Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sam Houston, R.I.P.

Sam Houston (1793-1863) was the first and third President of the then-Republic of Texas.  After Texas joined the Union, Sam became United States Senator from the Lone Star State.

When during the Civil War Texas seceded from the Union, he refused to swear loyalty to the Confederacy, resigned as governor, but refused to use Union troops to suppress the rebellion.

As far as is known, Sam Houston was not a singer, actor, alcoholic or drug abuser.

He was not buried in New Jersey, with unseemly hoopla.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Most people think that “altruism” means nothing more than being nice to people. Contributing to Haitian relief, or medical research.  Helping the poor, supporting the arts.

But the real meaning of “altruism” when used in an ethical/political context is significantly different.  Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language defines altruism as “the doctrine that the general welfare of society 1 is the proper goal of an individual's action”2 — the sacrificial antithesis of one acting in pursuit of his or her own interests.  Others, anyone, everyone—before me, or you.

Ayn Rand defined altruism in the ethical/political context more fully: “the ethical theory which regards man as a sacrificial animal, which holds that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.”3  She elaborated:

Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar.  That is not the issue.  The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime.  The issue is whether you must continue buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you.  The issue is whether the need of others [“society”?] is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence. * * *4

Closely related to altruism is the concept of “collectivism.” 

Contrary to popular belief, collectivism has nothing to do with people who share common interests voluntarily coming together, as in a bowling league.  On the contrary, and antithetical to the principles of individual rights and limited government, “[c]ollectivism holds that the individual has no rights, that his life and work belong to the group (to ‘society,’ to the tribe, the state, the nation), and that the group may sacrifice him at its own whim to its own interests.”5  “Collectivism means the subjugation of the individual to a group— whether to a race, class or state does not matter.  Collectivism holds that man must be chained to collective action and collective thought for the sake of what is called the ‘common good’.”6

Because altruism and collectivism are ethical, not political/legal, doctrines, the only way to implement them is by brute force, of which the government has a monopoly. 

Necessarily, altruism and collectivism have a political/legal corollary, statism: “the principle or policy of concentrating extensive economic, political, and related controls in the state at the cost of individual liberty”7 and of limited government. 

Altruism and collectivism are the antithesis of the individual rights principle of the Declaration of Independence, the limited government created by the Constitution of the United States of America, and the enumerated and unenumerated rights protected by the Bill of Rights.

Not to see Rick Santorum—now anointed by many of the anti-Romney Republican primary electorate as “The Great Right Hope”—for the unapologetic altruist-collectivist-statist he is would be a huge, dangerous mistake.

Either woefully ignorant about the nature and consequences of altruism-collectivism-statism, recklessly indifferent to these ethical/political doctrines, and/or seeking any port in a storm, in the last several days too many Americans have fallen for Santorum’s rousing paeans to individual rights and limited government.

Despite the vigor with which he claims to stand up for liberty, individual rights, limited government, and property and contract rights, and despite wrapping himself in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (how did he miss the Northwest Ordinance?), Rick Santorum is a cunning altruist-collectivist-statist of the worst kind. 

Don’t take my word for it.

On September 27, 2005, then-Senator Santorum gave a speech at “The First International Conservative Conference on Social Justice” entitled “The Conservative Future: Compassion.” 

That’s quite a mélange: “Conservative” (“in favor of preserving the status quo and traditional values and customs, and against abrupt change”8), “Social Justice” (often understood to mean “from each according to his ability to each according to his needs”9) and “Compassion” (“sympathy for the suffering of others, often including a desire to help.”10). 

The catchy title of his speech would have been more accurate had Santorum entitled it something like “The Future As Seen By This Compassionate Conservative: Sacrifice Of Some To The Needs Of Others, For The Common Good, Backed By Government Guns.”

Do I exaggerate?

Here’s Santorum in his own words (in Times New Roman), with my emphases, at the Conference:

“America’s conservative heritage never pursued a limitless freedom to do whatever one wants so long as no one is hurt. That kind of ‘freedom’ to be and do whatever we want, irrespective of the choice is a selfish freedom that cannot be sustained or afforded.  Someone always gets hurt when masses of individuals do what is only in their own self-interest.  That is the great lie of liberal freedom, or as I like to say, ‘No-Fault Freedom”—all the choice, none of the responsibility.

“We here today believe in something altogether different.  It is the liberty America’s Founders understood properly defined.  Freedom is liberty coupled with responsibility to something bigger or higher than self.  It is a self-less freedom.  It is sacrificial freedom.  It is the pursuit of our dreams with an eye toward the common good.  Freedom is the dual activity of lifting our eyes to the heavens while extending our hand to our neighbor.

“The only orthodox conservative philosophy that matches with this is compassionate conservatism.”

Indeed!  The above quotation is why every self-respecting free American should run as if from a plague from Santorum and other “compassionate conservatives” who, according to him, claim to understand the Founders’ intent and accomplishments better than they themselves.

In his speech, Santorum confessed that he and his compassionate conservative cohort scorn the individuality and personhood often called the “self.”  They do so because the individuals possessing those essential human traits are not selfless— meaning, that being selfish the latter don’t have the good grace to be complicit when they are, in Santorum’s own words, sacrificed for the common good.  No man or woman with stature and pride will willingly be complicit in their own destruction--let alone in the name of the "common good."

What does Santorum mean by “something bigger or higher than self”?  Probably mystical forces that drive him and other compassionate conservatives to make irrational and indefensible pronouncements about where rights come from, and how we are all our brothers’ keepers.

Have we not seen enough by now of what comes from sacrificing human beings for the “good” of others, rationalized by the mystical doctrines that give birth to altruism, collectivism and statism? 

Putting aside all of earlier recorded history, did not the Twentieth Century provide evidence enough of how much human suffering these doctrines produce?

Included in Isabel Paterson’ groundbreaking 1943 book entitled The God of the Machine is her essay The Humanitarian with the Guillotine.

I leave you with what Paterson’s title implies, as we hear more and more about Rick Santorum’s mystically-rooted belief that some of us, sometime, must be sacrificed by government to fulfill the needs of others.  But, all that killing and plunder, devastation and pain, is of course for the “common good.”

[1] According to Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, a “society” is nothing more than “a group of persons . . . .”  Meaning, other people.

[2] Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition.

[3] Ayn Rand, “Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World,” Philosophy: Who Needs It, 74.

[4] Ibid.  Emphasis in original.

[5] Ayn Rand, “Racism,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 175.

[6] Ayn Rand, “The Only Path to Tomorrow,” Reader’s Digest, Jan. 1944, 8.


[8] Encarta Dictionary. 

[9] See Wikipedia.
[10] Encarta Dictionary.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Our Founders designed a system . . . ."

The full sentence uttered by Mr. Obama on February 6, 2012 was: "Our Founders designed a system that makes it more difficult for me to bring about change than I would like sometimes."

Perhaps the reason the Founders designed such a system was that they were dealing with a King.  

Note Jefferson's indictment in the second paragraph: "The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a history of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of any absolute Tyranny over these States."  This statement is followed by a bill of particulars consisting of some thirty specific accusations.

Now note these provisions of the Constitution of the United States of America:

All legislative power in Congress (Article I), including the power "To declare War" (Article I), and all judicial power in federal courts (Article III)--not in the President.

Congress (Article I) and a Supreme Court decision) can suspend habeas corpus--not the President.

Presidential oath:  I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. (Article II, Section 2). 
The power of impeachment/conviction/removal resting in Congress is, at least in theory, a constraint on the President.  Ask the first President Johnson, who survived by a hair.  And, for that matter, President Nixon, who cut and ran before the House (pun intended) fell in on him.

Treaties with the "Advice and Consent of the Senate," if the President can muster a two-thirds vote of the Senators present.  Ditto with major federal officials, including judges, with a majority vote.

And the grandaddy of them all: "The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid for all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress."
(Article V of the Constitution of the United States of America.)

Yet Obama appoints Sotomayor and Kagan to the Supreme Court so that they can amend the Constitution without a nod to Article V.

"More difficult," indeed.  

Apparently not so difficult as to prevent him from unfaithfully going to war in Libya.  

Not so difficult as to prevent him from unfaithfully appointing "czars," and thus circumventing the "advise and consent" function of the Senate. 

Not so difficult so as to prevent him from unfaithfully making recess appointments when there was no Senate recess.  

Not so difficult so as to prevent him from unfaithfully instigating and then approving the largely unconstitutional Obamacare.

No, unfortunately, despite his whining protestation about how the Founders have constrained his good intentions, in fact much of what Obama has done has been "not so difficult."

It is frightening to think what else may be "not so difficult" if the alleged former constitutional law professor swindles another term out of a majority of the gullible American people.