The Madame has spoken; or, More underwhelming response to the Islamic Menace

Last night after first hearing of the attack in London I had to record something. I had been working outdoors for most of the day and had just settled in with some tea and switched on the television in the vain hope that there might actually be something worth watching. The moment the screen came to life I saw flashing lights, heard English voices and read the banner posted at the bottom of the screen: three terror incidents in London. The very first thought that sprung into my head was ” Son-of-a-bitch! Those fuckers are at it again!” As I felt my blood pressure and body temperature rise I changed channels to BBC World to learn more.

As with most of these incidents the first hours are spent by reporters and commentators tripping over themselves to find how many ways they can say the same thing for 120 minutes or more without saying it the same way twice. As usual they failed in the attempt. Dismally. In the course of this I did happen to hear the release of the Prime Minister’s prompt response and that just sent me over the edge. She obviously saw the need to issue some statement to address the event and quickly. Yet even in the haste to do so she saw fit to temper her response by qualifying it as a potential terrorist incident. God forbid that we should somehow offend any of our muslim neighbors. From this I managed to choke out a brief post in response. At the time I was already thinking that I would be writing a “part II” of my posting from two weeks prior, After Manchester:Have you had enough now?

 

To avoid falling into the same trap as the journalists on scene last night I will not attempt to find new ways to say what has already been said. When one is angry, and indeed I was last night, it is always better to sleep on it and then sort out what you want to say. Words uttered in anger, like decisions made in haste, are usually regrettable. After having taken sufficient rest and waking at my normal hour, 4:30, I spent some time in the cool silence of that precious pre-dawn hour, sipping coffee and listening to the birds. Self administered therapy. Only after this did I check the television to find what new revelations we might have. I did not have long to wait before the cameras panned to 10 Downing and the crawl at the bottom of the screen announced ” awaiting Prime Minister May’s statement at 10:30″. I sat attentively through this brief address and will work from there.

 

To begin I’d like to make one overall observation.  I stated above that words uttered in anger often prove regrettable. When one is in a position of leadership it is often necessary to speak in response to a crisis. When leaders are human they will no doubt feel anger, or fear, anxiety, whichever emotion is typically evoked by the form of the crisis. While it is important that their address does not speak solely from that emotion it is still warranted to allow at least some of it bleed into the tone of the address. In what was unmistakably an Islamic terror attack it would have been fine to simply call it what it was, not qualify it as being a potential terror incident.  After a night to formulate a more thorough response the Prime Minister issued a statement this morning that says all the right things, but I can tell you this is not what the jihadists are hearing. All they are hearing is weakness.

 

The jihadists spent last night watching and listening to the aftermath and are reveling in yet another successful blow struck against the infidel. The have managed to kill and maim some dozens of westerners in a public place with a very high profile. Their actions have attracted scores of television cameras from networks across the globe to broadcast the turmoil left in their wake, showing the shocked and confused expressions on our faces and the images of their blessed martyrs dead on the pavement. And the icing on this cake was to hear the leader of the nation acknowledging the attack while still cautious to state only that it was a potential terror incident. To the jihadi’s way of thinking this translates something like Gary Cooper as the Sheriff in a classic western arriving at the scene of a shootout after it has happened. Even without having witnessed it happening it is painfully obvious what has occurred. Then the Sheriff doesn’t draw, just places his hand at his holster and says to the gunmen ” It’s possible that you fellas may be responsible for these killings, but I’m not certain of it, so even though I possess the means to shoot you all full of holes I’m going to give you a warning first. Then I’ll go back to the jail, sleep on it, and when I come back here in the morning I will give you one very stern talking to!” These jackals are laughing at us.

 

The Prime Minister stated that Britain is experiencing a new trend of brutal terror.  I beg your pardon, Madame Prime Minister, can you explain to all of us what is new about it? Are these attacks in some way more brutal than previous attacks? We’d just like to be very clear on exactly what you are saying.

 

The Prime Minister said the suspects wore fake suicide vests to spread panic and fear. So you’re telling us that you understand what this enemy means to do, you are apparently clear on this, yet you still seem reluctant to simply and without any hesitation call it what it is.  Madame Prime Minister I would submit that if you are sending mixed signals to your own public perhaps you should be giving a bit more thought to how you are being perceived by the enemy.

 

She also said ” We can not and must not pretend that things can continue as they are.” Well I must say I agree. This statement demonstrates nothing more than a profound grasp of the obvious. Please correct me if I should have this wrong, but didn’t you say essentially the same thing two weeks ago after the Manchester bombing? The threat level was elevated to critical following that incident, which in view of this latest attack coming so close on the heels of the last gives one cause to wonder. Exactly what additional measures are triggered when that threat level is designated critical? Apparently these were sorely inadequate.

 

Madame Prime Minister when you tell us that things need to change and “in four important ways” you are inspiring…. well, wait. Perhaps that’s a poor choice of words. You are laying out the basic framework for your plan of action.  So for a new trend in brutal terror we will respond with? It’s a bit unclear. It would seem that there is really nothing new in your plan. I’m not fool enough to expect that you would provide operational specifics. Nor would I want you to.  But to speak frankly what you have said this morning smacks of nothing more than a subtle repackaging of the last plan.

 

I understand that the security and intelligence community do not have the luxury of trumpeting their successes. Orwell, as he did on so many other matters, summed this up quite succinctly: “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf”. This morning the Prime Minister informed us that these services have succeeded in thwarting 5 organized attacks this year. Thank you to the men and women of these services for the ugly and thankless tasks that you perform on our behalf. The Prime Minister also stated ” Our country has made significant progress in disrupting plots and protecting the public.” Really? Can you look into the eyes of the parents of those girls slain in Manchester and say this without blinking? I’d love to see you try.

 

There was another disturbing reference in the Prime Minister’s address. In speaking to combatting terrorism at home she used the term ” …having, frankly, embarrassing conversations”. Embarrassing for who exactly? The implication here is equal to the use of the term “potential” terror incident. It suggests that we should feel embarrassment when we do what the government clearly has not, which is to confront the threat head on. If you are a muslim living in a western nation you are the ones who should be feeling embarrassment (and shame) when the subject is raised.  We have nothing to be embarrassed for. They are attacking us, not the other way around. I have to give the old gal her chops, she is trying to move things in the right direction, at least by what she says. Yet still it is remarks such as these that show she is still unwilling to entirely abandon the politically correct script.

 

So let me see if I have this correct, then. We have stiffer penalties for terror offenses. Okay, that’s good. Its still only a reaction, but it cant hurt. Might I suggest public execution? Just a thought….

 

Then we have less tolerance of extremism. Wasn’t that a part of the last plan? And here is something else to weigh when we consider this. How can you say that significant progress has been made in disrupting plots and protecting the public while at the same time seem to suggest that we’ve been too tolerant of extremism. These two ideas do not seem compatible. I don’t believe that it is we, the people, who have been too tolerant of extremism. I believe it is you, the government, who have been too tolerant of extremism. The first duty of any republic should be to provide for the defense and security of its’s people. Instead you have busied yourselves with transgender rights, speech codes and climate accords. I am fairly certain that none of these were included in the contract.

 

Now this next one I think may be the most disturbing: holding the internet companies to account.  This can be a slippery slope.  It would be one thing if the government were to act in a manner which would compel these providers to be self policing with content and to provide open access to security agencies to those accounts with the type of content that we are concerned with.  That plan has some inherent trap doors in it, but with a very clear set of guidelines and stringent monitoring it could be a valuable tool . Now as I understand it British intelligence services already operate in ways that have less restriction than their American counterparts, but this vague and generalized bullet point from a ten minute address has a ring of unsettling familiarity. It brings to mind two creations resulting from the 9/11 attacks, each of which were intended to demonstrate publicly that the government was taking proactive steps, but which are both insidious and intrusive measures that do more to inconvenience a free people. These are the patriot act and the TSA. Both of these are wide nets. They may lend the appearance of security, but that is all they are. Window dressing. It’s the use of a shotgun where the sniper rifle is warranted instead. To paraphrase the President: surveil the shit out of ’em! Just leave the rest of us alone.

 

The final point of this plan is a shifting, amorphous ectoplasm of winning hearts and minds, defeating ideology and reinforcing British values. A bit squishy, that one, but I’ll try to pin it down. The best place to begin reinforcing British values is in immigration and refugee policy. Don’t shut the door gently on people from the Islamic world. Slam it in their faces. Second, still related to immigration policy, don’t make the mistake that the French have made and continue to make. Instead of no tolerance for extremism what about no tolerance for non-assimilation? You either want to be a part of this society or you don’t. This is our home, you come here as a guest. If you will not respect and observe our customs then right over there is the door. Don’t let it hit you in the ass on your way out. And to all of those who will stand on the sidelines and shout “Racist!” here is a suggestion for you. If you don’t have any more respect for your fellow citizens than this perhaps you should consider catching the next plane, train or ship heading out. I’m confident you will find your tolerant, enlightened and welcoming utopia on some other shores. Of course if that were true we are left to wonder this: Why does everyone want to come to our country?

 

So! Now that the jihadis have been placed on notice that there is going to be a new set of rules this must be the beginning of the end for them, right? I’m feeling more confident now. Aren’t you?

 

 

 

Now its London. I’ll ask again: NOW have you had enough?

It seems as though it was only a few days ago that I was writing in response to the Manchester bomber.  We now witness another clearly coordinated attack on innocents in London. The Metro Police have reacted quickly as we all would expect. This evening, besides the event itself, there are two things that should be concerning to Britons and all of us in the west.

First it is the fact that we are still RE-acting. Police are reacting. This is still being treated as a law enforcement matter. Do not get me wrong. I am glad that Metro is there. These are the things that the police should be for, not issuing traffic tickets. As I asked following the Manchester attack I must ask again: When will it be enough? How many more attacks do our citizens endure before we start treating this as what it is? These people ARE AT WAR WITH US. When do we go on offense? This will not end until we do.

The other concern this evening is that I hear the Prime Minister issued a prompt statement wherein she stated that they are “treating this as a POTENTIAL terrorist attack”. NO! Ya think?!

Potential? Madame Prime Minister just who is it that you are concerned about? Are you concerned about your own people, or are you more concerned that you might piss off a few muslims? Potential my ass!

More on this tomorrow morning.

Accorde Paris Adieu…

Hunter S. Thompson’s famed alter ego, the great Gonzo, once spoke wistfully of his equally renowned attorney, Laszlo: ” Laszlo? He is gone. He will be missed. Not by me, but….” I must admit to sharing much of the same sentiment in the wake of the President’s announcement this week that the US would be exiting the Paris Climate Accord. The wailing and gnashing of teeth which has followed this announcement is as spectacular in scale as it is hyperbolic in tone. Why if NASA had announced the discovery of a giant asteroid in an unalterable collision course with the planet that would still have to compete for a place on the front page. For the many who seem to be at worst horrified, or at the least deeply saddened, I do not count myself in their numbers. It will be missed, but not by me.

In spite of the voluminous reports to the contrary I suspect that in the country as a whole there are more in my column with this topic. Some of these are people who are able to approach the question rationally and thus conclude that the argument for climate change as presented simply does not measure up to sound science. There are others who without making a thorough examination of data merely discount the whole idea for no other reason than an inherently skeptical nature. And, lest we forget, there are undoubtedly those who just don’t give a shit. On an emotional level I would have to identify as being in that third category. On an intellectual level I find myself in equal measure of the first two.

In weighing any issue it is first important to call something what it is, otherwise there is no prayer of having all reading off the same script. If the definitions are not agreed upon all the debate in the world is utterly futile and this is where our problems begin.  Twenty years ago the term was “global warming”.  Implied in this by those carrying the banner was that the term referred to global warming as the product of human activity.  As years passed and data was compiled which would clearly contradict the warming trend the label was altered to “climate change”. As before the implication remained that this was a result of human activity. So in either case one is presented with terms that say one thing, but are intended to imply something beyond what is on it’s face. Regardless the words used to define the issue let us just say for argument’s sake that the concern underlying what is expressed is the human impact upon long term climatology. This is in fact what is being asserted by the leaders of this “movement”. Just consider, as another example, the “health care” debate. In that instance the real subject is not health care, rather health insurance.

The Paris Climate Accord defines the problem using the term climate change, so as a matter of simplification we shall stick with this term for discussion. Ostensibly this accord proposes a set of actions and policies to be implemented by the signatories for the purpose of curbing those human activities which have been deemed detrimental to the long range trends of the mean global temperature. For the purpose of quantification the benchmark has been set to contain the rise of that mean temperature to no more than 2 degrees fahrenheit by the end of this century. This is a convenient set of parameters as statistically speaking the vast majority of those alive today will not be around at the end of the term to see whether or not, A) that the goal has been met, or B) that the proposed climate models were in any way correct. More importantly those responsible for establishing the plan will not be around to defend the results whether they be good, bad or indifferent.

Another important factor in weighing a question is to gather data from multiple sources. Our liberal friends are constantly reminding us that diversity it critical. Following their logic one might be safe in assuming that this same principle will apply in data collection. Aside from this it is a practice that is essential to proper scientific method. While science is to be blind, impartial to any considerations other than raw data, reality does require one additional element. One has to consider the source.  This is especially true in this case as it seems that many carrying the banners and sounding the horns are not scientists, rather they are politicians, celebrities and other curious varieties of public figures. To be fair I realize that these are only the mouthpieces, not those actually conducting the science, but these people do like to cite “the science” and the “consensus of scientists”.  So then we must ask ourselves who are these scientists?

The scientists most often cited as the source affirming the climate-change-by-man credo are climatologists.  On it’s face the label seems clear enough, doesn’t it? A climatologist is someone who studies climate.  Well, that much is true. If one cares to, and indeed I am one who does, burrow down deeper into what a climatologist is this is best explained in this way. A climatologist is a meteorologist with either two or four additional years of post graduate work in their field. Or not. A meteorologist who has been visible on a major network, whatever other credentials they may possess, is regarded among those to adhere to the premise of climate change (the movement, not the phenomenon) as a credible source to affirm their belief. Into this mix one can also count the avuncular and beloved “Bill Nye the Science Guy”.  William is photogenic, more or less, possesses an engaging personality on camera, and I will admit does seem to be rather knowledgeable in science in a general sense.  This does not, however, automatically make him an accredited authority in the study of climate. There are numerous scientists who reside within the academic community who are recognized as authorities in this field. Many hold titles in prestigious institutions where they are ostensibly professors. The TA’s of course perform this less dignified task; their primary role is to conduct research. Theirs is the realm of theory. Now theory in and of itself is not a bad thing, per se, I don’t wish to imply that it is. Theories are formed based on a set of observations and are designed to be then tested in practice.

There are a couple of problems I see with these sources. The research scientist with tenure at a major university, aside from the pure science, performs another important function. Universities don’t bring these people on board their faculty so they can fuel the research out of their own coffers.  These scientists are brought on board so that their credentials lend feasibility to the endowment of grants, many of which come from government. If you think that there are no politics involved when obtaining one of these grants then you are sorely mistaken my friend. This is where politics only begins to be injected into this equation. It sets the stage for circumstances often found, for right or wrong, in many crime investigations. A detective or set of detectives may have for whatever reason formed a working theory of what may have occurred.  When this happens there is the tendency not to follow facts where they may lead, instead seeking evidence or facts that will fit the theory at the exclusion of anything which may contradict that theory. Although this may not be proper procedure a detective’s experience and prior knowledge of the parties involved may well provide a sufficient intuition for pursuing a theory which does ultimately lead to justice being rendered. In these cases this behavior may be forgiven. Not so with science. Science is not about intuition or consensus. There is no reason not to think that this has occurred in this particular science. In fact there is some rather high profile evidence of the deliberate falsification of data to fit the theory from no less than a former Fellow of East Anglia University who had been on the inside of an “official study” of climate change.

The other problem that I have with these sources comes from where common sense beckons. If a goodly number of climatologists are an advanced form of meteorologist then logic would dictate that one look at prior performance.  Meteorologists that we see on television are always needing to qualify those occasions when they’ve gotten it wrong by explaining that it is not an exact science. I’ve always been mildly humored by the forecast of a 20% or 40%, or any % chance of rain. Or snow. To my way of thinking it’s 50%: it is going to rain, or it isn’t.  But I understand that it is not as simple as that. A percentage of a chance of one weather phenomenon or another is built upon models, based on probabilities. They are at best an informed guess. This is not meant as a criticism with which to tar the entire profession. It is just a simple fact. They can forecast probabilities, but at the end of the day they can only work with what nature gives us. My point here is just to cast a justified level of skepticism to the accuracy of weather or climate forecasting.  We are talking about a science that has in most cases only a little better than 50% accuracy rate in forecasting what the weather will bring for the next 5 days. Never mind 5 years, or as is the case with the climate change commandos 50 or 100 years.  Questioning the validity of this science as it is repeatedly shoved down our throats is not “climate change denial”. It is an entirely reasonable question to ask if we want to stake so much upon policies which are rooted in nothing more than models that may have no better than a 50% chance of being correct. It’s like playing Russian Roulette with 3 of the 6 chambers filled. Who would do that?

It is utterly ridiculous and dishonest to brand someone as a climate change “denier” because they don’t automatically subscribe to your pet theory. I don’t deny climate change, I simply dispute your version of it. There is climate change. There always has been and there always will be. The last truly momentous climate change occurred with the end of the last Ice Age, which I would point out there is ample science to prove that this occurred over tens of thousands of years. Climate will change and there is not one damned thing we can do about it.  The entire premise is deeply flawed. Climate is changing because of human activity; ergo, reducing or eliminating the activity will change the climate in the other direction or halt the climate’s move in it’s current direction. If there is any denial happening it is a denial of reality on the part of the climate change argument.

Denial is a hallmark of liberal or progressive thought.  Socialism doesn’t work because it denies human nature.  Inserting political correctness into the daily interactions between the sexes does not work because it denies human nature.  Prohibitions do not work because they deny human nature. Progressives deny God, or as I like to think of it Nature, because it presumes an authority greater than their own. They don’t want to eliminate God; they want to be God. Their tireless efforts to convince all of humanity that we are on the course of climate catastrophe if we do not follow their way is one of the greatest proofs that they want to be God. It’s not enough for them to deny human nature. Now they just want to deny Nature period. We can have endless debate about God, the nature of God or the wrath of God. Our history shows that we will never agree, but as to the wrath of nature? There is no denying that. You don’t have to like it, I’m sure that most of us don’t, but that does not change the facts. Nature will do as it sees fit whether we are here or not.

So farewell Paris Climate Accords! You will be missed, but not by me.

In sympathy of pre-election blues

My young friend at A Paradoxical Millennial has graced us once again with his analysis of British electoral politics. Yesterday he posted Pre-Election blues; or, something of a rant 

http://aparadoxicalmillennial.com/2017/06/01/pre-election-blues-or-something-of-a-rant/

After having read his thoughts I did post a comment with a promise of some further elaboration, which follows here.

APM has expressed a lament which has become increasingly common in the western democracies of late, that being the poor choices which major political parties have foisted upon us all at the ballot box. This is by no means a new phenomenon, though it has certainly been voiced by more and more of the electorate as we traipse gingerly into the 21st century. APM, a self identified millennial, is a member in good standing of that club who are a rather large factor in a rising chorus of disenchantment with the state of our political processes.  It is a product of the expanding and rapidly accelerating information age in which they have clawed their way to adulthood.

Throughout much of our modern history information has been controlled, filtered through select mediums to present a particular tone to the public narrative. Fifty years ago the average voter was informed by what version of events were reported through the existing media infrastructure: the major broadcast networks, news publications such as The Times, The Washington Post, etc. Reporters and editors selected what was to be reported and how, and perhaps more importantly what was not to be reported. Outside of their sphere, in the reality where the proverbial rubber meets the road, the latter of these are what are correctly identified as “lies of omission”. The late Marshall McLuhan exposed this rather widely. Many among us are familiar with McLuhan’s famous quote “The medium is the message”. Others may not be aware of another of McLuhan’s gems, “A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding.”

For decades a narrative was formed by this elite class of our media. This narrative, by virtue of nothing more than it’s source, was regarded in most circles of society as the gospel truth. As an institution they were empowered to see to it that the public would all read from the same script. This “fifth estate” was part of a three legged stool of media, academia and government. As with any three legged stool each of the legs were essential to keeping it upright. Take away any of the three and the stool will teeter over onto the floor. The information age has steadily eroded this formula. The millennials have grown up in and are now an integral part of a population that finds itself beset with as many sources of information as the ether can hold. There are still filters, but these are no longer all connected to the same guiding hands.

From my own historical perspective this is both good and bad.  It is good in the sense that it creates a set of conditions which allow for a legitimate and potent challenge to the universal narrative. It is at the same time bad in that it invites that circumstance which McLuhan warned of: point of view substituted for insight and understanding..  With so many sources, each which may carry the taint of a bias, it becomes more of a challenge to the consumer of information to separate the facts from fiction. What should be remembered in order to hold this in it’s proper perspective is that McLuhan warned of this danger before, not after the advent of the information age. Although it may not have been his intent he had rightly identified that the media, as defined in his age, was guilty of making their point of view a point of fact. Even as we have transcended the prior order of our media sources the traditional media establishment still engages in the same old set of rules. They refuse to accept that the once exclusive control that they exercised over “messaging” is being steadily wrested from their grasp. One can often hear them publicly expressing their resentment at this in overt terms and even more often observed in their increasing departure from even the pretense of objectivity. Out of this is born a new mantra: fake news!

The major networks and the major political parties of both the UK and the US rely upon the upper tiers of academia to serve as the farm club system to keep their rosters filled. Whether it is BBC or ITV, NBC, CBS or CNN, Labour or Tory, Republican or Democrat, they all bathe in and emerge from the same filth. These form a sub-society, segregated from society at large, who all drink the same purple kool-aid from the same font. Their cult has created an orthodoxy to which all members must pledge their unadulterated allegiance above all else. Anything less makes them instantaneous candidates for expulsion from the club. There is to be but one truth: their truth, and no other may challenge it. Academia, the media and government are merely the institutions. The establishment are those inhabiting these institutions and it is growing increasingly evident to the public that they do not mean to relinquish their hold upon these any time soon.

APM observes that the Labour Party continues to spout the same nonsensical gibberish that led to the winter of discontent which punctuated their dismal rule in the seventies. They’ve nothing new to offer. The same can be stated for the Democrats here in the US. Their rhetoric has been virtually unchanged for the past fifty years. Both continue to mouth the same tired platitudes while inching ever closer to the end of their limb. They are not climbing higher up the tree; merely reaching for the next skinny branch that isn’t there before they ultimately plummet. Everyone on the ground can see this and some have even tried to warn of their peril. It is not that they can’t hear the warnings, they simply refuse to heed them. And indeed, why should they? They’ve no reason to think that they should try anything different. They seem to have their constituencies locked up and as long as these continue to greedily parade to the trough to accept what they are being fed there really is no incentive for change, is there? That’s a more polite way of saying , ” Idiots! You all get what you deserve!”

On the other side of this coin one finds the Tories and the Republicans, who also seem to refuse to believe what they are being told and what their eyes should plainly see. Like the liberals they continue to cater to the disparate groups which comprise a coalition of their base constituency. Though not uttered in so many words their actions have consistently demonstrated that they also worship at the altar of “big government”, the only distinction being that their version of big government is better. In the financial crisis of 2008 the phrase “too big to fail” was coined. I think this missed the mark, it is rather “too big to succeed”. There is a common theme present in the platform of either: Vote for us because we’re better than the other guys.  In fact it’s not even a “vote for us”. Both sides make the appeal that one must vote against the alternative.

We have not been presented with the choice of casting an affirmative ballot for quite some time. Our choices have been restricted to only exercising a vote against one side or the other.  Whether we are talking about Brexit or the election of Trump, for as much of an upset of the status quo as either may be, I do not believe that these represent an affirmative vote at all. For all of the talk attributing these to populism, nativism, bigotry or any other condemnation from the establishment these electoral shifts represent none of these. In both instances these translate as still being a vote against the alternatives. It is a declaration of “A pox on both your houses!”

It remains to be seen if Trump will truly be the change agent that he has promised. In Theresa May I fear that my English cousins are not being offered a change agent. Instead it is a choice to elect more of the same, just so long as it isn’t Labour! In both cases I suspect that their elections will result not in something significantly better, rather they are options that will be “less bad”. It’s a bit like being wheeled into surgery and being told just before the anaesthetic ” We’re going to be removing your left leg today “, and upon waking discovering that they had only removed your left foot. You still won’t be happy with the results, but at least it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

As an electorate we should perhaps try to think of ourselves as the long-suffering wife discouraged by the poor treatment from her spouse.  Some years ago there was a young mother in our neighborhood who would come to meet for evening walks. She and her husband had two children under the age of five at the time and both were engaged in the early stages of their medical careers.  This young woman frequently vented her frustration with her husband’s behavior. Her chief complaint was that while she continued to break her back at work while still taking the lion’s share of parenting duties she would find that on his days off he would spend the majority of his time playing video games. I typically chose not to get involved in any way with this sort of marital dispute, having enough of my own to contend with. After hearing her whine about this state of affairs for the umpteenth time I cast caution to the winds and rushed in where angels fear to tread. I asked her, ” So how long has this been going on?”. Her reply was that it had been going on since the birth of their first child. I then asked her “Well when did you decide to say something about it?” Her next response was equally disheartening, admitting that she had not said anything yet because she was afraid to. I understood this, it’s a familiar dynamic in young marriages, but I did not succumb to sympathy. I then very simply stated to her, ” If you have accepted it and continue to accept it then you’ve no right to expect anything different. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to use the carrot or the stick, but if all you do is continue to whine to the rest of us the story never changes.” She never spoke of the problem again, at least not in my presence. I don’t know if they resolved this conflict and as I had no stake in the outcome it doesn’t matter one way or the other. For the amount of time I have left on this earth I think that most of the damage has been done where government is concerned. If they began to apply the proper remedies today I would still very likely be cold in the ground before there would be substantial improvement. So in this likewise I may have little stake in it. My advice to millennials is, however, the very same as I had offered to our old neighbor.  If you keep accepting what you’ve been fed you will doubtless continue to get more of the same.

This, of course, leaves the question: How many more Brexits and Trumps will it take before they start getting it right? That will be up to you.

Grave rhymes with Brave

Remember the fallen, not just this day

The dads, sons and brothers who did not make their way

Back home to the loved ones they fought to defend

Who in far away places instead met their end

So many, so young, before their time died

They answered the call with honor and pride

On the sea, in the sky, in jungle and sand

They surrendered a life that was otherwise planned

So today of all days remember the brave

Those soldiers and sailors sent to the grave

IMaGE-ine a future….

It is the late 21st century and the IMaGE logo is ubiquitous. The IMaGE conglomerate is the international holding company, a corporate collective if you will, that serves the planet with their information, technology and foodservice platform. The name and the image are universally recognized, few now alive who can recall the origins of the amalgam which formed the title.

When the old and inadequate financial system collapsed a global panic ensued. Economic and geopolitical meltdown spiralled out of control leaving chaos to reign in place of the, albeit unstable, order that had preceded. Socio-Political theorists for decades leading up to the collapse had been constructing and expounding upon an evolved social order, a new age of enlightened rule installed upon a globalist platform.  These minds had over time infiltrated and gained control over certain key segments of society. They succeeded through governments, multi-national corporations and other institutions in making theirs the dominant school of thought, laying the foundations for the new order to come.  It took a very long time to place the bricks of their edifice, but over time the pace of their project accelerated. The great unwashed, those not part of the great plan, were lulled into a docile state of ignorance and apathy where they would ultimately be convinced of the beneficence of a world corporate state.

Their following grew, inhabiting education, entertainment, information, finance and governments alike.  Those within each of these sectors had plotted their designs, partnering with one another where it benefited their ultimate aim. Each had their “angle” where the global construct would be to their own advantage.  Whether in “free” societies or in more autocratic states, teaming up with governments were key to their success.  Governments could either directly impose their will or provide law and lend legitimacy to the cause, depending upon the nature of each. In either case the results were essentially the same.  These arrangements had always functioned on the principle of reciprocal benefit.  What many did not count on, though, was  the fact that after collapse hastened a full implementation of this system their services were no longer needed. They had become expendable.

To restore order to society bold and sweeping reforms of the institutions were needed. There was no time, and in large measure no longer sufficient capacity for reasoning, to question the long term consequences of this action.  Crises call for bold action. This was accepted, the changes preferable to the alternative, the reality of the time.  The first step was to restore financial stability.

The corporate world leading up to the crisis had for the most part consolidated into only a few “mega” corporations. Mergers forming entities that were larger in size and scope than most of the nation states of the time. These monoliths transcended the definition of “the state”, providing the most logical platform for the establishment of unified, global rule. As the only remaining institutions solvent enough to exercise authority over anything larger than a municipal or county entity they could act on a macro scale and be embraced as saviors.  A global medium of exchange, a new world currency, was established. All “money” was digitized, a process which had in fact already been well underway in many economies.  There had previously been an international financial market, but fractured into inconstant and often unstable currency exchanges. Most of the planet were blissfully unaware that the coins and bills they held in their hands were of no intrinsic value even before the collapse. Like the sacraments rendered by the priesthood of ancient orders these were only articles of faith. Real wealth resides in control.

With this first critical step secured the former banking institution was vaporized. It simply didn’t exist any more: it was no longer necessary.  And the “people” celebrated their demise, believing that the former had not only failed, but had in effect dispossessed them. In the more remote reaches of the world peoples contented themselves to work within the constraints of their own physical resources, reverting to simple bartering. In the more ordered parts of societies, where peoples had become helplessly dependent on an urban social structure, the new order was the only alternative for most. It was seen as a salvation from anarchy.

The mega corporations had stemmed the chaos, provided the first glimmer of hope in restoring stability to society.  People were made financially “whole” again, their accounts replenished with an accepted medium of exchange. Their “money” was back in the bank, though they did not truly comprehend where or what this new bank was. In control of the world’s currency and their own transportation and distribution network in place they had positioned themselves to further be the provider of essential goods, keeping the shelves stocked. Where additional capacity was needed to serve a particular region they simply bought other external assets.

The giants of information, technology, energy, communications and food were all swimming in the same pool. Trying to map out how things would move forward it was determined that other institutions had outlived their usefulness. The true globalist agenda could now be realized with little or no opposition. And the true beauty of this was that the masses had been conditioned and were in circumstances that the corporations would enjoy their support. There were, as there always will be of course, those voices to “cry out in the wilderness”. They could mostly be ignored, but wherever these might become problematic they were easily marginalized or, if need be, silenced.

The scheming opportunists who had inhabited governments were no longer vital. Their services held a value in a world where they were nominally in possession of control, but it became clear that this was no longer the case. They no longer had anything to sell. They had become expendable. The people no longer needed them. Like the bankers they had failed the people. The politicians owned a sizable share of blame for the mess they were all in. Borders fell, states dissolved.

With the fall of states many of their functions were left to be filled, prime among these being education.  The education provided by these institutions had long been failing the needs of the corporations anyway. More and more they had moved to automation. State education had failed to deliver an adequately prepared or trained labor force to fill their needs. In the western democracies governments had further compounded this ill by mandating a wide array of environmental regulations, labor rules and the provision of health insurance benefits over and above the wages. To pour salt in the wound these demanded ever more taxes upon their productivity, ostensibly in part to pay for and improve education.  The corporations determined that it would be much better for them to provide the education. It was an investment. The education system could be tailored to turn out a labor force with skills they needed. No more useless degrees in transgendered studies or sixth century Mongolian poetry. Let them pursue those interests on their own time.  Though near useless to start with, the education system, like banking and government, had become expendable.

The communications,entertainment and information fields were already squarely within their camp. The timing was right, they were perfectly positioned. The world was their oyster. With all other obstacles removed  things would now work the way they were meant to.  All of the academics who had unwittingly been accessories to their ascent were not entirely mistaken in their Utopian ideals. They had only been mistaken in the proper means of achieving it. The corporations would now prove that creating a Utopia, as with anything else, was better left in the hands of the private sector. They would achieve what governments could not.

For some years upheaval would remain the order of the day in many parts of the globe. Too many factions and too much surplus arms to prevent all of it. The corporations did not make the mistake of governments in trying to insert themselves as either backing one faction over another, or to act as peacemaker.  It was better to let them fight it out and kill each other off. History had shown that this would be the ultimate result anyway. And beside that these were in most instances still paying customers contributing to their coffers. This way they could not lose.

With time they further firmed the ground beneath their feet. Life in much of the “civilized” world had returned to normal. It was a new normal, for good or ill, but was accepted not for it’s merits one way or the other. It was stability. It permitted a population that had grown accustomed to gratification and ease to continue residing within their comfort zone. In the previous order governments had learned that a reasonably contented populace were also an apathetic and incurious populace. Where these conditions exist a government can begin to do things under cover of darkness, escaping the scrutiny of their constituency. The problem with governments had been that the people in them were short sighted and self serving. A mentality of “take the money and run” had ruled their thinking. They had no concept of “the long game”, as any wise capitalist will, wise being the key word. Corporations which had grown to such large proportions were not populated by fools.

A time arrived that consensus formed among the corporate giants. More mergers and buyouts proceeded, further consolidating their power and reach.  The one world government had in effect been achieved.  If sound business acumen had brought them to the current state of things then it was logical that the organization should be further streamlined, that this new world order be run as a well ordered and disciplined business. It was out of this that IMaGE was born. IMaGE was, prior to the corporate and planetary singularity:

Intel, MacDonalds, GoogleGE , thus IMaGE

These were the giants, the survivors, who absorbed other giants in petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, transportation, anything and everything needed to sate the demands of the world market. There would be no more mergers, no more startups, nothing left to buy up. IMaGE was the corporate godhead, the one-world government/provider.  As mankind neared the dawn of the 22nd century they were just IMaGE, as they had been for as long as most could remember.  Any who had lived in the times of the forerunners were either too young at the time to remember, or they were under end-time care. Others had already been euthanized or expired on their own.  As the decades passed this was simply accepted as the state of things.

Those with the skills required for the operation of IMaGE and its various component parts were employed and well compensated in digital credits to chart their course in life. Others, those who were only capable of duplicating those tasks which were now performed by machines, were assigned to housing and subsisted on UBA, or the “Universal Basic Allocation”. IMaGE was structured upon a balance sheet, a cost benefit analysis model.  The UBA was in part public relations, the presentation of a benign face to the world, but was in fact a calculation. Enough of those credits issued for the purpose recirculated into their economy to maintain a dynamic growth above the “investment”. With the need for defense funds and other former government functions eliminated from the economic equation the model was set at a rate that would remain sustainable. IMaGE would have no ongoing obligation for entitlements. Those who did not contribute were sustained until their medical condition deteriorated to a point that the credits would be halted and their care entrusted to End Care Services.  When a resident of End Care reached an expenditure that placed their account into the negative they were simply euthanized.

End Care Services also had a means of extraneous funding by providing voluntary euthanization for a fee to those that desired.  Any citizen could walk in to any End Care clinic at any time and be provided the service with no questions asked. If, of course, they possessed enough credits in their account to pay the fee.

In more remote reaches there were still people living outside of the IMaGE network. They operated under barter and trade, in some cases devised their own local currency. As long as those choosing this lifestyle remained within their own distant reaches from civilization these practices were tolerated. As a practical matter most of these existed in places where the expenses associated with extending the full IMaGE platform  could not be cost justified.  Where individuals might attempt to subvert IMaGE within their zones of service this was a different matter. If caught these parties were seized and executed on sight.  Those found to be receiving goods or services from unauthorized providers would find their employment terminated, or if on UBA have their benefits either suspended or revoked entirely.

The new order was not perfect, as nothing ever is, but for the most part it operated fairly smoothly.  Some held at least the intuition that it was impersonal, inhuman, but by this time was generally accepted as a fair system.  Though some policies were grumbled about from time to time it was generally agreed that it was at least impartial. If anyone wanted for anything it was of their own doing.

Following is an account of this benign impartiality at work, as featured on information streams everywhere to anyone paying attention.

…. Mr. Smith, aged 47, resident of the Cambridge Arms community in suburban Springfield, was charged in April with an attempt to defraud IMaGE food delivery services. The regional IMaGE review board issued their ruling on the case this morning.  Mr. Smith maintains that he placed an order for delivery of two large Big Mac meals with Coke and a six pack of beer from his home video screen. He claims that he had been painting and while cleaning up was unaware that his personal credit bar code had been smudged, causing the on screen scanner to read the code incorrectly.  After accepting delivery  for the meal and the beer at his residence the account read from the scanner was billed and discovered to be assigned to someone other than Mr. Smith. The actual account holder was contacted by IMaGE fraud protection services and acknowledged the notice, affirming that it was a fraudulent charge to his account. Mr. Smith was then charged with fraud and notified of the charge and a summons to appear before the regional review board. Mr. Smith says that he responded his receipt of the charge and attempted to enter the correct account information to reconcile the bill, but was unable to submit without first selecting the guilty/not guilty option on the screen. Mr. Smith reasoned that to do so was to stipulate to the commission of the offense and confused as to what he should do simply submitted the acknowledgement blank.

The review board has ruled Mr. Smith guilty as charged and referred their finding to the employment board and the property titling agency. Mr. Smith was terminated from his job as a machinist and the title agency has placed a lien on his property.  Asked for comment Mr. Smith only stated his intent to appeal…..

Can you imagine what happens to Mr. Smith? Can you IMaGE-ine a future like this? No? Don’t be so sure….

 

Summers in Purgatory

Got my stack of Mad magazines                                                                                                          and a box of crayons

That should hold me a while

Fresh batteries in the radio                                                                                                                  Jug of water and a bag of chips

Get me through ’til this is over

Oh, here’s the weather now                                                                                                                  sunny skies, mid 70’s today

Guess it won’t matter tomorrow

Other side of the world Arvid waiting                                                                                                flies buzz in the goat droppings

He doesn’t have a radio

But it’s all the same

Here or there

And nowhere…

That’s where we’ll be tomorrow