According to the WSJ, Hillary Clinton thinks that Republican-controlled states have “systematically and deliberately” tried to “disempower and disenfranchise” voters.
Here is another clear example of how leftists distort language for their political advantage.
To disenfranchise is to deprive of a right, in particular, the right to vote. But only some people have the right to vote. Felons and children do not have the right to vote, nor do non-citizens. Not yet, anyway. You do not have the right to vote in a certain geographical area simply because you are a sentient being residing in that area. Otherwise, my cats would have the right to vote. Now a requirement that one prove that one has the right to vote is not to be confused with a denial of the right to vote.
My right to vote is one thing, my ability to prove I have the right another. If, on a given occasion, I cannot prove that I am who I claim to be, then I won't be able to exercise my right to vote on that occasion; but that is not to say that I have been 'disenfranchised.' For I haven't be deprived of my right to vote; I have merely been prevented from exercising my right on that occasion due to my inability do prove my identity.
But for a leftist, the end justifies the means; all's fair in love and war; and politics is war. This explains why they have no scruples about hijacking the English language.
It is not that Hillary does not know what 'disenfranchise' means; it is that she will do anything to win, including destroying what ought to be a neutral framework within which to conduct our debates.
Well, obviously. Only a leftist loon could deny it. It is a pleasure to see the spectacularly obvious point made in a NYT op-ed piece by Peter Wehner:
AMONG liberals, it’s almost universally assumed that of the two major parties, it’s the Republicans who have become more extreme over the years. That’s a self-flattering but false narrative.
This is not to say the Republican Party hasn’t become a more conservative party. It has. But in the last two decades the Democratic Party has moved substantially further to the left than the Republican Party has shifted to the right. On most major issues the Republican Party hasn’t moved very much from where it was during the Gingrich era in the mid-1990s.
What follows is taken verbatim from Keith Burgess-Jackson's weblog. It is so good, so right, and so important that it deserves to be disseminated widely.
Barry M. Goldwater (1909-1998) on Conservatism
I have been much concerned that so many people today with Conservative instincts feel compelled to apologize for them. Or if not to apologize directly, to qualify their commitment in a way that amounts to breast-beating. “Republican candidates,” Vice President Nixon has said, “should be economic conservatives, but conservatives with a heart.” President Eisenhower announced during his first term, “I am conservative when it comes to economic problems but liberal when it comes to human problems.” Still other Republican leaders have insisted on calling themselves “progressive” Conservatives.These formulations are tantamount to an admission that Conservatism is a narrow, mechanistic economic theory that may work very well as a bookkeeper’s guide, but cannot be relied upon as a comprehensive political philosophy.
The same judgment, though in the form of an attack rather than an admission, is advanced by the radical camp. “We liberals,” they say, “are interested in people. Our concern is with human beings, while you Conservatives are preoccupied with the preservation of economic privilege and status.” Take them a step further, and the Liberals will turn the accusations into a class argument: it is the little people that concern us, not the “malefactors of great wealth.”
Such statements, from friend and foe alike, do great injustice to the Conservative point of view. Conservatism is not an economic theory, though it has economic implications. The shoe is precisely on the other foot: it is Socialism that subordinates all other considerations to man’s material well-being. It is Conservatism that puts material things in their proper place—that has a structured view of the human being and of human society, in which economics plays only a subsidiary role.
The root difference between the Conservatives and the Liberals of today is that Conservatives take account of the whole man, while the Liberals tend to look only at the material side of man’s nature. The Conservative believes that man is, in part, an economic, an animal creature; but that he is also a spiritual creature with spiritual needs and spiritual desires. What is more, these needs and desires reflect the superior side of man’s nature, and thus take precedence over his economic wants. Conservatism therefore looks upon the enhancement of man’s spiritual nature as the primary concern of political philosophy. Liberals, on the other hand,—in the name of a concern for “human beings”—regard the satisfaction of economic wants as the dominant mission of society. They are, moreover, in a hurry. So that their characteristic approach is to harness the society’s political and economic forces into a collective effort to compel “progress.” In this approach, I believe they fight against Nature.
Surely the first obligation of a political thinker is to understand the nature of man. The Conservative does not claim special powers of perception on this point, but he does claim a familiarity with the accumulated wisdom and experience of history, and he is not too proud to learn from the great minds of the past.
(Barry M. Goldwater, The Conscience of a Conservative, ed. CC Goldwater, The James Madison Library in American Politics, ed. Sean Wilentz [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007 (first published in 1960)], 1-3 [footnote omitted; italics in original])
Note from KBJ: This is a great book by a great (though, like all of us, imperfect) man. I'm ashamed to say that it took me 58 years to read it. Better late than never.
Comment by BV at Keith's site:
I read it back in '64 when I was 14. 50 years later I see clearly how right he was and how he might have prevented the decline of the last half-century. I remember the political bumper stickers of the day that read: AuH2O64 meaning, of course, Goldwater in 1964.
My mother did not like it that I was reading Conscience of a Conservative since she and her husband were Democrats. She liked it even less when, a few years later, I was reading hard-core Marxist stuff like Ramparts magazine at a time when David Horowitz was an editor and still a commie. Mirabile dictu, Brit Hume of Fox News was for a brief time a Ramparts Washington correspondent! You didn't know that, did you? (I just learned it.)
Further Anecdote by BV:
In those heady days of the mid-1960s I read a wide variety of periodicals and books: The L. A. Free Press, Crawdaddy!, Dick Gregory's Black Like Me, Lenny Bruce's How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, Teilhard de Chardin's The Phenomenon of Man, Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media. In order to avoid my mother's 'censorship,' I had to smuggle the stuff into my bedroom. I would place the publications between the screen and window of a bedroom window, enter the house, go into my room, open the window and retrieve the material.
I sure wish I had that stuff now, especially the back issues of Crawdaddy and L. A. Free Press. They must have succumbed to a maternal purge, along with the Lenny Bruce paperback. De Chardin and McLuhan survived the purge and I have them in my library to this day. Gregory didn't make it: the old lady couldn't understand why I was concerned with the plight of black folk. I still am, which is why I'm a conservative and do battle with the destructive Left.
Correction: My old pal J. I. O e-mails to tell me that the author of Black Like Me was not Dick Gregory but John Howard Griffin, a white man who dyed himself black and travelled through the South. I was probably confusing that title with Gregory's autobiography Nigger which appeared in 1964. I believe I read both back then.
I fear that we are coming apart as a nation. We need to face the fact that we do not agree on a large number of divisive, passion-inspiring issues. Among these are abortion, gun rights, capital punishment, affirmative action, legal and illegal immigration, same-sex 'marriage,' taxation, the need for fiscal responsibility in government, the legitimacy of public-sector unions, wealth redistribution, the role of the federal government in education, the very purpose of government, the limits, if any, on governmental power, and numerous others.
We need also to face the fact that we will never agree on them. These are not merely academic issues since they directly affect the lives and livelihoods and liberties of people. And they are not easily resolved because they are deeply rooted in fundamental worldview differences, in a "conflict of visions," to borrow a phrase from Thomas Sowell. When you violate a man's liberty, or mock his moral sense, or threaten to destroy his way of life, or use the power to the state to force him to violate his conscience, you are spoiling for a fight and you will get it.
We ought also to realize that calls for civility and comity and social cohesion are pretty much empty. Comity (social harmony) in whose terms? On what common ground? Peace is always possible if one side just gives in. If conservatives all converted to leftism, or vice versa, then harmony would reign. But to think such a thing will happen is just silly, as silly as the silly hope that Obama, a leftist, could 'bring us together.' We can come together only on common ground, or to invert the metaphor, only under the umbrella of shared principles. And what would these be?
There is no point in papering over very real differences.
Not only are we disagreeing about issues concerning which there can be reasonable disagreement, we are also disagreeing about things that it is unreasonable to disagree about, for example, whether photo ID ought to be required at polling places, and about what really happened in the Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin cases. When disagreement spreads to ascertainable facts, then things are well-nigh hopeless.
The rifts are deep and nasty. Polarization and demonization of the opponent are the order of the day. Do you want more of this? Then give government more say in your life. The bigger the government, the more to fight over. Do you want less? Then support limited government and federalism. A return to federalism may be a way to ease the tensions, some of them anyway, not that I am sanguine about any solution.
What is Federalism?
Federalism, roughly, is (i) a form of political organization in which governmental power is divided among a central government and various constituent governing entities such as states, counties, and cities; (ii) subject to the proviso that both the central and the constituent governments retain their separate identities and assigned duties. A government that is not a federation would allow for the central government to create and reorganize constituent governments at will and meddle in their affairs. Federalism is implied by the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
Federalism would make for less contention, because people who support high taxes and liberal schemes could head for states like Massachusetts or California, while the conservatively inclined who support gun rights and capital punishment could gravitate toward states like Texas.
We see the world differently. Worldview differences in turn reflect differences in values. Now values are not like tastes. Tastes cannot be reasonably discussed and disputed while values can. (De gustibus non est disputandum.) But value differences, though they can be fruitfully discussed, cannot be objectively resolved because any attempted resolution will end up relying on higher-order value judgments. There is no exit from the axiological circle. We can articulate and defend our values and clarify our value differences. What we cannot do is resolve our value differences to the satisfaction of all sincere, intelligent, and informed discussants.
Consider religion. Is it a value or not? Conservatives, even those who are atheistic and irreligious, tend to view religion as a value, as conducive to human flourishing. Liberals and leftists tend to view it as a disvalue, as something that impedes human flourishing. The question is not whether religion, or rather some particular religion, is true. Nor is the question whether religion, or some particular religion, is rationally defensible. The question is whether the teaching and learning and practice of a religion contributes to our well-being, not just as individuals, but in our relations with others. For example, would we be better off as a society if every vestige of religion were removed from the public square? Or does Bible study and other forms of religious education tend to make us better people?
For a conservative like Dennis Prager, the answer to both questions is obvious. No and Yes, respectively. As I recall, he gives an example something like the following. You are walking down the street in a bad part of town. On one side of the street people are leaving a Bible study class. On the other side, a bunch of Hells [sic] Angels are coming out of the Pussy Cat Lounge. Which side of the street do you want to be on? For a conservative the answer is obvious. People who study and take to heart the Bible with its Ten Commandments, etc. are less likely to mug or injure you than drunken bikers who have been getting in touch with their inner demons for the last three hours. But of course this little thought experiment won't cut any ice with a dedicated leftist.
I won't spell out the leftist response. I will say only that you will enter a morass of consideration and counter-consideration that cannot be objectively adjudicated. You won't get Christopher Hitchens to give up his view.
My thesis is that there can be no objective resolution, satisfactory to every sincere, intelligent, and well-informed discussant, of the question of the value of religion. And this is a special case of a general thesis about the objective insolubility of value questions with respect to the issues that most concern us.
Another sort of value difference concerns not what we count as values, but how we weight or prioritize them. Presumably both conservatives and liberals value both liberty and security. But they will differ bitterly over which trumps the other and in what circumstances. Here too it is naive to expect an objective resolution of the issue satisfactory to all participants, even those who meet the most stringent standards of moral probity, intellectual acuity, knowledgeability with respect to relevant empirical issues, etc.
Liberal and conservative, when locked in polemic, like to call each other stupid. But of course intelligence or the lack thereof has nothing to do with the intractability of the debates. The intractability is rooted in value differences about which consensus is impossible. On the abortion question, for example, there is no empirical evidence that can resolve the dispute. Empirical data from biology and other sciences are of course relevant to the correct formulation of the problem, but contribute nothing to its resolution. Nor can reason whose organon is logic resolve the dispute. You would have to be as naive as Ayn Rand to think that Reason dictates a solution.
Recognizing these facts, we must ask ourselves: How can we keep from tearing each other apart literally or figuratively? Guns, God, abortion, illegal immigration -- these are issues that get the blood up. I am floating the suggestion that federalism and severe limitations on the reach of the central government are what we need to lessen tensions. (But isn't border enforcement a federal job? Yes, of course. In this example, what needs to be curtailed is Federal interference with a border state's reasonable enforcement of its borders with a foreign country. Remember Arizona Senate Bill 1070?)
Suppose Roe v. Wade is overturned and the question of the legality of abortion is returned to the states. Some states will make it legal, others illegal. This would be a modest step in the direction of mitigating the tensions between the warring camps. If abortion is a question for the states, then no federal monies could be allocated to the support of abortion. People who want to live in abortion states can move there; people who don't can move to states in which abortion is illegal. Each can live with their own kind and avoid having their values and sensibilities disrespected.
I understand that my proposal will not be acceptable to either liberals or conservatives. Both want to use the power of the central government to enforce what they consider right. Both sides are convinced that they are right. But of course they cannot both be right. So how do they propose to heal the splits in the body politic?
One of the first things I did after seeing the depressing election news this morning was check to see which of my Facebook friends ‘like’ the pages of the Conservatives or David Cameron, and unfriend them. (Thankfully, none of my friends ‘like’ the UKIP page.) Life is too short, I thought, to hang out with people who hold abhorrent political views, even if it’s just online.
Should one break off contact with those whose views one finds abhorrent?
Let me mention one bad reason for not breaking off contact. The bad reason is that by not breaking off contact one can have 'conversations' that will lead to amicable agreements and mutual understanding. This bad reason is based on the false assumption that there is still common ground on which to hold these 'conversations.' I say we need fewer 'conversations' and more voluntary separation. In marriage as in politics, the bitter tensions born of irreconcilable differences are relieved by divorce, not by attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable. Let's consider some examples. In each of these cases it is difficult to see what common ground the parties to the dispute occupy.
1. Suppose you hold the utterly abhorrent view that it is a justifiable use of state power to force a florist or a caterer to violate his conscience by providing services at, say, a same-sex 'marriage' ceremony.
2. Or you hold the appalling and ridiculous view that demanding photo ID at polling places disenfranchises those would-be voters who lack such ID.
3. Or you refuse to admit a distinction between legal and illegal immigration.
4. Or you maintain the absurd thesis that global warming is the greatest threat to humanity at the present time. (Obama)
5. Or you advance the crack-brained notion that the cases of Trayvon Martin and Emmet Till are comparable in all relevant respects.
6. Or, showing utter contempt for facts, you insist that Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri was an 'unarmed black teenager' shot down like a dog in cold blood without justification of any sort by the racist cop, Darren Wilson.
7. Or you compare Ferguson and Baltimore as if they are relevantly similar. (Hillary Clinton)
8. Or you mendaciously elide distinctions crucial in the gun debate such as that between semi-auto and full-auto. (Dianne Feinstein)
9. Or you systematically deploy double standards. President Obama, for example, refuses to use 'Islamic' in connection with the Islamic State or 'Muslim' in connection with Muslim terrorists. But he has no problem with pinning the deeds of crusaders and inquisitors on Christians.
10. Or you mendaciously engage in self-serving anachronism, for example, comparing current Muslim atrocities with Christian ones long in the past.
11. Or you routinely slander your opponents with such epithets as 'racist,' 'sexist,' etc.
12. Or you make up words whose sole purpose is to serve as semantic bludgeons and cast doubt on the sanity of your opponents. You know full well that a phobia is an irrational fear, but you insist on labeling those who oppose homosexual practices as 'phobic' when you know that their opposition is in most cases rationally grounded and not based in fear, let alone irrational fear.
13. Or you bandy the neologism 'Islamophobia' as a semantic bludgeon when it is plain that fear of radical Islam is entirely rational. In general, you engage in linguistic mischief whenever it serves your agenda thereby showing contempt for the languages you mutilate.
14. Or you take the side of underdogs qua underdogs without giving any thought as to whether or not these underdogs are in any measure responsible for their status or their misery by their crimes. You apparently think that weakness justifies.
15. Or you label abortion a 'reproductive right' or a 'women's health issue' thus begging the question of its moral acceptability.
Announcing his presidential bid this month, Sen. Rand Paul said he wants to repeal “any law that disproportionately incarcerates people of color.”
Did he really say that? If yes, then he's pandering Hillariously . 'People of color,' to use the politically correct phrase, are disproportionately incarcerated because they disproportionately commit crimes. Is Rand now a quota-mentality liberal? Then to hell with him. It says something about him that he won't stand on principle even though he has no real chance of getting the Republican nomination.
All of which means that Mrs. Clinton’s presidential bid is an exercise in—and a referendum on—cynicism, partly hers but mainly ours. Democrats who nominate Mrs. Clinton will transform their party into the party of cynics; an America that elects Mrs. Clinton as its president will do so as a nation of cynics. Is that how we see, or what we want for, ourselves?
This is what the 2016 election is about. You know already that if Mrs. Clinton runs for president as an Elizabeth Warren-style populist she won’t mean a word of it, any more than she would mean it if she ran as a ’90s-style New Democrat or a ’70s-style social reformer. The real Hillary, we are asked to believe, is large and contains multitudes.
The allusion is to Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" in Leaves of Grass wherein we find on p. 96 of the Signet Classic edition the lines:
Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)
You may recall that a copy of Leaves of Grass was a gift Bill Clinton gave to Monica Lewinsky. The meaning of that I will leave you to ponder. Back to Stephens:
Cynicism is the great temptation of modern life. We become cynics because we desperately don’t want to be moralists, and because earnestness is boring, and because skepticism is a hard and elusive thing to master. American education, by and large, has become an education in cynicism: Our Founders were rank hypocrites. Our institutions are tools of elite coercion. Our economy perpetuates privilege. Our justice system is racist. Our foreign policy is rapacious. Cynicism gives us the comfort of knowing we won’t be fooled again because we never believed in anything in the first place. We may not be born disabused and disenchanted, but we get there very quickly.
This is the America that the Clintons seek to enlist in their latest presidential quest. I suspect many Democrats would jump at an opportunity not to participate in the exercise—it’s why they bolted for Barack Obama in 2008—and would welcome a credible primary challenger. (Run, Liz, Run!) But they will go along with it, mostly because liberals have demonized the Republican Party to the point that they have lost the capacity for self-disgust. Anything—anyone—to save America from a conservative judicial appointment.
As for the rest of the country, Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy offers a test: How much can it swallow? John Podesta and the rest of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign team must be betting that, like a python devouring a goat, Americans will have ample time to digest Mrs. Clinton’s personal ethics.
Another day, another scandal. Or so it seems these last few days. Here is the Clinton Scandal Manual.
I also recommend Daniel Halper, Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine, Harper Collins, 2014, xxv + 319 pp. A page-turner! Doesn't require the effort of say, Erich Pryzwara's Analogia Entis.
With Obama we had the audacity of 'hope.' With Hillary, the audacity of mendacity.
But why should truth matter? What difference does it make?
It has been said of Bill Clinton that he'd rather climb a tree and tell a lie than stand on the ground and tell the truth. Hillary continues the family tradition. One of her latest untruths is that all four of her grandparents came to the U.S. as immigrants when only one of them did. She lied, brazenly, about something easily checked. To prolong the arboreal metaphor, why would she perch herself far out on a limb so easily sawn off? Beats me.
Now a liar is not a person who tells a lie once in a long while. Otherwise we'd all be liars. A liar is one who habitually lies. Evidence mounts that Hillary is a liar. Ed Morrissey:
As lies go, this is somewhere between the Tuzla dash and the bombed-out Belfast hotel that wasn’t. The problem for Hillary is that it fits a pattern, and that pattern’s emerging very early in a campaign that has to run for another 18 months. Every time Hillary campaigns, she begins to fantasize about her history and experience in a way that reminds voters about the Clintons and their lack of credibility. Last year, she blew up her book tour by trying to claim that she and Bill left the White House “dead broke,” even though they owned two expensive houses, Hillary had already been elected to the Senate, and both she and Bill immediately began lucrative speaking tours and got huge book advances.
Re-imagining grandparents as immigrants all by itself wouldn’t necessarily be fatal to any candidate, let alone Hillary Clinton, who’s already stretching credulity to the breaking point by running as a populist while locking up all of the establishment backers in the Democratic Party. The problem for Democrats is that it’s not all by itself, and the fabulism problem will only get worse the longer Hillary talks.
Hillary's mendacity makes a certain amount of sense if one bears in mind that truth is not a leftist value, and that for leftists winning is everything with the end justifying the means. But only a certain amount. How could anyone believe that her ends are served by lying about matters easily checked? It may well be that Hillary is not just a liar, but a pathological liar. But does any of this matter?
The anarcho-tyranny fork has two tines, Pollack tells us. One is "the total collapse of the rule of law as applied to illegal immigrants and the crimes, petty and otherwise, that they commit." The other is "the increasing (and increasingly capricious) burdens and indignities that are heaped upon those citizens (perhaps ‘chumps’ is a better word) who still attempt to play by the rules."
Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate, was asked by CNN’s Dana Bash this week if he regretted his 2012 accusation on the Senate floor that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney “hasn’t paid taxes for ten years.” Reid presented no evidence at the time and claimed he didn’t need any: “I don’t think the burden should be on me. The burden should be on him. He’s the one I’ve alleged has not paid any taxes.”
To reject moral equivalentism is not to embrace 'Manicheanism.' To reject robust interventionism in foreign policy is not to subscribe to 'isolationism.' To think otherwise in either case is to make a mistake. Most leftists make the first mistake; many conservatives the second.
I predict that the current controversy will soon be forgotten and Hillary will bounce back more formidable than ever. She looks tired, but she is as hungry as ever. She has Ambition written all over her. Do not underestimate her. The rumors of her imminent political demise are greatly exaggerated. Mark my words! I hope to hell and Hillary that I am wrong.
In 1967, Benjamin Netanyahu skipped his high school graduation in Pennsylvania to head off to Israel to help in the Six Day War. That same year Obama moved with his mother to Indonesia.
When Obama suggested that Israel return to the pre-1967 borders, described by Ambassador Eban, no right-winger, as “Auschwitz borders,” it was personal for Netanyahu. Like many Israeli teens, he had put his life on hold and risked it protecting those borders.
In the seventies, Obama was part of the Choom Gang and Netanyahu was sneaking up on Sabena Flight 571 dressed as an airline technician. Inside were four terrorists who had already separated Jewish passengers and taken them hostage. Two hijackers were killed. Netanyahu took a bullet in the arm.
The Prime Minister of Israel defended the operation in plain language. “When blackmail like this succeeds, it only leads to more blackmail,” she said.
Netanyahu’s speech in Congress was part of that same clash of worldviews. His high school teacher remembered him saying that his fellow students were living superficially and that there was “more to life than adolescent issues.” He came to Congress to cut through the issues of an administration that has never learned to get beyond its adolescence.
Obama’s people had taunted him with by calling him “chickens__t.” They had encouraged a boycott of his speech and accused him of insulting Obama. They had thrown out every possible distraction to the argument he came to make. Unable to argue with his facts, they played Mean Girls politics instead.
Benjamin Netanyahu had left high school behind to go to war. Now he was up against overgrown boys and girls who had never grown beyond high school. But even back then he had been, as a fellow student had described him, “The lone voice in the wilderness in support of the conservative line.”
“We were all against the war in Vietnam because we were kids,” she said. The kids are still against the war. Against all the wars; unless it’s their own wars. Netanyahu grew up fast. They never did.
Netanyahu could have played their game, but instead he began by thanking Obama. His message was not about personal attacks, but about the real threat that Iran poses to his country, to the region and to the world. He made that case decisively and effectively as few other leaders could.
He did it using plain language and obvious facts.
Netanyahu reminded Congress that the attempt to stop North Korea from going nuclear using inspectors failed. The deal would not mean a denuclearized Iran. “Not a single nuclear facility would be demolished,” he warned. And secret facilities would continue working outside the inspections regime.
He quoted the former head of IAEA’s inspections as saying, “If there’s no undeclared installation today in Iran, it will be the first time in 20 years that it doesn’t have one.”
And Netanyahu reminded everyone that Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear program would be backed by ongoing development of its intercontinental ballistic missile program that would not be touched under the deal.
He warned that the deal would leave Iran with a clear path to a nuclear endgame that would allow it to “make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal” in “a matter of weeks”.
Iran’s mission is to export Jihad around the world, he cautioned. It’s a terrorist state that has murdered Americans. While Obama claims to have Iran under control, it has seized control of an American ally in Yemen and is expanding its influence from Iraq to Syria.
Its newly moderate government “hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists.” It’s just as bad as ISIS, except that ISIS isn’t close to getting a nuclear bomb.
“America’s founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran’s founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad,” he said. It was the type of clarity that he had brought to the difficult questions of life as a teenager. It is a clarity that still evades Obama today.
Lately liberalism has gone from psychodrama to farce.
Take Barack Obama. He has gone from mild displeasure with Israel to downright antipathy. Suddenly we are in a surreal world where off-the-record slurs from the administration against Benjamin Netanyahu as a coward and chickensh-t have gone to full-fledged attacks from John Kerry and Susan Rice, to efforts of former Obama political operatives to defeat the Israeli prime minister at the polls, to concessions to Iran and to indifference about the attacks on Jews in Paris. Who would have believed that Iranian leaders who just ordered bombing runs on a mock U.S. carrier could be treated with more deference than the prime minister of Israel? What started out six years as pressure on Israel to dismantle so-called settlements has ended up with a full-fledged vendetta against a foreign head of state.
Why the furiously intemperate ranting over Rudy's remarks? After all, the distinguished former mayor of New York City merely articulated what vast numbers of us have suspected or believed for years. Giuliani had the temerity to speak truth to power and this enraged the Left. (Lefties think they alone own dissent and the right to speak truth to power.) Fred Siegel:
The ranting has obscured the reasons why so many Americans take Giuliani’s remarks to heart. Starting with his June 2009 speech in Cairo, when he apologized for American actions in the Middle East, Obama has consistently given credence to Islamic grievances against America while showing reluctance to confront Islamic terrorism. In 2009, after Major Nidal Hasan killed 13 American soldiers and wounded 40 others at Fort Hood while shouting “Allahu Akhbar,” the administration labeled the killings workplace violence. In recent months, the pace of evasions has quickened. Obama was the only major Western leader absent from the massive Paris march held in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings. Worse yet, Obama referred to the killings in a Jewish supermarket in Paris as “random” acts of violence.
But this was only the beginning of a string of curious comments and loopy locutions made by the president or his spokespeople in the weeks that followed. While ISIS rampaged across the Middle East, the president told a Washington prayer breakfast that Christians shouldn’t get on their “high horse,” because they were guilty of the Crusades, among other crimes. Not only were the Crusades many centuries past, but they were also a complicated matter in which both sides behaved barbarically.
But that is to understate the matter. Both Siegel and Giuliani failed to mention a crucial fact, namely, the Crusades were defensive wars, wars in response to Muslim aggression and conquest.
The implicit logic of the Draft Warren movement is that after eight years of the Obama presidency, the American people want to move . . . further left.
Well said, my man. And this too:
Amid the recent, violent anti-police protests (whose political consequences will be real but unmeasurable), Smith College President Kathleen McCartney sent the student body an email titled, “All Lives Matter.” The phrase horrified Smith students. Her words, they said, diminished black lives. They demanded that Ms. McCartney issue a public apology. Which she did. This is a scene straight out of the public shamings of officials in China under Mao Zedong.
But Chairman Mao did get one thing right: the line about power emanating from the barrel of a gun. Another reason why the Democrat stupidos are stupid, one not mentioned by Henninger, is that their recent antics are fueling gun and ammo sales. (Pew Research Center report) Why on earth would any citizen need an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle? How about this: to protect oneself, one's family, and one's business against looters and arsonists on the rampage egged on aand enabled by race-baiting, rabble-rousing, hate-America leftist scumbags who undermine the police and contribute to a climate in which people need to take over their own defense. The Obama Admininstration's assault on the rule of law motivates the right-thinking to arm themselves.
By the way, libs and lefties routinely elide the semi-auto vs. full-auto distinction. It is not that they are ignorant of it, or too stupid to understand it; it is worse: they are deeply mendacious and will use any means to further their agenda. Never forget: PC comes from the CP. The end justifies the means. It is on all fours with their elision of the legal vs. illegal immigrant distinction. It is not that lefties are ignorant of it, or too stupid to understand it, etc.
Getting back to 'Fauxcahontas', here is an entry from 21 May 2012:
Let's assume the 1894 document is accurate. That makes Warren one-thirty-second Native American. George Zimmerman, the Florida accused murderer, had a black grandmother. That makes him a quarter black, four times as black as Warren is Indian, though The New York Times describes him as a "white Hispanic."
In the upside-down world of the liberal, the 'white Hispanic' George Zimmerman is transmogrified into a redneck and the lily-white Elizabeth Warren into a redskin.
The Left's diversity fetishism is so preternaturally boneheaded that one has to wonder whether calm critique has any place at all in responses to it. But being somewhat naive, I have been known to try rational persuasion. See Diversity and the Quota Mentality for one example.
"If the product is so superior, why does it have to live on the tit of the State?" (Charles Krauthammer)
One answer is that the booboisie of these United States is too backward and benighted to appreciate the high level of NPR programming. The rubes of fly-over country are too much enamoured of wrestling, tractor pulls, and reality shows, and, to be blunt, too stupid and lazy to take in superior product.
Being something of an elitist myself, I am sympathetic to this answer. The problem for me is twofold. NPR is run by lefties for lefties. That in itself is not a problem. But it is a most serious problem when part of the funding comes from the taxpayer. But lefties, blind to their own bias, don't see the problem. Very simply, it is wrong to take money by force from people and then use it to promote causes that those people find offensive or worse when the causes have nothing to do with the legitimate functions of government. Planned Parenthood and abortion. NEA and "Piss Christ." Get it?
Second, we are in fiscal crisis. If we can't remove NPR from the "tit of the State," from the milky mammaries of massive Mama Obama government, what outfit can we remove from said mammaries? If we can't zero out NPR how are we going to cut back on the 'entitlement' programs such as Social Security?
Ah, but no one wants to talk about a real crisis when there is 'Ferguson' to talk about.
Don't get me wrong. I like or rather liked "Car Talk" despite the paucity of automotive advice and the excess of joking around. I even like the PBS "Keeping Up Appearances" in small doses. But if frivolous flab like this can't be excised, what can?
I am taking a break from all news and social media. I will be keeping up with your blog, however, as your most recent treatment on the Incarnation is intriguing. I'm taking a break because I'm tired of all of the vehemence being spewed out there. It's not all from the liberals; conservatives have a role to play too. However, much of it is from the liberals.
I agree that conservatives are a part of the problem, but most of the trouble is from the Left. No surprise here. Civility is a conservative virtue. Why should a leftist be civil? He is out to oppose, disrupt, subvert, and bring about radical change. Radical change: not improvement of a system that works well by comparison with other systems elsewhere and elsewhen. The leftist is a nowhere man, a u-topian. He does not stand, like the conservative, upon the the terra firma of a reality antecedent to his wishes, desires, and impossible dreams.
This puts conservatives in a tough spot. For the Left, politics is war. And war cannot be conducted in a civil manner. One has to employ the same tactics as the aggressor or else lose.
The temptation to retreat into one's private life is very strong. But if you give in and let the Left have free reign you may wake up one day with no private life left. Not that 'news fasts' from time to time are not a good idea. We should all consume less media dreck. But there is no final retreat from totalitarians. They won't allow it. At some point one has to stand and fight in defense, not only of the individual, but also of the mediating structures of civil society.
The hypocrisy is just too much. They decry potential violence in the form of the Second Amendment, but think that the rioting is justified and acceptable. They rightly cry out that "Black Lives Matter!" and yet only do so when a white officer shoots an unarmed black man. Where were they when black men are attacking one another? Black lives matter . . . of course they do. So then why raze businesses in their communities, businesses that provide paying jobs which would help those black lives make ends meet? Even if Officer Wilson was guilty, why repay injustice by perpetuating injustice? What did those businesses have to do with any of it? Why burn down police cruisers and confirm in the minds of those white police officers what you think they think of you all. I just don't understand this madness and it depresses me that the majority opinion (or at least the most vocal opinion) is that this is all appropriate and good.
You are talking sense, of course. But there is no common sense on the Left, no wisdom, and worst of all, no concern for truth.
What matters to a leftist is not truth, but the 'narrative.' A narrative is a story, and stories needn't be true to be useful in promoting an 'agenda.'
Officer Darren Wilson was not indicted for a very good reason: there was simply no case again him. He was assaulted by the thuggish Michael Brown who had just robbed a convenience store and roughed up its proprietor. Brown then proceeded to walk in the middle of the road, which of course is illegal. Wilson, doing his job, ordered him out of the road and then Brown went on the attack, initiating a physical altercation with the cop and trying to wrest his weapon from him. Outside the car, a bit later, Brown rushed the cop and the cop had no choice but to shoot him dead. The cop did it by the book. Everything he did was legal. And morally permissible.
But leftists do not care what the actual facts are, because, again, they do not care about truth. What actually happened in Ferguson is ignored because it does not comport with the 'narrative' according to which racist white cops shoot down "unarmed black teenagers."
For a leftist, the narrative is everything and truth be damned. Leftists claim to want justice, but without truth there can be no justice.
Was Brown unarmed? Yes, but by the same token Rodney King was a motorist and Trayvon Martin was a child. There is a form of mendacity whereby one deceives by telling truths.
Note the linguistic mischief liberals make. If you say that a person is unarmed, you imply that he is harmless. But an unarmed man who attacks a cop and tries to arm himself with the cop's weapon is not harmless, although, technically, he is unarmed until the moment he succeeds in arming himself.
And of course race doesn't come into this at all except insofar as blacks are more criminally prone than whites.
Nor should this be a liberal-conservative issue, unless liberals are opposed to the rule of law. I fear that here in fact is the salient point: contemporary liberals have no respect for the rule of law, from Obama and Holder on down. (Turkish saying: Balık baştan kokar: "The fish stinks from the head.") Examples are legion: Obamacare, illegal immigration, et cetera ad nauseam.
The truth is that Michael Brown by his preternaturally imprudent, immoral, and illegal behavior brought about his own demise. Had he been brought up properly to respect the law and its legitimate enforcers, he would be alive today. All he had to do was get out of the street! But no! He started a fight with a cop, taunted him, called him 'a pussy,' threw the cigarillos he had stolen at him, as if to say, "What are you going to do about it, pig?" (Was Brown suicidal?)
You could say that I am blaming the victim. But unless one is profoundly stupid one must agree with me that this is a clear case in which blaming the victim is perfectly justified.
It's crunch time with term papers and grading and guest lectures for my supervisor, so I have to retain an aggressive posture from this point until December 15th. Hence my fast from media. And I need time to emotionally process all of this. I have appreciated your blog and the perspective you offer. It is a voice crying out in the wilderness.
The only mystery about the last six years is how much lasting damage has been done to the American experiment, at home and abroad. Our federal agencies are now an alphabet soup of incompetence and corruption. How does the IRS ever quite recover? Will the Secret Service always be seen as veritable Keystone Cops? Is the GSA now a reckless party-time organization? Is the EPA institutionalized as a rogue appendage of the radical green movement with a director who dabbles in online pseudonyms? Do we accept that the Justice Department dispenses injustice or that the VA can be a lethal institution for our patriots? Is NASA now a Muslim outreach megaphone as we hire Russia, the loser of the space race, to rocket us into orbit?
[. . .]
Every statistic that Obama has produced on Obamacare enrollment, deportation, unemployment and GDP growth is in some ways a lie. Almost everything he has said about granting amnesty was untrue, from his own contradictions to the congressionally sanctioned small amnesties of prior presidents. Almost every time Obama steps to the lectern we expect two things: he will lecture us on our moral failings and what he will say will be abjectly untrue.
The latest NRO column from Spencer Case, our man 'on the ground' in Boulder. Excerpt:
A voter, no less than a judge or a juror, has the ability and obligation to transcend personal desires and to think in terms of the general good when he votes. There is thus a distinction between the private citizens who are voting and the public office of voter which each individual voter briefly occupies on Election Day. The distinction between the two is psychologically reinforced when citizens are expected to cast their ballots in a public space as opposed to from their living-room sofa.
One of the biggest voter frauds may be the idea promoted by Attorney General Eric Holder and others that there is no voter fraud, that laws requiring voters to have a photo identification are just attempts to suppress black voting.
Upon leaving the polling place this morning I joked that there ought to be two receptacles for ballots, the usual one for Republican and Libertarian ballots, and a second one for Democrat ballots -- a shredder. This elicited a hearty laugh. That would be real vote suppression.
But be careful with the jokes in these politically correct times. What you can get away with depends on your precinct. Mine, though populated with plenty of geezers who cherish an irrational and wholly sentimental attachment to the Dems, as if the year is still 1960, is essentially conservative and right-thinking. Besides, I was in full hiking regalia and armed with a big stick.
Here’s why. Whatever party takes over the Senate will not only be able to appoint the body’s Majority Leader, it will control the committee chairmanships, which in turn will determine what types of legislation will be entertained by the Senate. Because the Senate has the power of advise and consent when the president appoints judges and justices to the federal bench, the partisan composition of the Senate will shape the development of the courts’ jurisprudence for many decades to come. Thus, it is of little consequence what one or two dissenting Senators may have said on the campaign trail.
Those who utter the “vote for the man, not the party” slogan, though undoubtedly offering it as a sincere call to “rise above” partisan politics, do not really understand that partisanship is embedded in the very nature of our political institutions. To lament partisanship is to lament one of the consequences of being a free people. So, if you don’t like partisanship, you should move to Cuba.
You can rely on liberals to politicize race and racialize politics. But they also excel at the racialization of crime. Victor Davis Hanson has their number in Crimes of Exactly What? He discusses a number of examples besides Ferguson. Excerpts:
Racializing crime is a serious business, because it breaks society apart along tribal lines. It is all the more dangerous when elected officials like the president and attorney general are sometimes the worst offenders, given their racialist slurs like “nation of cowards,” “punish our enemies,” and “typical white person” and cheap editorializing in the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases. So on their cue, are we to look at lurid fatal crimes in the news and see them not as matters of individual evil acts, but rather as collective tokens of larger racial hatred? And are we to detect some sort of state culpability that suggests shared guilt for the violence?
[. . .]
If we were to embrace the abjectly racist worldview of Eric Holder or Al Sharpton, where would the racialization of crime end? Who would decide which interracial crimes illustrated premeditated racial hatred — or criminal laxity on the part of the state — and deserved national attention? Which adjudicator could or would declare that one interracial incident was idiosyncratic without transcendent significance, but the other typical and thus representative of collective pathology?
What exactly has this country stooped to, when our officials and public figures traffic in politicizing the end of human lives? We are becoming not just a sick country, but an amoral one as well. What Ferguson wrought will not end well.
The public-health establishment has unanimously opposed a travel and visa moratorium from Ebola-plagued West African countries to protect the U.S. population. To evaluate whether this opposition rests on purely scientific grounds, it helps to understand the political character of the public-health field. For the last several decades, the profession has been awash in social-justice ideology. Many of its members view racism, sexism, and economic inequality, rather than individual behavior, as the primary drivers of differential health outcomes in the U.S. According to mainstream public-health thinking, publicizing the behavioral choices behind bad health—promiscuous sex, drug use, overeating, or lack of exercise—blames the victim.
We need ideological quarantine to keep sane but susceptible people from being infected by pernicious ideological viruses. I mean, how willfully stupid can a willfully stupid liberal be? And should we allow liberals around the impressionable and uncritical? We need to think about appropriate measures for social prophylaxis.
And what exactly is wrong with blaming the victim, within limits? As you might expect, I have written a post on this topic entitled, as again you might expect, On Blaming the Victim.
A hard-hitting piece by Joseph Curl exposes the PeeCee Prez for what he is: a disaster whose ever-increasing incompetence is about to turn deadly.
Someone should explain to Obama why we have borders and why they must be enforced. Is he really as stupid as his actions and inactions show him to be, or is he a hate-America leftist that does all he can to destroy the country?
Suppose Ebola spreads into Central America and Mexico. Where do you think people will flee to? But even if the Ebola virus does not penetrate Central America, refugees from those regions bring with them tropical diseases that we are not prepared for. Did Obama and his advisors give any thought to that?
Apparently not. The fool prefers to joke about the border problem. Contemptible! And of course nothing he says in that clip, except the alligators in moats joke, can be taken seriously since he lies about almost everything. Curl concludes:
The White House has repeatedly used one word to describe the administration's response to the Ebola crisis: "Tenacious."
The real word that applies though is "mendacious." Or "fallacious." Any other claim is audacious.
You wrote: ". . . one must turn their own Alinsky tactics against them . . . . Conservatives should not allow themselves to be hobbled by their own civility and high standards."
I completely agree which is why I support the ambush tactics of Jason Mattera (most recently of Lois Lerner fame). In my opinion the tactics are sleazy, but they are necessary as you note above. Mattera delivers to the left a taste of their own medicine. Moreover, in being slammed to a wall by Harry Reid's armed guard, Mattera does more to reveal the thuggish nature of the left than any polemic, no matter how well delivered.
As for all the criticism that Mattera has elicited, well, when one is getting flack one knows one is over the target.
In this video, Mattera responds to critics of his ambush of Lois Lerner, IRS chief. It is too bad that these ambush tactics are necessary, but when we are dealing with corrupt leftists who use the awesome power of the State to silence dissent, and who refuse to take responsibility for their actions or admit their wrongdoing, then tactics far more adversarial than those of the mild-mannered Mattera are justified.
We need less civility and more confrontation. The courageous Mattera is doing the job that journalists are supposed to do as members of the Fourth Estate, namely, monitor politicians and government functionaries such as Lerner in order to ensure that they don't violate their oaths of office or otherwise abuse the democratic process.
I speak as a conservative when I say that we need less civility and more confrontation. But of course there are leftists who say the same thing.
I think most of us will agree that confrontation and contention are not good and that peace is better than war. But how reduce the level of political strife?
There is a conceptually easy answer, but it won't happen. The Left has to back off. But the Left, being totalitarian, cannot consistently with it own nature back off or limit itself. Like Nietzsche's Will to Power it does not seek merely to preserve itself but always to expand and extend itself. (Here is a clue as to why leftists love Nietzsche; it is not because of his reactionary views.)
What we need is more federalism, less integration, and more voluntary segregation. I don't mean any of this racially. It is relatively easy to get along with one's ideological opponents if one limits contact with them. But this presupposes that they are willing to back off. If they don't, then war is inevitable.
Last night on The O'Reilly Factor, the sharpest comedian out there uncorked the following:
He makes Narcissus look like he invented self-effacement.
In battling the Left, it is not enough to have facts, logic, and moral decency on one's side; one must turn their own Alinsky tactics against them by the use of mockery, derision, contumely, and all the weapons of invective to make them look stupid, contemptible, and uncool. For the young especially, the cool counts for far more than the cogent. This is why the quintessentially cool Miller is so effective. People of sense could see from the outset that the adjunct law professor and community organizer, associate of former terrorist Bill Ayers and the 'reverend' Jeremiah Wright, raised on leftist claptrap and bereft of experience and knowledge of the world, would prove to be a disaster as president -- as he has so proven, and as even Leon Panetta the other night all but admitted. But Obama came across as a cool dude and that endeared him to foolish voters.
Civility is a prized conservative virtue, and one wishes that such tactics would not be necessary. But for leftists politics is war, and it is the foolish conservative who fails to see this and persists in imagining it to be a gentlemanly debate on common ground over shared interests. Civility is for the civil, not for its enemies.
Some time ago I heard Miller quip, in reference to Melissa Harris-Perry, that
She is a waste of a good hyphen.
A nasty thing to say, no doubt, but not as nasty as the slanderous and delusional things she had to say about the supposedly racist overtones of the word 'Obamacare.'
Conservatives should not allow themselves to be hobbled by their own civility and high standards. As one of my aphorisms has it:
America is experiencing immigration problems somewhat like Australia's. The idea of 'multiculturalism' some would say is beginning to show its flaws. Who do you believe should be allowed to enter your country? Please feel free to be as politically incorrect as you like.
1. First of all, one must insist on a distinction that many on the Left willfully ignore, that between legal and illegal immigration. (Libertarians also typically elide the distinction.) Legal and illegal immigration are separate, logically independent, issues. To oppose illegal immigration, as any right-thinking person must, is not to oppose legal immigration. So, to answer one of the reader's questions, no one should be allowed to enter illegally. But why exactly? What's wrong with illegal immigration? Aren't those who oppose it racists and xenophobes and nativists? Doesn't everyone have a right to migrate wherever he wants?
2. The most general reason for not allowing illegal immigration is precisely because it is illegal. If the rule of law is to be upheld, then reasonable laws cannot be allowed to be violated with impunity simply because they are difficult to enforce or are being violated by huge numbers of people. Someone who questions the value of the rule of law is not someone it is wise to waste time debating.
3. There are several sound specific reasons for demanding that the Federal government exercise its legitimate, constitutionally grounded (see Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. constitution) function of securing the national borders, and none of these reasons has anything to do with racism or xenophobia or nativism or any other derogatory epithet that slanderous leftists and libertarians want to attach to those of us who can think clearly about this issue.
There are reasons having to do with national security in an age of terrorism. There are reasons having to do with assimilation, national identity, and comity. How likely is it that illegals will assimilate, and how likely is social harmony among citizens and unassimilated illegals? There are considerations of fairness in respect of those who have entered the country legally by satisfying the requirements of so doing. Is it fair that they should be put through a lengthy process when others are allowed in illegally.
There are reasons having to do with the importation of contraband substances into the country. There are reasons having to do with increased crime. Last but not least, there are reasons pertaining to public health. With the concern over avian influenza, tuberculosis, ebola, and all sorts of tropical diseases, we have all the more reason to demand border control.
Borders are a body politic's immune system. Unregulated borders are deficient immune systems. Diseases that were once thought to have been eradicated have made a comeback north of the Rio Grande due to the unregulated influx of population. These diseases include tuberculosis, Chagas disease, leprosy, Dengue fever, polio, and malaria.
You will have noticed how liberals want to transform into public health issues problems that are manifestly not public but matters of private concern, obesity for example. But here we have an issue that is clearly a public health issue, one concerning which Federal involvement is justified, and what do our dear liberals do? They ignore it. Of course, the problem cannot be blamed solely on the Democrat Party. Republicans like Bush and McCain are just as guilty. On immigration, Bush was clearly no conservative; he was a libertarian on this issue. A libertarian on some issues, a liberal on others, and a conservative on far too few.
4. Many liberals think that opposition to illegal immigration is anti-Hispanic. Not so. It is true that most of those who violate the nation's borders are Hispanic. But the opposition is not to Hispanics but to illegal entrants whether Hispanic or not. It is a contingent fact that Mexico is to the south of the U.S. If Turkey or Iran or Italy were to the south, the issue would be the same. And if Iran were to the south, and there were an influx of illegals, then then leftists would speak of anti-Persian bias.
A salient feature of liberals and leftists -- there isn't much difference nowadays -- is their willingness to 'play the race card,' to inject race into every issue. The issue of illegal immigration has nothing to do with race since illegal immigrants do not constitute a race. There is no such race as the race of 'llegal aliens.' Opposition to them, therefore, cannot be racist. Suppose England were to the south of the U. S. and Englishmen were streaming north. Would they be opposed because they are white? No, because they are illegal aliens.
"But aren't some of those who oppose illegal immigration racists?" That may be so, but it is irrelevant. That one takes the right stance for the wrong reason does not negate the fact that one has taken the right stance. One only wishes they would take the right stance for the right reasons. Even if everyone who opposed illegal immigration were a foaming-at-the-mouth redneck of a racist, that would not detract one iota of cogency from the cogent arguments against allowing illegal immigration. To think otherwise is to embrace the Genetic Fallacy. Not good.
5. The rule of law is a precious thing. It is one of the supports of a civilized life. The toleration of mass breaking of reasonable and just laws undermines the rule of law.
6. Part of the problem is that we let liberals get away with obfuscatory rhetoric, such as 'undocumented worker.' The term does not have the same extension as 'illegal alien.' I discuss this in a separate post. But having written thousands of posts, I don't quite know where it is.
7. How long can a welfare state survive with open borders? Think about it. The trend in the USA for a long time now has been towards bigger and bigger government, more and more 'entitlements.' It is obviously impossible for purely fiscal reasons to provide cradle-to-grave security for everyone who wants to come here. So something has to give. Either you strip the government down to its essential functions or you control the borders. The first has no real chance of happening. Quixotic is the quest of strict constructionists and libertarians who call for it. Rather than tilting at windmills, they should work with reasonable conservatives to limit and eventually stop the expansion of government. Think of what a roll-back to a government in accordance with a strictly construed constitution would look like. For one thing, the social security system would have to be eliminated. That won't happen. Libertarians are 'losertarian' dreamers. They should wake up and realize that politics is a practical business and should aim at the possible. By the way, the pursuit of impossible dreams is common to both libertarians and leftists.
8. Even though contemporary liberals show little or no understanding for the above arguments, there are actually what might be called 'liberal' arguments for controlling the borders:
A. The Labor Argument. To give credit where credit is due, it was not the conservatives of old who championed the working man, agitated for the 40 hour work week, demanded safe working conditions, etc., but the liberals of those days. They can be proud of this. But it is not only consistent with their concern for workers that they oppose illegal immigration, but demanded by their concern. For when the labor market is flooded with people who will work for low wages, the bargaining power of the U.S. worker is diminished. Liberals should therefore oppose the unregulated influx of cheap labor, and they should oppose it precisely because of their concern for U. S. workers.
By the way, it is simply false to say, as Bush, McCain and other pandering politicians have said, that U.S. workers will not pick lettuce, clean hotel rooms, and the like. Of course they will if they are paid a decent wage. People who won't work for $5 an hour will work for $20. But they won't be able to command $20 if there is a limitless supply of indigentes who will accept $5-10.
B. The Environmental Argument. Although there are 'green' conservatives, concern for the natural environment, and its preservation and protection from industrial exploitation, is more a liberal than a conservative issue. (By the way, I'm a 'green' conservative.) So liberals ought to be concerned about the environmental degradation caused by hordes of illegals crossing the border. It is not just that they degrade the lands they physically cross, it is that people whose main concern is economic survival are not likely to be concerned about environmental protection. They are unlikely to become Sierra Club members or to make contributions to the Nature Conservancy. Love of nature comes more easily to middle class white collar workers for whom nature is a scene of recreation than for those who must wrest a livelihood from it by hard toil.
C. The Population Argument. This is closely related to, but distinct from, the Environmental Argument. To the extent that liberals are concerned about the negative effects of explosive population increase, they should worry about an unchecked influx of people whose women have a high birth-rate.
D. The Social Services Argument. Liberals believe in a vast panoply of social services provided by government and thus funded by taxation. But the quality of these services must degrade as the number of people who demand them rises. To take but one example, laws requiring hospitals to treat those in dire need whether or not they have a means of paying are reasonable and humane -- or at least that can be argued with some show of plausibility. But such laws are reasonably enacted and reasonably enforced only in a context of social order. Without border control, not only will the burden placed on hospitals become unbearable, but the justification for the federal government's imposition of these laws on hospitals will evaporate. According to one source, California hospitals are closing their doors. "Anchor babies" born to illegal aliens instantly qualify as citizens for welfare benefits and have caused enormous rises in Medicaid costs and stipends under Supplemental Security Income and Disability Income.
The point is that you can be a good liberal and oppose illegal immigration. You can oppose it even if you don't care about about increased crime, terrorism, drug smuggling, disease, national identity, national sovereignty, assimilation, the rule of law, or fairness to those who have immigrated legally. But a 'good liberal' who is not concerned with these things is a sorry human being.
I hope I have been politically incorrect enough for my reader's taste.
Lincoln and Obama share the Illinois connection. There the similiarity ends. And the Maureen Dowd parody begins:
FORE! Score? And seven trillion rounds ago, our forecaddies brought forth on this continent a new playground, conceived by Robert Trent Jones, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal when it comes to spending as much time on the links as possible — even when it seems totally inappropriate, like moments after making a solemn statement condemning the grisly murder of a 40-year-old American journalist beheaded by ISIL.
Andrew McCarthy comments on the Rick Perry indictment. Alan Dershowitz: Perry indictment is "What Happens in Totalitarian Societies."
The scumbags of the Left will dismiss the folks over at NRO as right-wing nutjobs, but that won't work with Dershowitz. Or how about Jonathan Turley, who has spoken out against the lawlessness of the Obama administration? Is he a right-wing crazy?
Haven't I told you time and again that the Left is totalitarian from the bottom up, the top down, and side to side? Some say that Communism is dead. Well no, it has simply transmogrified into Obaminism.
Barack Obama is once again lamenting the charge that he is responsible for pulling all U.S. peacekeepers out of Iraq, claiming that the prior administration is culpable. But Obama negotiated the withdrawal himself. We know that not because of right-wing talking points, but because of the proud serial claims of reelection candidate Obama in 2011 and 2012 that he deserved credit for leaving Iraq. That complete pullout prompted Joe Biden to claim the Iraq policy was the administration’s likely “greatest achievement” and buoyed Obama to brag that he was leaving a stable and secure Iraq. Think of the logic: pulling all soldiers out of Iraq was such a great thing that I now can brag that I am not responsible for it.
In regards to Syria, does Obama remember that he issued red lines should the Assad regime use chemical or biological weapons? Why then would he assert that the international community had done so, not Barack Obama? Think of the logic: I issued tough threats, and when my bluff was called, someone else issued them.
If Obama were to readdress Benghazi, would anyone believe him? What would he say? That he was in the Situation Room that evening? That he was correct in telling the UN that a (suddenly jailed) video maker prompted the violence? That the consulate and annex were secure and known to be so? That Susan Rice was merely parroting CIA talking points? Think of the logic: a video maker was so clearly responsible for the Benghazi killings that we will never have to mention his culpability again.
Does anyone believe the president that ISIS are “jayvees,” or that al Qaeda is on the run, or that there is no connection between the ascendance of ISIS and the loud but empty boasting of red lines in Syria and complete withdrawal from Iraq? (If we had taken all troops out of South Korea in 1953 — claiming that we had spent too much blood and treasure and that the Seoul government was too inept — would there be a Kia or Hyundai today, or a North Korea in control of the entire Korean peninsula?) Think of the logic: the ISIS threat is so minimal that we need not be alarmed and therefore Obama is sending planes and advisors back into Iraq to contain it. If Obama truly believes that pulling all troops out made Iraq more secure, what will putting some back in do?
Was there any Obama boast about his Affordable Care Act that proved true: Keep your doctor? Keep your health plan? Save $2,500 in annual premiums? Lower the deficit? Lower the annual costs of health care? Win the support of doctors? Simplify sign-ups with a one-stop website? Enjoy lower deductibles? Think of the logic: you will all benefit from a new take-over of health care by a government whose assertions of what it was going to accomplish were proved false in the first days of its implementation.
There are many possible explanations about why the president of the United States simply says things that are not true or contradicts his earlier assertions or both. Is Obama just inattentive, inured to simply saying things in sloppy fashion without much worry whether they conform to the truth? Or is he a classical sophist who believes how one speaks rather than what he actually says alone matters: if he soars with teleprompted rhetoric, what does it matter whether it is true? If Obama can sonorously assert that he got America completely out of Iraq, what does it matter whether that policy proved disastrous or that he now denies that he was responsible for such a mistake?
Is Obama so ill-informed that he embraces the first idea that he encounters, without much worry whether these notions are antithetical to his own prior views or will prove impossible to sustain?
On a deeper level, Obama habitually says untrue things because he has never been called on them before. He has been able throughout his career to appear iconic to his auditors. In the crudity of liberals like Harry Reid and Joe Biden, Obama ancestry and diction gave reassurance that he was not representative of the black lower classes and thus was the receptacle of all sorts of liberal dreams and investments. According to certain liberals, he was like a god, our smartest president, and of such exquisite sartorial taste that he must become a successful president. In other words, on the superficial basis of looks, dress, and patois, Obama was reassuring to a particular class of white guilt-ridden grandees and to such a degree that what he actually had done in the past or promised to do in the future was of no particular importance.
Alex L. writes, "I was interested in the post where you mentioned voting rationality. I've heard this argument as well -- that the chance your vote will influence elections is minuscule, so it's not rational to vote."
But that is not the argument. The argument is not to the conclusion that it is not rational to vote, but that it is rational for many people to remain ignorant of past and present political events and other relevant facts and principles that they would have to be well-apprised of if they were to vote in a thoughtful and responsible manner.
What is at issue is not the rationality of voting but the rationality of political ignorance.
The reason it is rational for many people to remain politically ignorant is that one's vote will have little or no effect on the outcome. To become and remain politically knowledgeable as one must be if one is to make wise decisions in the voting booth takes a considerable amount of initial and ongoing work. I think Ilya Somin has it right:
. . . political ignorance is actually rational for most of the public, including most smart people. If your only reason to follow politics is to be a better voter, that turns out not be much of a reason at all. That is because there is very little chance that your vote will actually make a difference to the outcome of an election (about 1 in 60 million in a presidential race, for example). For most of us, it is rational to devote very little time to learning about politics, and instead focus on other activities that are more interesting or more likely to be useful.
And please note that if it is rational for many to remain politically ignorant, that is consistent with the rationality of others to become and remain politically knowledgeable. I gave three reasons for someone like me to be politically savvy.
First. My goal is to understand the world as best I can. The world contains political actors, political institutions, and the like. Therefore, in pursuit of my goal it is rational to study politics.
Second. Politics is interesting the way spectator sports are. Now I don't give a flying enchilada about the latter. Politics are my sports. In brief, staying apprised of political crapola is amusing and diverting and also has the salutary effect of reminding me that man is a fallen being incapable of dragging his sorry ass out of the dreck by his own power, or, in Kantian terms, that he is a piece of crooked timber out of which no straight thing ever has been or ever will be made.
Third. Knowledge of current events in the political sphere can prove useful when it comes to protecting oneself and one's family. Knowledge of the Obaminations of the current administration, for example, allows one to to plan and prepare.
It is also worth pointing out that while political ignorance is for many if not most citizens rational, that it not to say that it is good.
Note finally that if it is not rational for most of us to acquire and maintain the political knowledge necessary to vote wisely, election after election, that is not to say that it is not rational for most of us to vote. For one can vote the way most people do, foolishly. Consider those voters who vote a straight Democrat ticket, election after election. That takes little time and no thought and may well be more rational than not voting at all. Let's say you are a welfare recipient or a member of a teacher's union or an ambulance chaser. And let's assume you are voting in a local election. Then it might be in your interest, though it would not be for the common good, to vote a straight Dem ticket. It might well be rational given that no effort is involved.
There are those who love to expose and mock the astonishing political ignorance of Americans. According to a 2006 survey, only 42% of Americans could name the three branches of government. But here is an interesting question worth exploring:
Is it not entirely rational to ignore events over which one has no control and withdraw into one's private life where one does exercise control and can do some good?
I can vote, but my thoughtful vote counts for next-to-nothing in most elections, especially when it is cancelled out by the vote of some thoughtless and uninformed idiot. I can blog, but on a good day I will reach only a couple thousand readers worldwide and none of them are policy makers. (I did have some influence once on a Delta airline pilot who made a run for a seat in the House of Representatives.) I can attend meetings, make monetary contributions, write letters to senators and representatives, but is this a good use of precious time and resources? I think Ilya Somin has it right:
. . . political ignorance is actually rational for most of the public, including most smart people. If your only reason to follow politics is to be a better voter, that turns out not be much of a reason at all. That is because there is very little chance that your vote will actually make a difference to the outcome of an election (about 1 in 60 million in a presidential race, for example). For most of us, it is rational to devote very little time to learning about politics, and instead focus on other activities that are more interesting or more likely to be useful.
Is it rational for me to stay informed? Yes, because of my intellectual eros, my strong desire to understand the world and what goes on in it. The philosopher is out to understand the world; if he is smart he will have no illusions about changing it, pace Marx's 11th Thesis on Feuerbach.
Another reason for people like me to stay informed is to be able to anticipate what is coming down the pike and prepare so as to protect myself and my stoa, my citadel, and the tools of my trade. For example, my awareness of Obama's fiscal irresponsibility is necessary if I am to make wise decisions as to how much of my money I should invest in precious metals and other hard assets. Being able to anticipate Obaminations re: 'gun control' will allow me to buy what I need while it is still to be had. 'Lead' can prove to be useful for the protection of gold. And so on.
In brief, a reason to stay apprised of current events is not so that I can influence or change them, but to be in a position so that they don't influence of change me.
A third reason to keep an eye on the passing scene, and one mentioned by Somin, is that one might follow politics the way some follow sports. Getting hot and bothered over the minutiae of baseball and the performance of your favorite team won't affect the outcome of any games, but it is a source of great pleasure to the sports enthusiast. I myself don't give a damn about spectator sports. Politics are my sports. So that is a third reason for me to stay on top of what's happening.
All this having been said and properly appreciated, one must nevertheless keep things in perspective by bearing in mind Henry David Thoreau's beautiful admonition:
Read not The Times; read the eternities!
For this world is a vanishing quantity whose pomps, inanities, Obaminations and what-not will soon pass into the bosom of nonbeing. And you with it.
To understand what Hamas is all about, one has to turn to historian Jeffrey Herf’s important article about the organization. Based on a close reading of the Hamas charter, Herf shows that its aims and its ideology and philosophy are “rooted in the totalitarianism and radical anti-Semitism that has undergirded Islamism since its rise in the 1930s and 1940s.” This truth, he correctly writes, is one “unnoticed by reporters, editors, and pundits who race to comment on Hamas’ war with Israel.”
The organization, which has not refuted its charter, acts today in accordance with the goals enunciated in its 1988 “Covenant.” Most people and journalists know that the document calls for the elimination of the Jewish state, and the establishment of an Islamist society in its place. But their understanding stops with that alone. What Herf shows is that Hamas, unlike the Fatah of Mahmoud Abbas, directly says that their aim is to eliminate not only Israel, but all Jews as well. And that aim is a religious one that is based on their belief in what the Koran says. Herf explains:
It promises to remake the world in the name of Islam, which, it regrets, has been wrongly driven from public life. This is its slogan: “Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, and the Koran is its constitution: Jihad is the path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.” This celebration of martyrdom and death had been a key theme in Hassan al-Banna’s writings and subsequently became a commonplace for Islamists.
Anyone who believes Hamas’ claim that all religions would live peacefully on an equal basis under Islamist rule are more than naïve; they are deluded. Moreover, Hamas specifically refuses to accept any two-state solution, which they explain is against their basic religious beliefs. Unlike previous Arab movements, once allied with the former Soviet Union and friendly to Marxism-Leninism, Hamas instead gives up that ideology completely. In its place they have consciously adopted what Herf – who is a historian of Germany — writes is “the classic anti-Semitic tropes of Nazism and European fascism, which the Islamists had absorbed when they collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.” Hamas’ charter puts its views of the Jews and the Zionists in these words:
With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money, they formed secret societies, such as Freemason, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there.
This theory is in fact taken directly from Nazi Germany’s wartime propaganda. Unlike those who oppose Israel by arguing that it is a pawn of American imperialism, Hamas reverses that and claims that it is Israel that controls the United States, since it is the all-powerful Jews who are responsible for the plight in which the citizens of Gaza and the Arab world find themselves in. It was the Jews, they argue, that were behind and were responsible for both World War I and World War II, from which they greatly enriched themselves. Finally, it is not the Arab world that is seeking to destroy Israel and push it into the sea, but Israel that seeks to destroy each Arab nation one by one.
Once you know what Hamas stands for, you can gain the clarity one needs to understand why Israel must be supported fully by the United States, and maintain the strength it has so that Hamas can eventually be defeated.
In the current fight, Hamas has used the destruction of Gaza and the death and devastation created by using its civilian population as an effective tool to create sympathizers who see only the human suffering, and not Hamas’ cynical use of the people they supposedly represent as pawns whose position can be used to create antipathy for Israel.
If Hamas is to be defeated and delegitimized, first what it stands for and what its leaders believe have to be clearly understood.
Although Sam Harris is out of his depth on philosophical topics, and wrong about religion, he talks sense on politics and is courageously blunt about the threat to civilization of radical Islam. Hats off to Harris! Excerpts with emphases and comments added:
One of the most galling things for outside observers about the current war in Gaza is the disproportionate loss of life on the Palestinian side. This doesn’t make a lot of moral sense. Israel built bomb shelters to protect its citizens. The Palestinians built tunnels through which they could carry out terror attacks and kidnap Israelis. Should Israel be blamed for successfully protecting its population in a defensive war? I don’t think so.
[. . .]
But there is no way to look at the images coming out Gaza—especially of infants and toddlers riddled by shrapnel—and think that this is anything other than a monstrous evil. Insofar as the Israelis are the agents of this evil, it seems impossible to support them. And there is no question that the Palestinians have suffered terribly for decades under the occupation. This is where most critics of Israel appear to be stuck. They see these images, and they blame Israel for killing and maiming babies. They see the occupation, and they blame Israel for making Gaza a prison camp. I would argue that this is a kind of moral illusion, borne of a failure to look at the actual causes of this conflict, as well as of a failure to understand the intentions of the people on either side of it.
BV: Harris ought to have pointed out that nine years ago, in 2005, Israel withdrew all of its settlements and military from Gaza. In what sense, then, is Gaza under occupation? True, Israel kept control of the borders, sea-lanes and air space, but if they didn't, Hamas could import even more rockets and other armaments. Even much of the cement that should have been used for peaceful purposes has been diverted into tunnel construction.
[. . .]
The truth is that there is an obvious, undeniable, and hugely consequential moral difference between Israel and her enemies. The Israelis are surrounded by people who have explicitly genocidal intentions towards them. The charter of Hamas is explicitly genocidal. It looks forward to a time, based on Koranic prophesy, when the earth itself will cry out for Jewish blood, where the trees and the stones will say “O Muslim, there’s a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him.” This is a political document. We are talking about a government that was voted into power by a majority of Palestinians.
Might does not make right, but neither does impotence or relative weakness. That weakness does not justify strikes me as an important principle, but I have never seen it articulated. The Left tends to assume the opposite. They tend to assume that mightlessness makes right. I'll dub this the Converse Callicles Principle.
The power I have to kill you does not morally justify my killing you. In a slogan: Ability does not imply permissibility. My ability to kill, rape, pillage and plunder does not confer moral justification on my doing these things. But if you attack me with deadly force and I reply with deadly force of greater magnitude, your relative weakness does not supply one iota of moral justification for your attack, nor does it subtract one iota of moral justification from my defensive response. If I am justified in using deadly force against you as aggressor, then the fact that my deadly force is greater than yours does not (a) diminish my justification in employing deadly force, nor does it (b) confer any justification on your aggression.
Suppose a knife-wielding thug commits a home invasion and attacks a man and his family. The man grabs a semi-automatic pistol and manages to plant several rounds in the assailant, killing him. It would surely be absurd to argue that the disparity in lethality of the weapons involved diminishes the right of the pater familias to defend himself and his family. Weakness does not justify.
The principle that weakness does not justify can be applied to the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict from the summer of 2006 as well as to the current Israeli defensive operations against the terrorist entity, Hamas. The principle ought to be borne in mind when one hears leftists, those knee-jerk supporters of any and every 'underdog,' start spouting off about 'asymmetry of power' and 'disproportionality.' Impotence and incompetence are not virtues, nor do they confer moral justification or high moral status, any more than they confer the opposite.
The principle that mightlessness makes right seems to be one of the cardinal tenets of the Left. It is operative in the present furor over the enforcement of reasonable immigration laws in Arizona. To the south of the USA lies crime-ridden, corrupt, impoverished Mexico. For millions and millions it is a place to escape from. The USA, the most successful nation of all time, is the place to escape to. But how does this disparity in wealth, success, and overall quality of life justify the violation of the reasonable laws and the rule of law that are a good part of the reason for the disparity of wealth, success, and overall quality of life?
I feel it to be my duty to do my bit, day by day, to counteract the tsunami of liberal-left Unsinn from the crapweasels of PC by linking to outstanding writers and thinkers. There is no way I can write with the authority of a Victor Davis Hanson or a Thomas Sowell or a Charles Krauthammer on history or economics or politics. But I can help spread the word.
Your post on why the left “went ballistic” over the Hobby Lobby case was well-done as usual, and I for one was grateful for your emphasis that the so-called contraceptives in question were really abortifacients, and that the latter is not a proper adjective for the former. I do have a couple of questions/comments though.
First, about the left and religion. While I don’t like the politics or the theology of people like Jim Wallis of Sojourners or the President’s former pastor Jeremiah Wright, it certainly seems that they are really religious and their politics flow from their faiths. I’m inclined to say that they have a mistaken anthropology and overvalue one understanding of justice at the expense of other legitimate senses, but wouldn’t say that they’re not really religious or that their true religion is leftism. (Well, maybe if I knew more about Wright’s theology I would say that about him. But I don’t believe that all lefties who claim to be Christians are just faking it and make a god out of the state and/or left-wing politics.)
Second, the statement that “they don't have the right to use the coercive power of the state to force others to pay for them when the contraceptives in question violate the religious beliefs of those who are forced to pay for them” seems to be overdrawn, at least if it’s generalized. If a Jehovah’s Witness owns a business, does he have the right to refuse to pay for an employee’s insurance when it pays for a blood transfusion? What about a pacifist being forced to pay taxes to support a war effort (especially one that doesn’t involve direct national self-defense)? There are all sorts of things we’re forced to pay for even though they violate our moral and religious beliefs, and while we can sometimes successfully fight those challenges (when, e.g., it poses an “undue burden”) there are other times when we must knuckle under unless we wish to engage in civil disobedience.
Maybe I will get to the first objection later.
Here is a very blunt response to the second. If you are opposed on moral grounds to blood transfusions, then you hold a position that is not morally or intellectually respectable. Therefore, IF the government has the right to force employers to provide health insurance that covers blood transfusions for employees, THEN it has the right to violate the beliefs of a Jehovah's Witness when it comes to blood transfusions. And the same goes for pacifism. If pacifism is the view that it is always and everywhere wrong to kill or otherwise harm human beings, then I say you hold a view that is not morally or intellectually respectable. I could argue this out at great length, but not now; I told you I was going to be blunt.
Note, however, that the blood transfusion case as described by Monokroussos is importantly different from the pacifism case. The first case arises only if something like the PPACA -- ObamaCare -- is in effect . I say the bill should never have been enacted. Government has no right to force private enterprises to provide any health insurance at all to their employees, and no right to force workers to buy health insurance, and no right to specify what will and will not be covered in any health insurance plan that employers provide for their employees.
The pacifism case is much more difficult because it arises not from a dubious law but from the coercive nature of government. I believe that government is practically necessary and that government that governs a wide territory wherein live very diverse types of people must be coercive to do its job. Moreover, I assume, though I cannot prove, that coercive government is morally justified and has the moral right to force people to do some things whether or not they want to do them and whether or not they morally approve of doing them. Paying taxes is an example. Suppose you have a pacifist who withholds that portion of his taxes that goes to the support of what is perhaps euphemistically called 'defense.' Then I say the government is morally justified in taking action against the pacifist.
But if the government has the right to force the pacifist to violate his sincerely held moral principles, why is it not right for the government to force the pro-lifer to violate her sincerely held principles? The short and blunt answer is that pacifism is intellectually indefensible while the pro-life position is eminently intellectually defensible. But the pro-choice pacifists won't agree!
Clearly, there are two extremes we must avoid:
E1. If the government may force a citizen to violate (act contrary to) one of his beliefs, then it it may force a citizen to violate any of his beliefs.
E2. The government may not force a citizen to violate any of his beliefs.
The problem, which may well be insoluble, is to find a principled way to navigate between these extremes. But what common principles do we share at this late date in the decline of the West?
Perhaps we can agree on this: the government may legitimately force you to violate your belief if your belief is that infidels are to be put to the sword, but it may not legitimately force you to violate your belief if your belief is that infanticide and involuntary euthanasia are wrong. (Suppose the government demands that all severely retarded children be killed.) But even here there will be dissenting voices. Believe it or not, there are those who argue from the supposed moral acceptability of abortion to the moral acceptability of infanticide. May the Lord have mercy on us.
So what's the solution? The solution is limited government, federalism, and an immigration policy that does not allow people into the country with wildly differing values and moral codes. For example, the Hobby Lobby case would not have come up at all if government kept out of the health care business.
The bigger the government, the more to fight over. But we don't seem to have the will to shrink the government to its legitimate constitutionally-based functions. So expect things to get worse.
Rather than being what it began as, a “narrowly political strategy for living peacefully in a world of inexorably clashing comprehensive views of reality and the human good,” liberalism has for many become that comprehensive view of reality and the human good. Your neighbor’s ideas are no longer different. They are heretical. Liberalism could become the problem that it was intended to solve.
Could I present liberal-left ideas in such a way that the reader could not tell that I was not a liberal? Let me take a stab at this with respect to a few 'hot' topics. This won't be easy. I will have to present liberal-left ideas as plausible while avoiding all mention of their flaws. And all this without sarcasm, parody, or irony. What follows is just shoot-from-the-hip, bloggity-blog stuff. Each of these subheadings could be expanded into a separate essay. And of course there are many more subheadings that could be added. But who has time?
Abortion. We liberals believe that a women's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy is a very important right that must be upheld. We are not pro abortion but pro choice, believing that decisions concerning a woman's reproductive health are ultimately her decisions, in consultation with physicians and family members and clergy, but are not the business of lawmakers and politicians. Every woman has a right to do what she wants with her body and its contents. While we respect those who oppose abortion on religious grounds, these grounds are of a merely private nature and cannot be made the basis of public policy. Religious people do not have the right to impose their views on the rest of us using the coercive power of the state.
Voting Rights. We liberals can take pride in the role our predecessors played in the struggle for universal suffrage. Let us not forget that until the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution on 18 August 1920, women were not allowed to vote. We liberals seek to preserve and deepen the progress that has been made. For this reason we oppose voter identification laws that have the effect of disenfranchising American citizens by disproportionately burdening young voters, people of color, the elderly , low-income families, and people with disabilities.
Gun Control. We live in a society awash in gun violence. While we respect the Second Amendment and the rights of hunters and sport shooters, we also believe in reasonable regulations such as a ban on all assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Marriage. We liberals believe in equality and oppose discrimination in all its forms, whether on the basis of race, national origin, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. For this reason we support marriage equality and same-sex marriage. Opposition to same-sex marriage is discriminatory. As we become more enlightened and shed ancient superstitions, we extend the realm of freedom and equality to include more and more of the hitherto persecuted and marginalized. The recognition of same-sex marriage is but one more step toward a truly inclusive and egalitarian society.
Taxation and Wealth Redistribution. We liberals want justice for all. Now justice is fairness, and fairness requires equality. We therefore maintain that a legitimate function of government is wealth redistribution to reduce economic inequality.
Size and Scope of Government. As liberals we believe in robust and energetic government. Government has a major role to play in the promotion of the common good. It is not the people's adversary, but their benefactor. The government is not a power opposed to us; the government is us. It should provide for the welfare of all of us. Its legitimate functions cannot be restricted to the protection of life, liberty, and property (Locke) or to the securing of the negative rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (Jefferson). Nor can it be restricted to the securing of these and a few others: people have positive rights and it is a legitimate function of government to ensure that people received the goods and services to which they have a positive right.
Health and Human Services. A decent society takes care of its members and provides for their welfare. The provision of welfare cannot be left to such institutions of civil society as private charities. It is a legitimate state function. People have positive rights to food, water, shelter, clothing, and health services. These rights generate in those capable of satisfying them the duty to provide the things in question. It is therefore a legitimate function of government to make sure that people get what they need.
Capital Punishment. We liberals are enlightened and progressive people. Now as humankind has progressed morally, there has been a corresponding progress in penology. The cruel and unusual punishments of the past have been outlawed. The outlawing of capital punishment is but one more step in the direction of progress and humanity and indeed the final step in implementing the Eight Amendment's proscription of "cruel and unusual punishments." There is no moral justification for capital punishment when life in prison without the possibility of parole is available.
The Role of Religion. As liberals, we are tolerant. We respect the First Amendment right of religious people to a "free exercise" of their various religions. But religious beliefs and practices and symbols and documents are private matters that ought to be kept out of the public square. When a justice of the peace, for example, posts a copy of the Ten Commandments, the provenience of which is the Old Testament, in his chambers or in his court, he violates the separation of church and state.
Immigration. We are a nation of immigrants. As liberals we embrace immigration: it enriches us and contributes to diversity. We therefore oppose the nativist and xenophobic immigration policies of conservatives while also condemning the hypocrisy of those who oppose immigration when their own ancestors came here from elsewhere.
It is hard for many of us to understand why so many leftists have worked themselves up into a frothing frenzy over the 5-4 SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision, a frenzy that in the notable cases of Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton has spilled over into shameless lying. But even among those lefties who are not lying about the decision, and who understand what it was and just how narrow and circumscribed it was, there are those who are still going nuts over it. Why?
The upshot of the decision was that closely-held, for-profit companies such as Hobby Lobby may not be coerced by the government into providing exactly four, count 'em, four, abortion-inducing contraceptives for its employees in violation of the religious beliefs of the proprietors of the company. That's it!
(Parenthetical Terminological Observation: There is an interesting terminological question here that perhaps only philosophers could get excited over, namely: how can a substance or device that destroys a fertilized egg, a conceptus, be legitimately referred to as contraceptive? A genuine contraceptive device, such as a diaphragm, prevents conception, prevents the coming into being of a conceptus. Contraception comes too late once there is a fertilized ovum on the scene. 'Abortifacient contraceptive' is a contradictio in adjecto. Call me a pedant if you like, but what you call pedantry, I call precision. One ought to insist on precision in these matters if one is serious and intellectually honest.)
My question again: why the liberal-left frenzy over such a narrow and reasonable Supreme Court decision, one that did not involve the interpretation of the Constitution, but the mere construction of a statute, i.e., the interpretation of an existing law? (And of course, the decision did not first introduce the notion that corporations may be viewed as persons!)
1. The first point is that ". . . while the religious right views religion as a fundamental, and indeed essential, part of the human experience, the secular left views it as something more like a hobby, so for them it’s as if a major administrative rule was struck down because it unduly burdened model-train enthusiasts."
First a quibble. It is not correct to imply that it is only the religious right that views religion as an essential component of human experience; almost all conservatives do, religious and nonreligious. I gave an example the other day of the distinguished Australian philosopher David M. Armstrong who, while an atheist and a naturalist, had the greatest respect for religion and considered it an essential part of human experience.
Well, could religion be reasonably viewed as a hobby? Obviously not. It cuts too deep. Religion addresses the ultimate questions, the questions as to why we exist, what we exist for, and how we ought to live. It purports to provide meaning to an otherwise meaningless existence. Religions make total claims on the lives of their adherents, and those who take their religion seriously apply it to every aspect of their lives: it is not something that can be hived off from the rest of one's life like a hobby.
It is because of this total claim that religions make to provide ultimate understanding, meaning, and directives for action that puts it at odds with the totalizing and the fully totalitarian state. The ever-expanding, all-controlling centralized state will brook no competitors when it comes to the provision of the worldview that will guide and structure our lives. This is why hostility to religion is inscribed into the very essence of the Left. In fact, I would go so far as to say that there cannot really be a religious Left: those on the Left who are 'religious' live as if leftism is their real religion.
I would reformulate McArdle's first point as follows. The Left has no understanding of religion and no appreciation of it. They see it as a tissue of superstitions and prejudices that contributes nothing to human flourishing. They want it suppressed, or else marginalized: driven from the public square into the realm of the merely private.
That the SCOTUS majority took religion seriously is therefore part of what drives leftists crazy.
2. McArdle's second point has to do with negative and positive rights and the role of the state. A positive right is a right to be provided with something, and a negative right is a right to not having something taken away. Thus my right to life is a negative right, a right that generates in others the duty to refrain from killing me among other things. The right to free speech is also a negative right: it induces in the government the duty not to prevent me from publishing my thoughts on this weblog, say. But I have no positive right to be provided with the equipment necessary to publish a weblog. I have the negative right to acquire such equipment, but not the positive right to have it provided for me by any person or by the state.
Now suppose you think that people have the positive right to health care or health care insurance and that this includes the right to be provided with abortifacients or even with abortions. Then the crunch comes inevitably. There is no positive right to an abortion, we conservatives say, and besides, abortion is a grave moral evil. If the state forces corporations like Hobby Lobby to provide abortions or abortifacients, then it violates the considered moral views of conservatives. It forces them to to support what they consider to be a grave moral evil.
People have the legal right to buy and use the contraceptives they want. But they don't have the right to use the coercive power of the state to force others to pay for them when the contraceptives in question violate the religious beliefs of those who are forced to pay for them. To a conservative that is obvious.
But it riles up lefties who hold that (i) religion is a purely private matter that must be kept private; (ii) there is a positive right to health care; (iii) abortion is purely a matter of a woman's reproductive health.
3. McArdle's third point has to do with the Left's destruction of civil society. I would put it like this. The Left aims to eliminate the buffering elements of civil society lying between the naked individual and the state. These elements include the family, private charities, businesses, service organizations and voluntary associations of all kinds. As they wither away, the state assumes more of their jobs. The state can wear the monstrous aspect of Leviathan or that of the benevolent nanny whose multiple tits are so many spigots supplying panem et circenses to the increasingly less self-reliant masses. To cite just one example, the Obama administration promotes ever-increasing food stamp dependency to citizens and illegal aliens alike under the mendacious SNAP acronym thereby disincentivizing relief and charitable efforts at the local level while further straining an already strapped Federal treasury. A trifecta of stupidity and corruption, if you will: the infantilizing of the populace who now needs federal help in feeding itself; the fiscal irresponsibility of adding to the national debt; the assault on the institutions of civil society out of naked lust for ever more centralized power in the hands of the Dems, the left wing party. (Not that the Repubs are conservative.)
From the foregoing one can see just how deep the culture war goes. It is a struggle over the nature of religion, its role in human flourishing, and its place in society. It is a battle over the nature of rights. It is a war over the size and scope and role of government, the limits if any on state power, and the state's relation to the individual and to the institutions of civil society.
In one sense, Alan Dershowitz was right to refer to the Hobby Lobby decision as "monumentally insignificant." In another sense wrong: the furor over it lays bare the deep philosophical conflicts that divide us.