Thursday, August 11, 2016

Flyover Nation: You Can't Run a Country You've Never Been To

I had the pleasure of reading Dana Loesh’s ‘Flyover Nation’ not too long ago, and while I don’t really do book reviews, I have been noodling a bit on what struck me most in reading it, and as tomorrow(today), Friday the 12th of August, she is wrapping up her book tour in St. Louis (signing books at 6:00 at Gander Mountain), now might be a good time to post those noodlings (‘better late than…’ ‘ahhh shaddup!’). However if you’d like a brief (on my blog?), noodle free thumbs up or down on whether and why you should you buy Flyover Nation, I can give a definite two thumbs way up, and a couple quick points as to why:
  1. It's an enjoyable read, humorous, insightful and informative.
  2. Her first hand descriptions of both Flyover and Coastal America, both of being a child and raising her own children, and the battle to live and work as adults in our two Americas', provides you with a lot of perspective to think about both.
  3. The observations in this book cover the map, clarifying what life is like in both Flyover and Coastal America, what it is that fundamentally divides them, and the importance of realizing that the divide is real and is there for all to see, and what it is that best equips us to both understand the other, and to let them be.
  4. It’s an engaging and often funny book to read. I won't try and reproduce the humor, but to pick out one issue, if you can pass through the discussions of the differences between funeral's in Flyover and Coastal America without laughing out loud, you're a far stonier person than I am.
  5. If the understanding of Flyover Nation that Dana conveys, were better understood by those on the coasts, it would be a far better nation for us all to live in, no matter where you settle down within it - read this book - and get a copy for your neighbor!
For those of you who didn’t land on this blog by accident, lets get to digging a bit into one of the core distinctions which intrigued me in what Dana identifies in how Flyover America and Coastal America see themselves, and how they behave towards each other. Interestingly, I think she hit on a point of their divide that is actually shared by most of the Coastal persuasion, though of course they understand it from a very different perspective.

This leapt out at me in reading her account of how, as a newly uprooted young girl, having moved with her single mom away from the close knit community of Flyover Ozarks, for the anonymous opportunities of the city, she characterized that absence she felt in the city, as if:
"I had no tribe."
You might recognize this sense from another perspective, through a term that has long been central to Coastal views: their angst over the ‘alienation’ that individuals supposedly suffer in Western Society in general, and America in particular. This is a theme that came out as far back as Rousseau (particularly in contrast to the ‘noble savage’); it was a key device of Marx’s, that of individuals being 'alienated' from society, and it has been a staple of academia and the sniffy set ever since.

As Coastal's generally engage in this 'alienation' attack on the West, they tend to see it as an inherent feature of Western Civilization, and of America in particular, while, as Dana’s despairing comment highlights, those in Flyover tend to see it as the effects of that same civilization being diluted or painfully withdrawn from their lives and communities.

Why such mirrored reflections of us?

Life in Flyover Nation revolves around family, religion, community and the support and defense of them; the standout experience is that you are a living part of something that is bigger than yourself – not because you’re small (as the Coastal’s tend to prefer you to feel), but because of the chosen and/or accepted obligations of those oft mocked institutions of family, religion and community, as well as a shared history and reverence for those principles and ideas that our nation is formed from, and the moral need to actively support and defend them, and those in the military who do defend them even at the cost of their lives. This all translates into thousands upon thousands of little sparks of connections for each person, and even with each pulling this way and that, with and against each other, all of which creates a very un-uniform appearance, yet it palpably links them all together, knitting each person into an individual part of that greater whole.

Where the coastal views prevail, on the other hand, family tends to be devalued, its roles blurred and permanence shattered – not just through divorce (that sadly is nearly universal), but their regard for it. Religion is either disdained or sterilized, their community tends to be corporatized, and talk of our nation is mostly shunted out to the schools who discuss it antagonistically, if at all, and serving in the military is commonly either disdained or feared, which can be summed up in this quote on the prevailing Coastal attitude towards military service, from a report referenced on pg 92 of Dana’s book,
" idea expressed by many, including many in the upper classes, that it is somehow more moral to refrain from military service than to serve, because that way one can avoid an 'immoral' war."
The differences that results from these differing perspectives are stark.

It may be ironic, but it is no fluke that the angst over individuals in Western Society in general, and America in particular, as being 'alienated' from society, is something felt most intensely in the coastal areas and inner cities in particular; as their people feel that alienating anonymity most – but how surprising is that actually? Seriously, what’s not to alienate you?

The approach of each America to these and other problems, is just as distinctive. While Flyover tends to look to each other in order to overcome and strengthen their communities from within, the Coastals tend to look outwardly to their collective society through the powers of Govt, or through other large and impersonal organizations or foundations, to bind them together in satisfying conformity. In the introduction, Dana notes that:
"I've noticed on the East and West Coasts, whenever a problem is identified the solution is always to appeal to government, and the more the solution costs, the better the solution. Not to mention that these solutions always include some limitation of the rights of others."
, and you don't need to look far for examples of that, as Medicare, 'No Child Left Behind', and so on, are examples of Coastal approach to solving their (and our) problems – from outside and above, either through government or other equally anonymous, distant, large, foundations (Note: GOP and Democrat are not reliable means of telling Flyover from Coastal, nearly all of Dana's family in the Ozarks are Democrat). There is an anxiety among the Coastal mindset, even a fear, in allowing each individual person to act on their own decisions – somehow they miss the fact of human nature, that real community can come into being in no other way.

Where do the Coastal’s suppose that their connection and sense of belonging, is to come from? In practice, they think and behave as if they expect them to come through obtaining things provided to them, often through the efforts of one anonymous agency of the collective, or another. Their problems have no means of being felt through the connections of family and community and their mutual efforts and shared experiences in response to them. Instead, their anxieties come to them, again, anonymously, from the news media, through economic indicators, through crime reports, and so they run, not to each others arms and heartfelt interactions, discussions or even heated arguments, but to where power is most centralized and anonymized: into the hands of an ever more centralized power, preferably by way of Govt.

Correspondingly, their own power to connect and act on their own initiative, and in cooperation with other people in their community that they may have some real connection to, is removed from the very hands of people in the community they are a part of, and handed over to those in some position of ‘authority’, in those ‘communities’. As a result, belonging to something that might be seen as being 'bigger than you are' is most likely to be felt through its forcing people down into predefined niches and slots, compressed into a one size fits all, faceless group conformity. Those thousands of points that would bind you together in Flyover, are withdrawn and given to others to manage for you – how could that not nurse a bitter sense of alienation?

An important effect of this tendency to give power and control to anonymous others, comes out in a passage on the moral necessity which our 2nd Amendment protects, that of the need, especially by women, to have the ability to defend themselves, and what seems to follow when we don’t take that necessity to heart ourselves,
“…They’re what our moms and dads teach us to use to defend ourselves against someone who wishes to do us evil. To us women, they’re the difference between being a victim and being a survivor. I sometimes wonder if living dependent upon the company of others and in proximity to others for so long degrades and devolves our innate instinct for individualism and survival….” [emphasis mine]
That is something that I think is huge. In cases of one-way dependency you relinquish some or all of your input, your control, into your own life, you give it to another, and when there is no personal relationship, no reciprocity, no human connection in an actual relationship to them, it is just gone. It degrades and devolves your individuality and you become anonymous, alienated from yourself and those around you.

In Flyover Nation that something 'bigger than you' is kept from overwhelming and stripping you of yourself, by their common respect for the customs of family, religion and community, and through laws which conform to our Constitution and so preserve and defend each person's individual right to live their own life, to enjoy it, and to defend it, as they choose to.

So who's alienating who?

Coastal blindness to Flyover, doesn’t mean Flyover is blind to Coastals
The full name of this book is "Flyover Nation: You can't run a country you've never been to", and I heard one talking head, who obviously hadn't read the book (sorta like the 1 star reviews on Amazon (you should read them, sensible people's replies to them are a delight), try to turn the book's subtitle "You can't run a country you've never been to", against it, with the comment:
"Isn't the reverse true? Can't you say that Flyover Nation can't run Coastal nation, because it doesn't know it either?"
, and the answer to that is a loud and clear: No.

Why? Well for one thing, Flyover Nation virtually has been to Coastal Nation, they have its 'New York Values' put in their faces throughout the day, every day, through the news, media, academia, entertainment, fashion and of course, more and more every day, by law. Flyover Nation has been deeply immersed in the country of the Coasts, and has decided that while they might be nice places to visit, they choose not to live there. It is worth noting that those values of Flyover Nation, are what enable them to let their Coastal Cousins be, and without feeling their Coastal Cousin's compulsion to force them to live as they do, which makes them fully able to 'run their country' without ruining their lives.

Unfortunately the Coastal's simply can't return the favor. Instead they give free and exuberant reign to their compulsive need to dictate who you must bake cakes for, and who has to be allowed in the bathroom with you, that 'live and let live' attitude of Flyover is a practice that Coastal's simply have not mastered, and without that, they can only run the entire nation into the ground.

The view from across the Coastal Divide
While the topic of tribes and 'alienation' aren’t explicitly addressed in Flyover Nation, they are implicitly there in countless contrasting observations she gives on life in Flyover and Coastal America; they engage you, and lead you, to wander about with them in your own thoughts for a bit. It was in doing that myself that I began comparing my impressions from her book, with another book I’d just read, and brought these points to really stand out. This other book, a little 'Sociology' book called "Tribe - Homecoming and Belonging", is specifically about that theme of Tribes and Alienation, which caught my eye in the bookstore, with its comparisons between tribal societies and military veterans, and what they can tell society about 'healing today's divided world'. The Amazon blurb describes it:
“Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, TRIBE explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that-for many veterans as well as civilians-war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations...”
Unfortunately, his is a book that I can’t recommend very highly, and without going too far into it, it does still provide an interesting case of the blinkered views of the Coastals, of their tendency to see all things by their own sterile lights, and to assume that competing views are known, understood, categorized, and easily dealt with through the occasional snide remark, and then safely dismissed in order to pursue their own views. It’s a little 138 page book with 30 pages of footnotes, written by a war correspondent and "New York Times Bestselling Author!" (‘The Perfect Storm’, and others), who tells an engaging tale but manages to get his conclusions, for the most part, painfully short of the mark or just wrong.

It has some interesting observations, but it's incredibly tone deaf and almost deliberately misses the point of its own thesis, by way of its glaring and exclusively Coastal perspective, that of materialism, socialism, anti-business, etc – that ‘Govt can make us more connected through more programs to bring us together’, etc.

Naturally he starts right off attacking the West in general and America in particular, in how some early American colonists after being kidnapped by Indians, when rescued, didn't want to return to Colonial society. And naturally it attacks Christianity and while he goes into the gruesomeness of Indian atrocities, he ultimately excuses and even romances them above the West, since, after all, the Church used the Inquisition to 'burn people at the stake regularly', etc., and so on. Leaving the leftist wacademic hysterics aside, credible estimates are that 3,000-10,000 people over the course of 400-500 years, were put to death, with most of those done by Govts, not the Church. Which of course is still not good, but... c'mon, the single Indian raid he discusses so sympathetically by Chief Pontiac, claimed over 2,000 lives~ how does that even compute?).

One of the things that struck me right off in reflecting on these two books of our two Americas, was how much more clearly Dana’s book identified the reality of our society's problems, which, with his 30 pages of footnotes, he almost entirely misses. Nearly every interesting point that he almost made, missed any real value by seemingly deliberately avoiding the core of his own thesis, by materializing every benefit of 'tribal society'. For instance, this passage identifies real hardships felt by returning soldiers… but it is blind to their cause, while blaming modern society as such (and by ‘modern’ in disparaging terms, he means Rule of Law and Free Market) for those problems, when in fact his ideals – centralized power – is what is responsible for them:
“…A modern soldier returning from combat – or a survivor of Sarajevo – goes from the kind of close-knit group that humans evolved for, back into a society where most people work outside the home, children are educated by strangers, families are isolated from wider communities, and personal gain almost completely eclipses collective good. Even if he or she is part of a family, that is not the same as belonging to a group that shares resources and experiences almost everything collectively. What-ever the technological advances of modern society – and they’re nearly miraculous – the individualized lifestyles that those technologies spawn seem to be deeply brutalizing to the human spirit.

“You’ll have to be prepared to say that we are not a good society – that we are an antihuman society,” anthropologist Sharon Abramowitz warned when I tried this idea out on here.”
What Junger fails to acknowledge, or even to see past his ideological snowblindedness to realize, is that it is precisely the ever growing centralization of power and authority away from individuals, separating them from society and responsibility, is what is directly responsible for people working far from home and neighbors, for children being educated by strangers, for families being isolated from their society. It’s worth pointing out that his fellow anthropologist, Abramowitz, belongs to more NGO’s (supposedly well intentioned groups that siphon money from govt, to private entities, separating representation and responsibility from those it ultimately depends upon, anonymously), and other monolithic institutions is difficult to count, but which all can be summed up as the enthusiastic support for centralizing authority, distanced from those it is taken from, to carry out ‘good intentions’. It is precisely the Coastal ideals that are responsible for taking power away from individuals, giving it to anonymous, unknown authorities over their lives, and creating that dreaded sense of alienation.

An interview with NPR highlights this:
JEFFREY BROWN: Does the notion of tribes allow us to have a cohesion that we also think we need as a country?
SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yes, it’s a great question.
I think what you’re seeing in this political season are political camps deciding that they are their own tribe and it’s us against them. And I think the trick — and this country is in a very, very tricky place socially, economically, politically — I think the trick, if you want to be a functioning country, a nation, a viable nation, you have to define tribe to include the entire country, even people you disagree with.
Disagreement is great, debate is great, conflict is great. It’s how we all get better.
SEBASTIAN JUNGER: What you can’t do is have contempt for your fellow citizens. That is destructive. [emphasis mine]
The tragedy is that they mistakenly equate larger and larger swaths of enforced conformity, providing institutional services, and goodies, with the responsible individuality that a healthy ‘Tribe’ must have, or otherwise collapse into their dreaded alienation.

They don’t know it. They won’t know it. They refuse to look deeply enough to see or know it. They prefer reality to be as anonymous to them as they themselves are to their fellows, except to posture as figureheads, visually recognized, but as unknown as celebrities, or pawns. What that produces is profound alienation. Coastal’s tend to think of power as a causal tool, rather than as a result, and mistaking it as a democratic cure-all, and somehow they don’t see what it does to people and communities, when such distant power is exerted anonymously upon them, from far above, and distantly outside their sphere, rather than flowing from own efforts, sentiments and desires, guided by their connection with those ‘other’ people known to them.

Without that, it becomes anonymous, and, surprise, alienating.

What the Coastal mindset produces most is humanity in a mass, but without the actual connections that people make between each other on a person to person basis, without their actively sharing in their shared values, instead, what they think we need instead, is govt, and even entities a step removed from govt (NGO’s, centralized foundations, etc.) to care for people, and to produce even more programs for industrializing person to person interactions, and for govt to do more things for them ‘for their own good’, yada yada, woohoo. Unfortunately they miss out on all the good they intend to do, because the means of connecting one person to another and establishing relations, are replaced by people performing with an official title, the role of one centralized functionary or another, filling out forms, passing out food stamps, pills, checks, band aids. The people under the Coastal system are anonymized, the ideas they promote are abstractions which have no real connection to those they intend to help, except through those anonymous functionaries, which has the effect of truly sucking the life out of all of the good they would do, leaving them to settle for anonymous things, from anonymous people, serving non-existent relationships in service to anonymous ideals.

The Coastal enthusiasm for the noble savage, would do well to be leavened with what the views of those they prefer to flyover, and especially to take to heart Dana’s comment quoted above, that,
“… I sometimes wonder if living dependent upon the company of others and in proximity to others for so long degrades and devolves our innate instinct for individualism and survival….””
What connects people to each other, and which when lacking, produces emptiness, misery and alienation, are points which Dana's book nails over and over again in examples from Flyover society uniting through family, church and local community, with the expectation that individuals should retain their own power to live and defend their own lives – in concert with others, not alienated from them or self - rather than yielding that all up to distant and anonymous powers and principalities.

Just mind boggling the Very real divide between Flyover and Coastal.

Govt’s Blue Light Special
Dana's Grandpa made a comment about that compulsion that draws people to Washington D.C., like flies drawn to the bugzapper:
"...That light attracts people, even the good people, and it kills 'em."
It seems that that tantalizing lure of govt power, fires them with a certainty that, because they feel that what they think is best for themselves, it has just got to be best for everyone else, they arrogantly and with great self satisfaction, push their ideals onto Flyover with little real regard for, or knowledge of, those lives which it is made up of - and who wants to be governed by such a sad, sad country as that?

Glenn Reynolds, remarking in regards to Brexit, referenced Dana's book, in that:
"America, of course, faces the same kind of division, as Dana Loesch writes in her new book, Flyover Nation: You Can’t Run A Country You’ve Never Been To. Every once in a while, she notes, a publisher or a newspaper from a coastal city will send a reporter, like an intrepid African explorer of the 19th century, to report on the odd beliefs and doings of the inhabitants of the interior. But even the politicians who represent Flyover Country tend to spend most of their time — and, crucially, their post-elective careers — in Washington, DC.

Over the past few decades, Washington has gone from a sleepy town with restaurants and real estate priced to fit a civil servant’s salary to a glittering city with prices that match a K street lobbyist’s salary. The disconnect from regular Americans is much greater. And the public expressions of contempt toward ordinary Americans — Loesch’s book collects quite a few — make things much, much worse"
A last reflection on the blue bug zapper sums it up:
"... spare a thought for the folks you see scurrying in and out of the government buildings in Washington, the folks who've been there too long. Maybe they had dreams once too. They were like those bugs I saw droning toward the zapper on my grandparents' porch - they got sucked in and had the life zapped out of them."
I highly recommend you read Flyover Nation - especially if you are a Coastal Cousin - you'll better understand why Flyover is a place that is not only worth visiting in person, but is worth your personally understanding it, for the good of the entire nation.

Or not.

Flyover wishes you the liberty to make that choice yourself.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

If you're saying: "I am done!", I've gotta ask: "What, are you 10 yrs old?"

"I am done." I've heard that so often lately, and from all corners, especially after the Missouri Primary election yesterday, where, IMHO, the worst candidate won. But what does this damned 'I am done' mean? Do those who mutter it, understand the highly unflattering things it says about themselves?

Of course I get the emotional knock that seeing your, and even the two other decent candidates in a race, losing to who you - probably rightly - consider to be an unworthy candidate. It is frustrating.

But leaving pure emotional impact aside, if the comment "I am done" reflects a serious judgment, I've got to ask, in all seriousness,
"What, are you ten years old?"
There are things worth fighting for, but don't make a damn fool of yourself by pretending that you know for certain what the outcome - positive or negative - will be. We don't know the outcome, we can't know the outcome, and any sense that we are assured of an outcome, is vanity, naivete, massive self conceit and folly!

If you are thoughtfully moaning that 'America is done for!', do you realize what that says about you?

There is only one thing that made America possible, and which then actually made America, and that is caring about what is right and True, realizing that it doesn't exist in a vacuum, but as an integrated whole, and that the truth can be known and is worth knowing, and worth adhering to it - not because it guarantees a beneficial reward, but because it is right and true, and in and of itself that is all the justification or reward necessary.

If you are whining about America being lost, and tearfully asking
'How do we come back from this?!'
, the answer - if you are actually interested in it - is a simple one:
When we again become a people who strive to be a nation of moral, self governing individuals, capable of living lives worth living in society with others, under the Rule of Law - not to achieve order, but to seek Justice (and wise enough to know that order will follow from that, secondarily)
, then, and only then, will we be a nation of Americans again.

The secret sauce in that, is no one needs to wait for the nation to be restored to being America again, in order to experience that profound and exceptional satisfaction of being Americans themselves, now - and indeed if you only seek it for that (an assurance of 'success!'), you've probably already barred yourself from it - you do it, live it and teach it, in whatever way that you are capable of, what it means to be an American, as best you can, to whoever you can, because it is right and a reward in and of itself.

If you want to feel sorry for how tough you have it, and how bad things are, tell it to people like Sam Adams, who struggled, often alone, for nearly 30 years before his fellow countrymen became Americans and made their Declaration of Independence... and then fought through years of revolutionary civil war, a failed constitution, and then, finally, after much disagreement, they established and ratified the Constitution of the United States of America (which, btw, Sam wasn't all that hot for, at first).

He had something to whine about. You? Not so much.

If you can't realize this in moments of contemplation, then rest assured that you've lost nothing - as you never had any part of that great value to begin with, and so can feel no real sense of loss for what you never had or were a part of.

Move along.

I don't know if our, my, America will 'win' out again in the popular sense, but I do know this, if we do, eventually it will be lost again - that's the reality of human life and the nature of being human. But here's a more important reality: Success isn't the justification for attempting to succeed, and if you think it is, you are a fool. Failure, loss, eventually, is far more likely and assured, but again: guaranteed results are not the point... realizing and striving for the best, as best you are able, is.

As the line goes from George Washington's favorite play, Cato, goes:
"’Tis not in mortals to command success,
But we’ll do more, Sempronius; we’ll deserve it."
If you think that guarantees are possible or what you should be striving for... you've already failed. It's hard to pin down where this notion came upon us, that succeeding as Americans is rooted in what others think and do (though I'd readily point to at least the last 150 years of 'educational reform') but know this, what you embody and teach to your kids, friends and co-workers, is what has the only chance of making America great again. It is up to you - that's what the meaning of IS is - don't puss out and pass the buck by whining about how unlikely it is that America can be restored. Shut the hell up already, you don't have a Crystal Ball, and it wouldn't matter if you did.

All that is, or ever will be, in your power to bring about, is what you do, inspire or teach others to do, and that, in and of itself, is admirable and sufficient. If you think you are capable of 'changing' the nation by any other means, you're not only a fool, but a danger to what you supposedly revere.

Or, in a word: "PFFFFTTTTTTTT!!!"

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Really America? Are you seriously Cruz'n for a Bruisin'?

So Ted Cruz came and spoke to the RNC Convention in Cleveland. The speech he gave drew cheers throughout.

He said,
"I want to congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night. And, like each of you, I want to see the principles that our party believes prevail in November."
More cheers. He continued on with some heartfelt comments and received even more cheers.

He closed his speech out with this:
"The case we have to make to the American people, the case each person in this room has to make to the American people is to commit to each of them that we will defend freedom, and be faithful to the Constitution.

We will unite the party; we will unite the country by standing together for shared values by standing for liberty. God bless each and every one of you, and God bless the United States of America."
He waved to the crowd and then the cheers started to turn into boos - I couldn't it figure out.

Boos? Why the crowd was booing?
Ladies & Gentlemen (or reasonable facsimiles thereof (manic NeverTrumpr's and frothing UberTrumpr's are of course excused)), Ted Cruz just congratulated Trump for winning the nomination, he called for all Republicans to not stay home in November, he called for unity, and he called for them to Vote their consciences... and that upsets you?!

Are you seriously saying that a person's conscience would prevent them from voting for Trump?

Have you even considered what you are saying?!

I am personally going to oppose Hillary being elected as POTUS with the biggest electoral rocket blast that I can lay my hands on, and that rocket is Trump. I will do that with a serenely clear conscience. Are you saying to me that that is not possible?

Are you really saying, shouting, that asking for Republicans to vote their consciences, means not voting for Trump? Are you thinking about the words that are leaving your mouths?

Apparently not, not last night anyway. Heidi Cruz had to be protected from the crowd and escorted from the hall. Ted Cruz had to be protected from assault from wealthy donors.

I was, and am, truly, stunned.

Does anyone recall any of the details of the Primary? Trump not only called Cruz a liar, he branded him as one. He called his wife ugly, and a crook. He more than insinuated that Ted Cruz's father was involved with JFK's assassination. And much, much more.

Did you really expect Ted Cruz to behave as if none of that had happened? If he had walked out on that stage and said:
"I wholeheartedly support my good friend Donald Trump, and endorse him for President of the United States of America!"
, would you have believed that?

No. Freaking. Way. You wouldn't have bought it for a moment.

But you still wanted to hear that?

Have you asked yourself: Why?

Ted Cruz called for party unity and for voting your conscience, both UP and down the ticket. But the crowd, they, (you?) didn't want his endorsement, they wanted his Submission. They wanted his total and complete submission.  Isn't there an ideology that we're currently battling in the world that is all about demanding complete submission from people?

When the Truth no longer matters, only Power does. That is something that should scare the hell out of each and everyone of you, because if it doesn't, that will mean that you've accepted, and embraced it.

As a friend of mind said: "Submission. It isn't just for Islam anymore."

That's pretty much it.

You'd better get your heads together people. Fast... because you are most definitely Cruzing for a bruising.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Friction Continues - further questions about Eric Greitens campaign

Following my recent post recapping my dissatisfaction with Eric Greitens campaign's lack of information, Bill Hennessy responded with a post restating his support for Greitens. Bill made a number of comments that I want to address, including a few of which I assume were at least partially directed towards me, while also noting that:
"Some of my friends attack Mr. Greitens, even on the St. Louis Tea Party blog, which I operate and fund. I let their attacks go out, under my name, not because I agree, but because I trust the people.

We have a simple policy for the contributors to that blog: write what you believe. If other contributors disagree, they can write what they believe. The people will sort it out. So, now, it’s my turn."
, which was good to hear and much appreciated. With that in mind, I'll respond to the points he made in his post, and clarify why they don't inspire the same confidence in me, that they do for him.

The difficulty I have with Eric Greitens has less to do with what he once had believed or done, than with what he hasn't done: He still has yet to explain his understanding of the Conservative ideas he says he now believes, he hasn't said when he came to believe them or, to any depth, why, or how these new ideas compelled him to turn away from what he had believed and spent years working towards - and being a 'Tea Party' blogger in spirit, I think that's worth blogging about.

As I said in one of the early posts on Greitens:
">>>The first time I heard about Eric Greitens was as he was announcing his intention to consider running for governor earlier this year. I read Bill's post on it, and the articles it linked to, and I too was much impressed, but unfortunately before that inspiration could take root, my next thoughts were:
"I wonder what his thoughts and positions on Individual Rights, Law & Govt policy are?"
, and the inspiration faltered in me as I tried hunting around on the web for specifics about his ideas on such things, and it withered away as I found nothing of the sort, only more and more instances of 'Happy Talk' about how really impressive a guy he is. He is impressive, that much is a given, no argument there at all, but that doesn't make the argument for electing him to office. Despite how impressive he is as a person, as a candidate, if your political positions, and your demonstrated understanding and commitment to the principles behind them, aren't impressive in themselves, then neither will you be, as a candidate for high office.<<<"
This lack of information is especially relevant, as he apparently made this political about-face within just the last five years - how deeply can a person come to understand a political philosophy that is diametrically opposed to what they had believed all their lives, in five years or less? Yes, it can be done, but as he's running for the highest office in the state, I think that deserves substantially more attention than what he essentially said in his 'coming out' column, that 'I saw that Democrat policies didn't work, so I became a Republican'. Not only has he not significantly elaborated on that in the last year, he has in fact made more of an effort to avoid, or even prevent, those questions from being asked of him.

I find it very concerning that he doesn't seem to think that the differences between the Left and the Right are big enough to warrant providing voters with more information to evaluate him by. After all, Eric Greitens is no laconic 'man of few words' - he's read and studied the philosophy and history that I'm always going on about, he was a Rhodes Scholar, he went to Oxford, he's written several books, and yet he is unable to explain what he believes and why? Something doesn't add up there.

And, as I pointed out in the previous post, his campaign website has devoted less than 800 words to describing his policies and reasoning for them, which for any politician who has recently changed parties, and specially one who was a Rhodes Scholar, that, IMHO, is bizarre.

Bill not only has no problem with that, but he has become if anything, even more enthusiastic in his support. which is something that I not only do not share, but I find his reasoning difficult to understand. For instance, in explaining why he is voting for Eric Greitens, Bill says,
"I believe the greatest threat to human freedom and thriving is the political class."
Is this not the same sort of spin that's used to tell us that the greatest threat to our inner cities is "gun violence"? But just as guns aren't the problem with 'gun violence', thugs and murders are; our problem is not with the political class itself - a political class could just as easily be filled with Thomas Jeffersons' as Hillary Clintons' - but with those politicians which We The People vote into that political class - why the distraction? The reality is that what makes the political class a problem, is the people who enable, support and vote politicians into it, without understanding their character, their convictions, and their willingness and ability to stand up for, argue for, and apply them, in our government.

IMHO, the greatest threat to human freedom and thriving, are in fact those people of all classes who support and vote for politicians based upon their personal appeal, while knowing little or nothing about the ideas behind that politicians smiling face - they are the ones who are responsible for bringing such a plague of two-faced politicians upon us, and that is what is progressively transforming our precious liberty into servility.

Bottom line: If you don't like the class of people in the 'political class', while you as a voter are not demanding more than a smile and a promise from those you vote into that class, the fault is yours.

"...That smirking political class infects both Washington, DC, and Jefferson City, Missouri. And I believe only one candidate has the courage, the brains, and the commitment to destroy that political class in Missouri. That candidate is Eric Greitens."
Why does he believe that Greitens is that candidate? Why should anyone? Based upon what? Because he's done admirable things in his life? Many people have done admirable things, but those deeds don't necessarily provide them with the knowledge and relevant experience to suit them for the office of Governor of a state - especially my state. If Eric Greitens really is different from the two-faced 'political class', then Show Me!

And I'm sorry to say, but when I think of Eric Greitens, I find myself thinking of the only thing that he's provided me to think about him with - a picture of his toothy smile or a sly smirk, a slogan, and a politicians appeal to 'trust me!'. For instance, he claims his NRA endorsement of 'AQ' is the highest rating the NRA gives to candidates - it is not. The 'AQ' merely indicates that a candidate has provided good answers to questions on an NRA questionnaire.
AQ is Not the highest NRA rating

The NRA's highest rating for a candidate is 'A+',
which, BTW, the NRA gave to Peter Kinder (which is who I'm most likely going to vote for), and is for candidates who not only answer questions well, but who also have a proven track record of consistently supporting the 2nd Amendment.

Eric Greitens' claim about his NRA rating is not true, while it is the highest rating that he can receive, as he has no track record, it is not the highest rating that the NRA gives, and yet he is continuing to make that claim. Eric Greitens seems to be comfortable with quite a bit of ambiguity, which is not a quality that I'm comfortable in giving political power to.

What makes a candidate different is the ideas they hold and their ability to stand up and argue for them, and if they won't demonstrate that, then I'm not going to pretend that I see this emperors clothes as having any more substance than that emperors clothes. If you dodge and avoid answering questions, if you avoid volunteering basic information for voters to make sound judgments upon, if you conduct your campaigns with catchy video clips, trite slogans and minimal information - just as the Political Class does - then I'm forced to assume that those slogans being shouted out about being a 'Different kind of Candidate!", represent a distinction without a difference.

Bill asks,
"Do you want to live as a slave to that smirking political class? Or do you want to live free and thrive?"
My answer is that I don't think a person can escape slavery without understanding what liberty is, means and depends upon, and what's more, I don't think they can be given power and avoid becoming tyrannical 'for a good cause!' without having that understanding either. Do you? It is of course for that very reason, that I don't recommend giving political power over our lives to someone who will not explain what their political principles are, who will not explain what they believe the limits of their powers are and should be, and who will not explain how those supposedly shared principles will guide their use of executive power in the highest office in the state. Until I hear Eric Greitens give some semblance of an explanation of his new understanding in that regards (again, we don't know how new), then I'm not going to just assume that he's found the answers that I'm looking for.

Bill says,
"Three Republican candidates for governor have crawled to the political class for help. One has not. That one is Eric Greitens."
Bill is a promo guy, he believes in moving people by triggering their emotions. Unfortunately the emotions which empty smears such as that triggers in me, are less than pleasant.

Bill continues:
"Many Tea Partiers want to remain political remnants. Political martyrs. Slaves to a self-imposed conformity. Self-righteous worshippers at the altar of the smirking political class. I know their feelings because I was a remnant for most of my life."
Speaking of smears. Is it just me, or is the key point buried in that slime fest, a recommendation that selling out your principles for political power, is a smart strategy that we should all get behind? Speaking for myself, I think that is... unwise.

Personally, I have no desire to be or to support political martyrs, and I don't conform to meaningless slogans. And there's nothing in that which excludes political leaders from making sensible compromises for legitimate political agreements - that is a necessity in governing people with differing views - so long as they are principled compromises. But, of course, if you don't know what a candidates principles are... then... you see the problem there for supporting Eric Greitens, yes? If I don't know what his political principles are, and the depth of his understanding of them, or his ability to argue for them, to bargain through them, then I don't see how I can count upon him making acceptable 'conservative' political agreements, as governor of our state. Do you?

Bill backs up that lovely sentiment above, with a quote from this source:
"The president of the American Enterprise Institute, Dr. Arthur C. Brooks, explained the phenomenon in his book The Conservative Heart":
"...Or can the Tea Party become something bigger— a transformational, majoritarian force in American politics that does not simply rebel against American decline, but reverses it? ..."
Excuse me, but I've had quite enough of people attempting to transform America, thank you very much. IMHO Arthur 'Compassionate Conservative' Brooks represents a significant portion of what is wrong with the modern conservative movement, both in his enthusiastic support for the worst of William F. Buckley's ideas (which are very much in line with Bill Hennessy's thinking), and very few of his better ones. The contrived attempt to fashion a popular 'Message!', to 'win over key demographics' of the country via cheap PR gimmicks and platforms, are a significant reason behind the Right failing to expand its base. Despite the best efforts of many, myself included, the necessary ideas for a conservative take-over have not yet fully sunk in. We've made progress, but you can't short cut History through Marketing. Sorry, way it is.

If we want Conservative ideals to become a "...majoritarian force in American politics...", then we need those who understand those ideas, principles and history that America is formed from, to discuss them, live them, promote and spread them, without trying to pretend to be something they're not. Our ideas are the message, they apply to every person, every group, every ethnicity and every age group - don't throw them under the bus in a short sighted bid for winning over the latest demographic! The attempt to appear to be part of the 'In Crowd!' is doomed to failure.

Bill claims that,
"A vote for anyone other than Eric Greitens is a vote for permanent remnant status."
Which, especially in a Primary election, is an especially empty, meaningless statement to make, as in a Primary Election, you are supposed to be casting your vote for who you have the most confidence in, and who you believe in most; to vote otherwise is to be nothing but a pawn of cheap political gamesmenship. And as to the idea that having been a SEAL should seal the deal, I'm sorry, but if other members of the Navy SEAL's don't think that that's enough to qualify you as Governor, I'm not buying it either.

Bill again makes the pitch that the fact that Eric Greitens had been a Democrat, is no reaon for him to be rejected. And I agree. For the very examples and reasons he states - the fact that he once was a Democrat shouldn't change your mind, provided that the person in question has clearly explained and demonstrated why they were once a Democrat, and are no more:
"Yes, Eric Greitens began life as a Democrat, just like Ronald Reagan did. Yes, Eric Greitens applauded Democrats’ speeches, just like Ronald Reagan did. Yes, Eric Greitens wrote in support of big government programs, just like Ronald Reagan did."

I have zero problem with a democrat converting to the Right - Fantastic! But I do want to know WHY they converted, and especially in the case of a recent conversion (how recent? Eric's not saying), I want some proof that he understands what the difference is between the Left and the Right. Did he switch simply because of a pragmatic calculation of political numbers, or to make govt programs more effective and efficient, or from an understanding of the ideas which the Right is (supposed to be) rooted it?
Adam Sharp (who does not work for Peter Kinder) is kicked out before asking a single question
I and others have asked that question of Eric Greitens, his people and his campaign, but aside from receiving mostly smirking political snarkasm in response, and an occasionally a shove or an escort out the door, we've learned nothing more than Bill's next point:
"But Eric Greitens has seen fit to move to the right because he’s seen the damage done by the policies he once endorsed."
John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Mitch McConnell, all make similar statements day in and day out, about how the policies of the left are damaging to America, but I don't believe that they understand why the democrat's policies fail. It's nice that they want to fix them, but wanting to help, without understanding how to help, isn't going to help! If you want me, to help you, to help us, you've first got to show me that you understand what the problem is, its causes, and how to fix them. If you cannot or will not explain that, then you aren't the one to help fix the problem - you'll just worsen the bad situation we've already got. We don't need any more help of that kind - we're drowning in it already.

Bill says that we should put away our concerns and rest assured that,
"Sensible people would help him make those corrections. Eric Greitens is fully equipped and prepared to fix Missouri."
Bill, and Eric's campaign, say that a lot. Words have meaning - how about sharing his understanding of them? Try explaining the what, how and why of the issues. Then I'll decide if he's worth supporting. Unfortunately he's not only not done that, but he's purposefully, and belligerently, avoided doing that. That isn't someone I'm going to support in a Primary Election that is supposed to be all about why I should vote for you.
"The more Eric sees government in action, the more he seeks to restrain government."
What has he said that shows how seriously he wants to restrain govt? I haven't seen it. The more I've seen of Eric's ideas, the more I've seen nothing more than sentiments ('we've got to reach out...we've got to provide support... we've got to do better...') that are sure to expand government powers and reach. I'm sorry, but I'll need to hear his explanations for what, how and why I should think that he understands the importance of restraining govt's power over us, rather than expanding it in another direction for a 'good cause'. And Bill goes again for the warm fuzzy association:
"Just like Ronald Reagan."
The problem with that, is that unlike Eric Greitens, Ronald Reagan spent years and years explaining exactly why he joined the Republican Party, he explained exactly what he thought the problem was with Democrat policies, and why he thought they were wrong, and he explained the ideas he meant to campaign on and execute. Eric Greitens has smirked. And snarled. And repeated key events from his books in Townhall's (limited to three questions from the audience), but he has not explained what he will do, why he will do it, and how he will carry it out. Unfortunately, on the basis of Greitens statements and actions, I can find zero basis for comparing him with Ronald Reagan.
"And Greitens is the only Republican likely to beat the Democrat in November."
Coming from the man who supported Ed Martin in every election he lost - I must decline to put all that much stock in predictions such as that.
"As long as that smirking political class holds sway in Jefferson City, our limited-government movement will remain a remnant, a faction, of frustrated grassroots activists waving signs that no one else reads or understands.
That’s why I believe Americans have a duty to blow up the political class first."
Hint: The political class is currently made up of people who smirk, spout slogans, make promises and demand support, while providing little or no substance for anyone to understand or support them on, and assiduously avoid having to demonstrate that they can and will walk their talk. That's Eric Greitens' campaign to a "T". I'll leave it to the reader to decide the best response to that.

As to "... waving signs that no one else reads or understands...", if no one understands the signs people are waving, then as I see it, we have two options:

  1. Demonstrate, communicate and teach what those signs mean.
  2. Deceive, trick or otherwise sucker people into supporting you so you can get into office and double-cross them later with what you think is best for them.
One of those options I endorse, and one of those options I oppose. How about you?
"The smirking political class is a sucking chest wound on this country. It’s bleeding us dry. Until we stop that bleeding, nothing else helps."
Exactly. We need to stop accepting crisp suits stuffed with empty slogans which have no substance, and until we stop accepting such false solutions, there will be no progress made. I repeat: Stop Accepting A Smirking Slogan With Zero Substance.

Bill then makes a statement which has much appeal and little understanding:
"Crony capitalism sits on the chest of the American economy, suffocating growth. Until will corral crony capitalism, our solutions will fail."
The sad fact is that organizations such as The Aspen Institute, and its The Franklin Institute, and various unaccountable NGO's, etc., are the marketing arms of crony capitalism - they are the means of connecting the politically powerful to corporate interests - and Eric Greitens has been an enthusiastic supporter of them for years and years, effectively undermining everything that the conservative and Tea Party movements have been working for. If you want me to believe that he no longer is a member of the cronies - then please ask him to explain to Missouri Voters what he now believes, and how and why he came to believe it. If he can't start with that obvious first step, then I can't trust that he'll take the next step at all.
"If your priority is anything but blowing up that smirking political class, then you’re going to kill the patient. He’ll bleed to death."
If you attempt to replace the smirking political class, with another class of political smirkers, guess what: Nothing will change.
"Without reservation or purpose of evasion, I wholeheartedly and proudly repeat my endorsement of Eric Greitens for governor of Missouri. And I ask you to join me in saving our country."
Without reservation or purpose of evasion, I sadly can find no reasons whatsoever, despite searching and asking, for believing that Eric Greitens believes, or will do, anything differently from the political class he seeks to be elected the leader of. That doesn't win over my support.

This is Missouri - If he truly understands and believes and can argue for Conservative ideals: Show Me.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Why does Eric Greitens identify as a Conservative? Unfortunately we don't really know.

Why does Eric Greitens identify as a Conservative? Unfortunately we don't really know. Perhaps Eric Greitens figures that in an age where 'men' can identify as 'women', as one of his donors, Obama supporter and military-transgender activist James Pritzker identifies as Jennifer Pritzker, then surely he should be able to 'identify' as a 'Conservative'...? Well, what he does in the privacy of his own home is his business, but in public restrooms and Governor's Mansions, I'd prefer to have such serious identifications be made with a bit more credibility than just a guy's say-so - ya know what I mean?

But that's where Eric Greitens won't man-up.

Oh, he's more than happy to come out and identify as being a Conservative Republican, but will he reveal what his reasons for that massive change of heart were? Nope. Will he reveal when that transformation occurred? Nope. He simply expects us all to accept that he identifies that way.

Unfortunately, he doesn't have such a great history of having his words match up with actual facts.

For instance, he repeatedly declares "I'm not a politician - I'm an outsider!", and we're to take his word that he doesn't identify that way, but... tell me, how many non-politicians do you know who register a presidential campaign website in their names? And that was 8 years ago. Personally, when a person first begins to seriously consider a future political, to my mind, that's when he became an actual politician. What do you think?

And when one of the original Tea Party video bloggers, my friend Adam Sharp, tried to ask Eric Greitens what his reasons were for becoming a conservative, his staff blocked and shoved Adam aside for daring to ask Mr. Non-Politician questions about his positions - apparently he thinks that info is just a bit too personal for people in the Show Me state to be shown.

When Greitens first announced his intention to run for Missouri Governor, there were many rumors about his past Democrat leanings, but some, like Bill Hennessy, chose to get carried away in the wonder of his personal greatness, as others like myself were somewhat intrigued but still asking "What's so good about Great?"
"...With all the 'Great' candidates we have running for high office around the nation today, we seem to be forgetting an important rule for a self governing people:
'Greatness' doesn't make you fit for office; demonstrating an understanding of the nature and purpose of the office you're seeking to be elected to, does.
To advance someone for high office because of their great qualities alone, and in spite of knowing little or nothing about how well, if at all, they understand the purpose of, and the restraints upon the power of, that office which they are campaigning for, and without knowing how they intend to use its power, is dangerous to everyone that that elected office has power over. ..."
Bill Hennessey didn't appreciate such questioning of his 'transformational leader' and tried to write off such concerns about Greitens' conserva-cred as 'dirty tricks!' and 'whisper campaigns!'. So sure (on what basis?) that the rumors weren't true, he made the unfortunate statement about those less sold on him than he was, that:
"...If none of that works, they’ll just lie and claim he’s a Democrat."
Sadly for Bill, the concerns which many were having about Greitens, were not only worth whispering about, but even worth raising voices over, because, as it turned out, Greitens soon after disclosed that he was, in fact, until very recently (how recently, he won't say), a Democrat!

Hey Show Me State! What kind of leader do you think it is, that knowingly lets his supporters stick their necks out for him while knowing that they'll be sandbagged after a month or more of their denying what he knows to be true?. IMHO, Eric Greitens should have begun his campaign with that revelation right out of the box, and that looks to me like poor leadership on Greitens part, and extremely poor judgment on Bill's part, who's unfortunately developed a habit of putting his trust/mistrust with the wrong political operatives.

Greitens was not only a Democrat, and had been in discussions about running for office as a democrat, and supported democrats for office, went to the DNC Nomination of Obama, supported his Education plans, has supported the UN and using the United States Military for world Social Programs, radical transformative NGO's, and The Franklin Institutes "A 21st Century National Service System" for our youth... and then... all of a sudden... for some unknown reasons, he had a change of heart. When? We don't know.

But we should accept that he now identifies as a Conservative Republican? Seriously?

1 year later: What's changed?
Do we have anything more than Eric Greiten's word for being a 'conservative', than he let on a year ago? No. We don't. Not directly from him, at any rate. The sum total of Eric Greitens "I Believe" positions provided for Missourians to make up their minds about his actual political identify, by MS Word's count, is 789 words. Mr. Articulate book writing transformational leader, has managed to put fewer than 800 words together to help the voters of Missouri to make up their minds about electing him to the highest position of power in the state.

I think that sums up his style of 'leadership, his respect for the voter, and just how much more 'politics as usual' we might have in store for us, if he were to be elected.

Peter Kinder, on his "Statements" page alone, has 1,844, three times that. John Brunner's "Issues" page has 1,663 words. Catherine Hanaway packs in 3,612 words and action plans on her "Issues" page. But more than that, both Kinder, Hanaway and Brunner, especially Kinder, have years and years of statements, actions, and measurable performance that match their words to their actions and histories.

Greitens? He simply 'identifies' as 'conservative'. IMHO simply 'identifying' as being one thing or another, is not going to work any better in our Governor's office, than it does in Target changing-rooms.

It seems to me that the reasonable questions that should be pursued now, still, a year later, are how grounded and credible are Eric Greitens' claims to actually being a conservative Republican? Ironically, the only material we have to make that judgment from, is that same article that Greitens wrote to announce that he actually had, until recently (how recently he doesn't say), been a Democrat. And for me at least, his admission and conversion, although welcome, does very little to assure me of what his political principles are.

Recapping Greitens Identity
So with that being said, with nothing new about his personal ideas and thoughts on why he became a conservative, lets look again at the one definitive statement he has made about his beliefs, and I'll explain why it is that I personally find it to be far less than satisfying for me, as to what his Identity actually is.

Take especial note, that he begins his article with this statement:
"I am a conservative Republican, but I didn’t start out that way. "
While his article could lay a credible claim to his being a Republican, he didn't stop with claiming to be a Republican only, he claims to be a Conservative Republican, and that qualifier 'conservative' requires a bit more information from him than simply having announced that he'd joined the GOP. After all - Lindsay Graham is a Republican too, but you're not going to find a whole lot of Conservatives or Tea Party members that are going to be too impressed by that, right? To make a credible claim as to being a Conservative, he needs to show a solid level of understanding of the principles behind the constitution (U.S. and MO), as well as a regard for, and commitment to, the U.S. Constitution itself. What has he said to place himself squarely on the Conservative and Tea Party Right, as opposed to being in the middle of the road, or even over there on the side of the road with the RINOs?

The only way to find out, is to begin taking a look at what he himself has said:
"I am a conservative Republican, but I didn’t start out that way.

I was raised as a Democrat. I was taught that Harry Truman was the greatest president ever because he was strong, stood up to the communists, and most important, he was from Missouri. I was taught to stand up for the little guy, and that bigger government was the best way to do that. I registered to vote as a Democrat, and several years ago some Democrats even tried to recruit me to run for Congress.

There was one rather large problem. As I got older, I no longer believed in their ideas. Even worse, I had concluded that liberals aren’t just wrong. All too often they are world-class hypocrites. They talk a great game about helping the most vulnerable, with ideas that feel good and fashionable. The problem is their ideas don’t work, and often hurt the exact people they claim to help."
Which is all very welcome, well and good. I personally have no problem in welcoming someone who's realized their political errors and corrected them, or with believing in the depth of their conversion, but I do need to see evidence of their understanding the principles they claim to have converted to.

Some obvious examples of others who have given ample evidence of just that sort of thing, would be Ronald Reagan, who didn't just switch parties because one 'worked better' than the other, he solidly expressed his grasp of the principles which separated the philosophies of the Left from the Right, in his Goldwater announcement speech, "A Time for Choosing", and he spent years acting consistently with his words. David Horowitz is another excellent that comes to mind, as someone who was once a deeply entrenched and radical leftist, and he not only switched parties, but has gone to great lengths demonstrating very effectively his understanding of why leftist ideas are faulty and corrupt. A little closer to home in time and place would be Dana Loesch, who began as a democrat operative but soon realized her error, left the Left, and has since demonstrated very well, through actions with the Tea Party, on radio, TV and in print, her solid understanding of, and commitment to, the principles which our Individual Rights rest upon and require.

But being as I'm not, as Bill put it, 'lazy' enough to accept someone's assertions alone, I need evidence that such a person didn't simply change party affiliations to find a snazzier party. And I feel zero guilt whatsoever in having questions about their status, especially when I see that the reasons which they've given for their conversion, are far short of being deep enough reasons to explain the error they claim to have corrected.

For instance, it's good that he realized that the leftist approach was hypocritical, that it hurt those it claimed to want to help and simply didn't work. But while that may be enough to explain his becoming a Republican, it isn't enough to assure people, especially me, that he now has a conservative understanding and approach to political issues. After all, again, Lindsay Graham will tell you the very same thing about the democrats and their policies, but you'd have an easier time selling space heaters in hell, than convincing conservatives that Lindsay Graham was one of them.

So what else has Mr. Greitens given us to go on? What deeds or reasoned insights, rather than simply assertions and labels, has he given us? After reciting a valid list of leftist policies that don't work, he says:
"I became a conservative because I believe that caring for people means more than just spending taxpayer money; it means delivering results. It means respecting and challenging our citizens, telling them what they need to hear, not simply what they want to hear. "
The first sentence, especially it's ending, reminds me of earlier statements of 'smarter', kinder, gentler, government social programs, which is a big red flag to me, of a republican not being a Tea Party compatible, Free Market Conservative, dedicated to upholding Individual Rights through the Rule of Law under constitutionally limited government.

I don't think very much of the 'compassionate conservative' shtick. I found it appallingly bad when William F. Buckley Jr. pushed it back in the 1990's (we'll go into detail why in later posts), it was the reason why I didn't vote for George W. Bush in the 2000 primary, and I think it pretty much wore its welcome out with the rest of the nation with W's administration. Demonstrating that you understand the principles that conservatism is derived from requires much more than delivering 'results' and telling people what you think they need to hear, we need to hear you demonstrate a desire for the kind of results that are consistent with conservatism, worthwhile and proper to achieve. So far, I haven't seen that.
"So what would I do? I believe in limited but effective government."
I'm sorry, but that 'but' makes his But look really big to me. When he says 'but effective', he's saying that as a qualifier on 'limited government', which makes it seem to me that his goal is less about ensuring that government remains properly 'limited', than about making its ability to deliver 'results' more efficiently, to be more important than its being limited. Believing in limited government is highly desirable, but Why should it be limited? I'm not seeing any indication from him as to why government should be limited, and that, for me, has to come before anything else. His words indicate to me that he thinks that there are lots of limitations to those limits on government, especially if they might deliver 'effective government'. That sends a shudder down my spine.
"I believe in replacing ObamaCare with something that actually works."
I most emphatically do not. I do not believe that ObamaCare is bad because Obama and the Democrats proposed it, but because govt CANNOT provide any solutions that will not impair the quality and liberty of everyone involved in the area of health care, and so any GovtCare is doomed to failure, and as such we should not attempt to 'fix' it, or replace it, but to remove it. I don't want to replace the devil I know with one I don't know, I want to exorcise the damn thing, bell, book and candle! I believe in repealing ObamaCare, as well as repealing all the other operational healthcare and insurance industry regulations/corporate favors, and I believe in exterminating every other interference into the free market. That means eliminating all intrusive government 'solutions' that prevent people from making intelligent decisions and acting on them for their own reasons. Only by doing that, can a Free Market, which gave us modern health in the first place, be restored.

I'm unable and emphatically unwilling to see anything less than that as a 'conservative' solution, though I've no doubt you could get Lindsay Graham to go along with it.
"I believe in putting working families and job creation ahead of special interests."
That sounds, at best, like re-calibrating your spin cycle so as to swap one set of special interests for another, for political gain. Switching special big biz interests, for special little guy interests, ultimately means retaining one set of special interests to be doled out as privileges to some, at everyone else's expense. If you are a Free Market Conservative, dedicated to Individual Rights and the Rule of Law, then you will not seek or accept the swapping of one form of favoritism for another, but will instead desire to eliminate all such special privileges so that all are equal before the law. That would be acceptable. Anything less, and you might as well go talk to Lindsay Graham - I'm sure he's ready to listen.
"I believe that in a free society we have to defend religious liberties and the 2nd Amendment, and protect innocent life, so everyone has the freedom to pursue happiness."
This isn't too bad... but I'd be more comfortable hearing something like "Liberty requires that everyone's individual rights be respected, and those rights that are singled out in our Bill of Rights must be held like daggers in the faces of those who'd like to use power to help and improve our lives for us.", anything less, is... less.
"I believe in reforming welfare, so every person can have a chance at a life of dignity, purpose, and meaning."
I do not. I believe in eliminating it. Only then, can every person have a chance at living their own lives.
"And I believe America’s public schools should be the best in the world."
Yeah, well, George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Bill Gates, Barrack Obama and Lindsay Graham all say the same things as well, but if you mean to use the centralized powers of the state or federal governments to accomplish that, then you will be saying nothing different than they would, which is nothing that I'd agree with or be willing to go along with.
"As Americans, we deserve much better than what we’re getting from our government. We don’t need more rhetoric. We want results."
Which of course is just more rhetoric. I don't want better results from our government, I want less of my government in my life so that I can get the results I deserve. As an American, I deserve to have my govt respect my right to live my own life, and anything more than that is, IMHO, significantly less.
"And that means changing politics as usual, which won’t be easy. But nothing worthwhile ever is. You have to fight for what you believe in, and I, for one, have never backed down from that kind of fight."
There are few things that sound more to me like politics as usual, than a politician saying 'that means changing politics as usual'; it's an easy thing to say, and it's a meaningless thing to say. Tell me something more meaningful, apply it to something more difficult, explain your principles and how you'd apply them to particular issues facing our state. Anything less than that is nothing more than politics as usual.

I've read his book "Heart and Fist", Eric Greitens has an impressive, record, and I wish that I could believe that he was on our side, but I see no reason to believe that that is the case. I've seen no effort on his part to demonstrate the depth of his principled understanding of what our side is. I've seen no credible assurances or answers from the candidate himself - and he is a writer! - that gives me reason to believe that the political principles that will drive his use of power in office, will be ones that'd make me comfortable with entrusting him with the power of that office.

Still, a year later and now nearly at the Primary, his comments have been shallow, trite, directed towards vague issues and gimmicks, with no substance to enable us to recognize what his principles are, and I'm not yet convinced that he even understands what our side is, let alone how to lead or fight for it.

The only effort he's made to connect with voters, where he might have been able to communicate how he will make political decisions, have been those Gubernatorial Debates he showed up for, and of course his great Missouri Listening Tour. I don't want to have a candidate listening to me when they're running for office - the only sound they need to hear from me would be my support or my vote - and the only way he's going to get that is by telling me what his ideas and beliefs and principles are, so that I can make up my mind about whether or not I want to entrust him with my vote. A candidate needs to speak, debate, publish and otherwise let We The People know what it is that he thinks, feels and is driven by. That's how you show the Show Me state that you're worthy to hold power as Governor of our state.

When I hear of his support for NGO's, his words that express little more than shallow associations with politically easy 'hot button' issues, I'm not learning anything about the political principles that he, particularly in a moment of crisis, or with a simply tough and unpopular decision, is going to be guided by in making his decision.

I know what he's thought to be right in the recent past, and that included supporting:
"President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, allocating almost $6 billion to new and existing service programs. Eric Greitens, a University of Missouri public affairs expert, says the bill is a call to service for all Americans."
, which means that I don't know what he thinks Right is, but I've got a lot of clues about the far left positions that he very recently supported as being right!

That's a problem for me, and to secure my vote I require his explanations, and demonstrations, of understanding those issues, and NOT simply the assurances of a flak who thinks he can peddle PR messages in lieu of a glaring lack of substance.

I have a huge problem with his entering this race without bothering to begin from the beginning. He, as a candidate, has a responsibility to demonstrate his having at least a fundamental understanding of the nature and purpose of the office he's seeking to be elected to, and of what he will bring to that. It didn't need to be a detailed set of position papers (though that wouldn't hurt), but just some general statements of principle and intent; but for him to enter the race without even a general formulation of that, particularly with his knowing how his own political history would unavoidably raise questions and concerns amongst those he's aiming to have as supporters, is, to me, a major lapse of judgment. The failure to do that would almost certainly leave those who would support him, who would be inspired by him, in the position of having to substitute their own personal sense of inspiration for his 'great qualities', for that relevant substance which he failed to provide, to carry them through any attempts at supporting and defending him.

That, to me, is an egregious failure of leadership on a philosophical and political level, and it was a failure of leadership on a personal level, to put his potential supporters in such a position on his behalf, over basic info that should have been a no-brainer to provide. Without that substance and proof from him, in his own words, and his visible ability to defend them, there is in terms of his political judgment, nothing there for me to support, only 'inspired substitute substance' that is worth less than the HTML it's written on.

In short: Eric Greitens 'identifies' as a 'conservative', in much the same way that this fellow 'identified' as a women in Target's changing room. To my fellow residents of the Show Me state: Demand something more of the candidate you vote for, than their having simply 'identified' as a Conservative - demand proof - Show Me.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The Rule of Law's long "Weekend at Bernie's" finally comes to a close - long live the Rule of Law!

No, the Rule of Law did not just die with the FBI's recommendation of no prosecution for Hillary, it's just that the nearly century long "Weekend at Bernie's" has finally come to a close - it is dead, but it happened long before today, and although dead, it's only mostly dead.

If you haven't seen the movie "Weekend at Bernie's",
"Two losers try to pretend that their murdered employer is really alive, leading the hitman to attempt to track him down to finish him off."
, give me a moment, and it's plot will become familiar to you.

Keep that in narrative in mind as we review the facts, which begin way back in 1837, when the Rule of Law had contracted a lethal disease in the Charles River Bridge v. Proprietors of Warren Bridge case, so much so that one of the deans of American Jurisprudence, Chancellor Kent, wrote in The New York Review, that
"A gathering gloom is cast over the future. We seem to have sunk suddenly below the horizon, to have lost the light of the sun."
, and when famed lawyer Daniel Webster desperately fought to save it, on losing the case, he simply, and he remorsefully stated, that it meant
"That's the death of property rights."
Sadly, those who might have cured its disease, the colleges, had themselves been infected, and soon after wards took to their deathbeds as well, dooming the entire Educational System to a similar fate, and so no relief was ever able to come.

By 1913 the disease had metastasized and spread to the patient's Constitutional System through the 16th, 17th & 18th Amendments, and from them to its political system, and for those paying attention, it was clear that the end was near. And so, sadly, in 1938, at the close of the Gold Clause Cases, Justice McReynolds pronounced that:
"this is Nero at his worst. The Constitution is gone."
, and so, tragically, nearly eighty years ago, our dear Constitution, together with its close companion, the Rule of Law, had officially died of its Progressive infection.

How did you not know of this?

Well, the news of their demise, if made known, as in the movie, it would have made matters very uncomfortable for two rather opportunistic and deeply desperate characters, an Elephant and a Donkey, who contrived a bold plan to take turns moving the body about admidst the crowd of drunken party goers, as often as necessary in order to make it seem to still be alive. So they'd move an arm here, shake its head there, and amazingly, everyone was fooled! Naturally though, as their interests conflicted, they sometimes battled over the body, leading to awkward moments where the eyeglasses would fly off here and there, but remarkably, in deep, dark comedic fashion, they pulled their ruse off.

Until today.

Today, following shortly after former President Bill Clinton's secret (almost) meeting with Attorney General Lynch, and on the day after the 240th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the long "Weekend at Bernies" finally came to a close, as it was no longer possible for anyone to pretend, with a straight face, that the body was still alive, no longer possible to mask its death with only a pair of dark glasses and clever repositioning of the corpse, as the fumes of bodily corruption and decay seeped out in the FBI director Comey's presser announcing that Hillary Clinton had broken numerous laws, but would not be charged because, seriously, she's Hillary Clinton, "no reasonable prosecutor..." is going to take that case.

Not even CNN could swallow that one whole.

But I've forgotten to mention the third character in the "Weekend at Bernie's" plot, haven't I, the hitman - who is that? That'd be modern philosophy, and it goes under many aliases: Misosophy, Marxism, Pragmatism, Pro-Regressivism; but whatever name it goes by, what it depends upon is that what IS, isn't. Reality is deniable, unidentifiable, that reality 'in itself' is something beyond our ability to know... which ultimately means is that reality is whatever you want it to be. How else do you think we got to the point of men 'identifying' as women? That Truth and Justice are meaningless because there is no truth, only what 'works' (for the moment). But what it all comes down to, is if your words have no meaning, there can be no Rule of Law, only its Doppelganger, the Rule of Rules.

Can you guess who it is that is served by the Rule of Rules? That's right, those with the power to make the rules, transforming "Justice" into, as one Meme wag put it:"Just us!"

So yes my friends, the Rule of Law has died, but that death occurred long, long ago. What is important now, however, today, is that people not attempt to remember it by the grotesque positions that the body has been placed in over the last eight decades, or even to focus on those later judgments that were given during the advanced moments of its deep illness. Instead, We The People should do our part to remember the Rule of Law when it was in fine health and good condition, fully alive and in control of its faculties, when its soul purpose was to uphold and defend our Individual Rights and Property under the understanding of Natural Law. Never forget, that the Rule of Law, Natural Law, Individual Rights and Property, are ideas, integrated concepts that enable men to know what is, and as such, they can't truly die, it only requires a people to attend to them, learn and understand them (as I'm attempting to help with in these posts), for them to live in that people's heart once again.

The Rule of Law is dead - long live the Rule of Law!