Author Archives: Luke Hamilton

Storage Wars: The Mid-Term Edition

Now that the heady rush of jubilation has faded from the election, it’s time to take stock of what we actually achieved. The numbers couldn’t be more forthright. It’s as if the American people interrupted the President to interject, “Now, let me be clear…” The 2014 election was an epic political repudiation of President Obama, Harry Reid, and the Progressive agenda in Washington. It was a demonstration that all but the most white-eyed leftist loons in America are tired of Obama’s ineptitude, deliberate or otherwise. How amusing now to think about those talking heads on cable who tried to suggest that the Democrats might not lose the Senate, the day before America catapulted the Senate back to the Republicans in a resounding fashion.

But what has been achieved? What has our political support purchased? In a strange way, American voters are like folks on that Storage Wars show. Turn on any episode and you’ll see people bidding crazy amounts of money on a garage-worth of stuff they’ve only glimpsed from a distance. Could be treasure, could be rubbish. And just like those storage-capitalists, we don’t yet know what we just purchased.

In the majority of races, it would be very difficult to elucidate just what the Republican candidate ran on, since the only discernable plank in the 2014 GOP campaign strategy was “We’re not Obama”. It could be that we’ve only traded progressive Democrats for progressive Republicans. The reality is that the GOP has controlled arguably the most powerful organ in the Federal government for the past four years. The power of the House of Representatives lies in the purse. It is through the House that all the rest of the government is funded, since all bills for raising revenue originate in the House (ala Article I, Section VII). Of course this is by design, providing one more check and balance to offset the potential overreach of a Federal leviathan. Whoever controls the House, controls the funding of the entire US Government.

And yet, this power was deliberately set aside by GOP leadership during one of the most egregious, tyrannical growths of Presidential power in American history. One could argue that there has never been a greater need for the House to check a runaway Executive branch and yet the Speaker of the House sat on his hands for four years. No, even worse, the Speaker told his enemies about his plans to sit on his hands before he did so. When Speaker Boehner communicated time and again that the power of the purse was off the table, he surrendered before the enemy even took the field.

Since Boehner took the Speaker’s gavel in 2010, Obama has:

  • Implemented (and funded) Obamacare
  • Directed his DOJ to blatantly flout federal law in cases involving DOMA
  • Prevented the Congressional inquiry into the deliberate harassment of conservative organizations by the Internal Revenue Service
  • Violated religious liberty of Americans via the contraception mandate
  • Stonewalled Congressional investigators attempting to get to the bottom of the murder of American diplomats in Libya

And this is just the low-hanging fruit!

Obama’s abuse of presidential power has been beyond the wildest dreams of progressive radicals, yet Boehner’s House has achieved only one minor victory: Sequestration via a half-hearted government shutdown. Yet even Boehner himself admits that he had to be talked into it and was against the idea from the beginning. New Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is at least as spineless as Boehner and coupled with the fact that these two men now control the entire Federal legislative machinery yet haven’t advanced the slightest hint of a conservative agenda over the past 4 years, can Americans have any hope in the success of a newly-elected conservative majority?

It is a question which is impossible to accurately answer at this juncture. Conservative politicians are not immune to legislating much differently than they campaigned. Given the number of Establishment-endorsed GOP candidates who won, I think there will be more than a fair number of newly-minted RINOs in D.C. come next year. It remains to be seen how much of a seat at the table Boehner and McConnell will give any true conservative who shows up. Based solely on their actions over the past 4 years, chances are that McBoehnell will work behind the scenes to erode support for any kind of conservative resistance which forms in either house.

The encouraging thing is that there are several strong conservative voices headed to Washington next year. Folks like Ben Sasse in Nebraska and Joni Ernst in Iowa should revitalize the efforts of Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, men who have been holding the conservative line in the Senate. Similarly Dave Brat, Barry Loudermilk, Mia Love, John Ratcliffe, and Andy Mooney are headed to a House in desperate need of articulate, impassioned, principled conservatives.

These Congressional rookies probably think they’ve finally emerged from the political fight of their lives, but they haven’t seen anything yet. If there’s one thing the heartless Republican establishment will attack, it’s an unapologetic conservative. They’ll keep their powder dry until they spot the opportunity to turn on a Tea Partier and then it’ll be open season. If these freshmen are smart, they’ll realize that power lies in numbers and the tighter formation they can maintain, the better. There’s a reason why the Greek phalanx and the Roman testudo were such effective fighting formations. With any luck, organizations like the Tea Party Caucuses in both houses can form rank around these fledgling representatives until they get their sea legs and prepare to carry the fight to the enemies of Liberty, foreign or domestic.

The Motivational Doctrine of Discomfort

In a sad turn of events, former-Congressman Anthony Weiner and his wife are reportedly looking to down-size their living arrangements. They are planning to leave their $12,000/month Park Ave. apartment and have recently viewed a more frugal living space. According to the Washington Times, the new apartment they are considering rents for a mere $8,000/month. Weiner is rumored to make between $300,000 and $400,000 annually, as a “political consultant”, while she earns around $150,000. This is truly a sad turn of events for Anthony and Huma, one can only imagine the humiliation of having to scrape by on half a million dollars annually.

If this country had its collective head screwed on straight, Weiner would be searching for a more spacious refrigerator box to move into, broke and destitute after his repeated betrayal of the public trust. But if common sense and integrity ruled the roost, men (using the term loosely) like Weiner would be shoveling dung for the circus just to make ends meet. Instead, he somehow retains a shred of relevance and financial viability.

Something which is lost in America today is the phenomenon of discomfort. It was once clearly understood that discomfort provides a valuable service in an economy. In one of Benjamin Franklin’s finest quotes he said, “I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor is not in making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.” Franklin understood the motivational power discomfort has on the poor. If poverty causes discomfort, then a poor man is more likely to take actions which move him out of poverty and the discomfort associated with it. But if a poor man is insulated from the discomfort of poverty, what incentive does he have to strive for prosperity?

As a society, America has become increasingly wealthy. Thanks to the free-market capitalist foundation provided by our founders, America has created more wealth than anyone imagined was possible. Consequently, Americans have become inured to the experience of deprivation, preferring instead the idolatrous bosom of Comfort. This sea change was first codified in FDR’s attempt to create a 2nd Bill of Rights, in which he attempted to calcify specific social privileges as “rights”, equivalent to the rights listed in our original Bill of Rights. These new “rights” included housing, employment, freedom from unfair competition, medical care, education, and social security. In the years following FDR’s failed push to officially codify these socialist planks, Progressives haven’t given up; preferring instead to force them on us via monolithic congressional bills in the form of Social Security, socialized education, and Obamacare.

Like many economic truths, the doctrine of discomfort also has application in the social/moral realm. In many ways, Americans have not eradicated poverty as much as we have translated our economic poverty into moral poverty. Benefitting from the most powerful economic engine of success and innovation in history, our society has been able to effectively stifle economic poverty, as it has been traditionally defined throughout the history of the world until now. The creature comforts of our society have trickled down to even the lowest classes of our society, as the Heritage Foundation described a few years ago in their explosive analysis of “poor” American households. By analyzing households which had been labeled “poor” by the US Census bureau, Heritage found that 80% of them had air conditioning, 75% had a car or truck, 66% had cable or satellite television, and 33% of them had a wide-screen plasma/LED television. Clearly the War on Poverty is making startling strides toward the utopian goal of eliminating economic poverty, but this has seemingly come at the cost of our integrity.

And what about our integrity, as a whole? Unexplainable phenomenon like Anthony Weiner’s continued viability demonstrate that our poverty is now moral instead of economic and we are beginning to insulate those who are morally bankrupt from the discomfort traditionally distributed by the market forces of society. Just as the protection from economic discomfort has produced generations which manufacture discomfort while surrounded by unprecedented provision, those we protect from social discomfort will spawn a new grievance industry which will create protests and complaints which are baseless and unfounded. Economic and social discomfort is vital to the health of a society, functioning just as the nerves of our bodies protect our physical health from harm. If we seek to eradicate discomfort from our nation in the hopes of achieving a progressive utopia, we do so at our own peril.