Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Zimbabwe in America's Future?

This morning one of the media lookouts at AIPnews.com drew attention to an article in the Washington Times about the awful conditions in Zimbabwe. In the article images of prison conditions there are likened to photos of inmates just after their liberation from the Nazi death camps. In addition to the horrid prison conditions, the country as a whole is in a state of collapse. "UN agencies estimate that up to three-quarters of Zimbabwe's estimated 12 million people are malnourished and dependent on food aid. Critics blame bad governance and a land-distribution program that began in 1999 and has left a majority of farms idle. Until 2001, Zimbabwe was a net exporter of food."

In the fall of 1980 I returned from Mumbai, India, my first posting as a foreign service officer, to take up my new chores as "desk officer" for the BLS countries (Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland) and assistant desk officer for the newly minted nation of Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). On the way, I stopped in New York to witness Zimbabwe's admission to the United Nations (August 25, 1980), and got my first glimpse of the successful insurgent leader, Robert Mugabe. Over the years since, I've tried to keep up with the subject of my former responsibilities. Like some others, I watched with wary hope, then increasing dismay and grief, as stupid leftist ideology and political ambition overcame common sense and love of country to set Mugabe and his cronies on a path that ultimately destroyed Zimbabwe's once flourishing economy and turned its promised constitutional system into a paradigmatic wasteland of tyranny and repression.

The shallow advocates of "majority rule" in southern Africa pretend that this is somehow just the result of the personal flaws and failings of Mugabe and the people around him, but this isn't an adequate explanation. The very idea that the aim of just revolution is "majority rule" has to bear its share of the blame. Of course the socialist mentality that dominates all too many among America's foreign policy elite (including the black elites that professed such burning interest in justice for blacks in southern Africa) tacitly approves the notion that unalloyed "majority rule" is a just and sustainable form of government. The short and tragic history of Zimbabwe is a classic illustration of why, as Artemus Ward might say, that notion is among "the things we know that just ain't so."

From ancient times (see for example Book VIII of Plato's Republic) pure democracy has been identified as perhaps the most unstable form of government. It's like a radioactive element with a short half-life fated to break down speedily into its next form. Under the influence of demagogues pure democracy declines to mob rule which feeds such a collapse of order and security that people literally beg for the iron hand of tyranny to rescue them from calamity. Years ago, as I helped to staff those who were participating in discussions about the political future of southern Africa, this often came to my mind. It tempered my enthusiasm for seemingly quick paths to black majority rule that paid no attention to the need for carefully considered institutions that would avoid the inevitable tendency of pure democracy to give birth to destructive tyranny. Later, as an Assistant Secretary of state, I gave a speech to the National Urban league that reflected these concerns. I was caricatured by the propaganda hit men of the left, derided as some kind of tool of intransigent, racist whites simply because I refused to forget that the productive cooperation of the white minority would be absolutely essential to the success of the new forms of government emerging in the region. (Though events have proven me right, to this day I am slurred by leftist blacks for showing this concern. For some people there is no sin more unforgivable than to see the truth before they do.)

In Zimbabwe this meant avoiding what I thought of as the tragic mistake of the Gracchi brothers, whose precipitous implementation of "land reforms" (redistribution of land from the aristocratic few to the land-poor majority) hastened the collapse of the Roman Republic. No historical parallels are exact, of course, but they can suggest principles to keep in mind. In Zimbabwe's case this meant realizing that the imperative of economic and social success required respect for the demonstrated expertise and success of the several thousand white farming families whose adaptation of modern techniques had produced a little agricultural miracle. In countries large and small, the first prerequisite of economic development seems to be the sustained and efficient generation of large surpluses in the farm economy. The burgeoning urban areas so characteristic of rapidly expanding industrial and technological economies mean that expansive non-farm populations must be fed. Master this challenge, and there's a solid foundation for sustained economic growth. Fail to master it (as for instance the old Soviet Union did) and even great natural advantages (arable land, metal and mineral resources, etc.) resist the possibility of material success.

The framers of Zimbabwe's constitution needed to eschew sloganeered thinking about majority rule and devise ways to assure constitutional mechanisms that gave the white minority enough political clout to hamper any efforts simply to despoil them of their wealth. The result would have done more than avoid economic folly. It would have encouraged white/black coalitions that hampered the implementation of the kind of demagogic mob politics Mugabe has used to fortify his political power at the expense of his country's happiness.

These days, Americans should not think of these reflections on Zimbabwe's plight as curious thoughts about a distant misery. I have frequently made the point that, given his upbringing and ideology, Barack Obama doesn't represent the heritage of Black Americans. In both respects, however, he more than adequately represents the characteristics of tragically failed socialist leaders in Africa, like Robert Mugabe. Can we see his politically motivated orgy of debt financed spending as the demagogue's destructive disregard for the real well being of the nation? Can we see in his bid for dictatorial control of the economic sector preparation for the disastrous subordination of economic sense to political ambition? Though he is not alone in doing so (his sold-out Democrat and Republican colleagues share in his actions) will his calculated acts of "creative destruction" turn the once flourishing strength of the American people into a wrecked and timorous shadow of its former self? On all sides, the political elite in this country seemed ready to abandon the constitutional system of self-government in favor of a mobocratic implementation of pure democracy that temporarily allows demagogues to flourish, while they rape and pillage the hopes of the people they mislead. Is there more than a little Zimbabwe in our future?

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Monday, March 30, 2009

On Islamic Law- A Video






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Sunday, March 29, 2009

PRESERVING THE CONSTITUTION

The first session of the Loyal to Liberty Seminars convenes tomorrow at 9:30 pm (ET). Though more than enough people have expressed interest in the seminars to get them off to a good start, so far actual registration is lagging well behind the expressions of interest. Given the ongoing destruction of constitutional self-government, it's clear that people see the need to get a better understanding of what 's involved, so that we can do something about it. But the economic crisis (one of the tools of the destroyers) puts many people under constraints that make it difficult to allocate resources to the task of refreshing the capacities that support our effective citizenship. Yet what material good will have a more lasting impact on our future and that of our children than an effort to refresh our understanding of the principles and logic that support our claims to liberty? What understanding will do more to help us recognize and combat the measures being planned and implemented to destroy it?
Lincoln rightly defined the substance of the republican form of government when he called it "government of the people, by the people and for the people." Though some of us think the answer we need will come from some leader with simple, clear answers to the crisis we are in, this expectation is false to the idea of republican self-government. Unless the answer comes from the people themselves, and is implemented by a politics that restores their active role in the formation of good leadership for the nation, it will not restore the integrity and strength of our liberty. "Those who would be free, themselves must strike the blow." The people themselves are the matter and makes of their liberty. Except we think through and act upon a right understanding of the politics required to restore and sustain it, there is no hope.
Visiting and reading the material presented on this site, and others like it, is obviously on part of the work of clarifying such an understanding. But in order to restore the community based upon it, we need to practice the art of developing and articulating it as a communal endeavor. I hope the Loyal to Liberty seminars will provide an opportunity for such good practice.
Does it sound worthwhile? Then why not do what you must to lend a hand. Sign-up for the first session or Subscribe to the 14 session series today.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

United by Right

"Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit." (Federalist, #51)

My friend Tom Hoefling, National chairman of America's Independent Party, called to my attention today a thoughtful piece by Ken Blackwell (former Ohio Secretary of State and recently among the candidates for chairman of the GOP) about the "politics of division…at play within the conservative movement." In his political career Ken has shown himself to be a man with considerable respect for principle, and one who is willing to give issues of moral principle, like respect for innocent life, the priority required for our survival as a free people. In his essay, he rightly admonishes conservatives to remember their common and unifying commitment to the primacy of individual rights. "The place of the individual vis-à-vis the state is the root of commonality for all conservatives, and the basic disconnect between conservatives and collectivists. Government exists not to confer rights, but instead to secure rights." He rightly declares that "the common enemy of all conservatives is the centrality of the state instead of the individual in our political system." He admonishes conservatives to "wake up to this common opponent…"

There can be no doubt that unity is an essential ingredient for success in political, as in military, conflict. Recognizing the common enemy can certainly contribute to such unity. Of course, on the verge of route, when the forces of the enemy loom large in seeming triumph, such recognition can also be the source of discouragement and demoralization. At such times, it has often been more likely to contribute to unanimous retreat or surrender than to a determined stand against the exultant foe. But if, in the face of that exultation, one hardy soul picks up the fallen ensign of their cause, and braving the taunts and deadly missiles of the enemy lifts it again aloft, that reminder of the common good the soldiers fight for, and the common hope it represents, sometimes has been enough to turn the tide of war. People will stand, even against overwhelming odds, when roused by positive and deep commitment to the common good for which they stand.

In this regard I often think of Madison's words from Federalist #51, with their implied warning to the friends of liberty, that justice is the ultimate aim of political life, for the sake of which even liberty will be sacrificed. This should remind thoughtful advocates of individual rights that all such rights are rooted in a claim of right (that is to say, justice). If that claim is not successfully defended, rights will not be preserved.

Ironically, at least in their rhetoric the advocates of socialist collectivism seem never to forget the primacy of justice. Whatever the soporific density of his tendentious economic theories, there are passages in the writings of Karl Marx that burn hot from the fire of his outrage against the inhumane abuses of the Industrial Age. Though by and large they reject Christianity and deny divine authority any relevance to law or politics, the politicians of the left constantly appeal to the sense of justice as they demand programs for the poor, equity for the workers, and respect for the downtrodden and contemned. Leftist ideology often produces massive suffering and death precisely because it gives such weight to the political goal; the end that justifies any and every means; the requirement of justice so absolute that in its presence individual life and suffering lose any and all significance.

What has fueled the undeniable victories of the left, so costly to humanity? A false assertion of individual rights that acts without respect for the deep injustices caused by unbridled lust for wealth, pleasure and self-idolizing power. From the brutalized peasants and urban laborers carelessly offended by the old, so-called aristocracies, to the miners and industrial laborers callously abused by the builders of nineteenth and twentieth century industrial empires, the adroitly highlighted tragedy of these injustices recruited the strength of revolutionary movements around the world.

The socialist revolutionary sees government power as the only means to curtail these abuses. To end the exploitative repression of the many by the few they erect an overawing bureaucratic power that represses all equally. Those who will not conform to the paradigm of government repression, they simply eliminate. The toll goes beyond the many millions dead, however, to encompass the death of the human spirit, and the energy and creativity that fuels the search for knowledge and technological development. Government expands its control until the whole of society conforms to its requirements, and in the process becomes a cancerous mass, no longer living yet pulsating with life.

Between the extremes of dissolute individualism and cancerous government repression, the American founders made out a third alternative, a middle ground upon which individuals who respect the possibility of human community empower a government that respects the possibilities of individual existence. While admitting the necessity for government to restrain individual abuses of freedom, they respected the need for self-reliant individuals to restrain the abuses of government. The result is a form of government that relies upon the force of individual character to provide the motive power that constrains individuals from abuse. The just government of individuals (their freedom to act without abuse) achieved through self-government (their willingness to impose constraints upon themselves.)

Of course the idea of self-government makes no sense in the absence of an understanding of justice that makes clear the boundaries of freedom (that is, the actions that mark the limits beyond which freedom becomes abusive.)

The Declaration of Independence reflects the ingenious and elegant reasoning through which the founders expressed and established such an understanding. As justice is the freedom to act without fear of abuse, just government must derive its authority from a corresponding act of freedom, one that represents the pure self-determination of a will that in no way infringes upon the will of any other. But such a pure act of self-determination (acting of itself, and therefore in no way infringing upon another) is not possible for any contingent being. Only the being that is in and for itself is capable of such freedom. The conceptual possibility of justice therefore arises from our acknowledgment of the existence of such a being, authorizing the claim of freedom made by every individual. The Declaration refers to the self-subsistent being from whose existence the possibility of justice arises as the Creator. Yet because the existence of this self-determining being is essential to every individual claim of freedom, respect for the consequences of its existence becomes the limiting condition for that claim, the conceptual boundary within which every free individual must operate, or else surrender their claim to freedom. Every exercise of individual freedom must therefore show respect to and for the being whose existence accounts for the possibility of individual freedom. But where human beings are concerned, the individual is one of many, each of whom must be taken into account. The Declaration reflects the need for this accounting when it concludes that, to be legitimate, government must be based upon consent.

Of course, the Declaration's reasoning requires a concept of the Creator that goes beyond any simplistic analogy with the activity of human artisans. The Creator not only produces the result, He constitutes it, so that apart from Him its existence is inconceivable. The endowment of unalienable rights is therefore an act of sharing in a sense that goes beyond any merely objective exchange. It connotes, like all expressions of love, the active and continuous presence of the giver. But if the present in its very substance involves the presence of the giver, nothing can be made of it that is inconsistent with His being. The freedom that the Creator originates in this way continues to exist only insofar as it corresponds, in every way, to what He is. All else is not freedom, but abuse.

In light of this reasoning, freedom cannot be understood, much less respected and preserved, without reference to its source. People who say they care about freedom, but who reject the need to address the question of justice that arises from abuse open the way for leftists who exploit their apparent indifference to human misery to discredit the concern with individual rights, which they portray as a cover for greedy ambition. Such false proponents of freedom also encourage the neglect of character, and character education, which turns the dissolution of freedom from a conceptual consequence to a destructive reality.

During the Bush era Republicans suffered more and more acutely from this vulnerability, until it finally resulted in their decisive defeat. Such success as they enjoyed came mainly from the false impression that they cared about the just basis for freedom, though what they really cared for was the support they could harvest among voters who acted on their faith in the Creator God. When pushed to it, however, Republicans by and large tacitly ceded the high moral ground to the left. They do not act boldly because they cannot or will not rely on arguments that refer to and respect the origin of free will, the Creator God without whose authority human assertions of freedom are self-defeating.

Translated into common sense terms, this becomes an issue of trust. As a rule it makes no sense to trust that bad people will do good things, and this includes people who have no concept of good that goes beyond what gets them the goods they desire. In the hands of such people power is likely to be abused from the moment abuse serves their advantage, and the abuse is likely to continue until they themselves are disadvantaged by it. Under such circumstances, individual freedom seems good only to people who do not fear to suffer the tyranny of others who are sufficiently powerful to abuse it. This variety of courage is so narrowly distributed that I wonder if it has ever been displayed by the majority of any people. Most people want some assurance of security against the abuses of power. When that assurance takes the form of moral education and restraint, individual rights and liberty may flourish. When individual character is neglected, and the assumption of self-indulgence prevails, the desire for security against abuse feeds the expansion of government power and control.

Some conservatives pretend to want limited government, but reject the premise of justice that makes sense of rights and liberty. But it provides the only consistent foundation for a self-disciplined understanding of freedom that can serve as the basis for moral education. Moral education, in turn, builds the people's confidence in the prevalence of the sort of good character that, in the absence of a pervasive apparatus of enforcement, assures timid humanity against abuse.

In light of this I have understood for a long time why leftists promote every form of licentious desire and behavior. They know that the breakdown of moral constraint leads to the exultation of government power. It took longer for me to realize that conservatives who reject or downplay the importance of issues that affect moral self-discipline and character are the fifth column of totalitarian ideology among the sincere proponents of liberty. At best they see the forms of representative government based on individual rights as a pleasant mask for authoritarian paternalism: well intentioned elites nobly obliging themselves to decide what is good for the hapless masses. Where socialists aim for a world in which all adults will be slaves of the state, such so-called conservatives envisage a world in which all are its obedient children. Of course both groups exempt themselves from the perpetual dependency they will inflict on others.

There have been enough flourishing empires in human history to prove that many people are happy to be fairly well-treated slaves, and even more are pleased to live as well cared for children. Unfortunately I cannot think of one such despotic empire that did not in the end use the slaves or children as wolves use sheep. Americans have been free of the slaughter pens for long enough to be careless. They are giving in to the delusion that free individuals without moral conscience will respect those enslaved by passion or indolence, or that an all powerful government will serve rather than exploit the needs of disarmed and dependent subjects. But in a society of individuals who need such government power to control their abuses, where shall they be found who will not abuse its power, and for how long?

The crisis of our times demands that everyone think about that question. People who acknowledge the authority of the Creator should think especially hard. America's moral heart can still be rallied, but not by false premises of unity that leave the nation's standard of moral principle in the dust. Citizens must be found who will not run in the same the same direction as the pursuing enemies of freedom, whatever label those enemies claim to wear. We must turn, stand fast and rally round the standard which the Declaration blazons with God's name, for only beneath that standard may the meek rest assured that the rights we fight to save will justly serve the right He has ordained.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An Open Letter to Father Jenkins

An Open Letter to Father Jenkins

President of the University of Notre Dame


I pray God that you, and the Trustees and Faculty of the University of Notre Dame will reconsider your decision to extend an Honorary Degree to Barack Obama, and that you will withdraw your invitation to him to speak at the University's Commencement exercises in May. As leaders in the American Catholic community do you not hold to the Church's teaching with regard to the inviolable sanctity of human life, and against the heinous practice of abortion?

The issue at stake in the fight against abortion is starkly simple: Are all human beings created equal, or not? It is the same issue that was at stake in the fight against slavery and racial discrimination.

As an American who subscribes to the self-evident truths our country was founded upon, I answer the question in favor of equality. As a descendant of enslaved Black Americans, I believe that any other answer would invalidate the struggle for justice to which so many Americans of all races gave their lives.

Given that the principle at stake is the same as that which demanded opposition to slavery, I have always had a simple test when dealing with any question involving abortion. I ask myself what I would do or say if slavery was the issue in question. I recommend this test for your consideration. Ask yourself whether you would invite as a Commencement speaker an individual who abused the authority of office to provide Federal funding for the purchase of slaves. Would you consider it honorable for the University to confer an honorary degree on an individual who issued executive orders allowing US funds to be used to support slave markets? Would you let the University be used to give stature to a politician who supported the position that ownership of slaves is a matter of individual choice?

I hope and assume that the answer to all of these questions is no. Since you have chosen to answer otherwise where abortion rather than slavery is at issue, you must see a moral difference between enslaving grown people and killing nascent ones. Or else you see a moral difference between the nascent child in the abortuary and the slave on the auction block. As a Black, Catholic, prolife American, I challenge you to explain the difference to me and to everyone like me. Perhaps you make a distinction because the child is more helpless, more imperatively incapable of voluntary wrongdoing, more explicitly acknowledged by Christ to be the subject of His special regard? (Matthew 18:6, Luke 17:2) Or perhaps it's because some refuse to recognize the nascent child's humanity?

Whenever someone raises the latter objection I remember a speech Frederick Douglass made in which he felt compelled to make arguments for the humanity of black Americans because, he said, "A respectable public journal, published in Richmond Virginia., bases its whole defence [sic] of the slave system upon a denial of the Negro's manhood." You see, people once raised a question about that, which supposedly Catholic Christians (including some no doubt from my home state of Maryland) probably used at that time to justify their commerce with slaveholders; their willingness to hold in honor those who practiced or defended slavery; or even their own willingness to hold slaves themselves.

When I read of slavery in my youth I could not understand why so many tolerated such evil for so long. I asked God to help me never in my life to be such as they were. Once I fully understood the nature of the abortion issue, I was moved to stand against abortion and the slaughter of innocent life as I would have wanted all people of conscience and goodwill to stand against slavery and the rape of my forbears' liberty. When people suggest that Barack Obama shares some heritage with me, I know better. For the truest test of that heritage is not the color of someone's skin, but the determination of their heart, never to stand silently by while God's fundamental law of justice is denied to persons whose only crime is the unjustly despised appearance of their humanity.

I know that the Catholic Church today is guilty of no such dereliction. The Holy Father, the clergy, and millions of the laity have joined together in prayer, and work and sacrifice to bear witness against the wrong of abortion, to bear witness against a false idea of choice that betrays God-given liberty. Your University bears the name of the Blessed Mother of Christ, who honored God's will for human life though it could have meant her own dishonor in the minds of her contemporaries. Even if, as you say, Obama's visit does worldly honor to you and your colleagues, what is more consistent with her example: to seek honor at the expense of God's truth, or to forego it if need be, in obedience to His loving will.

I realize that such a decision is not so much for thought as for prayer. So I ask that you give prayerful consideration to the plea that is on my heart, and on the hearts of millions like me. This may well be a teaching moment for Obama and other politicians like him. But sometimes one deed speaks more certainly of truth than many words could do. Thus spoke the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. Are we not called to act as He did? Perhaps the best Commencement speech of all would be the testimony of silence, in which, perhaps for the first time, someone who needs to hear it will hear the voice of Rachel, weeping. (Matthew 2:18)

With Pleasing Hope for Life,

Alan Keyes

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Biden's Gridiron Humor- Is Obama Laughing?

Today WND reports that Congressman Bill Posey is being jeered at and ridiculed by the leftist media and some of his colleagues in the US Congress. Why? He dared to propose a piece of legislation "that would require future presidential candidates to document their eligibility." Apparently the idea that people in Congress would actually fulfill their oaths of office and seek the information required to assure respect for the US Constitution is now considered insane.

Ridicule is a standard tactic of deceivers trying to discredit anyone who draws attention to their dishonesty. With respect to the eligibility issue, however, it requires very little thought and just a modicum of common sense to see through the ploy. The reason for mobilizing the jeering section is also clear. Admitting that in future it would be appropriate to verify the eligibility of candidates for President strongly implies that it would be appropriate to do so now.

The partisan and media hacks desperately seeking to marginalize the issue of Obama's eligibility (including Vice-President Biden) must deal with one hard fact: Barack Obama has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars paying lawyers to prevent access to his full birth certificate and any other records that might have a bearing on the question of his citizenship status.

Given this fact, let's for a moment ignore the Obama faction's mobocratic tactics, and apply some common sense logic.

Either Obama has a reason for his behavior, or he doesn't.

If he doesn't, the behavior is irrational. Irrational behavior is generally not taken as conclusive evidence of sanity.

If Obama's behavior is rational, then it's logical to conclude that he wishes to keep from public view something contained in his full birth certificate, or other records that may reflect its content. Some fact not otherwise known is being hidden from the public. It may have a bearing on the issue of his Constitutional eligibility to serve as President, or it may not. In either case, he is so concerned about its possible public impact that he would rather damage the perceived authority of the Constitution (a direct violation of his sworn duty as a public official of the United States) than let it be known. It's hard to imagine anything contained in a birth certificate that would be matter for such personal embarrassment as to justify this dereliction of public duty. No sane person, and I think especially no right thinking American, would hold an infant responsible for the sins or views of his parents. But perhaps merely avoiding personal embarrassment is not the reason for his efforts to conceal.

Assuming that Obama knows the contents of his full birth certificate, he would also know whether or not they contradict public statements he has made, or that his campaign made use of, about his background. In that case, the issue is not about the views or sins of his parents, but about his own less than candid behavior. Has he lied to the public about himself? Has he fabricated elements of his background in order to garner sympathy and support? Do these lies have a bearing on the Constitutional issue? Whether they do or not, sustained, conscious and orchestrated deception must have a definite bearing on the public's appraisal of his character, his trustworthiness and therefore his suitability for the nation's highest office of trust. If the election campaign he conducted was based on fictions and lies, was the outcome a valid reflection of the public's will, or a manipulated result achieved by dint of fraud and deceit?

Though it's generally considered bad form to explain a joke, I'll take the risk of offering a reflection on Vice-President Biden's telling joke about the birth certificate issue at the Gridiron dinner last weekend. "You know, I never realized just how much power Dick Cheney had until my first day on the job. I walked into my office, and you know how the outgoing president always leaves the incoming president a note in his desk?" he asked rhetorically. "I opened my drawer and Dick Cheney had left me Barack Obama's birth certificate." Now, on the surface this seems to be a joke about Dick Cheney's ability to get what nobody else has access to. Not far from that surface, however, the joke is not about the power Cheney had, but about the power Biden would have if the full birth certificate were in his possession. It's an aging maxim in this information age that 'information is power.' In this case, the information Obama desperately seeks to conceal represents power over him and therefore over the United States of America. Here's the question: Who has that power? Biden may joke about it. I somehow doubt that Obama is laughing. And neither should we.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Some Well-Versed Comments, (with thanks to tj marz)

[Since this blog began a reader who signs as tj marz has left some evocative verses as comments on some of the posts. For the benefit of readers who haven't run across these little gifts, I offer the following recent examples. They prove I think that once you get here, it pays to look around. There are more, for those willing to do so.]


spent some in hell
university
i remember how
hard it was
to breathe
down there
like a hot pillow
over my face
in a dark room
business week
minded professors
fraternal saturdays
sacrificial lamb
on sundays
lepers of arrogance
graduate to sit
behind teak
top desks fine
in high back
leather soft
inside buildings
of granite & marble
under the false
pretense that
the ironic pillars
of this new rome
will continue
to protect them
so proud that
their kids
go to hell
university

-tj marz
March 21, 2009 3:04 AM


the hollow men (revisited)


these men
of power
are hollow
like
piggy banks
filled w/ money
i choose
to fill
my void
w/ the most
powerful stuff
i know of
The Holy Trinity
penny for
your thoughts
Jesus
on the
cross

-tj marz
March 20, 2009 6:18 PM


veteran at mass


he rests
his forehead
on the
church pew
before him
it is all
that holds him
up
tears fall
from his face
like bombs
falling
into the
rich green
carpet
of
da nang

-tj marz
March 18, 2009 9:38 PM


the blue catskill
mountains is sacred
ground to the
algonquin & early
dutch settlers
look up from this
burial ground
see the sun is
a perfect cross
roman cut
in crystal
slices through
cloth & into
His shoulders

-tj marz
March 17, 2009 3:58 AM


Friday, March 20, 2009

Notre Dame: Promoting the Glamour of Evil

"Do you reject the glamour of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin? (From the Roman Catholic Rite of Baptism)

Apparently the Catholic folks at Notre Dame University have no more respect for the Baptismal vows they renew every Easter than their invited Commencement Speaker this year has for the Presidential Oath of Office. At this moment in time, Barack Obama is the living incarnation of the glamour of evil. His smiley tones and non-threatening manner mask a studied commitment to the promotion of the most deadly form of evil in the world today- the cult of abortion centered on the ritual of child sacrifice. Obama has moved with impetuous determination to prove his claim to the mantle of High Priest of the Worldwide Abortion cult. With Executive orders he has shifted the resources of the U.S. government behind the global implementation of abortion. He has declared open season on embryonic human life. He has appointed enthusiastic political and judicial acolytes of this cult of death to high positions in the Executive and Judicial branches.

Even before these actions there was no rational basis for pretending to doubt his absolute commitment to the evil of abortion for its own sake. There can be no other explanation for his opposition, while an Illinois state Senator, to the bipartisan effort in the legislature to end the heinous practice of infanticide against innocent babies- delivered in the course of an abortion attempt; wrapped in soiled linens; and left on a cart to languish without medical care or any human comfort until they died. His only real explanation for refusing to support an end to this abominable practice was the cold-blooded logic that any interference with the mother's intention to kill the child would damage so-called abortion rights.

The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is objective evil of the most deadly spiritual kind. Obama embraces this evil for its own sake, without even the specious calculus of cost and benefit to cloak the true nature of his devotion. Except the Notre Dame University community consciously wishes to promote similar devotion in its students, there can be no valid explanation for their willingness to extend a platform to such a man. They cannot plead respect for his supposed High Office, unless they mean to suggest that it is consistent with Catholic teaching or the Lord's example to put such worldly reverence above the reverence for God, and the sacred laws commanding respect for innocent human life. Human honor cannot redeem that which God abhors. It cannot clear away the stain and curse that mars it. Vox Populi, Vox Dei is no maxim for the Body of Christ.

Nor can apologists at Notre Dame point to any positions he takes, or worldly programs he promises that can offset the sacrifice of spiritual integrity his unapologetic support for the cult of child sacrifice entails. It may be that he has gained the whole world's momentary adulation and tinsel honor. But as Christ spoke true, his soul is forfeit in the bargain, and the gain is as nothing compared to the cost.

Neither can they plead respect for the historic breakthrough his election supposedly represents. How can one who withdraws the protection of God's ordained equality of rights from innocent, helpless children claim to represent the triumph of justice over the very evils, born of greed and passion, unleashed by disregard for that equality? The vicious heart of selfish passion that perverted the souls of slave masters or self-worshiping lynch mobs, is the same heart offered in service to the Father of lies and evil in the abortion cult.

In the literal sense therefore, Barack Obama is the incarnation of what the Catholic Church identifies as the epitome of evil in the world today. What Notre Dame has done puts the stamp of Catholicity upon him, as if there is no absolute contradiction between what he advocates and represents and what can honorably be presented from platforms that benefit from the auspices of the Church. A Commencement speech represents a word spoken at the beginning of a new stage of life. In the literal sense it represents a principle for thought and action. Are we seriously to believe that some morally truthful argument can be made that justifies presenting Barack Obama in a Catholic context, as one who speaks for decent moral principle? It is sophomoric to suggest that any good thing he promises, promotes or even implements can compensate for his declared war upon the very principle of goodness, which is nowhere more clearly at stake than in the law of love that shrouds, protects and sanctifies our reverence for innocent human life. What Catholic theology makes good the rationalization that good works somehow supply the deficiency of a spirit and will that in the innocent person of the child, defile and abuse the very image of God Himself?

Given the evil he represents, Notre Dame's invitation to Obama is a slavish capitulation to the glamour of evil. Across America there are people of many different hues and denominations who devote themselves to the protection of innocent life, respect for the God-ordained family, and promotion of social justice in ways that conform with the principle of subsidiarity that respects human responsibility before God for the exercise of freedom His will for us makes possible. The world does not elevate them to platforms of power. Indeed it threatens them with punishment; ridicules and reviles their single-hearted devotion to Christ's example; relegates them to what it believes are the dingy fringes of respectability and esteem. Yet where is Christ to be found more than in those willing to bear with him the cross of human anguish on the long climb toward Calvary and the sacrifice that redeems mankind from the burden of sin? Rather than give an honorable platform to an evil man the world admires, a Catholic institution would do better to offer students a voice that speaks from the depths of this redemptive anguish, with a heart that sees past the glamour and power of evil, to the truth that will someday repel and triumph over it.

In an era when the Catholic Church in America still reels from the damaging effect of leaders who seem to connive at what gives scandal to the faithful, this scandalous gesture of admiration and respect toward the man who best represents the temporary triumph of evil over America's public life is a renewed scandal. As the first reeked of worldly fear and selfish licentiousness, this reeks of death and the prideful embrace of the doctrine that rejects the sovereignty of God in order to make man the master of life and death, right and wrong, hope and salvation. Catholics who abhor such scandal need to speak out. With one voice we should say to Notre Dame what Joshua said to the people of Israel: "If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve…" (Josue 24:15)

As a Catholic I earnestly pray to God, and ask of our Church leaders, that they make clear that this invitation cannot stand. If it stands, the scandalous lesson of subservience to human pride and power will lengthen the shadow of spiritual corruption that still haunts the Church. But if it is rebuked and withdrawn, every Catholic and Christian heart submissive to the sovereignty of God, as they bear witness to the affirmation of its truth, will be emboldened to speak and act with courage, even in the teeth of the whole world's scornful power.

This may also be an opportunity to begin the work that may someday turn Obama's heart from evil. Rather than confirm him in his present heedless service to objective evil, confront Him with the truth that there are Christian hearts that honor God above any man or human office. The seed planted by that confrontation will remind him of the true spirit of liberty. And it might someday grow up to impel him to repent of evil, who knows? With God, all things are possible.

UPDATE (March 22): Anyone wishing to help communicate opposition to Notre Dame's action can sign the petition at this site sponsored by the Cardinal Newman society. All who appreciate the sponsorship of evil signified by Notre Dame's invitation are welcome to sign, of course.

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Obama's Spending Frenzy and the Cult of Child Sacrifice

"…for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. I will very gladly spend and be spent for you…" (2 Corinthians 12:14)

"For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing… (Matthew 13:15)


By now most Americans not willfully assuming the three monkeys pose acknowledge that the present mad frenzy of bailouts, pork binging and budgetary abandon are driving the nation into the depths of a Mariana trench of indebtedness. Despite the self-serving prognostications of the politicians and purported economic geniuses driving us into this madness, it looks increasingly like the desperate thrashings of a drowning victim compulsively sucking deep into his lungs the water that will seal his fate. Once water fills the lungs the only question is, how long the body can sustain itself without air? For our body politic that means wondering whether the bankruptcy of the nation will hit us now, or not until the overhang of debt breaks off to crush another generation. The dead weight of debt destroys us either way, but our heedless willingness to live on the hope that our children will be the ones destroyed by it reveals the essential nature of our depravity. We have exchanged the parents' natural sense of duty toward their children for an unnatural willingness to make of them an offering to the fierce gods of our ambitious pastimes.

Many people who profess to be Christian are actually supporting and applauding this mentality of child sacrifice. I guess that, with the easygoing smorgasbord mentality too often characteristic of some self-described believers in our time, they choose not to have ears when they get to Scriptural passages like the words of Paul quoted above. Apparently God's lesson to Abraham, most emphatically confirmed in the life and fate of Jesus Christ, has no power to instruct them. It does not warn them against their sacrifice of new Isaacs on the altar of what they claim is dedication to good things like charity, compassion and justice. "We serve the god of love, in this sacrifice," they seem to say "therefore it is righteousness." But if their god demands this of them, what they worship is not truly the God who revealed Himself through the book they profess to believe in. For He made it clear that no offering can save us but only the one that He wills, and has provided, begotten from eternity in the love that informs all of Creation.

Quietly, and perhaps sometimes without being conscious of it, such believers sympathize with those who chide folks like myself for unequivocally rejecting the political idol they have set up as their totem of change and progress. We are unreasoning fanatics who insist upon a false perfection, unwilling to balance good and evil in the scales of rational calculation. They do not remember the wisdom of Solomon, who understood that the willingness to sacrifice the lives of our children gives the lie to our professions of kindness. True human kindness acts with loving respect for their wholesome existence. Like Paul and Jesus Christ true parents would rather lay down their own lives than offer up their children's, even to serve their sense of righteousness.

Tragically for these idol worshiping believers, the chief distinguishing feature of their new age totem openly flaunts this abandonment of wholesome respect for life. He advocates and consistently promotes the cultish ritual of abortion, appointing to power those who have assiduously promoted and proclaimed its central mystery, the redemptive efficacy of child sacrifice. Women are blessed by it with relief from the punishment of carrying their offspring. Health is blessed by it, with the specious advances promised by embryo destroying stem cell research. The world is blessed by it, through U.S. funding of programs that promote abortion for population control and social engineering.

If we could resurrect our offspring, as God did, perhaps we might excuse with power our rejection of His redemptive offering. But for all its Dr. Frankenstein pretensions, our technological prowess can destroy, distort and exploit human life, but its creation remains beyond our capacity. We deny, but cannot solve, its mystery. However if, as Christians profess to believe, God's Word reveals truth, there is no mystery about the evil involved in the destruction of innocent life. Are the Christian idol-worshipers like the Israelites, falling down before a golden calf in the very presence of God's Word? Perhaps they are, even down to the treasure they borrow to enamel it, secured by the aborted hopes not just of one child, or even a multitude, but of our whole posterity. "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." (Matthew, 13:9)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Why Does Obama Disregard the Nation's Wounded?


I have good memories of the American Legion. The organization's activities for young people played a pivotal role in the direction of my life. In High School I participated in both the Legion's National Oratorical Contest, and its Boys State and Boys Nation programs. Those experiences helped to cement my interest in America's political institutions, and what it takes to preserve our liberty. To my mind, the Legion has always represented the patriotic veteran's insight that the defense of this country doesn't begin or end on the battlefield, but in the conscience, heart and spirit of each new generation of Americans. The Legionnaires I met as a High School student had a commitment to the strength and survival of America that didn't end when they left military service. It continued throughout their lives, as they supported and participated in activities that would kindle a love of country in young people, not just as a feeling but as a solidly grounded understanding of liberty and how to be the responsible, active citizens needed to make it work.

Given this background it caught my attention the other day when I read a report that "The commander of the American Legion emerged from a meeting with [alleged] President Obama "angered" at Obama's insistence on generating revenue from those who sacrificed for American security." Apparently, the Obama faction is moving forward with plans "to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries." Commander David K. Rehbein went on to say that "He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it." Ending assured U.S. government funded care for preexisting service related injuries will make it more difficult for veterans to secure and keep health coverage. An odd result coming from the man promising universal health care to everyone.

Some naive Americans, still blinded by partisan passion or racial allegiance, may be surprise at this banal disregard for the nation's obligations to its military veterans. But though, for political gain, Obama has tried to mantle himself with the aura of Lincoln's mighty reputation as leader and emancipator, he has nothing of the moral heart that Lincoln expressed when he urged a war weary nation "to strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan…" No, here again he ruthlessly applies the logic that serves his purposes, without regard for moral consequences. Of course, he behaved this way in the Illinois Senate when the ruthless logic of his fanatical support for abortion led him to oppose ending the abominably immoral practice of leaving infant babies who survived unsuccessful abortion attempts to languish without medical care on dirty linen carts, until they died. I guess health care is to be assured to all except those whose lives interfere with his other priorities. (An exception that may include his faction's critics and political opponents before he's done.)

Apparently Obama has no sense of the special debt the nation owes to those who answer its call to arms. He has no sense at all of the need to encourage that answer now and in every generation, by making it clear that as a nation we will stand by those who are weakened, maimed and wounded, not just until their service ends, but until God calls an end to the lives that they have laid on the line for our good. Sadly, this is the mindset we should expect from someone so fascinated with the Marxist ideology, which has again and again produced heartless leaders who believe that people exist to serve the state, or the administrative whims of Party dictators.

In this context his call for mandatory national service takes on an ominous aspect it might otherwise not have. It's one thing to ask free people to give service to a nation that respects their willing acceptance of their duty. It's another to demand that it be given without respect for the character they show, and the sacrifices they have to endure. Such respect is the token of our understanding that when free men and women do their duty, they show character not submission. It is the token that we know as Lincoln did, that their wounds are the nation's wounds, to be cared for from the common store not only of our goods, but of our love of liberty and country.

Whatever its superficial budgetary benefits, the Obama faction's proposal is an outrage. If there are still Americans who see our military people as something more than instruments of policy- who remember that they are our mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, brothers, sisters and friends- they should seek and find a way to let their feelings be known. Congress will have a say in this, so let your representatives know what you think. Some issues are about money. Some are about the decent pride and self-respect that free people value more than money. The way we treat our veterans tells the world whether America still has or deserves either one.

By the way, this is just one more confirmation of the fact that the Obama faction's vision for this country seems utterly devoid of the qualities of heart and spirit associated with our heritage of freedom. We should beware, since they are also associated with its preservation. People who care about that had better wake up or it may soon be lost forever.

[Update: Readers will not the following exchange from the comments to this post:

muttmutt said...

Except that unlike President Bush, President Obama is actually willing to listen to people. According to the Washington Post, he has abandoned this scheme. http://is.gd/nWLW


Alan Keyes said...

muttmutt:

What I find most interesting, as I said in my post, is what this episode tells us about his moral ideas, or lack thereof. He simply does what's expedient-probing with bayonets, as Lenin said. When he meets opposition he backs off. It's the chosen direction that reveals the truth, however, not the calculated retreat.

ALK]


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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why I Hate "Hate-Crimes" Legislation


"De bajo de mi manto, al rey mato." (An old Spanish proverb)


What is the rationale for hate crimes legislation? Sheila Jackson-Lee (D, Tx-18) must have some idea, since she has introduced The David Ray Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009"(HR256) in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill "Amends the federal criminal code to impose penalties for willfully causing bodily injury to any person…because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability of any person, where the offense is in or affects interstate or foreign commerce." It "directs the U.S. Sentencing Commission to study the issue of adult recruitment of juveniles to commit hate crimes and, if appropriate, to amend the federal sentencing guideline to provide sentencing enhancements for such an offense."

In one respect, hate crimes legislation defies the age-old logic of punishment. Webster's defines hate as "intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury." In the past, people generally regarded intense passion as a mitigating factor in the commission of a crime, though usually not sufficient simply to exonerate the person responsible. The influence of intense passion was taken to indicate a diminished capacity for rational choice, like the influence of alcohol or drugs. Of course, such ideas assumed that laws aimed to constrain behavior, not punish heretical states of mind.

Liberals nowadays are disposed to blather condescendingly about the separation of church and state when it comes to defending the natural family or legally established standards of decency for sexual behavior. Ironically, their penchant for hate crimes legislation seems intent on revisiting the mentality of the medieval statutes that enabled the Inquisition- laws that insisted on states of mind that satisfied a standard of purity in the understanding and observance of sacred ideas, people and things. Much like the special penalties imposed by some religions for mistreatment of sacred groups of people or animals, the proponents of "hate crimes" legislation deal in special classes of people against whom criminal acts are somehow more grievous and offensive.

Pity benighted individuals like me, who actually thought it an advance in jurisprudence when people concluded that actions, rather than thoughts and attitudes, are the proper objects of legal regulation and punishment. How absurd were those philosophers of human liberty who saw efforts to impose purity of thought and attitude as thin excuses for sectarian persecution or vengefulness. Of course, today's benevolent liberals aren't looking for excuses to arrest and try those who disagree with their promotion of homosexuality. They aren't seeking a legal excuse to censor the language of preachers who reject their worship of hedonistic sexuality. They are liberals, whose sole aim is to free the world from every semblance of thought that might produce an evil consequence, provided only that everyone is made to think of good and evil exactly as they do.

Sarcasm aside, hate crimes legislation is the statutory framework for the forceful imposition of a political and social religion. The so-called liberals mean to institutionalize intolerance, even as they loudly proclaim Holy Tolerance as their all in all. Because we seek to protect a form of human life that they despise, they defame as bigots or religious fanatics people working to re-establish respect for the law against abortion. Meanwhile they move boldly to use the force of law to punish the thoughts and attitudes of any who move against the sacred untouchables of their new cult of sexual pleasure and self-indulgence. Behind their phony slogans of hope and progress comes the return of Dark Age zealotry, dressed up in the fleshy tones of New Age vanity and glamour.

I say unequivocally that I hate this camouflaged return to the dark ages. I detest the persecution of people for their beliefs, thoughts and attitudes. More than anything that has to do with the body, this effort to delve into and directly impose upon the mind rapes the deepest form of privacy and smacks of the detestable crimes that invade the truly most intimate places of human existence in order to impose the leering tastes and heartless fancies of spiritual tyrants disguised as lawmakers and judges.

If someone has bad judgment enough to hate me, I say let them do so, so long as it never produces an action otherwise against the law. When and if it does, they should be subject to the same punishment that I or anyone else would suffer for the same act, with nothing added or taken away because of their putative beliefs or feelings about me. Adding to the burden of punishment because of their hate exposes me and every other person in society to a danger worse than any crime of hatred. It comes in the form of crimes that simply disregard first conscience and then humanity in order to treat people with the hate-less, cold-blooded ruthlessness of those who feel nothing as they order or tolerate the deaths of millions. Odd isn't it, that what are ostensibly efforts to cure hate may mask the insidious encouragement of the state of mind that, with ruthless efficiency, lends itself to the tasks required in order to impose totalitarian rule. It also leads to a society of people grown accustomed to the presence of the state in the one precinct of our existence that ought to be reserved for us, for us and God alone.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

First ‘Loyal to Liberty’ Seminars Set to Begin March 30

Readers who explore the offerings displayed on the Loyal to Liberty (LTL) sidebar have probably noticed the poll gauging interest in LTL sponsored, online, interactive seminars dealing with topics discussed on this site. I'm pleased to report that positive expressions of interest have accumulated rather faster than I expected, so we've come quickly to the next stage. On March 30 beginning at 9:30 PM (ET) I will host a pilot session on the topic "Preserving the Constitution." Thereafter I will host a session every Monday at 9:30 PM (ET) through June 29. Anyone wishing to participate in the first session may register to do so ( Registration fee: $25) by clicking on the link for Session 1 provided under the heading, Live, Interactive Seminars. A second link (Subscription) allows those who are interested in subscribing to all fourteen sessions to register for the full seminar course. (Registration fee:$150) After the first session, the subscription fee will be prorated to reflect the remaining number of sessions, so that while multiple sessions remain, a subscription can be purchased at any time (i.e. all remaining sessions can be purchased as a package for half the regular cost per single session.)

At each session I will make an introductory presentation, followed by a Q&A period. Then I'll open the floor for a guided discussion that will give participants the opportunity to share and develop their own ideas and understanding in what I expect to be an energetic exchange. I will try to be as provocative as necessary to assure that it is.

To get the most out of each session, participants should prepare by reading the relevant articles here on the site. From time to time I will also suggest additional materials, readily available on the internet, that will provide helpful background for our discussions. Since the purpose of my efforts through this site is to encourage action that restores and strengthens the free republic we are supposed to have in the United States, these sessions will not be academic exercises. As the root of the word seminar suggests, I will aim to plant seeds of activism. I will be seeking to help participants develop a confident understanding of the requirements and challenges of maintaining liberty, and a desire to put that understanding into practice as the citizen leaders we Americans are supposed to be. This will of course require at every turn serious consideration of the substantial role of faith in the formation and preservation of our free way of life. Skeptics are welcome, but they will have to leave any coddled, "politically correct" sensibilities behind. The only thing liberal in these sessions is likely to be the use of the "G" word ( and I do mean God) in discussions of just principle, policy and politics. They will take place, however, under the twin aegis of civility and reasonableness, with strict enforcement of the intellectual golden rule (speak unto others as you would have others speak unto you.) The only other request I make of all participants is the one Socrates asked of his interlocutors: that they agree to answer his questions honestly, as he answered theirs.

For further information or comments, please contact me via email at this address, alan@alankeyes.com. (You can also use this email address to arrange registration and payment by mail, if the web based automated registration service doesn't suit your needs. To homeschoolers: In times like these, I know budgets can be tight. If that's a prohibitive constraint, but you have a student who would benefit from one or more of the sessions, or wish to make participation in all of them part of his/her studies, you can use alan@alankeyes.com to let me know. I will respond promptly. Thanks to some generous friends of this site, limited funds are available, so don't delay.)

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Steele and the GOP- No Reason for Victory

The name of Abraham Lincoln is used and abused a good deal these days. Despite his overt rejection of the principles Lincoln strove to preserve, Obama has tried to portray himself as Lincoln's heir (probably to make up for his lack of any real connection to the heritage that includes the struggle against slavery, so important in the background of the black Americans his media claque claims he represents.) On the other hand, conservatives who adhere to the mobocratic version of states' rights (some of whom I encountered among Ron Paul's supporters in the Constitution Party) practically demonize Lincoln as the original destroyer of American Federalism. In their different ways I think both Obama and the mob rule states' rights adherents simply ignore the aspect of Lincoln's statesmanship that has always impressed me the most. Though not educated in any formal sense, he was perhaps the most profound thinker ever to participate in American politics. Certainly he was the most thoughtful man to serve as President (with proper respect and apologies to Thomas Jefferson and J. Q. Adams.)

The key to my judgment in this regard is not just what he said, but the way he presented it. All of his memorable addresses bear the hallmark of true eloquence. They are not just moving phrases but each presents an argument that appeals to common sense, that moves and seeks to persuade the reasonable mind. As I recall his biography, the foundation of this characteristic in his speeches was probably his study of Euclid's geometry. Geometric reasoning develops the faculty of mind that retains a clear grasp of first principles through all the twists and turns of subsequent reflection. This faculty led to the insights on which republican, constitutional self-government is based and it is indispensable for the preservation of liberty.

Perhaps the clearest symptom of liberty's impending demise is the almost complete absence of such reasoning from the speeches, and apparently from the thinking, of contemporary American politicians. Controversies swirl over their declarations of support for this or that opinion, without regard to any reasoning that supports their declamations or relates them to the basic premises that make sense of our still assumed claim to unalienable rights and the form of government that limits its power on account of them.

I was reminded of this deficiency as I perused, and in some cases responded to, some of the reactions to my last posting about Michael Steele's abandonment of the pro-life cause. Some people simply can't understand how I dared to question his adamant declarations of pro-life conviction. They seemed to think that I was engaging in some kind of personal attack against him, questioning the honesty and sincerity of his commitment. It seems never to have occurred to them that it's possibleto say with sincerity things that make no sense. I presented reasoning in support of the view that Steele's often repeated views contradict his claim to be pro-life. But in their reaction to what I wrote these critics took no account of the reasoning. They made no attempt to deal with or respond to its logic.

But it might be said of logic what Leon Trotsky is supposed to have said of strategy (or was it war?) You may not be interested in it, but it is interested in you. Ignore it, and you will still suffer its consequences. In this case though Steele's defenders ignore it, the pro-life cause will suffer the consequences. Except as a matter of easily defused or circumvented sentiment, the stand against abortion makes no sense without an appeal to the principles of justice on which the United States of America was founded. Though in its most extreme forms (such as the live birth abortion procedure) it offends aesthetic sensibilities, its ugliness can be camouflaged without too much difficulty, and its ugliest consequences (connected with declining respect for the mysterious subjective worth of human life) may not appear in their truly most repugnant form for one or more generations. Thus even at the sentimental level, reasoning is required to argue the pro-life position. But at this level, since they must argue on behalf human life in it most rudimentary and least recognizable form, against the articulate fear, anguish and pride of fully developed people, pro-life proponents probably face a losing battle. It reminds me of the statement Tocqueville made about the difficulty of arguing justice for enslaved blacks when other Americans were accustomed to see their physical appearance as repulsive and barely human. However false, the perceptions of prejudice have real consequences.

In the American context the antidote to this prejudiced sensibility involved the mobilization of reason and common sense based on the appeal to just principles of liberty. The political effectiveness of this appeal depended on the respect people had for reasonable argument, and on their emotional attachment to what they rightly perceived as the blessings of liberty. Neither can simply be taken for granted. It's hard to imagine that Lincoln's statesmanship would have succeeded had the eloquence of someone like Daniel Webster (ironically arguing in apparent support of forbearance in dealing with the slave states) not roused and cemented the sense that liberty and union were wedded and bound together, one and inseparable.

If they bother to acknowledge that it has any place in politics at all, today's politicians generally treat the work of preserving our attachment to liberty and justice as a secondary matter. Yet when the emotional attachment to these real though abstract goods shrivels away, what is left to do battle against the strong passions of lust, greed and selfish interest which move people to trample on those whose appearance, unpopularity or material condition make them contemptible in the eyes of the majority, or of self-serving elites acting in its name? Many Republicans still claim that their Party's principles embrace the idea of limited government. But they blindly follow leaders like Steele who do not remember the limitation that ultimately matters most: the sense of justice and decency, grounded in reason, common sense and emotional conviction, that stands in the path of the mobocratic impulse, whether it seeks to despoil the rich or murder the poorly regarded.

I believe that there are times when the need to remember and articulate this limitation becomes the paramount task of American politics. Every aspect of the crisis we are in suggests that we are living through such a period. Some say our economic crisis is the greatest challenge we face. But isn't it rooted in our willingness to crush the welfare of our posterity with a burden of unlimited debt, in order to serve our own ambitions? Isn't this an aspect of the same ruthless selfishness that moves us to pretend that it's right physically to sacrifice our offspring everyday in the womb? In the past people died for the sake of offspring that had no life except in their heart's imagination. Today our living children die for the sake of a generation that seems to have no heart except to pursue its present vain imaginings. With the greatest chance any people ever had to secure a strong foundation for future human justice and dignity, we stand on the brink of losing all such hopes because we haven't the patience to think through and act upon the principles on which they depend.

Isn't this our greatest crisis? Do you really believe we can withstand it behind leaders who will not truly acknowledge its existence? Michael Steele says that his job is to work for his Party's victory. What good are Party victories if they are gained by casting aside the discipline, heart and spirit of our present and future liberty? I know that conservatives want to thwart Obama's marxist schemes. I share that goal. But I will not join with people who are seeking to defeat one false hope with another. Rather I think we should have the courage to understand and articulate the real hope, the moral hope that our nation is supposed to represent. Then, trusting in the strength that it bestows, we will be able to do what Americans have done before- against all odds we will conserve our freedom for new generations to come.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Steele Slips Again, But America Should not Fall for it

Once again we are supposed to believe that Michael Steele had a slip of the tongue. This time in an Interview with GQ magazine which included the following exchange:


"The choice issue cuts two ways. You can choose life, or you can choose abortion," he said. "My mother chose life. So I think the power of the argument of choice boils down to stating a case for one or the other."

Interviewer Lisa DePaulo asked: "Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?"

Steele replied: "Yeah. I mean, again, I think that's an individual choice."

DePaulo: "You do?"

Steele: "Yeah. Absolutely."

DePaulo: "Are you saying you don't want to overturn Roe v. Wade?"

Steele: "I think Roe v. Wade — as a legal matter, Roe v. Wade was a wrongly decided matter."

DePaulo: "Okay, but if you overturn Roe v. Wade, how do women have the choice you just said they should have?"

Steele: "The states should make that choice. That's what the choice is. The individual choice rests in the states. Let them decide."


Twice before on this site (look under the topic GOP failure) I have discussed Steele's departure from the pro-life stance. Yet in a way not clearly in evidence before, this interview reveals the insidious character of the argument Steele represents. According to this argument, individual choices are not subject to interference by the Federal government. Rather you state the case for one side or the other, and let the individual decide. The problem is, of course, that matters of justice, of right and wrong, always involve individual choices. The choice to rob, lie, cheat and murder are all individual choices. The choice to rape, kidnap and enslave another is an individual choice. The choice to serve or not to serve someone in a restaurant, on account of their race, is an individual choice. Obviously the real issue is not whether individuals are free to choose between right and wrong. That's been clear since Eve made her fateful decision to eat the forbidden fruit. The issue is when and whether they have the right to choose as they do.

American liberty is founded on the premise that we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. This premise is not a statement about human aspirations. It's a statement about right and wrong. An unalienable right can be transgressed by individuals and governments, but the premise of liberty forbids the assertion that those who transgress they have the right to do so. Right is not on the side of government when it commits or tolerates murder, theft and terror against the innocent. Individuals and laws that do so are inherently unjust, and powers used in this way are not lawful powers.

Steele consistently maintains that issues, like abortion, that involve respect for unalienable rights, are properly decided at the state rather than the Federal level. But the premise of liberty makes no such distinction. Respect for unalienable rights is required of human governments at any and all levels, because the just powers of all such governments are derived from the people's exercise of those rights. As the Federal government only has the powers delegated to it by the states, so the state governments only have the powers delegated to them by the people. But the "unalienable" aspect of each person's rights means that such rights cannot be given away, not under any circumstances. What the people cannot rightly give, the states cannot rightly claim.

But the premise of liberty includes the notion that "to secure these rights governments are instituted among men." Though government cannot claim the power to transgress against unalienable rights, the foundational purpose of government entails the obligation to preserve and respect them. No government powers are just except those derived from the only source consistent with this obligation, which is the consent of the people. Clearly however, the idea of consent based on respect for unalienable rights does not mean that the people have the right to do whatever they please, since they cannot rightly do anything that alienates (contradicts or surrenders) their unalienable rights. In this sense, government of by and for the people, is limited government: not only limited by the terms of its constitution, but by the purpose and terms of its institution or establishment. Liberty therefore is not identical with a simply unlimited freedom to choose. Individuals are free to choose actions that violate unalienable right, but they cannot claim the right to do so.

When, in their individual or collective capacity, people choose to violate unalienable rights they transgress liberty. Since liberty is its essential characteristic, this transgression effectively abandons the republican form of government. When an individual commits this transgression, it is a criminal act. When a government commits this transgression, it is an unlawful government. Under our constitution the supervision of this transgression when committed by individuals, has been left to the states. But if and when a state or states neglect this supervision, the U.S. Constitution (Article IV, section 4) explicitly requires that the government of the United States guarantee a republican form of government in each of the states. Like the guarantor of a loan, it must intervene to make good any deficiency in the states' respect for its requirements. Michael Steele's assertion that the states have the exclusive right to decide the issue of abortion is therefore incorrect. They should have the opportunity to decide it (which is one of the reasons the Roe v. Wade decision was prudentially wrong) but if they decide, by action or neglect, in favor of committing or allowing the violation of unalienable right, the Federal government has the Constitutional obligation to intervene. On abortion it may be sensible, after so many years of misplaced respect for the unlawful Roe v. Wade decision, to make this obligation clear to all the states by Federal legislation in some form. This could help to avoid miscalculations that might disrupt our civil peace. For this reason I think that such legislation, including a Constitutional amendment may be prudent. However, our reasoning here makes clear that it is not legally or Constitutionally necessary.

Finally, I think it's time we all stopped pretending that Steele's persistent advocacy of the "pro-choice" position is an accident, or a slip of the tongue. I believe these episodes are purposeful. His actions are meant to assert the fallacy that it is pro-life to be pro-choice. But this means accepting the position that at some level the choice to murder an innocent human being is consistent with respect for the unalienable right to life. Except we embrace the noxious position that right and wrong choices are equally just, this is not and can never be a pro-life view. Except we abandon the whole idea of unalienable right, this is not and can never be a view consistent with American liberty.

I think that Steele and the people he represents have gotten away with this disingenuous effort to warp, distract and mislead the pro-life movement for long enough. This issue is vital to the survival of America's free institutions. People of conscience deserve a frank and purposeful debate about it, not a sly attempt at argument by inadvertence. To that end I challenge Michael Steele to face me in such a debate, in a venue open to scrutiny by the general public. Though the courage to debate is not the test of truth, it may be a test of true conviction. I claim to be pro-life because I have stood that test, against Barack Obama, Alan Dershowitz and others. Why should pro-life people accept Steele's protestations of pro-life conviction if he refuses to do so?

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

North Carolina Judge Assaults Mother’s Right

In my last post, as I listed areas of life where the imposition of socialist tyranny will produce the enslavement of conscience, I referred to the fact that "Parents will be required, without exception to surrender their children for indoctrination by the state." I'm sure the usual purblind skeptics dismissed the thought as another example of rhetorical hyperbole. Providence came to its defense today in the form of a report out of North Carolina where "a judge has ordered three children to attend public schools this fall because the homeschooling their mother has provided over the last four years needs to be 'challenged.' The children, however, have tested above their grade levels - by as much as two years."

Judge Ned Mangum did not usurp Ms. Mills right to decide the best education for her children because the schooling she provided was academically deficient. He is reported to have "stated that his decision was not ideologically or religiously motivated but that ordering the children into public schools would 'challenge the ideas you've taught them.'" As reported, I'm not sure whether that statement is an example of self-evident dishonesty or shocking ignorance, but either way it makes hash out of the notion that Mangum is better qualified than their mother to decide the educational path of her children. The word "ideological" literally refers to that which gives an account of ideas, or is done on account of them. So if he sends the children to public schools in order to make sure the mother's ideas are challenged his decision is precisely ideological. If, when he made the statement, he knew the meaning of the word, then he spoke dishonestly. If he did not know it, then he revealed such deficiency in his own education as to raise serious doubts about his qualifications to make judgments about anyone else's. (In the U.S. lawyers get a doctorate when they graduate from law school, right?)

But the deeper issue goes beyond this or any other judge's capacity or qualifications. It has rather to do with the natural right of parents to fulfill their responsibility before God for their children's upbringing. A mother who seeks to assure that her children will receive an education that reflects her conscientious beliefs as to their moral welfare, does precisely what the laws of nature and of nature's God require of her. She does what is right. In light of her right, the state (including any judge acting on its behalf) is obliged to refrain from interference with her action unless, by dint of proven wrongdoing, it can assert the obligation to act on behalf of some superior right of the children (or their other parent) to prevent or correct the wrong. No such wrongdoing has been suggested in this case. In fact her husband, whose adultery his lawyer admits to be the cause of their ruined marriage, acknowledges that Ms. Mills "has done a good job with the homeschooling of the children."

Judge Mangum is reported to have said that "public school would 'prepare these kids for the real world and college' and allow them 'socialization'. But if his idea of socialization includes the need to challenge the Christian ideas their mother has taught them, then he not only interferes with her natural right to raise up her children, he tramples on one of the most important elements of the free exercise of religion. When one individual or group forcibly takes away the children of another in order to raise those children according to beliefs foreign to the beliefs and conscience of their parents, it is an unconscionable act of injustice and bigotry. What this judge does under specious color of law is no different than what their Spanish persecutors once did to Jewish People in Spain, or what American slaveholders in the nineteenth century did to the children torn away from their mothers to be sold into slavery in some distant state.

It may be to our credit that we speak of these things calmly, and seek to settle them by peaceful means in our courts of law. But this decent restraint should not lead us to forget the enormity of the issues involved; issues that have throughout human history roused deep indignation, humiliation and implacable anger, such as eventually ignite the heart's dry timber of grievance into the consuming flames of hateful war. As good people have lived and sacrificed to do right by their children, so also they have died, if need be.

Are we now so distracted by our little pleasures and playthings that we have no sense of the wounds we are inflicting upon the hearts and consciences of decent people? They know that the higher law of justice demands that they resist tyranny, even though black robed and velvet gloved. They must especially resist it when it reaches into their homes to deliver their children to what their consciences declare to be corruption. Our founding creed says that we should suffer while evils are sufferable. Children are done to death in the womb. Their parents' rights and duty towards them cast aside in the courts. All in the midst of times when the Constitution that may be the highest manifestation of our common sense of law and justice is treated with no more respect than an old TV guide.

When will it be enough to rouse us from complacency? When will we see enough to make out the pattern before our eyes? We see the disparate elements. We react to each with a little outburst, a little temper, perhaps a little prayer. But from a judge's usurpation of a mother's natural right to educate her children, to what may be the contemptuous usurpation of the highest office in the land, the elements come together to evince a design. Is it the design for despotism of which our Founders spoke? Despotism is such an odd and unfamiliar sounding word: so rarely used, so little understood. But this ignorance too has its place in the design. It's hard to rouse hearts to meet danger when the words to describe it have gone out of style. "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty…" to let arrogant judges, politicians and bureaucrats dispose of the souls of their children, and the charter of their liberty, and the future of their country. Is that how it goes? Is that how you remember it?

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Obama Faction Moves to Make Medical Workers “Slaves in Conscience”

Starting today, and for the next thirty days, the Department of Health and Human Services will be "accepting comments from the public on a proposal by the Obama administration to completely rescind federal regulations placed into effect by former President Bush that protect the right to conscience for healthcare workers….The regulation mandated federally funded health institutions to certify their compliance with existing federal laws that uphold the rights of doctors and nurses to refuse a medical service on religious or moral grounds."(Obama Publishes Proposal to Rescind 'Conscience' Rule) With this and several other decisions (repeal of the so-called Mexico City Policy; an executive order allowing Federal funds to be used to support research involving the destruction of the embryonic form of human life; the nomination of a rabid pro-abortion extremist as Secretary of HHS) Obama implicates the whole people of the United States in his own pitiless promotion of abortion at any cost. The only thing so far lacking is an effort to repeal or supercede the law that prevents implementation in Federal Hospitals of his depraved support for infanticide in cases where a baby is born alive in consequence of a failed abortion. Catholics and other professing Christians should take note. Except they repent of it, those who voted for Barrack Obama surely face grim judgment from the Supreme judge of the World for their enlistment in the electoral army of this paragon of evil. But even before such judgment in the next life, in this life we will all have to suffer the grim consequences of his abandonment of respect for the unalienable rights to life and liberty.

The reaction to Obama's policies has rightly focused on the relentless implementation of his morbidly pro-abortion views. Though morally repugnant, his consistent support for these views throughout his relatively brief political career prevents sincere surprise from anyone even superficially acquainted with it (unless they are Republicans who expected Obama to imitate the deceitful practices of all too many Republican politicos who are pro-life on the stump and AWOL in the clinches.) Given the hoopla surrounding the false claim that his election represents a breakthrough for black Americans, however, what should be profoundly shocking is his willingness to be the focus and tool of an historic effort to reintroduce the worst aspects of human slavery into the United States, this time extended beyond an oppressed portion of the population to encompass people regardless of race or pigmentation.

In my previous post, I alluded to "the moral degradation that Frederick Douglass and others held to be the greatest misery of my slave ancestors." These words bring to my mind the deep humiliation of married women and mothers, forced to act as concubines to serve the lusts of their so-called masters. It brings to mind husbands and brothers forced to tolerate this degradation of their loved ones, or be subjected to the lash for fighting against it as God and conscience required of them. It brings to mind other enslaved people forced to inflict such punishment upon their fellows; or to give unwilling service to those who did so, even including forced labor to build the scaffolds from which apprehended rebels against slavery and degradation were hung by the neck to edify and terrorize anyone tempted to imitate their courage. Slavery to my mind has never meant only the spectacle of bodies bent to hard labor in the fields, for free men and women also must toil. That is the lot of all humanity. Rather it means the searing contemplation of souls tortured by burning anger and indignation against injustice, which they are helpless to act upon; of consciences racked by the defiling knowledge of their complicity with the very evil that abuses them, and shamed by the fear that deters them from rejecting it, until in all too many ways the habit of submission finally stupefies and deadens the pangs. It is the thought of anguished prayers raised up to the almighty God, that He would deliver them from their humiliating servitude to evil, until it seems the strength of faith gives out, and prayers are tempted to cynicism and despair.

This is the essence of that slavery, which the Obama faction now means to impose upon all our health care workers. Because some people wish to do and benefit from evil, others must become its tools and instruments, against their will. Because some wish to escape responsibility for the nascent life invoked by their cries of sexual ecstasy, others must accept complicity in the murders that carry out their will. At the very least the people who embrace this foul cult of human child sacrifice should have to do the dirty work themselves. But when has evil been content to wallow in its own excrement? The very pride that impels it to defy the boundaries of decent conscience rouses its resentment against those who, by standing apart from its rituals announce their condemnation of its crimes. As it was with slavery, so it is now. Evil does not accept a house divided, but will "press forward" until "It will become all one thing, or all the other."

What the Obama faction proposes to do now, without warrant in law, implements what by law it wishes, but does not yet have the legislative strength to do: secure passage of the deceitfully misnamed Freedom of Choice Act. Because both the proposed regulatory action and the FOCA deal mainly with abortion, people mistakenly think that what is at stake is just the controversy over abortion. But it must be increasingly evident to all but the most stubbornly blind among us that government control of the banks and the health care system is only the first stage in the imposition of complete government control of every aspect of our economic lives. In service to this aim, the Obama faction moves to bankrupt the nation, so that none will have the wherewithal and will to resist their coup d'état. Today they move to make all health care workers slaves in conscience to the state. Soon and very soon, this shall be the fate of us all. Our soldiers and police are being trained and will be required to move against the right to keep and bear arms, born of our unalienable right to preserve and defend the innocent lives of others. Our pastors, rabbis and other religious leaders will be required to surrender the right to live according to their beliefs whenever their free exercise of religion runs counter to the demands of "gay pride", the selfish-esteem of homosexuals; or the anti-religious bigotry of atheists who cannot bear to hear the prayers of others. Parents will be required, without exception to surrender their children for indoctrination by the state. Scientists and technical people will be required to lend their knowledge and expertise to refine and operate the instruments of surveillance that utterly destroy all privacy, and the instruments of mollification (chemical and otherwise) that utterly subvert the will. And so on.

With every extension of state control will come a new sacrifice of conscience, of decency and goodwill. And like my enslaved ancestors, many of us will raise up anguished prayers to almighty God, to deliver us from our humiliating servitude to evil, until perhaps the strength of faith gives out and we are tempted into cynicism and despair. Was it for this so many fought and died? Was it for this, they were planted as seeds of freedom? So that we could harvest the gut wrenching bile of moral subjection, and face the galling prospect that our children or our children's children will not remember enough of freedom to be dissatisfied? Too bad we have so little patience for the best flowers of our thought and language or it might occur to us, at least in spirit and will, to "take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing, end them." But we seem now to lack more than words. We lack spirit, and will and courage. Else in the next thirty days not just pro-lifers, but everyone who cares a whit for conscience and true liberty would direct a tidal wave of comments toward the bureaucrats at HHS, defending the health care workers' rights of conscience in the hope that we will thus safeguard our own. Visit www.regulations.gov, to look for a way to do just that.

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