Thursday, June 08, 2017

Trumping Alinsky pt 1 - Ward Cleaver meets Al Bundy

Have you wondered how it is, that the pro-regressive's best tried and true tactics, tactics that have proven so highly effective at hamstringing their targets over the course of the past 50+ years, have suddenly begun to fail them so publicly? And although, so far, they've been unable to lay a solid glove, or even a lasting tweet, on Donald Trump (and no, second hand rumors of Russians do neither), he's hardly the only example, just the most persistent day to day one. Think Brexit, Trump, the body slamming Montana maniac, Rep. Gianforte, or James Comey being fired, or James Comey leaking his own memos, or James Comey attempting to sabotage Trump, and fingering former Attorney General Lynch, instead, which even Chris 'thrill running up my leg!' Matthews had to admit, has made their entire Russian angle, go bust.

What's up with that?

If you wonder on that long enough to ask some questions, and long enough to move on from those initial questions, to still other questions (and I do mean questions, mind you, not merely doubts), you might find that they will bring you face to face with some interesting clues and questions, which, if you're willing to follow them, will lead you into taking a closer look at who it is that we, and you, are. True, they might not provide the full answer, and what they do provide, might be a little unsettling, but the clues are at least easy enough to find, and to follow, and, as the examined life is not worth spinning, you might as well.


For instance, to give you a clue just how easy it is to find these clues, just turn on the News. Take a look at the media spokespeople who're telling you what's going on - man, woman, Maddow, local, network, web or cable - it doesn't matter, just take a look, and then ask yourself this question:
'Does the way that these news sources communicate to you - not what they communicate, but how they present themselves and the way they present their information - seem to you to be normal for this day and age?'
With one or two rare exceptions, which prove the rule, the answer to that will be: No. And I'll betcha that if you ask yourself what group, place, or time period, that they do remind you of, I'll bet that the 'when' in time that they remind you most of, is some sort of throwback to the 1950's, maybe early 1960's.

Don't they?

And the answer to why that is, is a big clue to why Trump is winning. And yes, he, at least, is still winning. Even now. And you don't need to be a Trump supporter - I'm certainly not (and by that I only mean that he has no history of displaying the manner and commitment to ideas, that I can support) - in order to see this; it's just right out there in the open, if you open your eyes and look.

Those that we are in the habit of looking to, for information about our world, look like they do, because the media, Left, Right and center, have consciously formed themselves from a template derived from a 1950's 'Leave it to Beaver!' world of Ward Cleavers - as have the more popular means of manipulating (or attacking) the world we perceive around us.

Just look at what is deemed to be 'edgy' today - think Vagina costumes and pink pussy hats. They're only conceived of as being 'edgy', in relation to those things that would shock that old 'Leave it to Beaver' world view - do such fashion choices shock the generations raised in a world of 'South Park' or 'The Simpson's'? I'm gonna say, nope - in fact, they're far more likely to laugh at and mock it (another big clue).

Nope, the stuffed shirt shock and outrage of the estab...but no, 'establishment' doesn't quite cut it.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day - Remembering those of our Military who did not learn not to

Memorial Day - Remembering those of our Military who did not learn not to
My friend Jimi posted a video of a video portion of President Reagan's First Inaugural Address that's highly fitting for Memorial Day, and while I'd heard it before, somehow I'd missed that part of what he was reading, the most moving part, was from an inscription that a soldier who died in WWI, Private Martin A. Treptow, had made in his journal. Treptow wasn't a philosopher or a teacher or any sort of 'intellectual', he was a person who worked in a barber shop who simply understood that what he valued was worth, and required, defending.

What has become known as 'Treptow's Pledge', comes from the flyleaf of his diary:
"My Pledge: America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone."
Remarkable. However what might be most remarkable of all, is that in our world today, such a pledge seems remarkable to us, whereas for Treptow, a barber from a century ago, he considered it to be a simple matter of course, a simple truth that was worth reflecting upon in his diary, so that he could get on with carrying it out.

Remember today those who put their lives on the line for this nation, and in the course of doing so, lost them.

Reflect on what it is about America that could, and should, inspire such ideals, and on the Consitution which those we memorialize on this day, swore their lives to defend.

Consider also why it might be that such pledges might seem unusual to us today. As in a different context, a person being interviewed for his heroic actions replied to the question of how a person learns to willingly risk their life for another, the puzzled hero replied:
"How does he learn not to?"
Remember today, and give a moment's thanks, to those of our United States Military who lost their lives in service to their nation, because they did not learn not to.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Civics Classes, and a Future Past

Recently, the actor and sometimes leftist activist, Richard Dreyfuss, was interviewed on Tucker Carlson's show, and as you may have seen, or heard snippets of, or at least heard about, Dreyfuss soundly denounced the 'Antifa' activists who've been using violence on campus, to squelch people's ability to freely speak and associate. Kudos to Dreyfuss on that. But. For those of you on the Right, who are enthusing "Wow! There's a sensible Leftist that we can get behind!", please, for once, slow down a bit. While I too like the sound of much of what Dreyfuss says in this video - particularly his call to engage in the 'Battle of Ideas' in open discussions, and of course his call of 'Let's get back to the constitution and the Bill of Rights!', it is well worth remembering that what we think we are hearing, isn't always what the speaker meant for us to be hearing, and that what was actually meant (or will inevitably follow, despite their best of intentions), will often turn out to be something that we really do not want to hear, let alone experience.

That very situation, is, of course, what a good discussion should ideally expose and clarify for those in the conversation - but that cannot happen, if we, as we too often do, assume that their words, are said with our meaning, and so we, especially those on the Right, don't ask, don't check, don't clarify, what was meant - and so we are continually blindsided when their actual meaning is put into action. Ya know, for a group that's so fixated on the need to improve their messaging, you'd think that they'd notice that 'Wuht?! How did this happen?!', isn't a particularly attractive message to be habitually messaging from your group.

What sort of words could I mean? Well, words, for instance, such as the 'Civics' that Dreyfuss said he wants to see us getting back to,
“Civics has not been taught in the American public school system, since 1970…”
'Civics' is a word that sounds very significant. And our schools' lack of such a class - which is intended to be 'the training of students for democracy' (hmm) - sounds like a shocking situation, and a very sensible concern (although, as I, sadly, had to sit through the drudgery of Civics classes in 1972-74, in a Las Vegas public school at "Hyde Park Junior High", his blanket statement is at least questionable). But before we on 'The Right' go backing up his call, we should remember that the 'Civics Education' which he most likely wants to see, came from a concept of civics classes, that was once among the first of those 'bold, innovative thrusts' promoted by the education industry, from the opening of the 20th century, on. Such Civics classes were a particular favorite of 'educational reformers' such as John Dewey, who, for what he thought were very good reasons, was very big on pragmatically abandoning our past, and our traditional reverence for Truth, as well as the idea of 'the training of students for democracy' (isn't putting the 'training' of students in political views, into the hands of a government institution, even a trifle concerning?), so as to do 'what works', in order to take America 'into the future!'.

Maybe it's just me, but doesn't it occur to anyone else, that it's quite possible that the current situation we find our educational system, and our society, to be in, is a result of those very Civics classes, which Dreyfuss is advocating for us to engage in? Again?

Are we really going to blindly accept, that what we assume they mean by that word, is such a good thing for us to want to 'get back to' engaging in? Again? Perhaps, rather than seeking to get back to their future in civics, we should take a little time to consider what teaching Civics, as we once did, does, to a students understanding of civics, and to their understanding of individual rights, and to their understanding of the role of government within that society, that they are soon to become the future civic members and leaders, of?

One thing that both sides should be clear on, is that what we think we hear when we hear the word 'Civics', is highly unlikely to be what the other side means by it, because there exists among us such vast differences of opinion on political philosophy. We don't simply have differing perspectives on

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Why is America fired up over President Trump telling Comey: "You're fired!"

If you've had it already with the 'James Comey fired from the FBI!' stories, I get it, but as no one seems to have any more facts than I do, I'm going to add one more comment to the mix.

Do try to recognize, that asking and answering 'Why did Trump fire James Comey?!', is, in absence of an exhaustive cross examination of Donald Trump, nothing more than an exercise in expressing your own feelings about Trump, and Comey. Period.

The only facts that we can actually know at this time, is that shortly after the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, was finally confirmed by the senate, with high bi-partisan support (and which satisfied some procedural protocols for removing the agency director, from a staffing perspective), and he was asked to write a report on Comey's status as director of the FBI, and his conclusion (which as he adamantly expressed, even reportedly threatening to resign if it was misrepresented[OOPS: reportedly, that 'reportedly' is fake news. STUNNER], was not the causal reason for Comey's firing, but simply an evaluation of the existing situation) was that Comey was compromised and ineffective, and that the FBI would be better off with a new director.

Of course, as I posted last year, Comey, by his own testimony, had used his position as head of investigations, to make prosecutorial, and even judicial judgments, about whether charges should be brought or pursued, against Hillary, Huma Abedein, Anthony Wiener, etc. For me, that alone warranted his instant termination. My own question on why Trump fired him, is not 'Why now?' but 'Why not earlier?'. However, as James Comey himself noted in his farewell letter, the president has the power and authority to fire the director of the FBI at any time, for any reason. You should note, that his removal does not halt or impede any ongoing investigations. It's also worth noting, that his temporary replacement as Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, is a Clinton appointee, who has shown, especially through his wife's campaigning for office a potential for highly partisan leftist leanings - Trump is unlikely to get much aid and comfort through his position as director, so do tailor your pet conspiracy theory appropriately.

Why did Trump fire him? Because he felt it was time to. And in typical Trump fashion, having reached that decision, he acted swiftly, and in a dramatic fashion worthy of Reality T.V. - Comey found out that he'd been fired while standing in front of a room full of FBI agents, as they saw that the TV monitor behind him, was running the news crawl that Trump had fired him. Talk about your ratings moment!

For those of you who are all up in arms about this, honestly, I can only laugh and shake my head. America as a whole, Left, Right, Center and Libertarian, has shown itself to be uninterested in, and unfamiliar with, the concepts of, and structures of, our constitutional republic, preferring popularity, personal interest, and 'gotcha!' partisan political posturing, to prudent wisdom in governing. America, sorry, but as you clearly prefer to be entertained by the likes of South Park, The Simpsons, and Reality T.V., and YOU voted on that basis, whether for Clinton, Trump or the also-ran obstructionists, for President of the United States of America.

THIS is what that looks like! What did you expect?! Personally, I expected much worse, and so far I've been pleasantly surprised with what Trump has, and has not, done in office - I was imagining much worse. I dislike his lack of understanding our constitutional principles, and especially his economic views, but despite your angst and caricatures, he has a long history of capable executive, management and administrative abilities, a fond regard for Americana, as well as a flare for drama and publicity, which he's honed through a decade or more of Reality T.V., and so far, he has used all of that to deliver above my expectations. Fingers crossed. Salt tossed over shoulder. Wood knocked.

For those whose reactions are dramatically different from mine, they might have been summed up best by Stephen Colbert's startlement at his audience's failure to be up to speed with the PC Media's latest 'against him, for him, against him' positions on Comey, as they cheered when he announced his firing. The thing that came to mind for me, when I heard that, was George Orwell's '1984', as the crowd is being led in 5 minutes of hate against "Eurasia", and the speaker receives a message and stops mid word, and changes to "Eastasia", as the hate continues on unimpeded. Unfortunately, Wiki is the best source ref that I can do at the moment, but I think it captures the Colbert moment in '1984':
"At the start, Oceania and Eastasia are allies fighting Eurasia in northern Africa and the Malabar Coast.

That alliance ends and Oceania, allied with Eurasia, fights Eastasia, a change which occurred during Hate Week, dedicated to creating patriotic fervour for the Party's perpetual war. The public are blind to the change; in mid-sentence an orator changes the name of the enemy from "Eurasia" to "Eastasia" without pause. When the public are enraged at noticing that the wrong flags and posters are displayed, they tear them down—thus the origin of the idiom "We've always been at war with Eastasia"; later the Party claims to have captured Africa."
Ladies and Gentlemen of America, if you disregard the concepts and principles and history that made this nation uniquely American, in favor of idle and base amusements, while giving political power over your lives, to people who have more regard for their own power, than your individual rights - what did you think would follow after that? Last year, the HBO series "Westworld" made masterful use of a Shakespearean nugget of a quote, from "Romeo & Juliet",
"These violent delights, have violent ends"
When you comment, and act, not from careful consideration, but simply to give swift vent to your passionate and emotional feelings, you transform yourself into the ideal audience for taking part in 'Hate Week', and lacking any solid conceptual foundation, you too will hardly skip a beat in venting your emotions, as the label of your hated enemy is switched, from one set of letters, to another... and seriously, why would you think such labels would have any more value or purpose, to those you've put in charge of running the show, than a red cape to a bull?

Again I've got to ask, America, what did you expect? SMDH.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day: Comply, or be put six feet under it!

The underlying meaning of Earth Day, a day that was chosen to coincide with Vladimir Lenin's birthday, shouldn't be all that difficult to realize. The fact that one of its original promoters and first MC, was a fellow who later murdered his girlfriend and composted her body, shouldn't be all that shocking. Neither should it be shocking that its like minded enthusiasts openly populate groups such as 'Earth First', who advocate terrorism in order to halt industry, and who pine for an event that would 'reduce the population of the earth' by several billion lives; "Back to the Pleistocene!" is one of their slogans, and the ideal of gurus of theirs like Paul Shepard.

Neither should it be shocking that other like minded movements over the decades, have routinely promoted crisis hysteria fads, that have come and gone, and come back again, from 'Silent Spring of DDT!', to 'acid rain!', to a 'population bomb!', 'vanishing oil!', 'new ice age!', 'the ozone hole!', 'global warming!', 'global cooling!', 'climate change!', 'Go Green!', etc - they all seek to link the loss of an apparent good, behind the cover of 'science!', so as to attain unrestrained political power, over as many people as they possibly can.

It's a tactic that's proven effective, from Robespierre, to Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Hugo Chavez, and the vast number of our current wannabes scurrying around on 'Earth Day' today. What it is all about, is putting a zealous few, into positions of overwhelming power over the many, so as to live our lives for us, in a manner which they anticipate will be satisfying to them.

When you see the heart tugging images, before succumbing to emotion, remember that what they all seek to do, and find common cause amongst themselves in doing, is sating their movement leader's own moral self satisfaction, through attaining the power to compel other people's thoughts and actions, to agree with, or else submit to, their own desires.

Nothing but evil can, or will, follow from that.

Friday, March 17, 2017

A question for 'REAL Conservatives'™

I've got a question for my 'REAL Conservatives'™ friends out there. While I've come to think of myself as more as more of a Liberal Conservative - Politically Liberal (Not Leftist, but Liberal in the classical sense of advocating for liberty), and culturally Conservative (not socially conservative, but seeking to conserve the ideals and treasures of Western Culture) - I like to think of myself as someone who has an understanding of the nature of Principles, to the point of preferring Principled thinking, over attempting to think with prefabricated store bought 'principles' (IOW I can get a bit obnoxious over it).

Between Scylla and Charybdis

I like to think of myself as someone who has an understanding of the nature of individual rights, the vital role that property plays in upholding them under a system of justice based upon the Rule of Law, which restrains and restricts the necessary power of government to defending the lives and rights of its people from all enemies, foreign and domestic. I've spent a lot of time thinking through how those abstract rights, follow from perceptual realities, in a conceptual chain that is perilous to abridge. And while I rarely find politicians who think as I do, I do seek out and support those who at least show a deep regard for our rights, for the rule of law, and the structure and purpose of our Constitution.

Given that focus, I couldn't find a way to support Donald Trump in the Primaries, because I didn't see any evidence that he understood, or gave much thought or regard, for what I did. I couldn't exactly support him in the general election either, although I strongly advocated for casting your vote, as I did, with his name on it, as the most effective means of defeating the greater evil facing us, from the Pro-Regressive Left.

My question for 'REAL Conservatives'™, is this: Why is it, that with all the 'REAL Conservatives'™ we've supported and elected over the decades, why is it that this billionaire, Twitter headed, Reality T.V. star, Donald J. Trump, is the ONLY one to propose the type of budget measures he has, the ONLY one who's moved to slay the Hydra of the Administrative State, the ONLY one who's used his executive powers to attack it, the ONLY one whose told the hell hole of North Korea that the era of 'strategic patience' is at an end, and the ONLY one to begin to pull back from the Charybdis of suck that is the United Nations?

That seems like a question that might be worth giving some thought to.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Dear GOP: To Repeal Is To Replace; to Replace Without Repealing Is To Suck

When it comes to the question of what to do about ObamaCare, there once seemed to be clarity on 'The Right': Repeal it. That was soon, slowly, altered to Repeal and Replace it. Why?

Andrew Breitbart once made a remark along the lines of,
'If you can't sell Freedom and Liberty, you suck.'
Dear GOP: You suck.
(And yes, I understand that there's a mirror out there waiting for me)
I am forced to say that, because, if you do understand Liberty, Individual Rights, the Constitutional Rule of Law, then you'd also understand that "Full Repeal", IS to replace ObamaCare with the most superior option available: being at liberty to find the services, care, associations, charities, to be offered and chosen, in a free market.

There IS no better option available than that. There is no more moral system available, there is no more inclusive system available, and there is no more efficient system available. To give 'careful consideration' to all other available options, is to not understand the best available option!

The blatantly obvious, and supremely depressing fact is, that 'The Right' in general, and the GOP in particular, do not fully understand this, and so they have little enthusiasm or commitment to, capital "L" Liberty. Sure they like the sound of it, it has marketing utility for them, but they do not 'get' it, and so they can't sell it, and worse, Americans as a whole are obviously not clamoring for it, or the politicians would at least put more effort into faking it.

To recap: Repealing ObamaCare IS replacing it with a vastly superior option - the Liberty to act in a Free Market - and going any further with tweaking regulations, adding laws, manipulating taxation, forcing options and 'choices' upon patients, doctors, insurers and other providers, is restoring all of the essential evils that was, and is, inherent in Obamacare.

Worse than simply sucking at selling Freedom and Liberty, is not even trying to. Despicable.

Note: I'm disgusted with Paul Ryan & Congress on this, not Trump. Trump at least ran on this muck, he's doing what he promised to. Paul Ryan & Congress are the dishonest pukes who've pretended to be against this, have pretended to understand why this should be opposed, and yet have written and proposed this.

For my friends on the Right, a far more important question than the spastic 'How was Trump elected?!', is 'Why is this being accepted?', and until that is understood, your complaints about Trump, RINO's and the Left, are pointless.

(Libertarians: pipe down and keep your two cents, most of you suck just as bad or worse at it.)

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Jeff Sessions' Recusal: The GOP's continuing pursuit of publicly preening their political stigmata.

So Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, in response to a spurious, baseless, charge. Was this an admirable act of selflessly sacrificing himself to maintain the appearance of justice? Is he rising above "... any semblance of a conflict of interest...", by appeasing the calls of those who have no concern for impartiality, or truth, or justice?

No (begin rant).

His action today lifts no one, ennobles no process, and is itself a form of injustice. It's a dereliction of duty, sacrificing that Justice which he has been put in office to defend. His action will reduce no political temperatures for the Trump administration, but will only serve as a means to turning up the heat. Why is it that the Right positively loves indulging in and bathing in these waters of judicial snake-oil, do they really think that they look good preening in them before the media, and the nation?

It is unsightly and obscene.

Am I going too far? I wish. There was no honest question of propriety involved here, only the Left's relentless pursuit of an opening, any convenient pretext, to gain political benefits for themselves by means of the media, which they have not been able to achieve through public elections.

This is the main exchange that is being manipulated against Attorney General Sessions:
"SEN. PATRICK J. LEAHY: Several of the President-elect's nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?" the Vermont Democrat asked in a questionnaire.

He was asked if he had been in contact with any member of the Russian government 'about the 2016 election', and he answered, 'No'.  Did that question, or his answer to it, in any way imply that he had not met with representatives of the Russian Govt at all?


Why? Because as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, it would be not at all unusual for him to have met with ambassadors from other nations, including Russia, as a part of his job, and his having done so in that capacity, does not impact the answer he gave in any way, shape or form, not even if he were running for his own re-election, because it is part of such a senator's job. Even my own Senator from Missouri, Sen. McCaskill did, although she claimed that she'd never met with a Russian Ambassador in her position as a senator on that same Armed Services Committee, which Twitter and the Washington Post quickly showed to be a, by Democrat standards, blatant lie.

Are we to presume then, that, as a Democrat herself, that she now intends to tender her resignation in an attempt to live up to those same preposterous standards she demands of the Right?

No? Huh. Such a surprise.

Sessions should not have even offered a verbal 'PC Penance' of '... despite appearances, in fact...'. Instead, he should have called out these deceptive, dishonest, manipulative allegations, as being what they are, and continued on with the business he was put in office to do.

Did he?


Instead, following the traditional GOP passion for publicly preening in ritual acts of political self mutilation, he chose to recuse himself from those duties that, if he cared about Truth and Justice, he should have diligently insisted upon personally overseeing, with extreme care and attentiveness, because that's what he owes, not to the media, but to the American people, on whose behalf he is now serving as Attorney General.

Instead, we're treated yet again to the GOP's preferred means of parading about in their political stigmata, by indulging, again and again, in actions that are the equivalent of those who cut and scar themselves for attention, offering up the plaintive cry:
'Aren't our wounds admirable and impressive?!'
The truly despicable truth is, that the GOP's indulging in these actions gives the left's deliberate lies and aspersions a sheen of credibility, serving to empower and embolden their efforts to increase their own ill-gotten political powers, by any means necessary. And this recusal will fuel and intensify their pursuit of those powers.

Will it accomplish anything at all for the GOP? No. Will it encourage the Pro-Regressive Left to treat them more fairly? No. Will it lessen pressure on the Trump administration? Hell no. Will it in any way shape or form enable the GOP to better uphold and defend justice for the people of the United States of America? No.

Will it weaken the GOP's ability to faithfully advance what they were elected by the people of the United States of America to do? Yes. Will that weakness encourage the left in its pursuit of even more power? Yes, it absolutely will do that.

For this, President Trump ought to tell Jeff Sessions: "You're fired!"

There are a lot of things that I take issue with Trump on, but in this case, I'd like to see a lot less GOP/Reince Preibus - Trump, and a lot more News Conference-Trump, something like 'This is a fake story and we're not going to treat fantasy as reality, so sit down!''s times like this that 'the Right' disgusts me, and I am so proud to Not be a member of the GOP.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

President Trump lands an ace of a speech, and shows off his mad Political-Fu skills

A couple quick thoughts before bed, on Trump's speech to a joint session of Congress.. Although I had a positive response to it, overall, especially in the 'political-fu' of it, there were several things that I liked, and several that I disliked about Trump's speech, and some I was delighted to be surprised by.

Being that eliminating the Administrative State is my highest political priority, on the road to returning us to a nation of laws dedicated to upholding individual rights under the rule of law, and defending our people from all enemies, foreign and domestic, you can probably guess what 'sent a thrill up my leg'.

His comments about
"...creating a deregulation task force inside of every Government agency..."
, was music to my ears. As were those geared towards seeing to our military and law enforcement, and the various 'draining the swamp' measures. For those asking the easy question 'If reducing regulations is good, why not just eliminate the agencies?' There are no magic means of doing that, and as frustrating as it is, government can only be reduced by governmental means. Baby steps. It took us 140+ years to get here, no president is going to rid us of them armed only with a phone and a pen.

The surprises, were he didn't go for bombast, he didn't call out congress or the press, and, amazingly, he turned several promising 'Do a shot when you hear___' Memes into a dry, temperance fest of an evening, by not saying "Believe me!" or "let me tell you!" a single time.

But there were a number of things that were disturbing. What seems to be his idea of handling several issues, from infrastructure, to education, by means of "Public/Private partnerships", those alarm me. Such partnerships are conduits for politically driven favoritism, corruption, and expanding the reach and depth of the administrative state - the very things I'm thrilled that he is intent upon reducing.

While removing barriers to selling health insurance between states is a big plus, and repealing ObamaCare is a HUGE plus, when he appends '... and Replace' to the 'Repeal', it disturbs and infuriates me just as much today, as it did when I first heard Boehner floating it, years ago.

Trade Deficits are protectionist bogeymen, and pursuing them is very likely to damage the economy he is intent upon aiding... and so on, see-sawing back and forth through the speech.

So yes, overall it was an excellent speech, he completely disarmed and flummoxed the foolish democrats in their white dresses and sour faces. There was much in it to raise hopes, but also a fair measure to warrant heightened alarms.

So, ok, off to bed, more to come on this later, but for now, we'll watch, hope, and see what we see.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Would Judge Gorsuch on the Supreme Court be some of that promised 'Winning'? Maybe so!

Well. I'm late to the SCOTUS party and just getting started on looking into Judge Neil Gorsuch's legal opinions, but... suffice to say that for the moment, it's looking good. While skimming various bios of him last night, my attention was caught by this bit from the Atlantic,

"...The most remarkable thing about the book is its measuredness. Gorsuch is a Jesuit-educated Episcopalian, but he does not rely on theology to make his argument. In fact, he takes pains to ground his work in “secular moral theory,” laying out a careful case based on the writings of thinkers from Aquinas and Epicurus to contemporary scholars Peter Singer and Ronald Dworkin. His work reads more like a philosophy paper than a legal brief, which is appropriate given his background: He holds a doctorate in philosophy from Oxford.

Gorsuch reveals a few interesting lines of thinking in his book. First, it’s clear that he’s deeply interested in fundamental moral principles. The common wisdom around his nomination is that he’s an originalist, reading laws and the Constitution based on their authors’ intended meaning. During his nomination announcement, he emphasized this principle: “I respect … the fact that in our legal order it is for Congress and not the courts to write new laws,” Gorsuch said. “It is the role of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people’s representatives.”..."[emphasis mine]
This was especially timely, in that I was just grousing to folks, about how, with the rare exception of someone like Justice Clarence Thomas, few in our courts have much, if any, regard for the concepts of Natural Law that our Constitution was drawn out of in our Founder's Era. Instead, we've had to settle for, at best, the more primitive modernist 'Originalists' and 'Textualists' - and now here this fellow Gorsuch is sounding as if I may have to, well, not quite 'eat my words', but I may possibly have to nibble on them a bit. Around the edges.

And frankly, that's the kind of crow I'd gleefully chow down on all day long - fingers crossed!

Then this evening, in the first opinion I selected, his concurring opinion (starting on about pg 15) in Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, 834 F.3d 1142 (10th Cir. 2016), which focuses upon how Administrative Agencies have been allowed to overstep their power (to say the least (which the 'Chevron' case is referring to), the concurring portion starts with a Bang! and keeps getting better, and better.
"There’s an elephant in the room with us today. We have studiously attempted to work our way around it and even left it unremarked. But the fact is Chevron and Brand X permit executive bureaucracies to swallow huge amounts of core judicial and legislative power and concentrate federal power in a way that seems more than a little difficult to square with the Constitution of the framers’ design. Maybe the time has come to face the behemoth..."
, and they just keep coming,
"...Even more importantly, the founders considered the separation of powers a vital guard against governmental encroachment on the people’s liberties, including all those later enumerated in the Bill of Rights. What would happen, for example, if the political majorities who run the legislative and executive branches could decide cases and controversies over past facts? They might be tempted to bend existing laws, to reinterpret and apply them retroactively in novel ways and without advance notice. Effectively leaving parties who cannot alter their past conduct to the mercy of majoritarian politics and risking the possibility that unpopular groups might be singled out for this sort of mistreatment — and raising — along the way, too, grave due process (fair notice) and equal protection problems. Conversely, what would happen if politically unresponsive and lifetenured judges were permitted to decide policy questions for the future or try to execute those policies? The very idea of self-government would soon be at risk of withering to the point of pointlessness. It was to avoid dangers like these, dangers the founders had studied and seen realized in their own time, that they pursued the separation of powers. A government of diffused powers, they knew, is a government less capable of invading the liberties of the people. ..."
, and,
"...But however that may be, none of it rescues us from our riddle. For whatever the agency may be doing under Chevron, the problem remains that courts are not fulfilling their duty to interpret the law and declare invalid agency actions inconsistent with those interpretations in the cases and controversies that come before them. A duty expressly assigned to them by the APA and one often likely compelled by the Constitution itself. That’s a problem for the judiciary. And it is a problem for the people whose liberties may now be impaired not by an independent decisionmaker seeking to declare the law’s meaning as fairly as possible — the decisionmaker promised to them by law — but by an avowedly politicized administrative agent seeking to pursue whatever policy whim may rule the day. Those problems remain uncured by this line of reply"
, and,
"...Even supposing, too, that we could overlook this problem — even supposing we somehow had something resembling an authentic congressional delegation of legislative authority — you still might wonder: can Congress really delegate its legislative authority — its power to write new rules of general applicability — to executive agencies? The Supreme Court has long recognized that under the Constitution “congress cannot delegate legislative power to the president” and that this “principle [is] universally recognized as vital to the integrity and maintenance of the system of government ordained by the constitution.” Marshall Field & Co. v. Clark, 143 U.S. 649, 692 (1892). Yet on this account of Chevron we’re examining, its whole point and purpose seems to be exactly that — to delegate legislative power to the executive branch..."
, and,
"...Even under the most relaxed or functionalist view of our separated powers some concern has to arise, too, when so much power is concentrated in the hands of a single branch of government. See The Federalist No. 47 (James Madison) (“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands . . . may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”). After all, Chevron invests the power to decide the meaning of the law, and to do so with legislative policy goals in mind, in the very entity charged with enforcing the law. Under its terms, an administrative agency may set and revise policy (legislative), override adverse judicial determinations (judicial), and exercise enforcement discretion (executive). Add to this the fact that today many administrative agencies “wield[] vast power” and are overseen by political appointees (but often receive little effective oversight from the chief executive to whom they nominally report), and you have a pretty potent mix... "
My initial reaction to all of this?

I'm feeling like I'm in judicial heaven, or at least the Court Candy Store... but... that's a first impression. And yes, I've heard some folks complaining that he didn't come out with a full throated defense of the 2nd Amdt in another case - worrisome, but it's a bit difficult to see how that gibes with the ideas put out in this case - if he is stays consistent with the ideas dealt with here, having this judge on the Supreme Court, would be a big step back onto the road to restoring the Rule of Law.

Still though, I've got quite a bit more reading to do before I really buy into it - good or bad.

But so far? This is the kind of 'Winning!' that I could get used to.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

"...President Trump took an ax, gave the Govt Agencies 40 whacks..."

Here's another case of my 'partial good/potential bad' take on Trump, that has me both cheering, and sighing, at the same time. A friend brought it to my attention that, along with his many other recent actions against regulatory excesses, Trump's people are apparently planning on severely reducing the size, or even existence, of a number of federal agencies.

As you might expect, that makes me cheer! But the reported reasons for it... 'budget savings', leaves me somewhere between a 'meh' and a sigh.

As I commented to my friend, IMHO, the budget should not even enter into the question, and if it does, then they either don't understand the question, don't understand the budgets, or are weakly using budgetary reasons as excuses to cut what they feel some vague ideological compulsion to do.

But I'll take it!

But if it was me that had the power to swing the ax, the very first ones that I'd cut, would be the National Endowments for the Arts, and for the Humanities. They'd be the first to go, because they are the most extreme examples of why they all should go (with the possible exception of the 'Community Oriented Policing Services', and 'Civil Rights Division (though I strongly suspect a cursory examination would show them to be worthy in name only)), which is because the Federal Govt has no justifiable purpose or power for involving itself, and us, in them.

And also because, above almost any other institutions in society, I care about the Arts and Humanities the most. The inevitable result of political powers involving themselves in the arts, is the contamination, degradation and corruption of them that has to follow from the politicization of artists and their art.

As to all of the other agencies, I'd gleefully sever them from the public teat, because they are ideological perversions of the public trust, justice and the rule of law, which operate under the barest pretexts of furthering 'the greater good'. These 'Federal Agencies' are blights upon the land.


So, to sum up, this is unfortunate:
"Some of President Donald Trump's planned budget cuts appear to be targeted more at undercutting Democratic priorities than at shrinking the national debt."
, but this sure as hell isn't!
"the following 17 ... federal agencies reportedly on the chopping block..."

  1. Corporation for Public Broadcasting
  2. National Endowment for the Arts
  3. National Endowment for the Humanities
  4. Minority Business Development Agency
  5. Economic Development Administration
  6. International Trade Administration
  7. Manufacturing Extension Partnership
  8. Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
  9. Office of Violence Against Women
  10. Legal Services Corporation
  11. Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department
  12. Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department
  13. Overseas Private Investment Corporation
  14. UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  15. Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability
  16. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
  17. Office of Fossil Energy

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Donald becomes The President

Ok, so, a few quick comments about Trump's inaugural speech. It was simple, direct, unpretentious, even pithy in its restatement of those themes he campaigned upon, which, given his reputation, is all the more striking, as he apparently waved off the speech writers who customarily put words into our president's mouths, and wrote his speech himself. Personally, I thought it was a good speech; I have some concerns about parts, but in comparison to the soaring rhetorical pap and constitutional horror shows of Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush...?, this inaugural speech was a tonic.

That being the case, of course, the Left hated it, hated it in pretty much every way it could be hated, and not surprisingly, some of the more interesting things about his speech, from an event perspective, are what Leftist's have been saying about it. I won't waste space here going over their reactions, but I urge everyone to read NPR's attempted fisking of it - an exercise in tag team biased editorial commentary, arrogantly dressed up in 'annotated' drag. What's amusing though, is how much they manage to reveal about themselves through the lines they comment upon, what they say about them, and even more so through what they skip right on by without comment. It gives us a fine illustration of why the left lost so badly in the last election, at every level, across the nation.

It's easy to find the theme of his speech reflected in multiple passages (which, BTW, is what good speech writers strive for, yet often fail to do), and they indicate both why he was elected, and why the media's go-to buzzward of the day on Friday was "Dystopian". :-)

This one passage sums up both why the Left is so upset by it, and why the Right was so not:
"Today's ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another.

But we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people."
The Pro-Regressive Left, conceived as it was upon the intent to centralize power away from the people, and under the watchful eyes of agency experts in Washington, absolutely hates that! Yet as much as I enjoy the imagery which that evokes, it is also conveys the 'partial good/potential bad', that most things Trump do. See if you can see what I mean, as he continues:
"What truly matters is not which party controls our government but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."
Right on the face of it, those are very satisfying, even reassuring sentiments. Also welcome, was his reference to the 'Forgotten Man' (which NPR completely whiffed). The Forgotten Man was a term from an essay at the opening of the 20th century, describing how one group of men in society are made to bear the brunt of that society's demand that they struggle and pay for the benefit of another portion of society, are made to follow the orders of yet another, smaller, self aggrandizing portion of society who take the credit for those efforts, while that first group of men who made all of their plans possible, are taken advantage of, abused and forgotten by society. Amity Shlaes, in her book "The Forgotten Man", detailed how FDR twisted that term to the purpose of expanding govt power, making the true 'Forgotten Man', even more forgotten (maybe NPR left it out because they remembered).

Of course, if Trump even partially succeeds in righting that (and his movements out of the box on the ACA, the EPA, TPP, and pledges to drastically cut regulatory controls, are extremely encouraging), that'll be a very good thing.

But righting society in that way isn't exactly what he said, is it? That's not what 'returning power' and '...become rulers once again' mean, or could be played out as. What he did say... well, not quite 'say' exactly, but what he evoked, was the idea of government deriving its power from the consent of the governed, and that they will not be ignored, and will regain their power - an admirable sentiment to be sure - but... that's also where the slope begins to get slippery, and a host of potentially bad things begin to loom before us.

For instance, how do you 'return' power to the people?

You can't, of course - if you were to try, which people would you return it to? Sure, most common sense people, and perhaps even Trump, would assume that meant stopping the government from usurping the powers which rightly belong to the people, but however it was meant, I assure you that politicians and bureaucrats mean something very different. A phrase like that evokes in them numerous committees, studies, oversight boards and commissions, because their livelihood, their very political futures, are rooted in power, and that is derived from extending favors or fears. At best, they'd set about picking some few to be empowered to 'return' powers to this neighborhood committee, or that economic forum, etc, all at the expense of everyone else, which is unlikely to be an improvement for them, and will surely put a burden upon still others, who will in turn become a new crop of forgotten men.

Of course, if Trump does cause the federal govt to cease and desist in usurping those powers which the Constitution doesn't give it the power to claim, that would be a very definite good - but the fact is that that isn't what he said, and what concerns me, despite the very middle class tenor of the passage, is that he spoke of 'Rulers', with the people becoming '...rulers once again'.
(You should check out the Gigapixel)

That's something that may be benign, but it could be much worse. Political power is a dangerous thing, it is why we do not have rulers in the United States of America, and keeping a vigilant and wary eye on those 'could's', is extremely important to keeping rulers out of the United States of America. Instead of 'rulers', we have a representative system, which, when adhered to, is very much about not giving We The People such power; rather, it is designed to separate the Sovereign, which is 'We The People', from the reigns of power, and it is also intended to separate their hired management team (our elected officials), from having full control of the reigns of power as well. Our Constitution is all about mediating political power, between powers, by means of laws derived from our Constitution, and in concert with it (Larry P. Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, has an excellent, and extraordinarily brief book explaining this aspect of our system, called 'The Founder's Key'. Highly recommended).

It is an ingenious feature of our Constitution that it derives its just powers from the consent of the governed, but even more ingeniously, it does not give either they, or their representatives, direct power. Any opening that enables the bureaucracy to do end-runs around it, even with the pleasing sound of 'returning power' to the people, however that might be accomplished, will inevitably further short circuit the Constitution's structure, balance and purpose, and lead to the further powerlessness of We The People.

The next section is problematic as well,
"...For too long, a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left. And the factories closed."
The first line there, is of course true, and detestable, as is the last, but the second line opens up the rhetorical gates. How could 'the people' be made to "share" in the nation's wealth, without redistributing it? Now relax Trump supporters, I'm not saying that Trump is proposing to pull an Obama by seeking to 'spread the wealth around'. But the nearness to an open door that this edges towards, is concerning to me; it is concerning to me that he apparently doesn't notice that the good intentions he feels over the wrongs he sees, just might intensify those same wrongs, through an unanticipated angle - and that won't be a good either.

That double edged sense flows and stirs throughout the rest of the speech, as in the next section,
"...At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction -- that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves.

These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public."
Again, there is a positive sense evoked, a very welcome sentiment, that the citizens are the reason why the nation exists - and issues of family, good jobs and educations are reasonable expectations, but if they are made into demands, they will soon transform their reasonability into something a great deal less reasonable. Does the nation exist to serve 'them'? No, in a very important sense, it most emphatically does not exist to serve them. Our constitutional government exists to uphold and defend the individual rights of its citizens from all enemies, foreign and domestic, but there is a sense where casting its purpose to be 'serving' its citizens, can, has, and will easily continue to abuse their rights in the name of providing them that 'service'. BTW, this is not simply speculation on my part, the fact is that the first solid fractures in our Constitutional government, the first instance of the federal government intruding upon the states with carrot and stick mandates (soon followed by laws and regulations) came upon us through exactly what he is focusing upon here: the notion that great schools and good jobs, are something that Govt should have an active hand in.

That particular good intention, which I've often gone into before, such as in this post, was originally proposed by Republicans, back in the 1860's, and it spawned both the Dept of Education (yes, in the 1860's, not 1960's) and the Dept of Agriculture, and all of the 'brooding monstrosity of American educationism' that we battle today, sprang from those very fertile weeds. It has helped to destroy the concept of Education in this nation, transforming it from the community efforts to provide the exemplars and information which best aid in becoming a moral, self-governing person capable of making intelligent decisions... into becoming economic chits in the workforce, something for businesses to order up by the bushel with these or those skills.

These are not good things, but they are easily and very understandably taken to be as such, by those who are too quick to reach for the apparent good, without further reflection, and a sense of direction that is rooted in a framework of our laws, and the concepts behind them.

And this, finally,
"...At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice...."
This is as it should be, America should be the first concern of Americans, and with a patriotic commitment to individual rights defended by the rule of law, there is no room for the hateful and stunted notions of prejudice. And of course our politics should devote total loyalty and allegiance to the United States of America, but that is only possible, through an understanding of, and adherence to, the Constitution and the concepts it was derived from. If we understand those, and their purpose, and we strive for those, we will reawaken and reanimate the greatness that is inherent in America... but without that... like unskilled miners, we are more likely to chase the fools gold of populism and nationalism, than the real thing of constitutionalism.

I am not a Trump supporter (though I certainly used his name on my ballot to help defeat the greater threat facing us in Hillary Clinton), but I am also, most definitely not a NeverTrump'r, or an anti-Trump'r. I do not buy into the easy lies and delusions that have been served up by all the various forms of media, as well as by other more well intentioned observers who are nevertheless so eager to find failures and offenses in Trump, that they will sully their perceptions of reality with pleasing bits of half chewed principles, petty illusions and sad to say, outright lies. If your argument hinges upon portraying President Trump as a dullard, a narcissist, a puppet of Russia, then your argument lacks an argument, it substitutes self delusion, credulous reporting spun from 'sources say', and flagrant propaganda, where its premises should have been. And frankly, both the Trump supporters, and the NeverTrumpr's, are speculating on his coming actions, for good or ill, on the basis of their own emotional evaluations, based largely upon the hearsay that resonates most with their own preferred enthusiasms/fears. I have no use for such 'arguments', or the peddling of them.

Of course I'd have preferred to have had someone with a track record of commentary on constitutional ideas and positions so that I could have something to base my evaluations and expectations on, but just because we don't have that, doesn't mean that I'm now going to conclude that I should buy into all of the ginned up fears about him that come along - but.. yes, I'm also very conscious that that too is based upon my hopes and off the cuff evaluations of him. The die is cast and we will have to see what we see, and respond accordingly.

But leaving the hysterics aside, there is much to be wary of in a Trump administration, but not because I think that he's a fool, a crook, or a Russian puppet, but precisely because I do not think he is a fool, a crook, or a Russian puppet. I do believe that President Trump loves America and wants to improve it... but I'm also painfully aware that such good intentions, without a solid respect and understanding for what is essential and primary to what truly does make America great, can, especially in the hands of a skilled manager and showman, easily, unintentionally, become every bit as dangerous as the actions of those who do mean to do us harm, and his supporters should not ignore that.

Still though, despite the best efforts of the masked thugs of the fascistic pro-regressive Left, his inauguration is past, and we have yet again been able to thank God for the peaceful transfer of power, from one worldview, to another - and that is damned near miraculous!

Now let's keep an eye on that power, and let's be especially on the lookout for any well, or ill-intentioned moves that might tarnish America's luster even further, and let us all hope and pray that President Trump is able to help de-grime, de-clutter, and pollish up America's greatness once again.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Red, White and Inaugural Blues - a Rant

On Friday, the 20th of January, 2017, the 45th President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump, a man I did not support in the recent election (though I opposed his final opponent, with him), will be sworn into office, and with that oath of office, he will become my, and every other American's, President.
‘On each national day of inauguration since 1789,
the people have renewed their sense of dedication to the United States.’

We're told on the eve of his inauguration that somewhere in the area of 70 Democrat members of Congress are declaring that they will not be attending the inauguration, as a means of protesting the man who will occupy the office of the President of the United States.

These are elected representatives of the government of the United States of America. They were, and are, elected to represent their constituents in the upholding and crafting of the laws of the land, under that very government, whose laws, and governance of them, impacts every one of our individual rights and lives.

To explicitly attempt to delegitimize the peaceful and complete transfer of power, to the person duly elected by We The People, in accordance with our laws, to the office of the President of the United States of America, for partisan political purposes (whether from the Left or the NeverTrump'r Right), is, at best, extreme political negligence, and it is undermining to not only the peaceful transfer of political power, but to the preservation of every value which these 'lawmakers' supposedly believe in, and were elected to represent.

That, in my book, is despicable, it is disgusting, and they, and those who blithely see that as somehow being worthy behavior, should be ashamed of themselves.

Yet people are converging upon Washington D.C. to protest, they are churning out gimmick after gimmick to shout down those they differ with, even calling them 'nazis!' , in order to 'protest' ... what?
[Note to SJW Snowflakes: The real Nazi's spent years taking it to the streets, marching and verbally and physically abusing people, intimidating the populace until they feared holding any 'politically incorrect' positions, forcibly paving the way for them to come to political power - it is you who are following in their footsteps!]
Whatever distractions they might flood social media with, what they are actually protesting, is the lawful, peaceful, election of the 45th President of the United States of America. What they are protesting in the name of 'Democracy!', is the democratic election of their fellow Americans in accordance with the laws of the land, in a peaceful political contest which is understood upon entering into, that one side is guaranteed to lose, and so by their own actions they show themselves to be immature, dishonest and uncivilized wretches, who are made all the more repulsive by attempting to drape themselves in the spirit of 'Democracy!', while deliberately undermining the democratic process.
Who needs Russians when you have Pro-Regressive Leftists!
Who needs Russians, when you've got Pro-Regressive Leftists?! They lost the electoral argument, and yet they feel entitled to protest, deride, and even to refuse to abide by the decision of their fellow Americans, with these cheap, juvenile, theatrics. Some of them, friends of mine and even relatives of mine, I'm ashamed to say, have even characterized these protests and pledges of 'not my President!' as, and I quote: Beautiful.

There is nothing beautiful in people treating the solemn and peaceful transfer of  political power, as if it were some sort of cheap piece of roadside performance art.

A Presidential Inauguration is the ritualized transfer of the reigns of power - that pure, dangerous, deadly, political power to penalize, punish, put to death and mandate actions and make war - this immense power is not being wrested away by violent slaughter, but is simply, boringly, being signed over across a sea of vastly differing and turbulent political viewpoints, peacefully, according to law, in a ceremony that has been solemnized by 228 years of tradition, under our Constitution which has been proven more successful and enduring than any other system in all of human history.

These protesters see nothing remarkable in that. They see nothing disturbing or dangerous in delegitimizing that. They see nothing admirable in this incredible and historic track record which we in America have, of binding down the powers of violence and ambition, by nothing more than the cords of law. They seem unaware that our laws don't gain the strength to do that by the paper they are printed upon, but by being written upon the hearts of We The People of this nation, as they were for We The Peoples and any who show the 'wrong' beliefs and allegiances.

Fascists projecting fascism
at least least two centuries. What these 'beautiful protests' ominously trumpet to the world now, is that that writing is fading from the hearts and minds of We The People; a people who are foolish enough to think that those laws can be made to fade away, and yet somehow imagine that those ever lurking beasts of ambition and brutality which they've made to stir with temptations of escape, will simply remain docile, tame, and quiet as they are unleashed, rather than break free and do violence to

Good Lord People, our Government, IS US - it isn't in our buildings, or in our courts, in our military or even in our written laws, but is in our understanding and respect for them. Our Government lays in our self-government, our willing agreement to set aside the resort to use of force, or the encouragement of it, for peaceful and reasonable dispute and agreement and our willingness to abide by reasonable judgments, even and especially when we 'lose' the dispute. If we lose that IN US, then it all falls apart, and cannot do otherwise.

For those hysterical supporters of 'Democracy!' who are out to overturn or undermine the results of a democratic election, and the Rule of Law, in order to force the rest of us to comply with their desires, you should keep in mind, that for all of your claims of caring about this or that disadvantaged minority such and such - if our respect for our laws, and our expectations of being able to rely upon those law to subdue the violent passions of ourselves and our fellows - if We The People are made to feel that a just government can no longer be counted upon to provide justice and order, then it's not the powerful who are going to suffer - no, that only happens under a system of laws - it is the weak, the weird, and the non-conformist, who will be made to feel the brunt of the powers unleashed by your discarded and forgotten respect for individual rights under the Rule of Law.

No one who is weak or in need of assistance, will survive that - and especially not any snowflakes.



Monday, January 16, 2017

The Powerful threat from within Representative Government

Ok, sure, it might be a total Captain Obvious move to point out that the term 'Representative Government', is one that contains two very different words, but what's less obvious, is the fact that before you can understand why the first of those two word's meaning is so important, it's necessary to have a fair understanding of what the second word of the term means, and just how dangerous it is to the meaning and purpose of its first word. As noted in my previous post, the trite heads or tails dilemmas that most of our attempts at discussing such matters are so easily diverted into ('A Democracy! No, a Republic!', 'Electoral College vs. Popular Vote', or 'He Is/Isn't my President!'), do nothing to deepen our understanding of either term, and serve mostly to divert our attention away from the questions we're supposedly considering. But not even the questions can be compacted into the space of calling heads or tails, and the more you puff up one preferred answer over the other, the further away we are all drawn from a useful discussion of them.

So, with that in mind, it's worth reminding ourselves of the basics of what it is that government is, how it derives its power, and how and why it is so important to limit its ability to use that power. As the old saying says,
'Government, like fire, is a troublesome servant and a terrible master'.
You want to use the Power... don't you...?
We don't need to try and attribute that phrase to one or more Founding Fathers, as it often has been, in order to make the truth of it more important and relevant, especially when we're so often tempted to turn to govt to impose our very best intentions upon the rest of us. The greatest dangers to our liberty, come from our best intentions to improve upon it. It is precisely when we're caught up in such
enthusiasms for 'doing good!' unto others, that we're most in need of being tempered by an understanding from history - that is what it is was that made our form of government possible, it is what made, and makes, it exceptional, and without which, neither it, nor we, can be exceptional - at least not in a good way.

So what is Government? Stripped of the finery and fanfare:
Government is the means of harnessing the collective power of a community towards... ends. 
What those ends are, who determines them and authorizes the pursuit of them, and most importantly, what it, and they, will not be allowed to do, depends upon how well your society delimits the powers of those holding the reigns of power. Where Government gains its power 'to do' what it will, is by enforcing claims, in whole or in part, upon the possessions, time and lives of its people, and if there are no limits to its claims or ends, then it will turn the collective power of your society, towards accomplishing whatever those in government (or those with their ear) desire to do, and with all of their very best intentions urging them on to do whatever 'it' might be.

Despite the aspirations of our Declaration of Independence, government does not need your consent - it can gain legitimacy from that, sure - but that's a later development, a 'nice to have' (in the eyes of those in positions of power within it), which is in no way necessary for it to wield its power over you.

At this point it might be useful to take note of a rather shocking point, especially shocking for those of us, like myself, who look to government as the means of establishing justice and defending our rights, and that point is this: those are not the most basic requirement that a society demands from their government! And with a very grudging nod towards Hobbes, what people do demand, first and foremost, is: Order. As Hobbes put it,
"...For before constitution of Soveraign Power (as hath already been shewn) all men had right to all things; which necessarily causeth Warre: and therefore this Proprietie, being necessary to Peace, and depending on Soveraign Power, is the Act of that Power, in order to the publique peace...."
I disagree with him, that that provides either a definition or justification for government, but it is, and should be, a frightening and sobering realization that that is the tipping point of political gravity that is always tugging at our perceptions, eagerly awaiting for us to forget our balance and fall back down to its baseline. That point is extremely dangerous to ignore, or to evade the realization that the government that does not effectively provide that fundamental service, will not stand for long; as a society sufficiently shaken up, will sink to any level, in order to enforce that basic compliance upon its own people, if they think it'll mean escaping from chaos - real or perceived (and if you think that doesn't apply to modern man, it's you who are being primitive in your thinking). That ground floor of order forms what I've called the 'Societal Baseline', and is what I was pointing out in an earlier post that looked into the Yanomamö Indians in the Amazon, it is what makes the brutality of a tribal thug, preferable to having no order at all, and it is that point which all real progress, is measured through the horizontal (legislative, via Govt) and vertical (ethical, through the people) distance a society manages to put between itself and that baseline.

The first step of real progress, up and away from that baseline, comes when a society's begins forming rules for its governance, rather than following exclusively upon the wishes of its rulers, and in making them known for all to see and understand, they give a sign that they are developing what can loosely be called 'laws'. As societies' begin doing so, they begin forming political structures that move beyond the moment to moment exercise of brute force, by brutes, and take on the various forms of all of the familiar ___cracys' and ___archy's (you remember, democracy, oligarchy, etc), which takes them further up the winding path of Chieftains, Tyrants & Kings, until they finally arrive at the Prime Ministers and Presidents that typically head up what we like to think of as legitimate, Representative Governments.

If you examine the laws of a society as they progress along that path - if they manage to continue along it - there's an essential characteristic that you'll see becoming more and more pronounced, which is what makes it possible for their laws to be able to be regarded as capital 'L' "Laws" with a straight face, rather than just an assortment of rules written down by thugs, and it's a development of an idea that I went into some depth upon in previous posts (two in particular, pt 2:Why a Govt of Laws, and not of men? & pt 3:Who Benefits from transforming Rules into Laws), which, sparing you a few thousand of those post's words, can be summed up in what's best captured in two translations of one potent phrase from Aristotle's Politics,
'The law is reason unaffected by desire',
'The Law is reason free from passion.'
The more that a people's laws adhere to and exhibit that sensibility, the more legitimate they and their Laws, are likely to become - it is the means of putting the point upon the arrow of political progress; pointing their society in the right direction, onwards, upwards, and away from that societal baseline of barbaric order. And while it may seem a bit counter-intuitive, that characteristic, in the raw, is also what is being crudely expressed in that primal desire for the societal baseline of Order; seeking relief from the chaos brought on by violent passions and desires that've run rampant. Surprisingly, at least a little bit, it is in seeking that order that they also find that the seeking itself, demands an exercise of methodical reasoning in order to bring even that baseline condition about, and continuing with that, developing and reflecting upon that, refining that, that is the natural means of eventually implementing Laws that one day will tower above the mere scribblings of one or another tyrant's demands of the moment.

Following closely on Aristotle's essential ideal, are two from the Roman jurist, Cicero, with his,
"No one can be judge in his own cause; Hear the other side"
, and,
“True law is right reason in agreement with nature"
These are also logical developments of Aristotle's advice to separate your passions and desires from your attempts to realize justice; in pursuing that it soon follows that a fair and impartial hearing should be given to both sides of an issue, it is a result of seriously taking that advice to heart, and as a result, your laws, and the application of them, become more reasonable, and those applying and enduring them also begin seeking conclusions derived from factual evidence, rather than reacting to impassioned desires.

These are not inventions of The West, they are discoveries about what is common to all of mankind, but they were first fully realized in The West. Following these dictums, and ridding the writing and administering of a society's laws of personal passions and biased desires, is, in the real sense of making progress away from the baseline, Progressive, and it will be accompanied by a visible increase in the methodical, reasonable nature, of their laws. On the other hand, shedding that quality, seeking to appeal to the passions and desires of the many, is Regressive, and deliberately seeking to do so, while justifying those actions and stirring up the passions of the people in order to satisfy the ambitions of their rulers (whether they be one, or the many), is what I refer to as being Pro-Regressive. If you want to know whether your society's laws are truly Progressive, or Pro-Regressive, look at how those who propose them, urge you to embrace them.

The direction that our laws move in can be objectively measured as progress over what came before, moving from chaos, to order, to recorded and predictable rules, to rules which make sense together and integrate with each other, developing a progressively less contradictory nature - reasonable, understandable, and flexible enough to be applied in a variety of circumstances, yet rigid enough to be familiar to, and understood by 'the common man'; that is the path of progress. As these advanced ideas, and the attitudes which accompany them become the norm, such laws as that people govern themselves through, begin to lose their erratic nature, as both the people and their laws become more ordered, more reasonable, more respectful of their fellows lives.

The Best of Times, and the Worst of Times
But as wonderful and profound as such progress is, a society has to be on their guard against their own hubris, for while they may have become convinced of the soundness of their good intentions, the nature of government has not changed - not one bit - and the raw force and power which it is, will seep through such blind spots, like groundwater through an old foundation, progressively saturating and weakening it. Government is power, it is force, it can fine, punish, stifle, intimidate, imprison and persecute, it can kill and it can destroy, it is like fire, a troublesome servant and a terrible master, and if you dare presume that you can fully domesticate such primal forces through law, that you can safely use that primal power best suited to preventing or punishing actions, to initiate and do good unto others for what you consider to be for their own good, then you fail the test of Tolkien's Ring of Power, and turn towards darkness with all of the urgency and false light of your very best of intentions.

It is at this point, that the question arises as to who it is that will, and should, write a society's laws. How are they to be chosen? The means of binding both laws and its officers, from engaging in erratic or passionate actions, is best made by means of those laws themselves being ordered by objectively higher laws (see Cicero's “True law is right reason in agreement with nature"), so that society becomes compatible with what all can see as being true and right.

 But how will they be written, and how will those charged with writing and attending to them, be chosen? This is where 'The consent of the governed' begins to come into play, but how so? Is their consent to be gathered and given in any way shape, manner or form? Are there good and bad ways to gain that consent? Is it possible to curry that consent in such a way as to subvert the consent of the governed, for the benefit of those who would govern them?

There's more to the matter than simply encouraging individual choices and preferences; giving political power to the administration of our laws, if those laws are to be Laws, rather than rules in drag, they must be written and applied in a manner as free from personal passions and desires as is possible. Simply having all of the people of that society participating in that process, appealing to them to 'express their choice!', means putting people into power over the laws, by means of inciting passionate desires for wide approval and calls for collective action, which means turning against the very thing that the Laws, and the administration of them, are designed to bar from issues of Law!

And yet, the consent of the governed is vital to a 'Representative Government' - that's the puzzle at the heart of the first of our terms, 'Representative'.

What the 'Representative' portion of 'Representative Government' must never forget, is that the 2nd word in its term is representative of a fearsome and dangerous power, one that feeds upon your own confidence in your own ability to master it, and especially through your belief that you can 'do good' by imposing your own best judgment upon the choices that other people are trying to make for their own lives. The 1st word in that term must keep in mind, that it can, at best, tame the beast inherent in the 2nd word, but only as a trainer tames a tiger, and that if you turn your back upon it, thinking that your laws alone will keep it in its place (as if they somehow had the power of judgment outside of your own ability to govern yourself), then you can rest assured that your own government will use them as the means of devouring you, from the inside out.

Despite all of the fear mongering, the real threats to a 'Representative Government' rarely come in the form of thuggery and violence from external 'others!', instead they come upon a society from within themselves, through there own good intentions (and thinly disguised desires), by the means of which Frédéric Bastiat's understood all too well:
“Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.”
As a people begin to give in to that con, then soon enough they will discover how the expectations of achieving unworthy ends, through high minded laws, is a most perilous matter. If We The People fail to require that our Representatives be, and be selected by means as free of passionate desires as the laws they are to be in charge of, then the troublesome servant will have become the master of them, once again. Unless they and their laws are bound down by recognizably external, and constitutional fixtures, their representatives will become every bit as representative of the most tyrannical of individual tyrants - and especially as they do so in the name of "We The People!".

Progress is made when the people support taking substantial steps towards turning their power towards the service of judgment, rather than passionate desires. The Representative portion of our term 'Representative Government', is the means open to us for doing that, at least in part, it is the means of seeking and using good judgment, cool, reasonable deliberation and disinterested action, in service to those interests. But before getting into the best means found for electing the Executive of such a system of laws - the Electoral College - we need to dig a bit more into what we mean by the 'Representative' portion, of Representative Government - next post.