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.

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.


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 " 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.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Our Individual Rights weren't constitutionally protected to reduce crime, but to preserve them against tyranny - reducing crime is no justification for reducing our rights

I've made this point about the 2nd Amendment several times before, but too often it's been swallowed up whole in one of my ten page posts, never to be seen or heard from again. During an unrelated thread yesterday, on how good people can do bad things and yet still think well of themselves, this point came back up, and as the perspective was appreciated by a friend who I very much disagree with politically (he still doesn't agree with me, but, even better, it prompted him to give the issue some further thought), I thought I'd essentially re-post it here as a short stand alone post. A friend of my friend replied to me:
"...And at risk of a tangent, I would say that is precisely why I don't buy into the whole idea that we need more "good guys with guns." More people with guns means more people using them to kill, commit suicide, and have accidents."
My reply to that, was:

That is a bit tangential, but I'll go straight to the heart of it: If you were to somehow present me with proof that one or another limitation upon the 2nd Amendment would 'work' to reduce crime, suicides, murders or ease any other societal ill, my opposition to them would remain unchanged. Why? Because neither the 2nd Amendment, nor any other of our essential individual rights that are protected by our Bill of Rights, are there for anything having to do with crime, reducing criminal behavior, or any other failure in our society - that's not their purpose, and proposing limitations to any of those rights, in order to solve issues that are at best tangential to their purpose, is a non-starter.

Those individual rights that are protected in our Bill of Rights, serve two purposes,
1) to preserve each person's ability to live as human beings, and
2) establish an impassible barrier to any tyranny rising to power: if people can speak, associate, worship, discuss, be secure in their homes and property, secure from judicial harassment and able to defend their lives and other rights from assault, then no nascent tyranny can ever rise up any further than its hands & knees.

Parallel to the central purpose of the 2nd Amendment, is that it ensures that each person is able to defend themselves from any personal threat, be it by bear, mugger, mob (or tyrannical govt), by keeping and baring the arms (and guns are but one of many options protected as Arms) which they deem most suitable for them to do so with.

We will never be able to prevent people from making poor, wrong, or evil choices, and attempting to limit their access to one particular technology for putting those choices into action, is simply folly. The issue is a human one, not a technological one, and the solutions to that are to be found in philosophy, morality and education, not law. What we can do though, is enable those on the receiving end of another's unjust actions, to defend themselves, rather than ensure that they are left defenseless in the face of them.

Contrary to the notion that I was going against "...empirical evidence on this issue", what I am stating, is that empirical evidence such as that, is irrelevant to this issue. The 2nd Amendment is no more about crime, than the 4th Amendment (police needing a warrant to search your home, etc) is. No doubt lives could be saved, and crime greatly reduced... if the police possessed the unfettered power to search anywhere, anytime, on a hunch; would you support that? Again, I would not, because reducing crime and saving lives is not the purpose of that, or any other amendment in our Bill of Rights - only preserving our rights, and thwarting tyranny, is.

Reducing crime and saving lives IS our business, as members of a community, but doing that takes real, sensible, persistent effort, to accomplish (involving, IMHO, philosophy, morality & education), and there's no easy fix to them, and especially not through laws (anymore than making drugs illegal, has eliminated drug abuse), and especially not by hobbling or eliminating our ability to think and act as we can best judge to.
I'll resist the urge to expand upon that, and let it go there... for now.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Dear America: Guns aren't your problem, You are. To Keep and Bear Arms Across Time - pt3

What do you think of when thinking about the 2nd Amendment? I've said what I think of: what the meaning of the 2nd Amendment is, I think of those objections I have to both those who're promoting something they call 'gun rights!', and 'gun control!', and of how I think its opponents evade honest discussions through ideological falsehoods and evasions for political gains. But that's me - what comes to your mind when you think of the 2nd Amendment? Are you, like many, one of those who think about shooting statistics and reducing crime numbers through common sense gun policies and laws?

Personally, I'm most definitely not thinking about statistics, in any way, when thinking about the 2nd Amendment. But for those of you who do, it probably wouldn't surprise you to learn that I welcome those who, having once relied upon such statistical studies arguing for 'common sense gun regulations', have since had their views on their effectiveness changed, by the very statistics they once used to justify imposing various restrictions upon the 2nd Amendment, with. This former believer and researcher, who revised her position to say that 'gun control' does not work, is a good example of that:
"...Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate me. I wished the National Rifle Association would stop blocking common-sense gun-control reforms such as banning assault weapons, restricting silencers, shrinking magazine sizes and all the other measures that could make guns less deadly....."
, and that,
"...I researched the strictly tightened gun laws in Britain and Australia and concluded that they didn't prove much about what America's policy should be. .... And in both Australia and Britain, the gun restrictions had an ambiguous effect on other gun-related crimes or deaths...."
You might of course believe that your own review of the 'statistical facts' leads you to conclude that your 'gun control' methods would, or even do work, as this delightful manufacturer of two faced straw man arguments claims. But perhaps not. Or, if you wonder whether the Australian gun confiscation model might work here, since it seemed to lower shooting deaths there, this paper, which doesn't agree with me, presents a very reasonable case for why that is unlikely to be true for us here, or even for that matter for them there, and explains why.

But even if favorable findings and statics such as those were accepted without question, they still are not something that I'd use to make an argument for the 2nd Amendment.

Why? Because if that is your approach, then you are not thinking of what, IMHO, all such discussions should begin from - and that is a mistake. You cannot make a sound argument for something, on the basis of something that is not essential to the nature and purpose of that thing you are arguing for. Personally, I tend to think that any consideration of the 2nd Amendment, which actually begins with the premises that the 2nd Amendment was written from, and which define the purposes that it was written for, will lead you too to conclude, with me, that what it upholds and protects is deeply valuable to everyone's life, then and now. But even if you somehow had statistical proof, or some other claim of proof, for the effectiveness of 'gun control' measure or another, showing the numbers of lives it would save, and asked me what I thought of that, then I would reply as clearly and transparently as I possibly could:
I really don't care whether 'gun control' proposals will, or won't, 'work' to reduce crime and murders, and my opposition to them would remain unchanged.
Why? Because the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with crime, or with reducing criminal behavior, or with our failures as a society to reduce murders or other criminal behavior, and I'm not giving it up for a false appearance of relevance.

Try looking at it this way: If it could be shown - and I've zero doubt that it could be - that by repealing the 4th Amendment (which preserves the right " be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures...", requiring warrants, etc.), or even that putting (further) 'common sense restrictions upon it', the police would be able to prevent an enormous number of crimes by having the ability to enter anyone's house on a hunch, arrest anyone on the basis of suspicion alone, and hold them for as long as they thought best, I've no doubt whatsoever that we would immediately see a drastic reduction in crime and murder rates across the nation.

Would you be for that?

I would not.

Why? Because reducing crime is not the purpose of the 4th Amendment, or of the 5th Amendment, or of any of those other essential individual rights that are being protected by any of the other amendments in our Bill of Rights. Not even in those amendments which deal directly with limiting police activities in pursuit of criminals, they are not about crime, or murder, they are about safeguarding our individual rights by specifically preventing governments from gaining those powers which have been historically proven, over, and over again, to be horrifically dangerous to that government's own people, for it to acquire such powers over their lives.

They don't need to have bad intentions for bad things to follow from them, good intentions will more than suffice. It doesn't matter whether such powers are to implement traditional conservative policy

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The 2nd Amendment's role in our abusive and violent society of social & legislative reformers. To Keep and Bear Arms Across Time - pt2

Clearly, as we're repeatedly beset with violent actions ranging from robbery, to assault, to murder, to the mind numbing mass slaughters we've experienced at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, a small town church in Texas, and now the sprawling high school in Parkland Florida, our society does have a problem with those who take up arms against the lives, rights and property of the rest of us. But just as clearly, confronting what the nature of that problem actually is, and why, as well as what actually can be done about it, is something that we've been fiercely unwilling to face up to - and that's worth taking a closer look at.

I argued in a previous post that it is because the primary purpose of the 2nd Amendment is not about Guns, that it is able to secure our right to keep and bear the personal arms of your choice, including guns. But why is that important? If you see its purpose as being nothing more than your possessing 'Arms', then you'll be easily diverted with irrelevancies, such as which arms (a .38 Special was the 'bad' weapon when I was young, as an AR-15 is today), or crime, or how much of that 'right' you actually 'need' - and if you don't see the problem there, it's that sort of perspective that would ask Rosa Parks why she needed to sit in the front of the bus. With a Utilitarian view like that, it may never occur to you that the purpose of the 2nd Amendment is wedded to the rest of the Bill of Rights, in that its purpose is to secure our natural right to keep and bear arms in defense of all of our rights, and if you can manage to take that perspective, you'll quickly see that criminals are the least and last of the threats to the 2nd Amendment's purpose.

What most people are not thinking about when the 2nd Amendment is brought to their mind, is our willful failure to identify the nature of what our rights are, which not only prevents us from dealing effectively with those who trespass against them, but encourages the greater trespasses and the very violence which the social & legislative reformers so noisly (and usefully) decry. It is that blank spot in our thoughts, whch has brought about one of those ironies which history delights in, as the attentions that both 'Gun Rights!' and 'Gun Control' enthusiasts mutually focus upon particular guns, serves to push the concepts of Arms and Individual Rights ever further from our minds, so that both groups are busily weakening our understanding of what the 2nd Amendment requires us to know, in order for it to be able to preserve those rights that it was written to defend for us.

Without an adequate understanding of the concepts behind the 2nd Amendment, its revolutionary statement:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
, becomes empty words ("nonsense upon stilts" is the pragmatic and Utilitarian view) that fall easy prey to 'what the meaning of IS is', making it that much easier to deny or avoid dealing with what the issue of armed violence actually is. The 2nd Amendment's power can be no greater than our understanding of it, and those who stand to gain ever more power with its loss, are very much aware of the the possibilities that our ignorance holds for them, and they are using that power to socially and legislatively reform America, into something less than what our Constitution is capable of serving.

The role which the 2nd Amendment has in our abusive and violent society today, even today, is to provide We The People with the means of defending and preserving our individual rights, from those social & legislative reformers who justify using the power of government to infringe upon our lives through our rights, for their vision of the 'Greater good' - no matter how much disorder and violence those reforms might be shown to visit upon us. The role and responsibility of We The People in defending our rights through the 2nd Amendment, is to understand, and apply the concepts which its words defend us with. Those whose efforts are thwarted by it, know that, and they use every trick they can to muddle, evade, and ignore its meaning, so that such thoughts will continue to remain unthought by you, when the 2nd Amendment is brought to mind.

While the 2nd Amendment is proof that the pen is mightier than the sword (we would not still have either arms or rights without the words of our Bill of Rights), its unprotected flanks expose it to attack from those grounds it doesn't explicitly defend. The 2nd Amendment is not about Guns, Criminals or Hunting, but in the intellectual guerrilla warfare we're currently engaged in, those issues serve as excellent cover for snipers firing fusillades of misdirection and falsehood into our midst. If you want to defend the 2nd Amendment's ability to defend us, you must make the effort to understand it, and to spot, and disarm those assaults upon it, or it will be rendered powerless to help us. The Pen is mightier than the sword... but only if its words - and those fired against it - are understood.

Looking directly into the disinfecting sunlight
Before taking a look at how our social & legislative reformers evade reality, and the dangerous abuses that are inherent in, and will result from doing so, let's have a look at the truth that is so painful for them to look upon. The dose of reality that our fellow citizens so desperately need, doesn't take a lot to say:
  • There are NO LAWS that would prevent these shootings.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Democracy Dies in Darkness... and they like it that way

Ok, so I've finally read the dreaded "FISA Memo" which the GOP members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, wrote in regards to classified materials, which they had vetted on sources and methods, approved by President Trump, and released to the public. I've heard the Democrat's warnings about endangering national security and about out of context charges. I've read the NeverTrump'rs downplaying of the memo, by Nat'l Review's David French, and the L.A. Times; and of course, although I'd like to read it, we do not yet have the Democrat 'counter memo' available yet, to get 'the other side' of.

The three points noted below are what I find most significant in the FISA Memo, and everything here hangs upon them. If those three points are true, nothing else matters (and if they are fabrications then these charges should be reversed, with a vengeance). But let's deal with the above items first.

As regards the hysterical 'Endangering National Security!' shrieking that we've been deafened by over the last few days by members of the Democrat Party, there are zero credible, or even stretchable points, that can be construed as to be threats to National Security, in this memo. The charge is ridiculous on the face of it, and further makes the case that they'd go to the most desperate measures possible to keep what's referenced in the memo, under wraps. IOW, 'Democracy Dies in Darkness... and they like it that way.'

Then there's the exercise in blinkered besides-the-point Fith'king (pansified 'Fisking'), from NeverTrump'rs (Left and Right) seeking to bone up the almost immediately discredited charges in a New York Times article last year, as being the only noteworthy points in the memo, and their 'oh boy this is gonna be great!' gleefulness about supposedly substantiating some fringe pieces of the "Russia! Russia! Russia!" case against Trump, are pathetic examples of personal pique, and desperate ideologically snowed-blind efforts to avoid allowing any 'good' to get near a story on Trump.

If anyone can read this memo, and come away focused only upon the charges against Trump, or Trump's charges against the media and FBI, instead of being absolutely incensed over the obvious use and abuse of power perpetrated against the American people, by those entrusted with protecting the American people, in order to further their own interests of political and personal gain, then they possess, IMHO, only sick, twisted, stumps of burned out apparatus, where effective minds had perhaps once dwelt.

The Democrats tell us that they'll put out a counter-memo, soon, that will show just how deceptively out of context the memo's charges are, which I'd very much like to see.


Decades of experience reading what passes for 'The News' from all sides, has accustomed me to seeking out the possibility of missing contexts in stories, and as the bits and drabs of the truth of them have leaked out weeks, months or years later have confirmed to me, I'm fairly good at it. I can imagine a large number of clipped, minimized or dropped contexts in this Memo, but none that would actually matter, where it actually matters most.

What I find most damning in the FISA Memo isn't open to much deflation as a result of an expanded and clarified context, because whether or not the essential piece referenced in the Memo (developed from the Steele dossier) actually served as a foundational basis for the FISA warrants, or instead simply lent some additional support to the request for that warrant to spy upon American citizens, the nature of that document's unsubstantiated charges, and its authors' personal animus, bias, financial and political interests involved in its being used, catastrophically taint everything connected to it - especially as that nature was concealed from those who were presented with it as if it was worthy of respectable consideration.

Seriously! If Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself from the 'Russia Investigation' because he publicly talked to a Russian diplomat in a greeting line at a State Dept sponsored event, then there's damn sure no room for anything connected to that piece (sponsored and paid for by the DNC and Hillary Clinton's Presidential Campaign), being used in establishing any aspect of any warrant, let alone the highly volatile nature of a FISA Warrant, and that goes doubly for such information being used while those facts about its origin were deliberately withheld from those who were given them to aid in determining whether or not to issue said warrant (see #4 below).

No matter the imaginable contexts and scenarios that may be brought to light in the future, the following points alone, establish unacceptable behavior, corruption, in the use of the most sensitive and debated investigatory powers our government is able to bring to bear upon American citizens, so as to abuse those powers for the very worst, most corrupt of purposes - that of changing the outcome of a presidential election, to suit the political judgment of a few.

And people, please, stop bringing up Watergate. There is no comparison to Watergate here - that scandal involved a criminal break-in for political purposes. This matter involves using the legal apparatus of our judicial system, to legally spy upon American citizens, in order to corrupt the public mind for political purposes, in a campaign for the highest elected office in the land - not to steal politically sensitive materials, but to corrupt the political judgment of the entire nation. I'll restate that last point: The purpose of obtaining this FISA Warrant, was to corrupt and taint the judgment of the entire American electorate, to manipulate their votes by corrupting the highest functions of our government - our judicial system and defense systems - to taint and dis-inform the public mind and alter their votes by means of our most powerful institutions which are entrusted to 'protect and serve' that same public.

These few points from the FISA Memo, short of their proven to be outright lies, these are not open to the sway of additional context:

  • "1 a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele's efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials."
  • "3 a "During this same time period, Ohr's wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife's opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs' relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC."
  • 4 "...While the FISA application relied on Steele's past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information." [emphasis mine]
If you can defend behavior such as that, I can find no means or warrant for defending yours.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Elections do have consequences - including being governed by who you've elected

If there's one thing that the 21st Century has made abundantly clear, is that elections have consequences - not the least of which is our suffering to be governed by those we've elected into office. Simple buyers regret, however, is not in and of itself a valid basis for reversing the decision of the electorate, and the progressive normalization of such behavior as we've been witness to of late, is, IMHO, a growing threat to representative government.

Elections do have consequences, but there are even worse consequences to be had from overturning elections. It is irresponsible, and not a little dangerous, to demand that elected officials be forced from office over unsubstantiated charges, with no other basis than the fervent opinions of some. And please do not resort to claiming that
"I have a right to my opinion! it doesn't have to stand up to a court of law!'
, you do have a right to your opinion, but your opinion alone is not a justifiable cause for demanding that the opinions of an entire state's (or nation's) electorate, that were voiced, tallied, and duly recorded in an election, should be overturned. The 2016 election is done and over, and the 'will of the people' was made known, and short of a radical change in the nature of the charges against our sitting governor, that election must stand, and if you care about our form of government, you should not demand it be otherwise.

Much as I dislike Eric Greitens - and I wrote several posts explaining why - 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.

Especially not when we have nothing more before us at this point in time, than anonymous accusations which have been made without a shred of proof (and no, an unnamed disgruntled husband, allegedly recording the tearful accusations of his unnamed wife/ex-wife without her knowledge of his doing so, does not qualify as a shred of proof). Short of Gov. Greitens being convicted of, or admitting to, having committed blackmail or some other serious crime, whether or not he stays in office is not a proper consideration or justifiable choice for you or me to call for, and frankly it's not even properly his choice anymore - unless he knows himself to be guilty of blackmail, he should not step down - he is in that office because the electorate duly elected him to be there, and outside of the established paths for recall or impeachment, that is where he should stay for the duration of his term.

I understand your displeasure over discovering that he admitted cheating on his wife prior to his election, but that is not a valid basis for demanding an election be overturned - if that truly displeases you, perhaps pay a little closer attention to details of character, and demand explanations for major changes in stated beliefs, in future elections. Neither is there any valid basis for demanding that he resign because he doesn't 'network' with lawmakers and grassroots activists, as some might have hoped he would have. But worse by far, is for elected representatives to council him to resign - not because they know him to be guilty, but because they fear that a trial would be painful and uncomfortable - that is truly craven, despicable advice, and is dangerous to the continued prospects of representative government.

You cannot credibly claim to be for representative government, while also demanding that elected representatives be turned out of office for unsubstantiated charges. You cannot credibly claim to be for representative government, while also demanding that elected representatives be turned out of office for no better reason than the disappointed mood of a vocal mob - and yes, if you value your emotional disappointment, over the results of an election, if you want to force an elected official from the office that the electorate put him in, by the force of the wailing and stomping feet of a vocal few, then you have joined yourself to a virtual mob.

Do you seriously want to make removing an elected official, something that can be overturned on the basis of allegations alone? Allegations that are made by unnamed individuals, based upon a 'crime' they were privately told about by someone else? A 'crime' that the supposed 'victim' has not even come forward theirself about? Let alone without having even pressed formal charges?!

WTH is passing for 'conscientious consideration' here?! What the hell is wrong with you people?! If you want him out of office, then at the very least have the stones to begin a recall campaign - but I'd recommend that you have something more that you can substantiate first. Like the 'victims' name. And actual charges filed by that victim. And maybe a trial. Or a confession. First.

Do I think that it's possible that he engaged in blackmail? Have you heard his threatening conversation with John Brunner during the election? Have you heard about his belittling conversations with 'beady eyed' lawmakers? Yeah, I would be entirely unsurprised to learn that he sought to intimidate someone into silence, for his own convenience. But guess what - my suspicions do not become worthy of overturning the results of a clear election, simply because I think that they're valid!

I do not like Eric Greitens. I wrote numerous posts (here, and here, and here, and here, and here) saying why I thought he was unworthy of being elected our governor. However my point of view did not win the election. Those who voted for him for Governor, did win. By virtue of our system of representative government, he was elected by We The People - it would be a gigantic mistake to now demand that he resign his office because of unnamed sources, on unsourced, unsubstantiated, and unproven, accusations.

It's worth remembering, however, when you are faced with a choice like this again, before an election for instance, that it's best to choose those who are the most unlikely to find themselves the butt of unsubstantiated charges. What you can do to avoid that in the future, is to learn that 'hope is not a strategy' - that hoping that the fellow who claims he's a conservative, with no further reason or explanation given for that claim than the thinnest of appearances, really is a conservative, is folly and negligence of the highest order. Learn from that. Help your neighbor to learn from that. Because discovering that the guy that you helped get elected, isn't who you'd hoped he was, isn't enough to 'fix' that election after the fact.

I'll close out by leaving this snippet here from my first post having to do with Eric Greitens, "Is being Great all that good?" post back in 2015,
"...I'm not saying that I suspect our latest crop of great candidates of intending to do harm, I'm saying that I suspect them of not knowing what will, and what won't, cause us harm.

I'm saying that it's not their great qualities that concern me, but the little knowledge, understanding and conviction they've yet to demonstrate having about the fundamentals of our laws and their underlying principles.

I'm saying that without that understanding, which are the qualities that make any person, great or not, fit for office, and the lack of which makes anyone, great or not, unfit for office, then unrestrained by those convictions, they are liable, with the very best of intentions, to bring great harm to this nation and/or to our state. and at this point I'm not sure how much more of that we can take. ..."
Take the time to know that a candidate is worthy of your vote, to a reasonable satisfaction, because, as we are all finding out, elections do have consequences.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Our Society's Mysterious Surprise

Can you spot the surprising mystery surrounding these names? Hint: It's not sexual harassment.
  • Harvey Weinstein
  • Louis C.K.
  • Kevin Spacey
  • Charlie Rose
  • Bill Clinton
  • Al Franken
  • Matt Lauer
The big mystery which these names have in common, is the surprising sense of surprise that people continue to express on discovering that yet another big name has been outed for impolite, rude, inappropriate, abusive behavior, while they ['they', meaning us, as in 'We The People'] themselves have enthusiastically supported and participated in promoting behavior that revolves around incivility, rudeness, disregard for individual rights, dishonorable and unvirtuous behavior, in all of their [our] own personal choices for entertainment, politics, in their attitudes towards morality, and the collective insistence upon throwing money at a system of 'education' that primarily concerns itself with economic utility ('Get an education to get a good job!'), while dismissing or even denigrating, courses of study that focus upon integrating literary, cultural and philosophic depths of understanding, as being 'useless'.

And to top it off, they [yup, that'd be 'us' again] will rattle on about the need for 'Justice!' and 'Fairness!', while also simultaneously 'judging' and demanding immediate punishments of life disrupting, and career ending 'Action!', over what are often wholly unsubstantiated charges and innuendos.

And they [yeah, I'm afraid so, that's be you & me again] are actually surprised that those they've elevated to positions of supreme popularity and positions of power in our society, have been found to have been behaving... badly.

Mysteriously, our society is actually, surprised at this current state of affairs.

How our surprise is possible, is one fascinating mystery.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

What is your responsibility in the accusations of others? Roy E. Moore and you

The climate of sexual assault accusations is heating up, spreading out from Hollywood to sweep the nation. Almost as worrisome as the accusations themselves, are the ways that people accept, or reject them. While many of the accusations seem to be true, and some even admitted to, almost certainly some are false - how are we to respond when, absent a confession of guilt, we cannot know whether they are true or not? How are we who know none of the parties involved, to respond to them, without any substantial evidence to support either the charges, or the denials? How about when the accusations involve leaders in the community, whose decisions may have far reaching affects upon our lives, and as in the case of the former Alabama Supreme Court Justice, and current candidate for senator, Roy E. Moore, upon the entire nation?

At this point, the only thing we can know, is that we do not know enough; and yet, whether as voters or interested political spectators, we know that we do need to make some sort of judgment upon them. That's a very unsettling position to be in.

It seems to me, that about all we can do is choose to respond to the charges responsibly, or irresponsibly. That begins with the understanding that even if we carefully examine the little we do know, and come to a very reasonable, responsible, conclusion about the accusations, we could easily see the next 'Breaking News!' report prove us to be entirely wrong.

That's a given, and it should be front and center in our minds.

We are not, and cannot be, omniscient. But we can be responsible in our thinking, and to be Response-Able in matters such as this, is to accept that what we must tentatively conclude, without all the facts being known, is less important than how we come to that conclusion. We can't be sure that our conclusions will be correct, but we can be sure that we've done our best in forming them, and if I properly go about coming to the wrong conclusion, I'll be much more able to accept my error, than if I irresponsibly happen upon the 'right' conclusion, with zero basis for doing so. First and foremost, we should not pretend to know, what we do not and cannot know, about the accused, or the accuser, no matter what our personal feelings towards any of the parties might be. Judge what we can, and no further.

Given all of that, it's probably best to begin with the charges themselves - from both sides. For instance:
  • If the charges are true, they are disgusting abuses of trust and power, and violations of the law. Obviously such a person who would engage in such things, is not someone I'd want as a Judge, or in political office.
  • If the charges are not true, they too are disgusting abuses of trust and power, and are themselves violations of the law. Obviously such persons should not be able to influence who will hold judicial or political office.
As heinous as the charges are against Moore, if they are untrue, and made to falsely change the minds of millions of voters, that too is a heinous act, an intimate assault upon the body politic. But with nothing to go on but the charges being made, who made them, who they were made against, and who is presenting them to us, for anyone to make definitive statements upon what they cannot know to be true - pro or con - strikes me as the height of irresponsibility. And for the smugger than thou, who seek cover for their thinly formed personal conclusions, in the fact that we as individuals, are not bound by the rules of the law:
"...Now, I've had far too many people shouting, 'Guilty until proven innocent!' at me over my comments on this issue, as if they're too dumb to know that the second half of that phrase is 'in a court of law.' Not to blow your mind here, but I'm actually not a court of law, and I'm allowed to believe whatever I want ' and personally, I believe that Roy Moore was a predator with a penchant for teenage girls...."
We are not ourselves courts of law, and are not bound to the rules a court is, that's true enough, as far as it goes, but the fact is that it doesn't go very far at all. Do we really bear no responsibility to evaluate the charges being bandied about? What the seriousness of the charges do require me to do, is to make what judgments that I reasonably can - and to acknowledge what I reasonably cannot - without blathering on about either the charges, or my personal beliefs about them, or how you 'just knew!' them to be true or false.

I'm a father of a teenage daughter, I've some pretty strong feelings about the nature of the charges that've been made, but what kind of opinion can be formed upon no better basis, than your own feelings about the charges themselves? The judicial rules of evidence and judgment of our laws, are founded upon the realization that we don't know what really happened in a case, and that our judgments can be wrong, which is why courts have rules to follow in presenting and evaluating evidence and testimony - does the fact that we are not courts, mean that we shouldn't hold our opinions to similar standards?

There are several options open to us here, and hopefully you will hold yourself to some standard, as you decided whether you will:

  1. Accept that 'the seriousness of the charges' are such that we should assume that he is guilty until we have reasons to believe that he is innocent.
  2. Assume that multiple accusers of a similar age who're making vaguely similar charges, qualifies as sufficient reason to presume his guilt.
  3. Consider whether the charges are supported by the accused's personal record, habits and behavior?
  4. Consider whether the accusers personal record, habits and behavior, supports the credibility of the charges being made?
  5. We can presume his guilt, or innocence, based upon the politics of:
    a- his political party and your feelings towards that.
    b- of those making the charges.
    c- of those promoting the charges.
So let's take a stab at weighing those options.

Regarding #1, simply because of the fact that I am not myself a court of law or bound to its rules, does not excuse me to presume that the charges are true, without having anything more to go on than the seriousness of the charges themselves. That is the height of intellectual irresponsibility. You're not thinking, you're gossiping.

#2, the sheer number of charges made do not lend credibility to the charges themselves. What with my being in my 50's, I very clearly recall the Day-care sex-abuse hysteria charges of the 1980's, when charges of sexual child abuse at day care centers, spread like wildfire across the nation, charges which were ultimately proven by and large to be false, but charges which nevertheless destroyed the lives and livelihood of numerous people. There is a striking similarity between the national mood now, and the Day Care hysteria back then, and we should not ignore that such moods and their attendant hype, are ripe for abuse. Especially so, as the charges that have been made by the accusers in this case, are not the same charges - the other two accusers, while their age was inappropriate for his alleged attentions, they did not charge him with 'taking liberties' with them.

As for #3, do the charges fit with the accused's character and history? If the charges were made against someone with the personal history of a Harvey Weinstein, or a Bill Clinton, they'd gain credibility on account of their own history, as such behavior of abuse and disregard for the person of another, are habits that stick with lech's, pedophiles, or serial abusers, who tend to be repeat offenders, and increasingly bold ones at that. Does Moore have a record of taking advantage of, and abusing, younger women? At this point in time, I'm unaware of it. His own life lived, to the best of our current knowledge, has to be given some weight against the credibility of the charges.

Similarly with #4, does the accusers personal record, habits and behavior, support the credibility of the charges being made? Supposedly, the primary accuser has a less than impressive personal history, divorced three times, filed bankruptcy three times, allegedly has history of making similar accusations against clergymen. That does not mean that the accusations are not true, but her personal history doesn't lend credibility to them - and that is all that we have to go on at this point.

As for the political aspects of the charges, with #5a above, presuming the guilt or innocence of charges, based upon the politics of the person charged, is relevant only if the charges are relevant to their politics. For instance, if a Social Justice Warrior were charged with beating someone on the basis of their political beliefs ( i.e. "Punch a nazi!"), their own political beliefs would argue towards their guilt, rather than their innocence. But when the charges have no particular relevance to their politics one way or another - and sexual misconduct is very much a bi-partisan matter - then their, Moore's politics, should not be swaying our conclusions, one way or another.

As for #5b, presuming the guilt or innocence of the charges, based upon the politics of the person making the charges, as with #3, is relevant only if the charges are relevant to their politics. And while matters of sexual misconduct are a bi-partisan matter, making charges of sexual misconduct in order to further a political agenda, is hardly unheard of. Anita Hill's foul accusations against Clarence Thomas, come to mind. However, in this case, the primary accuser doesn't seem to have an ideological ax to grind, and while one of the other accusers does have a history in Democrat politics, it doesn't amount to much. For myself, I'd say that, in and of itself, on this point, the accusers politics it's a wash with me, neither bolstering or undermining, the charges.

However, the matter doesn't come through the wash free of stains. For instance, if the charges are true, why did the accusers, especially the main accuser, not come forward earlier? If not as a young teenager, then at least when Moore began to gain prominence, 10 years later, when she, as an adult, supposedly told her mother? If the charges were true, she should have come forward with them then, and every day, month, and year she delayed, IMHO, eats away at their credibility, especially given the fact that she has waited until, not just Moore's Senatorial campaign, but for the very end of it, to come forward. The other accusers did not come forward on their own, they were found, and encouraged to make their charges public, by a reporter. For myself, that leads me to at least somewhat discount the credibility of the charges, on the basis of the charges alone.

As for #5c, presuming the guilt or innocence of the charges, based upon the politics of those promoting the charges, as with #4b, is relevant only if the presumed effect of making such charges are relevant to their politics. Interestingly enough, one of the authors of the Washington Post article, Ms. McCrummen, has a rather checkered history of running afoul of the law, as well as journalistically engaging in political witch hunts, as this article from 2011 indicates,
"...Although a careful read of the story shows that there is no substantiation for the allegations of racism, Ms. McCrummen, the Post, and MSNBC have held a non-stop witch hunt, accusing Mr. Perry of everything under the sun. So, let’s examine the author using the same journalistic standards practiced by the Washington Post.

Ms. McCrummen has a rather interesting criminal history herself, as public criminal records in multiple states stretching across 4 time zones have shown...."
Such histories do not lend to the creditability of either the charges, or of those promoting them.

And of course, Roy E. Moore's candidacy can hardly be said to be of no consequence to the politics of our day, for the Washington Post (who opposes Moore), or for the Left, or even for the Right. Charges such as this, at this point in time in an election, is very much in line with what has often been excused as 'justified resistance' by such people as those at The Washington Post.... not to mention the McCain/McConnel wing of the establishment GOP.

So to sum it up:
  1. I cannot responsibly credit these charges, at this point in time, on the basis of charges alone.
  2. I cannot credit, or discredit, the charges based upon the politics of the accused.
  3. There is little reason to question the charges being made, based upon the politics of the accusers - but there is reason to question the decades that have passed in their silence, and the timing involved in making them public now.
  4. The reputation of the accused, his extremely high target value in opposition research over the last decade or so, and the absence of similar charges over the forty years since the incident was alleged to have happened, weigh in Moores' favor, and against the accusations.
  5. The nature and history of those who sought out these charges, and promoted them (Ms. McCrummen and the Washington Post at the top), do not lend credibility to the charges.
When I add all of this up, in the context of what we know at this point in time, it argues towards a presumption of innocence for Roy E. Moore, rather than presuming his guilt because of the 'gravity of the charges' alone.

And of course, I could be wrong, and given reason to judge differently, I will.

I know very little about Roy E. Moore, and what I do know, I've had mixed opinions about. I know even less about his accusers, but I've some knowledge of the politically utility of salacious charges, being promoted at the last minute ('October Surprise!') by political foes, in the crucial final days of a political campaign, and until I know more, I'm not going to let the emotional nature and severity of the charges, be what most influences my judgment.

I also know that those who eagerly accept charges against others, to show how 'even minded' they are, turn my stomach. As does those who morally preen themselves in a pretentious presumption of the guilt of others, while having no solid reasons for presuming it ("predator!"); and of course the of the GOP's John McCain and Mitt Romney, who routinely, eagerly, and willfully, throw in with any charges of moral condemnation upon the likes of Moore, in order to ingratiate themselves with the media and the wider 'moral community', disgust me to no end.

If you've decided that you know the guilt or innocence of someone in a case you know next to nothing about... you've said more about you, than him. The eagerness to attack those who are just too different from your own ideologically cock sure 'truth', has been gaining in popularity on 'the Right' (especially as seen in the reflexively ("It's a cult!") statements of both the Uber-Trump'rs, and the NeverTrump'rs), to the point that the accusations, and the eagerness to accept them, and promote them, IMHO turns such accusations into self incriminating accusations against themselves.

As such evidence of irresponsibility piles up, it does not bode well for this nation.