Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Morals and Dogma project

About a year or two ago I had a notion of taking the political ideas contained in the legendary Masonic work "Morals and Dogma"

Other ideas and things got on my mind and distracted me. I am going to in this new blog at least once a week take a chapter (or for some of the more dense chapters a section of the chapter) and unpack the ideas.

I will post more tomorrow

Could it be....Satan?

So I don't get whats going on with this latest Rick Santorum "controversy"

A man goes to a institution of Ultra Catholicism and the law of course he is going to mention Satan attacking our institutions. That's what you as good catholic lawyers are going to be doing (suing those institutions which serve Satan). I am sure the billionaire founder probably cut Rick a check for the speech.

So in review: Saying Satan is at war with America and its institutions is apparently bad, but going to a church that says Satan is America is a-ok. This is one of the absurdities of our modern political discourse. Republicans can be accused of wanting to poison the air and water by Democrats and this does not alienate swing voters. But if we say economic policies of the Democratic party lead people to economic dependency we might risk alienating swing voters. Going to a church with a minister who preaches an anti-Semitic message is a-ok if you didn't listen, but talking about abortion being negative will offend the swing voters. This political correctness is absurd. Its absurd because its not a universal political correctness that applies to all thought. However what makes it most absurd at all because despite the impolitic nature of things like Rev Wright Obama is a product of our political correctness culture. As is John McCain, John Kerry, and Mitt Romney. People who focus so much on saying nothing offensive that they say nothing offensive at all.

There is a reason no one says "Merry Christmas" in professional settings anymore. They are afraid of offending some one who not meeting the standard of professionalism of others. And we have made this choices as a society without a discussion of what it means. We have tried to remove everything offensive from our society.

Rick Santorum is not going out there and saying "As President I will see contraception banned" He is saying "I think contraception is bad, and I will say that if you ask me." Do we really want our Presidents (or potential presidents) to have no opinion of their own? As much as I hated the social issues "truce" of Mitch Daniels even implicit in that truce Mitch Daniels said "this is what I believe BUT I am going to call a time out on this IF you do this."

President Obama ran as President focusing on vague "hope and change" saying nothing concrete about his politics or his political agenda. Thats why people filled the then hypothetical Obama Presidency with their own hopes and dreams. And those very same swing voters who didn't seem to care about the offensive things in Obama's life story when they found out he wasn't some banal multicultural standin helped fuel things like The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. These political movements are fueled by the fact the political world is dominated by people who don't say what they mean and don't mean what they say.

So Rick Santorum believes evil is attacking our institutions in America. Is that really so terrible for a President to believe? We have a President right now who believes institutions in America (Banks, Large Corporations, Republicans) are evil. No one seems to be overly offended by that

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In Response to my friend Kevin

My buddy Kevin had a blog post on the Culture War And he decided to post about it on twitter

Proof nobody cares about the culture war... I can't get any hits about my piece addressing it.

So I want to see what I can do to help him with his hits. (probably not much LOL)

Abortion: I am generally pro-life. I have noticed that younger libertarians, such as myself, are generally more pro-life than older libertarians. This is mostly because of Ron Paul’s disproportionate influence among young libertarians. I believe Roe vs Wade was poorly decided and should be overturned, returning control over the abortion issue back to the states under the Tenth Amendment. Frankly, I do not believe there is a right to murder your unborn child. Having said that though, I struggle with the problem of enforcing a ban on abortion in the first trimester without unnecessary invasions of privacy of women. I also would not have a problem with exceptions for rape and incest. I was strongly opposed to Mississippi’s Personhood Initiative last year because I thought it was overly broad and the explanations were contradictory. My overall goal is to find common ground to reduce the numbers of abortions and increase the numbers of adoptions.

I have talked with Kevin about the issue of a "Right to Privacy" with abortion. That whole right is connected to Griswold and is largely a specious argument. How specious was the argument? Ron Paul came up with a constitutional argument for birth control (which fleshed out the right to privacy connection in Roe) just so he could do away with Griswold. That said even if their is no right to privacy that doesn't mean the government SHOULD make abortion illegal. But Kevin's problem here is trying to come to a way he is a libertarian favors (or throws up his hands about the issue of) abortion.

This ignores two things:

To undue Roe Vs Wade would involve a LOT of Jurists being appointed and praying those Jurists rule the right way. Legislation and Legislators would need to be dedicated to decades of work to craft the legislation to slay Roe. It is an unrealistic fear. Will you peel back Roe? Thats something you can do and is part of the decades long process of getting the right court case before the right judge to change the law.


The fundemental issue with abortion today is public funding (which happens in contradiction to the law) either through double dipping or through comingling of public funds in dishonest ways. Beyond the right to life younger libertarians are pro life because its part of the state that does not know its limits and meddles in areas it really shouldn't.

Now while Kevin isn't a fan of Rick Santorum

Contraception: My general feeling on this is that it should be legal, but that government should not mandate insurance companies to cover them nor should taxpayers foot the bill for them. The only exception would be for the morning after pill in the case of rape.

He has mostly the same position as Rick Santorum on the issue. He is actually more conservative (in ends) then Rick Santorum who is more conservative in means should they both have an ability to institute policy. The problem for Kevin and for Rick is the ideas of "Libertarian" and "Conservative" have become very nebulous.

Gay Marriage: Marriage should not be role of the state. The state should not be issuing marriage licenses at all. What the state should have instead is civil unions for everyone with all the tax benefits, property rights, hospital visitation benefits, etc. that married couples have; along with the statutes necessary for dissolving them. Marriage itself should be solely the role of the church by its own rules, as long as the parties involved are old enough to be able to contract; with the state’s only role to enforce the contract.

The State provides a regulatory system where common occurrences achieve the same outcomes. The Reason the Articles of Confederation doomed the Untied States is their was no framework of regulations where people could achieve reasonably similar outcomes for the same thing. This is why this argument on marriage by Libertarians is so silly, it wouldn't work with the state as it has existed for most of the history of the United States. The Federal Government assumed a role in the marriage system because companies became national in scope and because people had broad public benefits for the first time (in the rise of modernity). As for his list of benefits under the laws today Gay Couples can do all of the above with the exception of Tax Benefits without a change in one law. The problem is that the argument for gay marriage is not about civil rights (to gay rights activists). That said gays are becoming more a part of the normative community. We have to deal with the challenge of their relationships in governing their society. And bringing gays into the tent of our civilization order does us less harm then Polygamists. That is how you answer the Rick Santorums of the world.

Pornography: The government should not setup a rating system for movies, video games, etc. and should leave that to the industry and concerned consumers themselves. However, there should be strict enforcement of laws and international agreements against child pornography since the children are not old enough to consent. Whether or not school systems and public libraries should install filters and what to filter should be a local decision.

This is a problem in how Libertarians view the state.

The State: Man movies are pretty bad... I might make a law about it...

MPAA: Hey don't make a law, let me regulate myself

The State: You got it dude.
NOW lets review this conversation another way:

Studio Boss 1: Man those rubes in flyover country are upset about the filthy morality in our movies

Studio Boss 2: Hey I have an idea lets make up a ratings system. It will be awesome advertising about how we care what those mouth breathers think.

Other then the government expressing the will of the mouth breathers how is this different? (Answer: It really isn't).

What its about is a civilization using different methods to present its values through its institutions. Be those institutions governmental or big business (which is largely indistinguishable from government)

School Prayer: I do not have a problem with voluntary school prayer at the beginning of the school day and before school events.

The law doesn't with the former (so long as it isn't student lead) the later is in the matter of dispute between the courts and various levels of government

Religious Holiday Displays: This is truly one arena where atheists need to get a life. Christmas, Easter, etc. are national and/or local holidays and believers should be allowed to display the religious imagery that is appropriate for those holidays, even if it is public property. That goes for Jews for Hanukkah, Muslims for Ramadan, etc. The First Amendment was not written to banish religion from the public square, only to merely prevent the establishment of a state religion and to prevent any religion from having undue control over the government.

Kevin here continues with his conservatism thinking he is Libertarian (though this could also be a libertarian position based on how Modern American Conservatism works)

Mosque Construction: I don’t have a problem with Muslims building mosques anywhere as long as they play by the same rules every other religion has to play by.

But the rules and the lack of the rule of law is a problem (to Libertarians and Conservatives)

So if we look at these positions is Kevin expressing "Libertarian" positions on culture war issues?

On two issues (Abortion and Ratings) Kevin is closer to moderate positions and outside of the realm of libertarianism.

On another issue (Gay marriage) He has accepted arguments to justify the support for absolute liberty without asking is Gay Marriage Liberty (it isn't but that doesn't mean we shouldn't have it).

So like much of the Liberty Movement (which I used to be a part of) Kevin is confused at the crossroads of culture and politics. Kevin's culture war positions are also mostly conservative or Moderate. Only one is remotely libertarian (and its a terrible position).

Labels can confuse. Libertarianism in Culture war is a label used to avoid having serious and uncomfortable discussions about things you believe. Its about the inability to accept our state as it is, and instead trying to pretend the state exists in this fantasy state of via liberties.

We can craft a state more in tune with Liberty but first we must have a reality based libertarian view. And we must accept that their are only a few big things that can be done by congress and by the president. They need to stop squandering them.

RINO: Whats in an Identity

I have a theory which your going to see me reference in my posts. In social science their is a cancerous idea called "Post Modernism" the problem with the idea is not that it it is wrong but rather its influence on our thought today. The source of all human knowledge (Wikipedia) explains the crisis of modernism and postmodernity thus

Postmodernity is the state or condition of being postmodern – after or in reaction to that which is modern, as in postmodern art (see postmodernism). Modernity is defined[who?] as a period or condition loosely identified with the Progressive Era, the Industrial Revolution, or the Enlightenment. In philosophy and critical theory postmodernity refers to the state or condition of society which is said to exist after modernity, a historical condition that marks the reasons for the end of modernity. This usage is ascribed to the philosophers Jean-Fran├žois Lyotard and Jean Baudrillard.

The concept of Post-Modernism goes further

Butler responds to Benhabib by arguing that her use of postmodernism is an expression of a wider paranoia over anti-foundationalist philosophy, in particular, poststructuralism.

A number of positions are ascribed to postmodernism - Discourse is all there is, as if discourse were some kind of monistic stuff out of which all things are composed; the subject is dead, I can never say “I” again; there is no reality, only representation. These characterizations are variously imputed to postmodernism or poststructuralism, which are conflated with each other and sometimes conflated with deconstruction, and understood as an indiscriminate assemblage of French feminism, deconstruction, Lacanian psychoanalysis, Foucauldian analysis, Rorty’s conversationalism, and cultural studies ... In reality, these movements are opposed: Lacanian psychoanalysis in France positions itself officially against poststructuralism, that Foucauldian rarely relate to Derridideans ... Lyotard champions the term, but he cannot be made into the example of what all the rest of the purported postmodernists are doing. Lyotard’s work is, for instance, seriously at odds with that of Derrida

Butler uses the debate over the nature of the post-modernist critique to demonstrate how philosophy is implicated in power relationships and defends poststructuralist critique by arguing that the critique of the subject itself is the beginning of analysis, not the end, because the first task of enquiry is the questioning of accepted "universal" and "objective" norms.

It is my view that Post-Modernism was how modern movements extended the lifespan of "Modern" and "Progressive" political movements. Post-modernism was how they made it past the hard point of the crisis that came at the end of World War II. Its how these movements which helped shape a lot of our thought across religion, culture, and politics dealt with the realities of the cold war and the creation of the lifestyle we have seen from President's Eisenhower to George W Bush.

What is a Rino then you ask? I want to segway with another idea that I found in the writing of Libertarian business man Bill Bonner (These opinions do not reflect the opinion of any employer I have or any client of said employer that relate to Mr. Bill Bonner) in his critique of the modern state of our democracy Bill Bonner illustrates a very interesting fact about earlier Democracy.

The word ‘democracy’ arose in small, Greek city states, where the voters actually voted on the concrete issues, not just the slippery candidates. Citizens voted to go to war…knowing not only that they would have to pay for it…but that they could be killed in the battles themselves. War was a matter of life and death, not just a campaign slogan of a chubby, middle-aged draft-dodger.

The Italian city states practiced real democracy too. In 15th century Florence, for example, citizens voted on whether or not to build a cathedral… Then, they voted on what shape it should take.

A scale model was built. Citizens knew what it would look like. They understood how it was built and how much it would cost them. They cast their ballots and took responsibility for the outcome.

American democracy, circa 2012, has no more in common with real democracy than American capitalism has in common with real capitalism. Both are degenerate…corrupt…and geriatric.

The issue with RINO's is not one of the building of a Cathedral dedicated to Saint Ronaldus Magnus (blessed be his name) where there is a perfected checklist. Rino's do not fail to assemble. But the people who are critical of those who rebuke them clearly believe that is the story. They say the homolies that honor the Sainted Ronaldus Magnus to try to get the poor serfs to come to the church and place themselves in awe of the great and mighty men. The people who have told these homolies to recruit the serfs: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum (Disclosure: I voted for Rick Santorum), Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry. Where I disagree with Bill Bonner the problem with our Democracy isn't that its geriatric, its that it has been infantalized. During the rise of modernity (The Progressive Movement, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, The Labor Movement) there was a great white father who would lead all of our people to prosperity. He became the high priest of the temple of the civic religion of state. And so the people lacked education and depth to fully understand the nature of the world turned to the Great White Father.

Professor Walter Russel Mead described this as a process from Great White Hope to Great White Shark (or Whale)

The cult of Ronaldus Magnus has a value however because this was the last time that anything resembling a Cathedral had been presented to the voters. A vision of building a Sacred Temple of an idea of the American Civic Religion. And this is what people crave. I know what people say "But Social Security is popular. Student Loans are popular." I will grant you all of that. They are popular in a lack of an idea of governance. Governance that can be brought before people that they could take into their own lives and elect people to represent on their behalf in state and local governments.

We had an idea that the National Government and companies of National scope should inter-relate. This came as a product of the rise of modernity. This has now fallen into crony capitalism. The idea of National Health Insurance is done at part to give these companies the ability to write off employee health care from their employee compensation (as they have done with retirement thanks to Social Security.)

These policies in part are bogging down government at a state and local level. If we are to take an approach worthy of the citizens of Florence we would have politicians asking the question: Is this what we want for America for the next 25 years? For the next 50? For the Next 100? They would answer what this would actually mean. But our government is infantalized and participates in a phony debate. So what are you to do when the Government does not address reality but instead believes that the discourse over these ideas, not if the ideas are GOOD, is all their is for the government. So what people have done is found the camp that presents the narrative that gets us closest to the type of governance we desire.

This is why the Tea Party was a good start. It was the beginning of a process Milton Friedman once described

The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or it they try, they will shortly be out of office.

So in summation: What makes some one a RINO is they embrace the weaselly nature of debate, discussion, and culture that dominates our age. The people who say nonsense that "Reagan would be a RINO today" say it because they are unwilling to provide people with the sort of honest democracy that bloodthirsty Italian bankers provided their own people for many years. What make men who clothe themselves in the vestment of Saint Ronaldus Magnus part of the problem is they know we want something but they are two afraid to stand up for the politics we need. And as Milton Friedman told us: When we don't stand up for the politics we need, we end up getting the politics we deserve.

Restarting my blogging

I would like to thank Timothy Dalrymple for talking me back into blogging. He is a published web author, and I liked something he wrote recently and so I saw him on Facebook recently and in the process of talking about this sort of stuff he told me "you should write something." And after my recent exposure to Nanowrimo I have become more comfortable with writing lately. I would also like to thank Alex Knepper here is his latest blog joint. who has also encouraged me to try and come back into the world of internet commentary. I also would like to thank my friend Kevin who has interested me in getting back into social media and political commentary. And I want to thank Doug Mataconis who has been good natured at the back and forth we have done over the internet in the past. And Professor Anne Marie Slaughter who has shown me I can be involved in larger discussions on the internet with people who hold a certain credibility due to their position.

I also would like to apologize about what I will do to the English language as I type here. Another reason I am getting back into blogging is to try to get myself back into proficiency with English and stopping the very bad habits have developed.

What this blog will be about: Politics, Foreign Policy (especially Asian Foreign Policy), Pop Culture, Sports (sometimes), Globalization, Religion, and anything else that touches my fancy. I will also from time to time add in some biographic posts.

So I hope to make this enjoyable for the rest of you to read. So enjoy the show