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.
Here. Kelly utterly demolishes Pelosi's shameless fabrications.
That the Left lies repeatedly and blatantly and shamelessly about matters that are easily checked says something about them. Among other things, it says that they view politics as war. "All's fair in love and war." "The end justifies the means." Truth is not a value for the Left unless it serves their agenda. You have to understand that. It is the agenda that matters, the things to be done. "The philosophers have variously interpreted the world, but the point is to change it." (Karl Marx, 11th Thesis on Feuerbach, my emphasis.) And they think they know what sorts of change are truly ameliorative. But that is precisely what they do not know, and why Obama and his crew are proving to be a disaster both for the country and for the world.
And that the mainstream media does not call the Left on its lies shows that they have abdicated their journalistic responsibilities. They are in the tank for their man. But that may change somewhat as Obama exposes more and more of his incompetence and lawlessness. I don't reckon that Chris Mathews and the rest of the Obama shills over at MSNBC are getting quite the same thrill 'up the leg' as they did back in 2008.
Left-wing bias at the NYT is nothing new, of course, but the following opening paragraph of a July 8th editorial is particularly egregious. But before I quote it, let me say that the problem is not that the editors have a point of view or even that it is a liberal-left point of view. The problem is their seeming inability, or rather unwillingness, to present a matter of controversy in a fair way. Here is the opening paragraph of Hobby Lobby's Disturbing Sequel:
The Supreme Court violated principles of religious liberty and women’s rights in last week’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, which allowed owners of closely held, for-profit corporations (most companies in America) to impose their religious beliefs on workers by refusing to provide contraception coverage for employees with no co-pay, as required by the Affordable Care Act. But for the court’s male justices, it didn’t seem to go far enough.
This is a good example of the sort of Orwellian mendacity we have come to expect from the Obama administration and its supporters in the mainstream media. War is peace. Slavery is freedom. A defense of religious liberty is a violation of religious liberty. Those who protest being forced by the government to violate their consciences and religious beliefs are imposing their religious beliefs. The Orwellian template: X, which is not Y, is Y.
Every statement in the opening paragraph of the NYT editorial is a lie. The 5-4 SCOTUS decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby defended principles of religious liberty. It did not violate any women's rights. Neither the right to an abortion nor the right to purchase any form of contraception were affected by the decision. The ACA mandate to provide contraceptives was not overturned but merely restricted so that Hobby Lobby would not be forced to provide four abortifacient contraceptives.
I won't say anything about the ridiculous insinuation in the last sentence, except that arguments don't have testicles.
Truth is not a value for the Left. Winning is what counts, by any means. They see politics as war, which is why they feel justified in their mendacity.
The quite narrow question the Supreme Court had to decide was whether closely held, for-profit corporations are persons under the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act . "RFRA states that “[the] Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.”3 (Ibid.)
If Hobby Lobby is forced by the government to provide abortifacients to its employees, and Hobby Lobby is a person in the eyes of the law, then the government's Affordable Care Act mandate is in violation of the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act. For it would substantially burden Hobby Lobby's proprietors' exercise of religion if they were forced to violate their own consciences by providing the means of what they believe to be murder to their employees. So the precise question that had to be decided was whether Hobby Lobby is a person in the eyes of the law. The question was NOT whether corporations are persons in the eyes of the law, as some benighted cmmentators seems to think.
Note also that the issue here is not constitutional but statutory: the issue has solely to do with the interpretation and application of a law, RFRA. As Alan Dershowitz explains (starting at 7:52), it has to do merely with the "construction of a statute."
I started to take the quiz but then quit in disgust after the first two questions.
Here is the first question:
Which of the following statements comes closest to your view?
I would say that both statements are true. That some government regulation is necessary is obviously true. But that many types of regulation makes things worse is also the case, though it is not as obvious. What does it even mean to ask which of these comes closest to my view? The rational thing to do is reject the question as poorly defined.
Here is the second question:
Which of the following statements comes closest to your view?
Hard work and determination are no guarantee of success for most.
Again, both of these statements are true, at least in the USA at the present time. The second statement is obviously true. Success is not guaranteed for anyone. You could be doing everything right and be killed by a drunk driver. In every success there is some element of luck. The first statement is not as clearly true, but it too is true. Again, there is the problem of what 'comes closest' even means. I am a conservative and so you will expect me to plump for the first statement. But the second is one that every sane person must accept. So in one sense of 'closest' the second is closest to my view. In another sense, the first is closest, because it is more characteristic of my view. A near-certainty that everyone must accept on pain of being irrational is not characteristic of any political view. Capiche?
Not all of the question pairs display the faults of the first two. They display others such as false alternative. And a few, I grant, are well-formulated. #20 for example:
Which of the following statements comes closest to your view?
These statements cannot both be true, and there is no false alternative: it must be that one of them is true.
One of the purposes of this site is to combat the stupidity of Political Correctness, a stupidity that in many contemporary liberals, i.e., leftists, is willful and therefore morally censurable. The euphemism 'undocumented worker' is a good example of a PC expression. It does not require great logical acumen to see that 'undocumented worker' and 'illegal alien' are not coextensive expressions. The extension of a term is the class of things to which it applies. In the diagram below, let A be the class of illegal aliens, B the class of undocumented workers, and A^B the intersection of these two classes. All three regions in the diagram are non-empty, which shows that A and B are not coextensive, and so are not the same class. Since A and B are not the same class, 'undocumented worker' and 'illegal alien' do not have the same intension or meaning. Differing in both extension and intension, these expressions are not intersubstitutable.
To see why, note first that there are illegal aliens who are not workers since they are either petty criminals, or members of organizedcriminal gangs e.g., MS-13, some of whose members are illegal aliens, or terrorists, or too young to work, or unable to work. Note second that there are illegal aliens who have documents all right -- forged documents. Note third that there are undocumented workers who are not aliens: there are American citizens who work but without the legally requisite licenses and permits.
So the correct term is 'illegal alien.' It is descriptive and accurate and there is no reason why it should not be used.
Now will this little logical exercise convince a leftist to use language responsibly and stop obfuscating the issue? Of course not. Leftism in some of its forms is willfully embraced reality denial, and in other of its forms is a cognitive aberration, something like a mental illness, in need of therapy rather than refutation. In a longer post I would finesse the point by discussing the cognitive therapy of Stoic and neo-Stoic schools, which does include some logical refutation of unhealthy views and attitudes, but my rough-and-ready point stands: one cannot refute the sick. They need treatment and quarantine and those who go near them should employ appropriate prophylactics.
So why did I bother writing the above? Because there are people who have not yet succumbed to the PC malady and might benefit from a bit of logical prophylaxis. One can hope.
What follows is an old post from about ten years ago worth dusting off in the light of current events. If 'true' admits of degrees, what I say below is truer now than it was then. Just two of several current examples. Barack Obama, the most Left-leaning president in U. S. history, traded Bowe Bergdahl for five of the worst Gitmo terrorists. Was that a prudent thing to do? Only someone who is blind to a clear and present danger could do something so utterly irresponsible. The second example is the Iraq pullout, the effect of which, whether intended or not, is to make the whole region safe for ISIS. Anyone with his head screwed on right would have seen that coming. But not a leftist insensitive to danger. I could go on, the Southern border . . . .
Conservatives take a sober view of human nature. They admit and celebrate the human capacity for good, but cannot bring themselves to ignore the practically limitless human capacity for evil. They cannot dismiss the lessons of history, especially the awful lessons of the 20th century, the lessons of Gulag and Vernichtungslager. They know that evil is not a contingent blemish that can be isolated and removed, but has ineradicable roots reaching deep into human nature. The fantasies of Rousseau and Marx get no grip on them. Conservatives know that it is not the state, or society, or institutions that corrupt human beings, but that it is the logically antecedent corruption of human nature that makes necessary state, social, and institutional controls. The timber of humanity is inherently and irremediably crooked; it was not first warped by state, social, or institutional forces, and cannot be straightened by any modification or elimination of these forces.
I used the word 'know' a couple of times, which may sound tendentious. How do conservatives know that evil is not a contingent blemish, or that human beings are so fundamentally flawed that no human effort can usher in utopia?
They know this from experience. But although experience teaches us what is the case, and what has been the case, does it teach what must be the case? Here the lefties may have wiggle room. They can argue that failure to achieve a perfect society does not conclusively show that a perfect society cannot be achieved. This is true. But repeated failures add up to a strong inductive case. And these failures have been costly indeed. The Communists murdered an estimated 100 million in their social experiments. They did not hesitate to break eggs on a massive scale in quest of an omelet that never materialized. They threw out 'bourgeois' morality, but this did not lead to some higher morality but to utter barbarity.
I would also argue that experience can sometimes teach us what must be the case. We have a posteriori knowledge of the essential (as opposed to accidental) properties of some things. These are tough epistemological questions that I mention here only to set aside.
The main point I want to make is that the Left is insensitive to danger because of its Pollyannish view of human beings as intrinsically good. Leftists tend to downplay serious threats. They are blind to the radical evil in human nature. This attitude is betrayed by their obfuscatory use of the phrase 'Red Scare'to the very real menace the USSR posed to the USA in the 1950's and beyond. It wasn't that conservatives were scared, but that the Soviets were making threats. This is now particularly clear from the Venona decrypts, the Mitrokhin archives, and other sources. I especially recommend reading Ronald Radosh on the Rosenberg case.
The Left's insensitivity to danger is also betrayed by their attitude toward the present Islamo-terrorist threat. They just can't seem to take it seriously, as witness their incessant complaining about the dangers to civil liberties after the 9/11/01 attacks. There is something deeply perverse about their attitude. They must realize that a liberty worth wanting requires security as a precondition. See my Liberty and Security for an exfoliation of this idea. But if they grasp this, why the unreasonable and excessive harping on individual liberties in a time of national peril? Don't they understand that theliberties we all cherish are worthless to one who is being crushed beneath a pile of burning rubble? How could Katrina van den Heuvel on C-Span the other day refer to Bush's playing of the 'terror card'? Such talk is border-line delusional.
It is as if they think that conservatives want to curtail civil liberties, and have seized upon the 9/11 attacks to have an excuse to do so. In the lunatic world of the leftist a conservative is a 'fascist' -- to use their favorite term of abuse. This is absurd: it is precisely conservatives who aim to conserve civil liberties, including the politically incorrect ones such as gun rights.
Terrorists and the rogue states that sponsor them pose a very real threat to our security, and this threat must be faced and countered even if it requires a temporary abridgement of certain liberties. Thatis what happens in war time. Leftists ought to admit that it is precisely their insensitivity to the threat posed by such Islamo-terrorists as Osama bin Laden that led to the 9/11 attacks in the first place. If a proper response had been made to the 1993 World Trade Tower attack, the 2001 attack might never have occurred. We were attacked because we were perceived as weak and decadent, and we were perceived as weak and decadent because leftists in the government failed to take seriously the terrorist threat.
It must be realized that liberty without security is worthless. Genuine liberty is liberty within a stable social and political order. I may have the liberty to leave my house any time of the day or night, but such a liberty is meaningless if I get mugged the minute I step out my door. So if the Left were really serious about liberty, it would demand adequate security measures.
As the West slides into the dustbin of history, the philosopher's pleasures are of the owlish sort. The owl of Minerva spreads her wings at dusk, to survey the scene of strife, with an equanimity born of distance, as befits a spectator of all time and existence.
Walter Williams against Slavery Reparations. But is Williams really black? Or is he a traitor to his race? Could anyone be a traitor to his race? Is there any idea so preternaturally dumbassed that leftists won't promulgate it? If I argue against reparations, leftists call me a racist. If a seriously black man like Williams does, he is called an Uncle Tom. That's the Left for you.
I have often pointed out that there is nothing liberal about contemporary 'liberals.' Kim R. Holmes' Intolerance as Illiberalism is well worth your time. Excerpt:
Hard illiberalism, however, is not the only variant. There are “soft” versions too. They often appear “liberal” and even operate inside democratic systems otherwise committed to the rule of law. But their core idea is that liberal democracy and the constitutional rule of law are insufficient to bring about absolute equality.
It is this form of illiberalism that is gaining traction in America today. It comes in many guises and varying degrees of intensity. It is a campus official countenancing “trigger warnings” and speech codes that censor free speech and suppress debate. It is a radio host shouting that he hopes employees of the National Security Agency get cancer and die. It is politicians and government officials who bend the rules, launch investigations, overturn laws, criminalize so-called “hate” speech, and stretch the meaning of the Constitution to impose their views on Americans. It is the mindset of “us versus them” that leads government officials such as New York’s governor to say that there is “no place in the state of New York” for “extreme conservatives”— by which he meant not fringe or violent groups but anyone who opposes abortion or the redefinition of marriage. And it is the idea that constitutional limits, individual rights, and even due process can be ignored in the “greater” cause of creating income equality.
These people have become not merely intolerant but fundamentally illiberal.
Illiberalism is not just about government denying people the right of free expression and equality before the law. It is also about controlling how people think and behave. It is a threat both to our democratic system of government and to the “liberal” political culture.
Congressional investigators are fuming over revelations that the Internal Revenue Service has lost a trove of emails to and from a central figure in the agency's tea party controversy.
The IRS said Lois Lerner's computer crashed in 2011, wiping out an untold number of emails that were being sought by congressional investigators. The investigators want to see all of Lerner's emails from 2009 to 2013 as part of their probe into the way agents handled applications for tax-exempt status by tea party and other conservative groups.
Lerner headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. The IRS acknowledged last year that agents had improperly scrutinized applications by some conservative groups.
Her computer crashed and she lost the e-mail? Mendacity on stilts. Typical Obama administration bullshit. A computer crash does not cause the loss of e-mail: the stuff is stored on the e-mail provider's server. We all know that. One is struck by the chutzpah of these IRS liars. What contempt they have for the people who pay their salaries! See fourth article below.
Go Kirsten! Kirsten Powers has it all: beauty, brains, and the female equivalent of that which I was about to refer to using a word I decided not to use. I think I'm in love. And she stands up to Bill O'Reilly displaying grace under pressure when the pugnacious Irishman becomes obnoxious. She's smarter than O'Reilly and she knows it. Bill does too. But hats off to O'Reilly for giving the young whippersnappers a forum and for speaking truth to power lo these many years. He is an inspiring profile in civil courage.
"Speaking truth to power" is a lefty phrase that we need to co-opt. Leftards use the phrase even when they have power. You see, for a lefty, having power is supposedly bad and so they have to pretend that they don't have it even when they do. It's like money in that respect. They like to posture that they are anti-Establishment when they are the Establishment, and that they are dissenting when they are spouting and toeing the party line. They also think they somehow own dissent as if conservatives are somehow barred by the very meaning of the word from dissenting.
In any case, Miss Powers really hits the nail on the head in her column: Here is some of it and it ought to anger you with a righteous anger:
Don't bother trying to make sense of what beliefs are permitted and which ones will get you strung up in the town square. Our ideological overlords have created a minefield of inconsistency. While criticizing Islam is intolerant, insulting Christianity is sport. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is persona non grata at Brandeis University for attacking the prophet Mohammed. But Richard Dawkins describes the Old Testament God as "a misogynistic … sadomasochistic … malevolent bully" and the mob yawns. Bill Maher calls the same God a "psychotic mass murderer" and there are no boycott demands of the high-profile liberals who traffic his HBO show.
The self-serving capriciousness is crazy. In March, University of California-Santa Barbara women's studies professor Mireille Miller-Young attacked a 16-year-old holding an anti-abortion sign in the campus' "free speech zone" (formerly known as America). Though she was charged with theft, battery and vandalism, Miller-Young remains unrepentant and still has her job. But Mozilla's Brendan Eich gave a private donation to an anti-gay marriage initiative six years ago and was ordered to recant his beliefs. When he wouldn't, he was forced to resign from the company he helped found.
Got that? A college educator with the right opinions can attack a high school student and keep her job. A corporate executive with the wrong opinions loses his for making a campaign donation. Something is very wrong here.
As the mob gleefully destroys people's lives, its members haven't stopped to ask themselves a basic question: What happens when they come for me? If history is any guide, that's how these things usually end.
Image credit. (HT: Bill Keezer) By the way, I am grateful to all my correspondents. Don't take it amiss if I forget to credit you by name. And of course some of you I do not mention by name for your own protection.
If you send me something, but don't want it posted, just say so and I will honor your request. Otherwise, everything you send me is potential blog fodder.
In these "times that try mens' souls" one has to be very careful. But there is also such a thing as civil courage.
I hope you don’t mind my seeking your help on an issue related to the history of philosophy. I and a few friends are have a disagreement re: the origin of belief in divine apatheia.
In Manana: Christian Theology from a Hispanic Perspective, Justo Gonzalez discusses the political motivations behind the origin and development of the concept. His claim is that belief in divine impassibility merely reflects the desire for permanence (of power) on the part of the ruling class so that Athenian politics is responsible for the philosophical development of the belief, a projection onto God of the political aspirations of the elite.
The question of how apatheia got adopted/revised by Christians isn’t so much my concern at this point (as legitimate a question as it is). I’m interested in Gonzalez’s history and whether and to what extent he’s right in supposing apatheia was a projection onto the divine being of the political aspirations for the permanence of the city and its ruling class.
Does that ring true with your understanding? Thoughts?
Well, if it serves my political interests to believe that p, that leaves open the question whether p is true or false. Suppose I am a member of the royal court. Then it would serve my earthly interests if the masses were to believe that the king rules by divine right. But one cannot show that the king does not rule by divine right by showing that the interests of the ruling class are served by that belief's being widespread.
So there are two logically independent questions. Does the holding of a belief serve interests? Is the belief true? To say that the questions are logically independent is to say that both an affirmative and a negative answer to the first is consistent with both an affrmative and a negative answer to the second.
If God exists, then he is either impassible or not. This question cannot be decided by showing, assuming that it could be shown, that widespread belief that God is impassible would help legitimate the dominance of the ruling class. (I am having a hard time imagining how such an abstruse doctrine could get a grip on the popular mind. Does Joe Sixpack think about such things?)
The bolded thesis supra is a 'weasel' thesis. Gonzalez does not state unambiguously that the impassibility doctrine is nothing other than an expression of class interests, and therefore either false or unsupportable by reasons. But that is probably what he means.
If that is what he means, then he is guilty of the logical/epistemological error of confusing the holding of a belief with the propositional content of a belief. It is a concern of the sociology of knowledge to study the incidence of beliefs as states of people, their causes and effects and modes of transmission. But the evaluation of belief contents as to truth, falsehood, consistency, inconsistency, rationality, etc., does not belong to the sociology of knowledge.
There is nothing new about the move Gonzalez appears to be making. It's old hat. It is the standard Marxist rubbish of reducing belief systems to systems of ideology in the service of class interests. But if all is ideology in the service of class interests, then so is the system of Marxist beliefs. In which case it is a self-vitiating system of beliefs if not outright self-refuting.
[Senator Joseph] McCarthy in the 1950s became infamous for smearing his opponents with lurid allegations that he could not prove, while questioning their patriotism. Reid has brought back to the Senate that exact same McCarthy style of six decades ago -- and trumped it.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, Reid libeled candidate Mitt Romney with the unsubstantiated and later-refuted charge that Romney was a tax cheat. "The word's out that he [Romney] hasn't paid any taxes for 10 years," Reid said.
Later, when asked for proof, Reid offered a pathetic rejoinder: "I have had a number of people tell me that." One wonders how many names were on Reid's McCarthyite "tell" list -- were there, as McCarthy used to bluster, 205 names, or perhaps just 57?
When asked again to document the slur, Reid echoed McCarthy perfectly: "The burden should be on him. He's the one I've alleged has not paid any taxes."
Call this the Reid Principle: The maker of scurrilous and unsubstantiated allegations is presumed veracious. The burden of rebutting the charges is borne by the victim of the smear.
Reid's behavior in this and in other cases makes it clear that Democrats see politics as a form of warfare. Conservatives need to wise up.
On Easter Sunday, it is only fitting that the reliably despicable Ross Douthat should once again rise from the dead with an incoherently dreadful column on Piketty. I will not try to summarize it. As Aristotle observed [I think], shit has no form, and hence cannot easily be apprehended by reason. You may read it for yourself. I take Douthat's column as a good sign, a harbinger of Spring. When the rats on the sinking ship of capitalism pause in their scramble down the hawsers to acknowledge the reemergence of Marx from the dustbin of history [how's that for a mixed metaphor?], there is hope on this annual celebration of resurrection.
Note that Wolff does not address the content of Douthat's essay, though he does have the decency to link to it. What he does is portray Douthat as a reliably despicable zombie and rat, a shill for capitalism, who has penned an incoherently dreadful column, a piece of shit beneath the apprehension of reason.
Well thank you Professor Wolff for this wonderful Easter Sunday illustration of the Central Axiom and for reminding us once again of how dangerous you leftists are, and, indirectly, how important our Second Amendment rights are.
Hate speech? That's a term leftists use for speech they don't like. No one in his right mind could see Heidegger's magnum opus, Sein und Zeit (Being and Time), published in 1927, as anything close to hate speech. The claim that it is is beneath refutation. Nor can his lectures and publications after 1933, when Hitler came to power, be dismissed in this way.
Heidegger undoubtedly inspires violent passions: he was a National Socialist, and what is worse, he never admitted he was wrong about his political alignment. But according to Michael Dummett, the great logician Gottlob Frege was an anti-Semite. (Dummett says this in either the preface or the introduction to Frege: The Philosophy of Language. ) Now will you ignore Frege's seminal teachings because of his alleged anti-Semitism? That would be senseless. And let's not forget that the later Jean-Paul Sartre was not just a Commie, but a Stalinist. Should Critique of Dialectical Reason be dismissed as hate speech? Should we deny Sartre the title 'philosopher' and re-classify him as a Commie ideologue? Of course not. And please no double standard. Why is being a Nazi worse than being a Stalinist? Why is murdering people because of their ethnic affiliation worse than murdering people because of their class affiliation?
You have two highly influential philosophers. One aligns himself politically with the mass murderer Hitler, the other with the mass murderer Stalin. That is extremely interesting, and no doubt troubling, but in the end it is truth that we philosophers are after, and in pursuit of it we should leave no stone unturned: we should examine all ideas in order to arrive as closely as we can to the truth. All ideas, no matter what they are, whether they come from a Black Forest ski hut or a Parisian coffee house, or the syphilitic brain of a lonely German philologist. Haul them one and all before the tribunal of Reason and question them in the full light of day. To understand the content of the ideas it may be necessary to examine the men and women behind them. But once a philosopher's propositions have been clearly set forth, the question of their truth or falsity is logically independent of their psychological, or sociological, or other, origin. To think otherwise is to commit the Genetic Fallacy.
Sartre claimed that man has no nature, that "existence precedes essence." He got the idea from Heidegger's Sein und Zeit, p. 42: Das 'Wesen' des Daseins liegt in seiner Existenz. It is an interesting and influential idea. What exactly does it mean? What does it entail? What does it exclude? What considerations can be adduced in support of it? Questions like these are what a real philosopher pursues. He doesn't waste all his time poking into the all-too-human philosopher's dirty laundry in the manner of Faye and Romano. Are people in this Age of Celebrity incapable of focusing on ideas?
And then there is Nietzsche. If the Gesamtausgabe of Heidegger ought to be marked with a skull-and-crossbones, then a fortiori for the Gesammelte Schriften of Nietzsche. There are dangerous ideas in Nietzsche. See my post Nietzsche and National Socialism. Indeed, Nietzsche's ideas are far more dangerous than Heidegger's. Should we burn Nietzsche's books and brand The Antichrist as hate speech? Stupid!
The Nazis burned books and the Roman Catholic Church had an index librorum prohibitorum. Now I don't deny that certain impressionable people need to be protected from certain odious influences. But Heidegger writings are no more 'hate speech' (whatever that is) than Nietzsche's writings are, and they don't belong on any latter-day leftist's index librorum prohibitorum. Are they both philosophers? Of course. Are they on a par with Plato and Kant? Not by a long shot! Are their ideas worth discussing? I should think so: they go wrong in interesting ways. Just like Wittgenstein and many others.
For social and political diary entries from Frege near the end of his life, see here. (HT: Marius Manci) Very interesting.