Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sage Advice

From Bill Losapio

Strengthen our family bonds.
Strengthen our bonds of friendship.

Begin trading with real gold and silver with each other…. vegetables at the farmers market, babysitting, mowing a neighbor’s lawn. Begin an “underground” economy completely independent of fiat money. Trade! Trade! Trade! Come Hell or high water, economic crash, or New World Order, for Goodness sake, trade! This, more than anything, must be done to reignite the division of labor, civil society, and peace should TEOTWAWKI dawn.

We Need a Hero - Not Really

Dr. Clyde Wilson dispenses wisdom for all you neophytes.

I recently saw the film V for Vendetta and looked over some fairly obscure books with a similar theme—overthrow of an evil Establishment by heroic resistance. I am all in favour of getting rid of Establishments of the currently prevailing type. I was cheered when early in the film it was declared that governments ought to be afraid of their people rather than people being afraid of their governments. That sums up the spirit of the American War of Independence as well as any concise statement can. But nonetheless the overthrow of tyranny in the film left me disquieted.

[...]

The overthrow of oppression is seen as the work of a single superhuman individual. I do not think it ever has been that way in the real world. The overthrow of tyrannical government requires the collective action of strong elements of a society, not the intervention of a superhero.

[...]

Our culture seems to have lost awareness of or hope in the true pursuit of liberty. The longing for liberation by a superman is not a solution, but is part of the problem. And part of the explanation for the 20th century being exceedingly beyond all others the time of tyrants.

Really nothing different that what we lesser paleoconservatives say over and over - if we want to change we have to start in our communities and we have to be willing to actually take action. There is no masked man coming along to save us.

Secession Fever

Excerpts from a must read article by Thomas Naylor

Secession fever is spreading across America just as it did back in 1776 and 1861. More than forty states now have active political independence movements committed to the peaceful withdrawal of their respective states from the Union. As a result, the United States may never be the same. Indeed, in the not too distant future, it may cease to exist, just like its former nemesis, the U.S.S.R.

How can this be? Our government has lost its moral authority. It has become a cross between an oligarchy and an autocracy disguised as a democracy—just like the former Soviet Union. Our nation is no longer sustainable economically, politically, militarily, socially, culturally, or environmentally. Because of its size, it is ungovernable and, therefore, unfixable.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Be Brave, Be Very Brave

From an article entitled "A State Within A State: The Centralist Better Get Used To It".

If there was one thing that seemed to annoy the Bush II Administration more than anything about Hezbollah during its recent war with Israel, was that Hezbollah was “a state within a state,” i.e. a parallel government was operating within the bounds of sovereign state (Lebanon). Apparently the Bushes and the centralizers within the Beltway don’t like “state within states” very much. Apparently such an idea seems to run afoul of the U.S.’ global hegemony. If the U.S. is the dominant power on the globe, then there is supposedly no room for such little entities to be able to operate. Don’t they know we’re an empire now according to one administration official?

[...]

So if such places can have “states within states,” why not the U.S.? Especially why not the U.S.? After all, modern global connecting technology like the Internet and GPS satellites give such small places the opportunity to survive economically and preserve their unique cultures through independence, de facto or de jure. An independent Vermont could very well survive on its own no worse than tiny Singapore, Liechtenstein or Andorra. And even if Vermont, or New Hampshire, or the South was just independent in the mind only, such distinct regionalism is the very hallmark of the American experiment.

It should be pointed out that when the U.S. won its independence, what it did more or less was secede from the British Empire. And for much of that struggle, it governed not by the Constitution, but by the Articles of Confederation, which allowed the states a great deal of freedom within structure of the American nation. It only because of powerful economic, commercial and political interests that the convention that ultimately adopted the Constitution was called to convene. Such forces tend to be the gravitational pull of centralism. But the very technologies that are supposed to pull the world together in one globalized mass, can also pull it apart. Such technologies make persons across the globe realize there is no "golden straightjacket" that encloses them. They can "be yet separate" in mind and in fact as well, one way or another and not suffer some sort of catastrophe as the elites always warn. They just have to be brave enough to do so.

I wonder if folks truly understand the momentum this thought process is gaining across the world. The age of the nation-state may indeed be over - killed by would be empire-builders that pushed centralization too far. William Lind is perhaps one of the greatest political/military thinkers of our age - as early as 1990 he saw the real meaning of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the coming of stateless warfare and devolution. Now in the US, Canada and Britain good folks are again talking seriously about regaining their identity and independence.

Be brave compatriots, be very brave - ours may yet be a generation that fundamentally alters the shape of things. Deo Vindice!

Dum Spiro Spero and the Rising of the South

Joshua points us to an article by Erik Curren that should warm the hearts of all Southrons -

Perhaps the best-known prophet of peak-oil doom is James Howard Kunstler, who predicts that America will suffer decades of economic hardship and political unrest after peak oil hits. In his 2005 book The Long Emergency, Kunstler writes that "it would be reasonable to wonder whether the United States will continue to exist as a unified entity, and what kind of strife the Long Emergency could ignite region by region."

I spoke about just such a scenario in a recent post.

Kunstler goes on to describe one possible response to this emergency.

The suburban development that has powered the economic engine of the New South for the last 50 years in places like Atlanta will grind to a halt. High-gas prices will make long commutes too expensive; cul-de-sac developments and McMansions will lose their value almost overnight; jobs will evaporate as businesses go bankrupt; and tax attorneys, neurologists and bond traders and their families will find themselves suddenly destitute.

Angry suburbanites - being Southerners, many of them own guns - will join with angry Crackers (Kunstler's word) in riots and rebellions directed at local and federal authorities, who will be increasingly powerless to respond as government starts to break down.

Well Kunstler is from New York for goodness sakes so I will allow him a few errors in his assessment - I shall also correct them here.

First, those people that move to subdivisions have pretty much ceased to be Southrons at all - to be certain many of them were born in the South, they may have a semblance of the dialect, they may even like to hunt and fish but they are not Southern. No real southerner could ever be happy living door-step to door-step with a bunch of other people on a piece of property that just a few years ago was probably prime pasture land.

Don't get me wrong, I know and I am friends with some of those people, but despite some trivial common interests, their very decision to fore-go freedom in exchange for convenience and "things" makes them something other that the heirs to the Southern tradition I live and enjoy.

Kunstler is right however, these people in their consumer driven cul-de-sacs are a potential problem when and if things turn bad. I have expressed my concerns related to the one subdivision within a reasonable distance of my farm in SC. Of course these people may have the numbers but they do not yet own the country side. They have not occupied by greed and consumerism each little town. They are incapable of sustaining themselves for long in bad times - let them eat cake.

Curren sees the flaw in Kunstler's assessment too -

Indeed, might the South, with its small-town and agrarian values, be better off in an energy-starved world where we have to make more of our stuff and grow more of our food close to home than many places in the North that have always relied heavily on trade and manufacturing?

While the twin evils of suburban sprawl and factory farming are indeed huge threats to a sustainable future, they have not yet entirely snuffed out the traditional Southern way of life that, in many aspects, remains a model for a re-localized society elsewhere.

[...]

Perhaps Southern towns will be slower to adopt written peak-oil plans or formal re-localization efforts than places in New England or California. But the flip side of this intellectual conservatism is that the South was also slow to give up the small-town life and vibrant communities that such activist efforts attempt to rebuild.

Like Staunton, hundreds of other towns across the region have embraced (or never abandoned) farmer's markets, revamped their downtowns and nurtured the best of the South's values - family, community and stewardship of the earth.

He continues with a wonderful description of what the South and her people are and are not and concludes with-

If Southerners choose carefully from their diverse heritage - discarding racism, violence and know-nothing jingoism while embracing community, family and stewardship of the land - the rise of Dixie could be a good thing for everybody.

It is really hard to disagree with this conclusion - racism was something I never knew in my part of SC - it was something I encountered first-hand in other parts, but not at home (meaning my community).

Vindice majores aemulamur

The Constitution Party and Paleoconservatives

Matty N. contemplates why so few paleoconservatives support the Constitution Party. He claims that perhaps it has something to do with the last portion of the party's mission statement:

"[T}o restore American jurisprudence to its original Biblical common-law foundations."

Perhaps he is correct in his assessment - maybe, however, he is wrong.

Matty argues that such a mission statement necessarily equates to joining Church and State. He also argues, wrongly, that the States are themselves prohibited from establishing a state religion. This is of course false, as many states had established state religions before 1789-92 and long after - their state religions predated the Bill of Rights and continued to legally exist after ratification. Only the Federal Government is prohibited from engaging in the establishment of a state religion (someone should remind the folks that run Arlington and the National Mall that Statism is also a religion prohibited to the US Government).

But really whether or not the various states have this right is not the point. The principles, values and traditions of American jurisprudence are squarely based upon common-law and natural law - each of which are based in large part on Biblical Law.

If The Constitution Party has to drop the term "Biblical Law" from its mission statement to attract "real paleoconservatives" then the point seems moot - anyone with such a tenuous grasp of history as to completely misunderstand the development and origin of jurisprudence on the American continent is just not ready to be a paleoconservative yet. They lack an appreciation for and understanding of history that is simply required of a person that holds out a philosophy that honors traditions and what was good of the past.

Matty does get it right in the end:

The former national taxpayer's party [Constitution Party] needs to go back to its own roots -- a Constitution Party which supports strict interpretation of our Constitution, its limited powers bestowed upon the federal government, the power of the States to establish their own militias, and its exact freedoms it provides for the American people while supporting better values in our government and in out people. How do you do the latter? No morality based legislation, but set up ethical standards for our government officials. How about promoting values? Well, that's done by the individuals through their own religious and other values-based endeavors without forcing it through the government. We don't need too much government involvement in our values and if it is needed, (theft, murder, drug laws) it can be done on the State level. These state-by-state morality based legislation can be a state-by-state decision...

I have doubts that even if the Constitution Party could attract significant votes that it would ever affect change at the national level - all the same I support them (even amidst their own misconceived self-inflicted wounds). I cheer for them and hope for their success because essentially each time they raise an issue at the national level it reverberates at the local level. Perhaps in its own way the CP might just help in the effort to reawaken states and communities and engage people in the process of taking back what is theirs and righting wrongs.

It is time to dust off the 10th Amendment and give it a spin around the block!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Devolution Anyone?

Keith Humphreys - a CE delegate to the 1st North American Secession Convention in Vermont - has started a digital project to keep alive the collaborative progress achieved at that event

The very idea or mention of secession is so misunderstood and easily dismissed by those that refuse to ponder it. Take a gander at reasonable men, from all corners of the United States, talking about why secession is a viable solution our current problems.

I have conversed or met most of the men you see in the video, all are reasonable, thoughtful and rational people. Here and here are more videos.

From a paleoconservative point of view devolution is the only solution that can ensure what is important is preserved. Consolidation necessarily means that tradition, culture and heritage is destroyed.  Still unconvinced?

All across the world the winds of devolution are again blowing - in the mid-80's nobody would have thought it possible that the Soviet Union could collapse without great violence - but it happened. Quebec just may finally achieve the nationhood most Quebecers have long desired. Even in Scotland the old embers of individual nationalism and identity have sparked new flames.  Why not in these United States?

My hat is off to the men that have worked for so long toward the day when we could again talk about the issue of secession - particular kudos to Professor Donald Livingston, Kirkpatrick Sale, Dr. Michael Hill, Dr. Clyde N. Wilson and others to numerous to mention as well as to groups like The Middlebury Institute, The League of the South, The Abbeville Institute and others.

We all stand on the shoulders of giants - those that came before, in this case Burke, Jefferson and Calhoun but the men and groups above have certainly done their part in this generation.

This is the absolute only solution to all of our problems.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Chance Favors the Prepared Mind

Pragmatic Survivalist

Andreas' post got me thinking alright, after I penned my last post I went to bed with my head swimming in this subject. I will share a lot in this post I probably ought not share. If I ever hope to influence anyone with political thoughts I should not share what some will misunderstand to be "craziness" but to heck with all of that.

I mentioned in my last post that I was once fascinated with survivalist thought and that I have in fact made a lot of effort over the years to equip myself as a survivalist, more or less. I have to clarify all of that; then I will tell a story of how I intend to survive the bad times I foresee as a possibility. By "bad times" I mean a natural disaster forcing me to take care of my family for a few weeks up to one of the more dire scenarios listed below lasting upwards to a couple of years.

One of the numerous email newsletters I receive is from a gentleman named Bruce Beach. Bruce is the founder and driving force behind a project to build community based survival programs all over the world. His most famous work (or infamous according to Canadian "authorities") is a project called Ark II.

Bruce is a wonderful gentleman, we have conversed numerous times via email. We differ in our philosophical approach to mankind, our religious beliefs and our view of the future but my relationship over the years with him via digits has been rewarding. Sign up for his newsletter.

Bruce believes strongly in a nuclear calamity - I do not fear this as much as he but I do not discount the possibility. He believes that after the calamity mankind will be left without effective government and that communities must band together to survive and rebuild. Bruce does not welcome the calamity but he does see it as an event that will allow mankind to rebuild and correct mistakes of the past. He makes a good argument that you will survive the initial stages of a calamity.

I disagree with several points in his assessment. First, no matter how badly beaten up, government will survive any calamity, manmade or otherwise (more on that later). Second, such a calamity will not be the path to a brighter tomorrow, it would in fact hasten the march toward tyranny - imagine 9/11 response times 5000.

I agree with him that only communities can ensure the survival of most people during bad times - let's face it 99.99% of the population is incapable of being true individual survivalist. There is danger to the prepared family in this community response however. Suppose you are the only person around that prepared anything at all; suppose you have things that others want. The community could get together and "vote" to redistribute your goods. Local communities could be good or bad depending upon the character of your neighbors.

As for government in general consider this. No matter what scenario you want to go with - plague, nuclear Holocaust, peak oil theory, economic collapse or [insert anything] - the likelihood that the central government would cease to exist is minimal. Some piece of that gigantic leviathan would survive. If oil was expensive and hard to come by in the peak oil scenario - the government would still have oil. Government people would have whatever limited supplies of medicines were required to cure any disease. Some functionary would still be alive and kicking even after the most horrific nuclear scenario.

To be certain it is conceivable that government could be hampered for a time, maybe a long time. Just look at the FEMA/DHS response to Katrina - and those buffoons knew that was going to occur. Perhaps in the most extreme scenario imaginable the central government would have no real control of many areas for several months.

This does not mean that the central government would just give up and go away. To the contrary, the state of emergency and the powers the Federal Government would declare to itself would be greater than any ever considered in this land. Eventually they would come to "save you" - despite the fact that you had already survived the initial event and the traumatic after affects. Your rugged individualism would be championed in speeches but looked upon disfavorably in policy matters. You can just hear the talk now, "we have to do something about these rouge towns out there in the countryside, and what about all of those guns - they are a threat to democracy".

When I say I was a survivalist as a teen and I have made many survivalist preparations as an adult I mean that I prepare to face the bad time - the time between a world shaking event and the time that the government comes around to "save me". Now if it takes them two years to "get to us" and by that time we already have a pretty good system working they may have a problem on their hands when they come to say "we are from the government and we are here to help" - translation, we got our stuff in order and we are here to tell you we are in charge again.

Thus in my last post when I considered firearms for the survivalist, I left out one very important consideration. Suppose you and your community survive only to find two years down the road a Federal Government comes knocking, one calling itself the US Government and paying homage to The Constitution and all that but resembling say Lenin's Soviet Union - shouting "land, peace, and bread" or Hitler's German. Think it impossible? Tyranny follows disaster.

I suggest, as I have always suggested that firearms serve two purposes; to defend the individual and to thwart tyranny - with the minor ancillary purposes of hunting and sport. Surviving a major catastrophe only to submit to utter tyranny would be foolish - better to be armed and ready. If the world is to be remade after such an event - for good or bad - it will not happen without violence. You are either prepared to face that or submit to it. Keep you arms clean and your powder dry.

As a paleoconservative my philosophy is that communities are the key to everything - including surviving any potential disaster scenario. The lowest form of government is the seat of power that is best suited to help and the most deserving of loyalty in such cases (loyalty after that to God and family). In the United States the local sheriff is the highest lawman in the county (no matter who else with a badge shows up). If bad things happen we ought to be able to rely on ourselves first, then our neighbors and then our local government. My brand of politics and my political philosophy are not divorced from this concept at all.

Survivalism May Come Back

Andreas over at The Western Confucian forces me to think about a subject that used to be near and dear to my heart.

I have mentioned before my life growing up was a combination of half military brat half country boy. During the times I got to spend on the family farm I learned essentially everything that Hank Williams Jr. talks about in his song "A Country Boy Can Survive". I learned to plant, fish, hunt, grow, skin, clean, cook, fix and "gerry-rig". Of course my knowledge of these things was greatly reliant on an ordered society - no matter how much country folks like to believe otherwise their skills generally require other people and other resources to actually work. From that standpoint, "country boys" are not ready made survivalist.

Much like Andreas describes, I too spent a lot of time in my teens during the 80's reading survivalist materials. It was not so much that I was convinced then that the world was going to end, I thought that R.E.M. could have been right in their description of "The End of The World as We Know it." I was primarily fascinated with the notion and concept of making due without the conveniences of life, roughing it and beating the odds. To me that all sounded like a challenge, something akin to what early settlers (very early as in the mountain men) faced.

Now we are faced with several possible scenarios that could indeed spell the end of the system we know and rely upon; Peak Oil Theory being but one of these possibilities.

I think everyone ought to own a piece of land that they can call their own - a place that they can live on in good and bad times. Not everyone can be a full-blown individual survivalist but everyone should be able to grow a little bit (think British WWII Victory Gardens) or have a skill that they can trade.

Items to consider:

  1. You must own the land/house you plan to use in bad times outright - no bank note!
  2. Water - you must have access to it and be able to clean it.
  3. You must have a skill that others need, have a massive storehouse or be able to produce everything you will ever need. The best plan is to store a little of hard to get things, be able and ready to grow things (hobby garden during good times) and have a skill that is tradable.
  4. You have to be able and ready to defend yourself. (more on this below) The defending yourself part of surviving bad times is the lowest of concerns, it does not matter if you can defend yourself if you cannot first take care of yourself. Most of the old survival stuff I read placed guns first - these are just tools to ensure all of your other hard work remains yours.

Andreas asks about firearms for protection when things go bad. First you should have a shotgun - good for close range, easy to learn and maintain, hard to miss. Shotguns are good for defense and hunting - and if you were ever faced with three or four hungry vandals in a close fight a shotgun cannot be beat by the ordinary shooter. If you have only one gun it should be a shotgun - a pump action Remington 870 12 gauge.

If you have two guns then pick a pistol, in fact get one pistol for each adult capable of carrying one. Even in bad times most folks will not want to walk around with a long gun all the time. A pistol is easy to carry, and does not make you look like you are seeking a fight when you are just going out to the shed. Pick revolvers in a caliber that the owner can be comfortable with. Ignore all the talk of stopping power etc, it makes no sense to load up your wife with a .45 Colt revolver if she is not comfortable with it. Sure you could take her to the range every Saturday but honestly how long will that last - either she is a gun person or she is not. It is better to get her a .22 revolver that she can become comfortable with in short order. Avoid automatics unless you are very comfortable with them, better to go with a revolver (P1970 Peacemaker in .45 caliber). Remember load five and leave the hammer on the empty chamber. If you are really comfortable buy an automatic (as a secondary pistol) - you cannot beat a 1911 Colt .45.

For most folks a rifle is not the best use of funds. If it came down to either buying say some farming tool or a rifle - buy the farming tool. If you are willing to spend time figuring out how to shoot a rifle and hit things then buy a Ruger Mini-14. It is easy to use, there are tons of after market "goodies" available and it fires 5.56mm (which could be laying around if things turn bad).

Remember if it really came to defending your family and home such an event would likely occur when you were not particularly prepared for it (i.e. you are out minding your business in the garden or sleeping). Thus my recommendations tend toward weapons you can carry about loaded for extended periods of time without fear of springs etc. degrading and that allow you the best tactical advantage in a close fight.

Of course if you are a male and healthy enough you have a duty to assist the militia if and when it is formed to protect the community - for that you need a rifle. So if you are interested in doing your community duty go ahead and buy the Ruger Mini 14.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I am Thankful For

My father for teaching me all I ever need to know about being a real man.

My mother for showing me what grace and compassion are all about.

My grandfather, the most Christ-like man I have ever known.

My wife and best friend, she saw something in me that I cannot understand and has been by my side ever since ( over 16 years now).

My children, the greatest gift God can bestow.

The patience that God has shown toward me, he gave me abilities and gifts - most of which I have seldom used fully. No matter how far I have strayed from what I know to be right I have always made it through the darkest days of my life - always I have been given one more chance to make things right.

My faithful Beagle Dog and second best friend.   

That despite all of the failings and shortcomings inherent in the system, I have been allowed to do exactly the thing I always wanted to do for work.  Despite it all, my last 21 years have been filled with enough wonderful moments and fabulous experience to make a "good life".

You, our two dedicated readers - I am not certain why you come here but I am honored you take time out of your day to read the things we write.

God Bless you all and Happy Thanksgiving!

Everybody Wants a Piece

WASHINGTON: The new commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps feels the corps should grow in size to take care of the increasing needs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gen James Conway, who took up the top job eight days ago, told newspersons this is absolutely necessary if the country does not want to compromise on training or put undue stress on the corps.

It is hard to judge this man solely based on one statement but this thought process seems suspect to me. Perhaps I am just a cynic.

The Marine Corps does not need to grow, not right away - it needs to step back, refocus on core capabilities and correct several of the creeping killers (political correctness, risk aversion and feminism).

Every service believes it has to adapt and adjust to "support the global War on Terror" which really means "hey we have to get a piece of the pie in order to ensure we keep getting funding.

This is exactly why we have ridiculous situations like Johnnie describes "Boatswain's Mate[s] kicking down doors in cordon and search ops" or the Air Force sending their effeminate flunkies to "basic warrior skills courses" so they can "get out and train the Iraqi Army" (imagine that- the Air Force training an Army - the world is upside down).

A few months ago the Navy threw around the idea of creating Naval Infantry Battalions - hey swabbie Admirals the last time I checked the premier "Naval Infantry Battalions" in the world were located in the USMC; you know those boys you give rides to in the belly of your boats (no offense Johnny to you on my "boat" usage - that was directed at the fellows that came up with the stupid NIB idea).

Poor old Barry Goldwater must have been close to senility when his name was attached to the infamous and poorly thought out Goldwater-Nichols Act in 1986.

The fact is all the service have a role and they ought to stick to that. The Air Force should keep to flying, the Navy to managing the blue and brown water and airspace in those areas, the Army fights and wins land wars. Finally, the USMC should provide the unique capability it has always provided - it should not strive to expand to become a miniature Army. If anyone needs proof of that just take a gander at how screwed up the Army is - do we really want to risk the USMC going the same way.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Re: The Lessons of War

Johnny's last post reminds me of an American military maxim which roughly states that US forces are always exceedingly well prepared to fight a previous war. Generally the truth of this statement is that preparation is for the last major war; unfortunately in the case of the US invasion of Iraq that preparation was for WWII.

The US military has never truly adopted 3rd Generation Warfare (Maneuver Warfare in US parlance or Blitzkrieg more accurately termed.) We claim that we are a 3GW force, we have some of the trappings but we have failed to adopt the very necessary principle of valuing initiative over obedience in leaders.

Perhaps if the US Army and Marine Corps had adhered to the maxim mentioned above by preparing to refight Vietnam things would have gone a bit differently - perhaps.

I recall many fascinating conversations with a British Major I befriended down in Basra. He had a great uncle buried somewhere just north of Babil in central Iraq - he died fighting there in Britain's previous folly in that land during the 1920's.

Whatever their shortcomings, my experience with the British is that they have a much longer and more profound view of things. The organizational culture of their army has been shaped by failed wars of empire, occupation and insurgency. In addition their success in Northern Ireland is no small feat.

The British have learned something Americans do not yet understand, they have been there and failed and are smarter for it.

Our conversations in the early stages were measured; he did not want to offend me. In time he opened up his views into what might be best described as "you yanks just don't get it".

I suppose we don't. While I was in Basra the Brits operated in ways that American commanders would call reckless - they took risks but they were relatively non-threatening to the population. Contrast that to my time in Najaf, Ramadi and Fallujah - the US Marines there did not play nice or take risks, they brought the hammer and anvil regularly.

Really this all speaks to just one more reason why the US ought not engage in Wars for Empire - we are not qualified.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Chief Lawyer Bashes the Bill o' Rights

(Link Via Rebellion) AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP)— Attorney General Alberto Gonzales contended Saturday that some critics of the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program were defining freedom in a way that poses a "grave threat" to U.S. security.

First, I hate the Air Force, just had to say that.

Second, I was once a Constitutionalist, but more or less no longer. To be a Constitutionalist you have to accept certain premises.

  1. the Federalist did not lie
  2. the anti-federalist were wrong
  3. humanism, human reasoning and the enlightenment were/are right
  4. human nature is capable of managing centralized power

I still believe that the Constitution is the de jure law of the land, the de facto circumstance notwithstanding. It still forms the contract that binds the states with the artificial entity called the Federal Government. It is supposedly still the vehicle by which the states and the people delegate certain limited rights, privileges and powers to the Federal Government. That is true at least in theory.

Let us work with the theoretical - the Federal Government is restricted to certain specified powers. So then, what of these freedoms that some - according to Gonzales- are defining wrongly?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

It seems among other things we have the right to be secure in our "papers". The drafters of the Bill of Rights certainly could not envision a world in which electronic communication replaced written "paper" communication. Their intent is, however, clear; communication, in whatever form is protected from unreasonable search and seizure.

Every lawyer in the American Colonies, to include every person involved with the drafting and writing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, was very familiar with Blackstone's Commentaries on English Common Law. These four volumes served as de facto law in the colonies where civil law was not yet written. The ideas contained therein, about the relationship of the citizen to government and the rights of citizens, influenced these men. These commentaries must be consulted to determine exactly what was intended with the 4th Amendment.

First Blackstone's definition of rights:

RIGHTS are however liable to another subdivision ; being either, first, those which concern, and are annexed to the persons of men, and are then called jura personarum or the rights of persons ; or they are, secondly, such as a man may acquire over external objects, or things unconnected with his person, which are stiled jura rerum or the rights of things.

So we have jura personarum - rights of persons and jura rerum or the rights of a person over things - the Fourth Amendment speaks to both of these rights; it speaks to a man's rights to his private property (things) and to the security of his person. Blackstone describes the common law view of private property thusly:

SO great moreover is the regard of the law for private property, that it will not authorize the least violation of it ; no, not even for the general good of the whole community.

This is what the framers of The Constitution understood property rights to mean, and they certainly understood "effects" and "papers" to be private property.

How is it then that a man like Alberto Gonzales, when speaking of warrantless spying on American citizens, can say:

We believe the president has the authority under the authorization of military force and inherent authority of the constitution to engage in this sort of program, but we want to supplement that authority.

He went on to describe the view that such violations of ancient rights were in fact:

is superficial and is itself a grave threat to the liberty and security of the American people

This from the very man with the chief job of protecting the Constitution. Liberty at what price Mr. Attorney-General?

Blackstone warns:

...these rights consist, primarily, in the free enjoyment of personal security, of personal liberty, and of private property. So long as these remain inviolate, the subject is perfectly free ; for every species of compulsive tyranny and oppression must act in opposition to one or other of these rights, having no other object upon which it can possibly be employed.

I am but a simple country boy really, a humble Soldier - as John Kerry said recently I did not study too hard in school, otherwise I would have a different profession. I am an infantryman by trade and an engineer by education - I am not a lawyer. I am of the opinion that simple but profound things are comprehensible by men like me. I cannot fathom that something as important as basic rights should be so complicated or nuanced as to required elaborate interpretation. The Constitution is written with words any basically educated adult can understand. How can this possibly be so difficult? How can our own government attempt to continually redefine the contract, its powers and our rights?

It seems to me it is all right there in black and white, but like I said - I am just a simple country boy.

Make Love Not War

(CBS/AP)Two peace activists have planned a massive anti-war demonstration for the first day of winter.


But they don't want you marching in the streets. They'd much rather you just stay home.


The Global Orgasm for Peace was conceived by Donna Sheehan, 76, and Paul Reffell, 55, whose immodest goal is for everyone in the world to have an orgasm Dec. 22 while focusing on world peace.

Hey, this is one peace protest I support and will be certain to sign up for.  I am always looking for another reason for frisky-business around the house. I am not sure about all the hokey "meditating peaceful thoughts" bit of "thinking world peace" during stuff but I will do my part.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I suppose I Should Weigh-in on Jim Webb too

First, I am generally always happy to have a man of Ulster Scots lineage and a Southerner (much of Missouri is the South) elected to anything, particularly to something like the Senate. I say generally, because men of such pedigrees are still fallible.

I cannot help but be impressed with Webb's life prior to 2006.  He is a bona fide war hero (if we accept that any real heroes actually survive war). Many of his ideas while Secretary of The Navy were right on, particularly as they related to returning the Marine Corps to the "Old Corps".  His previously stated views of women in the military are also correct.

Many folks now hold Webb out as a paleoconservative and, while I like much of what he has said, I am not certain that he qualifies as a true paleoconservative.  Pat Buchanan's blog has the complete text of an article by Jim Webb entitled "American Workers Have a Chance to be Heard".  I have selected a few lines for analysis.

The most important–and unfortunately the least debated–issue in politics today is our society’s steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century.

Ok, this scares me, but it is only the first sentence. When folks begin to bash class I think Marx. He clarifies that statement -

The top 1% now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, up from 8% in 1980. The tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes.

In an of itself I have to say that this circumstance is not a bad thing, at least not the sort of thing that demands change.  If all other things were equal I would have no problem with some achieving more than others. Of course all things are not equal, the very existence of artificial entities with person rights changes everything.

Incestuous corporate boards regularly approve compensation packages for chief executives and others that are out of logic’s range.

There is the kicker.  If Webb's game is to denounce the corporate system then he may be walking the paleoconservative path (assuming he holds true in a lot of other areas).  Owners of business do not get to vote for themselves a higher salary; they must earn it.  Small corporations with investors that know each other and the managers do not simply dole out income increases.  Only mega corporations with a small cabal actually controlling the outcome of stockholder votes are able to accomplish this.  They accomplish this even when the corporation really does not make a profit no matter that they have to rob retirement funds or cook the books. Corporations have done more than government to destroy the traditional.

“Wal-Marting” of cheap consumer products brought in from places like China, and the easy money from low-interest home mortgage refinancing, have softened the blows in recent years. But the balance point is tipping in both cases, away from the consumer and away from our national interest.

I think on this point Webb hits paydirt.  Earlier in the article he warned that these trends might force a "protectionist" backlash.  I wonder why such a backlash would be a particularly bad thing.  These are the things that make me wonder if Webb is a paleoconservative or a populist with reactionary tenancies.  If he is but a populist reactionary his ideas will fizzle because they lack a philosophical underpinning. 

I have little confidence in the political process; even if Webb turns out to be the paleoconservative many truly hope that he is, it is doubtful he can make much of a dent. It is and will be interesting to see how this all plays out and what sort of man Webb accords himself to be.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Back to the China Bit

(AP) The United States has some concerns about a rising China, including a military expansion that may be excessive, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday.

Beijing has spent heavily in recent years on adding submarines, missiles, fighter planes and other high-tech weapons to its arsenal and extending the reach of the 2.3 million-member People's Liberation Army, the world's largest fighting force.

Its reported military budget rose more than 14 percent this year to $35.3 billion, but outside estimates of China's true spending are up to three times that level.

"There are concerns about China's military buildup," Rice told a television interviewer. "It's sometimes seemed outsized for China's regional role."

More neocon "wisdom" from the 2006 Vietnam tour. (What are these fools thinking?

One good question from the statement above - Who is Rice to relegate a nation that is thousands of years old and is larger and more populace than any other nation to a mere "regional role"?

In June of 2005 I wrote four essays (here, here, here and here) stating a theory that perhaps the entire reason we went to war in Iraq was as simple as oil - not oil for us but for the sake of preempting peer competitors.

"Amidst the many uncertainties looming over China's future political and economic circumstances, one thing is evident: whatever the pace of economic development may be, China must address its rapidly growing demand for natural energy and resources. Oil will be at the top of this list. Though China's energy mix will continue to be based on coal, with oil accounting for only about 20-25% of its overall primary energy consumption, the supply of this strategic fuel will remain of critical importance to China's security." From the Brookings Institute 1999

Prior to September 2001 all Neocondi and her partners talked about was active containment of China. Their words were bellicose and most likely alarming to the Chinese.

Today I still stand by the premise that our invasion of Iraq was part of a large and complicated strategy to contain China. Creating a "stable, democratic, pro-US regime" in Iraq (if it had worked) would have gone a long way toward thwarting Chinese potential - at the very least it would have assured US influence over resources the Chinese desperately need.

But really what is the big fear surrounding China? Militarily this fear is baseless (unless one foolishly considers ignoring the military maxim of "never fighting a land war on the Asian continent")

Here are the facts: (Data from Global Firepower)

Spending:

US = $518,100,000,000

China = $81,480,000,000

So even if we go with an estimate higher than Condi's for China spending the US still spends FIVE times as much.

As for the overall size of our armies - China's is larger but it comprises only 20% of available manpower. The US military comprises 34% of available manpower. Proportionally the US maintains a larger military force.

China lacks every technological advantage required to face off with the US in a 2nd or 3rd generational conflict. They are an enemy only if we make them so, the neocons have insisted since 2000 in making them an enemy.

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Burlington Declaration

Product of the 2006 North American Secessionist Convention

Burlington Declaration

We, the participants in the First North American Secessionist Convention, though representing many different and diverse groups and constituencies, agree on the following principles as representing the truths of natural law and historical experience:


1. Any political entity has the right to separate itself from a larger body of which it is a part and peaceably to establish its independence as a free and legitimate state in the eyes of the world.


2. Governments are instituted among peoples, deriving their just powers from the consent of their citizens, and whenever any form of government becomes destructive of the legitimate goals of life, liberty, prosperity, and self-determination, it is the right of the people in democratic fashion to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.


3. Any government formed by and dependent upon a constitution to regulate its actions and affairs has certain legitimate powers delegated to it, but any powers not so delegated are reserved to the people of that state and their democratically chosen political bodies.


4. Nations once independent should engage in peace, commerce, good will, and honest friendship with all nations, and observe good faith, justice, and harmony toward all, but establish entangling relationships with none, nor engage in colonial dominance, political or economic, over any.


5. Direct democracy, with one vote for each and every citizen (as the polity shall designate citizenship), has proven to be a desirable form of governance among people, but it can operate with justice and equality only when at a small enough scale that each person may be known to every other person; when representative forms of government are undertaken, they should likewise best be established at a scale small enough so that each representative can be informed of the opinions and beliefs of the general run of the people in the constituency or community which that person is chosen to represent. It is within this body of principles that we ask all governments to operate and it is by them that we ourselves, individually and the organizations we represent, intend to be guided.


Burlington, Vermont
November 4, 2006

Alan Keyes

"If we were still the people that we claim to be, we would have watered the tree of liberty several times over the last several decades." Alan Keyes

Here is an excellent video on the subject of State's Rights and The Constitution, a bit large but worthwhile.

Another Draft Dodger Does a Tour in Vietnam

HANOI — Six years ago today, Bill Clinton became the first U.S. president to visit Hanoi and the first in more than three decades to visit Vietnam, closing a painful chapter in American diplomatic and military history.

When President Bush arrived today, he was shadowed by an issue that was politically difficult for him when he first ran for president, just as it was for Clinton: the question of military service during the Vietnam War. And there was new attention to an issue that is politically painful for him in 2006: whether the Iraq war is turning into a new generation's equivalent of the torturous Vietnam conflict.

The irony in all of this is just too obvious it really needs no comment - a war waged illegally without Congressional declaration, mismanagement by a egotistical Secretary of Defense, apathy at home, hubris in the White House.  How dare this man now go to Vietnam to further slap every poor fool that left sweat, blood and friends there in that pointless war.

He was there of course to talk about the neoconic trinity of free trade, democracy and "global cooperation"

Bush said he was committed to liberalized trade rules, despite what he noted were "the old temptations of isolationism and protectionism" in the United States.

I suppose he was talking about true conservatives, i.e. paleoconservatives.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mr. H.K. Edgerton


Just a few of the wonderful words of Mr. H.K. Edgerton (if you have never heard of him you should acquaint yourself with him):

"Our President speaks volumes about freedom , honor , democracy and the will of the people, yet stands idly by as this nation's finest schools continue to inculcate into the thinking process of our children and adult citizens a brand of hatred against the bravest men and women who built the very foundation of this nation , and whose prodigy like them are proud to be called Southern; no matter their caste."

The Good Old Days

Someone else appreciates my favorite part of North American history-

Most high school American history textbooks devote one chapter to this period, lasting from 1609 (in the British colonial version) to 1788. The textbook model was set by the most widely used American history textbook in the first half of twentieth century, written by David Saville Muzzey. That textbook dominated the field from 1911 until 1963. By 1963, it had been assigned to 30 million students. The 1963 version was co-authored by Arthur S. Link, Woodrow Wilson's hagiographer. (I know of no better single piece of evidence of the decline of the American public high school than a comparison of the two-volume 1922 edition, more rigorous than a college textbook today, with the 1963 edition. Yet 1963 was the year of the highest SAT scores; it was downhill after that.)

Why is there this short-changing of the colonial era? Because most high schools are funded by the civil government. Civil government was weak and decentralized before 1788. Any level of civil government above or beyond the town council was barely detectable in any colonial citizen's life. Therefore, to focus the narrative on the era of American cultural development in which a true multiculturalism existed – long before American political sovereignty existed – appalls today's academic multiculturalists, who see the United States Government as the only reliable agency of cultural coordination.

If we have a future that is worth having, it is to be found in the past - during our history prior to the deception of 1788.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Odds and Ends

Get ready for the socialist monster to attempt to force national health care back down our throats-

"Health care is coming back," Clinton warned, adding, "It may be a bad dream for some."

In a few months some of us just might bemoan the absence of the neocon fascist.

And for all the folks that told me I was a fool years ago for stating that China really is a threat here is this -

A Chinese submarine stalked a U.S. aircraft carrier battle group in the Pacific last month and surfaced within firing range of its torpedoes and missiles before being detected.

Of course China is really only an enemy if we make her so....Neocondi Rice and gang spent a lot of time and effort before 9/11 telling China they were an enemy and pursuing a policy of active containment.

And then there is this; what is up with the Church of England?

The Church of England has broken with tradition[al] dogma by calling for doctors to be allowed to let sick newborn babies die.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Support Your Local Sheriff?

This from a mailing list entitled "The Charleston Voice" (I am not certain how I got on the list or who the writer is but I do enjoy the emails)

From a recent message:

"Fear the government that fears your guns...". Note the "culprit" had no prior police record. What a waste of precious law enforcement funds. Washington County taxpayers should work to cut the budget of Sheriff Tim Helder. State legislators should prohibit a federal agency, the BATF, from meddling in state affairs under the 10th Amendment. This was never a power delegated by the people of Arkansas to the federal government. Similar exigencies could await gold and silver "hoarders".

From the incident mentioned:

FAYETTEVILLE — A Fayetteville militia member was arrested Wednesday by teams of special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other federal and state agencies and local police in connection with illegal firearms

Problem number one, I see no justification in the Constitution for the Federal Government to maintain a police force (nor several of them as is the case).

“We assisted ATF and several other agencies in arresting Fincher. I don’t believe he has a criminal history with us. That’s all I can tell you,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds is the county sheriff - supposedly the highest ranking law man in the county if we are to trust tradition and common law but here we have yet another example of a county sheriff "dutifully" assisting the federal goons when they come knocking.

A machine gun that can fire 550 rounds a minute and assorted 9 mm Sten submachine guns are stored in the Washington County militia’s concrete and steel vault, according to information gathered from an interview conducted by The Morning News in March. Each weapon is stamped with the word “non-commercial” to prove the group holds the arms for militia purchases only and not for trade or sale.

Now before you say, "see they were breaking the law" consider again the words of Congressman Ron Paul that I discussed in a recent post:

The Founders knew that unarmed citizens would never be able to overthrow a tyrannical government as they did. They envisioned government as a servant, not a master, of the American people. The muskets they used against the British Army were the assault rifles of that time. It is practical, rather than alarmist, to understand that unarmed citizens cannot be secure in their freedoms.

If we concede that law-abiding citizens - like Mr.Fincher (see the sheriff's statement above about the man's criminal history) cannot own modern-day muskets we are conceding the right of the people to force change on a government that cannot be persuaded with reason.

Fincher said in [a] March interview he believes Americans should proudly uphold the right to bear arms, stand up for land rights and not always accept the federal government as the supreme law of the land.


“What we’ve got to do today is hold our ground,” Fincher said in March.

For Mr. Fincher and the 13 other members of his group raided in their homes 8 November standing their ground was an expensive proposition - a sacrifice the rest of us should remember and honor.

Gesture Politics and the Populi

Bill Losapio asks a relevant question and touches on an important idea-

I continue to contemplate how the movie “V for Vendetta” came to be released, indeed made, at all. The ideas in this movie resonate with freedom’s strings tuned throughout the centuries, from the Magna Carta, to the rise of English Common Law, to the fire burning in the bellies of American colonists raging against the Mercantilist Banker forces of the British Crown, to the modern American citizen awakening from his trance induced through a lifetime of propaganda, lies, and history rewritten into statist nonsense.

A lot of "conservative" folks dislike "V For Vendetta" for various reasons, you can probably find those poorly thought out objections for yourself.  Bill's thoughts mesh well with something I contemplated this weekend. My son and I watched a DVD series produced by PBS on the events leading up to the American Revolution (the series is hosted by Forrest Sawyer and it is produced by PBS but surprisingly it is not bad).

I was reminded of the critical contribution that populism and civil disobedience played in forcing the events that lead to the revolution. 

I am generally opposed to populism and democracy for they are dangerous.  The intellectual leaders of the revolution were opposed to these dangerous notions as well but they did recognize the power of the mob once stirred to action.  The committees that tarred and feathered tax men, the boycott of British goods, the refusal to submit to taxation via cheap tea - none of these could have occurred without the support of the populi.  In fact, there was a real danger that the people could have, in there fervor, gone too far.

Patrick Henry and Thomas Paine, specifically, and Benjamin Franklin in a more subtle way realized the utility of the general population and the critical necessity of feeding the right information at the right time. While most of the other founding fathers feared unleashing the moral indignation of the mob these two men saw the benefits of the act.

The simple, non-violent act of dumping tea in the Boston harbor was a masterpiece of "gesture politics" - an act that forced the Crown to submit to colonial insubordination or react in an unreasonable manner. 

I am not certain why Americans submitted to a direct tax in 1862 and again in 1913 without real resistance.  It seems to me that if every town ostracized every federal tax man in their midst, if every county sheriff refused to assist federal agents or allow them to operate in his jurisdiction, if every employer refused to take money out of the paychecks of their employees and if every citizen refused to pay taxes the entire system would have never taken hold.  Alas, our grandparents and great grandparents did not have the courage or foresight to resist - we cannot blame them, we ourselves have allowed usurpations of our liberty in our time without resistance.

The idea of true liberty that respects natural law and traditional associations and responsibilities is all that remains - just the idea. Ideas and symbols that represent those ideas can be powerful motivations for the populi.

(Bill) I suppose it was only a matter of time before someone raised the banner, donned the accoutrements, and stepped out before the mechanisms of power to be seen by all. Leave it to an unnamed volunteer at the behest of the courageous We the People Foundation to send the first shockwaves to the bureaucracy by using the character of V to present different arms of the Federal government with a communication on the government’s failure to address petitions for a Redress of Grievances....

And thus I return to “V.” This character represents a symbol… a rallying cry for the reawakening of the American patriot… a trigger for the tempest of freedom that lies dormant in every heart of every human being, American or otherwise.

It is time we employ gesture politics - enough with bashing the left/right ideological fools - paleoconservatives must serve the role that Jefferson and Washington filled in The Revolution - our Libertarian brethren must fill the role of Thomas Paine and Patrick Henry. It is not too late to fundamentally change the order of things without violence - but it must be done in this generation.  

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Progress Hampered by Progressives

Real progress is impossible because of progressives - oh they mean well but their ideas are generally based on practicality and short-term concepts, while ignoring the traditional, principled and the long-term. Reactionary paleoconservatism, however, offers progress that looks backward and forward.

In my own lifetime the population of the United States has increased 33%. One does not need an advanced degree in mathematics to figure out that those 300 million residents will exponentially multiply in the next 10, 20 and 20 years.

Progressives would tell us that society should be ordered to deal with this reality. I look at my temporary home in Korea and see first-hand the results of improperly preparing for population growth and other changes. The Korean population surged after the 1950-53 war. Farmer families raised 4, 5 or 7 children. These children put off the rural life of their parents, went to school, went into business and have spent their lives as urbanites.

To meet the housing needs of this increased population, cities all of over Korea sprouted housing units that are best described as identical multi-story boxes. Parks, recreation and parking were never given consideration - there was a need for housing, there was profit in building housing so enterprising businessmen met the need.

What Korea has become as a result is a pretty ugly place. Drivers double and triple park along the sides of busy roads and even into the right-most lane. Every city I visit looks the same, over each mountain I find a place that looks just like the place I just left. Don't misunderstand me, there are still a few vestiges of uniquely Korean architecture here and there, but these are all overshadowed by the gigantic, multistory housing units (the same ugly housing units I have seen in places like Egypt and Kuwait, I guess they all got a good deal on the same design.)

The progressive agenda would tell us that only the Federal Government and their programs can assist us in managing the change that is occurring all around us in the United States. We know that this is impossible so long as the Federal Government protects (legally and illegally) transnational megacorporations. Corporations are for profit, whenever their "good works" conflict with profit the later wins. Of course the Federal Government is not solely to blame; most every state has a legislature and/or governor that prostrate themselves before corporations in attempts to lure them to their states. The idea that jobs at any cost are "good" is a good analogy of what progressivism is all about.

I am an agrarian at heart - when I am free to do so I will live a free agrarian lifestyle. I do, however, realize that much of what agrarians believe cannot be applied to society as a whole. We still could choose to retain much of what is traditional and fashion that together with the best of what we have become.

The United States has spent $340 billion on the flawed war in Iraq alone, add to that the countless other billions spent on waste and fraud and programs of dubious worth and it adds up to a lot of treasure; treasure stolen from the people and used in their name.

If all that money was still in the pockets of the people that earned it AND if those people would elect folks to their city, county, and state governments that were able to look past the next election, we might be able to adapt to the changes that an increased population is and will force upon us.

I for one would not mind paying a few extra dollars in county taxes (assuming that the Federal Government stopped stealing from me) if those taxes went to things like ensuring that the counties rural make-up could survive (and assuming the county government was well run). I don't mind not having the tax-base a Wal-Mart is supposed to provide if it means Roger gets to keep his feed and seed and Harlin still runs his store.

I have no desire to see my state subsidize professional stadiums - I am from the South, I could care less about the NFL, we have the SEC and the ACC. As for giving tax breaks to corporations, I cannot possibly imagine how enticing a major corporation to move parts of their operation to my state is progress, if brining the "jobs" means they will bring foreigners from California, New York, Illinois and other places with them they should keep the jobs. Those new people simply mean some greedy scalawag will buy up another prime piece of land from some old man (or his greedy kids after he dies) and build a subdivision - that is not progress.

Things have to change, that is the nature of life - but change does not have to be haphazard nor does it mean that managing change to retain the best of the traditional is a bad thing.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Paleos Are Pro-life Too

Dr. Dan Phillips has an interesting essay on the "shock" many folks, new to paleoconservative philosophy, experience over our bashing of the "pro-life movement". (link via Publius)

...the primary objection of the paleos to the pro-life movement (not the cause of life but the political movement, mind you) is philosophical, not practical. While paleos are often distinguished by their opposition to foreign intervention, immigration, and free trade, what really sets them apart from other conservatives is much deeper than just policy. They differ on significant underlying philosophical presumptions. One helpful way of looking at this difference is to ask where paleoconservatives draw the "its all been down hill since then" or alternatively the "those were the good ol' days" line in the historical sand. Paleos generally reject the Enlightenment in whole or in part. They reject Lockean "contract theory" and the concept of "natural rights" out right. Dr. Donald Livingston, Professor of Philosophy at Emory University, calls natural rights a "philosophical superstition." According to Dr. Livingston:

"It was to secure these rights that the modern state was invented in the first place, and it is impossible, especially for Americans, not to be seduced by the doctrine. But it is nonetheless a philosophical superstition.

The reason is this. Whatever they might be, natural rights are universal and apply to all men. Further, they are known by reason, independent of any inherited moral tradition... It follows, therefore, that the doctrine of natural rights must be in a condition of permanent hostility to all inherited moral traditions. Any such tradition, no matter how noble the goods of excellence cultivated in it, can always be seen as violating someone's natural rights under some interpretation or another."

So according to the paleoconservative critique, there is no end to the havoc that can be wrought on traditional society by advocates attempting to secure their natural rights, in this case a woman's "right" to an abortion.

Union Buffoonery

For those that do not know - "y'all" can be used to refer to an individual or a group.  Don't quibble over grammar, I am speaking of specific usage in many areas.  "All y'all" and "y'all all" refers to a group and is used just as regularly as the singular/plural option.

Here is an example:

Johnnie to Sally: "Y'all take care".  In this instance Johnnie is speaking to the only other person present, Sally, but he means much more than for Sally to take care of only herself.  In this usage Johnnie is extending his well-wishes to Sally and her family - even though the family is not physically present.  In locations where this sort of usage occurs family means a lot.

When used in the manner of "all y'all" or y'all all" it is meant to refer to distinct individuals within a group.  In locations where variations of "y'all" are used in the traditional sense individuality has a significant importance - even when someone is part of a group.

I heard today of a lawsuit filed against a manager in a firm located in DC concerning the use of the phase "y'all all".  It seems the manager told a group of union employees "y'all all need to get to your stations".  Needless to say when confronted with such a racist assault the union employees dutifully filed a complaint with their union.  The union then did what any good communist organization would do - they sued the bourgeoisies manager and the company.

I do not deny that people have the right to organize into any groups they wish; fraternal, union, country club etc.  I am also no lover of giant corporations.  However, businesses ought not be forced to deal with or negotiate with anyone concerning employee issues that is not an employee.  Also, if one employee wishes to bring grievances for a group to management then the company ought to have the right to evaluate that particular employee's usefulness.  If they deem him/her a trouble-maker they should be able to fire them forthwith.

There are many myths surrounding the nobility and purpose of unions - Walter Block takes many of those false assumptions to task.

In my opinion and observation unions serve no benefit to the economy in general, create job loss/displacement, and advance communist objectives - they have no place in a just society.

The Republican Water Boy Speaks

So now we have it; the traditional in-fighting our two "great" political parties experience each time they experience a defeat. Here is what the "Republican Bob"- Rush Limbaugh - had to say about his part in supporting true conservative "ideology":

"I feel liberated, and I'm going to tell you as plainly as I can why," Rush said. "I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don't think deserve having their water carried. Now, you might say, 'Well, why have you been doing it?' Because the stakes are high. Even though the Republican Party let us down, to me they represent a far better future for my beliefs and therefore the country's than the Democrat Party and liberalism does."

What a cowardly turn-coat; what a confused, delusional, disingenuous wind-bag. There is more -

Rush explained that it has not been easy for him to endorse some of the things backed by Republicans in Congress. "There have been a bunch of things going on in Congress, some of this legislation coming out of there that I have just cringed at, and it has been difficult coming in here, trying to make the case for it when the people who are supposedly in favor of it can't even make the case themselves -- and to have to come in here and try to do their jobs ...

Beyond the fact that real conservatism is not at all ideological and Rush Limbaugh is certainly not a real conservative, the statements above tell a lot about the man. He admits supporting things he says he either disagreed with then, or conveniently now - either way his words prove him to be a liar, then or now.

Larison rips apart this hypocrisy:

...we cannot assume such good-faith naivete with Limbaugh. If these people stood for nothing in 2006, they stood for pretty much the same thing in 2004 when they won (and I don’t remember Limbaugh ever mentioning how it was the political party and not his idea of conservatism–which isn’t conservatism–that was implicated in that election). Limbaugh’s “ideology” gets most of the credit when the GOP wins and none of the blame in defeat? That seems peculiarly convenient. Nothing about the GOP changed in those two years, and certainly nothing improved, yet Limbaugh’s attitude remained virtually unchanged from one cycle to the next.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Elitism and Anti-Egalitarianism

Today, as the rest of the world discusses elections results and all that entails, I decided to poet a piece that certainly will not be read by anyone.

 

The term anti-egalitarian on the right-hand summary of our site probably requires a little explanation. To the uninitiated egalitarianism evokes much of what folks think to be good about America.

Egalitarianism, in its broadest sense, has given rise to communism, socialism, and democracy.  The idea of leveling the playing field is appealing to most people. Anyone that openly opposes egalitarianism is often considered an elitist.

There we have it; egalitarianism is good, elitism is bad and people that believe the first are also good, making the second group bad. That is at least the simple take on this. Of course the issue is not a simple one.

Equality under the law (with caveats) and equality of opportunity (based entirely on merit) are good sorts of egalitarianism. (Of course equality of opportunity based entirely on merit can become a meritocracy which is a kind of elitism. See how this is more complicated that the black/white simple analysis above?) From a paleoconservative point of view embracing this kind of egalitarianism is a given.  Discriminating against people on the basis of skin color is stupid - equality under the law(all other things also being equal) and equality of opportunity (again all other things being equal) are good societal traits.  The term "anti-egalitarian" as used on this blog does not represent an rejection of these points of egalitarianism.

First a clarification of the two points above before I move on to a full assault on egalitarianism and a defense of elitism.

Equality under the law does not necessarily mean that everyone gets the same rights. How does it make sense to allow someone on public welfare to vote?  Think about it, doesn't this allow one group to vote for people that will guarantee that their payments from the pockets of others continue?  Should non-property owners be allowed to vote on referendums at the local level related to property taxes?  Certainly not, at least not in a rationale world.  Should people that cannot read at a level sufficient to allow them to understand a standard newspaper be allowed to vote?  Probably not, how could such a person make a reasoned and informed decision.  Being treated equally under the law certainly does not equate to receiving the exact same rights as every other citizen.  It means being treated equally based upon your capability to contribute and your investment in society. 

Equality of opportunity does not mean that government ought to set differing standards to allow certain groups additional access to education, jobs or benefits - this is the antithesis of equality. Affirmative action, progressive taxes, social security, luxury taxes, inheritance taxes and even property taxes (if used wrongly) are governmental means of "guaranteeing" equal economic opportunity -but at what expense?  In reality the cost of this opportunity is borne by others that have been more successful or just plain lucky - either way such programs are socialist, this is bad egalitarianism.

There is something else fundamentally wrong with praising egalitarianism and vilifying elitism.  This logic assumes that there is nothing of human endeavor, merit, skill or ability that ought to be rewarded and emulated. And really, if you break it right down it does not matter is a person achieved their success through luck or skill - both are things that people aspire to.  We are each capable of controlling, to some degree, our skill and (luck is what it is). All the same most people want some of each. Why punish people for being lucky or skillful?

Is it possible that there are in fact certain traits that ought to be revered and emulated?  Don't we admire young athletes who work very hard and hone their skills to championship levels? What of rags to riches innovators and inventors?  Hard work and dedication are indeed traits that we ought to admire - how can something we should admire be punished by taking the profits of that hard work away and giving it to someone less capable or less dedicated?

You can certainly call me an elitist and I will not find offense in it.  I believe people that work hard and achieve success honorably are elite in a sense. You may also call me an anti-egalitarian; for I believe that all people, ideas, values and principles are not equal nor should they be treated as such.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Guns and Liberty

The Honorable Ron Paul ( I so seldom use that honorific) writes this week about guns and gun control.

The gun control debate generally ignores the historical and philosophical underpinnings of the Second amendment. The Second amendment is not about hunting deer or keeping a pistol in your nightstand. It is not about protecting oneself against common criminals. It is about preventing tyranny. The Founders knew that unarmed citizens would never be able to overthrow a tyrannical government as they did. They envisioned government as a servant, not a master, of the American people. The muskets they used against the British Army were the assault rifles of that time. It is practical, rather than alarmist, to understand that unarmed citizens cannot be secure in their freedoms.

It's convenient for gun banners to dismiss this argument by saying, "That could never happen here, this is America." But history shows that only vigilant people can keep government under control. By banning certain weapons today, we may plant the seeds for tyranny to flourish decades from now.

Tortured interpretations of the Second amendment cannot change the fact that both the letter of the amendment itself and the legislative history conclusively show that the Founders intended ordinary citizens to be armed. The notion that the Second amendment confers rights only upon organized state-run militias is preposterous; the amendment is meaningless unless it protects the gun rights of individuals.

The knee-jerk reaction to events such as school shootings is that weapons that dispense a lot of lead in a short period of time are probably too dangerous for "The People". This may be true; but if it is true then The People are worthy of neither the freedom nor liberty that guns guarantee. (A Subject for another discussion)

Risking offense to each and every one of my libertarian and paleoconservative friends that stress that change must come but it must come at the cost of no blood I offer this - history teaches such notions are naive and misplaced.

Now, slow down just a bit and hear what I am saying. I am not advocating an armed revolution nor am I saying such a thing is necessary. I wrote a few days ago that it is time that our intellectual ponderings about what is wrong and how things ought to be are all well and good but will ultimately accomplish nothing. We must become reactionaries to the cultural demise and ever increasing reliance on government to solve every problem. We must tame the beast before it devours us. This will not occur without a solid and dedicated commitment.

This commitment must be deeper than mere words and political actions. We must also realize that as Jefferson stated in his often repeated quote: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." Do we believe we are so enlightened in this age that bloodshed is no longer required at times to effect change? How foolish, the government certainly does not ascribe to that viewpoint.

Do George Washington's words still not ring true? "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." I think his view of government is still true; as a paleoconservative I accept government as a necessary evil - an evil that must be contained and restricted to the most minimal of roles and powers.

Revolution is not required today; we still have many other nonviolent means to bring about change. However, if we fail in this generation what options will our children be left with? Do we suppose that a failure on our part will result in a government that is more or less tyrannical? I presume that if we fail our children will yearn for the liberty of their fathers.

It is thus extremely important to retain the right to keep and bear arms; arms comparable in relative capability to the musket on the mantle in 1792. That musket was a military weapon, suitable for hunting man and beast. We cannot submit to the notion that our children be left with only single-shot "plinkers". The Second Amendment means a lot more than that.

Dr. Paul leaves us with this warning:

Gun control may have faded as a political issue, but the mentality that Washington knows best-- and that certain constitutional rights are anachronisms-- is alive and well. Look for gun control advocates to bide their time and look for new ways to resurrect the issue in 2008 and beyond.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Glad The Boys Took This in Stride

Greed, Gluttony and Consumerism Kills

AMERICAN children and teens were growing ever fatter tummies, a sign they were at even more risk of heart disease and diabetes, US researchers said.

They found that the belly fat of children and teenagers had increased by more than 65 per cent since the 1990s - directly in line with rising obesity rates. (The Advertiser)

This is not news at all - Americans are fat, every culture touched by American pop culture of unbridled consumerism is fat or rapidly getting fat. Even here in Korea folks are getting fat.  When I first came here in the late 1980's everyone was thin; not so any longer.

All the same, it is generally easy to spot an American - not by their clothes or attitude specifically (although that definitely helps), as I said Americans are fat.

Why are our children (and women, and men, and even old folks) so fat?  Simple, we live unsustainable and greedy lives. We are free to do everything except those things that men that are not free yearn for. We are free to shop at corporate mega fat dispensers and purveyors of genetically enhanced, pesticide and chemical fertilizer laced quasi-food products.

Do I sound like an eco-whack?  So what, there must be a balance in life between what is consumed and what is produced.  When it is possible to cram an entire day's worth of calories into one's mouth in one super-sized bag of garbage something is out of balance.

When people prefer super-sized, bland gelatinized mush over a hearty meal cooked by a real person that takes time to order, time to eat and time to enjoy something is wrong. The fast-food joints of the world are not evil, they are just convenient; in this case convenience is evil - it feeds not only big bellies but corporate giants too.

Mr. Wendell Berry

Joshua reminds me of my admiration for Wendell Berry

Below I offer a few quotes but I highly recommend you read his entire body of work - so many good words, so little time. (Read Compromise, Hell! if you read nothing else.)

"There is no sense and no sanity in objecting to the desecration of the American flag when we tolerate, encourage, and as a daily business promote the desecration of the Country for which it stands."

"What I stand for is what I stand on."

"The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it."

"We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people, but of course we are. Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? Why else would we all— by proxies we have given to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians— be participating in its destruction? Most of us are still too sane to piss in our own cistern, but we allow others to do so and we reward them for it. We reward them so well, in fact, that those who piss in our cistern are wealthier than the rest of us."

"We need to confront honestly the issue of scale. Bigness has a charm and a drama that are seductive, especially to politicians and financiers; but bigness promotes greed, indifference, and damage, and often bigness is not necessary. You may need a large corporation to run an airline or to manufacture cars, but you don't need a large corporation to raise a chicken or a hog. You don't need a large corporation to process local food or local timber and market it locally."

"What could be more absurd, to begin with, than our attitude of high moral outrage against other nations for manufacturing the selfsame weapons that we manufacture? The difference, as our leaders say, is that we will use these weapons virtuously, whereas our enemies will use them maliciously—a proposition that too readily conforms to a proposition of much less dignity: we will use them in our interest, whereas our enemies will use them in theirs."

"Let us have the candor to acknowledge that what we call “the economy” or “the free market” is less and less distinguishable from warfare. For about half of the last century, we worried about world conquest by international communism. Now with less worry (so far) we are witnessing world conquest by international capitalism. Though its political means are milder (so far) than those of communism, this newly internationalized capitalism may prove even more destructive of human cultures and communities, of freedom, and of nature. Its tendency is just as much toward total dominance and control."

"The most alarming sign of the state of our society now is that our leaders have the courage to sacrifice the lives of young people in war, but have not the courage to tell us that we must be less greedy and less wasteful."

"Today, local economies are being destroyed by the 'pluralistic,' displaced, global economy, which has no respect for what works in a locality. The global economy is built on the principle that one place can be exploited, even destroyed, for the sake of another place."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Become Reactionaries or Perish

Daniel Larison has more time, intellect and ability than I do. He is a rather prolific blogger, producing several well written posts each day.  I discover more and more that each time I find an article or issue I wish to post that Daniel has already written something.  (If Daniel has not already posted on it Joshua has.)

He recently posted a thought provoking piece on a current article in The American Conservative by Austin Bramwell.

It will be of little avail, I suppose, to note that the bulk of Mr. Bramwell’s analysis rests on the claim that conservatism is an ideology, when any conservatism worthy of the name is non-ideological.  It is an anti-ideology.  Prescription and prudence, if they make what someone might call an ideology, make a very ”thin” ideology indeed.  Someone will presumably say that this, too, is an ideological claim, but it cannot be stressed enough that there are conservatives (perhaps not many, but they do exist) who never subscribed to the thing Mr. Bramwell describes as conservative ideology.

I find it confusing that some conservatives still consider that there is, or should be, an ideology associated with real conservatism.  As Larison points out, and I have pointed out several times in the past, real conservatism is a philosophy.  By the standards of left/right ideologies real conservative positions might at various times and in various places be considered right, left or center.  To be certain in most cases real conservative positions fall right of center when viewed through a dogmatic ideological lens - this does not equate conservatism with the ideology of the right; it merely shows commonality on certain issues.

Real conservatives are for conserving and preserving the best of what history and tradition provide.  However, real conservatives are not stuck in the past - conservatism is about keeping the good and moving forward. As Clyde N. Wilson states:

The conservative philosopher Russell Kirk contrasted mere stand-patter conservatism of the dull-witted or poor in spirit who reject anything new with the true conservatism of an Edmund Burke or a John C. Calhoun who perceived that it was necessary to change in order to conserve because new conditions had created new threats to our patrimony.

No wonder that conservatism confounds and confuses ideologues on the left and right so much. At various times true conservatives have been rightly labeled as revolutionaries, reactionaries, isolationist, expansionist, traditionalist, populist, pro-war and anti-war.  When you adhere to a philosophy that talks about how to think rather than an ideology that tells you what to think it is possible to come down on the "right" side of all issues, no matter what ideological dogma states.

It is high time that true conservatives again take up the role of reactionary and if that fails revolutionary.  As Larison points out:

The greatest problem of conservatism is that it perceives real problems, but simply starts screaming, “There is a really BIG problem over here!  It is gigantic!  It’s going to wipe out life as we know it!”  Then it retires to the parlour for an obscure discussion of who insulted whom during the 1992 presidential campaign over drinks and cigars.

How completely true, he continues:

[modern conservatism] does not generate important or interesting ideas anymore and is almost structured not to generate such ideas.  It is structured to reproduce itself and confirm its own assumptions about its intellectual vitality and diversity, when neither is really in evidence in most places.

Therein lies the problem, we have become the "stand-patters" that Kirk described. True conservatives must regain the high-ground of principles and stand firm there - but to get to the high ground we must move, not merely theorize and pontificate.

Burke was a revolutionary, so was Jefferson, they accepted that a fundamental change in the status quo was acceptable to ultimately preserve and conserve the traditional.  Calhoun was a reactionary - attempting to stem the tide of wrong thinking by relatively minor machinations.  We would do well to remember these men.

We true conservatives will ultimately fail and perish completely from this land unless we become true reactionaries; reactionaries prepared to become revolutionaries if need be.