Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Wanna see something really scary? How about looking at what your political positions are based upon...?!

Are you upset about the political climate today? Do you sometimes wonder who is to blame? Well, Trick or Treat, I think that I can help you with that.

Do you have political positions that you support? Good... good, good. Now let me ask you a couple questions,
  1. Where did those positions come from?
  2. What is it that you know, which makes you think those positions are correct and appropriate?
Now of course, if your answer is they came from family, friends, church, feelings, traditions, school, economics, that's fine... that's a start, no worries. But of course, now you need to ask where they (yes, even the professors, and even the authors of the books they're quoting from) got those positions from, and on what basis it is that they, and you, claim to know them to be true.

Now... if their reply, points to still more family, friends, church, feelings, traditions, school, economics... and so on... and so on? If that's the case, then... well... I've got some good news for you... and I've got some bad news for you.

Because you see, if that's the case, that your positions are simply other people's positions with no known - to you - basis in reality for them, then we've just identified where your ability to reasonably disagree and discuss your political positions ends, and where your role in the worsening political climate of today begins! Yep, that's right, mystery solved - you're to blame!

Well... at least partly. Why? What are you going to say when any political discussion you enter into, reaches that point where you know nothing more to say? What can you say, but 'Well.. my [family, friends, church, feelings, traditions, school, economics] are better than yours!'?

What else is there left to go to from there? Only anger's many masks of laughter, dismissal, derision, insult, and in the end, the bottom line of spittle spewing fury.

Do you still wonder who is to blame for the angry nature of our political climate today? Find a mirror. Look into it. Seriously.

But here's the good news: If you don't like that answer, and if you really do care about the sorry state of discourse in our society today, then there is something that you can do about it. All you have to do is try to get a better understanding of what your own positions are based upon. And then discuss them with someone else who is willing to admit that they don't know what their positions are based upon, either. Seriously - it's not as if it's going to be difficult to find someone else like you. Right? And no, that wouldn't be a case of the blind leading the blind, but one of the sighted learning to see.

Do that, and you will be taking an active hand in fixing the nature of the discourse in our society today.

Oh, and BTW, it might help to recall that this nation, and our liberty, were not founded upon either 'The Declaration of Independence' or 'The Constitution', but upon the (then) commonly known and understood ideas which those documents summarized and codified. It was because those ideas could and were understood, that we our nation could be founded upon them. As Jefferson said of the ideas behind the Declaration of Independence, that their,
"... 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,..."
If you really want to make a difference, try doing something different: think about, and try to understand, the 'Rights' you're 'talking' about, before you leap straight into arguing over them.

This Halloween, remember what's really scary to those who've been doing their best to keep you trapped in that hall of mirrors: You, reading, and discussing, those 'elementary books of public right', such as these:
  1. Aristotle
  2. Cicero
  3. Locke
  4. Sidney
Be the Horsemen, headless no more.

Trick or Treat!

Monday, October 08, 2018

Happy Columbus Day!

I do think it's time to re-post this, from Columbus Day, 2015 - Why? Because after a few weeks of being bombarded with unsubstantiated charges and hysterical outrage from the most outrageous folks imaginable, I think it's time, even with as small a nod as this is, to explicitly disregard the rantings of the failed and the botched, and to lift a glass of cheer and celebrate the heroic adventures of those who actually dared to do what others feared; deeds which, even though tinged with a great deal of error, led to the greatest advances for mankind in all of our nations known histories. Celebrate this day, even moreso, because everything it represents is loathed and feared today by those who oppose celebrating this day, even moreso than was the voyage that Christopher Columbus undertook to take in 1492.

 IOW:

  Happy Columbus Day!
"In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue..."

If you don't know the rest, or refuse to repeat it, your ignorance is too deep for me to fix in so little time and space. I won't bother a protest, qualification, any hint of apology or take any other sort of a defensive stand on what is and should be recognized and celebrated on this day.

What we like to think of Captain Kirk doing, Christopher Columbus actually did, and he did it without electronic wizardry, without science officers or communication specialists or even replaceable extras in red shirts, but with only wooden boats, a compass and a number of guesses about how the extent of the world might be shaped.

He and some ninety crew, set out on an uncharted ocean with the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, and it was incredibly brave and bold, and resulted in Western Civilization expanding westward around the globe, and even entertaining the notion that we today need to defend or justify that, is not only stupidity on stilts, but a repudiation of all that is good.

If that isn't laudable and self-evident bad-assery to you, begone and darken my door no more.

In fourteen hundred ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

He had three ships and left from Spain; He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

He sailed by night; he sailed by day; He used the stars to find his way.

A compass also helped him know How to find the way to go....

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Judge Kavanaugh's Senate Confirmation Hearings: To search and destroy the senate's role of advice and consent

What has become the routine process for the Senate to give 'Advice and Consent' upon a nominee to the Supreme Court, is to have a background check performed by the FBI, prior to a hearing by the Senate Judiciary committee, to review any judicial record or relevant comments a nominee might have or have made, and then onto questioning by the senators on the committee, in order to satisfy them about his understanding of the Constitution, and his fitness in interpreting it, on the bench. Bret Kavanaugh has had six FBI background checks over the course of many years, going back to the time he held jobs in the White House, another before becoming a federal appeals court judge in 2006, and again for his current nomination to the Supreme Court. At no time during any of those checks, were any concerning facts or concerns about his conduct and character discovered by the FBI, and his record as a jurist gives no reason to question his integrity, his understanding of, or his ability to, apply the Constitution to the cases that came before him on the court.

Sen. Feinstein, during the period which those hearings were being conducted, held onto letters sent to her by individuals making claims about memories they'd recovered or been troubled by, from 36... or so... years ago, when teenagers, while drunk, at parties... somewhere. Had the letters made charges that were creditable, and had the senator been concerned about either the incidents described being legitimate, or had they raised actual concerns for her about Kavanaugh's character, she would have brought those letters to the attention of her fellow senators, and would have done what she could in order to see to it that actual investigations could be conducted that would go beyond the background checks already performed.

Because there was no reason to be concerned about Judge Kavanaugh's fitness for the Supreme Court, and no reason to credit the accusations in those letters as being serious charges, Sen. Feinstein took no actions, other than to withhold the letters from the judiciary committee.

She didn't do any of that, because she had no real concern for the 'victims', she was not concerned about having discovered hidden flaws in the character of a potential Supreme Court justice, and she did not care about seeing that justice was done in regards to those 'incidents' the letters recounted. What she and her fellow Democrat Senators were concerned about, was having a sensational means of upending the nomination process at the last moment, resisting, and delaying the appointment of a nominee who seemed to be of exemplary character and judicial record.

That was what was, and is, important to Sen. Feinstein. The reason why she, and the Left are concerned about Judge Kavanaugh sitting on the SCOTUS, is because he's a judge that has a good understanding and respect for the Constitution of the United States of America, and would treat and interpret it reasonably and fairly, and because the prospects of another such judge having a seat on the Supreme Court, would spell disaster for the collective ideological aims and agendas of the Pro-Regressive Left (and Right), be they Democrat, Democratic Socialist, or Establishment Republican. The prospect of that so terrifies them, as to push them all to engage in promoting not only the vague and outlandish recollections of his activist accusers, but also the clearly spastic and attention seeking lies of other media whores as well.

Also, let me state clearly for the record: None of these accusations deserved to be heard in 'court'.

Why? Not based upon whether or not I think they happened as claimed, but because there is no reason to entertain the possibility that they had. If you read the different accusations, at least three so far, the 'better' one being made by the professor who testified today, don't bother trying to be a Nostradamus: you cannot know whether or not Dr. Ford was assaulted, or if so, who did it. Both you, and I, have no way of knowing the truth and accuracy of the claims being made, and we shouldn't pretend to! What we can know, and what we should restrict our comments to, is to what we can know about the charges, and their correspondence to facts that can be known, and witnesses corroboration of them. And though the 30+ years have passed are suspicious, that is not the basis for discarding them - see Bill Cosby's conviction and sentencing this week, on the basis of 30+something year old charges (made to the police) - the problem with the charges, lays in the charges and claims themselves.

Let's review: The accusations being made, were made 36+ years ago, when the person claiming to be

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Playing politics with politics, is a threat to all concerned

The line that "If you don't vote for Candidate X, THEN YOU’RE VOTING FOR CANDIDATE Y!!!”, is neither a good argument, nor a laughing matter, and treating it as one, or the other, or both, is not a responsible approach to one of your most fundamental civic responsibilities.

There are a couple things at play here, that need to be considered. First being, what is it that you think that you are doing when voting - are you voting for a candidate, or are you voting to influence who will hold power in a political office? The distinction being made there is one that makes a difference. If you subscribe to the former, then it's pretty likely that you've made the above statement, either in seriousness, or by mocking those who do, or in whining that those who do are 'browbeating' you, in order to make excuses for how you intend to vote. Either approach is a dead end that is harmful to the entire body politic.

If you're exasperated with how someone says they intend to vote, don't tell them what you think about candidates X, Y & Z - they'll just tell you what they think about what you think. Instead, ask them about how they think their vote will affect the results of the election - that at least might give you something to talk about.

Such as... it is important to remember that the ultimate aim of what all of the candidates and voters are participating in, is a means of determining who the occupant of a seat of political power will be, and how the powers of that office are likely to be employed by them upon We The People - that is what your foremost concern as a voter should be. The candidate you favor - if you should be so lucky as to have one you can - is and should be a secondary matter in that choice, and a distant one at that.

The electoral process begins in the primaries, and if you are a member of, or align with, a particular political party, then that party's primary election is your opportunity to examine the candidates, to make your opinion known about their fitness, and about what direction the party should go, and to support what best represents your political ideals. If you chose to participate in that party and in their primary, then by choosing to vote for one of that party's slate of candidates, you tacitly agree to support the winner - whether they were your choice or not. If you are a member of that political party, and you participate in their primary election, and your candidate loses, and you find yourself wholly unable to support the winner, then the principled thing to do would be to resign from that party. If you continue on as a member or supporter of that political party, while vocally denouncing the winner of its primary election and those who support them, then you, above all people, are in no position to prattle on about 'Principles!' of any kind, as you've already demonstrated your disregard for the fundamentals of being principled, and apparently lack the integrity which such a concept requires.

Where the primary election was about your preferences as a voter, the general election is about your responsibilities as a citizen.

If you do support a candidate that has a credible chance of winning the election, and you have no serious objections to the other credible candidates running in the campaign, all is well and good, vote for who you support.

But if there is no candidate running in the general election whose ideals and positions you can wholeheartedly support, or if the candidate you do prefer has little or no chance of winning the election, then it is your responsibility as a citizen to remember that the general election is not about either the candidates or your feelings for them, but about how the powers of that office are likely to be used by the winner of the election, and to vote accordingly.

That is not a case of choosing the lesser evil, it is a matter of opposing the greater one!

If Candidate Y (Hillary, Claire, etc) supports an agenda that is a clear threat to your political ideals and values, and they have a credible chance of being elected, then your own personal preferences, both those for Candidate X, and against Candidate Z (Trump, Hawley, etc), are no longer valid considerations in how you will cast your vote! Political maturity demands that you coolly and clearly take stock of the situation, and that you judge which candidate poses the greater threat to what you consider to be of political importance, and that you then cast your vote so as to ensure that the candidate which poses the greater threat your polity, is defeated in the general election.

If you fail to hold what will result from the election as your main concern, then you are putting your ego and vanity above that of your community, and you will be manipulated by the froth of personalities and identity politics, and your contribution to that miasma can only harm your community, and worsen the political climate for all.

If you as a voter choose to allow yourself to be driven by your personal feelings for candidates, rather than by what your judgment tells you about how that office will be utilized by the winner of that election, then your vote will be futile in every meaningful way, as it can and will accomplish nothing more than to flatter your own personal vanity and sense of self importance. Such a vote of 'Principle!' reflects no principles at all, it is the act of a politically immature child, and all such voters, for the good of the community (which is the ultimate point of politics), should strongly consider refraining from dabbling in politics for the foreseeable future, because playing politics with politics, is a threat to all concerned.

Think less about your personal feelings about candidates, and more about what your vote is, and what it will mean, and act accordingly.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Constitution at 231 years old - for Patriots, Protesters, and even #MeToo'rs

[Re-posting this date adjusted post, on what is now the 231st anniversary of our Constitution, because it asks those few questions that are really worth asking ourselves today. Last year they were especially worth asking after two days of rioting for 'Justice!' in St.Louis, and this year of course there are efforts to derail a Supreme Court nomination over #MeToo charges of 'Justice!' - today, again, it's very much worth asking yourself:
  • What do you think of the Constitution, and why do you think that? 
Not which favorite catch phrases come so readily to mind, or repeating what someone else wrote, or said, but what do You think, and why do you think it? You might even find a few points that you've never thought upon for yourself. 

Hard to imagine a better activity for the day.]

Today marks the completion of what both Patriot and Protester, knowingly or not, are unified in referencing. What was signed as completed upon this day, two hundred and thirty years ago, September 17th, 1787, by thirty-nine of the fifty-five Framers, was the Constitution of the United States of America, and whether you stand in respect for, or disrespectfully turn away from, the Flag, the National Anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance, you do so in reference to that document which is the oldest existing instrument of its kind, still in operation.

Why?

Is it simply a list of rules for governing by? Is it nothing more than a favorite fossil of 'white people'? A document of oppression? Frederick Douglass once thought so, but because he was a thinker in order to understand what was true, he didn't stop with answers that were given him by others, but continued on thinking upon the matter, and discovered the Truth which such vile falsehoods seek to smother and erase.

But today I'm really not much concerned with your answers to those 'points', but am only interested in whether or not you are familiar with the ideas, principles and purposes which animated the writing of it - are you? And if not... what worth can your opinion - pro or con - have for me, or for anyone else?

Whether you mouth its praises, or make showy protests against it, without understanding what it is

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Patching together memories of September 11th, 2001

In remembering what happened on September 11th, 17 years ago, I've patched this post together from a number of memories and posts and comments I've made from then to now. Where they began, of course, was on the morning of September 11th, 2001, when my wife, who was a flight attendant with TWA, called me as I was driving into work on I-70, just passing through Earth City, to tell me a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center.

I was thinking a Cessna, but she said it sounded like it was larger, the impact too large. I knew a plane had once hit the Empire State Bldg on a stormy night, but she said the weather looked clear, how could that be possible? As we were talking, another jet hit the other tower.

That made it clear what was going on, we decided that she'd pick the boys up from school and bring them home.

I continued on into work, and news came that another plane had hit the Pentagon.

A blue streak of horror and animal fury blasted back at my radio as the news came that one of the towers was collapsing. As I walked into work, 7th floor of A.G. Edwards, people were crowded around the T.V. in the lobby and the second tower came down.

I went to to my desk, one of the guys there was trying to get a hold of his son who worked in one of the World Trade Center towers. I to our project coordinator and told him I wouldn't be working that day, and headed for home.

I told the boys the obvious as we watched the news, that the world had just changed, we were at war, and nothing would be the same.

To those who want to think of this day as a time for healing or a day of service, Fuck You. We are not going back to the reflexive evasion of reality which is what made this day possible.

Political Correctness began its well deserved death that day ten years ago today, it may be a long, agonizingly slow death, fitting perhaps for the cancer that it is, but it was the beginning of the end of the view that it is in any way good or proper to pretend a lie can pretty up the truth.

The lie is nothing but darkest evil, and the light of Truth chases, confines and obliterates it... as we have, and will do, to those who did this evil – you are nothing, and to nothingness you will be returned.

And yet there are those who will shake their head and ask "How do you kill an idea?"

How do you kill an idea? If it is an idea that people are not open to discussing, an idea that will not tolerate reasonable alternatives, an idea that requires your death or your submission, then the answer to that question is a very simple one:

You cannot defeat an idea.

All you can do is make physically certain that those of the enemy who might survive a war with you, would live in constant fear and dread at the thought of that idea ever again being in their head, let alone upon their lips. You cannot defeat an idea, you can only make people determined to no longer entertain them, because of the memory of the war they fought with you over it, and the fear of the possibility of such a conflict ever happening again, is too painful to think about

How do you kill an idea? By killing its hosts, and causing everyone else to fear and dread the thought of thinking it.

Screw healing.

We should pick at the wound, keep it burning. Remember the parents on the plane heading in to strike the Towers, their child sitting next to them... remember the people in the Tower on the phone to 911, crying, scared, burning from the heat, and then screaming as the impossible happened, the tower collapsed beneath them into nothingness. Remember the wives, husbands, children, of those who just went to work that day, and had their lives and world stolen from them by islambie thugs.

Remember that no matter what idiot politician or educationista prattles... we are a people who have known, and still know freedom and liberty and law, a people who believe it is good to live a moral life and pursue our happiness where we see fit to choose to. Remember that there are alleged human beings who wish noting more than to destroy that possibility.

Remember Sept. 11, 2001. Be angry, feel hatred, seek the destruction of those who seek yours. It is altogether fitting and proper that we do so, and remember that those who lost their lives, and those who have since given their lives in this cause, have hallowed this day far beyond and above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say today, but it will remember what happened, and it will take note of whether or not we remember.

A proper foreign policy is "Mind your own business & we'll mind ours. Mess with us or ours, and we'll destroy you. Period."

Anything less, reasoning with those who are unreasonable, giving measured responses in reply to savagery, etc., are concessions and only serve to enable those who wish us harm.

Perhaps more than anything else, remember that forgetting how and why the attacks of 9-11 were made possible, guarantees that its horrors will be revisited upon us, courtesy of our willful inability to recognize their approach, and the cost of that will be history rhyming itself once again, as the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more:

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
Please, try to remember 9/11 as the lesson we won't have to learn once more.

Reality will not be denied, and Evil will not be turned aside because you choose to turn away from it. Deny that, and the Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return. Please. Just face the facts and learn the lesson so we don't have to learn it once more.


Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Do you want to play 'The Enemy of America Game'? - The only way to win....

Would you like to play a game? Careful now, because if you choose to play, you could lose... and then you might end up as the enemy you are so loudly seeking after. You sure you want to play the game? Well, ok then... let's start.

You will probably have heard of some of these recent headlines:
Trump calls 'Fake News' the enemy of the people!
, many of whom turn around and call him that right back. Fun, eh?
(I've gotta say, I snickered at this part:)

"...Let's recap. Only 10.7 percent believe the press is the Enemy of the People, but 36.5 percent agree with the statement: The Press is the Enemy of the People.
I pause for your frowning, head-scratching and booking of tickets to Canada or New Zealand. ..."

  • One-Third of Americans Think News Media Is the Enemy of the People ...Newsweek-6 hours ago
  • Now, we should try and clear up some of the confusion involved here, because sometimes who the 'enemy' is, and is of, or even what an 'enemy' is, is a wee bit muddled. Sometimes it's asked enemy of, and completed with 'the people', 'America', 'the republic'... maybe it'd be good to start with some basics of popular definitions.
    en·e·my - ['en?me] - NOUN - a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.
    people. plural people. 1 plural : human beings making up a group or assembly or linked by a common interest.
    na·tion - ['naSH(?)n] - NOUN - a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory.
    Interestingly, to find a definition for 'America' that didn't take paragraphs to get passed the geographic landmasses of North & South America, and the Indians, and an ancient Rock Band, I had to go to a British Dictionary definition for 'America'
    "America - noun - short for the United States of America"
    Or diving down into Merriam Webster's 'Definition of 'American' for Students'
    American 1 : a citizen of the United States
    More sadly amusing, only Merriam Webster's 'b' definition of Republic is correct,
    republic - 1 a (1) : a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president (2) : a political unit (such as a nation) having such a form of government
    b (1) : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law (2) : a political unit (such as a nation) having such a form of government
    c : a usually specified republican government of a political unit the French Fourth Republic
    Of course if you know me, you may be able to see where I'm heading with this, that in the context of what we're talking about, 'the people', and 'America', and 'the state', and 'the republic', are all by one or more legs, and boiling either up or down, ultimately referring us diligent players back to the American Constitutional Republic, and specifically to the Constitution by which it was formed.

    Can 'The Press', or Trump, or 'The People' for that matter, be enemies of that? I'd say, yes indeedy they can... but are they? And of those, who is more so?

    Well, lets look back at what constitutes an 'enemy', shall we?:
    "a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something"
    What would that, er, constitute in this context? Speaking for myself, I'd say that refers to those who are actively opposed or hostile to a key 'someone', which in this context would refer most correctly to the people as a whole, who are its sovereign, or to the leader of that Republic which they elected by its lawful rules to govern it, which would be President Trump; or in the case of the 'something', referring to the Republic, which has its being from the Constitution which formed it, our Constitutional form of law. This gets a bit trickier.

    Are the Press generally hostile or actively opposed to the idea of government limited to the express powers of the Constitution? Um... yes. I'm not in the mood to argue the obvious right at this moment, but if you've heard the likes of The New York Times, or Rachel Maddow, or Brian Williams, sniggering when talking about 'constitution', or the foolishness of adhering to that 'out moded' document, you know what I'm referring to - and if you wish to pretend that you haven't, I've no time for your merely pretending to play by the rules of this game. And of course, if you are one of those in the public, or wacademia, who want, or yearn for, undermining or overturning it, if you are in the habit of openly praising systems which you hope to put in place of it (ObamaCare, Universal Basic Income, the unfettered authority of Administrative Agencies, etc), which are antithetical to its words and spirit, if you speak respectfully or yearnfully of 'socialism' for instance, or the Administrative State, then, yes, that makes you an enemy of our American Constitutional Republic.

    If you have so little regard for it, that you prefer what has come to replace it, to it - administrative agencies, super national organizations such as the U.N., WTO, EU, etc., legislation that ignores it, Judges who pronounce their own judgments over it, and in opposition to it, then yes, that puts you actively opposed to it as well, and so you too, by your own words and intentions, are an enemy of America.

    If you teach that the origins of its culture and system of laws are invidious evils, patriarchies of tyranny, if you scream at the top of your lungs "F America!", tread upon, spit upon or burn its emblem, the flag,... then, yes, you also qualify - by your own words and actions - as an enemy of America.

    If you march about in menacing disguises - whether 'antify' or 'kkk' or their many likes - beating or sucker punching people for their opinions, using unprovoked violence (for the triggered: This means provoked by imminent threats of actual physical violence, not words you dislike. Sorry. Penalty points to you for that), if you complain about and call for the repeal of all or part of the Bill of Rights, especially in regards to the 1st Amendment and those individual rights of religion, freedom of speech and the press (and no, no irony here), of petitioning govt and assembly that it protects, or the 2nd Amendment's protection for the individual right of self defense without which they cannot exist (if you don't have the right to defend your rights, you don't have the right to exercise them either), if you deliberately and violently disturb the peace, intimidate passers by, destroy property, while expressing your dislike and hatred for everything that America is and stands for, then... yes... you do qualify as an enemy of America too.

    If you demonstrate embarrassingly little care for its fundamental laws, though perhaps while speaking warmly of it, habitually show affection for 'Americana' and the traditions associated with it, you are committed to defending it but aren't all that committed to confining your exercise of political power in accordance with its, or are generally careless of, its laws - and you 'conservatives', 'principled!' Libertarians and Union people opposed to 'Right to Work' while using political power to force the association and support from your fellows as a condition of work: I'm looking at you - all of you... well... calling you an enemy... may a bit much, but, certainly, you show yourself more of a 'sunshine patriot' than a steadfast friend to it - and hello to you too Mr. President - you all might want to tone the rhetoric down just a tad. Or at least the tweets.

    So... who ISN'T an enemy of America?

    Are you in a position to answer that?

    Do tell.

    Strange game. The only way to win, is not to play.

    Wednesday, July 25, 2018

    The Utility of Tyranny - To Keep and Bear Arms Across Time - pt5

    Here's a conundrum for you: There are many things in life that some of us might be unfortunate enough to have to defend ourselves against - thugs, thieves, mobs... lions, tigers & bears - but there is only one power that has the potential to prevent each and everyone of us from choosing to think, speak and act in our interests, or in the defense of them. And of course that fearsome power is held by the very same institution which our society channels our collective power through, in order to safeguard those interests and actions for us: Government.

    That is a conundrum. Enter our Bill of Rights.

    Our 2nd Amendment was not written simply for us to have easy access to arms (guns, or any other form) - It was written and ratified as a 'No Trespassing!' sign to be thrust into the faces of that collective power of our society, who would understand it to be backed up by those personal arms each judges to be best suited to the defending of them, to dissuade us from intruding ourselves into those choices and actions that we engage in during the course of living our lives.

    Why? Not to fight against our society, but to live in liberty within it! If you can be prevented from having the means to defend your decisions, your life and your community, then you do not have the liberty to have or enjoy any of them.

    I'll repeat that: If you do not have the right to defend your rights, then you do not have the liberty to exercise them.

    It is that simple.

    Sure, your society may permit many, any or all of those actions you typically choose to take, but only by appointing someone with the power to grant (or deny) you their permission, which is a very different thing altogether - isn't it? For government to transform our rights into their permissions, it first needs the ability to disarm its citizens ability to resist it.

    The 2nd Amendment exists to prevent that sort of transformative trespassing. In fact, every amendment in our Bill of Rights, exist to prevent that.

    The existence of our Bill of Rights, and every amendment within it, is evidence of your liberty. Its compromise is evidence of your lack of it.

    Did you notice that when our Founders' said "Shall not be infringed", they were looking directly at you?
    What the clear intent of our Bill of Rights is, and that its promise was fulfilled, is evident in how it was presented for the approval (ratification) of We The People, with the following preamble:
    "The conventions of a number of the states having, at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added; and as extending the ground of public confidence in the government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;-"
    IOW, We The People demanded that clear limitations be put upon our government's power to exercise its (our) powers, through law, for what would doubtless be seen as being for the greater good, because We The People understood so well that We The People are too prone to misuse power with "the very best of intentions".

    Our Bill of Rights comes down to us from those who had a clear understanding of our limitless ability to convince ourselves that doing what is wrong is ok, if, in our humble opinion, it is done 'for the greater good'. Our Founders - and in this case I am not talking about those who gathered to frame the constitution at the convention in Philadelphia, but rather of that general population of We The People - who on reviewing the Constitution which that 'assembly of demigods' had proposed, found it wanting. The people conditioned their acceptance of that document which was to define the limits (or lack of them) of our laws, on the promise that it be amended to prevent their new government from exercising its power in the most politically essential areas of our lives.

    Of those twelve amendments that were proposed, what became the 1st through 10th Amendments, were designed to limit and prevent We The People's best and brightest from using the collective power of their own government, to alter, limit, eliminate or otherwise violate the ability of any number of their own people from enjoying the liberty of those essential rights, 'for their own good'. These amendments are explicitly there, because their understanding of history taught them that tyranny couldn't easily rise to power, in the face of a people who were armed with the liberty to exercise those politically essential rights.

    The Bill of Rights, and the 2nd Amendment in particular, exist to prevent ourselves from using our own govt to do what it should not do. Not out of a fear of some anonymous 'they!', and not because they feared some bogeyman called 'government!' - this is an important point that few seem to realize: they didn't fear someone else, they understood and feared themselves! Us! We The People!

    That we today have forgotten to even be wary of our own selves, and of our own good intentions, is a confirmation of how well placed those fears of theirs were - and how fortunate we are that they safeguarded our essential individual rights from us.

    How have we forgotten that? Easy - it was thought to be useful to.

    Tyranny's Slippery Slope
    People too easily slide into tyranny. Have you ever wondered why? It doesn't really require any deep learning to understand, only a basic grasp of the fundamentals of human nature and a regard for what is in reality right and true. We are prone to becoming tyrannical, not from a desire to do evil (though true, some few may), but from our well intentioned desire to 'do good', even if that means imposing 'Good', upon others, to 'fix them'. For their own good.

    My friend Virginia Kruta, saw this firsthand this weekend, when she went to see self-described 'Democratic-Socialist' Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speak in St. Louis this last weekend, where, from speaker after speaker, she saw the frightening lure of such good intentions:
    "...I saw something truly terrifying. I saw just how easy it would be, were I less involved and less certain of our nation’s founding and its history, to fall for the populist lines they were shouting from that stage. 
    • I saw how easy it would be, as a parent, to accept the idea that my children deserve healthcare and education.
    • I saw how easy it would be, as someone who has struggled to make ends meet, to accept the idea that a “living wage” was a human right.
    • Above all, I saw how easy it would be to accept the notion that it was the government’s job to make sure that those things were provided."
    I watched as both Ocasio-Cortez and Bush deftly chopped America up into demographics, pointed out how those demographics had been victimized under the current system, and then promised to be the voice for those demographics..."
    As they stare and yearn to 'do good!' with those policies, as they see that usefulness as being 'good', they are not seeing (or looking for) the fine print in what powers must be brought to bear upon (all) others in society, in order to do that 'good', and they are not seeing the ramifications of having done those 'goods' unto us all. It's conveniently not easy to see what is out of sight - but what they want it to be 'good' is easily seen; seeing how it could go bad... is... not what you're looking for when you're looking to 'do good'. If you'd like an example of doing bad for 'good' reasons, read all of Ginny's short piece linked above, and then read how it's deliberately parsed to alter her meaning in this, and so many others, so that what she said is easily ignored, and so that what she didn't say, could be criticized, as if it was what she had said. That's a lie... for the 'greater good'.

    These issues are 'the ends justify the means', in action - telling lies for the greater good, because they do not doubt that those 'goods' will be useful... no matter how often they have repeatedly resulted in disappointment, hardship, corruption, destruction, and eventually wide-scale death (and they can never do otherwise - in the end).

    People are rarely willing to see what they are doing, as being wrong. If you've ever looked back upon some dark point in time - present or past - and wondered 'how could they do that?!'; this is how they could, and did, do what they did - whether in Venezuela, Cambodia, Cuba, Red China, USSR, Nazi Germany, and so on, and so forth - the darkness we see in looking back upon those times, is not the darkness that they saw when looking around at what they themselves were doing. They saw in what they were doing, their good intentions, and they saw themselves as opposing that darkness which they did see all around them, which is what they saw as justifying those actions that needed to be taken 'for the greater good' - as they saw it.

    Those policies that Ginny listed - government provided healthcare, government provided education, government provided wages for the needy, and looking to government to provide privileges instead of upholding rights under law, those are the very same justifications for policies that were used to 'do good', in Venezuela, Cambodia, Cuba, Red China, USSR, Nazi Germany, and so on, and so forth.

    If you don't see that, it's because that is not what you are willing to look for. And yet it is true nonetheless.

    The motive power of pulling the saintly wool down over our own eyes, is Utilitarian in nature, through replacing 'The Good' with the useful, motivationaly empowering 'The ends justify the means!', in which the 'good' (meaning...?) they intend to do unto you, provides them with all the justification needed to exercise whatever 'unfortunate' means might be necessary for that which they fear or desire. For the 'greater good'... as they see it.

    The problem is that "The Good", then, has less to do with what used to be described as the 'Good, Beautiful and True', and more to do with what is useful in getting what they desire - transforming it from what was good, in and of itself, into a means of the power to do something else... followed by something else... and always more something elses' will be necessary, for evermore. And by that time what was once understood to be 'wrong', is no longer seen in their mind as being wrong, or at least not in the same way; 'wrong' having been transformed into 'needed' - is almost certainly urgently necessary to do.

    Our interests and desires have a natural tendency to shift our awareness away from looking for what is right, good and true, into looking for what is useful, efficient and needful. It is in that action of shifting our ethical perspective, that we succeed in hiding the wrongful nature of our actions from our own eyes, eclipsing them with the more interesting 'good' which we intend to do, blinding us from the possibly unsettling (or even evil) nature of what is now clearly seen as being oh so necessary and useful for our chosen ends.

    If you are unaware of this tendency in yourself, then you are, in an important and essential way, uneducated, and a danger to yourself and to those around you.

    What a proper Education is supposed to accomplish, is to enable us to see this tendency in ourselves, and to question the reality of what we are so eager to 'see' as being so. Not to question reality, but to question our pretenses of it: Are we seeing what is, or what we desire it to be?

    "...We are told that the aim of Socrates in his training of the young was not to make them efficient, but to inspire in them reverence and restraint ; for to make them efficient, said Socrates, without reverence and restraint, was simply to equip them with ampler means for harm..."
    Irving Babbitt "Literature and the College", from 'Bacon and Rousseau' - 1908
    Our Founders' generation was well educated on the whole, and so were wary of their own potential to do wrong for the best of intentions... but they were already well on their way to losing that habit of seeing their own shortcomings. The re-purposing of Education away from 'moral ambitiousness', towards economic utility, which even some of our Founder's generation helped to lay, laid down a foundation that our nation could not have been erected upon had it come just a few decades earlier, and those new inclinations have been weakening our true foundations ever since. What had soared from Locke to Adam Smith to Jean Baptiste Say and crested into Frederic Bastiat, was already giving way to its mirror imagery, in Rousseau, Robespierre, Babeuf, and then Marx and the swarm of 'isms that followed in their wake.

    IMHO, our Declaration of Independence, and our Constitution, were created, at the last historical moment that it was possible for them to be established, and just how close we came to being too late, can be seen in the success of the American Revolution, and the horrific failure(s) of the French Revolution so soon afterwards. We were at the peak point of a couple century's spread of common understanding of the ideas in those works that Jefferson had called 'the elementary books of public right', but their comprehension of them had hit its peak by 1793, and was already in the process of giving way to the up and coming mechanistic, utilitarian views. Those new directions are easily seen in what were popularized in Rousseau's enthusiasm for naturalism, over civilization, and in his popular reforms for Education, moving as they did away from striving to inculcate an intelligent virtue in mankind, in favor of a tantalizing and youthfully indulgent sense of self-fulfillment. Taken together, they served to move us away from our Founder's understanding of inalienable rights, and towards Jeremy Bentham's view of such rights as 'nonsense upon stilts'.

    I can't tell you how many times I've been in discussions with Pro-Regressives of the Left or Right - with those few who are at least willing to discuss their proposals - who will within the same sentence, chide 'the other side' for 'seeing every disagreement as of evil intent' and then go on to rail against 'the evil 1%!'; they'll roundly denounce the other side's use of the broad generalities of 'they' and 'always' when discussing their opponents, and then immediately denounce the 'Right' who are all 'greedy' and unethical. They will fume against the use of propaganda by 'Fox News!', while demanding a restoration of state regulated and approved speech (aka: propaganda) through a new 'Fairness Doctrine'.

    Yes, that is nonsensical if you are focused upon what you see as being right, good and true. But for those that have replaced what is good (which in any meaningful sense, tightly integrates with all of your life, morality, manners, ethics, etc), with what they see as being for 'the greater good' (which needs have no more consistency with other policies you promote than the right people are for them - which is the entire point of pivoting their orientation towards power), they are simply seeking what is useful, efficient and needful to implementing the 'greater good' unto us, which, of course, makes 'perfect sense', and as such applications of force upon 'bad' elements, is necessary to achieving that greater good. For all. Obviously..

    They do not see it as being wrong or bad, because their definition of 'good', now follows from the pragmatic ideal of 'what works' for the moment, instead of the ethical and philosophical ideal, of what is timelessly 'Right, Good and True'. What they see, is that what you do, is 'bad', because it conflicts with what they would have done. When they do the very same thing, it is 'good', because it furthers their good intentions. What this means for the use of political power, is that virtue - its substance, not simply the appearances of it - is no longer able to serve as motivation or guidance for them, only power can fill that role - not the power to objectively identify or correct wrongs that have been done, but the desire to forcefully act upon others, to do unto them, utilizing power that others will surely see as being useful and needed for 'the greater good' - that form of understanding is incapable of containing meaning that is in conflict with what you, in your own eyes, see as being useful.

    And still they do not see it. To be clear, this excuses them from nothing - they would see the wrongs in what they do, if they would put reality and truth ahead of what they wished reality to be, but they will not, and so they do not, and we all suffer the consequences, seen and unseen.

    The ability to see that what seems sensible to you, might pose unforeseen dangers to you and all you love, the ability to '...to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it...' is an important aim of an Education, to be "... released from a multitude of opinions...", and the distracting shadows on the wall of Plato's cave. Conversely, the inability to see - or to even look for - the possibility that what you see as being necessary and justified, just might endanger all, is a result of, in at least some significant area, a lack of education - particularly if you attained that ability through years of classroom earned degrees.

    The views of those educated as our Founders generation was, aimed at a pointed self-reflection that questioned what you were inclined to think seemed certain, that is what enabled We The People, to gift ourselves with our Bill of Rights.

    The views of those 'outmoded' ideals of education replaced with getting a good job, had an enthusiasm to act upon 'obvious' certainties, and is what is driving our current efforts to dent, damage and dispense with the protections of our 2nd Amendment, and the 1st Amendment, and all of the others, which enables us to be protected from 'the greater good' which they are so eager to do unto us - which is when We The People need to hold on to them more strongly than ever - not to fight our society, but to live in liberty within it.

    There's a quote from C.S. Lewis that sums the danger of this up well:
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." "The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment". "God in the Dock". Book by C. S. Lewis, 1970.
    And to those armed with good intentions - a power that is far deadlier than any material weapon - they will seek, use, and apply that power to achieve their ends, and they will do so with a clear and approving conscience. Tyranny is above all else, in the minds of those who deny they seek it, useful.  Unless their minds are turned anew towards the nature of those essential rights that our Bill of Rights were created to protect, they will, with the very best of intentions, turn each of them against the other.

    How that is done, in the next post.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018

    President Trump's terrible no good bad presser - Unless you actually read what was said, that is.(Update: Now with even more Treason!)

    [Update below: Now with even more Treason!] SoOo... Trump & Putin's presser - quite the dust-up over it, eh? Hey... did you actually listen to the entire thing? Or just the reports of it? Huh. Well I hadn't seen or heard any of the press conference during the day, and I was at practice for the evening, but when I turned on the radio on my way home, I caught some of NPR's 'special coverage' of their summit, and I can't describe their attitude, comments, tonality, as anything other than comically over the top, even chortling with glee over Trump's comments which they more than hinted at being utterly inept, disgraceful and seemingly approaching 'treasonous', that I couldn't take them seriously, at least not without actually hearing the press conference.

    When I got home, I googled up some news stories on it, and the Leftist side of the media aisle was fully compatible with NPR's take. And the view from the Right wasn't all that different. Fox's Trish Regan (sorry, no idea who she is... or much of anyone else still on the channel) had a clip saying:
    "This was clearly not [President Trump's] best performance. He's done a whole lot better than this. He should have defended us. He should have defended his own intelligence community."
    , and it went downhill from there. Again, lots of exuberant commentary, but... not much substance.

    It was getting late, and I really wasn't in the mood, but... this seemed like something I'd better bother with, so I pulled up the full uncut video, from CNN, and the transcript from NPR, and watched.

    WTH? I was promised weakness, ineptitude, 'treasonous statements!', and all of that was supposed to come out of this? Seriously? Worst of all, late as it is, here I'm at it, once again, having to stick up for someone that I've dislike since the 1980's, someone I'd much rather had lost the primaries in 2016, but... this spiel is not only wrong, but these wrongs are consequential to our lives, and so... here I go again, seeing to it that the wrongs are addressed. Sheesh.

    From his prepared statement, I took issue with one statement, which I'll note below, that I think improperly brought domestic political disputes into an a discussion of international affairs, which was unwise and bad form. But... it wasn't all that. Or, IOW, Trump. Go figure. And the other issue was less a problem with what he said, but that he said it in the midst of a larger comment, that was way too easily one to be taken out of context. He knows better than that.

    But first, from his statement, he made several decent points, and made the usual statements about the importance of good dialogue between America and Russia, and that,
    From the earliest days of our republic, American leaders have understood that diplomacy and engagement is preferable to conflict and hostility.

    A productive dialogue is not only good for the United States and good for Russia but it is good for the world. The disagreements between our two countries are well-known and President Putin and I discussed them at length today.

    But if we're going to solve many of the problems facing our world, then we're going to have to find ways to cooperate in pursuit of shared interests. Too often in both recent past and long ago, we have seen the consequences when diplomacy is left on the table....
    , and also that,
    "... But our relationship has never been worse than it is now.

    However, that changed, as of about four hours ago...."
    Which you'd think would be encouraging, but which was unfortunately followed by what I mentioned above as an actual fault on his part:
    "...As president, I cannot make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics, or the media, or Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct..."
    , that statement should have ended at "or the media", full stop. He never should have brought in issues of domestic politics into his statement at the press conference after an important international discussion. Yes the press was going to, but he should have left that to their own bad form. Bad Trump.

    But that too, was followed shortly after by quite a good line, one that you'd think would be appreciated by all concerned,
    "...Constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia afford the opportunity to open new pathways toward peace and stability in our world.

    I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics.

    As president, I will always put what is best for America and what is best for the American people...."
    On the issue that plagues the minds of media and NeverTrump'rs Left & Right, 'Russian interference!' in our elections, Trump stated that,
    "...During today's meeting, I addressed directly with President Putin the issue of Russian interference in our elections.

    I felt this was a message best delivered in person. I spent a great deal of time talking about it and President Putin may very well want to address it and very strongly, because he feels very strongly about it and he has an interesting idea...."
    Given the fact that our own investigations into the alleged issue are still ongoing, and that zero evidence has been presented of actual the dread 'Russian Collusion!', that was all I, and I think most people needed or cared to see. Repeating: The investigation is still ongoing, there are no charges to be made, until there are charges actually made.

    President Trump went on to mention other issues that might take some precedence over the medias preferred 'Russia!" narrative, like nuclear proliferation, the denuclearization of North Korea, and radical Islamic terrorism, and also that,
    "...As we discussed at length, the crisis in Syria is a complex one...."
    , keeping in mind that Trump has already bombed Putin's best mid eastern bud, Assad, and that,
    "...I also made clear that the United States will not allow Iran to benefit from our successful campaign against ISIS. We have just about eradicated ISIS in the area...."
    , and keeping in mind that Trump cancelled the Iran 'treaty'(an unsigned, pitiful, agreement), and  concluded with
    "...This was a very constructive few hours that we spent together.

    It's in the interest of both of our countries to continue our conversation and we have agreed to do so...."
    That was on the whole a solid statement of the situation, and a reasonable expectation for starting towards improving relations. I've no problem with it, other than what I noted. Do you? If so, could you add a comment which references what in particular you have issue with?

    Then the press dove in. The first made an effort to stir the pot, concluding with,
    "And the second question, before the meeting with President Putin, you called him an adversary, a rival, and yet you expressed hope that you will be able to bring this relationship to a new level. Did you manage to do this?"
    And for those who wanted Trump to 'STAND UP TO PUTIN!!!", I think he corrected the reporter, and set the right tone for that,
    TRUMP: No, actually I called him a competitor and a good competitor he is.

    And I think the word competitor is a compliment. I think that we will be competing, when you talk about the pipeline. I'm not sure necessarily that it's in the best interest of Germany or not but that was a decision that they made.

    We'll be competing. As you know the United States is now or soon will be, but I think it actually is right now, the largest in the oil and gas world...."
    Then we got a delightful does of Reuters:
    REUTERS: Thank you. Mr. President, you tweeted this morning that it's U.S. foolishness, stupidity, and the Mueller probe that is responsible for the decline in U.S. relations with Russia. Do you hold Russia at all accountable or anything in particular? And if so, what would you what would you consider them that they are responsible for?
    Not only was that a misstatement and conflation of what Trump said, but it ignored the fact that Trump already stated in his statement, that they had discussed points of deep disagreement over, and which he hoped progress would be made.

    WTH else did they expect? Did they want Trump to curse Putin out, and maybe shove him off his podium? Did they want Trump to behave as the thug like to fantasize about him being?

    Instead he answered, in part:
    TRUMP: Yes I do. I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time frankly before I got to office. And I think we're all to blame.

    I think that the United States now has stepped forward, along with Russia, and we're getting together and we have a chance to do some great things...
    , and,
    "...But I do feel that we have both made some mistakes. I think that the, the probe is a disaster for our country. I think it's kept us apart, it's kept us separated. There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it...
    , for those who are upset that he said that we've made mistakes, I'm sorry, but I remember Bush doing nothing when Putin ransacked Georgia, and I remember Obama doing virtually nothing with Ukraine/Crimea - those were major mistakes of U.S. policy. He went on to give his very well known positions on the matter. The reporter continued,
    REPORTER: For President Putin, if I could follow up as well. Why should Americans and why should President Trump believe your statement that Russia did not intervene in the 2016 election, given the evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies have provided? And will you consider extraditing the 12 Russian officials that were indicted last week by a U.S. grand jury?...
    Trump replied, but if you've heard him discuss the matter at all, it was more of his known opinions on the matter. But Putin's response was interesting:
    PUTIN: As to who is to be believed and to who is not to be believed, you can trust no one – if you take this — where did you get this idea that President Trump trusts me or I trust him?

    He defends the interests of the United States of America. And I do defend the interests of the Russian Federation. We do have interests that are common.

    We are looking for points of contact. There are issues where our postures diverge and we are looking for ways to reconcile our differences, how to make our effort more meaningful....
    This is not only gold,
    "where did you get this idea that President Trump trusts me or I trust him?"
    , but it should be the starting point of every one's thoughts on such issues, and if it isn't, if it's too much for you to grasp or consider, you really ought not to be discussing the matter at all. Putin is an ex-KGB officer, if you think that we can trust him, or that he has our best interests at heart, then you are a fool. He doesn't trust us, and we shouldn't trust him. But unfortunately he is the thug who's the ruler of the nuclear power of Russia, and to the extent that we can find areas where our interests align, then we do need to try and find a way to work together on them. Calling him names, isn't going to be helpful in that regard. But he also went on to make a couple other statements, that I suspect infuriate the media and talking heads a lot more than anything that Trump said, and which Trump is catching the heat for:
    ",,,We should be guided by facts. Could you name a single fact that definitively prove that collusion? This is utter nonsense.,,,"
    , and to answer that with the extent of information that the Mueller investigation has so far revealed, the answer is: No, you cannot name a single fact that proves 'collusion'. Period. But it gets better. Putin went on to note that we do have existing treaties for extradition and interrogation of witnesses, and that of his 12 intelligence officers that Mueller recently indicted,
    "...We can offer the appropriate commission headed by special attorney Mueller.

    He can use this treaty as a solid foundation and send a formal and official request to us so that we would interrogate, we would hold the questioning of these individuals who he believes are privy to some crimes and our enforcement are perfectly able to do this questioning and send the appropriate materials to the United States.

    Moreover, we can meet you halfway. We can make another step. We can actually permit official representatives of the United States, including the members of this very commission headed by Mr. Mueller, we can lead them into the country and they will be present for this questioning...."
    , but the kicker, to the heads of the NeverTrump'rs Left & Right, was that he 'is aware' that some of Russia's official 'colluded' with American officials, including Hillary:
    ...we believe have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia. And we have to request the presence of our law enforcement.

    For instance, we can bring up Mr. Browder in this particular case. Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned over one and a half billion dollars in Russia. They never paid any taxes, neither in Russian army in the United States and yet the money escaped the country, they were transferred to the United States.

    They sent huge amount of money - 400 million - as a contribution to the campaign of Hillary Clinton.

    Well, that's their personal case, it might have been legal, the contribution itself, but the way the money was earned was illegal.

    So we have a solid reason to believe that some intelligence officers accompanied and guided these transactions. So we have an interest of questioning them. That can be a first step and we can also extend it. Options abound.

    And they all can be found in an appropriate legal framework.
    That's kinda a big deal. Even after you de-Pravadize it... that's a big deal. And it's my guess that that is what most of the uproar over this summit has really been about.

    There was then some interesting (in a non-sensational way) geo-political questions and answers, until the AP Reporter brought us back to as much sensationalism as he could muster, and which prompted the excessive answer from Trump, that was easily taken out of context to make it sound like he was taking Putin's word, over U.S. Intelligence agencies:
    REPORTER, AP: President Trump, you first. Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. My first question for you sir is, who do you believe? My second question is would you now, with the whole world watching, tell President Putin, would you denounce what happened in 2016 and would you want him to never do it again?
    And Trump of course jumped in with both feet, beginning with,
    TRUMP: So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why haven't they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee?

    I've been wondering that. I've been asking that for months and months..."
    , and he continued on with more questions about missing servers and emails, and with this being followed by his previous statement that "...I addressed directly with President Putin the issue of Russian interference in our elections..." and that "...I spent a great deal of time talking about it and President Putin may very well want to address it and very strongly...", with that in mind, he then said a few lines, of which only the middle two are taken note of, sans that context:
    "...With that being said, all I can do is ask the question.

    My people came to me, Dan Coates, came to me and some others they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia.

    I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server but I have, I have confidence in both parties...."
    The obvious meaning of that, to me, and to most who don't have an abscess on their conspiracy glands, he's saying in essence, that "I've already told him that I'm pissed off about this, and such stuff had better end. I've told him that, he's denied involvement, whadoyouwannametodo, slap him around some?! We've accused him, he's denied it. Until we've got facts, we can go no further. But there are facts out there, and believe you me, I want those servers full of facts found!'

    If you're able to view that entire press conference, and come away from it as President Trump saying he's best buds, lackey even, to Putin... well unless you can point to me the comments, in context, from the transcript that backs you up, then I've gotta say, that you have zero credibility in what you are saying.

    But, hey. I could be wrong. How about you prove it?

    Treason update:
    For those who're still on the 'Treason!' kick, it might be worth your while to look into, you know, what Treason is defined as in our Constitution, Article 3, Section 3, Clauses 1 and 2, which is this:
    "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

    The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."
    , and if you're curious why they came to that definition (which, interestingly, relies heavily on how an English King from the 1300's, Edward III, defined it), you can 'listen' to the framers discussing and debating what our Constitution would define as being treasonous, here,which begins with,
    "Mr. Madison, thought the definition too narrow. It did not appear to go as far as the Stat. of Edwd. III. He did not see why more latitude might not be left to the Legislature. It wd. be as safe as in the hands of State legislatures; and it was inconvenient to bar a discretion which experience might enlighten, and which might be applied to good purposes as well as be abused.


    Mr Mason was for pursuing the Stat: of Edwd. III.

    Mr. Govr Morris was for giving to the Union an exclusive right ..."
    Hopefully, if you're interested in bandying about charges of 'Treason!', you'll take the few minutes necessary to give that a look over.

    And if you really care about how that applies to the real world, as my friend Jim asked: "Contextually, what is considered Aid and Comfort?", which is a very good question, and it seems that our Supreme Court has generally concluded that such a thing requires actions be taken, which... personally, I'm not so sure giving a press conference qualifies there, but that may just be me. But see for yourself, in this interesting commentary on the matter from a SCOTUS opinion during WWII, CRAMER v. UNITED STATES:
    ' "...Treason of adherence to an enemy was old in the law. It consisted of breaking allegiance to one's own King by forming an attachment to his enemy. Its scope was comprehensive, its requirements indeterminate. It might be predicated on intellecutal or emotional sympathy with the for, or merely lack of zeal in the cause of one's own country. That was not the kind of disloyalty the framers thought should constitute treason. They promptly accepted the proposal to restrict it to cases where also there was conduct which was 'giving them aid and comfort.'

    Aid and comfort' was defined by Lord Reading in the Casement trial comprehensively, as it should be, and yet probably with as much precision as the nature of the matter will permit: '* * * an act which strengthens or tends to strengthen the enemies of the King in the conduct of a war against the King, that is in law the giving of aid and comfort' and 'an act which weakens or tends to weaken the power of the King and of the country to resist or to attack the enemies of the King and the country * * * is * * * giving of aid and comfort.' Lord Reading explained it, as we think one must, in terms of an 'act.' It is not easy, if indeed possible, to think of a way in which 'aid and comfort' and be 'given' to an enemy except by some kind of action. Its very nature partakes of a deed or physical activity as opposed to a mental operation.

    Thus the crime of treason consists of two elements: adherence to the enemy; and rendering him aid and comfort. A citizen intellectually or emotionally may favor the enemy and harbor sympathies or convictions disloyal to this country's policy or interest, but so long as he commits no act of aid and comfort to the enemy, there is no treason. On the other hand, a citizen may take actions, which do aid and comfort the enemy—making a speech critical of the government or opposing its measures, profiteering, striking in defense plants or essential work, and the hundred other things which impair our cohesion and diminish our strength but if there is no adherence to the enemy in this, if there is no intent to betray, there is no treason...."
    Hope that helps!

    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!