Sunday, December 31, 2017

Constitutionalists are not Conservatives

Robert Curry has an article today at the American Thinker entitled The Trouble With Conservatives that speaks to a problem I have wrestled with, but have not come up with an entirely satisfactory answer. The trouble with the term "conservative" is that it doesn't really express what we are. It meets William Buckley's idea of "standing athwart history yelling "Stop!"," but there is more to it than that.  Curry states that conservative embodies a state of mind, a way of being, that applies in principle do different people in different circumstances differently.  As Curry writes:
The classical liberalism of the American founders focused on reining in the powers of government. The purpose of the founders' design of the government was protecting our unalienable rights from encroachment by people in the government. Taking their cue from the German thinker GWF Hegel by way of Woodrow Wilson, the Progressives instead put their faith in the state. They rejected the idea of the American Republic root and branch. But the original Progressives understood the American people well enough to know that overthrowing the Republic by force and violence was out of the question. So they set out to overthrow it little by little, progressively.>
Probably every society and every time has its conservatives, with tenets specific to each society's traditions. For example, English conservatives today might want to preserve the monarchy, the Church of England as the established church, and the British aristocracy. In the same way, those Iranians who opposed the revolution that changed Iran from a monarchy to a radical Islamist theocracy or those Russians who long for the return of the Soviet Union are often referred to as "conservatives." However, to call them conservative is not to suggest that they hold similar political principles or that their political principles are similar to those of an American dedicated to the principles of the American Founders.
Exactly so. Our founding, and Constitutional order was born out of a successful revolution and an idea that the government that governs least, also governs best. The term "conservative" does not describe the people who want to return to living under such an idea. Do you know how unlikely a revolution is to succeed?  Oh, sure, the old order may be overthrown, but waiting in the wings are always those who seek to pounce upon a good idea and turn it to their own purposes. Look at France, and Russia. Look at the English revolution, for crying out loud. No, one must ascribe the outcome of the American Revolution to God's providence.

I have struggled with what to call ourselves.  Conservatives, we are not.  Oh. I will admit to a certain prudence in adopting new ideas.  I was not an early adopter of many of the electronic gizmos that we surround ourselves with today, but I did adopt them as they became part of the mainstream.  As a result, I don't have any old Betamax tapes.  This is known as "prudence."  And when I have violated the laws of proper prudence, I have always lost money.  Every time.  However. while I have that conservative tendency to hold back, to turn a new idea all around and look at it from its various angles, that is not the spirit that makes me want to return our government to its Constitutional roots.  For that, I think the term "Constitutionalist" applies.  I shall use that term from now on.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Principled Argument on Guns

Interestingly, it turns out that the rise in overall US murder rate for the year 2017 over 2016 was due to local factors. For example, New York, Los Angeles, and Washington DC were not in the news for their horrific murder rates this time, but Chicago was. It turns out that one third of the rise is attributable to just 5 Chicago neighborhoods in a 4 mile radius of West Garfield Park. You can read the entire post over at the American Thinker today at One Third of US homicide spike came from 5 Chicago neighborhoods, by Thomas Lifson.

Isn't Chicago a sanctuary city? Why, yes, I think it is. And hasn't Chicago resisted the issuing of concealed carry permits to law abiding people? Yes, I seem to remember that they did resist, though now it is theoretically possible to carry concealed in Chicago.  Here is an article by a "journalist" citing the "myths" that Chicago is not friendly to concealed carriers, and whining that nobody understands how tough it is to be an urban area.  Puhlease!

However, all of this is just to use a utilitarian approach to whether we can defend ourselves or not.  The problem with the utilitarian argument is that it makes the criminal element the arbiter of the rights the law abiding have. If crime goes up, even if it has nothing to do with the law abiding, to the utilitarian it shows that the law abiding must give up their guns for the sake of lowering crime. But this never lowers crime because the criminals never give up their guns.  And since the utilitarian argument is being used in support of gun grabbers, even if the crime rate goes down, guns will never be allowed again.

The utilitarian argument goes something like this: as long as the as the homicide rate is below a certain figure (which the gun grabbers are loathe to reveal) you can have your guns, but if it goes above a certain number, we must take your guns away, for your own good of course. Notice the smug sense of superiority of that statement. We know better that you, and we have a natural right to tell you how to live your life. Keep in mind that the law abiding people who lived there did not invite the criminal gangs into their neighborhoods. Many people have to provide services to the people who live in these precincts.  Is the telephone or electrical lineman supposed to take the risk the police will not?  Is a single mom trying to raise her kids right supposed to just hope that her kids will not be killed in a crossfire between rival gangbangers?

Keep in mind too that the police are almost never around when a crime is being committed, so that the true first responder is the person being assaulted. If that is you, don't you think you have a right to defend yourself? Don't you want the most effective tool with which to do it on your person?  Do you believe that someone who is not in your situation, who has no responsibility for your life or those of your loved ones can tell you what you may do to save it?

The other approach is to argue on the basis of principles, derived from the natural law.  The Second Amendment is such a law.  You may have a gun for any lawful purpose, which includes self defense, defense of others, defense of the state, hunting, target practice, and so on.  You may own them so long as you do not use them to commit a crime with them.  At that point, you give up your right to own guns, but not until then.

I appreciate Thomas Lifson bringing this to our attention.  It shows once again that the principled approach is the correct approach when properly looked upon.  However, the only legitimate argument is the one from principle.  No one has the right to play God with other peoples lives, for no one is more moral, more upright, that anyone else.  And to have people who have access to armed security forces declaring the law for poor people who can not afford such security is the height of hypocrisy. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Uniqueness of the Second Amendment

Sam Bocetta has an article today over at the American Thinker that asks the question  Is the Second Amendment Unique? Of course, the answer to that question s a qualified "yes," but for those who want to find out more, read on.

Before going on, however, allow me to talk a bit about those who see the 2nd Amendment as the palladium of rights versus those who believe the 2nd Amendment has outgrown its usefulness.  The framers of the Constitution were scholars of history, of the Bible, and of the law, and had a wide understanding of the human condition.  One thing they believed was that the nature of man has never changed since he first walked on the earth.  Jonah Goldberg has often cited this quality with the phrase "human nature has no history."  They also subscribed to the Augustinian belief that man is a fallen creature; in other words that man is sinful in everything he does.  These twin beliefs, along with the writings of John Locke and others who had built up Western philosophy and religious thought eventually resulted in a Constitution of limited government in which the various parts of government were seen to compete with each other for power, leaving the individual largely alone.  Little noticed, but equally important is that man's nature can not change.  If one truly looks at his own motives for doing anything, he will see that nothing he does, even the good things, is done without personal gain in there somewhere.  Today we call such people "conservative."  For them, the 2nd Amendment will always be relevant.

But what if you don't particularly believe in God as understood by the Western tradition, what then?  You might come to believe that man can change if you incentivize him enough.  You might believe that you can create the conditions for heaven on earth, where the lamb lies down lion, where swords are beaten into plowshares, and where man doesn't learn war any more.  In other words, Utopia (meaning nowhere),  The belief that they can change human nature causes people with this belief to do all sorts of tragic and comic things to effectuate a change that never happens.  If only they elect the "right" person, or inscribe the right magic incantation into law, people will become enlightened and see the error of their ways.  They always are disappointed.  Such people, who have worked under various banners: Marxists, Communists, Fascists, Socialists, Progressives, Liberals, Leftists and probably some I have missed, tend to speak a different language, and if you are sensitive to it, you begin to hear the lie in everything.  For instance, whereas conservatives talk about the "people" meaning individuals with different lives, different situations, and different things they where find success in life, the Collectivists talk about the "masses."  The difference is that "masses" implies a collection of identical widgets in a grand organic machine, each of which has the same ambitions, desires, and goals, and each can be treated with a one size fits all solution.  For these people, the belief in the perfectibility of man means that the 2nd Amendment has now, or will eventually, outlive its purpose.

So, is the Second Amendment unique? 

Given the context in which the constitution was written -- that of a new country keen to free itself from the clutches of an overbearing English tyranny -- it is strange that the Second Amendment is actually based on English law. Specifically, the English Bill of Rights of 1689 codified what was regarded as a natural right to self-defense. This bill essentially limited the power of the English king to disarm his subjects, after Charles II had tried to disarm Protestants, whom he viewed as a threat to his power.
Interestingly, the same debate that rumbles on today about the importance of a “well-regulated militia” dates back to this time. In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the question of whether English Bill of Rights created a new right, or merely codified an existing one, was tackled. The Supreme Court found that the English right at the time of the passing of the English Bill of Rights was "clearly an individual right, having nothing whatsoever to do with service in the militia," and therefore predated the bill.
In any case, by the time the Second Amendment was passed in 1791, the understanding of the earlier bill had developed. Before the U.S. became independent, the American colonies had an approach to firearms regulation that had been inherited from English Common Law. By 18th-century England, for example, armed travel had been limited to a few well-defined occasions such as assisting justices of the peace and constables. Members of the upper classes also had a limited exception to travel with arms. What we would now consider standard concealed carry was even more restricted back then, and the city of London banned public carry of handguns entirely.
In short, the Second Amendment developed from English common law, and is therefore not unique in a historical context. However, the fact that the amendment appears in a constitution, and can therefore not be watered down by successive legislation, means that it has slowly become unique as the laws it was based on were themselves changed.
The Constitution of the United States of America was unique in its day, and remains unique even now. We are losing our rights not because the Constitution has changed, but because the courts have illegally and lawlessly "reinterpreted" it to say things it does not say. Worse, our politicians today see themselves as a uniparty of elites who basically agree with the courts. They do not trust us. And if they do not trust us, one wonders if we should trust them? Our Second Amendment is unique and precious. The elites would have taken over long ago except for the deterrent it provides. We must not let it be watered down by progressively more restrictive interpretations. To do so is a mistake we only get to make once.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

While we have a Fighter in the Whitehouse...

A bevy of  "NeverTrumpers" have been writing that the defeat of Roy Moore by his decidedly left of center rival Doug Jones was a "win" for Republicans.  If so, Paul Gottfried thinks it was An Empty Conservative Victory. I agree.

First, there is doubt about most of his accusers, for which the most that can be said is that Moore's behavior indicates a somewhat immature man for age 30. What does a 30 year old man talk about with an unworldly juvenile child?  And yet some May-December romances have been truly loving.  I don't mean here to defend Judge Moore, but to say that most of these accusations have to be looked at with a high degree of skepticism.  And whenever Gloria Allred gets involved, my bullshit meter pegs out.  Why lie if  what you are trying to sell is the truth?

Second, is there any doubt that Doug Jones will  act to obstruct Trump's agenda?  Is not the Trump agenda also our agenda in many cases?  Has not Trump so far kept many of his campaign promises to conservatives?  Trump was not my first choice, any more that Moore would have been had I been an Alabamian, but I believe in voting for the most conservative candidate that can win, and that came down to Roy Moore.

Third, whatvever Moore lacks in savvy messaging, the fundamental fact is he is often correct on principle.  Placing the 10 Commandments in the court house established no religion, but did indicated the philosophical foundations of American law.  The gay agenda to have everyone acknowledge gayness as being somehow acceptable is wrong headed.  A gay couple will never be able to reproduce itself, thus ensuring that gays remain a tiny percentage of the population.  It is also morally wrong.  To state the obvious here does not indicate that you must actively discriminate against gays, nor does it indicate hatred of gays.   
But let’s be honest about the claim that the non-Left somehow dodged the bullet when a liberal Democrat was elected to the U.S. Senate in what had been a deep Red State. Does anyone in his right mind believe that Jones will not act as Trump said he would, as a tool of Chuck Schumer and those leftist constituencies that helped put him in office? And what about the laughable prediction made by Bret Baier and various Fox-Allstars that Jones would be a “centrist Democrat” in the tradition of West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp. Haven’t those who predicted this bothered to notice that their “centrist Democrats” have voted on every key issue against the President, on the side of Chuck Schumer?
Am I supposed to believe, moreover, that the attacks on Republicans by the Democrats as sexual predators will now stop because, according to National Review, we had a “conservative victory” in the Alabama election? The day after Moore was defeated, that longtime lackey of a highly probable sexual predator Bill Clinton, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, demanded that Trump resign, on the grounds that he harassed multiple women before he became president. Please note that Senator Gillibrand belongs to a self-described “feminist” party that has been led by such notorious womanizers and possible rapists as the “Lion of the Senate” Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton. Further, the Democratic Party abounds in office-holders who have benefited from the largess of perhaps the most notorious sexual predator in Hollywood, Harvey Weinstein.
Of course, I doubt that the attacks unleashed on Moore by Republicans, like Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and the editors of National Review and Weekly Standard, were entirely about Moore’s behavior forty years ago. The fact is he’s just too conservative on social issues to please those who would like to change certain conversations. Roy Moore is not at all happy with gay marriage and as a judge refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, as David French reminds us in a fit of outrage, in violation of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v Hodges Decision. If memory serves, I recall the support from conservative Republicans last year that went to Kentucky Justice of the Peace Kim Davis when she refused to issue licenses for gay marriages. At the time Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and other Republican politicians hurried to Davis’s defense, as a Christian exercising her religious freedom. Why is the failure of Judge Moore to recognize what he sees as a bizarre and sinful travesty on traditional marriage a danger to constitutional government, which is what French contends it is? That Moore refuses to go along with a Supreme Court ruling that he and I (and lots of other Americans) found to be absurd and against his religious conscience would hardly make him a menace in the U.S. Senate. Would French, who wears his antiracism on his sleeve, have accepted the Dred Scott decision in 1857, which denied that slaves who were brought into non-slave states became free because of their relocation?
As a Christian who is a member of a congregation of the  Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, I have been reading the Hallmarks of Lutheran Identity by Alvin J. Schmidt.  One of the chapters in this book discusses Luther's theology of the two kingdoms.  The one kingdom is the Kingdom of Grace.  This is the Kingdom of God in which, as the Prophet writes:
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
But that is not the kingdom we living in today. Luther recognizes that the Kingdom of the world is thoroughly sinful and depraved.  No act of man (or woman) should shock us, because we are by nature sinful creatures who, but for God's grace, would be condemned to the pit.  In this world, sometimes we must choose the least bad as better than the worst.  We can not always have our pure principles, any more than we can have our pure doctrine.  Sometimes we must fight, and while we have a fighter in the White House, it seems like a good time to do just that.  Saving our country for our children seems like a good idea, don't you think?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Next year in Jerusalem

Daniel Greenfield is also known as "Sultan Knish" and he blogs under that title.  Greenfield often writes warnings about the dangers of letting so many Muslims into our nation.  In this piece, he underscores that in our war with Islam that exists, whether we wish to acknowledge that we are at war or not, President Trump has struck another brilliant blow.  Greenfield's article is titled What the War Over Jerusalem Is Really All About. In it, Greenfield points out that:
It’s not about a “piece of land here or there”, as the PA’s top Sharia judge clarifies, it’s a religious war. And Israel is not just a religious war between Muslims and Jews, but a shifting frontier in the larger war between Islam and the rest of the world. It’s another territory to be conquered on the way to Europe. And Europe is another territory to be conquered on the way to America.
The declaration by President Trump is not so much for the Israelis. Israelis know where their capitol is. It is more about showing that we are not going to be governed by what Muslims think. In acceding to their demands, previous presidents have to be seen in Muslim eyes as having submitted to Islam, thus proving Islam's supremacy. By defying that outlook, President Trump has struck a blow to their self image as supreme.
Jerusalem is a metaphor. Every free country has its own Jerusalem. In America, it’s the First Amendment. Our Jerusalem is not just a piece of land, it’s a value. And the Islamic Jihad seeks to intimidate us into giving it up until, as the Hadith states, we abandon our religion for Islam.
Moving the embassy to Jerusalem will do much more for America than it will for Israel.
I would say that Jerusalem is more than mere metaphor. It is spiritual. Jerusalem was to be God's shining city on the hill, and on the last day God will give us a new Jerusalem, which will really be that shining city on the hill, and where we will all finally be at peace. I disagree only that in that it is not only our First Amendment, but our entire Constitution, rightly serving as our guiding document, not something that some use for toilet paper. But I digress. Everyone seeming looks to his or her own version of a shining city on a hill where fallen man. living in the muck and mire, will someday live in righteousness and purity. In that sense, moving our embassy to Jerusalem was the right move.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Out of the mouth of babes!

There exists a moral difference between righteous violence in defense of the innocent and malicious violence if furtherance of selfish claims.  There exists a moral difference between self defense and the defense of one's family, and the aggressive violence of an attack.  My parents taught that there was no difference between the two, that all violence is morally repugnant, and used Jesus's saying that those who live by the sword will die by it as proof.  But carrying a weapon, and being prepared to use it in defense of yourself and your family is not "living by the sword."  I saw this fact then, and I still see the distinction today.

To accept whatever some thug wants to mete out to you is the essence of pacifism.  It is to admit that the strongest and the most ruthless thug among us will make the rules to suit themselves, and the rest of us will have to live with those rules no matter how unjust. I do not think that is the kind of world we should want, or accept.  As adults, we may have our sense of right and wrong beaten out of us.  We may believe that indeed children are traumatized by violence, but then one finds a story to remind you it is not true.

Don Cicchetti, writing at the American Thinker today tells a powerful story of an incident that happened to his the 7 year old daughter and himself that shows how children actually deal with thoughts of violence.  Cicchetti's piece can be found at What Being a Dad With a Gun Taught My Daughter. Go read the whole thing before you read the following. I wouldn't want to spoil the ending for you.

Read it?  Good.  Now you may continue:
So I went back in the house and got Sam and my nice Ruger 9mm, and we sat down on the floor of the kitchen, because that's the place with the most walls between us and the outside world, which could be filled with bullets and anger at any moment.
While waiting, she asked me: "Daddy, what if the robber gets in our house?"
"Well, he would have to get past all those cops, and they all have guns, huh?"
"Yeah." She smiled for a moment but then got serious again. "What if he gets past the cops somehow?"
"Well, he would have to get past the bars on the windows, huh?"
"What if he breaks the bars and gets in the house?"
"Well honey, what do you think will happen then?"
"You'll shoot him!"
"That's right." And then a peaceful smile came across her face, and we waited for the all-clear sign. Turns out the miscreant was not in our yard after all, but I was proud of the aggressiveness and professionalism of the local LEOs. I hope they got the guy.
Out of the mouth of babes!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Embassy Moving To Jerusalem

President Trump is set to announce tomorrow that he is moving the U. S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, Israel.  Katie Pavlich has the scoop over at

No doubt this will throw the Arabs and Muslims into turmoil.  Indeed, anything seems to, as these people seem to be perpetually offended at the very existence of Jews and Christians.  Therefore I have never felt that the taking of offence by these people should be a reason not to move the embassy to Jerusalem.  And while I don't think the President is a very pious Christian, it certainly shows our support for Israel, and we all hope that eventually all Israel will come to Christianity in God's time.  We can also hope that the Muslims will do the same, but I am not holding my breath.

This day, we should all pray for President Trump.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Gripe: Lookyloos

I end up driving a lot, and one of the things I see constantly is the aftermath of fender bender accidents on the road.  One  of the great annoyances is that these seemingly ubiquitous  situations seem to always back up traffic for miles on end.  Recently coming out of Charlotte, my wife and I encountered a 2 mile back up that took an hour to get through.  Yesterday, a similar back up occurred on I-40.

It seems that each and everyone who passes the site of an accident has to look long and hard at the aftermath.  I call these idiots "lookyloos."  Lookyloos seemingly stop, backing every one else behind them. and stare for a few moments.  No doubt they wring their hands and tut tut, but what value are the adding?  They didn't witness the accident themselves.  They can not do anything for the unfortunates involved.  All they can do is cause more trouble by backing up the traffic.

Now, I am as sensitive and as empathetic as the next guy, but I have to think: " What if a doctor is trying to get to the hospital to perform an emergency operation?  What if a patient dies because the doctor could not get there in time due to these lookyloos?" Lookyloos seem to have a pathological need to show they care by stopping and looking at every tragedy that happens around them even though it doesn't involve them and even though they will just get in the way of anyone who might be able to actually help.

Lookyloos, stop it.  Next time think before stopping.  In all probability, the most useful thing you can do is the keep moving on.