Tag Archives: Politics

The Benefits of Democracy

27 Feb

The chief benefit of any nominally Democratic form of government is not that it gives the Common Man his say – he is all too often a fool and frequently also a swine –  but the characteristic most commonly named as its major defect; it is inefficient. Not even the most hysterical of rabble-rousers can force it to move swiftly for long, and often they cannot persuade it to move at all. Consequently, many of the worst ideas loose among the chattering classes never move far beyond the college campuses and coffee houses where they are born. Those that do mostly collapse of their own stupidity long before they pose any serious danger to the public at large.

This may seem a fantastic statement, seeing how much Left wing nitwittery we have weighing us down in these modern times, but consider the fate of countries that have – or had – more efficient governments. In Russia and mainland China there were no checks and balances to hinder the visions of the State. The consequences of this efficiency can be counted in millions of deaths, and in widespread poverty, despair, and environmental ruin.

In the United States we are raised to think of the purpose of government to be the safeguarding of the common good, but historically this has never been the case. The purpose of government is, and always has been, to transform the will (and all too often, the whim) of the Head of State into reality, both practical and impractical. The history of this shows clearly that the average Head of State can no more be trusted with planning the future of his people than a five year old can be trusted with a gallon of nitroglycerine. Therefore it can be said that an efficient government is an authentic public menace.

We in the United States have escaped this menace. As we observe the fate of places like Russia or Cuba that did not, we should give daily thanks.

The Second Amendment/Gun Control Debate

6 Feb

Gun Control advocates like to complain that Second Amendment advocates do not take the subject seriously. They mock the rhetoric of those that hold that the Second Amendment is a protection against tyranny. “What good are handguns going to do against tanks?” they ask.

There are several answers to this.

In the first place, respect for the founding document of the nation is a basic issue. The “Living Document” argument is hogwash; there is a legal method for amendment included in the Constitution. If you want to change something about the Constitution or its amendments, and you are not prepared to undertake to pass an amendment, then you are a scofflaw. Claiming that it is acceptable to interpret the documents so that they are taken to mean something other than what they say is an attempt to weasel out of the necessity of referring any amendments to the People.

In the second place; who said the Second Amendment didn’t apply to Tanks? It doesn’t say anything about handguns; it just says “Arms”.

In the third place, while the authority of a tyranny may be secured with Tanks, it is implemented by the day-to-day obnoxiousness of petty government officials. And such vermin are, and should be, frightened of an armed populace.

Therefore I propose the following revision of the Second Amendment;

The occasional horsewhipping or lynching of an obnoxious government stooge being necessary to the security of a free people, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

The First Amendment Is Offensive

23 Jan

The problem with believing firmly in the First Amendment is the company it keeps. There is a blogger in jail in Alabama. I’m not going to name him, because his personal situation isn’t what I want to talk about. From everything I have read he is a raving twit who makes hysterical accusations against anyone he dislikes. He has been sued for that. Further, he has been uncooperative with the Judicial process, to the extent of not showing up for a hearing or hearings. Nevertheless, as matters stand he should not be in jail.

He was jailed because he defied an injunction ordering him to cease blogging about the plaintiff in the suit against him. Mind you, the trial has not taken place. When it does I have scant reason to doubt that this pillock will lose, and will have behaved badly enough that a jail sentence is a real possibility. But the trial has not yet taken place. The Injunction he is in jail for defying is attempting to prevent his from publishing what has not YET been ruled to be defamatory and actionable. The Injunction is clearly a violation for his First Amendment rights.

It’s tempting to just dismiss this. The blogger in question is a poisonous little twerp. The content that the fuss is over seems unlikely to be true, and likely to be found outside of the umbrella of opinion. The dweeble deserves to be in jail or fined. He’s in jail. What’s the problem?

The problem is that prior restraint of free speech does not just keep dweebles from posting fake stories about infidelities they fantasize that their enemies commit. It keeps perfectly decent people from exposing government wrongdoing, before the exposure of a trial. And if you wait until the people whose First Amendment rights you are defending are perfectly decent people, you will be behind the curve and wrestling against a weight of case law put in place to “get” dweebles, and other offensive jerks. A First Amendment that does not protect offensive speech is worthless, if only because it is almost always possible to find somebody who is offended at anything.

So we who care about Freedom of Speech end up defending jerks like Larry Flint, the KKK, The American Nazi Party (can you imagine the door prizes?), and this blogger from Alabama. And washing afterwards.

 

The Crank answers the pressing questions of the day….#3

16 Jan

“Why haven’t there been public inquiries into the banking collapse, to properly fix the blame?”

Because, since the Government started the whole mess by telling banks to lend money to people who couldn’t pay it back, the Government is deathly afraid that if it holds public hearings on who is at fault, it is likely to get told….in public.

Witch Hunt

9 Jan

One of the keystones of the Liberal version of 20th Century history is the 1950’s Anti-Communist Witch Hunt. Books have been written about it, films made about it, children are taught about it in school. It is an important part of the Liberal/Progressive collective self-image.

It is also largely bushwah.

The public perception of the Salem Witch Trials is based largely on the play THE CRUCIBLE in which teenage girls make baseless accusations against innocent people and cause their deaths. In point of fact the actual historical Trials had both more complicated causes and more complex endings. But THE CRUCIBLE, which was deliberately written to echo the author’s perceived persecution at anti-communism hearings, is routinely taught in public schools, and thus strongly influences the public perception of the Trials.  When something is described as a “Witch Hunt” it is tacitly understood that no actual “Witches” exist, and that anyone caught up in the hunt is an innocent victim. We Modern Educated People are invited to feel superior to those stupid Puritans who believed in witches, and to make the jump to believing that in the modern “Witch Hunt” we are being asked to condemn, there also isn’t any actual quarry. And in the case of the “Anti-Communist Witch Hunt” that simply isn’t so.

Under Stalin, the USSR’s intelligence apparatus ran dozens, possibly hundreds, of agents in the United State both during and after the Second World War. This is irrefutable; we have proof from Soviet era records as well as from contemporary intelligence intercepts. The American Communist Party was substantially funded by the USSR for years. Anger Hiss and the Rosenbergs were demonstrably guilty. Many, if not all, of the “victims” of the “Hollywood Blacklist” were passionate Stalinists who worked seriously, if probably ineffectually, for a Communist Revolution.

This isn’t to say that Senator Joe McCarthy was a hero. He was almost certainly a political bully and general jackass and any damage he may have done to International Communism seems likely to have been accidental. But to the Political Left he was an absolute gift. If he hadn’t been real, they would have needed to invent him.

Because, you see, without the myth that the hunt for Communist agents in the United States was an unjust persecution of enormous proportions the Left would have to face the fact that the Communists of that era were a selection of moderately stupid dupes of a genuine Monster. That, in turn, might force them to examine the stupidity of the later dupes who fell headlong for Mao, who was , if anything, an even bigger monster. And much of their cherished air of Moral Superiority would evaporate like morning mist on a hot summer’s day.

The facts are that there was some justification for various Leftist Socialist delusions at the beginning of the 20th Century, but that by 1950 anyone who wasn’t at least dimly aware that the USSR was a brutal dictatorship was ideologically blinded, or exceptionally stupid, or both. The Intellectual Left embraces Communism and related impositions because such systems hold out the mirage of a society run by Intellectuals. And never mind that the Intellectual Class of any nation that suffers a Communist Revolution is almost instantly liquidated by the thugs and psychopaths that always seem to end up actually running things.

The Western Intellectuals have been allowed to wrap themselves in false Moral Superiority for far too long. They are no improvement on any other self-selected elite of would-be aristocrats. They have not, in the West, ever, suffered anything like the persecution they deserve for promoting a system that spreads death and misery the way Communism does. They should be told in no uncertain terms that their Witch Hunt narrative is hogwash, their Moral Superiority bushwah, and their suitability to tell other people how to live as illusory as a syphilitic Bishop’s.

Zero Tolerance, Precious Snowflakes, and the End of Western Civilization.

14 Nov

If you even casually read the news, before too long you will run into a story about some ordinary Public School student being suspended for some totally harmless behavior, under one insane “Zero Tolerance” policy or another. A little more in-depth study will quickly uncover tales of bumptious parents raising holy hell because their child has been held to some kind of objective standard, instead of being given the deference  to which they are sure said little snowflake is entitled.

And this, in a nutshell, sums up what is wrong with the Public School System, and why it isn’t going to get fixed.

There was never a time when Public Schools didn’t include a degree of indoctrination. Never. But there was a time when there was an unspoken agreement between the Parents and the Teachers; the Teachers would indoctrinate the little house apes, and in exchange would also teach them to read, write, and do basic math.

At some point this broke down. Maybe it was when Education Policy became a Federal matter, and the Parents no longer felt they were in substantial control of the curriculum. It also might have to do with the failure of ‘modern teaching theory’ to pound the basics into pointed little skills. It doesn’t matter. The agreement is broken. Parents no longer feel powerful social forces pushing them to allow teachers to discipline their kids, so they are ready to raise Holy Hell if a teacher does something they wouldn’t (or wouldn’t have the guts to). In reaction, schools try to develop systems of regulation that allow them to maintain some kind of order, without opening them up to lawsuits. So they make “No Tolerance” policies that they can point to when they are in trouble.

And, predictably enough, in the midst of all this idiocy, the good, kind people who are attracted to teaching children for good reasons, are repelled from it by runaway stupidity. And that leaves the kinds of people who are attracted to teaching for the wrong reasons; the ones who like to exercise petty power over children. Who are even more inclined to make up “Zero Tolerance” policies. And who Parents are less likely to tract. And so on, and on.

It doesn’t seem to me that there is a way out of this downward spiral. Parents don’t trust the schools to discipline their kids because the schools keep proving that they can’t be trusted. At the same time, until Parents are willing to trust the schools again, the schools are going to be so anarchic that desperate Administrators are simply going to overreact at every opportunity.

School vouchers might break the cycle, if the schools that TAKE the vouchers make their policies clear and have the authority to expel students. Otherwise, that’s it. We’re doomed. In a generation or so, so little will actually be learned in Public Schools that the vast majority of high school graduates with be semi-literate simians.

Censorship and Porn

17 Oct

I was born in 1961, which means that I started to be interested in nude girls during the period when the standards for ‘girlie mags’ was shifting from the Playboy standard (no pubic hair, early 1960’s), to the Penthouse standard (soft focus pubic hair, 1969), and thence to the Hustler standard (sharp focus genitalia, 1974). For a while it looked like we’d be up the plumbing with a camera probe by the end of the ’70’s. Of course, as an adolescent I couldn’t buy these magazines. And if you think that stopped me (or any other motivated boy) from getting my hands on them, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I’d like to sell you.

The feminists of the day hated this. They asserted, with some justice, that pornography was demeaning to women. It’s hard to argue, but a lot of everyday things are demeaning. Ask anybody who’s worked in fast food. If they had merely called Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, and all their imitators tacky and in dreadful bad taste I would agree with them. I’d still look at porn, mind you, but I don’t pretend that it’s Great Art.

The problem is that they want to censor pornography. They want the government to ban it lest their tender sensibilities get hurt. Which means they have learned nothing from the history of the women’s movement; the governments of the past have routinely used censorship of pornography to punish those who want to educate about birth control. Censorship is not a power to grant to the State lightly, because once the State has that power over a category of expression, all manner of material that the State finds bothersome will be classified as belonging to that category.

And banning nudie magazines, or x-rated films, won’t do away with them. Certainly not in this day of cheap printers and digital video. All that it will do is hide it, to a degree, from the feminists, while removing any legal protections from the women who, for whatever reason, pose for it.

I have scant patience for feminism, as a rule. The vast majority of its champions strike me as upper middle class nitwits concerned almost exclusively with their own comfort ahead of anything resembling justice, or common sense. And they seem to religiously avoid anything really difficult, such as the treatment of women in Islamic countries.

I willingly admit, however, that The Sexual Revolution was for the most part NOT to their advantage. There is a song by Stephen Stills called LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH, and every time I hear the line

“there’s a girl sitting right next to you
And she’s just waiting for something to do”,

I cringe. I may not LIKE Andrea Dworkin and her sisterhood of “all heterosexual intercourse is rape” feminists, but when I consider that LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH was performed by a notorious Liberal, I can begin to understand why they are as mad as so many March hares on the subject.

But that doesn’t make them right. Pitiable, maybe. But not right. The spread of porn may be annoying, but it is far less dangerous than a State that believes it has the right and duty to censor what its citizens see.

So, I am against preventing the publication of images or writing that disturbs, annoys, or even demeans people. I do think that local populations should have some degree of control over what is displayed publicly. If a town wants to mandate that “Adults Only” publications must be sold in plain wrappers, I think they should be allowed to. I DON’T think that any local groups should be able to decide that people may not buy ‘filth’ over the internet, or view internet sites that feature it. I DO think that they should be allowed to limit what can be accessed on computers in publicly owned buildings, such as Libraries, because then it isn’t the viewer paying for it, it’s the taxpayers (at least in part). And nobody should be required to pay for something they consider demeans them, unless it is explicitly within the purview of the State (such as War; it’s right there in the Constitution.).

And, having said this, I’m not sure than there is a legal and constitutional way for local populations to do what I think they should be able to do. It needs thought. More thought than simply “Ban it all” or “No Censorship”.

A word on Gun Control and The Living Constitution.

10 Oct

The Constitution is a “Living Document” because there exists a process for its amendment. If you have a proposal (such as Gun Control) which is in clear violation of the Constitution as ratified and amended, and you are not proposing an amendment to address this, I must conclude that you are a scofflaw and a scoundrel. Consequently all your arguments and claims are suspect.

Vulgar

3 Oct

I should like to propose a renaissance of Vulgar. Not of Vulgar things, of which there is an ostentatious oversupply, but of the idea we can say that something is Vulgar, meaning; common, tacky, unartistic, and tiresome.

The thing is, in the culture wars every time something is said or shown that people don’t like, they reach for the Nuclear Option of claiming Offense and demanding that speech be silenced, ads be renounced, and so forth. Now, in the first place, since when did being un-offended become a Right? In the second, do we really want to give to some specific governing body the authority to remove the offensive? What if they decide that they are running things and they are offended by US?

The problem is the we have, as a society, abandoned the idea that it is possible to condemn speech without censoring it. The Free Speech radicals of the 1960’s shouted so loudly and to such effect that we aren’t prepared to draw the line anymore, for fear of being called names. And I, for one, propose to grit my teeth and accept the charge that I am unhip.

The problem with Rap Music isn’t that it crosses the line into what should be censored for the common good; for one thing I’m not convinced that such a line exists. The problem with Rap music is that it is tiresome, crude, and the opposite of clever. In a word; vulgar.

The problem with NEA exhibits like Andres Seranno’s PISS CHRIST isn’t that they are blasphemous. If God is insulted, Serrano will have a chance to explain himself in person before too long. The problem is that a group of self-appointed Intellectuals have decided that it is Art; which is absurd. It is an annoying attempt by a profoundly adolescent mind to get attention by attacking religion in an unoriginal manner with bathroom humor. In a word; vulgar.

The problem with the pronouncements of the Westboro Baptist Church isn’t that they are terrorists, or even that they are Bigots. Many a well spoken Bigot has had a long and successful public career (I’m looking at YOU Al Sharpton). The problem is that they are grating, boring, unoriginal, unintelligent …. vulgar. They don’t deserve to be spotlighted; they deserve to be identified and dismissed.

The term Vulgar just punctures SOOO many overinflated pretensions. It condemns and dismissed as unimportant at the same time.  It doesn’t trespass on people’s right to Free Speech; it simply proclaims the equal right of the people to ignore (or refrain from paying for) the speech of the adolescent, the tiresome, the crude, and the tacky. It is especially wonderful when applied to the so-called Fine Art that the Progressive Art World has inflicted on us for the past three quarters of a century or so. PISS CHRIST isn’t Fine Art; it’s a three dimensional political cartoon, of the type usually published by practitioners of what used to be (rightly) called Gutter Journalism. The claims that it is Art don’t even deserve the courtesy of debate; they are absurd and indefensible. Nothing like PISS CHRIST, that could be duplicated by a low grade moron in an afternoon, qualifies as Art. There is no craftsmanship in it. It is vulgar. It shouldn’t be censored, it should be ignored.

Join me. Call something vulgar today.

Abortion Wars

13 Jun

Let me start out by saying that I believe that Abortion should (with some carefully delineated exceptions) be legal. I do not believe that a fetus is human. For that matter, I am unconvinced that a newborn is human. However, I don’t think that I can prove either of these positions. Further, I am not persuaded that anyone else can either. Whenever the subject of abortion comes up on any of the several Blogs I read regularly, someone is bound to assert that Religion should not have anything to do with determining the limits or legality of abortion. Frankly, I find such assertions ridiculous on their face. What science actually knows about how the brain works is far from comprehensive, and what science knows about what makes each personality distinct can be inscribed on the head of a pin with a jackhammer. Since the core issue of abortion is when is a fetus a human being, and therefore when is it murder to terminate a pregnancy, any position is necessarily a matter of faith.

As matters stand, abortion is legal in all parts of the United States. But it is also under siege in almost all States, and its defenders appear to be unwilling to examine the motives and positions of their opponents with anything approaching honesty. Pro-abortion (or “Choice”) believers are far too prone to spin conspiracy theories about Religious Conservatives and their theoretical desire to “control women’s bodies”; they seem incapable to coming to grips with the simple proposition that anti-abortion (or “Pro-Life”) believers sincerely believe that all abortions are infanticide. One can, if one wants to make the effort, corner Pro-Abortion advocates into admitting that IF a fetus is human, and abortion is infanticide, then just about any action taken by Anti-Abortion advocates would be justified…but it makes no long-term impression. They either cannot or will not absorb the idea that their opponents might legitimately believe a different set of assumptions.

And this is why we are going to lose legal abortion in my lifetime.

Put bluntly: if the Anti-Abortion forces are right in their basic assumption about Abortion (that a fetus is human) then abortion is evil. At the same time, if the Pro-Abortion people are right in their basic assumption (that a fetus is not human), that has nothing to do with whether opposition to abortion is evil as opposed to simply mistaken. For opposition to abortion to be evil (which, frankly, is a position that the Pro-Abortion forces have taken) one has to assume that the Anti-Abortion forces are knowingly wrong about the humanity of a fetus and that they lie about their motives. There isn’t really a whole lot of evidence to support this view, and adopting it badly distorts Pro-Abortion strategy.

Because they (mostly) believe their own propaganda about Religious fanatics who want to control women, the Pro-Abortion faction is fighting bitterly to keep late-term abortions legal, and to stop the passage of parental notification laws. Both these positions are political poison.

No matter how well justified, late-term abortion looks like infanticide, will always look like infanticide, and tends to slide into infanticide, as the trial of Kermit Gosnell illustrates. By opposing legal limits of late-term abortions, Pro-Abortion advocates undermine their positions elsewhere.

Parental Notification is popular. Outside of the conspiracy fantasies of the Pro-Abortion extremists, the idea that a minor child should be able to undergo a significant medical procedure without parental approval or even knowledge is simply a non-starter. No amount of political ranting is going to convince any parent that a school nurse who isn’t authorized to give out aspirin without parental approval should have the authority to arrange an abortion for their daughter without telling them. I can, just barely, imagine a situation where getting a girl an abortion without telling her parents would be a good thing to do, but in each case I have managed to come up with a much better solution would be to get the girl made a ward of the court. In any case, situations that would actually justify not notifying parents to the satisfaction of the general public are very rare, and do not justify opposing parental notification laws because such laws are going to be passed and the cost of opposing them is the alienation of too many voters.

If it was simply the self-injury that the Pro-Abortion side does in public popularity by these positions, I might be able to shrug; most movements include a small but vociferous faction apparently bent on persuading the world that their cause is championed by a bunch of nuts. But the Pro-Abortion advocates are allowing their positions on these issues to drive them to take stances that are simply indefensible.

Kermit Gosnell is almost a caricature of the classic image of a back-alley illegal abortionist. Defending him may be simply a knee-jerk reaction based on never letting the Anti-Abortion position have a win, but jot makes the Pro-Abortion advocates look like they are far more interested in making sure minority babies die than in protecting the lives of minority women. Planned Parenthood has always been tainted by its founders dabbling eugenics, and this just smells like more of the same. If tolerating the existence of a pesthole like Gosnell’s clinic, and a butcher like Gosnell himself, is what is required to ‘allow minority women access to abortion’ then a major part of the point of legalizing abortion evaporates.

Similarly; attempts to evade existing parental notification laws are political disasters waiting to happen. Abortion is not a risk-free procedure. Sooner or later Pro-Abortion activists who try to help teens evade such laws are going to end up with the dead body of somebody else’s child on their hands. A child who – at least in the public mind – would not be dead if not for the interference of Pro-Abortion busybodies.

It is far too easy to forget that in any representative form of government, being right is not, politically speaking, enough. It is possible, even fairly common, to be right and still need to compromise. And if your actions show that a compromise with you cannot be trusted – by, say, you and yours cheerfully breaking laws that were legally arrived at – then your opponents have no reason to compromise with you.

The Pro-Abortion movement must learn to police its own, and to accept that its opponents have legal and moral rights. Or. It. Will. Fail.