Monday, March 01, 2021

Andrew Breitbart - the long years past

When I heard Dana's comments today, it brought it all back again like it was yesterday, rather than nine years ago. What follows are a few posts of mine from the past, the first from eight years ago, reacting to what had happened just the year before, and before that post, my post on reading Andrew Breitbart's book before his passing had yet occurred, when I could still read him and expect to meet him... next time he was in town. 

Careful with those 'next time's folks, illusions like that will leave you dazed and confused. 

Back to eight years ago:

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When I saw Dana Loesch's post on the anniversary of Andrew Breitbart's death this morning, I was a little stunned - not that it was today, I couldn't forget that (it's my wife's birthday), but that it has been only one year. Not possible. So much has happened since, so much has changed... surely, if not five years, at least three.

Nope. One year. Amazing.

And whether one year or five, the shock of his absence would be no less - my heart goes out to his family and friends.

43. So young.

But what an impact he made. As I said privately to friends earlier, the price of experiencing life with someone who is great, is their absence. What a void is left... one you wouldn't have been aware of if you'd never known them. No one else can be like them, or replace them, a fact that is so truly and painfully obvious once they are forever gone.

But as those who actually knew him know better than anyone else, having had the good fortune of experiencing life with a Great one like Andrew Breitbart - that experience is priceless.

I'm going to repost my post from last year, which included my earlier review of his book (Buy the book!), but first two of my favorite quotes from Aeschylus:
"There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief"
, and,
"In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."
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Thursday, March 01, 2012

A Warrior Poet goes unexpectedly to rest.
A picture swiped from a friend,
from the dinner I missed
Damn... the news today knocked the wind right out of my sails as I turned on the radio this morning and heard that Andrew Breitbart had died during the night at the too young age of 43. So young, but what an impact he made in that short time, truly amazing.

On one of his stops through St. Louis, Dana Loesch invited a number of us to dinner with them, and to my regret then, I couldn't make it, regrets that are all that much greater today.
It may be a bit odd, but the image that has always come to mind when I think of Andrew Breitbart, is Stephen, the crazy Irishmen in Braveheart, the one who says

"Ireland, it's my island!" and "The Lord tells me he thinks he can get me outta this, but he's pretty sure you're fooked."
, a slightly manic, happy warrior, who sees the battle clearly, knows what must be done, and does his best to do it, no matter the consequences. My heart goes out to his wife and children, and his many, many friends and fellow warriors, and among them especially to Dana & Chris Loesch.

Here's a repost of mine from  last year, from picking up his book, "Righteous Indignation", a book I heartily recommend: 

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Saturday, May 07, 2011

 Strolling through CostCo yesterday waiting for our pizza order, I idly picked up Andrew Breitbart's "'Righteous Indignation' Excuse me while I save the world!'" from the book table. It wasn't on my list of books I wanted to read next, but the rest of the stack was even less interesting, so I opened it up and began thumbing through it, and caught my eye on the introduction
"To my Dad Gerald Breitbart, and Clarence Thomas, two decent men who inspired me to act."
Hmmm. Thomas is my favorite Supreme of the last century +... and he wasn't what I expected to find in Breitbart's book.

Okayyy. Thumbing forward, I glanced over the first couple pages and then saw this on page 3,
"When the Soviet Union disintegrated, the battle simply took a different form. Instead of missiles the new weapon was language and education..."
Ok. Now I'm actually reading, not just glancing,
"... and the international left ahd successfully constructed a global infrastructure to get its message out.
Schools. Newspapers. Network news. Art. Music Film. Television.
For decades the left understood the importance of education, art, and messaging.
Oprah Winfrey gets it. David Geffen gets it. Bono gets it. President Barack Obama gets it. Even Corey Feldman gets it.
But the right doesn't. For decades the right felt the Pentagon and the political class and simple common sense could win the day. They were wrong."
Yeah... ok, this book is bought. Mine. In the cart it went.

I began reading it late last night, and through this morning, not finished yet, but so far it's a rollicking good read. His descriptions of his parents matches mine pretty darn well, down to the stern talk with his Mom at the depths of his college dissolution; substitute his college years at Tulane, Louisiana, with my decade at Travelling Rock Band U, West Coast Campus, and there's a lot of fun (and embarrassing) recollection points.

Those superficial points aside, so far it's a very entertaining and accurate summary of events from the last two decades, and very interesting to get the view from the interior of the early internet Drudge Report worlds entrance of the New Media, and the old media's horror at the noisy uninvited guest.

What sealed the deal and prompted me to post this recommendation of the book, was chapter six, 'Breakthrough', which begins with his wondering how it was that things came to be the way they are today. He (correctly) assumes that today's Marxist left didn't just spring fully formed out of the 1960's, so where did the flight from our American roots come from?

He makes a brief essentialized summary of our Founding Father's conception of things, and then nails it with something I very rarely see, and always am thrilled by when I see that someone else sees what I see. From page 107,
"The Founders' realistic view of human nature and call for limited government and individual liberty found its opponent in the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and, later, Karl Marx. Rousseau thought that people were naturally good and were corrupted only by the development of the surrounding society (he himself was not naturally good, fathering five children out of wedlock and abandoning them all to orphanages). He also thought that modern society, created as it was to protect property rights and life, had destroyed the natural communism that prevailed before the advent of society."
YES!!! Damn I love to see that in print. Hard to fight an enemy if you don't know who it is, and too often people pin the our problems to developments that came far too late in the game, and then unknowingly buy into aspects of the real problem, in an attempt to fix things [insert most of modern proRegressive republicans here]. As I noted in a recent post,
"Modern political philosophy began when Jean Jacque Rousseau declared that he’d traced the origins of injustice to the first man who fenced off property and called it his own, married a woman and started a family. Everything else in political modernity is rooted in that thought, and it is in absolute opposition to what this nation was founded upon, Property Rights and the family."
Back to the book, Breitbart continues,
"To people like Rousseau, the solution to the evils of the current society was the creation of a new "social contract," one based on the "general will." The "general will" didn't need any checks and balances, because it embodied the entire will of the people. And if individuals argued with the general will, they lost.
Karl Marx's ideas picked up where Rousseau's left off. Unlike the Founders or even Rousseau, he didn't care much about human nature - for him, human nature didn't really exist. In fact, he went further: human natue was produced by surrounding society. If human nature was to be changed, it could be changed only by destroying the surrounding society."
Aside from, IMHO, cutting just a little too much slack to Rousseau, and giving too much originality to Marx, I give that a hearty "Yeah Baby!", and a thumbs up recommendation of the rest of the book for anyone looking for a very readable, entertaining and also informative book on where we are today and where the battle needs to be taken in order to save the day.

It's not often that someone gets the essentials like he does, and can pin the start of the rot to Rousseau and Marx, without getting distracted by all the rest. I wonder if maybe because of his background in the entertainment industry, Breitbart wasn't overly impressed with where most libertarians and Ayn Rand Objectivists seem to stop and peg as the first cause of our modern troubles, with Immanuel Kant. As important as ideas are, the imaginative expression of them, trumps their sheer cataloging and explanations of most philosophers, Kant especially.

Kant, it's true, was a game changer in philosophy, after him, Nazi Germany and the killing fields of Communism from the USSR through Red China & Cambodia, were all but guaranteed, but Kant mostly just put tomes worth of intellectual justification under the ideas of Rousseau (not that any of Kant's misosophy is valid or worthwhile, but it's long, and B.S's enough to successfully tell the self impressed whim worshiper exactly what it is they want to hear in order to justify whatever it is that they want to do).

But Kant is about as exciting to read as a manual on how to kill yourself by reading dense, boring, twaddle, and he would have gone nowhere, would never have been recognized, without being able to ride upon the inspiration of Rousseau's siren song of naturalistic self indulgence, posing as intellectualism.

And, skimming ahead, that looks like that's probably more than Breitbart bothers the reader with, looks like he moves on to a very brief sentence or two on Hegel and Marx, the path to Teddy Roosevelt, Wilson and the ProRegressives, identifies a couple quick quotes that capture the essentials of them, from Teddy Roosevelt,
"To hell with the Constitution when the people want coal!"
. and Wilson,
"Justly revered as our great constitution is, it could be stripped off and thrown aside like a garment, and the nation would still stand forth clothed in the living vestment of flesh and sinew, warm with the heart-blood of one people, ready to recreate constitutions and laws."
and
"Men as communities are supreme over men as individuals".
, then jumps to Gramsci & the Frankfurt School, but just that one mention was a thrill for me to see in popular print.

Anyway, if you're looking for a good read, and a guide for how you can help take the battle to where it's going to be the most effective, pick up Breitbart's "Righteous Indignation", and enjoy joining in on saving the world.

Ok, going back to reading the book.

Note: Buy the book.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Political Crime & Punishment with Balking Heads

A friend & I who most often come to similar conclusions, differ on whether the Senate's trial against Donald Trump...is constitutional, or not. Though Morgan thinks that what the Leftists' are doing is "...stupid and dishonest...", he does think it is constitutional, and I most definitely do not think the Senate trial is constitutional - does he have a point? Well... let's have a look at the Impeachment Clauses themselves:
"Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5 The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Article 1, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7 The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried the Chief Justice shall preside; And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgement in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgement and Punishment, according to Law."
So where does the disagreement come from? I think it has to do with where he and many others are beginning from - the Impeachment Clauses themselves. Why? Because, IMHO, they aren't the proper place to start such reasoning from, they're the last part of the process, and with a false start, you're as likely to make a false conclusion as a 'correct' one. Keep in mind here, that I'm looking only at how people can have an honest disagreement over the matter, as distinct from the dishonest and corrupt efforts of the Pro-Regressives (Left & Right) in the media and Democrat & Republican parties (if you can square their words & actions with law and justice... please, show me how), and they have no relation to those who, like Morgan, are honestly looking at the matter, and trying to determine what is, and is not, constitutional (and BTW, Morgan's got some questions that I'd love to see being taken up in the 'trial' this week).

So with that in mind, and attempting to use the impeachment clauses as our starting point, lets see if we can see what the veritable parser of clauses might see.

If you start with the impeachment clauses themselves, what do you have to go on? Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5, is pretty straight forward, and though historically every other congress has had the good sense of responsibility to at least pretend to intend to have honest hearings, and to bring reasonable charges, the Constitution doesn't say a word about their having to do that. Pelosi got the House of Representatives to impeach the then currently sitting president, again, and that's that. We can argue over whether it was wise to do so, but there's no real argument over whether it was constitutional of the House to do so. It was. It was also stupid and corrupt... but... that doesn't make it unconstitutional, it only shows what kind of thinking is representative of all too sizable a segment of the people living in America, today.

So then what? Article 1, Section 3, Clause 6, says that only the Senate has the power of trying impeachments, and that 'when the President of the United States is tried the Chief Justice shall preside' - do you think that that presents a problem to the earnest clause parser? No, I think, not really, as that too could easily go either way. For instance, if Parser #1 thought that such a line did actually settle matters, then Parser #2 could easily point out that that which refers to the current President, is just as simple a matter of pointing out that since the former president is no longer the current president, then the Chief Justice needn't preside. Sure, Parser #2 would then call out 'next!' and move on, as his fellow Parser's head explodes on the spot. If Parser #1 balks at that, Parser #2 might point to the last portion of the clause which says, that: "...no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.", and point out that it says 'person', and not President, right?! Balk & balk, and on they go. We'll leave them there, for now, and move on.

And so what about Clause 7? Here especially, from what I've seen of people honestly trying to parse this out, there seems to be an almost even-odds chance of them coming out one way, or the other. Clause Parser #1 will point out that "Judgement in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, AND disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States", and conclude that 'You can't remove someone who's not in office, amiright?' Right you are, Parser #1... but... then... Parser #2 will point out that 'disqualifications' from holding office, is still on the table. "No it's not!" Parser #1 will reply, 'didn't you see the 'AND'? They can only be disqualified after being removed from office!'. But, as Parser #2 will then point out, that 'and' is preceded by a comma, which makes it less a logically binding of 'This AND that', than an optional listing of 'You can choose from this, and this, and this, and this', indicating that those are options are all available, but optional.' and so forth, and so on the balking heads go.

See what I mean? Beginning from the Impeachment Clauses themselves, will lead honest people into balking heads, balking at this point, and that, and they can go no further - seriously, how could either hope to go any further than endlessly 'Yes!/No!'ing each another from there?

Now, as I said, I do not think that the senate can properly put former president Trump on trial before the senate, but I also do not think that that point can be made and understood, simply on the basis of a common sense reading and parsing of the clauses alone, because 'answers', one way or the other, are only too easy to find, and only too easy to feel satisfied with. And that's pretty much where my back & forth with Morgan was stuck at, as he was looking at the clauses themselves, and found no way to look beyond them when any of the above points were pointed out, such as the point that Trump was no longer in office, Morgan simply replied:
"... But, Trump *was* in office when he was impeached.
The question thereby becomes relevant: Is he so unsuitable for that office that he should never enter it again? I maintain this question is predicated on premises that are not only false, but laughable. But that doesn't make it unconstitutional. The Senate has a valid impeachment article. As I said in my blog post, if they vote to acquit and the House says "Hold up, we just thought of something else we're going to impeach him again"...that's a different conversation. That's a bill of attainder. Congress authorizes the House to act upon the office, not the person; and it authorizes the Senate to act upon the *article*. Both are expressly prohibited from acting upon the person.
And neither one is. The President Pro Tem is presiding over the trial, just as he would preside over the trial of any article impeaching someone other than the sitting President of the US..."
We went back & forth through several feet worth of comments, and not surprisingly, we got no further, as most of the honest arguments that I've seen over the matter, end up in irresolvable 'Yes!/No!'s, and no one can decisively say otherwise. Even Wapo (who I in no way consider to be an honest actor in this) admits: Can a former president be subject to an impeachment trial? The Constitution is murky. The experts (establishment) are split (Libertarianish), and not surprisingly, as more legal experts - the vast majority of whom have learned the law through only the modern positivist parsing of it - side with the Pro-Regressive (Left & Right)'s point of view.

IMHO, the honest differences involved stem from a different approach being taken to not just the law, but to thinking itself, which might be summed up as a tendency to go straight to analysis, in order to arrive at their interested ends, vs performing analysis only after having engaged in synthesis. Think... the modernist 'Critical Thinking' (which Morgan has a favorable view of) approach of looking at what's presented and immediately performing a logical analysis of it, vs the more traditionally reasoned approach, which I favor, of first seeking to understand what it is that's being discussed, checking and verifying the premises of the argument being presented, it's then and only then, if they check out, moving on to perform those logical comparisons needed to test the validity of the argument being presented.

So if we want to get beyond the endless 'Yes!/No!' of balking heads, we've got to begin by starting where we should have focused upon, at the beginning, rather than the end. And the first step of entering deeper into that argument, begins with the immediate surface level definition of the word, Impeachment, which is defined as:
'1.(especially in the US) a charge of misconduct made against the holder of a public office.'
, where the 'holder' is '2. a person who holds something'. That alone will get us no further and deeper in the matter than it did above... unless we begin looking beyond the text of the clauses themselves and into their meaning, do that, and, then we might begin to take notice of what's in the parenthesis at the start of #1:
"(especially in the US)..."
The alert reader will notice that that is an indication that a different approach to impeachment may exist elsewhere. Does that matter to us in the US? Well, No, and Yes, meaning that it doesn't matter what Canada, or Mexico may or may not define or use the word for today, but it does matter how it was elsewhere defined in what formed the basis of our Founder's understanding of Law, even and especially where they disagreed with that. To that end, I'd urge you to read through the links at the bottom of the page that I linked those clauses from, and especially to the last two, both of which came from early and distinguished commentators on our Constitution, the first from from William Rawls, which gives a fine overview of the thinking prevalent in our Founder's time, and the second and far more extensive and comprehensive link, is to former Supreme Court Justice, Joseph Story, whose commentaries on the Constitution formed the basis for Constitutional Law for nearly a century, until that point where our Law schools began to actively distance themselves from the thinking of our Founding Fathers, in the 1930's.

Why those apply especially to this part, 'especially in the US', is that they give more than a little history on how and why impeachment developed under the English Crown, and how they deliberately differed from that, and how, and more significantly, why, our Founders defined the process as differently from the English as they did, strictly confining charges of impeachment to 'civil officers' of the United States, including the president and vice-president, who could then be put on 'Political Trial' for, and have judgement rendered against them for 'Political Crimes'. And yes, there's an important reason for why I'm italicizing and underlining those terms, as they indicate an important and very clear distinction between private and civil life, and between both political and criminal charges.

First, there's the difference between Civil & Private life, that needs to be taken into account, as Justice Story puts it,
"... we speak of civil life, civil society, civil government, and civil liberty; in which it is nearly equivalent in meaning to political. It is sometimes used in contradistinction to criminal, to indicate the private rights and remedies of men, as members of the community, in contrast to those, which are public, and relate to the government...."
That distinction was an issue, under that English law which our Founders were deliberately seeking to improve upon. There, impeachment could be applied to a wide variety of person's, and our Founders had that very much in mind when writing the impeachment clauses as they did, as Joseph Story further notes,
"...In this respect, it differs materially from the law and practice of Great-Britain. In that kingdom, all the king's subjects, whether peers or commoners, are impeachable in parliament; though it is asserted, that commoners cannot now be impeached for capital offences, but for misdemeanours only. Such kind of misdeeds, however, as peculiarly injure the commonwealth by the abuse of high offices of trust, are the most proper, and have been the most usual grounds for this kind of prosecution in parliament. There seems a peculiar propriety, in a republican government at least, in confining the impeaching power to persons holding office. In such a government all the citizens are equal, and ought to have the same security of a trial by jury for all crimes and offences laid to their charge, when not holding any official character. To subject them to impeachment would not only be extremely oppressive and expensive, but would endanger their lives and liberties, by exposing them against their wills to persecution for their conduct in exercising their political rights and privileges. ..."[emphasis mine]
, and from that understanding of confining the impeaching power to persons holding office, goes to what the nature of Impeachment was understood by our Founders to mean, and to what they intended it to be used for, and to why it is that Impeachment is defined as: '1.(especially in the US) a charge of misconduct made against the holder of a public office'. Which is why I emphasize, that the impeachment clauses referred to some one person, who presently holds office.

Whatever we might say about the shoddy and rushed nature of the charges of impeachment that the House brought against President Trump, his term in office had not yet expired, and as the Constitution doesn't define the process any further, the charges of impeachment brought by the House are constitutional. But that's only the first step, and the second step comes as those charges are then taken up in a trial in the Senate (and what kind of trial is... and can... that be?), which is what we're going to be subjected to this week, which is occurring weeks after the expiration of the then president's term in office - which means that our Senate, in the name of We The People, will be subjecting a private person to a political trial, on charges of political crimes, and that, IMHO, is not at all acceptable, and is more in line with the practices of the British Crown, which is what our Founders were clearly seeking to distance us from, and for very good reasons, which we should respect and demand be upheld.

Some of the reasons for that,:
"...§ 783. As the offences, to which the remedy of impeachment has been, and will continue to be principally applied, are of a political nature, it is natural to suppose, that they will be often exaggerated by party spirit, and the prosecutions be sometimes dictated by party resentments, as well as by a sense of the public good. There is danger, therefore, that in cases of conviction the punishment may be wholly out of proportion to the offence, and pressed as much by popular odium, as by aggravated crime. ..."
, and,
"...§ 784. There is wisdom, and sound policy, and intrinsic justice in this separation of the offence, at least so far, as the jurisdiction and trial are concerned, into its proper elements, bringing the political part under the power of the political department of the government, and retaining the civil part for presentment and trial in the ordinary forum..."
The President of the United States - and not a private citizen who at one time may have held the office of the President of the United States, but the current office holder of that office - may be subjected to a political trial for political crimes, but a private citizen may not be subjected to political charges, over political crimes, in a political trial.

This is not and should not be, about Donald J. Trump - who is no longer our president and so cannot be removed from office - but about the dangerous notion of using the Constitution's Impeachment Clauses, to subject a private citizen to political crimes and punishments - not only do those charges no longer apply to him, but more importantly they do not under any circumstances, apply to any private citizens, and so the senate should not, must not, and cannot, constitutionally, try a private citizen on charges of impeachment. Those charges were constitutionally brought by the House, upon the public official who was then serving in office at that time, but who no longer is the President of the United States of America. Those are not charges that are suitable for being brought against American citizens, on charges which 'shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor'.

This does not mean that if a former president were suspected of having committed criminal acts while in office, that he would somehow be free from the long arm of the law. Take note of the last line of Clause 7, that "... the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgement and Punishment, according to Law.", IOW if the person in question is believed to have committed criminal acts, they most definitely can still be charged with them after leaving public office, just as any private citizen might be, and if those charges are found to have merit, then that person can be tried, and if found guilty, they can be convicted, and can be sentenced for those crimes - but that can happen only because they are criminal crimes, in criminal court, and not political crimes, being tried in a political court.

As Justice Story pointed out, there is a clear distinction between private affairs and civil duties, and there is also a distinction between what the private citizen can count on when charged in a court of law, and what they might be made to face up to in a political process. A private citizen in a criminal trial enjoys the 'due process of law' and conviction by 'unanimous agreement' of a jury of their peers who believe them to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt - that's not the case in an impeachment trial before the Senate, where it requires only that a 2/3 majority of sitting senators, who can hardly be seen as 'the peers', of that private citizen. The United States Senate, although constrained by laws, is not a court of law, and an impeachment trial is a political process applied only to members (present tense) of our government. The Senate has no power to try private individuals, and what they are now pursuing has far more in common with a British form of impeachment, or bill of attainder, or with a legislature singling out individuals for 'trial' and conviction... than it does our Founders political form of impeachment, and which would be a major constitutional no-no.

For those reasons, what the nature of Impeachment is (as applies to an office holder), for 'political' and not criminal charges, there is a distinction between an Office Holder, and what all office holders immediately revert to on leaving office, the resuming of their fully private status as private citizens, who are due the “privileges” and “immunities” as were later re-asserted in the 14th Amendment. The former 45th president is now a private citizen, and we should not, for any reason, be seeking to bring that private citizen, or any other, up on political charges. Period. If you have reason to believe that he's guilty of a crime, then charge him, try him, and even convict him, but that must be done as with a private citizen being brought up on criminal charges. In no way, shape or form, should a private citizen, be brought up on political charges, and tried in a political court. Ever.

NO.

A thought might have occurred to you here, as it did to Rawls, and to Story, and most others, which are longstanding questions which have not been resolved, such as:
'What happens if the president resigns as the trial begins, what happens? Can the impeachment trial continue?'
Would that be an escape? My answer to that, is no; if the person that is serving the political office of president, is in office when a trial is begun, then his resignation would amount to an evasion of lawful charges, and should be brushed aside - if President Ford hadn't pardoned Nixon after he resigned, he could have been tried in the senate on the charges that the House was presumably about to bring against him, as the prerequisites for the trial were met in that he was in office, and his term would've been active at the time of a Senate trial, and his resignation would have amounted to an attempt to evade trial, and so would have been in that context, invalid. But if the person proposed to be tried for 'political crimes', is not in political office at the start of the trial, because his elected term of office had concluded, then the conditions for a political trial are not met, and that trial is not appropriate.

Yes, the points that Morgan and others are making, do have a point - but only if you go on nothing more than the text of the Constitution alone. Yes, anyone who is capable of reading and using logic, can make the point that the constitution doesn't explicitly say that the President has to be in office, but such a 'logical' and legalistic parsing as that is, IMHO, an extraordinarily dangerous road to stroll down. In issues of power, if the rules defining it are unclear, then the ability to wield that power should default to the usage that is more restrictive towards governmental powers, than to those of private citizens. If you're not sure why, maybe you should think about the differing interpretations of the Commerce Clause, and of all of the enumerated powers of our Constitution's Article 1, Section 8, where similar Clause Parsers of the past and still in the painfully ever present moment, have enabled our government to insert itself into every aspect of our lives. Think of that same murkiness of interpretation being applied when it comes to the action of trying private citizens for political crimes, and by political rules.

For these 'clausal parsing's' and for many other reasons, I am most definitely not a 'Textualist', or of a 'Original Intent' school of thought, because by their similar natures, they also soon stray into equally stunted views of the law, leaving and exposing easy loopholes, which soon lead to evading the deeper meaning that the Constitution was written to express, and to secure; and while it is true that logic is a necessary component of constitutional thought, it is not a sufficient one. Logical comparisons are not a valid starting point, IMHO, as was widely understood up until the last century; instead, the proper starting point had been understood to begin with first asking whether the premises which those logical comparisons are to be performed upon, are true, or not. If not, there are no parsings to apply or logical comparisons to perform, and so no logical conclusion to be pretended to be arrived at, as the journey was cancelled when its premises were found to be untrue. Only after a successful step is completed, should we proceed on to the next step, and properly analyzing the issue requires beginning by looking at what the matter itself is, and then at what the processes, plural, involved are, and only after the matter is found to apply, and each successive step is properly completed, should we come to the part where judgements might be rendered, if found guilty.

Our Constitution was developed not out of ideological schools of 'law', but as the concept and purpose of Law naturally developed into (pre-American) constitutional structures through the concepts of natural law that it was later derived from, and major decisions cannot be made upon the basis of particular clauses without reference to the whole, but only with the full meaning of the law in mind which that clause expresses a portion of. In this particular case of impeachment, that process begins with the concept and history of impeachment itself, whose purpose is to remove an unfit person from political office, and as it was developed in America, to apply to political actors in political office. To accept that it is ok to impeach a private citizen, to try them, and to assign judgement upon them, for the purpose of preventing them from seeking political office in the future, is not only a case of the ends justifying the means, but is a matter of our government using our political processes to limit the available political actions and thoughts of American citizens. Such an action is not, and must not, be tolerated to be, in any sense, justified. 

If the term of the person serving in the political office of president, has not expired when a trial is begun, then the prerequisites for the trial are met, and any political penalties are appropriate to be applied to them, if they are found guilty. But if the political term of a person proposed to be tried for 'political crimes', has expired, and they are not in political office at the time of the start of the trial, then the conditions for holding a political trial are not met, and that trial is not, in any way, appropriate, allowable, justifiable, or constitutional.

The 45th president was impeached twice, and was tried in the senate for it once, and as his term in office has expired, he can no longer be constitutionally be tried for impeachment as an office holder. If someone wants to bring criminal charges, and can produce just cause for them, they may do so, but in no way do any aspects of impeachment apply to the former President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump.

I'll leave you with Joseph Story's summary, his opinion, and his realization that the Constitution itself doesn't settle the matter conclusively, that, sadly, is up to us... and judging from our current state of affairs, I think that We The People are the very last ones who should be trusted with the matter.
§ 801. As it is declared in one clause of the constitution, that "judgment, in cases of impeachment, shall not extend further, than a removal from office, and disqualification to hold any office of honour, trust, or profit, under the United States;" and in another clause, that "the president, vice president, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanours;" it would seem to follow, that the senate, on the conviction, were bound, in all cases, to enter a judgment of removal from office, though it has a discretion, as to inflicting the punishment of disqualification. If, then, there must be a judgment of removal from office, it would seem to follow, that the constitution contemplated, that the party was still in office at the time of the impeachment. If he was not, his offence was still liable to be tried and punished in the ordinary tribunals of justice. And it might be argued with some force, that it would be a vain exercise of authority to try a delinquent for an impeachable offence, when the most important object, for which the remedy was given, was no longer necessary, or attainable. And although a judgment of disqualification might still be pronounced, the language of the constitution may create some doubt, whether it can be pronounced without being coupled with a removal from office. There is also much force in the remark, that an impeachment is a proceeding purely of a political nature. It is not so much designed to punish an offender, as to secure the state against gross official misdemeanors. It touches neither his person, nor his property; but simply divests him of his political capacity.

...§ 803. It is not intended to express any opinion in these commentaries, as to which is the true exposition of the constitution on the points above stated. They are brought before the learned reader, as matters still sub judice, the final decision of which may be reasonably left to the high tribunal, constituting the court of impeachment, when the occasion shall arise....
The situation of 'when the occasion shall arise', has indeed arisen, and I'm very skeptical about whether We The People are going to rise to the occasion of it. We'll see.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Q: What are words for when no one listens anymore? A: To eliminate dissent and to impose 'Unity'

Random comments united by the passing scene
Here at the opening of 2021, it seems that ever more discussions of issues are being united by a common theme: What the topic of discussion actually is, and what the meaning of the words used in that discussion actually are, are the least relevant aspects of those discussions. It's as if we've moved past bothering with shouting and fighting over issues - which might actually require giving some attention to what it is that's being fought over - to ignoring 'their' words while demanding that they accept the position advanced by 'our' words. This isn't just annoying, it's dangerous, as when people aren't able to resolve their disagreements through words, power will eventually be used to impose a 'Unity' that others will be forced to accept.

I'll spare you the reams of examples I've recently had with this, and focus on one that's representative of what I've run into with the Left, Libertarians, Right, Trump'rs and NeverTrump'rs as well. In this, a post had caught my eye from a friend criticizing the website Parler being taken down by Amazon. What caught my attention had less to do with his post, than with the comment that his friend Eric had made on it, using a line that I've been seeing over and over again, that: "The internet is not 'a freedom", and "You aren't guaranteed free speech on private platforms...", which is, IMHO, a dangerously bad mash-up of the issue, and one which both Left & Right are falling into. And so I commented that:
"There are a couple issues in that. Freedom of speech is indeed a private matter, and the 1st amendment forbids Govt to interfere with it, but private companies can say what they want, or prevent speech they dislike, in their private businesses (like baking cakes), subject only to market forces and legal consequences. The Washington Post & CNN were recently hit with some of those consequences to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, when the student Nick Sandman sued them for what they said or edited out, when he was confronted by an Indian Activist in DC, 2yrs ago.

But WaPo & CNN are private companies, Not platforms. A clause in the Section 230 law governing internet communications, protects Platforms, against being sued for speech that others use their platform to convey, and it does so because by nature of being a platform, a virtual 'town square', is they don't have editorial control over what people say on their platforms.

Twitter, Facebook, Gooogle, etc., were created as platforms, but over the last several years they've been exerting editorial control - like WaPo & CNN - while the Govt shields them from the legal consequences of editorial mis-steps.

That's a problem all its own, and a big one (which enables them to accumulate wealth with fewer risks than any other private business faces, which has a large, detrimental, effect on all markets) that needs to be corrected.

Additionally, in a roundabout sort of way, the power which govt has extended to these platforms to escape the legal consequences of exercising (both in banning, deleting, and in their algorithms which promote and suppress speech) free speech, means that govt has actually made a law that promotes the violation of people's freedom of speech, and that does violate the 1st Amendment, not only in regards of freedom of speech, but freedom of association and assembly as well. And if those platforms are ideologically aligned with those in power in Govt, that's a clear and present danger to our liberty, whether those in power in each are of the Left, or Right.

And one last thing, respecting people's right to their opinion, used to be something that was expected of any decent person. Why is it that people are now behaving as if deliberately preventing others to express their opinion, is fine and dandy, as long as it's not Govt doing it?

That's also a problem... not a problem of laws, but a problem all the same, and, IMHO, a much bigger one."
Did I expect Eric to agree with me? No, but I'd hoped he would disagree with me by at least arguing for what he disagreed with, and why. Sure, most often little value comes of such online arguments, but what I'm always hoping for, which is what makes the unproductive responses worth going through, is the chance of hearing a perspective that I hadn't considered before, and perhaps even more importantly, that the people we're not aware of silently reading along with the thread, might get a perspective that they hadn't considered before. Rarer still, and still more valuable, are those occasions where your own understanding of the matter is affected, and even if your position remains unchanged, one or both arguers (and those silently following along at home), will come away with their minds at least somewhat altered, and the differences between you will become better understood because of the argument that was had.

No argument, no peace
Now I know what some of you are thinking, but despite what nervous people tend to say at family dinners, that is the point of an argument over politics & religion, and we should be doing one hell of a lot more of it. There's nothing wrong with having an argument - it's completely fine, healthy, and is one of the significant benefits of engaging with people of differing or opposing views, whether that argument takes place online, or across the dinner table.

You may have to remind a few people though, to remember that to Argue, does not mean to fight, it means:
ar·gue - verb 1. Give reasons or cite evidence in support of an idea, action, or theory, typically with the aim of persuading others to share one's view.
What most surely leads to fighting is failing to argue often enough, in much the same way that good forest management requires regularly finding and clearing out the flammable underbrush, and failing to do so leads to raging wildfires springing up around you with little or no notice. Arguing over differences is what people with a decent respect for the opinion of others do when presented with a differing opinion - not to beat the other person up, but to both get and bring a better understanding of what's being argued about, to those involved in the argument. But of course, doing so requires listening to the other person's argument, and caring about what the meaning of each word that they use is; it requires identifying what is and is not true, and what purposes their words are being used for, and examining the premises that their argument itself rests upon. Attending to those basics brings to light the gaps and contradictions inherent in a position - including your own - for all involved to see.

Having open and honest arguments is essential to maintaining civility in the American melting-pot, and  civility cannot continue long without it. Think of what would happen if 350 million pressure cookers lost their pressure release valves. Yeah, that's about where we are.

With that in mind, would you care to guess what Eric 'disagreed' with in what I said? Would you be surprised if I said that he didn't say which part of what I'd said it was that he disagreed with? Would you be surprised to hear that he simply dismissed what I'd said, and pushed my words aside as he repeated his own words for me to swallow? Would you be surprised to hear that he followed that up by casting a 'wokeful' aspersion upon me as well? Well then you'll be much less surprised than I was, that his reply was only to say:
"not to argue but to just make my point again. The internet is not 'a freedom'
Still getting that confused.
Also try using 'Native American' 👈"
Of course I did not make the 'point' that the internet is or is not 'a freedom', he did. He didn't want to 'argue' against my points, or for his own point, or attempt to engage in or even simulate an intelligent conversation, he only wanted to jab his position into the face of whoever hadn't knuckled under to his point, while tossing a woke grenade after himself as he strolled on by.

That is what a person who has no idea of how to argue, says, and of course far from avoiding the 'fight' he didn't want to get into by 'arguing', such passive/aggressive belligerence typically leads to hot tempered fights that bring no further understanding, and deepen our divisions. Not being in the mood for that, I only noted that sadly he seemed to have missed out on the argument that I was making, and said that if he wanted to reply further after reviewing it, I'd be happy to reply. And to his suggestion of  wokeness, I replied "No thanks, but feel free to do so yourself.

Into that hoped for conversation on the nature of free speech on internet platforms, a likeminded friend of Eric's, Nykita, rallied to his virtue signal and jumped in by asking me "For clarity sake", what ethnic origin I'd meant by "Indian". Sigh. I replied:
"For clarities sake look up the story and decide for yourself."
Being that the moment is what it is, a digression is needed here. Descriptors such as 'white', 'black', 'red', 'brown', 'Indian', 'male', 'female', 'large', 'small', 'fat' (yes, I know), 'skinny', etc. are used as a brief verbal means of providing what is needed to differentiate one thing in a statement, from another, and nothing more. If what you intended was to differentiate a 'white' person from other visible shades of 'black' and 'brown' within a group of people, then 'white' is enough to identify that person. If you intended to single out a white Scotsmen, from a group of white British men, then 'white' alone will be insufficient. If another perceptual difference is available, red hair for instance, then you'd drop the 'white' altogether and use that to identify who you were speaking about, but if something like that wasn't available, you'd have to use the next deeper level of general abstraction, such as ethnicity or nationality, to distinguish the Scotsmen in question, from the Englishmen & Welshmen. Using 'Indian' had no more use, value or intent than to recall to mind the incident where an Indian activist had confronted the student Nick Sandman, in D.C. - there was no need whatsoever to elaborate on what the descriptor 'Indian' signified. Sandman had been confronted by 'Black Hebrews' as well, and others, hence the 'Indian'. Had they also been surrounded by activists whose ancestors were from the subcontinent of India, then further distinguishing attributes of 'Asian Indian', or 'American Indian' (no, 'Native American' adds no clarity at all, as anyone born in America - North, Central or South - is native to America, and it's just a wee bit racist of you to think otherwise) would be necessary.

As there was no need whatsoever for me to add further descriptive information such as the inappropriate 'Native American', I did not, and the reason why he & she brought it up was not to add clarity to the conversation, but only to deconstruct a perceptual incidental into an inflammatory political point, so as to dispense with the conversation that I had been attempting to engage in, and reroute it into one where I could be more easily nailed onto the cross of wokeness, had I been foolish enough to accept their offer to climb up and stretch my arms out upon it.

I declined their offer.

She soon replied that she had looked the story up, and then treated me to a rather bizarre lecture on the social problems that might follow if someone were to carelessly confuse Koreans with Japanese, or Asian Indians and 'Native Americans', when speaking to 'them'. What she didn't do, was contribute any thoughts to the subject at hand, and far from seeking to have any other kind of conversation at all, what she did in seconding Eric's virtue signal, was to use her prized offendedness to shove their point down the throat of anyone problematically less 'woke' than they were.

I replied with the obvious point that seeking 'clarity' had no part in her comments, and that if she actually had looked up the story, then she had:
"... immediately understood who and what I was referring to, as did anyone who was already familiar with the story, so there was no need to clarify further than what I said. The only reason to trouble yourself over the matter, was not to ask for clarity on that - there was no confusion that needed to be cleared up - or to seek clarity on the topic that was actually being discussed, but was done so to strike a pose in virtue signaling, and as I take a rather dim view of that, unless you'd like to return to the topic above, or start a new one on what interests you, I'm betting that we're done here."
Not surprisingly a comment quickly came from Eric that:
"... its clear you're racist Van."
, followed by an exchange ending meme stating that no further words would be exchanged with  'Trumpers' which he'd assumed (why?) me to be - as if he had exchanged any words with me in the first place, let alone words regarding my views on Trump, or about reality. IOW: A picture is worth evading a thousand words.

Clearly, neither one of these two cared one bit about freedom of speech, the internet, ethnicity, the law or how govt might complicate such matters. Worse, neither had any interest in the opinions of those they'd entered into conversation with, except to insist that anyone with differing ideas should abandon their own thoughts and accept those of the wise-woke-folk, for no reason at all. Translation:
Don't argue with me, submit!
These are not people who care about what words are for, or what they mean, or the value of using them meaningfully in conversation. These are people who want to hear themselves repeating positions which they want to hear, and to hear other people saying the same things that they want to hear, and they are unwilling to run the risk of listening to or even overhearing anything other than what they want to hear.

What they are seeking is that false appearance of 'Unity' which remains, after all dissent has been eliminated, which isn't far from what Tacitus had repeated about the Romans: "They make a desert and call it peace."

It'd be nice to say that this is only a problem of the Pro-Regressive Left, but that is not the case at all.

I'd made a comment on another friend's posting of the New York Times's 'reporting' of the timeline of January 6th, and after making it clear that I wasn't excusing anyone of anything, still, in regards to the Time's reporting, I'd commented that it was,
"...Interesting that the first signs of agitation occurred at the fringes by people who apparently weren't all that interested in hearing Trump's speech, and twenty minutes before Trump's 'call to action', those who apparently not interested in listening to his speech and didn't hear that call, began to violently push down the barricades and overwhelm the police. Also interesting that the New York Times seems to have had no hesitation calling this group of protesters either a 'Mob', or violent...."
Another fellow, Todd, a bit of a NeverTrump'r who wanted mostly to say how reasonable he thought himself to be (he gave Sen. McCain as his role model(!)), somehow thought it useful to reply to me in part that:
"...Trump had spent weeks asking supporters to make their presence felt that day. The campaign pushed the whole StopTheSteal tag for quite some time, and set the official count in Congress as the place to show up."
Blink. Think about what it was that we were talking about, in that there were several hundred thousand people there that day, to hear Trump - what degree of blindness to the obvious does it take to point out that Trump wanted people to show up on that day, as being a contribution to the conversation?! Did he really consider that a useful 'insight', or simply a means of restating the obvious in order to ignore the comment he was allegedly replying to? After a couple more comments, I gave a more detailed reply to his last one, which I'll spare you the details of, except for this small and very relevant portion of his, and my reply to it:
Todd: "Here’s the thing: I want civil discourse and pragmatic compromise." I definitely want civil discourse, and I can guarantee it won't be found or maintained through 'pragmatic compromise', as few things are more infuriating to people who care about principles, than pragmatically dismissing them to 'do something!' and get your way. 'Pragmatic' and 'Prudent' are not synonyms, but antonyms, and while 'pragmatic compromise' may seem to get one side to yield civilly, that civility masks something like a buried and smoldering nuclear waste, and from what I can see, we're very close to that bursting out above ground...."
Was I mistaken? Did Todd think I misrepresented his points, or err in describing their meaning? I've no idea, as the only reply received was that:
"...it’s interesting how Trump supports continue to obfuscate and point out minor nuances to deflect accountability when the entire world know that this was—first and foremost—a Trump supporter riot. The continued deflections make Trump supporters look weak, corrupt, and increasingly moronic."
Once again, a non-response and a not so veiled insult. At this point I too, who loves a good argument, me, who'll happily engage in yards worth of comments over days about what the meaning of 'is', is, at this point, I too had no interest in trying to prompt something, anything, to actually argue with and over. That's not a good sign, but seriously, 'What are words for when no one listens anymore?' I replied only that,
I'd suggest that self awareness is another important trait to cultivate.
So far there's been no further reply.

As I said, I could add numerous other similar exchanges from the Left, Right & 'Center', but it wasn't always the case to this degree, and it certainly didn't used to be so obvious that it even stood out in exchanges with people 'on the same side'. It was just three years ago that the Left, which was going whole hog with the 'Russian Collusion' fiasco, seemed as if they'd cornered the market on accepting & spouting baseless and anonymous 'sources say' as 'proof', so as long as it served to drive their point down the throats of those who dared differing with them. But it was at that point that the 'Qanon' nonsense began circulating, on top of the invective driven NeverTrump'rs, that a couple friends & became concerned that it was beginning to look as if the Right - UberTrump'r, NeverTrump'r & 'Moderates' - were beginning to become comfortable with ideologically driven non-sense as well. The 'conversations' being carried on all around us today, show that concern has come true.

Which brings me back around to the calls for 'Unity!' we're now being subjected to, and asking: 'around what?' People of differing backgrounds and interests cannot suddenly feel 'unity', when they share nothing to unify around. Unless we identify something that we can unify around, there will be no unity, only division, conflict, and eventually some form of forcible submission.

Once upon a time it was possible to at least expect civility, but that requires sharing in some deeper fundamentals, as well as having some regard for reasonable differences of opinions that exist on top of that and between them. Those people who 'don't want to argue' insist on remaining clueless to what each (allegedly) thinks actually is of importance to the other, and in closing their minds and cranking up the reverb in their own echo chambers, they have no means of unifying over a single damned thing.

Even so, we might have been able to share some sense of 'unity', if we at least still shared in some of those deeper fundamentals that America was founded upon and which Americans - native born and immigrants - were expected to share in, but that is no longer the case. On that same note, I'd commented to another friend:
"...What permitted the possibility of "E pluribus unum" (Out of many, One), were the fundamental American principles of 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' for all, by upholding and defending individual rights under a Rule of Law that treated everyone equally before those laws, and limited govt's powers to that, through those same laws. The fact that they weren't applied evenly to all from the very start, doesn't diminish the fact that it was those principles that enabled them to be applied over time to ever more and more and more.

But those principles cannot be applied if the concepts and history that gave rise to them, are unknown or reviled.

In an America where most Americans don't understand or care what being an American means, there can be nothing for 'us' to unify around.

What Cancel Culture and the Pro-Regressive Left (and Right) have been making more and more clear for years, is that they do not seek, or want, and will not tolerate, 'out of many, one' - what they've been pushing for is to divide that American One, into as many fractured parts as can be imagined, of which only 'some' will be tolerated by them.

What those 'some' fail to realize, bizarrely, is that through power play after power play, their numbers will be whittled down until only the most powerful one left standing, will be tolerated. As in "First they came for the...""
The Liar fears what's true, the Pragmatist doesn't care
Which brings me to something else that's being missed by both, each, all, sides in the current matter, in regards to 'Liars' and 'Hypocrites'. I'm sure we've all said, or heard, or read posts decrying all of the 'liars and hypocrites', who throughout the summer and up to just a few weeks ago, were praising rioters and excusing violence; denouncing America while spitting on the American flag; denouncing the police and the 'Rule of Law'; calling to defund the police and repeal and replace our Constitution; all from the same people who following what happened at our Capitol building on January 6th, are now suddenly outraged on the other side of all of those same old things (except of course, about antifa still doing all of those same things in Portland and Seattle). If you too are denouncing them as 'liars and hypocrites', I'm sorry to say that you've missed something of importance.

Not even liars & hypocrites
They are not Liars, and they are not Hypocrites - such titles are far above their paygrades, for a liar at least has some familiarity with, and recognition for, the truth that they've fearfully found it necessary to lie about. Likewise, with a Hypocrite, they do see the value in that character trait which they themselves do not have, but wish to be thought of as having. But these people have no fear of, and no regard whatsoever for what is true, they simply say what they say for no other reason than to capitalize on the moment and get their way. They aren't concerned with what the words they mouth might actually mean, instead, like political parrots, they simply say the one thing to get power, and when it becomes useful they'll say the opposite thing to get power, and in neither case did they care anything about either 'thing' they were spewing their words out about. Their words are pragmatic calculations of what people's reactions will be to their saying 'you know, the thing', enabling them to 'do something!' that moves them closer to getting the power they desire.

Instead of the pursuit of happiness and all which comes from that, they engage in the pursuit of power, and we are more and more experiencing what goes with that. Actual liars and hypocrites would be a step up from the politicians and media and eduocracy that we are saddled with today. Calling such people 'Liars' and 'Hypocrites' is granting them a seriously undeserved level of respectability, which they in no way deserve.

So what should we call them? We should call them, what they are, which 'Todd' above actually correctly identified: Pragmatists.

Pragmatism, despite it's several philosophical marketing campaigns, is not about 'common sense', it was devised to do away with principles, and to avoid giving 'too much' concern for what is 'true'. It chiefly advises aiming and settling for 'doing something!', so long as that something might 'work' (and when that stops 'working', do something else) to get the power to do what it is that the pragmatist desires to do. Why? With Reality, Truth and Principles out of the way, appetite and power is all that remains. There's a reason why Mussolini's ghost writer, Giovanni Gentile, thought that 'Pragmatism', the philosophical invention of Americans Charles Sanders Peirce, William James & John Dewey (who turned our schools into what they are today) would help make their new ideology of Fascism into a more pragmatically popular alternative to communism & socialism (both of whom have since capitalized on that idea since), what with its having no 'dogmatic principles or ideals' to be bothered with beyond the needs of the moment, and so they could instead just pragmatically 'do what works' for the good ol' "greater good". Surprising (to pragmatists only), was the fact that such 'thinking' as that soon led to people who had come to value action of 'do something!' over the idea of 'think it over and do the right thing', sensationalistic politics, over objective justice, and the 'cancelling' of Cancel Culture, over the reasonable behavior which the culture of Western Civilization had once made possible - poor choices which have led so many to choose the 'persuasion of power', over that power of persuasion which once upon a time we all argued for.

Those that fail to learn from history....
What we are facing today in those who call for 'Unity' as a means to defeat and dispense with dissent, is a thoroughly totalitarian state of mind, and we are coming face to face with it in a moment of great political turmoil and social unrest, and failing to recognize that, failing to call such behavior out for what it is, and failing to call out the sort of person who pragmatically engages in that for the power they can gain for themselves, is a perilous danger to us all... and many of you needn't look to your 'leaders' for examples of that, not when a mirror is close at hand. 

What do I mean by that? You've all heard Lord Acton's phrase:
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”
, but were you aware that he wasn't referring to those with political power, but to those who exerted editorial power over the arguments that people would, and would not, see being said about them? Yes, you too, when abusing the power of the words you use, are reaching for Sauron's ring of 'absolute power', and as the misuse of words is a grasping for power over others, how do you expect to escape its consequences? 

There's nothing new under the sun, and men have been writing about what we're now heading towards since at least Thucydides described the Civil War in Corcyra it in 431 B.C., where, in much the same way as the meaning of 'freedom of speech' is now taken as a 'hate speech' and a cause for violence, in that time too:
"...Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them..."
, and what follows soon after that, as it has been repeated, century in, century out, from then to now, as it did before then and will after us, where a society's people can no longer argue reasonably between each other, there are few who are more thoroughly doomed, than those who say they 'don't want to argue' in order to avoid a fight,
"...religion was in honour with neither party; but the use of fair phrases to arrive at guilty ends was in high reputation. Meanwhile the moderate part of the citizens perished between the two, either for not joining in the quarrel, or because envy would not suffer them to escape..."
Unless we all wish to see what it looks like to have not only brother set against brother, but fathers and mothers against their sons and daughters and against each other, and neighbors attacking you as you step outside your door, or breaking in your door to attack you in your bed - and unlike the relatively polite horror that our forefather's experienced while dressing in blue & grey uniforms to meet & do battle, that's what a real civil wars look like. If you'd like to avoid that looming reality, then my suggestion is this:
Argue. Often. Everywhere.
Argue, not fight, but argue. Encourage your family, friends, acquaintances, to argue about politics, and argue about religion, argue about individual rights and reality. Argue over those and all other such matters at every chance you get, so as to enter into a cleaner reality of giving reasons for, and citing evidence in support of, an idea, an action, or a theory you support. Aim your arguments at persuading others to share in your view, and to better understand the meaning of theirs, all the while desiring to discover any errors that your own view might contain. But that is only possible if 'winning' is not the point of what you are arguing for, but that understanding what is real and true, is.

If we don't do that, then we risk the penalties of those who don't learn from history, and so experience what a world without the niceties of politics, and the tender mercies of even the most barbaric of religions, is truly like. If we don't again learn to reasonably argue politics and religion, we are going to find ourselves thoroughly unified in the only thing left to truly unify around, what Hobbes called the 'war of all against all'.

In short: If you want peace, begin arguing meaningfully amongst yourselves once again. Now.

Monday, January 18, 2021

To celebrate MLK Day is to oppose the 'Woke-folk'

I'll keep this short: To praise Martin Luther King jr. and this speech, is to rebuke the Pro-Regressive Left (and Right) and all of today's 'Woke-folk', and to deny that is to put yourself at war with reality and with your own mind.

"I Have a Dream,"  

Celebrate MLK Day.


Monday, January 11, 2021

Two Realities in Jan 6th protest - 2nd impressions: Step into my parlor, said the spider to the fly

You all know that I take a very dim view of violent behavior & property damage, especially on the part of large numbers of people who then attempt to excuse such rioting as 'exercising first amendment rights', which is a despicable lie, and one which endangers us all. To cut to the chase: I have zero sympathy for any of those who knew or should have known that they were breaking into the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6th, and my thoughts tend more towards Napoleon's methods of crowd control via cannon fire, than fretting about escalation.

But. Was there a riot? Well... let's come back to that. Was there an incitement to riot? Did people who were there see a riot? And if not, what evidence is there for there having been a riot? Have the people who are claiming to be outraged over the supposed riot, shown any hint of disapproval of rioting in the past? Have those Leftists and media apparatchiks who are today speaking so reverently of the Constitution and the Rule of Law, recently and vocally sung a very different tune in advocating the burning of the flag, habitually denigrating America, violence in general, rioting and tearing down statues? If so (the answer is yes) then they and their concerns can be dismissed. 

But other concerns remain: Was Washington D.C. left in flames? Was even a single church set ablaze? Did numerous cars have their windows smashed in and get overturned and set aflame? Were entire city blocks worth of shop windows smashed in, and stores looted? Were innocent passersby assaulted? Did 'rioters' seek to lock people in the Capitol and set it aflame in the manner that BLM/Antifa besieged a federal courthouse for months in Portland? IOW, was this planned and properly permitted rally, anything like the multiple instances of BLM/Antifa riots that we've been subjected to all of last year? The evidence is pretty clear that the answer to that is a big fat 'No!'.

But. Something sure as hell happened. People are dead. Several others were injured. So what do you call it, if not a riot? Let's start with the basics. A riot is traditionally what it is called when any three people gather and produce a tumultuous disturbance of the peace, and is defined as:
"A disturbance of the peace by several persons, assembled and acting with a common intent in executing a lawful or unlawful enterprise in a violent and turbulent manner."
So technically yes, it was a riot... but was it a riot in the same manner that we saw Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi cheering on over and over again, over the summer? Was it the kind of riot where thousands of people spontaneously gathered in the streets with no permit, deliberately intentionally preventing the free movement of others, deliberately causing a disturbance of the peace, and eventually into a full on violent riot in the streets, with mass destruction of property, looting, setting cars and buildings aflame?

No, this was something entirely different. The gathering itself was planned, permitted, and peaceful in its organization and execution; there was no deliberate prevention of movement, there was no assaulting of people in their cars or on foot, there was no damaging of property as the demonstration passed by, and no looting of businesses or arson.

This was a very different reality from what we saw with 2020 vision this summer - this was more of what we might describe for the moment as an indoor riot, as distinguished from the '*normal*' street riot. When and where it DID become a riot, was with the actions of a relative few who began unlawfully breaking and entering into the Capitol Building itself, and that's when and where it became an actual riot.

How did it come about? Was there an incitement to riot or insurrection? Read Trump's speech. Perhaps opinions may vary, but this:
"...We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated. Lawfully slated.

I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. ..."
, is not what I take to be 'incitement to riot'. And as a friend of mine pointed out, President Trump had a couple hundred thousand eager fans on hand waiting on his every word, and all he could manage by way of 'intentionally inciting riot & insurrection', was to get only a few dozen of them to break a couple windows and doors in the Capitol Building and walk around taking selfies of each other sitting in representatives offices? 'Worst. Incitement. Ever.' Sad. Especially as we've just gone through an entire summer of Nancy Pelosi & Maxine Waters achieving massive and repeated rioting nationwide, with billions of dollars of property damage, and scores of lives lost, without even trying! 

Come on, man! 

No, while I think Trump's publicly attempting to pressure his Vice President, Mike Pence, to make a weighty constitutional decision through an argument of public taunting, was a desperate act of poor judgement, he made zero incitement to riot or to carry out any form of violence. So no, I'm going with there having been no call to riot, no street riot, and no incitement to riot or stage a coup.

But something most definitely did happen, we've seen videos of people charging over barricades, breaking into the capitol, physically assaulting police officers, disobeying orders to disperse (that's the point where I would've been completely fine with the police opening fire on those 'protesters'). 

But. We also have many, many people, who claim that they saw no violence, no break ins, and even several claims that they were let into the building by the Capitol police. So. What are we dealing with here?

Starting with the anecdotal, I have heard from numerous friends who were there at the rally in D.C., some with their children in tow, that they saw no sign at all of any criminal or violent behavior occurring, and many can be seen on video strolling through the capitol building, staying behind the velvet ropes as if on a tour, with capitol police clearly standing still and silent as they passed them by. What they've told me, is very similar to what this letter from the attorney of a newly elected state delegate from West Virginia describes, that he had no suspicion that anything was amiss,
"... His footage shows that members of the public were already inside the Capitol by the time he entered. Evans’ footage shows no riotous behavior taking place at that time. Protesters can be observed calmly walking around. Upon entering, Evans observed a police officer to his right, who was calmly standing watch inside the doorway through which he entered. No members of the protest were assaulting or resisting the officer in any way. Nor was the officer asking the protestors to leave. Instead, the officer gave Evans a “fist-bump” which can be observed on the video footage. This is consistent with Evans obviously having a belief that the crowd was being allowed into this public area of the Capitol at that time. Again, he had no knowledge of what had already occurred on the other side of the Capitol grounds. This area of the U.S. Capitol is generally open to the public year-round, and is only closed at the time due to COVID-19 concerns...."
Is it possible to experience two such very different realities, at the same time, and seemingly in the same place?

It may seem odd, but at a place like the Capitol Building, I think the answer is yes, that might actually be possible. I've never been to our nation's capital, but I have been to events at Missouri's state capital, which was modeled on the same plan of the building in Washington D.C., and I can tell you from our experience with holding Tea Party rallies there, while at the same time there was a hostile rally being held by fans of communism on the other side of the capitol building, at the very same time we were having ours, it is in fact very possible to have two very different realities playing out on opposite sides of the same capital building, and to do so with the people on one side having no idea what the people on the other side are doing. I'm willing to acknowledge that the intentions of the protest itself was nothing more than protesting, and that those who were let into the building by Capitol Police had at least some reason to believe that they were walking through the building by permission. I'm also willing to acknowledge that out of the hundreds of thousands of people who were attending the event, that most had no knowledge of - at least at first - of the criminal actions that were being taken by a relative few people at their fringes.

That being said, I'm still very much of a mind that, especially as things have been for the last year, that it was incredibly naïve of them, even reckless, for this protest not to have been stringently monitored and policed by the very people who were in it, and especially so for the organizers of the protest. What excuse can any of them possibly have for not having been on a heightened guard against any and all suspicious or duplicitous actions? One friend made a statement which in normal times would be considered quite sensible, that "...if they didn’t want us in the damn building we never would’ve been in the building...", but having just gone through the last 4yrs, I can't help but saying: Come on man! 

Has no one ever seen the old B-movie trope of a prisoner having his cell door '*accidentally left open*' so that the unsuspecting prisoner would step outside his cell to be immediately shot dead for attempting to escape? Was no one on the lookout for the tangled webs that are weaved by those plotting to deceive? Apparently not, as the entire crowed strolled right into a dangerous web of clashing realities. They should have realized that this 'StopTheSteal' event was not taking place in the context of the 2010 Tea Parties, but in the dangerously different context of our just having gone through four years of an officially trumped up impeachment effort against a sitting and duly elected president, orchestrated by hostile factions within our own government, and even by people within the FBI! And add to that the fact that many of those organizers and attendees have been loudly calling for secession and wanting to 'fight for Trump', not to mention the fact that you had members from the ludicrous 'Proud Boys!' joining in with your demonstration, reports of some antifa planning to infiltrate them, and a dude in a friggin' buffalo costume(!); and your excuse for walking wide eyed into the Capitol Building is that they wouldn't have let you in if they didn't want you to be in there? Did it really not occur to anyone that maybe they really did want you in there, but for more nefarious reasons than letting you experience a free tour?

Come on man!

Everyone at that protest should have been made to be extremely wary of, and on their guard against, not only being associated with or framed for criminal mischief, or just foolish behavior from overly enthusiastic supporters, but also to be on the lookout for any oddly welcoming invitations being extended to them in a situation where their presence alone could so easily make them all into usefully convenient patsies for the spinning of scandalous stories that would serve up very different agendas than their own. It seems to me that there was a massive failure on the part of both organizers and attendees to give a due regard to the weighty responsibility involved in bringing such a large gathering of people together, for political purposes, in times of high tensions and deep divisions. Major precautions should have been taken, and if they were, I haven't heard of them, and more importantly, if they were taken they clearly didn't work.

And while it does seem to be true that the numbers of bad actors at the protest amounted to only a handful (something like 50 have been arrested, with as many more still being sought), yet it also seems apparent that most of those who knew or should have known that they were in the building illegally, were from the Right, some of them even filmed themselves boasting of having put 'cops on the run'. Yes, a few of them do seem to have been with antifa/BLM, but that doesn't absolve a sizable number of the 'innocent crowd' from having enabled those wrongs that did take place. Sure, when some of the despicable few began trying to break a window, many shouted 'Stop! Traitor!', which is swell and all, but why weren't those vandals physically overwhelmed and body slammed on the spot when they continued trying to break those windows? Why were people simply walking by as the one police SUV that was damaged, had its tires slashed by one amongst the protesters? Why weren't those situations dealt with and nipped in the bud? My guess is that, at the very least, it is because there was no organized message plan for dealing with such issues, or if there was one it wasn't disseminated into the groups, and I cannot find any way of excusing that.

But even with that being the case, what occurred in our nation's capitol on January 6th was not another instance of the 'mostly peaceful protest' that set last summer aflame, but an actually peaceful protest on one side, and a lawless and criminal action on the other, in the same general place, at the same time, by people with two very different perceptions of what 'peaceful assembly' and 'petitioning your government', are all about. 

A constant theme of mine before, during and since the Tea Party, has been that it is not enough to simply feel Pro-American, you've got to understand and stand up for those beliefs in a way that doesn't undermine them. That didn't happen, effectively at least, on January 6th.

But charging either Trump or the vast majority of the crowd there with riot? Insurrection? A coup?! Hunting them down and getting the fired and ostracized from society? Nope. Sorry. Doesn't apply.

What most comes to mind when listening to friends who were there talking about how they were just there to show their support, to 'do something!', and to fellowship and take in the sights, while entirely unawares that anything untoward was happening nearby and under the cover of their presence, is:
"Step into my parlor, said the spider to the fly..."
Something very strange happened in our nation's capitol last week, with two very different sets of experiences going on simultaneously, and whether by mischance or deliberate design, or both, the result has been pure chaos - a woman was killed in the Capitol Building, a police officer was killed in our nation's capitol building, a person was trampled to death - Saul Alinsky would be so thrilled, and it stands to reason that those still employing his 'principles' are as well. 

There is no excusing any misbehavior that actually did take place in our nation's capitol last week.  And the chaos attending January 6th, which yours truly tried to warn folks about the possibility of, has led to a new round of 'never let a good crisis go to waste' being employed, with developments coming fast and furiously which, just weeks ago, would've seemed an alternate reality that few would have given any credence to, even in the year 2020. The spider must be feeling pretty confident that it has caught its fly.

For instance, picking just a few of the more obviously sticky issues off the top:
  • Joe Biden, while speaking of unity, has likened Senators Cruz and Hawley to Nazi propagandists.



  • Twitter & Facebook have deleted the sitting President of the United States account.
  • Twitter and Facebook have deleted tens of thousands of accounts of 'Right Wing' users.
  • Google & Apple have both removed the Twitter competitor Parlor from Android and Apple app stores.
  • Amazon's Web Services is shutting down Parlor's servers on January 10th, which will very likely shutter the company for at least a week while they scramble to find another service to host them.
  • The sentiment of many leftists has been an eagerness to eliminate anyone associated with Republicans from any participation in public life, which is not only twisted attitude to hold towards half of the population, it's an ominous one to be advocating for.
  • , and the list goes on, and on, and on.

    No amount of 'Buts' can excuse what happened last week, and the alternate reality it has generated is a new fact of life that America is waking up to this week, and though it seems too akin to a dystopian sci-fi story to be taken seriously, it is what is to be seen all around us when we look outside today. Two very different realities are shaping up into a gritty competition for our future - neither one of which is a future that many of us would have ever imagined that any Americans would have any interest in ever seeing, at all.

    And yet we're here.

    Use your head folks, think about what you mean by America, and good luck.

    NOTE: This was first published without the draft that included the section defining what a riot is, and distinguishing between the 2020 Street Riot, and last week's interior riot in the spider's parlor. My face is very, very, red.