Monday, March 1, 2010

Reply to TNLaw

Much of what you are relying on is nothing more than glorified rhetoric celebrating the successes of Thatcher, Reagan, and the Pope in the most excessive terms imaginable. The truth is that by the mid to late 70s, Soviet GNP had stagnated to a rate of just 2.6% per year, as opposed to an average global rate of growth of some 6.2% (http://www.fsmitha.com/h2/ch33-2.htm).  


Many of the shrill diagnoses of Soviet military might were woefully inaccurate, as the men hyping such nonsense went by the last names of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, and Wolfowitz.  Perle and Wolfowitz would go on to membership in an “independent” study group founded by then CIA director George H.W. Bush, where they would criticize the findings of CIA analysts who found that the Soviet military capability was decrepit(http://www.commondreams.org/views04/1207-26.htm).  


The truth of the matter is that military power must have an economic base from which to develop and expand.  As the Soviet command economy was structurally insufficient to provide this because a.) It was geared not towards demand, but towards the inklings of party bosses, b.) The world began moving away from heavy industrial economics and towards technology while the Soviets continued their emphasis on producing vast amounts of concrete and pig iron, and c.) the Soviets had no internal process or structure in place to educate their top minds on the rapidly evolving new technologies available to other market based economies which functioned according to demand rather than decree, Soviet military power was on the decline.  There was no functioning missile defense system on par with what the Team B study group was hawking, there were no undiscovered highly advanced nuclear weapons, and there was no Soviet capability to mount a successful invasion of even a backwards country like Afghanistan.  The Soviets were lured into Afghanistan by the presence of CIA operatives who had arrived as a lure to the Soviets, and the entire military debacle that followed occurred by design.  


Rhetoric does not win wars.  Strength wins wars.  We had strength; the Soviets did not.  Capitalist market based economies work better than command based economies.  It’s quite simple.  The Soviets wrongly believed that strength was the number of nuclear weapons and bombers one had.  In the history of mankind, only one nation (our own) has ever used nuclear weapons in war.  In doing so, we showed the world how unadvisable it was to deploy such weapons.  Furthermore, having bombers is of no use if you cannot maintain them, fuel them, or afford their constant usage in an armed conflict.  The Soviets had guns; however, they did not have bread to feed their civilians, much less to supply their armies in foreign theaters.  


Those neoconservatives who made up Team B would go on to be wrong about Iraq and WMDs as well.  The danger of buying into neoconservative hawkishness is this: at its core, neoconservatism believes the same thing that liberalism posits, which is that government action can bring about utopia and nirvana.  True conservatism posits that government action is to be avoided as it generally results in the opposite of its initial intentions.  


You don’t go around the globe growing freedom with externally generated revolutions.  Once the foreign originators of the freedom in question depart the theater, the country subjected to their crusade generally collapses into civil strife and internecine warfare.  If people want freedom, they’ll rise up of their own volition and take it no matter how powerful their government happens to be.  Look at history: the successful revolutions all originated when the natives were the ones taking the initiative.  The revolutions which occur as a result of foreign interventionism almost always lead to collapse or civil war later on.  What happened in Afghanistan after our departure? Exactly.  


You can believe that flowery little speeches and moral examples defeated the Soviets, as it is your right to cleave to whatever faith you hold as your own.  However, you may not portray it as anything other than faith, for the facts do no bear out your point of view.  At the end of the day, Soviets got tired of being Soviets, and they started agitating for something different.  As it turns out, you can’t eat bullets and nukes, and, as these were the surplus items in the U.S.S.R., the Soviets decided to try to erect a economy of bread instead of guns.  


Liberals say many things.  Sometimes, albeit very rarely, they are right about a thing or two.  They are right about Team B, and they are right about the collapse of the Soviet Union being due to factors other than the rhetorical flourishes of Thatcher, Reagan, and the Pope.  Then again, how could they help but get it right?  Any simpleton who can read a graph and comprehend elementary economics could see the problem of Soviet economics and grasp its extended implications for Soviet military power.  


Unfortunately, though not surprisingly, this does not include the neoconservatives and their legions of fans, all of whom have a near masturbatory inclination towards warfare which belies the fact that many of them avoided the draft and military service when their number came up.  Those of us who have studied war in any depth whatsoever, and especially those of us who have experienced war firsthand, are not fans of war as a panacea to the world’s problems.  We don’t rattle sabers in order to send others to fight in our stead; we instead measure the necessity of war by considering our willingness to be on the front.  


Neoconservatives are nothing more than fascists in that they are that branch of liberalism which has no compunction about using military force to bring about whatever ideological nirvana they seek.  Any free society which takes its own freedom and separation from geopolitical entanglements seriously ought to expel such men from the ranks of leadership on the grounds that they are not mentally fit for service.  As I said before, true conservatism maintains a sort realistic pessimism about the efficacy of government action to bring about the Kingdom of God on the earth.  

We have simpler goals: a more efficient tax structure, whereby men can have greater self-determination over their property along with greater freedom to make decisions (right or wrong) for themselves.  We emphasize incremental rather than radical change when it comes to expansion of government power, and we are hesitant to view any expansion of government as anything other than negative and an encroachment on individual liberty that is to be avoided unless absolutely necessary.  We have high bars for necessity, and cynicism towards those who agitate for such expansions.  We tend towards skepticism.  


Therein lies the problem: nobody really recognizes this as conservatism any more.  No, conservatism has been reduced to rhetorical flourishes and macho certainty, a willingness to throw caution to the wind in order to charge forward with the lives of others, throwing the sons and daughters of other parents into harm’s way in order to achieve some perceived noble goal that is usually unrealistic.  However, it’s powerful.  It makes you believe in something greater.  So does liberalism, and look at what it gets you.  When a conservative fights, it is because he has no other option.  And when he has no other option, he throws everything he has into the fight, and damns convention and the opinions of learned salons in the process.  See Curtis LeMay.  


Would it were that conservatism had not been hijacked by an actor and a substandard politician from Texas by way of Kennebunkport.  We might have avoided the past 30 years of rampant deficits and the abuses thereof.  Oh, well. Sis boom bah, America will be great, la di da, sowing freedom and democracy around the globe, no bid contracts for all.  Small government.  Low taxes.  Two word mantras to repeat over and over again.  Style over substance!  That’s the conservatism of today, and what a joy it is to witness what it has wrought! 

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One does wonder...

One Does Wonder


One does wonder how it is that earmarks can be justified when Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 limits the purpose of collecting taxes, duties, imposts, excises to the express cause of paying the debts and providing for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.  An earmark by its very nature is an expenditure that goes to specific regional interests as opposed to common or general interests.  It’s just a thought.  

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An Argument for Nullification!

An Argument for Nullifying Congress: Kick Them All Out!


One of the issues confronting our country is the complete dearth of leadership in Washington.  Americans are fed up, as recent surveys indicate that just 8% of Americans believe Congress should be reelected, while fully 81% believe the current Congress should be removed en masse from office (bit.ly/a5mSSk).  There’s only one problem: reelection rates usually run around 80% or higher in the Senate and 90% or higher in the House (bit.ly/cjqjBI).  


The fact remains that many Republicans who are absolutely sick of Congress can’t see themselves voting against a Paul Ryan or a Jim DeMint if doing so means electing a Democrat.  Many Democrats who are sick of Congress can’t see themselves voting against their party stalwarts in order to elect a Republican challenger.   Part of this is the fact that many individuals are still of the mind that there are principled people who still fight the good fight in Congress.  


This is poppycock.  Paul Ryan had a sterling turn at the recent healthcare summit, where he absolutely flummoxed Barack Obama with a masterful performance demonstrating that the Republican objection to healthcare reform was not based on obstinacy, but rather on a deep understanding of the contents of the legislation currently under consideration.  Ryan spoke truth and honesty to power, and in doing so, he almost singlehandedly brought victory to the Republicans.  


However, before we rush to heap commendations on those candidates and Congressmen who seem to represent and contend for our interests, we need to look more closely at their voting records and the legislation they sponsor.  Take Representative Ron Paul, for example.  According to the personal website of Ron Paul, he’s never voted for an unbalanced budget, has fought against spending, and he never votes for legislation unless it is expressly authorized by the Constitution.  It’s true that Ron Paul votes against omnibus spending bills with regular consistency.  Of course, that’s after he gets his earmarks into the bill.  


And what are those earmarks?  $26 million for Washington, D.C. "Reading is Fundamental" program; $10 million for Boston, Mass., "Reach Out and Read" national center;  $250,000 for Galveston Economic Development Partnership, for Galveston Center for Business and Technology Development to help spin off private investment at National Lab of the University of Texas Medical Branch; $500,000 for City of Bay City for NuBlac Rehab Center (youth rehabilitation); all told, some 22 earmarks worth $96.1 million.  To be fair, Paul’s defense of earmarks raises legitimate issues: one, they constitute around 1% of the U.S. government’s overall spending, and two, they provide transparency because you can track the spending requests of individual representatives.  However, one wonders how many of those earmarks are explicitly authorized by the U.S. Constitution.  And while those omnibus bills are not part of the U.S. Federal Budget per se, they do contribute to deficit spending.  


Paul Ryan, on the other hand, raises another issue for conservatives; namely one of of his commitment to reducing spending and reining in the deficit.  Ryan’s recent budget proposal is scored by the CBO to reduce and even eliminate the deficit over a 70 year period(http://bit.ly/d7DCfx).  That’s right, under Paul Ryan’s budget, we’ll move to surpluses of 5% by 2080!  This is the progress we need to implement, and we need to implement right away!  Not a moment to waste!  


But that’s the deficit, not the actual national debt, which at $13 trillion and rising threatens to cripple our ability to function in the coming years, with a projected cost to service the debt rising to nearly $900 billion by 2020.  Paul Ryan has no plan to reduce the actual nation debt in a meaningful way.  His budget will turn our deficits into surpluses by 2080 (http://bit.ly/cTax1h).  I think we can all agree that this is underwhelming.  


Moreover, it’s unrealistic. Assuming that we hold the prescribed course by Paul Ryan for 70 years, we’ll arrive at a 5% surplus 70 years down the road, and that’s after initial deficits which would outpace the Obama Administration’s budgets by $300 billion (http://bit.ly/9j4bnN), or, as Ryan put it on Bloomberg, “A lot.”  Are you serious?  Political realities will change many times over between now and then.  The reality of the matter is that we have to cut spending now.  Today. We have to face up to the fact that growth in entitlements spending is unsustainable.  


Moreover, the entitlements themselves are massive wealth redistribution schemes which transfer wealth from the currently employed to the currently retired.  They are antithetical to capitalism and any political theory built around the notion of individual ownership and retention of earned wealth.  Wages are the property of the worker, and property is constitutionally protected.  Using those wages to enrich seniors through Social Security and Medicare is an unwarranted and perhaps unconstitutional encroachment on individual property rights.  The fact that a majority of Americans support such programs is irrelevant; we live in a republic, not a democracy, and the rights of individual to be free from government appropriation of their property supersedes the majoritarian sentiments of socialist seniors.  


We cannot use equal protection arguments to say that the workers of today will receive the payout of tomorrow, because we know from current budget projections that we simply can’t afford to give them the payout under the entitlements programs as they are currently structured. Social Security is built for expansion, thanks to the Wilbur Mills authored COLA, which was a blatant attempt to buy the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination when it was passed.   

The simple truth of Jim DeMint is that his brand of conservatism is marginal.  It doesn’t play in Peoria.  Let’s consider his statements, which often undermine the conservative cause for which he supposedly contends.  DeMint said that openly gay people should not be allowed to teach in public schools, and he later amended those remarks by saying that single mothers who live with their boyfriends should not be allowed to teach in public schools either.  He has also contended that abortions should not be an option for women who have been raped or victimized by incest.  


I am a libertarian who thoroughly opposes abortion.  I further stand in total opposition to the notion that the U.S. Constitution contains within it a right to abortion.  It does not, and more to the point, it does not prohibit abortion, either.  Thus, the matter is left to the states.  Saying this is fine, and it is indeed it is necessary to articulate and defend these notions in order to advance the cause of the right against abortion.  Standing up in public and saying that women who have been raped or victimized by incest ought to be forced to carry a resulting conception to term in politically unwise and strategically disastrous.  What is the use of carrying the courage of your convictions in public if the way that you express them ultimately ensures that those convictions are never implemented?  


We need conservatives and libertarians in Washington, but we need to get the current crop we have out.  If that means voting for a Democrat in the short term to remove an incumbent, so be it.  We’ll be back in 2012, and you’d better believe that our movement will have legs beyond one election cycle.  We’ll be developing candidates who not only believe what we believe, but who also can express and articulate those common core convictions in a way that reaches the majority of America and brings them to our side.  In short, we need conservatives and libertarians who can actually win for conservatism and limited government, rather than just contending for it in perpetual futility.    

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