Monday, May 23, 2011

A pause to ponder punditry

An oddity about my current employment situation is that I have never been this popular as a pundit before now.

On Friday, I was on Wisconsin Public Radio. The previous Sunday, I was on "Sunday Insight with Charlie Sykes," andEaster Sunday before that. The week before Palm Sunday, I was back on Wisconsin Public Radio. I have had more blog entries posted at now than I had when I was at the late Marketplace.

One reason is that my policy (even before March 30) has been to always accept media invitations. (A former colleague of mine called me a "media whore," and Sykes called me a "media ho," and to both I'd say I resemble those remarks.) Visibility is important (particularly when you're looking for your next job) in the 15-minutes-of-fame media universe. Almost no one knows me outside of Wisconsin, but thanks to the Ideas Network, the state's oldest TV station and this and my previous blog, I have some level of notoriety among the opinionators statewide.

Part of the reason is that, with this new blog, I'm writing m0re original pieces than at Marketplace. Depending on how busy my week was, I'd write between one and three original pieces, and the rest of the week would be taken up with repeating posts of others that I liked or found provocative or at least interesting.

Since I have this blog linked to Facebook (as well as LinkedIn and Twitter), I assume the people I have now Friended (including,  it seems, most of the members of the La Follette High School Class of 1983) and vice versa will find out that, wow, Presty is really a right-winger. (I've been a proud member of Hillary Clinton's Vast Right Wing Conspiracy since the 1990s.)

The thing, however, is that (1) I am perfectly capable of not talking about politics (the phrase "the personal is political" did not come from the right side of the political aisle), and (2) I have no problems arguing ideas because ideas are supposed to be argued, and the way one improves the process of delivering opinions is to debate opinions. And, now that I think of it, there is a (3): If you don't like a blog entry, don't read it.

For those who haven't read this blog before and wonder where my libertarian/conservative/anti-government ethos came from, it came to me at, of all places, church Sunday. (Yes, there was church Sunday, because The Rapture didn't happen Saturday.) The priest was talking about the PBS documentary "Freedom Riders," about the civil rights movement in the South in the 1950s and 1960s. I didn't see much of it, but I've seen videos and photos of police officers beating on protesters, bullwhips, police dogs, tear gas, etc., against nonviolent protesters.

Here's the punch line: The police were hired by a police chief who was hired by the duly elected representatives of the Southern city of your choice. Orval Faubus, George  Wallace, Lester Maddox and the other racist governors were all elected by the citizens of their state. (In Wallace's case, Alabama's solution for their gubernatorial term limits was to elect Wallace's first wife, Lurleen, as governor.) People who lacked any rational evidence beyond their own prejudice voted for politicians who created and enforced Jim Crow laws and stuck a giant middle finger at the U.S. Constitution, one hundred years after the end of the Civil War.

That is the face of democracy. So is interning Japanese Americans during World War II because, you know, there were just too many Americans of German descent to lock up all of them in internment camps. Your federal governmentinjected black men with syphilis just to see what would happen to them. The Vietnam war has both parties'  fingerprints all over it. Some municipal governments in this country think it's perfectly OK to take land away from its rightful owners because the politicians think they have a better use for that land. (And the U.S. Supreme Court stupidly reinforced government's right to eminent domain under the abominable Kelo v. New London decision.) And I live here in the birthplace of the Republican Party, whose founders started the GOP in an era where most Americans either thought slavery was a good thing or was none of their business.

Democracy is flawed, and our government is flawed — indeed, every human institution is flawed — because humans are involved. The Constitution was written not just to design our government, but to protect us from our government. The Bill of Rights gave the citizens the rights to free expression and ownership of guns and against unreasonable search and seizure and self-incrimination. Leave it to democracy, and as the saying goes, 51 percent of the people can vote to imprison 49 percent of the people.

I know who I don't want responsible for upholding or enforcing my rights. Ruth Conniff of The Progressive was perhaps more revealing than she thought she was being in Friday's discussion about voter ID. When I pointed out the list of things for which an ID is required, including getting a library card and cold medicine, she retorted that there is no constitutional right to buying cold medicine.

I had no idea Conniff was such a strict constructionist. That to me says that to Conniff, y0ur rights — such as your right to the medical treatment of your choice — are whatever the government says they are. (The pro-abortion-rights movement better figure out that the same government that gives the right to an abortion can take that right away.) If Conniff represents the prevalent attitude in the People's Republic of Madison, that would explain why I hate my hometown. (Which has changed, and not for the better, since my high school days anyway, as demonstrated by the first drive-by shooting at my high school shortly after I left Madison.)

This is not, by the way, an argument in favor of the GOP since the GOP infringes upon different rights from the Democrats. If you like government's stealing your money through taxes and wasted government spending, be a Democrat. (If you like government's stealing other people's money through taxes but not yours, you're a hypocrite.) If you like government's interfering with your personal life, be a Republican. If you like neither ... what is the answer to that?

Before Jesus Christ's birth, the psalmist wrote in Psalm 146:3, "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help." If you're expecting help from the government, regardless of who's in charge of that government, you've gone to the wrong place.

What new blog? The apocalyptic event known as my joining  Facebook was accompanied by advice to move my blog to WordPress. At the moment, I'm posting on both while I evaluate which works better for my purposes. One or the other, or maybe both, can be accessed via Twitter, my Facebook page or LinkedIn. You have been warned.

1 comment:

  1. As one of the biggest misnomers of our time goes... I'm from the government and I'm here to help.