Open Thread

Yes, I did celebrate Columbus Day. He did absolutely nothing wrong and the long-term effects of his actions were splendid for the entire world. I think we should have Cortez Day, too…unless someone wants to argue we should have seen how a civilization which ripped out living human hearts and then ate the corpses would have developed.

Harvey Weinstein is just what happens when money becomes the most important thing in the world – he had control of bags of money, and so was allowed to get away with things poor people can’t. I know my fellow Conservatives will get angry with me over this, but the solution to this isn’t a host of new laws, but just one law: tax away excess wealth. Heck, don’t even call it “taxation”…call it what it would be, “confiscation”. Confiscate every cent over, say, $100 million – and then bundle it up in to $100,000.00 increments and give it out via a lottery system using SSN’s to random American citizen adults. This is Redistribution…a key element in a Distributist system. A hundred million dollar fortune is still quite a lot – we’d still have a host of rich people. But not so many people so rich that they can easily buy their way out of trouble…nor buy massive influence in government. And passing the cash around to regular folks would allow a host of new things to rise…things rich people can’t imagine, because they don’t care about. This is the way things work, by the way, people: freedom allows wealth to concentrate and then the concentrated wealth must be broken up to ensure the long-term health of the society. It was when the Romans stopped periodically breaking up the great concentrations of wealth that they started to die. When would the re-concentration begin? As soon as you finished redistribution…but the immense imbalance we have now would take a century to reproduce itself and, meanwhile, the redistribution would allow a lot of new blood to enter the ranks of the rich…new blood which, at least for a while, would not think of itself as special just because it has money.

Twitter banned an ad by GOP Senate Candidate Marsha Blackburn – the reason being that Blackburn made an anti-abortion statement that Twitter considers inflammatory. This, of course, is just Progressive fascism – and thing we’re used to. Twitter, being run by Progs, also didn’t have the wit to understand that the ban would just make everyone watch it on different platforms…Blackburn should send a thank you letter. I’ve seen the ad – Blackburn is no squish. We need her in the Senate, and having her as the replacement for Corker will just make it all that much better. I kinda imagine that this is what Amazona would say, if she ran for Senate.

Texans don’t seem to mind carrying guns around.

President Trump and Vice President Pence had laid out a strong plan for space exploration. Glenn Reynolds points out that it can help the national spirit when we take on such grand tasks. I agree – but I think we should advance things in the time line. Won’t really cost too much more money to, say, get us to Mars by 2027.

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29 thoughts on “Open Thread

  1. Cluster October 10, 2017 / 8:59 am

    Some random thoughts –

    I thought yesterday was Indigenous Peoples Day. No? So hard to keep up any more.

    Mitch McConnell is so incompetent that he has effectively made Chuck Schumer the de facto leader of the Senate. I am honestly very disappointed with the incompetence if not the down right dishonesty of the GOP.

    I saw a report on MSNBC claiming Trump will have a hard time passing his agenda because of all the inflammatory things he has said – meaning he has hurt some peoples feelings. Who F***ING cares about peoples feelings? We are all grown adults, and if you can’t handle getting your feelings hurt, then STAY HOME. This is what I mean when I say that we have become a society of emotionally challenged 12 year old children and that will be our downfall.

    And Mark, I don’t know what to think of your redistribution plan just yet, but will give it some thought before commenting. I can envision a lot of unintended consequences though.

    • Retired Spook October 10, 2017 / 11:51 am

      Mitch McConnell is so incompetent that he has effectively made Chuck Schumer the de facto leader of the Senate. I am honestly very disappointed with the incompetence if not the down right dishonesty of the GOP.

      Kinda makes you wish we had a viable third choice, doesn’t it? The problem is that the majority of Americans are perfectly content with the establishment of the two parties, not so much because they agree with them but because they don’t really care.

      And Mark, I don’t know what to think of your redistribution plan just yet, but will give it some thought before commenting. I can envision a lot of unintended consequences though.

      I had much the same thought, although I also see Mark’s point about massive wealth having an unequal influence in the way government functions and who runs it. I don’t think the answer is as simple as taxing away wealth. The founders, particularly Jefferson, thought that “the tree of liberty” would have to be “watered with the blood of tyrants” every generation or two. Had we done that, starting a generation before the Civil War and every time after that government tried to take more power than what was granted to it by the Constitution, we probably wouldn’t be where we are today. But those who have run government counted on complacency and apathy of the majority of citizens to allow incremental growth of the power and scope of government, a dynamic that began almost before the ink was dry on the Constitution. I still think the most likely next step is some kind of armed conflict, although I would also like nothing more than to be wrong about that. I do think society in general is headed toward some sort of cross road and Herbert Stein’s Law will prevail in multiple areas of our lives.

      • M. Noonan October 10, 2017 / 11:52 pm

        That is why I became a Distributist – I’ve quote it before, and I’ll keep on quoting it:

        Here, it may be said, my book ends just where it ought to begin. I have said that the strong centers of modern English property must swiftly or slowly be broken up, if even the idea of property is to remain among Englishmen. There are two ways in which it could be done, a cold administration by quite detached officials, which is called Collectivism, or a personal distribution, so as to produce what is called Peasant Proprietorship. I think the latter solution the finer and more fully human, because it makes each man as somebody blamed somebody for saying of the Pope, a sort of small god. A man on his own turf tastes eternity or, in other words, will give ten minutes more work than is required. But I believe I am justified in shutting the door on this vista of argument, instead of opening it. For this book is not designed to prove the case for Peasant Proprietorship, but to prove the case against modern sages who turn reform to a routine. The whole of this book has been a rambling and elaborate urging of one purely ethical fact. And if by any chance it should happen that there are still some who do not quite see what that point is, I will end with one plain parable, which is none the worse for being also a fact.

        A little while ago certain doctors and other persons permitted by modern law to dictate to their shabbier fellow-citizens, sent out an order that all little girls should have their hair cut short. I mean, of course, all little girls whose parents were poor. Many very unhealthy habits are common among rich little girls, but it will be long before any doctors interfere forcibly with them. Now, the case for this particular interference was this, that the poor are pressed down from above into such stinking and suffocating underworlds of squalor, that poor people must not be allowed to have hair, because in their case it must mean lice in the hair. Therefore, the doctors propose to abolish the hair. It never seems to have occurred to them to abolish the lice. Yet it could be done. As is common in most modern discussions the unmentionable thing is the pivot of the whole discussion. It is obvious to any Christian man (that is, to any man with a free soul) that any coercion applied to a cabman’s daughter ought, if possible, to be applied to a Cabinet Minister’s daughter. I will not ask why the doctors do not, as a matter of fact apply their rule to a Cabinet Minister’s daughter. I will not ask, because I know. They do not because they dare not. But what is the excuse they would urge, what is the plausible argument they would use, for thus cutting and clipping poor children and not rich? Their argument would be that the disease is more likely to be in the hair of poor people than of rich. And why? Because the poor children are forced (against all the instincts of the highly domestic working classes) to crowd together in close rooms under a wildly inefficient system of public instruction; and because in one out of the forty children there may be offense. And why? Because the poor man is so ground down by the great rents of the great ground landlords that his wife often has to work as well as he. Therefore she has no time to look after the children, therefore one in forty of them is dirty. Because the workingman has these two persons on top of him, the landlord sitting (literally) on his stomach, and the schoolmaster sitting (literally) on his head, the workingman must allow his little girl’s hair, first to be neglected from poverty, next to be poisoned by promiscuity, and, lastly, to be abolished by hygiene. He, perhaps, was proud of his little girl’s hair. But he does not count.

        Upon this simple principle (or rather precedent) the sociological doctor drives gayly ahead. When a crapulous tyranny crushes men down into the dirt, so that their very hair is dirty, the scientific course is clear. It would be long and laborious to cut off the heads of the tyrants; it is easier to cut off the hair of the slaves. In the same way, if it should ever happen that poor children, screaming with toothache, disturbed any schoolmaster or artistic gentleman, it would be easy to pull out all the teeth of the poor; if their nails were disgustingly dirty, their nails could be plucked out; if their noses were indecently blown, their noses could be cut off. The appearance of our humbler fellow-citizen could be quite strikingly simplified before we had done with him. But all this is not a bit wilder than the brute fact that a doctor can walk into the house of a free man, whose daughter’s hair may be as clean as spring flowers, and order him to cut it off. It never seems to strike these people that the lesson of lice in the slums is the wrongness of slums, not the wrongness of hair. Hair is, to say the least of it, a rooted thing. Its enemy (like the other insects and oriental armies of whom we have spoken) sweep upon us but seldom. In truth, it is only by eternal institutions like hair that we can test passing institutions like empires. If a house is so built as to knock a man’s head off when he enters it, it is built wrong.

        The mob can never rebel unless it is conservative, at least enough to have conserved some reasons for rebelling. It is the most awful thought in all our anarchy, that most of the ancient blows struck for freedom would not be struck at all to-day, because of the obscuration of the clean, popular customs from which they came. The insult that brought down the hammer of Wat Tyler might now be called a medical examination. That which Virginius loathed and avenged as foul slavery might now be praised as free love. The cruel taunt of Foulon, “Let them eat grass,” might now be represented as the dying cry of an idealistic vegetarian. Those great scissors of science that would snip off the curls of the poor little school children are ceaselessly snapping closer and closer to cut off all the corners and fringes of the arts and honors of the poor. Soon they will be twisting necks to suit clean collars, and hacking feet to fit new boots. It never seems to strike them that the body is more than raiment; that the Sabbath was made for man; that all institutions shall be judged and damned by whether they have fitted the normal flesh and spirit. It is the test of political sanity to keep your head. It is the test of artistic sanity to keep your hair on.

        Now the whole parable and purpose of these last pages, and indeed of all these pages, is this: to assert that we must instantly begin all over again, and begin at the other end. I begin with a little girl’s hair. That I know is a good thing at any rate. Whatever else is evil, the pride of a good mother in the beauty of her daughter is good. It is one of those adamantine tendernesses which are the touchstones of every age and race. If other things are against it, other things must go down. If landlords and laws and sciences are against it, landlords and laws and sciences must go down. With the red hair of one she-urchin in the gutter I will set fire to all modern civilization. Because a girl should have long hair, she should have clean hair; because she should have clean hair, she should not have an unclean home: because she should not have an unclean home, she should have a free and leisured mother; because she should have a free mother, she should not have an usurious landlord; because there should not be an usurious landlord, there should be a redistribution of property; because there should be a redistribution of property, there shall be a revolution. That little urchin with the gold-red hair, whom I have just watched toddling past my house, she shall not be lopped and lamed and altered; her hair shall not be cut short like a convict’s; no, all the kingdoms of the earth shall be hacked about and mutilated to suit her. She is the human and sacred image; all around her the social fabric shall sway and split and fall; the pillars of society shall be shaken, and the roofs of ages come rushing down, and not one hair of her head shall be harmed.

        The rich do what the rich do – in all ages and all times. Those who build the wealth are usually, at least in some ways, human…but once we get to the third or fourth generation of concentrated wealth, what we have are people with no sense of responsibility. People who are bored. Hedonistic. And being hedonistic – which no one really wants to be – they try to find some way to justify their lives…not by changing themselves (“sell all you have, and give it to the poor”…), but by changing others. Others they don’t know and don’t actually care about. Their money becomes a means by which other bored people, but people with wicked intent, burrow their way into power and then cause all manner of evil to occur. Something has to be done – and that something is a revolution.

        Fortunately, we still have in our American system the means of doing that peacefully – an Article V action, though some scholars say it would be necessarily limited, can actually go and do whatever it wants…as long as the result is properly ratified by the States, it becomes the law of the land. But the first step is to realize that the system as operated is rotten to the core. Had we a nation of Amazona’s, it’d all be different – she sees the law and says, “that is the law: do it. If you don’t like it, change it via law”. But people do get lazy and greedy…and as wealth concentrates, people are able to twist the system. The solution is to reform the system – in the original sense of the word: to return it, as far as practical, back to its original form. We can do it – I think we will do it. But, time will tell.

      • Amazona October 11, 2017 / 2:37 pm

        Reforming the system—taking it back to its original form—would preclude your scheme of arbitrary and forced redistribution of other peoples’ property.

        It is tempting to pass judgment on the actions of others and to conclude that “something must be done”. The problem lies in finding what CAN be done that does not involve tyranny.

        I supposed one might claim that there is an element of tyranny in making any law, as a law is the imposition of a value on others. We used to try to walk that fine line between having laws that protect and laws that oppress. Now we are moving into the area of laws that oppress by imposing not objective values, such as the one saying it is wrong to kill people, and instead passing laws that are based on subjective values. Feelings. Being offended by something. A sense that something just isn’t fair.

      • Amazona October 11, 2017 / 3:16 pm

        When the Founders looked at the system excoriated in the quote (which, by the way, I found creepy..) they didn’t say to themselves or each other “Let’s come up with a system that imposes even more rules and restricts even more freedoms, by imposing a series of confiscatory policies that will be run by human beings who, for some reason, will be closer to perfect and will therefore never subject it to abuses”.

        No, they looked at this kind of system and realized that it didn’t exist because there weren’t enough ways for government to rule the everyday lives of people, it existed because it didn’t offer people the freedom to move upward and out of poverty.

        So they designed a system that would do that. And it worked. It did not impose a standard of living or a set of values on anyone, and it did not say that people could only acquire so much of an asset before having the government take it away and redistribute it. No, they wisely avoided those pitfalls, realizing that that way lay tyranny, even though cloaked in pious claims of fairness. They designed a system in which the government cannot impose its will on people, and left it to people to sort it out. And, people being people, some did a good job and some didn’t. That is the price of freedom—a lot of people will make decisions we don’t like and act in ways we don’t approve of. Some of us might think that others aren’t doing things the “right” way, but so far at least, thank God, we have not been given the authority to impose our own sense of what is right upon them. We just have to live with the slightly messy and sometimes offensive reality of freedom.

        I do have to wonder why you have to rely on a screed written in a period and nation which have nothing to do with ours, based on political and social systems we don’t share.

  2. Amazona October 10, 2017 / 8:20 pm

    After reading the response of Lansing Catholic HIgh School to players who said they intended to “take a knee” at the next game during the playing of the national anthe. I was moved to write to the school They may ignore me, but at least there is a chance the letter will be read, unlike any effort to communicate with a sports team or anyone in government.

    Let me begin by saying I appreciate the position taken by Lansing Catholic.

    The story does not go into how the school addressed the protests when talking with the students. I have been following this movement since it began, and am frustrated because so far I am not aware of anyone addressing the fact that while protesting injustice is a good thing, the choice of how to protest is the issue.

    Choosing to disrespect the anthem, and the flag, and by extension the country, is basically saying that the United States of America, as a country, is responsible for whatever wrong the person might be protesting. This is a very easy falsehood to rebut. Bigotry, prejudice, discrimination all exist, but they exist as personal acts of individuals, not as government policy. This is where these well-meaning “protesters” get it wrong. They may be targeting the right injustices to condemn, but they are condemning the wrong target.

    As a school, you have the opportunity to challenge these students to identify the wrongs to which they believe they are objecting (you can see my own Catholic school background in my grammar…) and point out that they are not the result of government policy. Your quarterback echoed what many other black people have said—that no one else has experience what they have. I am sure this is true, but I wonder if they have given any thought to the vast number of people who can say the same thing, regarding different circumstances.

    People with disabilities experience all kinds of discrimination all the time, sometimes purposeful and sometimes inadvertent but still being treated differently and sometimes disrespectfully. Should they disrespect the anthem and flag of the nation in which they have laws to protect them and policies to assist them, because some individuals are cruel or thoughtless? That doesn’t make sense. As a woman, I have experienced things no man has experienced, including job discrimination and vulgarity and sexual harassment, yet I understand these are not due to the existence of the United States of America or any government policy—they are the acts of individuals. You can pick any demographic, whether it be religious, ethnic, physical, regional, etc. and find some form or example of “discrimination”. Listen to Jeff Foxworthy to find comments about a demographic he calls “rednecks”—-should people from certain parts of the country or certain cultures “take a knee” and disrespect the anthem, the flag and the country itself because they are offended?

    This is a great opportunity for you, as educators, to lead your students into valuable and productive thought processes. Does the United States, as an entity, act as an oppressor of any minority? In what way? What steps has the government taken to protect minorities and assure equal treatment AS FAR AS THE GOVERNMENT MAY DO SO——pointing out that the government simply cannot control the actions of individuals beyond a certain point. How far would they want their government to go to control the words and actions of individuals? Would they want to live in a nation which had so much control over so many elements of peoples’ lives? Are there examples of nations which have tried to control the actions, speech and even thoughts of individuals? What was it like to live in those countries? Have they thought about the ramifications of allowing any government to make decisions about what is and what is not “acceptable” behavior and speech? How this might be appealing when those decision-makers are in agreement with the students, but what about a later date when people with opposing beliefs and points of view have the same powers? Is there a right to not be offended? How extensive is this right? Why is being offended now considered to be an intolerable burden? Is demanding that one never be offended the same thing as imposing your own feelings and standards on others? And so on.

    Should you desire, you could go on to point out the silliness of so much dissent these days, such as the “cultural appropriation” fuss. Is it better for each race or ethnicity to have its own proprietary concepts, such as dreadlocks or hoop earrings, or would be be better country if everyone shared and respected the elements of different cultures and backgrounds. After years of fighting segregation, do they want to return to “separate but equal”?

    Professional coaches don’t have the opportunity or ability to engage their protesting players in these kinds of dialogues, but you, as educators, do. This “take a knee” fad, along with the silliness of so many complaints, may run its course, but you have the opportunity to educate and lead your students into applying actual thought and analysis to situations and showing them the dangers of acting on emotion alone. I want to think that teaching how to think is still a function of Catholic schools People who can’t or don’t think and analyze, who just stay on the surface of something and accept it at face value, are easily led sheep. A great example is the vast number of people who think that “English as the official language” means only English can be spoken—a horribly misleading and divisive spin on the concept, and one that might lead to a protest, when in fact it merely means that the government is not required to function in any language other than English. These kinds of distortions are creating chaos and conflict in our country, as we can see with the “take a knee” movement, and you are in the enviable position of being able to use this whole phenomenon as a teaching tool.

  3. Cluster October 11, 2017 / 8:37 am

    Well first of all, that was an outstanding letter Amazona and I am wanting to know if and how they respond.

    Secondly re: redistribution of generational wealth which I don’t entirely disagree with although I have always subscribed to the notion that a fool and his money are soon parted, and many of these second and third generation wealthy children are indeed fools. My proposal however, if we were to go there, would be to redistribute the wealth via no interest SBA loans administered at the State level for entrepreneurs to have easier access to capital. Secondly, I would create a “rainy day” fund for the indigent and folks in real need which would be administered at the County level.

    Finally, I just have to laugh when watching the progressive media. Despite 3% GDP growth (which they said would never happen), rising consumer confidence, domestic energy exploration and extraction at all time highs, ISIS fighters in Iraq surrendering en masse, China now cooperating with us on North Korea, illegal immigration levels at all time lows, and completion of the border wall in progress, all the progressive media can talk about is who doesn’t like who in DC.

    • Amazona October 11, 2017 / 2:30 pm

      Mark, when you talk of taking away the property of some people to redistribute to others in the name of fairness, I simply cannot separate this idea from all the other times this has been proposed. always with the same claim of “fairness” and always with the same problems.

      Why is it ever fair to confiscate the property of someone else because ownership of that property violates someone else’s sense of what is “fair”? Where does it end? You want to start with money, with an arbitrary limit set by some government functionary. Yeah, like that has always worked out so well. And then what? Amount of property? Size of home? How many shoes is it “fair” to own, who gets to decide, who gets to pick out which will be confiscated, who gets to decide who will get the confiscated shoes?

      It always comes down to someone making a decision for someone else. In this case, it would come down to a vast expansion of the scope of government authority, into an area clearly forbidden by the 10th Amendment, designed to infringe upon the rights of some with the claim that it would be OK because it would help someone else—with government doing the deciding.

      No matter how piously the motive may be cloaked in a desire to be “fair” it always—-ALWAYS—comes back to government taking away some liberty from someone and making a decision about what to do with what has been taken. Just as the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the road to tyranny is embarked upon with expressions of just wanting to be “fair”, at least when “fairness” has involved the government making decisions like this.

      Just curious—can any of you think of a single example of when this idea has worked well? Isn’t this just another example of the thinking that says “Well, yeah, that principle has always led to disaster, but that’s just because it wasn’t done right, and by golly now we can do it right”.

      Every time I hear about wanting to take money from others because of a feeling these people have “too much” I see the green-eyed monster much more clearly than I see “fairness”. It also always comes down to the zero sum concept—-there is a finite amount of money and if X has “too much” then Y and Z have to have less. I don’t agree with that.

      There is a concept of lifting up the bottom, and then there is the concept of pulling down the top. I have never liked the latter, and have always felt that the United States became the powerhouse of economic success and opportunity because of the former.

      • M. Noonan October 13, 2017 / 11:58 pm

        It really comes down to the Kelo v City of New London decision. In that case, to remind, the State proposed to take away the private property of some citizens and hand it over to other citizens who promised to provide great tax revenue to the State in return for this bit of larceny. Both a State Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court ruled that this was valid under the United States Constitution. What are we do to? Enact an amendment saying that private property can only be taken for public purposes? We already have that in the 5th Amendment…all that was required was for someone in government to arbitrarily say that “public purpose” included handing off the property to another private entity as long as it could in theory be in the public’s interest…because government says having higher tax revenue from the property is in the public’s interest. Now, you and I know that this is entire nonsense…but so it went. And what really made it go that way? A bunch of people with buckets of money simply purchased the power of government in order to dispossess some freeborn American citizens of their property. How do you propose to prevent this? Making more laws which the rich can then purchase an exemption from?

        As noted in the post, I admire your commitment to the law as it is written – it is one of the main reasons you are a delight to read here in the comments. But I think we’re in a situation where the very concept of law is null and void in the United States. We see this not just in things like the Kelo decision, but in things like Hillary skating even though her massive violations of law are obvious. She’s got money; or has got access to money from people who hope to use her influence in government to usurp the power of government for their own ends. It all works out the same – the law is suspended. How to enforce it? How, that is, to ensure that when we turn the light of justice in that direction, it won’t be shut off by a bucket of money? I can’t see what other we can do than to make sure that no one has quite that large a bucket.

        That quote was written by Chesterton so early in the 20th century that the Communists were still commonly referred to have Bolsheviks. He simply did not know at the time how the Collectivist attempt would work out – though he clearly thought it would work out badly in the long run. But, unlike Chesterton, we can now also better see how unfettered private wealth also works out – the horrible state of our society is not really the result of public choice: it is something foisted upon the public by very rich interests who wanted filth and debt and greed to prevail because they felt they could make more money off that. Using money for relentless advertising (Big Lie propaganda, that is), the very rich suckered people into living the way they live. Not all of them – heck, at this moment in the United States, still not quite a majority – but so many that we see what we see all around us. People who don’t even know what they are, or where they came from, or what constitutes a happy and decent life. If we are to survive as a free people – if we are to avoid things like civil war and violent revolution – then we simply must cut off the things which are destroying us. And I can’t think of any other way than by taking away the money of those who has so much of it that they are able to purchase power.

        Thirty years ago, if we had a Conservatism which was relentless in the fight – had we, that is, had worthy successors of Ronald Reagan – we might have been able to right things with less drastic measures. But in my view, it is too late for that, now. If things keep on, then eventually a majority will be utterly demoralized, and then the people will vote in an American version of Hugo Chavez. And in that situation, most of those who are very rich today will remain very rich then – because they will buy off the new regime and make noises in it’s favor. The few remaining middle class people will be crushed – buried under a mindless mass of poor people suckered into a political movement, all lead by the very same rich people who suckered the poor to begin with.

        I’ve been saying for some time that de-funding the left is the only way to destroy it – and, yes, government funding is a huge part of that. But can we really de-fund the left when the left has money-bags who will go to the mat with lobbyists in DC to preserve their government funding? The two things live and die together – unless both of them go, neither will go.

        Now, to be sure, I’ll never get any legislative majority in favor of confiscating 90% of Bill Gates’ money – but I can, I think, start eliminating things like tax free foundations; I can get a wealth tax which would punish people for keeping money in a tax dodge; we can start taxing the the profits of State and municipal bonds; we can eliminate the deduction for State income taxes. We can, that is, start to cut at the heart of the system which is destroying our nation. But it takes a mental wrench…a willingness to no longer see a private corporation or a private multi-billion pile of wealth as sacrosanct.

      • Amazona October 16, 2017 / 3:45 pm

        Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Mark, as well as the kind words.

        Regarding your reference to Kelo: I don’t think you can repair a system by building on its mistakes. Kelo was wrong. Justice Thomas spoke to this in strong terms.

        Thomas also issued a separate originalist dissent, in which he argued that the precedents the court’s decision relied upon were flawed. He accuses the majority of replacing the Fifth Amendment’s “Public Use” clause with a very different “public purpose” test:
        “This deferential shift in phraseology enables the Court to hold, against all common sense, that a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation, is for a ‘public use.”

        Thomas additionally observed:
        “Something has gone seriously awry with this Court’s interpretation of the Constitution. Though citizens are safe from the government in their homes, the homes themselves are not.”

        I think that any effort to confiscate any private property is going to depend on very similar “shift in phraseology” in an effort to create distance between it and other forms of government confiscation.

        I think every decision to allow government to decide, for the people, what is best for them, and to enforce that claim with the authority of the government, has begun with the belief, probably sincere, that this is a necessary thing to make things better. And every such effort has led to loss of liberty and growth in government power and authority.

        I believe that one of the most damaging and malignant forces in this nation in the last hundred years or so, that has created the most divisiveness and resentment as groups of Americans are turned against each other, has been the promotion of class warfare. It is corrosive and undermines the very nature of what it means to share citizenship in this country, as it pits American against American based on wealth. It assigns value and virtue to some levels of wealth and malignancy and evil to others, without the concept that money is not necessarily related to either good or bad. We have seen whole presidential elections swayed by playing on the emotions of the surly, as we saw in the defeat of Romney due in great part to the perception that he was just too rich, while Obama callously pitched a lot of his campaign to the poor, pitting one economic class against another. We see it used daily, in Leftist screeds, and recognize it there when it occurs. Even the Left’s efforts to pit races against each other has deep roots in class hatred, in feeling that the Haves need to be brought down.

        The very term “wealth tax” plays to this attitude, just as much as words and phrases about race or ethnic background. I think it appeals to the worst of human nature, not the best. We no longer talk about how to raise ourselves to higher levels, we now talk about how to bring those above us down to our own level. I think that is an attitude that will doom us, whether it applies to money or education or any other quality.

        The very term “wealth tax” is offensive to me, because it plays into that surly resentment of class envy that is already undermining this country. What is wrong with wealth? Great wealth, held by individuals, has added to the richness of American culture. We may not have Carnegie libraries now, but for decades Carnegie’s contribution to the literacy of America was immeasurable.

        What you are talking about is an objection to the way some wealth is used, in this case to gain power. But what about others, who have different objections? What about objecting to great wealth being used to support Catholic Relief projects around the world? You know there are some who would find that offensive and want to restrict it. There are dozens, if not more, examples of areas in which great wealth can be applied, and often has been applied, to the concern and resentment of many while benefiting many others.

        So who would be the arbiter of the essential details of this massive redistribution of wealth? We all know that would depend on the biases and personal agendas of those in charge, as humans will always steer toward what THEY find important.

        Once somebody—ANY “somebody” says “I don’t like what he is doing with his money so I am not going to let him do it” the door is open to myriad abuses. You say ”’…the horrible state of our society is not really the result of public choice: it is something foisted upon the public by very rich interests who wanted filth and debt and greed to prevail because they felt they could make more money off that.” and I am rather appalled by that cynical statement. I’m not sure just who would make money off filth, for example.

        I suggest that the horrible state of our society can’t be laid at the feet of the very rich, but is the result of a brilliant century-long campaign of public misinformation and emotional manipulation by power-hungry demagogues who have been, for the most part, unopposed because those who would oppose them are not united by a strong unifying counter-ideology. The organized, unified, focused ideology will always prevail over the chaotic, rather confused and disorganized belief system, and we see every day proof that the upper levels of Leftist ideology are quite organized and focused while the upper levels of what should be opposing them are still bumping into each other and arguing about wallpaper and curtains instead of shoring up the foundation of the house and making sure the roof doesn’t leak. That is not because of money: It is because of leadership. And it is because of communication. Sure, the big money on the Left can buy a lot of air time, but that would matter less if we only had a couple of coherent voices on our side.

        This has led to the disintegration of our educational system, which has become little more than a tool of Leftist indoctrination. It has led to loss of respect for the very concept of religion, not to mention commitment to any religion or religious belief—-and that has led to a hedonistic, relativistic mentality that is a rich breeding ground for Leftist notions.

        It’s not just about money, or who has it or how it is used. It is about coherence. Listen to the Leftist drumbeat—it has only a few topics, and they are relentlessly repeated, over and over again. Racist—and variations on the theme, such as white supremacy and BLM—-and Income Inequality are the cornerstones of Leftist propaganda. What does the Right have? Tax reform—maybe, kinda. Immigration reform—-maybe, kinda. Job creation—-only appeals to those who want to work.

        We got the House, we got the Senate, we got the White House, in spite of stepping on our own feet, and we still stumble around. That is not because the other guys are spending too much money. But I guarantee, if money-grabbing were to become law, prompted by that populist appeal of “wealth tax” and promises that the confiscated money would only be used for really really really good things, it will be a very short time till it is used to fund abortions, pump up welfare, etc. Because “really really really good things” lie in the eye of the beholder, and as we have seen with the blithe ignoring of the Constitution, any law can be bent and twisted as long as the interpreters of the law are on the “right” side.

        The Founders knew what they were doing, or at least trying to do.

    • Amazona October 11, 2017 / 2:41 pm

      many of these second and third generation wealthy children are indeed fools

      I guess I missed the part of our Constitution that says people don’t have the right to be fools. Or stupid. Uh-oh…sounds like we need a government agency to define foolishness and impose some sort of penalty for being stupid.

      Yeah, what we need is more rules in this country establishing what people can and cannot do. It’s not like making rules about what people can and cannot say, or think, or how they have to live their lives.

      • Cluster October 11, 2017 / 2:55 pm

        A fool and his money are soon parted sans any government intervention

    • Retired Spook October 11, 2017 / 4:07 pm

      Why is it ever fair to confiscate the property of someone else because ownership of that property violates someone else’s sense of what is “fair”? Where does it end?

      The problem with the entire concept is that is would be formulated and administered by humans, elected humans but humans nonetheless. It would also likely be enforced by UN-elected humans (IRS) As the old saying goes, “what could possibly go wrong?”

  4. Cluster October 11, 2017 / 3:32 pm

    Re: redistribution – shouldn’t we all wait to find out what Jimmy Kimmel thinks?

    • Amazona October 13, 2017 / 2:15 pm

      Jimmy Kimmel, the new self-appointed expert on everything in addition to being a moral authority? Jimmy Kimmel, a co-creator and “star” of the raunchy, sexist and vulgar “Man Show” semi-fame? The same Jimmy Kimmel who rose to what passes for fame in mindless circles by degrading women on television, who now weeps in pain over various wrongs he has identified in (conservative) society? THAT Jimmy Kimmel?

      (I could never figure out how anything named the Man Show could feature Jimmy Kimmel, but that’s another topic….)

  5. Cluster October 12, 2017 / 8:38 am

    I guess I feel a little bad now always criticizing the progressive media. The following from Joe Scarborough on MSNBC is some reasonable and professional reporting isn’t it?

    It was chilling and, of course, right after that, that’s when you delivered your warning to the Republicans first and then to Americans who would vote for him, saying, if you vote for him, this was right, I think this was during the Republican National Convention or right after, at that time he was a candidate and a lot of people weren’t giving him a chance to win, but you still issued your warning. And I can tell you the foreign policy expert I spoke with afterwards was rattled and the impression was, my god, the conclusion was: my god, could you ever imagine this guy getting his hands on the nuclear arsenal? And this, Mika, actually, here we are over a year later, and he does have his hands on the nuclear arsenal and he is still, instead of disturbing top foreign experts in America, it’s now his Secretary of State and everybody else around him that leave badly shaken, calling him a moron and worse for not understanding, for not understanding defense policy and the consequences of nuclear war. So, you know, here we are, over a year later and this is what we have. And now I think it’s up for Congress to figure out a way to actually slow down the process and anyway possible to put checks on this man’s ability to launch a nuclear war that could end up destroying a good part of this Earth.

    Trump doesn’t understand defense policy and is wanting to destroy a “good part of the earth”. That is just some solid, well thought out analysis.

    • Amazona October 12, 2017 / 11:03 am

      Well, if you are a Liberal living with the image of Donald Trump carrying around in his pocket something that looks like a garage door opener, something that would allow him to just push a button and destroy”..a good part of this Earth…”, you are going to be constantly freaked out. That seems to be the reality of being a Lib.

      What if he gets mad at a Kim Jong Un insult and hits the button?
      What if he is reaching for a mint and accidentally hits the button?
      What if…..what if…what if…. It could be ANYTHING !! It’s TRUMP! All he has to do is HIT THE BUTTON !!!

      And really, if you are a Lib, having Donald Trump’s “..hands on the nuclear arsenal..” is SOOOO much scarier than having Vladimir Putin’s hands on a nuclear arsenal, or Kim Jong Un’s, or Iran’s or China’s or Pakistan’s Pakistan—the nation that sheltered Osama Bin Laden—-is less frightening to the Lib hysterics than Trump, when it comes to having “..hands on (a) nuclear arsenal..”
      ………………………………….

      A couple of questions popped into my mind when I read this incoherent babble of Scarborough’s. OK, more than a couple, but…

      What is his definition of a “foreign policy expert”? As in, qualifications, experience, etc. There are plenty of self-identified “foreign policy experts” out there, including Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Sorry, Joe, that’s not quite enough for me to pay any attention at all.

      But let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that this mystery person really is an “expert” in foreign policy—-what are the chances of any such expert being willing to talk to Joe Scarborough if s/he is not a Lib? That is, anti-Trump.
      Who else has the time of day for this moron? And who else would Scarborough be interested in talking to?

      Typical Lefty BS—refer to an anonymous “source” and attribute great status to this “source” and build on that.

      Another thing that is becoming increasingly obvious, about the Left, is their utter incomprehensibility about dissent. To a mentality that is defined by lockstep adherence to a Central Authority, the very sight of people who don’t agree with each other on every single thing just freaks them out.

  6. Amazona October 12, 2017 / 11:23 am

    Spook, knowing your history with the Boy Scouts, all the way to the present with your grandsons becoming Eagle Scouts, I wonder what you think of this—both the news and the response to it.

    http://theresurgent.com/the-end-of-the-boy-scouts

  7. Retired Spook October 12, 2017 / 2:14 pm

    Boy Scouts of America has had an off-shoot organization, Venturing for close to two decades that includes girls, so I’m more accepting of this than I am about gay and transgender scouts and scout leaders. From what I’ve read, the boy scout programs are aimed more at older girls, so the one unintended consequence to monitor is, much like when the Navy starting allowing women to serve on ships, the pregnancy rate of older Girl/Boy Scouts. I earned the rank of Eagle Scout two months before my 15th birthday and was active in Scouting until I was 17 when I really started to discover GIRLS in a serious way. Again, what could possibly go wrong with groups of 16 and 17-year-old boys and girls camping out together? The first time I had sex with a girl was in the woods — just sayin’

    • Amazona October 12, 2017 / 11:55 pm

      Clearly there are a lot of potential problems in putting teenaged boys and girls together in camping situations, etc. And, uh, thanks for sharing ?

      I read that one problem is that the Girl Scouts offer nothing any more but cookie sales, and Boy Scouts offer skill training and actual activities. My approach would be to create a new version of Girl Scouts, instead of trying to make Boy Scouts un-Boy Scouts. Maybe Venturing does this.

      I think the problem is that in pursuit of political correctness and pandering to every special interest group out there—-and trying to be proactive in avoiding lawsuits—-the Boy Scouts have lost their identity and now stand for nothing in particular.

      • Retired Spook October 13, 2017 / 8:55 am

        And, uh, thanks for sharing ?

        Fifty-five years ago — another life. At least we didn’t record ourselves and post it on Instagram.

    • M. Noonan October 13, 2017 / 11:32 pm

      It’ll just kill scouting, I think – boys and girls, surprise, don’t necessarily want to do the same things. What’ll devolve into is doing as little as possible while being “nice”, because that will offend the least number of people.

      Better if parents who actually want their sons and daughters to have fun to start entirely new groups.

  8. Amazona October 13, 2017 / 11:26 am

    All together now—–a loud “DUH !!!

    “Active forest management is needed to stop the spread of catastrophic wildfires,” says Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark.

    http://dailysignal.com/2017/10/12/23-photos-of-the-wildfires-burning-through-california

    This is and always has been obvious, yet “active forest management” has been fought, tooth and nail, by the Left.

    One result of their success is the loss of millions of acres of what should have been productive timberland in the West due to the ravages of the pine borer beetle. When a massive blowdown of hundreds of acres of pine trees near Steamboat Springs, Colorado a few decades ago created a breeding ground for the beetle (downed trees are full of sap, but no longer have circulation of that sap to push borers out when they bore in to eat the sap and lay eggs) the Forest Service was warned by hordes of foresters, biologists, etc of the danger. Yet the Left fought the idea of allowing private industry to go in and harvest this downed timber, mostly on the argument that it “belonged to the citizens” and therefore it would be wrong, wrong, oh so wrong, to allow vile capitalist profits to be made by selling it as lumber. So the downed trees lay there, unharvested, feeding millions and millions of pine borer beetles—which, when they ran out of sap from the downed trees, started spreading out in search of more food. We are now seeing, after decades of watching literally millions of acres of pine forests turn red and brown as the trees die, after having millions of acres of forest land become unsafe for recreation as the long-standing dead trees posed hazards to hikers and hunters as they collapsed, massive fires roaring through massive stands of what is, now, nothing but fuel.

    “Active forest management” used to mean having experienced foresters mark trees for thinning—-diseased trees, trees crowding out other trees in competition for light and water, etc.—and allowing people to bid on the ability to cut these trees. The contractors also had to clean up the area, removing debris on the ground, which means removing fuel on or near the ground. The result of stopping this practice has been forests which, while certainly pristine in their natural state, are also subject to devastating fires. A forest with little or no overburden on the forest floor may burn, but the fires tend to run high, near the tops of the trees, “crowning” and leaping from treetop to treetop. In a fire like this, trees often survive, and more important, the ground beneath them is not subjected to long periods of intensive heat, which kills the trees, sterilizes the soil, and bakes it into near-concrete hardness. The result of this is the inability of the soil to absorb water, creating runoff which carries the ashes of the fire downhill into streams and rivers, choking off life in those waterways, and many years of little or no regrowth until the soil gradually softens and is able to absorb water.

    Leftist arguments against “active forest management” have centered, for the most part, on the alleged damage done to forests when logging is allowed. The complaints are that logging roads are damaging, and that pollution from the equipment is bad. There is also the claim, which takes several forms, that these areas are meant to remain pristine, free not only from pollution but from the awful taint of capitalistic profit. The Left—which tends to be urban and unconnected to the reality of forests and forest management—-fights for “roadless” areas and bleats incessantly about the virtuous need for “wilderness areas”.

    Hopefully Trump’s reforms of government agencies will extend into clearing out the Leftist obstructionists and hysterics from forest management, in both the National Forest Service and the BLM, and allow rational and reasonable forest management to take place. We need to remember that the charter for the Forest Service states that the National Forests are being set aside primarily to assure an ongoing supply of lumber for the nation (which requires logging, which requires roads, and which is part of commerce) and the protection of the nation’s watersheds (which are threatened by the size and scope of fires that are the result of poor management). AND for recreation. But that is not the primary reason the Service was created.

  9. Amazona October 13, 2017 / 11:38 am

    I am having a personal reaction to the fires in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. I once spent six months living in Calistoga, working part time in one of the restaurants in Saint Helena and just enjoying the ambiance of wine country. It was a magical time, and I came to love the area. So when I see pictures of the devastation of the fires, of buildings in Santa Rosa burning, the hillsides on fire, the vineyards threatened, it breaks my heart.

    i know that every fire has its victims and its heartaches, and I feel for every family that has lost homes and pets and even friends and family members to fires. Friends lost everything in the massive Colorado Springs fires in 2012, and one family in the area stayed with me until they were allowed to go home—-to a neighborhood that essentially no longer existed, as theirs was one of only a few houses remaining out of hundreds. I’ve moved horses out of forests being threatened as fires closed in, and boarded them till the danger passed, and had friends lose houses and barns in the Black Forest fires. It’s tragic, and terrifying, when these fires take off as they do.

    But even knowing all that, there is a little part of my heart that hurts just a little bit more to see the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, and the mountains around them, and the communities in them, destroyed so violently.

  10. Cluster October 16, 2017 / 2:07 pm

    Great article from a guy in Amazona’s backyard:

    http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/10/silence_of_the_republican_lambs.html#ixzz4vh6dhtWw

    Great questions here:

    Do they secretly support liberal causes? Or is their dislike of President Trump so intense that they are willing to squander their once-in-a-lifetime electoral majorities over petty grudges?

    Followed by a great observation:

    At some point, we ask why even have a legislative branch of government. Totally bought and paid for by the donor class, unable to pass meaningful legislation, devoid of any fiscal responsibility or restraint, they have abdicated relevance of their branch of government. Congress is nothing but a retirement home with, to borrow Kim Jong-un’s description, a bunch of doddering do-nothings, some of whom are taking Alzheimer’s medications.

    • Amazona October 16, 2017 / 8:23 pm

      This guy is saying pretty much what I have been saying—basically, we suck at communication and we suck at coherence. I am going to look him up. Thanks for the linkl

  11. Cluster October 16, 2017 / 2:45 pm

    So this happened in the progressive media over the weekend. Seems fair, balanced and educated to me:

    On Friday’s News One Now on TV One, substitute host Michelle Bernard presided over a panel in which one guest asserted that the push to repeal ObamaCare by Donald Trump supporters is fueled by a desire for “eugenics” against minorities to bolster “white supremacy.” She further claimed that there was a desire to “eliminate” and “annihilate” minorities. Neither host Bernard nor even the token Republican on the panel voiced any disagreement with her incendiary claims.

    CNN’s Van Jones claimed Trump had no regard for the well being of Americans……..“Listen, I’ve never seen a president of the United States willing to hurt Americans to get his way,” Jones lamented to Clinton lackey and ABC host George Stephanopoulos. “Willing to have Americans be sick. Willing to have Americans, you know, possibly lose their lives– watch their children with conditions, because he wants to get his way.”

    • Amazona October 16, 2017 / 8:26 pm

      What I said, at 3:45—

      Listen to the Leftist drumbeat—it has only a few topics, and they are relentlessly repeated, over and over again. Racist—and variations on the theme, such as white supremacy and BLM—-and Income Inequality are the cornerstones of Leftist propaganda.

      Sometimes one, sometimes the other, sometimes they are bundled together in a sack of s**t like this.

  12. Cluster October 16, 2017 / 6:22 pm

    Here’s a conversation between two “Republicans”, actually Joe just went independent but there are no better representatives of the GOP establishment then Steve Schmidt and Joe Scarborough:

    SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, Steve Schmidt, of course, you have, actually that man, Steve Schmidt, who actually mocked and ridiculed an American prisoner of war, an American hero who gave his life, his entire life to this country, who was given an opportunity to leave Hanoi, given an opportunity to, to, to, to stop being tortured, to stop being beaten so badly that he can’t raise his arms above his shoulders to this day, and that’s the person that Steve Bannon has been getting behind all of this time? […] And by the way, another question. Who are these people at this so-called Voters Value Summit [sic] that give Steve Bannon a hero’s welcome, and a standing ovation? Who are these people, and what is so important to them? What is so important to them that they would let their children see them standing up at something called a Voters Values Summit [sic], praising Steve Bannon? They will be known by their fruits, and Steve Bannon is what they are known by now. Donald Trump is what they are known by now. I don’t know why, but I do know this: Trump and Bannon continue to declare war on the Republican Party; they can’t be shocked, Steve, when the Republican Party and the Senators there decide not to vote for his latest stupid idea.

    SCHMIDT: […] Look, we’ve seen the hollowing out of the Republican Party intellectually, the destruction of the conservative movement, play out over many, many years now and I think we’re at the end stage of it now. We have a political party that is unmoored from any type of principle. You could hold a gun to my head, and I couldn’t tell you what the party stands for, what the policies are. You look at the health care debate that played out. It’s certainly the case that none of these members had any idea what they were voting on, what the bill did, how much it cost. We have tax cut proposals that we’re going to fund on the national credit card, increasing the debt onto our children, onto our grandchildren. And so across the board, whether it is the President’s rumblings about unraveling NAFTA, whether it’s the, every Monday it seems now, louder and louder beats of the drums of war coming out of Washington D.C., it seems each Monday that as we start the week, the world’s just a bit more dangerous, the administration a bit more unhinged, the President a bit more unraveled. And it seems that we’re moving inexorably closer to great danger in this country as a result of these policies.

    Americans voted against this kind of “GOP thinking”, as much as they did against Hillary Clinton, and Joe and Steve still don’t get it. They still think they’re the smart ones.

    Meanwhile, ISIS is on the ropes, GDP is at 3%, consumer confidence is at an all time high, illegal immigration is at an all time low, and the DOW hit another record. If this is a “hollowing out of the Republican party intellectually” ….. THEN I AM LOVING IT

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