Free Men Bear Arms

Herschel Smith · 15 Dec 2014 · 3 Comments

Mike Vanderboegh: You know the Founders were as suspicious of unrestrained democracy as they were of absolute monarchy. Both can be tyrannical. Both can be deadly. Both are threats to life and liberty and property. This is why they crafted a constitutional republic. The Founders knew that the mob could be manipulated by cynical elites to rob other citizens of their liberty, their property and their lives – cynical elites, wealthy men, powerful men, with unceasing appetites for more and more…… [read more]

When Getting to the Super Bowl is Not Enough: Republicans, Grow Up

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 6 months ago

Hat tip Hot Air.

In an interview with The Daily Caller, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) expressed profound regrets about the four years during the George W. Bush presidency when Republicans had control of Congress:

“During the Bush administration, they had four years where the Republicans controlled the House, the Senate and the executive branch. We had a great opportunity to do great reform to fix what was wrong with this country. We didn’t do it — that’s where careerism comes in,” Coburn told TheDC.

“Careerism isn’t just a problem for Democrats. It’s a problem for Republicans too. When the number one goal is to make yourself look good at home, rather than fulfill your oath and fix what the country needs to have fixed, you’re actually adding to our downward spiral, and so I think it was a missed opportunity of tremendous proportions that the Republicans didn’t embrace what they said they believed in during those times.”

***

In his new book, “The Debt Bomb: A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting America,” Coburn writes about a phone conservation he had with President Bush.

“The night of my victory in 2004, I received a call from President Bush. After he congratulated me, I said, ‘Mr. President, I’m looking forward to helping you cut spending.’ There was nothing but silence on the other end,” Coburn writes.

“By the end of 2004, Republicans were becoming increasingly agitated about President Bush’s excessive spending. I was determined to follow through on my campaign promise to go after earmarks and wasteful spending even if it meant clashing with my own party.”

Good of Senator Coburn to express these sentiments some eight years later.  Better late than never, I suppose.  But Coburn does not quite capture the essence of those times.   The problem then (as now) is not politicians trying to “look good” to the voters back home.  The problem is much deeper and more parasitic.

The problem, first and foremost, is the overwhelming power that has been invested, over the last 100 years, in the central government in D.C.  Our Founding Fathers could never have imagined the sheer size and scope of the Federal Leviathan today.   If so, it is doubtful that they would have proceeded with the Constitution as written.  This enormous power hopelessly corrupts all but the most invulnerable persons who spend any length of time in the Capitol.   It is not about looking good, Senator Coburn, it is about wielding power and influence that garners great wealth, special treatment, exemption from the laws that apply to the rest of us citizens, incessant flattery from hordes of sycophants and an almost irresistible temptation to hang onto to this power at all costs.

If there is anything like a glimmer of light at the end of this long, dark Debt Tunnel, it may be the election of principled conservatives to Congress who will not cave in to the “careerists” in Congress already infected with the power disease.

The danger is that new Congress Critters may fall into the same psychological trap that many an NFL team has fallen into when they make it to the Super Bowl: Just Happy To Be Here.

It is fine to talk about changing Washington and restoring the Constitution while on the campaign trail and let’s grant that all the talk is sincere and deeply authentic.   Nonetheless, like those hapless NFL teams that struggle against all odds to appear in the championship game only to be trounced by a veteran opponent, it is an open question whether freshmen in 2013 will be awed just to walk the halls of Congress and forget all about playing for keeps.

Conservative Voters Will Re-Elect Obama (Or Not)

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 10 months ago

According to this article by Nate Silver in The New York Times:

Among the Republicans that the polling firm classified as definite voters, Mr. Santorum’s lead was larger, 11 points over Mr. Romney. However, Mr. Romney led Mr. Santorum 33 to 22 among voters the pollsters classified as more marginal.

Ordinarily, a candidate should benefit from having the support of more definite voters — and most polling firms give them the bulk of the weight in their turnout models, which is why Mr. Santorum leads the poll over all.

The universe of indefinite voters is broader. But those votes don’t count for anything unless the candidate can get the voters to the polls.

That’s something Mr. Romney has had trouble doing so far. In states and counties that would appear to be strong for him, turnout is generally running below its 2008 pace. But in his weaker areas — say, most of the state of South Carolina — it has been steady or has improved some.

The discrepancy may help explain why Mr. Santorum has a larger lead, 15 points, in another poll of Michigan from Public Policy Polling. That firm projects Michigan’s electorate to be decidedly more conservative than it was in 2008. For instance, it projects 48 percent of the voters to be evangelical Christians, up from 39 percent in 2008, and 38 percent of voters to be “very conservative,” up from 24 percent.

One can debate whether these are realistic assumptions or not. The Republican electorate as a whole has become somewhat more conservative than in 2008, but the poll is projecting a more decisive shift.

Automated polling firms, like Public Policy Polling, often have low response rates, meaning that they tend to poll only the most enthusiastic supporters. At the same time, turnout in primaries and caucuses is normally quite low — so if a poll’s sample is biased in the direction of more enthusiastic voters, it may nevertheless have strong predictive power.

The thrust of the article is a warning to Mitt Romney to step up efforts to get more of “his people” to the polls in the upcoming primary contests.   The big takeaway for me from this article is the bit about an increasingly conservative electorate.   In Michigan of all places, too.   While Mr. Silver downplays this forecast by the polling company, Public Policy Polling, it would go a long way to explaining the electoral tidal wave that occurred in November 2010, something that the Leftist Media seem curiously silent about these days.

If the electorate has made a “decisive shift” to conservative values since 2008, it will be quite difficult for Obama to win reelection.   His election in 2008 was heavily dependent upon:  1) a significant backlash vote against George W. Bush and the Republicans in general;  2) a surge of voting by the college age demographic that traditionally has been quite small in past elections, and; 3) (the most significant factor in my opinion) a marked drop in turnout among conservative voters.

To distill this even further, the election of Obama resulted in large part from a fairly unique convergence of high disaffection with the outgoing President and that president’s party, a New Flavor Candidate that promised change and a moderate GOP candidate that could not stir conservatives to turn out and vote.

The first, two factors will be noticeably absent in 2012.   Obama’s unvetted “Hope and Change” circus is well known now and he will be the focus of blame and dissatisfaction for all the ills of the last 4 years.  The so-called Youth Vote is one of the groups suffering the most and unlikely to vote in anywhere near the numbers in 2008.

The last factor remains undecided and it is Obama’s last, best hope for reelection.

If Obama can secure high turnout from his Leftist base of voters (which amounts to approximately 20% of the voting population) and pick off another 25% of Independents that lean Left or Center Left, he only needs to discourage the conservative vote (which comes in at around 40% of the voting population according to Gallup).     This calculation perfectly explains the policies of Obama in the last months.    The XL Pipeline had to be canned to please his base.   He could not afford to approve it.   The stance on contraception funding in religious organizations was similarly intended to secure the base.   Occupy Wall Street has been organized to stir up the Youth Vote if possible.

The final piece has been Obama’s strategy of bashing every GOP candidate that rises in the polls in the hopes of dispiriting conservatives and depressing their turnout in November.    The Democrat Party and its allies in the media are in non-stop campaign mode to ensure that, no matter who the GOP nominates, conservatives will be dissatisfied and disillusioned.   And the Republican Party has seemingly cooperated in that strategy by launching vicious attacks against each and every candidate, leaving a haze of discouragement.

Given the conservative shift in voting patterns cited by PPP in Nate Silver’s article, the fight over turnout by conservative voters may be the decisive battle of 2012.

Liberals and the Use of Violent Rhetoric: Sticks and Stones to Follow?

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 4 months ago

Peter Berkowitz has an insightful column in the The Wall Street Journal.

He points out the inherent contradiction between the beliefs professed by the Left (tolerance, respect for diversity, the betterment of humanity) and their increasingly vicious rhetoric.

The voters’ message [from the 2010 elections] was clear: Cut spending, compel the government to live within its means, and put Americans back to work. In short, the president and his party badly overreached in 2009 and 2010; and in 2011 the Republicans, to the extent their numbers in Congress allowed, have effectively pushed back.

But that’s not how progressives have tended to see things. They have ferociously attacked congressional Republicans, particularly those closely associated with the tea party movement, with something approaching hysteria.

Consider the unabashed incivility of progressive criticism, its tone dictated from the top. During and after the budget negotiations, we heard that tea party representatives were content with “blowing up our government” (Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne). Then came accusations that “Tea Party Republicans have waged jihad on the American people” (New York Times columnist Joe Nocera), while acting like “a maniacal gang with knives held high” (New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd). At the height of negotiations, Vice President Biden either said, or agreed with House Democrats with whom he was meeting who said, that Congressional Republicans “have acted like terrorists.”

***

How often they have haughtily lectured the nation on the vital importance of civility in public discourse, the urgency of constraining executive power under law, and the need for impartial expertise in public affairs to pragmatically weigh competing public-policy options. But in the debt-limit debate the virtues they profess could hardly have been more spectacularly absent.

The evident panic of the progressive mind stems from a paradox as old as progressivism in America. Progressives see themselves as the only legitimate representatives of ordinary people. Yet their vision of what democracy requires frequently conflicts with what majorities believe and how they choose to live.

Add to this the progressive belief that human beings can be perfected through the rule of experts, and you have a recipe—when the people make choices contrary to progressive dictates—for generating contempt among the experts for the people whose interests they claim to alone represent. And not just contempt, but even disgust at diversity of opinion, which from the progressive’s perspective distracts the people from the policies demanded by impartial reason.

The progressive mind is on a collision course with itself. The clash between its democratic pretensions and its authoritarian predilections has generated within its ranks seething resentment for, and rage at, conservatives. Unless progressives cultivate the enlightened virtues they publicly profess and free themselves from the dogmatic beliefs that undergird their political ambitions, we can expect even more harrowing outbursts to come.

Mr. Berkowitz’s analysis could not be more correct, in so far as it goes.   The problem is that it does not go far enough.

When he writes that “we can expect even more harrowing outbursts to come” he is (consciously or not) pulling his punches.   Words, after all, are just words.  The old “sticks and stones” proverb comes to mind.   There is, then, nothing “harrowing” about what these Leftists have to say.   The real trouble is that this type of vituperation too often leads to corresponding action.   That would be the “sticks and stones can break my bones” part of the equation.  This is where Berkowitz should have gone with his “harrowing” comment.  Because the real, and deeper, contradiction with Liberals and Leftists is that they do not stop at name-calling when their utopian visions of reform at the hands of their elitist programs are resisted.

The lesson of the 20th century is clearly that Leftist visionaries were not averse at “breaking a few eggs” in order to make the proverbial omelette.  Bolshevism, Communism, Fascism, Socialism and even Islamism all seek to subvert the individual to a mindless, communal creature.   If that means gulags, re-education camps, mass starvation and even genocide, that is a price that the Left has always been willing to pay.

And this is where the rhetoric of Democrats and their Leftist enablers is leading.  And that is truly “harrowing.”   How long did it take after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords before the Left was engaging in the violent rhetoric that they claimed should be out of bounds in the aftermath of the shooting?   Months? Weeks?  Days?

The point is that the philosophy of the Left is incompatible with freedom because its sole criteria is to gain power over others and reform them whether the subject wants to be reformed or not.   They are the true Don Corleone who make an offer that society cannot refuse.   Because they are without a moral foundation to constrain them, every tool of coercion and compulsion is available to them.   Deceit, flattery, subterfuge, blackmail, intimidation, violent rhetoric and— finally– actual, physical force.

Recall the rhetoric of the Left during George W. Bush’s presidency.   Beyond ridiculous comparisons of Bush to Adolph Hitler, there were more than a few Liberals openly calling for Bush’s assassination.   The vehemence of those days was palpable.   Now, 3 years later, despite having control of the White House and the Senate, the Left is again reaching frenzied levels of calumny.   What do you suppose will happen if the Left loses the Senate and White House in 2012?    Does anyone think that the Left will respect the results of that election any more than they have respected the results of 2010?

Thankfully the Left is a minority in this country, perhaps some 21% of the population according to one Gallup poll and, according to this same poll, outnumber Liberals in every state except Washington, D.C. (big surprise).  But this is not grounds for complacency or comfort.  This minority of people are extremely well organized and occupy a disproportionate share of the positions of power in government, academia, media and entertainment.   In short, this minority holds the levers of power and propaganda in their hands.  Combine this power with their philosophy to do whatever it takes to cement and expand their power and the new social media that allows mobs to gather literally in an instant and there is considerable damage that the Left can do.   And do not think that they will hesitate to resort to violence.   They already have in Wisconsin when their union power was challenged by a duly elected majority in the State house.

How will the rest of us respond?   Time to start thinking that through, very seriously.


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