Lazy Sunday LXXXVI: Questions, Part I

With the major networks calling the election for Joe Biden, a number of questions are swirling about, chiefly—“what comes next?”  photog and I have been hashing this question out in the comments of his posts “The Question Has Been Answered” and “Camaraderie is Key.”

I don’t think the election is over—not by a long shot—as recounts are still be done, and the voter fraud is so blatant, it can’t help but lead to legitimate legal challenges.  But even if these mysterious early-morning ballots for Biden are thrown out and President Trump is duly re-elected, the whole debacle suggests that conservatives need to wake up to the folly of depending upon purely electoral solutions to our problems.  Winning elections is just one facet of the larger culture wars in which we find ourselves.

To that end, I’m dedicating a few editions of Lazy Sunday to going back through old posts that, in their titles, pose some kind of question.  These posts range from the philosophical to the political to the cultural, but also cover some fun stuff (like whether or not Saturn is the creepiest planet).  I’ll look at three or four posts every Sunday, which should take several weeks to get through (so we might take a break with some Christmas Lazy Sundays in the middle).

That said, here’s our first round of Questions:

  • TBT: Ted Cruz – Conservative Hero, or Traitor to His Party?” (originally at the old TPP Blogspot Page) – Back during the 2016 RNC, Senator Ted Cruz refused to endorse candidate Trump explicitly in his convention speech, which earned him jeers and scorn.  At the time, there was still real tension between clear-cut Trumpians (I was moving in that direction, but was a Cruz man myself) and the rank-and-file Republicans, never mind the Never Trumpers.  Cruz went on to be one of President Trump’s staunchest supporters and defenders, and even seemed to be a contender for a SCOTUS position.  One thing that’s clear, though, is that Democrats will back their candidate to the hilt, even if they don’t like him, but Republicans will scatter at the least whiff of controversy around a candidate.  Hopefully Trump has changed that to some extent.
  • Fire Furloughed Feds?” – Remember the much-ballyhooed government shutdown in early 2019?  Looking back on it, it seems like a big missed opportunity for President Trump to clear the decks and do some swamp draining.
  • TBT: Transformers 2: Conservatives in Disguise?” (originally at the old TPP Blogspot Page) – I wrote this post way back in 2009, when I was a very different (and much, much portlier) man.  It’s amazing what eleven years of working and living will beat into you.  Anyway, the post looks at what I perceived to be some pro-military and pro-limited government messages in the second Transformers film, in which a meddling government bureaucrat retards the fruitful cooperation between American military personality and powerful transforming space robots, which ultimately helps the bad transforming space robots.  There’s a similar plot device in Ghostbusters, in which an EPA functionary releases a bunch of contained ghosts into Manhattan because he thinks the Ghosbusters’ containment unit is an environmental hazard.  Yeesh!

That’s it for this Sunday.  More questions—and, perhaps, answers?—to come.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Liberty and Safety

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Every liberty-loving American can recall Benjamin Franklin’s famous quip that “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”  It’s become also cliched to quote Franklin, but those words bear repeating, cliched or not, in The Age of The Virus.

The response to The Virus has been something akin to mass social and economic suicide, coupled with plenty of scorn for those not willing to go along with the kabuki theatre of our national hara-kiri.  It seems that the early attempts at “flattening the curve” have worked at preventing hospitals from turning away afflicted patients, so much so that our hero nurses and doctors are staging elaborate Internet dance routines (and yet will also be the first to urge us to take their advice to shut everything down forever).

What I’m beginning to realize is that people truly fear The Virus.  I don’t just mean they’re worried about getting it—I certainly don’t want to succumb to it—they’re worried about dying from it.  That’s not an unrealistic concern for the elderly or those with preexisting health conditions, but I think that fear runs deeper.

Consider:  the people most hysterically concerned with The Virus, in general, are deep progressives.  Progressivism, at bottom, is a materialist philosophy:  it can only conceive of existence in this realm.  That’s not to say it isn’t a religion; rather, it’s a religion without an afterlife.  That’s why progressives spend so much time attempting to create Heaven on Earth—to immanentize the eschaton, as William F. Buckley, Jr., warned us not to do.

It’s an ideology that constantly sacrifices the good to the perfect, because anything less than perfection isn’t paradise.  And because there is no life after this one, the fear of death takes on a terrifying new dimension.  Coupled with progressives’ lust for power and perpetual revolution, and you have half of the population ready to sacrifice everything—including liberty—to appease The Virus.

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Saturday Reading: SOTU and the Shutdown

A quick post today, as I have a jam-packed Saturday (after a jam-packed week, with another busy week on the horizon—it’s the Year of the Panther, baby!):  the President has reached an agreement to reopen the government for three weeks, it seems in order to get paychecks out to Homeland Security and federal law enforcement more than anything else, with the promise (threat?) to leverage another government shutdown in February to obtain border wall funding.

This compromise feels like a loss; I can only hope President Trump has some clever scheme up his sleeve.  From what I’ve been hearing (most recently on today’s episode of Radio Derb), the polls have shown Americans steadily blaming Trump for the shutdown.  Of course, this prompts me to ask, “do they see the shutdown as positive or negative?”

Certainly there are good federal employees who need paychecks, especially border patrol agents and federal law enforcement, but how many of you actually felt the effects of the shutdown?  At the very least, let’s hope the President took Ben Boychuck’s advice, as well as the advice of his anonymous senior official, to layoff permanently some of the dead weight in the federal bureaucracy.

As Boychuck writes in the Sacramento Bee:

Everyone knows the president cannot fire career government employees willy-nilly. Our civil service laws are ironclad. But a fairly obscure rule would allow the administration to lay off certain workers if they’ve been furloughed for at least 30 days. It’s called a “reduction in force” and it’s perfectly legal as long as the White House adheres to certain criteria, accounting for an employee’s tenure, total federal and military service, and work performance.

According to Boychuck, some 350,000 federal employees are eligible for “reduction in force” according to this obscure rule.  I don’t think anyone is advocating laying off all of those people—surely some 5-10% of them perform useful functions and/or aren’t totally subvervise to the President’s agenda—but I imagine we could do without at least some of them.  Surely even a token culling of the herd would send a powerful warning to feds:  you work for the American people, not your second home.

A part of me worries that our peacocking POTUS might be reopening the government simply to give the State of the Union Address in the House chambers.  That would be a bad move.  The Constitution doesn’t specify the form or venue for the SOTU address.  In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a verbal “address” at all!

Thomas Jefferson—timid about public speaking, and fearful of the kingly connotations—stopped giving a verbal address upon taking office in 1801.  Instead, his annual message was sent to Congress and read aloud by the Speaker or another member, then published throughout the States in newspapers.  Everyone could easily read it, and this approach made perfect sense in a pre-mass-communications age.

The Jefferson approach endured until the presidency of Democrat and progressive Woodrow Wilson.  Remember, Wilson hated our Constitution (PDF), and believed it was an archaic document that did not work adequately in the dynamic, industrial world of the early twentieth century.  He idolized the British Parliament, and sought to make the presidency more akin to the position of Prime Minister—the first among equal voting members in the legislature.  He believed that approach, called fusion of powers, was more efficient and democratic (“democratic” in those days being the Left’s preferred way to advance progressive ideology and policy, though in practice that meant electing representatives who would farm out their law-making powers to unelected technocrats in the federal bureaucracy).

Regardless, the die was cast, and with the advent of television, the State of the Union Address has become a ponderous, grandiose political event that doesn’t really tell us anything useful about the state of the nation, but just how awesome whoever the current president is.  This time, those boastful claims would be mostly true, but was it worth reopening the government to do it on time?

Boychuck, among others on the Right, were calling for the President to end the modern, monarchical spectacle of the State of the Union, returning it to Jeffersonian simplicity.  As much as I don’t want to deny the president his moment in the sun, that approach seems prudent, and more in accord with the republican nature of our Constitution.