Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mark Your Calendar

This news comes quicker than I anticipated, and the recommendations will be released on 12/6 (next Wednesday).

That is, of course, assuming that the New York Times doesn't get tipped off before then. At least that wouldn't be damaging to national security, like so many of their other scoops.

That they are suggesting talks with Syria and Iran doesn't bode well for the group's recommendations. Nor my blood pressure, but I'm glad they've given me a week to prepare for it.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Revisiting an Old Topic

Recently this question of limiting United States Congressional members to one term of service was raised once again over at the Federalist Patriot blog. And as per the usual the discussion pretty much centered around the idea that restricting our servants to one term of service on the one hand, would bring fresh blood and fresh ideas into the United States Congress. This in turn, it is assumed, would result in actually getting things done in Congress....and good things at that. On the other hand, the opponents of term limits argued that term limiting Congress would effectively limit the People in their choices, not to mention that we already have virtual term limits in place - we just don't exercise them often enough, or more precisely, we just don't exercise them properly enough. Obviously the opinion of the contributers here falls more in line with the latter of the opposing viewpoints. We find ourselves squarely in that camp because it cannot be argued with any propriety that term limiting Congress is anything less than restricting the voters in their choices, nor can it be said that the People already possess anything less than the ultimate in term-limiting power - the elective franchise. In short, term limits exist in their purest form at the national level of our government, and their existence in that form merely restricts voting citizens to the most reasonable of terms - suitable age and character.

However, we believe the point is not really whether or not term limits are a good idea. Our position is rather that the attentions of would-be reformers should be directed more to the point of what is the most viable of our alternatives for accomplishing the shared goals of both camps. While we do not doubt the good intentions of those who advocate for term limits, we cannot stand idly by and allow the road to h*ll to be paved with those intentions. On the other hand, whenever this question comes up, there is generally a notable perspective often overlooked by the members of both camps - that of common ground. In other words, dear reader, from either perspective (advocating for term limits or advocating against them), the point is that the desired results, or effects, are in a general sense, shared desires of both perspectives. Both perspectives claim a common desire, and state as their goal more positives accomplished at the national level than we are currently getting. It is that common ground that we shall seek to emphasize.

It would be less than useful though, to offer up a common-ground alternative to term limits without first laying out in a rational fashion our reasons for which term-limits have not the potential to effect our common and desired goals. Nor would it be useful or honest in emphasizing this common-ground perspective to lend the slightest pretense to our having an open-mind with regard to the institution of Congressional term limits. No, dear reader, we do not believe term limits have the potential to effect our common goals. Indeed, we believe term-limits have the exact opposite potential, virtually guarantying the worsening of our national condition as opposed to the desired effects of making anything better.

In the conversation at the aforementioned blog, something of a unique perspective was offered on the subject. "Unique" I say, because whenever this subject raises its head on occasion, it is rarely, if ever, discussed from this perspective. In short, dear reader, the perspective amounts to this - our Congress, under term limits, would be perpetually comprised of a bunch of inexperienced sophomores. In fact, at the very moment that the upper house of that body gained its greatest experience, by law under term limits, the very members possessing the most experience in that body - fully one-third of the United States Senate - would all be replaced with persons possessing zero experience in that body. And that, my friends, can never be appropriate to our form of government. Allow me to rephrase that: It can never be appropriate to our form of government to have as its legislative arm a body of people with an overall sophomoric understanding of government, good intentions notwithstanding. The reasons for this are briefly covered under the following headings:

1. The Necessity of an Experienced Congress:

Among the nations of the world, the United States is arguably the most powerful, stable, and self-correcting of all the governments of the earth. One characteristic of our government which gives it such overall favorable qualities, internally and externally, is its tendency to reform, correct, and adjust itself to the ever-changing world around it slowly, methodically, and peacefully. With few exceptions, we may look to the most successful and stable corporations within and without our country and identify the same basic elements marking them, as well as our government, with the same outstanding qualities. Among these is an internal governmental structure which by design creates an air of stability with a singularity of purpose in mind - the best good of the whole. While one wouldn't argue that such a design compromises the basic integrity of a company or corporation, it seems that a large segment of our society would argue along those lines with regard to our national government. In any event, reason itself is assaulted whenever we, by inference and extension, argue that there exists no need, and indeed quite to the contrary, for the stabilizing influence experience and a knowledge of business is uniquely capable of providing in our national legislature.

2. Internal Stability is of Primary Concern:

Anyone who knows anything at all about the founding generation, knows that they were thoroughly persuaded that violent and sudden changes could rarely, if ever, be considered good for the country. By "violent and sudden changes" I mean to say - creating a situation (in this case, by the institution of term limits) wherein there is a rapid and regular turnover in Congress; the bringing in, on a continual and regular basis, of fresh blood, fresh ideas, and folks driven by the "fire in their bellies," yet, in so doing, and indeed as a goal in itself by the very institution itself, retaining no effective check against an overzealous approach by which to control that passion. In doing so, it does not take a large leap of faith to imagine our Senate, after two or three successive election cycles, being largely comprised of a bunch of zealous "reformers" bent on overthrowing certain national traditions the people have become rather accustomed to, only to have their "reforms" overthrown by a new group of zealous reformers bent on the same destructive practice. The internal disorders that would necessarily and regularly accompany such as this are too frightening to contemplate.

3. Too Much democracy; not enough Republicanism and Federalism:

Since we already find ourselves in the precarious position of our Senate being chosen by direct vote of the people, it could never be appropriate to that body specifically, to allow us through term limits, to slip ever closer to that of a pure democracy. We beg your indulgence in allowing us an explanation here: If term limits are ever instituted at the national level of our government, effectively we would be usurping the very foundations of federalism by throwing the whole government completely and utterly out of balance. What remnants of federalism (balanced government) we have left must be carefully guarded at all costs, until that day when we can re-establish balance as a central idea under this union. To grant the People term limits is again to give them more direct control over the national business, when they can be little knowlegable as to the vast array of details in which that national business operates and consists. And let us be clear in stating that while our argument that term limits restricts the voters in their choices seems at first blush to contradict our argument here that such an institution gives them more direct control, the fact is there is no contradiction to be found in the two arguments. By the institution itself voters would be restricted in their choices, there can be no doubt about that. However, by the same institution, Constitutional restrictions on their having a direct say in the national business would be virtually, and finally overthrown. On the one hand, their rights would be materially and really restricted. On the other, and by the same institution, they would assume a more direct and leading role in the conduct of the national business. This latter is a dangerous pursuit, and shall be further expounded upon in the remaining arguments.

4. External Wars would result from Term Limits.

Our Senators and representatives are called to perform specific Constitutional duties. By the Constitution of the United States, our Senate is called to confirm or reject the President's nominations for such vitally important posts as ambassadorships, seats on the Supreme and lower courts, and etc... This duty in itself requires a Senate that is very knowledgable of its business. Consider for instance that our national government is tasked, first and foremost, with the national security and defense of this nation. Part of that duty is comprised in our relationship with other Nations and States around the world. I ask you, my friends, what comfort could a friendly, not to mention a rogue nation derive from a Senate which exhibits no stability; which doesn't even as much as exhibit the appearance of being firm and knowledgable - indeed, much to the contrary? Yes, my friends, the simple institution of term limits would result, I doubt not, in effectively compromising the security of this nation. It would do so because in addition to the natural tendencies of other nations to distrust this one, and vice-versa, term limits would overthrow that one element to which heretofore other nations around the globe have looked upon our government with the most faith and certainty - stability. When we consider that we have international treaties that this nation has long committed itself to, not to mention that we are sure to form new alliances in the future, there can be no doubt about the detrimental impact term-limits would have on our national security. This nation has never seen the kinds and numbers of wars that would likely result from merely instituting term limits. We needn't give ourselves any more occasion for wars, just or unjust. Not only would it not be in our national interest to do so, but it would be a concurrent violation of our national duty to the international community to institute term limits at the national level.

5. An Exercise in Futility; A Surer Method of Reform.

Had term limits the slightest potential to effect the desired results of their advocates, we would be the first to acknowledge it, my friends. By the same token, if term limits are found to be so wantonly devoid of any such potential, upon even a rather cursory inspection, then we count it among our highest duties to do our small part in resigning the idea to the ash-heap. It is our firm belief that there exists a far superior alternative to term limits. This alternative offers all of us real potential to effect the designs generally intended by the institution of term limits. As was said before, we do not doubt the sincerity and the good intentions of advocates of term limits. We merely disagree that term limits are the best means to our common ends. Our common ends, or goals, can be summed up in these words - to reform and strengthen this government; to effect the kinds of changes that have long-term, positive results. We believe there is a way to accomplish this which would not require compromising our national security, our internal stability, nor the overall knowledge and experience of our legislative branch. The violent and sudden changes incident to the institution of term limits would be avoided by this method, and perhaps most appealing of all, this method would not require that anyone violate their core values. And once more, my friends, such an outstanding method is it, that in the very midst of internal reform, our nation would remain in the eyes of the world, and this very people, as strong and stable as ever it was. In a word, my friends, our common goals could be met in the fullest extent via the resurrecting of a simple, yet pure American idea - Balanced government. For more on this, see the other articles posted to this blog. Your comments and questions are as always, welcome.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006 and a Milestone

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Today, I'm especially thankful for my faith, my family and friends. God bless my Brothers here - my kindred spirits - and all our Readership. You folks are the "early adopters" in the renewal of the Republic, and may His divine protection always surround you for your selfless love of your fellow man.

And the milestone? Not planned this way, for sure, but this is the 100th post to the blog. Everyone have a glorious day, and I'll have more thoughts on this milestone later, most likely tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"Grand" Old Party

I attended a GOP Township meeting last night. There were all sorts of elected officials there, and the meeting went about normal business. Our keynote speaker was the chairman of the county GOP. To say that his speech left me puzzled is something of an understatement.

He hammered on how well things went in the county, which is a strong GOP bastion. Of course, patting ourselves on the back for holding our county is a hollow victory when one reflects on the failures of the party statewide. The time for patting ourselves on the back... well it didn't seem like that's appropriate given the overall outcome.

He highlighted some competitive races and how the party learned some valuable lessons:

One of which was that "we" (quotes used to denote that I'm not necessarily thrilled about being part of the we) are losing the middle-class suburban woman to the Demos on the stem-cell issue. I was a little surprised by this comment, which in spirit was a challenge that we need to re-think the issue. His example was that the successful Roskam used a cancer survivor who was treated with adult stem cells in their treatment, to counter Michael J. Fox stumping for Demo Tammy Duckworth.

(deep breath)

I not only strenuously object to the Demos politicizing disease as a means to forward an agenda, but recoil in horror that instead of countering such shamelessness with outrage, reason, facts and objectivity, that we instead trot out our own victim. If indeed we're losing voters to the Demos on the stem-cell issue, the voters are wrong. Absolutely, and without qualification, dead wrong. Our duty, then, is to explain how the Demos are wrong on the issue and how we're right on the issue.

Secondly, and as big a surprise to me, was the chairman's comments that 80% of the Latino vote went Demo in the election which is something we should be "very concerned about" - and the spirit of his comments again was courting these voters, with respect to immigration reform. I was, once again, speechless. Understanding demographic changes, I acknowledge, is what political candidates, operatives and consultants need to do. I cannot find a single reason, upon near-constant reflection since last night, to violate these principles to sway voters. Either we stand for something or we stand for nothing. We should vehemently explain, clarify, and argue for our positions. But compromise them? Deliberately lie, or worse, do the wrong thing, just to stay in power?

I concluded at the night's end, that there remains an enormous amount of work to be done to further the principles of federalism and return the Republic to the proper balance as the framers intended. I take some comfort that elected officials are merely a reflection of their constituents, and when the electorate changes, so shall the elected.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Good Questions

A friend recently posed these questions to Mr. Webster: What do you think is going to happen and what do you hope will happen? The context was an important one - it related to how things have degenerated so much in America as to render our government increasingly ineffective and our Republic in an ever more precarious position.

The members of this space have uniformly asserted - in this and other forums - that the key to renewal as we have defined it lies in education. Now, for each person a word like renewal can conjure very different images. It's important for us to explain then, as specifically as we can, what this means when we say it.

Renewal then, to this writer, means a return to the intended balance between the spheres of government. As I have quoted time and again, Federalist 45 holds the answers. The framers of our Constitution had very clear ideas - as clear as one can be without a functioning crystal ball - about the role of each sphere of government. Although this brief description doesn't do justice to the content of that essay, generally, those areas that can be considered domestic should be the domain of the smallest spheres of government (the largest of such small spheres being the several States), while the federal sphere focuses on national security, defense, regulation of commerce, and, I would add, protection of our inalienable rights. This concept of inalienable rights is a decidedly American concept; thus, when one marries the American ideal to the Federalist system, why we consider ourselves American Federalists.

Such a renewal will take a massive education effort, which can be further divided into separate categories. This blog, for one, has as its purpose the dissemination of these ideas and principles. Hopefully, these ideas have merit (we think they do) and the readers of this blog adopt these ideas as their own. Readers then speak to their friends and family about these ideas, and more people are drawn to the blog - and maybe even some different blogs that espouse the same ideas.

All of this is meaningless without the desired effect of education: action. I can tell you that personally I have become involved - have volunteered - in local politics. My goal will be to faithfully work for the furtherance of the ideals I believe in. And like the bottle of shampoo reads: Repeat steps 1 and 2.

So what do I think will happen? I think things will continue to worsen before they improve. What do I hope will happen; or, what will be the effect of this worsening condition? I think that enough people will adopt these ideas that it will either transform a current political party or result in the creation of a new one.

Either that or the whole experiment will go straight to h*ll, but I'm sublimely confident that we're here for a reason, and that we're not done by a long shot.

As always, I welcome your comments Dear Reader, and I'm also reachable by e-mail as well, if you want to challenge me privately on these ideas (you know who you are).

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Moral Superiority of Federalism

I was thinking about the right to self-determination today, and thought I'd get some of those thoughts out to share with you, Dear Reader, this evening.

I think where most people go wrong - either Democrat and Republican - is that they elect people to legislate their point of view with the idea that this will accomplish something. It often results in short-term change, but no change instituted thus is long-lasting, by any measure.

Take the current Congress for example (please, take it!). We might very well see the Demos roll back some recent (think: last 6 years) legislation. This happens all the time with taxes, as a ready example. Capital gains tax cuts may be repealed, only to be instituted again in a few years.

I can speak most effectively from a conservative point of view, but from either the conservative or liberal perspective, Federalism is the answer. I think that our system of government would function best - as it was intended - with a limited federal government by design, along with the concurrent ability of the citizens to decide how much local government they want. This can be achieved by re-establishing the principles of federalism as outlined by James Madison in Federalist 45. Let's allow states and communities to have as much government as they want, I say! If my town wants to provide universal health care for all residents (or JetSkis, or Cadillacs, or whatever), I can choose to live in that type of community or pick up and move one town over. I can't pick up and leave the United States... correction, I won't, although I could. It is this ability for citizens to determine how much government they want, be it a little or a lot, that evidences the moral superiority of Federalism.

After all, if most people can acknowledge the superiority of free markets, why shouldn't there be a free market for human capital?

How Dare They!

You're going to love - LOVE - this tidbit. I know I did.

According to Reuters (motto: "America: Just another land-mass"), this is the latest "swipe" by a U.S. community at illegal immigrants. Swipe? Really?

I'm glad to hear that the measures passed included denying services to illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants can get government-provided services, you ask? Yep, and it's about time that stopped. I don't like supporting criminals, and that goes for criminals that are behind bars or criminals who the government isn't currently prosecuting. In addition to supporting myself and my family, I'm also paying taxes to support people who can't support themselves (another post altogether), so forgive me if I balk at supporting people who have broken the law and have no business in this country. Also, call me a wild-eyed radical, but that in addition they put their flag above Old Glory or fly their flag alone bothers me.

If Mexico (or the Dominican Republic, or the Third Ring of Saturn or whatever) is so great, how about you take your flag-waving self back there?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

They're Involved in Politics

Are you?

Here's a letter - specific information carefully deleted - from the local Chamber of Commerce. I've got some observations, but here's the letter...

"A Message from the President:

I'd like to thank each of you who took time out of your day on Tuesday, or before to cast a ballot in the election. As I write, the exact balance of power is still uncertain.

There are a few things that are certain. Each of the officials who will represent us in Springfield and in Washington will have to tackle issues such as the health care crisis, energy policy, budget deficits, pension plans and taxes, among others.

The Chamber will continue to reach out and offer to work with all of our officials to find solutions to the challenges we face. We can't do it alone, we need your input and your assistance. I hope you stay informed, stay engaged and stay active. You can't win in a democracy by sitting on the sidelines and the Chamber plans to be an active participant on your behalf.

Sincerely, President and CEO Chamber of Commerce"

OK, so you get the title of the post, right? The last sentence of his letter says it all.

I'd like to focus on the second sentence, second paragraph, and pose the question: how would a government respectful of the balance intended between the spheres handle these issues? Clearly, more effectively than an imbalanced government like the one we have.

God bless James Madison! As I have said many times, well, how about we just go to Federalist 45, shall we? The whole thing is inspiring, but let's focus like a laser on this...

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected.

The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State. The operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger; those of the State governments, in times of peace and security. As the former periods will probably bear a small proportion to the latter, the State governments will here enjoy another advantage over the federal government. The more adequate, indeed, the federal powers may be rendered to the national defense, the less frequent will be those scenes of danger which might favor their ascendancy over the governments of the particular States. If the new Constitution be examined with accuracy and candor, it will be found that the change which it proposes consists much less in the addition of NEW POWERS to the Union, than in the invigoration of its ORIGINAL POWERS. "

Is there a more bulletproof principle of government; is there anything more true that this? Is there a weakness in the design at all, save from the viewpoint of one who places the State above the Person; the same one who values conformity over Liberty? We're in the mess we're in because of a deficiency in self-government and the resulting changes that must have transpired, simply had to, surely as gravity causes the apple to fall from the tree. Only a return to the principles of Federalism can effect the lasting changes necessary to the continued health of the Republic.

I'll re-phrase and second the sentiment: you can't win in a republic sitting on the sidelines.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Wisdom of AdT

Ever read Democracy in America?

I've had an on-again, off-again thing with De Tocqueville's political analysis of 19th century America. When I'm into a book, I put it aside. When I'm between good books, I pick it up.

He discusses at length the progress of democracy and Liberty, and inexorably relates the advances of such with the designs of a benevolent Creator; that indeed, all things serve His ends, of which the advance of Liberty is one.

(Let's pause now, to reflect on how much this must irritate both secularists and francophiles, and how this must especially be an irritant to secular francophiles. Are you reflecting? Good. Interesting, isn't it?)

So I'm getting philosophical here... the disappointment of yesterday's election is gone. In less than 24 hours, I've gone from disappointed to angry to reflective to optimistic to hopeful and finally resolved. Thank God Almighty, I say, for the peace of mind that comes with Faith and His guidance. As Alexis might say, if he could talk to us now: remember that all things serve the Lord, even those that do so unwittingly.

I've made an appointment with the head of the Township Republican party for Monday. I already told him I'm excited about volunteering and getting active in the party. You can bet your *ss that I'm going to be talking with everyone I can about small-R republican principles and the concept of balanced government - and citing Federalist #45 with regularity. In short, I'm taking myself off of the sideline and into the game. My fervent prayer is: may He use me as His instrument.

I'm getting involved - and am thankful for the wake up call!

Monday, November 06, 2006

My Last Ditch Pitch

I don't beg. I rarely plead. But this is important - please read this link, and share it with anyone you know who might be not voting or not sure of who they are going to vote for tomorrow. Heck, share it with everyone you know.

My buddy Mr. Light Bulb - ever the leading beacon - was where I heard this.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Kick the Chair

Justice is served.

Any thinking person will acknowledge that there is increasing sectarian violence in Iraq and the country may be on the verge of civil war. Yet, good news is there if you look for it.

Especially the part about... one of Saddam's lawyers. Just goes to show that despite our many cultural differences, intelligent Iraqis and Americans can unite in a common refrain: Ramsey Clark, get out.