Ethics and Sausage Factories

A few days ago, S.M. Hutchens on The Touchstone Blog published an article dealing with Betsy DeVos and the Education Department in relationship to the teachers union from the perspective of Reinhold Niebuhr’s group v. personal ethics. Good and interesting thinking. Here’s some

[…] Unions depict themselves as combinations of the weak against the strong in the service of justice, for fair pay, decent working conditions, and respect their members otherwise would not enjoy—goals not unworthy in themselves. The concentration of power in the teachers’ unions, with the full collusion of a Democrat Party dominated by its left wing, however, has given rise to a set of conditions unfavorable to education, and to which sensible Americans are now calling a halt.

Reinhold Niebuhr, in Moral Man and Immoral Society, a book as penetrating and significant now as when published in 1932, analyzes the inferiority of group morality to that of individuals in terms of a focused, collective egoism that repels self-criticism and is constitutionally bereft of the spirit of contrition and amendment that only religion can bring—an egoism by nature irreformable and increasingly destructive of both itself and its society.

Applying Niebuhr’s analysis to the teachers’ unions one finds a group of mainly decent people, few of whom are manifestly vicious or selfish, with many dedicated to the work of educating children, but who are part of a malign collective.  For the individual teacher as a positive moral agent there is a heavy price to pay for union membership, for only to a point will society accept the union’s plea that it only seeks justice for its members, especially when it detects that in the exercise of its power it has become increasingly inimical to the interests of the students it professes to serve.

When, for example, the teachers’ unions, in the spirit of Governor Wallace, enrich politicians for standing in the way of voucher programs that have helped underprivileged children receive better educations than have been available to them in the inner-city government schools, and for which Mrs. DeVos is a fervent advocate–programs for which their parents are clamoring, ignored by their Democrat representatives who do not send their own children to these schools (the Clintons and Obamas being recent examples)—nowhere is the hypocrisy and selfishness of these unions, and the necessity of breaking them as a negative social element, more evident.

via Betsy DeVos and the Immoral Society – Mere Comments Do read it all, I think he makes a good case here.

But I think we need to widen it out some. Isn’t this true for any organization? I think we know it is. When we join together in a group, often the group becomes more important than the members. It’s true for unions (as described here), but isn’t it also true for business, civic groups, governments, and yes, even churches?

Isn’t this the root of the Reformation, which we will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the start of later this year? Dr. Luther found the Catholic Church, composed mostly of good, caring, even Godly people, had become a corrupt organization putting itself above the people, and even above God, Himself.

Don’t we sometimes see this ourselves in our local organizations? Our local governments, our civic organizations, and yes, our churches. Almost everyone concerned (with exceptions, of course) wants to do a good, moral job. But for whatever reason, peer pressure, regulations, individual dislike, or many others, they put the organization ahead of their personal morality

Answers are few, nebulous, and temporary, I suspect. I think it is a just a fact of organizational behavior. Most of us want to do the right thing, but the right thing for whom, or for what organization? How do we deal with conflicting aims, all of which may be good.

For me, it is an argument for making anything we can, a small, lean organization, as close to those who are the ‘customers’ (used very loosely here) as possible. In other words, what we Americans call Federalism in government and what the Catholics call Subsidiarity.

It’s simply much easier to keep a neighborhood organization on track, all things being equal, than it is, for example, the United States government. It just tends to be more transparent, and if we can’t avoid seeing the sausage being made, we will likely know what is in the recipe, or go find another sausage factory.

The Centre Cannot Hold; but All Shall be Well

Turning and turning in the widening gyre 
The falcon cannot hear the falconer; 
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; 
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, 
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere 
The ceremony of innocence is drowned; 
The best lack all conviction, while the worst 
Are full of passionate intensity. 

Surely some revelation is at hand; 
Surely the Second Coming is at hand. 
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out 
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi 
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert 
A shape with lion body and the head of a man, 
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, 
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it 
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds. 
The darkness drops again; but now I know 
That twenty centuries of stony sleep 
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, 
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, 
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? 

That bit of Yeats pretty well sums up my feelings this morning, both as to where our 
countries are going and my personal life as well, which perhaps means I take current events 
too seriously. But I detect that same near despair in many of my friends. Many of them 
continue to fight and speak for the right, often getting at best, no response, and often a 
kick in the teeth for their trouble. Still, it’s what one does, if one has our temperament.

Is it possible to win this war against the allies of liberal progressive ( I struck that out 
because there is nothing liberal about them), the so-called media, and Islam (or Islamic 
terrorism, if you prefer)?

Sure it is possible, but it is about as likely as that the British Empire would hold on 
between Dunkirk and Pearl Harbor. In other words, yes, it's posssible, if we act with 
determination and steadfast will. Is it likely? 

I have no clue. But I notice that as I go on, my spirits begin to flag, as they do in 
others. Not all, of course, and for me, it is a lessening of intensity, a spiritual 
tiredness, and others keep me on track, as I hope I too do others. 

But it is going to be long war. But I do believe in the long run it is our war to win 
or lose. 
And perhaps Elliot is the truer poet. One prays so.

 If you came this way,
Taking the route you would be likely to take
From the place you would be likely to come from,
If you came this way in may time, you would find the hedges
White again, in May, with voluptuary sweetness.
It would be the same at the end of the journey,
If you came at night like a broken king,
If you came by day not knowing what you came for,
It would be the same, when you leave the rough road
And turn behind the pig-sty to the dull facade
And the tombstone. And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment. There are other places
Which also are the world's end, some at the sea jaws,
Or over a dark lake, in a desert or a city—
But this is the nearest, in place and time,
Now and in England.

 If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.

As Mother Julian reminds us -

“In my folly, before this time I often wondered why, by the great foreseeing wisdom of God, 
the onset of sin was not prevented: for then, I thought, all should have been well. 
This impulse [of thought] was much to be avoided, but nevertheless I mourned and sorrowed 
because of it, without reason and discretion.

“But Jesus, who in this vision informed me of all that is needed by me, answered with these 
words and said: ‘It was necessary that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all 
shall be well,and all manner of thing shall be well.'

Naught for England’s Comfort

Jess, the very first time she wrote here, wrote this:

“And this is the word of Mary,
The word of the world’s desire
`No more of comfort shall ye get,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.’ 

Now it proves the flint against which the iron of resolve is sharpened, and the Saxons rally and they win, even though all had seemed lost. Alfred was not the most charismatic or dramatic of leaders, but he won, and this is why:

And this was the might of Alfred,
At the ending of the way;
That of such smiters, wise or wild,
He was least distant from the child,
Piling the stones all day.

Alfred has faith and he had patience, and he had resilience; he lacked the capacity to despair. In short, he possessed all the Christian virtues. He listened to Our Lady and he understood her advice, and so, at the height of the battle:

The King looked up, and what he saw
Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.


Back to London for a bit, mostly because I want you to read this from the £ Daily Mail. Katie Hopkins wrote:

They stood in the centre of Brussels. Row on row.

Hands held high, making hearts to the heavens. Showing the slaughtered they were not forgotten. Reminding themselves they were here with love. Looking to show humanity wins. That love conquers all.

They lay in the centre of London, face down where they fell. Stabbed by a knife, rammed with a car, flung, broken, into the Thames, life bleeding out on the curb.

And the news came thick and fast.

A car rammed deliberately into pedestrians on the bridge. Ten innocents down.

A police officer stabbed at the House of Commons. Confirmed dead.

Another woman now, dead at the scene.

Shots fired. An Asian man rushed to hospital.

A woman, plucked from the water.

And I grew colder. And more tiny.

No anger for me this time. No rage like I’ve felt before. No desperate urge to get out there and scream at the idiots who refused to see this coming.

Not even a nod for the glib idiots who say this will not defeat us, that we will never be broken, that cowardice and terror will not get the better of Britain.

Because, as loyal as I am, as patriotic as I am, as much as my whole younger life was about joining the British military and fighting for my country — I fear we are broken.

Not because of this ghoulish spectacle outside our own Parliament. Not because of the lives rammed apart on the pavement, even as they thought about what was for tea. Or what train home they might make. (…)

As the last life-blood of a police officer ran out across the cobbles, the attacker was being stretchered away in an attempt to save his life.

London is a city so desperate to be seen as tolerant, no news of the injured was released. No clue about who was safe or not.

Liberals convince themselves multiculturalism works because we all die together, too.

An entire city of monkeys: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Blind. Deaf. And dumb. […]

The patriots of the rest of England versus the liberals in this city. The endless tolerance to those who harm us, (while the Home Office tries to shift the focus of public fear to white terror) — versus the millions like me who face the truth, with worried families and hopeless hearts, who feel the country sinking.

We are taken under the cold water by this heavy right foot in the south, a city of lead, so desperately wedded to the multicultural illusion that it can only fight those who love the country the most, blame those who are most proud to be British, and shout racist at the 52%.

via Katie Hopkins on the London terror attack | Daily Mail Online

She’s right, isn’t she? The government is so busy making sure that they offend no one that they offend only the English (and British) patriot. The rock solid basis of the country since before there was an England. I know they are there, I speak with them most every day, both English and Scottish. They are there, they are ready to do what needs to be done, but HMG won’t let them, and so they will eventually die with the rotters, and the moochers, that have taken over the so-called elite mostly in Londonistan.

The only thing frowned on in Great Britain these days is pride and patriotism in Britain. We, the cousins, we know what they have done for the world, for we took that heritage and we built “a Citty on a Hill” with it. That city has become the last chance for British Freedom in this world. We did this, with the tools vouchsafed us from England, and now England has lost the ability to use those same tools.

Earlier this week, we featured Dame Vera Lynn singing, “There will always be an England, and England shall be free”. But I increasingly have my doubts about that. I do believe the legend and legacy of English Freedom will live, as will the rights, but I much fear that they will move to the Great Republic as a refuge. William Pitt once commented that America was populated from England at the height of English freedom. It was, and we have, perhaps, kept the inheritance more sacred.

But, while it is late for Britain, and yes perhaps for the United States as well, in both places there are many good men (and women) and true, and we have been here before, many times. But we would do well to remember Sir Winston’s thoughts on the matter.

“If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

What is a Good Judge?

Poise the cause in justice’s equal scales,
Whose beam stands sure, whose rightful cause prevails.
William Shakespeare

The other day, the AP wrote this:

Many conservation groups say U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is too conservative and too much like the man he would replace, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, to be considered a friend of the environment.

But when it comes to Gorsuch’s judicial record on issues like pollution and environmental regulation, he can’t be painted as someone who always finds in favor of businesses, according to an Associated Press review of his rulings.

Funny thing, maybe the AP doesn’t understand is that judges represent neither the environment, business, employees, the people, or even the government. Their mission is to represent the law, and justice, and to ensure its fair and equitable dispensation upon all parties, notwithstanding any other factors.

As a judge for the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Gorsuch has ruled both for and against causes that environmentalists hold dear.

He voted in 2015 to uphold a Colorado law that requires 20 percent of electricity sold to consumers in the state come from renewable sources.
***
But Gorsuch has also ruled against the EPA, as in a 2010 case in which the court found that the agency was wrong to classify land in New Mexico as Indian country when a company sought to obtain a mining permit.

I like the way John Hinderaker puts it here…

There is no “but” about it. A competent judge will rule for or against a party based on the law and the facts, not the identity of the parties. Only a corrupt judge–we have several such liberals on the current Supreme Court–will ascertain a political narrative and vote to advance it.

Indeed we do!

Then the AP offers very high praise to Judge Gorsuch, although I doubt that they understand that they do.

“He follows the law,” said Merrill Davidoff, the landowners’ attorney. “And in this case the law favored the plaintiffs — the landowners — not the government or the government contractors.”

If only all our judges did!

And that brings us to something that John and I have both written much about: administrative law. John says this

There is one major contemporary issue on which judicial philosophy bears strongly. That is the legitimacy of the administrative state. As I have said repeatedly, the government we live under does not resemble the one that is described in the Constitution. Today, we are governed mostly by a fourth branch, nowhere mentioned in the Constitution, the permanent federal bureaucracy. These office-holders persist from one administration to another, and in many cases resist any effort to bring them into line with a new administration’s policies. They are unelected, unaccountable, frequently incompetent, and almost always Democrats.

If I were president, the only question I would ask a prospective Supreme Court nominee is whether he or she will be willing to take a hard look at whether the administrative state comports with the Constitution. The AP eventually gets to this central issue:

A ruling that most worries some environmental groups came in a case that had nothing to do with the environment. In a much-noted immigration case, Gorsuch was critical of the longstanding Chevron doctrine, which gives deference to federal agencies’ interpretations of ambiguous statutes. Conservationists say that could be trouble for agencies like the EPA, which have the task of interpreting and implementing rules.

“If you look back at the Supreme Court’s rulings involving Chevron, most of those are environmental cases,” said Billy Corriher, deputy director of legal progress at The Center for American Progress, a nonprofit liberal advocacy group. “And I think that’s because the EPA really enforces a lot of statutes that are pretty broad, it gives them broad authority to regulate certain pollution and it leaves it up to the experts to determine exactly what threshold of pollution is acceptable and what threshold is dangerous. Judge Gorsuch would want to get rid of that standard and basically allow judges to substitute their own judgment for the judgment of the agency experts.”

That’s about as twisted as a corkscrew. The problem with administrative law (and Chevron gives overmuch weight to the agencies) is that legislation is not to be made by the agencies, they are there to execute the law the Congress has passed. That the Congress has abrogated their responsibilities under the law is no excuse. As John says.

The Constitution is not about rule by experts (even real ones, as opposed to bureaucrats) but rule by the sovereign people. Hopefully, Judge Gorsuch understands that.

via A Pro-Environment Judge Is a Bad Judge | Power Line

Are We at War with Eastasia Yet?

russian-dressingIn National Review, Victor Davis Hanson writes,

The Western world is having a breakdown. The symptoms are the recent rise of socialist Bernie Sanders, Trump’s election, the Brexit vote, and the spread of anti–European Union parties across Europe.

But these are desperate folk remedies, not the cause of the disease itself.

The malady instead stems from our false notion of elitism. The public no longer believes that privilege and influence should be predicated on titles, brands, and buzz, rather than on demonstrable knowledge and proven character. The idea that brilliance can be manifested in trade skills or retail sales, or courage expressed by dealing with the hardship of factory work, or character found on an Indiana farm, is foreign to the Washington Beltway, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley.

Instead, 21st-century repute is accrued from the false gods of the right zip code, high income, proper social circles, and media exposure, rather than from a demonstrable record of moral or intellectual excellence.

In 1828, the wild and unruly Andrew Jackson was elected president because the rapidly expanding country had tired of the pretenses of an exhausted elite of tidewater and New England mediocrities.

The hollow, tiny coastal establishment of the 1820s perpetuated the ancestry and background of the great but all-but-disappeared Founding Fathers such as George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Yet otherwise, the Founders’ lesser successors had not earned the status they had assumed from their betters. The outsider Jackson won by exposing their pretenses.

I think he pretty much nails it here. Do read it all (link above).

Andy Jackson’s election pretty much blew up the comfortable old order based in New England and Virginia in favor of the Old Northwest and the Old Southwest. It set the stage for the huge boom of the United States in the nineteenth century. Could we be seeing the same thing with Donald Trump? Maybe. But this old order that VDH described above is different.

Dymphna over at The Gates of Vienna found a fairly old video from Bill Moyers. Most of you know who he is, he was JFK’s press secretary and went on to a career at PBS (mostly). He’s not one of my favorite people, but while he’s liberal (very, in fact) he’s also an honest man, and I’m pretty sure he loves America. One of the few honest and honorable liberals left. He did an interview with Mike Lofgren, who wrote about the Deep State in 2013, in The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted. Then in 2016, he wrote about it again: The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government. Pay attention to this video.

Pretty amazing isn’t it? And yes, I think this is almost exactly what we’re seeing the president battle. Will he win? Maybe, it’s going to be tough. It’s also critical, I think, that he does.

Bookworm said this the other day

Back in the late 1980s, when I was a young lawyer, a Democrat, and fancied myself as an intellectual sophisticate, I went several times to CFR luncheon talks. Eventually, though, I stopped going because they didn’t make sense.

You see, even though I called myself a Democrat, I was always essentially conservative. I resented the anti-Israel tenor of the talks. Moreover, knowing European history as I did, I found ridiculous the claim that Europe could be smoothed into a vast federal entity akin to the United States of America.

The CFR did have an underlying agenda that sounded like a non-starter to me: It was to have a world governed by people all drawn from the same mindset. CFR speakers weren’t envisioning one world government under the UN, or anything apocalyptic like that (although I already loathed the UN’s antisemitism back then).

No, they just imagined a world in which the German leader and the British leader and the American leader and the Greek leader and all the other leaders would be drawn from the same intellectual pool: All these countries would be sort-of democracies. That is, the people would ostensibly have the vote, but the governing would be done by small cadres of really smart people who weren’t actually responsive to the voters.

She’s right. But remember this, it’s not really a conspiracy so much as it’s a consensus of people who grew up together went to the same schools, worked for the same companies doing the same sorts of jobs, rotated into the same prestigious (in their minds, at least) government jobs, and/or reported on all this. I suspect many of them have never been out of the Acela corridor, except to fly out to Frisco and Silicon Valley. Well, that ain’t my America, and I doubt it’s yours.

As an aside, our British cousins have much the same problem with the Westminster bubble, including the City of London, vis a vis the rest of the kingdom. Maybe Mrs. May is the solution, but only if she can escape much of her adult life.

Book also says this about the following video, and yes, I agree with her about that, but he makes some useful points.

All of which is to say that you need to watch this video, even if some of the conspiracy language that crops up about halfway through makes you feel a little slimed:

Ace said this the other day, and as usual, he is correct.

As Hillary Clinton once said about the staffers of the White House Travel Office: “I want their people out and our people in.

Competent establishments are not deposed — because they’re competent. They are nimble, react well to changing circumstances and growing discontent, and tweak their course to maintain their power and authority.

Only incompetent establishments provoke a rebellion.

And competent establishments are not surprised by rebellions, either. They see them coming, and head them off by co-optation and adaptation.

The very fact that these cretins are still surprised by all this — still surprised! Four months after the fact! — shows them to be incompetent, and not nearly so clever as they flatter themselves.

Competent, smart establishments are not surprised by the long-brewing and obvious, and competent, sane establishments have already begun processing the new information they’ve been presented with just weeks after it’s been presented.

Yup. Elite (in their own minds, if any) and incompetent to boot. Hell of a way to go through life, but that’s what living in a bubble of unreality does to you.

Soopermexican over at The Right Scoop has a bit to add as well.

The Guardian reported on the first wiretap request in January:

The Guardian has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The Fisa court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.

They linked to this report from Heat Street, from November:

screen-shot-2017-03-04-at-7-08-14-am

Mark Levin put all the pieces together in a segment on his radio show we posted yesterday. You can listen to it here. 

Follow those links, especially that one to Mark Levin. That will tell you just how out of control the jackwagons have gotten.

As Dymphna said in her title, it’s time for Finding the Right Bums to Throw Out.

The non-SOTU

trump-sotu-terrorists-immigrants-900x450Paul over at PowerLine wrote this yesterday.

The slogan and organizing principle of President Trump’s administration is “America first.” As he explained last night: “My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America.”

This is just common sense. Absent the Obama aberration, no president would think to say it.

However, even a message this obvious can use powerful, patriotic rhetoric and effective staging to support it. Trump’s presentation contained both, beginning with the second paragraph:

Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice — in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present.

That torch is now in our hands. And we will use it to light up the world. I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart.

A new chapter of American Greatness is now beginning.

A new national pride is sweeping across our Nation.

And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.

What we are witnessing today is the Renewal of the American Spirit.

Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead.

All the nations of the world — friend or foe — will find that America is strong, America is proud, and America is free.

The address ended on the same note:

[W]hen we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began.

The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us.

We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts.

The bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls.

And the confidence to turn those hopes and dreams to action.

From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears — inspired by the future, not bound by the failures of the past — and guided by our vision, not blinded by our doubts.

I am asking all citizens to embrace this Renewal of the American Spirit. I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold and daring things for our country. And I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment and believe in yourselves.

Believe in your future.

And believe, once more, in America.

via A little patriotism goes a long way | Power Line

Those are paragraphs that could have been written by almost any president – before Barack Obama. It is the essence of American patriotism, not the blood and soil patriotism of Europe. Like most things in America, American patriotism is different. It is more about having optimism in the future, sharing the dream, if you will.

The huge recognition of CPO Ryan Williams (the longest applause, at about two minutes, of the speech) through his widow, he was killed in the January raid in Yemen, also speaks to that. And yes there is a story in who did not join in the standing ovation.

In fact, I completely agree that Mr. Trump became Mr. President during that speech. I don’t agree with every thing he wants to spend money on, which is fine. He’s the president and I’m not the all-knowing philosopher-king. It’ll work out. He’s by far the best of what was on offer.

The speech itself made me think of Roosevelt (both), Kennedy, and especially Reagan. It was that good. After an eight-year hiatus, it seems to me that America is in process of getting out of the ditch, and back underway.

You did notice that the Dow broke 21,000 yesterday?

Francis Browning wrote:

Light in the eastern horizon, it cometh, hail, all hail!

Bringing the joys of the New Year, and the tiding on the gale

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