Uncommon Sense

September 25, 2022

Has Conservatism Run Its Course?

Since there is no longer a conservative political party in this country I am guessing that it is a good idea to define what I mean by “conservatism.” (It is different for different countries and different for different times.) My computer tells me that social conservatism is a “commitment to traditional values and ideas with opposition to change or innovation” while political conservatism is “the holding of political views that favor free enterprise, private ownership, and socially traditional ideas.”

Since social conservatism is at the core of political conservatism, that seems a good place to start.

When I was a youngin’ I often wondered what conservatives were trying to conserve. I was told “tradition” but that just means “the ways we have always done things.” Combine that and “opposition to change or innovation” and conservatism equates to preserving or “conserving” the status quo. Political conservatism therefore equates to preserving or “conserving” the political status quo.

When I was young, there was a conservative political party, the Republican Party. They have shrugged off that mantle, in favor of becoming a personality cult of Donald J. Trump, something conservatives of my past would have run for their guns to prevent.

So, I ask: “Who would want to preserve the status quo”? My only answer would be “the well off.” People who are socially or financially or politically well off would prefer that the good times kept rolling (Laissez les bons temps rouler!). And, lo and behold, the Republican Party of my youth was the party of the rich people and older people. There was even a meme to explain why this was so. It went “If you weren’t a liberal when you were young, you didn’t have a heart. If you weren’t a conservative when old, you didn’t have a brain.” It only made sense for the old folks to preserve their gains whether ill-gotten or otherwise.

So, the Republican Party was the party of Big Business, the rich, etc. and the Democratic Party was the party of “working people,” aka the non-rich, labor unions, poor people, oppressed minorities, etc. And, if you can believe it, each party had conservative and liberal wings, because there were substantial differences between the members of the two parties. This resulted in some overlap between the two cohorts, which made collaboration somewhat easier.

Well, there is no longer a party that wraps a conservative mantle around its shoulders. The GOP is attacking the FBI and other governmental policing functions, when it used to be the party of “law and order.” Oh, yeah, the law, pfft who cares? The only law that applies is “If the Donald did it, it was legal.”

The GOP used to be in favor of infrastructure repairs, voting in favor of projects large and small to keep the country’s roads and waterways and electric power distribution grids useful. They were even in favor of having a clean environment, and having public healthcare. Now they seem to want everything to make profits for the richest of the rich, and government should stay out of almost everything, except the courts and the military. The courts are to keep people who can’t afford good lawyers in line, and the military is for anything else needed to keep the coffers of the rich full to bursting.

So, is conservatism dead?

Plain old social conservatism, you know, conserving the status quo, is dead in the water as the social conservatives have been infiltrated and taken over by the religious right, which is trying to turn the country into a theocracy (and if you really, really, really want a civil war, that sure is a way to cause one).

The conservatism of my youth is dead, and if not dead, it is certainly gone. (William F. Buckley, were he still alive, would surely agree.) So far, only a lunatic fringe has stepped up to take is place. I hope that is not the only candidate. And I am still wondering what will replace the liberals who have disappeared, also. Maybe the progressives currently starting to exert some power?

September 20, 2022

The “Special Master” in the Trump Documents Investigation is a Political Joke

Filed under: Politics,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 8:50 pm
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The judge issuing the “Special Master” order has declared that the investigators must stop investigating all of the documents until they have been reviewed.

This is insane. The “Special Master” is to determine whether any of the documents are subject to attorney-client privilege or executive privilege. But none of the classified documents can be so described, so those documents should be set aside for investigators to continue their work.

To have a government document go through the classification process basically precludes it from being a private communication belonging solely to the president.

Clearly the judge issuing this order is motivated more by politics than by the law. And the standing of the judicial branch of our government sinks more and more rapidly into the mire.

Donald Trump Veers Off Script

Filed under: History,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 8:48 pm
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Donald Trump has been bleating threats about what will happen should he be arrested and charged with any of his numerous crimes. He clearly doesn’t want to spend any time in prison.

This not how his mentor did things. What possibly has thrown Mr. Trump off is that his election was a shock and a surprise to him. He did not expect to be elected, which is what his mentor experienced.

But then Mr. Trump got back on track when he staged a coup that failed, as did his mentor. His mentor spent a year in prison as his penance, albeit in a posh institution in which he had every amenity, even a personal secretary.

Then his mentor was freed by a friendly judge (sound familiar?) and in short order he was elected into the highest elective office in the land and shortly after that was declared to be absolute dictator of his country.

The plan worked fabulously for Adolf Hitler and Mr. Trump seems hell bent on following that path. Why he is resisting going to prison is off script, though.

Earth Calling John Roberts, Come In Please

Filed under: Politics,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 8:36 pm
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A recent news report (ArcaMax) stated:

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts said he’s concerned criticism of the Supreme Court over controversial decisions has veered into attacks on its legitimacy as an institution. Speaking publicly for the first time since the court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion, Roberts said criticism of rulings is “entirely appropriate,” but that the court’s role doesn’t change because people disagree with its decisions.

“’People can say what they want,’ he said late Friday at a conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where lawyers and judges gathered to discuss legal developments. But ‘simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for questioning the legitimacy of the court.’”

So, all who are claiming that the legitimacy of the Court is being rapidly eroded, including me, are motivated simply from disagreement with the decision and not via any of the infantile, erroneous arguments put forth by the majority? Just that?

How about in the Kennedy v. Bremerton School Dist. decision (06/27/2022)? The majority claimed that the football coach was praying in private! The school district actually offered the coach a private space to pray in, but the coach refused that offer and insisted upon praying on the 50-yard line of the football game immediately after the game concluded. Do the Justices know what the purpose of a football stadium is? It is to allow people, many people, to watch what is happening on the field. Were the stands empty when the coach did his thing? No? So, the coach turned down an actual private space for his prayers, insisting on this very public space and your majority concludes that the coach was exercising his First Amendment right to pray “in private.” Did the justices or their clerks read the documents submitted? Did they see the photos?

The Chief Justice seems to have mastered the straw man argument. He claims that all of those claiming the Court is losing legitimacy because they disagree with the outcome to be mislead. Okay, what about the many thousands left who are criticizing the shoddy work of the majorities in these case? What about us?

September 11, 2022

How Would He Know?

Filed under: Culture,Morality,Politics,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 10:26 am
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Ex-president Donald Trump is back on the stump branding the FBI and Justice Department as “political monsters” and has labeled President Biden as an “enemy of the state.” All of this is based upon his interpretation of the search warrant legally and quietly executed at his tacky Florida “mansion,” Mar-a-Lago. Part of his initial claims was that the FBI planted the documents in his rooms. (Note—It was Mr. Trump who announced this news item to the world, not the FBI; they were being discrete.)

The question I suggest we need to ask and keep asking is “How would he know?” Mr. Trump was not present when the search warrant was executed. His lawyers were, so he could have gotten some information from them as first-hand observers . . . and we all know how competent Mr. Trump’s lawyers are. You know the brilliant legal minds he has on retainer, including the one who signed an affidavit that all of the government-owned documents had been surrendered, before the raid, and the ones who keep filing law suits getting thrown out of court because they are incoherent.

As the frenzied Mr. Trump lashed out against the FBI, he didn’t explain where the FBI was supposed to have acquired the top-top-secret documents they supposedly planted. Mr. Trump, apparently, assumes people can pull all kinds of things out of their asses, since he does regularly. (And apparently even those empty folders have tracking numbers on them, so they are traceable as to where they were last.)

Mr. Trump’s tirades are inciting many, many more threats and attacks on law enforcement agents. When does this become illegal incitement to violence? Our Constitution guarantees that political speech is free in this country, but there are limits, e.g. yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there is no fire is not speech that is considered free. So, when do Mr. Trump’s bald-faced lies become illegal incitement?

September 6, 2022

Trump Had Better Not Visit Saudi Arabia Any Time Soon

Filed under: Politics,The News — Steve Ruis @ 12:48 pm
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A recent news report stated:

“A Saudi woman recently sentenced to 45 years in prison was convicted of using the internet and social media accounts to “spread lies through tweets”, among other alleged crimes, according to a newly obtained Saudi court document.”

Trump would have to put away for at least 450 years based upon the sheer volume of his Twitter lies.

September 5, 2022

Ex-President Accidentally Throws Gasoline on Fire in Attempt to Put It Out

Filed under: Morality,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 11:06 am
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In a recent speech ex-President Donald Trump said “The FBI and the justice department have become vicious monsters, controlled by radical-left scoundrels, lawyers and the media, who tell them what to do.”

“The FBI and the justice department have become vicious monsters . . .”

This was immediately after offering to do anything asked of him to “bring the temperature down.” He wasn’t referring to the current heat wave temperatures, but the threats of violence from his supporters surrounding the investigation of him breaking numerous laws regarding official records being stolen and hidden away at his Florida home.

And, don’t forget, the GOP is the “Law and Order Party.” Or at least they used to be.

September 3, 2022

Conservatives Go Bonkers Over Forgiving Student Debt

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:08 pm

It is interesting that these conservatives are all too willing to pull out the Constitution for their arguments, but not the Bible which says all debts are to be forgiven every seven years. (Shush, don’t mention the Bible, dude!)

Okay, so what does the Constitution say about debts? How about this:

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation. (Article 6)

And . . .

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. (Fourteenth Amendment, Section 4)

So, the Constitution states that debts incurred by the federal government are valid and the validity of the public debt shall not be questioned. There are historical reasons for these provisions but they are beside the point.

The debts being forgiven are not of the federal government but of individual citizens who the federal government (aka you and I) loaned money to. Since the federal government is the lender and not the debtor, neither of these Constitutional provisions applies, and even if they did, they say nothing about the federal executive branch forgiving the debts of those indebted to it.

The level of thinking here is along the lines of: Biden = bad, bad = unbiblical unconstitutional. Pathetic.

Where were these people when Trump was giving trillions away to the richest individuals and corporations as tax breaks?

Where were these folks when the federal government was forgiving millions in PPP loans, often to the same people criticizing students being forgiven much smaller amounts?

Where were these folks when the Bush administration was lying their asses off to be able to spend trillions on illegal wars, especially wars that were unwinnable?


Realize that these people are deeply religious, although by their behaviors, definitely not True Christians™. In their messed up religion students are not worthy of their “charity” and thus should not receive it. They don’t see students as our children, the next generation of American citizens who need to be treated well and supported. They see them as Takers, takers being groomed by the Democrats! (Right here in River City!) Somehow rich corporations and billionaires are worthy of their charity, so they back government giveaways to those folks.

Assholes . . . and idiots. I thought they were supposed to be experts at recognizing “false religions” and “false messiahs,” like Trump. Apparently not. Worshipping Mammon is in, baby, at least with this crowd.

September 2, 2022

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 12:50 pm
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September 1, 2022

Thanks, Mr. Kelly, But No Thanks (Sorry!)

Mark Kelly, the retired astronaut and all-around good guy is running for the U.S. Senate in Arizona. I have received a regular torrent of pleas for funds from his campaign. (Mr. Kelly has eschewed donations from corporations and billionaires, so good on him.)

And SCOTUS has declared that such donations are to be treated as if they were free speech.

And in the past I might have scraped up a few dollars to support his candidacy but, I haven’t and the reason I haven’t is what should I, as a citizen of Illinois, have to say about who the people of Arizona select as their senatorial representatives?

I have believed in self-determination for as long as I can remember. Arizonans should elect who they want to elect and the rest of us should butt out. Of course, that is not how politics is done these days but I don’t see how believing in the opposite should motivate me to do something.

When a candidate gets behind legislation restricting campaign donations to only those who the official will represent, I will send as much money as I can.

Until then, out of state senate campaign donations are a form of influence peddling.

Now, I know Mr. Kelly is fighting an uphill battle by not accepting donations from fat cat donors. That means he has to collect a very large number of small donations, hence all of the emailed pleas from his campaign. But, hypothetically, what if a candidate were to receive all of his funding from out of district donors? Okay, maybe not all, but 90+%. That candidate would be the candidate that people, say, outside of Arizona want to represent Arizonans. But what about what Arizonans want?

I want an outright ban on cash donations from anyone who will not be directly represented by the person if elected. If people can’t pry enough money out of their constituencies to run a campaign, they basically are being told that their services aren’t wanted.

If I can’t have that, I want a full disclosure law. Each candidate must keep an up-to-date file on their campaign website showing the states of residence and amounts of donations, and yeah, the names of the donors, too. Shouldn’t residents of each state in which senators are being elected know where their campaign funds are coming from? If someone is exercising political free speech, should the speaker be allowed to be anonymous? How can we evaluate the value of such speech if we can’t evaluate the motives of the speakers?

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