Archive for October 2006
OK, so this posting doesn’t really fit into this site. Well, maybe the Enneagram analysis sort of does. But anyway, I read about the Nicole DuFresne murder case this week and it really captured my interest. Here’s my two podcasts on the matter:
(105) The Murder of Nicole DuFresne: Personal Interest (The murderer of Nicole was convicted this week. The story interested me because reading about her life made think of the women in my life.)
(106) The Murder of Nicole DuFresne: Enneagram Analysis (An Enneagram analysis of why Nicole acted the unfortunate way she did on the night of her murder.)
I found the New York Times Magazine article An Elephant Crackup? quite interesting. The piece draws an interesting connection between crazy elephants in Uganda and crazy rebel force humans in Uganda. I, of course, take the connection further and see parallels with the craziness in America. While the article sees poaching as the cause of the elephant craziness, I see Corporate satisfaction of human physiological needs as the root cause of American craziness. Confusing? Listen to the podcast:
Read this posting by Jim Kunstler. I’ve had this feeling in my gut the past 4-5 months that we’re in a temporary lull before a financial collapse. Gold has sunk down into the high $500s after peaking last Spring at over $700. Crude has dropped down to the high $50s after peaking just last August in the high $70s.
I’ve been feeling for awhile that this is a great time to get into one of those commodities-based exchange-traded funds, heavy on oil. But our finances are not in position to do that right now as boldly as I’d like. So I’ve hoping that the false sense of financial security in this nation will continue for a few months, giving me time to buy in.
But then I read Kunstler’s piece in which he methodically explains why this false good feeling is going to end, end soon, and end with a bang.
Oh well. At least the value of our gold investment will get a nice bump — as will the value of my increasingly likely prediction about the prices of gold and crude.
Yet another of my predictions seems on the verge of coming true. This one concerns my prediction of a successful open source political campaign in which the winning candidate expressly accepted no money donations. I made that prediction in November, 2004. Today, in late 2006, it’s looking quite possible.
A fellow named William O’Neill is running for a spot on the Ohio State Supreme Court. The incumbent judge he is running against, Terrence Oâ€™Donnell, seems to be, more or less, a whore. O’Neill’s campaign slogan is “No Money from No Body”. Check out O’Neill’s campaign page.
Now, my prediction states: “At the local, state, or national level, a politician will run and win an election campaign refusing to accept any money donations, and instead will accept only in-kind donations.” Looking at O’Neill’s campaign site, it would seem that he satisfies all of my prediction constraints — except, arguably, for the fact that he is a judge, and maybe not a politician.
However, I’d argue that since judges in Ohio are elected, Ohio has by definition turned its judges into politicians.
A counter-argument runs that O’Neill’s own pitch claims that “money and judges don’t mix”. Indeed, the judiciary, the legislature, and the executive, are three very different branches of government. The arguments against judges accepting bribes seem especially clear. And, well, I must confess that I did have the picture of an executive or legislature candidate in my head when I made the prediction — not a judge.
But a counter-counter-argument says that bribes to executives and/or legislators are similarly verboten — see, e.g., Tom DeLay.
So I’m counting this Ohio Supreme Court election as being “in play” for my open source campaign prediction. What do you think?
In a posting below, commenter Andy pointed to HR 6166, a bill in Congress that, on its face, seems to threaten the civil liberty of all Americans. Looking at a bullet point list of the bill’s highlights, it certainly seems that Congress may be quite interested in granting the President imperial powers. In other words, they’re about to do exactly what the Founders feared most: they’re about to make the President King.
In history, including America’s own, Kings have used their “God-granted” absolute powers to stamp out foes, including mere critics. That is, in the past, Kings have had citizens thrown in jail for nothing more than political dissent. In fact, until the 1950s, the US government did the same thing from time to time (see, e.g., the “Wobblies“).
But the 1950s saw a breakthrough in the US concerning the rights of dissenters. Many, if not most, recall the 1954 case of Brown vs. Board of Education that concerned the equal rights of African Americans. But fewer recall the 1957 case of Yates vs. United States. That was the first case in which the Supreme Court actually protected the People’s right to forcefully dissent against the government. In that case, the speech at issue went so far as to “advocat[e] the forceful overthrow of the government.”
In the 50 years that have passed since Yates, it has become axiomatic that Americans can say just about whatever the hell they want without government recourse. This axiom has been embraced by both the Far Left and the Far Right in America.
Of course, there are cracks in this edifice. The BBC video that Sean blogged about — The Power of Nightmares — depicted some youths of Middle Eastern heritage being arrested and convicted of terrorism. This was in the wake of 9/11. One set of these kids seemed to be simply visiting Disneyland, while another set seemed simply to be playing paintball in Virginia.
I haven’t bothered reading about these cases. I am troubled that innocent people might have gone to jail. But here is what I suspect I’d find in those cases: (1) every defendant was a practising Muslim; and (2) every defendant expressed support for the visions (including perhaps forceful overthrow of the US government) and violent actions of Islamic extremists, including Bin Laden.
Now if (1) and (2) had been the only evidence in these cases, Yates would have prohibited convictions. That’s why “actions” like video-ing Disneyland and playing paintball were necessary to the cases. And sure, since those actions are about as common as taking a poo, it would seem the government may have accomplished an end-around Yates in those cases.
Still, even if those cases were fishy, I say they were a product of the paranoia that gripped America in the first couple of years after 9/11. But since then, the paranoia has subsided.
For example, consider the most recent “terrorism” cases in Canada and Britain. Say what you will about those cases being governmental frame-ups. But if they are frame-ups, the government is at least coming up with better, more narrow “stories”. In other words, the “actions” of the “terrorist” defendants have gone from visiting Disneyland and playing paint ball, to allegedly ordering tons of explosive fertilizer and allegedly creating explosive liquids.
It’s much scarier when the government criminalizes common behavior like taking a poo, versus resorting to making up elaborate frame-up stories that are untrue. We have no chance defending against the first; against the second, we have at least a puncher’s chance.
Basically what I’m saying is that the big fear of the Far Left that government will revert to pre-1957 behavior and start criminalizing basic political dissent (like, for example, the political dissent in our various blogs) is misguided. I say this because the Far Right has the same fear. And I don’t just mean those jokers who dress up in military fatigues and call themselves “militias”.
No. I mean a dinosaur like Pat Buchanan. Check out this quote: “[W]hen we hear phrases like ‘new world order,’ we release the safety catches on our revolvers.” What’s this guy concerned about? Check Buchanan’s positions on various issues.
Sure, the guy is a reactionary on many social issues. But I, for one, read what he has to say on Agriculture (well, I’m thinking about CSAs), Campaign Reform, Congressional Reform, Energy, Environment (well, I do like the word “local”), Foreign Policy, Health Care (well, at least he does “get” there’s something wrong with Big Pharm), Sanctions, Social Security, Taxes, and Trade, and observe that he seems a lot closer to Green-libertarianism than either Democrats or Republicans.
My bottom line: both the Far Left and the Far Right share an equal interest in resisting any effort of the government to criminalize political dissent. So the likelihood of HR 6166 leading to that effect seems remote.
Conversely, if the pre-Yates nightmare scenario does come to pass, then it, like Kelo before it, will serve to awaken the Far Left and Far Right to their common interest. In that case, life in America would become quite “interesting.”
Given my recent postings about Democrats and Republicans, I figured this was a good time to re-visit my theory about the purposes of these two parties. I think I referred to these purposes in my earlier writings and predictions. But here it is:
Over the past century or so, the purpose of the Democrats has been “progress.” The purpose of the Republicans during the same period has been “reaction” or, symmetrically stated, “regress.”
Specifically, the purpose of the Democrats has been to decentralize power in the nation. It has done so by promoting the liberation of historically suppressed groups. So, over the past century, the Democrats have served to promote the interests of labor, African Americans, women, gays, environmentalists, and just about any and all other suppressed minorities. The Democrats have promoted these minority interests via the various tools of federal government (e.g. taxes, bureaucratic regulation, Supreme Court dicta, etc).
A century ago, in 1906, all of these minorities served as the “underclass” in America. Each had little voice, little opportunity, and little power. That is, this power was “little” in comparison with today. So it seems fair to say that, over the past century, the Democrats have resoundingly succeeded in their progressive mission. The Democrats should get a medal or something.
The Republicans, on the other hand, have also succeeded. But while the job of the Democrats has been difficult, creative, and even heroic, the job of the Republicans has been rather simple. This is becaue the Republican job over the past century has been merely to accept the main thrust of Democratic progression, and then simply prune the excesses.
For example, take abortion. In the face of Republican opposition, Democrats pushed for this right of women. In the 1970s, this effort finally broke through with the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision which announced a firm right of abortion in the due process clause of the Constitution. Ever since, the Republicans have been working to prune back this absolute right to something more moderate. True, extremists in that party have called for complete reversal. But the party knows that complete reversal would be political suicide since upwards of 70% of the nation have accepted some form of abortion right.
So there you have American politics over the past century. The Democrats do the heavy lifting. They do the tough, imaginative, creative work. But to do this work, they have to push through the roadblocks set up by the Republicans. But eventually, with the wind of the People at their backs, the Democrats push hard enough to break through. But having pushed so hard, they end up having “gone too far.”
Enter the “sanitation engineer” Republicans. Their job is quite easy. They don’t have to think up anything too creative. All they need do is take the progressive world as it is — ie. as the Democrats have created it — and then identify the excesses and prune them (see, e.g. deregulation, tax reduction, abortion restriction, blah, bah, blah).
Of course, since the Republican job is so easy, these folks make quick work with their pruning activties. But history shows that each of the parties is allotted about 20 years to do their work. For the Democrats, 20 years is not nearly enough time to complete all of their creative, progressive work. So when the 20-year alarm clock rings on their watch, the Democrats are caught breathless, and desperate for just a little more time.
The Republicans, on the other hand, finish with their regressive work in the first half of their 20-year allotment (see, e.g., the Reagan Revolution). That leaves the Republicans with much free time on their hands. I mean, they’re given 20 years to do a simple job, and they complete that job in less than half the allotted time. What to do with the remainder? What to do …? What to do…?
Well, a reasonable reading of history says that the Republicans have used their free time to do what most anybody in power would do. Namely, they use their power to enrich themselves and their cronies. Since their post-WWII cronies comprise what Eisenhower called the “military industrial complex,” they naturally take to invading defenseless countries — just because they can and there’s a buck to be made.
Anyway, let’s say this story represents American politics over the past century. What does it say about the current position of these two parties circa 2006?
For the Republicans, it says: “Hey kids, your time is up. Time to put away your toys and go back to bed for the next 20 years.” It’s not like the Republicans need to be dismantled. They have an exceedingly simple job to do (ie. regression), they do a pretty good job of that. The only problem with that party is that they seem to get into trouble when left with nothing to do and too much time on their hands.
Maybe the systemic fix with the Republicans will be to re-engineer the social brains of Americans to give that party only 8 years during their turn at power, rather than the full 20.
But what about the bloody Democrats today? Here the clock of history is fast running out on those wild and crazy Republicans. It will soon be time for the sober, serious Democrats to get back to the tough work of progressing this country forward once again.
I ask you: Where the f*#k is Hilary going to take us? Kerry? Reid? Pelosi? The rest of the Democratic Senate or House?
This is the unfairness of history. All the Republicans need do is point out what is excessive about the Democrat-created situation, and propose “culling” programs. A trained chimp could do this.
The foolish Democrat leadership seems to think the same standard applies to them. That is, they seem to think that all they need do is point out the excesses of the Republican-created situation, and propose culling programs of their own. Silly, silly, Democrats.
History has a much higher calling for the Democrats, and expects much more from that party. This is why the Democrats will implode. It’s not because they’re currently in a political dead heat with the Republicans in which people find it hard to distinguish between the two parties (e.g. what exactly could Lieberman mean when he says he will “vote with the Democrats”?). Rather, it’s because history places a much greater burden on the Democrats.
Viewed in this light, the current Republicans are merely the latest version of Hoover, Coolidge et al. Nothing new here. Nothing too alarming.
But the current Democrats are alarming. This is a group of people without historical precedent. With the clock of history about to chime midnight, this current crop of Democrats is the first since the Civil War with no mission, no purpose, nor any progressive vision. They are like students about to take an exam for which they are completely and utterly unprepared.
I say history will flunk these sorry laggards.
What say you?