I felt like the Battle of Tewkesbury wasn’t an appealing subject to write about. I also do not qualify as a fanboy of anything Star Wars. (I do not celebrate “The Fourth Be With You” or what ever dumbassadry that can be summoned from thin air).
Not being inspired by reading either, I would figure that I should whip up a Navy story to share that had some social value or lesson connected. I sure as hell thought of one.
Back in the late fall of 2000, during the times I had my run in with Mona and I first met Tex, I had few good things to remember. I was miserable at most times. I didn’t stay in touch with anyone back home and the usual diversions (tail, alcohol, or gambling) avoided me.
I had been lurking around the admin building while I was trying to find out about a package that someone sent me, (our mail had too many unnatural stops to get to my quarters). I had run into a few people I knew and someone I knew that was going to a “come to Jesus” meeting. During all of this, I spied something on the wall that was beyond interesting.
It was a list of the people “AWOL” from our school’s rolls. There were a few that had been gone for three months. There were a few gone longer than that. I had seen two names crudely crossed off as the people returned and our admin didn’t put up a new form yet. On the top of the list, gone for two years, was a legend that many talked about. I will call him “Fremont”.
I never heard anyone talk about him. Afterthought at best. Until one day, someone at my barracks said out loud that they saw Fremont. Several other people were talking about it. “Damn, he has been gone a while” is what one of them said. For a boring day, this was excitement.
It might have been the next day but I ran into him at the barracks entry way. He was shaking hands with another sailor, laughing. He was wearing a uniform with his name on it. I introduced myself and mentioned to him that he was an AWOL legend, formerly on the top of the sheet.
He was a friendly person. Generally a good disposition for someone entering hell. I was going through it too. But he was the one guy who wanted to know how I was doing. He also was one of the few people to ask me if I wanted to hang out, (never mind the fact that his people were on drugs and sold their belongings for drugs). I occasionally saw him and he would regale us with stories of getting beat by cops, explaining the blood stains on his one “good” work uniform.
I really wasn’t around that much before I got my marching orders. I spent a day sending things home and saying goodbyes to the few people I didn’t want to deck. I had been dragging around my bags on my final morning and shaking hands. I knew that I had a long walk to my ride ahead of me. Fremont volunteered to help me with my bags and I accepted.
He left without telling anyone and without an escort. He laughed and told me that he would get back soon enough. He wished me well and gave me a hug. He thanked me for being nice.
It has been nearly 21 years. I still pray for that guy. Fremont, if you are out there, thank you for being a decent person.
Any court system that would use evidence started or based on that poison type fruit should be tarred and feathered.
I wouldn’t want to be those people when people find out that they are professional informers. When they find their way to prison, one must know their neighbor. The untrustworthy do not survive mentally.
“The Biden administration,” CNN reports, “is considering using outside firms to track extremist chatter by Americans online.”
Federal law enforcement agencies are legally and constitutionally forbidden to monitor the private activities of citizens without first getting warrants based on probable cause to believe those citizens have committed, or are committing, crimes. The feds can browse public social media posts and so forth, but secretly trawling private groups and hacking encrypted chats is off-limits.
Private companies and nonprofit civic organizations, not being government entities, don’t need warrants or probable cause to access those private discussion areas. The administration’s bright idea is that through partnership with these non-government entities, they can get around legal and constitutional barriers: “WE didn’t collect the information. THEY collected the information, then gave it to us.”
There are several flies in that ointment. Here’s a big one:
It’s entirely understandable that — to use an entirely hypothetical example — someone with the Southern Poverty Law Center might impersonate a fictional white supremacist to get into a private Ku Klux Klan chat room and see what those people are up to.
But the US Department of Justice says it’s illegal (under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) to evade terms of service with false identities.
A government partnership with an organization that gathers information in that way is no different than the government partnering with a burglar to find out what you have in your house, without the bother of convincing a judge there’s probable cause to issue a search warrant. It is, quite simply, criminal conspiracy.
As with so many political and social issues arising in the Internet age, we’re coming up against a big question that urgently needs answering:
At what point does “working with” government amount to “being part of” government?
Much of the “private” tech sector makes big money on government contracts. NBC News reports, based on a 2020 Tech Inquiry expose, that Microsoft enjoys thousands of subcontracts with the US Department of Defense and federal law enforcement. Amazon has more than 350 such subcontracts with agencies like ICE and the FBI. Google, more than 250.
I may not agree 100% but I do believe that the progressive element destroyed the last good parts of modern liberals. (or drove away many of them, including James Webb and former Democrat real estate tycoon Donald Trump).
The past, we’re so often told, is a dystopia — a cauldron of backwardness and bigotryApril 28, 2021 | 11:19 pm
Are citizens of liberal societies permitted to question liberalism? In theory, the answer is yes, given liberalism’s commitment to ‘free thought’ and ‘the marketplace of ideas’. Such tolerance is rarely in evidence in practice, however — a reality illustrated in hilarious fashion by a writer for a Washington magazine who recently decried ‘cancel culture’ even as he insisted that: ‘It’s absolutely necessary to de-platform public intellectuals who object to liberal democracy.’
To the liberal mind, to question liberalism risks opening portals to the past, a place populated by tyrannical kings, Catholic inquisitors, Spanish conquistadores, religious warriors, zealous apparatchiks, ‘collectivists’, fascists and sundry other ghastlies. Over the past few years, as voters registered discontent with the global liberal consensus, an entire cottage industry of books, essays and charities has sprung up to warn against revivifying the past.
The past, we’re so often told, is a dystopia — a cauldron of backwardness and bigotry. One that must be repressed at all costs.
Liberals disagree over where exactly lies the line dividing the enlightened time and the dark time. ‘Classical’ liberals tend to mark 1789, whereas ‘progressive’ liberals — noting that much of reality since that watershed year has failed to conform to their own liberal ideal — are uncomfortable with anything not from the present or the future. Hence they now issue fatwas against even the avatars of liberalism’s own recent past (Cher, Dr Seuss, J.K. Rowling, etc).
The current tendency to see the past as a foreign land of endless horrors brings with it periodic bursts of purges and violent iconoclasm — most recently, the statue-toppling of last year. In the realm of ideas, we see the inability of even Christian liberals to tolerate any serious consideration of non-liberal political, economic and cultural arrangements. We see the growing discord in the Anglican Church over once-standard ideas about marriage and gender.
Church and state have long been separated. The ideal is that a new liberal order ushers in a new, rational, tolerant and secular regime: cleaving apart day-to-day politics from religion and metaphysics. So instead of enshrining any one orthodoxy, a liberal neutral ground would be created, one that could be contested by rival accounts of the good life. The religious would be able to live happily beside the unbelievers, with all minorities protected. In this way, the advent of liberalism would — once and for all — put an end to the persecutions of the past.
But has that really come to pass? Given man’s inclination to worship, to build altars in the public square, our societies will always enshrine some orthodoxy or other (and, therefore, empower some clerisy or other). The only questions are: which orthodoxy? Which clerics? If the past couple of years have made anything clear, it is that there is to be no neutrality. The West must choose.
Do we enshrine the orthodoxy of the latest theories on race, sex and gender? Do we empower the woke clerisy, the army of blue-check Twitterati and HR managers who can destroy careers and lives in a matter of minutes over the smallest of ideological infractions, and whose judgments are subject to no reasoned appeal and no code of canon law? Do we live under their new blasphemy laws, ostensibly designed to prohibit ‘hate speech’?
Or do we choose the more forgiving, perhaps old-fashioned orthodoxy that sustained western culture for the better part of two millennia? The Judeo-Christian values and institutions that venerated natural reason, that by their discipline tamed the big and small would-be tyrants of Europe, reminding them that there exists a higher power than theirs? You don’t need to be religious to think that, on balance, this world view has put us in pretty good stead so far — and is worth keeping now.
It’s tempting to imagine that there is no choice — or to defer the choice for ever. This excuse for doing so is precisely that the present is the best of all possible worlds, while any attempt to preserve the past means clinging to unremitting horrors. For the liberal, to evoke a bedrock pre-modern concept such as the common good — much less the highest good — is to summon those various demons that good progressive liberal values were supposed to have vanquished.
Anyone, left or right, calling today’s progressive order into question — or daring to propose alternatives — is first asked to apologize for these horrors, stretching from antiquity to whenever enlightened time began (which may be as recently as a couple of years ago). This is a type of intellectual blackmail, and the best defense against it is to go on the offense: no, it’s the actually existing present that increasingly resembles a dystopia, and the onus is on the liberal to give account and apology. The non-liberal’s rejoinder can be summed up with three simple words: look around you.
Look around you: has liberalism delivered on its own terms, on its promise of neutrality between world views? How’s the liberty of the church faring amid lockdowns and renewed threats to force American nuns to pay for abortifacients? Why are churches told they can no longer run adoption services if they refuse to follow the liberal view on sexuality? Why was a Catholic priest expelled from a Glasgow university campus because he held a prayer meeting protest on the day of a Pride march? This is not a sign of neutrality, but one world view crushing another.
Look around you: if a 200-plus-year-old newspaper like the New York Post (where I work) can be censored ahead of an election for posting a true story about Hunter Biden, how safe are you from the censors and cancelers? Does it make any meaningful difference that in liberal societies, the repression is meted out by large, privately owned corporations, rather than a centralized state? Do a Silicon Valley dweeb’s Birkenstock sandals taste any better than a junta commandant’s boots?
Look around you: when was the last time you felt like you lived in a pluralistic, tolerant society? Does the Free World feel free? Four centuries or so since it was launched, has the liberal project delivered on its promise to make men and women free, by toppling all the old authorities? Or has the downfall of authority left us more vulnerable to more insidious and subtle forms of coercion, by woke demagogues, employers and advertisers?
Look around you: does our marketplace of ideas resemble anything like that promised by the bewigged liberals of the late-18th and 19th centuries? Does truth prevail over its cacophony of nonsense? Set aside the teaching of Genesis, whatever happened to the basic teachings of biology and genetics about the immutability of sex? (Don’t ask Richard Dawkins, just cancelled by the American Humanist Association for daring to question gender ideology.)
Look around you: do today’s eye-watering wealth and power inequalities suggest that liberalism has done away with social hierarchies? Or has it rather empowered an especially selfish class of owners and managers, their rapaciousness made all the more galling by their woke and ‘meritocratic’ pretensions?
It won’t do for the ‘classical’ liberal to insist that these phenomena are gross distortions of some aboriginal version of his ideology. After a while, he begins to sound like the Trotskyist circa 1936 who, as evidence mounted of show trials, camps and NKVD torture, insisted that none of these crimes could be laid at the feet of ‘original’ Marxism.
At some point, the liberal has to admit that the powdered-wig version of his ideology contained in it the seeds of its woke, repressive variety: that enshrining individual autonomy and choice as the highest goods of human life would eventually create the conditions for a kind of private tyranny, precisely what the common-good tradition of classical and Christian thought had always warned about and sought to restrain.
The past, in a realistic frame, is a mix of light and dark. Remove the rosy glasses of liberalism, however, and it is the present that looks more dark than
Congress and the president have adopted many critically important policies in great haste during brief periods of perceived national emergency. During the first “hundred days” of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration in the spring of 1933, for example, the government abandoned the gold standard, enacted a system of wide-ranging controls, taxes, and subsidies in agriculture, and set in motion a plan to cartelize the nation’s manufacturing industries. In 2001, the USA PATRIOT Act was enacted in a rush even though no member of Congress had read it in its entirety. Since September 2008, the government and the Federal Reserve System have implemented a rapid-fire series of bailouts, loans, “stimulus” spending programs and partial or complete takeover of big banks and other large firms, acting at each step in great haste.
Any government policymaking on an important matter entails serious risks, but crisis policymaking stands apart from the more deliberate process in which new legislation is usually enacted or new regulatory measures are usually put into effect. Because formal institutional changes—however hastily they might have been made—have a strong tendency to become entrenched, remaining in effect for many years and sometimes for many decades, crisis policymaking has played an important part in generating long-term growth of government through a ratchet effect in which “temporary” emergency measures have expanded the government’s size, scope, or power.
It therefore behooves us to recognize the typical presumptions that give crisis policymaking its potency.
The twelve propositions given here express some of the ideas that are advanced or assumed again and again in connection with episodes of quick, fear-driven policymaking—events whose long-term consequences are often counterproductive.
1. Nothing like the present situation has ever happened before. If the existing crisis were seen as simply the latest incident in a series of similar crises, policy makers and the public would be more inclined to relax, appreciating that such rough seas have been navigated successfully in the past and will be navigated successfully on this occasion, too. Fears would be relieved. Exaggerated doomsday scenarios would be dismissed as overwrought and implausible. Such relaxation, however, would ill serve the sponsors of extraordinary government measures, regardless of their motives for seeking adoption of these measures. Fear is a great motivator, so the proponents of expanded government action have an incentive to represent the current situation as unprecedented and therefore as uniquely menacing unless the government intervenes forcefully to save the day.
2. Unless the government intervenes, the situation will get worse and worse. Crisis always presents some sort of worsening of something: the economy’s output has fallen; prices have risen greatly; the country has been attacked by foreigners. If such untoward developments were seen as having occurred in a one-off manner, then people might be content to stick with the institutional status quo. If, however, people project the recent changes forward, imagining that adverse events will continue to occur and possibly to gather strength as they continue, then they will object to a “do nothing” response, reasoning that “something must be done” lest the course of events eventuate in an utterly ruinous situation. To speed a huge, complex, “anti-terrorism” bill through Congress in 2001, George W. Bush invoked the specter of another terrorist attack. Barack Obama, Invoking the specter of economic collapse, rushed through Congress early in 2009 the huge Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act before any legislator had digested it. In a February 5, 2009, op-ed in the Washington Post, he wrote, “If nothing is done … our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.”1 At a February 9 press conference, he said “[A] failure to act will only deepen this crisis,” and “could turn a crisis into a catastrophe.”2
3. Today is all-important; we must act immediately. In his first inaugural address, Franklin D. Roosevelt declared, “This nation asks for action, and action now.” He then proceeded directly to speak of the most terrifying problem of the day, mass unemployment. “Our greatest primary task is the put people to work … It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our national resources.” In any event, “The people want direct, vigorous action.”3
Similarly, not long after taking office, Barack Obama similarly declared, not long after taking office, “The situation is getting worse. We have to act and act now to break the momentum of this recession.”4 “Doing nothing is not an option,” he said in Elkhart, Indiana on February 9. “The situation we face could not be more serious,” and “we can’t afford to wait.” 5 In the February 5 op-ed, listing a series of objectives he claimed the pending legislation would achieve, he began four successive paragraphs with the words “now is the time to…”6
4. Government officials know or can quickly discover how to remedy the problem. All government policies adopted to meet a crisis presume that the government knows how to effect the rescue it seeks. The government officials may sometimes admit, as in the early new deal, that is does not know exactly how to proceed, yet it maintains that “doing something” is better than doing nothing. Roosevelt maintained that the government ought to try something and, if that measure failed, then try something else. Thus, ignorant flailing about— on the assumption that “doing something” has no costs, adverse effects, or untoward long-term consequences—has been touted as a virtue, and indeed many members of the public, no more expert than the government itself have agreed that the government must “try something.”
5. We may safely rely on the establishment and on its insiders for expertise in this crisis. As a common first step in reacting to a crisis, the government often assembles a council of experts or some such group of wise men and women. These experts are invariable drawn from the government itself and from groups with whom the government maintains cozy relations. The experts frequently include those who had responsibility for carrying out the government policies that contributed to the occurrence of the crisis in the first place. Thus, no matter how ill fated monetary policy may have been, the government will call on the secretary of the Treasury and the head of the Federal Reserve System to decide, perhaps along with others, what should be done next. In this constructed circle, the range of possible future actions the government might take is almost always no wider than the range of actions taken in the past. Hence, the “experts” are subject to repeating the same errors time and again.
6. We may trust the government to act responsibly and effectively on the basis of the expertise they command. The public looks to government officials and their assembled “wise men” to act in the public interest and to organize their actions in an effective manner. If the policy makers lack the requisite knowledge, then such trust is bound to be misplaced, because no matter how responsibly the policy makers may try to be, they simply don’t know what they are doing. If they do have the requisite expertise, however, they may still fail to act on it because of their political, ideological, or personal interests and connections.
The public tends to think of crises as akin to mechanical problems—the car’s engine is not running; policy makers need to give it a “jump start.” Crises, however, are rarely so simple. More often, they involve far-reaching relationships among many individuals, groups, and nations, and the lack of productive coordination that the crisis represents can seldom be restored by simple policy actions such as “the government ought to double its spending and rely on borrowed funds to cover its budget deficit. Complex political, social, and economic breakdowns rarely take a form subject to easy treatment activist policymakers (though many of them can take care of themselves if only policymakers stand aside from them.)
7. The clear benefits of quick government action may be assumed to outweigh its costs and its actual or potential negative consequences. Crisis decision making is not characterized by careful attempts to justify actions on a benefit-cost basis. If the situation is dire, policy makers and many members of the public simply assume that a policy with positive net benefits may be adopted. Little basis exists for this assumption. Even in a crisis, the government may take many actions whose costs and risks greatly outweigh any benefit they may bring. The potential is great for focuses on benefits that are immediate and visible while disregarding costs that are delayed and less easily perceived. Thus, policymakers are likely to plunge almost blindly ahead where more calculating angels fear to tread.
8. Fact finding, deliberation, study, and debate are too time-consuming and must be forgone in favor of immediate action. In April 1932, a year before the momentous explosion of New Deal measures after Roosevelt took office, Felix Frankfurter complained in a letter to Walter Lippmann that “one measure after another has been … hurriedly concocted…. They have been denominated emergency efforts, and any plea for deliberation, for detailed discussion, for exploration of alternatives has been regarded as obstructive or doctrinaire or both.” 7 The events of the spring 1933 congressional session raised all of these attributes by an order of magnitude.
President Obama likewise recently declared that enough debate had occurred on the massive “stimulus” package even though it had been rushed through both houses of Congress, neither of which had paused to hold hearings on it. “We can’t posture and bicker. Endless delay and paralysis in Washington in the face of this crisis will only bring deepening disaster.”8
9. Existing structures and incumbent firms must be preserved; new structures and firms are unthinkable. Existing office holders, bureaucrats, firm managers, and owners have a decisive political advantage over possible alternative occupants of their positions (“new entrants”). Hence, the overriding theme in any crisis is that current politicians and capitalists must be preserved—propped up, bailed out, subsidized, whatever it takes to save them and their present organizations.
In truth, however, the best way to deal with some crises is by getting rid of the persons and organizations that helped to bring them on. Bankruptcy, for examples, is not the end of the world, but simply the end of existing stockholders. If a company still possesses valuable assets, they will be transferred to new and presumably more competent managers.
10. If a policy is not getting the results its proponents promised, more money should be poured into it until it finally “works.” This presumption receives application to government policies in general, not simply to crisis policies in particular, but it gains force during a national emergency, when getting results as regarded as especially imperative.
By the time Barack Obama became president, the U.S. Treasury and the Fed had made commitments for trillions of dollars in loans, capital infusions, loan guarantees, and other purposes. Yet, the economy continued to sink. The president and his senior advisers did not conclude that these measures had failed, but only that they had been too timid.11 Thus, President Obama told reporters that after Japan’s bust in the early 1990s, the Japanese government “did not act boldly or swiftly enough,” even though it spent trillions of dollars on construction projects. Likewise, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner concluded from his study of the Japanese stagnations that “spending must come in quick, massive doses, and be continued until recovery takes firm root.”9
11. We must not be deterred by the accumulation of public debt; there is no practical limit to the amount the government may safely borrow. Political office holders prefer to finance their spending by borrowing rather than taxing, if possible. That way, the public does not feel so dispossessed and therefore is less inclined to oppose the spending programs. In a national emergency, the office holders’ preference for deficit finance comes ever more boldly to the fore, and throughout history governments have tended to borrow heavily to pay for major wars. With the dawning of the Age of Keynes, deficit financing during recessions acquired an ostensible intellectual rationale, magnifying whatever inclinations the politicians already possessed. At present, the public debt is rising at an unprecedented rate, yet few people raise serious objections to the government’s spending program on this ground. Virtually everyone who matters politically is content to rely on what I call “vulgar Keynesianism”—or at least pretend to do so.
12. The occasion demands that policymakers put aside partisan or strictly political maneuvering and act entirely in the general public interest, and we can expect them to do act accordingly. After Woodrow Wilson had sought and gained a congressional declaration of war in 1917, he declared that “politics is adjourned.” By this expression, he sought to convey the idea that he would henceforth abstain from the usual partisan maneuvering and devote himself to prosecution of the war in the most effective way and that, he hoped, others would do the same. Whether his announcement of the adjournment was sincere or merely attempt to point those who disagreed with his war policies as partisan obstructionists, we do not know. We do know, however, that partisan political actions did not cease on either side.10
In a similar way, President Obama recently declared, “We are in one of those periods in American history where we don’t have Republicans or Democratic problems, we have American problems. My commitment as the incoming president is going to be to reach out across the aisle to both chambers to listen and not just talk, to not just try to dictate but try to create a partnership … [W]e’re … not going to get bogged down by old-style politics on either side.” 11A month later he reiterated this idea, denouncing “the same old partisan gridlock that stands in the way of action while our economy continues to slide.” And promising “We can place good ideas ahead of old ideological battles, and a sense of purpose above the same narrow partisanship.”12 Even as he made this declaration, however, partisan maneuvering continued as usual on both sides in Congress.
Politics cannot be put aside. Politics is what politicians and political interest groups do. Partisanship is inevitable as political actors who seek conflicting ends struggle for maximum control of the government.
I don’t completely turn up my nose at those that desire law and order in our society. I have grown accustomed to observed order in our world. We are supposed to have rules and regulations to keep that lack of order from wrecking our lives.
But I find weird that citizens in a country that has a history of defying petty bureaucrats would become accustomed to having people torture their lives with stupid rules. (If you don’t believe this, look in a city’s classified ads section in the ”legals”, you will find people being blocked from running a business out of their basements).
It was folly to think that a man in the 17th century would stop a man from earning his bread, considering many early governments didn’t tax or offer as many services to their people as our government does today. Many government bureaucrats of the past wouldn’t dare to do much, considering the people would look past rules and deal with them the best way they knew how.
It started in a meeting by several Protestants that had been denied their positions (as estate assemblyman) and felt slighted when it came to matters of church construction. The people in charge were Catholic overseers of various authoritarian standings. The protestants did not give the Catholic overseers an opportunity to confer with another authority in regard to a “complaint”/perceived wrong, but instead the Protestants wanted immediate action. A party admitted to the wrong/slight and made it known that they were open to a punishment that they thought was not severe. The punishment subscribed was severe.
The guilty party was thrown out of a window, or as someone I know would say; “yeeted”. This was known as the Defenestration of Prague. I find it humorous that defenestration even has a definition today of “the act or being related to throwing things out of a window”
It has happened several times in history. People got sick of petty bureaucrats and leadership operating poorly, then gravity tested the people involved. I had always thought it was just a fetish brought to us by rock stars or the Fight Club novel. Apparently, it has been inside of us all along. Voting doesn’t always work but gravity does.