Yearly Archives: 2013

Surreal Subversion

American and Western European histories are filled with moral and social conflict and political battles. For the past three centuries, the trajectory toward human liberty and economic opportunity has been positive, with serious battles against totalitarianism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Coalitions of Center, Left and Right in Europe and lots of “horse-trading” in the USA have ensured relative stability for millions of people.

This stability depends upon four critical factors: consensual personal and social morality, human liberty, economic opportunity and the rule of law. These elements are interdependent and indispensable for human flourishing.

Our very civilization, built on these foundations, is threatened by the ideologues in power in Washington, D.C. (And by extension, Sacramento, CA)

I am normally optimistic, looking for the best in people, even those I disagree with. What is happening right now is the culmination of a century of subversion inaugurated by Woodrow Wilson, accelerated (with often noble intent) by FDR, turbo-charged by LBJ’s Great Society and mostly unopposed by even the Republicans designated as conservatives. The past five years, however, are fraught with exponential change that is subversive of the values enumerated above and enshrined in the Constitution.

I do not believe we can dismantle 100 years of structural change overnight…nor should we. What we must do is understand the times we live in and recognize the seriousness of our situation. All people of conscience, regardless of particular policy perspectives, must unite to stem the flood waters of self-destruction and turn the tide toward a preferred future.

Our current President and Administration are not content with adjustments that ease economic pain, build infrastructure and ensure opportunity. They are after forcible redistribution of wealth and the creation of a permanent working underclass that will vote for more largess from the federal trough. In addition to runaway spending, totalitarian control over health care and education and deliberate anarchy on immigration, they are undermining the four foundations mentioned above in the following ways:

The personal and social mores of hundreds of years are willfully discarded for “evolved” thinking of marriage and family, sexual license and special accommodation to Islamicists that despise everything the West stands for.

Human liberty – including freedom of conscience and worship, assembly and speech and redress to the government – is being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness and incipient totalitarian control over families and individuals. When people of goodwill cannot comment on marriage and morality, critique another religion or worldview (except Christianity) and are told that their most cherished values are subservient to state interests, we no longer have a functioning Constitution.

Economic opportunity is threatened by a militaristic environmentalism rooted in debatable science, excessive regulation and utter disdain for entrepreneurship that does not spout the correct social cliches. It is interesting that class envy is used to increase government control while major corporate donors pay little in taxes and garner contracts with public money.

Finally, the rule of law. Or should we say, lawlessness. Everywhere the current party is in power, crime grows, economies decline and social unrest is at an all-time high. Any suggestion of smaller budget increases or greater efficiencies in social programs are greeted with howls that millions will starve. Immigration reform is a joke. Millions will be pardoned for breaking the law. Instead of deporting felons, enforcing borders and crafting pathways to citizenship that continue our grand values, we are opening the floodgates for cheap labor and cheap votes.

We have a small window of opportunity to change this pathway to oblivion. It will require moral courage, spiritual awakening and wisdom to meet the needs of many types of people. It will also require Congressional and Presidential leadership willing to debate civilly and seriously and forge policies that represent all Americans.

Surreal artists distort reality and provoke reactions with exaggerated forms. The people in power are doing the same with their histrionics and propaganda. Their refusal to debate, stubborness in the face of many concerns and fiat-wielding power speak for themselves. They have a distorted narrative, an exaggerated sense of their own superiority and utter disdain for all that are less “enlightened.” It is time to compel them to get real jobs by voting in women and men of integrity that take the Constitution seriously.

Truth is the Only Path to Peace

The “Arab Spring” has devolved into the Jihadi Winter. The Cairo 2009 strategy of “leading from behind” and “outreach” to radical Islamic regimes is bearing bitter fruit and global contempt for the USA. “Negotiations” between the Palestinians are interrupted by terrorist attacks on Israelis, continued calls for violence and a refusal of the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel’s right to exist within secure borders and with full diplomatic relations with a second Palestinian state (Jordan was shaped as the first one in 1947). When Israel defends herself or builds a few settlements, the world declares “Apartheid! Racism! Colonialism!” And those are the nice words.

It is time for honesty about USA foreign policy and the realities of the Middle East. Millions of lives, scores of national economies and our pursuit of justice demand serious accounting, not ideological epithets tossed back and forth on the airwaves and Internet. In the following paragraphs, I will outline a pathway to peace, with the understanding that any accord is fragile and the cohesion of nation-states and tranquility between nations requires ethical courage and constant vigilance. I will not cater to radical Zionists that wish to displace all Arabs from Judea and Samaria. I will also refuse to listen to replacement theologians and leftist activists that reduce Israel to Western colonialism and deny her place in the community of nations.

There are multiple 20th century narratives concerning the Middle East, from the miracle of Zionism to the tragedy to Palestinian diaspora. All of them contain some truth and no one timeline (with its inherent selectivity) can capture the complexity. The pathway to peace requires understanding history and a willingness to lay down the grievances of the past to forge a better future. Recounting terrorist incidents and family tragedies without forgiveness and willingness to create something new only compounds the current impasse. The way forward is rooted in present reality and future hope, not bitterness or nostalgia.

Here are some “mile markers” on a road to peace:

1. Israel is not going away. Much can be negotiated – and has, with Nobel prizes awarded for the attempts – but existence in peace with diplomatic relations is the starting point.

2. A Palestinian State dedicated to peace, economic cooperation and freedom of conscience must be the goal. There will be no new state without renunciation of terrorism. This new state is another “given.”

3. The Palestinian demands for “right of return” for 1947-49 refugees cannot include every distant descendant and must involve relocation in the new state as much as possible, not overwhelming a Jewish State with angry radicals. Realistically, many can return home in Israel, with others welcomed in a new Palestine.

4. Jerusalem can be the capital of both states. The Temple Mount and other holy sites need oversight from outside bodies as well and the consensus of each nation.

5. The new Palestinian leaders must renounce deception, winking at radicals and the long-term goal of annihilating Israel. There cannot be one set of phrases for Western consumption while other agendas are promoted to radical constituencies. No more Temple denial, Holocaust denial or distribution of the Protocols and other scurrilous literature.

6. Israel should freeze settlements if # 1 is unequivocally announced and terrorists are arrested and prosecuted.

7. There should be immediate economic joint-ventures creating thousands of new jobs for underemployed Palestinians.

8. The USA must be the leading mediator at serious peace talks. No other nation has anything close to the objectivity America displays. China wants oil, period. Russia wants imperial power and access to warm water and economic control. All the nations surrounding Israel have much to gain from peace, including the blessings of free trade, tourism and culture exchange. Iran and Syria can be marginalized and a new coalition of freedom-affirmation nations may be emboldened to resist the mad mullahs.

9. The EU needs to stay on the sidelines and enter a new season of humility and repentance for her anti-Semitism and capitulation to radical Islam. Without reverting to the national-racial depravities of the 19th and 20th century, European nations must reaffirm first principles of freedom and arrest their decline toward de facto Sharia. No European nation has the moral strength and objectivity at present to lend any weight to negotiations.

10. All of these principles for peace require unprecedented courage on the part of Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The PA must change their textbooks and include an Israeli State. Israel must welcome a fledgling state next door and create economic and travel pathways for prosperity. Before the ink is dry, death threats will come to all involved. But the lessons of Begin and Sadat are instructive. There has been no war between Israel and Egypt (or Jordan) since Camp David (President Carter’s greatest achievement). Bill Clinton called Arafat after the another broken accord and accused Arafat of ruining the chances fro pace and destroying their personal legacies. Arafat, child of the 1940s jihadi cries of the Mufti of Jerusalem (a joyful visitor to Auschwitz), could not, in the end, let go of his hatred and eliminationist ideology. Israel has proven her willingness to cede land for peace. It is time to find a PA leader who welcomes peace for generations yet unborn.

All peacemaking requires the best of human nature. All peace accords are subverted by human depravity. Israel is a moral good for the world. A peaceful Palestine could point the way toward Islamic cultural revitalization and political moderation. Real peace is a goal worth working for. May “open covenants, openly arrived at…” guide leaders that desire a better future.

A Great Reversal is Possible

Endless federal deficits. Porous borders and immigration chaos. Selective enforcement of oversight laws and regulations in the EPA and IRS. Health care for all that includes 2400+ exemptions, including government employees. A foreign policy without direction. Serious scandals dismissed as phony and a media that is rarely investigating those currently in power.

These and other problems are not five years in the making, though the current Administration has done little to resolve and much to exacerbate this state of affairs. Our current crises are a century in the making, beginning with some of the unintended consequences of the Roosevelt Administration in the first decade of the 1900s, continuing through the elitism of the Wilson years, accelerated by the policies of FDR and codified by LBJ’s Great Society in the 1960s. Neither Democratic or Republican leaders have been able to reverse the trends that are presently carrying our American experiment toward oblivion.

The fundamental issue for over a century is the disempowerment of individuals and local government by the Leviathan of ever-increasing federal power. It is important to note that this essay is not a nostalgic foray into a mythical past. We need federal agencies for everything from protecting civil rights to decent food and a clean environment. The ethical and social oversight that ensures freedom and opportunity is a vital part of the original intention of the founders. What was never in their minds and must be altered in ours was the federal administration of so much public money! The corruption, bad stewardship and inefficiencies of federal power hinder the good intentions of most citizens that want compassion, safety and reasonable public services.

We must begin a reversal today and re-empower local and state governments and restore the dignity of personal virtue as the critical foundation for liberty. This will not happen overnight and will call upon every moral and spiritual resource we possess. We can begin by taking ownership of our decisions and votes and calling upon public servants to serve rather than be enriched at our expense. We must not allow collectivist or libertarian extremists or social elites to control the public conversations critical to our future.

We can reverse a century of malfeasance in less than a decade if we will find the courage to stop over-promising and under-delivering largess and call upon the better natures our citizens to contribute to the common good through their business and charitable enterprises. We must welcome people of all faiths (or none) into the civil-political discourse and stop pretending that religious values have no place in public life. Coercion of conscience has no place in a free society, but faith convictions are not restricted to the private sphere. Polite and robust debate is good for freedom and we must not permit one political party or religious tradition to impose their will and stifle dissent.

Wealth can be created while caring for the environment and compensating employees fairly. The tax code needs complete transformation – and some folks will need to find other employment. Military readiness and care for veterans are important priorities. Our policies must stop rewarding irresponsible behavior. Our management of the public purse needs an overhaul, releasing some local, state and federal workers to the private sector. Immigration policy requires courage and decriminalizing drugs is a social folly.

All these words are easy to write – and extremely hard to practice because our system discourages disrupting current norms that might displace voters. When enough citizens find courage and their elected officials discover integrity, we can reverse the tides and uncover new wellsprings of potential and prosperity.