Wednesday, February 27, 2008

- More Thomas Sowell

UPDATE ---------- Final 2 Parts Added-------UPDATE
Another set of short interviews with the smartest man in America:

(This might not run well on every version of IE ... I'm using firefox and it works fine)

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

- Splitting the Baby in Two

When he ran against Al Gore and John Kerry, George Bush was certainly the least bad choice. He’s since shown an admirable determination in the fight against global Jihad, and in the process has infuriated the editorial boards of the nations left leaning news media who expected him to be more responsive to their frequent and shrill demands. They have responded by calling him “arrogant” and “inflexible”, and have painted a picture of an administration that is ignoring all calls for “being reasonable”.

In fact, that’s one of my tests to determine if people actually think for themselves about politics. If someone talks to me about how arrogant or “unwilling to compromise” the Bush administration is, I know that they’ve been getting all their ideas from the major media, and haven’t really been looking at things on their own. I’m not saying that there aren’t tons of valid criticisms of Bush available out there, only that this particular one is dishonest at its source and repeated ad infinitum.

In point of fact, most of the people on the right would criticize the Bush Administration for being too willing to “Deal with the Devil”. He floated that budget shattering “prescription drug benefit” for seniors at the behest of the left, in spite of the negative economic consequences of it. He sold out the education of our children in a deal with Ted Kennedy, which implemented a one size fits all solution that has increased costs of education substantially, while offering little to no actual benefit. And he’s allowed every two bit Podunk congressman in the country to dip his snout in the taxpayer’s trough for his personal projects. In short he’s tried very hard to meet the left half way on most issues, he’s just ignored the NYTimes editorial board to do it, and since they don’t like it when they are ignored, like the petulant little children that they are, they call him bad names.

But to paraphrase another writer, I come to you today to bury George bush not to praise him. It’s very difficult to be an unqualified supporter of the Bush administration no matter where you come from politically. He’s done things that I think will have catastrophic long term consequences, and others which I think may end up being the literal salvation of this country. One of the things where I think he’s been as excellent a president as anyone in my lifetime was in the people he put forth as nominees for the US Supreme Court.

He didn’t make his decisions based on partisan or identity politics, or even thanks to a specific “legal litmus test” which was the endlessly cute mainstream media’s code word for their views on abortion. He went out and found justices who had a philosophy that is consistent with the constitutional role of the court. He nominated judges who believe that the US Constitution is the last defense of the citizens against the way that government continually slides toward tyranny. He knew that nominees, who view the Constitution as a malleable and ever changing document subject to interpretation by the people currently in power, would allow those on government to seize much greater control of our lives, so he went the other way.

I think if we face the facts, most of what he’s done with regard to the war against global jihad was really just a US president doing what he had no choice about. And over time, I think history will probably reflect it that way. Our memory is short, but 9-11 really did change the dynamic between the US and the Muslim world. And the people who argue that “war is always bad” are to put it as plainly as possible, simply fools and children.

But his contribution to the court may prove to be an area where he had complete discretion and did exactly the right thing. And history may very well report it that way as well. But one thing is for certain… we’re about to find out.

The “DC Gun ban” case is about to be heard by the SCOTUS, and it may very well turn out to be an “all in” sort of case for the liberty of Americans. As you probably know, I’m one of those guys that think the freedom assured by the 2nd Amendment exists to ensure that we get to keep all the other freedoms’ too. I’ve stated many times before how I view an armed population as a defense against the tyranny of a controlling government. And it’s no coincidence that those places where that freedom has been most restricted, is also where the state has taken on most of the people’s decisions in their life.

And the case currently before the court is a chance for them to reinforce that view and undo a generation of laws which have drawn us incrementally closer to tyranny.

I could tell you about the specifics of the legal question, but if you don’t already know it someone out there has described it more effectively than I could. At the highest level, it’s a case to decide the constitutionality of the longtime DC gun ban which makes it a crime to own an assembled and working firearm even in your own home. The circuit court has taken the view that it violates the constitution (again in short) because the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right and cannot be denied by the government.

If the SCOTUS takes that view, it will be the beginning of the end for the “gun ban” movement. Lawsuits across the country will begin to use that logic to incrementally remove the very same laws that have grown over a generation like barnacles on the hull. And if current statistics are reliable, that will lead to a reduction in crime and violence nationwide as our most “at risk” law abiding citizens are once again allowed to re-arm themselves, in spite of the government.

And if they go the other way, well… it may very well be the beginning of the end for America. Members of the “Government control cult”, like Jon Corzine, Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama and many others, will then use that decision to make owning a firearm something that you must ask the permission of the government to do. And once that happens, they can ensure who gets to defend themselves and who doesn’t. They will be picking the winners and losers, just like Hitler did, and Stalin, and Mao, and Mussolini, and all the other gun control advocates across history. For guys like me, it’ll be a pretty dark day.

Personally I don’t think it will go that way. The legal scholarship (even Uber-Liberal Lawrence Tribe) says it’s more likely to go the way of individual liberty and support of the second amendment. But we’d be fools to believe that there isn’t a great deal at stake here.

The Bush administration has considered that, and has tried to give the court a fall back position. The Administration has submitted a brief for the court, which allows them to hold for the individual right to keep and bear arms, but makes the legally dubious argument that it should be subject to some higher review by those in power. In effect, they’ve tried to split the baby. And to me, it seems like Bush has found a way to take the one thing that I could completely support him on, and insert a little compromise on it.

I think he’s snatching defeat from the jaws of historical victory, but you never know. The court may be unpersuaded, or I may simply be wrong about history’s view. But as it stands, I have more faith in John Robert’s view of the Constitution that George Bush’s. And I still hope against hope that the baby manages to survive this latest attempt by the Bush administration to give half of it away to the political left. It’s my baby after all. And I like it just the way Thomas Jefferson handed it to me.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

- For those with young kids at home…

This isn’t a whole essay just a quickie.

My mom is deaf. She has been since she was about 30. Several others in my family also have poor hearing, including me. Certainly my choice of hobby, (where rifles and shotguns go boom just a few inches from my ear several hundred times a month) hasn't help my situation, but it's really a congenital thing. I can still hear well compared to my mom, but there are a number of frequencies which I simply don’t hear at all, and I’ve been that way for a long time. When I was taking my physical for the Army back in 198X… (Let’s just call it the Reagan Administration), they had to give me the hearing test 3 times, and even then I think I was only passed through because of politics.

Anyway, thanks to my mom, I’ve become thoroughly addicted to “closed captioning” even though I can usually hear whatever is on the TV without it. In my house we leave it on full time now, and run every rented movie with subtitles in English. It’s not so much for me, although as the years have advanced so has my reliance on it, but it’s really for my 7 year old daughter.

She’s been home for the last few days with a chest cold and fever, and was sleeping yesterday on the couch in the living room. When she nodded off, I took the opportunity to turn off Sponge Bob, and turn on something that was still child safe (just in case she woke up) but was just a little more grown up. I settled Mythbusters even though it was a rerun.

Anyway, the punch line is that when my daughter woke up, I didn’t notice. I only realized she was awake when she asked me “Daddy is one of these guys really named Archimedes?” I realized that she was lying there silently reading the subtitles just like me, and had made the mistake of assuming that “Archimedes” was one of the guys on the show. I marveled at the fact that she had read and pronounced the name correctly, and then explained who he was.

We’re not puritans my wife and I, when it comes to TV. My daughter spends about the same amount of time every day in front of one as she does reading a book. But I hadn’t realized how she had actually been reading the subtitles all along. Oh, I guess I always knew she could be, but this was the first time I was certain of it because the sound was turned all the way off. That seemed to me to be a good thing, and in retrospect it must have helped her reading skills by virtue of repetition if nothing else.

She reads considerably better than her grade level. She holds the all time record in her school for most books read in the first grade. Her room is littered with books and we spend a lot of time reading together and separately. She’s seen both my wife and I spending a substantial amount of time reading, and she calls it one of her favorite things to do. And in retrospect, I can’t help but think that having the closed captioning running on a full time basis has helped her in that regard.

So I wanted to offer this small suggestion to parents of kids who are just learning reading skills in English. If you turn the TV on at all, make sure you also run the closed captioning. Like the man said, it can’t hurt.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

- Boring Primaries, and Why You Are a Racist

Sorry gang, I know it’s been a little slow around here lately, but I’ve been furiously busy on other things. And since the primaries have begun to look like a done deal, there just hasn’t been all that much to write about. Some conservatives I know are doing the little “we’re finally done with Billary” dance, but it’s hard for me to get too worked up about that. I thought Bill was great fun to have around, and I’d rather go out drinking with him that George Bush any day. (Although I know my wife would never allow it.) Besides, in my mind, Bill and Hillary are just a political symptom, not the actual disease, and we haven’t really cured anything by finally shoving them off of the national stage.

It’s looking very much like it’s going to be John “viva la immigracion ilegal” McCain, versus Barak Hussein Obama. I was trying to think of some other clever little invented middle name for the Illinois senator as well, but I figured I couldn’t do better than the one he comes into the game with. In 21st century America, it simply is not possible to believe that the media won’t be squeezing as much ratings mileage as possible out of his Muslim handle by intentionally mispronouncing, then demonizing the mispronouncing, then eternal debate about whether it was really intentional or not etc.

I’m sure you haven’t noticed, but Mr. Obama is actually a black man. And that’s turned out to be a bigger problem for the Democrats than it has Republicans. The media has been careful to play down how the Democratic primary has basically fractured the party along racial lines because they believe it would be wrong to question the motives of someone on the political left. But once they have someone they can feel good about demonizing (like republicans) , I would expect them to go WAY overboard. I have visions of the CNBC field reporter handing out white hoods and swastika armbands to everyone at the exit poll who voted republican. You know … just to complete the picture.

The questioning of the 30 something soccer mom they pull in front of the camera should go something like:

“Hello … do you have a minute to talk to us? Can you tell us which way you voted today?”
“Yes … I voted for John McCain.”
“I see… that’s very interesting. Aren't you at all embarrassed to let everyone know what an un-apologetic Racist you are by not voting for Obama?”

In fact when I think about it, I’m sure the reporters would rather ask those questions before the person actually casts their vote... all the better to sway the outcome. But the federal election regulators might take some small exception. All the same though, I’m sure they’ll have adequate opportunity to let America know that they’re a bunch of racists if they don’t do what they are told by the media. The only real question is how stupid is Kieth Oberman going to look trying to call roughly half the voting age people in country the “worst person in the world”, and trying to do it three times a week, every week in August and September.

The other reason I wish the primaries would just be over is that I’d like to give the Democrats a chance to begin filing their lawsuits and charging people with voting impropriety and suppression as early as possible. Given the inevitability of their protests, I don’t see any reason for them to wait until there has been an actual election. We all know that there are two ways that the election can end… the way that Democrats want it to, and under countless lawsuits and allegations of illegality. It’s beyond the scope of Democrats experience to believe that anyone could have actually voted for the other guy, no matter who the other guy is. If the left wins, it’s no harm no foul and they’ll be able to simply overlook the cheating that they are certain Republicans will be doing. (The total lack of evidence notwithstanding) But if they lose, then it can only be because the will of the people has been illegally overruled by a tiny cabal of greedy, ultra-right wing, born again, neo-nazi, oil company executives and their racists Jewish overlords.

I swear… it’s like dealing with children.

Anyway, it looks like Hillary is taking on water fast, and Obama will be the one carrying the flag for all Americans willing to prove that they aren’t racists. Forgive me if that sounds a little harsh, but when you’re a conservative in New Jersey, you get used to being accused of having all sorts of nefarious motives, and for me it’s sort of turned to white noise. And the Obama camp has been careful to avoid making any definitive statements about public policy because they haven’t needed to. The people who are supporting him don’t care about things like that. “How” concerns them not at all, it’s only “Why” that they’re worried about.

And it’s a good thing too because Team Obama has precious little to say about “How”. It’s just not something they worry about. They assume that so long as your heart is in the right place, the rest will work itself out. They are focused exclusively on “the ends” and will worry about “the means” when they are forced to. And their supporters are people who all believe that the end justifies the means anyway, so it’s all good with them. Of course, this is exactly the same thing that Hitler did, and Mussolini, and Stalin etc.

And based on the few bits of definitive policy that have seeped out between the cracks on the Obama machine, those guys will probably turn out to be a pretty good parallel to the new Obama administration. He’s promising a much stronger lurch toward socialism than anyone since Johnson. I’ll be going into this again I’m sure and at much greater length, but to my reckoning, he’s the walking definition of American Fascism.

So for me, at this point the election has become like watching Hamlet being performed… again. I’ve probably read the play 30 times, and I’ve seen it performed by a bunch of people so there are no real surprises in it for me. But it’s still entertaining as hell to see Hamlet accusing everyone of everything, and watching Ophelia slip over the edge. Knowing how the story goes doesn’t take the fun out of it unless it’s poorly acted. And while you can say what you like about Mr. Hussein – Obama, the one thing almost everyone will grant him, is that he looks to be one hell of an actor.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

- Another Shooting - Guess Where?

I know, I know… I’m a terrible person. I’m horribly callous and immoral for believing that the “gun free school zones” are causing more problems than they are preventing. But yet, here is another “safe haven from violence” where multiple people were killed because they weren’t allowed to defend themselves.

Arming responsible citizens probably wouldn’t have stopped this kid; it probably won’t stop any of them. But it will limit the damage they can do before they are subdued. It may not prevent them from killing one person, but it will absolutely keep them from killing 17 and shoving our head in the sand does nothing but leave our young people at risk.

I write about guns a lot so I didn’t want to let this story go by completely without mentioning it, but the fact is, the “gun Free School Zone” law is so monumentally stupid, that I can’t put together an entire essay on it without being overtaken by disgust. The people who came up with this law were, to put it as simply as possible, fools. And the people that continue to support are just as foolish. They are pie and the sky, kumbaya dreamers who think that they’re going to be able to fix a rainy day by passing a law against it.

An excellent account of such foolishness which I put together after the Virginia Tech shooting can be found here:

Both Sides Of The "Gun Free School Zone" Debate

The links in the write-up are to a series of “Letters to the editor” that went back and forth between my wife, and one such fool with whom we have a passing acquaintance. A better discussion of the idiotic “gun free school zone law” I’ve never seen, but the best exchange is this one:

The writer finds the idea of responsible law-abiding Americans having the ability to defend themselves to be "more immoral than she can comprehend." She's in distinguished company. Many well known political leaders have taken similar moral positions on the idea of ordinary people being able to defend themselves: Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, Fidel Castro and Adolph Hitler have all shared the same deeply held moral view, and took aggressive steps to ensure that the ordinary civilian remains defenseless.

On the other hand there have also been some notable names on the "immoral" side of this issue. Known tyrants such as Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and even Mohandas Gandhi have all made numerous statements in favor of ordinary citizens being able to defend themselves with arms. Remarkably, none other than that infamous villain and gun nut, the Dalai Lama, has been quoted as saying "If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun." I have every reason to believe that my critic, whom I know to be a very moral person indeed, would feel more at home in the company of the Dalai Lama than Mao Tse Tung, despite her feelings on this issue.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

- The Genie is Out!

I’ve been trying to write a review of Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism” for a while now but it’s been a little tough for me. It’s not that I don’t know how to be fair about the book or that I want to say good or bad things about it. To be perfectly frank, it’s because the book is so BIG and so densely packed with information that it was a little tough for me to get my brain around it all, and I needed to give it some time to seep in.

When you’re reading the book, it has the feeling of trying to enjoy the pastoral scenery from the air while flying at too low an altitude. The treetops, roofs and meadows blow by so quickly that you barely have time to see them let alone appreciate their beauty. All the facts and quotes Jonah references have a similar feel. You know that if you could drift back a bit and see them in their full context it would make a better picture, but he has places to go and people to see; so he leaves that for you to do in your imagination rather than doing it for you on paper.

I’m not gonna lie to you I like Jonah a lot. We email back and forth from time to time, and have a number of common acquaintances. My old boss was the one time chairman of the AEI where Jonah also once worked, and he’s still thought very well of there. Beside that, he’s one of the sharpest conservative minds of his generation, and writes better than I do. Though to be fair about that last one I’m just a part-timer so it’s really more of a reason to envy him than admire him, but still.

I like Jonah’s writing a lot too. The clever banter from his NRO and LA Times columns have become an often repeated fixture around my typical knitting circles. His geeky sarcasm seems to be the type that attracts slightly more intelligent than average readers; which I suppose is exactly the way he wants it. And even my liberal friends call him a “thinking mans conservative” and respect his thoughtful opinions, comparing him to the universally respected William F. Buckley.

This book has almost none of that ascerbic wit, and to be frank, it took me a bit to get over my disappointment. I had read the first chapter and was mid-way through the second before I realized what it actually meant for the book and its place in history. I realized that it wasn’t a bad thing that Jonah’s humor had largely been purged from the book. In fact as I told him later in a note, it was like adding tannins to red wine. It may make it seem too dry at first, but years from now it’s the thing that gives it legs, and makes it timeless. A wine with strong tannins will taste great, maybe even better, years after its bottled. And history is going to be kind to the way that Liberal Fascism is viewed too.

The fact of the matter is that “Liberal Fascism” is a serious and weighty documentation of how the progressive movement in America, the forerunner of the entire political left of the 60’s and today, had its own intellectual and political roots firmly planted in the fascist soil. Italian Fascism, German Nazism, and American Progressivism are all limbs of the same common tree. He painstakingly demonstrates how they are separate manifestations of a common religion of politics where the state is the source of all morality, and unity and collectivism are the opus dei.

There just ain’t a lot of room in a tome like that for references to star trek episodes, and comments about his dog’s ongoing war against squirrels.

In point of fact, I later learned that he wanted to make it even more serious still; turning it into a book which was more about political philosophy, but his editors insisted that the work be made more approachable. Somehow I suspect that it was the editors who were really responsible for the “view from 50 feet in the air, and at 600 miles an hour” feel that some of the book has. I think that Jonah is particularly good at speaking to the big picture most times, but I can see how an editors’ insistence might have removed the forest while still leaving all the trees.

With that said though, the book is still pleasant enough to read, and at the micro level is convincing in its points both small and large. For my money, the numerous supporting quotes he’s found on liberal champions of the past are the most remarkable part. The most revered characters of the political left have left a thoroughly damning wake of speeches, statements, and comments across history, and Jonah has unearthed many of them and exposed them to the light. He not only displays their long forgotten opinions, but he then goes on to show how those quotes were later acted on both by them and by others at their direction. Given the multitude of evidence he’s found, it’s no wonder the American left is so reluctant to examine its philosophical ancestry, if they did, no one would want to be a liberal.

And even now, the liberal blogosphere and the liberal portions of the mainstream media can’t seem to engage in the discussion. They see the inflammatory title (actually a quote from HG Wells, revered by the left) and the hysterically funny cover art (from another famous leftist George Carlin) and most liberals simply self immolate. Actually what I’ve seen them do is judge the book literally by its cover and dismiss it out of hand as some Coulter-esque work of hyperbole and vitriol. But it truly isn’t, and dismissing out of hand that way does nothing but reduce their credibility. Their “Jonah’s just a doody head” style of argument isn't convincing anyone.

The fact is, someone somewhere on the left is going to have to eventually open this book and try to write a defense of their positions based on Jonah’s critique. Otherwise over time his book will simply be quoted and his language will work its way into the common political vernacular and become conventional wisdom. To be perfectly frank, I think the sh-t might already be out of the horse on that score… it’s simply too persuasive a case. Even now I see fascism everywhere in the nanny state policies of the liberal left. In New York and New Jersey, it’s conservatives who talk about individual rights while the left demands that the state be in control. How can you get more directly fascists than that?

I have to tell you though, the book, in my opinion is not without a few small weaknesses. I think it’s a book written by someone who makes his living in the political sphere, and is crafted exclusively for political junkies. Try as he might, some people just aren’t going to be able to get through this book no matter their political views. If Jonah had gone and made the mercantilist in me happy and published a collection of his other writing ala PJ O’Rourke, I wouldn’t hesitate to give a copy to my mom, but I don’t think she’d get past the second chapter of Liberal Fascism. Like some wine, it’s just too dry for her.

But in another few years when his quotes have begun to find their way into political speeches and essays, and the more controversial members of academia begin to introduce it’s wisdom in classes, she’ll probably find it more to her taste. It will become the common mythology by then, instead of the thing that tears the mythology down. And the best part is, it’s going to be guys like me who use his work to do the tearing. I’ll be using his work as a reference and quoting him as often as I can in the future. So from now on, people like Jon Corzine, Hillary Clinton, and Barak Obama (especially Obama) will all be seen, and represented by me as fascists. The fascist jackboot has always fit them, and now thanks to Jonah, we’re going to get to make them shove their big fat smelly feet into it and show it to the world.

In Liberal Fascism, he’s turned the spotlight of history onto the part of its origins the left would rather everyone forget. And there will be no stuffing that fascist genie back in the bottle now.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

- There's Pork In The Trenton Treetops

It might surprise you to hear me say this, but I genuinely don’t like to say “I told you so.” Whenever I end up saying it, it means that there is some fresh evidence that tyranny will out or that the arrogance of government is once again manifest. In this case, unfortunately it’s both.

His Royal Highness King Jon of Trenton, has taken his little government fixit plan on the road. He’s gone off to various neighborhoods around the state trying to convince us that it’s in our best interest to make each of us drop $1.80 into every parkway tollbooth we pass, and to continue to increase that until the girls in my daughter’s second grade class are all great grandmas. The reaction of the people to this bit of silliness has fooled no one... except apparently King Jon.

The justification he’s been shouting over the boos and cat calls of the crowd is that "pigs will fly over the State House before there's a realistic level of new taxes or spending cuts". (Yes... that's an actual quote by the governor of New Jersey) Hearing this, several hundred people rushed out and gave him a more visual idea of their thinking on that:

About a thousand people showed up to remind him, that although you’d never know it by his actions, he actually works for us, not the other way around.

The people, and even the mainstream media are finally catching on that the government of New Jersey no longer is interested in serving the interests of the people. The people in government are there because they believe it’s the natural order of things for them to rule the unsophisticated masses. They view their early retirement and fat pensions as entitlements of their superiority. They believe that the perq’s that come with a government job are simply the tribute of from the people, and should be granted to them whether the people approve or not.

This of course, is exactly what I’ve been saying for a year now. I’ve continued to describe the hubris of government officials as the primary driving force behind all new legislation in New Jersey, and King Jon is unfortunately proving me right. Thanks to his near fatal scoff law traffic accident, and the “loans” he extended to his ardent campaign supporter/union chief Carla Katz, we know he doesn’t think the law should apply to him. And now we hear from the horses own… um… mouth… that he would prefer to eliminate the sloppy business of letting the people have a say in how their lives are run at all. I mean, if we would just quit worrying about all of our own selfish interests and see things the way he wants us to, I guess we’d see that all of this is for our own good right?

Lo and behold, there is pork in the treetops of Trenton, and the people of New Jersey are finally realizing the utter contempt that their elected officials hold for them.

I think in the end it’s a healthy thing, but I still I don’t think the citizenry have realized how far it extends yet. Some probably believe that it would be different if the minority party were in control, but it isn't so. For example, Republican Senator Jennifer Beck holds the people in no higher regard than her Democratic predecessor Ellen Karcher, or even King Jon himself. She’s beholden to a different group of interested parties so it’s harder for her to prove it at the moment, but the evidence is still there if you care to look. One small example is that she supported the new law making it a crime to have your gun stolen, in spite of the law’s blatantly racist motive, and the fact that it confuses the victim of a crime with the perpetrator of one. It’s a little thing, but it makes it clear that she doesn’t believe the people of New Jersey could or should be running their own lives.

But now that pigs are flying in Trenton, it’s possible that the rules will change a little. It's even gotten so obvious that the liberal media has no choice but to report it. And since it's always been their model to be enablers of the government in it's hubris and malfeasance, I think that might turn out to be watershed moment. It could take generations to untangle the corrupt political machines that have gotten us in this state. But the first step is recognizing the problem. And the people and all but the most shameless members of the media seem to have done that, even if the legislature and the courts still haven’t.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

- The Gravitational Appeal of Leftist Politics

When a government official is elected, they may promise to be guided by their great love of individual freedom and liberty. But once they take office, no matter how sincere they were about their deeply held beliefs, their actual politics will end up swinging inexorably toward the totalitarian collectivism of the left. It’s as sure as death, and taxes, and taxes on death. And it’s a rare bird indeed that manages to resist the gravitational pull of liberal “thinking” once they’ve taken office.

How can that be I wonder? Is it that leftist policies are simply more successful at achieving policy goals? No, that’s ridiculous. In fact the actual evidence is overwhelming, that leftist policies NEVER meet their intended policy goals and I have an open challenge extended to anyone able to produce one that has. (To date, no one has managed) Liberals have a standard set of responses to that call, but the standard liberal mythology they usually provide is politely stated, a work of fiction. In reality, Roosevelt’s policies extended the depression, Johnson’s policies hurt the living standard of minorities, and the only ideas of Clinton’s that actually worked, were ones that were proposed by the political right.

So why then do our elected officials always shift so constantly to the left? How is it that otherwise clear thinking people are so continually drawn to a set of beliefs that have produced nothing but failure after failure after failure? The answer lies in a character flaw; a common human failing that all too many of us have. Quite simply, it’s the foolish belief that if an idea is new to us, then it must also be new to others as well. Many of us believe that we are so smart, so insightful and so forward thinking, that we are the ones who have finally cracked the great mysteries of life and we believe that we should share this new found wisdom with the rest of the world.

Let’s step back and think about the monumental but all too common arrogance of that concept for a minute. If for instance I were to have an idea outside of politics about something like say… physics. If I had a new idea on physics that had never occurred to me before, would I instantly believe that no one else had ever managed that new thought either? Could I believe that in spite of all their knowledge energy and time, that Einstein missed it, and Neils Bohr, and Enrico Fermi, and Galileo, and every one of these guys? If I were to say something like that, the world would probably respond with a chuckle and say “Well you’re a pretty smart guy Tom, but come one … do you really believe you’re that much smarter than everyone else?”

They would scoff at the idea and rightly so. In fact the smartest course of action when I have what I think is a new idea, would probably be to have a look at history to see why it failed so often in the past. Then again, if I possessed the wisdom to react that way, then I’d hardly be a leftists would I? In fact, central to all leftists thinking are a few core mistakes which continue to be regurgitated over and over again every few years by new generations of liberals who once again believe them to be brand new. They continue to cling desperately to the rotting corpse of collectivism. They continue to believe that government can solve problems for people better than the people can solve them for themselves. And they always end up using the power of government to force people to do things that they would never otherwise do if allowed to decide the issue for themselves; just like everyone who came before them.

Conservatives on the other hand, start out believing that information isn’t free and because of that it takes considerably more than pure motives and the flash of inspiration to produce a “new” idea. They operate from the belief that one person is more or less the same as the next in terms of their wisdom and foresight. So in something like physics it may be possible for someone to produce a new fundamental human truth, but only after careful study of all the existing knowledge that came before them. They believe a new height can be reached only by standing on the shoulders of giants. They tend to believe that the conventional wisdom is the sum total of all the best ideas of everyone who came before them.

Leftists think that’s bunk. They believe that the cumulative wisdom of society is nothing more than useless biases and the dusty remnants of outdated thinking, to be discarded in a moment when someone as brilliant as them comes up with a new way to order society. That’s why the young tend to be more liberal. They have less reverence for the thinkers who came before them, and little interest in learning from others mistakes. In fact, that’s one of the very central dogmas of leftist thinking; that our society is “broken” in some central way and needs to be fixed with a “new” idea. The “new” idea never turns out to be new, but since they have no knowledge of the mistakes made before them, they have no way of knowing that.

So what does all this mean? How is it that this simple failure of logic continues to pull everyone to the left? Well government at every level tends to attract people who revere power and authority. Influence and access are the coins of the realm in politics, so flattery is a useful and potent tool. And when one is surrounded by constant flattery, it’s a difficult thing to keep one’s self in perspective. No matter where on the political spectrum we may start out, eventually our egos push us to believe that maybe we really are as smart as everyone around always says. When it’s all you hear from sunup to sundown, it’s hard to keep from believing otherwise. Eventually even the criticism you get can be discarded without consideration because you think it’s just an attempt to discredit you out of political jealousy.

I personally believe Ted Kennedy is a drunken imbecile who has hurt this country as much as anyone alive, but do you think there is anyone who has access to him who would ever tell him so? And do you think he’d do anything but dismiss out of hand anyone who managed to get him that message?

Even the media gets into the act. When an elected official effects some change, any change, they are rewarded and called “effective” and a “fence mender”. The sycophants that surround every politician repeat that to them endlessly. They are rewarded for discarding the old, however well it may have been working, and implementing the new, however poorly conceived it might be. So a viscous cycle is set up where the most appealing kind of change to a politician, is the kind that will let them effect other changes more easily down the road. The best new law is one which gives them the power they need to implement other new laws. Of course that power has to come from somewhere, and the place it always comes from is “the people”. When the government implements a new law that takes a choice away from the people “for their own good”, everyone around the politician celebrates them.

It doesn’t matter that leftists ideas have failed everywhere they’ve ever been tried because these are considered “new” ideas by the people proposing them. They neither know nor care that the odds of them having a genuinely new idea are almost zero. In fact where politics are concerned, there is almost no risk to proposing an idea which turns out to be a failure, so the more the merrier. In any environment like that, a great deal of time and energy will be spent on ideas which have little chance of success. If you are in government, and it turns out that you policy doesn’t meet its goal, you simply tell the voters that it’s because it was under funded and demand a bigger budget for it. And on and on and on it goes.

And once you believe that you are the source of all good ideas in the world, it becomes even more bothersome to have to those ideas obstructed by the individual will of every Tom Dick and Harry just because they don’t want their taxes raised or their freedom curtailed. After all, you’re just trying to be an effective politician right? Everyone is always telling you how great your ideas are and the media goes on and on about how you are effective and a “great leader”. (Mind you that’s what the papers said about Hitler and Stalin too)

So in the end, this is why virtually all politicians eventually become leftists, (or at least support the majority of leftist policies), and all government eventually leads to tyranny. Because everyone always believes that they are smarter than the people around them. And since being in government is about the use of power, the people in government believe that power should be used to make people do the things they want them to, even if the people would rather not. Some openly support that idea (liberals) and others say they oppose it in principle but vote for it anyway(conservatives). They may disagree about who they think should be running things, but almost none of them believe that public should be running their lives themselves.

Until that changes we’ll continue to be subjects instead of citizens.

Friday, February 8, 2008

- My Hopes For the McCain Administration

If he wins, John McCain will almost certainly be a single term president so I hope he finds a way to convince his good friend Fred Thompson to become his running mate. Can you imagine what fun it would be to see a razor sharp policy wonk like Thompson verbally eviscerating Hillary’s presumptive “VP” Barak Obama, a man who seems to be pathologically unable to speak on any topic in anything but the broadest generalities? As an allegory to that theoretical vice presidential debate, I offer the flowing classic video clip.

For those who might say otherwise let me clear, the “Black Knight” reference is purely accidental and doesn’t specifically pertain to race. But his delusions about his invincibility and the denial of his failure in the face of overwhelming evidence is intended to be reminiscent of the “punish the rich” and “socialize everything” economic policies Obama’s been shoehorning into his vacuous speeches. Those ideas are already laying on the ground of history, having failed in the soviet block, Latin America, and everywhere else they’ve ever been tried. But Obama thinks we should give them all one more go just the same because it will be different when he’s in charge. Those 100 million people who were killed by socialism in the 20th century? "Only a fleshwound" says Obama.

After all, it’s a “change we can believe in” that he’s been promising, not an “economic policy we can believe in”, so at least our expectations are being set.

And if John McCain wins, we his (cough…sputter) political base, need to do our best to keep him focused on our critical issues. Some, like national defense, he will have a natural tendency to manage well, while others, he will be worse. So if the base has to stay focused on a single issue for keeping the pressure on the McCain presidency, I think it’s pretty easy to choose.

Is it Immigration? No … even if McCain hasn’t learned a lesson there, his accomplices in the House and Senate have. No one will bring back blanket Amnesty anytime soon, even if McCain wanted them to. Is it things like taxes and spending cuts? Those would be great, but at present it’s reasonable to believe that he’ll pick advisors in those areas who know more about it than he does and that he will listen to them. Is it his whole “punish the greedy” spiel? No, again, that might just be “the maverick” offering some political populism to attract voter from the left of center. He’s not likely to break out a bunch of kleptocratic policies like Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe or Jon Corzine in New Jersey. He’s too beholden to the Chamber of commerce crowd.

So what is the one issue we need to follow if we’re going to limit the damage of a McCain presidency? Its judges…we need to put as much pressure as possible on him, in any way possible, to ensure that he nominates judges similar to those put up by his predecessor. The changes to the Supreme Court have been one of the quiet triumphs of the Bush administration. And it’s only from the courts that we can begin to rollback the last hundred years or so of tyrannical intrusion into our lives that’s occurred since the Wilson administration. Our liberties are enshrined in the constitution, and we need to make sure that document isn’t ignored like it will be if McCain nominates liberal judges.

He may implement policies which put the economy at risk, but we’ll recover from that. He may implement regulatory idiocy for global warming but the higher energy costs those policies will bring will allow whoever comes after him to repeal them. But if he nominates judges the likes of which will win quick approval from people like Ted Kennedy, then the damage done might have much longer term effects.

The courts have been the last holdout for those who demand that we “civilians” be ruled by our betters. When they can’t use the legislature to affect defacto minority rule, they have always fallen back on “lawsuits” and the courts. The Bush administration was highly effective at giving us back a Supreme Court which is respectful of the rights of the individual citizen. And we’ve begun to see the beneficial results of that. Letting Maverick McCain nominate judges to appeal to the left, could end all that, and bring on another generation or two of intrusive tyranny.

I’m no legal scholar, so I won’t know a good judge from a bad one, but I trust people like Mark Levin from WABC Radio in New York and Andrew McCarthy from NRO. After years of hearing and reading their thoughts, I believe that they not agree with my view of where the country should be taken, but also know how the court should be structured to take it there. When the time comes, if they give a potential SCOTUS nominee the thumbs up, I’m getting on the phone.

In a perfect world, one of these two would actually be my choice for the next available high court seat. But even McCain isn’t that much of a maverick.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

- Policy Debate Under McCain

From my perspective, it’s not all that hard to find a silver lining in John McCain tying up the Republican nomination. McCain has always stood proudly as “a maverick”; a Senator who was fully prepared to stand up to both his party and the people who elected him and tell them that he doesn’t care what they think. In this way if he wins, he’s certain to bring just a little more honesty to government, because most people in government haven’t cared about the people who elected them for decades. And an attitude like that will at least make it clear to more voters what utter contempt their leaders have for them.

To my reckoning the primary process failed miserably, but the truth is, it was us. Conservatism has been a key force in American politics since Ronald Regan, thanks to what is widely called, the “three legged stool”. Laissez faire economic voters, national defense voters, and “values voters” worked together to at least slow the continual encroachment of socialism and tyranny. Ronald Reagan built it, George HW Bush fell off of it, and his son, our current president, apparently broke it up to be used as firewood.

So this time out, instead of our three legged stool, we had three separate legs, and nowhere for someone to sit. Mitt Romney was embraced by the Economic voters, Mike Huckabee took the lion’s share of values voters, and John McCain took the voters most concerned with national defense. But it wasn’t just that they were each strong in one area and weak in the other two… each of them were so horrendous in the other two areas that no one would cross the line to vote for them, and winning became a question of demographics.

If we ignore the sudden position changes correlated to their run for national office, then Huckabee was a big government conservative, happy to raise taxes for every cockamamie idea on the liberal side of the aisle so long as it could buy him a vote or two from the “government benefits” crowd. Romney spent his prior life as the pro-abortion, anti-gun, tax raising governor of Massachusetts, who faced an uphill battle from evangelical Christians because he is a Mormon. And McCain… well, John McCain isn’t what anyone would call a purist.

If there is a single episode in recent years that clearly identifies the relationship between the government of the US and the people of the US, it’s the 2006 debate on immigration amnesty. Depending on the poll you follow, somewhere between 70% and 90% of American citizens were firmly against blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants, but the government was bound and determined to give it to us anyway. The right had it in their head that they would provide a cheap source of labor, and the left had visions of 20 million new left leaning voters. But in the end, the people had other ideas.

Thanks in large part to conservative media personalities like Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Michelle Malkin and Sean Hannity, the American people rallied to their own defense. The phones in the capital building were ringing off the hook for weeks with angry constituents who made it clear that a vote for amnesty would be made at the politician’s peril. Several organizations took to mailing bricks to congress to symbolize the border wall which they wanted built before anyone should consider legalizing the illegals. But the government continued to insist that it would be doing it anyway “for our own good whether we like it or not”.

The Bush administration came down on the side of blanket amnesty. And politicians began offering the false choice of either an amnesty vote, or the utterly unachievable cost and logistics of trying to deport 20 million people by force; the option of attrition through enforcement was never raised. Liberal personalities like Geraldo Rivera appeared accusing the opposition of racism, and doing their best to passionately muddy the water describing the fictitious “jack booted thugs of a police state” arresting and holding anyone who looked latin.

But eventually the pro-immigration forced shot themselves in the foot by not properly controlling media access to their protest rallies. Somewhere along the line, footage began to appear of mobs of illegal aliens from the blatantly racist group “La Raza” demanding rights that none of them are entitled to by law, and taking down American flags at US government offices and running up the flag of Mexico. Some incidents of violence on the part of pro-amnesty mobs were reported, and the leaders vocally took positions that were too inflammatory for even their supporters in Washington.

Eventually, the bill for amnesty was quietly shelved, but it’s most liberal advocates continued to try to quietly slip major pieces of it through procedurally, by attaching them to other bills. But the Republican base was on to them at that point so nothing worked. It was set down as a bi-partisan failure for the government, and a triumphant success for the common citizenry of the United States. And in that way it sets the tone for the coming years. You see the name of that bill which offered a blanket immigration amnesty to nearly 20 million people, was the McCain – Kennedy immigration reform bill.

That debate, with it's contempt for the citizenry, the unfathomable arrogance of those in government, and the lies and distortions of the liberal media, will be the new benchmark for policy debate in a McCain administration. Every bill, will have to be treated by the people in the same way the immigration bill was. John McCain may have an R next to his name, but he’s not standing on the three legged stool of conservatism any more then Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney would have been. And the policies that come from a McCain Whitehouse might very well have to be fought with the same energy, the same determination, and the same rancor as the rabidly socialist nonsense that would come from an Obama Whitehouse. From now on for Republicans, every debate will have to be like the immigration debate.

John McCain says he’s learned his lesson, and maybe he has, but I’m betting against it. In my experience, those in government are much more willing to say they’ve learned something, than they are prepared to demonstrate that new knowledge. All the same though, that open contempt for his party and his base is certainly honest. I can’t fault him there. It’s straight talk for sure. I only wish the “straight talk” we were getting was saying something other than “you plebeians should shut up and do what I tell you”.

Monday, February 4, 2008

- Worth a Thousand Words

A special thanks to Pookie from FreeRepublic for gathering the days Editorial Cartoons, every day for years now.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

- Economics and Taxes 101

A little intro to "The Laffer Curve", the economic princple that explains why the government can collect more in taxes if the tax rate is lower.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

- Ron Paul Is Right

Liberals love government… it’s their church, their parent, the thing that gives meaning to their lives. They won’t usually do it publicly, but in private they’ll tell you that the teachings of your church are “utter nonsense” and only unsophisticated rubes would believe it. They’ll tell you that the wisdom your parents taught you is just useless prejudices and should be discarded if you hope to be as cosmopolitan as them. But the things that government tries to teach you are a liturgy to them. They believe that the best government is one effective enough to get involved in peoples lives for their own good. But they aren’t thinking about the costs of the things they like, and the costs are substantial.

“Now is not a time to be divided” they say when they are trying to strengthen government in some new way, “This is a time for unity, not division.” But when they say it, what they mean is that they wish people would quit disagreeing with them. If some member of congress were to propose an across the board 50% tax cut, or to abolish the department of education, then Liberals would be more than happy to stand up and argue for division instead of unity. At best, it’s a subjective standard, and at its worse, simple political manipulation.

Liberals will also go on about how “corporate power” needs to be restricted, but that’s always been a sham. Corporations don’t have any power to compel people to do anything. They can ask, and their commercials do, continuously. But when was the last time “General Motors” put a gun to anyone’s head and told them to by a Buick? How is it that “Frito-Lay” forces people to buy their chips instead of the competitors, or the “Duane Reade Pharmacy” uses the National Guard to make people get in three separate lines instead of one? In modern America, the government is the sole party authorized to use force, and if anyone else tries they are slapped down by the government immediately. Only the government can force people, so only they have power…corporations really don’t have any.

In fact, government has only one means of persuasion, and that’s force… or at least the threat of force. We pull over when the cop rolls up behind us with his lights flashing because of the reasonable threat of force; we don’t have to wait for him to use any. We won’t wait for him to shoot our tires out. When you pay your taxes, do you do it out of a sense of social responsibility? No, you do it because you have the presence of mind to fear what they will do to you if you don’t.

In the corporate world however, we are never “told” what to do, we are only asked. In the world of free market commerce, all of our acts are voluntary. We buy a Toyota not because we fear what Toyota will do to us and our family if we don’t, but because we believe it’s the best car for the money. Or maybe we like the combination of acceleration and gas mileage, or maybe it’s the roomy trunk, or maybe you just like the color. The fact is you can choose to buy one for any damned reason you want. Society won’t ask you to justify your decision… it’s totally up to you. And that’s empowering. When it comes to the “corporate world” the customer is the one with the power, because ultimately, they are the ones making the decision. But with government, it’s the other way around.

When you are dealing with government, they have the power, and the average citizen has none. This is an unfortunate fact of life. We hold government to be the arbiter of force… to be the one who settles issues between disagreeing parties. Someone somewhere has to be charged with that responsibility. But that kind of role has a way of attracting the wrong kind of people. Great men were responsible for the building America, but the person who is responsible for fighting a revolution and the person who wants to run things after the battle has been won are very different kinds of people. We have no Jefferson’s or Washington’s in government now, in any political party. The people in government now are all the same conniving ex-lawyers, utterly lacking in the kind of character that would make them worthwhile in office.

They may be smarter than average, but they have no real talent in common other than the ability to tell a convincing lie. They wrangle the language, and distort, and exaggerate. And above all, the thing that they all have in common, every last one of them, is that they are irresistably attracted to power. They want the power to command others and that’s why they go into government instead of the private sector. In the end, it’s the consumer that has the power in the private sector, not the corporation, and that’s too loose a hold for them. They want to be able to throw people in jail if they don’t listen to the command they’re given.

This is the kind of person that has always been attracted to governing a democracy, and is the reason that our forefathers believed that all government will eventually lead to tyranny. But the people who founded our country were great men so they came up with a plan. “Ambition is what draws politicians to power”, they said “so lets set their ambitions in opposition to one another. “Let’s set up a system of checks and balances so that no one can take too much power without taking it from someone else who is equally ambitious.” It was an inspired idea, but not without its limits, and over time, these limits have been exploited by the people in government.

They eventually learned to stretch the rules in their favor, giving more and more power to whoever was in government with the knowledge that it would be their turn sometimes. and the person that power was taken from was the US citizenry. Opposing parties colluded and decided to split the power between them. Now, two hundred years later, only a whisper of the liberty once granted every citizen is still left. The government intrudes into every facet of our daily lives, and there’s little we can do about it. The US government is the largest employer in the world. Half our labor is taken from us and given to others through a convoluted tax plan. Our homes are not our own, and can be taken from us by the government if they believe they can get more income for the state by doing so. We no longer even have the right to defend our lives and the lives of our family, and if we try, then we will likely be charged with a crime and imprisoned.

And given the special place of “the state” in their hearts, liberals continue to express their enthusiasm for an even stronger government. They see that consolidation of power as a chance to do some real good for people, whether people want that good done for them or not. But they’ve forgotten that the strong government they've built can be used against them too. Through lack of foresight they’ve made the government into a dangerous weapon just as capable of harming as helping; and as likely to be turned on them as those whose view they oppose. It was a mistake, and it’s time to begin to undo that mistake.

Ron Paul had the right idea, but not enough of us listened. He said that the government is too powerful and we should remove it’s authority over us as much as we can. He took an idealistic long term view that included issues which in the short term might hurt as much as help. But there is no doubt about it; he had the right goal in mind. He wants to change government so that a greater portion of our lives are up to no one but us. He wants to slash the bureaucracy, and curtail government power in virtually every way. He has said some unpopular things, but they’ve all honorably served the noble goal of giving the power of America back to the American citizen. He is arguing to restore our liberty.

Many of the things he argues for can’t possibly be accomplished. Withdrawing our troops from overseas and eliminating the Federal Reserve would be just two of them. But I would rather have a member of government trying and failing to give me back my liberty, than to have others trying and succeeding to take more of it away. The Ted Kennedy’s and Chuck Schumer’s of the world, deeply entrenched and unyielding in their embrace of government power, would never let the more extreme positions of someone like Ron Paul be adopted. But that’s all the more reason to vote for someone who will at least try.

Right now, all of our presidential candidates (of both parties) want to put government even more in charge of the medical care you get. They want to be the one to decide your doctor and your treatment, not you. All but one of them want to make energy more expensive by implementing taxes and fees to control “global warming” and to “protect the environment” by preventing more drilling and mining. They want to change the role of government to make it “more effective” but that means it’s more effective at taking power from us. The people in government aren’t on our side, they are on their own, and that’s true of both parties. We all supported the person we thought was the "least bad choice". We worried about who might be effective, but we should have thought about their goals instead.

No matter who wins now, it’s going to hurt everyone. If even a small portion of the things they're promising are done, then the economy will slow, and all American's lives will get worse. It will affect rich and poor, young and old, minority and majority. The only people who will be doing better are our elected officials and their minions in the bureaucracy. they will be more firmly in control of our lives than ever. And those with the best political connections will skirt around all the new rules, and have their interests protected, at the expense of the rest of us.

I think it’s already too late for 2008. So I think we should start thinking about next time. And next time we should all vote for the guy who wants to prevent government from making our decisions and allowing us to make our own. Ron Paul might have been too extreme about his methods, but he was right about his goals. And in 2012, we should all be more guided by those goals.

Friday, February 1, 2008

New Jersey Residents…Officially Irrelevant

A little something from Katie O'Malley on the way that governor Corzine has quietly eliminated the need for anyone in New Jersey to vote in the national elections. Our votes can now be totally ignored thanks to his new law.

The Votes of New Jersey Residents Now Irrelevant