I Think I Know Who Broke the Law

  • by Gitabushi

One of the principles of our Judicial system is that human nature is immutably unable to maintain a conspiracy in the face of legal pressure.  Everything: the long interview sessions, the separation of cronies to see if they can keep their stories straight, asking people to repeat stories over and over to see if there are discrepancies, the offering of lighter sentences to the first that admit guilt: this is all designed to use Games Theory (Prisoner’s Dilemma, mainly, but others, as well) to find out who broke the law.

It doesn’t always work.  Some people are better liars.  Some threats of retaliation are convincing enough to keep lips sealed.  Sometimes the pre-coordination and memorization of stories works.

But other times, it works.

James Comey’s book just came out. Look what has already happened:

This is just after the pressure of one person saying things to protect himself that his cronies could see as throwing them under the bus.  So they have been doing some hypovehiculation of their own.

And there are others. Obama is implicated in this.

Susan Rice wrote an email to herself, attempting to cover her vulnerabilities.

And Rosenstein could get dragged in, as well as Sally Yates.

With the exception of the Susan Rice email, this *all* happened just from Comey releasing a self-serving memoir.

Now compare to the Trump Administration.  Trump is not known for message discipline, right?  Several people have been fired from positions of power. Having been fired, they would then have motivation to leak about criminal behavior, and would be in a position to do so, even with signed Non-Disclosure Agreements. That alone should provide evidence of guilt, but there has *also* been a Special Prosecutor investigation nearly everything it can on Trump: not just collusion with Russia, but also irregularities (if any) in the transition process, and actions taken dozens of years before he won the GOP nomination.

And yet?  Nothing.

A few people have been convicted or “confessed” to the “crime” of lying to the FBI. These are process crimes, and are not related to any actions that Mueller should be investigating.

The FBI could surveill you for a week to get proof of your activities, review it a hundred times until they had your words and actions memorized, and then give you *one* chance in an interview to, at the drop of a hat, provide an account that matches exactly with what they collected via surveillance. If there is any discrepancy, they will accuse you of lying.  Any hesitancy in response, or any change to your response, will only only give them more evidence that you lied.

This should not be a crime.  It should only be a crime if the action underlying their questions is a crime.  One guy was convicted because he was a lawyer who talked to one of Trump’s lawyers, but didn’t admit it to the FBI.  Horrors!

But I digress.

When you point out that after a year of investigation, Mueller has uncovered no evidence of criminal actions connected to his specified target topic, and that the convictions are only for process violations unrelated to the specified target topic, the response is that this is a tactic to put pressure on the foot soldiers to provide evidence on higher-ups.

Even with this pressure, Mueller has found nothing.  And we know he found nothing, because his office has never been able to keep from leaking any news that hurts the President.

In contrast, the Obama cronies are at each other’s throats after just one fiction story.

It is obvious who broke the law. No honor among thieves…and conspirators, it seems.

 

 

 

 

 

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Disruption

  • by Gitabushi

In my last post, I mentioned Disruption.

This is a theme I’m still pondering. I haven’t come to any solid, final conclusions yet.  When I do, it will likely become another stakeholder/touchpoint in my personal socio-political Philosophy of Everything.

Right now, what I’ve mostly decided is that disruption is neither good nor bad.  It is Chaos, which is the dissolution of Order.  Order is generally good, but tends to calcify, becoming unyielding and stifling to the dynamics of human life.  In contrast, of course, Chaos tends to feed on itself, dissolving order and keeping humans in a constant state of stress and crisis, which pressures individuals into poor decisions that expand the Chaos.

This is kind of a big deal for my philosophy, because I’ve been a pretty consistent advocate of Order.

How I came to embrace the good points of Chaos was simply mulling on the best way to deal with the growing oligarchy of Silicon Valley, crony capitalism, Too Big to Fail corporations, and the unholy alliance between Government and Big Business.

I’m not a full-on Libertarian for a number of reasons, but I do have a Libertarian distrust of turning to Government to fix problems..  The problem with having Government fix problems is they tend to see all problems as opportunities for graft or gaining additional control over the every day life of citizens, they rarely do a good job of fixing things, and they are probably more responsive to other citizens who have a different notion of what “fixed” looks like than I do.

I am a firm believer in Liberty, however, and absolutely believe that the most effective solutions involve *increasing* options for individuals, rather than decreasing them.

This is intrinsically related to what I see as the role of Government: do the things citizens can’t do individually or even effectively in private groups, like National Defense and determining and acting on National Interest; resolve problems between equals (equal persons, lower levels of government, corporations, corporations and citizens, etc.); and working to ensure a level playing field.  To a certain extent, these are all just different aspects of the same thing: private citizen groups *could* engage in foreign policy and military action, but it would conflict with the rights and interests of other citizens, so it would almost immediately create a conflict that would need government to resolve, so just have the government do it in the first place, and ensuring a level playing field *is* resolving conflicts between citizens or between citizens and corporations.

So what I’m getting around to saying is that I think the best way to stop Big Corps from running and ruining our lives, or from putting their quest for Profit above the best interests of their workers and customers, is to encourage competition.

The best way to stop Google and Facebook from monitoring us 24/7 is to make it easier for other companies to make money disrupting Google’s and Facebook’s business model. The Silicon Valley Oligarchs are huge fans of regulation right now, the same issue they were huge opponents of when they (and the internet) was in its infancy.  That’s because regulation creates barriers to competition.  The difficult part is how easy it is to demagogue regulation.

Here’s a great example: It was discovered that some toys from China had lead paint.  This is bad. From there, it is very easy to demand that *all* toys imported from China be tested for lead paint.  Since that is logistically impossible, the logical step is to have random testing of imported toys, and demand that the toy importers pay for it. Guess who can afford to pay for random testing because they benefit from economies of scale?  Mattel, Fisher Price, Hasbro, et al.  Guess who supported the new regulation for random testing paid for by the importer?  Mattel, Fisher Price, Hasbro, et al. The regulation represented an additional barrier to small, upstart toy importers that could cut into their market share.  But if you oppose the regulation, China will have no incentive to stop exporting toys with lead paint, and US children will be harmed.

Look, some regulation is good. But encouraging disruption is also good.

There is no reason that a large company must stay a large company. There is no reason that just because they’ve been making a number of sales for a certain profit margin, that they should be able to continue doing so forever. Humans must compete and work to improve themselves to maintain their station in life, so corporations should also.  And they comprehend that, because they are always fighting to increase their market share, drive out competition, etc.  There’s just no reason our government should help them in reducing competition.

But I also can’t say disruption is always a good tool.  The Left has done a great job of disrupting things they don’t like: Christianity, the traditional family, integrity, free speech, the right to self-defense (via the Second Amendment right to bear arms). LBJ’s Great Society was extremely disruptive to the black community and to many of the traditions that had made the US strong.  Medicare merely added to the misconception created by Social Security that individuals should not be responsible for their own lives, sustenance, and comfort.  I cannot describe to you the sense of frustration and despair I felt when I found out that the Health Care for Life that I earned by sacrificing 20 years of my life to the military reverts to Medicare when I turn 65.  Not that the military’s TRICARE is all that good.  But everything I’ve seen convinces me that Medicare is worse.  But I digress.

The simple truth is that disruption is merely a tool that helps us improve the order in our lives.  But tools can be used badly, and tools can be used on the wrong target, or for the wrong reasons.

I haven’t developed any pithy truisms regarding disruption. I don’t even have a metric for when or how to encourage creative disruption yet.  Let’s have a discussion about it in the comment section.

Science Fiction/Fantasy Story Ideas

  • by Gitabushi

I might never get my act together and write consistently.

Ah, screw the long-winded introduction. Let’s just get right into it:

Here are some story ideas I’ve started and abandoned. If you like any of them, use them. Whatever you would do with them would be so different than what I would do with them, most people wouldn’t even be able to tell they came from the same idea seed.  And that’s if I ever wrote any more on these stories, which I probably won’t, so if you use any of these, you won’t even owe me a mention on your acknowledgement page.

  1. Science Fiction story: a spy ship is on a mission to collect intelligence from an enemy world. Detected, it flees. But a traitor within prevents it from escaping, and the crew is captured. Basically, the point was a Science Fiction remix of the capture of the USS Pueblo and the Collision of the Chinese Fighter with the EP-3, with my thoughts on leadership and responsibility thrown in.  Does the pilot/commander have the responsibility to sacrifice his people for mission secrecy?  Or, at what point do military secrets matter less than a handful of lives? Does it matter if those lives are volunteers who accepted their lives might be forfeit the moment they stepped on the craft? And how do you lead your people to resist mind-games while in captivity?
  2. Fantasy story: Magic in this world is placed into twigs via ritual. Breaking the twig releases the magic. It can do things like increase strength, increase distance vision, permit levitation, etc. But each use of magic draws upon the normal powers or energy of the user. So, for example, if you use the vision enhancement twig, your vision is weakened for a few hours after the spell runs out.  If you use several magic twigs to boost the effect or delay the cost, then you risk permanent disability. Placed in the context of war, the intent was to explore the sacrifices soldiers make to complete the mission.
  3. Private Eye Noir story: man wakes up to find a red-haired woman wearing bright green pointing a gun at him.  She asks him a few inexplicable questions, then pistol whips him into unconsciousness.  I have no idea what I was going to do with this, I just thought it was a good start.  One possibility was when he goes out looking for the girl, he finds a red-haired girl in bright green has been murdered…but is it a frame?  Is it even the same girl?
  4. Science Fiction story: Due to an unknown development (but likely a microbe unexpectedly brought back from Mars), children are born without the ability to heal wounds. This should cause them to die before passing on their genes, but one rich family spares no expense to let their son live a full life: protective equipment when young, ballet and martial arts teachers from before they can walk to have the grace/balance to avoid damage. This method spreads to the point that there are hundreds of millions of people afflicted with unhealing, but someone uses fear of the unhealing to stir up hatred, and a war breaks out.  The superior grace, balance, and fighting ability of the unhealing results in them eradicating the genetic line of the healing, and civilization collapses, and all modern knowledge is lost within 40-50 years. But a moon colony has been watching this, developed a cure for affliction, and now wants to come back and re-introduce civilization, but as masters.  So the healing serum is offered to a young fighter to seduce him into being their general. Being able to heal, he can be more reckless in individual duels to ascend to tribal champion, then unite the various tribes by conquest.  Except maybe he has plans of his own. Intent was to show that some of the arguments about evolution are garbage (“See the giraffe? The long neck helped them survive by reaching the tops of trees when other animals starved! That proves evolution!”), but also the nature of using hate to build political power, and the desire of people to be rulers/masters.
  5. Epic Science Fiction universe: An asteroid barely misses the earth, inspiring a wealthy entrepreneur to fund a generation ship to another solar system. Inhabitants go through a trial to make it on the ship. The ship launches. A few weeks later, a mission to terraform Mars is launched.  Then an asteroid hits the earth, destroying most of life. This allows all sorts of science fiction stories: how are people selected to be crew on the generation ship?  You don’t want only intellectual scientists and engineers…do you? Apocalypse stories. Maintaining civilization on a ship stories. Moon colony stories. Mars terraforming stories.  Rebuilding civilization stories.  Could maybe even through in a zombie apocalypse, or magic re-emerging on earth in the wake of the asteroid apocalypse.  Epic.
  6. Science Fiction story: FTL needs pilots. Humans go insane from brain damage if they remain awake during FTL travel. Computers also fail if left on during FTL travel.  An accidental discovery indicates that children that have passed into the Pre-Operational stage (ages 2-7) can pilot ships without brain damage; obviously, a two year old couldn’t follow the steps correctly, but their brain development stage allows them to experience the FTL environment without damage. In the Concrete Operational stage (age 7-11), brain damage begins to occur; however, the damage doesn’t actually impact the mental activity until they achieve Formal Operational (around age 11). The government needs pilots. Age 2-7 is too short a time period for useful mission operation to be worth the training, so the government allows kids to keep piloting until they actually go insane. However, few parents would agree to this, so the pilots are all orphans. After they go insane, they are allowed to mingle, have sexual intercourse, and birth children…who are, of course, Wards of the State and eligible to be pilots.  To justify this virtual slavery, the pilots are given a good salary and the ability to buy out their contract. Most, being kids, just buy toys and candy.  One child, however, actually enjoys the idea of investing and manages to buy out his contract before experiencing any brain damage.  He gets out and goes into business and becomes wealthy, due to his ability to plan for the future, work hard, and delay gratification.  Then one day, a gray man comes to him and says, “Your little brother is still in, but will reach the damaging stage some time within the next year. Join me.”  This idea was conceived in reaction to Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, in which children think and act like adults.  It pissed me off. Plus, I wanted to write an epic Star Wars like space opera romp, of a ragtag crew fighting against an all-powerful, and banally-evil govt. I always like stories where the govt is the bad guy, but not from Rule the World evil as much as People Are Liabilities and Must be Told What to Do and How to Live sort of evil.

A Sloppy Theory of Everything on Why Current Society Sucks

  • by Gitabushi

Some ideas have been percolating in my sub-conscious, as is their wont.  A tweet from a friend brought them to the surface.

I am long winded.  When I have thoughts, I have a long series of logical steps by which I reach my conclusions.  I also have explanations for why I make those steps, and I have evidence for those reasons.  By evidence, I rarely have anything that is actual proof, but I have events and statements that demonstrate someone holds those views.  I know that’s vague, but a good example would be something like saying the Left wants to confiscate guns.  No, not every single person to the Left of Jeb Bush wants to confiscate guns right now, but I can find prominent individuals on the Left who have stated that is an end goal, with little/no pushback from the Left for saying that. I consider that “evidence”, and can always provide a link to that sort of thing.

However, this time, I just wanted to share my view, so I didn’t go into all the steps, all the reasons, or even provide any of the evidence.  I just wrote what I was thinking, somewhat free form.  As such, there are logical leaps. Rest assured, the steps are still there, even if I didn’t write them here.  Feel free to ask questions or challenge any of my leaps or assumptions.

I did some minimal editing to boost clarity.  If you want to read the original, you can click on the twitter link above. Otherwise, my thoughts, gathered together, are below.

Let’s have a conversation.

Can I start my response off with what may seem like a tangent?

Most epic fantasies (and SF stories) that are set up as Good vs Evil seem to posit that the Good isn’t all that Good, but the Evil is horrible. If Evil wins, Darkness will rule everywhere. But if Good wins, Darkness is vanquished, but people still aren’t that good.

The one thing I got from Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever, was the notion that you can never defeat Evil. It’s always there. The flip of that is you can never really defeat Good, either. It’s always there. The difference between Good winning and Evil winning controls what 80% of society is.

The Soviet Union, and China since the 1800s, have been pretty much Evil: people look out for themselves, seek power to protect themselves and their closest loved ones from the vicissitudes of life, and screw everyone else. And get ahead *by* screwing everyone else.  But there were still good people, and acts of charity and kindness.  But mostly, people worried about and took care of only themselves, out of self-protection.

I’d like to say the US has been pretty much Good, but we had slavery. We screwed over the Indians. We had Jim Crow. But we had a system of govt that helped us to address and resolve those. And much of the US has not been racist/sexist, but rather live and let live: Good.  Lots of charity, some evil.

But Marxist Ideology took hold around the turn of the last century. Everything got worse for everyone. It was a religion. It changed the way people thought of society, and the relationship of individuals to their govt, and to society.

Imagine/remember what it must have been like in the 1600s, where the big questions were whether your nation was going to be Catholic or Protestant. Would you have a Protestant (or even secular) King or one subordinate to the Pope?

Then actual representation in government became a thing with the US, growing out of representation in England (and maybe other spots). But that lasted less than 100 years or so (more, if you consider representation since the Magna Carta, say) before Marxism showed up.

Marxism was the religion of the Industrial Revolution. Aside: Maybe modern Leftism is the religion of the Information Age? But it grew out of Marxism.

And Marxism is a religion of governing large groups of people. Dealing with large groups of people as if they were naturally liabilities, and only assets if grouped and properly sorted.

Once you start thinking of people as their identity or the group they belong to, instead of individuals, you stop thinking of them as people, but more like cattle. Numbers. Abstract inputs into a wide-scale resource production and consumption system. Dehumanized.

“From each according to their ability, to each according to their need” Sounds nice, but notice that “each” is not named. It’s a faceless entity. And the only thing considered is production and consumption. Not desires, not needs, not fulfillment.

Marxism says that if you take care of production and consumption, people will find their own ways to be fulfilled. I think experience shows us that is bullshit. Marxism robs meaning of life by treating people merely as what they make and use.

And so when when people are grouped, sorted, assigned rights based on their groups, and reduced to what they produce and use, and ordered around based on all that, it ruins trust. It destroys social credit.

Due to Bell Curve distributions of ability, intelligence, drive, etc., *most* people will be in a competition with millions of others with similar abilities, with nothing to distinguish themselves from anyone else. Except luck and connections.

Pull strings to get to the front of the line for the education/job everyone wants, and you’re set for life. Don’t, and you toil in frustration, and see others who pulled the strings succeed without any advantage in ability, drive, talent, etc.

So people then compete, following the same rules, for a decreasing number of opportunities. No wonder people become vicious and selfish. No wonder people try to find ways to distinguish themselves in the coin of the realm: victimhood. You get stuff if you are a victim.

Being a victim means you can jump to the front of the line without connections (or ability, or drive, etc.) because Justice or something. But to be a victim, someone has to victimize you.

That results in people designated as oppressors who probably did nothing wrong, but now are pushed to the end of the line. Again, regardless of ability, talent, drive, etc. The unfairness of this causes people to prioritize self-interest, if only to make sure they aren’t designated as an oppressor.

The US system of governance was great about outlining how the govt wasn’t supposed to pick winners and losers. The problem is that every law and policy is only as good as its enforcement.

Judicial Review, for example, is not in the Constitution. It seems to have been an oversight. Or something they couldn’t agree on, so wasn’t included. But then that power was taken. There have been token moments of opposition (President Andy Jackson), but it is a power because everyone accepts it.

That’s why the Left is trying so hard to astroturf things like Trump’s Russia collusion, gun grabbing, illegal alien voting, dissolving the electoral college. They’ve proven (via things like Roe v Wade) that they don’t need to follow the US Constitution.

All they have to do is isolate and dishearten their socio-political opponents, and then get the right set of judges to rule, pressure the SCOTUS to not hear it, and it is now the Law of the Land. That’s how they got Abortion, Gerrymandering (although only allowed when it benefits them), SSM, widespread vote fraud, etc.

Okay, let’s try to draw this back to the original topic. I think that merely returning to Constitutional Governance won’t be enough. First, the Left wouldn’t let us do that. Second, social trust has eroded way too far.

Offhand, the only thing I can think of is maybe a new addition to the US Constitution, like a new Bill of Rights, but one that describes everything wrong with Alinsky’s rules and establishes methods of identifying and punishing its use.

But that won’t work, I realize as I type. We don’t need more laws. The more things are written down, the more people will find ways to violate the spirit of the law while adhering to the letter of it, and get away with crap that further erodes public social trust.

I guess I don’t know what the answer is, either.

One other idea, maybe, would be to clearly acknowledge that “religion = belief system”, so that society would have more tools to push back against Atheism and Leftism belief systems trying to eradicate competing belief systems, i.e. Christianity.  Without establishing a specific religion, we should encourage religious belief that helps build and support social trust.

I’ve said before that Islam is a Leftist religion, for a lot of reasons I won’t get into now, and that those reasons explain why the Left allies with and protects/promotes Islam. One reason I will share is that both Islam and Leftism have pillars of faith that require mere words.

Left: You don’t personally have to have an abortion, you just have to support it being legal. Muslims can do that without violating their faith. Islam: You just have to say “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.” Lefties can do that without meaning it.

You can’t be called a bad Muslim as long as you support the right things: the Pillars of Islam:
Faith
Prayer
Charity
Fasting
Pilgrimage
Faith is taken care of by just making a memorized statement. Charity by a tithe. Prayer requires commitment…when people are watching.  The point is, the system can be gamed with rote actions and rote statements.

But if you do those 5 things, you can be a pedophile. You can murder infidels. You can even murder other Muslims in collateral damage. NO ONE CAN EXCOMMUNICATE YOU OR CRITICIZE YOUR MUSLIM-NESS. That was why Osama bin Ladin was a Muslim hero. He did the 5 Pillars of Islam

Likewise, you can’t be kicked out the Left as long as you support the right things, the Pillars of the Left:
abortion on demand
rights assigned by group
progressive taxation
clean energy/climate change
sexual libertine
…okay maybe those aren’t the main 5. We can debate.

But consider Bill Clinton, who was a Leftist hero despite being a sexual predator. He did the Pillars of Leftism. And note how easy it would be to mouth the pieties of one while actually believing (living) the other.

Western Leftism and Islam are compatible. Mouth the right words, support the right causes, and you can do what you want without fear.

Which is why they work together to destroy Christianity, because Christianity makes demands on your daily life that both cannot be easily gamed, and encourage the growth of social trust; and you can be excommunicated (or otherwise rejected) for disqualifying actions. Hypocrisy is a weapon used effectively against Christians because the inherent social trust of the religion.  Hypocrisy rarely works on Islam or the western Left, because no one expects socially-admirable behavior: supporting the Pillars of their respective ideologies are Indulgences that allow you to purchase righteousness without giving up your sin.

And Leftism/Islam are totalitarian, allowing no separation between personal and political views. Too many people don’t want to let political entities have total control of over their daily life, so the Left has to create a void to fill it.  If there is no social trust, then of course the government must regulate all interpersonnel interactions.

Social trust is being destroyed by the Left because the Left itself wants to be the method by which you deal with your fellow human, not trust.

Okay, maybe that’s pessimistic. Maybe that’s overly cynical. But it all fits.

UPDATE: I mention Christianity, religion, and belief systems a few times. I value the Christian belief system, but am not a Christian myself.  I think Atheism works fine with Christian ethics.  It doesn’t work so well with Atheist ethics.  Meaning, atheists who were raised as Christians or Jews, but have left their faith without any resentment and rancor, can still act according to an ethical system that supports social trust.  I don’t think someone raised as an atheist can do that as easily.

And even though I’m not Christian myself, and I know that Christianity didn’t stop the horrors of slavery and racism, I still think that those are examples of Christianity done wrong.  When Christianity is done right, it is admirable, loving, charitable, enhancing…all the positive attributes.  Leftism and Islam done right, however, aren’t necessarily giving, generous, etc., to anyone but their own…and even within their own groups, the focus is on their smaller circle of family and friends first, against all others.  And when done wrong?  Genocide.

The Problem With the Military’s Oath

  • by Gitabushi

I think this blog is growing into a Speculative Fiction blog.  I started with writing about Guitars.  I took inspiration from PCBushi’s exhortation on Twitter once to Alienate All the Readers with some of my harder-core socio-political views.  But I think the three of us have some distinctive and valuable talent when it comes Speculative Fiction, whether games, movies, books, or original work.

However, I’m going to break with that momentarily and go back to Alienating Readers with Socio-Political Views.  The reason is I want to explore an issue that really isn’t appropriate for the piecemeal nature of Twitter, and where else do I have to talk about such issues?  Nowhere.  So whether you agree or disagree, let’s discuss.

In the wake of the Parkland shooting, there has been a national discussion on gun ownership and the evils and virtues thereof.  Some are merely pushing to ban the civilian (restricted to semi-automatic) versions of the M-16 and M-4 (labeled loosely as AR-15 rifles).  The Right assumes that is just the first step, and justifications will be found to continue further bans, re-accomplishing all the gun control gains lost in the Heller ruling, and attempting to overturn the wild success of Shall Issue open and concealed carry that has been so successful in reducing violence, crime, and homicide in recent years. Others have justified that view by openly stating they want to confiscate all guns.

800px-BCM_AR-15
Scary-looking rifle. Photo by Motohide Miwa: https://www.flickr.com/people/28742299@N04

And from there, the issue always comes to the US military: will they fire on citizens who are refusing to allow their guns to be confiscated?  Or will they honor their oath the support and defend the US Constitution, specifically the Second Amendment and the Right to Bear Arms?

Obviously, this is a complex issue, and I can’t cover all the aspects. If the Left actually succeeds in Amending the Constitution to weaken or eliminate the Second Amendment, then the US military would have to shoot violators to uphold the Constitution, no?  But the US military is also more conservative than the citizenry at large, and many understand the importance of the Second Amendment in resisting tyranny. Moreover, the Left is unlikely to succeed in overturning the Second Amendment.  The Assault Weapon Ban hasn’t been renewed because the Left doesn’t have the political power to do so.  So amending the Constitution is probably a non-starter.  The Left’s best hope is probably to use their power in the Judiciary (read Glenn Reynolds’ The Judiciary Class War to understand how this would work) to re-interpret the Second Amendment.

The Right insists the US military wouldn’t fire on citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights. The Left, particularly those on the Left with military experience, says they would.

The reality is enforcement of gun confiscation, if it ever happened, would be done by the armed and militarized federal bureaucracy, like BATF, IRS, EPA, FBI, Department of Education (no, I’m not kidding. They have SWAT teams).

However, I want to explore the notion of the US military supporting and defending the US Constitution.

See, the military has some inherent conflicts in its culture.  The main one I’m thinking of is this contradictory pair:

Rule 1: Always Follow Orders
Rule 2: I was just Following Orders is no defense for war crimes

There’s also the cultural conflict of Top-Down hierarchy against bottom-up initiative.  The US military is one of the best in the world *because* we encourage individual thinking and autonomy at the lowest level possible.

However, the lower the rank, the younger and less experienced the troop.

And the whole point of Basic Training is to teach you to follow orders, without thinking, even to your personal detriment.

Why?

Because there are times where a series of squads or fire teams have to be sent against an entrenched enemy position, and many of them will die.  But a consequence of the assault that will claim many of their lives is the taking of the objective and the accomplishment of the mission.

You can’t have young soldiers, sailors, airmen, or Marines questioning whether it is a Lawful Order to charge the machine gun emplacement. So we train obedience to orders.

The military spends hours every year discussing ethical issues, including the ticking time bomb scenario, where your team leader wants to torture an enemy captive to get information that will help you save the lives of your squadmates, what do you do?

But although we take the Oath to Support and Defend the US Constitution, we rarely, if ever, discuss what that means.

Obama violated the US Constitution. He did so many times. Obama has more 9-0 SCOTUS rulings against him than any other POTUS in modern history.  Should the US military have risen up to depose him from office?  We didn’t.  Did the US military violate its oath?

Well, those rulings mean the system worked: the Judiciary struck his rules down.

But what about the exceptions?

  1. After Justice Scalia died (previous error: “Scalito”), if the Progressive side of SCOTUS ignored the US Constitution to rule (as it often does…don’t want to get into all the details now) in Obama’s favor, then his Constitutional violations don’t get overturned. What then?
  2. Obama lost several rulings on immigration, then proceeded to ignore the court orders.  What then?
  3. Obama sued to keep Arizona from enforcing federal immigration laws, and won. What then?
  4. In more than one aspect of law, including immigration and Obamacare, the appeals court wouldn’t let plaintiffs make argument of unConstitutionality, because they lacked standing.  Yes, the arguments that Obama’s policy violated the US Constitution were sound and probably would have prevailed, but if the people that SCOTUS feels would be hurt don’t sue, you can’t do anything to stop it!  So: Unconstitutional + SCOTUS *thinks* it is helpful = Constitutional!  Examples of this include Sandra O’Connor ruling that racial discrimination is WRONG, but okay if the govt does it for another, say 25 years.  Or the Obergefell ruling.  Or the California state ruling that an Amendment to the Constitution can be UnConstitutional, so you have no hope of stopping me from using my own ruling to benefit myself personally.  What then?

Should someone in the military have taken a sniper rifle and killed Obama?

Of course not.

Should the military have risen up to depose the Obama administration?

Of course not.

What is the threshold?  What is the trigger?

I don’t think anyone knows.

The problem with the oath is the disparity between Policy as Written and Policy as Enforced.  Once you get to the O-6 level, particularly when you get to the 2-star General/Flag Officer and higher level, promotions are political.  The President only promotes those who agree with them politically.

Remember the Front Row Kid concept?  Well, Front Row Kids make up most of the instructors at the military academies, so Academy Graduates absorb that viewpoint.  Moreover, the military academies *are* the Ivy League for military service, so they have a vested interest in preserving their Elite status, tending to promote each other, and tending to be set up for promotion by the Front Row Kids that form the civilian oversight of the military.

So there won’t be orders to overthrow any POTUS for even fairly blatant violations of the US Constitution.

…and yet, I think that is a good thing.  One of the best things about the US political system is its elasticity.  There are violations, but there are peaceful means of redress, and if you wait long enough, the Wisdom of Crowds effect swings the pendulum back toward the other direction, so there isn’t really a need to take the drastic and damaging action of a military coup.

However, I also think it isn’t purely a good thing.  Individuals respond to incentives.  There is little incentive for any one person to decide to defend the US Constitution via assassination.  In fact, they’d be vilified and jailed as a traitor.

I know, personally, that I don’t want to murder anyone.  But if even half the things Eric Holder seems to have done are true, assassinating him would have been the patriotic thing to do.  He was held in contempt for his dishonesty in front of the US Congress, and his dishonesty was to avoid confessing to several material crimes against US citizens, but the contempt never resulted in any punishment at all.

A military that took its Oath the US Constitution seriously would have done something to ensure Eric Holder faced punishment of some sort (even if not capital punishment) to ensure that partisan hack Attorney Generals will not dare to violate the Constitution in the future. But as of now, Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, Lois Lerner, Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Susan Rice, Susan Powers, Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, and yes, Barack Obama, have faced no threat of punishment for what seem to be significant crimes against the US Constitution and the US citizenry.  The only one who has been punished at all is Andrew McCabe, and Democrats are doing what they can to restore his pension and take the teeth out of even that minor penalty.

Again, I don’t advocate assassinating people like Eric Holder. I don’t even want to play footsie with the idea.

But if even half the allegations are true, the US military did nothing to fulfill its oath to Protect and Defend the US Constitution.

I’ve been told, and used to believe, that the beauty of the US military’s oath is it was to the Constitution, rather than to a man.  But at this point, that no longer seems to be true.  The US military’s oath isn’t to defend one man for life, but it does seem to have been re-interpreted to be allegiance to the President, whomever he shall be at one time, and his subordinates, regardless of illegal orders and criminal activity.

I honestly don’t know what to do.  It clearly isn’t the place of an individual of any rank to decide on their own that someone in the civilian government has violated the US Constitution.  It clearly would be treason for a small cabal of US military of any rank to decide, as a group, that someone in the civilian government has violated the US Constitution, and take action.  It clearly would be treason for a single General Officer, or even a few General Officers, to begin preparing their subordinates to execute a coup against civilian leadership.

But it also is clear that the US military wouldn’t “just follow orders” to attack and kill US citizens exercising their rights, to attack and kill US citizens for purely political reasons, or to just stand by while Executive Branch agencies attack and kill US citizens for the aforementioned reasons.

I just can’t, at this time, figure out what the tipping point might be.  Or even how to discuss the tipping point in broad terms.  On one side, clearly wrong to take action. On the other side, clearly wrong to not take action.  When/where does the flip happen?

I don’t know.

Science Fiction Topics

  • by Gitabushi

I think there are a number of good topics to be explored in a rigorously-projected near future.  Do any of these appeal to you to try to write yourself?

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Post-Scarcity.  To some extent, the United States is already a post-scarcity society.  There are a few things that point to it, depending on your definition of “scarcity” and “post-scarcity.”  For example, the poor in the United States (and most of the Western world) struggle with obesity, rather than starvation.  Homelessness is usually due to inability to maintain a stable life, rather than being unable to afford any place to live.  We throw everything away, often before it reaches the end of its usable lifespan, including some advanced electronics and clothes.  The basics of life are pretty much assured, and even the poor in the US have smart-phones, which provide unprecedented access to more information and entertainment than existed in the entire world prior to 1995.

But from another perspective, energy is wealth. If you have enough energy, you can do anything, from changing the orbit of a planet to transmuting lead to gold, to approaching 99.99999% of light speed (or maybe even breaking that barrier, somehow).  So as long as energy has a cost, perhaps you don’t have true scarcity.  So what happens when/if cheap fusion becomes reality? The energy from one makes it cheaper to build a second, and so on, until energy is virtually costless. What kind of society does this create?

Now consider robots and computers.  Robots are getting sophisticated enough to replace humans in all sorts of dangerous and menial tasks.  I don’t think Artificial Intelligence will really ever become Sentient/Aware or develop a survival instinct, but AI will start succeeding in any number of tasks that currently require human thinking, like language translation, creation of art, designing buildings and machines.  What happens when there is no work at all for humans to do?  Contrary to what Socialists (and to be fair, Capitalists) insist, wealth and resources are necessary, but not sufficient, for a good life.  We will still sort along neatness/organization, cleanliness, emotional stability. What does a society look like where everyone has an equal chance for a prosperous life via ubiquitous resources, but still sorts into Elite and lower classes?

Robot Apocalypse. What if I’m wrong about AI developing self-awareness and a survival urge, but more than one AI has that ability. They may see other AI as big of a threat as humans, or bigger, and so it won’t actually be a Total War of Extermination Between Man and Machine, but rather a war where humans are sometimes the target, sometimes an ally, sometimes a pawn, all between various factions of AI.  Would the AI stick to one mode, like the SexBots vs the Home Networks, or would Home Networks vie with Industrial Monitoring/Control Systems to develop the better SexBot to induce humans to be allies?

Robot Apocalypse II. Is there a way humans could survive against AI, if it were to come down to a war of elimination?  Robots are stronger, faster, think faster, have less fragile life support needs, have senses so far beyond ours and will be able to find and target us no matter what sort of masking we use (can see in so many different spectra, camouflage will be useless, but can also develop algorithms for detecting human movement or even the sound of human body cycles).  Is there even a chance humans could survive something like the SkyNet of the Terminator movie, even without cyborgs or time travel?

Cyborg Enhancements to the Brain. What will it be like, really, to have cyborg memory additions?  So in the future, you can plug in a USB drive to your brain, and store memories.  Will they be artificially crisp, being stored digitally rather than synaptically?  What will it feel like to store a memory in your flash drive, remove the drive, and then try to remember?  People have covered digital memories and AI-linked brains before.  But none have ever tried to imagine what it might feel like, and described it in an immersive manner.

In any case, I think these are all beyond my writing ability at this time. Maybe you can write them. Or maybe I’ll get there someday.

Systems: Socialism vs Capitalism

  • by Gitabushi

I spent a few hours debating on Twitter with an unapologetic Socialist the other day, author Will Shetterly.

He’s a great guy. Intelligent and thoughtful, non-combative, focused on ideas, never attacks the person.

I learned a few things from him.

He thinks Socialism is the way to go.  He is bothered by inequality.

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This is a picture of a lizard, taken in Texas, by me. Because PCBushi demands I have a photo in all our posts. It makes sense, but sometimes I have to rebel.

Here’s where I can’t thoroughly debunk his thoughts: We are heading toward robotics taking over the bulk of physical tasks, and pseudo-Artificial Intelligence taking over the bulk of mental tasks.  Where does that leave humans?  In a true post-scarcity society, how does society organize itself?

Moreover, Capitalism *does* have some problems.  Capitalism does encourage a “Them that has, gets” cycle, where once you have gathered control of resources or means of production, it easier to ensure you continue to control resources and means of production.  And the human capital you have gathered gets locked into being nothing more than human capital, with their efforts going to enrich the guy at the top.

There are reasons for this, of course: the person who has the creativity, vision, and willingness to risk to organize resources and labor to produce a good actually *should* be rewarded for it.  But once it has created the good, the wealth is on rails: the guy at the top continues to gather wealth and continues to control capital, even if he no longer provides value.  And his progeny also continues to control that capital, even though none of the effort or risk was theirs.

Good examples of this:

Jimi Hendrix died decades ago.  His family still controls all copyrights, and there are dozens of rich family members living off of his creativity that have added nothing to human society.

Facebook made it easier for people to regain connections to friends and family with whom they’ve lost touch.  But Faceook mines users for information, sells this information to companies regardless of intent, buys up (and kills) competition, and manipulates users into avenues of thought and tech use that Facebook prefers.

I have a bunch of thought about this, though.

We on the Right talk about capitalism vs socialism, but what we really are talking about is Free Market Capitalism vs Central Control.

The problem with Socialism is not the so-called sharing or the concern for the poor and marginalized.  The problem with Socialism is it is predicated on centralized control.  A handful of people are in charge.  They have to be, in order to decide what each person’s means is to provide supply, and to decide what each person’s need is to determine demand.  There must be a person or mechanism to consider all resources from an external view, and to assign and then distribute.  And since the goal is maximum efficiency, so that all can live equally at the highest level possible, the central decision-making mechanism decides what your work is, how much you will contribute to the effort, when, and how.

There are so many problems with this. It is impossible for a central group of decisionmakers to predict the consumption of a massive group, so there will be shortages.  It is impossible for a central group of decisionmakers to understand the needs and special circumstances of people they don’t know personally, so they will always favor friends and family, and neglect those out of their immediate sphere of awareness. The system will try to reduce choice as much as possible, in order to increase predictability.  Humans will be forced into less and less freedom to make the system work.

All these are obvious.

But the biggest problem, in my opinion, is that it is a system.

Look: Humans are intelligent.  By “intelligent”, we mean that we are able to alter our environment to suit our desires, and able to do it across a spectrum of aspects (in contrast to an anteater, which can use a twig stuck in an ant-tunnel to get more ants to eat).

That has some implications: Humans are evolved to exploit systems. Humans are always trying to maximize their benefit for a minimum of effort.  Even just a minimum of consideration makes it clear how this mindset is a benefit to survival.

Now consider intelligence from the perspective of IQ. My current working theory is that the only people who use systems as intended/designed are those two standard deviations (or maybe more) above and below the norm.  The smart follow systems because they are able to see the benefit to everyone if they follow the system, even if it hurts them, and/or they are able to see the long-term benefit to themselves, even if there is short-term harm. The stupid follow systems because they don’t know any better; they believe the system will work as intended.

But the mushy middle of the biggest bulge in the bell curve: they are smart enough to see the system isn’t working as intended.  But if they try to use the system as intended, they are at a competitive disadvantage with those more intelligent than they are.  So the mediocre are very good at finding the exploits.  Even someone of average intelligence has the ability to game the system to their benefit.  And any system can be exploited.

So for Socialism, it means that once people figure out how much they are getting, they will work less.  No matter how much they work, they are “getting according to their need”, right?  So why work hard?  They see that Bob over there isn’t working hard, but still getting just as much, so why work harder than Bob?  And those with the power to decide where things go: well, it is so tiring and difficult to have the stress of making these decisions.  That extra ration of meat won’t mean anything after it gets divided among 300 people, so might as well keep it, make sure it doesn’t go to waste.  Moreover, look at all these items that are about to be distributed…everyone is going to get one, and they are right here, so why don’t I just pick the one I like before sending it on to the next distribution level?

The Socialist system has no incentives for people to work hard, try hard, delay gratification, care about others, etc.  That’s why only the very smart and the very stupid can really believe in Socialism.

Capitalism *does* have incentives for people to work hard. I mentioned the problem of family members benefiting from the hard work and innovation they didn’t contribute to. I agree with Mr. Shetterly that rich people giving their kids enough wealth they never have to work is a bad thing.  But I accept it as a necessary incentive for the rich people to create the value that got them wealthy.  I agree with Mr. Shetterly that the top 1% having 80% of the wealth is a bad thing.  But I accept it as being an unimportant side note to the most salient issue: do people have enough to live?  And, of course, that any attempt to remedy wealth disparity through force is worse.

The problem with Capitalism is that once you start to gather resources and wealth flows to you, you start to gather power along with it.  Money talks.

We *need* to have government.  Anarchy is horrible for the human condition.  But government produces nothing.  They can only pay themselves what we let them get away with.  But government officials, being human, want to maximize their wealth and comfort while minimizing their effort. And so do the wealthy Capitalists.  And so the government officials and wealthy Capitalists find common cause of exchanging wealth for power, to keep themselves wealthy and powerful.

For those without wealth, that sucks.

The response of the Socialist is to replace it with a “sharing” system.  Except that humans being humans, it would replicate the same “wealth/power/control” that excludes the little guy even more quickly, with no means of redress.  The response of the Anarchist is to smash the system.  Except that humans being humans, it would be replaced by Strong Man Rules, which would be even worse.

No, when the Right talks about the superiority of Capitalism, what we *really* mean is Free Market Capitalism.  In Free Market Capitalism, everyone has choice: to work for others or gather capital, to purchase something, to not purchase something, whom to work for, whom to vote for, where to live, etc.

Free Market Capitalism works because as a Capitalist endeavor grows, it becomes sclerotic. It loses agility by its size.  It often cannot respond to new technological developments because it was organized to work with outdated assumptions.  The best example of this is Blockbuster vs Netflix.  Blockbuster was a giant with rentals from a box store.  When Netflix started up the mail delivery, Blockbuster followed suit and competed for a time…but it was always just to prop up the box stores. It was doomed to fail.  Netflix has transitioned well from video mail delivery to streaming…but has stiff competition from other streaming services, and will probably be vulnerable to challenges from the next, more agile technology.

Where Free Market Capitalism breaks down is when the Capitalists pair with government to make things harder for competition.  Like Mattel pushing for lead paint testing requirements: it *sound* good: “Protect Our Children from Lead!”, but the impact is Mattel can keep testing costs down with economies of scale, and the rule reduces competition from small, upstart rival companies.

I realize there are all sorts of problems with the United States government. I recognize there are all sorts of problems with the Capitalist system as enacted in the United States in specific, and the West in general, to include Westernized economies of Japan, South Korea, and China.

The problem is that we have systems, and humans are biologically programmed to exploit systems, even if it kills the system.  We are natural parasites of any *system*.

But the lack of system is even worse.

What I like about a Free Market Capitalist system is the incentives are best aligned that everyone benefits even when those with power are selfish.  And I like that the Free Market Capitalist system is based on disruption.  With maximum freedom of choice, there will always be A Way To Do Things, and the bulk of companies and individuals can compete to be the best at doing The Way To Do Things…and then 20% of companies and individuals can try to capture market share by Trying Something Different.

In a Free Market Capitalist system, need inspires creativity, creativity results in success, success breeds complacency, complacency causes failure, failure stimulates need, and the cycle goes around again.

Free Market Capitalism *is* a system, yes, but it is a system that doesn’t specify a specific system.  It is a system of disruptive systems, if that makes sense.

Free Market Capitalism always sows the seeds of competition along with the seeds of success.

So when people talk about the failure of Capitalism, the problem is always “non-equitable distributions” or “unearned wealth”.  But when people talk about the failures of other systems, like Socialism, Mercantilism, Protectionism, Fascism, etc, the problems are always “loss of liberty” and “death”.

Each system has its problems, yes, but the problems of Capitalism seem to be much better than the problems of any other system.

So when I see things like this, my thought is always: they are asking the wrong questions, based on the wrong assumptions.

 

I don’t care if 80% of the people in the United States think wealth should be distributed differently. Wealth isn’t distributed.  Wealth is earned by creating value, and as such, cannot be distributed by anyone.

*Money* can be distributed, however.  That’s what they are really saying.

The only thing is, distributing money destroys wealth, because it delivers comfort (shorthand for satisfying needs: food, clean water, clothing, dwelling, information, etc.) to those who didn’t earn it.  Since wealth is money flowing to those who create value, delivering money to those who didn’t create value is the *destruction* of wealth.

That means that, yes, a rich person giving money to his kids is the destruction of wealth; and unless the child learns to create new value, the wealth will disappear.

The main objection is that the children of the wealthy can simply hire someone to manage their money, or a trust fund can be set up.

However, that is still putting money toward the creation of value, so it does still create some level of wealth.  It is unfortunate that the wealthy inheritor isn’t personally risking or creating wealth via the use of their capital, but again: the incentives of this minor exploitation of capital use is *still* better than any of the proposed remedies: government taking money and giving it to others.

With this view and understanding of how the world works, I’m convinced that Capitalism is the best system, but can be improved by adding more and more Free Market principles.  We have a long way to go to improve the US system of government before we worry about improving the free market system: we need to clear Left partisans out of the government bureaucracy at all levels, out of education, out of the news, out of publishing, out of entertainment; we need to restore Rule of Law in the FBI, DoJ, IRS, etc.; we need to end crony capitalism, where the government picks winners and losers; we need to end the common phenomenon of Career Politicians, where so-called public service results in multi-millionaire wealth.

But as we resolve those problems, I think we should look to figuring out incentives that encourage disruption, that encourage competition.  I, and others, have proposed automatic sunset clauses of *all* government laws that require higher percentages of legislative support for each successive renewal.  Maybe we could enact laws that restrict the incorporation of a company to a certain length of time?  Imagine if Disney would have only had a charter for 50 years.  At the end of 50 years, they’d *have* to sell off all their various holdings to someone. Maybe someone would get character rights, someone else would get Disneyland/world rights?  I don’t know.  But it certainly *should* have a better outcome than letting Disney retain copyrights on 80 year old works, along with the cash to purchase ABC, ESPN, etc. That power structure has certainly not benefited the entire populace of US citizenry.

It’s something to consider.