Thursday, January 19, 2012

Games: Obama for the Block

The movie is pure fiction, but one worth watching. In 1983, David Lightman, looking to download a game, hacks into a Supercomputer, and innocently sets off a chain of events which almost set off a global thermonuclear war. The machine, as it turns out, does not know the difference between a simulation and the real thing. The movie is called WarGames. 

This was brought to mind the other day when I was arguing with a troll from the CATO Institute on Twitter. His take is that government is bad, capitalism is good, and he will succeed even if all others fail. It is all a game anyway, and he will win. Nothing else matters as long as he wins. The troll is the offspring of a School Teacher in Minnesota who has raised him under the protection of the Civil Servant’s system and Union Representation, but he is anti-government, anti-union, and anti-Obama. He is also a rabid supporter of Ron Paul. Like many he embraces the lawlessness of the Libertarian ideal until it bumps up against some cherished institution; repealing farm subsidies being one of them.

During this conversation, I was informed that it is all a game; nothing but a game with deep implications. And a game he was going to win. 

I use the personal pronoun there because that was the core of his argument. Nothing else mattered as long as he won in life. With a world view like that, we see the core of the 1%ers. He will probably win, and the remaining 308,745,537 U.S. Citizens can go to hell. That was the gist of the budding Gekko-ish “Greed is Good” argument. He is not alone. This is the argument behind Janie Johnson’s “Don't Take My Lemonade Stand – An American Philosophy,” and the ramblings of John Stossel, and George Will. 

That brings me back to WarGames: an unwinnable game. If you have not seen the movie this is going to be a spoiler (I figure that talking about the end of a 29 year old movie is not a gross offense of public civility). In WarGames, to stop the WOPR (the supercomputer) from launching its missiles at the Soviet Union, they had it play Tic-Tac-Toe as it frantically sought the launch codes. Computer multitasking, along with Artificial Intelligence which could learn from experience, was a Si-Fi dream in Hollywood in 1983. The WOPR decided, based on Tic-Tac-Toe, that thermonuclear was a pointless, no win game. It did not launch.
Right now, politically, we are pretty much in the same boat. 1%ers, and those who aspire to be 1%ers, think this is all a game. As such they are doing all they can to block the progress of the nation. One might be so bold as to call that a class version of Global Thermonuclear War. However, it is a no win game. If 400 win at the expense of 308,745,137 citizens, that is not a win. 

Using the Tic-Tac-Toe, no win, analogy all we can do is block the elite who are bent on destroying the US for the sake of their dream of domination. View it as a political version of Hollywood Squares. If that is the case, we have one choice this coming November (if we stay within the current rules of society).

I choose, Obama for the block.

Your move now ….

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A step closer to Civil War?

This past week the U.S. Senate passed S.1867. The bill is called the National Defense Authorization Act (see full text[1]). While lengthy as many pieces of legislation are (even I have yet to slug through it), sources a divergent as the ACLU[2] and WIRED magazine have decried certain language in the legislation that is currently making its way to the House of Representatives. According to sources, the bill allows, in the words of NewsVoice[3] the entire USA to be a ”battleground” upon which U.S. military forces can operate with impunity, overriding Posse Comitatus [grants] the military the unchecked power to arrest, detain, interrogate and even assassinate U.S. citizens with impunity.” In other words, the U.S. senate wants to perpetuate the dismal failures in Iraq and Afghanistan here in the U.S. That poses a question: Why would the senate pass such a bill, and why now?

Occupy Wall Street and Support Movements

For the sake of brevity, the Senate is full of lawyers. Part of their training is Criminological Theory. That includes discussions on Merton’s Strain Theory (and deviance), and to a lesser degree Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Merton describes four stages towards revolution. This was not by design, but living in 1938 he took into account what was happening in Germany during that era.

The five stages of deviance[4] according to Merton are:

  1. Conformity
  2. Innovation
  3. Ritualism
  4. Retreatism
  5. Rebellion

To understand the Senate’s response to Occupy Wall Street, one has to understand how they have been taught to view the actions of the movement. The key to that are in the last three steps.

It is pretty much a given that the Western World is in a financial mess. This was caused by unscrupulous lenders writing bad loans[5], bundling those in with good loans and selling off the Dirty Paper (High Risk Financial Instruments passed off as safe investments, a.k.a Toxic Asset[6]) as if it was good. To any sane criminologist, that would be called Innovation. Suffice it to say that the acceptable means to accruing wealth were faltering and certain bankers got “creative.” The creativity was ill conceived and has created suffering upon others for the personal gain of the very few. That tends to be a classic definition of crime, by the way.

In response to this mess members in society have pretty much divided into two camps. One camp goes about their lives as they have, but have little hope of achievement. This is ritualism. This pretty much describes the actions of the police in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, New York, Boston, Chicago and other locations (as of this writing Occupy Boston is the last major Occupy Camp in existence—even if the Boston Police Department arrested their kitchen sink[7]). They will even mimic the American Dream theory as if it a magical mantra warding off the evils of the age.

@DevineJim Jim Devine @cliffpotts @NoAdhominem2 Actually I would think they want them to go look for jobs and live the American dream … #ows[8]

For clarification: the American Dream is a fantasy for most (see other blog entries[9]).

The other camp (no pun intended) is the Occupy Wall Street Movement as a whole. As seen through the criminologist viewfinder, the attempt to create an alternative society within the mainstream society[10] is classic Retreatism. The protestors are seen as rejecting the socially accepted goals, and the socially accepted means to obtain those goals. Everything (housing, clothing, food, participatory government) becomes a challenge, if not condemnation, of the current status quo within Western Society. This perceived move towards retreatism, however, may be a wrong assessment, but to congress it is leading to a mass rebellion.

This is where Maslow’s Hierarchy[11] comes into play. People who are operating at a fear of loss level are not thinking in terms of friendship or respect. They fear the loss of control of the people, and the loss of privilege, and by extrapolation the loss of income. Succinctly put, they fear the consent of the governed. As such they are not acting wisely for the nation. They are acting for themselves (see payroll tax discussion[12]).

The Senate get it Wrong … Again.

Truth is, Congress, and the Ritualist, are wrong about Occupy Wall Street. The protestors who Occupy are not engaged in retreatism. They are engaged in public, social innovation. They have learned to live with their own loss. Accepting that loss they are trying to get the government to accept the responsibility of addressing the criminal behavior, and the criminals who committed the massive fraud. The Occupation is the counter movement rejecting the criminal innovation that created this mess in the first place.

Bully with a Billy Club … or Riot Baton

Congress, and the Ritualist, are using the police to coerce the Occupation into accepting the edicts of the criminal element controlling the nation. This is unlike what happened in the 1930s under FDR. As a nation, we’ve yet to realize that the actions of the past 40[13] years have led to this financial and economic fiasco.

This innovation, which came about after the Nixon Shock (see note 13), has brought us to this point in history. Furthermore, based on the work in 2000 by Mark Colvin in his Crime and coercion: an integrated theory of chronic criminality,[14] beating people into submission will not work. Bullies do that. It does not work in the school yard, and will not work with the constituents in the street.

We Owe Them, They Own Us

The final rub in all this is that Congress knows that it too is in debt to the same financial institutions, and the loan sharks of the nation. It turns out that congress dipped into their till to finance the colonial wars to expand commercial influence in the Middle East. U.S. Bankers hold more than half of the U.S. debt.[15] They are demanding to get paid. And, one doesn’t throw ones banker in jail because he is demanding to get paid. Little things like fraud and usury have to be ignored for the sake of ethical consideration, right? The U.S. Senate seems to think so. In addition to assault, unlawful restraint, torture, trafficking in contraband, sex trade, slavery, and other high crimes, congress seems to think that lawlessness is lawful as long as they put a stamp of approval on it.



[1] http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:S.1867:

[2] http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/senators-demand-military-lock-american-citizens-battlefield-they-define-being

[3] http://newsvoice.se/2011/12/02/us-senate-declares-the-entire-usa-to-be-a-battleground/

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_K._Merton#Merton.27s_theory_of_deviance

[5] http://mortgage-modification-attorney.com/banker-admits-making-bad-loans/

[6] http://www.investopedia.com/terms/t/toxic-assets.asp#axzz1faqQbMRP

[7] http://m.ibtimes.com/police-raid-occupy-boston-camp-remove-kitchen-260461.html

[8] This morning, December 4, 2011, on Twitter

[9] http://cliffordallenpotts.blogspot.com/2011/11/why-protest.html

[10] http://inthesetimes.com/article/12241/voices_from_the_occupations

[11] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs

[12] http://www.whitehouse.gov/economy/jobsact/calculator

[13] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixon_Shock

[14] http://books.google.com/books?id=M65wB4qHN5YC&pg=PA115&lpg=PA115&dq=crime+and+coercion+mark+colvin&source=bl&ots=vwr80KgkMW&sig=jt7FO2bUWGPGSRStd1d8QqzKCdI&hl=en&ei=6pPbTqG3I8jm2gXn8r22Dg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&sqi=2&ved=0CEsQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q&f=false

[15] http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2011/07/21/who-owns-america-hint-its-not-china/