Thursday, October 29, 2009

A sincere message to Reboot Congress and Term Limit supporters - THINK!

I just got an email from someone I very much respect, and while I understand the sentiment of the message, I very much disagree with it. In part it says,

"In November of 2010 the entire House of Representatives will stand for re-election; all 435 of them. One third of the Senate, a total of 33 of them, will also stand for re-election. Vote every incumbent out. And I mean every one of them. No matter their Party affiliation. ... Two years later, in 2012, vote the next third of the incumbents in the Senate out. We can do the same thing in 2014 ...I am also suggesting term limits ..."


You can check back through my previous two plus years of posts to see how rarely I've ever cursed, do that, in order to get a gauge how emphatic I am being in the following message to the Term Limit and 'Vote them Out' 'Reboot Congress' movements... with one slight qualifier, that many of those who favor these actions, I deeply care for and respect, in person and online.

Ahem - warning blue language below...

Ok, here we go....

Take fucking responsibility for your own god damned civil and moral responsibility as Free men and women, as citizens of America, to know who your candidates are, what their positions and records are, and then VOTE! Learn for yourself whether a candidate is worth a god damn or not! If he is, strengthen him! If Not, WORK to vote him the hell out!


Do you know who will benefit? Do you know who will be in power when all the 'don't know jack shit' new politico's come to town?











Ok, done. Sorry. Unfair in the extreme, I know, but... a man's got to rant what a man's got to rant.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Best of Times, or the Worst of Times?

Gambling on the outcomes
I was forwarded a very interesting article (a newsletter by John Mauldin, that is worth getting, here's the preview link) on the prospects for our economy, which sees some coming economic hardship and impending gloom, but is essentially optimistic for the coming years... and if the actions of the FED and businesses in the marketplace were the critical ones affecting the health of our economy, I'd agree with his optimism.

But, IMHO, they are not. Personally, I don't think the future of the financial markets lies with the financial markets.

I've no doubt that they would eventually recover and adjust... if they are not held back. But I think Mauldin would do better to look outside the financial, Internet and manufacturing sphere's, if he wants to see their future - because they don't control it. What does control them, what can hold them back, is the government enacting controls over what they can and cannot do, and the chances of their best intentions not holding the markets back, is, I think, nil.

I watched the epitome of a little bureaucratic nullity on CSPAN this morning (the passage begins at 18:10-18:55), talking about interfering in the Internet through the Orwellian 'Net Neutrality' issue. Dem member of the FCC, Michael Copps, gave a 'don't worry, we're in control' speech that begins by noting that the Internet has enormous power, and has developed and spread to the unimaginable degree it has, without controls... but that growth has been only an 'infancy', and that infancy must now be guided, it's openness must now be 'controlled', so that it will remain open.

Logic check anyone?

Throughout his grey little monotonous-olog, he repeatedly utters the word 'transparency' like a bad case of the hiccups... and I've no doubt he means the same 'transparency' which candidate Obama spoke about promising to provide in the development of automotive, financial and healthcare policy - none whatsoever.

His telling phrase, the sum of all D.C. pontifications, is this one, "History tells us that when technological capabilities to exercise control, combined with the financial incentive to do so, some will try to turn this power and this opportunity to do so, to their own advantage. That doesn't mean I expect this to become normal business practice, but even if it is only a few who try, the risk to our interconnected and interdependent Internet, is too great to take. I'm not into riverboat gambles that everything will be fine, if we just look the other way."

In other words, the integrated system of financial incentives of providers and consumers to deliver services and satisfaction such that it results in profits, which built the Internet into the scope which no 'expert', private or public, foresaw even 10 years ago... is now seen in this 'transformative age' as fraught with would be tyrants - in the business world. Methinks if you dared play the roulette wheels on his riverboat, you'd best look under the table to be sure there were no levers running from them to where he is standing... but if you could look under his table, I don't think you'd find the view to be transparent at all.

Government bureaucrats, who invariably see themselves as fully knowledgeable and capable of creating rules and regulations to 'guide' the growth of what they don't understand, in this case the Internet, and despite the fact that it is government whose core focus and reason for being, is power, rather than profit, IT, Govt, being in control of the enormous power of the Internet, with its ability to affect and control hundreds of millions of lives, lifestyles, ideas and business, that power can be trusted to the Govt to NOT be tempted to turn that enormous power, in its control, to its, and its supporters and friends, advantage.

That is a bit of thinking without any hope of explanation, justification or even a shred of decency. Did Copps miss the Twentieth Century? Lenin? Mussolini? Hitler? Stalin? FDR? Castro? Mao? What history tells us, is that when technological capabilities can be used to control a people, it will be government that will step up and seize that power, if it is not prevented from doing so, by its own people. Unfortunately, the only point in time where the people have that possibility of checking their government, is during it's initial growth, where the people are so enamored of governments promises of aid and benefits, they ignore what will obviously result.

That is the mindset that is now intent on taking control of the Internet, the auto industry, the financial industry and the medical care industry - and any corner of any industry not affected by those, will surely be overwhelmed by Cap and Trade and other Glowbull Warming regulations and taxes.

There are very few serious historians and economists, who don't acknowledge that FDR's New Deal policies (A relatively kind critique from UCLA is here, or a more realistic and comprehensive look can be found in FDR's folly) extended a sizable recession of likely 1 to 2 years duration, into the 12 year Great Depression.

FDR too had pay czars, and too-big-to-fail justifications for interfering in every aspect of the economy, in order to prevent business from suddenly doing what it has little or no incentive to do, by instead giving total power to govt bureaucrats and politicians in the hopes that they won't do what they have every incentive, including ignorance, to do - abuse their power.

The housing industry, financial industry, manufacturing industry, Internet, etc, I have no long term fears for... if they are allowed to operate as they see fit - keeping in mind their core focus is the growth of their products and profit.

The govt, whose core focus is control, power and dispensing of favors, if it is allowed continued control, or even further powers, over our industries, will continue to pursue its interests - gaining more control, power and dispensing of favors - and to the extent it is successful in doing so 'to benefit the public', our liberty, prosperity and financial forecast will be bleak, with ever more crippling effects and extending the duration of those effects.

Just like the 1930's... but probably worse. Btw, do you know how FDR succeeded in controlling aspects of Americans lives that the constitution was NEVER intended to even enter, let alone control? By the proregressives favorite passage, the interstate commerce clause.

Know how they're intending to mandate, compel, force, you to sign up for Govt healthcontrol? Yep, interstate commerce clause... but only after laughing at your daring to think that the constitution would in anyway hinder their using their power to do whateverthehell they felt like doing... such as Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of The United States of America, when asked by a reporter

“Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?”
Speaker of the House of Representatives Pelosi answered “Are you serious? Are you serious?”When the CNSNews reporter replied “Yes, yes I am.”, Pelosi only shook her head before taking a question from another reporter.

Her office later replied to a follow up email, with a reference to a press release entitled, “Health Insurance Reform, Daily Mythbuster: ‘Constitutionality of Health Insurance Reform.’” which states that Congress has “broad power to regulate activities that have an effect on interstate commerce. Congress has used this authority to regulate many aspects of American life, from labor relations to education to health care to agricultural production.”

Steny Hoyer, majority leader of the House of non-Representatives hinted on just what power he thought he didn't have, when asked the same question, answered with reference to the proregressives other favorite interpretation of open candy store clause, the General Welfare clause,

"House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that the individual health insurance mandates included in every health reform bill, which require Americans to have insurance, were “like paying taxes.” He added that Congress has “broad authority” to force Americans to purchase other things as well, so long as it was trying to promote “the general welfare.”

Here are the Founders understanding, key documents that informed their understanding, and early relevant Supreme Court commentaries on the Interstate commerce clause, Article I, Section 8, Clauses One (General Welfare),

"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;"

and Three ,

"To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;"

pay special attention to James Madison to Professor Davis, and Joseph Stories commentary), and the General welfare clause, or Madison's recounting of the writing of the section during the Constitutional Convention,

"...That the terms in question were not suspected in the Convention which formed the Constitution of any such meaning as has been constructively applied to them, may be pronounced with entire confidence; for it exceeds the possibility of belief, that the known advocates in the Convention for a jealous grant and cautious definition of Federal powers should have silently permitted the introduction of words or phrases in a sense rendering fruitless the restrictions and definitions elaborated by them.

Consider for a moment the immeasurable difference between the Constitution limited in its powers to the enumerated objects, and expounded as it would be by the import claimed for the phraseology in question. The difference is equivalent to two Constitutions, of characters essentially contrasted with each other--the one possessing powers confined to certain specified cases, the other extended to all cases whatsoever; for what is the case that would not be embraced by a general power to raise money, a power to provide for the general welfare, and a power to pass all laws necessary and proper to carry these powers into execution; all such provisions and laws superseding, at the same time, all local laws and constitutions at variance with them? Can less be said, with the evidence before us furnished by the journal of the Convention itself, than that it is impossible that such a Constitution as the latter would have been recommended to the States by all the members of that body whose names were subscribed to the instrument?

Passing from this view of the sense in which the terms common defence and general welfare were used by the framers of the Constitution, let us look for that in which they must have been understood by the Convention, or, rather, by the people, who, through their Conventions, accepted and ratified it. And here the evidence is, if possible, still more irresistible, that the terms could not have been regarded as giving a scope to Federal legislation infinitely more objectionable than any of the specified powers which produced such strenuous opposition, and calls for amendments which might be safeguards against the dangers apprehended from them...."

See if you can spin those original meanings, into their modern meaning. Betcha Kant.

The greatest observer of American mind and practices, was de Tocqueville, his observations are such that they can, and are, often used by democrat, republican & (classical) liberal, but generally speaking, if you read a quote from him that sounds optimistic, it was probably taken out of context. In this, from Democracy in America Pt 1, he makes an observation about the American tendency to manage problems they face, one mode stems from the ground up (Tempting to mention 'Tea Parties'), the other from the top down Statist mode,

"...The partisans of centralization in Europe are wont to maintain that the Government directs the affairs of each locality better than the citizens could do it for themselves; this may be true when the central power is enlightened, and when the local districts are ignorant; when it is as alert as they are slow; when it is accustomed to act, and they to obey. Indeed, it is evident that this double tendency must augment with the increase of centralization, and that the readiness of the one and the incapacity of the others must become more and more prominent. But I deny that such is the case when the people is as enlightened, as awake to its interests, and as accustomed to reflect on them, as the Americans are. I am persuaded, on the contrary, that in this case the collective strength of the citizens will always conduce more efficaciously to the public welfare than the authority of the Government. It is difficult to point out with certainty the means of arousing a sleeping population, and of giving it passions and knowledge which it does not possess; it is, I am well aware, an arduous task to persuade men to busy themselves about their own affairs; and it would frequently be easier to interest them in the punctilios of court etiquette than in the repairs of their common dwelling. But whenever a central administration affects to supersede the persons most interested, I am inclined to suppose that it is either misled or desirous to mislead. However enlightened and however skilful a central power may be, it cannot of itself embrace all the details of the existence of a great nation. Such vigilance exceeds the powers of man. And when it attempts to create and set in motion so many complicated springs, it must submit to a very imperfect result, or consume itself in bootless efforts...."

de Tocqueville did such a good job observing not only the America of his time, but the nature of it, what it required and meant,

"It is not, then, merely to satisfy a legitimate curiosity that I have examined America; my wish has been to find instruction by which we may ourselves profit. Whoever should imagine that I have intended to write a panegyric will perceive that such was not my design; nor has it been my object to advocate any form of government in particular, for I am of opinion that absolute excellence is rarely to be found in any legislation; I have not even affected to discuss whether the social revolution, which I believe to be irresistible, is advantageous or prejudicial to mankind; I have acknowledged this revolution as a fact already accomplished or on the eve of its accomplishment; and I have selected the nation, from amongst those which have undergone it, in which its development has been the most peaceful and the most complete, in order to discern its natural consequences, and, if it be possible, to distinguish the means by which it may be rendered profitable. I confess that in America I saw more than America; I sought the image of democracy itself, with its inclinations, its character, its prejudices, and its passions, in order to learn what we have to fear or to hope from its progress. "

"If America ceases to be good..."
There's a quote that's attributed to de Tocqueville, "America is great because she is good. If America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.", which I was surprised to find he didn't actually say. It doesn't appear in Democracy in America, or in his letters - I could swear I'd read it as well. But while those words don't appear, it is interesting that the gist of it does, between, from his letters

"According to continental notions, a nation which cannot raise as many troops as its wants require, loses our respect. It ceases, according to our notions, to be great or even to be patriotic. "

And from Democracy in America,

"It is no doubt of importance to the welfare of nations that they should be governed by men of talents and virtue; but it is perhaps still more important that the interests of those men should not differ from the interests of the community at large; for, if such were the case, virtues of a high order might become useless, and talents might be turned to a bad account. "

together with this observation (which also calls up an earlier discussion here about Authority) from Chapter XIV, in the section on 'Notion Of Rights In The United States',

"No great people without a notion of rights-... After the idea of virtue, I know no higher principle than that of right; or, to speak more accurately, these two ideas are commingled in one. The idea of right is simply that of virtue introduced into the political world. It is the idea of right which enabled men to define anarchy and tyranny; and which taught them to remain independent without arrogance, as well as to obey without servility. The man who submits to violence is debased by his compliance; but when he obeys the mandate of one who possesses that right of authority which he acknowledges in a fellow-creature, he rises in some measure above the person who delivers the command. There are no great men without virtue, and there are no great nations—it may almost be added that there would be no society—without the notion of rights; for what is the condition of a mass of rational and intelligent beings who are only united together by the bond of force?

...The same thing occurs in the political world. In America the lowest classes have conceived a very high notion of political rights, because they exercise those rights; and they refrain from attacking those of other people, in order to ensure their own from attack. Whilst in Europe the same classes sometimes recalcitrate even against the supreme power, the American submits without a murmur to the authority of the pettiest magistrate. "

, which boils down to that quote - in short, if he didn't say it, he should have!
And again, he was also impressed by our ability to "Tea Party", to spontaneously form associations amongst ourselves in order to resolve a situation, he noted that,

"In no country in the world has the principle of association been more successfully used, or more unsparingly applied to a multitude of different objects, than in America. Besides the permanent associations which are established by law under the names of townships, cities, and counties, a vast number of others are formed and maintained by the agency of private individuals.

The citizen of the United States is taught from his earliest infancy to rely upon his own exertions in order to resist the evils and the difficulties of life; he looks upon social authority with an eye of mistrust and anxiety, and he only claims its assistance when he is quite unable to shift without it. This habit may even be traced in the schools of the rising generation, where the children in their games are wont to submit to rules which they have themselves established, and to punish misdemeanors which they have themselves defined. The same spirit pervades every act of social life. If a stoppage occurs in a thoroughfare, and the circulation of the public is hindered, the neighbors immediately constitute a deliberative body; and this extemporaneous assembly gives rise to an executive power which remedies the inconvenience before anybody has thought of recurring to an authority superior to that of the persons immediately concerned. If the public pleasures are concerned, an association is formed to provide for the splendor and the regularity of the entertainment. Societies are formed to resist enemies which are exclusively of a moral nature, and to diminish the vice of intemperance: in the United States associations are established to promote public order, commerce, industry, morality, and religion; for there is no end which the human will, seconded by the collective exertions of individuals, despairs of attaining."

A Founding Father Speaks To Us Still
All of which is the exposition of the summing phrase that been attributed to him,
"America is great because she is good. If America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.",
and the heart of which, long before de Tocqueville made his observations, John Adams explained why it was so, and how it would become so. A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America. In this he examines the following line,

“The people never think of usurping over other men’s rights.”

What can this mean? Does it mean that the people never unanimously think of usurping over other men’s rights? This would be trifling; for there would, by the supposition, be no other men’s rights to usurp. But if the people never, jointly nor severally, think of usurping the rights of others, what occasion can there be for any government at all? Are there no robberies, burglaries, murders, adulteries, thefts, nor cheats? Is not every crime a usurpation over other men’s rights? Is not a great part, I will not say the greatest part, of men detected every day in some disposition or other, stronger or weaker, more or less, to usurp over other men’s rights? There are some few, indeed, whose whole lives and conversations show that, in every thought, word, and action, they conscientiously respect the rights of others. There is a larger body still, who, in the general tenor of their thoughts and actions, discover similar principles and feelings, yet frequently err. If we should extend our candor so far as to own, that the majority of men are generally under the dominion of benevolence and good intentions, yet, it must be confessed, that a vast majority frequently transgress; and, what is more directly to the point, not only a majority, but almost all, confine their benevolence to their families, relations, personal friends, parish, village, city, county, province, and that very few, indeed, extend it impartially to the whole community. Now, grant but this truth, and the question is decided. If a majority are capable of preferring their own private interest, or that of their families, counties, and party, to that of the nation collectively, some provision must be made in the constitution, in favor of justice, to compel all to respect the common right, the public good, the universal law, in preference to all private and partial considerations.

The proposition of our author, then, should be reversed, and it should have been said, that they mind so much their own, that they never think enough of others. Suppose a nation, rich and poor, high and low, ten millions in number, all assembled together; not more than one or two millions will have lands, houses, or any personal property; if we take into the account the women and children, or even if we leave them out of the question, a great majority of every nation is wholly destitute of property, except a small quantity of clothes, and a few trifles of other movables. Would Mr. Nedham be responsible that, if all were to be decided by a vote of the majority, the eight or nine millions who have no property, would not think of usurping over the rights of the one or two millions who have? Property is surely a right of mankind as really as liberty. Perhaps, at first, prejudice, habit, shame or fear, principle or religion, would restrain the poor from attacking the rich, and the idle from usurping on the industrious; but the time would not be long before courage and enterprise would come, and pretexts be invented by degrees, to countenance the majority in dividing all the property among them, or at least, in sharing it equally with its present possessors. Debts would be abolished first; taxes laid heavy on the rich, and not at all on the others; and at last a downright equal division of every thing be demanded, and voted. What would be the consequence of this? The idle, the vicious, the intemperate, would rush into the utmost extravagance of debauchery, sell and spend all their share, and then demand a new division of those who purchased from them. The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If “Thou shalt not covet,” and “Thou shalt not steal,” were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.

If the first part of the proposition, namely, that “the people never think of usurping over other men’s rights,” cannot be admitted, is the second, namely, “they mind which way to preserve their own,” better founded?"

And the answer is no, it cannot. All of our Rights, rest upon our Right to our Property, it is the foundation of all of our political rights, and it is a very great mistake to consider it as being a ‘economic right’.

Just as the current assault of government healthcontrol has nothing whatsoever to do with Healthcare, but with the enabling of government to control more of our lives, it is being done so in precisely the manner that control of the internet is being taken, and in which Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution have been misused - they operate solely on the basis of obfuscating, infringing upon and downright destroying your Right to hold and dispense of your Property as you see fit - none of the Statists plans can be accomplished without that, and even more fundamentally, it denies your right to make the choices you deem necessary and desirable for, and in, your own life.

The internet has grown and spread at the phenomenal rate it has, precisely because it has been free of government regulation and control. The range of opinion and content available on the internet already includes every conceivable viewpoint, and more still, and it is in no need of government aid or assistance.

The same can be said of America itself. Freedom will not be aided by weighing it down with government controls, regulations or any other forms of 'assistance'. As Calvin Coolidge said,

“…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….”

Such ideas are not of progress, but of regress, from freedom and down to tyranny. Despite the silliness of statists such as Copps, this is not a gamble at all, it is a case of the house doing its best to fix the tables in favor of the House.

It must not be allowed to stand. Please, in one of the very few worthwhile French phrases: "Laissez-faire", leave us alone!

Talk to your neighbors; interrupt comments and jokes that support trading liberties for goodies. Contact your Senators and Representatives. Make yourself heard, and assure them you will do the same come 2010.

Monday, October 19, 2009

White House: Conservative Ideas are Untermensch -Updated

White House Urges Other Networks to Disregard Fox News

I suspect that whether or not this little cartoon of mine is seen as being over the top, depends upon whether you are looking at this now... or at some point of time in the future. I'll be thrilled if 10 years from now, this is snickered and laughed at.

But in the near future, there's a Net Neutrality vote coming up this Thursday... there are more Healthcontrol votes coming very soon after... there are FCC diversity in broadcasting 'guidelines' in the works by Mark Lloyd, Cap and Trade taxation plans and other Global Warming initiatives... all of these are MAJOR issues, with huge implications, and threats, to our Individual Rights, our Liberty, and Freedom.

Such issues require, and demand, a free, unrestrained debate. When the government publicly announces, as a matter of policy, that you and your ideas, 'the opposition', are less worthy than those whom they favor... a line is in the process of being crossed.

Whether or not they are able to cross that line, and if so, how far they are allowed to cross over that line, or whether they are pushed back to the right side of the line - or whether they step right over it and never look back - depends upon the reaction of the public, We The People. Let's hope that this becomes the norm as far as reactions and characterizations of such comments by those in power, "Obama's dumb war with Fox News"... we'll see.

Just keep in mind, that telling each other that "Oh, don't worry, they don't really mean anything by it... they won't really hurt anybody..." has a poor track record of working out well. Add to that, a government drive to act on progressivist faux scientific agenda's... and we should all have a queasy feeling in our stomachs.

There were others who were proud to think of themselves as being members of a forward thinking democracy, until suddenly It Was Too Late,

"What no one seemed to notice," said a colleague of mine, a philologist, "was the ever widening gap, after [THE YEAR DOESN'T MATTER], between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in [THE NAME OF THE COUNTRY DOESN'T MATTER]. And it became always wider. You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing, to do with knowing one is governing.

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with [THE LEADERS NAME DOESN'T MATTER], their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it."

..."The dictatorship, and the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting. It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway. I do not speak of your ‘little men,’ your baker and so on; I speak of my colleagues and myself, learned men, mind you. Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things and never had. There was no need to. [THE NAME OF THE PARTY DOESN'T MATTER]. gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about—we were decent people—and kept us so busy with continuous changes and ‘crises’ and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the ‘national enemies,’ without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. Unconsciously, I suppose, we were grateful. Who wants to think?

"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic [THE NAME OF THE NATION DOESN'T MATTER]’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

"How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things might have. And everyone counts on that might.

(Read the full excerpt from "They Thought They Were Free", The Germans, 1933-45 by Milton Mayer - remember, history doesn't repeat, it rhymes... repeatedly)

The IDEAS matter, the methods they use to implement them matter, the way they deal with their critics matters, the respect they show the Rights and Property Rights of Individuals matters, the willingness to 'allow' or override your ability to make your own choices for your own life, MATTERS.

And more than all of that, the way you respond at the first sign of trouble matters.

Have you responded to your elected officials? Have you responded at all?

In a comment I made at the Gunslinger's, I said I'm not hurling the nazi charge at the left, but I am pointing out that the tactics are very much similar, and that the lesson needs to be learned... not that anyone today are the equivalent of the nazi's, but that the tactics of a party urgently pushing hurried crisis legislation, incrementally assuming more powers to the govt to handle more and more decisions in business and culture that would not normally be allowed to govt, or would be acceptable if it did, are very similar.

We need to swat away the 'you're saying they're nazi's!' comments and begin noticing that the tactics are common to any govt moving towards tyranny, and they are not at all confined to 1930's Germany.

Our Constitution and Bill of Rights didn't enshrine free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association, sanctity of contract, takings clause, gun rights, etc, because they were the most important and valuable of our individual rights, but because those were the most politically important rights, which if kept secure, would prevent a tyrant from successfully taking power and extinguishing all of our rights. With bailouts, business takeovers, proposed net neutrality acts, defacto 'fairness doctrine' measures, and targeting of an unapproved press... that is arguably the road being paved for us to walk down... will we go down it?

There was no Tea Party movement in Germany, and that may make all the difference for us... may....

Well there was a hopeful occurance yesterday, when the network bureau chiefs of the Washington D.C. halted the Obama administrations attempt to exclude Fox news from an interview with its pay czar.
Obama White House Rebuffed, As Other Networks Stand Up for 1st Amendment, Fox News "The White House said Feinberg would give interviews to members of the White House TV pool – with the exception of Fox News. The other members of the cost-sharing pool – CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS -- objected."

And that is good news... but noting the fact that that is in itself NEWS... where else but Fox, CNSNews... and a few blogs... do you see it? Not at the New York Times... not at CNN... not at MSNBC... not at ABC News... this wasn't a "This is Wrong!" moment, but more of a "Oh... we can't get away with That" moment.

"May" is still very much the operative word.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Louis L'Amour: Laconic Law - From Cicero to Blackstone to You

During vacation last week I made a point of trying to 'keep it light'.

I'd just finished Cicero's works 'The Republic' (treatise on the Commonwealth) and 'Laws', and Seneca's 'On the shortness of life/Life is long if you know how to use it', and for the first time in many a moon, I was looking to read something that didn't have a weighty nature. Boethius's 'Consolation of Philosophy' kept tugging at me through my PocketPC, so when we were going through a store, I looked for some light reading, and picked up Louis L'Amour's "Sackett", it has been decades since I've read a Western, and thought that'd be nice, safe, harmless shoot 'em up fun.

Louis L'amour fans are probably chuckling right about now.

While Sackett mostly sticks with a 'simple' action story of Good vs Bad, the laconic hero, William Tell Sackett, in between brushes with bad guys, picks up a book at his brother's house and draws meaning and order from it, into his life. Tell, while not a strong reader, is drawn to this particular book, and a favorite of mine, Blackstone's commentaries on the Law. He thumbs the pages and locks in on a passage that is part of,

"...And this is what we mean by the original contract of society; which, though perhaps in no instance it has ever been formally expressed at the first institution of a state, yet in nature and reason must always be understood and implied, in the very act of associating together: namely, that the whole should protect all its parts, and that every part should pay obedience to the will of the whole, or, in other words, that the community should guard the rights of each individual member, and that (in return for this protection) each individual should submit to the laws of the community; without which submission of all it was impossible that protection should be certainly extended to any...."

Tell says to himself,

"It took me a spell, working that out in my mind, to get the sense of it. Yet somehow it stayed with me, and in the days to come I thought it over a good bit."

, and this short action Western, is the 'simple' working out of that passage into everyday life by a man facing the option of living outside of, or within, the Law - and discovering where The Law truly lives. He comes into conflict with the women of his dreams who is repelled by his shooting of two men he knew to be villains intending to kill him, and in response to her angry "Do you believe in killing people?", he responds,

"No, ma'am, not as a practice. Trouble is, if a body gets trouble out here he can't call the sheriff... there isn't any sheriff. He can't have his case judged by the law, because there aren't any judges. He can't appeal to anybody or anything except his own sense of what's just and right.
There's folks around believe they can do anything they're big enough to do, no matter how it tromples on other folks' rights. That I don't favor."

That I don't favor. I'll second that. He continues,

"Some people you can arbitrate with... you can reason a thing out and settle it fair and square. There's others will understand nothing but force."

She responds "You have no authority for such actions!" and Tell replies,

"Yes, ma'am , I do. The ideas I have are principles that men have had for many a year. I've been reading about that. When a man enters into society - that's living with other folks - he agrees to abide by the rules of that society, and when he crosses those rules he becomes liable to judgment, and if he continues to cross them, then he becomes an outlaw.
In wild country like this a man has no appeal but to that consideration, and when he fights against force and brutality, he must use the weapons he has."

I had to laugh. I ran from Cicero and Seneca and into Louis L'amour and right smack dab into taking their high falluting ideas and bringing them down to how they work out in the real world... and if any of you think that "In wild country like this..." applies any more to the lawless western wilderness, than to modern America in which laws are seen to be flexible and of no fixed meaning... I'll put it to you that you are very much mistaken. L'amour, through his character of William Tell Sackett, shows clearly how the Law exists, not in books, codes and regulations, but in people's understanding of what is right and what is wrong, and refusing to stand by as other's seek to use their power, their ability to do what they want "no matter how it tromples on other folks' rights."

And I tell you too, that I don't favor.

Let me see if I can distill Tell Sackett's laconic understanding of Blackstone's Law (which, btw, was central to our Founding Father's concept of Law), a little further, because I think we desperately need to let loose of our high fallutin' words and terms - they are doing far more to shield from our eyes what they mean, than revealing their meaning to us.

Choices, Zombies and Westerns
There is... a bit too much of a fixation on names and terms today for my taste. 'Capitalism', 'Socialism', 'Fascism', 'Statism'....add to it that the names and terms have so many alternate or even competing definitions, that little or no actual meaning is any longer being conveyed through them. More to the point, and to each of our concerns, is what each of these names and terms seek to accomplish in the end, and it is central to what L'amour's 'simple' Western tale deliberates upon - Choices.

People's simple, day to day, situational, moment to moment, choices. And what someone does in seeking to compel another to act as They see fit, is that they are substituting your ability to make a choice, with the choice that they have pre-selected for you.

Your life is made, formed, deformed, reformed - for better or for worse - through an unending succession of choices which you make. Choices are that point where You lean out from the confines of your skin, and intersect with reality, by making a choice to act in one way or another. As govt power grows bigger and stronger, able to remove more and more actions from your ability to choose them (whether for, against or other doesn't matter), there is less of You in your life.

The more choices that are made for you, or removed from your ability to make any choice at all - the less Life you have to actually Live. The more choices you have available to you, which we call Liberty, the more You are involved in living your life. The more choices that are removed or restricted from you, or made by someone else for you, which we call Tyranny, the less you are present and living in your own life.

If You aren't actively living your own life... who is? Is that life that is lived according to the disembodied, predetermined choices selected by distant legislators and functionaries... Life?

Zombies and Westerns are far less fictional than we like to think.

Intelligence or Stupidity, Life or Death - your Choice to make
Also, consider something probably witnessed first hand by most of us - who hasn't seen the difference between when people 'in the field' are allowed latitude in making decisions - or when decisions are sent down through the chain of command via bureaucratic policy (whether corporate, sales, military, govt is immaterial), who among us hasn't shaken their heads at the 'stupid' things their company, manager, commander, superiors, have done?

The closer to the facts, to their full context, a decision maker is, the more likely it is that an intelligent choice is may be made. The further removed from the relevant facts and context of the actual situation a person is, the less likely it is than an intelligent choice will, or even can, be made. Don't we all understand this? Don't we all see this in our daily lives? The difference between making your own choices and being compelled to follow predetermined 'choices', is the difference between potentially making intelligent decisions, or having to carry out enforced stupidity.

Not for nothing was East Germany under the USSR described as a grey, lifeless city.

Google up one of the satellite images of South Korea and North Korea at night - better illustrations of making your own choices or having choices made for you, are hard to find.

Call it what you will Capitalism, free market, socialism, fascism, statism... it comes down to intelligence or stupidity, life or death - That is the very real choice we are in the process of facing. And it is your responsibility, as a civilized person, someone who is a Law Abiding citizen, to understand the Law and give it a place to abide, and act from and through. L'amour has his character William Tell Sackett again sum up the situation admirably,

"Only, the way I figure, no man has the right to be ignorant. In a country like this, ignorance is a crime. If a man is going to vote, if he is going to take a part in his country and its government, then it's up to him to understand."

The Truth of the Law, whispered down the ages, from Cicero, to Seneca, to Blackstone, to the Founding Fathers, to a 'fictional' American Cowboy's lips... to you - will you take heed of it? Will you give the Law a place to abide?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Free At Last! Free at... well... free agent anyway

My follow up project was cancelled and I'm free of a job again...woo-hoo!

Ah well, we took our vacation anyway and spent a week on the beach at Gulf Shores Alabama, away from the news, away from laptops and internet connections (I snuck along my PocketPC of course, but no news browsing), and did some fishing with the family, built some awesome sand castles and got pleasantly sunburned.

Ahhh... that was nice.

Well, time to use some 'free time' to reassess things, maybe take a new tack and start over again, again.