Thursday, March 7, 2013


1. Proper Punctuation.

Mark Alger, who's been posting irregularly of late, provides us this morning with a test case for one's punctuating skills:

"The government has no legitimate interest in defining and controlling contraband and needs to have its hand slapped (at least) whenever it tries."

Do you see the subtle error in there? For persons unfamiliar with the more arcane rules of grammar, the period -- the "full stop," for our English, Canadian, and Australian cousins -- belongs immediately after the word "interest." The remainder should be reformulated into a second, independent sentence that provides further elucidation.

In this connection, Robert A. Heinlein's maxim about punctuation is apposite:

    The correct way to punctuate a sentence that starts: "Of course it is none of my business, but --" is to place a period after the word "but." Don't use excessive force in supplying such a moron with a period. Cutting his throat is only a momentary pleasure and is bound to get you talked about.

Proper Punctuation, Part 2.

"The government has no legitimate interest." That's just sufficiently obscure to demand a more expansive treatment, so here we go.

The United States of America was and is defined by its Constitution, a document drawn up under contractarian theory about proper relations between a government and those who live within its demesne. That theory makes the U.S. a constitutional federated republic. (Not a democracy, as is so commonly and mistakenly bruited about.) In such a republic, the government is an agent: a quasi-corporate entity contractually assigned certain duties and permitted certain legitimized powers with which to carry them out. An agent qua agent has no legitimate interests.

A brief example might make this clearer. Imagine that you've hired a gardener to look after your lawn and shrubs. You've detailed his duties to him as follows:

  • Keep the lawn cut to a three-inch height;
  • Keep the shrubs around the foundation of the house trimmed to a uniform thirty-inch height;
  • Keep the "hedge" shrubs that line the street frontage trimmed to a uniform seventy-two-inch height and trim any branches that protrude into the street.

Fairly clear, no? But one fine day not long afterward, you come home to find that your gardener has sculpted your "hedge" shrubs into a recreation of The Winged Victory Of Samothrace. In your attempt to remonstrate with him, he tells you that it was in his interest (whether personal or professional) to do so.

You'd fire him on the spot, wouldn't you? You might even sue him for the damage he did to your greenery. You surely wouldn't concede that his "interest" supersedes the duties you delineated for him as your contracted gardener.

In that relationship, the interests, as property owner, are yours and yours alone. So also is it with citizens and government in a contractarian nation:

  • The government has certain delineated duties;
  • It is granted carefully limited powers with which to discharge them;
  • All else is reserved to the sovereign private citizen.

Though the individuals who work for the government at any moment possess interests, they do so as individuals. When they exercise the powers allowed to the government, they are acting as agents, who must not be permitted to trespass beyond their agreed-upon duties and powers, and must be punished whenever they dare to do so.

That we've refrained from administering the proper chastisements at the proper times explains much about the current condition of the American polity, to say nothing about the woeful lack of decoration upon the lampposts of the District of Columbia.

3. Bad Faith.

Every federal elected official is sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States as a condition of his office. The majority of those officials, this century past, have been insincere in taking that oath. In a timely post, Mark Alger says it plainly:

A CALLER TO GARY-JEFF WALKER (sitting in for Brian Thomas) on the WKRC Morning Show last Thursday (it's on I Heart Radio, BTW, so you non-Cincinnatians can listen to it live) was trying to castigate Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA — warning: link takes you to a filthy statist crony-ist government web site) while simultaneously trying to sound reasonable and stipulating that "They may have started out wanting to do good things…" or words to that effect.

As far as I am concerned, this is morally equivalent to Marge Schott's, "Hitler started out good but went bad" gaffe of a few years back. We really need to stop ascribing positive motives to leftists. They don't have them. The entire rotten edifice of the Left is founded in bad faith and ill intent and there is no need -- or any benefit or propriety -- to pretend otherwise. We know they lie. So why do we trust them when they claim good motives?

This acquires even more force when we note that Senator Rand Paul's request for a "Sense of the Senate" resolution on whether the president has power, under the Constitution, to assassinate American citizens on American soil without due process of law, evoked an immediate objection from the Dishonorable Dick Durbin. Durbin was supported in his objection by the Democrat caucus, which was uneasy about going on record with anything that might limit the president's powers.

But then, "Democrat" and "bad faith" have been effectively synonymous for quite some time now. Not that the characterization wouldn't fit a good many Republicans, as well.

4. A Little Levity.

This joint can get awfully heavy, some times. Herewith, a bit of morning fun.

Regular Gentle Readers will already know that I rise from my coffin at 4:00 AM. That's not a preference but a necessity that's become a strong habit. Neither is it entirely pleasant to get out of bed in the dark and face myself in the mirror. I don't look good at my very best, and my visage at 4:00 AM is far from "my very best."

And so, upon arising this morning and confronting my image in the bathroom mirror, I emitted a brief but impassioned "yuck." The C.S.O. heard me and said, most eloquently, "Yuck?"

My reply: "Nothing, nothing. Just an early morning yuck."

And with that, I was off on one of my infrequent ("Thank God!" -- the C.S.O.) spasms of versification:

In the early mornin' yucks,
When the whole world looks like mud,
There's a rumblin' in my gut,
And my eyes are full of crud.
I'm a long way from the shop,
And I hate my commute so,
But my bills won't pay themselves,
So I guess I've gotta go.

Bombin' down the L.I.E.,
With a million other fools,
Crossin' lanes like there's no lines,
Don't these idjits know the rules?
Hope they've got somewhere to go,
Worth the risk to life and limb,
Can't be sure myself, and so,
Think I'll sing my fav'rite hymn.

Here I am now, once again,
In the cubicle called "mine."
Hackin' at some lousy code,
For the ninety-seventh time.
Guy who wrote it should be shot,
But the lucky bastard's gone.
And it's what they pay me for,
So I 'spose I'll just keep on.

Quittin' time don't come too soon,
Though my soul does yearn to split.
But there's stuff I've got to do,
Lots of supervisor shit.
Love to kick it to the curb,
But I need some heavy bucks,
So I'd best be pressin' on,
Despite the early morning yucks.

[With apologies to Gordon Lightfoot.]

And how has your day gone so far, Gentle Reader?


CGHill said...

Quite the nicest Lightfoot rewrite I've seen since, well, ever.

On the subject of truncating sentences at a more appropriate place, one of my readers has proposed the following Constitutional amendment: "Congress shall make no law."

Nice and terse, that.

chipmunk said...

I support that ammendment!