Friday, July 2, 2010

Term Limit the Term Limit Talk

As reliably as talk of a balanced budget amendment arises every election cycle, so too does talk of term limits, especially for federal offices and most especially in the anti-establishment atmosphere of this cycle.

To those who insist on continuing to clamor for term limits, I’d like to ask a simple question: “If Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank were prohibited from running for reelection, do you really think that the next Representatives from those districts would be characteristically different than the corrupt, wicked people they would be replacing?” The defective crop of careerist politicians currently embedded in Congress like a tick is merely the symptom of the underlying corruption and venality of the electorate. Tell me again how many of those voters would vote any differently if presented with a new candidate whose slogan would be summed up as: “I’ll give you other people’s money.”

The term limit mantra is symptomatic of the ultimate Progressive fallacy that government is a technological device which, given enough “scientific” application of brilliant thinking, can be perfected to run like a fine Swiss watch. To take the term limit approach to its ridiculous full extension, why not also prohibit individuals from holding more that a certain number of elective offices and then, as long as we’re pretending that this pseudo science works, also refine that prohibition to a certain number at each level of government, etc.

This November’s election is an excellent chance to see if the electorate has awoken to their dismal civic performance over the last couple of generations. If there is a clear movement away from lifetime tenure for political careerists, replacing them with people who have actually done productive work in their life before election, maybe we can give the term limit talk its own term limit and retire the discussion on that subject for a few election cycles (or decades, preferably).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Offended by a Demand for Adherence to the Rule of Law? Nobody Cares.

Without belaboring the obvious that no one has a right to perpetual absence of offense, the fact of the matter is that anyone, be it naturalized/native-born/border-crasher, who takes offense at the general demand for adherence to the rule of law is exhibiting behavior inconsistent with that of a good American and can safely be ignored.  No one need or should care when such takes offense at things like the Arizona laws enforcing border integrity, and we don’t.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I’m Sticking with Theism, But I’ll Stick Up for the Catholic Church and Her Faithful

Just like Waylon Jenning’s, my momma tried—I attended Roman Catholic parochial school for all but kindergarten through high school.  In the end, my father (who, in order to marry my mother in the 1940’s Catholic Church, had to “convert”—yeah, right) probably won out, in that my high school education was delivered by the Jesuits and their thorough presentation of theology and reasoning marked my departure from my mother’s religion.  That being said, I still had to go through the early adolescent rite of passage from atheism and agnosticism to the adult conclusion of theism (although the Jesuits made that passage all the more painful as a byproduct of the stringent analytics with which they saddled me).  Which leads me to declare my stand with the Catholics in the face of those who deliver thinly-veiled attacks on belief in general and religion in particular, using child abuse by the clergy as the cover.

As such a decided theist, I still think it is worth sticking up for my mother’s religion, despite the inexcusable behavior of some priests (in the further spirit of full disclosure, I served, in my pre-pubescent years, as an altar boy, plus had many priests and nuns as teachers during that time and my post-pubescent high school years;  I had no experience of even a hint of any inappropriate behavior from any of these people, ever).  The horrors of human abuse perpetrated by those who spurn a belief in God as a primitive superstition and religion as “the opiate of the masses” killed more people in the 20th century than did all religious wars in all of history before that era.  On the obverse, believers and religious have contributed most of the lasting legacy of civilization and supportive societies, even through the darkness of the last century, not the least of which were the Roman Catholics.

Thus, for me, the choice is simple—associate myself with those who hold beliefs and live lives in support of civilization and society, despite the only too human failings of a few.  The only reason that abuses by religious people (as believers) are so strictly criticized is that there is a rightful expectation of righteous behavior.  Since non-believers have no such track record of producing broad-based righteous behavior among their ranks or in the institutions spawned from their world view, the expectations are appropriately very low and thus the transgressions to be expected and not nearly as noteworthy.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Amendments? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Amendments

It seems that, every time statists control the legislative agenda and (true to form) spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need, the faithful in the Stupid Party troop out their favorite hobby horse—the Constitutional amendment.  Whether it’s the Balanced Budget or Term Limits, the sheer impracticality of ever getting an amendment passed is exceeded only by what I believe to be the true failing of such efforts—dereliction of civic duty.  While the gentlemen and women of the Stupid Party are at least kind to this crotchety conservative when this opinion is expressed, but the end result is the preservation of the status quo.

First, let me dispense with the nonsense of a balanced budget amendment.  Not only is the most likely outcome of such an  amendment nothing more than a fine balance of excess spending and excess taxation, but it is entirely unnecessary if representatives with a healthy respect for the Constitution are elected.

Which brings me to term limits.  Whenever I hear someone bring up this political nostrum, my response is: “What, two years is too long?”  There is not an officeholder at any level of government whose term is not open to being limited by every election.  All that is necessary is for an informed electorate to scrutinize the crop of candidates being slated by the parties, participate in the candidate elimination process of the party of their choice, and then be sure to get out and vote for their preference.  Hiding behind an amendment the fact that they are not exercising their right to perform their civic duty (which would be as open to judicial activism as is the rest of the Constitution) is an act of dereliction (as I said above).

Citizens—get off the couch, get in the game, and execute your duty!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Libertarianism’s Libertine Underbelly – A Risk for America in the Current Populist Surge

The current populist surge, evidenced most dramatically in the Tea Party movement, is building to a crest and is likely to sweep many incumbents from office in this election cycle.  While many are characterizing the political philosophy of the movement as strongly Conservative, there is as strong a whiff of Libertarian tendency in the movement.  While there are many overlaps in the particulars of Conservative and Libertarian policy positions, there is a fundamental incompatibility between the two societal philosophies that is unlikely to be reconciled.

While I am not prone to be as acerbically dismissive of Libertarianism as Russell Kirk (see Libertarins: the Chirping Sectaries—, I think there is a philosophical weakness in the Libertarian creed that I would call the Libertine Underbelly, probably best illustrated by the consistent arguments for blanket drug legalization often touted by Libertarians.  A good analysis of one aspect of this issue can be found at  While this analysis shows the weakness of the decriminalization aspect of the Libertarian drug position, I think there is a stronger underlying weakness in the entire Libertarian premise that, essentially, all men are islands (apologies to John Donne).

I believe it is fair to portray as a core Conservative belief that the purpose of civil society is to provide the most benign environment for families and societal institutions to bring new generations of free individuals into such a society, nurturing them until they are self-sufficient and able to assume responsibility for constructively participating in that society, freely and independently.  A fundamental aspect of this process is the total dependence on society of the newly born person for the good will and resources of contributing members of that society.  This dependence lasts decades and involves many members of society and considerable amounts of their resources.  Thus, a thirty year old has an accumulated “debt” to society that I contend creates an obligation to spend the rest of their life returning, with interest.  The method of that repayment differs dramatically between Conservative and Radical philosophies, but Libertarianism would seem to object to the entire premise, stating rather “as long as one’s actions hurt no one else, individuals are free to do whatever they want, even if they hurt themselves.”   I contend that actions that hurt oneself in fact hurt others, analogous to having a wild party and  trashing a home given to you by your parents.  Doing such a pointlessly destructive act squanders the life energy and physical resources put into the asset by others, even though the immediate effect is to harm your personal quality of life.  Those resources squandered were applied to the asset by productive members of society with the implicit intent of their constructive use toward the preservation of civil society, not as fuel for self indulgence.

I can only hope that such citizen activism as the Tea Party and other civic participation will tend toward Self Government Conservative principles (“Rights are inseparably associated with duties.”), resisting the dual siren songs of Big Government Radicalism (“I’ll give you other people’s money.”) and No Government Libertarianism (“Every man is an island.”).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Time for an American Raj in Haiti?

A recent post to one or another of the blogs I monitor suggesting that we annex Haiti as we did Puerto Rico brings me to suggest a better approach (having lived in Puerto Rico as a boy, I can relate to the suggestion, but like mine better).

The British Raj in India, for all of its typical British colonial excesses, had the end result of leaving behind a governmental and industrial infrastructure capable of evolving into the India of today, which its current blossoming middle class would probably say is a good thing.

The roots of the British Raj in the British East India Company gave me the inspiration to suggest that we take a slightly different tack than did Britain and put a uniquely American stamp on an attempt to establish a sustainable Haitian nation.

Rather than dumping billions of welfare dollars into the rat hole, I suggest that we enlist the services of Steve Wynn to develop Haiti into the premier resort country of the Caribbean.  The U.S. Government can plow the same dollars into infrastructure as it would anyway, but private industry would be given an exclusive 50 year license to implement the construction and operation of that infrastructure, all for the prospect of the profits such an operation would yield.  The American West Indies Company would pay for the use of the physical plant that it specifies and builds, as well as fees for use of roads and ports.  At the same time, the Company would manage the construction and operation of private housing and commercial infrastructure, with a lease/purchase option offered to the citizens.  The training of the large complement of employees required for all aspects of this operation would be an expense of the Company (since they would be the immediate beneficiaries), and would include the teaching of English, both spoken and written, mathematics, and civics, with a strong emphasis on the American Constitution.  Additionally, all Haitian children would have access to these facilities, with the incentive to participate being the opportunity to qualify for employment by the Company or private business enterprises operating the commercial infrastructure, of which there would be a great need.

Physical security, law, and order would be subject to martial law, administered and enforced by the U.S. DoD, until such time as a generation of citizens has emerged from the training / education system, at which time a Constitutional Convention would be convened to establish self governance by the Haitian people.  The physical plant infrastructure would be granted to the new Haitian government by the U.S. and our role would cease.  The American West Indies Company would be dissolved and an open bidding process for the license to operate the resort business would be instituted at the end of the 50 year period.

There would be no U.N. role in this process and any charitable organizations wishing to contribute volunteer labor and materials would be welcome, given they submitted to management oversight by the Company.  No restraints on the practice or teaching of religion would be applied.

Anyone objecting to this intrusion upon the sovereignty of Haiti would have to point to a viable sovereign Haiti that exists for an intrusion to be applicable.  If the American taxpayer is going to be footing the bill for the billions that will be flowing into Haiti anyway, it only makes sense to establish a mechanism, based on proven results, to ensure it isn’t just the next wasted dumping of welfare upon a failed state.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Real Litmus Test

Movement Conservatives have trotted out a wonkish list of hurdles which they insist would-be Republican candidates clear before they are exempted from the label of Republican-In-Name-Only (RINO).  As a column at today’s American Thinker by Pedro Primavera, They Are All RINOs, observes, it’s probably a good idea to follow the advice of Stephen Green on his Big Government posting, The Political Landscape: The Slobs Versus the Snobs, where he says, “Kick the bastards out, all of them.  We certainly couldn’t do any worse.”

I would suggest that American Conservatives apply a litmus test to themselves and the citizens around them, set aside the Bastards of the Beltway.  Here are a few hurdles which any good American should be able to clear:

  • Do you recognize that the Constitution, as strictly constructed and amended, is 1) the supreme law of the land, or 2) a “living document”, subject to interpretation through the filter of contemporary cultural values?
  • Whether or not you believe in a Higher Power, do you think 1) people who do are intellectually fit and holding a right to their belief, or 2) superstitious fools whose beliefs are open to ridicule and suppression?
  • Do you think that 1) Budweiser, NASCAR, and Wal-Mart are respectable American products, or 2) that a person must exclusively quaff certain vintage wines, know who won last year’s Gran Prix, and shop at Nordstrom to be a respectable sophisticate?
  • Do you recognize 1) that the USA and American culture has done more good for more people in the history of the human race than all other countries and cultures combined, or 2) do you think (as does the President) that there is no such thing as American exceptionalism?
  • Do you think common sense and life experience are equal (if not superior) to intellect and higher education?

I’m sure you could add to this list or develop your own along similar lines, but I think you get the idea.  My urging to the reader is to take such dichotomies to heart and apply them to themselves and those around them critically, speaking out to those who don’t clear the hurdles not as Bad Americans, but as Bad-at-Being Americans.  Until we quit tolerating defects of the American character, we are sustaining it.