Friday, August 31, 2012

The 2012 Republican Convention

Paul Ryan: "We will solve America's problems by reapplying our founding principles."

Mitt Romney: "I like women, Hispanics and families."

Agent Smith: "One of these lives has a future. One of them does not."

Establishment Republican strategists like the ones writing Romney's speeches are worried about Hispanics in the future and women in the now. Hispanics currently vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. They believe, probably correctly, that the future of the Republican party at least in part depends upon Hispanics voting for them. What they don't understand is they are never going to beat the Democrats at pandering to constituencies. Marco Rubio knows how to appeal to Hispanics without pandering, and that's with a conservative message. He told the story he has told so many times, skewering Obama's politics with the line: "ideas that people come to America to get away from." He even spoke a line of Spanish, quoting his father about why he immigrated to America away from socialist Cuba. If you want to appeal to Hispanics, do it the same way you appeal to everyone else. Rubio understands that. Romney does not.

Romney seemed especially concerned about women. He mentioned by name all the women who had spoken at the convention, and not being content to stop there mentioned how he had hired a lot of women at Bain and as governor of Massachusetts. As if that wasn't enough, he said women now start most businesses. Okay we get it Mr. Romney. Women are cool. Why does it feel like you are still living in the fifties like your father, who became a Republican to vote for Eisenhower? You are not a war hero, Mr. Romney, and you will not have a successful presidency by telling everyone to calm down and love their families. Our problems are not caused by a foreign nation or a war, and the American people aren't ready to take a break. The night before Ryan joked that his iPod starts with AC/DC and ends with Led Zeppelin. Ryan compared Romney's iPod playlist to elevator music. Romney's comeback against Ryan's joke came out awkward and defensive. It was the first hint I've seen at actual tension between the two men. During the primary campaign last year I marveled at the ineptness of all of the candidates, including the conservatives ones, failing to endorse Ryan's budget proposal which had already passed the Republican House in two different versions. It seemed that even in a Republican primary they were one and all afraid of it. I said at the time that the first person to endorse Ryan openly would win the primary. Ryan himself could have won it. But nobody did. Romney didn't until he had already won. It seems Romney finally realized how much support Ryan really has and picked him as his running mate. Until last night, I didn't know whether Romney was rattled by Ryan or not. I thought perhaps Romney viewed Ryan as a talented young politician who could be an asset to his administration. It's clear to me now that Romney is going to keep Ryan at arm's length. Whatever influence Ryan will have on Romney's administration will have to come with reference to the support Ryan already has behind him. Romney is threatened by Ryan, but at least he appears to be enough of a man to make the right decisions anyway.

I've been working on a post incorporating The Matrix quite a bit, so it may seem like I'm using that movie a lot. I assure you it's entirely due to my great love for that film. At one point early on in the movie before Neo knows what's going on, Agent Smith hauls him in for a talk. He lets Neo know they've been watching him and they know he's a hacker living a double life. He tells Neo that one of his lives has a future and one of them does not, clearly intimating that Neo should stop being a rebel and play ball. Neo famously announces his plan to flip Smith the bird and promptly executes it, not unlike the way Ryan finally broke his discipline and allowed himself a shot at the establishment, saying: "In a clean break from the Obama years, and frankly from the years before this president, we will keep federal spending at 20 percent of GDP, or less. Because that is enough." The GOP establishment looks at the Tea Party and chastises it for not playing the game. They believe in the politics of the past, stroking the egos of various constituencies, emphasizing everything that makes us different from each other. The 2012 Republican convention highlighted the difference between the future of the Republican party according to Ryan, Rubio and Rand (Paul) versus the future according to Romney and the GOP establishment. At least one conservative who was alive back then noted the similarities to the 1976 convention where a barely defeated Reagan stole the show. Reagan lost that primary, but he won the presidency four years later and became one of the most successful modern presidents. The winner Gerald Ford managed only to lose the presidency to Jimmy Carter and became a one term footnote. Then as now, one of these lives has a future. One of them does not.

Now that's whack.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


"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 are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

~The Declaration of Independence

"All men are created equal." Even in that small excerpt the modern conception of equality is refuted. All men are created equal. This does not mean they remain equal after their creation. If someone had told the Founders that their doctrine of equality really meant that the man who chooses to murder someone is "equal" to the man who chooses not to and therefore it's not fair for the latter to go to prison and the former to remain free, they would have been run out of the room. What the founders meant is that everyone deserves equal treatment under the law. In other words the law applies to everyone equally. That means rich and powerful men who commit murder should go to prison just the same as the poor man. Equality under the law does not mean that everyone regardless of their choices must be guaranteed equality by the government in every possible aspect of measurement.

This original concept of equality has been destroyed in modern America and replaced with an extremist and nonsensical banality called Equalism. It is a consequence of living in a successful society that has little or no understanding of how the world normally works outside it. In most of human history, rich and powerful men can get away with things that poor men cannot. The American idea of equality is that everyone is held to the same standard. The contemporary tenet of equalism, an extremist position, goes a step farther. Equalism says that unequal outcomes reflect an unequal standard. That is, if everyone is really being held to the same standard, then everyone should be exactly the same. The only possible explanation for unequal outcomes, so they say, is that the standard is being applied unequally.

This is of course preposterous. The idea that an equal application of a law against murder requires that either everyone is a murderer or no one is defies all common sense. Thus equalism cannot be correct at any level. But the equalists in our society do not see this because they do not examine their underlying assumptions. They are blind to them. In my post on Rationalism and also in my book I make the point that Reason must proceed from premises to conclusions and those premises must be chosen. That is taken on faith. But rationalists believe that as long as they are engaging in right reason, they are aligned with the Good automatically. The result, if I am correct, is only that their real premises are obscured from themselves because they falsely believe their premise to be Reason itself. One of the premises modern people have blinded themselves to is this modern concept of Equalism.

Because of this blindness, Equalism is not a word as far as I can tell. Wikipedia redirects to "Egalitarianism," but right away there are problems:

- Egalitarianism in economics is a controversial phrase with conflicting potential meanings. It may refer either to "equality of opportunity", the view that the government ought not to discriminate against citizens or hinder opportunities for them to prosper, or the quite different notion of "equality of outcome", a state of economic affairs in which the government promotes equal prosperity for all citizens.

Clearly "Egalitarianism" is not what I mean, so I define Equalism:

- the belief that all human beings taken as individuals are mathematically equal in every quality upon birth, and differences between people only accrue from negative influences by society upon them.

What I would say is everyone has equal capacities at birth and equal value to God throughout their lives. However people can use their free will capacity to embark upon highly divergent lines of behavior. Doing so will inevitably mean that people who make different choices will end up in different situations. They will not be "equal" in the equalist sense of the term. I have been told by some of my friends that conservative "rhetoric" is long on judgment and short on redemption. Perhaps so, but perhaps it is long on judgment because redemption cannot be given to someone who hasn't first repented. You cannot redeem someone who believes he has made no error. Herein lies the spiritual danger of equalism. Equalism deflects responsibility for one's choices away from the individual and onto society at large. It is society's fault that you shot that man in cold blood. It is society's fault that you failed high school. It is society's fault that you are poor and can't support your family because you got divorced and had kids as a teenager. People who buy into this myth end up believing that many problems they have that come as a direct result of their own bad choices aren't really their fault. (Equalism fits neatly with progressive fatalism.) Even God demands repentance before salvation. He doesn't demand that you change your behavior first, but He does demand that you at least admit your sinfulness.

Today Equalism has such influence that even undeniable biological differences between people are denied such that one could say, "I am a man in a women's body" without being laughed out of the room. The Arab Spring documents one particular manifestation of Equalism. Equalists insist on gender, racial and other types of equality in sports, business, construction, the military, and every last possible form of employment or human endeavor. The equalists would have us believe that until every possible way of measuring job categories yields a perfect representation by percentage of population society is racist, sexist or whatever else. According to Equalism, the only possible explanation for a gender disparity of men in the construction industry and women in beauty salons is society's prejudice. When anyone suggests that maybe, just maybe, men prefer construction jobs and women prefer hairstyling, that person is labeled a sexist. When anyone suggests that the high crime rate of African Americans is not the result of racism in the criminal justice system, that person is automatically a racist. When, for instance, Mitt Romney suggests that Israel's per capita GDP exceeds that of the surrounding countries because of the superiority of their culture, he is vilified by the equalists. These people are not responding to reality. They are responding to their own prior convictions about the human race, convictions they have completely blinded themselves to. In their minds, their conclusion is the only possible, rational conclusion, and anyone who disagrees with them is automatically evil, like some cackling Bond villian. Truth has nothing to do with it.

Now that's whack.