Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Today's Moral Test for Libertarians

So, apparently the verminous Julian Assange is telling people he considers himself a libertarian in some ways, and that he leaks classified government information to make free markets better informed and work better. I wonder how many libertarians will buy that line, and how many will have the decency to distance themselves from Assange.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Surprise! Gay Republican Lobby Wants Social Conservatives to Shut Up

Last week, Jim DeMint fired a shot on behalf of social conservatism, and this week, gay Republican group GOProud is counterattacking with a press release speaking for "a group of Tea Party leaders and activists"who urge "Republicans in Congress to avoid social issues and focus instead on issues of economic freedom and individual liberty":
On behalf of limited government conservatives everywhere we write to urge you and your colleagues in Washington to put forward a legislative agenda in the next Congress that reflects the principles of the Tea Party movement.

Poll after poll confirms that the Tea Party’s laser focus on issues of economic freedom and limited government resonated with the American people on Election Day. The Tea Party movement galvanized around a desire to return to constitutional government and against excessive spending, taxation and government intrusion into the lives of the American people.

The Tea Party movement is a non-partisan movement, focused on issues of economic freedom and limited government, and a movement that will be as vigilant with a Republican-controlled Congress as we were with a Democratic-controlled Congress.

This election was not a mandate for the Republican Party, nor was it a mandate to act on any social issue, nor should it be interpreted as a political blank check.
But as Joe Carter points out, not only does this letter not speak for the majority of the Tea Party, but its signatories are the ones out of step with the movement:
There are more than 2,300 local Tea Party groups across the nation yet leaders from only 12 of them signed the document [...] They don’t seem to realize that they are out of touch with their own “movement.” A recent survey has shown that nearly half (47 percent) of Tea Party supporters consider themselves to be part of the conservative Christian movement. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Tea Partiers say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, and only eighteen percent support same-sex marriage. Most Tea Partiers are part of the one-legged conservative coalition.
GOProud might not like it, but we belong here every bit as much as (actually, even more than) they do. And you can't really claim to stand for "individual liberty" if you don't recognize that human rights begin in the womb.

GOProud and (a tiny sliver of) the Tea Party continue:
Already, there are Washington insiders and special interest groups that hope to co-opt the Tea Party’s message and use it to push their own agenda – particularly as it relates to social issues. We are disappointed but not surprised by this development. We recognize the importance of values but believe strongly that those values should be taught by families and our houses of worship and not legislated from Washington, D.C.

We urge you to stay focused on the issues that got you and your colleagues elected and to resist the urge to run down any social issue rabbit holes in order to appease the special interests.

The Tea Party movement is not going away and we intend to continue to hold Washington accountable.
The rhetoric about "special interest groups" ought to raise major red flags. It's clearly meant to demean organizations who take seriously the right to life, protecting marriage, and religious liberty, by defining them as somehow beneath economic issue and motivated by something less pure. But first, that distinction is utterly arbitrary. All organizations involved in "influencing politics and policy on the federal level" (to use GOProud's self-description) on anything - tax cuts, defense spending, health care, Israel, guns, abortion, marriage, environmental regulations, education, you name it - have an "interest" of some sort, and can just as easily be defined as a "special interest group." Guess what, GOProud? That means you, too.

Second, labeling something a "special interest" is an old insult that dates all the way back to the writings of the early progressives. It's meant to suggest that a position is motivated not by political principles or by a desire for the good of the country, but by either selfishness or devotion to something other than the country. Obviously, this isn't true, for reasons I've explained before (and linked above). Disagreeing with GOProud on something doesn't automatically make our motives impure (nor does it mean their motives are automatically on the level).

And just as obviously, it's not how allies allegedly committed to the same goals treat each other in a healthy coalition. I've long been suspicious of GOProud's true aims and their value to the Right - and this latest arrogant, dishonest attack on those of us who fully and consistently follow the principles of the American Founding only hurts their credibility further.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jim DeMint Is Right: Fiscal Conservatism Needs Social Conservatism


Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is currently the talk of the blogosphere for saying that:
You can’t be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative. A large part of the expansive government is to make up for a dysfunctional society because our culture’s falling apart. The family’s falling apart.
Taken as a statement of fact, DeMint is wrong—obviously, there are many people with conservative economic views but leftist social ones, and vice versa—but if we take the statement in the way I suspect he meant it, as a warning of sorts, DeMint is absolutely right.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the alleged distinction between “social conservatism” and “fiscal conservatism” is an imaginary contradiction based on either misunderstanding or selectively adhering to conservative first principles.  If American conservatism is fidelity to the values and wisdom of the Founding Fathers, then restoring the right to life and preserving civil marriage are every bit as much conservative imperatives as standing for the free market is. In this sense, DeMint is correct: if you truly and fully are a conservative, you’ll be one both fiscally and socially.

Further, DeMint’s absolutely right to warn that social negligence leads to economic and political disaster. As I’ve argued before, many on the Right are largely AWOL on the cultural front, and the results are more than cultural:
A culture that worships gratification (particularly sexual) without responsibility or constraints, that believes truth is personal and relativistic rather than grounded in permanent wisdom, that has been conditioned to expect everyone else to provide for their every need and clean up after their every mistake, that sneers at traditional morality and religious belief…these trends and attitudes cannot help but play into the Left’s hands.

Simply put, a narcissistic, relativistic, secular, ignorant culture will always be receptive to a political movement that promises to give them things paid for with other people’s money, affirms their “if it feels good, do it” mentality, and assures them that supporting statism and “environmental consciousness” are the only forms of morality or compassion they’ll ever really need.
Our Founders believed that, because no set of political mechanisms could fully account for man’s darker impulses, certain moral virtues and institutions, such as marriage, were necessary prerequisites for maintaining a free society. And the right to life’s importance is even clearer:
If we surrender on abortion, we might as well kiss goodbye the free market, or any chance of reforming the welfare state. Once society has accepted the proposition, I may take an innocent life if it benefits me to do so, why should we think twice about taking from our countrymen anything less vital—income, personal freedom, you name it—for the sake of interest? The rights to go without health insurance or allow smoking in your restaurant pale in comparison to the right not to be deliberately killed.  Surrender the right to life, and you’ve already as good as surrendered the others.
It’s not a coincidence that the more fiscally conservative a senator is, the more likely he is to be socially conservative as well. Conservatism is in desperate need of reunification, and Jim DeMint’s comments are a good start.

(Also see: Tim Andrews, “The Importance of Social Conservatism,” and Beregond, “Legislating Morality,” courtesy of the NRB Headlines)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why Shameless Ron Paul Apologist Wesley Messamore Isn't Worth My Time


Last month, I wrote a NewsRealBlog post summarizing the case against Ron Paul. A Paul disciple named Wesley Messamore attempted to refute it at the Young Americans for Liberty blog. I responded in another NRB post, demonstrating that Wesley’s screed consisted almost entirely of dishonesty, misdirection, and simply ignoring information that was too inconvenient.

Curious to see how our apologist friend's reaction, I gave him the link a couple weeks ago. No reply. Several days later, I wondered aloud if Wes was unwilling or unable to defend his conduct, to which he politely responded:
I'm a little jammed up presently with the election (timed perfectly to coincide with some other heavy lifting I'm doing for my non-political, commercial enterprises)... give me some time and I'll respond. Or if you're up for it, I propose we set up a debate to stream live.
Fair enough; we all have real lives beyond the blogosphere. I’d be happy to give him some time, but I wasn’t terribly interested in a live debate, given a) that my schedule is fairly “jammed up” as well, and b) the caliber of his arguments thus far made me doubt such a debate would be worth the time and effort. For politeness’s sake, I replied with the former explanation, and told him to take his time on a blog response. Simple, right?

Wrong.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Anyone Else Hear Crickets Chirping?

October 12: I destroy David Frum's credibility.

October 13: Frum lapdog John Guardiano shills for his boss some more.

October 16: Guardiano claims he's going to respond.

November 4: No response yet.

Confirmed: Another FrumForum hack has no credibility.
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