American Elephants


The Dismantling of American Culture and What to Do About It by The Elephant's Child

From David Mamet’s The Secret Knowledge:

Let us assume, then, that each party partakes equally of the human capacity for good and bad, for corruption, for misguided compassion, and of overweening cupidity; and that each will suffer failures of projects both good-willed and merely monstrously self-serving.

The question as posed by Milton Friedman, was not “What are the decisions?” — any human or conglomeration is capable of decisions both good and bad — but “Who makes the decisions?” Shall it be the Government, that is, the State, or shall it be the Individual?

In some cases it must be the Government, which is, in these, the only organ capable of serving and protecting individual  liberty and freedom; notably, in defense, the administration of justice, and maintenance of and oversight of Federal Infrastructure, e.g. Roads, Interstate Travel, Waterways, Parks, and so on. But what in the world is the Government doing meddling in Education, Health Care, automobile Production, and the promotion of dubious, arguable or absurd programs designed to bring about “equality”? Should these decisions not be left to the Individual or to a Free Market, in which forces compete, to serve the Individual who will be the arbiter of their success?

“But which system,” Mamet asks, “Free Enterprise, or the State, is better able to correct itself?”

Nothing is free.  All  human interactions are tradeoffs.  One may figure out a way to (theoretically) offer cheap health insurance to the twenty million supposedly uninsured members of our society.  But at what cost — the dismantling of the health care system of the remaining three-hundred-million-plus? What of the inevitable reduction, shortages, abuses, delay and injustice caused by all State rationing?

All civilizations need and get Government. But how much and at what cost? Many governments began as Welfare States dedicated, they claimed to distributing the lands abundance to all. And as redistribution  increases, so does resistance to those choices, and the Welfare State descends into dictatorship. The cost of all this benevolently intended redistribution is shortage, famine, murder, and the eventual collapse of the state.

We are in the process of choosing, as a society, between Liberty— the freedom to pursue happiness free from the State — and Equality, which can only be brought about by a State empowered to function in all facets of  life which means totalitarianism and dictatorship.

Does the State decide for the citizen? Or does the individual insist on a reduction of State powers to that point at which the power is reserved only for the application as specified by law, where one individual or group abridges the liberty of another?

The latter is the revolutionary understanding of government spelled out in that Constitution elected officials swear to defend.  They are elected as public servants, the public granting them only that freedom of action necessary to fulfill that oath.  Is it not time for a return to that revolutionary understanding?

David Mamet is the noted playwright, author, director and filmmaker, Pulitzer prizewinner, and former liberal, who awakened,  examined his politics seriously and at great depth, and wrote a highly entertaining and enjoyable book about his conversion.



Remember Who We Are! by The Elephant's Child
August 23, 2010, 8:54 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Freedom, Music | Tags: , ,



Why Are Liberals So Angry? by The Elephant's Child
August 8, 2010, 7:33 pm
Filed under: Conservatism, Freedom, Liberalism | Tags: , ,

Liberals control the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Their efforts are extolled and celebrated by the national media.  Hollywood churns out movies and TV shows that portray the liberal view of the world.  Congress can pass whatever bills they want, confident that the president will sign them.  They have the power to do whatever they want, and since they are there —our elected representatives — one can assume that they have the approval and good wishes of the people of the United States.

So why are Liberals so angry?  If the recent revelations from JournoList, the e-mail list of about 100 liberal/left journalists mean anything, the most notable fact is the depth of their hatred for conservatives.  And not just conservatives in general, they hate conservative individuals.

There is plenty of evidence of this.  Those of us on the right have seen it — frothing at the mouth, red-in-the-face, not just disagreement, but hatred.  Back in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union “an evil empire,” liberals were enraged.

A  JournoList participant, a public-radio reporter, expressed her personal wish to see Rush Limbaugh die a slow painful death — and nobody objected.  A Daily Kos editor dreams of liquidating opponents like “Steven Milloy and his buddies” with a Soylent Green assisted suicide, because they commit the crime of opposing global warming alarmism.  Howard Dean, never shy about expressing his hatred for Republicans, said “In contradistinction to the Republicans, Democrats don’t believe kids ought to go to bed hungry at night.”  Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) said “I want to say a few words about what it means to be a Democrat.  It’s very simple: We have a conscience.” Oh please!

When you comb through the evidence, it becomes apparent that Conservatives are hated specifically because — they disagree. Liberals life-long dream of government controlled health care has been realized.  And the Republicans had the colossal nerve to oppose it.  It was, liberals are sure, the right thing to do, to make health care more affordable and everybody healthier, and the Republicans started in with their studies and evidence and history and convinced the poor ordinary folk out there to oppose it too.

Progressivism is a bit of a religious experience — everything is politics and politics is everything.  And when they got to be in charge, to control the levers and the power of government, liberals would show everyone just what “hope and change”really meant. Equality, social justice.  Things would be fixed.  The rich would be brought down, business would be forced to stop preying on poor people just to make a profit.  Profit would no longer be allowed. Life would be fair.

Of course they have tripled the deficit that Obama claims daily was left to him by George W. Bush.  They have really, really tried to fix the economy. They have paid people to buy cars, purchase homes, pay off their mortgages, weatherize their homes and put solar panels on their roofs. And it didn’t work. And the liberals are furious because the conservatives — disagreed.

Life is not fair. It just isn’t.  And you cannot make it fair.  Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. Human nature is imperfect, unchangeable, and unfixable.  We make mistakes, and that is how we learn.  Sometimes we make horrible mistakes, and we try to fix them.  But if we do not learn from our mistakes, then we cannot grow. The greatest impetus for growth has always been liberty. Milton Friedman once put it rather well:

A society that puts equality— in the sense of equality of outcome — ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom.  The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.



The 2010 Election is Important — Dennis Prager Tells Why. by The Elephant's Child

Here’s a stirring and important speech from Dennis Prager, on the 2010 election.  Worth your time.

(h/t: Neo-Neocon)



The Very Best Fourth of July Speech Ever! by The Elephant's Child
July 4, 2010, 5:06 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Freedom, History | Tags: , ,

One of the best Independence Day speeches ever was given by Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States, at the Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. Do read the whole thing, better yet, download it. Here are a few excerpts:

It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history. Great ideas do not burst upon the world unannounced. They are reached by a gradual development over a length of time usually proportionate to their importance. This is especially true of the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence. Three very definite propositions were set out in its preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.

If no one is to be accounted as born into a superior station, if there is to be no ruling class, and if all possess rights which can neither be bartered away nor taken from them by any earthly power, it follows as a matter of course that the practical authority of the Government has to rest on the consent of the governed. While these principles were not altogether new in political action, and were very far from new in political speculation, they had never been assembled before and declared in such a combination. But remarkable as this may be, it is not the chief distinction of the Declaration of Independence. The importance of political speculation is not to be underestimated, as I shall presently disclose. Until the idea is developed and the plan made there can be no action.

It was the fact that our Declaration of Independence containing these immortal truths was the political action of a duly authorized and constituted representative public body in its sovereign capacity, supported by the force of general opinion and by the armies of Washington already in the field, which makes it the most important civil document in the world. It was not only the principles declared, but the fact that therewith a new nation was born which was to be founded upon those principles and which from that time forth in its development has actually maintained those principles, that makes this pronouncement an incomparable event in the history of government. It was an assertion that a people had arisen determined to make every necessary sacrifice for the support of these truths and by their practical application bring the War of Independence to a successful conclusion and adopt the Constitution of the United States with all that it has meant to civilization.

Calvin Coolidge was our only president born on the Fourth of July.  He was also a firm believer in Liberty and low taxes.  here he is, expressing those ideas in what is believed to be “the first presidential film with sound recording.”  These remarks from the conclusion of his Fourth of July speech seem especially appropriate today:

Under a system of popular government there will always be those who will seek for political preferment by clamoring for reform. While there is very little of this which is not sincere, there is a large portion that is not well informed. In my opinion very little of just criticism can attach to the theories and principles of our institutions. There is far more danger of harm than there is hope of good in any radical changes. We do need a better understanding and comprehension of them and a better knowledge of the foundations of government in general Our forefathers came to certain conclusions and decided upon certain courses of action which have been a great blessing to the world. Before we can understand their conclusions we must go back and review the course which they followed. We must think the thoughts which they thought. Their intellectual life centered around the meetinghouse. They were intent upon religious worship. While there were always among them men of deep learning, and later those who had comparatively large possessions, the mind of the people was not so much engrossed in how much they knew, or how much they had, as in how they were going to live. While scantily provided with other literature, there was a wide acquaintance with the Scriptures. Over a period as great as that which measures the existence of our independence they were subject to this discipline not only in their religious life and educational training, but also in their political thought. They were a people who came under the influence of a great spiritual development and acquired a great moral power.

No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.



For Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, Health Care Is an Ego Trip. by The Elephant's Child
March 2, 2010, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Freedom, Health Care, Law | Tags: , , ,

Do you remember Representative Parker Griffith M.D. of Alabama, who was elected as a Democrat in 2008 and was part of the House Democrat caucus until last December 22, when he became a Republican?

Mr. Griffith’s unusual perspective — he is a doctor, with 30 years experience as an oncologist — gives him some insight into why the White House and the Democrat leadership in Congress continue to push forward on a national health care bill that most Americans oppose. Byron York notes in the Examiner:

It’s gotten personal, Griffith says. “You have personalities who have bet the farm, bet their reputations, on shoving a health care bill through the Congress. It’s no longer about health care reform. It’s all about ego now. The president’s ego. Nancy Pelosi’s ego. This is about personalities, saving face, and it has very little to do with what’s good for the American people.”…

As Griffith sees his former colleagues, Democratic leaders have become so consumed with the idea of achieving the historical goal of a national health care system that they are able to explain away the scores of opinion polls over the last six months that show people solidly opposed to the Democratic proposal.

The polls are wrong, they say. Or the polls are contradictory. Or the polls actually show that people love the health care plan. And even if the polls are right, and people hate the plan, real leaders don’t govern by following the polls. So just pass the bill.

It isn’t wise to assume that Americans won’t take this personally.  Americans don’t take kindly to those who threaten their freedom.



Cool Website of the Day! by The Elephant's Child

And it’s brand new.  The American Revolution Center is designed to educate about the era of the War of Independence. There is a stunningly beautiful timeline of the period, a collection of Colonial artifacts, a quiz to see what you know. Great site for kids to learn a little more about our history that is often neglected in our schools.

The collections are introduced with a very short (turn your volume down) drum tattoo. I had my volume turned up, and the two cats who sleep next to the monitor went flying, scattering papers asunder.  Other than that, it is a beautifully designed website with lots to learn about a very important period in our history.



Meet Paul A. Rahe, Professor of History and Political Science. by The Elephant's Child
November 30, 2009, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Freedom, History, Politics | Tags: , ,

I frequently recommend the conversations that Peter Robinson has with various guests on the Hoover Institution’s “Uncommon Knowledge.” Paul A. Rahe (pronounced Ray)  is Professor of History and Political Science at Hillsdale College, and holds the Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in the Western Heritage.

Professor Rahe’s  scholarly career has been focused on studying the origins and evolution  of self-government within the West.

In the first chapter of five, Professor Rahe defends his position that President Obama’s health-care proposals “presuppose the administrative state’s assuming a power over our lives that is nothing less than tyrannical.”

In the second chapter, he explains the nanny state.  There is a nanny in all of us, he says, but it’s hard to explain why anyone would choose life under a nanny.

In the subsequent segments, Professor Rahe ranges through Tocqueville, soft despotism and its roots in America, and discusses the inevitably of the all-encompassing welfare state.  And then takes up the question of whether we can recover our liberty.

Each segment is only about 7 minutes long, not much time even in a busy day; but if you are like me, you will find the conversation so fascinating that you can’t stop.



Symbols Matter. Understanding What the Symbols Stand For Matters Even More. by The Elephant's Child
May 11, 2009, 7:16 pm
Filed under: Freedom, Law, The Constitution | Tags: , ,

Justice

Lady Justice is the symbol of the judiciary. She carries three symbols of the rule of law: a sword symbolizing the court’s coercive power, scales representing the weighing of competing claims, and a blindfold indicating impartiality.  This particular representation says:

Justice is the end of government.  It is the end of civilized society.  It ever has been, ever will be pursued until it be obtained or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.

The judicial oath required of every federal judge and justice says “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I…will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me… under the Constitution and laws of the United States, so help me God.

President Obama has a record of statements on justice.  On September 2005, on the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts, Obama said:

What matters on the Supreme Court is those 5 percent of cases that are truly difficult.  In those cases, adherence to precedent and rules of construction and interpretation will only get you through the 25th mile of the marathon.  That last mile can only be determined on the basis of one’s deepest values, one’s core concerns, one’s broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one’s empathy.

During a July 17, 2007 appearance at a Planned Parenthood conference:

We need somebody who’s got the heart to recognize — the empathy to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom.  The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old.  And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.

During a Democratic primary debate on November 25, 2007, Obama was asked whether he would insist that any nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court supported abortion rights for women:

I would not appoint someone who doesn’t believe in the right to privacy…I taught constitutional law for 10 years, and when you look at what makes a great Supreme Court justice, it’s not just the particular issue and how they ruled.  But it’s their conception of the court.  And part of the role of the court is that it is going to protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process, the outsider, the minority, those who are vulnerable, those who don’t have a lot of clout.

During a May 1, 2009 press briefing:

Now the process of selecting someone to replace Justice Souter is among my most serious responsibilities as president, so I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity.  I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook; it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation.  I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.  I will seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role.  I will seek somebody who shares my respect for constitutional values on which this nation was founded and who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply them in our time.

“Empathy” is the word that has caused so much concern.  For empathy has no place in jurisprudence. Federal judges swear an oath to administer justice without respect to persons.  If they are to feel more partial to the “young teenage mom,” the “disabled,” the “African-American,” the “gay,” the “old,” then they are not and cannot be impartial, and the rule of law counts for nothing. The “depth and breadth of one’s empathy” is exactly what the judicial oath insists that judges renounce.  That impartiality is what guarantees equal protection under the law.

That is what the blindfold is all about.



A Much-Needed Reminder. by The Elephant's Child
February 9, 2009, 2:55 am
Filed under: Economy, Socialism | Tags: , ,

(h/t: PowerLine)



Veterans’ Day, November 11, 2008 by The Elephant's Child
November 11, 2008, 7:12 pm
Filed under: Military, News | Tags: , , ,

veteransday-copy

Thank You!

Update: A beautiful tribute to veterans I ran into on YouTube. The singer is Norah Jones.




Still Undecided? Fred Thompson Makes the Choice Crystal Clear by The Elephant's Child
October 25, 2008, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Conservatism, Economy, Election 2008, Foreign Policy | Tags: , , ,

Fred Thompson has some important words for Americans.  Give him a few minutes:

The transcript of this video is here, should you want to keep it or share it. There is a button for emailing the video at the end.




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