Canyonland

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

It is always a remarkable event when something you assume you know and understand reveals itself once again to be beyond understanding.  I have been to the grandest of canyons several times, but the thrill it elicits with the first sighting from the edge of the Colorado Plateau through which it has carved itself over eons remains  bordering on euphoric. It is not the rocks, or the depths, or the ribbon of the river of creation, but rather the glimpse it provides of Creation itself that comes over you.  It happens to you every time, no matter what your level of preparation.

The stillness of time transcends.  The lava and ash base rock of the canyon , the Vishnu Schist, thrust in a tectonic convulsion some 1.7 billion years ago against the continental plate, lays exposed by the river that began to reveal it to our eye only some six million years ago. Rock, that several billion years ago was not even half again as old as the planet upon which it was created.  Through volcanos and inland seas, sediments and pressures,  protozoans and dinosaurs, the layered geologic beauty of the canyon lay waiting for visual birth through the erosive force of a mighty river.   The entirety of a fulfilled human lifetime is but a fleeting wisp of wind in the immensity that is the measurement of such time.  To admit to oneself that reality, is to feel very small, yet very privileged to have it revealed.

The canyon divulged itself to no one that left any record prior to the time of Christ yet existed through innumerable sunrises and sunsets in its current state, with the only appreciation, that of its animal inhabitants.  The scale of the canyon such that the same species of squirrel has evolved into two distinct visages, the black chested whited tailed Kaibab of the North Rim, and his genetically identical cousin the Abert with his white chest and grey tail, long separated by the chasm.  The original settlers along the rim and cliffs left records of attachment but were unable to sustain their existence through the cycles of plenty and drought typical of the region, and fled near  silently out of history.  The initial caucasians exploring the canyon found it vast and devoid of people, and viewed it as an obstacle to be avoided.  It remained to the few who saw it as a potential site of habitation, empty and trackless.

Then, in 1869, perspective was provided.  An explorer and geologist John Wesley Powell, hardened to challenge by his military experiences in the recent Civil War and bereft of an arm from the damage of a minnie ball at Shiloh, found himself after the  intensity of the war unable to return to the everyday experience of an academic career in Illinois.  Powell determined to experience the  Grand Canyon from the bottom up as part of an expedition down the length of the mighty Colorado River, and his exploits through the canyon in 1869 and a second expedition in 1871 were for the first time channeled as a shared experience to an enraptured audience through the power of real time mass media, connected by reported stories as serial adventure.  To describe the voyage as hazardous is insufficient, but is perhaps preserved in the visual of a one armed, rail thin man manning the rudder of flat boat down level six rapids of an entirely untamed river.  The 750 mile voyage of the expedition of ten men from the origin of the Green River in Wyoming through the canyon lands of the Colorado is the stuff of legend.  More importantly, it presented America with a new kind of hero, the Naturist, as Powell along with fellow explorer, the Wisconsinite John Muir, presented the American West as more than obstacle, but rather a paradise of magnificent cultures, vistas, and geology best appreciated when preserved, rather then overcome.

IMG_4411The final linking of the concept of America’s image of itself linked fundamentally  to its land came in the personhood of President Theodore Roosevelt, who established the core of America’s heritage preserved through its concept of national parks.  He saw in particular the Grand Canyon critical in leaving the natural scape as untouched as possible to better absorb its eternal grandeur:

“In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.”

The eventual hold on the American consciousness progressed through the first half of the twentieth century as the canyon vistas and campsites became increasingly available to the average American.  Starting with  the development of the railroad to the rim, the gradual concept of individual travel and exploration as the country became more mobile through the automobile made the concept of taking in the beauty of the natural landscape of America a national obsession.  The country’s population increasing looked to the West as a potential place of permanent attraction and residence.  Yet, predictably, the diverging view of  ‘progress’ proved a powerful enemy of President Roosevelt’s vision. As hard as it is to imagine, the vistas of the Grand Canyon could have been forever marred as had its sister magnificent creation, the Glen Canyon.  In 1963, the special place that was Glen Canyon was tragically drowned in the development of the manmade inland sea of Lake Powell created by the Glen Canyon Dam.

Glen Canyon prior to the formation of Lake Powell by the Glen Canyon Dam

Glen Canyon prior to the formation of Lake Powell by the Glen Canyon Dam

Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell  - mitch tobin photo

Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell – mitch tobin photo

The presence of a series of dams to tame the Colorado River for water resource, flood prevention, hydroelectric power, and recreation secured with the Boulder and Glen Canyon dams was actually contemplated for the stretch that is the Grand Canyon through the Bridge and Marble Canyon dam projects.  The conversion of portions of the Grand Canyon National Monument into a lake for water skiers came too close to contemplate, with only a final securing of public outcry as groups such as the Sierra Club, recognizing their error in not standing tall with the Glen Canyon project finally marshaling the collapse of the political will for Congress to pass funding for the Bridge and Marble dam projects in 1966.  It probably as much as anything led to the formation of the political environmental movement, with the eventual formation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the idea of environmental impact statements becoming a dominant influence with any construction project, big or small.

Sierra Club ad campaign to block the Grand Canyon dam projects - 1966

Sierra Club ad campaign to block the Grand Canyon dam projects – 1966

Of course the Grand Canyon is constantly evolving, and in the saga of time may possibly be  effected by nature such as to no longer be grand, flooded again by inland seas or eroded through wind and time into unrecognizable patterns.  It is however, in our brief window of time, human time, that the canyonland exists for us to understand our on part in the story, small as it may be. We must balance our need to be, to forever demand increasing amounts of  electricity and water in isolated tracts of the world with our need to be a part of that world, and pass it along to our children, and children’s children.

To be in canyonland is to walk the road of time from all that is before and to all that will be as a traveler, not as a conqueror.  At the edge of the canyon lies the home of our own Creation through mists of time and stars, wind and water, death and rebirth. At the edge of the canyon, in the land of the canyon,  for every traveler on every journey,  there is the discovery of one’s self and the universe beyond.

IMG_4427

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The Rule of Law

Attorney General Eric Holder - gettyimages

Attorney General Eric Holder – gettyimages

“No man is above the law, and no man is below it ; nor do we ask any man’s permission when we require him to obey it.    Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor.”                           Theodore Roosevelt   1903

” I, Eric Holder, do solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”                                        Oath taken by Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States                  February 3rd, 2009

On Thursday of this past week, President Obama accepted the resignation of Eric Holder as Attorney General of the United States.  So ended the controversial 6 year term of  the country’s chief law enforcement officer, who spent as much time ignoring the country’s fundamental structure of law as enforcing it.  To those who see activism as the highest calling, he is seen as a hero; to those who would seek equal justice under the law and respect for its unprejudiced adjudication, he is an abomination.  What Eric Holder is not, is insignificant.  Holder managed to infuse political activism so intensely into the Department of Justice that it may prove impossible to ever return it to its calling of enforcing the law that has been given it.  The rule of law, and the protection it provides a free society, may be irreparably harmed.

What is the rule of law that has previously been considered the mandate of a free people?  The definition has certainly been deliberated, and there is no single answer.  The concept of law obviously requires a standard people find fundamentally just to their lives.  Is a law for instance that serves to enforce servitude, physical pain, or premeditated inequity a law that deserves enforcement without pause?  The laws of sharia, Krystalnacht, Stalinist Russia, and Jim Crow America come to mind.  Martin Luther King, speaking of the logic behind civil disobedience, suggested in a free society, there is often the need to define the equity of a law by the willful breaking of it:

” I submit that an individual that breaks a law that his conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”          Martin Luther King  1963

 

The American Bar Association through its World Justice Project attempted to secure a universal meaning to the concept of rule of law that could merge the concept globally across societies:

1) A system of self government in which all persons, including the government, are accountable under the law

2) A system based on fair, publicized, broadly understood and stable laws

3) A fair, robust, and accessible legal process in which rights and responsibilities based in law are equally enforced.

4) Diverse, competent, and independent lawyers and judges

The overriding message is that the rule of law is not so much the law itself but its accountability and its equality of enforcement.  Throughout Holder’s tenure as Attorney General,  he proceeded to abrogate these two tenets that regardless of  his personal views, he had a responsibility to uphold.  The selective prejudicial enforcement or premeditated neglect  of laws rather than the hard work of convincing a people of their apparent inequity and improving them was part of the innate hubris of this Attorney General.   There were several profoundly disturbing events in his tenure that stand out in sharp contrast. Particularly remarkable was the dominance of race  outrage as an alternative to the concept of civil rights.  The civil right of every individual regardless of race, the centerpiece of assurance for the elimination of racial discrimination, was converted time and time again to perceived racial abuse, one directional toward alleged white on black injustice.  The elevation of the Trayvon Martin and Ferguson, Missouri incidents by the Department of justice threatened to intimidate the equal protection under the law for all concerned, making a mockery of the concept of true civil rights. While propagandizing the idea of white on black violence, Holder ignored multiple other minority group  injustices, the most profound of which was black on black violence, devastating community after community with little attention or concern.

The laws of immigration, designed to protect the country’s borders, and secure the concept of citizenship regardless of race, were habitually ignored by Holder and the administration, turning the process of achieving citizenship by accepting and respecting a nation’s laws, into somehow a racial injustice to those who would ignore the requirements of citizenship.

Holder became the first Attorney General in the history of the country to be found in contempt of congress, for obfuscating in the process of examination of the Fast and Furious scandal.  The Fast and Furious program, in which the government deliberately ignored its own laws regarding the sale of certain armaments, participating in gun trafficking with criminals , in an effort to create a perceived environment of law breaking that would allow increased restrictions on the second amendment.  The result was the deaths of untold numbers of Mexicans and several Americans for which the government remains, protected by Holder,  unaccountable.

Holder continued the pattern of selective civil rights enforcement, with his department involved in the incredibly questionable investigation of reporter’s  personal information without cause in an effort to identify the sources of “leaks” in the administration, and has put no effort in the policing of the administration’s own IRS that sought to use its powers to inhibit individuals participating in free speech the administration saw as counter to their aims.

Civil rights activism delivered with a point of view is of course the inherent right of every citizen but the adjudication of every citizen’s civil rights is the calling of a Department that calls itself Justice.  For Eric Holder to have accepted the position with no intention of equally enforcing the laws that assure rights of all citizens while elevating beyond law the perceived injustices of a few, is a person to whom civil rights have no meaning.  This country, that through the strength of its constitution and bill of rights achieved hard fought victories for the rights of all men, was diminished by his time in government. The damage done is incalculable to the real mission of equality and equal opportunity for all.

In a free society, justice blind to prejudice, firm to the law of equal accountability of the meek and the powerful, is the link that secures the future of a civilization. Those of us who consider this a foundational value, won’t miss Eric Holder.

supreme-justice-blind

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Scotland Contemplates Cracking the Union Jack

FLAG OF THE UNITED KINGDOM

FLAG OF THE UNITED KINGDOM

In 1707, with the passage of the Acts of Union, the parliaments of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland determined to secure a Parliament of Great Britain forming a political union so successful that, at its height, presided over an empire that encompassed nearly 20% of the people and a quarter of the land mass of the globe.  On September 18th, 2014, the people of Scotland will vote in a referendum that seeks to dissolve that union.  For more than three hundred years the contributions of Scotsman and Englishmen to the enormous influence the presence of a Great Britain has meant to the world as a military, political, cultural and democratic force has been inestimable.  What looked like a quixotic quest for separateness by a smallish force of malcontents just a few months ago however has suddenly become a very real potential outcome of the referendum.  A yes vote could mean some unalterable changes for centuries of  communal considerations between kingdoms of the island of Albion and the kickstart of a number of similar actions around the world.

The Union Jack, the flag of Great Britain combines the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland in an overlapped blend of the Crosses of St. George, St Andrew, and St Patrick.  If the September 18th referendum separates Scotland, the blue background and oblique white cross of St Andrew will wash out of the flag and Great Britain will be considerably less – great.

The Blending of the Crosses

The Blending of the Crosses

Certainly the careful blending of the crosses on the flag has tended to obscure a fairly rocky history of relations between the inhabitants of the islands off the continent of Europe. In particular, the Picts of the northern part of the island known as Albion, with genetics, language and culture considerably different from their southern neighbors, developed a necessary defensive posture for nearly a thousand years to resist the encroachment of a progressively more aggressive south.  First, the border of the northern reaches of the Roman Empire pushed against the native Caledonians and Pict tribes resulting in hostilities and the establishment of Hadrian’s wall as the boundary between civilizations.  Later it was the encroachment of raiding parties of Saxons and Vikings, the militaristic push of the powerful Normans, and eventually the hostility of the English Kings, that belied any sense of shared destiny.  But the island known as Albion also had at its core the antethical force of unique coalescing visions on the island  such as the concepts of property, individual freedom, and the capacity of individual merit and industry.  This led to the flowering of the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and progressively the sharing of a unique blend of character to change world history.

The current forces at work are not necessarily the hostility of cultural dissonance, as much as it is the political schisms that have wreaked havoc with  the natural commonalities that have held the island together for so long.  Scotland leans toward a more socialist construct, heavily supportive of public burdens for free health and education more in tune with the anti-democratic thrust of the bureaucrats in Belgium fronting the European Union.  They object to the growing movement in England to protect the island against European mandates for immigration and trade, its love affair with the pound sterling, and the english tendency to see foreign policy more in line with their American cousins then modern Europe. They see their capacity to affect law suppressed by the higher representation of the English in parliament, and the natural resources abundant in the north sea oil fields off their coast as insufficiently benefiting them.   They look to an independent Scotland as righting a mistake made when the Scottish King James was usurped on the throne by the outlander William of Orange in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, securing the primacy of English Protestantism at the cost of Scottish Catholics in the combined kingdom.

The forces attempting to hold the United Kingdom together have missed badly on gauging the mood of the Scottish populous. It has been assumed that the economic pain of separation would be too great for Scotlanders to be willing to take the risk of a yes vote, but the emotions are overwhelming any measured consideration of the risk.  As has happened in America, the realities of economics are failing to sway the emotions of  ‘hope and change’, and the price to be paid seems somehow avoidable.  Yet realities are just that-realities- and the effects of a separation are considered to be dire for Scotland.

What Scottish independence says for the rest of Great Britain and the world may be as great.  The Quebec province in Canada, the Catalonians in Spain, the old city states of northern Italy, the Walloons of Belgium, and others will be watching closely and taking  measure.  Even within England, the massive effect on political roles of the previously dominant Labour and Tory parties would be thrown asunder and likely make the upstart UKIP party the dominant force, upending hundreds of years of relative political tradition and definition.

The United States, which fought a war to secure the supremacy of the Constitution as the common force binding a diverse people, has progressively fallen away from democratic process to adjudicate differences, with the federal government taking more dominant roles every day in transcending the legislation process and regulating livelihood and personhood.

Wiiliam Wallace - Scottish Hero

Wiiliam Wallace – Scottish Hero

There is a significant Scot Irish genetics that runs through the founding documents of this country. One wonders if a William Wallace type is out there to stir a call to question as to whether the United States suffers from the same sclerosis of national leadership that has befallen its United Kingdom cousin.

It is after all, in a time like this devoid of leaders that drives the people to determine, more and more, to lead themselves.

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Men With Masks

Pro Russian Militia in Eastern Ukraine -kyivpost.com

Pro Russian Militia in Eastern Ukraine -kyivpost.com

In 1989, there was an interesting moment for those who were in the map business.  Almost overnight, it seemed almost as if the entire Eurasian continent would require a reorganization and renaming. For those at Rand McNally , the midnight lamps were burning as new countries popped up daily as free standing entities – Estonia and Moldova; Montenegro and Georgia; Slovenia and Slovakia; Armenia and Azerbaijan; Russia and the Ukraine.  An enormous re-ordering of the world occurred peaceably as the two great powers, the United States and the Soviet Union stood down to allow it to happen without major bloodshed.  A new world order was declared – a world in which the principles of free choice, self determination, peaceful cohesion and global interconnectiveness would overwhelm tired old tribalism and cultural malevolence.

Well, the new world order did not last long, and it may be time to get those map makers busy again.

There’s a new technique being used to subvert international order and territorial integrity and it basically requires producing a map and finding men with masks to enforce it.

Charles Kupchan, former Professor at Georgetown and current Senior White House Director of European Relations for the Obama Administration, and one of the mentors for the President’s shall we say interesting interpretation of history, has defined this new technique as ‘hybrid warfare’ :

“Because I think one of the things that we’ve learned from the situation in Ukraine is that oftentimes in this new world that we live in, NATO or individual countries may be facing not armored columns coming across their border, which you can usually see in advance, but guys coming across in masks, you don’t know who they are — what we could call hybrid warfare, or asymmetric warfare. And that requires a very different kind of military response than NATO has traditionally been focused on.”

Charles Kupchan is the author of the book  “No One’s World: the West, the Rising Rest, and the Coming Global Turn”  in which he sees the West – meaning the US, Europe and Japan – in a position of irreversible decline and the need to deal with a world where no one will be ‘in charge’.  This administration is well on its way to making Dr. Kupchan’s vision a reality.

These men in masks seem to have a proclivity to ignore international borders, and part of their technique is to suggest the border has no validity.  You do that by getting a map the reorders the border – thus the sudden existence of Novorossiya (or New Russia) – a country President Putin is referring to as spontaneously existing, and therefore the need for a map:

Novorossiya as Putin would see it

Novorossiya as Putin would see it

We seen this pattern in the recent past in another conflict:   Masked Men

Masked Militia of ISIL

Masked Militia of ISIL

And a Map of the Caliphate they assume will be theirs:

The ultimate Caliphate desired by ISIL

The ultimate Caliphate desired by ISIL

So what’s with the masks?  The masks are a device to allow the anonymity of not just the warriors but their nation sponsors. These so called hybrid warriors as Kupchan would have us believe spontaneously form have no desire to be recognized for what they are – shock troops for the countries that want to see maps changed in their favor.   Masked men who hide their nationality and their identity allow free transition between borders and the ability for countries to provide them with sophisticated weaponry and support.  These shock troops allow  the Irans, Qatars, Saudi Arabias, and Russias of the world to engage in proxy war that otherwise would position them as old fashioned pariahs and might even engage an old fashioned response from the part of the world that is self absorbed in self induced decline.

The United Nations Charter of which of the above aforementioned are member states, pledges in Chapter I Article 2  of the United Nations Charter:

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

That charter of course doesn’t matter if you can get the map to say a new territorial reality is present, and you have masked men to enforce it.

This is a very dangerous game that countries like Russia are playing, and it is awakening people from the political spectrum one would think would be the last to respond.  The President of the United States however is still formulating a strategy that will permit the progressive decline of the West without him being perceived as directly responsible for its destruction.  That’s a balancing act we have not seen him showing the high wire skills necessary to pull off.  Then again, the United States has a border, a southern border, that the administration is loathe to enforce territorial integrity over. It won’t be long before we see our own masked men.  And they’ll probably be carrying a map:

AZTLAN

AZTLAN

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Alfred Brendel and Beethoven’s Ghost

ALFRED BRENDEL

ALFRED BRENDEL

About twenty five years ago during my study years, I had the opportunity to see Alfred Brendel in recital performing Beethoven. I had a vague understanding through recordings what I might hear, but I was not prepared for the possibility that I was going to be involved in a seance.  Among other pieces, Brendel performed a late Beethoven piano sonata.  It was during this piece he became simply transfixed and other worldly.  Several minutes into the central movement, a listener developed an annoying recurrent muffled cough in the hushed recital hall.  The sublimity of Brendel’s face on stage began to reveal a series of anguished contortions, as if he was being pulled from a deep dark place into blinding light.  After several moments, he stopped playing, to the astonishment of the audience, and turned to the horrified cougher with an intense expression, then said, he could not channel Beethoven and play it the way the master wanted, and the audience deserved, unless the dissonance from the audience stopped.

The coughing stopped, and the sublimity returned.

No one can play Beethoven like Alfred Brendel, and  the means to the answer was on the stage that night. Brendel plays Beethoven like a re-incarnated Beethoven, and it  may well be that he is capable of channeling the master composer’s spirit directly into his body and soul.  To hear Brendel in recital is likely the closest you will ever get to hearing Beethoven himself perform his works at the height of his prowess in Vienna in 1800.  Frankly, you probably will never know how Beethoven must sound until you hear Brendel perform Beethoven.  The perfect phrasing, the precise articulation, and the masterful but limited use of the pedal makes a Brendel interpretation of a Beethoven sonata not a performance but rather, a re-creation.

Alfred Brendel was born in 1933 in the remnants of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, born in the Czech Republic, moving to Croatia at an early age and eventually settling Graz, Austria.  He showed early musical talent,but the horror of WWII swept away any capacity for rigorous formal training.  It may well be that his self taught style in the absence of overbearing influence of piano teachers may well be the means by which Brendel has maintained the purity of the compositions in his performance.  Regardless of formal instruction, Brendel’s performance genius particularly for the classical masters of his homeland, Mozart, Schubert, and most specifically, Beethoven was evident in the years after the war and through his long career since until his performance retirement in 2008.

Interpreters of Beethoven are particularly cherished for their ability to remind every one of the unique olympian genius of Beethoven.  In the first half of the twentieth century, the ultimate interpreter was recognized to be Artur Schnabel, and there has been a need by music critics ever since to use Schnabel’s intense concentration on the Beethoven works as the standard by which to evaluate all others.  We have only the older recordings by which to judge Schnabel, but thanks to the wonders of YouTube, we have an extensive performance record of high fidelity by which to immerse ourselves in the wonders of a Brendel performance.

Two Beethoven creations of Brendel frame this performer’s mastery well.  The first is the most beautiful and elevating seven and a half minutes of music in the classical literature, Beethoven’s Adagio movement from his epic ‘Emperor’ Piano Concerto No.5. The second, Brendel’s recital performance of Beethoven Sonata No.32.  The concerto performance will make you cry a little as you feel Beethoven reaching for the essence of human beauty at a time of enveloping hearing loss, but the Sonata will leave you stunned, as you realize Brendel is reaching through time and space, and bringing Beethoven physically through his hands onto the piano, to the everlasting wonderment and joy, of us all…

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The Big Ditch Turns 100

PANAMA CANAL

PANAMA CANAL

In today’s culture of dependency, it is hard to remember a time not so long ago when a visionary idea no matter how difficult, time consuming, or potentially immensely risky, was seen as a genetic characteristic of our civilization.   For thousands of years until the nineteenth century, the progressively discoverable world was available at the speed by which a man could walk or run, or horse could be ridden, or a sail could push a boat by a fickle wind or current.   A world so vast, that a day’s voyage could be arduous simply within the limits of a man’s sight, and the idea that one could know the world through personal experience seemed beyond  the scope of a man’s lifetime.

Yet, there seemed to be no shortage of individuals that would take on seemingly impossible and dangerous journeys to somehow reduce the globe to human conceptualization.  The ancient Polynesians using rafts to turn the Pacific Ocean into a highway between settlements.  Marco Polo traveling for twenty-four years and 15000 miles along the Silk Road to the Forbidden Kingdom and back, to document a civilization superior to his own and open up a trade revolution that changed his home forever. And 500 years ago, Ferdinand Magellan pointing his ships west rather than east to develop a sea route for trade that ended three years later as a 24000 mile voyage that circumnavigated the globe.

Especially poignant is Magellan, for he did not live to see the fruits of his great achievement, having died two-thirds upon the way of his massive voyage, massacred on a remote Philippine Island at the hands of an angry chieftain’s warriors who took umbrage at his desire to play favorites and Christianize those he preferentially selected.  In fact, of the 230 or so intrepid voyagers who accompanied Magellan on his epic journey, only 18 managed to circumnavigate and three years later return safely to their point of departure in Spain. These explorers were however to make Magellan immortally famous in their careful records they took of the voyage, so meticulous that they determined they landed one day younger than the number of sunrises and sunsets that had been catalogued since they had left, the first humans to document time travel, associated with traveling against the world’s rotation.

Magellan achieved many identified firsts, but it was certainly not his intension to take the longest possible route to East Asia.  He  rather hoped for a shorter rout traveling west to east then was at that time required to sail around the Cape of Good Hope and across the Indian Ocean. His desire for potentially  shortened sea routes led him to avoid the rumored foul weather and dangerous waters of Cape Horn, at the southernmost tip of South America, instead navigating and ultimately discovering the Straits of Magellan, at the northern most aspect of the Tierra del Fuego, thus cutting several hundred miles off the voyage compared to around the Cape Horn. Through the straights he named the new ocean he encountered the Pacific, or ‘peaceful’, for it’s apparently placid waters as compared to the tumultuous Atlantic.  The short cut was nice, but the travel west from Atlantic to Pacific around south America still required an 8000 mile journey, and certainly represented no bargain for traders in regard to time or risk who wished to go to the East Indies or China.

You might wonder how all this Magellan business leads us to the Panama Canal. Well, I’m getting there.  You see, Magellan was not the first to recognize the new ocean, the Pacific.  That honor went to Vasco Balboa,  who in 1513 crossed the Isthmus of Panama and became the first European to view the western Pacific, suggesting a path thousands of miles shorter than Magellan’s circuitous route.  But nobody got efficiently rich transporting goods across scores of miles of mountainous jungle (at least until the Conquistadores discovered native slave labor) simply to reload then in a boat.  No, fortunes were made filling the massive cargo hulls of sailing ships and bring the goods home in one  watery trip, making even the thousands of extra miles of the Cape Horn trip more viable than cross country.

Balboa’s vision of a shortcut across the Isthmus travelled the centuries unrequited until the machine power of the nineteenth century began to make the idea of a canal more than a pipe dream. The Europeans were still the initial visionary force behind the dream of a canal and the French got the farthest, developing a canal company  that beginning in 1881 spent the next nine years on a tragic and fruitless effort to tame the 48 miles of mountainous jungle that separated the two bodies of water. Nine years later, having lost 22,000 workers to tropical diseases such as yellow fever and malaria, and having sunk the investments of 800,000 French investors, the effort was abandoned.

The canal idea was not too big, however, for the bountiful new world republic to the north. Despite having connected the continent by rail in an equally spectacular engineering achievement, goods and services were infinitely too expensive to travel by rail from New York to San Francisco, taking instead the ultimately cheaper, but daunting sea trip around the Cape Horn that would take months.  The United States, in the midst of a boundless can do spirit occasioned by becoming the world’s biggest economy at the beginning of the twentieth century, saw the opportunity of the canal, and the power that  would go to the country who ran it, too valuable to not take up the epic challenge.  The United States engaged in some very dubious politics,  positioned itself as the overlord of the vision and never doubted for a minute its ability to get the job completed.

The final vision came in the form of Theodore Roosevelt, a president who saw the future of the United States as a world power, and focused the immense energy and economy of his country on the huge project. From 1904 to 1914, the United States through its Army Corps of Engineers ,spent some 8.6 billion dollars in today’s  money, used some of the world’s

The Earthmovers of the Big Dig 1904-14

The Earthmovers of the Big Ditch 1904-14

first bulldozers and earth movers to blast and sculpt its way through the Panama wilderness, moving over a 152 million cubic meters of excavated earth, losing 5600 workers to the same diseases that plagued the French, and creating the world’s most spectacular set of locks and dams that continue to function today in magnificent fashion.  The locks still make possible for some of the biggest ships in the world  to traverse huge quantities of goods from sea level up over the

The Locks Solution to the elevations of Panama

The Locks Solution to the elevations of Panama

mountains and back to sea level without ever unloading a crate off a ship.  The 48 miles of beautiful locks and transporting tug trains make possible the movement of billions of dollars of goods across the Isthmus each year and reduced the epic path of Magellan from 800o miles to 48 miles and the time from months around South America to just 20 hours.

The Path Between the Seas-   PANAMA's CANAL

The Path Between the Seas- PANAMA’s CANAL

The nefarious politics that ultimately gave the United States the rights to build the canal and ultimately run the Canal Zone, and the just as uncomfortable politics that lead to the canal hesitatingly being turned over to Panama ultimately in 1999, can not take away from the incredible achievement that incredibly connected two oceans.  The 150,000 dollar fee for traversing the canal is worth every penny for the ships filled with the hugely profitable trade goods  that magnify Magellan’s dream a million times over.

August 14, 2014 was the 100 year anniversary of the opening of the canal, and the world has benefited greatly from the daring of a young nation that naively felt that it was chosen to do great things, and somehow got them done.  It would do us well to remember the civilization we are so quick to blame for every inequity was once the natural spring of  visionaries that conquered the Silk Road, circumnavigated the globe, made distance our servant, and took the impossible, and made it happen.

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Barbarians at the Gates

ISIS deals with prisoner of war issues in Iraq - AFP Photo

ISIS deals with prisoner of war issues in Iraq – AFP Photo

To comprehend events, one must be willing to descend into the faint mists of time and history to possibly understand the here and now.  The boundaries that define the modern country of Iraq are artificial drawings on a map that simplify a maelstrom of historical peoples, events, and passions that are the basest contributors to the whole known human story.  The fertile crescent of land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers has been the birthplace of great empires and religions, and perhaps the most contested real estate on the planet.  At the northern edge is noted to be the birthplace of man as a creature of record. Some three thousand years before Christ the tribes of the region founded the worlds first recognized governmental structure, the Semitic kingdom of Semites and Sumerians known as Akkadia, soon divided into Assyria and Babylonia. It is said that the Assyrian Semite Abraham traveled out of Assyria around 1800 BC to eventually become the father to the Hebrew peoples. By the tenth century BC, Assyria may have comprised the largest empire in then known world and provided the legacy of one of the great core language structures, Aramaic, influencing people from northeast Africa to central Asia.  The Assyrian people became  important contributors to the expansionist Greek empire culture and subsequently were influenced to assume many of the philosophic constants of the Greeks, in many cases becoming early Christians as did their Greek counterparts in the first through third centuries AD.

With the arab Islamic conquest of Mesopotamia in the seventh century, the centuries long process of this ancient culture having to subordinate and assimilate while trying to preserve its identity began.  Through Islamic pogroms and Mongol invasions, Ottoman overseers, British protectorates and Baathist dictators, the identity of the ancient Assyrian culture managed to survive.

Until now.

The city of Bakhdida, also known as Qaraqosh, is the home of the Assyrian Christian population of Iraq and the gateway to Kurdistan.  With a population of 50,000, it represents one of the last congregations of Christian influence in Mesopotamia and its existence as such is an anathema to a virulent strain of Islamic puritans known as ISIS.  On friday, August 8th, Bakhdida became the latest city to be overrun by the ISIS horde and the consequences to an entire people who profess a different fate are dire.  With tens of thousands of Christians fleeing the genocidal sickness that is the ISIS modus operandi, President Obama finally determined to take action in some form to address his administration’s developing Rwanda event. It was not the fate of the Christians or their Kurdish or Shia muslim brethren that stirred him so much as the plight of the Yazidis, a small sect connected to the ancient Zoroastrian faith of monotheism that precedes Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.  ISIS forces have forced them into the mountains with the intent of starving them to death, or killing them in place, whatever opportunity presents.  For the ISIS  adherents, this is the holy work that should have been done centuries ago.

The western world has always struggled to get too upset about genocidal outrages against Jews and Yazidis, but Christians?  That used to be another matter.  There is no Richard the Lionheart to lead a Crusade, likely not even a George Bush the Earnest.  The post-Christian western world does not connect well with the outrages committed by Islamic extremists, whether it is the lunatic fringe Boko Haram in Nigeria slaughtering entire villages of Christians and trafficking in human slavery, or ISIS with its religious cleansing fury in Iraq. Christian outrage and responding to attacks is so Seventeenth century.

But ISIS is working in the seventh century and doesn’t give a flip to modern mores.  Having stunned most of Iraq, conquering oil fields and water supplies, drowning in money from bank robberies and sympathetic fat cat Wahabiast poseurs from the Arabian peninsula, and in possession of millions of dollars of sophisticated weapons abandoned by the Potemkin Village Iraqi national army as it fled,  ISIS is a Tamerlane disciple of the twenty-first century, with the will to kill who doesn’t submit.  The map shows an effective reality on the ground that suggests they are succeeding in their vision:

ISIS in Mesopotamia - CNN maps

ISIS in Mesopotamia – CNN maps

So the President of the United States finally acted. Not to save Christians or Iraqis.  That would have required previous strategic thinkings and actions.  No, the action is to prevent current genocide against the Yazidis, certainly deserving, but no more deserving than any of the other hundreds of thousands already crushed under the foot of the marauding 7th century jihadists.  President Obama thinks he can pick and choose his genocides he determines to intervene upon.  I suspect ISIS and Boko Haram will give him plenty of choices from which to choose.

What is there to do in this inevitable world calamity approaching?  It is frankly too late to recognize what would have been the easiest solution in Iraq.   President Obama’s political trump card was the withdrawal from Iraq no matter what the consequences, when twenty-thousand in country troops would have likely prevented this travesty.  Imagine you are the warden of a prison filled with 500 dangerous characters and innocents alike.  With just 20 guards providing organized control, you can maintain the security of the prison and keep the most dangerous inmates from killing you, or each other.  The previous warden gave you after much effort a stable place, with effective control.  But you are a much smarter warden, who believes the previous warden was a doofus, and should not have been allowed to have made warden decisions in the first place that did not sit with your world gestalt.  You therefore instead announce you are pulling all the guards, opening all the prison cell doors, and putting the kitchen staff in charge of negotiating with the prisoners.  Its pretty easy to predict what will happen, unless apparently you are President Obama.  Now, if you want to contain the violence, restore the security, and protect the innocent,  it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than twenty guards to achieve a renewed stability and civility.  And a lot of people are going to pay a very grave penalty for your naiveté.

What to do with a modern world that would like to believe we have grown beyond the barbarians that defined our human past-the Tamerlanes, Attilas, Genghis Khans, and Hitlers – that would create a single vision of humanity on the slaughter of nonbelievers? The Assyrians of Bakhdida would like to know soon, and hope its more than a few food packages and pinpricks.  But if the western world cannot decide this is serious business, don’t worry.  We may soon get first hand knowledge of what the Assyrians of Bakhdida are up against, at a location much closer to home.

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Claude Debussy and the Prism of Life

Seascape near Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, 1888 Vincent Van Gogh

Seascape near Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, 1888
Vincent Van Gogh

Until the seventeenth century, light was accepted as a force of illumination, colorless and devoid of structure, the essential device by which God brought life from a formless void.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  And God said Let there be Light. And there was Light. And God saw the light, that it was good. And God separated light from the darkness.                                                            Genesis 1:  1-4  

Then Isaac Newton came along, and revealed that colorless light was actually a complex spectrum of many colors, the beams made of heretofore unknown constituent particles that disassembled by the prism could be easily reassembled. The understanding of the world and its realities were forever changed.  With the microscope, the wonders of microscopic life, with the telescope, the celestial heavens comprised of so much more than the visible known.

This new understanding, that the miracle of nature and life was not for simple interpretation but for complex experience of the seen and the unseen, the heard and the sensed, inevitably established itself as a device by which the artist and musician , as interpreters of the two most visceral senses, expanded their creative forces to interact with man’s ultimate tool of expression, his imagination.

The 19th century was period of the most intense experimentation in these concepts, with the end of the century achieving the synthesis of this ideas in a merged artistic school known broadly as Impressionism.  The goal of the impressionists, whether in writing , art, or music was to achieve a projection of the essence of a subject, rather than a description of it.  Paintings fragmented or blended light, removed both clarity and shadows, brought an ethereal sense of place without specifically demanding accuracy from it. To look at the same haystack at three different times of day or two different seasons changed entirely the essence of it, and the feelings it emoted.  The power of this human impulse to interpret the natural world this way was most developed in France, linearly from Manet to Monet to Renoir to Van Gogh and beyond.

A parallel track was occurring in music, initiating with Berlioz and the Russian Five developing the telescopic power of the modern symphony through Wagner and his symbolic use of sound through motifs, but the back to France to join the painters and authors, through the most original stylings of a very unique genius, Claude Debussy.

Claude Debussy was born in the town of Saint Germaine in countryside near Paris in August 1862, just before Manet’s Luncheon in the Grass was revealed to Paris in an exhibition highlighting the first transitions from realism to something altogether more evocative.  Debussy’s family was driven from Paris by the crisis of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, and moved to Cannes, where his musical talents were discovered and allowed to flourish under a diverse set of colorful instructors, that appealed to his contrarian and bohemian genetics.  Artistic education for talented people propelled through France’s Academe, where the principles of classical art and music were rigorously enforced.  Debussy like all scoundrel talented youths from time immemorial had no patience for the judgements of accredited types, and sought his own muse almost immediately.  He was never a fan of the concept of Impressionism as it was then understood, but preferred the symbolic aspects devised by Wagner, while repelled by its bombastic Germanic expression.    He was drawn more to the world of the microscope than the telescope, relating to more intimate expressions and internalized emotions, consistent with other avant-garde composers like Satie.

Debussy reduced the experience of music to its essence, but he was not averse to beauty.  For him the natural world was so inherently beautiful that even discordant voices and cords could be, like the prism, used to emote a unified whole that was spiritual by his definition.  And beauty was for him the most primordial expression of the senses.  It flows like its own force from the tone poems of Images,Iberia,  and La Mer to the crystal glass intimacy of Clair du Lune, Reverie, and l’apres-midi d’un Faune.  The music soars and dives, roles and ripples, like light through leaves or wind through a screen.  It is tactile and physical, but does not exist in the conscious emotions of passions or anger.  This is  the serenity of the natural world on the floating mind, clouds between storms and waves driven by the eternal tides.  Expressing like JMW Turner, we are left to feel the boat on the ocean, or is it only a cloud, though it matters not because it is after all, the essence of the sea.

Debussy produced volumes of work that ushered in other great composers like Ravel, and contributed side by side with contemporaries like Stravinsky.  He unfortunately lived long enough to see the realities of the mechanized world destroy the intimacies of the old innocence with the brutal forces unleashed by World War I, another August anniversary of note.  The faintly discordant sonorities of Debussy were soon over taken by the cold  post industrial mathematical expressions of Berg, Schoenberg, and Webern.  The prismatic quality of Debussy was no longer capable of being reassembled as a unified expression linked by beauty.  The immense calamity of World War I and its effect on the psyches of both artist and audience alike saw to that.

But then, nobody is meditating to Schoenberg, or rocking their baby to sleep with Webern.  The innate stimulus of a special human place in the brain is Debussy’s gift to us, and like the prism, separates and re-assembles the world into a unified beautiful whole we long for in our daily lives, when the real world gets to be just a little too much.  Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the fateful declaration of war of Great Britain against Germany, exploding the conflict in the center of the continent into a world war, and changing the individual intimate world Debussy created for us forever.  The better memory will always be the gift of Debussy’s prisms of life.

And God said, let there be Light. And there was light.  And God saw the light,  that it was good.


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Just Being There

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

With the continuing dismal news proliferating daily that would unsettle the most secure supporter of the President of the United States, President Obama continues to see his role as the one time assumed leader of the “free” world as that of a disinterested bystander.  The log of upsetting events propels unabated …

Fragile and timid Iraqi forces struggle to mount any kind of cohesive response to the aggressive radical forces of the ISIS terrorist network attempting to establish a caliphate.  Syria continues in armageddon spiral downward in a battle of primitive and ruthless wills of the government and those same ISIS forces with an entire country’s population at their mercy.  A catastrophic collapse of organized government in Libya is in its death throws against hordes of radical cells unleashed by America’s extraordinarily incompetent decision to overthrow Libya’s dictator with absolutely no strategic plan to inject in case of success.  Israel and Hamas are treated diplomatically as equals in a battle for survival for the middle East’s only true democracy, facing a foe that uses women and children as human shields.  Russia lops of an independent country’s sovereign land in Crimea, funds and supplies with sophisticated weaponry a group of thugs led by Russian intelligence officers to destabilize the rest  of the country, then haughtily stands by as these same thugs shoot a civilian airliner out of the sky with 300 innocents aboard.

At home, tens of thousands of illegal immigrants pour across the nation’s sovereign border destabilizing the local economies, the health care facilities, and destroying the concept of a nation’s sovereignty.  The economy groans under the weight of trillion dollar deficits.  Government agencies designed to be impartial, function as the enforcement arm of a marauding government looking to instill its socialist  political philosophy on its citizens.  Even supporters of the President stand in anxious concern as the issue after issue piles on the impassive executive, putting to risk their electoral survival in November.

Yet the passivity continues.  The golf outings.  The vacation to the Vineyard.  The fundraisers with star elites.

For the intelligent and the logical,  the trail of disasters with no reaction is no longer explainable by incompetence.  There is the desire to attempt to conceive an overarching plan or strategic concept at work, to attempt to define how an apparently intelligent man could be standing by so idly while all around him collapses.  Charles Krauthammer, the insightful Washington Post columnist has convinced himself there is a method to the madness:

The preferred explanation for the president’s detachment is psychological. He’s checked out. Given up. Let down and disappointed by the world, he is in withdrawal.

Perhaps. But I’d propose an alternate theory that gives him more credit: Obama’s passivity stems from an idea. When Obama says Putin has placed himself on the wrong side of history in Ukraine, he actually believes it. He disdains realpolitik because he believes that, in the end, such primitive 19th-century notions as conquest are self-defeating. History sees to their defeat.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” is one of Obama’s favorite sayings. Ultimately, injustice and aggression don’t pay. The Soviets saw their 20th-century empire dissolve. More proximally, U.S. gains in Iraq and Afghanistan were, in time, liquidated. Ozymandias lies forever buried and forgotten in desert sands.

If you believe this, then there is no need for forceful, potentially risky U.S. counteractions. Which explains everything since: Obama’s pinprick sanctions; his failure to rally a craven Europe; his refusal to supply Ukraine with the weapons it has been begging for.

The shooting down of a civilian airliner seemed to validate Obama’s passivity. “Violence and conflict inevitably lead to unforeseen consequences,” explained Obama. See. You play with fire, it will blow up in your face. Just as I warned. Now world opinion will turn against Putin.

For most in our nation’s capital, it is important to find a rational basis for actions that seem so divorced from reality.  The nation has assumed a level of elevated intelligence in the man that would be a nation’s transformer, its savior – as declared in the triumphal exuberance of the reports of Obama’s prowess when elected.  The smartest chief executive ever.  A brilliant multidimensional thinker who puts to shame the minor intellects opposing his programs.  An international savant who sees with clarity the flaws of past administrations and will lead the world to a cleaner, safer, more tolerant and civilized place.

But what did we really know of this man?  A college and law school grad upon which no records of assessment have ever been released.  A community organizer trained at the feet of some of the most radical elements of American dissonance.  A single term state senator who rarely registered a vote of conscience.  A U.S. Senator who didn’t complete a single term.

What was the preparation or training for this individual who desires to overthrow all the tenets of a carefully constructed relationship of a government with its people, a world with its stabilizers.  What was the actual level of intellect, the depth of understanding of this individual.

In 1979 Peter Sellers projected onto the cinema screen a epic character named Chauncey Gardner who projects through his simple opacity and feebleness anything a person wants to see in him.  He becomes a mirror for all who want to see great depth in his thoughts, and are embarrassed to admit they don’t see what others see in Chauncey.  Perhaps this president is simply Chauncey Gardner, who is leading this nation as a mirror of what everyone hoped they had elected,  the savior of the human race and a great nation twisted upon itself.  To Chauncey his goals are simple.  He wants to tend to his garden, and help things grow.  The caos we are living through may not be the carefully laid radical solutions of a master politician, but maybe just a nation’s gardner who sees his role as just Being There.

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America and Obama’s Coming Certain Utopia

The United States as a Republic - R.I.P.

The United States as a Republic – R.I.P.

Our nation’s 238th birthday took place on the 4th of July and corresponded with Ramparts of Civilization’s 4th birthday, also born on the Fourth of July as a celebration of and defender for the accomplishments of that great day so many years ago, and the many other examples of similar greatness throughout the long and compelling story of western civilization.  July 4th, 1776 held one of the most treasured places in the pantheon of western civilization’s accomplishments, in its bold recognition of the individual as primary to the story,  rulers as a servant to the people, and not the other way around.  The Declaration of Independence proclaimed that all men as a right of their birth, are created equal and by their existence as equal men, maintain unalienable rights, that of life, liberty, and their individual pursuit of happiness.   It declared that government existed to preserve these rights and was instituted among people, deriving its powers from the consent of the governed.

The revolutionary words stimulated the passions of an extraordinary generation of people, and by 1789, had achieved the miracle of a constitution designed on those principles, and a series of carefully lain limitations and balances to maintain them.   Through the wrenching pain of a civil war, the sins toward an indigenous culture, the stain of a hypocritical enslavement of a race of people born under the same protections, the calamitous world of market crashes and the impact of two massive world wars, the founding documents preserved a means of governance that led to the freeist, most prosperous society on earth.  The United States was a beacon to those who came from environments with less or no respect for those unalienable rights, and flourished as the singular example of what was possible when a person’s talents are freed and left to their own devices.  The United States became not only the most desired, but the most powerful country on earth, an accomplishment achieved through the power of words and a people’s respect for their meaning.

It devised a council of elective representatives that would create a nation of laws, a judiciary that would ejudicate them and an executive that would see the laws were faithfully executed.  The Chief Executive was asked to swear a specific oath:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States

The key concept of the Chief Executive was that of the defender of the Constitution, that he would seek election to that critical post to help lead the nation towards a future in the Constitution’s image, not his own image.

On November 4th, 2008, the nation elected someone who presented themselves as a Constitutional scholar, and on January 20th, 2009, swore the very oath above as the 44th President of the United States.

And that was pretty much the last time the Constitution was basis for any consideration of this particular man, Barack Obama.  The first hint of this individual’s determination to not to uphold, but overturn the carefully constructed checks and balances that had brought the country such prosperity, was illuminated five days before his first election as President in October 2008:

And he meant it.  To him transformation meant the necessary destruction of that which came before him. Facing a recession caused by a fiscal crisis, he ignored the multiple previous examples of successful resolution of recessions by removing the hand of government upon the economy through tax cuts and relief from regulation, and went instead for a boundless stimulus spending process, that significantly lengthened the recession and injected into government a massive increase in size that all but doomed any future ability to achieve budgetary control.  When budgets were suggested to control the out of control spending, he ignored the concept of presenting a budget altogether.  In the 232 years of governance  and 43 Presidents before him the nation had incurred a 10.6 trillion dollar deficit.  In the six years he has been in office he has almost doubled the deficit and will have expanded it 2 1/2 times, to 22 Trillion dollars when he leaves office.  He achieved the largest grab of governmental control over the private economy in history when Obamacare was enacted in 2011 without a single opposition vote of support, then rather than enforce it as law of the land, has amended it  without any legal basis over twenty times to fit his purposes.

When he was unable to persuade the opposition or even at times his own party in regard to so called immigration reform or global warning legislation, he simply went over their heads by injecting regulations not based on any law, and ignored laws that were already there.  If the voting population could not be persuaded his ideas were sufficiently mainstream, he determined to change the make-up of the voting population, allowing hundreds of thousands to illegally enter the country, ignoring the laws of border security he had sworn to uphold, precariously putting his country’s whole southern border at risk to calamity, disease, and crime, as well as forever changing the voting demographics to something more of his liking.

He entered people’s private property through increased power of the NSA, the corruption of the IRS, and awesome power of his regulatory commissions to reek havoc.  He turned the power of the IRS on citizens who had differing views then his and sought to destroy them, He sent his minions from ACORN to corrupt voting processes and secure voting assurance for his desire to transform.  He promoted class warfare to hide his failures, and promote the innate power achieved in securing a dependent population to the whims of government control.

He purposefully undercut the painfully won strategy to secure Iraq for the simple concept of proving his notion that the previous administrations’ policy were wrong, and he was willing to waste the sacrifice of over 4000 American deaths and countless casualties to prove it by withdrawing all military support from the shakiest of new democracies, surrounded by ravenous neighbors.  He may have illegally supplied weapons to the most dangerous of opponents to the Assad regime in Syria, sacrificing the life of his Libyan ambassador to prevent exposure of the arms process, ultimately arming the very insurgents who have declared a caliphate in Syria and Iraq and threaten to destabilize the entire middle east. He destabilized governments in Libya and Egypt, supported long term sworn enemies of American policy in the Middle East.  He slashed the military at the very time when the nation’s position and influence was growing more perilous by his actions, securing for Russia and China more aggressive policies toward their neighbors, and in Russia’s case, allowing the largest baldfaced land grab since World War II, in Russia’s consumption of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

Obama institutionalized a pattern of behavior more fitting of a despot than an elected leader in his desire to “transform”.  He envisions a certain utopia from his actions, an America radically transformed into a socialist democracy fundamentally ruled by one party, with a bounty secured to a progressively dependent population obtained from a steadily diminishing group of producers, the majority fed by continuous immigration with promises of access to the bounty, a financial indebtedness that will remove America forever as the securer of the world’s free trade and markets, and an emasculated military that will prevent any influence on the more dangerous developments in world events, leaving her vulnerable within her own borders.  The concept of a series of checks and balances that would prevent this utopia are anathema to him, and he is gambling on the country’s unwillingness to call him to account for his actions, until they are irreversible. To him its all so obvious, and reasonable.  If the checks and balances of the system require him to persuade, and he can not, he will need to simply do “something” – He will do what he wants – its Economic Patriotism:

When we look up in 2016, we will see the ruins of a republic and lament its passing.  Like all great national efforts before it,  America’s own hubris brought to the position of power its own poison pill, and we swallowed it in 2008.

‘Preserve, Protect, Defend the Constitution’ will be actually our own epitaph, for by standing by passively helpless while this individual remade the country, whose founding principles he hates, in his own image, we cemented our own demise.

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