Archive for September 2013
If we want to reach our culture with conservative political/economic principles and/or Christianity (I recognize that not everyone believes as I do), we need to understand the thought processes of the culture around us. That can be sort of hard when the world view of our culture is in flux.
Politically, Modernism strongly influenced the United States. “We hold these truths to be self-evident” is a modernist statement. The following clause “endowed by Our Creator” is evidence that early modernists did not reject faith as having a place in reality. There is truth, our Founders said, and we can know truth if we are open to it.
Unfortunately, Modernism took a nasty turn. It became dictatorial. It increasingly focused on scientific studies as the only way to see the world. Metaphysics were shunted aside in favor of that which could be understood by the slide-rule and microscope.
Postmodernism reacted against Modernism, recognizing that scientists are often wrong and that our understanding of reality is influenced by our perceptual apparatus.
Here’s an example.
To my husband’s sister, it is a verifiable truth that the world is overcrowded. She looks outside her window in a East Coast state and sees a mass of people living in houses that are squeezed together on tiny little lots. She drives crowded highways and shops in crowded malls. She sees television shows that show the throngs of people in Mumbai and Singapore. Clearly, the world is overcrowded.
To me, the world is not all that overcrowded. I look outside my window in Alaska and I see houses on larger lots with just a few people living inside each. My brother can’t even see his neighbors from his deck. I drive on highways that are only briefly crowded during rush hour. I go hiking in the woods and see nobody for days. I wonder why people in Mumbai choose to live on top of one another. I know, because I’ve studied, that the entire human population could fit in the state of Texas standing up with elbow room, and that only about 25% of American land is even lightly used. Clearly, the world is not so overcrowded.
We both are educated people who have access to the same evidence, but our different perspectives color how we view the world. That acknowledgment is a gift of Postmodernism. It’s often stated as “truth is relative”, but in reality, the perception of truth is subjective.
An atheist can look at the evidence of the natural world and say there is no god and there is no necessity for god because the natural world is sufficient in and of itself to create and sustain itself.
A person of faith can look at the exact same evidence of the natural world and praise God for creating and sustaining it.
Perspective changes everything. And, we owe Postmodernism a debt of gratitude for teaching us that. Had we stuck with Modernism, Christianity would have been doomed by the constant insistence that only scientists are qualified to make truth statements. Postmodernism allows for freedom of thought, for divergent opinion. That’s a good thing because in that evironment, if it actually existed, Christianity would just be another point of view with equal validity.
Unfortunately, that’s not really the world we live in, which is why we do not owe Postmodernism our souls and we should be relieved that the postmodern era is slowly giving way to the next.
For once, it might be a good idea for Christians to decide our reaction to this cultural movement early on rather than coming late to the party and looking foolish. This warning also operates for political conservatives. There’s a sea change coming. Are we ready for it?
It’s a dark thought, but we’re looking into the dustbin of history. The United States of America as conceived by the Founding generation is … well, it isn’t. It hasn’t been for a long time.
Maybe it went away before it even started when our Founders thought it wise to allow some men to own other men … in violation of that First Principle of “ALL men are created equal.”
Maybe it went away when it was newly minted when the next generation thought it wise to remove the Indians from their ancestral lands … in violation of that First Principle of “ALL men are created equal.”
Maybe it went away when my abolitionist ancestors, with the best of intentions, demanded that the government by the people, for the people and of the people force some of the people to give up what they deemed to be their property in order that we recognize that “ALL men are created equal.”
Maybe it went away when a president chose to prosecute a war against those who refused to acquiesce to the demands of my abolitionist ancestors. Which men are more equal than other men?
Maybe it went away when, after the abolitionists won the war, we allowed greedy capitalist bastards to subjugate those states that had lost the war. Which men are more equal than other man?
Maybe it went away when the United States Army massacred American Indians who refused to leave the first set of prison lands we put them on.
Maybe it went away when we didn’t allow Chinese immigrants to become citizens.
Maybe it went away when we set up the administrative state to control our affairs, allowing our servants to become our masters.
Maybe it went away when we interred the Japanese-Americans because we assumed the Japanese part of them was stronger than the American part of them. Which men are more equal than other men?
Maybe it went away when we decided it was okay for convicted felons to be denied the same liberties as those who have never been caught in their crimes. Which men are more equal than other men?
Maybe it went away when men would not allow women to vote or own lands or conduct businesses. Are men more equal than women?
In the litany of abuses of liberty, there’s a pattern. All pigs are equal … some pigs are more equal than other pigs. Yeah, Huxley wrote a fiction hit piece against communistic socialism, but are we in the United States really any better?
In Dearborn, Michigan, non-Muslims complain that they can hear the calls to prayer of their Muslim neighbors. That offends them, they say. We have freedom of religion … unless we don’t like your religion. Meantime, here in Fairbanks, my neighborhood endures another call to reverence about six times a day. Ft. Wainwright Army Base is just a block away and they play music over a loud-speaker throughout the day. Sorry, I don’t know the names of the songs other than Taps, but there’s one to wake up in the morning, one to go to work, one to get off work and one to wind down for the night and one to go to bed and ….
Apparently we don’t mind calls to reverence so long as they’re not Muslim.
I’m free to believe in God, so long as my God believes it’s okay for gay people to fornicate. If He doesn’t, than I should quit believing in Him. If I don’t, I might find myself fined or imprisoned or …. Well, not yet, but we’re getting there. Is it really any worse than when we said it was against the law for consenting adults to do whatever they pleased in the privacy of their own bedrooms?
In past generations, I would have been told that I was less-than because I’m part American Indian or because I’m a woman. Today I’m told I’m less-than if (IF) I am as proud of my white ancestry as I am of my Indian blood. Don’t I know that being a “person of color” is far more worthy than being a WASP? WASPs are losing power and should. They were so horrible, brutal, tyrannical, murdering, genocidal — see examples above.
Which men are more equal than other men?
Why are we surprised that we’ve come to this position in our history? We’ve always been at this position, depending on what group you belonged to. Indian, black, Southerner, female, Chinese, Japanese, Irish, Papist (that’s Catholic for the historically challenged), Muslim, Mormons ….
We have violated our First Principle often and dramatically over the last 240 years. The only difference is that today a minority of one form or another is increasingly subjugating a majority that has never been subjugated in this country and doesn’t know what to do about it. Oh, we’re told it’s for the best of intentions. Don’t you feel all the warm fuzzies? No, me neither.
Are we done or is this just a turning point? Will something better be beyond or will future generations talk about us like we talk about the Roman Empire?
Dark thoughts! How do we get back to our First Principles when we’ve never really exercised our First Principle?
pundit from another planet
Donlyn Turnbull writes: Immediately after Texas Senator Ted Cruz finished his 21-hour mother of all speeches, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid killed the euphoria by responding with some blunt words for the freshman Senator as well as the Tea Party. “I do believe that what we have here with the so-called Tea Party is a new effort to strike government however they can, to hurt government,” Reid said. “Any day that government is hurt is a good day for them. It’s, as I said before, the new anarchy.”
After I dug my nails out of my desk, I thought at length about what Sen. Reid said and his words “the new anarchy” in particular. Firstly, the Greek word anarchy translated literally means “no ruler”. And typically when I think of anarchists I think of Occupy Wall Street or anyone at Starbucks at 8 in the morning. Both crowds can be equally unruly.
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Forgive me because this is going to ramble a bit.
When I use the word “anarchy”, I don’t mean armed gangs of bullies patrolling the streets abusing those who aren’t as armed or aggressive. I use the little “a” as in little or no government. And, I don’t go as far as the guys over at Patriot’s Lament.
Patriot’s Lament is available on AM 600 KFAR Saturday mornings 9 am to 11 am (streaming on the web at the KFAR website) or they have a Blog Spot site.
The guys at PL (and I’d probably be more “sold” if they had some women speaking out on their site) think it will be just fine if we had no government. They consider it slavery to pay taxes or vote. I appreciate what they do on Saturday’s morning in putting their thoughts and research out there to the general public. That’s why I link them periodically. However, I don’t entirely agree with them.
I agree with them that the US government reached a tipping point in the last decade where there is no real opportunity to put it back into the limited government box it was supposed to exist in. When Thomas Sowell wrote last week that the House shouldn’t try to defund ObamaCare because it wouldn’t work (it won’t get through the Senate and Obama will veto it) and threatening a government shut down was not worth the political risk to the Republicans, I knew we’d crossed a bridge that burned behind us.
Individual liberty is over as an American concept under the United States of America. The Health Insurance Exchanges open on Tuesday and once the ACA is in place, we will never get rid of it. I predict that within a decade Americans will be like the English, seeing about 60% of our income going to taxes and medical coverage.
Anyone want to argue that individual liberty is possible when you’re forced to live on 40% of your income?
Of course, the ACA was not the first shackle to go around our wrists. It’s just the latest and the most destructive. It’s the bridge too far and the straw that will break the camel’s back. If the country hadn’t given Obama a second term, maybe … but we did … and do we really think that Mittens (author of Romney Care) would have voted to set aside the ACA if he were sitting in the White House now? I expect more arguments about it in the near-future, but it’s done. Sometime in the future, we’ll elect a Republican president and a Republican House (maybe even a Republic Senate) and they’ll futz with the formula, all the while saying they can’t repeal it because people count on the coverage. Our premiums will continue rising dramatically until the entire middle-class is subsidized and then our elected tyrants will install universal health coverage because that was the plan (of BOTH political parties) all along. Bye-bye, liberty! It’s been nice knowing you.
Which leaves us ….
The United States of America as my parents knew it has been slowly dissolving like an ice sculpture in an Alaskan March for more than a century now. The only reason my parents didn’t know about it was that they lived in the Western states and came to Alaska. The “blue states” lost their liberty first, but the “red states” don’t really have liberty either. The evidence is all around us and it’s not going away. I don’t know if we can identify any one wrong turn. There have been a lot of them. The growth of the administrative state was one of the largest, but something within our society allowed that to take root when we shouldn’t have allowed it.
Maybe the guys at Patriot’s Lament are right and all government will always become tyrannical. Our Founders thought that would be the case, but they also believed that the system they were setting up could be adjusted back on track. I think — realists that they were — they would say it’s a hopeless cause right now.
Which leaves us ….
To be honest … the tyranny is here right now. The ACA affects all of us, forcing us to spend money on something we may not even need and may not want. The State Troopers have armored vehicles now and the EPA is showing up at mines to do water inspections with armed officers. This winter the State of Alaska plans to cite homeowners in Fairbanks for burning wood for home heating during air-quality alerts. I plan to burn wood then anyway. I’ll let you know how that works out.
We always say we’ll resist the latest tyranny, but Americans as a rule do not. The guys at PL say we’re the “most armed slaves on the face of the planet”. Maybe they have a point. We have this history of revolution, of tossing off a dictatorial system and embracing something much less dictatorial, but for the last 100 years we’ve watched our freedoms dissolve like an ice sculpture and we’ve complained and voted and complained and voted and … yeah, we’ve really not doing anything to change our circumstances.
Collapse is coming. Sorry if that disappoints you, but today I don’t feel hopeful. The ACA is such a massive government takeover of a portion of our economy that collapse is inevitable. Beyond the attempt to defund ObamaCare, do any of us believe that the Senate is going to acquiesce to the House and actually fix our spending problem? There’s a large railroad bridge, partially finished, in Alaska that I want to sell you if you actually believe that’s going to happen. If they cut PROJECTED spending by 5% over the next five years I’ll be gob-smacked. You?
So the federal government is going away. Probably not tomorrow. The “experts” say by mid-century. I think by 2020. In the meantime, I think the tyranny will grow worse because the feds need to raise taxes to stay afloat and pay for the ACA. We’re not talking a little bit of taxes either. We’re talking 60% of ALL of our incomes just to keep up with current spending. Forget that the interest on the debt will balloon and by 2025 be equal to the entire GDP of the nation. There are those here on Word Press who believe we can just default on the debt or that the “red states” can secede and default on our portion of the debt and it will be fine. With due respect — and I do have respect for their opinions — it shows a lack of economic realism and a lack of understanding of international dynamics.
Tough times are coming and there’s no avoiding it.
The salient question might be:
Is the federal government going to go away when it collapses in unsustainable debt or because of the Second American Revolution? And which course of action would be better if we want to maintain liberty and have a hope of our children not starving?
What replaces it?
I think America was and has the potential to be “exceptional”, but I’m uncomfortable with the sort of exceptionalism that our leaders put forth. That smacks more of imperialism than a recognition of worth and I think America works best when we’re not imperialist, but I admit that we have become imperialist.
President Obama recently spoke before the UN and said America is exceptional because we “sacrifice blood and treasure to stand up for … the interests of all” (referring to our interference with the internal workings of nations around the globe). Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized that conceit in a New Times op-ed, saying it is “extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional”. This odd advocacy for humility prompted Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint to fire back that “all humans are created equal, but not all nations are created equal” and John McCain to argue that “the world is better” for active US leadership. Given that McCain and Obama ran against each other in 2008, I’m going to concentrate more on their statements.
Is being “exceptional” based on an imperialist stance? I don’t think the latter necessarily flows from the former. Exceptionalism is about recognizing that what we have (or, increasingly, had) is (or was) something great. Imperialism is about imposing that something great on others.
Looking back in American history, it appears our forebears always recognized the unique feature that is America. We started with a bold statement “all men are created equal” by men who considered it perfect acceptable to seize the reins of government away from their “god-ordained” king. The Founding generation had little interest in interfering with other nations. They verbalized support for some revolutions that were moving toward self-governance, but they gave no money or troops to most. We fought the Barbary pirates because they were interfering with American trade, but we didn’t invade their country and try to turn them into an American-type republic. In George Washington’s 1794 farewell address, he wrote:
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it … The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.
Washington advocated restraint because he was devoted to the peace and permanency of the Union, with the goal of preserving domestic peace at all costs. He recognized that the US enjoyed a peculiarly “detached and distance situation” from other nations, a position that “invites and enables us to pursue a different course.”
The Founding era idea of American exceptionalism was more about what America doesn’t do than what it does. Early American policy at home and abroad was about national self-restrain more than national self-assertion. Our political connections and involvement now extend far beyond European friendships and enmities. Our global interference around the globe is now routine.
Yale sociologist William Graham Sumner criticized nascent American imperialism in 1899, noting that by claiming it had a unique civilizing mission to perform, America sounded just like every other major power at the end of the 19th century.
“There is not a civilized nation which does not talk about its civilizing mission just as grandly as we do,” he said, referring to the French, Germans, Russians, Ottoman Turks, and Spanish.
Washington would strongly reject the “exceptionalism” expressed by today’s American politicians. He saw domestic concerns as our most important issues. Our current president, who is quite certain that he himself is exceptional, defines strict national interests as “narrow” and selfish. We must interfere with other countries because we’re better than they are.
We were better than many other countries, but as we have attempted to force our governing system and culture on “lesser” nations, we have degraded our own exceptionalism. If we were to return to our ideals, we might recapture that unique position once more. If we are to preserve any part of our nation, we would do well to return to those ideas that made us great, return a time when Sumner’s warning made sense.
America’s governing system worked because it did NOT do things like other nations. We were characterized by what we did NOT do. We let individuals govern themselves. We didn’t have the huge administrative state of France. We had no king like England. We stayed home and paid attention to our domestic concerns and made people from all over the world want to come here to live.
That is exceptionalism without imperialism. Can we get back to that?
The majority of Americans do not necessarily know what they want. They have opinions on specific issues, but they haven’t thought about how those issues work together or the ultimate outcome of some of those opinions. This lack of serious thought about our national condition explains the current public opinion on defunding ObamaCare by tying it to the budget.
Americans still overwhelmingly HATE ObamaCare. I know, NPR says we don’t want it defunded per a Hart-McInturff survey, but let’s look at this clearly. HM Polls surveyed 800 Americans. I checked out the poll, which is questionable given the small sample size and the results were that the tiny little fraction of Americans surveyed didn’t want a government shutdown in order to defund ObamaCare. They found that 59% oppose defunding ObamaCare if it means a government shutdown and 44% oppose defunding ObamaCare under any circumstances. I found those numbers suspect, mainly because 800 people do not speak for 330 million.
So, I went over to Rasmussen, which typically surveys larger slices of the population to insure accuracy, and found a clear picture.
Most voters still don’t like the ACA and inspect it to increase, not reduce, health care costs. That’s 53% of those polled view it unfavorably, with 38% viewing it very unfavorably. Fifty-six percent favor delaying the individual mandate and 53% think the ACA will increase the deficit.
Forty-two percent of Republic-affiliated voters favor using the shutdown strategy to stop funding the ACA. At the same time, 56% of those polled think a government shutdown would be bad for the economy, even though payments for things like Social Security, Medicare and unemployment continued.
Interestingly 58% favor a federal budget that cuts spending. This might explain why 53% overall favor a partial government shutdown until Democrats and Republicans can agree on what spending to cut. Fifty-one percent (51%) favor having a partial government shut down until the two major parties agree on what spending for the health care law to cut.
So what we’ve learned here is that polls can be manipulated and that pundits will draw the conclusion they want from the polls and that the American people know what they don’t like, but they aren’t willing to do what it takes to fix things.
I don’t really care which party is “hurt” by this battle. I think tough choices need to be made and if I vote for a major party candidate in the future, it will be the candidates who voted to defund ObamaCare. I don’t fear a government “shutdown” because it’s a misnomer. The military will still get paid and entitlement checks will still go out.
Denali National Park is closing for the winter anyway, so what do I care if the Parks Service is furloughed?
And, that’s really the important thing to recognize. Most of the services that will be affected by a shut down are non-essentials like the Smithsonian Museums and the national parks. So what if you can’t go to them for a few weeks? Compared to the future ObamaCare will visit upon us all, that’s a small price to pay.
Allow me to offer a slightly different view on this.
I will preface by saying that I do not agree with neo-Nazis. They are idiots! Pure and simple. As someone who is part American Indian, I wouldn’t allow a neo-Nazi group to run me off either.
The United States of America is a pluralistic society. In truth, we always have been, according to our ideals. Practically speaking, we’ve often failed in that ideal. We all want freedom of speech, but we don’t want freedom of speech for those we disagree with.
Do you see my problem?
Even idiots have a right to talk nonsense and it should not be necessary for the police to protect them so that they can talk nonsense.
It also pains me to inform folks who may not know this, but the most racist racial group in America (in my experience) is American Indians who live on reservations. So, I’m a bit suspicious of the narrative to the “good, anti-racist Indians.” More likely we’ve got two racist groups having a urination contest.
2012 The Awakening
Love to see activism like this, there’s nothing like Unity consciousness in action…go Leith, N Dakota!
In an update to the story we ran yesterday on the town of Leith, North Dakota being taken over by Neo-Nazi racists, Michael Pugliese tells us from the ground that “Lakota, Dakota, Anishinabe, Apache, African, Irish, German, Norwegian, Spanish, and other anti-racist individuals stood together to fight against the attempted nazi takeover of Leith, North Dakota.”
Pugliese documents the activism “led by indigenous resistors” who are seen “making a presence to ensure that neo nazi/confederate fascists know they have no chance of taking over Leith.”
In the photos we see police protecting Neo-Nazis, “making sure they’re allowed to continue with their white power nonsense” according to Pugliese.
“In the end, it was people power that sent the…
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