11-23-16 Hodgepodge

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Third Term, Anyone?

Northrup Buechner warns us, in the piece linked below, that, "If the President persists in rejecting all authority other than his own, the denouement would depend on the side taken by the Armed Forces." Buechner is right that, no matter what happened in such a case, it would be a serious cultural blow and a terrible precedent. Having said that, perhaps the author of an Investors Business Daily article wondering why the President has been firing so many military officers (including nine senior generals over the past year) isn't alarmed enough.

Weekend Reading

"His epitaph should be: Here lies a man, who, at the dawn of the industrial age, attempted to prove muscles superior to the mind, and paid with life." -- Harry Binswanger, in "John Henry, a Steel-Drivin' Man--and a Luddite" at Forbes

"Mr. Obama is moving our government away from its traditional system of checks and balances and toward the one-man-rule that dominates third world countries." -- Northrup Buechner, in "Obama's Disdain for the Constitution Means We Risk Losing Our Republic" at Forbes

"[V]isibility cannot become an end in itself by attempting to fake achievement or success." -- Michael Hurd, in "Attention, Please!" at The Delaware Wave

"Like most laypeople, many psychotherapists are still confused over the distinction between self-esteem and narcissism." -- Michael Hurd, in "Does a Narcissist Have Self-Esteem?" at The Delawae Coast Press

"The only lasting 'fix' is freedom." -- Paul Hsieh, in "The Only Obamacare Fix Is for Obama to Legalize Real Health Insurance" at Forbes

My Two Cents

In the immediate term, I regard the Buechner piece, which I mentioned earlier in the week, as the most important. I urge you to read it if you have time for nothing else today. But beyond that, the Binswanger piece is also very good and very important in the long term.

Do read the Binswanger piece for an outstanding demolition of a leftist symbol. I had vaguely fond memories of that song from my childhood -- but hadn't thought about it in years -- until Binswanger set me straight. This is the kind of writing that can effect very positive cultural change.

Web Nostalgia

Via Hacker News, here's a list of  "Ancient Abandoned Websites That Still Work". Among them is the "oldest continuously running webcam on the interwebs".



Realist Theorist said...

The leaks on the motivations behind the firing of generals is mostly rumor. General Ham might have been removed for disagreeing aggressively on Benghazi, but that's still just rumor, contradicted by his own official statement.

As for Rear Admiral Gaouette, he seems to be the victim of political correctness. He cursed a ship captain and the captain filed a complaint. The captain's subordinates agreed that the Admiral was right about the Captain's rash handling of the ship. However, the investigating committee found the Admiral had used obscene language and had done so on other occasions, including making racially insensitive comments.

The Obama administration may be more aggressive about punishing or firing officers who disagree with its policies, but it is a big leap to go from there to thinking the army is being readied for a dictatorial takeover.

There is about zero probability that Obama will be president past 2016.

Gus Van Horn said...

I think you are correct, and even if this were the President's motivation, it would fail, given that I think most generals would be more loyal to the office than the man.

Thanks also for making it clear where the IBD article likely falls short and reminding that there are legitimate reasons to dismiss generals.

Steve D said...

‘The shocking fact is that our whole system of representative government depends on it being led by an individual who believes in it;’
This is his most interesting statement and it made me think; about historical cycles and the philosophy needed to keep men free. Why one of the world’s two great republics failed and the other one is about to. Is this the destiny of all free countries when people stop believing in freedom? When they succumb to altruism?
How about Sulla, he destroyed the Roman republic, then restored it and retired? I supposed he believed in it. But the precedent had been set and the next guy in line (Caesar) had no such beliefs.
But there is more to it than this – it’s not just a single man. As fewer and fewer people believe in the republic, the leaders will come to reflect it. Obama or the degradation of moral values, first; chicken or egg?
Obama should be impeached for breaking the law – justice demands it and also, if he gets away with it, the next president will take the law-breaking a little further. However, as a practical matter, it really doesn’t matter after 2016 if it’s Obama violating our rights or someone else.
And unless something big changes, sooner or later a president will try to remain in power past his allotted eight years. That is almost guaranteed.
‘even if this were the President's motivation, it would fail,’
However, Buechner did make the point that a failed attempt would be almost as bad, if it took the armed forces to get rid of him. The precedent would be set and the generals would get a taste of real power.

Anonymous said...

I think that Obama will try and make himself the one and only leader and answer to no one.
In the not to distance future.

Gus Van Horn said...

Regarding the chicken or egg question, the founders set things up in such a way that the culture had to decay first.

I think in earlier times he would have been impeached and removed from office by now, if he would have even felt like he could get away with his various extra-constitutional shenanigans in the first place.

Steve D said...

You are right. A certain level of moral decay must occur first. To clarify my point; as the culture decays, the leaders and people follow. However, at some point a self-reinforcing cycle will set in, accelerating the entire process. The fact that Obama is not being impeached suggests we are at that tipping point now.
The US itself is a civilizing factor for the world. Once the US falls (if it does); much of the inertia slowing the destruction of the rest of the Western World will disappear. In other words, if freedom fails in America, it will probably not survive in any significant extent elsewhere.

Gus Van Horn said...

I think those are fair assessments (i.e., of our being at a crossroads and of the role of the United States as a civilizing influence).

Realist Theorist said...

I always sum it up to myself as "we're all going to be like Europe".

I think countries like China will continue to liberalize speech etc.. In property and business, they will shift to a ever less corrupt system and to formal western-style regulations. Plus, they will probably throw in social-security and environment control.

Looking out to the next generation, there is even hope that some places in the muslim world will take the types of step the East Asians took. Tunisia and Morocco are the most likely candidates, but history can spin a surprise. Iranian elites could discover that trading with the west -- e.g. running the local VW factory -- gets them more wealth than the old regime does.

Gus Van Horn said...


Your comment reminds me of one I heard, decades ago, during a discussion of cultural and political trends during the Cold War: Everyone was going to end up looking more like Finland.

I think this is likely, barring a worldwide catastrophe, as leading cultures decline and lagging cultures do some catching up. Ultimately, the general direction will be backwards, unless better ideas begin taking hold somewhere.