Hating History

President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast

President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast –AP photo  Evan Vucci

This past week, we saw the passing of one the world’s great historians.  Sir Martin Gilbert, official biographer of Sir Winston Churchill, and author of many meticulously researched historical tomes including the histories of WWI, WWII, the Twentieth Century, and Judaism and the Holocaust, succumbed to the ravages of disease and age.  Sir Martin, was a traditional historian who saw history as a device not by which to judge, but to illuminate.  He did not see value in fitting the facts to a preexisting narrative.    Accuracy, detail and exhaustive care with the precision of facts were his watchwords.  With such individuals, the looseness with facts and the lack of depth of understanding so prevalent in today’s soundbite culture was anathema to him.

History, the bedrock intellectual pursuit that brings human perspective to all current events and passions, and that provides the means by which tragedy and missteps can be avoided by understanding what came before, has been dying as a discipline for some time. The modern citizen, asked to recall the components of his own citizenship, progressively fails to remember the simplest reasons for why he is a citizen and not a primeval schlub. When asked questions on the critical components of a civilized society, routinely the answer is a ludicrous guess or blank stare.  A slim minority can name the founding American documents that secures their rights as citizens, the President who secured the end of slavery as an accepted form of economic servitude in the United States, the correct century in which World War II was fought, or basic events that led to the great mass murderers, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.

The virus that has affected the average citizen was at least at one time resisted by the collective intellectual braintrust of the country, who had to determine the careful steps a country must take in a dangerous world, and where history might reveal the avoidable pitfalls .  No longer.  The President’s woeful depth of knowledge of history progressively shows itself to be not only ignorant, but aggressive and dangerous.  At The National Prayer Breakfast this week, the President built upon his philosophical belief as to the moral equality of all religious cultural movements a superficial, nonsensical, and tortured historical rationalization for how the world about us became the world about us. At past times, the President’s gaffe filled memory of history and geography, the ‘fifty-seven states’ of the US, the lack of knowledge as to the chronology of the civil rights movement, and the clunky recall of his supposed specialty, constitutional law, seemed to be a simple reflection of the times.  The self centered historical reflection without any attention to the actual details Obama exhibited in his recent speech, shows the premeditation of  time honored principles of propagandists to sprinkle a few haphazard ‘facts’ into a predetermined  meme of opinion that promotes the big lie.  The specifics of the speech are torn apart by Jonah Goldberg of the National Review, who recognizes the nonsense for what it is.  But what does it say about how Obama’s own shamhistory is affecting his decisions as leader of the most powerful country on earth?  The preening nonsense, so effortlessly and confidently emoted, promotes a darker and much more dangerous ignorance that could eventually get a lot of people killed.

Mixing up history and mythology, fact and fiction, memory and reality is a progressive plague upon how so much of our current important decision making and opinions are formed.  The President’s moral equivalence and misrepresentation of hundreds of years old events such as the Crusades or the Inquisition  and their place in history with today’s Islamic savagery, borders on cartoon.  But he is not alone. The news anchor Brian Williams, who sees himself as the ‘one people trust” in objectively presenting the news, can not manage to present events without confabulating his role in them, to somehow make himself more authentic by telling tales that make him less so.  Hillary Clinton, our potential next president, assumes people can absorb a big lie regarding a pathetic video no one watched making fun of Mohammed rather than own up to her own inaction and lack of preparation in the Benghazi debacle.  John Kerry, our Secretary of State, made his mark in the military confabulating his Swift boat exploits in Vietnam, destroying others reputation to build his own. The President of Russia concocts a history regarding Ukraine that permits him to absorb it.

Embellishing or confabulating history is nothing new, but it often had a more innocent objective of promoting positive principles that reflected innate truths.  George Washington  could not tell a lie. Abraham Lincoln could split rails with one hand.  Nelson Mandela was a  scion of liberty and democracy.  History can bring light onto the dirtiest of reflected mirrors of the past.  In the current world however there isn’t even shame any longer on the process of embellishing or misrepresenting the way things came to be.  We don’t even have enough pride in ourselves to demand of our leaders an objective hashing out of the truth.  And that how you get the speech the President gave. And that is how we get the President, and history,  we deserve.

 

Posted in HISTORY, POLITICS | 1 Comment

A Brief Treatise on the Clash of Cultures

The Concept of Culture No Longer Blends

The Concept of Culture No Longer Blends

The idea that the bending of cultural “truths” have exceeded the capacity of a civilization to absorb them is not new.  For the cultured Roman citizen such as Cato the Elder, the progressive influence of the Greeks in Roman culture, particularly the Bacchanalian festivals with their sordid lack of inhibitions, horrified him, Cato seeing the Greeks as a “worthless and unruly tribe.”  The concepts of the universal catholic culture was felt to border on idolatry by northern European thinkers in the 15th and 16th century, leading to the rise of Protestantism.  Exemplified at  its cultural extreme by Puritans and Quakers, and its aggressive eversion to the papist influence, the reformers led to several hundred years of bitter wars, capped by the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648, destroying a third of Europe’s population in the most cataclysmic cultural clash until World War II.  The current western world continues to evolve from the countercultural revolution of the 1960’s , in which the accepted norms were rejected by a generation that eventually injected itself into every aspect of cultural life, from education to government, from concepts of individual freedom to collective security, and from religion to sexuality.

Yet the extremes of cultural deviation are always about who owns the center.  In western culture, the center has fundamentally been based since the Age of Enlightenment on acknowledged truths of rational science, and the idea that progression of civilization is based on building on the foundations of the previous one.  In America, the marriage of these two ideas was put forth in the concepts of the articles of civilization, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and the individuals who codified them, known as the Founders.  For several hundred years, the reverence for these creators and their expressions of rational structure to manage the various expressions of a society formed the center of the civilization.  The immense accomplishment of these founders proved resilient to the enormous strains applied to the ‘center’ concept by  dangerous cultural anachronisms such as slavery, nativist racism, economic depression, and world wars.

Today’s culture however no longer accepts the adjudication of the center.  The sexual revolution demands that concept of family, developed over tens of thousands of years, be overthrown for the particular desires of the individual.  Islamic radicals seek the destruction of all who will not submit to their cultural version, and the annihilation of an entire people, the Jews, who as a religious culture, are fundamentally in sync with their monotheistic vision.  Environmentalists see human beings themselves as the destructive element that must be made subservient to the more important concept of the Mother Earth, to the extent that individuals must be forced into lifestyles that revert to times when the concept of individual had little meaning.  Politically correct speech determines who can be offended without an acknowledgement of their virtues, and which group’s virtues stand above any accepted discussion of their virtuousness.

The schism affects every facet of our societal interactions now.  A movie that examines the character of an individual who sees himself as defending the center against barbarism, “The American Sniper,” is considered heresy by many who have not even seen it.  The main character is a “coward,” a “racist,” “a hate filled killer,” those who have interpreted the center as a defense for the many “crimes and abuses” put forth by western civilization. Yet, the movie about to become the most successful movie regarding the concept of warrior of all time, and, to the incredulousness of those who see it as a homage to white western racism, a popular movie even in Iraq.  To those who see the center as the enemy based on its immunity to the extremes of behavior and cultural mores, the movie has instead stirred the discussion regarding central themes of civilization independent of victim groups, such as good versus evil, civilization versus barbarianism, defense of society versus anarchy.

The modern culture is devoid of any formative basis for discussion of virtue, having thrown out the central philosophical tenets of religion, individual rights, and governance out with the peripheral strains that our more diverse society and scientific discoveries have  placed on the core beliefs.  Ask the modern western citizen as to elements that underrides their core freedoms, and a blank unknowing stare envelops their face.  This citizen will deny the presence of a Supreme Being, without understanding the need philosophically for such a Being to explain the actions of an irrational existence, and the necessity of defining fundamental, universal good and evil.  They will demand rights that don’t exist, while casually giving up those rights that exist to support their freedom to demand.  They reflexively state that all ‘men’ are equal, without understanding that the carefully understood philosophy is that All Men are Created Equal, thereby making possibility the equality of opportunity, and the free will to accept or reject the opportunity.

It is not clear whether our current need to define all lifestyles, actions, and thoughts as having equal weight and import will overthrow the carefully tendered considerations and hard won concepts of thousands of years of human development.  If they do, they will succeed at destroying the rational and positive impulses of cultural evolution that led to our current world that respects but does not deify individuals, balances progress against the gold standards of tradition, and has elevated the process of each individual’s life to most stress free, secure, and personally expressive in human history.

The center is a good place to return our civilization, founded on principles of multiple avenues of peaceful resolution, but active defense of the rights of man.  As a culture in free fall, the safety net not available to the many cultural expressions that proceeded us is the template of both rights and responsibilities so carefully cultivated by our ancestral founders.  In the chaos and entropy of our modern fractured society, the way to enlightenment has been with us all along.  It is our duty to use our measured intellect again, to rediscover our abandoned center, where the soul of our civilization resides.

Posted in CULTURE | 1 Comment

Can Anybody Here Play this Game?

American Leadership - Boehner  Obama  Mitchell

American Leadership – Boehner Obama Mitchell

“You look up and down the bench and you have to say to yourself, ‘Can’t anybody here play this game?'”

Casey Stengel

Toward the end of Casey Stengel’s managerial contributions to major league baseball, the manager that had led the New York Yankees to 10 American League pennants and 7 World Series titles, was saddled with the responsibility of attempting to shepherd the expansion New York Metropolitans (Mets) through their inaugural 1962 campaign.  The result was a major league record of futility of 120 losses against 40 wins.  Thus the quote.

The ‘Old Perfessor’ as Stengel was referred to, didn’t grow up with much personal education, but his vast experience innately told him what worked and didn’t work, and he was able to recognize when he was simply not putting a competitive team on the field.  He further stated, “ Been in this game one hundred years, but I see new ways to lose’em I didn’t know existed before.”

What would the Old Perfessor say about America’s current team?  Has the United States, for decades the undisputed champion of freedom and personal initiative, progressively become the New York Mets of 1962?  Is there anything about the leadership team pictured above that provides one with the sense that real devoted professionals are at work?  Stengel said of his first baseman on the Mets, ‘Marvelous’ Marv Thornberry, on the occasion of his birthday, ” We was going to get you a birthday cake, but we figured you would drop it.”  What indication do we have that current team, facing so many enormous current challenges, wont simply ‘drop it’?

One might argue that Boehner and Mitchell have been outliers in the horrific record of the last six years, as President Obama had complete control with Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid for two years, and four more years with Reid blocking any contrary corrective actions to the Obama wayward drift for the past four.  A tweet graph circulating the internet puts into perspective the domestic performance statistics of the so called professionals on the Democrat team:IMG_4709

How will Boehner and Mitchell respond to a President that is actually proud of such a record?  Well, Stengel shifted players on the 1963 and 1964 teams and they did improve, losing ‘only’ 111 and 109 games respectively the next two years.  Are Boehner and Mitchell, the Tim Harkness of today?  Harkness was the successor to Marvelous Marv Thornberry at first base on the inept 1963 and 1964 Met teams, achieving a lifetime .235 average in his brief major league career. A step up, but not much.

What can we expect of these guys who have been participants in increasing the debt of the nation by 70% in just six years, initiated a pathetically conceptualized government takeover of healthcare of one sixth of the economy, struggled to define any form of a recognizable immigration policy that preserves the integrity of the nation’s borders, not to mention tipping over hard won stability in Iraq and Afghanistan,  or  identifiable security in Libya, Syria, Egypt,  and Ukraine?  What can we expect of people who have participated in defense contraction at a time of significant hostile expansion?

Okay – Lets assume its spring training and hope springs eternal for this team.  Let’s ignore the bombastic state of the union speech as a lagging, out of date indicator of what we can really expect in the coming season.  Maybe these guys will recognize that we can not possibly afford another losing season.  We can give them a chance – but I say, the leash is short.  If it looks like the same old, same old come the start of the regular season, its time to fire the whole bunch.

 

Posted in POLITICS | 1 Comment

Appeaseology

Western Leaders Show 'Solidarity' in response to Paris massacre

Western Leaders Show ‘Solidarity’ in response to Paris massacre

“I seem to smell the stench of appeasement in the air”

                                                           Margaret Thatcher

Engagement is not appeasement. Engagement is not surrender”

                                                           Chuck Hagel

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history, is the most important of all the lessons of history”

                                                           Aldous Huxley

 

The stark sequelae of the practice of appeasement leading up to the cataclysm that was the second world war has made the word appeasement a central focus of every consideration to determine how to confront tyranny since.  The crystal clear lessons of Prime Minister of Great Britain’s Neville Chamberlain’s decision to allow the Nazi gangster regime to devour Czechoslovakia in trade for a temporary etherial peace has remained the example for all time of the legacy of appeasement. Since the events of 1938-39, western democracies have been more sensitive to the risk of the label of appeaser being applied to them, to avoid the stigma of their actions being interpreted as ignorance or weakness.  The consequences, however, of ignoring history’s painfully learned lessons are no less dire in today’s modern world than they were in the simple fascism of the 1930s when state driven fascists bluntly developed their capabilities in easily recognizable uniformed, organized military forces.

The basic structural elements of weakness in recognition, preparation and confrontation native to appeasement remain every bit as trenchant in the need for understanding in today’s world as it did in the seeds of destruction planted by inaction prior to world War II.         The power of last week’s march in Paris, where a common defense of the principles of free speech was trumpeted by many world leaders (sans America) and millions of citizens was visually stunning, but vacuous.  It crumbled the minute the French President Hollande left the synagogue where the Israeli Prime Minister was about to speak, afraid to be associated with any expression of opinion that did not fit the meme of political correctness on the just the subject he had marched to defend earlier.  To the tyrannists, no better signal of the hollow nature of the “outrage” could possibly have been sent.  They could see that Hollande did not equate terrorism that Israel lives with on a daily basis with that of the Charlie Hebdo magazine massacre, though the terror cells responsible for both hold nearly identical credos and objectives.

What are the common foundational elements of ignorance and weakness that form the perverted logic resulting in appeasement, and are we once again heading down the road so presciently defined by Winston Churchill in 1938 with the current islamofascist threat? Ramparts  takes a look at the science of Appeaseology.

The Falsehoods of Grievance :

The need to appease on the basis of perceived grievance is a common element put forth by all appeasers.  The Nazi gangsters were forgiven their neanderthal tactics on the consideration that they had been aggrieved by the world.  The territories they sought were, after all, filled with German speaking and germanic ancestral peoples forced to live under the unnatural flag of oppressive foreigners like the government of Czechoslovakia.  Much the same, today’s Palestinians are forced to ceed their natural rights to the land to the occupationist Israelis, the once seamless islamic caliphate to the usurping Christians and Yazhidis of Syria and Iraq, and the arab nation to the vestiges of French and British colonial abuse.  If only the rightful heirs to the land would be restored, the need to be belligerent would rapidly dissipate.  Modern western European liberal thought particularly remains inextricably linked to this form of Appeaseology.

Engagement and the path of Least Resistance:

The belligerent character of aggressors is a sign of their immaturity in the realm of diplomatic give and take.  Belligerents simply want to be respected and taken seriously. By constructively engaging them and showing your willingness to be reasonable and non-obstructive, you will show them the benefits of mature human behavior and the sincerity of your good will.  Such behavior builds progressively trust and peaceful compromise.   Though the risk of nuclear weaponry in the hands of Iran may seem volatile,  their self respect and pride from being able to have the technical capacity to create such weapons and the national will to develop them is understandable, and willingness to deny them such capacity reactionary.  They will appreciate the good will and recognize their role in needing to maintain stability.  Nazi impulses were similarly seen as a temporary aberration of a civilized nation, that once engaged, would respond with the innate tempered civilized outlook of the great german nation evolved over hundreds of years. Putting up roadblocks to “evolution” would simply delay that behavior from the German nation.

Universal truths are relative and potentially insulting:

The tremendous rallies in the support of free speech last week in France are pledges only to the concept, not the reality of individual rights. Sarcasm or provocative expression anathema to another culture is the ultimate instigation to belligerence and hostile actions, as viewed by the politically correct modern appeasers. President Obama expressed this view best when he stated at the United Nations : “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”  Of the insult to every other culture that Islamofascism insists upon, subjugation of all other religions, enslavement and prostituting of their young, destruction of their religious symbols, erasing of their cultures, and elimination of their representative voice, Obama is ignorantly incapable of appreciating such realities as counterintuitive to his argument.

The actions of the extreme are a perversion of the culture, not a reflection of it:

The “lone wolfs” and terrorist cells that plague the world are outliers and perversions to the base message of Islam.  Whether it is the monsters of Nigeria, Boko Harum, the absolutionists of the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda Wahhabism, or the murderers of the ISIL caliphate, the Jew slayers of Hamas or Hezbollah, or individual “lone wolf” Soldiers for Allah such as the Boston Marathon Bombers or Major Hassan, the appeasement mantra is that this is no way reflects the base tenets of Islam, a supposed peaceful and tolerant religion.  No different were the SS Waffen or  the Jew beaters of the SA, obvious aberrations of the German nation to the appeasers who wanted to envision a Germany of Beethoven, Goethe, and Leibniz.  Appeasers are capable of ignoring example after example of hostile actions because of the comfort they feel in the illusion of their contrived and fantastical image of their appeased subject.

The fires of extremism burn themselves out with the careful and steady management of appeasement:

Passions are the undirected energies of a rudderless culture, and as the culture is progressively brought into the family of nations, the passions will positively re-direct.  Somehow by the West being patient and non-confrontational, willing to absorb a few spasms of violence, the progressive growth achieved by engagement will calm the instability.  This irrational assumption  that passion is not fed by fundamental belief flies in the face of all credible evidence  In both the form of fascism of the late 30s in Germany and Japan, and the modern version in Islamofacism , the fundamental belief is that of a superior people denied its rightful place at the head of all peoples.  The belief is not burdened by guilt, ethics, or any form of self controlled behavior.   Each event that shows a lack of willingness to confront, reinforces the sense of that superiority.  The fires are not burned out, but rather fed with the oxygen of each incitement without retribution.

 

It was briefly inspiring to see some blowback from the millions of French citizens who risked their anonymity to say “je suis Charlie Hebdo”. The proof however is in action, not intention.  The modern governments of the West are filled with leaders who calculate and appease, rather than assess and confront.  They are more offended and outraged by fantastical enemies such as climate change and lifestyle victimization then the ominous and fundamental threats to their civilization.  We cannot count on our leaders, who are in love with their ability to socially experiment and control behavior, and willing to risk all that we have achieved.  We need brave muslim leaders like General Al-Sisi of Egypt to continue to step forward and say no more.  We need to have the average citizen of the civilized world stand up and say “Je suis Civilisation, J’aime Civilisation” – and let all know the appetite for appeasement is now  at end. To the  Islamofascists, our patience is at end. And with it, the unprovoked expansion of their perverted gangster world is at end.  Its the end of our world  or the end of their world, and we all know to preserve what is good in this world – its their world that must go.

Je suis civilsation

Je suis civilisation

Posted in CULTURE, HISTORY, POLITICS | Leave a comment

Who Knew? – The American Oil Revolution

The Ghost of Fuel Prices Past

The Ghost of Fuel Prices Past

In all the stories assumed to be the Christmas miracle story of 2014, the story no one predicted was the resurrection of the American economy on the muscular shoulders of the American oil industry.  On the gas pump above frozen in time like a faded photograph are the gasoline prices when America was the number one producer of oil for the world, before the OPEC oil embargo, the piling on of taxes on the energy sector, the mythic concept of Peak Oil and the fading of carbon as an available source of fuel and energy, and the concern about global warming converted to “climate change” (with the unexpected lack of global warming) and the rising CO2 emissions.  A colossus of current events, however,  are driving down energy prices to the point where, inflation adjusted, we may see prices comparable to the ancient levels, with the resultant spectacular boost it will provide the economy through inexpensive available energy and to the individual in freedom of transport.

In the millionth example as to how progress in society is best achieved through the power of individual initiative and creativity and not plodding government bureaucracies, the American Oil Revolution is a prime case study. Left to the nanny state mentalities of the modern government agencies, no revolution would have come about.  Since 1990, on the basis of the dogma of carbon energy as the enemy, western governments have progressively looked to stamp out oil and coal initiatives because of the propped up science “connecting” global warming as an anthropomorphic  phenomena and rising CO2 emissions as the world became progressively developed.  The Kyoto accord looked to remove carbon as the fuel for economic expansion in the first world economies, allowing the developing world to “catch up” and to create a veneer of ‘sin’ associated with man’s progress as individuals.  This argument was buttressed by the concept of Peak Oil – the world’s supply of oil was finite, and as we had found all there was to find, the inevitably  scarcer oil resource had to be adjusted for by “good” technologies yet to be invented and aggressively put in place of oil. As expected, technologies artificially propped up by governments before their technical time, like wind and solar, created associated boondoggles, enormous waste of investment, lots of dead birds, and essentially no bump in net energy (energy creation/energy expended = net energy). As oil was yesterday’s fuel, the American government willfully restricted access to known oil resources on public lands, to assure the narrative and reorder societal behavior.

Leave it to those Texans to save us once again from ourselves.  On private lands, experimentation on so-called inaccessible oil locked in rocks began in the 1990s and took off in the first decade of the 21st century in the form of fracking – the process of pressure injecting sand and water  to create channels of oil flow in oil tied up in eons of rock.  As the government struggled to contain the action on private lands, the progressive success of the process spread to areas of the country long considered dead to energy production – North Dakota and Pennsylvania with the stunning result that not only could the oil be captured safely and economically but in quantities that soon put the Peak Oil argument to shame. Hundreds of millions of years of organic detris preferentially distributed in the continental expanse of North America at levels only conjectured about became accessible, and the miracle was on.

The American Oil Revolution

The American Oil Revolution

And so the miracle of the United States surpassing once again Saudi Arabia as the number one producer of crude oil in the world.  The effects of such a stunning turnaround are yet to be fully evolved.  The initial downstream effect has been a glut of oil and natural gas that has created a dramatic downward pressure in oil prices. WTI Crude Oil per barrel was $54.73 per barrel on December 27, 2014. On September 6th, 2013 it was 108.12. This 50% reduction in the price of crude oil has been resulted in the fracturing of the continuity of OPEC, the brazen effort by Saudi Arabia to maintain production highs to try to “starve” the American oil producers who require a higher oil extraction price, and the secondary effect on the dictators in Venezuela, Russia, and Iran that have funded their extremism and revanchist expansionist policies on a steady high oil price.  The benefit to the energy consumer, the individual in prices at the gas pump and the producer of goods and services in the reduction in energy outlay, is profound.  The benefit in removing oil as a weapon used against western society is equally profound.

And yet, the lingering issue of carbon emissions and the resultant CO2 effects on potentially precipitating climate change.  What good could possibly come from the entrepreneurial efforts of independent thinking Texas oil men when the world’s climate is at stake? The answer? — never doubt the creative intellect of the individual free to solve problems without an overbearing tiller of an oppressive bureaucratic regime.  The next coming miracle may be EOR-Enhanced Oil Recovery.  It turns out those Texans have not only resorted to fracking, but for decades have been thinking about the so-called exhausted wells they already own.  The traditional drilling process extracts only about 30-40% of an oil field’s available oil before it is “exhausted” by the lack of pressure to retrieve the residual 60% of the oil left behind.  It has always been cheaper to simply find another oil field to drill.  The estimated 100 billion barrels of oil remaining in US wells after exhaustion of the well has been waiting for technology to deliver a solution.  As fracking was to shale rock, EOR is to exhausted wells.  The process of extracting the retained oil may be best solved by the utilization of — wait for it –  CO2.  That’s right, the “evil” gas CO2 created by man’s energy demands particularly by coal burning plants may be the savior of attaining oil from exhausted wells.  CO2, in a liquified state, injected under pressure proves to be a unique solvent freeing retained oil for well to once again produce.

co2_eor

 

Samuel Thernstrom in the Weekly Standard describes in a must read article a process where the billions of tons CO2 emissions created by coal burning plants could be captured and sold to the oil industry for EOR extraction, thus increasing available oil and reducing CO2 emissions into the atmosphere by injecting them back into the ground where they came from  in a perfect dance of environmental and energy policy.

All proves possible again when you rely on the instincts and genius of the individual seeking to advance the world he or she lives in.

I don’t know if the amazing revolution in energy back to attainable carbon will be the final answer to continuing the process of achieving a more civilized and kinder world to more and more of the world’s population. I do know however,  time and time again, the answer will be found in the fertile mind of an individual who, released from the oppressive weight of a government that thinks it knows the future, will bring the future to us all.

Posted in ECONOMICS, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY | 1 Comment

Freedom Loses Again

Fidel Castro and Che Guevara

Fidel Castro and Che Guevara

Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.
                                                                           Ayn Rand

What is freedom?  Why did the United States for over 23o years declare the elevation  of one’s individual capacity to determine his destiny without oppressive interference of others the primary definition?  What is lost when the essential force for individual freedom sees itself as flawed for not recognizing another country’s capacity to set its on destiny regardless of personal freedom?  What does it mean to the inhabitants of this country and those that exist under different definitions?

We are about to find out.

President Obama this past week overturned the settled philosophy of the 8 prior American Presidents regarding relations with the nation of Cuba by releasing three Cuban spies imprisoned for felonies such as murder and acknowledging the process for achieving formal relations with the government of Cuba.  Having recognized in 1961 of the true political leanings of the young ‘revolutionary’ Fidel Castro, the United States attempted  to overthrow Castro in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Castro retaliated by his willingness to bring the world to the brink of nuclear destruction in the October 1962 Missile Crisis  instigated by young Castro accepting nuclear weapons from Russia aimed at the United States. The successive American governments have applied the concept of containment with variable success to the aggressive tactics of the Castro government, blockading it from formal trade, and encouraging the cuban exile population to work progressively toward the liberation of the island from the Castro regime.  The fifty subsequent years have been essentially a cold war between Cuba and the United States, with Cuba progressively trading economic support from the Soviet Union to maintain its marxist totalitarian grip on the Cuba economy and people, and its  willingness to act as a military proxy for Soviet communist regime in the 1970s and 1980s in places as diverse as Nicaragua, Granada, and Angola.

From 1959 onward, tens of thousands of Cuban refugees have attempted to escape the totalitarian government, risking life and limb on rickety boats to try and secure a meaningful existence in the United States, the passage to freedom a tempting mere 90 nautical miles away from the American coast. Many have made it. Many more have been drowned, eaten by sharks, sunk by Cuban gunboats, and turned around by American Coast Guard vessels.

What were they escaping? To the liberal Washington elites and Hollywood celebrities they were leaving a utopian paradise of free health care and societal equality, ruled by a leader in Castro charismatic in his affect, perpetually revolutionary in his appearance in military fatigues, and ultimately concerned only for his Cuban people being able to steer their own course without the oppressive domination of a whorish American capitalist caste.  The level of cultural coolness and forever youngness was even secured on t-shirts and posters immortalizing the great leader Castro, and his right hand revolutionary, Che Guevara, the enthusiastic judge and executioner for revolutionary firing squads that purified Cuba from dissidents who didn’t recognizing the righteousness of the revolution.  It is the personification of this idolatry that propelled the current President to the office of Presidency and the subsequent comfort with the ideals of the winds of change fomented by the  Cuban revolutionaries.

Che_Guevara1 images

If the process of attempting to secure individual freedom for the Cuban people over 53 years of consistent foreign policy through containment proved to achieving no identifiable changes in the Cuban government’s relationship with its people what possible risk is involved in accepting the Cuban revolution at face value, and recognizing it as the legitimate aspiration of an entire people? What could be possibly at stake in similar efforts to restore relationships with similar minded governments currently hostile in position against the United States such as North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela?

Maybe one could ask men such as Rafael Ibarra Roque, imprisoned since 1994 by the Cuban government without trial for ‘sabotage against the regime” for speaking out against things he had seen as a Cuban soldier and citizen through a nonviolent group he formed called Frank Pais effecting to restore democracy to Cuba.  One could ask Human Rights Watch, which has documented a systemic oppression resulting in thousands of executions, arrests without trial, formation of forced labor camps (UMAP’s), suppression of independent media and opposition political movements,  government drug cartels, and prostitution. One could ask the Cuban exiles in Miami who labored for decades to restore the most basic of personal freedoms in Cuba for the family members they left behind.

And now it is gone, as the citadel of personal freedom and institutional democracy determines that respectful relationships with such tyrants will serve both countries better over the long run.  We are left with the question with each of these over-turnings of our own principles what is lost in ourselves as we deny the fundamental importance of such principles?  Will a President who cares more how we look to others than how we act among ourselves lead us to our own loss of freedoms?  That depends obviously as to what it means to be free and our willingness to prevent those who would sell such hard earned freedoms for the veneer of acceptance recognizes once gone, they wont be easily if ever brought back.

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.
                                                                           Ronald Reagan

Perhaps the freedom we lose, will be forever Cuba’s gain.  Raul Castro, Cuba’s current leader and brother of Fidel thinks not.  He is looking to the economic support of the Cuban Revolution, to cement its gains and prevent any change in the relationships with its people.  Perhaps it will change Cuba’s belligerency.  Then again, it was just last year that Cuba attempted to gain tactical missiles from North Korea to position against the United States, learning nothing in the intervening 50 years since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Cuba is not looking for change, but it will be hoping for change in the United States. As probably will Iran and Venezuela. It turns out when it comes to slowly dissolving the light of freedom, the Man of Hope and Change was ultimately the Man of totalitarians’ Hope , and our Change.

 

Posted in CULTURE, HISTORY, POLITICS | 1 Comment

Shackleton’s Magnificent Failure

 

Shackleton's Endurance succumbs to the ice

Shackleton’s Endurance succumbs to the ice

One hundred years ago this week, the explorer Ernest Shackleton and his crew aboard the schooner Endurance left the port of the Grytviken whaling station on South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic to the continent of Antartica.  The goal was a never before achieved transcontinental traverse across one of the remotest places on earth.  It would be their last touch with civilization for the next one and half years, and it would be an utter failure. The extent of the failure, and the spectacular story of survival, courage, leadership and outright moxie required to bring the participants back to civilization is the basis of one of the most uplifting stories of human achievement and one hundred years later, remains a riveting example of meeting your own flaws and mortality head on and overcoming to inspire us all.

One has to put into the perspective the age that men were living in, and that it was the age of men.  Ernest Shackleton was a man of his age. He sought to test himself and others to expand the limits of what was known and did not terribly worry about the consequences or risks of such traits.  He had participated in a previous Antarctic expeditions including one with the famous explorer Robert Scott who later lost his life in the return voyage from achieving the South Pole,  in a mission that Shackleton had planned to be his own.  Having had to except the reality that the glory of first to the pole rested in the hands of the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who beat Scott to the pole by three weeks, Shackleton wanted to establish a British success that would be of import, the transcontinental voyage that would require more spectacular planning and logistics, in keeping with his sense of being a man of the Empire.   He did it in the old empire sense of understatement, not asking for public support but rather going to a few rich brokers with similar sense of empire to fund the expected costs of such a complex expedition, approaching 5 million in today’s dollars.  For crew, he called on a few loyal men of extraordinary talents who had served with him previously, and for other parts of the crew, a simple understated call to adventure advertisement in the local paper.

The Endurance Expedition advertisement

The Endurance Expedition advertisement

The genius of Shackleton’s leadership did not present with the planning of the voyage.  Limited by the primitive communication of the day, the difficult logistics relied on the almost perfect and thereby implausible timing of events and cooperative weather that very soon showed the flaws in Shackleton’s expeditionary capabilities.  The Endurance sailed across the Weddell Sea to the Ronne Ice Shelf in sight of continental land but hampered by a progressively treacherous current pushed ice pack which eventually locked the ship in from the open sea on February 14th, 1915.  Tremendous efforts by the crew to free the Endurance from the ice proved fruitless, and Shackleton realized the boat would have to wait out the ferocious Antarctic winter in the ice, hopefully to be freed by the next spring and summer’s melt off.

He had been locked in the ice before on the Scott expedition , but had been able to free himself, so he assumed with patience the same could occur for the Endurance.  He was wrong, horribly wrong, and by the intense winter of June through August the pack progressively thickened and began to put massive pressures on the boat’s structure.  By September, the boat was in dire straights, crushed against massive heaving flows of millions of tons of ice, and the inevitable occurred on October 27,1915 – the ship was abandoned and slowing sinking began.

And so really begins the story out of utter failure.  The depths of imagination and courage needed to survive are beautifully  told in Alfred Lansing’s book the Endurance , and can not be done justice in a few paragraphs in this blog. What Shackleton showed in the face of crisis is the basis for this blog, however, and the key moments are forever inspirational.  What does one do in the face of complete collapse and frank threat to your leadership? Shackleton’s decision was to show even greater leadership.  He announced to the crew that the purpose of the expedition was now fully to achieve the survival of the participants and he was confident through shared sacrifice this could be accomplished.  A score of men alone with limited food and poor survival gear floating on an ice flow over a hundred miles from land and a thousand miles from civilization seemed an impossible task and the men felt it, but Shackleton never let them see that he felt it.  He would lead them to safety.  The road to safety was the open sea, and therefore the three rescue boats on the Endurance would have to be the means of escape.  Men would have to physically drag them over ice flows and knee deep snow over uncountable miles until free water was seen.  Day after day the harsh realities were documented by the mission photographer, Frank Hurley, who brought visual confirmation to the incredible facts of the escape effort. Through maps and reckoning, the distance to shelter was felt to be three hundred miles-the highest speed of cross ice transit was seven miles a day.  It became eventually clear the men’s incredible effort would come for nought unless luck would intervene, and luck came in the form of fracturing of the ice pack on April 9th, and Shackleton’s decision to man the ice boats and attempt to make Elephant Island, the last outpost of Antarctica before the open sea, and certain death. Five days in the ocean led them to a landing on Elephant Island and land.

Land was a generous term as the island was essentially inhospitable and the weather still atrocious.  Shackleton had gotten them this far, and announced that the majority of the crew could take refuge, and he, Shackleton, would take the 22 foot rescue boat across the open Weddell Sea to civilization and help.

That would be 800 miles across what was uniformly known as some of the worst sailing sea in the world in a 22 foot boat to hopefully reach South Georgia Island and civilization – the equivalent of being a cork in the ocean that actually found itself back into its original bottle.  To Shackleton however, it was doable, and as he had gotten them into this mess, he would do whatever was necessary to get them out.  On April 24, 1916, Shackleton launched the James Caird with his chief navigator,  Frank Worsley who had only a chronometer and dead reckoning  to guide him across the difficult ocean, and four sailors.  The twenty or so crewmen of the Endurance who stayed behind on Elephant Island, waved him goodbye, and assumed that they were waving goodbye to their commander, and their own hopes for survival.

The Elephant Island survivors wave goodbye to the Shackleton and the James Caird crew on April 24, 2016.

The Elephant Island survivors wave goodbye to the Shackleton and the James Caird crew on April 24, 1916.

England by the spring of 1916 had been in brutal war for a year and a half, and having heard nothing from Shackleton and the Endurance crew, assumed them dead.  The forlorn men on Elephant Island knew they were as good as dead as no one knew they were there but Shackleton, and he was attempting the impossible.   For Shackleton, the impossible was only present through the release of death from responsibility, and as such, still, alive, he trudged across the Weddell Sea in his little boat through impossibly rough seas approaching thirty feet, gales that would have sunk a boat hundreds of feet larger, and nothing to prevent him from floating to death into the vast Atlantic Ocean other than the indefensible luck of successfully navigating to little South Georgia Island.

After 800 miles of vicious open sea, in a navigating achievement that no modern sailor with the most sophisticated gear would want to attempt, the James Caird reached  South Georgia Island  on May 10th, 1916.James_Caird_en.svg

The exhausted men of the James Caird found themselves on the opposite side of the island from the small whaling station and rescue.  All that stood in the way were mountain peaks thousands of feet high covered with treacherous ice and glaciers.

South Georgia Island mountain range conquered by Shackleton

South Georgia Island mountain range conquered by Shackleton

The men had soggy woolen clothes and a few ropes.  As if the travail across the sea was not challenge enough, the men tackled the climbs with desperation, finding themselves finally within site of the station but separated by a sheer three thousand foot drop. No residual strength was present so they took one last chance, improvised a rope sleigh and through themselves off.  Minutes later, whaling station inhabitants looked up to see four other worldly bedraggled men impossibly appearing from the impenetrable mountain side.

One of the four was Ernest Shackleton.

Shackleton fulfilled his promise to his men, eventually achieving a successful rescue mission to Elephant Island,  and his stranded men, on August 30th,1916.  The shock and joy that the impossible rescue had been achieved was for the men alone.  Upon returning to England, the men found a nation distracted and immersed in war, and the immensity of their survival achievement took years to absorb.  This was a generation of service, not plaudits, however, and most went on to serve in World War I, some dying in battle, after cheating death in Antarctica.

Ernest Shackleton remained somewhat of a celebrity, and even somewhat of an explorer, dying of a heart attack in 1921, in all places, South Georgia Island intent upon leading yet another expedition to the icy continent. It took several generations to fully absorb what he accomplished in failure, progressively appreciated as the technology improved and recognized what he had accomplished.  What he had done was be the best kind of leader, a leader that does everything he can to share in the sacrifice and find a way out of chaos, in a way that the men and women being led are willing to be led, no matter what the consequences.  Shackleton took responsibility, showed his followers that you try until you die, and you use what you have to succeed at whatever odds and challenges,  Through meeting a challenge no matter how harsh the consequence, the capacity to succeed revolves around the willingness to risk failure, and be content, with the idea you tried your very,very best.

 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

Posted in HISTORY | Leave a comment

Oh, To Be King…

imperial-obama-decree

Rule by decree is a style of governance allowing quick, unchallenged creation of law by a single person or group, and is used primarily by dictators and absolute monarchs.

The expression is also sometimes used as a pejorative and polemical hyperbole when describing actions of democratic governments that are perceived to unduly bypass parliamentarian or popular scrutiny.

Rule by decree allows the ruler to arbitrarily create law, without approval by a legislative assembly.       WIKIPEDIA

The considerations of democratic politics are a messy business.  There is an inordinate amount of delay, obfuscation, debate, backroom dealing, uncomfortable compromise, and unintended consequences to the participants that are part of crafting any acceptable law that will hold the respect of the constituents of the law.  Oh, to be King and do what is Necessary and Right without having to participate in such caterwauling.

President Obama announced to the nation on Thursday, November 20th, 2014 that he no longer felt bound by the constitutional process for the development of laws to secure immigration reform. As Ed Morrissey put so appropriately, Obama was invoking the “Sick and Tired” clause of the Constitution.  In a rambling speech full of contradictions, Obama stated that immigration reform failures lay securely at the hands of the Republican led House of Representatives, who in his mind refused to engage a “bipartisan” bill put forward by the Senate because they refused to participate in a simple up or down vote, instead wanting to potentially craft their own version for eventual conciliation.  Putting aside that little ball of nonsense as to how legislation is crafted, the two years in which President Obama led a party with full control of both the House and Senate 2009-2011 and did nothing on the issue speaks to the inanity of his argument.  The President, therefore, unable or unwilling to participate in the necessary politics of crafting bills in a democracy, declared he was sick and tired and was unwilling to wait the two months that would be required to engage a new congress.

This is a blog, and not a book, but I could write a book on how wrong this all is.  Thankfully as I have never written a book, many infinitely more talented are willing to do it for me on this underlying theme of this individual’s version of being President.  But there is something so inherently cynical in an individual who professes to be a constitutional law expert to be so ignorant of the measured reason so carefully tendered into every one of the Constitution’s  components.  Politics is about persuasion, and it’s extremely telling that this President is more comfortable engaging in discourse with the mullahs of Iran than the Republicans of the United States Senate. He has determined to demand that elections have consequences when the electorate determined to take a chance on him and his vision, than ignore electoral consequences when the electorate repudiates him.

Jonah Goldberg has spent a significant portion of his writing life dissecting this unique facet of the left’s interpretation of democracy and has outdone himself with a biting summary of Obama and his modus operandi. It is of course the darker and more linear goals of socialist dogma that that drives Obama and extra-constitutionalists like him.  There is a desire to always bend history toward the outcome that is in their mind most egalitarian, most correct, and it befalls them to nurse the masses that cannot see the way to the better world gently, or ruthlessly, toward the eventual desired outcome.  America is an anachronism to  such a concept, in that it exists a country with a Constitution, not a group of people living an idea.

How will it all end, in this two years to go with an extra-constitutional executive, who perceives himself as an ultimate arbiter? We can only hope that the father of Communism, Friedrich Engels, was correct when he stated:

The worst thing that can befall a leader of an extreme party is to be compelled to take over a government in an epoch when the movement is not yet ripe for the domination of the class which he represents and for the realization of the measures which that domination would imply …

Engels, The Peasant War in Germany (1850)

 

 

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Verdict: Turns Out, It was a Wave…

bulkupload_Ocean-Wallpaper_Crashing-Waves-OregonSo much for the concern that the 2014 midterm national election would defy a direction or interpretation.  Turns out, it was a wave election.  The extent of the wave effect continues to be poured over by the various constituencies that thought they understood what was going to happen, and woke up to find that something more remarkable had occurred.  After 4 billion dollars of investment to attempt to encourage a smaller and smaller group of uncommitted voters to shift their allegiance to the cult of the committed, it turns out good old voter engagement regarding the issues of the day may have won out one more time. A democracy is after all predicated on the single distinct feeling that things are heading either in the right way, or the wrong way, and this time, the wrong way vibe  –  won big.

The size and depth of the wave is what is most impressive.  The election turned out not to be a battle of national organizations for a few high profile elections, but instead, a deep and philosophical sea change.  The U.S. Senate will see at minimum a shift of 8 democrat seats, from a deficit of 45 Republicans in the minority caucus to 53, and potentially 54 by December’s run off in Louisiana.  The U.S. House of Representatives will see the biggest Republican majority since before the Great Depression. Republicans will hold 31 of the 50 governorships, including securing Maryland, Massachusetts, and Illinois, the deepest of blue states now led by  boys in Red. Most profoundly speaking to the depth of the wave, of the 98 state legislature bodies, 67, more than two-thirds,  are in the hands of Republicans. It appears amazingly, America’s team is the Republican Party.  For the philosophy of conservatism that was felt by demographics to be forever dead after 2008, and whose own party leaders performed an “autopsy” after the 2012 election, it appears the eulogy may have been a little premature.  The majority party electorally is the Republican Party.

The President of the United States, leader of the world’s leading democracy, when asked in the day after election press conference as to his interpretation of the voter’s will,  expressed  that his job was to be a spokesman for the two-thirds of Americans who felt it wasn’t worth their time to vote. As to the President being a supposed constitutional scholar, that interpretation by the President leaves me a little cold.  But then, maybe his grades in Constitutional Law weren’t that great, though of course we will probably never know.  His mission, as he saw it in the wake of the biggest wave of policy rejection in years, was to circle the wagons, and forge ahead with his vision of  “immigration reform” and “climate change”.

There’s a change in climate all right, but I don’t think we will see its effect focused on the Weather Channel.

Since the President and the pundits have their view of what happened, I think it only right that Ramparts take a measured look and provide its own spin.  The longevity of this particular wave is yet to be determined, but some recognizable themes seem to be fundamental contributors.

Special Interest Themes Don’t Resonate in Down Economic Times:            for some time and particularly since 2008, the focus of the democrat party’s electoral philosophy has been identifying victims and villains, and implying the republican party existed to make war with them.  We had the War on Women, War on Unions, War on Blacks, War on Gays and War on Hispanics to the extent that one would assume that America existed only as prison of suppression and not a land of opportunity.  In 2008 and 2012, the tactics seemed to take hold with what was referred to as the low information voter, where their sense of personal injustice dominated any rationalization of their true opportunity in society.  In the 2014 election, however, the effects of 6 years of neglect of the forces that actually determine robust economic performance, overruled any sense that unseen prejudices held people down. Texans did not buy Wendy Davis’s supposition that the lack of universal abortion rights was the major suppressing factor in woman succeeding in the marketplace. The  dark hand of voter suppression of minorities did not seem to effect South Carolinians from determining Tim Scott’s conservative economic plans were more important than the color of his skin.  The danger to the undocumented alien of a stiffer border security did not seem to sway a dramatic shift of Texas hispanic voters into the republican column.  Fundamentally, regardless of personal interpretations as to perceived victimhood, it remains that the overriding force that determines elections is the Clintonian motto,”It’s the Economy , Stupid”.  Voters saw the lack of job growth, the massive increase in the underemployed, the instability of the nation’s fiscal health, and the generational expansion of reduced opportunity, and decided, not as women, minorities, gays, or millennials, but as Americans, to vote their pocketbooks and change the direction of the nation.

The Party of Government Doesn’t Know How to Govern:                  2014 is the year that it began to dawn on Americans that the party that declared that only though government can equality, security, and opportunity be secured for all on a level playing field, had no idea how to make that happen.  The realization that incompetence was the expression of hope and change, made voters feel hopeless, and opt for change. Voters saw a party that declared the time was right for government supervised management of everybody’s health, only to find that three years and two billion dollars wasn’t enough even to get a website to work.  Voters look around and saw that the states and cities  that flexibly addressed their budgetary and health issues in rough times were run by republican governors, mayors, and councils, and those burdened by disastrous strangleholds of the dual killers of government unions and the inbred party hacks that underwrote them run by democrats, and decided the future resided progressively with siding with mature adult management. Thus the tsunami of state governor and legislature outcomes. The battering of mounds of evidence of what government should do well, and couldn’t, defense of the borders, impartial collection of taxes, care for its veterans, even good old public health organization in the face of a possible pandemic, left the voters who wanted to believe in the more government is better government meme, doubting their own personal safety and security. Government that can not even run itself can not run others, and the electorate seemed to recognize it was time to clean house.

The Incredible Shrinking President:                              Despite Tip O’Neill’s oft remarked statement that legislative elections are “local,” mid term elections are never really independent of the effect of the President. The fact that the Presidency is not specifically up for election certainly does effect how many come out to vote, but nevertheless bends the local nature of the elections based on the right way wrong way vibe. This President has been immersed in an avalanche of wrong way vibe.  When times were better internationally and when this President was seen as a confident savant that would glide above partisanship to a better future, the electorate saw his vagaries and loose work habits as ‘above the fray’.  The progressive disaster that is the international position of the United States in a progressively dangerous world of instability has not reflected well on this veneer, and the electorate began to realize belatedly that this ’emperor’ has no clothes.  The cocky assuredness that President Obama tries to project that he is right above all other  interpretations has collapsed policy in Israel, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran, Russia, and China and left his allies wondering if they can count on a single thing he says.  All the redlines and resets in the world don’t protect you when the world’s baddies sense weakness and a leadership void, and they are beginning to think they are circling a carcass of a once great carnivore.  Americans since the election of Theodore Roosevelt have not been used to a world that thinks America can be had, and that made this electorate very uneasy.  This election proved to be, above all, a monster repudiation of this President, and this imperial presidential model.

What’s In It For Me?:                                                       Meism is the culture of our times.  Ask the typical college student about the concept of checks and balances in the Constitution, the role of fiscal stability in preserving the marketplace, or role of the Bill of Rights in securing this nation’s prosperity, and you will likely get a blank stare. The story is that the modern individual is most concerned about their social circle, as defined by Facebook and Twitter and the Cloud. There has been a lack of connectivity to role one’s own responsible behavior and performance plays in the achievement of success in life.  This certainly wasn’t born in the current generation.  This nation had the Lost Generation, the Beat Generation, the Turn On and Tune Out Generation among others, all of which were assumed to have forgotten the essential responsibility of each generation to leave the world better than they found it.  Yet, the brilliant structure of the American Experiment put forth by the founders left tools in place to recognize and adjust wayward behavior , even belatedly.   Of particular note, the voter gap in voters 18-29 shifted perceptively against the democrat monolith, narrowing substantially.  In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker, though to be a pariah among the state’s youth, lost the 18-29 age group by only 52-48, after previous elections resulted in 10 and 12 point margins.  There may be faint recognition that degrees in victimhood studies attained at confiscatory tuition rates are unlikely to secure personal happiness or achievement in an increasingly competitive world. Young people may be starting to realize that their lack of attention will soon immerse them as owners of a country with unsolvable debt and irretrievable loss of individual freedom.  When faced with such challenge, worrying obsessively about issues such as a global warming that simply refuses to happen  is perhaps becoming a canard they would rather do without.

Minorities are a Monolith(?):    Regardless of any malfeasance, the Democrat Party has always assumed it could count on the monolith of minority voting to put it over the top in elections.  Secure in this assumption was the desire to drive American diversity increasingly toward a white minority, thereby securing a permanent Democrat majority.  This assumption has always required maintenance of the myth that the American Experiment and its philosophical underpinning, the American Dream,  was not meant for minorities, and does not appeal to them.  The evidence has been primarily the urban black voter, that though faced with 50 years of deteriorating inner cities, continued to vote monolithically for democrat dominated governance, and in cities like Detroit, minority democrat governance, despite catastrophically failing infrastructure and opportunity. Republicans as pariahs identified by these urban black leaders as “racist” and “overseers” could not be trusted to improve things even in the obvious case of voting for continuous decline.

These series of assumptions may not be forever.  An increasing number of minority candidates are finding success  and energy resides in confronting the monolith.  2014 brought visible cracks in the wall. African American  populations, though increasing their participation in 2014 to 12% of the participating electorate, increased their vote diversity to 10% republican from 6% in 2012. Tim Scott, a black conservative republican won his US Senate election by almost 25 points, destroying his black opponent, in one of the first elections for US Senate between two African Americans.  Mia Love of Utah became the first female African American Republican in the US House of Representatives. The assumption that the Hispanics of Texas are in lock step with open borders promoted by their national spokespeople and would eventually turn Texas blue, was answered with the election of a black republican advocating border security in Texas’s largest border county which is majority hispanic.  Asian Americans, traditionally democratic, voted in two Korean American Republican house members in California, and nation wide narrowed the gap between democrat and republican support to less than ten percent.  Indigenous American Indians, through the cruelties of history forced into the position often as wards of the state, voted republican 52 to 43% nationally as progressively they look to control their own destiny.

 

And all of these various threads led to a wave, and Republican victory. But what of the victorious Republican Party, that so often in a position of power fails to be the party its voters assumed they were voting for? Is this just another example of substituting one statist impulse for another?  Frankly, I suspect  this is likely the last election in the two party mode, if neither party learns from this election and governs as true representatives of their electorate. The President states he hears the calling of the nation that doesn’t express itself democratically, and the Republicans are embarrassed by their constituents fervor for change.  The  great likelihood of course is that neither the President or the Congress will listen to each other.  Well, nothing can be done about this President.  Hopefully though the newly elected Congress will look to listen to the electorate that got them there and accomplish the things that more and more Americans are expressing what they want.  Good rational governance.  Outcomes based investment in our future. Securing the American Experiment against lethargy and corrosion so that it continues to be a beacon for all of us.

Is that too much to ask?

 

Posted in POLITICS | 3 Comments

A Wave versus a Ripple

bulkupload_Ocean-Wallpaper_Crashing-Waves-Oregon

The United States nationally participates every two years in perpetual rebirth as defined by the founding fathers. The securing of a representative legislature for governance occupies the  first article of the Constitution,  laid out in means by which renewal and stability can co-exist.  The house of representatives allied most closely to local expressions is positioned to reflect the feelings of the electorate as to their sense of representation and influence over the nation’s direction.  The election of senators, adjusted by amendment to the constitution remains positioned at six years in the post to be more immune to the day to day emotional shifts of the electorate.  As the senate elections are however staggered such that a number of senators are nationally exposed to assessment at every election,  there remains the potential that if the local district ,the statewide electorate, and the national zen are emotionally confluent in the interpretation of the country’s direction, a wave election is possible.

Wave elections are not necessarily about substantial increases in a party’s representation in Congress.  They speak more toward a fundamental shift  in the electorate’s sense of the country needing to change direction, and the effects typically extend beyond the current election and may influence several election cycles.  Maybe no sea change in electoral philosophy expressed through a wave election will fundamentally top the epic wave of the 1930-32 elections. For almost 70 years since the Civil War, the country had maintained a confident sense of destiny through self actualization and growth that resisted intermittent economic downturns and for the majority of elections left a Republican bias in place.   In the depths of the depression, however,  the country demanded a hard tack to the left that has influenced the nation’s course ever since.  The 1930 Congress was composed of a house of 267 republicans and 163 democrats, a senate of 56 republicans 39 democrats and a republican President. Just two years later, the electorate converted the house to 313 democrats and 117 republicans, the senate to 59 democrats and 36 republicans, and the Presidency to FDR.  This dramatic change was not simply a “throw the bums out” reflex.  It reflected the country’s conversion from a self reliant, libertarian concept of life to a community driven, safety net philosophy that has never left.  With minor ebbs and flows, the Democrat wave secured the House of Representatives for the next 31 of 33 elections, the Senate for the next 25 of 27 elections, and the Presidency for the next 7-9 elections.

Now that’s a wave.

With the increasing influence of  money and the immediacy of social media, it seems that the ability for the country to digest the effectiveness of governance and the re-orientation of priorities has been fundamentally effected.  Waves have steadily turned to ripples as the effects of the wave are often cut off by the manipulative influences of media driven by money. With billions now spent on elections, most of it to the prosperity of those that deliver the message,  there is an industry developing to convert elections into mini-waves, increasing the hostility and inaccuracy of the discourse, and guaranteeing the progressive expenditure of money to adjust.  The waves have progressively shortened almost to the extent of each election cycle, driven by the media’s need to create conflict, and deflect the momentum of a philosophic governmental change. The shorter attention spans of the electorate, driven by the more emotional immediacy of the message, contributes to this, and plays into the hands of those who wish to control the country’s direction.

A pattern of back and forth waves, with more radical peaks and troughs, has settled in. The “Reagan Revolution” flowed for a decade, until the 1992 election re-oriented the country back towards collective economic security with the end of the Cold War and the election of Clinton. Almost immediately, the Clinton in your face style with the push toward universal healthcare, led to pushback, with the unexpected Republican takeover of Congress with republican “wave” of 64 seats in 1994, leading to the ultimate politician Clinton shifting to the right, abandoning his wife’s healthcare initiative, cooperating with welfare reform and declaring “the era of big government is over”.   Not so fast.  The overreach of the congress with the Clinton impeachment drove a schizophrenic election of 2000 that hung on a couple ballot chads, and within two years led to a republican President driving a massive governmental infusion into healthcare with the formation of Medicare Part D, covering for the first time prescriptions.  The cataclysm of 9/11 briefly aligned the country’s vision on the international stage, only to lead to the democrat wave of 2006, which wrenched a sharp escalation in the concept of debt investment and government influence, resulting in the election of the most liberal President in history, comfortable with doubling the size the nation’s debt accumulated in over 230 years, in just five, with the enthusiastic support of the democrat majority in congress.  This budget busting philosophy and a back room push of government take over of healthcare, the liberal uberweapon to control populations, led to the Republican “wave” of 2010, in which the president himself declared his party to have absorbed a “shellacking”.

The apparent”shellacking” delivered by the electorate in 2010 this time, however, led to no perceptive changes in governance, as the presence of enormous money and the shorter attention spans  was maximized by the president in collapsing the wave with his re-election of 2012. The power of the election to influence government policy proved progressively powerless against the use of media to propagate distortions and out and out lies through the power of social media. “If you want to keep your health insurance, you will keep it. Period”.  ” The massive stimulus plan of 2009-2010, will create hundreds of thousands of “shovel ready jobs”.  The IRS political motivated suppression of free speech to reduce influence of conservative discourse in elections contained “not a smidgen of corruption.”  The Benghazi terrorist attack  was a “response to a Youtube video.” One could go on and on and on.

The 2012 election secured the undoing of the 2010 election. What should we therefore make of 2014?  The polls suggest the country is again deliberating on a potentially massive “wave” response to the lack of influence of the 2010 election to change anything.  History suggests that the result will have less influence on the government’s tactics than one would suppose.  The President already is describing a massive extra-legislative process to change the country’s demographics through the executive edicts to achieve immigration “reform”, feeling himself immune to both election results and potential extra-constitutional actions. Have we reached a point where the democratic process has lost its capacity to influence government, that responds instead to the flow of money and the real time manipulation of the social media emotions through propagandistic distortion?

Like all defenders of the ramparts of civilized society, I remain wistful about the potential ability of a democracy to stop internal decay, restore fiscal sanity, secure its borders and principles of citizenship, defend against external enemies, and providentially commit to its future.  A 2014 “wave” to restrain the collapse of these ideals so influencing our current administration is the least we can hope for.  Recent history is not comforting.

On November 4th, outcome aside, it behooves us as defenders of the Ramparts to attend the barricades and vote for change one more time, and fight, fight against the dying the light.

Maybe this time, we can hold the potential of renewal beyond the satisfaction of winning an election night.

 

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