Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Ultimate Manifesto, Part 3: The Omnipotent Executive

     Have you ever read about the curious case of Worcester v. Georgia, Gentle Reader? Virtually no one has, yet it’s among the truly seminal Supreme Court cases of the early Republic. It concerned a Christian missionary, Samuel Worcester, who had moved onto a Cherokee reservation in Georgia, and had started a newspaper there. Georgia had a state law that required non-Amerinds who wished ingress to an Amerind reservation were required first to purchase a license to do so from the state. Worcester was convicted under that law and imprisoned. The case above, for which Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the decision, established that the relationship of the Amerind tribes with the U.S. is a nation-to-nation relationship. Therefore, no state could make laws that impinge upon any Amerind tribe.

     President Andrew Jackson was unhappy with the decision. He refused to assist in the enforcement of the decision against Georgian resistance, even though by implication it asserted a federal prerogative, which would seem to mandate federal enforcement. The apocryphal saying “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!” derives from that decision. (There is no record of Jackson’s ever making the neatly phrased statement attributed to him, though he was of approximately that opinion.) Georgia eventually freed Worcester, but only after he had struck a deal with the state to leave Georgia permanently, which he honored.

     It was the first significant case of the Executive refusing to accept the authority of the Judiciary. It underscored the Judiciary’s lack of an executive arm of its own, the reason for Alexander Hamilton’s characterization of the Judiciary as “the least dangerous branch” of the federal government:

     Whoever attentively considers the different departments of power must perceive, that, in a government in which they are separated from each other, the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution; because it will be least in a capacity to annoy or injure them. The Executive not only dispenses the honors, but holds the sword of the community. The legislature not only commands the purse, but prescribes the rules by which the duties and rights of every citizen are to be regulated. The judiciary, on the contrary, has no influence over either the sword or the purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society; and can take no active resolution whatever. It may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.

     Today, Hamilton’s assumption that the power of the purse would be sufficient for Congress to ensure that the Executive would not defy it seems a bit naive.

     I’ve written on other occasions about the difference between law de jure and law de facto. In essence, the law as it genuinely affects the lives of Americans is that subset of the de jure laws – i.e., the laws passed by Congress or the state or local legislature – which is effectively enforced: the law de facto. Why, after all, would anyone care overly much about unenforced laws?

     (In point of fact, there is a reason to concern oneself about an unenforced law: it’s available to be used against those the political elite dislikes. Consider that before arbitrarily dismissing unenforced laws such as Andrew Cuomo’s “SAFE Act.” However, in practice only those laws that are actively enforced are pertinent to the private citizen...at least, as long as he keeps his head down..)

     The Executive branch of the federal government comprises the presidency, all the Cabinet departments, and the entire federal bureaucracy: the “alphabet agencies,” to which Congress routinely delegates quasi-legislative power. The Cabinet, of course, includes the Departments of Justice and Treasury, which have overt enforcement arms: the FBI and the Secret Service. As Commander-in-Chief of the nation’s armed forces, the president also wields American military power, which would constitute a truly fearsome enforcement agency were it to be used within America’s borders.

     (Numerous bureaucracies have been arming their field personnel. Full auto weapons. Armor-piercing ammo. Mustn’t forget that.)

     Congress has its Sergeant-at-Arms. The Supreme Court and lesser federal courts have their bailiffs.

     Given all the above, who decides what the laws of the United States, de facto, really are?

     Worcester v. Georgia reminds us that the loose-cannon ways of the Obama Administration, while extreme, are not without precedent. Indeed, Lincoln’s assumption of dictatorial powers during the Civil War, Woodrow Wilson’s peremptory imprisonment of various peace activists after the U.S. entered World War I, and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s freewheeling “New Deal” capers should constitute a dramatic reminder that when the Executive decides to defy and ignore the Legislative and Judicial branches, it can do so with impunity. The other branches cannot effectively discipline a lawless Executive, at least while its myrmidons remain loyal and obedient to it.

     Consider the recent Supreme Court decision striking down EPA overreach under its specious interpretation of its powers under the Clean Air Act. The White House announced immediately that it was going forward with its environmental regulatory program – a program which threatens to raise the price of electrical power by a factor of three – even so. What can the Court do about it? For that matter, what could the Court have done, had it decided King v. Burwell differently, were the White House to instruct the IRS to continue granting ObamaCare subsidies to persons who enrolled through the federal exchange in defiance of the ruling?

     The Obama Administration is exceptional only in its brazenness, its “you can’t stop me” attitude toward Congress and the judiciary. The core problem has been with us since the ratification of the Constitution. Indeed, it might be insoluble: there will always be a single commander for any enforcement agency, and the men with the guns will be inherently disposed to do as he says, other voices notwithstanding.

     I think I’ve come to the end of the “Ultimate Manifesto” series. Hard thought indicates that “the system” as we understand it possesses inherent dependencies that can and have failed us. Specifically, it depends upon the willingness of the three branches of the federal government to respect their Constitutional bounds. When that respect dissipates, as it appears to have done, the remaining remedies lie solely in the hands of the citizenry. One of those remedies, the electoral process, has proved insufficient. The other involves a great amount of blood and destruction.

     What, then, must we do?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Are We Being Manipulated?

I tend to think:
based on articles like this.  I’m starting to feel like a lab rat.
This is not a new phenomenon – a book I read a few months ago (written by Leftists, but worth buying because of the insight into the methods they are now using to push, prod, and NUDGE the population towards their way of thinking, acting, and being) is Nudge.  It opened my eyes to the various ways you can incrementally move people’s actions and thinking towards your goals.
One way to APPARENTLY change the political line-up

The Ultimate Manifesto, Part 2: Legislative Irresponsibility

     We saw one inducement to it in Florida, in the chaos after the 2000 presidential balloting. The state legislature had made it a requirement that election returns be certified no later than seven days after the balloting. The Florida state supreme court ruled that seventeen days must be allowed...and the legislature did nothing.

     We saw an egregious case of it in the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act, a darling of the odious John McCain that purported to reduce the influence of “big money” on elections. The proponents could not have failed to know that their bill was unConstitutional. For that matter, President George W. Bush, who signed it, said as much but signed it anyway. It was left to the Supreme Court to strike it down. Its legislative proponents merely shrugged and continued onward.

     We saw an eruption of it in New York State’s Orwellian “SAFE Act.” That act, as written, outlaws the use of detachable rifle or pistol magazines that hold more than seven rounds. Many supposed defenders of the right to keep and bear arms voted for that bill...realizing only afterward that it criminalizes the use of virtually every firearm owned by anyone in the state, as no magazines that small are available for most such rifles. Yet the legislature did nothing, instead allowing Andrew Cuomo to decree, by “executive order,” that the ban would not be enforced just yet.

     We saw a major explosion of it in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), as legislators openly voted to pass a bill of whose contents they were utterly ignorant. When it developed that a key provision of the Act, expressly designed to induce the states to erect “health care exchanges” by the open admission of one of its chief architects, failed to produce the desired conformity among the states, not one of the bill’s legislative proponents stepped forward to say “Yes, we meant it to operate this way.” Instead they allowed John Roberts et alii to claim telepathic powers and rule on what they “intended.”

     Congressmen and United States Senators take oaths to the Constitution, which defines their offices. State legislators take similar oaths to their states’ constitutions or charters. Then they proceed to violate those oaths, serene in the knowledge that nothing will be done to them for doing so. As icing on this distasteful cake, they routinely pass bills that delegate, de facto, lawmaking power to unelected bureaucrats: persons who can’t even be turned out of office electorally.

     Federal legislators receive salaries of $175,000 per year for their “labors.” That’s apart from their franking privileges, travel privileges, office budgets, the salaries of their staffs, and so forth, which easily total to eight figures once all the bills are paid. State legislators are remunerated less opulently -- $79,500 per year in New York, exclusive of expenses – but still well above the average salaries of their constituents. At those prices, you’d think that you have a right to hold them accountable for their performances.

     You’d be wrong.

     It is the case, apparently immune to “wave elections” or similar upheavals among Us the People, that a legislator, once elected, can reasonably expect to remain in “his position” until he chooses to retire. They’re harder to get rid of than an infestation of roaches, a species with which they share more characteristics than that one alone.

     I hardly need comment on the many documented cases of felonious behavior among legislators. Those tend to make headlines, at least in certain fora. The ones that involve sexual misconduct are especially salacious, but the ones that involve sale of access and influence have far more serious impact upon our notions of governmental integrity. After all, we can’t help but wonder: For every one we catch, how many others do we miss?

     Ferdinand Lundberg put it most memorably:

     ...it is a settled conclusion among seasoned observers that, Congress apart as a separate case, the lower legislatures -- state, county, and municipal -- are Augean stables of misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance from year to year and decade to decade, and that they are preponderantly staffed by riffraff, or what the police define as "undesirables," people who if they were not in influential positions would be unceremoniously told to "keep moving." Exceptions among them are minor. Many of them, including congressmen, refuse to go before the television cameras because it is then so plainly obvious to everybody what they are. Their whole demeanor arouses instant distrust in the intelligent. They are, all too painfully, type-cast for the race track, the sideshow carnival, the back alley, the peep show, the low tavern, the bordello, the dive. Evasiveness, dissimulation, insincerity shine through their false bonhomie like beacon lights....

     As to other legislatures, Senator Estes Kefauver found representatives of the vulpine Chicago Mafia ensconced in the Illinois legislature, which has been rocked by one scandal of the standard variety after the other off and on for seventy-five years. What he didn't bring out was that the Mafians were clearly superior types to many non-Mafians.

     Public attention, indeed, usually centers on only a few lower legislatures -- Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, California and Illinois -- and the impression is thereby fostered in the unduly trusting that the ones they don't hear about are on the level. But such an impression is false. The ones just mentioned come into more frequent view because their jurisdictions are extremely competitive and the pickings are richer. Fierce fights over the spoils generate telltale commotion. Most of the states are quieter under strict one-party quasi-Soviet Establishment dominance, with local newspapers cut in on the gravy. Public criticism and information are held to a minimum, grousers are thrown a bone, and not many in the local populace know or really care. Even so, scandalous goings-on explode into view from time to time in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri and elsewhere -- no state excepted. Any enterprising newspaper at any time could send an aggressive reporter into any one of them and come up with enough ordure to make the Founding Fathers collectively vomit up their very souls in their graves.

     [The Rich and the Super-Rich, 1968]

     Somehow I doubt that Lundberg, were he still among the living, would continue to except the United States Congress, especially considering how gaining a seat in that body seems guaranteed to make its occupant wealthy. Rare is the U.S. legislator whose net worth is less than $5 million; I cannot name one whose net worth is less than $1 million. The usual derisive dismissal is to comment that “we have the best legislators money can buy.” Whose payrolls they occupy is left to the hearer’s imagination.

     Now that the courts, both state and federal, appear willing to rewrite their laws for them, what more can we expect? Considering that they normally continue in office despite any and all departures from integrity – does anyone else remember the censure of Charlie Rangel, long a ranking member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means committee, for not paying his taxes? – what prospect is there of compelling them to walk the line?

     When irresponsibility among those with authority goes unpunished, it tends to increase. It’s certainly increased among “our elected representatives” in the decades since World War II. So has the average tenure in office of those...persons, a phenomenon for which We the People bear the odium. After all, isn’t “turning the rascals out” our responsibility?

     Of course, there is what H. L. Mencken said:

     The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government. They have only talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get and promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good only by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage and every election is a sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods.

     At each election we vote in a new set of politicians, insanely assuming that they are better than the set turned out. And at each election we are, as they say in Motherland, done in.

     How about it, Gentle Reader? Do you still think your vote matters? Do you still believe that “elections have consequences” – consequences of the sort you would favor? Would you still vote to return “your” Congressman or Senator to office on the grounds that “he’s better than the other guy” or that “we can’t afford to lose his seniority?”

     More anon.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Ultimate Manifesto, Part 1: “Judicial Restraint”

     We heard rather a lot from John Roberts, during his confirmation hearings, about the importance of judicial restraint. It’s one of the shibboleth phrases of the Right, to which obeisance is paid but seldom is more than lip service given. Just this past week, Jeb Bush, now a candidate for the Republican presidential nod, echoed the phrase when he was asked about how he would select federal judges were he elected.

     So what do these worthies think it means? Not the dictionary meaning, mind you, but the meaning its most conspicuous users put to it by their actions.

     One interpretation of the phrase is found in the judicial doctrine of stare decisis. That’s rough Latin for let the decision stand. Its black-robed users mean by it We defer to earlier decisions of this body, feeling it would be wrong to overturn them. Wrong why? Sometimes there is no reason other than stare decisis itself: the unwillingness to overrule an earlier decision, sometimes because subsequent law and government action might have been founded on it, sometimes out of an unarticulated fear that it might somehow reduce the authority of the Supreme Court.

     Viewed thus, judicial restraint protects tyranny quite as well as anything else.

     The role of the Supreme Court as stated in the Constitution seems relatively simple and straightforward:

     The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States;—between a State and Citizens of another State; —between Citizens of different States, —between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

     In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make. [Article III, Sections 1 and 2]

     The most important of all the authorities – note that I do not use the word “powers” here – the Supreme Court has undertaken, “judicial review” of the law for Constitutional fidelity, is conspicuously absent from that list. It was arrogated to the Court by Chief Justice John Marshall’s opinion in Marbury v. Madison, and has never been seriously challenged.

     Let’s stipulate for the purposes of this tirade that “judicial review” is an authority somehow implied to the Supreme Court by the Constitutional phraseology. Inasmuch as judges routinely claim the authority to proclaim the law – anyone who’s ever sat on a jury has heard a judge say to that jury that “I am judge of the law; you are judges of the facts” – it’s as well established de facto as any other authority ever claimed by a court. Is it even conceivable that “judicial review” includes the authority to rule against the text of a law on the basis of the Court’s notions about what its drafters and those who voted on it intended?

     The most extreme extension of the notion of “deference to legislative authority” could not possibly embrace this assertion of judicial telepathy. Yet that was the foundation for John Roberts’s execrable majority opinion in King v. Burwell, his most recent rescue of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. ObamaCare:

     It is implausible that Congress meant the Act to operate in this manner. See National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 567 U. S. ___, ___ (2012) (SCALIA, KENNEDY, THOMAS, and ALITO, JJ., dissenting) (slip op., at 60) (“Without the federal subsidies . . . the exchanges would not operate as Congress intended and may not operate at all.”). Congress made the guaranteed issue and community rating requirements applicable in every State in the Nation. But those requirements only work when combined with the coverage requirement and the tax credits. So it stands to reason that Congress meant for those provisions to apply in every State as well. [From the majority decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts ]

     This, then, must be taken as consistent with John Roberts’s conception of “judicial restraint.” In his masterpiece The Vision of the Anointed, the great Thomas Sowell wrote:

     Those who argue for this view of the judge’s role – for “judicial restraint” – often say that judges should follow the “original intent” of laws in general and the Constitution in particular. Yet ironically, this very phrase has been seized upon by opponents and given meanings far removed from that of those who use it. Professor Ronald Dworkin, for example, argues against original intent on grounds that “mental events” in the minds of legislators or writers of the Constitution are difficult or impossible to discern. But of course, nobody voted on what was in the back of somebody else’s mind. What was enacted into law were the meanings of those words to others – in short, the public meaning of words. As Justice Holmes put it, the relevant question was “not what this man meant, but what those words would mean in the mouth of a normal speaker of English, using them in the circumstances in which they were used.” Those who have urged judicial restraint have been very explicit that they did not mean to delve into the psyches of lawmakers, but to begin with the public meanings of the words the lawmakers used, as of the time they used them....

     Far more is involved here than a mere misunderstanding. Power is at the heart of the dispute. Although New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis wrote of the Constitution’s “expansive phrases that would be given contemporary meaning by each generation,” generations do not vote on the constitutionality of laws. Judges do,. Thus the current generation’s decisions are not replacing those of a previous generation; judges’ decisions are replacing those of the current generation by imposing their own revision of what a past generation has said. The replacement of historical meanings by “contemporary meanings” is a major transfer of power to judges, not only from other branches of government, but from the people. It is an erosion of self-government and an imposition of the social vision of judges in its place.

     When I wrote just yesterday that law and the rule of law no longer exist, this is exactly what I meant. Today, black can mean white if five “Justices” of the Supreme Court decree it to be so...and no one can do a damned thing about it.

     There is no longer law; there is only the will and whim of those in power...and they have made it their top priority to own the courts, from the lowest to the highest. What, then, of the citizen’s supposed duty to obey the law? Upon what is it founded?

     More anon.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Fatal Decisions

     Is it even imaginable that the “Justices” who just voted to:

  1. Ignore the written text of a bill and all the collateral evidence that says “and we really mean it this way;”
  2. Seize political control of the oldest and least political of all human institutions;

     ...don’t know what they’ve done?

     The Supreme Court has just written into our “Constitutional” framework that:

  • The text of a law doesn’t matter;
  • The text of the Constitution doesn’t matter;
  • What a majority of “Justices” imagine about what those who passed the law intended are of decisive legal weight;
  • There is no human practice, custom, tradition, or institution which the State cannot seize and tax, regulate, reorganize, or completely redefine to suit itself.

     The entire edifice of constitutionalism has just been ceremoniously trashed. Oh, we could see it coming from miles away. At least, I could; I’ve been watching this progression too closely and for too long to harbor any illusions about it. However, I must admit that I didn’t expect it to happen quite so rapidly or precipitously. Alvin Toffler would have something to say about that, wouldn’t he?

     We will pay for this in blood. I can only hope that the first persons to render up their due will be those selfsame “Justices.”

     Allow me to tote up what we have lost, these few years past.

     There is no longer a Supreme Law in these United States. Indeed, there is no longer law as Americans have traditionally understood it. Therefore, there is no rule of law. How could there be, when judges have arrogated the privilege of rewriting the actual text of a law to reach a decision in harmony with their preferences?

     Without law in the customary sense, there cannot be a legislature with definite powers and responsibilities. At this point, Congress is either omnipotent or powerless, depending on the correlation of forces inside the Washington Beltway.

     There is no longer a president as the Constitution defines the office: one who presides, enforcing objectively defined laws arrived at by a legitimate, well specified procedure, rather than ruling by decree. Instead we have an Orator-In-Chief with dictatorial powers. How did we choose the current bearer of the title? According to his skin color? Great God in heaven, what will the next one be like? At least the Romans had one Marcus Aurelius. When will ours arrive?

     There is no longer any branch of government that we can accurately call “the people’s representatives.” The House of Representatives, utterly controlled by the GOP, supposedly the party of limited government and strict Constitutional construction, has done nothing to head off any of the overreaches of the Obama Administration or the federal bureaucracy it commands. Should it fail to impeach John Roberts for his treason, the Senate will have revealed itself as a high-priced club of no consequence.

     There is no longer a default assumption of probity for judges. Actually, that fantasy died some time ago. A judge who can rewrite a law, or nullify a solemnly agreed contract simply by calling it “unfair” or “unconscionable,” is not to be trusted...and that is now within the powers of any man who dons the black robe and mounts a judicial bench.

     No, I’m not telling you anything you couldn’t have figured out for yourself. Maybe you had already figured it out, in which case all the above is just my concurrence. Allow an old man at least one cri de coeur before he throws up his hands in surrender.

     R.I.P.U.S.A. We hardly knew ye.

     I’ve gone from dreading a Second American Revolution to hoping for one. If I were young and hale, I’d surely march with it. I might even try to touch it off myself.

     My friend Dystopic has reminded us that war is the continuation of politics by other means. Have you ever wondered what Karl von Clausewitz had in mind when he wrote that? I articulated it as explicitly as I could in the Foreword to this novel:

     Other prominent science fiction writers have delved into the possibilities of a society that’s resolved that there shall be no State. However, none of the ones with which I’m familiar address the sociodynamics of such a society: the forces that would shape its development, with special emphasis on those that would tend to tear it from its founding premise. For me, that’s the really fascinating thing about anarchism. You see, it’s been tried, with varying degrees of longevity and success, many times in the history of Man. Yet there are no anarchic societies left on Earth as I write this foreword.

     Well, except for one: the whole of the human race.

     The States of Earth exist in an anarchic relation to one another. Each has its own regional code of law, which might differ markedly from all the others. Despite several thrusts at the matter over the centuries, there is no “super-State” to enforce a uniform code of law over them all. More, they view one another as competitors in many different areas; their populations and institutions are often in sharp economic competition with one another. Thus, they are often at odds. They resolve important disputes among them through negotiation or warfare.

     When a society has no agreed-upon written law that 98% or more of the participants willingly respect, there is nothing but rule by naked force, according to the will and whim of the dominant power. Global society has been relatively peaceful and stable these past few decades – I said relatively, Gentle Reader; brush up on your history if you think otherwise – because the dominant power has been that of the United States, which had no imperial ambitions and was fairly reliable about doing what its political masters said it would do. Over the course of the last six years we’ve seen what happens internationally when those conditions dissolve. I put it to you that we’re about to see what happens domestically, as well.

     The whole point of a political system is to arrive at the law: to produce it, maintain it, and enforce it. But law has just been revealed to be nonexistent, a phantasm. Therefore politics, the mechanism by which we attempt to avert rule by naked force according to the will and whim of the dominant power, has just been revealed as pointless. Add that in a nation whose citizens possess an estimated 300 million firearms, the “dominant power” isn’t as dominant as its masters would like to believe. If we weren’t talking about the United States – if the country of interest were some blood-soaked realm in the Balkans, for example – what would you expect to happen?

     Ask yourself, in all honesty, whether the conditions and premises that have averted that sort of development from our country are still in force.

     If there’s anything more to say about law, politics, and government under these circumstances, I can’t conceive of it this fine June morning. Perhaps that will pass; perhaps I’ll see things in a rosier light in a day or so. Being optimistic by nature, I’ll hope for that and turn to other things for the nonce. Perhaps I’ll derive some motivation for my novel-in-progress from all this crap. That, at least, would be pleasant.

     Have a nice day.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Confederate Conundrum

I posted yesterday about the Confederate flag controversy. I came down on the side of removing the flag from the Capital grounds at that time.
Iconic flags, the ones that appear at most Southern state capitals, to the one painted on the top of the  Dukes of Hazzard's car, General Lee, are being targeted for removal.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Republicans Need to Work on This

Nikki Haley is leading a fight that will have repercussions in the 2016 election.  She is calling for the Confederate flag, currently flying on the State Capitol grounds, to be taken down.
The urgency of the action is being driven by the recent tragedy in the Charleston church, that took the lives of 9 people.
It’s a divisive issue – the lawmakers were only able to get the flag, which was put in place in 1962 (Hollings, Democratic governor), moved from the Capital dome to another spot on the grounds in 2000 (Hodges, Democratic governor).  As a result of that action, lawmakers were forced to make a compromise that made any further movement require a 2/3 vote – a REALLY high bar to change.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Freezing The Pipes

     The Internet, with emphasis on the two-way facilities of the contemporary World Wide Web, has provided freedom lovers with the most important information we could possibly have: reassurance that we’re not alone, that in fact we are many – possibly a majority – and are well represented in virtually every nation.

     Before the two-way Web we lacked that reassurance, because the most important media of mass communication had been conquered by our enemies on the Left. We were ceaselessly bombarded with statist messages, the opinions of statist thinkers, and comments that strained to “humanize” tyranny and subjection. The overarching theme was always There are no alternatives. There is no escape. This is how it is and how it must be.

     From roughly 1933 to 2000, there was essentially no countervailing voice. Huge numbers of young Americans were inundated with Leftist premises and attitudes by the media’s barrage of statism, and many bought into the scam. The effect was reinforced and amplified by the Left’s dominance of the “educational system,” particularly America’s “institutions of higher learning.” Those were the American Left’s best and happiest days.

     Things changed dramatically as the Web opened up two-way channels of discourse. A great deal of conservative and libertarian sentiment came out of the shadows. Persuasive, well-informed commentators who had previously been unable to find an outlet for their thoughts found their audiences and energized them. Suddenly freedom was no longer just the stuff of an old man’s reminiscences of an era never to return. It was au courant, the happenin’ thing, and thousands of young Americans wanted a piece.

     Alarm bells sounded in the high citadels of the Left. Their strategists found the counter-movement unacceptable. It threatens their entire enterprise. Something had to be done.

     Something is being done.

     The key to enervating a movement is to atomize it. If you can persuade its allegiants to believe that they’re alone, members of a tiny, crackpot minority, you can dissolve the thing without firing a shot. The key to doing that, of course, is to prevent those allegiants from communicating with one another.

     If lines of two-way communication exist and are cheaply and easily accessed by ordinary citizens, the first approach that comes to mind will be to conquer those lines and deny access to the enemy. But this is not always possible. What then?

     If you can’t impede communications, the next best thing is to inhibit the communicators: to convince them that merely speaking their minds is more hazardous than they’d care to risk. There are several variations on this approach: campaigns of public vilification, harassment by energetic “victim groups,” pressure on employers, commercial boycotts and threats thereof, lawsuits, and sub-penal government action. Combining these elements in the proper proportions will often persuade some mouthy freedom advocate to pull in his horns for the sake of his personal well-being.

     The legal lexicon, in discussions of freedom of expression, often uses the term chilling effect. That’s the Left’s goal: to make objective delivery of facts and candid expression of opinion seem too dangerous, or too expensive, for a private citizen to undertake it. They can’t shut down the huge pipe of Internet communication, so they strive to lower the temperature therein to the freezing point.

     They’ve been having an appalling degree of success.

     Perhaps you’ve heard or read about the attempt, by DOJ thug Preet Bharara and miscellaneous accessories to the crime, to intimidate Reason magazine and its readers out of their criticism of various federal judges. For those a bit behind the curve on this atrocity, here’s former Reason editor Virginia Postrel on the throw-down:

     Wielding subpoenas demanding information on anonymous commenters, the government is harassing a respected journalism site that dissents from its policies. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York claims these comments could constitute violent threats, even though they’re clearly hyperbolic political rhetoric.

     This is happening in America -- weirdly, to a site I founded, and one whose commenters often earned my public contempt.

     Los Angeles legal blogger Ken White has obtained a grand jury subpoena issued to Reason.com, the online home of the libertarian magazine I edited throughout the 1990s. The subpoena seeks information about commenters who posted in response to an article by the site’s editor Nick Gillespie about the letter that Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht wrote to Judge Katherine B. Forrest before she sentenced him to life in prison without parole. Ulbricht was convicted of seven felony charges, included conspiracies to traffic in narcotics and launder money, and faced a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison. The letter was an appeal for leniency.

     Please read the whole article. But the obscenities didn’t end there. The judge also issued a gag order forbidding Reason to talk about the subpoena:

     When the government orders people not to talk about what it's doing, it's hard to keep track of what it's doing. That's what the First Amendment is intended to prevent. It's ironic that the Obama administration — whose supporters in 2008 made much of threats to civil liberties from George W. Bush's national security apparatus — has so thoroughly embraced surveillance and gag orders.

     But if it won't support a prosecution, why gather this information? Bharara's office isn't talking, but I suspect that the purpose of this exercise is to chill speech: To send a signal that whether or not the First Amendment protects your right to talk smack about a federal judge, you'd be wise not to do so if you don't want to attract the attention of the feds, who might choose to share your information with employers or the news media. Consider it a sort of prosecutorial brush-back pitch, if you like.

     Of course, the First Amendment term for "brush-back pitch" is "chilling effect."


     No one enjoys being criticized. Those who wield power dislike it even more than the rest of us. This is particularly the case among those with electoral ambitions, or shaky positions, or who have misdeeds to hide.

     It’s always been that way. Have a gander at this September 1973 Russell Baker column:

     Here is an alarming little news story. It is about eight men who went to Florida in 1972 with a mind to stage some sort of protest against the Vietnam War....

     Very quickly, however, they ceased being in politics and became in jail. The Justice Department had them indicted on charges of conspiring to do violence [in Miami Beach, where the Democrats and Republicans were both holding their quadrennial conventions], which they never reached, on account of their major problem with the law.

     They were tried in Gainesville. After deliberating briefly, a jury found them not guilty. This was fourteen months after their arrest and five weeks of trial....

     ...the eight men who wanted to protest at Miami Beach have bills of about $150,000 as a result. Being tried by Uncle Sam is an expensive luxury.

     In fact, Uncle Sam is something like the man in the cigar commercial who keeps threatening that he is going to get you. He doesn’t know how. Maybe by putting you in prison, maybe by letting you escape prison and merely driving you into bankruptcy. But he is going to get you.

     With resources limited only by its ability to steal, the State can intimidate anyone into silence and passivity. It can do so as it did to Reason, or to the eight men in the Baker column above. It can do what it did to Gibson Guitars. It can do what it did to Catherine Engelbrecht. Should those methods fail, it has others.

     Prosecution and official harassment aren’t the end of it. Whether they’re inside or outside the halls of power, they who have it in mind to silence the rising torrent of pro-freedom sentiment on the World Wide Web have other methods as well. Shouts of “racism,” “sexism,” “homophobia,” and other epithets. Defamation lawsuits, sometimes merely for quoting someone else’s public utterances. Commercial boycotts. Threats to one’s employer. Threats to one’s relatives, including minor children. On occasion even violence, perhaps with the assistance of some energetic “victim” group.

     Still think “talk is cheap,” Gentle Reader?

     There is no Last Graf. We can only wish we had more resources and more tools at our disposal. The fact remains that the Left and its henchmen within government have many highly effective ways of rendering the pipes of mass communication inhospitably chilly to us whom they detest. If there is warmth to be had, at this time we can only seek it from one another. Let’s do so while the means and opportunities avail us.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Logic of the times.

"Transgender “Female” MMA Fighter Brutally Injures Female Opponent."

H/t: Gates of Vienna.

“Compelling Government Interest”

     Time was, I wrote more than I do today about the abstract ideals that undergird freedom. These days, my attention is more focused on current events and what they portend. I’m not sure why that should be, except that it’s clear that, as Jubal Harshaw said in Stranger In A Strange Land, wallowing in the troubles of others can make you seriously neurotic.

     Back in the old Palace Of Reason days, and during the Eternity Road era that succeeded it, the subject of rights – what they are, why they exist at all, and what they imply for government in a society that respects them – was frequently on my mind. Of all the brief, powerful things ever said on the subject, my favorite is this one, from a Nineteenth-Century French politician and historian:

     Either rights exist, or they do not exist. If they exist, they involve absolute consequences...Furthermore, if a right exists, it exists at every moment. It is absolute today, yesterday, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, in summer as in winter, not when it pleases you to declare it in force. [Louis Thiers]

     When Thomas Jefferson wrote the birth certificate of the United States:

     We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

     ...he had that concept of rights – the peaceable individual’s possession of absolute moral trumps that prohibit infringement for any reason – firmly in mind.

     Clearly, the Jefferson / Thiers concept of rights differs from that of a permission or a license, which is granted only when the State pleases to do so and may be qualified or withdrawn at any time. Which brings us to this morning’s question:

Are Americans accorded any rights whatsoever?

     Not de facto, mind you, but de jure. In other words: does an individual possess any absolute protections against State coercion? Protections that cannot legally be abridged, infringed, or set aside on the grounds of a “compelling government interest?”

     Think it over.

     “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Jefferson’s original phrase was “Life, Liberty, and Property,” but after some wrangling with the rest of the convention he agreed to substitute “the Pursuit of Happiness,” probably because the assertion of an absolute right to one’s property would thwart the later assertion of a power to tax.

     Yet Jefferson was sincere about property rights. One of the accomplishments of his first term as president was the cessation of direct federal taxes:

     At home, fellow citizens, you best know whether we have done well or ill. The suppression of unnecessary offices, of useless establishments and expenses, enabled us to discontinue our internal taxes. These covering our land with officers, and opening our doors to their intrusions, had already begun that process of domiciliary vexation which, once entered, is scarcely to be restrained from reaching successively every article of produce and property. [ Second Inaugural Address ]

     Every tax, regardless of its nature or its rationale, is an infringement upon property rights. This is true even of an indirect tax, for it infringes upon the right of buyer and seller to trade their rightful property. Jefferson’s dedication to property rights led him to eliminate direct federal taxation – taxes that fall upon individuals and institutions – out of the federal exchequer, leaving indirect taxes – taxes on imports, exports, and particular kinds of commerce, which can therefore be avoided – as Washington’s sole sources of revenue.

     What persons or institutions escape direct taxation – federal, state, or local – today? In these post-Kelo years, what item of real or tangible property is safe from arbitrary confiscation? Is it safe even to have cash or other valuables on your person?

     Jefferson’s conception of liberty embraced the freedom of choice and movement he deemed every peaceable individual to possess. An American’s self-ownership, in Jefferson’s view, was absolute; he could therefore do whatever he pleased, subject only to the constraint that he not interfere in others’ equal right to do likewise, and the State could do nothing to hinder him. Nor could the State force him to labor for its sake, which would constitute the most direct imaginable “tax” on his unalienable rights to himself and his freedom of choice.

     The writ of habeas corpus, mentioned specifically in the Constitution, is an expression of Jeffersonian liberty. An individual’s freedom of movement could only be constrained by the State if it could make a “valid reply” to a petition for habeas corpus. In the early years of the Republic, few replies were deemed valid: chiefly imprisonment subsequent to a criminal conviction by a jury of one’s peers.

     When Abraham Lincoln decided to institute conscription for the purpose of fighting the Civil War, he found it legally necessary to suspend the applicability of habeas corpus. Though there is provision for this in the Constitution:

     The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it. [Article I, Section 9]

     ...it is a specifically Congressional prerogative to do so. Lincoln bypassed Congress and issued an order on presidential authority that habeas corpus petitions were to be ignored by his military commanders.

     Today, habeas corpus can be answered by a slew of “valid replies.” Most of them would have horrified Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers. Given that a man can be stopped for “questioning” without pretext or charge, and can be detained arbitrarily for 72 hours, entirely on police say-so, in every state in the Union, is there freedom of movement in America today?

     Ah, the “right to life.” You’d think that one, at least, would still be respected. After all, the State can’t just kill you as you’re walking along, can it? Surely it can’t come into your home and kill you, just because it decides to do so?

     Oops. Sorry. My mistake.

     So much for your “right to life.”

"Rights are an archist concept. Rights have no meaning except when confronted with superior power. They are what is left to the people after the government has taken all its wants. Your country's Bill of Rights defines your most cherished freedoms how? By limiting the legal power of government to encroach upon them." [Eric L. Harry, via fictional anarchist theorist Valentin Kartsev in Harry's novel Protect and Defend.]

     It would appear that “superior power” acknowledges no rights. The rationale is almost always “compelling government interest:” that is, the State’s interest in...what? How can the State, a fictional creature made up of individuals such as you and I, hired to do the relatively simple jobs (NB: “simple,” not necessarily “easy”) of keeping the peace in the streets, operating a court system, and defending the territory of the United States, have “interests?” It’s a BLEEP!ing hireling, and hirelings have no interests; they have responsibilities and delegated, enumerated powers, nothing more.

     The State’s “interests” are nonexistent. However, the individuals at the levers of power don’t see it that way. They want power, and as much of it as they can grab. Your “rights?” Sorry, buddy, they were just an Eighteenth Century philosopher’s idle fancy. Just a few words on a scrap of parchment. At any rate, we shan’t concern ourselves with them today. There’s oppressing work to be done!

     “Your government’s” work.

     I’ll close this tirade with a snippet from a work of fiction. It comes closer to capturing my cynicism and fear than anything else that currently comes to mind. The book it’s from is about an unusual family. All three of its members possess psi powers...and all three of them have the State’s crosshairs on their backs:

     “Once upon a time there was an experiment in which twelve people participated,” Quincey said. “About six years ago. Do you remember that?”

     “I remember it,” Andy said grimly.

     “There aren’t many of those twelve people left. There were four, the last I heard. And two of them married each other.”

     “Yes,” Andy said, but inside he felt growing horror. Only four left? What was Quincey talking about?

     “I understand one of them can bend keys and shut doors without even touching them.” Quincey’s voice, thin, coming across two thousand miles of telephone cable, coming through switching stations, through open-relay points, through junction boxes in Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, Iowa. A million places to tap into Quincey’s voice.

     “Yes?” he said, straining to keep his voice level. And he thought of Vicky, who could sometimes turn on the radio or turn off the TV without going anywhere near it-and Vicky was apparently not even aware she was doing those things.

     “Oh yes, he’s for real,” Quincey was saying. “He’s—what would you say?-a documented case. It hurts his head if he does those things too often, but he can do them. They keep him in a little room with a door he can’t open and a lock he can’t bend. They do tests on him. He bends keys. He shuts doors. And I understand he’s nearly crazy.”

     “Oh ... my ... God,” Andy said faintly.

     “He’s part of the peace effort, so it’s all right if he goes crazy,” Quincey went on. “He’s going crazy so two hundred and twenty million Americans can stay safe and free. Do you understand?”

     “Yes,” Andy had whispered.

     “What about the two people who got married? Nothing. So far as they know. They live quietly, in some quiet middle-American state like Ohio. There’s maybe a yearly check on them. Just to see if they’re doing anything like bending keys or closing doors without touching them or doing funny little mentalist routines at the local Backyard Carnival for Muscular Dystrophy. Good thing those people can’t do anything like that, isn’t it, Andy?”

     Andy closed his eyes and smelled burned cloth. Sometimes Charlie would pull open the fridge door, look in, and then crawl off again. And if Vicky was ironing, she would glance at the fridge door and it would swing shut again—all without her being aware that she was doing anything strange. That was sometimes. At other times it didn’t seem to work, and she would leave her ironing and close the refrigerator door herself (or turn off the radio, or turn on the TV). Vicky couldn’t bend keys or read thoughts or fly or start fires or predict the future. She could sometimes shut a door from across the room and that was about the extent of it. Sometimes, after she had done several of these things, Andy had noticed that she would complain of a headache or an upset stomach, and whether that was a physical reaction or some sort of muttered warning from her subconscious, Andy didn’t know. Her ability to do these things got maybe a little stronger around the time of her period. Such small things, and so infrequently, that Andy had come to think of them as normal. As for himself...well he could push people. There was no real name for it; perhaps autohypnosis came closest. And he couldn’t do it often, because it gave him headaches. Most days he could forget completely that he wasn’t utterly normal and never really had been since that day in Room 70 of Jason Geameigh.

     He closed his eyes and on the dark field inside his eyelids he saw that comma-shaped bloodstain and the nonwords COR OSUM.

     “Yes, it’s a good thing,” Quincey went on, as if Andy had agreed. “Or they might put them in two little rooms where they could work full-time to keep two hundred and twenty million Americans safe and free.” “A good thing,” Andy agreed.

     “Those twelve people,” Quincey said, “maybe they gave those twelve people a drug they didn’t fully understand. It might have been that someone—a certain Mad Doctor—might have deliberately misled them. Or maybe he thought he was misleading them and they were deliberately leading him on. It doesn’t matter.”


     “So this drug was given to them and maybe it changed their chromosomes a little bit. Or a lot. Or who knows. And maybe two of them got married and decided to have a baby and maybe the baby got something more than her eyes and his mouth. Wouldn’t they be interested in that child?”

     “I bet they would,” Andy said, now so frightened he was having trouble talking at all. He had already decided that he would not tell Vicky about calling Quincey.

     “It’s like you got lemon, and that’s nice, and you got meringue, and that’s nice, too, but when you put them together, you’ve got...a whole new taste treat. I bet they’d want to see just what that child could do. They might just want to take it and put it in a little room and see if it could help make the world safe for democracy. And I think that’s all I want to say, old buddy, except...keep your head down.”

     [Stephen King, Firestarter]

     Know of any convenient planetoids, Gentle Reader?

Really Find the News Depressing

In no particular order:


Thursday, June 18, 2015

“Shut The Barn Door, Sadie! The Horse Is Gone!”

     You might find this hard to believe. As one who has worked with – indeed, alongside – far too many government functionaries, I don’t:

     It’s often been a theme here that the State is evil...and it is. (Whether it’s a “necessary evil” is still up for discussion.) But wait: There’s more!


     And I will tell you why.

     “Senescence begins when growth ends.” – “Lansing’s Law”
     “Institutions have their own dynamic, and the dynamic of governments is to grow.” – David Friedman
     Government Systems, acting in accordance with the laws of growth, Tend to Expand and Encroach. In encroaching upon their own citizens, they produce Tyranny, and encroaching upon other Government Systems, they engage in Warfare. -- John Gall, Systemantics
     A blade which is designed both to shave and to carve, will certainly not shave so well as a razor or carve so well as a carving-knife. An academy of painting, which should also be a bank, would in all probability exhibit very bad pictures and discount very bad bills. A gas company, which should also be an infant-school society, would, we apprehend, light the streets ill and teach the children ill. -- Herbert Spencer, "Over-Legislation"

     Apologies for the barrage of quotations, Gentle Reader, but this is a subject upon which much has already been said, and not just by your humble commentator. The problem is putting it together properly, a trial with which anyone who has ever coped with that Satanic torment called customer-assembled furniture will already be familiar.

     Any human institution will strive to grow. Indeed, any living thing, whether it’s an individual or a colony organism, will strive to grow, for growth is the sole alternative to death. But growth always comes at a price. The price of growth isn’t always paid by the thing that’s growing.

     An institution grows by expanding its sphere of activity, which inevitably involves acquiring personnel and assets. In a competitive ecology, that implies the consumption of other organisms. However, it also implies at least a partial diversion of the personnel and efforts dedicated to the institution’s previous sphere of action.

     Every institution has an optimum size. That size is determined by its goals and the context within which it pursues them. But an institution that pursues goals that are unrelated to one another, or worse, which interfere with one another in some way, will carry overheads of personnel and internal protocols that engender costs and inefficiencies that two institutions pursuing those goals separately would not experience. Thus, when an institution reaches its optimum size, it faces a choice:

  1. Grow beyond that optimum size, whether by acquiring new goals or by expanding beyond its original context, and thus become inefficient;
  2. Begin to die.

     There are no other possibilities.

     All other things being equal, over time an inefficient institution will be required to face more efficient competitors. This will compel one of the following responses:

  • Decline;
  • Fractionation;
  • Warfare.

     The first of these is obviously undesirable. The second is plausible only for institutions that are capable of surviving the process. The third, while it might not involve flying lead and spurting blood, necessitates further loss of efficiency and must eventuate in recourse to one of the other two.

     This is as true for governments as for private companies and associations.

     A government, of course, is an institution which has arrogated the privilege of coercing individuals and institutions that lie within its “jurisdiction.” Therefore, it’s capable of suppressing competition. (Indeed, competition between governments is normally called warfare; competition between governments within a “jurisdiction” claimed by more than one of them is civil warfare.) Thus, a government need not be balked by any limit upon its growth other than the purely physical.

     But as stated above, and has been confirmed by innumerable historical examples, growth beyond an institution’s optimum size inevitably engenders inefficiency...and the further from its optimum size a government grows, the more inefficient it becomes.

     The problem is compounded by the sort of person who works in government, whether as an elected official, an appointee, or a hireling. As I’ve written on several previous occasions, such persons are not primarily interested in providing anything you or I would deem a “public service.” Some service-minded sorts will aspire to such positions, but the institutional dynamic of government makes it improbable that they will remain in them for long, nor will they rise in authority. Note how quasi-authoritarian institutions such as unions exert a “slow down, you’re working too fast” efficiency-damping influence upon their members. The State, a fully authoritarian institution, takes that to its logical conclusion: persons who challenge the anti-service ethics and behavior of their co-workers are forced out, if not subjected to punishment for “whistleblowing.” I submit that we’ve seen quite enough demonstrations of that phenomenon within the tenure of the current administration.

     Thus, with no counterbalances and no viable competition that cannot be suppressed by the force at the behest of the State, the State grows without limit: first beyond whatever might be its proper sphere; then through ever increasing levels of inefficiency; finally to complete incompetence. Any task it nominally undertakes is virtually guaranteed never to be accomplished. Indeed, in many cases its “progress” is retrograde: conditions move in the direction opposite to the one it purports to seek.

     Robert Conquest’s Third Law is thus established as the supreme operating rule of the State.

     Given all the above, which is easily within the mental scope of anyone capable of reading this essay, we should not expect competence from government at any level. Indeed, we must not. Nor is the problem specifically characterological. The laws and dynamics that militate toward this outcome are only intensified by the accession to power of persons of bad character. At this stage in our devolution, you could populate the 88,000 governments of these United States entirely with living saints, and it would make virtually no difference. Hence the title of this piece.

     There is no cure but the hoof-and-mouth disease cure. There is no palliative but effective separation of oneself from the State. The Katherine Archuletas of Washington are the dominant lifeforms therein. It could be no other way, for the State is their ecological niche, wherein they are optimally positioned to survive and flourish. We cannot eliminate them without eliminating their habitat.

     Think it over.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sex: Some Thoughts

     This will be an unusual sort of “assorted” piece: one with a unifying theme. I trust you’ll allow me my little innovation.

     In case you haven’t noticed, sex is now one of the most heavily politicized subjects in the history of the United States. Both the “doing” and the “being” are now political subjects – with right and wrong answers for each, according to which major political family one mentions. This is, not to put too fine a point on it, a very bad thing.

     Feminism has completely slipped its cams, as we can see from Robert Stacy McCain’s ongoing coverage of their various lunacies. However, this is partially counterbalanced by a strange resurgence of revulsion toward sex among some sectors of the Right, as if one extreme were somehow evoking the other.

     Few palliatives would do as much to lower our national blood pressure as the complete depoliticization of sex – i.e., returning it to something parents educate their kids about, and the rest of us fumble with in private. But as sex has been a major recruitment tool for the Left since the advent of oral contraception, that’s unlikely to happen within the lifetimes of Americans now living.

     Sexual repression is an important tool of Islamic jihadism:

     We know the recipe for creating a psychopath: You take their normal sexual interests and you pervert them by telling them what is normal is sick and wicked.

     You confuse them sexually, and then all that sexual energy, diverted from its normal healthy channels, seeks another outlet for expression.

     Tell men that women are dirty, filthy whores created by Satan to mislead them and you'll create men who are attracted to the innocence of 13 year old girls. (And 13 year old boys.)

     Psychic energy, like all other energy, can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only be changed from one form to another.

     This is an important insight, though not an absolutely new one:

     'Haven't you gotten it through your head yet that the whole "pariah" notion is this tyranny's scapegoat mechanism that every tyranny requires?'
     'Yes, but—'
     'Shut up. Take sex away from people. Make it forbidden, evil, limit it to ritualistic breeding. Force it to back up into suppressed sadism. Then hand the people a scapegoat to hate. Let them kill a scapegoat occasionally for cathartic, release. The mechanism is ages old. Tyrants used it centuries before the word "psychology" was ever invented. It works, too.'

     There’s so much sublimated aggression in the sex act that the conversion of sexual energy into actual violence is a one-step process – really, no trouble at all. But we wouldn’t have expected anything complex from a gaggle of seventh-century savages.

     Marriage, the most important social institution of all time, has its origin in the concept of sexual responsibility: i.e., responsibility for one’s dependents, both acquired and begotten. The man assumed responsibility for his wife and his children by her; the woman assumed responsibility for the nurturing of the children and was abjured against producing children by a man other than her husband. In a sense, the marital contract was the birth of the idea that one is responsible for the consequences of one’s actions. Inversely, the contract proclaimed that one cannot rightly be held responsible for something he did not do.

     Much of Western moral and ethical thought descends directly from the responsibility ethic embedded in the traditional marital contract...which is probably why the Left has been hostile toward marriage throughout its history and seeks to degrade it to meaninglessness with “same-sex marriage.”

     Sex and love are separate phenomena. The relationships that intertwine them don’t magically transform one into the other.

     Sex is a biological function. We’re designed to want it, to seek sex partners and enjoy their bodies. However, men and women differ markedly in the incentives buried in our genes and psyches. Men have an innate incentive to “scatter the seed,” whereas women have a natural inclination toward securing a protector-provider by offering sex in recompense. This cannot change without radically altering the natures of the sexes.

     Love is an emotional response to another person one deems worthy of a deep commitment. It elevates the well-being of the other to a plane equal to one’s own. Clearly there can be sex without love, and love without sex. But less clear is how and when humans learned to love. (I doubt we needed to “learn” sex, other than its reproductive consequences.) It’s hard for me to imagine love among nonsentients, however charming their instinctual behaviors toward their young often appear.

     The motif I employed in this novel notwithstanding, I remain firmly convinced that the unit of two – the monogamous heterosexual marriage – is the unit best suited to human beings. The responsibilities involved are perfectly clear, whereas larger groups tend to exhibit all sorts of murky ambiguities, with concomitant instabilities of loyalty and affection. “Big Love” is merely a misspelling of “Unreliable Commitments.”

     That having been said, there are cases about which I am uncertain. If the Old Testament is trustworthy on this subject, God did allow polygamy to the Hebrews while they wandered in the desert seeking Israel. However, much of the Old Testament is not trustworthy – a collage of morally edifying stories and allegories rather than a factual history of the Jewish people – so on this, my “jury” remains undecided. In particular, should the human lifespan be extended to hundreds or thousands of years, it is unclear whether traditional monogamous heterosexual marriage would survive. But perhaps that won’t come to pass, which would render the subject moot.

     To close, allow me a small joke:

     “Where ya been, Garth?
     “Sunday meetin’.
     “Oh. What did the preacher talk about?”
     “Well? What did he say?”
     “He’s for it.”

     I feel the same way about sex. But remember to take appropriate precautions:

  • Your partner should be a member of the opposite sex – a willing member.
  • Do not consume garlic, beans, or a large quantity of beer beforehand;
  • Do not begin until you have obtained privacy for yourselves. (Yes, that includes foreplay.)
  • Make certain the area is free of weapons, fragile objects, and dangerous detritus.
  • Most critically: if your partner is a new acquaintance, say her name to yourself several times before beginning.

     That is all.

     (P.S.: Under no circumstances say, “I’ve never done it that way before!” You won’t be believed.)

Monday, June 15, 2015

It’s time for some more tom-foolery from our friends at the GOP!

Yes, I received an email (unsolicited) from the Grand Old Party today. It seems they have “based on my feedback”, “compiled a list of what it means to be a Republican”.

That I haven’t directly talked with, texted, or mailed (e-mail or otherwise) any “feedback” to any individual member of said party, or to the party itself, I am assuming they are qualifying that statement as being “feedback received from their membership at large”, and not any one particular individual.
So let’s take a look at the “New and Improved" ™ “ GOP “Core Values”!!

“I believe that our:

County is exceptional
(Oh, I see, you left out) “…but not for long. “ There, fixed it for you. As based on the actions of most of the senior members of the GOP in the house and senate, this would certainly be the case.
Leaders should serve people, not special interests.
First of all, are there any members of the GOP who qualify as leaders? And not just folks who have either put in enough time so they are now “entitled” to senior positions in either the house, senate, or upper echelons of the party. Or are boot lickers who have “worked their way up (?) into positions of authority”, if only because they know where all the skeletons are buried.

Of course the “serve people”….however, it seems, more often than not, they are serving the interests of people from “across the aisle”, vice either their constituents, or on a national level, the best interests of the GOP platform/ national interests. (Anyone remember a time when at least a large percentage of the GOP elected officialdom would have said “Illegal Alien” vice “Undocumented Alien”…followed closely behind with “Securing the border(s)” vice “amnesty”? Yeah, it has been quite some time here too. And even if they did…how did they end up voting on this issue?)

You may not have to have as big and brassy a pair like General Patton, but it would be (or at least it used to be a requirement) nice if you at least had a pair to call your own…assuming you wanted to be a leader. And, of course, the special interest groups are not in and of themselves a bad thing (the NRA. FRA, and others come to mind). It is a way for various folks who share a common ground to help get their voices heard. And this is as true for progressives as it is to those of us who are either more conservative in nature, or at the very least more beholding to the (alleged) governing framework we have in place otherwise known as “The Constitution”.

Which brings us to ...
Constitution should be honored, valued, and upheld.
I have become cynical enough to almost expect any Democrat in office, and especially those of a strong liberal/progressive bent, to pay lip service to the above only when it is politically expedient to do so. Even then, I would understand it is only that, lip service. But in the last eight years or so (and even longer if you count the Clinton and Carter terms of office.) there have been some chirps coming from the GOP…but mostly silence… concerning the almost too many to count abuses put forth by the current administration.
“They” got Nixon for his part in Watergate…perhaps even more so for his (alleged) cover up(s) involving same (and or folks involved with it).

For almost the past eight years, we have at least one, and very possibly many more individuals, up to and including the current President, who are, at the very least, guilty of “High crimes and Misdemeanors”, and at the most treason. Yet all we hear from the GOP regarding same...crickets chirping.
This one and the last one go together hand in glove. No balls = no (real) leader(ship) = failure to truly honor, value, and uphold the Constitution.

Families should be strong and free from government intrusion.
Don’t know what the GOP (or any other party) has to do with families being strong…but it sure do sound pretty don’t it. Impose mandatory fitness standards perhaps?

Now “Free from government intrusion” I can understand. And I could see the GOP getting behind that….err….except they have not done a damn thing while having control of either the house or senate, to say…reduce/ change the current tax system. (Talk about your government intrusion…the IRS is right up there!!) Or perhaps stop fighting a “war on drugs” which they either are not serious about “winning”….or know in their heart of hearts it is “unwinnable”. And all the thousands upon thousands of laws now on the books which potentially set up almost everyone to become a felon, without really trying.

It seems to me the Dems want to get into every aspect of your life, and your pocket book….the GOP wants to get into your pocketbook, and your bedroom.

And how about the smoking laws. Ya can’t smoke in a bar??!!!! Okay, I won’t smoke in YOUR bar…I will go and open one of my own which allows one to drink and smoke at the same time, in the same place. What?? Can't I do that? Naaa…the GOP never sided with the Dems on this one…..never in a million years. Dictating what a business owner can and can’t do? Same with men only clubs….and various private clubs and institutions. They have caved before, and it seems they will cave again. Free from government intrusion my rosy red butt!

Hmmm….does anyone else besides me see a trend developing here??

Institution of traditional marriage is the foundation of society.
Ok, I happen to personally believe in this. BUT…. I don’t want my political party (whichever it may be) to be traipsing into matters of religion. That worked so well with abortion … and is working so well with the LGBT agenda(s). (Need I add a "sarc tag" after that?)

That the real issue with the current gay marriage kerfuffle is not one of getting married, rather one of forcing those institutions who believe their sacrament of marriage is not something to be sanctioned out to any group or couple other than a man and a woman … to include US too. This is not out of a legitimate sense of being excluded, but of willfully tearing down said institutions …[traditional] Christianity is bad … we must change it so it conforms to what WE want. Or get rid of this pesky morality altogether.

Healthcare decisions should be made by us and our doctors.
"Right after you fill out this form, and let us know if there is anyone in your home that is mean to you. Oh, does anyone own a firearm in your home?"  These are some of the questions one may be asked on your next visit to the docs or the ER.

I know the GOP believes in this core value…that is why they allowed passage of Obamacare. What on earth makes you believe they are going to start adhering to their “platform” now?

Paychecks should not be wasted on poorly run government programs.
So if they are managed properly…then we can count on our paychecks being wasted on them?
And by definition, aren’t just about all government programs poorly run? Name me one that could not be run better, cheaper, or if not cheaper at least more cost effective.

And yes, I noticed “Paychecks” has replaced “taxes”. Or are they saying, very soon, all your paycheck shall belong to us.

Military must be strong and prepared to defend our shores.
A couple of things here. In this day and age, should not “our national interests”, when necessary, call for us to power project well beyond our shoreline? And be it defending our shores, backing an ally (Israel, for example), or defending our national interests abroad, should we not train our troops, Sailors, and Airmen to win?? And not impose “rules of engagement” which prevents same. Or not have the (political) will to do what it takes to “win” in the first place?

Culture should respect and protect life.
So, by the above statement, the GOP (and by extension the federal government) is going to dictate to the entertainment media what is acceptable in meeting this “core value”? You can not do this and be faithfully adhering to the constitution. Some would argue we should have the government set acceptable standards. Wouldn’t it be better if we left this to the various religious outlets? Oh wait, we keep stepping on their toes. You can’t (even if it is acceptable by the majority of that community, or school, or sporting event) have general religious standards (Giving thanks to God before your team takes the field, for example, or allowing for a nativity scene to be set up on “community” property, or the ten commandments being placed in a courthouse.).  In short, the acknowledgment of the Judeo-Christian ethos being a part of the nation's founding fabric. No one specific church being singled out, but a general reinforcement of what is being supposedly espoused from any number of pulpits and other places of worship throughout the week. Perhaps this would at least begin to “strengthen the culture”.

You want to respect and protect life, allow that aspect of our nature to be reminded from time to time outside of one's formal attendance at their house of worship.  Nothing compulsory, but being "a predominantly Christian Nation" should not make the public display of same something which has to be fought over.  Especially if it is consensual, if involving a group.  (Most polls taken claim something between 70-90%  polled attest to being Christian.  I suspect if you add the various flavors of Judaism into the mix, the percentage would be even higher.)

Now if we are masking the real intent here…and that would be to remove the legalization of abortion, or to at least restrict the window of opportunity for same to something much less than it is now.  Then at least have the balls (There are those pesky testes again!) to come out and say as much.  And let’s have an honest discussion about same.  Let’s set a limit, a window on it.  Hell, let’s go a step further and “value, respect and protect” the life of all the unborn babies out there, after that “window” has closed, making it a case of homicide if any are “aborted” afterwards. But stop tap dancing around the issue. You are either serious about it or you are not.

Children should never be left in failing schools.
Damn, don’t you check the rooms before you lock the doors at night?

Hmm,  perhaps starting with the abolishment of the Department of Education being a great step in the right direction.  Allowing local (city, township, wards, parishes) to set their own criteria, and or, standards. Kinda what was done up until the beginning of the last century…seemed to work okay for the country up until then.  Abolish the teacher’s union(s). Take the pension funds out of the hands of the state(s). Naaaa, that would never work!  Of course, the GOP will come up with some sort of program, federally funded (and then de-funded when the Dems assume control of the house).  And the real losers at the end of the day will be the kids.

Veterans should have the best care and opportunities in the world.
I assume they are referring to medical care (physical and mental) here. But what is this "opportunities" they speak of?  You mean something which you would receive after completing at least one enlistment with honorable service? Hmmm…something that covers at least the cost of your college courses/trade school fees for say…four years or so. Oh, you might still have to work to keep a roof over your head, and put food on the table, but at least the schooling is “free”.  And if you do well enough to earn a scholarship then you have the monies go into your pocket for the remainder of the time allowed for you to (hopefully) complete your degree/certification?  We used to have that, back in the years immediately following Viet Nam (and WWII and Korea) they called it "The GI Bill".  Wonder what happened to it?  Oh yeah, it morphed into any number of different plans and options.  None of which was as easy to negotiate, or as uncomplicated as the original.

Or are you talking about preferential hiring of vets?  Thought that was already in place for government jobs.  Also thought there were tax and other incentives for the private sector to do the same. 

 So what other opportunities are being implied here?   Or is this just another rather nebulous piece of fluff designed to make GOP’ers feel good, and not really meaning anything at all.

Social programs should help lift people out of poverty.
My how Great Society we are sounding now.  What about we look at what is keeping a lot of folks at the poverty level and work to alleviate that? Break the chain of poverty, if you will. (If such a thing is even possible.)  Perhaps we stop paying out when you have so many kids, with no idea who the father is, and no desire to get any sort of training to get yourself off the poverty merry-go-round.

America should be energy independent.
Grow a pair and call the current administration to account…..stop buying into all the green bs and allow those who produce the energy to do so…and we will be, in very short order.

I saved one of the first ones on this list for the final entry because, after all the above, I think this is where it belongs.

Government should be smaller, smarter, and more efficient.
This, in one form or another, has been at the core of the GOP platform, for at least the last 60 years, if not more.  And in all this time, through Republican administrations, Republican control of either or both houses, along with an always positive response to this particular “plank”, they have never really been serious about it.  Not once.  Ok, perhaps a much younger Newt Gingrich worked on pushing in this direction, but at the end of the day….like a tumor gone wild…the cancer which is DC and it’s DNA, the federal government, continues to grow.

And grow…

And grow…..

Here is a short list of what should be your real core values, GOP.

Close the borders….send everyone who is not in possession of the proper documentation across the border (north or south doesn’t matter). If we are in need of migrant workers…let those folks in who meet the requirements and have at it.

Adhere to the Constitution. Hold all who do not do so to the fire. File charges and or Impeach as required by said Constitution.

Do your damn jobs to the best of your ability.

Grow a pair!!!!

If you follow the above, you will go along way toward meeting much of the supposed “Core Values” you spewed forth in your little email.

Or continue on the path you are on, and watch your party….and the country dissolve and crumble before your greedy, power hungry, corrupted little eyes.

Because most of this country, at least those who would have given you the benefit of the doubt…have long since left your tent.  Trusting neither you, or your progressive partners across the aisle.   And this, yet another thinly disguised attempt at getting money, will end up the same as the last one you sent me…like your political promises, and your rhetoric, and your (supposed) leadership abilities….empty.