A Sorry State of Affairs

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

What a week it has been.

In the past week, the IRS, the agency dedicated to holding accountable hundreds of millions of Americans to maintain precise records to defend their economic interactions and responsibility to proffer taxable income, admitted that somehow more then two years of emails sent by Lois Lerner beginning in the critical pre-election year of 2011 were somehow lost when her computer crashed and can not be recovered.  In an unrelated event, hundreds of marauding commandos of an islamist terrorist sect, ISIS, a group so violent and uncontrolled  Al Qaeda has disavowed supervisory influence, slammed across western Iraq and took control of Mosul Iraq’s second largest city, and a third of Iraq’s sovereign territory, driving tens of thousands of fleeing and deserting Iraq army soldiers before them.

What could the potentially criminal actions of a government agency and a sunni-shia conflict that has been fulminating for hundreds of years  possibly have in common?  The connecting word? -Catastrophe.  The connecting meme? – a Catastrophic Presidency.

Try as one might to seek a reasonable explanation for an individual’s self destructive and wanton behavior, families are often aghast as to their lack of influence with their wayward relations, and helpless in the face of their destructive spiral downward.   What to do, when it’s the President of a country, and the destructive behavior will potentially take a whole country down with him.

The coalescence of catastrophe around domestic and foreign policy decisions made by this President are not a surprise to those who have experienced the process in their own families.  The usual signs of spiraling self destruction are there.  The flaunting of laws and modes of behavior as if norms apply only to other people.  The blaming of others for outcomes that were uniquely created by the individual’s own action or inaction.  The cloying need for unconditional acceptance for their actions as indicators of their right to act anyway they want to, and be rewarded nevertheless.

The one stabilizing force in Obama’s first administration was at least there were a few adults in the room at times to corral his baser instincts.  Now?…not so much.  There is no William Gates, General Petraeus, Leon Panetta, or even Raul Emmanuel to at least form an argument on a subject.  Surrounded with failed Presidential hopefuls and syncophants, the President is finally the smartest man in the room and that’s apparently not saying much.

There is no one to stop him from claiming there is not “smidgen of evidence” of criminal behavior in an IRS scandal that has not even been investigated and already shows enormous signs of criminal obstruction at the highest levels.  There is no sage voice preventing him from again from sending his stooge ‘National Security Advisor’ Susan Rice out to spout completely unsupported tripe regarding his trade of 5 Taliban terrorist critical generals for a disserting private turned sergeant.  There is no available wise man present to keep him from trading his personal integrity time and  time again for convenient short term political spin.

No conceivable pattern of awareness or understanding is present in decisions to abandon unilaterally hard won victories in Iraq and Afghanistan, allow Russia and China to flaunt America’s helplessness to the countries that have counted on us for support, or secure America’s energy infrastructure on the altar of global warning lunacy.  No sequence of logic is present to solve the country’s immigration dilemma of millions of unsupportable illegal residents by the active opening the gates to millions more.

Like a clueless alcoholic on a binge, the pattern of behavior from the IRS to the NSA, Benghazi to Baghdad, Venezuela to Iran,  illegal immigration to ignoring illegal behavior in his own agencies, the fawning over enemies and the humiliation of friends, the President has determined to turn a deaf ear to any rational disagreement or warning as to the consequences of his actions.

We are all aghast at the deafness to our concerns, the tin ear to those who would try to prevent further calamitous actions.  America, your President is not listening because he cares not what you say or believe in. Its about him.

What a sorry, sorry state of affairs.

 

 

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A Close Run Thing

D Day Omaha Beach June 6, 1944

D Day Omaha Beach June 6, 1944

In his later years, the 1st Duke of Wellington, Field Marshall Arthur Wellesley, celebrated as the pre-eminent hero of final defeat of Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo and subsequently twice the Prime Minister of Great Britain, would have been forgiven a glossy remembrance of his greatest victory. Asked, however, of his impression of the moment at Waterloo that cemented his martial immortality, he stated:

” It has been a damned serious business.  It has been a damned nice thing – the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.”

The Duke’s statement has been modernized into reminding us that nice in 1815 vernacular referred to as “uncertain” – the quote has become “a close run thing”.  Wellesley recognized something profound that exists when enormous forces of history come together in a specific time and confined location – the outcome is nothing short of profound and completely at the mercy of fate.  No matter how intense or brilliant the planning, no matter how careful the preparation of the resources and talent, the final struggle is between immense forces of equal indomitable will, and the outcome more often than not resides in the unpredictable synthesis of  execution, weather, individual responses to enormous stress and out and out luck.

Wellesley could have been describing the amazing accomplishment of D- Day, June 6th, 1944, and the successful invasion of the continent of Europe by the liberating allied forces initiated on that day. The seventieth anniversary  of D-Day has just been marked at Normandy with the usual cocktail of a Presidential soliloquy and the celebration of the rapidly diminishing band of participants in that fateful day.   The eighteen and nineteen year old boys that were asked to commit to the beach that day as the youngest members of the invasion force are now the frail old survivors in their  late eighties.  A president born far after their day of sacrifice is asked to synthesize the forces and emotions of that day into a recognizable tome.  We are reaching the last of the ‘decade’ remembrances of D- Day, as the final group of participants will likely be gone, or unable to travel, to the next.  The political leaders are using the event as usual to promote their ‘appreciation’ of history, the righteousness of the cause, and the clarity that time has provided that the right side would inevitably win.

The truth is, it was a very close run thing.

The reality facing the allied nations in June of 1944, was that Nazi Germany was anything but a spent force.  The allied challenge was to be able to establish immediately an army in force that could stably secure a position in Europe and could resist and ultimately dislodge a fully equipped mechanized and highly experienced fascist army that had spent several years in unimpeded planning and construction of an impenetrable west wall of defense. As has been recognized over time, Plan A was the full injection of material, men and will on the beaches of Normandy, and Plan B was – there was no Plan B.  Men can be brave beyond comprehension, plans creative and comprehensive, but ultimately a small force briefly securing a beachhead would have no ability to resist a counterblow of superior forces, artillery and devastating tanks properly dispensed.

The loss of the armies of Normandy and the irreplaceable supplies and force commitment that went with it, would have had a devastating effect on the effort to defeat Nazi Germany. The loss would have been the end of Great Britain’s land army capacity, the political collapse of the ‘unconditional surrender’ strategy of Churchill and Roosevelt, and the potential stagnation of Stalin’s ability to determine the destiny of his eastern battle against a now unimpeded Germany. A massive victory for a staggering Germany would have allowed her the time necessary for implementation of the jet engine into her airforce, reversing the allied air superiority, ending the bombing campaigns, and securing the safety of her rocket weapons to destroy her opponent civilizations.

Plan A required a one day achievement of the landing of 160,000 men amphibiously with flanks secured, and the immediate establishment of harbors that would permit force multipliers, artillery and tanks,  a million men disembarked and supplied, all before the enemy could sufficiently react. Never before tried on such an awesome scale, at the complete mercy of favorable tides and the weather, and requiring of complete surprise and secrecy while preparing and training a million man force who would have to executive a plan with success with no foreknowledge of the date or the place, the most complex battle plan in history relied on the call of a single meteorologist.  At a time without weather satellites or computers, Captain James Stagg managed to come up with the most accurate and critical weather forecast in history, that prevented the armada from being swept away in a gale on June 4th-5th, and predicted a 24 hour window for relatively calm seas on June5th-6th, sufficient to provide a landing zone capacity.  General Eisenhower hinged his decision on the forecast, delayed D-Day on the night of the 4th, and gave the go on the night of the 5th, and secured a fate different then that of the Spanish Armada in the English Channel in 1588, a successful amphibious landing.  The German weather forecast did not see the brief window of stable weather Captain Stagg saw, and believing the weather too foul to allow a complex operation, the man most responsible for German’s Fortress Europe west wall defense headed home to Germany to visit with his family.  On the morning of the 6th, the one man that could have redirected Germany’s panzer tanks to repel the invasion was far from the field of battle.

D Day Normandy June 6th 1944

Plan A could not afford any exposure of flanks.  All five beaches had to be surmounted or the gaps would have allowed crushing of the fragile force.  Omaha Beach was the linchpin, and 6 hours after the first wave, the water was littered with hundreds of bodies and the invasion force was only feet into France, pinned disastrously against a seawall under murderous fire, not the several miles inland required.  General Bradley, the American directly responsible for the American army force, considered the possibility of withdrawal, as it appeared an epic defeat was eminent.  It came down to the individual man, who determined the water behind him was more certain death than the cliffs in front, that finally penetrated the murderous fire raining down and found the way off the beach.  Thousands of boys and men died, pushing out of the water onto land, and thousands of men and boys died for the defenders equally determined to push them off.  It was a close run thing on Omaha, and nobody there on that day will ever forget the terror.

Plan A required a level of secrecy and subterfuge of an almost metaphysical level to succeed. The ability to move an awesome force across open waters to a location surprised to see what had been predicted and prepared for by the enemy  for two years defies understanding in our current world of satellites, Google maps, and instant communication. Maintaining the  secret of a million man force, with spies all around, incredibly complex planning required, and multiple opportunities for slipping up defies belief.  Yet the secret was maintained so well and the confusion as to the allies real intentions so spectacularly sold to the enemy, that even days after the invasion took place, German Central Command and Hitler himself was sure that the Normandy invasion was a feint and the real invasion would come by Calais.  Entire false armies, errant bombing, parachuted dummies, even false orders on dead bodies produced an epic magic trick distraction that worked to perfection and provided the precise delay in response required for success.

It was a close run thing. The world of a thousand years of darkness enforced by perverted science envisioned by Churchill if the Nazis were to succeed was not an incalculable outcome of the struggle on the beaches of Normandy on June 6th, 1944.  9000 graves in the Normandy cemeteries mark the final resting places of young people who placed themselves in the violent vortex of history and did not live to see their sacrifice achieve the destiny they hoped to see to fruition.  The freedoms we so casually take for granted and carelessly toss aside to any bureaucracy that lives to take them, were on the final breaths of every participant in the epic struggle of that far ago day.

Soon the men who personally viewed, participated and fought in the awesome spectacle that was D Day will be no more. That is of course a requirement of our mortality and the endless onward journey of time itself. But the tipping point that so few moments in history truly evoke, is safe in the epic story of that distant day.  As would the Duke of Wellington, we tip our glass to fate, and admire her generosity to us. It is why we celebrate the battle at Waterloo and not the catastrophe at Ligny, and epic triumph of the amphibious landing at Normandy and not, in the face of failure at Normandy, lament the potential German invasion upon the beaches of Brighton and Portsmouth.  For all the men on June 6th, 1944 who soldiered and sacrificed to convince Fate, who the winner should be in history’s story, we again salute you.

 

 

 

 

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Doctrines and Legacies

President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton

President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton

Presidents of the United States from its inception have felt a pull to leave some form of recognizable imprint on the destiny of the country that would suggest a contribution worthy of the nation’s Olympian founders.  Since the end of World War II, this has been elevated by the nation’s position as the undisputed economic and military superpower in the world.  At its most identifiable, the policy considerations bear the vaunted label of the chief executive himself as the “architect” of the policy – the Truman Doctrine, the Kennedy Doctrine, the Nixon Doctrine, the Reagan Doctrine, the Bush Doctrine.  The establishment of a recognizable doctrine implies the formal intellectual understanding of the world’s various historical forces and the United States’ position within it.  It secures for the President his legacy – a measurable effect upon world history that will have legions of intellectuals debating the doctrine’s merits years after – a permanent accolade to the view of this individual as an effective and wise “leader”.

Last week, President Obama felt the need to use the commencement address at West Point Military Academy to try to put form to his foreign policy actions over the previous 51/2 years as President as a logical and consistent doctrine of international management that he hoped would cement a legacy of his time at the helm.  An Obama Doctrine, as it were.

The tenets of a doctrine tend to allow for a very contracted definition for what in each case was an extremely complex set of policies that drove the machine of the policy and the tremendous patience and investment in seeing it through:                                                        Truman Doctrine : Peace Through Containment                                                                   Kennedy Doctrine : Peace Through Competition of Ideas                                                      Nixon Doctrine : Peace Through Détente and Balance of Power                                            Reagan Doctrine: Peace Through Strength                                                                                Bush Doctrine: Peace Through Freedom as Universal Ideal

The evolution of a doctrine that holds merit is magnified by its survivorship over future administrations and its continuing logic in changing circumstances, but most profoundly by its ultimate success in accomplishing its goals.  The penultimate examples are Truman’s and Reagan’s Doctrines, which are effective bookends of the same strategic overview.  President Truman, burdened with the colossal responsibility of an entire continent in collapse as the detris of a crushing military conflict and facing the ominous reality of a megamilitary power in the Soviet Union with a antithical set of ideals as to a future world, saw presciently in an obscure State Department policist George Kennan a means to achieve peaceful containment sufficient for the time required for a free world to recover from its prostrate position juxtaposed to the Russian dominant force.  Kennan’s famous Long Telegram, published February, 1946, was a foundation on which a whole set of complex structures were laid – the Marshall Plan, NATO, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank – were developed under Truman’s clear headed understanding of how long the battle would take and what on what fields the battles would be fought.

For thirty years, Truman’s doctrine served to provide the United States the breathing time and protection it needed to avoid direct conflict until the time when the free world’s resources could be fully marshaled to secure a permanent result.  That occurred in 1980 with the election of President Reagan.  The Reagan Doctrine was natural outgrowth of the Truman process, though few recognized it as such in its time.  Reagan saw that containment has reached its evolutionary position where the enormous progress of democratic economies were in position to roll back the hegemony of the communist tyranny in the world.  ‘Peace Through Strength’ was the metaphor for the simultaneous release of the economic might of the free world, the advance of technologic innovation into the military force, and the exposure of the deficiencies of the communist world and the aspirations of its subjected populations.  In spectacular form, the combined tenets achieved in the life of the two terms of the Reagan Administration, the victory of this ‘cold war” strategy fruition in the collapse of Russian hegemony in Europe and the ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union itself in 1991.

What is to be made of President Obama’s attempt to define a ‘premeditated’ thinking to the American actions in an apparent series of passive and confoundingly self-defeating responses to one calamity after another on the world stage?  Is there a thinking process that secures a positive outcome in the parade of foreign policy apparent setbacks in the withdrawal of troops from a hard won victory in Iraq, the simultaneous surge and withdrawal strategy in Afghanistan, the red line declarations and subsequent lack of follow through in Syria, the appeasement strategy for nuclear weapon control with a autocratic Islamist regime in Iran, the aggressive military detachment of a functional government from Libya into the current dangerous  chaos that cost America a terror attack and loss of an Ambassador and that rules the Libyan people today?   What doctrine describes the dithering support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the demonization of the Mubarak and now Sisi regimes, the peripheral disappointment and minimal sanctions for a bald land grab of the Crimea by Russia, and the continuing whining regarding past American policies?

The doctrine of Obama as outlined in his West Point speech shows the reality that the ‘doctrine’ followed the disparate actions, and not the other way around.  The speech, a collection of verbosities and generous interpretations of outcomes, suggests the Obama Doctrine to be ‘Peace Through Controlled Decline’.  America must lead and when necessary militarily without asking anyone’s permission, but not”rushing into military adventures without thinking through the consequences, without building support or legitimacy for our actions“.  America must not be responsible for crises in the world that do not involve our direct national security interests, but “needs to energize the global effort to combat climate change, a creeping national security crisis that will help shape your time in uniform, as we are called on to respond to refugee flows and natural disasters, and conflicts over water and food, which is why, next year, I intend to make sure America is out front in putting together a global framework to preserve our planet.” The concept of American Exceptionalism is not a foreign concept to this President, simply a concept that has been misinterpreted by all the Presidents before him –  “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions.”  America must be prepared to face her enemies with complete resolve and where necessary military action and sacrifice but only with the near certainty of no collateral damage- ” But as I said last year, in taking direct action, we must uphold standards that reflect our values. That means taking strikes only when we face a continuing, imminent threat, and only where there is no certainty — there is near certainty of no civilian casualties, for our actions should meet a simple test: We must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield“.

Doctrines and Legacies often intertwine, but the more modern of our politicians progressively confuse that legacies are earned, not managed. The genetic flaw in President Obama’s makeup is his confusion of instinctual intelligence for the hard work of learned strategy.  It is depressingly clear every time this President opens his mouth of his alarming ignorance of history and events and his willingness to interpret every event as reflecting his need to insert his personal spin as the defining historical participant . Charles Krauthammer perceptively lays this out in his essay “Emptiness at West Point” which he states more than anything reflected the President’s increasing irrelevance and “smallness”.  In the process of “leading from behind” , the two most politically skinned leaders in American history in Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton have put America in potentially irreversible waters in five short years.  A circular Doctrine that sees contrary events as having been guided by the same unidentifiable plan has placed not only America, but the world, in a perceptively more dangerous place.  Now that is a legacy likely to leave a lasting impression.

 

 

 

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The Rise of the Nationalists

UKIP

On November 30th 2010, Ramparts of Civilization focused on an obscure, in your face politician representing Great Britain at the assembly of the European Union named Nigel Farage as People We Should Know #5, for his aggressive framing of the concepts liberty and national sovereignty in the temple of supra-national rule.

I don’t want to say I told you so, but…

This past week saw ascendance of Nigel Farage’s UKIP party in Great Britain’s local council elections that sent a shudder through the establishment parties and bewilderment from a media press that assumed ideas such as national sovereignty and personal freedom a relic of the past.  Farage’s party is positioned to change the discussion in a hurry.  His Britishcentric party is one of multitude of  similar movements that have blossomed in the United States and Europe.  The response of the establishment is aggressive and predictable, painting the movements as ‘Potemkin village’ parties hiding a dark racist streak and evil intent.  The spector of national socialism is blanketed over the liberal vision of the movements, ignoring the history of the marriage of racial politics and socialist central planning having coming directly from socialism’s fascistic genetics.

The triad of the resurgence of European nationalism is based on three anti’s:  anti-supra-nationalism, anti-tax, and anti-immigration.  From the Netherland’s Geert Wilders Freedom Party to Marine LePen’s National Front in France, local political strength is now starting to effect national politics that has the European Union taking notice.  Local nationalism in Switzerland, Finland, Hungary, and Austria are recognizably recruiting individuals from across society’s spectrum, while Greece’s Golden Dawn has more the shadowing of previous darker traditional European racial xenophobia. America’s Tea Party trails only in that it has yet to identify a unifying national spokesman for the movement.

Rise of Nationalist Parties Europe - BBCThe national parties each have a local inflection, but the response is to decades of progressive socialist trampling on the rights of individual entrepreneurship and expression, and the progressive superceding of democratic local corrective capacities.  Nigel Farage’s ascendance was initially tied to his disdain for the European Union’s arrogance in naming a “President of Europe” , the remarkably frumpy Belgian bureaucrat Herman Von Rompuy, who has secured that position for the past 5 years, accelerating the rule of Europe by fiat through regulation rather than local democratic debate.

Herman Von Rompuy

Herman Von Rompuy

In 782 AD, Charlemagne secured his rule over Europe by massacring 4500 Saxons at Verden who refused to bow to his edict to convert to Christianity and accept his rule.  Von Rompuy has achieved the same power through the massacre of considerably more than 4500 personal freedoms through his onerous regulations.  It is this central un-elected dictate that drives the national parties resurgence.  It is certainly more complicated than the liberal media’s desire to paint the movements as hatred of “other”.

The anti-immigration plank of these parties has left them open to the racism arguments, but the philosophical arguments are certainly more complex.  In many cases, the argument is regarding the progressive assault on culture that liberal doctrine is so aggressively  undertaking.  For the United States, it is what is considered the founding twin tower elements of individual freedom and individual responsibility for lives that are being derided, and has led to a resistance in the form of the Tea Party. The principles of limited government with identified checks and balances was placed to prevent a central government from usurping the capacity of individuals to achieve their own vision quests.  In Europe the hard won cultural maturity of Western civilization, forged through hundreds of years of bloody conflict, and  based on the rule of law as secured by the power of elected assembly has been under the attack of unfettered immigration, from cultures with no similar cultural respect for these tenets.  The liberal agenda has been on identifying the world as ruled by an entity known as homosapien, with its herds allowed to freely cross borders and graze in uninhibited fashion on the fruits of the local produce, the herd to be culled and organized by the all seeing, all knowing council of elders, assuring a “fair” distribution of the herd’s resources.

Nigel Farage UKIP

Nigel Farage UKIP

So Nigel Farage’s smile grows and grows, and the scowl of the liberal minders gets more scowly by the minute.  They are infuriated this beer swilling pack smoking politician continues to resonate with the very populations that they are trying to regulate out of existence. The very actions of Farage’s unapologetic beer swilling and pack smoking are the height of insult, because they seem to reflect a statement of personal freedom to voters,  rather than a nasty habit that should be regulated out of Farage’s personal choice for his own good.  In four short years, Farage has made the transition from derided peripheral clown to socialist globalism’s worst nightmare, a politician who makes sense across social stratifications.

Liberalism will do their best to paint the politicians of the nationalist surge as the second coming of Hitler.  It will be the challenge of these parties to identify with politicians that articulate the positive character of the message without attaching to the baser darkness of the xenophobic crowd.

Once again, we live in interesting times.

 

 

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The Elephant in the Room

 

Mike Lester - washingtonpostwriters group

Mike Lester – washingtonpostwriters group

Two weeks ago,  an e-mail obtained by the watchdog organization Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act  identified the involvement of the White House in the framing of the initial explanation denying the Benghazi terrorist attack of September 11th 2012 as a terrorist attack after a year of denial that there was any initial knowledge of it being a terrorist attack.  Last week, e-mails obtained by the watchdog organization Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act detailed an obvious focus by Washington DC  Internal Revenue Service hierarchy on tea party groups and “organizations critical of how the country is being run” despite over a year of administration denials that the IRS tea party oversight abuses were anything other than the zealotry of a few rogue agents in Cincinnati.  The President of the United States who in 2012 prior to the election bluntly told the nation that he had guaranteed that people could keep their health insurance plans if they desired,  informed the American people in 2013 they may not be able to keep their plans if the plans were”sub-standard”.

Fast and Furious denials. Solyndra denials.  NSA denials. Accountable Care Act denials. Benghazi denials. IRS denials. The list goes on and on.  Has there ever been an American administration that dealt in obfuscation with the brashness and consistency of this one?  Actually, is obfuscation too polite a word for the self interested willingness to deceive, otherwise known as lying?  The reality is, that one continues to lie when it is obvious that there will be no consequences for their actions.  For essentially the entire Obama Presidency an all too willing press has been willing to accept outright falsehoods and delaying tactics as simple political maneuvering on the part of the administration, to protect the president that has come closest to their value system.  A very different press was in place 41 years ago, when a President found himself unable to stonewall a progressive investigation into the difference between the administration’s version of events, and the truth.

From the Watergate hotel break-in of June 17th,1972 to the President Nixon’s resignation on August 8th, 1974 – two short years – the relentless hammer of investigative reporting linked to congressional investigation caused the entire pattern of governmental obfuscation to collapse.   We are approaching the fifth year of the fast and furious debacle, the fourth year of the IRS targeting of Americans, the third year since the discovery of the use of the NSA to spy on individual Americans without legal justification,  the fourth year since the Affordable Care Act was first mis-represented, the second year since the Benghazi distortion may of helped sway an American election, and where are we in terms of the public understanding as to the integrity of their government in these actions?

Maybe the enormous amount of evidence that the administration has been functioning in willful deceit is finally coming to bear, though with no help from an scandal catatonic press corps. The action of organizations such as Judicial Watch, to put in the hard work of information retrieval, is beginning to get the rats to scurry.  Given the bias of the press, similar disclosures regarding a Republican administration would be raw meat to the beast.  Regardless, the enormous number of people who have to have their stories controlled with so many parallel lie factories is the elephant in the room.  The progressive drip of information is beginning to stir the level of congressional oversight that begins to drive the story, and whether the press’s desire is to shield the President, the story may simply get too juicy to ignore.


The elephant in the room is big, growing bigger and progressively will not be able to be ignored very much longer.  Certainly, one can already see that some of the participants are distancing themselves from the elephant in hopes of not getting squashed.  The slippery and legalistically slimey Hillary Clinton, who skated through any responsibility for the Whitewater scandal, a real estate morass that sent twelve people associated with the venture to jail, excepting only her, and navigated professed outrage regarding the “right wing conspiracy”  exposing  her husband’s peccadillos into a Senate seat in New York, launching her own career, is smack dab in the elephant’s sights.  It will be interesting to see how she attempts to distance herself as the need grows to throw more and more people who served under her under the bus.

Could it reach the President himself, who assumes a veneer of detachment from all responsibility to any events that happen under his watch?

Having lived through the damage that the Watergate debacle placed upon the American psyche, no one should be happy to see the elephant find him.

But, its definitely his elephant.

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Charles Fritz and the Corps of Discovery

"The Corps of Discovery Running the Columbia"  Charles Fritz

“The Corps of Discovery Running the Columbia” Charles Fritz

"The River Rochejhone April 25, 1805"   Charles Fritz

“The River Rochejhone April 25, 1805” Charles Fritz

On May 13th, 1804, 33 explorers led by Captain William Clark set out from a staging area known as Fort Dubois in the Indiana territory, left the Mississippi River into the mouth of Missouri River, picked up their expedition co-leader Captain Meriwether Lewis, and embarked on one of mankind’s great adventures into the unknown. Over the next twoThe Lewis and Clark Expedition - 1804 - 1806  wikipedia years, the expedition group, known as the Corps of Discovery, performed the spectacular feat of successfully transitioning through thousands of miles of undefined territory to the Pacific Ocean and back, losing but one member of the corps (to appendicitis), and created a brilliant record of accurate maps, scientific observations, and out and out artistic prose. The success of the expedition codified America’s reputation as a “can do” nation and changed her forever. This record, in its highest form found in the Journals of Lewis and Clark, have stimulated historians and artists alike to try to bring time and time again a modern reflection on the epic accomplishment.

In the world of art, many famous artists of the likes of  Charles M. Russell have put their creative stamp on the highlights of the expedition.  The land with its endless vistas have been material enough, but the Lewis and Clark Journals brought such perspective to the landscape that the many of the landscape impressions seem empty without the attempt to view them as the voyagers in the Corps of Discovery did.  No one I suspect, however, took to the concept of recreating a visual Iliad for the journey to heart as did modern Western artist Charles Fritz.

Last year, I was introduced to Charles Fritz through a small painting I purchased at a gallery in Tucson.  In discussing the excellent skillset of the artist, and the accuracy and devotion he showed to the subject matter, I was informed that Fritz had previously achieved an immeasurable artistic feat on a particular historical favorite event of mine, the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  I ordered the book documenting the accomplishment, ” Charles Fritz: the Hundred Paintings Illustrating the Journals of Lewis and Clark” and spent hour upon hour in progressive awe of what Charles Fritz undertook and what he accomplished.  In an effort of exceptional devotion to the accuracy of the journals and personally  sighting each of the panoramas as the journals described Lewis and Clark experienced them, Fritz produced a comprehensive masterpiece that brings to life visually the entire voyage. Stimulated by a commission to paint a specific location described in the journals, Fritz determined with plenty of encouragement to devise a dramatically more substantial mission he had contemplated since his youth, a comprehensive artistic telling of the story of the complete expedition. Over seven years, and with no doubt personal hardship to his ongoing career as he determined to not sell individual paintings but instead show them in a comprehensive grouping, an authoritative collection of 72 paintings morphed into an initial traveling highly popular exhibition by 2005. The extent of the  work in terms of originality, scope, and man-hours was huge, but the obsession hit Fritz, and  with the support of a collector named Tim Peterson, the financial wherewithal to expand the scope to 100 paintings and fill in the story holes with the original creation was achieved by 2009.

The gift to us is a spectacular collection to the nation that birthed the Corps of Discovery and produced the men who achieved the adventure of many lifetimes.  The art brings the intrepid explorers to life, and precisely places them in the historically accurate depictions and landscape.  Yet this is not illustration, but true art, with the emotions and passions of the people, the drama of the events, and huge canvas of the landscapes come to life.

Portage Around the Great Falls - June, 2005  Charles fritz

Portage Around the Great Falls – June, 2005 Charles fritz

Fritz placed himself into the journals to create the drama of the works and in the landscapes he loved before they passed out of time in recognizable ways.  He makes all of us feel the danger, the wonder, and the exhilaration Lewis and Clark, and their corps must have felt.

"The Arrival of Captain Lewis at the Great Falls of the Missouri June13, 2005"  Charles Fritz

“The Arrival of Captain Lewis at the Great Falls of the Missouri June13, 2005” Charles Fritz

The journey stories from the funeral of Sergeant Floyd  to the Mandan Village winter, the interactions with the Sioux, Blackfeet, and the corps own unofficial guide Sacajawea and Clark’s black slave York are all represented.  The eye of the master artist and  integrity to the historical truth are matchless. Fritz’s natural love of the West and to the traditions of American painting from Bingham to Remington, Moran to  Russell come out in each individual masterpiece. The respect for the land and the indomitable spirit of the explorers who first saw it as unsullied paradise projects from each creation.

We are led  by Charles Fritz’s epochal life work  to the wonder of who we were and what we hoped to be, and maybe through the appreciation of the enormous effort of a man to his craft and to his country, what we perhaps yet, could still become.

Lewis and Clark - charles fritz

Lewis and Clark – charles fritz

 

 

 

 

 

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People We Should Know # 26 – C.S. Lewis

 

C.S. Lewis - wikipedia

On the most important day of the Christian calendar,  the day in which faith triumphs over reason, and reason becomes  faith, we celebrate the miracle that was the culmination of a Supreme Being’s promise to His creation.  With the triumph over mortality itself,  a reason for being, beyond an accident of nature, was revealed and life gained ultimate worth. The next two thousand years became a burst of passion for knowledge, exploration, expression, and discovery directly linked to renewed pact man held with his Creator, and his attempt to live up to the promise of that miracle.

The very success of man’s discovery of his capacity to understand, led, by the twentieth century, a willingness to suggest alternatives to the faith residing in the miracle of Easter, and to the question the very existence of, or fundamental need for, a Supreme Being.  The development of newer philosophies, materialism, atheism, and scientism, proceeded to put forward the idea that man’s development had superceded the validity of any “stories” that once provided answers to the mysteries of the universe and our place in it.

Confronting  the intense arguments of Nietzsche, Freud, and others, and the seeming lack of God in the dominance of the individual by the superstate, a few articulate men were able to weave modern concepts into the fabric of the ancient miracles, and show that God was even more apparent in the modern interpretation of life.  Of particular note was the genius of C.S. Lewis, whose stature has only grown some fifty years after his death.  C.S. Lewis, who as a philosopher recognized that logic and reason, faith and miracle were not incompatible, and had the brilliant literary prose to articulate it for everyone, is to be celebrated on Easter as Ramparts People We Should know – #26.

C.S. Lewis holds a special place in the discussion of a divine  providence not because he was an unquestioning, fervid believer in the Almighty but rather because he was the opposite.  By age fifteen, convinced of science objectivity and armed with an already impressive searching intellect, he announced his atheism to his family and friends. He served in World War I, was seriously wounded and only further confirmed his conclusion that man was an accident of evolution, and nature the format for chaotic, random occurrence.  It was at his obtaining a professorship at Oxford where he met a group of intellectual contrarians know as the” Inklings”, led by JRR Tolkien (better remembered as the author of the saga Lord of the Rings) . Tolkien, a strong Roman Catholic, interlaced Christian principles of good, evil, temptation, and redemption through his writings.  Lewis stated the conversion to Christianity for him was not immediate.  He described being brought “kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting my eyes in every direction for a chance to escape.”  But his philosophical bent continued to cause him to ask question after question as how things exist and how randomness utterly failed to explain so many things in creation.  Being a modern man, he did not deny the answers of science, nor fall meekly upon the stories of creation to explain the way things were.  His was an intellectual journey:

If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too.  If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents – the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms.  And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s.  But if their thoughts – i.e., Materialism and Astronomy – are mere accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true?  I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents.  It’s like expecting the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.

C.S. Lewis

Progressively, he organized his thoughts on paper, and armed with a prodigious literary talent, left us a beautiful tome of literature to understand how well belief in the Divine stands up in the modern age.  Books such as Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, Miracles, and The Screwtape Letters are considered not only great paeans to Christian apologia but also great literature.  His children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia, proved to be one of the most popular best sellers of the 20th century and have been celebrated in cinema.

Although he was a practicing Anglican, C.S Lewis  has sustained popularity some fifty years after his death for the universality of his message, the insightful logic of his arguments, and the beauty of his prose.  For an age, he inspires a love for the magic that underlies life and creation that few others have been able to achieve.

In so many ways., C.S. Lewis is an appropriate soldier of the Ramparts and People We Should Know.  On this beautiful Easter day, let us celebrate our faith, but take additional pride in the continual example of that faith’s vitality and pertinence in this modern world of ours.


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Wolves and Sheep

 

Venezuela Protests February 2014 - redalertpolitics.com

Venezuela Protests February 2014 – redalertpolitics.com

The flagship of the ideals of free thought and democracy, the New York Times, sees this past several weeks as a quiet time.  The Sunday FrontPage,  liberty’s window onto the world, reports, in order, articles on concern about growing medical bills, reviewing the drone war, eulogy to a naturalist author,  complaints about the lack of progress in making illegal immigration legal, and tactics to overcome the untoward  influence of the Koch brothers in the national discourse.

In less important and underreported  news, the Russian kleptocracy swallowed whole 18000 square miles of a neighboring sovereign country’s territory without a struggle, and the largest oil producer in South America remained in flames as its people refuse to buckle under the all encompassing yoke of a socialist dictator.

Reporting Hope and Change has become progressively difficult with all this chaos around. The sheep grazing quietly in the grassy fields of democracy’s prosperity arguing over who deserves more grass, are blithely unaware of the wolves of socialism stalking their periphery and quietly infiltrating the herd.

The founding fathers in their wisdom recognized first and foremost the greatest weapon sheep would ever have against the wolves, the ability to sound the alarm through free speech, and it is here that the socialist wolves seek to wound, and weaken the herd for destruction.  The very first amendment of the Bill of Rights states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

Socialism under the guise of statism seeks to unlock the meaning of no law, and change it to no law that doesn’t serve the interests of those who would effect law.  The fury of statism last week  was loosed upon the Supreme Court of the United States, that by a five to four vote, determined that limiting an individual’s ability to express their opposition through financial restraints limited their free speech.  In McCutcheon versus the FEC, the Court determined that it was not the government’s role to determine what is “good” or “bad” speech. Chief Justice Roberts  stated that ” the First Amendment does not protect the government, even when that government purports to act through legislation reflecting ‘collective speech’. ”    The statist champion of Hope And Change, President Obama expressed his “disappointment” about the ruling, on his way to another fundraiser. For statists the weapons of choice are the quiet infiltration of the wolves amongst the pack –  the FEC effecting limits on individual free speech expenditure, the IRS clamping down on opposition non-profit political grassroots organizations,  Obamacare removing any personal interpretation of responsibility for life decisions and ceding it to the government. One small victory for the sheep.

Disappointment isn’t the word of the day for the brave people of Venezuela who apparently unbeknownst to the New York Times are under violent attack for the very notion of expressing their opposition to statism and socialism.  We must go to foreign newspapers again for any perspective on the events in Caracas and other cities in Venezuela. The primitive killer instinct of the government wolves is in full bloom,  taking scores of lives, placing the political opposition leader in solitary confinement, making other opposition leaders scurry around in disguise, and daily breaking up peaceful assemblies of people in opposition to their domination of individual aspiration. What are they protesting? The government’s inability to provide the most basic of services, protection against crime and delivery of sanitation, while the government demands control over all facets of life including food. A fight that speaks to the very essence of the foundation of the rights of individuals the New World fought so hard to attain.

The statist wolves  in America don’t yet experience active opposition to their infiltration.  The  disappointment with the Supreme Court is a temporary setback.  There are other sheep vulnerably exposed.  The CEO of Mozilla Brandon Eich is fired because 8 years ago he gave some money to an organization in support of traditional marriage.  Columnist Mark Steyn is sued for libel for daring to suggest that the “data” used to create the settled science is fraudulent.  The Koch brothers, supporting libertarian candidates are the focus of evil in the statist world, when they are only the 59th largest contributors to the political arena, grossly overwhelmed by the statist supporters such as George Soros and government backed unions.

Every day the wolves are ever circling, and the sheep continue unaware, only occasionally protected through action by the few shepherds among us.

The people of Venezuela are fighting the fight that the rest of us sheep better wake up to.  We are the main course on the statist wolves’ dinner table, and the wolves’ appetite is insatiable.

 

 

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The Painful Journey Towards the Pursuit of Happiness

EPICURUS

EPICURUS

The middle class of Venezuela continues to daily protest their government’s destructive domination of their lives, despite overwhelming force.  A Ukrainian battalion, completely surrounded by invading Russian forces that have stormed their base, parade, and in unison, sing their country’s national anthem.  An owner of a small machine shop in Texas decides to assure integrity in democracy, starts a democracy education program called True The Vote, and brings the whole weight of a “weaponized” American government upon her head.  A group of auto workers in Chattanooga Tennessee reject collective union representation at a Volkswagen plant because “we have good jobs with a good company, and joining the union risks those jobs.” A intensely conservative politician Rand Paul gets a standing ovation from the most liberal statist population on earth at the University of California/Berkeley , when he states the government should get out of the business of monitoring individual lives.

What’s going on?  Governments the world over have assumed the post modern human has accepted the benefits of a collective community and the security it offers against hunger, inequality, and safety, and are finally willing to subvert their uncivilized instincts for  utopia.  Why don’t these people see the advantages of being taken care of and just accept the facts of life? Its that darn free will.  It just keeps rearing its untamed head and refuses to submit.  When Thomas Jefferson unleashed the power of language to define this very fundamental human instinct as unalienable rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, he brought ancient truths to modern concepts of the individual.

In the depths of history, some 25 centuries ago, Greek philosophers already recognized innate genetics of the human animal.  They saw that the power of intellect would have unpredictable consequences when herd tactics were taken by the strong upon the weak.  Epicurus, the father of individual happiness, defined it as the human’s need to seek pleasure and avoid pain.  Good and evil, moral tenets, found their place in Epicurus’s world as expressions of pleasure and pain – Good was pleasurable, Evil was painful.  The achievement of  pleasure, however, could submit to a painful path, if the ultimate outcome by undergoing a painful interlude would ultimately lead to significantly more pleasure.  Although the ultimate expression of happiness might be found in a modest life devoid of controversy, the acceptance of challenge, even instability, however painful, could still provide the fuel for the achievement of a better life, as that individual perceived it.  A world of “self control and determination”, not anarchy.

Epicurus got the opportunity to school other Greeks in his thoughts, as did the Stoics with their desire for order through the avoidance of moral corruption, and the Platonians for their desire to attain an ideal state devoid of the ephemeral pleasures of the sensate world.  Diverging philosophies were all part of the individual acknowledging his own perception of the world around him and responding according to his intellect.  Certainly this could work for several hundred thousand Greeks living on millions of acres of Greek lands.  Can the modern man be philosophical about his individualism in a world where for instance in Bangladesh,  2,850 people compete for every square mile?

Pursuit of happiness. Sounds simple, but what profound strains of human existence it symbolizes.  The Putins, Maduros, Khameneis and Obamas of the world continue to struggle with the notion that individuals can not cotton to these statists’ constant need to define what is good for you.  The force of the statist impulse is overwhelming, but inevitably weakened by the  individual intents of tens of millions of intellects that see real power in the freedom to determine one’s own destiny. In a world that seemingly has given up its flower of humanity to the strangling vines of security and safety, the inability of statist powers to stamp out  this ongoing need to be human, and free, gives us all a tendril of hope.

Tianamen Square - 1989

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Duck Soup

Marx Brothers Go To War

America’s Marx Brothers Go To War

The President of the United States announced on March 17th, 2014, a firm response to the belligerent moves of Russia who has unilaterally achieved the schism of the Crimea from Ukraine into Russia, in the biggest land grab since Herr Hitler demanded the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia in 1938.  Not to be caught in the historical mistake of mimicking Neville Chamberlain who allowed the dictator Hitler the uncontested assumption of a massive part of another country on the basis of the presence of “indigenous” Germans as a “majority” of a minority of a country,  Obama determined to make a stand that would make sure the Russian dictator understood and felt the painful consequences of his act.  President Obama announced that seven rich Russians close to Putin would have their frequent flier miles rescinded and their free checking removed.

We live in farcical times. The President has a unique habit of declaring lines over which no one would dare to step over, only to have everyone step over with impunity.  Is it feasible that he does not see that not everyone views him as the overarching intellect without compare, as he views himself?

Are we to expect that the lines can continue to be “drawn in the sand” without consequence?

The President of Russia has engineered the consumption of a massive portion of an independent country and this is the best we can do in response?  What will President Obama’s response be when the indigenous majority of Hispanics in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California vote to be part of Mexico?  What will President Obama’s response be when the Lanape tribe demands more than the 60 guilders they accrued for the sale of  the island of Manhattan to the Dutch?  What will President Obama’s response be when China lands a man on the moon, takes a vote, and declares the moon Chinese by unanimous election?

I don’t like to take any of this lightly, but farce has its own dark humor.  We have lost our compass so severely with this President that one wonders if the ultimate joke is yet to come.

 

 

 

 

 

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