Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

08/25/2009 (2:59 pm)

Changing the Subject

meme0824mergedThe memeorandum.com display on the right indicates blog and news site traffic last night after about 8 PM, when Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he was going to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate CIA interrogators of Wahabist detainees. In case you’re not familiar with memeorandum, that display represents an unusually large amount of traffic for a single topic. I regard this as a troubling instance of the practice of politicians in power to change the subject when the public narrative is not going their way. Clearly, Obama wanted the attention off of health care.

Although changing the subject is nothing new in human communication, we got used to a particularly cynical brand of it during the Clinton years, in which the President developed the habit of firing lethal missiles at Middle Eastern targets when he needed a distraction. It’s not that there existed no good reasons to fire missiles; it’s that his use of them accomplished nothing international aside from embarrassment, and served only to take the public’s attention off of truly thorny domestic matters. We had missile-firing incidents a month before the 1994 election, a month before the 1996 election, the day Monica Lewinsky testified before the grand jury, and the day the House voted on impeachment — all just by coincidence. We also had at least one arms inspector in Iraq resign in disgust when it became clear that his job was not to find hidden weapons, but to provide PR cover for the President.

Now we’re seeing another President use the announcement of investigations to distract the public from a health care narrative that has gone badly out of control for the White House. I suppose the Obama White House is now going to return to trying to sneak the bill through under cover of night, which is their style. They’re not committing murders like the Clintons did (or are we supposed to think “brown people don’t count”?) but they are making career operatives fear for their safety who performed difficult tasks for their country.

We also heard last week that the Bush team probably asked for Homeland Security alerts in advance of interim elections. Again, this falls short of murder, and does not make government employees sweat bullets and suffer strokes, but it does make the public uneasy, not to mention the increase in cynicism when the act becomes public.

What we are seeing here is an excellent reason to note the lesson from the TFJR sermon yesterday, that genuine moral virtue and true, heartfelt service to the public good are necessary characteristics of good governors. I’m a Republican, and frequently defend the moral acceptability of Republicans over Democrats on this blog, but the standard truly has nothing to do with policy choices, it has to do with personal character. I want to vote for men and women who choose the right policies; but I want much more to vote for men and women who possess genuine moral character, and who serve the public good out of a sincere heart. The nation cannot prosper without those. They are few, and far between. Morally excellent leaders must become the norm rather than the exception. They will not become the norm unless citizens of good moral character demand it.

This highlights another feature of moral government that we had better bear in mind: morally excellent governors arise from morally excellent people. A people without moral excellence will not elect moral governors. I learned this the hard way when I lived in Mobile, Alabama back in the 1980s. The people there are largely conservative, and oppose high taxes and government encroachment on their lives. Yet, season after voting season, they re-elected the likes of Howell Heflin to the US Senate, one of the porkiest porkers ever to pork up a Senate bill. I liked my neighbors and I liked their politics, but they had the representatives they deserved. It’s a characteristic of human politics, regardless of what sort of system: people get the government they deserve. So, if we want righteous government, we had better become righteous people.

This, by the way, is why I detest the Democratic character assassination machine so deeply; it drives good people out of politics. Deliberately creating an illusion that a good person is a bad person violates the 9th commandment (“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”.) Democrats are good at this; it’s about the only thing at which they are good. The Democratic slime attacks against Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Clarence Thomas, Dan Quayle, Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush, and Sarah Palin epitomize why Americans have so few morally excellent governors. I’m not saying that these people were moral paragons in all matters, but I am saying that the successful, partisan assaults to ruin their reputations ensure that good people will avoid politics, and that the US will elect corruptible governors.

Keep an eye out for health care initiatives in the dark of night; our sneaky, dishonest President just changed the subject.

« « TFJR: Government the Pillar of the Earth | Main | TFJR: Ninevah's Repentance and Deliverance » »

55 Comments »

August 25, 2009 @ 3:46 pm #

I am becoming more and more convinced that Pres. Obama, either himself or those associated with him, mean to create a totalitarian state, either by design or by accident.

This is an interesting (by interesting I mean really disturbing-but-not-surprising) article from Big Hollywood:
http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/pcourrielche/2009/08/25/the-national-endowment-for-the-art-of-persuasion-patrick-courrielche/#more-209182

Note: The “by accident” part of that statement above is because I really do not believe they realize what they are doing, at least on a conscious level. What they are doing, the do from the best of intentions (to them), but the end result will be not Heaven but Hell.

A quote that I am reminded of more and more, ironically from a video game:
“As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth’s final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.”

August 25, 2009 @ 4:14 pm #

Phil,

If you only knew how crazy you sound.

President Obama is violating U.S. and international law by refusing to prosecute Bush administration officials – Bush and Cheney have both publically admitted authorizing conduct universally recognized as illegal pursuant to the Convention on Torture. A federal judge orders the release of a CIA report describing absolutely horrific conduct by CIA officials – staging mock executions – threatening to kill detainees’ children and/or rape their wives and mothers, threatening them with a power drill, and so on. The very same day, Eric Holder announces pre-investigations of only those officials who may have exceeded the obviously flawed guidlines put out by the OLC – minimizing the effect of the announcment and cementing the proposition that a president can exempt himself from the law by appointing a like minded official to the OLC.

And you think Obama is cynically trying to change the subject off healthcare reform?

Phil, I’m troubled that you’re not concerned about Bush and Cheney’s conduct, or about Obama’s illegal protection of Bush administration officials. But I’m astonished that you think Holder’s announcment on a subject of this magnitude is a cynical ploy to change the subject of our national conversation off healthcare reform.

Talk about straining at a gnat and swollowing a camel!

You repeatedly tell Darkhorse that you don’t give the worse possible interpretation of Obama’s actions. But isn’t it at least possible that Eric Holder’s announcment is an unrelated announcement? And if it is not possible, how do you know this?

Phil, this is what Jim is pointing out. You assume the absolute worse, based on no evidence at all. The only evidence you have that Obama is trying to change the subject off healthcare is your presupposition that he is a bad man.

But presuppositions are not evidence. That’s Darkhorse’s point.

JOE

August 25, 2009 @ 4:53 pm #

President Obama is violating U.S. and international law by refusing to prosecute Bush administration officials

This statement places you on the far edge of the looniest, most rabidly anti-American fringe in our history. After a statement like this, do you honestly believe I care what you think of how I sound?

You assume the absolute worse, based on no evidence at all.

That’s it. I’m done.

The subject, raised by either darkhorse or Joe Huster, of how I unfairly make the worst possible assumptions about the Obama administration or any other person or group, is now officially closed. From this time forward, I will delete any comment from either of you that makes that claim. I will issue neither warning nor comment when I do.

If you wish to make the specific claim that X is a better interpretation of the events, as supported by N evidence, that will be accepted. This is a different claim from “You, Phil, need to reform your character of a particular flaw.” I trust that you are both competent to understand the distinction.

My character is not the subject of this blog, nor a proper subject for the comments beneath my articles. You two have made yourselves odious by repetition. You are not my confessors, and I do not accept the proposition that either one of you is of sufficient good character to be so rudely and offensively critiquing mine.

Do you understand?

August 25, 2009 @ 6:58 pm #

If a statement of fact puts me in the “far edge of the looniest, most rabidly anti-American fringe in our history” I’ll have to accept that as my place.

The fact is, the Convention on Torture, a treaty signed by our President and ratified by our Senate, thereby constituting U.S. law pursuant to our federal constitution, requires officials to investigate and prosecute any credible allegations of torture, as well as any official who ordered torture. There is no prosecutorial discretion not to investigate. Appeals to “extraordinary circumstances” or national security are disallowed as defenses to charges of torture.

Torture is defined as the “intentional infliction of severe mental or physical pain or suffering,” regardless of the purpose for inflicting the pain or suffering. “For the purpose of extracting information” is expressly included in the definition of torture, so that can’t be raised as a defense.

I’ll be happy to document every statement I’ve made in the previous paragraph with a proper legal citation. Not now – I’m at work – but, later if you wish.

Both President Bush and Vice President Cheney have publically admitted to authorizing actions aimed at inflicting severe physical or emotional pain or suffering on the detainees They promised to “take the gloves off” and “break” the detainees – their words, not mine. Inflicting severe mental or physical pain and suffering was the plan.

For you to call me a “kook” for pointing out the obvious, given what the law says and what these men have publically admitted, shows me just how much kool-aid you’ve consumed.

As to your question, “do I understand?” of course I understand. What you don’t seem to understand is that Darkhorse and I have been trying to help you. We’re not talking about your character and don’t question it in the least. We’re talkiing about what we perceive as a problem with your analysis.

But if you don’t want to discuss this, we won’t.

Joe

August 25, 2009 @ 7:18 pm #

One more thought. Consider the irony of calling someone who criticizes an American President for refusing to follow and carry out U.S. law, “anti-american.”

If you’d stop and think about what “America” is, you’d see just how ridiculous that statement is.

Joe

August 25, 2009 @ 8:17 pm #

As to your question, “do I understand?” of course I understand. What you don’t seem to understand is that Darkhorse and I have been trying to help you. We’re not talking about your character and don’t question it in the least. We’re talkiing about what we perceive as a problem with your analysis.

I completely understand what you think you’ve been doing. You’re not just wrong, you’re rude beyond belief, and if it comes up again, it will be deleted.

August 26, 2009 @ 7:00 am #

If a statement of fact puts me in the “far edge of the looniest, most rabidly anti-American fringe in our history” I’ll have to accept that as my place.

The problem is, Joe, that I read a number of blogs written by attorneys — PowerLine, Volokh, Baseball Crank, Legal insurrection — and none of those would accept your “statement of fact” as statements of fact. Whether moderate or right, they recognize the question as one of difficult legal interpretation, over which educated men of good conscience may disagree. It’s not until we get ‘way out to the left and find the likes of Glenn Greenwald (Salon.com) that we discover attorneys who are so certain of the violations of American law (and they’re they only ones who even mention international law). So, yes, what you call “statements of fact” places you out on the fringe — not just because of what you regard as fact, but also because you regard them as facts rather than opinions.

It’s ironic, because it’s a point you tried to make to me on another topic. I argued something assuming that abortion constituted murdering a human being, and you rushed to sensitize me to the fact that not everybody would make that assumption (believing for some reason that I’d never heard that before!) I replied that it was a matter about which I was convinced, and would assert as though it were true in my own writing and thinking. I accept where that puts me in political discussions, and I don’t have any illusion that everybody thinks the same way (but I do assert that they ought to.) You, like me, have the right to camp on a position with that level of moral certainty — but you do have to accept what that certainty does to your credibility, and in this case, it puts you on the fringe.

August 26, 2009 @ 7:06 am #

So, SERE training is a violation of the Convention on Torture? It intentionally inflicts “severe mental or physical pain or suffering,” and you insist that the purpose is irrelevant to the consideration.

For that matter, I suppose NFL training camp is likewise a violation of the Convention on Torture, yes? I don’t know a human being on the planet who would not consider what they are directed to do “severe mental or physical pain.”

I do believe that you are incorrect about the purpose not being relevant. I believe that in law, the purpose is the PRIMARY consideration.

August 26, 2009 @ 8:13 am #

I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why Joe (and Darkhorse) did NOT think the earlier comments were rude. The lame just-kidding-humor disclaimers (deleted earlier this morning) notwithstanding.

It’s not like Phil didn’t make this clear earlier. Repeatedly. 100 times repeatedly.

Understand?

Really?

Look, I’m just trying to help you
. . . with your analysis. ()

August 26, 2009 @ 8:40 am #

dullhammer,

Thanks.

If they’d done it once, it would be fine. Twice, alright, maybe they thought I didn’t get it. Darkhorse has been flogging that same horse since I began the blog back in December 2007. I like the guy, but doggone, it got old …

It’s actually an endemic problem for leftists, but I cannot fathom why (darkhorse insists that he is not one of those, btw). They somehow imagine that history began yesterday, so it is inappropriate to factor in a 2-year (or sometimes a career-long) pattern of behavior when evaluating today’s actions. No, for some reason, when evaluating Progressive or Liberal politicians, we are permitted only to evaluate the facts immediately at hand in today’s news report; no history allowed. (Of course, if the politician is Republican, foibles from 35 years ago are fair game, even if they’ve never been repeated…)

Darkhorse has the additional, unfortunate weakness of being a convert to a new and enlightened point of view regarding Evangelical Christianity, namely, that it’s a terrible mistake to associate Christianity with political conservatism. He considers it his calling in God to make disciples to this new truth. God save us from Crusaders. Unless it’s ME. My Crusades are enlightened. ;)

August 26, 2009 @ 10:34 am #

>>I really do not believe they realize what they are doing, at least on a conscious level. >>

I do. If you do some research on Frank Davis, you’ll learn that he was a communist who was a biggie in Chicago in the 50s? He was also a pervert, but that’s not especially relevant except there is a _possibility_ (only a possibility) that he is Obama’s biological father. More importantly, whether that’s true or not he became Obama’s mentor in Obama’s middle teen years. I have no doubt that he was Obama’s entre into the Chicago machine, where the “who sent ya” is the code. In this case, Frank Davis sent him.

In other words, Obama’s mother was a communist, his grandparents who raised him were communists or communist sympathizers, and his teen mentor was a communist. Why would you be surprised to find that his underlying philosophy was the communist ideal?

August 26, 2009 @ 11:25 am #

Suek-
I kind of screwed up the earlier comment because what I wanted to imply more was that the effects would lead to a Totalitarian Government, rather than the intent. It may well be (and I believe there may well be within that circle) that desire to move the country along the path to communism as outlined by Marx. The President may or may not be one of them, I have not made up my mind yet. However, as with many political movement, it is hard to say who is a true believer, who is a appeaser, who is simply a slavish follower, and who is a dupe. For the moment.

As far as Darkhorse and J. Huster, I do think they have overstepped the bounds of civility but, with all due respect Phil, I think you may be being a bit thin skinned.

The argument “only a crazy person makes this argument or says this or that” is a common one when dealing with the left. Now in their defense they are also offering arguments not based on attacking the person they are arguing with. The other aspect of calling your opponent screwy is kind of like elevator music, you endure the music to get the ride.

At the risk of sounding patronizing, We are all big boys and girls and we should be able to debate any claim or question no matter how outlandish without resorting to calling the other side Kooks. Within reason of course, and since this is Phil’s place his is the reason we have to stay within. This is not a group blog where we all post, this is Phil’s personal blog, where we COMMENT. Guest rules would indicate that there are some boundaries.

Just my two cents.

August 26, 2009 @ 12:01 pm #

there is a _possibility_ (only a possibility) that he is Obama’s biological father.

That seems very unlikely. The possibility I’ve heard tossed around is that he sexually molested young Barry.

August 26, 2009 @ 1:08 pm #

My response:

First of all, I find it amazing that you all think that objecting to torture is a “leftist” issue. Torture is morally reprehensible and has been illegal for many decades. Why conservatives think that opposition to torture and support for the rule of law are liberal positions is beyond me. These are quintessential conservative positions.

I understand that many of you do not believe that those who are calliing for investigations and prosecutions truly care about the rule of law. You assume that we are partisans out to settle scores. Well, I can’t prove otherwise – despite the fact that it is simply not true. But I will respond that my motives for wanting investigations and prosecutions are irrelevant to the issue of whether they are required by the Convention on Torture – which is U.S. law, and whether they are important for our democracy. The arguments I and others have made on behalf of prosecution cannot be dismissed because you think we have bad motives – they are still be good arguments.

Second, the legal determination that President Bush and Vice President Cheney ordered torture is not a difficult legal question. They have admitted that the purpose of the “enhanced techniques” was to “break” the detainees. They said they we’re “taking the gloves off.” You “break” someone by inflicting so much pain and suffering that they can’t stand up to it and they tell you what you want to know.

The legal definition of torture is the “intentional infliction of severe mental or physical pain and suffering.” Legally speaking, the reason you are doing this does not matter. Sadism is not an element of torture. Extracting information is not an allowable defense, given that this was included as part of the the definition of torture. “extraordinary circumstances” and “national security” are not allowable defenses.

Anyone can confirm these statements by reading the Convention on Torture – it is readily available online. The key question is, did Bush administration officials intentionally inflict severe mental or physical pain and suffering on its detainees? Anyone who would deny that intentionally depriving someone of sleep for 11 days, chaining them in stress positions, naked, in a 54 degree room, for many hours at a time, and then waterboarding them – all things that our government has admitted authorizing – is intentionally inflicting severe physical or mental pain or suffering is beyond the pale.

You say that this puts me “on the fringe.” But my argument is about as straighforward a legal argument as one can make. If there’s something wrong with it, point it out. But if you’re just going to say that others disagree and “you’re on the fringe,” you’re not really dialoging in good faith.

Yes, there are lawyers who are eager to defend the President who are willing to muddy the water on this issue to give lay defenders some cover. Its not difficult to muddy the water with regards to the law when you’re writing for lay people. But, as far as a legal question goes, it is about as clear as it gets.

In fact, it reminds me of last Christmas, when that Walmart employee was killed in the customer stampeed on the day after Christmas. I saw several talking heads predicting the huge lawsuit that Walmart would face. When I explained to my wife’s family that, absent any intentional wrongdoing on the part of Walmart, no suit could suceed – that actions for negligence for workplace injuries, including deaths, are barred by state and federal workers’ compensation statutes, the were shocked. They found it hard to believe – in fact, my wife argued that the I was probably wrong – otherwise the lawyers on TV would point this out.

But I was not wrong. It is black letter law – you can’t sue an employer for negligence for a workplace injury. It is about as clear a legal question as the torture question. And no Phil, you are wrong. The purpose for which torture is performed is legally irrelevant. It is prohibited for any purpose – except for military training.

On the S.E.R.E. question, I’m not an expert in military law, but I’d bet serious money that there is a regulation exempting military training from the torture statute. Also, soldiers who undergo S.E.R.E. training do so voluntarily – they are not helpless prisoners.

Finally, a number of you said I was rude – but none of you explained why? Dullhammer? What was rude about what Darkhorse and I said Jim? I ask this sincerely.

Sorry Phil if this long response is bad form. I’m a newbie to blogging.

Joe

August 26, 2009 @ 3:49 pm #

Joe,

What was rude was the repetition. Jim made the claim dozens of times that I was inferring the worst possible read on the Obama administration without any reason. Every time, I explained that my inference was based, not just on the evidence at hand for the current story, but on our experience with the individuals stretching over the life of this blog, and sometimes longer than that. Then he’d reply to another post with the same complaint, and I’d explain the same thing. Then another, and another, and another. Perhaps you were not aware of this, in which case you unfortunately dropped the final straw onto the camel’s back, and inadvertently got trapped under the camel. Regardless, it’s a charge I’m simply no longer interested in, and I don’t believe my readers are, either, so it will not be discussed here. I don’t accept the charge, because I base my inferences on my research about Barack Obama and about the members of his administration and their behaviors over a long period of time, which I believe provides ample reason for cynicism. You may disagree, but the question of whether I’m being fair or not, or generally sound or not, is closed. As I said, I’ll accept “I think X explanation is better, based on N evidence.”

August 26, 2009 @ 4:33 pm #

Phil,

I understand what you’re saying. Your experience justifies your assuming the worse, even without specific evidence justifying the particular conclusion that you’re drawing in the present case.

That is not an unreasonable posture in many circumstances. If someone abuses your trust, you shouldn’t trust them with anything important until they earn it back.

However, if you adopt that posture in political advocacy, you render meaningful dialogue impossible. We can’t debate whether of Obama is changing the subject from healthcare to torture because the proposition that he is not falsifiable for you.

Think of it this way, suppose I argued that Cheney’s recent criticism of Eric Holder is insincere, and that it is really an attempt to cover his ass. Suppose you disagreed with me and attempted to present evidence of Cheney’s sincerity. Suppose I came back with, “my long experience has taught me that this is what Cheney does, so I’m entitled to believe my proposition about his current actions irrespective of whether I have good evidence for it, and irrespective of any evidence/arguments that you might present.”

If I come back with that argument, we can’t talk to one another. You can’t possibly persuade me that you’re right, and I can’t possibly learn anything from you and/or exchange error for truth – assuming that what you’re saying is true.

If that’s your posture, we can’t talk to one another, and we might as well admit it.

Joe

August 26, 2009 @ 5:16 pm #

>>That seems very unlikely.>>

Why? The book he’s written indicates that he “dallied” with a young white woman. Obama’s mother was a possible candidate.

>> The possibility I’ve heard tossed around is that he sexually molested young Barry.>>

Yes…I’d heard that as well. I don’t think either situation precludes the other.

August 27, 2009 @ 9:47 am #

“It’s actually an endemic problem for leftists, but I cannot fathom why (darkhorse insists that he is not one of those, btw).”

I could send you my voter card – I am a registered Republican, who lived in majority Republican areas and watched them run rough-shod over reason in their love for power.

You have experienced just the opposite, and cannot fathom that the conservatives are not always the good guys.

I apologize for pushing the humor thing too far…had I not focused so much on questioning your approach all these years, but instead on building relationship, that may have worked between us.

August 27, 2009 @ 10:55 am #

>>You have experienced just the opposite, and cannot fathom that the conservatives are not always the good guys.>>

There are always people who are power seekers – party is irrelevant to that fact.

That said, Conservatives – generally speaking – are usually also members of religious organizations that consider grasping power to be immoral. Liberals, on the other hand, are just as commonly people who scorn religion. I realize that the difference is arguable and individual, but if you accept the basic assumption – that is that some are members of religion and some are not – what restrains those who are not religious members from acquiring as much power as possible? (On a personal level – not by external means)

August 27, 2009 @ 3:26 pm #

Is there something I am missing that the Convention on Torture is a UN document and as of now…right now, and so far, the USA has not given up its sovereignty to subject herself to the mandates of the UN?

Did you catch Bill Bennett’s comments on Morning in America saying of torture of the planner of 9/11 – who touted that he was to be a pilot for another location to kill more Americans and that more Americans are going to die with what we have planned now?

it was something along the lines of “what is the problem with inflicting pain on someone who has set in motion plans to murder and maim thousands more?

Where is the moral high ground? Is it with one individual who relishes the thought of killing himself (anyway)in the process of killing as many as he can, the residents of the Great Satan? Or is it with those who would inflict pain – mental and physical on O N E individual to protect thousands against the same?

That doesn’t sound like a hard question to me – unless your discussion is so much in a vacuum that one has already turned blue from not breathing and is near brain dead.

In my humble opinion, of course.

c

August 27, 2009 @ 6:02 pm #

Suek,

On this statement:

“That said, Conservatives – generally speaking – are usually also members of religious organizations that consider grasping power to be immoral. Liberals, on the other hand, are just as commonly people who scorn religion.”

The culture is changing so very fast that you’d better keep a better eye on it. If it isn’t true already, it will be very soon that the majority of Christians will no longer consider themselves conservative.

I have long hoped for a divorce of this marriage – Christians and the GOP. It has mainly been a marriage so Christians can feel like they have power by the Party promising things to them, and it has given them very little…but has kept the GOP very powerful!

August 27, 2009 @ 6:30 pm #

Right Darkhorse, because it is so much better to associate with a group who treats everything you believe in and cherish with scorn, ridicule, and disdain. They are surely the ones who will help to preserve those same values, culture, and history I so value, the same ones they hate with every fiber of their being…

While I am not real happy with the Republicans, I will at least look more positively at a group that at least will not call me a crazed, woman hating, loon who believes in a “sky fairy” for merely being Catholic.

Call me crazy.

August 27, 2009 @ 6:39 pm #

More on Obama’s associations and choices:

>>http://www.floppingaces.net/2009/08/26/obamas-new-fcc-diversity-chief-believes-government-should-control-all-media/>>

August 27, 2009 @ 6:46 pm #

Horatius:

A “group” does not call you anything. An individual does. If the Republicans, as a rule, court you as a Christian for your vote, you certainly wouldn’t expect those that are in the GOP that think you and I are wingnuts to say so (and there are PLENTY of them there).

Meanwhile, as literally MILLIONS of Christians drop out and begin to associate with the “sinners”, we are beginning to see that there was just a little bit of over-generalization going on about those outside the party.

August 27, 2009 @ 6:48 pm #

>>The culture is changing so very fast that you’d better keep a better eye on it. If it isn’t true already, it will be very soon that the majority of Christians will no longer consider themselves conservative.>>

Interesting. You changed the order a bit, and changed the whole meaning.

I said “most Conservatives are members of a religion.”

You said “most Christians are conservative (but might not be much longer)”

Those two statements are not close to the same. It is true that most(ok – all) apples are fruit, but not most fruit are apples.

In any case, what does your statement have to do with mine? It seems like a complete non sequitur…
>>I have long hoped for a divorce of this marriage – Christians and the GOP. >>

I’m sure you can explain your rationale. Where would you recommend Christians go?

Would you have them form a Christian Party? Is Christian somehow different from Conservative? I’m not sure they’re any more alike than oranges and apples.

August 27, 2009 @ 6:48 pm #

Cal -

The US signed the torture conventions and made them US Law. The “Evil U.N.” question is moot.

Those who signed believed that, no matter what a person dedicated to inflicting murder, pain and suffering was willing to do in the name of their ideas, we would not do so.

Do you disagree?

August 27, 2009 @ 7:17 pm #

What is odd about the torture debate is that torture is tyranny in its purest and most distilled form. Torture is the very antitheses of liberty.

Why conservatives, who say they love liberty more than anything else, would support leaders who tortured people, some of whom were completely innocent of any wrong doing, is beyond me. As far as I can tell, only pure partisan loyalty can account for their support.

And aside from the fact that torture is evil – it is clearly dangerous to allow any government to practice it, on anyone. Torture always to unintended victims. Thomas Paine put it best when he wrote:

“An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”

Stretch the law? Boy does that sound familiar. Personally, I’d rather die than have my government torture someone to keep me safe.

And, for what its worth, Thomas Paine also wrote:

“So far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is king” and “in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.”

But I’ll let that go for now.

Joe H.

August 27, 2009 @ 8:09 pm #

Free-Unrestricted-Abortion on demand is not an over generalization. I Oppose it, They support it.

I am not measuring the Democrats or ‘so-called’ Liberals by what they SAY Darkhorse. Names do not concern me. I judge them by what they do.

If a Democrat came along who lived the ideals I believe in, I would support him or her. When a Republican does something stupid or wrong, the fact that they have an (R) in front of their name in a TV graphic does not change anything.

For example, when Pres. Obama first came on the political scene, I was impressed and can even say I liked him. The first time I heard of him was when he gave the speech at the… 2004 Democratic national convention? I remember that I missed the speech but caught a lot of the hoopla afterwords. I remember Pres. Obama’s reaction to that, the fact that he seemed to be embarrassed about the adoring coverage, and a quote along the lines of “I appreciate the warm welcome on the National stage, someday I hope to do something to justify it.”

I remember thinking that it was refreshing to hear a bit of humility and common sense from a democratic politician. So I waited to see what he would do. As I do not really have to say his actions have changed that initial positive attitude quite a bit.

Sarah Palin is another case in point. I, like many others, was very encouraged by her speech at the Republican national convention. As time went by though, it seemed like she allowed herself to be influenced far too much by McCain operatives. If she does run in 2012, I think it will be a far better judge of who she is, and I will be interested to see what that is. My main reaction to her is that she has been savaged needlessly, but that is more disgust aimed at those who have been trying to tarnish her, rather than true admiration for her as yet. I like a lot of things she has done in Alaska, but her early retirement from Governor, has muddled the water a lot. Better to wait and see what she does.

So to make a long comment short, the democrats or you Darkhorse can talk all you want about how they could do more for me than Republicans. However, their actions defy everything I hold dear, and that is what I will judge them for.

August 27, 2009 @ 8:32 pm #

“So to make a long comment short, the democrats or you Darkhorse can talk all you want about how they could do more for me than Republicans. However, their actions defy everything I hold dear, and that is what I will judge them for.”

Horatius, I beg you to go back and notice that I did not encourage anyone to marry themselves to ANY party. I only encouraged the divorce. There should be plenty going on in BOTH parties that should give someone pause in taking (or keeping) their name.

And, there are things in both parties that could properly be called virtue. Yes, I said both. When you say, “their actions defy everything I hold dear,” you are pointing at a very specific subset of all their actions, and ignoring the others.

That’s okay…if you’re willing to play the game both ways, and not close your mind in the other direction.

August 27, 2009 @ 8:38 pm #

And, by the way, a statement like “Free-Unrestricted-Abortion on demand…they support it,” IS an over-generalization.

That is VERY similar to saying, “American Catholics oppose birth control.” It’s taking an element from their teaching, and overgeneralizing so much as to make a statement that is not true. Even if that teaching comes from their outspoken leadership.

I can tell you right now, point blank: I don’t personally know one single Democrat that your statement describes. You do those friends of mine an injustice by running roughshod over them.

August 27, 2009 @ 8:48 pm #

Suek,

You said: “I said “most Conservatives are members of a religion.””

But that is not all you said. Earlier, you added: “Liberals, on the other hand, are just as commonly people who scorn religion.”

And THAT, my friend, is what my statement was addressing. Increasingly, liberals and moderates both are just as likely to be religiously affiliated (and even spiritually attuned) as conservatives. This change is happening fairly quickly, and your statement appears to miss this.

The Sojourners, Brian McLaren’s “everythingmustchange.org”, Greg Boyd’s “Christus Victor Ministries”, and Tony Campolo’s readers are all examples that are experiencing HUGE swells in membership, yet are basically liberal in the classic sense. And they are all filled with very religious people.

This is an important development. And the only way to really write this shift in the culture off is to say to be a faithful Christian, you MUST be a Republican – idolatry in a horrid sense.

August 28, 2009 @ 8:28 am #

You have experienced just the opposite, and cannot fathom that the conservatives are not always the good guys.

Again, Jim, you go far beyond the available facts when you make claims about what I can and cannot fathom.

Besides, I’ve explained this to you many times: it’s not that I think conservative PEOPLE are all so clean, it’s that the PRINCIPLES of conservatism are correct. There happens to be a statistically significant correlation between correct principle and decent behavior, but humans are humans, and we’re all fallen.

August 28, 2009 @ 8:47 am #

Meanwhile, as literally MILLIONS of Christians drop out and begin to associate with the “sinners”, we are beginning to see that there was just a little bit of over-generalization going on about those outside the party.

Jim, did you happen to re-read this assertion of yours, and notice just how deeply ARROGANT an assertion it is? That it is only those who reject the political right who associate with “sinners”? That all Christians who remain convinced of conservative principles are insulated and unwilling to associate with the lowly?

Where the hell do you get the right to condemn conservatives with such a broad brush as this??? And how dare you accuse ANY man of unfairly painting his adversaries with too broad a brush, if this is the sort of garbage in your own heart?

August 28, 2009 @ 8:54 am #

I can tell you right now, point blank: I don’t personally know one single Democrat that your statement describes. You do those friends of mine an injustice by running roughshod over them.

What limits on abortions do the Democrats favor whom you know personally?

Answer carefully and specifically.

August 28, 2009 @ 9:17 am #

Every last one of my closer Democrat friends (I can think of six in my small group Bible study, my best friend who lives in Hawaii, my good friend in Michigan, my mother in Florida, just off the top of my head) believe:

- in a cutoff point, after which abortion should be illegal. Most are in the first trimester. This is the VERY key point.

- SEVERAL believe abortion should be downright illegal.

- ALL believe in parental consent for teenagers (I think).

August 28, 2009 @ 9:17 am #

Every last one of my closer Democrat friends (I can think of six in my small group Bible study, my best friend who lives in Hawaii, my good friend in Michigan, my mother in Florida, just off the top of my head) believe:

- in a cutoff point, after which abortion should be illegal. Most are in the first trimester. This is the VERY key point.

- SEVERAL believe abortion should be downright illegal.

- ALL believe in parental consent for teenagers (I think).

Based on your treatment of me in the previous comment, I’m not sure why I am even trusting you with this information.

August 28, 2009 @ 9:22 am #

“Where the hell do you get the right to condemn conservatives with such a broad brush as this??? ”

What makes you think I was describing “Conservatives” from a distance, Phil? I was plainly describing my own journey, and happen to have found literally hundreds who have made it with me. I started out as a conservative making broad-brush statements about liberals out of ignorance…and shielding myself from actually having open and fair discussions with them…mostly due to self-protection.

And how you can find brash arrogance in a statement like “there was just a little bit of over-generalization going on about those outside the party,” is totally beyond me.

August 28, 2009 @ 11:24 am #

>>The Sojourners, Brian McLaren’s “everythingmustchange.org”, Greg Boyd’s “Christus Victor Ministries”, and Tony Campolo’s readers are all examples that are experiencing HUGE swells in membership, yet are basically liberal in the classic sense. And they are all filled with very religious people.>>

That may be. When I use the term “liberal” in today’s political climate, I mean those who are predominantly leftist, _not_ those who favor classical liberalism. To be honest, I think you know that and are – once again – shifting definitions in order to win your point.

Additionally, you imply that Republicanism and Conservatism are one and the same. They are not. Most Conservatives are Republican because they prefer to belong to a defined party, and cannot tolerate being Democrat, however many are Independents – because they find the Republicans insufficiently Conservative, and must carefully pick and choose amongst the candidates.

The closest I could come in linking party and faith is that I cannot understand any Christian voting for Obama, given his votes and positions on abortion, and I’d find it difficult to understand how someone could be Christian and support a party that unwaiveringly supports unlimited abortion and homosexuality. I do not think that therefore one must then necessarily be a member of the GOP although it is true that by eliminating one party, one is limited in choices.

August 28, 2009 @ 11:27 am #

>>Increasingly, liberals and moderates both are just as likely to be religiously affiliated (and even spiritually attuned) as conservatives. >>

And, by the way, I’d certainly like to see any evidence you might have for this statement…

August 28, 2009 @ 11:58 am #

Ran across this article, and thought it was worth posting here, since it contains material that at least partially counters this statement:

>>The US signed the torture conventions and made them US Law. The “Evil U.N.” question is moot. >>

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZGMyYTQ1ZTM5YTQ5NjJjNzJmNGUxZDIyOTFjYzIyM2Y=

You know…one of the questions I’ve had is that in order to have law, you have to have enforcement of the laws you make. If you lack the ability to enforce laws, you’re just whistling Dixie. So who – in this wonderful transglobal world is going to enforce the dictates of the UN or whatever other organization starts making laws?

August 28, 2009 @ 12:37 pm #

Suek,

I don’t play word games to win arguments. When I describe the things I do, I am usually doing so from experience. Without knowing you, I will grant you the same favor I am asking of you.

The Christian organizations I described are actually liberal in several of the ways you find it hard not to hate…and they find the roots of being so right in their faith.

McLaren especially shows much grace toward those who are conservative…a favor they do not return. If there is a more biblically conscious book out there than “Everything Must Change”, I don’t know what it is.

August 28, 2009 @ 2:22 pm #

Darkhorse-

Then we come back to actions vs. words again. At the same time your friends have said that they do not support free abortion on demand, they in turn support Pres Obama (I presume) someone who has voted against any restriction whatsoever against abortion every time he has voted on the subject.

I also presume they support other democratic candidates, of which I have heard of exactly zero, who when the rubber has met the road, actually voted as same when the time came on the subject of parental notification, late term abortion restrictions and so forth.

You say that Republicans and/or Conservatives are far more rigid in their thinking. However, do you honestly believe a Democrat could be successful on a national stage who consistently voted against Abortion?

Again, remember I do not care what they say, I am looking at what they do. Watch a politician’s hands, not his mouth.

August 28, 2009 @ 4:14 pm #

Horatius,

Supporters rarely agree with a politician about everything. I doubt Obama opposes all regulation of abortion – and the fact that he’s never voted in favor of a restriction only proves that he was opposed to each proposed bill containing a restriction for some reason or other. But even ifObama did support unrestricted abortion, many who disagreed with him on that issue would nonetheless vote for him because they agreed with him about other things that they felt were more important.

Joe.

August 28, 2009 @ 4:22 pm #

>>I doubt Obama opposes all regulation of abortion >>

I also doubt he opposes all regulation of abortion. I have no doubt, though, that he opposes any and all _restriction_ of abortion. This is a man who voted against requiring medical support for the infant who happened to be born alive in spite of a failed abortion attempt – how can his position be any plainer than that?

August 28, 2009 @ 4:32 pm #

>>I don’t play word games to win arguments.>>

So you say. And I’ll grant that you may even believe that you don’t. What I’ve read of your comments leads me to believe otherwise.

>>The Christian organizations I described are actually liberal in several of the ways you find it hard not to hate…and they find the roots of being so right in their faith.>>

I’m not a “Bible Thumper”, so I can’t quote you chapter and verse, but I believe it’s within Paul’s letters to someone in the early church that although they are to share everything, if someone refused to work, he should be cast out and not be fed.

It certainly is true that communism as a life style is recommended within Christianity, but Communism as a political belief imposed upon a society by the power of the State is absolutely _not_. There is no virtue in obeying laws which enforce a form of Christian morality. State force removes the condition of free will and hence, morality.

In other words, your Christian friends who find the roots of leftist imposed society are mistaken if they think they find justification in the bible. If they choose to live a life of community by choice, then more power to them.

August 28, 2009 @ 7:53 pm #

Suek,

It is good you are not a bible thumper. Neither am I…though much of my own study has gone into that book.

It is disappointing though, that on an admittedly limited knowledge of the subject, you would violate the consciences of people by telling them what they do or don’t see in that book.

August 29, 2009 @ 11:17 am #

>>It is disappointing though, that on an admittedly limited knowledge of the subject, you would violate the consciences of people by telling them what they do or don’t see in that book.>>

So sorry to disappoint.

However, I don’t believe that it’s possible for one person to violate the conscience of another. They obviously see what they see. I’m just basically saying “prove it”. Clarify for me what they see in the bible and where they see it in the bible that calls for a government that would enforce a communistic life style – not that a communistic life style such as is lived in monasteries and convents is wrong, or that a group couldn’t live that way by choice.

Because what I _am_ saying is that any acts generally accepted as moral lose any morality they may purport to if they are chosen because not to choose them results in penalty enforced by government. That is coercion, and deeds done out of coercion lose morality.

August 29, 2009 @ 2:19 pm #

Suek:

“I’m just basically saying “prove it””

That’s a smelly pile of crap, Suek. I am sorry to be so blunt, but here is what you said: “In other words, your Christian friends who find the roots of leftist imposed society are mistaken if they think they find justification in the bible.”

In ADMITTED IGNORANCE, you stated very clearly that you know something is not in the Bible. You did NOT say “Prove it.”

That, my friend, is hubris. Now, I didn’t say anything at any time about my friends believing in “leftist imposed society,” though I would guess your definition of that would be far wider than theirs (and mine).

August 29, 2009 @ 7:34 pm #

I didn’t state my ignorance of the bible – I said I can’t provide chapter and verse of the epistle in which the matter is addressed by Paul.

I am in fact saying “prove it”. I’m asking your bible quoting friends to provide _me_ with chapter and verse.

“The Christian organizations I described are actually liberal in several of the ways you find it hard not to hate…and they find the roots of being so right in their faith.”

This is your statement. You state that I would find it “hard not to hate” several forms of their liberal approach. Perhaps I have jumped ahead here – or perhaps you have. Just exactly what “liberalness” do you think I’d find it hard not to hate? Frankly, the only liberal way I’d hate is one that imposes socialist or communist practices upon a society. Any that they choose for themselves is fine with me.

Perhaps my imagination is limited – so, please, enlighten me. What liberal ideas/practices do your friends take from the bible? What of those do you think I’d find it hard not to hate?

August 29, 2009 @ 7:35 pm #

If you can provide those, then we’ll get to “where in the bible do they find that?”

August 30, 2009 @ 12:01 pm #

darkhorse,

Not to step on SueK’s toes, but I think she’s on better ground than you.

There is nobody I know, left or right, who objects to service to the poor, nor is there any sound political position that objects to PRIVATE service to the poor (except, perhaps, some of the Objectivists, whom I distrust.) So the move of many Christians to the left simply because they’ve discovered that the gospel requires them to care for the poor, strikes me as a mistake due entirely to propaganda; to wit, leftists have deluded themselves and whoever would listen for years that because they favor THE GOVERNMENT performing charity, that they’re the only ones in America who care for the poor, and a disturbing number of Christians have chosen to believe them and adopt their errors.

It’s a delusion, and has always been a delusion. In fact, it’s a delusion that the church has not cared about the poor; church-related people have always been a lot more charitable than political activists. It’s good that more people have chosen to get their fat butts out of their pews and go do something, but there is nothing either sensible or biblical that would recommend that what they should do is go advocate political changes to get THE GOVERNMENT to do more. Government activism, historically, destroys the poor rather than helping them, so Christian activism to engage the government is a bad bargain. And if my thinking in the Protestant Argument for Limited Government has any validity, Christian activism to engage the government in charity is also an exercise in building Babel, and is anti-Christ.

So while it’s true that there exist Christians who are moving leftward, I think it’s correct to say that virtually all of them are erring by doing so. It’s not that the Republican party is from heaven; it just happens that the Republicans in the current environment line up on the side of the founding documents on most topics, and the founders happen to have borrowed their thoughts from the scriptures, so anybody who conscientiously sticks to a Protestant line of thinking pretty much ends up agreeing with Republicans the majority of the time. I know you think I’m married to the Republican party. I’m not — I’m married to Christ — but I’ve given up trying to convince you otherwise. You’re far too proud of your contrarian bona fides to ever agree that American conservatism is actually a better choice for modern Christians.

August 31, 2009 @ 1:56 pm #

What I want to know Phil, is where in the founding documents do you find support for your belief that our constitution prescribes economic libertarian posture?

I understand that economic libertarianism (we have never been social libertarians) was a widely endorsed political philosophy from the founding of our nation up until the industrial revolution. But the grim realities that policies based on libertarianism produced during and after the industrial revolution, caused people to realize that economic libertarianism not viable in the modern world.

Since that time, robust philosophical defenses of economic liberalism have emerged – Rawls, Dworkin, and many others have come to the defense of the shift in our thinking. The couuntry shifted away from libertarian thinking to hybrid collectivist-freemarket orientation, in response to modern realities.

Now, the constitution is certainly compatible with economic libertarianism – and economic libertarianism was widely endorsed in the 18th and 19th centuries. But your argument is much stronger – your argument is that our constitution requires a libertarian posture, and does not allow the modern liberal welfare state.

It an argument on this stronger claim that I’m most eager to hear. How is the modern liberal (welfare) incompatible with our constitution?

Joe

August 31, 2009 @ 6:03 pm #

Joe wrote:

But the grim realities that policies based on libertarianism produced during and after the industrial revolution, caused people to realize that economic libertarianism not viable in the modern world.

This is false, and historically inaccurate. The Industrial Revolution did not produce those “grim realities”; it exposed them. People were treated in horrible fashion BEFORE the Industrial Revolution; it was the wealth and leisure produced BY the Industrial Revolution that made the exposure of those conditions possible, and made it possible to address them. They were not primarily addressed by government activism (though child labor laws were passed, and I think appropriately), but by citizen activism — activism of a sort that is simply not possible anymore, thanks to taxation at unheard-of levels requiring two-income households.

Joe also wrote:

It an argument on this stronger claim that I’m most eager to hear. How is the modern liberal (welfare) incompatible with our constitution?

If you’re familiar with the writings of the Constitution’s authors, you probably already know the answer to that question, although iirc you had some strong doubt about my description of the original intent of the Constitution. It was written with the rights of citizens clearly in mind, and the rights of states subsidiary to those also in mind. The Constitution explicitly granted powers to three branches of the national government; any specific power not named in the Constitution does not belong to the national government, period.

Thus, when in 1794 the Congress appropriated $15,000 to transfer French refugees from San Domingo to Baltimore and Philadelphia, James Madison objected with the observation, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” In fact, Presidents of the US were vetoing public charity bills explicitly because charity was not named among the powers of government in the US Constitution clear up to the presidency of Grover Cleveland (just before the turn of the 20th century). And, there’s a somewhat famous story about Congressman Davey Crockett talking down a relief measure for the widow of a naval officer on the grounds that the Congress had no authority to give away the public money to charity — after which, if I recall correctly, he donated the entire sum named in the bill to the widow out of his own wealth. His comments on that occasion included:

I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has not the power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member on this floor knows it. We have the right as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money.

The point is, the understanding of the limits of government changed sometime in the 20th century, with the result that government has been growing out of control ever since. And the related question is, what right do we have to change the meanings of the words in the Constitution, apart from the prescribed means of amending or altering the document? There has been not Constitutional Convention, and no amendments changed the character of the document. The US Constitution has been rendered largely meaningless by way of horrible court decisions, without the consent of the governed. The citizenry has tolerated this up ’till now, but appears close to the edge of removing its toleration as the current administration extends the powers of government far beyond what even modern Americans think is appropriate.

September 1, 2009 @ 6:55 pm #

Yes Phil, the founders did have a libertarian outlook on the constitution. And yes, “the Constitution explicitly granted powers to three branches of the national government; any specific power not named in the Constitution does not belong to the national government.”

However, the United States passed the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution. That Amendment allowed the federal government to levy an income tax without reapportioning the revenue to the States. Moreover, our courts have repeatedly and uniformly held that the federal government may regulate the states indirectly, by inducement. It is constitutional for the federal government to condition grants of federal money upon state complaince with federal requirements – such as setting up redistributive programs like medicaide, welfare,and so forth.

Nothing about these redistributive programs is unconstitutional. They are not libertarian, but they are constitutional. States remain free to forego the money and do what they want (fortunately, none do). This is why Courts have said repeatedly that inducement does not violate the 10th Amendment.

Essentially, we, as a nation, abandoned libertariansim as a political philosophy when we passed the Sixteenth Amendment. You probably think we shouldn’t have, but we did.

Also, I think you’re projecting your dislike of Big Government onto the population. The vast majority of your fellow citizens are not prepared to revolt.

Joe H.

March 4, 2010 @ 7:06 pm #

Online bidding for airline tickets….

Best time to buy online airline tickets. Tickets online. Where to buy concert tickets online. Paying traffic tickets texas online. City of milwaukee online parking tickets payment….

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>