What Is To Be Done?

Wednesday, November 7, AD 2012

The narrative game has begun. One of the major memes we can expect to hear now that the GOP lost the presidential race is that “extremism” is to blame. Many of us know that it was absurd to label Mitt Romney “extreme” on anything. Even those on the other side willing to concede this point will say something like “the GOP is being held hostage by the extreme right” and “the Tea Party is to blame for the GOP defeat.” This is all, of course, complete nonsense, but many Republicans will buy it.

I honestly don’t know if it is possible to isolate and eliminate the factors that are ultimately responsible for Barack Obama’s reelection and Mitt Romney’s crushing defeat last night. What I do know is this: in 2004, President Bush was said to have won primarily because of a surge of evangelical voters who stormed the polls to defeat gay marriage initiatives in key swing states. Last night, voters approved gay marriage in three states and defeated two GOP Senate candidates because of remarks they made to the media about rape and abortion. Neither “extremism” in general or the “Tea Party” is to blame; commentators have been quick to point out that Akin was not a Tea Party choice and that perfectly moderate Republicans such as Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin went down in defeat last night.

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25 Responses to What Is To Be Done?

  • I have lived through worse electoral disasters than this: 1964, 1974, 1976 and 1992. The saving grace after each such defeat is that it tends to bring new faces and ideas to the fore and sharpens the party for future victories. That, and the Democrats always overreach, as they will this time. The party actually is in better shape at the state level across the nation than at any time during my life. Quite a bit of potential there.

    A good post Bonchamps and I will be coming up with some other practical suggestions for the way out of the political wilderness tomorrow.

  • Leadership. The country and the conservative cause is in sore need of a strong leader. Back in the Vietnam era while I was a candidate in Officer Candidate School, I’ll never forget the description of what a true leader is; “he can tell you he’s going to take you to hell and back and you look forward to the trip!” Now theologically we as Catholics, have an issue with the details of that, but here is a point to be made by the statement. In my lifetime only one President comes to mind who fills that bill.

    The demographics of the country are rapidly changing. I have never been comfortable with the Republican strident stand on immigration. I’m not advocating amnesty, but we do need to confront reality. There needs to be a documented guest worker program to start with. In a few years, Texas may well be a purple state.

  • . There needs to be a documented guest worker program to start with. :

    Rubbish. Either allow people to settle or send them home. You import indentured servants you are asking for trouble.

  • You know, I will be quite frank about this: I am sick to death of the implications behind criticisms of the GOP’s immigration positions.

    Hispanics who are here legally ought to be in favor of upholding the nation’s immigration laws. If their position is essentially that we ought to not enforce the laws or create new laws that do nothing to address the problems associated with mass immigration, we cannot possibly endorse it. It is criminal and immoral to do so, in fact.

    We are under no obligation to endorse open borders, lax enforcement, and the cultural disintegration of our country. We have other options besides appeasing La Raza and MEChA, you know.

  • This is the kind of stuff, Bonchamps, that you’re really good at analyzing and articulating. I may not agree completely with everything in your post, but you make good sense and your facts seem correct. And since I am a nuclear engineer and not a political scientist, I will defer to your wisdom in such matters.

  • So what is the answer to selling the Conservative position to blacks and latino’s? Enlighten me. How do we get there? Or perhaps you believe it doesn’t matter?

  • I don’t know how we get there. I know what we don’t do to get wherever “there” is, though.

    Ironically, getting tougher on border issues could swing some of the black vote our way. Who do you think takes all of their jobs? Our angle could be, “vote for us – you won’t get as much welfare, but you’ll definitely have greater job opportunities as we send your main competitors packing.”

    It’s one option, anyway. But I certainly will not acquiesce to the notion that we sacrifice our cultural and territorial integrity for the sake of voters in this country who believe that the laws are meaningless and will punish the party that tries to enforce them. If that’s what this country has come to, then no election will change anything.

  • I live in Florida. I quite frankly resent the accomodations to Hispanics with language. You live here, learn the language. Music in Spanish at Mass or diocesan functions drives me nuts. Our parish as a ministry supports the mission that works with the field workers who pick the vegetables and the fruit. Americans will not do the work. They are illegal, but without them the vegetable and fruit industries are not viable. They wouldn’t be able to compete with imports from Mexico and South America. That’s what I mean by a guest worker program. Know who they are and create a record.

    As to the rest of the latino community, we best recognize that their numbers are growing legally. They are becoming an ever growing percentage of the population. They vote. They have issues that need to be respected. They are by and large Catholic and family oriented. They are conservative and should be voting with us, but they are not.

  • And what are those issues, exactly?

    Open borders and handouts. That’s what they want.

  • Family oriented voters are concerned about having enough for living expenses whether or not the funds are earnings. It seems that this concern trumps all others. From Instapundit:

    ‘ “The first day of the ‘next 4 years’ is starting in a very auspicious fashion. First, the market crashes. Then, a major blue chip company, Boeing, just announced it would cut 30% of management jobs from 2010 levels. And finally, the US Treasury just added $24 billion in debt, or enough to fund Greece for over one year, sending the total debt load (the US is now at 103% debt/GDP) ever closer to the debt ceiling breaching $16.4 trillion.”

    Posted at 10:50 pm by Glenn Reynolds

    I QUESTION THE TIMING: A reader who works at Yale emails:

    I found it interesting that this email came out today from Yale benefits:

    Dear Colleagues:

    We would like to make you aware of a significant federally mandated change which will impact Yale’s healthcare flexible spending account benefit. Effective January 1, 2013, as a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the annual contribution limit will be capped at $2,500. Currently, the maximum amount of pre-tax dollars you can set aside in a healthcare flexible spending account is $12,000.

    As a participant who contributed $2,500 or more in 2012, we encourage you to keep this in mind as you begin to plan for your 2013 out-of-pocket medical, dental and vision expenses. You will soon have an opportunity to re-enroll in the flexible spending account benefit plan during Annual Benefits Enrollment (December 3-17). As a reminder, you have until March 15, 2013 to incur expenses against your 2012 contributions, and until April 30, 2013 to submit claims those for reimbursement. We hope that this grace period is helpful for maximizing your flexible spending benefit for 2012.

    If you have any further questions, please contact an Employee Services representative.

    What interesting timing! I did know about this, as a former CPA/tax accountant, but how many did?
    Today my husband came home and told me that his boss informed him today that a layoff is planned. Small aerospace/manufacturing plant.
    We are worried. We were worried before the election that if the direction didn’t change, we’d face an ugly economic future. It may already becoming true for our family.

    I think a lot of stuff will be coming out over the next few weeks and months that was carefully kept off the radar before Election Day. ‘

  • To answer Jerry’s question I think the state Republican parties are a big part of the problem. More than a few seem indolent or dysfunctional (Bob Michel syndrome). They are often exclusionary in orientation. The VA Repubs spend most of their time fighting with the :”non approved” conservative types. Their get out the vote effort in VA this election was pathetic as far as I could tell. I asked them a couple of times since they didn’t want Tea Party types then what voters were they seeking to make up the difference? Never got an answer. I fear the only remedy is to get some disaffected Dem operatives to run the effort. At least they know what they are doing. If the state and local party is doing nothing on outreach a Presidential candidate showing an ad is not very effective. You can’t show up once every four years and expect a warm welcome.

    Obama got his toughest media questions from the Hispanic media over Fast and Furious. Good grief what a missed opportunity for Romney and Ryan. Here the Admin that so loves Hispanics is covering up the murder of many many Mexicans by ATF provided weapons. Except for the first debate I don’t think Romney made much attempt to explain how his policies would be better for voters including Hispanics than the Democrats policies. Most of his ads were just awful. In a 2 party system you always need to remember voters have a choice.

    Bush 43 got plenty of Hispanic support. He spoke some bad Spanish but the Bushes had a Hispanic wife or two in the clan I believe, That kind of acceptance speaks volumes. The Dems co-opt community leaders to vouch for them. They set up media networks to promote the Dem party indirectly. They also try to make association with the Repubs a form of betrayal. That way they neutralize a Hispanic Repub. Did you see any outcry from Hispanics when Bush43’s AG Gonzalez got in trouble?

    Repubs also don’t call enough attention to Dem’s hostility to religion (except Sharia Islam).

  • PM my thoughts and prayers are with you. I’m very sorry for you and many others. This is purely a national self inflicted wound which makes it doubly frustrating. The same post election angst is occurring in Argentina and France who also have voted foolishly.

  • “They are by and large Catholic and family oriented.”

    this means nothing, it’s like saying that well-to-do suburban Democratic family is “conservative.” Conservatives said the same things about blacks during the Bush years, they’re more religious/socially conservative, we can get them to break. it’s not really that simple.

    the GOP will not outbid the Dems on immigration. That doesn’t mean we have to outright antagonize them/that no change is necessary, but we also don’t have to embrace a position that will earn us nothing with Hispanics and lose white working-class votes in the process

  • I think you insult the citizens of this country in your article. Mob rule? Free stuff ? How about the tens of thousands injured in the wars started by presedent bush ? Are those people just wanting free stuff from the gov.? Could it be the mothers fathers sisters brothers of the fallen who just voted the republicans ‘ s out? How about majority rule, as it should be. The country is way , way better off now than 4 years ago. Employment up, home prices up, stock market up, inovative companies, false war in Iraq over, bin laden dead. extremism not to blame for losses ha ? What planet are you on? You might as well say horendous acts against women in Afghanistan are not extreme . And I wouldn’t call a few hundred dollars a month in food stamps, which is literally just barely enogh to eat now and emergency access to a telephone endless entitlment .come on. I thought Christians were supposed to feed the hungry . Lol shrinkage of the base ha ha . Your words betray your fear . Of course its possible to figure out why republicans lost, its all over the news god your in your own little world . Time to grow up , Jesus thought outside his box , maybe you could as well . Sorry excuse for an article bud .

  • With respect, there are many palatable ways to turn the immigration problem on its head, to turn it from a losing to a winning issue for Republicans. However, we can’t respond to every proposal as though what is good for aliens is bad for America. Whether you accept it or not, our future is as tied to theirs as it has ever been.

    For example: the technology non-immigrant visa is, for the most part, the H1B. It is on this visa that most of the IT workers enter the US to underbid US jobs.

    It can get complicated but, at its core, the process entails a company filing a petition for a worker and demonstrating that 1) they have tried to fill the post and couldn’t, 2) they have work for them to do, 3) the company can pay the prevailing wage, and 4) bringing in a worker won’t violate union rules. Sounds reasonable.

    The problem is that the system was established for “brick and mortar” enterprises in the old economy. The underlying assumption is that there is A job at A location, like designing medical equipment at a plant. IT doesn’t work that way and, so, the H1B system has to be twisted to fit this important sector of the economy.

    There is rampant fraud but most is subtle and disastrous for the US economy. A common scheme is for an Indian company to send a few representatives to the US to set up an US corporation. They, in turn, petition for highly skilled computer professionals from their own corporation. They then establish a servicing contract with the foreign corporation to show cash flow. The petitioned-for aliens are then installed at large US corporations to look for work that can be outsourced to the Indian company.

    On paper, everything looks legit… US corporation? Check. Cash flow? Check. Contract requiring a worker? Check. Only it isn’t legit. The worker isn’t a $62,000/year Programmer Analyst, they are a $120,000/year manager, finding work that can be outsourced.

    So, accept for a moment that I am being truthful… That little tale should make your blood boil. It does mine and that it plays out tens of thousands of times a year concerns me greatly.

    We can get mad and insist on wiping out the program altogether but that argument, right or wrong, will never garner more than fringe support. We can impotently rage against the Indians but that is mean and stupid. We can throw up our hands – as Congress does but that just gives legislative consent to the slight of hand.

    The cleverest remedy I’ve heard is also the simplest: eliminate the petition provision so that workers can work wherever they want, for whomever they want and let the market control their wages. I favor this proposal for two reasons: any rule of law that encourages deceit is a bad rule and greed is a sound foundation for market systems.

    Whatever the IT workwr’s loyalty, they know what they can get in the open market. The Indian corporations would have to compensate sufficiently to keep that worker working for them. US corporations, unable to get discounted labor from overseas would have to at least conside hiring US workers and paying them fairly and training in-house. Finally, you wipe out the economic insentive for the dummy corporations that make the fraud work.

    There are lots of changes to immigration systems that yield high economic dividends for the US economy and advance the interests of legitimate immigrants. We won’t reach them though if we on the Right react negatively to immigrants generally and immigration proposals as though they are inherently bad because they benefit immigrants.

  • Ben,

    I approved your pathetic comment just to pick it apart for fun. I wish I didn’t have so much time on my hands.

    “I think you insult the citizens of this country in your article. Mob rule? Free stuff ?”

    Yes, you know, the stuff Obama pays for from his “stash”, i.e. our tax dollars, things like free birth control for Sandra Fluke. Yes, mob rule, the people who threatened to riot and murder if Romney was elected. I know the media outlets you likely frequent don’t bring such things to your attention. Time to leave the MSM bubble perhaps. Google is your friend.

    “How about the tens of thousands injured in the wars started by presedent bush ? Are those people just wanting free stuff from the gov.?”

    Who said anything about that? Let me clue you in: as anyone who frequents TAC will tell you, I am opposed to Bush’s wars and think all troops should be brought home immediately. Sorry to burst your bubble on that one. And veterans are entitled to benefits, because national defense and related matters fall under the Constitutionally legitimate duties of the federal government. I know its hard for you to imagine a consistent political philosophy, but it does exist, I do espouse it, and you should look before you leap and make assumptions about others.

    “Could it be the mothers fathers sisters brothers of the fallen who just voted the republicans ‘ s out?”

    The military usually goes Republican. I know some soldiers. They’re all either GOP supporters or 3rd party. And they all despise Obama.

    “How about majority rule, as it should be.”

    Who said anything against it?

    “The country is way , way better off now than 4 years ago.”

    Excuse me while I finish LMAO.

    “Employment up,”

    Real unemployment is higher than it has been since FDR’s administration – 17% and rising.

    “home prices up,”

    They had nowhere to go but up, and it has nothing to do with Obummer’s policies. They would have gone up under McCain too.

    “stock market up,”

    The stock market tanked as soon as Obama’s reelection was called. So did the dollar, because the rest of the world knows that Obama will print trillions more dollars, creating imaginary money to pay for political fantasies.

    “inovative companies,”

    ::laughs hysterically::

    “false war in Iraq over,”

    Bush began the withdrawal process, and Obama is murdering innocent children with drones in Pakistan. Your president is as much a warmonger as W.

    “bin laden dead.”

    Well, I’m a crazy conspiracy theorist. I think he died in 2002 or sometime shortly thereafter, having already been on kidney dialysis well before that, and that whomever they bagged wasn’t bin Laden. We’ll never know, since Seal Team 6 was, on an entirely unrelated note, placed on a defective, outdated helicopter that blew up and killed them all.

    “extremism not to blame for losses ha ? What planet are you on?”

    No, poor discipline is to blame. Discipline is required to defeat the kind of people who mislead simple people, like yourself.

    “You might as well say horendous acts against women in Afghanistan are not extreme .”

    Huh?

    “And I wouldn’t call a few hundred dollars a month in food stamps, which is literally just barely enogh to eat now and emergency access to a telephone endless entitlment .”

    Its endless when it doesn’t end, when it becomes a way of life sustained by the labor of others.

    “come on. I thought Christians were supposed to feed the hungry .”

    Yeah. We’re supposed to do it as a free act of love, not because men with guns and badges will throw us in prison if we don’t.

    “Lol shrinkage of the base ha ha . Your words betray your fear . Of course its possible to figure out why republicans lost, its all over the news god your in your own little world . Time to grow up , Jesus thought outside his box , maybe you could as well . Sorry excuse for an article bud .”

    Well, given the level of basic grammar and command of the relevant political facts, I don’t think I’m going to take your criticism too poorly.

  • “home prices up,”

    “They had nowhere to go but up, and it has nothing to do with Obummer’s policies. They would have gone up under McCain too.”

    How true. Most homes around the nation during the reign of the Southside Messiah have lost 20 to 30 percent of value. I would wager that Ben does not own a home.

  • Sure he does… If by “own” you mean “borrow” and by “home” you mean “mother’s basement.”

  • Seriously though, “you can’t fix stupid” and the West is becoming increasingly stupid.

    Ignorance can be addressed in individuals. It tend to think of the word in a positive way, as in “I don’t know anything about that. Could you tell me something more so that I am not as ignorant?”

    Stupid strikes me as willful: as iin “I voted for Obama because Romney didn’t have an economic plan.” You see, in this statement, I betray that 1) having an economic plan is not really a requirement or I’d know that Obama didn’t present one and 2) I know that having an economic plan would be a positive thing for a candidatet but I choose to not investigate the matter.

    People are ignorant until they are informed but you can’t inform the stupid.

    The GOP can’t reach the stupid and we shouldn’t try, lest we be dragged down to their inarticulate, carping fom the sidelines of life existence. Don’s post above, forgive me for paraphrasing, calls for the GOP to inform, to correct ignorance. We simply can’t fix the Ben’s of the world; only He who let the blind man see can.

  • The analysis needs to go further. The very conversation itself here is using Liberal Democrat terms and concepts. Class designations are the tools of the left and the GOP cannot win any debate using concepts and descriptions created by the enemy.

    Republicans need to create a brand new paradigm from the ground up, standing on the principle of servant leadership, using the essences of Scriptural wisdom. No more collectivist terminology regarding race, sex, or any other demographic facet. That language must be continually attacked as dehumanizing and insulting to the sanctity of the individual person, from conception to natural death.

    The whole “War on Women” theme could have been wiped off the map, simply by saying “Our mothers, sisters and daughters are, like our fathers, brothers and sons, full and necessary participants in a society whose goals are civil prosperity, secure families and communities, and respect for every individual person regardless of station or circumstance. If all you believe women to be are mobile genitals, then you have that right, but we take a higher view.” Not just once, but time after time after time, from male and female spokespeople, and every variation on the theme should have been based on that principle.

    As well, compartmentalization of issue is a Leftist weapon. It must be recognized that all issues today, from business overregulation to gay marriage, are inter-connected and that by appealing to the commonality that all share – while pointing out the politically-motivated faux issues created by the left to maintain class warfare and societal division – the whole tone of the battle can be changed.

    The media will be the easiest target since they’re the least intellectually nimble of the bunch. All that’s needed are disciplined, principled and consistent answers to any given challenge on any given aspect of the paradigm, and the respondent silence will speak as loudly as any other potential reaction. Akin and Mourdock failed because they were politicians and not principled public servants. The GOP can turn those losses into huge gains by learning and applying the lessons. They must take the example of Edmund Burke, as posted today by Don, of service before office and the nobility of sacrifice of privilege for the sake of principle. This will be the greatest weapon, if in fact the Republicans can find enough principled people to wield it.

  • And THAT, WK Aiken is the best articulation of the issue I’ve seen in years. Thank you!

  • Bonchamps, you overgeneralize the “Hispanic” vote as badly as the Democrats. Hispanics are the single largest demographic in Texas, yet Texas voted red as blood. Ted Cruz is a Tea Party candidate and considered “extreme” right.

    Aiken is right – dump the demographic paradigm. Clinton was right – it is the economy. The GOP did not do enough on calling out the MSM on their lies about the state of the economy. I would have taken EVERY announcement of job cuts over the last four years and put that front and center.

  • Rozin @ 11:56: That comment was only an observation for the demographic discussion, meaning that it seems that living expenses are a basic concern for voters across the differing constituencies, not a personal statement about my preferences. The D campaign used the strength of that interest in a different way from the R campaign. Each side ‘scared’ the other as to income security, so I thought it might be something to look at by campaign planners. That for the good thought though.

  • You know, I will be quite frank about this: I am sick to death of the implications behind criticisms of the GOP’s immigration positions.

    Agreed.

    Bonchamps, you overgeneralize the “Hispanic” vote as badly as the Democrats. Hispanics are the single largest demographic in Texas, yet Texas voted red as blood. Ted Cruz is a Tea Party candidate and considered “extreme” right.

    The “Hispanic” vote means that section that votes on open borders and support for the same. It doesn’t include the folks who vote conservative because that’s the world-view they have, same way that I’m not part of the “women’s vote”– abortion, birth control and single parenthood support– because I am a conservative.
    That is what the terms mean when the Dems use them, and if we talk about taking that group, we’re about the same sub-section.

    The GOP deals with what people think instead of what they were born. Buying into the Dem’s “born that way” mindset is dangerous, and seems to be getting more popular. (followed by those buying in being unable to figure out why they’re not as good at it as the guys they’re copying)

  • There was nothing wrong with Romney. We lost because of turnout – period. The democrats have a great ground game going now. The republicans are still relying on the appeal of common sense. It does not work this way. A community organizer can beat a republican time and time again.

    How do we rebound? We need to get organized and galvanized around a single carefully selected leader. We need to stop thinking of our individual causes and start thinking about whether this country will exist for our children and grandchildren.

Wednesday’s Narratives

Monday, November 5, AD 2012

By Wednesday morning, we will likely know who the 45th president of the United States is. I say “likely” because it possible that we won’t know due to all kinds of logistical problems associated with tallying elections. Assuming there is a clear winner, though, we will hear different narratives from different camps about the significance of the outcome. Here is what I am thinking we may see.

If Obama wins…

Conservatives will blame Romney, if the margin of defeat is incontestable. His perceived increase in likability will be swept under a tide of commentaries about his remoteness and inability to connect with the average voter. He will join the ranks of GOP losers such as Bob Dole and John McCain and will, hopefully, fade away. If the margin of defeat is extremely narrow, moderate Republicans will probably take the changing demographics narrative to heart while hard conservatives will blame either a) Mitt’s moderation in policy and tactics, which will have proved unable to motivate the base and get out the vote, and/or b) claims of voter fraud and other shenanigans on the part of the Obama camp. In either case, the atmosphere of despair and hopelessness will be thick and heavy, especially in the face of Democratic triumphalism.

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13 Responses to Wednesday’s Narratives

  • A technicality. If there is a 45th President tomorrow it will have to be Romney. If Obama is Chavezed back into office he would remain the 44th .

  • Out of curiosity, if Romney wins tomorrow, Obama could run again in 2016, right?

  • Yes he could but by then he would be campaigning for the UN Secretary General position.

  • Yes he could, although he has indicated that win or lose this is his last campaign. I believe him on that. He has been truly the unhappy warrior in this campaign, one of the reasons why I think he will lose.

  • Good one Rozin.

    Did you see Tebow’s Tweet?

    “I’m predicting Obama will take an early lead tomorrow… Until all the Republicans get off work.”

  • I am just praying for Romney to win. I really care little about anything else in following election results. I think we’ll have a good idea who will be the winner sometime between 7 and 9 pm. Please, dear Lord Jesus!

  • If Romney loses, the Republicans will have to change or die. This should be a Romney landslide, but the Republicans have a major demographic problem in that they are not winning minorities and the gender gap is persistent.

    “The demographics race we’re losing badly,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.). “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

  • Fortunately, Pelosi and Obama created enough angry white guys, and women, and lots of “demographics” this go around.

    Where do you get this stuff?

    Sheesh!

  • JB “If Romney loses, the Republicans will have to change or die. ”

    You didn’t say what they are supposed to change into. They should be doing better with Latinos and even slightly better with African Americans but they refuse to go after them on conservative principles. They will never out pander the Dems although DC Repubs are convinced otherwise. If you just mean get more minority office holders they already started doing that under Bush43. Perhaps Rubio would have been a better choice for Veep but his appeal to non Cubans is untested. Of course the Dems are afraid of that and try to irradiate such people. But if the Repubs don’t fight the ideology of Leftism head on they will never make much progress I’m afraid.

  • I presume we are all on here as Christians who defend and believe in the Ethic of Life from womb to tomb. Our concern is not as partisans of any Party as the Jesus agenda trumps all of that. regardless of who wins the POTUS role, or of the composition of Congress, we face the challenge, and privilege of converting the electorate, and the elected to that Natural Law. For now on sexual morality values, we have a tough time with the Dems. For the GOP and the Dems we have a tough time with the role of government, and the package of social issues that are helped or hindered by how taxes are raised and spent.

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  • I think the more interesting split is between conservative and moderate Republican reactions.

Election 2012: One Last Argument for Mitt

Thursday, November 1, AD 2012

The election is almost upon us, and many of us have made up our minds as to whom we are going to vote for, or whether we will even bother to vote at all. On the slight chance that someone from the ever-shrinking pool of undecided voters in a critical county in a vital swing state stumbles upon this blog post, the even less likely chance that they are Catholic, and the even less likely chance that their Catholic faith informs their political conscience, I’ll make one last appeal for a GOP vote.

I say a GOP vote, and not a Romney vote, because a) the most important issue at stake in this election really only depends upon which party, not individual man, is in power, and b) many people on the fence probably aren’t very enthused about Romney the man. I’ll admit that even as someone who has made up his mind, I am still not enthused. Granted, Romney isn’t as awful as many of us imagined him to be before he took Obama to the woodshed in the first presidential debate, it still isn’t easy to joyfully rally to his banner. He lacks the consistency and commitment to principle of the enigmatic Ron Paul, a pretty old guy who manages to get thousands of  modern American 20-somethings to care about things other than themselves, which is nothing short of miraculous in its own right. Still, he has emerged as a capable enough candidate for the highest office in the land. But let’s return to the issues.

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18 Responses to Election 2012: One Last Argument for Mitt

  • Permit me to say:
    WE HAVE LEARNED OUR LESSON!!

    Contrary to what Muslim apologist Obama, the progressive liberal agenda, and their adoring media want you to believe America is still a Christian nation in spite of all their ill begotten and somewhat successful efforts to lead us away from the God we proclaimed in our founding documents and in whom we have placed our trust for two hundred and fifty years making us the most generous defender of freedom and champion of peace in the history of the world.

    It has taken an electorate, deceived by media hype and the slick talk of a community organizer with a snake oil political platform built on the sand of Marxist social justice and constructed with inverted racism packaged as hope and change for a better future, four years to realize their tragic mistake but we are there now and the curtain of corruption has been lifted revealing the true and obvious nature of the beast of bureaucratic socialism set to use the next four years to finish the destruction of our country by virtual dictatorship of the most anti-Christian regime ever to occupy the White House. It must not happen.

    Over the years we have gone to every corner of the globe giving every ounce of blood sweat and tears it took to rid the world of tyrants in the name of freedom. Many of those were by all means monsters of madness which sprang up on distant shores but the one we face today has had the audacity to raise its ugly head from within our own house by cleverly deceiving the trust and compassion of, yes¸ the Christian majority of the nation wanting to show the world how tolerant and unbiased we had become. We were foolishly betrayed. That will not happen again this November, we have learned our lesson Christians.

    Bill Sr.

  • Watching the movie “The Hope and the Change” last night gives me some comfort in knowing that those who thought they were voting for a messiah have taken off their rose-colored glasses and faced reality. Let it be Lord, that with the wake up call of Sandy and Benghazi we may vote our consciences, informed and conformed, by the Truth.

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  • Bill Sr.

    You Are Permitted!
    Awaken the sleepers.
    Blow a trumpet.
    Defend our freedoms.
    By God let the poles resound with a cry; “In this Nation we serve God by living the ten commandments and giving testimony that Jesus Christ is King!”
    It is and will always be…Our Father who art in Heaven / Not our father who art in Washington.
    We have reached the precipice.
    We will change direction and repent. Or we will fall.
    Lord have Mercy.

  • I disagree about the missile shield comment. We have a right to defend ourselves. That being said, I have no objection to sharing missile defense technology with the Russians. After all, it’s not an offensive weapon system. Why can’t we work together to defend our individual countries against rouge states like Iran? Hey, if we’re not supposed to engage in wars of adventurism in lands of Islamic fascism for access to mineral slime (otherwise known as oil), then why can’t we defend ourselves from the weapons that these mad men will eventually and inevitably get?

    BTW, want to stop wars in the Mid-East? Go nuclear and stop buying their accursed oil! Stop financing them! We can generate plenty of our own liquid fuels from our own American coal using the heat of nuclear energy from our own uranium and thorium, or alternatively switch over to cleaner hydrogen from nuclear energy. Stop the corporate socialism! Stop financing Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Gulf and all the rest! Treat all energy companies the same: just like nuclear, you don’t get to dump your trash into the environment, and just like nuclear, you get to finance your own self in the free market. This is simple: no more govt loans for anything. No more govt protection for anything. Just common sense regulation applied equally to everyone to protect the public. OK – enough of my diatribe. I am waaaayyyyy off track.

    Overall, good post, Bonchamps, even though I disagree about a few things.

  • “We have a right to defend ourselves”

    The missile shield doesn’t defend us. It eliminates Russia’s first strike capability, which puts it in a weaker geopolitical position and increases the potential for a conflict with NATO. Really it is time to dismantle NATO.

    Even with oil out of the equation, there are still self-righteous imperials who believe that the majority of Muslims harbor a secret wish to live in a Western-style democracy and eat at McDonalds, and that it is our duty to ensure that they are able to do so.

    “Go nuclear and stop buying their accursed oil!”

    After Fukushima, the after-effects of which still threaten all life on Earth, I’m a little less enthusiastic about the prospect of building more nuclear power plants. However, I think Palin had it right when she said “drill baby drill.” Drill it all up, as far as I’m concerned.

  • Fukushima happened because the plants were built next to the shore line without sea wall protection for the air intakes to the emergency diesel generators. So after the tsunami struck, the diesel intakes were flooded and AC electricity was lost. The plants were on the batteries that last only 8 hours. When the batteries died, the power to the governor controls for the steam inlet valves to the High Pressure Coolant Injection was lost. Those valves went shut. The HPCI steam turbines stopped, making their pumps stop. That resulted in a loss of core cooling. Eventually core heatup resulted in a zinc water reaction that produced the hydrogen gas which subsequently detonated. In spite of ALL of this, only SIX people died outright from Fukushima, and they were plant employee volunteers. NO MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC DIED FROM FUKUSHIMA. But a nearby town of 17000 people was completed flooded by a failure of the hydro-electric dam that cracked and crumbled from the Sendai Earthquake that caused the tsunami. And the natural gas and oil refinery tanks in the Chiba Prefecture burned for TEN DAYS, spewing their never ever to decay away toxic carcinogens into the environment. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of people died, but NOT from nuclear. Additionally, the NEW Westinghouse AP1000 and GE ESBWR passive safety designs obviate this ENTIRE failure scenario. These designs have 72 hour submarine type batteries and do NOT require electricity for emergency core cooling. Additionally, their spent fuel pools are located BELOW grade unlike the Mark 1 BWR containments at the Fukushima plants. I personally KNOW this because I worked on ESBWR and at a BWR and at a PWR for 30 plus years. One last thing: the safety upgrades that US plants did in the 1980s were offered to the Japanese, but they decided not to implement them. Now they got Fukushima, and your suggestion is no nukes, making them MORE reliable on dangerous fossil fuel failures like one that happened in the Chiba Prefecture. Kindly stick to Ron Paulism. it’s what you’re good at. I am a nuclear engineer and know what I am talking about. The Japenese screwed up – period. God help them. And donate to the nuclear workers at Fukushima instead of complaining.

  • Sorry for the spelling / grammar errors. Hate this I- Pad. Neverthless, I know what I am talking about. 30 years of training and experience. I am not lying. I am not misrepresenting the facts. I am a nuclear professional. AndI will defend the safest and cleanest form of energy God gave man with the same vigor that Inapply to other topics here at TAC or anywhere else for that matter.

  • Folks,

    Now that I have calmed down – there is very good information on the response of the US commercial nuclear industry to Fukushima here:

    http://www.nei.org/keyissues/fukushima-response/

    Please click on the various daughter links to learn more.

    For the passive safety features of the new GE-Hitachi ESBWR design, please go here and use the media gallery to view an interactive video:

    http://www.ge-energy.com/products_and_services/products/nuclear_energy/esbwr_nuclear_reactor.jsp

    For the passive safety features of the new Westinghouse AP-1000 design, please go here and use the on-screen instructions to view the various animations:

    http://ap1000.westinghousenuclear.com/station_blackout_home/

    A Fukushima event in the US is very, very, very unlikely, but failures from hydro-electric dams that can threaten millions are likely, as are explosions of natural gas pipelines. We should also note that 30,000 people die annually in the US from fossil fuel pollution due to particulate emissions from coal-fired power plant plants and other fossil fuel emitters.

    I can provide more information on spent fuel if need be, but the answer is the same: it’s safe – use spent fuel in fast neutron burner reactors like the GE-Hitachi PRISM or the Carlo Rubbia Energy Amplifier to consume the long lived actinides and leave only short lived ash residue. But waste from fossil fuel – including oil and natural gas – kills.

  • One last thing, Folks:

    Ash and other residue from coal fired power plants that supply 50% of US electricity releases more radioactivity into the environment in the form of naturally occurring uranium, thorium and radium than any US nuclear power plant does.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste

    http://www.uswag.org/usgsradash.pdf

    http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html

    But in spite of that, the amount of radiation released to the public does NOT constitute a danger. What does constitute a danger are the carginogens that burning coal, natural gas and oil release, but Bonchamps motto is, “Drill, baby, drill.” My motto is: “Recycle the spent nuclear fuel and stop dumping your fossil fuel excrement in the air that I breath.”

  • You don’t have the right to insult me on my own blog, so your offensive comment was deleted.

    Look, I’ve read what I’ve read about Fukushima. I’m sure your expertise is extensive and your opinions educated and valid. There are others who are equally if not more experienced and educated who disagree. My positions on energy aren’t set in stone and final – its not really a moral issue like abortion – and I am able and willing to change my views as new information comes to my attention.

    Now that you know this, kindly refrain from insults, hysterical CAPITAL LETTERS, and multiple postings on posts of mind that mention energy in passing.

  • Fine, Bonchamps, but when something is said wrong about Fukushima or the US nuclear industry, I will correct it. Kindly read the link to NEI that I provided. One goes to a brain surgeon for brain surgery and to a rocket scientist for a rocket. One should go to the nuclear engineers at NEI and the NRC for Fukushima and not the news media or the anti-nuke kooks (didn’t say you did). To get back to the topic of this post, Mitt Romney is a viable candidate in part because he does support a sane energy policy that includes nuclear as well as fossil energy. Nuclear is best. Fossil is better than no energy, but not nearly as good as nuclear. Mitt Romney is sane about these things. Obama and his support for useless wind and solar energy is not. And yes, energy policy can be a moral issue when tens of thousands die from fossil fuel pollution every year and those deaths can be prevented or minimized by increasing the percentage of nuclear used in the energy mix, which Romney will do. It is one of many reasons why I support Romney, which is the topic of this post. But wheverever nuclear is mentioned, people cite Fukushima, Chernobyl and TMI, and the explanations on these are complex and involved and difficult to understand to a person who knows nothing about radiation, nuclear engineering and related sciences. Too often the people making the initial comments don’t know anything about what they are commenting on – not their fault, they just haven’t been trained in science properly, thanks to our school system (a different topic for a different day). That said, Romney for President!

  • PS, I should not have used the word ignorant in a previous comment, Bonchamps. I apologize sincerely. It would have been better to have said misinformed instead of using emotionally charged terminology that is now regretted.

  • I’d say anything that can defensively eliminate Russia’s first strike capability, or any other nation’s with which we do not have aligned interests, is in the best interest of the US and its citizens.

    But as to the thrust of the post, Amen.

  • As a former nuclear submarine reactor operator, I agree with Paul D. Defense against aggression is always moral. I recommend Dr. Jerry Pournelle’s “The Strategy of Technology.” He was Ronald Reagan’s science advisor on the Strategic Defense Initiative. And Romney’s support for SDI is another reason to vote for Romney. He won’t sell out to the Russians.

  • One thing that can be said about Mitt Romney is that he will almost certainly and hopefully immediately eradicate these policies.

    Almost and hopefully. How reassuring. That said, I suppose it’s better than the persecution full steam ahead by the O.

    I am almost as PaulBot as one can be, but I agree w/ Paul on the nukes. France is what, 70-80% nuke, and I don’t recall hearing anything about them. Why look to Japan rather than France as the model, particularly given that the US has far more geographical choice about placing the plants than Japan does?

  • and by the second Paul, I meant Paul Primavera, obviously.

  • Thank you, C Matt. The new French socialist President is against nukes – no surprise there. He wants to de-nuke France to 50%. Foolish. I will write about this whole thing on my blog and post the link here to that discussion, but that’s not the topic of Bonchamps post and we should respect that. However, the statement Bonchamps made – “After Fukushima, the after-effects of which still threaten all life on Earth…” – is an example of anti-nuclear propaganda (no offense against Bonchamps intended) and unsubstantiated by web links to reputable nuclear engineering resources. As a nuclear engineerof 30+ years and a former submarine reactor operator, I know the statement to be demonstrably incorrect. I posted web links to reputable sources. Science is science and not open to public opinion. Not Bonchamps fault. He isn’t a nuclear engineer. We can’t expect an expert in one area to be an expert in all. And I should respect him and not use terms like “ignorant.” Confession time for me. But I can’t discuss more here since it’s not on topic. Romney for President and a sane energy policy that embraces nuclear power! OK, gotta go to Neutrons ‘R Us and keep your lights on and your refridgerators running!

Enough is Enough: Rape Babies Don’t Deserve Death

Sunday, October 28, AD 2012

Thank the Good Lord I am not a politician. If I were running for office, what I am about to write would undoubtedly cause me to plummet in the polls and induce a heart attack for my campaign manager. It is up to us – bloggers, polemicists, wags, editorialists, etc. – to say plainly and boldly what politicians cannot say. By now hundreds if not thousands of us on the pro-life side of the spectrum have weighed in on the mountain that the Obama campaign and the leftist media have made out of the molehill of the “rape exception” that many self-identified pro-lifers hold. FYI: it is a molehill not because rape is no big deal, but because less than 1% of abortions are performed on rape babies. I don’t know if what I have to say will be different from what you have read, but I’m about to douse this issue in gasoline and light a match, so check yourselves now.

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17 Responses to Enough is Enough: Rape Babies Don’t Deserve Death

  • ” … I believe penalties for rape should be severe enough to serve as a real deterrent, which they never will as long as left-wing lawyers and judges dominate the judicial system. I believe radical pro-choice outfits should stop harassing pro-life pregnancy centers and other organizations that are out there providing millions of women with financial, social and emotional support. …”

    Add on severe penalties for life-threatening criminal activity in general, and watch them think before acting.

    Harassment is becoming something dangerous, as this election season is revealing it. We have leaders so irresponsible as to incite their base, rather than to caution about right and wrong or to give them credit for brains.

    The Richter Scale has numbers that apply exponentially to damage potential. The law does not. Killing children, and using Roe v. Wade for political gain and division of citizens, is not high-minded or related to peace.

  • Ditto, Bonchamps! – “Well, how about this: I support the second amendment rights of women, so that they can obtain weapons and defend themselves. I support laws that allow them to do so with lethal force and without fear of juridical reprisal. I believe penalties for rape should be severe enough to serve as a real deterrent, which they never will as long as left-wing lawyers and judges dominate the judicial system. I believe radical pro-choice outfits should stop harassing pro-life pregnancy centers and other organizations that are out there providing millions of women with financial, social and emotional support. And at the end of the day, I don’t believe that women who actually go through with an abortion under such circumstances should be thrown in prison, but I do believe that the medical frauds who kill babies for a living should be tossed into a dungeon and the keys jettisoned into outer space.”

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  • I’ve got a rather scathing response about my knowledge of basic biology meaning that I recognize an embryo is human from conception, and likewise is alive, and that if I were going to kill someone involved in a rape it would be the rapist, not someone who has the horrible luck to be genetically related to him.

  • Not doubting your 1% statistic but wondering where it comes from? I have heard it often but have never seen a source.

  • The less than 1% result keeps showing up, even in pro-abortion studies.

    Victims suggest that 1) a lot of rapes resulting in pregnancy aren’t reported, and 2) abortion makes it worse for the victim. (Shocker, women aren’t stupid just because they were raped.)

  • Great post. I agree with your statement that the vast majority of people are morally inconsistent. You’re also correct that people who make policy statements in public don’t have the excuse of not having thought the matter through.
    For this reason, I believe that politicians who claim to be pro-life, yet condone killing babies conceived during rape (like Mourdoch’s opponent) are not sincerely pro-life.
    The logical distance between acknowledging that life begins at conception and its protection no matter how it came to be is so short that the smallest amount of contemplation should be sufficient to make the jump. I think the pro-life movement would be well served by an information campaign to push this.
    Inconsistent politicians have no logical excuse. I believe that politicians who hold “semi” pro-life positions do so for purely political reasons (coughRomneycough).

  • What is to be said to those who have bought into the entire lie that pro-abortion advocates claim is the reason for safe and legal abortion? Those who have been decieved and brain washed are so misguided by those they believe that the words of those who wish to give them the correct information and guidance are regarded as extremist who are waging a war against women. The information that is presented to them shows them the truth but they do not recognize the truth. All they see is what there are told. I have relatives who are very close to me who I have had “discussions” with about abortion who listen and at that moment hear the truth and recognize it and agree with what they are being shown yet afterwards they still vote for the party that continues to lie to them. So once again.
    What is to be said to those who have bought into the entire lie that pro-abortion advocates claim is the reason for safe and legal abortion?

  • Richard,

    If the people you are speaking to “hear the truth and recognize it and agree with what they are being shown”, as you put it, and yet remain obstinate in their pro-abortion beliefs, there is nothing more you can say. Such people believe that ignoring the truth has no consequences and so they wallow in their indifference.

    But I believe God will punish indifference with more severity than outright evil.

  • First Person Account: A devout Catholic young woman was raped by a hired hand on her father’s farm in the 1930’s. Imagine the disgrace. A devout Catholic man met her and realized the severity of the situation and that he also had loved this young woman for some time. He asked her to marry him! He told her he would adopt the child as his own. Imagine the disgrace for him. Stories flew for years and years with the gossips of the small community. Many people thought they “had to get married”. You know you just did not talk about such things in those days. “They” had a baby girl which they named after the woman who “wiped” the face of Jesus. This couple went on to have 12 more children. This couple was married for 60 years. They both died the most beautiful deaths I have ever witnessed. On his deathbed his last words were, “eye has not seen, ear has not heard what God has ready for those who love Him”. “Their” little girl went on to have a wonderful family of 9 children and her husband has been a champion for the Right to Life”. She has passed now, and her husband is dying of cancer. They have 30 grandchildren many of whom are adopted. Most of who are practising Catholic or members of fundamental churches. Her life was inportant just as the woman who “wiped” the face of Jesus. And we have always thought we had our “own” St. Joseph example in our lives. Pity the world.

  • Very moving Jeanne. No rapes in my family history that I am aware of, but my mother was born out of wedlock in 1936. My grandmother rolled up her sleeves, went to work, and my mom was raised by her grandmother while her mom worked during the day. Money was often tight, the big treat each week was on Saturday night when my mom and my grandmother would each have a cookie and a glass of milk, but love was in abundance. Love usually finds a way to triumph over all adversities.

  • People make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes are sexual ones (anyone here not make a sexual mistake?), and sometimes those sexual mistakes have consequences, like an unintended pregnancy. The liberal left doesn’t want consequences, either sexual ones or economic ones. The liberal left wants complete license to do what it wants whenever it wants regardless of circumstance or consequence, and someone else is supposed to pay the price, whether that be the tax payer for free health care or an unborn baby who will be sacrificed for mere covenience’s sake. Therefore, I like what Donald wrote: ” No rapes in my family history that I am aware of, but my mother was born out of wedlock in 1936.  My grandmother rolled up her sleeves, went to work, and my mom was raised by her grandmother while her mom worked during the day.  Money was often tight, but love was in abundance.  Love usually finds a way to triumph over all adversities.”

    Love covers a multitude of sins. Isn’t that somewhere in the Bible? 😉

  • Has anyone else noticed the Planned Parenthood ad on this site?

  • Wow, Jeanne. Thanks for posting that.

Language & Determinism

Thursday, October 18, AD 2012

I have been obsessively reading articles on neuroscience, determinism and free will lately. Much of what I read is fascinating, but it is what I haven’t read that I find even more interesting. As I type these words, I am making, with each word, what I would call a choice. Some choices are easier than others, obviously, if I want my post to follow the basic rules of spelling and grammar that currently govern the English language.

I am doing something more than that, however. I am also assuming that what I write will be read by people who can also make choices. If I am merely disseminating information, there won’t be a choice I am imploring you to make. If I am attempting to convince you that one position regarding a controversial topic – free will vs. determinism, perhaps – is correct and the other is false, I am certainly acting as if you have a really-existing capacity of choosing. You will take the information I supply, sufficiently reflect on its implications for your value system, and decide it is worth acting upon or at least considering. That is the hope, at least.

It is a hope that is undeniably present in virtually every appeal for determinism I have read. Here is one of the more blatant offenders:

 We have or are capable of two sorts of attitude, and thus we may respond to determinism with dismay or intransigence. But we can also attempt to respond in another way. We can attempt to change our feelings. We can see what we must give up, and what we can keep, and the value of what we can keep. This can be called the response of affirmation.

Really? We may? We can? How? How might we do that? What faculty enables me to do these things? I call it free will. If free will is something other than this faculty, I don’t know what free will is.

Here is another example, this time of an author spelling out the implication of determinism:

What we should discard is the idea of punishment as retribution, which rests on the false notion that people can choose to do wrong.

I scratch my head in awe and wonder that someone who just insisted that free will is an illusion and choice a myth can make appeals to reason, to an imagined faculty of choosing. In many of the articles I read, the determinists are always described as “rational” or even “hyper-rational”, they’re so rational that they are bursting and oozing with rationality from every pore and orifice.

And yet there is no rational form of communication that can convey their most fundamental premises and beliefs. Advanced human communication, verbal and nonverbal alike, presupposes the capacity to choose. Articles by determinists are filled with moral exhortations for positive action, for changes of heart and attitude, for compassion towards the poor sinners who couldn’t have chosen not to sin.  These are not the grunts and groans of mindless animals, but the deliberately and freely chosen words of conscious beings who would like to see people behave and think differently than they currently do.

There is something deeply wrong with a worldview that must continually acknowledge that its premises sound absurd from the standpoint of human experience  but are justified by “the science.” Free will isn’t the false idea here. It is physicalism. Free will is how we describe what occurs millions of times in the life of millions of human beings every day. Physicalism is how presumptuous opposition to anything even resembling the supernatural or religious ought to be described. But who will have the courage to challenge physicalism instead of merely defending the constantly experienced reality of free will?

 

 

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3 Responses to Language & Determinism

  • Agreed, excellent post. It has always amused me how arguments like this get couched in the very language that defeats their underlying premises.

  • It was the atheist philosopher and mathematician, Bertrand Russell, who pointed out that determinism is an “empty” concept: it is incapable of distinguishing between any conceivable sequence of events and any other. No test can be devised to distinguished a series of events that is inevitable from one that is not, just as no test can be devised to distinguish an irresistible impulse from one that is merely unresisted.

    As for the supposed “scientific” proof of determinism, Miss Anscombe was able to dismiss it in a paragraph – “The naturalistic hypothesis is that causal laws could be discovered which could be successfully applied to all human behaviour, including thought. If such laws were discovered, they would not show that a man’s reasons were not his reasons; for a man who is explaining his reasons is not giving a causal account at all. “Causes,” in the scientific sense in which this word is used when we speak of causal laws, is to be explained in terms of observed regularities: but the declaration of one’s reasons or motives is not founded on observation of regularities. ‘Reasons’ and ‘motives’ are what is elicited from someone whom we ask to explain himself”

Scoring the Debate

Wednesday, October 17, AD 2012

I was a little disappointed to see some mainstream conservative pundits declare Obama the victory of the debate “on points.”

Obama, to his credit, performed much better this time around. He kept pace with Romney and landed a number of critical blows. He came out ahead on the Benghazi exchange, though as other pundits noted, the story tomorrow may not look so good for him. But I don’t think Obama can be declared the winner of the debate.

Each issue ranks differently on the list of importance for voters. I think many of us would agree that the economy is by far the most important issue for most voters, including the undecided voters who were present at the debate and in the post-debate focus groups. Given this, it follows that winning an exchange during the debate on the economy ought to be weighted more heavily than winning an exchange over other issues. Of course almost all issues can be related back to the economy, but some are more “purely” economic than others.

On those issues, I thought Romney emerged the clear victor. I think he presented himself as someone with a superior working knowledge of business and economics, and probably inspired more confidence in his ability to handle the nation’s economic problems than the President.  Double Romney’s points for every answer that created the impression that he knows more about economics than Obama, and he becomes the clear winner of the debate.

I may just sleep through the foreign policy debate, though. My regular readers know why. I’m a Paulbot anti-American isolationist! No one represents my views. Oh well.

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17 Responses to Scoring the Debate

  • Last time Romney won because Obama didn’t show up, this time Obama lost it, with his PP rant. After the Komen debacle everyone knows they don’t do mammograms, but Obama’s been shilling for them so long he couldn’t help himself. I sensed a shift in the political ether the moment he told the lie and lying about the Libya attack didn’t help him either.

  • about “Paulbots…” i don’t have a problem with an alternative to the neoconservative mentality that dominated the Bush term, and Obama’s current soft-power strategy that seems to give democratically-elected Islamic parties the benefit of the doubt. my probably with Paul/the paleoconosphere in general, and i have no idea if this is true of you, is that they seem defined much more by what they’re against than what they’re for.

    for example, obviously no one wants to invade Iran. does that mean a nuclear Iran’s acceptable though, in terms of the amount of leverage they’d gain? i suspect if you pressed Paul on this he’d say that it would be manageable, which is not a foreign policy view i’m inclined to support. now granted i’m not knowledgeable enough about military actions that could be taken to destroy their nuclear facilities that wouldn’t involve a land war…but it just seems to me that people like Ron Paul start off at this immovable anti-interventionist assumption, even in the case of severe threats to international stability, and occasionally veering into the ridiculous, i.e. his position on the OBL raid.

  • my last sentence wasn’t clear…my point was basically that Ron Paul has a convenient foreign-policy ideology that he defers to no matter what’s happening in the world, one that i don’t think is sufficient for certain international matters. just cuz neoconservatives were wrong on Iraq doesn’t discredit all forms of intervention.

  • It was Paul-bots like Tom Woods who helped me towards the Catholic church (and your blog). Keep it up.

  • From a strategic perspective, in my view Obama comes out the winner in this debate on Benghazi alone. It doesn’t matter that he was lying. It doesn’t matter that the moderator was incorrect, if not lying through her teeth (not to mention out of line to insert herself into the exchange to begin with). All that matters is that the audience got a real-time “fact check” entirely in Obama’s favor…and for most casual viewers, they’ll never bother to look into it any further than that.

    It doesn’t matter what Romney does on that front from here on out. Obama has effectively neutralized the issue for the remainder of the campaign–that’s a major vulnerability off the table.

  • Bonchamps, I have never seen you as “anti-American”. Isolationist, yes, but not anti-American.

  • Bon,

    You know you’re not anti-American. You have strong opinions. Me, too, the difference is I’m borderline [fill-in-the-blank].

    Another thing: Obama actually is anti-American.

    T.

  • I don’t see it the way LV sees it although Romney wasn’t particularly slashing. Crowley’s overt attempt to help Obama has made her and her comment an issue, thus keeping Benghazi going. Keeping Benghazi going is doing Obama no favors especially with the 3rd debate on foreign policy. I expect Obama to initiate some diversionary military operation because the issue is still haunting him.

  • Rozin, my point was that the people who follow the controversy as it plays out are the people who would have gotten the truth anyway. It’s the casual viewers, who aren’t that invested in following the day-to-day politics of the race and just tuned in to watch the debate, who won’t watch any of the follow-up and see who was actually right–and my hunch is that those casual viewers include a large portion of the undecided voters who will determine this election.

    And as far as those viewers are concerned, based on what they saw last night, Romney got caught red-handed in a “lie,” and Benghazi is done.

  • What kills me about Obama is that they, meaning the media, must constantly run interference for him so he get away with his lies, or he gets to hide behind women’s skirts – his wife, Jarrett, Rice, Clinton, Crowley. One on one with Romney or any conservative, he would be squashed like a bug. It’s very frustrating to watch. My heart tells me that if this is an honest election, Romney will win, but increasingly, my head is telling me that he will pull a “Chavez” and steal it. I hope and pray I’m wrong.

  • Great news for the Obama re-election campaign: Honey Boo Boo endorses the Won!

  • The saddest thing is how this administration has beaten down America and society. Through the media support of its bias and un-diversity, these useless schemers are draining the economy for themselves and damning their voting block. Even his wife told a group to nicely tap anyone who may not vote to support her husband then say what they want about the tapped after they go away. Nice talk for a character model of the people. Gangbangers is what Mr. and Mrs. call people when they aren’t talking to them. on & on & on with phony two-faced talk for votes. Some local reaction of their voting block to a visit by the flotus was that she did wave or get out of the car for the people lined up on the route to fundraising lunch, where they had been standing for hours.

    Obamas don’t like this country and are acting like pirates of infamy and getting away with it.

    The Romneys, if they replace the administration, will have an almost healing effect – on society and the media sickness. There will be no repercussions because working to repair damaged America is more important to them.

  • JDP,

    ” just cuz neoconservatives were wrong on Iraq doesn’t discredit all forms of intervention.”

    No, but America’s lack of financial resources and frayed credibility make it unwise. Can the Fed print money fast enough, can the government borrow money fast enough from China, can the IRS collect taxes fast enough to finance another war?

    There are many good reasons to pursue a non-interventionist foreign policy, beginning with financial limitations.

    As for the rest, yes, I think Romney looked bad on Benghazi. But I still believe, and I think the polling data will reflect it in the coming days, that he won on the economy and that this is significant.

  • that’s all true. i would just be interested in if there is a way to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities without invasion if we get to that point. like i said i’m unfortunately not really knowledgeable on the specifics, because it’s not a “new normal” in the M.E. i find acceptable. i am not for another regime change war in the region though.

  • I also was disappointed to hear pundits giving O points that I don’t think he earned. And I have a question about how they measure the time:

    When it is Romney’s time clock and Obama or moderator talks and fogs over his answer, do they still count that as time that he had?

    I was disappointed with CNN too- We were watching it because the person we watched with thinks FOX is right and MSNBC is left and CNN is right down the middle…
    For the first half of the debate they always split the screen when Romney was talking– so that the visage of O was a constant distraction from what Mitt was trying to say. When O talked he got the full screen and all the attention focused on him. Part way through the debate CNN corrected that so I wondered if people had complained to them and forced them to change camera work

  • LV argues his case well, although I think the main problem is the Repub acceptance of moderators who are colluding with the Dem candidate. Without that intruding moderator, Romney would have the obvious rejoinder that if Obama claimed terror in the Rose Garden why did he and the others run around for more than a week saying the video done it? The test will be what kind of audience shows up for the third debate on foreign policy where this gets rehashed. I was surprised that the viewership for the second debate was that close to the first. If the third is high also then the issue of out of touch voters going off with a wrong impression would be mitigated. But again a well argued position.

VP Debate: Not What I Expected

Friday, October 12, AD 2012

I’m sure many of you will disagree with me, seeing as how this is a mostly conservative blog, but I do not think Paul Ryan won tonight’s debate. In fact, I was disappointed in his overall performance, particularly his weak answers on abortion.

Yes I’m glad he raised the religious liberty issue, but he should have taken a moment to insist that opposition to abortion is rooted in the belief that all innocent human beings, born and unborn, deserve protection under the law. We all know that “life begins at conception.” The question is not when life begins, but when the right to life begins. Ryan’s hands may be tied to a certain extent by Romney’s position, which admits for various exceptions – conditions under which it is ok to butcher an innocent unborn child. Even so, he could have answered much better than he did.

That aside, I believe Biden dominated the debate. I know I am not the only one making this comparison, but it looked like a Thanksgiving dinner. To some it looked like mean old uncle Joe trying to beat up on nephew Paul, who held his own. To others, including myself, it looked like mean but knowledgeable Uncle Joe schooling a somewhat intimidated whippersnapper.

What I think, fortunately, doesn’t matter. Some post-debate polls, such as CNN’s, said Ryan won the debate, while others, such as CBS’s, had Biden winning. It appears that the debate was a tie game, with Biden having met his primary objective and Ryan having (mostly) stood his ground. Perhaps I am more disappointed than most because I expected much more from Ryan. I didn’t expect him to be a foreign policy whiz, but I expected more fight out of him on economic issues and certainly a whole lot more on social issues, particularly abortion.

Maybe he could take lessons from Ron Paul on how to respond next time (if there is a next time, in 2016 perhaps).

 

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55 Responses to VP Debate: Not What I Expected

  • He must have missed Rick Santorum’s speeches on the topic. After all, he did endorse Mitt Romney over Rick Santorum in Wisconsin, effectively ending Rick Santorum’s bid for the nomination.

  • Across the ocean the debate that I watched at 2-3;32 AM lost something in transmission than what I watched. Mr Ryan was credited with winning on style and both were even on points. However, Mr Biden’s 82 interruptions, his smirks and laughing all through showed his character which was not admirable. Mr Ryan never interrupted once, was 100 % in total control of his facts on domestic economic issues and was very astute on the Middle East and Libyan North African mess and danger of spillover. His hands are tied on abortion, but he scored on Mr Biden when he said science and medicine was the reason to oppose abortion and the story of their first-born “bean” daughter was classic Ronald Reagan-style making a point. Your post was quite disappointing, as i saw the interaction in the whole 92 minute debate. Excellent moderator, great fair job.

  • I felt like the debate was fairly even. Ryan had that priceless zinger in response to the 47%. He clearly outdid Biden during the conversation on social security.

    However Biden did a very good job when talking about Afghanistan. He put Ryan in a terrible position of trying to defend staying longer in that mess.

    Overall Biden came off as a cranky old man who reminds us all of the overly opinionated uncle no one enjoys being around. I think everyone is really underestimating how much that hurt his overall performance.

    As a side note, I felt real sorrow over hearing Biden say his Catholicism “guides” his life and he “accepts” the teachings of the Church on abortion, but then in the same breath go on to vigorously defend it. It’s not a surprise, but just a real sadness that he defends such evil.

    I really wish Ryan would of called him out on that more.

  • I do not know how you could declare Biden the winner when he interupted Ryan 82 times and the moderator interupted him another 32 times. In the real world of debate he would have be disqualified.

  • Vice President Biden helped his base, but if all you are doing is helping your base you are in trouble. Congressman Ryan sounded articulate and respectful, which is all he needed to do. To a lot of guys VP Biden sounded like the loud mouth at the bar or the football game who guys just detest. To a lot of women VP Biden sounded like a slippery used car salesman, which is not what helps in the polls. CNN polling had Ryan winning the debate and winning the likability portion of the debate by 10%, a very big number when all Congressman Ryan needed to do was sound competent.

  • Biden’s behavior will hopefully not set a new standard for debate performance. The American voter wants the chance to hear candidate’s policies explained outside the distortion of biased media, spin, and sensational commercials. Biden’s constant laughing, sniping and interruption created a disrespectful and distracting atmosphere, and was, frankly, obnoxious. The moderator is not to be commended either.

  • Ryan’s problem is that he ALSO doesn’t follow the Church’s teaching on abortion in his public life since the Romney/Ryan ticket accepts abortion in the cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is at risk (i.e. whenever a pro-abortion doctor wants to say she’s at risk, mentally or otherwise). It would be hard to push Biden on the issue because Ryan would slide right down with him on the slippery slope.

  • “Ryan’s problem is that he ALSO doesn’t follow the Church’s teaching on abortion in his public life”

    “A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on. Such cases are not infrequent. It is a fact that while in some parts of the world there continue to be campaigns to introduce laws favouring abortion, often supported by powerful international organizations, in other nations-particularly those which have already experienced the bitter fruits of such permissive legislation-there are growing signs of a rethinking in this matter. In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.”

    Pope John Paul II-Gospel of Life

  • Ryan won on style, substance was fairly even. Biden looked deranged at times. He needs to quit sniffing laughing gas.

    I thought Ryan did well on the Abortion question, claiming a pro-life position not only because of his Catholic faith, but also because of reason and science. Biden’s personally pro-life but… position was an offense to anyone with common sense.

  • I thought Biden was winning the debate for the first hour or so. He came across as rude, but Ryan looked weak in not being able to stand up to him. Eventually, though, I think Biden took it too far, to the point where it seemed like Ryan couldn’t get five words out before Biden would start yelling again. You couldn’t really follow what either of them were saying.

    So I think Biden effectively neutralized Ryan, but ended up coming off very badly in the process.

  • Biden won debate in terms of performance. He had a command not of the facts but of his presentation whereas Ryan appeared far too deferential and wonky which had the effect of making him appear weak. In the end this does nothing for the Obama camp which is now on the defensive after losing significant ground with precious little time before voters minds start to congeal that the only hope is change.

  • Though the left may have scored an immediate buzz here, give it a few days for it to sink in and I think Ryan will come out on top. It still needs to be digested.

  • I thought that both of them mugged for the cameras. As for interruptions, I only watched bits of the debate, but there were enough occasions of them talking over each other that I didn’t get a strong sense that either one was more to blame for it.

    I was kind of surprised to hear Biden take the “personally opposed” position. It feels like there’s been a change among Catholic Democrats recently toward a “completely support” stance – Nancy Pelosi and Caroline Kennedy come to mind.

  • Chad,
    I think there is another difference between Ryan’s public stance and Biden’s. Biden not only “supports” the Obama Administration’s extreme pro-abort views, it is plain that he “agrees” with those views as a matter of public policy. In contrast, it is reasonably clear that Ryan does not agree with the Romney exceptions, but rather agrees “to” them as a matter of ticket solidarity.

  • I only watched bits of the debate, but there were enough occasions of them talking over each other that I didn’t get a strong sense that either one was more to blame for it.

    You must have watched a very brief amount of the debate then, because Biden was far, far more guilty of interrupting Ryan. In fact, the final tally was 82 interruptions – for a 90 minute debate.

  • Lessons from Ron Paul would be really useful if Paul Ryan ever wants to raise a whole bunch of money and not win a single primary.

  • Anybody else catch that “million billion” line from Biden? As far as Biden slip ups go it was nothing but it sure sounded funny live.

  • I think the thing was pretty close myself. The reason Biden looked like he did well to many people on his side is that they had Obama’s defeat fresh in their mind. It’s like when Cleveland Browns fans see their high school team win and they say “wow, what a great football team.”

  • the argument that Ryan is equally as bad as Biden on abortion is like saying that “Roe v. Wade” shouldn’t be repealed if the GOP is unable to pass the Human Life Amendment, because states would still be able to keep abortion legal.

    not the best analogy i admit but you see what i’m getting at. it’s pointless to go all-or-nothing if it makes you end up with nothing, when you could make more incremental successes and then convince people toward the more absolute stance from there.

  • I think Biden did great!! He fought in favor of Religious Freedom, Paul didn’t do that, which I honestly didn’t expect neither to do. Ryan killed it with his comment on abortion clause, Rape, incest, and mother’s life in danger as exception to abortion. It is a shame he calls himself Catholic, it is a Shame he calls himself Pro-Life. I don’t care what others might think but this man is just the right man to be Vice President. Nov 2008=Voted Democrat. Nov 2012= voting Democrat!

  • “It is a shame he calls himself Catholic, it is a Shame he calls himself Pro-Life.”

    You attack Ryan for being willing to swallow some exceptions in order to ban all other abortions while giving full-throated support to Biden who supports abortion on demand. Does being a yellow dog Democrat necessitate giving up any semblance of logic?

  • Yeah, that Biden sure is a model for all Catholics. Oh, sorry, I meant to say he’s a model for all CATHOLICS!!

    http://proteinwisdom.com/?p=44370

  • Excuse Donald, first of all you need to respect others opinion. I didn’t come commenting on other people thoughts, I expressed my thought and opinion. And yes I SUPPORT Biden, if you have a problem i don’t care, just like you who support Ryan, I don’t care nor have a problem. We all are free to express our thoughts.

    Incase your ears popped while listening to the debate and incase you went blind while reading the transcript of the debate, Biden doesn’t support Abortion at all. He just doesn’t believe in imposing his faith on others, all we as Catholic have left is Pray and advise those we know that are liking or will do it, as long As I have done my part of educating the person of it being a Crime, Sin and awful, I know I have done something good. How other people carry themselves in life and their decisions is between them and God. I know I would never have an abortion. I been marry for a year already and I am only 22 yrs old, Political Scientist student…And I believe firmly in my Faith, I practice my Faith and I respect it, just like I respect other people decisions to do what they choose to. This is why I believe Religion and Government should be two institution that are completely not involved with each other. Separated!

  • I care about people, I care about my Health and those who can’t afford it. I hope and know for sure, that Obama will be re-elected! I don’t seem to understand how you people are against HHS…Don’t you care about those without Health Insurance…?

  • I do agree with one thing, neither two would ever do anything for the Catholic Church nor about Abortion. Just like my priority at voting have never been based on Religion but as a student, immigrant to this country, below middle class, and international affair, I know that even if Romney (sorry ass) and Ryan (win…lol) they don’t have any interest not priority in doing anything for overtuning Roe v Wade …

  • “I think Biden did great!! He fought in favor of Religious Freedom”

    Isa,

    Would you please mail me whatever it is you’re smoking? It sounds like great stuff.

  • “Excuse Donald, first of all you need to respect others opinion.”

    Opinions first need to be worthy of respect.

    “Biden doesn’t support Abortion at all.”

    Once again, does being a Yellow Dog Democrat mean that you forego all logic?

    “He just doesn’t believe in imposing his faith on others,”

    Oh, please. Biden has no problem imposing his beliefs on others in countless areas as his votes in the Senate indicate. Biden voted in favor of a constituional amendment banning abortion in 1982 before it became politically advantageous for him to embrace the pro-abort cause.”

    “How other people carry themselves in life and their decisions is between them and God.”

    And the million innocent children being aborted each year in this country are of absolutely no concern to you as you cast your votes for pro-aborts.

    “I am only 22 yrs old, Political Scientist student”
    The term is Political Science.

    “I practice my Faith and I respect it, just like I respect other people decisions to do what they choose to.”

    I doubt that. For example I assume you would oppose people having the right to murder anyone they choose, or enslaving anyone they wish to. The difference with abortion is that you have had the misfortune to be born into a time where the murder of the unborn is celebrated as a constitutional right and you have bought into this monstrous injustice hook, line and sinker. You are young and I pray that you will one day realize the horror of what you currently support.

  • “I don’t seem to understand how you people are against HHS”

    We are against it because it forces employers to provide “free” contraceptive coverage to employees, even if it is against the conscience of the employers to do so. You say that you are big on people being free to do what they wish to do. Isn’t your support for the HHS Mandate a contradiction of this principle?

  • “I am only 22 yrs [sic] old, Political Scientist [sic] student”

    Reason number 2642 why I didn’t become a professor.

  • I respect your opinions. And I expect you do the same with my opinions. I am Pro-Life, I am against Abortion and will always be. My question to both you so called Catholic…What if your child or your niece had cancer and you didn’t have insurance, what would you do? Actually It is my concern and it hurts to know that so many women choose to go through this, but I can’t condem them or judge them, all I can do is Pray for that innocent child and that mother and doctor who agree to go with it… God calls us to accept people as they are, not to judge them nor condem them.

    As long I live my life in faith and continue to educate those around me and informe them of the harm abortion does, the crime they be committing, I know that I, my self as a Catholic am faithful to my church Doctrine and most importantly to God’s way of living.

    No Bonchamps, I am not smoking anything, think you should learn to respect as well. Problem I have always seen from us, Catholics involved in Politics or opinioning about Politics is that most or all are offensive and don’t respect.

    I am worthy of respect! but you know what, you being a Grown man in “faith” still have alot to learn from Life and other, I recommend you to read the Bible more…

    You apparently don’t read or understand, as I have said already, I am against Abortion. And don’t support it I don’t need people that don’t respect me, to pray for me…on the contrary I will pray for you!!

    Like I said, neither Biden nor Ryan will do anything for the Church, it is up to us…Government and Religion shouldn’t be together, this has always been a problem for century…

  • Regarding HHS: Biden himself said:”With regard to the assault on the Catholic church, let me make it absolutely clear, no religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy Hospital, any hospital, none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.” ….

  • I been marry for a year already and I am only 22 yrs old, Political Scientist student

    I take it your professors do not deduct points for errors in grammer, spelling, and punctuation.

    I care about people, I care about my Health and those who can’t afford it. I hope and know for sure, that Obama will be re-elected! I don’t seem to understand how you people are against HHS…Don’t you care about those without Health Insurance…?

    Health is something you have, not something you can ‘afford’. What you purchase is not ‘health’ but the services of a class of practitioners. I do in fact care about the uninsured; I just do not think that the Rube Goldberg scheme dreamed up by the various and sundry factions within the Democratic Congressional Caucus (abetted by the Administration brain trust and various lobbies) does anyone any good (bar those who will receive employment in the various bureaucracies necessary to implement this scheme).

  • No Bonchamps, I am not smoking anything, think you should learn to respect as well.

    You speak and write like this when sober?

  • Art Deco: does it bother you if I had grammatical errors? If so, take it somewhere else…Why do you care anyways, did it bit your attention on your ass?

  • I been respectful and only came to give my opinion since I came across this page thinking, Oh its Catholic, great! …. but apparently you y’ll have made me so disappointed, not my faith, but people who represent Catholic… Political analysical exchange of opinion shouldn’t be all about bashing at each other but an exchange of opinion with mutual respect.

  • If so, take it somewhere else…Why do you care anyways, did it bit your attention on your ass?

    Well, you might be more comprehensible if you could write proper English. The exercise might induce you to think more clearly.

    “Political science” is a subject taught only in tertiary institutions (though there have been in the past couses in “civics” at the secondary level. Academic subjects in community colleges are mostly filler students have to endure to earn their associate’s in vocational subjects; there are few studying specialized academic programs at that level. So, I take it you are a student at a baccalaureate granting institution. Among my contemporaries (now all in middle age), only about 35% made an attempt at that and many (like Sarah Palin and like Rod Dreher) preferred vocational to academic subjects. Somehow, I suspect if your academic competence is expected to be at least a half-standard deviation above the median among your contemporaries, you could put together a correct and coherent sentence. Worked for my contemporaries.

  • “I respect your opinions. And I expect you do the same with my opinions.”

    No, it really doesn’t work that way. Opinions are entitled to respect entirely based upon their content. Foolish and/or bad opinions are not entitled to any respect.

    “I am Pro-Life, I am against Abortion and will always be.”

    No you aren’t if you vote for pro-aborts. For example, let us say that we are living 175 years ago and you encounter someone who loudly proclaims he is against slavery and yet you know that he votes for pro-slavery candidates for public office. Wouldn’t you conclude that the alleged opposition to slavery by this man was completely hollow, and that he really is not against slavery?

    “What if your child or your niece had cancer and you didn’t have insurance, what would you do?”

    Pay for their care of course. Christ admonishes us to help those in need, not to place the duty upon Caesar instead of upon ourselves.

    “but I can’t condem them or judge them”

    I have been President of the Board for over a decade for a crisis pregnancy center where we help women thinking of abortion. We also have post abortion counseling for women who have gone through abortion. The pro-life movement isn’t about condemning or judging women, but rather it is all about stopping the slaying of unborn children.

    “God calls us to accept people as they are, not to judge them nor condem them.”
    Actually God calls us to free ourselves from our sins and to believe in Christ. Tolerance of sin is no favor extended to any sinner, including ourselves.

    “I know that I, my self as a Catholic am faithful to my church Doctrine and most importantly to God’s way of living.”

    Actually in regard to voting for pro-aborts you are not. Here is what the catechism says in regard to abortion and the law:

    The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

    “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”80

    “The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”81

    Your voting for pro-aborts helps deny the unborn legal protection. What you are doing is not in accord with Catholic teaching.

  • So you think I don’t speak proper English…lol! You have cause me to laugh so much with your comment about my Institution. So you think Georgetown university is tertiary, well that’s you! But I love it here!!!

  • “So you think Georgetown university”

    That explains it all. Also Isa, Art’s reference to a “tertiary institution” wasn’t a slam but to distinguish colleges and universities from high schools which are secondary institutions.

  • I can’t believe all these comments. I’m convinced that some people just go through life being mean, disrespectful, and rude just to get ahead but i’ve never had that mentality…

    I will pray for you all! Good day.

  • For your own edification, Isaa, you should be aware that Georgetown is not a faithful Catholic institution. It has not taken the Oath of Fidelity to the Magisterium and is not a credible source of anything that is authentically Catholic.

  • “I’m convinced that some people just go through life being mean, disrespectful, and rude”

    It could be worse Isa. You could have been slain in your mother’s womb as a result of abortion, a much harsher fate surely than merely receiving more truth than you bargained for when you decided to troll a pro-life Catholic site. Next time you feel sorry for yourself think of the unborn children whose lives are being exterminated courtesy of the politicians you vote for.

  • Isa,

    Is you a US citizen?

  • For Isa, if she’s still reading: When [Supreme court Justice] David Souter sided with the pro-abortion judges in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, Biden and Rudman met at the train station by chance. Rudman described it this way: “At first, I didn’t see Joe; then I spotted him waving at me from far down the platform,” Rudman later recorded in his memoirs, “Joe had agonized over his vote for David, and I knew how thrilled he must be. We started running through the crowd toward each other, and when we met, we embraced, laughing and crying.” An ecstatic Biden wept tears of joy, telling Rudman over and over: “You were right about him [Souter]! … You were right!” The two men were so jubilant, so giddy-practically dancing-that Rudman said onlookers thought they were crazy: “[B]ut we just kept laughing and yelling and hugging each other because sometimes, there are happy endings.”

    I submit VP Biden’s actions indicate he is not personally opposed to abortion.

  • Where did you get that factitious article, zimbo.com?

    T. Shaw if I said I voted 2008 for Obama, does that not make me a US Citizen? Btw why the question…? I assume you though Illegal Immigrant, and if so, what’s to you? Since everyone seems to be assuming and not respecting here in this Religious blog, then I too will treat you as you do to me.

    Donald, I don’t feel sorry for myself, I feel sorry for you all! I am too happy of a person and contempt with my life style and faith. It doesn’t matter who wins, in my heart Jesus is the king. And I know I been living my life as a good Catholic, not perfect, because only He is.

  • I am too happy of a person and contempt with my life style and faith.

    Ladies and gentlemen, the future scholars of America.

  • Ops. Sorry I was on my iphone texting and wasn’t paying much attention on where I was writing what words, if this page or my messages. People make mistakes. Get a grip!

    I was telling a friend, priest about this page and meant to send that word in the message…lol!

  • Yes, that was clearly the only mistake you made, other than the other 230 or so.

    If you want to be taken seriously, then yes, you need to be able to express yourself correctly. Everyone makes typos, and we’re not all English majors. However, you have shown almost no ability to write coherently. The fact that this is a blog does not excuse you from the responsibility of writing well. The fact that you claim to be a Political Science Major at a top 20 university is frankly tragic, if the level of your writing is any indication of how you communicate normally.

  • “Donald, I don’t feel sorry for myself, I feel sorry for you all!”

    One of many erroneous opinions that you have Isa.

  • So you think Georgetown university is tertiary, well that’s you! But I love it here!!!

    They must have eliminated the essay since I applied there.

  • “”With regard to the assault on the Catholic church, let me make it absolutely clear, no religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy Hospital, any hospital, none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.”

    everything that man just said, is bullshit.

  • All right, I think the conversation has run its course. Take care, Isa.

  • Thanks Isa for your posts.
    At twenty two your world experience and bravado seem appropriate.

    Many of the comments made by others stem from four, five, six or more decades of higher learning, life lessons and experience.

    You said you think your a good Catholic.

    Do yourself a HUGE favor. This will bring you great wisdom. Go behind an abortion mill. Sift through a dumpster looking for the remains of your “brother or sister.” You are your brothers keeper! I mean you are a good Catholic, right!
    Take the remains and give the corpse, or corpses a proper burial.
    Upon completion, you may think differently about the greatest injustice of our Age. This is it Isa. The right to LIFE. You get this wrong and your days at Georgetown are what? A time when you we’re a good Catholic swimming in the sea of public opinion based upon man’s law. Reach higher Isa. Read and discern the teachings of our Catholic Faith. Find out why this is THE issue.
    Please. Our future demands it.

  • Isa,

    I didn’t assume anything.

    I asked a question.

    Please don’t pray for me. Pray for my friend who is dying of cancer.

    And, the Yanks just won. CC complete game 3-1.

    Our Lady of Victory, pray for us.

Prudence: The Lost Virtue

Thursday, October 11, AD 2012

What does it mean to exercise “prudential judgment”? In recent years this phrase has been thrown around quite a bit in Catholic circles. I recently read a Facebook update arguing that prudential judgment is to the conservative right what “the demands of conscience” (I paraphrase) are for the liberal left. In both cases, so it is said, you have cafeteria Catholics putting politics over doctrine, and using these phrases to cover-up their misdeeds.

Of course there is some truth to this idea, but not a lot. When we speak of “prudential judgment”, we are almost always speaking of the most efficient way to attain a given objective. The moral mandate to care for the poor is non-negotiable, which is why we must reject the vicious anti-altruism of someone like Ayn Rand. Even if this is agreed to semantic disputes are unavoidable. What does it mean to “care for”, and who qualifies as “poor”? Obviously there are radically different and in some cases mutually exclusive concepts behind these words in different camps. Even if understanding can be achieved here, there will still be disputes over how this is to be done. This is where we exercise prudential judgment.

The bigger problem, in my view, is the presumption that prudence and morality are somehow distinct. Prudence is a virtue, after all. To deliberately ignore prudence and pursue whatever policy sounded the most righteous as it was being proposed isn’t moral at all – in fact, such behavior ought to be denounced as recklessly immoral. The act of prudential judgment itself is not something distinct from moral behavior, but is in fact essential to moral behavior. The possibility that more harm than good will be done if a particular policy is pursued is always worth considering, no matter how morally justifiable it appears in the heat of the moment.

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24 Responses to Prudence: The Lost Virtue

  • Faith, Hope, Love (the most important).

    Fortitude, Justice, Prudence, Temperance.

  • Humility, and her twin daughters obedience and prudence.

  • Another case in point. EPA being sued for inhumane experiments. http://nlpc..org/stories/2

    Is this America? Unbelievable story. God help us if it is. What judgment was made to conduct experiments using diesel fumes for humans to breathe. Unfortunately the same judgments made by the Nazi regime.

  • I agree with the general sentimmeasuret have a rather large nit to pick.

    “The day average conservatives realize that foreign policy idealism is as imprudent as left-wing domestic policy idealism is the day we might get this country back on track.”

    I think most conservatives have abandoned foreign policy idealism given the reality of events in the last ten years.

    Were the left to give up its domestic policy idealism it would cease to exist. I don’t believe that is in any measure hyperbole of the left wing worldview.

  • Darn auto correct. That should read:

    I agree with the general sentiments however I have a rather large nit to pick.

  • Paul,

    I disagree. I understand how it looks that way from one angle. And frankly, I think the higher echelons of the GOP establishment are imperial realists – realpolitikers of the highest order. However, this does not prevent them from using and abusing the language of idealism to frame and sell their foreign policy vision.

    I believe that the last 10 years have been about preserving American hegemony at all costs. But this can never be plainly acknowledged and debated. Instead we must have moralistic platitudes shoved down our throats. Once the case for WMDs fell flat, we were told that it was a moral imperative to topple Saddam and bring democracy to Iraq. We are still being told that we have a moral imperative to usher in “democracy” to the Middle East.

    Aside from the fact that I think the American/Israeli media narrative about Iran and much of the Muslim world sounds like a poorly written episode of 24, there is the more serious problem of the hemorrhaging Southern border. While our troops wander around Afghanistan waiting for the day we recklessly attack Iran, the greatest security threat this country faces goes almost entirely un-addressed. Is it appropriate to laugh at the resemblance to ancient Rome, with its far-flung legions unable to protect it from the barbarians at the gates?

    America IS an empire, and a crumbling one. Because I care about my country, I would like to see it engage in a tactical, graceful military withdrawal, a massive redeployment on the Mexican border, and an intense focus on domestic economic and social problems. But foreign policy idealism keeps many conservatives willing to approve of trillion-dollar wars, assuming that we are bringing “freedom and democracy” to people who really want it. But they don’t always want it, and even when they do want it, they use it to elect dictators, and even if they all want it, we can’t afford to give it to them.

    If America can’t get its house in order, it won’t be worth a damn to anyone, anywhere, ever.

  • You’d never know any of it solely from reading/watching the MSM.

    Last ten years? I think Obama spent the last three years and nine months handing over to Muslim extremists, e.g., the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Middle East and North Africa.

    AQ no longer needs Afghanistan or Pakistan for training camps or recruits.

    Some think the mad mulahs in Iran want to bring about the “end times” by nuking Israel. Maybe, they do. And, maybe they need nukes because they are running out of oil and the “jigs up” for the mullahs unless they sieze their neighbors’ oil fields. They could get way with it if they had nukes.

    How are we going to avoid the pain the Fed is generating? Poor people coming north will not “do us in.” The Fed is doing it as we click-clack.

    Lenin knew there is no subtler, no surer means of over-turning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose. By combining a popular hatred of the class of entrepreneurs with the challenges to societal security by upcoming (see Greece riots) violent and arbitrary disturbances of the “contract. Governments could be rendering impossible the continuation of the social and economic order.

  • “Once the case for WMDs fell flat, we were told that it was a moral imperative to topple Saddam and bring democracy to Iraq. We are still being told that we have a moral imperative to usher in “democracy” to the Middle East.”

    Bonchamps, you would do well to read both the Kay and Deufler reports. While both agree that there was no evidence of stockpiles (and stockpiles is the operative phrase here) of WMDs, the fact that Saddam was maintaining and growing the intellectual and monetary capacity to produce WMDs, especially given the eroding sanctions and the corruption of the Oil for Food Program, the Iraqi regime posed an even graver threat thean the Bush administration thought. Saddam had all the countries that were trying to undermine our invasion of Iraq in his pocket to do his bidding, which they did in spectacular fashion.

    WMDs are pretty easy to produce and conceal if you have the know how, which Saddam had. Many of these weapons are made from chemicals that have normal inductrial purposes like insecticides. We found dual use facilities all over Iraq after the invasion, which is very telling, given that the infrastructure in pre invasion Iraq was so bad that he certainly wasn’t using these facilities to kill bugs. By the way, the failure to find WMD stockpiles was not the worst intelligence failure viz. the Iraq War. It was we had little knowledge as to had bad the Iraqi infrastructure was. And speaking of WMD intelligence, every major intelligence agency in the world, including UNSCOM, and many of those in the Middle East believed Saddam had the stockpiles.

    I would also recommend you read Doug Feith’s War and Decision.

  • Greg,

    When both Bush and his pointman, Colin Powell, admit that the case they presented to the American people regarding WMDs was false (not that they lied, but they were simply wrong), I don’t see what the point is in reading reports.

    I do not believe Iraq posed the threat you are assuming it did. Saddam only invaded Kuwait in 1991 because he assumed the U.S. would take no position on it -as he had been told by our own diplomats. After the beating Iraq took in the Gulf War, it was hardly in a position to threaten anyone. Meanwhile, the Clintonian sanctions were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

    I don’t believe there is anything Saddam Hussein could have done, short of replacing the Iraqi flag with the Stars and Stripes, converting to Episcopalianism, and singing Yankee Doodle Dandy that would have been accepted by our government as a reason NOT to invade, destroy and occupy Iraq for geopolitical purposes. Even then, I don’t think it would have been enough.

    In any case, I don’t think the mere possession of WMDs warrants the invasion and occupation of a sovereign state. It especially doesn’t warrant it when the country doing the invading, as a matter of documented, incontrovertible historical fact, helped the country being invaded obtain chemical weapons for its previous war against another country – as the US helped Iraq obtain chemical weapons for its war against Iran.

    Lets just cut the crap, alright? Iraq wasn’t invaded because (as we WERE told) there is a moral imperative to overthrow dictators and install democracies. It wasn’t invaded because the mere possession of WMDs is some sort of crime against humanity, no – not when this country was happy to provide them for Saddam to use against Iranian and Kurdish civilians. Iraq was invaded to prevent the countries you mention from obtaining exclusive oil contracts with Saddam’s regime, and to establish a permanent military presence in a vital region of the world.

    Unfortunately, only a few people are rational enough to discuss the merits of these objectives in an objective manner. So they have to be dressed up in moralistic, idealistic language so the public can digest it and feel righteous about what their government does.

  • Thank you Bonchamps for demonstrating with great eloquence that you have no case.

  • “Iraq was invaded to prevent the countries you mention from obtaining exclusive oil contracts with Saddam’s regime..”

    Wow.

    Bonchamps, I have just one question. Who was at the remote controls for the airliners that hit the twin towers: Bush or Cheney?

  • Oh right, I forgot. Governments only do things out of the sheer goodness of their hearts. No wait. Only our government, and governments we temporarily approve of. Our enemies are ruthless realpolitikers who only do things for material, pragmatic, or cartoonishly evil reasons though. They engage in plots and conspiracies. But our leaders have little halos over their heads that glow brightly while they pluck harps and distribute lolilipops to schoolchildren.

    Wow indeed. Nothing is worse than imperialists in denial.

  • Greg,

    I do have a case. Your unwillingness and inability to confront inconvenient facts is really unfortunate, though. I’d welcome a substantive discussion on these topics, but I guess all some people can do when ‘Merica is called out is go sulking home.

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  • What facts did you present? All you did was make a bunch of unsubstatiated assertions. I presented facts from two different reports regarding the WMD issue in Iraq. You are the one who is unwilling to deal with facts. You just dismiss them out of hand.

  • An assertion isn’t “substantiated” just because you mention a published book.

    I’m not going to go fishing for links. If you want to believe I’m a liar or mistaken, that is your prerogative. The only thing I said that isn’t part of the documented historical record is the last part – the ultimate motives for the war. I don’t believe it is possible for us to know what those really were, so the best we can do is make an informed, educated guess within the context of all the facts. ALL of them.

    The claim that the US government went to war with Saddam in 2003 over WMDs does NOT square with the facts. Even Paul Wolfowitz said as much:

    “For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on,”

    Indicating, quite clearly, that different factions within the government had different strategic motives for wanting Iraq out of the picture. I believe that they believed that there might have been WMDs in Iraq, but that it was not the reason why they invaded and destroyed the regime. They “settled” on that reason to sell to the public, to wrap up in a nice little package.

    Does it not register in your brain that President Bush, Colin Powell, and a score of other high-ranking officials involved in planning the war have all publicly admitted that the case they made for WMDs was, to say the least, incorrect?

    Whatever your authors discovered in hindsight played no role in the decision to go to war. It would not have served as a legitimate reason for our government to go to war had they known, from their point of view or mine.

    These, however, are facts, not “unsubstantiated assertions”:

    – that Saddam was supplied with tbe basic ingredients for chemical warfare by the United States and Western Europe in his war against Iran
    – that Saddam was led to believe that the US would take no position on his invasion of Kuwait
    – that Clinton’s sanctions killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians
    – that the Iraqi regime was significantly weakened by over 20 years of warfare. Whether or not you believe this reduced or eliminated its potential to threaten its neighbors is a matter of opinion, I suppose.

    None of that is “unsubstantiated.” And all of it is relevant when it comes to evaluating the moral right of the US government to invade and occupy Iraq, kill a million of its people, use radioactive weapons that have caused some of the most hideous birth defects since Agent Orange, and install a Shiite Muslim regime friendly to the very nations that we claim to be the enemies of civilized humanity, namely Iran.

  • “These, however, are facts, not “unsubstantiated assertions”:

    – that Saddam was supplied with tbe basic ingredients for chemical warfare by the United States and Western Europe in his war against Iran
    – that Saddam was led to believe that the US would take no position on his invasion of Kuwait
    – that Clinton’s sanctions killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians
    – that the Iraqi regime was significantly weakened by over 20 years of warfare. Whether or not you believe this reduced or eliminated its potential to threaten its neighbors is a matter of opinion, I suppose.”

    How do any of these “facts” provide an argument against our 2003 invasion? If anything, a strong argument can be made in favor of invasion on this basis.

    What evidence do you have that we “killed a million of [Iraqis]’?

    As to the Wolfowitz quote, dp you have an article, book, where this came from so I can verify that Wolfowitz actually said this,let alone get the proper context? See, that’s why I refer you to sources, so you can do the same.

    What Bush said was that the intel they had on the WMDs was wrong, not there wasn’t a WMD threat. As far as the installing of democracy part, that was one aspect that I did not agree with because I do not believe that Islamic countries are capable of self-governenace. I see you unwittingly admitting that Iran is something of a threat, interesting.

  • Furthermore, what those of you who have the, “America cannot keep being the world’s policeman.” refuse to understand is that if we are not there are many others who want very much to stpe in and fill that vacuum. And they are not in the least benovolent. In fact, they would use their “hegmony” to do us and the rest of the free world harm.

    Now, of course, I do not think that our government is above criticism, but what they should be above is having people like you attribute rather sinister motives without any evidence to suport those assertions.

  • I don’t think there is anything sinister about the motives I’ve attributed to the government. That’s how you read it, and that’s why they have to hide their motives, because of the moralizing public.

    I think our government does what imperial governments have done from Rome to Britain. I don’t find that automatically worthy of condemnation. I do find worthy of condemnation the massive loss of innocent life that has taken place, though.

  • Greg,
    The Wolfowitz quote is located here:
    http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=2594
    This is the DOD recorded transcript of an interview that Sam Tannenhaus of Vanity Fair conducted with Wolfowitz over two sessions. The “Kellems” individual that shows up in the second part of the interview is DOD communications director Kevin Kellems.

    Wolfowitz said sort of what Bonchamps quoted. The actual quote is:

    “Wolfowitz: No, I think it happens to be correct. The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but — hold on one second –”

    The Vanity Fair article ran with a version of this quote as the lead. It was picked up by the MSM who brandished it as the smoking gun that WMD was a lie fabricated by the Bush administration to justify the Iraq invasion.

    Reading the context of the quote gives an entirely different impression, however. I recommend reading all of it.

    If you don’t want to, here’s the fuller context of the quote (it’s been condensed by removing the phone interruptions:

    “WOLFOWITZ: No, I think it happens to be correct. The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but . . . there have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there’s a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two. . . . The third one by itself, as I think I said earlier, is a reason to help the Iraqis but it’s not a reason to put American kids’ lives at risk, certainly not on the scale we did it. That second issue about links to terrorism is the one about which there’s the most disagreement within the bureaucracy, even though I think everyone agrees that we killed 100 or so of an al Qaeda group in northern Iraq in this recent go-around, that we’ve arrested that al Qaeda guy in Baghdad who was connected to this guy Zarqawi whom Powell spoke about in his U.N. presentation.”

    If you back up a bit in the interview, Wolfowitz says something very interesting that Vanity Fair and the MSM missed, but I think is huge. Here’s the quote:

    “There are a lot of things that are different now, and one that has gone by almost unnoticed–but it’s huge–is that by complete mutual agreement between the U.S. and the Saudi government we can now remove almost all of our forces from Saudi Arabia. Their presence there over the last 12 years has been a source of enormous difficulty for a friendly government. It’s been a huge recruiting device for al Qaeda. In fact if you look at bin Laden, one of his principle grievances was the presence of so-called crusader forces on the holy land, Mecca and Medina. I think just lifting that burden from the Saudis is itself going to open the door to other positive things.
    I don’t want to speak in messianic terms. It’s not going to change things overnight, but it’s a huge improvement.”

    The Saddam regime was a threat to its neighbors despite what some people may claim to the contrary. Even after the destruction of so much armor during the Gulf War, Saddam still had almost 400 T-72’s. The low estimates of his standing army were at a quarter million men. The Saudi’s were wet-their-pants scared of him.

    Keeping US troops in Saudi Arabia after the first gulf war kept Saddam at bay, but it also had some unintended consequences. Bin Laden’s charter screed didn’t mention anything about the Palestinians, but it was big on infidels in the “land of the two cities”. Old Bin was so ticked at the Saudi’s he wouldn’t even say the name of his home country. Setting up the situation in the Middle East so that troops were no longer needed in Saudi Arabia eliminated one of the gripes muslims had with the US. Eliminating the Saddam threat also meant that another serious gripe could be eliminated. That would be the one Bonchamps was referring to when he wrote “Clinton’s sanctions killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians”. I don’t know why he refers to them as “Clinton’s”. They were established when Bush Sr. was in office and were instituted by the UN security council. Saddam did an excellent job of harming his own people and blaming the US for it. People have very short memories. Prior to 9/11 there was a lot of domestic and international pressure to lift the sanctions. Saddam was managing to turn himself into the poor victim of US aggression and increasing middle eastern resentment towards the US. Lost down the memory hole is the fact that Saddam was offered an Oil for Food program almost immediately after the war and he turned it down until 1996. It should be noted that the Iraqi population increase rate remained stable during the sanctions. It seems kinda hard to lose half a million souls in a country of 30-some million and not have that show up in a population stat. Things that make you go hmmm.

    One last item. Bonchamps wrote the following: “…use radioactive weapons that have caused some of the most hideous birth defects since Agent Orange…” I can only assume he means the use of spent uranium projectiles. They are “spent” (another term is “depleted”) because they have had the U-235 isotope extracted out of the more mundane U-238 isotope. It is a byproduct of the enrichment process. Because U-235 is more radioactive than U-238, what you are left with is less radioactive than the naturally occurring metal. In fact, a kilo of depleted uranium has about a thousand microcuries of radioactivity while natural uranium has 1360 microcuries per kilo. This amount of radioactivity is comparable to what a self luminating sign possesses. And is just as harmful. If you fear spent uranium shells, I recommend you also stay away from stairwells with exit signs.

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  • Tony,

    Regarding Wolfie’s invocation of the treatment of the Iraqi people, it is, again, ironic coming from a regime that supplied him with the components to create chemical weapons for use against Iranians and the Kurds living under his rule in Iraq.

    “The Saudi’s were wet-their-pants scared of him.”

    Even if this is true – and I guess I’m the only one expected to do academic research to support assertions made in comboxes – why is it our problem anyway? Replace some of the specific nouns and I would apply General Smedley Butler’s words to the whole Middle East:

    ” Besides, what business is it of ours whether Russia or Germany or England or France or Italy or Austria live under democracies or monarchies? Whether they are Fascists or Communists? Our problem is to preserve our own democracy.”

    I don’t care which corrupt regime conquers which corrupt regime in the Middle East. We have our own oil, more than enough to keep the country running for decades. And if Saddam’s supposedly technologically advanced army could barely make a dent in Iran, I have a hard time believing that, at nearly 1/3 its capacity from that war, it would have done a damned thing to Saudi Arabia – not that a true blue American should be defending those women-beheading Al-Qaeda-loving Wahabists anyway, right?

    “I don’t know why he refers to them as “Clinton’s”. They were established when Bush Sr. was in office and were instituted by the UN security council.”

    Clinton was the foremost advocate.

    “. Saddam did an excellent job of harming his own people and blaming the US for it. People have very short memories.”

    Right, because he imposed the sanctions himself. No, Saddam was good at capitalizing on the harm done to his people by the sanctions – hence the international pressure to lift them. Its psychopathic to be the one inflicting harm and claiming that someone else is doing it. This government inflicted the harm. Saddam used it, but then, who wouldn’t?

    “Lost down the memory hole is the fact that Saddam was offered an Oil for Food program almost immediately after the war and he turned it down until 1996.”

    It was likely pride, and it still doesn’t matter anyway. Why should he have had to accept an oil for food program? Because he was an aggressor against Kuwait? Is that really why all of that misery had to be imposed upon all of those people? The military defeat wasn’t disastrous enough?

    “It should be noted that the Iraqi population increase rate remained stable during the sanctions. It seems kinda hard to lose half a million souls in a country of 30-some million and not have that show up in a population stat. Things that make you go hmmm.”

    Depends on who you read. Here’s wiki’s list of estimates. One of them reflects your statement – many of them do not. But of course, as I suspect, all the ones that contradict your own source will be dismissed as left-wing bias or something of the sort:

    “Unicef: 500,000 children (including sanctions, collateral effects of war). “[As of 1999] [c]hildren under 5 years of age are dying at more than twice the rate they were ten years ago.”[30][39]
    Former U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq Denis Halliday: “Two hundred thirty-nine thousand children 5 years old and under” as of 1998.[40]
    “probably … 170,000 children”, Project on Defense Alternatives, “The Wages of War”, 20. October 2003[41]
    350,000 excess deaths among children “even using conservative estimates”, Slate Explainer, “Are 1 Million Children Dying in Iraq?”, 9. October 2001.[42]
    Economist Michael Spagat: “very likely to be [less than] than half a million children” because estimation efforts are unable to isolate the effects of sanctions alone due to the lack of “anything resembling a controlled experiment”[43], and “one potential explanation” for the statistics showing a decline in child mortality was that “they were not real, but rather results of manipulations by the Iraqi government.”[43]
    “Richard Garfield, a Columbia University nursing professor … cited the figures 345,000-530,000 for the entire 1990-2002 period”[8] for sanctions-related excess deaths.[44]
    Zaidi, S. and Fawzi, M. C. S., (1995) The Lancet British medical journal: 567,000 children.[45] A co-author (Zaidi) did a follow-up study in 1996, finding “much lower … mortality rates … for unknown reasons.”[46]
    Iraq expert Amatzia Baram compared the country’s population growth rates over several censuses and found there to be almost no difference in the rate of Iraq’s population growth between 1977 and 1987 (35.8 percent), and between 1987 and 1997 (35.1 percent), suggesting a much lower total.[47]”

    Who knows what flaws in the methodology are responsible for different outcomes. I’d like to see the methods used in the population growth study – I would also note that while it may “suggest” a lower total, a similar population growth rate does not necessarily prove that there was a total lower number of deaths. Whether or not the population grows is based upon what people do (breed), not necessarily how many people there are.

    I’m not even going to dignify the last paragraph with a response. I’ve seen the pictures of the deformed children, you can too if you want to, and it is obscene to suggest that exposure to “stairwells with exit signs” could produce anything of the sort.

  • Bonchamps,

    I want to apologize for the tone of my last response. I was being snarky. You have brought up serious points that need serious answers.

    We stand on different sides of the issue of foreign intervention. I don’t like the fact that our country is world cop. We are not particularly good at it, but my opinion is that we’ve done a better job than if the Soviets or Chinese had carried the mantel of lone superpower. I think you will agree with me though, that our time as world cop is coming to an end. We are a superpower because of our military strength. We have our military strength because of our economic strength. And we are losing our economic strength. Our military strength will wane much more rapidly than our economic strength will.

    I won’t defend our past actions other than to say we often chose what at the time appeared to be the lessor of two evils. Support a dictator or let the country fall to something we thought was worse.

    I stand by the statement about Saudi Arabia’s fear of Iraq. Here’s a link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq%E2%80%93Saudi_Arabia_relations

    What’s left unsaid in the article is how much domestic heat the Saudi government took for keeping US troops in its country.

    The sanctions against Iraq and their effects are interesting. I remember hearing reports prior to 9/11 that 5000 children a month were dying due to the sanctions. This number did not ring true. The Lancet was claiming over half a million deaths just five years after the sanctions were instituted. That is a death rate of 10000 a month. Here’s a link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_sanctions

    I am going to detour for a short, but pertinent story. The sci-fi writer Robert Heinlein went to Moscow as a tourist in 1960. As he walked around the city his engineer’s eye caught something peculiar. He knew what the official population total for Moscow was. The same number appeared in Soviet atlases as it did in American ones. But as he walked around he took stock of the infrastructure of the city and came to the conclusion that the official number was off by at least a factor of five. When he returned to the states he spoke with an active military officer and explained his observation. According to Heinlein, the officer confirmed his estimate. Here’s a link:

    http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php/t-461765.html

    The moral of the story is this: It can be tough to get at the truth in a sea of propaganda and conflicting claims, but sometimes by looking around and doing basic math, you can get a little closer to it.

    While I’ve never been to Iraq, I have seen plenty of photos and video from the country, both before and after the invasion. I’ve also seen pictures of Sudan. Some estimates say that Sudan’s civil war and associated famine claimed 350000 lives in its first two years. Here’s a link:

    http://necrometrics.com/20c300k.htm#Somalia

    This gives a death rate of 15000 per month. Sudan is almost equal to Iraq in population, both at about 31 million. So as an effect on these two nations, Sudan’s civil war/famine of 91-92 and the first five years of Iraqi sanctions are comparable. Granted I’ve calculated Sudan’s death rate as 50% higher, but I’m calling it close enough given the band of both death claims.

    This is what Sudan looked like during its famine stage with 15000 deaths a month:

    http://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/vulture-stalking-a-child/

    This is what Iraq looked like after twelve years of sanctions:

    http://notmytribe.com/2007/where-are-they-now-8949.html

    Taking a guess, I’d bet the death rate was significantly less than 10000 month.

    You can accuse me of cherry picking the photo but search through google images of pre-invasion Iraq and you will see a society that is hard to square with the figure of 10000 people a month dying of malnutrition and disease.

    I do realize that people were dying because of the sanctions. As a general rule, if you worsen an economy, more people will die as a result. How many died? I don’t know. The given values in the above link that depended on Saddam’s own reporting are certainly not reliable.

    As for who is responsible for those deaths, I have no problem pinning them on Saddam. It was in his power all along to eliminate them or at least mitigate them. It was his decision to go to war, it was his decision not to abide by the terms of the cease fire, it was his decision to turn down Oil for Food.

    Some three million plus Germans were killed by the Allies in WW2. Who is to blame for their deaths? The Allies or Hitler?

    Finally regarding depleted uranium weapons, I was serious but my snarky-ness got in the way. Really, these weapons are no more dangerous, radiation wise, than those signs I wrote of. I understand you’ve seen pictures of horribly deformed children, but that doesn’t prove how they came to be deformed. U-238 is an alpha particle emitter, the same particle that is emitted by radon in people’s basements in the northeast. If you were to grind it up and breathe it in, you would increase your risk for lung cancer (the same kind of danger radon presents). But you could hold this weapon in your hand with no ill effect to you. Alpha particles can’t penetrate the outer layer of your skin. That is also why they are not a significant teratogenic concern; they can’t penetrate into the developing fetus directly, unlike deep penetrating particles such as gammas and neutrons.

    What’s also significant about U-238 is how small its specific activity is. The longer an isotopes half-life, the lower the rate of radiation it puts out. U-238 has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. That’s pretty close to just plain dirt. Here’s a link:

    http://www.physics.isu.edu/radinf/du.htm

Russia Defends Traditional Values

Monday, October 8, AD 2012

Mother Russia has done it again: this time, it pushed through a UN resolution affirming the link between traditional values and human rights. It did so against the protests of European and American delegations, who were primarily concerned about the implications that such an affirmation would have for gay rights.

The European and U.S. delegations repeatedly complained that “traditional values” is a vague concept used to justify violence and discrimination against women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) persons.

Homosexual activists are not happy:

Support for traditional values is deeply troublesome to LGBT groups, as the Gay Star News reports. They are worried it will be used to defend the natural family, and fear they will be unable to de-criminalize homosexuality worldwide.

I am thrilled to see that there is a relatively powerful nation on this planet that isn’t an Islamic theocracy willing to defend traditional values before the entire world. I am elated to see Russia brushing aside as the anti-social insanity that it is the complaints of LGTB activists and their UN proxies.

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24 Responses to Russia Defends Traditional Values

  • Mixed feelings… Russia’s Resolution is full of nice words but it is proposed by a dictatorial regime which supports many of the world’s greatest evils. I have a hard time celebrating Putin’s Russia.

    Make no mistake, history will excoriate the West for its handling of Russia and her former satellites from about 1995 on. We effectively drove Russia to embrace its latest Tsar. Perhaps she can only be ruled by force but I like to hink that attentiveness would have changed the outcome.

    As it stands though, nothing Putin’s government does can be taken at face value.

  • Considering the source, I’m waiting for the barb in the phrasing.

    Not that I doubt the US delegation really was freaking because homosexuality isn’t traditional, I just don’t think Russia does anything like this out of the goodness of her heart. (Russia is a her, right? Same way the US is Uncle Sam?)

    Off the top of my head, I can see slavery, the nastier parts of Islam/Sharia, a lot of what China has been doing for ages, etc…. Humans are rather good at being nasty, and there’s going to be commonality in some of those things.

  • Russia is a her Foxfier: The Rodina, the motherland. As many of the subject nationalties of the Russians can attest down the centuries, she can be a rather harsh step mom.

  • Thank you. When one is getting one’s phrasing from old TV shows that have folks talking about Mother Russia, it’s best to ask. ;^)

  • Mother Russia suffered from bad press at the hands of the British Empire. Nothing she ever did was good enough, on the other the hand the Turks who ran a similar system, were the sick man of Europe, who with a modicum of Enlightenment could all be turned into gintlemans.

  • Check out the picture Mr. Lileks found.

    Link for more at a page titled “The Russian Empire, 100 years ago, in living color.”

  • More photographs here;

    http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/

    Notice how diverse the Tsar’s realm was. By this time the peasants were already emancipated and Russia was well on its way to becoming the breadbasket of Europe eclipsing the Argentinians. The Stolypin reforms promised a fair deal to all of Russia’s inhabitants. Left to her own devices Russia would have modernised much in the same manner as the Japanese or any large agricultural country did. But God allowed some diabolically evil men (not all of the communists, if anything the nihilists were more responsible for undermining the moral fibre of the Russians), to perpetrate quite possibly the greatest crime in human history :

    “Terrible and mysterious,” wrote Metropolitan Anastasy, second leader of
    the Russian Church Abroad, “is the dark visage of the revolution. Viewed
    from the vantage point of its inner essence, it is not contained within the
    framework of history and cannot be studied on the same level as other
    historical facts. In its deepest roots it transcends the boundaries of space and
    time, as was determined by Gustave le Bon, who considered it an irrational
    phenomenon in which certain mystical, supernatural powers were at work.
    But what before may have been considered dubious became completely
    obvious after the Russian Revolution. In it everyone sensed, as one
    contemporary writer expressed himself, the critical incarnation of absolute
    evil in the temper of man; in other words, the participation of the devil – that
    father of lies and ancient enemy of God, who tries to make man his obedient
    weapon against God – was clearly revealed.”

    – from THE FALL OF THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE: A SPIRITUAL HISTORY
    Vladimir Moss

  • “…I believe that those who put natural law and traditional values first have no greater ally than Russia.”

    I’m not buying it.

    Perhaps my judgement is clouded from spending three years doing the cat-and-mouse thing with Victor and Akula submarines, but I do not trust the Russians.

    There are strong currents in the Russian soul that run through history worn channels of fear and humiliation. Through their trials, coming mostly from foreign invaders, they have seen their salvation come, not from Christ, but from the motherland or strong-men. General Winter and Colonel Mud would save them from the invaders and then the long line of Peters and Stalins would assuage their humiliation by dominating their neighbors and briefly letting Russia play at being a world power.

    The current russian strong-man is playing to one major theme: nationalism. His tactics and course resemble the ‘ism that dare not speak its name, but was highly favored in Europe about 80 years ago.

    Any appeal to traditional values on the Rusain government’s part is meant to bolster Russian natonalism by contrasting the merely materialistic, utilitaran, and financially corrupt Russian values of national socialism with the absolutely bongers and suicidal values of Western elites.

    The fact that someone can look to Russia and see a bastion of traditional values and natural law only goes to show how far we have fallen. When your culture is at the bottom of a thousand foot pit, even the belly of a worm on the ground can seem like lofty heights.

  • Ivan

    The British approach to Russia, throughout the 19th century, was dominated by two considerations: Russian influence in Afghanistan, on the borders of her Indian empire and, after 1859, the fear of a Russian fleet in Constantinople, threatening the Suez Canal and, thus, her route to India.

    Thus, Britain did everything possible to prop up the Ottoman power and to weaken Russian influence over the Ottomans’ subject Slav peoples. It also encouraged British politicians’ love affair with the rising power of Prussia, as the bulwark of civilisation in the East.

  • Make no mistake, history will excoriate the West for its handling of Russia and her former satellites from about 1995 on. We effectively drove Russia to embrace its latest Tsar.

    How?

    Russia’s political class made a hash of economic reforms, Poland’s did not. The latter had a difficult period of transition lasting less than three years. The former had an economic depression that ran on for more than a decade and had appended to it the rapid multiplication of street crimes. The failure of constitutional government in Russia under those circumstances is unsurprising.

    You might ask yourself why we ‘drove’ Russia and Belarus into the arms of autocrats but refrained from doing so with regard to the rest of the former East Bloc.

  • G-Veg,

    Again, there’s that whole thing about stones and glass houses. What “evil” has post-Soviet Russia supported, exactly? If we’re going to list regimes, the US has its own list of objectively “evil” partners in geopolitics, and a long history with many “evil” regimes both currently existing and long perished.

    I see no reason for any American to be threatened in the least by Putin’s Russia, nor do I take seriously for one moment any sort of moralistic condemnation of Putin’s government when our own is arming/supporting Al-Qaeda rebels against Assad – as it did against Qaddafi and Mubarak.

    Tony H,

    “Through their trials, coming mostly from foreign invaders, they have seen their salvation come, not from Christ, but from the motherland or strong-men.”

    What? What does this mean? Should they have surrendered and prayed while Napoleon or Hitler wiped them out? Would this have met with your approval? What’s the point here?

    “Any appeal to traditional values on the Rusain government’s part is meant to bolster Russian natonalism by contrasting the merely materialistic, utilitaran, and financially corrupt Russian values of national socialism with the absolutely bongers and suicidal values of Western elites.”

    I don’t care. All actions have objective effects independent of their subjective motivations. Russia’s acts are objectively aligned with natural law and traditional values. They should be encouraged and praised.

  • when our own is arming/supporting Al-Qaeda rebels against Assad – as it did against Qaddafi and Mubarak.

    Al Qaeda is active in Libya. The current government of Libya is not an al Qaeda operation nor is it unfriendly to the Occident.

  • Bonchamps,
    The point of mentioning the repeated foreign invasions and reliance on strong-men is to explain the Russian national character.

    I believe the defining question of character is who, or what, you put your trust in. In other words; who is your god?

    In much of the West, the state has become god. Prior to Obama, that was the state as apparatus, not as a single man. In Russia the state, in the form of the strong-man, has ruled supreme for generations. When Putin flexes and preens for the camera he creates a resonance in the Russian heart.

    Besides their love of the strong-man, the love of Russians for the land itself should not be underestimated. The land itself has swallowed up her enemies in the past. The Russians desire to buffer her is palbably, just ask the Ukraines and Georgians.

    Dr. Zhivago said it best: “Scratch a Russian and you’ll find a peasant.”

    I agree with your statement that “all actions have objective effects independent of their subjective motivations.” What surprises me is that you seem to be saying you don’t care about those subjective motivations.

    If that’s the case, let me offer for your consideration the nation of North Korea. I don’t have hard stats, but from all reports this nation is a bastion of objective traditional values and natural law. The divorce rate is low, homosexuality rates run comparable to that of Iran, there is no epidemic of internet porn, no one is coveting his neighbors goods (or lack there of) and last I checked, over the last ten years North Korea hasn’t invaded anyone, which is more than you can say for Russia or America.

    By this measure, I think North Korea deserves even more praise and encouragement than Russia.

  • Tony,

    Why exactly am I supposed to care, presumably to the point of Russophobia, that “Russians love a strongman” and “Russians love the land”, and other such generalized characteristics? What relevance does any of this have?

    “What surprises me is that you seem to be saying you don’t care about those subjective motivations.”

    Why should I? This is the American sickness – the belief that other people’s internal affairs and moral dispositions are our intimate business. Given Russia’s objective ability to project its power militarily (which is negligible and limited to the former SSRs – and a country with a Manifest Destiny and Monroe Doctrine has no business complaining about that), its subjective motivations are almost meaningless. Meaningless, that is, to Americans who believe that the “grand chessboard” is too expensive in terms of lives, money and prestige to continue playing on.

    Meanwhile its support for Christianity and traditional values are objectively good and have objectively good effects. Maybe we’re different. I put these things above all other considerations. I don’t care if Russia dominates Georgia, any more than the average Russian cares if we dominate Central America. I care about the ruthless advance of moral cancer worldwide, emanating from the West. We are collectively responsible for this.

    As for North Korea, give me a break, please. North Korea tortures and murders Christians when they find them. And communism itself is a massive, ongoing violation of natural law – of private property rights, the rights to life and liberty, etc. If Russia were still communist, I would not take its declaration in favor of traditional values seriously. But it isn’t. It isn’t a bastion of free market idealism, but then, neither is America, which has plummeted to 18th place in terms of economic freedom. There is no comparison between Orthodox, non-communist Russia and the remnants of the Hermit Kingdom.

  • This is the American sickness – the belief that other people’s internal affairs and moral dispositions are our intimate business.

    Concern for other people’s welfare is not a sickness.

  • When concern becomes meddling, it is a sickness. There is nothing more annoying than help that wasn’t asked for and that almost always makes the problem worse than it was.

  • There is nothing more annoying than help that wasn’t asked for and that almost always makes the problem worse than it was.

    Where? And which segment of society gets to do the non-asking?

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  • Despotism as a form of government is not without its merits. One has only to think of the Julian and Antonine Emperors. They established the Pax Romana and the rule of law, curbed the oppression of race by race and class by class and established the strict civic equality of all the free inhabitants of the Empire. Property was protected and contracts enforced by a code of laws that is still the basis of European jurisprudence. Free labour and its derivative, free trade, flourished. Paradoxically, the government of a single will demands impersonal and incorruptible administration.

    To be popular, “government must not be arbitrary, but it must be powerful enough to repress arbitrary action in others. If the supreme power is needlessly limited, the secondary powers will run riot and oppress. Its supremacy will bear no check.” (Lord Acton, describing the theory of benevolent despotism) The French Revolution was far more a revolt against noble and clerical privileges than against royal absolutism and the Empire was its consummation, not its reversal.

    One can seew how, given its history, despotism may suit this stage of Russia’s development.

  • Michael,

    Fair enough, the British had their interests to protect. It accounts for their successful propaganda that continues to have purchase on many. But how did their perfidy work out in the end? They sold or taught the Japanese the latest in naval technology, so that in the 1905 Russo-Japanese war, the IJN units outclassed the 40-year old ships under Adm Rozhestvensky. We know the Japanese returned the favour with interest by driving the British out of the Far East a mere 37 years later. Jawaharlal Nehru, cooling his heels during one of his sabbaticals in prison wrote to his daughter:
    “I have told you in another letter of an occurrence which stirred Asia greatly. This was the victory of little Japan over giant Russia in 1904-5? India, in common with other Asiatic countries, was vastly impressed, that is, the educated middle classes were impressed, and their self-confidence grew. If Japan could make good against one of the most powerful European countries, why not India?…

    All this is as remote as the conquest of Canaan to me, my interest is in seeing that truth subsists.

  • “They established the Pax Romana and the rule of law, curbed the oppression of race by race and class by class and established the strict civic equality of all the free inhabitants of the Empire.”

    Contra Gibbon, not a word of that is true. After the year of four emperors in 69 AD the empire was a barely disguised military dictatorship, always subject to potential military revolt, living off the intellectual capital of the dead Roman Republic. Dictatorship brought its usual fruits: economic stagantion, growth of government bureaucracy and inflation. Despotism, enlightened or not, is always a door to nowhere for the people doomed to endure it.

  • Interesting comments. I have no love for Putin, but if the Lord could stir up the spirit of pagan King Cyrus of Persia to do something righteous (Ezra 1:1), so also can he stir up the spirit of Putin (or any other autocrat for that matter).

  • Paradoxically, the government of a single will demands impersonal and incorruptible administration.

    ?????

    Despotism, enlightened or not, is always a door to nowhere for the people doomed to endure it.

    I can think of examples in the post-war period where authoritarian administrations provided respite from pathologies of political culture (Chile, 1973-90; Uruguay, 1972-85; Peru, 1992-2000; Turkey, 1980-83; Jordan, 1957- ).

This One’s For You, Chris

Thursday, October 4, AD 2012

One of the more amusing episodes of the post-debate media coverage was Chris Matthew’s on-air meltdown, in which he shouts to his fellow MSNBC panelists “where was Obama tonight!?” and “he [Romney] was WINNING!” among (many) other things. It was priceless:

It’s hard to believe it was only four years ago that Matthews, to his everlasting shame, announced that Obama sent a thrill up his leg.

It would appear, then, that:

It’s more than the title, too. I mean, it’s clear that Obama has done Chris quite wrong, and that he will be sorry someday – unless he heeds Matthew’s warning and starts taking cues on how to debate from him and his colleagues (pray that Obama actually does it).

In all seriousness, Romney was the clear winner of the debate. But this was really nothing compared to the massacre that is going to take place on October 11. I’ll be watching with pizza and imported beer!

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5 Responses to This One’s For You, Chris

  • I’ll be watching with pizza and imported beer!”

    Agreed Bonchamps. I’ve got my frien booked for the show, at his place.
    But I’m not into imported beer, unless its German. We do very well thankyou, with a bottle of Lambs dark rum and a bottle of coke – not the whole bottle of course, but a couple of shots each.

    Unless, of course, uncle Joe gives such a good performance, we might be nudged into having one or two more.

    Sock it to him, Paul Ryan 🙂

  • It’s almost as if years of cognitive dissonance from propping up a hollow world-view have reached critical mass for both Obama and Chris and they are just plain tired.

  • There were times in the debate that Obama’s expressions suggested that he agreed with the critiques Romney leveled. It seemed particularly noticable when Romney fit the staggering numbers of unemployment and the waste of political capital without attending to the economy.

    I wonder if the President’s conscience pricks him. I pray that that is so.

  • I guess that is as close to an adult temper tantrum as you will see. It reminds me of how 2 year old daughter behaves after telling her she cannot have a cookie before dinner.

  • Winning!

    In demeanor and phrasing, Chris reminded me of Charlie Sheen. Not the best role model for a political analyst.

Stupid Meme: Libertarianism & “Gay Marriage”

Wednesday, September 26, AD 2012

One of the more annoying memes I am often confronted with is the automatic assumption that libertarians must be for “gay marriage.”I can understand why some people automatically assume such things in good faith, but I can also tell when the leftist media is attempting to exploit an apparent rift between libertarians and conservatives on the right. Whenever I read somewhere that there may be tension between different wings of the American right on an issue such as “gay marriage”, it is almost never a conservative or a libertarian writing it.

Is it consistent with libertarianism to be an uncritical and loud advocate of “gay marriage”? In my view, the answer is no. In fact, it is more consistent with libertarianism, at least in the current political climate and given the way the issue is currently framed, to be opposed to the “marriage equality” movement. The word “equality” ought to be the first indication to a libertarian that something may be amiss, since egalitarian movements are often statist, sometimes outright totalitarian movements that seek to achieve an ideal of equality by sheer force. Communism is the most obvious example, but what feminist and certain racial groups have achieved on college campuses is only a microcosm of what they would like to see in society at large: free speech utterly silenced, opposing views ostracized, careers denied or ruined over the utterance of a heterodox opinion (just view the archives of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for countless examples). To some extent this already does happen in society at large, but only selectively – for now.

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24 Responses to Stupid Meme: Libertarianism & “Gay Marriage”

  • Thank you for your post. Re-define. To call something that isn’t is. What will be the next grab for power. Pedophiles are “minor attracted people”. Life site .com posted a disturbing piece coming out of Germany regarding the move to lower children’s consent requirements, (age). Placing more children in harms way of the M.A.P.
    When will this stop? It seems to me as God is pushed out of the public square, the old foe slithers in. “What’s foul is fair…and what’s fair is foul.” Old Bill saw it coming.

  • Mother and Father becomes Parent A and Parent B.

    only a bureaucratic detail. only. mmhmm

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  • Thank you, Bonchamps, for a discerning essay. I am in close agreement with much of what you’ve written here, especially in the third and fourth paragraphs.

    Among some self-identified libertarians in the blogosphere, “the opinion that the state ought to have nothing to say at all about marriage” has great initial appeal. But who was it who said that for every difficult problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious and wrong? And wrong it is; a libertarian should be quick to see that upon considering what individuals have to say about marriage.

    Eventually people will laugh at attempts by judges and legislators to make same-sex sham marriages equivalent to real marriages just as we laugh at stories of attempts to legislate pi = 3.

  • The great 19th century Catholic historian, Lord Acton, pointed out on many occasions that the passion for civic equality and the hatred of noble and clerical privilege is usually accompanied by a tolerance of despotism, whether the absolutism of a Napoléon (whose regime was the consummation of the Revolution, not its reversal) or the tyranny of the majority.

    The egalitarian likes strong government, believing, as Acton notes, “Government must not be arbitrary, but it must be powerful enough to repress arbitrary action in others. If the supreme power is needlessly limited, the secondary powers will run riot and oppress. Its supremacy will bear no check.” Hence, “The modern theory… which has swept away every authority except that of the State, and has made the sovereign power irresistible by multiplying those who share it.”

  • I think you are neglecting two aspects of this:

    1. Civil marriage is a set of voluntarily assumed obligations. It is also an official delineation of social boundaries as are the property deeds in the county clerk’s office or copyrights registered at the Library of Congress. That delineation guides the resolution of disputes that inevitably arise in a society between private parties. The default mode of libertarian social thought is to conceive of a sharp delineation of state and society in which the latter is put upon by blunderbusses employed in the former. This sort of discourse is found in the writings of people who are critics of license (see William L. Anderson and Joseph Sobran) as those who are celebrants of it. In this mode of thought, the act of civil marriage is reducible to the issuance of a license and the refusal to do so is an unacceptable imposition on the autonomous will of Adam and Steve. That is an adolescent way of looking at the world, but what do you expect?

    2. Advocacy of these stupid burlesques is now a social and cultural marker in certain age cohorts. You do not really believe Reason‘s constituency is composed of people who do not care if they are confounded with evangelicals, do you?

  • With the moving words:

    “Champions of individual liberty should stand on the side of private property rights and religious liberty, and not on the side of those who are quite obviously attempting to use the coercive power of the state to impose their moral vision on the rest of America.”

    You have managed to more eloquently express the libertarian argument against anti-“gay marriage” legislation than you have defended yourself from what appears to be an entirely invented accusation that all libertarians must think and act the same.

    The larger issue of this meme – the concept that all libertarians must agree on gay marriage – well, you are correct there. You don’t have to support it.

    It will, however, make you less of a libertarian in the eyes of many. Take solace, however, as you can simply count it among the dozens of areas where the Christian faith and libertarian ideals do not meet eye-to-eye in the real world.

  • know what? I guess I am so naive as to think about this. If God would have wanted this kind of lifestyle there would be no proliferation of the human race. Without the act of procreation what is the point of anything? Everyway I turn I am learning of the homosexuals in my family. I love them as God loves them, but I cannot nor will I condone this behavior. No one will confront it in this Catholic family. Catholic mothers and fathers sisters and brothers. We are forced to, in every family gathering to put up with behavior that gags me. Married couples at these gatherings are not blatantly affectionate. It almost seems like an assult, or “dare ya” attitude. My grandchildren are exposed non stop. Please God. I don’t care what political direction you take this is, and will be disaster on our race. Without respect for marriage and procreation we are truly lost.

  • There are a number of problems with the essay that I take issue with. You brought up the situation with the photography studio in New Mexico as a warning about the dangers of marriage equality. Only problem is, New Mexico doesn’t allow same-sex marriage. The claim against the owner was one of discrimination in public services, not marriage. The state ruled that businesses that offer services to the public cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation (amongst other criteria). Just a reminder, a photography studio is not a church, and people that are religious “chose” to be religious. They weren’t born that way. So for your position to be valid, one would have to argue that ANY choice people make in their lives can be used to justify discriminating against anyone that they want. In a secular society, this is unacceptable. Choosing to become religious does not give you a “free pass” to enforce your religious ideology on the rest of society. Don’t want to provide service to ALL of society? Then don’t open a business in the public sphere. Pretty simple philosophy, huh?

    I also find it interesting that you believe the word “equality” should bring up red flags. The reality is that most states and our government have gone out of their way to foster discriminatory laws aimed solely at gay Americans, making sure that gay people will never be considered equal under the law. (Which is what this is about. Not legal forms.) This is the antithesis of what America represents: freedom, liberty and equality all citizens. Religion cannot be allow to override those ideals. In a secular society, one should ask themselves why our government is enforcing an obvious religious ideology on its own citizens without a rational “legal” basis. Our government shouldn’t be promoting ANY type of religious ideology. When Congress passed the extremely unconstitutional DOMA law, their “rational basis” was that DOMA will help ensure that straight couples will procreate responsibly. Perhaps you can explain how preventing gay couples from getting married will help straight couples be more responsible when having sex? Are the gay couples going to provide condoms to all those straight couples? Are straight couples going to get married in greater numbers because they know that gay couples can’t get married? By any stretch of the imagination, the rationale behind DOMA was drenched in anti-gay animus (based on religious beliefs) and nothing else. These people simply didn’t want to treat gay people as equal members of society. Their position is fundamentally wrong and inherently immoral.

    By the way, the public doesn’t have the final say when it comes to passing laws, the Constitution does. Just because a majority of people vote for something (the express wishes of the voters) does not make them right, or their decision just or legal. Slavery ring a bell? How about the subordination of women? Bans on interracial marriage? People justified all sorts of bigotry throughout our history… and used the Bible to support their position. Enforcing your religious beliefs into our laws pushes us one step closer to becoming a Christian theocracy. Our Founding Fathers escaped religious tyranny. Our society cannot allow that to ever happen here.

  • I’ve pointed this out to the Libertarians on Ricochet who push for homosexual marriage. Their response is the same as about abortion– they make excuses that the thing consistent with their stated philosophy gives the government too much power, and then promote expanding that power, on the stated theory that if anybody can do it, EVERYONE should be able to do it.

    Then, if you pay attention to what college PotLibertarians do and point it out as an example of Libertarianism, they respond it’s inconsistent with their theory– and when you point out that their stance on killing humans up to a set stage of development is also inconsistent, or forcing others to support the lifestyle choice of two adults, you’re suddenly “just being nasty.”

    Can’t win. Either you pay attention to the theory of Libertarianism but aren’t allowed to call them on inconsistencies like promoting expanding gov’t power for their pet views, or you pay attention to what MOST Libertarians one meets think, and you’re accused of lying. For noticing that Ronulans and Liberaltarians (PotLibertarians that somehow always manage to vote straight Dem tickets, and love their college freebies) exist in real life. *headdesk*

  • What is far more disturbing to me, and most moral conservatives, is that libertarians do not support morality. At all. Libertine freedom is the enemy of morality- it is the right to sin. Real moral conservatives, at least Catholic ones, are authoritarian monarchists: They support the Kingship of Jesus Christ and the rule of his Vicar the Pope in all matters of faith and morals. Morality for moral conservatives IS objective; personal likes and dislikes do not change what is right and wrong the way it does for libertarians.

    THAT is why you see people thinking libertarians will support gay marriage, the way libertarians support the right of women to choose abortion, and the right of people to destroy their own lives and the lives of their families with drugs- because at the base, the false liberty of the right to sin is the cause.

  • Igel,

    “You have managed to more eloquently express the libertarian argument against anti-”gay marriage” legislation than you have defended yourself from what appears to be an entirely invented accusation that all libertarians must think and act the same.”

    Entirely invented? Gee thanks. I guess you’ve never read… anything at all. Really? You’ve never come across the standard line, usually from some left of center pundit, that conservatives and libertarians are necessarily divided on the issue of gay marriage? Pundits and commentators make broad and stupid generalizations all the time, especially when it serves their purposes. In this case, the purpose is to deepen the rifts on the right.

    What you call “anti-gay marriage legislation” is NOT an attempt to use the coercive authority of the state to impose a moral vision on America. People who think it is simply have not thought the issue through, and are reacting with pure emotion and irrationality. It is a response to the aggressive and 100% statist “marriage equality” movement. A ban on so-called “gay marriage” doesn’t infringe upon anyone’s legitimate individual rights (is there a natural right, now, to have your romantic preference recognized by the state as a “marriage”? When did this happen?)

    The push FOR “gay marriage”, on the other hand, is an attempt to force private property owners and government institutions to recognize a lifestyle choice as morally valid.

    A libertarian who isn’t opposed to that is either an ignorant fool who knows nothing about the foundations of his own philosophy, or a total fraud who ought to be cast into political outer darkness.

  • Fox,

    I guess I came to my quasi-libertarianism (I hesitate to identify fully with any label other than “Catholic”) through Ron Paul, Murray Rothbard, F.A. Hayek, Judge Napolitano (a trad Catholic like me) and the Austrian school, which offers clear moral reasoning on every issue, even if I don’t agree with it 100% of the time. Of course this is a subset of a broader school of thought. Of course there are other factions within libertarianism. But the kind of people you describe sound like brain-dead fools.

    Ted,

    I don’t think this statement:

    “What is far more disturbing to me, and most moral conservatives, is that libertarians do not support morality.”

    Is fair at all. All of the names I mentioned above are extremely supportive of morality, and are in fact among the most morally conscious thinkers I’ve ever read.

    Of course libertarianism proposes, basically, that individuals ought to have the right to do as they please as long as they don’t infringe upon the basic rights of another person. But then you have Paul, Napolitano, and other very high profile libertarians who argue forcefully that abortion does exactly that, and so does this “marriage equality” movement. Abortion robs a human being of their right to life, and so-called “marriage equality” robs Christians and other individuals who are morally opposed to participating in “gay marriages” of their religious liberty and their private property rights.

    It is absolutely shocking to me that the average libertarian doesn’t see this.

  • Of course this is a subset of a broader school of thought. Of course there are other factions within libertarianism. But the kind of people you describe sound like brain-dead fools.

    They’re usually in college. Mentally, if not still physically. That’d make at very least the fools part mostly redundant…..

    To be more fair, I think they’re usually male liberals who got burnt or at least noticed the damage caused by extreme feminism, and so react by being exactly the opposite…but still on left-wing foundations. Part of why it usually looks like conservatism built by liberals.
    If you don’t have a foundation, you MIGHT be able to build some things; say, anti-abortion, anti-slavery, anti-theft, everything has to be a freely entered agreement. Which causes issues when folks actually do what they desire, and a third party becomes involved involuntarily, especially if their involvement puts a demand on the initial folks involved.

    Being pro-abortion and denouncement of forced child support as exploitation of the guy who willingly had sex in the first place is against the stated principles, but it’s very emotionally tempting if you don’t have a good bedrock.

  • David in Houston,

    Thanks for your extensive comments. I will address what I think are the most relevant parts.

    “The state ruled that businesses that offer services to the public cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation (amongst other criteria).”

    The business didn’t discriminate “on the basis of sexual orientation.” The test of such discrimination would be whether the business refused service to a homosexual individual because they were homosexual. That is manifestly not what happened; rather, the business morally objected to participating in a “gay marriage”, a voluntarily chosen activity. There is a world of difference between these two things.

    “So for your position to be valid, one would have to argue that ANY choice people make in their lives can be used to justify discriminating against anyone that they want. ”

    That’s more or less exactly what I believe. I believe it because of a thing called private property rights, as well as freedom of association. I believe these rights are fundamental to a free society, especially when there are a multitude of alternatives available on the free market.

    It is not the job of the state to force everyone to like each other and serve each other. It is the job of the state to protect natural rights.

    “In a secular society, this is unacceptable. Choosing to become religious does not give you a “free pass” to enforce your religious ideology on the rest of society. Don’t want to provide service to ALL of society? Then don’t open a business in the public sphere. Pretty simple philosophy, huh?”

    It’s simple, but it is also absurd. It is absurd to suggest that people with religious convictions don’t have individual rights to free exercise in their capacity as private property owners (such a notion would have been absurd to the founders as well), it is absurd to suggest that refusing service is equivalent to “enforc(ing) religious ideology on the rest of society” when the market provides many alternatives, and it is absurd to suggest that people with religious views ought to be denied freedom of association by being effectively barred from establishing religiously-oriented business.

    No one is forced to hire or shop at establishments with particular views. But freedom works both ways – no ought to be forced to serve people who are asking them to participate in or facilitate events they find morally repugnant. You shouldn’t have the right to force Christians to photograph Satanic rituals, or Jews to cater Nazi banquets, or for that matter, secular atheists to renovate churches if they don’t want to. That’s also a very simply philosophy, one that doesn’t involve forcing people to act against their convictions and doesn’t deprive anyone of an essential good or service.

    “The reality is that most states and our government have gone out of their way to foster discriminatory laws aimed solely at gay Americans, making sure that gay people will never be considered equal under the law”

    Well, this is simply false. Gays are equal under the law, as individuals. There isn’t a single right that straight people have that gays do not have. Gays can even legally marry – someone of the opposite sex, that is. Gays can, through private contract, establish anyone they choose as legal and medical power of attorney, inheritor of their estate, co-owner of their property, joint bank accounts, and so on and so forth. All they lack, and what they are not entitled to by nature or by law, is the privilege of presumption that married men and women have with regards to these legal matters. There is absolutely no injustice here.

    “In a secular society, one should ask themselves why our government is enforcing an obvious religious ideology on its own citizens without a rational “legal” basis.”

    There is a rational, secular basis for supporting traditional marriage and opposing homosexual marriage. That you’ve never come across it or, as I suspect, even looked for it, doesn’t mean a thing. But that isn’t the issue here. I am not asking the government to enforce a religious ideology, but rather to respect the rights of individuals to free exercise of religion, free speech, and private property.

    ” When Congress passed the extremely unconstitutional DOMA law, their “rational basis” was that DOMA will help ensure that straight couples will procreate responsibly. ”

    I’m not a fan of that rationale. But it is unnecessary. The key provision of DOMA is that no state be forced to recognize the validity of a “gay marriage” from a state that legally recognizes it. That is a perfectly just and fair provision that respects the sovereign rights of individual states. It does not prevent the individual states from recognizing “gay marriage” either, as we have seen. This is another illegitimate complaint.

    “By the way, the public doesn’t have the final say when it comes to passing laws, the Constitution does.”

    Have you read the 10th amendment?

    “Just because a majority of people vote for something (the express wishes of the voters) does not make them right, or their decision just or legal.”

    I agree. Sometimes, however, the majority is right. This time, they are. But in any case, it is not primarily about what the majority thinks, though I do think that is important. This is about the defense of natural individual rights to freedom of speech, religion, and private property.

    As for your comparisons to slavery and the like, the Bible was also (quite obviously, for anyone who knows their history) used by those fighting against slavery. No one complained about that as an “enforcement of religious beliefs” on the rest of the country, just like no one complains when left-wing Christians use religion to justify left-wing policies. No, it is only the socially conservative right who wants to impose religious values, only the socially conservative right who can find no “rational justification” for their policy preferences. The religious left, on the other hand, always gets a free pass.

    Finally, “marriage”, the decision to live one’s life with another person, is a CHOICE. It is not an inherited trait like skin color. Governments and individuals have a moral obligation to treat all individuals equally. They do not have a moral obligation to treat all moral choices as equally valid. If you can’t comprehend the difference, then I’m afraid we will always be enemies.

  • David in Houston said “ the public doesn’t have the final say when it comes to passing laws, the Constitution does. Just because a majority of people vote for something (the express wishes of the voters) does not make them right, or their decision just or legal.”

    But, of course, the public always have the final say; they can always amend or abolish any laws, including the Constitution. As Thomas Jefferson said, “no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. They may manage it then, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct. They are masters too of their own persons, and consequently may govern them as they please…”

    Law is the expression of the general will, of the living, not the dead. History may instruct and warn, but cannot guide or control.

  • This is an excellent post. Thanks, Bonchamps. I wish I had the intellect to contribute something. But I am satisfied to learn where I can’t contribute.

  • Many libertarians recognize a set of principles or preexisting order that must exist to support liberty. Many others, however, are libertines who adopt libertarianism in an effort to confuse their conscience with their constantly changing, contradicting intellectual-sounding garble to support their temporal whims.

  • Also, most ‘gay marriage’ statutes have nothing to do with what the state does. Many states, before they ever introduced same-sex civil ‘unions’ or ‘marriages’, had reconciled all state-level administrative powers to be neutral to all couples. However, this was deemed insufficient. Hence, states began imposing requirements on the private organizations they regulated.
    Now some states are suing the federal government to force the federal government to accept gay marriage. Already there’s proposals to force other states accept the same sex ‘marriages’ from other states. Sooner or later, and in some small cases already relating to property and adjacent ministries, every private organization will be forced to accept and facilitate these ‘marriages’.

    It’s not an coincidence why some of the biggest heterosexual supporters of same sex marriage are the statists. They envision new powers to regulate speech, regulate custody, regulate transhumanist dreams, attack churches, harm families and then ‘help’ those impacted families. It’s not about people, it’s about the new weapons they can produce.

  • My personal position on the photographer is that I wouldn’t do business with someone that doesn’t want my business. That being said, personal feelings about someone (believing that they are immoral) is not a rational basis to discriminate against them. By the way, I can guarantee that the photographer has provided work for “immoral” straight people in the past. Especially if they’ve ever worked with people like Newt Gingrich, or other adulterers, or gamblers, or alcoholics, or any other so-called sin you can come up with. I sincerely doubt that the photographer questioned other clients to determine if they were worthy of their services. I find it more than a little hypocritical that the only criteria that Christians have for immorality (to use for the basis for discrimination) is someone’s sexual orientation — oddly enough, that’s the ONLY so-called sin that they’ll never have. Must be a coincidence, right? That’s basically the same assessment that the courts in New Mexico found. Simply choosing to become religious doesn’t give you authority to disregard laws that protect the treatment of other citizens. Did you ever notice that the only group of people that are collectively discriminating against another group of people are Christians, and not the other way around. Yet it’s the Christians that are somehow the victims in all of these stories. Funny how that works out. Yes, 80% of the populous are victims of the overwhelming power of the 3%. It truly boggles the mind.

    “Gays are equal under the law, as individuals. There isn’t a single right that straight people have that gays do not have. Gays can even legally marry – someone of the opposite sex, that is. Gays can, through private contract, establish anyone they choose as legal and medical power of attorney, inheritor of their estate, co-owner of their property, joint bank accounts, and so on and so forth. All they lack, and what they are not entitled to by nature or by law, is the privilege of presumption that married men and women have with regards to these legal matters. There is absolutely no injustice here.”

    Gay people can still be fired in 29 states, simply because they are gay. They can also be refused housing on the same basis; and apparently (based on your beliefs) they can be discriminated against by anyone that happens to be religious. Which is what, over three-quarters of the population? — If you happen to have offspring, I seriously doubt that you’d want them to marry a gay person. I’d think you want them to marry someone that they are physically attracted to, someone that they love and want to build a life with, and someone that also finds them sexually and physically attractive. That isn’t possible if the other person is gay, and vice versa. Common sense, right? It’s also a laughable argument: “I’d rather have that gay guy marry my daughter instead of that man he’s been in a relationship for 10 years.” Yeah, let’s destroy two lives just to make sure that gay people can’t legally join together. Seriously? — As for private contracts. There is no logical reason why gay couples should have to jump through legal hoops and spent time and money on something that is automatically granted to straight couples. Immoral straight couples don’t have to hire an attorney to protect their relationships, neither should so-called immoral gay couples.

    “There is a rational, secular basis for supporting traditional marriage and opposing homosexual marriage. That you’ve never come across it or, as I suspect, even looked for it, doesn’t mean a thing.”

    No. Actually there isn’t a rational secular basis to deny gay Americans the right to create a legal kinship (secular marriage) with each other. That is why conservatives want to pass a constitutional amendment to ban it. Because they know that if they don’t, our constitution will support it. If there were a rational basis, we would have definitely heard it during the Prop. 8 trial. Instead, we got inane slippery slope arguments about the threat to “traditional” marriage, and how theoretical children need a mommy and daddy — disregarding the fact that procreation has never been a requirement to getting married. I also didn’t read it in the above essay, which complains that if gay people can marry, then religious people will have a harder time discriminating against them. When put in that context (You won’t tolerate my intolerance), your position is insupportable.

    “Finally, “marriage”, the decision to live one’s life with another person, is a CHOICE. It is not an inherited trait like skin color. Governments and individuals have a moral obligation to treat all individuals equally. They do not have a moral obligation to treat all moral choices as equally valid. If you can’t comprehend the difference, then I’m afraid we will always be enemies.”

    Your position is that homosexuality is immoral, and I’m guessing you also believe it’s a choice. Sorry to say, wrong on both counts. All because you believe a 2,000 year old book says so. Sorry, but that doesn’t prove anything — in a theocratic country, perhaps. But not here. In fact, your entire belief system is built on nothing but faith. Which again means there is no proof of that assertion; and unless our government can prove that all gay people are inherently immoral and a threat to society, they have no right to discriminate against them as a group. As I said before, we do not disenfranchise straight citizens that are immoral. Straight people that have cheated on their spouses still have all of their civil rights, including the right to get divorced and remarried as many times as they want. If you can’t comprehend the obvious hypocrisy going on here, then I agree, I’m afraid we will always be enemies. Liberty and freedom for ALL Americans will always win in the end. The younger generation “comprehends” that (and literally cannot understand why gay couples can’t get married), and irrational animus directed at gay people will be as unacceptable as racism and sexism.

  • David,

    “That being said, personal feelings about someone (believing that they are immoral) is not a rational basis to discriminate against them.”

    Personal feelings can be entirely aligned with objective reasons, so your statement is fallacious.

    More importantly, it is irrelevant. The 1st and 5th amendments secure the rights of religion, speech and property, and that security does not depend in the least upon whether or not a person exercising them meets some criteria of “rationality.” The essence of a free society is that I don’t have to convince you that my beliefs meet your standard of rationality – rather, you must tolerate beliefs you personally feel to be irrational as long as they infringe upon no legitimate right of yours. Clearly these basic lessons of American law, politics and culture are utterly lost on you, which is why liberty is dying a slow death in this country.

    “By the way, I can guarantee that the photographer has provided work for “immoral” straight people in the past. ”

    This, like many of your subsequent statements, is nothing but pure speculation presented as if it were indisputable fact – and is therefore pure rubbish.

    Even if you were correct, however, it wouldn’t matter. How a person exercises their religious beliefs, provided no one’s legitimate rights are violated, is not the business of the state. If a person is inconsistent in their application of morality, that is their own personal issue, and has absolutely no bearing on whether or not they have the legal right to refuse to participate in events they deem morally objectionable. The right to refuse service isn’t rooted in intellectual consistency, but rather in the natural, individual and inalienable right to private property and the civil rights of free speech and free exercise.

    “I find it more than a little hypocritical that the only criteria that Christians have for immorality (to use for the basis for discrimination) is someone’s sexual orientation”

    This is completely untrue. I don’t know what would possess you to even assert such a thing. Homosexuality is the issue because homosexuality is what is being shoved down our throats by radical activists. But there are plenty of Christians who object to the whole gamut of immoral and anti-social behavior, and it is really quite foolish of you to suggest otherwise. Really, think before you write.

    “Yet it’s the Christians that are somehow the victims in all of these stories.”

    Yes, it is Christians who are being harassed, sued, and threatened by radical homosexual activists. There is a documented history of this abuse in the U.S. and in other countries. This is the ugly reality you are completely ignoring.

    “Yes, 80% of the populous are victims of the overwhelming power of the 3%. It truly boggles the mind.”

    It boggles the mind how someone can play so fast and loose with the facts. First of all, far fewer than 80% of American Christians actually take their stated beliefs seriously. Secondly, the gay population is estimated to be 10%, not 3%. Third, some of the most aggressive “gay rights” advocates are straight, secular, left-wing activists, especially the Hollywood types. Given that opinion polls show the nation evenly split on the issue, about 50-50, I’d say that more accurately represents the reality.

    But while the Christians have maybe a few legal defense organizations who are committed to fighting for their rights, homosexuals have the sympathy of the entire media establishment and significant sections of the political and corporate worlds as well (for every Chick-fil-A there are a dozen Targets, Oreos, Starbucks, NBCs, and so on). Just turn on a television, for the love of all that is holy – there is an endless parade of television shows praising and glamorizing the gay lifestyle, and an endless stream of anti-Christian hate, mockery, and vilification. Only the ignorant or the dishonest could possibly say otherwise. You live in a left-wing bubble.

    “Gay people can still be fired in 29 states, simply because they are gay. ”

    I believe in equal protection under the law for individuals. However, I also believe in freedom of association and private property rights. A balance must be struck, I will grant. But that means both sides meeting in the middle on this question – not one side steamrolling over the other by judicial fiat.

    “hey can also be refused housing on the same basis; and apparently (based on your beliefs) they can be discriminated against by anyone that happens to be religious.”

    Well, you’ve misrepresented my views. I stated quite clearly that the discrimination in question had nothing to do with sexual orientation, but rather with an unwillingness to participate in a freely-chosen public event that is morally objectionable. You are pathologically incapable of understanding the difference between these two things. Refusing service to an individual because of some characteristic they possess is not the same as refusing to participate in an event. You’re quite deluded if you think they are the same, an enemy of liberty, and therefore my enemy.

    “That isn’t possible if the other person is gay, and vice versa. Common sense, right?”

    Well, you’re wrong actually. It is entirely possible. It has happened throughout all of recorded history. It leads to difficulties, yes, but in societies in which family and children are duties, and not accessories, it is far easier to accomplish. Homosexuality was rampant among the Greeks in the ancient world, but so was the notion of familial duty. Homosexuality has existed in many cultures but the concept of “gay marriage” has only existed in these very recent times. That isn’t a coincidence.

    Having a sexual orientation does not make it physically impossible to perform sex acts with the sex you aren’t oriented towards. There are few men in the prison system who would ever identify as homosexuals, but there are many who routinely engage in sodomy and other sex acts with other men. The dominant males think of the more submissive males as females. The same thing happens in the other direction – there are homosexual men and women who have, can, and do engage in lifelong sexual relationships with people of the opposite sex.

    But none of this is relevant, absolutely none of it, to the issues I am concerned with.

    “There is no logical reason why gay couples should have to jump through legal hoops and spent time and money on something that is automatically granted to straight couples.”

    And it is absurd to uproot society, dramatically transform the law, and infringe upon the rights of millions of people so that a few legal hoops can be avoided. That isn’t rational or moral. Traditional marriage between one man and one woman is objectively good for society. It deserves pride of place, it deserves prestige, and all other social arrangements ought to be subordinate to it. You can call me a bigot all day long if you like for holding that position. See if I care. I think married men and women are as superior to gay couples as they are to unmarried hetero couples, to polygamists, to voluntary single parents – this is not about singling out homosexuality but rather retaining the justly deserved privileged status of traditional marriage. I’m not a radical egalitarian, I have no moral obligation to become one, and I will die to defend my right not to be one.

    “Actually there isn’t a rational secular basis to deny gay Americans the right to create a legal kinship (secular marriage) with each other. ”

    But that isn’t being denied. You can’t seriously posit the extra filing of forms to be the equivalent of a denial of “legal kinship.” It’s all right there – property, medical, legal, financial, and so on. Any two people can establish these legal relationships and no one objects to it.

    We object to the attempt to MORALLY place them on the same level as traditional marriage by hijacking the word “marriage” to describe them and forcing private property owners to render services to people they don’t consider to be married as if they were actually married.

    We object to the attempt to use the coercive power of the state to enforce a moral equivalence in the minds of the people between so-called “gay marriage” and traditional marriage.

    I just wonder if you are honest and/or intelligent enough to appreciate the distinction between these two very different things. If in the end you are just sour because I won’t recognize “gay marriage” as morally legitimate, then tough s*** – we live in a free society and you just have to deal with it. But I will make clear that I don’t object to any two individuals establishing a legal relationship that for all intents and purposes adds up to the state’s definition of a “marriage.” I will never call it marriage, and I will go to prison rather than treat a gay couple as if they were legitimately married, but I don’t object to the legal recognition of their private contracts.

    “I also didn’t read it in the above essay, which complains that if gay people can marry, then religious people will have a harder time discriminating against them. When put in that context (You won’t tolerate my intolerance), your position is insupportable.”

    No, it is completely supportable by over two centuries of American jurisprudence, the political philosophy of the founding fathers, the Bill of Rights, basic moral philosophy and common sense. I have a right to be intolerant, provided I am not violating anyone’s legitimate rights. But it isn’t even about intolerance. I can and do tolerate homosexuality, and even the existence of homosexual couples who like to pretend that they are “married.” What I refuse to do, and what any serious Christian refuses to do, is engage in, facilitate, participate in any way in what we believe to be blatantly immoral choices. We have this right under the 1st amendment. That is the “support” for my argument, or at least the beginning of it.

    “Your position is that homosexuality is immoral, and I’m guessing you also believe it’s a choice. ”

    This is part of your problem, David. Your guessing, your assuming. You think you know everything and that you have everyone figured out, and this arrogance makes your arguments absurd.

    I do not believe homosexuality is a choice. I don’t believe people are born gay either. I believe it is a psychological condition brought on by early childhood problems. I don’t believe it can be reversed or “cured”, but I do believe it is possible for a homosexual to reject the openly gay lifestyle, as it has been done throughout history.

    Homosexual acts are sinful, of course, as are many sexual acts that take place between heterosexuals. These are always choices. So, for that matter, is the decision to live as if you are married. This is quite clearly and obviously a choice. When one chooses to live as if they are married to a person of the same sex, it is blatantly immoral – and it is immoral for you or the state to attempt to force me to recognize it as something moral.

    “All because you believe a 2,000 year old book says so.”

    How far does this patronizing attitude typically get you in life? You don’t know me or what I believe. I have never once made an argument against “gay marriage” on the basis of Scripture (except to pro-gay Christians, but that’s a different matter). My primary argument is that “marriage equality” is a violent assault on basic American liberties. My secondary argument is that history and sociology clearly demonstrate the superiority of the traditional family to all other competing social arrangements.

    “As I said before, we do not disenfranchise straight citizens that are immoral.”

    What does “disenfranchise” mean to you? I don’t think I am suggesting any such thing.

    “The younger generation “comprehends” that (and literally cannot understand why gay couples can’t get married), and irrational animus directed at gay people will be as unacceptable as racism and sexism.”

    The younger generation is full of barely literate public school drones who couldn’t critically think their way out of a paper sack. It takes more than MTV platitudes and Obamaisms to understand the complicated intersection of moral, legal, and political issues underlying the “gay marriage” controversy. It is you who relies on the power of the unthinking, emotional mob to violently impose your views on others. Just look at how you make presumptions about me, how you have prejudged me and my beliefs. You’re the perfect stereotype of a lynch-mob lackey.

  • Gay people can still be fired in 29 states, simply because they are gay. They can also be refused housing on the same basis; and apparently (based on your beliefs) they can be discriminated against by anyone that happens to be religious.

    It is called ‘free association’, David. People are denied employment for all manner of reasons and denied credit and rental housing for failure to meet arbitrary metrics. They have no cause of action. In recent decades, civil liability has been manufactured which compels people to enter into contracts and other agreements they would rather not, for whatever reasons free people have. With regard to the black population (disproportionately poor, always obtrusive, and systemically abused by officialdom in 1964) there was a sort of justification for this. With sexual deviants, there is no such justification. The proliferation of ‘rights’ threatens liberty.

  • Bonchamps-
    the 10% figure was based on a highly flawed study; 3% seems to be more in line with less biased studies.
    The 10% figure is most often cited, though, especially when the activist wants to inflate his figures.

    Other than that, you’re doing great.

Third Party Love & Hate

Tuesday, September 25, AD 2012

A couple of posts at Breitbart’s “Big Government” site have resulted in thousands of comments  and intense debate between libertarians and conservatives, and between libertarians themselves over the merits of supporting a third-party/independent alternative to Mitt Romney. Having been involved in third-party politics myself at one point in my life, I am sympathetic to the cause. But given the stakes this November, I’ve decided to hold my nose and vote for Romney, as I’ve already posted here at TAC.

I must say, however, in response Kurt Schlichter (the author of the aforelinked pieces) that I regard this as a highly personal choice, and not one that I am willing to guilt others into making. On many of the issues that matter to me and other Ron Paul supporters, Romney is absolutely abysmal and nearly indistinguishable from Obama, whether we are talking about civil liberties, constitutional protection of the lives of American citizens (even the bad ones), foreign policy, monetary policy, and a host of related issues. Those who prioritize such issues cannot be expected to give Romney their vote. There was also the disgraceful treatment of Ron Paul and his delegates by the GOP at the RNC this year. Schlichter would have us basically forget all about it.

With that said, however, when Ron Paul stopped actively campaigning for the GOP nomination, his candidacy in effect came to an end. There certainly is something bizarre about a pledge to vote for a man who by the looks of things would like to settle into a well-deserved, hard-earned retirement from public life. I always suspected that Paul didn’t really want to be president. Some see this as a positive trait, and it can be in certain contexts, but men also need leaders. If that makes me sound fascistic, so be it. Human nature is what it is.

So people who accept the reality that Paul is unable or unwilling to capture the nomination and the Presidency are then faced with other options. I’ve explained my choice, but many others are considering Gary Johnson, and Schlichter is addressing them as well (as well as Virgil Goode, the Constitution Party candidate’s supporters). Aside from the fact that Johnson is pro-choice and therefore unsupportable for Catholics, I don’t begrudge anyone the right to support either of these men as an alternative to Romney.

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18 Responses to Third Party Love & Hate

  • “. . . but men need [sic] also need leaders. If that makes me sound fascistic, so be it.”

    Not at all. Leaders take many forms. The biggest difference between what the Obammunist/Peoples’ Democratic Party and Libertarians would call “a leader” is that the O/PDC believes Leaders should be iconic, centralized power-structure figures, a` la Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Mussolini, Chavez, Castro, Kim, Kim, Kim. . .

    Libertarians, both “large-L” and “small-l,” believe leaders are those who lead their families, communities and nation best by serving them, in the example of the ultimate Servant Leader, Jesus Christ. Those who provide the skill, foresight and initiative to risk and grow business, to plan and execute charitable causes and to provide models of involvement and direction not from a lofty Ivory Tower but from the trenches where they serve are who we call “leaders” because they lead by example and not by dictate.

    Nothing fascistic about that.

  • To me, it comes down to winning battles, or winning the war. Winning the war is changing our culture of death to one of life. The coming election is just one battle in that war. Despite what some insist, I don’t believe the election of Romney will stop our sprint to Gomorrah. If we sell our vote to the Republican party to win this battle, we will have gained indefensible ground. Romney, despite his prolife platitudes, is pro-abortion at heart. His only difference with Obama on foreign policy would probably be Israel. Economically, he will at best only slow the ticking of our debt bomb. “Independent” voters will see the lack of change in 2016 and give us another lost battle.

  • I get where you’re coming from, but it is hard to win a war without winning any battles. I don’t really disagree with you that Romney is not going to do much (probably slow our sprint to a light jog, perhaps). But, as Bonchamps correctly points out, Romney is at least marginally better/less bad than the O.

  • WK,

    Thanks for highlighting my egregious late-night typo, lol. I think libertarians/constitutionalists/paleocons (the “alt-right”, as it were) need a leader who isn’t afraid to lead and who doesn’t approach politics as if it were a smelly diaper. We need a leader who is willing to, to continue the metaphor, get his hands dirty. Not too dirty, not “hop into bed with Wall Street” dirty, but at least more aggressive and organized than what we have seen from Ron Paul or before him Pat Buchanan.

    Tony H,

    I agree with you, more or less, though I believe Romney has no choice but to govern in a pro-life manner. I’m not convinced Romney will even slow the debt bomb, but I am convinced he won’t lift a finger to stop the implosion of the dollar. I believe he will continue the vast majority of Obama’s policies, which are themselves continuations of Bush’s policies. One thing I think he won’t do, though, is press Obama’s war against the Church and religious freedom in general. And that is important to me, and significant enough to warrant my vote.

  • We need a leader who is willing to, to continue the metaphor, get his hands dirty. Not too dirty, not “hop into bed with Wall Street” dirty, but at least more aggressive and organized than what we have seen from Ron Paul or before him Pat Buchanan.

    Dirty, not enjoying filth. Difference between dirt under the nails and someone who just never washes his hands.

  • I think libertarians/constitutionalists/paleocons (the “alt-right”, as it were) need a leader who isn’t afraid to lead and who doesn’t approach politics as if it were a smelly diaper.

    It might help if libertarians could ever acknowledge there were social problems other than ‘government failure’, constitutionalists could figure out that positive law should reflect conceptions of justice and notions of prudence and does not form the essence of them, and the rest of them to stop pushing projects of dubious utility and validity (Austrian economics, ‘race-realism’, and the various and sundry personal complaints, conceits, and emotional disorders of palaeo spokesmen).

  • I realize that a second Obama term is the worst thing that could happen.

  • Well, up until now, it’s been a tiny movement. It hasn’t been producing great leaders for the same reason that China gets more Olympic medals than Liechtenstein.

    The biggest thing to hit the libertarian cause hasn’t been a political party, but a movement. The tea partiers have given the libertarians a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The relative health of the Tea Party movement is going to be pretty easy to measure come Election Day; if it is still healthy, the libertarians would be smart to cement their bonds with it.

  • This is a good piece. Rhetorically caning those who are going to, or are likely to, vote 3d party does nothing on behalf of a major party candidate.

    I think libertarians/constitutionalists/paleocons (the “alt-right”, as it were) need a leader who isn’t afraid to lead and who doesn’t approach politics as if it were a smelly diaper.

    What Art said, and let me elaborate slightly:

    Libertarians need to acknowledge that individual liberty grew in America as part of an ecosystem with an indispensible buttress: a socially conservative/religious ethic which mandated delayed gratification, duties to others apart from the self, and an understanding of “rendering unto Caesar” that put Caesar firmly in his place. Reading contributors to “Reason” and viewing Libertarian candidacies in general, there isn’t the beginnings of a glimmer of a clue on this point. Somehow, Caesar marches on despite their atomistic arguments and defenses of license. Oddly enough.

    “Constitutionalism” does have a worrisome tendency to engage in debates that Talmud scholars or students of the Scholastics would find too impractical, abstract and technical. Reciting the Constitutional provision is the beginning of wisdom. But only the beginning.

    Paleos need to stop gnashing their teeth over Appomattox and busing.

  • Pinky,

    I hate to say it, but the “Tea Party” movement was co-opted a long time ago and is virtually indistinguishable from the mainstream GOP. When a committed foreign policy hawk like Allen West is the model “Tea Party” candidate, there will only be ruptures between that movement and the libertarian movement. There are many areas I think conservatives and libertarians can overlap, but on the question of liberty vs. safety, there is an unbridgeable chasm. I have a bit to say about this.

    We (the paleo side of ) will not sacrifice liberty for “safety”, and we do not view “Islamo-fascism”/threats to Israel as anywhere near what ought to be America’s priorities. We are a new generation that did not grow up during the post-war period, does not view America as a global actor as if it had a halo, wings, and the rosy red cheeks of the cherubim, firing little Cupid-arrows of freedom at mean old dictatorships, and do not wish to commit trillions more dollars to overseas adventurism.

    Like I said in a previous post, our message to the rest of the world is the same as one of the last Roman emperors to the far-flung imperial posts in places like Britain: look to your own defenses. American decline is real and inevitable, and it can be graceful with a chance for recovery and maintenance of great-power status like the United Kingdom, or it can be catastrophic like the Roman or Soviet collapse. But the view, common in the “Tea Party” I think, that America has a divine right to permanent superpower status is in our view a pathetic delusion. And this is what primarily divides, in my opinion, the “Tea Party” from the libertarian/constitutional/paleocon movement, the true “Alternative Right.” It is not, contrary to what some believe, “social issues.” Which brings me to…

    Dale Price,

    “Libertarians need to acknowledge…”

    Yes, and I think many of them do acknowledge those things. I think that was the significance of the Ron Paul campaign. Ron Paul is adamantly pro-life. Even if some social conservatives don’t agree with his emphasis on state’s rights, there is no doubt that he not only morally opposes abortion (with libertarian arguments, no less), but believes that the role of the state (at some level) is to protect innocent human life. He has also emphasized the role that churches played in providing medical care long before there was government involvement in these areas. A Ron Paul “alternative right” coalition has many seats at the table for principled pro-lifers and social conservatives in general, provided, I think, that we retain a local/state level emphasis instead of insisting that only the federal government can restore the social fabric.

    What libertarians REALLY need to understand is what Charles Murray brilliantly analyzed earlier this year – the role of the family in establishing economic and social security. The disintegration of the family only increases the justification for statist intervention. The stronger the family, the weaker the rationale for government involvement in our lives. So it is in the vital best interest of the libertarian to support conservative social values at least on SOME level.

  • Austrian economics a ‘project?’ Is gravity a ‘notion?’

  • Bon, I’m not sure that you can conflate libertarians and paleos. At least, not in a border state. For many of the people who would self-identify as either group, the whole lump of national issues (language, immigration, trade) are really important, but they hold exactly opposite views.

    Also, you may be too quick to write off the Tea Party, or more accurately the set of emotions which lie behind the many organizations that arose under that broad title.

  • Pinky,

    I don’t mean to conflate libertarians and paleocons. But if Murray Rothbard could support Pat Buchanan, I think there is some hope for a coalition. Ron Paul has pointed out, as well, that unrestricted immigration is a fiscal nightmare as long as the welfare state exists. A libertarian who supports unrestricted immigration in the current political climate is simply irrational and working against his own presumable goal of eliminating the welfare state.

    Of course, there will always be the dispute between economic nationalists and free traders, between a vocal and virulent anti-capitalist minority on the right and the Austrians, and so on.

    But I really think that there is more agreement than disagreement. Both want the state out of their lives. Both are opposed to foreign military adventurism. Both are opposed to the bailouts, to Fed’s unlimited money-printing scheme, to the toxic revolving door between corporate America and the regulatory bureaucracy. Because of Ron Paul, social conservatism can get a fair hearing from a growing number of libertarians. The importance of the family is not just moral or theological but also economic and social.

    I think what Ron Paul has started can grow into something more. I think he provides the first key link between the libertarians, the constitutionalists, and the paleocons. What is needed is clear thinking on the issues that divide these groups. Some of the differences are legitimate, and others are based upon sheer ignorance, on knee-jerk assumptions, and a horrid lack of imagination. I think these problems can be fixed.

  • Austrian economics a ‘project?’ Is gravity a ‘notion?’.

    1. Yes
    2. No

  • Sure, there’s a subset of pro-family libertarians, and they all attend church on Sunday.

    The problem is, I just might be familiar with all of them.

    And none of them are at the controls of the Johnson campaign, Reason, Cato, etc. Sure, Cato has had some nods to pro-family thinking, but mostly in the context of welfare reform.

    I grant that Paul was pro-life, and admirably so, but that was considered a non-disqualifying eccentricity by the non-religious Paul supporters I’ve interacted with. And he–and Rand–aren’t systematic thinkers or advocates for the family in the context of libertarianism. Despite being admirable family men, they are first and foremost economic and legal/constitutional libertarians. Libertarianism has a long ways to go in developing a workable understanding of subsidiarity, with the indispensible family at the center.

  • Libertarians need to acknowledge that individual liberty grew in America as part of an ecosystem with an indispensible buttress: a socially conservative/religious ethic which mandated delayed gratification, duties to others apart from the self, and an understanding of “rendering unto Caesar” that put Caesar firmly in his place. Reading contributors to “Reason” and viewing Libertarian candidacies in general, there isn’t the beginnings of a glimmer of a clue on this point. Somehow, Caesar marches on despite their atomistic arguments and defenses of license. Oddly enough.

    Yep.

    And that “Reason” sort of libertarian screwed up when they supported GOProud trying to for the TEA party— did not win any friends with that “TEA partiers don’t care about social issues” BS, or similar attempts to lay claim on the entire movement. (Anybody else tired of the sort of Libertarian who tries to tell everyone that they’re “really” a Libertarian? Or claim random historical figures?)

  • (Anybody else tired of the sort of Libertarian who tries to tell everyone that they’re “really” a Libertarian? Or claim random historical figures?)

    Never encountered such. Have encountered folk who chuffer endlessley about who is a ‘real’ conservative or are in the habit of dismissing anyone not on the payroll or subscriber list of the von Mises Institute, Chronicles, or The American Conservative as a dolt.

  • Lucky you, Art.

    And there is a massive difference between going “you are not a conservative” and saying “See? See? You really agree with ME!” (Possibly one of the most annoying college liberal debate tactics. I’d gladly harm the guy who taught it to my cousin.)

Murray Rothbard & Catholic Political Thought

Tuesday, September 18, AD 2012

Traditionalist Catholics are typically not fans of Murray Rothbard. And yet as I read more of his work, I find more reasons to appreciate Rothbard’s insights into political theory, which I believe were shaped by a deeper appreciation for the Catholic political and philosophical tradition than some are willing to admit. It is easy to see Rothbard as nothing more than a secular Jewish atheist who opposed “the Old Order” and supported unrestricted personal liberty. And yet he spent his final years advocating for Pat Buchanan’s presidential run and his socially conservative platform.

That there is an affinity for Catholicism in Rothbard’s thought is not surprising. He identifies the Catholic countries, above all Austria, as the originators of subjective-utility economics, while Protestant countries such as Britain developed more labor-centric economic theories. The Catholic tradition had identified consumption (in moderation) as a worthwhile activity and goal; the Calvinist tradition emphasized hard labor as the primary good and consumption as a necessary evil at best. He writes:

Conversely, it is no accident that the Austrian School, the major challenge to the Smith-Ricardo vision, arose in a country that was not only solidly Catholic, but whose values and attitudes were still heavily influenced by Aristotelian and Thomist thought. The German precursors of the Austrian School flourished, not in Protestant and anti-Catholic Prussia, but in those German states that were either Catholic or were politically allied to Austria rather than Prussia.

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8 Responses to Murray Rothbard & Catholic Political Thought

  • Interesting, Bonchamps. Am curious as to what others will say.

  • The Rothbard essay you link, “The Progressive Era and the Family”, was one of the most viewpoint-affecting essays I’ve read about U.S. Catholic history, and remains so.

    Have any more mainstream historians backed up his interpretation or given it a critical analysis? I’d like to get a second opinion.

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  • The “statue in the center of the room” of Austrian School economics, Ludwig von Mises, originated a conceptual study called “praxeology,” or, simply, the study of human action. It is based on the prime supposition that “People Do Things.” The next time some liberal relativist makes that sophomoric challenge, “Name one absolute truth,” throw that one at him. It cannot be denied and once you have the buy-in, the rest is dominoes.

    From that basic truth, all action is informed by the values held by individuals acting in concert or opposition to all other individuals in any given sphere. In this progression, the inevitable outcome is a nation either built freely from the ground up by moral, informed and educated citizens, or imposed via state coercion from the top down on indoctrinated subjects, a la the Peoples’ Democratic Party.

    There can be no State, no society, no community without individual, Created persons. The Liberty given us as a gift from God Almighty is our birthright, second only to the Salvation of Christ. The Church holds the teachings we need to obtain the promises of both to the best of our abilities.

  • Good article, Bonchamps. Rothbard’s affinity for Catholic thought is often evident in his writings. Even when he goes wrong–such as on the issue of abortion–he still respectfully characterizes Catholic opposition to abortion, as he wrote in “For a New Liberty” (1973):

    “For the libertarian, the “Catholic” case against abortion, even if finally rejected as invalid, cannot be dismissed out of hand. For the essence of that case—not really “Catholic” at all in a theological sense—is that abortion destroys a human life and is therefore murder, and hence cannot be condoned. More than that, if abortion is truly murder, then the Catholic—or any other person who shares this view—cannot just shrug his shoulders and say that “Catholic” views should not be imposed upon non-Catholics. Murder is not an expression of religious preference; no sect, in the name of “freedom of religion,” can or should get away with committing murder with the plea that its religion so commands. The vital question then becomes: Should abortion be considered as murder?”

  • A good post — thank you, Bonchamps.

    It seems a book to engage on this topic (one which I would like to see discussed by somebody who is acquainted with Rothbard) is Christopher Ferrara’s The Church and the Libertarian: A Defense of the Catholic Church’s Teaching on Man, Economy, and State — have you read it?

  • Christopher,

    I have read Ferrara’s book. It is an ignorant polemic that does not take the object of its critique seriously. It’s full of strawmen and wildly inaccurate claims. It does make some good points, I’ll grant, but they’re rather obvious points that aren’t going to convince any serious thinker to avoid the Austrian school.

  • W K Aitken

    “People do things” – Indeed.

    This obvious truth can easily by obscured by a sort of sleight of hand, by focusing, not on actions, but on their results. As the great Catholic historian, Lord Acton, explains, “That which is done is become a material external product, altogether independent of the interior determination, or free-will, which motivated or gave the first occasion of its existence. Hence no examination of these facts, apart from the consciousness of the doers of them, can possibly give us the element of freedom; they are mere material external facts, as subject to numeration and measurement as a crop of wheat, or the velocity of a bullet… as soon as we seek simply statistics and averages, we have lost sight of man, and are contemplating only his works, his products.”

    It is easy, therefore, to overlook the fact that statistical laws are inferences, not causes. That is why the method of the economist can never replace that of the historian.

How I Chose To Argue For Free Will

Monday, September 17, AD 2012

Hello TAC, it is good to be posting again after a prolonged illness that left me unable to do anything but make half-conscious Facebook updates. I have been following the news, and for the sake of our collective sanity, I am going to refrain from extended commentary on foreign affairs. Instead I wanted to share with you an interesting discussion I had recently with some rather confident, cocky atheists on the question of free will.

It had begun as a debate on the so-called “problem of evil.” They think we have a problem with evil; maybe some Christians do, but I don’t. But I do think atheists – by which I mean Western, science-worshiping, philosophical materialists – have a problem with evil. Namely, how do materialists who reject free will (either explicitly or implicitly, depending on how well they’ve thought it out) even speak of such a thing as “evil”? Assuming we are speaking of human acts, and not things like bad weather, to describe an act as “evil” or malicious or malevolent or something similar assumes and implies that it was freely chosen. No one speaks of a lion’s decision to tear apart a zebra for sustenance as an “evil” act. What mindless animals do has no moral significance whatsoever. What people do has significance solely on the assumption that we can choose otherwise. In other words, free will. Without the assumption of free will, morality utterly collapses into a meaningless rubbish heap.

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7 Responses to How I Chose To Argue For Free Will

  • It is worth pointing out that determinism is an “empty” concept. It is incapable of distinguishing any conceivable sequence of events from any other and so adds nothing to a description of them. Put another way, what test can be used to distinguish an irresistible impulse from one that is merely unresisted?

    An hypothesis that cannot possibly be falsified is “not even wrong,” but meaningless.

  • I am sorry you were Il, Bonchamps. I pray that you are now restored to full good health. As for the tactic that you employed against your atheist detractor as described in your post, I say bravo.

  • Thank you for the post Bonchamps.
    Freewill is the medium used to love God, or distance oneself from Him. He Loves perfectly.
    We have a distorted love, however time and the practice of virtue, allows us to partake in refining our imperfect love. Thank God for freewill.

  • In my experience, materialists are not living lives totally disconnected from their beliefs. They are like those who claim they hold Christian beliefs yet hold back some area of their lives, such as a fond sin, an unforgivable hurt, or a small piece of autonomy.
    What materialists usually hang onto are generally profound things. They hang on to a deep desire for meaning in life, to a sense of good and evil, and to an acknowledgement that they are moral agents; that they have free will.
    I appreciate the frustration of dealing with people who are not totally conscious of their real worldview, whether they claim to be Christian or materialist. In the materialist camp, only the nihilists have completely thought thru their worldviews. I don’t know if Dawkins puts himself in that camp, but I put him there. He has written that asking what the meaning of life is, is itself a meaningless question.
    In dealing with these people I urge acting in love and praying for the quidance of the Holy Spirit. Finding that non-materialist nugget they are holding on to may be the key to their salvation, just as that last piece of our lives we’ve withheld from Christ is the key to our damnation.

  • I read somewhere that Fulton Sheen (I think) had the argument that atheists obviously do believe in God because they spend too much time worrying & thinking about Him. If I don’t believe in zombies & don’t think they exist, I can get on with my days quite nicely without having to shout from the rooftops or put up billboards or force others to not celebrate them. I can easily just say, “I don’t believe in zombies,” and live & let live. There’s no bullying involved in my hoping that everyone else would give up the idea that zombies do exist. I don’t need to start the Humans Against Zombies Club & hope that everyone will see my way. I don’t need to hurl insults at those who believe in zombies.

  • MaryAnne…nice point of view. Thanks. I know I’ll use this next week…if you don’t mind. Non-believer acquaintance…Phil.

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Why Life Matters

Wednesday, September 5, AD 2012

I am heartened to see that abortion has become a central issue in the 2012 presidential campaign. I am even more happy to see that the Democratic Party is spending far more time discussing it this time around than the GOP. While I certainly hope the Romney-Ryan ticket steps up and delivers a strong pro-life message in the final months before the election, the fact that the Democrats are now making such a big stink about it demonstrates that even they must acknowledge the awesome power of the pro-life movement.

This movement, of which I consider myself a small and rather insignificant (but eternal) member, is more than political lobby. Unlike the various lobbies that represent the special interest groups and key demographics that prop up both the Democrats and the GOP, the pro-life movement represents a group that can’t vote, can’t contribute to campaigns, and can’t even speak for itself, the truly least among us.

Given this new-found interest in abortion, the sort of things people are likely to hear as the DNC continues to unfold this week, and the fact that I believe basic refreshers are good from time to time, I want to discuss the pro-life point of view a bit. I cannot be comprehensive here, but I will raise some of the issues I think are fundamentally important in this debate.

Many of our opponents do not really understand what it is that motivates us and drives us. To them, to quote one pro-choice radical feminist I recently witnessed on a news program, we pro-lifers apparently believe that “a fetus has more rights than a pregnant woman.” Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. We believe in accordance with the Declaration of Independence, that all men (males and females) are endowed with inalienable rights at the moment of their creation. The life inside the pregnant woman is not more valuable than the pregnant woman; they have the same value and are worthy of the same protection under the laws of a just, civilized, and humane society.

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12 Responses to Why Life Matters

  • Good post, Bonchamps. The Dems, however, will no more give up abortion today than they would slavery 160 years ago. And we know what that lesson is. God save the Republic!

  • Many people who have heard one or two things about logical fallacies in their lives will say that pro-lifers are guilty of using the “slippery slope” fallacy.

    I have not encountered the accusation of the pro-life argument being a “slippery slope”. I have seen it in the context of pro-marriage/anti SSM debates. In what context is the pro-life argument slippery slope? It seems the exact opposite to me – it is based upon the inescapable logic that an unborn human being is a person.

    All human beings are persons. An unborn human is a human being. Therefore, an unborn human being is a person. You might not agree with the second premise (or maybe even the first), but then it is up to the pro-abort to prove those premises wrong. It is not “slippery slope”.

  • And when I say “you might not agree” I mean the rhetorical you, not you personally (obviously).

  • A very large number of younger pro-abort Dems are also products of public education, and as such are, well, ignorant as the day is long. While it’s kind of like shooting fish in a barrel, it is still gratifying to walk them down the primrose path in a discussion of “societal good” versus the God-given rights of a created being, using their own arguments against them until we arrive here.

    I have zipped many a pie-hole this way. Can’t say if it stuck, but getting them to think is a good first step.

  • Salvage goes from Christian blog to Christian blog saying the same things. Nothing changes with an atheist.

    🙁

    Hail Mary, full of grace…..

  • Salvage slips through now and then, but he’s an example of why I’m also good friends with “moderation” and “ban.” Buh-bye.

  • You missed the lede, Paul: savage is pro-life!

    “You know what *else* matters?”

    Bravo–it’s a start!

  • Tertullian pretty well disposed of the “potential person” argument over 1,800 years ago, when he said, “With us, homicide being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even what is conceived in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood for its sustenance. To prevent a birth is to hasten homicide; nor does it matter whether you take away the life [animam] from one that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth. That is a human being which is going to be one; every fruit is already in the seed.” [Homo est et qui est futurus; etiam fructus omnis iam in semine est] (Apologeticum 9:8)

    By the by, “animam” is here used in the usual Latin sense of “life,” not “soul” in the philosophical sense.

    Tertullian is plainly giving, not his own opinion, but is speaking for the Christian community of the 2nd century – “With us…”

  • WK Aiken, I copied a part of that T4 for this post.

    ‘ In October 1939, Hitler signed a back-dated “euthanasia decree” to 1 September 1939 which authorised Bouhler and Brandt to carry out the programme of “euthanasia” (translated into English as follows):

    “Reich Leader Bouhler and Dr. med. Brandt are charged with the responsibility of enlarging the competence of certain physicians, designated by name, so that patients who, on the basis of human judgment [menschlichem Ermessen], are considered incurable, can be granted mercy death [Gnadentod] after a discerning diagnosis.”[12][13]

    Contents
    [hide] 1 Background
    2 Implementation
    3 Killing of children
    4 Killing of adults
    5 Gassing
    6 Victim numbers
    7 Opposition
    8 Postwar legacy 8.1 The Doctors’ Trial
    8.2 Others involved in the programme

    9 See also
    10 Notes
    11 References
    12 External links’

    Never have I seen such a grim table of contents.

    I am struck by the polar opposite of civilization in the quote from 2nd cenury which Michael Patterson-Seymour gave us to describe what life matters to Christians.

    Day into night for such a great many people who cannot suffer the God that made them.
    Some are gathered at the DNC.

  • PM

    The idea of “a life unworthy of life” was current in Germany before the Nazis took it up. It was already in the air amongst the liberal intellectuals of Weimar. The 80 year old jurist Karl Binding and the psychiatrist Alfred Hoche brought out a famous book in 1920 – Die Freigabe der Vernichtung Lebensunwertem Lebens [Allowing the Destruction of Life unworthy of Life.” It really is as vile as its title suggests.

    Regarding the mentally ill, Binding wrote, they are “living pointless lives and are a burden for society and their families”. He also believed it to be unfair on carers to keep such “lives unworthy of living” alive. As for the risk of mistakes, “humanity constantly loses so many lives by mistake, that just one more would hardly make a difference.” That such a man should have been Professor of Criminal Law at Heidelberg speaks volumes.

  • My first thought was that I forgot about the Weimar Republic, and now have homework.

    Then: I wonder if the seated President, with his Nobel Peace Prize awarded in anticipation, could be analogous to the Professor of Criminal Law at Heidelberg for having the same lack of regard for a life.

    The Professor as to lives needing carers, the President as to infants born alive; both using the lives of the caregiver and mother as victims to defend murderous intent.

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Absolutely Disgusting and Disgraceful: TSA Targets Paul Family

Friday, August 31, AD 2012

The details are here.

The reason for the blatant harassment?

TSA agents did not cite any specific threat, but insinuated the Paul family was a threat to Mitt Romney, claiming the nominee “might be nearby.”

If I ever needed concrete proof that what the TSA does is not only a violation of human dignity and absolutely intolerable in a country that claims to be free, but also completely unnecessary and politically-motivated (after all Paul publicly criticizes the TSA), this is it.

Love or hate his politics, the idea that Ron Paul, his wife, or anyone else in his family poses a threat to Mitt Romney or anyone else is an absolute joke. Incidents like these make me ashamed of my country, and I am more than disappointed that this is one problem that the GOP in neither able or willing to address.

There is no level of security that is worth this level of invasive and perverted government intrusion into our lives. If the price of “security” is seeing children traumatized, old and disabled people humiliated, women sexually violated, and citizens in general being treated as potential enemies and threats by a fraternity of uniformed government thugs, I will gladly do without it.

Live free or die, America.

 

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24 Responses to Absolutely Disgusting and Disgraceful: TSA Targets Paul Family

  • Government over-reach has a more subtle cost. It creates the conditions for “throwing the baby out with the bath-water.”

    When an agency allows an ongoing irritation to fester into an open sore, the People propose, and often eventually get, radical reforms that greatly undermine the benefits of regulation. We have seen this play out time and again and, yet, large organizations continue to stumble into the same trap:

    1. come up with a policy that appears to serve a short term need,
    2. institutionalize that policy without considering alternatives,
    3. reinforce that policy by mandating its absolute adherence, thereby eliminating flexibility on the ground,
    4. add an increasingly complicated and ever expanding set of exceptions, thereby creating the impression that the policy is arbitrary and capricious – in essence, not a policy at all,
    5. make it clear to subordinates that deviation on their part will be harshly dealt with, and
    6. refer back to the intent in step 1 to justify every over-reach.

    When agencies strip the first line supervisors of the authority to deviate from policy and procedure, what you are left with is, in fact, “arbitrary and capricious” in the sense that it doesn’t allow for the myriad of circumstances that demand deviation.

    I challenge Paul’s assertion that TSA is some rogue agency. It is not and could not be. It is badly mismanaged by high level, washingtonian, policy wonks without enough contact with the ground to know what in the hell is going on. Their reaction to every mistake is that it must be a local deviation from policy and procedure because it is impossible for them to imagine that they have made things so damned complicated that no one can effectively comply.

    The idea that Paul was targeted by an agency-wide effort to “punish” him for his public assaults on their agency is laughable. However, the Paul family’s experience is illuminating because in it we see individual agents of the TSA using the over-complicated regulatory architecture to both harass specific citizens and hide behind the underlying purpose for those byzantine regulations.

    Paul’s approach to the TSA – to scrap it as though it were a mistake from the start – is daft, short-sighted, and downright foolish. It displays a mind more accustomed to self-congratulatory rhetoric than careful consideration and it is that kind of nonsense that makes him an unpalatable choice for any executive position. He would, indeed, “throw the baby out with the bath water” and then be justly pilloried ten years from now for having set the conditions for an even more horrific terrorist attack than was perpetrated on September 11th.

    What TSA – and every other agency of our federal, state, and local governments – needs is a regulatory “scrape” – a congressionally mandated review of each and every regulation to determine its purpose, scope, and effectiveness. It can be done and is desperately needed in an age when no one can navigate government policy without the aid of counsel.

    There isn’t anything particularly “revolutionary” in seeking to wipe out government agencies. It is stupid though when those agencies are, in fact, necessary for our national security. A better approach than Paul’s would be to do something novel and farther reaching to make all federal agencies serve America better. For example, we could require that all US codes be reduced by a certain percentage – say 33% – and that all activating instructions be included in those codes. That would go a long way to forcing agencies to simplify and figure out what is actually necessary without creating chaos and risking catastrophe.

    Paul is a quack, an alarmist, and a fool.

  • For pity’s sake, the source is Lew Rockwell. Let the reader beware.

  • claiming the nominee “might be nearby.”

    Ok, so… are not the Romneys and Pauls friends? There were many electrons spilled during that little episode suggesting that Romney may ask Rand Paul to be his running mate.

  • “The idea that Paul was targeted by an agency-wide effort to “punish” him for his public assaults on their agency is laughable.”

    Right. Because governments throughout history have demonstrated that they usually almost always benevolent, standing high and loftily above ideological disputes, concerned solely with the public good, run not by petty human beings but by public-service automatons running permanently on a 10th-grade civics class programming script.

    I can’t help but think that a bunch of arrogant Brits once derided Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison and the rest of the founding fathers the way people like you disparage Ron Paul.

  • I can’t help but think that a comparison between Ron Paul and Washington, Jefferson, Adams, or Madison is a joke.

    As for the conspiracy theory, it relies upon the false idea that huge, multi-tiered organizations are good at secrecy. If this tale is to be believed, someone noticed that the Pauls were leaving from the airport, routed that information to TSA’s top echelons, a bunch of secret meetings were held to decide how best to “punish” the Pauls for Ron Paul’s attacks, and then specific instructions were sent back down to the officers on the ground to act upon. No whistleblowers… Nope, because the same officers you decry as incompetent, self-serving, and mean are also clever and discrete enough to keep their mouths shut.

    THAT is laughable.

    I don’t proclaim to know any details about this incident beyond what you posted but it seems more likely to me that officers on the ground didn’t like Paul and acted unilaterally and in a mean spirited fashion, under the guise of protecting Romney.

    The reporter sees a grand conspiracy where there is no evidence of one because it fits the narrative of Ron Paul supporters. This is precisely why Ron Paul supporters are considered “fringe.”

    It is a shame. Really, it is. Libertarianism needs a voice because it has a lot to offer to our understanding of the Framers’ intent and what makes America unique and special in the world.

    Frankly, your writing on this site has been an outstanding contribution to my thinking on economics and justice. I can’t for the life of me figure out how someone as bright and articulate as you are can be swept up in this conspiracy nonsense.

    This leads me to believe that you are leading us on, that your support for this whackaloon is a private joke. You just have to be having us on.

  • ” it seems more likely to me that officers on the ground didn’t like Paul and acted unilaterally and in a mean spirited fashion, under the guise of protecting Romney.”

    That’s basically what I think happened as well, but it has happened more than once. Do I think there is some official memo sent out to all TSA agents, that it is agency policy? No. Do I think the feelings of people who work for the TSA are decidedly anti-Paul and will manifest themselves in unwarranted harassment? Absolutely.

    I’m sorry I went off on you. But I really despise the TSA and what it does to innocent people on a daily basis. It needs its Army-McCarthy moment. It needs to be publicly asked, “have you no decency?”

  • The problem is that it isn’t the TSA, it is “government” in a very general way and I believe, as I stated above, that it is driven by the regulatory environment itself.

    The latitude to make decisions on what to pursue and when and how to manage the rules in different scenarios is shrinking at every level of government from local code enforcement, through state regulators, and into every facet of federal regulation. There are too damn many lawyers, and “thinking like a lawyer” means exploiting every non-specific word of every regulation. The result is increasingly complex regulations and draconian consequences to agents who want to be reasonable and effective.

    The vast majority of civil servants – including TSA by the way – want to do a good job, want to be flexible and smart in the application of their duties, and want to be thought of as honorable. You only have to be knocked down a few times for letting someone bring a slightly too large bottle of toothpaste through a line though before you start taking out your ruler every time you see a tube.

    The problem is the regulation, not the people and, until we clear the decks like Justinian did, this is just going to get worse. We have become too much like the Eastern Roman Empire. The complaine-of behavior by government actors is a result of that reality.

  • I don’t proclaim to know any details about this incident beyond what you posted but it seems more likely to me that officers on the ground didn’t like Paul and acted unilaterally and in a mean spirited fashion, under the guise of protecting Romney.

    Or that they asked to search the plane per standing regulations and Lew Rockwell got literary in telling the tale.

  • That may be true too. I have to agree with Bonchamps though about the broader complaint. The Pauls may be overly dramatic in this tale; doing so certainly fits Ron Paul’s political agenda. However, the fact remains that TSA is constantly running afoul of the kind of limits on government intrusion that American consider normal and acceptable.

    The questions are why and what should be done about it.

  • Isn’t this SOP for how democratically elected leaders become dictators lately? You start with harassment of minor opposition political opponents. Nothing too overt, just “enforcing the law, sir.” Slowly, it escalates into harassment of bigger opponents, with the quick addition of things like ‘routine reviews’ of broadcast licenses. Cf. Venezuela, Ukraine, for example.

  • However, the fact remains that TSA is constantly running afoul of the kind of limits on government intrusion that American consider normal and acceptable.

    Constantly? In my limited experience (in Syracuse, N.Y. and Austin, Tx), TSA agents are professional and cordial. It takes more time to get through security than was once the case, but the drill is in essence an extension and elaboration of procedures which have been in place in American airports since 1973. The effort may be misdrected and misinvested, but doing something else would require a discussion of what the optimum might be, which would require a discussion of granular details. Doing so is quite alien to the way the paulbot mind seems to work. You read The American Conservative for a while and you realize its contributors and commentors have no common ideology. They are people who love to bitch.

  • AD: I love it. I have two titanium, replacement knees. Every time I fly, I get frisked. And, since the got the X-Ray machines, they really go over me. That’s because they got rid of the “wands.”

    That certainly is not optimum. I was taught in HS American History that the government interned the Japanese Americans in 1940 . . . That was wrong, too.

    PS: When was the last time a a 72 year-old Congressman or a 62-year-old white businessman crashed a jumbo jet into a tall building filled with Americans?

  • My experiences have been generally good too. Of course I’m a “yes Officer,” follow instruction kind of guy.

    Unfortunately, it takes only repetition for an agency to forge a perception of unreasonableness. Pressing on a child’s crotch is probably over the line of propriety unless there is specific information showing that it is necessary. Certainly leaving notes in luggage about peoples’ sex toys looks bad.

    There have been too many cases in which TSA officers have behaved badly to ignore. That doesn’t mean that those cases are other than the rare exception but, when your agency is under close scrutiny , you can’t afford mistakes.

    I admit that I poorly chose the word “constantly.”

  • Bonchamps,
    I quit reading this blog almost a year ago, after becoming disenchanted by the vicious personal attacks on Ron Paul by many of the writer and commenters, in the few posts that had anything to do with his candidacy or policy positions. I was heartened then, when I came across a link to one of your posts and that brought me back to TAC blog to read your writings, whatever the subject matter.

    You apparently have a significantly greater understanding about true individual freedom, liberty, and responsibility than many who frequent this blog.

    When I read this post, I was anxious to go to the comments and see how quickly Dr. Paul was referred to as a “whackaloon”, a “quack”, or even more silly and meaningless, “associated with Lew Rockwell” Gasp! (maybe Tom Woods, a knowledgeable and respected Catholic historian and writer, could give some readers insight into Mr. Rockwell and his views. I’d urge them to visit his site)

    I think the champion among the commenters for promotion of the “banality of evil” would have to go to G-Veg for his rebuttal containing this gem…”Pressing on a child’s crotch is probably over the line of propriety unless there is specific information showing that it is necessary”. Probably!!? Unless!?!

    Bonchamps, you are correct. The TSA is just one of many group of individuals who, acting as government, threaten the freedom we are so rapidly losing in this world. Please, keep up the good work. I will look forward to your posts.

  • I quit reading this blog almost a year ago, after becoming disenchanted by the vicious personal attacks on Ron Paul by many of the writer and commenters, in the few posts that had anything to do with his candidacy or policy positions.

    Mr. Bunce, expressed disrespect for a politician who holds to a portfolio of ill-considered policy prescriptions does not constitute a ‘vicious personal attack’. Michelle Bachmann’s husband, minding his own business back in Minnesota, was subject to vicious personal attacks (though not by anyone on this board). Sometimes politicians are subject both to deserved rebukes and to vicious personal attacks (Charlie Crist comes to mind). Better manners, precision, a focus on the issue rather than the person, and a resistance and reserve to offering assessments of someone’s intelligence and character are all to be desired. Of course, palaeoworld discourse would look very different if these prescriptions were observed.

  • Mr. Bunce, understating for effect is an effective way of making a point. It requires a little thought on the part of the receiver though.

    If you consider my comments in succession, I believe you will see that they naturally flow from one to the other. There is something wrong with government but it is far more serious than Ron Paul and his supporters seem to grasp. I pointed out what, from personal experience, I percieve to be the problem and offered a solution. I critiqued Paul’s approach to dealing with the TSA’s over-reach and addressed the underlying conspiracy allegation with what I believe is a more likely chain of events.

    Theses are policy matters. You addressed none of them and, in true Ron Paul supporter fashion, threw up a victim flag as a rebuttal.

    As for personal attacks, there are several possibilities here: 1. There really is a giant conspiracy and Ron Paul and his supporters are the only ones able to see the truth. Of course, I’ve worked in government for nearly 20 years and have universally found that it is nearly impossible to keep matters confidential that are required to be confidential, much less those that are unlawful. Far too many people would have to be involved and remain silent than is remotely possible. 2. Ron Paul believes really does believe this nonsense. If so, he is, indeed, a whackaloon, a quack, and a fool. Of course it is as likely that he doesn’t believe it, that the ridiculous positions and allegations that regularly flow from his inner circle and office are merely tools to stir up his base, a base that he knows is easily upset and quite vocal.

    There may be other explanations of course and we could spend all day theorizing but, in the end, Ron Paul and his supporters will continue to yell from the sidelines and, as I said before, that is a national tragedy.

    Libertarian thought is the ill-understood undercurrent that drives American politics on the Left and Right. It is the intellectual voice of that visceral response to statism, that gut sense that most Americans possess in some degree that “I just want to be left alone and would be better off if I were.” The tragedy is that Paul is the voice of Libertarianism and he is either a manipulator or an idiot but he is not up to the challenge of bringing Libertarian thought to center stage.

    There is, indeed, something wrong with American government at the local, state, and federal levels and Libertrianism is part of an authentically American response to those problems. If you agree then I urge you to outgrow Ron Paul’s conspiracy-laden fringe movement and carry your ideas into mainstream political discourse.

  • Well, I think what people are sick of are the haughty dismissals of ideas that appear to be unapproved by the mainstream and considered uncouth by politosnobs.

    Ron Paul is a decent and honorable man. And he did bring Austrian economics center stage by repeatedly and accurately predicting the collapse of the housing bubble on national television. This was primarily responsible for my own personal turn away from statist interventionism towards free market economics. It became quite evident to me who understood how economies work and who was simply blowing moralistic smoke.

    As for conspiracy theories, well – as I said above – governments are generally evil in my opinion. I see nothing insane or deranged about this belief. And in fact the people who dismiss conspiracy theories about their own governments are often eager and willing to believe that foreign governments engage in elaborate conspiracies, especially those marked as enemies by our State Department. There is no evil too dark, dastardly, and Dr. Evil-like in its complexity for Putin, Chavez, or the Ayatollah. But our own leaders, well, they have halos, wings, and harps, perpetually fighting good fight with God’s unconditional blessing.

    It’s enough to make one puke.

  • I agree on free markets and reining the Fed.

    However, get the facts out there. I recommend reading whatever you can find (on the net) by James Grant, publisher of “Grant’s Interest Rate Observer.”

    Today’s WSJ Op-ed page article, “The Federal Reserve: From Central Bank to Central Planner” by John H. Cochrane, which is a fair overview, despite his over-acceptance of most of the “other duties as assigned” that the Fed usurped since 1914.

    Simply put: The Fed was set up as the lender of last resort for banks (my definitio: an FDIC-insured bank that takes public deposits, a la Glass-Steagall – not Wall Street mega-millionaires, or “too big to fail”, etc.) as such it would lend to banks when they needed liquidity to make loans, meet unexpected deposit withdrawals, etc, with such lending collateralized by sound financial assets held in the Fed vault.

    The banks’ solvency was (should be) solely the responsibilities of owners and managements.

    The Fed’s founding legislation did not empower it to set interest rates, play with the money supply, or manage the economy. In short, it was to be the central bank, the bank for banks, not the central planner for the USA.

    In 1971, the US completed the abandonment of the gold standard and went on the PhD/central planner standard. We see the serial catastrophes that caused.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/must-read-jim-grant-crucifies-fed-explains-why-gold-standard-best-option

  • Bonchamps, you are seriously misinformed if you think a specie based currency prevents asset bubbles. It does no such thing; you had a grand-daddy bubble in the late 1920s in equities. Neither is a specie-based currency or a currency board necessary to re-stabilize prices or to maintain optimal levels of price stability. Neither can the most recent bubble in real estate prices be fairly attributed to the Federal Reserve: you had bubbles as bad or worse in Britain, Ireland, Spain, and China and the decoupling of real estate prices and nominal incomes in the Case-Shiller 10 city set was manifest five years before the Federal Reserve undertook any unusual moves vis a vis the federal funds rate.

    Maintenance of the gold standard was disastrous in this country during the years running from 1929 to 1933 and the country which attempted to institute a currency board most recently was Argentina. That is not the example you want anyone to follow.

    As for Austrian economics, why not look at the bibliographies of Robert Higgs, Hans Herman-Hoppe, Peter Boettke, Steven Horwitz, and Robert Murphy. Higgs has not published any applied research in 30 years or more and never produced much. Murphy has published one piece of hypothesis testing (in cooperation with several others). The other three have between them published a few case studies over the last 25 years. That is an atypical form to make use of in economics literature and that is really it for them. Boettke is quite verbose, publishing reams of commentary and intellectual history and what not, but few observational studies of anything. These people have not been run out of academe (bar, perhaps, Murphy) and economics is not molecular biology or anthropology: research conducted therein is pretty low overhead. Purveyors of vulgar Austrianism are bloody sure we should be making radical policy changes which have uhappy histories and behind these prescriptions is…nothing.

  • To whom are you directing your comments? I want to know whether I should be offended or not.

    I’ll own my writing but no other here. Reading again what I wrote above, there are ideas I would express differently but none I take back. I’m not the slightest bit intimidated by the unknown and believe I’ve given fair hearing to Libertarianism. A “snob” I don’t believe myself to be.

    As for Ron Paul the man, it may well be that he is a great guy: honorable, smart, a good judge, and a patriot. I don’t dismiss the idea that he is a better man than I know. However, I think many of his ideas are extreme and I fundamentally disagree with his plans, such as they are, for the TSA; which, I feel compelled to remind you, is the only of Paul’s ideas that you specifically detailed in your post.

    Finally, your conspiracy theory comment is a straw man and, given your demonstrated debating skills, you know it. I have said only that the theory that the TSA is out to get Ron Paul because of his valliant stand against them is a conspiracy theory of the firat order and is laughable. If you want to give me a list of domestic and foreign conspiracy theories to check off, I’ll be happy to own any that I hold.

  • G-Veg,

    I wasn’t speaking to anyone in particular. I was just rambling about tendencies I’ve noticed.

    Art,

    I think it is simplistic to reduce Ron Paul’s/the Austrian school’s account of the housing bubble to “blame it on the Fed.” That’s all I’m going to say for now.

  • AD: Central panning has proven catastrophic. Look at the record from 1914.

    This housing bubble-bust/CDO catastrophe/auto industry implosion/great recession could not have happened, or have been as all-devastating, without Fed and big government/do-gooder interference in the markets. They eternally cause asset and resource misallocations.

    Obama and collectivists/central planners, bless their hearts, have the gall to dishonestly blame free markets.

    Since late 2008, I’ve been, whenever I get ten minutes, trying to put together the pieces that caused this mess. Hey, no one else has!

    I misspent the past 35 years in the financial services industry. As old Navy vets would say, “I shit you not. I was there.”

    I worked through financial fiascoes since the US southwest energy and midwest agricultural crises of the early 1980’s; the lesser-developed country debt crisis of the mid-1980’s (about that time the first national bank chartered in the US failed); the S&L/RTC crisis of 1989 to 1992+; the commercial real estate bust of the early 1990’s. Throw in there a little incident concerning a certain Long-Term Capital Management, which is important to the present maelstrom as it was the Fed-arranged bail-out.

    Then, we had good ten years – no loan losses, high profits (the SEC was running amok forcing banks not to provide reserves for loan losses – “I shit you not.” I have the memos.) – and a perceived, new paradigm.

    The Fed kept rates far too low, far too long. Each time rates went down there was a wave of mortgage refinancings. And, people began to use their homes as ATM’s to buy beamers and vacation homes, with widespread tragic consequences.

    HUD capo Andrew Cuomo directed US GSE’s (FNMA/FHLMC) to rapidly expand mortgage purchases adding far too much liquidity (dollars available to lend) into the residential real estate markets. The appraisal profession refused to recognize that house prices cannot keep rising 10% – 15% a year when the numbers of households (median family incomes were stagnant from 1999). Numbers of families with incomes to support $3,000; $4,000; 5,000 a month loan payments were not increasing; and (Why don’t central planners and PhD’s look at charts? – Because it wasn’t in the central plan.) the GDP was not rising in step with house prices.

    Too many embraced the myth that real estate prices never drop (even though we had seen it ten years earlier, and several other periods).

    Everyone: I mean everyone was making money, which impeded corrective action.

    I could go on, but it gets too sad and it’s Saturday.

    Paul Ryan was one of the few to try to slow down FNMA/FHLMC. For his efforts the dirty pols/GSE employees (see 2004/5 SEC fine of $400 million for FNMA accounting lies) sent letters to his constituents charging he was out to raise home loan interest rates.

    I won’t go over the hundreds of millions of dollars (including $143,00 to neophyte senator Barry Sotoero) in political graft payments by FNMA and FHLMC. That is grist for another mill.

  • A. There is no central planning. The various levels of government interfere in markets as a matter of routine, but not in any co-ordinated way. Sometimes the intervention is a function of patron-client politics (see the tax code), sometimes an exercise in public relations (the Robert C. Byrd Center for Blah Blah Blah), and sometimes it is in response to factors very circumscribed in space and time (e.g. local land-use planning).

    B. The Federal Reserve acts as a lender of last resort. It also regulates the dimensions of the monetary base and influences the dimensions of broader measures of money. That is what central banks do. It is not some sort of American equivalent to GOSPLAN and past efforts to defend a dollar-gold parity have had most unfortunate results. That is one aspect of why we have ended up with a fiat currency on an independent float, as preferred by that arch central planner, Milton Friedman.

  • AD: Don’t let the historical record or the facts get in your way.

Romney’s Speech: Likes & Dislikes

Thursday, August 30, AD 2012

Likes: Romney did a fine job undermining the hysterical “war on women” propaganda being shoved down our throats 24/7 by the DNC. Undecided voters in the battleground states will be less likely to accept the notion that Romney is a “dangerous extremist” who wants to send women “back to the dark ages.” He stated his willingness to defend innocent life and the institution of marriage but did not press the point.

I appreciated his emphasis on family, community, and religious faith comprising the foundation of social and economic life in the United States – this, in contrast to inefficient welfare bureaucracies and self-appointed nannies deciding what is best for us. The best social safety net is a spouse, a job, and a church.

I also appreciated his insistence that success in business is not something to be ashamed of, but something to celebrate, and that private-sector experience is an asset to the Presidency.

Dislikes: Of course my co-bloggers and half of my readers will disagree (and that’s ok), but the reassertion of America’s old foreign policy really strikes a sour note with me. I wasn’t particularly thrilled when Chris Christie called for a “second American century” either. A country with financial problems and cultural divisions as deep as ours, and with a serious and unattended crisis on its southern border, cannot afford to be the policeman of the world.

Granted I didn’t expect Romney to say anything about the broken border tonight, but in my view this is the most serious national security threat and the one that ought to be the top priority. One of the reasons I supported Ron Paul in the primaries is because I agree with his foreign policy views – and reject those of the rest of the GOP.

But since I don’t really believe that Obama’s foreign policy is significantly different, at least for my tastes, this is really a non-issue for me as far as the election itself goes.

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9 Responses to Romney’s Speech: Likes & Dislikes

  • It was a very good speech, perhaps great given the context. I felt this way before the convention, but am doubly convinced now: Romney wins, and will net about 350 or so electoral votes.

  • I thought Romney used humor effectively and was quite good at hammering away how absymal Obama’s stewardship of the economy has been. Best line: “America needs jobs and lots of them.” This election will not be close. Romney 54-Obama 46.

  • You two are way more optimistic than I am. I think Romney has a better chance than the MSM is giving him, but the Obama campaign must be taken seriously and victory cannot be assumed.

  • Great speech, and for these days. I felt sorry that he even had to address some of the slime being thrown at him, because it’s an embarassment to this country and the mindset of the current admin.
    67 days left to find the opportunity to thank God for these two men, Romney and Ryan, and to ask for His help in the face diatribes being prepared right about now.
    Ryan’ speech was on the mark, too.

  • I think Romney’s speach was very good. For someone who according to US pudits is not a good speaker, I think he did very well. He didn’t get caried away – emphasized, as other speakers have done, the American dream, and how it has not been fulfilled in the past 4 years. The good thing was he stated their plan – broadly of course, but he enunciated it; and also did a good job of despatching – “We will stop the sea from rising…..” and kept it simple – the love of a family etc. A degree of knocking Obama’s performance, but not too much, and spoke of making America great again, instead of the decline under Obama.
    Its important – speaking as an outsider – that America remains strong militarily as well as economically. The US cannot abdicate its position as the leader of the free world – too many have done that, notably UK and Europe.
    Loved Cdl. Dolan’s final blessing. Apparently he is doing the same for the Dems – I hope he usues the same speach 🙂

  • It’s all words. It doesn’t matter who’s steering the wheel; it’s so small and the machine is so big…as a centrist it does not surprise me that approx 35-40% of the people don’t want so called obamacare, just the same percentage that did not want to go to war with a country that did not attack us. Our system is failing us and we are letting it fail us. We let this great entertainment called politics, pundits, blogging take a hold of us and we spew as many intelligently sounding negative words at the opposition as possible and think we’ve done some good for the terrible situation were in, but we haven’t done nothin. I’ve not heard one viable long term solution that a majority of the people agree on or of a solution to a wedge issue that gets buy in from both sides.
    We desperately need a viable 3rd party in our political system and I’d love to see Ron Paul run for president as he would be the best candidate and I would vote for him.

  • “but the Obama campaign must be taken seriously and victory cannot be assumed.”

    Indeed, but all the signs are there that Obama is in serious trouble. Recent polls, even with a D+7 or a D+9 sampling bias,are showing the race as tied or Obama or Romney with a one point advantage. Come election day this year the electorate in regard to party preference are likely to be dead even to D+2. I will do a post on all of this in the next week or so, but there are quite a few signs as to what is in the wind.

  • Romney did a fine job undermining the hysterical “war on women” propaganda…
    –Bonchamps

    I certainly wish for that to be so but I couldn’t tell – I’m not of the hysteria persuasion. Seems to me that that meme is getting tired and overexposed. I call it NOW WOW BOW WOW – only the first two are true acronyms. 😉 When the Democrats assemble in convention and put their Slutwalk types on stage, they’ll only be playing to their true believers and driving away many, many swing voters – that’s my opinion, take it for what it’s worth.

    The best social safety net is a spouse, a job, and a church.
    –ibid

    Truly.

    By the way, if one turns down a job – even if it’s a crummy job – most people insist one should be cut off the dole. But, if one turns down a church or an espousement nobody objects to keeping one on the dole. Why is that?

     

    I’ve not heard one viable long term solution that a majority of the people agree on…
    francodrummer

    And you won’t, as long as “a majority of the people” are spoiled children. Why? Because the “one viable long term solution” requires “sweat, toil and tears” (“blood”? – not yet) and that’s not going to be fun.

    We desperately need a viable 3rd party…
    –ibid

    If that’s not idle talk, then jump in and start helping to build one. Nobody’s stopping you.

    P.S. So you’d “love to see Ron Paul run for president”, eh? Been there, done that.

  • Reactive not proactive like the entire least watched convention. Made no case whatsoever for Romney’s economic plans because he quivers in fear from class warfare. Provided no anticipatory knockdowns of Dem talking points in this area either. Striving to make no outright mistakes I suppose it succeeded at that. Eastwood and Rubio were the only striking, hard speaking and thus memorable speechifiers, putting the very touching tributes in a separate category. Christie was a major disappointment.

    As for the election yes Mr Zummo and Mr McCleary are doing reasonable extrapolations for a “normal” campaign. Th recent CO academic analysis said the same thing. Of course in a normal campaign McCaskill loses by 10 points in Missouri. I look for October surprises by the Dems who are pretty good at them.