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Monday, December 13, 2010

Political Flocking

The Progressive opponents to freedom and personal liberty in this country are a well oiled machine. We’ve watched their politicians deftly maneuver the back room deals and every other conceivable act of legislative cunning. The myriad of activist groups and unions have danced for the media with practiced ease while delivering well rehearsed and poll tested messages.

For the Conservatives, it has been amateur hour. Our veterans don’t seem to grasp true Conservative values and our new-on-the-scene patriots are saying all the right things all the wrong ways. The various Tea Party and 912 groups that have sprung up seem to have no idea what to do with the passionate fervor their members bring to the group besides wave signs and vote their conscience.

Why is there such a difference between the two ideologies in their ability to move their agenda forward? How can an entire section of population with common goals and beliefs be so bad at conveying and realizing them?

There is a area in Computer Sciences called A.L. or Artificial Life. In A.L. circles programmers try to mimic behaviors and traits seen in nature in a digital world. One of the problems that Artificial Life coders tackled was that of flocking. Birds and fish tend to travel in large groups of like animals. Flocks and schools can be made of hundreds of individual creatures but move as if they were almost a single entity. The A.L. researchers wanted to know how this was accomplished and if it could be replicated.

Craig Reynolds was one of these coders. He worked out a set of rules with only 3 or 4 rules to govern the individual birds, or Biods as he called his digital critters. Without any real cooperation between the digital birds and only a small handful of rules for the individuals, Reynold’s Biods were able to flock perfectly. Part of the secret was all the Biods had to be using the same rules.

This is why the Progressives have been doing so well. With hundreds of smaller groups, most with hot button causes that are completely different from each other’s, the Progressives have achieved political ‘flocking’ through a universal set of rules used by all the groups. They train their people often and thoroughly. The people doing the training are often from other groups and train across the spectrum.

The Progressive ground troops are taught how to talk to media and how to deliver the message with all the right code words. They are taught how to use the system when its to their advantage and how to circumvent it when its not.

This is probably one of the very few concepts that Conservatives need to borrow from Progressives. When we can train ourselves with a universal set of rules based on Conservative thought and values then we can achieve political flocking. This will result in the whole being greater than the sum of the parts, a synergy that will move the Conservative agenda forward. Conservatives far out number true Progressives in America but so far its been an even match. We need to teach ourselves how to correctly fight for our beliefs and then it won’t be so even any more.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

30 Day and a Half Full Glass

Today is an anniversary of sorts; it has been 30 days since I posted Conserving Ink’s first blog. I got less than 20 hits on my first day, but I had nearly 700 in my first week. It was cathartic having an audience for all these thoughts that had been bouncing around in my head. It’s been a learning experience, trying to find ways to drive traffic, looking for analytic tools, making sense of AdSense.

And after 30 days I’ve noticed something interesting, I’ve change a little. I’ve developed a strange ailment I call grim optimism.

With all the political happenings of the last two years it is easy to succumb to pessimism and depression. Our country has experienced a horrific and sustained attack from within by people we should have been able to trust. These same people are publicly accusing those of us who cry foul of being the threat to our own country, being terrorists in the making. Now we are looking at the end of Free Speech on the Internet, the end of sharing food from our own gardens and the usurpation of the very foundations of our capitalist system by the government that has been entrusted with its protection.

We were happy when we couldn’t see all the cracks in the foundations of our Republic. We merrily went about our lives complaining half heartedly about the economy and politics much the same way we complain about the weather. We didn’t care for what we got, but didn’t think we could change it.

Then the mortgage crisis hit followed by the election of Barack Obama. The economy careened out of control while Progressives attacked our Constitution. The government scooped up private sector businesses, one after another, and the media applauded every step.

Slowly we realized the true magnitude of the situation. The politicians, who had pretended to be moderate capitalists, dropped their masks and revealed the socialists underneath. They lied, bribed and threatened to pass laws that were in direct opposition to the will of the American people. With every new law or regulation our rights disappeared one by one. With every new bill our nation was plunged into mind bending debt.

But there is a power that comes with a true knowledge of your situation. To have no illusions removes the uncertainty. Even when the obstacle seems insurmountable, to truly know the adversity you face brings a resolve.

This is where many of us are now. The panic is over, the defeatism is gone. We know our task and even though it is far greater than we imagined and those who would stop us have more power than we thought, we clearly see the goal and we believe it is possible.

It’s going to be messy. We’re not professional politicians. The last election showed us that. Some of the Tea Party candidates were less than polished, but they had the right ideas and the right goals. Some of them won anyway, awkward virtue beating slick and shiny vice. Some of them lost, but learned valuable lessons. We all learned, the next election cycle will be the fruit of that knowledge as our next wave of candidates move through the maze of campaigning with more confidence.

But there is a hope that wasn’t there before. We know who we are now. We know what we face. And even though it’s going to be messy, painful and ask us to put our lives on hold as we fight for our children’s future, we know we can do this. This is not a Pollyanna optimism, it’s a resolved optimism that understands the true sacrifices needed. I called it a grim optimism, but it feels good and it gives me strength. It’s the kind of optimism that quits the whining and rolls up its sleeves and gets to the hard work of rebuilding the greatest nation that ever was.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Government We Didn't Elect

I am a geek. If you have read the blog’s bio you know I am pretty up front about this.   Some of my favorite books are the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series.  One of the main characters is named Zaphod, he’s recently been elected as President of the Galaxy.  As an impulse driven narcissist, he would seem poorly suited for this role. But then it is revealed that the whole purpose of a Galactic President is to distract the populace from its true rulers.  Zaphod has the whole distracting thing down cold.  Of course this raises an interesting question, who is really running the Galaxy?

So who’s really running your government?  There are 435 members of the House of Representatives, 100 Senators and one President and his Vice.  This gives us a total of 537 elected Federal officers.  We chose them, they are our fault.

In 1940 there were 700,000 Federal employees.  Seventy years later there are 2.7 million Federal employees, almost four times as many.  This is civilian employees, not military. If we subtract the Post Office and the Department of Defense civilians we are left with 1.26 million regulatory bureaucrats.  That’s 2,300 non-elected people for every elected official.

We didn’t get to choose these people, we don’t know what their political beliefs or their agendas are.  We don’t get send them home after 4 years when they act against our interests. They don’t pass laws by voting on them, they issue regulations, with little to no oversight and we have no choice but to comply.

Then there are the Czars, officials of enormous power with no oversight, no Congressional appointment and nearly as infallible as the Pope and as absolute as any monarch. Obama has doubled the number of Czars in less than two years.  These unelected and untouchable officials work in almost complete secrecy.  Be honest, with nearly 40 Czars in the administration, each overseeing earthshakingly important aspects of American life, when was the last time you actually heard what any of them were up to?

To be fair, you’ve been pretty distracted with elected shenanigans.

So we’ve elected a statistically negligible portion of our government, but they’re in charge right? When Cap and Trade died in Legislature the EPA stepped in and began to implement it anyway through fiat and regulation.  Czars confiscated massive private industries and looted them for Union bosses without congressional input.  It was if the people we elected weren’t even really necessary.

Feeling helpless?  Are you starting to wonder if the elections even mattered? Fortunately they can. Our legislature can start by eliminating some of the competition.  Legislation outlawing high powered officials with no congressional blessing would eliminate the czars. The House can threaten to defund the EPA if they continue to enforce Cap and Trade by fiat.

Then the Congress needs to start shutting down Federal agencies and moving those responsibilities back to the States. At the State level the bureaucracies will be much more controllable. When the Federal government is back to 1940 levels or less, then we can feel like the people we elected are the people in charge.