Category: Politics


I was at the St. Charles County caucus held in St. Peters, MO, on Saturday, March 17, 2012, which I now affectionately refer to as “The Raucous Caucus”. I’m not really interested in putting a particular political spin on what occurred. Rather, I’d like to state what occurred as just matters of fact and go over the major points of contention that led to it being brought to a close with no delegates and alternates being designated. So, as much as is possible, I have left out the names of the camps of supporters involved in the events of the Raucous Caucus. Source material and links provided are a different matter: they can and do name names and I didn’t take it upon myself to edit them. Where I do interject my perspective while delineating the points of contention, it’s for the purpose of logically connecting the sequence of events, to provide an explanation for why there appeared to be a conflict on a particular matter or specific event, or to provide a reasonable range of possible objectives or motivations.

So let’s look at the points of contention…

Contention 1: “ 7. No Recording Devices Allowed of Any Type”

For at least three days before the Raucous Caucus on March 17, the St. Charles County Republican Central Committee (www.stcharlesgop.com), the caucus organizers, had posted information about what would and would not be allowed at the caucus and/or required of the caucus-goers. Here’s a screenshot of what was posted:

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Item number 7 in the list was the following:

  1. No Recording Devices Allowed of Any Type

Apparently, this was an item of much concern to some of the caucus-goers as reported in several posts online by those in attendance.

  • St. Charles Caucus HIJACKED – Bryce’s Report
    “Bryan Spencer tried to enforce an arbitrary “house rule” ban on recording devices and eject a caucus body member who refused to stop recording. The caucus body of many hundreds erupted into howls of disapproval for what seemed like an eternity. Spencer dispatched on-site police officers to remove him or arrest him for trespassing.”
  • ‘St. Patrick’s Day Massacre’ Takes Place During GOP Presidential Caucus in St. Charles, Missouri
    “Dokes reiterated the importance of the rules and emphasized the ban on recording devices before pausing to implore a man in the bleachers to turn off his video camera or face arrest.When the man refused to put away his tripod-mounted camera, Dokes asked members of the St. Peters Police Department to arrest the man and escort him out of the building.  That, of course, drew heated objections from members of the crowd — including Ron Paul supporters and others — who seemed to believe transparency should trump rules during the caucus.”
  • Largest MO Caucus Adjourns WITHOUT Conducting Business – No Delegates Selected
    “Standing rules established by the Central Committee included the prohibition of cameras, video or sound recording.  This did not sit well with the caucus goers. One particular individual protested the demand to put away his camera.  Central Committee Chairman, Eugene Dokes refused to gavel the meeting to order until the camera was put away. Caucusgoers sided, quite vocally, with the cameraman!”

The source of this confusion about this rule appears to have been due to a flyer of proposed (not official) caucus rules that were being handed out by a group of supporters for a particular candidate or two.

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Although the point of contention was about recording devices, you may wish to note in these proposed rules that some of them appear to be crafted to benefit certain parties while disenfranchising other parties (3b), to permit “stealth delegates” whom may claim to support one candidate only to go to the later conventions and vote for another candidate (3g), or to change an initial “rule” initiated by the caucus organizers (5).

Let’s look at proposed rule 5 since that seems to be part of where this first point of contention originated:.

  1. Any caucus member or observer may record any proceeding of the caucus in writing, audio recording, or video recording to ensure honesty, transparency, and accountability.

As you can see, this was in direct conflict with the caucus organizer’s “Caucus Information” point number 7 which was in effect automatically from the beginning of the caucus.

Technically speaking, this shouldn’t have been a big deal since, once the temporary chairman of the caucus was able to get to the point in the official agenda where the permanent caucus chairman was seated, proposed rules could have been brought up in relatively short order and the apparently much-hated “No Recording Devices” rule could have been replaced. Alternatively, the ruckus made by some individuals about the ban on recording devices could just as well have been for the purpose of alienating other caucus-goers against the caucus organizers and their rules in order to motivate the caucus to adopt the proposed rules of the parties that had been distributing them.

At the very least, several individuals appeared to be of the impression that the proposed rules that were being circulated were the rules in force at the time at which they were being asked to put away their recording devices. This misunderstanding by several of the caucus-goers seems to have been the source of this initial point of contention.

Contention 2: The Caucus Agenda

In Contention 1 above, mention was made of a set of proposed rules for the caucus that, at a minimum, were being circulated by some caucus-goers, assumed by other caucus-goers as being the official rules of the caucus, and further assumed to be in effect. A similar situation appears to have been occurring with another flyer that was being handed out by the same caucus-goers: “Agenda and Form for Reporting Minutes”.

This handy agenda for the caucus had one problem with it: It wasn’t the official agenda. The caucus organizer had posted a few copies of both the official agenda and a set of proposed rules on the walls where caucus-goers waiting in line to register could see and read them…but no official agenda (nor caucus organizer-proposed rules for that matter) were posted online ahead of the caucus nor provided to the caucus-goers in the form of a flyer at any time. Whether this was by-design or an oversight may be a matter for debate but this is not the point of Contention 2. The point is that there was a “false” agenda circulated as being the official agenda when no official agenda was available other than a few copies hung on the walls. It is hard to see where the purpose of circulating the “false” agenda would have been for any other purpose other than to create confusion and dissent within the caucus but I’m not going to make an assumption of motives on this point at this time. At the very least, the circulation of the “false” agenda could have been a well-intention but misguided action.

With my thanks to the caucus organizers, I have been provided a copy of the official caucus agenda which I am posting here for you to compare against the “false” agenda.

Please feel free to draw your own conclusions about the intentions behind the circulation of a “false” agenda but its presence and the assumption by caucus-goers that it was the official agenda led to confusion.  After the caucus organizer’s temporary chairman started the caucus and proceeded to follow the official agenda, as soon as the official agenda diverged from the “false” agenda, caucus-goers erupted with cries of “Point of Order!” It was at this time that a minority of the caucus-goers refused to quiet down and, due to the ruckus during the time frame in which Contention 1 above occurred, some off-duty law-enforcement officials who were providing security for the event were already present on the floor of the caucus. The yelling, screaming, and chanting continued for several minutes and persisted even when additional on-duty law-enforcement officials were brought in to try and help restore order.

Unfortunately, order was never truly restored beyond this point. My understanding is that law-enforcement recommended to the Central Committee that the event be shut down. What happened next to close down the caucus is an item of much debate but, in my opinion, what seemed to occur is that, under the rancor and chaos of some caucus-goers making it impossible for the rest of the caucus to hear what was being said (even with the help of a public address system), the temporary chairman and a small group of people at the front of the caucus were able to seat a permanent chairman who immediately received a motion for closure, received a quick second of the motion for closure, called for a voice vote on the motion, and reportedly received more “ayes” than “nays” to successfully pass the motion. Due to the overwhelming din in the caucus, this was able to be done quickly before anyone in the rest of the caucus could figure out what was happening. Again, this is a matter of much debate but, from what I’ve been able to find out about how caucuses are run and from Robert’s Rules of Order, this was a possibly crafty but otherwise perfectly legitimate maneuver.

Contention 3: The Rump Caucus

I would not mention this contention except for the fact that much is being said about the rump caucus that a small number of caucus-goers attempted to assemble. (You may see this being referred to elsewhere as a “rum” caucus. The correct term is “rump caucus”.) First off, a rump caucus is a caucus held by a minority of individuals of a larger caucus from which the minority believes they are being unjustly ignored, excluded, or otherwise disenfranchised. These are usually assembled on the certified caucus location and, depending on what the larger caucus is doing at the time, can be used for different purposes. I won’t explain all the possible purposes. Instead, I will focus on what appears to have been the objective of the rump caucus and why it failed to reach its objective.

The objective of the rump caucus that attempted to be convened outside of the facility but on the grounds of the caucus location appears to have been to take advantage of the main caucus’ failure to complete its purpose (i.e., selecting delegates and alternates).  This would have included pushing through the rump caucus’ own agenda, selecting a chairman and other caucus officers, and then selecting and certifying a slate of delegates and alternates. Whether or not a slate certified by a rump caucus would have been able to get delegates and alternates accepted into the future conventions is another matter of debate. The bottom line is that the rump caucus was not able to convene.

When the main caucus was closed, law-enforcement first started to escort caucus-goers from the facility and then attempted to oversee that the grounds were also vacated.  Since the caucus organizers had access to the location only until 1:00 p.m., it is unknown whether the vacating of the grounds was merely law-enforcement’s attempt to ensure that another public disturbance didn’t ensue or that they were asked to do so by the caucus organizers.  Regardless of why they left the grounds, once they complied with law-enforcement’s request, the fact that they separated to go to another location and have a meeting meant that they were no longer a rump caucus.

The concept of a rump caucus is somewhat new to me so I’ll reserve for myself some wiggle room to have missed some key aspects, keep my mind open to learning more about it, and, if necessary, making corrections both in my mind and on this post. However, the video here seems to indicate that my current level of understanding is reasonably accurate.

From 0:30-1:19, you see a guy in a suit vest calling people to convene a caucus.  Then from 2:45-3:00 a man off-camera says “We have to stay here. If we leave, it doesn’t count.” Finally, between 5:45-7:25, Brent Strafford tries to start the rump caucus and is escorted away by police shortly thereafter.

The crowd of would-be rump caucus-goers then relocates as shown in this video…

…where it is stated that the rump caucus (and they do use the term “rump caucus”) will not work because they have changed locations.  Specifically, from 1:40-2:00, you see a guy in an orange shirt with a bullhorn saying that the rump caucus can not be certified because they have moved off of the Missouri GOP-certified caucus location.

Again, it’s unknown how effective a successful rump caucus would have been. At the very least, it would have been used to attempt to lend a degree of credibility to the certified slate, had the rump caucus produced one. More interesting is the fact that the assembly of a rump caucus was a contingency that certain parties had already planned for. This premeditation also seems to lend credibility to the suppositions of some that a minority of caucus-goers intentionally disrupted the caucus once it was determined by this minority group that it could not successfully commandeer the main caucus by other means. The range of possibilities seems to be that this minority group were well-practiced (scripted) or just very knowledgeable of the caucus process. It is apparent that they came modestly prepared (although they weren’t ready with pens and paper to record the attendees of the rump caucus) but, based on the outcome, were either thwarted by bad-luck, by the counter-measures of other parties, or by over-playing their hand or miscalculating the variables. Once again, this is an area in which you will have to draw your own conclusions.

My Conclusions

The contention over the use of recording devices was foolish. Caucus-goers who were even modestly aware of the caucus process would have known that any initial “rules” not directly related to facility-use/limitations could have been countermanded later in the caucus when the official caucus rules would have been proposed, voted on, and ultimately adopted. Those who objected to the initial “no recording devices” limitation were either ignorant or being intentionally disruptive. Furthermore, the St. Charles County Republican Central Committee was upfront about the “rules” and provided sufficient opportunity for caucus-goers to be aware of this ban well before the day of the caucus. I therefore fault the objecting caucus-goers on this point of contention.

The St. Charles County Republican Central Committee seemed to have the caucus reasonably well-organized. At the very least, the lack of an official hand-out of the official caucus agenda to caucus-goers during the entry process, whether intentional or unintentional, left a void that was easily filled…again…either intentionally or unintentionally…by others. This led to further confusion within the caucus so I would fault both the St. Charles County Republican Central Committee that could have prevented the void from existing and the parties that, either intentionally or unintentionally, filled the void with a “false” agenda.

Also necessary for me to mention is the means by which the caucus was brought to closure. Again, I fault both the caucus organizers and the caucus-goers. I fault the caucus organizers for the hasty means of how they accomplished the closure although I temper this criticism due to the need to prevent caucus-goers from being harmed or from harming others. I will also give the caucus organizers credit for closing the caucus without assigning any delegates or alternates at all. Technically-speaking, I believe they could have shoved through a slate just as well as shoving through the motion for closure…but they did not. However, it remains to be seen whether or not St. Charles County will send any delegates at all to the conventions. If they do and depending on how they do so, I reserve the right to change my criticism on this point. As for the fault of the caucus-goers, a small but extremely loud minority created the circumstances in which the agenda could not move (neither forward or backward) with the participation of the entire caucus and provided cover under which the hasty closure was made possible.

Finally, in regard to the rump caucus, I don’t have any non-partisan criticism of it. It was clever, questionable as to its possible effectiveness or usefulness, but ultimately futile. If the removal of the rump caucus from the grounds was done to prevent it from convening successfully, that also would have been a very clever maneuver showing a lot of forsight on the part of the caucus organizers or other parties that utilized law-enforcement for such a theoretical purpose. My opinion, however, is that the prevention of the rump caucus was fortuitous. But I’m not subject to belief in conspiracy theories so I’m just going with my gut on that.

Republic vs. Democracy

A simple explanation of the differences between a Monarchy, Oligarchy, Democracy, Republic, and Anarchy. I’m posting this for my own easy reference in the future but I consider it to be required viewing for anyone wanting to at least make an attempt to have an intelligent conversation about government.

During the Korean War, the northwestern quadrant of North Korea along the southern-most half of the Yalu River was known as MiG Alley to the Air Force pilots that flew during the conflict. It was in this area that most of the encounters between Soviet pilots flying MiGs and U.S. pilots flying F-86s occurred. According to analysts within the Air Force at that time, the MiGs should have come out on top: it could turn quicker, fly higher, and go faster. In reality, it lost 10:1 to the F-86s. By unofficial counts, the score was 792 MiGs shot down compared to 78 F-86s shot down. Many years later, the answer for the unexpected outcomes was provided by an Air Force pilot (Colonel John Richard Boyd) and a civilian mathematician (Thomas Christie) which they called the Energy-Maneuverability (E-M) theory of aerial combat.

The mathematical equation that is the basis for E-M theory is eloquently simple and as follows:

Just to break down the equation for you (because I will be discussing it further in this post), the variables are as follows: Specific Energy (PS), Thrust (T), Drag (D), Weight (W), and Velocity (V).

I was introduced to E-M theory (and other concepts that I may elaborate on at a later date by a long-essay by Daniel Ford that, if I remember correctly, was entitled “Strategic Dimensions of Contemporary Warfare”.1 That essay led me to read a couple other books: Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” and Robert Coram’s “Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War” and a lot of what’s currently bouncing around in my head goes back to these works. But let’s focus on the E-M theory equation for the duration of this post.

What the equation provides is a means to determine the maneuverability characteristics of an aircraft without having to first build and test a prototype or to determine these characteristics for an existing aircraft…such as an enemy aircraft that you may not be able to actually put your hands on. All you have to do is know what the values are for each aircraft, run the equations for different flight conditions (e.g., Drag is affected by altitude due to air density), and then see where the strengths and weaknesses for each aircraft lie.

This explains why the F-86s were so successful against the MiGs during the Korean War. Although the MiG was considered a superior aircraft by the standards of the time, the F-86s characteristics were superior at lower altitudes and slower speeds. (Note: Other factors were involved that are not explained by E-M theory but I may decide to cover those at a later date if I choose to also apply OODA Loops to politics.) One of the strategies successfully leveraged by the F-86 pilots was to lure the MiGs into combat at a lower elevation, use rapid and successive changes in velocity to put the F-86 behind the MiG, and then “hose ’em”. Conversely, it became quickly known to F-86 pilots that high-altitude and high-speed engagements with MiGs were to be avoided. Those that didn’t learn this early didn’t usually survive to learn it later.

So, how does this relate to politics? Simply stated, political organizations are subject to the same variables. Any given organization (and, truly, it doesn’t even need to be a political organization) generates Thrust, works against Drag, has Weight and can move at different Velocities. Putting all of these variables together, a Specific Energy for an organization can be identified and used to explain and predict outcomes for various contests, at various “altitudes”, and utilizing various “maneuvers”.

Within a political engagement between two or more parties, there will be conditions that provide an advantage or disadvantage to one party relative to the other party or parties. Therefore, the key is to know the “maneuverability characteristics” of your party and those of the opposition in order to either coax the opposition to engage you when your advantages are higher than theirs or your disadvantages are lower than theirs. The ideal engagement, naturally, would be when your advantages are highest and the opposition’s disadvantages are highest but ideal engagements are typically going to be rare. Other combinations are also possible, such as engaging when the conditions are disadvantageous for both parties but more disadvantageous for the opposition. But I don’t intend to go into all possible strategic combinations. Instead, I would like to close out this post by going over the variables in the context of politics and then continue in a subsequent post with how they relate to actual and theoretical events within the realm of politics today.

Before I explain the variables involved in this E-M Theory of Politics, please allow me to consolidate terms for the sake of maintaining simplicity and clarity. Rather than having to keep using the terms ‘organizations’, ‘parties’, and ‘politics’, I would like to collectively refer to these as ’causes’ since a ’cause’ is what all of these have in common.

Now, let’s break down the variables so that we can get to the really interesting part of applying the concepts to the world of causes in my next post:

Thrust (T)
Thrust is the force generated to move the cause forward. This force will usually be the people that are positively involved with or inclined toward the cause.

Drag (D)
Drag is the force or resistance opposite to the Thrust that works to slow, stop, or reverse the direction of the cause. Drag can come from just about anywhere but, like Thrust, usually comes from people that, in this case, are negatively involved with or inclined against the cause.

Weight (W)
Weight in terms of an aircraft in flight is the mass of the craft multiplied by the force of gravity and essentially works perpendicular to the direction of motion. For a cause, this comes down to the cost of keeping everyone together in terms of how they are organized and managed.

Velocity (V)
Velocity is the current rate of progress being made toward the objectives of the cause.

Specific Energy (PS)
Specific Energy is a measure of how effective the cause is being at a given moment. In terms of the other variables, it’s the ongoing attainment of objectives based upon positive actions and opinions without being adversely countered by negative ones while maintaining group cohesion.

In my next post (Part Two), we’ll apply this information and see if it can provide both the ability to explain and possibly predict outcomes in the real world of politics.

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1 Mr. Ford has a subsequent work based on his long-essay called “John Boyd vs. al-Qaeda: how a fighter pilot’s ‘OODA Loop’ can help win the war on terror“ that interested parties may wish to check out.

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Previous related post: Asymmetric Politics: Applying Military Doctrine to Political Doctrine

The recent bruhaha around ‘violent’ and ‘vitriolic’ rhetoric being blamed for actual violence set me to thinking about how much politics and warfare share in common. In reality, they’re directly related, with warfare being the outcome of an utter failure in political discourse. The American Revolution, for example, came out of an environment in which political discourse between the Colonies and Great Britain was shut down by the government.

It didn’t happen over night. For over thirty years, the Colonies attempted to engage the existing political structure in order to have their grievances addressed. It was Great Britain, jealous and fearful of the economically growing Colonies, that fired the first shots, both politically and militarily. Even then, the Colonies didn’t immediately rush to take up arms. Several attempts by the Colonies to reconcile with Great Britain were made even after first-blood had been shed by British troops. So, after eight hard-fought years to gain independence, it’s not really surprising that the terminology of warfare was incorporated into the political discourse of America. After all, the freedom to participate in a republican form of government was won at great individual cost of life, health, liberty, and possessions and keeping it requires as much fervor and self-sacrifice today as it did then. The use of military terminology within politics is a homage and reminder of what it cost us to attain this freedom in the first place.

So, after re-contemplating the appropriateness of cross-pollination between warfare and politics, it occurred to me that additional and contemporary interchanges of ideas between military doctrine and political doctrine should be beneficial (cross-hairs be damned). For my part, I intend to post here a series of my thoughts of how military doctrine and concepts may be appropriately (i.e., non-violently) applied to the political struggles of today. In particular, I will be focusing on the concept of Asymmetric Politics.

I don’t have a time frame set for myself in which to complete this but much of this is weighing heavily on my mind and I’d like to lighten the mental load as soon as possible. I have a rough idea of what the next three or four posts will be about but I anticipate that some of it may change as I continue to ruminate on how best to express what’s bouncing around in my head. I hope you’ll check in periodically to contemplate my future contributions. Please stay tuned and be on the lookout for additional posts on the topic of Asymmetric Politics.

Next related post: Asymmetric Politics: E-M Theory (Part One): Key Concepts

I’ve gotten tired of hearing from Progressives, Liberals, and Democrats that healthcare is a right.  It’s not and even the Founding Fathers knew this.  To start with, allow me to provide you with what’s probably the most recent example (as of this post) of a U.S. congressman stating this fallacy:

Dem. Rep.: ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ and 14th amendment

This is a good example because, as one sworn to defend the U.S. Constitution, Representative John Lewis should know what’s in it.

First off, the obvious mistake is that ‘pursuit of Happiness’ isn’t in the U.S. Constitution (USC) …it’s in the Declaration of Independence (DoI).  For those who don’t understand the difference, the DoI declared to England why we were forming our own nation.  The USC is how we set up the government of our own nation.  Second, the 14th Amendment of the USC also doesn’t mention ‘pursuit of Happiness’…it mentions ‘life, liberty, or property’.  Maybe Mr. Lewis was referring to some other part of the 14th Amendment but, if he was, the reason escapes me.  (If you know what he was talking about, please post a Comment below.)

But let’s go with Mr. Lewis’ premise that the Founding Fathers intended the government to provide for the Happiness of the People of the United States.  Is this what they actually intended?  The short answer: NO!  Is there evidence that supports the short answer? YES!  Allow me to provide it.

Let’s look at the origin of the following section of the DoI:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The Founding Fathers thoughts about civil government came from John Locke and this portion is almost directly lifted from John Locke’s “Second Treatise of Civil Government”, specifically from Chapter 2, “Of the State of Nature”, Section 6.  Here’s the relevant portion:

“The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker; all the servants of one sovereign master, sent into the world by his order, and about his business; they are his property, whose workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one another’s pleasure: and being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us, that may authorize us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one another’s uses, as the inferior ranks of creatures are for our’s.” (emphasis is mine)

You should notice two differences between what Locke wrote and what the Founders put into the DoI.  Where Locke says ‘health’, the Founders omit it.  Where Locke says ‘possessions’, the Founders change it to ‘pursuit of Happiness’.  These changes are not accidental.  The change of ‘possessions’ to ‘pursuit of Happiness’ is easy to understand and well-documented in history: the Founders original intent was to eliminate slavery but were unable to form an union and abolish slavery at the same time so, to prevent from establishing a precedent that would result in perpetually institutionalizing slavery, they used ‘pursuit of Happiness’ instead of ‘possessions’.  The logic is simple: slaves were property and any attempts to free the slaves would have lead to cries that ‘life, liberty, or possessions’ was being infringed upon without due process.  The conscious decision to make this distinction is further emphasized and validated by the 14th Amendment where the subsequent guardians of the USC now use the phrase ‘life, liberty, or property’.  Since the 13th Amendment had, at long last,  put an end to slavery, humans could not be considered to be ‘property’ and so usage of that word could be used.

(But the abolitionist bias of the majority of the Founders is not my topic here.  Maybe I’ll address this at a later date but let me move on for now.)

So why was ‘health’ omitted?  Since the Founders obviously drew upon the work of Locke, it’s omission cannot be an accident.  Locke’s work here is specifically talking about the individual state of man and man’s responsibility to not harm the life, health, liberty, or possessions of another man.  The Founding Fathers, in the DoI, state that the unalienable rights they listed…’life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness’…are to be secured by governments “instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”.

Two points here:
First, ‘secured’ is not the same as ‘granted’, ‘given’, or ‘provided’.  It is the carving out of a space in which man can exercise his rights.  Inside of this carved out space of security, the government is not permitted to interfere.

Second, the ‘health’ of an individual is the responsibility of the individual and cannot be delegated to a third party.  Some might argue that ‘pursuit of Happiness’ covers both ‘health’ and ‘possessions’ but they would be making a faulty argument because an individual cannot give his ‘health’ to another.  I can surrender my ‘life’ to someone else.  I can surrender my ‘liberty’ to someone else.  I can even surrender my ‘pursuit of Happiness’ to someone else.  But the one thing I can’t surrender to someone else is my ‘health’.  And even if someone still wants to make the argument that it’s covered by ‘pursuit of Happiness’, allow me to point out that it is the ‘PURSUIT of Happiness’.  As a pursuit, I can strive for Happiness but I will have to individually achieve it and therefore the government cannot be infringed upon to attempt to provide it for me.

In summary, the Founding Fathers understood that our rights were unalienable and could not be taken from us except by force since no man would willingly give them up, except in a possible unretractable instance of self-sacrifice (i.e., the pursuit of Happiness in the form of a sacrifice).  They were aware of Locke’s work and that he understood that health was an intrinsic part of man for which he was individually responsible.  Furthermore, in regard to health being an intrinsic part of man, no man should cause harm to the health of another but simultaneously recognized that an individual’s health was not a right that man could ascribe to government or anyone else because, again, health is intrinsic to the individual.  For these reasons, and many more that I could delve into, health is not a right that can be secured by governments for the individual (i.e., healthcare as a right) .  Therefore, healthcare is not a right and attempts by governments to provide it through regulation and/or mandates is actually an infringement upon individual rights, especially in the form of universal healthcare.

Speak Up or Shut Up

This article from Simon Jenkins (“Free speech can’t exist unchained. US politics needs the tonic of order“) was gnawing at the edges of my psyche most of the day on Sunday.  The article isn’t profound or eloquent.  In a word, it’s “crap”.  But it’s not the ‘quality’ that was gnawing at me, it was that it was so apparently “crap”.  Allow me to destroy it with a simple equation:

Chained speech <> Free speech

That’s it.  That’s all it takes.  Thanks, Simon, for putting the bleeding obvious counter argument to your article in the title.  And, in the event that it was The Guardian that decided on the title, then I give my thanks to you too, Guardian.

Now, let’s get down to what the Guardian article is really about.  Thanks to Andrew Klavan’s latest “Klavan On The Culture”, he’s explained it concisely in the following video so that I don’t have to:

Thanks, Andrew. To everyone else, here’s the take-away: Speak up or shut up. Actually, make that: Speak up or you WILL BE shut up.

The MO Colossus

Not like the brazen machine of Chicago fame,
With conquering laws astride from boundary to boundary;
Here at our river-crossed, westerward gate shall stand
A mighty state with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MO of Ex-IL-es. From her beacon-hand
Glows nation-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The river-bridged land that two cities frame.
“Keep, Progressive lands, your gangster pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your energetic, your wealthy,
Your middle classes yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your oppressive Lakeshore.
Send these, the employers, taxation-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the gateway door!”

(inspired by this article and the original poem “The New Colossus”)

Take a look at this picture and tell me what you see:

Is it something good?  Is it evil?  Neither? What does it mean?

Well, maybe it will help if we take a look at the bigger picture:

Did the bigger picture change your perspective?  If it didn’t, maybe a little more information about that symbol will prove enlightening.  As you’ll see, the mental associations that people ascribe to the symbol has changed through the course of history but, for most of that course, the associated meaning was pretty benign.

So, what is the meaning of the symbol?  That’s up to you..it’s just a symbol.

symbol
–noun

  1. something used for or regarded as representing something else; a material object representing something, often something immaterial; emblem, token, or sign.
  2. a letter, figure, or other character or mark or a combination of letters or the like used to designate something: the algebraic symbol x; the chemical symbol Au.
  3. a word, phrase, image, or the like having a complex of associated meanings and perceived as having inherent value separable from that which is symbolized, as being part of that which is symbolized, and as performing its normal function of standing for or representing that which is symbolized: usually conceived as deriving its meaning chiefly from the structure in which it appears, and generally distinguished from a sign.

Depending on your experience and frame of reference, the meaning you assign to the symbol may be (and probably is) different than someone else’s.  Is one meaning better or worst than another?  Not really…it just depends on how you act upon the meaning that you ascribe to it.  And that’s the key: it’s not the symbol, it’s how a person individually acts upon it.

One of the strengths of the human mind is it’s ability to create and synthesize symbols.  Even if we don’t consciously realize it, most of our thoughts consist of a series of symbols.  Symbology is highly efficient…a mental short-hand of complex thoughts and reasoning that, rather than having to reprocess and combine several complex thoughts in order to make decisions, allow us to take two or more symbols, combine them, and create new, more complex thoughts that may then be mentally retained within another symbol.

But this symbolic nature of the human mind is also a weakness.  Namely, the assigning of an imprecise meaning to a symbol (i.e., a wrong or imperfect conclusion) means that we need to periodically re-examine our conclusions/symbols and improve upon them if necessary.  Unfortunately, most people seldom (if ever) re-examine their symbols and, when precision of their symbol is challenged, can become quite irate.  Just look for the person in a discussion that suddenly jumps off the point, especially if they start making appeals to emotion.  That’s a big tell that the person’s symbol has proven to them to be imprecise…and the more emotionally charged they are about it, the bigger the degree of imprecision you’ve probably exposed.  Conversely, a person who can have their symbols challenged and precisely define their symbols is a person worth listening to.  You may not agree with them but they’re probably further along on the road to self-actualization and should be able to at least hold a decent and civilized conversation (a rare trait, indeed).

So, now, let’s make a jump and apply this information.

What do you think or feel about this symbol?

Is it something good?  Is it evil?  Neither? What does it mean?

I’ll let you decide.  As for me, I think I’ll judge a person who ascribes to it based upon their individual actions.  So far, I’m not liking much of what I see being done under this banner but I don’t blame the symbol.  I don’t condemn the artist that created it.  And I don’t prejudge a person for using it.  It’s just a symbol.

Here come the ghouls

Apparently the Westboro (NOT) Baptist Church intends to picket the funeral of Christina Taylor Greene, the 9-year old victim of the AZ shooter.  To anyone that cares to counter-protest, please do so…PEACEFULLY.  These ghouls are cowards (they’ve shown up in my neck of the woods a few times) and are just after another fix of 15-minutes-of-fame.  It goes without saying but I’m saying it anyway: Respect Christina and the other victims and keep the peace.

Sources:

(h/t Asia “Diesel Lady” Reeves)

 

My prior post (“Cross-hairs, targets, and surveyor symbols…”) has generated a bit of interest.  I originally started composing that post on my Facebook account and parts of it got picked up by Dana Loesch and pushed up to Big Journalism.  (That was cool!)

Blogging for me is just a way to let me record thoughts that I suspect I may want to refer to in future conversations because I dislike repeating myself.  It’s easier to throw a link at someone and let them read what I’ve written previously.  Regardless, I don’t expect my posts to go anywhere but I’m amused that this one did because many people have fallen into a logic trap in it.  And I REALLY love it when that happens…especially when they trap up the faux-intellectual like this one did.  This trap wasn’t intentionally set…this time…but originated from my desire to keep the post brief.

Here’s the trap: Cross-hairs are a component of surveyor symbols.  Now that the trap has been set…albeit, unintentionally…let’s spring it.

What this all comes down to may be summed up in a phrase that faux-intellectuals like to quote frequently: “Correlation does not imply Causation”.  You see, it’s a matter of which came first: cross-hairs in surveying or cross-hairs on weapons?

Surveying has been around since at least as long as recorded history…more than 5,000 years…and cross-hairs (more precisely, Reticles) have been used in surveying for some time as well.  I believe the origin of Reticles comes from an instrument known as a Theodolite, which itself dates back to at least A.D. 1512.  The Theodolite itself owes it’s existence to instruments such as the Astrolabe (150 B.C.).  So, when were Reticles first used on firearms?  That would be sometime between 1835 and 1840 when the telescopic sight (a.k.a., Scope) was invented for the rifle.

So what we have here is an instance of cross-application of technology.  Cross-hairs are not violent, they’re just cross-hairs.  So where does this association with cross-hairs and violence come from?  Well, let’s look to Hollywood where the use of a view through a scope has been used as a dramatic device for some time.  The leap from cinematic device to symbol of violence, however, exists only in the mind of the individual.  History doesn’t make that connection.

So what’s the bottom-line here?  The bottom-line is that how a person reacts to a symbol is a view into the mind of the person and not a commentary on the value of the symbol, nor the use of the symbol, nor on the state of mind of the person who utilizes the symbol.  If you look upon a symbol and see violence, then the violence is in your mind…not in the symbol or the person who used it.  This is a Rorschach Test and a lot of people failed it.

**UPDATE**  Oh, and for those who still disagree, please uninstall any graphics programs you may have on your computer, such as Paint.  Scary cross-hairs are frequently used for things such as the Select tool.