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More Grease on the Slippery Slope

San Diego – For a long time some have argued that new attempts to move us away from any sense of traditional morality is not leading to anything but simply making us more tolerant.  After all, they argue, ideas of right and wrong are outmoded moralities of the past.

Others have argued that some new measure to give government more authority to control our lives and activities was not to establish a trend towards greater authoritarianism but simply a measure to help or protect us.  After all, they argue, we cannot really protect ourselves from the abuses of bad guys of all kinds that scam us out of our money, pollute our food, or want to do us harm.

Others have argued that in the end, our protections under the Constitution were protected because we could simply vote the offending law makers out.  After all, they argue, who would ever, in the land of the free, have the nerve to even suggest we disenfranchise the public?

But others have noted, with some alarm, that each measure that is allowed to pass under such guises adjusts and resets the base.  So, following a quiet period when folks adjust to the new normal, then another measure can and will be proposed to subtly further eradicate our cultural mores, traditions, and freedoms and thus each one is taking us farther over the edge of a “slippery slope” from which there may not be a retreat.

Alarmists?  Paranoiacs? Luddites?  Fuddy-duddies?  Perhaps, but let’s see what is happening right now, in Fall of 2011, on those slopes, slippery or otherwise.

California SB 48

Here is an interesting State Bill, ready to be signed into law by an approving governor which mandates that all social science curricula, including history books and other instructional materials, are to teach children as young as five not just to accept but also to endorse transgenderism, bisexuality, and homosexuality.

It does not get better the further your read it.  This bill does not allow parents who object to having their children exposed to this material to ‘opt out.’  Now, remember, parents who object to their children doing something as morally repugnant as reciting the pledge of allegiance to our country can opt out, but not from this.

The bill was represented to the public as a measure designed to stop bullying. But mysteriously, despite that goal, the actual text of the law never even mentions bullying.   Rather it openly seeks to regulate classroom instruction.  It does this by requiring  all public schools – including charter schools – to, in the Bill’s own words, “…include positive discussions of the sexual orientations of transgender, bisexual, and gay Americans in all social science courses.”  The sponsors have repeatedly asserted that SB 48 mandates this provocative material for California students in all grades from Kindergarten to High School.

As a parent does this strike you as a good thing for five year olds?  Or is it a case of the state mandating that the schools teach the official state philosophy?  And even if you agree with it, with this precedent set what is to prohibit it from mandating, at a later date, teaching something with which you fervently oppose?  This is not about whether or not you approve of those behaviors, truly that is irrelevant here; it is about whether or not you think that the State legislature has a right, on its own, to demand specific philosophical tenets be taught or prohibited in the schools.

Wisconsin Milk

This is a really good one.  Wisconsin, the “Dairy State” has the toughest regulations on raw milk use and sale in the country.  But now a Wisconsin judge has ruled that people in the Dairy State have no “fundamental right” to consume any food, own or use dairy cows or consume the milk their cows produce, without government permission.  Specifically, on page four of his ruling are found these points:

  • “Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd.”
  • “Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow.”
  • “Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to board their cow at the farm of a farmer.”
  • “Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice.”

You need to read those rulings very very carefully and try to align them with any vestige of a belief in freedom of property you may think still exists.  Without freedom of property, there really is no freedom at all.

Election Suspension Idea

What is one of the very first things autocrats do?  Right after they disarm the populace they suspend elections until they can figure a way to rig them to their own satisfaction.  This is a process repeated over and over throughout history.  Think it could never even be voiced here?

Think again.  Democratic Governor Beverly Perdue of North Carolina, who is headed for defeat in 2012, created quite a stir recently when she said at the Rotary Club in Cary, North Carolina:

I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them — whatever decisions they make — to just let them help this country recover.  I really hope that someone can agree with me on that.  You want people who don’t worry about the next election.

Remember a few posts ago I wrote and then wrote again that the issue is about FREEDOM and with it the very heart of what made America great, warts, scars, and all.  Certainly not perfect but a place that most of the rest of the world wanted to come to and partake of our culture of opportunity.  But opportunity can only exist in an environment of freedom.

Want to give up some more of the freedoms you thought were all shared by Americans and protected by the Constitution?  Here are just three chances for you to do that by supporting these actions.  And don’t even begin to think these three examples exhaust the efforts being undertaken to remake this country into something very different than the place that became that “shining city on the hill.”

These people, from King Barrack on down, do sincerely believe that this transformation needs to take place.  They despise what we are and see it is anathema to their visions for such philosophical concepts as “social justice” and fairness.  We are in the midst of perhaps the most important debate and conflict this country has ever faced.  The civil war was simply to peel off some of our territory and not to transform the entire country; but  this is.  If you believe that the direction this is leading is not a good thing for us then as never before it is time to get involved.

And if you truly believe that we should become Democratic Socialists like much of Europe then you have the right to lobby for that change.  You do not have the right, however, to throw away the Constitution, the national rule book, until you have, by the processes enumerated in it, changed the rules.  To the extent that you try to circumvent those rules, you have made of me a serious opponent.

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Posted by on October 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The Terms Change but the Issue Remains “Freedom”

San Diego – A few posts ago I showed how virtually all of the “freedoms” we take for granted or which are granted us by the Constitution are really all based on the results of a core freedom, the economic freedom that is attached to the Capitalist economic model.  Whenever and wherever that model is diminished, it comes at the price of some freedom or other.  The question continually then is “What Price Freedom?” or, put another way, how much freedom are you willing to give up for what appears to be (or is described to you as) an economic  benefit.  Are you, for example, willing to give up freedom to be taken care of by the government and not have to worry about supporting yourself?  Clearly, a lot of people are quite ready to make that decision in the affirmative.  Are you?  You are about to get the chance…

Some of you are old enough to remember when, in the presidential elections, in addition to the main stream candidates we also a gaggle of other office seekers including Gus Hall running on the Communist Party Ticket for four unsuccessful tries.  For some reason, lesser known among the “also rans” was Norman Thomas who ran on the Socialist Party ticket for six attempts at the presidency. it was over 40 years ago that Mr. Thomas issued the following boast…

 “The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened.”

Of course we have had socialist elements in our government since Woodrow Wilson.  A huge leap toward a socialist economy was undertaken by FDR using the crisis of WWII as an excuse and cover.  But the post war euphoria and boom, along with the wide-spread realization of where communism (the upper or later stages of socialist development according to Marx and Lenin) actually took a country due to a fairly clear view of the Soviet Union afforded by the war, its appeal waned as we soaked up the growth and prosperity of a capitalist society.

But memories fade, and a populace softens through generations of wealth and ease.  Remember ‘wealth’ and ‘poverty’ are comparative terms and a person on the poverty level in the US is far better off than middle class citizens in much of the world.  In many of the poorest neighborhoods in the US citizens have a working automobile and TV while in the Soviet Union, even though they made cars, you could not just go into a showroom and buy one and older cars were, as in Cuba, kept, maintained, and treasured since new ones were not available except to the elites.

But even though his economic philosophies have an unbroken history of failure, Marx was right in at least one sense, people have short memories and as soon as a parasitic class arises under the noses of the almost willfully ignorant upper classes, the situation is ripe for a change.  It is my belief that we are at that point right now.  We are being led by a person whose early years were modeled by a father who thoroughly embraced the centrally planned and commanded economy of the pure Marxist-Leninist ideology.  And in adult life he sat for 20 years under the teachings of a theology that taught the fundamentals of victimization and the socialist economical ideas of Marx framed in the more commonly palatable terms of liberalism and progressivism.  He is now using the debt and unemployment crisis for cover for the class conflict rhetoric just as FDR used WWII.

And no, before we go on let me clear the air on this one… I do not believe Obama created the debt crisis; it has been growing for years under several Presidents.  But he certainly has made it far worse and I think that escalation has not been simply a case of mismanagement by a bumbling idiot as some claim, but a carefully thought out strategy to accomplish an end he clearly annunciated but we chose to spin as best suited our own desires, not as he meant it.  We did not take him at his word because the words spoke something untenable so we interpreted them to fit our own needs.  And that was a huge mistake.

The liberals, who are putting all their faith in the Thomas prediction, mask it by calling anyone who uses the term “socialism” some wild-eyed loon or conspiracist. They know exactly what the term means but are relying on the extremely good odds that most of the population does not.  In our TV-drained minds socialism is socialism is socialism and all some thing other countries do, not us.  But that is a fatally flawed view and has never been the case.

From William Godwin, Robert Owen, Henri de Saint-Simon, down through Marx, Engels, Lenin, Wilson, Stalin, FDR, and Mao, the core concept of an economic system in which the means of production are either owned by the state or by the state in common with the citizens and are controlled cooperatively (meaning the State has a role in the command and control of the various means of production) has been expanded into various flavors from pure Marxist-Leninist, to even a variant known as libertarian socialism.  Most differ primarily in the degree of cooperation between the government and the people in controlling the means of production.  But most modern versions fall into one of two camps (or some blending of the two: “State Socialism” and “Social Democrats.”.

Those favoring “State Socialism” are in favor of the State owning and operating all of the means of production. However, those calling themselves “Social Democrats” favor public (read, “government”) control of capital and the means of production but within the broad outlines of a market-based economy.  That system, sometimes called “Market Socialism” includes various economic systems where the means of production and resulting capital are publicly owned, managed and operated for a profit in a market economy. The difference between that and capitalism is that capitalists prefer private ownership of production and the profit in a market socialist system would be used to directly remunerate employees or go toward public finance (i.e. the government) to distribute as they will.

However, to Marx and his followers, these were not separate ideologies but rather part of a continuum which, starting with a people in a revolutionary “moment” in time, progressed through the “Social Democracy” state to “State Socialism” and finally as the process unfolded, to pure “Communism.”  Is was not simply a slippery slope to him and his followers but the natural progression of economic history.

I would suggest that the assertions of Mr. Thomas are unfolding precisely as he expected and, further, that in accordance with that prophecy we are now being led further down the path; not by some wild Stalinist tyrant but by a person who has, based on his history and education, come to believe it is, in the most benign sense, where we ought to be headed for the good of all.  He believes this so strongly and thoroughly that he is willing to sacrifice another term in order to lay an inescapable groundwork for that, to him, inevitable, evolution — not because he is a bad guy, but because he sincerely and fervently believes America, as he found it, was a bad place and one he wanted to transform into a place more like what he believes a good place should be.

But I disagree.

This is still America, a place where competing ideas are supposed to be welcomed, discussed, analyzed, and voted on.  So having someone present his views is quite OK, after all Gus Hall and Norman Thomas did that for years in a very public run for the Presidency.  At least, that is, until Mr Thomas realized, as he noted in his quote, that the proper path to his goals was not through open presentation but by subterfuge and deceit.

We can even ignore that the ultimate end of that desired evolution into communism, even from the Market Socialism starting point, results in a system where there is common (meaning governmental) ownership of both the means of production and the capital being generated and, theoretically, free access to the articles of consumption.  Of course history has shown us in examples from Russia to Cuba to Venezuela to China how that always — always — devolves into an autocratic authoritarian despotic government.   Nevertheless we can continue to ignore that history and vote as if there wwas not a long line of precedents to evaluate.

Marx foresaw a superabundance of the articles of consumption under his system but historical experience has shown us that human nature simply does not respond to that idea and the result has inevitably and without exception been shortages of nearly everything and what does exist being manufactured in the shoddiest of ways. But we can set aside our memories, if we still have them, of life in the Soviet Union and its client states and how that jibes with our own American ideas as to how life should be.

After all, we, as a still free people are still free to argue for the various systems we think would best serve the country.  It is the President’s right to argue for his perspective as it is my right to disagree and oppose it. But in a few months his and my opinions will be subsumed into the collective opinions of the voting citizens of this country.  I believe another four years in the direction we are now headed will prove to be a huge economic disaster if, indeed, that disaster has not already been set in motion.  He believes that doing more of the same as he has done for the past years will solve it.  But as more and more “push back” is coming from the citizenry, he is now taking to calling those who disagree with him “unpatriotic” and playing to the victim, parasitic mentalities of those who want to be taken care of.

If you believe in his vision then you have the right to vote for him to continue on his path.  And who knows, perhaps he will be the first benevolent tyrant of the US and also the first one to ever, in the history of the world, to make a socialist economic model work.  Time alone will tell.  I could not possible disagree more with his world view and his policies and those who believe, as I do, that he is trying to transform this country into something I do not want for it, will vote for someone else almost out of desperation.  Once again I may be forced to vote, not FOR someone, but AGAINST someone.  What a tragedy.

But one thing is sure… this is set to become a most interesting next couple of years… it is nothing less than the issue of Freedom at stake.  No, not in the short term and that is the problem.  Americans are not long term thinkers, not chess players, in fact not even particularly good checkers players anymore.  Short term bottom line thinking has ruined businesses, ruined the economy, and now is working away at the country itself.  So the question is, does a short term increase at the level of slop in the feed trough seem worth giving away more of your freedoms?  Or not?

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Bottom Line: It’s About FREEDOM, Stupid!

San Diego – We are pretty much launched into the Campaign “Silly Season” leading up to the next Presidential election in 2012.  There will also be senatorial and congressional seats being contested.  Now we will be inundated by blather from politicians far more interested in keeping their cushy and powerful jobs than in doing what is best for the country.  The old jokes about lying and disingenuous politicians will once again be shown clearly to have a solid basis in fact and we will be called upon to make choices based on rhetoric customized for the moment and distractions tossed in the way to keep us from actually trying to separate bloviation from behavior and determining not what they SAY but what they are likely to DO based on what they likely BELIEVE.  That is, of course, IF, in fact, they believe in anything other than the importance of their keeping their job.

Some of those Red Herring distractions will actually refer to real issues but issues which are not life or culture threatening no matter how passionately some follow them.  I believe, however, that our country is facing a truly existential crisis and allowing these distractions is like Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

Some issues, of course, will be quite important but are usually couched in language so complex and purposefully obfuscatory as to make a thoughtful analysis nearly impossible in a country peopled by folks who predictably cannot pass a 5th grade equivalency test or a high school civics test and yet who line up to select our leadership and by extension, in our republican form of governmental structure, our direction for the next several years at least.

The people in those “people of WalMart” internet collections, the morons who derive self awarded macho points for bucking lines, the people at the retail counters who cannot even count change, and the survey takers who do not know what country we fought for our independence or when that happened, will go to the polls to determine directly and indirectly matters of national economic and security and educational issues.  Worse, many are gullible recipients of the latest class warfare tactics designed to scare the bejesus out of old folks and tug on our heartstrings to care for “the children” (insert sound of s sniffle) and the “less fortunate.”

For the most part they are all lies.  We are now being purposefully frightened by the President about Social Security as he blithely overlooks the law that separates it from the budget process and mandates its benefits be paid no matter what or until congress changes the law itself.  But already people have fallen for it and are in a state of panic.

And to muddy the waters entirely, each candidate is calling the other candidates liars and evil people out to bring chaos and mayhem on us all.  While all too often that is true, the problem is how do you know which is which?  For the brain dead true believer, is it simple: whose party is the candidate affiliated with?  Some look back to a time or even a single incident sponsored by a party that worked in their favor and forever after closed their minds and eyes to subsequent actions and were never, in the first place, willing to look more deeply into the likely or possible consequences, intended or not, of those actions on our country as a whole.

I think, though, that is the kind of one-dimensional, abjectly stupid non-thinking that has gotten us in the mess we are in.  So, in my opinion, we need a much simpler way of looking at the behaviors and words of those telling us they know best how we should lead our lives and spend our money.  I would, therefore, propose a single, specific criteria because it is the one that permeates ALL of the others and is, in fact, foundational to the individual and collective discourse on all political issues.  And that is this:

Where do they stand on F R E E D O M?

I’m not talking about “Freedom” in some abstract, philosophical sense, but instead real, tangible, viewable, actionable freedom for the individuals that make up the citizenship of this country. (And no, I do not think non-citizens share our rights just because they are standing on our shores.)  It is the core concept on which we were founded and the value that was our guiding principle for at least the first half of our existence as a country.

But it is being undermined and outright attacked on both overt and covert levels, and in one way or another by both parties.  And this coming election may be the one that most defines how we will pursue that concept of Freedom into the future.  One side wants to have the freedom for themselves to tell us what is best for us and keep us in line by making us dependent upon their largesse and good will.  I am virulently opposed to the attitude and philosophy that supports such an outlook because I think it is anathema to any construct of “Freedom.”  When we toss away our freedom we will have ceased to become Americans.

However, to achieve the type of Freedom envisioned in our Constitution and in the writing of our founders, we actually need to embrace several constituent freedoms so let’s take a look at them and also a look at interpreting how politicians really feel about them, not from their words but from their actions.

Economic Freedom

The foundational freedom that determines the types and even existence of our other freedoms is really financial/economic.  And the political question boils down to a very, very simple one:  Does your political leader want you have the unfettered freedom to apply your efforts and skills to earn (whatever is passing for money at the moment) to the extent those skills and efforts allow?

There are a few corollary questions as well.  if they institute the programs they seem to support, will you have the freedom to apply those skills and efforts toward EXPANDING your capabilities and therefore expanding your return?  Are you being offered the freedom to determine how YOU wish to apply the results of your own labor and skills?  Will you or they determine how much of your own labor you can keep and how much of your labor will be used to support those who do not wish to labor as you have?  Will they allow and encourage your own philanthropy or will they impose it on you to carry those who will happily take it rather than solve their own situations (and thereby become very loyal voting blocks for those doling out the goodies to them)?

The complete opposite of Freedom is dependency.  Too often people think power is a result of money, but that is not true and never has been.  Money can be, instead, a by-product of power (as well as the result of intelligence and hard work), but power itself derives exclusively from dependency.  Think about it; if I can make you dependent on me for something important to you then I have power over you.

Machiavelli knew this and so does every actual or want-to-be autocrat who ever lived.  So the very first question to ask yourself about a politician running for office is this, “Are they trying to convince me that I need to depend on them for something?”  Or are they promising to give you the tools to become dependent only on yourself?  If it is the former then run from them as fast as possible; freedom is attached only to the latter approach.

And how is this Freedom taken away?  Simple, as history has demonstrated over and over: destroy the currency and enhance the debt until only bankruptcy or hyper inflation can keep things afloat…for awhile.  And how does that find explanation in various political philosophies?  Socialism allows private ownership of the means of production but has the government control it; in essence tell the nominal owners how to run their businesses.  Communism takes it one small step further and nationalizes (by fiat or purchase) businesses so that the means of production are both owned and run by the government.

So ask yourself what all those unelected “Czars” are doing to the means of production and apply it to the goals of the various political philosophies and their attached economic theories and see for yourself what the underlying if unspoken goals really are.

Remember, a benign dictator is still a dictator.  Solon and Pericles of Greece were benevolent but were replaced by not so wonderful regimes.  Some of Rome’s Caesars did some good things to be sure, but is that slave-based, war and tribute-based, arena sated world one in which you would enjoy living?

Personal Behavior Freedom

The old joke was that conservatives wanted to control your life in the bed room and and liberals wanted to control your life in the board room.   But we were founded by thinkers who gave us a Constitution that said we were free to do almost anything that did not harm someone else.  So long as we did not endanger others we should be able to control our own lives in ANY room, especially in the privacy of our homes or within the confines of our own businesses. You have an “absolute”right to swing your arms but that right stops at the end of my nose.  You have “absolute” freedom of speech but are not allowed to yell, “FIRE!” in a crowded theater.  You have the “absolute” freedom to openly worship any deity you want but you may not force that belief on someone else nor can you do harm to them because of their beliefs. You have a right to own a weapon and defend yourself with it but you do not have a right to carry that use to the point of becoming the aggressor yourself once the threat is stopped. And on it goes, all getting to the same point: you can behave pretty much as you want so long as it does not cause harm to someone else.

Or so it was intended…

But that freedom has been eroded by people who believe they should be protected from being offended as well as from being hurt.  it has been eroded by people who think they need to be even protected from their own stupidity.  Anyone who supports that idea is diminishing personal freedom and trying to create the dependencies of those who are hiding from potential offense or need to be protected from their own failures and errors.  And in my opinion are, with that purpose, killing our country and our ideals of personal freedom which also entails the costs of those freedoms.  We were, like life, all about choices and consequences.  But now we are suffering from the tyranny of so many who want the government to protect them from their own choices and behavior.  My advice to them is simple: get a life or go elsewhere!

So where do your political idols stand on this freedom?  Look to their actions and if they are already in office, their votes.  Listen to their speeches yourself, read their books yourself and do not rely on how other people interpret them good or bad.

Personal Thought and Expression Freedom

Only in the most egregious dictatorships was thought the subject of control.  Orwellian horrors accompany every story, real or fantasy, of dictators who attempt to control thought.  And yet it is done every day by politicians who cajole you into thinking as they want you to think and into giving up your rights and abilities to think, analyze, and draw conclusions for yourself.  Those people control thought as much as any fictional “Big Brother” and given enough power will soon quit being subtle about it.

We see this every time some self anointed enlightened person suggest the people do not or cannot “get it” so have to be told what to think or, better yet, simply allow the politicians to do the thinking for them.  King Barrack told us this just this week over the budget/debt issues. The sad news is he has every reason to believe that and in fact is a major beneficiary of it.  But if you are tired of it and want to prove him and the other politicians relying on your ignorance of the situation du jour wrong, then it is all in your hands.  and all you have to do is start researching the data — it is out there and easy to find.

We are supposed to be a republic, a representational form of government.  Not a pure democracy but one in which we elect a subset of us to represent us and pass laws to our mutual and collective benefits.  So are they doing as you want or expected or as promised?  Are things getting better as they promised would happen or are they trying to tell you that if it seems worse then you are just not thinking about it correctly or clearly and they know better?

Personal Security Freedom

Are you feeling safe in your homes and person?  The constitution guarantees that.  But like all freedoms there are limitations: you can lose it by threatening the security of someone else.  As noted before we have the right of self defense but that right does not allow us to cross the line into becoming the aggressor ourselves.

Be very, very wary of any politician who asks you to trade freedom for security.  It is always a bad trade.  They are usually building dependencies.  if you are truly free you have the freedom to make yourself secure in a world where when seconds may count the police can be there in mere minutes…

Following the French Revolution, Robbespierre wrote a brilliant and impassioned essay showing how, for the good of the state and the security of the revolution, citizens needed to give up some freedoms.  THe result was the infamous “Reign of Terror” with people marched in full carts to Madame La Guillotine because they did not think in accordance to proscribed philosophies.  The National Socialist parties of Germany and Italy and the Communist parties of Russia and China routinely executed people wholesale for thinking wrongly.  do not for a moment think it can not happen here.  Already people can be ostracized or even fired for politically incorrect thinking.  There are not that many steps between firing and firing squad.

So where does your favorite politician stand on that issue based on actions not on rhetoric?  Do they attempt to stifle opposition, clamp down on dissenting voices all the time mouthing platitudes about free speech and intellectual freedom?

The Freedom to Fail

Several times I’ve mentioned the freedom to opt out — to fail — and pay the consequences.  It is only when that Freedom to Fail is alive and well that the other freedoms find any real motivation and reward and personal growth.  in a frightening way, Marx was right in some ways.  Human nature is such that human behavior rapidly reverts to its infantile attitudes of ego-centric world views after a fairly short period of being taken care of by the parent or State.  Democracy, and its underpinnings of capitalism, form a very fragile system maintained with difficulty only by the strong because it is under constant attack by the accumulated masses of the weak.

Freedom is so precious because we also have the freedom to kill it or toss it away.  Ronald Reagan said,

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free… for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

I personally believe we are headed in that awesome and horrible direction towards loosing freedom because our nature is such that too many soft sheets and safe nights have passed and we have forgotten, as a culture, what the lack of freedom was like, what it costs, and perhaps even, to some extent, what it means.

We seem to like and, if recent polls are correct, gravitate towards the public trough because we do not truly understand what we are giving up to get it.  We are soft, afraid, unwilling to stand for anything and so, as the song says, we then fall for anything in order to maintain the flow of goodies.  In short we are making ourselves dependent on people who have only their own interests at heart and neither ours nor the country’s apart from how it serves their own interests.  And that problem crosses party lines with ease.

Of course they would never phrase it like that because then we would all instantly “get it” and push back.  so rather, under the sweetest most patriotic rhetoric they lull us into granting them the powers that once were embodied in our own freedoms to think, do, and work for ourselves.  We are now facing upcoming choices that will have a direct effect on our retention of freedoms.  At this point we have gotten far off of the path of freedom but we can return to it with only some figurative bloodletting politically and some serious sacrifice by the citizens.  But if we continue to lose it, we will soon reach a point where it cannot be recovered except by action, if it can be recovered at all.  And then it will take what it took in the late 1700s; a real revolution.

Nothing could be more unsettling than that thought because no one ever knows how revolutions will turn out even if they are successful.  Our own revolution, which was really less a revolution than a war of independence, concluded with a virtually unique result in the world’s history of revolutions.  Without the leadership of those founding thinkers it is impossible to have high hopes that we could do it again.  We can maintain our freedoms easily at the voting booth.  But once lost, they can only be recovered by the same price that  gained them in the first place, blood; and by the same people: soldiers.

In 1970 Charles Province wrote a few lines that expressed it well.  (Historical note: his poem was submitted to  “Dear Abby” by a marine Chaplain who was given (but never claimed) credit for authoring it.)  No matter who really wrote it, the message is important and vital for us to understand, not only to give thanks in the right direction for our Freedoms but to understand what the price will be should we throw it away politically and then want to reclaim it.

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

It is up to us now.  Time alone, and not very much of it, will tell if we are still strong enough or wise enough to reclaim the freedoms that once were ours.  if you want to retain freedom you will have to put some energy and time into it.  That is tough, but not nearly so tough as having to put your blood into it.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Isolationism vis-a-vis Afghanistan and Pakistan

San Diego – There is a huge difference between being an “Isolationist” and someone who believes that it is not in our best or lasting interests to keep poking around in business or affairs of other countries.  In this one thing, at least, i tend to agree with the words in King Barrack’s speech yesterday.  That distinction appears to be lost on the media and also on the public for whom labels, especially simplistic ones, are needed to define their views of the world in the face of an utter lack of knowledge sufficient to make an informed and meaningful analysis.

The true isolationist wants to essentially build a wall around the country and become utterly self sufficient and apart from the rest of the world.  Perhaps there was a time when that was possible, whether or not it was wise.  Not even Switzerland, famed for its neutrality and avoidance of foreign entanglements, attempts that sort of isolation.  But to be a good neighbor often means staying out of others’ business even when that business is confusing or abhorrent to you.  Somewhere between true isolationism and wanting to be the policeman of the world is a wiser more sustainable approach.

Whether we like it or not, we are part of a larger world in which global economies and State politics have an impact on our lives and fortunes for good or for ill.  So, inconvenient as it may be for us, we simply cannot pull out of the world as if we all lived on another planet and could simply watch and snicker at the interplay of ego and idiocy happening before us.  Treading that extremely fine line between protecting true national interests and trying to impose our will on others, tracking wisely between an understanding of the needs and sensitivities of other states not as lucky as ours in terms of defense capabilities, and a complete dismissal of those other views seeing them as enemies or potential enemies when they do something we think is counter to our own interests, requires serious leadership and wisdom… neither of which seems to be available to us at the moment.

A major case in point is Pakistan and Afghanistan. One-dimensional pundits on both left and right want us to just get the heck out if we are not willing to fight to win.  Well, to be fair, those in the left want us out period.  And i have argued that we should never engage militarily ANYwhere unless we are willing to go all out to win.  But the bottom line is the same.  And further, many on the right want to somehow punish Pakistan for seeming to work against us in the war against the islamists and the Taliban.  Once again, small minds see only the small picture and can get their minds around only the simplistic answers.  If only the world were that simple and straight forward.

Below are several paragraphs excerpted from an Intel Report from Stratfor on the situation that explains the bind we and the Pakistanis have created for ourselves. (This was presented before the President’s speech on the drawdown.)

“Sept. 11, 2001, posed a profound threat to Pakistan. On one side, Pakistan faced a United States in a state of crisis, demanding Pakistani support against both al Qaeda and the Taliban. On the other side Pakistan had a massive Islamist movement hostile to the United States and intelligence services that had, for a generation, been intimately linked to Afghan Islamists, first with whole-hearted U.S. support, then with its benign indifference. The American demands involved shredding close relationships in Afghanistan, supporting an American occupation in Afghanistan and therefore facing internal resistance and threats in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“The Pakistani solution was the only one it could come up with to placate both the United States and the forces in Pakistan that did not want to cooperate with the United States. The Pakistanis lied. To be more precise and fair, they did as much as they could for the United States without completely destabilizing Pakistan while making it appear that they were being far more cooperative with the Americans and far less cooperative with their public. As in any such strategy, the ISI and Islamabad found themselves engaged in a massive balancing act.

“U.S. and Pakistani national interests widely diverged. The United States wanted to disrupt al Qaeda regardless of the cost. The Pakistanis wanted to avoid the collapse of their regime at any cost. These were not compatible goals. At the same time, the United States and Pakistan needed each other. The United States could not possibly operate in Afghanistan without some Pakistani support, ranging from the use of Karachi and the Karachi-Khyber and Karachi-Chaman lines of supply to at least some collaboration on intelligence sharing, at least on al Qaeda. The Pakistanis badly needed American support against India. If the United States simply became pro-Indian, the Pakistani position would be in severe jeopardy.

“The United States was always aware of the limits of Pakistani assistance. The United States accepted this publicly because it made Pakistan appear to be an ally at a time when the United States was under attack for unilateralism. It accepted it privately as well because it did not want to see Pakistan destabilize. The Pakistanis were aware of the limits of American tolerance, so a game was played out.

“That game is now breaking down, not because the United States raided Pakistan and killed bin Laden but because it is becoming apparent to Pakistan that the United States will, sooner or later, be dramatically drawing down its forces in Afghanistan. This drawdown creates three facts. First, Pakistan will be facing the future on its western border with Afghanistan without an American force to support it. Pakistan does not want to alienate the Taliban, and not just for ideological reasons. It also expects the Taliban to govern Afghanistan in due course. India aside, Pakistan needs to maintain its ties to the Taliban in order to maintain its influence in Afghanistan and guard its western flank. Being cooperative with the United States is less important. Second, Pakistan is aware that as the United States draws down, it will need Pakistan to cover its withdrawal strategically. Afghanistan is not Iraq, and as the U.S. force draws down, it will be in greater danger. The U.S. needs Pakistani influence. Finally, there will be a negotiation with the Taliban, and elements of Pakistan, particularly the ISI, will be the intermediary.

“The Pakistanis are preparing for the American drawdown. Publicly, it is important for them to appears independent and even hostile to the /united States in order to maintain their domestic credibility. Up to now, they have appeared to various factions in Pakistan as American lackeys. If the United States is leaving, the Pakistanis can’t afford to appear that way anymore. There are genuine issues separating the two countries, but in the end, the show is as important as the issues. U.S. accusations that the government has not cooperated with the United States in fighting Islamists are exactly what the Pakistani establishment needs in order to move to the next phase.”

Into this quagmire steps our benighted leader.  True, he did not creat it, the hated Bush Demon created it by allowing the mission to creep beyond simply stopping Afghanistan from allowing Al Qaida and other islamist/jihadists a training ground and base from which to attack us and into a full blown campaign to stabilize a nation ruled by systemic corruption that would make the Mexican Authorities look like choir boys. He leads from a position of experiential ignorance and in opposition to the military’s assessment of what is needed. (The military wanted to at least complete the 2012 fighting season before drawing down but that extends into September and did not give the political impact needed by the President for his campaign.)

The pull out period, due to both the timing and the advanced notice to the enemy will be an extremely dangerous period for our troops and very much unlike Iraq where an agreement was reached with the Sunni insurgents.  Unfortunately no such agreement currently exists with the Taliban.  And without it, Pakistan is an incredibly important piece in the puzzle as the quickest routes of retreat for all of the heavy metal that cannot easily be airlifted out is over the Khyber Pass region and into their country.

This administration has continued and expanded the Bush Demon’s initial goals into ones clearly impossible and now added to the military problems by announcing when we were leaving so the enemy can simply prepare for it and as our force dwindles to some critical mass, pounce and show the world clearly an important symbolic message that (a) the U.S. once again ran with its tail between its legs when the going got touch, (b) they could deliver major blows to this paper tiger, and (c) send a message that no one in history has STILL managed to defeat and control that region.

Just as with our economic problems, the polarized factions in our own government have so muddied the water as to make any clean end-game impossible.  Preferring going to the wall to maintain their own ideological views and seat at the table, no matter how shortsighted or counterproductive, they have been willing to sacrifice the well being of the country. There are no innocent parties here and no good sides to take anymore.  Our dear leaders have sidestepped plans that might, at one point, have solved things with some but minimal pain and reached a point where there are no good solutions left only extremely painful ones for us all, and even the tentative steps being suggested are too often proposed for all the wrong reasons and to make sure it is “them” who suffers and not “us.”  .

In a previous post asking whose side we were on, I provided the math to show what the real impact of this pull out will be on our economy if ALL military budgets now requested for the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan were eliminated.  Bottom line; it will not make even a small dent in the deficit, much less the debt.

We are no longer a country of Chess Players.  indeed we are no longer a country of Checkers Players.  In fact it would seem as if our “brilliant” leaders could not predictably win a game of Old Maid against the nearest potted plant.  The only strategic game our dear leader seems competent at is national Russian Roulette.  Thus far, Stratfor’s assessments have been spot on.  in this instance if they are even close (I encourage you to read it all from the link below) then the speech our Dear Leader gave yesterday was simply delusional especially since his own intel people are telling pretty much the same story as Stratfor.

Here again, ideology trumps reality.  And once again it adds fuel to my ugly conclusions that we are being slowly brought to our knees from within so we can be rebuilt in the Dear One’s image.  He even said as much when he said we should not be Nation Building” elsewhere but needed to do “Nation Building” here.  But we have a nation… oh wait, this is not the worker’s paradise of a nation into which King Barrack openly wishes to transform us.  For that, we must build a NEW nation, right after we effectively destroy this one.  Meantime, does that not run counter to Libya?

John Quincy Adams wrote that,

“… our task is to be the advocate for liberty everywhere, but the defender of ours alone.

Jim Webb, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy and now a Democrat Senator said, relative to the attack against Libya,

“Was our country under attack, or under the threat of imminent attack? Was a clearly vital national interest at stake? Were we invoking the inherent right of self-defense as outlined in the United Nations charter? Were we called upon by treaty commitments to come to the aid of an ally? Were we responding in kind to an attack on our forces elsewhere, as we did in the 1986 raids in Libya after American soldiers had been killed in a disco in Berlin? Were we rescuing Americans in distress, as we did in Grenada in 1983? No, we were not.”

i increasingly think we are under sttack.  But it is not from the middle east!

Here is the link to the complete Stratfor intel report i quoted from above.

U.S. and Pakistan: Afghan Strategies is republished with permission of STRATFOR

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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