Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

Hiatus until May 12th

As much fun as it is to ridicule the most incompetent administration and the most venal Congress in my lifetime…I need to finish a term paper to get out of this class alive.

Who’d ‘a thunk anybody could make Kennedy look humble, Johnson look restrained, Nixon look ethical, Carter look competent, Clinton look honest, and Dubya sound eloquent [without the TOTUS] all at the same time.

Still hanging out with the Modern Whig Party site.  It’s the party place to be.

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Hmmmm….(update)

A political party that is; a) for fiscal responsibility, b) strong defense [this is why I can’t hang with Libertarians], and c) and not social conservative.

Some returning veterans got together and re-established the Whig Party.  They’re a little heavy on veterans affairs.  I’m not real keen on giving up my citizenship for not being a veteran any more than giving it up to the conservatives for not being christian enough or giving it up to the Democrats for not have swam across the Rio Grande (yes Janet, there are illegals).

So I’m slinking around the Whig Party’s web site to see what I can see.

Later.

(update)  It’s later.

Been prowling around the Modern Whig web site.  Not unreasonable, but I’m not seeing plans for growth.  ‘Course it’s been the weekend and these people in charge may actually have lives outside of politics.  I’m not sensing professional hired staff, either…who still wouldn’t be working on the weekend.

The dangers of a Constitutional Convention…

…is I just thought of another amendment.  Getting in there and fiddling would be a hazard of a convention.

This would create constitutional procedures for legislation in Congress.

All proposed legislation shall be read out loud in chamber prior to being voted on.” (if it’s not read out loud, it’s not law)

and

Every clause shall require identification of the sponsoring member.”  If a court can’t figure out who put a clause or amendment in a bill, it’s not law.

I’m also trying to figure out how to limit the power of seniority, committee chairs and the heads of the chambers.  Barney Frank and Chris Dodd are legislators elected by tiny fractions of the country and should not be able to affect regulatory action on the national scale as they do.  If they want something regulated, they need to create an executive branch or independent regulatory body to do that independent of their individual political influence.  Term limits will help, but Congress needs to be told it is not a regulatory body.

The Constitution currently leaves procedural issue to the separate houses.  In their insatiable quest for power, the houses have demonstrated that they can not be trusted with this authority.  Hence, the Constitution needs to mandate procedures to provide a check on Congress’ zeal.  Not only would this amendment stop the railroading of massive bills through in the middle of the night, it would effectively eliminate earmarks because earmarks can’t be dropped in sight unseen prior to the vote.

Yeah, calling a constitutional convention has its risks.  As long as its charter clearly limits its scope to fixing the abuses of recent events, I think it could be pulled off.  It might not have been worth the risk before, but recent events have lowered that bar.

Oh, about that torture thing

The problem with the torture debate is that everybody seems to take it from a law enforcement perspective.  Let’s try taking it from a war perspective.

What do you do in war?  Specifically a shooting war?  Generally, you find the enemy and relieve them of the need for oxygen.  If you relieve enough of them of the need for oxygen, they lose the will to fight.  In World War II, we did that by carpet bombing enemy cities rather indiscriminately, making little allowance for age or service status or even neutrality.  Through the Cold War we were prepared to do even worse, risking the wholesale incineration of societies.  Fortunately, we were not put into a position to test our resolve on that one.  But even in the current low scale operations, with detailed rules of engagements and long approval chains to get permission to fire, collateral damage aversion and hypersensitivity to adverse press coverage from enemy propagandists (CNN), it is still war.  We deal out death without trial, appeal or for the most part without remorse.  It is not enhanced law enforcement.  It is war which can almost be defined as the absence of law and order.  That is where all the current arguments against torture fail.

Argument 1: Anybody can be forced to confess under torture.

Counter:  They weren’t interested in confessions.  They weren’t looking for people to prosecute.  They were looking for people to kill in a war.  The perp has already been identified as an enemy.  By rights, if he were in the field, a sniper could turn his brains into a fine mist without a second thought.  If he were in a building, the perp, the building and all his compatriots could be reduced to small chunks with a bomb or artillery shell through the roof.  It’s curious that some people who think that interrogators are some horrible species of monster treat the sniper and the bomber pilot as heros.  The interrogator isn’t interested in killing his target.  In fact, if the right information is acquired, not only are friendly and neutral lives saved, but very possibly enemy lives can be spared as well.  Note also that these were not propoganda sessions, trying to force public admissions of war crimes as the North Koreans and North Vietnamese did.  These were interrogations purely for actionable intelligence.

Argument 2:  Torture damages the torturer.

Counter:  So what does sniping do?  What damage happens to the fighter pilot who puts the bomb through the roof?  The sailor who launches a Tomahawk?  There are people who make the case that those acts do damage people.  That soldiers returning from combat are irreparably damaged.  I work with lots of past and present combat personnel and I don’t see it.  The sniper motto is “One shot, one kill, no regrets.”  If you’re going to let it get under your skin, go find another line of work.  So how is engaging in “enhanced interrogation” different than staring straight into the eyes of you target through a scope, watching him sip a cup of Joe while passing the time with some cohorts; and then sending him back to his mother in a bag?  The interrogator just sends him back to his cell.

Argument 3:  It’s against the Geneva Convention.

Counter:  Actually, it’s not.  The Geneva Convention is only applicable between signatories of which terrorists are not.  And the convention is not binding if one of the belligerents stops complying.  It is not a one sided treaty.  Terrorists and other irregulars specifically fall under definitions in the conventions that exclude them from coverage.  That’s why spies in WWII dressed as civilians or as enemy troops could be executed.  They were excluded.  Many people who cry about violating the Geneva Conventions of War are about as knowledgable about the conventions as people who claim that any crime they want to commit is their constitional right are about the Constitution .

Argument 4:  Torture doesn’t work.

Counter:  Yeah, it does.  Saying torture doesn’t work is like saying killing doesn’t kill.  The flesh is weak and everybody has a breaking point.  If you don’t think so, let’s meet somewhere and I’ll convince you to change your mind.

Argument 5:  Torture is not necessary.

Counter:  Not losing is not necessary either.  Sure torture is undesirable.  So is killing an bombing and all the other horrors of war.  I’m not sure how it is that “enhance interrogation” is inherently bad, so we should avoid it at the risk of letting the dogs of war increase the number of broken and maimed bodies scattered across the landscape?  Let’s bomb a society back to the stone age so we don’t have to get our hands dirty slapping some sap across the face.  Yeah, that makes sense.

Argument 6:  If we engage in torture the other side will too.

Counter:  For the most part, the German military abided by the Geneva convention and American and British soldiers and airmen were interned accordingly.  They were the last ones to do so.  The SS and Gestapo did not abide by the conventions.  The Japanese did not abide by the conventions.  Now listen very carefully.  Not one of the countries or non-governmental elements that the United States has fought since WW II has abided by the conventions.  Period.  They have committed torture, summary executions and paraded our military personnel around for propaganda purposes.  The latest crop like to saw off people’s heads on video for publication.  Argument 6 is simply a non-starter.  We are fighting barbarians.  Sometimes that requires acting like one.

Argument 7:  Well…would YOU want to be tortured!

Counter:  Duh.  I don’t want to be killed either.  But history has shown that no matter what the US does, the people we are fighting against are eager to do both to anyone they can get their hands on.  Their whole modus operandi is to capture civilians, torture and kill them in as large numbers as possible and publisize is as widely as possible specifically to sow fear in the population.  The 9/11 highjackers specifically wanted the airliner passengers to call out so people could hear their voices as they were flown into buildings.

Argument 8:  Well, should cops be allowed to use torture?

No counter:  Absolutely not.  Cops are not at war.  Note that there is and never has been a War Against Crime, War Against Drugs or War Against Poverty.  Those are empty political slogans.  The goal of law enforcement is prosecutions to establish law and order, pretty much the diametric opposite of war.

The issue of torture has to first be put in the context of war or law enforcement.  They are different.

The Fourth American Republic

Is the United States about to embark on a major political tectonic shift?  James V. DeLong at The American has an article that says we may very well be.  It’s worth the read.  I’ll wait.

The Coming of the Fourth American Republic.

I agree with his position that something is about to break.  The Democrats are insane with power and the Republicans only upset because that power isn’t theirs.  I am a little bit less sanguine than DeLong sounds that it will necessarily bring about change for the better.  As the old saying goes; change is easy, change for the better is hard.  The special interest society is becoming unsustainable.  But Rome’s government also became unsustainable, and it just disintegrated, throwing Europe into chaos for centuries.  Likewise the Boston Tea Part that everyone has been celebrating of late was a precursor to six years of war.  Governments do not give up power easily.

The Tea Party Movement seems to be the only game in town right now to oppose the statists in Washington and the state houses.  It needs to come up with a cohesive platform soon.  At least sooner will be better than later.  People are going to lose interest in waving signs if nothing seems to be happening.  And I don’t see major commitment if the only position is “let’s reduce the tax rate from X to Y.”  The problem isn’t tax rates.  It’s the power behind them and their use to enforce and coerce compliance to that power.

I’m voting for a serious paring back of power from the feds.  1) congressional and judicial term limits. 2) balanced budget, 3) spending caps, 4) elimination of the federal income tax, 5) re-establishment of the intent of the Constitution as a restriction on the power of government.  Sigh. I may have to change the name of my website to “Don Quixote Lives Here“.

July 4 Tea Party: T-84 days and counting

St. Louis Tea Party web site would appear to be the go to place for any information about where.  The when should be obvious.

The ‘Failure of Capitalism’ is never the failure of capitalism

It is always the failure of government.

Capitalism is not a means of government.  It does not make law.  It is a means of creating and sustaining economic activity.  Creating wealth if you will.

Capitalism requires the creation of a legal environment that is conducive to that economic activity.  Some of those aspects are establishing security from hostile acts both foreign and domestic, protection of private property, including wealth; maintenance of contract law so that binding agreements can be trusted; and the maintenance of the societal infrastructure which includes a sound currency, universal basic education, and effective transportation.  The failure of capitalism can almost always be traced to the failure of the government to maintain this environment.

So when someone announces that the current economic downturn is the ‘Failure of Capitalism’ what they are really saying is that the government failed.  Anything the government does to supposedly ‘fix the problem’ that does not work to restore an environment conducive to capitalism and enterprise will ultimately fail.

Who’s going to be the loser here?

It is ‘common wisdom’ that the fallout of the socialist experiment of the Democrats will either be a resurgence of the Republicans or the entrance of a third party arising from the ashes of the Republicans.  There is another possibility.   Maybe the third party will come out of the hide of the Democrats who have, for all intents and purposes, become the socialist party.

Libertarians (small ‘l’ except at the beginning of sentence) tend to support the liberal social positions of the Democrats.  But there are a lot of social liberals who voted Democrat who are having serious reservations at the insane spending policies and Statist governance being pursued today.  A social liberal who believes in conservative governance (constrained fiscal policy, adherence to Constitutional constraints) is a libertarian…more or less.

So ponder a future: Republicans represent the social conservative crowd.  The libertarians (Tea Partiers?) representing the social liberal crowd, both espousing conservative governance (although the Republicans will have to work to regain any reputation in that respect) and the Democrats representing the socialist/statist crowd.

If the Federal Empire is pared back, states can better reflect the will of their own residents.  California, New York, Massachusettes can pursue socialist anti-growth policies and remain bankrupt for the forseeable future.  Texas, Alaska, Montana, and a whole host of conservative states can vote growth and prosperity.  The remaining states can look at the results of the extremes and decide which they wish to follow.  This is not such a bad future.

For any troll that might wander by, this is what diversity is all about.  Exploring and testing different philosophies and ideas.

St. Louis Tea Party – Kiener Plaza – April 15, 2009

I have never before in my life been to a political rally.  I have never waved a flag (nice big 3′ x 5′ one) during a speech.  Not sure how many people I smacked with it.  I have never before worn a political button.  This was a day of firsts.

Let’s see if I can get some pictures loaded.

Part of Keiner Plaza’s amphitheater during the speeches.

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Another part of the amphitheater.

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Note that the stage was attached to a building way to the left.  I had my back to the building and couldn’t get a good perspective.

So I switched to the other side of the building to get the other half of the crowd (stage is on right now (where is should be of course)).

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100_1596That’s the back of Bill Hennesy (hennesysview.com) who organized this li’l get together.

My favorite poster out of some stiff competition.

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The organizers are claiming 10,000 people.  My observations:

1. Keiner Plaza is a full city block and was full.

2. When we (my subversive self and subversive sister) a half hour before the official start, we ended up on the top of an eight floor parking garage in the middle of downtown St. Louis on a Wednesday night (if there isn’t a ball game, there is nothing going on in the evening down there.  Sad but true.)

3. For an hour and a half we observed a steady flow of people coming in from all the adjoining streets.

4.  It took us an hour to get out of the parking garage.

Conclusion: I have no reason to doubt the claim.  There were a bunch of people there.

And as for the dissident radical mob ( as defined by the Dept of Homeland Security) you will never find a more jovial crew than a bunch of ‘angry’ conservatives.

Hey, I’ve been there for months

Doubting the omnipotence and omniscience of the The One, that is.

A teleprompter addiction in politics should be like a drug addiction in sports.  It cancels all records.

Now I have never felt that being an eloquent or even fluent off the cuff speaker should be a prerequisite for public office.  The decisions that need to be made, whether executive or legislative, rarely need to be made off the cuff and deliberation is generally a good thing.  Being a fluent off the cuff speaker surely helps make the case that one is sharp as a tack.  BO (no, not the dog) doesn’t have that advantage.  Reading stuff other people wrote off of a screen does not qualify as eloquence.  Claiming that it does should bring into question the judgment of the claimer…but that’s way too opinionated to get into here.

So, since being Teleprompter Reader In Chief (TRIC) is not proof of superior intellect, what is?  Legislative accomplishments?  He has none.  Voting ‘present’ more often than anyone else in history isn’t an accomplishment.  Non-governmental accomplishments?  He admits to being a failure as a community organizer.  He’s done nothing else.  Political genius?  He didn’t win the race for President, he was anointed by the press.  His only success was to be a perfect machine politician.  There are two requirements for a Chicago machine politician: utter ruthlessness or dogmatic loyalty.  Since BO (no, not the dog) had BO (yes, the dog) neutered so he wouldn’t be the only one walking around with a pair, I don’t think ruthlessness was his strong point.

So here’s something for Mr McKinnon to consider.  BO (no, not the dog) is an ideologue robot.  He has Rules for Radicals in one hand, Das Kapital or something in the other and his actions are dogmatic liberalism.  He practices the opposite of realpolitik because  he doesn’t have a clue how the world works, who he’s speaking to or how to relate to them.  Everytime he opens his mouth without the Teleprompter of the United States (TOTUS) present, he exposes his crushing lack of knowledge about just about anything that isn’t liberal dogma.

Is BO (no, not the dog) brilliant?  If he is, he’s sandbagging pretty well (sigh…another sports analogy).