Friday, April 25, 2014

Some prudence, please.

You can be "too prudent" in politics, I suppose, and end up as a mushy moderate afraid to offend anyone. But the Conservative Daily people don't have that problem. I had started getting their emails about half a year ago even though I hadn't signed up for them. As a conservative, I agree with most of what they believe in. Their main action item, however, is strategic nonsense, namely the impeachment of Barack Obama. Check that search link; it's pretty much a topic in every email they send me, and I suppose they are proud that they don't let weak-kneed cowards like me talk them into pushing for more reasonable goals such as electing conservatives like Mia Love or fighting Obamacare like the good people at Health Care Compact.

But here's my question. What happens in the off-chance that they succeed at impeachment of President Obama? Basically they would have spent a large amount of political capital to purchase (drum roll...) President Joseph Biden! It would be a slight variation on Marvel's HYDRA villain myth: "cut off one head and three-eighths of a head shall take its place." I also can imagine a cheesy K-tel announcer's voice: "But wait... that's not all. You will also receive a complimentary Vice President Hillary Clinton free of charge!" Yep--all teed up for her 2016 run.

Of course I think that these sort of groups are really just collecting money for vanity causes which they know won't succeed. And they are only one of the groups from which I get crazy emails. It does irritate me that they probably bought my email from a more legitimate source, but I don't want to restrict their freedom of speech or the ability of both mailing list buyers and sellers to engage in commerce. That's why I've posted my thoughts on Conservative Daily here, along with a general warning based on Churchill's wisdom concerning strategy and results. I've become very wary of posers and shysters in the world of the "tea party" and conservatism at large; of course I'm not the first nor the smartest to notice. My other action was to unsubscribe from their emails.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

To find the front lines in a war with Fascists, just look for the young men in tan shirts.

So during this break from whatever He Who Shall Not Be Named is posting these days, I have been taking one of those new-fangled “MOOC” courses online from Coursera.  The course I’ve been taking is on World History since 1760, and it has been terrific.  Anyway, the course came around to the topic of fascism, and the good Prof put up a quote from Mussolini describing fascism (emphasis added by me):

Against individualism, the Fascist conception is for the State. And it is for the individual, in so far as he coincides with the State, which is the conscience and universal will of man in his historical existence. It is opposed to classical Liberalism, which arose from the necessity of reacting against absolutism, monarchies for example. And which brought its historical purpose to an end when the State was transformed into the conscience and will of the people. . . .

. . . . Therefore, for the Fascist, everything is in the State, and nothing human or spiritual exists, much less has Value, outside the State.

This business about the State being the conscience and will of the people, without regard for external sources such as the spiritual, especially struck me given some of the attacks on our conscience that we’ve seen lately.   We’re running headlong into fascism, or more accurately, it’s running headlong into us.  

It was reported yesterday that the ethics committee of the State Supreme Court of California has unanimously recommended a total ban on state judges volunteering for the Boy Scouts, and that a federal judge in California anonymously(?) says that this ought to be the de facto rule for both state and federal judges, even if not enacted.

(Come on, your honor. If you're on the right side of history, why anonymous?)

One has to take a step back for this to really sink in:  here we have a long-lived organization that has the stated purpose of forming young men of character and virtue, indeed with a list of virtues (unarguable virtues) as their “law”.  Yet here it is proposed, by those in charge of ensuring justice, that it ought to be UNETHICAL for a judge of a court of general jurisdiction to volunteer time toward such an organization.  This is the essence of fascist conscience formation -- never mind what your conscience previously told you (based on external sources), this is your new conscience.

And so we have a culture, backed up and encouraged by the State, acting on a daily basis to form and enforce this new “conscience and will of the people” replacing that of us foolish individuals that may be based on external sources.  Of course, the government doesn’t particularly care what this new conscience actually proscribes (remember Obama’s “evolution” on same-sex marriage), so long as the external sources are marginalized.  And of course our government is all too willing to chime in with their own proclamations of the conscience of the State, by proclaiming that debate is over on such topics as anthropogenic climate change, and government-managed health insurance (which is being implemented in the true Fascist way).  Which is reaching its logical end with the IRS scandal, Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, and the Little Sisters of the Poor case.  (Why, all the Little Sisters have to do is sign a form -- that’s all we’re asking.  Of course, that’s all that St. Thomas More had to do, and all the Holy Maccabees had to do was eat a piece of pork.)

These are the stakes:  not only our consciences, but the right to even have an individual conscience.  Unfortunately, the battle must be joined.  It’s not a fight we picked, but it has picked us.  It doesn’t matter that the fight will be over small things that will be painted in political terms, because defeat begins with concessions on small things.  Just ask the Boy Scouts how their concession to the gay agenda a couple of years ago has worked out for them -- within the last week we’ve had Disney announce that they will no longer support their employees volunteering time for the Boy Scouts, and now this proposed ethical rule.  

Another old timer had something to say about that very thing, long long ago:

For all claims from an equal, urged upon a neighbour as commands before any attempt at legal settlement, be they great or be they small, have only one meaning, and that is slavery.

(Pericles last speech before the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War -- Thucydides, I.139-146.)

And just so --  the BSA is now enslaved.  Capitulating part way not only did them no good -- it harmed them among their friends, and weakened them in front of their enemies who now demand even more.   

This is where the battles lie.  We’d best be on the lookout for how we’ll each be challenged.

And no, the "Benedict Option" is not an option.