The Rectification of Names, Part II

untitledConfucius say that we need to talk about the F-word, and why many, many people want it.

First things first: You need to ignore what academic historians and political scientists say.  They will tell you that Fascism is a movement of the right wing.  This is false — Fascists are collectivists to the bone.

There’s a simple reason academics can’t see this.  Remember, in the ivory tower, radicalism is a virtue.  Professional academics consider themselves not just of the left, but on the hardcore fringes of the left.  Karl Marx is their moon and stars, and according to Marx, it’s impossible for a left-wing movement to be nationalist.  For Marx, the international proletariat are forever fighting against international finance capital and their unwitting stooges, the nationalist bourgeoisie.  “National socialism” is a thus contradiction in terms; anything “nationalist” is, by definition, right-wing.

But “national socialism” is not only not contradictory, it’s a concise summary of Fascism’s goal.  Fascists also embrace Marx’s theory of class conflict, with one key twist:  Marx thought that the worldwide proletarian Revolution was inevitable.  Fascists think it’s preventable — by turning the nationalist bourgeoisie from the unwitting stooges of international finance capital to the willing allies of the national proletariat.  International socialism, a.k.a. Marxism, is a worldwide proletarian revolution; National socialism is a nationalist bourgeois one.

Everybody with me?  I hate to keep repeating this, but you simply must put aside your mental pictures of Hitler raving at this point.  Race has nothing to do with Fascism.  In the Nazi version of it, yes, “World Jewry” was identical to both “international finance capital” and “international proletarian socialism.”  How?  Because Hitler was crazy.  Never forget that.  But for Mussolini, and Tojo, and Chiang Kai-Shek, Jews had nothing to do with anything.

For those guys, the nation was the thing.  “The nation” is not identical to “the race.”  There was no Italian version of the Ahnenerbe, digging around Tibet for ancestral Romans.  There was no Japanese RuSHA, making sure only pure Yamato blood joined the armed forces (indeed, the most ardent Japanese militarists were religious believers in Pan-Asianism).  A nation is considerably more than blood and soil, and it’s threatened on both sides — by globalization, a.k.a. international finance capitalism, and by communism, a.k.a. international proletarian socialist revolution.

Thus, the goal was to fuse the nation ever more tightly together:

  • The national proletariat must be protected from competition / revolution from below

while

  • The national bourgeoisie must be protected from competition / amalgamation from above.

To protect the proletariat, Fascists aimed to level the playing field — national workers will be favored, immigration strictly curtailed, and imports tightly controlled.  Education, health care, etc. will be provided by the state, in order to keep the national proletariat healthy, happy, and contented (remember, Marxism predicts that wages under industrial capitalism will soon drop to, and then below, minimum subsistence levels, at which point the Revolution begins).

To protect the bourgeoisie, Fascists also aimed to level the playing field, by tightly controlling exports, curtailing immigration, and favoring medium-to-large national business enterprises.  Jobs won’t be offshored, and if this means that mom’n’pop operations will necessarily fall victim to economies of scale, they’ll at least remain inside the country — an independent mechanic is now a well-paid employee of IG Farben, with access to all the healthcare, retirement, and other benefits provided to the national proletariat by the state.

Meanwhile, all classes are brought together by military-type institutions.  The army, of course, was massively expanded in all fascist countries, but they spent huge amounts of money and time setting up national institutions in all areas of life.  These were explicitly classless — advancement in the Hitler Youth, the Imperial Rule Assistance Association, and the Party itself were officially, ostentatiously meritocratic.  Autarky, meanwhile, eliminates the need to look elsewhere for anything material.  Remember: Like Marx, the Fascists thought class conflict was inevitable.  They just wanted the conflict to happen within the state, where it could be ameliorated — and eventually all but eliminated — by state institutions.

Everybody with me?  Now, flash forward to America, 2014.

Section break!

Section break!

Our Progressives, obviously, are old-school Marxists.  Lenin et al thought capitalism itself would take care of sparking the Revolution, as evil fatcats would reduce the wages of the industrial proletariat to, then below, subsistence level.  That didn’t happen, but it did happen with the agricultural proletariat.  This is one of the reasons even the few educated Leftists don’t talk in classical Marxist terms anymore — Marxism became Marxism-Leninism, and every neckbeard with a PhD spent the next 80 years trying to explain how backwards peasant revolutions meant Marx was actually double-secret right all along.  But as always with Our Betters, you have to look at what they do, not what they say.  Illegal immigration and Cloward-Piven are merely attempts to import a new proletariat, since the old one embraced capitalism and turned bourgeois.  Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, meanwhile, simply is old-school commie agitation (Alinksy was born in 1909 and was a living caricature of an old-school Lenin-lovin’, labor-organizin’ leftie, right down to the Russian-immigrant Jewish parents and the ghetto agitation).  You could take any Leninist pamphlet from the Twenties, do a ctrl-H on “Revolution” and “proletariat,” and boom — instant Social Justice Warrior.  Try it sometime — don’t forget to properly de-gender xer pronouns, comrade.

Here’s the twist, though: These days, straight-up, old-school class warfare rhetoric is found almost exclusively on the Right. 

Our modern Left shares the same ideals, goals, and thought processes with the Old Left.  The only difference is, they’ve skipped that whole “Revolution” thing and have gone straight to being the Vanguard of the Proletariat.  They still boss you around for your own good from their McMansions in lily-white gated communities; they just never bothered with all those gun battles in the streets (HBO was having a Girls marathon).  Hillary Clinton is every single Old Left diatribe about parasitic bourgeois intellectuals in a pantsuit, and not only do Our Betters not care, they’re dying to loft her to new heights.

The Right, though….

“Fatcat CEOs.”  “Banksters.”  “Oligarchs.”  “The Government Party.”  You ain’t gonna be seeing those on Daily Kos anytime soon.  Actual conservatives hate the Koch Brothers far more than liberals do.  At any time before about 1994, you could count on NPR and The Nation for a good diatribe about how uncontrolled immigration was screwing over the American worker.  These days, you have to go to Vox Day or Ace of Spades.  It’s the Right that complains about Congressional kabuki, giving Wall Street everything it wants via engineered losses to the Democrats.  Prudential wrote ObamaCare, and Eric Holder just took a fat job at JP Morgan, and the mainstream Left said not a word.  Million-hit blogs on the Right were furious.

See where this is going?  The Vanguard of the Proletariat is perfectly happy in their white, upper-middle-class enclaves.  If you look at what they do, not what they say, they’re the nationalist bourgeoisie, the unwitting dupes of international finance capital.  The Right sees this — they’re the only ones that do — just as they’re the only ones who see the revolutionary potential of the unassimilated, unassimilable proletariat.  Ghetto blacks and imported Aztecs are absolutely screwed in a postindustrial knowledge economy, and the EBT cards won’t work forever.

What, then, is to be done?  I refer y’all once again to this.  I’d be willing to be the average reader of any of the top conservative blogs would vote for this in a heartbeat:

Strip wealthy oligarchs of their power over policy and the composition of the nation’s citizens. Tariffs, big tax increases on the 0.1%, improved government oversight of their backroom dealings, very high minimum wages, and laws designed to limit the ability of the super wealthy to lobby for cheap labor

And that, my friends, is Fascism.  It’s the amelioration of class conflict within state institutions.  Socialism below, nationalism above, autarky throughout. It’s nationalist collectivism, and it’s coming exclusively from the modern cultural Right.

Huh.  So maybe those egghead academics are correct after all….

More on the Left and Autism

As y’all know, I’m a big fan of Anonymous Conservative’s version of r/K selection theory.  Briefly, the amount of free resources in an ecosystem determines the psychology of organisms inside it.  Rabbits — the “r” part — are adapted to unlimited resource availability.  Wolves – the K’s — are designed for highly competitive environments where resources are scarce.

Anonymous Conservative develops this into a theory of liberal behavior based on the amygdala, which seems to work extremely well (I lack the biology background to evaluate the science, but his book lays it all out in detail if you’re interested).  I wonder if this can’t be expanded to cover autism as well.

Yesterday’s post was just a placeholder, so I didn’t bother to spell out my terms.  When I hypothesize that liberals are autistic, I’m obviously not talking about a DSM-V compliant condition than any randomly chosen group of psychiatrists would agree upon.  Autism is a spectrum disorder — there are greater and lesser degrees of impairment — and given the vast differences in people (differential development rates, etc.), you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who conclusively did or didn’t have “autism.”   There’s also the issue of “Heisenberg indeterminacy” (for the pretentious) or “test bias” or what have you — the tests themselves are so odd, and the experience of getting poked and prodded by white lab coats so disorienting, that the testing process itself might cause false positives.

That said, consider this list.  Sound familiar?

Lack of interest in sharing enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people.  Liberals are famously averse to competitionThey’re completely binary about awards — either all the children must receive prizes, or none.  Their favorite sport is soccer, where it’s nearly impossible to tell who’s good, and games frequently end in 0-0 ties.  Their other favorite athletic activity is distance running, where just finishing the race is the prize.  Their interests, of course, must be vigorously policed, lest the wrong kind of fans come around, having the wrong kind of fun.  Just cruise down to the Edits if you don’t feel like reading the whole thing (though you should; Correia has one of the all-time great vituperative styles).

Lack of empathy. People with autism may have difficulty understanding another person’s feelings, such as pain or sorrow.  Self-explanatory.  If you don’t understand the other person’s perspective, you can’t share his feelings.  Liberals demand “trigger warnings” on everything from blog posts to breakfast cereal, but don’t hesitate to sling the vilest, most hateful insults at people they disagree with.  Ask a liberal about Clarence Thomas or Condi Rice, for instance; you’ll get stuff that would make Bull Connor blush.

Difficulty understanding their listener’s perspective. For example, a person with autism may not understand that someone is using humor. They may interpret the communication word for word and fail to catch the implied meaning.  Liberal “communication,” even between liberals, is highly ritualized.  For instance, I’ve noticed the heretofore-baffling tendency of folks in my college town to launch into political diatribes as conversation-starters.  It’s not like they’re trying to convert me; they have no way of knowing I’m an apostate.  The point seems to be a Two Minutes’ Hate, a bonding ritual.  At least, I thought it was a bonding ritual…. but now I think it isn’t.  It’s much more likely that they simply don’t communicate very well.  Normal folks can use standard-issue small talk — hows about that weather? — as a springboard for further communication, because they can read their interlocutor and tailor the conversation accordingly.  To the autistic, a bit of small talk about the weather is… a conversation about weather.  Ranting about politics gives them the semblance of an emotional connection — we both hate George W. Bush! — without actually having to interpret the other person’s behavior.

Stereotyped and repetitive use of language. People with autism often repeat over and over a phrase they have heard previously (echolalia).  We’ve all seen this one over at Morgan’s, but it’s also very common among the Old Left, and in academia.  Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language” is great on this.

modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy. It is easier — even quicker, once you have the habit — to say In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think. If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don’t have to hunt about for the words; you also don’t have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious. When you are composing in a hurry — when you are dictating to a stenographer, for instance, or making a public speech — it is natural to fall into a pretentious, Latinized style. Tags like a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind or a conclusion to which all of us would readily assent will save many a sentence from coming down with a bump. By using stale metaphors, similes, and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself.

Orwell thinks this is deliberate — “elimination of unreliable elements” is clean and sanitized; by using the phrase, you don’t have to think of people being “imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps,” which is what actually happens.  It might have been deliberate back then — and still is, for Alinsky and the like — but I don’t think it is for the majority of liberals now.  For them, it’s like a computer program — they can’t see the other guy’s perspective, so they really don’t know what this whole “religious freedom” thing could possibly mean.  But they must respond, so they have a canned, focus-grouped phrase ready to parrot back.  Cf. Vox Day’s “Gamma Identifier” — they have to use

“You seem to be saying” or its variants “It appears you are saying” or “So you’re claiming/telling me”

because those are the program’s triggers. They can’t grok what you’re actually saying, so they don’t know which canned response to use.  They’ve got to shoehorn your words into one of their memorized templates (and you can almost hear them beating their heads against their desks in frustration when you don’t say your lines on cue).

Preoccupation with certain topics. For example, older children and adults may be fascinated by video games, trading cards, or license plates.  Goes without saying, but this does explain liberals’ well-known aversion to followup questions.  They’re obsessed to the point of madness with the cause du jour, but once the Hivemind determines the new cause, the old cause will never be mentioned again.  Intimately connected to

A need for sameness and routines. For example, a child with autism may always need to eat bread before salad and insist on driving the same route every day to school.  As we all know, “diversity” really means “superficially different skin colors and sexual orientations, but exactly the same behaviors.”  Connected to

Stereotyped behaviors. These may include body rocking and hand flapping.  Or ironic facial hair, PBR, and the Daily Show.

Now, consider all this from the r/K perspective.  For the rabbit, there is zero cost, and great potential benefit, to a “false positive” threat assessment.  There’s no downside to running away from a false threat — since resources are unlimited — but failing to run from a real threat is death (rabbits, like most r-selectors, are a prey species).  Why, then, should the human rabbit bother learning how to pick up social cues, or play nicely with others?  Either “others” are a threat or they’re not, and either way the response is the same — run!  The rabbit’s one social responsibility (if you can call it that) is to shriek, alerting the rest of the warren to a perceived possible threat.

Wolves, needless to say, work differently.  They’re geared toward low-resource, high-risk environments.  A wolf who runs from a false positive threat assessment doesn’t eat that day, so reading others’ behavior is crucial.  Wolves can’t stray too far from reality, and they can’t abandon their pack (there is no such thing as a “lone wolf” in nature).

Psychologically, this is very similar to Morgan’s “architects vs. medicators” distinction.  Anonymous Conservative’s r/K theory, on the other hand, makes these behaviors biological, not mental.  The more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to see it in biomechanical terms.  Why the huge spike in autism diagnoses these last 50 years?  Part of it is better awareness, the proliferation of psychiatry, etc…. but is it not at least possible that the seemingly unlimited resources available to Americans since the end of World War II has rewired this variant of the species in an r-direction?  The Old Left — that is, the Marx-n-Mao brigades of the 1930s and 40s — had wacky ideas, but they retained at least a basic sense of reality.  Walter Duranty knew he was lying.  Do Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama know they’re lying?  Do their supporters?

I honestly don’t know.  It seems incredible that Hillary Clinton is still the presumptive Democratic nominee for president in 2016 — she should be in JAIL.  It’s impossible that the vast majority of Americans — including lots of folks who can’t wait to pull the lever for her — don’t know about this.  That’s messed up.  Or is it?  R-selectors don’t care, because hey, resources are plentiful and always will be.  Hillary’s just getting hers; we’d do the same, think the rabbits, if we were in her position.  Stuffing themselves to bursting is what all prey species do in nature, every chance they get.

If r-selection among Americans really has produced a higher number of autistics, lots of otherwise baffling liberal behaviors start to make sense.

Stand Up for Rights, but Also for Decency

Ok, I may piss some people off here, but here goes.

First let me say that it is, and should be, illegal to kill people for exercising free speech. Or to throw them in jail. Or to fine them. That’s pretty much what freedom of speech is. Any time you are tempted to say I’m saying something different than this, please refer back to this and revisit your assessment.  Remember that one of the marks of intelligence is the ability to hold two conflicting concepts in your mind without your head exploding.

Catholic League’s Bill Donohue wrote a piece titled “Muslims are right to be angry” and in it suggested that Charlie Hebro editor Stephane Charbonnier “didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death”.

First (and here’s where people will get pissed at me) … he’s right. Wherever else I may disagree with Donohue, he’s right on this. I saw some of the cartoons. Decent people shouldn’t have published several of those. They were at least as bad “P*ss Christ”.  As much as I agree that Islam is the common denominator in the overwhelming majority of world terrorism and there is probably a cause-effect relationship here – there are nonetheless at least tens of millions of decent people on the planet who profess to be Muslims whether the Islamist hardliners agree or not.

Second, (Donohue is wrong on this) I have no doubt that Stephane Charbonnier, at the moment of his death, understood exactly the role he played in his own tragic death.

Did it take balls to publish the cartoons? Absolutely. Taking balls to do it doesn’t mean it’s cool, though.  Should he have been killed for it? Absolutely not.

Did he do anything wrong?

Well if by wrong you mean “against the law”, obviously — no. But what Donohue was saying is actually something we need to talk about more in this country in the wider context of what are our cultural standards (which are not the same as legal standards). In other words, was there a violation of standards of decency for which we can legitimately criticize them? Sure there are. Though maybe we should wait until the bodies are cold, at least.

There are things that are wrong that are not against the law.  That is a necessary fact in a free society.  That’s because we don’t all agree on everything that is right or wrong.  But we do form a general consensus on some things, and we make laws accordingly, presumably subject to Constitutional constraints.

Charlie Hebro has a proud reputation for pretty much eschewing any decency at all toward any group. To the extent that they don’t appear to avoid offending any one group, in a backhanded way, is certainly more commendable than playing favorites. But I wouldn’t hold the magazine up as any example of how I want people to view Western Civilization. They certainly don’t represent me or my views, and if I don’t lodge my criticism (also my free speech right, and perhaps duty in cases like this), I’m saying “I’m cool with it”. I’m not.  I find that general brand of satire low and disgusting.

Should he have avoided publishing the more offensive cartoons in order to avoid being killed?  No.  He should have avoided it because it was in extremely poor taste.

As I recall, the point of publishing cartoons depicting Allah was in response to the Sharia prohibition against representing Allah in any graphic form. Defiance of this demand would have been served by any graphic depicting Allah from sitting there being quiet to wielding a sword or even depicting him engaging in something consistent with Islam but inconsistent with well accepted standards of Western civilization.

Several of the cartoons went well beyond any of this.

Now … had the magazine stuck to the less outrageous cartoons, would the editors and cartoonists be alive today? Maybe, maybe not. But regardless, if you really wanted to underscore how ridiculous that particular Islamic law/belief is – it would have done a much better job.

So a TV host who I like and respect, but who I think ultimately got Donohue wrong — asked Donohue, “where do you draw the line”?

The answer depends on the context. Since everyone’s lines are somewhat different, we don’t draw a legal line. If we do draw a legal line, it establishes a precedent by which people can use the coercive force of government to suppress ideas it doesn’t like by declaring them obscene.

On the other hand, Donohue’s counterpoint was missed by my TV host friend — and he didn’t seem to be able to articulate it quite well enough to cut through the fog of duality (what should be allowed by government and what we think decent people should or shouldn’t do). They are two different things. It’s really the whole point of the entire First Amendment.

The answer, if you’re looking for one rooted in Christianity, is The Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

“Well they have no respect for our sensibilities!”

That’s not a valid excuse to abandon our standards of decency. If you don’t want P*ss Christ, don’t do An*al Allah. It’s not edgy or cool (I’m sure that Charlie Hebro had no issues with P*ss Christ, either, but if you did, you should also have a problem with An*l Allah). Now of course we defend your RIGHT to publish what you want to – which means we won’t use the coercive force of government to admonish you for it. But it doesn’t put you above criticism from the rest of us, and we are perfectly free to apply whatever (legal) social pressure we like to marginalize you if we don’t like it.

No, you should not be legally required to self-censor. Yes, you should self-censor according to your standards of decency, and you should be prepared to take your verbal and social lumps if they aren’t up to the standards of your community.

Were Christians right to be outraged over P*ss Christ? Absolutely. Are Muslims right to be outraged over An*l Allah? Of course. And for the same reasons.

Would Christians be justified in killing over it? No. Are Muslims justified in killing over it? No there, as well.

That being said, it is perfectly legitimate to criticize religions. Well-known atheist Richard Dawkins put it very succinctly a couple of days ago:

“No, all religions are NOT equally violent. Some have never been violent, some gave it up centuries ago. One religion conspicuously didn’t.”

That’s the way to do it. An*l Allah is not. As my wife would say, it’s rude, crude, and socially unacceptable.

And much as I’m not generally a fan of Bill Maher, we do agree on this:

“Condemning attack is not enuf: unless U strongly endorse the right of anyone to make fun of any religion/prophet, U r not a moderate Muslim”

But endorsing your right to do something and criticizing what you did are not mutually exclusive.

Socialism vs Christian Charity (or any other kind for that matter)

“Forced charity isn’t.” - me

This actually comes up a lot.  Somebody picks out a philosophical quote meant to apply on a macro scale and then uses the unaddressed exceptions to pick it and its larger argument apart.

Ran across a post where someone took issue with one of a quote from Dr. Thomas Sowell:

“No society ever thrived because it had a large and growing class of parasites living off of those who produce” – Dr. Thomas Sowell

Which this person posted with this as [the beginning of his] commentary:

For me the tone of this message is very much a Eugenics one??….One fundamental question…Just who should we consider to be these parasitic elements within society??..The impoverished??…The disabled???…the handicapped??….the elderly??….And for the sake of argument…What solution or remedy dose our dear Mr. Sowell, offer to address the issue at hand I wonder?/…perhaps he favors the re-implementing of the old concept..The final solution???…I ask…How can a society claim to be a free and just one, and advocate the cause of man kind….If in such a society  the value and worth of its citizens are determined solely based upon their monetary worth??….Rather then  the sacred principle that all life rich or poor, disabled or elderly etc. is unquestionably sacred and precious??….

None of which was intended, I am certain (I’ve read a lot of Sowell) by Dr. Sowell.  It’s just a simple statement of fact.  And nowhere in it does Dr. Sowell say anything about the disabled, the elderly, or the “poor”.  Because he’s not really talking about them here.  *(actually Dr. Sowell talks a lot about the poor in his works and points out, using actual data, that most of the poor are only poor temporarily.  This is not to say that there are not some people who are incapable of making their own way – but the fact is, that is a small percentage of the poor)

I pointed this out, along with encouraging him to pick up and read one of Dr. Sowell’s books from start to finish so that his questions might be answered — and they’re not the answers presumed by this guy’s leading questions.

Here’s the kicker… I don’t think this guy is a leftist.  He is apparently a staunch right-to-lifer.  And maybe he’s struggling with these questions and being led astray by idiots like the guy at Young Turks who had the very same take on Sowell’s quote.  He took the quote to mean that anybody who wasn’t in the 1% was a parasite (which … I mean, where does one find that in the quote?  He’s putting words into Sowell’s mouth).

So with that in mind, and the fact that he does seem to be concerned as we should all be about the less fortunate – those who truly cannot pull their own weight, and the fact that he was conflating Sowell’s worldview (based on one single sentence) with (and I kid you not) Bernard Shaw’s and Karl Marx’s worldviews (Sowell would spit his coffee out all over his computer screen), I set about trying to address his followup question:

Only if I may ask one question??…How would you defy a Socialist??..Or should I ask..How would you recognise if a individual is a Socialist or not??…Just curious.

Ahem ….

A socialist endorses something that I don’t believe Christ ever endorsed. Yes, he endorsed caring for those in need, but he never endorsed taking something from someone else to give to the poor. Charity happens when one gives freely of himself to another — not when some gives freely of someone else to another. It is incumbent on us as individuals, voluntarily — whether we do it individually or by forming voluntary groups to pool resources.

In fact, I have no problem with a group of people getting together voluntarily and creating a socialist community, or even a full-blown communist one – as long as nobody is forced to join or coerced into staying.

Of course, when this is done, all the problems of socialism’s incompatibility with human nature come out. When you get what you need without having to lift a finger even though you are perfectly capable of contributing to the community, your incentive to contribute is diminished. Now perhaps some extremely noble people will actually work harder to contribute more, but the more they contribute, the easier it makes it on those who don’t contribute. Eventually you end up with a group of people carrying a vastly disproportionate burden of productivity in such an environment. Unless they’re exceedingly altruistic, they will eventually resent those who are taking it easy and living a life of relative leisure, while those on the net receiving end develop a sense of entitlement — of being owed something they have done nothing to earn. And due to those expectations and the fact that everybody wants a better life — the expectation is that they are also owed that better life and they will likewise resent the ones carrying the bulk of the water.

Now – it is true, and Dr. Sowell would be at the front of the line to agree, that we as human beings have obligations to our fellow man, starting at the family level — our first line of defense, and working up through extended family, community, and on up. Here’s the deal.

Charity begins at home – and the wider the separation in relationship between the givers of charity and the recipients, the less prevalent it should be. The higher up you go in societal structure, the more you should be focusing your efforts on those who have fallen through the cracks at the lower levels. I could argue that in a free society, government has ZERO role in this.

Even if it does, the formula should be the same. The higher up you go, the more narrowly focused the program should be.

This is for a couple of reasons, and one of them is to avoid encouraging the mechanism I described above, by which you have an institutionalized force that rewards sloth and punishes the industrious. The other is that the closer the giver is to the recipient, the better position the giver is in to decide whether the recipient is gaming the system or is actually deserving or in need due to circumstances beyond their control.

Churches, and the accompanying religious — traditionally had a great role in this. Our system was designed for a moral and religious people, as John Adams observed. As America abandons God, it is attempting to create a central government to replace Him.

And it will lead to no good end.

Update:

Ok, he’s a trolling leftist:

With all do respect sir…Do you honestly believe for one moment that Socialism is taking from the wealthy and giving it to the poor sir?

‘Nother update:

Dude is completely off his rocker.  In his view, socialism isn’t wealth redistribution.  Because WallStreetNewWorldOrderBankingSystemFundedtheBolsheviks and …. yeah, he completely lost me at that point.

#Ferguson

I saw a security video a few weeks ago of a man in a Walmart looking at BB guns.  He picked it up, looked at it, and apparently — as I have done with many items in a store — walked around with it in his hand for several minutes probably still debating in his mind whether to buy it or not.  He returned to the aisle where he picked it up, probably still thinking about it.

In the meantime, somebody apparently called the police and reported that a man was walking around Walmart with a gun, and apparently embellished by saying he was pointing it at people … I say embellished because nowhere on the security tape did it ever show him pointing it at anyone.

While he was standing in the aisle still considering the purchase, police came in the store (this is all on video camera) and, unprovoked, shot the man dead.

This was obviously wrong, and fortunately it was caught on camera so there is no question that it was an unjustified shooting.

I told you that story to tell you this one.

Back in August, according to eyewitness statements that were supported by forensic evidence that matched the description of the event from the officer involved — a young man went into a store, took some things that weren’t his to take, and shoved a smaller man — the store owner or manager — aside when he tried to stop him.

The police were called.  An officer who was on a call in the area responding to a medical emergency involving a child who couldn’t breath, after leaving that scene and hearing the call on the radio came across to young men fitting the description walking down the middle of a street.  He pulled alongside them, probably partially to further verify that these were the suspects — and told them to get out of the street.

The young man who had taken the merchandise and assaulted the owner/manager apparently did not take kindly to being told what to do, and a struggle ensued with the officer still inside the car.  The young man tried to take the officer’s gun.

Presumably, it wasn’t to check it for safety or admire it and give it back.

In the struggle, the gun was fired, inside the vehicle, grazing the young man’s thumb.

The suspect retreated and was ordered to stop.  Eventually he did stop, turn around, and began to charge the officer from whom he had just tried to take a gun … again, probably not to take it to his friends for show-and-tell.

The young man was a large man, physically capable of taking most normal sized men, including the officer.  He had shown a willingness to steal, assault, and if he had a weapon — which he showed a willingness to obtain by force — probably assault with a deadly weapon.  He stole, assaulted a citizen, assaulted a cop, tried to take his weapon, resisted arrest, and was coming back for more, with a vengeance.

So far in this story, who has done anything wrong?

Put yourself in that officer’s shoes.  In a few seconds, a strong, large, angry young man who had just tried to take his gun would be on him and would likely try to take it again, and not, presumably, use it to play a friendly game of spin the bottle gun in the middle of the street.

The officer fired several rounds.  The young man stopped.  He began charging again.  The officer fired some more.   The young man fell, mortally wounded.

Now we are supposed to use this incident to change things for the better, so this never happens again.

Only we are not allowed to talk about the things that would actually make things better.  Like what kinds of moral lessons are taught to kids by what is known and celebrated as “black” culture?  As if culture has a race.  As if race determines culture.  And as if all cultures are equal.

They are not.

Multi-culturalism is a lie.  It is a useful lie for those who want to divide and conquer.  It is a useful lie to those addicted to hits off the crack-pipe of false righteous rage.  It is a useful lie for those who don’t want to take responsibility for the direction of their own lives, but rather to blame others for their position in life.

America was once heralded as a melting pot, which absorbed parts of the cultures of its immigrants over time, but still had an overarching cohesive culture.  If that’s what we mean by multi-culturalism, I’m on board.  But it’s not what the pushers of Multi-Culturalism™ are talking about.  They are talking about multiple disparate cultures within a defined geographical area.  Without an overarching culture, that cannot be a nation.  It is a recipe for implosion.

Enter the race-baiters and community organizers — the first is a subset of the second — who have political agendas — to stir up anger by whatever means necessary.  Repeating stories that support their narratives as fact.  Attacking anyone who doesn’t agree as racist.  Then this attracts the usual suspects.  The anarchists, the communists (who should be mortally opposed in theory, but they do have the common goal of destroying our current system of law so they more often than not appear shoulder-to-shoulder at these things).

Last night after the decision was announced, after the riot started — I saw two young men interviewed.  Both of them talked about other incidents.  Both repeated the “hands in the air” story that the evidence refutes.   One repeated the “shot in the back” story (“…. shooting the whole time”) that the evidence refutes.

They weren’t there.  They heard these stories repeated in the media and believed them because it supports their worldview that white cops are out to get black men because they’re black.  Whic may happen in certain cases — and it is wrong.

But is that what happened here?  This time?  Doesn’t seem to matter to them.  This was to be representative justice for all the times it is the case.  Which is no justice at all.  It is not justice for Michael Brown.  Michael Brown did just about everything he could to ensure he would be shot. It is a tragedy that he did so, but he did. It is not justice for Officer Wilson and his family.  He would likely be dead, and dead because he was doing his job — part of which is finding and arresting people who commit crimes.  Like theft.  Like assault.  Like vandalism, looting, arson.

Justice is prosecuting the police that shot the guy with the B.B. gun in Walmart, and not prosecuting the guy who tragically killed someone in self-defense.

Another commentator kept interjecting that 1 in 3 black men go to jail.  Which may very well be true.  But it’s not because they’re black.  It’s because young black men commit crimes at much higher rates than any other demographic. That is what needs to be stopped.

The way to stop it is not to have more lenient police.  If anything, that would further encourage it.

The way to stop it is for “black culture” to be re-defined.  To once again embrace morals as it did well into the 1960’s. To take pride in the right things — not now big a thug you can be or how many ho’s you can abuse.  To take pride in being fair, and honest, and working hard. To learn what the system is and why it is good, like Frederick Douglas did.  To stop looking at themselves as victims, even when they are victimized.  To take control over the parts of their lives they can take control over. To do the things it takes to overcome the unfair stereotypes that have more and more become self-fulfilling prophecies.

I can hear it now.  “Thank you for ‘Whitesplaining™’ that.”  

Well … you’re welcomed, first off.  But secondly, that’s just another way of saying “Shut Up.”  “I don’t want to hear it.

Well there’s your problem right there.  If an opinion can be invalidated based upon race, then I guess we really do have a long way to go.  If we do have a long way to go, it’s likely because we’re moving in the wrong direction.  Because we aren’t addressing the root problems.

And it isn’t poverty.  There are poor people all over the world who don’t assault and steal and kill each other in tragic numbers.  There are poor people in Ferguson who don’t.  There are poor black people in Ferguson who don’t.  No, it’s not poverty.

It’s morality.

Religious Liberty

This is going to be long. But it has to be. It’s not something that fits on a bumper sticker, and it is very important to get this straight.

I realize I risk being called a racist and a homophobe … but … ho-hum. By now I’m about numb to baseless accusations hurled thoughtlessly to avoid serious discussion.  They don’t know me.  Nor do they care if they are wrong.

Morgan points out that we’re all tired of arguing about gay people and we should be talking about other things instead, and I understand what he’s saying. But the reason we’re arguing over them is some of them (not all) and their advocates are pushing into areas that severely threaten religious freedom. When American culture gains a foothold in foreign countries, the Left wails about “hegemony”. “America” pushing her beliefs and culture on people who don’t want it.  But they apparently have no compunction over doing it here.

Certainly there are other, larger problems our country currently faces – but this one actually has something to do with who we are.

Because it’s not really about gay people.  It’s about religious liberty.

I’ve been reading the flame wars between people on both sides of the issue, and I’ve noticed that in general, we’re arguing about the wrong things.

People concerned with religious freedom are arguing what the Bible says and what it means (which even Christians have many disagreements about) with atheists and agnostics who don’t care (except to use Old Testament passages to beat Christians over the head with). And the pro-prosecution side calls up images of Jim Crow laws and the Negro Motorist Green Book, and lecturing Christians on what they “really” believe. I even read one person arguing that religious liberty ends at the Church door!  (Isn’t that pretty much what the Soviet Union said?)

So What’s This All About?

At this point, it’s pretty clear that a top-down state re-definition of “marriage” is coming. I believe this is wrong — because marriage doesn’t come from the state. But that ship has sailed. So today the fight is over religious liberty — specifically, the right to practice one’s religion without interference from the state.

The First Amendment states, among other things:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”

That’s pretty clear. It’s even more clear when you realize that the first Colonists came over to secure religious freedom. There were state religions in Europe – that is certain Christian Churches had unelected official positions in government, and if you happened not to belong to that denomination, you could be required to support it or subject to rules made because of denomination’s official position. There was actually state-sponsored persecution of people of certain denominations because of their beliefs and practices. They came here to get away from that.

Today, there are at least four or five cases in different states where vendors have declined to provide their services for events which contradicted their religious beliefs. They were subsequently sued and lost for not providing equal accommodation to same-sex couples that they provide for heterosexual couples. They cite civil rights laws that compel businesses not to discriminate based on race or gender. The argument is that sexual orientation is in the same category as race or gender.

Civil Rights

Inevitably, when we find ourselves in the odd position of having to argue for religious freedom in a nation that has its roots deep in it and is based on liberty — the plight of blacks in the South gets brought up as an illustration why we can’t allow businesses to discriminate because of religious belief. It is the first civil right protected under the Bill of Rights.

It is said that the religious liberty argument was used to justify many white businesses not serving black would-be patrons. That argument was dismissed in the 1960’s, and therefore it is argued that such protests should be likewise dismissed today against participating in a same-sex wedding.

What we’re overlooking, here, is that the argument was dismissed because the protest was found to be lacking. Jim Crow laws and sitting blacks in the back of the bus and segregating drinking fountains and lunch counters were clearly more about spite and hate than anything else. Few, if any real religious convictions lay behind it. It does not follow that the same is true for same-sex marriages.

There is this logic “short circuit” that afflicts too many people when it comes to reasoning, and it’s been introduced mainly by those who seek to manipulate us by stopping us from thinking very deeply, or sometimes at all, about certain things. An example is the States Rights argument.  Slave states used the States Rights argument to argue that they had a right to keep their own slavery laws – that the Constitution didn’t give the Federal Government the authority to abolish slavery within their borders. They lost that argument. And today, hucksters have implanted the idea is that States Rights is an argument for slavery, and any use of the argument is clearly racist and should be dismissed.

But Wisconsin used the States Rights argument to nullify the Fugitive Slave Act, as they refused to deport runaway slaves back to their owners in slave states.  They were in violation of Federal Law in doing so.  But nothing could be more anti-slavery and non-racist than this act which used the same argument.  Few would say that Wisconsin was wrong.  And yet if you say “states’ rights” you’ll hear “racist!” before the last “s” is out of your mouth.

Regardless of what you think of it, it is absolutely no secret that Christianity and Islam, among other religions, have long-standing widespread beliefs that homosexuality is wrong. When a Christian declines to involve herself in an event she considers immoral, it’s no stretch at all that she’s not making it up, no matter what other Christians may think of it.

Jim Crow and the Plight of Southern Blacks

There is no disputing that the horrors blacks went through, especially in the south – were terrible and inexcusable. Quite a bit of the problem was fallout from a known birth defect our nation inherited from the European colonialism that spawned her. Our founders were well aware of the contradictions between a nation founded on Man’s inalienable rights and the slavery that existed long before and certainly at the time of the founding. Our founders included abolitionists, some of whom were actually slave holders themselves, born into it — and southern states whose economies were heavily based on it needed to be brought into the union in order to be strong enough to win the War of Independence. Still, it is clear in our founding documents that the desire was there in the 1780’s to end the practice, and while some effort was put into weakening the slave states’ positions, some of the compromises made it messy and it took 72 years and a bloody civil war to finally end it.

The scars are still with us today, but they are most likely better than they would have been had anti-discrimination laws Republicans had long sought had not been enacted in the 1960’s.

But just as the imperfect compromise in the beginning, the solution was also imperfect. There probably was no perfect solution. It essentially created a protected class, and in addition, infringed on our basic right to free association, and created the concept of a “public accommodation” — which was relatively well-defined but has basically been interpreted in later years by many as any business that is open to the public.

Laws are often imperfect and more often than not have unintended consequences. Though many of its cultural intentions were fulfilled, unintentional cultural fallout has created a class dependent on government aid and the political carpetbaggers who have taken advantage of this have fostered a culture of entitlement, resentment, and separatism. Several modern black leaders cite this as having much more to do with what is holding most blacks back today than actual racial discrimination. The left often argues that the Constitution is outdated. But they’ll never consider that the Civil Rights Act might be outdated or at least in need of some refinement.

But I Thought We Were Talking About Religious Liberty

Indeed, we are. We are because the Civil Rights Act is being used to argue against religious liberty, and to prosecute those who try to exercise it. That should raise some big red flags. And it does, in people who are serious about religious liberty.

The Civil Rights Act was an extreme move that used restriction of liberty to address an extreme problem.

Here’s the kinds of things blacks faced:

Racist laws, discriminatory social codes and segregated commercial facilities made road journeys a minefield of constant uncertainty and risk. The difficulties of travel for black Americans were such that, as Lester B. Granger of the National Urban League puts it, “so far as travel is concerned, Negroes are America’s last pioneers.” Businesses across the United States refused to serve African-Americans. Black travelers often had to carry buckets or portable toilets in the trunks of their cars because they were usually barred from bathrooms and rest areas in service stations and roadside stops. Diners and restaurants also rejected blacks, and even travel essentials such as gasoline could be unavailable because of discrimination at gas stations. To avoid such problems on long trips, African-Americans often packed meals and even containers of gasoline in their cars.The civil rights leader John Lewis has recalled how his family prepared for a trip in 1951:

There would be no restaurant for us to stop at until we were well out of the South, so we took our restaurant right in the car with us… Stopping for gas and to use the bathroom took careful planning. Uncle Otis had made this trip before, and he knew which places along the way offered “colored” bathrooms and which were better just to pass on by. Our map was marked and our route was planned that way, by the distances between service stations where it would be safe for us to stop.”

Finding accommodation was one of the greatest challenges faced by black travelers. Not only did many hotels, motels and boarding houses refuse to serve black customers, but thousands of towns across America declared themselves “sundown towns” which all non-whites had to leave by sunset.

If you’re going to force people to violate their consciences, you’d better at least demonstrate a compelling need — like on the scale of the one above.  What extreme hardship is placed on gays by protecting the religious liberty of a Christian or Muslim when they’re asked to engage in something they find to be morally wrong? Where are there laws that literally prohibit straights from serving gays? Where are gays being run out of shops, told to stand at lunch counters, run to the backs of buses simply because they are gay? Gays have many, many options for accommodation. The situation isn’t even close to the same. And subsequently, extreme measures that trample people’s right to practice their religion in their everyday lives are not needed, and shouldn’t be used. If current law makes it necessary to trample religious liberty, then the law needs to be modified.

Slavishness to bad precedence is being used today to trump one of our most sacred founding principles.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”

The “Public Accommodation” clause in the 1964 Civil Rights Act spelled out the following:

  • hotels
  • motels
  • restaurants
  • movie theaters
  • stadiums
  • concert halls.

Now it’s being argued that any business “serving the public” is a “public accommodation”, so the Christian photographer and the Muslim Barber as one of the people I recently argued with are just “out of luck”. Because as a condition of their business license, they can’t discriminate.  The argument is “you chose serve the public”. Check your religious liberty at your front door.  If you photograph nude women, you have to photograph nude men. If you photograph heterosexual unions, you have to photograph homosexual unions.  If you cut mens’ hair, you must cut womens’ hair.

But here’s the rub. People don’t go into business to serve the public.  They go into business to make a living, in pursuit of happiness – as the term is properly understood. If you are required by law to get a business license to open a business, and that license requires that you, at times, must violate your religious beliefs, then it is a law that “prohibits the free exercise thereof”.

That says Unconstitutional to me.  If who we are is rooted in liberty, something needs to change.

Hail Caesar

Drew M. has a good post over at Ace of Spades that sums up a lot of my feelings regarding the establishment GOP and the Tea Party.  A few further thoughts:

Here’s a necessary word: Caesarism. I never thought I’d praise a Salon.com article — and, of course, the author is as tediously liberal as they come — but even stopped clocks are right twice a day.*  The key concept is that the forms and rituals of, and even a nostalgic respect for, representative government are maintained while all real power is consolidated in the hands of Caesar and his toadies.  Rome had a Senate down to the very end, and they were still meeting and voting on stuff even while the Visigoths were rampaging through the streets.  During the Principate, of course, the fiction of constitutional rule was much more carefully maintained: Augustus wasn’t actually an emperor… he just had all the powers of one, which the Senate insisted on granting him until the present crisis was resolved.

I don’t think we need any more reminders of the fundamental lawlessness of the Obama administration, and the utter fecklessness of Congress, especially the so-called “opposition.”  What hasn’t been sufficiently emphasized is the nature of sham democracy.

Drew M. points out that the GOP routinely aids and abets Obama and the Democrats while beating their chests about conservative principles.  They talk up a budget fight… but only after preemptively caving.

“We’re never gonna default. The Speaker and I made that clear,” [McConnell] said.

Which raises a seemingly obvious question that I’ve never seen satisfactorily answered: Why?

Most people write it off as “just politics.”  Others, like GOP lickspittle Charles Cooke (the target of Drew M.’s righteous reaming), play it off as hard-nosed realism.  They’re paid to pretend to believe that guys like McConnell are fiscal hawks who are skillfully playing a bad hand, when of course the reality is quite the opposite.

They’re faking.  That’s their function.  Just as Caesar reluctantly allows the Senate to talk him into accepting all the powers and honors and titles of an emperor, Caesar allows the people to vent their frustrations by supporting the Opposition Party.  We’re just not supposed to notice that the Opposition does Caesar’s bidding at every turn.

Which brings me to the Tea Party.  The Opposition’s opposition, if you will.  Here, too, the plebs are allowed to grumble, in order to maintain the facade of popular participation.  Grassroots activism!!  Citizen activism!!!  Except that the Tea Party isn’t doing that either.

Strategic Fundraising, a St. Paul, Minnesota-based company that specializes in fundraising, was paid $1,028,148.96 for “List Rental.” Groups looking to raise money or get a message out to a growing number of people often rent lists of home addresses or email addresses to send out their materials.

Integram, a printing and mailing company based in Dulles, Virginia, was paid $892,127.54 for those services.

In the meantime,

it is not yet decided how much the group will spend on independent expenditures. “We’re still determining the balance between how much we actually will do with endorsements versus how much we will do with voter education, ” [spokesman Jenny Beth Martin] said.

The reason for starting an independent expenditure group, she explained, was not about being able to make independent expenditures in races, but because “we felt the ramifications of the IRS targeting so severely,” Martin said, and they felt having this type of group would allow them to “more freely exercise our First Amendment rights.”

So they plan on “educating” voters… to vote for nobody in particular.
Note also that the establishment GOP spends far more time fighting the Tea Party than they do fighting the Democrats.  A successful party –like, say, the Democrats — co-opts the fringes and folds them into the coalition.  Cruise by some liberal blogs.  Do you see any criticism of Abortion Barbie?  Any calls for the Democrats to embrace moderation and run a less polarizing candidate in an attempt to steal a victory on the enemy’s turf?
When you’re done with that, look up the ten most awful, obnoxious statements you can find about “Caribou Barbie.”  It’s about 500 to 1 that a few of them were made by so-called conservatives.
Then go look at the behavior of the candidates the “Tea Party” manages to elect.  Ted Cruz is a favorite, what with the filibustering of this and that.  Which he’s free to do, because he knows he’s going to lose anyway and he’s not up for reelection.  Sham democracy requires oppositional gestures, and he’s well paid to be the fall guy.  I wouldn’t be surprised if people start talking up Ted Cruz for president… at which point he’ll discover his inner Marco Rubio.
Just to be clear:  I’m not saying that Barack Obama is Caesar, much less that he’s pulling the GOP’s strings from behind a curtain.  The political class itself is Caesar.  The original Caesar only became supreme through the active collusion of the patricians.  They didn’t like the rough-and-tumble of representative government any more than the warlords did, but they were unwilling to endure the privations of a return to straight aristocracy, which would have started a plebeian rebellion.  Nor was there much real support for a return to the old Republic, as evidenced by the fate of the “Senatorial” army in the subsequent civil war — if it were even possible, it would require surrendering the fruits of empire, which most were unwilling to do.
Hence, Caesarism:  An empire without an emperor, a dictatorship without a dictator.
And the Pax Romana was good, or good enough, for the people who could do anything about it.  The sham of opposition was preferable to the civil war real opposition would necessarily entail… especially when there were bread and circuses to help the plebs while away the time, and offices and honors and orgies at seaside villas for the patrician “political” caste.
We have about three regular readers here, all of whom are no doubt limbering up their typing fingers to accuse me of cheering for doom or revolution or treason or whatever.  Go ahead if that’ll make you feel better.  But like the disclaimer says:  All opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the management.  I could be wrong.  I desperately hope I’m wrong.  But history suggests otherwise.  When they start burning Oswald Spengler in effigy, you’ll know I’m right.
Hail Caesar.

 

 

 

*Doubtless this knucklehead thinks that Caesarism will only come to America after the reich-wing raciss troglodytes vote out Saint Barack and elect President Palin.  But, again: stopped clocks.

We’re Not Anarchists

A discussion that came out of the topic of the recent West Virginia chemical spill brought up the EPA and Capitalism.   I think that the left has an extremely warped view of what capitalism is, and probably a way too large chunk of people on the right have never really thought about it and can’t properly describe it, either.

Yes, it’s a horse I tend to beat a lot, and I’ll probably beat it until after it’s dead.  If we ever get that far.

What people don’t get is that “Capitalism” is a term used to describe a free market (I think Marx actually coined it — or if not, he was one of the first to use it). It’s not really a designed system like state-run economies. It’s an economy run by people working it out among themselves. It’s a description of something that occurs in nature. More of a label, really, than a description. But any attempt to define this economic process which falls naturally out of human nature either describes it well, or it doesn’t. It doesn’t change what is.

In contrast, there are state-run economies. In theory, there are no “poor” in the state-run imaginary utopian economic systems (invariably based on some flavor of Marxism). In theory. But that’s never the case. Capitalists don’t claim that the free market system will end poverty. It does, however, provide pathways out of it. And in such an economy, everybody gets richer over time. Which is why the statists had to invent the GINI (envy) index. In a free market economy, there’s a rising tide. In a centrally run economy, the tide is constantly going out.


Now, I suppose there are a few people that believe there should be no laws that regulate behavior in this this type of economy. The relative anarchists. Those people are few and far between, even in the circles most of us here run in. The kinds of regulation that are needed are laws against fraud, coersion, theft, and property damages. Our watershed (and air, and land) are rightly a public good because it’s naturally occurring, and there’s no way to separate what you did to the water on your land from the water that other people eventually drink, and we all need it. It affects everything. So yes, we need laws that address this and an enforcement mechanism. I haven’t run into anyone in our group or at any Tea Party type gathering that believes otherwise.

A proper free market economy needs this kind of regulation. And regulations and penalties should be proportional to the potential damage. So something like this would rank high on the list, whereas forbidding a farmer to use a portion of his land because a large puddle occasionally develops in a depression on his land and the EPA comes in and declares it a “wetland” … well that’s clearly an overstep, and would never pass a vote of the people or their representatives.

I actually don’t have a problem with having agencies such as an EPA — however, they should exist only to oversee and help enforce laws duly passed by Congress and signed by the President — they should have no authority to effectively make law themselves. This is where we’ve gone wrong with these agencies.

But, Corporations!

TeddyRooseveltAgain, on one of those political e-posters on Facebook (right)

The idea behind this quote sounds great.  I get it.  But things like this are seldom as simple as they sound.

As an example, here at the University back in the late 1990’s, the registrar’s office decided that as a recruiting tool, it would offer an email address to every student. the idea, and it’s not a bad one. It sounds simple, but it’s not really that simple.

Simple, right?

What do you mean by “student”?

Turns out the answer to that question wasn’t as easy as it sounded. Everybody THOUGHT they knew what “student” meant and that it would be super easy to implement. But when people that other people thought were “students” weren’t getting their email addresses … we had to dig deeper. When do you start being a student? Are you a student during the summer between spring and fall semester if you are not taking summer classes? Are you a student during the intersessions? How do we know you’re really coming back in the fall? Things like that. Different people had different answers, and all of them thought THEY were right. (And then there’s the question … does the information we need once we made a decision exist in the data?)

Here, everybody assumes that a corporation is a big behemouth money-making capitalistic monster that exists solely to suck the life out of … well, you know how they are portrayed in the movies.

But there are all kinds of corporations, really. Corporations really amount to a tax status and limits liability with respect to losses for a particular organization. Lots and lots of corporations are not-for-profit and/or are set up specifically for promoting certain causes.

I suspect it’s that last category that is really against disallowing corporate contributions to campaigns (though the big commercial ones probably like to keep their options open as well). And most of them act as a collecting point for smaller contributions which they then use to contribute – helping the average citizen “put your money where your mouth is”, so to speak. Or they’ll actually go out and solicit money from a big commercial corporation. So which corporations will be allowed, and which wouldn’t?

People would just find ways around it anyway — like set up NPO’s for certain causes, fund the NPO’s (and perhaps write off the “contributions”) and then the NPO would contribute. For every well-meaning rule out there, there are loopholes, and if none exist, they will develop.

But … back to the real problem … the corrupting influence of large amounts of money, or streams of revenue to be siphoned from) … and how to minimize their impact on the electoral process (and wouldn’t it be nice if we could limit their impact on the lobbying/legislative process as well?)

What to do?

We COULD limit the contribution TO individuals. No commercial corporations, no NPO’s. Just one name, one contribution to one candidate per race, and no contributions to candidtates that do not represent your district. You must be a citizen to contribute. And we’ll limit it to $100*(GDP/”2013 GDP”) per one and only one real bona-fide human being, per campaign as a way to tie it loosely to the value of a buck in the future.

I could get behind something like that. But then, of course, how do you prove it or keep track of it? It’d be as verifiable as voter rolls or websites that accept credit cards from your maid in Dubai. And if you try to limit it to citizens you’ll likely be accused of being a racist anyway.

Citizens United did not overturn the Tillman Act (signed by TR 1907) which is what I suspect this e-poster is subtly criticizing. CU was not about contributing directly to campaigns, but was rather centered on what kinds of films or ads corporations could make and release near elections as limited by McCain Feingold. Basically, what happened is CU challenged “Fahrenheit 9/11″ as a giant political ad to defeat Bush in the 2004 election cycle, and the court ruled that that film was not political speech because it was a “commercial” film (despite the fact that Moore specifically stated that’s why he made it). So Citizens United started cranking out politically motivated films and releasing them commercially, and they got challenged on a Hillary film they made for 2008.

The court decided to be consistent. Whether it was good or bad in the first place is up for debate.

Ultimately, the question of free speech is dicier in these instances than critics would like us to believe. If a company wants to make a movie, and that movie is in any way supportive or critcal of a movement or a party or a candidate … limiting the legality of doing that does, in fact, limit freedom of expression. A bit less so if they are only limited from airing them within 30 or 60 days of an election, though I can see people getting into what constitutes support or criticism. I think the courts have stuck to not mentioning a candidate by name in the past. You have to draw a line somewhere. But Farenheit 9/11 did mention a candidate by name and the court let it slide. The Hillary movie got locked up in court until after the election. You could argue that it’s corporate speech, but your average citizen doesn’t have the resources to make and release commercial movies, and it’s hard to argue that movies and ads aren’t expresssion.

In the end, the best protection from the corrupting influence of money is an educated public … and by educated I don’t mean just passing K-12 … I mean knowing the founding principles and the logic behind them and keeping abreast of what’s going on in the country and the world and applying them. I think that’s about the best we can do.

Smellin’ the Weimar: “Third Parties Don’t Work in Our System”

[This started out as a reply to Robert Mitchell Jr. (whose comments I really appreciate for keeping me on my toes), but as it expanded I thought it belonged up here].

One big objection to my “Weimar America” idea is the two-party system.  We’ve never gone in for the continental parliamentary nonsense that lets fringe whackadoodle parties sneak a member or two into our governing bodies.  This prevents the rise of a fascist party in America.

There are three assumptions here that need to be examined.  The first is that one party or the other won’t simply become fascist.  I actually have a harder time arguing for this point, because I think it has more or less already happened.  To both parties.  Fascism, you’ll recall, is state socialism.  It’s a split-the-difference “third way” between, on the one hand, syndicalism and / or the vanguard of the proletariat and, on the other, the primitive laissez-faire capitalism that characterized the pre-WWI United States and was responsible, in the minds of almost all educated people, for the Depression.  It tries to harness the productive power of big business to socially beneficial ends.

"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

“Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” — Benito Mussolini

If that doesn’t sound familiar, ask President Obama, or, as I sometimes like to call him, the CEO of General Motors.  Or ask any lefty — they’ll happily tell you all about the GOP’s precise position in Big Business’s pocket.  Watch out for flying spittle.

In fact, this seems to be at least part of the problem.  Much as I hate to agree with Il Duce, the F-word seems to exclude everything but torchlight parades and concentration camps in most people’s minds.  But it’s crucial to remember that fascism was, and is, an economic system.  The fascist wants to restructure the people’s relationship to the means of production as radically as any Marxist.  The only real difference between a fuhrer and a vanguard of the proletariat is that the vanguard pretends he’s just a way station on the road to the classless society.  At least give Hitler and Mussolini points for honesty — they’re at the top by design.

Here in Weimar America, both parties have accepted that they’re just stewards of the welfare state.  Mitt Romney was actually sold to conservative voters as a better manager of a smaller, more efficient version of Obamacare.  This, we were told, was federalism in action.  I think another f-word is much more appropriate.

Nor are such ideological takeovers unprecedented.  Mr. Mitchell himself cites one — the communist takeover of the Democratic Party.  I’m not sure I’d go so far as that — though come to think of it, I am basically arguing that both parties have become fascist — but it’s certainly true that the old “Scoop Jackson Democrats” (or whatever) were driven out in a cloud of bong smoke sometime in the mid-Sixties.  As the “progressive” Republicans were driven out by old money back in the 1910s.  And the “Barnburner” Democrats by the slave power conspiracy in the 1840s.  And so forth.  Parties undergo wide ideological swings pretty frequently, complete with purges.

It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if the anti-fascists were the ones driven out of one party or the other, and forced to go it alone in the electoral wilderness.

Which leads to the second assumption that needs probing.  Third parties actually do have a pretty successful track record in American politics.  The Republicans, for instance, were one of many fringe reform parties in the 1850s.  They were successful because they articulated an ideology that many Americans instinctively subscribed to, but which no other party embodied.

Poll after poll, study after study shows widespread public dissatisfaction with Obamacare, with open borders, with endless neo-colonial wars, with cultural libertinism, with political correctness, with the whole degrees-and-debt shebang.  And yet neither party plays to these voters — who might actually be the majority of all voters in the country.  And when a movement arises that seems to articulate these values, both parties attack it.

Why would they do that, if the party system actually represented the will of the people?

The Republican Party arose under exactly those conditions.  Though they kept it out of their discourse as much as possible — and spoke only in euphemisms when forced to discuss it — the Democrats in the 1850s were obviously the pro-slavery party.  The Whigs were the feckless opposition, characterized almost entirely by their lack of character.  Sound familiar?

Moreover, third parties have been quite successful at the local and state level.  (Hell, at the national level, too — ask Bill Clinton what he thinks about Ross Perot, for instance).  The few liberals who know anything about history like to throw the Know-Nothing Party around as an example of the Republicans’ irredeemably racist origins.  They don’t often cite the rampant turn of the century success of the Socialist Party and its incorporation into the modern Democratic Party (though as with all things liberal, it’s impossible to tell whether ignorance or malice is the better explanation for that).  In Europe, yes, these not-so-minor parties would send delegates to the national assembly.  Here they worm their way into major parties.  Read Eugene V. Debs’s 1912 campaign platform off a teleprompter and you’ve got your basic Barack Obama speech.

All it takes is a few electoral successes at the lower levels for a party to either get co-opted into a larger party, or to become the larger party.  That’s how we’ll get to American fascism.

The third assumption, again articulated best by Mr. Mitchell, is that the present prosperity will continue.  He writes

But, alas, even the most vile Dark Lord starts to feel a little kind when he’s had a good meal, a nice brandy, and some good music, and that’s death to the fever needed to bring about the Revolution.

I would agree with this if we weren’t a zillion bajillion dollars in the hole already, before the inevitable 404Care crash.  The ancien regime always feels this way, even while the torches and pitchforks are just over the hill.  All prosperity must be purchased.  What are we going to buy it with?  We’re broke.  Those things that can’t continue indefinitely, won’t.  The shock of the Depression enabled Hitler.  And Tojo.  And Mussolini.  And Mao.  And Chiang Kai-Shek.  Britain and France avoided it because of America.  America avoided it because of…..

…. think carefully before you answer, because here’s the followup:  Does it still exist, here in this year of our Lord 2013?

I say no.  But I sure hope I’m wrong.