Presidents' Day. A government holiday that celebrates the contributions of two specific presidents, as well as memorializing an entire branch of government in general. A branch that has, over the past 205 years, gradually consolidated powers not given it by the constitution; powers derived from the other branches, powers derived from the states, as well as powers guaranteed to you and I as individuals. It has become the focal point of the largess of the most powerful nation in the world since the end of the Cold War, and is the single point of failure in destabilizing the balance of power across the constitutional continuum of checks and balances. This erosion of the boundaries of power began in 1805, as the primary author of the Declaration of Independence (Thomas Jefferson, how’s that for irony?) took extra-constitutional authority in purchasing a plurality of the rest of the North American continent from france. This erosion has continued incrementally to this very day. These powers span from the obvious—summarily pursuing armed conflicts without the advice and consent of Congress—to the very subtle aspects of the ruination of competitive markets by the creation of fiat currency and the bailing out of failed corporations and lending institutions.
And so I sit here again in this space, intellectually frustrated and with a cynicism that borders on curmudgeonry, which will no doubt result in my drinking too much, throwing empties at unwary passers-by, and generally making an ass of myself. These words must be spoken, whether they are heeded or not. Whether they are acted upon by you, gentle reader, or not. For there is some sort of base masochism in my shouting into the forest where many hear, most understand, but few are willing to pass on that understanding to those who’ve never had such things explained, who do not see the inevitable end of this Republic. My friend and fellow libertarian, Andy Watson and I talk of these things often. At the end of one such discussion, Andy said that “the time for political action has passed. Arm up and buy gold.” While I do not think that is over-simplified by any stretch of the imagination, (he may very well be right), where Andy and I depart is our faith in what the American people between the Ohio and Colorado Rivers are willing to accept in the way of centralized government and control of individual freedom. As government control continues to become larger and more invasive, people become more and more insular. They become inured and apathetic about what is happening to the machinations of the government in order to ensure that their families, extended families, and their communities are safe and can continue to function. This has the effect of becoming fatalistically blinded to the state of the entire system, and of ways to correct things before the whole train derails. Andy, I think, sees what I see and concludes that it is too corrupt, too foul, too inhuman to save. I think that there are enough informed people out there that we can save much of what has been built. It will be painful. There will be sacrifice. It ain’t too late. If we can begin communicating with one another…
And so, like Neo in The Matrix, I say to the federal government:
I know you're out there...I can feel you now. I know that you're afraid. You're afraid of us, you're afraid of
change...I don't know the future...I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end, I came here to tell you how this is going to begin. Now, I'm going to [send this email], and I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you...a world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world...where anything is possible.
Where we go from there...is a choice I leave to you...
With a pocketful of red pills, it’s…
The Fight Against Natural Law and the Victory not Heard Around the World
1) “In this house, we obey the Laws of Thermodynamics …” In previous missives from this space, I’ve framed the argument against the increase in the size and intrusiveness of the federal government in terms of established logical, moral, and philosophical precepts. Understanding, as a curriculum developer (which is my actual job, by the way), that different people learn in different ways, tonight I’ll use something that occurred to me as Ruth was reading on the internet the other day, while I sat behind her and read P.J. O’Rourke on The Wealth of Nations (Adam Smith’s work of 1776.). (By the way, I’ve added this publication to my blog’s list of “Read this or Die”, O’Rourke explains Smith as few writers can…definitely better than Smith himself. Check out the other documents that I’ve linked there, in case you think that I’m making all this shit up…)
Beginning on page 28, O’Rourke describes how Adam Smith sought to “’represent all philosophical systems as mere intentions of the imagination, to connect together the otherwise disjointed and discordant phenomena.’ [Smith] went on to chastise himself for agreeing too much with Sir Isaac Newton’s physics, making ‘use of language expressing [their] connecting principles…as if they were the real chains which Nature makes use of to bind together her several operations.’” O’Rourke continues, “It would take, literally, an Einstein to show how right Smith was”.
What Adam Smith was hinting at, and later despaired of his own inability to bring off, was the direct link of human thought and behavior (i.e. philosophy) to the unifying aspects of the natural laws of the world. The example that I’d like to highlight this evening is our unwitting conflict with the most basic laws of physics: The Laws of Thermodynamics. The Encarta Dictionary defines “Thermodynamics” as: “the branch of physics that deals with the conversions from one to another of various forms of energy and how these affect temperature, pressure, volume, mechanical action, and work”. The three laws of thermodynamics are (and I've paraphrased here, for simplicity's sake):
The first law (enthalpy): There is a finite quantity of energy in the world.
The second law (entropy): This energy constantly tends towards dissipation/disorder.
The third law (Nernst's theorem): Once all energy is expended, there is no way to reverse the process.
Tonight, let’s look at the second law: That all systems tend towards disorder. Easy to recognize, no? If I leave this bottle of gin uncorked, the organized liquid within will vaporize and become part of the vapor that surrounds me. (Rather than let the environment have it that freely, however, I generally pour it through my system and let it bleed out my pores tomorrow morning…) Now, we can see this concept of entropy active in everything. As I sit here, this physical form that I occupy is actively shedding cells at a constant rate, while its ability to reproduce those dying cells is reduced until I finally die and decompose. Which, incidentally, is why I’ve opted for the self-embalming option via the 5th food group. Relationships, unless given much-needed maintenance, decay as well, do they not? The same can be said for governments. We see throughout history instances of strong empires coming about, then diffusing, and end up smoldering in the landfill of failed ideas.
[a woefully incomplete listing, off the top of my head:]
The Holy Roman Empire.
The Ottoman Empire.
The German Reich.
These United States.
Friends and neighbors, we can look down this long line of Leviathans, particularly the ones of the modern age, and see that the longevity of each was in direct correlation to the quantity of two factors present within its respective system: a) individual liberty; b) a free-market economy. Those that sought to demand more order out of the chaos of human experience were unsuccessful. Those that sought to reap the rewards of allowing each person to do generally as he pleased, and create wealth, were able to navigate the shoals of civil-strife/revolution for a longer period of time. Of note, those who demanded more order from regions outside of their physical borders saw those colonies revolt at a faster rate than otherwise would be the case. So, an Empire such as Spain, who demanded that colonists become Catholic, (i.e. imposing a specific form of order) saw her colonies rebel in short order. Whereas a generally liberal colonial system such as England, who did not impose such demands, were able to hold onto their colonial holdings for a much longer sustained period of time.
So, in this examination of Leviathan systems, one can readily see that embracing, indeed harnessing, the industry of a minimalist state has two resulting effects: a) an empowered populace; b) an economy that mitigates directly towards creating wealth, instead of holding the entire system down by demanding high-taxes of the most successful, taking money from the entire system to bail out unsuccessful conglomerates, or creating purely artificial constraints on the creation of local wealth by attempting to create centralized cartels which siphon away the utility and ingenuity of those not beholden to the corporate group-think that destroys creativity and individuality. In essence, seeking to derive order from a smaller portion of human activity results in happier people, more just government, and a longer arrangement between the two.
One may ask what this examination portends for this Republic. One says to oneself “America is the bulwark of democracy for the last 234 years…” This is a fallacy that is a result of media conditioning and public schooling. We are being fed information that seeks to keep us complacent while the government continues to attempt to template more and more order onto this society. We register our cars, our guns, our children (Social Security), our income, every single aspect of our lives. To achieve what? Order. To serve whom? Nobody. To produce what? Nothing, besides providing an extraneous method of siphoning money from us, in order to pay people who produce nothing of value, which serves a system that cannot be successful because it seeks to categorize and distribute goods and services in the very manner which will ensure its downfall.
Just here recently, we’ve been talking about complete government control of our health care, which will mitigate towards the daily monitoring of our caloric intake, how much fat we eat, how many cigarettes we smoke, alcohol we imbibe, physical training that we engage in…
…Resulting in more order, templated artificially over a society that will only tolerate it for so long…
…until the very unifying aspects of that society—freedom, equality of opportunity, a government fettered by the will of the governed—will hold it together no longer.
So the choice is this, my friends: we can begin peeling back the layers of corruption that are rife throughout the halls of government, we can regain our focus on the aspect of personal liberty and a free-market economy, we can tie the currency to something that has tangible worth, and we can strip the layers of control and the artificial surety of safety; or we can watch helplessly as the sacrifices of so many are rendered moot by those who are not willing to place themselves in harm’s way for any cause. These people want to control how you vote, how you act, how you spend, and yet do not share your personal stake in your liberty or individuality. They do not wish you to be free, because they think that they know better than you how to vote, act, or spend the coin earned by the sweat off your back.
You and I know better than that. We know that the center will not hold. Entropy is not a condition, it is a constant. We can either factor it into how we govern this nation, or this nation will split apart. This is not something that we can hope against, people. It is a mathematical certainty.
2) “…and here’s the Canadian entry into the men’s 1500 meter freestyle ice-cave spelunking/hockey/singles skating combine! Stay tuned to learn about his personal fucking problems which will inevitably cause you to throw empties at unwary passers-by…” And we’re here at another Winter Olympic Games, and we are subjected to the clunky and abjectly absurd description of the life of every competitor, and how his/her entry into whatever absurd competition has been so very difficult.
And inevitably, unwary passers-by are scrambling from the front of El Casa del Sucio, frantically evading the inevitable barrage of empty bottles of Sam Adams as I reach my fucking limit…
NBC has been doing this ever since they signed the contract to cover the Olympic Games from ABC awhile back. There’s these people, you see, and each of them has had a terrible time in their lives while struggling to perfect some task in freezing temperatures that speaks to them deeply, and for which they have a talent.
Allow me to translate: There are folks who decided to become amateur athletes in winter sports who have had actual dying relatives, or are recovering from terrible afflictions, or have generally been trying to shake the yoke of government oppression in their preparations to come on-camera and perform just whatever fucking freezing task is their specialty.
A question: Who among us has not: a) made a decision regarding how we will go about earning a living; b) recovered from a family death, a dear friend’s affliction, or a self-inflicted crisis of confidence?
I thought not.
Look, perseverance is the common denominator of the human experience. If you have it, you put things in perspective and drive on. If you don’t, then you end up using these hardships as an excuse for why it is not possible for you to achieve anything, or be self-reliant. This is not newsworthy, this is called life on planet Earth.
This is not meant to be a excoriation of all stories which seek to demonstrate the indomitability of the human spirit. There are many of those out there, and I’m a big fan. But I think we can all recognize the difference in the two levels of “heroism” that are being reported to us by the National Broadcast Company: a) a man who, two weeks ago, lived inside the corpse of a grizzly bear for 14 days, which he killed with a sharpened stick while waiting for rescue, after surviving an avalanche that separated him from the rest of his gear. He overcame the loss of a big toe and a nasty case of Syphillis so that he could play defenseman for the gold medal hockey team; OR b) a man who ran into financial troubles because his job waiting tables at a Palm Springs eatery did not allow him to train at a local rink, thus necessitating him to find another job as a masseuse on the night shift in a 24-hour Palm Springs massage parlor, which paid double what he was making before, and allowed him time and money to master the triple-axel that landed him the silver…
People, turn this shit off when you see it. Please. Give credit where it is due, and when people are reported to have lived as all of us have, give due credit there as well.
That’s all I ask.
3) The lack of Shots Heard Round the World.
FIRST WAVE OF U.S. FORCES LEAVE IRAQ (JAN 16, 2010)
AL-ASAD, Iraq (AP) — The base loudspeaker no longer wakes them up with calls for blood donors; armored trucks sit idle in neat rows. The U.S. Marines who stood at some of the bloodiest turning points of the Iraq war are packing up and leaving.
Among the first troops to invade in March 2003, and the first to help turn enemy insurgents into allies, the Marines will be the first major wave of American forces to go as the U.S. military begins a withdrawal to be completed by the end of next year. For them, as for the rest of the U.S. military, this has been the longest war since Vietnam.
At their peak in October 2008, an estimated 25,000 Marines were in Iraq, mostly in the country's western Anbar province. Now only about 4,000 remain. They, too, will be gone shortly after the Marines officially hand over responsibility to the Army on Saturday.
"The security and stability that exists here is well within the means of the Iraqi security forces to maintain," Maj. Gen. Rick Tryon, the Marine commander in Iraq, said in a recent interview. "You don't need United States Marines to do this at this point. So it's time, and it's timely."
Besides, he added: "Afghanistan is calling."
The Pentagon already has deployed a Marine battalion to Afghanistan in a 30,000-troop buildup set to peak this summer.
More than 40 percent of all deaths of coalition forces in Iraq between 2004 and 2006 were inflicted in Anbar, a vast mostly desert province stretching from the western outskirts of Baghdad to the borders of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
And so we’re out of there. Official as of 23 Jan 2010. The last operational unit has left Iraq. LtGen Mattis was right, back when he commanded the 1st Marine Division in 2004: we could win this.
Wars are inevitably the cause of a good deal of uncertainty among a people so diverse and so geographically dispersed as the people of these United States. I have argued since 2003, that irrespective of the reasons behind the decision to put us into Iraq so that we could topple it’s brutal government, it absolutely had to be among the highest priorities of this republic to stay the course and finish the fight on our terms.
It seems that we have done so.
And as a result, the people of the world will not remember the embarrassments of abu Gharib, the incidents surrounding Haditha, the unfortunate decisions made in Hamdiniyah. What they will remember is that, for the first time since the cease fire at Panmunjom in Korea, we as a nation stayed the course. In doing so, we have done something that does not happen just everyfuckingday: we have successfully put down an insurgency, freed a people, and helped a nation to secure itself.
Rewind to 2007. Early in that year, then-President G. W. Bush proclaimed that he would surge troops to Iraq, in the face of increased insurgent confidence. He was lambasted, most notably by a number of current prominent figures in your government:
Immediately following Bush's January 10 speech announcing the plan, Democratic politicians, including Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid and Dennis Kucinich, called on Congress to reject the surge. On January 18, it was reported that Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, and Sam Brownback, all voiced their discontent with the course of events in Iraq.
So let’s review. The people who did not have the spine to stay the course would end up becoming, respectively, the Secretary of State, the President of the United States, and the Vice-President of the United States.
I’m sorry. Allow me a moment to step away and throw up. Thank you.
Let’s review how it all went down, then. Shall we?
General Abazaid was replaced by Admiral Fallon. General Petraeus replaced General Casey as Commanding General of Multinational Force-Iraq.
On September 10, 2007, General David Petraeus delivered his part of the Report to Congress on the Situation in Iraq. He concluded that "the military objectives of the surge are, in large measure, being met." He cited what he called recent consistent declines in security incidents, which he attributed to recent blows dealt against Al-Qaeda in Iraq during the surge. He added that "we have also disrupted Shia militia extremists, capturing the head and numerous other leaders of the Iranian-supported Special Groups, along with a senior Lebanese Hezbollah operative supporting Iran's activities in Iraq." He argued that Coalition and Iraqi operations had drastically reduced ethno-sectarian violence in the country, though he stated that the gains were not entirely even. He recommended a gradual drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq with a goal of reaching pre-surge troop levels by July 2008 and stated that further withdraws would be "premature."
Three months later, Michael O'Hanlon and Jason H. Campbell of the Brookings Institution stated that Iraq’s security environment had reached its best levels since early 2004 and credited Petraeus' strategy for the improvement. CNN stated that month that the monthly death rate for US troops in Iraq had hit its second lowest point during the entire course of the war. Military representatives attributed the successful reduction of violence and casualties directly to the troop surge. At the same time, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior reported similar reductions for civilian deaths.
On February 16, 2008, Iraqi Defense Minister Abdel Qader Jassim Mohammed told reporters that the surge was "working very well" and that Iraq has a "pressing" need for troops to stay to secure Iraqi borders. He stated that "Results for 2007 prove that– Baghdad is good now".
In the month of July, 2008, US forces lost only 13 soldiers, the lowest number of casualties sustained by US troops in one month since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Also, a report by the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, given to Congress in May 2008, and published July 1, stated that the Iraqi government had met 15 of the 18 political benchmarks set out for them.
Following all of this was the “Anbar Awakening” which, depending on whom you talk to, might be due to our actions, or might be a result of shit-ass luck. However, I don’t think Anbar would’ve awakened had we reduced presence or started to evacuate the country in late-2007.
Bottom line, the Marine Corps has left al Anbar province, after fighting there since the second week of February in 2004, and has left it in a better state then when we first took over for the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.
You’ve not heard this proclaimed anywhere, my friends. I myself was not aware of it until mention of the final wave of Marines that were coming home was sent to me by a co-worker last week.
While New Orleans gave a ticker-tape to the victorious Saints, who won the championship of a sport that lasts less than six months, your Marines got jack shit for civilizing al Anbar. Think about that for a second.
I trust you'll take the appropriate steps to make this fact a little better known to the rest of the sleeping world. we've done something very important, despite being told by everyone that we couldn't. I'm so proud of those Marines...
This week marks the official changing of the year: It's the week after the super bowl, and the week that Major League pitchers and catchers report to spring training. The Rangers have a new owner, one who has pitched seven no-hitters as a Major League pitcher. It’s gonna be a good year…
As always, feedback is welcome. Hit me up here. Let it ring.
All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him. If it be aristocratic in organization, then it seeks to protect the man who is superior only in law against the man who is superior in fact; if it be democratic, then it seeks to protect the man who is inferior in every way against both. One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another as possible, to search out and combat originality among them. All it can see in an original idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerogatives. The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.
H.L. Mencken, 1919