Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rousseau and masochism

I am putting out a series of short ideas. It's Tuesday, but it's already been a long week.

To the point: it seems difficult to me to overestimate the importance of Rousseau's sexual masochism. He sought, and found, older women to be his dominatrixes, to tell him what to do, to punish him for wrongs, real and imaginary.

What a short leap it is from the desire to be sexually and psychologically dominated to wanting to bring into existence a rationale for the eradication of personal agency and autonomy, supposedly under the direction of a "General Will", but of course in reality under the domination of those who arrogated that silly abstraction into concrete positions of power for themselves, as for example Robespierre, Lenin, and Ho Chi Minh did.

When you are dealing with emotionally ill philosophers, you can I think in general dispense with their philosophies without much effort at working through them: they are wrong in their foundations, and as such, wrong in their conclusions, absolutely without regard to the brilliance of exposition and reasoning that might take place in the middle.

Requests

As should be obvious, I am rarely short on words or opinions. If there is a topic you would like me to deal with, let me know.

Anonymous comments are enabled.

Sadism

The first victim of the sadist is always himself. This point is generally missed.

I may expand on this later; perhaps not: if the point can be made to YOU, then I think it already has been.

Gratitude

Is what we call gratitude something other than feeling lucky? Is the opposite something other than going through life feeling like you have been unlucky?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Luck

Luck has a price: it is effort.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Greatness

The older I get, the more I admire equanimity as a virtue. I admire those who don't get upset by things, who are able to live without constant avarice of one sort or another: for experience, for wealth, fame, self respect, success in some enterprise or another.

Who is more successful: the CEO who is worth billions who has to fight every day to keep his position--and having to constantly compromise morally to do so, even if he or she refused to admit it--or the pipe-fitter who comes home tired and goes fishing with his kids?

Friday, January 27, 2012

The logic of Imperialism

Given how often the word "Imperialist" was abused in the last century, it is easy to forget that there was a time when Imperialism, by name, was a conscious policy of the supposedly enlightened British nation. They in fact built the largest empire the world has ever seen, carving out large sections of Africa and Asia, and of course controlling Canada, Australia, and numerous small countries like Belize around the world.

As I think about it, the patent Fascism of George Bernard Shaw and his disciple John Maynard Keynes is really just an outgrowth of the basic idea that some people know better than others, that some are just born SUPERIOR to others, and that the basic concept of the "White Man's Burden" should be applied to social problems, and specifically to making all non-elites equal. The elites, of course, on this rendering, being superior, are not at all a part of the muddling masses under their direction.

Thus, there is no principled difference between a British Colonial officer directing "darkies" in Pakistan or the Sudan to do work he feels is in their best interest, and a member of what Keynes called the "Salariat" similarly interfering in and directing the lives of those he considers unequal to the task of directing their own life.

It is an identical arrogance, and moral dystopia.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dog Days are over

I got drunk a few weeks ago, and listened to Florence and the Machine's "Dog Days are Over" repeatedly. Here is the official video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWOyfLBYtuU&ob=av3e


It is weird. Anyway, I can't easily find a short explanation of what she says it is about, so I am going to take my best guess at it. This sort of thing is useful, because interestingly how people interpret lyrics that are ambiguous seems to be a sort of Rorschach test. If I inadvertently reveal something about me, then so be it. Won't be the first time.

Here are the lyrics:

Happiness / hit her / like a train on a tra-ck Coming towards her / stuck still / no turning ba-ck She hid around corners / and she hid under beds / She killed it with kisses and from it she fl-ed / With e-very bubble she sank with a drink / And wa-shed it away down the kitchen sink.
The dog days are over The dog days are done The horses are comin' so you better run
Run fast for your mother; run fast for your father / Run for your children all your sisters and brothers / Leave all your love and your longing behind. You can't carry it with you / if you want to survive
The dog days are ove-r / The dog days are do~ne / Can you hear the horse-s/ 'Cos here they come
And I- never wanted / anything from yo-u / Except / e-verything / you had And / what was left after that too / Oh!
Happiness / hit her / like a bullet in the ba-ck Struck from /a great height By someone /who should have known be-tte-r / than tha-t
The dog days are ove-r / The dog days are do~ne / Can you hear the horses / 'Cos here they co-me
Run fast for your mother / run fast for your father Run for your children all your sisters and brothers Leave all your love and your longing behind You can't carry it with you / if you want to survive
The dog days are ove-r / The dog days are do~ne / Can you hear the horse-s/ 'Cos here they co-me/
The dog days are ove-r / The dog days are do~ne / The horse-s are co-min' So you'd better ru-n /
The dog days and over-r / The dog days are do~ne / The horse-s are co-mi -n' / So you'd better ru--n

First off, the music itself, outside of the poetry of the lyrics, is energizing. It is anthemic. It is large, not small. Whatever "the dogs days are over" means, the song itself makes me--and seemingly many other people--feel good.

As I interpret this, the whole song can be seen as an internalized conflict between a tacit agreement she had with herself that unhappiness was her lot, and light suddenly shining in.

Do you ever just feel happy, for no good reason? We spend our days, so often, enduring. Then for me at least, on some days, for no apparent cause larger than perhaps pleasant weather, or an unexpected break in work, or for no reason at all, I will feel good, happy, content, at peace. I am not worrying about my next move, or what comes next.

One of our greatest fears, though, is that of expanding, of growing, of breaking out of the protective shell we build and inhabit to protect us from the manifest ravages of the world. If you are open, you will be hurt. If you risk, you will sometimes fail. This is the nature of our existence.

But don't you sometimes just accept this, and feel joy in the process? I have often likened it to my imagination of surfing (I've never surfed), in which there is a fear, but also a rapture that would not have been possible without the everpresent risk of falling. This is what drives risk takers, like skydivers, rock climbers, car racers, and yes artists.

So something like this comes down, and she feels like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming train. She hides, and she hides again. She dissipates.

So there is a disconnect between the feeling and the fear. Even though there are no patent breaks in the narrative, I think we can see two voices, that of the frightened person being attacked by happiness, and that of a larger, perhaps divine voice insisting: your suffering is done, it is over. Can't you feel the energy, the wind, of the horses, who can gallop at great speeds with absolute freedom?

She runs for her father, and runs for her mother. She leaves all her love and longing behind, because she wants to survive. Why?

The task of all children, which is to say of all human beings, is in some way to expand beyond the context of childhood, to develop a unique self, that in my view is capable of connecting with the transcendant, with God. In a universal sense, we have no parents. Our relation is that of a sovereign soul with the energy that permits our existence.

Now, she is running from happiness. Part of that running consists in a desire to HOLD ON to who she was, which is a daughter, and sister, and someone with an emotional context, a clear place, a self with loves and longings.

She was a selfish person: And I- never wanted / anything from yo-u / Except / e-verything / you had And / what was left after that too / Oh!

But now she can't even hold on to that. Happiness hit her like a bullet in the brain. Nothing is left, but a swelling cloud of anti-misery. She makes it blue; I would make it yellow.

Oh, who knows if I am right, but I look at this, think of all the people I know, and laugh and cry at the same time.

The Austrian School

I have proposed in my financial treatise that, if we follow the logic of inflation to its end, we should have some twenty times the purchasing power per hour worked than we actually do. This leads, in turn, to the logical conclusion that if we can survive on forty hours of work now, we should be able to survive on two hours in an actually well constructed, just economy.

This conclusion leads, in turn, to the necessary conclusion that unemployment is unnecessary, and that generalized prosperity should be our lot, such that no social "safety nets" would be needed for anyone who does even a minimal amount of work.

These are shocking conclusions, but in my view valid. Main Street should be twenty times more robust, and Wall Street and the Federal Government one twentieth the size they actually are.

The more I think about this, the more I think that a large part of the reason Germans are able to maintain economic well being and still afford their social "safety nets"--agree or not in principle, they are plainly there--is that they maintain monetary discipline. They have since the Second World War. This is Austrian School Economics, which holds that expanding the monetary base will always favor a few and punish the many.

The Austrian School, in important ways, is the most egalitarian of creeds; and Keynesism, intended to support supposed egalitarianism in the form of socialist polity ruled by a technocratic elite, is the most elitist.

Socialism IS elitism. This point needs to be made clearly.

Them

Beyond any reasonable doubt, most of the decisions affecting the bulk of the world's population are made by about 6,000 people, what someone in a position to know calls "The Superclass".

If you look at the reviews, you will note that there is the former Ambassador to the UN, a former Fed exec., the Secretary of the Treasury: again, all people who belong to this class, and understand its workings.

That an elite has disproportionate influence on all of our lives is a bit disturbing. It has perhaps always been so, but all of us were brought up to believe that if we elect the right people, we can control our destiny.

Of course, the elites would prefer us to choose pessimism, that our destinies are in fact in their supposedly enlightened hands. That is presumably why so many put their names on this.

The future of course is impossible to predict, but I choose to believe that not all these people march in lockstep, that they often have principled disagreements, and that not all of them are sons of bitches, even though some plainly are.

Terrorism

There were many supposed "paranoiacs" who predicted that 9/11 would be used to create a police state in the United States. Like most, I thought this was ridiculous.

Yet, even if one dismisses the existence of a "them" (the subject of my next post), plainly one can extrapolate from the logic of bureaucracies, and see where the solution to one supposed problem can become a problem in and of itself.

Terrorism, because it is nebulous, and because the threat can never be quantified, as can, to a great extent, the danger of a conventional army, is the perfect foil for those who are themselves paranoid.

Take, as an example, the patting down of a tearful six year old, by the TSA.

Can any rational mind seriously argue that there was a threat here? Of course not. What, then, is the logic. It is simple, and technocratic, which is to say emotionless, and utterly disconnected from any desirable public outcome.

The logic is that all airline passengers are criminals until proven innocent. In Signal Theory, you always have a mixture of noise and signal. The only way to ensure no noise is to transmit nothing, and the only way to ensure no signal will fail to get through is to allow all noise.

The only way to make sure all innocent people get through is to allow everyone through. The only way to ensure no criminals get through is to treat everyone as a criminal. This is the logic.

Yet, when we speak of a "War on Terror", we are speaking of aggressive overseas interventions designed to counter ISLAMIC terrorism. We are not worried about the IRA or the Tamil Tigers.

El Al uses a very simple method: it figures out who MIGHT be a criminal, and then uses a continuum on them, which in some few cases might END with the sorts of abuses the TSA visits on everyone, but only with regard to people who know damn well why it is happening, and not six year old girls who are being virtually raped in public for reasons both she and I are at a loss to explain, if our goal is integrate them into a framework of reason.

Here is the thing with terrorism: once you accept that all passengers are criminals until proven innocent--a patent abuse of our Fourth Amendment, which well understood the value of treating everyone as guilty, as well as the abuses to which such thinking led, and which considered them antithetical to the dignity they intended to provide all American citizens--then there is no limit to the extent to which you can go to try and prove them guilty.

I visualize discussions going on at the TSA: "You know, you can take somebody's eye out with a plastic spoon." "OK. Let's ban spoons." "You know, a baby was used a suicide bomb in Pakistan". "OK, from now on we pat down all babies, and since explosives can be liquid, we need to look in their diapers".

And so on.

Intended or not, it seems that the proper boundaries of State intervention in our private lives are being exceeded daily, and that the grab continues apace. The EPA is another good example: they are forcing the shut down of power plants which are causing virtually no environmental damage, and which will cause higher energy costs which will be most burdensome to those who can least afford it.

Our freedoms are very literally disappearing. Our ability to elect representatives who are ABLE to protect us is dwindling. I say this after much thought, and do not believe I am exaggerating in the slightest.

Plainly, our nation will end some day. It may be tomorrow, it may be a thousand years from now. All experiments end. But it would seem to me there are far too many who are eager for the release from personal freedom and responsibility that their more or less open embrace of Fascism grants them.

On that last word: Fascism is nothing more or less than applying military thinking to the whole of society. It is making sure everyone has a place and an assigned purpose. This is very comforting for those who are unable to find purpose and meaning in their lives. These people can be counted on to support all forms of government which purport to increase the quality of their lives, regardless of whether or not that outcome is in fact achieved.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Every day an infinity

Have you ever stopped to realize that every day has its own, unique quality? That it may feel, on superficial analysis, like every day that came before, and which you expect to come after, but that this does not come close to plumbing the possible depths of the "ordinary"?

If memory serves, John Wooden's father--a hard working, pious, and simple man--told him to "Make every day your masterpiece."

Think of your life. Think of every day as a canvas hanging on the wall. How many did you paint, and how many did someone else scribble something on so you could mark the day "Done"?

Every day of your past, and every day--EVERY DAY--of your future will have slightly different shading, texture, form, theme, than the other days. Why not interact with it as art, accept the inevitable banalities of life with the sensitivity they don't seem to merit, and CREATE as you move experiences that you can call creative, each and every day?

You work differently every day. Even your sleep, your dreams, your movements in the night, differ in subtle ways.

If change is a universal, why not invite it home to dinner and become good friends?

Ron Paul Supporters

Perhaps the strongest argument to made against Ron Paul is his supporters. They seemingly, and contradictorily, want to make him into a demagogue. I want to be clear that what I want to elect him for is for what he will NOT do, not what he WILL do. It is commonly assumed that because the government is a certain size--usually expressed as a percentage of the GDP, as if there were any correlation--that it must perforce remain about that size moving forward.

What Ron Paul is proposing is not so much abolishing Federal agencies like the TSA, so much as NOT continuing them. He is proposing NOT continuing large scale deficit spending, which everyone else seems to assume is inevitable. He is proposing NOT continuing on-going large scale military conflicts around the world.

All any true conservative wants is to be left alone to pursue their own interests and passions as free from governmental interference as is consistent with public order. This means, logically, that our ideal President is someone like Calvin Coolidge, who slept 12 hours a day, if memory serves, since he didn't view the job of the President as DOING things, but rather preventing others--Congress--from doing things that were counterproductive. Silent Cal got tricked by the Fed, which had its own agenda, and in large measure even then made its own decisions, which being slow and insidious were hard to measure in their effects. But that is what we want.

We want a President who will discontinue a whole lot of stuff, then go sit on a reclining chair in Boca Raton or wherever, and watch sports or write books, or play with his grandkids.

What Ron Paul's fans seemingly want is a Savior, of the sort they wanted in Obama. Plainly, Paul is the only INTERESTING candidate in the race, but everyone around him needs to up their game.

Here is a case in point: http://www.infowars.com/ron-paul-vs-the-rest/

Watch the videos. They made me cringe. In the first one, you had people chanting slogans, differing only in the words from "Hey ho, X has to go". In the second, he screwed up the narration several times--which is something that easily could have been fixed before releasing the video--and had goofy music on there.

This is a race for the President of the United States, the most powerful elective office on the planet. This is not some college game. Ron Paul is not some colorful new British band that only the cool kids know about.

He is the only one proposing a serious package to halt and reverse the tremendous decline in our freedoms and economic well being that have beset us ever since Herbert Hoover. To the extent he surrounds himself with silly people, it hurts him. I am not proposing he reject his biggest fans, but rather that his biggest fans raise their game and overall sobriety to the levels required for him actually win the nomination, which is plainly a long shot.

Open Letter to Ron Paul Skeptics

This is intended to be emailed. Please copy it and email it to your usual suspects.

Please put aside your preconceptions for a moment.

In 2011 we are projected to take in $1.9 trillion, and spend $3.3 trillion. This is a gap of $1.4 trillion, or about $116 BILLION a MONTH. Our national debt already exceeds $15 trillion, and is equal to the entirety of our annual economic output. Debt loads this size have historically inevitably led to economic catastrophes. Obamacare and the entry of the Baby Boomers into our Social Security and Medicare rolls will only accelerate this process, which is already unsustainable.

What in your estimation constitutes a rational, proportional response to this situation?

Mitt Romney has pledged to cut $20 billion from our annual budget, and in effect appoint a committee to study the issue. Does this sound like a solution that is on par with the size of the problem?

Supposed "conservative" Newt Gingrich called Paul Ryan's budget plan--which is at least trying to wrestle with the problems we face, "right wing social engineering". Here is what is interesting about that statement: Ryan's plan doesn't even balance the ANNUAL budget until 2040 . During that period, our debt will continue to increase, year on year. Predictably, Gingrich makes no commitments at all with respect to budget cuts.

Ron Paul has pledged to cut annual expenditures by $1 trillion his first year. He is going to abolish the Departments of Education, HUD, Commerce, Energy, and Interior. He is going to abolish the TSA, which is strip searching everyone who flies that it wants to.

He is going to lower the corporate tax rate to 15%. This will have ENORMOUS and IMMEDIATE stimulating effects on our economy.

Self evidently, he will reverse Obamacare, and substantially every Executive Order Obama issued, along with implementing a legal framework removing the ability for the Executive Branch to impose laws without consulting Congress.

He is going to audit the Federal Reserve. For those who complacently assume that the Fed is benevolent, consider the following: our next generation aircraft carrier, the Ford Class, will cost some $10 billion each. Ben Bernanke, without asking any elected officials' approval, created (just in the second round of so-called "Quantitative Easing"), from scratch, $600 BILLION--the equivalent of 60 state of the art aircraft carriers. And we don't even know who got the money. We have no way of knowing. But we can assume it went to the already rich, and not to ordinary Americans, who will be hurt by the inflation that clearly will follow whenever the economy recovers. This is absurd.

With regard to foreign policy, talk with a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. Ask them what good we are doing there. Ask them if they think we should be there. If you can find one who thinks that we are protecting America--now, after 10 years of war--then go buy a lottery ticket because it's your day to defy the odds. Paul gets more donations from active duty military than all the other candidates combined. They are tired of fighting, and it is hard to blame them. It is impossible to measure progress. They sweep an area, destroy weapons caches and arrest some people, then three months later things are the same as before. Although only one percent of the population, veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars constitute 20% of the suicides.

With regard to electability, Ron Paul consistently places within a couple points of Romney when matched against Obama. He can count on everyone right of center to vote for him simply because they cannot stomach Obama. But he also appeals to large swathes of the Left, who share with the Right a fear of government power grabs, and who have a distaste for foreign wars.

In this CBS Poll(http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim/2012/01/09/Who-Would-You-Vote-For-in-November-if-the-Candidates-Were.gif), Paul is in a statistical dead heat with Obama, as is Romney, since the margin of error is larger than the difference between them.

PAUL IS ELECTABLE.

Here is the question: do you want to sacrifice genuine conservatism--low taxes, huge decreases in the size and power of the Federal Government--for a one or two point advantage in the polls, and for a candidate NOBODY--except the banking community--is enthusiastic about?

Please ponder this carefully before you vote in your primary, and please pass this email along to everyone you think might have an interest in reading it.

End note: I have ignored Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum, because their poll numbers--and showings to date--simply do not support the thesis that they can actually win in a national election.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Latest attack on Paul

Supposedly he contradicted himself. But read quote one, and quote two.

1: So President Ron Paul would therefore not have ordered the kill of bin Laden, which could have only have taken place by entering another sovereign nation?

And Dr. Paul was equally clear in his response:

I don’t think it was necessary. No.

Less than a minute later, Conway attempted to further clarify by again asking the congressman”

So President Ron Paul would not have ordered the kill of bin Laden, to take place, as it took place in Pakistan?

Ron Paul’s response was consistent with his two previous answers.

Not the way it took place, no. I mean he was unarmed, you know… and all these other arguments.


2: “You believe international Law should’ve constrained us from tracking down and killing the man responsible for the most brazen attack on the US since Pearl Harbor?”

Paul responded: “Obviously no, I did not say that.”


Read both carefully, and listen to the setup, plainly intended to suggest anyone who did NOT order the killing was effectively an apologist and almost accomplice in mass murder.

He did not say he would not have gone after Bin Laden because of international law, but because it was UNNECESSARY. For any stupid people reading this, let me point out that from 9/11/01 until his de facto execution ten years later, Bin Laden does not seem to have planned ONE attack.

Are we safer now that he is dead? Are we? If he was doing something close to nothing, it is hard to see how safety has improved. This was a mission of revenge, not national self defense. I was saying back in 2009 that he was irrelevant.

Am I glad he is dead? Yes, to the extent it is proper to celebrate the death of anyone, but I remain skeptical that he was the actual mastermind.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Florence and the Machine

This is quite enjoyable: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GVDoglDx68&feature=fvst

Ah: is life about something other than taking risks, hoping for reward? No: doing what one must do, with "must" defined as what one person must do to remain true to themselves?

How many of us fail, or succeed, in rewarding those who take chances? How many of us ARE those who take chances?

How can one help but love those who risk? Me: I put all my chips on the risk-takers: they hold our future. I suppose I could surf pornography, but what interesting would be revealed? Love: one won't find it there, and what else is worth the effort?

For myself, I love unreasonably, in ridiculous human beings like Florence. What waters flow, when stillness presides? Ah, here is one more excellent video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrYnggjTJfk&feature=fvst

Are our normal days superfluous? It is unclear. So much that is magical remains to be discovered. I say that not as a sentimental fool, but as a drunk empiricist.

[note: if the past is any indication, I will feel no remorse in posting this, but feel the need to point out that I was drunk. Liquor is medicine to me, up to a point. I will leave it at that. May God bless you.]

Reserve Currencies

Never trust me to actually shut up and go to bed.

I am reading a history of the currency crises of East/Southeast Asia in the late 90's. What is interesting to me is that Bretton Woods, once we got off the flimsy gold standard they had retained, in the early 70's, effectively made the dollar into gold. Rather than keeping gold in the vault, developing nations have to keep dollars in their vaults. There are other reserve currencies--the yen, the Euro, the Mao--but dollars are still the "gold standard" for the simple reason that as stupid as we have been, we have been less stupid than others.

This leads logically, though, to the contention--which I will have to ponder--that our Federal Reserve is the only TRUE central bank in the world, since it is uniquely empowered to create the world's de facto reserve currency.

I am reevaluating many things. One possibility I am considering is that some American banks are in fact predatory around the world. This says nothing about America as a whole, but speaks rather to a disease that perhaps affects other nations more overtly, but is not absent here either.

To be clear: I believe in Capitalism, but do not believe that fiat money qualifies as Capital; it is an abuse: there is in my view no other way to view it.

Home

The other day, on awaking, it popped in my head that the word Home contains--forgive my use of the term--the meat of the Sanskritic sacred mantra Om. Then I started canvassing the few languages I am somewhat OK in, and the only other example I could come up with Homme, from the French.

Now, I am as interested in the process of thinking as in the outcome. Since reading Edward de Bono's work (4 or 5 books, and I am actually certified to teach his Six Thinking Hats) I have believed that thought is not something that happens, but a type of work no different in principle than building a house. There are methods, and definable outcomes, of which creativity is one. You can choose to be creative.

One basic technique is the formation of a continuum. The mind operates in a binary fashion, if left to its own devices. Continuums, however, of their nature are not binary. They demand shades of gray and gradation.

The following, therefore, may not be "true", but perhaps useful nonetheless.

Let us start, then by assuming that the residing place of this Om formulation says something important about both cultures.

In English, it is a place, and a state of mind, that of being ennested, of belonging, of participating in a larger web of consistent relationships.

In French, it is Man, understood as the arbiter of reality, but tragically denuded of home.

Can we not see echoes of this basic dichotomy in the cultural evolution of both traditions. Where did solipsism--excuse me, Existentialism--arise? France. The fatal individual. The stoic hero, transfixed in an indifferent eternity, condemned to "Freedom", to constant self definition and redefinition. Alone.

The English, with their pragmatic alternative, focused rather on building homes, on building social orders consistent with belonging.

Again: this is just a sort mental calisthenic, perhaps devoid of "truth", but it is good to bend your mind in different ways.

Do with it what you will.

Edit: actually, I see now that despite saying I was not going to form a dichotomy, I have formed a dichotomy. This is amusing and instructive. No doubt I can do this thing better, but I think I am going to finish my cigar and drink some whiskey.

The Great Depression and Munich

For neocons--there actually is such a thing, which I found surprising, seeing the uses to which the Left has put this term--Munich is emblematic of the perils of doing nothing in the face of creeping evil.

For most economists, the equivalent is the Great Depression.

In both cases, these analogies are invoked continually, and generally inaccurately. We were told the bank bailouts in 2008 were necessary to "prevent another Great Depression". Now, as then, we are told that the fact that they seem to have accomplished little but wealth transfer from the taxpayers to reckless and callous banks is evidence that had we done nothing, it would have been much worse.

Our supposedly preemptive "War on Terror", likewise. It is hard to say, now, what would have been the effects of not invading Iraq or Afghanistan, but is arguable that we have not prevented ANY attacks.

Plainly, if we have the oil reserves to stop buying from the Middle East, then we would have been far better served developing them, than in protecting Saudi Arabia from the potential future threat of Saddam Hussein. Clearly, he WOULD have built nukes as soon as he could--he said so himself when he was caught--but he liked living, and actually using them against us or the Israelis would have ended his game, his reign, and likely his life. He was smart enough, maybe, to realize this, although he miscalculated badly in assuming we lacked the resolve to invade, so this point is debatable.

I supported the war on Iraq. I felt then, and continue to feel now, albeit to a lesser extent, that it is pointless being a superpower if you are emasculated by indecisiveness and squeamishness.

At the same time, we are not in the Cold War. There is no global superpower opposing us, necessitating a war for alliances. There is no Nazi Germany, who we must fear will invade us once they finish their other conquests (as plainly would have happened, with their inventions of the jet and eventual invention of the nuclear bomb making defense quite difficult). What we face are not very smart individuals, whose courage consists in a passion for suicide.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of recognizing that Tower 7 must have been blown. It changes all the calculus. It redirects focus to a now-indistinct target that has still not been identified. That is the enemy; and we don't know who it is.

I will bet good money, though, that that enemy was not contained in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tim Tebow and the Rocky Horror Picture Show

I have for some time wanted to post on the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It is emblematic of Leftism. What is the basic plot? An innocent young couple is seduced into purely physical pleasure, denuded of MEANING, context, and genuine emotional affection.

The latent violence and cruelty in this psychosocial gestalt is manifested when Meatloaf makes his appearance on the motorcycle, symbolizing genuine masculine virility, and by extension the capacity for purpose and even virtue. He is murdered and cannibalized.

The movie ends when the characters in effect dissolve, then finally meet--then avoid--the necessary fate of those who consciously pursue self destruction: they "time warp", and the song that accompanies this is fun (in movie theaters for quite some time, this was acted out in front of the audience in many markets, like New York and San Francisco), and helps to mask the underlying reality of death and disease, although the symbols are omnipresent. Most all of the empty frivolities that modern men and women use to anesthetize themselves have as their aim the same purpose. That is the point of TV.

People want to kill Tim Tebow. They want him to be a relic from another era, and not someone who is speaking coherently to what could even now be their present. Meaning is not impossible. It is not too late.

But people do not want to hear that, if they have traveled far at all along the path of self immolation in suicidal narcissism and hedonism. They want to be fashionably smart, to "know" that Jesus is a fable, and that we are machines built to rust under the ground.

Thus the violence. Many people were very happy when Tebow lost. It was like when Meatloaf's character was murdered by Dr. Frankenfurter. They don't want to remember who they could be--what the true limits of their perceptual and behavior freedom are--and thus his "failure" (in reality, it was nothing of the sort) was comforting to them.

In some respects, I suppose, the image of Tebow as a sacrificial lamb is testament to the sincerity of his Christianity. For my part, I wish him well. I would like to see him get married, since I'm quite sure he could score himself a smoking hot, Christian wife.

[End note: I could see where someone would infer latent (Channel 2, per my previous post) homoeroticism in my connection of Tim Tebow with this movie. To the extent of my awareness, the principle trait of homosexuals is sexual fantasies involving other men. I don't have them, and so infer that I am not gay. My interest here is analytical and abstract. I view the Rocky Horror Picture Show as emblematic of what I have termed "Cultural Sadeism". Everything is broken. Nobody believes anything but their ephemeral senses. Sade would have loved the movie, although presumably he would have preferred more violence.

As I have said often, though, I view homosexuality as a sort of misfortune, and not a crime or deviancy per se. It is of course a cliche to say this, but I have counted more than one open homosexual as a friend. Particularly among men, it often seems to lead to some really weird stuff--I did go to the Mapplethorpe exhibit way back when, and frankly learned more than I wanted to--but what happens between consenting adults is none of my business, and in my view not the business of the State.]

Tower 7

This is reasonably well done: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZEvA8BCoBw

As I have argued previously, I choose not to believe that George Bush was capable of the cold blooded murder of 3,000 Americans. For my part, I feel it was some combination of financial elites and the Russians. This is only a feeling.

That there is a mystery, though, is to my mind indisputable, and that the cowards and hacks at NIST failed utterly to be professional is equally indisputable.

It follows, too, that if you accept that 9/11 had a much larger roster of participants than we have been led to believe, then the role of the unwashed fools who did something close to nothing in Afghanistan diminishes proportionately, and so too does the importance of our war there.

Channel 1, Channel 2, and meat

For my own heuristic, analytical purposes, I have recently--and tentatively, as I may well change my mind-- adopted the term "Channel 1" for overt communications, and Channel 2 for latent, hidden, covert communications.

In all human communications there is what is said, and there is what is not said. There is the intent we are trying to communicate, and the effect which is being received. In this, I am borrowing somewhat from a similar conception proposed--as far as I know, not having studied this extensively--by the architects of Neurolinguistic Programming, Richard Bandler and John Grinder.

Put another way, Channel 1 is the conscious, and Channel 2 is the supposed "unconscious". I use the term supposed, because in my view we all regularly feel sexuality, aggression, anger, the need for dominance, and all the emotions that Freud supposed were hidden. I would in fact argue that the extent to which we regularly feel our negative as well as our positive emotions well describes our mental health.

The alternative, of course, is to pretend you are capable of hewing perfectly to a doctrine which requires only the expression of positive emotions, and which idea leads inexorably not to the extinction of negative emotions, but to their expression in ways which are "non-conscious", which is to say by a more or less second personality that comes to exist in you, that has as its job the management of all the angers, petty vanities, sense of insult, sexual frustrations, and other difficulties which are inevitable in a life in motion, bouncing as we all do into all sorts of people continually (unless we are hermits, and even they still have dialogues with others in their minds).

I got to thinking about this, and was wondering if eating meat is not perhaps one useful and overt way of disposing of some of our aggressive, negative energy. Animals eat one another. None of them are capable of self pity, even if they manifestly ARE capable of physical and emotional suffering.

This is the question: is it a REALISTIC hope that in an open, free social order that we can fully dispose of all negative emotions? In my own family, I try to teach the expression of feeling, but in a self conscious way such that whenever your pity party, or outburst is done, you can feel regret, apologize, and reintegrate yourself into the whole. I am trying to teach emotional intelligence, and of course model it myself.

I look at serious vegetarians, and what in effect seems to happen with the more ideological ones is they wind up hating HUMANS. Reading some of their literature, one gets the sense they would prefer humans go extinct. They have retained a sense of us and them, but simply chosen to side with the animals, with "Earth", against their fellows, and inhabit a tribe which consists only in those who share with them a sense of self loathing.

Food for thought.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tim Tebow and the new Pornography

I have said this before, but not for a while: sincerity--true sincerity, not tactically assumed sincerity--is the new pornography. It is shocking. It makes people uncomfortable. It is considered by many vile and disgusting, for the simple reason that by example it shows them the emptiness of their own lives.

We live in a craven society. Tim Tebow is no hero, but he is a man, a normal, healthy man. That is increasingly rare. He stands out by contrast among people accustomed to living in a world darkened by fear, and the cynicism that masks it.

Win or lose tonight, he will remain what he is.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A sense of futility kills more soldiers than our enemy

Did you know that more Americans have died from suicide than enemy action over the last ten years? It's true.

It is estimated that the suicide rate among veterans demobbed from fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq is as high as four times the national average. The US Department of Veteran Affairs calculates that over 6,000 former service personnel commit suicide every year.

Prior to 2001, the suicide rate among veterans was substantially lower than that of the general population.

I don't like the word empire. I don't like agreeing with peace-nik cowards whose main purpose in life is to prevent intelligent military activity. But I have to admit that it is unclear to me how much good our wars have done.

Why not try bringing most of our troops home from Afghanistan, leaving a few residual training brigades and enough planes for ground support missions, and seeing what happens? My guess is that the risk of attacks here, in America, will not go up at all.

I have run this idea by NUMEROUS veterans of Afghanistan, from grunts to Spec. Op types, and they like it.

Why are so manyh of us still there?

Ron Paul for President. I say this without the fervor many manage, but as a sober decision of someone who reads a lot, thinks a lot, and sees no good alternative. Paul is the only person since Reagan who might actually make a big difference.

Info Wars

I was recently quite discouraged to find all my normal media outlets--Drudge, Lucianne, The Blaze, and Yahoo--failed entirely to devote time to the significance of the authorization included in the most recent Defense appropriation for our military to detain and hold, indefinitely, American citizens deemed by someone somewhere to be engaged in "terrorist" activitiy. Since this includes what they are guessing you MIGHT have done, given the chance, we have entered the world of Minority Report, minus accurate psychics. We must assume for now that this power will not be abused, but the question must be asked: at what point do Americans stop being protected by the Constitution? The plain answer: NEVER. Even traitors are covered under the Constitution, and entitled to their due process.

Thus I have added infowars.com to my daily reading, since this is the sort of thing they cover. Huffington Post had it as well, but I can't stomach that place. They censor everything--they would not even grant me ONE post--and twist the news their way.

Since I guess it makes more sense, I'll link the piece I started out intending to post on a separate post.

Self employment

For someone with a reasonably high IQ, I can be remarkably stupid. When I became self employed 3-4 years ago, I had my tax returns done by an accountant, and didn't think too much of them.

Recently, however, I HAVE been looking at them, and one interesting fact emerges: I have to pay 15.3% of my income in FICA--which is to say Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and who knows what. This is over and above whatever my income tax is for my income level. You can read about it here: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=98846,00.html

I want to burrow this in your brain: ALL OF US PAY THIS. People who flip burgers at Wendy's. Waiters. Gas Station attendants. Every man and woman who works for an income in this country pays nearly 15% of every paycheck to support programs which are bankrupt and cannot possibly exist in their current forms 15 years from now, which is to say the soonest any person in the prime of their working career could expect to get any of that money back.

People don't see this for two reasons. First, the money is taken out before the check gets cut. Second, and more importantly, is the bastards in Washington have very cleverly required your employer to pay half of it. That means that they are sending money on your behalf to Washington that never shows up on a statement anywhere that you would see.

THIS IS MONEY THEY COULD HAVE PAID YOU. If they had not paid you, they could have used it for business expansion. Overall, economy wide, this would very clearly lead to business growth and growth in overall income.

There are just so many TRICKS these people play. Most all of us work nearly half the year to pay the salaries and benefits of people who contribute something close to NOTHING to our overall economy. The military, police, fire: yes, we need them. The rest of it though: throw it on the trash bin and leave me the hell alone.

The word fascist is becoming less repugnant to me in describing our current governmental order. In that regard, we need to keep in mind that the man who first ran FDR's New Deal more or less WAS a Fascist, being a keen admirer of Mussollini. We need to remember that the man who coined the term "New Deal" was an ardent admirer of Lenin's Soviet Union, and thought the rich should, if no lesser remedy presented itself, be shot. This is history, not hyperbole. And the programs they created remain with us.

Don't fool yourself: simply because we have not YET faced large scale disaster does not mean it cannot happen. Hitler was considered a joke--a bad joke--by most Germans, until they found they had to keep a copy of Mein Kampf on their tables to stay out of jail or worse.

There are days I want to get the hell out of a nation capable of the stupidity that put Obama in office, and which tolerates the continued daily new assaults on our freedom. But where would I go? As bad as it is here, it is much worse in almost every other nation on Earth.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Periodic Krugman piece

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/16/opinion/gop-monetary-madness.html?_r=1&WT.mc_id=NYT-E-I-NYT-E-AT-1221-L23&nl=el

For the record, I personally never predicted hyperinflation. It is plainly the case that the bulk of money creation happens through the fractional reserve banking system, and banks are not loaning out much money. We are PRIMED for hyperinflation, but that will only happen if the economy starts expanding significantly again, and that will only happen if we have a non-Socialist in the White House.

For the rest, though, Krugman is plainly wrong. The Fed caused the bubble AND the crash that started the recession of 1929. Herbert Hoover and to a much greater extent FDR EXTENDED the recession into a massive depression through idiotic monkeying with the economy that had never been tried before, which failed utterly--creating by far the worst Depression America has ever experienced--and which is only considered successful because of ideologically motivated hacks like Krugman who write the economic histories. Put bluntly, all socialists think FDR's policies SHOULD have worked, so they proclaim them as successful, and ignore and bury all evidence to the contrary.

Here is the simple fact about Austrian economics: it is based on the latent idea that all money creation is theft. If they did not quite put it that way, it was understood. Gold is capital. You have to buy it. You have to save money, and invest it. Fiat money is not capital. It is created ex nihilo, and the power to do so is the power to summon wealth to you without creating it, without contributing ANYTHING to our actual sum of productive capability, intellectual or physical.

Let me offer up an example that to my mind is quite stunning. We are in the course of building and deploying a new class of aircraft carriers, the Ford class: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_R._Ford_class_aircraft_carrier. Research and development for the class of carriers was about--I just closed the link--about $14 billion, and each carrier actually build will be, after cost overruns, about 10 billion. That sounds like a lot of money, doesn't it? There are an army (navy) of people looking this thing over, making sure the government doesn't get screwed by the contractors. Congress has to approve these expenditures, at least in terms of allocating money to the DoD.

Compare that to the decision of Ben Bernanke to create $600 billion ex nihilo. That is the equivalent of 600 [edit: make that a mere 60] state of the art aircraft carriers, of the sort no nation but perhaps China would even contemplate building. This money was created, again, FROM NOTHING. Zip. They write the check, and now it can be cashed.

Who was this money given to? We don't know. Can we ask? Yes, but we get only fragmentary reporting, after the fact, and that only because a Socialist--Bernie Sanders--was for once asking good questions, and got reporting inserted into the supposed Wall Street reform bill. I say supposed, since we can assume from the fact that the large firms on Wall Street supported it, that they viewed it as a competitive advantage.

THIS IS LUNACY. We have unelected people created incomprehensibly large amounts of money whenever they want, giving it to whomever they want, and doing so without supervision or even adequate reporting. From what little we do know, they are not even confining their activities to our borders, and are bailing out banks around the world.

Anyone who fails to condemn this very simply is not capable of the operation of common sense; or, they are aspiring totalitarians.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ron Paul's age

At 76, plainly this could be a factor. Yet, it could also be an asset. Towards the end of your life, do you become more or less concerned with appearances and your reputation? The fact that he is in his twilight years could well be argued to increase his claim that he will do what no American President has done to any significant extent in this century--at least since Harding: dramatically decrease the size AND POWER of the Federal Government.

I will add, too, that with regard to the newsletter issue, the best policy is to deny, deny, deny. We all know the game that is being played, and you can only win it with evasion and dishonesty. It was the Clinton policy, and if he were running, Clinton would easily be reelected today. Even if confronted with video to the contrary, he needs to deny, deny, deny, then focus on the fact that he is not and never has been a racist, but that our current President plainly has, speaking in his own book in a derogatory way about his maternal grandmother as a "typical white woman", spending his time hanging around radicals, and in particular spending hours weekly with the demonically racist and hateful Jeremiah Wright.

American Fascism

I try to avoid hyperbole, but waking up this morning I see both that a provision has been inserted into the most recent National Defense Authorization to seize and hold without Miranda, without Habeas Corpus, and without limit, anyone American citizen SUSPECTED of being an accomplice to, or participant in FUTURE terror acts. Essentially, any American can be detained without due process for any reason indefinitely. The military can do body snatches, and make people disappear, legally, just like they used to do all over Latin America.

This is unfuckingbelievable. That the goddamn idiots supposedly representing our interests signed on to this is simply inexplicable. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but it is truly beyond my capacity to understand how anyone could fail to see how this power could be abused, and how PATENTLY unConstitutional is it.

Here is a link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alton-lu/the-national-defense-auth_b_1180869.html

What is further inexplicable to me is why it is on HuffPost and not Drudge and The Blaze and Lucianne and Foxnews.

We need to be clear: OF COURSE the law will apply initially only to people like whoever they blew up in Yemen. Bad guy. His death was a benefit to the world. I get that. But if there is no DUE PROCESS in place, what is to prevent a situation like that in Enemy of the State, where an innocent person is targeted for political reasons, and not reasons of national security? What, in other words, is to prevent someone with the inclination and capacity for secrecy to do so from creating literal gulags in the American hinterlands, or transferring political opponents to Guantanamo Bay? My argument for Gitmo all along was these were bad people and they were NOT AMERICAN CITIZENS. With citizenship, though, you get all the RIGHTS which are enumerated under the Constitution, which include the right to a trial by jury.

Then I read our fucking First Amendment rights are under attack, in another foolish bill sponsored by Democrats: http://copyrightem.com/internet-copyocalypse-senate-bill-968-online-threats-to-economic-creativity

The pretext for this bill--and that is all it is--is that foreign nations are allowing the piracy of copyrighted materials--typically presumably movies and music--and that we need a means to stop this. However, the powers invested in the Attorney General in this bill are large, and largely discretionary. In pondering that, consider that he was quite willing to countenance the murder of a Border Patrol agent so that he could work to undermine the right to gun ownership in this country. He is an unprincipled asshole, with an anti-freedom agenda.

In effect, he can DECLARE a website to be a "pirate" website, and shut it down, with substantially NO supervision. This is a patent violation of the First Amendment. The way our system is supposed to work is you bring suit against someone for violating the law, go through due process, THEN you get them shut down. This is how it is supposed to work. It is not that there are procedures by means of which you can shut down offending websites.

This goes way, way too far.

What a crappy way to start the day. These things are quite real, and they are not getting covered by ANY media to the extent their potential importance warrants. Huffpost hit story one, but not story two.

Again: I understand the theoretical underpinnings of both laws. If the people governing us were saints, we would need NO legal restrictions on them, as they would invariably do the right thing. But reading history is a terrifying thing, and it is abundantly clear that large things start as small things. When Hitler's party won roughly one third of the vote--the largest single segment, but far, far short of a majority--he was put into a Cabinet as Prime Minister with a lot of other ministers who were expected to check him, and subject to a Chancellor--Paul Hindenburd--who could veto him. Little by little, though, he took power, took power, took power, and eventually upon Hindenburg's death was able, through trickery, to assume "emergency" powers that he never afterward relinquished.

I choose not to believe in organized conspiracies, but this sort of shit makes me worry. For his part, I can't believe Romney will do ANYTHING serious to shake the status quo. He will say what he needs to say to get elected, make some cosmetic alterations in office, but we will have to count ourselves lucky if after 2 years in office we have our monthly borrowing down to $100 billion a month. That is not the scale of change we need. Yes, he may stop Obamacare, but the extent of the disaster we face will not be much altered by simply slowing the pace of the wreck.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Hard work

Most of us think some period of seven days a week, 10-12 hours a day of work is hard. It isn't. Our deployed soldiers pretty much ALWAYS work 7 days a week, and at a rock bottom minimum 10 hours a day. When on longer patrols, they go out 48 hours straight at a time. The guys I talked with last night said they only got about 5 hours of sleep on average for the year they were there, and keep in mind their days not infrequently included getting shot at, and witnessing and inflicting death.

A Seabee I talked with said they worked 12 on/12 off for his year there (7 days a week, of course) and got rocketed nearly every afternoon. Since it was always just after the late afternoon mosque meeting got out, it was predictable, so not really dangerous (they of course had bunkers/shelters), but that the concussion rockets in particular still shocked your system. No doubt no few of them literally crapped their pants, which is not at all a sign of anything but an organic reaction to severe stress.

Our men and women are professionals. Of course there are all sorts of gripes and genuinely bad decisions, but the rank and file still warrants our admiration.

As I see it, there is likely no more sure means of learning to conquer self pity than service in the military. We know so little of how hard they work because they don't bitch about it. They bitch about overall strategy, specific individuals, the rules of engagement (if fired on, they can only fire back if someone gets hit), but never in my experience the hours of work, which are staggering by civilian standards.

Afghanistan

I was talking with a group of infantry guys that had literally just gotten back from Afghanistan. One of the more lovely details of Afghan behavior they mentioned was that pedophilia is apparently endemic. Men rape boys often, and not even their own kids.

As I look at this, several things seem clear. First, Afghanistan has no weapons of mass destruction, and no ready means of getting them. Second, no attacks have originated out of there in ten years, other than of course local terror attacks on Afghanis themselves. Third, if we left completely, it is unclear to me that any serious national security threat would emerge.

While I do not think leaving completely would be prudent, I will say again that I think we should bring 2/3rds of our men back. This was the plain sentiment of these guys. The Taliban deserved to get hit for what they did in facilitating the attacks by Bin Laden's team (who must have had help from an as-yet unidentified entity, as I have argued often). But it is not our job to civilize a nation that in large measure remains very primitive and rooted in ancient customs.