Friday, November 28, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
To the dismay of many Christians, John McCain was not elected president of the United States. Were it not for the support of evangelicals and other conservative Christians, McCain would have been more soundly defeated in what was probably his last election. It didn’t really matter what McCain believed or didn’t believe; these Christians turned out in droves to vote for him because he was a Republican. As bad as Barack Obama was, most Christians who voted for McCain would have voted Republican no matter who the Democratic and Republican nominees were.
Throughout the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century, Yellow Dog Democrats in the South consistently voted for Democrats no matter who the Democratic and Republican nominees were. The idea was that they would rather vote for a yellow dog than a Republican. Christians who consistently vote Republican – and especially after decades of Republican compromises and sellouts – are even worse. They would vote for a dead yellow dog over a Democrat.
But it gets even worse. Instead of Christians admitting how detrimental to freedom the Bush administration was, acknowledging that McCain was a pathetic excuse for a real conservative, conceding that the Republicans badly disappointed them once again, holding their noses shut with the firmest of grips, positioning in front of their mouths a barf bag saved from their last airline trip, closing their eyes tightly – and then voting for McCain, some Christians, or rather, McChristians, actively supported him. Some even went so far as to put McCain/Palin bumper stickers on their cars, signs in their yards, and buttons on their shirts.
It is bad enough for a Christian to do evil by voting for what he thinks is the lesser of two evils; it is another thing to embrace, defend, and promote evil.
Whenever I hear anyone, and especially conservative Christian Republicans, talk about voting for the lesser of two evils, I think of an election between Stalin and Hitler. I can just imagine one group of people saying that they are voting for Stalin because Hitler believes in a, b, and c, while the other side says that they are voting for Hitler because Stalin believes in x, y, and z.
This analogy really fits the recent election since the choice was between a socialist or national socialist. The newspaper headlines for the day after Election Day should all have read: SOCIALIST WINS OVER NATIONAL SOCIALIST.
As bad as Obama is, it doesn’t change the fact that the Republicans deserved to lose. But because the Democrats didn’t deserve to win, some Christians thought they faced a dilemma and, after assuming the position outlined above, voted for McCain.
But there was no dilemma. There were other choices on the ballot – like Chuck Baldwin, a conservative Christian who is miles ahead of McCain when it comes to being a real conservative. But it comes as no surprise that Baldwin was rejected since Ron Paul was likewise rejected in the Republican primaries.
Christians also had the option of abstaining "from all appearance of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22); that is, not voting. For the Christian, it is better to endure an evil than to commit one. Even if McCain is the lesser of two evils, he is still evil. And it is never right to do evil. Period. The Apostle Paul said it was slanderously reported of him that he believed in a philosophy of "let us do evil that good may come" (Romans 3:8). But that is the philosophy of many Christians.
But is McCain the lesser of two evils? Consider his record:
* McCain scores a dismal 36 on the New American magazine’s Freedom index.
* McCain is worse on foreign policy than Bush.
* McCain joined with Ted Kennedy to sponsor an illegal-alien amnesty bill (S.1033, 2005).
* McCain is a CFR member who supports expanding the power of the UN.
* McCain has voted against income tax, capital gains, and estate tax cuts.
* McCain was rated an F– on gun issues by Gun Owners of America in 2004 and 2006.
* McCain is the Republican behind the attack on free speech known as McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform.
* McCain supports draconian environmentalist legislation.
Both McCain and Obama voted for the Wall Street bailout bill. Both support more government intervention to "fix" the economy. Both support the war on drugs and the war on terror. Both support the Federal Reserve. Both support maintaining the welfare state and the warfare state. And as Anthony Gregory pointed out before the election: "Both are for preserving virtually everything the government does" and "neither proposes to abolish anything."
McCain is marginally better on some issues than Obama, but how hard is that? There is not a dime’s worth of difference between McCain and Obama when it comes to issues of substance like peace, liberty, property, free markets, sound money, and the size and scope of government.
I suppose that the main reason Christians think that McCain is less of an evil than Obama is the abortion issue. There is no question that Obama’s views on abortion are reprehensible. But then he doesn’t claim to be pro-life like McCain does. If McCain is so pro-life then why did he vote to confirm to the U.S. Supreme Court pro-abortion justices like Stephen Breyer, Ruth Ginsburg, and David Souter? Why did he consider the pro-abortion senator Joe Lieberman for his vice presidential running mate? Why does he think it is okay to kill babies who had the misfortune to be conceived via rape or incest? Why has he voted for Health and Human Services Title X funding for Planned Parenthood?
And then there is the issue of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and God knows where else the U.S. military will be sent on the next mission of death and destruction. There is no ethical difference between being rabidly pro-abortion and being rabidly pro-war. Obama is the former and McCain is the latter – but both positions are anything but pro-life. Killing babies outside of the womb in Iraq is just as much an evil as killing babies inside the womb in America.
But far worse than voting for the perceived lesser of two evils is championing evil. Christians who embraced, defended, and promoted John McCain because he was a Republican and was not Barack Obama should be ashamed of themselves for being pragmatic instead of being dogmatic. They should also be embarrassed, not only that they were so uninformed about McCain (I guess they relied too much on those Christian Coalition voter guides), but because about the only thing they could think of to say about him started with either "Barack Obama is" or "Barack Obama will."
How shallow and how pathetic are these McChristians. They can be counted on to enthusiastically and unconditionally support the next litter of yellow dog Republican candidates.
This piece was written by Laurence M. Vance. The original can be viewed here.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Captain, what do you think, I asked, of the part your soldiers play?
The Captain answered, I do not think. I do not think, I obey!
Do you think you should shoot a patriot down and help a tyrant slay?
The Captain answered, I do not think. I do not think, I obey!
Do you think your conscience was meant to die and your brains to rot away?
The Captain answered, I do not think. I do not think, I obey!
Then if this is your soldiers code, I cried, your mean unmanly crew,
And for all of your equipment, guns and braid, I'm more of a man than you.
For whatever my lot on earth may be and whether I swim or sink,
I can say with pride - I do not obey. I do not obey - I think!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.
Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, then WHY do we have deficits? Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, then WHY do we have inflation and high taxes? You and I don't propose a federal budget, the president does.
You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does. You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does. You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does. You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.
One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president, and nine Supreme Court justices. 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.
I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.
I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a president to do one damn thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.
Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.
What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.
The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? Nancy Pelosi. She is the leader of the majority party. She and fellow House members, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.
It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million can not replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.
If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair. If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red. If the Army & Marines are in Iraq, it's because they want them in Iraq. If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.
There are no insoluble government problems.
Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.
These 545 people and they alone, are responsible. They and they alone, have the power. They and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses. Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees, we should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
"'My country, right or wrong,' is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, "'My mother, drunk or sober.'"
-G. K. Chesterton
Monday, November 3, 2008
By: Joe Sobran.
Nowadays, in startling contrast to my youth, it’s very fashionable to claim to be a conservative. Back in the Sixties, conservatism was still rather a fugitive thing, and the fashion was liberalism or even radicalism. By the late Eighties, liberal had become “the L-word,” and liberals were looking for a less alarming euphemism, such as progressive. As I say, the change is startling.
But have things really changed that much? Or is the change really superficial? I’m afraid the latter is the case. The airwaves are clogged with the clamorous voices of talk radio, or “squawk radio,” as I like to call it — people claiming to be conservative, though they don’t sound much like the great conservatives I grew up admiring: Bill Buckley, Frank Meyer, James Burnham, Russell Kirk, Willmoore Kendall, and Barry Goldwater, to name a few.
In fact many of today’s so-called conservatives seem to me to be liberals without knowing it, no matter how much they say they detest liberalism. Rush Limbaugh, to name only the most audible of them, seems to have no real philosophy, no awareness of conservative literature outside journalism. His premises are hard to distinguish from liberalism’s. Apparently he equates favoring war with conservatism. He likes big government just fine, as long as it’s shooting something. He says the Republican Party will save Social Security and Medicare, huge liberal programs which a real conservative thinks shouldn’t have existed in the first place. Sometimes, after listening to him for a half hour, I want to beg him, “Rush, how about equal time for real conservatism?”
Well, just what is “real” conservatism? This is an old question, much debated. Dictionaries define it in such terms as “preference for tradition” and “resistance to change,” but these are too general to take us very far. After all, nearly everyone wants to preserve some tradition and opposes some kinds of change, and people we call conservatives often want to do away with certain traditions and bring about important changes.
And all of life is in flux at all times. You can never conserve everything. We are forced to face the question of which things we should conserve, which we should discard or even destroy, and which we should let pass away. When a house catches fire, we may have to decide very quickly what we can rescue from the flames and abandon all the rest.
And conservatism isn’t just passivity. It’s active maintenance. An old house needs repair and painting, a garden needs weeding, trees and shrubs need pruning. To conserve is to renew. Conservatism can’t mean neglect.
And conservatism varies from place to place, from people to people. The great Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn, even under the Soviet regime, wanted to preserve tsarism and the Russian Orthodox Church. Islam is in many ways deeply conservative, but we have also seen it take radical and revolutionary forms. Mormonism was once seen as radical, but today it seems a very conservative religion. The same might be said of Christianity in various forms. And as G.K. Chesterton says, “It is futile to discuss reform without reference to form.”
The word conservatism came into general use after the French Revolution of 1789, its first and most eloquent spokesman being Edmund Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France. Burke argued for the traditional liberties of the English against the “abstract” Rights of Man advocated by the revolutionaries, predicting correctly that such abstract rights, with no force of custom behind them, would perish in a reign of terror. The revolutionaries, he said, were so obsessed with man’s rights that they had forgotten man’s nature.
History has vindicated Burke’s warning, but many have doubted that his kind of conservatism fully applies to America. We don’t have the sort of history England and France had, a feudal ancien régime with a social hierarchy and inherited status. It is even argued that our only tradition is a liberal one, of legal equality for everyone. After all, we are not divided into peasants versus noblemen, or anything of the sort. We even take pride in our social fluidity and more or less equal opportunity.
This brings us to a paradox. The most eloquent of our own Founding Fathers was Thomas Jefferson, who welcomed the French Revolution and had no use for Burke. Yet most American conservatives look to Jefferson as their intellectual patriarch, he who wrote the Declaration of Independence and proclaimed that “all men are created equal.”
Today conservatism has become a confusing term. It can refer to a Jeffersonian vision of limited government and strict construction of the U.S. Constitution, or it can be equated with President Bush’s militarism and what has been called his “big-government conservatism.” And of course the title is also claimed by “neoconservatives” who share Bush’s enthusiasm for war and are, when it comes to social policy, more like liberals than Jeffersonian conservatives.
Both Bush and the “neocons” favor an undefined war and speak of a “global democratic revolution.” But what is conservative about war and revolution? It has often been pointed out that this sort of talk is more akin to Leon Trotsky than to Edmund Burke. Bush even speaks of eliminating tyranny from the face of the Earth — a neat trick, if you can do it.
Here I think we should keep in mind Burke’s distinction between “the abstract rights of man” and man’s actual nature. Conservatives tend to believe in Original Sin, or something like it, that will forever prevent man from achieving perfection. This attitude produces a disposition that tends to be both skeptical and tolerant, deeply dubious about overhauling society. Societies and traditions can’t be built from scratch; as Burke said, we must build out of existing materials — that is, real human beings and their habits, rooted in history.
Liberals, on the other hand, speak freely of “ideals,” imagined perfections that we can achieve if only we have the will. “I have a dream,” as Martin Luther King said. Hence liberals typically talk of abolishing evils — “eliminating poverty,” “eradicating racism,” “doing away with prejudice,” “ending exploitation,” and so forth. This usually means strenuous government action, massive coercion and bureaucracy, because these things don’t just evaporate of themselves.
Conservatives don’t speak much of “ideals.” They think, more modestly, in terms of norms, which are never perfectly realized, but only approximated by sinful man. Consider homosexuality. Whereas the liberal wants to impose “gay rights,” by law and coercion, the conservative sees homosexuality as a defect, which to some extent can and must be tolerated, because it can’t be “eradicated,” but it can’t rationally be exalted to the plane of normality; and he knows that all talk of “same-sex marriage” is nonsense, like trying to breed calves from a pair of bulls. But to the liberal, the only issue is equal rights; human nature and normality have nothing to say to him. What the conservative sees as life’s mysteries, the liberal sees as mere irrationality.
One word is notably absent from the liberal vocabulary: enough. For the liberal, there is hardly such a thing as “too much” government. There is no point at which liberals say, “Well, we’ve done it. We’ve realized our dreams. We have all the government we need, and we should stop now.” No, they always want more government. There is no such thing as enough government.
Again, Chesterton sums up liberalism in a phrase: “the modern and morbid habit of always sacrificing the normal to the abnormal.” We see this again in the grisly business of abortion. To the typical conservative it is an ugly thing, something that may not be entirely “eliminated” but must be contained, condemned, and above all must never be accepted as normal. But to the typical liberal it is a right — even “a fundamental human and constitutional right”!
The role of Lincoln
Consider Abraham Lincoln, claimed by both liberals and conservatives. Most Americans consider him our greatest president — a view I emphatically reject. But both sides have a point in claiming him. In some respects he was rather conservative — for example, in his willingness to compromise on slavery before the Civil War. He doubted that he had the constitutional authority to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which he finally justified only as a wartime measure, applying only to the seceding states.
But he finally became an all-out abolitionist, and he had a radical dream of colonizing all free blacks outside the United States; in his 1862 State of the Union message, he called for a constitutional amendment authorizing such colonization! In addition, Lincoln was a high-handed centralizer of power, who suspended habeas corpus and crushed freedom of speech and press throughout the North. Like most liberals, he talked of freedom — “a new birth of freedom,” in fact — but the reality was power. Under the Constitution, he insisted, no state could withdraw from the Union for any reason. This was a view Jefferson did not share. The United States had begun in secession. Lincoln himself had once called secession “a most sacred right, which we believe is to liberate mankind.”
A more recent conservative, Willmoore Kendall, who died in 1967, argued that American conservatism is rooted in its own constitutional tradition, best understood in the light of The Federalist Papers, where the limits of the Federal Government are clearly set forth. As far as I can tell, Lincoln was entirely ignorant of The Federalist Papers, as well as of the Articles of Confederation — a point I’ll return to.
An even more recent conservative, Michael Oakeshott, who died in 1990, was English rather than American, but he had much to teach us. Oakeshott, like Burke, decried “rationalism in politics” — by which he chiefly meant what we call liberalism. He observed that some people (liberals) see government as “a vast reservoir of power,” to be mobilized for whatever purposes they imagine would benefit mankind. By contrast, Oakeshott argued, the conservative sees governing as “a specific and limited activity,” chiefly concerned with civility and the rule of law, not with “dreams” and “projects.” I consider Oakeshott the most eloquent expositor of conservatism and the conservative temperament since Burke.
I have already said that Lincoln was poorly acquainted with the Founding Fathers. By contrast, Jefferson Davis was thoroughly familiar with them, and in his history of the Confederacy (too little read nowadays) he makes a powerful, I would say irrefutable, case that every state has a constitutional right to withdraw — to secede — from the Union.
In the North, secession is still seen as a regional “Southern” issue, inseparable from, and therefore discredited by, slavery. But this is not so at all. At various times, Northern states had threatened to secede for various reasons. On one occasion, Thomas Jefferson said they should be allowed to “go in peace.” After all, the whole point of the Declaration of Independence was that these “are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States.” Not, as Lincoln later said, a single “new nation,” but (to quote Willmoore Kendall) “a baker’s dozen of new sovereignties.”
And the Articles of Confederation reinforced the point right at the beginning: “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence.” And at the end of the Revolutionary War, the British specifically recognized the sovereignty of all 13 states! This is flatly contrary to Lincoln’s claim that the states had never been sovereign.
But didn’t the Constitution transfer sovereignty from the states to the Federal Government, outlawing secession? Not at all. The Constitution says nothing of the kind. And as Davis wrote, sovereignty cannot be surrendered by mere implication. In fact, several states ratified the Constitution on the express condition that they reserved the right to “resume” the powers they were “delegating” — that is, secede. And if one state could secede, so could the others. A “state” was not a mere province or subdivision of a larger entity; it was sovereign by definition.
Claiming sovereignty for the Federal Government, Lincoln felt justified in violating the Constitution in order to “save the Union” — by which he meant “saving” Federal sovereignty. One of the best-kept secrets of American history is that many if not most Northerners thought the Southern states had the right to secede. This is why Lincoln shut down hundreds of newspapers and arrested thousands of critics of his war. He had to wage a propaganda war against the North itself.
Were you told this in your history classes? Neither was I. We are still being told that Lincoln’s cause was the cause of liberty; just as we are told that he was the friend of the black man, though he wanted the freed slaves to be sent abroad, leaving an all-white America. Lincoln had a dream too, but it wasn’t Martin Luther King’s.
Lincoln achieved what the Princeton historian James MacPherson calls “the Second American Revolution,” giving the Federal Government virtually full authority over the internal affairs of the states. Columbia’s George Fletcher credits him with creating “a new Constitution.” A third historian, Garry Wills of Northwestern University, says he “changed America,” transforming our understanding of the Constitution.
Mind you, these are not Lincoln’s critics — they are his champions! Do they listen to themselves? They are saying exactly what Jefferson Davis said: that Lincoln was abandoning the original Constitution! But they think this is a high compliment. Lincoln himself claimed he was “saving” the old Constitution. His admirers, without realizing it, are telling us a very different story.
Peaceful secession was a state’s ultimate constitutional defense against Federal tyranny. Without it, the Federal Government has been able to claim new powers for itself while stripping the states of their powers. Lincoln neither foresaw nor intended this when he crushed secession. But today the states are helpless when, for example, the Federal Courts suddenly declare that no state may constitutionally protect unborn children from violent death in the womb. If even one state had been able to secede, the U.S. Supreme Court would never have dared provoke it to do so by issuing such an outrageous ruling, with no support in the Constitution.
But Lincoln has been deified as surely as any Roman emperor. Today he is widely ranked as one of our “greatest presidents,” along with another bold usurper of power, Franklin Roosevelt. And as I say, even conservatives, so called, join in his praise. President Bush and his supporters invoke both Lincoln and Roosevelt to justify the war in Iraq and any powers he chooses to claim in its prosecution. In the old days, Americans told the government what our rights were; now it tells us. And we meekly obey.
If Bush and his right-wing supporters are conservatives, what on earth would a liberal be like? In these last six years, the Federal Government has vastly increased in power, with a corresponding diminution of our freedoms. Every American child is now born $150,000 in debt — his estimated share of the national debt, which he had no say in incurring. And of course the figure will be much higher when he is old enough to vote.
Meanwhile, he will go to a school, where he will be taught that he enjoys “self-government,” thanks to great men like Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Bush.
What passes for “conservatism” now is a very far cry indeed from even the limited-government conservatism of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan just a generation ago. It is merely a variant of the liberalism it pretends to oppose.
How do these pseudoconservatives differ from liberals? Chiefly, for some reason, in their reflexive enthusiasm for war. Ponder that. War is the most destructive and least conservative of all human activities. It is big government par excellence; it breeds tyranny and, often, revolution. Yet most Americans now identify it with conservatism!
I am very much afraid that the next generation will have forgotten what real conservatism means: moral stability, piety, private property, and of course the rule of law (as distinct from the mad multiplication of regulations).
But genuine conservatism will reassert itself, even if it has to find another name and new spokesmen. If the Bushes and Limbaughs have usurped and discredited the word conservatism for the time being, we must try to take it back. If we can’t, we’ll just have to find a label they can’t steal.