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Archive for December, 2010

…the results are not always pretty.

Yesterday, I posted on the inanities expressed by some of the inhabitants of fantasyland on the anniversary of John Lennon’s death.  An internet sparing partner took significant umbrage with my post and follow-up remarks.  In fact, he was so offended by it that he composed a post today taking me to task for my opposition in the lamebrained wishcasting set forth in the song “Imagine”.

You can read his psuedo-scold at his place, but since he seems to think that the song embodies aspirations that are noble and admirable, I thought it best to explain to him why it isn’t so.   Like many on the Left, Rutherford would like to believe that his feelings take priority over reality.  I’m sure that he would disagree with me, but the problem with a worldview where the default is to one’s feelings first, and the brainbox a distant second, if it is that high on the list, is that the result is a handicap where the sufferer loses the ability to process information in a way that helps him to really understand what he is trying to process.  Hence the thought that seeing the filthy hippie’s ode as anything other than the expression of high-minded ideals we should all aspire to is to somehow reject optimism, and be guilty of the murder of an entire culture’s imagination.  But let’s examine what Lennon was saying, shall we?

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

 The only way a person thinks that this would be a wonderful state of affairs is if they never think of what that means.

Whether atheists and agnostics want to believe it or not, what normally keeps humanity’s baser impulses in check is a belief in the divine, and the thought of an eternity in which one is rewarded according to their behavior here when still shuffling about in a mortal coil.  If you remove that governor on human behavior, you will have chaos.  If you want what someone else has, what would stop you from taking it?  The Law?  In such a world, the law is only a set of rules created by someone else.  It isn’t something to be obeyed or feared.  And when people believe that when they die, that’s it, well then you get people who “live for today”.  The problem is that living for today is that it is often synonymous with bad decisions.  You don’t pay for that meal.  You charge someone double.  You ignore rules you don’t like.   You borrow money you can never repay to buy things that make you feel good.  You don’t pull out.  The strong prey on the weak, and there is no recourse.

Our world isn’t perfect.  Governments and individuals do things we don’t like.  Sometimes there comes a reckoning that we witness.  Sometimes the reckoning is one we never see, but without law, and the moral authority derived from a belief in the divine, we have the jungle.  A place that is arbitrary, capricious, savage, and without hope for anything better.   Rutherford thinks this is to be admired; I know it is to be reviled and avoided.

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for

Why would this be a good thing?  First of all, are we not constantly preached to about the acceptance of those who are not like us?  And often with the expectation that we hold these others and their own beliefs to be equal to or better than ourselves and what we believe in?  Seriously, where are the champions of diversity when this little ditty is playing?  Nodding their head in time to the notes from the piano, of course, because they never look for the consequences, only their feelings.

Then there is also the matter of the fact that some of us are quite attached to our countries, thankyouverymuch.  I may be mad as hell about the perversions, deceptions, and lies that the Left have inflicted on my country and my government for the last 100 years, but I still would choose to be an American everyday of the week and twice on Sunday, because it was this country that recognized that rights come from GOD and not men, and not governments.  Because it was this country that enshrined the ideal of the individual rather than a collective that exists to serve government. It isn’t always perfect, and as with any endeavor that relies on the participation of man, bad things have happened and been done in the name of freedom.   Some are known, some remain unknown, and even more remain unrecognized, despite being perpetrated in broad daylight, but as long as we remain free to believe in the divine, the eternal, and the justice that is its to give, we can continually strive to meet the highest ideals expressed in our charter.   That is worth killing for.  That is worth dying for.

And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

Having done this dance with Rutherford for over a year now, I can certainly see why he thinks this would be marvelous.   Our prior conversations have developed the picture of a man who believes that one can share basic moral convictions with a society without them being informed by a religion.  To an extent, I will concede that this is true, but if he believes that a society without a common religion or a history of once having a common religion is going to share a set of common ideals of what is “good”, or that it would find the idea of living in peace to be a good and noble goal is naive, and no matter how much he wants to believe that parents can inculcate a knowledge of “right and wrong” or “good and evil” without having their own ideals informed, even subconsciously, by the shared moral beliefs of the society in which they live (i.e. by religion) is doubly naive. 

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

I can imagine how its been tried before.  Its had so many names…socialism, marxism, communism, and yet the result has always been the same.  A system that denies the dignity of the individual, that links a person’s worth to their value to the state, a system where invariably, despite all the flowery talk of equality, some end up being more equal than others…not because of their own abilities, and not because of equal opportunities, but because of their ability to capitalize and exploit the contributions of others.   Think about the dreaded “group projects” inflicted upon each of us at some point in our educational careers.  Now “imagine” that those who are sponging off of your contributions and the those of others actually making the effort also have the ability to commandeer the results for themselves and have you imprisoned or killed if you dare speak up about it, and you pretty much have it nailed.  A potent combination of mediocrity, mendacity, misery, slavery, and death.   This is why the song is regarded by many to be an ode to communism (no, Rutherford, that was not solely my conclusion) and they would be correct.

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Join this nightmare?  Not on your life.  The only one who could make it work, and not exhibit every manner of repression and depravity in so doing is the one who will one day return to do just that.  He is the only King whose claim has never been illegitimate, and until that happens, I am not surrendering my identity, my labor, and my soul to a collective.

Rutherford, however, cannot see past the perimeter of his feelings long enough to consider that those who chose not to guild the lily with empty optimism are not without hope, or a belief in something better, as he sips the bitter distillation of the death of his own optimism, and his casting about in search of others to blame for it:

BiW was back in the mode of so many conservatives who scoffed at Barack Obama’s Hope and Change rhetoric of the 2008 campaign. To believe the world could be a better place made you “perpetually naive”. 

To be fair, there was plenty to scoff at.  The glittering generalities and self-aggrandizing rhetoric would have seemed ridiculous tumbling from the lips of anyone else.  The difference between me and my friends, and Rutherford and the rest of his friends chanting “Yes We Can!”  and drooling over the crease of his pants, and how Presidential he looked was that we recognized it right away…largely because we did not default immediately to emotion, and succumb to wanting to believe more than wanting to understand.  As a result, he wants to believe that we have no hope for something better.  I find that ironic.  As a conservative, I believe in this country, and I believe in the abilities of the American people.  I don’t believe in a government that tells me that I can’t.  I can’t succeed without its help.  I can’t be content without it deciding what is fair.  I can’t think for myself; it must do it for me.   I can’t fail; it must protect me from consequences of my choices and actions.  Rutherford, like many on the Left fear having the right to decide their own destiny.  That’s what underlies the current movement of collective salvation.  And placing your hopes in a vain and shallow man whose principle pastime was shameless self-promotion and preaching the gospel of collective salvation, which, strangely enough, empowers him and others like him was putting it in the wrong place.   We are not without hope, and a belief in things better; we simply knew it was not to be found where you were looking, and now you know too. 

The song is flawed because it describes a world that cannot be because it goes against human nature. But isn’t that what aspiration is all about? Aren’t we here to resist the baser parts of our nature? Aren’t we here to change the world for the better? Aren’t we here to share in the world’s riches?

Share in the world’s riches?  No.  As the bylaws state:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

That does not mean “share in the world’s riches”, and unlike some in Congress who would continue to give such things away in exchange for dependence and allegiance with insanity like the DREAM Act, I understand this.  But then I also understand that making a better world doesn’t include simply giving those blessings away domestically, either.  General welfare is not promoted by giving food, clothing, and shelter away to those who are not interested in earning it, and I am not interested in giving those things to them.  If they want to earn them, and they need help, that’s different.  Help is first and foremost showing them they can do it themselves, and making them do it.  That spares them the shackles of dependency and the ingratitude of entitlement, and it spares the rest of us from slavery in having to fulfill that ever-growing sense of entitlement.  That’s a win-win.  That is paying it forward.  That is making society grow, rather than fragmenting it, and that will ultimately make the world a better place.

Rather than the ode to a utopia that isn’t, I much prefer the wisdom of this song:

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On my drive home tonight, the local talk show host, David Boze, was talking about John Lennon’s death, and the horrible annual spectacle in which the aging hippies and the perpetually naive lionize the dead musician.

He was dissecting “Imagine” and pointing out that it describes a world that cannot be because it goes against human nature, and pointed out that not everyone wants to give up their possessions and personal liberties, and that if they tried to make the more reluctant among us give those things up, they would indeed have something to fight and die for.

Many of the callers expressed the sentiment that the song is crap and it makes them grit their teeth. For my part, it generally makes me want to find a hippie to punch…at least until I think about hippie splatter on my fist. But the winner for “dumbest comment of the evening” was the tool who was totally in favor of the song, and then said “You righties don’t get it. You say you’re waiting for Jesus to return, but then you keep killing him…first with Ghandi, then with Lennon.”

The urge to punch a hippie came roaring back with a vengence…

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The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought. – Emma Goldman

Having already been raised by parents, I am increasingly resentful of a government that continues to substitute its judgment for my own, justifies its temerity in doing so by deigning to tell me it is for my own good, and then charging me exorbitantly for it.  And it happens at all levels of government, from the overreaching leviathan in the District of Columbia, to the irresponsible spendthrifts in Olympia, to the bold petty tyrants here in my own county.

What’s that?  I’m being ridiculous?  I don’t think so.  Let’s start with this example from the Tacoma News Tribune:

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department this morning released a press statement saying that El Gaucho Tacoma has agreed to a permanent injunction that bans smoking in its facility.

Agreed to?  More like got tired spending the money to try to be able to enforce their property rights.
 

“We see this as an important step for the health of Washington State residents, most of whom don’t smoke, and who overwhelmingly voted to approve Washington’s Smoking in Public Places Act,” stated Anthony Chen, department director. 

I see this as an abuse of power, of the kind that bureaucrats in county public health systems, and other local agencies and bureaus love to engage in…for our own good, of course.

 
Earlier this year the department sued to close the smoking lounge, which had recently opened after renovations that owner Paul Mackay said he believed satisfied restrictions in the state’s 2005 non-smoking law.

A smoking lounge.  Not a lounge where they simply permitted smoking.  A lounge designed specifically for smoking.  [While this squib doesn’t have all the details, the lounge was completely separate from the rest of the restaurant, had state-of-the-art ventilation systems, and even a separate entrance.]  This wasn’t about a restaurant that some whiney non-smokers could not frequent because of owners who couldn’t manage to offer a non-smoking alternative, because the restaurant is non-smoking, and as I said, separate from the smoking lounge. 

“When the owners failed to comply with several requests, and a letter of compliance from the Health Department, they were served with an injunction to stop allowing smoking in the lounge. On April 23, 2010 a Pierce County Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction against El Gaucho Tacoma and the VIP Lounge,” the department said.

To translate from the power-grubbing bureaucratese “This uppity property owner had the nerve to try to allow patrons to engage in a legal activity in a way that would not disturb those who frequented his establishment, but did not smoke, but he didn’t come, hat in hand, to ask our permission first, and that had to be dealt with.”

I would have liked to see Mackay do an end run and open a private club in the location occupied by the smoking lounge…the kind where anyone can be issued a membership card at the door for a nominal fee.  A private club is not a public place, and therefore the county health department nannycrats can get bent.  But knowing how one little birdie can make a phone call to another little birdie, and the next thing you know, converting the liquor license from a restaurant to a private club can end up being fraught with all sorts of …difficulties, especially with things like the approvals from the local authorities.  I imagine that this was the better business decision for Mr. Mackay.

As for the over-reaching in Olympia, I have the following agenda items in Governor Gregoire’s State of the State address from this past January:

“For all of us who are called to public service, now is the time for leadership. Now is the most important time to serve,” Gregoire said. “For as difficult and challenging as the decisions that lie ahead of us will be, now is the time to be decisive, and now is the time for compassion. It’s the time to make a real difference for people. It’s the time to truly shape the future of Washington state.”

———————————————————————————

*High-quality health care: Gregoire asked the Legislature to consider restoring funding for the state’s Basic Health Plan, hospice services and maternity care for at-risk mothers.

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“The December budget I presented was balanced, and it certainly sets new, and admittedly untenable, policy directions,” Gregoire said. “But the balanced budget also would force us to abandon the values that define this state — fairness and compassion. It would be unjust, unwise and unfair to abandon our friends and neighbors when they need us most.”

Now, leadership is not continuing to fund entitlements when you are having trouble doing the things that you’re actually supposed to be doing.  Since this speech, our budget hole in this state has increased more than $5 Billion.  The response was to issue a whole lot of new taxes in a down economy, so Nanny Government could continue to make decisions for and offer entitlements to its dependents, rather than focusing on the things that really are its job:  law enforcement, funding schools, fixing the roads, and other basic government functions.  And when she starts whining about not meeting “basic Washington values” because I’m not reducing the quality of health care I provide for my family because they aren’t compelling me to pay for it for someone else, it takes all that I have not to start shouting “THERE IS NO FAIRNESS IN TAKING WHAT I WORK FOR IN ORDER TO PROVIDE FOR MYSELF AND MY FAMILY SO YOU CAN GIVE IT TO SOMEONE ELSE!  MAKING PEOPLE DEPENDENT UPON GOVERNMENT IS NOT “COMPASSIONATE”!  QUIT CONFUSING YOUR ABILITY TO BUY VOTES WITH MY MONEY WITH BEING “COMPASSIONATE’!!!”

When some of the new taxes the legislature tried to impose to continue being generous with my earnings ended up on the initiative ballots in November, and going down in flames, it was like Christmas came early.  The problem is, the politicians in this state continually have a problem understanding that when the voters say “No!” to their taxes, we really mean it.  Just ask anyone in Pierce, King, or Snohomish county about their thirty dollar license tabs for their car.  My last one only cost me $120, because I get to “give” generously to subsidize public transit that no one rides.  However, I am very pleased that there are bus drivers who make in excess of $100,000.00 a year when I have the equivalent of a masters and a doctorate in a real discipline, and make less.  To borrow a line from our Dear President, these employees of ours should be thanking me.  Especially when they can expect raises this year, even though I haven’t seen one in a few years now.  It is rumored that the governor will recall the legislature to a special session, which, if it like the prior special sessions, means that the Democrats will leave Republicans out of the meetings, decide that they cannot possibly make any cuts to entitlements, and instead, will pass legislation that will raise taxes instead.  I think you can probably make book on it.

And then there is the Federal Government’s assumption of authority it does not have, by which it substitutes its judgment for your own.  Case in point?  FCC Commissioner Michael Copps:

“I think American media has a bad case of substance abuse right now. We are not producing the body of news and information that democracy needs to conduct its civic dialogue. We aren’t producing as much news as we did 5 years, 10 years, 15 years ago. We have to reverse that trend or I think we are going to be pretty close to be denying our citizens the essential news and information that they need to have in order to make intelligent decisions about the future direction of their country.”

Not to press a point too finely, but who the Hell appointed him to judge the quality of the news being reported?  No, really.  Last I looked, the federal government didn’t have a “Ministry of Information” to decide what is, and what is not news, or even good reporting.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s our job, and I don’t recall any ceremonies where the American people formally surrendered this right to some stinkfaced bureaucrat who doesn’t like what he hears on CNN or FOX.  In fact, since the retirement of the so-called Fairness Doctrine back when we still had more than a handful of sensible people in the government, I thought that the whole point was to let the people decide with their viewership, their listening, and what news outlets they chose to spend their money on.  That is why the Old Grey Lady is in the tank; once people had a chance to decide for themselves, the outlets that only told the stories they wanted you to read/hear/see, and in the manner that they wanted you to ingest simply could no longer compete.  The approved lies, mischaracterizations, and spin were no longer palatable.  And yet this kaikocracy is intent on squelching any message it doesn’t approve of.  That is why The Chicago Messiah™ and his flunkies, toadies, and watercarriers are constantly contributing to the ambient noise level with their insistence that FOX is “bad for the republic”.

“Nowadays, when stations are so often owned by mega companies and absentee owners hundreds or even thousands of miles away — frequently by private equity firms totally unschooled in public interest media — we no longer ask licensees to take the public pulse. Diversity of programming suffers, minorities are ignored, and local self-expression becomes the exception.”

Diversity?  The opinion of a few numb-skulled Supreme Court Justices aside, the federal government, or any government  for that matter, has absolutely no interest, compelling or otherwise, in diversity.  Diversity did not enrich the lives of the people of the Balkans.  It did not make their lives better.  It did not provide a rich society, and preserve basic human dignities and rights of its citizens.  Instead, it brought strife, war, death, misery, and chaos.

“Diversity” as it is currently embraced by too many in government, is destructive to society.  It substitutes identity for merit.  It purposely divides, and keeps divided the people of a nation.   It doesn’t reward and encourage exceptionalism for its own sake (and the blessings to society as a whole that come from such a strategy).  It discourages a national identity, character, and vision, and fosters tribalism and territorial battles in culture, the allocation of resources, and in the defining of goals.  Its final end will be devolution in to discord and violence, rather than achievement and excellence.

Last I looked, local self-expression wasn’t really an issue.  Public television has local outlets, many of which carry locally produced and broadcast programs.  Radio stations report local news, and many carry locally produced programs.  Cable television has public access shows.  And the internet makes anyone with something to say and the ability to find any of several free blog hosts, a one-person publisher.

Let’s not kid ourselves.  Increasingly, we are met in all walks of life by government in all its varied forms that refuses to remain within the strict confines we have set forth for it.  Its appetite for control is rapacious, and unquenchable.  We yield every day, in venues where the government simply has no business being in our business.  Mandates to ban incandescent lightbulbs.  Telling business owners that they cannot cater exclusively to smoking patrons.  Refusing to stop buying votes from its dependents with our money, and ignoring us when we tell them that they cannot have more of what we earn.  Forcing societal schemes upon us that will not, and by their very nature, cannot benefit society.  Fiats that turn social values on their heads by unelected jurists and bureaucrats, when the people have very clearly refused such measures sought to be undertaken by elected officials, and the craven collaboration between the cowardly elected officials and the unelected functionaries who in the absence of any mechanism of accountability to “We the People”, eagerly dictate to us that which we have already refused…for our own good, of course.

What I’d like to know is if I, at age 39, 21 years free of the authority of my parents, and having earned a high school diploma, a B.A., a J.D., and an LL.M., and having been a parent myself for over 11 years still haven’t earned the right, and am not smart enough to make my own decisions, what makes those busybody bureaucrats, many of them the same age or younger, and some less educated, empowered and intelligent enough to make them for me?

ENOUGH.

It’s time to push back.  Hard. 

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