Sunday, November 29, 2020

When the 'Progressive' Left & the Populist Right lead to the same Pro-Regressive ends, Check your Map

Folks sometimes wonder why I'm often shaking my head at the wrong people... meaning the 'right' people of the 'Right'. The short answer is, because they're often wrong... but what is left out of a short answer, simply will not do. Especially in those kinds of cases where what they say sounds so good, on the surface. If you take a moment to wonder about what's under that surface though, and what those attractive appearances must be resting upon, or concealing, it seems to me that it's difficult to avoid gaining an understanding that'll set your head to shaking. Take Tucker Carlson, for instance.

I enjoy watching Tucker Carlson interview people, especially those trying to push an agenda at odds with the facts. I enjoy it as his questions slowly pull their carefully hidden contradictions out into the full light of embarrassment. I also enjoy that he not only gives no ground to the rage mob, but goes on the attack instead. But I don't enjoy watching his show, because when he switches from asking questions of other people's opinions, to giving his own opinions, his own opinions don't always seem to have benefited from having been subjected to that same quality of questioning, and the opinions which he lets slip on through that gap stir up so many misgivings that I soon lose my interest in whatever point he was trying to make. Carlson's monologue in response to Mitt Romney's pitiful op-ed in January 2019 (which I also criticized here), is a good example of the kinds of misgivings that I so often have about him, and a great many others on 'the Right' (and Left, and Center), and it highlights something that's been setting my head to shaking back and forth for some time now: that the place of philosophy in the vast majority of people's minds today, has, for all practical purposes, been pretty much replaced by Economics - or at least by those theories, policies and sentiments most associated with it - which have produced results of very questionable value.
What if neither Left nor Right leads home?

It isn't always easy to see what's questionable about substituting economics for philosophy, because most such statements appear to be fairly reasonable, on the surface at least, as with this quote which is true to the tone of Carlson's monologue, shows:
"The goal for America is both simpler and more elusive than mere prosperity. It’s happiness. There are a lot of ingredients in being happy: Dignity. Purpose. Self-control. Independence. Above all, deep relationships with other people. Those are the things that you want for your children. They’re what our leaders should want for us, and would if they cared. But our leaders don’t care."
Now, on the surface, and taken in the way that I assume he intends it, most of us, myself included, probably find our heads nodding along with him, at least to some of it, right? But what if there are implications to those words, that, if known, would set your head to shaking 'no!' or even 'Oh, Hell no!', instead? You see, you shouldn't mistake my head shaking for missing what sounds good on the surface - I get the appearances of it - but I can't help but be disturbed by what I see lurking in the shadows of the economic points - even & perhaps especially the populist points - that he and so many others on 'our side' so often make.

My own perspective on this comes neither from a Libertarian view, nor from that of a traditional Conservative one, but through my staunch support of those philosophic and moral reasons that leads to a Free Market (Please note: I did not say 'Capitalism' or 'Free Trade'), and which are in fact the very reasons why a Free Market works, works best, and is the most economically sound option there is - and the only one that can hope to sustain Liberty over the long run. It's important to realize that all economic theories - no matter their stated or unstated premises - are derived from more fundamental philosophical, moral reasonings (which are implicitly imposed or violated whenever the more eye-catching policies are adopted), and it is equally important to note how many economically minded folks either don't know that, or don't want others to know that. And you can bet that there are philosophical and moral reasons for that too, and more often than not, that too should set your head to shaking back and forth.

I'll limit myself here to pointing out a few highlights from his monologue that cast the more obvious shadows, which, if not enough to be convincing, will hopefully get you thinking a little further past those appearances. I'll leave it for later posts to dive deeper into the problems I see beneath their surfaces, and hopefully by that point, even if you don't fully agree with me, you'll at least understand why it is that I'm so often over here shaking my head back & forth.

Before returning to what set my head to shaking in the quote above, let me emphasize the need to resist saying "Oh, I'm sure he didn't mean that!". I don't think that Tucker Carlson has bad intentions, and neither do I think that of the other conservatives, libertarians and populists, who are are saying variations on the same themes. What I am saying though, is that the things that are being said by people like Carlson (and the majority of We The People), are said because they believe that they not only can, but should begin their thinking on these issues from within the framework of the policies and positions of economic thinking, or in response to them, which is precisely what enables them to not see and not consider what should have been considered before ever actually giving voice to their good intentions. Worse, if the careless words of influential people like Carlson stir public opinion into putting them into legislation, once on the books they will be put to use by far less charitable people who will wring them of every ounce of power they can get from them, and they will not be swayed by the good intentions which those words will ride into our lives on. Whether Tucker and others meant what their words actually mean, should not prevent us from considering what they do actually mean, and would justify being done in their name, if others took them seriously.

So with that in mind, let's take a look at what's easy to notice just beneath the surface of Carlson's quote from above:
"The goal for America is both simpler and more elusive than mere prosperity. It’s happiness. There are a lot of ingredients in being happy: Dignity. Purpose. Self-control. Independence. Above all, deep relationships with other people. Those are the things that you want for your children. They’re what our leaders should want for us, and would if they cared.... "
As noted, on the surface this seems fine, thoughtful even, with an almost philosophical yearning for the moral high ground of a 'life well lived', doesn't it? Unfortunately it plunges to a messy death with the last line, "They’re what our leaders should want for us, and would if they cared." Why? Because while such concerns that might be fine for your friend and neighbor to express, they should be horrifying to have coming from a "Leader" with a faceless bureaucracy at their beck & call, and the power to act on their concerns. Such a mission given to Govt must result in its intruding into your life to identify those concerns, classify and quantify the nature of those concerns, and determine how deeply 'You The People' are to be affected by those concerns. Any such legislative or regulatory measures would have to be tasked with somehow rating your sense of 'Dignity'... perhaps on a scale of 1 to 10; and of course when you last had a health professional's verification of exactly how much 'Dignity' you have; and no way they could neglect recording Do you currently engage in any of these undignified activities..."? Whether those intrusions come about through new census questions, or with an assist from the likes of what we saw in Obamacare era regulations, such as requiring (at the penalty of perjury of course) insurance and healthcare personnel to probe into your mental health the next time you need a broken bone set, or an allergy shot for your child, won't make that much of a difference in the end, as political power would be used to intrude into your living of what you'd mistakenly (in their less than humble opinion) thought of as being your own life... for your own good.

How much imagination and news cycle recall does it take to see that? Can anyone doubt that such a popularized concern when transformed into Govt policy, would lead 'community minded leaders' to write some asinine legislation along the lines of a "Federal Citizen Dignity Assurance Act" would be stepping in to 'help you' achieve your minimum daily dose of 'dignity'? Surely anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the last century, should realize this?

I can understand if you're thinking "Van! Get a grip! He's just a 'T.V. Commentator voicing concerns!", and while I get that, you do realize that commentators voice their comments in order to influence people, right? And that as enough of those people are perceptibly influenced, their support becomes useful to those in power, right? Did you happen to catch MO freshman Sen. Josh Hawley's 1st Senate Floor Speech? It's worth comparing to Carlson's monologs. I also wonder if you realize that similar commentators commenting their particular views into popularity, have led up to everything from Prohibition, to LBJ's 'War on poverty', and of course ObamaCare or Medicare for all? No one should need to look any further than the lives and families of those who're existing in our inner cities, to discover just what Govt concern for their well being and 'deep relationships' can do for the depth and quality of their lives and relationships, and I can find no excuse for those who fail to connect those obvious dots. I really don't think that I'm the one that needs to 'get a grip' here.

All such governmental attempts would soon make a mockery of Dignity, Purpose, Self-Control and Independence, and render those words utterly meaningless. It would also require violating one and all of those privileges and immunities which our Bill of Rights identifies and forbids our govt from intervening in - limitations that were not made for economic purposes, but in order to preserve and protect our individual rights from the abusive and intrusive use of governmental power. We're rushing towards dystopia fast enough as it is, do we really need to encourage a merging of Orwell's 1984, and Huxley's Brave New World?

It seems reasonable, responsible, that the words of talking heads having an audience of millions, should be taken as seriously by us as the political passions and actions which their words are intended to arouse in us. Doing so requires poking into the shadows that lay behind and beneath the apparent meaning of their words, as even the slightest poke reveals realities that would be at odds with the apparent good intentions which those words deeper meaning are hiding behind. That is the danger of economic populism - if the popularity of the words they used to express their good intentions with, ever succeeded in carrying their words into law, they would be made use of by those who do grasp the darker powers implicit in them, and you can be sure that those people will use the real power and force of law which they give them, for very different purposes, and their true meaning would soon be felt by all.

That is at least partly what I mean about his opinions lacking the benefit of his own skillful questioning. And it's not like that was a fluke of a single careless line, as in the very next line he can be seen scolding economic thinking, from an economic perspective!:
"... But our leaders don’t care. We are ruled by mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule. They’re day traders. Substitute teachers. They’re just passing through. They have no skin in this game, and it shows. They can’t solve our problems. They don’t even bother to understand our problems."
And again, because he's speaking to millions of viewers, you have to take his words seriously, and that might as well start with the word Rule. You might be able to speak of 'dignity, independence...' etc in terms of self-governance, but not in terms of some people ruling over others or being ruled by them. Of course you could say that he didn't really mean the reality which the word 'Rule' really means - but that again is just my point: his opinions have more to do with his deepest feelings than with coherent thoughts on the real world, indicative of a set of boxed in views which are all that a disjointed economically based view permits. And seriously, what sort of POV is a 'conservative' conserving, in wanting Govt to 'understand' or somehow solve their problems?

And it's difficult not to notice how closely Carlson's line "...They’re what our leaders should want for us, and would if they cared...", resembles the spirit of a similar line in the execrable Romney op-ed that he's reacting to, that:
"...To a great degree, a presidency shapes the public character of the nation...."
Both of them fail to see into the shadows of their own words, and to both of them I'll repeat what I said of Romney's, that it has
"... the rancid odor of pro-regressive conceit & the 'nudge' of political correctness about it of the typical Pro-Regressive republican who believes that govt can 'help you' by making better decisions for you - which is also one of the reasons why Trump won..."
Ironically, both elitist Romney, and populist Carlson, blunder through those shadows, without the light or awareness needed to see where they're going, which is exactly what leads to govt stumbling into our personal lives with political powers that it has zero 'business' concerning itself with.

The painful fact - and a painfully common one, which is in no way limited to Tucker Carlson - is that the meaning of what his words would in reality require for Govt to act on and implement them - are in pursuit of the very same unrestricted power of govt that the Pro-Regressive Left (and Right) desires - Govt having fewer and fewer limits on its power to take an active part in our lives, giving it control over our lives - for our own good. Fuzzy economic thinkers of the Left and Right, want govt to have the same interests in, and powers over, our lives, they differ only on what their vision of 'the Right' good intentions are, which they see as justifying the economic policies that please them.

Both rely upon evading the same reality.

And both rely upon the absence of philosophy in We The People's minds in order to do so, and thanks to over a century of Govt controlling our educational system, that absence is a no-brainer, and among its more devastating consequences is the loss of principled foundations to stand upon, and reliable roads to follow.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Looking beneath 2020 to spot our foundational issues - The diminishing returns of Economic Thinking

As electoral events continue to spiral up towards peak 2020, it seems like an exceptionally good time to step outside of the 2020 timeframe for a moment - not to avoid or evade it - but, as America continues to slide from it's foundations, to face up to the fact that this didn't 'just happen... somehow'. Doing that, requires taking a step or two back from the intensely partisan distractions of the moment, lowering our ideological blinders to notice the plentiful clues around us that some things just don't fit together quite right... some seemingly broken and carelessly glued back together, others being foundational supports which offer no support. If you need an example of such disjointed repairs, here ya go: Have you noticed that whenever discussing the politics of what the govt should and shouldn't do, those discussions are immediately refracted through the lens of economic policies? You know that's just not right, right? Even with non-economic issues like public education, people have developed the habit of justifying their positions on an economic basis. A quick search outside of 2020 finds posts like this one from three years ago:
"Is Schooling a Public Good? A public good, according to the economic definition, must satisfy two conditions
Critics of the proposed policy to expand private school choice in the United States argue that the government must fund and control schooling since it is a “public good.” This may sound accurate..."

2020 didn't just happen, we've been steadily building towards it for years & decades that've made such disjointed views into the norm, so much so that even when addressing broad cultural concerns, they're reduce to economic factors, wrapped about with ribbons of virtue signaling adorning foundations of sand. Here's an example of that from Vox's site last year, where in a discussion with Ben Shapiro about his book "The Right Side of History", Shapiro's concern that "... abandoning our “Judeo-Christian heritage”..." might have something to do with "...record drug overdoses, declining marriage rates, increased rates of depression, high levels of distrust, etc...", the Vox writer felt compelled to reduce that broad sweep of circumstances down to the particular things, conditions and transactions of an economic scenario:
"...What’s astonishing to me is that in noting all of this, you dismiss material conditions as a relevant causal factor. Wages have been stagnant for 40 years, Americans are working longer hours for less pay, the vast majority of wealth being produced is going to ever smaller numbers of people, more people are facing economic precarity due to rapid technological change — you don’t see that as part of the story here?..."
Meaning that, in this person's eyes, all that has come before in Western Civilization, including all of the concepts and principles which led to and guided the development of what is now known as economics, should 'obviously' take a back seat to the immediate quantities, theories and policies of economic thinking. That same impulse extends to medical care, judicial policy, military planning, and... - etc. - it is difficult to find a careful consideration of the issues that isn't shaped by, or even rooted in, economic thinking. Few however bother to consider what, if anything, it is that Economics itself rests upon - it is simply their default perspective for starting to think about our world. Even with populists like Tucker Carlson, while he's railing at the various 'economic realities' that Libertarians, 'Capitalists' and establishment 'Free Traders' expect us all to accept and abide by, Carlson turns to justify his populist opposition to them, on economic grounds! That quirk is very much on display in this, one of his central observations from January of 2019, for why it is that America is in trouble:
"Here’s a big part of the answer: male wages declined"
Which, BTW, is far more amenable to the Vox writer's worldview, than Ben Shapiro's.

That this has become the 'default' setting in our society today - a nation that was the 1st nation in history to be founded upon philosophic principles - is not a mark of progress, and it is something that we should find shocking - but most of us do not. Is it really surprising then, that as we look no deeper than the field of economics to resolve societal problems, problems which we identify and view through economic lenses, and describe in economic terms, that we are then unable to see any deeper into these problems than the various ribbons and bows we've neatly wrapped around the economic and political boxes which we expect to find what we want in? It is a very, shall we say, economical means, of self-deception via selectively fostered ignorance.

That same sort of limited view is what follows from our sending out the 'eye-witness news!' reporters to take our pulse through the proverbial 'man in the street' or student on campus, by asking 'them':
"So, 'Capitalism' or Socialism - which do you prefer?"
, with neither the interviewer, nor the interviewee, nor the viewing audience, showing even a hint of a suspicion that that question frames and presents something significantly less than the full picture which such a question is and should actually be concerned with - not least of which is that such a question cannot comfortably, or safely, be asked in a Socialist nation, nor for that matter even in an American school. In all fairness to the reporters though, I can't imagine them asking something else, can you? How do you suppose the question "So, Moderate Realism, Post-Modernism, Stoicism, Subjectivism, Pragmatism, Existentialism or some other Grab-baggism - which do you prefer?", would go over on an 'Eye Witness News!' spot? Awkward. I do wonder though, if you were to ask:
"So, Liberty or Tyranny - which do you prefer?"
, would that be any less awkward?

It's almost as if they have no idea that the Economics which they unquestioningly do their thinking about society with, is, at best, only one small feature, of a subset, of a third level branch, of that philosophy which the field had been developed out of. If you don't see what I'm talking about - and there is no way you're going to understand what is happening to us here in the year 2020 without it - there is a hierarchical structure to our concepts and their grounding in reality, which, through its order, or disorder, shapes everything you understand and are aware of (or not).

This is not open to dispute (well, didn't used to be), but it is simply ignored or miscast today. But ignored or not, the reality is that Economics is preceded by, defined through, and is entirely dependent upon, that Western philosophy of which it was, and is, but one small expression of. Economics can only be properly understood through, can only come to be, after developing the more fundamental philosophical structures and suppositions of:
  1. Metaphysics (What IS, is),
  2. Epistemology (How do we know what we know, and what of it is or isn't it true),
  3. Ethics (How we ought to respond to what is)
, and from there it's necessary to drill further down through the layers of Ethics, in order to reach its major subset of,
  • Political Philosophy (How a society should justly organize itself)
, and it's only here, at this point, finally, that we come to find nestled all snugly within what has developed from the hierarchy of all of those previous layers of ideas, boundaries and principle branches of the philosophical tree that lead up to its development, that we then find in its modernized form, that upstart babe in the philosophic woods:
  • Economics (how to manage scarce resources that have alternate uses in society).
Economics derives all of its concepts, methods and assumptions, through those preceding branches of philosophy, which in turn shape the form of its economic policies, and when economists are respectful of that - assuming that their underlying philosophy is respectful of reality - all is well - the health of that economy can be evaluated, threats to it can be identified, and reasonable forecasts about it can be made.

But if that structure isn't clearly known, or at least generally acknowledged, it will be unwittingly assumed with that ignorance as a part of its foundation. Most modern economists, Left, Right and Center, when making their own pronouncements, do so without reference to, or regard for, those preceding limbs of the philosophic tree of knowledge which had to be climbed up and over in order to first comprehend the necessity and value of that 3rd level subset of philosophy which economics is but an offshoot of, which they then presume to lecture to us from, about everything else in our lives - and what's worse, if the economy goes wrong, they use that spindly position as a basis for warping even further, the much larger branch which it grows out of, in order to force the limb to conform to the twig.

And still they use the words and concepts of those preceding limbs & branches branches, of course, as they can't avoid dealing with Substance, Identity, Logic, Causality, Justice (though they do so through the more narrowly filtered terms of Wealth, Dollar, Profit & Loss, Production & Consumption, Property), but they do so with little or no regard for what their deeper and more extended meaning is, or for what was required for their development and continuance, they simply repurpose and redefine them to suit their own purposes, and they do so without a reasonable regard for that chaos which could - should - be expected to follow from that.

This is both "the tail wagging the dog" on steroids, and of foundations built on sand, instead of stone.

Now, you might well ask
'Van? Why does that matter - At All? I mean, it's not as if they don't use the same words of Identity, Logic and Right & Wrong, and we are all affected by economic issues - What in the hell's your problem?'
Well. Sure the same words are being used, but if those words aren't understood to begin from the same roots, or are maybe even unconcerned with having any roots at all, then those words that they're using to think with, become vague floaters in their own minds, with no real thoughtful significance for them, or for you, or for any of those who're doing their thinking with them, and if that's the case, then those words which you and they are using are not serving to connect your thinking to reality, but are instead actively facilitating your disconnection from it.

That's a problem. And there's more.

When the misuse of words are given such free reign in these boring 'policy choices', they implicitly pivot us away from one familiar mindset, into an entirely new and alien philosophy, implicitly undermining and subverting the philosophic world which the American Dream sprang from, and they do so in plain sight and with a great deal of mis-directional fanfare. And while they typically begin with associations to a worldview of people at liberty to live their own lives, as they stride boldly 'forward!' on the legs of unexamined assumptions, they easily carry you with them into a darker and more oppressive world where 'those who know best', are empowered to 'choose' how to live your life for you.

That's a problem. And it's a problem that's not limited to the Left ('equal distribution of wealth!'), but is easily found in the policies of Conservatives ('strengthening the family' through a 'Family Leave Act'), Libertarians ('Net Neutrality', 'Universal Basic Income', 'Eliminate Intellectual Property') and so-called Centrists ("govt must cool the economy"), all of which introduce numerous societal consequences which Economic thinking is powerless to resolve and unavoidably exacerbates, with each new solution leading to still more problems, and especially so for those trying to solve the problems which we as a society 'mysteriously' persist in making, and still further affecting the experiences of every one of our lives.

Seeing the problem isn't difficult to do, once you know where to look and what to listen for. I think that this can be conveyed in just a few examples, some obvious, some not so much until you've looked differently at what seems obvious, to reveal the very real philosophical threats that lurk behind and beneath the economic thinking that is commonly found in the Left, Right and Center - and that is what I'll spend the next several posts digging further into.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

In 2020 we're so busy counting votes that we risk missing the Gorilla amongst us

You've heard that we had an election. You're probably aware that popular opinion says that the guy I wanted to lose might not have. You're probably aware that some people claim that they see evidence of election fraud. People are even so focused upon what they think they know, that otherwise sensible people are almost routinely coming to conclusions about about hundreds of allegations of electoral fraud, while having no idea of what's contained in those allegations. Are the allegations legitimate? I have no idea, but at least I realize that.
I've already posted on why it's unwise to celebrate anyone as 'President Elect' at this point, so I'm not going to focus on those points again, and that really is no longer what we need to be most aware of right now. The biggest issue we face right now is that everyone is focusing so intently on who will win the election, that they are distracting themselves from seeing the changed nature of the situation we find ourselves in, and that is what I want to redirect people's attention to.

There's an old awareness experiment that you may have been shown in school, or have heard being discussed (Jordan Peterson makes some interesting observations on it here ), about people being asked to very carefully watch a short video of people with white shirts on who are passing basketballs around with people in black shirts, and the viewers were asked to see if they could accurately count the number of times a basketball changes hands.

Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen this yet, watch it now, it's less than two minutes long, and see if you can accurately count how many times the basketball is passed, and then read on.

Ok, here's the spoiler: some people are able to accurately count the number of times the people in white shirts pass the basketball around (I don't remember if I did or not), but a great many people are entirely unable to answer the next question that were asked, which is this:
  • Did you spot the Gorilla?
Most people laugh at that, thinking it's a joke. It isn't. A large person wearing a gorilla suit wanders into the scene, walks right through the midst of the people passing the basketball around, beats his chest, and walks out. I remember that I noticed the gorilla (walking out, I missed his entrance and the chest beating). However, there were a couple of other key details that I completely missed.

The point being, that when we are intently focused on observing one thing, we are in danger of being unaware of other significant issues occurring right in front of our faces. And so my question to you who are focused upon projections of electoral counts that have still not yet been counted, and those of you who are focused on celebrating your 'President Elect', and also those of you who are so sure that your guy didn't lose, is this:
Do you know what it means when a major candidate has not conceded the election, and has collected sworn affidavits at the penalty of perjury of attesting to electoral fraud, and has filed lawsuits in several states, on that?
What it means, is that we are no longer in the midst of a normal election that is centered around counting the votes to see who won. What we are in the midst of now, is a contested election, and unless every single one of those charges and affidavits are determined by proper means to be without merit in a very short period of time, there are numerous federal and state laws and procedures which normally aren't felt in an election, and those unfamiliar laws and procedures will take affect, and they don't give a damn about what either CNN or the GOP have predicted about the election. H/T to the Freedom Center of Missouri (one of a very few firms to win electoral challenges) for this flowchart, taken from this NYT article:
"...If lawsuits and recounts persist — and if vote margins are razor thin in key states — it could be weeks before President Trump or Joseph R. Biden Jr. is named the winner. In some scenarios, the contest could drag into 2021...."
We're no longer on the smooth bottom path
My position is not and has not been about whether the accusations of electoral fraud are warranted or not, but only on the obvious fact that they have been officially filed, which moves us beyond the familiar smooth process (bottom of the flowchart) of simply counting votes, and into the differing processes that kick into gear in a contested election, and those processes are not necessarily concerned with how many ballots were cast for who in the popular vote - the measures being triggered right now could even (unlikely but very possible) result in those ballots being cast off by the various state legislatures, discarding their state's popular vote altogether (BTW, our Constitution makes no mention of a Popular Vote, only State laws do, and personally, I wish neither did), and those state legislatures could have their chosen electors cast the votes themselves, or they could decide to have new electors be appointed, or the votes might end up not being certified at all, or any number of other entirely unpredictable twists and turns could come into play in each contested state. And after all of that, even more could come into play as the newly sworn in federal congress becomes involved, and all talk about transition teams is incredibly premature and reckless. 

IOW: Polls and projections are even less meaningful now, than they were before the election. It's possible that all of the states will resolve the allegations in time, getting back on track, but how prepared are you for the other possibility?

There's an interesting three part series on what is involved in the Electoral Process, and how it actually works when the unexpected happens, written before the election on the Lawfare blog (which is generally hostile to Trump). Part one, covers where we are in the process right now, on the several possibilities for how the processes may proceed in the states, Part Two covers Congress's role in counting the electoral votes, and Part Three goes into what happens when no candidate secures a majority of electors.

People who have taken my caution and opposition to calling Biden 'President Elect', as not wanting to face reality (I'm far more focused on what is really happening than on what I might have wished to happen) are, I suspect, so focused upon their candidate winning, and especially on the Orange Man Bad losing, that they are missing the large gorilla of contention that's right in front of their faces, beating its chest and getting ready to punch them in the nose. I'm very much aware that who I want to lose, may not (and I'll be fine with that, once it's actually officially run its course) - but that process is defined by numerous state and federal laws, and not by media predictions, and it has a strong potential for unfolding in wildly unexpected twists & turns, and my concern is that people's foolish celebrations are going to send their tender psyche's into a head-on collision with reality.

The Gorilla of a Contested Election is wandering through our electoral process right now, and those people who are so intent on counting or predicting votes that they are oblivious to the changed nature of this now contested election, are running the risk of being blindsided by reality in a very big way, and I suspect that there are some people who are very much counting on that, and looking forward to the chaos that would result from it.

I have no idea whether the election will ultimately go 'my way', or not, and neither does anyone else. The process we've entered into is unpredictable. You ignore that at not only your own risk, but your negligence contributes towards putting everyone else at risk as well. 

Please, stop doing that.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

For Veterans Day - Thank You For Persisting 'The Harder Right', Across Time

Commemorating Veterans Day once again with two earlier memories; one from five years ago now, which was itself remembering this day from 5 years before that, and doing so recalls what persists across time on this day, our fellows who choose 'the harder right' by volunteering to serve in our military. No matter where they may end up being stationed, when they volunteer to serve they are volunteering to put their lives on the line, period. There is no assurance that they won't at some point be sent to physically put their lives at risk, be injured, or be killed. None. Whether their service ends up being given entirely stateside in administrative duties, or repeatedly at hazard in war zones, the worst case is risked by all at that moment when they sign their lives on the dotted line. In pledging their lives to support and defend our Constitution, they serve to secure to us the ability to live lives worth living (should we choose to).

To all of our Veterans - Thank You.

[And now, back to 2015:]

[For Veterans Day this year, I'm going with a re-post from four years ago, which isn't - for me or others - the typical Veterans Day post, but for me it really goes to the heart of the occasion. This post came back into mind a couple days ago when a 'Memories' app popped up some pictures from the 2011 Veterans Day parade in St. Louis that I took part in with Chris & Dana Loesch, "Patch" Po/ed Patriot and our kids [Patch just confirmed my sketchy pictureless memory, Stacy Washington was with us too). The memories were a nice tug - I mostly only see Patch online now, and the Loesch's have since moved to Dallas (catch "Dana" on the BlazeTV), but more than the sentimental value, was the point of this post, well illustrated in the movie clip, of the importance of choosing the Harder Right - not only in the sense of putting your life on the line for it, but the importance of choosing the harder right to a life worth living, and that is what I associate most with our Veterans.

Our Veterans volunteer their lives onto the line, and in pledging their lives to support and defend our Constitution, they serve to secure to us the ability to live a life worth living, should we also take the harder right, and choose to.

To our Veterans - Thank You.

[And now, back to 2011:]

For Veterans Day, a clip that doesn't at first appear to have anything to do with Veterans or Veterans Day. It's the climactic scene of a movie that's really grown on me over the years, The Emperor's Club. In this, the point of not only an Education, but of a life well lived - or squandered - is conveyed in just a few moments.

The now aging Mr. Hundert, a Classics Professor, is found in the restroom after a debate competition, by his former student, Sedgewick Bell, who is now grown and launching a campaign for the Senate. Bell was a student he'd tried far more than he should have to help, and Hundert has realized that Sedgewick has yet again cheated in the "Mr. Julius Caesar" debate, which Mr. Hundert was moderating.

He lets his former student know that he knows he tried to cheat, again...
Mr. Hundert:"I'm a teacher Sedgwick, and I failed you. But I'll give you one last lecture, if I may. All of us, at some point, are forced to look at ourselves in the mirror, and see who we really are, and when that day comes for Sedgewick, you'll be confronted with a life lived without virtue, without principle - for that I pity you. End of lesson."

Sedgewick Bell:"What can I say Mr. Hundert? Who gives a shit. Honestly, who out there gives a shit about your principles and your virtues. I mean, look at you, what do you have to show for yourself? I live in the real world, where people do what they need to do to get what they want, and if that means lying, and cheating... then so be it.
So I am going to go out there, and I am going to win that election Mr. Hundert, and you will see me EVERYwhere! And I'll worry about my 'contribution' later.
(Sound of a toilet flushing, stall opens, Sedgewick's little boy comes out, stares at his dad in disgust)
Sedgewick Bell:"Robert? Robert...."
(Robert turns and leaves)
Sedgewick stares after him, stares down, glances at Mr. Hundert, and leaves.
What Mr. Hundert has, he has without need of power, position or wealth... what Cedric threw away, he can't replace through any amount of power, position or wealth.

The best things in life are free... but you've got to earn them, and sometimes fight for them; and some worthy few even choose to risk their lives for your chance to enjoy them.

Thank you to all those who chose the harder right, and especially the Veterans who agreed to risk their lives for it, if need be.

UPDATE - Pictures from the St. Louis Veterans Day Parade
Special thanks to Dana Loesh for inviting us to march with her crew in the parade, my daughter & I were honored to show our support.

Dana Loesh (in a strep throat burqa), Me, Patch Adams and Chris Loesch , ready to roll

... coming around the corner... (pic swiped from Patch Adams)
Parading past Soldiers Memorial
The best message of all!

Patch posted a video that should be an alarming shame in contrasts to all. For those who did turn out for the parade yesterday, thank you, your quality isn't questioned, but for the quantities of others who couldn't be bothered, shame on you.

Monday, November 09, 2020

Disenfranchising 'We The People' by failing to follow the formal and organized process of an election

Every four years, on the Tuesday after the 1st Monday of November, We The People after much discussion and debate, come together to hold an election to determine who will be the President of the United States of America. Most people at least have some idea of why they want an election - even if it's just to get your guy in, and get the other guy out - but few seem to give much thought to what an Election actually is. One decent definition to start the thought rolling with, is:
election -[əˈlekSH(ə)n] NOUN: "a formal and organized process of electing or being elected, especially of members of a political body."
It seems obvious that "formal and organized process" indicates laws, rules & steps to be followed, right? Such formal and organized processes provide detailed, mostly mandatory, instructions that cover everything from determining who or what is being voted upon in that election, to how the voting is to occur, how it is to be conducted, and counted, and certified to the satisfaction of all, and it happens to be one area of our Constitution that has undergone the most changes through constitutional amendments, and legislation at the state and local level. Why? So that those processes would comply with how We The People have thought it was important to define, and redefine, and improve those processes over the years.

I personally don't think that many of the intended 'improvements' were actually improvements, but that's neither here nor there - those rules are what do define our electoral system, and my thoughts and feelings about them, do not. Do you feel that your preferences and feelings should have that power over our laws? I hope not.

Does it seem reasonable to you that such 'a formal and organized process' as established by We The People to manage those in power over us, should be abandoned mid-way through, because a partial tally plucked out of an ongoing process, suits the designs and desires of one faction of We The People, as having told them all they wanted to hear? Would you put up with calling a baseball game after the 7th inning, or a Super Bowl without knowing the ref's call on the chaotic last second touchdown? Should we really treat an election as something less than a game? Should we permit some of We The People to ignore our formal and organized processes, and essentially say:
"Hey! Hold up! No need to finish, some of us like how things appear right now, so there's no need to continue, how about we just stop and run with that, ok?! Huh? Whatcha think? Some of you like it? Ok, cool, we're done here then, congratulations to the person we wanted to win! The rest of you can suck it."
I'm a hard 'No' on that, as it would mean disenfranchising those voters (all of them, actually) not yet counted or resolved. So what do we mean by that word 'disenfranchised'?:
disenfranchise[ dis-en-fran-chahyz ] verb - to deprive (a person) of a right of citizenship, as of the right to vote.
We The People have gone through a great deal of discussion, debate and effort in order to formally organize our electoral system in such a way so as to ensure that all valid voters can participate in the electoral process, and so that no one will be 'disenfranchised' from the process of casting their vote and having it counted in that election.

So let me ask you: If you declare one candidate to be a winner, congratulate that candidate for winning, before the process of counting and certifying votes in a disputed election is completed, and if you assert that 'The election is over!', when it's not, aren't you effectively disenfranchising those voters whose votes are yet to be counted or resolved?

It's a serious question. Do you have an answer?

I'm asking because nowhere in our formal and organized processes for handling an election, is there any mention made that any consideration should be given, let alone given leave to alter or halt our electoral processes, because of the predictions of popular pollsters or the projections of various news media and pundits. Neither are there provisions made for the feelings of those who're prematurely and jubilantly celebrating what they do not yet have a reason to celebrate - such external considerations are nowhere factored into that formal and organized process which We The People have established, for determining the results of our presidential elections.

Do you know what is factored into those formal and organized processes? Formal methods for lodging complaints, charges, and investigations into what are perceived to be questionable or fraudulent behaviors within that formally defined and organized process.

Those are legitimate concerns.

Your desire for it to be over with, is not!

Those who are ignoring the electoral process, those who are loudly and publicly congratulating a fictional 'President Elect' and congratulating them for that fiction, those who are demanding that we all behave as if the election is over, are actively serving to disenfranchise their fellow citizens, and to overthrow the will of We The People as a sacrifice to their premature and immature feelings.

Depriving anyone of the civil right to vote which is derived from the nature of being a citizen - whether by preventing their voting, or by discarding their vote, or simply by declaring a 'conclusion' without bothering to count all legitimate votes - those are all actions which effectively serve to disenfranchise We The People of our civil rights as citizens of this nation.

That's should be a big deal. Shouldn't it?

In every presidential election, the entire electoral process is formally carried out and followed through to the end, every time. Even in those elections where the initial numbers seem so obvious to all involved that one candidate has won, and their chief rival calls the winner to concede the election and congratulate the winner, that is but a polite formality which allows all involved to either mope or celebrate and quickly get on with the rest of their daily lives. But even during those niceties, the formal process of carefully counting and certifying the votes, of processing any challenges to the election, from the local level on up to the state level, is all methodically carried out, and only once it has all been determined to have been properly concluded, does the electoral process come to an end - months later - with an official recording of the fact of who won the election.

All of our comfortable TV News elections, from 1960 to 1996, which we sometimes stayed up late to watch, or maybe woke up the next day to find out which candidate had called the other candidate to concede and congratulate his former opponent on winning & promised his support - every single one of those elections, still ran on outside the media, to complete the full electoral process.

Because there were little or no disputes in those elections, many complacent Americans were at some point surprised to discover that those elections were not actually decided on their evening news after they'd voted, but by the electoral college in mid December, and even then were still not officially called and recorded until the incoming congress did so in the coming January. Most people had no clue about that process until things didn't go so smoothly, and a candidate had not conceded (or had conceded, and then reneged on their concession, ala algore in 2000), and only then did so many of us begin to realize how not only inappropriate, but improper, and divisive it was, for someone to have declared one candidate to be the winner, when in fact that had not yet been determined. Doing so would publicly be dismissing the legitimate questions and complaints - not proven, mind you, only legitimately lodged - and inflame still more hostile passions across and throughout the nation.

That was, and is, a bad, and even a dangerous thing to do, doesn't it?

The process of lodging complaints is an important part of the electoral process, to ignore or dismiss them, is playing with the power of political fire.

Our formal and organized process of voting, allows for those citizens involved to monitor the process and if they detect misbehavior, they can and should, call a halt - by law - and have the process investigated. When that happens, it is not only technically wrong to behave as if a winner has been agreed upon and declared, it is an insult and an affront to ALL of the citizenry, both those whose vote has been counted, and those who're being told that their concerns and votes are of no concern to anyone else. To deliberately ignore or inflame the concerns of people who have a legitimate interest in the legitimacy of an election for major political power over their lives, and to refuse to address those legal options that are formally established and organized for the remedying of such issues, is an insanely dangerous tactic to take, and especially so when cities are still in flames over widespread social unrest.

Insane, at best, and something more akin to criminal negligence, is more like it, endangering the peace, property, and lives of all Americans, by sowing the poisonous seeds of discord, leading both the unwary and unwise to believe that all is over and their guy won (a result which is still very possible, and perhaps even probable, but only by adhering to the formal and organized processes of the election), and offering the cruelest of insults to the valid concerns of those who can only see themselves as being disenfranchised by the 'other side', bad blood, and very possibly violence, even rioting, might follow.

And finally, I hope you'll notice that I have not once raised the specific concerns or candidates in this election - these concerns are true and apply across every presidential election.

Those of you - Left, Right & Center - who persist in ignoring our electoral process, who are shouting 'Congratulations!' as if the formal and organized process of our election had run its course, you are not behaving 'in line with a desire to unify and restore trust in the election process', you are not being magnanimous, you aren't even being clever, or 'getting what's yours!' (though you soon may), by celebrating what has not yet been determined. What you are being, is short sighted, rude, negligent fools, foolishly playing with political fires which actively threaten your fellow citizens and communities and ensure that your nation, your people, and very possibly yourselves, will experience extended turmoil, unrest, and very probably even violence.

Shame on you. And in the year of 2020, I feel fairly confident in saying that your presumptuousness and thoughtlessness is going to lead to disastrous consequences for you, and for us all.

Sunday, November 01, 2020

The Vote is upon us - Please be sure that real life fits within the context of your vote

I haven't had the time or energy to write another post on voting, but really, what's changed since 2016, other than what we didn't know about Trump then, and we now do (see Ben Shapiro's video below for his reasons for turning from NeverTrump in 2016 to pro-Trump2020)? See, for instance the Trump administration's successes in appointing judges, an amazing amount of regulations gutted or repealed, our military used but not abused (Syria & Iran have been struck, but not escalated into wars); North Korea while not 'solved', has been downgraded from 'on the boil', to 'simmering'; Trump actually moved our U.S. Embassy to Israel's capital in Jerusalem; has brought about three major agreements between Israel and Arab Muslim nations; and unlike many urgings from the Left (and 'the right'), he has not forced states to comply with China virus mandates, neither has he imposed federal forces on states with Democrat governors and mayors who're ok with seeing their cities 'peacefully burning'. Still

Altogether, Trump has had a far better performance record than Bush 41 or Bush 43, and I'll use Trump's name on my ballot this Tuesday with a greater ease of mind than I did for either Romney or McCain..

And of course, as I've noted in previous posts, Biden is just as pro-regressively anti-American and corrupt as Hillary was, and as the argument then and now is less about the candidates than their ideology (or lack of), really, if I just swap out Hillary for Joe/Kamala, the same argument still applies, and perhaps even moreso. So, without further ado, Back to the future:
So. Where do you start your consideration of how to vote from? I've posted time and time again over the last decade, on how easily being 'Principled!' in voting, can cease to be principled... such as When acting 'on principle' is unprincipled behavior - part 1, and Part 2 here, or It's time to vote - Why?, and numerous other times over the years - if you'd like a more in-depth treatment, of the matter, look there. 
But for the moment now, this will have to do.

Painful as it is for me to say (again), the only principled choice in this election, is the GOP Nominee & current President of the United States: Donald J. Trump. If you wish to make a principled decision, then cast your ballot for Donald J. Trump, as the only effective electoral means of defeating the greater threat to liberty and the rule of law, Hillary Clinton Joe Biden/Kamala Harris. Period.

Some of you might be taken aback by that. I suggest that you examine your principles, before once again consulting them.

What are they derived from?

As I've often said, Principles are a guide to thinking, not a substitute for it. Are you using your 'principles' to think, or to evade that?

Principles are derived from an hierarchical view of reality, from what is understood to be true within a given context, and by applying timeless truths to the moment within time, to determine what are the most moral and the most practical actions to take - if you assume the two are contradictory, you need to give your mind an acid wash and cleanse it of the muck of modernity (clues here)!

If your principles do not adjust to significant changes in the context of a situation, then they are no longer principles, they are merely positions, and to confuse the two is both unprincipled, and deadly dangerous.

To re-purpose an old Buddhist phrase:
"If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!.'
For you coders out there, what this means is that you've taken the intellectual equivalent of an abstract class for managing reality (a principle), and hard-coded some fixed parameters within it, hopelessly tying it to one narrow particular situation. For the rest of you: Don't litter your generalities with specifics - you only transform them into rigid rules that are irrelevant and useless.

IOW if your 'Principles' do not direct you to adjust your actions, when the context of the situation has significantly changed, then they are no longer functioning principles; you've corrupted and zombiefied them, likely by emotionally attaching them to particulars of the moment.

For instance, for me, as my relevant 'principles' are derived from an understanding of the meaning of America, the candidate that I actively endorse and support needs to be someone who demonstrates an understanding of, and respect for, our Constitution and the Individual Rights it was designed to uphold and protect, through the Rule of Law and limited to that purpose. Those principles led me to choose Sen. Cruz over Trump in the primaries, because Cruz's experience demonstrated an understanding of, and his polices were compatible with, my principled understanding (rooted in Individual Rights, Property Rights, under Constitutionally limited govt) of what the President of the United States of America is supposed to be the Chief Executive of. On the other hand, Trump... I'd no idea what he stood for, let alone what his principles were, beyond some managerial skills and popular charisma aligned with a vaguely 'pro-Americana-ish' sensibility.

But Ted Cruz lost the primary, and the primaries are over. Which meant that key, significant aspects of the context of my vote and the election, had radically changed.

My principles towards who I can support and endorse have not changed, but the new phase of the election is not about my choice for who would be the best candidate to run for POTUS. Instead, the election in question is now about selecting a candidate from those options which the electoral process of the nation - of which I am a citizen of - has placed on the ballot, and from which one WILL be selected by the voters, to be POTUS.

If your principles did not enable you to adjust with that context, if your 'Principles!' have instead urged you to ignore the actual potential outcomes of the election, and have instead led you towards some form of personal self-gratification in the voting-booth, then what you are following are positions, not principles.

The fact is, that the context has changed, and you must choose anew from the available options. While Trump is still an unknown and flamboyant player, he is one of the two leading candidates from which the winner will be chosen. If the two front-runners shared fundamental principles of mine, then I'd choose from the best able to further them. However, they don't. Neither one matches up with what I consider important. However, one will be elected, so the next question to be asked is not how can I wash my hands of this choice, but does one of them pose a greater threat to that which I value and which is the purpose of this election: the nation, our system of gov, and all of the people living under it?

For the answer to that, see my previous posts, especially "Perverting Progress into Poison - the Doppelganger Strikes Back - The Rule of Law in Progress or Regress pt.9b", and "Progressively Doing away with Truth - How Pro-Regressives see Regress as Progress pt 9c", is yes, the Pro-Regressive 'Progressive' Leftist candidate is by far, the greater threat. While I still can't endorse Trump or offer my support for his unknown qualifications [Trump has since proven himself to be by far the most able Republican President of the last 32 years], I can, and must, oppose that greater threat, with the most effective means electoral means available, which, from those options available to select from, as provided by the nations electoral process, of which we are citizen participants in, that is the GOP nominee and current President of the United States: Donald J. Trump.

If you grasp the context, the principles involved, and the threats to them, then there is little reason to quibble, and no room for any of the 'adult' whining about it that I've been painful witness of. The only viable option, is Trump. Done. Grow up, cast your vote and move on.

Hopefully you'll join me, beginning the day after he is elected (fingers crossed), in working to educate the electorate as to what ideas, principles and considerations they should have a more solid understanding of, but until then, we go to vote with the ballots we have.

Would I prefer to have a candidate that I could feel confident would understand, support and defend the Constitution? Absolutely. Sadly, tragically, that is not the option, IMHO, that the American people have left us with. The reality is that we do not have anyone available, conceptually and electorally, who I can see fits the bill, not in the two major parties, or, even if they were electorally viable, in any of the third party candidates. Still, there will be an election - Tuesday - and one candidate Will win it. If this were a cycle with generally pro-American candidates, whose main differences were simply policy, then we'd have an election with someone to vote For, and without having to be too concerned with if they lost (again, sadly, we haven't seen an election like that in over a century).

But that is not the reality we're facing.

We have a front runner for the Left who is possessed of an anti-American philosophy, and if you need a reminder, these are just a few of the founding ideals of the 'American Progressives' that Hillary Joe Biden/Kamala Harris identifies as being: 
  • "Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent."
  • "The tradition of respect for individual liberty, Gladden preached, was "a radical defect in the thinking of the average American."
  • "...Individuals, Ross maintained, were but "plastic lumps of human dough," to be formed on the great "social kneading board.
Those are the fundamentals which guide here in the laws and policies that she will implement.

If elected, she will have not only enjoy the support of the bulk of Congress behind her in her efforts, but the wide landscape of the judiciary, to which she will deliberately add more equally anti-American judges to the Supreme Court, not to mention the entire bureaucracy of all the administrative agencies, such as EPA, FDA, IRS, etc, that will be behind her as well.

Outside of govt proper, she will also enjoy the full support of academia, the educational bureaucracy, the media, Hollywood, etc. In 8 yrs, Obama has transformed the bulwark of our Constitution, into little more than something of a fundraising talking point for a few of those 'on the right'... and that's about it. And the culture of our nation has slid at least as far down and to the Left. That is where a Hillary Clinton Joe Biden/Kamala Harris presidency will be starting from. They will Not stop at the level of economic policies, they will do everything in their power to extend govt power past what we can do, and into what we will be allowed to think and hope of doing.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that I see the Left gaining power at this point in time, as an Evil, and a far greater one than is posed by Trump, no matter how foolish or corrupt he might be.

The Left Must be slowed. Period. And the most effective means of doing that, sickeningly, is with the GOP nominee.

I don't like it one bit. I've disliked Trump since the 1980's, but this isn't about my preferences or sensibilities, but about attempting to keep the greater evil from gaining power.

Once again, I in No way am a supporter of Trump - I'm an opposer of the pro-regressive 'Progressive' Left. I have no basis in reasoned experience [a great deal of experience in what he's accomplished... if still not much admiration for the manner he often goes about doing it. Still though, as decades of 'conservative' politicians have proven, getting results today, isn't going to be accomplished in the old mannerly manner] to believe that Trump will succeed in accomplishing anything good (there's good reason to believe he'll accomplish quite a bit that'll be worthwhile, though surely with some that'll turn my stomach), I have reams of information and understanding of the Pro-Regressive 'Progressive' Leftist candidate, who is the most vicious believer and operator the Left has fielded in a century (Joe may or may not be, Kamala almost certainly is).

I am not supporting Trump, I'm opposing the Left's Hillary Clinton Joe Biden/Kamala Harris.

To treat this election as if it is simply a choice between policy options, is ignorant, and borderline insanity, and the habit of treating the left as just another policy choice, is what has had a great deal to do with the Right's failure over the last many decades; failing - refusing - to confront the meaning of their policies, and I'm speaking of those who think in terms of defining their 'principles', which are anti-American, has been a futile, foolish policy of 'competitive appeasement'.

By anti-American, I don't mean they are bad people who kick puppies and are mean to all - I've far too many friends and family who are leftists, who I know to be wonderful, kind, generous people, to give that a moments consideration. But then I don't define America by is boundaries or 'baseball, hot dogs, apple pie...', but by the ideas that first made it possible, and which our founding documents embody. That means ideas that recognize and uphold individual rights, property, and a rule of Law that recognizes their being upheld, as its purpose. To deliberately infringe upon, or negate those principles, Is to advance ideas and positions that are, necessarily, anti-American.

And by evil, I mean that the driving philosophy behind the Left, is opposed to even recognizing that reality can be known (see Kant), is deliberately intent upon imposing their will over and against what is real and true, and because they prefer their wishes to reality, they feel justified in having 'experts' and legislators 'force us to be free', which goes back to Rousseau, and as this quote indicates, has persisted from then, to Joseph Stalin, and has certainly not been denounced in our day,
"...We will mercilessly destroy anyone who, by his deeds or his thoughts—yes, his thoughts!—threatens the unity of the socialist state..."
as well as every PC re-education program anyone had ever been sentenced to, is alive and kicking in the left.

Finally, it is the intent and deep desire of the Left, to not allow people to live their own lives, but to use govt power to live their lives for them, and I most definitely do see that as being evil.

This Tuesday don't simply react, think before you vote, vote as if your grand children's lives depend upon it, as I assure you, they do.