August 31, 2012
Mark Fitzgibbons follows up on his work on the Faquier County farmer harassed by county officials for for hosting a birthday party for her ten year old daughter in violation of a zoning ordinance which demanded she get a permit.
The question arises; do we live in a free society or not? Apparently not - and many are fine with that. For example:
"An editorial in the county's fourth estate, the Fauquier Times Democrat, responds to the American Thinker piece "Pitchfork Protest Farmer Confronts Government Corruption and Retribution" by defending the corruption and lawbreaking by the county and its zoning administrator, Kimberley Johnson.
"The days of doing whatever you felt like doing with your land have been over since zoning came into existence nearly 100 years ago," the editorial states. That timing coincides with the rise of the progressive movement in America. "There's no going back now, nor are there any particularly compelling reasons why we should want to," it concludes."
By this reasoning slavery was just fine after Dred Scott v. Sanford because it was now the way things were done; we legally had to return slaves to their masters. Following their logic we should have allowed ever more oppressive and restrictive slave laws to be imposed. Where would we be now? Slaves would doubtlessly be with us today, wearing bar codes and transponders to keep an eye on them. That the law was unjust meant people opposed it. And, just because we accept certain limitations on our freedom does not mean we accept more and more of them. I have no problem with the government imposing a reasonable speed limit on how fast I drive, but I DO have a problem with them imposing a limit on WHERE I drive, or how far I drive, or what kind of vehicle I drive. I don't have a problem with being required to maintain liability insurance on my car to indemnify other drivers should I be at fault in an accident but I DO have a problem with government ordering me to buy full coverage insurance so my car looks good. Ditto health insurance for the privilege of being alive.
Freedom is only to be curtailed where there is an obvious, direct imposition on one's neighbor. Safety codes, for instance, were instituted to protect other people. Cars used to be checked to make sure the brakes and lights worked and little more. Housing inspections were done so that a landlord was not supplying an unsafe environment for an unsuspecting tenant. But it has gotten away from that and become a matter of asthetics and a way to advance Progressive social engineering schemes. This type of curtailing was never intended to advance "fairness" or regulate society. It was purely supposed to enfringe licence, not liberty.
A commenter on the article posted the official's information. Everyone should contact the culprit here:
Address: 29 Ashby Street, Suite 310, Warrenton, VA 20186
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
(This first appeared in American Thinker.
Campaigning at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio last week, President Obama raised quite eloquently -- okay, succinctly -- the question of where one should turn for help in pursuing one's happiness. The answer: government, "applause"; family, "booo." http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/08/21/remarks-president-campaign-event-columbus-oh
Making a pitch for greater government control of student loans, Obama cited himself as an example of the value of education, saying, "I got an education and it worked out pretty good. (Laughter and applause.)"
The White House website, which dutifully records alleged audience reaction in its transcripts, does not specify whether the "laughter" here was at the expense of the Harvard lawyer's primary school drop-out grammar, so we must assume it was not.
At any rate, Obama then went on to contrast his approach to funding post-secondary education with his opponent's.
"I'm only standing before you because of the chance that my education gave me. So I can tell you, with some experience, that making higher education more affordable for our young people -- it's something I've got a personal stake in.... That's part of the reason why November is so important. (Applause.)
And I say this because putting a college education within reach for working families just doesn't seem to be a big priority for my opponent. A few months ago, just up the road, in Westerville, Governor Romney said, if you want to be successful, if you want to go to college or start a business, you can just -- and I'm quoting here -- "borrow money if you have to from your parents."
AUDIENCE: Booo "
Let's interrupt here for a moment to take stock of Obama's rhetorical bait, and the audience's (intended) response. The choice Obama is setting up is clear: more government entitlements, requiring more taxation and more federal regulation of outcomes, versus private citizens relying on their own available means, and parents who see their children's future as their own responsibility, rather than yet another moral obligation they can pass off to "society."
Obama's audience greeted the latter option -- people taking responsibility for their own lives, and parents taking care of their own children -- with boos.
Sensing he was on a roll, Obama continued his inspiring plea for making every young person a ward of the state.
THE PRESIDENT: When a high school student in Youngstown asked him what he would do to make college more affordable for families like his, Governor Romney didn't say anything about grants or loan programs that are critical to millions of students to get a college education. He said nothing about work-study programs or rising college tuition. He didn't say a word about community colleges or how important higher education is to America's future. He said, the best thing you can do is shop around.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: The best thing I can do for you is to tell you to shop around.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: That's it!
THE PRESIDENT: That's it. That's his plan. That's his answer to young people who are trying to figure out how to go to college and make sure that they don't have a mountain of debt -- shop around and borrow more money from your parents.
So when a teenager asks how he is to pay for his education, the proper response is to recite all the ways government can force other people to help him. Imagine Romney's gall, therefore, in suggesting that a young person might have to "shop around" for an affordable school. Shopping around implies that one cannot simply go where one likes and do what one pleases without fear of the consequences.
One can easily understand why this notion would be an outrage -- not to mention incomprehensible -- to the president.
After all, in Obama's land of opportunity, every youngster without means ought to be able to parlay his laziness, lack of inquisitiveness, and extensive drug use into a grand tour of America's great universities, from Occidental to Columbia to Harvard. Every hard-partying, class-cutting student-activist mediocrity ought to have a chance to be elected president of the Harvard Law Review, once Harvard Law has conveniently abandoned its traditional method of selection (grades).
Somehow, this opportunity was presented to Obama, and no one can deny that this "worked out pretty good" -- for him, at least. Following his plan, and with a little luck, in a generation, America might be blessed with an entire population of young Obamas -- men and women with egos that far outstrip their accomplishments, a sense of entitlement on a grand scale, and a vested emotional interest in defending and supporting progressive programs that produce government dependency and love for Big Brother.
Rejecting this path to "progress" would require families to be more circumspect in planning and saving for their children's futures. It would require young people to think rationally about which schools are legitimately available to them. As opposed to saddling "society" with one's bills, in one way or another, which promotes irresponsibility, relying on one's family for assistance would tend to instill students with a sense of appreciation for the opportunity they have been given, and a feeling of obligation to prove oneself worthy of the family's sacrifice.
And yes, rejecting Obama's progressive path might also mean that some young people would have to forego post-secondary education altogether, in favor of other avenues. The push for universal college education has created a plethora of college programs teaching skills that could be -- and in the past, would have been -- taught in secondary schools, or learned by other means, such as through apprenticeships. This, in turn, has created among employers an unnatural reliance on these unnecessary college programs, which become an easy but inadequate substitute for a proper vetting process. No diploma, no job -- skills, character, and motivation be damned.
(Take one easy example: does anyone believe that newspapers are better today, hiring only journalism graduates, than they were fifty years ago, when there were few college graduates on the entire staff? If a young Ernest Hemingway applied for a job at the Toronto Star today, the college graduate receptionists would laugh him out the door.)
By pushing everyone, and every kind of training, into colleges and universities, governments and their corporate cronies have achieved an effect similar to that of promoting the phony goal of universal home ownership. The market has been rigged to produce artificially inflated demand, which causes costs to rise, as the law of the market follows its predictable path, even when the market has been distorted by government intervention.
And here we come to a fundamental divide between Obama's view of higher education as a government project and Romney's view of it as essentially a private family matter. The difference is that Obama's view would shield education from market considerations, whereas Romney's depends on conditions of economic freedom.
Shopping around requires a competitive market, which is what Obama seeks to skew to the point of obliteration with government loan and grant programs that would remove any remaining market restraints on tuition rates, causing them to skyrocket far beyond even today's inflated levels. If everyone "must" have a post-secondary education, and everyone is provided artificial access to whatever funding is required by means of unlimited government largesse, then we need not be Milton Friedman to see which way the tuition winds will blow. The river of money flowing into higher education, on which its salaries and perks depend, widens and deepens.
And, naturally, when the government-precipitated "student loan crisis" comes, government will blame the market and demand more money ("investment") and regulations. ("Applause.")
So what's wrong with telling young people in search of higher education to "shop around and borrow money from your parents"? Absolutely nothing, once you understand that the alternative to that option is to give the federal government, rather than parents, a controlling interest over children's lives, and a moral and financial claim on their future. If everyone must borrow through government channels to pay for higher education, everyone ends up a debtor, not master, of the government.
Obama is arguing these days that the existence of government programs that "help" you overrides any claims you might make to private ownership of your life and success. (That is the underlying meaning of "You didn't build that.") This is why he is always seeking to create more programs to "help" you in more ways. The aim is to make the web of government beneficence so omnipresent and inescapable that finally Obama's illogical argument -- government takes your wealth to pay for programs; the existence of these programs proves you have no right to that wealth -- will begin to seem perfectly rational.
Only health care approaches education in its power to reveal the full meaning of progressive social policy. In the name of helping "working families," Obama wants to finish the left's job of driving a permanent wedge between parents and children, replacing a traditional and all-important family responsibility with the caring hand of government.
The aim is to universalize the responses of Obama's audience in Columbus: families should care for their own -- "booo"; government should provide for and control everyone's future -- "applause."
Applause for the supplanting of family by government, the demise of familial obligation, and the annihilation of the next generation's sense of personal responsibility -- this speaks volumes about just how far "forward" America has already traveled. Full speed ahead?
By Alan Caruba
We have already begun to hear calls for civility in the remaining ten weeks of the campaigns until Election Day. While I take this for granted from Republicans, I have not seen much evidence of it from Democrats.
Television ads claiming that Mitt Romney caused a woman to die from cancer or portraying Paul Ryan as pushing on old lady in a wheelchair off a cliff are not my idea of civility if the definition of civility also includes telling the truth.
Taking their cue from a President who is currently lying about everything from "our plan worked” to "the private sector is doing fine”, the Democrats are stuck with this blatantly false message.
I want you to watch and listen to the level of Democrat hysteria that will follow Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech. It will tell you everything you need to know about the weeks ahead between now and Election Day.
Currently, the Democrats are pushing a claim that there is a Republican "war on women.” Please! On the same night that Paul Ryan gave his acceptance speech, he was preceded by former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez.
Expect more ofthe same deliberate deceptions as Democrats desperately try to keep the focus on anything other than the economic mess they "inherited” and did not fix. They created the mess with their housing policies that demanded and rewarded banks for making bad mortgage loans. Those chickens came home to roost in 2008 as George W. Bush's second term was coming to an end and they have been blaming him ever since!
Winston Churchill warned that "We must beware of trying to build a society in which nobody counts for anything except a politician or an official, a society where enterprise gains no reward and thrift no privileges.”
That is a description of the last nearly four years of the Obama administration, replete with a shadowy super-class of White House officials dubbed the "czars.”
As any historian or student of history will tell you, presidential campaigns in America have not been distinguished by civility. Vicious attacks between opponents were the order of the day from the earliest days following the precedent-setting two terms held by our first President. For much of the late 18th and throughout the 19th centuries, the name-calling was often virulent.
Writing recently in The Wall Street Journal, Robert Dallek http://online.wsj.com/artic/SB10000872396390444358404577611991333983910.html?KEYWORDS=Negativity+is+Postively+Venerrated+in+Poliicsnoted that "Character assassination so often trumps policy differences in presidential campaigns for a couple of reasons. Despite all the public hand-wringing about negative advertising, political veterans will tell you that it persists because, more often than not. It works. But tearing down the other guy has another attraction: It can be a substitute for building much of a case for what the mudslinger will do once in office.” The key word here is "substitute.”
Back in 2010 when voters demonstrated their dissatisfaction with Obama’s conduct of national and international affairs by returning control of the House of Representatives to Republicans, political pundit Karl Rove wrote, "If Mr. Obama is serious about his commitment to courtesy and respect, then he will need to demonstrate presidential leadership and rein in the verbal excesses of the leaders of his party.”
One example was the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who characterized conservatives as "reptiles” and "fire-breathing tea party nut jobs.”
More recently over at CNN, a reliable platform for Democratic Party spokespersons, both Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer were so appalled by Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s lies about the Romney-Ryan approach to saving Medicare and repealing Obamacare that they were forced to strongly reproach the DNC Chairwoman in ways not frequently seen on television.
In April 2010, the results of the Allegheny College Survey of Civility and Compromise in American Politics revealed that voters were well aware of what they deemed a lack of civility.
"A whopping 95% of Americans believe civility in politics is important for a healthy democracy” while "87% suggest it is possible for people to disagree about politics respectfully” and "nearly 50% of Americans believe there has been a decline in the tone of politics since Barack Obama became President.”
Among the factors that caused Sen. John McCain to lose the 2008 campaign was his unfailing civility; his refusal to focus on Obama’s total lack of preparedness to be President, his hiding of personal records reflecting what little was known of his life beyond his two memoirs, the hollowness of his themes of "hope and change” as well as his promise to "fundamentally transform” America.
With the selection of Paul Ryan, we see that candidate Romney, a man of unfailing civility, has learned the lessons of 2008. Ryan, who knows the problems afflicting the economy as well as Romney, has demonstrated that he is eager totake on and condemnObama’s appalling record of failure. Happily, Romney has been doing so as well on the campaign trail. They are telling the truth and the Democrats are calling it uncivil.
The Democrats, however, just can’t help themselves. From the President to the Democrat leaders in Congress, along with those leading the Democratic Party, the charges levied against Republicans, the Tea Party movement, and GOPcandidates have been replete with claims that they are crackpots, hate women, and are racists have persisted and will be heard again and again between now and November 6th.
Regarding Obama, this writer has been impolite in the past, but this writer is not running for office or receiving a paycheck from the Republican Party. I could have been more polite, but then I would have failed to point out in the strongest possible way the threat of four more years of a President Obama and the failure of the Democratic Party to avoid more than forty months of high unemployment, crony capitalism, the seizure of General Motors and the nation’s healthcare system. Et Cetera!
The Presidentcontinues to blamehis predecessor for his failureswhile the Democratic Party in 2012 takes the low road to political power over our lives and the future of the nation.
The same sunny optimism that propelled President Reagan into two terms in office and the same steely determination after 9/11 that gave George W. Bush two terms will, I am confident, do the same for Mitt Romney.
I fully expect the Democratic Party convention to be acesspool of incivility.
© Alan Caruba, 2012.
August 30, 2012
(This first appeared at American Thinker http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/08/the_last_line_of_defense_property.html#ixzz251vhmlbN)
"Property is theft." Proudhon's classic anarchist paradox is more than a catchy slogan for international leftism. It encapsulates a complete and comprehensively absurd view of humanity -- one which finds its contemporary apotheosis in President Obama's more prosaic rendition, "You didn't build that." In other words, "You didn't build that" is just "Property is theft" without the irony.
By speaking his true mind for a change, without teleprompted euphemism, Obama conveniently highlighted the heart of today's civilizational crisis: the war over the meaning and legitimacy of property.
The "fundamental transformation" Obama seeks to impose on America has many practical manifestations, but all his sundry means relate to one basic end. This is the permanent "transformation" of a nation grounded in the principle of individual self-ownership (the philosophical foundation of property rights) into a nation grounded in the principle that everything you have is merely on loan to you from the great gods of collectivism -- "society," "history," and "government."
Let's begin with the progressive argument against private property, expressed in Obama's own infamous words. (Recall that the context is his call for the wealthy to "give back"):
"If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. ... I'm always struck by people who think, "Wow, it must be because I was just so smart" -- there are a lot of smart people out there. "It must be because I worked harder than everybody else" -- let me tell you something, there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.... Somebody invested in roads and bridges -- if you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the internet so that all the companies could make money off the internet."
As for the first paragraph, Obama's point is clear, and the hateful straw-man mockery of his tone drives it home: any practically successful person who is proud of his achievement is a fool, for in truth, something other than his own intelligence and effort is responsible for his success. The identity of that "something," as if we couldn't guess, is spelled out in the subsequent paragraph. Government is the provider, the facilitator, the ultimate source of all individual success. Thus, government has a legitimate (and seemingly unlimited) claim on the results of individual success.
The upshot of all this for the question of property is undeniable: private property is an illusion, the selfish fantasy of those who ignorantly believe that their possessions are the earned fruit of their labor. Your prosperity is the product not of your effort and skill, but rather of the general social conditions in which it was achieved. The public roads, the public education system, and other government projects which form the common background of practical existence obviate any inviolable claim you might make on anything you have acquired against that background. You owe your wealth to society, because "somebody else" (i.e., government) made it happen.
What this means, translated into plain terms, is that the existence of government proves that there can be no private property. That is to say, your claim to property rights is refuted by the existence of the very programs that government coercively appropriates your wealth to pay for.
Furthermore, the implication that mere effort does nothing to establish any special claim to the products of such effort, due to the socially provided context of the acquisition, flies in the face of any reasonable theory of property. No one ever claimed that property is acquired in a vacuum -- not any more than that life is lived in one. It goes without saying that property is acquired in a social context. The concept of property rights would have no significance outside a social context. Rights are by definition an individual's claim against violations of his person and possessions by other people.
It is no more rational to suggest that property rights are trumped by the existence of public schools or roads than to say that they are trumped by the air we share with all other humans or the genes we owe to our ancestors.
A reminder of what a rational understanding of property -- and the one dearest to many of America's founding fathers -- looks like will not only show the incoherence of Obama's post-Marxist absurdity, but also reveal just how fundamental this issue is to the calamity Western civilization faces.
Locke, in Chapter 5 of his Second Treatise on Government, begins his discussion of property with a premise that is as commonsensical as it is extraordinary: "Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men [in the state of nature], yet every man has a 'property' in his own 'person.' This nobody has any right to but himself."
That is, the concept of property is grounded in your inviolable ownership of yourself. All other property is derived from this initial case, by a very natural extension of the principle of self-ownership, which in turn derives from the right of self-preservation.
"The "labour" of his body and the "work" of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever, then, he removes out of the state that Nature hath provided and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with it, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state Nature placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it that excludes the common right of other men. (Book II, § 26)
By nature, you own your mind and body, and hence you, necessarily own the efforts of your mind and body, from which it follows, in turn, that you own the results of those efforts, assuming that these results are not already the rightfully acquired property of another. And once men pass beyond the "state of nature" in which things are given to all in common, to be claimed by individuals by means of their labor, into the realm of those goods which are already the property of other men, that labor which established initial ownership develops into the social practice of voluntary exchange (i.e., a market) through which new property is acquired.
Locke's way of tying the origins of property rights to the principle of voluntary social interaction is as clear as can be, and as clear an indictment of today's progressives and their entitlement-drunk dupes as one can find.
"God gave the world to men in common, but since He gave it them for their benefit and the greatest conveniences of life they were capable to draw from it, it cannot be supposed He meant it should always remain common and uncultivated. He gave it to the use of the industrious and rational (and labour was to be his title to it); not to the fancy or covetousness of the quarrelsome and contentious. He that had as good left for his improvement as was already taken up needed not complain, ought not to meddle with what was already improved by another's labour; if he did it is plain he desired the benefit of another's pains, which he had no right to, and not the ground which God had given him, in common with others, to labour on. [...] (Book II, § 33) (Emphasis added.)"
In other words, rightful property is acquired by one's effort and through consensual exchange. Coercion rooted in "the fancy or covetousness of the quarrelsome and contentious" is theft, and thus its product cannot be property, as one has no right to another man's labor, physical or intellectual.
The reason why one has no right to the fruit of another man's labor is not to be casually glossed, and it cannot be overemphasized: the other man's labor is itself his property, derived from his most fundamental property, namely himself. (This explains why state-controlled medicine is the ultimate policy prize of leftists; it directly attacks the heart of property rights, the right to the use and preservation of your own person.)
This brings us back to modern progressivism, and its chief mouthpiece, Barack Obama. By denying the inviolable right of the "successful" to the legitimately acquired result of their intellectual and physical efforts, Obama and his cohorts are denying the successful man's ownership of himself.
By implication, of course, this denial, though overtly aimed at the "wealthy," is a collectivist net thrown over everyone. It is a denial of your self-ownership, and thus of your right to self-preservation. On this principle, you live by the grace of the state, with its roads and public schools, and therefore have no real claim on anything you might achieve or acquire in this life.
Private property is the key target of the left's attack on freedom. Leftists know, in their blood if not in their minds, that property is their opponents' last line of defense in the civilizational war. The right to property is the practical expression of individualism -- i.e., of the belief that the individual is the ultimate human reality. Collectivists reject this notion, believing instead that individuals are literally the products of history and culture, and that these latter terms are the ultimate realities.
"You didn't build that" is a perfect expression of progressivism's loathing for the individual. There are no individual property rights, because individuals do not exist as such. They are merely derivative parts which owe their lives, their preservation, and the fruit of their labor to the whole, to society -- in practice, to the state.
The fight to preserve private property is the political expression of something even more profound. It is the last stand of mankind's battle to preserve reason, which teaches the metaphysical and moral primacy of the individual, against the irrational hordes for whom the collective is the only reality, the mindless conformity of "self-expression" the only morality, and coercive brutality the only truth.
Since Daren Jonescu has a discussion about the importance of property rights, I decided to dust off an old essay from 2005 that first appeared at American Thinker.
The First Right
Property rights are the fundamental building blocks of Liberty. The freedoms we enjoy in these United States may be our heritage through Natural Law and given to us by the Creator, but the free exercise of those fundamental rights is dependent upon a devout view of the sacred right to property.
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling which stated, in effect, that the government of the United States has no interest in protecting property rights, and that these rights are at the mercy of state and local jurisdictions. While this may not be the end of private property, it certainly removes another brick from the foundation of liberty, and continues the long assault on private ownership which we have witnessed in this country. We should all be concerned; if we allow our rights to property ownership to be taken from us we will lose all other rights in the process. Tyranny is harvested from government control of land.
Our Founding Fathers believed in Natural Law. They believed that God had written His Law in the fabric of the Universe, and that the laws of man should be based upon those higher precepts which evinced themselves. The Founders looked to the great natural philosophers of their day for guidance on setting up a better system of governance, and they appealed to Natural Law:
``We hold these truths to be self—evident, that all Men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
These words did not come out of a vacuum. More precisely, they came from the English philosopher John Locke, who, arguing from Natural Law, claimed all men had a right to Life, Liberty, Health, and Property. Jefferson and company changed the wording slightly (on the urging of Ben Franklin) because they believed that property rights would be self—evident (given the source quote) and because they did not want to exclude non—property owners from the rights enjoyed by all. Still, it is clear that they intended property ownership to be a sacred institution, and considered it important enough that it was addressed in the U.S. Constitution under the Bill of Rights (which many of the Founders did not want to include, since they thought these rights should be self—evident.)
Locke believed that government existed by virtue of a compact between peoples, and he saw protection of property rights as the primary purpose of government. He states in his Second Treatise on Government:
Sect. 3. Political power, "then, I take to be a right of making laws with penalties of death, and consequently all less penalties, for the regulating and preserving of property, and of employing the force of the community, in the execution of such laws, and in the defence of the common—wealth from foreign injury; and all this only for the public good."
Furthermore, Locke stated:
"Government has no other end than the preservation of property."
Locke`s position on property rights was hardly original; the concept can be traced back into the mists of time. Certainly the Romans had an extensive Real Property law, dating back to their original legal document, the12 Tables, in 450 BC. The Byzantine Emperor Justinian, in his summary of all Roman laws, codified property rights in the Corpus Juris. The Bible deals with the matter in the highest legal writ; 2 of the 10 Commandments address property (thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet thy neighbors house, or goods) and the Jewish legal books (Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) make it clear that man has a right to property ownership.
The Founders understood property as a sacred trust. Consider these words:
"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence."
"Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life; secondly, to liberty; thirdly to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can."
"The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management."
—Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816.
It`s interesting to note that only landholders were allowed to vote when the Nation was founded.
The fundamental importance of property rights have been reaffirmed countless times by numerous sources. English Commentator William Blackstone believed a right to property
"tends to man's real happiness, and therefore justly concluding that . . . it is a part of the law of nature."
Daniel Webster stated
"No other rights are safe where property is not safe."
Pope Leo XIII in his 1891 Encyclical Rerum Novarum made it clear that Catholic doctrine recognizes the sanctity of property. http://www.osjspm.org/cst/rn.htm
If possession of property is at the pleasure of the state rather than a Divinely ordained right, it means that the ultimate owner is the government, and that the "owner" is merely a tenant who is then subject to whatever rules and qualifications the government sets down. This means that the freedoms we take for granted — speech, press, assembly, etc. — can be circumscribed by this government. Government can seize your property, forbid your use of land or buildings or personal effects if you fail to behave in the required manner. How can you have freedom of the press, say, if the press and the presshouse are controlled by the government? Freedom of Property is the lynchpin of these other freedoms.
Unfortunately, property rights have been under a continuous assault for quite some time. We have seen government impose property taxes, which essentially make the owner a tenant http://www.americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=4603 since he has to keep paying for the privilege of living on his own property. We have had the Civil Rights Act which, although well intentioned, restricted the rights of business owners to choose their clientele. We had the Fair Housing Act which restricted a property owners' right to sell to whomever he wished, restricted the right of property owners to covenant, and restricted the right of landlords to rent to whomever they choose.
We have had Federal forfeiture laws which allow the government to simply seize property if they have reason to suspect criminality. We have recently seen governments ordering landowners to maintain their property in a wilderness state if they have a persistent mudpuddle. We have seen local authorities ordering restaurateurs and bar owners to forcibly ban smoking in their establishments, despite their own wishes. Now we have local governments taking peoples' property, not for the construction of roads or bridges as is permissible in the Constitution, but to sell to developers. And the Supreme Court of the United States claims there is no Federal issue here!
On the contrary, this is clearly a matter of Federal jurisdiction. Since the beneficiaries of these Eminent Domain forfeitures will often be out—of—state businesses and organizations, the Interstate Commerce Clause comes into effect. In fact, the Supremes recently ruled that even medical marijuana use of plants grown and consumed within a single state is regulated under this clause, thus affirming their view that virtually every activity falls within their purview. Strangely enough John Paul Stevens wrote the majority opinion in both cases. His respect for Federalism is oddly divided; to Stevens, everything falls under his authority except where property rights are concerned.
So, who benefits from this? Obviously, developers and wealthy interests stand to gain by being able to purchase property at market rates rather than being soaked by holdout sellers. Also, the local governments and planning boards will make out quite well from the (ahem) incentives they will surely receive.
The big winner here, though, will be environmentalists. Without Federal intervention the Greens will be able to persuade city councils to exercise Eminent Domain not for development but to close vast tracts of land. They will be able to forcibly evict property owners to make way for darter snails and dung beetles, and liberal city councils will find their palms well greased to exercise their Mafioso—like powers. Unless the States themselves act to remedy this, we will see enviromentalist land—grabs everywhere —especially in "blue state" areas like Vermont, Washington State, and New Mexico.
Even though this particular issue may well be resolved at the state level, it still points to a dark malady in this country. We have simply lost our zeal for the right to property. Too many people think that democracy should extend to property rights, and that the will of the majority should trump a landholder or property owner's rights.
This is at heart a problem which transcends government; this is a moral and philosophical issue. Why, for instance, aren`t we controlling our borders? I would argue that part of the reason is that Americans don`t value property rights enough; many of us don`t want to scratch a line in the Arizona sand and say "You shall not cross!" Many among us don`t believe we have a right to possess this land, and don 't believe that our ownership means we can exclude others. Too many Americans no longer believe in the sanctity of property.
This particular case may not, in itself, be a watershed moment; however, the issues it raises are vitally important to the future freedom and security of the United States. Will we remain a land where freedom is jealously guarded, where we enjoy security in our persons and property, or will we follow the ruinous path trod by the socialist and fascist? What separates us from the despot is our right to property. It is our first right, it is a gift from God, and we would do well to remember that.
August 29, 2012
As I've been talking about possibilities of Barack Obama canceling the elections, I submit Gary Gutting, philosophy professor from the ostensibly Catholic Notre Dame, arguing in the New York Times that, yes, the elections should be canceled.
Gutting engages in a Socratic dialogue with, well, Socrates (who is a huge Obama fan and thinks Paul Krugman is the seal of the economic prophets).
Here is an excerpt.
"G: You don’t see any difference between Obama and Romney?
S: Oh, I do. I’m very impressed with Obama, no question. He’s intelligent, courageous, self-controlled and has a good sense of justice. Just the sort of person I had in mind for my philosopher-rulers. But none of that’s going to make a difference to the American voters. The election’s likely to be close, and in any case the outcome will turn on the October unemployment report, the price of gas, an Israeli attack on Iran, who has the most money for attack ads in the last two weeks or some other rationally irrelevant factor that you don’t yet have any hint about.
G: But surely you’d prefer to let Obama make his case to the American people rather than let blind chance decide the outcome?
S: I think letting the American people decide is no different from leaving it to chance. The vast majority of you don’t know enough about the issues or the candidates to make anything like a reliable decision. (It was the same in Athens in my day.) Take the economic issues all your commentators say will be decisive. I think Paul Krugman makes a decisive case that, for all its flaws, Obama’s approach to the economy is likely to be far more effective than anything Romney and Ryan have in mind. But there are prominent economists who reject Krugman’s argument. If Krugman’s right, you can’t trust the experts who disagree with him. So why should you trust the judgment of the non-experts whose votes will decide the election?"
"G: So you trust the politicians more than you trust the people?
S: Yes, I do. For all their failings, most politicians are reasonably sincere, honest, and much more intelligent and educated on the issues than their constituents. Very few of them come up to the standards I set, but once freed from the necessity of courting uninformed public opinion, most of them could do a creditable job of making decisions in the public interest. And remember, without elections, politicians would no longer need the vast amount of money that gives big donors so much influence."
I would think this is tongue-in-cheek but I really don't believe it is; I think it illustrates the mindset of the modern liberals, the view that the public is too dimwitted to govern themselves and must be led by the nose. The Platonic idea of the Philosopher kIng - with themselves as the philosophers - reigns supreme in liberal circles. They BELIEVE! They are convinced that it is possible to find men of good will who know more and are better able to organize people's lives than those people themselves, and that they are the ones who they've been waiting for.
I can't count the number of times I've had arguments with liberals about socialism and they blurt out "it's just a matter of finding the right people!" They cannot believe, refuse to accept the scandalous notion, that it is not possible for a small group to create a more just, more competent,better society. It is a God complex; they refuse to put their faith in a God who is ultimately in charge and arrogate to themselves the duty and authority to run people's lives. They forever believe that utopia is possible with the proper alignment of society. It's a belief that borrows from the christian and Jewish religions, the Garden of Eden, the Fall, and the promise of redemption. The liberal believes in these things, but in a secular way; a Green garden where the workers owned the means of production and shared and shared alike. The Fall whereby Capitalism led to wage slavery and alienation, and the eventual restoration of paradise through political revolution and the enthroning of philosopher kings like Barack Obama. It is a faith without a transcendent God, a faith that holds Man as the ultimate end to history and the human mind the answer to all problems and the source of all happiness.
That's why liberals are rarely happy; they have made themselves gods. It's bitter to be a god when you can't even handle your own affairs.
But what caught my eye here was the fact that, more and more, liberals are openly speaking about suspending elections. They are channelling their inner Stalins here.
Will Obama try to cancel the November election, perhaps during an emergency such as a war with Iran? I think him capable of it. He believes what he is doing is too important to have it undone by conservatives, a people he thinks of as evil. Conservatives are the fallen angels of the liberal Book of Genesis. And the liberal intelligentsia are loathe to get so close to victory and have it taken by the rubes with their pro wrestling, nascar, and truck and tractor pulls. Obama is the Messiah, and Obama has openly courted that very view of him. The Jewish vision of the Messiah was of a conquering king who would restore the land and rescue the People. Obama is the left wing's Jewish Messiah. He cannot, must not be allowed to fail.
The increasingly vitriolic nature of the new left and the Occupy Movement, modeled as it is on the "Arab Spring" (indeed, Google and other liberal organizations went to Egypt and Libya and worked out the techniques that I am certain they will be loathe to avoid using here in America) suggests an unwillingness to simply accept the will of the People.
A nation must hope for the best and plan for the worst. That is how freedom is protected. We would be foolish to trust the likes of Obama, Sunstein, Van Jones, William Ayers, and the host of other 60's radicals and revolutionaries who have infested our nation's halls of power.
A sinister plot to assassinate the President or a black op to get Obama re-elected? You be the judge.
Arctic sea ice is back in the news. It seems that the National Snow and Ice Data Center has reported http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ that sea ice is at the lowest recorded levels in history at this point in the summer, and once again the spectre of Global Warming/Climate Change/Climate Disruption/ Planetary flatulence has reared its ugly head. (By the way, for those who are interested, the name Kennedy means "ugly head" in Gaelic.)
This led to a panting at the New York Times:
""It’s hard even for people like me to believe, to see that climate change is actually doing what our worst fears dictated,” said Jennifer A. Francis, a Rutgers University scientist who studies the effect of sea ice on weather patterns. "It’s starting to give me chills, to tell you the truth.”
"It’s an example of how uncertainty is not our friend when it comes to climate-change risk,” said Michael E. Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University. "In this case, the models were almost certainly too conservative in the changes they were projecting, probably because of important missing physics.”
But what does it really mean?
First off, the recorded history goes back only to 1979 when satellites began measuring the Arctic ice extent. Then there is the matter of details; there has been no statistically significant warming of the planet since 1995 and so one must ask how Arctic sea ice has melted in that case.
And what of the Antarctic?
As Steven Goddard points out, most 5 year old ice is lost in winter, not summer, and the loss of older ice coincides with the ENSO and other weather patterns.
"The vast majority of multi-year ice melts during the winter, not the summer. The period from 1988 to 1996 saw a huge amount of winter MYI lost, as it was blown out into the North Atlantic."
Goddard supplies graphs showing how ice levels and the strong ENSO of the latter 20th century correlate quite closely. Bear in mind; new ice melts quickly. It's the 5 year plus ice that sticks around.
And one must bear in mind that there was an enormous storm that rocked the Arctic this summer, a storm that pushed a great deal of sea ice out of the Arctic.
Oh, and another thing; the NSIDC report http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/27/sea-ice-news-volume-3-number-10-part-1-new-arctic-extent-record/ gives the current figure at 4.1 million KM, yet their own report http://nsidc.org/pubs/notes/74/Notes_74_web.pdf suggests a much higher amount of ice at 4.7 million, meaning this is not a record at all. (Hat tip: Wattsupwiththat.com).
Yes, there was ice melt; 6 thousandth of 1%!
Again, I ask; by what mechanism is anthropogenic global warming melting ice when there is no statistical warming? But that won't stop the Gang Green, who have staked their entire future on this dubious scheme of convincing the planet is about to melt.
Reince Preibus, RINO chairman of the Republican Party, has publicly stated the GOP would not spend one red cent on Todd Akin. "He could be tied. We’re not going to send him a penny” the GOP chairm flamed.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXicHWeAIZ
The astonishing thing is that Preibus said this after claiming he and the GOP were seeking men who would put principle and the good of the country over selfish interests. Isn't that exactly what Preibus and the other wizards in the GOP are doing? They are willing to give the seat to the Democrats rather than be defied by a maverick conservative. It is pure personal pique.
The hypocrisy is astonishing. Let us not forget the actions of many other GOP mavericks in the past; John McCain, Arlen Specter, Susan Collins, Olympia Snow. We have been told by the GOP that, yes, these "mavericks" are disagreeable to the conservative base but we are duty bound to support them rather than surrender their seats. But now a man truly acts in a maverick fashion and the GOP would rather give the seat to the Democrats.
This whole Akin business is about power. It's about who controls the GOP, about who controls the conservative movement, too. So many conservatives jumped on the "dump Akin" bandwagon and now have egg on their faces, and so would rather give up the seat then change tacks now.
Lest anyone believe otherwise, one need only but look at the troubles at the GOP convention where the party establishment has tried to ram a series of rule changes down the throats of conservatives, to cement the power of the elites to choose candidates and stifle dissent.
This is a power grab, and it ties closely with GOP refusals to support Todd Akin; the party elite want to run the conservatives and particularly the religious right out of the GOP or at least make them impotent in the party.
What were those rule changes? One issue - that delegates to the convention would be chosen by candidate himself and not apportioned by votes in the states - has been abandoned. But what of the others?
"The first rule to be proposed is one that would give the Republican National Committee the power to change rules between conventions with a three-quarters vote of the RNC. One source tells me, "With a Republican President, of course this is doable. Everybody will roll over if a President Romney asks them too. They’ll be able to get Ben Ginsberg’s proposal next year.”
"The second rules change would front load winner takes all primaries. Grassroots conservatives point to both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum as reasons to stop this rule. Had there been front loaded winner takes all primaries, neither the Gingrich nor the Santorum campaigns would have been able to get any traction.
"This is going to be a fight on the floor if they don’t back down. They have too much pride to back down and we’re going to humble them,” said one delegate to the convention"
These changes mean the return of the "smoke filled rooms" with party bosses deciding the fate of the electoral process. If the RNC can change rules at any time they own the entire process, and primaries and caucuses are mere shams. Ronald Reagan, for instance, would never have won the nomination if such a rule were in place when he ran.
Again, this and the Akin business are flip sides of the same coin. This is a power grab by the RINOs.
And it suits the candidate chosen by the GOP establishment just fine. I warned everyone was going to be disappointed in Mitt Romney, and he's already busy disappointing. Romney is infinitely preferable to the current tenant of Pennsylvania Ave., but he is not interested in changing leadership, in bringing new leadership to the GOP. He is the old guard candidate, and he'll run things as an old school establishmentarian. It's going to be business as usual. America cannot afford business as usual; we are on the brink of catastrophe'.
How can the GOP make real reform in this country when half of the party wants to shut the reformers out? That is exactly what is happening here.
More than ever, I hope Todd Akin wins election this November. We need a good man who will buck this crowd.
August 28, 2012
CFACT advisor Dr. Kelvin Kemm has written another article about economic development, renewable energy, sustainability and environmental activism. As a South African, physicist, business strategy consultant and advocate for better living standards for all Africans, he understands better than most how futile ... and ultimately harmful ... the quest for hydrocarbon-free "green” energy actually is – and how hypocritical Al Gore, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and other eco activists are, when they tell the rest of the world how to live.
Germany’s new "renewable” energy policy
Wind and solar power + soaring electricity prices = outsourced jobs + more coal burning
Meanwhile, eco activists demand "sustainable lifestyles” – for other people
It is amazing how biased the international media is when it comes to reporting on energy generation, specifically electricity.
In mid-August, Germany opened a new 2200MW coal-fired power station near Cologne, and virtually not a word has been said about it. This dearth of reporting is even more surprising when one considers that Germany has said building new coal plants is necessary because electricity produced by wind and solar has turned out to be unaffordably expensive and unreliable.
In a deteriorating economic situation, Germany's new environment minister, Peter Altmaier, who is as politically close to Chancellor Angela Merkel as it gets, has underlined time and again the importance of not further harming Europe’s – and Germany’s – economy by increasing the cost of electricity.
He is also worried that his country could become dependent on foreign imports of electricity, the mainstay of its industrial sector. To avoid that risk, Altmaier has given the green light to build twenty-three new coal-fired plants, which are currently under construction.
Yes, you read that correctly, twenty three-new coal-fired power plants are under construction in Germany, because Germany is worried about the increasing cost of electricity, and because they can’t afford to be in the strategic position of importing too much electricity.
Just recently, German figures were released on the actual productivity of the country’s wind power over the last ten years. The figure is 16.3 percent!
Due to the inherent intermittent nature of wind, their wind power system was designed for an assumed 30% load factor in the first place. That means that they hoped to get a mere 30% of the installed capacity – versus some 85-90% for coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectric facilities. That means that, when they build 3,000MW of wind power, they expect to actually get merely 900MW, because the wind does not always blow at the required speeds. But in reality, after ten years, they have discovered that they are actually getting only half of what they had optimistically, and irrationally, hoped for: a measly 16.3 percent.
Even worse, after spending billions of Euros on subsidies, Germany’s total combined solar facilities have contributed a miserly, imperceptible 0.084% of Germany’s electricity over the last 22 years. That is not even one-tenth of one percent.
Moreover, the actual cost of Germany’s wind and solar electricity is far and away higher than its cost of coal and nuclear power. So much for "free” solar and wind. So much for all the German jobs that depend on reliable access to plentiful and affordable electricity.
As to natural gas produced via hydraulic fracturing, that too is prohibited, even if it is required to back up undependable wind and solar facilities. No wonder Germany’s natural gas and electricity prices are practically unaffordable.
Meantime the extreme greens continue to preach about the wonders of life based on solar and wind power. They also talk constantly about "sustainable living,” a "sustainable future,” and an otherwise hydrocarbon-free and "decarbonized” tomorrow. Be warned! What these vacuous exhortations mean is that people must not enjoy the lifestyles and living standards of a modern world.
They mean the First World must cut back significantly on its living standards, and the developing world must give up its aspirations for achieving the lifestyle of the First World.
Believe me, African small-scale farmers all dream of becoming like the large commercial-scale farmers they see next door. They do not wish to plough their fields with oxen, when their neighbours have tractors and automated grain handling machines. The same is true of small-scale commercial and industrial operations in which an affordable and reliable supply of electricity is essential. It is likewise true of virtually every office, shop, hospital, school and family on the entire African continent.
Meanwhile, in South Africa, an organisation calling itself "Green Truth” has distributed a notice about a newly released movie titled simply "Fuel.” Here is part of the promotional notice:
"FUEL is a comprehensive and entertaining look at energy: A history of where we have been, our present predicament, and a solution to our dependence on foreign oil. Rousing and reactionary, FUEL is an amazing, in-depth, personal journey by eco-evangelist Josh Tickell, of oil use and abuse, as it examines wide-ranging energy solutions other than oil; the faltering US auto and petroleum industries; and the latest stirrings toward alternative energy.
"The film includes interviews with a wide range of policy makers, educators and activists such as Woody Harrelson, Neil Young and Willie Nelson. Tickell knew he just couldn’t idly stand by any longer. He decided to make a film, focusing on the knowledge and insight he discovered, but also giving hope that solutions are at reach. A ‘regular guy’ who felt he could make a difference, he spent 11 years making this movie, showing himself – and others – that an individual can indeed make a difference. Stirring, radical and multi-award winning energy documentary! FUEL features experts and eco-celebrities such as: Sheryl Crow, Larry David, Richard Branson and Robert Kennedy, Jr.”
The notice frequently emphasizes "sustainable living” and "a hopeful future.” And the singers, actors, activists and other energy "experts” featured in the film are all extremely wealthy, and not at all likely to adopt the "sustainable” lifestyle that they and Tickell advocate so passionately.
Does this film have anything to do with "truth” about energy? Or is it simply a propaganda film for the producers’ and activists’ version of "sustainable lives,” for others, though not for themselves? It takes but a fleeting moment to realize that it is just like Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth” – leagues removed from truth, and laden with scientific errors, personal biases, and the hypocrisies of affluent partisans who own big houses and fly private jets to events where they tell other people how to live "more sustainably.”
I’m sure "eco-evangelist” Josh Tickell is just "a regular guy,” just as his movie promo says he is. But I would much rather have my country’s electricity future planned by electrical engineers and scientists, and by citizens and politicians who actually live here – rather than by a "regular guy” environmental activist and his self-proclaimed "experts” on energy and "sustainable” lifestyles.
As formerly eco-evangelist Germany has demonstrated, countries cannot afford to have national energy policy moulded by movies like "Fuel” and "An Inconvenient Truth.” Their policies – and their future – need to be based on genuine truth and honest reality.
Dr Kelvin Kemm is a nuclear physicist and business strategy consultant based in Pretoria, South Africa. A member of the International Board of Advisors of the Washington, DC-based Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), Dr Kemm has been awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievers Award of the National Science and Technology Forum of South Africa.
I've chronicled the war on Big Dairy that has been ongoing for a number of years now, and have shown that the government of the United States has actively sought to damage the dairy industry. Here is but one more example.
Writing in Canada Free Press, Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh made the following observations after seeing advertising trying to get milk, cheese, and hot dogs out of schools:
"UN Agenda 21’s 40 chapters outline human activities and decisions that are not sustainable based on environmental impact on global land use, global education, and global population control and reduction: family unit, farming, commercial agriculture, livestock, pesticides, herbicides, grazing cattle, irrigation, paved roads, private property, fossil fuels, golf courses, ski lodges, consumerism, logging, dams, reservoirs, fences, and power lines."
Aye; this is about control of the food supply and with it control of the population. Cattle has always been particularly onerous to the Left, since cattle consume four pounds of grain for every pound of meat they produce and also contribute their flatulence to the array of greenhouse gases, as well as damage "pristine" creeks and springs with their hooves and their feces. The Left hates cattle, but too many people - even vegetarians - will use cattle products, especially milk and cheese. It is a function that must be removed.
The war on dairy is just a beginning in promoting Agenda 21.
August 27, 2012
Mark Fitzgibbons chronicles more on the war on the family farm.
From American Thinker:
A Virginia farmer has been shut down for hosting a birthday party on her property (for ten year old girls) without a permit. The county has been hounding her with their spiffy new regulations, which include such societally-critical things as forcing farmers to carry other people's produce in their farm stores, and regulations forcing them to sweep up dust on their driveways.
Make no mistake; this was done at the county level, but Mark speaks of an environmental group that is cozy with the county rulers, and it represents a wider goal of the Left. The family farm - and the ability of the public to produce food for itself - is a cornerstone of America, and a pillar of American freedom. Control of the means of production of food is one of the primary goals of statists the world over; it means control of the population. If government decides who eats and who starves they own the citizenry.
This sort of thing is happening across the country. While this particular incident may be at the local level, it is a warning shot across the bow to America that they are coming for our food.
Take a man's gun, take a man's land, lock up his food and water, and he's yours. This should scare us.
The similarities between the popular SimCity game and our increasingly unpopular governments are uncanny … and troubling.
My op-ed this week with climatology professor David Legates explores this disturbing trend. As it observes, the SimCity game has intruded into our real world. In fact, it is being replicated in our real world, at the local, state and especially federal level. Far too many politicians, planners, bureaucrats and judges see themselves as intellectually gifted rulers, who know what’s best for us citizens. They treat communities, businesses, families and people like let’s-pretend virtual realities in a SimCity, SimState or SimNation – helpless, ill-prepared to make our own decisions, and in need of constant, pervasive "guidance.”
What America needs today is LibertyCity – as a game to teach the principles of limited government, free enterprise, and free and responsible citizenship. Indeed, we need LibertyCity in reality too – at all levels of our society and government, to replace the nanny state that seeks to rule every aspect of our lives and livelihoods.
Governments treat us like Sim-citizens: with fewer rights for us and no accountability for them
Paul Driessen and David Legates
Back in 1983, during the information processing Cretaceous Period, Maxis developed a new genre of educational, yet entertaining computer games. The latest version will be released next year.
SimCity allows players to build virtual cities by zoning land, adding buildings to enhance the needs and desires of Sim-citizens, adjusting tax rates, building power and transportation networks, and making other municipal decisions. Players don’t win or lose. They employ their knowledge of city life and urban planning to determine whether their SimCities thrive – or become uninhabitable urban deserts.
Sim-citizens are essentially helpless. They don’t populate your city unless you, the benevolent dictator or mayor, give them what they need and want. You can zone land residential, but citizens cannot live there unless you create commercial land nearby, so that a supermarket can be built. They can’t get to the supermarket until you build a road. Now they are happy but have nowhere to work. So you zone more commercial land and create jobs, by establishing businesses, highways and rail lines. To keep them happy, you, the all-seeing, all-knowing mayor, build stadiums and parks. And on and on it goes.
The beauty of SimCity is threefold. First, players get to be overseers of growing virtual communities, calling the shots and having the citizenry respond to their decisions. They really can tell their Sim-citizens, "If you are successful, it’s because I invested in roads and bridges, and created this Sim-system that allowed you to thrive. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. I made it happen!”
Second, the lives of every Sim-citizen are completely dependent on the actions of the players/mayors, who succeed only if they are intelligent, thoughtful and responsible. However, no matter what happens, the virtual citizenry can’t assemble, protest or vote them out of office.
Third, even if players make monumental mistakes, create a fetid urban cesspool, or even kill off their virtual populations, they just start over, without accountability or penalty. After all, it’s only a game.
The problem with SimCity game theory is likewise threefold.
First, it has intruded into our real world. Far too many politicians, planners, bureaucrats and judges see themselves as intellectually gifted rulers, who know what’s best for us citizens. They treat communities, businesses, families and people like let’s-pretend virtual realities in a SimCity, SimState or SimNation – helpless, ill-prepared to make our own decisions, and in need of constant, pervasive "guidance.” They live in a theoretical world, in which their actions have only hypothetical consequences on virtual people.
Instead of limited government focused on real needs, problems and priorities, we now have massive, intrusive government deciding and regulating every facet of human life and behavior. Instead of free, responsible people making free, responsible decisions, so long as they do not harm others, supposedly omniscient, benevolent governing elites seek to control energy and transportation systems; what people may eat, drink and even say; what kinds of cars they may drive, toilets they may flush, and shopping bags they may use; even what kinds of views they may hold if they want permission to open a business.
Government of, by and for the people has almost "perished from the Earth.” Instead, government by fiat presents us with 2,700-page laws drafted by legislators who "know what’s good for us,” coercively enacted so that "we can learn what’s in them” – and turned over to unelected, unaccountable, equally omniscient and benevolent technocrats who convert the laws into 27,000 pages of new regulations and 270 new criminal sanctions.
Second, SimCity methods too often substitute for the real world. Our ruling elites increasingly use computer models to create virtual reality energy, economies and businesses, and "observe,” "measure,” forecast and govern the real world outside their windows. Too often, the models are based on erroneous or politicized assumptions, compounded by outdated or incorrect data – and yet are used to produce GIGO analyses and conclusions that determine and justify agendas, decisions, taxes, laws and regulations.
If predictive models say we are depleting our oil and gas reserves, we should ignore new exploration, drilling and production technologies that are dramatically increasing petroleum output. If hockey stick models say rising carbon dioxide causes catastrophic global warming, we should discount actual global temperature trends and past weather and climate events of equal magnitude and duration. If Keynesian models conclude that higher taxes and deficit spending will bring prosperity, then 8.3% unemployment and 1.7% growth simply mean we need even more taxes, regulations and "stimulus.”
A spinoff program, SimEarth, purported to model the climate and allow players to regulate climate conditions by adjusting atmospheric gases, continental drift, reproductive rates of various life forms, topography, solar output and other factors (which is more than most IPCC climate models consider). Players could also create oxygen generators and other technologies, to fine-tune their planets’ atmosphere, climate and evolutionary processes. An unfortunate legacy of SimEarth is the fallacy that humans really can centrally-manage our Real Earth’s climate – a belief that is seen clearly in today’s energy and climate change policies and the almost religious belief in climate model prognostications.
Third, under SimCity rules, politicians and bureaucrats steadily acquire, and constantly seek, more power and control over the businesses, lives and livelihoods of more people. They seem to forget that Americans are not virtual Sim-citizens, but real breathing people, with real families, businesses, needs, homes, hopes and dreams that are buffeted, punished and sometimes destroyed by excessive laws and regulations.
Worse, the ruling classes too often exempt themselves from the rules and penalties they inflict on everyone else. They want decision-making power, the right to spend billions in taxpayer money, the authority to impose regulations and penalties on companies and citizens. But they refuse to accept responsibility, conduct due diligence or be held accountable when they make monumental blunders that cost people their businesses, livelihoods, homes or lives. To them, it seems, it’s only a game.
Thus, members of Congress impose Obamacare but can’t be bothered to pass a budget or rein in runaway bureaucracies. Energy Department officials responsible for Solyndra and other "green” bankruptcies keep their jobs and keep pouring billions of OPM (other people’s money) into new crony-corporatist schemes. An ATF official deeply involved in the "Fast and Furious” debacle that got agent Brian Terry killed goes on "extended leave” but keeps his six-figure salary, fattens his government pension and double-dips at J.P. Morgan. The modelers and scientists implicated in ClimateGate and other highly questionable activities get more billions to advance an hydrocarbon eradication agenda. And on and on it goes.
When playing SimCity, it’s always tempting to seek more control – to be able to say to Sim-citizens: "You need to live next to that industrial complex” or "You have to move into that 10-story housing complex that has apartments of 800 square feet per family.” It worked under communism; it should be an option in the game. For that matter, SimCity dictators should be able to raise Sim-citizen taxes and hire jack-booted thugs to rough up Sim-recalcitrants who refuse to obey. Claiming victory would be so much easier, even if the outcome was a dismal failure – just as under real world totalitarian governments.
The United States cannot and must not operate under SimCity rules. It is the people – not the government – who innovate, improve the world, care most deeply about their fellow citizens. It is the people who create businesses and jobs, provide goods and services, and allow free, responsible, hard-working fellow citizens to achieve more than they ever could on their own. As President Obama suggested, government can and should help facilitate this. But too often it throws obstacles in the way, and functions as a not-so-benevolent SimCity dictator.
What we need is a LibertyCity game. It would be like SimCity, and players would still be mayors, but citizens would enjoy and be responsible for government of, by and for the people. Make taxes oppressive, and you get replaced. Squander money by padding the pockets of your friends, and you land in jail. Invest in fly-by-night enterprises like Solyndra or Fisker Automotive, and you are out of office. Turn into a heavy-handed dictator, and you get kicked out of your own game, and the 13-year-old down the street takes over. Maybe then both you and the kid would learn how government is supposed to work.
In fact, we need LibertyCity in real life too – right here, once again, in the United States.
Maybe in 2013, we can play LibertyCity, instead of laboring four more years under arrogant SimCity centralized government control. Actually, that’s what the November 6 election is really all about.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. David Legates is a professor of climatology at the University of Delaware.
In "Jarhead,” the classic book about Gulf War I, a group of Marine veterans travel to Michigan to attend the funeral of one of their former war buddies named Troy who died as a civilian driving to work. With the Marines drinking constantly, only slowing down hours before they had to lift Troy’s casket at the cemetery, they decide a day after the funeral to visit the favorite bar of their late buddy. The story then tells how one of the Marines then voiced is anguish to a female bartender, saying "that if she could get him so f***ed up that he forgot Troy was dead, he’d give her $100.”
The problem is that even if the bartender had some drink strong enough to make the Marine forget his buddy’s death, its effects wouldn’t last into the next day. But that young Marine’s wish, of wanting to quickly (or instantly) overcome his grief, is shared by every sober doctor and psychologist who works to relieve Post Traumatic Stress, be it military and/or civilian in origin.
Researchers studying the chemical composition of memory processing, especially repeatedly occurring bad memories that cause frequent nightmares, have yielded some results, small victories. A January 2012 article at NPR’s website explains:
Scientists wanted to find out the reason why people with PTSD can't sleep and dream normally. One theory comes from Matthew Walker, a psychology researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. His particular interest lies in rapid eye movement, or REM. It's the time during sleep when a lot of dreaming occurs.
It's also a time when the chemistry of the brain actually changes. Levels of norepinephrine — a kind of adrenaline — drop out completely. REM sleep is the only time of day when this happens. That struck Walker as a mystery. "Why would rapid eye movement sleep suppress this neurochemical?" he asks.
"Is there any function to that?"
Walker found that in healthy people, REM sleep is kind of like therapy. It's an adrenaline-free environment where the brain can process its memories while sort of stripping off their sharp, emotional edges. "You come back the next day, and it doesn't trigger that same visceral reaction that you had at the time of learning."
Walker's theory suggests that in people with PTSD, REM sleep is broken. The adrenaline doesn't go away like it's supposed to. The brain can't process tough memories, so it just cycles through them, again and again.
A "diversion” here from the article’s discussion will explain a relationship not often mentioned in pieces for a general readership, but significant as background information. Ironically, this same adrenaline is what the Mahdi militia used to raise their bodies and psyches to superhuman levels by way of ingesting large amounts of American epinephrine pills at the battles of Fallujah and some other clashes with U.S. Forces in Iraq. These pills kept the Mahdi insurgents hearts pumping and fighting even after their arms could no longer hold the weapons shot away from them. http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/001531.html Of course that meant American soldiers and Marines, whether facing the Mahdi militia or other fighters, had to develop their own heightened level of adrenaline-induced awareness to overcome them, whether the insurgents were taking these pills or not.
Returning to the topic of the NPR article’s discussion of the brain’s processing of hyper-vigilant traumas, it further notes what doctors have recently found to regulate a brain’s nighttime adrenaline-induced hyper state:
So, what if you could make the adrenaline just go away? Enter prazosin.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000625/
Pfizer Inc. introduced the drug under the brand name Minipress in the 1970s to treat high blood pressure. Dr. Murray Raskind http://www.va.gov/providerinfo/PUGETSOUND/detail.asp?providerid=1756, a VA psychiatrist in Seattle, says the drug, now generic, can cost anywhere between 5 and 15 cents. And, actually, it's not terribly effective as a blood pressure medication, he says.
But what prazosin does do is make people less sensitive to adrenaline. About a decade ago, Raskind starting giving prazosin to some of his PTSD patients, including one Vietnam War veteran.
"He had this recurrent nightmare of being trapped by the Vietcong forces in a landing zone and having his best friend killed in front of his eyes by a mortar round," Raskind says.
After a few weeks of treatment with prazosin, the veteran came in for a follow-up appointment. Raskind says the veteran told him that he wasn't sure the medication was working. He was still having the same dream over and over — just about something else. He told Raskind that in the new dream he was in his fifth grade classroom and there was a test. If he didn't pass the test, he wasn't going to be promoted to the next grade. But he never even got the assignment.
"I said, 'That's my nightmare!' " Raskind says.
Indeed, the veteran's new dream was the stress dream of a healthy brain trying to work things out, Raskind says.
This year, the VA is expected to finish up its trial for prazosin. It's already prescribing the drug to about 15 percent of its PTSD patients. Raskind, of course, would like to see that number rise.
As positive and promising as prazosin is, notice that the article still says the Veterans’ Affairs/Administration doctors thought it was only appropriate for one in seven cases of PTSD under their care. Without saying it directly, we are being told that despite our modern high tech computer and drug era research, we are still only in the early days of understanding human memory processing. The situation is somewhat analogous to just after Pasteur developed the germ theory – but before others had developed the quinine cure for malaria and the streptomycin cure for tuberculosis. But prazosin is one of the first effective ways of managing – and possibly curing – PTSD.
Before finishing, another well known old "home remedy” for lowering blood pressure and stress is definitely worth mentioning. It is one that WebMD states has nearly twenty-five years of research showing its effectiveness in lessening anxiety and high blood pressure. http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/features/health-benefits-of-pets Technically called "pet therapy,” it is simply owning a dog. American soldiers at distant battlefields have adopted stray dogs for generations. A recent book, "From Baghdad with Love” and its sequel, "From Baghdad to America,” http://www.amazon.com/From-Baghdad-America-Marine-Rescued/dp/1602397430/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346028363&sr=8-1&keywords=from+baghdad+to+america tell of how a stray pup kept one Marine officer in touch normal life and "his humanity” - even in the chaos of fighting house to house in Fallujah.
Further evidence of how effective this "home remedy” can be was recently brought to my attention when YouTube presented me with a video recommendation based on my past searches. In it, a former U.S. Airman stationed in the Middle East credits a shelter dog with saving his life after his Stateside PTSD developed. If you watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuTyEcBi_n4&feature=g-vrec and listen closely, you will hear the significance of what he is saying. The dog doesn’t judge him. The serviceman feels he can obviously tell his concerns to the dog without worrying that the animal will repeat his stories and embarrass him in front of military and civilian friends, and his family. The serviceman appears to have initially judged himself as not capable of companionship with others after returning Stateside, yet his new dog broke through that self-fulfilling (and self-defeating) thought pattern, unconditionally accepting him and leading him to believe that whatever happened during his deployment overseas, he is still able to be a companion to this dog. And that new reality lead to his believing he could once again be a companion to his friends and family. The term "home remedy” has gained a double meaning here. The dog has made the Airman’s residence a home once again – and that is a significant initial step towards a remedy.
There are other, more sophisticated accounts of dealing with Post Traumatic Stress way beyond the scope of this small article - and of this writer. What is presented here just touches the surface of this issue and yet will hopefully be of benefit to some readers. I should have more to say next month concerning two books on PTSD, one published and one about to be published, both written by professionals who also served in combat zones and later worked assisting other veterans for many decades.
August 26, 2012
Medical researchers have discovered the key to the electoral success of Barack Obama and other Democrats.
"The ventromedial area of the prefrontal cortex of the brain—a softball-sized lobe in the front of your head, just above your eyes—appears to be responsible for allowing you to pause after hearing or reading something and consider whether it's true, according to a study published recently in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience."
Fear of Global Warming in the Arctic - in 1947!
Here is the 1947 article:
Warming Of Climate Causes Concern
LOS ANGELES, May 30. – The possibility of a prodigious rise in the surface of the ocean with resultant widespread inundation, arising from an Arctic climatic phenomenon was discussed yesterday by Dr. Hans Ahlmann, a noted Swedish geophysicist at the University of California Geophysical Institute.
A mysterious warming of the climate was slowly manifesting itself in the Arctic, Dr. Ahlmann said, and, if the Antarctic ice regions and the major Greenland ice cap should reduce at the same rate as the present melting in the Arctic, oceanic surfaces would rise to catastrophic proportions and people living in the lowlands along their shores would be inundated.
He said that temperatures in the Arctic had increased 10deg. Fahrenheit since 1900—an "enormous" rise from a scientific standpoint. The waters in the Spitsbergen area in the same period had risen three to five degrees in temperature and one to one and a half millimeters yearly in level.
"The Arctic change is so serious that I hope an international agency can speedily be formed to study the conditions on a global basis," he added. He pointed out that whereas in 1910 the navigable season along western Spitsbergen lasted three months it now lasted eight months."
This at a time well before the sharp rise in carbon dioxide levels in the Earth's atmosphere. Please note; this Dr. Ahlman of the UC Geophysical Institute is calling for an international governing body.
It seems the media was just as alarmist and hysterical then as now. And it seems that they were just as wrong-headed to push apocalyptic change.
So if global warming is caused by Man, what caused the global warming that Dr. Ahlman worried about? Cookfires and human flatulence?
As most are aware, Neil Armstrong has passed away. He was the first human being to set foot on the Moon.
An Associated Press article has caused a firestorm (yes, that is sarcasm) over claims by Armstrong that he was misquoted. Armstrong is famously quoted (and recording of his transmission seem to bear this out) as saying "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for Manking." Armstrong claims he said "That's one small step for a man..."
Now, in in the era of the Great Obama where the nation's unemployment levels are comparable to those of the Great Depression (unless you use the messaged numbers the Bamster's peeps use), where the U.S. debt is in double digit trillions of dollars, where Iran is on the verge of building nuclear weapons, where every branch of the government, every bureacrat, every low level functionary is being armed by the administration, where the U.S. government gave thousands of dangerous weapons to drug cartels in Mexico, where fuel prices are sky high and the government will not allow private companies to drill for more oil or gas - or use coal, where drone aircraft are patrolling the American skies to spy on private citizens and x-ray trucks are patrolling neighborhoods to watch you in your homes, where TSA workers engage in sexual assaults on random airline customers, etc., etc. it's good to know that the Associated Press is pursuing such a burning issue and fearlessly seeking the truth!
We can all sleep well tonight; the AP is on the job, shining the light of truth on the most pressing issues of the day, speaking truth to power. It's good to know!
Nasa confirms Mr. Armstrong's claim. Nasa should know; they wrote the quote.
Yes, the astronauts were scripted, and this particular momentous speech was likely written for Armstrong by some P.R. flack. Armstrong's insistence that he said "a" suggests he blew his line; why make such a fuss? He didn't like publicly screwing up.
In fact, most of the image presented to the public of the astronauts was scripted, a careful effort to make them appear as gods, or at least like some sort of comic book heroes. Drinking, womanizing, and other bad behavior was carefully hidden from the public, who were supposed to believe the whole Boy Scout and Apple Pie mythos.
But the AP cannot even be bothered to look into THAT. What is the most important thing to them? Whether Armstrong dropped an a.
The American media is pathetic.
By Alan Caruba
"Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.” -- Ronald Reagan
If you want to know how President Obama feels about the U.S. military, consider that in all the years since D-Day 1945 there have been three occasions when a President failed to go to the D-Day Monument that honors the soldiers killed during the Invasion.
The occasions were:
1. Barack Obama 2010
2. Barack Obama 2011
3. Barack Obama 2012
For the past 68 years, all Presidents, except Obama, have paid tribute to the fallen soldiers killed on D-Day. This year, instead of honoring the soldiers, he made a campaign trip on Air Force 1 to California to raise funds for his reelection.
The U.S. military has been systematically weakened from within by a combination of idiotic and duplicitous decisions that suggest how far the nation has come from the fundamental understanding that an enemy must be destroyed with sufficient devastation as to never contemplate attacking us or our allies again.
World War Two was a success because both Germany and Japan were required to sign instruments of unconditional surrender. Both nations are now our allies. Even Vietnam where the U.S. blundered into a civil war and was ultimately forced to withdraw now has normalized diplomatic relations and welcomes U.S. investment.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan remain inconclusive due to a combination of timid rules of engagement and the transformation of our military’s mission into "nation-building" that have yielded unsatisfactory results.
The military force that distinguished America as a super power at the mid-point of the last century now is facing draconian funding reductions from a Congress unwilling to make hard decisions about our historic debt.
A July Wall Street Journal editorial, "The Coming Defense Crack-Up” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303567704577519103629692144.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop, warned the automatic sequestration, "If implemented, the Pentagon budget would be cut by another 9% (or $492 billion) over the next decade, on top of the $487 billion in cuts that are already planned. Defense accounts for the largest share of total sequestration, or 42.6%m according to the Congressional Budget Office.”
"The sequestration cuts would leave the defense budget some 30% smaller in 10 years.” Does anyone believe that the world will be any safer in two years or ten years? Or that weakening our defense will make us safer in a world bristling with nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction?
If the sequestration cuts are pure folly, then the use of our defense forces as a means to avoid "global warming” is sheer insanity. There is no global warming insofar as the Earth entered a natural cooling cycle in 1998 and the claim that carbon dioxide is "causing” global warming is completely baseless. A tiny element of the Earth’s atmosphere—0.038%--carbon dioxide (CO2) has been the excuse environmentalists have used to attack our manufacturing and energy sectors. Now it is being used to render our military weaker through a requirement to use biofuels.
On October 8, 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order 13514, ordering the Defense Department and other agencies to reduce CO2 and other so-called greenhouse gas emissions. He set a goal of having the ships that defend our nuclear carriers powered by biofuels.
How stupid is this? First of all, America sits atop enough oil reserves to make us energy independent if the Obama administration would permit exploration and extraction domestically and offshore. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that the U.S. possesses 26% of the world’s oil supply. The Obama administration assertion that the U.S. has only 2% of the world’s supply is a lie.
There is zero need for biofuels. By 2020, the Navy has been instructed to use alternative fuel for half of its consumption. A recent naval exercise cost the Navy $27 per gallon of biofuel, versus $3.50 to $4.00 for standard petroleum fuel. As this is being written, Americans are required to use ethanol, a biofuel, in every gallon of gas they put in their cars, needlessly increasing the cost with no benefit in mileage and at the risk of damaging their car engines.
The Air Force is also subject to these mandates for biofuels that cost more than $26 per gallon, compared with standard jet fuel at $4 per gallon. Both the Navy and Air Force face the prospect of having to refuel ships and planes in potential battle zones where every gallon of biofuel would have to be transported from the U.S. for lack of biofuel refineries in Asian, Mideast or Mediterranean ports. Can you spell d-e-f-e-a-t?
These biofuel mandates are part of the Obama administration’s crony capitalism that has seen "alternative energy” lose billions in loan guarantees to solar companies and the government mandates that maintain the wind power industry that, like ethanol, would not exist without federal government support.
Phil Dunmire, the national president of the Navy League of the United States, on July 18, warned that "The defense and maritime industries are being jeopardized from within” noting that "programs related to our nation’s defense will absorb half of the sequestration costs despite being just 19% of the national spending budget.” These cuts go into effect in January!
The sequestration and other budget cuts, and the global warming biofuel mandates will leave the U.S. more vulnerable to attack and defeat since the end of World War Two. Our Navy has shrunk. Our combat air fleet is old. The manpower of military forces has been reduced and subjected to restrictions that leave every soldier and marine subject to investigation for every enemy they kill.
The exception to the long engagement in the Middle East was the successful killing of Osama bin Laden, but even that was tarnished by a President who took full credit for it and released information about it that runs contrary to the safety of all comparable future missions. Within days, the White House provided a briefing on it to a Hollywood producer and writer in order to facilitate a film lauding the mission.
The greatest force for the defense of the nation and for freedom in the world is being reduced by a Congress and a White House who refuse to recognize the threats that exist in a dangerous world.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
August 25, 2012
The TSA has been showing up at Republican campaign events. Yes, the Transportation Safety Administration has been sending armed agents to campaign events run by the opposition party.
According to this article at Conservative HQ:
"About 18 months ago, TSA chief John Pistole (pictured, with President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano) told USA Today he wanted to "take the TSA to the next level," building it into a "national-security, counterterrorism organization, fully integrated into U.S. government efforts."
Since that time, the TSA has been showing-up at all kinds of locations, mostly transportation-related mind you, and conducting VIPR (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) sweeps, which target public transit related places."
"What is truly remarkable about these security sweeps, Servatius noted, is that they don't just involve federal, state and local law enforcement officials. The TSA brings in squads of bureaucrats from state and federal agencies as well -- everything from transportation departments to departments of natural resources -- and they don't need a specific threat or probable cause to do it, reporters have been told.
Having the TSA cover train stations, bus terminals and other transportation-related facilities has a certain big government logic to it, even to those (like us) who think the mere existence of the TSA is a gross invasion of privacy and a violation of the Constitution.
However, swarming the campaign events of the opposition party -- particularly when the candidate has questioned the need for the TSA -- is another matter.
The TSA is not the apolitical organization the Secret Service strives to be. It is a thoroughly politicized bureaucracy fighting to expand its reach, and a few Republicans in Congress are all that have stood in its way."
Couple this with the gargantuan amount of ammunition being ordered by such agencies as NOAA and the Social Security Administration (against all logic), and the recent war gaming of a military action against "Tea Party Terrorists", the drawing up of "refugee camp" plans throughout the country, the National Defense Authorization Act giving Obama the power to round up U.S. citizens and detain them indefinitely, etc. and you have a chilling political atmosphere. This better befits the Third Reich than America.
There are some who claim we are in the planning stage to suspend the elections.
It's happened before in world history. There is no reason to believe America is somehow immune to falling under the heel of a dictator. What has prevented it here is the U.S. Constitution and an armed, informed public willing to defend that Constitution. We still have the document but nobody pays it any mind, and the public really doesn't care about defending it - or even knows what is in it. This country is ripe for Reichhood.
August 24, 2012
(This article first appeared at American Thinker.)
If you could submit just one question to be asked of President Obama during a televised presidential debate, what would it be? Once you have formulated your best idea, ask yourself this: do you think any of this year's line-up of debate hosts and moderators would ever actually ask your question, as you framed it? Your answer, I am sure, is almost as self-evident as is the importance of your imaginary debate question. The questions that matter most are precisely the ones that will not be asked, and for that very reason.
For all the analysis that has been, and will be, devoted to explaining why so many Americans -- and not only knee-jerk liberals, but also a lot of self-described moderates and conservatives -- fail to see the primal menace in Barack Obama's presidency, one simple fact probably explains it all: most people pay no attention to such "analysis" and instead get all their political information from mainstream sources (from 60 Minutes to The Daily Show to the morning coffee klatch programs) that will never broach the issues that seem most vital to those who actually think.
To clarify, when I say "think," I mean it in the strict sense of using one's rational faculty to seek understanding -- i.e., to dig through the rough rock pile of transient "facts" and words in search of the firm ground of principle and purpose that lies beneath. That difficult work is what leads people to a knowledge of ultimate causes, or at least to formulating trenchant questions that might take us to a more fundamental layer of the rock pile.
A simple example will suffice. Obama is excessively fond of the word "fairness." Anyone reading this article is likely to have thought carefully and often through the seemingly obvious question of what Obama means by "fairness," and what he is, by implication, damning as "unfair." Most of Obama's listeners, however, simply follow him along on his dreamy trip to socialism through the sweet smoke of moral abstraction. After all, who doesn't want to do what is "fair"?
By never asking Obama pointed questions about his notion of fairness, but instead always allowing him to frame and lead the conversation as he wishes, his friends and enablers in the mainstream media and Washington establishment effectively hide the underlying issues from their audience.
It is easy to be pessimistic and denounce that audience as simply too stupid to reason through these issues on their own. And it is true that they are too passive. However, a passive audience can sometimes be roused from passivity by having matters presented to them in a manner that awakens curiosity, which is to say in a manner that promotes the search for deeper understanding.
This rousing manner is precisely what the mainstreamers carefully avoid in the way they present Obama, his policies, his principles, and his past. Curiosity -- about fairness, about the meaning of community organizing, about William Ayers, about so many things -- is the enemy of Barack Obama, and therefore, it is the avowed enemy of the mainstream media in its presentation of presidential politics. Everything they do, and every pseudo-question they ask, is designed to tamp down the intellectual mud that will keep that obfuscating rock pile firmly in place, and avoid reminding people of the infertile ground beneath.
This is why the debates are bound to be frustrating, as usual, for conservatives -- along with the likelihood that Mitt Romney will be cowed by the media into conceding the usual "Of course my opponent loves America" nonsense that causes apoplexy among those of us concerned for the survival of Western civilization. This frustration, however, is no cause for despondency, but rather a reminder of the need to make this season a continual shadow production, within the sphere of one's personal influence, of the debate that ought to take place, with the questions that ought to be asked.
The fact that we can't ask Obama himself makes little difference. The figurative empty chair to which our questions must be posed has an eloquence of its own. Its silence helps to highlight that scurrying sound of the mainstream media mice among the rocks. If they who hold the microphones were men, they would be asking the hard questions, rather than crawling up Obama's well-creased pant leg in search of an honored position as Big Brother's top-rated propagandist.
So, in the spirit of a respectful but honest debate moderator -- one hoping to promote, rather than stifle, curiosity -- I offer three questions that I would ask Barack Obama, were I permitted to do so.
(1) Mr. President, you speak frequently of "fairness," of doing one's "fair share," and so on. Of course, "fairness" is an abstract concept. Furthermore, it is not a political system. Rather, it expresses the intended result of one political system or other, depending on how one defines "fairness." For example, one might say that the free market promotes fairness, if by fairness we mean that everyone has what he is able to earn by his own effort, with his own talent, and through uncoerced interaction with others. On the other hand, a socialist would define fairness as everyone getting an equal share of the available material wealth, by means of continuously regulated and maintained government redistribution.
So I would like you to explain as clearly as possible what you mean by fairness, and which politico-economic system -- the free market, socialism, or some other system -- is most conducive to your understanding of fairness. In short, is freedom or socialism fairer, in your view, and why?
(2) The American founders, following John Locke and others, were strong defenders of property rights. Specifically, they believed, as Locke explained, that all human beings inviolably own themselves as individual material beings, and hence that the product of their effort and voluntary exchange with others belongs to them, by extension from their initial and natural ownership of their own bodies and minds.
Various federal government programs and regulations you support, such as ObamaCare and many EPA initiatives, fly in the face of this notion of a natural right to property. Do you believe in private property as a right? And if so, on what grounds do you believe that this right can be violated?
(3) We know that your father, whose dreams you famously claim to have inherited, was a prominent Kenyan socialist, and that your mentor in your youth, Frank Marshall Davis, was an avowed communist. We also know that your longtime pastor, Jeremiah Wright, has deeply anti-American convictions; that Bill Ayers, who enthusiastically supported your election in 2008, and with whom you have had some kind of personal relationship for many years, has been openly dedicated to the demise of the American political system for his entire adult life; that you have appointed several avowed socialists, communists, admirers of Mao, and celebrators of May Day to significant positions within your administration; and that prior to running for president you frequently described yourself and your interests as "progressive," which is a well-known alternative name for "socialist."
Furthermore, you have spoken frequently of government as an agent of "sharing the prosperity" (see here) and of "fundamentally transforming" America; your wife said your nomination was the first time she was ever proud of America; and you famously boasted in your 2008 victory speech that "change has come to America."
We know, in short, that you were involved in socialist or progressive thinking and causes prior to running for president, and that you have had extensive and seemingly formative associations with socialists and communists who were fundamentally critical of America, from your childhood through to your adult life prior to 2008. The question, Mr. President, is: have you disavowed this thinking and these causes, and if so, when and why did you do so?
These offerings are merely the tip of the iceberg, of course. With the most concealed and protected president of modern times, one could literally go on all day with these questions, each one as vital as the last: about drugs, about Fast and Furious, about whispering promises of post-election accommodation to a Russian president, about his hidden university career and transcripts, and on and on.
There is a significant segment of the population that can no longer be reached. There is, however, probably at least as large a segment that merely falls into the category of the passively ignorant. These people must be reached, because the civilizational renewal that is needed is impossible without them. They will not be reached by anything that happens on their televisions. They must have the hard questions, the digging questions, thrust in their way over and over, forcefully but respectfully, until at last, slowly, their long-suppressed curiosity is aroused.
Thinking is, to a large extent, a matter of asking questions and of pursuing answers with enthusiasm, and without fear of the truth one might discover. A thinking population is an anti-leftist population. The job of those who are already thinking is not to bludgeon the late arrivals into submission, but to pique their interest in that which has hitherto been concealed from them -- to teach them, in other words, the joys of thinking for themselves.
Keep asking the empty chair those hard questions. The answers you get will be no less informative than the ones the real Obama -- if there is such a thing -- will give during the actual debates. And your shadow debate just might attract a thoughtful audience of its own. Lord knows Bob Schieffer isn't going to attract one.
Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/08/debate_questions_obama_wont_be_asked.html#ixzz24TiygwxL
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