Posted by: bkivey | 3 January 2017

The Red Scare

In a story I could not believe was treated seriously, the Democrats apparently lost the election because Vladimir Putin told his State security apparatus to throw the election to Donald Trump by exposing damning emails from within the Democratic Party. This was such a desperate and transparent attempt to spin a disastrous election result I expected the story to die of laughter.

But it didn’t. The Democratic Party’s Ministry of Public Information decided this was a legitimate news story. Based on less evidence than is required for face time with an assistant district attorney, we were supposed to believe those dastardly Russians had worked to put someone in office more hostile to them than the Beloved Candidate. We knew that Progressive social policy is informed by the 1930’s: it seems they’ve advanced their foreign policy to the 1950’s. Progress!

What hasn’t changed is the Progressive thirst for power, and when the Russian angle didn’t work out entirely as hoped in that there wasn’t a massive outcry to ‘re-examine’ the election results, the Left started going after the other red menace, Republican Federal electors.

For Presidential elections there are two Constitutionally – mandated elections: the popular vote, and the Electoral College. Electors are apportioned according to each state’s Congressional delegation. Electors traditionally vote in accordance with their state’s popular vote, but they aren’t required to, and their election takes place some six weeks after the popular vote.

The purpose of the Electoral College is to mitigate vote fraud, and so act as a check on political machines. The delay between elections allows state elections to be certified and for Electors to see if, say, Delaware has 30 million votes for a candidate. It’s a useful institution with real value and relevance.

Unless you’re a Liberal on the losing side. Then a system you’ve lived with your entire life is suddenly ‘outdated’, ‘archaic’, and a ‘relic’. Now the election we were told by finger-wagging Progressives had to ‘be respected’ is suddenly suspect because the ‘right’ person didn’t win. Frankly, I’ll take the Russians. At least they’re consistent, and as one wag at GayPatriot.net said, if they did influence the election, then the Russians will have ironically saved us from socialism.

 

Posted by: bkivey | 2 January 2017

Alternate Reality

“This must be what going mad feels like.”

Simon Tam

Jaynestown

Firefly 2002

I didn’t know the result of the Presidential election until the afternoon of the day after. I’d cast my vote, and so cast what influence I could. After that it didn’t matter. The results were going to be whatever they were. Judging by the lack of riots and fires I’d figured Clinton had won, and was a bit surprised to find out otherwise. So the dire predictions of the Left hadn’t (yet) come true.

I’ve refrained form commenting on the election because I wanted to see how the Left would handle rejection. As expected, not well. First they went into deep denial, then sought to blame others for their failure. This is all pretty normal for people facing a loss, but what sets the aftermath of this election apart from others is the degree to which the Left has denied reality. They not only refuse to acknowledge the failure, but are so convinced that they are right that they can’t admit any explanation other than the evil Others have taken what is theirs. There is only One True Way for a society to behave, and anything else is the very incarnation of all that is wrong with people.

Progressivism has always been about the cult of personality. There is a Progressive ideology, but it’s the Rule of Man, and so is fractured and inconstant. Progressive leadership consists of those who most loudly proclaim the current Party line while using the modus operandi of manufactured conflict to best advantage. These folks enjoy massive public exposure from the morphing of the Fourth Estate into the Fourth Branch and the near-total takeover of academia and entertainment by the Party. Those who wish to remain in the Party’s good graces must loudly proclaim their support. In the absence of a unifying philosophy greater than the individual a person hoping to improve their lot must curry favor with those increasingly closer to the center of power. It’s very much about who you know, or to whom you profess allegiance.

The subjugation of self to another is the foundation of cults. Cults seek to immerse their followers in an alternate reality dominated by a figurehead. Some, like the more moderate religions and the military, are useful and necessary, but most cults are varying degrees of harmful to their members and society. Fortunately most cults are small and so the damage is limited.

What I was unprepared for after the election was the degree to which half the country appears to be living in an alternate reality. A reality they think is concrete and actual. I saw glimmers of this after Bernie Sanders was ousted from the race. People were actually distraught because they’d put all their eggs in the Bernie basket and now it wasn’t going to happen. Yes, you still have to pay your college loans. But there weren’t a lot of these folks, so I didn’t pay it too much mind.

Then after the election, a lot of pieces like this appeared:

I had been living for less than 48 hours with the knowledge that Donald Trump would be our next President, but the whole year had already been so horrible, I had been taking refuge in ambient house music for months.

The airport was crowded. I’ve flown out of PDX countless times, and was surprised at how many international travelers were departing that morning. Had they all rescheduled their flights to get out of here as soon as possible, before they were all rounded up and deported, or worse? What a mad time to be visiting the US, or to be watching the US, or to be the US.

I felt paranoid, and not without good reason. I tried to peer into the mind and soul of every strange face I encountered. For whom had they voted? Were they friend or foe? I can see no stronger line in the division of this country than one’s feelings about a Trump presidency. Some are feeling a powerfully enabled joy; others, a crushing, defeated sadness. I reside firmly in the latter category. The sadness I feel, and hopefully the anger as well, will dissipate. But in the anti-Trump camp I will reside, until I die. I’m not visiting.

The flight was a blur. I drifted in and out of consciousness, sounds and images from my sleepless night swirling in my head like a dream: Birdo in the Super Blooper. Tracy Does Conan. “Little Fluffy Clouds.” I opened my eyes to see Delta was showing this year’s Ghostbusters remake on its tiny screens. I wondered how, in this culture of swelling misogyny, were we ever going to elect a female president? This country, overpopulated with crying, hate-filled manbabies, couldn’t even deal with women ghostbusters. I closed my eyes, hoping that when I awoke we would be in New York, or back home in Portland, or it would be January 2021, and Bruce Springsteen or Taylor Swift was about to be inaugurated.

We landed at JFK around two in the afternoon. I thought of JFK, then thought of Trump again. I wondered if Trump would have a presidency similar to JFK’s: short, with an exciting ending. We took a Lyft to our Airbnb in Williamsburg. We ate pizza, played pinball, and watched Guardians of the Galaxy on cable. I finally crashed around nine, and slept for about 15 hours.

New York is the city that never sleeps, but it’s the first place I got a good night’s sleep since hearing the worst news of my life.

 

Hutch Harris is a guest columnist for the Portland Mercury and this piece appeared in the 23 November issue.

“I felt paranoid, and not without good reason.”

Nearly half the country is of similar mind. Without their leader in power they have nothing. Or believe they do. Perception is reality to the extent that when actual reality happened they couldn’t cope. Now the self-righteous fueled projection of the Left is out in full, accusing their opposition of the very things they’ve publicly said they’d like to do. It is mass media incited mass hysteria. It’s irrational and mad and it’s damned frightening.

There are perhaps a couple of glimmers of hope. The first is that the Left has shown itself for what it is. The second is that perhaps some of the more rational people will start to examine their allegiance to the Democratic Party. I’ve seen a few pieces where just such reflection takes place. One may hope the forces of barbarism are not yet completely ascendant.

 

Posted by: bkivey | 1 January 2017

Holiday Etiquette

We’re at the end of the holiday season in the US, and for no other reason than I want to, I’m posting my holiday practices.

Thanksgiving

Not working. Never have: not looking to start. Spending time with people, eating like an American, watching football, not giving a damn.

Christmas

See above. As a nominal Christian I recognize the day for what it is. Christmas marks the start of for what is for all intents and purposes ‘Dead Week’. People ‘work’, but they’re kind of going through the motions. I’m no different. It’s a goal of mine to be able to take this week off. Maybe in Florida.

New Year’s Day

Kind of a non-holiday for me. If I get it off, great! If not, no biggie. I have to get the books squared away for the new year anyway. This year I had it off. All football, all the time.

Snow

It snowed about 1/2″ early on New Year’s Day. This isn’t looking good for the Winter. Temps aren’t expected to be above freezing for the next several days, so fun times driving. For those keeping score at home, this weather is well below normal.

It is my sincere wish that everyone find a little peace and progress this year. We’re a small part of a big Universe: let’s make our difference here.

 

 

 

Posted by: bkivey | 1 January 2017

Day One and Done

It’s Day One of 2017: 2016 is done, and happy I am to see it. Not a great year for institutions and famous individuals; the personal year was not so bad. A family funeral in July is still being reckoned with. If you want to see what happened, there’s the archives. This is just a post to review the blogging year.

Best Performance Chronicling the End of Empire

GayPatriot.net. Contributor V the K does a very good job tracking the increasing insanity as institutions and individuals completely lose perspective and rationality.

Most Convincing Harbinger of the Apocalypse

Cubs Win!

Those are the only at-large categories this year. A little closer to home:

Most Popular Posts 2016

  1. Nine High IQ Societies
  2. Eight Unusual High IQ Societies
  3. Home Page
  4. Barriers to Social Mobility
  5. PIN Codes for Geeks and Nerds
  6. Pilot Boat Peacock (image)
  7. Glacier National Park Pt 3
  8. How Much Wood Would  A Woodchuck Chuck
  9. Canada Vacation Pt. 6
  10. Stone Knives and Bearskins

Where In The World?

  1. US
  2. UK
  3. Canada
  4. Germany
  5. Brazil
  6. Italy
  7. Australia
  8. France
  9. European Union
  10. Philippines

 

 

Posted by: bkivey | 25 December 2016

In Hoc Anno Domini

 

When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in bondage. There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar.

Everywhere there was civil order, for the arm of the Roman law was long. Everywhere there was stability, in government and in society, for the centurions saw that it was so. But everywhere there was something else, too. There was oppression – for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar. There was the tax gatherer to take the grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the le­gions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave largess to the people. There was the impresser to find recruits for the circuses. There were executioners to quiet those whom the emperor proscribed. What was a man for but to serve Caesar?

There was persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?

Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.

And the voice from Galilee, which would defy Caesar, offered a new Kingdom in which each man could walk upright and bow to none but his God. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. And he sent this gospel of the Kingdom of Man into the uttermost ends of the earth.

So the light came into the world and the men who lived in darkness were afraid, and they tried to lower a cur­tain so that man would still believe sal­vation lay with the leaders.

But it came to pass for a while in divers places that the truth did set man free, although the men of dark­ness were offended and they tried to put out the light. The voice said, Haste ye. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come upon you, for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

Along the road to Damascus the light shone brightly. But afterward Paul of Tarsus, too, was sore afraid. He feared that other Caesars, other prophets, might one day persuade men that man was nothing save a servant unto them, that men might yield up their birthright from God for pottage and walk no more in freedom.

Then might it come to pass that darkness would settle again over the lands and there would be a burning of books and men would think only of what they should eat and what they should wear, and would give heed only to new Caesars and to false prophets. Then might it come to pass that men would not look upward to see even a winter’s star in the East, and once more, there would be no light at all in the darkness.

And so Paul, the apostle of the Son of Man, spoke to his brethren, the Galatians, the words he would have us remember afterward in each of the years of his Lord:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

This [Wall Street Journal] editorial was written in 1949 by the late Vernon Royster and has been published annually since. .

Posted by: bkivey | 24 December 2016

The Legal Night Before Christmas

Probably my favorite Christmas Eve parody, this piece has appeared in a number of publications. I don’t know the author, but they certainly deserve full credit. All I’m fairly certain of is they are a lawyer.

Somewhere in Christiandom:

Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter “the House”) a general lack of stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to a mouse.

A variety of foot apparel, e.g., stocking, socks, etc., had been affixed by and around the chimney in said House in the hope and/or belief that St. Nick AKA/St. Nicholas AKA/Santa Claus (hereinafter “Claus”) would arrive at sometime thereafter.

The minor residents, i.e., the children, of the aforementioned House were located in their individual beds and were engaged in nocturnal hallucinations, i.e., dreams, wherein visions of confectionery treats, including, but not limited to, candies, nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance, cavort and otherwise appear in said dreams.

Whereupon the party of the first part (sometimes hereinafter referred to as “I”), being the joint-owner in fee simple of the House with the parts of the second part (hereinafter “Mamma”), and said Mamma had retired for a sustained period of sleep. (At such time, the parties were clad in various forms of headgear, e.g., kerchief and cap.)

Suddenly, and without prior notice or warning, there did occur upon the unimproved real property adjacent and appurtenant to said House, i.e., the lawn, a certain disruption of unknown nature, cause and/or circumstance. The party of the first part did immediately rush to a window in the House to investigate the cause of such disturbance.

At that time, the party of the first part did observe, with some degree of wonder and/or disbelief, a miniature sleigh (hereinafter “the Vehicle”) being pulled and/or drawn very rapidly through the air by approximately eight (8) reindeer. The driver of the Vehicle appeared to be and in fact was, the previously referenced Claus.

Said Claus was providing specific direction, instruction and guidance to the approximately eight (8) reindeer and specifically identified the animal co-conspirators by name: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen (hereinafter “the Deer”). (Upon information and belief, it is further asserted that an additional coconspirator named “Rudolph” may have been involved.)

The party of the first part witnessed Claus, the Vehicle and the Deer intentionally and willfully trespass upon the roofs of several residences located adjacent to and in the vicinity of the House, and noted that the Vehicle was heavily laden with packages, toys and other items of unknown origin or nature. Suddenly, without prior invitation or permission, either express or implied, the Vehicle arrived at the House, and Claus entered said House via the chimney.

Said Claus was clad in a red fur suit, which was partially covered with residue from the chimney, and he carried a large sack containing a portion of the aforementioned packages, toys, and other unknown items. He was smoking what appeared to be tobacco in a small pipe in blatant violation of local ordinances and health regulations.

Claus did not speak, but immediately began to fill the stocking of the minor children, which hung adjacent to the chimney, with toys and other small gifts. (Said items did not, however, constitute “gifts” to said minors pursuant to the applicable provisions of the US Tax Code.)

Upon completion of such task, Claus touched the side of his nose and flew, rose and/or ascended up the chimney of the House to the roof where the Vehicle and Deer waited and/or served as “lookouts.” Claus immediately departed for an unknown destination.

However, prior to the departure of the Vehicle, Deer and Claus from said House, the party of the first part did hear Claus state and/or exclaim:
“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”
Or words to that effect.

 

Posted by: bkivey | 8 December 2016

ACA Denial

“And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:”

Matthew 7:26 KJV

In October the local paper of record published an article by Amy Goldstein of The Washington Post covering a speech by President Obama in which he talked about the Affordable Care Act (I am unable to find this article to link). The gist of the speech seems to have been that more Americans than ever have health care insurance, even as the law has made coverage more expensive for many.

The first part is true, and the president tried to spin the second part as a feature rather than a bug, or at least not something really worth worrying about, because there’s more legislation to be passed and more money to be appropriated. And if future presidents and Congresses won’t do that, they’re waging war on society’s most vulnerable.

Six years after implementation, the ACA is working, or more accurately not working, exactly as every rational person said it would. Every dire outcome has been realized, and nearly none of the benefits. Sure, some folks have health care insurance that wouldn’t have before, but they’re not paying for it. The cost curve is not bending downward, families are not saving the touted $2500 annually in health costs, insurance is not becoming more affordable, and health plan selection is becoming ever more limited. All predicted, and all pooh-poohed by Democrats as Republican fear-mongering. It’s a train wreck of legislation that was known to be a train wreck by those who pushed it. The fact is that ACA was never about increased access to health care. It was always, as is every Democrat initiative, a way to gain control over people.

ACA can be traced back to the 1960’s government health care programs of Medicare and Medicaid. Old people vote, so the thinking was the more old people the politicians could enslave help through other people’s money, the more power they could retain. The next step was to get younger voters hooked on government largess, and that process came to fruition with Hillarycare in 1994. Progressives are nothing if not patient, and Hillarycare morphed into the Obamacare of 2010. Passed on single-party vote after some shady deal-making, ACA is President Obama’s legacy legislation.

Except he doesn’t want it. In his speech he stated:

“They can even change the name to Reagancare or PaulRyancare. I don’t care about credit, I just want it to work.”

Well, he was all about the credit from 2006 to 2014. Now that the law is fully implemented, he wants no part of it. What he does want is for others to clean up the mess. That’s a bit of a reversal from 2009:

“But I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don’t mind cleaning up after them, but don’t do a lot of talking.”

Obama and his minions created the mess, and now they’re doing a lot of talking. Part of the talking is that in order to address the systemic flaws of ACA, there should be an expansion of subsidies. Let’s be clear: if a system can’t operate without continuous injection of outside resources, it is by definition not sustainable. Calling for a massive infusion of money is precisely the reason health care costs are out of control. There’s no correlation between cost, service, and ability to pay. It is the antithesis of the free-market system of inherent cost control.

Typical of Progressive initiatives, there’s no acknowledgment that perhaps the system is flawed. Instead we’re just told to accept the premise as if it’s immutable. “That’s just the way things are. We have to deal with it.” It’s an attempt to place man-made constructions on the same level as natural law. Progressive ideas have little relation to or basis in the way things actually work, so they can’t effectively address problems. By distracting people from that fact, they can portray themselves as doers and fixers when in fact they are neither.

Snow Days

Where I live we’ll usually get one or two light snows annually, usually after the first of the year and prior to March. Our last big snow was in February 2014. We’ve had two snows this month: the first a few days ago which didn’t stick, and today, which did. More is forecast for the middle of next week. I’m reminded of December 2009 when it wouldn’t stop snowing, and we had 12″ – 14″ on the ground by month’s end. I prefer snow to stay in the mountains where it belongs, and where I can visit it if so inclined.

 

 

 

Posted by: bkivey | 28 November 2016

Occupy Footnote

The Occupy Wall Street movement’s fifth anniversary was this past September, and AP reporters Deepti Hajela and Michael Balsamo wrote an article looking at the impact of the global demonstrations. Considering the self-important and self-righteous nature of the protesters, the movement’s lasting impact has been nearly non-existent. While books have been written and graduate degrees obtained out of the protests, there wasn’t much there to start with, and less so today.

The Occupy movement started as a protest against perceived income inequality between the wealthiest 1% and the remainder of the population, aka ‘the 99%’, and the initial occupation of NYC’s Zuccotti Park quickly spread around the world. To most outside observers, the movement looked like a lot of unemployed trustafarians occupying public spaces, disrupting traffic with demonstrations, and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Demographic surveys of the protesters would seem to bear this out. Despite AP reports that the New York protesters displayed “diversity of age, gender and race”, enumeration showed that the protesters were over 80% White. That’s about the same percentage of pallor people you’ll find in Portland, a city often derided by the Left for its lack of racial diversity. A large number of respondents reported that they were  “unconstrained by highly demanding family or work commitments”, while over a third reported annual incomes over $100,000. The numbers bear out the perception that the movement was largely the province of White, relatively well-to-do or unemployed people with nothing better to do.

While the motives of the protest were fairly clear, what was less so was how the protesters thought camping out in public spaces would accomplish their goals. Was the feeling that wealthy people would see a bunch of loud, annoying people rendering city cores unlivable and say, ‘Hey, a lot of people are unhappy with the fact I have money. I must immediately give it away.”

Occupy takes credit for bringing ‘income-inequality’ to the national conversation and introducing the $15/ hour minimum wage. It was perhaps lost on the 76% of protesters with college degrees that setting the wage floor at a figure previously reserved for skilled labor is going to marginalize those looking to enter the job market, creating further income inequality. One protester noted that the  “. . .  movement was also inspired by the idea that a small handful of elites were using their power to accumulate wealth at the expense of the many, . . ” Entirely true, and the elites referred to are almost entirely Democrats. The Clinton’s are exhibit ‘A’. The ‘elites’ were using the protesters right to their face, and they were, and are, too stupid to realize it.

If you want change, you have to work for it. As in, actual work. You have to get whatever education is required, find a societal contribution you can do and for which someone will pay you, and go to work. If you think business should be run differently, then you or your like-minded friends can start a business and run it however you see fit. (I can’t think of a single business run according to Progressive principles that’s still in business.) If you think other people have too much money, get some of your own. Real, lasting change comes from the bottom up. Throwing a temper tantrum doesn’t accomplish anything except expose your basic inability to deal with reality.

Strike Debt

One of Occupy’s efforts is to buy defaulted student loans from banks, then forgive them. If someone wants to use their money to pay for someone else’s education, that’s fine. Occupy is using private money to fund an effort they believe in. Nothing wrong with that, and they deserve credit for taking action that has real results.

The Emptiness of Progressivism

Seen recently on a bookstore door:

beaverton-powells-door

This is pretty much Progressivism: Stating the obvious, or things that decent people take as a matter of course, then claiming that because you don’t overtly manifest your position, you’re automatically ‘against’ the things Progressives claim. It’s 100% horse-shit, and I refuse to allow these people to define the conversation.

Posted by: bkivey | 20 November 2016

Top Down Construction

In 2015 the City of Portland created the Equitable Contracting and Purchasing Commission to, according to the Mission Statement:

The Office of Equity and Human Rights provides education and technical support to City staff and elected officials, leading to recognition and removal of systemic barriers to fair and just distribution of resources, access and opportunity, starting with issues of race and disability.

The key word here is ‘distribution’, as if resources, access, and opportunity are things that are handed down from on high rather than earned.

In September The Oregonian’s Brad Schmidt published and article explaining how the Commission was unhappy with the city for failing to ensure gains by women and minorities in the construction field. It seems the percentage of non-White involvement is stagnating or slightly declining, and it’s the responsibility of city leadership to address that.

The city council set a goal of 27% participation by women and minorities on city-let contracts. The latest figures show a 30% engagement level by the target demographic. One might say the goal has been achieved. According to the US Census Bureau, non-Whites of all flavors make up about 28% of the Portland population. So proportional representation, that favorite stalking horse of the Left, has been achieved. It’s true that women make up half the population, but not every, or even most, women want construction jobs. The council has done what it was supposed to do, so everyone should pat themselves on the back and move on.

But that’s not how Progressivism works. The goal isn’t to achieve results, it’s to use a perceived problem as a way to power. And in fact that appears to be what the Commission members are doing. There’s a perception people are using the Commission as a bully pulpit to pressure city officials into allocating more money for minority outreach programs. If you look at the commission member’s biographies, most of them have spent their lives working in some sort of government programs or serving on government boards and commissions. It is quite amazing how many programs there are for people of color and women to access the building trades. And that’s just the programs these folks have been involved in. If you’re a woman or minority and want to learn a trade, there’s no lack of opportunity.

Enter Maurice Rahming. Mr. Rahming came up through the ranks as an electrician, and now owns a general contracting firm. Mr. Rahming knows as well as anyone the immediate nature of the construction industry. Deficient skills and abilities can’t be hidden. The results of incompetence range from shoddy work to death. His complaint is that too many minorities are in non-skilled rather than skilled jobs, and that the city is “denying people that pathway” if it doesn’t monitor minority participation in the building trades.

The ‘pathway’ to skilled jobs isn’t government monitoring, it’s people getting themselves to school or entering an apprenticeship to get those jobs. Sprinkled among the Commission’s member’s resumes are any number of government programs designed to get women and minorities into construction. It doesn’t appear lack of opportunity or awareness is the problem. What may be the problem is the climate of helplessness government involvement inculcates. The average person isn’t going to be motivated to improve their opportunities if they know that people will give them stuff.

Every person on the Commission knows that you don’t build a structure from the top down, but they don’t seem to realize building a society works the same way. If you want more kinds of people in a certain field, you should be motivating them from middle school on to obtain the skills they’ll need to succeed. Learning a trade is real empowerment, while expecting a bureaucratic hand gives a false sense of achievement.

Posted by: bkivey | 7 November 2016

Severance of Responsibility

To the extent possible I’ve been actively not paying attention to political ads. I don’t have TV, so that helps, but watching sports at the bar I’m going to see a few. If I’m unlucky, the sound will be on. Ugh. I remarked to one person that I’d vote for whomever promised to go home and shut up for four years. Six months of campaigning should be enough. Two years? Please.

Despite not paying attention, I do know that this Presidential election is a hot mess. The two major-party candidates are near-caricatures of their respective parties, and for the usually reliable third-party Libertarian choice the candidate appears to have lost his mind. It may be that not voting is the sanest vote of all.

The Western democracies resemble nothing so much as medievel fiefdoms. A small ruling class rotates amongst the baronys while turf-building with money appropriated from the peasantry citizenry. Government at nearly every level long ago morphed from ‘conducting the people’s business’ to ‘conducting the ruling classes business’. The only reason a populist like Donald Trump would be in a position to win the land’s highest office is if people understood they’d been essentially shut out of their own government’s management and were so frustrated they would do anything to change the status quo.

And people are frustrated. It’s a negative undercurrent in American culture. People see more and more money buying fewer and fewer results. Nothing works and nobody knows anything.  The ruling class more openly commit transgressions that would land anyone else in an ocean of hot water. The leader of one of the major political parties, while running for President, openly mocked and denigrated the majority of Americans in a comment designed to win votes. The mentally ill are defining the culture. People are angry and frustrated and not entirely sure how we ended up here. This melancholy is doubly disturbing because that’s not how we see ourselves as a culture. But outside a truck commercial, when’s the last time you heard about American can-do spirit?

In a republic the citizens have the opportunity to elect the politicians. In theory this allows the stockholders to pick the management team. When the US had a mostly rural population, this worked pretty well. In smaller communities the results of political decisions are more immediately apparent and thus the decision-makers more accountable.

And that’s really the key to effective government, or any sort of management. Accountability keeps people honest. The flip side is that the boss has the responsibility to hold their people accountable. If those in charge don’t discharge their responsibilities, the system breaks down as those once held accountable operate more freely and can in time amass more power than their putative superiors. As this process develops, rule-of-law is replaced by rule-of-few. Or one.

The Founders anticipated this; thus their call for an educated populace. They reasoned that an educated person could evaluate the political options on offer and choose based on knowledge of history and within the framework of the Constitution. Their thinking was also that people would be engaged in the political process. At the time of it’s founding, the US was almost unique in its system of government. The Founders figured that people knew how rare was the chance to run their own country: surely people would be engaged.

An opposition press was also high on the Founder’s requirements for a workable republic. Even in late 18th century America, people were busy. Then as now, people had lives to lead. The press was seen as the primary tool for keeping the populace informed and the politicians honest (or at least less dishonest). From before the country’s founding and right through the 19th Century American journalism took to the role with what might be described as glee. Over time the press, often describing itself as the voice of the common man, found itself more ideologically aligned with particular political elements. The practical result was the gradual erosion of the sense of political responsibility from the common consciousness and the same effect on politician’s morals.

Our world now is one where most people don’t make the connection between politicians and quality of life. Cities in the wealthiest country in history are crumbling to the ground and there’s no mass outrage at politicians because there’s no sense of responsibility on the part of the voters. This is most evident in cities and states where single-party rule is the de facto government. In a stunning display of mass brainwashing, people are watching their lives worsen as they vote the same people to office, and voting without intention of holding those elected accountable is a meaningless exercise.

Of course, it’s much easier to hold people accountable when you know what they’re doing. The largest part of mass media now actively colludes with the ruling class to hide their foibles and legal shenanigans. Wikileaks exposed things about the Democratic Party that would have put nearly any other organization out of business and opened numerous criminal investigations. Instead, it was a brief flare quickly smothered until Oh look! A squirrel! About the only way to find out what’s going on in the US is independent media; still largely unregulated (although Congress has tried), and the foreign press.

If we’re unhappy with our situation, the first step is to realize that it is our situation. We got ourselves here. The argument that it was ‘those others’ that did it is irresponsible. It’s still our country. People say they’re busy: are they really? A letter, a phone call, an email to an elected official. Is it really such a large price to pay to conceivably change the political landscape? While as a society we may have collectively decided not to hold those in power accountable, we still retain the ability to do so.

 

 

Older Posts »

Categories