The blog is a view of life, science, politics and education from an engineering perspective. As engineers, we are taught to view the world objectively. We can hope, believe and calculate a particular outcome, but natural laws are inflexible and pay no heed to who we are or what we believe. We must approach the objective dispassionately, while compensating for our own distorted perceptions. Balance is also a key element; balancing between the ideal and the pragmatic, balancing cost and functionality, balancing analysis with action, etc.
Scheduling routine critical self-analysis is the foundation to objectivity. If we do not fully understand and compensate for our own failures, tendencies, habits and skewed thought processes, we will not see the world as it is. Without a regular critical self-analysis we will see the world as we are and then fall prey to self-delusion.
Failure is a great teacher. When failure is coupled with perseverance, it produces the fruit of patience and humility. An engineer, fresh out of engineering school is typically set up for failure early and often. The failure breaks the new engineer of any ideas of self-importance, arrogance and book smarts. Only then can the new engineer be formed and molded into a productive element in the industry.
The US is extremely polarized. The Feds and Patriot groups are positioning themselves for greater conflict. In order to find the root of the dissatisfaction with the Federal government, I had interviewed a number of ‘Tea Party’ advocates and read articles by the Patriot groups.
From everything that I have heard and read, the impending clash of force stems from a conflict of ideology. On one side of the conflict is Obama and liberal Democrats who want to fundamentally transform America into a modern more European style economic and political model. On the other side of the conflict are traditionalists who want to adhere to the original intent of the Constitution.
Leading the charge to maintain the original intent is Stewart Rhodes, a Yale Law school graduate and former congressional staffer of Ron Paul. He is leading a group known as ‘Oath Keepers’. The spokespeople for a few of the Patriot groups include Pat Buchanan, Ted Nugent, Mychal Massie, Alex Jones, Laura Ingraham, Allen West, Ron Paul, etc. The membership of the various Patriot groups exceeds 2 million, according to some estimates.
In 2010 nine members of a militia group, Hutaree, were arrested as a ‘preventative measure’.
"They talked about doing a covert reconnaissance exercise," said Barbara McQuade, U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Michigan, in an interview with CNN's Drew Griffin.
Eric Holder was aware of who these people were and what they were planning because of the informants that were placed in the group by the Justice department. The facility in which the group met was wire tapped and the activity was closely monitored.
The group was charged with possession of weapons and conspiracy to use the weapons. The group had gathered materials necessary to manufacture IEDs, the indictment alleges.
Nine members were charged with seditious conspiracy, teaching the use of explosive materials and possessing unregistered and illegal weapons.
The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Hutaree as a "Patriot" group militia and is categorized under the heading of a hate group or fringe organization.
"Generally, Patriot groups define themselves as opposed to the 'New World Order,' engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing or advocate or adhere to extreme anti-government doctrines," the Law Center said in a report, "Rage on the Right: The Year in Hate and Extremism."
The Law Center also defines Patriot groups as "militias and other organizations that see the federal government as part of a plot to remove personal liberties from liberty-loving Americans."
Instead of seeing the Patriot groups fade as a result of this high profile arrest, the opposite has happened. The arrest seemed to anger and justify the activities of the Patriot groups; causing new groups to pop up replacing the one that was lost.
Ideas in conflict:
States rights: The idea is that the federal government should be weak and that the states should determine their own fate and laws. The Oath Keepers believe that the Constitution outlines a Federal government that sets the currency, conducts foreign affairs, interstate commerce and defends the country against enemies (both foreign and domestic). The charter for the Federal government also includes policing the border, conducting a census, creates treaties, etc. But in effect, the policies of the federal government should be of no consequence to the average citizen.
The states on the other hand, have the authority to set their own policies governing day to day affairs of the citizens. The states will develop a competitive environment for citizens and businesses.
By allowing individual states a wide berth of operating conditions, the entire span of ideology will be covered. If an individual prefers safety over personal liberty that individual can find a state that caters to that preference. Some states could focus on the environment while others could focus on manufacturing and industry.
The United States is structured as a loose confederation of states. The states yield minimal rights to the federal government, but the federal government is the ultimate arbiter in disputes between states.
Taxation: The Oath Keepers believe that the Federal government does not have the right to impose an income tax. That right is reserved for the states. It was Franklin Roosevelt who had usurped that authority by stacking the Supreme Court with justices who were sympathetic to the strong Federal government.
Second amendment: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” According to the Oath Keepers, ‘not be infringed’ means precisely that no laws can be created to curb, limit or infringe on the ability of an American citizen to own any weapon that they wish to own. In fact, they believe that taxing the weapon or ammunition is unconstitutional because the tax infringes on the citizen’s ability to own or use the weapon.
The second amendment has nothing to do with hunting; the amendment is designed to make the state and federal governments fearful of its citizens. The citizens should have all of the power in the country.
Public education, public healthcare: The federal government was not given the charter to establish public education, public healthcare or public anything. The states are permitted to set these up, but it is not required.
Gold Standard and the Federal Reserve: The constitution does not allow for fiat money or a Federal reserve. The monetary supply was of keen interest to the founding fathers. President Andrew Jackson reiterated the need for a control on the currency and a currency that is backed with assets.
President Wilson created the Federal Reserve after passing the Federal Reserve Act, but only after creating a panic to ensure its passage.
Capitalism: The Oath Keepers believe that unfettered capitalism will cure its own ills. Of course, most of the self-regulation will take a longer period of time. If a food manufacturer uses substandard ingredients in its product, its competitors will make it known to the consumer. They also believe a private agency will arise (similar to the UL or Consumer Report) that will provide the consumer confidence in a product.
The Federal government should not own businesses or ‘for profit’ enterprises, nor should it own tools of manufacturing.
Charity: Government spending on social programs is not charity. It is a re-distribution of wealth. To take from one person by force to give to another is extortion. Non-profit organizations and churches should care for the poor and disabled by providing schools, hospitals, shelter and food. In exchange for service to the poor, the non-profits pay no income taxes, properties taxes and are not subject to the regulations of the ‘for-profit’ organizations.
Citizens should never look to government as a provider; only as an arbiter and enforcer.
Global Governance: The groups will not answer or pay taxes to anyone or anything outside of the US. This includes the United Nations, Cap and Trade or any other mechanism that extracts money from the US citizens for causes outside of the US.
Slippery slope: For decade the backers of the constitution and Patriot groups have begrudgingly relented as the constitution was dismantled. The dismantling began under the Presidency of Woodrow Wilson, but took an enormous step forward during the Roosevelt administration.
Most groups are open to changes to the constitution. If changes are desired, the originator of the change should state the purpose of the change, the final objective of the change and the problem that it hopes to solve. A national debate should be held and it should be ratified of 2/3 of the states. But this process was not followed during the creation of the Federal Reserve, Social Security administration, the IRS, and any number of unconstitutional governmental entities.
Prior to the Obama administration, most presidents have nibbled away at the edges of the constitution. But Obama appears to be determined to wipe away the remaining vestiges. Beyond the trampling of the constitution, Obama is willing to identify the Patriot groups as terrorists. He is actively working to undermine the groups by putting informants into the groups and de-legitimizing the groups. The perception is that Obama is using outside organizations to label the Patriot groups as ‘crazy, paranoid, black-helicopter Neanderthals’. Obama and Holder appear to go out of their way to antagonize the Patriot groups, as if they are looking for a fight.
Obama, to these groups, represents an ideology that is more socialist than the Republic as established by the constitution.
Now, Patriot groups have put a stake into the ground and said ‘no further’. They have taken an oath to support the constitution; not the Federal government.
In the clash of ideology, many groups have been pulled into the fray. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is perhaps the main supporter of Obama and the transformation of America. In the (SPLC) 2009 report The Second Wave: Return of the Militias, Larry Keller, wrote that the Oath Keepers "may be a particularly worrisome example of the Patriot revival." Stewart Rhodes responded to this book and claim that there is nothing to worry about if only the US would return to its original intent and charter.
The US Federal government needs to divest itself of power; giving it back to the states and to the people.
The Federal government has sensed the showdown and is actively working to get the upper hand in the conflict; it is banning weapons, even semi-automatic weapons, it is buying up all ammunition, making it difficult to find bullets, it refuses to make drones off limits to US citizens on US soil, etc. But mostly, the federal government is demonizing law abiding US citizens who want to maintain the original intent of the constitution. One person claimed, “I wouldn’t be demonized if the Feds were content to allow me to exercise my constitutional rights.” Another comment was, “I am tired of being mocked and ridiculed by my government and media for holding true to our founding documents. Those documents should still our guiding principles.”
Can a compromise between the Feds and the Patriot groups be achieved? I doubt it, especially since the Feds are not interested in compromise.
My perspective is that I am highly cynical of our government. I don’t believe that the federal government is acting in my best interest nor is it living up to its charter. I am completely dis-heartened to see how far decay and corruption has seeped into our society and government. With this degree of decay, it is bound to fail soon. But I will not conspire or take up weapons against the government.
I have been exhorted to be part of a group, because “sooner or later the government will come after you because of your beliefs”. My response is that I aware that Obama and Holder do not share my beliefs and might erode my personal liberties even further, but I will not defend myself physically from the government.
I am the eternal optimist and I will continue to hope that our condition improves, despite evidence to the contrary.