Escape from Ferguson

10 Jul

It is becoming increasingly clear that Donald Trump has no possibility of winning the presidency in November 2016, and it is equally clear that our next president will be Hillary Clinton. When Hillary is first inaugurated, this will give a temporary boost to women’s egos. However, it is clear that she intends to continue the “divide and conquer” approach to minorities that has won Democrats their votes at the expense of minority cultures. She intends to continue the policies that Jason Riley has so dramatically illuminated in his book Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed.

Hillary will probably be president for eight years and we will probably never have another Republican president. The reasons are three-fold. First of all, the Obama Administration has deeply corrupted the IRS and other government institutions. A Republican, in order to win office, must not merely overcome media bias, but must overcome an increasingly chilling legal reality. Second, Democrats are doing everything in their power to import and empower people, such as illegal immigrants and felons, who should not be allowed to vote. Third, Democrats have convinced minorities that they are beholden to them for their government benefits. These minorities will never be persuaded that Democrat policies are actually harmful to their communities.

This post is not directed toward those who have and maintain the view that Democrat policies are beneficial to minorities and society. I consider those people to be a lost cause. They refuse to understand, and they are continually shoring up the lies that have gotten us to this place in history. This post is directed to those who realize what has transpired and are wondering how to survive the era of Democrat supremacy.

The reality at hand is that we are in the process of creating an extremely dangerous permanent underclass. These will be people whose neighborhoods, like the island of Manhattan in the film Escape from New York, can only be isolated and avoided and can never be brought into the mainstream of society.

Manhattan Wall

The emergence of this underclass is evident from the riots in Ferguson and other cities, culminating in the killing of five police officers in Dallas, followed by a complete lack of remorse by those responsible. A recurring Democrat complaint is that we have too many black men in prisons. Soon, Democrats will release these and other dangerous criminals into the wild purely for political reasons. We will have neighborhoods that, for all intents and purposes, are prisons. Since there will never be walls around these dangerous resulting ghettos, escaping their influence will be increasingly tricky. What follows is a plan for dealing with this reality.

Building walls around these ghettos like in the movie Escape from New York will not be a possibility. When gated neighborhoods become commonplace, these ghettos will often appear as if they are walled in, but Democrats will ensure that the inhabitants are always free to roam about. Distance will be the only real defense.

There are two ways that this distance can be achieved. The first will be actual physical distance. Criminals are disinclined to travel far from their homes. If you live at least ten miles from a dangerous ghetto, you are unlikely to be a direct victim. However, distance will be difficult to maintain, since these ghettos will tend to spread into the surrounding territory. It is well established that the poor criminal element of society, bolstered by Democrat social policies, tends to reproduce rapidly. If you chose physical distance as your remedy, you will have to constantly move further and further away.

I live on an island. That is probably the simplest remedy. However, it is questionable if my island refuge will continue to be viable. Liberals on our island with do-gooder tendencies are encouraging disreputable people to move here. Eventually, we will have our own little imported ghetto and we will be just like everywhere else. In any case, islands are small and rare.

Soon, it will be possible to build communities in the ocean that are essentially giant floating islands. These will have the advantage of being immune to local anti-discrimination policies. People on these islands will be able to pick and chose who is allowed to move there. Their requirements will have nothing to do with race, but will be drawn entirely from psychological characteristics: content of character rather than color of skin. Black people who qualify to move to these communities will relish the opportunity. With new technologies, it may be possible to build giant floating communities…essentially islands in the sky. With new construction materials, especially graphene, it may be possible to build giant dirigibles suspended by hydrogen or helium that float above the earth and look exactly like clouds. If more esoteric technologies such as the EM-drive pan out, it may be possible to suspend extremely large communities in the air. However, these communities will be expensive to live in.

Stratos

In the past, I have outlined how people will ultimately colonize space. This would be the ideal way to escape the dangerous Democrat ghettos. However, there is a real possibility that we will never get into space. Even if someone finds a way to create the self-replicating robotic systems I describe in another blog entry, Democrats may pass regulations that make it nearly impossible for anyone to move there. They may pass nearly prohibitive regulations on the requirements of stations in order for them to be inhabited. They may institute a system of inspections that make space stations nearly impossible to complete. It is said that when a ship is built, the paperwork weighs more than the ship. Imagine what similar policies will do to the colonization of space! Keep in mind that Democrats will have all the political power and they will never allow anything that threatens to undermine that power.

What is my plan? The real key to avoiding the Democrat ghettos of the future is to save your money. This is the second way of creating distance. No matter what happens, you must put away 10% of your income. In this way, you will be able to afford to continually move away from ghettos and, if necessary, move to floating or flying islands. There is accumulating evidence that your money will be worth much more in the future than it is now. The secure people of the future will be the ones who put away 10% of their income today. This used to be the habit of people in times when we did not have unemployment insurance and other social safety nets. However, those social safety nets do not take into account that, while you may be rescued by the safety net, you will not be rescued from the other people in the net. This is a new age that requires new measures.

The best way to save money is to have it put automatically into an IRA. It is too easy to tap into an ordinary savings account when you desperately want a new car or you see a dress in a store window you cannot live without. However, the “set it up and forget it” nature of IRA’s and similar programs protect you from these immediate temptations.

If you do not save 10% of your income in this way (or whatever way works) people of the future may have sympathy for your plight. However, they will not be able to do anything for you. There is much talk these days of creating a guaranteed basic income. However, no guaranteed income will rescue you from the dangerous ghettos. It will only ensure that you are able to keep your head above water while you are deeply immersed in these ghettos. Some day, when being poor is more of a state of mind than a financial reality, having a guaranteed income and living in these ghettos will be little more than prison sentences: plenty to eat and clothes to wear, but nothing to live for.

Also, you have to consider the possibility that if you live in one of these ghettos you may not be able to hold on to the money you receive from the state. With absolute lawlessness, there may soon be various forms of extortion. You may receive a check from the state every month, but 90% of it will go to some local protection racket.

Yes, the key to surviving the future Democrats are creating is to start saving 10% of your income now. It is that simple. Just do it. Get a system set up that works and make it happen. You may have thought I was going to propose some esoteric solution that no one has thought of before. In a way, the solution I am proposing is new because it is so old. Everything old is new again and the problem of the past—protecting yourself from the basic elements—is back with us. However, in the world we are creating, the basic elements will take the form of vicious anti-social entitled people who will rob you blind and never leave you in peace.

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Universal Basic Income and the Coming Super Stud

12 Mar

The other night, I was watching a news story about the Zika virus.  It explained that the virus would soon be coming to North America and went on to describe how it was being combated by creating genetically altered mosquitoes. My sister, who was watching with me, was struck with incredulity, “How can that help?”

I explained to her how it worked and made an analogy. I said, “Suppose some alien race wanted to destroy humanity. One thing they could do is inject a horde of gorgeous sexually aggressive females with a defective gene that caused their offspring to die at a young age.”

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My sister caught on, but I suddenly realized I had chosen the wrong gender to modify in my analogy. If you injected genetically modified women, they could only have as many defective babies as they are able to carry to term. Since one woman can typically carry one or two babies to term over a period of nine months, all that would be accomplished would be to bring an end to that particular line of offspring. However, suppose you instead injected a horde of strong, aggressive, attractive alpha males into the population. They would push all the less aggressive males aside and impregnate all the women…even many of the ones in committed relationships to less appealing males.

Suddenly, I realized this is exactly what we are doing to our poorest citizens. However it is being done in an insidious way.

In the 1960’s, when we loosened mores about women becoming pregnant out of wedlock, we made it easier for aggressive virile males to have babies. Women became less afraid of becoming pregnant, and if males could merely impregnate women, they would become fathers. This would have had little effect if the babies had no way to thrive. However, it was combined with another element: the welfare program. By providing a guaranteed income to women who got pregnant out of wedlock, we made it possible for these babies to thrive. We made it possible for males who have a genetic defect (no genetic propensity to stick around and help raise their children) to saturate the population with new males who carry the same defective gene. Moreover, since not sticking around to help raise offspring released these males to impregnate more women, we made it a genetic advantage to be irresponsible.

Many people are considering creating a guaranteed basic income. With this, the last barrier will be removed to creating the instrument of our own destruction. We will open the door to a generation of large, virile, aggressive males who women cannot resist, but who are completely incapable of taking responsibility for their offspring. These will be super studs who have nothing but their basic income to thrive on, but who are so gorgeous and virile that every woman will desire them. Moreover, many of these women will actually want to have their babies.

It could take as few as two generations for the population to be saturated by these males. Keep in mind that one male can impregnate women as quickly as he can get from one vagina to the next. When these sexual gods show up at the doors of plain looking women ready to have sex, these women, who usually get little attention, will be emotionally defenseless. These women may not have any suitable means of support, but they will have no shame and they will have their guaranteed basic income. Their male offspring will have a guaranteed basic income that ensures they thrive to and through adulthood so that they can impregnate as many women as possible.

This will simultaneously generate a population of women who are less resistant to the super stud’s charms. Women who resist these males will not have as many babies as women who succumb.

Since a guaranteed income is a social program, it will become an additional third rail of politics. It will be nearly impossible to repeal. It will continue to be available as the population expands. Upper and middle class citizens will continue their current trend of having fewer babies, but the super studs and their offspring will populate without constraint. Eventually, the world will be filled with irresponsible, sexually promiscuous people.

The constant drain on our economy will slow scientific and industrial progress to a halt. The dreams of creating super intelligent machines that eliminate the need to work will fade into oblivion. Ultimately, society will collapse and we will enter a new dark age populated by dumb, sexually aggressive barbarians.

Since the population will be far too large to be supported by the essentially agrarian society that will replace industrialization, horrible wars will ensue. These will be low tech wars of attrition, because the new sexually aggressive population will not be able to maintain or manufacture sophisticated weaponry.

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The population will dwindle to a tiny fraction of what it is today. We will finalize the plan to do to ourselves what we are doing to the mosquitoes.

In another hundred years or so, there may be a renaissance. This will be a renaissance in which religious beliefs and their accompanying mores reign supreme. Once again, sexual promiscuity will be strictly prohibited. As these newly enlightened people look around, they will find the literature of previous generations. They will come to think of the societies that instituted a basic income as more recent instances of Sodom and Gomorrah. They may even add chapters to the Bible. Hopefully, they will recognize the mistakes of their ancestors and follow a different path.

The Prototypical President

16 Feb

During presidential elections, there is always discussion about what qualifies someone to be president. Is it more important to have someone with governing experience, or is it more important to have someone with business experience? Does a president need to have experience in the military?

First of all, a prospective president’s race and gender are immaterial. We should be beyond that by now. If beauty is skin deep, it is certain there is nothing shallower than someone who sees race or gender.

Governing experience is important in itself, but it is also a matter of trust. Donald Trump, for example, may do an excellent job of governing the nation, but voting for him is risky. How can we know that when he gets into office he won’t completely change his allegiance or, worse still, have no allegiance at all? Someone who has governed a state for at least one term has demonstrated what they will do when they get into power. It is extremely unlikely that someone who has governed a state in a certain way will govern the United States in an entirely different way. It is important that they actually govern a state. A governor is someone who has made real decisions and been held accountable for them. Senators and representatives can vote for things like going to war or raising taxes and later deny that they are responsible. Governors have to execute the decisions they make and answer for the outcome.

A president who has never run a business cannot understand the problems of a business man. How can a person who has never made actual business decisions know what it takes to make a business succeed? How can he know the effect of more regulations, expanded medical insurance requirements or higher business taxes if he has never had to make payroll and still make a profit? How can he grasp the experience of working 80 hour weeks…staying at an office or a desk after hours doing his bookwork? A politician can philosophize indefinitely about the likely effect of a policy. A business man has to subtract expenses from income, balance a checkbook and pay bills.

Tax Burden

A president who does not have direct military experience may be an excellent commander in chief. The problem is that he will have no legitimacy. When a man or woman who has no military experience sends troops into combat, there is a natural objection: how can someone who has never faced an enemy in a life or death struggle make such a decision? How can he order someone to do something that he might be unwilling or incapable of doing himself? Is he leading the troops or is he actually hiding behind them? Great military commanders from Alexander the Great to George Washington literally lead troops into battle. Alexander is often described as having been his own best soldier. A commander in chief must have military experience.

Here is my ideal résumé for someone who aspires to the presidency. It is unlikely that anyone will ever have these exact qualifications, but the closer someone can come to this the better. This is not the résumé of an ordinary person. No ordinary person should be President. A president should be a superman:

0-18 years of age:

Excellent student and athlete. Reads everything. Sincere but not obsessive Christian. Skeptical of religion, but never cynical. He loves life and does not struggle with meaning, so he does not need pat answers to complicated questions.

18-21

Joins the Marines just because he is curious and patriotic and he admires the Marines. Ideally, he will experience some combat. Honorably discharged.

21-28

Goes to college. Majors in physics and minors in economics. Gets a PhD in computer science. Always reads difficult science, history, economics, philosophy, etc. He can practically recite the Great Books.

Great Books

28-48

Officer in the military. Gets married and stays married. Is 100% loyal to his spouse. Ultimately works in the Pentagon as an expert in computer science.

48-58

Lives off his pension while building a successful business.

57-64

Sells his business for at least a billion dollars. The best test of the success of a business is what someone will pay for it. Runs for and is elected as state senator or representative in his own state.

63-68

Runs for and is elected as governor of his own state. This is probably the most important qualification. No one should be president who has not governed a state.

67-70

Serves as Secretary of State for the United States. A prospective president must have national experience and foreign policy experience.

70

Runs for President of the United States. By this time, he is so knowledgeable and experienced that any decision he is confronted with will be nearly automatic. While he will have lived 70 years, he will still seem young and alert. I have met plenty of 70 year-olds who suffer no infirmity. This is what I expect from a president.

Like I said above, this is not the résumé of an ordinary person. This is the résumé of a superman. There are over 300 million Americans. Out of these 300 million, it is not unreasonable to demand such a person for our leader. The résumé of a prospective president should not be complete. It should not be merely exemplary. It should be vast.

Letters to Santa

29 Dec

Recently, I came across an internet page written by Doctor of Theology Terry Watkins. He explains, in no uncertain terms, that Santa is actually a representative of Satan and that having anything to do with him is intrinsically evil:

Santa Claus, The Great Impostor

Children think they are associating with a jolly old man with a good heart but, according to Watkins, “there [is] something or someone else hiding behind jolly ol’ St. Nick”. Interestingly, while this page eventually acknowledges that Santa, otherwise known as Saint Nicholas, was an actual historical figure to whom many miraculous acts and the origin of the Santa stories have been attributed, Watkins quickly dismisses this by claiming that there probably never was such a person. At this point, I am forced to remind Dr. Watkins that the very same kinds of arguments have been used to show that Jesus was not a historical figure. Interestingly, while we have absolutely no reliable relics to prove that Jesus lived, we have a hand-written transcript and the actual bones of Saint Nicholas. Since these bones were separated at one time into two lots and the lots have been compared to confirm that they are from the same man, they are even more compelling evidence that the man actually lived and that these are his actual bones.

The original Saint Nicholas was a broad dark-skinned man about 5 feet tall. As was the fashion for men in his station, he probably had a full white beard. If you were to put him in a modern Santa suit, he would probably look very much like the modern notion of Santa Claus. He had somewhat darker skin than most Caucasians tend to visualize, but skin color is relative; and to people of his time, he would have appeared to be your typical broad, jolly, white-bearded old man. By analyzing his bones, scientists have reconstructed his face:

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Nicholas is most often depicted as wearing the robes of a catholic bishop, and if you Google his image, you are met with a sea of red. I am somewhat skeptical as to whether a bishop of his nature living at that time actually had such elaborate garments, but I could be mistaken:

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The stories of Nicholas and the miracles he performed are diverse. However, he is most fondly remembered as a giver of gifts who famously dropped a bag of money down the chimney of a dower-less girl so that she could be married. The money bag landed in her recently washed stocking, thus giving rise to the stories about Santa leaving gifts in stockings. Of all the stories attributed to Saint Nicholas, this one is considered to be among the most likely to have some historical basis. Note that Santa preferred to give in secret, though he was occasionally revealed by accident.

If any of the stories about Nicholas are true, he was undoubtedly a good man who believed in the spirit of giving. He was certainly a Christian who believed in salvation through the blood of Christ. He was one of the bishops who signed the Nicene Creed. Due to the miracles attributed to him, he is officially recognized as a saint by most Christian denominations.

Something of which many non-Catholics and most non-Christians are unaware is that Catholics believe in the intercession of saints. In other words, they believe that it is proper to make prayers to saints in the hope that they will intercede on one’s behalf to invoke God’s favor. Many people, to this day, pray to Saint Nicholas for such intercession.

So, now I am going to play the same “what is really going on” game that Dr. Watkins plays. Children write letters to Santa. However, if his place as a traditional Saint is properly understood, these letters may be considered as prayers to a saint for intercession. Parents, who are aware of the contents of these letters, can be seen as acting on behalf of the Saint. They may believe they are acting on their own behalf for their children, but as every Christian knows, all good emanates from God. Thus, from a purely theological standpoint, this can all be seen as a very holy act of formal written prayer followed by the Saint ostensibly interceding through the parents to bring about a positive response from God.

Do saints actually exist in the sense that some religions believe and do they actually intercede? Is this interpretation of what is taking place endorsed by God?

Assuming that Jesus actually existed and actually said the things that are printed in the Bible, he is quoted as saying, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Unless Jesus was a fool or nonexistent, there is no mistaking his meaning. So let us take a look at the fruits that Santa has borne.

Many stories are associated with Santa. Some, such as the Rankin/Bass “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” swing wide of the historical mark. In the Rankin/Bass version, Santa is portrayed as an orphan abandoned to a bunch of elf toymakers and raised by the elves. Some, such as the more recent Tim Allen movies, completely replace him with human stand-ins. However, nearly all of these accounts have certain elements in common. They portray faith and generosity as powerful forces that can overcome adversity. They demonstrate that giving is more important than receiving. They emphasize truth, love and loyalty. One of the most common themes of such stories is that asking Santa for meaningful gifts such as healing a friend or rescuing a relative from desperation has greater power than asking him for expensive toys. If the concept of Santa Claus is to be judged from its fruits, I would have to say that it has borne positive fruit.

Naturally, I am taken aback by implications in some accounts that Christmas is overly dependent on Santa. In the Larry Roemer “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, Santa suggests that Christmas might have to be cancelled if he cannot make his rounds. However, there are just as many accounts to the contrary. In the Dr Seuss poem, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, the clearer lesson is that Christmas will come without Santa’s gifts and that it has a much higher meaning. Even the stories that suggest that the meaning of Christmas is closely tied to Santa have plenty of other strong spiritual messages.

Is Santa real? Does he actually intercede on our behalf?

If you are a Christian and do not wholly reject the concept of the intercession of Saints, it is very reasonable to believe that he is and does. Personally, I like to think that God is OK with other spiritual beings acting on his behalf as long as they do not take all the credit. If he is not, then we are all fools whenever we do a good deed.

I choose to believe that Santa is real. Like all real things, he is not quite like we typically imagine him. However, we are used to that. Most of us realize that nothing in the real world is as simple or straight-forward as our visualizations. Atoms are nothing like little solar systems, and the solar system does not have little rings showing the paths of planets that are close enough together to be seen in a single view. Similarly, Saint Nicholas may not operate in quite the fashion that children are presented with. However, if Nicholas really is with us, he really does listen to our prayers, and he really does intercede on our behalf, I like to believe that he is pleased with the depictions of him as a wise and jolly old elf that rides in a sleigh drawn by eight tiny reindeer. Possibly, he even had a hand in their invention. If nothing else, it obscures him as the intermediary of giving which, if the legends are correct, he would greatly prefer.

Maybe, sometimes, the jolly old saint manifests in the form of the man in red just to satisfy naïve believers. Like all miraculous spiritual phenomena, his manifestations in this form would be fleeting and subjective…possibly even illusory. Such is the way of the spiritual world. Such is the way of Santa Claus.

President Zero

23 Nov

With the recent attacks on France and Mali and people talking about memorizing lines from the Quran before going abroad, it is time for Americans to take another look at our current President.

For years, conservatives have believed that his policies are not good for the country or the world economy, but very few have outwardly considered the possibility that he is not working for our benefit. No person of reputation has dared raise the specter of actual disloyalty.

We were always aware of the lingering doubts associated with his attendance at the Trinity United Church of Christ and his apparently close relationship with the seditious Reverend Jeremiah Wright. We always winced at the video of him failing to cover his heart at the national anthem while other candidates faithfully and instinctually covered theirs. It always seemed like there were things about his past and his books that did not sync well with the concept of a patriotic American working for the benefit of the United States. However, there were no decisive observations on which to base our uneasiness. It was all circumstantial.

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When the case of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin came up, and he seemed to put a wedge between justice and public perception by declaring that “if [he] had a son he’d look like Trayvon,” everyone in the nation was taken aback. Wait a minute, isn’t he supposed to be the president of all of us? Why does he seem to be taking sides in this instance? However, that still was not decisive. After all, if the President did have a son, he would very likely be the same color as Trayvon Martin. But wasn’t that kind of obvious and sort of the wrong thing to say? Why draw our attention to his own blackness when the issue at stake was trust and justice? Whatever happened to the notion of a “colorblind” society?

However, there have been other instances that are not so easily dismissed. Why does it seem like he is tying the hands of the Pentagon when it comes to ISIS and Syria? If his approach is best, why is ISIS spreading across the world like a cancer? Why does he seem to be in such a hurry to bring people here that have proven to be a danger to the west?

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Maybe the President really is concerned for the welfare of people fleeing the Middle East. However, if that is the case, why was he not more urgent to protect them when he could have made a real difference? Maybe he really does think it would be cowardly to not bring the refugees here. However, if that is the case, how much braver would it have been to ensure that Neda’s death was not in vain?

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Maybe the President simply does not want to entangle us in a war that would put the sons and daughters of Americans in harm’s way. However, if that is the case, why did the White House leak information that resulted in the slaughter of Seal Team Six? Why is the President not concerned with improving the care of veterans?

Republicans have been loath to raise doubts about Obama’s loyalty to the United States. The reasons for this are many fold. First of all, they cannot imagine a person who would go to the trouble of ascending the ranks to the Presidency of the United States who does not at least wish to protect his own legacy. Second, they cannot afford the political fallout of being labeled crackpots. Most importantly, they simply do not want to consider the idea. After all, if they conclude that the President is not working for our side, what then?

Democrats are trapped. If they pursue the idea that Obama is not working for our benefit, they will jeopardize their party and their own prospects for the foreseeable future. Better just to keep an eye on him and wait him out.

But let us consider this from the other side…the side of a prospective leader with ulterior motives. If you actually planned to become President with the intention of bringing about the destruction of the United States, how would you go about it?

A scheme like this would take decades to plan and execute. There would be only a minuscule chance that you would ever be in a position to implement it or that circumstances would be exactly right for it to succeed. You would have to count on the media to gloss over questionable elements of your pre-planning past. If you ever wrote a telltale paper, belonged to a subversive organization, or had a questionable mentor, you would have to hope these things will be obscured or ignored. Such a plan would require uncommon patience and perseverance and relentless pushing. Only a handful of famous personalities have exhibited the fortitude to carry it out. Only a person sufficiently narcissistic to imagine themselves one day becoming the leader of the free world would have the audacity.

First, you would have to work your way up the political ladder. This would require that you align yourself with accepted institutions like the Christian Church and get experience working in communities. You would want to develop your speech writing and delivering skills. Anyone who has analyzed American society realizes how much Americans are influenced by presentation. You would never want to be in a position where your actual governing abilities and agenda could be called into question. A good job for a future covert President would be as a representative or senator. While in office, you would want to avoid adopting any positions or voting on any bills that could cloud your prospects. You would want to be something of a “ghost” senator. Of course, you would conspicuously avoid any personal scandals.

Once you were President, your plan would be multi-pronged. You would cultivate external insurgents while simultaneously weakening the local economy and cultivating internal strife. To provide future cover, you would establish a reputation of over-stepping your authority while claiming that you are completely within your bounds. In doing so, you would exploit the naturally slow progress of the legal system.

Here is what you would not do. You would not pass laws that clearly and directly damage the economy. Such laws would simply be overturned and you would quickly be driven from office. You would not do anything like launch nuclear missiles or initiate a world war. There are undoubtedly safeguards in place to prevent these from being done if there is not at least a credible threat. Besides, if you attempted something like this and failed, your tenure would be over. More importantly, if you succeeded, you might ruin the economy and ecology of the world for generations. No one pursuing a new power structure would be interested in this. Most importantly, if you initiated something like a world war, you might start something that the United States would take it upon itself to win, thus accomplishing the exact opposite of your objective.

Here is what you would do. To begin to corrode the economy, you would pass gradually unfolding laws like a giant universal healthcare program that create dependency on the laws themselves so that they are unlikely to be overturned while driving up insurance and drug costs and increasing the national debt. There is a well established precedent for this kind of law.

You would signal potential insurgents by traveling the world and deliberately showing weakness…a sort of world apology tour. When the time is right, you would whisper to the Russians (America’s number one geopolitical foe) that when you are reelected you can make more concessions so that they will know when it is time to advance. (Imagine the confusion of Dmitry Medvedev upon hearing such a revelation directly from the President of the United States. Imagine the dark progress of Medvedev’s gradual comprehension.) If you are ever caught whispering to the enemy, you will have to deny it and pretend it means nothing. To cultivate foreign insurgents while also antagonizing them, you would adopt a semi-anti-war policy. You would withdraw ground troops from critical areas and refuse to redeploy them but step up mostly impotent airstrikes. You might chose a Secretary of State who is beholden to you politically and will say or do anything to make you appear beneficial to the Republic.

You would do everything in your power to ensure that you are reelected to a second term. To this end, you would weaponize government institutions like the IRS. You would attempt to increase your voting base by emboldening illegal immigrants and covertly granting them voting rights by challenging any legislation requiring voter identification. You would have an attorney general who refuses to prosecute voter fraud.

Once reelected and relatively safe from domestic challenge, you would concentrate on dividing Americans along racial and religious lines and encourage minorities in small towns and students at universities to begin radical and irrational protests to destabilize society. To ensure their success and the success of later insurgents, you would tie the hands of the police.

Finally, you would import the insurgents you cultivated with your world apology tour and your semi-anti-war stance. To accomplish this, you would exploit your established practice of overstepping your authority. You would have to coerce the defense department into covering up military intelligence. If anyone suspected the truth, you would ridicule and belittle them.

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That is how it would manifest to the perpetrator.

Of course, there would be telltale signs detectable to the public. A person who could commit to such a course would come across as single-minded and rigidly idealistic. They would seem petulant and dismissive when questioned. They would be detached, aloof and impenetrable. They would profess openness while practicing pathological secrecy. They would occasionally betray an attitude of being persecuted and exhibit outbursts of irrational resentment.

Is any of this actually as it appears?

Some would say that you know a tree by the fruit it bears. However, in the words of the recent Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, what difference does it make? If the United States falls and American society is replaced by something else or a lot of something elses, the most noticeable thing to Americans will be that the good times have ceased to roll. The only thing that will be clearly understood by historians will be the point in history when the end began…a point in history that may properly be called President Zero.

Falling Leaves

1 Nov

Yesterday, during a discussion-based class I team-teach every Saturday, I was not getting any questions from students. I walked out the door and stood on the fourth-story balcony of the building I was in and looked out at the world around me. The balcony overlooks the roof of an adjoining building with all its vents and skylights. There are trees between and around the buildings that are starting to turn brown as we enter the fall season.

The wind was blowing hard and leaves were falling. As I watched some of them fall to the ground, I immediately realized how pretty they are.

However, upon further reflection, I realized how sad they are. These leaves blossomed in the spring, grew, absorbed sunlight, and were a part of the community of leaves that made up the leaves of the tree. They were alive and vital. But fall came, they turned brown, and they were now falling to the ground. I anthropomorphized these leaves, and imagined that they were aware of their surroundings and the passage of time. I imagined how they must feel as the excitement of life gradually turned to the realization that they would inevitably turn brown and die.
Leaves

I was reminded, as I have been reminded many times before, that all the beauty in nature also has a dark side. Tweeting birds are desperately looking for a mate. Blossoming leaves are the beginning of a cycle that must inevitably end in death. The trees they hang from are in a desperate battle for resources against every other life form. We are surrounded by beauty that represents a harsh reality.

This observation could have made me sad. It had an easy opening. I recently learned that my sister has cancer that is probably incurable. My 90 year-old mother, who has only a few years left, was depressed over my sister’s condition. A girl in our class had just confessed to me that her grandmother, who she was very close to, had died and that it was making it hard for her to concentrate. I had just been kicked off of a forum that I sort of enjoyed, although it was a doomed affair. It was cold, windy, wet and dark outside. I was definitely in the right mindset to be down. But I went in another direction.

I realized that my anthropomorphization of the leaves was, after all, just an illusion. Leaves are more like the skin cells of an animal that it sheds when their usefulness has expired. They are not aware of their surroundings or the passage of time. They are not really part of a community. I realized that everything we see around us can be interpreted in myriad ways…including our own lives.

Still, life can be sad. Whenever I see someone walking a puppy down the street, I imagine what life must be like for it. Everything is new. The world is old, but it is all unexplored. What is that over there? Who are those people? What are those things? What new game can we play? Of course, puppies do not have words for these things, but their thinking is evident from the way they bounce down the street wagging their tales and seeming to smile. Yet, puppies grow old and eventually die. They live for only 10 to 20 years, depending on their size and breed. I wonder how much living a dog is able to squeeze into that roughly decade and a half of life?
Puppy

Life is neither inherently beautiful, nor a sad cycle of life and death. These are all illusions that we print onto it like we print words and images onto a piece of paper. Life may actually have a meaning, but we have no idea what it is. As someone who believes in God (most of the time) I have an easier time believing that life is inherently meaningful, but I never fool myself into thinking I have it all figured out.

I had just given some very good and hard-earned advice to the girl who had told me about her grandmother’s death. I had told her that there was no solution to what had happened, but that there would eventually be acceptance; that no religious idea or philosophical rationalization in the world would make it OK; but that she would notice one day that she was thinking of her grandmother more as history than as a lost friend; and that when that day came she would be able to accept her death. One must appreciate that I do not go around advising people about death. She asked me and I told her what I thought. I pointed out that, as far as her school work was concerned, all she had to do was get through it. I assured her that I would help in any way possible to lighten her burden.

But that is advice for me and all of us. I do not understand life or death. I do not know what they mean. I do not have a solution. But the thing is, I do not have to have a solution. None of us do. We can try to explain life, but we are not obligated to get it right.

When bad things happen, we find ourselves looking much harder for solutions. However, we seldom move closer to the truth. More often than not, we invent useless or even harmful rationalizations. I imagine that much religious dogma has been invented in that way. However, there is something I have learned through the course of living. When Christians describe the phenomenon, they say, “When God closes a door, he also opens a window.” What I have observed is that when one thing ends it is usually accompanied by the start of something else. Years ago, when I was more or less fired from a job, I was suddenly needed at another better job. A friend and colleague of mine, the person who I team-teach with on Saturdays, frequently observes how she was sad at losing her condominium when she did, but that it put her in a position to make a killer deal on a better one. The transition does not always happen like that, but it happens so often that it is difficult to dismiss as mere coincidence.

I am a little sad now but, possibly for the first time in my life, I am not fooled. I know that something new is coming along. I do not know what it is. I do not even know that it is positive. Maybe it will be the Technological Singularity that many of us have speculated about. Maybe it will be a terrible war. Maybe it will be something extremely personal like finding new love or even stumbling onto that long sought after item that never seems to turn up on eBay. Maybe I will get some incredible inspiration that leads me to an explanation of consciousness or the nature of matter. Maybe I will just have a long period of relative personal silence that leads me to some subtle but transformative insight. It is out there. I can feel it coming.

And so, another Sunday goes by. Another leaf falls. The Seahawks will play another game. They will finish another season. My sister may live or she may die. My mother may last for another day or another decade. A terrible war may start tomorrow. The Singularity may come tonight. Today, November 1, 2015, I got it right. Today, I saw life for what it is. I will get my work done, and I will get on to the next day.

Behold the Hero

17 Sep

Last night, I happened to wander into our living room where my sister and mother were watching Dancing with the Stars. I had heard that Alek Skarlatos, one of the American heroes who stopped a terrorist on a train in France, was performing. My sister told me that he had already performed and had done very well. She asked if I wanted her to back it up so that I could watch, and I said yes.

I watched him dance with a beautiful blonde professional dancer. Indeed, he did very well. The lights played over him and his beautiful partner. The camera occasionally panned over the adoring audience. He looked handsome in his tailored suit and reminded me somehow of the beast from Disney’s animated feature Beauty and the Beast. At the end of the dance, the judges could not pour out enough praise for him. They seemed genuinely impressed with his foxtrot.

As I watched all of this unfold, a slight tear came to my eye. I envied him, but I also admired him. Yet, there was another emotion that seemed to take precedence over all the others. I also felt sorry for him. How could one man absorb all that adoration? He was not just a hero of TV or film like Tom Cruise, Matt Damon or Liam Neeson. He was an actual real live hero who had done something almost unfathomably brave and possibly saved the lives of dozens or hundreds of people. He was the very definition of a hero. He had gone, unarmed, against a man with several guns, disabled him, and lived to tell about it. He was not an actor who played a hero in films. He was the hero that those films are about. And there he was, on national television, being thanked in person by celebrities, as bright lights played over him and cameras panned to the faces of his proud parents. How could one man stand it?

If I were in his position, I would go through a period of mania in which it seemed like anything was possible. Afterward, the period of mania would be followed by a period of depression. During my period of depression, I would recall something I had said during my period of mania that might have made me seem phony, immodest, or self-absorbed. The feeling that I had let people down would make me much more miserable than if I had never experienced any of it at all.

As I pondered these things, I realized that Alek Skarlatos is a hero in a second way. He stood up for the people on the train by taking down a terrorist. However, he is standing up for all of us again. He is standing in the bright lights and taking in all that glory so that we do not have to do it ourselves. We can watch his experience as a real life hero from a safe distance and relate to him without having to deal with the intense emotional baggage that is likely to ensue. We do not have to wonder if something will happen to embarrass us, like some thug attacking us or challenging us to a fight to prove to the world that we are not so heroic after all. We do not have to risk a slur from some jealous actor who is sitting next to us on a talk show who realizes he is being out shown. We do not have to worry about some famous person offering us drugs and taking offense if we refuse. We do not have to worry about being asked to sponsor a product or a political campaign in a way that seems overtly boastful. We do not have to worry about making any of the mistakes that someone who is new to celebrity is likely to make in a world that is full of people who secretly want to see every hero unmasked.

I admire Alek Skarlatos, and I envy him. However, I would not quite want to be him. I simply could not deal with what he is going to have to deal with. Every night that he is on Dancing with the Stars people will be reminded of why he is there. His celebrity, after all, is not actor, or activist or politician. It is “hero”. Every time he is in the spotlight, literally millions of people will be studying him to see how a hero dresses, when a hero smiles, how a hero responds to complements and how a hero reacts to criticism. They will be watching in anxious anticipation to see if he makes a misstep or if someone else makes a misstep for him. They will be wondering where he will go from here. He seems OK as a dancer. Maybe he could play a hero in a movie or TV series. What if he is a lousy actor? Maybe he should become an inspirational speaker. Maybe he should write a book. What if he writes a book and it is boring?

We should all thank Alek Skarlatos for saving those people on the train. However, perhaps we owe him a greater debt for the sacrifice he I making now. Like Jesus, who died on a cross to save us from our sins, Alek is bearing the cross of standing in for all of us and taking on the role of a genuine action hero. He is standing in the bright lights and absorbing all the accolades so that we can feel closer to that role without being close enough to get hurt.

Thank you Alek Skarlatos for the risk you undertook. However, thank you even more for the greater risk you are presently undertaking. I realize you did not ask for any of this, but it is your burden to bear. I will pray that this goes well for you and that you find your way down this road in peace.