Saturday, December 20, 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Divine Right of Government

From the time of the first central states in Babylon through the age of the Roman Empire, kings took upon themselves the mantle of the divine.   In the first states there was no "separation between church and state", for the priests served the king.  Religion was at the service of the state, and the rulers often presented themselves as descendents of the gods, if not gods themselves.   The great mass of humanity existed to elevate the state, which was personified in the form of the King or Emperor.

The main exception to the rule was a collection of tribes in the Levant who for 360 years elected their own local leaders, had a fixed law, a travelling judiciary, and no national executive at all except for brief periods of national emergency.   When they finally decided to have a king, the priesthood was already established, and for a time maintained its independence from the state.   Over time this independence broke down, but so did the expression of the faith through a priesthood.  Prophets rose up and were the main movers and shakers of the faith, challenging both Kings and Priests.

In the Jewish tradition Kings were not gods whose will was law.  There was a Higher Law, established by the One True God, and to that law both King and commoner were equally bound.  Indeed King and Priest were to remain separate offices, only to be united in the person of Messiah, who alone was worthy to be both King and High Priest.   The Messiah was the King of Kings, to whom all earthly Kings would be obligated to submit.  Kings had a king- the King of Kings.  They did not dictate the will of heaven to the masses, for kings were just as subject to it as they were.

As Christianity spread into Europe so did these ideas, for Christianity is not so much a separate religion from Judaism as it is Judaism fulfilled.   Like all powerful people not used to, or happy with, restraints on their behavior, Kings attempted to use the parts of Christian scripture and tradition which were favorable to civil authorities to their best advantage. This took the form of the doctrine of the "Divine Right of Kings."  Romans 12 and other places in scripture suggest that civil authorities exist by God's permission. That is, they are in charge because God ordained it so.

The kings most favorable to this doctrine tended to forget that any divine right that kings had was balanced by divine responsibilities that kings had.   Should a king fail to exercise their "rights" responsibly, their subjects reasoned, then the king himself was in rebellion against the Divine order.

After all, didn't the same passages of scripture which taught that rulers were established by God also teach that those same rulers, wittingly or unwittingly, were Ministers of God?  And didn't the same passage (Romans 13) describe this ministry as "honoring those who do good" and "bringing wrath on evil doers"? What if a ruler failed to do this?  What if they did the opposite of this?  It was thinking along this line, starting from the basis that religion was above state and not a function of state, which established what we know today as "the right of rebellion".   From this it was deduced that a just government required "the consent of the governed" to its claim of a divine mandate.  The people being governed had to agree that those doing the governing were doing so in a legitimate manner.

While this view has some distance from prior notions, notice that even the doctrine of the "Divine Right of Kings" was less totalitarian than the old pagan view.  The old pagan view was that the state was the dignitary of the gods on earth and that the will of the king was the will of heaven. In contrast, Kings who had a Divine Right to rule can be in error and offend the Divine.  Kings which are divine themselves cannot, their word is absolute, they are accountable only to themselves.   When heaven and king are separated this way, certain things were rightly beyond the reach of even the King.  Not so when King and the will of Heaven are viewed as one and the same.

From this idea of separation of King from the Divine it was but a short leap to the idea that the common people could be their own kings as it were, sharing power in a Republican form of government.   The Creator was still viewed as the source of rights (as noted for example in the Declaration of Independence), but He didn't just give the governing authorities a Divine Legitimacy to govern, He also gave individual persons legitimate claims against governments which exceeded their Divine mandate.  

In other words, individuals had rights.   The idea that there lives a King of Kings translated into the idea that there were just limits on the power of the state. The earthly King or ruler was not the Master of the people, rather they were ministers acting on behalf of God, the true Master of both King and Commoner.   This idea held even in a nation where the People themselves were the king.

The same God which gave rulers the authority to rule placed boundaries on that authority for the sake of the individual, which was actually the point of government.  Not like the Pharaohs, who considered the purpose of his subject's lives was to glorify the state and his own royal person by slaving away at constructing elaborate tombs.  Rather, government existed for the purpose of upholding justice. Glorification of the state was not the point of government, but rather the state existed to serve the individual by providing justice.  As it is recorded in scripture, in the Kingdom of Heaven to "rule" is to "serve".    This view of government was a wellspring of human liberty.  It was the basis on which the Democracies and Republics of the West were established.

For much of this period most education was conducted by the church or by local communities.  It is not surprising then that during that time educated persons were trained to understand that the state was not absolute, that even the king (or Parliament) is but a minister of God and is duty-bound to rule justly, and that individuals could claim rights even against the mighty state.   This policy carried over unto America, where the people as a whole were supposed to rule.   That is, a Bill of Rights was recognized which constituted areas of life beyond the just reach of the state and therefore not subject to majority vote.  

As the state itself began to take over education this doctrine of government was first de-emphasized, then ignored, and now suppressed.   In its place the post-modern state is not devising a new system, but re-incarnating an old one.   A neo-pagan view of government is now emerging which claims that there is no Divine Will separate from and above the state, or if there is it is mandatory that the state disregard it.    The Collective Man will become the new god, and some new Ceasar claiming to speak "for the people" will represent this "god's" will on earth.

The current crop of "progressives" is not bringing humankind progress at all, but rather regression to an oppressive period of human history where the desires of the state triumphed over the will of the individual without limitation.   In Roman times the Emperors made themselves out to be gods and used the state as their instruments to enforce their "divine" whim.  In the new order a vast collective called "The People" will insert itself into the role of the Divine, using the state to enforce its whims.  The voice of the people will be considered the voice of God.
 In this view "rights" can only be mere grants of the state, not something the individual is entitled to by a power above it.   They are thereby transformed from restrictions on the state to political tools of the state.  They become the means by which groups favored by the state are granted new privileges at the expense of the disfavored group's freedom. At that point the substance of individual rights, as claims by individuals against the state, will vanish. The word may persist without substance for some time, but only to be used by whatever small group is really running things as a fig-leaf to cover the state's trampling over some groups in favor of others.

Our only hope of sustaining liberty is for us to revert to the view of government which produced it.  Should we fail to do so the result will not be a government without god, but rather the false god of humanity collectively deifying itself under a new "divine" ruler.   Only a government with a true divine right to govern can have divine limitations on its governance.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Current Ruling Class as a Corporate Commodus

Most of us have seen the movie "Gladiator" in which Joaquin Phoenix chillingly portrays the deeply disturbed Roman Emperor Commodus. The movie fictionalizes Marcus Aurelius character concerning the events surrounding who should succeed him, but what a great movie for what it says about real life.   Let's take a case in point. Here is an excerpt from the original script for the movie "Gladiator" by David Franzoni and John Logan:

  And what pays for it?  These games
  are costing a fortune and yet we
  have no new taxes.

  The future.  The future pays for

A beat.  She looks at them.

  He's started selling the grain


  That can't be true...

  He's selling Rome's reserves of
  grain.  The people will be starving
  in two years.  I hope they are
  enjoying the spectacles because soon
  enough they will be dead because of

The Senators, representatives of the Patrician class in Rome, are shocked when they hear that Commodus is selling the future just to keep the masses happy now.   As viewers watch the movie, they too are supposed to be shocked and sympathetic towards the group as they plot a coup against the madman who has taken over their government.

It is too bad that more of those same movie viewers fail to notice that what madman Commodus is doing in the movie is extremely similar to what today's ruling class in both parties is doing to us right now.   They are expanding government rapidly even though it is clear that we don't have the money to pay for the government we have now.  Like the insane Commodus, they are doing it by selling the future, in this case by using debt to pay for all the goodies they deign to dispense to the masses, after their friends take a large cut of course.

For many years Americans trusted the experts to run the country for us while we pursued the American Dream.  It turns out they ran the country for their own benefit and stole the American dream from our children.  Only the hollowed out remains of an economy shackled by debt remains.  If we don't quit out-sourcing the job of protecting our liberties to two D.C. based political clubs which have ruined our children's future to enrich their global cronies then nothing but debt-serfdom remains for our progeny.    

It is not just inefficient welfare programs at home that our government squanders money on. That money is just to bribe the lower classes into supporting the current system in which the ruling class systematically loots the middle and upper middle classes.   Do you realize that the United States has already budgeted more money, even after adjusting for inflation, to rebuilding Afghanistan than it spent rebuilding 16 European nations after WWII with the Marshall Plan?    That is because its not really about rebuilding Afghanistan.  It is about enriching the defense contractors and international construction firms who profit by our insane policy of blowing up bridges with million dollar cruse missiles and then re-building them again until the next time we blow them up.

It is shocking how much money the United States government borrows on our credit and then spends overseas.   Not only is the debt overhang hurting our economy, but the fact that those dollars leave our shores and are sucked out of our economy also hurts.  These studies of which states get back more from the federal government than they pay in never seem to account for the borrowing.   That is, a state may pay in less in taxes than it gets in federal income, but such accounting does not consider that FEDGOV is borrowing forty three cents for every dollar it spends.   

When you factor that in you will discover that we don't have a situation where half the states are better off with our current FEDGOV and half the states are worse.  Instead you will realize that almost all states in the union are worse off because of FEDGOV's mad policies of borrowing mind-boggling amounts of money on our credit from the rest of the world and then spending that money stimulating other economies overseas, after their friends make a hefty profit of course.

Like the Senators in the movie, responsible people in our nation must come to grips with the stark reality that our present ruling class is corrupt or insane or possibly both.    Asking the institutions which they control, such as the Republican or Democratic parties, to fix it, is useless as well as delusional. They are not going to fix it.  They caused it and the interests which fund them profit from it.   One of their primary functions is to weed out candidates who are sincere in their efforts to fix it, which is why any candidate who is serious about ending these abuses is attacked viciously by the opposing party as well as by the establishment of their own party, as well as by the media.  You have some good people in the state legislature, and a handful in Congress, but it is the scoundrels who will get the real party backing.

What is the solution to this predicament?   Revert to self-government.   Is that a lot of work?  Sure.  That's why we outsourced the job of protecting our interests to these D.C. based organizations in the first place.  We were trying to get out of work, so we wanted to believe that people who don't know us in a city we rarely or never visit would look out for us.   Now we see that was an unreasonable, even foolish, expectation.    

The only moral path is the difficult one of governing ourselves.  For those of us who don't know how to do that, it involves building our own decentralized means of getting candidates to the ballot without vetting them through a national party.  In other words, by practicing the precepts in the Third Pillar of Localism.  In my state we have taken the first steps toward doing this with Neighbors of Arkansas,    We are challenging ballot access laws for independents and helping the few good independent candidates where we can.  It's no way to pick a President, but its the best way to pick a legislature.  And if legislatures are selected outside the current party system, its going to matter a lot less who the President is.   A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.   I urge you to take that first step by working toward something similar where you live.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Dissent and Progress

Dissent is rapidly becoming both criminalized by the government and demonized by the media. That includes the media which is ostensibly informational, such as news,  and that which is ostensibly entertainment, such as pop culture and sports media.  In the era of the Total State and the Great Collective, all media is indoctrinational, regardless of what purpose the viewer thinks is being served by it.   

It is not surprising that government and media are now moving in the same direction since both are increasingly owned by the same entities.   Mankind has had little enough experience with true self-government, and only a small slice of that has been in conjunction with mass media concentrated in an ever-smaller set of hands.   It may be that actual self-government for the citizens of any nation is simply not possible when the overwhelming majority of its mass media is owned by a few global entities.    The illusion of self-government might be preserved for a while in such circumstances long after the essence of the thing is gone.

In the past, tyrants who tried to lecture their populations on what values to have were often undermined by the popular culture- singers, comedians, and artists of all types.  Increasingly, government and the big media are working together to convince the population to look here and not there.   They are teaching them to feel and not to think. 

The people are repeatedly shown some graphic instances of evil in some foreign land until they demand their government intervene there- which was of course what those running the government wanted all along.   Meanwhile equally insidious evils are happening all around them, maybe even being perpetrated by that same government, but they are not shown that.  Our policy is formed based on what we see, and unless one makes a determined effort all one will ever see is what they wish you to be shown.  No question is asked what right we have to impose our judgement of what ought to be done on foreign lands of which we know next to nothing.   No question is asked whether our intervention will fix it any better than our previous twenty years of interventions, nor how the cost for it all will be paid.

Increasingly, thoughtful dissent from the conventional wisdom is viewed not as a right, but as a disease which undermines our unity and makes us weaker.   This is the collectivist view of dissent.   But if it is true, how did the United States ever become the greatest nation on earth, and why is it that the harder we are pressed into collectivist conformity the more we become mired in mediocrity?

During the time when America was growing economically, artistically, and technologically one of our defining features was our diversity.  Not the superficial diversity of race or sex mind you, but of thought.  This was true, maybe even especially true, of the most controversial questions.  Whereas European nations had some state-approved Church, in America groups of people who would be killing each other over their differences in the Old Country were living and working side by side. We did not all agree on how we should be ruled, or on any other issue.  We resolved these disputes through reason and compromise, not a demand for uniformity.

The Rugged Individualist is an American Archetype.   The term "Yankee Ingenuity" connotes a way of solving problems never thought of before, much less approved of, by the community.   When one uses the head and looks at the evidence of history rather than making decisions based on the emotions generated from exposure to a limited number of heart-wrenching images the conclusion is clear: dissent is not what is holding America back.  Our past respect for it is what permitted America to move forward.   Our accelerating march toward uniformity of thought and action has not made us better.   Its making us worse.  Dissent is not the disease, collectivism is.

Collectivism suffers from an inability to absorb feedback from reality.   Whether we are talking about economic reality, moral reality, or any other sort.   The individual members of the herd are not using their minds to gather information from reality, but rather dedicate their intelligence to detecting which way the leadership of the herd wishes to go.    Most of the herd simply quits thinking for itself.  It quits responding to other stimuli from reality, because acting on them is punished by the heard, while unthinking conformity is rewarded.   

Nations where the ruling class forces conformity, such as Islamic nations or nations such as North Korea where there is a long-entrenched totalitarian state, are backward countries. They are miserable places whose people suffer greatly for their inability to conform to reality.   They simply can't compete with societies where people are free to think for themselves and speak and act on what they discover. 

My fear is that such societies are becoming increasingly rare as a global elite senses that imposing a global collective is now, for the first time in history, within their grasp.   They may be able to control what is perceived as reality for almost all people in the West.   What they can't do is control actual reality. Frighteningly, I am not even sure they believe in a reality beyond human perception.  Further, by demonizing dissent and imposing a collective viewpoint, they eliminate the vital feedback mechanism by which a population's perception of reality is corrected by input from actual reality.

Following the herd requires a lot less thinking than acting as an individual.   It provides the illusion of an escape from both the hard work of independent thought and the sometimes heavy burden of individual responsibility.  This makes it an alluring trap for us all, but it is a trap nevertheless.  The reality is that humans are made to be social animals, but not herd animals.  We can only become herd animals rather than social ones by abandoning our moral free agency- by renouncing a part of what we really are.   By choosing, subconsciously perhaps, to become a herd animal we renounce a key part of what makes us human. 

I exhort you dear reader, to cling to your humanity.  To cherish it, and to offer it up to no collective on earth, be it a national government, a corporation, a political party, or what have you.  The collective says that dissent is the disease, but dissent is what permits a culture to stay connected to reality.  And the consequences for ignoring reality, for both individuals, groups, and nations, is painful and often fatal.   Collectivism is the true disease, and the freedom to dissent is the cure.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Beyond Ron Paul on Secession

Ron Paul wrote an article yesterday in which he found encouragement in the recent vote on succession in Scotland and the growth of such movements in general.   The Good Doctor sees such movements as the key to making government smaller and more decentralized.   Of course Paul has always been a fan of making relationships, such as the one between a state and the central government, voluntary rather than compulsory.   There is nothing really new in his position.

I am not sure that much of the media covering Dr. Paul really understands his position, or is even interested in understanding it.   Does he want Texas to secede from the union?   I doubt it, but he does want the federal government to respect both the limits set for it in the constitution and the states which comprise the union.   Right now, it respects neither.   And the reason it respects neither is because there are no consequences for it when FEDGOV disrespects them.   FEDGOV takes the position that its own employees (federal judges) are the final arbiters of the limits of the power of their employers.   Rather than find Dr. Paul's position radical, a fair and unbiased media might give more examination to the radical position assumed by our own federal government.

Without consequences for trampling on the constitution, FEDGOV will in time trample on the constitution.  Without consequences for treating the states with disrespect, FEDGOV will in time treat the states with disrespect.    Secession is not the first option.  It is not something desired of itself.  Its like a safety valve, something created in the hopes that it will never have to be used.   A safety valve is not a part of the primary function of a system, but it helps keep the system within workable parameters.   Its is not there to destroy the system, but rather by its presence prevent the system from destroying itself.   That is how the right to secede would function.

That is how it just did function in Scotland. Dr. Paul rejoices that Britain granted Scotland more local control as part of the effort to induce them to stay in Great Britain.   Brining control closer to the individual, making relationships voluntary instead of compulsory.   Those are the things Dr. Paul was celebrating.

I myself have no interest in secession.   I think America is much better together than apart, but by "America" I mean the people of the nation, not the federal government.  At this point, we would be better off with a central government so much smaller and less intrusive that it would not be recognizable by any of the ruling class in Washington.  Secession would only be in desirable as a safety valve.  It would only be a last resort if Washington insisted on continuing with implacable ruthlessness its policies which gather all power unto itself.

The second of the seven pillars of localism is that there must be remedies by smaller governments against more central governments when they violate the compact which bound them together.  I think Dr. Paul is overly optimistic when he says that breaking into smaller and smaller states alone would bring more liberty and variety of currency.   To stop power from recentralizing each of the seven pillars of localism must be attended to.   Small states can fall prey to large ones.  We need a system of government which combines the protections and advantages of being large with a way to ensure political power is and stays decentralized and in reach of the individual.  Localism is that system.

In the end, it is either going to be localism or globalism.   The reason is simple: other less complete philosophies of government cannot protect their citizens from the various means by which centralizers consolidate power.   Secession is an important component of this process of decentralizing power, but as a safety valve, not a primary function.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

We Need to Talk, Really. Generations Talk Past One Another on Liberty

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In my state, the decision whether it is legal to make retail sales of (not possess or use) alcohol is decided at the county level.  In practice, this has resulted in half of the counties which are smaller and more rural staying "dry" while the larger more urban counties turn "wet" one by one.  My own county became wet a few years ago.  The general trend is not always true though, a county in the middle of the state containing one of our larger cities just voted down a proposal to go "wet."

What has happened behind the scenes is that the large retailers, such as Wal-Mart, want to sell everywhere and have grown tired of waiting on the citizens of each county to make that decision on their own.   These interests have arranged to send to the ballot a state-wide proposal which would take this decision out of the hands of each county and make the whole state "wet."

I am a member of a good state-based Liberty-friendly Face Book political discussion group and this issue produced a sharp difference between the majority of members- mostly older limited government conservatives, and a smaller and younger contingent that is libertarian, maybe even anarchist, in their outlook.   As a localist I of course argued for letting the citizens of each county decide where they wanted the rules while the young libertarian/anarchists applauded centralizing this decision on the grounds that it was absolute tyranny for others to tell them what they could or could not sell in their own business.

The dispute was sharp, but I am on good terms with the L/As in our other Face Book relations and nothing we were saying to one another changed that or was going to change it.  Still, the older conservatives who ran the group deleted the whole discussion.  The argument between the two groups troubled them.  By deleting it, I suppose they were hoping that this display of disunity could be swept under the rug and we could all stand together for liberty in general.

The thing is, it isn't going away.  The young liberty minded people have a philosophy of government, one which will cut across many issues in a way which will be objectionable to old school limited government conservatives and localists alike.  The moderators may sweep this one issue under the rug, but it will come back on another issue.   That is because the older limited-government conservatives (LGCs) and the younger libertarian/anarchists (L/As) use different means to evaluate public policy issues and they are talking past one another mostly without realizing it.

The LGCs tend not to have an interconnected philosophy of government.   They mostly make their decisions from their gut and use 'common sense' about when government has gone too far.   They look at issues one at a time and don't connect them to some over-arching principle.     I can understand that, because it takes a lot of work to develop a comprehensive and coherent philosophy about anything.   Most of the LGCs don't like government enough to want to put in that kind of effort on a philosophy of government.  They just want, in most cases, it to be smaller and less expensive.

This is also one big reason why LGCs keep losing.   When a minor policy change occurs they often don't even understand that they are under attack until the left, which obsesses on government and often actually does have a well thought out philosophy, has advanced their goals until the outcome is almost a fate accompli.  They don't get stirred up until it starts to step on their toes, and thus LGCs are often reactionary.  The left initiates a change, then the LGCs get up in arms about it.  But you can't win by playing defense all the time.   You have to understand what your aim is if you want to achieve it, and you need a filter to help you understand whether or not each idea or politician who comes down the pike is going to help or hurt in achieving that aim.

This lack of a comprehensive philosophy also explains why LGCs are disappointed so very often by politicians.   The establishment can just pick one of their own to make a few belligerent statements which sound good to LGC and they will trip over themselves to support them.   Nevermind that the politicians has made some policy changes in other areas which ought to be red flags for the LGCs, or that they make establishment hires.   Without a comprehensive filter the means of catching the early warning signs that candidate X is a fraud simply does not exist.   No wonder LGCs have spent so much of the last 20 years dashing from one would-be champion to the next, only to be disappointed each time.

But my main point for this article is that the younger generation, the L/As, have an integrated philosophy of government.  They have a filter to which they apply all policy proposals and screen all candidates.  Their philosophy centers around the non-aggression principle.  This is the idea that it is wrong (even for the government if there is one) to initiate force or fraud.  This is based on the principle of self-ownership, that each person is their own sovereign and thus there is no magic being called "government" with any more power or moral permission to use force than the individual.  By this standard, laws which to LGCs seem to be trivial irritants or even desirable restrictions which reasonable people agree to because certain activities have a long history of resulting in public harm, are to the L/As unbearable tyranny, and gross infringements of what they declare to be their "rights".

The root of the conflict is this, the LCGs have no filter which permits a systematic evaluation of policy, and the L/As have a flawed filter which cannot distinguish between true government violations of fundamental rights and minor inconveniences over regulations which are commonly understood to be part of the price of living together in a civilized society.

As I said before, it is hard work developing a valid philosophy of government.  Humans take the easy way out whenever they can.  For LGCs, this means pretty much ignoring the subject entirely, for L/As this means picking up a truncated, simplistic and incomplete philosophy of government which is too brief to really contain all of moral reality as it pertains to government.  Albert Einstein once said "Everything should be a simple as possible, but no more so."   It is likely that the libertarian position, and certainly the anarchist position, is simpler than is possible.

While it may be too simple to serve as a workable and just philosophy of government, it serves well at giving the younger generation a superficially plausible basis to feel morally superior to LGCs and true statists alike.  Too be fair, the younger generation has been put into a very difficult spot by their elders.  They have been handed an economy crippled by debt, a political landscape controlled by two corrupt and big-spending party machines, and a government which is moving aggressively against more and more of our true fundamental rights each day.  In such an environment, a philosophy which the younger generation can throw in the face of their elders and say "who are you to tell me that I can't smoke pot" from a nominal moral high ground is very appealing.

It is so appealing that I am telling those of you in my generation and above that avoiding the subject is not going to work.  Hoping it will go away will not work.  Trying to charm your way around it won't work.  If that is your plan, or if you have no plan, then you are going to lose the next generation, because even though what they have in terms of ideas is flawed, if you don't have anything better to offer them you will lose them.  You can't beat something with nothing.

It does not matter that they are getting it wrong.   A philosophy which lumps having to drive to the county line to buy your whiskey in the same category as suspending the 2nd amendment is obviously too coarse in its categories.   That they could support the idea of taking a decision to make alcohol sales legal from the county level, closer to the individual, and moving that decision to a central location, farther from the individual, is clearly the wrong direction almost no matter what the decision.  Supporting the expansion of the central state's power when it does as you wish will leave us all with an oppressive central state.   Especially for the anarchists among them, if they are counting on the central state to promote their version of "liberty" on people in counties against their will, they are doing "liberty" wrong.  They become exactly what they preach against, and I have coined the term "liberauthoritarians" to describe them.

None of that matters though, if limited government conservatives don't finally make the decision to do the hard work which should have been done many years ago and adopt a more comprehensive philosophy of government.  A philosophy against which we can measure any proposed government policy and any candidate for public office.  Naturally, as the author of the work "Localism, A Philosophy of Government" I hope you will make Localism your standard.   If you find one more to your liking, use it instead, but by all means adopt one.  Its the only way we can start talking to one another, not just past one another.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New Print Version of Localism, A Philosophy of Government is Out!

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Until now, Localism had only been available as an E-book, except for a few rare hard covers of an early edition.   The fourth edition is the best yet.  In the end, it is going to be either globalism or localism. If for no other reason than because no other philosophy of government can defend its society against globalism. For those who believe government should be limited but notice we are losing and don't know why or what we should work toward to stop it, this book is for you. Click the picture above to buy the book.

We Need to Take Your Freedom to Protect You From the Monster We Created

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Most knowledgeable people know that Al-Qaeda was, and is, funded by the U.S. and its allies in the mid-east.   It started as a loose coalition of Jihadi groups which took aid from the Saudis and the U.S. and they have been getting aide from the U.S. and the Saudis ever since.    It appears, depending on your view, that 9/11 was a case of Dr. Frankenstein losing control of the monster he created.  Since then there has been a conflict between that Al-Qaeda and the "good Al-Qaeda" that our state department still wants to fund.  Not that any faction of them are really good, it is just that our state department imagines that they control some factions because they will cash our checks.

Once Obama made it clear that Malaki had to go, Putin gave Malaki is full support.  Two months later, Sunni terrorists show up and seemingly out of nowhere with U.S. equipment and take over a third of Iraq.   Only when they attack the Kurds does Obama order a very limited attack.

ISIS is a spin-off of Al-Qaeda, and its members were trained by the United States and funded by the U.S. allies Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.   It increasingly looks like our government itself is the one creating the boogieman that they use as the excuse to take away our freedoms.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Fatal Conceit of Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius was the last of Rome's "Five Good Emperors."   As a Stoic philosopher, he lived a simple life with (for an Emperor) few pleasures.   His creed as shown above dictated a life of virtue, but not devotion to the gods.    He was what we would call today a "salvation by works" kind of guy.  He reasoned that if he lived a good enough life, then just gods would allow him to be welcomed into their company.  If they were unjust, then being admitted to their company was not desirable.  If no gods existed, then hisr noble life would at least inspire his loved ones who lived on.

The man was a fabulous and just emperor all the way to the end of his reign.   His highest pleasure seemed to be ruling wisely and justly.   Examining his performance, and those of his four  predecessors, could almost convince one of the virtue of the central state left in the hands of virtuous rulers.

Aurelius though, had a fatal conceit.  Fatal to the Roman Empire and the ideas of justice he cherished.  He did not understand his own nature. Men are not good, except when compared to one another.   None can be trusted with great power over others indefinitely.   It goes to their heads, in most cases in ways that are obvious, and in other cases ways that are more subtly but just as vainglorious and destructive.

In the Christian view, the religion that was sweeping through the empire during the reign of Aurelius, devotion to God was not just another way to earn points to get accepted into God's company.  Rather it was a heartfelt response to the knowledge that though we are not virtuous, God Himself provided a way into His company which we could not otherwise earn.  By the tenants of this faith none are righteous, none are worthy, on the basis of our own virtue, to sit in the presence of God.  Indeed, in the course of time the great thinkers and theologians of this faith concluded that none but God alone are worthy, on the basis of their own virtue, to sit on a throne over the rest of mankind.   The rulers need restraints on their behavior as much as the ruled, perhaps more so.  The law of heaven, whatever it may be, was above both and if the laws of man did not reflect its heavenly ideal then it was the rulers who made them which were unjust, not the citizens who might demand their abolishment.

None of the previous "Good Emperors" had a son of their own blood.  Each of them adopted as sons someone who was responsible and as virtuous as humans can be.   Though sitting on the throne would in time reveal the corruption present in any man, they wisely picked men who had already shown an aversion and resistance in corruption and in whom the habits of moral living were deeply ingrained.   The mortality of man would take them from the earth before the corruption of the throne had greatly marred their character.

Not Aurelius.  He had a son of his own blood, Commodus.  He was determined to make his own son the next Emperor rather than to continue the tradition of adopting someone who had shown themselves worthy, at least for a time, of holding such power.   Commodus loved corruption as much as his father loved justice.   Commodus had a close-up view of his father's sanctimonious living and self-righteous attitude.  Rather than being attracted to it, as Aurelius assumed his loved ones would, he was off-put by it.  He went the other way with reckless abandon. He denied himself no pleasure, and he took no delight in justice.  It was a pagan version of the "preacher's kid" syndrome, which is to say, a consequence of an excessive pretense of self-righteousness in parents, whatever one's faith.

The rule of Commodus was a disaster.  That was the beginning of the end for mighty Rome.   The wilful decision of Marcus Aurelius to make Commodus his successor rather than adopt someone who had demonstrated a life of virtue was an outcome of his fatal conceit which dominoed into the destruction of the Roman Empire.  Despite his philosophy and life of good works, with such a great blame laid at his feet one can imagine that even were the Roman gods just, they might justly ban him from their company.

New Edition is out in E-book Form, Print Version Due in Two Months

The fourth edition of "Localism, a Philosophy of Government" is now out in E-book form.   A print version is also in the works, but it will be about two months in the making.   The new edition contains about twenty total new pages of content which clarify and amplify several key points.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Crimea Uproar: Why Shouldn't Regions Be Able to Change Sovereigns?

The governments of the West seem to be in an uproar over Russia's recent annexation of Crimea.  The Western Media, which is to say the establishment media in the West, is trying hard to stir the pot.  People should not be fooled by this fear-mongering and propaganda.

Here is what is really happening in the Ukraine: The population was very evenly split between ethnic Ukrainians and ethnic Russians. The government of the United States and other western governments have pumped billions of taxpayer dollars into Ukraine in an effort to influence the outcome of their elections.  How would you feel if you discovered other nations where doing the same to us?  In addition to being seen as a tool of the west, the party the U.S. government was backing turned out to be corrupt.  Because of all of this the swing voters in Ukraine gave the pro-russian party a chance.

When the pro-Russian party, who won the election after all, expressed a preference for a partnership with Russia over the EU, the western-backed party protested and more until the government fell.  The government was in Kiev, where the local population was very pro-western.   The pro-Russian voters were all in the east.  In other words, just because those who supported the government were not handy to counter-riot in the capital, the results of the democratic election were overturned in a coup.

Just like we have treaties with other countries allowing us to keep troops in them, Russia had a deal with the Ukraine which allowed them to keep up to 25,000 troops there.   In response to the coup, they sent in 16,000 to protect the rights of the ethnic Russian majority in Crimea.   The Crimeans held a vote, and 96% of them voted to leave the Ukraine and join with Russia.  They voted to change state affiliations.  This returned Crimea back to Russia, where it was prior to some communist changing lines on a map in 1954.

We should have never spent billions trying to meddle in who the Ukrainians elected to their government in the first place.  It is not our business.   We should not have supported the recent coup over a democratically elected government.   And we should respect the desire of the ethnic Russians in Crimea who want to be ruled from Moscow rather than the rioters in Kiev.  Why are we the ones going around now telling people that what they want does not matter, that they have to be chained together in political union with people they don't like and who want to take the country in a different direction?  Because some communist redrew some lines on a map in 1954 and moved Crimea from Russia to Ukraine?  Why is that so binding?

If there was ever a time to mind our own business, this is it.  Unfortunately our state department seems to be incapable of restraint.   The same out-of-control federal government which goes around meddling in our lives and making us angry with it is also using our tax dollars to meddle overseas and make people around the world angry with us.  There is no reason why foreigners should be any less irritated than we are with our federal government. It is going to be at least as tone-deaf with them as it is towards us.  What happens when we finally realize that we are broke and facing a world full of people that we hacked off with our constant interventions?

Ironically, it is in our best interest for Crimea to go to Russia.   Maybe now that the pro-Russian parties have all the votes they had from Crimea, the rest of the country will elect pro-western leaders.   With Crimea gone, they won't have to foment a coup to get a pro-western government in Kiev, one can be legitimately elected.  We don't need to intervene to save Crimea.  The Crimeans consider that they have already been saved by Russia.

Of course there have been hysterical claims that this is just like 1938 and Hitler, with Crimea serving as the Sudetenland.  I have heard people say if we "let Putin get away with it" we are like Chamberlain and have not learned that you cannot appease tyrants.  They forget the most important part.  Hitler taking the Sudetenland was not the problem.  The problem was that he had no intention of stopping at the Sudetenland.  Anyone who read his book knew that his goals were to seize not just lands full of Germans who wanted political unity with Germany, but a great swath of Slavic and other lands as well.

Hitler did not stop at the Sudetenland.  If he had, World War II would have never happened.  He quickly took the rest of Czechoslovakia as well.   This demonstrated that he was not after merely in favor of allowing local German populations political self-determination, but in denying those rights to neighboring peoples.   After that the world was wise to him, but of course they should have seen it coming.   He rose to power on a platform which included taking land from the Slavs and giving it to the German Master Race.

Where is the evidence that Putin wants to do the same?   It is very likely that he wants Russia to have a lot of influence in countries that were a part of the former Soviet Union.  We also want influence in those nations. That is why we have filled many of them with our military bases and give them "foreign aid" (taxing the middle class in our country to provide bribes for the rich people in other countries).   I am sure he wants Ukraine to pay the billions of dollars they owe Russia for the Russian gas they took. If someone owed you that much money, wouldn't you be interested in getting it back too?  That is not the same thing as imperialism.  Putin is no sweetheart I am sure, but he is not Hitler.

This brings us to the larger issue.  Why is it "bad" for people to vote to move from affiliation with one political entity to another?   Why are the lines drawn by some political appointee on a map in the past more relevant than the wishes and desires of the people who are alive right now?  Why can't a group of people, especially when the vote is a 96% super-majority, move from one political unit to another without bloodshed?

I am a localist.  Localists have a principle, it is one of the seven pillars of localism, that affiliations between political entities should be voluntary, not coercive. For every political union, there should be a means spelled out to legally dissolve that union.  It is helpful if they are laid out in advance, but even if they are not, the principle is still a just one.   An example of this principle would be a state deciding to leave the union, or a county or group of counties within a state either joining another willing state, or if they are of sufficient size, becoming a new state themselves.

Localism believes that hierarchy and collective are inherently untrustworthy.  Government is both. A political union sustained only by force will not serve people well.  The easier a government is to get away from or alter, the more reluctant it will be to step on the toes of those who have to live under it. The whole aim of the sixth pillar of localism is to subject government to the free market- that is, the choices of individual persons.   Only then, when the opportunity costs to alter and/or escape a government which displeases one are quite low, can government be kept as servant and not become master.

People have different ideas about what a good government would look like.   We should not expect there to be one right answer for what good government ought to look like, because people are different.  In a society built on the pillars of localism, governments will not look alike, but they will each look more like those who live under them wish them to look.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Moving up the E-Book Charts

I was pleased to see that Localism, A Philosophy of Government, was in the top 100 in two of its five categories on, #58 on History and Theory of Political Science and #92 on Ideologies and Doctrines under the "Politics and Government" category. Egghead categories I know, but someone must care about them....

Friday, February 7, 2014

Till Freedom is Gone, The Pursuit of the Hegelian Dialectic in Life and Government

"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." - Thomas Jefferson.

I once had a man tell me that he was voting for a particular Democratic candidate because he (the voter) was "a Jeffersonian Democrat."   I told him if Thomas Jefferson could somehow spend twenty minutes talking to his candidate, he would probably challenge him to a duel.

Men like Thomas Jefferson aren't welcome in the Democratic party anymore, nor much these days in the Republican party.  Both are increasingly centralized collectives, where the pressure to be a "team player" grows stronger each decade.   To be clear, the folks back home who elected someone to an office are never considered to be the office-holder's "team", rather the globally-financed collective known as a political party is.  

When the goal becomes unity or agreement rather than truth, principle is not just irrelevant, its a hindrance.     This process of squeezing principle, which is to say what is right and wrong, out of the equation of government occurs at least twice- one is the pressure to conform within one's own party and the second when some accommodation between the two parties is sought.

How did we ever reach such an unprincipled place?  Some readers might not be familiar with the Hegelian dialectic, and Dean Gotcher's expose on it, but we should.  The results are affecting our lives daily.  The Hegelian dialectic is another way to resolve disputes besides the classical way of presenting evidence to determine who is "right" or "wrong".  With the Hegelian dialectic truth or falsehood is irrelevant to problem solving.  "Truth" need not even exist and becomes irrelevant to the process. This makes the Hegelian Dialectic the method of choice for dispute resolution for a post-modern culture which has rejected the very concept of absolute truth.

This is how the Hegelian dialectic works: It starts with a Thesis (an idea or proposal).  Standing against the thesis is an Anti-thesis (an opposing idea or proposal).  The goal is "Synthesis", a compromise or coming together of the two positions.  Thesis - Anti-Thesis ---> Synthesis.  Of course politicians who "solve" problems using this method always compromise and never stand on principle.  That is because they are functioning within a model where compromise is the only principle.

While the ruling class has abandoned the idea of absolute truth, much of the population has not. This is often why people wind up talking past each other when having debates over issues.   One side is trying to make a case that what they espouse is true and right.  This side does not understand why the other cares so little for the evidence. The other side is trying to find "common ground" for accommodation and final synthesis of the two positions, and does not understand why the other is being so "intransigent".

It is often appropriate to find a way to come together with people, in particular in matters of style.  But when it is a matter of the truth or a lie, coming together produces a half-truth, which is to say an untruth.    With matters of right and wrong, this method of problem solving is guaranteed to never get the correct answer, unlike a dispute-resolution method with truth-discovery as the goal.

Sadly, our present culture has no love of the truth, and no patience with seeking it out.   Such a culture will invariably wind up drenched and permeated in lies, as our culture has become.  The mess we are in is not an accident.  It is the unavoidable outcome of our failure as a society to love the truth.  The problem will only get worse until people began to tire of it, repent, and value the truth as a goal above other things.

If and when a love of truth returns to our culture, our institutions will no longer automatically accept a Hegelian framework to resolve disputes.  Such a method is only appropriate on questions of procedure not principle.  That is, "how should we go about accomplishing "X" should only be addressed after it is determined on principle that 1) "X" is something that could be done and 2) "X" that we, whoever we are, are the proper ones to be doing it.

The health care debate is a prominent example of the problem.   The Democrats propose a major expansion of government, and the Republicans are automatically under pressure to "do something" to provide health care to Americans without it.   The idea that it should simply be repealed, leaving us back where we were until a truly better idea comes along, has been set aside.  Instead, they have produced their own plan, which is not that dissimilar to the disaster now wrecking havoc with the U.S. healthcare system.   The only thing many Republicans in Congress don't like about Obamacare is the Obama, along with the fact that their friends get too many of the bills and too little of the loot.   There is no objection on principle to more government plunder, only an objection as to the procedures and details by which it is distributed.

Within the Hegelian dialectic, whichever side makes the most demands automatically wins.  All the advantage then goes to the side who first demands the change.   Whenever someone advances a Thesis, those who hold the Anti-thesis view on that question are supposed to meet them in the middle.

If powerful interests wanted Americans to be subsumed into a global collective, they could do it by having the party most identified with centralizing and growing government be the party that is always on the offensive and making sweeping proposals.   Then they could make the other party, the one who is supposed to be the "opposition" to the growing-government party, a reactionary party.  That is, rather than pushing for big changes that truly roll back the size and scope of government intrusion into our lives, they simply react against the expansions proposed by the other side.   The media can then beat the drums for "compromise" and berate the passive party for "just saying no" and "having no ideas of their own."   The public's illusion of a free society is, for a time, preserved, but the march towards totalitarianism will never be stopped until the destination is reached.

If you wish you and your children to live in a totalitarian police state, just relax and keep doing what you have been doing- you need change nothing.  You can continue to invest all of your political capital in the two existing political parties and this will inevitably occur.   If you desire any other outcome, you must do something different.  You must become a part of a better way of doing politics which escapes and end-runs the Hegelian trap and makes government incapable of doing anything for which there is not broad public agreement. A model for this can be found at


Friday, January 3, 2014

Article V Convention Scenarios

Is an article V convention the last best hope to save the republic, or the quickest way to complete its demise?   Probably neither.   Two other scenarios are more likely.   The risk of a "runaway convention"  is less likely, but the probability is not zero, or even close to zero as some proponents of an article V maintain.   In this article, I will outline a less-likely, but still possible, disaster scenario in which the seeming "fail safes" are evaded, much to the shock and surprise of the folks back home.

To understand the basis for these scenarios one must understand the content of the article in question.   Amidst all the back and forth I have been amazed at how little attention has been paid to what is said, and not said, in article V itself.  Here then is the relevant text....

"The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress;"

In the above paragraph, who is writing the call to convention in an amendments convention?  Its Congress.   The states only apply to Congress to call it, but the text of the article says that Congress is the entity responsible for calling it.  Look again at the wording if you have any doubt.  I have highlighted the relevant words in red so at to more easily connect them.

A second question.  Who is responsible for proposing the method of ratification of whatever the amendments convention proposes?   Again, its Congress which proposes the method by which the amendments would be ratified.  I have highlighted the relevant phrase in blue.

So Congress is the one writing the call to convention.  Much has been made of the fact that the wording indicates congress "shall" call a convention.   That is to say, much has been made of the fact that congress is obligated by the wording to call the convention, but not enough consideration has been given to the fact that the wording gives them not just the duty, but the authority, to write that call.   A reasonable expectation is that they would perform this duty with the same devotion to self-interest which has marked the performance of all of their other recent "service."  Therefore I fear we can expect no good from an article V convention unless we first do the hard work of taking back congress (and to this point most states have not even taken back their state legislatures yet).

How might they rig a constitutional convention?  Many activists assume that Congress would write a simple call which would give the states maximum flexibility in how they might select delegates.  This assumption is not supported in the text of article V, and is not consistent with the behavior of recent Congresses.  There is nothing in the text of article V which restricts Congress in the drafting of the call to convention in any way.  Any dispute on this question would be decided by federal courts who have proven to be very favorable to their employers, even when claims of federal jurisdiction are not supported in the text of the Constitution.  And remember that in this case, the text does support claims of federal jurisdiction over the drafting of the call to convention.

Congress could decide to write the call so that there are "set aside" delegate seats for various organizations and interest groups.   With all this power at stake in one location, this high-stakes event will be of great interest to the lobbies which fund Congressional campaigns.   Why would this be the one occasion on which our representatives decided to listen to you rather than the people they have been having lunch with every day and who have been writing them large checks?  This would be the fund raising opportunity of the century for both D.C. based political parties.

So the Republicans might decide that each state's delegation should have a set aside for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce office in each state.  The Democrats might set aside seats for the state affiliates of Planned Parenthood, ACORN, and the National Organization for Women.   Both sides would be interested in making sure that the Federal Reserve and the large banks have significant representation.   Both sides would want to give lots of seats to the insiders who run the Republican and Democratic parties.   By the time they were done rewarding their contributors, few seats would be left for true grassroots delegates and little good could be expected from a convention where most of the delegates were simply picked from among the members of the present ruling class which has so twisted and ignored our current document.

Look at the way the two D.C. based political parties run their party conventions for a clue as to how those same people might write the rules for this convention.   Almost 20% of the delegates to the Democrat Convention in 2012 were "superdelegates" picked by the party with no input from the grassroots.   The Republicans had a similar class of delegates, which they called "unpledged" delegates.   But those represent just the most blatant end-runs around the democratic process.   Each state delegation also had their rules and procedures which amounted to a way for the party to get more "safe" delegates into those seats.   And they will write the rules to tilt the delegate selection process even further in their favor if they need to in order to maintain control- just witness the recent rules changes that the Republican establishment dishonestly rammed through in order to keep a conservatarian grassroots insurgency from taking root.

Still, just because terrible amendments are very likely to come out of an article V convention does not mean that those terrible amendments will wind up in the constitution.  There is one more significant protection against bad amendments becoming the law of the land, and that is a need for ratification in three fourths of the states.   State legislatures which are responsive to the people, or state conventions stocked with true grassroots delegates, would be very likely to refuse to ratify harmful amendments.   Proponents of an article five convention rightly point out that honest ratification conventions or state legislatures would refuse to ratify amendments blatantly hostile to liberty, and that 3/4ths of the states must ratify an amendment in order for it to be placed in the Constitution.

That argument is not without merit if you are trying to make the case that an article V convention won't change the constitution for the worse, but it does not speak at all to the other negative consequence of an article V convention- lost opportunity costs.   Congress' convention producing amendments that get blocked from ratification would make the outcome of this process a gigantic waste of time, energy, and effort.   Those whose argument for an article V is that we are running out of time would under this scenario use up even more time without getting any value from it.

There is no getting around the obvious conclusion that the "Amendments Convention" would be the convention that Congress wants to call, not the one you or I or Mark Levin wants to call.  Article V says that Congress calls it, not us, not the states, but Congress.  Federal judges won't even have to make excuses to hand their fellow federal government employees that power- it's hard-wired right into the text.  Those who say we have to do this because we are running out of time should have their argument turned right back around on them- we don't have time to waste for what would be in the most likely case a costly stalemate in favor of a corrupt status quo.

Another possibility is that even though the ratifying conventions are stocked with reasonably good delegates, they vote for amendments which they think will make things better but will in fact make things worse.  So not only would time, energy, and effort be wasted, but we would wind up with a constitution which codifies the establishment's over-reach.

How can this happen?  Well, at least two of Levin's proposed amendments fall into that category.   Superficially, they sound like they will be making things better but the practical effect of them would be to make things even worse than they are now.    See these pieces for a breakdown of his suggested amendments on taxation and on the judiciary.  Most of his other suggested amendments fall into the category of appearing to make things better but resulting in no significant change in the status quo- thus effectively making this another version of likely outcome #1- that the whole thing is a gigantic waste of precious time and resources.

A third possible outcome, and this is less likely than the first two perhaps but not outrageously so, is that the political establishment rigs not only the Amendments Convention but also the ratification conventions.   The people at the "leadership" of the Republican and Democrat parties have a history of getting along with each other better than they do the grassroots outsiders of their own parties.

It could be that Congress stretches its authority to "propose" the "method of ratification".   That is, instead of just saying "we choose ratification by convention", that they would go on to write, as a part of their "proposal", a list of requirements for delegates to the ratification conventions which would essentially shut the grassroots out.   The head of the state association of bankers may not represent your interests, but if they are in your state they could be a delegate in a ratifying convention.   Personally, I feel that this would be an example of over-reach, that Congress was only meant to say which method of ratification would be used and in either case the details would be up to each state.   The problem is that the text does not say that.   The text is silent as to how much detail Congress' ratification "proposal" might entail, and any disputes over those limits will once again be decided by federal courts.

Some states would not stand for such micro-management, and might refuse to even call a convention, or call one in defiance of congress' call to convention with delegates of their own choosing.   In anticipation of such an event Congress could simply write the proposal the same way they wrote the recent Affordable Care Act.  That is, if state governments refuse to set up their own health care exchanges, the feds set one up for them.   They will use the same tactic regarding ratifying conventions.  Any states who fail to set up a "proper" ratifying convention will have one set up for them by the establishment.   In my view this would be an outrageously improper and illegal action- much like all their other improper and illegal actions which they are getting away with.  Yet once it is done, they will have the constitution they want and you will be the one violating it, not them.

But they may not even need to resort to such tactics.   After all, if less than a dozen states refuse to set up their stacked conventions, they can still get their amendments passed by the stacked conventions in the other states.  And these will be amendments which basically amend our current constitution out of existence by making all limits on federal power subject to the discretion of the President (i.e. meaningless).

Heck, it may not even be Congress that does the stacking. It may just direct the Governors to draft the call. How many Governors in this nation really answer to the grassroots and not their party's establishment and big donors?   The top of both parties want centralized power.   They both want out of the restraints and limits on the central government which the constitution places on them.  Both have done and are now doing things forbidden by the existing text of the document.  Why wouldn't they cut a deal with something for both of them?   And why wouldn't the Governor go along?  Because he would be afraid of losing his $50,000 a year job in Arkansas that he can't keep but for eight years anyway?   These people can offer each of the 38 governors who sell out millions in return for their treachery.  And half the population won't even know what happened.

Friends, we are in a mess, and unfortunately there is no way out of this mess which does not involve a lot of work and a long time.   There is no way out of this mess which allows most Americans to continue to comfortably put their trust in one of the two existing Beltway Parties.  There is no way to get good policy while leaving in place bad personnel because ultimately personnel is policy.   I want a solution, just as bad as you do, (here is a start) but I am not going to let my apprehension cloud my judgement and rush into something that by every reasonable look at the text of the article and the recent behavior of our political class will be at best a gigantic waste of time and resources and at worst the coup de grace of our Republic.