July 16, 2009
June 11, 2009
Imagine that you enter a big-city taxicab and the moment you get settled in, the driver begins a harangue about the supposed inequities and inferiorities of another ethnic group. Is your best course to keep quiet, bearing in mind that silence conveys assent? Or is it your moral responsibility to argue with him, to express outrage, even to leave the cab -- because you know that every silent assent will encourage him next time, and every vigorous dissent will cause him next time to think twice?
Sagan ends this section with "Figuring out a prudent balance takes wisdom." I just don't know what to think anymore. On the one hand, I think that some people will never see what I see, no matter how articulately I might lay it out, and it's not worth my sanity to try to beat them over the head with Truth. On the other hand, people are going to be voting next month based on bullcrap like this email forward on the draft, and unless we make a serious effort to counter the media and the junk science, we run the risk of losing President Bush.
And I'm starting to wonder if maybe I oughtn't dip my toe into impolite waters. If maybe I should start speaking my mind in public on occasion. Because five years hence, I still feel as frustrated and impotent as I used to. I still walk away incensed and wishing I had spoken truth to premise.
Yesterday I heard two separate diatribes against The Rich. They were offhanded things, premise things, deemed uncontroversial by their speakers. Both assumed that their listeners would chime in and agree that the world is economically unfair and somehow the scales need to be righted. I never chimed in with anything, just tried to ignore both interlocutors and change the subject quickly. But looking back, I wish I'd replied.
No, as a point of fact, I do not believe that, since we are all created equal by God, it is a travesty that most of the world's wealth is held by so few. Nor do I believe that our current economic crisis was solely caused by greedy CEOs. I also don't believe that your boss should have to give up his Mercedes because you think he doesn't do as much work as you do. Nor am I horrified at the thought of someone making a "three-digit salary" (It was obvious from context that this person meant "six-digit," which leads me to conclude that, really, you might want to rethink your argument that you deserve more money than your boss.)
Absent actual evidence, I am not inclined to automatically assert that The Rich don't deserve their money. I will not side with you in thinking that life is unfair and you know how to fix it. I do not share your delusion that you are a better arbiter of how much money people should make than the free market is.
I think next time I might cautiously speak out and see how that feels, because I remain dissatisfied with my long-standing policy of avoiding controversy and thus having to suffer through others' treatises on How The World Should Work.
What I really ought to start doing is following Sean Hannity's lead and wide-eyedly asking, "So what you're basically saying is 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need' then?"
And point out that you, with your fancy cell phone and comfortable house, better watch out you don't reap what you sow, because I am sure there is someone else in town who thinks you don't deserve your five-digit salary. Those who fall middle-class should tread lightly on the class envy issue, for they have more riches than the majority of the people on this planet.
I will update the first time I speak truth to premise. Gulp.
June 03, 2009
The hard-money monologue of Randâ€™s copper king, Francisco dâ€™Anconia, used to sound weird. Who even thought about gold in the early 1990s? Now, Dâ€™Anconiaâ€™s lecture on the unreliable dollar sounds like it could have been scripted by Zhou Xiaochuan, or some other furious Chinese central banker:
â€œPaper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed
by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is
a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not
theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when
it bounces, marked, â€˜Account overdrawn.â€™â€
June 02, 2009
June 01, 2009
FBI Agent: Do you regret anything that you did today?
No. But then again, I don't work for the FBI.
Agent: I don't understand...
You took an oath, you made a promise to uphold the law. When you cross that line, it always starts off with a small step. Before you know it, you're running as fast as you can in the wrong direction, just to justify why you started in the first place. These laws were written by much smarter men than me, and in the end, I know that these laws have to be more important than the fifteen people on the bus. I know that's right, in my mind, I know that's right. But I just don't think my heart could ever have lived with that. I guess the only advice I can give you is: try and make choices you can live with.
I think that's a pretty good discussion of the gray area in the interrogation debate.
May 30, 2009
Today's must-read on granting the premise from Cassandra:
Staying on Message: Conservatives Should Play Offense, not Defense
(via WifeUnit, who leaned over to me and said I should read this. I love that I have an in-person hat tip!)
May 20, 2009
May 19, 2009
My response to that is that no one from our friend group supported honor killings or jihad or shariah.
Look, you all know me by now. You know that I am not really a person who "celebrates diversity." I married someone whose only difference from me is that he likes to sleep. I want to live in a gulch surrounded by people who all think exactly like I do. I don't know if that's an appropriate worldview, but that's who I am. I celebrate homogeny.
But these friends of mine, these other kids who helped make me who I am, they were Americans. Sure, they had a different religion than most of us and they did funny things like fast during Ramadan or not eat beef, but they weren't fundamentally different in value systems than the rest of us. Their families were in the US because they wanted to live under the freedoms and opportunities that the US had to offer, not because they were trying to subvert the system from within.
In short, I don't lump old-school American Muslims in with the ominous groups portrayed in that video.
You don't have to be a WASP to be part of my tribe. But we do have to have common ground: tolerance, respect for the Constitution and institutions of the United States, and an ability to live and let live. Those are decidedly not mainstream beliefs in the communities from whence Muslim immigrants are flooding Europe.
My goal is not to outbreed American Muslims. My husband and I are close friends with two Muslim families that are perfectly lovely, normal, non-terrorist people. My kids could play with their kids any day. And my hope is that their kids will also act as a counterbalance to the extreme Islamofascists' progeny. I consider their kids as part of our American birthrate, not the scary Muslim one depicted in the video.
My goal is to fill our gulch with more like-minded people, to pass on a love for our unique country and all she stands for, and to raise children who can recognize the fundamental difference between the cool brown-skinned kids in their class and the scary enemy.
May 17, 2009
And now that even more time has passed, and we're looking at pain and money coming into the equation, I feel even less motivation. My husband says it's his job to force the issue and make it happen, because I keep changing my mind. He says doing IVF is my own personal deployment of sorts: no one truly wants to deploy, but they do it because it's the right thing to do and it's part of who they are and their value system.
This morning I found a video via Up North Mommy that stopped my waffling.
It reminded me of a major reason why I wanted to procreate in the first place: to create more humans with my value system. To make more Americans. I don't know how it sounds when I say things like that, but I mean it from the depth of everything I believe in. I'm not just being xenophobic or anti-Muslim; it's the loss of my own culture that motivates me. I'd like for there to be more people in this world like my husband and me, more people for my tribe, more people for our gulch.
And I'm now ready to spend $12,000 to make it happen.
May 16, 2009
I believe that could be true. I think Republicans lose because they try to out-Democrat their opponents. I think a real, true conservative who stayed on point and principle, who didn't try to beat Democrats at their own game and instead stopped granting them their premises, would take the nation by storm.
John McCain lost fairly narrowly, and do you know anyone who really wanted him as our candidate?
May 10, 2009
A family came into the store this morning: a father and four pre-teens, probably ranging from age 10-15. They were there to buy a memorial bouquet to put at their mother's grave.
I barely managed to keep the tears in.
My life is good.
May 07, 2009
And when we combine this with the fact that Obama is extremely popular according to opinion polls, with 73 percent saying that he "cares about people like me," meaning that three quarters of Americans feel that this manifest anti-American president represents people like them, I frankly find it hard to get a handle on the situation.I too am overwhelmed by the events unfolding in our country. And I agree with the further comments at that Auster post and the Tea Party guests on last week's Glenn Beck show that our country has gone so far off the tracks that a McCain presidency would've only been incrementally less bad.
I'm frankly battered by the idea that there seem to be so many regular Americans out there who think like I do and want the kind of country I want...and none of them are in Washington.
And all that keeps running through my head is "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another"...
I'm with John Wall: I'm ready for a divorce.
April 30, 2009
I thought of this line from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance while reading the post The End of the Debate. Great line:
No one would need to repeatedly remind others that the debate is over if it truly were.
April 28, 2009
Via David Boxenhorn
April 17, 2009
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
I find such comfort in my cosmic insignificance.
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:
Â“I think the money should have gone straight to those people instead of trickling down.Â” Those last two words were said with an edge.
Â“But then I wouldnÂ’t have hired them,Â” I said. Â“I wouldnÂ’t have new steps. And they wouldnÂ’t have done anything to get the money.Â”
Â“Well, what did you do?Â” she snapped.
Â“What do you mean?Â”
Â“Why should the government have given you the money in the first place?Â”
Â“They didnÂ’t give it to me. They just took less of my money.Â”
That was the last straw. Now she was angry. And the truth came out:
Â“Well, why is it your money? I think it should be their money.Â”
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 fatherÂ’s 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 didnÂ’t 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 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.)
March 05, 2009
I would rather have an intelligent, open discussion with you where you lay out your philosophy and policies and I lay out mine -- and we can question each other, in a real debate. Any time here at the EIB Network studios. If you're too busy partying or flying around giving speeches and so forth, then send Vice President Biden. I'm sure he would be very capable of articulating your vision for America -- and if he won't work, send Geithner, and we can talk about the tax code. And if that won't work, go get Bob Rubin. I don't care. Send whoever you want if you can't make it. You don't need to be leaking stories to Politico like this thing that's published today. You don't need to have your allies writing op-eds and all the rest. If you can win at this, then come here and beat me at my own game, and get rid of me once and for all, and show all the people of America that I am wrong.
Rush would crush Obama to smithereens.
In other challenge news, Greg Mankiw tells Paul Krugman to put his money where his mouth is.
How big of a dork does it make me to say that I would pay real money to see these two smackdowns go down?
It's like a blogger nerd's SuperBowl.
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