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Belmont Club

Man Without a Country

August 16th, 2014 - 3:59 pm

The statement of the convenience store owner allegedly robbed by Michael Brown seemed almost straight out of a 1950s TV show. The owner, of subcontinental or Middle Eastern appearance on the robbery surveillance tape,  issued a statement to the public through his lawyers. Leave me out of it.

The store’s owners, through their attorney, sent the message that they want to stay as far away from the situation as possible. In fact, he said, even after the initial alleged theft, it was a customer who called police.

“It’s not about them. They didn’t call the police, they didn’t ask the police to come and take the video,” said attorney Jay Kanzler….

Now, the Ferguson Market owners are hoping the video won’t make them a target.

“They would hope that the people of this community, who have consistently supported them, would continue to support them, and realize that whatever the police are looking at on the surveillance tapes has nothing to with what went on in the streets,” said Kanzler.

Target of whom? And won’t the cops protect him? Think of Robert Stack playing Eliot Ness uttering standard Golden Age lines about the melting pot based on truth and justice.  In the early part of the 20th century people saw the future as countries.

Ness: “Now Salvatore, tell us what you saw.”
Salvatore: “No  Mr. Ness. I no a-talk to the the police. In the old-ah country I learn that it’s-a better to mind your own business.”
Ness: “Salvatore, this is America. The police protect you here. We have courts. We have justice.”
Salvatore: “I prefer the old a-ways Mr Ness.”

The Ebola epidemic showed that most people don’t trust authority in West Africa. And perhaps that’s true in most places. In only a few countries would people say, “help police”. Most places they say, “help, it’s the police!” The national myth of the 1950s was that America could be different from the old country. But by the looks of it the convenience store operator doesn’t trust either the police, Al Sharpton or Eric Holder.

Shop owners appeared later in the day armed to the teeth.  Further photos of this shop owner depict him being reinforced by people who look like his cousin, brother or near relation similarly equipped.

I trust Mikhail and Eugene

I trust Mikhail and Eugene, the police and human decency, not so much

Tribalism is trending.  The End of History world is over. All of a sudden it matters again whether you’re Yazidi, Kurdish, Sunni, Shi’ite, Druze or Christian. It apparently matters whether you’re Russian or non-Russian, at least in Eastern Europe. And as Tolu Ongulesi in Nigeria notes, tribalism is alive and well in Africa, especially now that Ebola is running rampant.

Perhaps there is the answer to the rhetorical question in yesterday’s post.

That the current system is in flux is no longer in doubt. What everyone wants to know is where the attractor is. “In dynamical systems, an attractor is a set of physical properties toward which a system tends to evolve.” Where is the world going? Who is going to lead it?

History may be evolving away from the Westphalian State, with its unitary national culture, flags and traditions and moving towards affinity groups whose allegiance is primarily to themselves;  which only form temporary alliances based on expedience in competition with other affinity groups.

The evidence is suggestive. Nobody is just an “American” any more. Anyone who insists on the plain identifier must be a secret bigot. You are a [modifier][-][American]. In fact, Forbes noted that “the number of Americans renouncing United States citizenship or terminating long-term residency is on a record pace.” And why not? The unadorned term “American” is being drained of meaning; what value there is lies in the prefix, not in the suffix.

“Mr Ness, I used to be a-proud of just being an American. Now people say, ‘what’s a-that?’”

And it’s not just America. Other countries are in similar case. It’s amusing to read the papers bemoaning how many ‘Norwegians’, ‘Germans’ or ‘Scotsmen’ are joining ISIS and vowing to make the black flag of the Jihad fly over the Westminster or the White House. But what they really mean is that the Jihadi  holds a Norwegian, German or British passport. Nationality has become reduced to documentation. To suggest otherwise is, well, racist.

The Left for its part, has done its level best to multiply the hyphens while simultaneously trying to increase the size and power of the central state. They little realized or perhaps they realized all too well, that a program of cultural fragmentation combined with growing central power is the high road to dictatorship. You can have cultural diversity and a strong central government but not both — not unless it’s headed by a Sultan or an Emperor.

Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner notes that cultural diversity requires federalism. He argues that most of the problems in Washington are the result of tryng to combine fragmentation at the bottom with centralism at the top. Washington politics is gridlocked because governance from the center is impossible as the hyphens are multiplied indefinitely.

It may sound pedestrian to point out, but it’s critical to restate why it’s so important that our nation is called the United States of America, and not simply America.

The full name emphasizes that the Founders viewed the nation not as one monolithic entity but as a union of sovereign entities delegating limited powers to a central government….

There has been a lot of handwringing in recent years about how divided Washington is, and how it’s difficult for the parties to come together on anything. But the reality is that the states are divided among themselves.

The architecture of the Constitution offers a natural solution to this problem. Instead of trying to solve every issue at the national level, power should be shifted back to the states. Those states whose residents are willing to pay higher taxes for more government services should be free to do so, as should states whose residents are willing to forgo government benefits in favor of lower taxes. Under such a system, instead of bitterly hashing out every issue in Washington, Congress could be focusing on a limited range of issues.

It’s clear that liberals don’t see things this way. But it should be no surprise that their efforts to impose one-size-fits-all solutions across the nation encounter so much resistance.

Washington has become a battleground between the hyphens instead of the meeting place between the states. The Left is addicted to centralization but it won’t give up the hyphens. The result is either paralysis or the alternative, diktat.

Who controls Washington? Who controls the Ferguson police? Not the shop owners at least. After national attention forced the Ferguson cops to withdraw from the streets on charges of racism, the looters and store owners were left to duke it out between themselves pending the resolution of the problem in Washington and in the national media.

Politics is becoming about identity all the time. Wired links to the ethnic map of the United States.

In Chicago, bands of whites, blacks, and Latinos radiate out from the city center like sun beams. In St. Louis, a buffer of a few blocks separates a vast area of largely black citizens from another of white and Asian ones. In Detroit, the most segregated city in America according to one recent study, there’s no buffer at all. We see how 8 Mile Road serves as the dividing line between two largely homogenous swaths–one predominantly white and one predominantly black.

Nor is this all. There are affinity groups which cut across ethnicity based on sexual orientation, religion, level of disability, age and degree of dependence on one industry or the other, including government. This creates a bewildering landscape of interests and competing loyalties. The Democrats believe that the key to understanding the wilderness they’ve created is Big Data and its interface, social media. But if hyphenation — indeed multiple hyphenation — is the future, then Washington may be in the past.

In some parts of the world, the nation state is the future. What do Kurds want, except Kurdistan? What do the Palestinians want but Palestine?  What do Jews aspire to except “next year in Jerusalem, the rebuilt”? Everyone’s dream, even of women qua women, according to Virginia Woolf,  is A Room of One’s Own. This is in contrast to the administration’s line about the southern border: America is  ”A Room Not One’s Own”. While nations are burgeoning elsewhere, concepts like “America”, “England” or “Norway” seem on the way out. In those places, the national identity is in the past.

What if nations’, as traditionally defined, are now passe? Suppose we are moving to a future where Westphalian nationality is nominal and operational identity is associated with a primary affinity group (PAG)? The most obvious candidate PAG is money. The tribe of the executive airport lounge, first class seating and the non-motel hotel. Some believe it is now possible to speak of a transnational elite whose real citizenship is money.

Or perhaps the PAG will be defined by values, religion, or membership in a mutual protection association into which you pay dues, like the military, police or ISIS. If this is the future then the dominant attractor of 21st century will be self-identification. Then we are not watching the last religious or ideological wars, merely the first.

The Westphalian veneer is peeling off in places where it’s just been painted on. In Liberia, there are ministers, directors of health, people with fancy titles, just like anywhere else. All the furniture of the nation state. But in reality these are artificial ornaments overlaid on an ancient fabric.  The Daily Beast describes how the personal intervention of a senior Liberian bureaucrat made a mockery of quarantine regulations.  Buzzfeed has a terrifying account of how a mob looted an Ebola hospital in Liberia’s West Point township.

The calendar says we’re in the first part of the 21st century. But whether AD or BC nobody has specified.  The Liberians didn’t trust the police. They didn’t trust the health ministry, with reason since many “isolation centers” were merely places for people to die.  They are heartbreaking scenes compounded of compassion, necessity, poverty and ignorance. So some looters figured the best thing to do was run off with the beds, towels and equipment of the Ebola hospital.  What could go wrong?

A mob descended on the center at around 5:30 p.m., chanting, “No Ebola in West Point! No Ebola in West Point!” They stormed the front gate and pushed into the holding center. They stole the few gloves someone had donated this morning, and the chlorine sprayers used to disinfect the bodies of those who die here, all the while hollering that Ebola is a hoax.

They ransacked the protective suits, the goggles, the masks. They destroyed part of Tarplah’s car as he was fleeing the crowd. Jemimah Kargbo, a health care worker at a clinic next door, said they took mattresses and bedding, utensils and plastic chairs.

“Everybody left with their own thing,” she said. “What are they carrying to their homes? They are carrying their deaths.”

She said the police showed up but the crowd intimidated them.

“The police were there but they couldn’t contain them. They started threatening the police, so the police just looked at them,” she said.  And then mob left with all of the patients.

“What are they carrying to their homes? They are carrying their deaths.” When they start feeling bad in a few days it will just be bad luck.

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Top Rated Comments   
One could argue that the Westphalian State is not dying, but rather returning to its roots. Circa 1648 when the treaties that ended the 30 Years War were signed, the new concept of states did share one thing. In the main citizens of whatever state came into being had a shared culture and belief system. They were a nation and looked to their government to share that culture and belief system . . . . and defend them and their people. If there was an aspect of a melting pot involved, it was allowed to melt; not kept artificially separate. If it was kept separate, it soon was separate.

And those attempting to form nations now, such as Kurdistan, wish to do so for the same, Westphalian, reasons.

Looking at our own country, even if you are not a believer in the concept of TWANLOC; can you honestly say that the government of our country gives an obese rodent's gluts about the mainstream culture of the American people? Or their belief system? Or the Constitution? Or that they could honestly say that they would defend the people, culture, or the Constitution with a straight face and a metric butt-load [477.33945 liters] of weasel words?

If you cannot trust your government, at any level, the rational response is to rally with those you can trust.

And there is a certain inevitable chain of actions that follow.

When in the Course of human events . . . .

Subotai Bahadur
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Washington politics is gridlocked because governance from the center is impossible as the hyphens are multiplied indefinitely.

Say rather that governance from the center is broken when the hypens multiply, because there is no principle by which one hypen may impose on another. American centralized government was always supposed to be a buy-in, not an imposition. Hyphens represent tribal conflict, Arab rules: me against my brother, my family against the tribe, my tribe against the others.


We are apparently having race war and ethnic cleansing here in Los Angeles, but as it so far involves only a small and obscure neighborhood the MSM is ignoring it. Apparently all blacks seen entering a certain latino neighborhood are immediately shot. Apparently whites and asians are given a pass, for now.

But aren't we all in the USA without a country as long as the Obamanation continues? No southern border. Invaders are being spread throughout the country and all localities are commanded to feed, house, and educate them. They are apparently immune to some or all other laws as well.

Shhh, nobody mention it. Ukraine. Gaza. Golf. Ferguson. Look, there goes a squirrel.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
The "Palestinians" do not want a Palestine. They want Israel. They want her drawn and quartered and served up for an orgy. After that they would have to look for another victim.

Totalism is Totalitarianism on steroids. Mao was a Totalist. The idea is to make the individual vanish in the sea of the State as personified in the Leader. That is done by fragmenting society and breaking all the attachments individuals form independent of state authority. Those attachments what we call Civil Society. Alexis de Tocqueville understood how important those voluntary associations are to a democratic society.

The hyphenated attachments that the Left have promoted are not those of a Civil Society but are designed to break the mutual connections that form spontaneously. They are rivals to the links of community and commerce and mutual respect that a free society form without government control. The Community Organizers and Leaders who promote these identifications, and who also foment conflict with other identities below those of the Totalist Soveriegn, are not representatives of the isolated individual. The Sharptons and Obamas are emissaries of the centralizer in power who deliver the isolated individuals to the Collective. The hyphenated identities are promoted as a means to weaken society. Once that goal is achieved then any identity that threatens the collective would be suppressed.

The affinity between Islamists and Communists and other cult leaders and control freaks is natural, until they have eliminated the threat of a functioning Civil Society that could use the state as a subservient tool to resist a threat. Would be Totalists seek to induce submission to a central authority. Islam means submission.

That is why those who seek to control the tools of government to dominate are more motivated than those who only seek to have the government available to use when strictly needed. In Gaza Hamas took power not to develop the local society but to harness it as a tool to attack a rival. In Iraq ISIS is not motivated to accommodate peoples hyphenated identities once they have been absorbed. They use their tools to destroy rival identities. In Texas the Democrats use their control over a county DA's office to harass and attack the associations and limited government their rivals adhere to.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
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Super interesting link. According to a 2008 indictment, The Ferguson, Missouri store Michael Brown robbed likely financed Palestinian Islamic terrorism and was used as a front to illegally transfer funds to entities in the Palestinian Authority.

Sheds a completely different light on the convenience store's statement and suggests entirely different possible reasons for the odd behavior of the Obama administration.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here in America, we get to pick our tribes. I joined the Marine Corps tribe in 1987 and, although retired, remain loyal. The choice was based on a belief system just as true Americans believe in our Constitutional form of government. My tribe members were white, black, asian, latino, male, female, christian, jew atheist and yes, sometimes muslim. Didn't matter, character and ability meant everything and differences meant nothing.

A tribe's strength is one of its greatest features with regard to membership. In the inner city, the police MIGHT come for you but the gangs will ALWAYS come for you, therefore the gangs are a stronger tribe.

When the national income tax was imposed, power shifted from the state tribe to the federal tribe. The federal tribe stole the state tribe's juju because it was where the money source was located and so too the power that came with doling out the cheese. A re-shifting of power can be obtained by repealing the income tax and shuttering the numerous federal bureaucracies. Individual citizens are the source of federal money so the people should not have to beg for their own money, the fed should come hat-in-hand to the people for their operating budgets.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
The first thought that popped into my head as I read Richard's post was, "my tribe is green, USMC green."

27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well said. Thank you, and OldSalt, and Teresite, and all the other vets, for your service to our country. Semper Fi.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Talk about tribalism on steroids--I didn't crosscheck this anywhere, it might be an Onion-type parody (notice how the Onion has replaced Monty Python as the archtype of comedy for the younger generation? I'd feel sorry for them, but they voted for 0), but it also might just be the logical end point of Feminism:

Regarding Ferguson--I'm withholding judgement until more facts are known, but the way its been hyped by the MSM bear a striking resemblance to what happened with Zimmerman. I am reminded of what I noticed in the early 90s, in Western MA, where I occasionally gave a house mate rides into town for her to attend anti-war rallies. If we were there early enough, everyone was just hanging around, smoking and joking--but when the cameras were rolling, it looked like a spontaneous, disorganized, expression of visceral opposition to Desert Storm. It wasn't, it was staged--all these old hippy/international Communist types came out of the woodwork and "offered" their advice to the undergrads about how to protest etc. The whole thing was fake. Makes me wonder if something similar isn't happening here in Ferguson, and if so, who is behind it, financing it, etc?

27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
The architecture of the Constitution offers a natural solution to this problem. Instead of trying to solve every issue at the national level, power should be shifted back to the states. Those states whose residents are willing to pay higher taxes for more government services should be free to do so, as should states whose residents are willing to forgo government benefits in favor of lower taxes. Under such a system, instead of bitterly hashing out every issue in Washington, Congress could be focusing on a limited range of issues.

Unfortunately, Klein seems to be giving the little dears too much benefit of the doubt.

The reason Washington has become this all-consuming maw of tax dollars and power -- the reason Washington focuses on an unlimited range of issues (remember when Congress wanted to regulate the BCS? college football championships? seriously?) -- is that they want it that way.

They're not totalitarians because they try to politicize and control every aspect of Americans' lives. They try to politicize and control every aspect of Americans' lives because they're totalitarians.

Witness how the 14th Amendment has been (and is being) used as a club to pulverize the 10th Amendment.

Witness how many TWANLOCs wearing the garb of fellow Americans are just fine and dandy with the federal government compelling citizens to purchase a product just because those citizens live and breathe -- and then penaltaxing them if they don't.

Lincoln said: "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master."

There appear to be in this country tens of millions of people who vote (and tens of millions more who don't bother to vote) who are fine with master-slave arrangements. Claiming that goods and services like education, housing, health care and jobs are "rights" is endorsing slavery. If it takes someone else labor and/or resources to produce, then it isn't a "right." It isn't something to be claimed and appropriated -- not by the individual, not by the state.

And yet look how far out of whack are people's notions of what a "right" is and isn't. Something as basic to the ability to participate in a representative government as being able to understand and articulate the proper boundaries between citizen and citizen, between citizen and government -- tens and tens of millions of Americans can't even do this.

And yet they are given the vote. Not a few of them hold public office. Write the laws. Are charged with enforcing the laws.

And we are bound to them, these people who have NO BASIC CONCEPT of rights (and therefore, liberty), due to confluences of timing, birth and geography. We are bound and chained to them, and so either they will drag us kicking and screaming down with them, or we will drag them kicking and screaming up with us.

"If you love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen." -- Samuel Adams
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
OT: Meanwhile back in the world Debka is telling a remarkably powerful and even hopeful story:

To the degree this is true the locals have formed a committee to solve their own problems, with secondary backing from Saudi Arabia and Russia. Specifically excluded are Turkey, John F. Kerry, and Europe. It is seen as a positive in allowing Obambus distance from the whole mess.

A nice story, but it is Debka so doubt remains, and it is the Middle East where things change constantly and certainly not always for the best.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
This comment has been reported. Read it anyway. I'm going to start my comments with that phrase from now on, just to protest in the style of the old DaDa absurdist art movement.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Teresita complained: "We both get reported. What happens next will determine whether I stay here."

Stay. Go. Your choice. Either way, the world will continue.

I don't mean to seem unfeeling. Just trying to describe the world the way it is.

If this sounds jaundiced, it is because the comments on Wretchard's blog -- which used to be one of my 'can't miss' things -- no longer garner much enthusiasm. Wretchard's writing goes from strength to strength -- still definitely 'can't miss'; the comments -- not so much.

The decline seemed to start when PJM brought in the "Reply" function. Cause or coincidence? At this point, what difference does it make?
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
The discussions deteriorate when commentators use them to repeatedly flog their own agendas. What is needed is greater focus on Wretchard's remarks: on the subject at hand. It is, after all, his blog.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
seems to me the common thread is theft.

obola clinic overrun. everything in sight stolen.
ferguson storefront demolished, everything in sight stolen
la riots = ditto
french riots = ditto
british riots = ditto
anywhere riots = ditto

there is your common link, o.p.s. (other people's stuff).
people flooding across the border, gov. hands out info on how to apply for free stuff.

I guarantee you, start cutting down on the free stuff handed out w/ those e.b.t. cards and you will see murder and mayhem. this ain't about peoples' rights, or the police, or you or me or any of those other excuses used to make one feel sorry for what is happening. this is about o.p.s., otherwise known as free stuff, plain and simple.

wise men once warned us about the prospects of a society coming to the realization that the enablers we elect to be in charge in can legislate theft. you can't fill this desire for o.p.s. w/ talk. sooner or later its going to need boots on the ground. that's exactly what our little nero is waiting for to declare nation-wide martial law. then we will see if there are enough real Americans left to put us back on track. hope so.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Quite right.
No such thing as ideology.
Groups form to exploit opportunities, the words come later.
Those words' trial and error eventually form a game plan, and a hierarchy.
The group structure then becomes its own attractor.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The architecture of the Constitution offers a natural solution to this problem. Instead of trying to solve every issue at the national level, power should be shifted back to the states. Those states whose residents are willing to pay higher taxes for more government services should be free to do so, as should states whose residents are willing to forgo government benefits in favor of lower taxes. Under such a system, instead of bitterly hashing out every issue in Washington, Congress could be focusing on a limited range of issues."

Gotta love our Founding Fathers. Every classroom in the United States of America should have this on our walls.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Abolish the 17th Amendment.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just a few of the reasons we find ourselves in a fix. 1. A deep and lengthy job robbing worldwide recession/depression. 2. Collapse of Communism and the Soviet Union. 3. Rise of Islamic grievances festering and suppressed since the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 4. Coarsening of society and loss of western values following two brutal world wars in a post-Christian west. In short, we're in the crapper at this moment in history.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
BHO spent the first year of his Presidency apologizing for US greatness and exceptionalism, and then the next five years making sure it never happened again.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
6. Unchecked wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. IOW basic human nature.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Remarkably spot on.
Somebody put a lot of thought into that list.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
5. Over reliance on a credit driven growth model.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
That too!
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
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