Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Does elite refuse to clear Obama eligibility doubts so as to exploit "affirmative action" resentment?
Last night I posted as the 'featured link' on this site a link to what purports to be a 2004 article, from the online archives of a Kenyan newspaper, about the withdrawal of Obama's original Republican opponent in the 2004 race for the U.S. Senate in Illinois. What is of interest for present purposes is that both the headline and body of the article refer to Obama as Kenyan born.
Given the sophisticated possibilities for fabrication in both the virtual and real world these days, it would be foolish to assume that by itself this 'proves' anything about Obama's birthplace. Even if the article is authentic, it would simply indicate that some people in Kenya thought (perhaps mistakenly) that he was born there. Kenyan newspaper stories from 2004 (online or otherwise) are no more definitive proof of Obama's birthplace than uninformative birth announcements in Hawaiian newspapers from 1961.
This episode simply illustrates the need for what I and many others have sought:
- a Constitutionally authoritative investigation of the facts;
- a similarly authoritative evaluation of its results;
- And, based on that evaluation, a Constitutionally authoritative judgment of law and fact as to whether Obama satisfies the Constitution's clear eligibility requirements for the Office of President of the United States.
I have received, or read here and there in online exchanges, comments from people critical of those (like my lawyer in the case before Judge Carter, Orly Taitz) who publicized purported birth certificates that have been declared fabricated or fraudulent by unofficial experts. These critics apparently miss the point. The Constitution of the United States is not "unofficially" the Supreme Law of the land. Obama does not "unofficially" claim to be President of the United States. But those who voted in the 2008 general election, whether they voted for or against him, had occasion to do so thanks to his oath or affirmation that he satisfies the Constitution's requirements. Such voters are actually being deprived of the substantive assurance that we have not "unofficially" (i.e., without due process of law) been deprived of the right and privilege of a Constitutionally valid choice at the ballot box. Without this assurance, the electoral process the Constitution establishes, and the scheme of representative (i.e., republican) government it is supposed to implement, will be permanently impaired by the suspicion of lying and fraud perpetrated at the highest possible levels of government.
The establishment of fact required for a credible, Constitutionally authoritative and substantive judgment cannot be supplied by unofficial evaluations of purported evidence, or casual internet discussions of the provisions of law that are relevant to a judgment based upon that evidence. Whatever may be the doubts with respect to any particular testimony or documentary claims, Obama's own actions have surely become the main source of the cloud of uncertainty and suspicion with respect to his Constitutional eligibility. As with any other job applicant, the issue of credentials once raised is rightly dealt with as a matter of course. Applicants who refuse to comply with requests that they produce their qualifying credentials foment doubts, by their own behavior, where doubts would otherwise not exist. Add to this the concerted and unaccountably scurrilous media dismissal of the common sense demand that the issue be authoritatively resolved, and it's not hard to explain the increasingly widespread presumption in the minds of many that something of important relevance to the Constitutional issue is being withheld from public scrutiny.
Seeking to blame and persecute those who are asking public officials to abide by their sworn duty to uphold the Constitution further aggravates the impression of malfeasance. Some continue to insist that this request indicates hostility to Obama. The real hostility (and perhaps even invidious discrimination) is shown by the unwillingness to accord him the same opportunity for resolution of all doubt that John McCain enjoyed. Do some of the power elite think they gain advantage, from perpetuating the impression that only fear of some adverse reaction based on race, rather than undisputed Constitutional authority, accounts for Obama's continued presence in the White House? Like the workplace whispers that resentfully ascribe advancement to "affirmative action", rather than proven qualifications and performance, the ongoing refusal to allow Constitutionally authoritative closure in this matter smacks of more ill will than the honest desire to clear the air of doubt.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
As I was working on what became the two most recent postings on this site I came across a Charles Krauthammer offering, Decline is a choice: The new liberalism and the end of American ascendancy. In it he offers a cogent critique of the Obama faction's calculated surrender of America's position of leadership in the world. He also suggests an opposing alternative which begins with the notion that we should "accept our role as hegemon" for the simple reason that "we are as benign a hegemon as the world has ever seen." "…resistance to decline," he declares "begins with moral self-confidence."
Mr. Krauthammer accurately summarizes the moral view that undergirds the Obama faction's determination to abdicate America's leadership position.
But the liberal internationalism of today is different. It is not center-left, but left-liberal. And the new left-liberal internationalism goes far beyond its earlier Clintonian incarnation in its distrust of and distaste for American dominance. For what might be called the New Liberalism, the renunciation of power is rooted not in the fear that we are essentially good but subject to the corruptions of power--the old Clintonian view--but rooted in the conviction that America is so intrinsically flawed, so inherently and congenitally sinful that it cannot be trusted with, and does not merit, the possession of overarching world power.
For the New Liberalism, it is not just that power corrupts. It is that America itself is corrupt--in the sense of being deeply flawed, and with the history to prove it. An imperfect union, the theme of Obama's famous Philadelphia race speech, has been carried to and amplified in his every major foreign-policy address, particularly those delivered on foreign soil. (Not surprisingly, since it earns greater applause over there.)
And because we remain so imperfect a nation, we are in no position to dictate our professed values to others around the world. Demonstrators are shot in the streets of Tehran seeking nothing but freedom, but our president holds his tongue because, he says openly, of our own alleged transgressions towards Iran (presumably involvement in the 1953 coup). Our shortcomings are so grave, and our offenses both domestic and international so serious, that we lack the moral ground on which to justify hegemony.
He then proceeds to give an excellent summary of the policies― dangerous and perhaps even fatal to American survival― that arise from Obama's self-righteous degradation of America's moral standing. But while proposing that the reassertion of moral self-confidence is the first step toward correcting these destructive policies, Mr. Krauthammer offers no account of the alternative understanding of America's actions and history that provides the basis for it. He does not address the obvious questions. What moral understanding produced what he describes as America's benign "hegemony"? What morality therefore provides a reasonable basis for the reassertion of moral self-confidence?
In the absence of such an account, Mr. Krauthammer's prescription risks being mistaken for nothing more than a proposal that we cling to American ascendancy for its own sake. Perhaps he believes (understandably so, given the real peril involved) that the mere fact that the alternative is so dangerous makes further moral reasoning superfluous. We may seem to be like the ancient Athenians, whose almost inadvertent establishment of an empire in the wake of the Persian Wars appeared to bring them to a point where they faced an inescapable choice: embrace their imperial vocation or see their way of life destroyed.
Sadly, Thucydides' sobering depiction of Athens' tragic fate in The Peloponnesian War suggests that this was a false appearance that resulted from the failure of statesmanship that in the natural course of things afflicted the Athenians, as it now unnaturally afflicts the United States. The policy consonant with the way of life Pericles so eloquently epitomizes in his famous funeral oration precisely eschewed the ambition of empire, even while acknowledging and relying upon the strength Athens derived from its commerce with the cities that had come together under her leadership to forestall the threat from Persia's perennial imperialism. Thucydides relates that after Pericles' death, shortsighted panderers for power misled the Athenians into "allowing private ambitions and private interests…to lead them into projects unjust both to themselves and to their allies―projects whose success would only conduce to the honor and advantage of private persons, and whose failures entailed certain disaster on the country…"
It has always been tempting to look for parallels between the situation of ancient Athens and that of the United States during the twentieth century. Ironically, that temptation may in part account for the susceptibility of America's educated elite to the Obama faction's sordid view of America's actions in the decades since the Second World War. (A view largely parroted by some who supposedly stand at the opposite end of the political spectrum, as I mentioned in the article The USA- a special nation with special responsibilities.)
But the United States is not Athens. Its moral understanding differs from that of the ancient polity precisely with respect to the fact that greatness and the prideful sense of honor that results from it do not essentially define or shape the American character. This difference is eminently clear when we compare Pericles' funeral oration with the archetypal American oration for soldiers who met death in battle. Lincoln's Gettysburg address deals not with the habits or achievements of the American people, but with their common allegiance to certain principles of right. The nobility of their war dead does not shine in the light of merely national pride. It rises in light of God's goodwill toward creation, and the lustrous hope of all humanity for liberty, dignity and justice.
It does potentially fatal injustice to this nobility to use the benignity of American "hegemony" as moral cover for a reassertion of American leadership based on little more than an expedient hunger for preeminence. To attempt to restore America's moral confidence by discarding (or is it benignly neglecting?) the morality that justifies it is a project that can only reproduce in foreign and national security policy the fruitless futility and ultimate failure characteristic of the barren, 'hollow Republican' betrayal of our political process and institutions.
After WWII America did in fact show a degree of restraint in the use of its preeminent position of power in the world that is without precedent in human history. The use of unaccustomed power inevitably entails some abuses, just as people who grow into great physical strength or stature sometimes hurt others before they "know their own strength." But had America behaved as every other preeminent power in history behaved, we would not today be living in a world filled with nations robust and confidently independent enough to applaud and ruthlessly exploit Obama's dangerous policies of national derogation and appeasement. Japan would not only have endured the awful experience of the first demonstration of nuclear war making power, it would still languish in subjection because of it; so too would others who only witnessed it, like Germany and even the the countries that once made up the Soviet Union. A whole host of nations, including most of those in the Middle East who now are willing incubators of the terrorist threat against us, would never have tasted anything but perpetual colonial subjection and oppression.
Mr. Krauthammer inadvertently discredits this historically unique American repudiation of power enforced global supremacy with the use of terms like "hegemon" and "hegemony" which imply a Caesar-like dismissal of what is actually coveted and enjoyed. (He even tacitly assumes moral equivalency by using the term "co-hegemon" to refer to the U.S. post-war position in relation to the Soviet Union.) Whatever may have been, and may now be, the arrogant caesarism of America's power elites, most of the good and decent Americans, from all walks and stations of life, laid to rest near now quiet battlefields of wartime sacrifice and courage did not thirst for power, or glory or fame. They simply did their moral duty. Whether they lived or died they did so longing for no possession but the safety of their own home and life and liberty, and to restore to humanity a decent share of hope that all might in peace enjoy the same.
America did not rise to world leadership in the twentieth century because the American people thirsted for domination and preeminence. Neither will we strive to hold on to leadership for such reasons, no matter how often Mr. Krauthammer or others obliquely flatter us with good assurances of what a good master we proved to be. Real American common sense acknowledges the simple truth that people who genuinely reject being slaves to others reject with equal fervor the claim to be their masters. Human nature is as much degraded by the one as the other.
Mr. Krauthammer is right, though, about the benign intention that distinguished and ought still to distinguish America's leadership among nations. But by neglecting to recount the connection between that intention and the self-evident truths from which it arose, he is led to neglect the wise symmetry of the self-evident truths that make this distinction possible. We assert liberty on the basis of moral ideas that constrain power within the confines of justice. It was no accident that in our use of supreme power, we were mindful of that constraint. Being all too human, we were and are from time to time misled, as were the ancients, by people serving only their own power, wealth and pride. But time and again, we withdrew our confidence from such people, sometimes even when expediency would have said it was not wise to do so. I have no doubt that Mr. Krauthammer and others like him are sincerely seeking to oppose the unwisdom of just such a withdrawal from our special responsibility for 'the last best hope' of earth. But there can be no success for such opposition until the false hope of surrender and abdication again faces the true hope grounded in the faithful commitment that defines our identity both as Americans and as human beings. It is not a willful commitment to maintain the hollow ascendancy of power, but rather a reverent determination to keep faith with the principles of liberty, and with the will of the Creator God whose justice makes us free.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
[This is the follow-on to my previous post and must be read in context with it.]
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without color,
Paralyzed force, gesture without motion;
T. S. Eliot, The Hollow Men
The failure to articulate the connection between moral concerns and limited government has allowed the emergence of a sham approach to moral issues. On issues like abortion or the defense of the God-ordained natural family, leaders give lip-service or take isolated stands while actually implementing policies that preferentially employ and promote the spirit killing use of government power as the way to deal with our economic and social challenges. This is how the Huckabee/Palin fold (of the three-fold Republican political scenario discussed in my previous post) manifests the deficiency of substantive logic that so often makes the Bush league's version of a Republican conservative such a 'hollow man (or woman, as the case may be)'.
Education is the area where this deficiency becomes most apparent. The "No Child Left behind" policies of the Bush years were predicated on the development and use of centralized government power and control as the motivating engine for improvements in the standards and quality of American education. Bush policies also worked comfortably with an understanding of education as primarily aimed at workforce preparation. They did little to challenge the leftist, NEA strategy of abusing education to impose a globalist ('world citizen', i.e., citizen as the subject/worker in the global economy) as opposed to American ('sovereign citizen', i.e., the citizen as a member of the sovereign body of the people) identity on our children. Mike Huckabee "called No Child Left Behind "the greatest education reform effort by the federal government in my lifetime," (Washington Times 03/01/05)". Sarah Palin has superficially criticized its implementation. Her approach to education has generally emphasized funding, teacher salaries and workforce preparation, (typical NEA compatible boilerplate). She allows for school choice and teaching about creation in schools, but has apparently never coherently thought through and articulated the understanding that connects them with the essential goal of preparing young Americans for their historically unique participation as sovereign citizens in the constitutional processes of deliberation and choice that are supposed to govern their nation.
For true conservatives this aspect of education isn't just one issue among many because it is a key prerequisite for the survival of liberty. The Constitutional oath required of all our government officials obliges them first and foremost to preserve Constitutional government (the republican form of government- of, by and for the people- required by Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution.). Except we make preparation for citizenship the core and guiding concept of education in our society, this form of government must fail. But the assertion and sustenance of citizen sovereignty depends on respect for the basic moral understanding that undergirds the just requirement that government be based on the consent of the governed. As summarized in the Declaration of Independence, this moral understanding holds that human beings are created equal, their nature endowed with God-ordained unalienable rights. Though simply stated, the reasoning involved in this moral understanding must be shared with each new generation so that they can act with reasonable conviction as to its truth. Their education must therefore introduce them to the facts that account for its emergence in human history. And it must prepare them to follow and appreciate the thinking that reveals its intellectual and spiritual roots.
These education tasks rely on a reference to the Author of all creation as the ultimate source for the authority of the people. Yet the politicians of our time have surrendered control of education for many of our children to a government run system, that by incompetence or design they permit to be constrained by a doctrine that excludes all reference to God and His creation from the curriculum. The forces that promote this doctrine go beyond the exclusion of God's authority. They take measures that can only be intended to shame and intimidate students raised to reverence God's authority in their homes. Though often portrayed as if this is just hostility to "religion" it is in fact hostility toward the ideas of justice and liberty that are the basis for our institutions of constitutional self-government. If, from generation to generation, the American people surrender the warrant of sovereignty they derive from the divine Ruler of all possible worlds, they must inevitably expose themselves to the logic that has, throughout human history, subjected people in this world to the arbitrary rule of elite human masters deriving their warrant from the successful impositions of fear, force and falsehood.
Of course the power hungry elites in our time claim to derive their warrant for mastery from 'scientific truth'. But when people pretend that modern science offers any proven knowledge about the substance and premises of moral truth, their claim has no more basis than any other superstition. It is the logic of human experience, not scientific experiment that must decide the truth of moral ideas. That logic takes account of facts the instruments of science cannot perceive or measure, like the sense of inner worth that sparks the heart of every human being to cherish the love our nature beckons us to show toward one another, even when it sears our pride or other selfish interest. Such are the self-evident truths on which the American founders based the human claim to liberty. Republican leaders from the Palin/Huckabee fold seek the support and vote of those whose faith and natural wisdom lead them to hold fast to these truths. Whether through insincerity or incompetence, however, these leaders have shown no ability or even inclination to represent and articulate the reasoning that approves this wisdom and justifies this faith. Meanwhile, efforts to do what they can or will not do have been starved, stifled and systematically driven from the most visible platforms of public discussion and debate.
This failure of reasonable articulation tacitly cedes the high ground of moral discussion to those who assault the premises of liberty. It feeds and almost guarantees the outcome we have seen from the Bush era of Republican leadership. You can't beat something with nothing. Though confronted only by the straw man of socialist materialism and false compassion, the hollow men of contemporary Republican 'conservatism' lose because they will not fight, and because they fight for nothing even when they win. Who still deludes themselves that another empty victory won by such an empty leadership will restore the strength of the American people, and renew their faith in the better human destiny their liberty is supposed to illustrate to all mankind? The tragedy is, however, that except they are stirred by such renewal, there will be no victory of freedom, even a hollow one. And like the elderly exiled from care by the elitists' banal scheme for health care savings, this once free people will be pushed by falsehood and hollow betrayal, gently whimpering with inarticulate regret, into the long, dark night of tyranny come again. Have we become people with souls so dead we can still believe this is the lesser evil?
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow…
T. S. Eliot, The Hollow Men
Saturday, October 10, 2009
I recently read a newsmax.com article (California Becomes Fiscal Basket Case) summarizing California's fiscal woes that included an observation from USC professor Kevin Starr that "California is on the verge of becoming the first failed state in America."
Recounting the history of California's current woes, the article notes that "Had California lived within the limitation imposed under the 1979 Gann Amendment, which limited the growth of spending to the rate of economic growth, some analysts say the state would be in a far better fiscal situation today. But former Gov. George Deukmejian allowed exemptions to budget items, such as education, before leaving office in 1991, which began the state's current fiscal trend." With this permission from a Governor wearing the label that supposedly represents fiscal discipline, "California' spending increased 180.9 percent between 1991 and 2001, and the state budget ballooned from $51.4 billion in 1991 to $144.5 billion during the past fiscal year, according to the Reason foundation."
In recent months California pols have belatedly and desperately tried to medicate the state's economic ills with a dose of spending restraint. "Under the budget deal Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Democratic-controlled Legislature cut this summer to close California's $26.3 billion dollar budget deficit, billions were slashed from the education budget, and 60,000 state employees were slated to be sacked."
Asked about all this, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, chimed in with the silver lining: "The one thing that comes out of this is that California can be an example of what not to do for the rest of the country." Sadly I wonder if Mr. Norquist would include in his list of things to be avoided, the election of a pro-abortion, pro-gay "rights" governor touting the Republican brand name, who wooed support from conservatives with half-hearted promises to implement fiscally responsible spending policies.
Like a lot of principled conservatives around the country, I supported then California state Sen. Tom McClintock, not Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the special election to replace Gov. Gray Davis back in Oct. 2003. At the time, McClintock combined proven and experienced fiscal conservatism with an equally proven commitment to carry out the moral understanding that demands respect for God-ordained natural rights (including first of all the unalienable right to life) and the prerogatives of the God-ordained natural family. On the other hand, somewhat successful comedic actor Arnold Schwarzenegger (his other movies delivered action, not acting) combined a proven record in the profession of physical narcissism with an equally proven commitment to Hollywood's profoundly superficial but politically correct ethical code, which combines the profitable stupefaction of sex and violence with occasional bouts of self-congratulatory altruism.
The circumstances of the 2003 special election eerily foreshadow what may be the national political situation in 2012. A Republican's (Deukmejian) surrender of conservative principle unleashes a Democrat imposed era of unsustainable growth in the size and expense and outstanding debts of government. The inevitable shortcomings of this era offer Republicans an opportunity to reclaim political leadership. Will they choose an alternative that offers proven fiscal conservatism combined with moral principle (McClintock) or the half-hearted promise of fiscal conservatism combined with moral surrender (Schwarzenegger)?
Right after the general election last year Donald Kent Douglas offered an excellent analysis of electoral realities which suggest that when it comes to a truly conservative political choice Grover Norquist is exactly right: California provides a good example of what not to do. In his article Douglas points to "a useful three-fold scenario" offered by "political scientist Marvin King in the Clarion-Ledger. He thinks the Republicans might focus on a 'Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee' path to power; they might seek a path in a 'Grover Norquist/Club for Growth' agenda; or they might seek a route that 'goes west' - that is, a moves in the direction of Arnold Schwarzenegger." In the electoral analysis that follows, Douglas rightly rejects the Schwarzenegger model. But he limits his analysis to political facts (which groups of voters might vote for which of the alternatives). He therefore neglects to consider whether any of these three alternatives has a substantive logic true and persuasive enough to shape voters' convictions. To produce a political result that will actually restore the integrity and strength of American liberty, Americans need to rediscover the deeply reasonable convictions that were the foundation for the integrity and strength of American liberty. Without this restoration of freedom's creed, the 2012 election will just decide which bunch of self-serving politicos presides over its final interment.
Each of the three alternatives falls short of what is needed, and for the same reason. The logic is missing. The Grover Norquist/Club for growth "fold" most perfectly represents this deficiency. They rightly champion fiscal restraint, low taxes and in general the idea of limited government that has been the key to implementing the constitutional sovereignty of the people. But while pretending to deal with the practical requirements of successful limited government, they neglect a simple, very practical truth often reiterated by those who framed, and then argued for, the adoption of the U.S. Constitution: There can logically be "no limitation of a power destined to effect a purpose which is itself incapable of limitation." (Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #31)
James Madison later (Federalist 51) alludes to the general purpose of all government when he first asks "But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?" and then observes "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary." Government owes its existence to a purpose imposed by the human tendency toward behavior that selfishly violates right and justice. Without restraint, this tendency leads to perpetual conflict and disorder. Given this purpose, unrestrained human viciousness implies unlimited government power.
But restraint may be internal or external. Madison alludes to angels as the archetype of perfect internal restraint. That presumably puts devils at the opposite extreme, with human beings somewhere in between. If as Madison suggests, angels require no government then devils require the maximum application of government's restraining power. But if Hamilton is right, this means that limited government makes no sense when dealing with devils. It is only necessary and appropriate when dealing with human beings. Humans have a tendency to behave like devils, but oftentimes have the will and desire to behave like angels as well. (Rather like the bad boys and girls who go off to Hollywood. There they play at being destructive, self-indulgent devils, all the while longing to be the angelic saviors of the world.)
The difference between men and angels is not that angels are good and men are not. It is that angels are perfectly good, while men can only strive to be. For human beings, perfection (whether of good or evil) is always a work in progress; a question of acting according to a model or standard of perfection, rather than fully attaining that standard. (The wisdom of Christ suggests this duality. We strive to be perfect even as our heavenly Father is perfect. But we pray as those who always miss the mark (sin) and must beg the Lord's forgiveness.) Limited government depends on the extent to which people, in their overall behavior, approximate the standard without having to be constrained by government force. The more they act out their unruly passions, the more untenable limited government becomes.
What is it that keeps some people who profess to be proponents of limited government from accepting this simple, practical fact? Their alliance with those who seek to defend the God ordained standards of right conduct should not be a matter of electoral calculation. It is a natural and logical necessity. Someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger cannot be a consistent champion of limited government (and therefore of conservative fiscal policies) because his acceptance of 'political correct' moral anarchy contradicts the practical prerequisite of limited government. The more people lie, cheat steal and kill, the more pervasive and heavy handed the police powers of government must become. The more people seek sexual pleasures without regard to the responsibilities of procreation (childbearing and rearing) the more intrusive the caretaker role of government must become. The more people seek and indulge in stupefying pleasures (drugs, sex and rock n' roll) the more government dictation (in health care as well as other economic sectors) must compensate for their indolent, selfish and counter-productive habits (like sloth and overeating for example.)
It is a self-evident and self-defeating sham to champion limited government, feign moral indifference, then give real support to moral licentiousness and collapse. Inevitably, the rhetoric of limited government must surrender to insistent and ever increasing demands for government action, until the possibility of just government is swallowed up in a maelstrom of economic/social bankruptcy and confusion. As part of the United States California may for a time postpone the worst effects of the maelstrom. But like Gov. Deukmejian, President G.W. Bush abandoned conservative principles, pushing the bank bailout that opened the door to Obama's debt financed spending frenzy. So the U.S. now stands at the edge of a national version of California's ills. Electing a national version of Schwarzenegger's deadly 'moderation' will no more allay the coming storm in the U.S. than it did in California. Tragically for all of us, the storm probably portends the reemergence of age old tyranny, albeit armed with new technology for repression. This the Obama faction eagerly prepares to impose.
Does the proffered Palin/Huckabee fold of the "three-fold scenario" promise a really different result? I'll be thinking about that in my next posting.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I just received a call from Orly Taitz, my attorney in the case seeking proof of Obama's eligibility for the Office of President of the United States. Judge Carter has release a statement declaring that the dates he set for the hearing and trial on the eligibility issue are confirmed, and it will move forward as scheduled. Apparently he was not swayed by the Obama lawyer's arguments.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
"Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint." (Proverbs 29:18)
"…abandonment of strategic vision leads to policy decisions that damage the national security of the country." (The USA- a special nation with special responsibilities)
The headline at newsmax.com says "Obama Moves to Muzzle Top Military Commanders." The words call to mind the passage in the Plato's Republic where Socrates compares the warriors who keep watch over the city to guard dogs. The image of America's armed forces as guard dogs wearing muzzles can only give comfort to our enemies.
"The Administration's primary target: top Afghanistan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal, whose speech in London last week apparently caught administration officials off guard….In his speech McChrystal defended his request for 40.000 more soldiers to wage a counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan, warning "a strategy that does not leave Afghanistan in a stable position is probably a shortsighted strategy….McChrystal said the vice-president's proposal to scale back the objectives for the war would lead to "chaos-istan."
Shallow pundits focus attention on Obama's failure to win Chicago the Olympic committee's nod as the location of the 2016 Olympic Games. Meanwhile, here's evidence that he's losing something far more crucial to the survival of the nation- the respect of the U.S. military. In the position he presently claims, he is supposed to represent civilian control of the military on behalf of the American people. Failure to do so competently raises the specter of chaos far closer to home than Afghanistan, as the United States enters the jungle of military disgust with civilian authority that has swallowed the governments and constitutions of many a "banana republic" in our neighborhood to the south.
So far, we can be thankful that U.S. military personnel do not treat their oath to uphold the Constitution with the same contempt Obama exemplifies. His casual disregard for its requirements begins with withholding the best evidence that he meets the Constitution's eligibility requirements for the office he claims, and includes, just for starters, the exercise of executive power through so-called "czars" intended to circumvent Congressional oversight; efforts to usurp control of the decennial census in order to subvert the independence of the legislative branch; the abuse of public monies for openly partisan political pay-offs; unconstitutional disregard for the property rights of individuals and private enterprises; and disregard for the rights of conscience medical workers derive from the first amendment.
But his abandonment of the Constitution goes well beyond mere disregard of its provisions. He has abandoned as well the vision of liberty, founded upon respect for unalienable human rights, in light of which its provisions were made. Its correspondence with the requirements of just government casts the anchor of allegiance to the Constitution in the deep waters of the American heart, assuring a loyalty that transcends the vicissitudes of personalities and power politics. Respect for this anchoring vision has been a hallmark of the honorable tradition of Constitutional loyalty that has distinguished the U.S. military's service to the American people.
In exchange for this allegiance to the vision of justice that undergirds America's freedom, civilian leaders of the U.S. government owe it to our military personnel to accept their proffered dedication and sacrifice in the context of a strategic vision based on the goal of securing liberty that our military personnel have in common with the whole people they serve. When the U.S. took military action in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, there could be little doubt that this was the strategic context. Terrorism substitutes a de facto regime of violence and fear for legitimate government based on the consent of the governed. Those who attacked the U.S. acted with the support of an infrastructure of terrorist groups and states whose concerted actions posed a comprehensive challenge to the American way of life, and in particular the lives and sovereign liberty of the American people. That comprehensive challenge required and justified a comprehensive response to restore and defend the national security of the United States. The military action in Afghanistan was one element of that response.
Obama has explicitly abandoned the concept of strategic action against terrorism (the so-called war on terrorism.) Pursuant to this change, he has curtailed U.S. efforts to attack and weaken the infrastructure of terror, including signals of dead-lined U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, the cessation of extraordinary pressure against terrorist cadre (signaled by the closure of the Guantanamo detention facility) and the possible pursuit of vindictive prosecutions against U.S. intelligence personnel directly responsible for implementing that extraordinary pressure.
Yet despite the collapse of the strategic vision that alone could make sense of it, Obama emphasized the intention to continue U.S. military action in Afghanistan. Isolated from any connection with the comprehensive goal of forestalling successful terrorist assaults against the territory or people of the United States, this intention has no justification except a vague and open ended commitment to "nation-building."
As a side benefit of actions that serve and strengthen the security of the United States, efforts to stabilize strategically relevant countries, and help their people develop and maintain just institutions of government can make sense. But military action sustained for the sole purpose of such nation-building serves neither the security of American liberty, nor the development of constitutional government elsewhere. The assertion of a people's liberty must sometimes be defended by the sword, but military force can never be the source or mainstay of that assertion. Government by force and government based upon consent are self-evidently in contradiction.
It is also self-defeating to remove pressure from the regional and even global infrastructure that supports our enemy so that he may freely concentrate all his resources on defeating our forces on the one front that remains open. This actually creates conditions ideally suited to achieve his victory, and substantially raise the death toll among our troops along the way, especially if our rear areas remain vulnerable to his assaults. (Given Obama's intensified neglect of America's border security, this vulnerability has been heightened rather than reduced by his abandonment of the strategic concept of the war on terrorism.) By design or incompetence Obama appears to be intent on creating a quagmire in which to dissipate America's military strength and resources. Most Americans have no objection to seeing their loved ones in the military risk and give their lives to fulfill the oaths that preserve the liberty of our people. It is deeply wrong to ask that they do so when the strategy that makes moral and military sense of their sacrifice has been cast side.
Finally it makes no sense to articulate an understanding of our global position that discredits the motives of our military actions, apologizes for the defense of our interests and friends and generally undermines confidence in our good faith, our good intentions and our moral capacity to sustain the difficulties involved in the course we undertake.
At best, Obama's actions smack of egregious incompetence. At worst, they foster the suspicion that he regards the ultimate goal the Constitution sets for the U.S. government―to "secure the blessing of liberty"― with the same contempt he has shown for its provisions regarding the prerequisites for the office he purports to occupy by its authority. If this is not the case, why has he abandoned the strategy that reflects the simple truth that a de facto regime of global terror and our national regime of liberty cannot peacefully coexist?
Monday, October 5, 2009
[Once in a while an exchange of comments occurs in response to one of my posts that is so instructive that I believe it should be shared with everyone. Such is the following exchange arising in response to my last post, The saving grace of the republican imperative. )If you have not read it, I suggest doing so before you continue.) I hope this will encourage readers to click more often on the comments button; to leave their own, or just read what's in progress. It's often worth the time.]
Dr. Keyes, you are apparently making an accusation...but I fail to see the substance or even the sense of it.
My point (and I did not see any others being made), was that you appear to disparage the one tactic for restoring a moral consensus and legal system in opposition to abortion which has any hope of being successful, which also happens to be the one most in line with the particular wording and intent of the Constitution.
If, as you seem to imply, there is some definite agenda expressed on the part of the Pauls to fix the 'peculiar institution' of abortion as an inviolable states' right for all time, I would appreciate it if you would address such statements. As I mentioned earlier, I don't have enough interest in the Pauls to follow their statements in any great detail.
On the other hand, if they have made no such statements of nefarious intent to use the mantra of states' rights to perpetuate the practice of abortion against all attempts to restrict it, then I don't see how their choice of the Constitutional strategy to remove control over abortion law from the province of the national government should be counted as support of abortion.
I once mentioned that even the hopeless battles must be contested sharply. I do not believe this implies that one must deliberately fight all one's battles on the worst possible ground. A hopeless battle is only worth fighting when the alternative is not fighting at all, when the alternative is an advantageous battle, one must wonder at the decision to fix one's standard in ground that cannot be defended.
Especially as I simply do not see the guiding principle that would give such a decision 'moral' merit. Restricting the power of the national government to purely Federal issues (as the Constitution provides) would seem to be the more 'principled' way to address this issue, as well as being more likely to provide success.
If you were to answer the following questions I might better understand your position.
Do you really believe that reversing Roe v. Wade would not be a substantial victory for pro-life activists?
Have those who express a desire to precisely reverse the Roe v. Wade decision made explicit statements that they foresee such a reversal being a fundamental victory for pro-abortion activists?
Is there some essential flaw in the design of the Federal system described in the Constitution, such that it should be considered unacceptable to leave the states with any significant role in making laws?
I would not ordinarily think to ask you these questions, but this last post leaves me in considerable doubt as to what your answers to them could possibly be.
Alan Keyes said:
The Pauls take the position that the states may abrogate their responsibility to secure the unalienable right to life of posterity. Along with McCain, Sarah Palin, etc. they have repeatedly said that laws permitting abortion are legitimate at the state level.
But the goal of republican government is to secure unalienable rights. This is not optional. It is a positive obligation of justice.
If a state abrogates responsibility for the security of the right to life (by declaring open season on posterity via so called abortion rights) it departs from the substance of republican government. The Constitution mandates that the Federal government guarantee adherence to the republican form of government. It is therefore constitutionally obliged to act to remedy the state's breach of republicanism.
This by no means implies taking away the state's right to make laws. Rather it enforces the state's obligation to make provision in the law for the security of unalienable rights, in this case the right to life.
By the way, on account of the constitutional requirement that all persons be accorded equal protection of the laws, the selective abrogation of the state's responsibility for the security of the unalienable rights of nascent posterity is not only a substantive formal dereliction of republican government, it is also a violation of a specific constitutional provision. (By the way, the Pauls, McCain, etc. do not hold to the view that nascent human offspring are not persons. They allow that they are persons, but claim that states can legitimately confer a right to kill them anyway. In this respect, their contradiction of republican constitutional justice is more egregious than is the case with those who hold that nascent posterity are not human beings.)
I am disinclined to put too much moral weight on the issue of legitimacy of laws. It is nothing more than which laws will actually be treated as law, when you get right down to it. In that sense, it is nothing more than a pragmatic judgment. And in just this sense, those who say that the states have the more legitimate authority to make such legislation have a very strong case.
If we are to hope for a reversal of Roe v. Wade by persuasion of the electorate rather than overthrow of democracy, then stating the principle of that reversal in terms of preserving the guarantee of self-government is prudent. In order for it to be moral, such statements should represent a real willingness to let the issue of abortion be settled by state laws. This in no way implies a abdication of the moral responsibility to advocate good laws, only to keep that fight at the level of the state legislatures.
I have mentioned before that a complete ban on abortion is unenforcible. While I'm willing to withhold the explicit details which would turn that argument into a de facto instruction in how to perform one, I will not let the point slide. Legitimacy of abortion laws may be a matter of pragmatism, but in the case of a law that can so easily be circumvented, it is not unimportant.
To put it very bluntly, where abortion is not regarded as wrong in and of itself, laws restricting it are likely to be ineffective. They will not be obeyed, and are likely to be difficult to enforce as well. A commitment to pursuing such laws through the democratic process at the state level implies persuasion of the majority in each state that abortion is wrong and should be eliminated by law. This persuasive process is precisely what is needed to actually eliminate (rather than unenforceably outlaw) abortion.
A declaration of absolute commitment to achieve some objective which rejects the methods by which it has any possibility of actually being achieved is...not prudent. If one understands that one is undermining the potential for success, then such a statement would be downright deceptive. Fortunately for my opinion of your honor (though it perhaps is something you wish to mend), you do have a notable tendency to lose sight of political realities in your pursuit of ideals.
To argue that the states have the authority to regulate abortion through their democratically elected legislatures is to imply that they may decline to do so. I'm afraid that one cannot disparage this reality of limited government...where an explicit law cannot be enacted through the legislative process, the law is silent. I favor limited government for a number of reasons, not least because it provides for laws to be explicit and regular rather than corresponding only to the whim of those in power. Regardless of whether or not it serves any given social or political end at some moment, limited government is one of the chief principles of the Constitution (and the Declaration of Independence, where--if you'll recall--the whimsical and arbitrary nature of the King's rule was the essential focus of most of the complaints).
In my life-time, there have been a number of different state laws which denied my right to exist or live because of my racial or religious background. I do not hold that any of these laws were good laws, but it never occurred to me that there was any point in disputing the authority of the various states to make them. The point was to fight to get them reversed (a fight in which I never had much interest, to be honest). States may make bad laws, or fail to make good laws. But if you have any love of the principles of limited government then you have to grant someone the authority to make laws, and the Constitution grants the authority over all but a few laws to the states.
Alan Keyes said:
The question of legitimacy is not a "pragmatic" issue unless one assumes that there is no standard of right and wrong apart from human will and imposition. The doctrine of unalienable rights invokes a higher standard, a higher law, the will of the Creator God. Human actions and legislation that contravene the Creator's provision for human nature are unlawful.
The people of the United States, and of each state respectively, base their claim to be the ultimate arbiters of authority for law and government on this provision. When, through their representatives, they make laws they cannot contradict the provisions of the higher law without vitiating their right to govern themselves.
If, without regard to the provisions made for human nature by the Creator, we accept as lawful whatever the people decides to be such, there would then be no difference between constitutional government and the arbitrary rule of despots and tyrants. However, the Constitution does not establish or sanction a tyranny of any kind, including tyranny of the majority.
To be sure, some Americans now wish to overthrow constitutional government, and to replace it with a socialist tyranny claiming to act on behalf of the people. They deny the existence of God, of any higher law and of any standard for human affairs except "history" (i.e., what happens determines what's right.) Put simply, this returns us to a world in which might makes right and success justifies everything.
The majority of Americans don't want to live in such a world. Since our tactical aim is to build a majority, the right tactical goal is to make sure people realize that whether or not we live in such a world is what is really at stake in all our present discussions. Because this is most directly clear when dealing with respect for unalienable rights (like the right to life,) emphasizing this aspect of every issue is the most salient and effective way of achieving the tactical goal.
By the way, the moral consensus we seek to achieve is not just about abortion, it is about justice and liberty. Making clear the unlawfulness of abortion serves and must be seen in the context of this overall purpose. Reducing abortions without restoring respect for God's provision of justice for humanity does not achieve the purpose, though all too many people presently regarded as pro-life leaders mistakenly think that it does.)
The precise point of disagreement is whether directly reversing the national government's arrogation of the authority to decide the legality of abortion would 'vitiate' the principles on which America is based.
My argument (I don't know the details of the Pauls' position) is that the several states, while not individually necessarily any better stewards of this authority, are collectively better because they face competition and work under Federal limitations rather than acting as totally sovereign governments. Whether or not this argument is persuasive, you have advanced nothing in opposition to the argument itself.
I have no vested interest in holding this position, given that I believe that the Federal government is irreversibly delegitimized. I am perfectly willing to be persuaded...but you must make an argument that I can follow from premises I accept.
Alan Keyes said:
Where respect for the republican form of government is concerned, the Constitution clearly states that the U.S. government has responsibility for guaranteeing that it is maintained. This is a positive Constitutional duty. If a state respects the premises of republican government, no U.S. government action is needed. But if it departs from that respect (as it does with legislation that violates the unalienable right to life, for instance) the U.S. government has a Constitutional duty and obligation to act.
Those of us who work under the banner of the Constitution cannot treat its terms as optional. According to those terms, the states must adhere to the republican form of government.
Finally, though we act at a time when strong forces are working to abuse the power of the U.S. government, it has not been "irreversibly delegitimized". Its legitimacy depends on proper respect for Constitutional limits and duties, and will be restored along with that respect. Such is the aim of the work I and others are doing.
See, the leap you make between "Republican form of Government" and "advocating direct reversal of Roe v. Wade is pro-abortion" is the place you're losing me.
I realize you're connecting them. I just don't see the logic of that connection. Maybe you need to go through it a little slower or something.
For myself, I think the word "form" is in there for a reason. The Founding Fathers may well have realized that it would simply not be possible for the Federal government to actually guarantee that each state would be an ideal Republic. So they might have meant "Republican form of Government" quite literally, since it is easier to enforce forms than ideals. Just thinking...they paid a lot of attention to what might actually be possible in their design for the United States.
I believe in miracles. My existence cannot otherwise be explained, after all. And yet...I also believe in prudence. I don't actually practice it, but I do believe in it.
Alan Keyes said:
In matters of perception the word "form" refers to an object's distinctive appearance in perception. Our sense of its meaning must obviously take account of the faculties through which perception takes place. Reference to the 'form' of a tree calls to mind something different than referring to the 'form' of a piece of music, or of a dancer in action.
The 'form' of government is rather more like the dancer, in that it cannot be perceived except in action. Unlike the dancer, however, its 'body' appears mainly as an object of intellectual rather than material perception. Its form thus corresponds to a certain body of ideas (understood as a logically coherent arrangement of premises and conclusions to be carried into action.) In this respect it is more like the dance than the dancer, in that its form at any given moment is determined by choreography, which exists prior to action as an object of intellectual judgment and perception, an object of thought.
As an object of thought the republican form of government is a body of ideas that starts from the basic premise that "all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights". Just as a ballet dancer must respect the rules that govern the body's carriage during movement (appropriate flexure of the feet, rectitude of the spine, correct alignment of the shoulders, neck and head, etc.) a republican government must respect this basic premise (and its consequences) in all its arrangements and actions. If and when it departs from it (as legislation violating the unalienable right to life does) it is no longer maintaining the republican (i.e., just and legitimate) form of government.
I believe this clarifies the connection between ending "legalized" abortion and maintaining the republican form of government. The latter involves implementing a certain understanding of justice, so that its 'form' and its 'substance' (from the Latin sub stare, meaning to stand under) are inseparable.
The American founders had nothing but contempt for the idea of letting the U.S. Constitution become an arrangement of insubstantial "parchment provisions." A constitution is justice in action. That's why the oath of all government officials in the U.S. (including officials at the state level) binds them to carry it out (respect it in their actions.)