NEVER GIVE UP, PART THREE

NEVER GIVE UP, PART THREE

THE MISSING LINK – Rescuing the American Republic

By Jay B Gaskill

Copyright © 2012 by Jay B Gaskill {Permissions readily granted. Contact: law@jaygaskill.com }

Also posted – on The POLICY THINK SITE http://jaygaskill.com/TheMissingLink.htm

Marx was wrong.  History is on our side.

Citizens of the USA are inheritors of a sovereign legacy like no other.  Our country is a beacon…still.

We are the world’s foremost Renaissance Republic.[1]

We are under attack from 12th century tribalists using modern weapons, and by 21st century Neo-Marxists using modern advertising technology[2].  We cannot afford to lose. We must reset the defense strategy, rethinking our fundamentals, reassessing our priorities and shedding the tired catch phrases (“The party of Small government”) that the jaded modern audience ignores. So far, we are better at the negative barb than the uplifting one. “The party of Nanny Government” is sharp, but we need an even sharper agenda.

There are five sharp elements to the USA Recovery project:

  • The Broadband freedom Agenda;
  • The upward Mobility Agenda;
  • The Tough security Agenda;
  • The Moral Agenda
  • The Broadband Creative Agenda (which is the principal theme of this piece);

Why a Renaissance Republic? A liberty-centered republic is a better guarantor of the precious gifts of freedom because absolute democracies are absolutely dangerous whenever authoritarian mobs exploit them to seize permanent power in a single election (as Hitler’s election demonstrated and the Middle East’s springtime for jihadists recapitulates).  A constitutional republic is an even better safe haven for liberty, but as history has demonstrated, no system is perfect. Renaissance describes a creative safe haven, supported by a morally centered social order in a fruitful relationship with its flowering creative communities.

Creativity and creative communities are the linchpins of our long term recovery from the spell of suffocating progressive government-sponsored “human improvement”. Creativity is the missing link in the freedom agenda and a supporting moral system is the missing anchor.

All of us who haven’t been swept up in the “vast left wing conspiracy” need to ask ourselves – Why and how has the liberal-left-progressive mindset so thoroughly penetrated the US academy, the commentariat and the dominant media?

Here is the answer. Humanism, in its largest most generous sense, has a huge appeal to all of us, because it speaks to our innate idealism, the longing for a better, more humane world.  The conservatives of the 19th century set a tone that modern conservatives are still trying to shed.  The 19th century “right wingers” were so committed to the existing social order, with all its flaws, that they were easily type cast as enemies of all social progress.

Ameliorative social change became the defining ethos of the left, becoming a specifically political issue when social scientists convinced the reigning intelligentsia  that the powers of the state should be enlisted to propel – and then to compel – social progress across a range of human behaviors.  Conservative arguments against the abuse of state power were portrayed as arguments against ameliorative social change, as against worker safety, in favor of child labor and so on.

State sponsored economic change was the early and enduring agenda of the left, especially during the early 19th century awakening. Please note that free market capitalism did not then exist.  Instead of free markets among free people there was a regime-money alliance, driven and controlled by entrenched, mostly hereditary elites – the very sort of third world arrangement that modern conservatives stoutly oppose.

When Karl Marx railed against the capitalists (a term he invented), the real goal was to substitute one ruling class for another. He got away with the argument, because the conservatives of the day were incapable of making a case for free markets…few if any of them had actually seen one in action.  In fact, the real free market does not respect class, race and gender differences, and its self-organizing principles and the special optimal conditions for free markets to thrive  are exactly the same conditions as those needed for creative communities to flourish. Support for the free market was 19th century liberalism; it is still a liberal idea.

Marxism and its humanist progeny have flourished among the post-religious intelligentsia because utopian egalitarianism was sold as a moral construct. And conservatism, when disconnected from its religious underpinnings, seemed to be a convenient rationale for predatory greed.  This is why a moral agenda remains essential to the survival of free societies.

The three pillars of moral understanding that hold up the freedom agenda are: [1] the idea that creativity is essential to human survival; [2] that a free society is essential to the survival of creative communities; [3] and that human creative activities (because of their power to generate destabilizing and dangerous technologies) need to operate in the context of a morally centered society.

The Marxist agenda is nearly dead and the post-Marxist progressive agenda is beginning to crack under its internal contradictions.  The time is right for a new progressive agenda, one centered in creative freedom, the celebration of the creative process and of creative accomplishment.

This is a brilliantly youthful agenda, a sophisticated cultural agenda and a practical entrepreneur’s agenda all in one.  And it is a populist agenda that is fully coherent with core conservative values.

Creative technological innovations, from the mass production of refrigerators and washing machines to affordable smart devices (almost all of which were first developed in the USA) have done more to advance the actual day-to-day wellbeing of the so called common people than all the Marxist ideological gurus and government programs of the left combined.

Conservatives, it is time to wake up to the creative agenda; you have nothing to lose but losing itself.

The Broadband Creative Agenda

In a recent Op Ed that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle, writer Hank Plante analyzed why Governor Romney, post-defeat, … “will likely move into their home in La Jolla, the San Diego suburb … where the local Democratic councilwoman was just re-elected, giving the San Diego City Council a 5-4 Democratic majority…and where there are six gay households within a three-block radius of the Romneys’ $12 million home.” Why, Plante asks, would a conservative move to “part of the bluest of blue states, California, where Republican registration just fell below 30 percent…So what gives? If you are the Romneys, then why not settle in a red state where people love you? What’s wrong with Alabama, Mississippi or even Utah? Simply put, when it comes down to it, Mitt and Ann Romney seem to want the same things that so many others seek in California living: a tolerant, open, environmentally beautiful place to live that we’re not afraid to pay for.” Plante adds that the “Romneys fall right in line with the work that has been done by sociologists such as Richard Florida, who has developed a cottage industry by studying what he calls “the creative class.” …[S]uccessful, bright creative professionals – perhaps 30 percent of the American workforce – are the ones driving America’s new economy. At the top of Florida’s list of “creativity rankings” is, of course, San Francisco. That’s followed by Austin, Texas, and then San Diego (including La Jolla). … “Citizens there probably would love to experience the kind of boom that Silicon Valley techies have brought to the Bay Area. But it took a creative, open environment for Silicon Valley to grow – the same kind of open environment – full of eccentricities and inventiveness…” http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Mitt-Romney-turns-blue-4051525.php

This is a point I’ve been making for some time now.  Conservatives are natural allies of these creative communities, going all the way back to the Florentine Renaissance in Medieval Italy, because creative communities thrive in a setting of protected liberty.  The USA itself became just such a haven, a circumstance that explains our brilliant technological success over the last 150 years.  This is why I am calling the USA the one surviving Renaissance Republic. There is a rich conservative tradition that supports creative freedom and the right to creative intellectual property.  Two of Ayn Rand’s books, The Fountainhead, and the collection of essays about the arts, The Romantic Manifesto, are paeans to creative freedom and the glories of the creative process.

Most of the working inhabitants of Silicon Valley are apolitical, but libertarian in philosophy.  The liberal democrats have courted them like Hollywood celebrities and the conservatives are nowhere to be found.  What an inexcusable failure.  What a blind spot.

Without the right to creative property, creativity dies. The special conditions that our allow freedoms to flourish are essential to our society’s creative capacity.

The founders of the American Experiment understood and participated in the creative awakening of the era.  Jefferson and Franklin were inventors.  The US constitution, even before the Bill of Rights was added, was a completely unique founding document, particularly in that it explicitly provided for the protection of intellectual property.  The founders also understood that creative activities included science, invention, the arts and music.  At the time, the foremost creative communities in the world flourished in Paris.  Within two decades of the American founding, the creative center of the world (seen as a broadband renaissance across several disciplines) had crossed the Atlantic.

The former British colonies in America had become the Renaissance Republic.

Tyrannies and smothering bureaucracies are toxic to creative communities.  Our creative accomplishments, in the arts, sciences and technology are intrinsic values; they are part of the human thirst for achievement and happiness.  Like freedom itself, they are indivisible.

But keeping our creative capacities and communities alive and well is essential to our ability to adapt, survive and thrive against all challenges and threats, known and unknown, anticipated, and unanticipated. Supporting the creative-productive makers and doers against the manipulative and parasitical forces of envy, downward leveling, and political exploitation is an essential part of the creative agenda.

Modern conservatives must always take creativity’s side against bureaucracies and its other enemies.

Creativity requires special conditions that include creative freedom, safety from predators, and the right to have property, especially intellectual property.  As advocates for the Renaissance Republic, we need to pay attention to the creative communities that are close to us, from the art colonies of Brooklyn and Berkeley to the cyber nurseries of Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley… because these are freedom’s natural constituencies.  The casual and cynical exploitation of such (comparatively) innocent creative communities by the left is one of the tragic frauds of the current era.

Note to my creative friends who still think that conservatives are “the enemy”: Hard tyrannies begin with soft tyrannies, but the pattern for both is the same.  First seduce the creative communities, then selectively intimidate, imprison and – if needed – kill the dissidents among them.

The tyrants already know that which many conservatives and freedom-loving liberals have yet to grasp. Those who win over the creative communities will eventually win the game. Never ever doubt that the creative communities are a natural liberty-constituency. Whenever a modern regime slips into totalitarian excess, its creative communities seek refuge – usually in the USA.  Friendship and affinity can be theoretically claimed, but that only works when demonstrated in the real world using real people in real situations.  That is the task of the modern conservatives within the embattled Renaissance Republic.

Why do the worker bees of the media tend to be progressive liberals? Because the academy has been captured by the left, and history has been re-narrated.   Modern journalists and their handlers are linked to the well-tamed creative communitarians, who in turn have been exploited by the left. This is not a new development. Hitler’s film director-propagandist, Leni Riefenstahl, was the archetypical fallen creative artist who became a Nazi tool.

But even then, for every two creative types who were coopted and enlisted by tyrants, there were eight who refused to play along. The jazz artists of the era were the Nazi’s creative nemeses.  The American music scene of the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s was greatly enriched by European escapees from Nazi Germany and later from Soviet Russia.

The best creative minds of every generation were and are anti-authoritarians.

A Footnote About

PRIORITIES

On a scale of one to ten, the pro-life agenda, taken broadly to include a deep moral revulsion of euthanasia, organ harvesting, and so on, is an eight or nine compared with gay marriage, which is, at best, only a two, no matter which side you take.

But, for me, a kid who grew up with or went to school with Jewish friends whose surviving relatives carried Nazi stigmata (the tattooed serial numbers), the son of a father who saw Hitler’s heinous crimes in Germany first-hand (Captain Gaskill accompanied by Lieutenant Cohen)… for me, the terms “never forget” and “never again” are burned into my soul.  For me, the defense of Israel is a 9.8 and the closely-connected goal of preventing of another holocaust is a 9.97.

It should not escape your notice that tiny Israel is one of the most intensely creative communities in the world. As the world’s foremost creative civilization, we cannot stand idly by and watch while Israel is savaged by neo-Medieval enemies armed with modern weapons and Nazi mindsets.

Ah, but the preservation of the USA as a beacon of life-affirming freedom is a ten – because without the USA, the Nazi nightmare, the communist nightmare…or both, could have won out. And without us, here and now, bruised and ambivalent as many of us are, it all goes to hell.

There are other issues, of course, each of which will be the subject of a careful discussion.  But our approach should remain the same –we are the guardians of the overall health of the civilization, of the culture and the preservation of the USA as an example and the beacon of freedom to the world.

Modern conservatives need to ally with other freedom-friendly citizens, however they choose to label or describe themselves, in the larger cause – promoting and expanding the ideal of the Renaissance Republic, of which the USA has been world’s primary exemplar.

Using this expanded context and a more intelligent outreach to recruits among constituencies heretofore neglected by paleo-conservatives, we and our allies will marshal the collective skills, abilities and credibility to move the navigation needle away from the abyss and towards a fruitful more life-affirming, more creative, more liberty-friendly USA.  We will because we must.  Necessity is the mother of determination.

The present moment of “defeat” is our unique opportunity.  Let’s seize it and change the world…one uninformed but receptive mind at a time.

JBG

The author is a California lawyer.

He served as the 7th Public Defender for the County of Alameda, California (headquartered in Oakland) from 1989-1999.


[1] The author’s earlier development of this idea is still posted on-line in two articles:   http://jaygaskill.com/CreativityAndSurvival.pdf &  http://jaygaskill.com/ACS2011.htm .

[2] See the Progressive Endgame: http://jaygaskill.com/ModernProgressiveLiberalismEndgame.pdf

Prager Nails It – Again

This is about the election outcome and the capacity to recognize Evil.  [No, the argument is not that one candidate was evil.] Read Dennis Prager’s analysis of why so many Florida ex-Cubans (not yet a majority) voted for the incumbent. Go to –  http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/334100/seeing-no-evil-dennis-prager

I agree wholeheartedly.

JBG

DOUBLE HIJACK – ANATOMY OF THE LEFT

THE DOUBLE LEFTIST HIJACK

This essay is PART TWO in the Never Give Up series by the author.

PART ONE, The Coming Struggle Over Values, is available at: http://jaygaskill.com/TheComingSTRUGGLE.htm .

PART THREE, The Missing Link, is scheduled to be released on Wednesday.

The final article, PART FOUR, will recap all the pieces and add new material. That piece begins with these lines-

“Marx was wrong.  History is on our side.

“Citizens of the USA are inheritors of a sovereign legacy like no other.  Our country is a beacon…still.  We are the world’s foremost Renaissance Republic.”

Analysis by

Jay B Gaskill

Sometime in the late 19th and early 20th century, leftists hijacked the term liberal, a term that first applied to those who endorsed free enterprise and open markets. These ideas were a great advance over feudalism, and over royalist mercantilism. Free markets and free exchanges were powerful reformist ideas because any truly free market system is also free from the political power brokers, political favoritism, and from all of the ancient prejudices of race, gender and class. Of course, we’re still living with politically managed markets and enterprises. A truly free marketplace, free of politics and favoritism, has yet to emerge on the world stage, but its approximations, even in communist China, are wildly more successful in advancing the general prosperity than socialist bureaucracies ever were.

Next, the leftists hijacked the term progressive. This was a term that in its original sense described the triumph of scientific and technological progress over superstition and entrenched privilege.  Because science and technology have moved the human population from lives that Hobbes described as  “nasty, brutal and short” into the well fed, civilized lifestyles we now enjoy in the developed West, the term progressive was aptly applied.

But in the hands of the progressive liberals (another term for the post-communist leftists) the original senses of the terms liberal and progressive were corrupted. Actually, the term, leftist comes to us from the British parliament, a comparatively late development, but its deep agenda has a more ancient provenance. The leftists, by whatever name, have always been about the leveling project.  In practice, far more leveling down has been achieved than leveling up.

The wary Australians have an aphorism that captures that process nicely: Try not to be the tall poppy in the field –  they are the first flowers to be cut down.

The leveling goal has remained a constant, in spite of its changing disguises. Because the impulse to level our fellow humans arises from the natural human tendency to jealousy (condemned, by the way, in the Decalogue – look it up), utopian leveling programs will always be with us.

Here is a working definition of the modern left:

Leftism represents the entire cluster of beliefs and opinions that share two elements: (1) The premise (taken as axiomatic) that human inequalities (whether in talent, achievement, position or circumstance – take your pick) are immoral, and represent the legacy of oppression; (2) the commitment to a comprehensive program to level out these differences, currently being sold as a series of harmless incremental measures.  But all the measures designed by the left to ameliorate or eliminate human inequalities employ the various coercive powers of governments (taxation and regulation) to change human behavior, even to alter human nature itself.  Thus we were presented in the late 19th century with Marx’s vision of a “new Marxist man”, and in the postmodern leftist era, we are faced with attempts to reengineer human nature. Political correctness is social Marxism.

The end product of the left’s agenda, whether pursued gradually or in a coup, is some form of authoritarian socialism.  Socialism never ends well because its necessary control over human economic activities inevitably leads to an ever greater measure of control of all other human endeavors. This is especially damaging because socialist bureaucracies tend to smother the creative, innovative and entrepreneurial spirits among us, upon whose freedom and risk-taking so much of human progress has depended. This is why the authoritarian socialist models degrade over time into stagnation and widely shared poverty.  The innate tendency of socialism to gather increasing control of all aspects of life was eloquently and compellingly exposed by the Austrian economist, Friedrich August von Hayek, in his classic work, “The Road to Serfdom”.  His was a cautionary study that he addressed in an introductory letter to “my fellow socialists”.

By now, we’ve accumulated an impressive number of test cases – Russian and Chinese communism and the German Nazism variant, among them. All are chilling, revealing experiments about true nature of the leveling endgame.  It turns out that the pursuit of equality uber alles has not worked out well in practice for the common people: Dissidents tend to be forcibly equalized or liquidated; party bosses replace the old elites; and life at the bottom begins to include more and more of the population.

So the leftists, starting with the British Fabian socialists, adopted a different strategy.  The socialist dream was to be implemented very gradually, piecemeal, so as not to set off premature opposition, and naively, to avoid the endgame.  But the leftist agenda inexorably leads to outcomes that are neither liberal nor progressive. Those labels were appropriated by the left because corrupting language is a very useful tool, helpful in neutralizing opposition, particularly among the category of well-meaning intellectuals (Lenin described them as “useful idiots”) until it is too late.  Comprehensive political power, once sufficiently consolidated, proves very hard to dislodge.

Here’s the dirty little secret of the modern era: In practice, the left no longer believes that equality is possible, but its leaders do understand that the notion of equal human dignity (a conservative or old-fashioned liberal notion) is actually dangerous to the power brokers because it means ordinary people fully share in decision-making power. I suspect that Marx realized this when he called for a dictatorship of the proletariat (i.e. of the less than equal) while failing to disclose that the proletariat would be subject to the dictatorship by the party bosses.  The wealthy liberal elites in the USA are softer versions of the hardnosed, prosperous party bosses in Russia and China, but they manifest the same levels of self-deception, hubris and hypocrisy.

In this context, modern conservatism, especially as enhanced by the Renaissance perspective I’m introducing in this series of essays, is the standard bearer of the older progressive and liberal legacy and the true wave of the future.

JBG

Copyright © 2012 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

As always, links, forwards and pull quotes with attribution, are welcome and encouraged.  For everything else, please contact the author via email law@jaygaskill.com>.

The coming political STRUGGLE OVER CORE VALUES

The coming political STRUGGLE OVER CORE VALUES

Analysis by

Jay B Gaskill

Also posted – http://jaygaskill.com/TheComingSTRUGGLE.htm

PART ONE IN THE “NEVER GIVE UP” SERIES

This may the single most important post-defeat analysis that conservatives, independents and disgruntled, recovering progressives could read in 2012:

Heed these three points above the rest:

(1) Conservatives and centrist Republicans have mistakenly bought into Marxism. I refer to the Marxist doctrine of economic determinism. This explains Governor Romney’s ill phrased but heartfelt 47% statement and even his post-election comments about Obama’s win and the various economic “gifts” that paved the way to the Democrat victory.  Here is the fallacy: If economic determinism were a law of nature, then the Islamist jihad would have collapsed long ago.  People are not inexorably motivated by economic advantage.  They actually are driven by values, a process that is occasionally distorted by temporary economic considerations. That is why corruption and bribes work.  But our values explain why so many of us are unwilling to sell off our children.

(2) Time honored values define a healthy society. No viable political or reform movement can flout them, marginalize them or attempt to redefine them away without a severe penalty.

(3) The conservatives of both parties still own the values issues.  For example, family values, public safety, and the right to earn and to retain the fruits of one’s earnings, all are strongly associated with the conservative brand, as in the older slogan, G-d, guns, family and country. These were the core values shared by Reagan Republicans and Reagan Democrats.

Even when all the integrity-failures by GOP politicians over the last 40 years are taken into account, one overriding political and cultural reality remains – and it is a thorn in the side of the progressive juggernaut:  The core traditions that contain our most cherished and durable values have been better tended to by the conservatives than by all of the modern and postmodern progressive liberals put together.

I’ve located two pull quotes that will help us understand the next major political conflict in our country.  They remind us that, while conservatives and their liberty-friendly allies need to adapt, they must only to do so without surrendering their standing as the keepers of our most cherished values.

Pull Quote One: From Values Voters Prevail Again by Christopher Caldwell {http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/values-voters-prevail-again_662229.html }:

This year Democrats’ arguments on values were heard. This was a “values” election as strident as the ones from culture wars past in which Christians marched against subsidies for Mapplethorpe, creationists vied for seats on Kansas school boards, and William Bennett demanded to know where the outrage was. What was different about this year’s culture war is that Republicans lost it. They ran a campaign without any of the abrasive stuff Frank disapproved of. Their presidential candidate lost himself in theories about what motivates “job creators.” Certain senatorial candidates did try to raise cultural issues. Those in Missouri and Indiana showed themselves out of practice.

The values were different, but structurally the outcome was the same one that we have seen decade after decade. Where two candidates argue over values, the public may prefer one to the other. But where only one candidate has values, he wins, whatever those values happen to be.

Pull Quote Two: From The Real Debate by Yuval Levin

{http://www.weeklystandard.com/print/articles/real-debate_653224.html?page=2 }

Simply put, to see our fundamental political divisions as a tug of war between the government and the individual is to accept the progressive premise that individuals and the state are all there is to society. The premise of conservatism has always been, on the contrary, that what matters most about society happens in the space between those two, and that creating, sustaining, and protecting that space is a prime purpose of government. The real debate forced upon us by the Obama years​—​the underlying disagreement to which the two parties are drawn despite themselves​—​is in fact about the nature of that intermediate space, and of the mediating institutions that occupy it: the family, civil society, and the private economy.

Progressives in America have always viewed those institutions with suspicion, seeing them as instruments of division, prejudice, and selfishness and seeking to empower the government to rationalize the life of our society by clearing away those vestiges of backwardness and putting in their place public programs and policies motivated by a single, cohesive understanding of the public interest.

Progressive social policy has sought to make the family less essential by providing for basic material needs, particularly for lower-income women with children. It has sought to make civil society less essential by assigning to the state many of the roles formerly played by religious congregations, civic associations, fraternal groups, and charities, especially in providing help to the poor. And progressive economic policy has sought to turn the private economy into an arm of government policy, consolidating key sectors and protecting from competition large corporations that are willing to act as public utilities or to advance policymakers’ priorities.

PROVISIONAL VALUES vs. CORE VALUES

GESTURES vs. ACTIONS

None of this analysis will amount much of anything without the intelligence to see distinctions, to separate the truly fundamental from the non-essential, and the wit to explain things without sounding like a soapbox preacher or a door-to-door solicitor.

Allow me to focus on just one category for renewed conservative thinking. Among the core values that conservatives have traditionally defended and honored,  is the family.

What, we may ask, might constitute a provisional family value?  Consider the formerly rigid prohibitions against divorce.  Families are damaged by divorce, to be sure, but a no-divorce firewall is not only unworkable, it is often unjust and inhumane. Marriages can die, but families live on. Focus on divorce is provisional.  Family is the bigger deal.

What would then constitute an attack on the family as a core value?  Just think of all the experiments in social engineering, whether well intentioned or otherwise, and the welfare programs that have had malign social consequences.

Any forthright discussion of the prime example has been censored by political correctness for two decades. Well-intentioned liberals almost destroyed the inner city black family with welfare rules that turned the subset unemployed fathers into detrimental surplus baggage in the family unit, because their presence disqualified the entire family for welfare.  As a result these fathers were forced by welfare mothers to drift away.  Several studies have described the lasting social damage to inner city black family integrity.  Sadly, most Republicans were asleep, or were cowed into a politically correct silence, during this period.

No excuses.  That kind of opportunity lost should never be repeated by conservatives.

Recall Yuri Levin’s earlier point about progressives. “Progressive social policy has sought to make the family less essential by providing for basic material needs, particularly for lower-income women with children. It has sought to make civil society less essential by assigning to the state many of the roles formerly played by religious congregations, civic associations, fraternal groups, and charities, especially in providing help to the poor.”

This is the progressive Achilles heel, or – if conservatives drop the ball – it is the beginning of catastrophic damage to family and community formation in the USA. The bottom line: Values matter. Families matter.

Now, consider as a thought experiment, the reexamination of the gay marriage issue through a different lens – by thinking of it as a. family formation issue.

A family can be defined as the traditional marriage/common parent-based human grouping, in which everyone is genetically and/or legally related. The common thread-that-binds is the classic family’s mutual obligations of loyalty, caring and support that typically survive the dissolution of common living arrangements. Breach of these obligations is condemned particularly as they adversely affect dependents, especially children.

The existence of dysfunctional, fractured families is not an alternative life style, but a failure in human relationships. As family ties break down, the social order is disturbed.

The core issue is the preservation and health of the family unit.  Some provisional issues concern the personal arrangements can make a sufficient claim to family stature and under what circumstances. Conservatives and old fashioned liberals can reasonably be expected to adapt to less conventional family arrangements but the bedrock features or loyalty and support need to be a constant.

Much of the tension over the gay marriage issue is fueled by the stereotypical images of rampant sexual infidelity among the gay male subgroup, and the accompanying health issues.  As “model gay marriages” are portrayed in the entertainment media, monogamous, caring couples raising adopted children, for example, popular acceptance of gay relationships has warmed.

In the values discussion, conservatives can and should insist on honoring the two-parent, mutual loyalty and support model, with obligations particularly to children that legally survive breakup. In this context modern conservatives can readily accept the legitimacy of same gender households with adopted children.

But the marriage question will necessarily be treated separately from the legal household-status issues, and conservatives and old fashioned liberals should be prepared to cheerfully agree-to-disagree.  Formal marriage is a sacramental matter for each religious institution to define, recognize or not, and each political jurisdiction to define in alignment with the popular will, honestly discerned.

My personal view is that same gender couples with adopted children need and therefore should have functionally the same legal benefits afforded to heterosexual married parents.  But the additional question – whether and under what circumstances the government should decree that the sanctified title, married, must be applied to all same-gender couples who want it – is so delicate that only local solutions will work. The man-woman marriage model is a very long standing tradition. The whole matter is too freighted with long-standing social and religious tradition for a mere government branch, agency or judicial officer to redefine marriage without the support of a clear popular consensus.  That consensus may or may not emerge everywhere or in any particular decade.  Conservatives and old fashioned liberals should apply a humane, but principled approach to this problem.  Same-gender centered families are entitled to all the legal protection afforded other families, leaving the formal marriage question to cultural evolution and local governments, acting in accordance with the popular consensus, not allowing unelected officials to force the issue.

A PARTING THOUGHT

Much recent post-defeat discussion among the GOP has centered on the so called “demographic problem”. No one seems to have considered this question: Among the various ethnic subgroups that populate large areas of the USA, which two have the strongest family traditions?

If you answered the Asians and the Hispanics, you’ve been paying attention.  That their votes have been temporarily captured by progressive liberals is more a result of conservative / GOP default than any natural “progressive” inclination within these subcultures. Conservatives and old fashioned liberals have more to offer these groups than welfare. Three key phrases come to mind, family values, upward mobility, and individual human dignity.  All are well embedded ingredients of the shared conservative tradition; and all three are threatened by the progressive bureaucracies and the shackles of political correctness.

A final observation: Values aren’t just about opinions; they are about real world connections and behaviors.  I invite you – as I did recently – to stop by the places where and when newly minted US citizens first emerge from their swearing-in ceremonies.  Pay close attention. Who is there to greet them?  Which groups continue to nurture connections and support relationships between political campaigns? Then rethink how you think conservative energies should be redirected over the coming years.  Your country’s future depends on it.

JBG

Copyright © 2012 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

As always, forwards, links and pull quotes with attribution are welcome and encouraged.  For everything else, please contact the author via email at outlawyer.gaskill@gmail.com.

WAKE UP AND SMELL THE JIHAD

WAKE UP, THE JIHAD IS HERE

A Reality Check

Also posted – http://jaygaskill.com/WakeUpAndSmellTheJihad.htm

By Jay B Gaskill

The hand-wringing American media is still blind to the jihad and its agenda.  Israel has her back to the wall and we worry that they might “start” something?

England slept while the Nazi’s took power in Europe.  Does anyone recall JFK’s first book, Why England Slept? Someday, the story will be finally written about how, why and to what ill effects, the slanted, anti-Israel media succeeded in anesthetizing American liberal opinion to the existential threat to Western civilization posed by the jihad, all in the service of cultural diversity and political correctness.

Hamas is a terrorist organization on a par with al Qaeda, except that it has seized and occupies territory – it controls the Gaza strip within easy rocket distance of Israel.  So much for the cuddly vision of two peaceful states living side by side.

Israel is a civilized Western nation on a par with England, except that is smaller.  The modern state of Israel is just as old as the United States of American was in 1830, but more vulnerable.

We can use the term modern advisedly where Israel is concerned.  With a highly educated population of 7.9 million, Israel is an intensely creative and productive country whose high tech sector enjoys a record of useful, world class technological innovation that, like the biblical David who fought goliath, far exceeds its size.

Israel is a stable democracy that honors free speech and religious practice.  Muslim Arabs serve in Israel’s parliament.  The converse is not true anywhere among its Islamic neighbors.

Israel has more scientists and engineers, proportional to its population, than any other country —145 for every 10,000 people.  Israel has raised more venture capital investment than any European country by a margin of 20 percent. Using innovations, measured as patents per capita, the top world rankings are [1] the United States, [2] Japan, [3] Switzerland, [4] Finland, and [5] Israel. Don’t even bother to look for Egypt, Pakistan or Iran.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, visited Israel recently and said: “I’ve arrived to Israel, the high-tech country…. … Israel’s high-tech industries are among the global leaders…. I’m energized and inspired by Israel’s innovative capabilities….”

Based on our shared values, a shared commitment to freedom and our own cherished history (President Harry Truman and the United Nations sanctioned the founding of the modern Israeli state in 1948), Israel is one of us.

Bear in mind that the Israeli left-liberal wing is just as firm on their country’s right and duty to defend the homeland against deadly attacks as the right-conservative wing is.  The men and women of the Israeli left are just as humanitarian and freethinking as any stateside liberal democrat, but they are hawks.

Israel has pursued a two state solution in good faith, while its neighbors have not – preferring a one state solution on the same terms Germany offered its Jews.  Reasonable people of good will cannot expect a developed, western democracy to commit suicide just to please uninformed liberal opinion in the USA.

The Arab Spring has turned out to be the “Springtime for Jihad”.  The bloody, anti-Semitic parallels with the Nazism of the 1930’s are chilling.  The entire region is being taken over by Muslim extremists in various disguises or none at all.  Egypt is now a covert jihad ally. Jordan may fall next.

Meantime, Anti-Zionist, drive-Israel-into-the-sea, ideologues have been shelling Israeli territory with Qassam rockets since 2001. Hamas has dramatically escalated the attacks, selected more sensitive targets and upgraded the rockets.  How much shelling would we put up with?

When we hear of “only” 10 Israeli men, women and children dying or getting seriously wounded in a single jihad attack, or only a few hundred thousand families huddling in bomb shelters, bear in mind the population difference.  Israel has 8 million to our 315 million. {For perspective, keep in mind that 6 million innocent people died in the holocaust.} To appreciate the scale of the threat to little Israel, losing 10 innocent civilians in an attack is like losing 315 Americans in a single missile strike near Washington DC.

Hamas has recklessly crossed the line by bombing in urban Israel.

Israel has no choice.

JBG

Copyright © 2012 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

As always, forwards pull quotes with attribution, and links are welcome and encouraged.  For everything else, please contact the author via email law@jaygaskill.com.

WHY PROGRESSIVE THINKING CAN GET YOU KILLED

Update – I note that Blue State California, once again, has upheld the death penalty.  Lives will be saved.  JBG

WHY PROGRESSIVE THINKING CAN GET YOU KILLED

Analysis by

Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

The possible repeal of the death penalty in California (on Tuesday’s ballot as proposition 34 ) and a proposed change in the three strikes law to weaken its application to thugs with two violent felonies who merely possess a deadly and prohibited fire arm (proposition 36), will be a public safety disaster, especially if both pass. These measures will cost innocent lives.  I am deadly serious. They will cost innocent lives.

First, allow me to describe a bizarre utopian political agenda on Planet Blue State.  It is currently being sold under the label progressivism. Now, traditional liberals and conservatives share a great many values, and both want a better world and sincerely think that the policies they favor will help bring that out.  Each side is ready, from time to time, to borrow good ideas from the other. But progressive liberals have wrested effective control of the Democratic Party, part of the Republican Party[1] and almost all of the conventional media from the old fashioned liberals and the common sense conservatives.

One perverse idea separates progressives from old fashioned liberals and the rest: The progressives actually believe that it is possible and appropriate to use the power of government to remodel basic human nature in order to make a better social order.  Some of them are even so naïve as to believe that human nature can be improved if the criminal justice system puts on a smiley face, i.e., “shows them a better way” by becoming an exemplar of “enlightened” and “merciful” justice.  This is just the latest and most politically acceptable iteration of the “use a gun, go to your room” progressive school of crime control policy.  It is a tell about the nature of the progressive movement generally.

The rest of us reject the idea of human nature remodeling, as dangerously naïve (as in the foregoing example) or unworkable, or truly dangerous because, as a practical matter, actually creating a better human nature is almost impossible to implement short of a Brave New World level of invasive totalitarian controls.  Traditional liberals and conservatives simply accept human nature as a given and seek to implement policies that will realistically optimize the human condition.  Rhetorical flourishes aside, neither group honestly pursues Utopia.

About the death penalty:

As a dedicated public criminal defense lawyer for the indigent, I devoted all my energy, talent and expertise to preventing the execution of my clients, much as a well-qualified surgeon would do the same to save the life of his or her patients, in spite of their sins. But I was gradually persuaded by the evidence that the death penalty, selectively and appropriately administered on those who are legally convicted of qualifying murders, has a lifesaving deterrent effect.

There once was a joint pilot study by the Brookings Institute (liberal think tank) and the American Enterprise Institute (conservative think tank) on the question of whether the death penalty saves more lives that it costs.  Yes, the death penalty deters far more murders, saving many more lives than are taken via post-conviction executions. The answer disappointed the progressives.  The study was quietly buried[2].

And, no, the progressives will not be able to remake human nature to eliminate murderous thugs from society.  And, yes, some of these thugs are always deterred by the prospect of ultimate justice for cold murder – the death penalty.  The elimination of the death penalty will allow more innocent lives to be taken by murderers than would otherwise the case.[3]

About three strikes laws:

California’s three strikes law has dramatically reduced the crime rate[4], and in concert with the death penalty, I am persuaded that it has actually saved lives. The repeal of the death penalty is on the California ballot. And so is a measure to weaken the three strikes law.

The new three strikes version on the CA ballot weakens that law by raising the bar for the third strike trigger, currently “any violent felony” (noting that strikes one and two are violent felonies in each version).  This means that fewer crooks will face the third strike penalty – life in prison after having done two prior violent felonies.  At present, a felon with two qualifying strikes is strongly inhibited from carrying a firearm because a convicted felon carrying a firearm is a third strike. That means two time violent felons cannot pack heat without risking a life sentence. But this would no longer be the case under the proposed weakening of the three strikes law.  Merely carrying a handgun, unlawful for any felon, would no longer constitute a qualifying third strike.  In my opinion, the new statutory language was either badly drafted in that respect or its authors actually intended to exclude “merely” carrying a firearm from the list of third strike offenses.[5]

Here is the unintended deadly consequence scenario:

Suppose these two “progressive” changes are enacted. Let’s consider the circumstances of a two strike felon who has just committed a single-witness violent felony, like a carjacking.  Without the death penalty, the carjacker who kills the only witness just gets life in prison, assuming he is caught and convicted. But if this same criminal is convicted only of a third strike (say, as a result of allowing the one witness to live), the punishment is still life in prison.  Hmmm.  As many thugs tend to think, the witness killing is not only a prudent precaution, it is a punishment freebee[6].

At the level of thug reasoning (something I know all too well)[7] the situation actually presents a legal invitation to kill the witness, because there is no death penalty. And because, if the three strikes law is weakened, there will be no strong disincentive not to carry a gun in the first instance.

Do you think that thugs can be deterred by lesser penalties and better role models?  Progressives actually tend to believe that human nature can be improved by state action.  Some of them seem to think that thugs can be induced to avoid committing murder, even when it is in their best short term interests, by simply by making a better society and “not descending to their level”. Progressives oppose enforcing rough justice when necessary to save innocent lives.  The criminal justice progressives are dead wrong about this.  The progressive agenda dangerously diverges from traditional liberalism, not to mention from common sense. Don’t bet your life on it.

JBG

Copyright © 2012 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law.  Forwards, links and pull quotes with attribution are encouraged.  For everything else, please contact the author via e-mail at law@jaygaskill.com.


[1] As exhibit A, there are a number of Republicans and otherwise rational players who have bought into the progressive agenda in the criminal justice area.  Undue leniency in the law and justice realm is dangerous in the very real sense that it costs innocent lives.

[2] You can read it in full at http://jaygaskill.com/AEIBrookingsDeathPenalty.pdf .

[3] Read the author’s article, Death Deterrence and Reform at http://jaygaskill.com/DeathDeterrenceReform.htm

[4] Partly because of its deterrent effect but mainly because it keeps repeat-the-crime-prone thugs locked up longer. Many home burglars, for example do 30 houses a week until they are apprehended.  Just cost out the benefits of keeping just one of them in the can five years longer.  I’ve actually seen a local spike in the crime rate correlated with the release of as few as three miscreants.

[5] A felony is a third strike if “the defendant used a firearm, was armed with a firearm or deadly weapon” … “during the commission of the current offense.” Trust my analysis – the offense of a felon carrying a firearm, by itself, while supporting a new felony conviction (PC 1220)will not trigger (pun intended) a third strike under the new law.

[6] There is a difference, almost trivial for the common thug.  While the murder would be punished by life without parole, the third strike would only get life with the possibility of parole after serving two decades or more.  In the real world, whether a life term is with or without parole is rarely, if ever, considered by the typical thug.

[7] See the author’s lecture at – http://jaygaskill.com/outlawyer/2012/10/15/a-journey-inside-the-criminal-mind/ .