Thoughts on the Passing of Joseph Cropsey

I hope I’m not doing a disservice by writing these brief remarks as late as I am; however, the passing of Professor Joseph Cropsey warranted some small mention of appreciation from one of the many people Dr. Cropsey influenced. ?Dr. Cropsey was introduced to me when my college professor thrust History of Political Philosophy into my hands and said, “If you truly appreciate political philosophy, get this. ?It is the ‘bible.'” ?My copy (third edition; still looking to grab one of the earlier ones as well) sits beside my laptop as I type. ?It is a thick tome. ?The thoughts and writings inside, edited by Drs. Strauss and Cropsey, even thicker; requiring concentration and thought as you read, and re-read, and underline, and read once more.

News of Dr. Cropsey’s passing immediately spurred thoughts of Goethe’s passing in my mind. ?Goethe was on his deathbed with his daughter-in-law sitting by his side. ?Wanting another shutter in his room opened by one of the servants, Goethe is said to have called, ?more light! before his ties to this world were severed by Father Time’s scythe.

“More light!”

Allan Bloom said, “Education is the movement from darkness into light.” ?Joseph Cropsey spent his life helping pilgrims on their way from darkness into light. ?He started out much more economically-minded by writing at lengths about Adam Smith and Karl Marx. ?His writings on Plato, however, are considerable food for thought. ?Very, very rich food. ?Some people can stomach it, others might prefer something lighter. ?Nevertheless, one of the subjects Cropsey looks at is the human condition, as Peter Lawler stated in his comments on Postmodern Conservative, “our wondering and our wondering” in Plato’s World: Man’s Place in the Cosmos.??Here’s to hoping that his departure gave him what all philosophers long for: ?More Light!

 

-rj

Dear Dems… Thank You

It’s around 1900 hours, or 7:00 pm.  About the time that everyone sits down to eat dinner after a long day, and many people will have the news on while eating and get caught up on the day’s events.  Well, there is something that I wanted to break to any fellow conservative Republicans on this website:

Nancy Pelosi won Minority Leader today.

Yes, the woman that ruined the democratic control of the House, and took Congressional approval to levels where the members need a snorkel to breath (that’s 17% approval folks) has been placed back in charge of the Democrats in the House.  Ya can’t fix stupid!

Dear Democrats,

THANK YOU.

Sincerely,

-rj

We Won, Now Let’s Find Some Perspective

Today is a great day for Conservatives.  There is a weariness in our souls that has somewhat dissipated.  But something has been troubling me for some time now, and I think that it is important that we all take a minute to find some perspective.

I’ve repeatedly heard from television talking heads, my radio, and politicians that now the work will begin to reduce spending, provide tax breaks, repeal Obamacare, push nuclear energy, so on and so forth.  But folks, that’s just not going to happen.  I’d be willing to bet that none of that happens.

This election was not about actively reversing trends.  We just don’t have the power to do that.  Our side will not be able to push an agenda, and even if our side could do that, the likelihood of President Obama signing anything Conservatives sent to him is slim to none.  In military strategy you have the “rollback” and you have “containment”.  The rollback is the complete annihilation of the enemy.  And containment of course is a strategic blockade.

What this election was truly about was creating a two year containment or a blockade.  We all saw very clearly how much damage could be done in two years with a Progressive president and a Congress full of his sheep.  The results of this election simply keep President Obama in check, when he was clearly not in check the last two years.  2012 should be Conservatives goal for really seeing a reversal of trends.

Perspective is an important thing, and it will be increasingly important as we edge closer to 2012.  Why?  Mainly because Conservatives have made a stand, the Tea Party has made a stand, and that passion, involvement and trend needs to continue into the 2012 presidential election.  If we lose perspective though, and talking heads and politicians begin waxing poetic about how they are about to roll all of Obama’s policies back over the next two years, then the reality is that Conservatives could be in the same pot of boiling water in two years time that Liberals and Progressives are currently sitting in.

Now is not the time for politicians to be making promises that Congressional Conservatives do not have the power to act on, and talking heads and radio show hosts should be reminding viewers and listeners of this fact.  We would simply be setting ourselves up for failure.  Under-promising and over-delivering should be the slogan of every Conservative in office right now.  For the last two years we have been playing a football game without a defense or an offense.  We just got our defense in play to keep Obama from out right scoring.  But the reality is that we won’t have an opportunity to get an offense into the game until 2012.  If we all keep that in mind over the next short 24 months, and keep our passions and involvement high, then we can take back the Senate and potentially the presidency and start the Republican Rollback of the Progressive movement.

Got Hamilton…?

…well, Aaron Burr did.  He got Hamilton with his pistol on July 11, 1804 along the bank of the Hudson River.  Hamilton and Burr had a less than cordial relationship going back some years, and I cannot help but think of the vitriol that had to be stewing to lead to the death of a former President.  Hamilton announced that he would leave the Federalist Party (which he founded with Madison, John Jay and others) should Aaron Burr become the Federalists’ Presidential candidate, but instead he became Vice President in 1800.  Aaron Burr followed later by running for governor of New York under the Federalist Party ticket, and he and Mr. Hamilton backed Jeffersonian Morgan Lewis.  Alexander Hamilton died the following day, July 12th, 1804. 

I always find it repulsive when people whine about the lack of civility in politics: as though it gets any more uncivilized than one politician shooting another.  There is a weird, as Palin would say, “backasswords” understanding of the Duel though.  During our current campaigns, it is much easier for people to take pot-shots at one another or make ad hominem accusations.  You are supposed to develop a thick skin and let it roll off though; whether that means you are more virtuous than your opponent, or just that you have less character to assassinate.  But there is something almost refreshingly manly about two men willing to defend their honor in such a way. 

I also want to thank BigGovernment for posting a small blip about today’s importance. 

-rj

Saturday Ramblings

We survived the week, and our feet are firmly placed on that oasis of time surrounded by five day long treks on both sides: the weekend!  Usually we are fairly hard-nosed here at thelobbyist, and for good reason because politics and culture are hard things to deal with.  However, I want to use this brief moment to look at some lighter sides of life, just to prove to our readers that if you thought we did not have lives before, your opinions are about to be confirmed!

First and foremost, we are excited for this coming week here at thelobbyist!  We put a lot of blood, sweat, tears and coffee and Mountain Dew into our work; our recent project will be no exception.  Stay tuned!

Secondly, Lacrosse season has started.  For those who played… ’nuff said!

Third, I do not speak on behalf of everyone here when I say Beat The Hell Outta texas.  Texas A&M vs texas basketball game at two o’clock.  As my snobby D-I friends are always quick to point out, no I did not attend A&M.  But then again, neither did they.  So what do I care…

Finally, I have taken it unto myself to try and sway Liz Cheney into the political arena on a more official capacity.  Draft Liz Cheney Blog is up and running, my own private endeavour, because there are some people who don’t share my sentiments on the matter.  We can’t all be right I suppose.

Happy Saturday

-rj

Let’s Not Forget Fundamental Principles On Health Care Reform

From the inimitable Austin Russell:

Ignoring the most basic instincts of competitive politics, modern opposition to any particular political issue usually raises a lack of partisan cooperation as an almost natural first line of defense. While such an approach does credit to American parenting, in that it demonstrates a firm belief in fairness, it does little to defend-and much less to advance- any alternative political philosophy.

The latest and greatest example comes from the alleged opposition to federal healthcare reform or, as it should be more appropriately regarded, federal healthcare takeover. The insistence by both House and Senate leaders that forthcoming deliberations be held behind closed doors has led many in opposition to complain of the unfairness of it all. While the adoption of such a secretive process would assuredly preclude transparency, it has, unfortunately, shifted the focus of many to how deliberations should be conducted, rather then whether such deliberations should be conducted at all.

While defenses should be raised through every conceivable and ethical political tact, basic arguments must not be neglected. Those who oppose a federal takeover of healthcare must not abandon the ship of fundamental principles. Transparent or not?fair or not?the federal government has no business meddling with healthcare in the first place. Let us never forget that.

Suggested Reading?

Hi all! We recently added a suggested reading list to the site which you can find on the sides of certain pages. Our suggested reading is coming from the posters here at thelobbyist.

But we’d like to hear from our audience as well. If there are any politically minded books you’ve checked out recently, be sure to post them in the comments section. If it’s up our alley, we’ll add your suggestions to our list.

Thanks!

-nick

The Personal Democracy Forum Doesn’t Help Conservatives

Monday was a very long day here in New York City.? The Personal Democracy Forum Conference busted out of the gate bright and early and never seemed to slow.? The conference and its attendees are a cornucopia of ideas and innovation.? It certainly feels as if the applications built for and during the Obama campaign have spurred an entire new focus in the political realm.? I feel like I’m a fly on the wall of the office that invented grassroots mailers.? It certainly seems that we are witnessing the initial stages of a new era in politics.

Six month from now things will be very interesting.? The first campaigns since the 2008 presidential race will begin cranking their engines.? It will be the first big test as well.? Letting all of us evaluate who “got it” after the last go round.

One has to understand that when they attend these sorts of events that there is certainly a goal of objectivity.? The reason for attending is to discover the areas in which politics and technology are intersecting.? How is technology, or possibly more specifically, the Internet changing politics?? Are these changes creating the evaporation of results from the previous models?? If so, how do we incorporate these new tools into our area of politics to create new successful models?? That’s what we are hear to discover.

The reality though is that people that are passionate about anything can’t keep it from seeping out even when they are trying to hold back.? There is nothing wrong with this.? I take zero issue with individuals who wear their heart on their sleeve.? At least it’s out there.

But at some point a balance issue develops.? If panels are mostly chaired by a certain orientation of political enthusiast, the point of view is always the same.? If the audience to which they are speaking is of the same enthusiasm, then they are preaching to the choir.? The cheers and hardly applause comes because of political orientation and alignment and not because all political technology enthusiast share the same goals.

We don’t.

Case in point was the fine display of two sheep being led on stage for the final panel of the day.? The sheep, in the form of two teleco representatives, had their achille’s slit so that they couldn’t escape and then were promptly ritually massacred by the Picadores Josh Silver.? Silver, well known in tech policy circles for avoiding any concerns or facts outside of his own talking points was suburb in his beat down.? I honestly couldn’t tell if the teleco reps were ill prepared or just trying to play the saint for the audience, the obvious antagonist.

But why was this happening?? Silver has a particular motivation and a goal, and not one with which all parties in the tech policy community would agree.? Why was no one with a differing point of view sitting on this panal?? Not to defend the telecos, but to ask questions from a differing foundation, or to call Silver’s bluff.? Where was Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, or Adam Thierer who started Technology Liberation Front?? Where was Timothy B. Lee, CATO fellow and Ars Technica contributor? (Who in my humble opinion has hands down written the best scholarly explanation of network neutrality available.? Which is mighty humble of me, if I do say so, considering I’ve written on it myself.)

I did appreciate hearing the audience gleefully suck up every drop the FCC commissioner Blair Levin had to say; especially the part where he told us that they were creating a plan.? Really? The plan he is referring to of course is the National Broadband Strategy which comes due in February of 2010.? What hardly anyone knows though is that the US Department of Agriculture who has used the Rural Utilities Services (RUS) division to improve broadband distribution in the past has been awarded funds for distribution from the stimulus.? RUS plans to distribute its roughly $2.5 billion by September 30th, 2009.? The National Telecommunications and Information Administration?who received the bulk of the broadband stimulus funds?will hand out their dollars in three phases occurring Spring of 2009, Fall of 2009, and Spring of 2010.

Spend first, formulate your plan later, Mr. Levin?? Sort of seems counterproductive to planning at all.

Conservatives are boned at PDF 2009.? There is certainly not enough representation amongst panel members.? Some of this is absolutely not the fault of Personal Democracy Forum.? We are under a liberal Administration, and that administration appoints liberal bureaucrats.? An invite to Robert McDowell or Meredith Attwell Baker would have been nice.? Maybe they were invited, and turned it down.? This too is a possibility.? At least Cas Sunstein with his Fairness Doctrine-esque “electronic sidewalks” for the Internet isn’t present.

I’m not laying the wood to PDF.? Yes, from initial indications it doesn’t appear that the ideological sides are well balanced, and possibly they don’t know where to look.? The real trouble however is the attendees.

The Personal Democracy Forum doesn’t help conservatives.? Because conservatives aren’t there to be helped.

The numbers are simply overwhelming.? I’d guestimate that the attendance is somwhere close to one thousand.? I’d also venture to say that there are roughly five conservatives there.? And I’m incorporating the one libertarian I saw with a Ron Paul button.

I’m dismayed.

I know these folks are out there.? I’ve written about them.? So where are they?? After this past Fall why aren’t ogles of people from the right side of the aisle on Capitol Hill all over this event?? Did the speakers shy them away?? I don’t really think so.? I’m a strong conservative-libertarian, and have been for years.? And while there are a few people in the speaker list that irk me on the average day, I wouldn’t let them keep me from attending when the majority of lectures and panels are simply focused on an examination of content in some form, a discussion of getting content to an audience, or about tools to help you be more efficient and productive.

This is subject matter that conservatives need to hear.? Maybe PDF needs to market themselves more to conservative circles on the web?? Possibly all conservatives on the web are poor and couldn’t afford to attend?? It could be that conservatives don’t fit in with all the Apple fan boys present at the conference.? If there were more Dell owners then it might have been more balanced.

All thought provoking questions.

These are just initial reactions.? I’m sure I will be thinking more about it into the second day of the event as I look for reasons for the paltry representation.

Secretly though, I think the liberals in the crowd are ecstatic.? Why wouldn’t they be?? It’s like someone serving up a box of free gold to anyone who shows up at the box and takes the gold.? And only liberals are showing up, so they get to take home all the gold.

You can’t teach a dead dog new tricks.? And you certainly can’t expect to win a fight you don’t show up to.

Very much looking forward to Tuesday.

-nick

Cornyn keeps ’em honest- or at least scared

If you can’t keep them honest, keep them scared of losing elections. This seems to be the lesson the NRA and Senator John Cornyn of Texas have taught us- and as a general fan of the Constitution, I am grateful.

During the 111th Congress, for the umpteenth time, the D.C. voting issue was brought to the legislative table. Cornyn, however, put a gun amendment into it a number of months ago that caused a major issue- many Democrats didn’t want to pass the gun amendment, but they DID want to allow D.C. residents the right to vote in national elections (which, considering the liberal bias of D.C., would be offset by a Republican seat in Utah)- but more conservative Democrats wanted to pass the bill WITH the gun amendment. According to Wednesday’s issues of Roll Call, as well as the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/09/AR2009060902083.html), the gun amendment (which would would limit the District’s authority to restrict firearms, repeal the D.C. semiautomatic gun ban and remove gun-registration requirements (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dc/2009/02/_the_senate_today_considered.html)) has essentially killed the bill.

Unfortunately, two issues currently exist- first, Constitutionally, D.C. residents cannot vote (http://www.heritage.org/Research/LegalIssues/lm37.cfm), and the longer Democrats hold power the more likely it is that D.C. residents will have that unconstitutional right. However, this leads to the second issue, which is the quandary that ALL citizens of America should have the right to vote in national elections, since they pay taxes and are otherwise influenced by federal decisions (especially in D.C., where Congress has direct authority over much of the city’s decisions and laws). Fortunately, The Heritage Foundation has come up with multiple potential solutions to the issue (including the various drawbacks to each):

* Propose an Amendment. Congress could propose an amendment granting the District a representative in Congress, perhaps using the 1978 proposal noted earlier as a model. Adding such representation directly to the Constitution would by definition avoid running afoul of the nation’s supreme law. In addition, the amendment solution would retain the Founders’ intention that the capital city remain subject to the “exclusive legislation” of Congress–even as it grants the city’s residents a more direct voice in that legislation. For many purposes, this would treat the District as if it were a state granted representation in Congress, but it would seem to require unanimous consent of every state if it sought to provide representation in the Senate, per Article V. An amendment would also upset the Framers’ design for the federal district and placement in the national polity.
* Grant Statehood. It is highly unlikely that Congress could simply grant statehood to the District upon its application. More likely, doing so would require a constitutional amendment, because the Constitution grants Congress, not any state body, “exclusive legislation” over the nation’s capital. Such a plan would also run counter to the Framers’ still reasonable intent to have a national capital outside the influence of state politics. Granting statehood would also automatically provide the District with a representative and two senators, more representation than it would receive under current legislative proposals, possibly shifting the balance of power in that smaller chamber.
* Retrocede to Maryland. Congress may be able to return, or “retrocede,” residential portions of the District to Maryland, allowing residents to vote as citizens of that state. Some scholars argue that this would be analogous to the retrocession of Arlington and Alexandria to Virginia undertaken by Congress in 1846. The constitutionality of retrocession is hardly settled, however. The Supreme Court avoided ruling directly on the Virginia retrocession, and the 23rd Amendment, by conferring three electoral votes for President upon the District, may limit the changes that can now be made to its territory. At this date, legal scholars are sharply divided on the issue.
* Allow Voting in Maryland. Though the idea has been proposed many times, Congress could probably not allow District residents to vote as if they were residents of Maryland or some other state. While such a plan would give city residents a say in congressional elections and would not affect the District’s status under the Constitution, it would suffer from a number of practical and constitutional defects, due in part to the 23rd Amendment.
* End Federal Taxation. Given its exclusive power over the District, Congress could abolish federal income taxes on District residents, providing a powerful solution to the city’s “taxation without representation” complaint. This compromise is fully within Congress’s powers, and indeed, Congress has enacted special tax policies for the District in the past, something that it cannot do concerning states. There are also strong policy arguments in favor of this approach.[20]
* Change of Residence. It should be noted that District residents–unlike the American colonists, who had little choice in the face of British denial of representation–have always had the option to move to other U.S. jurisdictions, like Maryland or Virginia, where they could enjoy full representation in Congress. While this might not be preferable or immediately affordable to all District residents, it remains a simple and unobjectionable option.
(http://www.heritage.org/Research/LegalIssues/lm37.cfm)

All of the above have various strengths and weaknesses- however, they are far better options constitutionally than what Democrats are currently offering. On a personal level, I like the end of the federal taxation- more on that from Heritage’s Robert Book here: http://www.heritage.org/research/taxes/wm2338.cfm.

– dustin

Single-Payer Violates Constitution?

On May 26, the New York Times had an article regarding the attempted collaboration by President Obama and the major healthcare industry players to lower costs. In the article, it was discussed how such collaboration could violate anti-trust laws.

Two things occurred to me as I read this: first, legal concerns haven’t stopped this (or other) administrations from violating laws before. Look at how the Troubled Asset Relief Program has been used- not one cent has gone to Relief for Troubled Assets. More importantly, however, I wonder if conservatives have found a new way to attack single-payer health care through anti-trust laws.

When I was a kid, I heard the joke “What is the only monopoly in the country?” “The post office.” The government, which broke up Microsoft for being a monopoly, had the single greatest monopoly in the nation. Similarly, by creating a single-payer system, the government is getting rid of competition. If we follow the logic behind preventing monopolies- because the monopolizing entity controls the product, creation of the product, etc.- having single-payer health care will do exactly that.

A great argument for nationalized health care is the elimination of the cost of insurance marketing- according to the Dennis Kucinich campaign in 2007, it’s around 30% of the cost of business. Single-payer would almost eliminate such costs, bringing administration costs down to about 4%, according to the same members of the Kucinich campaign.

The counter, of course, is why don’t we create monopolies in every aspect of our American markets? Because a no-competition environment creates a situation where a provider can charge basically whatever price it chooses (in the case of health care, the price elasticity is extremely limited), obviously, and it can diminish services however it sees fit. And since the government is made up of people, who are naturally flawed; hires on more people than necessary (unions, politicians, etc.); and tends to take care of its own (http://blog.heritage.org/2009/05/14/morning-bell-the-public-sector-union-threat-to-economic-recovery/), you can guarantee the 26%-or-so of savings will disappear.

My point is simple- beyond every other concern, the same Democrats and liberals who decried Bush’s allegedly unconstitutional/illegal wiretapping, interrogation techniques etc. had better make sure their long-term goals include the same legality they clamored for over the last nine years. Since the ever-so-popular public option is guaranteed to lead to single-payer health care (as Stuart Butler of The Heritage Foundation analogs, would you trust an umpire who worked for the other team? Also, a Republican on the Ways & Means Committee accurately stated that businesses cannot run deficits forever…but governments can), we’d better make damn sure we hold the liberals to the same standard they wanted for us.

-dustin

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