Take Control of the Debate.

Conservative author and commentator William F....

Conservative author and commentator William F. Buckley, Jr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we move into July, with the dreadful baggage of June behind us, I find myself in a reflective mood. Three years ago this month, the Robert’s court, for the first but not last time, threw the law of the land under the bus to save Obamacare SCOTUScare. The day after that, I followed a comment on that, to Jessica’s blog All along the Watchtower, and there I found the exceptional young woman who would become my dearest friend, muse, mentor, guide, editor, and above all, teacher. Her love, for me, n particular, for mankind in general, and above all for God, has made a huge improvement in my life, the largest since the death of my father. For the many of you who remember her contributions here fondly, she continues to slowly recover from her cancer, mostly in seclusion at the convent in Walsingham.

In any case, I was reminded of one of her posts today, when I read on her website, Geoffrey Sales post, Too much about Sex, because one of Jess’ themes has always been that we focus much too much on the material, instead of the spiritual. As she wrapped up 2013 for us here, she made the point this way.

I sometimes wonder to what extent this concentration of material things is a function of our societies forgetting about God, or thinking He must be confined to the private sphere?  It is easy enough (which is why it gets done so often) to focus on the bad things which came from a time when society was more Christian: the intolerance of other views; the attempts to force belief on others; the narrow-mindedness of some believers, and the like; it is little use pointing out that these features were also to be found in non-Christian societies and seem to be art of mankind’s development (where it does develop); those who wish to blame Christianity for the world’s ills will do so regardless of the evidence. But there is another side to it all. The values which Christianity espouses are about personal responsibility but also altruism: you take responsibility for your own sins; but you are saved by God’s mercy; you are part of a Christian family, and you have responsibilities to others; you are not better than others, but others are no better than you: at your worst you are a sinner; at your best you are also made in God’s image. Redemption is always possible. No one is so bad God cannot save them; no one is so good that they do not need God’s forgiveness.

All of that gives a focus to life which takes us beyond narrow definitions of self-interest, and which helps put material wealth in a proper perspective. There’s nothing in Christianity which says money is wrong; there’s a great deal which says that loving money more than people is very wrong; it is bad for you and bad for the society of which you are a part. The moment you begin to regard another human being as somehow instrumental in a search for personal wealth, whatever you may gain, you are losing your soul.  Christianity has been responsible for education and social and health care long before civil society took an interest in such matters; it has inspired some great art and architecture. It is easy enough (and therefore often done) to think that a Church should simply sell off anything that can be sold to feed the poor, but that ignores so much about the motive for the art and architecture, and it betrays an attitude towards religion which comes from the purely material world.

Men and women have given of their gifts freely to God and His service, and some of these have been great artists and architects. They take us beyond the realm of the everyday to visions of what can be, they raise our eyes above the horizon of the possible towards what could be. It is good for the human spirit to have that, as it is good for it to repent of sin and to help others; all of these are part of what it is to be really human.  In losing these dimensions, our modern society threatens to shrink our world to the merely possible and the expedient. It was not thus that mankind advanced, nor will it be thus it advances further.

To me that says much about the intolerant, vituperative left, and why the have become vindictive, narrow-minded, lacking vision, without faith in man’s future, and all together not someone that your mother would allow you to hang around with. In fact, they have become hateful, racist bigots.

Rachel Alexander, writing for Townhall.com said this recently:

This is no longer the nostalgic era of the late William F. Buckley, Jr., where people only had a few political sources to choose from, such as reading National Review or watching Firing Line. Nowadays, there are thousands if not millions of news sources and people are overwhelmed with information. Have you seen how thin the print version of National Review is today? The right can no longer count on winning the debate with reasoned arguments alone. As we’re preaching to the choir at Tea Party meetings, the left has our children captive in school teaching them we’re haters.

The truth is, the far left does hate the right, so calling the left bigots is no longer a stretch. How many times have you been attacked on Twitter or Facebook with profane language or threats over your right-leaning viewpoints? I’m beginning to lose track of all the people I’ve had to block. The hate is increasing exponentially.

Sadly,  she is correct, and if we allow them to frame the debate, we will lose, and lose catastrophically. So it is time for us to resume control of the conversation. Easy? Nope, it’s going to be hard, very hard indeed, but since when did we believe in the easy way? We, who think for ourselves know, and have always known that we must do the harder right instead of the easier wrong.

Mr. President, You Have One Job

U.S. Presidential flag, 1960-present (not usua...

U.S. Presidential flag, 1960-present (not usually called a “standard” in official U.S. government terminology). It is defined in Executive Order 10860. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In essence, the President of the United States has one job: to protect the Republic from all enemies, foreign and domestic. So a year and a half before we hire a new guy or girl, how are we doing?

I’d say not good. There are many things wrong, the government seems to have lost its way to the point that it cannot tell the good guys from the bad ones, the productive from the moocher, the anarchist from the fascist, in essence, good from evil.

Yes, I did say good from evil. But understand this, it’s not supposed to be the President’s job to help you get a degree, let alone a useful one, nor to make sure you don’t starve because you haven’t found a job. Those things are your job, not is. If you fail, it is your problem, along with those who were foolish enough to depend on you. You don’t want to be a burger flipper that’s commendable, learn a marketable skill, and you won’t be. It would help if the government would get out of the way enough for productive people to be productive.

It would also help if the government would get out of the way enough for the health care industry to provide health care, instead of filling out forms for Leviathan.

But in a sense, none of this is the President’s primary tasking. That is, as it always has been to protect the Republic from foreign enemies. And in that the administration has failed, utterly.

As the linked article says, to be safe one needs some combination of raw power, respect, admiration, and fear. No one of them will really work. And that’s where the US is failing. Raw power is the one we have, but since we are unwilling to use it, it no longer matters. Thousands of tanks in a tank park at Fort Hood are an interesting (to some, anyway) artifact, not a symbol of power. Those same tanks rampaging down ‘Thunder Road’ in Iraq are an unmistakable sign that one is extremely unwise to poke at the Eagle, overmuch.

Notice anybody refraining from that poking lately? Yeah, me either. Here’s why.

The United States is no longer a serious country.

Now, by this I do not mean that America is no longer a super-power. By any gross indicator of strength, the United States is as powerful as it’s ever been, perhaps more powerful than at any time in its history. It has a massive, highly productive economy, a military second to none, and an alliance that dwarfs all possible competitors. On paper, it’s still the only super-power on this planet (or on any other that we know of, so far).

But the status of a great nation is built on more than raw power. It includes intangible qualities like respect, admiration, and, yes, fear. We don’t need all three of them; no major power does. But we need at least one of them at any given moment, and right now, we’re bottoming out in each of these measures. President Obama may insist that America is now “the most respected country on Earth”—a claim even the normally more forgiving folks at PolitiFact rate as only “half-true”—but the Russians, Iranians, and Chinese clearly disagree, and for good reason.

The Chinese hack of the Office of Personnel Management is the most recent, and most obvious, example of how our status is going down the drain. This is a disaster of unimaginable proportions. The intelligence damage, including security-clearance information, will last for decades. (I, of course, am one of the millions of federal workers waiting to find out if my files are now in Beijing.) Almost as shocking as the size of this breach, however, is the fact that no one seems to care very much, including the Chinese, who have shown no concern at all.

An Act of War, Ignored

In any normal world, a super-power would not tolerate this kind of an attack. Perhaps more accurately, a true super-power would never have to endure such an attack in the first place, because other nations would be loath to engage in such a direct act of open hostility. States do lousy things to each other all day long, but the wholesale and brazen theft of personnel records is a different kind of espionage. The scale is so vast that it is a direct challenge to the United States of America.

Countries, as a rule, do not do whatever they can do, they do what they think they can get away with.

Contunue reading: America, The Unserious Super-Power. Emphasis mine.

Seems to me when saudi Arabia and Israel find that they have more in c0mmon with each other than they do with theUnited states, something has goe deeply wrong.

We are pretty much stuck with this until 20 January 2017, but we would be perhaps wise to start thinking ait now. And keep it uppermost in our minds as we think about a new prsident.

King v. Burwell Pits Rule Of Law Against Rule By Decree

shutterstock_199125452-998x666In the next week, we are going to talk quite a lot about the “Rule of Law” as opposed to the prerogative power. here’s a foretaste of why it is so important.

[…] The president’s remarks come as the Supreme Court is preparing this month to decide King v. Burwell, a case that challenges whether the law ever actually authorized subsidies for health coverage paid out through federal exchanges. The details of Burwell reveal the degree to which the Obama administration’s handling of the ACA is ultimately at odds with ideals and aspirations that really are woven into the fabric of America: the rule of law and the separation of powers under the U.S. Constitution.

The ACA says plainly that subsidies may only be administered “through an Exchange established by the State.” But when it became clear that dozens of states were not going to create exchanges, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), at the behest of the White House, simply issued a rule saying that subsidies could flow through exchanges created and operated by the federal government.

The Obama Administration Embodies Will to Power

In other words, the challengers in King v. Burwell contend that the White House illegally authorized billions of dollars of taxes and spending, circumventing Congress and flouting the statutory text of the ACA by administrative decree. The accusation isn’t a stretch. After all, governing by decree has become commonplace in the Obama era—from the ACA’s many unauthorized delays, to the president’s executive order on immigration last year, to the State Department’s recent gun speech gag order.

Continue readin: King v. Burwell Pits Rule Of Law Against Rule By Decree.

Respect and Mushrooms

Well, that’s nice, I guess. I’m glad he cleared that up. Personally, I thought respect was defined much as Oxford says,:

A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements:

And by that standard I think he might have misapprehended the world’s reaction, indeed, he might even be deluded. For me, at least this about sums it up

Or maybe the White House Chef really does have a stash of magic mushrooms.

 

 

Progressive Authoritarianism

responsibility-42This is quite interesting, and a fair read of where our society/government is trying to go, and why. It also goes into some detail as to why if we are wise, we probably don’t want to go there. By Joel Kotkin writing in The Orange County Register.

Left-leaning authors often maintain that conservatives “hate democracy,” and, historically, this is somewhat true. “The political Right,” maintains the progressive economist and columnist Paul Krugman, “has always been uncomfortable with democracy.”
But today it’s progressives themselves who, increasingly, are losing faith in democracy. Indeed, as the Obama era rushes to a less-than-glorious end, important left-of-center voices, like Matt Yglesias, now suggest that “democracy is doomed.”

Yglesias correctly blames “the breakdown of American constitutional democracy” on both Republicans and Democrats; George W. Bush expanded federal power in the field of national defense while Barack Obama has done it mostly on domestic issues. Other prominent progressives such as American Prospect’s Robert Kuttner have made similar points, even quoting Italian wartime fascist leader Benito Mussolini about the inadequacy of democracy.

Like some progressives, Kuttner sees the more authoritarian model of China as ascendant; in comparison, the U.S. and European models – the latter clearly not conservative – seem decadent and unworkable. Other progressives, such as Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir, argue that big money has already drained the life out of American democracy. Like Yglesias, he, too, favors looking at “other political systems.” .
. .
Progressive authoritarianism has a long history, co-existing uncomfortably with traditional liberal values about free speech, due process and political pluralism. At the turn of the 20th century, the novelist H.G. Wells envisioned “the New Republic,” in which the most talented and enlightened citizens would work to shape a better society. They would function, he suggested, as a kind of “secret society,” reforming the key institutions of society from both within and without.

In our times, Wells’ notions foreshadowed the rise of a new class – what I label the clerisy – that derives its power from domination of key institutions, notably the upper bureaucracy, academia and the mainstream media. These sectors constitute what Daniel Bell more than two decades ago dubbed a “priesthood of power,” whose goal was the rational “ordering of mass society.”
Increasingly, well-placed members of the clerisy have advocated greater power for the central state. Indeed, many of its leading figures, such as former Obama budget adviser Peter Orszag and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, argue that power should shift from naturally contentious elected bodies – subject to pressure from the lower orders – to credentialed “experts” operating in Washington, Brussels or the United Nations. Often, the clerisy and its allies regard popular will as lacking in scientific judgment and societal wisdom.

Unlike their clerical forebears, this “priesthood” worships at the altar not of religion but of what they consider official “science,” which often is characterized by intolerance rather than the skepticism traditionally associated with the best scientific tradition. Indeed, in their unanimity of views and hostility toward even mild dissent, today’s authoritarian progressives unwittingly more resemble their clerical ancestors, enforcing certain ideological notions and requiring suspension of debate. Sadly, this is increasingly true in the university, which should be the bastion of free speech.

I find that there is a lot of truth in this concept, unfortunately like any other closed society, it breeds corruption. Who hasn’t noticed amongst this ‘elite’ a huge amount of influence peddling, not mention pandering, to obtain funding. In Wolf Hall, we watched as Thomas Cromwell curried favor with Henry VIII, do we not see the same process underway (for quite a while now) in Washington?

The killer “app” for progressive centralism, comes from concern about climate change. A powerful lobby of greens, urban developers, planners and even some on Wall Street now see the opportunity to impose the very centralized planning and regulatory agenda that has been dear to the hearts of progressives since global “cooling” was the big worry a few decades ago. This new clout is epitomized by the growing power of federal agencies, notably the EPA, as well state and local bodies of unelected regulators who have become exemplars of a new post-democratic politics.

Of course, this is in large part the model presented by postwar Europe, and we are watching as it demonstrably fails, which makes it less and less likely to be a model we should follow. Most likely the free-est country in Europe is the UK, not least because they share our suspicion of government (although it is not nearly as virulent). But the UK has, since 2008, created more jobs than the rest of Europe combined.

The fly in the ointment here, of course, remains the electorate. Even in one-party California, local constituents are not always eager to follow the edicts of the nascent “new Republic” if it too strongly affects their lives, for example, by forcibly densifying their neighborhoods. Resistance to an imposed progressive agenda is stronger elsewhere, particularly in the deep red states of the Heartland and the South. In these circumstances, a “one size fits all” policy agenda seems a perfect way to exacerbate the already bitter and divisive mood.

Perhaps the best solution lies with the Constitution itself. Rather than run away from it, as Yglesias and others suggest, we should draw inspiration from the founders acceptance of political diversity. Instead of enforcing unanimity from above, the structures of federalism should allow greater leeway at the state level, as well as among the more local branches of government.
Even more than at the time of its founding, America is a vast country with multiple cultures and economies. What appeals to denizens of tech-rich trustifarian San Francisco does not translate so well to materially oriented, working-class Houston, or, for that matter, the heavily Hispanic and agriculture-oriented interior of California. Technology allows smaller units of government greater access to information; within reason, and in line with basic civil liberties, communities should be able to shape policies that make sense in their circumstances.

This is, of course, nothing less than the federalism the founders designed into our system, which wasn’t new, even then, the catholic Church calls it subsidiarity, although it, like politicians, has always had trouble practicing it. In the eighteenth century as in the twenty-first, America is simply too large to be governed by an elite, centered in the capital, let alone by a clerisy without the requisite skill to understand even the concepts of what most people do.

One possible group that could change this are voters, including millennials. It turns out that this generation is neither the reserve army imagined by progressives or the libertarian base hoped for by some conservatives. Instead, notes Pew, millennials are increasingly nonpartisan. They maintain some liberal leanings, for example, on the importance of social justice and support for gay marriage. But their views on other issues, such as abortion and gun control, track closely with to those of earlier generations. The vast majority of millennials, for example, thinks the trend toward having children out of wedlock is bad for society. Even more surprisingly, they are less likely than earlier generations to consider themselves environmentalists.

They also tend to be skeptical toward overcentralized government. As shown in a recent National Journal poll, they agree with most Americans in preferring local to federal government. People in their 20s who favor federal solutions stood at a mere 31 percent, a bit higher than the national average but a notch less than their baby boomer parents.

If so, and I tend to agree, they may well save us all, simply by thinking for themselves, and acting in their own self-interest. Because I think it self-evident that being ruled by a distant, connected (to each other) is not in our best interest, either individually or as a society.
Hat tip to Gene Veith at Cranach, The Blog of Veith

How Liberals Ruined College – Kirsten Powers

1431359490423.cachedKirsten Powers has written a book. So what? I hear many of you say, still another liberal writing a book about how bad things are. Well, yes and yes, Powers is by any American appraisal, a liberal, and she does think a lot of things are bad. If you had asked me back in 2008 if I would ever have praised her, well the answer would have been “NO!” and maybe more emphatic than that.

I would have been wrong. Because Powers is a real liberal, who has an innate respect for freedom and America. Her liberalism reminds me greatly of my youth, in northern Indiana and especially in Minnesota, where people really did believe in good faith that the government could effect changes in the environment, business and such, for the better. And, if we’re honest, working with people like them it did. A lot of us had, even then, philosophical problems with it but it worked amongst people of good will, and still likely would.

The trouble is that her kind of liberalism got swamped by what we see today. The strident, divisive kind that can only really be described as fascist, and Powers, like many others got left behind. And that’s very sad because it is no longer possible to, ‘Come, let us reason together’ for the best for the American people. Because for many that is not even a minor goal for them. They want money and power, without regard of who gets hurt along the way, and they will use the power of the state to silence anybody who gets in their way.

And so, I think Kirsten Powers is making a journey, one that many, including Ronald Reagan, made before her, from liberal to classically liberal, and she has written a book. It’s called The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech. While I won’t recommend it (because I haven’t read it) it is on my wish list and I think you likely should.

She published an excerpt in The Daily Beast yesterday, and here is some of it. I am impressed with what she says.

The root of nearly every free-speech infringement on campuses across the country is that someone—almost always a liberal—has been offended or has sniffed out a potential offense in the making. Then, the silencing campaign begins. The offender must be punished, not just for justice’s sake, but also to send the message to anyone else on campus that should he or she stray off the leftist script, they too might find themselves investigated, harassed, ostracized, or even expelled. If the illiberal left can preemptively silence opposing speakers or opposing groups— such as getting a speech or event canceled, or denying campus recognition for a group—even better.

In a 2014 interview with New York magazine, comedian Chris Rock told journalist Frank Rich that he had stopped playing college campuses because of how easily the audiences were offended. Rock said he realized some time around 2006 that “This is not as much fun as it used to be” and noted George Carlin had felt the same way before he died. Rock attributed it to “Kids raised on a culture of ‘We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.’ Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say ‘the black kid over there.’ No, it’s ‘the guy with the red shoes.’ You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.” Sadly, Rock admitted that the climate of hypersensitivity had forced him and other comedians into self-censorship.

This Orwellian climate of intimidation and fear chills free speech and thought. On college campuses it is particularly insidious. Higher education should provide an environment to test new ideas, debate theories, encounter challenging information, and figure out what one believes. Campuses should be places where students are able to make mistakes without fear of retribution. If there is no margin for error, it is impossible to receive a meaningful education.

Instead, the politically correct university is a world of land mines, where faculty and students have no idea what innocuous comment might be seen as an offense. In December 2014, the president of Smith College, Kathleen McCartney, sent an email to the student body in the wake of the outcry over two different grand juries failing to indict police officers who killed African-American men. The subject heading read “All Lives Matter” and the email opened with, “As members of the Smith community we are struggling, and we are hurting.” She wrote, “We raise our voices in protest.” She outlined campus actions that would be taken to “heal those in pain” and to “teach, learn and share what we know” and to “work for equity and justice.”

Shortly thereafter, McCartney sent another email. This one was to apologize for the first. What had she done? She explained she had been informed by students “the phrase/hashtag ‘all lives matter’ has been used by some to draw attention away from the focus on institutional violence against black people.” She quoted two students, one of whom said, “The black students at this school deserve to have their specific struggles and pain recognized, not dissolved into the larger student body.” The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported that a Smith sophomore complained that by writing “All Lives Matter,” “It felt like [McCartney] was invalidating the experience of black lives.” Another Smith sophomore told the Gazette, “A lot of my news feed was negative remarks about her as a person.” In her apology email McCartney closed by affirming her commitment to “working as a white ally.”

McCartney clearly was trying to support the students and was sympathetic to their concerns and issues. Despite the best of intentions, she caused grievous offense. The result of a simple mistake was personal condemnation by students. If nefarious motives are imputed in this situation, it’s not hard to extrapolate what would, and does, happen to actual critics who are not obsequiously affirming the illiberal left.

 

Keep reading How Liberals Ruined College – The Daily Beast.

Seems to me that the time approaches swiftly for us to welcome another refugee from the illiberal left to ‘The Dark Side’. Smart, easy on the eyes, and thinks for herself, my kind of woman!

%d bloggers like this: