Even when kings and feudal princes fought supposedly serious wars in the early Middle Ages, they were not bloody. At the great and decisive battle of Lincoln in 1217, where some six hundred knights on one side fought eight hundred on the other, only one knight was killed, and everyone was horrified at the unfortunate accident.

End The Term Limit For The US Presidency?

Let’s keep Obama in the White House!

Unsurprisingly, the proposal that the president of the USA should be permitted to serve a third term — at least a third term — has been articulated. You can read a promotion of it here.

The concept (set out by a fellow named Zimmerman) depends for the most part on the reasonable notion that the electorate should be permitted to choose its leaders. A closer look is in order.

Disqualifying the opponents of the proposal

Because Zimmerman is an Obamite, he begins his case against the presidential term limit (as established by the 22nd constitutional amendment) by referring to Ronald Reagan:

Reagan decried the fact that he could not run for a consecutive third term. That means the democratic process forbids the electorate from having the executive it wants, and that’s a violation of a founding principle, isn’t it?

It is not likely that folks in the limited government camp believe that any human being is right all the time. On this issue, Reagan was certainly in error, as will be demonstrated. First, however, consider Zimmerman’s ploy: notice that his remarks include two notions that are not immediately obvious. The first is intended to paint the Tea Partiers as deviants. After all, if you disagree with Reagan, how can you be a genuine “wingnut”?

The second notion asserts that the USA’s foundational principles are good, and that if you think they are not good, you must be intellectually dishonest, hypocritical, or stupid. “Wingnuts”, Zimmerman assumes, approve of the presidential term limit, so they discredit themselves at once.

That’s very clever, very subtle argumentation. It deftly disqualifies Zimmerman’s opponents, who are supposed to stand down, now that they and their ideas are irrelevant.

A term limit is heresy, as a Founding Father made clear

The next step in the inexorable chain of reasoning is to dazzle the reader with exposure to the wisdom of an iconic authority.

Accordingly, Zimmerman calls upon George Washington to define the relevant foundational principle: “I can see no propriety in precluding ourselves from the service of any man who, in some great emergency, shall be deemed universally most capable of serving the public.” That means that imposing a term limit amounts to a (quoting Zimmerman now) “…shocking lack of faith in the common sense and good judgment of the people”. Regarding the states’ ratification of the 22nd amendment, “When they succeeded in limiting the presidency to two terms, they limited democracy itself”.

Cold, hard facts

Well, now. When George Washington served (1789 – 1797), the electoral college (established 1788) decided who would be president. The populace was indirectly involved, in that it chose the electors. In fact direct democracy on the federal level operated only to decide the membership of the House of Representatives, the lower house of Congress.

It is not at all the case that the nation’s founding principles included the notion that the people should have the president they prefer. The goal was to choose the man best suited to the office and the current needs of the nation, and the opinion of the people was not permitted to make that decision. The electoral college saw to that, and it did so in a candid fashion that met with approval by both the Founding Fathers and the electorate.

Be clear: Washington did not say that the people should choose the president, nor did he say that a president should be free to serve as long as the electors prefer him. He also expressed no “faith in the common sense and good judgment of the people”; he agreed with the principle of an electoral college. Read the quote again, and you will see that Zimmerman has attempted mischief. Washington’s words are unsuited to a rational discussion of term limits.

It has become traditional for electors to tell the voters which candidate they support, and honor that tacit commitment. That change exemplifies a new principle that was perhaps most strongly expressed in 1970, when the Congress debated the abolition of the electoral college.

The electoral college can and does on occasion prevent the winner of the popular vote from becoming president. So far, Zimmerman’s faux “founding principle” — that the people should elect the president democratically, and repeatedly if they so desire — has not proved strong enough even to see to the abolition of the college, however.

The ugly core of the argument gradually becomes visible

Zimmerman’s disingenuous proposal now degenerates from slipshod sophistry to something far more sinister, for he also mentions “…Obama, whose approval rating has dipped to 37 percent in CBS News polling — the lowest ever for him — during the troubled rollout of his health-care reform.”

So it’s to be called “health-care reform”. Well, now. Others might not use that laudatory terminology to describe the Utopian fantasy that is the ACA. The attempt to prejudice the discussion by limiting discourse to a partisan vocabulary is noted.

That sleight of word is, however, surpassed in sheer gall by the admission that “…if Obama could run again, would he be facing such fervent objections from Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)?”

Why does Zimmerman ask that question?

Because if there were no term limit on the presidency, “Democratic lawmakers would worry about provoking the wrath of a president who could be reelected. Thanks to term limits, though, they’ve got little to fear.”

This is an astounding admission, for it borders on an endorsement of the Führerprinzip. Though Zimmerman never intended it to, it explains exactly why the presidential term limit is valuable: it makes it very difficult for a bully to transform the presidency into a dictatorship.

Look closely at Zimmerman’s artful words. Note that he suggests that a president unhindered by a term limit can effectively censor Congressmen. Is that your idea of representative democracy? What if the senator has something important to say? Is it a good idea to muzzle him in the interests of party solidarity?

Zimmerman proposes strong executive leadership, such that popularly elected representatives should be frightened into shutting the hell up when the president has decided what to do. That’s a watered-down Führerprinzip, and it’s not consonant with the USA’s founding principles.

Next Zimmerman claims that a president who can always run for yet another term will naturally cringe before an angry electorate: “Nor does Obama have to fear the voters, which might be the scariest problem of all. If he chooses, he could simply ignore their will.”

That seems reasonable enough, but it’s not certain. The president, whether restricted by a term limit or not, can cope with a fractious electorate — as Obama has already demonstrated.

Of course Obama does not care what the electorate thinks of him and his program; he was elected to change things, and he was given a mandate to decide what to toss out, what to keep, and what to invent. He’s in charge because his values are better than those of his predecessors. All that is perfectly clear to him.

Obama’s political stance owes nothing to the term limit imposed on him. It’s all a matter of ideology.

Skulduggery

That is precisely why one should thank goodness that the president is prevented from remaining in office past 2016. In fact would be extraordinarily unlikely for Obama to fail to win re-election to a third or fourth term.

That requires some explanation.

Consider two seldom-mentioned facts that have been so carefully avoided that their impact can hardly be reliably quantified: first, that well over ninety-five percent of black voters selected Obama. Second, election fraud favoring Obama was overwhelming; as this newsletter said (in Nr. 263 and Nr. 324), “Dead Democrats do not respond to polls, but they do vote”.

It is not difficult for rascals to corrupt democracy. All it takes is the creation of a dependent class of citizens who realize that their fate is contingent upon the continued rule of the Great Leader. This is why Obama has pointed out that the US constitution is inadequate in that it provides no material benefits; he implies that he will fill the gap, do the right thing, and give you money. Unions and federal employees and society’s drones and ne’erdowells believe him. As do increasingly large segments of the voting public who are unconcerned about — indeed, as Zimmerman’s deceitful argument demonstrates, ignorant of — the founding principles of the Republic.

Begin, therefore, with the greedy unproductive sectors of society who know where to go for benefits, add a few squads of thugs and some extremist partisans in labor unions and governmental bureaucracies, and you have a power base. With power comes the ability to fix elections.

Needed: principled law enforcement, not an end to term limits

At this point one sets aside as temporarily irrelevant the philosophy of founding principles and the defense of Liberty. The topic now is election fraud: enrolling ghost voters, registering the same voter in several precincts, registering non-citizens, rigging voting machines, disposing of ballots, and so on. You can wind up with more voters in some precincts than there are humans there of all ages and citizenships. It’s a practice that varies from blatantly obvious to technical and hard to detect. That the fraud is seldom investigated and almost never prosecuted is symbolized by Holder’s flagrant misbehavior; the scoundrel refused to prosecute a thug with a club who stood outside a federal polling place and did what he could to intimidate arriving voters. Holder doesn’t give a damn what you think, and that makes him an icon for every ruffian and schemer and union fixer and rabid Obamite from anencephalic to zany.

Yes, malfeasance, corruption, fraud, and racist voting produced solid results for Obama, and a compliant press neglected to call for investigations into the multiple abuses.

A term limit is utterly irrelevant. As Obama knows, what matters is the organization. Ethics, principles, the electorate’s opinions — all are trumped by the amoral mechanics of politics.

Recall Obama’s words spoken to a Russian official: the president said that once he was re-elected, he would be able to be “flexible”. He meant he could then do things the electorate would not like. Does that mean he would be reluctant to please the Russians if he faced four years in office, and then another election? Of course not!

Zimmerman’s plea to allow Obama to serve three or more terms naively assumes that all elections will be honest. To a man like Obama, elections are instrumental, not sacrosanct.

There is more than one way to hold political power once you have it, and the will of the electorate need not be a complication. You can cheat, and dropping the 22nd amendment would make cheating exquisitely seductive the third time around. It’s a simple truth: wielding great power can excite a dormant lust for control. That fact is ignored by those who would abolish a term limit on the presidency.

As things stand, the nation deals inadequately with election fraud because the crime can and often does serve the interests of The Powers That Be.

Allowing a president to serve until the ballot box goes against him is a notion that was not present at the nation’s founding. It ignores reality, makes a mockery of ethics, and panders to the authoritarianism of those who are least fit to rule.

Dispatches From A Tramp Abroad

A retired police official talks about narcotics laws. Related: one always hears about the so-called “coffeeshops” in The Netherlands where lots of stimulants are sold (including coffee and tea, I am told). In the last year or so, the Dutch government has gradually begun preventing foreigners from entering coffee shops, i.e., making them accessible only to Dutch citizens. Also worthy of note is that, in The Netherlands, the sale of cannabis is “illegal but not punishable”, making it de facto an unenforceable law.

Icy lake; auto in over its hubcaps. Not to worry: “Give me a lever long enough, and I’ll move the earth.”

This is funny. In fact the entire site is a riot.

Corruption in Spain. I lived in Spain for six years, from 2007 to 2013, but I personally did not see any corruption. Of course I am not a politician nor am I the owner of a (construction) company that is eager to build a few thousand residential units with state-guaranteed loans or to construct an airport in a God-forsaken corner of the country where no aircraft will take off or land after it is completed. Here’s a link to Transparency International. Search on your country of choice.

A fairly long read, but this article basically debunks all the conventional “science” regarding cholesterol, what causes it and what its effects are.

This is the best sales motivation film in a decade — or close to it.

The Brits would make the Ottoman Empire proud; here’s why. Long term, I foresee the US, UK, Germany and France closing their borders to all but an elite few. Either that, or they will allow entry only to those with extreme perseverance.

Interesting historical photos for folks in the USA, and amusing for Californians in particular.

Inspiring.

Everybody needs a hobby, but… wow!

What does it take to become a scientist? My dad used to tell me that I needed to learn how to “think out of the box”, i.e., try to look at everything from a different perspective. My parents once gave me a set of books written by Roger von Oech. The titles I remember the most vividly are “A Whack On the Side of the Head” and “A Kick in the Seat of the Pants”.

I am admittedly no expert on Thai affairs, but this seems to me to sum up the situation.

Do you ever wonder why they call a doctor’s office…a “practice”? Because they practice on their patients. And sometimes, after much practicing, they do find out something useful.

Give a man a knife and what might you get?

The multi-national food, pharmaceutical and chemical conglomerates will stop at nothing to control what we eat, drink, ingest and apply to our crops.

Here’s more on the parting of Erdoğan and Gülen. As previously reported, Erdoğan used Gülen to topple the Turkish military and now that he does not need his help any more, Erdoğan is taking action to eliminate virtually all of the Gülen Movement’s middle-of-the-road influence in Turkey.

One can assume that the newspaper Hürriyet is not a strong supporter of Mr. RTE and his AK Party.

If all they did was talk, I guess they wouldn’t have such large families. So….

Cool! But, actually, it is quite hot.

Book Review

Mohammed And Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy, by Emmet Scott. New English Review Press, 2012, ISBN 978-0-578-09418-2.

The question, and the dispute it provoked: how are historians to understand and explain the centuries between the end of the Roman empire and the birth of modern Europe? That might sound like a simple task; after all, one need simply summarize events as the fall of Rome followed by a Dark Age dominated by brutes and primitives; the cultural brilliance of the Caliphate that ruled the Iberian peninsula and transfused the embryonic West with the wisdom of the ancients; and the eventual emergence of feudalism. In this scenario — which is utterly fanciful — the Arabs play strong supporting roles as traders, scholars, creators of wealth, and bearers of a sophisticated, vigorous culture.

The French historian Henri Pirenne (1862-1935) saw things differently. He insisted that the facts showed the post-Roman period as inspired by Roman traditions and having prospered — until the Arabs destroyed Classical Civilization and forced Europe into a catastrophic decline that ended in approximately the second quarter of the tenth century. The period beginning three hundred years earlier was, according to Pirenne, not at all the natural result of European degeneracy, but the effect of intractable Arab depredations. Far from enriching the West, Islam was a lethal predator that destroyed Europe’s culture, educational system, agriculture and technology.

According to the author of Mohammed And Charlemagne Revisited, Pirenne was essentially correct, and archaeology proves it. Taken together with a rigorous critical examination of the generalizations provided by historians who disagreed and still disagree with Pirenne, the evidence of the spade leads inevitably to some politically incorrect but demonstrably accurate conclusions.

Consider just one result of connecting seemingly disparate data: the Viking raids on what is today Great Britain, and Arab pirates in the Mediterranean.

Now if you look at a history of the English language, you will come across the “Danelaw”. Alfred the Great imposed it in the late ninth century, and it’s interesting, so look it up. It was a response to Viking (Danish) raids that savaged Britain for decades. Did you ever wonder why the Vikings were so eager to raid? The motive was economic, but there was not that much to steal. The Danes captured people and sold them to Arabs, whose demand for slaves was insatiable. Men were castrated and pressed into all manner of service, while women were kept in harems. If the Arabs had not been buyers, the Vikings would not have been slavers.

This horror raises the essential fact regarding the Arabs: as a direct result of their religion, they were irrepressible. They were parasites, insatiably ravaging all non-Muslims. Their glittering paradise in Iberia was anything but, and their contributions to European learning and culture were beneath trivial, the prevailing paradigm notwithstanding. Scott notes dryly that “…Avicenna and Averroes…were in any case rejected and expelled from the Muslim canon….”

Scott also points out that while Islam and the Arabs constituted the worst possible role models, Westerners did adopt some Muslim notions and practices they should have ignored. The hatred of Jews is probably, Scott suggests, a concept Europeans learned long ago from Arabs.

Well (pause to reset). This reviewer was amused to learn of the fantasy concocted by Heribert Illig, a historian who grappled with the problems created by the customary view of the fall of Classical Civilization by suggesting that “…the three centuries stretching from 614 to 911 never existed at all….”! That would mean that the Battle of Hastings was fought in 769, and that it is now 1718. Scott’s discussion accounts for the “missing years”, and he makes clear that one of the results of bad interpretations of history can be huge gaps in the archive.

Overall, Scott makes an excellent case, well buttressed by evidence that was unavailable to Pirenne. On almost every page, the reader gains valuable insight into the epochs covered. Archaeologists will be pleased to note the vital role their discipline plays in the clarification of social and economic history. Of course historians dealing with European and Islamic issues will find Mohammed And Charlemagne Revisited well worth the price, while specialists in Rome may be interested in Scott’s remarks on how the barbarians — those hairy Germans and various Goths — felt about Roman customs, organizational principles, jurisprudence and language (hint: they approved, they copied, they cherished, they preserved — and while they did not necessarily like the Romans, they appreciated the opportunity to improve all aspects of their Germanic barbarian way of life).

That said, a few suggestions for an improved second edition might be in order. First, one can ask for careful proofreading. Second, Scott too often mentions an intriguing subject, only to promise that more will be said about it…later. Though accurate, the emaciated reference can leave the reader wishing for a quick summary of what must be delayed. Too, some of the prose tends to spill off the page as a jumble of clever notions in need of discipline; a good editor might make some of the interlinking concepts more linear and therefore cogent. Finally, it would be nice to have a fold-out chronological chart that includes places, developments, trends and turning points, though of course the reader can construct one as he goes.

You might find that task unnecessary if you follow this advice: first read the Introduction, and then the Conclusion (chapter 16) and Epilogue (no chapter number). Only then return to chapter 1 and carry on. You are welcome.

Finally, this is a paperback that virtually demands that you underline words, mark passages, circle concepts, and make notes in the margins. Do have a good pen handy.

Scott’s interpretation achieves the credibility of a thesis that is superbly researched and reasoned; accordingly it merits the highest possible recommendation.

A Possible Problem For The Administration Of The ACA

Every self-respecting Utopian scheme has to have an enforcer — some agency that can compel obedience from folks who (for some crazy reason) want a measure of control over their lives. That’s why the US Internal Revenue Service was put in charge of collecting penalties from businesses that do not provide federally-approved insurance plans for their employees.

A “minor” detail was overlooked, however, for the ACA clearly and explicitly states that subsidies and penalties apply only in states that have created their own health care exchanges. Not all states have done that, so there’s no collecting money from employers in states without those exchanges. Not to be daunted by the letter of the law, the IRS is trying to impose penalties in all states. That blatantly illegal power grab has been dragged into federal courts, and the outcome is not likely to please the Obama administration.

If Obamacare and the IRS are forced to obey the law, the government will have a diminished ability to provide subsidies and compel compliance. Any national scheme that is not thoroughly intimidating is shaky at best. Moreover, the ethical principle of “equal justice under the law” can be mocked only so long…unless the government is itself unjust.

The situation is unstable in the extreme, for Obamacare has already made provision for the exclusion of The Ruling Elite and certain politically correct groups (which exemption is a variety of crony capitalism). That bad precedent has yet to draw heavy fire from the public, but the IRS power grab might touch off a firestorm of protest.

Putting the IRS in charge was a huge mistake — one of many, to be sure, but it just might prove to be the error that collapses Obamacare. Details are available here. (If that hyperlink does not work for you, use Google search to find this string: “isn’t allowed to assess the employer penalties”.)

Links

Russia has a long history of lusting after good seaports, so this should come as a logical step. A hat tip is owed to The Dean, JH.

Credibility: low.

Big government? Here’s why not.

This can’t be right!

A hat tip goes to reader GB for suggesting you give this little diversion a try.

Oops: the Arctic Ocean turns out to be politically incorrect. Al Gore will be furious when some brave soul tells him there’s no disaster coming, though the folks living on Kiribati should be tremendously relieved to learn the truth. Meanwhile the gullible alarmists and unconscionable horror-mongers at Business Week are not likely to be returning telephone calls (you read about those losers in the last NTG). Yes, indeed — oops!

Climate change in perspective. Thanks to reader GB for this.

Eventually NTG will get around to a book review that will shed some light on this topic.

This transparently cynical tactic is a result of the representative Obamite’s power-hungry mindset.

Just how corrupt are the Obama administration and its Democratic majority in the Senate? Well, they are this bent.

“…a level of incompetence rarely seen even in Washington DC.” Oh, my. It’s that Iran thing, you see….

Related: see events as they are, not as Obama and Kerry portray them. That means you should find out how the Iranians describe reality: “…in contrast to all the punditry of late in the international media, which says that these negotiations are a step toward peace between Iran and the United States — those who take this view are completely mistaken.” Now that’s not hard to understand…unless you want not to understand. Read it all.

This candor, which is implicitly critical of Obama, is unusual for the Washington Post. It’s hard to say whether the linked editorial is more important because it remarks on an unsatisfactory aspect of the recent deal with Iran or because it signals the media’s unease with their role as the administration’s lapdogs.

The masthead includes a quote from the works of Sidney Painter.

The staff of The New Terrapin Gazette expresses its sincere gratitude to the many people who have gifted the world with Slackware Linux, Emacs, and Firefox.

Publisher: The Eagle Wing Palace of The Queen Chinee.