There are two news stories tonight that, in my mind at least, are tenuously linked. The first is the attempted launch of the North Korean rocket, and the other is remembrance of the tragedy of the space shuttle Challenger.
North Korea is the most pathetic, monstrous, absurd and criminal government on the face of the Earth. It is a socialist throwback to the worst days of Stalinist and Maoist communism, and of Mussolini and Hitler fascism, which, as I have said before, were essentially the same thing. The government of North Korea is nothing but a gang of thugs and lunatics in possession of a national cult of worship and obedience. The people of North Korea, poor souls that they are, have been victimized, hypnotized, and cowed into a submission that outstrips the worst days of Russian serfdom and American slavery.
Yesterday, North Korea attempted to launch a multistage rocket (which is a precursor to an ICBM that it would have sold on the terrorist market), ostensibly to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the founder of that pseudo-state, and, by extension, the ascension to hegemony of its new twenty-seven year old leader, whose only qualification for office is the bed in which he was conceived. North Korea has become the personal fiefdom of the Kim family, just as Cuba has become the property of the Castro family, and Syria that of the Assad family, passed from father to son (or brother) in the same shameful way that medieval kingdoms were passed from one generation of a family to another. This is an archaic model of governance that should have long gone the way of astrology and alchemy, but which somehow remains a tottering and tragic anachronism in our own time.
The North Korean launch, apparently, has failed. And as I watch the gloating reports of the failure, I cannot but reflect that people will be shot in the aftermath of this public humiliation of the Mafia-style clique that controls that starving and benighted country. By this time tomorrow, servile scientists will have been singled out for prison, torture and death because of this technological fiasco. They will die in the wake of their coerced service to the brutes who masquerade as the leaders of North Korea.
And then I watch reports, provoked by the failure, of the loss of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986. I learned of the tragedy while I was in Belgium, pursuing a lead in my research into the assassination of President Kennedy. The people with whom I was staying woke me with the news, communicated to me in French, that "le Challenger s'est explose." I recall being uncertain at first how to respond, preoccupied as I was with the central mystery of American history in the twentieth century.
It was only later, when I had had time to read about and reflect on the tragedy, that it began to become clear to me that, whatever had happened to the Challenger in the air, those astronauts were probably still alive when the command module hit the water. And that they may have remained alive as it sank into the depths of the Atlantic. To quote from the conclusions of the investigative panel summarized in its report::
The findings are inconclusive. The impact of the crew compartment with the ocean surface was so violent that evidence of damage occurring in the seconds which followed the disintegration was masked. Our final conclusions are:
the cause of death of the Challenger astronauts cannot be positively determined;
the forces to which the crew were exposed during Orbiter breakup were probably not sufficient to cause death or serious injury; and
the crew possibly, but not certainly, lost consciousness in the seconds following Orbiter breakup due to in-flight loss of crew module pressure.
Though there is clear evidence that at least some of the crew were still alive and operating the controls, it is likely that the concussion with the ocean surface killed the astronauts. But what if it did not? Yet, apparently, nothing was done to try to recover them as they lay strapped inside their vessel at the bottom of the ocean. They may simply have been allowed to die.
To this day I remain haunted by the possibility of those seven people strapped in their seats at the bottom of the ocean, waiting in vain for their government to save them. And that such is the fate of all of those who put their faith in government.
To my mind, these two news stories are overlapping phenomena of what government is and has always been and will always be: stupid, cowardly, brutish, self-serving and complacent. Willing to sacrifice others for the sake of its own survival. Ready to lie about or let die those whose lives, for one reason or another, threaten its bloated existence.
This is the nature of government, about which our Founding Fathers warned us. This is the monster of government which they sought to restrain even as they imposed it upon us. And this is the government which too many of us now worship and have confidence in and invite into our lives for the sake of a phony idea of fairness, which is nothing but the watchword of tyranny.
A post script: Writing this post has caused me to reflect:
Government is the enemy of free people. If you would retain your liberty, you must restrain your government. That was the message of the Founders, and that is the idea, and the ideal, which is being strangled to death by those currently in power in this country.
Recognizing government as a necessary evil in people's lives, the Founders struggled mightily to devise a form of it that would remain limited in its powers, and check itself with internal balances. Their goal, clearly, was to create for Americans the smallest government necessary to maintain social order and the national defense. How one extrapolates from that intent to, for example, confiscatory taxes, trillions of dollars of national debt, government subsidized contraception, a constitutional right to abortion, and federally mandated health insurance is beyond my understanding.
During the recent debt ceiling crisis, the president announced with characteristically studied impassiveness that if the government were to shut down, over 70 million government checks might not be issued. I was stunned by this bland assertion. That amounts to about one in four Americans receiving checks from the federal government.
Governor Christie's recent warning that we are becoming a nation of people sitting on our couches and waiting for the next government check is apt. I have never in my life received a check from the government, unless it was a tax refund in my early years, which amounted to nothing more than repayment of a yearlong interest-free loan that I had made to the government against my will. Yet now nearly twenty-five percent of Americans are the recipients of government largesse, while forty-nine percent pay no taxes at all. And the liberals talk about "fairness"? Where is the fairness in that?
No, it must stop. While those of us who still work and pay taxes and struggle for our families remain in the majority - a majority that is shrinking with every passing day - we must do something. And what we must do, it seems to me, is clear.
We must turn out of office every incumbent running this year. We must impose term limits at every level of government. We must cut government spending - and by that I mean real cuts, not the reduction in the growth of spending which the pols routinely pass off as cuts. We must cap the rate of growth of the federal government. And we must finally pass a balanced budget amendment to force the Congress to live within its means.
Removing the professional politicians and cutting off the unlimited flow of tax dollars to the government are essential to recovering control of our debt and of the reins of power in our nation. If we fail to do so, starting with this year's election, I fear that we will drown in debt even amid the assurances of the politicians and the press that things are getting better, and so business may go on as usual.
That, it seems to me, is a recipe for the demise of the Republic which the Founders created for us as our legacy to the future of the world.