Saturday, June 26, 2010

With Much Thought and Reflection

Joseph P. Overton was a genius. His untimely death at age 43 in a light aircraft accident left the Mackinac Center and the whole world a little emptier for the tragedy.

Okay. I'm done with the gushing. The truth is, as much as I've discussed The Overton Window, I've been doing even more thinking about it lately. I've come to the conclusion that every major policy shift in my lifetime, and for quite some time beyond, can be attributed to either a movement of the window, or a misunderstanding of what the window means. To that end, I would like to share with you readers a few truisms that will hopefully enlighten you and stimulate some critical thought.

Democrats attempt to move the window towards less freedom.

I never really understood Glenn Beck's distaste for Woodrow Wilson until I understood what Wilson had in common with virtually every other 20th century "progressive liberal." It is this simple fact that makes the modern democratic party so dangerous, and it also explains Rahm Emanuel's "never let a crisis go to waste" mentality. The gulf oil spill represents an important watershed moment for all of America, since our response to Obama's responses will have a lasting cultural impact that will live for decades beyond even a two-term Obama presidency.

Republicans don't want to move the window towards less freedom, but they are ill-equipped to stop it and ignorant of how to get it to move the other way.

Those few conservative-sounding and successful Republicans today understand this truism, though virtually all of the Republican establishment is in gross denial of it. The relationship between cultural acceptance and policy is something that Ronald Reagan was keenly aware of; unfortunately, his attitude towards the greater masses of people seems now like an anomaly in 20th century Republican politics. While I don't believe that the Republican party is irreversibly corrupt, I do believe that it's badly broken, and this conveniently explains why.

In the last fifteen years, both parties have not been equally guilty of corruption, but they have been equally blind to the realities of the Overton Window.

Democrats could take better advice from me than what they get from paid political advisers. There is truly nothing new under the sun, and the Democrats are actually making the same mistake the Republicans made in 1994: they assume that their electoral victory meant that the window moved in their favored direction. For the Republicans, it was toward the "more freedom" side. For the Democrats, it was toward the "more government" side. Regrettably for the future of our republic, both parties were equally wrong.

In the congressional campaign of 2010, our goal as freedom-loving conservatives should move beyond the election of like-minded individuals. If those individuals of like-mind ascend to the halls of Congress to find that the Overton Window is outside their own comfort zones, they will vote the policy in the window every single time. This is not a problem of poor ethics or corruption (although it can certainly lead there), but rather a problem of perception -- ours as well as the politicians'. First we kick out the bums who seem hellbent on ignoring the window altogether, then we work on changing cultural norms. Only then will our republic be on the right track, away from serfdom and tyranny.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Welcome to Dearbornistan

 I'm pretty sure this is old news, from round-about the 18th or 19th of June, but I found this post yesterday at The Power Line Blog about cops literally enforcing sharia law in Dearborn, Michigan.

Under Sharia law, it is forbidden to proselytize to Muslims, and no Muslim can leave the faith. Dearborn, Michigan, is home to a substantial Muslim population, and there is strong evidence that local authorities now enforce sharia in preference to the Constitution of the United States. 

I think it's worth noting an important distinction here: The cops that were aiding in this Dearborn debacle were derelict in their duty to the United States Constitution. Sharia and the US Constitution are absolutely mutually exclusive of one another.

Beyond the obvious though, I think this raises some pretty interesting philosophical questions. Allahpundit over at raises some questions of his own about the cops' behavior, even though he is an avowed atheist, himself. He has every right to do so, and I welcome his aid in the cause of freedom.

But why "freedom?" For someone to turn around and say "because it's in the Constitution" seems as lame to me as someone turning around and saying, "because God said so" to an atheist. I believe that as conservatives, we are at our best when we are able to defend our positions. Unfortunately, I am not seeing as much of an effort to that end as I would like to see.

Freedom is not a universal human trait. The presence of human freedom throughout history is relatively rare. It is the yearning for freedom that never changes, as surely as the deep-seated needs for food, sleep, religion, and sex (not necessarily in that order of importance). One doesn't need to believe in the Judeo-Christian God to believe that freedom is a moral imperative.

"Freedom" isn't just another platitude. It's even more than an attitude. It is a way of life. If someone asked you why freedom is important to you, what would you tell them?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What's Wrong With This Picture?


Now that The London Times is going to a pay-for-content model, Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation fame is using some creative methods to rope people in to shelling out, most of which include some form of freebies.

Murdoch’s News Corp., which this week offered to buy the rest of U.K. pay-TV operator British Sky Broadcasting Plc for 7.8 billion pounds ($11.5 billion), is pushing a business model with clients paying for content as a driver of revenue growth. He’s using that same strategy at the Times and the Sunday Times. The Times is now offering paying subscribers access to free events and discounted products through its ‘Times+’ service in an effort to build customer loyalty.

I'm certainly no business wonk, but it seems to me that if you have to entice people to pay for something by giving them something else of even more value, your business model is a bit suspect.  Some people might be willing to hold on to your service after spending their freebies, but how long could your revenue remain outpacing your costs?

Irrespective of the practical issues involved, I agree with Rupert Murdoch in principle.  He has every right to change for the content that he and his investors have put their hard-earmed money on the line for.  The problem is that the Internet is the world's most perfectly realized exchange for unfettered information.  Anyone who has tried to research through any of a number of unreliable reference sites can attest to that.  Just because Rupert Murdoch sees paid content in his future, doesn't necessarily mean that's the future of all content everywhere.

Perfectly realized unfettered information exchange means perfectly realized competition.  The competition isn't just between papers of like size and circulation anymore.  I hope for Rupert Murdoch's sake, he's taken all of these factors into account.  Now that the internet is almost as pervasive as the television set, it may be even more influential -- and no one man will be able to dominate the medium. Viva la web!

Life Vests?!

The perfect is the enemy of the good. Government is the enemy of anything better than mediocre.

I mean, come on! Oil skimming ships with veteran professional crews were stopped so they could be checked for life vests! I believe that BP has done everything they could do under some very difficult circumstances which were necessitated by hundreds of *reams* of government regulations, but every time I see a story like this, I dig in the conservative trenches a little bit deeper.

I'm more than happy to concede that Obama might have personally had little or nothing to do with stopping those ships, but that doesn't make me feel any better about government's role in all this.  We're talking about layer-upon-layer of hellaciously mind-numbing bureaucracy, barely able to handle the day-to-day running of the country -- let alone a major disaster.

Good luck, Louisiana.  Good luck, Governor Jindal.  You'll all need it down there.

H/T to and ABC News.

A Door Closes, a Window Opens

In the interest of fairness, I have to say I haven't read Glenn Beck's novel yet, but it has awakened a new sense of urgency in my desire to help change our society.

"The Overton Window" is a model that describes how policy changes as acceptable levels of freedom change. For any public policy issue, there is a range of acceptability in the spectrum from total tyranny to absolute anarchy, and politicians are generally hesitant to push policy outside of that range (the "window") -- until now.

Obama's approval numbers now are as bad as they've ever been, and I've come to realize that at the very core of his hubris, he may believe that he is much more capable of moving the window than he is. Because of this, I would strongly caution my fellow conservatives to exercise restraint in calling for more government intervention in the gulf oil spill.

People seem most amenable to moving the Overton Window in times of national trauma. World War I brought us the income tax and the Federal Reserve, both of dubious constitutionality. The Great Depression, worsened as it was by government malfeasance, brought the New Deal and all manners of hellish bureaucracy that we are still dealing with today.

Every effective political philosopher has had the patience to move the window. Obama may not be very patient, but that doesn't mean the window won't move. The trend over the last 100+ years has been towards less freedom rather than more, but it's not too late to save ourselves -- yet. Let's move the window back.

A special thanks to the late Joseph Overton and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BOOM! Gotcha!

Is the Obama administration doing everything in its power to help the people of the gulf coast in their hour of oily need?

Clearly not.

I've gone from believing that this wasn't a personal failing of Barack Hussein Soetero-Obama to desperately wanting to believe that it wasn't a personal failing on his part. If things continue like this, my opinion of him is going to get incrementally worse, and that's saying a lot.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In Other News...

Looks like "Touchdown Jesus" is no more.  The Big Butter Messiah was struck by lightning last night and burst into flames.  And from the sound of things, the Statue of the Christ (sorry Mel Gibson) was beyond help by the time anyone was able to get there. Looks like we know which side of the graven-images debate God comes down on.

In memory of the giant cream-colored curiosity, a song from Mr. Heywood Banks:

The Nature of Celebrity

It's always sounded to me like Al Gore and Laurie David were made for each other, but if Laurie David denies it, it must not have happened.

Kidding aside, although this might not hold up in a court of law, Laurie's denial is the strongest evidence to me that it's true?  Anyone else care to weigh in?

Monday, June 14, 2010

I'm not British...

...and even I find this offensive.

From the UK Mail Online via Drudge, we find that Barack Obama has compared the gulf oil spill to 9/11, and the Brits aren't very happy with him for it.

  • 9/11 was a deliberate attack on United States soil by a band of terrorist madmen. The gulf spill was an accident, caused at-worst by gross negligence.
  •  9/11 saw almost 3000 of our countrymen murdered in that deliberate attack.  The gulf spill claimed 11 lives, and likely will claim no more than that (at least not directly).
  • 9/11 and the response was presided over by someone seen as a hero in the immediate aftermath, if not exactly in the following years.  The gulf spill came on the heels of a massively unpopular health care bill amid slipping approval ratings for all three branches of American government.
I think this was a not-so-subtle attempt by Obama to distance himself from the "Obama's Katrina" meme.  If that's the case, he failed miserably in my eyes.

I think most Americans on either side of the aisle are missing the true significance of the government's response to the gulf spill; it's not Obama's personal failing.  It's the people expecting the government to do things that it was never equipped to do.  There will be a role for the federal government in mediating litigation between BP and aggrieved citizens, most likely through the courts.  Unfortunately for him, Obama can't be anymore of a savior to Louisiana now than George W. Bush was five years ago.  It's not Obama's job, and the sooner the rest of America learns that, the better off we'll all be.