Thursday, August 30, 2007

Katrina's Lesson

I don't watch the news.

I make a point of getting my news from the internet and from conservative talk radio. The local television news is just depressing - it is a virtual obituary, only spiced up to get ratings. And the national "news" shows are thinly veiled vehicles for opinion-forming.

Inevitably, though, you'll come across an article or two that pulls you in no matter how hard you try to avoid it. As an added benefit, some are so blissfully off the mark that it makes my job rather easy.

Here's the real lesson to take away from Katrina...

Imbalanced government is ineffective. When individuals, families, neighborhoods and church communities (not to mention cities, townships or counties) abdicate their responsibilities, another sphere of government must step in. Given the tangible and intangible distance between the largest spheres of government and the responsibilities of the smallest spheres, it is natural that for the State or Feds to respond will take a long time, and then not likely well.

How else could the feds respond? There are 966 (or so) miles between Washington DC and NOLA; even if the feds had a "disaster warehouse" and packed supplies and provisions as soon as the storm hit the city, it would still take fifteen hours to truck the material that distance. For responsibilities of the smallest spheres of government, the most distant spheres are going to be horrible at doing the job that needs to get done.

Commentators remark on how "the government" failed the people of NOLA, and in one respect, I agree. Self-government was entirely needed and wholly missing from the scene when the storm hit the city. I also agree with the knucklehead who wrote the article linked above: the US truly does need change. While some might argue it needs less government, I'd only slightly disagree: we need less external government and more internal self-government.

It is my unwavering opinion that until we work on a proper balancing of the largest spheres of government, people will continue to look to external government to handle the responsibilities that are rightfully the domain of the smallest spheres of government.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

One Man, One Vote

Earlier, on this blog and others, I have expressed my determination to vote for the candidate I consider best regardless of party affiliation, strategic maneuvering or media bias. This led to a number of questions about pragmatism, expediency and consequences. There were also a few requests for elaboration on the logic (or madness) behind my decision, thus this posting.

Let me begin, gentle reader, by stating my position. I believe that it is my responsibility as an American citizen to define for myself what values, skills, education, opinions and experience are necessary to hold a public office and then find the best qualified candidate for that office and vote for him/her. I regard this as a somewhat private process and a solemn duty. I have not always thought so, but as time passes, I have learned more and so have come to this position.

I have been noticing a definite tendency in the media to influence the public towards one or two candidates almost as soon as a race is announced. I find this to be a highly objectionable tendency, and, on a personal level, extremely intrusive. I do not mind being informed of who is running for office. This is a service and the proper role of the media. I do mind having those candidates sorted into “most likely to have a shot” and “also ran” categories for me. This is a despicable manipulation of the election process and any journalist who engages in it should be sternly reprimanded. (And, one would hope, ashamed of themselves.)

By participating in this sort of manipulation they create the illusion that my vote is worthless if I don’t cast it in favor of their choice of “Most likely to have a shot”. For many voters this leads to an apathy which causes them not to participate at all. After all, if their vote is worthless unless cast for someone who doesn’t represent their views, why vote?

The truth is that we each have exactly one vote and a responsibility to do our homework and cast it according to our conscience. In years past, it may have been an onerous task to get good information about those lesser known candidates, but with the advent of the internet we, as Americans are without excuse.

I refuse to believe that Americans are too stupid or lazy to make the effort to research the best candidate. I believe we are better than that and a good deal smarter than the mainstream media often give us credit for.

I am not so foolish as to believe that this realization will come overnight to the bulk of Americans. I am not so foolish as to expect the major parties to go out of their way to promote such an idea. I am also not so full of myself as to believe that by simply voicing the idea in a small forum such as this, it may have an effect. But when I look at the big picture, I find myself thinking: if not me, who, and if not now, when? So I appeal to the American voter to do the research and find the candidate of YOUR choice, not the one with the most fundraising ability or the one most touted in the press or even the one who might fulfill some personal wish to see a minority or a woman in an office traditionally held by a man, but the best candidate for the job.

Vote your conscience America, I will.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

States' Rights

I won't provide more than just a brief opinion on this article, which is an interview Mitt Romney gave to the Associated Press.

In particular, I have to address the abortion issue. While I have blogged over at my personal page about his positions on abortion, I think some discussion is appropriate in this space. In fairness to my colleagues, let me again disclaim that my personal opinions about Romney are just that: personal. In no way do my thoughts about his candidacy reflect the opinions of my colleagues, nor should my opinions be construed as this blog endorsing his candidacy. Ready?

From the article:

States' rights also take precedence in the abortion debate for Romney, a conservative and a Mormon who's against abortion and would like to see the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling overturned. He said in an interview with The Associated Press that states should "fashion their own laws with regard to abortion. That's what I think the next step should be."

As I've said before, Romney is to the left of me on this issue, and for the record, I don't think abortion is an issue that can be permanently relegated to the states; to me, this is sort of a forfeit by federalism. Government at all levels is charged with protecting the inalienable rights of its citizens. There's just no way around that fact. Anyone who disagrees with that simply disagrees with the most important foundational tenet of our Republic, and that which truly makes us American.

There's a bit of pragmatic wisdom, though, in his approach, and it is notable that Romney called this "the next step." From a balanced government perspective, we can draw parallels to the abolition of slavery. Had that institution been universal among the states (at one time, early in our history, I think it had; and the New England states were the first to outlaw the practice), an excellent first step would have been allowing the states to "decide" if they would allow it. Practically speaking, this is what happened between the states with respect to slavery. Eventually, the sea change swept away that blot on our national history, and hundreds of thousands of Americans died to correct that wrongs that had been allowed for so long.

Every cause has milestones that can be seen clearly with the benefit of hindsight. I hope, while I yet think the long-term fight must be fought, that with an articulate and strong leader, we can get most Americans to agree that letting the states decide is a decent first step - understanding that first means many more steps would follow.

Tancredo vs. Geraldo, Tonight!

If you're a Tom Tancredo fan like I am, you'll want to know about his appearance on Fox's Hannity and Colmes program at 9:00pm this evening, or, between 9:00 and 10:00 pm Eastern time, more precisely.

The subject? Immigration, of course. Tancredo will be debating none other than our favorite hispanic and staunch advocate for mass migration and national suicide, Geraldo Rivera.

And btw, if you can't make the live showdown, be sure to check your local listings for the replay of the show later tonight.


Monday, August 20, 2007

And Welcome!

Everyone give a warm welcome to Mom, who's joining us as a "regular" contributor. Mom's already been a regular reader and contributor, often showing us boys up, quite frankly, and I'm so delighted that she's agreed to become a posting contributor.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

So Long, Farewell

Well, looky here. One down, 17 million more to go.

Why did the Tribune reporter say that the agents were screaming at the top of their lungs? Isn't that a little editorial and, well, just plain weird? Couldn't be a bias there, you don't think?

Later in the article, an activist asks if we want America to be the kind of country that does things like arresting people who come here illegally. The obvious answer is yes, we want the government to arrest people who break the law. As far as her boy goes - a U.S. citizen, as Alderman Munoz points out - perhaps if we adhered to the intended purpose of the 14th Amendment, the boy wouldn't have been a citizen and no one would be worrying about his fate at this moment - he'd be going back to Mexico with his mother.

There's a lesson to be learned here, and it's a fairly simple one: don't break the law.

P.S. Unrelated note: we may soon have a fourth joining us on the blog, which me and the boys sure are excited about.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Enumerated Powers Amendment

We haven't really discussed this topic here before, although it has been touched upon a few times, mostly in comments, I think. And even then, mostly I think it has been Mr. Morris who has put in the time to read and understand the proposal.

I got to thinking of it, and would like to open up a discussion on the subject. I take very seriously any suggestion at amendment. Our Constitution - and even those of the States - should be held in highest regard, and I think amendments to the same should be the subject of very sober deliberation. I'll link to the proposed amendment at the Patriot Post, and I'll post the body of the amendment as follows:

The Enumerated Powers Amendment

To President George Bush, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist:

We, the people of these United States, rightfully petition our President, House of Representatives and Senate in affirmation of the Constitution of the United States, and against those -- in any branch of government -- who would undermine its historical integrity as definitive law.

Judicial activists, those who endeavor to alter the meaning of the U.S. Constitution, willfully violate their oaths to uphold it by divining the "spirit of the Constitution" and amending it by judicial diktat in full disregard for the constitutional prescription for amendment in Article 5. Thus, We, the people of these United States, do call on our representatives to sponsor "The Enumerated Powers Amendment."

Whereas Article V states in its entirety;
"The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate."

Whereas Article VI Section 1 stipulates;
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Then the clause in Article 5 stating;
"Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate."

Shall be Amended as follows:
"provided that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate; and that no rights or obligations, requirements or restrictions, not expressly stated in this Constitution shall be implied or inferred, it being the intent of this article that any change or alteration to the express provisions of this Constitution shall be by amendment alone, and in accordance with the express provisions in this article alone. Any judicial Officers of the United States, bound by Oath or Affirmation to support this Constitution, who imply or infer rights or obligations, requirements or restrictions, not expressly stated in this Constitution, shall be remanded to the House of Representatives for removal from office by a majority vote."

Here's my way of thinking on this. I'm not sure I have given sufficient thought to the "that which is not seen" aspects of such an amendment. Every action has consequences, and many are largely unintended. This is going to take some time for me to think through, but perhaps there are glaring unintended consequences that jump out at you?

It appears that the pertinent parts are designed to strictly interpret the Constitution by the express powers delegated therein to the respective spheres of Government; and further, to formalize and simplify the process whereby the People would be able to remove activist judges.

I have long considered that expressed powers concurrently create implied powers, and that the task of considering every implied power is impossible. My preferred means of effecting change remains bottom-up, by creating a sense in the People of the value of Balanced Government, and the People, self-governing as they become, choosing for their governors people who will carry out this charge. A wise electorate, properly educated in the principles of Constitutionally-consistent government, would have no need for such an amendment; and, while a more difficult goal to attain, would seem to avoid opening up a potential Pandora's Box - creating a sense that Constitutional Amendments could be a commonplace solution.

P.S. You can see that this petition is a bit dated, by the leadership it is addressed to.

Friday, August 17, 2007

We Can't Miss You if You Don't Go Away

Could this story be nearing a conclusion? Is it possible that we could be done with this Rosa Parks wannabe?

So, the self-important law breaker Elvira Arellano has left the church she's been holed up in, and is on her way to D.C., according to this from the Chicago Tribune.

Now, some people have already commented that arresting her on the steps of the Capitol - or some other significant landmark - is just what she wants. Her mug all over the news, and footage for the left to play, and replay, and replay, you get the idea.

Candidly, I don't care. Arrest her in D.C., arrest her on the way back at a rest stop in Indiana, but for crying out loud, just arrest her. And see that she leaves. If only she were a small Cuban boy, we'd have had her a long time ago!

Open Query

I saw this the other day and can't let it go. Believe me, I've tried.

What the deuce is it about liberals - even those that rise to the highest levels in their respective professions - that makes them so clueless?

Courtesy of the Patriot Post, from earlier this week:

"I was in dissent quite a lot and I wasn't happy." - Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer on the last Supreme Court Term

Your Honor, I might respectfully note that your job is to opine on the relative constitutionality of a case that comes before you. This isn't Oprah's book club: agreement and happiness aren't part of the job description.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Pragmatic Ideologue

The problem with someone who is wholly pragmatic is that they have a hard time inspiring confidence in others. If your decision making is founded purely upon what is expedient, you're not likely to be a great leader (although you could make a wonderful middle-manager, I suppose; just maybe not in the eyes of your subordinates).

The problem with ideologues is that they're not likely to be very effective. In life, while it is best to strive for greatness, there are times when we can let our pursuit of the great become the enemy of the good. True leadership recognizes that sometimes you have to compromise and gain the good, even if the chorus of voices of the ideologues insists that the leader continue the pursuit of the great; and even then despite the likelihood of obvious failure.

I once heard Reagan described as such - a pragmatic ideologue. I think it was a good description, for of what I've read about him, and he had that ability to keep both sides relatively displeased.

Cal Thomas wrote a wonderful column you can read here, on the latest GOP debate. While I share this yearning for competent leadership, I also want ideology in my elected officials. Interesting that the idea of Balanced Government fits both requirements.

A party and candidates that ran on the principles of Balanced Government would be a group of ideologues, no question. The principle is firm: each sphere of government has a well-defined scope of responsibility (beginning with the smallest sphere, the self). Deviating from that is not possible; that would be called imbalanced government, which is what we have today.

The pragmatic aspect of the proposition is this: locally, people are going to sometimes make bad governmental decisions. There will be consequences to these decisions. People will probably go through growing pains, to be charitable. Could real human suffering occur? Yes. Does that mean that people shouldn't be free to make mistakes? Of course not.

However, should local government fail to deliver on its promises (which is inevitable, if the promises are big enough), the right conclusion should be evident: that the best government is that which is closest to the self. As easy as it is to see how the general government "failed" in Katrina (by the false standard that said that individuals, families and church communities aren't responsible for their spheres of duty), would the state of Louisiana have fared much better?

Balanced Government - as designed and advocated by our Founders - is the means to effect the continued success of the United States and ensure Liberty to Her people. It has the added advantage of being a rather simple concept. Now, if we could only get a party to run on that platform, we'd be getting somewhere.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Hypocrite, or Thoughtful Reconsideration?

Let's take a step back in time for a moment, as I illustrate a point.

Fourteen years ago I was just about to turn 21, I was working and going to school and living on my own. I pretty much had it all figured out. Not unrelated to the point of the story, I had stopped going to church at 18 when I started college and was still separated from the church.

I had a friend who I would argue with, just for fun. At the time, I had changed substantially from the kid who grew up idolizing Reagan to a, shall we say, fully indoctrinated product of my schooling. One particular disagreement I remember quite well was abortion. While I didn't support it, I argued, who was my friend to tell someone they couldn't make that decision?

Over time, my ideas changed, of course, and I once again found conservatism of the brand I grew up with. Now then: am I today a hypocrite for changing my mind? Am I a flip-flopper? Fourteen years ago, I said one thing; today, I say another. Suppose for a minute I decided to run for State Representative or County Board. Does that ambition suddenly make me a hypocrite or a flip-flopper? Would my opponent be justified in labeling me as such? Having seen the error of my ways, am I unfit as a candidate and worthy of scorn?

McCain came out today and had a change of heart about his position on illegal immigration. Should I rip him a new one, or be thankful that he gets it? Should I presume that I know what is in another person's mind and heart, and pronounce them guilty of political expediency? Or is it appropriate to give a candidate the benefit of the doubt and recognize that human beings use reason to refine their thinking and become better people?

I'm particularly fascinated in the charge of flip-flopping that is routinely leveled at Romney; most often it has to do with his stated position of the legality of abortion in his race against Kennedy in 1994.

So, here's the question: are you allowed to change your mind - rightly so - so long as you're not a public servant or a candidate for public office?

The High Cost of Arugula

While much of this wonderful column by Kathleen Parker is devoted to the inordinate attention paid to the potential "first spouses", the arugula comment alone is worth the price of admission.

I'm comforted that 1) I have no idea what it is (but I assume a vegetable) and 2) Democrats still say the stupidest things.