Edward Snowden: Liar.

Does anyone find it the least bit troubling that Edward Snowden, hero to both the Left and Right (the Left because they see his actions as a smack to the military/intelligence industrial complex and love a good black helicopter conspiracy; the Right, because they are assured, despite the evidence, that the NSA is reading their emails and wantonly violating their 4th Amendment rights), seems to have lied about everything on his way to a job with the NSA and even after, continues to lie?

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while. I was finally spurred on by Snowden’s most recent slap in the face to America: His tongue in cheek questioning of Russian arch-villain Vladimir Putin during a game show in Russia.

The article states: Snowden asked Putin if Russia had similar surveillance programs as the United States–referring to the mass collection and storage of data from individuals around the world. 

Putin responds:

We don’t have a mass system of such interception, and according to our law, it cannot exist,” he said. “But we do not have a mass scale uncontrollable efforts like that, I hope we won’t do that and we don’t have as much money as they have in the States, and we don’t have these technical devices that they have in the States…Our special services, thank God, are strictly controlled by the society and by the law and regulated by the law and society.

All of which of course, lies, to be sucked up by the vacuous sorts that populate today’s America. If Snowden’s appearance on a game show asking a question such as this of Putin does not offend an American, I question that person’s patriotism. If that person gives me a quote about patriotism being the last refuge of scoundrels, well, I say the first refuge of a scoundrel is cowardice masquerading as patriotism. Don’t tell me Snowden’s actions are those of a patriot.

Snowden must not care about such people as Alexander Litvinyenko, Russian defector and former FSB agent who fled to England following his accusations that the Russian government conducted a Black Flag attack against an apartment building that killed 300 Russians and that he claimed was a pretext for subsequent Russian attacks against Chechnya. In 2006, someone administered a to Litvinyenko a lethal dose of the radioactive isotope, Polonium 210. He was in Britain at the time he received the poison.

But Snowden didn’t ask Putin about this case, nor why MI6′s (Britain’s domestic intelligence service) only suspect in the murder is the deputy of the Russian state Duma, and former KGB agent Andrey Lugovoy. The British government requested extradition of Lugovoy; Russia refused.

Litvinyenko

Litvinyenko

Andrey Lugovoy: Suspected Nuclear Assassin

The Russian government is well on its way to building a fascist state, and if one reads the comments posted by Americans in articles about Snowden, it’s easy to see that these Americans fully support the fascists and criminals running the show is Moscow. Putin has surrounded himself with former KGB cadre, well versed, indeed possibly the best in human history, at media manipulation, psychological operations, propaganda, and pulling the strings of foreign societies in order to steer them in a desired direction. I can see from the comments in these articles that here in America, we’ve raised a whole new generation of duped. The future seems bleak. The strength of any democracy is a strong, self-sufficient and enlightened middle class. That is crumbling before our eyes, but it’s not the financial realm that worries me.

Let me address an issue that been nagging me since this incident: Few, if any, have a clear picture of what the NSA does. Snowden alleges the NSA violates constitutional rights, yet courts have  not established consensus on the matter. The Supreme Court has refused to hear cases concerning NSA collection until lower courts hear the cases first. Before you waste your time worrying about what the NSA could do, worry about what other agencies can do. I know people who’ve had their entire bank accounts reduced to zero from thousands of dollars by state tax agencies for failure to pay taxes. No warrant. No trial. No face to face talks with agents of the state. Now that’s real power, not theory and conjecture. Pay your taxes. Moreover, the stories he relates are well covered in books which are years, even decades old. First, there’s The Puzzle Palace, by James Bamford. Then there’s Chatter, published in 2006 and written by Patrick Radden Keefe. I highly recommend Chatter, as it is written more recently than The Puzzle Palace. I myself can stomach Bamford only in small doses. NSA has in recent years cut off his access to interviews so now Bamford has declared war on the agency and never misses a chance to rip them ,droning on about the danger of metadata while never mentioning that virtually every major business collects metadata, and blaming NSA, not Snowden, for so much data being stolen by Snowden from NSA. Nor does Bamford’s impotent self-awareness remind him that the reams of reports he gathered from the government about NSA under the Freedom of Information Act, some which included info on himself, may be indicative that rule of law is still being observed in some branches of government. But he has to make money some how.  Keefe is extremely balanced in his analysis and writes that during all of his investigations, he constantly encountered the same problem we see with the issue of Snowden: The stories and accusations were always veiled behind conspiratorial theory, not hard evidence. The NSA could read my email. The NSA may have dirt on the Supreme Court Justices, that’s why the court has refused to hear recent cases bought against the agency. Possibly, the NSA brought down David Petraeus.

The NSA’s technical capabilities are not representative of what it actually does, anymore than the ability of the typical beat cop to use his gun and knowledge of forensic technology means that cops murder people in back alleys just to steal their wallet and drugs, despite the growing belief in this paradigm by a large portion of Americans. 99% of Americans couldn’t even tell you what metadata is. Yet, they’ll post internet memes on Facebook about the NSA finally getting a peek at the Constitution because someone emailed it. None of those people seem to know or be concerned about the fact that Facebook, Google, Twitter and various other social media and advertising companies all use metadata collection. Ever hear of a HTTP cookie? Geez people. This is ancient news. While I was researching this post on Reuters, a pop-up window explained to me that Reuters uses cookies to make my life better. Not as cool as black helicopters. Here’s the disclaimer on their “cookie consent” panel.

Thomson Reuters, with help from our site partners, collects data about your use of this site. We respect your privacy and if you would like to limit the data we collect please use the control panel below. Changing these setting may reduce news story suggestions made to you, or alter the type of advertising you receive while on our sites. To find out more about how Thomson Reuters uses data please visit our privacy policy .

Repeat this until you understand it: The NSA does not read your email, the NSA does not read your email…Unless it has a warrant based on probable cause on a foreign national. If you don’t think it’s a good idea we be able to listen in on and track people in Bangladesh plotting to blow up American airplanes and Soldiers, you’re insane, not a champion of liberty. Those who think the NSA should give up this capability basically want the NSA to give up capabilities that every other advanced nation has. And those nations don’t have nearly the number of legal protections for citizens that the US does. In other words, despite what Putin tells you, the Russian security services, the FSB, has more power in regards to Russian citizens than the NSA has ever had in regards to Americans. American intelligence spies on allies? This is news? Ancient news, yes. Written about decades ago.  How can one be a whistleblower on information on which whistles were blown so long ago?
Sift through the thousands of documents on the internet, I mean documents released directly from American intelligence or State Department servers, to Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden. Find me one, just one, document that relates directly the contents of a conversation or an email from a US citizen that does not involve a foreign national. Where are Petraeus’ emails? The supreme court justices’? You’ll find generalities and inane information–because the NSA was not reading Petaeus’ email. It was the FBI, not the NSA that looked at Petraeus’ email. But any company’s network technician has the ability to mine old Outlook emails for examination. This was not hyper-advanced technology, nor was it the NSA.  And the NSA is most assuredly are not reading the emails of the pimply-faced computer geek with a GED, no job, and thousands of hours logged on YouTube. But when Russia releases its own intercepts of the cell phone conversations of our ambassadors, where’s the outrage?

We’re fully hypnotized by the decades of propaganda handed us from foreign intelligence services and our own intelligentsia. The end of course, is not far off, and the self-immolation has already begun. Defected Russian agents, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and others who lived under the Soviet regime were routine agape at the credulity and instinct to self destruct in the West, the urgent desire in the West to give away everything that had been built.

But enough of this. What I really want to talk about is the trail of lies that Snowden left behind him. All through Snowden’s life and career there is evidence of his lying and fibbing to get what he wants. Some of these stories are admitted lies on his part. Others are suspicious to those who know better.

Let’s look at the questionable statements or activities by Snowden:

  • It’s believed that Snowden used to post under the screen name, The TrueHOOHA on Ars Technica. On the forum at Ars Technica, Snowden, writing anonymously, says that those who leak classified information should be “shot in the balls.” He criticizes the NY Times for repeatedly running stories about leaked classified reports.

 

Narcissist: Snowden was looking to feel important long before his days at NSA

 

  •  Snowden recruited into the US Army in the 18 X program, in which people can enter the Army for Special Forces training. He did not complete the training, and was discharged. Snowden says he broke both his legs in a training accident. Sure he did.
  • Snowden is obsessed with making up implausible stories. He stated that while he worked for the CIA, that the CIA got a Swiss banker drunk, and after his arrest told him that the CIA would help him if he’d cooperate in advancing American interests.  Ueli Maurer, the Swiss Federal Council President says this story is dubious.
  • While working as a system admin for the CIA, he was suspected of trying to access classified systems he was not authorized to view. Snowden says he was trying to report flaws in the system; again making himself out to be the hero.
  • Snowden says he specifically sought employment at NSA so that he could leak intelligence. How can a person be justified in leaking when they seek to release info of which they can’t possibly know the content?
  • Snowden, in a fantastically selfish act, obtained the passwords of 20-25 coworkers at NSA, telling them he needed them as part of his job as an admin. He used these passwords to obtain the classified data with which he later helped the Russians, but which harmed Americans. Snowden, again lying, says he didn’t steal passwords. Multiple reports say he did. He wants us to believe he’s a super hacker. In reality he’s a schemer who threw people he worked with under the bus to satisfy his massive ego. And he continues to lie about it.
  • Apparently, Snowden was never even qualified to have the job he used to shaft America. His resume claimed he took  computer classes at John Hopkins University and the University of Maryland. He claimed he was close to getting a Master’s degree. None of it was true. 

But of course, Americans now obsessed with conspiracy believe what Snowden says about the NSA. They also believe what this GED-holding liar says about the Constitutionality of it all, as if he’s now not only a master spy, but a legal expert. Snowden, like Putin, masterfully plays to the psychic infantalism so common in America, particularly on the internet and in the minds of those who favor Ron Paul.

The Thin Blue Line

Don’t be fooled. Mass violence, theft and destruction are held in check by a ribbon of civil authority in the US. Yes, in some countries, when the power goes out, there’s little threat of looting and terror, (Japan for instance), but the US is not one of those countries.

Neither is Brazil. 

At least 39 homicides were committed during the two-day strike in and around the northeastern city of Salvador that added to fears about Brazil’s ability to ensure public safety during the global soccer tournament.

Violence swept the city after state police went on strike on Tuesday night to demand better pay and other benefits, prompting the federal government to dispatch troops to restore order in Salvador and nearby towns.

Just as the entire world has become spoiled by safety that America provided it, so have Americans come to take for granted the peace they enjoy. Behind the veil is a demon. 

Teachers Failing the ASVAB?

For the readers of my blog who don’t know, less than a week ago I changed my duty to station to Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii, from Fort Drum. And thank goodness for that. My morale has already doubled based on the weather improvements alone. More on Hawaii later.

Yesterday I took part in my unit’s inprocessing with a  large group of new people. One female Staff Sergeant told me she was just coming off recruiting duty in the San Francisco area. I asked her if that was a particularly tough area to recruit in, given the high salaries common there, the average education levels and the lack of historic military culture. She assured me that it was indeed difficult to recruit, particularly given the Army’s cutbacks in which the standards for recruitment are higher than they were the two wars were raging.

Shocking to me, she said that sometimes people with Master’s degrees and teachers would fail the ASVAB test. The ASVAB is the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. The test was designed to help the Army fit people to the right jobs, as well as predict who will perform well.

I used to be skeptical of the ASVAB and intelligence tests in general. While I do think it’s impossible to design a test that can judge every facet of a person’s abilities, what with the mysterious chemistry of social skills, psychology and raw computational power, as well as the new aspects being studied concerning intelligence, such as fast thinking and slow thinking, my experience has shown that the ASVAB is indeed an adequate predictor of a person’s potential. I first noticed this at the NCO academy where some with low GT score really struggled with even basic concepts. There are of course exceptions, and I’ve seen those, too. GT is General Technical; a subcategory in the ASVAB and generally considered the most important aspect of the test. A GT score of 110 or higher will enable a person to work in almost any job in the Army, minus the ones that require extensive technical training such as surgeons and some higher sciences in R+D; those jobs require higher degrees. The GT highly correlates with IQ, but much of the ASVAB measures “crystalized intelligence”; raw knowledge that does not necessarily require logic to recall. The ASVAB was sited in Charles Murray’s controversial book, “The Bell Curve”, in which he contends that the ASVAB does an adequate job of measuring intelligence and thus performance.

The Army put a lot of research into the ASVAB. Studies show that just as with IQ, people with higher ASVAB scores are more successful in their job. Again, my experience in my own office at Fort Drum showed this to be the case.

The ASVAB score is based on a percentile of the population that took the test. If a person scores an  80 on the AFQT (Armed Forces Qualification Test ; the raw score on the ASVAB), this means that he performed better than 89 percent of the people who took the rest. The Army’s minimum standard for passing is a 31, which is pretty abysmal. When I was at the Army’s Intelligence school at Fort Huachuca, there were some people with very high ASVAB scores in my class. We had about 60 people and two people scored a 99 on the test. I scored a 94 with a 133 GT, which placed me third in my class. I think I would have done slightly better if I had just come out of college like those two other guys did as it had been well over a decade since I took regular standardized tests of much importance. I struggled to remember how to solve  some of the higher math problems, problems I hadn’t worked on since high school. But there’s no question those guys were bright. 

For someone with a Master’s degree or a teacher to fail the ASVAB is to me, frightening. It may not be easy to do extremely well on the test, but it seems almost impossible to fail if one can read. My question is, how is this possible? Have any readers met people with education that are this incompetent? 

Gentlemen, Knighthood and Meaning

the As a young boy, I was constantly reminded to be a gentleman. This meant opening the door for women, saying please and thank you, and keeping my elbows off the table at dinner, among other things. Despite a severe period of waywardness, my manners stuck with me.

We live in an age without a code. People, young men in particular, need a code in my opinion. One reason that men need a code is whether they realize it or not, a code provides a challenge, and thus a sense of accomplishment when the tenets of the code are met. A code orders people’s lives and can prevent arbitrary moral renderings. Of course there are dangers in a code, that it can become dogma and too rigidly enforced, legalistic. Furthermore a code implies a sense of honor, and thus strength and community, things that all men, some subliminally, desire. The codes of the past have primal power, pulling at the strings of Natural Law, reinforcing the things that all people know to be good and right. Even the codes of people we consider our opposites embody aspects of Natural Law; an example is Pashtunwali, of the Pashtun people in Afghanistan. This code requires Pashtuns to protect, house, and feed strangers, even at the cost of the Pashtun’s life. It also requires that blood debts be paid, thus the Pashtun blood feud.

The first code I remember is the Boy Scout Oath, which states the following:

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

The Boy Scouts do a tremendous job in instilling the spirit and morality that is happily the antithesis of the modern spirit and morality. The mention of God, Country, and morality is likely to bring a hurumph from our Progressive masters.

The second code I remember is The Nicene Creed. I was an alter boy, and I rather enjoyed it. I had an oath to swear, a holy cause, a distinct function and a code that was unapologetic.

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
Maker of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial
of one Being with the Father.

Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.

He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

As a police officer, I raised my right hand in city hall, and recited the following code:

On my honor,
I will never betray my badge,
my integrity, my character,
or the public trust.
I will always have
the courage to hold myself
and others accountable for our actions.
I will always uphold the constitution
my community and the agency I serve.

Finally, when I enlisted in the Army, I swore yet another oath:

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

All of these codes involve God, honor, duty, country, law, and truth, thus they are an anathema to the dissolute regime now at the helm.

I propose people should get themselves a code. A code provides meaning to life beyond the next trip to the mall. A code can help order a person’s life, and as Augustine stated: Peace flows from order. A code can also remind you that you have weaknesses. St Paul states that the intent of the Old Testament law was to show man he was inadequate. A code leads to introspection and a focus on the deeper meaning of life, love and death. A code can bring a higher meaning to a person’s life, something no widget can do. Since almost all old codes find their essence in Natural Law, a code is likely to help you get along with other people and to have a happier life.

For men, I propose the old Chivalric code and the American/British/renaissance code of the gentleman. The great thing about these codes for me is that they mostly adhere to Christian ethics while endorsing an active, even martial life style. This fits my personality perfectly. I don’t want to be a flaccid man or Christian. I prefer the way of David or Joshua.

We can even use some aspects of these codes to help us develop skills and past times. For instance,

 Along with combat training and courtly graces, a knight was typically taught to dance, swim, read poetry, play chess, to hawk and to hunt with a team, as well as fight as a unit in battle. Yet, in tournament and joust he was also tutored to excel as an individual. 

These guidelines can easily translate to the modern day. Learning to play chess, or improving one’s game is a great way to improve your mind and it’s a great past time. Swimming, and team sports are fantastic too. I took up fencing years ago and plan to do so again; it’s inexpensive, a great workout and has the martial quality I prefer. While poetry is not the soup of the day, we can learn to write and communicate better and more beautifully. Hunting wild game develops many manly attributes and of course provides food.

Robert E. Lee is an excellent example to follow when it comes to martial and gentlemanly prowess and here he describes his gentleman’s code.

The forbearing use of power does not only form a touchstone, but the manner in which an individual enjoys certain advantages over others is a test of a true gentleman.

The power which the strong have over the weak, the employer over the employed, the educated over the unlettered, the experienced over the confiding, even the clever over the silly–the forbearing or inoffensive use of all this power or authority, or a total abstinence from it when the case admits it, will show the gentleman in a plain light

The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which impart sufficient strength to let the past be but the past. A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others.

The Chivalric code endorsed the 7 knightly virtues. They are as follows:[1]

  • Courage More than bravado or bluster, today’s knight in shining armor must have the courage of the heart necessary to undertake tasks which are difficult, tedious or unglamorous, and to graciously accept the sacrifices involved.
  • Justice A knight in shining armor holds him- or herself to the highest standard of behavior, and knows that “fudging” on the little rules weakens the fabric of society for everyone.
  • Mercy Words and attitudes can be painful weapons in the modern world, which is why a knight in shining armor exercises mercy in his or her dealings with others, creating a sense of peace and community, rather than engendering hostility and antagonism.
  • Generosity Sharing what’s valuable in life means not just giving away material goods, but also time, attention, wisdom and energy — the things that create a strong, rich and diverse community.
  • Faith In the code of chivalry, “faith” means trust and integrity, and a knight in shining armor is always faithful to his or her promises, no matter how big or small they may be.
  • Nobility Although this word is sometimes confused with “entitlement” or “snobbishness,” in the code of chivalry it conveys the importance of upholding one’s convictions at all times, especially when no one else is watching.
  • Hope More than just a safety net in times of tragedy, hope is present every day in a modern knight’s positive outlook and cheerful demeanor — the shining armor that shields him or her, and inspires people all around.

The Chivalric code and the code espoused by Robert E. Lee highlight two things that I believe are central to the success of Christian culture: The mixture of strength with mercy. These warriors were not bullies. Almost no where else in history do we see this. In almost all other places and times, the strong were taught that they had the right to crush the weak. But in Christian culture, the strong maintained the ability and right to defend themselves, but then also made society stronger by helping the weak and showing mercy.

Today, most people have no code at all. They have never established for themselves the rules of their own life, how they should treat others, the expectations they have for themselves on a daily basis. They float on a sea of meaninglessness and confusion. Their manners and demeanor are so atrocious that other people are unhelpful to them, and this causes the unmannered to revile those around him. But the strongest people of the past had codes. They ordered their lives.

I’d suggest all young men get themselves a code. Stop floating in the modern sea of meaninglessness, directed only by the lyrics of the attest pop song, or inane antics of a star on tv. I can’t imagine how a code of lasting power could possibly hurt your life when compared to what we have now.

 

[1]The Seven Knightly Virtues: by Scott Farrell

Be Polite

It’s amazing what a person can get done by merely being polite, especially when dealing with cops and mid-level government bureaucrats.

We live in an age of barbarism, mistaken for something else because of technological advantage. Give Conan an IPad and he still wants to crush your skull with the pommel of his sword and steal all of your stuff, while uttering guttural grunts. Manners and politeness have vanished from a large portion of the population. Do parents even teach manners anymore, or is it considered undemocratic to teach your kids such remnants of the white patriarchy? Please, thank you, and excuse me work wonders. I remember recently while I was at a NY DMV trying to get my driver’s license renewed, and dealing with the typical cynical DMV worker, that she became very helpful and pleasant when she noticed that I remained calm, did not make demands, said please and thank you, and otherwise remained calm. This was in stark contrast to the people in front of me, who were of course argumentative, didn’t say please. In response, the DMV worker was short and sarcastic with these people. It’s easy to get a negative view of these low-level public officials but they deal with snotty, self-important people all day, and many of these people have absolutely no reason to feel self-important; they are of the typical breed of young American, assured that they are very important from their youngest days just because they  breathe air. Our family dog, a pug, breathes air, too. But I’ve reminded my wife that when the zombie apocalypse arrives, the pug will still be the first thing on the dinner table when the canned goods run out.

Same thing goes for cops. I’ve seen many people talk themselves into a traffic ticket. It’s the same people who really believe there’s no higher authority in the universe than them. Cops have authority. When people used to say to me that “if it weren’t for the badge and the gun, you wouldn’t be acting like this”, or some such thing, I’d agree. In such a circumstance I was acting as a person granted authority by the State of Maine to enforce traffic law. I did not have authority to control the diet of the person, their selection of television entertainment or their hair style but I most definitely had the authority to summons them to court for doing 50 in a 25 zone. Being polite to a cop will shock him. He’ll probably be caught off guard. All day long he deals with people ranging from outright savages, to snarky hipsters sipping latte’s and making donut jokes. He probably reads Drudge Report and sees the repeated headlines about the encroaching police state and its ominous militarization, meanwhile he’s sitting in his Ford cruiser, wearing a gun and other equipment he had to purchase himself and making 15 bucks an hour. There’s not even any prestige to the job anymore, and he’ll be reminded of that multiple times per day from people that in my opinion haven’t even earned the right to vote.

Cops should be polite, too. Often, police officers have built such a thick crust from years of dealing with degenerates and snarks, that they are the ones that cause the problem. It took me a few years to recognize how much a calm demeanor and politeness have an immediate tranquilizing effect on most people. Not all but most. There is a small percentage that just begs to get tasered.

On Libertarianism II

More ponderings. 

 

A friend of mine on another blog pointed out to me that libertarians seem to be the only group of people that want to leave other people alone. And on that note, I have to agree, and it is a point that draws me to their side. In fact, the differences between me and libertarians that I know are of degrees, not type. 

I noted to my wife that we live in an age consisting of two types of people: Control freaks and those that lust to be controlled. What an oddity. Those that  can mind so much of the business of others clearly don’t have important issues in their own lives to mind. Those that must be controlled display a weakness that places them in the category of useful idiot. 

And of course I’m with libertarians on gun control. Every man has not only the moral right to defend himself, but a moral imperative. All of this under the auspices of rule of law. Again with Burke here: You have the right to have a weapon until you prove a menace to society, Self-protection, not freedom, is the first right of Man. 

And yes, I will teach my daughters how to use a firearm. I will not teach them how to light up a joint or inject heroin. See the difference in the two? 

On Libertarianism

Just a few notes on the subject of libertarianism.

Over the last two years I’ve toyed with the idea that perhaps I’m a libertarian, and not a conservative in the classic sense. The biggest reason I considered the possibility that libertarianism best described my politics (in fact, it doesn’t) is my hatred of bureaucracy and red tape. I’m not joking; my blood pressure was probably lower during Taliban rocket attacks on FOB Warrior that it is when I have to deal with bureaucracy.  I get hives when I think of the hoops I’ll have to jump through just to accomplish some very simple tasks on a daily basis in the Army. The Army is a huge bureaucracy. Now, I understand the power of bureaucracy, I really do. Max Weber stated that one foundational difference between Western societies and non-competitive societies is that the West figured out how to use bureaucracy to maximize efficiency. Modern armies must be bureaucratic.

The spirit of bureaucracy seems to be that it grows like kudzu and people don’t ever seem to want to trim it back. Consider the US tax code, somewhere over 79,000 pages as of 2013 and having almost tripled in size since 1984. Conservatives and Libertarians like to focus on the tax problem, but the growing number of micro-regulations in America is astounding. Another aspect of bureaucracy that I’ve noticed is that bureaucrats tend to think of all bureaucratic rules in moral terms. Breaking bureaucratic tradition is tantamount to heresy, thus, the rules, no matter how petty, seem to become more important than people and they have near-equal moral gravity as do the 10 Commandments. A bureaucrat’s mind grows calcified and inflexible, unable to deal with a chaotic world without reference to regulation.

Max Weber points out the Wicked Problem of bureaucracy: It most definitely makes a civilization more economically and industrially powerful, yet it may, in the process, make individual people more unhappy. This is somewhat of a paradox in that the intuitive assumption is that a powerful society would create happy people, and happy people should create economically powerful states. This may not be the case. The statistics regarding Americans’ consumption of antidepressants, suicide rates, divorce and the general sense of dissatisfaction is society certainly lend credence to Weber’s dystopian view. The disturbing aspect is that our rationalized measurements of successful societies will not lead most to the conclusion that a highly bureaucratized society is failing. If Aristotle is correct, our real bottom line should be happiness and personal realization, not money or mere efficiency. Both money and efficiency are only valued in their relation to our happiness.

Another problem with bureaucracies, but one that Weber does not touch on, is that there is often no way to use logic to figure them out. You either know the rules because each individual rule is taught to you, or you don’t. And the rules are subject to change at any given moment. I have a severe problem with any system so complex that no one can know all the rules, and a system which an individual cannot use logic to figure out the system on his own.  The case of mathematics, engineering, and computer science allow people to use their basic knowledge of the rules in order to find answers to more complex problems (knowing that 2+2 =4 allows one to figure out that 10×2=20; not so with bureaucracies).

And so, without diving too far down the rabbit hole, as I’m prone, that sums up the reasons that at one point I leaned toward libertarianism.

My biggest problem with libertarians is that in arguing for the rights of people to take part in certain activities, they always seem to miss the fact that many of these activities are in fact bad. Actually, they don’t miss that fact, they are only hyper-fixated on our government’s stance on certain drugs, and laws controlling so-called victimless crimes like prostitution or socially “avant-guard” activities, like gay marriage. There are other activities that fall into these categories.

When I ask a a person who claims they are libertarian if they would want their children to smoke pot, become strippers or prostitutes, or even live a gay lifestyle, they invariably respond with: “Well no, but I would love them anyway.”  This of course is not the point. The point is that 99% of people know these things are not good for humans and when we stack enough victimless crimes on top of one another, it becomes pretty easy to find victims. We can argue all day about our right to snort methamphetamine, and regardless, if you  regularly snort meth, you will destroy yourself and others around you. The fact that we cannot rid the world of meth-heads, prostitutes and strippers, does not mean that our central message should not be: If you’re a meth-addicted whore, you’re stupid and I don’t want you around. Period. As the apostle Paul stated: Everything is lawful, but not everything edifies.

Secondly, I think libertarians massively underestimate how fragile a civil society is, and how much the soldier and police officer keep us in peace. The state’s monopoly on violence is a necessity. One need only look to times in America, such as right after Hurricane Katrina, when for short periods of time and in limited areas, the police were non-existent. It takes a very small percentage of psychopaths to ruin it for everyone, as the Columbine incident and others show us. many libertarian complaints about American “police state” or “surveillance state” seem mostly theoretical. Instead about worrying what the NSA could do to them, as an experiment, they should try not paying their taxes for a few years. There’s no theoretical power when it comes to the IRS: They will seize your bank account and property without a warrant if you don’t pay taxes.

Thirdly, while I do like my individuality, I also know, that just as with the apparent peace in civil society held together by a thin blue line, people who work in teams and groups are stronger. A person, as an individual, even the best trained and toughest, is strained to the max in a survival situation on their own. Only bands of like-minded people can grow in areas not directly related to the procurement of food, shelter and means of defense. I believe many people tend to underestimate their reliance on those around them. That said, there is a difficult balance to be struck between individuality and the benefits of a unified group, as is apparent in the army.