Suckitude that Distorts Time and Space

Courtesy of Pajama’s Media the an excellent summary of the recent political life of the nation: (hat tip to Prestor Scott):

During the second term of the Bush presidency people just got fed up with Republicans. They were idiots, they were no good at the whole fiscal conservatism thing (which is sort of the whole point of them), we had these wars that seemed to be going nowhere, and the economy was beginning to fail. They sucked, and people were sick and tired of them.

Thus people turned to the Democrats. And Obama.

Let’s just say they also sucked.

AMERICANS: “So, the economy is pretty bad and there’s high employment. You think you can do something about that?”

DEMOCRATS AND OBAMA: “We can spend a trillion dollars we don’t have on pork and stuff.”

AMERICANS: “No … that’s not what we want. We’d really like you not to do that.”

DEMOCRATS: “You’re stupid. We’re doing it anyway.”

AMERICANS: “That’s not going to help us get jobs!”

DEMOCRATS: “Sure it will; millions of them … though they may be invisible. You’ll have to trust us they exist. And guess what else we’ll do: We’ll create a giant new government program to take over health care.”

AMERICANS: “That has nothing to do with jobs!”

DEMOCRATS: “We don’t care about that anymore. We really want a giant new health care program. We’re sure you’ll love it.”

AMERICANS: “Don’t pass that bill. You hear me? Absolutely do not pass that bill.”

DEMOCRATS: “Believe me; you’ll love it. It has … well, I don’t know what exactly is in the bill, but we’re sure it’s great.”

AMERICANS: “Listen to me: DO. NOT. PASS. THAT. BILL.”

DEMOCRATS: “You’re not the boss of me! We’re doing it anyway!”

AMERICANS: “Look what you did! Now the economy is way worse, we’re even deeper in debt, and we have a bunch of new laws we don’t want!”

DEMOCRATS: “You’re racist.”

AMERICANS: “Wha … How is that racist?”

DEMOCRATS: “Now you’re getting violent! Stop being violent and racist, you ignorant hillbillies! And remember to vote Democrat in November.”

So the Democrats sucked. But not just plain old, usual politician sucked, but epic levels of suck where it’s hard to find an analogue in human history that conveys the same level of suckitude. It was sheer incompetence plus arrogance — and those things do not complement each other well. We’re talking sucking that distorts time and space like a black hole.

My comment: If only England had remained sane, we Whigs could have simply apologized, admitted the democratic experiment had failed, and agreed once more to swear fealty to the King. But England is in straits more dire than ours. Perhaps we can appeal to the Emperor in Rome to repeal the Rescript of Honorius, and ask the legions posted to Britain to protect the British colonies, including ours, beneath the fierce Eagles of Rome. Of course, the Imperium is rather a bit of a corrupt failure itself, so maybe we can swear fealty to Cato of Utica, and he will overthrow Caesar and his family, and restore power to the Senate, Republic and People of Rome. Except, come to think of it, that form of government encouraged widespread luxury and corruption among the Senatorial and Patrician families. Hmm. What about recalling Tarquin the Proud, and restoring the older monarchy? Well, no, that whole rape of Lucretia thing pretty much showed what the problem is with unchecked power in the hands of the monarch. Hmm. Perhaps an older generation of monarchs would serve us: we could call back Romulus and Remus, who were kindly and wise leaders, except for that whole embarrassing brother-killing-brother thing, and throwing the corpse into a plowed furrow. We could instead restore Aeneas, or perhaps Priam of Troy, or Saturn who ruled in a Golden Age. Saturn ate his infant children, and so he was in favor of a Titan’s Right to Choose. He’d fit right in to the modern political scheme!

So, no the Experiment in Self-Government and Limited Government, despite what false prophets cry, is not an experiment that fails or that can ever fail, merely because it is the only system of government that has a built in corrective mechanism. The other theories of government that have been tried have failed, because they contain all the same flaws as this one, plus they cannot be overthrown except by arms. Even in failure, democratic republics are peaceful.

No other revolution is needed except for the revolution that takes place every election cycle in the ballot box. Man is fallen, and no government by fallen man and for fallen man will ever be anything to admire: but it can always be improved, usually by a return to first principles, usually by taking seriously the ideals on which the Experiment in Self-Government and Limited Government is based.

So get out and vote. We have a black hole of suckitude to undo.

23 Comments

  1. Comment by Mary:

    The basic problem is that Obama thought being elected was sufficient evidence that we liked him and all his plans.

  2. Comment by Baron Korf:

    “Even in failure, democratic republics are peaceful.”

    With respect, I must disagree. The American Civil War, or whatever the historians call it now, is evidence to the contrary. The states came to an impasse and the solution that was decided upon was a bloody war.

    If we were to appeal to the Roman Emperor, that would be Karl Thomas Robert Maria Franziskus Georg Bahnam Habsburg, the Pretender. If he is anything like his grandfather, Bl Karl I, I’d support him. ;)

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Compare the American Civil War, which took place fourscore and seven years after the founding, with any other 87 year period in the history of the English or Roman Empires was at peace with itself, and suffered neither a civil war, rebellion, insurrection, coup or change in dynasty?

      One piece of evidence to the contrary is an exception, not evidence that the general rule is wrong.

      • Comment by Baron Korf:

        There is also the Whiskey Rebellion and Dorr’s Rebellion in that time, though those were minor. I would also contend that the claim of peace over 87 (72 really, since the Constitution) years is outside the scope of my challenge. You referred to peace when the government fails. Not all rebellions are about a failure in government. Some are about greed and lust for power, and such rebellions are better put to the sword than put to a vote.

        Have your read Otto von Habsburg’s essay on Republicanism vs Monarchy? You might enjoy it. It is a very fair rendering of both sides from a man who, in my opinion, has every worldly right to be bitter and one-sided.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          I accept what you say, but I point out the difference between a system where the ONLY way to change the administration of the commonwealth is bloodshed, and a system where the administration of the commonwealth CAN be changed peacefully.

          If I say, “The weather in England is rainy and foggy, yet the weather in Spain is sunny,” it does not contradict me to point out a day here or there where it does not rain in England, or to find a rare day when Madrid is befogged. You are answering me as if I were talking in logical universals, when I am speaking in plain English. If I say “Democracy disarms one of the frequent and terrible causes of war, which is that when the government fails it can only be repaired by mutiny, rebellion or coup” it is an interesting point, perhaps that there are other causes of war and insurrection aside from failure the government, but it is logically irrelevant, a comment on a different topic.

          I have not had the pleasure of reading Otto von Habsburg’s essay on Republicanism vs Monarchy, nor have I ever heard of it. Is there an online copy I could read?

          • Comment by Baron Korf:

            “a system where the ONLY way to change the administration of the commonwealth is bloodshed”

            To be precise, it would be “death” not “bloodshed”. A stroke can remove a bad king. A good king can have a bad son and vice versa. But now I’m just picking nits.

            The original site I had for the essay seems to be down, but I did find another. http://www.freedominion.ca/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=101620&sid=bf70b1d3a7a2ca7c9ab89b3126173be8

            He is much smarter than I am, and better at making his points. His term of Republicanism is referring to the idea of being governed by a group of representatives, not the platform of the GOP. I figure you already know that, but I’ve had to explain to people that our political labels and buzzwords don’t mean the same thing the world over. So I’m just covering my bases.

            • Comment by John C Wright:

              (quoting me) “a system where the ONLY way to change the administration of the commonwealth is bloodshed” (you reply) To be precise, it would be “death” not “bloodshed”. A stroke can remove a bad king. A good king can have a bad son and vice versa. But now I’m just picking nits.

              My dear sir, I will forgive your quibbling about technicalities if you will forgive mine in my answer: A bad king having a stroke or a good king having a bad son is not “changing the administration” — unless you want to speak of God, or Fate, or History as an active person doing the act of making the change.

              My statement stands as written: the only way to change the administration — that is, the only way for a person or a group of persons to change the administration — is by bloodshed. Standing by idly while the administration passes through lawful succession via primogeniture does not change the government. I do agree that administrations in monarchies and tyrannies can be changed without bloodshed by acts of God or by the mortality of men.

              I am sure someone can find in history somewhere a case where there was a peaceful abdication from one dynasty to another, or where some city or principality sued a royal house in a neighboring land to assume kingship over them and rule and reign, but the case are so rare that each one has the aura of a prodigy.

    • Comment by Dan Berger:

      If I may… the American Civil War grew out of a refusal to compromise. I think Shelby Foote nailed it: “Americans think they’re uncompromising, but really their genius is compromise.” Many of the best things about this country have grown from our willingness to not insist on having it all our own way.

      Because of what seems a current refusal on the part of anyone to compromise, and certain electoral defeat for almost any elected official who announces his willingness to do so even occasionally, I fear for my country. At least a little; I’m too much of an optimist to really think we’re headed for another civil war.

  3. Comment by The Deuce:

    The other theories of government that have been tried have failed, because they contain all the same flaws as this one, plus they cannot be overthrown except by arms. Even in failure, democratic republics are peaceful.

    I’d like to think that’s true, but I suspect that the courts and the bureaucracy are so out of control, so powerful, and so entrenched, and that we are so deeply in debt to nations like China, that it’s genuinely impossible to fix our problems at the ballot box anymore. And in addition to that, many of our problems are so complicated and multi-faceted that it’s beyond the ability of the people, as well as the politicians, to even understand them, much less attempt to fix them (assuming the politicians even wanted to).

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      If it were genuinely impossible to fix our problems at the ballot box (assuming we are talking about the basic problem of how to establish order, insure domestic tranquility, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity) then the time is come to rise up in armed rebellion and revolt. I hardly think we are at that point yet.

      Problems too complicated for people or politicians to understand and solve cannot be solved by kings or emperors or dictators or bureaucrats or panels of experts or any other form of government whatsoever. The problem is liberty and order: the solution is simple enough that a literate people grounded in Christian thinking and respectful of Anglo-American common law can grasp it. It is enough if everyone in America respects rather than despises the Constitution, even if the nuances of how the Electoral College operates is beyond the grasp of those indoctrinating in Goodthink in what passes for education in the institutions for some reason still called “schools” these days.

      • Comment by lectorpoemarum:

        While I agree with the general point (that the problem-of-complexity-of-problems isn’t an argument against democratic-republican government), I do think this complexity issue is a real thing and one that our *precise current system* isn’t good at dealing with – and is in fact *worse* at dealing with than it was a few decades ago. The problem is that the vast increase of knowledge (there is much more available knowledge about any one subject) means that there are in fact issues (mostly scientific ones) that it takes years of study to fully understand — so the average Congressman, or the average member of the public, cannot reasonably decide (say) between competing claims about the environment. Combined with the ‘soundbite culture’ (and the media being *unbelievably bad* at transmitting accurate information about science, economics and the like), and the tendency to apply political slants to *everything*, we’re trying to make decisions with biased and insufficient information.

        I think the solution will have to be a) better education — teaching people *how to think* (not just *what* to think); and

        b) reducing the direct degree of Congressional and presidential control over the agencies (NASA, EPA, Department of the Interior etc.) that deal with genuinely-complex matters. (For the purpose of keeping such agencies on their actual purposes rather than media-driven whims; this would prevent bits like the NASA-to-build-relations-with-the-Middle-East nonsense a few months back).

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          “I think the solution will have to be a) better education; and b) reducing the direct degree of Congressional and presidential control over the agencies.”

          I have three reservations about your comment: first, you are more optimistic than I am, since you think this once-great nation can be saved or even salvaged absent an act of Divine Intervention from On High.

          I think there is no human way, once a nation is addicted to bread and circuses, sex and bloodshed, and the multitudes voting themselves largess out of the public coffers, for the people to return to thrift, chastity, honor, virtue, self-sacrifice, independent-mindedness, stubbornness, grit, manhood.

          We are in the spiritual and psychological condition of punishing anyone who points out the name and nature of Islamic terror-mongers seeking to destroy us, where our laws, and not merely a few crackpots seeking to destroy us, deny that voters should produce proof of citizenship.

          The images we see on television, on the pornonet, in the theaters are far bloodier and far more lascivious than anything the Romans in the deepest trough of their decay saw when visiting the Gladiatorial games, or watching stage plays where slavegirls were forced to couple for the amusement of patrons. And even the Romans did not have it in their laps, streaming from nearly every computer at work and home; the Romans did not have organized advocacy groups aflame with the fire of self-righteousness promoting the dissolution of marriage and the apotheosis of sodomy and other sexual neuroses; and the Romans certainly did not expose infants to the elements in anything approaching the size and volume of industrial infanticide that we have here.

          Second, the only way to teach a student how to think is to teach the classics, pagan and Christian, that shaped the West. That is politically impossible these days, since half the population and all the teaching establishment (with two exceptions) are firmly devoted to abolishing Christianity and the Classical texts and thought from the schools, indeed, to banish also the alleged unfairness of competitive examination, or the alleged tyranny of objective truth. The evil is endemic and systematic and deliberate and diabolical: extermination of the entire teaching establishment, burning down all the schools, and starting against from scratch with children instructed at home, and taught reading, writing, and arithmetic by privately-funded or township-funded one room school houses run by schoolmarms would not solve the problem, because even if we did that, the parents of the children would not allow the schoolmarm to discipline the child or teach the child right and wrong. The idea that you can teach a child without educating the child — and I mean educating the child to know and love and be loyal to his the heritage of his forefathers, educating moral strictures — is a false idea.

          Third, the main problem in the country today is that these unelected Bureaucracies are utterly loyal to the Democratic Party National Committee, starting with the State Department. Even departments allegedly conservative in outlook, such as the Pentagon, are consumed with political correctness. The Administration and the Congress have far too little control over these rogue agencies, not one of which is answerable to the people. The idea that anything would be done by making these unelected micro-Napoleons even LESS answerable to our elected representatives is risible, even if it were possible.

          Allow me to quote from Mark Steyn on this last point:

          From The Ventura County Star:

          Ty Brann likes the neighborly feel of his local hardware store. The fourth-generation Ventura County resident and small business owner has been going to the B & B Do it Center on Mobile Avenue in Camarillo for many years. His company, Kastle Kare, does pest control, landscaping and plant care, and he’s a B & B regular.

          So when he learned the county had told B & B it could no longer put out its usual box of doughnuts and coffee pot for the morning customers, Brann was taken aback.

          Dunno why. He lives in California. He surely knows by now everything you enjoy is either illegal or regulated up the wazoo. The Collins family had been putting a coffee pot on the counter for 15 years, as the previous owners of the store had done, too, and yea, back through all the generations. But in California that’s an illegal act. The permit mullahs told Randy Collins that he needed to install stainless steel sinks with hot and cold water and a prep kitchen to handle the doughnuts. “What some establishments do is hire a mobile food preparation services or in some cases a coffee service,” explained Elizabeth Huff, “Manager of Community Services” (yeah, right). “Those establishments have permits and can operate in front of or even inside of the stores.”

          Even inside? Gee, that’s big of you. “Those establishments have permits”? In California, what doesn’t? Commissar Huff added that there are a range of permits of varying costs. No doubt a plain instant coffee permit would be relatively simple, but if you wished to offer a decaf caramel macchiato with complimentary biscotti additional licenses may be required.

          “We’re certainly working with the health department,” said Mr Collins. “We want to be in compliance with the law.”

          Why?

          When the law says that it’s illegal for a storekeeper to offer his customer a cup of coffee, you should be proud to be in non-compliance. What the hell did you guys bother holding a revolution for? George III didn’t care what complimentary liquid refreshments a village blacksmith shared with his clientele. Say what you like about the Boston Tea Party, but nobody attempted to prosecute them for unlicensed handling of beverage items in a public place.

          This is the reality of small business in America today. You don’t make the rules, you don’t vote for people who make the rules. But you have to work harder, pay more taxes, buy more permits, fill in more paperwork, contribute to the growth of an ever less favorable business environment and prostrate yourself before the Commissar of Community Services – all for the privilege of taking home less and less money.

          • Comment by John C Wright:

            While we are at it, another quote from Steyn:

            An America comprised of therapeutic statists, regulatory enforcers, multigenerational dependents, identity-group rent-seekers, undocumented laborers, stimulus grantwriting liaison coordinators, six-figure community organizers, millionaire diversity-outreach consultants, billionaire carbon-offset traders, a diversionary-leisure “knowledge sector”, John Edwards’ anti-poverty consultancy, John Kerry’s vintner, and Al Gore’s holistic masseuse will still offer many opportunities, but not for that outmoded American archetype, the self-reliant citizen seeking to nourish his family through the fruits of his labor.

            • Comment by Jacob:

              “That is politically impossible these days, since half the population and all the teaching establishment (with two exceptions) are firmly devoted to abolishing Christianity and the Classical texts and thought from the schools, indeed, to banish also the alleged unfairness of competitive examination, or the alleged tyranny of objective truth.”

              It is odd this comment came up. I am not even through a semester yet of college, and I am already tired of the mess (as a recent post to my lj illustrates). To use some terms from my Economics class, the marginal benefit is less than the marginal cost. To imagine 3-4 years of more of the same (and from my understanding it only gets worse), is too much. This is not to belittle either of my teachers (3 classes this semester, with one of them teaching 2 of the classes), but to say that the textbook/lecture format has proved frustrating for me. How does Economics relate to the rest of the Western tradition? This is not even to ask the question if a textbook can compare to a reading of Adam Smith. Why isn’t Aristotle mentioned in my philosophy textbook beyond a short article on ethics? As it stands right now, this current semester reminds me too much of high school, which left my mind sleeping.

              I wish to go to college, because I value learning. A computer science degree might help me get my first couple of jobs after graduation…but a good liberal arts degree lasts a lifetime. Strangely enough, I was perfectly content to go to a state school a couple months ago. However, seldom is my heart and head in so complete agreement. In the coming months, I plan on submitting my application to St. John’s, for good or for ill (it does leave a good number of things uncertain). The marginal benefit exceeds the marginal cost for me.

            • Comment by Tom Simon:

              I have three reservations about your comment: first, you are more optimistic than I am, since you think this once-great nation can be saved or even salvaged absent an act of Divine Intervention from On High.
              I think there is no human way, once a nation is addicted to bread and circuses, sex and bloodshed, and the multitudes voting themselves largess out of the public coffers, for the people to return to thrift, chastity, honor, virtue, self-sacrifice, independent-mindedness, stubbornness, grit, manhood.

              The state of your Republic at present reminds me of the famous words of Livy about ‘these days, in which we can bear neither our diseases nor their remedies’. Yet even as he wrote, an act of Divine Intervention from On High was preparing, compared with which the mere reform of your politics and of your polity would be merely nothing; a miracle on the scale of St. Anthony revealing the whereabouts of Sister Marguerite’s lost thimble.

              I confess that I am even more wildly optimistic than Lectorpoemarum, for while I agree with you that Divine intervention will be needed, I also believe that it will be granted. The night may yet be long and painful, but the Day will surely come.

          • Comment by lectorpoemarum:

            Taking your points in order:

            (First) Well, I perhaps meant “the solution would have to be” rather than “will have to be” since, yes, it may be too late.

            I do not yet think it is definitely so, however; the United States is undergoing a demographic shift – and it seems to me that if we become more like the (still vibrant if troubled) Latin America and less like the (decadent) Northern Europe, there is hope. I know that Latin America has its own problems, but I retain hope that the sound fundamental structure of American democracy will prevent such from happening here; their problems are largely institutional and structural, so I think there is yet hope for the combination to give both societies a new lease on life.

            (Second) The classics and education. As someone who graduated from the public education system only a few years back: my experience was that it was not quite as bad as all that, though bad enough (and the fact that I live in a strongly conservative state may be a factor) — we certainly had competitive examinations (and even scholarships determined thereby); and it was in public school that I learned just how much the federal government’s powers have expanded since early America. I would say most of the problems are rather due to standardized curricula that militate against real understanding, though anti-objectivity ideologies may be a problem in more liberal states. I did have some exposure to the classics, though through electives — but even the existence of the option is (in my opinion) heartening.

            (Third) I think we are arguing a bit at cross-purposes; I was really only addressing science-driven agencies (NASA, EPA…) rather than business or social ones, and I agree with what (I think) you are saying (that bureaucracies expand and impose more and more regulations), but I don’t think it is necessarily contradictory to what I was saying (in our modern technological society, some problems are too complex to be correctly addressed by people who haven’t spent years learning the subject, so *direct*, decision-level oversight by untrained-in-the-subject congressmen or presidents is problematic). Obviously there needs to be wider-scale oversight; but there’s a level of oversight at which the decisions become politically-driven to the harm of the organization’s actual constituted purpose — I think NASA is well past that point.

            • Comment by Joshua_D:

              People of all colors suffer from the same flaw – sin. There is no reason to assume or hope that Latin folks will turn around the the ship that is the USA any sooner than Caucasian folks. Prayer for Divine intervention is our only hope.

  4. Comment by Mike:

    “So, no the Experiment in Self-Government and Limited Government, despite what false prophets cry, is not an experiment that fails or that can ever fail, merely because it is the only system of government that has a built in corrective mechanism. The other theories of government that have been tried have failed, because they contain all the same flaws as this one, plus they cannot be overthrown except by arms. Even in failure, democratic republics are peaceful.”

    This paragraph is probably the most brilliant argument for democracy, I’ve ever read (and yes, I realize that we live in a democratic republic). I have to admit surprise at it. Not surprise at its brilliance, merely surprise because I had you figured for a closet monarchist, what with the space princess obsession.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      “I have to admit surprise at it. Not surprise at its brilliance, merely surprise because I had you figured for a closet monarchist, what with the space princess obsession.”

      To be frank, I would rather live under a Christian monarch like Queen Elizabeth, whose people were devoted to the idea of living with a certain minimum degree of decency, than under a post-Christian democracy. Certain types of monarchic governments, if hedged about with constitutional restrictions, can achieve the same results as a properly organized constitutionally limited democratic republic. The problem is that the only way to change monarchs in a monarchy is bloodshed.

      I hope you noticed as least a slight hint of ironic drollery in my advocacy of Space Princesses in Literature, when I say thinks like, for example, “Never reveal to the reader that the Space Princess might actually be, you know, a monarchist, and never show her ordering her space marines to drub uppity peasants with the butts of their space rifles.”

  5. Comment by DmL:

    Or, maybe we could go back to when families just ruled their own families. That way, when the *riarch gets uppity he/she only affects his/her own family (or they just walk).

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