April 19, 2009
My blog is about five and a half years old at this point. That's how long he was a prisoner in Hoa Lo.
Every thought I've had since I started blogging, every friend I've made, every article I've read, every lesson I've grokked...
I have been free. I have had the freedom to do all those things.
3571 blog posts.
I have lived for five and a half years.
Lived and learned and grokked and loved.
I was not beaten, not locked away, not tortured, not forced to listen to propaganda. The worst I've had to deal with is some name-calling and sleepless nights.
I have never had my spirit broken.
Five and a half years.
Imagine if every blog post were wiped away and replaced by a day in captivity. Everything I have read and learned in this half decade gone, replaced by solitude and madness.
My husband came home from SERE with a newfound respect for John McCain and the men like him. My blog has taught me respect too, respect for the freedom I have had to live and share my life with you for so long.
I cannot imagine not having been here...
April 18, 2009
He's being spoiled rotten today, with walks and wet dog food, and he'll even get a birthday cake.
It's hard to believe the little sweet potato we picked out...
is now our favorite creature in the whole wide world...
Happy Birthday, Charlie!
April 17, 2009
When Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele asked to speak at the Chicago tea party, his request was politely refused by the organizers: "With regards to stage time, we respectfully must inform Chairman Steele that RNC officials are welcome to participate in the rally itself, but we prefer to limit stage time to those who are not elected officials, both in Government as well as political parties. This is an opportunity for Americans to speak, and elected officials to listen, not the other way around."
Wife Unit writes about the role of government too: And My Answer.
I sent the following message to Mare via email the other day:
I also think that there are many issues where things are not black and white for me. I flop back and forth on abortion, for example. I am always willing to have a good debate with people who believe forcefully one way or the other because I am really still not sure what I think. I try to remember WWLD, what would libertarians do? So I unsettledly accept that the government oughtn't tell us what to do with our bodies. And for me, that extends to prostitution and drugs as well. But then, on the flip side, I think people should be able to smoke in public and also eat trans-fats
So yeah, I can debate. But on certain issues -- gun rights and taxes come readily to mind -- I feel pretty strongly about my opinions. But in other realms, I am up for discussion. Like education...I can find common ground with you and CaliValleyGirl, and we could debate the nuts and bolts.
Like Wife Unit, I have views that align me with donkeys and elephants. But that's because I don't define my views on the social scale; I define them on the responsibility scale. Social issues shake out far differently when you judge them based on personal responsibility (vs what is or isn't in the Bible, or what is or isn't traditional).
Part of the answer to Sis B's original question as to why there's a chasm between what her conservative friends believe and the government we've had is because I think the whole system is creeping leftward. However, that doesn't mean what it sounds like: I don't think the complete picture has Republicans and Democrats as the poles, where you have to fall as one or the other, or somewhere in between. Instead, the system is more like this:
And the system keeps incrementally shifting leftward while we sit fixed and wonder how in the hell we've gotten to the point where we are budgeting $3.2 billion towards "New Orleans storm protection" and $15 billion for Pell grants.
What I think it really boils down to is Whittle's Theory of Political Reduction:
I contend that there is a single litmus that does indeed separate the nation and the world into two opposing camps, and that when you examine where people will fall on the countless issues that affect our society, this alone is the indicator that will tell you how they will respond.
The indicator is Responsibility.
To the right of the spectrum is less government involvement / more individual responsibility; to the left is more government involvement / more shared responsibility. That's the It Takes a Village mentality. That's Obama's "be your brother's keeper" idea. That's the side of the spectrum I want to stop creeping towards.
To come full circle, I completely respect people who are pro-life because they believe the baby is already a human being endowed with the inalienable right to life. I also completely respect people who believe that the government has no business telling people what they should do medically or with their own bodies (a point I can also understand when debating euthanasia). I have a hard time figuring out which right I find more valid, to be honest. I struggle to not be a hypocrite and to be consistent in my viewpoints. So what I cannot stand are, say, Democrats who think the government has no right to tell them they can't have an abortion with their own body, but every right to stop other people from smoking because the second-hand smoke might hurt their bodies. I find that remarkably inconsistent and frustrating. I also, personally, find it inconsistent to say that government should decree that only men and women should marry, but that government should butt out of everything else. And I really don't understand when some Democrats claim that they want less government meddling than I do, or that they are in fact the party of "government butting out."
But we are all inconsistent beings. I try very hard to be mindful of when my opinions are conflicting and be honest about the fact that I am still working things out. Trying to grok, if you will. And I self-pigeonhole as a Republican because, as I said before, I am trying to "take the word back." Plus, it's how I vote, because, while they are far from perfect, I believe they are closer to me on the responsibility / government meddling scale than Democrats are.
But like Wife Unit, I don't caricature easily, I don't think.
April 16, 2009
And when I wrote my graduation speech and made the joke about Deadheads, our principal read it and said, "Whaaat? The Grateful Dead is popular?" I remember immediately thinking that she was far too out of touch to be a good principal. One walk through our hallways or parking lot would've knocked her over with tie-dye and patchouli, but she was oblivious to a huge trend among her students.
I was reminded of this today when I heard ABC's statement that "The White House says the president is unaware of the tea parties and will hold his own event today."
Wow, seriously? He didn't even know that thousands of citizens were protesting yesterday? Not he didn't care or he didn't think it was significant (guh, neither OK in my book), but he didn't know?
Out of touch, dude. Out of touch.
I find such comfort in my cosmic insignificance.
April 15, 2009
(My compliments to Chuck; I totally stole his joke.)
April 14, 2009
April 13, 2009
(via Boxenhorn and Amritas, respectively)
My husband left this morning for a week of training (marksmanship camp...no fair!) and my mother leaves Wednesday. I will be back online like my normal self after that.
April 12, 2009
Any discussion of what I think the role of government is would have to include talk of rights. I believe we have inalienable rights to life, liberty, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, etc. Those are rights to be left alone. To not be meddled with. To live and let live. We need a system of government when our community gets too big to handle as an individual, but the role of government ought ideally to be to protect our right not to be meddled with.
My husband and I love watching the series Deadwood. You can see on this show the evolution of government: Jack McCall kills Wild Bill, and then, aw crap, now we have to have a trial instead of just stringing him up. And then maybe it would be a good idea to have a sheriff and so on. You see these people who moved West to be left alone now being forced to create a government of sorts as the community gets bigger. And they downright resent it. Seth and Saul wanted to move West to open a hardware store, so they bought land, erected a building, and started selling boots and pans. They didn't need a permit, they didn't need a building inspection, they didn't have to belong to a guild or pay union dues; they just set to work filling a need in the camp: hardware. Can you imagine what they'd think if they saw what has to be done to start a business today?
I'm not saying life was better in every way back then, but Deadwood illustrates the gradual relinquishing of complete individuality and the loaning, if you will, of some of your rights to an authority. People entrusted the sheriff with their right to life and their right to justice. In return, the sheriff mediated their disputes (most notably between Hostetler and Steve the Drunk. Which was enough to make you wish you didn't live under the rule of law, so you could choke that hooplehead Steve out and be done with it.)
I liked CaliValleyGirl's analogy of government as a home owner's association. We in the United States have entrusted our government with some of our rights. We are too big to defend ourselves individually, so we entrust them with our national defense. We needed a system of interstate roads, so we entrust our motorways to them. But I personally think that what we now entrust our government to do goes way beyond promoting the general welfare.
Broadly speaking, I think the difference between the left and right is that the left wants to entrust more things to the government. I think they see our country as one big family. In my family, I have a crappy little job where I make about $75 per week. My husband makes more than that in a day. But all our money goes into the same bank account, and I am allowed to spend whatever I think is prudent on clothes or yarn or books. My husband does not restrict my spending to only what I make, because we are a family and we love each other. And sometimes I think that the left sees our country as an extension of a family, where the person who makes $75 per week is entitled to the same equality of result as the person who makes $7500. I think that's illustrated by Lileks' Parable of the Stairs story about his tax refund:
I think the money should have gone straight to those people instead of trickling down. Those last two words were said with an edge.
But then I wouldnt have hired them, I said. I wouldnt have new steps. And they wouldnt have done anything to get the money.
Well, what did you do? she snapped.
What do you mean?
Why should the government have given you the money in the first place?
They didnt give it to me. They just took less of my money.
That was the last straw. Now she was angry. And the truth came out:
Well, why is it your money? I think it should be their money.
What I see is that James Lileks made that money and he should be able to use it to build stairs to improve his home. But this Democrat canvasser thought it should've all gone into the collective national bank account and then been doled out based on who needed it.
On the same note, after she wrote this post, CaliValleyGirl elaborated on the theme in an email. She wrote:
I mean, imagine you are walking down the street with my dad and you meet someone who asks you for money. And you say sure, and slip your hand into my fathers pocket, take his wallet, take out a $20, give it to the guy, and now you feel good, because you helped that person. But really, YOU didnt help that person.
This, to echo back to Sis B, is the left-wing mindset that I will never understand. Why should the stair money belong to all of us? Why should anyone be entitled to the fruits of Lileks' labor? And how do people justify taking money out of CaliValleyDad's pocket and giving it away to people who didn't earn it? (A question which, sadly, CaliValleyGirl never seemed to get an answer on.) The United States is not one big collective family with a shared bank account. It was never meant to be that. I don't know why we've drifted towards that; I find it maddening. I don't need to be Deadwood, but I don't want to be what we are right now.
I have heard Sean Hannity do man-on-the-street interviews with young people, asking them what people have the right to. Most of them quite readily agree that people have the right to shelter, food, education, transportation, and health care. I firmly believe that the government should grant none of those things as a right. In order for a penniless person to have any of those things, the government has to take Lileks' stair money and give it away. The role of government should be limited to enforcing the laws that protect our inalienable rights: the laws that prevent someone from coming into Lileks' house to steal his stair money, the laws that ensure that the contractor who builds the stairs will face justice if he doesn't fulfill his contract, and the laws that protect Lileks' right to defend his family should anyone step foot onto that staircase to do them harm. The government's role, in my opinion, has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not Lileks should get to have the stairs in the first place. If he earned the money for them, he gets them; he shouldn't have to relinquish his stair money so that other families can feed their kids or have a house.
Leonard Peikoff says it well in a speech I read back in 2000, a speech that resonated with me instantly and which obviously became a part of my knowing. I didn't realize how closely I'd echoed it nine years later in the beginning of this post until I googled it to quote here:
The term "rights," note, is a moral (not just a political) term; it tells us that a certain course of behavior is right, sanctioned, proper, a prerogative to be respected by others, not interfered with -- and that anyone who violates a man's rights is: wrong, morally wrong, unsanctioned, evil.
Now our only rights, the American viewpoint continues, are the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. That's all. According to the Founding Fathers, we are not born with a right to a trip to Disneyland, or a meal at Mcdonald's, or a kidney dialysis (nor with the 18th-century equivalent of these things). We have certain specific rights -- and only these.
Why only these? Observe that all legitimate rights have one thing in common: they are rights to action, not to rewards from other people. The American rights impose no obligations on other people, merely the negative obligation to leave you alone. The system guarantees you the chance to work for what you want -- not to be given it without effort by somebody else.
When I talk about Our Gulch, when I reference Fight or Flee, I am talking about my people. My tribe, as Whittle would say. And the people I want in my Gulch, they all have this same definition of rights. Most people I am friends with have this definition; most of the bloggers I read share it too. It seems to me that we are numerous. So to me, the interesting part of Sis B's question is this:
I think that part of what mystifies me about it is the vast chasm between what I hear regular conservatives saying they believe and the type of government that has been established under the guise of conservativism the past 8 years.
I am equally mystified by this. If everyone I know feels like I do about rights and the role of government, why don't we ever have a government that suits us?
I think the answer lies in compromise. My tribe was mad that Pres Bush was soft on immigration and that he signed the prescription drug plan. Many in my tribe were mad about the marriage amendment as well. I also remember vividly in 2004 when Bush won and said he was going to privatize Social Security. I couldn't believe my ears and was thrilled beyond belief. But it didn't pan out. The federal government is one whopping compromise where no one ends up happy with the result.
And it's not just Republicans who embody this chasm. Remember how Pres Clinton fficial&client=firefox-a">was "the best Republican president we've had in a while"? I am sure Obama supporters are mad that he hasn't completely pulled out of Iraq and that closing Gitmo is "complicated." It's the nature of politics that all presidents are going to govern from the center and end up ticking off their constituents.
Which is why I agree with Mrs du Toit and CaliValleyGirl that politics should be local, and that we ought to live in gulches. Another fundamental belief I have about the workings of government is that it should vary by locality. There should be very few federal laws; most things should be left up to the states, and then you could live in the state that you feel best represents your worldview. It would be far easier to get one of 50 states to suit you than it is to get the entire country to. People pay far too much attention to federal elections and lawmaking.
Towards the end, Sis B adds:
But when this election was done and the Republican party had its collective ass handed to it, my first thought was, "I hope that this allows the party to get back to the fundamentals of its beliefs and that they re-emerge in four or eight years with a strong, coherent platform." Seriously. I want the conservatives to get back to their roots and come back strong.
I don't see that happening.
I think I disagree with her. I think four years of President Obama will be plenty to make people in the center lurch rightward. And I hope we see a resurgence of conservative/libertarian principles on the national stage. I want Republicans to stop their pandering and quit trying to be Democrat Lite. I want to be the party of tough love. I want to be the party of individual responsibility. I want to vote for someone who denies the Democrats their premises. But, you'll remember, I was not a McCain supporter from the beginning. I supported Fred Thompson, who was far closer to my ideal politician than what I ended up having to vote for. Not perfect, but as close as it probably gets. (I don't imagine we could ever get away with President Z.)
So, at the risk of sounding like Forrest Gump, I guess that's all I have to say about that. Sis B has now asked her Democrat readers to explain their side. If you are interested in this exchange of ideas, keep your eyes on this post and the comments.
April 11, 2009
I thought of this recent Joanne Jacobs' post (via Amritas) while I was there. I was looking over the other science kits on display, and the one for the kids aged 8+ had a warning label: "This set contains chemicals that may be harmful if misused." On the back of the box was the list of contents: gelatin, sugar, baking yeast, and food coloring.
Now I freely admit that chemistry was my weakest subject in school, but I'm having a hard time figuring out a combination of those contents that could be harmful. Am I missing something? Or is this an example of warning labels gone wild?
It's a far cry from the 1950's kit with uranium and a geiger counter!
April 09, 2009
As we all know, when a veteran runs into a problem, we just pull out the gun we've hidden in our bible and start shooting.
I am still working on my answer to Sis B. I wrote for over an hour this morning, but I need to sit on it a little longer. I am not good at blog assignments: the longer it takes me, the less I like the result. But we'll see what I manage to come up with.
For what it's worth, I'd love to have Sis B write on the same topic: what the role of government is, what powers it should have, etc. Because I don't understand her side any better than she understands mine.
April 07, 2009
April 05, 2009
Also, I would like to say that I lurve my imaginary friends. I know that many of you disagree with me on several issues -- AirForceWife, Andi, CaliValleyGirl, Mare, etc have all let me know when they do -- but when we boil it down to the essentials, just the basic framework we work under, we are all so similar. And that's why we read each other: we know we have common ground, and the rest is just details. It's also why we seriously need a gulch.
Anyone want to try to answer Sis B's question?
I know I have a bunch of Republican readers and close friends, but for the life of me I cannot figure out what any of you think about actual issues. It's all hidden behind snark and namecalling and eye rolling and back patting and I seriously, honestly, to my core, want to know what you believe and why. I want to know what you think about how the government is supposed to work. What does a functioning government look like to you? Please, if you care to answer this question, do so without saying words like "libs" or "dems" or hippies, commies, fags, or any derivative thereof. I want to know what, if any, moral authority government should have. What is the government's purpose in relation to the economy? What powers should the government be allowed to have and what should be limited? What is your view of the constitution? What are your beliefs about ALL the amendments within the Bill of Rights, not just the second?
I think that part of what mystifies me about it is the vast chasm between what I hear regular conservatives saying they believe and the type of government that has been established under the guise of conservativism the past 8 years.
I am gonna take a stab at it when I get back home. It seems like a hard task to me, because I will not be able to grant any common ground. To answer this, I will have to start from the beginning and delineate all my premises. Because what's obvious to me is not obvious to a Democrat. Obviously.
On the other hand, it's easy. The government has the authority to do what the Constitution says and nothing more. End of story. (P.S. I completely freaked out a centrist Republican friend here in town in a discussion of education funding by saying that I don't even think there should be a Department of Education. If it's not in the Constitution, I don't want government doing it. That's why Republicans like me have been horrified by many of our own politicians. We see them as Democrat Lite instead of a true alternative.)
I will try to formulate my thoughts on the drive home. Husband, you start thinking too, because this will have to be a collaborative effort in order for it to be done right.
(And, keep in mind that my comments section is plain awful, so if you start a long comment here, for your sanity, please copy to the clipboard before you post it. Because nine times out of ten, it will disappear. I know this. I am working on moving and was going to do it right about the time I went crazy. I will get to it soon, I promise.)
April 03, 2009
April 02, 2009
April 01, 2009
You can live as free men, with all the rights and responsibilities and vicissitudes of fate that that entails. Or you can watch your society decay and die before your eyes as England, once the crucible of freedom, dies a little with every day.
And an awesome article about my favorite.
In unusually blunt language, Netanyahu said of the Iranian leadership, You dont want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran.
You know, every time I swoon over Netanyahu, I think about the funny exchange on South Park when Cartman tries to get the girls to scream and squeal over his new boy band:
CARTMAN: Let's go crazier than that! I mean, you have to act like it's freakin' Leonardo Di Caprio!
BEBE: We wouldn't give a rat's ass if Leonardo Di Caprio came walking past us.
THE OTHER GIRLS: Yeah.
CARTMAN: Fine! Who would you go crazy for?
THE GIRLS: ...Matt Lauer.
[Both via Boxenhorn]
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