The Government is the Only Thing We All Belong To

One of the themes coming out of the Democratic National Convention last week is the idea that government is the one institution that unites us all as one nation. The idea being, that we go to different churches, work for different employers, have different racial or ethnic origins, speak different languages, and so on, but we all have the national government in common. I think this short video put out by the DNC illustrates what they are trying to say.

Conservatives have generally interpreted this to mean that the Democrats believe that we belong to the government in the sense that we are all slaves or serfs of the government. This is not accurate. What they seem to mean is that the government is the one institution that all Americans have in common and the one institution that makes us Americans. This confuses the difference between the nationality and the government or the state. In fact, our shared culture and history is what makes all of us part of the American nation, the idea that we are a separate and unique people, distinct from every other nation. We would all still be Americans even if our government were changed or destroyed, so long as we had that shared feeling of nationhood.

I dealt with this sort of idea once before when I explained that Barack Obama’s statement, “you didn’t build that” seemed to ultimately be derived from the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s ideas that the state embodies the hopes and aspirations of the people and nation and even creates the nation. The statement that we all belong to the government is another expression of that mode of thought and while I do not believe that the Democrats mean that we should all be enslaved by the state, this is an idea alien to the ideals of the founding fathers.

The men who wrote the Constitution saw government as a tool. The purpose of that tool was to protect our rights given to us by our Creator. Consider Thomas Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that when any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such forms, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

And the Preamble to the Constitution.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

If government is just a tool or a social contract for the purpose of protecting the rights we already possess than a government that does not do its job can or should be replaced. If government is some overarching entity that we all belong to and which gives our lives meaning, than we have no rights, except what the collective grants us and we certainly cannot work against the institution we all belong to. I don’t think the Democrats mean any harm by expressing these kinds of sentiments, but this really is another step on the road to tyranny.

Ban Profits

While I am looking at political videos, here is an interesting video made by Peter Schiff. He went undercover at the Democratic National Convention posing as some sort of anti business nut.

 

To be fair, there is no way to know if the people he interviewed are representative of the people who attended, or what sort of editing he did. Most likely, he cut out the more rational responses. Still, this video shows why Democrats should never be trusted in any position at any level of government. I would go so far as to suggest that the clowns in this video are too ignorant to be allowed to vote. Do these idiots have any idea how an economy actually works? Do they seriously think that the companies that provide them with the things they need would, or could continue to operate if they weren’t allowed to make a profit? I doubt they think much at all.

Democrats Boo God

The Democratic Party Platform somehow neglected to mention God in the context of God-given potential as well not affirming the position of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Normally no one pays any attention to party platforms but the Republicans didn’t waste anytime making use of this absence to imply that the Democrats are anti-God and anti-Israel. The Democrats quickly put the language back into the platform with amazing results.

This had to be intensely embarrassing for Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. I am not sure whether the people at the convention are actually booing the mention of God into the platform or the affirmation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Either way, this show a party badly out of step with mainstream American public opinion.

These conventions are supposed to be tightly scheduled affairs with little or nothing left to chance. There shouldn’t be any unpleasant surprises like the one shown in that video. Even worse than the impression that the Democrats are out of touch with mainstream America is the impression that they aren’t able t get their act together.

Will this little embarrassment matter in November? Probably not. By then, it will be long forgotten. But if this is how they are going to run their campaign, then maybe the results won’t even be close.

Private Cities in Honduras

I saw this story at AP.com. A group of investors are planning to build three privately run cities, outside the jurisdiction of the Honduran government.

Investors can begin construction in six months on three privately run cities in Honduras that will have their own police, laws, government and tax systems now that the government has signed a memorandum of agreement approving the project.

The project’s aim is to strengthen Honduras’ weak government and failing infrastructure, overwhelmed by corruption, drug-related crime and lingering political instability after a 2009 coup.

The project “has the potential to turn Honduras into an engine of wealth,” said Carlos Pineda, president of the Commission for the Promotion of Public-Private Partnerships. It can be “a development instrument typical of first world countries.”

The “model cities” will have their own judiciary, laws, governments and police forces. They also will be empowered to sign international agreements on trade and investment and set their own immigration policy.

Its an intriguing idea. If I understand this correctly, these cities will be like independent city-states, perhaps free trade zones. This might help to jump start the Honduran economy, though I am surprised that any national government would yield sovereignty, even over just three cities. There might be drawbacks, and this proposal has been controversial.

The project is opposed by civic groups as well as the indigenous Garifuna people, who say they don’t want their land near Puerto Castilla on the Caribbean coast to be used for the project. Living along Central America’s Caribbean coast, the Garifuna are descendants of the Amazon’s Arawak Indians, the Caribbean’s Caribes and escaped West African slaves.

“These territories are the Garifuna people’s and can’t be handed over to foreign capital in an action that is pure colonialism like that lived in Honduras during the time that our land became a banana enclave,” said Miriam Miranda, president of the Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras.

Oscar Cruz, a former constitutional prosecutor, filed a motion with the Supreme Court last year characterizing the project as unconstitutional and “a catastrophe for Honduras.”

“The cities involve the creation of a state within the state, a commercial entity with state powers outside the jurisdiction of the government,” Cruz said.

The Supreme Court has not taken up his complaint.

This is something worth watching and if it works out may become a model for other underdeveloped nations.

Nicki Haley is Not Eva Braun

 

Here they go again. I found this at slate.com through the Drudge Report.

S.C. Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian, never a loss for a quick quip, tossed a few stinging one-liners at the Wednesday delegation breakfast.

On Gov. Nikki Haley participating in daily news briefings in a basement studio at the NASCAR Hall of Fame: “She was down in the bunker a la Eva Braun.”

His opinion on why he thinks Republicans dislike education funding: “An educated population would not elect a Nikki Haley.”

That is nice, yet another comparison of a Republican to a Nazi. I hope this doesn’t become a regular campaign theme this election season.

And, speaking of the Democratic Convention, the Democrats keep calling Republicans extremists, yet look at what is going on there. God has somehow become controversial. I read about this at Yahoo News.

Needled by Mitt Romney and other Republicans, Democrats hurriedly rewrote their convention platform Wednesday to add a mention of God and declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel after President Barack Obama intervened to order the changes.

The embarrassing reversal was compounded by chaos and uncertainty on the convention floor, requiring three votes before a ruling that the amendments had been approved. Many in the audience booed the decision.

 

The revisions came as Obama struggles to win support from white working-class voters, many of whom have strong religious beliefs, and as Republicans try to woo Jewish voters and contributors away from the Democratic Party. Republicans claimed the platform omissions suggested Obama was weak in his defense of Israel and out of touch with mainstream Americans.

GOP officials argued that not taking a position on Jerusalem’s status in the party platform raised questions about Obama’s support for the Mideast ally. Romney said omitting God “suggests a party that is increasingly out of touch with the mainstream of the American people.”

“I think this party is veering further and further away into an extreme wing that Americans don’t recognize,” Romney said.

Ronald Reagan used to say that he didn’t leave the Democratic Party; the Party left him. I think it must be increasingly obvious that the Democrats have long ago left behind the average American.

The Democratic Party is also endorsing taxpayer funded abortions in their party platform.

The 2012 Democratic party will officially adopt an extreme position on the issue of abortion on Tuesday. According to a copy of the party platform, which was released online just before midnight on Monday, “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay.”

That last part–“regardless of ability to pay”–is an endorsement of taxpayer-funded abortions, a policy that President Obama has personally endorsed. Obama wants Medicaid to pay directly for elective abortions, and Obamacare will allow beneficiaries to use federal subsidies to purchase health care plans that cover elective abortions. According to a 2009 Quinnipiac poll, 72 percent of voters oppose public funding of abortion and 23 percent support it. In other words, public funding of abortion–a policy President Obama actively supports–is as unpopular as banning abortion in the case of rape, a policy on which the media have focused their attention over the past two weeks despite the fact that neither presidential candidate supports it.

I do not believe that abortion is the issue that is topmost on many Americans’ minds right now and I don’t really understand why the Democrats are spending any time at all on it, especially in taking such an extreme position, unless they really don’t want to talk about the economy. I can’t say I blame them for not wanting to emphasize Obama’s dismal record.

 

 

Paul Ryan is not Joseph Goebbels

I have said before that Barack Obama is not in any way like Adolf Hitler and any such comparisons are despicable. Now, I feel I have to say the same about the Republican nominees. Mitt Romney is not Hitler and the Republicans are not the Nazis. If there is anyone reading this who sincerely believes that either of the two major American political parties are anything like the Nazis than I have to say that you have become completely unhinged by political passion. I should also say that Paul Ryan is not Joseph Goebbels despite what the leader of the California delegation to the Democratic convention might happen to believe. Here are the details at ABCnews.

The chairman of the California delegation to the Democrats’ convention was criticized by both parties for comparing Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to the Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle on Saturday,  John Burton said, “They lie and they don’t care if people think they lie. Joseph Goebbels . It’s the big lie, you keep repeating it.” Goebbels was the minister of propaganda during Hitler’s Nazi regime.

Burton was referring specifically to Ryan, whose  speech at the Republican convention in Tampa last week has been criticized by Democrats for inaccuracies.

At least the Democrats chastised him, this time.

President Obama’s campaign rejected Burton’s comments just hours before their convention kicked off.

“That obviously doesn’t reflect the views of the campaign,” said Obama for America National Press Secretary Ben LaBolt. “That doesn’t have any place in the political discourse here in Charlotte.”

And John Burton did apologize, after a fashion. From Foxnews.

Burton later issued a statement claiming he didn’t actually call Republicans Nazis and noting he didn’t actually use the word “Nazi” — though he made repeated references to Goebbels.

“If Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, or the Republicans are insulted by my describing their campaign tactic as the big lie — I most humbly apologize to them or anyone who might have been offended by that comment,” he said.

I think we are going to see a lot more of this in the next few months. The Democrats can’t run on President Obama’s sterling record of accomplishments so all they can do is demonize their opponents. If that involves comparing them to some of the most evil men in history, than so be it.

Oh, by the way, Paul Ryan didn’t lie in his speech. Sorry if that disrupts the narrative.

Sun Myung Moon Dead

The Reverend Sun Myung Moon, founder and leader of the Unification Church, or the “Moonies”  died yesterday. The odd thing is that just last week I wondered if he was still alive and looked him up. I wonder what is going to happen with his church. Did the Moonies expect their Messiah to die of old age? Perhaps of more immediate concern to his family is the disposal of the billions of dollars his church is reputed to be worth.

Ascended to a higher plane

Did Mohammed Exist?

For the last two centuries, secular and skeptical scholars have attempted to learn about the “historical Jesus”, the actual person behind the Gospel accounts, and to develop a secular explanation for the origin of Christianity. This effort necessarily involves some degree skepticism about the traditional accounts of the life and words of Jesus and the apostles found in scripture. There has not really been much of an effort to find the “historical Mohammed” and to reconstruct the early history of Islam.

The historian who wishes to investigate the origin of Islam suffers from two disadvantages that the historian of Christianity does not. First, while the evidence for Jesus’ life outside the New Testament is scanty, Jesus and the early Christians lived in a literate culture and the earliest Christians writings and non-Christian references to the new religion begin to appear within decades of Jesus’ death. Islam, on the other have, began in an almost completely illiterate, predominately oral, culture. The earliest written accounts of the life of Mohammed do not appear until more than a century after his death. These are largely those collections of Mohammed’s sayings and deeds called the Hadith, which were transmitted orally for several generations, and even Muslim scholars concede that many are spurious. The Koran is supposed to have been roughly contemporary with Mohammed, but there is good reason to suppose that it too was not collected until more than a century after Mohammed.

The second disadvantage that the skeptical scholar of Islam faces is the fact that he literally endangers his life by making inquiries that the followers of the religion of peace disapprove of. For this reason, several scholars are obliged to use pseudonyms or invest in security. Less daring investigators prefer to study less dangerous subjects, such as the origins of Judaism or Christianity, whose followers are noticeably less inclined to murder them when they are offended.

For this reason, we have good reason to be thankful that Robert Spencer is willing to take on the subject of the origin of Islam in his latest book, Did Mohammed Exist?  Robert Spencer is not a scholar and offers no original research in writing Did Mohammed Exist.  Instead, he has presented the works of those scholars who have questioned the traditional origin story of Islam in a clear, easily understood manner and convincingly makes the argument that Mohammed, at least in the sense of being the prophet from Mecca, did not exist.

Did Mohammed exist?  It may seem an odd question to ask. Surely, there is as much evidence that Mohammed existed as Jesus or Socrates. Even a non-Muslim must concede that, even if he does not believe Mohammed is a prophet. In fact, as Spencer shows, the evidence for Mohammed’s life is sparse. As I mentioned above, Muslim accounts of his life are not found until more than a century or more after his death. Non-Muslim chroniclers, although they describe the invasions of the Arab armies, make no mentions of the Arab prophet or of the Koran. Coins minted by the earliest caliphs are more likely to show Christian symbols, rather than quotations from the Koran.

Spencer also notes that the Koran is a very strange book in that it is very disordered and many Arabic words don’t actually make any sense. This is due, in part, to the fact that the earliest Arabic alphabet did not make distinctions between certain letters and if some of the letters are changed, the text makes more sense. Spencer also notes that much of the Koran may, in fact, have been written in Syriac, a language closely related to Arabic, and again if some words are actually Syriac, than the text makes more sense. (For one thing, those virgins that martyrs are promised are more likely to be white raisins.)

As for Mohammed, that name only appears a few times in the Koran. The name means “one who is highly praised” and could be a title rather than a proper name. While it is likely that there was a warlord or prophet with that name or title, the Mohammed of Islam almost certainly did not exist. Spencer shows that the historical evidence simply cannot confirm the traditional accounts. There is much that is contradictory in these accounts and there is much that does not match what is known of the conditions in Arabia in the time that Mohammed is said to have lived. It seems more likely, according to Spencer, that the legend of Mohammed and much of the religion of Islam was created, out of Jewish and Christian traditions in the first century of the Arab Empire as an attempt to provide an Arabic religious ideology to unify the diverse conquered peoples. Whether the reader ends up agreeing with Robert Spencer’s thesis or not, they are sure to find Did Mohammed Exist? A thought provoking exploration of the story behind the origins of one of the largest religions.

Barack Canute Obama

One of the highlights of Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech was the line, “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”

Steve Benen at MSNBC doesn’t think that is funny.

For those who can’t watch clips online, Romney said, “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”

That’s great news for those of us who don’t have families on this planet.

Now, as a factual matter, Romney’s promise is itself rather strange. How “you and your family” will benefit from less access to affordable health care, less access to education, and fewer investments in roads and infrastructure is something of a mystery.

But even putting that aside, the aspect of Romney’s comments that was simply astounding was the ignorance. The Republican treated rising sea levels as a punch-line, as if the very idea of addressing the climate crisis is ridiculous and those who take this seriously are fools worthy of mockery.

Indeed, the Republican audience took their cues, literally laughing at Obama’s efforts to address global warming.

Also notice that, in Romney’s mind, there’s a distinction — the nation can deal with the climate crisis or we can help families, as if the two have nothing to do with one another.

When people in the future look back at Romney’s contempt for the idea of “slowing the rise of the oceans,” and his party’s willingness to bury their hands in the sand, history will not be kind.

Maybe I should explain the joke to him. The reference is to this speech that Barack Obama made just before the 2008  election.

 

For a politician to claim that his election will stop the rise of the oceans and cause the planet to heal is insane. Obama should have been laughed off the stage for saying something like that. It sounds like Canute commanding the tide to halt, or something mad that one of the crazy Roman Emperors, who though they were gods might say. The fact that many of Obama’s followers really seemed to believe Obama was some sort of savior is disturbing. Sane people see such statements as ridiculous and worthy of derision.

 

Obama healing the planet.
The Democrats seem to be upset that several speakers actually made fun of the President at the Convention. Well, to make a slight alteration of a famous statement of Winston Churchill’s, Obama is an proud man, with little to be proud about. This is America. In America, we do not worship our leaders. We mock them, especially when they seem to believe that they are doing us all some very great favor by deigning to rule over us. Barack Obama’s arrogance, as seen in that line of his speech, just cries out to be mocked.

Besides, like most people who are full of themselves, Obama has a very thin skin. If the Republicans keep teasing him, keeping it light and humorous, he will show the very ugly side of his personality. I am looking forward to the debates.

Still Around

 

I haven’t posted anything since Monday so you might have thought that I have given up on this blog, or had been abducted by aliens. I try to write something every day and I don’t think that I have gone five days without posting before. I have been very busy this week.

 

 

To start with, Labor Day is coming up so we are approaching one of the weekends of horror. I have worked late everyday this week. In addition we have have Gospel Meetings at our church. A Gospel Meeting is when we have a guest preacher come in and give sermons all week. This time we had a preacher from Georgia named Joseph Casimier. He was really good and we actually went every night but Monday. On Monday, we attended my son’s Boy Scout Court of Honor, where they handed out merit badges and promotions.

The Republican National Convention was also this week. I didn’t pay to much attention to it. I like reading about politics and history, but I don’t much care for watching politician’s speeches. I gather it was quite a successful one for the Republicans. I might look for some clips on YouTube or Unedited Politics. I also have to go through my email. I hope the Democrats sent some good fund-raising messages.