, or seen lax use of them that puts at peril the society, State and Nation until it collapses. To be a citizen of a State or Nation, we agree to the necessary limitations to have common law, common protection and common enforcement of the law, and it is that trust that is abused by dictators, tyrants, despots, oligarchs and numerous forms of self-interested individuals and groups that corrode that trust to their own ends. Amongst the great discoveries of mankind was that a form of democratic government done via representation over large geographic areas would create conditions that would lead to social oversight of government and a modicum of protection from it. Of course that dispersed power basis was still liable to those seeking to concentrate power in the hands of the few to be used against the many, and democracies have failed throughout history.

With representative democracy there comes the duty of the citizen beyond just obeying the law and conforming to the common government: it is the duty to understand what that government is doing in one's name and to ensure that its activities are discussed amongst your fellow citizens and input into government is sought when it strays. That is beyond merely writing to one's representative or government leader, and includes the franchise right to have say into such government. Like all rights it is exercised with Liberty by the individual who can choose if and when to exercise it within the framework of the law. When citizenry no longer stands up to exercise that right, then oversight of government is not done nor performed and the will of the people is no longer ensured. Mandating that franchise be exercised is an abuse of liberty that can also lead to dictation of the decision of who to vote for, and we have seen that in the sham elections done by tyrants, dictators, despots and authoritarian governments that have such lovely and high turn-outs, with, somehow, only one winner of an election foreordained. Amongst a free people who understand their duty to their fellow citizens, to their society, to their State and to their Nation, the turnout for use of the franchise right by the citizenry is a measure of the health of a democracy.

Our understanding of vital democracy from the time of the founding of the United States as a Nation, was that it was vigorous only when it was done by the majority at the local level of government. The Confederal system that first arose had a very weak National government that could not share burdens across the Nation and, thus, saw unrest as local States exercised the power of taxation and punishment under the law to the detriment of society and the Nation as a whole. To create a stronger system the Federal one was proposed in which the three elements of the Nation would be in mutual check and balance. The Federal would check authoritarianism in the States and ensure that a Common Law was enforced, so that States and localities could not abuse their powers. The States had power of local government and taxation and would use such taxation to support the Federal government and would have direct voice in such government in the Senate. That State power to administer laws within the State were held in check by the People who also held power in the House of Representatives. The States and the People were recognized as having all rights and liberties that were not granted to the National government and the exercise of positive liberty and rights was seen as a great good to sustain society and have a vibrant Nation. In the end all power derived from the governed, and the ultimate check upon all government is the people of a State or Nation. A representative democracy requires a consent of the majority in full to govern properly, and that should be an easy task if government is kept in its place so as not to harm society and its culture. Representative democracy, then, is vital when exercised at its lowest level closest to its source of power, and becomes more dilute and prone to abuse at each higher level above the local. That is why the understanding that all rights are things we are born with is revolutionary: it was not granted by government but government was granted power by the People it governed.

These basic restatements of the concepts founding our Nation are necessary so that we may understand the direction of our democracy as held by our fellow citizen. It is a metric that has actual capability to be measured, and one of the few that speaks on its own once you understand its numerical language. Leading up to the NSDAP coming to power in Germany in 1932 and 1933, we saw a vast turnout of over 80% of the population that gave the party that would come to power a net 32% pure backing by the population by winning 40% of that vote. We count that as a 'sick' democracy due to its social and economic condition and consider the rule of the minority, even when it is the largest in a multi-party system, to be of grave concern because it does not represent the full will of the people.

The idea that a two-party system will always thrive, however, is measured by that exact, same standard: it is not those who turn out to vote, but the majority of society that can vote and have the franchise right that matter in a representative democracy. If we consider 32% to be the barest possible plurality that can govern in any way with effectiveness, then anything below that is dangerous to a representative democracy and points to its foundations not being secure. In the modern era Italy has been tossed and turned via factional government with many individuals in it under the sway of organized crime. Indeed, many a Nation including France, UK, Israel, Australia, India and Japan have each had problems with diverse multi-party governments when that leading part is not a majority. Even worse are the 'governments of National unity' which put no governing capability and set of ideals forth but tries for a vast, full compromise amongst a diverse people which then crumbles under factional strife. And yet the touchstone for each of these is all the same: representing the majority of those with the franchise right. It can be swayed, it can be intimidated and it can be enraptured with a cult of personality, but when that is not the absolute majority of a people turning out, it is minority government, factional government and unrepresentative government.

By that measure, the United States has a sick and ailing representative democracy, as I have written about before. Those numbers do not lie, and they tell a disturbing truth of how ill our Nation is at its most basic level, which is that of the citizen. The point of departure is clear and starts in 1964 with The Great Society and its effort to be 'fair' to the poor black citizens of the Nation. That would lead to Soviet style tenements replacing vibrant neighborhoods and concentrating the ills of poverty into smaller places and segregating it from the larger, wealthier society. Helping our poor is a concern of charity for all citizens, and when National government assumed that role it usurped a right it did not have by trying to minister to a poor segment of society in need of help. By doing so it destroyed vibrant and self-sufficient black culture and turned it into one of dependence. Instead of having local role models appear, the laws disintegrated the basis for those role models, that being the nuclear family, and the more primitive gang system re-appeared and became dominant.

Even once those ill-conceived, ill-planned and ill-done places closed, the society they had brought in had been impoverished and turned retrograde. It is from that marker we can see our fellow citizens becoming disillusioned with the National government trying to 'help' a given segment of society. Instead of uplifting that segment, it cast it further down; instead of fostering strength, it empowered weakness; and instead of bringing the larger population together, it enforced segregation which had been starting to thaw due to the economy and changes that wiped away previous discriminatory laws. No local government, no majority of the population would sanction National government as a charity: and when it attempted to take the role of charity towards our fellow citizens from the population to address a minority, things got worse, not better. America could not have a Great Society when its government does that to any part of the citizenry.

Doling out money and telling the citizenry what to do is not the hallmark of a society that is great, but one that is being put under tyrannical rule. During the era of FDR's 'New Deal' government sought to enforce 'social security' by creating a system that would impoverish the young, force the old to retire and raise the taxes of everyone greatly to invest power in government to do what families and individuals had done since the time of the founding: look after each other. This is a direct attack upon the family and its corrosive result can be seen in weaker families today. Further the older population with advances in health care, immunizations and nutrition now live far longer and a larger percentage of the adult life is spent in time not working than at any previous point in our history. And yet the increases in taxation and instability of the system is leading to an entire generation to recognize they will get no benefits, no help and no sustainment of this 'social contract' when they retire as the system will collapse far before then as the non-working will place a destructive burden on the working population. Government sought to intercede where families and society had performed able service and remove such decisions or, at the very least, forced its way into the decision making process as a player in everyone's life. Government bought itself a seat at every family table, every family discussion and every decision that must be made by individuals about their future.

By placing guarantees that removed the necessity of coping with old age and illness, we now see a social security system going bankrupt and a medical system ballooning in cost as everyone feels 'entitled' to health care they cannot afford. Health care is not a right but an exercise in liberty that requires input via working, and measuring costs and benefits. As a society we formed charitable hospitals to tend to the poor and desperately sick, hospitals that are, today, closing as they cannot compete with 'entitlements' and the skyrocketing costs that are fueled by subsidies. The working young find it harder to raise a family, which is the backbone of society, and feel less familial responsibility for their own parents as those parents get 'entitlements' and need no longer ask for help from their young. Just the opposite is happening as the young are finding it so hard to get a start, so hard to raise a family that they need to ask for the support of their more well-off parents for years after they reach full majority. This is not an indicator of a well society nor one that is functioning well, when the young cannot get a place to be a productive citizen and need to seek refuge that should only be a last resort.

These ills have one, and only one, source: government intervention where the people previously had all power.

As was pointed out to me by those who lived before the Great Depression, there were no dead on the streets, the sick were tended to and the poor were cared for via charity. Each person looked to their family for help, and family members 'chipped in' to help and gladly, even offering room and board to a family member who had lost everything. The expectation was, however, that all would seek gainful employment and 'pitch in' to help wherever they stayed. What was described was not cataclysm, but self-reliant survival during hard times by seeking the great boon of family and culture and society for minimal sustenance and then doing one's part to be a light a burden as possible until you were self-sufficient again.

Now the elderly gladly proclaim they are 'spending their inheritance' so as to leave nothing behind them. They are burning the landscape of their good deeds for self-indulgence and saying 'to hell with the younger generation, I got mine'. That is not a healthy attitude towards oneself, not to speak of one's family or society, and for each that does so they leave themselves with a more enjoyable life and are determined to impoverish the next generation and society by not helping either. No one has a guarantee of a long life, and expecting government to pay for one's retirement and one's health care may relieve the burden from *you* of deciding on those things, but puts the burden of oversight and payment on to systems that are not made to handle it. The 'rising cost of health care' is a problem because we all want 'all you can eat', all the time and only when the bill comes due do we see the cost of self-indulgence. And yet the buffet is always open and beckoning... and if it takes a bit of pick-pocketing to get money from the young, well...

In the end this gets an impoverished society that is crippled for lack of knowing what charity is or why it is important. That is because the transient feeling of self-indulgent 'good' when done over and over and over again becomes an addiction that then stifles the other good feeling of being a supportive member of one's family, one's culture and one's society and Nation. The carrot offered by government is limp, it is rotten and it is sugar-coated to make it taste sweet when it is sickening. And once you bite the rush of the sugar swamps the negative feeling, which is often the harness and switch used upon you to make you subservient to government. Soon you no longer think of yourself as your own master and look to government to decide for you in those things that are good, because the sugar is so sweet that the pain of the lashings to 'do good' become an incentive to go after the carrot as it gets smaller, further away and then disappears all together. By giving up the positive and negative liberties to be administered by government, what is left for the people beyond submission, subservience and enslavement to government?

And once the goodies disappear and all that is left is the lash for you to work for government, only then do you mourn your lost liberties and freedom.

Yet they are always there for you to have and grasp, if you don't mind the pain of the lash to stand up as a free man.

It is not the cost of these things that matter.

It is the price of liberty and freedom that does, and when you barter those away for ephemeral 'good' you lose them. And in a representative democracy you doom your children and society to losing them, until the time comes, as we are told in the Declaration of Independence, that we are to stand up and say "enough" and form new government. The cost of the blood in that is high.

The price of eternal slavery far higher still.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Running the numbers: Slacker America

The following is a position paper for The Jacksonian Party.

I have run with this theme before, but often in a humorous mode, like I did before the elections in 2006:

This one from the disreputable AFP, so it may not have actually been said, check your local chicken entrails to make sure. Coming from Ehud Olmert talking about the 'International Community':

"Like the 1930s in Germany, the international community hears voices today calling for the destruction of Israel and does nothing," he said Friday during a speech at the country's Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem.

And since there is no Nation greater than that of the United States we find ourselves accused of doing nothing! Yes, of being slothful!

And, yea and verily, this is TRUE!

America wishes to ascend and excel at all thing and one of the foremost of those is being slothful and slovenly! We much prefer to do nothing to the point where we wish to be the very foundational definition of *doing nothing*. If nothing can be done then Americans will find a way to do it 50% slower than any other people on this planet! And we go further in our attempt to reach these great heights of sloth so that no one can ever attempt to compare us to anything better, save a corpse which has *perfected* slothfulness.

And, really, this is true! Examine any average workplace and just see how many folks you can find looking for inventive ways to do nothing and pass it off as 'work'. Then I soon applied this to the Congress that came in, as it looked for ways to put the National Tail between the National Legs and scurry from Iraq:

This, the 110th Congress of the United States, realizes that the long struggle in the war on terrorism has exhausted this Nation while fighting in Iraq. Collectively this war has so sapped our manpower that we must get illegal labor into this Nation to do the jobs which Americans can't do, which is all of them, save fighting for us as the NAFTA treaty only allows for the one-way movement of illegal labor and that is into the US, so we can't ship them anywhere.

This Congress has also recognized that the actual will to fight any conflict in the modern era beyond two terms of Congress is foreordained to failure, as we have now recognized with the poor state of everything in the Nation. The United States has so exhausted itself in this fight in Iraq that our economy is in shambles and We, the Congress of the United States, can no longer even find it to get ongoing spending to fight a war all together. We have asked the Treasury Department to get us two pennies to rub together, but they have run out of copper.

This Congress additionally sees that the ability of the United States to actually educate its population is impossible. In areas of math it has gotten to the point where this Congress no longer has the math skills to even figure out what a balanced budget looks like. Above and beyond that, the entire infrastructure from sewage lines to geostationary satellites is in such poor state that we are now using up the last of the sneakers in warehouses to walk around on and depending upon the mercies of tourists, who marvel at the ruins they behold in our once proud Nation, for handouts on a daily basis. As we have burned all the books, no one knows how to communicate by semaphore, nor can it be learned.

And more on and similar in that sort of view.

Fun and games, but with a point to it. A point that would come up with this post asking if the Presidential election has truly come down to voting for a dim-wit or a slacker? That is harsh, but fair, given what has been going on, but no one wanted to take a look at what led to this problem.

That fun and sardonic attitude would, however, change with this article on the non-inevitability of history being created along certain lines, because our lack of analysis to do historical and alternative historical analysis is, apparently, limited to a hidebound area in academia and a free-wheeling area in fiction. I would insert two graphs looking at representative democracy in America and they are telling:

The above taken from US Census datasets.

Those are not pleasant graphs to look at if you do believe that representative democracy is more than just winning the votes of those who come out to vote, but winning a large percentage that is at least a plurality, of those in the voting age range.

Now I've made a few notes on this, primarily that the National Socialist Party in Germany in 1932-33 had a much higher claim to legitimacy than either of the two major parties in the US at present, and that holds true so long as the overall participation rate for voting is under the 70% range and elections are closely divided ( no more than 54% to the winner). Both of those must be present for this to be true and that marks the NSDAP as having greater representation in a plurality of a multiparty system due to higher base turnout of the voting population. To get to those lofty mid-30% ranges you actually need a high base turnout of the voting population to do this thing known as 'vote'.

Now if you put the old mental line that is an average for these you get a general slope that becomes the regression towards the mean for each graph, and that is downwards, so that even if you have some noticeable points away from it, upwards or downwards, the likelihood is that the next points will fall in a way to continue along the mean line for each graph. Frankly, it is too depressing to put those in, and I leave it as 'an exercise for the student' as math instructors used to put it. The process of analyzing a larger system that creates such a mean line is trendline analysis, and it is an easy analytical tool to pick up: look at the stock markets over decades and you get trendlines, which can then be corrected for by inflation to give you a good idea of where longer term market movements are going on. On a National scale for non-economic things, however, trendlines measure other things, and trendline analysis becomes a bit of looking at the trends and puzzling them out. I go over some of that with this post.

In election politics, one must look to larger cultural trends over time, and how the political parties are acting. Thus one man decrying the 'coarsening' of American culture is another man's view of people walking out of the current culture because it does not suit them. One can examine the trendlines of things non-economic, as I did in the regression towards the mean article, and then have some fun reversing graphs after removing labels and ask if there is a predominant trendline over time. If there *is* then the trendline is happening with respect to the graph and actually putting the proper order of the graph into place allows one to then ask 'what is causing this'? Baseball players get older, their accuracy on swings may go up, but their ability to actually get on-base may decline due to losing a step or two: it is a question of capability, accuracy, and ability to hit the ball with the force necessary to do the job. In sports most trendlines on a per year basis that are non-cumulative go down - players get older and perform less well in certain parts of their job.

So when other authors come up with lots of lovely graphs that purport to show all sorts of things, you can actually start to put trendlines in and do your very own analysis! I did that with a previous article on Polarized America and came up with some interesting conclusions that allowed me to start putting the whole of modern politics into perspective. The actual 'polarization' of American politics is a knife-edge thing, with absolute majorities in Congress becoming a thing of the past. Congress now sits with 'majorities' of a few handfuls of seats spread across both houses, and the Senate's rules allow it to require an overwhelming majority to actually 'run the boards' there. If the House doesn't have a similar sized majority to over-ride vetoes, then it becomes a two-stage Congress: even a minority can prevent things from happening in the Senate.

Now this election I had a chance to opine here and there and here is a bit I left at Mr. Z's on what would happen, and I am truncating my commentary:

I expect this election to follow the general trend, post-1968. More importantly, an overwhelming full D party win (President and Both Houses) and attempts to 'soak the rich' will backfire like nothing you have seen in your life. Why is that? The trends have demonstrated and odd artifact: when the richest in society have their ability to get a larger share of the wealth there is increasing polarity in society, not lessened. By measures of partisanship in Congress, there is less divisiveness when there is an uneven distribution of wealth... it is something that flies in the face of all Leftist economics, yet points to a basic fact of America: Americans like to know you can succeed beyond your wildest dreams of success.

Things go bad when you stop that, and the longer it goes on the more divisive things get. Not only do I expect a sub-50% turnout, but an absolutely misguided set of laws passed that will starkly divide America by squelching achievement via wealth accumulation.

In other places I would opine that a low turnout (being sub-52%) would be a win by Sen. Obama and anything above 54% would be a McCain victory.

Why is that?

After 1968 politics becomes an affair of factions: appease some factions, help others and craft a 'majority' out of what is left and then try to suppress the 'base' of your opponent. For the first time in long decades a low voter turnout helps the Democratic Party as it gives more power to fewer groups. No longer can a high turnout mean a Democrat winning and may, in fact, indicate just the opposite. On the flip side, the Republicans do not appear to know that there is a disaffected population that cannot find a party to represent them, and so the Republicans refuse to actually change the structure of their party or hold those elected to office in their party to any standards. By not having some method to 'read-out' party members, there is no capability to keep a coherent system of party ideology going. Thus to 'get a majority' there is no coherent platform that Republicans can say represents their party: no one runs on it, just like on the Democratic side. That means that politics is now pure personality driven by factional ideologs who have *no* worries they will ever be disdained by *either* of the two parties.

Now as exact population is only projected by the census for 2007, getting a direct handle on the population size of 2008 is difficult. So here are the two graphs with the added data, and I will give a word on the meaning of the 2008 one after them.

Congressional Election cycle graph percent

Presidential Election cycle graph percent

The deal with the Presidential one is that if you include a voting population increase of just a 1.75 million people (people turning 18 minus those who have died) then you get an almost flat 51% turnout. So my expectations of a sub-50% turnout were not seen, but the 51% is enough to return to the mean and then some, evening out the mean line which (in my mind) would be just above this election's turnout. That peak of percentage turnout in 2004 did not last and has come down harshly.

Note that this is the *opposite* of a mandate: more people did not turn out in this election, so the winning percentage of a bare majority can no longer be considered anything close to a plurality. More plainly: the US now has true minority government in both houses of Congress and in the White House. That has been the tipping point for the last three election cycles, where some supposed claim to plurality could be made. That is no longer a defensible position as 51% of 51% is just a bit over 25% of the voting age population. Note that even shifting those convicted of felonies out of this pool will *not* establish a strong plurality. That argument, to compare plurality strength to that of the NSDAP in Germany points to the *strength* of the NSDAP and the weakness of the US in having representative democracy. Those wanting National Socialism during the Great Depression voted for it in droves compared to this last election.

What can be said is that more Americans do not support this government than ever before in its history, save during the Civil War.

That is how far back you have to go to get percentages like these.

Attempting to pass anything beyond the 'status quo' in this sort of atmosphere is problematical: enforcing a 'mandate' that does not have a popular majority of the entire adult population to *back* becomes one of coercion. This is a minefield for *any* President-elect as it points to the extreme weakness of popular support for government that is beyond any normal grounds for 'healing'. That is why this is a setting for the 'Cold Civil War':

And that is the Battleground of the Cold Civil War: those who want to stay in cities with all of its lovely cultural artifacts and those who want to create good culture to sustain their outlooks on the world. One is centralized and imposed and adores cities and full blown top-down control structures, and the other is decentralized, lateral and allows an individualist stamp to be put on one's life so that one's values can be sustained. The Urban regions are trying to grow outwards, but have an unsustainable population ethos of 'two children being a drain is all you can afford to have' and 'sustainable growth': both of which mean stagnation of culture. Jacksonians and Traditionalists see children as a great boon to families, that finances can be stretched to increase coverage while nominally living with lower living standards, and that one makes growth for themselves and sees no need for growth based on productivity to be 'sustainable' outside of sustaining one self and one's family.

Often those battle lines are hazy, and there are sections of rural America that enjoys the largesse of federal handouts, just as there are still some Urban Black neighborhoods that disdain criminal gangs and support sustainment of self and family above all other things while creating a good community in doing so. If you have a hand out to receive from the public coffers you find it very hard to give yourself a hand up to a better life. That is the Traditionalist Conservative view of creation of society by doing good deeds and living a good life, and it forms the basis for individualism in America.

That division is one between wanting to be absorbed into the world and disappear into a polyglot of humanity ruled by government, and those seeking to create good lives and accountable government and help those that agree with us on that basis for a better world. The first has no standards, save destroying anything that allows individuals to achieve and wanting there to be a quick and easy system of prejudice with a handbook to tell you how to treat anyone else based on their color, gender, religion or ethnic background. The other holds standards to one self, one's family, one's society and government so that each are held accountable and NONE have the chance to run roughshod over liberty and freedom, and working with those who support both liberty and freedom.

The first is authoritarian based and is seeking to found a new Empire of Global Discrimination with a death toll that will be unmatched by any previous authoritarian State as this will be a Global Empire.

The second is the coalescing of Free People to support their liberty and freedom via minimal accountability and hold the State down with our hands around its neck to keep it from doing anything more than the bare minimum to protect us as we depend on our good nature for charity and distrust government to ever be 'good' or 'do good'.

To put a fine point on it: this is the great 'Interstate Bypass' division of culture. If you live inside a bypass, you are oriented more towards urbanized, centralized life. If you live outside one, then you are oriented more towards individualism and personal freedom. It is an inexact rendering, to be sure, and there is a mighty fuzzy line in that formulation, but it comes down to proximity of centralization as a 'good thing' against distance from it and lateral inter-work and support. Many in urban high-rises can create the latter and some taking federal money in the farmland areas come to depend on centralization.

That is a division that goes back to before the founding.

The last time cities had such sway and the Elites had such input against the countryside, the new Nation started to see those who rose up in arms in protest. In attempting to over-reach, over-centralize and dictate culture from Elite urban views, that will happen again to a Nation so divided.

We are one fine Shays away from disaster.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

My Congratulations to President-elect Obama

Dear Sen. Obama,

Congratulations on being the President-elect of the United States.

I will do with you as I have done with all past Presidents: praise you for what I think you do right, criticize you for what you do wrong and seek to ensure that you faithfully carry out the duties of President of the United States within the bounds and limits set by the US Constitution.

That is my duty as a citizen using my rights to ensure my liberty and that of my fellow citizens. Because all Presidents are citizens *first* and President *second*.


A Jacksonian

To the supporters of President-elect Obama,

I have heard the 'racist card' played many times in the past 18 months and seen little evidence of *any* racism in the campaign, save on the Democratic Party side of things.

Now that you have a 'hope & change' leader, the very first requirement for change is within yourself.

Those who see the world through the sole lens of race have a word attached to them by doing that.

It is: racism.

For attacking so many in opposition as being racist without any demonstrable proof of that activity, the one proof that is available, that of an individual who is NOT white being elected to the Presidency of the United States, now, in my mind, burns the 'racist' card to be played against America, entire sections of the political spectrum and, verily, anyone who does NOT demonstrate their racism in an obvious manner. No 'code words' or 'ciphers' allowed.

Those who use some attempt to put 'code words' or 'ciphers' for race into politics are racists, also. In decrying it so much, those now doing the decrying are, themselves, open to that attack of being racist.

Hope, change and atonement begins at home.

Which means everyone who has brought up the President-elect Obama's race in the past 18 months or so.

You might want to note that the rest of the country got over this some time ago. That country cannot be intoned with a 'KKK' in it any longer, save as trying to foster racial hatred by those bringing such a slur on this great Nation up to attack the Nation or individuals.

Care to join the majority?

Or will you cling to your bitter tracts, your useless marches and continue to cling to the hatred of your fellow man that is the guiding principle of racism?

Because a few of those who actually judge a man by the content of his character and not the color of his skin are getting fed up with you who are stuck in the past and who see the world in racist terms.

Because hating whites because they are *white* is also racism.

Just in case you missed the point.

So come on and join the post-racial America that has been before your eyes for a few decades now, the one with no special standards, save that of personal achievement, capability and seeing that the ills of individuals are due to their own lacks and not that of society.

This election killed that portrait of America. Best not try to invert the colors and call it 'equal' or 'fair' in terms of racism, unless you truly don't believe that All men are created Equal. That is not a bad America, out there, the one that elects a non-white individual as President.

That majority that voted for him doesn't need the 'healing' any more.

Those clinging to their hatred and malign views based on race towards America?

Yeah, they *do*.

And I noticed none of those campaigning for John McCain or Bob Barr or Ralph Nader did so.

Just in case you missed that point, too.

Good luck on that hope & change business.

You will need it.

Have a nice day,

A Jacksonian

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Our Duty

As citizens we do have a duty to each other and our society.

In belief of having a representative form of government via democratic means, that requires that each citizen recognizes their duty to that means we agree to.

Duty is not pleasant at all times, that is why it is not called 'pleasure' or 'indulgence'.

I urge all my fellow citizens of the Republic to vote their choices, even if that means standing up to just be counted as a citizen participating in our common duty.

We have had 40 years of believing otherwise and the cost of that is now upon us.

The right to vote has cost us dearly.

Ignoring that duty has and will cost us beyond any price.

Vote today as if your life depends upon it.

It does.

And always has.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The more things change, the more things become The Village

While many remember how the 1960's went out, with hippies, anti-war movements, sympathy given to barbarians in the name of 'the little people' who were usually the ones killed by those self-same red barbarians, and those who were doing that deciding to stop washing (and thus becoming unwashed masses) few remember how it came in. Popular culture leading into the 1960's was clean cut, defined, categorized and had a feeling that those things we worked hard on as individuals would better ourselves and our families, while giving a chance to enrich the whole world.

While the unwashed replaced the washed and turned to darker visions, we forget that there was a wholly different set of darker visions from those who came in. If Danger Man/Secret Agent and James Bond represented the tough 'good guy', just how would they react when society went bad? Both took down bad individuals and groups, but they depended upon society as a whole to remain stalwart, unflinching in the face of challenges and to support the rights of the common man. They had seen the dark version of society over-run by those that tried to make everyone equal and make no one above average nor below it, and thus create societies where the common man had no reason to make himself better and had every reason to submit to the concerted power of government. The unwashed would take that banner up and take to the streets, shouting for rebellion, equality and freedom... just so long as they got to define those things and were not held to those standards.

One secret agent got a taste of that, when he saw that his service was not working out in the way he had expected. He did the ethical thing: he resigned.

He was too valuable to let go.

And so one side or the other picked him up, to force him to give up his adherence to his ethics and swear fealty to them. The cruel vision of government using 'good' to coerce was seen and the individual was pitted against the subservient society. While being made anonymous had a cachet to it as an agent, when one was stripped of their name and given a number as a fact of life, anonymity became uniformity and repression. And the enforced jaunty atmosphere of The Village would belie the absolute evil of a society coerced to be good by government. The Village would be in many places and yet no place that could be found. Its society existed for the sole use of the side that made it. Everyone had a number, and while numbers had meaning, they are not personalities. We would never learn that agent's name, but his number we would come to know.

He was #6.

He was The Prisoner.

So while those out in the streets were moving towards self-imposed feelings of authority to stop 'repression' one television program showed that if that psychotic view was made real, it would be more horrific than anything that could have been thought up by the brutal forms of socialism that had come before it. Numbers could disappear. Numbers could be played with. Numbers, ultimately, become unimportant. When your name is replaced by a number, then you become unimportant. This was exactly what those protesting in the street *wanted*, and the program would throw the vision of the street marchers right into their faces before many even took to the streets. In many ways the program was prophetic on what happens when Big Brother meets High Tech meets the ubiquity of obscurity.

The show is chock-a-block with quotations, quips and extremely difficult to understand scenes... and yet also had ones that would cut deeply to the problematic attitudes of the 'counter-culture' which would soon become the supporters of barbarism. Sometimes it was simple, and you would miss it:

“Honour is the natural expression of a democratic society.”

--A sign from the Labour Exchange; Episode: Arrival

Strange that no one had honor before democratic societies, isn't it? That is investing 'society', which in this case is government, with the attributes of the individual and stripping them from the individual. A very simple sign, until you think about where it is and what it means, then it becomes an expression of repression of the good of the individual.

In this twisted society the hierarchy of numbers did mean a few things, once you got to the single digits, thus the person who ruled The Village was #2. That position changed, indeed it was the number that had the power, although the individual did have to show some value to get the number. The famous exchange between #6 and #2 would start many of the episodes, and is a telling point throughout the series:

#6: "Where am I?"

#2: "In the Village."

"What do you want?"


"Whose side are you on?"

"That would be telling…. We want information. Information! INFORMATION!"

"You won't get it."

"By hook or by crook, we will."

"Who are you?"

"The new Number Two."

"Who is Number One?"

"You are Number Six."

"I am not a number — I am a free man!"

(Laughter from Number Two.)

And we would find out who was #1, although that, too, would be telling.

The nominal information that #2, and thus the rulers of The Village, wants is why #6 resigned. He had been a trusted, indeed highly trusted, individual if the previous Danger Man series was any indication. A Secret Agent that didn't need Bond's gadgets, just a sharp mind and a willingness to exercise it. Rare was the shoot-out, or blood spilled in Danger Man: he was a secret agent and, thus, trying to keep what he was doing a damned secret. Bond was a walking billboard, but John Drake was the non-entity that suddenly became important and then disappeared, over and over again.

The show's creator, Patrick McGoohan, poked fun at the episodic format, at many of the major failings of shows like The Avengers or Man from U.N.C.L.E. #6 was used to winning, used to winning well, used to winning quickly, and when, at the end of the first episode, he finds that he has *not* outwitted those running The Village, his determined walk back is not only being upset at not winning but miffed at no longer being in episodic television. And he, the versatile man of all seasons, would *not* give in to simple setbacks. Those that would be in the position of #2 on a temporary basis, however, were not so sanguine, as their task was to break #6 and have him come over to their 'side' willingly, not as a broken man.

No.2: “We can treat folly with kindness . . . knowing that soon his wild spirits will quieten, and the foolishness will fall away to reveal a model citizen.”

No.6: “That day you'll never see.”

--Episode: Dance of the Dead

McGoohan purposely made The Village to be a non-place and yet represent every place - we could each claim to be different members of different Nations, and yet conformity of life to certain things would create a global Village, that was not that of Marshall MacLuhan's visage of a global 'tribal identity' but one that was an enforced mono-identity where individuation is not lost but abolished. MacLuhan invented the idea of 'surfing' ideas, which represented the fragmentation of individual thought, but McGoohan places that as a coercive condition enforced by those that rule The Village. In one visage mankind fractionates to a lowest common denominator, in the other we are dissolved until there is only commonness in that we are not individuals but mere numbers. These two outlooks come from the same, short period of years before the 'counter-culture' took off in full, and while many radicals would try to spout MacLuhan, they were, inadvertently, confirming McGoohan: they wanted to abolish the individual and create a state ruled so as to eliminate individualism. Just so long as the elites got to retain their own to 'guide society'. In thinking they spouted radicalism, they were, instead, supporting totalitarianism and we live with that to this day.

The telling thing about McGoohan's vision of this new world against that of MacLuhan's, is that it is highly descriptive as it is not a work to address the intellect, but one to address the visual media. MacLuhan thought the oral tradition would return with power via the spoken word, while McGoohan saw that the written word was a means to an end, and that a living society, even represented in small part, would tell much, much more than any book. Plus it allowed for him to skewer the very artifacts of society and government that would be backing the concept of an enforced societal standard that wasn't tribal, but truly horrific.

The 'arts' had become a source of cultural amusement and ceased to have much in the way of value impact, save via 'shocking' art: those pieces of art that offended and no longer uplifted the spirit. One episode would feature an art contest, and #2 would seek to persuade #6 to enter it:

No.2 [scanning book]: “There. . .At the age of fifteen, top of his class in woodwork! That's the sort of thing! I mean, join in!”

No.6: “I'll make you a handle for this door.”

--inside the Green Dome; Episode: Chimes of Big Ben

This is the strongest and most able of the #2s we see in the program: strong willed, sharp of mind and well able to verbally joust with #6 on an equal basis. He would be back at the end of the series in the finale between #6 and #2, but here in this earlier episode it is the attempt to wear down and persuade that matters. Needless to say that even when he does enter the competition, he creates something that appears to be wholly nonsensical, to the point that even the Judges have a problem with it:

A Judge: “We're not quite sure what it means.”

No.6: “It means what it is.”

--at the art exhibition; Episode: Chimes of Big Ben

Yes, we do hear that quite often from artists in the modern world! Still the art would help in an escape attempt, so that working through nonsense to escape reality does have very deep meaning via the episode. Of course it wouldn't work.

No.6: “The whole earth as. . . `The Village'?”

No.2: “That is my hope. What's yours?”

No.6: “I'd like to be the first man on the moon!”

--Episode: Chimes of Big Ben

When the obvious attempts to escape don't work, then the matter of breaking #6 goes to the core of the man. Can an individual be twisted enough to finally be defeated by society? Time and again he would be assaulted beyond just physically or even mentally, even the bastion of knowledge and dreams would be invaded to abolish his resistance. But the skewering of elitist society of our age would continue unabated, as seen with an episode in which 'speed learn' is tried out as a test on The Village, to see just what can be put into people's minds without them being able to resist it. That would be run by 'The General' and his wife would be heavily into 'education' and 'self-expression' of the very modern, leftist persuasion:

No.6: “What are we all looking for?”

Professor's Wife: “Well, let's see. That gentleman over there. What do you think he's doing?”

No.6: “Tearing up a book.”

Professor's Wife: “He's creating a fresh concept. Construction arises out of the ashes of destruction. And that woman?”

No.6: “Standing on her head.”

Professor's Wife: “She's developing a new perspective.”

--Episode: The General

Yes and a modern 'tax credit' that goes beyond what one actually makes is called: welfare. Just try to say that to a leftist, today, and they will declaim it as something else. But then they are using a new perspective to create fresh concepts. Any appearance of this being just like the 'social activism' of later years is purely intentional, let me assure you, as when these 'fresh concepts' get enforced on society the result is things like book burnings while people cheer at the destruction of knowledge. For that is where 'social activism' leads as we have seen time and again: not to a new tribal state, but to an enforced abolishing of knowledge and wisdom to conform to some elitist ethos that is never stated, but fully mandated. It is very strange the love/hate affair that so many on the left have with MacLuhan, that it is an enticing vision even while it destroys their elitist claim to fame. In trying to avoid it, in trying to create a 'better culture' or a 'safer world' by enforcing their beliefs on race, class and society via what they teach, what they 'create' and in trying to denigrate the actual society around them, they are creating The Village of McGoohan, the one they never talk about because he is so hard for them to understand... due to his vision hitting their mark and their detestation of what his thumbnail sketch shows it to be.

As part of that aversion to actually calling things as they are, excusing barbarism and wanting to create a revolutionary new concept of a society that helps people by diminishing them, politics degrades into a death spiral. If power gets concentrated, then getting hands on those concentrated points of power becomes the end goal of politics. Just as in The Prisoner the 'sides' become mirror images that both point in the same direction. It doesn't matter which 'side' runs The Village as they are no different from each other in seeking to grasp and hold power for its own sake. Thus elections, even for the slot of #2, are held, and absolutely meaningless. And, yes, #6 finds himself compelled to run, by the coercive means of the government... but it is against his better judgment:

No.6: "Elections? In this place?"

No.2: “Of course. We make our choice every 12 months. Every citizen has a choice. Are you going to run?"

No.6: “Like the blazes; first chance I get.”

No.2: “I meant, run for office?”

--Episode: Free For All

Would you want to run for office in today's corrosive atmosphere of politics? Where any slight smudge is taken as a national disgrace... unless you are of the 'pure party' in which case several dead lovers of both sexes wouldn't ever incriminate you in anything. You would run like blazes, too! In an atmosphere where falling short of being angelic is cause for absolute disdain and yet in not holding another side to that standard, you create a disjunction in society. That not only lessens the ability to have an honest discussion, because an unstated bias is present, but it also starts to devolve the actual content of political speech. After a speech saying that The Villagers have heads like 'rotten cabbages' we come to one of the few political speeches that I thought could not be topped for its vapidity, here given by #6 once he is into the swing of things:

There are those who come in here and deny that we can supply every conceivable civilised amenity within our boundaries. You can enjoy yourselves and you will. You can partake of the most hazardous sports and you will. The price is cheap. All you have to do in exchange is give us information. You are then eligible for promotion to other and perhaps more attractive spheres. Where do you desire to go? What has been your dream? I can supply it. Winter, spring, summer or fall - they can be all yours at any time. Apply to me and it will be easier and better.

-- Episode: Free For All

Literally promising the seasons in exchange for what makes you an individual. And yet, today, we get a politician in which 'We are the people we have been waiting for' and that he will ensure that everyone is forced to be 'active' in society, according to his wife. At least #6 promises self-indulgence or be seen as rotten cabbages, while a modern politician promises narcissism and then enforced work.

That haunting suspicion that art, education and politics is all set up to enforce a common, elitist view and enforce it via electronic media no longer looks like something of an idle threat. This is not MacLuhan's concept of a global tribalism, but McGoohan's emerging Totalitarian State becoming present. Just give up all you believe in and government will provide everything for you... and enslave you as you are no longer an individual. No longer a person.

That is the point of Transnationalist ideals, even while they play up 'groups' they ensure that individuals no longer matter as you are just a sum of your groups: never more than that. While that has always been the aim of the Progressive/Socialist/Communist/Fascist/Nazi realm, you would think they would have embraced the wholesome 'naturalness' of a new global tribal culture. And yet it is distrusted as it is derived from a lowest common denominator basis: it has no higher goals, no higher aspirations and would abolish class, race, and ethnic identity. To keep those they must be played up, some elevated and others denigrated via those categories and a willing media must 'toe the line' with this 'intellectually superior' form of totalitarianism. Mankind must have what is 'natural' and 'right' defined for it by an elite, and must never be allowed to self-define it for itself (if that is even possible).

The media's role is also seen in the Free For All episode, as #6 gives an interview with a reporter:

Reporter: How are you going to handle your campaign?

Number 6: No comment.

Reporter: [writing] "Intends to fight for freedom at all...

Photographer: Smile!

Reporter: ...costs." How about your internal policy?

Number 6: No comment.

Reporter: "Will tighten up on Village security."

Photographer: Smile!

Reporter: How about your external policy?

Number 6: No comment.

Reporter: "Our exports will operate in every corner of the globe." How do you feel about life and death?

Number 6: Mind your own business.

Reporter: "No comment."

-- Episode: Free For All

Even better is once he gets off the runabout that the interview takes place on, he goes to the Tally Ho! news stand and gets a copy of it featuring 'Number 6 Speaks His Mind' in the headline... yes, we have precedent for the article being written before the event happens and it pre-dates the internet! And you get the idea that he isn't smiling much for the photographer as the paper needs to use his old photograph seen being X-ed out at the beginning of the program and dropped into a drawer in a cabinet by automated equipment. He gives no interview, gives no smile and yet there is the interview with his smiling self on the front page. Will wonders never cease?

If the enchanting nightmare of an enforced 'happy society' of repression is one that is chilling, then consider that the only way to counter it is the exact, same one that The Prisoner uses: strong individuality. Then look at the predominance of numbers in The Village that have given in to enforced happiness, and you get an idea of why the elites seek such power. A secret agent sworn to uphold society must leave his position if he sees society coming under the sway of government and elites. When given the ability to 'help' such a society but only by giving in to the elites and becoming their pawn, he must ask if there is any 'good' in what the elites seek at all? He will have to face that any choice given him by such an elite structure is designed to enhance itself and subjugate him. His only way to help the entire society is to persist in seeking a way to dissolve the elites out form society so that a greater good can be worked out, no matter how painful the transition is.

The dichotomy of visions between McGoohan and MacLuhan is not a dichotomy: these are not inevitable sides of a coin, nor even ends in a continuum. What they are is the result of two warnings of our historical past written into the future. MacLuhan worries about humanity's ability to boil its essence down to a 'tribal' basis that is quite primitive. McGoohan warns of the totalitarian past fresh in his culture's mind right after World War II, and the ability of the then Communist powers to misdirect their culture via Orwellian techniques. One posits the lowest common denominator effect and the other the enforced culture via government effect. The other major path, and there are many, is the rights of man to create society, talked about in the Declaration of Independence, which was a distillation of centuries of thought on the role of the individual in creating society.

Currently these three main realms of human interaction types are pretty well defined.

1) MacLuhan tribalism - The 'social' sites like MySpace, Friendster, etc. These look to be social interaction venues that do tend to remove higher level discussion and enforce a more 'tribal' form of lowest common denominator culture via link-association groups. That rendering process is ongoing and will probably never settle into the full MacLuhan mode due to the diversity of human culture. Attempts to boil cultures that far down will be resisted by those who want no part in loss of cultural identity as that gives meaning to the lives of individuals. It is a force and it is present on the internet, but it is not the overwhelming majority of the net, but of particular venues for certain parts of some cultures.

2) McGoohan totalitarianism - Here the MSM and Leftist venues are in accord to attempt to create this. The Orwellian 'memory hole' is now seen with ever changing and often disappearing articles. The internet provides a venue for historical revisionism within those who adhere to these ideals. What it is, however, is global in reach: that is not to say each country but to all the varying ethos types on the internet. The problem totalitarian has with the internet is that it is 'flat' in structure. It is a common address space that does have key sites to run the space, but not dominate it. Any attempt to filter or subvert a part of it sees information start to re-route via other means. This is partly the 'information wants to be free' concept of the Open Source community coming into play, but it is more the curiosity of humanity forcing these other ways to open. China dearly wishes to make its Great Firewall a success but find, just like the earlier physical Great Wall, that people go around it, bribe guards and generally find other means to negate it.

3) Rights of Man Individualism - This is the slowest growing type, but one of the most vital as it does not seek a lowest common denominator nor a systemic thought control system. The idea that individuals band together to create society to protect themselves and, thereby, open up a civil venue for discussion is one of the most revolutionary in mankind's history. Tribalism resists it, but can be changed by this form of dialogue, although slowly. Totalitarianism attempts to suppress it, but finds its means unequal to human curiosity. Individualism requires civil dialog and content, while the others do not, meaning that the descent to name calling, base emotional attacks and juvenile forms of behavior become the norm for both tribal and totalitarian realms. While in the physical world it is not possible to shut up such people, online the power to remove such debasement while not turning totalitarian is something that can be done, but only with trepidation. If we value freedom of speech, then individuals making judgments on the validity of some speech to be heard is one that can lend itself to totalitarian suppression or the enforcement of minimal content via addition like tribalism. The touchstone to the Rights of Man is Civility, for that is how Civil culture and Civilization are formed: without civility we, as humans, tend towards the other means of government and thought. Individualism resists the very action of regularization of discussion, however, as the power of the individual for self-expression is given paramount importance.

Thus when it is asked 'where is the conservative version of dKos, DD, DU, Huff Po, etc.' the answer is that there is no regularity of intercourse because we are all free people and have our own way to express ourselves and do not want nor need centralization of control for messages or thought. The structure that has not been tried is that of the minimal support alliance system: where individuals with a set of base common ideas and ideals form associations based on those ideals and exchange ideas within that loose association. The 'blogroll' or 'web ring' is close to something like this, but is an inexact tool for mutual aid and support. To get that requires some mutual cooperation and support by members, which is a task that will take time and energy to do. Civilization is hard to support and requires effort to do so. Individuals often forget this and, thusly, do not put in more than minimal support save for those things they support wholeheartedly. Even worse is the over-zealous supporters will feel that not everyone is contributing as much as they are: they are correct. No set group of individuals will EVER feel the exact same amount of passion on ANYTHING. That is what the tribalism and totalitarian areas do - force support either socially or via the controlled echo chamber. Supporting individualism requires that each individual understand that basic concept and that no denigration for those who DON'T support things with equal zealousness be derided in that. The obverse is that your hard work sets a GOOD EXAMPLE and may SHAME others into pitching in more. That is not the 'why aren't you doing as much as I am?' question, which is a form of self-horn blowing, but should be one in which an individual says: 'I believe fervently in this, understand that others do not and accept and gladly thank those that can contribute for their contribution to our common effort'.

While each of these three areas overlap, which is no surprise given the diversity of individuals on the planet, they also are mutually in check. Each of the areas is not amenable to be absorbed into the other two, as the touchstones for each are different and require things that the other two cannot ever give up wholly or even in large part. Tribalism dare not go rigid and totalitarian as that turns members of society away from a vibrant culture, nor can it go the free-wheeling way of individualism as it supports common culture over individualism, although leaves space for some individual expression. Totalitarian views require inflexibility, by and large, and so cannot adapt to the flexibility of culture in tribalism or the mass interplay of ideas in individualism. While some individual self-expression is allowed, the mandated 'party line' or 'talking points' must always be adhered to. Individualism shuns the rigidity of thought in totalitarianism and the straight jacket of base common culture in its assertion that civility creates structures above mere tribalism and helps for larger common endeavors. While members may be parts of tribes and more rigid communities, the necessity of civil and honorable ideas and content while addressing your fellow man excludes the debasement of language used in the other areas.

The only worrying part is that only one of the three, totalitarianism, is set up for large scale power grabs. If that does happen in the physical world, the online will suffer or even disappear due to that. That is, however, a 30 year out worry, but the trends towards it must be observed, analyzed and countered at all costs as the death toll to totalitarian societies coming into being is horrific beyond compare. So if you see more and more of the world start to mirror The Village, you will know what is happening. And the disturbing trends of recent years is towards that sort of world view... global and totalitarian.