Category Archives: Politics

Rule Five 1776 Friday V

For the past few weeks RealClearPublicAffairs has been running what they are calling the 1776 series.  I recommend reading them all.  Here’s the description:

The 1776 Series is a collection of original essays that explain the foundational themes of the American experience. Commissioned from distinguished historians and scholars, these essays contribute to the broader goal of the American Civics project: providing an education in the principles and practices that every patriotic citizen should know.

This week I’ll be providing some commentary on the final issue of this series, Self-Government, the American Way, by Will Morrisey.  Excerpts follow, with my comments:

After winning the independence they had declared in 1776, Americans had to prove that they could sustain self-government in peace. They’d governed themselves already, as colonists, but now the British government no longer protected them from the other European powers, and indeed remained a potential enemy of the new country. It’s easy for us today to wonder why American statesmen from Washington to Lincoln seemed obsessed with building and sustaining “the Union,” or why President Jefferson so readily bent his constitutional scruples to purchase Louisiana from Napoleon to extend it. But to Americans then, looking at maps of North America, seeing their republic surrounded by hostile empires and nations whose rulers viewed republicanism with fear and contempt, maintaining the Union meant survival—survival not just of their way of life but of their very lives.

It’s important to note that the formation of the American republic was an existential threat to kings, emperors, dictators and despots all over the world.  Not only was there now a nation with government by the people, of the people, for the people, it was a nation whose governing documents included strict prohibitions against its interfering with the fundamental natural rights of its citizens.

To understand American self-government, one should begin with the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  These rights stand at the center of republicanism considered as an activity of self-government. They limit the power of Congress, the branch of the federal government charged with legislating. They prevent Congress from legislating republicanism out of existence.

As I’ve pointed out before in discussing other articles in this series, the first five words of the first amendment in the Bill of Rights is key and cannot be emphasized enough:

Congress Shall Make No Law.

No law, as I’ve said, means no damn law.  But during the Kung Flu crisis, that didn’t stop  state governors and local pols and bureaucrats from trying all manner of power grabs; many of those were challenged in court, many were protested with vigor by the citizens, but court cases take time.

Freedom of speech and of the press must not be prohibited—they cannot even be abridged by Congress. Here, we must know what the founding generation meant by such a formula: freedom of political speech and publishing. Slander, libel, and obscenity were universally banned by state and local law, and could potentially be banned by federal law, too. Republican government requires discussion and deliberation by the sovereign people. How else could citizens make their sovereignty effective? This is why the Preamble to the Constitution begins with “We, the People of the United States.”

Now, today, here’s the question:  Have we been successful, as citizens, in making our sovereignty effective?

I’d argue that today we can only say “somewhat.”

Congress routinely runs roughshod over the Bill of Rights.  The several states, maybe even more so.  During the earlier part of the Moo Goo Gai Panic, the Governor of New Jersey – the chief executive of one of the fifty states – replied to an interviewer that the Bill of Rights was “…above his pay grade.”  What an idiotic reply!  The Bill of Rights is not above anyone’s “pay grade,” it is a compendium of our natural rights with which no pol or bureaucrat at any level of government may legally interfere – a part of the Constitution which this stupid ass took an oath to support and defend!

The essay and the series concludes (emphasis added by me):

It remains for American citizens to live in the structure the Founders designed by respecting its features, a respect that can only be maintained by what one Founder called “a moral and religious people”—which is to say, a people who perpetuate the American effort at self-government in their private, civil, and political lives.

That last sentence, that’s the part that scares me.  More and more, I fear, more Americans are lured away from the “American effort at self-government” by the siren song of Free Shit, and more and more, the Bill of Rights is forgotten.

Animal’s Daily Municipal Meltdown News

Thanks as always to The Other McCain, Pirate’s Cove and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!  Also, make sure to check out the latest in my Gold Standards series over at Glibertarians – this one discusses the great Winchester Model 52.

City Journal’s Michael Gibson chronicles the utter disaster that is San Francisco.  Excerpt:

Even before the current Covid-19 pandemic, San Francisco was a deeply troubled city. It ranks first in the nation in theft, burglary, vandalism, shoplifting, and other property crime. On average, about 60 cars get broken into each day. Diseases arising from poor sanitation—typhoid, typhus, hepatitis A—are reappearing at an alarming rate. Fentanyl goes for about $20 a pill on Market Street, and each year the city hands out 4.5 million needles, which you can find used and tossed out like cigarette butts in parks and around bus stops. The city’s department of public works deploys feces cleaners daily—a “poop patrol” to wash the filth from the sidewalks.

This is just a brief summary of the lack of hygiene and common decency. A reasonable person might declare an emergency, but in her first official act, Breed swore in Chesa Boudin, San Francisco’s new district attorney, before a packed house at the Herbst Theater. “Chesa, you have undertaken a remarkable challenge today,” said U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a congratulatory video message. “I hope you reflect as a great beacon to many.” Boudin’s résumé boasts of a stint working directly for the late dictator Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, who turned a once-rich nation back to the dark ages. “We will not prosecute cases involving quality-of-life crimes,” Boudin promised during his campaign. He must have witnessed the success of that policy in Caracas, which was voted the world’s most dangerous city in 2018.

Even the sights and sounds of the city suggest a certain derangement. When the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system was first built in the 1970s, its designers failed to understand the acoustics between wheel, track, and tunnel. Since the nineteenth century, competent railroad engineers have known that a tapered, flanged wheel will handle turns better and generate less noise. For some reason, BART designers ignored this design in favor of a cylindrical wheel with a straight edge. Years of wear and tear have degraded the screech into a mad howl. According to a recent count by the San Francisco Chronicle, BART has lost nearly 10 million riders on nights and weekends because of the noise, grime, and lack of safety. It doesn’t help that it has also become a de facto shelter for drug addicts and the mentally ill.

The Old Man used to tell of visiting San Francisco briefly in 1945.  His one-day impression of that city was that it was a marvel, a booming metropolis, clean, shining and prosperous.  My Uncle George was stationed in the area in the early Fifties and spent a fair amount of free time mooching about the waterfront and in Chinatown, and spoke enthusiastically about what a great place the Bay Area was.

No longer.

Things were bad when I spent 2017 in the area, and the rot had spread as far as Silicon Valley, where bums sleep in the parks and along the trails and side streets are lined with parked RVs.  On our few ventures into the downtown area, we were treated to the sights, sounds and smells of Frisco’s bum, drug and feces-coated streets.  As Mr. Gibson points out, they have gone from bad to worse.

I’ve harped on this theme for some time now.  But it’s hard to watch what was one of America’s great cities descend into chaos; but holy crap, a DA who worked for Hugo Chavez?  That’s well past chaos and into enemy action.

It’s hard to find a good solution for San Francisco, where people keep voting in the lunatics running this asylum.  As Mencken pointed out, democracy is the idea that the people know what government they want and deserve to get it, good and hard.

San Francisco in particular and, honestly, California in general, seem determined to prove Mencken right.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Packing, packing, packing.  We really don’t have that much stuff to pack up here, but any such task inevitably expands to fill any time available.  This ain’t our first rodeo; we’ve done it before and will do it again, but in the meantime, the work awaits.  And so…

On To the Links!

Want to see a rogue’s gallery?  This looks like a rogue’s gallery.

Wisconsin is open for business.

National treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson weighs in on the Kung Flu.

Tyrannosaurs were marathon walkers.  Makes sense, big apex predators even today have to cover a lot of ground looking for food.

Mice that are 4% human.  Pinky and The Brain were unavailable for comment.

Bars open in Wisconsin; crowds of drinkers ensue.  Nobody should be surprised by this.

Are they any good to eat?

Kung Flu virus breakthrough?

Mexico is restarting production of consumer goods for the U.S. market.  Better them than China!

China to U.S. lawmakers:  “Stop talking crap about us.”  U.S. lawmakers:  “Bring it, bitches!”  Note that primary among the lawmakers is Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who I continue to like more all the time.

Colorado ranchers are trying to make ends meet by selling beef direct to consumers.  Bureaucracy is (of course) interfering.  Because, you know, we’re too stupid to know what’s best for us; we need Top Men to show us how to do things.  Top.  Men.

No Kung Flu spikes in opened areas – just in closed areas.

And a bit of good news – recovered Kung Flu patients are showing promising signs of immunity.  That’s how you build herd immunity, True Believers.

This Week’s Idiots:

CNN’s Matt Egan is an idiot, and economically illiterate.  It’s waaaay past time Americans started saving again; for a couple of decades now the Fed has been making sure there is damn little incentive to do so.

The people described in this article are idiots.

Columbia professor Jeffrey Lax is an idiot.

And So…

We have to get back to work/packing.  So to make up for my lack of deep thinking just now, here’s something from the archives:

With that, we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.

Rule Five 1776 Friday IV

For the past few weeks RealClearPublicAffairs has been running what they are calling the 1776 series.  I recommend reading them all.  Here’s the description:

The 1776 Series is a collection of original essays that explain the foundational themes of the American experience. Commissioned from distinguished historians and scholars, these essays contribute to the broader goal of the American Civics project: providing an education in the principles and practices that every patriotic citizen should know.

This week I’ll be providing some commentary on Civic and Moral Virtues, the American Way, by Will Morrisey.  Excerpts follow, with my comments:

In declaring their independence from Great Britain, Americans famously asserted their unalienable rights. Much less conspicuously, but no less tellingly, they listed ten moral responsibilities consonant with those rights.

In announcing their political separation, they begin by acknowledging a duty to observe “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind” by stating the causes for their decision. 1). “Decent” means fitting, appropriate; the opinions of mankind are fittingly respected because human beings possess the capacity for sociality, for understanding one another, for giving reasons for their conduct. Any important public action entails the responsibility to explain oneself, to justify that action before the bar of reasoning men and women.

To justify oneself, in turn, requires Americans to state their standard of justice. That standard is unalienable natural rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 2). Justice numbers among the four cardinal classical virtues, defined and elaborated by Plato, Cicero, and other philosophers well known to the Declaration’s signers. Just conduct consists of actions defending natural rights in a civil society; to assert those rights, to separate oneself from those who would violate them, logically entails respecting those rights in all other persons, inasmuch as “all men are created equal,” all equally entitled to enjoy their natural rights undisturbed by tyrants.

Justice should indeed ranked high, if not first, among moral virtues; the concepts of individual rights, liberty and property are impossible to maintain without it.  Here:

Governments that secure such rights are established by the consent of the governed. This means that consent cannot mean mere assent or willingness. It can only mean reasoned assent. 3). Reasoned assent to natural right implies a modest degree of another classical virtue, wisdom. In this case, it is what Aristotle calls “theoretical” wisdom, understanding general or abstract principles. Americans recognize their duty to understand what human nature is—not only the nature of Americans, or the English, or the French, but of human beings as such.

And in this lies my concern.

Look at the last few election cycles – for Congress or for any of your local elections – and ask yourself, seriously, given the tenure of the campaign ads and the rhetoric of the candidates, how “wise” the voters these people are aiming at really are.

It’s not just the endless boasting of how much Free Shit the candidates will give away.  Most of the voters couldn’t find the First or Fourth Amendments with written instructions, partly because the basic education system has degraded into a series of leftist indoctrination seminars, our popular entertainment is composed of gladiatorial games and an endless parade of morons posing as “reality” programming.  One can hardly expect wisdom from a population when a plurality of that population is more concerned with who one of the Kardashians is fucking in any given week than what their Congressman is doing to our wallets that week in the Imperial City.

Is there hope for us?  Well, I’m inclined to think so:

The fourth classical virtue is courage. Without it, wisdom, justice, and moderation by themselves will leave you high and dry. As a baseball manager once said of a rival, “Nice guys finish last.” Accordingly, Americans announce their intention to defend their rights with “manly firmness.” It should be noted that manliness in their minds had no “gender.” Abigail Adams was no less “manly” in her firmness than her husband, John. He knew that and said it. Looking back on the American Revolution, he wrote that those were times that tried women’s souls as well as those of men, and that American women had exhibited no less courage than their husbands and sons.

I think we still have courage, as a people.  I recall President Reagan’s speech about “The Boys of Pointe du Hoc,” and I also recall some talking head interviewing a journalist who had been embedded with some of our troops in Iraq in 2003.  The talk-droid referenced that speech by President Reagan, (correctly) lauded the courage of those men that stormed the beaches of Normandy, and asked the journalist “…where are young men like that today?  Are there any?”

“Yes,” the journalist replied.  “We have many of them, and a lot of them are there, today, in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

And that’s what might just save us as a people.  It won’t be the professional grievance-mongers, the race hustlers, the permanently “offended” that make America work – not ever.  It’s the courage and moral fortitude of the regular workers and business-people of America who, once the autistic screeching of the previous types has finally tapered off, will spit on their hands and get on with the job.

That’s courage, True Believers.  The courage to keep on.

Read the whole article, of course.  It’s worth the time.  It’s about us.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Ten days and counting, before we can leave New Jersey in the rear-view mirror.  It can’t happen too soon for us!  This whole year and nine months has been odd; while there are things I like about the area, not least of which are the great diners and Italian restaurants, it’s baffling to me how anyone would want to live here.  At least Raritan isn’t a congested area.  On the contrary, it was a distinct small-town feel.  But the state government?  Holy crap.  What a shitshow.

So, with that said…

On To the Links!

Notorious right-winger Alan Dershowitz on the General Flynn issue:  Let us hear now from the former civil libertarians for whom any violation of law is permissible, as long as it is directed at a Trump associate.  Don’t hold your breath.

Neandertals were choosy about their bone tools.  Neat stuff.

Oh hey – President Obama pardoned a general for lying to the FBI.  What about that?

Also, the Flynn debacle appears to have gone right to the top.

Here’s an interesting back-and-forth on the Kung Flu lock-downs.

And from the same source, a possible solution to the meat shortages.

Late-night television has gone strangely quiet on Tara Reade.

Top. Men.

Cuomo:  “We fucked up.”

Venezuela has a navy?  Who knew?

This was the right thing to do.

Sorry, Mr. Musk, Directive 10-289 is in effect.

The Supreme Court has handed immigration hawks a win.  And – this is important – not along ideological lines.  The Ninth Circuit got spanked – again.

When your opponent is making a mistake – let him.

What the hell do you expect in Massachusetts?

Poor old Groper Joe; when you’ve lost MSNBC…

This Week’s Idiots:

Paul Krugman is a partisan hack, and an idiot.

This woman is an idiot.

The Iranian “Navy” is apparently populated with idiots.

And So…

I’m actually kind of looking forward to our upcoming road trip.

It’s always fun to see the countryside.  And even when confined to this little apartment in NJ during the Moo Goo Gai Panic, most days Mrs. Animal and I are generally involved in our own work during the day and don’t often just sit and talk.  But on road trips, while on the road we do nothing else but talk, and I enjoy that a lot.

So, on the road again!

Hitting the road.

And with that, we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.

Animal’s Daily Chickens Roosting News

Mark Antony – Toxic Masculinity?

Don’t miss the latest Profile in Toxic Masculinity over at Glibertarians!

The Obama Administration pulled a particularly boneheaded stunt with the Fast and Furious gun-walking scheme.  Now those chickens are coming home to roost.  Bawk bawk.  Excerpt:

The Mexican government is still waiting for an apology for Operation Fast and Furious, an illegal and secret gun running scheme implemented during the Obama administration. 

“Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his government would send a diplomatic note to Washington for information on the 2009-2011 operation known as ‘Fast and Furious,’ a topic that has resurfaced in recent days amid a debate over historic U.S.-Mexico cooperation on security and possible corruption under previous administrations,” Reuters reports

During the operation from 2009-2010, thousands of AK-47s, .50 caliber rifles and other weapons were purposely allowed by ATF and Department of Justice officials to be purchased illegally by straw buyers at gun stores in the United States and trafficked over the border into Mexico. ATF officials sat by as thousands of guns “walked.” They argued this was done to trace weapons to the upper echelons of Mexican cartels, but out of thousands of firearms, only two were rigged with GPS devices that died within hours of crossing the border. 

On December 14, 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, a former police officer and U.S. Marine, was shot and killed while on a BORTAC mission near Rio Rico, Arizona. The weapons left at the scene were obtained through Operation Fast and Furious. 

Ah, but who isn’t nostalgic for that good old scandal-free Obama White House?  And it’s important to remember why they did this:  To gen up public support for gun-control legislation in the U.S., even though the Fast and Furious weapons represent a small fraction of the weapons in the hands of Mexican cartels today.

Mexico is right to demand an apology for this, as it was a fuck-up of the first order, but they’re about three and a half years too late; it is former President Obama and his machine politician/AG Holder that should apologize for this fiasco, not the Trump Administration.

But where, one might ask, will any accountability lie?  The answer is as obvious as it is disappointing:  Nowhere.   There will be no price paid for this Charlie Foxtrot, not by the former President, by his partisan hack of a former AG, not by anyone.  The families of Mexican law enforcement that were killed will see no justice done; neither will the family of Brian Terry.

What, you didn’t think equal treatment under the law was still a thing in this country, did you?

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

National treasure Judge Andrew Napalitano weighs in on the various petty tyrants flexing their coronavirus muscles.  Excerpt:

The current interferences with the exercise of rights protected by the Bill of Rights devolve around travel, assembly, interstate commercial activities and the exercise of religious beliefs.

These infringements have all come from state governors who claim the power to do so, and they raise three profound constitutional issues.

The first is: Do governors have inherent power in an emergency to craft regulations that carry the force of law? The answer is no. The Guarantee Clause of the Constitution mandates a republican (lowercase “r”) form of government in the states.

That means the separation of powers into three branches, each with a distinct function that cannot constitutionally be performed by either of the other two. Since only a representative legislature can write laws that carry criminal penalties and incur the use of force, the governor of a state cannot constitutionally write laws.

The second constitutional issue is: Can state legislatures delegate away to governors their law-making powers?

Again, the answer is no because the separation of powers prevents one branch of government from ceding to another branch its core powers. The separation was crafted not to preserve the integrity of each branch but to assure the preservation of personal liberty by preventing the accumulation of too much power in any one branch.

We are not talking about a state legislature delegating to a board of medical examiners in the executive branch the power to license physicians. We are talking about delegating away a core power — the authority to create crimes and craft punishments. Such a delegation would be an egregious violation of the Guarantee Clause.

The third constitutional issue is: Can a state legislature enact laws that interfere with personal liberties protected by the Bill of Rights, prescribe punishments for violations of those laws and authorize governors to use force to compel compliance?

Again, the answer is no because all government in America is subordinate to the natural rights articulated in the Bill of Rights and embraced in the Ninth Amendment.

We should rejoice that there is resistance to gubernatorial ignorance and arrogance that disregards the Bill of Rights. We need resistance to tyranny in order to stay free. Power unresisted continues to grow and to corrupt.

History teaches that most people prefer the illusion of safety to the cacophony of liberty. The only reason we have civil liberties today is because generations of determined minorities — starting with the revolutionaries in the 1770s — have fought for them.

Read the whole thing.  Judge Napolitano neatly lays out the Constitution’s prohibitions on precisely the kind of overreaching by Imperial, State and local politicians that we’re seeing today.

Not that there hasn’t been pushback, and not that some pols’ approval ratings haven’t suffered; in our own ever-increasingly-statist Colorado, Governor Polis’s approval ratings on his handling of this crisis are in the toilet.  That may or may not amount to a hill of beans when he faces re-election in 2022, of course.  Two and a half years are an eternity in politics.  And as for the odds of seeing some renaissance of liberty in the wake of this emergency, I’m cautiously hopeful but the Judge is not; as he cogently points out, “History teaches that most people prefer the illusion of safety to the cacophony of liberty.

The Constitution is supposed to be the ultimate law of the land.  The Bill of Rights does not include any clause stating “…unless it’s an emergency.”  Pols at all levels are currently doing things they have no power to do, and not enough people are calling them on it.  And Judge Napolitano is likely right; most folks prefer the illusion of safety, and it is indeed an illusion, as no subject of overbearing government is ever truly safe.  One need look no farther into the past than the twentieth century for a wealth of examples.

Rule Five 1776 Friday III

For the past few weeks RealClearPublicAffairs has been running what they are calling the 1776 series.  I recommend reading them all.  Here’s the description:

The 1776 Series is a collection of original essays that explain the foundational themes of the American experience. Commissioned from distinguished historians and scholars, these essays contribute to the broader goal of the American Civics project: providing an education in the principles and practices that every patriotic citizen should know.

This week I’ll be providing some commentary that some of you may differ with (hardly the first time I’ve done that!) as this week we’ll look at Religion and the Moral Foundations of American Democracy by Carson Holloway.  Full disclosure:  I’m an atheist.  Selected excerpts, with my comments:

According to social scientists, traditional religiosity is in decline in contemporary America. Fewer Americans identify as members of long-established churches. Fewer Americans attend religious services on a weekly basis than in generations past.

This is certainly true, and not just in America, but over the developed Western world in general.  Is it a bad thing?  Well, as an areligious person myself, I can only give a qualified answer:  “That depends.”  But let’s move on.

Some Americans view these developments in purely empirical terms, as evidence of a changing culture. Others, critics of traditional religion, take the decline of American religion as a desirable trend, a sign of liberation from outmoded beliefs and irrational superstitions unsuitable to a modern, rational age.

While I am not an evangelical atheist – I never have harbored any notion that I was smart enough to tell anyone else how to live – I do tend to agree with that latter statement.  But here’s where this essay, to my mind, wanders off course:

Neither of these assessments, however, is consistent with the mainstream American political tradition. That tradition views religion not as a private concern, the decline of which would be a mere sociological curiosity, nor as a relic of an unenlightened past with which the contemporary world can happily dispense. Instead, it regards religion as an essential element of America’s political culture. According to this venerable understanding, the American regime cannot attain its ends—that is to say, America cannot truly be America—in the absence of widespread religious belief and practice among its citizens.

Look at that last sentence:

According to this venerable understanding, the American regime cannot attain its ends—that is to say, America cannot truly be America—in the absence of widespread religious belief and practice among its citizens.

I don’t think this is the case.

This essay seems to operate on a pro forma assumption that religion is the only possible basis for morality.  That’s a canard.   From an essay of my own from some time back:

Speaking for myself – and I presume to speak only for myself, in itself a moral decision – I do not need a higher power to tell me what the right way is to behave.  I already know the difference between right and wrong.  I live a moral life not because someone or something else requires me to, but because I choose to do so, because it is the right thing to do.  I have distinct ideas on how a moral person should comport themselves in a free, moral society.  Moreover, I have very distinct ideas on how human society should conduct itself, morally.  How do I define right and wrong?  Conducting yourself in a moral manner is right.  Conducting yourself against accepted codes of moral behavior is wrong.

On what things do I, as a moral person, base my morality?  I base morality on that highest of human conditions, the only one that truly reflects the concept of natural rights:  Liberty.  I base morality on the fundamental right to the fruits of one’s own effort:  Property.

Holloway continues:  We may be tempted to look complacently on the decline of American religion, thinking that rights and freedom are modern and desirable, while religion is a burdensome relic of the past. The American Founders, however, and the political tradition they initiated, would warn us that such thinking is mistaken. Religion supports the morality necessary to a free society—and so, as Washington taught, we have both patriotic and pious motives to encourage religious belief and practice. As Alexis de Tocqueville, a friend and friendly critic of American democracy, wrote in 1835, “Despotism can do without faith, but liberty cannot. . . . And what is to be done with a people that is its own master, if it is not obedient to God?”  

What de Tocqueville (who I generally find inspiring and have quoted regularly) is engaging in here is an ipse dixit (“he said it himself”) assertion of fact without evidence.  It is perfectly possible and, I would say, preferable, to have a moral society based on nothing more than a universal acceptance of the two principles I have listed above:  Liberty and Property.

Now, with that said, atheist I have been and will remain, but you will find no stauncher defender of freedom of conscience than I.  It is an inextricable part of the principle of liberty; you cannot have freedom without freedom of conscience, which includes your freedom to believe and my freedom to not believe.

That is something, I think, that the author overlooked.

Animal’s Daily Fallacy of “We” News

I stumbled across this the other day at Capitalism Magazine and found it interesting:  The Fallacy of “We.”  Excerpt:

The fallacy of “we” is a form of the fallacy argumentum ad populum or “appeal to the people,” to “popular opinion.” In epistemology it emerges as the coherence theory of truth, which clashes with the correspondence theory of truth. The coherence theory says an idea is true of it is compatible with other ideas one holds and/or with those held by others. The correspondence theory says an idea is true only if derived from (and validated by) the facts of reality, regardless of how many people hold the idea. Of course, fantasy worlds are “internally” consistent, but that doesn’t make them real.

Beyond epistemology, there is also a moral aspect to “the fallacy of we.” By now it is almost universally denied that ethics can be scientific, that a moral code can be objectively delineated and defended. It’s not true, but it’s popular, thus seen as true.[1] We’re taught that ethics must be based either on dogmatism or subjectivism, from a prophet’s scripture or one’s feelings. Again, it’s not true, but it’s a popular view.

Vox Dei, Vox Intellentia, Vox Populi

Consider three possible sources of truth through the ages: vox dei (the voice of “God”), vox intellentia (the voice of reason), and vox populi (the voice of the people).  Medieval times held that whatever was heard from God or “his” prophets was true, while whatever commandments were issued were moral. Then came an anti-Medieval revolution, the Enlightenment, which held that only reason discerning reality could validate what was both true and moral. Then came the counter-Enlightenment of Kant-Hegel-Marx, ushering in the false and fatal idea that neither God nor reason but instead the masses determine what is true and moral.

A free society – a society that has at its heart the two primary values of Liberty and Property – can only have the voice of reason, tempered to some degree with the voice of the people, as its moral framework.  The United States was originally set up with this built into its structure.  For example:  The House of Representatives represents the vox populi, while the Senate in its original form, with Senators appointed by the State legislatures, was supposed to represent the vox intellentia.

That hasn’t worked out so well in today’s world, of course.  Populism has always been present, and of late in the U.S. and Europe, it’s seeing a resurgence; and the problem is, as this article notes, the reliance on the fundamentally collectivist notion of “we.”

There is no “we.”  There is only you and me.  There are no collective or group rights.  There are only individual rights.  There can be no group interests; groups cannot have interests, only individuals can have interests.  That’s not to say that individuals cannot combine resources to advocate for a common interest; the NRA certainly does that.  But the organization can only represent the individual interests of its individual members.

The article concludes:

The next time you hear that “we can’t know anything for certain,” recognize that the statement itself assumes a certitude – hence is self-refuting; if someone specifically is uncertain about something particularly, that’s their problem (or challenge), not yours; it says nothing about what many people know or don’t know. Likewise, if you hear that “we as a society must help the poor” – or “we must combat income and wealth inequality” – ask the speaker if he’s doing so himself, or along with a philanthropic group, and besides, why does he feel it necessary or proper to make his goals or values the goals and values of others without their consent and against their will. And so on.

The idea is to meet each “we fallacy” with the query; “Who is ‘we,’ exactly, and why should collectivism be your default, when individualism is the proper approach?

In other words:  “What’s this ‘we’ shit, Kemosabe?”

This closing statement presents an excellent argument; sadly, I think it’s an argument we’ve already lost, in no small part because the vox populi has drowned out the vox intellentia.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Two weeks from Saturday, and we pull out of New-Friggin’-Jersey.  That can’t come too soon.  We’ll be traveling the week of Memorial Day, stopping in Iowa along the way to visit some family; I’ll try to have regular posts up but may have to resort to some placeholders.  And boy howdy, Colorado may be well and truly Californicated these days, but at least it ain’t New Jersey – yet.

And now…

On To the Links!

We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore!

Turns out elephants and armadillos get sloshed really easily. Who knew?

China’s vanishing trade surplus.

I love the term “Renegade Garden Center.

“Congress shall make no law” applies to Governors, as well – consult the 14th Amendment, please.  No law means no damn law!

Well, she sure didn’t think that through.

Oh, pleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease!

A Tale of Two Pandemics.  Complete with Woodstock reference.

“I have to pay my bills.”  In other words, screw you, Mr. Governor, I’m re-opening.

November 2016:  Polls indicate 97% odds of Hillary Clinton winning the election!

The story of horses and humans may have started almost six thousand years ago.

This Week’s Idiots:

Paging Dr. Darwin, Dr. Charles Darwin.

New Hampshire (Former!) State Rep. Richard Komi (D) is an idiot.

Tom Perez is an idiot.

Crazy Eyes is still an idiot.  Furthermore, she’s becoming tedious.

And So…

I don’t have any more deep thoughts for today, so instead, let’s have a reminder of less socially-distanced times from the archives:

And on that sunny note, we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.