Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Obama's Blame and Shame


Unable to blame George W. Bush with a straight face anymore, President Obama is now picking on Republicans to blame for all of his political woes. At a recent fundraiser in Chicago, Obama was smoking the Saul Alinsky weed while making Democrats everywhere feel better about their failed policies. Here are a few of the choicest quotes from that speech:
We have a group of folks in the Republican Party who have taken over who are so ideologically rigid, who are so committed to an economic theory that says if folks at the top do very well then everybody else is somehow going to do well.
This appeal to class warfare runs deep in Obama's socialist-egalitarian dogma. Misrepresenting basic economics, he has to resort to distortions and lies to win the approval of the Democrat voting base. Then again, modern liberalism is dogmatically rigid enough to not be able to recognize its own double standard - that a group of economically elite liberals denounce the system that made them rich.

Republicans are then blamed as those:
who deny the science of climate change; who don't think making investments in early-childhood education makes sense; who have repeatedly blocked raising a minimum wage so if you work full-time in this country you're not living in poverty; who scoff at the notion that we might have a problem with women not getting paid for doing the same work that men are doing.
You have to admire the sweeping generalizations and dogmatic assumptions that, despite all of the years of progressive reforms, have never shown advances in any of these areas. Of course, to a liberal, merely paying lip service to dogmatic ideals is enough. Since Obama himself pays lip service to these ideals, it doesn't really matter, for example, that women in the White House are not getting paid as much as men.
So the problem … is not that the Democrats are overly ideological—because the truth of the matter is, is that the Democrats in Congress have consistently been willing to compromise and reach out to the other side.
This is an outright lie, but as long as Obama repeats the lie enough and the news media reports the lie, it becomes the accepted narrative and people believe it.
There are no radical proposals coming out from the left.  When we talk about climate change, we talk about how do we incentivize through the market greater investment in clean energy.  When we talk about immigration reform there's no wild-eyed romanticism.  We say we're going to be tough on the borders, but let's also make sure that the system works to allow families to stay together….
When we talk about taxes we don't say we're going to have rates in the 70 percent or 90 percent when it comes to income like existed here 50, 60 years ago.  We say let's just make sure that those of us who have been incredibly blessed by this country are giving back to kids so that they're getting a good start in life, so that they get early childhood education.… 
Health care—we didn't suddenly impose some wild, crazy system.  All we said was, let's make sure everybody has insurance. And this made the other side go nuts—the simple idea that in the wealthiest nation on earth, nobody should go bankrupt because somebody in their family gets sick, working within a private system.
It all sounds so reasonable, doesn't it? Except that it isn't. It is radical departure from the ideals of the US because it ignores the very foundations of our Constitution in order to give more power and money to a centralized government intent on a political revision of our society.

Such a dogmatic approach to government also denies its obvious lies. For example, Cap and Trade is not a market "incentive." Turning immigrant felons out in the streets does not "allow families to stay together." Making the affluent pay even more taxes isn't "giving back to kids" the money government has stolen from them by overspending. And Obamacare does not "make sure everybody has insurance." Far from it.

President Obama and the other children who run the federal government continue to blame everyone for the failure of US policy, except for themselves.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

America the Beautiful - Liberal Style!


On this day to remember our fallen soldiers, we used to celebrate with displays of patriotism and remembrances of those values that made this country great. In the modern day, such sentimentality from days long past doesn't reflect the modern, progressive standards of today's discerning American. With this in mind, I offer a new version of

America the Beautiful - Liberal Style!

O beautiful are liberal eyes
That see better than you
A government far overspent
And Congress' deep doo-doo!
America! America!
What has become of thee?
Thy grand allure
Is cow manure
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for cap and trade
For spending without fear
For greenhouse gases thought manmade
And taxes we hold dear!
America! America!
What has become of thee?
We'll pay the debt
Of government
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful our president
Obama is our man
Though maybe not a resident
He tells us Yes we can!
America! America!
What has become of thee?
Replace the Good
With Obamahood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for wordly praise
We give apologies
To ev'ry foreign government
And to our enemies!
America! America!
What has become of thee?
Praise on our lips
For dictatorships
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for gay desires
For same sex marriages
For overthrowing civil rights
And family heritage!
America! America!
What has become of thee?
Sex ed in schools
Will bend the rules
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for women's choice
Abortion's now our meme
For feminism's identity
We can't hear fetus screams!
America! America!
What has become of thee?
Our children's cries
Are now despised
From sea to shining sea!

May common sense prevail in our great country and restore America to its rightful place - and beauty - in the world. Remember what our founders fought for during the Revolutionary War in 1776.

John Adams: "There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty."

George Washington: "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action."

Thomas Jefferson: "The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object."


Patrick Henry: "I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Crap Children Are Taught in School - Common Core and Other Disasters - Part 2


In Part 1 of this topic, I mentioned only one example of the harm modern dogmas of education cause America's students, looking at a biology exam aligned to new teaching "standards."

In the past week, as I scanned the news and commentary about education, I found story after story that points to continued failures with modern educational philosophy. Here are some scary examples that should make anyone wonder about the politics and direction of our schools.

First, here's a reversed throwback from Berkeley in the 1960s:
At the University of Hawaii, Hilo, students were prohibited from passing out copies of the US Constitution. The students passing out the Constitution were told that they were breaking the rules regarding protests. The administrator who stopped the students from exercising their 1st Amendment rights said: "This isn’t really the '60s anymore" and "people can’t really protest like that anymore." 
One student has filed a lawsuit against the university for violating the 1st Amendment. (Source)
How about this scary statistic?
The public schools in Washington, D.C., spent $29,349 per pupil in the 2010-2011 school year, according to the latest data from National Center for Education Statistics, but in 2013 fully 83 percent of the eighth graders in these schools were not "proficient" in reading and 81 percent were not "proficient" in math. (Source)
Surely, having more than eighty percent of the students in public schools the entire city of Washington D.C. who are unable to read or do math should indicates that we're not on the right track with our public education system.

By the way, the liberal dogma that more money equals better results is completely debunked here, as Washington D.C. public schools outspend on each pupil most other schools in the nation.

How about this one?
In April, Craig High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance showed "Kids React to Gay Marriage," a 16-minute video of children reacting to marriage proposals between same-sex couples and sharing their thoughts on issues like gay marriage bans or whether they would stay friends with someone who told them they were gay. (Source)
The video drew flak from parents and the district superintendent apologized for the video, saying that the video should have presented "both sides of an issue or all sides of an issue."

Note, that the superintendent didn't apologize because the video presented a political issue to indoctrinate students into gay dogma. He didn't apologize for the immoral nature of the video. He apologized because it was one-sided.

Of course, in the liberal world of education, there is only one side.

How about this educational dogma:
The administration at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government has agreed to work with a student group to implement a "mandatory power and privilege training" as part of its orientation, according to several reports by the group. (Source)
Yes, now anyone who goes to Harvard's Kennedy School will be forced to adopt a socialist view of class warfare. Of course the school calls it "power and privilege," but the idea is really old Marxism with a new name.

Note the use of the word "mandatory."

How about the inevitable corporate buy-in to Common Core?
Across the state of New York, this year’s Common Core English tests have reportedly featured a slew of brand-name products including iPod, Barbie, Mug Root Beer and Life Savers. For Nike, the tests even conveniently included the shoe company's ubiquitous slogan: "Just Do It." (Source)
You'd think that the anti-corporate left would abhor such blatant advertising within Common Core testing, that is unless Common Core happened to be sponsored by corporations....

And lastly, a recent poll in the US discovered that average Americans think they are smarter than average Americans. (Source) As we grow ever more ignorant as a whole, more people have higher opinions of their mental abilities. After all, in our school system, everyone's a winner, and success is built on feeling good about ourselves.

The great economist Thomas Sowell often writes about the problems of the school systems and with the liberal dogma that drives them. Wrapping up our list today consider his wisdom:
There was a time when common sense and common decency counted for something. Educators felt a responsibility to equip students with solid skills that could take them anywhere they wanted to go in later life -- enable them to become doctors, engineers or whatever they wanted to be.... 
At a time when American youngsters are consistently outperformed on international tests by youngsters in other countries, do we have the luxury of spending our children's time on things that will do absolutely nothing for them in the years ahead? Are children just playthings for adults?… 
But to squander the time of [students], for whom education is often their only hope of escaping poverty, is truly an irresponsible self-indulgence by adults who should know better, and it is one more sign of the moral bankruptcy of too many people in our schools.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why Schools Are Failing

This chart, researched by The Heritage Foundation, shows the basic problem in our schools today. While student enrollment has increased only 8% since 1970, teaching staff has increased 60%, and the most telling number of all, non-teaching staff has increased 138%.

What this means is that school administration has exploded, taking money away from teachers and their students. After all, in the liberal mind, more centralized planning is always better. Right?


Monday, May 19, 2014

The Crap Children Are Taught in School - Common Core and Other Disasters - Part 1


I've spent the better part of my life in higher education. It's painfully obvious that, over the years, students have become less prepared in basic skills such as reading and writing but also lack the ability to distinguish good arguments from bad ones. Students also lack basic skills in time management, dedication, and, most importantly, honesty.

In higher education, such dogmas are reinforced, as university faculty and administration finds ever new ways to enforce rigid thinking and dogmatic conclusions.

As Common Core standards take the nation by storm as the "salvation" of public education, I see no benefit over previous systems, and in fact, see that Common Core standards exacerbate the failures of the past fifty years by centralizing an already bad system.

In the past few weeks, as I scanned the news and commentary about education, I found story after story that points to continued failures with modern educational philosophy.

To illustrate this point, I've collected several examples. Let's start with a new high school biology textbook aligned with standards developed under Common Core. Here are some essay questions from the final exam:
  • Earth is heated by global warming. How is the water cycle affected by global warming?
  • How does fossilized carbon get back into the atmosphere?
  • Describe two ways that technology has hurt the environment.
  • What is a greenhouse gas and how does it affect the temperature of Earth?
  • How does global warming affect the spread of diseases and the habitats of the animals on Earth?
  • How is the carbon cycle related to global warming?
  • What are two things that can be done to encourage sustainable resources for Earth's human population?
Can you see the pattern and the agenda here? These questions come from the final exam out of an entire semester of biology. In order for high school students to pass the exam, they are forced to adopt the opinions of liberal dogma regarding a highly-charged political question. The same question is repeated again and again and again, drilling into students liberal politics.

Whichever side of the globalwarmingclimatechangeclimatedisruption debate you are on, this exam represents indoctrination, rather than teaching. Besides taking up too much space in an exam that should cover the whole breadth of knowledge about biology, it prevents students from thinking, rather than encouraging it.

In short, it tells students what to think, and not how to think.

This post will become too long if I include the other examples of the failures of our educational system, so I'll leave off here and continue later with more examples of the destruction of education.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Liberals, Nihilism, and Education - An Abusers Guide

Liberal dogma asserts an anti-religious and anti-moral stance. We used to call this nihilism. Now we call it mainstream.

Nihilism used to be a dirty word. The nihilists were intellectuals who eschewed the absolutes of religion and morality. The most influential nihilists were folks like Nietzsche, Heidegger, Freud, Marx, and Weber. Twentieth Century academic liberals adopted much of the nihilistic philosophy, based on the rejection of absolute values, and incorporated it as a standard throughout the US university system. By the 1960s, the university system held nihilism firmly entrenched as a guiding philosophy of education.

The famous nihilists supplied us with an arsenal of terms for talking about nothing: charisma, life-style, commitment, identity (all from Nietzsche), caring, self-fulfillment, expanding consciousness, and so on ad nauseam. The fact that these phrases have such widespread use is a testament to the adoption and power of the nihilistic ideal.

In his book, The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom notes the following about the influence of the nihilists:
[Americans'] orientation became that of the self, the mysterious, free, unlimited center of our being. All our beliefs issue from it and have no other validation. Although nihilism and its accompanying existential despair are hardly anything but a pose for Americans, as the language derived from nihilism has become a part of their educations and insinuated itself into their daily lives, they pursue happiness in ways determined by that language....[These ideas provide] nothing determinate, nothing that has a referent....It is still a cause without an effect. The inner seems to have no relation to the outer. The outer is dissolved and becomes formless in the light of the inner, and the inner is a will-o'-the-wisp, or pure emptiness (p. 155).
The greatest proponents of nihilism are modern liberals, those Americans who reject absolute values and morals in order to accept the authority of the self - "the mysterious, free, unlimited center of our being." Yet modern liberals, for the most part, accept the philosophy of nihilism without understanding the roots of nihilism or the detrimental effects the philosophy has had on society.

Bloom continues:
Nihilism as a state of the soul is revealed not so much in the lack of firm beliefs but in a chaos of the instincts or passions (p. 155).
Here is the key to understanding modern liberals and their connection with nihilism. Modern liberalism bases ideals and programs on "a chaos of the instincts or passions." Such ideals can only drift from one extreme to another as instincts and passions change over time. Hence, modern liberal politics is a politics of feeling, of self, of instinct, of passions with no understanding of the underlying roots of its own behavior, let alone of the nihilism which drives it.

The lack of understanding stems from liberal nihilism infiltrating into the university system. Once nihilism was accepted as the standard, the university system rejected old values in favor of the new valueless system. In an amplifying feedback loop, the next generation of students came out of the universities immersed in nihilism, not realizing that they lacked anything at all in their education. They didn't even know enough to ask questions about what they might have missed.

There is a consequence to the adoption or acceptance of nihilism with no regard to US founding principles, morals, or religious constraints. Human nature always has a desire to some kind of foundation, some anchor from which to interpret life. By rejecting the foundational principles of the United States - Christianity, moral living, self-evident truths - the nihilist finds other ideologies to take their place - ideologies based on "a chaos of instincts and passions."

One of the best known historians of religions, Mircea Eliade, had this to say in his seminal book, The Sacred and the Profane:
Nonreligious man has been formed by opposing his predecessor, by attempting to "empty" himself of all religion and all trans-human meaning. He recognizes himself in proportion as he "frees" and "purifies" himself from the "superstitions" of his ancestors....He cannot utterly abolish his past, since he is himself the product of his past (p. 204).
Those who give up religion, morals, and foundational principles cannot free themselves from past principles because they are the products of the past and past experiences. Those who consider themselves "liberated" from the past can only respond to it, since without the past, they have absolutely no frame of reference.

Eliade gives this example of the attempt Marxists made to reject past values. Nihilists who buy into Marxism, socialism, or communism should note their dependance on Marx's substitute religion:
We need only to refer to the mythological structure of communism and its eschatological content. Marx takes over and continues one of the great eschatological myths of the Asiatico-Mediterranean world - the redeeming role of the Just (the "chosen," the "anointed," the "innocent," the "messenger"; in our day, the proletariat), whose sufferings are destined to change the ontological status of the world....Marx enriched this venerable myth by a whole Judaeo-Christian messianic ideology (p. 206).
What does this mean in real world terms? If we take, for example, a look at President Obama and his socially and fiscally liberal policies, we can see that all of his policies lack any definable reference to the foundational principles of the US. Instead, they adopt a Marxist version of a messianic ideology - the desire to create a pipe-dream world absolutely free from human problems. The government itself, just as Marxist doctrine taught, becomes the savior figure of the modern world. Obama becomes its chief prophet.

Those who do not accept nihilism can immediately see the problems inherent in this system. The ideology leads from a false premise to a false conclusion. Government cannot be salvation, since, by its very nature, is composed of people who do not transcend the problems of the modern day.

Nihilists presume to a knowledge of reality, yet it is knowledge based on a faulty system and a false premise. As Bloom states:
However profound that knowledge may be, theirs is only one interpretation; and that we have only been told as much as [the nihilist founders] thought we needed to know. It is an urgent business for one who seeks self-awareness to think through the meaning of the intellectual dependency that has led us to such an impasse (p. 156).
Without understanding the nihilistic impulse, without understanding the philosophical roots of nihilism, without self-awareness of the lack of knowledge of other systems, the modern liberal has no chance of breaking free from the boundaries set for them by ideologues of the past.


And today's nihilists will then be at the mercy of ideologues and tyrants.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lessons in Life: The Educational System Versus Real Experience


The other day, I attended a graduation ceremony of one of the local community colleges. The celebration mingled the usual collection of old and young, drunk and sober, rude and civilized, well-dressed to skanky. The graduation was held in the chapel of a Baptist church, as the community college had no auditorium large enough to hold such a gathering of people.

I hope the church charged a lot of money for renting out its chapel, as the audience and graduates alike left the place littered with programs, water bottles, wrappers, confetti, and balloons (some intact, some shredded).

As part of the ceremony, one of the students, Juan, gave the graduation address.

Juan told the story of the struggles he had in finding his path in life. His mother came to the US when she was pregnant so Juan could become a citizen of the US. Juan grew up on the streets, joined a gang, got involved in drugs, was incarcerated, and generally screwed up.

As Juan got older, he realized that he needed to change and to gain an education. He enrolled in community college. He walked a mile each day to and from the bus stop, then rode the bus two hours every day to school.

He started to learn. He became involved in many on-campus groups. He became a mentor and is now devoting himself to helping others learn the value of an education.

Juan's struggles were not unique. They are played out every day in the border states, and now in many other states with large populations of Latinos.

What is unique was the lesson that Juan learned about the value of education, and his own, personal climb out of ignorance and poverty. He wasn't handed an education, he earned it.

Such a story is a great example of what a person can accomplish when the educational system in the US is allowed to work, and the ideals of education can have free play.

There is a caveat, of course.

Juan, unfortunately, did not learn the most important lesson from his experiences. He never learned that self-worth and honor and education come from our personal struggles to achieve.

Instead, Juan learned that he would never have succeeded without learning that he was part of an oppressed class of people. He was taught, not in the values of self-determination, but in the values of class identity and unionism.

It's sad, really, that Juan's "education" got in the way of his own personal experiences and his determination to make a better life for himself. That was the lesson he should have learned. And that is what our educational system should be teaching.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Liberal Equality Is Never Equal

The other day, while waiting to watch a news video on the internet, I was subjected to a cell phone commercial. I didn't pay much attention to it (as I tend to ignore all advertising). At the end, however, I did notice the four "professional" women decided to "close" on a deal to use the cell phones. To the side, the one man in the group, looking like a bumbler, mimicked the women's gesture, showing that he too could make a decision like the women could.

It was a subtle, yet all-too pervasive, means of degrading men in order to make women look strong.

We see such examples all the time. The media constantly puts men down in order to elevate women. Men who are shown as strong and capable are the bad guys, the antagonists, or the obstacle to be overcome.

Liberal dogma places the concept of "equality" at the top of its list of ideals - ahead of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. On the surface, the concept of equality sounds like a good-old American value.

Yet, in the mind of the liberal, equality isn't equal. Within liberal dogma, equality is connected with the socialist ideal getting rid of the distinctions between classes - economic, sexual, racial, or whatever. Wherever there are differences, liberalism sees oppression and an opportunity to exercise political power in order to bring down "the oppressors."

Here are a few examples:


Feminism
Feminists pay lip service to the idea that women don't hate men, and at some level, that is true.

Yet the dogmas of feminism continually raise women up by putting men down. From Disney movies featuring the bumbling father, to commercials where men cannot make decisions without a woman, the dogma dictates that in order to raise up women, men must be denigrated.

This is not equality. This merely substitutes one power structure for another, by switching gender roles for women.

Feminists can only promote their concepts of equality be denigrating men, and taking from them their roles in society as fathers and caretakers.


Abortion
One of the tools of feminist dogma is the absolute belief that abortion represents true equality for women. After all, if women don't have any responsibility to the unborn, or to the biological imperative, or to the raising of children, then they are free to become like men.

Abortionists can only promote their concepts of equality by denigrating the value of human life.


Homosexuality
Gay dogma is the latest liberal group to join the equality mantra, pushing for same sex marriage with the ideal of "marriage equality."

Yet homosexuals and gay activists use their newly found political power to join feminists in debasing men and masculinity, as well as joining Born Again Atheists in condemning religion as the Great Oppressor.

The results of gay dogma are similar to feminist ideals. The dogma can only promote its concepts of equality by denigrating religion, families, traditional marriage, and anyone who thinks that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman.


Economics
Liberal dogma is now so entrenched with socialism, that the very concept of the market economy has come under attack. Yet, under liberal ideals, economic equality can only come about by demonizing people who actually make money. (Except for those millionaires and billionaires who pay lip service to liberalism.)

Socialism is completely based on the concepts of oppression and destroying the wealthy.

The dogma can only promote its concepts of equality by denigrating the rich, leaving the door wide open to created a government of elite dictators.


Culture
Liberal dogma is absolutely based on the concept that Western Civilization is evil, merely because humans do evil things. This is a clear case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Liberals have created a moral imperative to denigrate the whole of Western culture, based on the notion that the culture produced evil. Yet it is power that corrupts, and individuals who abuse power who promote evil.

The danger in liberalism's naive and stupid concept blinds people to the true nature and sources of evil. Liberal dogmas produce even more evil by tearing down the very institutions that allowed liberalism to flourish.

Liberal dogma against Western culture can only promote its concepts of equality by denying its own foundations.

***

A liberal once asked me what was so wrong with "equality?"

The answer, of course, is that there's nothing wrong with equality. Modern liberalism, however, is based on false premise that in order to promote equality, we must tear down anyone and any institution that gets in the way.

The French tried this approach to equality during the French Revolution, with disastrous results. You cannot gain real equality by supplanting political power with more political power.

Monday, May 5, 2014

James Madison, the Federalist Papers, Factions, and the Modern-day Tyranny of the Left


The Federalist Papers were a series of newspaper articles that James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay wrote. These three wrote the Federalist Papers to explain to the American people the principles of the constitutional government and to convince the states to ratify the new US Constitution. In these articles, the theories behind the US Republic were declared, explained, and argued. The Federalist Papers remain a solid foundational document explaining what kind of government the US Constitution was supposed to create and the dangers of deviating from the Constitution.

Federalist #10 talks about factions - special interests or lobbies in modern parlance. The early founders of the United States were concerned with the problems of unrestrained, direct democracy. They had read about the concept of direct democracy from the Classical Greek texts and understood its inherent problems. For example, the founders recognized problems with majority rule. In a majority rule system, the majority could gang up against the minority and deny the minority the very rights that government was instituted to protect. 

Likewise, when minorities gain too much control, they can subvert the founding principles to force unwanted laws on the majority. There is a hidden danger in factions.

According to Madison:
By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community. (Federalist #10)
Most of my university students miss the point when I question them about Madison's statement. They usually explain this passage indicating something about majority rule or the tyranny of the majority (which phrase they learned from their liberalized teachers who also never read Plato's Republic). This is not, however, what Madison said. Note that a faction can be a majority of the people or a minority. The idea is that either can work to remove the rights of others, against the aggregate interests of the community.

According to Madison, "there are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects." (Federalist #10)

The effects of factions are controlled, as Madison argues, through the Republic - the triad system of checks and balances outlined in the Constitution, and through limited government. The representatives we elect are supposed to reduce the effects of factions precisely because they are to represent the self-interests of their constituents. Congress is supposed to move slowly, deliberately, forming a consensus and passing laws only when they are found to benefit the interests of all of the citizens of the United States. According to Madison, only in this way can Congress pass laws to protect the rights of all of the citizens in the US.

Yet the system has changed. The federal government has defenestrated Madison's ideals of controlling factions in favor of a more responsive federal government (which is an oxymoron, by the way).

We can explain the changes in Madison's model by tracing the ideals of modern liberalism. Modern liberalism finds the methods of the old Republic too slow and too antiquated to provide the immediacy of relief from perceived problems or wrongs. The problem stems from the idea that it is government's job to provide all sorts of relief to these perceived problems or wrongs.

Is the economy too sluggish? The federal government needs to immediately pass spending bills to spark the economy. Katrina wiped out New Orleans? The federal government needs to immediately step in and fix it. Toilets using too much water? The federal government needs to mandate smaller tank sizes. Coffee spills scald someone? The federal government needs to protect consumers.

There ought to be a law!

And on and on and on.

There are myriads of books written about the rise of modern liberalism and the changes it has affected on government. What's important to note is that modern liberalism has convinced Americans that these examples are now all natural roles of the federal government. We don't want anyone left out do we? We don't want more people hurt do we? We need protection and equality and we need it now!

Here we are faced with a dilemma. We now have a government in the US which increasingly intrudes into the private lives of its citizens. Madison recognized this problem and argued against it. In his Federalist #10, he notes that government can also reduce factions by removing its causes.
There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests. (Federalist #10)
Having found the Republic too slow to act or not progressive enough in its actions, modern liberalism seeks to remove the causes of factions instead of controlling its effects. Madison identified two methods of removing the causes of factions, both of which are inimical to the foundational principles of the US government.

Take your pick, destroying liberty or giving the same opinions, modern liberals use both methods to control the cause of factions. A few examples will suffice to illustrate both methods.

Destroying Liberty:
  • The Patriot Act
  • Wiretapping and/or monitoring phone calls and internet
  • Control of education - No Child Left Behind
  • Huge restrictions on industry production
  • Health insurance and industry regulation
  • Excessive taxation
  • Taxing the rich because being rich is unfair
  • Sin taxes to pay for SCHIP - taxing the poorest people in the US to supply medical benefits to children
  • Regulating industries, including taking over the management of General Motors
  • Federal gun laws in violation of the 2nd Amendment
  • Federal anti-religious laws in violation of the 1st Amendment
  • Refusing to uphold and defend laws passed by Congress
  • Killing American citizens without due process
  • Handing guns over to Mexican drug lords
  • Covering up the mistakes made in Benghazi with lies
And on and on and on.

The federal government certainly has its fingers touching the lives of all Americans. Most of this list relates to federal actions within only the last 15 years. Are some of these things good things? Yes, but that's not the point. The point is that with each new federal overreach, our liberties are destroyed by degrees.

Same Opinions
This is the more insidious of the two principles trying to remove the causes of factions. Within my lifetime, we've come up with the phrase "politically correct." Some ideas and some words cannot be spoken or written because they are not politically correct. Over the years, the list has grown to considerable size. At the heart is the idea that if we control language, we also control thoughts.

Here's an example. We've recently seen the excoriation of Donald Sterling, the owner of the LA Clippers basketball team. Yes, the man said inappropriate things, but his utter annihilation by the mainstream media, as well as the backlash from the NBA show a dangerous abuse of power associated with political correctness.

When Brendan Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla was forced to resign from the company because of campaign contributions he made six years ago to support California's Proposition 8. Here's a clear-cut case of the minority, namely gay rights activists, using political correctness to attempt to force the same opinions about homosexuality as they hold.

A different kind of example stems from the idea of "bipartisanship." The government and news media constantly harp on the idea of creating bipartisanship in the government. Yet the founders of our government recognized that each member of government would act in his own self interest. Hence, the founders created two chambers in Congress and a checks and balances system.

Bipartisanship is dangerous to good government in our Republic. Why? Because when government consists of one mind, one party, or one person rule, tyranny results. Personally, I'd like to see a great deal more partisanship in government.

We now live in a society where we are encouraged through politically correct values or through legislation to form and keep the same opinions as everyone else. Same sex marriage? Of course gay people should be married. Homosexual sex? Nothing wrong with that. Religious convictions? Those are outdated and unnecessary. Ban assault weapons? What possible use are those?

And on and on and on.

The US government was set up to protect the rights of all its citizens and to protect its citizens from government control. Madison argued against removing the causes of factions precisely because those controls take away liberty. Yet, despite the intent and beginnings of the federal government based on Madison's ideals, the US government continues to take power and worse, Americans continue handing power to the government.


When we cross the line into tyranny, it will be too late. We must act to stop the trend of government destroying our liberty and by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Zeal without Knowledge

 

One of the hallmarks of modern liberalism is its zeal for such things as "progress" or "change" or "fairness" or "diversity" or "indiscriminateness." We see examples of zeal every day in the news stories that attempt to induce us to respond to the latest crisis. According to the latest news, we're just one assault rifle away from mass extinction, Amanda Knox is the next Ghandi, and Donald Sterling is the anti-Christ, related to Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.

That's one kind of zeal. Liberal zeal takes other forms: the political panic over global climate change; the craze to condemn marriage supporters for any multitude of "sins"; the inconceivably demanding push to establish protected class status for gays; the huge money and lobby expenditures to pass same sex marriage legislation.

It occurred to me that modern liberal zeal lacks proper knowledge. Here's an example of what I mean from an old friend of mine:
Zeal is the engine that drives the whole vehicle: without it we would get nowhere. But without clutch, throttle, brakes, and steering wheel, our mighty engine becomes an instrument of destruction, and the more powerful the motor, the more disastrous the inevitable crack-up if the proper knowledge is lacking. There is a natural tendency to let the mighty motor carry us along, to give it its head, to open it up and see what it can do. We see this in our society today. (Nibley, Zeal without Knowledge)
The modern liberal motor is mighty indeed, speeding us into exciting new directions, into the direction of unqualified change. Yet this zeal lacks proper knowledge to guide it.

Who's steering the zeal? Who's controlling it? Who knows anything about where we're going or what the consequences will be? Is spending trillions of dollars good for the economy? Who knows? But we need to attack the problem with a lot of zeal (and money)!

Will changing the definition of marriage have any unforeseen consequences? Who cares? Let zeal carry the day and the New England states! Is introducing homosexual sex to kindergarteners detrimental? We have no idea but we must let zeal win the day! Is Brendan Eich an evil person? Yes, because he stands between liberals and their zeal! (And he once agreed with a Mozilla staff member about gay rights. That makes him not only evil but a hypocrite as well!)

Where does this zeal without knowledge begin? The phenomenon of the lack of proper knowledge is readily apparent in the modern school systems that currently fail to teach students anything worthwhile. Sure, the students can learn a bit about math, something about reading, and a smidgen about writing. Yet, by the time students reach my classes in college, they rarely, if ever, read anything substantive and can barely write. (Since I don't teach math, I cannot vouch for their math skills.)

What these students have learned is the product of liberal zeal: no child is left behind; every opinion has equal value; there is no such thing as competition; correct answers don't matter as long as effort is made; even the smallest effort is rewarded.

I teach a class on political ideologies. Each semester, as the new class begins, the students have no dearth of opinions on any subject about which we talk. Liberal democracy? Socialism's better. The Republic? Outdated. Conservatism? Dead. Fascism? Evil. Socialism? Making the world a perfect place? Some students would argue and argue (if I'd let them) around points of ideological doctrine, about which they know next to nothing. This is a prime example of zeal without knowledge. Without any educational effort, or without having read anything substantial, somehow these students have created opinions about how ideologies are put together and they are more than willing to argue the point.

The cure is education, but not the vacuous and meaningless education that typifies modern schools. What is lacking? Simply put, schools lack any grounding in foundational principles. History is all but a dead subject. Classes on the US Constitution have disappeared. The Classics are considered merely treatises on homosexuals (usually pederasts), ignoring the vast wealth of knowledge and experience the Greeks and Romans gave us.

The educational system encourages test taking. The educational system discourages reading. No Child Left Behind discourages teachers from teaching. The list goes on and on and on.

Also at work is the information overload inherent in modern communications. We are to the point where we are surrounded by vast quantities of knowledge but lack the means or the will to focus on the truly important. We're bombarded by trivia and factoids so when we win at Trivial Pursuit, we think we may actually know something.

We're educated by television, identifying more with Locke from the old TV show Lost than with our next door neighbor. (I had to look up the name and the TV show, by the way.) What information overload does is "shut out all the wonderful things of which the mind is capable, leaving it drugged in a thoughtless stupor." (Nibley, Zeal without Knowledge)

Along with poor teaching and even poorer teaching models, an overload of information, and the thoughtlessness of modern minds, we are left as a people who are all too willing to adopt any modern social doctrine without the slightest sense of loss of what we've left behind.

Who, my friend asked long ago, will listen patiently to correct knowledge if he thinks he has the answers already? What gets in the way of learning true knowledge? The answer is zeal. "True knowledge never shuts the door on more knowledge, but zeal often does." (Nibley, Zeal without Knowledge)


So we get carried about with every wind of liberal doctrine that comes along. We're caught up in the grand zeal, the emotion, the hope of change and the promise of a better future for all. No one seems to notice, or cares, that no one is steering the mad social engine which threatens to careen out of control.