Syria Strike

Just was watching Twitter for an extended period of time tonight – astonished at the wide variety of heart felt, differing opinions about it. Some Trumpsters upset, some Never Trumpers finding a strange, new respect for Trump. Honest questions. Sincere hopes. Support for the troops without cheap rah-rah patriotism. It was refreshing.

I don’t know what will come of this – I’m not sure I support the action (though I support the actions of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, of course). I hope there is a plan behind all this – there could be, and it might work out to a brilliant stroke of diplomacy backed by military force (the only sort of diplomacy which actually works, by the way). We’ll just have to see.

Open Thread

In response to the poison gas attack in Syria, some are calling for war. I’d like to point out a few salient facts:

1. It would require at least 100,000 American troops.
2. It will require at least 10 years of effort.
3. The enemies of Assad in Syria will, once Assad is out, attack us.
4. Within a short time of starting, the left will be calling our troops “war criminals”.
5. A very, very large number of people will die.
6. Syria is more a geographic expression than a nation; it is a compendium of peoples, many of whom simply do not like each other and who refuse to accept a government with the “other” holding any power.

Now, this doesn’t mean we certainly shouldn’t fight – but these are things to keep in mind; and only advocate for war if you’re (a) ok with all that and (b) have a plan for it all.

Ben Rhodes – he of the lying propaganda to sell Obama’s Iran deal – has been extra vigorous in defending Rice. How long before Rhodes is caught up in the scandal? Remember, Rhodes created an echo-chamber in the MSM to sell the Iran deal…one thing the whole Trump-Russia thing smacks of is “echo chamber”.

Don Surber is of the opinion that Trump trolled the MSM and forced them, as it were, to eventually get to ObamaGate.

Rather than being reports about foreigners with incidental info about Americans, the reports appear to be almost private-investigator type things…all sorts of personal details.

I’m quite confident that all GOP candidates for President were monitored…and I’m getting confident that spying on political opponents was a routine activity under President Obama. Remember: he got his boost to the top of the political heap by using a dirty trick to get sealed divorce records unsealed, thus sinking his most credible opponent. Given this and things like the weaponization of the IRS, it is on Obama and his minions to provide some sort of convincing evidence that spying on Trump didn’t happen.

First Lady Melania Trump got her first official White House photo – and a rather fetching photo it is. Her arms were crossed, and apparently our liberal friends are upset about this.

The Conservative Crisis

Donald Trump is not a Conservative – I think we all know this. He managed a take-over of the GOP, which had been the (alleged) home of Conservatism, but he made no declaration of loyalty to Conservatism when he did so. And don’t go thinking it was a hostile take-over…plenty in the GOP didn’t (and don’t) like Trump, but plenty more, did. In fact, of course, enough to secure him the GOP nomination. But winning the White House took far more than just holding the GOP. In fact, my guesstimate is that as many as 6 million traditional GOP voters either stayed home, or went with McMullin or Johnson (a very tiny number voted for Hillary, I suspect). Trump won because he brought in people who don’t normally vote GOP…and who are most emphatically not Conservatives.

But, then again, what are Conservatives? What is Conservatism? Over the past few months, I’ve seen a lot of different Conservatives going off in all manner of odd directions…some in Trump’s favor, some decidedly against Trump. Bill Kristol, as I noted in an earlier post, is a Conservative who is hoping that un-elected bureaucrats force Trump from office. Another Conservative is convinced that Hillary would be forcefully standing up to Russia because she’s some sort of patriotic American hero. Yet another Conservative I’m familiar with has gone in for some neo-Nazi “blood and soil” twaddle about just who can be an American. I’ve seen Conservatives in favor of vigorous war-making in Syria, others who are insisting that we become actual isolationists. Some Conservatives are finding a sudden respect for the “pro-choice” position on abortion, others are figuring that most Conservatives have always been secretly racist.

Let’s face something here: there is no Conservatism, because no one can provide a body of thought which most Conservatives will support. Perhaps there never was a Conservatism, really – maybe it was just something cobbled together by Reagan and only valid as long as he was there to provide direction? Maybe the pressures of the cold war fused together people who would otherwise hate each other and who didn’t really care about anything other than defeating Communism? Don’t get me wrong, defeating Communism is always a worthy goal…but once the major external Communist threat was gone, we have found that plenty of people who were allies against the Soviet Union are quite ok with the imposition of some Communist ideas (mostly in the realm of social policy) in the United States. Might it be time we re-think this whole thing? Start over again, from scratch?

It could be that Trump merely ripped off the mask – forced into the open divisions which were always there, but papered over simply because in a two-party system, anyone who is not Progressive in the fullest sense must be GOP? Think of all the truly Conservative things which could have been done over the past 30 years, and how few of them were actually done. For goodness sake, it’s 2017 and we still haven’t got to even relatively small things like defunding Planned Parenthood or axing the subsidies for PBS. These are things we could have forced through many times in the past 3 decades if there had been a genuinely Conservative movement in the United States. But always, whenever such things were proposed, we found alleged “fellow Conservatives” cutting the effort off at the knees. As if the reality was that plenty of Conservatives were really only Conservative in the sense of not being full-blown Progressive.

I cannot set myself up as the arbiter of what Conservatism is, but I think I’ll at least state what I think Conservatism should be…and then see if anyone else comes along. So, here we go – my 10 principles of True Conservatism.

1. As American Conservatives, our primary political aspiration is to preserve the ideals expressed in our Declaration of Independence. Most importantly, that government is instituted to secure God-given rights. Our Constitution is a sublime document and must be respected, and only altered via Constitutional means. The rule of law is a requirement for any civilized nation, and so Conservatism insists that the laws be enforced as they are, until such time as the people, via Constitutional means, alter or abolish them.

2. It is the family, not the individual or the social/ethnic/economic group which is the building block of civilization. A Conservative seeks to preserve the family (meaning, mother and father and their natural and/or adopted children) against encroachments by the State or other elements of society.

3. The secure ownership of property is one of the mainstays of preserving the family. Families which can work and build property (wealth) with a goal towards financial independence are the strongest of all families – and, thus, a Conservative will do all which can be done to make the ownership and transmission of family property secure.

4. Power corrupts, and so Conservatism will always seek to reduce as far as practical the power that anyone holds over any other person. There are many mechanisms which can be put into place to reduce concentrations of power, but the main thing is to ensure that the most power is exercised by people most immediately accountable to the people. So, local government must have more power than State government, State government more than federal – and federal government the least power of all.

5. We are all one community of people, bound to each other by ties of patriotism and love. No Conservative can hold to the view that another is inferior based upon ethnic, social or economic background. No American who works hard should be without the necessities of a dignified life. Nor should anyone who can’t work lack for any needed thing. Conservatism is in favor of charity, and realizes that, at times, the organizing power and wealth of government can, and must, be brought to bear to assist those in need.

6. All those who can contribute to society must contribute. Conservatism has no place for those who, able to work, refuse their duty. How this contribution is to be done is to be left, in almost all cases, for the local community to decide, but there is no place in Conservatism for the deadbeat.

7. Life, property and human rights are to be protected by force, if necessary. Always using mercy to temper justice, Conservatism still insists that criminal behavior is wrong and those who commit crimes must pay a price. True Conservatism will have only a few things decreed as illegal: a multiplicity of laws which cannot be understood by average people is not a system of justice, but a system of judicial tyranny. In general, only violent crimes and major theft will be treated by Conservatism as something meriting criminal punishment. In almost all cases, what is to be done with criminal behavior is to be left to the local community to decide.

8. Great disparities of wealth are not conducive to an orderly society. Conservatism applauds the citizen who will work hard, live frugally and build wealth – but when the wealth of an individual (or corporate entity) becomes so large as to distort the workings of society, then Conservatism seeks means of redress. There is nothing wrong with being rich; there is something wrong with using great wealth to secure special privileges.

9. Conservatism recognizes a dangerous world and thus insists that the armed forces of the United States be kept strong enough to repel any possible foreign attack. Conservatism understands that the ultimate defense or our nation, internal and external, is the citizenry, itself. To this end, Conservatism advocates for a citizen militia for home defense, and that all adults who wish to be armed should be so.

10. Faith holds a special place in Conservatism as it recognizes that the real hopes and dreams of the people are expressed via their faith. As far as is practical, Conservatism takes the side of religious liberty against any desire to restrict it. Even if what is being done in the name of a faith seems inexplicable to any particular person, a Conservative will only in the most extreme cases seek to interfere in the practice of a person’s religion.

And there you have it – it is, at least, the Conservatism I believe in. Perhaps you do, as well? We’ll see. But if you’ve got a better Conservatism, then let’s hear it. This does has to be hammered out. If we are to have a Conservative movement, it will have to agree on at least some basic principles and everyone who wishes to be Conservative must adhere to them, once agreed upon.

Open Thread

Everyone chime in – so, what married man out there is ever going to say to his wife, “hey, I’m having dinner, alone, with another woman. You ok with that?”.

That is pretty much was Vice President Pence said, and our Progressives are going nuts over it. To me, it is just Common Sense 101. This is all part of the Left’s war against normalcy. A normal man who wants to keep his marital vows (which is a normal thing to desire) takes a few, simple steps to help things along. He doesn’t go out and get boozed up with “the guys”. He doesn’t hang around single women one-on-one. He doesn’t do these things because he’s particularly worried that something will happen, but he figures that they are really simple things to do which will help to keep on the straight and narrow.

You might recall the Duke lacrosse case as well as that of Natalee Holloway. One thing about both cases was never brought up: a little exercise of judgement would have prevented both things from ever happening. In the Duke case, the bottom line is that the boys should not have been having parties like that. If they hadn’t, then nothing like that could have happened, or even be accused of happening. For Ms Holloway, the judgement should have been exercised by her parents; sending an 18 year old woman to a foreign place where drunken parties are the rule is not wise. Had she not been there, the predator(s) who did her in wouldn’t have had the opportunity. I’m always reminded that when I was an 18 year old man and out on liberty in the Navy, the Shore Patrol was there…not to protect the townsfolk from me and my shipmates, but to protect us from them. You send 200 young men into a liberty port after weeks at sea, things are going to happen…better to have someone there who’s sober to keep an eye on things and make sure no one gets too crazy. The Navy is, apparently, smarter than a lot of people.

Pence is just being a normal, decent man – and he’s hated for it. The left hates what is normal and decent and so ridicules it. That is the lesson here.

So, some MSMers are reporting that Michael Flynn has “flipped” on Trump…and all the little Progressives (and asinine Never Trump Conservatives) are all rubbing their hands with glee. Almost hate to point out to them that, even if true, there is nothing for Flynn to “flip” about regarding Trump. But, I guess we’re too far down this rabbit hole – the left is convinced that Russia gamed the system to benefit Trump and that is what they expect an investigation will find. To the left, Flynn is going to turn States’ evidence and show how ol’ Vlad managed to flip PA and MI for Trump, or something. It is just stupid. I doubt much that Flynn has requested immunity and further doubt that a GOP-headed Congressional committee would provide him such immunity…but if it has happened, it is just to prevent Flynn from getting caught up in a Scooter Libby situation.

It is a crime in California to record undercover video while being Republican – that is the only way this case can be viewed. This is what the left really wants for us: the criminalization of our actions. Secretly record, say, Mitt Romney and you’re a leftwing hero…secretly record Planned Parenthood and you’re a criminal.

Hillary had three people working for two months to create her campaign logo. Yes, that logo – the “H” with the arrow in it. But, sure, it was Putin who got Trump elected…

Secretary Price says that TrumpCare is still going forward. I believe it is. We’ll see.

The Kids are All Right – and so is Roger Daltry, who likes Brexit.

Out and About on a Monday

In and among all the heartache being generated re: Russia, one thing I’m not getting is how dealing with Russians is some sort of monstrous thing, but dealing with, say Chinese, isn’t. Suppose it is true that Trump and his people have deals with Russia – even nefarious deals – why is that so bad, but people having deals with China is ok? To me, tyranny is tyranny. Corrupt oligarchies are corrupt oligarchies. There’s no real differentiating between them.

A long while ago – I believe back in the Blogs for Bush days – I wrote an article in favor of “Freedom Trade”, as opposed to “Free Trade”. The short story on that was that I held we should have no economic relations with tyrannical regimes, but free trade with all free nations. The only exception for dealing with tyrannical regimes would be if they have some material which we simply cannot obtain elsewhere (this would be a rarity – for the most part, we can obtain just about everything we need here at home, one way or another; and, failing that, there’s got to be a free nation source out there, somewhere). There were several reasons I was opposed (and remain opposed) to dealing with tyrannical regimes:

1. Trade with tyrannical regimes does not lead to liberalization, but the mere strengthening of the tyranny. Britain had free trade with the Kaiser’s Germany and all that did was allow Germany to penetrate British markets and thus provide the sinews of war for the Germans. I can show, again and again, that this is what happens. I see no reason why we should in any way, shape or form help rivet shackles on other people, nor that we should in any way strengthen a nation we may have to fight at some future date.

2. Tyrannical regimes cheat. All the time. It is just the nature of the beast. No matter what you put down on paper with them, they will take whatever opportunities arise to put one over on you. Remember: a tyranny is only imposed by dishonest people. If you think that they’ll be honest with you, you’re being a fool.

3. Tyrannical regimes are almost invariably corrupt. That is, it is impossible for our people to do business in a tyrannical nation without, in one way or another, greasing official palms. The people who run tyrannical regimes are, as noted, dishonest – and as there is no free press or an opposition party to expose them, they’d have to be saints to refuse to squeeze us for all we’re worth. By doing business in tyrannical regimes, we are corrupting our own people.

So, if you’re all huffing and puffing about deals with Russia, then you’d also better be on my side about cutting off all economic ties with tyrannical regimes. If you’re not, then all you really care about is opposing Trump.

Al Gore is coming out with a sequel…he has to; his predictions in the first film are being proved wrong day by day, and if he wants to keep on the AGW gravy train, he needs to update his Doomsaying.

Trump signs four bills rolling back Obama-era regulations. That real world thing: it keeps happening. Don’t be too distracted by whatever shiny object the MSM is harping on…they are only harping on it because the DNC tells them to. Try to dig a little deeper and see what is really happening.

Democrats are still trying to work out how they can have a Presidential succession which doesn’t include Trump, or anyone associated with him (Peter Daou went particularly bizarre on this notion). Here’s the trick, Democrats – you’ll have to amend the Constitution. Sorry, that is the only way…I guess it would have to be something along the lines of, “if the President be removed from office, the successor shall be the person who lost the last elections”. I realize this might be a bit difficult to get enacted…but, do go on: it’ll keep you busy for Trump’s 8 years in office.

Turns out if you and the other half are “getting busy” from time to time, you’ll be happy. Who knew?

Powerline captures the Democrat mood:

I think Trump is the first president since Lincoln who has received no “honeymoon” period in Washington as is typical for new presidents—and for the same reason as in 1861: Democrats have essentially seceded from the American people, and won’t accept the results of a national election. (I’m also tempted to ask whatever made anyone think the thrice-married Trump would get a honeymoon? C’mon.) Democrats control so little territory that they can’t act literally on their secessionist impulses—though note deep blue California, where Democrats are actually talking about secession. But you can swap out “resistance” today for “rebellion” in 1861 and capture the Democratic Party mood accurately.

Once a Confederate, always a Confederate? Or is it just that Democrats, starting with Jackson’s first, failed, attempt at the White House have never inhabited a world where they are comfortable with losing an election?

The New York Times has come out with a revised list of The Bad Words – because there is no end to Political Correctness, folks. Why? Because part of the reason the Party has a party-line is to force you to jump to it. You see, it isn’t just a matter of putting forth the ideology…it is about forcing you to jump through mental hoops to prove your loyalty to the Party. If you fail, then you were never a true believer…

Students have been instructed to write an essay on 9/11 from the terrorist’s perspective. Look, I can understand this sort of thing – it is useful, for instance, to write about the settlement of the American West from the Native’s point of view. But this is because both Native and Settler had their good points and their bad points and by getting the full story, we can learn to be better people…but there are some times some sides which have no redeeming qualities. The 9/11 terrorists are in this group. There’s nothing a decent person can learn from people who were motivated to murder innocent people in cold blood.

Open Thread

Health care reform is getting rocky and it’s making a lot of people say this or that thing…hate to break it to ya, guys, but this is how laws get made when there is debate. Obamacare is how laws get made when you’re determined to shove something down everyone’s throat. If you don’t like this, I suggest you move elsewhere…this is how it’s done.

Wikileaks is saying the CIA can get into your smart phone. I don’t doubt it in the least. Personally, if I were in charge of a government department, all orders and instructions would be either verbal (face to face) or via the printed word…nothing of consequence would ever go out electronically. For you and I, this is the rule: if you can’t do it on your front lawn, in broad daylight, with your grandmother watching, don’t do it on the internet. Privacy is easily secured, if you want it…just don’t use a system which is owned by someone else and even in its most benign aspects is designed to collect data about you.

Schumer threatens to filibuster Gorsuch. I’ve heard that the plan is to scare our more weak-kneed Senator GOPers and get them to sign off on a deal which would have Schumer drop this filibuster in return for a GOP promise to not nuke the filibuster for a later nominee. That would be the dream scenario for the Democrats. Gorsuch does not alter the ideological balance of the Court…a Kennedy or Ginsburg leaving the Court and being replaced by a Conservative would. Of course, there’s zero chance that anyone Trump appoints would be as mindless a liberal vote as Ginsburg is, while the very worst that Trump could appoint would wind up being no worse than Kennedy. So, we’re pretty cool no matter how this goes. But, the Senate GOP should not agree to any plan to hold on to the filibuster. At minimum, it goes away the second there is a Democrat Senate majority which needs it to go away. We’d be suckers to keep it at the price of saving the nuking for the Democrats to do.

Why men who live around beaches live longer.

Seems that the troops the North Korean government relies on to keep everyone is line are going on short rations and not feeling too happy about it. If so, then this series of North Korean provocations is designed to extract bribes from South Korea and the rest of the world. If you ever wondered how such tyrannies maintain themselves, it is by providing a better life for those willing to kill in defense of the regime…but if the good times go away…

So, the threats to the Jewish Community Centers turn out to be all or mostly the work of left wing people. From now on, any hate crime which supports the Progressive Narrative should be considered a lie until proven otherwise.

Hail the Republic of Idiots

There has been much talk about experts of late – ’round about the time the very inexpert (in politics, at least) Donald Trump came along, all of a sudden, our experts were full of worry that we yokels were not paying sufficient attention to the experts. I’ve written on this before, but I want to quote a longish passage from one of the works of Chesterton – who lived at the dawn of the Age of Experts:

Now the peculiar peril of our time, which I call for argument’s sake Imperialism or Caesarism, is the complete eclipse of comradeship and equality by specialism and domination.

There are only two kinds of social structure conceivable — personal government and impersonal government. If my anarchic friends will not have rules — they will have rulers. Preferring personal government, with its tact and flexibility, is called Royalism. Preferring impersonal government, with its dogmas and definitions, is called Republicanism. Objecting broadmindedly both to kings and creeds is called Bosh; at least, I know no more philosophic word for it. You can be guided by the shrewdness or presence of mind of one ruler, or by the equality and ascertained justice of one rule; but you must have one or the other, or you are not a nation, but a nasty mess. Now men in their aspect of equality and debate adore the idea of rules; they develop and complicate them greatly to excess. A man finds far more regulations and definitions in his club, where there are rules, than in his home, where there is a ruler. A deliberate assembly, the House of Commons, for instance, carries this mummery to the point of a methodical madness. The whole system is stiff with rigid unreason; like the Royal Court in Lewis Carroll. You would think the Speaker would speak; therefore he is mostly silent. You would think a man would take off his hat to stop and put it on to go away; therefore he takes off his hat to walk out and puts it on to stop in. Names are forbidden, and a man must call his own father “my right honorable friend the member for West Birmingham.” These are, perhaps, fantasies of decay: but fundamentally they answer a masculine appetite. Men feel that rules, even if irrational, are universal; men feel that law is equal, even when it is not equitable. There is a wild fairness in the thing—as there is in tossing up.

Again, it is gravely unfortunate that when critics do attack such cases as the Commons it is always on the points (perhaps the few points) where the Commons are right. They denounce the House as the Talking-Shop, and complain that it wastes time in wordy mazes. Now this is just one respect in which the Commons are actually like the Common People. If they love leisure and long debate, it is because all men love it; that they really represent England. There the Parliament does approach to the virile virtues of the pothouse.

The real truth is that adumbrated in the introductory section when we spoke of the sense of home and property, as now we speak of the sense of counsel and community. All men do naturally love the idea of leisure, laughter, loud and equal argument; but there stands a specter in our hall. We are conscious of the towering modern challenge that is called specialism or cut-throat competition — Business. Business will have nothing to do with leisure; business will have no truck with comradeship; business will pretend to no patience with all the legal fictions and fantastic handicaps by which comradeship protects its egalitarian ideal. The modern millionaire, when engaged in the agreeable and typical task of sacking his own father, will certainly not refer to him as the right honorable clerk from the Laburnum Road, Brixton. Therefore there has arisen in modern life a literary fashion devoting itself to the romance of business, to great demigods of greed and to fairyland of finance. This popular philosophy is utterly despotic and anti-democratic; this fashion is the flower of that Caesarism against which I am concerned to protest. The ideal millionaire is strong in the possession of a brain of steel. The fact that the real millionaire is rather more often strong in the possession of a head of wood, does not alter the spirit and trend of the idolatry. The essential argument is “Specialists must be despots; men must be specialists. You cannot have equality in a soap factory; so you cannot have it anywhere. You cannot have comradeship in a wheat corner; so you cannot have it at all. We must have commercial civilization; therefore we must destroy democracy.” I know that plutocrats have seldom sufficient fancy to soar to such examples as soap or wheat. They generally confine themselves, with fine freshness of mind, to a comparison between the state and a ship. One anti-democratic writer remarked that he would not like to sail in a vessel in which the cabin-boy had an equal vote with the captain. It might easily be urged in answer that many a ship (the Victoria, for instance) was sunk because an admiral gave an order which a cabin-boy could see was wrong. But this is a debating reply; the essential fallacy is both deeper and simpler. The elementary fact is that we were all born in a state; we were not all born on a ship; like some of our great British bankers. A ship still remains a specialist experiment, like a diving-bell or a flying ship: in such peculiar perils the need for promptitude constitutes the need for autocracy. But we live and die in the vessel of the state; and if we cannot find freedom, camaraderie and the popular element in the state, we cannot find it at all. And the modern doctrine of commercial despotism means that we shall not find it at all. Our specialist trades in their highly civilized state cannot (it says) be run without the whole brutal business of bossing and sacking, “too old at forty” and all the rest of the filth. And they must be run, and therefore we call on Caesar. Nobody but the Superman could descend to do such dirty work.

Now (to reiterate my title) this is what is wrong. This is the huge modern heresy of altering the human soul to fit its conditions, instead of altering human conditions to fit the human soul. If soap boiling is really inconsistent with brotherhood, so much the worst for soap-boiling, not for brotherhood. If civilization really cannot get on with democracy, so much the worse for civilization, not for democracy. Certainly, it would be far better to go back to village communes, if they really are communes. Certainly, it would be better to do without soap rather than to do without society. Certainly, we would sacrifice all our wires, wheels, systems, specialties, physical science and frenzied finance for one half-hour of happiness such as has often come to us with comrades in a common tavern. I do not say the sacrifice will be necessary; I only say it will be easy.

Chesterton was writing before the experts left the factory and office and ensconced themselves in the government bureaucracy – but it is all the same. We must be bossed because in order to get things done properly: we idiots must be compelled to do it. And no debate! No long-winded speeches and objections from people who, at all events, don’t know what they’re talking about. We don’t really need elections and then debates in Congress – we really just need a President with a Pen and a Phone; a bureaucracy which will make up the rules as it goes along; a Supreme Court which will merely ratify what the experts decree.

The experts, of course, would have a case if they at least got things right from time to time. But, they hardly ever do – and when they do strike gold, it is more explained by happenstance than design. The reason for this is that the experts are still, well, human beings. In the aggregate, no smarter than anyone else out there. The chance that a CEO, General or President will be a genius is as small as the chance that any given musician will be a Mozart – almost zero chance, that is. Geniuses do come along; no one knows why nor can anyone predict where or when. When they come, the can shake up society in astonishing ways – some times in quite alarming ways. But you can’t take it into account – it’ll happen when it happens, and all anyone can do when confronted with a genius is deal with it. But almost all people at almost all times are not geniuses. And in this fact is why, on the whole, experts are the worst possible people to have in charge – once they self-select themselves and isolate themselves from the currents of society they lack sufficient input to arrive at valid decisions.

As long-time readers know, I have a fund of knowledge about history. What I’ll say now – and I really don’t like saying it, because it smacks of bragging – is that my knowledge of history runs to the encyclopedic. Something made me pick up one of my father’s books of history around about 1975 and I simply never stopped reading. So, I am an expert, as it were, in history – and thus pretty up on what people do and why they do it. But I’ve also got an advantage that more recognized experts don’t have: lacking credentials, I have nothing to fret about on the score of ability and I am also quite comfortable in talking about things, even deep things, with people who simply lack the knowledge I have. I can’t begin to count the times I’ve been caught short by the opinions of the ignorant – how something they will say or some point of view they have will shake the vision I have and bring it into great clarity…or even lead me down paths I never suspected. That is what the loud and unruly debate of a vigorous democratic Republic is for – to bring to light things we might not have considered. You simply cannot run a society unless everyone has their loud and boorish say. Unless the idiots, that is, are deeply involved in the creation of policy, the policies will certainly fail.

Had we been engaged in a genuine give-and-take debate among all the citizens, we simply would not have done some of the bone-headed things we’ve done. Take, for instance, Vietnam – a full airing of what was going on and what was proposed would have certainly run to the creation of a better policy regarding that. I know this because it certainly couldn’t have run to a worse policy. Take any political problem you like and run it through your mind – think what would have happened had there been a real debate, rather than decrees from on high. When did we have the debate about how many people should move here? When did we have the debate about what public education should be like? Where was the endless, contentious discussion about what trade policy is best with China? There has been no real debate – things are worked out by the experts and they present their findings to us, and demand we just go along…and subtly (and, these days, less and less subtly) call us wicked morons if we dissent from their shiny, new policy proposal.

It all comes down to what you want. If you want a tyranny which will decree, then advocate for that. But if you want freedom, then you can only have it when it is brash, loud, ugly and messy. The idiots must be in charge, or you simply won’t have a Republic.