Why ‘progressivism’ is regressive

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, President Calvin Coolidge provided a keystone speech.  He was known as a man of few words,* but the occasion of our nation’s birthday inspired him to pay homage to those who had gone before.  The entire address is worth your time, but this excerpt in particular speaks to today:

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter.

If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.  

Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.     ((Emphasis added)) 

For most of human history, despots and absolute rulers held life-and-death sway over their people, who had little control over their own lives.  When America is referred to as ‘exceptional’ it is in that context, rather than in comparison with contemporary nations (although it often applies there, too).  The Founding generation carefully distilled centuries of human experience into a philosophy of governance that managed to be both idealistic and pragmatic at the same time.  They recognized the dignity of the individual as a creation of God, yet also allowed for the fact we are fallen in nature and prone to abuse our authorities.  As James Madison, chief architect of the Constitution put it:

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. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

Those who want a ‘living Constitution’ they can warp to the whims of the times forget how carefully its systems of checks and balances was forged.  The chains they placed on Leviathan have been weakened over the generations by tinkerers and would-be tyrants.  The recycling of old ideas as “new” has not improved our charter, for truly, “there is nothing new under the sun.”  Rather, it’s demonstrated the wisdom and foresight of those who crafted it.  As the title quote for this blog suggests, we are on a wrong road.  To truly be ‘progressive,’ we need to turn back and get onto the right road.

(*) A female visitor to the White House once approached Coolidge to inform him she’d made a wager she could get him to say more than two words.  “You lose,” was Coolidge’s reply.

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Iran

The clerical regime in Tehran is facing perhaps its biggest challenge since the immediate aftermath of the 1979 revolution that put it into power.

This is a very big deal.

For years, Iran has been the world’s biggest state sponsor of international terrorism (in particular the Hezbollah organization).  That’s why it was criminally irresponsible for the Obama administration to weaken sanctions on Tehran, and airlift $1.7 billion in paper currency to them!  This, after essentially ignoring previous unrest in 2009.  In his quixotic quest for a meaningless “nuclear deal” with Iran, Obama spared no opportunity to help the mullahs.  In doing so, he was enabling a regime that exported considerable trouble, including cooperation with other rogue regimes like the one in North Korea.

Many Obama alumni are calling on the current administration to also be silent, saying to speak out risks having Iran’s leaders brand the dissidents as “foreign agents.”  This overlooks the power of moral support.  Trump’s initial statement on the matter — a remarkably statesmanlike missive — was translated into Farsi and quickly passed around among the dissidents before the regime blocked access to social media.  Obama’s team might well be wondering what else will come to light about them, should the mullahs lose power.

America remains the original modern Constitutional republic, however battered that system may be.  The most powerful foreign policy tool available to us is modeling what a free society should look like.  For more than two centuries people in other countries seeking a better way have looked to us for inspiration and example.  We have not always lived up to such scrutiny, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.  Inspiration is far to be preferred over invasion as a means to advance freedom.

“Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she (America) goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.”  – John Quincy Adams, 1821

Let us all offer “prayers and benedictions” that the Iranian people will finally free themselves of the original Islamist gangster regime.  The world could be a much better place if they do.

Since we’re talking symbolism

Across the nation, Confederate monuments are coming down, and the question on many minds is whether the President was right: will it stop there, or grow to include any figure — including pivotal figures like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson — associated with slavery or other grievances?

So this would be a good time to examine the symbol of one of the more active groups on the Left: Antifa.  Their flag has been seen from Berkeley to Boston at various “protests” and “counter-protests.”  Why the quotations?  Because in nearly every case, it has devolved into violence.

This is Antifa’s flag:

antifascistokc

Note that the full name of the group is “Antifascist Action.”  The photo above is from an event in Oklahoma City.  Now take a careful look at this next photo:

3rd Communist International

This is the debut of that logo, at the first meeting of the “Antifaschistische Aktion” group in Berlin, July 10, 1932.  The organization was created by the Communist Party of Germany as a replacement paramilitary force after their original goon squad –the Rotfrontkämpferbund — was banned due to fighting between Communists and Nazis.

Note that the emblem is centered between two Soviet flags.  The banner on the table reads “Long live the Red Front.”  In essence, Antifa originated as the Communist answer to the Nazi “Brownshirts,” and the nature of the group was inherently violent.

The point has been made repeatedly in recent days that neo-Nazi symbolism has no business in the USA, and I agree.  But what about neo-Communism?  We’re reminded “we fought a war to conquer Nazi Germany.”  True.  We also waged a half century “Cold War” under threat of nuclear Armageddon to defeat the Soviet Union and its communist empire.  So why is Adolph Hitler the lone boogeyman and political epithet?

It’s because Communists and Nazis strongly emphasized their differences rather than their similarities.  This is deliberate deception.  BOTH belong on the “left” end of the spectrum, as both are collectivist totalitarian ideologies.  The opposite of each is not the other, but rather minimalist, individualist government.

But wait, there’s more!  Our society today is so historically ignorant that many people initially can’t understand why I lump Nazis and Communists together.  So here’s some info to chew on: Continue reading

Quote of the day

“We have always known that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. It’s worse now, because capture of government is so much more important than it once was. There was a time when there was enough freedom that it hardly mattered which brand of crooks ran government. That has not been true for a long time — not during most of your lifetimes, and for much of mine — and it will probably never be true again.”

Jerry Pournelle, noted Military-Science-Fiction author and occasional pundit, written shortly after the 2008 election.

Treasures should be guarded

I’ve noted before that we have greatly cheapened the value of U.S. citizenship.  If anyone from anywhere can sneak into our country with a reasonable expectation that if they “hide in the shadows” long enough for another amnesty, then our birthright citizenship means nothing — or nada, if you must.  That should be completely unacceptable to any citizen already here.

One particular aspect of that citizenship that is clearly neglected is our voting process.  There should be absolutely no opposition to requiring photo I.D. to cast a vote — but the soft bigotry of low expectations (plus a desire for a fraud-conducive system) in the Democratic Party keeps claiming there’s no need, and that it’s an undue burden on minorities.

That’s a load of Donkey manure.  One already needs a photo ID to do all sorts of everyday things.  But the Left says there’s no indication enough fraud exists to require such documentation.

Well, how about this:

Voting machines in more than one-third of all Detroit precincts registered more votes than they should have during last month’s presidential election, according to Wayne County records prepared at the request of The Detroit News…

“There’s always going to be small problems to some degree, but we didn’t expect the degree of problem we saw in Detroit. This isn’t normal,” said Krista Haroutunian, chairwoman of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers…  (emphasis added)

Republican state senators last week called for an investigation in Wayne County, including one precinct where a Detroit ballot box contained only 50 of the 306 ballots listed in a poll book, according to an observer for Trump.

Detroit has not had a Republican mayor since 1962.  It’s safe to say there’s a well-oiled Democratic political machine in that city now, and that the Democrats have run everything as Detroit went from being a high-flying manufacturing center to a broken shell of its former self.  As for the comment above “this isn’t normal,” I’d say it applies more to getting caught than to having such irregularities.  What’s amusing is that this came to light because Jill Stein and her Green Party demanded a recount that spent a boatload of money in Michigan and Wisconsin only to find Trump had 131 more votes in Wisconsin than originally recorded on election day.

Everything today revolves around convenience, which is why the arguments against voter I.D. have traction.  Simply put, a lot of people don’t care if a lot of their neighbors are too lazy to take the few required steps to participate in what should be a secure voting process.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: in order to vote, you should have to pass a basic civics exam on how the Constitution sets up our government, you should have to have photo I.D. to vote, and your finger should be dipped in a Red, White or Blue ink (your choice) that doesn’t wash/rub out for a couple days. (I also believe that if you’re on public assistance, your voting rights should be temporarily suspended.  Make sure you can take care of yourself before you start impacting others.)

I was in Iraq when they held their first post-Saddam election.  From what I saw, they took their process and its security much more seriously than we do.  That should shame us into action.  Iraqis went to polling stations even with the threat of terrorist activity across the country (something that, thankfully, we only know a little about… for now).  And we can’t be bothered to get an I.D.?  Give me a break.

Clean up the voter rolls, pass the photo I.D. requirement nationally, and start making people demonstrate knowledge of the system and its history before letting them participate in it.  Compared to how many have died or been wounded over the decades to give us the space and freedom to even hold elections, is that really too much to ask?  Some things worth having are not convenient to maintain…

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”

— Thomas Paine, from “The American Crisis,” written when protecting freedom (during the American Revolution) was a lot more inconvenient than it is today.

The war on history & a heritage of liberty

The was never any doubt in my mind that the cultural cleansing of Confederate flags and symbols would be expanded into something much broader:

The EEOC has already ruled that coworkers’ wearing Confederate flag T-shirts can be punishable harassment (a decision that I think is incorrect); and, unsurprisingly, this is extending to other political speech as well.

On January 8, 2014, Complainant filed a formal complaint in which he alleged that the Agency subjected him to discrimination on the basis of race (African American) and in reprisal for prior EEO activity when, starting in the fall of 2013, a coworker (C1) repeatedly wore a cap to work with an insignia of the Gadsden Flag, which depicts a coiled rattlesnake and the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me.”

Complainant stated that he found the cap to be racially offensive to African Americans because the flag was designed by Christopher Gadsden, a “slave trader & owner of slaves.”  (emphasis added)

Stop and think about the criteria emphasized above.  If anything associated with a “slave trader” or “owner of slaves” is now tainted and subject to removal from the public square, then we have lost the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and pretty much the entire foundation of our heritage.  It takes discernment to make distinctions between attitudes and actions we now recognize as wrong (i.e. enslavement and racism), and legitimate contributions by human beings every bit as flawed and imperfect as we are today.  Regrettably, discernment is sorely lacking in our society today.

The EEOC acknowledges (then ignores) the context of the creation of the Gadsden flag, which was an early symbol of the rebellion that became known as the American Revolution.  While the Southern Cross or the Stars and Bars (not the same flag!) can be legitimately criticized for their association with a breakaway region explicitly devoted to the preservation of slavery and racial hierarchy during the War Between the States, the Gadsden Flag has NO such historical connotation, despite a few modern groups’ attempts to appropriate it for such causes.

I believe this storied yellow flag is being targeted because of its association with the Tea Party protests of a few years ago against Obamacare and other examples of ineffective, inefficient, wasteful and unresponsive government. It remains a symbol of defiance and independence, which runs contrary to the increasing demands for compliance and conformity in our land.  Thus, symbols that inspire and remind Americans about their heritage must be controlled or eliminated. (Prediction: they’ll go after this symbol next.)

People like myself with genuine concerns about the direction of our country tried a few years ago to demonstrate and appropriately ‘petition for the redress of grievances,’ and the Gadsden Flag quickly became a symbol of that segment of the citizenry — which should have been a warning to any leader with a sense of history.  But at the time the professional punditry and not a few of our national leaders smeared the whole movement as some sort of racist enterprise and ignored them. Then they were surprised at the sudden surge of support for a deeply flawed and disruptive candidate like Trump.

There’s a lesson there: when people believe acting traditionally and respectfully gets their legitimate concerns libeled and dismissed, they stop acting as civilly.  If our national leaders (on both sides of the aisle) don’t start actively addressing these concerns–the very real negative effects of free trade and unfettered immigration, a lack of faith that our nation is secure, bloated, wasteful and ineffective agencies and programs, and a general sense that our whole government is just one great big racket for the well-connected–then the next standard bearer for them is likely to be even less palatable from a civil, traditional perspective.

The clock is ticking, the tinder is drier than it’s been in generations, and we have perhaps the most tone-deaf, insular and arrogant leadership class in our nation’s history.  Absent a miracle, I don’t expect this to play out well.

Based on their frantic cultural cleansing, it appears they don’t, either.

Remember, America.

quote-a-people-without-a-heritage-are-easily-persuaded-karl-marx-144-72-24

Cashing out

The powers that be are doing all they can to constrain the options of the average citizen who refuses to play their game.  The latest angle is to renew the push for a cashless society:

On Monday the European Central Bank President emphatically disclosed that he is strongly considering phasing out the 500 euro note.

Yesterday, former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers published an op-ed in the Washington Post about getting rid of the $100 bill.

Prominent economists and banks have joined the refrain and called for an end to cash in recent months.

The reasoning is almost always the same: cash is something that only criminals, terrorists, and tax cheats use.

In his op-ed, Summers refers to a new Harvard research paper entitled: “Making it Harder for the Bad Guys: The Case for Eliminating High Denomination Notes”.

That title pretty much sums up the conventional thinking. And the paper goes on to propose abolishing, among others, 500 euro and $100 bills.

The authors claim that “without being able to use high denomination notes, those engaged in illicit activities – the ‘bad guys’ of our title – would face higher costs and greater risks of detection. Eliminating high denomination notes would disrupt their ‘business models’.”

The $100 is a “high denomination note?”  That might have been true 50 years ago, minus several decades of inflation eating away at purchasing power, but it’s hardly the case today.  One can easily spend that much now by taking a family of four to a restaurant.

And while any such proposals are always couched as trying to somehow make life difficult for “the bad guys,” there are some very real effects on law-abiding citizens here.  Governments around the world have exhausted their ability to “goose” the economy through artificially low interest rates (a policy, by the way, that penalizes the thrifty savers in society in favor of profligate borrowers).  Having taken that game all the way to zero — literally — now central banks have the bright idea of negative interest rates… which would potentially charge savers who hold their money in savings accounts rather than spending it.

So what is a thrifty family to do?  The best answer is to hold as much of your assets as possible outside of the increasingly corrupted financial system.  Cash is the most obvious way to do that.  But bankers know full well that if Americans returned to the days of stuffing mattresses with greenbacks, it would quickly become apparent there aren’t enough pieces of paper to go around — not by a long shot.  (For an example of this, watch the “bank run” scene in “It’s A Wonderful Life.”)

In addition to discouraging all the hoi polloi from asking for banknotes they don’t have, this move toward smaller denomination bills is meant to inconvenience cash transactions.  It’s not only criminals who like to use cash, although many in authority like to pretend that’s the main association.  There is still the rare family who literally saves their pennies for anything from a vacation to buying a used car.

Here’s the thing: if you paid $10,000 in cash for a vehicle you bought used from another owner, it would take carrying one hundred $100 bills.  Imagine that bill is eliminated.  The $50 is already a much rarer note in circulation, so the common alternative is the $20.  Now you’d need a stack of FIVE HUNDRED notes–more than a pound of paper –to pay cash.  And few people are willing to do that these days.  Yes, this is part of what the authorities want to do to “inconvenience” large criminal transactions.  But it will also push average consumers further into using what is already a largely digital world of commerce.

And that’s exactly what the powers that be want.  With digital transactions (credit and debit cards), privacy is greatly reduced and control greatly expanded.  I know there are still those full-blooded law and order types who’ll protest “if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”

Baloney.  Plenty of innocent people have already had their bank account (vulnerable digital assets) wrongfully seized, after which they face a daunting process of proving their innocence in order to see any of it again.  But the real problem with the “you have nothing to worry about” premise is that the definition of “doing wrong” is often in the eye of those wielding any kind of power.  Think I’m kidding?  Ask the former head of Mozilla, who was forced to resign after those oh-so-tolerant liberals discovered his heinous crime of donating to a campaign against legalizing same-sex marriage.  Think about how the IRS went after political groups sympathetic to “Tea Party” small-government advocacy.  Now extrapolate that to a future where every book you buy, every movie/documentary you watch, every church contribution you make and even families you choose to support financially in some small way leaves a digital trail for those who disagree with you to follow and exploit.

There’s a term for this: it’s called a targeting system.  And if we’ve learned anything through the recent weaponization of government agencies, it’s that such targeting capabilities WILL be used to harass and silence anyone who dissents from public orthodoxy.  Completely ‘virtual’ banking and finance (a “cashless society”) will result in ‘virtual control’ over our ability to live freely and privately with our own consciences.

I’ve said this before, but am becoming more strident about it: it’s time to “abjure the realm.”  If you disagree with the direction the ‘soft fascists’ in our land are taking us, you need to separate yourself from their system as much as possible, because the net is continuing to tighten.  That means holding stores of wealth beyond their digital control, in forms like cash, precious metals or other tradable commodities that provide a good store of value.  Equally important, it means building networks of like-minded people who are willing to form communities that can exchange privately among themselves without every transaction being officially recorded and perused for potential political heresy.

In short, it means declaring your personal independence and intention NOT to be simply a compliant serf to the ruling order.  Does it take work not to do things the way everyone else does?  Certainly.  But it is the kind of work that makes one free.