Tag Archives: Politics

Aluminum Deniers

A couple of posts ago, I said that limited government was absolutely dependent upon public virtue. Here’s why.

It all goes back to Burke’s “little platoons.” Raw individualism is not the opposite of the collective. It is what makes the collective possible. The collective likes it. The Hive can handle a pothead bee. The collective cultivates individualism because the collective knows how to take genuine rivals out of commission.

The atomistic individual has no ability to mount a principled and structured stand against the state. Whatever the romantic appeal of “going Galt” might be, to the extent it might work it would have to work in concert with others. And to the extent that it doesn’t work in concert with others, it will not work. But how can atoms work in concert with others? They must form molecules, and there must be a molecular bond. In order for atoms to connect with one another with that kind of bond, they must do it the way the Creator designed. You can’t put two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen together and get Congress to call it aluminum. And it doesn’t matter that Nancy Pelosi tells us that “aluminum deniers” are on the “wrong side of history.”

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What Mardi Gras Has for Breakfast

This is happening in lots of different areas, so I don’t want to pick on Rand Paul. But for the sake of convenience, let us start with him. He recently called for a “truce” within the Republican Party on “social issues,” but what such a truce would actually amount to is total capitulation on the part of social conservatives.

To agree to a truce on such issues is to acknowledge in some fundamental way that the issue is not what you have been claiming for it all these years. Principled incrementalism would never use the word truce. Face-saving surrenders do. If abortion is murder, you don’t go halvsies on it. If you had been fighting the Nazi genocide for years, and they suddenly offered you a truce, wherein they agreed to stop killing the Feingolds and so on through the end of the alphabet, and you agreed to such a deal, would this not reveal that you had no earthly clue what position you had actually been advocating?

Also, it should be said, to agree to a truce on these issues, in this political climate, argues an intelligence that might be competitive with a somewhat backward oyster. Are you kidding me? When have the secularists ever honored a truce like this? Pro-lifers would be like the Ukraine, abandoning nukes in exchanges for guaranteed borders. Didn’t happen? Oops. Well, that was years ago anyways.

Now that the new pomosexual order is moving into a full court press, and given the fact that a lot of Christians haven’t found their epistemological backbones yet (which would be admittedly a difficult task for them), what this means that is that numerous Christians whose conservatism was on auto-pilot are going to be looking for a face-saving way out. Back when they could raise money on the homosexual threat with underlined screechings, they would do so. But now that doing this might actually take some courage, and such money might actually be well-spent, they will move on to another cash cow. Look for them to start raising money to fight the threat of child brides under twelve in Dearborn. Child brides who are thirteen and over were covered by the truce.

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Skootch Around a Bit

After my post on Rand Paul and National Review, I got various responses, and so I want to write about two divergent but representative takes. In effect, one response is that things are better than I think, and the other response is that things are way worse than I think. Because I am Chestertonian in outlook, I am quite prepared to believe that both are correct in some fashion, but I still want to skootch around a bit in reply.

First, I know that a number of Christians are employed by the intelligence community, and I know that their intention in doing their work is to protect the nation. I know that they believe that there are reasonable safeguards in place — otherwise they wouldn’t be doing what they are doing. So none of what I have written is intended as a slam on people in that position.

At the same time, the safeguards are clearly not adequate, and this is true whatever view you take of Snowden. If Snowden is right, then the federal government has access to all kinds of information about me and mine that they ought not to have. And if Snowden is a treasonous little sneak, he — a low-level functionary — somehow managed to get his mitts on truckloads of sensitive information. Who let him do that?

My argument on this is simple. It is not that the metadata is currently being abused, right this minute. My question is what should we expect if a scandal in this area did arise? Given Snowden, this is entirely possible, right? Why would we think that Obama’s spinners and the national media would play it any differently than they have played the other outrageous things that have been happening? Obama got elected to the Senate in the first place because his opponent’s sealed divorce records were made public. Obama plays Chicago ball, and no, I am not referring to the Cubs.

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Ukraine Your Neck, But Still Can’t See

“And Hiram king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress timber and gold, as much as he desired, King Solomon gave to Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. But when Hiram came from Tyre to see the cities that Solomon had given him, they did not please him. Therefore he said, “What kind of cities are these that you have given me, my brother?” So they are called the land of Cabul to this day” (1 Kings 9:11-13).

Now what Solomon did here was present twenty cities to Hiram as a gift. This kind of thing is a real temptation to the lords of the earth, who tend to view the map as a large-scale game, with the people who live there being just so many interchangeable units. Presumably there was some kind of logic to it — the population in those cities being mixed, or having some kind of natural affinity for Hiram’s rule — although he did not seem to return the affinity. Still, the whole thing comes off like Obama striking up a real friendship with the president of Mexico, and giving him Laredo as a present.

The situation in the Ukraine is impossibly complicated, and the real hazard is presented by those who want things to just be simple again. But the fact that the smart people can just go and do “straightforward” things does not mean that what they do will turn out well. That said, let me make a few quick observations about the whole mess. They may seem somewhat scattered, but maybe I will come back and tighten the whole thing up at some later date.

1. First, it seems obvious to me that Putin has grabbed Crimea, it is now part of Russia, and so we are now in the position of blowing them air kisses as they depart. Moreover, he has managed to do it in such a way as to indicate his contempt for the intelligence and resolve of the Obama administration. As one commentator put it, Putin’s rig is now spinning donuts on the White House lawn.

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Rand Paul, National Review, and a View From the Cheap Seats

I first subscribed to National Review when I was in high school, which would be somewhere northwards of 42 years ago. I  have been a faithful subscriber since that time, and — disagreements and all — it remains my favorite magazine. They are still genuinely conservative, although it should be said at the outset that they are not conserving quite as much as they used to.

Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky, is a skosh more libertarian than I would like, but I like what he has been doing very much. About time somebody did, and all that. There are places where the libertarian streak will lead you astray (e.g. marriage), but there are other places where it supplies a much needed corrective to our putative lords and masters (e.g. metadata).

In their latest issue, in an unsigned editorial, NR took Rand Paul to task for his recent lawsuit claiming that the NSA’s collection of metadata was a violation of the Fourth Amendment. At the recent CPAC convention, Rand Paul said that what you do on your cell phone is “none of their damn business,” which was red meat for the assembled conservatives. But NR dismissed this line as showboating, a “publicity stunt” — frivolous and unnecessary.

Their argument was that the Fourth Amendment protects four categories of intimate personal property — “one’s person, home, papers, and effects.” The metadata has to be considered the property of the service providers, and not part of the citizen’s personal effects. Ergo, showboating.

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Weapon of Mass Confusion

So yesterday, or whatever it was in Indonesia, our Secretary of State beclowned his office by saying that climate change could well be considered as a weapon of mass destruction. This means any number of things, but the central thing it means is that somebody doesn’t want to have the 2014 elections hinge on the triumphs of Obamacare.

So it is apparently time for us to review what we do not know about global warming. There is quite a bit that we don’t know so you might want to gulp down an extra bit of oxygen before starting the next sentence. First, we don’t know that climate change is even happening; in the next instance, we don’t know whether it would be a bad thing or a good thing if it were, for it is quite possible that we will like it when Iceland is famous for her white wines; in the third place, we don’t know, if it is happening and if it is bad, that we, as in we humans, are in any way responsible for it, another possible culprit being the flaming hot ball of fire in the sky; and fourth, we don’t know that anything can be done about it.

However, one thing we can be pretty sure of is that if it is happening, and if it is bad, and if we are causing it, and if we can reverse it, then the last people on earth we should entrust with the responsibility of reversing it would be those statist functionaries who are clamoring for more power in the name of climate change. I would rather die in a rising ocean of inconvenient truths than to pass out the rest of my days smelting our old toothpaste tubes before an important bureaucrat in that big office building across the continent says that it is safe to throw them away.

Think about it for a minute. The Peter Principle says that in an organization, people get promoted up to their level of incompetence, at which point the promotions stop, and you are stuck with that person in that slot for the foreseeable future. But when it comes to government disasters, they do this principle one better. Every fiasco caused by their thundering incompetence is used as compelling evidence that they are long overdue for a promotion and a raise.

Runaway government is a metastasizing cancer that has donned a doctor’s white coat and is offering to help with the treatments. My suggestion would be to say no.

A moment ago I urged you to think about it for a minute, but I sensed that your attention may have started to waver. Don’t drift off now. This the crux of the whole risible affair. The people who brought you trillion dollar deficits, the government education system, the spiraling chaos of Middle East politics, the roll-out of Obamacare, departments of motor vehicles everywhere, and a Federal Reserve honeycombed with crony capitalists, are now asking, on the basis of their record, a record that looks like the trail left by an F-5 tornado, to be put in charge of the weather.

And so I am afraid that if you take longer than a couple seconds to think about whether to be against this galloping folly, then you are a worthy recipient of everything you are about to get.

Her Other Hand Comes Too

In order to understand the politics of our time, we have to understand the paradox of inequality.

The way the debate is usually framed, we are forced to choose between liberty and equality. Now when I am charged to pick one of these, I am happy to do so, provided it is the right kind of either one. You can start at either end. Pick up the right kind of liberty, or the right kind of equality, and the other comes with it. When you find the love of your life, and take her by the hand, and she comes with you, you will find out soon enough that her other hand came too.

Let us treat with . . . what’s the word I am looking for? Got it. Let us treat with contumely the wrong kind of equality and the wrong kind of liberty. Either that, or opprobrium. The wrong kind of equality is envious and filled with bile. The wrong kind of liberty is to virtuous civic liberty what masturbation is to marriage. It is narcissistic political solipsism.

A person filled with the envious kind of egalitarianism rails against a stupid abstraction like “income disparity,” without ever taking time to care whether or not the people involved are better off or worse off as a result of whatever his proposed “reform” is. If one man earned a hundred dollars and another earned a million, we could address the so-called problem of income disparity by robbing both of them. If we took 50 bucks from the poor man and 500K from the rich man, we are clearly making progress, but only if our imaginary problem is an actual one. Conversely, we could make this problem created by envy far worse by making both men better off. Say we triple the poor man’s income and quadruple the rich man’s income. Everybody is happy, except for the economic reformer, who is over in the corner, seething. He is seething because the rich get richer, and the poor get richer a bit more slowly. Which is unacceptable.

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Let’s Watch Them for a Bit

A policeman doesn’t need a warrant, and shouldn’t need a warrant, to look at your house. But there is more to it.

I have noted before that many contemporary Americans are demanding privacy when what they really want is anonymity. But these are not the same thing at all. If I am walking down a city street with thousands of others, I have anonymity. I don’t have privacy. Anybody who wants to can look at me — the next guy who passes by, the cop on the corner, or the surveillance camera outside the jewelry store. And the cop has every right to follow me if he saw that I have that look on my face.

But what the digital revolution has done is create a need for some radical extensions and applications of our definitions of “inside” and “outside,” not to mention “public” and “private.” Just as I don’t mind a cop seeing the outside of my house, I don’t mind him seeing the outside of my phone. But when is he “inside”? When does he need a warrant? When does he need to show a judge probable cause? If the answer is “we don’t really do that anymore,” the follow-up retort should be “because we are now slaves.”

But in order to have due process in this, we have to define the border between public and private. This is not a trifle — our future liberty depends upon it. How we define those lines, and how we enforce them, must not be left up to secret and unaccountable courts. This is because any state that can catch terrorists all in secret can create terrorists all in secret.

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