Thursday, April 16, 2009

Musings of an Extremist

As pretty much anyone with a pulse is aware, several "stories" have hit the news over the past few days which jangle right-leaning nerves. I have refrained from comment, trying to digest exactly what to make of them. Are they legitimate stories, or are they just bogus, trumped up non-events, red meat slung out to create a spectacle of snarling political lions? I still don't know. I don't like to wallow in the spectacle of the sordid circus that passes for our national government these days, mainly because it is just a circus, designed to absorb our energies and attentions. Attention is just what it seeks and only lends an air of legitimacy to the illegitimate, but I suppose it is time to comment. A document was released by the DHS concerning potential threats from "right-wing extremism." It discusses recent "developments" which apparently lead the leadership of the DHS to believe that the those on the right of the political spectrum pose a threat to the government of the United States. It lists several behaviors which it has observed as evidence of this phenomenon, such as:
Many rightwing extremist groups perceive recent gun control legislation as a threat to their right to bear arms and in response have increased weapons and ammunition stockpiling, as well as renewed participation in paramilitary training exercises.
I loved this gem:
Antigovernment conspiracy theories and “end times” prophecies could motivate extremist individuals and groups to stockpile food, ammunition, and weapons.
I know I'm guilty. This has received a LOT of commentary, most of it precisely what one would expect: hacked off right-wingers complaining that the government is conspiring against them. It doesn't help that the document treats perfectly reasonable, widely held opinions as terror-linked and with utter condescension. It also doesn't help that the document explicitly states that the government really is conspiring against them:
On the current front, legislation has been proposed this year requiring mandatory registration of all firearms in the United States. Similar legislation was introduced in 2008 in several states proposing mandatory tagging and registration of ammunition.
Basically, the gist of the document is to take We the People to task for responding in a perfectly logical and rational way to the changes we see occurring around us and to policies being considered and undertaken by Washington. For those who haven't noticed, this is all part of a pattern. The natural, rational response to a recession is saving. This is precisely the behavior that will cure a recession, but because it can't stand the thought of Americans saving and ending the recession on their own, government inflates the money supply to force us to stop. Government must be in charge! Likewise, it is now upset at other of our various efforts to wriggle out between the fingers of its iron fist. Heaven forbid we solve our problems on our own. Dependency is the goal here. The government must act to preempt us in our own problem solving capacity, or it ceases to be necessary for the continued survival of individual citizenry who might just be tempted to get rid of it. Or to have absolute coercive power. That too. I hasten to note that virtually every topic mentioned as indicative of terroristic tendencies is one that has been discussed here. What does it say to me? Primarily that the present political leadership of the US is composed of tactless, paranoid, ham-fisted morons, not unlike the tactless, paranoid, ham-fisted morons that were previously in office. Somebody must have made the mistake of accidentally writing down what she really thought and released it to the public. Stupid, but not much more. What did the right expect? Has there ever been a time that statists weren't afraid of those troublemaking freedom-mongers that are always ruining their plans? There really is nothing new to any of this. One would have to be pretty naive to think that the government doesn't read blogs and emails or notice dramatic shifts in buying habits. Do they really think that nobody is watching? Neither "privacy," nor "the law," nor the "inherent restraint" of government ever protected anybody. What protects us is our collective unwillingness to tolerate such actions. The source of the power we often perceive to be in "the law," as opposed to obvious external power Source of "The Law," is the commitment a civilization has to its authority, legitimacy, and sanctity. I have little doubt that this site and many others are being monitored. I have little doubt that powerful people want to silence those who disagree with them. That has ever been and always will be the case. The question is not and never was one of will, but ability. Functionally we have already lost many of our rights which have never actually been legally overturned, such as the right to gold and silver as the only legitimate forms of legal tender. We didn't push back hard enough against The Planners way back when, and lost these rights. I seriously doubt that anybody will be put away for expressing the ideas one might find on a site such as this one, not because of the First Amendment, but because of the widespread outrage I hear expressed on the airwaves right now. That is not to say that we will never lose our first or second amendment rights, just not in the immediate future. At least, unless there are quite a few government agents out there with an urgent deathwish. And I would have to say that the United States government is in very deep trouble indeed if it is afraid of a few folks polishing their guns, thinking outside the government drawn box, and complaining on the internet. This is really a statement of how pathetically detached from reality and weak-kneed and Obama camp, or at least those at the DHS, must be. Next, the not unrelated statements of Texas' own Ham-Fisted-Moron-In-Chief:
"I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state," the governor said in a statement. "That is why I am here to express my unwavering support for efforts all across our country to reaffirm states' rights affirmed by the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."
What instigated this outburst? The Federal government offered $550 million in "stimulus" funds, with the stipulation that Texas change its policies in how unemployment payments are distributed. Rick Perry opted to refuse the funds rather than change Texas' policies. I actually agree with the sentiment, unfortunately, I must take the incident with a heavy dose of cynicism. I really wish I could believe that the governor of my state was actually advocating for limited government and looking out for my rights and freedoms, but I'm not buying it for a second. This isn't about freedom or "oppression," it is about which politician gets to do the oppressing. Perry is mad because the Feds are butting in on his turf. If Texas is to be oppressed, by golly, a Texan ought to be the one doing it! It is also about political opportunism, as Vox points out. Perry knows that he can look like a hero if he "stands up" to the Feds. He knows such a stance is politically popular with Texans, who are proud of their state's history as a one-time independent, sovereign nation. Almost every gun show I went to back home had a "Republic of Texas" booth set up. But if Perry actually cared about limited government and individual rights, he wouldn't have foisted a completely unnecessary vaccine on little Texans. So, Perry is getting no kudos from me. And since our government has virtually solved all its own domestic problems, it appears that it now has a mind to do the same for Mexico, at least according to Fred Reed:
WASHINGTON — As the Pentagon eyes a bigger role in Mexico's drug war, the military's efforts to open the door to a new relationship with its southern neighbor ….”

Book me a ticket to Mars. The Pentagon is eyeing something, a sure recipe for disaster. Previously it has eyed Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and made a horrendous mess of each. Now the Five-Sided Sand Box is eyeing Mexico. Oh good. Let’s get involved in another third-world catastrophe by meddling in what we don’t understand...

In today’s complicated world, with the Asian giants rising and seeking raw materials, maybe we should pay more attention. Maybe sending the Marines isn’t the answer to every problem. Since World War II, the Pentagon has displayed a nearly solid record of failure in fighting either drugs or peasants with AKs. We do not need to blunder into new and better Afghanistans. We seem to want to, though, and it will bring more leftists to power. In the last election here, a truly nutball leftist (AMLO—Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador) came within a few chads of being president of Mexico. Hugo Chavez thrives on American hostility. We treat Cuba as an enemy and, sure enough, it acts like one. None of this is in the American national interest, boys and girls. It’s just brainless.

I don't know if war with Mexico is in the cards, but Fred is a fair sight better at reading between the lines than I am. If he suspects it, I suppose I should. I hope he is wrong. But if we do end up invading, as he says, it would certainly be a disaster. In addition to his litany of complaints, I would imagine that a sage like Sun Tzu might might have something to say on timing. If you have never read The Art of War, you really ought to, at least the first few pages. His primary concern with winning war, over troops, training, logistics, etc.: money. Economics. Too bad our leadership can't manage the first few pages of such difficult material. I mean, it's a book! I think a promotion is in order. Can a thousand year old corpse be granted a general's stars? We could use him right about now... One little bit I take exception with:
Nothing to it: You bomb the bad guys into submission, teach the people to be honest and democratic as America isn’t and never was and, bingo, a docile Reader’s Digest version of Switzerland pops into existence. Good luck.
I can accept that "America" has certainly never qualified for angelic status, and appears less likely ever to do so by the second. But I have to take exception to the implication that whatever success she may have experienced over others (at least, Mexico) has little or nothing to do with some nonexistent differential in virtue. Not that I necessarily consider democracy a virtue, mind you. I'm just saying... If we had the eyes of the Divine, I would imagine that on the curve of "civizilational virtue," with Heaven on the far upper end and the Seventh Circle of Hell down at the bottom, the nations of the world would most likely be huddled down near the lower bound. All of them. Winning the "Most Virtuous Government" prize is undoubtedly akin to gaining the title of "Most Fragrant Swine." Or maybe that is an insult to swine. At least, I wouldn't argue with overall thrust of such an analogy. But I think that this is a mistake of perspective. Surely, governments that attend to the affairs of nations are uniformly evil, attracting as they do politicians. But that doesn't mean that there are no differences between them or between nations at all. If we were to zoom in on that little cluster of our graph, perhaps a hundred, or a thousand, or a million times, I have little doubt that the commonly considered "successful" nations would begin to segregate away to the upper side of the bunch. We won't see this if we insist on taking the broadest possible view. This is the mistake of applying a linear perspective to what is likely an exponential scale. Much as it allows us to vent our rightfully felt indignation, it doesn't really work well for objectively capturing the essence of the phenomenon. In my opinion. But then again, maybe Fred subscribes to the smart fraction theory of economic causation. I note that the nations of the world cluster near the bottom of that rapidly rising curve as well. I suppose that a strict avoidance of excellence as a universal human tendency would tend to show up in theories that try to be correct. Lastly, I think that Michael Rozeff has the best overall take on the scene playing out before us, and he has good news:
The U.S. federal government is on a course of self-destruction. People of many political persuasions know this. People who are against coercive government know this. People who favor coercive government know this. People who do not mind if the federal government self-destructs know this, and people who want to save the federal government know this. From a scientific viewpoint, one of the interesting aspects of a government that is self-destructing is that the process cannot be stopped, even when people who want to stop it, try. Government based on coercion cannot be tamed. It keeps on running until the clock stops ticking and the bomb goes off.
Coercive government is terminal. Thanks Michael! After all this, I needed to hear that. There is an end! That's the best news I've heard all week!

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