Mind Games 2.0

Bloggin' 'bout science and life

Category: Politics (Page 1 of 5)

Burkean vs. Randian Conservatism

As is my want first thing, I got up and turned on the news this morning.  They were talking to two lawyers from the Federalist Society about their opposition to Trump and his attacks on the rule of law. One of the questioners made a quip that it must be tough to go home for Thanksgiving to a house full of Republican relatives who must be Trump supporters now, and she said it wasn’t because her parents are Democrats.  She said she became a conservative as a teenager when she first read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.  

A couple of minutes later, another one of the questioners of these two lawyers made a joke about throwing in some Burke to round things out.  The juxtaposition of Ayn Rand with Edmund Burke was jarring to me, and I’ve been thinking about it on and off all day, because it highlights the two major strains of conservatism in very stark contrast. 

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The Way To Agitate People Never Changes

This evening I went to hear a lecture by Dan Billin on the Noyes Academy in Canaan, New Hampshire.  The Noyes Academy was a school started in 1834 in the town next to where I live that was founded by local abolitionists and accepted both black and white students.  In August of 1835, the townspeople from Canaan, Enfield and Hanover, New Hampshire, dragged the school off its foundation and ran all the black students out of town.  

The short history of the school can be found in a chapter of the Canaan Town History.  In reading this chapter, one paragraph really hit home that things really never change.

In those days there existed a class of men, whose minds were constantly seized upon new and unheard of horrors, with which to influence and arouse the indignation of such as are always shocked at the recital of outrage and wrong. This class of persons like to pass from one state of indignation into another with abruptness, and always find the succeeding condition more intense than the preceding.

Sounds just like many of our current politicians and various infotainment outlets, who do nothing but foment rage.  So nothing is again new under the sun.

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A Modest Proposal For A Constitutional Gun Law

I watched some of the coverage today of the March For Our Life across the country.  It got my family thinking, given some of the commentary from the NRA and the Gun Lobby.

The 2nd amendment to the U.S. Constitution states:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

My proposal is that anyone who owns a gun, with some exemptions that I will enumerate below, must serve in the Militia – which today would be the National Guard.  

The only exceptions would be BB and pellet guns, 22’s, handguns with capacities less than 10 shots, shotguns with less than a 6 shell magazine capacity, single-shot, bolt-action or lever-action rifles, and all black-powder guns (my personal favorites in ).

Addendum:  In an article published in the Washington Post in 2014, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens proposed that 5 words be added to the 2nd amendment of the the constitution.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the militia, shall not be infringed.

That would do it!

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A Proposal For The Structure Of An Effective Balanced Budget Amendment To The United States Constitution

For nearly my entire lifetime, Republican Presidents and Republican Congresses have preached the virtues of balanced budgets, but have never acted in any way to balance a budget. Ronald Reagan, G. H. W. Bush, G. W. Bush, and the Republican Congress of the past year have exploded the National Debt because of their mania to cut taxes so that the national debts are not paid. Only the Republican controlled Congress under the leadership of Rep. John Kasich resulted in a balanced budget.

I completely agree with the need for a balanced Federal budget and no national debt (see George Washington’s admonition against debts in his Farewell Address). The reason that Republicans will not balance the federal budget is because of their fixation on cutting taxes but their complete spinelessness to debate the hard choices that must be made to pay for what we spend. Government has many responsibilities, and those responsibilities require appropriated monies.

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Does Everything in California Cause Cancer?

I saw this sticker in the window of a new car in my work parking lot a few days ago.  

Does everyone in California make as much fun of these stickers as we do?

Does the state of California this these are helpful and useful and informative?

I know no one who sees these that don’t express derision.

Are we really a society in which everything warrants a warning sticker.  

Is the state of California not in “cry wolf” territory now?

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A Conservative Principle to Guide Health Care Reform

For all the “conservatives” who rail against the ACA as a liberal take-over, you should go back and read your Adam Smith (remember, the guy who wrote Wealth of Nations – or more correctly An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations – the founding document of modern capitalist economic theory). His first book was The Theory of Moral Sentiments, a fascinating philosophical book that lays out the basis for what makes the Wealth of Nations work. His moral philosophy is undergirded by the Golden Rule. For example, this paragraph is from Chapter 1 of The Theory of Moral Sentiments:

And hence it is, that to feel much for others and little for ourselves, that to restrain our selfish, and to indulge our benevolent affections, constitutes the perfection of human nature; and can alone produce among mankind that harmony of sentiments and passions in which consists their whole grace and propriety. As to love our neighbour as we love ourselves is the great law of Christianity, so it is the great precept of nature to love ourselves only as we love our neighbour, or what comes to the same thing, as our neighbour is capable of loving us.

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Important Words About “Celebrating” The Confederacy

I have written here before about my heritage.  Some of my ancestors were Union enlisted men who fought and some died in the Civil War.  My family has always payed great homage to Abraham Lincoln and how he saved this country from those who would have destroyed this country because they wanted to own other human beings.  

Those who would argue that the Civil War was about “states rights” and not slavery should read the secession proclamations of the various Confederate states.  For example, Mississippi stated in the second paragraph of its declaration:

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world. 

Against this backdrop, some in this country have celebrated the Confederacy since the war ended. Much of this celebration of Confederate soldiers was actually directed at trying to rewrite this history.  Recently, many towns and cities across the south have finally decided that this rewriting of history and celebrating those who took up arms against the United States to defend slavery and human bondage can no longer be justified.  One of the clearest and most forceful statements about this legacy is the speech given this week by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.  Here is his speech in its entirety.  Bravo Mayor Landrieu!!!

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Can A New Sense Of Country Before Party Take Hold?

Among all the political and legal noise that was created last week, I think one thing that was sorely missed was this exchange between Gov. Kasich and Sen. Sanders.  I think both of these people have identified the important problems facing our country, and I agree much more with Gov. Kasich about what the solutions to those problems might be.  However, I, more than anything, appreciate the civil and intellectual tone that both take in this discussion.  This is what we need to get back to!

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More Words of Wisdom From A Past Leader

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Wisdom From Martin Luther King, Jr. For These Times

On 3 December 1956, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered an address to the First Annual Institute on Non-Violence and Social Change in Montgomery, Alabama.  I read this again last week and found much that resonated in today’s world.  One section in particular speaks to politics today:

Another thing that we must do in speeding up the coming of the new age is to develop intelligent, courageous and dedicated leadership. This is one of the pressing needs of the hour. In this period of transition and growing social change, there is a dire need for leaders who are calm and yet positive; leaders who avoid the extremes of “hot-headness” and “Uncle Tomism.” The urgency of the hour calls for leaders of wise judgement and sound integrity–leaders not in love with money but in love with justice; leaders not in love with publicity, but in love with humanity; leaders who can subject their particular egos to the greatness of the cause. To paraphrase [Joshua Gilbert] Holland‘s words:

God give us leaders!
A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts,
true faith and ready hands;
Leaders whom the lust of office does not kill;
Leaders whom the spoils of life cannot buy;
Leaders who possess opinions and a will;
Leaders who have honor; leaders who will not lie;
Leaders who can stand before a demagogue and damn his treacherous
flatteries without winking!
Tall leaders, sun crowned, who live above the fog
in public duty and private thinking.

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