A summarizing of the two books I read while at the beach. (See 1 below)
Then further evidence of what I summarized in (1 below.) (See 1a below.)
Stuxnet returns! (See 2 below.)
1)While at the beach I read two books. The first was given to me by a dear former associate as a birthday gift and was written by Francis Fukuyama and was entitled: “The Origins of Political Order.” She said her husband read it and kept thinking of me.
The second was a book of essays written by Isaiah Berlin entitled: “The Sense of Reality” and was loaned to me by another friend.
I will try and hit some of the highlights of both but, admittedly, cannot do them justice.
Fukuyama began his historical voyage by describing politics among our primate ancestors and ended just shy of the French Revolution which his second book, currently being written, will cover.
He traces the rise and fall of various political orders in most of the major regions and nations carrying the reader from the state of nature through the tyranny of cousins and tribal societies in part one. In part two, he discusses state building. Part three, encompasses the rule of law and part four discusses accountable government. Fujuyama, concludes with his own theory of political development.
As man developed, the need for protection became evident and evolved in a patrimonial sense, ie. from ‘cousin’ lineage. As man further developed and his numbers expanded political order became more tribal in nature. Over time, land and inheritance became significant influential factors in determining the structure of political order.
The Chinese were the first to develop the concept of the modern state and the early Ming Dynasty rulers were sincerely concerned with the interests of the ‘peasants’ and political order was devised with this in mind. Fukuyama describes how later Chinese rulers overspent and as the nation expanded their leaders had to depend upon less trained regional surrogates to enforce laws and collect revenue and the author attributes later Ming Dynasty downfalls to’bad leadership.’ (Sound familiar?)
The concept of the rule of law Fukuyama attributes to India and the Middle East. The Muslim rule of political order had a religious component but also depended upon military slavery (Mamluks.) Ironically the military structure ultimately became the undoing of the Ottoman empire which, heretofore was the most successful regime ever to emerge in the Muslim world.
Why? Because the military became strong enough, in their own right, and were able to confront the Emirs. but failed because of its own internal contradictions.
Next, the author discusses the influence of Catholicism whose political structure actually undermined the family because its initial focus was on power and inheritance not morality. In order to accomplish its survival the Church passed rules restricting inheritance, succession through intermarriage yet, favored single women property rights because that resulted in furthering church inheritance.
Fukuyama then discusses the establishment of the rule of law, how the Church became the state and then eventually the state became the church as the Church over-reached.
Throughout history it is evident that various political orders ebb and flow as each system evolves and devolves mainly from within because of internal imbalances.
Political order accountability was a European development with the English Parliament system being the most prominent example. Unlike Hungary, where the elite became so powerful and placed such constitutional restrictions upon the monarchy thereby, totally disenabling it; the English Parliament struck a balance between accountability and monarchical power so both served as curbs upon each other allowing the interests of the people to be protected and better served.
Fukuyama concludes there must be three components of a modern political order - a strong and capable state, the state’s subordination to a rule of law and government accountability to all citizens.
He then discusses five European state scenarios and the reasons for their four divergent outcomes – Spain and France had weak absolutism and no principle parliamentary accountability and eventually sold themselves off piecemeal to sustain their ruler’s profligacy.
Russia modeled itself along Chinese styled absolutism and dominated their elite through subscription who eventually rebelled and threw off the yoke of subservience. Russia’s political order evolved partly because of geographical vulnerability (flat land with no natural barriers), not enough time elapsed between lifting the Mongol yoke and the concept of state-building to take root, Russia had no traditional rule of law comparable to Western Europe and thus, certain Western European concepts of political order never advanced sufficiently to penetrate Russian thinking.
Hungary, as previously noted, fell from hobbling checks upon the monarch. Also as noted previously, England devised the most successful structure and became, in part, the model for our own government.
In terms of the biological influence upon political order Fukuyama asserts: “Human beings, by nature, desire not just material resources but also recognition.”
The one idea expressed in Berlin’s essays that most impressed me was his statement that in Western thought “Virtue is knowledge.”
As I read these two books concurrently I began to think of their application to our own nation's current state of flux, stress and decline
Berlin devotes an essay to: “Socialism and Social Theories.” As I read it, it reinforced my belief that Obama and those who influenced him believe the mental acuity of the intellectual elite, somehow, transcends that of nature and God and thus their attack on religion is a natural consequence. Their pursuit of virtue transplants and/or equates with knowledge. Relativism and PC'ism eliminates traditional structural absolutes that historically served us well.
Progressives further believe man is best served by an all encompassing state and yet, fail to comprehend that a large state is simply an unwieldy collection of bureaucrats with the same weaknesses of the individual.
They also believe in fairness and redistribution as the best way to address the issue of inequality but, again, fail to comprehend that, even with all their virtuous intellectual acumen, they can never equalize inequality because not all ‘men’ are actually biologically equal. Only in the eyes of a constitutionally based system of law are they deemed equal and even then their equality is based upon 'impartial' judgements pronounced by judges or determined by their fellow citizens.
Finally, progressives seem to have little interest in the economic implications of their profligacy in pursuit of equality and the ingrained nature of political tenure seems to reinforce this eventual disenabling circumstance. This is where we are today it would appear.
If one believes history has a way of repeating itself then the parallels of political order that Fukuyama discusses should provide some insights as to where our own nation could be headed.
To begin with the enormity of monarchical overspending placed stress upon various political orders that already had structural fissures. The best contemporary example was the rule of Louis XIV. His profligacy caused France to become overly indebted to external creditors. In order to meet the burden of debt Louis incurred he began a series of loan and interest modifications which both cheapened the French currency and ability to meet these obligations resulting in the demise of his rule but not before causing severe social distortions.
Other failed political orders resorted to taking away property and inheritance rights in order to redistribute and thereby, weaken the elite. In virtually all cases that too failed and , once again, the more prominent recent example is the decline of Communism in Russia.
Obama and those who adhere to his thinking believe capitalism is an evil system and exists solely to assist man’s desire to achieve wealth through greed and to accumulate property for the sole purpose of self aggrandizement. This is why our nation instituted taxation of estate inheritance through double taxation which, I would argue, is more immoral than the alleged sin it seeks to curb and/or eliminate. Once again, Obamaites fail to recognize the enormous sums of charitable giving in our nation that far exceeds that of any other nation, Carnegie, Rockefeller and Buffet and Broad come to mind to mention just a few.
Finally progressives are unwilling to acknowledge the consequent impact on productivity and competitiveness when the state imposes excessive taxation upon human labor and property. Capital outflows are one outcome and consequent unemployment another.
I could go on about more disenabling outcomes brought about by socialist thinking which tends to distort Fukuyama’s three components of a modern political order - a strong and capable state, the state’s subordination to a rule of law and government accountability to all citizens.
In our own current case it would seem Obama and his ilk wish to make government strong enough so as to transcend any subordination to the rule of law. His own legislative initiatives have little, if anything, to do with accountability. Even his resort to garish 'czarish' appointments and agencies outside the scope of legislative oversight smacks of monarchical autonomous arrogance.
Obama's dangerous and inept Attorney General simply adds another log to the fire that is consuming our democratic institutions.
Our ship of state has lost its constitutional moorings because of our severe economic downturn, largely caused by unpaid foreign wars, Congressional legislation in pursuit of unachievable egalitarian dreams and an economic system that, all the while, sought to pursue profitability at the expense of moral balance.
The electorate, out of disgust, angst and a seemingly incompetent alternative, rushed to judgement and elected a slick 'change' artist whose rhetoric, though empty, was aptly suited and constructed to fill the void of voter discontent.
Unbridled spending on top of past largess has now resulted in voter awareness it cannot be sustained and political gridlock is the consequence as Obama is politically obligated to continue spending to appease his camp followers and conservatives , having achieved renewed electability, find a semblance of political strength standing in opposition and returning to their philosophical roots.
Significant erosion and drift has taken us far away from our founding shores. That is evident. Its occurrence was largely purposeful and was enabled as we became wealthier and believed we could afford more and more free lunches. Ironically this wealth came because America was blessed with resources, enjoyed once secure borders and because American industriousness and exceptionalism blossomed as a consequence of the confluence of our political and economic order which, perversely, an incompetent president seeks to change if not destroy.
I repeat – we re-elect Obama literally at the peril and survival of our political order and Republic.
1a)Obama to help the poor dumb folks who live in this country. The latest group selected for help are farmers and folks who live in small towns.
When and where will it stop? Are you scared yet? This was downloaded from their web site.
Rural America Now, Who’s Next?
By Elden Fowler
In a move with little fanfare and even less media attention, on June 9, 2011, President Obama signed Executive Order 13575 (EO13575) which created "The White House
Rural Council (WHRC)." As EO 13575 indicates,"Strong, sustainable rural communities
are essential to winning the future and ensuring American competitiveness in the
years ahead." It is obvious the President plans for the Federal Government to play a
major role in reshaping Rural America.
By his signature, President Obama created a powerful Council which will control virtually every aspect of the lives of the 16% of the population that lives in rural America.
Critics of Obama’s action say that EO 13575 is a logical progression in the Federal
Government’s implementation of the United Nations Agenda 21.
That agenda has stirred debate across the country and, here locally, it has been
a rallying cry for the right against further government intrusion, while, on the left, it is
embraced as utopia where we can all walk for shopping, work, entertainment, and live
in energy efficient stackable housing which will save the planet from global warming.
Evidence of that divide can be found here locally in the recent uproar over the passage
of Yuba County’s General Plan, Yuba Vision 2030. Critics have claimed the plan
incorporates an environmental overreach and places too much emphasis on Agenda
21 principles. A recent Appeal Democrat article implies they are using Agenda 21 as
There are indications that a ballot initiative which would rescind the newly passed
General Plan is in the works and may yet be launched. The initiative may require that any
new plan would require a vote of the people.
As shown below, the WHRC is comprised of very powerful individuals and, for conservative
Rural America, is a harbinger of increased government control to come.
The Secretary of Agriculture shall serve as the Chair of the Council, which shall also
include the heads of the following executive branch departments, agencies, and offices:
(1) the Department of the Treasury;
(2) the Department of Defense;
(3) the Department of Justice;
(4) the Department of the Interior;
(5) the Department of Commerce;
(6) the Department of Labor;
(7) the Department of Health and Human Services;
(8) the Department of Housing and Urban Development;
(9) the Department of Transportation;
(10) the Department of Energy;
(11) the Department of Education;
(12) the Department of Veterans Affairs;
(13) the Department of Homeland Security;
(14) the Environmental Protection Agency;
(15) the Federal Communications Commission;
(16) the Office of Management and Budget;
(17) the Office of Science and Technology Policy;
(18) the Office of National Drug Control Policy;
(19) the Council of Economic Advisers;
(20) the Domestic Policy Council;
(21) the National Economic Council;
(22) the Small Business Administration;
(23) the Council on Environmental Quality;
(24) the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs;
(25) the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs; and such other executive branch
departments, agencies, and offices as the President or the Secretary of Agriculture
may, from time to time, designate.
Critics claim control of every aspect of rural life seems to now be part of the government’s mission. They are suspicious when reading the words "nongovernmental
organizations" (NGOs). NGOs are unelected,but typically government funded groups
that act like embedded community organizations and are key to Agenda 21’s plans.
They see them in the Sacramento Council of Government’s (SACOG) plans, the Awahnee
Principles, Local Government Commission,Valley Vision and other organizations
elbowing their way into our lives. They are embedded in the General Plan, the Obesity
Resolution, and all of the "feel good" legislation coming out of Sacramento in the
guise of "saving the planet."
When Sutter Buttes Tea Party member Larry Virga of Yuba City was asked his
opinion of Obama’s signing of EO 13575, he said "The United Nations has pushed
its sustainable development program for many years. The Agenda 21 social justice
blueprint requires governments to control almost all aspects of our lives, and is designed
to eliminate private property rights altogether. EO 13575 is a continuation of that agenda."
Undoubtedly, the risks to Rural America and the lifestyle of those who live there are
great and may outweigh the rewards of government intrusion. The political appointees
listed above will have tremendous power but no one can be sure they will have the
knowledge and the wisdom to bring positive change to the countryside. If they are
no more successful than government has been in transforming the urban metropolitan
ghettos of big cities, Rural America is in trouble.
2)Stuxnet returns to bedevil Iran's nuclear systems
Intelligence sources report the Stuxnet malworm which played havoc with Iran's nuclear program for eleven months was not purged after all. Tehran neither overcame the disruptions caused by Stuxnet nor restored its centrifuges to smooth and normal operation as was claimed. Indeed, Iran finally resorted to the only sure-fire cure, scrapping all the tainted machines and replacing them with new ones.
Iran provided confirmation of this Tuesday, July 19 in an announcement that improved and faster centrifuge models were being installed.
Iran would clearly not have undertaken the major and costly project of replacing all its 5,000-6,000 centrifuges with new ones if they were indeed functioning smoothly. The announcement was made by the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman at a press briefing although no one present had raised the nuclear issue. He said: "The installation of new centrifuges with better quality and speed is ongoing… this is another confirmation of the Islamic republic's successful strides in its nuclear activities."
Britain and France immediately condemned the announcement. It proved, official spokesmen commented, that Iran plans to triple the amount of uranium it enriches in contravention of six UN Security Council Resolutions and defiance of ten International Atomic Energy Agency decisions in Vienna. The announcement also "confirmed suspicions that the Iranian nuclear program had no credible civilian application."
In recent months, Iran has taken advantage of the West's preoccupation with the Arab revolt to quietly forge ahead unnoticed with its weapons program. So if everything was moving smoothly forward why did Tehran suddenly decide to raise the touchy subject again?
Indeed, by doing so, the official spokesman placed in doubt the three major strides Iran was generally presumed to have made while the West was otherwise engaged:
1. The dramatic speeding-up of uranium enrichment and expansion of the quantities produced.
The West has no credible information, whether from intelligence, research, or nuclear watchdog inspections, as to how much enriched uranium Iran has produced and how much it has in stock.
For the past six months, Iran managed to keep the full scope of its enrichment activities hidden from IAEA inspections. Although inspectors were allowed to visit Iran's acknowledged enrichment facility at Natanz, they were unable to gauge how many active centrifuges were present and how many removed to unknown site or sites. The sophisticated cameras supposed to monitor the Natanz facility were unable to record all of Iran's enrichment activities because key production sites were moved out of range.
2. The glitches bedeviling their centrifuge machines were overcome and all 5,000 were spinning away without interruption. After expunging the Stuxnet virus which first struck in June 2010, all their nuclear program's control systems and installations, including Natanz and the Russian-built Bushehr reactor, were functioning perfectly. It took Iranian and Russian computer and cyber-terrorism experts a year to cleanse the system. This gave security agencies their first indicator of the time it takes to overcome a large-scale, sophisticated cyber attack.
On July 5, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, head of Israeli military intelligence, said that Iran is currently running 5,000 active centrifuges and aiming for 8,000. He made no reference to their replacement with newer and faster machines - which the Iranian spokesman disclosed suddenly last Tuesday.
3. The Iranians are engaged in the relocation of the centrifuges spinning 20-percent grade enriched uranium to a new underground facility at Fordo, 100 kilometers away near Qom. Tehran has rejected every European and IAEA demand to install monitoring and inspection equipment at the new facility which is therefore functioning without international oversight.
Those presumptions are now largely suspect.
Western intelligence sources tell debkafile that until recently, the Iranians believed they had a clear road for enriching large quantities of high-grade uranium after solving technical obstructions and beating back the cyber attack. But then, they were stunned to discover that the Stuxnet virus, far from being eradicated, was back with a vengeance and on the offensive against their centrifuges. Iran was forced to adopt a course it had avoided last year, namely to destroy the entire plant of approximately 5,000 working centrifuges and replace them all with new machines.
This decision led to the foreign ministry spokesman's one-sentence announcement. He delivered it to pre-empt Iran's enemies from picking up on the installation of the new centrifuges and making it public with the real reason for dumping the "smoothly" operating ones.