Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Judge Kavanaugh: Better than good - less than great - so much winning!

Before giving you my two cents on President Trump's nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to fill the seat on the Supreme Court that's been left by the departing Justice Kennedy, here are a few links that give good overviews. This one gives a good, brief, synopsis and links to his own opinions and further information, "8 Things to Know About Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh", and this one by legal-eagle Johnathan Adler, (H/T Dana Loesch) "Justice Kavanaugh (Updated)" , gives a much more detailed overview, and a rich bevy of links for those who'd like to really dig into Kavanaugh's opinions. And for the deeply committed, here's a marvelous compilation of links to his opinions and snippets of them. But the one which I think gives the best insight into what makes Kavanaugh 'tic' judicially, is this, from "The Faculty Lounge": "A Window into Brett Kavanaugh’s Judicial Philosophy", which I'll pull from at the bottom of this post.

There's a link in Adler's post to a lecture that Kavanaugh gave, on "The Courts and the Administrative State", and "Separation of Powers During the FortyFourth Presidency and Beyond", which are tops on my reading list, but there's also a video of that lecture by Kavanaugh, which is quite interesting.

The lecture itself is not what I was hoping for, such as his commentary on what basis the 'Administrative State' has in the Constitution (IMHO, none that isn't tortuously stretched), but instead was instead his observations on the day to day realities of ruling on questions of law and regulatory law, and on that count it was interesting as commentary on Kavanaugh himself, and positively, I think.

One anecdote he related might be seen as a judicial restatement of the old Real Estate maxim, that "The three most important considerations in Real Estate are 'Location!, Location! and Location!", which as Kavanaugh relates:
"...Justice Felix Frankfurter used to describe as the three rules of resolving these kinds of cases: “(1) Read the statute; (2) read the statute; (3) read the statute!”
, which Kavanaugh later sums up as "Don't believe the hype that the words of the document don't matter", and that the letter of the law very much matters to judges who are attempting to interpret it, which is of course, reassuring.

The second point of his that stuck out to me, was this observation, that:
"Legislation is never one person sitting down and writing out a piece of legislation. It is the House, the Senate, and the executive branch—different parts of the House and Senate, different political parties—which write these laws together, and it is a compromise. When you read a statute and say this doesn’t make any sense, it is not because the person drafting it did not know what he or she was doing; it is because it was not a he or she drafting; it was a they drafting it.

So what does that mean? That means that the legislation’s precise terms were a compromise among multiple actors, and, as judges, if we do not adhere to that compromise, if we do not adhere to the text of the provisions, we are really taking sides and upsetting the compromise that was reached in the legislative process. So functionalists have come to agree with the importance of the text. I want to emphasize that the text is not the end-all of statutory interpretation. But the statutory text is very important in determining how to resolve questions whether the agency has violated statutory constraints on it."
I think that is a vital nugget, about the Law, and about Judge Kavanaugh's understanding of it... which is mostly, but not entirely, a good thing.

You see, what concerns me, and gives me pause about Judge Kavanaugh's judicial philosophy, is illustrated by this opening to one of his papers, 'Brett M. Kavanaugh, Keynote Address: Two Challenges for the Judge as Umpire: Statutory Ambiguity and Constitutional Exceptions,'
"Justice Scalia believed in the rule of law as a law of rules. He wanted judges to be umpires, which ordinarily entails judges applying a settled legal principle to a particular set of facts. I agree with that vision of the judiciary. But there are two major impediments in current jurisprudence to achieving that vision of the judge as umpire. The first is the ambiguity trigger in statutory interpretation. The second is the amorphous tests employed in cases involving claimed constitutional exceptions. We should identify and study these issues. Inspired by Justice Scalia’s longstanding efforts to improve the law, we all must continue to pursue the ideal of a neutral, impartial judiciary."
That also sums up why, although I greatly appreciated Justice Scalia, I was never really able to be a fan of his, as such Textualist/Originalist views comes far too close to viewing the law as a 'Rule of Rules', which is a very different thing than a 'Rule of Law'. While cautioning that I'm still in the early stages of studying up on Judge Kavanaugh, the impression I get is of a legal technologist, which is similar the mindset that guided Judge Bork to describe the 9th & 10th Amendments as 'judicial ink blots' on the constitution, and was a perspective which Scalia often similarly expressed in his opinions (which I addressed a few years back, in "What Would the Founders Do? Common Sense says WHO CARES!"), and which textualists, originalists and functionalists, express in ways that are disturbingly autistic towards the principles of Natural Law that our Constitution was derived from, and which those jurists I do admire, such as Justice Clarence Thomas, still stand up for.

And so, to get back to the post I mentioned above, from 'The Faculty Lounge', rather than just another laundry list of his opinions and inclinations, it offers a much better look into the judicial philosophy of Judge Kavanaugh, of how he views the Constitution, our Founders and (in its absence from his views) the concepts of Natural Law that drove them to frame, adopt and ratify our Constitution and its Bill of Rights. In "A Window into Brett Kavanaugh’s Judicial Philosophy", the author, largely drawing from a roundtable "A Dialogue with Federal Judges on the Role of History in Interpretation" that Kavanaugh participated in with a number of other Federal Judges,, notes that,
"...Although the roundtable’s topic was the importance of history in judicial interpretation, Judge Kavanaugh took a contrarian view, indicating that he does not think historical context is all that helpful to judges. During the dialogue, he pointed out that the framers were not “all of one mind” and in fact had “wildly different views.” As an example of the diverse viewpoints expressed at the Constitutional Convention, Kavanaugh noted the stark contrast between how Alexander Hamilton of New York and George Mason of Virginia viewed the proper role of the federal government.

According to Kavanaugh, the framers’ diverse and often conflicting opinions should make judges skeptical of historical evidence, even in the case of a document as renowned and influential as the Federalist Papers. As the judge explained during the roundtable:
“The point being, be careful about even The Federalist . . . point of view. That’s not the authoritative interpretation of the [Constitution’s] words. You’ve [also] got to be careful about some of the ratification debates. You’ve got to be careful about different people at the Convention itself. They had different views.”
For Kavanaugh, the most pertinent historical fact is that the Constitution came about as the result of political compromise. He thus warned that it is a mistake to rely on historical evidence that might give one framer’s interpretation of the Constitution’s meaning more weight than others. As he stressed to the roundtable:
That view is, as far as it goes, true... but it is only meaningful, if you approach those arguments and compromises, from a point of view that is informed by the concepts of Natural Law with which those differing opinions were formed, and debated. Absent that, Kavanaugh, like Scalia, and many other 'Conservative!' jurists, often deliver opinions that are strangely tone deaf, in regards to our Individual Rights, seeing in areas that are absolutely critical to their defense, only 'ink blots' upon our Constitution.

But, do not forget that President Trump could have done so much worse in his pick to fill this vacancy on the Supreme Court, and I think it's unfair for me to refer to Judge Kavanaugh in that manner. My first and cold read on Kavanaugh, at this point in time, is that he is a better selection than most, and will be very much better than Justice Kennedy, even as his decisions will more likely fall somewhere on a line between Justices' Scalia, Alito and Roberts, in his opinions, than with those of Justices Thomas & Gorsuch.

But in this day and age... that's still winning!

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Calvin Coolidge and remembering how dependent our Constitution is, upon our understanding of our Declaration of Independence!

Once again, before getting to my annual reposting of Calvin Coolidge's speech on the Inspiration of our Declaration of Independence, I want to point out, first, that our independence wasn't begun on July 4th 1776, that was simply the end of the beginning. Where our independence began, according to a fellow that was in attendance at both events, John Adams, was when James Otis spoke against King George's 'Against Writs of Assistance' back in 1761, which as Adams recalled it,
",,,But Otis was a flame of fire! With a promptitude of Classical Allusions, a depth of research, a rapid summary of historical events & dates, a profusion of Legal Authorities, a prophetic glance of his eyes into futurity, and a rapid torrent of impetuous Eloquence he hurried away all before him. American Independence was then & there born. The seeds of Patriots & Heroes to defend the Non sine Diis Animosus Infans; to defend the Vigorous Youth were then & there sown. Every Man of an immense crouded Audience appeared to me to go away, as I did, ready to take Arms against Writs of Assistants. Then and there was the first scene of the first Act of opposition to the Arbitrary claims of Great Britain. Then and there the Child Independence was born. In fifteen years i.e. in 1776. he grew up to Manhood, & declared himself free.,,,"[emphasis mine]
I point that out, because it underlines the importance of what is perhaps most remarkable about what the Declaration of Independence's author, Thomas Jefferson, considered to be the least remarkable aspect of it - that he intended the Declaration as an expression of ideas that were familiar and commonly understood, by the majority of Americans, of that time, as Jefferson wrote to a friend in later years, about what it was meant to accomplish:
"Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion. All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c..."
That is why we are unique in the annals of human history, as being a nation founded upon ideas (those twits mouthing on about 'inherent American anti-intellectualism' can kiss my patriotic ass). And those common ideas, and their influence, continued to serve as strong guides for the later creation of our Constitution, can be easily found in even a cursory reading, between the charges of the Declaration of Independence against King George, and their reflection in our Constitution and the amendments to it, and ...
To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.
"HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries."
  • The first three articles of our Constitution, divides Govt into three branches, which prevent any one person or wing from attaining a monopoly of power over the others.
"HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance."
  • This is what our Constitution was expressly designed to forbid, which unfortunately is what the pro-regressive Administrative State, was erected upon it to encourage (as was our politically instituted educational system) - proof that Laws that do not live in the hearts and minds of the people, cannot protect them against themselves
"HE has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislatures. HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power."
  • Congress has control of organizing and funding the military budget, and while the Executive has command of the military, he can not do much, for long, without the further consent of the people's representatives, and in all ways, the military is under civil control.
"FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us"
"FOR protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States"
"FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World"
"FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
"FOR depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury"
, and if you take the time to read both, you will find many, many, more points of harmony between the two.

But enough, onto Calvin Coolidge's speech, and a happy Independence Day to you all!

The Inspiration of the Declaration of Independence
Given in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 5, 1926:

President Calvin Coolidge
We meet to celebrate the birthday of America. The coming of a new life always excites our interest. Although we know in the case of the individual that it has been an infinite repetition reaching back beyond our vision, that only makes it the more wonderful. But how our interest and wonder increase when we behold the miracle of the birth of a new nation. It is to pay our tribute of reverence and respect to those who participated in such a mighty event that we annually observe the fourth day of July. Whatever may have been the impression created by the news which went out from this city on that summer day in 1776, there can be no doubt as to the estimate which is now placed upon it. At the end of 150 years the four corners of the earth unite in coming to Philadelphia as to a holy shrine in grateful acknowledgment of a service so great, which a few inspired men here rendered to humanity, that it is still the preeminent support of free government throughout the world.

Although a century and a half measured in comparison with the length of human
experience is but a short time, yet measured in the life of governments and nations it ranks as a very respectable period. Certainly enough time has elapsed to demonstrate with a great deal of thoroughness the value of our institutions and their dependability as rules for the regulation of human conduct and the advancement of civilization. They have been in existence long enough to become very well seasoned. They have met, and met successfully, the test of experience.

It is not so much then for the purpose of undertaking to proclaim new theories and principles that this annual celebration is maintained, but rather to reaffirm and reestablish those old theories and principles which time and the unerring logic of events have demonstrated to be sound. Amid all the clash of conflicting interests, amid all the welter of partisan politics, every American can turn for solace and consolation to the Declaration of independence and the Constitution of the United States with the assurance and confidence that those two great charters of freedom and justice remain firm and unshaken. Whatever perils appear, whatever dangers threaten, the Nation remains secure in the knowledge that the ultimate application of the law of the land will provide an adequate defense and protection.

It is little wonder that people at home and abroad consider Independence Hall as hallowed ground and revere the Liberty Bell as a sacred relic. That pile of bricks and mortar, that mass of metal, might appear to the uninstructed as only the outgrown meeting place and the shattered bell of a former time, useless now because of more modern conveniences, but to those who know they have become consecrated by the use which men have made of them. They have long been identified with a great cause. They are the framework of a spiritual event. The world looks upon them, because of their associations of one hundred and fifty years ago, as it looks upon the Holy Land because of what took place there nineteen hundred years ago. Through use for a righteous purpose they have become sanctified.

It is not here necessary to examine in detail the causes which led to the American Revolution. In their immediate occasion they were largely economic. The colonists objected to the navigation laws which interfered with their trade, they denied the power of Parliament to impose taxes which they were obliged to pay, and they therefore resisted the royal governors and the royal forces which were sent to secure obedience to these laws. But the conviction is inescapable that a new civilization had come, a new spirit had arisen on this side of the Atlantic more advanced and more developed in its regard for the rights of the individual than that which characterized the Old World. Life in a new and open country had aspirations which could not be realized in any subordinate position. A separate establishment was ultimately inevitable. It had been decreed by the very laws of human nature. Man everywhere has an unconquerable desire to be the master of his own destiny.

We are obliged to conclude that the Declaration of Independence represented the movement of a people. It was not, of course, a movement from the top. Revolutions do not come from that direction. It was not without the support of many of the most respectable people in the Colonies, who were entitled to all the consideration that is given to breeding, education, and possessions. It had the support of another element of great significance and importance to which I shall later refer. But the preponderance of all those who occupied a position which took on the aspect of aristocracy did not approve of the Revolution and held toward it an attitude either of neutrality or open hostility. It was in no sense a rising of the oppressed and downtrodden. It brought no scum to the surface, for the reason that colonial society had developed no scum. The great body of the people were accustomed to privations, but they were free from depravity. If they had poverty, it was not of the hopeless kind that afflicts great cities, but the inspiring kind that marks the spirit of the pioneer. The American Revolution represented the informed and mature convictions of a great mass of independent, liberty-loving, God-fearing people who knew their rights, and possessed the courage to dare to maintain them. The Continental Congress was not only composed of great men, but it represented a great people. While its members did not fail to exercise a remarkable leadership, they were equally observant of their representative capacity. They were industrious in encouraging their constituents to instruct them to support independence. But until such instructions were given they were inclined to withhold action.

While North Carolina has the honor of first authorizing its delegates to concur with other Colonies in declaring independence, it was quickly followed by South Carolina and Georgia, which also gave general instructions broad enough to include such action. But the first instructions which unconditionally directed its delegates to declare for independence came from the great Commonwealth of Virginia. These were immediately followed by Rhode Island and Massachusetts, while the other Colonies, with the exception of New York, soon adopted a like course.

This obedience of the delegates to the wishes of their constituents, which in some cases caused them to modify their previous positions, is a matter of great significance. It reveals an orderly process of government in the first place; but more than that, it demonstrates that the Declaration of Independence was the result of the seasoned and deliberate thought of the dominant portion of the people of the Colonies. Adopted after long discussion and as the result of the duly authorized expression of the preponderance of public opinion, it did not partake of dark intrigue or hidden conspiracy. It was well advised. It had about it nothing of the lawless and disordered nature of a riotous insurrection. It was maintained on a plane which rises above the ordinary conception of rebellion. It was in no sense a radical movement but took on the dignity of a resistance to illegal usurpations. It was conservative and represented the action of the colonists to maintain their constitutional rights which from time immemorial had been guaranteed to them under the law of the land.

When we come to examine the action of the Continental Congress in adopting the Declaration of Independence in the light of what was set out in that great document and in the light of succeeding events, we can not escape the conclusion that it had a much broader and deeper significance than a mere secession of territory and the establishment of a new nation. Events of that nature have been taking place since the dawn of history. One empire after another has arisen, only to crumble away as its constituent parts separated from each other and set up independent governments of their own. Such actions long ago became commonplace. They have occurred too often to hold the attention of the world and command the admiration and reverence of humanity. There is something beyond the establishment of a new nation, great as that event would be, in the Declaration of Independence which has ever since caused it to be regarded as one of the great charters that not only was to liberate America but was everywhere to ennoble humanity.

It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history. Great ideas do not burst upon the world unannounced. They are reached by a gradual development over a length of time usually proportionate to their importance. This is especially true of the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence. Three very definite propositions were set out in its preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.

If no one is to be accounted as born into a superior station, if there is to be no ruling class, and if all possess rights which can neither be bartered away nor taken from them by any earthly power, it follows as a matter of course that the practical authority of the Government has to rest on the consent of the governed. While these principles were not altogether new in political action, and were very far from new in political speculation, they had never been assembled before and declared in such a combination. But remarkable as this may be, it is not the chief distinction of the Declaration of Independence. The importance of political speculation is not to be under-estimated, as I shall presently disclose. Until the idea is developed and the plan made there can be no action.

It was the fact that our Declaration of Independence containing these immortal truths was the political action of a duly authorized and constituted representative public body in its sovereign capacity, supported by the force of general opinion and by the armies of Washington already in the field, which makes it the most important civil document in the world. It was not only the principles declared, but the fact that therewith a new nation was born which was to be founded upon those principles and which from that time forth in its development has actually maintained those principles, that makes this pronouncement an incomparable event in the history of government. It was an assertion that a people had arisen determined to make every necessary sacrifice for the support of these truths and by their practical application bring the War of Independence to a successful conclusion and adopt the Constitution of the United States with all that it has meant to civilization.

The idea that the people have a right to choose their own rulers was not new in political history. It was the foundation of every popular attempt to depose an undesirable king. This right was set out with a good deal of detail by the Dutch when as early as July 26, 1581, they declared their independence of Philip of Spain. In their long struggle with the Stuarts the British people asserted the same principles, which finally culminated in the Bill of Rights deposing the last of that house and placing William and Mary on the throne. In each of these cases sovereignty through divine right was displaced by sovereignty through the consent of the people. Running through the same documents, though expressed in different terms, is the clear inference of inalienable rights. But we should search these charters in vain for an assertion of the doctrine of equality. This principle had not before appeared as an official political declaration of any nation. It was profoundly revolutionary. It is one of the corner stones of American institutions.

But if these truths to which the declaration refers have not before been adopted in their combined entirety by national authority, it is a fact that they had been long pondered and often expressed in political speculation. It is generally assumed that French thought had some effect upon our public mind during Revolutionary days. This may have been true. But the principles of our declaration had been under discussion in the Colonies for nearly two generations before the advent of the French political philosophy that characterized the middle of the eighteenth century. In fact, they come from an earlier date. A very positive echo of what the Dutch had done in 1581, and what the English were preparing to do, appears in the assertion of the Rev. Thomas Hooker of Connecticut as early as 1638, when he said in a sermon before the General Court that:
The foundation of authority is laid in the free consent of the people

The choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God's own allowance.

This doctrine found wide acceptance among the nonconformist clergy who later made up the Congregational Church. The great apostle of this movement was the Rev. John Wise, of Massachusetts. He was one of the leaders of the revolt against the royal governor Andros in 1687, for which he suffered imprisonment. He was a liberal in ecclesiastical controversies. He appears to have been familiar with the writings of the political scientist, Samuel Pufendorf, who was born in Saxony in 1632. Wise published a treatise, entitled "The Church's Quarrel Espoused," in 1710 which was amplified in another publication in 1717. In it he dealt with the principles of civil government. His works were reprinted in 1772 and have been declared to have been nothing less than a textbook of liberty for our Revolutionary fathers.

While the written word was the foundation, it is apparent that the spoken word was the vehicle for convincing the people. This came with great force and wide range from the successors of Hooker and Wise, It was carried on with a missionary spirit which did not fail to reach the Scotch Irish of North Carolina, showing its influence by significantly making that Colony the first to give instructions to its delegates looking to independence. This preaching reached the neighborhood of Thomas Jefferson, who acknowledged that his "best ideas of democracy" had been secured at church meetings.

That these ideas were prevalent in Virginia is further revealed by the Declaration of Rights, which was prepared by George Mason and presented to the general assembly on May 27, 1776. This document asserted popular sovereignty and inherent natural rights, but confined the doctrine of equality to the assertion that "All men are created equally free and independent". It can scarcely be imagined that Jefferson was unacquainted with what had been done in his own Commonwealth of Virginia when he took up the task of drafting the Declaration of Independence. But these thoughts can very largely be traced back to what John Wise was writing in 1710. He said, "Every man must be acknowledged equal to every man". Again, "The end of all good government is to cultivate humanity and promote the happiness of all and the good of every man in all his rights, his life, liberty, estate, honor, and so forth . . . ." And again, "For as they have a power every man in his natural state, so upon combination they can and do bequeath this power to others and settle it according as their united discretion shall determine". And still again, "Democracy is Christ's government in church and state". Here was the doctrine of equality, popular sovereignty, and the substance of the theory of inalienable rights clearly asserted by Wise at the opening of the eighteenth century, just as we have the principle of the consent of the governed stated by Hooker as early as 1638.

When we take all these circumstances into consideration, it is but natural that the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence should open with a reference to Nature's God and should close in the final paragraphs with an appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world and an assertion of a firm reliance on Divine Providence. Coming from these sources, having as it did this background, it is no wonder that Samuel Adams could say "The people seem to recognize this resolution as though it were a decree promulgated from heaven."

No one can examine this record and escape the conclusion that in the great outline of its principles the Declaration was the result of the religious teachings of the preceding period. The profound philosophy which Jonathan Edwards applied to theology, the popular preaching of George Whitefield, had aroused the thought and stirred the people of the Colonies in preparation for this great event. No doubt the speculations which had been going on in England, and especially on the Continent, lent their influence to the general sentiment of the times. Of course, the world is always influenced by all the experience and all the thought of the past. But when we come to a contemplation of the immediate conception of the principles of human relationship which went into the Declaration of Independence we are not required to extend our search beyond our own shores. They are found in the texts, the sermons, and the writings of the early colonial clergy who were earnestly undertaking to instruct their congregations in the great mystery of how to live. They preached equality because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. They justified freedom by the text that we are all created in the divine image, all partakers of the divine spirit.

Placing every man on a plane where he acknowledged no superiors, where no one possessed any right to rule over him, he must inevitably choose his own rulers through a system of self-government. This was their theory of democracy. In those days such doctrines would scarcely have been permitted to flourish and spread in any other country. This was the purpose which the fathers cherished. In order that they might have freedom to express these thoughts and opportunity to put them into action, whole congregations with their pastors had migrated to the colonies. These great truths were in the air that our people breathed. Whatever else we may say of it, the Declaration of Independence was profoundly American.

If this apprehension of the facts be correct, and the documentary evidence would appear to verify it, then certain conclusions are bound to follow. A spring will cease to flow if its source be dried up; a tree will wither if its roots be destroyed. In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We can not continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.

We are too prone to overlook another conclusion. Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments. This is both historically and logically true. Of course the government can help to sustain ideals and can create institutions through which they can be the better observed, but their source by their very nature is in the people. The people have to bear their own responsibilities. There is no method by which that burden can be shifted to the government. It is not the enactment, but the observance of laws, that creates the character of a nation.

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

In the development of its institutions America can fairly claim that it has remained true to the principles which were declared 150 years ago. In all the essentials we have achieved an equality which was never possessed by any other people. Even in the less important matter of material possessions we have secured a wider and wider distribution of wealth. The rights of the individual are held sacred and protected by constitutional guaranties, which even the Government itself is bound not to violate. If there is any one thing among us that is established beyond question, it is self government; the right of the people to rule. If there is any failure in respect to any of these principles, it is because there is a failure on the part of individuals to observe them. We hold that the duly authorized expression of the will of the people has a divine sanction. But even in that we come back to the theory of John Wise that "Democracy is Christ's government". The ultimate sanction of law rests on the righteous authority of the Almighty.

On an occasion like this a great temptation exists to present evidence of the practical success of our form of democratic republic at home and the ever broadening acceptance it is securing abroad. Although these things are well known, their frequent consideration is an encouragement and an inspiration. But it is not results and effects so much as sources and causes that I believe it is even more necessary constantly to contemplate. Ours is a government of the people. It represents their will. Its officers may sometimes go astray, but that is not a reason for criticizing the principles of our institutions. The real heart of the American Government depends upon the heart of the people. It is from that source that we must look for all genuine reform. It is to that cause that we must ascribe all our results.

It was in the contemplation of these truths that the fathers made their declaration and adopted their Constitution. It was to establish a free government, which must not be permitted to degenerate into the unrestrained authority of a mere majority or the unbridled weight of a mere influential few. They undertook the balance these interests against each other and provide the three separate independent branches, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial departments of the Government, with checks against each other in order that neither one might encroach upon the other. These are our guaranties of liberty. As a result of these methods enterprise has been duly protected from confiscation, the people have been free from oppression, and there has been an ever broadening and deepening of the humanities of life.

Under a system of popular government there will always be those who will seek for political preferment by clamoring for reform. While there is very little of this which is not sincere, there is a large portion that is not well informed. In my opinion very little of just criticism can attach to the theories and principles of our institutions. There is far more danger of harm than there is hope of good in any radical changes. We do need a better understanding and comprehension of them and a better knowledge of the foundations of government in general. Our forefathers came to certain conclusions and decided upon certain courses of action which have been a great blessing to the world. Before we can understand their conclusions we must go back and review the course which they followed. We must think the thoughts which they thought. Their intellectual life centered around the meeting-house. They were intent upon religious worship. While there were always among them men of deep learning, and later those who had comparatively large possessions, the mind of the people was not so much engrossed in how much they knew, or how much they had, as in how they were going to live. While scantily provided with other literature, there was a wide acquaintance with the Scriptures. Over a period as great as that which measures the existence of our independence they were subject to this discipline not only in their religious life and educational training, but also in their political thought. They were a people who came under the influence of a great spiritual development and acquired a great moral power.

No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.

***************
Happy Independence Day America!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A Super-Dee-Duper week at the Supreme Court of the United States of America!

What a wonderful week at the Supreme Court of the United States of America! On Monday, those rights that are defended by the 1st Amendment, were upheld as the "Supreme Court Backs Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Centers in Free Speech Case", which struck down California's effort to force religiously oriented “crisis pregnancy centers” to promote abortion mills to their patients with government scripted materials. And then Tuesday brought us a case in which the "Supreme Court Ruling Delivers a Sharp Blow to Labor Unions", which, by some estimates, will liberate some 770,000 citizens from having to support public sector labor unions, which are no longer able to compel membership dues from either those who fundamentally oppose the union's ideology, or simply because they don't want to be members of that union. That is such a good thing (Hopefully Missouri will extend the same right for 'private' workers, again. IOW: 'Vote Yes on Prop A' this August!)!

And then today, Wednesday, came the icing on the cake, as Justice Anthony Kennedy is stepping down from the court, and President Trump will soon be nominating his successor from the list of 25 potential nominees that Neil Gorsuch was also selected from.

Oh... happy day!

Of course, people being who they are, your mileage may vary... people such as, Chris Matthews, for instance:
"...To give this to the Republicans when they control the Senate basically 51 or 50 to 49 with John McCain perhaps not voting again—to give them this last chance to pack the court 5-4 again hard conservative, I again, I say the base will attack the leadership for this if they allow it to happen and they should. Because this is time for vengeance for what happened 2 years ago. And if they don’t reap the vengeance now with four and half months to go before the election, they will not look very strong to their base..."
Doncha think that his use of 'vengeance', really captures the reasonableness, the sense of toleration, and the desire to work together for the 'greater good', that the Pro-Regressive Left so thoroughly embodies? A perfect likeness, I think.

The Left's botched attempt to bring the GOP's Chickens home to roost
Unfortunately, even though Matthews' shouldn't have anything to splutter his hopes upon, his reference to 'what happened 2 years ago', is to a gift that the GOP gave to the Left, from when Merrick Garland was denied a hearing for the SCOTUS seat left vacant by Antonin Scalia's death. That desperate delaying tactic was, as I railed at the time, " a weak, despicable, display of cowardice.", and it didn't require much cranial wattage to realize:
"... the precedent that it will set for every President elected from here on out, where Congress will set limits on executive power based upon it's current comfort levels on the coming election...."
, which in effect provides an excuse to deprive a sitting president of the opposite party, of his power to nominate a SCOTUS vacancy during a presidential election year (one quarter of his term in office!). It is an awful, irresponsible idea... which was validated by the GOP. What's worse, it wasn't necessary, which had they made even a light review of Garland's record, they'd have seen that it was full of opinions that warranted the Senate's legitimate denial of consent to his nomination to the SCOTUS, as many of them were in direct conflict to the United States Constitution that he was supposed to be upholding. Had Sen. McConnell and the GOP had the sand to meet the challenge head-on by examining and exposing the unsuitability of Garland for the highest court in the land, that ploy first proposed by then Senator Joe Biden, would have been long forgotten in irrelevance.

Fortunately for us, however, that same excuse won't work today. Why? Here, let Sen. Schumer tell you why:
"Our Republican colleagues in the Senate should follow the rule they set in 2016: Not to consider a Supreme Court justice in an election year."
Don't look now Sen. Schumer, but this is not a presidential election year, it is only a mid-term election - which he has to know... though maybe, as my friend Dana Loesch suggests, maybe he's simply hoping on your ignorance to carry his argument through:
Yep, not only is it not a presidential election year, but years after Joe Biden first floated that absurdity, President Obama himself nominated, and saw seated, Justice Elena Kagan, in the swing mid-term election year of 2010!

IOW my dear Leftist friends: You've got no legs to stand on.

We The People, on the other hand, are looking pretty good, as the vacancy left by Garland's being passed over, was one which President Trump later filled by nominating Neil Gorsuch - an excellent justice, second only to Justice Thomas on the current court. I only hope that President Trump can deliver another such winner from his list of 25 Justices, so that I can see what getting tired of winning, really feels like. :-)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Dear Mr. De Niro: How do you expect to convey meaning, when your words are meaningless?

Everyone's probably seen or heard about Robert De Niro's emphatic F'bomb at the Tony Awards, even those, like me, who didn't watch it. Is there something we can learn from that? Well, not from his 'words', such as they were, but perhaps there is something to be learned from the meaning they lacked.

But first, a couple housecleaning points:

  1. Robert DiNero is a fine actor. To call him washed up, or a hasbeen, is not only an ad hominem, it is a silly one without much more merit than his own statement at the Tony's.
  2. Will I continue to watch his movies? To the extent I did until now, yes. Why? Because he's a good actor, and as an actor he doesn't portray himself, but brings other characters to life in a movie. If he ever takes to portraying himself in movies that are all about what he thinks... those I won't bother with. But until then? Yeah, if a movie seems interesting, his being in it won't phase me one bit.
  3. Being an actor doesn't disqualify him from expressing an opinion. If you'd like to argue the point, I suggest you take that up with James Woods.
Ok, so on to what Robert De Niro didn't have to say, in the meaningless words he emoted for us on the little screen.

It's not all that complicated to see what I mean by that, take a look yourself (note: F'bombs aren't edited out of the video):
"F* Trump. It's no longer 'Down with Trump!', it's F* Trump!"
Can you tell me what that means by that? And I don't mean 'What emotions did he stir up in you?', I mean: What meaning did his words convey to you? What ideas, or gems of political philosophy did they clarify for you? What course of action did they help you to understand that you should take, and which you will now follow through on? Will those ideas and actions contribute more to our public discourse than slapping a pink pussy hat on your head?

No?

No... I'm pretty sure that the words he so deliberately spoke, meant nothing at all to himself or to anyone else, other than an emotionally meaningless statement without any connection to meaningful ideas to be thought upon, or of effective actions to be taken (and no, yelling 'Down with Trump!' doesn't qualify on any count there), just one shock statement, followed by one meaningless cliche, followed again by the same meaninglessly shocking statement (well... it was shocking at one point a decade or two ago, now it's about as shocking as a raised eyebrow), spoken by an old man in a tuxedo.

So?

He carefully and deliberately stated that he wanted to say something to the audience, and the nation, and then spoke words which had no real meaning. That, to me, is far more shocking than the shock value he intended. This much revered and distinguished looking old man in a tuxedo, went out of his way to say something to the world... but what he spoke did nothing more than demonstrate that he had strong feelings which he was apparently unable to put into words (or possibly felt that more meaningful words would be beyond the ability of his audience to grasp?).

Either way, that's sad.

His statement, the emotion of which resonated through the heads of his audience who were equally attuned to the meaninglessness of his words, contained even less meaning, than did the little boy in 'Kindergarten Cop', when he makes the shocking statement (from a little child, to 1990's audiences)that
'Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina'
It's worth noting how the body language of the little boy, closely matches that of Robert De Niro (watch the little boy shaking both arms in fists above his head after saying it), as does the nervously enthusiastic laughter of the other boys and girls in the kindergarten class.

Both of them had nothing to say, beyond delightedly shocking their audience. The difference, of course, is that one group was a group of six year olds, and the other a group of adults, but what they had in common is that they both seemed to be faced with an inability to contain uncomfortable feelings that they can't really put into words and ideas, except to shock each other with.

One group it is forgiveably amusing and maybe even endearing. The other... not so much.

How do people like De Niro and the other entertainers in his audience, expect to convey meaning, or even to live meaningful lives, when the words and phrases they prefer to use, are so meaningless? Perhaps it's just as well that other people write the words that they act out on the silver screen.

But I can't help wondering if there is any connection between the high profile suicides that seem to plague Mr. De Niro's audience, and the likelihood that they too are so filled with angst, without the ability to put those emotions into meaningful words, themselves.

Sad.

The Frauds of Free Trade, and the possible uses of Tariffs

As someone who holds Free Trade in high regard, I'm about sick of all of those on all sides of the issue, who toss the term about as if it holds no further meaning or purpose than to serve their personal political agendas. For instance, there are the direct frauds of 'free trade', such as Sen. McCain, and a host of others, who have been blathering on about President Trump's tariff talk, as being a threat to what they delight in calling 'Free Trade' between the G7 nations:
There's just one teensy problem with that - for it to be possible to harm an actual Free Trade scenario between the nations of the G7, something resembling Free Trade needs to already exist between them - and it doesn't!!

These nations have not signed on to their pet 'trade agreements', concocted and employed reams of demands and requirements in carefully worded legalese, in order to say nothing more than:
"We pledge not to hamper, alter, favor or hinder anyone engaging in any form of trade across our borders."
Instead, they, and Canada is particularly relevant in this, have enshrined multiple tariffs against trade from the dairy, lumber, and other industries of the United States of America - not only is that not how Free Trade works, it eliminates the possibility of it, which means that the one thing that most definitely does NOT exist between the peoples of those nations right now, is Free Trade!  It is not 'Free Trade', but multi-national agreements of officially sanctioned intrusions into a Free Market, that are the '70 years of shared values' that the likes of John McCain are tweeting their support of, and to hear them pretending to defend 'Free Trade', is like hearing Jack the Ripper calling for chivalrous behavior towards women.

Free Trade is not brought about through governments imposing their restrictions, directives and penalties upon the peoples' attempting to trade across those nations borders.

Free Trade is what results when the political philosophy (which economics is but a subset of) of those nations, have created a Free Market to trade freely within, by establishing a Rule of Law that is dedicated to upholding the rights, property and contracts of their people.

Free Trade, and Free Markets, cease to exist when some or all of those nations write laws and treaties which use their political powers to alter, hinder, favor, and exploit what trade they do deign to permit between their peoples - no matter what you choose to call that, that is not Free Trade.

The truth is that where there exists a NAFTA, or a TPP, or G7 agreements, or ___ (fill in the damn blank), in place between these nations, cutting 'deals' that their people must conform not only their trade to, but more than a few slates of preciously politically correct policies, these manifestos of political manipulation, favoritism and corruption, ensure that there can be NO FREE TRADE existing between the nations involved in these agreements. Those who are peddling, supporting, enabling or ignoring the reality of these 'trade agreements', in order to continue this... fiction about 'Free Trade' being threatened, are, IMHO, the more egregious liars, hypocrites, and frauds involved in the process, not the person who is upsetting the collective apple cart by refusing to play along nicely in such deceitful schemes.
Late Update:
Trump shook up the meeting on Saturday morning by proposing to eliminate all barriers to global trade, a surprise turnaround from his aggressive tone on tariffs before the summit.

“No tariffs, no barriers, that’s the way it should be, and no subsidies,” Trump said during a 30-minute press conference in La Malbaie. "I did suggest it and people were -- I guess they’re going to go back to the drawing board and check it out."
Sorry, who's the threat to Free Trade?
But wait, there's more!
And then there are those constitutional experts who are using 'Free Trade!' and 'the Constitution!', to prattle on about how only Congress can create tariffs, not the President,  and in doing so are being more than a little disingenuous and obfuscatory. Yes, that is what is stated in the text of the Constitution, very true, as you can see in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1,
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
, but there's more to the truth of the matter than that. Congress has passed a number of laws, that explicitly delegate that power to the President, giving him the ability to propose or impose Tariffs, with very few restrictions. Those laws have yet to be successfully challenged and overturned by the Supreme Court (good lord, even writers at Vox realize this - what's the 'experts' excuse?). So... unless you are advocating for pitching the entire congressional record, laws, regulations and codes (which... I'm listening), shut up already about the President not having the power of Tariffs.

FWIW, I don't think it's a good idea for a president to have that kind of power, but thanks to Congress's disdain for our Constitution, and their repeated preference for the Administrative State, the President does now effectively have that power.

... and the economics of cheerleading
And for the rest of you who are enthusiastically on Trump's side of this, stop beclowning yourselves by saying that Tariff's help the economy - they do not. Or rather, it is the easiest thing to point to what is helped by them, but it takes only a little more effort in thought and attention, to see the greater and more widespread damage that they do to the rest of the nation's economy, and to equal treatment before the law.

Frédéric Bastiat, in his 'What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen, or Political Economy in One Lesson', and in his 'Economic Sophisms', gave more than enough arguments and demonstrations of the truth of this, back in the mid 1800's, and just as 2+2 is still equal to 4, the truths he exposed and explained about the economic folly of tariffs (and other market interventions), are still, stubbornly, factually, true today, and for all tomorrows to come.

Tariffs are economically unjustifiable. But what about politically...?
Is there a place for Tariffs? Economically speaking? Again, IMHO, No. When government interferes into its citizens contracts in order to 'help' them compete with others from other nations (or within their own, for that matter), the appearance of helpfulness is an illusion. There is no credible justification for initiating the use of Tariffs to 'help' your nation's industry, and especially not to 'level the playing field' with another nation's people and industry, who are legitimately more productive in that area than your own. Ignoring and abusing that power, will result in real and immediate harm to the liberty, rights and property, of those you're ostensibly trying to 'help'. It is true that in the Founder's era, with the study of Political Economy still in its infancy, it was thought there was a justification for tariffs, which is why it was included in the Constitution. However, as was proven over and again within just 50 years of the ratification of our Constitution, on that matter our Founder's were mistaken. Oops.

Still... that doesn't mean that there isn't a political justification for using tariffs.

There is an argument to be made that Tariffs provide a viable means for political retaliation against nations that are improperly and aggressively using their political power to gain from economically damaging another nation's industries, and in a scenario such as that, Tariffs may well be justified in much the same way that retaliatory force is justified in response to physical aggression from an attacking person or an invading nation. Tariff's may well have a valid place in a nation's political arsenal, as a means of addressing economic conflicts, aka: Trade Wars.

But. As with any form of warfare, it is going to be costly, and it will do damage to their own economy, in employing it - neither side will benefit, except through the complete cessation of hostilities. The questions to be asked, are:
  • are the other nation's aggressive provocations worth the response?
  • will that response do greater damage to the aggressor nation, than to your own?
  • will those actions be enough to convince them to curb their aggression?
That is a dangerous game to play, and it only becomes moreso by treating these situations, as the economic questions they only appear to be, rather than as the weighty political issues they actually are. Such oversights can lead to  dangerous misjudgments, misapplications of power, and would almost certainly lead to deeper and more painful complications, conflicts, and unforeseen consequences, from their misuse.

Free Trade, real Free Trade, is hands down, the best policy for all.

But again, if Trump wants to threaten tariffs as a means of negotiating with other nations to end their tariffs, or as a means of political retaliation when they will not drop their aggressive policies towards us, then although I worry about the  possible consequences (which should not be taken lightly), I don't have a real problem with his doing so.

But if we persist in speaking of Free Trade, where it does not and cannot exist; if we insist that some presidents follow constitutional means while ignoring the legislative means that Congress has written to get around them; if we ignore economic realities in the face of partisan fervor; if we fail to identify the nature of the remedies we use, and remain ignorant of the real consequences those measures might bring about... if anyone expects that we can willfully ignore reality as a means to achieving economic benefits for America... we are all in for a very rude awakening.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Eric Greitens Resigns - 'It's over' is not the phrase I'd use (rant)

So... Eric Greitens resigned. Before I let loose a rant about how... displeased I am about this development, I trust that I don't need to say too much about how opposed I was to him in the race for governor of Missouri. But if that's not the case, you can get the gist of my opposition to his candidacy here, and here, and here, and here, and here.

But for myself and the many others who were trying so hard to make that argument during the campaign, our candidates lost that election, and for better or worse (or worser), the people of Missouri elected Eric Greitens as Governor. And as I've said before, elections have consequences... including having to deal with the results of such a serious question, taken far too lightly.

And so, with the election over, I prepared myself for what he might do in office, and I and so many others were unsurprised to hear how he was said to have made inappropriately belligerent comments to lawmakers in his office - after all, we'd listened to the details of his phone call with John Brunner during the primary campaign. How others didn't see how inappropriate he was to be governor, I don't know, but again, we lost, he won, and I was prepared for what might come.

But what I wasn't prepared for, was how lightly that election would be taken, by those elected officials who seemed to prefer having someone else in the governor's mansion, than who the people of Missouri had so recently put there themselves.

My State Representative, Kathie Conway, who I've met a few times, and like, together with five other elected officials, shocked me by coming out on the strength of what was at that time, nothing more than salacious charges being anonymously made by an unnamed ex-husband, on behalf of his unnamed ex-wife, who didn't even know that her secretly recorded 'charges' were being recorded, or that they were going to be made public, and yet within a few days of those nothings being made public, seemingly hitching a ride on the horrendous Roy Moore, #MeToo, fad, these lawmakers called for the Governor to resign.  Rep. Conway said:
“As a former criminal investigator for a prosecuting attorney, I have an idea of what could unfold in the coming weeks. There would be a long process that will be humiliating to everyone involved,” Conway said. “There would be no privacy that can be realistically offered when the governor of a state is under investigation. All the while, our state will continue to be embarrassed on the national stage.”
Publicly asking a governor to resign, over nothing more than utterly unsubstantiated charges. As I said at the time, "...Much as I dislike Eric Greitens... I will not ignore the fact that unsubstantiated accusations and rumors against him, like any other form of 'sources say', is not a valid basis for my desiring that the will of the entire electorate, be reversed..." And yet that was what was being pursued. Mind boggling. Why?

For many, the only answer needed was because, as many spasmodic haters of Greitens (think NeverTrumpr's and their cultish 'cult!' charges) daily trumpeted, he was baaad, and there were 'secret finances' involved, and 'dark money', and he's a weasel, etc. Well... if those were the reasons, why didn't they build a case for impeachment on sound evidence for those reasons first, before taking the first convenient excuse for trying to force him from office?

And say, for you 'Conservative!'s out there, who were once so opposed to the corrupt motives behind 'Campaign Finance Reform' (which is a legislative means of abusing our rights to political free speech), are you now for that? 'Oh heavens no, just enjoying some schadenfreude!'. IOW, even though something they think is wrong on principle, and is a corrupt and corrupting 'reform', it's totes fine to promote such charges against someone you really, really, really dislike, as long as it serves your other agenda.

Way to 'Principle!' you guys! Can't you just feel the respect and credibility building for you!!!

I don't know about you, but, having been given no good reasons to believe in what appear to be a series of convenient pretexts, a great many unworthy motives come quickly unbidden to the minds of people all across the state: Greitens was for "Right to Work", and Conway wasn't; Greitens was supposedly for some 'tax cuts', that many in the establishment were not; Greitens was for cutting out 'tax credits' that were very popular with many wealthy GOP supporters. And of course Greitens was supposedly opposed to 'Planned Parenthood', which many like to publicly oppose, but surreptitiously give passes to.

Is any of that true?

Who the hell knows?!

But what everyone can see is true, is that because our lawmakers didn't begin with solid charges to remove him from office, but instead sought to bums rush him out of town on the #MeToo bandwagon... and then when that failed to work they then began drumming up other charges, which months later facts were supposedly found to somewhat support, he's resigned, leaving absolutely not one single damn good reason for anyone to suspect that either my rep, or any of the others, sought his resignation for good grounds.

We might as well take a look at how that equation works out, because I guarandamntee you there are many in positions of power, or who want to be, that have been taken close notice of it:
"Unsubstantiated salacious charges + powerful unhappy politicians with axes to grind = demand for resignation.
*If this fails to produce immediate result, dig for more, more 'severe charges' will eventually pile up [Capt Jack Sparrow wink: "Politician"]).
If I'm a little off there, I've no doubt other more interested parties are fast at work on working the kinks out for the next time someone is elected that 'those who matter', dislike. For as my Rep later retweeted from ace-investigative reporter Ashley Zavala KRCG (@ZavalaA):
MO House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty on Governor's resignation:
"The brief and deeply troubled term of Eric Greitens is a case study for why Missouri's highest elected office is no place for beginners."
Yes indeedy, for all you schmo Missourians out there who haven't been blessed by either the media or the political establishment:
No Governor's Office for you!

And don't you forget it!
As one commenter on a thread noted:
"Kathie and any other Reps and Sens will have to just understand that right now the people who like you most are Democrats. The general conservative Republicans are just not buying it. That is just a fact."
Can't you just feel the 'Conservative!' brand building credibility with 'the folks'?!

I don't like the appearances of this, and I don't like the conclusions this makes it hard to avoid coming to, and I certainly don't like the way it makes my State Rep or a number of other 'good legislators' look, and I damn sure have not a damn bit of sympathy for Eric Greitens, but because they chose to follow what looked like the 'easy path' of charges that they thought would be hot with the public at that moment, and did so, so eagerly, and because no one bothered to wait to gather evidence first and then lead with fact based charges (aren't politicians supposed to be aware of appearances?!), there is no reason whatsoever for anyone to believe that any other motives than pure opportunism and shady hidden agendas were involved, and it doesn't take a subscription to the Psychic Hotline! to see how this is going to play out in the future (a future where 'it's over' is highly unlikely to last).

Or IOW, for all my fellow Missourians out there:
Show #MeToo!

/rant

Monday, May 28, 2018

Remembering Memorial Day

From my Memorial Day post seven years ago, that to properly memorialize those who've lost their lives in military service to our nation, we need to honor not only their lives lost, but also to honor what it was that they put their lives at such risk for:

American war dead, Flanders Field, Belgium
Memorial Day... it is enough to remember today those who have fallen in defence of our nation. But it's not all we can do, for them or for us, and to leave it there, I think, deprives them, and you, of an important part of what they died for. It seems to me that you can remember them even more completely if you will remember what it was that they gave their lives in defence of. If you remember why it was that their lives came to be remembered on this day, then you can in some sense repay them and also deepen your own position in your own life.

Do you remember what Memorial Day was designated for you to remember? It has changed over the years, but it began as 'Decoration Day', back in 1868, on May 30th, a day chosen because it didn't mark the anniversary of any battle - an important point - as a day to officially mark, what people had unofficially been doing across the land on their own for some while, decorating the many, many graves of those who had 'died in the late rebellion'. After WWI, when many more graves were dug, the day was changed to Memorial Day to remember all of those who have died in service of their country, in all of its wars.

But what does it mean to remember? What can it do? Remember... the members of our lives who were lost can never be re-membered... those who are gone are gone forever, but in the service of... what? Why did they give their lives? Why decorate the graves of soldiers, those who have gone before their time, lives which were violently lost... why? Family and friends will remember their fallen family and friends, they have no need of a national holiday to do that, there is no use for you who they do not know to pretend to remember those you never knew - but that is not what we pause this day to remember.

What did their untimely deaths have to do with your life here and now?

Does their death have any relevance to your life? Asking another question might put us closer to the trail, what relevance can your life have to your nation without remembering why they lost theirs?

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who gave their lives, the 'last full measure of devotion' in the service of the United States of America, but not just to their homeland - any country can do that, and they do - nothing exceptional there.

But we are an exceptional nation, and simple remembrance will not do, because simply defending their homeland is not what they did or why they did it.

Why did they do it? What did it mean?

Maybe it'll help by looking at it from the perspective of the Oath which led them into the military life which put their own lives at risk for yours,

"I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

That is what they risked and lost their lives for, was it worth it? Do you grant their lost lives a value in yours? And that is the heart of it isn't it? Does the life they lost have value in yours?

Well, if you can say the words "your life", as something you live, something which you value and have some measure of control over, then yes, their lives were lost in service of your being able to think of your life as yours, and that - that is something which should cause you a spasmed breath, one abruptly caught in your chest in reverence and awe... that another's last breath was let go as 'darkness veiled his eyes' not just so that you could draw your previous, current and next breath as you wish, but so you could do so in a state of liberty.

Now I think we're getting closer to re-membering them and memorializing their life, through yours. Let's chase that a little further.

What does it take to say 'your life'? What does it take to live your life? What must you do, absent simply having others take care of you, what must you do to live? First off, you must use your head, you must think... but just thinking isn't enough to continue living, after all, you could very well choose to think that by imagining very clearly and distinctly that your shoe would become a salmon if you declare it so, but such thinking would do nothing to advance your life. For your thinking to benefit your life, it must be productive, and to do that it must reflect reality... your life will continue on only if at least some of your ideas help you to transform the reality you face on a daily basis into those materials and conditions which benefit your life... food, shelter, etc, IOW 'nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed'.

For your life, to be lived, you must be free to think, for your thoughts to benefit your life you must see to it that they respect reality - cherish truth -  for your freedom of thought to be anything other than a mockery, you must be free to put them into action, and again, for your thoughts and your actions to be a benefit to you, rather than a mockery, you must be free to retain and use that which your thoughts and actions have produced, and what they produce is called property.

Today, for the lives we remember having been lost, to have meaning and value to us, your life must be able to be lived in the spirit which they gave their own lives up for, that of liberty; the liberty to live your life in the pursuit of happiness in your life.

Those we memorialize today gave their last full measure of devotion in service of the document which makes that possible, the Constitution of the United States of America, a document which outlines the ideas necessary for ensuring your ability to live your life, in liberty and pursuing happiness. They gave their life for the ideas which best reflect the reality of life and the requirements of man living in liberty so that in his life, if he applies his thoughts to actions which serve to produce the materials he needs, that will enable you to live your life and pursue the happiness you seek in life, secure in that property which you expend the actions of your life in producing.

The Constitution was designed to do just that. It was worth fighting and risking death for, because it was seen as the means to securing a life worth living for, for themselves, their families, and their posterity - you.

The Constitution, was designed with a profound understanding of human nature in mind, and was structured in such a way as to give voice to the major perspectives of life so that:
  • - the people at large, concerned in the issues of the moment, shall have a voice in the House of Representatives
  • - the states shall have a voice through those people who have lived successful will have a perspective favorable for preserving everyones property through their voice in the Senate
  • - these two perspectives shall be combined to use create legislation operating for the benefit of the people, within certain enumerated powers
  • - when both houses agree upon laws, the nation has a voice in the President as chief executive, to reject or sign legislation into law and see to it that the laws of the land are faithfully executed
  • - the law itself has a voice in the Judicial branch which is concerned that laws are applied justly to the people in whose name they were written
These branches are structured in such a way, utilizing the famous checks and balances, so as to have just enough interest in the other branches as to wish to see them function well, as well as to wish to preserve their own branches from becoming slighted and unbalanced.

The founders knew well that most states fall into ruin not under promises of harm but under promises to better the conditions of one group or another for the betterment of all. And so our system is designed to keep each branches desires to 'do good' in check, by the other branches benefit as well, and that none gains power over the others - each must see 'their point' of the other and work together, securing a state that enables you to live your life in pursuit of happiness.

But the people who ratified the constitution didn't think that the original document, which united government into balanced cooperation, was enough to secure the liberty and freedom of the governed, and so they insisted that it also specifically uphold and defend a few key rights, Rights which long experience as Englishmen... and then as Americans deprived of those rights, knew would be required to prevent a new tyrant from turning their government against their liberty 'for their own good'. They demanded the Constitution be amended to secure the peoples liberty to live their own lives, secure in their property and associations and activities which seemed to them to best hold the promise of pursuing happiness through, and that produced the Bill of Rights.

This foundation of government was and is an ordering of ideas, designed to enable each persons actions the liberty to act and secure their property without violating others rights in pursuit of the same, so that each person can have the incredible gift of being able to live their own lives as they see fit.

This is the Constitution which was, and still is, worth fighting for, and risking dying for, because it makes possible the kind of life worth living, lives in which each person might choose to pursue; and the idea of living in service to that, of making not only your own, but others lives livable... is a glorious pursuit, and those in the military who offered up their life in service of it... they are truly worth our pausing on at least one day a year, in solemn remembrance of the life they offered up to make your life a possibility.

Remember them, thank them, and with them in mind demand the liberty to live your life secured under, and securing, those laws which they gave up their life defending, do that, and you will truly be memorializing their lives and making their sacrifice worthwhile.

In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields, Moina Michael replied with her own poem for Memorial Day:
We cherish too, the Poppy red
 That grows on fields where valor led,
 It seems to signal to the skies
 That blood of heroes never dies.


In Flanders Fields John McCrae, 1915.
 In Flanders fields the poppies blow
 Between the crosses, row on row
 That mark our place; and in the sky
 The larks, still bravely singing, fly
 Scarce heard amid the guns below.
 We are the Dead. Short days ago
 We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
 Loved and were loved, and now we lie
 In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw
 The torch; be yours to hold it high.
 If ye break faith with us who die
 We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
 In Flanders fields.
And finally, H/T to Dana Loesch, a quote from General George S. Patton:
"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”
On Memorial Day, we should celebrate that such men lived, and that the nation they thought worth risking their lives for, still endures. This Memorial Day, celebrate what is worth remembering.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Kanye Tweets the world upside down - Good things in unexpected places

So. Kanye West. He's Tweeted the world upside down over the last few days, hasn't he? The reactions from talking heads have been as predictable, as his tweets were unpredictable, with,
  • The Left, recently hopeful that he'd run for POTUS in 2024, is upset that he's either stupid, drug addicted, or has gone insane,
  • The Right, quite naturally - on the basis of his tweeting track record of almost an entire week - wants to welcome him (which is not to say 'use him'... of course, perish the thought) as a 'Fellow Conservative!', as a 'Friend!', and maybe even as a Philosopher to 'rock the vote' with,
  • The Realists (AKA: Cynics in drag), are laughing at everyone because they just know that he's obviously just tweeting to play everyone for fools in order to get publicity for his upcoming album.
Me? I get to brush off all of those scenarios and simply enjoy his Tweets. Sorry folks, but I can thrill over a select few of Kanye's Tweets (reading many more tweets on 'free thinking' ...isn't for me), without having to imagine that I somehow know anything more about him than I do (or don't). But I can enjoy these Tweets even more, because of something more that I know about the thinking that underlies those tweets, which Kanye himself may or may not know. I'll explain in a moment.

And I'm also untroubled by the fact that I've never cared for Kanye West: not for his recordings (which are mysteriously categorized under 'Music'), or for the words he chants, or the family he married into. I deeply dislike his public thugy persona, and I know of no reasons whatsoever for me to think that he's either a 'Conservative' (whatever that may be), or even that he's now a friend to the Right.

Best of all: None of that matters!

Whatever his motives might be, Kanye West, beginning with just a few Tweets in support of Candace Owens, and Donald Trump, has exposed the rot and brittleness of The Left's facade, and in the responses which they couldn't help themselves from making, the Left has exposed deep fissures in their pro-regressive edifice, any one of which could bring their carefully crafted Politically Correct Culture crashing down around us.

How? Look at what he Tweeted.
One Tweet was that he likes the way Candace Owens thinks
Candace Owens is a young conservative woman who doesn't equate her black skin with a Democrat brand. She's a Director Of Communications with Turning Point USA, and her thinking has a talent for nailing truths to viral soundbites and memes, such as 'victim mentality vs victor mentality', and "I'm not 'Far Right', I'm Free".
Another Tweet was that he isn't going to be bullied into hating Donald Trump, and isn't going to submit to popular pressure to hate him. Boom.

I don't care what Kanye's personal politics are, or his motivations for tweeting these tweets, and I have no idea WTH Dragon Blood is supposed to mean, but I do know what the rest of that means, and what it implies, and I'm telling you that those tweets are parachuting bedrock nuggets of America's founding ideals, deep into pro-regressive held mindscapes where they have not been welcome, or even seen, for decades, and in the tweeting and retweeting, they are spreading the word of the fundamental requirements that are necessary for being an American. Period.

We can disagree upon everything else, but as long as the concepts behind those two tweets are encouraged to stand and be stood up for, that makes it possible for us to disagree upon everything else, and to do so reasonably, and peacefully. That alone is enough to panic the Pro-Regressive Left.

Twitterosopher?
Am I attributing too much to Kanye? Actually, I'm not attributing anything to Kanye, I'm simply pointing out what is contained in those characters he has been tweeting out into the Twitterverse, has been spreading like wildfire throughout all of social media, and that is a very good thing indeed.

So let's take a closer look at those tweets, there are two concepts that underlie the tweets above, which are what have been getting the most attention, and whether Kanye knows it or not,they are re-animating those lost 'harmonizing sentiments' of Jefferson's that I've been posting upon recently, that America is being divided by what once united us - the concepts behind the 1st & 2nd Amendments to our constitution - because of those ideas that we've nearly lost. Kanye West's Tweets, perhaps unknowingly, call to mind those individual rights that are protected by the 1st Amendment - the right to worship, speak and publish, freely, and in his insistence on standing his ground and asserting his right to do so no matter who opposes him, he is affirming the right to defend his exercising of those rights - and that is what is secured by the 2nd Amendment.

None of the rights which our first two amendments secure for us, can stand without the other. The 1st Amendment can't stand without the 2nd, while the 2nd can never have any worthwhile meaning, without the 1st - the one is necessary for the other to become possible. The Pro-Regressive Left is so furious, because his tweets directly threaten to obliterate the regimented GroupThink they've been working so hard to establish for over a century, over the minds of those beholden to them, and his Tweets have exposed visible fractures in that structure. Or, as Kanye tweeted yesterday:
"We have freedom of speech but not freedom of thought."
and any attempt to remedy that, is War... or at least MemeWar.

From TWEETS!

As bad as it seems... it's not as bad as it seems
Earlier this week, I was trying to cheer up a very well informed friend of mine, one who's extensive knowledge of how dark these times of ours truly are, occasionally misleads himself into despairing that nothing more than badness can be possible for our, or our children's futures.

Simply telling him to 'Cheer up!' wasn't really an option, so I attempted to cheer him up by doubling down on his gloomy outlook. First I pointed out how our Rule of Law hadn't died in the last few years, as he'd fretted, but that it was actually removed from life support and left to die no later than the 1930's, and was soon replaced by the propagandized popular moods and opinions of the Rule of 'SeemsOk'. Then I pointed out that people didn't just begin to suck in the last decade, but that we've been getting progressively suckier and suckier, ever since our Educational System was also removed from life support and left to die, no later than the 1920's, and so that the propagandizing of what is permitted as 'SeemsOk', has been getting Progressively worse every year, from then, to now. And of course, it wasn't Barack Obama who corrupted our system in the last decade, but that, on the presidential level at least (the least important level, BTW), it was Bill Clinton who had gotten the process going in earnest, back in the 90's, slickly tapping into the amoral, immoral and anti-American ideas that his generation had been taught to accept as 'SeemsOk'. Bill & Hillary also did quite a bit to ensure that those lessons would continue to be intensified in the schools, and he began seriously injecting that rot of pro-regressive corruption deep into the FBI, and all of the layers of our federal bureaucracy, long before Obama came along. And of course as this has been a bi-partisan effort all along, we saw Bush 43 doubling down on Clinton's educational rot, ensuring another decade of ever darker corruptions of what 'SeemsOk', into yet another generation of voters.

Sure, Obama inflicted a massive amount of damage upon us, but only because he was able to exploit what had been so well prepared for him by his predecessors. And Americans, what with having had no child left behind from being educated into ignorance of what America is and means, and content with what now 'SeemsOk', they've been very much on board with our growing state of tyranny - as long as it 'SeemsOk' - for quite some time now.

IOW, things are not only as bad as they seem, they're worse - but that's not as bad as it might seem.

Yes, you're forgiven for not noticing how I thought that might cheer either you or my friend up, but the cheerful point that I was building up to, is that as bad as things not only seem, but truly are, Evil is but a weak, frail edifice of brittle rot, and for all its fierce appearances, it is prone to sudden collapse at the first honest questioning of it. And that fragility increases the more powerful it becomes. To take evil seriously, is to credit it with something it will never have - credibility.

It is we who are deluding ourselves (perhaps with just a touch of the 'sin of pride'?), when we succumb to the hubris of thinking that we can possibly even be aware of everything that matters to how our future will turn out - that's the very same thinking behind the socialists delusional beliefs that they can order a nation's economy in five year plans - there is always more going on, than we do or can know about, and we've no possible way of knowing for certain how those unknowns might contribute to how things will eventually turn out (which, BTW, is an understanding which is at the root of what powers the prosperity of the Free Market).

The fact remains, that for all of the lies of those in power, no matter how intricate, or how palpably strong and threatening they might be, they can be struck down in an instant (think the USSR coming down with the Berlin Wall), through the nudge of just a few honest questions, and a person's willingness to stand up and ask them. Sure, you might my example of the USSR falling, with Tienanmen Square and China still standing, but that also makes my point: We have no way of knowing what will actually happen, so all we can do is what we know that we should do, and have something akin to faith that that will be enough, and as it should be. Yet the fact still remains, that one imperfect voice expressing the truth (think Alexander Solzhenitsyn), that resonates, can set veritable wildfires to burning away even the densest of ideologies. No matter how bad it looks, and may actually be, even the darkest regime's power is never less than one truth away from complete disintegration, collapse, and extinction.

Put more simply: The Lie cannot withstand the Truth, and if only people will dare to look upon both, then the Lie will crumble like a vampire in sunlight.

My friend wasn't buying any of this of course, he was in the mood to be depressed - :-) - but that doesn't change the truth of the matter one whit.

And so while I was busy failing to cheer up my friend, almost on cue, here came Kanye West, with Twitter in hand to part the gloom. No matter his thinking or purposes, he has not only exercised his freedom of speech, but has insisted upon standing firm in his right to do so, and that my friends, is Kryptonite to The Left. Everything they've built up in the popular mind, has been wounded - by TWEETS - to the point that they're experiencing something akin to an arterial bleed in their Media Jugular vein.

Again, just let that sink in. Tweets have them in a frenzied all-hands-on-deck panic!

Are you beginning to get the picture? You see, there is NO downside to Kanye's Tweets. He's speaking his mind, and cluing others in to how unhinged the Left becomes when anyone, anyone, strays from what they want to permit you to think and do.

Sure, that's not to say that The Right won't say or do something that snatches defeat from the jaws of victory, as is their want to do, but as far was what Kanye Tweeted... it's all good.

And I'm lovin' it!