Saturday, August 29, 2015

Is Conservative Anger Completely Justified?

     I have heard much recently about the anger in this nation generally, and on the Right specifically, being the inspiration for the unexplainable support for Donald Trump. Anger, properly focused, can be an agent for change. It was, after all, the anger generated against George W. Bush and Republicans which lead to the election of Barack Obama. And one would have to be in a coma to say that in the ensuing 6 1/2 years there has not been change. So while anger can lead to change, that change is not always desirable to the cause of Liberty.
     As for the anger that has birthed the explosive candidacy of Mr. Trump, one can make the case that much of it is generated and unfocused. The target of the Republican primary voter has been softened by the constant attacks over the last few years of the Republican "establishment" by some in Right-Wing media. So steps in Donald Trump, never one to miss an opportunity whether created by his actions or the actions of others, to coalesce the manufactured anger into poll numbers for his presidential campaign.
     Do not misinterpret my characterization of some of the current anger on the Right as manufactured to suggest that I believe all of it is. The cause of just anger about the current administration, and the seemingly weak opposition to it from congressional Republicans, has been compromised by exaggerations and emotionalism. The road to national redemption has been enveloped by the fog of political absolutism in judging current Republican office holders by the measure of what is perfect, instead of what is good.
     I have previously outlined the accomplishments of the Republican-controlled congress, such as cutting the deficit by 70% in the last 4 1/2 years. But for those who have drank the cool aide served up by Mark Levin, Michael Savage, et al, facts will not dissuade them from thinking that any Republican who holds elected office is part of the "establishment," and therefore worthy of derision and acrimony. My aim is at those who have not allowed themselves to pollute their intellects with the dirt of gossip, the dust of rumors, and the infestation of invective.
     I have tried to look at every situation, whether personal or public, as being not as good or as bad as some may define it. Especially those who may have an agenda for defining situations one way or another. And looking at the facts that have lead to the anger which has created out of whole cloth the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, I see some of that anger being justified and some being built upon the foundation of speciousness. I have always known that the truth and facts never mattered to the Left when they interfered with their political agenda. But the Donald Trump campaign has shown me that there are at least a quarter of those on the Right who seem to operate under the same fallacious understanding of reality.
    
    

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Which is the Greater Sin, Adultery or Hacking?

     The data breach at the infidelity dating site Ashley Madison has been heralded by some as those sinners who used the site to cheat on their respective spouses as just deserts, or the wages of their sin. But this response with no other consideration of a complex problem is a visceral response to a multi-faceted social ill. Let me state for the record that I am not in favor of anyone violating their marriage vows. But to use the moral absolutism of infidelity to justify the greater sin of the Ashley Madison hackers' righteousness in placing millions of the site's subscribers' family and friends in harms way is, in my opinion, a greater sin.
     We do not even know if the hackers were motivated by over active morality, or if they simply were a competing site trying to eliminate the competition. Even if those who engaged in the hack and have threatened to expose the subscribers if the site does not cease to function were motivated by decency, they have placed millions into a very narrowly defined characterization of infidelity.
     The hackers do not know for instance if all the names they acquired illegally even committed the sin of adultery. I wonder how many of those who subscribed to Ashley Madison ever actually acted upon their intent to commit infidelity? Is it fair for their names to be released publicly if they never engaged in the physical act of cheating? There may be millions more who may have myriad reasons for committing the sin of infidelity that are based on reasons that reach deeper than someone violating their marriage vows simply for the pleasure of sex with strangers.
     In any case, judging someone else's sin that is not inherently evil as if it were is a position fraught with a moral instability greater than the sin being exposed. Especially when that judgment is applied to millions of disparate sinners, as is the case with the subscribers to Ashley Madison. Does the moral superiority of the hackers (if the act indeed was committed for morality's sake) give them the authority to destroy countless others' lives who are the innocent victims of the sinners being exposed?
     The act of hacking into a database and acquiring its content is illegal, the owners and subscribers of Ashley Madison on the other hand have done nothing illegal. As for the morality of the two groups, the individual sin of adultery is in no way comparable to the sin of exposing millions of adulterers. And in thus doing, putting in jeopardy the emotional well being and mental stability of millions more who are innocent victims of both the adulterer and the hacker. The sin of infidelity can and often is resolved by the two people involved, many times without family or friends being aware of the sin in the first place. The Ashley Madison hackers have sinned to a greater extent because they have made that redemption less likely for millions of sinners.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Birth Rite Citizenship Under the Fourteenth Amendment

     The issue of birth rite citizenship under the 14th amendment to the U.S. constitution has unfortunately become an issue for some in the Republican primary race. I say unfortunately because once again some on the Right insist on making Republicans in general look obtuse and disconnected from political reality. One can argue about what the 14th amendment intended or did not intend with regards to granting citizenship to anyone born on American soil, but when it comes down to it the best these birth rite citizenship deniers can hope for is a stale mate when it comes to the actual constitutional definition of that controversial amendment.
     The argument I have heard made by some on the Right like Mark Levin is that birth rite citizenship does not exist under the 14th amendment if one considers the entirety of this contentious statement. Their entire argument rests upon redefinition of one word, i.e. jurisdiction. This is the word used in the clause immediately following the one which grants citizenship to anyone born on American soil. It adds the disclaimer that the potential citizen must also be under the jurisdiction of the United States.
     Those who deny the citizenship authority of the 14th amendment strain credulity by saying that jurisdiction actually means allegiance. That the citizen in waiting should have allegiance to the United States, not simply be born here. There is no definition of jurisdiction, nor any synonym of that word, that would lead one to make the intellectual argument that somehow it is connected to allegiance. Is there anyone who thinks that if the framers of the 14th amendment would have meant allegiance they would have just said so, and not couched it in the completely different word jurisdiction.
     The other argument that is made by some who argue against the 14th amendment's birth rite citizenship is that the constitution in Article 1, Section 8 gives congress the authority over making naturalization laws, and therefore can simply revoke  the birth rite citizenship making ability of the 14th amendment without changing the constitution. This would be a fools errand for the Republicans to initiate because it would surely be vetoed by President Obama and it is a certainty they would not get Democrats to join them in overriding that veto.
     Even the Article 1 powers of the congress is a specious argument for revoking birth rite citizenship. Clause 8, section 4 of the first constitutional Article clearly states that congress can make rules, not laws, with respect to naturalization. Now for those who say rules and laws are one in the same, why would the Framers of the constitution use rules in some clauses and laws in others? They clearly meant to make a distinction between the two and meant to funnel major changes with respect to naturalization into the constitutional amendment process.
     Even if those in favor of revoking the birth rite citizenship authority of the 14th amendment were completely correct, what is the political advantage to Republicans in a presidential primary season for taking up this cause? Absolutely none. In fact it will feed into the narrative that some have that Republicans are nativists and anti-immigrant. Besides, birth rite citizenship is just a small part of the illegal immigration problem that we have, why spend our political energy on it instead of on solutions that may have bi-partisan support and go much further to solving the problem?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Creatures of the Modern Men's Room

     I thought, if my readers would indulge me, I would break from the political punditry for today and lighten the mood with a post about the cultural oddity called The Men's Room. Now for you ladies out there, you may have similar experiences upon which I am about to expound, although I do not make a habit of frequenting the ladies room so I could not say for sure that you do. Following is an incomplete and slightly sardonic list of the various individual types I have been subjected to while frequenting the men's room.
     The first creature of the men's room is one I like to call the Preemptive Unzipper. This is the gentleman who walks into the men's room already having started to unzip his pants. I have never understood if this is because he thinks it is going to save him fractions of a second having to occupy the men's room, or if he just has that weak of a bladder. And that half a second saved pre-unzipping could mean the difference between successful urination in the proper place or wetting his pants.
     The Close Waiter is another of the exotic and strange creatures one finds lurking in the recesses of the modern day men's room. This is the guy who waits so close behind you as you do your business that you have to check to make sure he has not stolen your wallet. I am not sure if this gentleman is afraid someone else is going to sneak ahead of him, or if he is just a space invader in general. I am sure many of these types leave little space between themselves and the person ahead of them in any line.
     Next in our cavalcade of the odd creatures encountered in the men's room is the Incessant Talker. This jovial spirit is just a little too gregarious for the environs of the men's room, and can not seem to desist from engaging in conversation. It is almost as if this guy thinks he entered a cocktail party instead of the men's room. He begins speaking the moment he enters and does not stop until he leaves. I am not sure if this behavior is an aid to the process in which he is engaging, or if he really has that few friends that he must talk to strangers trying to answer nature's call.
      One of the most perplexing visitors to the men's room is the Sink Bather. This irregular creature not only washes his hands when he is finished with his business, but his face, arms, and other parts of his body. I am not quite sure if this guy does not have proper facilities where he lives, or if something in his childhood requires him to elevate personal cleanliness to an obsessive level. But it is frustrating for anyone waiting to just wash their hands having to watch someone using the sink as a human bird bath.
     Lastly, there is the Hand Waver. This is the guy who does not quite know how to activate the electronic paper towel dispenser, and subsequently stands in front of it waving his hands furiously. Watching the Hand Waver is a strange mix between watching an avant garde dance recital and the guys at the airport with the flashlights who guide the planes to their proper stopping point. Usually by the time they get the machine to work their hands are dry from all the waving.
     I am sure there are other creatures that one can find in the modern men's room, but these are the ones which come to my mind on this slightly overcast day. But I must close this post and get to work on my real job, besides I have had too much coffee here at my local coffee shop and must use the men's room before I leave. I wonder which of the exotic creatures I might happen upon during this visit? Maybe I will discover a yet undiscovered species, one can only hope.
           

Friday, August 14, 2015

Accountability is a Four Letter Word

     When I was in high school I read a book entitled "Fahrenheit 451," a futuristic cautionary tale in which firemen actually started fires. This week I was reminded of that great novel as I read and heard the news of the massive toxic spill perpetrated by the Environmental Protection Agency in Colorado. The spill, which released millions of gallons of toxic heavy metals into the Animas river, will potentially have a damaging effect on the eco-systems stretching into New Mexico.
     It is odd that I do not hear the same rhetoric in this ecological disaster caused by a government agency, as was being spewed from the Obama administration during the BP/deep Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico a few years ago. There is no talk of "keeping a boot on the throat" of the responsible party, or a phalanx of government lawyers being sent to the scene by the Department of Justice. There is no talk of compensation for the victims of the spill, or talk of the innocent wildlife being put at risk by the actions and callousness of those responsible.
     One of those responsible whose name has barely been mentioned, if at all, is Sean McGrath. Mr. McGrath was an Obama White House politico who was bestowed with a regional directorship in the Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. McGrath, like most of the Obama administration, has no real environmental experience or education (beyond being a congregant of the global warming church), but was placed in charge of the region now threatened by his own agency.
     This incident should be educative of the utter futility of the kind of top-down, centralized government model being advocated by those on the Left. It is illustrative of the need for state and local control of such issues instead of a distant bureaucracy in Washington. It is as well exemplary of the counter-productivity of political hacks being appointed, not for their skill and knowledge in a particular discipline or area of expertise, but because of their political favorability with the president. To the extent that an agency like the Environmental Protection Agency is needed, it should be formed and populated by the people of the states, and not used as some kind of political ATM to payoff loyal subjects of an imperial president.
     Of course this unconstitutional empowering of the bureaucratic state to make law through an out-of-control regulatory structure pre-dates the Obama administration. And the tyrannical nature of the Environmental Protection Agency was evident from its beginnings when its director banned the chemical DDT based not on the reams of scientific data, but a book called "Silent Spring" written by environmental fanatic, Rachel Carson. The recent spill, and the closed-mouth explanation by those responsible, i.e. the Environmental Protection Agency, is just another example of the arrogance of government where authority is placed in the hands of the incompetent but politically connected, and accountability is a four letter word banned from the DNA of the bureaucratic state.
    
    

Monday, August 10, 2015

Misdirected Conservatism

     It has occurred to me in the four days since the first Republican presidential debate that many on the Right have legitimate anger, although misdirected at times, but a somewhat retarded understanding of the tenets of conservatism. I think their hearts may be in the proper place, even if their intellects are not. This would explain the Donald Trump phenomenon and the almost surreal anti-Republican congressional leadership sentiment that has escalated to toxic levels in the last couple of years.
     The most fascinating aspect of the rise of Donald Trump as a legitimate presidential contender in the esteem of many of his supporters is their dichotomy of criticism for the other candidates. In one Feld swoop they question the conservatism of all the other candidates on one issue or another, or in some cases criticizing them for changing their position on a single issue, while completely ignoring the complete 180 degree turn that Mr. Trump has taken on all the issues. They seem so much more forgiving of this recent Democrat-turned-Republican than lifelong conservatives who may have taken a conservatively unpopular decision on an issue or two.
     And then there is the criticism of the Fox News moderators at the debate. Some on the Right have complained that they "picked" on Trump (especially him and his thin-skinned supporters), while others have said they focused too many questions on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. I think the focus on these two social issues are a direct result of both issues sucking up so much of the public debate oxygen. The former as a result of the release of undercover videos, and the latter in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision on the issue.
     My opinion has always been that there is no separation between the so-called "social issues" and the fiscal ones. And in the past when many of my conservative brothers and sisters have said we should focus on monetary policy and move the social issues, like abortion, to the back burner of public debate in order to win elections, I have maintained that it has been our inability to connect the inextricable link between the social and fiscal issues which has been our downfall in winning more support.
     My fear is that some on the Right have come to conservatism out of anger over the current administration, instead of the deeply held belief that conservatism is a moral and social imperative, whether one is talking about an individual or a nation. The tenets of conservatism are constructed of the study of natural law, the Judeo-Christian values of the Bible, and the founding documents of this great nation. They are unemotional, reasoned, and devoid of artifice and acrimony. As conservatives we should always measure our words and actions against the most successful conservative of the last 50 years, Ronald Regan. Against that measure I think many of our leaders in politics and media have come up woefully short. 
    

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Big Show

     As everyone who follows politics knows, tonight is the big night when the first Republican debate designed to choose a nominee to compete in next year's general election is held in Cleveland, Ohio. It is fitting that a political Party that has been down on its luck in recent national elections is holding its first presidential debate in a city whose sports teams have not won a national championship since the Cleveland Browns accomplished that task in 1964. And although the Republicans have wrestled control of the Senate and the House of Representatives away from the Democrats in just a span of 4 years, it has not translated into very many legislative victories for the beleaguered Party.
     As all the pundits have said, the candidates with the most to lose in tonight's debate are frontrunners Donald Trump and Jeb Bush. This is especially true for the fiery, yet unfocused and politically unvarnished Mr. Trump. This week the Donald has prepared his devotees and opponents alike that he is not a debater. This will further highlight his glaring deficiency in the characteristics of statesmanship and presidential bearing needed to win a general election. Mr. Bush's take away from tonight's debate will not be so extreme. I look for him to neither harm nor help his cause in any substantial way.
     The two candidates on the main stage tonight I see as helping themselves most, and distinguishing themselves from the crowded field, are Scott Walker and John Kasich. Governor Walker and Governor Kasich have both been successful in their respective states. And while Mr. Walker has greater name recognition, Mr. Kasich should not be counted out. Governor Kasich has achieved top ten status after only entering the race two weeks ago. He also appears to have a rare talent of being able to combine reasoned plain talk with just the right amount of passion, something missing from the poll leader in this race.
     The candidates that did not make the top ten in the popularity polls are scheduled for what has been called by some as the "kids table debate." It is unlikely that any of these Republican National Committee step-children will catapult themselves into the top tier of the race as a result of their participation in the not-ready-for-prime-time debate. However, there are certainly some substantial candidates that will step onto that earlier stage and belt out their message with passion and reason in hopes to gain traction in the polls.
     I would watch for Carly Fiorina to be the candidate in the first debate who will be the focus of attention in tomorrow morning's debate post-mortem. As for the main event, I do not think the focus of attention by pundits will be on a winner as much as the disaster that is sure to be Donald Trump's performance. This will be good and bad. It will be good because it means the cartoonish sensibilities that the Donald has brought to the race will begin to fade. It will be bad because a substantive performance by one or many of the other candidates will be overshadowed. No matter what happens tonight, it certainly will be a big show worth the price of admission.