Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Point to the Second Amendment.

It was the Founder's view that all governments - from the lowest, to the highest, should live in fear of the Citizen's displeasure, rather than the other way around. And to this end, they placed into the Constitution a Bill of Rights which granted no rights, but rather recognized several specific, inalienable rights and prohibiting several common restrictions upon them.

But the right to say "no" to a beneficent and helpful government who only wants "what's best" for it's people has never been popular with those in the business of governing, and far less so with those persons who think that having wealth enough to compromise the principles of individuals engaged in the excercise of government implies a legitimate interest in and ownership of that which does not belong to them.

Indeed, if there is a single issue of bipartisan agreement in Washington, Kennebunkport and The Hamptons, it's that ordinary Citizens should be allowed little or no meaningful say in their destinies beyond whatever cosmetic formalities are absolutely required to permit the current pretense of democracy to continue.

Here Come the Thought Police - "

While Ms. Harman denies that her proposal creates “thought police,” it defines “homegrown terrorism” as “planned” or “threatened” use of force to coerce the government or the people in the promotion of “political or social objectives.” That means that no force need actually have occurred as long as the government charges that the individual or group thought about doing it.

Any social or economic reform is fair game. Have a march of 100 or 100,000 people to demand a reform - amnesty for illegal immigrants or overturning Roe v. Wade - and someone can perceive that to be a use of force to intimidate the people, courts or government.

The bill defines “violent radicalization” as promoting an “extremist belief system.” But American governments, state and national, have a long history of interpreting radical “belief systems” as inevitably leading to violence to facilitate change.

Examples of the resulting crackdowns on such protests include the conviction and execution of anarchists tied to Chicago’s 1886 Haymarket Riot. Hearings conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee for several decades during the Cold War and the solo hearings by a member of that committee’s Senate counterpart, Joseph McCarthy, demonstrate the dangers inherent in Ms. Harman’s legislation.

It was for just such purposes that the Second Amendment was written; to establish, the right of both singular and collective self defense against all those who would otherwise trample our liberties, steal our children and molest our cattle.

The idea was to create a government that governed by consent, not by force.

The Constitution does not "grant" the right to bear arms or any other right, rather, it recognizes rights that exist whether authorities like it or not and restricts the extent to which Government can request a delegation of those rights in return for better results than individuals could manage for themselves.

For instance, the right to self-defense is inherently limited by our need to sleep and the lack of eyes in the back of our heads. We do not give away our rights in this regard by chartering specialized militias - (police, fire, highly-trained and well-equipped rescue and emergency crews, armed forces, border patrols, etc;) - we are collectively empowering specialist militias who can give the problem their full attention and respond better and more effectively than any individual could, even if they could afford the equipment and the time. But we are delegating, not abandoning our responsibility in this regard. According to the philosophers who influenced the Founders, such as Locke, it was not really possible to abandon responsibility.

These are "inalienable rights," that is to say, rights that cannot actually be bought, sold, bartered or removed by fiat, for so long as someone can say "I would rather die than put up with this," there is always an absolute limit to power.

Allow me to point to a painfully current example. I'm quite sure it's illegal in Iraq to bear arms against the Iraqi Army and our own troops. And yet, clearly, many do. We respond with deadly force, reasonably enough under the circumstances, on the individual if not the strategic level.

So long as they are willing to bear that weight of fire, they have an inherent right to act as they will - not because they are correct in doing so, or have a moral high ground of any sort, but because "stop, don't do that" does not work unless people commonly consent to obey the law and act as civilized human beings. The right and obligation to create law and order is upon those who most desire to shape it's form and define it's nature, it's benefits must be persuasive to those it would govern, or they will not be governed by it.

Consider, if you will, the traditions and history of the Scottish Highlanders. It may be summed up as "Oh, yeah? You and what fucking army, English?"

The Iraqis have an inalienable right to defend their ideals, ideas, neighborhood and social ambitions with force, just as many of our intemperate and untamed ancestors did, people whom, truth be told, Afghan terrorists might well refer to as "savages." Did you know it was Scots immigrants who taught Indians to take scalps?

The Iraqis also have an inalienable right to be wrong about the legitimacy of their cause and the the means they choose to contest the issue. It is a most basic human right to spend our lives as we see fit, no matter what others may say about it or how arguably foolish our choices are. If you think my choices foolish, share your thoughts with me and convince me that viable alternates exist. Otherwise, your choice in regards to me is to either bugger off or brace for impact.

It's amazing to me that there many people who would never assert a "right" to back a rat into a corner and emerge unscathed who do presume they can and should expect a different outcome when treating human beings in the same way. That's appallingly stupid on an individual level; it's inexcusable on the part of an organization theoretically composed of the best and the brightest.

Our only legitimate response to those willing to resist our collective will expressed by force of arms is to either persuade them they are incorrect in the necessity to resort to force and providing a decent alternate to dying for their cause - or do them the courtesy of honoring their dedication with sustained and accurate fire in accordance with our own beliefs and principles. But when we go to this extent, we have the moral and ethical obligation to those we ask to fight on our behalf to be unassailable correct. Feral humans are ever so much more dangerous than rats. Even Rats Of Unusual Size.

If the ethics of this matter are unpersuasive to you who remain enamored of realpolitik , if you look at history and the accounts of wars, the degree to which fire is directed in accordance with beliefs and ideals has a great deal to do with how sustained and accurate it is.

When government forgets or ignores the fact that it's powers exist only to the extent they are delegated limited in exercise by the consent of the governed, resistance with the possibility of outright warfare becomes inevitable to the extent that government is able to put arrogance into practice.

That same equation tends to degrade the ability of the government to convince people to spend their lives on it's behalf.

In our Constitution, the inherent right to resist abusive rule is not just recognized as a fact, but sanctified by forbidding the government from even trying to remove the tools of armed resistance or by forbidding the formation of practiced militias to insist on the point in a collective and effective way. Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the right to bear arms are all guaranteed, and with those guarantees come the obvious inability to forbid discussions of the necessity of forming resistance movements.

Indeed, the only legitimate response (and come to that, one of the few practical responses) is to govern in such a way that the issue does not come up, or if it does, show up at the conclave, apologize humbly and promise faithfully to try and do better.

The presumed end was that a government kept in check in such a way will not presume too much upon the liberties of the people, and limit it's ambitions to the things supported by broad consensus, not merely the loudest, the closest and the wealthiest.

But our self-appointed lords and masters have long forgotten this ideal - if it was ever generally honored. Nonetheless, it is a fact; a reality, a truth. I don't need permission or a licensed gun dealer to prepare myself against the use of force against me.

Simply by being prepared to say "no" and by believing that there is no right of government to initiate force against me or anyone else, I'm armed. It's not about the tools - it's a matter of will, and of "won't."

My weapon of choice is the pen, not the sword. But the government cannot outlaw physics, chemistry or kinesthetics, much less practically restrict the freedom of assembly. Careful and determined persons can become dangerously proficient opponents once there is general contempt for the law and it's agents. Indeed, most resistance forces rather welcome attempts to interfere with their efforts. It tends to underline the necessity of the enterprise.

If the law is, in general, respected only when agents of the law are present in force, there is no law, and, honestly, no moral obligation to respect it.

I personally prefer to exert the First Amendment. I'm still of the opinion that is the best use of my abilities, and I still hold out some hope that the great bulk of our government may be redeemed. But if I do want to become armed, and am willing to break the law, well - there's really nothing but sheer dumb luck on the part of the Government to prevent me from doing so.

In point of fact, even in households where there currently are no weapons, the probability is very high that there are components to make weapons or devices effective enough to make at least one military grade weapon available. I mention this as a fact I hope responsible authorities are aware of, not as an encouragement or expression of intent.

That's not just butt coverage. I am still holding onto hope enough that I have not taken any steps beyond that required to prepare for any natural disaster or disturbance.

My intent is to die of old age in my sleep, many years from now with the reputation of having been an inaccurate and unduly pessimistic prophet, largely unrecognized by history, if at all.

But I fear greatly that I may well be forced to make some unpleasant choices, for if certain pissants get their way, I will be forced to operate within the tradition of the Samzidat. But it will be a Samzidat empowered by robust encryption and modern telecommunications, not old mimeograph machines hidden in attics, and it will be even more unstoppable and impenetrable by virtue of being illegal.

It would seem that Rep. Harman sees me and other Internet truth tellers as being a significant threat, one she's so worried will confuse constituents with facts that she's willing to traduce the Constitution to eliminate it. This is assuming she could, which she cannot. For myself, I can only say that any government official that sees me and other bloggers as "threats" is probably correct - so long as they are speaking of their own personal job security. If she's speaking of eminent dangers to The Republic, she need only seek out a mirror.

She can inconvenience truth telling and other forms of resistance to overweening authority - but history shows that no matter how high the stakes are raised in terms of personal risk, someone will step up to take that risk. Rep. Harman is on the wrong side of history as well as on the wrong side of her oath of office.

This and a long line of other such bills indicate to me that it is indeed the responsibility of all Citizens to consider how best to say "no" to such delusions and disturbances as may from time to time be issued from Washington, and consider how to enforce a "no" in a way that doesn't give them an excuse to have a tantrum at your expense.

I personally do not think that the personal handgun - the common symbol for the Second Amendment - is a particularly good tool for the job. I encourage free and frequent speech (regardless of whether it's considered to be "legal" speech by those who have lost any right to an opinion on Constitutional liberties), eloquent mockery and above all, a general and visible contempt and unwillingness to be intimidated by the sorts of pinheads who find Bushco's arguments persuasive. Force is an option only when force is initiated - and there is no other choice.

And remember - no one has the right to initiate force against you. Not even the police. They DO have the right to arrest you with probable cause, detain you long enough to establish whether or not circumstance warrant arrest, and they have the right to use force when and if you use force to resist or attempt to impede them. Making them carry you is not force.

But the most probable agents of authority will not be "official." they will be thugs who are either paid to use force against you - such as Blackwater mercenaries - or eager volunteers; brownshirt wannabees.

Argue as they will, rant as they wish; the moment they draw back a fist to strike you, you may act upon them in accordance to your own views of appropriate force. Or rather, there is no law that can possibly prevent you from doing so, much less enshrine the right of armed thugs to disturb the peace.

Of course, being justified won't keep them from stomping you into jelly.

So, if you KNOW someone will strike you if you appear to resist, if you know that that is indeed their entire job description, to intimidate you into abandoning your willingness to resist, unless you are choosing to make a point by allowing them to strike you, there's little point to being there when the fist strikes home. It's much more satisfying - to create a visceral analogy - to encourage them to punch a brick wall where they thought your head would be.

There are many alternatives to compliance with Washington's will. But the most basic is this: a loaded gun, a full tank of gas, a good pair of boots, at least a week's rations and the willingness to put liberty over security. In other words, be prepared to vote with your feet. You cannot be oppressed and forced to work for the benefits of would-be slave-masters if you cannot be found. And every troop, cop and thug looking for you is too busy to oppress anyone else.

If you have been paying attention the last few years, our Lords and Masters confuse the ability to use force with "winning." Indeed, they think that beating people up, torturing them, tasering them, imprisoning them without cause or due process is proof that they have "won," that they are in control, that they are Large and In Charge.

The reality is that the slightest evidence, the faintest trace of an argument for the necessity for any of these affronts to decent, civilized opinion is overwhelming evidence of the LOSS of effective control.

In fact they have already lost. When a government starts routinely using preemptive force against it's people, in order to forestall them from exercising their natural right to dismiss the existing government and create one more compliant with their desires, they lose the right to presume upon the consent of the governed.

As a practical matter, it's simply impossible for the Government to lock us all down to the degree that would be needed to prevent outbreaks of "domestic terrorism" - which is exactly how the government would view individuals and militias that took to the hills with their computers and stealthy internet access.

It is a complete waste of money and human resources for our government to be building domestic internment camps, if for no other reason than the fact that it shows that they don't have the skill or imagination to be quite sure that such things won't be needed. And yet they have. Rather a lot of them.

Preparing for a probable breakdown of civil authority is pretty much an admission that such authority is not doing it's job, whatever they might have to say about the whys and the wherefores.

In a practical sense and in the sense of truth Madison Avenue uses, it matters not what you say if nobody believes it.

Nixon had a credibility gap. That implies that there were areas of credibility on either side. I mean, if Nixon waxed eloquent about the need for an empowered executive and the right of that executive to ignore the law - that was met with justified hoots of derision and entirely justified outrage. But when he talked about China - we knew he was probably not talking out of his ass.

Unlike George Bush.

But as offensive and annoying as our government is, and as infuriating as it's presumption upon our rights is, as appalling as it's attempt to criminalize critical speech, it's practical ability to enforce it's will is open to question, as is the question as to what percentage of government agents and officials agree with the whims of our spuriously elected representatives.

Indeed, I think the fact that martial law has not yet been declared is compelling evidence that some sanity remains within various government agencies, at least below the level of political appointees.

Government exists only as a collection of individuals, has no reality or existence other than that and needs no greater authority than being a number of citizens who are good at a thing banding together to do that thing professionally for the benefit of their fellow citizens. As professionals, and as legitimate experts in their areas of competence, it must be even more galling for many of them to have to submit to the whims of the appointed delusional incompetents they serve than it is for us to endure the results at some distance, with the luxury of being able to ignore it for the most part.

As for the elected, civilian leadership that acts as a check on our professionals doing unto us what they think best despite our wishes, there is nothing inherent in the job that implies that one is better than one's fellows, certainly nothing that requires greater intelligence or higher moral authority. God KNOWS - and so does Larry Craig, Newt Gingrich and ... yes... Bill Clinton.

When government starts demanding respect and deference that it has not earned by it's actions; when it sees no obligation to be accountable for it's behavior or it's expenditures, when it's institutions and offices ooze disrespect for the citizens that it serves, at some point people will begin to question the utility of paying it much heed or letting it see much money.

This becomes true at a point far short of outright violence and if the government restricts it's posturing to within it's own buildings and ceremonial occasions, most likely it never will. There have been entire empires that existed only within a day's ride of it's capitals. But such empires stagnate at levels of industry far below our legitimate ambitions for ourselves. So, alas, we cannot abandon government to the cities and citizens that find it's wet diapering comfortable. In that direction lies ... Pakistan.

If people cheat to gain power over their fellows - as is provably the case in the 2000 and 2004 elections, or having won more or less honestly (as is the case for the Democrats in Congress) and yet fail to do the job they were elected to do, then there's absolutely no obligation for citizens to participate in an increasingly obvious charade, tolerate the results or sustain the expense.

The the birth and existence of the United States under the Constitution underlines the "or else" clause of good and effective governance. In all human events, beneath the polite veneer of civilization under the rule of law upheld by broad consent, there is always an "or else." Governments, kings, popes and other Authorities who have forgotten this tend to disappear from history. I could elaborate more, but the poet Shelly said it better:

"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.[1]

The reason we suffer government at all; to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, is to secure our liberties for ourselves. When it presumes to take those liberties in order to appease it's own insecurities, it becomes less and less useful to the people, while becoming a greater and greater intrusion.

That may seem to some in authority like increasing control and security (no doubt it did to the fictional tyrant Ozymandias) - when in fact it's rushing toward a tipping point where widespread resistance, avoidance and outright armed hostility become inevitable - unless there is an alternate path. And there just may be one.

But that's another subject.

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