Posts Tagged ‘Philosophy’

Voter Ignorance Driving “Controversy”

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

ignorance_no_excuse_ftIn most presidential primary seasons, and indeed, most presidential elections, the actual process is invisible to most voters.  Most don’t know many details, and in most years, it doesn’t really matter much. In 2016, it’s different, and the reason it’s different is because the Republican Party is deeply divided.  Most primary cycles conclude with one candidate or another attaining the crucial majority of delegates between mid-March and mid-April.  This year, that’s not the case, and because of it, the true process has become illuminated more than usual, such that many voters, either having never participated before, or having been clueless participants in cycles of the past, now see something that’s always been there, but react to it as though it’s alien to them, the country, or the party in question.  The process isn’t alien, abnormal, or otherwise different in any substantive way, but for those who’ve been drive-thru participants in the past, they’re very shocked by the existence of a process that’s been normal for nearly two centuries, though they’re just learning of it now.  I wonder how many of these people paid any attention in civics class in high school.  I wonder how many civics class teachers failed even to mention it.  Whatever the case, as the old saying goes, “ignorance of the law is no excuse,” but rephrased for this election process, it’s not just the law of which voters have claimed ignorance, but of the entire underlying process by which the Republican Party selects its nominees.  My aim here is to alleviate that ignorance, primarily because I’m tired of this phony “controversy.”

As the first order of business, let’s establish some facts, whether we like them or not, so we can work our way through from there:

  • Political parties are private organizations.  They have their own rules, bylaws, and procedures. Their internal processes are theirs and theirs alone. The candidate the party selects is the party’s choice, but not truly the choice of voters
  • Our nation IS NOT a democracy, never has been, and had never been intended to be. Neither are the political parties (a much earlier article that covers this subject in full is here)
  • The Republican Party at the national level does not have full control of the Republican Party in each state, though it exercises some control via the national convention and the rules committee.
  • Most delegates for most states’ parties are bound in some number of national convention ballots, varying by state, but this doesn’t always mean what people think it means

These concepts have been true and available to inspection for every person who is alive today in the United States for their whole lifetime, and generations before. There are rules changes periodically, but the underlying process has not changed much since at least the nomination of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. What our contemporary electorate needs to understand is that in our system of government, their votes for President are a recommendation to the Electoral College, but not a mandate.  Their votes in primaries serve as a recommendation to the parties, but these votes are not fully binding on the parties.  This may surprise a drive-thru participant in public affairs.  If one has educated him/herself, one ought to have known better all along.  This list of bullet-points may seem like a negative thing to one who is ignorant, but if one understood the intentions of our constitution’s framers, one will understand it also because one understood it all along, having bothered to inform his/herself.

Before new readers have a walleyed hissy-fit because it seems that I’m calling so many voters “ignorant,”I want you to understand that there’s a qualitative difference between “ignorance” and “stupidity.” Ignorance is simply not having the requisite information.  Stupidity is the failure to seek to alleviate one’s ignorance due to a lack of intelligence.  Foolish mischief and prideful stubbornness result in the failure to seek to alleviate one’s ignorance for the sake of maintaining one’s internally contradictory opinion.  Ignorance can be alleviated with a modicum of effort.  Before we recoil at the “discovery” of this “hidden process,” perhaps we should actually seek to know and understand it.  In any event, the level of ignorance among registered Democrats is several magnitudes worse.  Most of them haven’t bothered even to read the Constitution.

Since the beginning of the Republican Party, it has always decided who its nominee for the Presidential election would be through a series of states’ conventions with a delegate process that has always, always varied from state to state.  The truth is, as a Republican, there’s only one state about which you really need to care: Yours!  If you want to be an elections analyst, or you’re merely very curious and hold an intense interest in public affairs,  you might want to know all the others, but it requires a lot of study. Since the various states change their rules from time to time, and since new state statutes and constitutional amendments in those states affect those rules from time to time, it is always in flux.  It is always evolving.  It always has.  It always will.  That is part of the dynamic condition of the sort of constitutional, representative republic our framers had designed.  If it ever ceases to evolve, you will know that the party has failed entirely, and probably the country as well.

All the state parties, to maintain their charters as recognized constituents of the RNC, must abide by some general rules, and agree to the rules set by the national party.  Those rules can cause the state parties to adjust their own rules so they can maintain compliance.  An example of this was Colorado, which in August 2015, changed its rules in order to protect its interests in the national convention.  Let’s see if we can get this straight, shall we?  In 2012, Colorado’s GOP held a “straw poll” to seek the recommendation of the voters at large.  That state-wide straw poll had never been binding before, but because of the RNC’s rule changes, it would have to be binding if they wanted to hold a straw poll.  In other words, delegates selected by the state party would be forced by RNC rules to go to the candidates according to the results of the straw poll, effectively converting the state from a Caucus system, to a primary election system.  The Colorado Republican Party didn’t want to be constrained in that fashion, because they feared being stuck with delegates bound to a candidate no longer in the race.  Just as now, there are delegates bound to Rubio and others who are no longer in the race, and they will be obliged to vote for those candidates on the first ballot at the convention.  Colorado didn’t want its delegates constrained in that fashion, so they changed their rules, as they are entitled.  They did so last August such that every campaign had time to know the rules and adjust accordingly. Some did, but some didn’t.

Speaking of ballots at the National Republican Convention in July, I suppose I need to cover this briefly, since it seems there is a good deal of confusion.  The way the national party, the RNC, selects the candidate who will be the party’s nominee is through a system of ballots.  (Votes, if you prefer.)  There are a total of 2,472 delegates in the Republican Party.  Half of that number is 1,236.  Add one(1,) and what you have is 1,237, also known as a “majority.” For those who are confused about this, it is important to remember that a “majority” does not mean “the most.” It means “one more than half.” A “plurality” is equal to “the most.” If the rule specified a “plurality” instead of a majority, then all a candidate would need to obtain is “the most” delegates.  (The highest total.)  The rules state, and have always, always stated, that a majority is required.  This is not something new to 2016, but it has become an issue of popular concern because there now exists a better than even chance that no candidate will make the 1,237 delegate mark.

Now, in the electoral college, in the actual general election on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November, the candidate who obtains a plurality of electoral college votes is the winner, but here’s the bonus prize:  The electoral college doesn’t actually meet until December.  It is there that the new President of the United States is actually selected.  It is most often a rubber-stamp of what the electorate has recommended, because most states bind their electors to do so.  Nevertheless, it is possible, in some circumstances, for some elector or other to raise objections and to derail the rubber-stamping.  It’s not happened in American history yet, but it is possible for the Electoral College to discard the “will of the people” and select somebody else, strictly speaking.  It’s very, very unlikely. It is, however, possible. (For the record, this year’s presidential election falls on Tuesday the 8th of November, meaning this is one of those rare years in which the 1st of November falls on a Tuesday, such that the election gets bumped back to the second Tuesday of the month, because the Monday before the first Tuesday is the 31st of October.)

Returning to the national convention, let’s imagine one in which no candidate has obtained 1,237 bound delegates prior to the first ballot. It is still possible to win on that first ballot because there are usually some number of unbound delegates.  It simply depends upon how clever a negotiator one is, with respect to the unbound delegates, and how large a shortfall one has.  If nobody has obtained at least so many that with the addition of unbound delegates, they’re able to close the gap, what you now have is officially a “contested convention.”  Of course, it should also be stated again that something else is true: It is possible to have 1,237 or more bound delegates going into the convention, and still lose.  How can that happen?  Easy!  All it takes is that a candidate with 1,237 delegates has even one delegate abstain from the first ballot.  In other words, ultimately, nobody can actually be nominated with certainty until the convention. This is where the term “presumptive nominee” arises.  A presumptive nominee is a candidate who has obtained 1,237 bound delegates, but who hasn’t yet officially received the party’s nomination when the delegates cast their votes.   Even if you had all 2,472 delegates bound to you prior to the convention, if 1,236 of them abstain from the first ballot, what you have is a “contested convention.”  While highly, highly unlikely, even if a candidate somehow managed to have 2,000 or more delegates bound for the first ballot, it is strictly possible for that candidate to be defeated.  So you see, those who say that the “party chooses the nominee” are exactly, technically correct, and if the party is absolutely dead-set against a candidate, they have the ultimate ability to turn that candidate away.  That said, the party is not so likely to go this far to prevent the nomination of a candidate because it’s suicidal in an electoral sense.

One might wonder why a party would do so, or what justification there would be for denying a candidate the nomination.  One reason might be that some substantial proportion of the party finds the proposed nominee unacceptable for some reason, perhaps electability, or that the candidate’s long-term impact on the party might be substantially damaging to its ends. Whatever the case, it is possible, and has happened that the candidate who had “the most” delegates going into the convention wound up without the nomination.  This was true in 1860, when Abraham Lincoln actually went into the convention with the third highest delegate count.  If you wonder why John Kasich sticks around, here is your answer, (although Abe Lincoln, John Kasich clearly is not…) Of course, Kasich has another hurdle to clear as the rules now stand: He hasn’t won a majority of delegates in at least eight states. This is a requirement that was put in place four years ago. At present, Kasich has only won a majority of delegates in his home state, Ohio, and it’s likely the only state in which he will have won a majority of delegates by the time we get to the national convention in Cleveland, this July. Unless there is a change to rules, he won’t be eligible for nomination.

Yesterday evening, I read a story about a lawsuit against the GOP by Larry Klayman, of Freedom Watch, who you’ll probably remember/know from Judicial Watch lawsuits fame.  Klayman is an unabashed Trump supporter. His lawsuit against the GOP is over the fact that apparently, Florida delegates are bound for three(3) ballots.(In many states, it’s just one ballot, two in others, and none in states that don’t bind delegates at all.)  Freedom Watch is claiming that the delegates ought to be perpetually bound to Trump, but this is utter madness for a very obvious reason.  Let me explain Klyaman’s foolishness by way of an example:

Imagine arriving at the July convention with no candidate having obtained 1,237 bound delegates.  Further imagine that all states perpetually bound their candidates, so that no matter how many ballots they cast, they would always, always be compelled to vote for the same candidate.  How would the party ever obtain a nominee?  It couldn’t!  Think about this for a moment, and then you will realize that Freedom Watch’s foolish lawsuit is truly a nuisance lawsuit that belongs in the category of “frivolous” if ever a lawsuit belonged in that category.  His excuse, the “tort”(or “harm”) he cites in his suit, is that the people of Florida(of which he is one, thus alleging standing,) are being defrauded by the Florida and National GOP because they “held forth” that delegates will be bound.  In other words, he’s saying that because voters may not have informed themselves of the Party’s rules, they’re being defrauded.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is a toxic bit of political grand-standing, if ever there was one.  Any decent judge, of sound mind and judicial temperament, would bounce this case out of his/her courtroom faster than one can say “build a wall!” Is Klayman really alleging that he didn’t know the delegate rules for his state, and was therefore harmed?  That’s nearly the most preposterous thing I think I’ve read lately, but as I’m certain most readers will have observed, there’s no shortage of absurdity in this election cycle.

Having meandered through this whole topic a bit, I suppose I ought to conclude. My conclusion is as follows: The party selects its nominee – not the electorate – but the party tends to listen to the recommendations in various forms it has received from the electorate, where applicable.  All of this has been true for every election in my lifetime, the lifetime of my parents, and for many generations before. If a person older than, let’s be charitable and say twenty-six years of age, doesn’t know these facts and rules, it’s only possible because they have chosen never to engage themselves in discovering them.  I chose twenty-six because by then, a person should have participated in at least two presidential election cycles.  I don’t know if I knew all of this by the time I was twenty-six, but I am fairly certain I’ve known most of it since at least the age of thirty years.

It is amazing to me that people who are in their forties, fifties, and sixties now complain about this as though it’s all news to them.  The Internet has been around as a commonly accessible research tool for more than twenty years.  Most states and most state parties have had websites devoted to this information for most or all of that time.  To claim ignorance at this late date is to openly proclaim one’s complete lack of diligence.  If one can surf the web over to Ebay or Amazon, to make purchases, and so on, I don’t see how it’s possible that somebody who wanted to know this information was somehow denied access to it.  The election laws governing the states’ parties are generally available through each state’s Secretary of State website, where they may also provide links to the various parties operating in their state.  I encourage all Americans of voting age, or even younger, to learn and know at least the laws relevant in their particular states, and certainly the rules applicable to the party with which they choose to associate, if any.

The United States was established so that citizens could, through the various levels of government and attending political processes, participate fully in their own governance.  In short, being a citizen is supposed to be an active lifetime engagement for the people to determine the course of the nation.  in order to fully realize that participation, citizens should become familiar and remain up-to-date on the laws and rules applicable to their particular political interests and participation.  For most of my readers, most of this will not be news, although for perhaps some of the younger readers, it may be enlightening, but with all the, dare I say “trumped-up” controversy, I thought it critically necessary to clear the air on this issue.  Factually, this is the process.  You might not like it as is, but you have the ability to work to change it. If you think the existing parties cannot be reformed, you are also free in America to form your own and if you’re very successful, in a decade or two, you might be able to have grown it enough to have viable national candidates.  What is not true is that some giant magic “easy button” exists to  “fix things” instantaneously. Being an active citizen is something too few citizens actually do, and this is to the detriment of the country as a whole, and certainly to the parties in particular.  Ignorance of these facts leave too many Americans easy prey for demagogues, and it’s instructive to watch how, with the circumstance of the GOP nomination fight, so many Americans are easily led astray.  I dearly hope this will be a lesson for many, providing them the impetus to engage in the true blessing of self-governance in a thorough fashion they had never contemplated before.

Lastly, I would like to address the complaints of those who argue that it’s “too hard” or “too difficult” or that there is some situational constraint on one’s participation in the full political process.  I grant that at various times in our lives, it can be more and less difficult to find the time to fully participate, but I also know this: If most of us really wanted to do so, most of us could find a way.  What I’ve seen is that for many, complaining and stomping around is a good deal easier, and it satisfies the temporary emotional need.  That sort of laziness will never lead to change, however, and it’s high time that having informed oneself, each goes on to a full and unrelenting participation.

Editor’s Note: This article should not be seen as an endorsement of all aspects of the Republican Party’s rules or procedures, but instead a simple statement about the simpler fact that some form of these rules, with some variation, have been in place since the beginning of the party.  It’s also intended as a way to further that historical perspective and to alleviate some of the ignorance made plain by the reactions to this information by some people.  My intent is not to criticize the electorate at large, but to make them aware of these historical facts so that even should they fail in this election cycle to obtain their desired result, they will have no excuse for not being ready to fully participate in the next cycle, and to fight for those changes they believe are necessary. 

 

 

 

 

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Life Without Principles: The New America

Friday, February 12th, 2016

constitution_ablaze_ft

Given the feedback I’ve gotten over a previous column, both here and on Facebook, I’m inclined to believe that the country will not be salvaged or saved. What I’ve been told by people who I had long believed to be conservatives is that ideology is “BS.” Principles are worthless. Ideas and philosophy don’t matter. It’s all pointless babble, with no power to affect change, and that it must be discounted in favor of expedience, electioneering, and the perceived political exigencies of the moment.  I understand that there are people who find themselves in a place of complete and utter political disenfranchisement (welcome to my world,) but to suggest that ideas, principles, and philosophies don’t matter is to say nothing matters, not even life itself.  I was told in a Facebook comment today that I should be willing to set aside my principles for “the good of the country.”  What in the name of John Jacob Jingleheimer-Schmidt does that mean?  Without my principles, how am I to know what is “the good of the country?” Without my principles, I might consider “the good of the country” to be whatever I imagine on a whim. Do I surrender my principles to Donald Trump’s judgments? To Sarah Palin’s? Without principles, how do I know if any of them are right? How do I know? There are some people who I trust a good deal, but I don’t surrender my intellectual or moral sovereignty to anybody. Ever. For once, I’d like all of the proponents of life without principle to consider what it is they’re advocating, assuming they’re still able.

Get up tomorrow morning. Go to work. Why?  Why bother? Who says you should pay for your own way in life? Who needs principles?  Choose your mate. Your soul-mate. If s/he displeases you, ditch and get another. Why try to work it out? Who says children need parents and an intact family?  Why are you hung up on principles?  Need food? Go take it from your neighbor.  Sure, it’s stealing, but we don’t have time or need of principles of private property, or any of that old-fashioned nonsense about good and evil, the ten commandments, or any other idea. We don’t need that.  Just do what you want to who you want when you want!  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?” Why bother with that? They’re all out to screw me anyway, and they will do unto me whatever they want, because they don’t have need of principles either.

To Hell with principle. Principles never seem to get me anywhere, anyway! If I stick to principles while others cast them aside, or never bother to consider them, I’m the sucker, and I’m the one at a disadvantage! No sir, no principles any longer.  I don’t worry about principles, or holding fast to my beliefs. I can go with the flow. I can be anything I want to be, any time I want to be whatever it is I’m considering.  I don’t have a care in the world about principles, because they simply act as a constraint upon me, but upon nobody else. That makes me the sucker, so no more principles.  In politics, I want to win, whatever principles I need to reject, discard, or otherwise eject from my thinking. As long as my candidate wins, principles don’t matter.

Ladies and gentlemen, if this line of thinking has come to dominate your thought processes, you’re on the wrong website.  LEAVE NOW, and never return, excepting as your folly becomes clearer in your mind.  I find this despicable in every possible meaning of the word. If you accept life without principle, I will have nothing to do with you, as no decent person on the face of the planet should.  Had you any principles remaining, you would be ashamed for even suggesting such a thing, never mind practicing it. It is despicable that in a nation founded upon an idea, the people of the country would devolve in character and wisdom to such an extent that in the throws of their allegedly patriotic fervor, they would reject ideas and ideals. It makes me sick – physically, demonstrably ill.

People have prevailed upon me to consider how a certain candidate will “Make America Great Again.”  I then ask: “What made America great in the first place?”  By what standard of value had American been “great?” On what principle were those standards of value based?  How can I even determine what is “great” without principles?  How can I know if it’s better or worse or just the same if I’ve cast off the ideology by which I am able to make such determinations?  How will I know?  Whose judgment shall I trust?  Upon which principle will my judgment rest once I’ve cast them off? This is something none of them can or will answer.  There can be no honest answer to this without either an immediate confession of error or a de facto admission of idiocy.

The United States, as currently constituted, was founded on a series of ideas about self-governance, limited government and natural rights.  Those principles, yes, principles, are the basis of everything we do and have and know in this country in terms of our relative prosperity, our material wealth, our technological advancement, and every other tangible exhibit of our modern culture.  None of it would have been possible without  principles, and you will neither restore or even retain your country if you now discharge those principles in favor of intellectual and political expedience.  Put another way, if you have come to believe that you can “Make America Great Again” without reference to principles, what you have done is to become part of a cult of personality, having surrendered your intellectual and political sovereignty to the perceived exigencies of the moment.  Good luck with that. In all the history of the world, such a movement has never succeeded.  Most frequently, they result in the rise of despots and the enslavement and purging of human beings in the million.  Of course, what do I know?  One of those antiquated principles to which I adhere is: “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”(George Santayana – one of those useless philosophers.)

If that’s your schtick, so be it. Go forth to whatever end your folly will have earned for you.

Donald Trump Lied About Conservatism

Friday, February 12th, 2016

trump_bsa_ftWatching the 2016 election season unfold, I’ve become a bit tired of two things in particular about the media, and Donald Trump.  In the first instance, Trump is wholly unwilling to discuss details of his plans, and the media dutifully accepts his empty rhetoric in an unquestioning manner almost as thorough as some of his supporters.  In the second instance, Mr. Trump is lying, and it’s a big lie that we conservatives must debunk.  It could be that Trump is just ignorant, so that when he spews his lie, he’s simply the parroting of talking points emanating from the rabid left and the DC establishment. Either way, a lie is a lie, whether it originated from Trump’s own mind, or he’s merely passing it along unthinkingly.  So what’s this big lie? On Thursday, Trump tweeted that conservatives are to blame and that conservatives have failed the country.  This couldn’t be further from the truth, but once again, debunking it requires the examination of a few salient details.  His throngs of supporters won’t be moved by this, just as they won’t be moved by any other rational argument. By and large, they’re proving immune to facts, reason, and details.  It should come as no surprise to conservatives that in one respect, I think there’s a nugget of truth that makes Trump’s lie seem superficially plausible, but it’s just a nugget.  It’s time to deconstruct Trump’s lie.

djt_conservatives_tweet

The first thing one must consider in answer to Trump’s assertion is: “Who are the conservatives?”  The truth in answer to this question is that actual, thinking, breathing, ideological conservatives constitute a minority of the Republican party.  The truth is that there are almost no actual conservatives in Washington DC, and to have been the party to blame for the state of the country, that is where one would have needed to be, not simply in a geographical sense, but in the sense of political efficacy.   Actual conservatives haven’t had any power to speak of in Washington DC for nearly two generations.  From the time of the middle of Reagan’s second term, there has been little one could properly label as “conservative” in our nation’s capital.  Where one can find any justification of Trump’s lie, despite the reality, is that for too long, we conservatives have let people who had no real attachment to conservatism pose as our representatives.

George H.W. Bush was no conservative.  Bob Dole was no conservative.  George W. Bush was no conservative. John McCain is no conservative.  Mitt Romney is no conservative.  I can extend this list to include current candidates like Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio to an extent, and any number of other conventional Republican politicians.  Paul Ryan is certainly no conservative, but neither were his immediate predecessors, John Boehner and Dennis Hastert.  Mitch McConnell and his caucus of establishment Republican cronies aren’t conservatives either, but the problem is that we have permitted them to claim conservatism, and we’ve allowed them to thereby define conservatism by the association with us.  Most Americans simply don’t pay much attention to politics, and in their barely-informed state of political ignorance, they’ve accepted the following basic formula: Republican = Conservative.  They may have accepted also: Democrat = Liberal.  Both of these are tragically wrong, and I will suggest to my conservative brethren that we are at least somewhat collectively guilty for letting this stick.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve permitted this to happen.  We’ve been so busy trying to expand the “big tent” of conservatism that we’ve permitted the party-crashers of the establishment to redefine what conservatism is, at least in the popular culture, by their constant association with us.  It’s been going on since Teddy Roosevelt, who was a progressive in Republican clothing.  For my part, here on this website, I’ve always endeavored to make clear the distinctions.  One cannot go through the columns of these pages and make any mistake about the fact that the form of conservatism advocated and advanced here has no relation whatsoever to the Republican party, never mind its establishment.

Of course, the truth is far removed from Trump’s nonsensical allegation.  Most actual conservatives, I’d nearly assert all, do not support the actions of the establishment, moderate, “center-right” wing of the Republican party.  Most conservatives actually detest those people, and would replace them with actual conservatives if it was in their power to do.  Every time conservatives have gone along with the GOP establishment in order to try to move things in the right direction, two things have been true almost without exception:  The GOP establishment betrays us, and we wind up moving backward.  A case in point is immigration: Those who call themselves “conservative” but are aligning themselves with Rubio in this election cycle have a very “YUGE” problem: Their guy is an amnesty-monger, having proposed the most exasperatingly un-conservative bill proposed by a Republican in quite a long time.  The so-called “Gang-of-8” bill was a nation-destroying monstrosity, and it would never have attained launch, much less threatened passage, without the efforts of people who claim to be “conservative.”

This is the problem exposed by Trump’s lie: It’s only plausible because we conservatives permit others to define what is conservatism.  We permit the misapplication of the term to people who may on occasion, for their own political expedience(and too frequently, ours) to associate with us and our body of political philosophy.  Since the greatest number of Americans don’t really pay that much attention, and use generic labels in order to short-cut thinking, we have a responsibility as conservatives to define what that means, and to take great pains to differentiate conservatives from anything else.

The facts supporting Trump’s assertion dissolve the moment one asks: “What is a conservative?” The laundry list of non-conservatives mentioned above is just a sample, but it should serve as a decent basis for understanding the problem in its proper context.  When Donald Trump talks about “the conservatives failed,” what he’s actually saying is that “Republicans have failed.”  That’s demonstrably true.  The problem is that conservatives haven’t failed, largely since they’ve never really held power in Washington, except for the briefest few years immediately after the ’94 “revolution” in the House of Representatives.  Even its leader, Newt Gingrich, isn’t really a conservative, but some of the people around him were, and a few of the people who led early efforts in those environs were, but they were short-lived as was the influence of conservatism.  To find substantial, muscular conservatism, one must return to the first term of Reagan’s presidency, which is why conservatives so thoroughly long for a Reagan-like leader.  It’s also why the fakers, the so-called moderates in the GOP, can’t wait to bury Ronald Reagan in long-forgotten history of the Republic.

We conservatives must separate ourselves from the GOP establishment in a political and cultural sense.  We must create clear separation from the party’s moderates because by failing to do so, we permit the broadest brush to be used in defining our cause, our philosophy, and our values.  It won’t be easy to do, but I believe it must be done.  The most promising of the current crop of GOP candidates, who may be able to draw this distinction, is probably Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX,) simply because on so many issues near and dear to the hearts and minds of conservatives, he bucked the political trends in Washington DC, abandoning even his own party at times, apparently on the basis of principle.  It may be that for him to fully set conservatism apart from the muck of establishment GOP politics, he will find himself required to loudly and forcefully make the distinction clear, not merely in his words, but in the clear-thinking actions of his office, so long as he may be in it.  Otherwise, Trump will succeed in painting him, and conservatism, as just more representative of the whole of the Republican party, and with such a faulty attribution of blame, conservatism label will continue to be the generic container into which the wider voting public will file all Republicans.  I suspect Trump knows all of this, but his campaign isn’t one of nuance or detail.  Quite to the contrary, his campaign is one of generic sloganeering, with thinly-veiled emotional appeals substituted in place of syllogisms.

It’s because I do believe that Trump knows the difference that I consider this attack on conservatism to be a lie on his part.  There is some small chance that he is so thoroughly ignorant that he doesn’t understand the distinction, but I suspect that’s not the problem.  I believe that Trump is gambling on and playing to the electorate in a disingenuous fashion, knowing that his prospective voters don’t understand the distinctions anyway, and won’t be motivated to discover them.  Thus far, he’s been largely correct in this assumption, although it remains to be seen whether it will hold up through the entire campaign season.

The problem for conservatives is “Yuge” because they’re stuck in the same sort of problem, in almost exactly the same fashion, as is the basic reputation of “capitalism.”  This is not coincidental.  Capitalism continues to be blamed for all the evils of statism, in its various manifestations, because few are interested in learning the distinctions between what America’s actual economic system is, and why capitalism bears no actual resemblance. In much the same fashion that we haven’t even had approximately conservative governance in more than a generation, so too is it the case that capitalism was vanquished in America by the enactment of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The Sherman Act is wholly antithetical to capitalism, and whatever economic system we may have had since, it is not and cannot be labeled as “capitalism.”  Of course, once again, the propagandists for statism have managed to re-cast the meaning of the term in precisely the same way that “conservatism” has been redefined so as to include all “Republicans.” It’s nonsense, of course, but that fact does not stop them from doing it. One must be attentive to details, in a disciplined way.  It’s an article of faith among those same propagandists that our system of government be referred to as “democracy,” but that bears little resemblance to the actual form of government our Constitution’s framers designed and ratified. The United States is, by definition of its organizing document, a “constitutional representative republic,” but too often, as a matter of ease and propaganda, folks drop that longer, much narrower description, and it is to the detriment of the body politic, unless you happen to be a propagandist or advocate for statism.

The truth Trump won’t tell you is that had conservatives had their way over the last three decades, we would never have approached the state of desperate gloom under which we now suffer.  What he won’t tell you is that statism is the responsible political philosophy, in large measure because he has been among its practitioners and advocates.  When he proposes solving the “student loan problem” with another government program, he’s advancing statism. When he proposes replacing Obamacare with what seems to be a Canadian or British-styled single-payer healthcare system, he’s proposing more statism.  He’s doubling down.  When he states that eminent domain is an important tool in private initiatives, he is declaring statism in big, broad terms, while he is defiling the good name of capitalism to do it.  Donald Trump isn’t a capitalist, but instead a cronyist.  He has greased palms and bought favors with campaign contributions as much as any person who has ever sought the office of President, and maybe more.  His well-documented use of government officials and offices in the name of his private concerns is evidence neither of capitalism, nor conservatism, and that to date, he has gotten away with this mislabeling and slander is at least in part the fault of we conservatives.

After all, it’s the same thing: Jeb Bush calls himself a “conservative” and most of us won’t bother to debunk his claim.  His brother called himself a “compassionate conservative,” but too few of us challenged his claim though it was obvious in most notable respects that his presidency was rife with the growth of statism, and the advancement of anti-capitalist measures.

Yes, Donald Trump is probably going to succeed in blaming conservatism for the sins of GOP establishment, moderate actions.  His lie will stand mostly unchallenged because most of us will not even stand for our claimed political philosophy.  While I can’t do a thing about that, I can and will continue to speak out about the lies of Trump in this regard: Conservatism is not to blame for the ills of this country, any more than one can blame capitalism, and for the same exact reason: We haven’t practiced either in so long that the terms have lost their true meaning.  Trump knows this, and he’s gambling that his supporters won’t discover it either.  It’s our job, the job of actual conservatives, to educate the electorate on the differences.

Editor’s Note: The Tweet image was added again after the fact because either I didn’t save the article with that image in it, or it dropped it, or something or other. Anyway, that is what I am referencing. Conservatives didn’t HELP the GOP betray its voters.

 

 

Liberty’s Last Gasps

Monday, May 25th, 2015

We live in the time of a desperate struggle no politician seems willing to name.  Our nation is sinking back into the swamp from which it emerged, in a world still dominated by primitive, tribalism from which we seem unable or unwilling to escape.    We do not examine our philosophy any longer, and we do not consider the meaning of our abandonment of principles, much less the result of such evasions.  A culture is only as good as its underlying philosophy, but ours is damaged seemingly beyond repair.  America had always suffered from contradictions, but now they are not exceptional “one-offs” but the the norm.  Those of us who have bothered to understand these dire problems have grown weary, and I am among those who no longer wish to repeat the same things, because the intended audience seems unmoved.  We are giving away our liberty, and for all of the missteps of the last two-hundred years, America survived despite them, but this situation will not persist indefinitely.  If the America our founders had envisioned is to be reborn, rejuvenated, and revived, we must do the work.  We must explain it.  We must be its advocates.  We must be willing to have the arguments.  Whether America will survive or perish, it is up to us to make its case, but to do so, we must first understand what had made America.

To understand what had been unique about America, let us consider that feature, the underlying notion, which had been at the heart of its founding, its growth, and its success.  Let us be careful to carve out only that which had made this country substantially different from all the others, lest we fall into the trap of misidentifying its greatest virtues.  Among all the things one might say about America, it’s most fundamental principle had been that “man is endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable rights.”  Whether you took that endowment to be a product of “Nature or Nature’s God,” the simplicity of this idea is that which had set America apart.  For the first time in all of human history, a government was formed that declared that it was not the ultimate arbiter and owner of all men under the sphere of its control.  In all other systems before it, and all the systems arising since, men were chattel of the state in some form or fashion. In short, they were still property of the tribe.   This was true whether you were subject to the “Divine Right of Kings,” or property of the collective as in the Soviet Union.  This has remained true in all the welfare states of Europe, and with a sickening degree of rapidity, has been increasingly adopted here in the United States over the last century.  These are the definitions of statism.  America had been the first system to reject statism.

There are those who will immediately critique the American experiment because it permitted slavery for most of its first one-hundred years.  Despicable though that institution had been, what they hope you will not notice about the former American institution of slavery, now dead more than one-and-one-half centuries, is that which it had not been: Ownership of men by the state.  This distinction, while superficial and meaningless to the objects of slavery, was the only reason the practice could be ended.  Once ended, America was a country without men as chattel.  In fact, it was the only period in all of human history in which such a society ever existed.  It was the period of the greatest unrivaled growth and economic prosperity generated by man.  All the prosperity that has followed was born of this era.  We linger as a modern society now, our vestiges of civilization now only a facade, because of the achievements of that industrial age, the age of capitalism.  It is only recently that the bequeath of that generation is finally running out of steam, because we have destroyed its underpinnings in degrees and steps ever since.  We have permitted the destruction of liberty, and slowly, in bits and pieces, returned mankind to the ownership of the state.  What we face today is only the last act of a play set in motion more than a century ago, by men whose motives were short-run and political.  It was the birth of national “pragmatism.”

The principle that man is an end in and of himself, without reference to another soul, had been the bedrock of America.  That principle has been polluted, deprecated, denounced, and demolished.  Now we see the abysmal spectacle of man the slave to man via the commands of the state.  We have escaped only to permit ourselves to again become captive to the same old treachery.  In what other manner can you explain the idea that a person subject to the laws of the United States must now be held to pay support for every artifact of modern convenience for every other soul?  How else can one explain Obamacare, SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, AFDC, WIC, Section 8 Housing, “Obama-phones,” “Free” Internet, and all the myriad other “benefits” or “entitlements” of our allegedly civilized age?  We have no need to complain of a military-industrial complex, or of foreign aid, for all the evils they may impose, because these represent a pittance of the national expenditure when compared with all the rest.   No, what we have permitted, at first in small pieces and by small enumerations, is the enslavement of all men to all men via the artifices of the state.

We love to speak of our freedom of speech, our freedom of religion and the press, and our right to keep and bear arms, but these too are now taking a beating under the enslavement of all to all.  You have the right to free speech lest you offend somebody.  You have the right of free exercise of religion lest it offend somebody.  You have the right of a free press, but no press anywhere, except perhaps in small ways in the blogosphere is free any longer.  You have the right to bear arms in your own defense, but only in such fashion as it doesn’t offend or frighten anybody, or permit you the ability to actually repel somebody who might attack you.  You have the right to pursue happiness, but no right to hold onto the material implementations of happiness that your own exertions may have afforded to you otherwise.  These liberties were all born of the notion that no man is owned by the state, and yet slowly and seemingly irretrievably, these “rights” have been yielded back to the state.  Still, these are mere symptoms of the greater disease that is rotting away the core and health of the American political environment.  The root of this disease is philosophical, but it will not be cured by political slogans.

Men must not be owned, either directly by other men, or through a surrogate called “the state” or “society.”  So long as we permit this idea to fester and grow, it is a cancer slowly metastasizing to all parts of the body of American culture and politics.  It has destroyed our philosophy.  It has permitted egregious inconsistencies and contradictions in our laws.  It has enabled the would-be slave-masters to re-establish a foothold in a wider fashion than nineteenth century slavery ever could.  What we have permitted to be lost is the philosophical core of our argument, and every retreat or defeat in politics of the last century has been merely a symptom of the surrender of this principle: Man is endowed with unalienable rights, and it is governments’ sole legitimate purpose to defend them.  Instead, we now see that government has become the worst offender, and we wonder why we can make no ground on subsidiary concretes.

If you wish to salvage America, if it is to be done at all, the only answer is to restore in law and in fact the philosophy that holds man as his own rightful property, and his life and his liberties as the material implementation of that fact.  Please do not bother about statist notions of “obligations” or “responsibilities” of free men.  The only actual, logical “obligation” of a free man is to respect those same rights among other men, and his only collectivized “responsibility” is to pay for the upholding of those rights among all men.  This is the sole justification of governments, and it is the sole reason that any form of taxation is logically (and morally) permissible.  This means a court system, to resolve disputes among men; a policing mechanism, to apprehend those who violate the rights of men; a national defense to protect against massive attacks on the rights of men.  Deprived of the ability to use the power of the state as a gun aimed at the heads of other men in the name of their own peculiar interests, with the threat of a watchful state waiting to punish such aggressors, men must deal with one another by volitional means, i.e., “free trade” or “commerce.”

This had been our founders’ vision.  To the degree they failed to “perfect” it, they nevertheless left us the means by which to do so.  Instead, we have tarnished their ideals, and rejected their core philosophy in favor of the “pragmatic” expediencies of the moment.  We have failed to educate our young, and we have failed to remind ourselves why it is that America had been different, and why there was so much to be gained here for all men, everywhere.  It was not the material wealth of America’s resources that permitted her growth, but the idea at the heart of its laws and traditions that each person is an end in themselves, and that no person or collection of persons had the authority to disparage those rights.  Today, rights are being disparaged and deprecated at a mind-numbing pace, and we have none to blame but ourselves.  If we are to resurrect liberty from its dying gasps, we must know and publicly identify the cause of its impending death, and we must not shrink from standing in the breech in liberty’s waning moments.  Stand there, and others will accompany you, bolstered by your courage.  If not, we’ve already lost.

Obama Claims “Healthcare Is a Right”

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

What Rights?

Barack Obama is nothing if not audacious.  It takes a bold liar to assert a falsehood with such vigorous certitude before such a large audience.  It may be that he gets away with it because most of his audiences are hand-picked and vetted to eliminate rational people, relying instead on mobs of ignoramuses wherever he goes.  One could hope that so many Americans would not be so chillingly vapid in their thinking, but then again, they have elected and re-elected a man who has lied to them repeatedly and fearlessly.  Such a spectacle is only possible because so many people refuse to bother themselves with logic, and instead operate entirely on the basis of their wishes, projected into the political sphere.  Ayn Rand [at least] once characterized such primitive atavism by comparing these politicians to cavemen.  It’s true.  In order to believe health-care is a right, never mind “affordable” health-care, one must arrive at the presupposition that the lives of other men and women exist at the disposal of any taker.  It is to regard one’s fellow persons as slaves, so while Obama prattles on in contrived, dismissive sarcasm over the question, berating the Obama-care’s critics for calling the program the most dangerous law ever passed,  somebody somewhere should take the time to explain to Americans why this law is worse even than the fugitive slave act, over the din of the chuckling drones.  Health-care cannot be a right while men and women are free.

The first question we must ask is: “What is a right?” Some time ago, I answered that question when prompted by a font of Obamtastic ignorance on the subject of Internet access.  Here was my answer:

“A right is a natural entitlement of liberty that requires the consent of no others for its exercise, and imposes no positive obligation upon any other.  If what you propose requires the actions, property, or consent of others, it cannot be a “right.”

Let us consider some rights as contemplated by our founders and the philosophical understanding of the enlightened age, arising from such men as John Locke, among others.  Our founders codified several such rights, and those rights are under assault by government.  Free speech.  Free exercise of religion. The right to keep and bear arms.  The right to one’s life and liberty. The right to self-determination.  The right to be secure in one’s property, papers and effects from unreasonable search and seizure.  The right to obtain legal representation.  The right to a speedy trial.  The right to equal protection under law, that is, equitable treatment by government.  One has a right to one’s income, one’s life and all the things one’s labor(physical or intellectual) produce.

Let us now consider the President’s oafish, dictatorial claim:  That others must be held to provide medical services to any who may come to want or need them.  After all, as Mark Levin pointed out recently, if Health-care is truly a right, then government must not be permitted to create any death panels, or limit any sort of care you might want or need.  Of course, Obama hadn’t meant it when he said it, but he wanted those poor befuddled and bedazzled wishers in his audience to believe it. Instead, what Obama-care creates is dependency,  misery, and slavery.

If Obama and the Democrats(and not a few dastardly Republicans) have their way, they will take over health-care in the United States in its entirety.  Doctors will be fewer, and government will control them. Since no honest or competent practitioner will long subsist in such an environment, only the incompetent and the dangerously sloppy will remain.  No decent person will choose to remain a slave to a government system if they have other options, and the caliber of people who comprise the average medical school student historically suggests that these are capable people who have nearly unlimited career choices before them.  There will be a few great doctors who hang on until retirement, or until they can take it no longer, committed and devoted to their patients, but within a generation, most of the competent doctors will be gone, replaced by incompetents who one wouldn’t voluntarily permit to lance a boil on one’s buttock.  They will be inept and sloppy.  They will be attitudinally-corrupted.  Having chosen to live as a slave, wouldn’t you be resentful after a time?

How can it be a right for one man to dictate the life of another?  How can it be the right of some claimant to reach into the pocket or purse of another and extract cash at will, or make demands of another person’s time and labor? Only in a system in which slavery or indentured servitude is permissible can one find such a circumstance, and yet this is precisely what the President laughs-off as less than dangerous.  Of course, it’s far worse than this implies, because if he has his way, the government will become the sole source(single-payer) and possess a monopoly over the entire medical field.  Only then will the chuckling morons discover how little like a right health-care really is, as they are denied life-saving surgeries and treatments, and they are compelled to pay whatever price the government demands.  They will discover that theirs is a claim without standing, and they will find no recourse anywhere within the borders of the United States.  Since this country is among the few into which you can travel to obtain services on the open market(at present,) once it becomes another victim of the global socialization of health-care, one will find one’s options have run out, excepting perhaps only the super-rich, who will always be able to get their care somewhere, at some price.

This president is a shoddy creature, with a narrow ideological focus and an even narrower mind.  To claim as a right that which others must provide is an infamous attack on the lives and rights of people everywhere.  To do so laughingly expresses a contempt for human life and liberty so thoroughly inculcated as to be dangerously maniacal.  Such master-minds always begin by making such claims, but in the end, they finish by leaving a trail of destruction in their wakes.  Obama is no worse (so far) than his philosophical predecessors, but such a man bears watching, because at any given moment, he may decide to unleash himself from semi-civil, quasi-rational conduct.  Proof of this thesis exists each time one tunes a television to see the latest rant of Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews or Lawrence O’Donnell.  These men offer an insight into the sheer insanity that exists behind the relatively calm demeanor of Barack Obama, and it is precisely that sort of vile creature who can imagine his fellow-man as involuntary servants by claiming a right to their labor, their time, and indeed, their lives.  What may be worse is that for all their pretense and feigned opposition, at least twenty-five Republican senators do not see fit to object.

One cannot have a right to the lives, labors or properties of others, but with a stunted intellect, too many of our countrymen now suppose that because laws may be enacted that would claim otherwise, they are immune from its reach, and therefore safe from its grasp.  Only a people with nothing to offer, fulfilling the exact definition of worthlessness, could imagine their own safety in such a paradigm. This is what we must fight, and it is in the name of life, liberty and the pursuit of our own happiness that we must fight it.  So long as men like Barack Obama imagine other men as their slaves, and servants to their personal whims, there can be no safety in any place or condition on Earth.  It is time for conservatives to demand of their alleged leaders such behavior as would signify their awareness of this mortal threat.  There can be no peace with this, so long as men and women claim to be free.

 

Talk Is Always Cheaper

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Oath or Bravado?

I have heard and read a good deal about a UN Convention on Small Arms Trade, a Treaty that some allege could ultimately result in the banning of firearms held by private citizens in the United States.  While I’m not certain that such a treaty could affect domestic gun rights, the idea is that such a treaty, ratified by the Senate, effectively becomes Constitutional law.  This argument is based on the notion that when the US enters into a treaty, it’s binding upon the government just like a constitutional amendment, although there are existing precedents in opposition to that view, including Reid v. Covert.  Imagining that such a treaty would disparage our 2nd Amendment rights, were such a thing to eventuate, who doubts but that some leftist in charge would enforce it as such, or that a Supreme Court led by the likes of John Roberts would uphold it as superseding our 2nd Amendment?  Who doubts that a Congress led by such cowards as now occupy those positions would subserviently enact all the funding mechanisms to support enforcement?  Rep. Benjamin Quayle(R-AZ,) and co-sponsor Todd Akin(R-MO) have introduced the Second Amendment Sovereignty Act of 2012, (H.R. 5846,) in response to this threat. It’s going nowhere.

The Treaty in question is being written as we speak, and while we don’t know its content, anything that would impinge upon our domestic rights would be a real attack on the Second Amendment the likes of which would be unprecedented in American history. Then again, Obama-care was an attack on individual liberties unprecedented in history.  Clearly, that there exists no precedent does not preclude a thing from being done, does it?  All my life, I have heard a fair number of oaths including the phrase “my cold, dead hands,” that being the condition in which the persons professing said sentiment would enter before their guns would be taken from them.  I’m not a betting man, but I personally believe most would turn in their guns without much more than a whimper.  I think a diabolical leader of ill intent would know that too, and I believe he’d be willing to test the thesis.  My question for you is simply: “Would Americans actually fight?”

This has always been my question, in fact, because I’ve been around long enough to know that many will say things that sound awfully tough, in terribly solemn tones in the first instance, but that most won’t live up to the billing in the second.  Most mature people are relatively risk-averse, and when they consider handing over their guns to maintain a nervous peace versus the idea of actually beginning a second war for Independence against an[other] aggressive government, I think most so-called “fearless Patriots” might just chicken out.  After all, by a slow process of incrementalism, the American people have let many of their liberties go without much more than a protest march or two, and not much more than a temporary backlash at the polls.  I believe a rabid Marxist holding the reins of power would realize this too, as would  his committed communist pals, and I think such a leader would be more than willing to go all the way and call some bluffs.  In fact, I think such a villain would see it as a win-win: If he calls the bluffs of the American people on this and they should happen to fold, he would have rid the country of guns, and made the American people defenseless in their own homes.  If he calls the bluffs, but they turn out not to be a bluff, he would have a good excuse to declare martial law, perhaps cancel elections, and wipe out a few hard-core conservatives along the way, if there is anything less than a perfectly united stance by American conservatives.

You might wonder why I am raising this issue now, and it surely arises in part from the recent talk over the treaty in question, but I am also asking the question because I’ve seen signs that we have no small number of surrender monkeys who call themselves “conservative.”  If the day should ever arrive when gun confiscations actually begin, and there is a resistance, it will fail if conservatives don’t act – not talk – in lockstep.  That would be a big play by by such a tyrant, for all the marbles, but it would also be a big play by Americans.  It would be truly a matter of pledging their “lives and their sacred honor,” because any such battle would commence a counter-counter-revolution.  What you learn from a lifetime of observation is that he who is more consistently committed wins every battle, every war, and every fight of any sort.  This is why I have cause to worry: I think many people make many professions by which may not abide when push comes to shove.

After all, if such a resistance were to break out, you would scarcely receive news of it.  Such a leader would use that new Internet shut-down switch to cut off that means of news dissemination.  He would order the FCC to shut down all cell phones, and shortly, all wired calls, broadcast, cable and satellite, along with radio, and the only thing you might be able to dial would be 9-1-1, or if you had a shortwave radio, begin to exchange information before the jamming commenced in earnest .  It’s what emergency exercises are intended to test.  Remember?  Neither would be trusted all law enforcement, nor all military.  Too many are Oath-Keepers(though not nearly enough for my comfort.)  What would result after a day or two is that the brain-addled multitudes would demand the restoration of their cable, their Internet, their phones, and their blessed text messages, so they would join the chorus from the left to put down any rebellion.  Think about it.  Fools all, yes, but fools who would provide a runaway government with every excuse it might ever need.

Every person must establish his or her own bright line across which government must not tread, or admit from the outset that he or she is a willing slave, but in the main, they do not admit it, and they make their lines dimly, and cover them over in hasty retreat when pressed.  The singularly most pressing reason to raise this at this time is that I believe too few have actually considered all those oaths about “cold dead hands,” and what they would actually demand.  After all, what that phrase implies is a willingness to literally enter a state of war against a runaway government that would claim legitimacy by virtue of some black-robed moron’s  judgment, or some heat-of-the-moment command from a would-be tyrant.  Any who take such things too lightly wouldn’t be the sort to be counted on in any case, because anybody who conceives of such things without deep prior contemplation of consequences isn’t very serious about it.  Australia was a nifty experiment for the global gun-grabbers, and they saw how the cold-dead-handers reacted there.   In a virtual flash, Australia was disarmed. Has Australia undergone a violent revolution? Have they repealed such measures?  If so, I’ve not read about it.

If you wonder what the radical communist left would count on, considering the hundreds of millions of guns and the eighty-million or more firearm owners as an obstacle to their plotting, you might wish to give a thought or two to this.  While alleged patriots who may or may not adhere to all of those oaths continue to make them, the radical left is surely plotting for the day in which they will make this a reality.  Larry Grathwohl’s story of three decades ago hasn’t changed, and some of the very people about whom he had been concerned are now members of government.  The question is whether they’ve thought this through, and I believe you can assume they have, and that’s something upon which I’m willing to bet.  Our founders must have been much more extraordinarily brave than we credit them with having been. Now go consider all those oaths anew.  Did you really mean them?  Time may tell. Something to ponder.

 

Searching For America

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

...If You Can Find Her

On this Fourth day of July, the nation marks its Independence Day, but I fear that for all the remembrances of glory now passed out of mind by most Americans, and for all the lovely, somber assemblies that will today gather in order to consider the truly beautiful words of the brilliant minds who once established this country, who risked literally all in order to put aside a tyrant, there are pitifully few among us who have the courage to repeat their bold actions, or even realize the true marvel that had been the American founding.  I have always believed that America was more than a place defined by some lines drawn on a map, and its meaning was more than even the stunning assembly of the stars and stripes of Old Glory could represent.  No, America had been synonymous with “Liberty,” and “Freedom,” and other rare concepts of human refinement that have not been duplicated anywhere.  To all of my patriotic friends, who look glumly about at the depressing caricature we’ve been watching our nation become, I urge you to take heart:  America lives!

It is true that the statists have developed and implemented a plan for our national diminution.  It is true even that some among our number seem to happily go along with the slide.  The worst of it for many will have been how the July 4th observances this year will seem more like a eulogy than a celebration.  We now give our beloved America the big send-off, with fireworks to punctuate the wake.  A funeral need not be a glum affair, and with all the flag-waving set to commence, it seems appropriate that rather than play an encore of Stars and Stripes Forever, we instead yield the music of the day to a funeral march.  Yet this is only appropriate if we view America as nothing more than a political partition.  True, it is clear that the Republic lies at Death’s door, but the idea that stands behind the Republic remains alive in each of us who will merely bear its memory forth.

The gun-grabbers will attempt to take our rights to keep and bear, but still we must resist them, whatever the laws they may make.  That’s what an American would do.  The taxers and dispensers-of-penalties (just in case Mitt Romney still doesn’t know which he had been as Governor of that once-free commonwealth) can work their worst, but at the end of the day, if you are willing to live without comforts, you can resist this too.  This I am certain, every real American would do.  Were I closer to New York, for example, I would be inclined to raid a grocery warehouse, buying up all the little Morton’s salt shakers, and dispense one on every table in every restaurant in sight, and a pox on Michael Bloomberg for his wretched regulating, and I would probably start in any cafeteria owned by the city.  This is what the bold, but not the timid, would do.  Americans think to do such things.  Docile slaves never do.

I’d give a cop a hug, since they don’t pass the laws, and there may come a day when I’d like very much for them to ignore some mindless rule that I had decided I would no longer observe.  Americans, the real ones, know that laws are only as powerful as they permit them to be.  Americans aren’t frightened about the possibility of another Obama term, because even he is only so powerful as we decide he should be.  You might offer me one-thousand scenarios in which he might seize more power, but I insist that it’s still only as good as the will of the people he appoints to carry it out, in the face of all of those who dare to say “no.”

America isn’t defined by Washington DC.  It is only the United States of America that is shaped and molded there.  One-million Obamas with one-billion executive orders backed-up by nine-thousand robe-clad morons cannot make a nation of three hundred million people do anything, not even a fraction of them, if they choose not to do it.  In America, the people know this, and while they may lament the existence of such brigands in public office, they likewise remember that the founders of America had declared that a government exists at the pleasure of all its people.  Does a government headed by Barack Obama exist at your pleasure?  Do you think only Mitt Romney can save us, or do you understand that in America, the least among us is still completely capable of saying “no,” and meaning it?

People have asked me in times passed how such an America could function, and I tell you that there are more ways than one to eat that dog.  Let your own conscience be your guide, but I have resolved that I will become an avid practitioner of “Not Guilty,” when the only victim alleged is some public policy.  “John Q Public stands charged with failing to pay his Obama-care mandate noncompliance penalty/tax. What say you, the jury?”

“Not guilty.”

Jury nullification is not a new idea, but most of the time, we get tricked into a.)admitting that’s what we’re doing, thus putting ourselves in legal jeopardy, or b.)fooled into believing it’s not permissible, somehow dishonest, or lawless.  Ladies and gentlemen, we live in a country where Supreme Court Chief justices are lawless as a matter of the routine.  In America, we know that law has only the force we give it, and if the law is wrong, it mustn’t be enforced.  Let us not give such laws any force, any longer. Am I calling you to anarchy? Never. I am asking you to consider correcting an anarchy already in progress, wherein the law is no restraint upon an aggressive government, irrespective of the party in power.

I vote “no” on every bond issue, every tax, and any expansion of government power, no matter how trivial it may seem at the time, because experience has taught me that it will not remain that way.  Only in America do citizens routinely tell public officials to kiss off.  We should all do so more frequently when justified, and these days, it’s justified plenty.    In America, the people know that government isn’t their boss, but that the master-servant relationship puts the people a the top, and the people there have no compunction whatever about reminding the public servants of just exactly who is whom on that particular totem pole.

We can look for America in all sorts of places.  The first place I always think to look for it is in the minds, the words, and particularly, in the deeds of the people around me.  I know how to spot America every time.  If you’re the sort of person inclined to read this blog, chances are, so do you, but the first place each should seek it is right there, inside you.  I know it’s in there.  You might keep it hidden in an office or a school full of leftists.  It’s yearning to get out, you know.  I realize that the polite society of Republican politics urges you to suppress it, and keep it hidden at all times, and that among Democrats, it’s tucked firmly away lest it escape embarrassingly from the closet. I’ve heard that in Congress, they do their best to isolate it like a leper colony.

America is not a Utopia, and does not seek that status, since in America, they yield to the natural fact that there can be no perfection among men.  America’s constitution was established to create a “more perfect union,” but it did not promise Heaven on Earth, the authors having known such was impossible.  Those men did not say they were seeking a “more perfect lifestyle,” a “more perfect country,” a “less costly health-care system,” or a “more perfect distribution of wealth,”  but instead a “more perfect union” not among individual men, but among the several states.  In short, they knew they could not make more perfect all the affairs of men, but only that among the institutions of man, they could improve the function, and for a time, they succeeded until some forgot what it was all intended to do.

I seek America because I know it’s “out there,” but it’s “in here,” too. I know there are others seeking her too, and I believe I’ve met some decent number of them through this blog.  I would urge my friends to spend the Fourth of July seeking America wherever they can find it, but not to waste an inordinate amount of time looking for it in a country called the United States.  America has to sneak in an out of there for visits these days, and there’s no sense looking for something where it plainly is not. My friends, I wish you all a happy Independence Day in search of it, and may you find it quickly.  I hear she’s worth the trouble.

 

Seeing Red: You’re Damned Right – I’m Mad

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

Afraid to Know?

I’ve received a few emails asking me if I’m so angry as it seems on the surface.  I’ve politely responded that I’m actually much angrier than the printed word permits me to express.  I’ve made mention of something else on that score, and in so doing, you’d think I’d crossed the Rubicon.  Maybe I should.  I’ve admitted openly that I am not only angry at the Congress, the President and the Court over this Obama-care monstrosity, but that I’m likewise furious at my fellow Americans who aren’t equally furious!  I’ve been asked what I expect the anger to get for me, and the truth is that I don’t know.  I’ve never been quite this angry before, and I’ve never muttered so many oaths under my breath, and within the confines of my own head as I have these last few days.  I’ve asked this question in other forms before, but few have seemed willing to take it up.  One of the reasons the statists continue to do things like this to us is because we’re peaceful, law-abiding people on the whole, but just as in the case of the contraception mandate in Obama-care, I am beginning to conclude that perhaps we are the problem.  They seem to poke at us like a moron prodding a grizzly with a stick, safely from beyond the bars of a cage at the zoo.  We never seem to grab the stick, pull them close, and rip their faces from their thick skulls, and it is this that makes them all the more smug each time they poke at us:  We hold the key to the cage.

I’ve been asked too how it is that we can express this anger.  I suppose we could resort to pitchforks and torches, but I expect that’s precisely what the statists want.  In the mean time, we’ll wait peaceably for them to ban pitchforks and torches.  They’ve already made incandescent light-bulbs illegal.  How long can it be before torches are banned both as a matter of public safety and as a matter of environmental concern?  Pitchforks may require a better excuse, but I’m sure they’ll do something like limiting their length.  No, the way to express our anger comes down to something simpler, but even this, I’m afraid most people are too timid to attempt:  We can simply say “no,” and mean it.  Ayn Rand put forward the solution in Atlas Shrugged, but since few can be bothered to read a book of that epic length any longer, I suppose I had better give a brief summary: Those who work, and earn and build are convinced to simply stop, leaving nothing to the statists from which to subsist.  All the little moochers, and all the crony capitalists find they cannot survive without those who produce, and they quickly move to a post-Apocalyptic society where anarchy reigns for a time, until the looters ultimately reduce themselves to insignificance.

The basic idea is this:  All of this is done by our consent.  The ghastly welfare-state, the crony-capitalism, the corruption, all of it, every piece, because in part, some of us are corrupted by it, and in part because we are too fearful to simply say “no” and thereby undergo the temporary misery of a rapidly collapsing society.   Only our productive endeavors keep this monster alive.  Each time we go to work, invest our money, or shove some of it into a savings account, we’re feeding the beast.  We’re keeping it alive.  It is by behaving as a parasite on our life-blood, our productive enterprises, our labor, and our jobs that this is all kept going.  Without our daily/weekly/monthly/annual ‘contributions’ to their system, their system would quickly starve and die.  The idea of leaving this all behind has come to be termed “going Galt,” a hat-tip to the book’s hero, John Galt.   In Rand’s novel, he was the first to abandon the society to its own devices, determined that he would no longer to provide it any form of support, material, or otherwise.  He then set about the task of convincing others to join him.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am on the cusp of “going Galt.” Being as this site is named “Mark America,” perhaps the act would come to  be known as “going America,” and that would be fitting, indeed.  Our country has fallen into the depths of a sickness from which the only recovery will be when we decide to impose it.  We have the power to treat this disease.  We have the ability to starve it of nourishment.  Do we have the courage?  Somehow, while I would love to credit Americans with the courage of the ages, still, I get the nagging impression that too many among us would be comfortable as slaves so long as the bellies are full, the roofs don’t leak, and the rivers don’t rise.  It’s a depressing state of affairs.

Are there any willing to starve the beast, even at the cost of their own temporary, although probably somewhat protracted discomfort?  None can say.  None dare say.  Meanwhile, let’s be angry.  Without corresponding action, it doesn’t fix much, but it sure feels good.

 

Knowing the Difference Between “Can” and “Should”

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

“What can one do?”  Clearly, that list is far more extensive than the more important one: “What should one do?” I can this moment walk into my kitchen, find a fork, and jam it into my forehead.  I can do all sorts or self-destructive things, but the question isn’t a matter of what I can do, but instead what I should do.  Knowing this difference is something we hope to teach to our children with enough clarity and just enough severity that they understand the distinction.  It is a lesson far too many seem to forgo on their passage from childhood into adulthood.  More often than not, those who do so become annoyed when you point it out.  They say in childishly obstinate petulance that “it’s my life(or my body) and I can do what I want.”  My question for those who hold this view of life is ever:  If nobody doubts that you can do a thing, why do you hold no doubts about whether you should do it?  This question is at the root of a deep cultural divide, and it thoroughly explains the collapse of our country.

Governments can do almost anything at all, particularly with the popular support of their people.  Does this mean a government should do anything at all?  It is not inconceivable that one could form a majority coalition that would demand that we eat the rich.  Literally.  We can do that, but the question remains: Should we?  We could create any number of similar political majorities that would propose equally obnoxious ideas, and seek to implement them in law.  Should we?  Great disasters in human death tolls made by other men have been carried out on the basis of the idea that since a thing can be accomplished, that it necessarily should be done, but the truth is that ‘should’ doesn’t necessarily follow ‘can.’

Our constitution laid out fairly well-defined parameters for what government can do, but more importantly, our framers laid out well-debated conclusions about what our government should do.  Their example was seen in the first few administrations, during which time government did do very little.  Over time, this tendency to forget “should” and begin implementing “can” eventually gave us a government that is doing almost all it conceivably can, but does very poorly at the few things it should.  Defense? Obama is slashing that, including our critical nuclear deterrence capacity.  Law enforcement?  That’s not something on which he spends a great deal of effort, although regulatory enforcement is now off the hook, with federal inspectors actually looking through pre-schoolers’ lunch bags.

The litany of things government can do is exhausting, and in fact, virtually infinite.  Governments can compel people to buy health insurance, or pay for their neighbors’ lunches, or almost anything you can imagine.  The things governments will do is supposed to be restrained, however, by the notions of what it should do, because in deciding what it should do, you’re also defining what it should not.  That was the point of the founders, and the limited government they designed told us what government should do, and in so framing it, they also made clear what government shouldn’t do.  Yes, they took the time to include a few things that government mustn’t do, but under the auspices of expanding what it can do, they’re now ignoring these limits too.  The proposition that government can require insurers to provide free contraceptive solutions comes at the expense of a thing government mustn’t do, which is to interfere in the matters of exercise of religion.

This is what you ultimately find when you consider only the question of what government can do, because it no longer pays respects to the limitations formerly provided by the things it should not do, or must not do.  “Should” is a matter of some debate, but it is one leftists seek to avoid. If you want simple proof of concept, I ask you only to think back to 2008, when Barack Obama was seeking the office of President, promising hope and change.  He spoke at length about the things that he would do as President, and in rallying his mind-numbed disciples, he exhorted them with cries of “Yes, we can!”

What Senator Obama did not say was: “Yes, we should.”