George Washington – The Virginian

GEORGE WASHINGTON - Gilbert Stuart - Corcoran Gallery

GEORGE WASHINGTON – Gilbert Stuart – Corcoran Gallery

February 22, 2016 is the 284th anniversary of the birth of George Washington, a giant of history, that with each passing year and with ever more complete research into his actions and motivations, grows evermore in stature. The somewhat dour portraiture of the man promoted by his portraits late in life do not begin to capture what a towering force of nature he was, and the intensity of impact that he had on others, and on his time.  Each presidential election season seems to bring us the challenge of finding individuals remotely worthy of the office and the understanding of public service that he so uniquely defined.  Ramparts paid tribute to him on February 22,2011, and a return to our essay, The Virginian, is a exemplary reminder of the mettle and character of the man that the current crop of candidates dare to be associated with.

In our more cynical, superficial age we find it hard to imagine the set of circumstances that would lead a man to risk all that he had, and give up the greater portion of his life, to an idea. 279 years ago today, such a man was born in the colony of Virginia, and his indomitable life quest almost single-handedly made possible the American Experiment. There was no expectation in early life of his sacrificial nature, borne to a prominent Virginia family, and he could have settled in to a life of plantation farming and land acquisition that was his family’s mantra. Something restless and animal was part of his makeup , however, and his early journeys into the wilderness to survey land created a unique need not seen in other family members. This man, George Washington, was tuned into a special stereophonic muse that was characterized both by the Age of Enlightenment and the Age of Possibility. His forays into the vast American continent began to coalesce for him that this particular land was special, and the capacity of each individual man special, within it. He began to seek positions that would both make possible the maximization of who he was, and steadily, the risks he would need to face to achieve fulfillment.

The young adult Washington showed a warrior instinct. He was named the military leader of an attachment that was to derive the position of the competing French in the Ohio country coveted by both the British and French superpowers, and managed in a short time time get himself involved in both a massacre of French soldiers near present day Pittsburgh, and later a complementary catastrophic massacre of British soldiers in the ill fated Braddock expedition to eject the French. The sequence of events showed Washington to be aggressive, impetuous, and in a trait glorified later in life, unconscionably brave and seemingly immune to battle chaos or bullets. The controversies of these events left the British and the American politicians with different impressions of the Virginian Washington. The British saw him as inferior to the British officer ideal with his Americanized instincts for cagey warfare over stand and shoot soldiering. The Americans saw him as an example of individual creativity and persistence. Both concepts were of Washington, but did not completely describe him, to those who later felt they knew how the “true” Washington in battle would respond.

A leap forward in time to 1775, and the continental congress is desirous of a leader that holds both warrior skills and revolutionary ideals in his make-up. There was frankly little “in-house” experience to chose from, but Washington recognized before anyone that the warrior leader would have to a special hybrid. He would need to be able to commune with the common man who would ultimately provide a volunteer force that would need to be willing to sacrifice and die for abstract ideas, and would have to project a consistent warrior bearing and confidence that would assure all that taking on the most powerful military on earth and winning was not the ludicrous proposition it seemed. He played these two roles to perfection, and retrospectively, was the unique persona for the impossible task.

The revolutionary war years of 1775 to 1783 were epitomized by the crushing reality of the sacrifices necessary by men like Washington to achieve the miracle of independence. The challenges were overwhelming. He was required to fight the greatest military force in the world with a rag tag army of citizen soldiers with little military training and limited resources. He was challenged time and time again to rebuild this volunteer army as deferments ran out, or men simply gave up on the intolerable nature of it all. He was expected to maintain a continental strategy with troops who were thinking that their home to defend was their own state and not necessarily the “foreign” state to which they were forced to defend. He was forced to defend his actions in defeat after painful defeat against individual politicians who thought they knew better and refused to monetarily support the cause or mandate the troops. He did this all continuously for eight years with a price on his head, away from his home, under atrocious conditions, and with the foreknowledge that defeat meant for him certain death and loss of all that he had. He faced all these enormous obstacles – and he won.

When it came time years later to select a chief executive that would form the initial government of the United States, the selection again turned to one man, the Virginian, Washington. He was selected not for any impassioned rhetorical brilliance or acknowledged philosophical depth, but again, because he was the single individual every competing interest group felt they could trust. He was selected for his acknowledged ownership of the American Ideal through the worst of times, and his willingness as a man, to give up power when it was his to take. As the first President of these United States he set for all time the standard that the office, not the man, the Constitution, not the trappings, were the key ingredients of the American Experiment.

On his birthday, at a time when mediocrity of character and lack of in-depth understanding of what makes this American Experiment work frequently desires to inhabit the office of President, our first president, the Virginian, stands forever, like a colossus.

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Reagan at 105

Ronald Reagan 1911 - 2004

Ronald Reagan 1911 – 2004

February 6th is the 105th anniversary of the birth of the last great President of the United States. The fortieth of a line of greats, near greats, disappointments and even scoundrels, the reputation of Reagan has only grown in stature since he left the political scene in 1989.  Greatness, as always, is not just a list of accomplishments. It is the sense, by friend and foe alike, that the real achievement of Reagan was that he was consequential in the lives of people in a way that left an indelible memory. Reagan secured renewal in America, which is an innate American characteristic flowering intermittently,  permitting the country to throw off the pessimism and corrosion of previous versions, and restore the core beliefs that make this country like no other. Approaching another period in time when people fear that the country may be in a permanent decline, the search for another Reagan-like figure is driving the political process, as a general exhaustion for the  divisiveness of the last 25 years progressively looks to unify behind a leader that believes in the infinite capability of a people that believe in themselves.

Reagan was the antithesis of the modern model for an executive of an organization as contentious and complex as the United States.  The modern model calls for elite training, breeding in the corridors of influence, intellectual power, vigor of an executive personality at the height of its powers,  and calculated ruthlessness.  Reagan was born of backwater parents in Tampico, Illinois, and attended not Ivy League, but backwater schools, graduating with gentleman’s grades from little Eureka College, and striving not to become a captain of industry, but a reflection of the common man. The natural goodness that was Reagan resonated upon the fairly recent form of mass communication known as cinema, and secured in Reagan a belief that the stories told in the movies were characteristic in form to the real life stories that created the unique  American society. To Reagan later in life, the cinema stories blended with reality, not because he was deluded by their contrived nature, but because he believed stories evoked the true, formational American psyche.  Having essentially finished one career as celebrity, he then proceeded later in life to a second career of working the levers of power to respond to his beliefs that the success and influence of America was best appreciated in its people and their story. He didn’t see Americans as needing constant direction to prevent chaos and ill considered decisions. By the time he ran for President in 1980, he was already one of the oldest men to do so, but somehow his simple, principled manner and his unwavering confidence in the American dream blew through all generations as a bracing rush of fresh air and energy.

Reagan didn’t need to feel himself the smartest man in the room as more insecure men who followed him to the office did. He sublimated the concept of intellectual heft to the equally awesome  power of personal wisdom and understanding of what motivates people to achieve great things.   He did not need to demean people or ruthlessly use them, because he knew the gains would be short and superficial.  He understood that true power resided in a country’s sense of self esteem and shared story. He crushed the opposition time and time again not by explaining to the people why trusting themselves would overwhelm any insecurity, and the people became his army that no opponent could hope to fractionate.  When Reagan ran for re-election in 1984, he didn’t really need to tell them it  was Morning in America.  They felt it at the very core of their conviction, and they knew that he had renewed them.

To the elite of the country, Reagan’s simple faith in Americans and their ability to seize opportunity and trust themselves , was polyannish and ultimately irrational. Elites knew that most Americans could not be expected to understand the complexities of modern society and make good decisions.  Real, altruistic governance would always be not so much  a safety net as a it should be a hammock, designed to soften the blows and disappointments of life for those that could not possibly be expected to absorb and overcome failure. Reagan’s simplistic view of Americans having more in common with the concept of being American rather than the bonds to any individual group, suppressed grievances and blurred the political divisiveness that could build voting blocks.  By the time an Obama positioned himself as a deliverer, Americans had subjugated themselves to smaller and smaller self interest groups, and the exploitation of perceived grievances allowed base instincts of envy and advantage to take rigid hold. Obama saw no value in shared success and people feeling self worth. Political power lay in making sure if there was failure, it was important to have someone who would clearly reveal for those who failed who was responsible – their neighbor, their fellow American.  Obama’s over-riding impulse was to extend this attitude to the global perception of America, If there was instability and chaos in the world, America could be seen as a driver of such malfeasance, and she could make it up to others only by apologizing and getting out of the way.  The self esteem of America and its people, renewed by Reagan and allowed to flourish for twenty-five years, required an Obama to restore the elites and crack America’s can do spirit.

Reagan unbelievably at 105 somehow seems younger than the tired contrivances that pass for leadership today. The restless rejection of the so called establishment candidates for president in Clinton and Bush seem to foretell however, a stirring of another renewal.  If the country begins to sense there is real hope, not the nonsense of 2008, and that people will once again be given the chance to live their lives unencumbered by those who would crush their spirit for renewal, we may yet see a tidal wave of confirmation in the person who can define a path back out from the wilderness.  If so, like 1980 and 1984, you won’t be needing to interpret any broken chads to know who won.  It wont be a republican or democrat wave, it will once again be an all American one.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Reagan.

 

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The Brokenness of Government

Venezuelans wait in line for food at a supermarket businessinsider.com

Venezuelans wait in line for food at a supermarket               businessinsider.com

The world is looking like a progressively scary place, and it’s not from the usual bad guy good guy conflict. Its what passes for a government nowadays.  Governance as defined by the dictionaries suggests a governmental body is to establish policies, monitor their implementation, and assume accountability,in order to provide for the prosperity and enhancement of the governed.  Increasingly, real governance is the last thing these governments have in mind.  The swelling size, scope, and grasp for power is their calling, and the people who have to put up with them are increasingly angry, and increasingly desperate. Media takes passively takes pictures and reports the presence of the increasing chaos and occasional violence, but is blind to accept the cause as a failure of the governing class for what it would mean for the perceived notion of an ideal society.  The longer the disconnect remains in perception, the larger the risk of a real calamity developing.

The bloated government:  World history has not seen an economy the size of the United States of America.  For a country with an annual greater than 17 trillion dollar marketplace of prosperity, the government has progressively grown to install its brand of ‘fairness’ on the interactions through regulations.  The original design of a limited government with checks and balances has been thrown out with an exploding executive branch, that thinks every decision an individual makes should be weighted on equality of outcome, and a legislative branch that has abandoned its role in assuring budgetary restraint and oversight guidance.   The anger of the population is palpable this election season. A healthcare program built on monstrous legislation and ever more monstrous regulation fails on every conceivable level,  but no one will do anything because it is a centerpiece of a president’s legacy. The nation’s debt balloons out of all conceivable proportion, having doubled in just 8 years weighed against the previous 230 with over 100 trillion in unfunded mandates, more worth than exists in the world, and nobody will do anything because they risk their re-election. Laws are that define governmental integrity, paying of taxes, respect for individual privacy, and care with the nation’s secrets are blatantly ignored by the governing class, and no clean up of the corrupting and corroding influence is undertaken, as the governing class protect their own.  Bloated beyond all credible size, the government exists to exist, to redistribute, and to grow some more.

The Utopian government:  Governments more firmly are designed to construct societies as utopians wish they would be, rather than how societies best function.  The current free-fall in Venezuela is the Primus Inter Pares.  Despite the explosion of national wealth and massive industry expansion brought by the discovery of Venezuela’s enormous oil reserves, the inequities created between the poor and the flourishing middle class and nouveau riche led to the election of a uber-socialist government of Hugo Chavez, patterned after the equally utopian autocracy of Cuba.  The nationalizing of the oil industry allowed the government coffers to fill directly, providing patronage money for electoral success through 2 cent a gallon gasoline, and essentially free goods, transportation,  and housing for the poor.  The inevitable collapse of infrastructure in the oil industry, collapse of oil prices, and explosion of the black market has led to only more delusional moves by the Chavez successor Maduro, and the doubling down of every economic malfeasance.   The printing of money with rampant inflation destroying currency value has led to the monetary black market, price controls destroying any available goods, and increasing enforcement of these unworkable decisions by government backed thugs, a pattern seen over and over in countries like Zimbabwe and North Korea, but it has not distracted the Venezuelan autocrats one bit.  Suffering is the daily bread of utopian paradise.

The Nanny State Government:  When the European Union implemented fully the Schengen Area in 1999, it was to tell the 400 million Europeans under the union they knew the world better than any of their inhabitants.  Designed to eliminate borders by eliminating passports, it put all trade and immigration under the province of a supra-national government in Brussels who wants to eliminate 2600 years of cultural diversity and create a european superstate.  The single currency followed close behind with the adoption of the Euro, and the vision of vast continent of a like minded social compact gave the governors in Brussels ecstatic chills.  Give Greece the Euro, and a Greek will become efficient and frugal, undifferentiated from the Germanic.  Open the borders, and the immigrants will flow and provide low cost labor for the overseers, liberalize themselves, and become the Europeans of the tomorrow, joyous in the vision of a protected life, and immune to  genetic callings of their tribe.  The whole Potemkin Village is crashing down with the onslaught of a million undocumented immigrants from the Middle East and Africa with little to separate them but their desire to be brought under the nanny state economic safety net, and their complete distain for any contact with the European social libertine streak.  The various governments have determined to ignore the severe cultural clashes that express themselves violently in assault, rape, and even murder and pretend this has nothing to do with the greater assimilation.  The inevitable result is the rise of hard right movement predicated upon protecting their homes, family, and culture, but using the tools that echo the vigilante actions of times past with their inherent dangers.

The Adversarial Government:  Governments reacting to any political activity to limit growing efforts to limit their scope or power are increasingly hostile and frankly dangerous.  Individuals who looked to develop opposing political views in the United States to the prevailing government found their phones tapped, the tax returns audited, and their businesses hounded by governmental agencies.  In Russia the would be czar has used a more effective tool of at least indirectly supporting the murder of political opponents through means as diverse and criminal as street assassination and radioactive poison.  In China, the preferred means, is societal erasure, with massive prison sentences. In the nascent state of ISIL, the medieval means of drowned, burning alive and beheading are used with the joy of totalitarian zeal.  These governments are no longer responsive to public pressures for they have assured themselves that they are too big to fail, too powerful to resist. In the world where government is your boss and not your servant ,the temptation to use available levers of power and hide behind the bureaucracy is great. On such assumption, revolutions are borne.

The Demagogue Government:  The governments are progressively fronted by Demagogue Leaders.  Appealing to the raw emotions of inequity and promoting the assurance of equality of outcome, the politics of leaders is to demand the increasing accumulation of powers in the hands of a single individual who will protect the people against the weakness of deliberative processes or the blind justice based on laws not emotions.  From Obama to Trump, the promise is you can have what you want, you need only a leader who is willing to take any means necessary to achieve the end result.  The checks and balances placed to prevent just such demagoguery is to be subverted and overwhelmed.  In a society where the hard work of democracy seems passe’ and the idea of principles of governance antiquated to the speed of our current discourse, a strong handed leader seems the easy out.

We are entering into dangerous times with our eyes half closed.  As a member of the diminishing group of people willing to discourse and legislate to a proper end, we need to be forceful in our defense of the constitutional concept.  Listen before you speak. Read a book, and then another opposed. Think about our past, and reason about our future. Demand competence. Demand oversight of your government.  Protect freedom of expression above all.  Respect your traditions, and teach their value. Secure your future opportunity and guard it against all poseurs who would usurp it.  And …make sure those who govern, that they do so only with the expressed assent of the governed and that they are under the same laws that govern all free society – none different, none selective.  Hopefully, real push back, and the self correcting forces of an alert and engaged society will protect the world against the dark intent of predators and scoundrels.

Message: Go vote your principles, and if necessary, throw the bums out. Tomorrow is February 1st, and the future world we will live in is in our electoral hands, starting in Iowa.  The world is watching carefully to see if there’s still a chance, that in the land that once was the beacon for hope for those under the yoke, good will still prevail.

 

 

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Oh Boy – Here We Go…

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The chaotic and unpredictable American process for electing a chief executive is about to commence.  On February 1st, the 2016 Iowa caucuses take place and the first delegates to a national convention for each party representing the peoples’ choice will be selected.  The total delegate count received for the winner of each party in Iowa is likely to be less than one half of one percent of the total amount needed to receive the party nominations, yet it continues to carry the outsized impact expected of a much larger state.  The reason is simple – as George Herbert Walker Bush stated in 1980, the winner gets the Big Mo – the mantle of being a winner in a crowded field of aspirants.  The traditional start has been Iowa, a caucus, and New Hampshire, a primary.  The caucus process is of course run by political parties, and is therefore a device by which the enthusiasms of individual  blocs supporting political causes can best find their voice.  The primary is run by the state government, and reflects the whims of a voting public that reflects the candidate impressions of the moment.  The candidates like the structure because it allows predictability in geography and media expense, and lends to as ‘equal’ a playing field as is possible for the long shots.  And thus, the continuing drive of the start of the political process further and further back towards the previous election.

The people 'who would be President' 2016

The Republican hopefuls ‘who would be President’ 2016

It already seems in 2016, that this electoral process has gone on forever.  In the republican field, seventeen candidates filed papers to run, and before the first vote has even occurred, six have been defeated by the process.  Walker, Jindal, Perry, Patakis – the proven executives at the state level, thought to be voters’ desire after the election of the experience light Obama, fell quickly.  The gadfly Senator Lindsey Graham and the Republican Party executive Jim Gilmore.  Others have had their moment in the sun – Fiorina, the outsider computer executive-who used her preparedness to shine in the debates. Carson – the surgeon who started the anyone but a politician frenzy.  Rand Paul – the owner of his father’s libertarian legacy. The two former Iowa caucus winners, Santorum and Huckabee. The six who are truly left standing for the first vote, come in with the scars of a titanic battle already underway.  Bush – the legacy candidate, saddled with the name, establishment money, and a diminished political skill set, forced to strike out against all others to try to survive to a two man race. Kasich and Christie – the Curmudgeons candidates, attempting to hold up the governor as superior manager mantle, damaged with the defeats of Walker, Perry, and Jindal. Cruz and Rubio – the Senators are the Future candidates – potential real electoral talents that legitimately can take on Trump or Clinton, but only after they have fatally destroyed the other, for there can be only one.  And of course, Trump the Demagogue, who stands athwart the entire field, watching joyfully, as the rest pick each other off.

The democrats are under essentially the same schedule, and every bit as unsettled a process.  Classic for this party,  a larger fix is built in to remove surprises for the entrenched powers – almost 25 percent of the delegates are unpledged,  super-delegates designated by the party, allowing considerable manipulation of the outcome to the highest bidder. The presumptive Queen,Hillary Clinton, assumed to proceed in a cake walk in an inordinately weak field of competitors, is being staggered by her profound tendency to be her self. Her inherent unlikability as a retail politician, exposed easily by Obama in 2008, has been  magnified by progressive evidence of her deceitful incompetence in her time in government.  She very likely could be the first nominated candidate to have to face a felony inditement for her willful exposure of state secrets in setting up and using a private unprotected server,and her attempt to destroy evidence. One would assume that to be enough to bury even the most preening candidate, but at the same time, she must fight off a 74 year old Socialist, who appears more energetic and real to the voters than she ever could, forcing her into ever more radical statements that blunt the veneer of her election inevitability.

The artillery is coming fast and furious.  Joe Biden waiting for the Clinton Collapse.  Mayor Bloomberg possibly joining the fray on the idea that America’s Billionaires Know Better, and the real possibility of an election resolved in the House of Representatives.  The National Review Editorial Board declaring the Republican front runner is a liberal democrat. The FBI possibly  forced to detail the obvious; one of our leading Presidential candidates is a felon. Donald Trump determining that whatever he thought yesterday and whatever he said today, doesn’t have to be what he believes tomorrow – and you will learn to love it.

From Iowa and New Hampshire, to South Carolina and Nevada, to the 15 state  Super Tuesday and beyond.  Perhaps by April 1, we will have settled on the two candidates to lead this nation.  Or simply selected out such unpalatable realities that we will see a multiple party  3 or 4 candidate presidential election free for all.  Whatever happens, it will be exciting, unpredictable, uplifting, brash, ludicrous, inclusive, and definitely – American.

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Trump Change

 

Donald Trump salon.com

Donald Trump          salon.com

The entry of Donald Trump into the political arena was met by most (certainly Ramparts)  as an insignificant sideline to what would be the compelling stories of the 2016 race. Last spring,  according to the ‘experts’, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush were the politicians that had the famous supposed gravitas and organizational heft that would swallow the rest of their opponents in short order, and compared to such political leviathans, Donald Trump was considered ‘chump change’. The first vote has yet to be taken, but indications are that Trump is anything but political chump change. Instead, the political world is slowly coming to the realization that this etherial phenomena may be significantly more than previous sideshows, and what we are looking at more and more is the Main Event  –  Trump Change.

Enduring political phenomenae have to be understood in their contexts.  This is the reflection of both the unique qualities of the political figure and the times in which they reside. Trump is not the first celebrity attempting to capture the wave of public recognition and turn it into political votes – Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jessie Ventura, among others,  brought comic book hero status to the political arena and prospered.  Nor is he the first demagogue – the list is infinitely longer displaying that trait.  What he is capturing is that very special American desire that, if ignored by the establishment long enough, there is a real desire to ‘stick it to the Man’.   The rapidly increasing money amounts pouring into political campaigns have brought value to the distressing trend to make to contrary political philosophies progressively more  diametrically opposed to each other, with the victory of either felt to be intolerable to the other.  A liberal or conservative label is no longer about political ideas as it is about sacred immutable oaths, to which deviation or compromise is anathema.  The average voter lodged on losing side of the argument has his nose rubbed in the loss by opponents, and demand for increased loyalty by the losers.  To which the average voter is progressively responding with the Trumpian call to arms  – You Are All Losers.

Trump as the hybrid political creature Celebrity Demagogue is immediately recognizable to people as someone who will say what they feel and cannot say, and someone too celebrity big to be harassed into shutting up. When he is called offensive, he becomes more offensive. When the establishment remarks that what he expounds is just not said in polite politically correct society, he becomes more politically incorrect.  And the crowds love it.

Serious political observers are focusing their attention on the Trump phenomena. The essays are important and should be read in their entirety, as they are very prescient in what is going on and say it so much better than I. Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal describes Trump as the “Great Disruptor,” :

But issues do matter, and Mr. Trump has functioned this year not as a great communicator or great compromiser but as the great disrupter. He brags that he has brought up great questions and forced other candidates to face them and sometimes change their stands—and he has. He changed the debate on illegal immigration. He said he’d build a wall and close the border and as the months passed and his competitors saw his surge, they too were suddenly, clearly, aggressively for ending illegal immigration.

The great Mark Steyn attempts to inject the Trump virus directly, by attending a Trump rally in Vermont.  Steyn, one of the intuitive observers of mass culture ever, senses a significant part Trump’s power is derived from his authenticity with the voters. Not Jimmy Carter authenticity  “I will never lie to you” but the authenticity that Trump knows that people know how the world works, and they know Trump is authentic in letting them know, he does too:

What is “authenticity” in contemporary politics? Is it a man who parlayed a routine Congressional career into a lucrative gig at Lehman Brothers presenting himself as the son of a mailman? Or is it a billionaire with a supermodel wife dropping the pretense that he’s no different from you stump-toothed losers in the rusting double-wides? Trump’s lack of pandering extends to America, too. He doesn’t do the this-is-the-greatest-country-in-the-history-of-countries shtick that Mitt did last time round. He isn’t promising, like Marco Rubio, a “second American century”. His pitch is that the American dream is dead – which, for many Americans, it is. In 1980, Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” was an aberration – a half-decade blip in three decades of post-war US prosperity that had enabled Americans with high school educations to lead middle-class lives in a three-bedroom house on a nice-sized lot in an agreeable neighborhood. In 2015, for many Americans, “malaise” is not a blip, but a permanent feature of life that has squeezed them out of the middle class. They’re not in the mood for bromides about second American centuries: They’d like what’s left of their own lifespan to be less worse.

That’s the other quality on display: at certain points – for example, when Trump started talking about “beautiful Kate in San Francisco” being killed by an illegal immigrant – I turned around and saw men and women tearing up.

Steyn reviews many facets of the Trump phenomena and the article captures the uniquely American political experience that allows such phenomena to flourish.  In a parlimentary system, the party puts the party first, and a candidate flying by the seat of his pants will be cut off before any momentum can risk the party structure.  Not so in the American model.  The contest for leadership starts in the local barns of Iowa and the storefronts of New Hampshire, where every candidate story is vetted voter to voter. The power of this living room politic was first promulgated when Georgia governor Jimmy Carter came out of political obscurity to win the Democrat Iowa Caucus in 1976 and springboard into national prominence and eventual presidential election victory.  Ever since, candidates have hope for the springboard effect, based on having to actually entice relatively very few voters.  In 2012, Rick Santorum secured 29000 votes,to win the Iowa caucus, likely not enough votes to win an attorney general contest in Polk County, Iowa. yet Santorum parleyed the momentum into a second place finish behind Mitt Romney for the nomination.  The assumption is that local organization carries the day, but with the crowds Trump has proven to be able to draw, it is conceivable that the usual door to door techniques will be turned on its head, and Trump will blow out the model.

Americans at the national level have proven resistant to demagogues, but the average American’s faith in the constitutional process has been degrating for decades, and it may prove that this year the immunity is gone.  Trump is transcendantly without policy drafts, position papers, or a kitchen cabinet of advisors.  He defines political errors as the result of people without the personal skills or intellect to do better, and he is that better facilitator of the Art of the Deal that we have been missing.  Whether this will translate into votes that will coalesce as his opponents fall by the wayside, or whether he be cornered by increasingly stronger opponents as the voters become more serious about the next President given the performance of the last two, is soon to play out.  What is clear is that Trump Change is real change – more visceral, honest politics that may yet bring out the best in our system and candidates simply to prevent a demagogue from destroying the system of government for good.  If Trump has at least  managed to have slapped America out of its somulence, Trump Change will be all to the good.

 

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Space – The Frontier Re-Opens For Business

Falcon 9 and the re-entry capablity

Falcon 9 and the re-entry capablity

In a universe of wrong headed decisions, President Obama was credited by Ramparts in 2013 with recognizing the power of competition and free markets at least once in his Presidency, and allowing private industry to attempt to restore America’s capacity to lead in space.  In 2009, the President re-ordered the space budget to allow private industries to have their attempt at being a successor to the Space Shuttle for low earth orbit transport.  The critics contained some legendary explorers such as Jim Lovell and Neil Armstrong, who vociferously objected to the many future concepts being out of the control of a unifying agency like NASA.  Their doubts were informed; successful rocket programs like USA’s Saturn and Russia’s Soyuz had been the exclusive provence of governments and private concepts were conceptual only.

NASA, the government agency that had led a revolution of manned space exploration that culminated in multiple landings on the moon in the early 1970s, had spent the next forty fumbling with various near earth projects with reduced budgets and increasing risk adverse decisions.  The Space Shuttle was NASA’s only follow through on innovative projects, but it proved budget devouring and unstable, with a statistical catastrophic risk assessment of 1 in 60 flights proving uncomfortably true, with loss of the Challenger in 1986 and the Columbia in 2003 prominent in the 135 flights.  Having built five vehicles estimated at over a billion dollars apiece, 2 were lost for a total vehicle failure rate of 40% and a mission failure rate of 1.5%, easy enough to sink any other experimental craft.  Added to this ominous statistic was the reality that this re-usable spacecraft proved exceedingly expensive to re-use, with a planned for 50 flights a year turning out to be closer to 4 flights a year, resulting in an astronomical cost for the life of the program of over a billion dollars a flight.  Beautiful as it was, such costs accompanying such danger in a craft limited to a 150-600 miles in space maximum range was not feasible to continue beyond its thirty years of existence.

The answer in 2009 was not clear to anyone – except Elon Musk, and a progressively competitive group of visionaries. Innovation has always been the province of visionaries and Musk is the most visionary of visionaries, having created Pay Pal and Tesla as two examples of visions ‘people’ said could never be successful.  His most audacious leap was a company called SpaceX and he sees space as not only a commercial venture but the source of mankind’s eventual salvation.  If Earth is potentially not sustainable someday, then Mars may be where we evolve as a sustainable species.  Such over the horizon thinking has not kept him from decerning the answers to some of the current most vexing issues in space travel and industry, dominated most by its overwhelming cost.  The SpaceX view has been to achieve affordable and reproducible private solutions to the science problems of space, and he has fashioned an enviably American sheen to the innovation.  In developing the moon project, the consideration of re-usable boosters proved impractical, and success was eventually achieved through massive rocketry, rockets in multiple stages capable of only single use.  Each rocket was felt to require building from scratch with new parts as the old ones were disposed of in the previous flight.  In 2015 dollars Musk noted a multi-stage rocket capable of escaping the atmosphere required at minimum 60 million dollars of single use expenditure, with 70% of the cost involved in losing the first stage booster.  Musk identified this as the fatal flaw in any commercial enterprise as only governments can possibly absorb such waste.  He from the start considered reusability foundational and the SpaceX rocket creations have been ultimately designed to solve the reusablity problem.

The Falcon 9 reusable rocket vision

The Falcon 9 reusable rocket vision

Given the massive forces at work on a rocket it was thought that the idea that the boosters could be recovered and reused was a pipe dream.  The first attempts to land the booster seemed to prove out the difficulty:

The team at SpaceX was not deterred; nor could they afford to be.  Unlike a government agency with few timetables and minimal budget limitations, SpaceX had real private competition.  Jeff Bezos, a billionaire with deeper pockets than Musk and every bit the visionary, succeed in November in doing the improbable with his Blue Origin rocket booster, returning it intact to Earth.

Certainly the comparisons between the two rockets weren’t apples to apples.  Bezos’ rocket was designed for an atmosphere launch of people to 62 miles, with a lifting power of 100,000 pounds of thrust and a top speed of Mach 1.5.  SpaceX Falcon 9 is designed for low earth orbit above 100 miles, achieves over a million pounds thrust, and reaches speeds above Mach 5.5.  From such speeds it needs to return in a different trajectory without collapsing, right itself and control decent and land an infinitely heavier, thinner, and taller rocket full of explosive fuel.  Orders  of magnitude more difficult, but after all, Blue Origin had achieved a landing and the visionary Musk was potentially second best.  But through such challenges, real progress takes place.

On December 21st, 2015 Musk realized the space dream that had existed from the days of Jules Verne:

And now the game is on.  Private innovation has cracked the code of re-usablity with Musk annoucing the Falcon 9 sustained no damage  with re-entry and is ready to be used again.  The possiblity of a platform tens of millions cheaper than traditional vehicles for space makes a profit possible, and a profit drives more smart companies into the mix.

Thanks to Elon Musk, innovation is bursting out all over, and America is back in space to stay.

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Impressions

The year in review - the year going forward image batangamedia.com

The year in review – the year going forward       image batangamedia.com

The end of the year and the beginning of another always brings a group of lists. The ten best, the ten worst, the biggest trends, the new year’s resolutions, the people who have left us.  The one predictable thing about doing lists that predict future events in the year to come is that they are almost always uniformly wrong.  Our best understanding doesn’t remotely approach the effect of unknown forces, inventions, human responses and the ignorance of actions that truly define what happens. We can look back and chuckle at our awkward expert ‘nonsense’ when placed against the reality of outcome.  Pollster Frank Luntz, who is still churning data through focus groups in 2015, predicted in 2002 that the inevitable democrat party nominee to challenge George W. Bush for the presidency would be “Tom Daschle, Senate majority leader”. Tom Daschle who?  Noble Prize for economics winner Paul Krugman, persisting as an outstandingly wrong way prognosticator for the New York Times, put forth this whopper in 1998:

“The growth of the Internet will slow drastically, as the flaw in “Metcalfe’s law”–which states that the number of potential connections in a network is proportional to the square of the number of participants–becomes apparent: most people have nothing to say to each other! By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s.”

The predictions regarding science and innovation are particularly spurious. Take Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Nathan Myhrvold’s 1997 statement that “Apple as a company is already dead.” Apple of course is now worth three times the value of Microsoft.

Those of you who think the climate forecast can be accurately predicted a hundred years from now, might remember the 1970 Earth day predictions of University of California Davis Ecologist Kenneth Watt:

“The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”

Not exactly, Kenneth. But, in fairness, even Nostradamus didn’t get it all right. So, Ramparts is too smart by half to suggest the future, but it is fun perhaps to describe some impressions and directions  and see what happens – if we prove right, we told you so; if wrong, we can at least claim to be as clairvoyant as a Noble Prize winner like Krugman.

Trump-mania will be a spent force : This is a dangerous impression to start with, if our credibility is at stake.  The polls would suggest the Donald Trump as a political force continues to grow ever more so and all attempts to derail have simply strengthened him. But actual elections are why we do not have a President Giuliani, Glenn, Connally, or Hillary Clinton 2008. Trump’s major weakness as a political figure versus political celebrity is Trump.  His strength from day one has been his steadfastness as an anti-immigration candidate, and it will be his downfall.  Trump, to stay consistent, has had to throw ever wider circles around his anti-immigration invectives that started as reasonable, if infeasible stands regarding the southern border, into progressively ludicrous statements regarding, well just about everything.  Bellicosity works when you are convincing those who need no convincing, but as the field of competitors progressively narrows and you need to convince the skeptical voter, the ignorant, conflicting statements you espouse become a progressive problem. Trump needs victories or second place finishes in Iowa or New Hampshire, or bellicosity rapidly becomes a spent force.

2016 will be the ‘hottest’ year on record: It is the last year of the Obama administration and almost all the legacies, from Obamacare to World Peace,  are coming to an ignominious collapse.  The final legacy is global warming and the billions of dollars linked to securing this legacy demands that no matter what the weather, the measured year temperature will have to be the hottest ever.  The industry of settled science demands the narrative be preserved, and so it will be.  Put your thermostats away, next year’s temperature is already known, and it ain’t going to be reported going down.

Attendance at major  sports venues will be trending down:  Big sports and big money have permanently bonded and the direction is ominous for the entertainment value of sports.  Ticket prices continue to climb, team loyalty is drying up as teams are leaving for far more economic markets, and television access for the average fan will soon be pay only.  Instant replay is killing sorts spontaneity and sports as an omnivorous consumer of are youth is creeping down to the middle school level.  When the venue becomes contrived, and the outcome progressively economically determined, sitting in the stands will be a thing of the past.  Why bother to freeze to death, when your team has no chance and the game ticket costs a week of salary?  If the teams’ make money, whether you are there or not, the die is cast. The money will not be made on tickets supporting your team, but progressively on the internet fantasy teams.  Why be committed to a team when everyone’s players can be on your team?

Europe, America, and Russia will all see at least one major terrorist incident: This impression is one of the sadder, but easier, ones.  Europe and America are still enthralled with the concept of Frances Fukuyama’s End of History argument and the tragedies that have befallen them since are predictable in that history does not suffer denial easily. Unfortunately, when it comes to philosophic world views, Huntington’s the Clash of Civilizations looks like the more insightful recognition of the world around us. Until the liberal democracies wake up to the threat building against them, they will be vulnerable and prone to the next outburst, and it won’t be a little one.  Russia will suffer its tragedy because it is overextended as a world enforcer, at the precise time the homeland is vulnerable and weak, buffeted by stratospherically low energy prices that are the primary nutrient to its one asset economy.  Putin’s need to appear invulnerable will only increase his vulnerability.  Unfortunately, I think 2016 will be a good year for the bad guy.

The Arab Winter will claim at least one more government – Jordan, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia: Admittedly this is the most ‘out there’ impression, but the pattern has been established.  The Arab Spring was the hope of the Middle East joining the modern world, but the early momentum collapsed into the dangerous chaos of the Arab Winter currently fanning out from the calamity in Syria.  The ugly stepchild of the Arab Spring, ISIS, now threatens its Sunni providers in Saudi Arabia, and with the stalemate in Yemen and the collapse of oil prices, the sheiks are in a progressively intolerable vice.  Their response to the absent American presence has been to build a league of 37 Sunni nations to ‘defeat terrorism’, but it is really pointed at their sworn enemy Iran, and one wonders if the forward projection will make them vulnerable from within.  Jordan lives as long as Saudi Arabia can support it, and Egypt is at the same mercy.  If the there is no American support, the edifice of power will likely collapse from within in one or more of these countries, and the Middle East will become an even more unstable place (if that’s possible).

The strong foreign policy candidate will win the 2016 American presidential election:  The Trump phenomena reveals a progressive uneasiness in America regarding the future, and, God forbid,  a significant terrorist event were to occur, that would  seal the deal.The world abhors a vacuum and President Obama’s obsessive need to reduce America to an also ran, puts us squarely in the sites of those who would do us harm. The need for Hillary Clinton to tie herself to this progressively vulnerable foreign policy position will be her undoing, and it won’t be close if trouble occurs.

If Republicans do not win the Presidency, the party will split and cease as a national party:  The wins of 2010 to gain the house and 2014 to gain the Senate have reflected back as a complete waste of effort to the conservative voter.  The national party runs afraid of looking obstructionist and proved it again with a calamitous budget agreement that secured for President Obama and large business interests everything they wanted.  The final strike of losing the Presidential election will be the third strike, and conservatives will never again associate themselves with a party of spending apologists.  The threat that three parties will never knock the liberal agenda from power will be immaterial; the national Republican agenda has no respect for its base, and this with a loss, will be finally and justly reciprocated.

There I said it.  And when you say it on the internet, you say it forever.  Hopefully I’m no more accurate then the prognosticators that have had their impressions dashed upon the rocks of history.  The negative nature of my future impressions deserve a real rock dashing.  There just seems to be a sense that we are just hanging on, waiting for some sign that it is okay to be ourselves again, to be prosperous again, to be spiritual again, to be strong again as Americans.  It won’t be under this sad wisp of a President.  With a little luck, maybe we can survive his Presidency to thrive again under a truly positive force. America, it’s your last chance.  Don’t be fooled by the demagogue or the liar.  Anyone else, we got a chance.

 

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Happy Birthday, Frank

The Voice - Frank Sinatra

The Voice – Frank Sinatra

December 12th is the 100th year celebration of the birth of the scrawny kid from Hoboken that for all time is known as the Voice.  Ramparts has no intention to achieve some definitive coda to the gift that was Frank Sinatra to the world of song – the event of his centennial birth is bringing forth magnificent tributes that remind all of us the multi decade contribution of a singer that defined music, without ever being able to read a single note of it.  For instance, the don’t you dare miss contribution of Mark Steyn, writer extraordinaire who becomes even more extraordinary when he  focuses his story telling virtuosity to music.  Steyn has spent the past year detailing the wonderful contributions and stories behind Sinatra’s Greatest Hundred Songs(per Steyn).  Pick your own hundred favorite songs. There are hundreds to choose from. Sinatra’s treatments transcend almost anybody else’s  attempt to define the songs, and ring in our memories whenever we think of them.

They are the epic performances of one of music’s most complicated artists, who brought real meaning to the juxtaposition of true professional — and major pain in the rear.  Despite being borne of immigrant surroundings, minimal schooling, and the rawest of vocal training, he proved to be a performance perfectionist with legendary phrasing capabilities and a trinity of voices that included brassy tenor, mellow midrange and vulnerable baritone.  Musicians loved to perform with him and arrangers wanted to interpret with him. Almost no one wanted to cross him.  A smoker, drinker, and carouser, he treated his musical instrument, his magical voice with impudence, and in the late 1940’s nearly destroyed it forever. The gift recovered, however, and the 1950s and 1960s would prove that the vocal changes occasioned by the period of vocal chord failure made for an even more spectacular interpretive vocalization.  Sinatra, doing it his way,

Sinatra was of a time of song interpreters, and he was the best.  He drew out of Ira Gershwin, Sammy Kahn, Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, and Lorenz Hart and other great lyricists sound images that transformed their best works and raised the lyrics to the level of poetry with his phrasing and word play.  When tied to the great arrangers like Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Gordon Jenkins the music evoked real emotions and life enhancement.  You may not be able to live the life of Sinatra, but he would help you live yours, in brandishing exuberance for life, the pain of loss, the sensual nature of attraction, and the vulnerable sadness of the memories fading away.  The generations of Americans that grew up with him, the adoration Bobby Soxer teenagers of the 40s, the confident young adults of the post WWII America, the on top of the world masculinity of the 60’s, and the chastened and circumspect parents of the 70s all heard in Sinatra the chimes of their own story.

The most powerful memories that define musical Sinatra are the Capitol Record years with a mature Sinatra bringing his own peculiar mix of machismo and vulnerability to a string of albums that flexed between swinging exuberance and the depths of despair. Albums like Come Fly With Me, In the Wee Small Hours, and Nice and Easy. Sinatra knew how to swing better than anyone, and he knew how to breathe better than anyone, and it made both up tempo and extended ballads ring with peerless excellence.  He studied the lyrics and poured over the arrangements until they achieved a synthesis he could be happy with, and given his sense of accomplishment of task was achieved at a level that few could match,  for that, we will always be eternally grateful.

A performer always, he lingered in the 1980s and 1990s beyond what his vocal gift could bear, and the later performances are often gruff and at times, forgettable. But even late in life he could summon up greatness, in the life defining song My Way, or the late hit New York, New York.  In the final years, he might botch a lyric or forget a stanza, but he would pick himself off the mat and become Sinatra for at least one or two songs, and the audiences adored him.

Then again, we are all the sum of our best memories and Sinatra, at his best, made life seem just a little special. The Sinatra of the 1950s and 1960s, at the height of his vocal powers could crackle and sizzle like the ebullient and confident American Century he epitomized, and helped us feel there was a natural order to our optimism.  Given our current funk, Sinatra would  grab us and shake us, until we woke up and got it back together.  Emoting the words of Dean Kay, Sinatra would have set us right…

That’s Life
That’s what all the people say
You’re ridin’ high in April
Shot down in May
But I know I’m gonna change that tune
When I’m right back up on top in June…

Happy Birthday, Frank

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Saving the World : 2 Degrees Celsius

COP 21 - Paris Global Climate Conference 2015 photp : 24heuresactu.com

COP 21 – Paris Global Climate Conference 2015
photo : 24heuresactu.com

The world is meeting in Paris to discuss great threats to world stability and civilization, and it has nothing to do with the ongoing calamity in Syria, or the recent slaughters in Paris or San Bernardino.  The enemy is temperature – specifically rising temperatures – and the red line that the civilized world is willing to stand behind, to marshal all its resources, to form the greatest coalition the world has ever known to defeat the agreed upon greatest threat to the world we have known – is two degrees Celsius.  Climate change in all its described forms has progressively flexed its muscles the last 30 years on the concept of global warming, and the assurance that despite the multiple thousands of periods of global warming intervals in the past, this period of warming is special, human caused, and inexorable.  According to the missal, the world is warming out of proportion to every other climatic period, and the selected point of no return is 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.  The solution is to be government mandated regulation to save us from ourselves, and will require the greatest redistribution of wealth from private individuals to government coffers ever known.

The warmist in chief is the President of the United States, who has determined that the trends in warming are responsible for such defuse events as drought, hurricanes, economic downturns, and even terrorism.

“What we know is that — as human beings are placed under strain, then bad things happen,” Obama told CBS Friday. “And, you know, if you look at world history, whenever people are desperate, when people start lacking food, when people — are not able to make a living or take care of their families — that’s when ideologies arise that are dangerous.” – President Obama

The collected mass of sycophants in Paris will battle the rest of us who wish the world’s destruction by willing the world to accept the settled science.  CO2, the trace gas,  is the underlying satanic culprit having increased measurably over the last 100 years from the high two hundreds to 400 parts per million. CO2 of course is problematic in that it is an essential gas, critical to all living plants securing the means of making sugars through the process of photosynthesis making as byproducts  oxygen and water, essential for all living animals.  It is unfashionable however in that it is created by the greatest discovery for human individualism ever known, the identification of the byproduct of hundreds of millions of years of decaying organic matter forming carbon fuels. Carbon fuels have permitted the capacity of humans to live in hostile environments, develop economic vitality,  achieve individual comfort, create fantastic inventions in transportation, plastics, medicine, and information that have forever changed the world.  What carbon has done that can not be forgiven for, is creating a world of individual choice and initiative, and therefore, variation in outcomes between peoples.  This has proved more potent than any of the egalitarian philosophies meant to defeat individual choice, fascism, communism, and religious totalitarianism.

The final weapon available to the statists is to declare all the usual weapons of freedom, common sense, objective fact, and circumspection inviolate.  Despite the highly questionable sources of temperature measurement and the unfortunate lack of measurable warming over the past 18 years, now cloyingly referred to as the global warming hiatus, the continued alarm demands the painting of a future of sea levels 5 to 7 feet over current, massive droughts and increased weather severity, starvation, and wars.  It is the language of religious revelation, defining man as an original sinner that unless deflected from his sinful course, will invite the coming of the Apocalypse, engaging the end of man.  This was according to the prophet Al Gore, to have happened by 2015, but the prophecy has had to be discarded to a later date, because the climate did not cooperate with the alarmist projections.  So now the red line, the projected timeline is 2050, with the world by changing its entire economic and political conceptualization, will slow the current warming of 0.89 degrees Celsius over the last 100 years under the arbitrary tipping point of 2 degrees Celsius.

The statists came close to grabbing global economic power with the 1995 Kyoto treaty, but the ludicrous goals proved too onerous for established economies, and emerging nations saw it for what it was, a removal of their individual striving and improvement.  Every several years another attempt to own the future presents with massive governmental participation in world conferences, and now we have Paris.  The rational development of strategies for cleaning water, cleaner air, and efficient management of resources is not on the docket.  It is the need to own the future, and President Obama, so visibly deficient in managing every other tidal historical force, will go to the wall to own this future with the other statists who find the present world an untidy caldron of individualism, inequities, and uncontrollable initiative.

The statists never quit, until they own your future, and they will change the narrative until you believe, and finally submit.

Facebook_meme_Global_Cooling_11

 

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Fearing Modernity

The Future meets the Past

The Future meets the Past

Look anywhere around you in today’s unstable world and the strain of inexorable change and the reaction to it is a fundamental tenet of the instability.  This is certainly not a new phenomena but the current neurotic response is in many ways more universal based on the incredible speed by which change decimates in our electronic and global culture.  We are now not so much resistors to change as we are reactionaries.  The reactionary nature I think bleeds out of our superficiality, and our aversion to the hard work associated with being an individually unique soul , accepting the burden of attaching some meaning to our existence. We are unwilling to evaluate change as progressive or regressive based on deeper values, but rather instinctually and aggressively react to the very presence of different interpretations or opinions that would add to or depth of understanding.  We have become scared of our own shadow, because we are no longer interested in understanding how a shadow is formed.

The Industrial Revolution may have created the seeds of our current neuroses.  Prior to the power of industrial magic, distances for thousands of years were consistently understood.  We were limited by the speed of a running man or perhaps the horse he rode upon, the capability of sail across a body of water.  We hunted or grew our own food, or we lost the battle of survival from the lack of sustenance.  The power of steam and eventually the combustion engine however forced enormous change, rapidly reducing distances and placing goods and services into people’s homes without requiring the physical labor or risks associated with producing them.  We could now live and work distances from our survival supplies, in innumerable and creative ways that increased individual initiative and  incentive.  The increased capacities did not come about without a significant disillusionment that ‘old times’ and ‘old ways’ were somehow better, and more human.  Yet the concern about progress was weighed against the value to the individual – more goods were seen as better quality of life for more people, individual achievements were honored as indicative of the human spirit, horrors such as slavery and religious wars seemed anachronistic to a comfort with a ‘modern’ concept as to the primacy of individual thought and expression. With such benefits came the growth of reactionary impulses that feared the potential that one might fall behind progress, or simply be left outside looking in.

The examples as to our neurotic fear of other now expresses itself in many shades across cultures.  its common cord however is the unwillingness to judge ‘other’, not to the extent of its potential benefits to culture, but rather its very existence as a threat to a demand for an accepted normal.  Examples abound.

The concept of political correctness covers a universe of fear of other and the individualism it promotes.  Several decades ago, it was thought that individuals were capable of rationalizing controversial subjects and forming expanded and complex ideas about right and wrong. Television shows promoting such concepts, like All in the Family or Fawlty Towers used comedy to open our controversial prejudices to the light of discussion.  The Wall Street Journal reports that the BBC in today’s world attaches sensibility warnings to shows that may offend, and erases out Basil Fawlty’s more ‘objectionable’ discourse for fear ‘average’ people will be unable to digest the deeper truths.  The article further examines the  response by Yale professor Erika Christakis to an email put out by Yale University Intercultural Affairs Council to urge students to avoid certain Halloween costumes for their offending potential,  to frame an argument that individual expression that may even border on insensitive or obnoxious may actually promote the concept of vetting ideas through open debate.  The very idea that other viewpoints other than the accepted viewpoint by culturally progressive and politically correct councils brought an explosive fury upon the professor with threats of expulsion and violence.  No isolated event,   campuses across the country saw furious efforts to squash any form of speech that deviated from the accepted version of appropriate speech, and demanded the scalps of the identified non-conformists.

The campus thought police that look to stamp out free speech seek to eliminate any avenue for more complex thinking.  ‘Safe zones’ are being set up on campus where individuals can be assured all thinking is communal and reactionary, and the definitions of right and wrong can be uniform, so no one is confronted by change or their righteousness threatened.  Individual thought brings the potential of complexity and even personal growth – in essence threatens change to the status quo.

The fear of change created by individualism is the foundation of the histrionic demand for uniformity regarding supposed anthropogenic global warming.  The science must be accepted as settled, because to develop other theses is contrary to the avoidance of change.  Global warming hysteresis is based upon the concept that current climate is ideal, and any change must be avoided, regardless of cost. The acceptable costs to ‘control’ climate are the destruction of individual initiative, global redistribution of resources, and top down regulation of what qualifies as acceptable behavior.  The need to ignore the realities that carbon dioxide levels have fluctuated long before man was felt to influence them, that temperatures rose and fell over centuries independent of man’ influence, and that different climatizations incentivized different cultures over time is anathema to the elite’s demand for the cessation in climate change. No matter the accumulated resources of the entire globe would be insufficient to affect in minuscule fashion the actual climate of the planet; the very futileness of the effort would speak to its righteousness in the conceptualization of those who seek to destroy individual expression and avoid change.

In its final form, the fear of change that modernity brings through individual capability has lead to an enormously murderous force to avoid change.  The radical Islamist ideal of not even avoiding modernity for themselves,  but instead forcing reactionary concepts from the distant past to somehow revert the world to a previous reality speaks to its neurotic lack of self esteem.   Cloaked in supposed religious piety, the need to force conformance with seventh century concepts of slavery, female servitude, singular belief systems, and totalitarian justice implies a distortion of culture that even the seventh century would have had problems with.  The self actualization that religion provides in allowing an individual a deeper understanding of  a reason for being, is perverted by people who are offended by society’s lack of willingness to accept their own stilted inadequacies and respect for other.  The jihad of radical Islam is not an righteous argument for a life of higher piety.  It is an effort to use religion as an excuse to avoid individual actualization, for the fear that such an actualization would degrade them in God’s eyes, as much as their own.

We are living through a crisis of confidence in our own capacities as thinking beings to build a better world.  Perhaps this was inevitable when the very threats to life itself, starvation, disease, and poverty began to recede, and with them the common threat they presented to us equally.  We have had these crises before, out of which sprung the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, and the Age of Science to the positive development of the best that we are today.  Change is therefore not to be accepted or rejected, but rather dissected, understood and adjusted  for what it may mean to our own self development and progression as a species.  The current hysterical and violent reactionary nature speaks to our fear of the unknown and our desire to remain constant whatever the consequence.  Modernity is after all eventually only the ancient standard for another time to come.  As Yogi Berra so succinctly stated, the future ain’t what it used to be…”

 

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