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Tag Archive: Conservatism

Not so much a cultural revolution, as it is a mop-up job

Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2013 (8:45 pm), by John W Gillis


Thanks to a link provided by Operation Rescue Boston’s Bill Cotter in a recent newsletter email, I recently came across an article by John Jalsevac at LifeSiteNews.com, which I consider the most insightful piece of short literature I have read on the cultural phenomenon of gay marriage, recognizing not only the problem the concept presents, but also acknowledging the very thin grounds modern (i.e. liberalized) “conservatives” have to stand on in resisting the expansion of the modern notion of marriage to include gays:

But an honest look at the cultural landscape raises the question of just how much is left to defend. The statistics suggest that social conservatives may be brandishing their scimitars not in defense of a robust institution suddenly threatened by a new and hostile cultural force, but rather the smoking ruins of an institution long ago surrendered and abandoned as lost. The Sexual Revolution of the 60s, and what a friend of mine calls the subsequent “hell of the Divorce Tsunami” of the 70s, have already swept this Thing That We Used to Call Marriage out to sea, leaving us clinging to the bobbing flotsam and jetsam.

By this point the statistics are so familiar that they have ceased to be shocking. And yet the numbers ought to shock us. Right now, some sixty percent of couples cohabit before marriage; nearly half of all marriages end in divorce; a record number of Americans aren’t bothering to get married in the first place, and those that do get married are getting married ever later; 41 percent of all children are born out of wedlock; 35 percent of children live in single-parent homes; only 61 percent of children under 18 live with their biological parents; and the birth rate has now dipped below the replacement level, as couples are having fewer and fewer, or sometimes no children at all.

So much for marriage being “life-long,” “exclusive” and child-oriented! Well then, what do we have left? Only the final third of our definition of traditional marriage: that marriage should be between one man and one woman. From the perspective of the gay rights movement, getting rid of this final scrap of our definition is not so much a cultural revolution, as it is a mop-up job. The revolution already happened. Now it’s simply a question of tying up the loose ends.

And they are not wrong.

Jalsevac insists that what is being defended against the encroachment of homosexuality is not marriage in any historically meaningful sense, but a liberal institution he calls New Marriage, which is little more than the corpse of that institution upon which civilization has been built. He is absolutely correct.

Liberalism – understood in its older sense, and not something that began in the 1960s or late 19th century – has had as its aim the destruction/replacement of two fundamental institutions: the Church, and the family. In fact, I think one could reduce its aim to the singular goal of the destruction/replacement of fatherhood (i.e. patriarchy). On the family/marriage front, the main battle was lost about fifty years ago. I barely know anyone who understands marriage as anything that even closely resembles the reality that formed human culture.

Were it not for the working of grace in my life, I don’t think I would be able to understand what the difference is. But there is a difference – a momentous difference – and the truth, however elusive, must be pursued, embraced, and proclaimed. I recommend following the link to the entire article.

Initial Thoughts on Reactions to Fast & Furious and Obamacare Developments

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012 (11:48 pm), by John W Gillis


Very interesting day in the political world, with the Supreme Court handing down its judgment on Obamacare, and Congress finding Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress for his evasive shenanigans trying to cover up the background to the “Fast & Furious” program – the first sitting US Attorney General to receive such an honor. How now to prosecute him becomes quite a conundrum, since the department he runs is responsible for such prosecutions, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Neither finding is very surprising to me (the first admittedly more than the next, however). But I find the behavior around the situations fascinating – and pretty much irrational. For starters, the big topic of conversation in the news space and blogosphere has been the Obamacare decision. Now, I’m not surprised by that in the least, and there are even some very good reasons for it (such as the fact that the contempt vote happened late in the afternoon, in contrast to the SCOTUS decision, which was read shortly after 10:00 AM).

Then there are the blatantly partisan motivations to factor in. For example, The Boston Globe’s boston.com site had a Breaking News!!! alert at the top of their page as soon as the Obamacare finding was released, where the story has remained all day – now complete with “analysis” of how “Obama scores win”. Well, not so fast, but I’m getting ahead of myself again. In contrast, news of the Holder verdict took the better part of an hour to show up at all, and was presented as a small, second-rate story, which at this point late in the evening – though still amazingly on the home page – has slid down below not only about a dozen and a half Obamacare story links, but half a dozen links (plus embedded video) concerning the Boston Celtics’ draft picks, and a story about US Rep John F. Tierney’s brother-in-law calling him a liar. At least it still ranks above the MBTA reversing a commuter rail surcharge decision. It’s just hard not to picture cowardly ideological snake oil salesmen (propagandists) laying out the pages of that august publication.

But the truth is that the Holder story is a much bigger deal. Despite the incessant protestations of the professional leftists that the contempt vote was politically or even (may God heal their shriveled little souls) racially motivated, this criminally insane operation Holder is trying to hide the origins of is a very big deal. If this ends up being traced back to Obama himself, which is looking more and more likely every time the stakes are raised and Holder doesn’t buckle, it will be Obama’s Watergate – especially if any evidence surfaces that it was even partially motivated by a cynical desire to advance the left’s agenda of opposition to gun ownership by citizens. A good man is dead, and the entire republic is not stupid enough to get buried under a dump truck full of liberal smokescreens about a “botched operation” that actually went pretty much according to plan, even if the corpses were not supposed to include border patrol officers.

The self-proclaimed Most Transparent Administration Evah is going to have to release those documents they’re hiding to Congress, or risk a serious constitutional crisis. The only real question will be whether they are damaging enough to sink Obama’s presidency (and, needless to say, his reelection chances). Fast & Furious (or Gunwalker, as I first heard it called last year) might turn out to be the one thing schoolchildren know about Barack Obama 100 years from now (or more likely the only thing besides the fact that he was the first black president of the USA, a fact which will eventually be the answer to a trivia question). That would be a shame, because he has done so many other things to advance the cause of statism against the commonweal of human freedom and lawfulness, and those lessons should be learned and not forgotten.

On the contrary, the SCOTUS decision this morning, despite all the public hoopla, was really pretty much a non-event in terms of the ACA act itself. I’m not saying important decisions weren’t made, but everything remains pretty much the way it was yesterday, except that the Feds don’t have the power to punish non-conforming states by withholding Medicaid funds under Obamacare, and Commerce Clause activism has been legally circumscribed in a manner that departs significantly from the court’s trajectory over the past several decades. The first change very well might (further) doom the program fiscally, and the second establishes a much-needed, critical restraint on the cancerous spread of federal statism on the whole. Not insignificant points, either, but hardly fodder for naïve leftist victory dancing, or for anti-leftist tirades against Chief Justice Roberts for his “betrayal” of conservatism (which, of course, completely misses the point of his or SCOTUS’ role as constitutional referee). While I admit that it would have been easier if the whole law were shot down by the court, and that legislative repeal is likely to be difficult and at best partially successful, the fact is that Obama is going to have to carry this “tax” law with him as a political albatross through November, while Mitt Romney can stand on the side and say: “If you want to get rid of Obamacare, you have to get rid of Obama”. Sometimes the easiest answer is not the best.

Time permitting, I will try to take up these SCOTUS decision reactions in more detail later on, because I do find them fascinating, and almost universally wrong-headed in just about every conceivable way.

“The family is at the center of Santorum’s economic vision”

Posted: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 (11:39 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Wednesday, January 4th, 2012:

James Pethokoukis writing earlier today at the American Enterprise Institute’s Enterprise Blog, in an article called: Santorum vs. Romney is a conflict of conservative visions:

I don’t think Santorum believes tax reform is unimportant. True, throughout his Iowa campaign, Santorum has, in the words of David Brooks, been “picking fights” with supply-siders. Yet Santorum wants to sharply cut tax rates on labor income, capital income, and corporate profits.

Nor does Santorum think cutting the size of government is unimportant. He says he would cut federal spending by $5 trillion within five years and implement Representative Paul Ryan’s entitlement reforms. That’s a pretty Tea Party-friendly agenda.

All necessary but not sufficient for Santorum. He isn’t satisfied with an economy that’s more efficient and competitive if it doesn’t result in stronger families. As it says on his campaign website: “Rick Santorum believes that to have a strong national economy, we must have strong families.” The family is at the center of Santorum’s economic vision. GDP growth is a means, not an end.

Pethokoukis is absolutely right about the difference between the two competing economic visions on the so-called right of our nation’s political divide (so-called because they share a revulsion for the politics and ideology of the left), and it is one major reason why I am supporting Rick Santorum.

Making common cause against leftism does not make either flank of the opposition “right wing”, nor does it make them jointly conservative. A conservative vision of society is not one rooted in the liberal idea of the dog-eat-dog free marketplace of autonomous individualism, but one rooted in love, duty, and prudence. The conservative idea of society is an organic unity, flowing out from intimate interpersonal union, and nourished by virtue and wisdom (i.e. tradition) at each step along the way: from marriage to children to family to community to culture. Some form of this idea has been the stabilizing force in all the world’s great cultures.

The Republican Party reflects a smorgasbord of actors and ideas conservative, liberal, and libertarian. That’s OK – there’s nothing wrong with coalition politics, though it’s a little dangerous to principle when too many people naively or stubbornly insist there is an alignment on values. There is not. There is also much that could be said concerning the affinity between libertarianism’s misappropriation of the term “conservative” and the relentless linguistic manipulation that notoriously characterizes leftist efforts at obfuscation and agitprop, but this is neither the time nor the place to pursue that…

Someone’s set of values will prevail in this election cycle, and in Santorum, Republicans and their enablers have an opportunity to propose an economic vision that rejects the “creative destruction” so central to libertarianism for a sober humanism, one which also rejects both the irresponsible fiscal libertinism of “moderate” modern-day liberalism, and the criminal imbecility of socialism and state-sponsored redistributionism.

Santorum is right: GDP growth is a means, not the end; the end is human flourishing in freedom.

Government serves best when it protects and safeguards—rather than crowds out—the poverty-fighting institutions of civil society

Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2011 (10:00 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Thursday, May 5th, 2011:

Ryan Messmore, writing at the Heritage Foundation website, on the ruse that a social and political order disciplined by a commitment to limited government is to be equated with an antipathy for the poor:

The goal of overcoming poverty is not simply to eliminate need, but to enable people to thrive—that is, to empower them to live meaningful lives and contribute to society. Thriving is much more than a full stomach and a place to sleep. People tend to flourish in the context of healthy relationships with their families and communities. Suffering and breakdown often result when those relationships are absent or unhealthy.

Efforts to fight poverty are more effective if they tend to the full range of relationships necessary for thriving. Successful approaches not only heal brokenness where it exists, but also strengthen healthy relationships, which make poverty unlikely in the first place. Preventing a problem is often more effective in the long run than continually treating the symptoms.

Calls for increased welfare spending frequently miss the deeper problem: Poverty in America is often more the result of multiple broken relationships in peoples’ lives than the result of a lack of material resources. Financial trouble is often a symptom of a deeper breakdown. Whether a father abandoning his children, a broken marriage turning a spouse to drugs, or a teenage boy looking for acceptance in a gang, poverty and social breakdown often stem from people relating wrongly to someone or something. These broken lives resulting from broken relationships often lead to material hardship.

Effective responses to poverty address the relational dynamics that lead people to drug addiction, depression, fear, violence, and the inability to keep a job. Yet a large bureaucratic government is ill equipped to address precisely these dynamics and relationships.

Hope, trust, friendship, accountability, discipline, encouragement, and healthy personal relationships are key ingredients of human well-being. When they are missing or ruptured, the result may be poverty, delinquency, or social breakdown. Civil society institutions that foster face-to-face interaction best cultivate these ingredients of human flourishing. Poverty-reduction efforts should therefore strengthen those spheres of society in which healthy relationships grow.

When considering the role of government in alleviating poverty, public policy should acknowledge the relational nature of poverty as well as the vital contributions from local, personal institutions. Government is an important piece of a larger framework that benefits people in need, but government serves best when it protects and safeguards—rather than crowds out—the poverty-fighting institutions of civil society.

This essay demonstrates some clear thinking on a perennially important topic, but like most “conservative” views promoting what used to be called the liberal order of public life, it reads much too much like a report, and not enough like a manifesto. Still, it’s a fairly solid presentation of an idea that is going to have to be nurtured into an effective story, if America is going to avoid the slide into moral anarchy that is pounding on the doors of those European societies awash now in entitlementism coupled with fiscal insolvency. How on earth, after all, does a society deal with a constantly growing underclass of perpetually unemployed or underemployed state-dependent subjects, who expect (and have been promised) a never-ending stream of bread & circus? The domination of society by the bureaucratic state is such a profoundly stupid idea that it is difficult to even find untrammeled ground upon which to stand to criticize it

Via First Thoughts

– Update: with some discussion here, demonstrating yet again just how pervasive assumptions regarding the “normalcy” of state-dependency have quietly become.

Free Speech and the Peaceful Public Order

Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 (11:19 pm), by John W Gillis


I arrived home from my sister Mary’s funeral Saturday evening, and saw that Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and several other people had been shot during some kind of meet-and-greet in her congressional district. I’d never heard of Giffords, but was discouraged that such a thing would happen – it’s hard enough just given our political process to get good people to run for public office, and it was of course a terrible tragedy for the people involved. It seemed to me that it had been a long time since something like that had happened.

As I read the AP story published on Boston.com, I began to get increasingly uncomfortable as the report progressively shifted from providing information about the tragedy and background on the people involved, to inserting accusatory innuendo aimed at various opponents of the Democrat Party and overall leftist political agenda: repeatedly finding a way to mention Sarah Palin by name in a setting suggestive of her being a menace to the lives of her political opponents; dredging up a reminder of a man who once threatened Nancy Pelosi over the telephone; dropping in a reference about a mad gunman from California the article tied to “conservatives” while simultaneously reporting that he wanted to “start a revolution” (note to moronic left-wing journalists: conservatives, by definition, are anti-revolutionary); pointing out that Giffords’ TEA Party-backed Republican opponent this past fall had fired a gun at a rally during the campaign; and suggesting in less-than-subtle language that this tragedy should be interpreted as the culminating denouement of “a highly charged political environment” that had hitherto not “reached the point of actual violence.”

I was, needless to say, dripping with disgust at the sleaziness of the journalism by the time I finished the story. Even the sketchy details in the earliest stories were enough to make it obvious that this was the handiwork of a deranged idiot, not an attempted political assassination. But the willingness of the leftist journalist class (and I quickly discerned that several other “mainstream” propaganda channels had picked up essentially the same meme) to immediately exploit the tragedy as an opportunity to try to score political points was just truly revealing – and infuriating.

Over the next several days, as we all know, we have seen an avalanche of contemptible opportunism from the leftists, as they’ve tried not only to pin the blame for the violence on the usual opposition scapegoats (Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, talk radio in general…), but have taken to self-reporting a mysterious hubbub of “concern” over “inflammatory political rhetoric:” an ailment that quite obviously knows no medicine except the silencing of such opposition.

And this new ethic of “civility” is being trumpeted by even some of the most screwball partisans in the leftist media! Even Keith Olbermann is in on the act! Keith Olbermann! This is the man who, on his April 23rd, 2008 “Countdown” show, back when Hilary Clinton was an opponent to Barack Obama for the Democrat nomination for U.S. President, and therefore a legitimate target for leftist bile under the ethics of the revolutionary order, wished on the air for “somebody who can take her into a room, and only he comes out," this on account of the "negativity, for which she is mostly responsible."

Negativity? Gee, sound familiar? This despicable clown all but called for someone to snuff Clinton out in order to save the narrative of the left’s favorite candidate from criticism, and the other left-wing loonies in the so-called “mainstream media” largely yawned and looked the other way. Three years later, he’s in the vanguard of a reactionary assault force intent on suppressing criticism of the leftist agenda by exploiting a personal and national tragedy to call for political speech censorship – or “an end to inflammatory rhetoric.” Priceless. You couldn’t sell fiction this corny.

The history of the leftists, from the Jacobins to the Bolsheviks to the Olbermanns, routinely resorts to characterizing criticism as “extremism” or “reactionaryism” in an attempt to marginalize and suppress it – a useful tactic when you can’t win the intellectual battle, and are stuck trying to sell a bagful of lies. Not only is this chicanery in and of itself, but in the American context, it is thoroughly disrespectful of the reality of what this country has managed to nurture as its political life.

Admittedly, being called a racist, or some other clever form of ”hater,” simply for opposing a puerile and idiotic political agenda, is frustrating (not to mention mendacious on the part of the accusers). On the other hand, for some reason, left-leaning people in this country resent being called socialists simply for trying to advance socialist ideas. And for some other reason, libertarians often want to be called conservatives, even though about the only thing they want to conserve is their bankrolls (and, I suppose, the U.S. Constitution, which is ironically an archetypical document of liberalism).

So while, yes, there are fissures in the political fabric of our society, they are fissures that run only from philosophy to rhetoric – and branding, or marketing. Political violence in the U.S. is virtually unheard of – unlike so many places in the world. Why is the media fixating on the Giffords shooting while giving short attention to those who died in the shooting – including a U.S. District Court Justice and a nine year-old? It may very well be in part because Giffords is a Democrat (the judge, on the other hand, was a G.H.W. Bush appointee), therefore facilitating the propagation of the above discussed agitprop, but I suspect is has more to do with the fact that elected officials are so rarely targeted for violence in the U.S. Even looking more broadly, I can’t recall any political violence in the U.S. in about 40 years, save a couple of abortionists who were assassinated in retribution for their death-dealing. People like Hinckley (and Loughner) are  lunatics, not partisans.

The idea of “overheated political rhetoric” fomenting violence in the USA is absurd – and worse than absurd: it is a dangerous threat to the country’s ability to retain the relatively peaceful political climate we enjoy. The left would like to suppress dissent, but that cannot be allowed to happen. The liberals who formed this country were so much wiser than their unfortunate French cousins precisely because they understood the value of political moderation, and the value of allowing political opposition secure standing.

Some of the people being lambasted by the leftists today for their “inflammatory rhetoric” do indeed go over the top sometimes, and the Ed Schultzes and Keith Olbermanns on the left are even worse; and we’d all be better off if political discourse was always more polite and more thoughtful; but that’s not the important point at all.

Our institution of free speech is crucially important to maintaining not just an environment ripe for good intellectual discourse, but, more importantly, the very requirement of a peaceful public order that is capable of solving its political differences at the ballot box, regardless of how much yelling and screaming precedes it. Only a fool would fail to recognize what a good that political freedom truly is for society.

Those Pesky Babies Are Threatening to Get In the Way, Again

Posted: Friday, December 10, 2010 (10:35 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Friday, December 10th, 2010:

Indiana Governor, and prospective 2012 Republican Presidential candidate, Mitch Daniels, on the propriety of the Indiana state legislature advancing some pro-life legislation:

“As long as it doesn’t get in the way of the really crucial (objectives) — keeping Indiana in the black, improving our economy and bringing big reform to things like education. As long as it doesn’t get in the way of that, there’s plenty of time and capacity.”

I rolled my eyes and felt discouraged when Daniels made a comment several months ago proposing a “truce” on social issues in order to focus on economic matters. My eyes aren’t rolling anymore, and I’m now not so much discouraged as disgusted. This is a man who truly doesn’t get it.

Men like this are often more of a threat to the commonweal than those who openly embrace those most horrific of misanthropic practices and policies, because he clearly views the human being through the same sterile lens of instrumentality, but masks it behind a smokescreen of conservative (read: bourgeois) respectability.

I’m OK with people like Mitch Daniels holding public office, as long as they stay in the background, and don’t get in the way of the really important work of securing a just public order.

What Liberal Bias?

Posted: Monday, November 15, 2010 (9:43 pm), by John W Gillis


I saw something on TV last night that was just too funny to pass up. When I got home from teaching CCD, my wife had the TV on, watching a nice 60 Minutes character piece on an Afghan vet who is being awarded the Medal of Honor, and I milled around to watch it. Then Andy Rooney came on.

Rooney started complaining about a recent Gallup poll showing pretty broad dissatisfaction with President Obama and his performance. Rooney contrarily said he had gone and asked nine of his friends what they thought, and they all thought Obama was doing a terrific job. Well, duh! I have no doubt that if Rooney had spent an entire afternoon polling his friends and co-workers, he would have had a hard time coming up with anyone dissatisfied with Obama – except for those perhaps who think Obama has been too much of a middling moderate! “They polled 90, 000 people!”, he crowed: “Where do they find these people?”

I was just a little bit too stung by this man’s naivety to laugh out loud. If someone had hired an actor to portray the stereotype of mainstream media figures as a collection of smug, condescending liberals, living a secluded existence completely out of touch with the American people, he couldn’t have done better than Rooney did.

The point is not whether Rooney and his nine friends, or the 90,000 Americans, are better judges of Obama’s presidency. The point is how funny it is that a guy like Rooney apparently genuinely has no idea how much farther to the left the insular world of liberal “opinion” institutions is from mainstream America.

How is this ignorance cultivated? How about, for an example, we take Ted Koppel’s musings the same day on the sad demise of the nobly objective media institution his rose-colored way-back glasses remember from back in the day – like, you know, the days when Koppel held court and people listened. The three-step formula? Find someone else even more egregiously leftist to serve as one punching bag (MSNBC fits the bill nicely here). Then, to serve as the main punching bag, find someone who seems quite out of place in the whole media mix because they’re not particularly leftist at all (this is the FOX News role, since they’re not leftist – though they are pretty libertarian, which is something of a cross between being a liberal and being a tightwad, but that’s what passes for “conservatism” in a lot of circles today). Finally, declare yourself a centrist, or “normal,” or the only ones without an accent, etc.

But back to philosopher number one: the final punch line has to be Rooney insisting that there just must be something wrong with polls that reflect views so contrary to the prevailing view within the hallways of places like CBS. “They never ask me what I think,” he huffs.

So then, why do you keep telling us, Andy?

Slander as Political Fashion

Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2009 (11:57 pm), by John W Gillis


Boy, am I growing weary of the political environment. What George W Bush did for for international relations with his “with us or against us” rhetoric, Barack Obama is doing to the political climate within the country with his treatment of political dissent. Of course, nations actually do operate in an environment of mutual belligerence, which is forever flaring up as actual warfare in some corner or another, whereas nations are supposed to operate, internally, with a civility stemming from civitas, but why split hairs?

Perhaps it’s unfair to blame Obama for the whole mess, but then again, it’s not. He’s the unquestioned leader of the ruling left wing in this country, with the power and ability to set the tone, and he sits back and watches the fissure. Whether that’s because of incompetence, or because he senses political advantage in it, I’ll let the reader judge – we’ll assume he doesn’t enjoy it for its own sake. He may pose as someone seeking unity (show me a politician that doesn’t!), but in the real world, he uses and approves actions and tactics that reveal a very different kind of leader.

So, we have Rep. Joe Wilson being censured by the House for blurting out “You lie!” during an Obama campaign speech before the joint Houses. Can we call it that? Maybe an infomercial? No, he didn’t pay for it. I think “policy address” is the official term – I’m not sure – but whatever it’s called, it was nothing but a powerful man using the bully pulpit available to him to advance his agenda. Nothing wrong with that, but why is it being treated as if it were some kind of sacred religious service?

It’s kind of creepy, really, the way the setting is being portrayed in the public propaganda narrative. I will admit that, for a few seconds, I felt like I was watching British Parliament instead of the U.S. Congress, but the “sacred” halls of American power were built for the rough and tumble of modern liberal politics, not for the circumspect adulation of Divinely appointed royalty that the whole liberal enterprise set out to overthrow. And, like many, I don’t remember a previous occupant of the Pennsylvania Avenue throne whom the public propaganda narrative depicted as deserving of such circumspect adulation. Creepy, I tell you…

But I think what bothers me the most about the whole affair is that Wilson is being accused of introducing incivility into the proceedings. What a load of crap. Undoubtedly, Wilson was absolutely fuming over just having been called a liar in front of both Houses of Congress, on national TV, by the President. Obama set the tone from his pulpit, and Wilson fired back in defiance from the cheap seats. It had been only perhaps 15 seconds before Wilson’s outburst that Obama had accused opponents of his, who included “prominent politicians” (and while speaking to the joint Congress, it’s pretty tough to misconstrue that reference), of lying about the implications of his proposed end-of-life panels of experts: “It is a lie, plain and simple” he stated baldly. Even I was dumbfounded at the time that he would say such a thing, and I’m not even a radio or cable talk show host, nor a prominent politician.

So we see yet again that we reap what we sow. But who is even talking about Obama’s incivility, his tactics of divisiveness and marginalization, or his responsibility for setting the tone of discourse at the level of personal insult? Incredibly, Teflon Barak just accepts Wilson’s apology, and sits back while Wilson gets savaged by Obama’s supporters, even to the point of being slandered as a racist for his outburst. Incredible.

At least there’s people like Scott Harrington over at the Wall Street Journal uncovering the dishonesty of Obama’s characterization of the examples he uses in his demonization of the insurance carriers. All that really seems to matter here to the President is that people’s contempt for, and distrust of, the insurance companies is fed and enforced. President “Hope, Not Fear” is willing to fudge the facts in order to scare people into thinking they need to buy his socialist snake oil to protect them from the ogres of the business world. Disgusting. Disgraceful. And depressing.

Meanwhile, the left wing picks up this theme of the “racist” calumny, which has been, at a minimum, simmering in the pot since the election cycle, and which has ever since been pulled out, time and again, to smear Obama’s opponents, and they bring it to an absolute boil. It’s not just effete TV celebrities and fatuous journalists slinging the slander now, but high-level political leadership among the left wing, including former president Carter, Rep. Steve Cohen, Rep. Hank Johnson, and undoubtedly many more I could find if I wanted to waste my time Googling for the info.

Suddenly, the air is ablaze with insinuations that opposition to Obama’s policies involves “elements of racism.” The verbal trick here is to morph the idea that racists are opposed to Obama into the idea that people who are opposed to Obama are racists. The trick is made all the more clever by feigning subtlety by referring to “elements.” If racists are opposed to Obama, them some of the opposition to Obama is racially motivated, therefore opposition to Obama is at least partially racially motivated. Hence, the implication is clear: If you are opposed to Obama, you are part of the partially racist opposition, and therefore you are (at least) partially racist. Not that opposition to his agenda has anything to do with his person anyway, but there I go splitting hairs again, and getting off-narrative.

This is shameful, of course – and sinful – to be slandering people with the “racist” label as a means of trying to advance a political agenda. This is so regardless of how corrupt the political agenda is: even a noble cause is irreparably defiled by ignoble tactics. But aren’t such tactics the very warp and woof of progressive political argumentation? It angers me – as it is angering an increasing number of people – to be called a racist for being a political dissenter (as I snicker at the thought of what these same snide and cynical folks would have had to say about my support for Alan Keyes’ presidential bid in 2000), but in a sense, it’s just the typical fare that is served up for dissenters from the orthodoxy of progressivism. There’s just an assumption at work that if you reject the progressive orthodoxy, you have bad motives.

It’s not because you think the programs are bad, it’s not because you think you have a better idea, it’s not even because you’re mistaken, it’s because of your bad motives. Hence, if you oppose so-called liberal (socialist, really) policies concerning the welfare of the poor, it’s obviously because you hate the poor. It’s not possible that you think those policies will actually be bad for the poor, you just hate the poor. Case closed. “Hate” is a very important word in the lexicon of the left – it explains just about all dissent. How clever.

But this “racism” game is going to run aground before long. There are too many people seeing through the facile “solutions” of the left – and especially of the salesman-in-chief. That means there are increasing numbers of people who are going to be uneasy – if not outright offended – by the mean-spiritedness of the chimerical “racism” slander, and they’re going to push back.

Suddenly, Nancy Pelosi is fretting about the right wing stirring up a frenzy of violent opposition (shades of “right wing terror threats” in the form of returning Iraq veterans!), but she couldn’t be more wrong. People get violent when they’re angry, and the Rush Limbaughs of the world don’t get people angry (except liberals, that is). What gets people angry – angry enough to fight – is being insulted, having their character and integrity questioned.

Whatever anger is out there on the right is not there because of political activism or talk-radio manipulation, it’s there because these are good people, who are good neighbors, who love their country, and who are fed up with being told they are “haters” of one stripe or another simply because they retain some semblance of conservative moral and/or fiscal values. Nancy Pelosi is too much the stooge of her ideology to see that, but I think Barack Obama is politically astute enough to recognize it. When the violence comes, it won’t come from the right, from those folks “clinging to their guns and religion” who place so much importance on law and right public order, and I think Obama knows that too. What I don’t know is whether or not he thinks he can survive politically without ratcheting down the “hate” speech. I suspect that will depend on what happens over the next few months with his health insurance takeover plan. We shall see.

McCain/Palin ’08? I Can Live With That

Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2008 (11:44 am), by John W Gillis


Sarah Palin? Even if I had known who she was, I don’t think I would have seen that coming. I had been hearing the whispers of Tom Ridge and Joe Lieberman as possibilities, and saw how McCain’s logic might have steered him toward them. He’s never really been conservative, and has always been ready to play the maverick, and I could see how he might consider the constituency-broadening appeal of a pro-choice running mate. I hate to say it, but I don’t think the prospect of a pro-choice VP would have concerned McCain. And it would have built bridges into new voting constituencies that would have made him very hard to beat this year.

Of course, the social conservatives would have been furious, but what could they do? They still would have voted for McCain (this year) – the alternative would be an Obama presidency (enough said). I could really see McCain doing this – it seemed like a move that would be right down his alley. It would have worked in 2008, but very possibly could have fractured the Republican base for years to come. It would have marked a potential parting of ways of the pro-life movement and the Republican party – a marriage that is more circumstantial that intrinsic to Republicanism, anyway.

I think there are a lot of Republicans who would like to be rid of true conservatism – much of what they consider the kooky religious right of the party – in order to pursue unmitigated Republicanism – which is really good old fashioned liberalism, as confusing as that may be to moderns who don’t have a grasp of European history over the last, say, 350 years. Some might argue that Libertarianism already offers that option – which is a pretty good argument, but I think most modern Republicans are looking for a greater level of social conservatism than Libertarianism embraces, even those who could do without the religious framework.

Anyway, so I got to wondering whether the Republican party or the pro-life movement (and traditionalism in general) would fare worse in such a split, if it were to turn radical. I wondered if the social conservative movement was coherent enough, apart from the Republican party, to pull together a political force that could compete for serious political office in this country. I’m not sure it is, but I do think such a scenario would have provided an opportunity to put a political platform together that was not so beholden to economic liberalism as the Republican party is. The idea that the corporate consequence of unmitigated personal greed and self-interest will somehow produce the common good is a rather idolatrous proposal, after all. I also wondered if it might provide an opportunity for the “religious right” to divest itself of the statism particular to political conservatism, which tends toward slavish subservience in the face of any form of state-sponsored violence, and seems incapable of honest, objective evaluations of judgment criteria such as just war theory.

So I saw a potential opportunity for social conservatism in the U.S. to cleanse itself of some dubious bedmates. More specifically, I saw a potential opportunity for the development of a political force that was rooted in Christian values that cut across the lines of modern liberalism and conservatism.

Since I know more than a few of them – including some very dear to me – I often wonder what it would take to get Christians out of the Democratic party, with its unabashed commitment to the destruction of innocent human life, its open hostility to marriage and the family, and its infatuation with using state power to achieve its ends – in a nutshell: with its relentless misanthropy. Honestly, I don’t know what it would take, because they usually think they are taking the moral high ground themselves, standing up for the little guy (as long as the guys aren’t too little I suppose, but we won’t go there, since many of these folks try very hard not to think about that much). Still, to offer them a political alternative that was not wedded to economic Darwinism might be enough to open the eyes of many of them to the innate misanthropy of the Democratic platform.

But all this may have been wishful thinking. It’s entirely possible that a Republican party divorced from its Christian conscience would only join forces with the Democrats in fostering a more and more radically progressive and intolerant form of political liberalism, hostile to any kind of religious values in the public square, and effectively outlawing Christianity as anything more than a privately held neurosis. Given the political vibrancy of the “values” constituency in the U.S., this might seem far-fetched, but one doesn’t need to look far to see its manifestations in countries not too different from the U.S. Making the outrageous claim that marriage is a covenantal bond between a man and a woman just might get you hauled before a Human Rights Commission on hate crime charges in Canada, and convincing a pregnant woman not to subject her baby to a brutal death in an abortion clinic will now apparently get you two years in prison in Great Britain. It’s a brave new world out there…

All of this is moot now, however – at least for the time being. McCain managed to make the kind of reach-across gesture I imagined him doing, but he did it without courting the pro-abortion vote. In fact, in picking a mother of a Down’s Syndrome baby, he picked the anti-Obama, a woman who could be the poster model for true human decency, respect, and dignity. You don’t build a bright new future by killing it one baby at a time, Mr. Obama. I don’t know much about Governor Palin yet, but I really like what I’ve seen so far, and I think this may have been a master stroke of political genius by McCain – a man I didn’t really expect that from. Before she’s done, Sarah Palin may be the first woman president of the United States. I can sure think of worse fates.