Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Couple of Observations

Much has been made of Melania Trump's convention speech apparently tracking an earlier speech by Michelle Obama. When you put the speeches side by side, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Michelle Obama's speech was, indeed, copied in part. Such copying of words, without giving recognition to the original speaker, is unacceptable. The New York Times made this their lead story in today's paper. I am sure glad that the Times wants to keep this front page news. Slightly different from one of the actual candidates being blasted, and essentially being called a liar, by the Director of the FBI. For that important story it was basically "nothing to see here, let's move along."

So, the Times accused Melania not only of "word-for-word repetition," but also of "borrowed themes." What? Ideas cannot be owned. They can not be copyrighted. And they can not be plagiarized. Both Melania and Michelle spoke of achieving one's goals through hard work. That is a universal theme. There is one important difference. The Trumps actually believe it. We see it in the way the Trump children all work; they work for their father, but they work. They are family oriented. I have not heard of problems with drugs, alcohol or the law. Think of other very wealthy families and their children. Compare Ivanka Trump with Paris Hilton. Two billionaire fathers. I'd say one clearly did a better job of parenting.

Listening to Donald Trump Jr's speech, it was obvious that Trump Sr encouraged his children to work. He taught them to learn from the people who actually do the work, not just the MBAs sitting in some distant office. Trump took his kids to job sites, and they learned from those workers. That gives a certain appreciation and respect for working men and women. I loved his line that "We didn't learn from MBAs. We learned from people who had doctorates in common sense...It's why we're the only children of billionaires as comfortable in a D10 Caterpillar as we are in our own cars."

I said that the Trumps actually believed Melania's words about hard work - contrary to the Obamas. Everyone remember Obama's thoughts on hard work and running a business? "If you've got a business - you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." Or, "...if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own." So much for Michelle's achieving one's dreams through "your willingness to work for them."

A final thought. Our oldest daughter got us involved in a show called "Orphan Black." In one episode, there is a child in the room with several adults. One of the adults mentions "Republicans." The child asks "what is a Republican?" And the adult replies to the effect that it's best not to tell her so as to not give her nightmares. This non-stop mocking of conservatives and Republicans is what passes for intellectual debate from the left. It also reflects the truth that unlike "classical liberals" (see the July 17 post) leftists (today's liberals) have zero tolerance for opposing viewpoints.

Get Ready For All The Lies!

A group calling itself "Historians Against Trump" penned "An Open Letter to the American People." Claiming to be unaligned with any group, their main complaints about Trump were as follows: Trump "bullies and suppresses the press," Trump "seeks to weaken First Amendment protections as President," Trump "singles out journalists for attack," and Trump "mocks physical disabilities."

Let's start with the last item. While Trump denied mocking the reporter with a muscular disorder, the video of it did seem to show that he was mocking the reporter. If he intended to, it was totally inappropriate. I wonder what this group had to say about Obama saying his bowling skills mirrored the Special Olympics. He had to apologize. Let's not forget the times Obama mocked religious people, starting with his "clinging to their guns and religion" comments. Although my favorite was his telling Christians not to get on their high horses about Islamic terror, because look what Christians did during the crusades.

The most serious charge concerns Trump and the press. Here is James Goodale, former general counsel to the New York Times, in discussing Obama's possible criminalizing of reporting on national security information: "President Obama will surely pass President Richard Nixon as the worst President ever on issues of national security and press freedom." New York Times reporter David Sanger: "This is the most closed, control freak administration I've ever covered," referring to the President who promised the most transparent administration ever.

Or how about the Public Editor of the New York Times, Margaret Sullivan: "'s turning out to be the administration of unprecedented secrecy and unprecedented attacks on a free press." (The above quotes are from a piece on Alternet on 10/11/13 by Glenn Greenwald, who wrote his article for the Guardian.)

Last (I'm sure I could find others if time permitted), is a quote from CNN's Jake Tapper, after noting that government sources are afraid to speak with the media during the Obama administration: "...the Obama administration has used the Espionage Act to go after whistleblowers who leaked to journalists...more than all previous administrations combined." (From a piece by Jon Greenberg, 1/10/14, on PunditFact.)

So, what do Goodale, Sanger, Sullivan and Tapper have in common? Notwithstanding that they are all affiliated with liberal media organizations, they all said Obama was the worst President for a free press. What did/do these "Historians Against Trump" have to say about Obama and the press?

Anyone who has read articles in the LA Times or NY Times about the Republican convention these last couple of days would struggle to find a positive word about the convention. I can barely wait to see all the gushing articles next week about the Democrat's convention; and Chris Matthews having more thrills running down his leg. Just don't look for honest reporting.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Classical Liberalism

Today's Democrats are certainly not liberal - not in the classical, traditional sense. Today's Democrats are leftists and socialists and statists. They do not believe in the primacy of the individual. They do not believe in limited government. And they do not believe in permitting opposing speech. It's a good idea to take a look at how far the leftist Democrats have moved from true liberalism. As noted by Wikipedia, "Liberalism as a specifically named ideology begins in the late 18th century as a movement towards self-government and away from aristocracy."

One of the leading voices then on this idea of liberalism was John Stuart Mill, with his famous treatise "On Liberty." Mill discussed three objections to government interference in the lives of the people. "The first is, when the thing to be done is likely to be better done by individuals than by the government." But government under Democrats, especially since the 1960s, has taken on ever-increasing responsibilities. It is the Republicans who have discussed bringing us back to true liberal ideals, when they discuss privatization of functions that have been taken over by the government.

Mill: "The second objection is more nearly allied to our subject. In many cases, though individuals may not do the particular thing so well, on the average, as the officers of government, it is nevertheless desirable that it should be done by them, rather than by the government, as a means to their own mental education - a mode of strengthening their active faculties, exercising their judgment, and giving them a familiar knowledge of the subjects with which they are thus left to deal."

Mill is telling us that there is a benefit to the individual when they do things for themselves, rather than having government bureaucracy do things for them. As Mill notes, it is a means of self-education. But doing things for oneself, as opposed to relying on government, also motivates people to take care of themselves. And, for my friends on the left who are concerned with the idea of "self-esteem," doing and accomplishing things bolsters one's self-esteem in a way that government doing things for you can not.

Mill: "The third, and most cogent reason for restricting the interference of government, is the great evil of adding unnecessarily to its power." Our Constitution created a limited government, with enumerated powers. As the Tenth Amendment (too often ignored by our political leaders and the Courts) says: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Classical liberals understood the dangers in growing too big a government. After all, revolutions were fought over excessive government power. Today's Democrats can conceive of no legitimate limits on government power.

Another very important difference between today's Democrats and Classical Liberals is in the area of speech. Mill: "If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind." Yet, the Democratic left today has no interest in allowing opposing speech. In case anyone actually needs any examples, think of all the times conservative groups on college campuses have invited conservative speakers, only to have the college administrators disinvite those speakers after protests from leftist students. Think of all the occasions when leftist students shout down speakers with whom they disagree. Recall that happened to the Israeli ambassador to the US at UC Irvine.

Perhaps the most distasteful example of the left's intolerance of opposing speech came about at the very beginning of Obama's first term. Recall that he, and the top people in his Administration, went on various talk shows saying that Fox was not a legitimate news organization, and should be ignored by the other news outlets. Then, we had various Democratic mayors across the country seeking to bar Chick-fil-A from operating in their cities because the owner dared to express his personal opinion that he believed in the traditional definition of marriage. Today, we have various newspapers refusing to print opinion pieces that rebut global warming theorists. And, in my 5/19/16 post, we had a Columbia Law School professor telling us how certain viewpoints are "legitimately disfavored."

Mill: "There are many who consider as an injury to themselves any conduct which they have a distaste for, and resent it as an outrage to their feelings...but there is no parity between the feeling of a person for his own opinions and the feeling of another who is offended at his holding it..." If Mill were alive today, and saw that college students needed "safe spaces" anytime a conservative speaker was on their campus, he would smile a knowing smile and think to himself "I predicted this over 150 years ago." You see, Classical Liberals loved the debate, they did not shy away from it.

But, today's Democrats can be repeatedly heard accusing Republicans of various evil motivations. Whether it is something like "Republicans healthcare plan is you die," or the name calling of Republicans as "haters," "bigots," and "women-haters," Democrats prefer demagoguery to actual debate. It is the rare instance in which I am able to get a Democrat to actually engage in a debate with me. On the other hand, Democrats have no problem in telling me I am wrong and then walking away, with some simply telling me that they hate Republicans. And, of course, there is no end to their mockery.

So, please do not tell me Democrats are "liberal." They are far from it. They believe in unlimited government power, forgetting that we fought a revolution over that very issue. They believe in suppressing opposing speech. And, perhaps worst of all, they do not even realize how tyrannical their views are. If you are a Classical Liberal today, you are a Republican, and most likely a conservative. So, I will proudly wear the label "Classical Liberal."