A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Politics That Cut One's Heart Out

I'm quite peacefully partisan. This does not mean that I am not partisanly pugnatious. I am. But I am at peace with myself about my partisanship. If I were not, I could not be so forthright here and elsewhere.

Besides my particular political goals and beliefs, I have the overarching viewpoint that the point of politics is policy--the things that can be done by government. In general, a partisan is someone who wants things done. Calls for "centrism" or "non-partisan" government are ultimately futile. The hallmark of a "moderate" political viewpoint is a vision of endless political possibilities with no intellectual principle, other than "being moderate", which can be used to choose between them. This simply paralyses action, and, ultimately, results in a politics for sale to the highest bidder.

When examining politics, it is such principles that are the true touchstones of most partisan views. Issues come and issues go, events make each week a new policy week, but principles endure. As a liberal, I draw my principles directly from the most marvelous government document ever written, the United States Constitution. Our Constitution is one of the clearest and most concise statements of the philosophy of government ever made. Is is also one of the world's most durable pieces of practical governance. As such, it is little short of a miracle.

If there are committee meetings in heaven [I sincerely hope there are not.] the one that forged our Constitution is probably the closest mere mortals will ever emulate them.

"To promote the general welfare." These words tell us that the reason for government intervention by law into private affairs is to promote "the public interest". I sometimes think my adversaries recognize no such principle as the public interest which we all hold in common. When they think about it at all, they take the stance that the private welfare of all individuals is completely identical to the general welfare.

This seems to me to be obviously incorrect on the face of it when any adequate evidence is examined. The interests of the stockholder, say, are not identical to the interests of the corportate employee, though both overlap. The interests of the CEO [particularly the acquiring of the Golden Parachute] are certainly not identical to either the stockholder or the employee, and, in fact, are likely to be detrimental to both.

My adversaries simply cannot face such commonplace evidence which props up the vast bulk of governmental action to establish the "commonwealth"--which is but the public interest under another name. In fact, one of the key emotional components of their worldview is the very selective examination of common facts, to the point of abandoning common sense. This is a capacity they have developed in all areas to the edge of dangerous lunacy.

Securing "the equal protection of the law". This is the most important principle to actively promoting the general welfare because it is the only assurance that we have a level public playing field, where the differentials of money and power do not override opportunity for all. My adversaries seem to think that a level playing field occurs, magically, on its own. Any fair examination of the actual evidence contradicts this. Moreover, the moneyed and empowered interests which stand behind my adversaries, squeezing their adrenal glands on command with smooth and well-financed propaganda to use them "like straw dogs" [the phrase is Lao Tse's] before tossing them aside, have systematicly, deliberately, and quite consciously suborned the principle of equal protection of the law since they began to dominate our politics twenty-five years ago.

If they finally succeed, they will simply burn out the opportunity for a better life, or even to sustain the quality of our current life, for the vast majority of ordinary Americans. You can see the process transpiring right now at your local gas station, and I have written about it in detail here.

Preventing the "establishment of religion". My adversaries generally take the position that any attempt whatever to assert or enforce the "anti-establishment" clause of the first amendment, is a deliberate attempt, from hostile anti-religious motives, to restrict the "free exercise" of Christianity which is also guaranteed by that amendment. Their own genuine religious freedom has warped what very little sense of Christian history they may have ever had.

My Christian Conservative adversaries, in fact, have little or no clue what the word "establishment" actually means. In every country with an "official" Church all of that country's clergy are quasi-civil servants and the Church itself is an arm of government policy. There can be no "free exercise" of religion under such conditions, there can only be mere tolerance of "heterodoxy" and "dissent". Under such conditions, all people who are not members of the "established" church are, inherently, second class citizens, and, throughout much of Christian history, the "heterodox" have not been citizens at all and their religious opinions constituted disloyalty to the Monarch or the State.

Religious tolerance is legally revocable without notice and for any reason. Religious freedom is the legal and permanent commitment by the Commonwealth to step beyond mere tolerance. Moreover, under "establishment" even the clergy of the official religion are not truly free to speak their political minds, any more than secular civil servants are truly free to speak their political minds. In both cases their livelihoods largely depend upon keeping silent. And in the case of "established" clergy, it requires keeping silent even about religious matters if the breach of such silence would offend the current goverment in power.

In short, it is the anti-establishment clause which makes the free exercise clause possible. My adversaries are like those who think water has no taste because they were born with it in their mouths and it has been there ever since. They do not understand how free they truly are nor do they understand that it is the rule of law, both enforced and respected by proactive Government, that keeps them free.

The statements my adversaries make in the political arena simply cut my heart out, because, however honest and good a people they may be, they are offering arsenic to all in the mistaken belief that it is cane sugar. And all this from the lack of fundamental contact with principles that prohibit the selective mental editing of plain fact.

They are largely honest and good. This is why they are even willing to spread the arsenic on their own strawberries in matters such as our prison camp in Cuba and the domestic spying by agencies of our government. They are honest and good even though they are inching ever closer, with the inexorability of fundamentally bad premises, to advocating suspension of the "free exercise" clause for the Muslims within our country in the name of preventing their "inherently treasonous" beliefs.

But all their honesty and goodness will be of no avail after we all eat the strawberries.


Blogger The probligo said...

"To promote the general welfare." These words tell us that the reason for government intervention by law into private affairs is to promote "the public interest". I sometimes think my adversaries recognize no such principle as the public interest which we all hold in common. When they think about it at all, they take the stance that the private welfare of all individuals is completely identical to the general welfare.

I agree with your general thrust, but you missed in that last sentence.

I think I would have worded it thus...

the stance that the private welfare of all individuals is completely and solely identified with my personal welfare.

In other words "only if I get the benefit".

4:37 PM  
Anonymous TFolsom said...

I understand the concern, but reject its’ premise. The antiestablishment clause prevents the establishment of any religion as the official religion of the state. It does not limit the right of anyone to practice their religion, as long as all are treated equally. The question as to atheists’ ability to practice their disbelief is equally guaranteed. As a practical matter this should mean that any civic body (a city government) that will allow any person or group to set up a religious display, at their own cost, is respecting the antiestablishment clause. Now if aetheist have difficulty in coming up with something they beleive in that can be displayed, well that is there problem. AA would reccomend a doorknob.
The issue the courts, ACLU, and the newsies seem to ignore is the enabling of Americans to worship as they wish. A recent issue has been a Korean War Memorial in San Diego and it’s form, which is a cross. By the standard of the court that ruled in the case all memorials artistic details can be held to be inappropriate at any time. Well, I tell you, I like the National Korean War Memorial, but it wasn’t bult until 50 years after the armistice (note not a peace treaty, we are still at war) was signed. The San Diego Monument was put in place by the city of San Diego within ten years of the conflict. I say that regardless of what it looks like, forty years later those peoples desire to honor their Veterans should be respected. Now regarding the issue of the memorial being a cross…. Does the ACLU propose that all crosses, stars of david, etc. be removed from all National Cemeteries, as well. At the risk of sounding religious, but fully utilizing my first amendment rights…To Hell with them. Some things should be left alone, with resect, even in a time of a new political expedience.

TFolsom SAV GA(I said that)

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Barack Obama may be against the war, but at the same time, he supports creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants as do most 2008 Presidential Candidates. Is that fair? Is that safe? Is that good for the economy? Apart from Mitt Romney almost all candidates are supporting creating a path for citizenship for illegal immigrants. My question is what happens to the legal foreigners here on different visas? They are applying for a green card and have to wait 8-10 years before they get it while they could quite simply cross the border and cross back illegally and get citizenship if this bill is passed. Are these politicians crazy? What’s wrong with the 2008 Presidential Candidates? Can’t they hear the voice of the people any more? I looked and researched and did a 2008 Presidential Candidates comparison and to tell you the truth, I don’t know who to vote for. While Barack Obama is the most charismatic, Hillary Clinton seems to be the stronger of the two. Then there are the Republicans who have simply lost my faith after Bush. So in the end, we are stuck. No matter what happens, the American public is going to be in trouble one way or another.

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