Author Archives: Retired Spook

About Retired Spook

U.S. Naval Security Group 1965 - 1989. Retired in 2013 as manufacturers rep in document and media packaging industry.

How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

Back in January, 2003, The BCS National Championship college football game was played between the undefeated and number 1 ranked Miami Hurricanes, riding a 34 game winning streak, and the also undefeated and 2nd ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. In one of the most exciting games in college football history, the 2-touchdown underdog Buckeyes won 31-24 in double overtime.  On the eve of the big game, an avid Buckeye fan wrote what he thought would be representative of the pre-game speech that Ohio State coach Jim Tressel would (or should) give and posted it on an Internet message board.  It took on a life of its own, and many people to this day believe it’s Tressel’s actual pre-game speech.  Regardless of the illegitimacy of the speech, it contained a memorable line that everyone, at some point in his life should ask himself: “how do you want to be remembered?”

Does anyone think Barack Obama has ever asked himself that question?  How will he be remembered?

Will he be remembered as the president who did more to advance the cause of racial harmony than any previous president?

Will he be remembered as the president who eliminated tedious and burdensome regulations, reined in the out-of-control bureaucrats at the EPA, lowered the corporate tax rate and unleashed the American entrepreneurial spirit to create a new era of prosperity for all?

Will he be remembered as the second coming of FDR, with numerous large public works projects funded by his trillion dollar stimulus?

Will he be remembered, as so many had hoped, as the President who ushered in a new era of world peace, gaining increased respect by both our allies and adversaries alike?

Will he be remembered as the president who achieved what every president since Carter has only talked about and put America on the path to energy independence, opening up federal lands to energy exploration and approving the Keystone Pipeline?

Will he be remembered as the president who finally fulfilled the century-long progressive dream of providing comprehensive, affordable healthcare for everyone?

Will he be remembered as he promised, as the steward of the most transparent and honest administration in American history?

There are so many great things that he could be remembered for, but my guess is that, if historians are honest, the Obama era will go down as one of more missed opportunities than any president in modern times, perhaps than any president period.

 

 

A Retired Admiral’s Take on Benghazi

The following is a letter that was re-printed in a military newsletter I get from a retired navy admiral to Bill O’Reilly regarding the entire Benghazi affair.  I originally posted this at the end of the recent Benghazi thread.

Mr. O’Reilly,

I am mad as hell because the truth about how combatant commanders and the department of state can and should protect embassies is not being clearly explained. The fact is that there are policies, precedent, resources and procedures that could and should have prevented the embassy in Benghazi from coming under attack, or defended it if it did come under attack, or vacated it if the threat was too high. The ongoing discussion on your show and elsewhere that centers on the video and subsequent cover up is necessary as is the discussion about whether or not we should have responded during the attack. But those discussions have not brought to light the fact that none of this should have happened in the first place.

Fact: The combatant commanders, in this case AFRICOM, have access to our national inventory of intelligence community resources as well as international resources in order to thoroughly understand the risks and threats in any part of their Area of Responsibility (AOR). The complete picture of what was happening in Libya should have been known by AFRICOM leaders and this should have been briefed up the chain daily.

Fact: The first two cornerstones of AFRICOM’s mission are (1) Deter and defeat transnational threats posed by al-Qa’ida and other extremist organizations and (2) Protect U.S. security interests by ensuring the safety of Americans and American interests from transnational threats… In other words it is the mission of AFRICOM to prevent exactly what happened at the embassy in Benghazi.

Fact: The policy is for AFRICOM leaders to work in-conjunction with the state department’s Regional Security Officer (RSO) to establish the threat and then work with the Joint Staff and inter-agency to quickly provide plans and resources to deny that threat.

Fact: There are units specifically designed to bolster security in embassies. The USMC has three companies of Fleet Antiterrorism Security Teams (FAST) and one of these companies (or units from it) could have been deployed to FASTEUR in Rota, Spain, as the risk materialized. Each company has six platoons of 50 men each.

Fact: In July 2003 when I was the J3 at European command (AFRICOM had not been created yet) we had a similar situation develop in Liberia whereby two warring factions were threatening the embassy in Monrovia. The EUCOM team began planning for embassy support PRIOR to Ambassador Blaney’s request. When he did ask for help, we responded immediately, worked with his staff and received SECDEF approval to deploy a single FAST team platoon from Rota to the embassy to provide security. We worked with the Joint Staff and created the mission and structure for Joint Task Force Liberia, an anti-terrorism force based upon USS Iwo Jima and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

Fact: Elements from the MEU arrived and relieved the FAST platoon. The warring parties signed a cease fire, the embassy in Monrovia was secured, no Americans were hurt.

So, the questions are:

1. What was the assessed level of threat in Libya prior to the September attack?

2. If it was not considered high then what were the intelligence failures that lead to that wrong conclusion?

3. If the threat was considered high then why wasn’t a FAST team or other resource deployed?

4. What did Ambassador Stephen’s see as his threat and what did he ask for? If he asked for help and was not provided it, that is inconceivable to me. My two bosses at EUCOM, General Chuck Wald (USAF) and General James L. Jones (USMC) would have bent over backwards to provide anything the ambassador asked for and more. They would have leaned on the Joint Staff to provide the authority to deploy and, in fact, during the Liberian situation described above, they were pushing me every day to provide solutions for the Joint Staff to approve. And should anyone forget, this was July of 2003. We were already in Afghanistan and had invaded Iraq just four months before. We were busy but not preoccupied.

Very Respectfully,
Hamlin Tallent
RADM, USN, retired

The admiral raises a lot of good points.  I guess we’ll see where this goes.  At least the right guy is chairing the select committee.  If Congressman Goudy doesn’t have the cajones to get to the whole truth in this matter, then I doubt that anyone can.

 

 

 

A Conflict of Vision

Mark and Amazona and I had an off-blog conversation recently about how we have begun to distance ourselves from friends or acquaintances who inhabit the left side of the political spectrum.  For most of my adult life I rationalized keeping such friends by convincing myself that it was “only politics”; that we basically wanted the same things for ourselves and our descendants; we just disagreed with how to get there.

One of the things that the Obama presidency has accomplished is highlighting the stark contrast between Liberals and Conservatives, not just on issues and not just on their approach to problem solving, but on a fundamental conflict in our vision for the future.

The greatest and most obvious conflict of vision is about the basic role of the central government where one side believes the success of government is defined by how many people are helped by government and the other side which believes the success of government is defined by how few people need help from the government.

But the conflict is much deeper and broader than that.  It is a conflict between:

  • The fundamental transformation of America and the fundamental restoration of America.
  • The belief that some people can neither handle nor deserve freedom, and the belief that the yearning for freedom is an inherent part of the human spirit.
  • The belief that America is the greatest force for freedom and prosperity in the world, and the belief that America is the source of most of the evil and misery in the world.
  • Doing what’s right all of the time, regardless of the consequences and doing what’s right only when doing so yields personal or political benefits.
  • Always telling the truth and ignoring the truth when it has negative political or personal consequences.
  • Voting for someone because you’re confident they will honor their oath to uphold the Constitution and voting for someone because you’re confident they will ignore or subvert the parts of the Constitution that you don’t like.
  • Case law and original interpretation.
  • Morality and moral relativism.
  • Learning from history and re-writing history to fit an agenda.
  • Dwelling on what’s good about America as opposed to dwelling on what’s bad about America.
  • The creation of wealth and the transfer of wealth.
  • Freedom of religion and freedom from religion.
  • A dynamic view and a static view on just about everything.
  • Defining success as actually helping someone in need vs. defining success as feeling good because you tried to help someone.
  • Accountability and avoiding responsibility.
  • Humility and hubris.
  • Criticizing policies because they’re bad policies and being accused of being racist for criticizing policies because the policy maker is black.
  • Becoming a color-blind society and using race as a political weapon.
  • Lightly-regulated free market capitalism and crony capitalism with rewards for supporters and burdensome regulations on and harassment of any company that doesn’t support your policies.
  • Policy making based on polling and policy making based on sound scientific and economic principles.
  • Transparency and closed door, secret deals.
  • Increasing tax revenue and decreasing spending.
  • Economic justice and economic liberty.
  • Social justice and justice for all.
  • The individual and the collective.
  • Results vs. intentions.
  • Conservation and eco-imperialism.
  • Victory and exit strategy when applied to military conflict.
  • An educational system that teaches how to think vs. what to think.
  • “Our plan didn’t work because we didn’t spend enough money”, and “your plan didn’t work because it was an unworkable plan.”
  • Eliminating incentive and fostering dependency vs. entrepreneurship and self-reliance.
  • Voting based on issues and voting based on the best way to govern.
  • Liberty and tyranny.
  • And ,ultimately, between the survival of the human race vs. the here and now.

So I ask my former friends and acquaintances on the Left — common ground?  What common ground?  We are in a fight for the soul of the greatest nation in the history of the world, and our conflict of vision for the future is so profound that I will, without hesitation, lay down my life to ensure that my descendants are not forced to live under your vision.

 

A Constitutional Convention of the States

With the movement for a Constitutional Convention of the States picking up steam, in spite of being completely ignored by the MSM, this is a topic that is long overdue for discussion. Amazona asked that I re-post her comment from the previous thread outlining the constitutional amendments suggested by Mark Levin in his recent best-seller, “The Liberty Amendments.

“Mark Levin is proposing ten amendments to the Constitution. Each one is written in thoughtful language so as to preclude any ancillary problems:

1) Term Limits: He proposes limiting service in both the House and Senate to 12 years. Yes, we’ve heard all the arguments about elections being the best limit. But the past 100 year has proven that to be false. As someone who works day and night to throw the bums out, I can tell you that is nearly impossible to throw them out with the amount of money they raise – precisely for their abuses of power. Levin also proves that limiting time in office was a highly regarded proposal during the Constitutional Congress.

2) Repealing the 17th Amendment: Levin proposes repealing the 17th amendment and vesting state legislators with the power to elect senators so that the power of states is not diluted, as originally feared by the framers of the Constitution.

3) Restoring the Judiciary to its proper role: The Judiciary was never meant to be an all-powerful institution in which five men in robes have the final say over every major policy battle in the country. In order to end judicial tyranny, Levin proposes limiting service to one 12-year term, and granting both Congress and the state legislatures the authority to overturn court decisions with the vote of three-fifths of both houses of Congress or state legislative bodies.

4) Limiting Taxation and Spending: Levin proposes a balanced budget amendment, limiting spending to 17.5% of GDP and requiring a three-fifths vote to raise the debt ceiling. He also proposes limiting the power to tax to 15% of an individual’s income, prohibiting other forms of taxation, and placing the deadline to file one’s taxes one day before the next federal election.

5) Limiting bureaucracy: He proposes an amendment to limit and sunset federal regulations and subject the existence of all federal departments to stand-alone reauthorization bills every three years.

6) Defining the Commerce Clause: Levin writes an amendment that, while technically unnecessary, is practically an imperative to restoring the original intent of the Commerce Clause. The amendment would make it clear that the commerce clause grants not power to actively regulate and control activity; rather to prevent states from impeding commerce among other states, as Madison originally intended.

7) Limiting Federal power to take private property

8) Allowing State Legislature to Amend the Constitution: Although the Framers intentionally made it difficult to amend the Constitution, they did so to preserve the Republic they created. However, the progressives have illegally altered our Republic through a silent and gradual coup without using the amendment process. If we are going to successfully push the aforementioned amendments, we will need an easier mechanism to force them through. The proposed amendment allows states to bypass Congress and propose an amendment with support of just two-thirds of the states (instead of three-fourths) and without convening a convention.

9) State Authority to Override Congress: A proposed amendment to allow states to override federal statutes by majority vote in two-thirds of state legislatures. The last two proposals are rooted in the idea that the states only agreed to the Constitution on condition that their power would not be diluted and that all federal power is derived from the states.

10) Protecting the Vote: A proposal to require photo ID for all federal elections and limit early voting.

Taken as a whole, there is no doubt that these amendments would restore our Republican form of government. Every proposal is backed up by scholarly analysis of the Framers’ view on the proposal, an overview of what has changed since the founding, and the rationale for why the proposal is necessary. You should read the entire book. As someone who is busy reading all the current news every day, this is the only political book I made time to read all year.”

Not All Democrats

This was something that I posted as a comment at the old BlogsforBush shortly after the 2004 election, and back when I was still a registered Republican.  Amazingly, about 90% of it is still relevant after 8-1/2 years, proving that, in politics, some things never change.

This started out as a contest with a Liberal Democrat friend of mine during the 2004 election, to see which one of us could list the most things we disliked about each other’s political party. About that same time I heard a discussion on the radio about racial profiling and the war on terror. The point was made that, while not all Muslims are terrorists, the vast majority of terrorists are Muslims. Political junkie that I am, my first thought was that this same principle applies to Democrats. As the list grew, it reaffirmed the reason I am a Republican. In addition to supporting Republican principles of smaller, less intrusive government, lower taxes, entrepreneurship and personal responsibility, there are just so many things about the Democrat Party that I find morally repugnant and intellectually dishonest.

1. Not all Democrats compare their political opponents to Hitler and refer to them publicly as fascists, Nazis, digital brown shirts, book burners, Satan, the real terrorists, worse than Sadam, etc., but it is only Democrats who do this. (These are from public comments by prominent Democrats just during the 2004 campaign. I have NEVER heard a Republican use any of these words to describe a Democrat.)

2. Not all Democrats support partial birth abortion, but virtually all supporters of partial birth abortion are Democrats.

3. Not all Democrats are radical environmentalists who believe that man represents the greatest threat to the planet, but nearly all radical environmentalists are Democrats.

4. Not all Democrats oppose private property rights, but the vast majority of those who oppose private property rights are Democrats.

5. Not all Democrats oppose school choice, but the majority of those who do are Democrats.

6. Not all Democrats believe the government can spend our money more wisely than we can, but most of the people who do are Democrats.

7. Not all Democrats support homosexual marriage, but the majority of those who support homosexual marriage are Democrats.

8. Not all Democrats believe that the main purpose of a business is to provide jobs, but nearly all who believe so are Democrats.

9. Not all Democrats believe that our Constitution is a living document that can and should be changed primarily by the courts rather than by the will of the People through the amendment process, but most who believe this way are Democrats.

10. Not all Democrats praise and admire (or, at the very least, apologize for) brutal communist dictators like Fidel Castro, but the only people who do are Democrats.

11. Not all Democrats believe that if we just leave the terrorists alone, they will leave us alone, but the vast majority who believe so are Democrats.

12. Not all Democrats support turning over a substantial portion of our national security to the United Nations, but the only people who support this are Democrats.

13. Not all Democrats believe that by making America weaker we will make America safer, but virtually all who believe so are Democrats.

14. Not all Democrats believe that tax cuts cause deficits, but the majority of people who do are Democrats. (Federal revenue from individual income taxes grew at a nearly 50% faster rate in the five years following Reagan’s tax cuts than it did during the five years following Bush Sr.’s and Clinton’s tax increases in the early 90’s. (source – Statistical Abstract of US) Were it not for 911, the Dot.Com stock market bubble burst, the War on Terror and numerous corporate scandals that originated during the Clinton years, the Bush tax cuts would have likely produced the same result. As it is, most economists agree that the tax cuts, at the very least, dramatically lessened the severity of the recession. A noted Nobel Laureate in Economics recently stated publicly that the only thing wrong with the Bush tax cuts was that they weren’t big enough. (update – summer, 2005 – Federal revenue from individual income taxes increased dramatically)

15. Not all Democrats want to repeal the Second Amendment, but most of those who do are Democrats. If they ever mount a serious attempt at repeal, they will find out why the Founding Fathers included it in the Bill of Rights. (Hint – it doesn’t have anything to do with hunting or target shooting.)

16. Not all Democrats have a static view of the economy, but nearly all who do are Democrats. A static view holds that for every winner of life’s lottery there must, by necessity, be a loser; that the rich got that way only at the expense of the poor. A Dynamic view holds that our economy is ever-expanding, that a rising tide lifts all boats.

17. Not all Democrats believe that there are people in this world who neither desire nor deserve freedom, but virtually the only people who express this belief publicly are Democrats. (Of all the beliefs and positions on this list, I find this to be the most offensive.) This “cultural condescension” as Ronald Reagan termed it, has been soundly rebuked in such major world powers as Germany, Japan and India. In fact, the number of free, democratic governments has quadrupled in the last 30 years, a growth spurt of freedom unequaled in human history. The most absurd question posed by Democrats with regard to the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq is “what will we do if they vote for an Islamic theocracy”? That is like asking what we would do if an innocent person freed from prison voted to go back to prison.

18. Not all Democrats hold the American Military in distain, but the vast majority of those who do are Democrats.

19. Not all Democrats believe that we deserved what happened to us on September 11, 2001, but most of those who believe so are Democrats.

20. Not all Democrats are playing politics with national security, but virtually the only ones doing so are Democrats.

21. Not all Democrats believe people should receive government assistance based on the color of their skin instead of their economic circumstances, but it is almost exclusively Democrats who believe this.

22. Not all Democrats believe the First Amendment applies only to those who agree with them, but it is clearly only Democrats who believe this. During the 2004 election cycle Democrats tried to stop the publishing of the book “Unfit for Command”, then threatened legal action against bookstores that sold it. They also threatened legal action against radio and TV stations that carried the Swift Vet ads, and attempted to get the FCC to stop the Sinclair Television Network airing of the Vietnam documentary “Stolen Honor”. One Kerry campaign staffer, Chad Clanton, even went so far as to threaten Sinclair in public, saying “they better hope we don’t win”. (THIS IS REALLY FRIGHTENING!) On the flip side, anti-Bush books, documentaries and news shows have numbered in the dozens, one even based largely on forged military documents (a felony). There has been no effort (at least publicly) on the part of the Bush campaign to stifle any of these, often vicious, attacks.

23. Not all Democrats believe convicted felons and illegal aliens should be allowed to vote, but it is only Democrats who believe this.

24. Not all Democrats believe public school teachers should not be held accountable for education results, but it is mostly Democrats who believe this.

25. Not all Democrats advocate violence as an acceptable form of public protest, but Democrats have a virtual monopoly on violence as a protest tactic. During the 2004 election cycle local Republican headquarters have been shot at, broken into, ransacked and stormed by union-led mobs. Bush supporters have been assaulted and had their tires slashed. I have not seen one single report of any of these tactics being used by Republicans.

26. Not all Democrats deny the existence of good and evil, but it is mostly Democrats who are apprehensive about defining things in terms of good and evil lest they be perceived as morally judgmental.

27. Not all Democrats are radical feminists, but virtually all radical feminists are Democrats.

28. Not all Democrats confuse patriotism with loyalty, but it is mostly Democrats who seem not to understand the difference. Patriotism is a feeling, a “love or devotion to one’s country.” Loyalty, by definition, is an action word. It is “allegiance to one’s country” or “faithfulness to one’s government.” Many traitors have come and gone calling themselves “patriots.” Few would agree they were being “loyal.”

29. Not all Democrats believe we are under-taxed, but the only people who believe so are Democrats. They often point to the United States as being the lowest taxed of all developed countries as though that was a bad thing. It is the reason our unemployment rate is half and our economic growth rate is double or triple that of most of the European countries Democrats like to cite as examples we should emulate.

30. Not all Democrats support using our military primarily for humanitarian reasons but not when our interests are threatened, however, it is mostly Democrats who believe this way.

31. Not all Democrats are cheaters, but election fraud by Democrats has become so widespread that it’s even inspired a new best-selling book: “If It’s Not Close, They Can’t Cheat”. When was the last time you heard reports of “dead” Republicans voting?

32. Not all Democrats support the exploitation of injured, ill and physically handicapped people for political purposes, but Democrats have refined such exploitation into an art form. Recent exploitations of Christopher Reeve, Michael J. Fox, Max Cleland and the amputee soldier reciting a litany of lies in the recent TV ad funded by Operation Truth, coupled with the blatant lie that President Bush has banned stem cell research, are simply beyond contempt.

33. Not all Democrats believe that people like Whoopie Goldberg, Sean Penn, Danny Glover, and Michael Moore represent the “heart and soul of America”, but it is only Democrats, including their Presidential nominee (who said so publicly), who believe so.

34. Not all Democrats think that Homeland Security should be held hostage to union collective bargaining demands, but it was only Democrats in Congress who opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security unless it contained a collective bargaining provision. Then they had the nerve to publicly demagogue the President because of his opposition to unionization of DHS.

35. Not all Democrats, when they’re unable to defend their positions, resort to calling their political opponents names, (ie: racist, bigot, homophobe, etc.) but this is a tactic used almost exclusively by Democrats.

36. Not all Democrats believe that America spreads nothing but evil and misery around the world, but it is only Democrats who believe this way.

37. Not all Democrats are oblivious to the Law of Diminishing Returns, but Democrats in particular seem not to understand this important concept as it applies to government spending related to problem solving. (ie: clean air and water)

38. Not all Democrats realize it yet, but their party has become defined, as the noted columnist Victor Davis Hanson so aptly put it, “by pampered New York metropolitan columnists, billionaire heiresses, financial speculators, and a weird assortment of embittered novelists, bored rock stars and out-of-touch Hollywood celebs”.

39. Not all Democrats see the desirable outcome of military conflict as an exit strategy rather than as victory, but it is almost exclusively Democrats who believe this way.

40. Not all Democrats believe the solution to energy independence is through restricting energy consumption and expanding alternative energy sources (don’t even get me started on their hypocrisy with regard to alternative sources) rather than by simply finding more existing sources of energy (or some combination of the three), but it is mostly Democrats who hold this view.

41. Not all Democrats compare Terrorists to our Revolutionary Minutemen and refer to them as “Freedom Fighters”, but it is only Democrats who have made such references publicly. (This comes in a close second to #17 in the offensive category) The real Freedom Fighters are the men and women of the United States Military. I challenge anyone who doubts this to make a side by side list of all the countries Islamic Terrorists have freed from oppression and the number that have been liberated by the US Military.

42. Not all Democrats believe the Boy Scouts is an evil organization, but the individuals in the ACLU who are waging all out war on the Boy Scouts are certainly not Republicans. As a former Eagle Scout, I am repulsed by the ACLU’s attempts to force ideologies on the Boy Scouts in the name of diversity that are inconsistent with their founding principles.

43. Not all Democrats preach tolerance but practice intolerance (of those who disagree with them), but Democrats have become highly skilled at such hypocrisy.

44. Not all Democrats value effort over results, but such a mindset has come to define the modern Democrat Party. I’m not sure if it’s because the Democrat Party is dominated by liberals who are more emotional and effort oriented, or if Democrats would rather just have specific problems as ongoing campaign issues instead of simply solving the problems in the first place. Either way it’s a difficult position to defend.

45. Not all Democrats are anti-Christian (in fact, many are devout Christians), but the anti-Christian vitriol and hostility coming from liberal Democrats is a poison that, if not checked, will lead to a marginalization from which The Democrat Party may not soon recover. One only needs to go online and read the Letters to the Editor page of any major newspaper or news magazine to see the extent of the problem.

46. Not all Democrats value equality over liberty, but I believe one of the main reasons the Democrat Party is in decline (anyone who doubts this must be living under a rock.) is the growing number of Democrats who believe equality trumps every other human condition. This kind of thinking breeds moral relativism, resulting in the elevation of immoral or amoral minorities at the expense of moral majorities.

47. Not all Democrats favor diplomatic negotiations over military victory as the surest road to lasting peace, but diplomacy clearly finds its home in the Democrat Party while history is emphatically on the side of victory.

48. Not all Democrats believe in a dependent society as opposed to an ownership society, but the opposition to President Bush’s proposals for Personal Retirement Accounts, Medical Savings Accounts and Lifetime Savings Accounts is almost exclusively by Democrats.

49. Not all Democrats confuse values with opinions, but the 2004 election proved that a large number of Democrats don’t know the difference. An opinion is what we think about an issue. Values concern what we know to be right, given what we have been taught – – religiously, ethically and morally. One can only hope that peoples’ values inform their opinions. Until a majority of Democrats understand this concept they will continue to lose elections.

50. And last but not least, not all Democrats eventually get fed up with the fact that their party has been hijacked by the lunatic fringe and become Republicans, but there are a lot more ex-Democrats in the Republican Party than the other way around. Kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

If you are a Democrat, do you admit to supporting the beliefs, principles, policies and positions stated here? If not, you are out of step with the leaders of your party. If you do, how do you defend your position without ignoring the facts and the truth? You ultimately risk being tied by interests you cannot or will not admit to arguments you cannot defend.

Ideology Open Thread

It’s been a while since we’ve had a purely ideological debate. Just for the sake of discussion, and in light of the new welcoming of progressive views here at B4V, let’s say that Conservatism as a political movement just folds up and gives Progressives free rein to do whatever they want. In one generation will America be more free or less free? Will America be more prosperous or less prosperous? Will American students graduating from high school and college be more educated or less educated? Will our air and water be cleaner or dirtier?  Will we make a seamless transition to alternate/renewable energy?  If so, will that mean abundant and economical energy or undependable and expensive energy?

I’m not looking so much for opinions on these dynamics as I am on evidence, either anecdotal or historical as well as new ideas, or, at least new approaches to old ideas that have never worked before, to support how a totally Progressive society might evolve over a generation. So have at it.  Liberals, here’s your chance to strut your stuff.  The only comments that will be deleted are those that resort to vulgar language and name calling.

Discussion with a Liberal — Part 3

Before I continue addressing your points, one more word about truth, because I suspect I’m somewhat unique in the way I approach truth, certainly, I would venture, compared to most people you know. It’s been my experience that the vast majority of people who involve themselves in political or philosophical debate tend to seek out information that supports their point of view and/or refutes their adversary’s point of view. Even I fall into that trap occasionally, as I suspect it’s human nature to not want to admit you’re wrong and someone else is right, which, in fact, dovetails with your original comments about how divided we are. My first reaction, however, is often to see if I can find concrete proof that my opponent is right. A good example of this was last year when you were uber-critical of Glenn Beck’s off-hand comment (which I had not heard first hand) on his radio show that the youth camp in Norway sounded like a Hitler Youth Camp. The first thing I did was find a sound clip, or transcript (don’t remember which) of what he said to see if you were correct. You were — he did say that. He didn’t really expand on it, however, and it appeared that it was just an isolated, reactionary comment, one in which your reaction was certainly understandable, given the circumstances of the mass murder there. Next I tried to find an article that analyzed the comment in an unbiased way, or, better yet, an explanation from Beck on why he would make such a comment in the first place. I never found any evidence of the latter, and the first 5 or 10 pages of a Google search all resulted in variations of or quotes from the same article (quite common when the Leftist blogosphere goes apoplectic over something a Conservative says or does), insinuating that Beck was an idiot and a monster for even making the comment. Eventually I did come across a foreign news service article that said while Beck’s comment may have been crass and insensitive it wasn’t that far off the mark. Now does that justify the mass killing that took place there? Of course not. I think sometimes everyone says things without thinking — I know I have.

Continuing on:

One of the things that has always puzzled me about laws, legislation and the rights granted by the Constitution is why do rights, seemingly granted under the Constitution have to subsequently be “granted” through extra legislation? Voting Rights legislation, Civil Rights legislation, Right of Women to Vote being primary examples of my concern in this area.

I think you need to differentiate between natural rights vs. legislated rights. Natural rights have to do with “unalienable” rights that you’re born with. Religious people often refer to them as “God-given rights”, but even atheists are born with the same “natural” rights, and these are spelled out in the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, aptly named “The Bill of Rights”. The Constitution tasks Congress with protecting those rights and prohibits the enactment of any legislation that would infringe on those rights. This is where I fundamentally disagree with Obama. He finds fault with the Constitution because he views it as an expression of “negative liberties”, ie. what the government cannot do to you, but doesn’t spell out what the government must do on your behalf. The main reason our federal government has grown so large and out of control with a corresponding exponential increase in debt, is that the government has increasingly involved itself in aspects of our lives that were never intended. The concept at the crux of the great American experiment — man governing himself, was that the power and scope of the central government needed to be about one notch above anarchy, and that most power would rest as close as possible to the people at the state and local level, and even with the people themselves. I think escaping that paradigm was probably what Obama meant the week before the 2008 election, when he said, “we are 5 days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” What did you think when you heard that, and were you were excited or apprehensive?

Interestingly, there was no right to “vote” guaranteed in the Constitution, and initially only free men who owned property could vote. That eliminated virtually all women and people of color, until Congress decided that everyone, regardless of gender or color, should be allowed to vote. But Congress didn’t create a new right; it expanded an existing right to include everyone.  The rationale for why it took a constitutional amendment to allow 18-year-olds to vote is also interesting:

It also seems strange to me that rights granted to individuals have now been granted to Corporations… What is that about? Citizens United being a primary example of the latest travesty in this arena.

It seemed strange to me too, until a started researching the decision. From everything I’ve read, the main justification was that Corporations are entities made up of people, just as labor unions are entities made up of people, and yet, in terms of political clout, they were not equal.  Citizens United was, in the end, about leveling the playing field. So, while I understand the rationale behind the decision, I don’t agree with it. My personal feeling is that neither corporations nor unions should be allowed to dump massive amounts of money into political campaigns, and certainly not without majority support of shareholders and union members.

Are these terms spelled out somewhere in the document or an Amendment? And if so, why can’t these be adjusted by the “will of the people” to remain viable in today’s culture of lobbyists and special interests?

As the SC has struck down previous attempts to legislate term limits, it appears it IS going to take a constitutional amendment. The problem with that is that constitutional amendments can only originate in Congress or at a constitutional convention, neither of which appears to be likely to happen any time soon.  And, actually, a Constitutional Convention would be a horrible idea, as it would open up the Constitution for all sorts of radical changes by whichever side gained control of the Convention.  Unless we get to a point where a majority in Congress puts the good of the country over their own personal self-interest, they will never legislate to diminish their own power.

Interesting that you use the word “agnostic” in terms of social issues. I’d only considered it in terms of religious views. Personally, I find the area of abortion a personal one and one that gets legislated strictly on behalf of religious moral views. I may not agree with the concept of abortion personally and, if there is truly separation of church and state then why are religious morals driving this issue? Seems the separation isn’t working as intended.

Agnostic may have been the wrong word. Perhaps “indifferent” would be more descriptive. There has never been a constitutional separation of church and state. The concept originated in a personal letter from Jefferson to, IIRC, a Baptist minister, and has evolved over nearly 2 centuries to mean that everyone has a right to not be exposed to anything religious (except, strangely enough, anything Muslim) in the public arena. I’m not a particularly religious person, at least not in terms of belonging to an organized religion — haven’t attended church regularly in over 30 years, but I’m not offended by public displays of faith, regardless of whose faith it is. The primary dynamic that brought people to this country in the 17th and 18th centuries was religious freedom.

And for gay marriage, just what is the basis for the furor? Who cares? Who would be harmed if this “right” were granted? Why does the right have to be granted at all? Why is the government meddling in the personal lives of its citizens? Again, I blame the religious extremists for continuing to pursue this vendetta. If love is universal and blind, who are these people to denigrate love between people of the same sex when love between a man and a woman is fraught with problems and such a high divorce rate? Heterosexual couples are in no position to speak about what is right for others at all.

 

We’ve had numerous discussions on the blog about homosexual marriage.  Personally, I’ve resolved myself to the fact it will eventually become as universally accepted as inter-racial marriage has.  I don’t view the two the same, but many people do, particularly people in their 40’s or younger.  Much of that has to do, IMO, with how the issue has been advanced in our educational system, as well as how the media, particularly the entertainment media, has worked hand in hand with the activist component of the homosexual community to ram the homosexual agenda down everyone’s throats at an ever-increasing pace.

The term “gay marriage” has more, I believe, to do with acceptance of the gay lifestyle as normal than it has to do with marriage per se.  Interestingly, most Conservatives I know (myself included) support civil unions for homosexuals that allow for all the legal advantages of normal married heterosexual couples.  What we object to is the hijacking of a many thousands-of-years-old term that denotes the best way to raise succeeding generations, something that, absent outside help, married couples of the same sex are biologically incapable of accomplishing.  Once the definition has been changed, what’s to prevent it from continuing to evolve to accommodate all sorts of variations — 3 men, 2 men and one woman, father and daughter, mother and son, and so on?  All sorts of abnormal relationships could be made normal by simply continuing to re-define the word marriage.

In the end, this is an issue that will be resolved, IMO, not by convincing those opposed to it to change their minds, but by the attrition of those who oppose it.  If it stops with the marriage of two people of the same sex, it may well become a permanent component of our society at large.  If it continues to evolve into marriage between anything and anyone, then I suspect it will eventually go the way of prohibition: a noble experiment with unforeseen and drastic unintended consequences.  Bottom line; I look at it just as I look at most controversial issues: how does it benefit civilization as a whole?  And I don’t think a convincing argument can be made that there is any significant benefit to the advancement of civilization.

Final note: I don’t know if there will be a part 4.  It kind of depends on his next response.

 

Discussion with a Liberal — Part 2

Wow, a lot of food for thought, and not something I have time to address all at once.

Yeah, I’m aware of the pitfalls of the Internet. As I said, I write for a blog, so I also visit other blogs and opinion sites, both Left and Right (Huffington Post and National Review, for example). I just use opinion sites to gauge what other people are saying. It’s not often I link to such sites to make a point unless it’s to highlight an interesting point that someone else has made.  Sites like Truth or Fiction, FactCheck.org and Snopes are fine for debunking erroneous information, but when I’m looking for the truth about something (the absolute truth, not someones version of it) I try to find original writings and original audio or video, both of which are not difficult to find if you know where and how to look.

There was a concerted effort on the part of Progressives beginning in the 30’s to re-write a lot of history, particularly political history, a largely underground movement originating with a handful of foundations (Carnegie, Ford, Rockefeller, etc.) I used to have an excellent hour and a half video interview archived with a prominent statesman who was recruited back in the 30’s to be an integral part of the effort, but I can’t seem to find it. That was a couple computers back. The interview was done in the early 80’s, and the gentleman died shortly after the interview. Fascinating stuff — if I find it, I’ll forward a link, as it explains a lot. Anyway, history continues to be distorted to advance political goals. If you’ve looked at an elementary or high school history book lately, you know what I mean. But the distortion today has gone way beyond re-writing history to blatant efforts by the likes of a major network like NBC editing audio, video and 911 calls to advance an agenda or make someone look bad — or keep someone from looking bad.

WRT the Constitution, I hold the entire document, including the 27 amendments, inviolate. The amendments aren’t footnotes, they’re permanent changes to the document to reflect changing times.  The entire document forms the rules by which we govern ourselves, or at least that was the original plan. The rules are either rigid, but with a formal means of amendment or we have no rule of law. America has been the greatest experiment in self-government in the history of the planet, but, beginning a century ago, when original interpretation gave way to case law and precedent, the whole thing began to go off the rails, to the point that, today a large portion of what the federal government does is not constitutional according to original intent. Now, that said, the evolution of the Constitution during the Progressive era is so much toothpaste that can’t be put back in the tube, although, theoretically, I guess, it’s possible for case law and precedent to swing the pendulum back the other way. It’s probably not going to happen absent some kind of societal upheaval or economic collapse, and many people smarter than I am think we are getting very close to just such an event. Although I agree with the building consensus among many economists and historians that an economic collapse is more likely than an insurrection, it’s not something I obsess about, as it’s totally beyond my control, and I learned a long time ago not to dwell on things beyond my control — just be the best I can be on any given day, treat others as I’d like to be treated, hope that I don’t screw up too often, and when I do, learn from it so I don’t make the same mistake again.

Today’s politicians simply ignore the Constitution most of the time — several have even admitted as much publicly. I don’t consider myself a constitutional scholar by any stretch of the imagination either, but I have put in a lot of study, attended a 2-day constitutional workshop sponsored by the Indiana Constitution Society in Indianapolis a couple years ago, and I’ve collaborated on several blog articles on different aspects of the Constitution. I have lots of Constitution-related resources archived, including a fully searchable file of the Federalist Papers, as well as the writings of Blackstone and Vatel. If you’re interested in understanding and learning more about the Constitution, the Federalist Papers are an excellent resource, because they explain, in the Founders own words, the rationale behind why the Constitution says what it says — a sort of reading between the lines of the Constitution, if you will. The original Federalist Papers are pretty heavy reading, but they were compiled into a book re-written in modern English a year or two ago. Once I’m retired (hopefully soon) I’m thinking of taking the free constitutional courses (101 & 102) offered by Hillsdale College on-line. Several of the people in my email forum have taken them, and have given them glowing reviews.

In college I had a major in Business Administration with a minor in Economics, and only an hour or two short of a dual minor in history, so this stuff has always fascinated me. I have always (well, for at least the last 20 years or so) attempted to have informed opinions. I think if everyone took that attitude, the world would be a whole lot better place. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, and, as you noted, some opinions stink. A good, historical example of informed vs. uninformed would be: “Washington was not a religious man” (uninformed opinion based on what someone else has written about Washington). “Washington prayed to and referenced God regularly, both publicly and privately.” (informed opinion, backed up by Washington’s own words and writings).

More of my response in Part 3

Discussion with a Liberal — Part 1

For the last few weeks I’ve been engaged in an interesting email conversation with a Liberal who happens to be the husband of an old girlfriend of mine from high school. She is a self-described “knee-jerk Liberal”, and detests discussing politics because, I suspect, she’s is unable to defend her “knee-jerk” positions. Her husband, OTOH, approached me a while back, lamenting the fact that we have become such a hopelessly divided nation, and wanting to know if I had any thoughts on the subject. I said I thought the biggest problem is that each side has some misperceptions of what the other side believes, which, more often than not, prevents any attempts to find common ground; misperceptions that are often exacerbated by an agenda-driven media in an effort to further divide us.  I suggested we engage in a one on one discussion on the condition that we keep it civil.  Upon his agreement to give it a try, I led off with the following:

Splendid.  I’ve never been accused of being an ideologue, and I detest confrontational arguments that almost always end up in name-calling.  I look at political debate, first and foremost, as a learning and mind-expanding experience, rather than a win or lose situation, and, as a result, my thinking on a number of issues has changed over the years.  I have neither tolerance nor respect for people who lie or distort the facts to score political points.  For most of my life I was an unexamined Republican until this marvelous thing called the Internet came along, and I was able to not only question everything I heard, read and saw, but was able to at least attempt to search for the truth.  That the truth doesn’t have an agenda and doesn’t need a majority to prevail has become somewhat of my personal motto, and that’s the lens through which I try to examine every issue.

I view the Constitution as a contract between the government and the people by whose consent the government exists, not perfect, but better than any other governing document ever produced.  To anyone who says the Constitution is a living document that needs to change with the whims of the times by legislation, executive order or judicial fiat, I ask, would you work for me with a “living” employment contract, or borrow money from me with a “living” loan contract, or play poker with me using “living” rules?  I have yet to get a yes to those questions — from anyone.

On social issues, I’m pretty much an agnostic.  Neither the Constitution, nor any of the Founders in any of their writings addressed a need for the federal government to be involved in social issues, and I regret that issues like abortion and gay marriage are allowed to play such a predominant role in national politics.

Hopefully that gives you some idea of where I’m coming from.  What drives how you look at politics?

His response was not really what I expected, and, although he denies being a Liberal at the end, he voted for Obama — twice, an admission of sorts that he supports an uber-liberal agenda. Continue reading

Can You Guess Who?

I got this idea from a member of the BlogsforVictory Google Group.  I’ve redacted details that would give the answer away.

WITH THE FEDERAL DEBT spiraling out of control, many Americans sense an urgent need to find a political leader who is able to say “no” to spending. Yet they fear that finding such a leader is impossible. Conservatives long for another Ronald Reagan. But is Reagan the right model? He was of course a tax cutter, reducing the top marginal rate from 70 to 28 percent. But his tax cuts—which vindicated supply-side economics by vastly increasing federal revenue—were bought partly through a bargain with Democrats who were eager to spend that revenue. Reagan was no budget cutter—indeed, the federal budget rose by over a third during his administration.

An alternative model for conservatives is [redacted]. President from [redacted], [Redacted] sustained a budget surplus and left office with a smaller budget than the one he inherited. Over the same period, America experienced a proliferation of jobs, a dramatic increase in the standard of living, higher wages, and three to four percent annual economic growth. And the key to this was [redacted] penchant for saying “no.” If Reagan was the Great Communicator, [redacted] was the Great Refrainer.
Following [redacted], the federal debt stood ten times higher than before the [redacted], and it was widely understood that the debt burden would become unbearable if interest rates rose. At the same time, the top income tax rate was over 70 percent, veterans were having trouble finding work, prices had risen while wages lagged, and workers in Seattle, New York, and Boston were talking revolution and taking to the streets. The [redacted] administration had nationalized the railroads for a time at the end of the [redacted], and had encouraged stock exchanges to shut down for a time, and Progressives were now pushing for state or even federal control of water power and electricity. The business outlook was grim, and one of the biggest underlying problems was the lack of an orderly budgeting process: Congress brought proposals to the White House willy-nilly, and they were customarily approved.

The Republican Party’s response in the [redacted] election was to campaign for smaller government and for a return to what its presidential candidate, [redacted], dubbed “normalcy”—a curtailing of government interference in the economy to create a predictable environment in which business could confidently operate. [Redacted], a Massachusetts governor who had gained a national reputation by facing down a Boston police strike—“There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time,” he had declared—was chosen to be [redacted] running mate. And following their victory, [redacted] inaugural address set a different tone from that of the outgoing [redacted] administration (and from that of the Obama administration today): “No altered system,” [redacted] said, “will work a miracle. Any wild experiment will only add to the confusion. Our best assurance lies in efficient administration of our proven system.”

One of [redacted] first steps was to shepherd through Congress the Budget and Accounting Act of [redacted], under which the executive branch gained authority over and took responsibility for the budget, even to the point of being able to impound money after it was budgeted. This legislation also gave the executive branch a special budget bureau—the forerunner to today’s Office of Management and Budget—over which [redacted] named a flamboyant Brigadier General, [redacted], as director. Together they proceeded to summon department staff and their bosses to semiannual meetings at Continental Hall, where [redacted] cajoled and shamed them into making spending cuts. In addition, [redacted] pushed through a tax cut, lowering the top rate to 58 percent; and in a move toward privatization, he proposed to sell off naval petroleum reserves in Wyoming to private companies.

Is there any doubt that history repeats itself?  Read the whole piece here, and pray that another [redacted] comes along soon.