The Consequences of Reckless Rhetoric
1 hour ago
Re: Obamacare and electoral politics; actually I think the 5% in the middle who now decide national elections are likely tired of all the health care yammering, and go blank whenever they hear the words "individual mandate" and "job creators." They are going to vote on their gut feelings about the two center-right candidates they are being offered, just as they did in 2008.
You can also forget about the specifics of Obamacare or any other national health care plan; being post-peak oil means we are also post-socialism, whatever your feelings are about the "S" word. Socialism was a response to a time when the sources of inequality were political, financial, cultural, hereditary, etc. It worked when there were fewer people and more resources to go around. Now that "wealth" is imaginary and fundamental resources are truly becoming limiting (and expectations in the western world are for a lifestyle that can not possibly be sustained), socialism no longer has the capability to level the playing field at an elevation that the masses would find acceptable. Socialism was a product of the growth phase of the industrial economy. It is in the process of being disassembled worldwide now, not expanded.
The time to institute a national health care system in the U.S. passed decades ago. We no longer have the surplus wealth (of the non-imaginary kind) for this sort of thing, no matter how you design or attempt to fund it. We'll be lucky to keep our existing (and highly popular) socialist programs afloat for another generation.
This has been a glorious week for the Supreme Court, as the majority brushes aside the rights of the states, the Constitution, and the rule of law. In the welter of revolutionary decisions, it is easy to overlook the six to three decision striking down the Stolen Valor Act.
The Act was a typical piece of American political silliness that allows politicians to pretend they are real patriots who care about our fighting girls and boys. Essentially, this federal law made it a crime to make false claims about receiving military medals and decorations. A California politician who told self-serving lies about his military service challenged his conviction on the grounds that he was being deprived of his free speech rights. The leftists on the court--led by the Republican justices Anthony Kennedy and John Roberts--agreed.
The three conservatives--Scalia, Thomas, and Alito--had little trouble shredding the argument. The dissenters are wasting their time. In the kingdom of lies, deceit is highest virtue. The Court has made it official: lying to deceive others is protected by law, particularly if the lies are crafted to serve the ambitions of politicians. Even the politicians who drafted the law must be somewhat gratified by the result.
Since the Congress can now command citizens to do anything the Congress wants, since America as a republic under a government of limited powers is now officially dead, therefore conservatism, which if it means anything means support for that republic of limited powers, is now also dead. For conservatives to continue to support the constitution means supporting a leftist government with unlimited powers. Therefore the only meaningful form that conservatism can now take is counterrevolution, which means: opposition to the lawless regime that America now is, and the declared intent to overthrow it. Any “conservatism” short of counterrevolution is simply subscription to, loyalty to, patriotism to, obedience to, a leftist unlimited state.
The U.S. Constitution has become and has been since 1865 a whore. The Constitution was ratified by the former colonial and freshly independent republics as an instrument to articulate a compact among them and to create for their mutual benefit an agent, namely the general government, framed and limited by the Constitution itself.
In 1865, two unions of constitutionally federated/confederated republics were destroyed: the Unite States of America and the Confederate States of America. In their place emerge an abstract corporation with a monopoly on coercion and with the ability to define the limits of its own power, animated by ideologues, bankers, stock jobbers and paper aristocracy. The union of which the Constitution was a handmaid was dead; she became the consort of the Hobbesian state. She has been pimped out to various factions and has been presented to the masses as a goddess to be worshiped in direct proportion to her ever waxing meaninglessness.
This fiat amending of the Constitution which Dr. Fleming cites is but the most recent assault on the hapless compact document, having been ripped from her principals and would-be protectors, the states.
It will continue, until like the Levites concubine in the Book of Judges, she lies utterly ravished and dead at the threshold, there perhaps to be dismembered and sent to the tribes, thereby inciting a war.
There are at least two definitions of religious liberty that come to mind. The first has to do with one’s ability, as a voluntary agent, to pursue unencumbered and freely the eternal truths that he or she deems most appropriate. Another concerns the license that one might be granted under law to pursue those truths even in the face of opposing religious convictions, held by other citizens or even by the state, itself.
The Supreme Court upheld a key part of Arizona's tough anti-illegal immigration law in a 5-3 decision on Monday that allows police officers to ask about immigration status during stops. That part of the law, which never went into effect because of court challenges, will now immediately be enforced in Arizona. Other parts of the law, including a provision that made it a state crime for illegal immigrants to seek work, will remain blocked, as the justices affirmed the federal government's supremacy over immigration policy.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court's swing vote, wrote the opinion, and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Conservative Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas partially dissented, saying the entire law should have been upheld.
At the heart of Dionne’s framing of American conservatism is a deep confusion about the meaning of community and communitarianism. Indeed, the distance between Nisbet’s and Dionne’s species of communitarianism is greater than that separating Dionne and his contemporary Republican targets—the label supplies a convenient cover to hide vast differences in meaning. Left communitarians envision communities organized by government and having as their moral justification the public crusade against private vices. At the heart of this vision of community is the protection of the individual from social forms of authority—family, church, or any number of local and face-to-face social networks—in order for individuals to stand as equal clients before the state. This liberated individual is educated by the state and toward the ideals of the state; is provided extensive protections through laws and bureaucratic regulations against any and all non-governmental institutions; and is supplied with economic and health protections by the state. The state as community becomes an expression of the will of the “people” and the individuals of this political community are supplied with the meaning of this public will through the therapeutic and coercive means of the state
If contemporary Progressives dismiss this characterization of their vision of community, it is worth noting how frequently they rhetorically conflate “society” and government and how much they think of government institutions as serving public purposes despite having no meaningful public (non-administrative) check on their function (public schools are the best example of this as government schools are responsible to state-level administrators rather than local citizens—the very people they presumably serve). Consider how often these Progressives speak of government (public) in terms of community values that private institutions threaten. For all Progressives, the attack on “individualism” is really an attack on economic systems that are insufficiently regulated or controlled on the belief that private individuals and institutions ought to be checked by public power in the service of the public good. For this species of communitarian, community really means public provision and public virtues should always be understood in contrast to private vices
Against this conception of community Robert Nisbet took his stand. Rather than the state being the remedy for individualism, Nisbet understood the state to be a major cause for that atomization of modern life. While many other forces have eroded the complex network of social institutions to which people had loyalty and in which they could develop their distinctiveness, since World War I the destruction of mediating institutions has been overwhelmingly a project of the state. The modern presumption of the ethical superiority of the state over society (as well as over more localized forms of government) has spurred a relentlessly more bureaucratic, more centralized, and a more legal-centric political community. Such a conception of community can only develop when the mediating institutions have been pulverized, leaving individuals separate and apart, equal and vulnerable. Political community is not the solution to individualism but the perverse expression of deracinated citizens
However much the rise of the political community in the West was the product of a monistic political vision that wished to transform all human relationships into equal, interchangeable, and legal or contractual relationships and sought to impose a socially just and equal distribution of goods and power on the public, the project of a political community must rest on public resources to satisfy the demands of the citizens. At some point in the development of a political community it must cease being essentially political and become administrative. An administrative state retains legitimacy only insofar as it has the economic resources to satisfy its citizens. Once the state has reached this stage it cannot easily tap into the patriotic sentiments of the people since they have largely separated from the institutions that supply them with the values, purposes, and higher goals that loyalty and patriotism produce. When disconnected from relationships that require small and regular duties and when people become undifferentiated individuals who stand equally before the administrative state, citizens turn into clients.