Archive for March, 2008

Values for Sale in New York?

Posted in Elections, News, politics with tags , , , on March 31, 2008 by Randy Streu

The more I learn about former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, the happier I am we got rid of the scumbag.  For example, we have a recent article in the Albany Times-Union about how the ex-governor, in an attempt to gain a full democrat majority over the state, tried to eliminate Republicans from the state Senate. 

In essence, Spitzer, veritable fountain of goodness and ethics that he is, went around to various Republican state Senators asking if they’d like to switch party loyalties or else step down (making way for a Democrat instead) and accept a job within his administration instead.

Illegal?  It depends on the approach.  I’d like to believe he’d be smart enough to approach it in such a way that there was always a way to claim higher ground.  On the other hand, this is a guy who paid his hookers with a credit card and later seemed surprised that the system he put in place to catch such things actually worked

Regardless of legality, however, it is sneaky, underhanded and, at least in those cases in which Senators were offered positions within the administration, very, very unethical.

In part, tactics like this serve to illustrate the innate corruption in the two-party system.  In later essays, we’ll delve into the various flaws in such a system.  For now, suffice to say, let’s hope the new governor Patterson is too busy doing the business of the State to worry about the business of the Party. 

Actually, come to think of it, maybe him ignoring State business for a while wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.

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New Domain Name; Join us; Other News; More Content Forthcoming

Posted in blognews on March 22, 2008 by independentthinking

The Society for Independent Thinking blog now has a new domain name.  (Don’t worry — the old one still works.)  You can now access this blog at www.independentthinking.tk.

We are still in the process of procuring a full website for SIT; whereupon we will also begin the bulk of our work.  Those curious about what, exactly, we’re trying to do — or about joining the organization — can send email directly to r2 (Randy Streu): randystreu@yahoo.com.

Speaking of, Randy has also recently joined an organization called Freedom Defended.  This organization, like SIT, is dedicated to spreading Conservatism and in ensuring the survival of liberty in the US. 

And finally, more content is on the way, including further installments of “My Government.”

Keep checking back.

The Supreme Court and the Second Amendment: a Look at Language

Posted in civil rights, Constitution, national defense, News, politics, Second Amendment with tags , , , , , on March 19, 2008 by Randy Streu

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the US heard arguments on individual gun-ownership rights in Washington, D.C.  District of Columbia v. Heller is the first case before the Supreme Court to test this issue nationally, though it perhaps shouldn’t have been.  There are actually several lower-court cases in which this issue was incorrectly decided; but the timing is fortuitious in this case, as a majority of the justices seem inclined to accurately read the language of the Second Amendment.

The amendment, for those uncertain, reads, “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.”  And it is this language which causes the controversy (though a clear reading of the rest of the document shows that it needn’t be controversial). 

The anti-gun lobby reads the language to mean gun ownership is allowed only insofar as is necessary to serve in the military.  However, when you apply basic textual criticism, in reading the second part of the amendment, you see that the right, as such, to keep and bear arms, exists quite independently of the government.  Indeed, this the theme of most of  this nation’s founding documents: individual rights aren’t granted — only limited. 

This intent is clear in the language of the Second Amendment as well.  “The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  Not, “the people shall be granted the right to bear arms.”  The Signers were well aware of the difference in intent here.  The right to bear arms is a right we have, says the Constitution, and the government shall not infringe on that right.  Put another way, the Amendment basically says, “The government will not limit the right of the citizenry to keep and bear arms, and one reason for this is the need for a prepared militia.”

The language is key.  The Constitution, along with the Bill of Rights, do not grant a single right.  Liberty, as has been pointed out at this site before, and as has clearly been recognized by the drafters of the Constitution — especially if one takes the time to examine the other founding documents — is the natural state.  We are born free.  Governments don’t grant rights; only limit them. 

And the second amendment, regardless of reasoning, is clear in its mandate: the right to bear arms must not be infringed.

-Streu-

Hillary Clinton and the Socialization of Energy

Posted in Constitution, Economy, Elections, Hillary, News, politics, taxes with tags , , , , , , on March 15, 2008 by Randy Streu

Hillary Clinton stopped off at a gas station on Friday to talk about her energy proposals, purporting to lessen the burden on Americans.  As usual, her proposals sound like they make sense, until you understand that what she’s talking about will cost money, which will raise taxes, which will, ultimately, increase the burden on American taxpayers.

This time, though, she claims to have a way around that: make the big, bad oil companies pay for it.  According to Reuters, Clinton would mandate that oil companies either invest in alternative energy research and development, or be forced to pay out some of their profit toward such research.  In other words, either you invest, or else we’ll make you invest.  This is actually the gist of most of Hillary Clinton’s plans: either do what I say, or I’ll make you.  But she’s not a socialist.  Honest.

Now, no sane person would deny that it would be intelligent and responsible for an oil company to diversify into alternative energy sources.  Certainly, doing such research and making such investments could do much to further profits, as diversification often does.  Companies that do so, such as BP, increase not only profits, but their chances of being a viable energy company in the futre.

However, such investments must be the decision of the individual companies, based not on government mandates, but on their own business plans, profit margins, etc.  Because these businesses know their own resources better than Hillary Clinton (or anyone in government, for that matter), they themselves would best know if, when, where and how much to invest. 

Further, when private companies do the research and make the investments, there is greater incentive to do it right.  Right now, many alternative fuels are just as expensive, or more so, or perhaps just as harmful to the environment, or more so, as petroleum.  When the government mandates a minimum investment of time and resources, they get the minimum.  There is no incentive for companies to provide more. Because of this, a government-based program will fall short of perfection.  If there is an end-product, it will be more expensive and less useful than what was hoped for.  When companies are allowed to make the decisions for themselves, however, competiton breeds excellence.  Cleaner, cheaper more abundant fuels can be found by allowing the market to work, and businesses to lead.  Historically speaking, adherence to this approach made us a world power and a production leader.  Our drift away from these values and toward socialism has, perhaps in spite of the “best intentions” of those responsible, resulted in the decline over time of our economic superiority.

Beyond these obvious considerations, though, you have the even more obvious fact that this is the United States of America, a Constitutional Democratic Republic built on a free market economy.  You may not like what some of these companies do.  To you I would say, buy from BP.  You make your purchasing decsions based on these things.  If enough people do, maybe some of those companies who have been slower to look to alternative fuels will take it a bit more seriously.  And if not, then at least you have the satisfaction of knowing your money is being reinvested into something you care about.

Every time Clinton speaks, she proves herself a socialist.  For those with a brain to understand, socialism is and always has been a failure; it is antithetical to the values of personal and financial liberty; it is fodder for corruption.  These are historically verifiable facts about socialism.  Hillary’s determined backstroke toward this system ought to be a wake-up call; not a rallying cry.

-Streu-

The Peoples’ Republik of Kalifornia Rejects Parents’ Rights on Education

Posted in civil rights, Constitution, News, politics, taxes with tags , , , on March 8, 2008 by Randy Streu

In a court decision handed down on February 28, A California Appellate court officially rejected a parent’s right to homeschool his or her own child(ren), without a teaching certificate.

Now, since the evidence has shown that, even without state interference, homeschool students do as well or better than most public school students on standardized tests, a thinking individual might well wonder what the State’s stake is in this type of legislation, or the Court’s, in allowing it.  Clearly, it has nothing to do with academics.

 But what about socialization?  The ruling, cited above, did mention something about homeschoolers missing out on basic socialization opportunities, which could be harmful to their young minds — right?  But, study after study is showing, not only is the idea that homeschoolers aren’t well socialized apparently a myth, but some studies even make the argument that homeschoolers are better socialized.

 Indeed, if one were to simply read the published court decision, it would appear that the judges couldn’t be bothered to do any actual research on the subject at all.  Or, for that matter, the California Legislature.  A thinking person might also wonder why, when making a legislative decision, the Assembly wouldn’t do the research.  It only took me a few minutes on Google, and here I have links to peer-reviewed studies and journals, all of which seem to suggest that, on average, homeschoolers do just fine.

And here, I think, we find the heart of the matter.  Control.  As with nearly anything the Left makes a decision on, the core of said decision is made up entirely of Control.  And if the facts don’t bear out any sort of justification for the legislative action, then facts be damned.  They just turn to the Courts instead.

Wake up, people.  This ought to bother you.  This ought to anger you.  This ought to make you understand what it is we’re dealing with here.  It’s gone beyond good intentions.  This is about freedom, plain and simple — and those who would strip it from us.

-Streu-

A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

Posted in Hillary, humor, News, politics, taxes with tags , on March 7, 2008 by Randy Streu

hillandsatan.jpg

A most-emailed photo from Yahoo! News.  This had to be a great day for this photographer.  You know, until she found out and sucked out her soul.

-Streu-

Dear John: Don’t Make Us Regret This

Posted in Elections, John McCain, News, politics, Uncategorized on March 5, 2008 by Randy Streu

So, predictably at this point, John McCain has cinched the Republican primary.  Unlike most Republican nominees, however, McCain’s win seems not to be because of Conservatives, but in spite of them.  McCain’s win was handed to him largely by open primary states, which allowed Democrats and indies to help select the Republican nominee.  This is evident to anyone who deigns to pay attention: Conservatives don’t want to vote for John McCain.  McCain himself seemed to know this; he’s spent the entire primary process pandering to “independents and independent-thinking Democrats.”  This has not gone unnoticed by the core of the Republican party.  Even in these latest Primaries, where McCain was essentially the only viable candidate running, he barely scraped more than half the vote. 

Rather than celebrating, McCain should perhaps be wondering how he managed to alienate his party so badly, and what he can do about it.  It is a victory, for certain — but if McCain is half the Conservative he has recently claimed to be, it ought to ring as a hollow one.

I am one of many registered Republicans who has not yet fully made up his mind about whether or not to punch the ballot for McCain come November.  He spent the entire primary fairly blatant about neither needing nor wanting the help or input of my fellow Conservatives.  There’s a part of many of us that thinks perhaps he also doesn’t need it now.  It is this part of me that cries out not to pull that lever.

Then there is another part of me.  A more fatalistic part that says no matter what, we’re going to get somebody in office with a far more liberal record than I’d prefer.  It is this more logical side which suggests that 60% right is far better than 100% wrong.

Let’s step back for a moment from what this election means for Conservatism in general.  Others have touched on it already, and I’ll look more in depth at it in the future.  Let’s focus instead on this country’s direction in the next four years.  The time for hand-wringing is over.  Either McCain, Obama or Clinton will be in the White House for the next four years.

I’m going to pretend my mind’s made up — that I’ll vote for McCain.  It isn’t, and I’m not sure I will, but for the sake of conversation.  John McCain needs to understand that, whatever he thought during the Primaries, he does need the Conservative vote.  To some degree, he accepts this premise, and has indicated as much. 

He and his supporters cannot make the assumption, and should not make the demand, that Conservatives simply put aside their differences and fall in line.  “Shut up and do what you’re told” isn’t going to work anymore.  As I said, too many Republicans simply don’t want to vote for McCain — he hasn’t earned it.  There are plenty of legitimate reasons to consider not voting McCain, and those need to be addressed by the McCain camp if he hopes for victory — not merely waved off as annoyances or distractions.

McCain needs to court the Conservative vote.  He needs to start by choosing an acceptable running mate.  Not somebody he chooses under the guise of “bipartisanship” — Conservatives are about sick to death of hearing that word — but a strong candidate with strong conservative credentials.  He needs to show us — not just tell us — that his “gang of 14” days are behind him.  He needs to repudiate McCain-Feingold and McCain-Kennedy as the travesties they are — or at the very least establish a commitment to listen to our concerns on these (something which he has repeatedly failed to do) and examine the issues from a perspective of Constitutional law.  Both of these pieces of legislation aimed to accomplish something that a more Constitutionally-sound (and conservative) approach would have addressed better, and he needs to show a willingness to examine those options.  And he’d damn well better make good on his recent promises regarding taxation.

In short, McCain simply cannot take his nomination as a mandate for “business as usual.”  We’re not going to tolerate four years of dismissing or acting confrontationally toward the conservative wing of this party.  He’s spent his career as a Senator doing just that — four years doing it as president will all but guarantee a Democrat President for the next four years.  If I choose to vote for him this year, this is his second chance.  If he fails to deliver, there won’t be another.  Certainly, not from me.

-Streu-