Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ends and Means

Quite the week, really. Dudes get to marry each other, the provisions of the ACA mean exactly whatever it is that we want them to mean, and we all lost our collective minds over a flag that somehow gained sentience and murdered nine people. And amidst it all, most of the people who have opened their mouths have demonstrated that they clearly enjoy talking more than thinking.

I haven't read Burwell or Obergefell, but then neither have most of the people going out of their way to opine for or against the decisions. My Facebook feed has been filled with the cheering or dismay of those who are either for or against a decision that they have not read, and have no interest in understanding. They got what they wanted (or didn't), and that is all that matters. This is a stupid and dangerous way to be, but what is to be expected from a society fully devoted to self-indulgence and intellectual laziness?

If I sound like an asshole, then I have two things to say: "I'm sorry, apparently we haven't met," and "Sure, but am I wrong?" Think about it this way: the question that was supposedly before the Court in Obergefell was not weather or not same-sex marriage is a good idea. The question was whether or not certain laws that prevented states from recognizing same-sex marriages are a violation of Constitutional protections. You should note that these questions are not the same, and yet it seems that everyone who likes same-sex marriage supports the decision, while everyone who thinks it might not be so great is against it. What this tells me is that we want what we want, and we aren't particularly concerned with how we get it. The ends justify the means. Always. This is how the rule of law, and ultimately the Republic upon which it is founded, dies. We should be concerned not only with the outcome, but with how we get there. Just remember, if you are willing to sacrifice the rule of law and personal liberty in order to get what you want, someone who disagrees with you will likely do the same. This is nothing more than mob rule.

I do have a few other things to muse on. To those of you who reject the Court's ruling in Obergefell because the court should not usurp "democracy," I have this question to pose: if 51% of the people in your state decide to ban firearms, will you gladly turn yours in? Something tells me the answer is no. Suddenly, you will realize that individual freedoms need protected from the will of the mob. Obergefell may be terrible jurisprudence, but don't use the democracy argument unless you're willing to let 51% decide what happens to you. The court's job is to protect the minority, not reinforce the will of the masses. Maybe that happened here, maybe not, but that is a question of performance rather than purpose.

To those Christians out there who are angry because same-sex couples will marry each other, I ask: are you just as angry about adultery? Divorce? Premarital sex? Pornography? You say homosexuality is a sin, and I agree wholeheartedly. Are we willing to fight against other sexual sins with as much vigor? If not, why not? This isn't a call not to judge - I'm judgmental as hell. I'm simply suggesting that maybe we should focus on winning people over to the truth of the gospel, and letting Him change their hearts and behavior. After all, I'm not particularly worried about how well-behaved the hell-bound are.

To those of you who are thrilled about the legalization of same-sex marriage, first of all, congratulations. You've won the right to have the government involved in your relationship. You should be so proud. Second of all, you've just won the right to freedom of association. You'd better be willing to support that right when a member of the clergy who is opposed to your lifestyle declines to perform your ceremony. You were full of righteous indignation that the government denied your rights - if you turn around and try to use the force of government to deprive another of theirs, then you are nothing more than a filthy hypocrite.

As for me, I'll continue to abide by my own personal political philosophy, which is, to paraphrase Jefferson, to tolerate anything that neither 'picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg.' I'm perfectly willing to live and let live. Just remember, though, that the rights of your fist end where my nose begins.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Did John Mackey Cross the Line?

On Wednesday, John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, referred to ObamaCare as fascism:
“Technically speaking, it’s more like fascism,” Mackey told NPR. “Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it — and that’s what’s happening with our health care programs and these reforms.”
Mackey is, of course, correct: the main difference between socialism and fascism is who owns the means of production. In socialism, it's the government, while in fascism, private industry owns the means, but they are completely controlled by government. ObamaCare follows the latter path; it uses private insurance companies, but dictates the kinds of products that can be offered, and what must be purchased.

Yesterday, CNN host Carol Costello confronted Mackey with his choice of words. Now, she didn't insist that they were inaccurate, only that they were impolitic:
“You realize when you say ‘fascism,’ it brings up Nazi Germany and all sorts of things. And we really want that kind language out of our public forum at the moment, don’t we?”
In other words, your statement was correct, but we don't like the implications, so you need to shut up. As I've pointed out before, this is how people who can't win arguments on the merits stack the deck in their favor: they try to control the language, making legitimate discourse impossible.

Mackey is correct - ObamaCare is fascism, and getting the vapors because you don't like the word doesn't change that fact. The United States is moving more and more toward Germany circa 1935, and there seem to be a whole lot of people in the elite class who see no problem with that, just so long as we don't call it what it is.

Perhaps if people like Costello spent a little more time getting worked up over people acting like fascists instead of getting worked up over people who use the word fascist, our impending disaster could be averted.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A $20 Million Christmas Story

On July 4, 1826, Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, the nation's first Secretary of State, and third President, passed away at his home near Charlottesville, Virginia. Although he was a wealthy landowner for most of his life, he died deeply in debt, and his home, Monticello, had to be sold in order to settle his accounts.

Why was Jefferson in such poor financial shape? Most of his wealth was tied up in property; Jefferson owned 5,000 acres attached to Monticello, along with his retreat at Poplar Forest near Lynchburg, Virginia, and 400 acres at Montalto, near Monticello. Such landholdings were extremely valuable prior to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, but following the addition of Louisiana to the United States, property values in the U.S. dropped, owing to the sudden doubling of land available for settlement. Jefferson, of course, would have known this when he completed the purchase of the Louisiana territory as president, but he did it anyway, believing it to be in the nation's best interests.

Following James Madison's death in 1836, his family had to petition Congress for reimbursement of funds Madison had spent (from his own purse) to conduct official business as president. That's right, the fourth president of the United States pulled out his own checkbook when it was time to conduct affairs of state, and his family had to ask for reimbursement later.

These two men, although considered members of the political elite in their time, sacrificed much in order to serve their country, dedicating not only their lives, but their estates to the endeavor. It can hardly be said that they used their political clout to live lavishly on the backs of the American electorate.

Fast forward to December 2012, and you get this:
The total cost to taxpayers of Obama’s vacations to Hawaii since becoming president is likely in excess of $20 million, and possibly much, much more. During a time of budget deficits that threaten the nation’s security and its future, the Obamas have chosen to maintain a “family tradition” and vacation halfway around the world instead of finding far cheaper alternatives closer to home.
Our political elite today live lavishly, like the elites of Rome, and do it on the backs of the masses. Furthermore, they act as though they are entitled to do so.

Honestly, is this the picture of a man who is worried that he just spent $20 million of your hard-earned money to fly his family to Hawaii for a longer vacation than you've probably ever taken? Yeah, didn't think so.

When there is a separate set of rules for your political betters, and they expect you to pay for their excesses, it is time for a change.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different

I have a new book out, and it has nothing to do with how morally bankrupt and authoritarian our union is. Instead, it's a sci-fi novel about how morally bankrupt and authoritarian a fictional future planetary union is. So, if you like sci-fi adventure and mystery with a little bit of a libertarian twist, check it out! Only $2.99 on Kindle.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Howard Kurtz Inadvertently Explains Why Gun Control is Stupid

In case you didn't know, on Meet the Press Sunday, host David Gregory confronted NRA president Wayne LaPierre with a 30-round AR magazine, asking the gun-rights advocate why such instruments of death and destruction shouldn't be outlawed. Now Gregory could be in a little bit of hot water with the Washington D.C. police. Why? As it turns out, 30 round magazines are against the law in D.C., which is home to the Meet the Press studio. So, when Gregory waved said magazine around on national TV Sunday, he was in possession of an illegal piece of firearm paraphernalia. It also turns out that NBC asked the authorities for permission to have the magazine in the studio, and were denied, but they went ahead and did it anyway, meaning that Gregory deliberately committed a crime on national television. Oops.

In a whiny column yesterday, pundit Howard Kurtz defends Gregory, and in so doing inadvertently exposes why the very gun policies that Gregory is promoting (while breaking with impunity), are at best misled. Here is how Kurtz justifies Gregory's possession of illegal weapons paraphernalia (all emphases mine):

Was the moderator of Meet the Press caught on tape, armed and dangerous, liberating a few Slurpees from a 7-Eleven? No, he waved a high-capacity ammunition clip on the air while interviewing Wayne LaPierre, asking why it shouldn’t be banned.
Was it a stunt? Yep, and an eye-catching one. Was Gregory being aggressive with the NRA chief, or seeming to push gun control in a confrontational interview? All that is up for debate.
But a police probe over what I assume was an empty ammo clip is a total waste of time.

The late word that NBC requested, and failed to receive, permission from the police certainly complicates the matter. But I don’t think Gregory was planning to commit any crimes.
The crux of Kurtz's argument seems to be that sure Gregory was in possession of an illegal piece of weaponry, but he wasn't planning on actually committing a real crime with it, and treating this like criminal activity (which it technically is) is a waste of law enforcement resources, which could be used fighting actual crime. This, of course, is what all of us law-abiding "assault weapons" owners have been saying about ourselves since this whole debate started. Like Gregory, we have no intention of going on a shooting spree, nor do we pose a threat to our neighbors or communities. Instead of persecuting us, why don't you focus on real crimes? Do you get it now, Howard? In making the case for Gregory's illegal activity, you have offered the very same argument that we gun-rights promoters are offering.

Here's the thing: I agree with Kurtz that Gregory didn't do anything wrong. D.C's weapons laws are stupid, and they persecute innocent people. The difference between Kurtz and I, however, is that he thinks that the elite should be exempt from the law, while I think that it should be applied equally to all. If even a single non-violent "assault weapon" owner gets tossed in jail for exercising his (or her) 2nd Amendment rights, Gregory should be thrown in along with them.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."
- John 1:14, New International Version

My light in times of darkness; my rest in times of fatigue. If you don't already know Him, may you see His face this season. Though the times to come are dark, He will light your path, and He will make your burdens light.

Merry Christmas to all of my readers!

Monday, December 24, 2012

The "Well-Regulated Militia"

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. - United States Constitution, Amendment II

Any time the topic of gun control comes up on the national stage, there are those who reference the "well-regulated militia" clause of the second amendment to argue that the writers of the Bill of Rights intended for firearms to be under the control of the State, and that it was only through military service that they be distributed to the people. Such an argument is completely without merit and fails for a number of reasons, all of them clear and unequivocal.

First, to understand what is meant by the "well-regulated militia," we need to understand how the writers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights viewed the idea of a professional army. Almost without exception, every founder viewed a permanent military force as a threat to liberty and freedom. As James Madison, the primary author of the Constitution, put it:
"In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people."
The founders did not want a professional army, but were then faced with the necessity of the states and their citizens having the ability to defend themselves. The obvious solution to this problem was to promote individual firearms ownership and encourage membership in a state militia. Some states even mandated firearm ownership, requiring the head of the household to keep and properly maintain a musket, powder, and shot. There are no specific requirements for what comprises a "well-regulated militia," since this, like most other things, was a duty reserved for the individual states.

What is important to understand about the "militia" clause is that the militia was intended to be made up of individual citizens, and that the states were supposed to set the terms. The federal government, as with most things, was expected to keep its filthy hands off of the entire process.

The reason for this is a radical one: the founders viewed government as evil, and occasionally in need of being put in its rightful place. The right to own firearms was supposed to be a check on tyranny, according to the men who founded this nation. In order to be useful to this end, arms must be in the possession of the people, not the government, be it state or national. Furthermore, it assumes a right to own arms capable of posing a threat to said government (which today includes scary-looking "military-style" "assault rifles" with high-capacity magazines). But don't take my word for it - see what the founders themselves had to say:
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government" - Thomas Jefferson
"Are we at last brought to such a humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defence? Where is the difference between having our arms in our own possession and under our own direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defence be the *real* object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?" - Patrick Henry
"The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good" - George Washington
"The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed." - Alexander Hamilton
It is clear that the founders supported the idea of individual firearms ownership. They said so, explicitly, and without equivocation.

There are other constitutional arguments against gun control, of course. The Ninth Amendment makes it clear that the enumerated rights aren't exhaustive, and the Tenth Amendment explicitly forbids the federal government from regulating anything it isn't given express power over, so even if the Second Amendment didn't cover private ownership, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments would, at least at the national level. Sorry, but private firearm ownership (of any type) is covered by the Constitution.

It is possible that you don't like the idea of personal firearm ownership. Perhaps you think it is "common sense" to limit access to assault weapons. Maybe you think guns should only be owned for hunting. Believe what you want, but if that is your position, then you are at odds with the men who founded this nation and wrote the Constitution and the Second Amendment. If you claim that the "well-regulated militia" clause gives the government the right to regulate firearms, you are wrong.