Tuesday, June 12, 2018

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

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

But first, a couple housecleaning points:

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

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

No?

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

So?

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

Either way, that's sad.

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

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

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

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

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

Sad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is any of that true?

Who the hell knows?!

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

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

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

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

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

/rant

Monday, May 28, 2018

Remembering Memorial Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why did they do it? What did it mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Sunday, April 29, 2018

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

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

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

Best of all: None of that matters!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From TWEETS!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I'm lovin' it!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Alfie Evans, and Hannah Arendt's Banality of Evil

Just a couple of days ago, I shared a post about Hannah Arendt's commentary on the trial of the captured Nazi, Adolph Eichmann, in "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil" . What struck her about him, was the unexpectedly meek bureaucratic demeanor of his thinking, which she famously called the 'banality of evil'. Arendt took a lot of criticism over that comment, from people who thought that her failure to call him out as the snarling and fanged monster which they'd expected, was somehow letting him off the hook. I can't help wondering if their desire to be presented with nothing less than a clearly identifiable monster mask, itself masked a desire to be kept from noticing those very real evils that our modern norms have been letting slip passed us, unnoticed in the street, the classroom and the workplace. The efforts of the UK's National Health Service (NHS) to put the infant Alfie Evans to death, is an excellent example of this (efforts which 'paid off' last night).

That 'banality of evil', it seems to me, can be seen loitering in plain sight amidst the news headlines and updated reports on the experiences of Alfie Evans' family, with Britain's 'govt provided health care' service - that same service which we're told that all 'modern industrial societies' must provide to their citizens. In their case, 'free health care', has doomed their unwell infant, to die in the 'care' of the NHS, on their terms, according to their calculations - no matter the choices of his parents, and without regard to what expenses and aid that other people, and even nations, might be willing to provide in their stead. Take for instance, this press release, which reads like what might be a regurgitated mission statement, of their hospital:
"Our top priority therefore remains in ensuring Alfie receives the care he deserves to ensure his comfort, dignity and privacy are maintained throughout. This includes working closely with Kate and Tom as they spend this precious time together with him."
In case you missed it, that's a carefully worded bureaucratic way of saying,
"Everyone please calm down, and let us give Kate and Tom some quality time with their child, as we force them to stand helplessly by as we follow procedure and put little Alfie to death."
This statement smacks of what Hannah Arendt described as Eichmann's ‘inability to think’, an inability to connect words to deeds in a logically coherent manner, not out of stupidity, but from an effort to evade intentionality. Can you not see the hospital's quote above, in her quote below?
"I was struck by the manifest shallowness in the doer [ie Eichmann] which made it impossible to trace the uncontestable evil of his deeds to any deeper level of roots or motives. The deeds were monstrous, but the doer – at least the very effective one now on trial – was quite ordinary, commonplace, and neither demonic nor monstrous."
, and within that, there lurks a devastating critique of our modern world's ability to mask even the most horrifying of evils - and putting a child to death in front of its parents under a pretense of caring, has got to rank high on such a list - wrapped in layer after layer of passively worded cliches, in such a way that our systems enable the vast majority of us to dismiss our concerns about what IS is, brushing aside 'middle class' concerns over what is and isn't true, and pooh-poohing notions of 'Right & Wrong' - that fog is what has slipped into all of our lives, as the purest of evils go unremarked under the cover of their concerning boring and irrelevant issues, totally unworthy of consideration.

You see, IMHO, Eichmann's problem wasn't so much that he had an ‘inability to think’, as that he had chosen much earlier in his life, not to think, he had chosen to not bother with the business of integrating what he thought, with what he did, could, and should, know was in reality true. That is a choice - a lesson that is drilled into us to make from Kindergarten to College - which untethers your mind from reality, encouraging and permitting (in all of us) just about any action, so long as it doesn't cause a stir. Monsters, you see, are only monstrous because of how they appear, if someone looks and sounds like a monster, then they are a monster. But the real monsters of modernity work their horrors in the most unremarkable, mundane and utilitarian sorts of everyday actions, which we all thoughtlessly engage in, and people you probably have contact with every day, and those nice sounding policies which you might support, involve us all in choosing to produce these actions of purest evil, and they go unnoticed, because we've been taught to brush off that one thing which makes recognizing (or caring about) such evils a possibility for us - a decent regard for what is True.

Here's another instance of that distillate of evil, from the UK's Telegraph, that brings little Alfie Evans, and us, face to face with Arendt's 'Banality of Evil', in all its blandly bureaucratic darkness:
"...But a doctor treating Alfie, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said that for Alfie to be allowed home would require a "sea change" in attitude from the child's family, and they feared that in the "worst case" they would try to take the boy abroad...."
Here again we have an example of what I think that Hannah Arendt was talking about: we have a Doctor, someone who presumably set out to commit to the Hippocratic ideal of 'first do no harm', who, in the face of parents being forced to endure and witness the forced circumstances of their child's death, has casually turned away from that reality which he's directly involved in, and instead makes an aside of political commentary to a reporter, anonymous and off the record of course (thanks legal system!), in a very matter of fact manner, as 'this whole fuss' being an unfortunate reality of the institutional process which is the norm. This 'healer' gives little or no thought to the evil he's participating in, but instead notes the uninteresting points which the process requires, and in which the 'real problem' is one of Public Relations, rather than the rights, interests and well being of either the parents or Alfie, and Alfie's life is the token price the system requires, in order to continue functioning. For the greater good. One can easily imagine the doctor, and no doubt various levels of the hospital's administrative staff, dutifully making notations about various factors in this case, likely filling in one blank, then another, and then, perhaps as you may have recently done when filling out your IRS 1040 Form, they dutifully total up lines 1 & 2 , and then check the appropriate box indicating whether or not the filled in blanks meet the requirements for option A (Life), or option B (Death). 'There now, that's done. Next case.'

The concerns of the hospital and the helthcare system which a great many of Britain's people had clamored for, is for their well being. Systems have been drawn up and written down. Decisions are made according to its rules, far away in time and place from the human beings involved, so that totalling up lines 1 & 2 is all that will really matter, once the machine rolls around to the here and now. What is important to them, they've surely told themselves, is that their needs will be attended to, that's the important thing, so important in fact, that the results of lines 1 & 2 just might require the system to kill you, or your baby, for the greater good, in order for the NHS to ensure your comfort, dignity and privacy. And after all, such things are what's really important, right?

It is when we turn away from what is real, true and important, to favor the things we urgently desire, and place decisions about them outside of the active concerns of human hands, that a people end up cheerfully bargaining away the last vestiges of the Individual Rights inherent in their humanity. We will do so in return for a guarantee of those needful things, and we will do so, will demand to do so, because the efficiency of that system is 'trusted' to be just the common sense thing that all 'modern industrial societies' need to provide for their people - and that somehow it will be magically able to do so. That is exactly what is being put in place when, as Kira Davis put it :
"... a nation votes for socialist healthcare they are agreeing to let the government treat their lives as algorithms..."
People, like the healer quoted above, had better prepare themselves for when those who're distributing 'needs' to 'the people!', will do so in a way that totals up the results of lines 1 & 2 for them, for in the world of socialized medicine, by necessity, people, their rights and responsibilities, are exchanged for those inhuman calculations that are more appropriate to balance sheets (and conveniently making "...it impossible to trace the uncontestable evil of his deeds to any deeper level of roots or motives..." in order to satisfy the 'needs' of all. Once that system is put in place, those same people will enter into a world where they, their lives and their rights, will be exchanged for something very different. Kira concludes:
"Sadly, Alfie – and little Charlie Gard before him – is doomed to be the sacrificial lamb at the altars of pride and socialism.

You will never convince me that this is right in any way. Never.

Because what this is… this is nothing short of real, actual, genuine evil."
The reality is, that once you remove the bureaucratese, and the media, and the politics, then what will be revealed to you is that whichever mask you've chosen to mask reality with, that of banality, or of a fanged monstrosity, what has been laying under either disguise, is what you've been trying to hide from all along: Evil.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Restoring Federalism with the "State Powers Amendment"

On Tuesday morning, April 24, 2018, the Missouri 'Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee' will be holding a hearing on SCR 48, State Powers Amendment, which is a proposed amendment that (originally proposed by my friend Lloyd Thomas Sloan), more than any other proposal I've seen to date, has the potential to undo the damage which the last century has done to our system of government. If you can't attend, submit a witness form to make your voice heard.

Here's what I submitted:
"Several witness statements have gone into detail on the workings of the State Powers Amendment, and so I'd like to focus on what I see as being the most important aspect of this proposed amendment: That it returns a measure of influence and power in the Federal Govt, to the states, which has been largely absent for a century now.

Prior to the passage of the 17th Amendment, most states still had their state legislators elect their senators, which meant that a senator who hoped to be elected, or re-elected, had to be familiar with the relatively small number of legislators in their state, who directly represented their constituents. Candidates for the Senate had to be knowledgeable about their concerns and expectations of their state legislators, they had to address them in good faith and maintain their respect, or risk losing their senatorial office. Meaningful campaigning, meant engaging in and maintaining those conversations and relationships, it consumed little time and even less expense, and substantive discussions could be had, and worthwhile decisions could be made, with relatively little in the way of concern for misleading publicity tactics and empty, but crowd pleasing, speeches.

Since the passage of the 17th Amendment, our federal Senators no longer need to worry about a relative handful of state legislators (and less so their constituents), they no longer need to worry about the opinions of those who intimately know the real interests of our state, now they only need worry about using a political campaign machine to mouth attention getting sound bites to millions of voters at a distance, appealing only to the most shallow and attention getting of statements (the soundness of which matters little) knowing full well that if they can just raise enough funds to plaster enough meaningless drivel around the state, they won't need to engage in anything more substantial than having to smile on a tractor, or in a diner, in order to collect the votes needed to secure THEIR power in Washington D.C.

This State Powers Amendment, with its very credible threat from a Representative Majority of States having the power to repeal legislation, and regulations, which are perceived to go against the interests of their state legislators, would go a long ways towards turning the interests of the States into a power to be reckoned with again, in Washington D.C.

And not only would the interests of a Representative Majority of States be of interest to our federal legislators, but with its ability to also impact the " the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and all inferior courts and tribunals of the United States", the courts, and the bureaucracy, would also discover a newfound need to respect the interests and preferences of the several states."
Submit your Witness Form here

The Senate Rules Committee

The Chair is Senator Kehoe (Room 321 at the Capitol)
The phone is (573) 751-2076

If you are in Missouri, call or submit a Witness Form Tuesday morning. If you do not live in Missouri, contact your state legislators about proposing the same in your state. Unlike many other proposals in recent years, this one is doable.

Just do it!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Americans vs America - To Keep and Bear Arms Across Time - pt4

America, and Americans - what do they have left in common? If that strikes you as an odd question to ask, you probably haven't taken a public position (as I've been doing in these recent posts) on something like the the 1st, or 2nd Amendments to our Constitution. Do that, and I think you'll quickly notice, as in these examples below, how divided we now are by the very ideas that once defined us:
  • On our college campus's, opposing views are increasingly being met not with the force of persuasion, but the persuasion of force:
    "...A controversial conservative commentator was escorted by police from California State University, Los Angeles as angry demonstrators protested his presence on campus Thursday afternoon...."
  • in the state of California, a State Senator has proposed infringing upon the freedom of speech, by proposing a bill, SB1424, to have the state approve which news is fit to print:
    "...This bill would require any person who operates a social media, as defined, Internet Web site with a physical presence in California to develop a strategic plan to verify news stories shared on its Web site. The bill would require the plan to include, among other things, a plan to mitigate the spread of false information through news stories, the utilization of fact-checkers to verify news stories, providing outreach to social media users, and placing a warning on a news story containing false information...."
  • Dana Loesch is a clear example of how exercising those rights that are protected under the 1st Amendment, in support of those protected by the 2nd Amendment, can result in not only a barrage of tweets and shouts for you to be raped and murdered (non-violently, of course), but it can also leave you in need of physical protection to escape those who'd physically like to harm you:
    "..."I had to have a security detail to get out," she said of the Sunrise, Fla. event. "I wouldn't be able to exit that if I didn't have a private security detail. There were people rushing the stage and screaming burn her. And I came there to talk solutions and I still am going to continue that conversation on solutions as the NRA has been doing since before I was alive."..."
  • Even the idea of Americans being 'United' is dividing us, as this 'think piece' that was endorsed by the CEO of Twitter as a "Great Read", which yearns for one party rule, the end of the GOP, while promoting California as the role model for a new 'peaceful' Civil War to banish 'The Right' from power, and from 'respectable' society. If you doubt that, just take note that part 4 of this 'great read', is subtitled:
    "Why there’s no bipartisan way forward at this juncture in our history — one side must win"
These are not simply emotional outbursts that've been stirred up in public gatherings, they are the results of persistent, considered intellectual positions that have been percolating up from academia, and have been spilling out into our mainstream conversations for decades. Some recent examples can be found in last year's debates over whether it was ok to "Punch a Nazi" (with the implication being that violence as political speech is ok, if you happen to think of the other side as being a Nazi, or in sympathy with them), or the New York Times' opinion piece calling to "Repeal the 2nd Amendment", and of course we recently had a retired Supreme Court Justice writing an op-ed in that same 'newspaper of record', calling to Repeal the 2nd Amendment, on the basis of public opinion - or at least that part of the public that agrees with him - rather than on the basis of those American ideals which the Constitution was written to preserve, protect and defend.

As I say, it's easy to see what divides us today - but how easy is it for Americans of today to see what it was that once united us, and how?

Back at the time of our founding, America was 13 colonies of people who then, as now, held often radically different views and interests, and were prone to dislike and distrust the people in those 'other' colonies. How were they able to unite? Today, more than ever, that's a question worth re-asking.

Ideas, not positions, united us
When Thomas Jefferson took up the task of writing the Declaration of Independence, he intended it to express ideas that were common to the American mind,
"...Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion. All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c...."

Gorsuch vs Thomas: An object lesson in Constitutionally rooted disagreement

Wow. USA Today ran the headline of this SCOTUS decision on immigration law as "Neil Gorsuch sides with liberals to tip decision to immigrant in Supreme Court deportation case", which seems like a selective bit of spin, to say the least. But it did get my attention, and so I began, and am still reading, the opposing opinions  in "Sessions v. Dimaya" of Justice Gorsuch (for, beginning on pdf pg 31) and Justice Thomas (against, beginning on pdf pg 65), and I tell you what:This is good reading!

As I began reading Gorsuch's opinion, I was nodding at nearly every point, with a sense of "How can you argue against that?".

And then as I read Thomas's opinion, he resoundingly struck back at each of those points - not so much by arguing against those points, but by going for a wider and deeper context which leaves them seeming to be less than decisive as relevant points, and I find myself thinking "ooOoohhh. Ah. I guess that's how... hmmm...".

At this point I'm not so sure of my take on it yet, and though I do have the sense that Thomas is going for the deeper substance, but I will have to beg off of agreeing or disagreeing with either one until I can take some real time with comparing one's point to the other's counterpoint, but I tell you what - if you want to see what it means to argue a point of law where both sides are respectful of the Constitution, you could do a lot worse than starting with these two.

What's more, I'm betting that a large number of coming Supreme Court decisions are going to hinge upon the balancing points of these two Justices' arguments.

From Gorsuch's opening: 
"Vague laws invite arbitrary power. Before the Revolution, the crime of treason in English law was so capaciously construed that the mere expression of disfavored opinions could invite transportation or death. The founders cited the crown’s abuse of “pretended” crimes like this as one of their reasons for revolution. See Declaration of Independence ¶21. Today’s vague laws may not be as invidious, but they can invite the exercise of arbitrary power all the same—by leaving the people in the dark about what the law demands and allowing prosecutors and courts to make it up.
The law before us today is such a law...."
, and from Thomas's conclusion:
"...Surely the Court cannot credibly invoke stare decisis to defend the categorical approach—the same approach it says only a “lunatic” would continue to apply. Ante, at 24. If the Court views the categorical approach that way—the same way Johnson viewed it—then it must also agree that “[s]tanding by [the categorical approach] would undermine, rather than promote, the goals that stare decisis is meant to serve.” 576 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 15). That is especially true if the Court’s decision leads to the invalidation of scores of similarly worded state and federal statutes, which seems even more likely after today than it did after Johnson. Instead of adhering to an interpretation that it thinks unconstitutional and then using that interpretation to strike down another statute, the Court should have taken this opportunity to abandon the categorical approach for §16(b) once and for all.
* * *
The Court’s decision today is triply flawed. It unnecessarily extends our incorrect decision in Johnson. It uses a constitutional doctrine with dubious origins to invalidate yet another statute (while calling into question countless more). And it does all this in the name of a statutory interpretation that we should have discarded long ago. Because I cannot follow the Court down any of these rabbit holes, I respectfully dissent. "
I wish all of our SCOTUS opinions were of this quality. Dare to dream!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Yes, Liberty IS more important than safety.

If you are someone who'd march in public carrying this sign while protesting our 2nd Amendment, then you are probably someone who's spent more time marching than studying their history, and far more time yammering about 'Rights!' than thinking about what they mean, and mean to our lives.
Why yes, yes it is.

To give the bullet point answer to their question 'is freedom more valuable than safety?', the answer is:

  • Yes.
Yes, and what's more, Liberty is more important than safety. Not only should that not be a surprising answer, it shouldn't be a new answer, to you, since America would not exist at all, if we hadn't agreed on that answer at the very beginning of our nation. If that surprises you, as History typically surprises those who fail to attend to it, here's a snippet from the end of what was once a well known speech from the time of our nation's founding, by Patrick Henry:
"... What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
, if you're unsure of why he ended his speech with that, the beginning (and the rest) might clue you in:
"...I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do, opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely, and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offence, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings...."
I know that there are some of you who are rolling your eyes at this, and at the picture of Patrick Henry's speech. You should take note of that. If such ideas are alien to you, then however born and raised in America you may be, however legal your residency might be, the idea of America is alien to you. Please consider becoming a 'dreamer' on some other country's hospitality. Canada perhaps. Or maybe New Zealand.

For as Samuel Adams put it:
"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Maturity, Immaturity, and Pro-Regressing

A society, knowing that there is no clear line that covers all, sets a legal age where you are expected to be, and are capable of, having the maturity of judgment to behave as an adult. That age has been set at 13 (where the body begins taking on adult form), 18 (where the body has mostly achieved adult form), and for less apparent reasons, at 21 (with the idea being that the human maturation process occurs in 7yr cycles, with the end of the 3rd cycle marking the maturity of a person's ability to reason, and so the beginning of adulthood).

That's not 'discrimination' (though it IS, in its best sense), or creating a 'protected class', but setting general standards for legal purposes. Our society, with it's bizarre gaggle of legal 'adulthood' ages of 18, 21, 26, and more, with many limitations and qualifiers upon each... clearly has no sense of there being a standard beyond anything other than its useful political value (which, today, is the only standard of 'standards' that we will tolerate).

Car rental companies use actuarial statistics to define that the age that is the least likely to wreck their cars is 25. Is there statistical evidence to show that 21yr olds' are less likely to shoot someone than 18yr olds? I don't know. And I not only seriously doubt that Dick's, etc, knows or cares if there is, but on top of that, they've got no financial or liability interest in trying to set their own policy for it. It's an ideological PR stunt that's designed to strike out against the 2nd Amendment, nothing more.

Do they have the Right to say that they won't sell rifles to someone under 21? Sure they do. But they have no more right to do so - that being their individual right to use their own judgment - than a baker has for not wanting to make a wedding cake to celebrate what they see as a mockery of marriage, or than a bigoted organization or business who decides that they only want to cater to non-whites, or only whites, or ____(fill in the despicable blank).

The actual issue involved here, is the pretense of having a standard, in order to justify using your own judgement, while also claiming the political power to deny that right to others whose judgment you disapprove of, and wish to use the power of the state to deny them that right.

If you are for forcing bakers to sell wedding cakes to homosexual weddings, and for allowing businesses to set their own arbitrary age limits for selling their wares, you are only for using force to enforce your judgment upon all, and at the expense of everyone's individual right to use their own judgment in the conduct of their lives. Ironically, that is using your emotional preferences, to override what is reasonable to do, which is what an 'age of maturity' is designed to safeguard society from.

That's not political progress, it is in fact acting in opposition to the greatest leap in political progress in 3,000 years - that of barring the state from arbitrarily imposing upon the individual rights of its citizens.

IOW, you are a Pro-Regressive.