Best of Enemies

Nearly 50 years ago William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal squared off in a series of debates that cemented the divide between conservatives and progressives, a divide that continues today. There is a very interesting documentary on Netflix called Best of Enemies that covers those 10 very contentious debates and the political environment of the time. Here is an excerpt of one of those debates:

Ironically, many of the issues covered in these debates are many of the same issues the left continues to fight over to this day – equality, the police state, and American Imperialism abroad. One would think that the intellectual might of the left would have resolved these pressing issues by now had they have been of paramount concern, but much like today, I believe these are issues the left needs to promulgate throughout the generations in order to create the societal divide their electoral victories depend on.

In one debate Buckley had a brilliant line on equality that invoked dismay and outrage from the progressive Vidal. Buckley stated that “freedom breeds inequality”, a simple truth about human nature that the left cannot comprehend, or simply does not want to admit. In fact there is much about human nature that the left does not want to admit, and unfortunately spends an inordinate amount of legislative time trying to deny. The ACA is a good example. What could possibly lead one to believe that a perfectly healthy 20 year old would purchase health insurance with high deductibles in order to off set the health care expenses of their less healthy and older citizens? Granted it would be noble of them but it defies their financial self-interests and the reality is that they are not complying, and Buckley defined this ideological disconnect dynamic very well in the video above.

In re: to the police state, is this not reminiscent of the black lives matter movement? Are the accusations leveled at the police then, the same accusations we hear today? And re: American imperialism, Vidal laid down the progressive foundation of moral equivalency that continues today by equating American military interactions with that of the Soviets, a paradigm the left uses at every opportunity to this day. Gore Vidal is unquestionably the father of today’s progressive movement, while Buckley is unquestionably the standard bearer for today’s conservative movement. Many of these debates are found on YouTube and the documentary on Netflix is a must see. I found these debates to be extremely interesting and look forward to reading others opinions.

Finished? I Don’t Think So.

As Rush Limbaugh asserted on his radio show Wednesday, the Obama presidency is far from over.

The events to which we are witness presently– world unrest, trampling on personal property rights and State sovereigntyassault on affordable energy–continuous assaults on our ability to grow our economy– is all part of Obama’s original campaign promise to “..fundamentally transform the United States of America.”

I know I’ve said this before, but it’s an important phrase to ponder. “FUNDAMENTALLY” TRANSFORM THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” Think about that. Let that short, simple, yet all-encompassing phrase sink in. First focus on the word “TRANSFORM” and then the root word of “FUNDAMENTALLY.”

To “transform” something, by definition, is to make something evolve into something radically different from what it has traditionally been. “Fundamental” by definition is a defining, basic characteristic. A building block–something foundational to its being.

Now, to “FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORM” means to radically transform the United States from what it has traditionally been– the “shining city on a hill”- the land of opportunity–based on the premise of individual liberty and the affordance of self-determination–yes–to transform that– into something *fundamentally different* and thus diametrically opposed to that foundation.

The Third World Despots, the Kruschevs, the Fidel Castros, the Kim Jong Ils and Uns of the world, have given hours-long speeches about their hopes for the destruction of the Free World, but never have they been able to put it so succinctly and eloquently as has Obama in that one simple, yet profound phrase. “..We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

Many people chalked that phrase to meaningless boilerplate rhetoric, as so much rhetorical fluff. But of all the promises Obama made that were broken, whether it was closing Guantanamo Bay, allowing people to ‘keep their doctors or their health plans–period,” or to decrease health insurance costs by $2500 per year, this– this seminal promise–(along with bankrupting the coal industry)–was the one he meant from the bottom of his joyless, cavernous heart.

No people. The Presidency of Barack Hussein Obama is not ended. He still has a lot of ‘fundamental transformations’ to perform.

Barack Obama’s “scorched earth” policy against America and its people has only just begun.

Columbus Day

I wasn’t planning on writing anything to mark Columbus Day, but having been around the ‘net a bit this morning and seeing the ignorant comments about Columbus, I feel I just have to say something.

First off, what did Columbus do?  He set off in to the unknown in three tiny ships with only minimal navigational aids and yet struck land in the place and in the time he thought he would.  That, as anyone familiar with sailing can attest, is a remarkable achievement.  That it wasn’t the land he was looking for is neither here nor there because no one in Europe knew about the Americas.  It took incredible bravery for Columbus and his crew to do what they did and a remarkable amount of sheer seamanship.  It is an achievement comparable with going to the Moon – but in some respects more difficult because they didn’t know what they would encounter, while our voyages to the Moon were without surprises on route, timing and what we thought we’d find when we got there.  To make snide remarks about how Columbus thought he’d found Asia is asinine – its as if we found out there was a star 10 light years away with intelligent life on it and set out to see it…and on the way bumped in to a different star with intelligent life 5 light years away; it would still be a remarkable discovery.

Secondly, what didn’t Columbus do?  First off, he didn’t bring war, death and slavery to the Americas – they already existed in the Americas.  Why?  Because humans lived there.  And here’s a newsflash for ya, folks: the natives of the America were just like us.  Full of anger and jealousy and greed and fear and stupidity, just like we have…and, of course, also full of dignity and courage and generosity, just like we have.  People are people – Columbus did not discover Eden; that Garden we were all kicked out of long before Columbus came along…and we won’t get back in to it until the End, Columbus or no.  It is just stupid to think that Columbus did something wrong – he did something and whenever anyone does something, it will have effects, and often effects never foreseen by the original doer of the deed.  Columbus is not responsible for what happened to the natives of America.

Thirdly, just what was found in the Americas?  Well, aside from primitive peoples, there were also civilized peoples…people so civilized that they had advanced to the point of massacring people in great, big bloody batches.  The Mexica were not nice people – they were looting, enslaving and murdering their subjects.  It is true that Columbus didn’t stop that, but he set in train the events which would eventually bring proper retribution to the Mexica for their crimes…and when they were overthrown, it was with the eager help of the native people the Mexica were oppressing.  Should we instead wish that Columbus had sunk to the bottom of the sea and maybe the human sacrifices of Mexico continued for a few more centuries?  Would that have been good?  Oh, but what about all the natives who died of disease – what of it?  It was terrible, but it wasn’t a crime on anyone’s part.  No one knew how disease was transmitted…the Europeans hadn’t the foggiest notion that they were bringing disease.  Given the nature of things, eventually the natives of America were going to be exposed to disease environments they were not resistant to…it was going to happen.  If it hadn’t been Columbus then someone – either east or west of the Americas – was going to come to the Americas at some point…and the diseases would have still struck down the same number.

Columbus was a man of great courage and intelligence who played a man’s part in the world.  Good and bad, he brought the Americas in to the mainstream of world history and set the stage which eventually allowed the United States of America to emerge as the greatest nation in human history.  He is worthy of honor and emulation in his willingness to dare greatly.  And, so, Happy Columbus Day!

Dystopia–In His Own Words.

Just prior to the 2008 elections, Barack Obama boldly stated,

“We are 5 days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America” (October 30, 2008)

Many among my conservative friends took that to be so much fluff; pretty much liberal boilerplate consistent with his whole “Hope and Change” campaign message.  Given, however, Obama’s background, cutting his teeth with the radical leftists/communists of his day (i.e., Frank Marshall Davis, Bernadine Dorn, Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright) I believe I was one of the relative few that took him at his word.  Unlike most of America, conservatives such as myself and others who actually took the time to vet Obama, knew that background and worldview mattered, and that Obama’s past gave more than a glimpse of how he intended to govern in the present.

When Obama uttered those words, “.. fundamentally transform AmericaI knew he meant it. It was Obama himself who stated (emphases added),

“As radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical.  It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least, as it’s been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative libertiesSays what the States can’t do to you; says what the Federal Government can’t do to you, but doesn’t state what the Federal government or State Government must do on your behalf.”  (Barack Obama, June 18, 2001).

There is no question that Barack Obama was unhappy with his perception of unequal distribution of wealth that America so unfairly championed, and that he wanted to transform this nation into something more ‘equitable’ in his eyes.  The question was how, and to what extent.  Just how does one “fundamentally”  transform a nation whose very basis for existence is freedom, itself?  The only feasible answer is to transform that already-free nation, into a nation with fewer freedoms.  Given Dinesh D’Souza’s brilliant insights as to Obama’s worldview engendered by his past, one knew that Obama’s absolute contempt for what he saw as America’s unequal distribution of wealth would result in his promoting policies that would necessarily stifle economic growth.   Obama’s America would no longer be one of unbridled economic opportunity; rather, America would be a nation of egalitarian outcomes, regardless of effort; to coin a phrase, to each, according to his needs; from each, according to his means.  

As a means of bringing about this transformation, America could no longer be a free nation.  No where as free, at least, as it was at the time of he assumed his presidency.  Liberties would need to be forsaken to bring about his vision of utopia.  The free market system would need to be reined in, and done so in no small measure.   Obama would have four years, eight at most, to make this happen.  This transformation would need to be done quickly, and in a big way.

Enter Obamacare, America’s first stop on its train ride to Utopia. Against the wishes of 60-70 percent of Americans, and without the vetting of congressional legislators who rammed through the legislation, the United States Federal Government took control of a full one-seventh of the American economy, which had the net effect of driving up the cost of health care for all involved,  taking away freedom of choice, relegating freedom of conscience incompatible with the party line to irrelevancy, while at the same time having the no-doubt intended effect of casting a chilling pall on America’s ability to sustain economic growth and prosperity.  For those who wish to argue regarding this latter point, how better to right the wrongs of the perceived injustice of unequally-distributed wealth than to stifle the engine that creates such wealth?

As I’ve said, Obamacare is but stop one on America’s train ride to Obama’s Dystopia.  Obama’s seeming assault on everything traditional America has held dear for centuries appears to have taken on epidemic proportions.  Remember- Obama only has three and three-quarter years left.  Those who haven’t yet felt the pinch of his “transformations,” most likely have not yet realized that they, too, have been pinched.   Obama’s willing media accomplices can only cover for him for so long before a critical mass of Americans, admittedly as dull as many of them are, will start to put two-and-two together and finally determine that the hopey-changey unicorn jockey they voted for may actually have had something to do with the plight in which they suddenly find themselves.

Then what?

When the critical mass of Americans finally wake up one morning, to find that they have been played as chumps, they are liable to get a bit–shall we say, testy. When this inevitability finally does come home to roost, The TEA party protests that grew out of Rick Santelli’s historic February, 2009 rant will no doubt look like a series of school pep assemblies.   Such civil unrest would certainly be difficult to quell, and will no doubt be yet another bump in the tracks on the way to Obama’s Dystopian dream.

What to do, what do do? You can’t just sick the military after the troublemakers. Well, you could, I suppose, but then you risk pissing off your fellow travelers who have had a history of contempt for men and women in uniform.

What to do??

Since, at least philosophy- and policy-wise, one can take Obama at his word, one may get a clue as to Obama’s plans by again, studying his own non-TelePrompter inspired rhetoric:

“We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set.  We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded.”   -Barack Obama, July, 2008.

Yeah- remember that phrase?  Neither did a lot of other people.  Like the rest of Obama’s sordid past and rhetoric that if brought to the light of day would have rendered his election impossible, The media (true to their sycophantic nature) pretty much glossed over that little tidbit.  A powerful Civilian security force. Remind you of anyone?

So when you see articles like this, or like this, or like this, and then think, aww–Leo–take off that tinfoil hat!  You’re just blowing smoke.  That would never really happen here.  There’s no way.

Just remember.  I didn’t put those words into Barack Obama’s mouth.

He did.

Liberty and Prosperity

“A government big enough to give you everything you need, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have….”

This quote is often mistakenly attributed to Thomas Jefferson. In fact it was uttered on the floor of Congress by Gerald Ford in an address to a joint session of Congress on August 12, 1974, 3 days after he had assumed the Presidency following Richard Nixon’s resignation.

In the previous thread, Jeremiah posted this marvelous quote from Ronald Reagan:

I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited.  There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.

The same bit of research that revealed the Gerald Ford quote also revealed that Reagan’s words did, indeed, paraphrase a famous quote from Thomas Jefferson:

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.” – Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, Paris, 27 May 1788

Contrary to the portrait his critics attempt to paint, Reagan was a wise and intelligent man, the closest thing America has seen to a visionary in the mold of the Founders in my lifetime, and anyone who doubts that should read his personal journals. I would add to what he said that prosperity and liberty go hand in hand. Since America is made up of immigrants from numerous other countries, none of which is as prosperous as we are, it can only be that our system of government allows a level of individual freedom that promotes a prosperous economy more than any other country. Now, right before our eyes, we’re seeing one man and a small oligarchy of radical Leftist cronies attempt to “fundamentally transform” that successful model into just another country. As long as we have the freedom to vote, such men will never stay in power long.

There’s a good chance that none of us on this blog has ever suffered under the tyranny of a dictatorship or totalitarian government.  If any have, I’d love for them to come forward and describe what it was like.  In his GOP convention speech, Marco Rubio noted, in reference to the policies of the current administration, “these are tired and old big government ideas. Ideas that people come to America to get away from.  Ideas that threaten to make America more like the rest of the world, instead of helping the world become more like America.”

The freedom that we have and for which we’ve expended great quantities of blood and treasure for others to have around the world is, historically speaking, not the norm.  It’s why the founding of this country has often been described as The Great American Experiment. Not since Rome had a country attempted to embark on a course that would allow ordinary citizens to govern themselves.

Now some are going so far as to suggest that the current occupant of the White House is the one who wants to continue that experiment, to expand liberty to new horizons:

America’s story is one of constantly tackling the big—the biggest—problems, ahead of everyone else, with very little to guide us but those founding principles that nag at our conscience. And each time we’ve made progress, extending civil rights to more and more people, it’s been because that old spirit of taking a gamble, of performing the ultimate experiment, took over and led us to the right decision.

As we think today about what divides Americans, I think it boils down to the fact that some Americans no longer want to experiment. They want to close the lab down. We’ve gone far enough into the unknown, making it known, they say; now let’s stop—let’s even go backward. We were wrong to conduct some of our experiments in liberty, and that’s the source of all our problems. Gay people shouldn’t be treated equally. Black people shouldn’t run the country. Women shouldn’t hold high office. Muslims shouldn’t be granted habeas corpus.

Whenever one of those Americans talks about the problem with our country today, they talk about how we should be like we once were, back when white people who defined marriage as one man-one woman and were Protestant veterans built this nation. They feel they are losing their birthright, their legacy.

But those Americans are wrong. What their ancestors really were was scientists. Experimenters. Radicals who always considered the impossible possible. To define those ancestral Americans as merely white or straight or Christian strips them of their most stunning feature, their near-supernatural qualities of optimism and defiance and willingness to go into the unknown and make it their home, to make the amazing the norm. They defied the status quo. That’s how they built America.

Americans who want to end the experiment are few, but boisterous. They clamor at the national microphone. But Americans who know that there is no America without the experiment will keep at it, and they will persevere. Barack Obama is such an American, and his election is proof that the lab is still open, and that America in general will always be at the drawing board, expanding its concept of liberty and justice and equality until we finally fulfill the founding principles that created this nation so long ago.

I have to confess, when I read this essay, my first reaction was, clearly I and the vast majority of Conservatives have missed something if this is true.  Perhaps we’re wrong, and this writer is correct.  Perhaps one or more of our resident Progressives can make a case for Obama being the great experimenter in expanding liberty.

The Crusades, Reconsidered

From an excerpt of Jonah Goldberg’s new book, Tyranny of Cliches’:

…Until fairly recently, historically speaking, Muslims used to brag about being the winners of the Crusades, not the victims of it. That is if they talked about them at all. “The Crusades could more accurately be described as a limited, belated and, in the last analysis, ineff ectual re­sponse to the jihad—a failed attempt to recover by a Christian holy war what had been lost to a Muslim holy war,” writes Bernard Lewis, the greatest living historian of Islam in the English language (and perhaps any language).  Historian Thomas Madden puts it more directly, “Now put this down in your notebook, because it will be on the test: The cru­sades were in every way a defensive war. They were the West’s belated response to the Muslim conquest of fully two-thirds of the Christian world.”…

You can, of course, bring up some bad things which happened during the Crusades – most notably the massacre of the both the Muslim and Jewish population of Jerusalem when the Christians took the city in 1099 as well as Richard the Lionheart’s massacre of 2,700 Muslims at Acre during the Third Crusade.  Bad things.  Should not have been done.  No decent person in 2012 would ever contemplate doing any such thing.  But, by the standards of 11th and 12th century warfare, not at all remarkable.  And any Muslim who wants to whine about it is directed to what Muslims did when they took Constantinople in 1453…many centuries later, when we were all supposed to be much more civilized.

So, I leave aside such complaints – war is always nasty and the hard men of the 11th and 12th centuries, on both sides, did many a cruel act.  But the main facts cannot be disputed:  the Crusades were a counter-attack.  The Muslim attack upon Christianity began, entirely unprovoked, in 634 when some rapacious Muslim barbarians from the Arabian peninsula launched what was at first no more than a large scale plunder raid in to Christian Syria.  Quickly noticing how weak the Christian forces were (the Christian government of the area – the Byzantine Empire – was greatly weakened by a recently concluded, 20 year long war with Persia), the Muslims just poured in to a military vacuum.  For centuries thereafter, Muslim armies conquered Christian lands, massacred and enslaved Christians, treated Christians like dirt when they didn’t murder or enslave them and generally acted like pirates.  Europe was weak from the 7th to the 10th century as the new, Christian civilization developed upon the debris of the old Greco-Roman civilization…and that build up was hampered by the “barbarian wars” which absorbed the energy of Europe often over a period of centuries.  Because of this, the Christians could do no more than hold on…once Europe recovered a bit, there was a chance to push back…and it wasn’t just a push in to the middle east (though that was by far the more famous part), but also a push against the Muslims in Spain.

The only thing bad about the Crusades was that they ultimately failed – they did not extirpate the Mohammedan heresy.  And it is high time that people started to learn the truth about the Crusades.