Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Reflecting Upon Jim De Mint's Confusing Heritage Departure


It should be noted the  Heritage President Ex Senator Jim De Mint (R-SC was ousted by the Heritage Foundation's 22 member Board of Trustees after leading the conservative think tank for nearly four and a half years. 



De Mint was skeptical about Heritage Action, a 501(c)(4) influencing branch of Heritage run by Mike Needham. It was said that De Mint did not want to throw control of the think tank. to 30 something political operatives with no policy experience.  Ironically, the official spin from Heritage on parting ways with De Mint is that he was making the think tank too political.



"The public statement released earlier is puzzling given that the Board of Trustees have praised our work for four years and approved performance bonuses for our entire management team each year for a job well done." 

 Some have speculated that De Mint had been too outspoken in favor of Donald Trump, which alienated GOP Establishment elements in the organization.  Heritage Foundation Board member  Mickey Edwards (and former Congressman from R-OK 5th) noted

“When DeMint went in, Heritage became very political. It changed from a highly respected think tank to just a partisan tool and more ideological — more of a tea party organization than a think tank.”


Heritage Foundation founder Ed Feulner has agreed to again take the reins of the think tank as interim President while a leadership search is conducted.

Heritage Foundation founder Ed Feulner 




There is talk that De Mint may soon find a spot within the Trump Administration. That seems much more credible than the rumor (or joke from Fox New's Chris Wallace) that Steve Bannon will become Heritage Foundation President. 


Ex House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX 26)
This series of backroom recriminations seems reminiscent of the attempted coup of the Freedom Caucus by ex GOP House Majority Leader Dick Army (R-TX 26th) in late 2012. At least no one felt the need to pack heat at Heritage.


Nevertheless, Capitol Hill conservatives need not be afraid of adversity in the District of Calamity, but they must find ways to solve problems lest a short stint at being the majority be their real Heritage. 

Irving Kristol on the Equality of Opportunity

Irving Kristol on the Equality of Opportunity

E.F. Schumacher on Economics

E.F. Schumacher on Economics

Monday, May 1, 2017

Bruce Springsteen on Honest Work

Bruce Springsteen on Honest Work

All those years of building an image of being a working class hero seems to have been all a conceit. 

With such a dodgey work history, one wonders who's really "The Boss" at the Springsteen household.


Well, at least let's hope that Bruce doesn't try to compensate by buying Nordstrom's $425 fake work jeans with the simulated mud coating. 



Sunday, April 30, 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

Bill Maher on Free Speech

Bill Maher on Free Speech at UC Berkeley for Ann Coulter

On UC Berkeley's De Facto Limitation on Free Speech

On the Cancellation of Ann Coulter's UC Berkeley Speech

The University of California Berkeley, the self proclaimed home of the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s, has proven itself to be anything but that of late.  In February 2017, riots broke out to prevent Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking on campus.  Conservative campus activist David Horowitz was forced to cancel in early April 2017 because of strictures placed upon organizers for security.



Ann Coulter was slated to speak on April 27th but UC Berkeley Administration officials cancelled Ann Coulter from speaking.  The Young Americas Foundation and Berkeley College Republicans filed suit against the University of California Berkeley and University of California system Chancellor Janet Napolitano detailing how the academicians created de facto limitations on free speech and engaged in viewpoint discrimination.


Nonetheless, organizers supposedly withdrew their invitation for Ann Coulter to speak.  There is some controversy over that because the organizers claim that the University never gave them the room or hall for the event. However, the polemicist used that premise to cancel her appearance on campus despite Ms. Coulter's prior protestations. Sadly, the heckler's veto triumphed, even though Coulter and the College Republicans was solidly within Free Speech rights.  

Even though Ann Coulter was a no-show at Berkeley, riot police still had to prepare for violence from both antifa elements and  clashing counter-protesters. 





Bernie Sanders on Free Speech and UC Berkeley

Senator Bernie Sanders on Free Speech at UC Berkeley and Ann Coulter

Ben Stein on the Left

Ben Stein on the Left

Geert Wilders on the Immigration Jihad

Geert Wilders on Immigration


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bill Nye-- Not the Constitution Guy

Bill Nye, not the Constitution Guy

One of the supposed highlight of the DC March for Science, which was the largest of the Earth Day gatherings around the world, was childrens' infotainment 1990s science host Bill Nye "The Science Guy".

During his remarks in the rain, Nye reiterated his assertion that the Constitution of the United States protects science.





Nye has been claiming since 2015 that the Framers of the Constitution invocation of protecting the "progress of science and the useful arts"  in Article I Section 8 of the Constitution meant the politicians should educate the public about art and have a role in promoting science and a plethora of progressive pursuits like environmentalism and big infrastructure,


Bill Nye at DC March for Science, April 22 2017


Alas, Bill Nye is not the Constitution Guy.  Article I Section 8 is known among lawyers as the Copyright Clause. It protects inventors and intellectual property creators with keeping the benefits of the fruits of their labors.  Namely, others can not steal and profit from their ideas under the law.




Nye's facile interpretation of Article I Section 8 makes one wonder about his other musings.




It is safe to say he is neither Bill Nye the NASCAR Guy nor Bill Nye the Constitution Guy. Considering his public policy pontifications, he may be better described as Bill Nye, the Red Herring Guy. 


Paying Tribute to Quality-- RIP Robert M. Pirsig



Author Robert M. Pirsig died at the age of 88 in South Berwick, Maine after a period of failing health.  Pirsig was renowned for writing Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance-- An Inquiry Into Values (1974), a loosely autobiographical travelogue of a 17 day cross country road trip in 1968 with his 11 year old son and two friends during which he pondered weighty philosophical problems to discern the metaphysics of quality,  

Pirsig had served in the Army in the Far East before the Korean War.  During a trip on leave to Japan, Pirsig became fascinated by Zen Buddhism. After his military service, Pirsig received graduate degrees in Philosophy from the University of Chicago and Banaras Hindu University.

Like the unnamed protagonist in the novel, who sometimes referred to himself as Phaedrus (a name inspired by Plato's Dialogues),  Pirsig was a brilliant thinker with a high IQ who eventually suffered a mental breakdown which was treated by electro-shock therapy that altered his personality. By delving deeply into undercurrents of thought, the novel can be seen as a detective story of a man in search of himself.



Robert M. Pirsig, 1975
The title of the book was a play on another popular tome Zen and the Art of Archery (1971). Pirsig's playfulness was also evident in the forward in which the author wrote:


"Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance should in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice. It’s not very factual on motorcycles either.”
But the book contemplated how man relates to machines, the roots of our culture and what inspires madness.



Plato & Aristotle "The School of Athens" Raphael (1510)
Phaedrus ordered existence between "classic" values (like rational problem solving in fixing motorcycles) and "romantic values" (like beauty and the arts). This philosophical chautauqua ("circus of ideas) which Phaedrus grappled with in his deep thoughts was how the Western mind had separated ordinary experiences from transcendent experiences because Plato and Aristotle had done so. Moreover, the mind-body dualism championed by the Greeks stoked a mental civil war which stripped rationality from its spiritual underpinnings and spirituality of its reason.

What man really ought to strive for is quality.  As Pirsig contemplated:


"Quality . . . you know what it is, yet you don't know what it is. But that's self-contradictory. But some things are better than others, that is, they have more quality. But when you try to say what the quality is, apart from the things that have it, it all goes poof! There's nothing to talk about. But if you can't say what Quality is, how do you know what it is, or how do you know that it even exists? If no one knows what it is, then for all practical purposes it doesn't exist at all. But for all practical purposes it really does exist."





The book became a phenomenon which the author later described as a “kulturbarer" (Swedish for culture bearer), which developed a near cult popularity amongst hippies.  Pirsig mused: “I expressed what I thought were my prime thoughts and they turned out to be the prime thoughts of everybody else." Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance truly appealed to Baby Boomers. When the novel was first published, New York Times reviewer Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote: 


"[H]owever impressive are the seductive powers with which Mr. Pirsig engages us in his motorcycle trip, they are nothing compared to the skill with which he interests us in his philosophic trip... when [Pirsig] comes to grips with the hard philosophical conundrums raised by the 1960's, he can be electrifying." 
 When reflecting on the impact of ZAMM, Todd Gitlin, a counter cultural sociologist speculated that by blending the deep thoughts with the drudgery of daily life, such as motorcycle maintenance:  "Pirsig provided a kind of soft landing from the euphoric stratosphere of the late ’60s into the real world of adult life.”

The counter cultural novel sold over one million books in the first year of its publication and sold several million more since then.  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance became  the biggest selling philosophy book of all times and remained on the best sellers list for over a decade. This is remarkable for a manuscript which was rejected by 121 different publishers before William Morrow signed hi for a small $3,000 advance.

After the unexpected success of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Pirsig won a Guggenheim fellowship, some fortune and unwanted fame. Pirsig got so freaked out by what his neighbors called "Pirsig Pilgrims" to his Minneapolis home that he eventually packed his bags and would live in a camper or a sailboat for months.  Pirsig spent the last 30 years of his life in a small town in Southern Maine

Pirsig wrote one other book, Lila- An Inquiry into Morals (1991), which achieved neither the same success nor cultural impact.  But sometimes one oeuvre is enough to make one's mark on the world. 

Personally, I found Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to be a highly influential book. Believe it or not, it served as a textbook for an Advanced Placement American History course in high school. Despite the unorthodox textbook, I achieved highest marks on the exam as it honed in me an incredible analytical inclination which remains with me to this day (sometimes to the consternation of those close to me).  

While I may not be an adherent to Zen Buddhism, nor will anyone catch me fixing motor scooters or the ilk, I am graced by the idea that there is a nexus between the simply joys and drudgery of daily life and the transcendent. More than a quarter century later, I am still inspired by a quest for quality. To be so deeply impacted by a book demonstrates its importance. 


Robert M. Pirsig on Life



H/T: New York Times
        NPR



Nigel Farage on the Establishment

Nigel Farage on the Establishment