The Insatiable Progressive Lust to Shove Change in Your Face

“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.” H.L Mencken. Were he alive today, Mencken might choose for his famous aphorism the verb “improve humanity,” what, since one hundred years on, with indoor plumbing, bountiful food production, antibiotics, and childhood vaccination, we’ve pretty much claimed the low hanging fruit of things that need saving. But improving, there is to infinity and beyond left of improving to do.
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Take the current national dust up over monuments to slave owners and confederate soldiers. Well, that’s a sticky wicket and a story with seven sides. Arguments about history, about reasons the North and South reconciled like family instead of hostile nations, arguments about loyalty of warriors to place and people and family that had nothing to do with slavery,arguments about transcendent moral principles that should be shouted still today, lots of arguments.
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Now, some people might think that a nation fighting a civil war, adopting three Constitutional amendments, passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 all to attain equality before the law, and then establishing Equal Opportunity Offices in state and federal governments across the land, all to spot and prosecute unlawful discrimination, is a world historic achievement toward equal rights and opportunity.
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But, those people don’t understand the governing principle of endless tinkering and improvement. Government’s work is never done. And there are new wrongs to discover. Some monument perched in the same spot for 150 years suddenly decided to start oppressing and offending someone’s domestic tranquility. So, off with its pedestal.
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Not to be left out of the progress sweeping the historic South, one Colorado politician posted this message to her friends:
 
Help me grow a Colorado-specific list. If we were to remove tribute or vestiges of confederacy, white supremacists, KKK located right here in Colorado, what would you remove or rename? SHARE if you think others can help us create this list.
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There followed a thread of 122 comments with suggestions for place names, monuments, historical figures, etc., that need to be airbrushed from the Mile High landscape. The interesting thing about this is the direction the prompt came from. It not a case of aggrieved neighbors or descendents, or even ambitious school children identifying a problem and raising it for resolution. No, it is a government activist effectively asking people to comb through street signs, parks, cemeteries, maybe dig up a few skeletons, and make suggestions for historic purification.
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Like I said. Government’s work is never done. That kind of captures the divide between a classical Constitutional vision and a progressive state improvement vision.
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Believers in limited government and maximum freedom believe government’s role is to secure the peace and safeguard people’s rights, fundamentally, the right to life liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which of course covers the rights mentioned in the Bill of Rights including speech, worship, and property, and much more.
With a federal and state structure organized to protect national security and domestic tranquility, the pieces are in place to let people pursue happiness.
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To the progressive mind, that is a barbarically bare set up, and we might as well live in Somalia (except, it’s a stupid comeback, because Somalia doesn’t offer its people any of those elements of peace and stability). Progressive see a different mission for government and a different relationship between people and the state. Progressives want government policies rooted in the Leftist idea that Western Society is unjust and decadent in every important way. It is pervasively racist, sexist, economically exploitive, and corruptly consumerist. They want government that is engaged in the permanent project of transforming society and perfecting humanity by regulating, prohibiting, fining, and fine tuning these flaws of the patriarchy out of existence.
That opens every door. Nutrition. Energy consumption. Yard watering. Mode of transportation. Style of living. Manner of speaking to each other. Civil rights moves from barring discrimination to attacking “cultural appropriation” or mandating the correct pronoun for every known gender and those yet to be discovered. Policing bathroom portals. Etc.
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When the mission of government is perfecting humanity and the world we live in, there will never be a moment to declare “mission accomplished.” The noble hunt for the next problem and the next law will prove that there actually is such thing as perpetual motion.
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And that is just how progressives want it.

Torn America’s Desperate Need for Moderation; Moderation’s Fatal Temptation.

Lately it feels as if division and ugliness are everywhere. Politics and culture produce a stormy sea with battering waves and treacherous currents that seem impossible to avoid. Discussion too easily becomes debate and then bitterness. Friendships strain and tear.
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A thoughtful friend recently posted this lament on social media:
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“This country is tearing itself apart because the moderate voices have been silenced and the extreme fringes of both sides have grabbed the stage. We need to denounce the actions of the radicals on both sides and reengage in the civil discourse our country requires to function properly, or we will cease to be one.”
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What he says is plainly right but also challenging and uncertain in its ideal application.
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It is true the most extreme and hateful voices are all around and too often predominate. We absolutely need to practice and cultivate more moderate voices, more civil, and more respectful debate. This is easy to propose, but harder to achieve or even make progress. All we can do is start with ourselves and try harder. One thing I’ve realized is the occasions I am able to decide to stay calm, and not get angry, it helps two ways. First, as it takes two to tango, one calm voice makes escalation less likely to occur. But, second, if another person does become heated or personal, I can let it go and not let it raise my bile or blood pressure.
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To clarify, I’m describing a few successful experiences, not claiming this is my pattern. Too many years debating on Facebook have increased my tendency to brawl. Too, the new era of for-Trump, anti-Trump, and trying-to-call-it-as-I-see-it-Trump seems to have injected steroids into the cyber-ether.
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But “voice” is just the way we communicate about the real stuff—substance and policy. Americas are deeply divided on important issues and principles. Some of these disagreements are fundamental and likely irreconcilable.
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If the only way toward less rancor is for people to adopt more moderate positions, and if moderation is defined as compromising somewhere in the middle between competing proposals, that yields unhappy consequences for seekers of more freedom and limited government. Government will continue to grow. Its power and control over our life will continue to expand and penetrate. Every new proposal for power, taxing, and spending, even if cut in half continues an inexorable march, the march America has, with fleeting interruptions, experienced since its founding. The only crumb from the moderate table for the liberty minded is that these unwelcome trends will unfold at a somewhat slower rate than government builders might wish.
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As a matter of despair and anger for citizens who hope to shrink the growing Leviathan, this trend holds true whether Democrats or Republicans are in control. Even when Republicans control both houses of Congress and the presidency, they seem to talk big but deliver small. Or perhaps they talk small, but deliver big, like Democrats, who are at least candid in their desired direction.
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Anyone who believes America has departed harmfully from the Constitutional formula of limited central government, separation of powers, and strongly respected individual liberties including speech, worship, and property, and means to push meaningfully back in that direction could never hope to be described as “moderate” by the major media. Their goals would be described as radical and they likely would be smeared as racist, sexist, oppressive, possibly even fascist (an absurd bastardization of the term).
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It is difficult but attainable to be a principled conservative or libertarian and to engage in civil debate. But it is not possible to push in that direction and be called moderate. The only thing such politicians can hope for is to be described as reasonable or civil. But, if moderation means agreeing to meet in the “middle”—whatever that is–on all substance and policy, then we will simply continue on the trajectory of the last century or two of an ever expanding federal state that puppet masters the life of its citizens.
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One more thought. Some differences are irreconcilable. Between those that want to expand the federal government and those that want to restore a more Constitutional approach, there is no common ground. There is no compromise. The only path forward is winning. That is, the hard work of politicking on the playing field of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. That means everything from teaching our children, engaging with our neighbors, recruiting and supporting good candidates, staying involved and supporting good legislation, and trying to help adopt the policies consistent with our values.
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That can be done civilly, but it will never be called moderate.

Amidst US Fury and Soul Searching, is there Good News From North Korea?

North Korea’s Jong dynasty has made a lucrative habit of rattling nuclear arms, real or imagined, and shaking down the United States and the West for ransom, er, humanitarian and technical assistance, in exchange for promising to put their toys away. Until next time.
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Little Un just tried it again. Subsequent events didn’t follow the script. I admit Trump’s response threatening “fire and fury” was jarring and worrisome. Are the critics right? Is he a madman loose with a twitter account and the nuclear codes? Lo and behold, reports are that China has pressured N.K. to back off, and Un seems to be putting his toys back in the box. And no ransom or concession given that we yet know of!
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Billions will breathe a sigh of relief if the news holds. What will not happen is any serious reflection in the major media, academia, or others in permanent hysteria about the fact of Trump’s existence and election. They will not candidly ponder or publicly discuss the possibility Trump worked closely with his advisors, played a shrewd hand in circumstances more difficult than those faced by any of his predecessors, and produced a better result than any of his predecessors.
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That would be utterly incompatible with their manufactured slow march to impeachment for some reason, any reason.
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Here is one serious scholarly reflection of just what Trump might be up to, that was published before the good news broke. Amazing what sober thinking can perceive when one isn’t willfully participating in a group-think frenzy to manufacture high crimes and misdemeanors.

Meanwhile, let us be grateful and celebrate the billions of lives including our own that seem not to be under a cloud. Until next time.

 
 

I don’t Know, Mr. Krugman, What Do You Do When the President is Un-American?

Paul Krugman, former economist and current leftist flamethrower for the New York Times has penned a piece with an interesting title: When the President is Un-American. You can click to see Krugman’s thoughts on that dilemma. But, it is an interesting question which necessarily embeds other questions about what the reader believes are core concepts of Americanism.
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Anyway, I don’t know, Mr. Krugman, I kind of think Americans would hope to expect their American-minded president would not, for example…
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Bring to office a pronounced distrust of free enterprise in the private sector and on obvious greater trust in public management, and a cavalier attitude that entrepreneurs don’t really build businesses, taxes and public infrastructure do;
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Devastate the nation’s health care and health finance system by ramming through on a party line vote a complex bureaucratic scheme built on plain lies that people could keep their doctors and plans, and their premiums would go down, then, simply ignore the truth and rely on media cover when millions of Americans lost their plans, doctors, and experienced skyrocketing premiums and deductibles;
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Usher in as part of that health scheme a new federal effort to sue and force churches, religious companies, and companies owned by religious believers to break their faith and fund chemical abortifacients;
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Funnel thousands of guns to Mexican drug lords to try somehow to document a domestic case for gun control, and when the disaster explodes in American fatalities, lie and obfuscate and hide evidence from Congress until his Attorney General is cited for contempt;
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Oversee an EPA that overreaches and suffers a string of embarrassing defeats at the Supreme Court for lawless and arbitrary oppression of property owners;
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Blow away a foreign head of state in Libya with no Congressional authorization of war, no plan to stabilize the decapitated nation, and no clue what happens next;
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In that same nation, run a covert arms pipeline to Syrian rebels, and then provide lax security to the covert annex in order to present a reelection fantasy narrative of expanding peace and stability;
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When said covert operation is disastrously attacked and four Americans are killed, concoct a lie about videos and protests and hide the truth of a successful terror attack to prop up his false reelection story of expanding peace and stability;
Whisper on a hot mic to Russia’s president to relay to Russia’s dictator that he can be more flexible with Russia after his last election;
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Encourage his IRS to use its awesome powers to harass, torment, and obstruct the civic activities of conservative Americans, to avoid opposition during his run for reelection;
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Work to eliminate international sanctions against Iran, negotiate secret deals to secure Iran’s path to nuclear weapons, and bribe Iran with billions in cash, including millions delivered secretly on pallets, off budget, while lying to the public and Congress about the details of the deal;
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Trade five Taliban generals from Gitmo in exchange for a deserter who cost American lives, and have his underling declare the deserter “served with honor and distinction”;
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Ignore the sweeping results of Congressional elections and American voters rejecting his policies by declaring “I have a phone and a pen”;
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Spy on Republican candidates for president in the coming election and change security rules to enable leaking and attacks on the eventual winner;
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Immediately turn to carping and criticizing the winner, in unprecedented move of ex-presidential treachery and narcissism that seeks to thwart the new president and undermine the nation.
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The list is much longer, but this is all in a few minutes without Googling. What do you do when the President is Un-American, Mr. Krugman? Apparently you write fawning columns for the New York Times praising his excellency and savaging his critics. 

Violence is Spewing from the Genie’s Bottle. Can We Force it Back In?

That there eventually would be a violent backlash to the Left’s spreading violence against political opponents was as predictable as changing seasons. For as long as gangs of masked thugs, who ironically label themselves “anti-fascist,” continue their campaign of violence as politics, violence will increase. It will spread beyond just the purveyors of a repugnant, fringe ideology of racial purity and superiority who were part of Saturday’s mayhem.

.The blood has started flowing, It started from Leftist attacks on Republicans. It will not stop until wiser, cooler heads from across the political spectrum assert themselves in their communities and in the national dialogue and culture. I say this regretfully and anxiously, with zero support for the toxic opportunists who fomented racial hate, confrontation, and violence over the weekend. I join Americans of good will to condemn racial ideology, repudiate racial tribalism, and reject organizing to initiate violence, whatever the philosophical motivations.

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 The problem, however, did not begin with yesterday’s protest and will not end if all belief in white supremacy disappeared tomorrow. Numerically, it is a fringe element in any event. The problem will continue because violence is spreading–mostly from the Left against anyone who stands against it, including libertarians, conservatives, Republicans, and social and economic nationalists.
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 When Leftist “resisters” keep punching, there will be punchback.
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 Saturday’s misguided marchers are not the only citizens watching in anger and uncertainty as things seem to be unraveling. Far from it. They are just the most fringe and volatile segment of millions of Americans watching and riding the tempest while old norms and limits erode with nothing safe or solid filling the void. The Left has, with virtual impunity, initiated and escalated violence in its rebellion against voters for rejecting Leftist candidates.
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 From the moment of Donald Trump’s election, masked hooligans answered America’s Constitutional vote with violent resistance. They broke windows, looted stores, burnt cars, and blocked intersections. They attacked and assaulted Trump supporters in peaceful rallies and continue to do so. They hustled conservative speakers off college campuses and still do. Some academics and journalists took to the airwaves and the pages of elite national publications to justify the new normal of censorship and suppression, backed up by a fist.
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 Egged on by internet, intemperate politicians, and anti-Republican networks, unhinged souls began firing shots, first at a Republican Congressional baseball practice in Virginia, more recently in a neighborhood dispute in Kentucky. There are a couple remarkable things about these developments. First, few if any prominent Democrats loudly and consistently reject the spreading menace, and demand that citizens debate civilly. There is no media pack pursuing every prominent Democrat, as always happens when a prominent Republican puts his foot in his mouth. They are not cornering and demanding of Democrat leaders “Do you renounce the violence and destructive tactics of Antifa? Of Black Lives Matters? Of college censor mobs?”
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 Troublingly, the leading political and media voices probably refrain from issuing these clarion challenges and demands for civil standards because they likely share in the spirit of the protests. The Democrat and media elite have accepted the ideals of Leftist government. Turning away from their presumed arc of history is illegitimate. Violent Leftist protest is justified.
 
For a long time, the political conflict between the Left and Right has reflected a stark cultural clash. But Leftists seem to have taken a turn for the more authoritarian, believing the only fair elections are the ones they win. Of course, as they always, have, Leftists want government policies rooted in the idea that Western Society is unjust and decadent in every important way. It is pervasively racist, sexist, economically exploitive, and corruptly consumerist. They want government that is engaged in the permanent project of transforming society and perfecting humanity by regulating, prohibiting, fining, and fine tuning these flaws of the patriarchy out of existence.
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 Many others find those ideas wrongheaded, naïve, and dangerous, leading only to economic misery, political strife, oppression, and chaos. They resist them vehemently, which of course is why we have politics, campaigns and elections. But the Left seems suddenly brazen in the conviction that elections only count when it wins. When they lose, it is just the starter’s pistol for their rush to continue politics by other means.
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Too often, urban law enforcement is limp in responding, while the media is a barely concealed cheerleader.
Many Americans are coming to believe their votes are devalued, their voices are squelched, and the public square is becoming unsafe for them. When Leftist agitators believe theirs are the only decent, legitimate, permissible views, and they back that belief up with lawless violence, human nature dictates a backlash: those who feel threatened and silenced will recoil, reconsider, and respond in kind.This is a perilous moment for America.
 
In order to defeat violence, it must be overcome and rejected everywhere, by all quarters. Otherwise it will only increase. So far, there seems to be no leadership, recognition, or will on the Left to leash their storm troopers of the streets.
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