Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

Defending Ron Paul, Since I must

14.12.2011 (4:17 pm) – Filed under: Conservatism,Libertarianism,Politics ::

As the valiant and few readers of this once-great blog are undoubtedly aware, I’ve not been writing much – or even thinking much – about politics lately. You may also be aware that, while I have a certain sympatico with Ron Paul’s small-government, balanced-budget mindset, I also regard him as a bit of a kook.

Nevertheless, when verbal and literary conservative-on-conservative violence escalates to the point of ridiculousness, as now, I find I must speak up, even through the multiple levels of apathy that form my disinterest in the ugly farce is the winnowing process as we know it.

What’s got me so irked? David Swindle’s column bashing Ron Paul contains some valuable food for thought for those wavering on the event horizon of Paul’s influence singularity; however, Swindle goes too far with this outrageously childish bit of non-transitive logic:

If you believe that the ideas of the Old Right have great value and that we should have followed a “non-interventionist” path during the rise of Nazism then you are an antisemite [sic]. You know good and well that the practical consequence of American inaction would have meant an even higher body count in the Holocaust. But dead Jews are apparently not something that concerns you much.

False. There were many valid reasons for not interfering in internal German politics in the 1930s, notably a little economic downturn called the Great Depression. Heard of it, David? The fact is, America had all she could do to stay afloat while Hitler was consolidating power.

Moreover, a casual student of American demographics will be aware that a significant percentage of immigrants to this country came from Germany or neighboring counties. Sympathy with Germany the fatherland, as opposed to Germany the fascist state, was significant, even compared with the strength of our ties to Great Britain. It was hardly a no-brainer to go to war a second time with Germany, particularly when our WW I allies were mincing around the issue themselves.

Now, Swindle is undoubtedly correct in saying more Jews would have died in Hitler’s ovens if the U.S. had not become involved in WW II. The Nazis would not have been defeated without our contribution, so no other argument is possible.

Nevertheless, to equate non-interventionism with anti-Semitism is both outrageous and fallacious. The many valuable successes of post-WW II American interventionism notwithstanding – Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, anyone? – there is no inherent value in our nation becoming embroiled in foreign entanglements. Each action must be carefully weighed and pursued on its own merits. This is what our leaders were doing, in fact, when Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and lost the war for the Axis by forcing us to take sides against them. Perhaps we would have done so anyway, but it is pure folly on Swindle’s part to believe that our participation on the side of the Allies was either demanded or inevitable.

Similarly, the manner in which Swindle applies the anti-Semite label to Dr. Paul – the only popular libertarian presidential candidate in recent memory – nearly 80 years later is galling. It’s clear to me that traditional conservatives are threatened by Paul. This fear causes them to lose their cool and say foolish things. In his panic, Swindle presents such a severe and personal bias against Paul as to render the question of his own impartiality void and his words valueless.

Is Michael Steele Chasing Black Voters Away from the GOP?

21.04.2010 (10:06 pm) – Filed under: Conservatism,Politics ::

RNC Chairman Michael Steele was asked Tuesday night during a speech to roughly 200 students at DePaul University why African-Americans should vote for GOP candidates. It seems that every time I read about him, Republican National Chairman Michael Steele is saying something that’s indicative of a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease, if not some worse malady.  Speaking to DePaul University students in Chicago yesterday, Steele made himself look bad and his party worse by talking about the GOP’s problem attracting black voters:

Why should an African-American vote Republican?

"You really don’t have a reason to, to be honest — we haven’t done a very good job of really giving you one. True? True."

True? Hardly. Black Americans have the opportunity to become very successful in this country. That sort of financial success, when obtained, will inevitably lead people of any race, creed, or color directly to the political party whose main platform plank for the last several decades has been one of lower taxes.

Yes, the GOP has an image problem. But it’s simply untrue for Steele or anyone else to say that the party of smaller government will not benefit black Americans as much as anyone else should they achieve in life.

How hard would it have been for Steele to say that rather than playing to the “Oh, woe is me, poor people don’t like us” mentality that seems to run the GOP lately?

The truth is that Democrats have the home-field advantage when it comes to courting lower-income voters simply because they are the party of big government and expanding entitlements. Their strategy is to buy votes with other people’s money.

Republicans need a leader who can credibly state the truth, which is that conservative political and economic policies will lead to the greater good in the long run by creating an environment in which more people can succeed than in liberals’ oft-envisioned nanny state.

That leader is evidently not Michael Steele.

Liberals Moan Over Right-wing Book Sales

10.11.2009 (8:01 am) – Filed under: Conservatism,Liberalism,Literature ::

Don Surber says that the lefties are getting their knickers in a twist because conservative authors such as Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, and others are selling too many books.

What’s wrong with writing something that people actually want to read?

…the left is wetting itself over this.

The Huffington Post asked: “Should The New York Times create a separate bestseller list for conservative blockbusters? Think of the history: we have a children’s bestseller list because of “Harry Potter” — Harry was knocking adult books off the top spots on the hardcover fiction list so publishers complained. The same thing must be true for Beck, Palin, Cheney, Bush (George W. and Laura), Malkin and others.”

So typical of the losers on the left. They can’t compete straight up, logic for logic, idea for idea, book for book. One can almost hear the red-faced panting of their failed efforts as they wheeze, unable to keep up with their betters.

“Not. Fair. Can’t. Do. It. Must redefine playing field so we can compete.”

That axiom, so central to the heart of leftist thinking, is the definitive hallmark of failure.

You want to sell some liberal pulp in book form? Write something that people actually care about instead of the self-indulgent drivel that passes for free thinking. Tropic of Cancer, anyone?

Perfecting Man, the Impossible Dream

25.09.2009 (6:05 pm) – Filed under: Conservatism,Liberalism,Society ::

Thomas Sowell thinks the difference between conservatives and liberals has to do with their views about the perfectability of man.

Sowell argues that when it comes to the culture wars, each of us will be drawn to a specific trench not because of policies or parties but rather because of the vision we may hold of human beings and how they are constructed.

Michael van der Gailen agrees, to a point:

Liberals believe in the perfectibility of man, conservatives do not.

But I wonder whether it’s all as black and white as it appears – some conservatives may believe, for instance, that man can improve himself significantly but that there are (biological and spiritual) limits to this personal  evolution.

The same goes for society of course.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Thomas Sowell – he’s a brilliant guy who makes me look like an intellectual plodder.  And while I think that there are fundamental differences in the way libs and cons view mankind, I don’t think that Sowell has identified the right root cause behind those views.

In fact, liberalism is based not on the assumption of man’s perfectability but rather on the impossibility of human perfection.  Hence the emphasis on sharing of wealth, resources, and risk in the form of government programs and financial redistribution.  Liberalism is all about the collective at the expense of the individual, precisely because the core leftist belief is that men need to be helped into achieving satisfactory outcomes.  Moreover, those few individuals who do achieve greatly must be penalizing and forced into helping raise their beaten competitors to a higher plain of existence.

Conservatives, on the other hand, prize individual achievement much more than social equality and parity of outcomes.  I believe this is because right-wing thinkers have both more faith in a Creator and more faith in individuals’ ability to provide for their own needs, reach their goals, and achieve great things.  The evidence is everywhere in conservative thinking, starting with the tenet that individuals should be allowed to create their own wealth and, having earned it, to keep it for their own purposes.

Perhaps what Sowell means is that liberals believe in the perfectability of society as whole.  That is certainly true, as demonstrated by the left’s continued agitation for social change, regardless of of the actual negative effects their thinking and programs have had on western culture.

Laissez Faire capitalism is, in fact, the natural state of mankind in an environment in which basic personal safety is relatively assured.  Modern western political and social systems vary in their methods and levels of restricting unbridled competition; the essential question dividing liberal and conservative is to what degree capitalism should be constrained.  The answer each of us gives depends in large part on whether we believe society can engineer itself to a higher level or not.

The facts of the last 40 years speak plainly to me and say that the answer is, “No.”

Why We Protest

12.09.2009 (2:17 pm) – Filed under: Conservatism,Politics ::

image The streets of Washington D.C. are filled with citizens who want President Obama and the Democratic leadership to reconsider the massive government-sponsored reorganization of the nation’s healthcare system.

These protesters, many of them politically involved for the first time in their lives, have come from across the nation with a purpose: to let the federal government know that they do not want any further expansion of federal authority or spending, particularly in the sensitive area of personal health.

Some liberals in Congress and in the media are still trying to spin this massive protest against the left wing’s agenda as artificial, “astroturf-ed” into existence by Big Business and rich Republican fat cats.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

more »

A Phoenix in the Ashes

09.02.2009 (5:51 pm) – Filed under: Conservatism,Liberalism,Libertarianism ::

Michael at the PoliGazette has embarked on a couple of exciting opportunities in his native country of The Netherlands, one of which landed him on national TV there today.  Congrats to Michael for his hard-earned and well-deserved success!

Michael’s summary call to action for his countrymen is simply this: "Let’s conservatize this country!". 

This is a great message that could serve equally well in the United States as a rallying cry for conservatives and libertarians to come together and reclaim this country.  Doing so won’t be easy.  While they agree on many fronts, conservatives and libertarians do not always see eye-to-eye on important issues such as drug legalization and the use of the military.

This was made clear to me yesterday during a conversation with a Christian friend with whom I often agree.  I wasn’t surprised to hear that his is giving Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt for the moment.  This is a wise choice, in my view, particularly since we seem to have little choice.

However, I was flabbergasted to hear him say that he felt as though it was time for the liberals to "have their say" in governing the country, particularly with regard to the court systems.  I was literally stunned to silence.  While those on the left would undoubtedly agree with my friend, additional movement to the left on the part of our courts is the last thing this country needs.

Judicial activism is rampant at all levels of the justice system and the Supreme Court is hardly immune.  Indeed, liberal excesses such as the 1960s Affirmative Action and the 1970s Roe v. Wade are still in place, upheld by the high court’s rulings, many of which are based on what can only be called dubious interpretations of the Constitution.  This despite the fact that Republicans have controlled the White House during most of the last 30 years.  Do liberals "deserve" even more control over the judiciary branch?  Absolutely not.

That’s why it’s imperative that libertarians and conservatives find ways to work through contentious issues and form a coalition based on traditional, Constitutional values in order to restore what remains of the social fabric of this country, the strongest threads of which have been severely damaged by the left’s misguided, radical takeover of the social agenda.

We’ll have to compromise in order to get along.  That’s never easy.  I understand completely.  But there are worse things for a libertarian that compromising with a conservative.  For instance, perhaps we could agree to legalize marijuana while continuing to prohibit hard drugs.  Or perhaps we could scale back Roe to allow abortion only during the first trimester.  Hard choices, for sure, but it’s better than sitting on the sidelines watching the Democrats destroy this country.

If a comprehensive set of conservative/libertarian/moderate compromises can be accomplished, perhaps the phoenix that is America will rise again from the ashes left behind by the liberal left’s burning down of personal responsibility, the Christian church, marriage, and the nuclear family.  If not, the fire that burns in the belly of many Americans will go out completely, for liberalism offers nothing but all-consuming, destructive change that will stop only when there is nothing left to burn.

Culture War’s End in Sight? Not Likely.

30.01.2009 (8:00 pm) – Filed under: Abortion,Conservatism,Liberalism,Politics,Religion ::

Damon Linker writes at The New Republic that it’s not beyond the pale to think that Barack Obama may be able to lead liberals to a victory in the decades-old culture war.  How?  By subtle, gradual conversion away from conservative positions on 3 traditional value issues: Church/State Separation, Homosexual Rights/Gay Marriage, and Abortion.

Not bloody likely, in my estimation.  Then again, ordinary Americans undoubtedly felt safe in their majority at the beginning of the left’s radicalization, certain that both right and numbers were on their side.  Conservatives should beware now, as they should have half a century ago.

It should be remembered that it was the left that declared the culture war in the first place.  After all, America was in one state in 1961 and an entirely different one in 1965.  It wasn’t the right and center of American society that were in the streets burning down the country, it was the left.  Now the radicals want an end to the fighting. 

On what terms?  I ask.  And Damon answers.

Church/State Separation

Mr. Linker lands with both feet squarely on former President Bush, saying “the president was telling them [non-believers] that their failure to conform to traditionalist Catholic-Christian moral teaching made them bad citizens.”

This is nonsense but it serves to springboard Damon to his real point, which is that he thinks Obama can lure conservatives away from their position – namely that some Christian morality and expressions thereof are good for the nation’s soul and belong in schools, courtrooms, and legislatures – by simply not discussing the issue.

That idea is a non-starter because, though the far left makes a practice of demeaning the intelligence of conservative Christians, the fact that monuments to the 10 Commandments are being removed from county courthouses, high school football games can no longer start with a much-needed prayer, and the ACLU is still witch-hunting after teachers who dare to bring a Bible to school will not escape them.

Christianity has always been a central feature of American life.  In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote:

In the United States the sovereign authority is religious,… there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.

If only that were still so.

What middle America – I’m speaking both geographically and politically here – didn’t know in the 1960s was the degree of ferocity the radical liberals of the Baby Boom would use to further their agenda.  The Silent Majority could not stand against them but that does not mean the America that existed before the Summer of Love has been forgotten.

Although the generations that were brought up in an American still based on Christian morality are fading fast, enough of the historical record documenting the relative peace and prosperity that existed prior to the radicalization of liberalism still exists to inform current conservative leaders.

Unfortunately, history is a thin thread compared to the left’s extreme liberalization of the political, judicial, and educational systems.  Perhaps Linker is correct then, for history can be obfuscated and/or revised and is often forgotten by the very people who ought to heed its lessons.

Homosexual Rights/Gay Marriage

Damon says that the right has already lost the battle over gay marriage.  He’s overly optimistic as the passage of Prop. 8 in California, by far the most liberal state in the nation, demonstrates.  It is not often that the citizenry rebukes a state supreme court in such public fashion. 

Logical consideration shows that homosexual rights and gay marriage are distinct issues.  Our legal and medical systems do unfairly discriminate against homosexuals by denying them the same rights as heteros.  The right to will property to and utilize the medical benefits of a gay partner should be affirmed as elemental to citizenship.

Gay marriage is another issue altogether and one on which I trust I’ve previously made my position clear.  Suffice to say that a majority of Americans believe as I do, that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman.  Moreover, American Christians will not accept any other definition of the institution.  Period.  Nor should they.  The entire history of mankind supports this line of thinking and conservatives are correct to believe that America has gone quite far enough in accommodating so-called alternative lifestyles.

Abortion

The way forward on abortion, Damon says, is through compromise up to and including the narrowing or reversing of Roe v. Wade.  The far left is utterly unable to accept such an outcome peacefully; however, it is the only way that this issue can ever be resolved to the satisfaction of a sizable majority. 

Linker’s most excellent argument:

this is the core of the problem. Roe “settled” the question of abortion by saying that the pro-choice side wins 100 percent of the time, now and forever: America is a pro-choice nation and those who don’t like it can (respectfully) go to hell. No wonder we’ll still fighting these battles 36 years later. (This is also why it’s so unfortunate that Tim [Fernholz] is content to tell abortion opponents, in effect, to go fuck themselves: if abortion rights make “the religious right angry, that’s what happens in a liberal democracy.” No, what normally happens in a liberal democracy is that two sides in a rancorous public debate seek to reach a compromise

Indeed, the problem is the same on all 3 issues under discussion but none more so than abortion.

To imagine, as radical feminists groups purport to do, that Christians will ever accept the status quo of Roe is to live in a fantasy world.  For an excellent discussion of why this is, read Gary Graham’s essay at Big Hollywood.  There’s little more to add than what Gary has written here. 

An important snippet:

I’m telling you, once you draw that line and say this is the moment it’s a human being…you’ve lost the argument. Because it’s arbitrary. On this date it’s a baby, but yesterday it was just a bunch of cells…this blob of a nothing and you can do anything you want with it, it’s okay. Babies have been born premature in the second trimester and lived. Happens all the time. So please, somebody tell me how is taking a baby and delivering all but the head, then plunging a tube into its skull and sucking the brains out…how is that not murder? This is what happens in partial-birth abortions, and unfortunately, this happens all the time, too.

And we as a nation…as a people…are all right with this?

I understand the hate that is leveled at someone like me who reminds people of this. To contemplate the reality is daunting. The act is horrendous and made more tragic when you consider the numbers of babies that are being disposed of every day.

Our willingness to tolerate such a holocaust says volumes of how our entire culture has been coarsened.

Still, I do think that a significant number of Christians would agree to lay down arms on this issue if abortion were restricted to the first trimester, for example.  Not all, not by any stretch of the imagination.  But enough that a solid center could be formed on this issue, if the left could reciprocate.

The question of whether the left can compromise on abortion is similar to that posed of moderate Muslims in the Middle East.  Will the moderates who are in the vast majority be able to reign in the destructive tendencies of the radicals?

Given the lessons that can be drawn from the initial phase of the war the left declared on America in the 1960s, the answer is a clear “No”.  Radicals fight with the single-minded purpose and strength of cornered animals, whether it makes sense to fight or not and whether their cause is right or not.

The cause of abortion is not right, make no mistake.  But they will fight on anyway, to the literal death, at least of the children.

The Republican Base’s Candidates

22.11.2008 (9:47 pm) – Filed under: Conservatism,Politics ::

Barack Obama hasn’t even taken office yet, so It’s ridiculous to consider the 2012 presidential race.  But Gallup’s new poll identifies the right’s current candidates of choice for the nomination and the results are interesting because they fail to support Kathleen Parker’s recent assertion that social conservatives are on the way out. 

So who do right of center voters want to have in the 2012 race? 

Per Gallup, the three leading Republican candidates are Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee, all of whom openly confess having strong religious faith.  In fact, so strong is the preference for socially conservative candidates that no other candidate was desired by more than 50% of those polled.

Sounds like Ms. Parker is the one out of step with real Republican voters, not the social conservatives she mocks for their age, traditions, and Christian faith.

Huckabee, Taxes, and Leadership

18.11.2008 (7:25 am) – Filed under: Conservatism,Politics ::

Mike Huckabee was my guy in the 2008 presidential election and it was pretty exciting to see him speak in person and to shake hands with the man afterward.  It was also disappointing to see his chances end in Texas, a state that should have gone his way rather than ~60/40% McCain.

Mike Huckabee’s new book is out and in it he says, after ripping many of his competitors, that people like me are the “real threat” to the Republican party.  Time:

He is not so much concerned with the libertarian candidate Ron Paul’s Republican supporters as he is with a strain of mainstream fiscal-conservative thought that demands ideological purity, seeing any tax increase as apostasy and leaving little room for government-driven solutions to people’s problems.

“I don’t take issue with what they believe, but the smugness with which they believe it,” writes Huckabee, who raised some taxes as governor and cut deals with his state’s Democratic legislature. “Faux-Cons aren’t interested in spirited or thoughtful debate, because such an endeavor requires accountability for the logical conclusion of their argument.”

Something tells me that Mike might not be getting my vote next time around.  This is not the voice that Republicans need from a fiscal perspective.  Where is the Republican leader who will reject the Bush administration’s spending extravaganza?  Who will remember that one critical principle of conservatism is that the purpose of government is not to solve people’s problems?

It’s not? 

No.  The government exists to ensure national security, domestic tranquility, and to create a framework for trade; i.e., business.  It’s not to create a bloated welfare state or ensure that the wealth is spread around.

From the perspective of a true conservative, new taxes for infrastructure might make sense because a new highway might reduce transportation costs and make new business ventures possible or increase the success of existing ones.  Alternatively, a new tax to fund a healthcare plan doesn’t make sense because there’s no direct correlation with the purpose of government.

What should also be considered quite seriously is the financial health of the United States.  Speaking frankly, the generation that is leading the nation at the moment has to come to its fiscal senses.  The baby boomers cannot be allowed to drain the country dry of its remaining resources.  That’s exactly what will happen if they persist in adding more and more unfunded programs to the welfare and healthcare side of the economic ledger.

The cut-down 30 minute of I.O.U.S.A, a great movie about the state of America’s financial health, makes that perfectly clear.  This short film cuts right to the heart of the U.S.’s financial and leadership problems and should be considered required viewing for every American because that fact is that we can’t keep doing what we’re doing.

Mike Huckabee needs to recognize that fundamental fact if he’s going to become a major figure in the Republican party.  If he thinks voters like me are the problem, he’s dead wrong.  In fact, if that’s truly his belief, he’s the problem and we’ll look elsewhere for a solution to the present woes of the conservative movement.

Obama’s Wealth Redistribution – He Likes It and We Like Him For It

28.10.2008 (9:12 pm) – Filed under: Conservatism,Finance,Liberalism,Politics ::

Chris Coffey says, “Of course Senator Obama wants to redistribute wealth. The real story is that Republicans are still trying to convince voters of such an obvious point just one week before the election.”

McCain and Palin can try as hard as they want to sell that can of Spam as Grade A Beef but it ain’t gonna work.  It’s certainly true that the basis of liberalism is confiscatory taxation and welfare.  The problem that fiscal conservatives have is that too many Americans have come to accept the liberal premise as gospel.  Where have all our principles gone?

I mean that question sincerely because, to the extent that people cast their vote for Candidate X because they will be granted more governmental largess than if the other guy/gal is elected, we have a serious problem with the electoral system. 

Such a voting pattern will inevitably lead to the wrong leaders being chosen because all a politician must do to be elected is promise to spend more tax dollars than the competition.  That’s a recipe for disaster in a country that already has massive entitlement programs and even larger debts that it’s been unsuccessful paying down.

Moreover, the “I-vote-for-big-spenders-because-I-get-bigger-checks” pattern is self-reinforcing.  People who vote themselves a tax reduction in 2008 while increasing taxes on corporations aren’t going to undo that change in 2012 because then they’d be giving “their” money away.  Conversely, voters who are left out of the 2008 redistribution are going to attempt to get a piece of what’s left of the pie in 2012.

Coffey says that this math doesn’t work for Barack Obama or anyone else.  Here’s why:

The good news is that Obama’s plans to redistribute wealth do not add up.  He cannot cut taxes on 95% of working families, provide universal health care and balance the budget, as promised.

The bad news is that we do not really know what Barack Obama will do as president.  Will he increase the deficit even more?  Raise taxes on additional families?  Give us universal health care? Or chart a different path all together?

We do know that if Obama fulfills his spending promises, then he will have to raise taxes on the middle class if he expects to balance the budget. That means even more wealth redistribution.

By then it will be too late for ordinary, productively-employed Americans to stop him.  First Obama will tax the rich and few will complain.  The wealthy ought to pay more than their fair share, after all.  Noblesse Oblige.  But the liberals will come for the middle class after the rich have been bled out. 

This is all for our own good, you understand.  We need the progressive’s entitlements to survive:  universal health care, social security, medicare, welfare, affirmative action, et al – each program is necessary for the country to continue to progress.  Or so they say.

It’s been said that democracy works until the people realize that they can vote themselves checks from the government.  Well, the people have known it for some time now and the politicians have responded in kind:  elections are now a race to see who can gift the most favorable offerings to the most people whilst pretending to be doing the opposite.

What has happened to the idea that we earn our pay according to the value of our labor?  That we’re not entitled to any financial compensation except what we earn?  That other people’s money is theirs by right and we have no claim on it?

This isn’t Social Darwinism or Cutthroat Capitalism – it’s simple ethical behavior.  And what’s right doesn’t change based on where one is in the economic food chain, no matter how much we pretend or how hard the politicians sell it during the campaign.