Tuesday, October 31, 2006
There are such things as misunderstandings and innocent mistakes. As long as you're a reasonable person and a human being, this is pretty self-evident. Kerry's failure to apologize for even a potentially misunderstood statement reveals his contempt for the non-elite, and validates the decision the American people made two years ago. Give yourself a pat on the back if you voted for Bush.
But, knowing J-F, he'll flip-flop and apologize in a day or so. Still feeling like staying home to punish the GOP next week?
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
While Mr. Hamilton devotes his attention to the highlighted portions of the respective mission statements, I will endeavor to get to the root of our differences between the two approaches.
In reading Hamilton's piece it is quickly apparent what the crux of the issue is, on the surface, between libertarians and federalists. Likewise, if one reads the debate that ensued it becomes apparent what the crux of the issue is between the two at its roots. This, my friends, is what we need to get to. And thankfully for us, Mr. Hamilton anticipated that his revealing the differences apparent on the surface, would ultimately reveal those underlying causes responsible for those differences.
While we federalists tend to see government as a vehicle to preserve liberty, yet powerless of itself to effect good or evil of any kind, libertarians tend to see it, above all, as an institution possessing the tendency to be evil. This is the reason libertarians tend to want to limit government, first and foremost, thus limiting the evil it can do, while federalists tend to see balance as the better option, and precipitous to limiting it. Both perspectives wish to limit the perpetration of evils generally attributed to government.
However, Governmental power being what it is, - nothing more, nothing less - it is indeed a superior quality to balance the distribution and the separation of those powers exclusive to government. Those powers are: 1. The legislative (or the lawmaking, or decision making power); 2. The executive (or the power to execute the laws); and 3. The judicial (or the power to judge the intent, and/or the effectiveness of a law). These are the powers of government; the only powers of government. The phantom power of government to rape, pillage, steal, and kill citizens under its protection is simply an exercise of arbitrary power regardless of what level we're talking about, or what form of government happens to be the subject of our discussion. This is due to the human condition, having very little to do with government, except in its capacity as a vehicle to effect these evils.
We may also divide the levels and spheres of government into three broad categories: 1. The Federal (or National); 2. The State; and 3. The Local. While the separation principle is vital to our Contitutional Republic, so too is the balanced distribution of those powers of government among the respective levels and spheres of same.
While libertarians tend to see government as an enemy to liberty, Federalists tend to see it as as necessary to liberty as is oxygen to fire. And while fire can certainly be destructive, it can also be weilded and utilized for many good and essential purposes. While libertarians are quick to point to abuses of governmental power throughout history, making few, if any, distinctions between the different forms it takes in solidifying their points, Federalists are rather apt to consider the different theories of government, and to categorize and balance them. These theories of government can be reduced to three basic ideas and philosophies: 1. Aristocracy; 2. Monarchy; and 3. Democracy. These can be further broken down into sub-categories under their respective headings, but that's beyond the scope of this piece.
Interestingly enough, and opposed to conventional wisdom on the subject, the United States incorporates all of these forms into its uniquely "balanced" governmental structure, which can be termed a "Federal Representative Republic." Just as interestingly, too, these same governmental structures take shape in churches across the fruited plain, though the terms we use for them are a bit different. They are: Presbyterian, Episcopal, and Congregational, respectively. In broad terms, the central goverment takes on the monarchial aspect of government, the State governments take on the aristocratical feature, while the local governments take on the aspects of democracy. Once again, these are very broad categorizations, and in no way intended to be a minute detailed accounting. And it is in these very aspects of governmental form where the imbalance generally takes shape.
Over long periods of time, and in an effort to "limit" government, as opposed to, and at the expense of maintaining its balance, the people, who possess ultimate power in a Constitutional Republic, have shifted the powers of government in such a way as to make the federal take on more democratic characteristics, while the State and local authorities have tended to take on more of the remaining aspects of government as mere agents of the federal head. In effect, the United States has experienced a reversal in the "proper role" of the respective institutions, levels, and spheres of government. And this, being the root of the problem, is where we must make the necessary adjustments and corrections.
Indeed, it would be quite counterproductive of us to seek to continue to limit government at the expense of balance.
Regardless of whether we choose balance, or limits, however, either case involves the exercise of authority. In our peculiar instance the ultimate and final authority rests on the people themselves, and to paraphrase Mr. Jefferson: "I know of no better safeguard."
Sunday, October 22, 2006
My first thought on the matter was: I must debate this Osama character.
From the distinguished Senator's website:
"He believes firmly that health care should be a right for everyone, not a privilege for the few."
"Senator Obama is committed to providing every American with the opportunity to receive a quality education, from pre-kindergarten to college or vocational school to job retraining programs." (he's providing?)
"Senator Obama played a key role in the crafting of the immigration reform bill that the Senate passed in May 2006. The bill, which President Bush supports, would provide more funds and technology for border security and prevent employers from skirting our laws by hiring illegal immigrants. The bill also would provide immigrants who are now contributing and responsible members of society an opportunity to remain in the country and earn citizenship."
Of course, he's an intelligent man, for everyone will tell you so. Yet, I fear that a side effect of his smarts is that he's convinced himself of so much that isn't true.
I hold out hope that the Senator weighs his chances and decides against it. But if he decides to run, I challenge him, here and now, to a debate on the issues above or any of his choosing. I am sublimely confident that inexperience notwithstanding, I'd give him a debate he wouldn't soon forget.
THE MONARCHIST ADDS: As of this weekend (11/5/06), the man with nothing on him finally admits some remorse over his dealings with IL power broker and confidence man Tony Rezko. As Borat would say: Niiice.
Thanks to your pal and mine Mr. Light Bulb for posting this on his blog, here's a link to what the House of Representatives might be up to should it return to the Democrats.
Be sure to check on the "about" information at the bottom half of that link. I don't know about you, but someone who votes with the Anti-Christian Lawyers (affect a Southern drawl and pronounce: Liars) Union 100% of the time seems a little... out of the mainstream.
Share this information with as many people as you possibly can, even if you've had it up to here (gestures) like I have with the GOP. At least they're not going to actively destroy the country.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
For your entertainment pleasure, check out this political ad, which you're probably not going to see on a television near you anytime soon (courtesy of the Patriot Post). Although a little, well, silly (esp. Madame changing a tire) the underlying message is a good one.
Take it from me, I'm as disillusioned as anyone you could possibly meet about the GOP (the three of us created this blog because the GOP is driving us nuts, for Pete's sake), and yet, I recognize that until there is a viable conservative alternative, the GOP is the best option we've got.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Read the link, if you're not aware of the history, but here's the quote that pays:
"The Tet Offensive is frequently seen as an example of the value of propaganda, media influence and popular opinion in the pursuit of military objectives."
You can read about the MCA of 2006 right here.
Of course, the MDM has whipped itself into a lather over the inevitable human rights abuses. **yawn** Oh, excuse me! What's that you say? Oh, that? That's mentally deranged media, something I think I lifted from the Michael Savage show.
It's funny that the Left is troubled by this. Remember how smug they were when Hamdan v. Rumsfeld was decided? Which, for the record, was one of the more ridiculous rulings in recent memory? This was the Court's desired response.
But for the Appeasement National Committee, no terrorist is safe until we're forced to provide 48 hours notice that we plan to attack them.
Memo to the Demos: the Constitution is not a suicide pact. Let's all just moveon.org, shall we?
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Update: I have...edited my list of the damned. Behold...
Mike Matisow, The New York Yankees, PETA Members, Ted Turner, Phil Helmuth, Democrats
Circle I Limbo
Senator Byrd, Militant Vegans, Barbara Streisand, Al Franken
Circle II Whirling in a Dark & Stormy Wind
Cynthia McKinney, Harry Reid, John Murtha, Chuck Shumer
Circle III Mud, Rain, Cold, Hail & Snow
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, The San Jose Sharks
Circle IV Rolling Weights
Bill Clinton, Oakland Raider Fans
Circle V Stuck in Mud, Mangled
Nanci Pelosi, Osama bin Laden, Dennis Rader
Circle VI Buried for Eternity
John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Tim Parry
Circle VII Burning Sands
Hugo Chavez, LBJ, Hillary Rodham Clinton, NAMBLA Members
Circle IIX Immersed in Excrement
Uday Hussein, Qusay Hussein, Saddam Hussein, marc with a c, Kim Jung Il
Circle IX Frozen in Ice
Monday, October 09, 2006
A few weeks ago I met a socialist. I don't mean an American-style liberal; I'm talking about a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool True Believer. This guy could quote Marx, Hegel, and Marcuse with the same facility which my hosts here quote the Founding Fathers. I was very excited and tried to engage him in debate about human nature and the moral superiority of liberty, but he was mostly interested in looking down his nose at me. I was unable to find any common ground with him whatsoever. My idea of liberty was nothing but a form of slavery to him; his notions of a scientifically planned society and economy were silliness and wishful thinking to me. I did gain some insight into how Marxism attracts followers, however, particularly the type of followers it attracts.
My socialist friend is an elitist, which may strike some as odd in light of the fact that Marxism is an anti-elitist philosophy, at least on its face. He isn't a social elite (Kennedy, Rockefeller), nor is he an economic elite (Gates, Soros), but rather an intellectual elite. To accept and believe in the idea that society can be "scientifically" planned in such a way as to benefit everyone, and even change human nature, requires a monstrous ego and an absolute faith in the human intellect. Marxism thus appeals to those who think they're smarter than the rest of us. Here's another little ray of light into Marxist thinking: My friend said (I paraphrase here) "Of course I think the evolution from feudalism to capitalism was a good thing. I just don't think the revolution is over." This was in response to my observation that socialist/communist societies in the 20th century have largely been economic failures, especially compared with countries that have been closer to the capitalism end of the economic spectrum. In other words, these actual failures aren't proof of any sort of theoretical failure. They are only imperfect first attempts. Think about that for a minute. If consistent failure can be dismissed by saying, "Oh, they just didn't do it right," then the socialist can never be proven wrong. Thomas Edison made thousands of unsuccessful attempts to create a light bulb before he hit upon the right combination of elements. Rather than consider these failures, he instead said that he'd learned thousands of different ways in which it wouldn't work. Marxists think exactly the same way. For these True Believers, hope always lies in the future.
In closing, allow me to direct your attention to Hong Kong. After World War II, Great Britain assigned John Cowperthwaite to direct Hong Kong's miserable financial affairs. He was so committed to a policy of non-interference that he refused to collect economic statistics for fear that they would provide incentive to meddle in private affairs. The result of this non-interference was that within a few decades Hong Kong was richer and freer by far than her colonizer, Great Britain. Hong Kong's current leader, Donald Tsang, has vowed to continue this policy, except in those areas where "there are obvious imperfections in the operation of the market mechanism."
Raise your glass to Hong Kong, because it will never be the same. There are True Believers everywhere, and for them the revolution is defintely not over.
In keeping with the style and content of their article on the Foley "scandal," the writers seem to be under the impression that the readership there at the Federalist Patriot -- generally quite an intelligent audience -- somehow needs to be reminded of, not only the exploits of certain scoundrels who have in the past, or do currently, occupy seats in the legislative and executive branches of our national government, but also the way these particular scoundrels in question handle(d) their own misdeeds, and those of their fellow compatriots.
First of all, my problem with that style and angle of approach is that the readership at the Federalist Patriot, once more, being a pretty bright and engaged bunch, certainly doesn't need to be reminded of the exploits of these individuals, nor of the way in which they handled their particular scandal(s). Second, such an approach not only completely misses the mark, from my view of the target, but in so doing it also insults the intelligence of the readership.
Now, in the words of a friend, I hate to sound like a broken record here. But don't we all sound like broken records when it comes to our particular, sometimes peculiar, perspective on a given subject? So, let me rephrase....
At the risk of firing yet another round thru' the same hole -- a risk I'm perfectly willing to take in this case -- while Congressman Foley is solely responsible for his own actions/indiscretions, the great weight of the responsibility for his acting out on his inordinate behaviorisms while holding the entrusted position of U.S. Congressman, falls squarely on the shoulders of the electorate populating his district in the State of Florida. Now, I ain't gonna take the time, nor exert the effort to do a background check on Congressman Foley -- that, again, was originally up to the good people in Foley's Congressional district. But now, as we all know, a Congressional investigation is underway, the justice department is sure to get involved, and etc. -- so much for reducing the size and reach of government, eh? But I'd lay good money down that he's left plentya signs along the way. As they say: "if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, and so on....it's probably a duck."
If the people of this country truly wish to reduce the size and scope of the federal government, while simultaneously effecting gains in its efficiency, one thing they/we must do is accept the initial responsibility of learning all we can about the person(s) seeking to represent us in Congress. Either way, whether they simply neglected to do so, or they chose to ignore certain tell-tell signs, the responsibility for Foley's actions as their representative in Congress, not as an individual, is all on the shoulders of those who elected him. And as is invariably the case, their initial neglect has placed an undue burden on their fellow citizens at large, just as a parent's neglect to properly love and discipline a child has similar effects at length.
The people of Foley's Congressional district should take this latest scandal very personally indeed. Foley was their representative, duly elected by them, after all. And the way democrats have historically come to the aid of their own wounded ducks has very little to do with it, except this -- the people who elected those democrats to represent them, elected their character, among other things. They didn't check their vices at the State border when they went to Washington! Washington simply exposed those vices to the nation, and the nation to the dangers inherent in ignoring them at the lower levels.
That's the point.
THE MONARCHIST ADDS: I added some links, DW. I hope you don't mind, and I hope it directs the reader to the specifics on what you're talking about. As DW knows, I'm reading Team of Rivals right now, which probably isn't the editorial staff's favorite book (hint, hint).
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Just as the absence of a person's right is the inevitable consequence of the absence of his responsibility, the most effective way to usurp the liberty of a free people is to remove the people's motivation to govern themselves. What will this look like when it is accomplished? It is the entitlement mentality, and it is already hear. It is plainly seen in the history of those who fled Louisiana for Houston and in the sad behavior of many of the people who died in New Orleans.
By-and-large, the survivors of Katrina fled without the need to be alerted again because they were well-prepared to handle adversity; either to return and build anew or to start fresh elsewhere, confident in their own abilities to provide for themselves and their families or willing to reach out for help and committed to earning the real kindnesses of their fellow American freeman.
Others (and you'll have to pardon my French-Canadian for a moment) bitched and moaned until government rolled over to expose its teat yet again, and took advantage of your forced generosity to pay for lap dances and cheap booze in cities from Houston to Dallas to Kansas City to Minneapolis, Chicago, Pittsburgh, New York, and every where in between. They have made their marks in the telescoping crime rates and the 100+ increase in murders in cities like Houston. Has the socialism of NOLA prepared them to wreak havoc on their generous American neighbors?
Still others--and this is the saddest and truest legacy of a conquered people--stayed behind to tough it out because they just could not see how they could get by without their regular delivery of welfare...come Hell or high water.
When it comes time to remember Katrina again, remember who was least "prepared."
Saturday, October 07, 2006
But they're missing the boat when it comes to government, and here's why.
Take a gander at the Cato Institute web site (really: do it, it's very informative) and it won't take long to see what they are all about. Here's the mission:
The Cato Institute seeks to broaden the parameters of public policy debate to allow consideration of the traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, free markets and peace. Toward that goal, the Institute strives to achieve greater involvement of the intelligent, concerned lay public in questions of policy and the proper role of government." (emphasis mine)
On the surface, not so bad. But dig a little deeper and you'll see where Libertarians and Federalists differ (besides the fact that one of the lead articles on the Cato site is why Libertarians might consider breaking ties with the GOP and supporting... Democrats? Dear Lord!).
Now, there's no comparable Federalist think-tank, with perhaps the exception of the Federalist Society. That this is primarily a group of lawyers sort of makes it... less accessible than Cato. But here's the meat of their mission:
"The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies is a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order. It is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be." (emphasis mine)
And here we have the crux of the issue: between limited government and balanced government, balance in government is primary in both order and importance. Balanced government, upon a thoughtful reflection, is the evident cause of a limited government; balanced government will lead naturally to limited government. The equation does not work in the inverse.
I've quoted Federalist 45 here before (most recently, here) but we'd do well to remember the importance of balance in government. If domestic matters are the sole domain of the states (limited exceptions apply; although this itself merits a separate discussion, suffice it to say in brief that in matters of inalienable rights, the general government is charged with the protection of our God-given rights), it follows that the relationship or interplay between taxation & spending and free markets will lead to a competition between the states for human capital.
Some states, of course, might wrongly choose to have unlimited government, and assume a great influence in the domestic matters of the people; however, such a burden - carried by the people of that state as it must be - will in short time become cumbersome and effect in the citizenry a fondness of and return to self-government. Such a sentiment will naturally lead to a change in elected governors who will promote this sentiment of the people.
Not to mention naturally leading to a government best described as limited.
Monday, October 02, 2006
There are two very compelling arguments against a strict interpretation of what the Constitution prescribes as the proper domain of the federal government with respect to spending.
The first is that not all Constitutional law is derived from the Constitution, and that indeed one would find that the majority is derived from case law. Without getting into a long dissertation on the value of stare decisis, I think that most spending reform can be accomplished via duly enacted legislation. That's the "democratic process" that constructionists are always referring to when railing against liberal activism in the judiciary, and there's no reasonable basis to suppose that while the genius of our system has been used to lurch ever leftward towards socialism, that the reverse cannot be accomplished using the same mechanisms.
The second argument against a strict interpretation is a little bit harder to refute, but it can be done. It is that where there are powers enumerated, there are also powers implied. There was a great debate early in our founding between Jefferson and Hamilton regarding the constitutionality of a national bank. The Republican didn't want such an institution; the Federalist did. Unless you've been living under a rock your whole life, Hamilton obviously won that debate, and he won it by asserting this same argument. The only problem with this argument - despite its validity - is that it was subsequently used by elected representatives who knew not, or cared not, in what spirit the Constitution was ratified. In other words, sound reasoning was essentially hijacked by inferior minds, or by ill-intentioned characters.
It is evident when we carry ourselves back to the time when the debates on ratification happened that there are clear distinctions between the domains of the federal and the state. I would strongly recommend the Federalist Papers to anyone who is interested in the topic but hasn't read these indispensable essays. Federalist #45 applies in this case, which I quote here:
"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. The regulation of commerce, it is true, is a new power; but that seems to be an addition which few oppose, and from which no apprehensions are entertained. The powers relating to war and peace, armies and fleets, treaties and finance, with the other more considerable powers, are all vested in the existing Congress by the articles of Confederation. The proposed change does not enlarge these powers; it only substitutes a more effectual mode of administering them."
The American Federalist position (if such a term must be used) on government spending, then, is evident in the above guidance. A return to the plain meaning of our Constitution by all branches at the federal and local levels of government would yield the right and proper result.