Welcome to a special post-election/post-apocalypse-themed edition of “Odds and ends.” Sit back and enjoy the ride.
Other nations have their advantages – Korea’s low tax rates have helped her to grow from third-world to top-tier economy in little more than a generation; Canada’s banking system weathered the 2008 recession better than America’s – but there is only one nation in which individual freedom is regarded not as a “system” or a “policy,” but as a pre-political principle, a true foundation. If you share this principle, then America is, at present, your only practical hope for the future of mankind.
In the case of America, the outsider (or new arrival) has another practical advantage – namely, an insight into the subtleties of decayed or extinguished liberty which may be overlooked by those still at an earlier stage of decline. Tocqueville, a Frenchman, saw firsthand how a revolution in the name of liberty and equality can produce an outcome far murkier than the promise implied in its noblest declarations. Thus, even in the obscurest minutiae of his travelogue of the American spirit, one senses the deep, satisfied inhalations of a man finding the fresh air he had spent his young life seeking without avail at home.
It is no accident, for example, that [Mark] Steyn, a Canadian, has been perhaps the strongest, most relentless voice over these past few years on the dangers of ObamaCare. I, too, have returned to health care again and again. To have lived in a socialized medical system is to have witnessed the heart of the stealthy darkness Tocqueville foresaw. Socialized medicine is the demise of individual liberty in the guise of “equal access,” a gluttonous economic shark masked as “affordability,” and a final denial of the dignity of all human life, euphemized as “universal care.”
As we who have lived it can attest, modern socialist oppression does not bring the secret police to your door. The old folks will not be rounded up. Rather, the tax collectors and regulators are at your door – all the time, intractably, until their omnipresence in your pay slips and personal decisions feels so normal that you no longer question the loss of property rights and self-determination, and would even suspect or hate the man who would propose to remove that smothering security blanket.
Treating leftist authoritarianism as one side of the nation’s healthy political debate is by definition a violation of the American founding. Socialism cannot be put into practice to any degree without violating the Declaration’s primary rights and the Constitution’s delineations of the role of government. By allowing leftist policy to metastasize through all branches of the federal government for generations, a large portion of the population – including, sadly, many who see themselves as conservatives – have unwittingly forsaken most of what America, as a philosophical idea, stands for.
The leftist regulatory apparatus is already woven so thoroughly into American life – redefining and delimiting America beyond the reach of the Founding Fathers, let alone of any elected official – that the sturdiest, most clear-eyed Americans of this moment have come to see the election of a new president as merely one small victory in what must be a long, almost unwinnable war. Their perception is accurate.
Now that we’re stuck with President Obama and Obamacare, let’s renew our scorn for chief justice John Roberts. I was flabbergasted by Roberts’ foolish legal “reasoning.” Read Liberty Legal Foundation’s explanation of why it was such a terrible ruling:
The commerce clause was never intended to allow Congress to do anything it wants to do. The Court didn’t overturn Wickard v. Filburn, as we wanted, but it did agree that the individual mandate was beyond Congressional authority under the commerce clause. The Court said that even the Wickard standard doesn’t justify the individual mandate.
Unfortunately the Court then issued completely new and completely unexpected precedent granting Congress authority to enforce any regulation Congress can dream up; as long as enforcement is via a fine collected by the IRS. The Court’s Obamacare ruling blew all tax and spend clause precedent out of the water. It opened a completely new avenue for Congress to assert authority that was explicitly denied to Congress by the Founding Fathers.
Rabbi Aryeh Spero writes:
Is the “I care more” claim a qualification for leadership, or is doing what is right and workable a better formula? Better yet, should we as a country, founded on the unique morality of the Judeo-Christian ethos, knee-jerkily accept a platitude asserting the more we take from Peter to give to Paul the greater is our commitment to caring when, by so doing, we destroy the moral foundation of personal responsibility upon which the Judeo-Christian ethos is built?
History has shown that self-aggrandizing feel-goodism showered top-down from the “caring class” is mere sentiment and falls far short of that which the individual gains through virtue and fulfilling his personal moral obligations. While that which is intrinsically moral uplifts and builds, that which is emoted from feel-good sentiments alone often weakens the individual and results in catastrophic dependency.
I couldn’t believe the final IBD/TIPP poll before the election, favoring Obama by 1.6 percent. I suppressed my incredulity until I saw how tight Virginia and Florida were. I won’t distrust that poll again. It was the most accurate poll in 2004 and 2008.
Watching the returns come in on Fox News, I was pleased by Tucker Carlson’s analysis of the changing electorate. Religious observance is way down, and religious “nones” are way up, he observed. Marriage is on the decline, and single women are ascending. These people break two to one in favor of Democrats.
I know why. Lacking belief in a higher good, nones indiscriminately aspire to nothing more than fleeting personal pleasure. In their world in which anything goes, they see in conservatives, who preach moral restraint, an enemy. As for single women, they are not really single. They are as wedded to the state as “married” women are wedded to their husbands.
I couldn’t find video of Carlson’s analysis Tuesday night, but it’s an argument he has made before.
In line with the Carlson’s point about religious nones, Mark Tooley observes:
Weekly church goers of all churches, who comprised 42 percent of the electorate, supported Romney by 59 to 39 percent. By contrast, more occasional church attenders, comprising 40 percent of voters, supported Obama by 55 to 43 percent. Those who never attend, comprising 17 percent, supported him by 62 to 34 percent. The 12 percent who report no religious affiliation supported Obama by 70 percent to 26 percent.
Dennis Miller offers excellent layman’s analysis of the election:
I like a country where people bust their tookus, and I think this country’s gone a long way towards becoming more of a European model. And I would say, once again, read the book, Amity Shlaes’ book, The Forgotten Man...if you are out there now, making $45,000 a year busting your hump, being away from your family, because it’s in your hard drive to do the right thing...the right thing changed in this country yesterday. You can get close to that from the government.
Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner is optimistic, although I don’t know why. The exit poll data don’t matter if, when it counts, the majority of people ask government to play the largest role in steering their miserable, uninspiring lives.
According to exit polls as described by Politico, “53 percent of those surveyed said the government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals – a figure that’s risen 10 points since the 2008 election. Comparatively, 41 percent of voters said they believe government should be doing more.”
Joseph Farah at World Net Daily copes with the loss this way:
For those of us who fundamentally reject Obama’s policies, things are going to get very rough for the next four years. We have allowed our fellow Americans to pronounce judgment on the nation.
That’s what Obama represents to me – God’s judgment on a people who have turned away from Him and His ways and from everything for which our founders sacrificed their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.
Selwyn Duke writes why conservatives can’t ignore the culture war in making their argument to the electorate:
Fighting in the political arena while losing the culture is like trying to grow beautiful leaves on a tree whose roots are beset with steady rot. Sure, we may win some battles, but they’re merely a rightward movement of deck chairs on a ship steadily drifting left.
How many million illegal immigrants do every day what Mark Basseley Youssef did and don’t get a year in the federal pen? We know Youssef’s real offense: offending Muslims.
Says Afshin Ellian, via Diana West:
If you cannot say that Islam is a backward religion and that Muhammad is a criminal, then you are living in an Islamic country, my friend, because there you also cannot say such things. I may say Christ was a homosexual and Mary was a prostitute, but apparently I should stay off of Muhammad.
Ron Miller writes in “Slavery and the Constitution”:
Slavery was a great evil, to be sure, but the Constitution was neither its source nor its guarantor. Indeed, the rhetoric of the Revolution and the principles of the Constitution both seemed to undermine claims for arbitrary power and the private use of force, which were inherent in the relationship between master and slave. This tension between slavery and the principles of American government was palpable during the Revolutionary era, and denunciations of slavery were commonplace. James Madison, long remembered as the Father of the Constitution, considered chattel slavery to be “the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man,” and Madison expressed his own view during debates at the Constitutional Convention that it would “be wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men.” The influential Virginian (and slaveholder) was not alone in his reticence to name the institution, and it is telling that the word “slavery” never appears in the constitutional text.
Consider, along these lines, Abraham Lincoln’s interpretation of those three main constitutional compromises with slavery. “I understand the contemporaneous history of those times,” Lincoln maintained during his famous 1858 debates with Stephen Douglas, “to be that covert language was used with a purpose, and that purpose was that...when it should be read by intelligent and patriotic men, after the institution of slavery had passed from among us—there should be nothing on the face of the great charter of liberty suggesting that such a thing as negro slavery had ever existed among us.”
Gary DeMar has another take on slavery:
It’s true that many blacks are not slaves to the liberal slave system. They’ve broken free, but this has not stop [sic] many of them from supporting the Democrats and their policies of generational dependency. In effect, they’re contributing to economic slavery among their own people.
Wealth transfer subsidies have led to the immobility of the poor, the breakup of the family, and dependency on government programs. Poor people on government subsidies find it difficult to break free because getting a job will mean a loss of benefits and the payment of more taxes. I spoke with a man who owns several businesses. He tells me that many of the people who work for him only work a certain number of hours per week because if they work one more hour, they’ll lose their benefits. They’re trapped.
There is good news and bad news for backers of marriage equality: the good news is that you’ve won the argument; the bad news is that you might not have needed to spend quite as much money as you did. Gay rights have inertia, not momentum, on their side: the effort it takes to convince someone to oppress someone else has become greater than the effort needed to maintain the status quo. This is civil rights not as the unstoppable force, but the immovable object.
This is the stupid reductionism you get when you see any and all discrimination as bad. The traditional definition of marriage is “oppressive.” So is the driving age, one presumes.
Tom Gilson at First Things critiques a same-sex marriage activist’s dramatic performance linking traditional marriage to anti-miscegenation laws:
What was [his] argument? Apparently it was supposed to be something like this: “Racist white preachers used the Bible to support segregation, which was wrong; therefore conservative Christians who use the Bible today to oppose gay rights today are wrong. Future Christians will be as embarrassed over today’s opposition to gay rights as we are now over the racism in our past.”
But racist preachers (whoever they may have been) didn’t get their teachings from the Bible. To the extent they used the Bible to support racist conclusions, they were twisting it beyond recognition. From early in Genesis, through the ministry of Jesus Christ, even all the way to the end in Revelation, the Bible celebrates and supports the value of “all peoples” (ethné in the Greek, meaning tribes, colors, languages, and nations). There is nothing there that supports racial segregation.
Jim Powell writes in Forbes:
Perhaps Romney’s most critical weakness was his inability to defend American taxpayers from Obama’s relentless class warfare, the moral crusade to drain more and more revenue out of the private sector. Romney appeared helpless when Obama accused him of proposing generous tax cuts! It was embarrassing to see Romney backtrack as if he were guilty of something, saying he wasn’t really cutting taxes — he was just taking away deductions, especially for the rich.
Amidst America’s alarming economic stagnation, Romney failed to champion a program for economic growth via across-the-board tax cuts like Ronald Reagan had done with spectacular success three decades ago. Incredibly, Romney hardly said a word about tax cuts at the Republican National Convention or in his stump speeches.
If the Republican Party cannot defend American taxpayers against endless assaults from the bloated public sector, then what good is it?
Class warfare involves a moral appeal (“fairness”), and it must be met by a moral appeal (liberty).
And we need to explain the philosophical and historical origins of those distinct moral systems. One belongs in the post-Enlightenment Judeo-Christian tradition, the other in secular humanism.
I support the Keystone pipeline, but eminent domain is immoral. Property is a sacred right. One’s right to pursue property must not curtail another right to retain property.
Eminent domain is a touchy topic in Texas. In 2002, Gov. Rick Perry proposed a Trans-Texas Corridor, a private sector network of highways. The main artery would be a 600-mile road running from Mexico to the Red River that would be the width of four football fields. After an outcry about the seizure of private land – and increased traffic from Mexico – the state transportation department killed the idea.
For that reason alone I voted for Carole Keeton Strayhorn (mother of turncoat Scott McClellan) for governor in 2006.
In “A Paradise Built in Hell,” Rebecca Solnit wrote that in disasters, “how you behave depends on whether you think your neighbors or fellow citizens are a greater threat than the havoc wrought by a disaster or a greater good than the property in houses and stores around you.”
We couldn’t turn away from the greater good of these two random human beings that Sandy had introduced to us – this woman, her hair thin on her head, worry on her face, or this man, hobbling around on his cane, telling us what to keep and what to pitch in his thick Italian accent. Plaster puppy statue – keep. Wicker bench – pitch. Painted plates – keep.
I looked around at my husband and our three dear friends, Brooklyn creatives all covered in mud, faces obscured by hospital masks, shoveling densely matted drywall in heaps on the driveway into a wheelbarrow, wordlessly.
The physicality, immediacy, and selflessness – not heroism, but literally the disappearance of the self – was dignifying.
They said that we could come back a year from now and all raise a glass together. It was their way of saying thanks. I smiled and told them that I looked forward to it, even as I knew that it would never happen.
But that’s okay. It was never about that.
Brent Dean at Red Pill Report explains how communities are supposed to respond to disaster:
When examining the help from private entities and citizens, the response time is shorter and is actually helpful. Glenn Beck’s charity organization MercuryOne.org was the first to arrive in New York to give out food and water. They beat out FEMA and the RedCross. They targeted churches to distribute the aid. Why? Because churches are part of the communities. They are affected just like the family down the street, and they know where aid is needed and can get it there immediately.
In light of the rise of the nones and the fact that we now live in a secularistocracy, it’s debatable whether local churches really are part of the devastated communities in New York and New Jersey.
I find the energy to carry on from scum like Martin Bashir: “For once, hate lost.”
Let’s review the fundamental principles again. One cannot plunge the country into astronomical debt without there being a financial come-to-Jesus reckoning. One cannot tempt aggression with weakness. One cannot tax one’s way to prosperity. One cannot build a behemoth federal government and expect the country to prosper. One cannot, as Mark Levin puts it, not understand the “interconnection of liberty, free markets, religion, tradition and authority” – and not pay a price for that lack of understanding.
White, brown, black, yellow, red, male, female, gay, straight, young, old, near-sighted or far-sighted, athlete or couch potato – to one and all, forever and ever the laws of gravity both physical and political will apply eternally. And to the extent these laws are willfully ignored there will be a price to be paid. History is chock full of stories of people and whole countries getting hurt by ignoring the political laws of gravity as surely as if they were ignoring the physical laws of gravity. They may have been convinced they could make that leap unscathed from the political Empire State Building – but they always, always, always found out otherwise. And they found out the hard way.
At the Washington Post Chris Cillizza handicaps the 2016 presidential race. My own prediction is Marco Rubio and Martin O’Malley will win the Republican and Democratic nominations, respectively.
O’Malley was my governor for 5 years. Federal bloat keeps his welfare state flush with cash. The District of Columbia is literally too small for the federal government, which has spilled over into Maryland and more recently into Virginia. Many lies will be spread about the booming Maryland economy O’Malley led. But he’s no different than the rest of them: He’s a tax-and-spend liberal, a marriage redefinist, and an illegal immigrant panderer. A faux “Catholic” through and through.
Tom Bethel of the American Spectator writes a piece in praise of George Gilder, whose Men and Marriage is the best nonfiction book I’ve ever read.
George Gilder is the most original thinker of our time and perhaps our leading conservative writer. One of his great strengths has always been his optimism. There are some downbeat notes in his new edition, so I asked him if he was still an optimist.
“I get up in the morning,” he replied, “I write books, I make investments.” But he allowed that he is concerned about what might happen if Obama is reelected. For one thing, there could be “war in the Middle East.”
I, too, get up in the morning, write books, make investments, etc. But, unlike Gilder, I haven’t lived yet. I’m 26 years old. He’s 72, approaching the twilight of life. Merely enduring the rest of life probably doesn’t seem as bad to him as it does to me.
Adam Gopnik libels Paul Ryan an “Ayatollah,” so Albert Mohler springs to Ryan’s defense:
Ryan stated the obvious — “Our faith informs us in everything we do.” Any faith of substance will inform every dimension of our lives. It is hard to imagine that Adam Gopnik would have complained or even taken offense if a similar statement had been made, for example, by the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., concerning his advocacy for civil rights.
Our total worldview inevitably “informs us in everything we do.” Paul Ryan was simply responding with honesty, and he did not call for a theocracy. Interestingly, Joseph Biden, though a champion of a woman’s right to choose, has repeatedly claimed the influence of his Roman Catholic faith in other arenas of public policy, especially economics. This has not elicited similar cries from liberals, accusing Biden of attempting to forge a theocracy.
Gopnik attempted to make his position clear, arguing that religious beliefs “should not inform us in everything we do, or there would be no end to the religious warfare that our tolerant founders feared.” Mr. Gopnik would no doubt be surprised to discover that many of the founders were not so tolerant, in his sense, as he believes. A good many argued for the absolute necessity of theism as a foundation for morality and civil society. In any event, does he really believe that a candidate’s most deeply held convictions should have no influence in his or her thinking on the most serious of issues? That is not only impossible; it is absurd.
In “Why Liberals Are Misreading Mourdock,” Amy Sullivan “defends” Richard Mourdock:
Lots of Republican politicians oppose rape exceptions. Paul Ryan, for one, opposes abortion in the case of rape. Rarely does anyone bother to offer an explanation for why he holds that position. (Todd Akin famously did earlier this year, and that didn’t go so well for him.) I’m not sure what justifications people had imagined for opposing a rape exception that would be more acceptable than Mourdock’s.
Despite the assertions of many liberal writers I read and otherwise admire, I don’t think that politicians like Mourdock oppose rape exceptions because they hate women or want to control women. I think they’re totally oblivious and insensitive and can’t for a moment place themselves in the shoes of a woman who becomes pregnant from a rape. I think most don’t particularly care that their policy decisions can impact what control a woman does or doesn’t have over her own body. But if Mourdock believes that God creates all life and that to end a life created by God is murder, then all abortion is murder, regardless of the circumstances in which a pregnancy came about.
Why do even “nuanced” liberals like Amy Sullivan think Republicans are “totally oblivious and insensitive”? Because they, in the spirit of hyperpartisanship and hypersensitivity, construe a statement on the value of human life into disdain for rape victims. It goes without saying rape is a terrible trauma. But liberals in their obsessive empathy would allow rape victims the choice to murder the unborn. In the rare cases of pregnancy resulting from rape, that life deserves the law’s protection. Period.
Scott Klusendorf at the Gospel Coalition offers the best pro-life argument I’ve ever read:
Here’s how I engaged the student at Colgate University. When she said she was personally against abortion but wanted to keep it legal, I asked a very simple question I learned from Greg Koukl: “Why are you against abortion?” When she replied, “Because it’s killing, and I personally think it’s wrong to do that,” I asked: “What does abortion kill?” She was hesitant, but honest: “Um, I guess a human being?”
She’s right. If abortion doesn’t unjustly kill an innocent human being, why oppose it at all? Then, very gently, I pressed the point home. “Let me see if I understand you correctly – and if I don’t, please feel free to clarify. You’re personally against abortion because you think it wrongly kills a human being, but you want it to be legal to kill that human being?”
I appreciated her candid reply. “I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that out.”
Last, but not least, Dean Kalahar, writing for RealClear Markets steps up to the plate and hits a grand slam. Before reading on, I recommend removing any sharp objects within arm’s reach.
The electorates’ decision once and for all confirms a definition of America that values hopes, feelings and equality of results over the realities of human nature, history, and the foundational principles that hold western civilization together. There is now no doubt that the tipping point of geometrically increasing cultural decline has been crossed. America has now firmly changed from a nation where the founding principles of the great enlightenment have been substituted for a utopia of widespread human suffering. There is no going back.
This change is not due to one person or event. For fifty years we have seen systemic institutional decay to the vital institutions across our cultural landscape that sustains America. And like a canary in a mine providing an early warning signal to dangers, we have been warned time and time again that we were losing our footing and chose to ignore the obvious.
Today the foundational pillars of civilization that have sustained America have been voted insignificant and will be allowed to collapse. The result is a New America for sure, but it is not a greater America. It is an America that has sown the seeds of its own demise, blinded by self inflicted wounds, disguised by false compassion, and based on trust in a human condition that is not in our nature.
A callous society focused on self has been defining deviancy downward, as the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned us, for a long time. Sometimes covertly and other times overtly, a cultural war was being raged in America by a progressive “tolerance” movement that is intolerant of institutional traditions, principles, and laws that were created and tested over thousands of years of trial and error. Those who have lectured us have shown a condescending hypocrisy of moral relativism towards any concept that might interfere with their self-anointed sensibilities of creating a utopia so as to avoid self awareness. The walls of the republic have been crumbling for some time. Now the collapse is all but inevitable because, and let’s be clear, they have won.