The Republican Leadership Deserves Only Contempt

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English: Crude drawing of the "No RINO&qu...

English: Crude drawing of the “No RINO” buttons used by American Republicans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The reaction of mainstream Republicans to Mr. Romney‘s claim that Mr. Obama’s campaign was based on promises of gifts to people by the government may as well have been the reaction of Democrats. Mr. Romney, as well as Rush Limbaugh who referred to “Obama Claus,” were roundly condemned by the majority of Republicans who spoke up. Mr. Limbaugh is correct when he says that the Republicans are trying to get a piece of the vote of those people dependent on the government. As he recognizes, this is a pipe dream.

Republicans have degenerated into the party that says, “We’ll keep the programs the Democratic Party offers, but we will cut funds programs so they will financially survive in the future.” Americans tend not to think about the future. The typical young American today looks at the present and how to gain as much pleasure in life with the least effort possible. If that means not getting a job and living off government welfare, so be it. Beneficiaries of federal welfare programs want their money and food stamps now, and they want as much money as possible now. The hell with future generations. These individuals live for today. Like the corrupt emperors of the later Roman Empire, Mr. Obama and the Democratic Party keep their power by giving the people “bread and circuses.” The Republicans are kidding themselves if they think that offering fewer bread and circuses for the good of abstract “future generations” will move the self-centered contemporary government dependent person one bit. Those Republicans who condemned Mr. Romney, such as Karl Rove and his fellow consultants, do not deserve to keep their jobs–there predictions of the outcome of the general election were among the most inaccurate since the “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline in 1948. After Mr. Jindal condemned Mr. Romney, I will not support him if he runs for the Republican nomination. If the Republican Party turns to the left on welfare, immigration, and social issues, I–and many other conservatives–will vote for a third party. Personally I am sick and tired of cowardly Republicans, some of which are not sincere about their alleged conservatism on social issues, giving ground on economic issues and immigration as well. Mr. Ron Paul was one example of a man of integrity who refused to compromise his convictions for the favor of liberals, the press, or Hollywood. Yet he only received a small percentage of the Republican vote in the primaries, and the Republican National Committee treated his delegates with disrespect, refusing to seat some of them at the Republican National Convention. Now some want to eliminate the Iowa Straw Poll because of the influence of Paul supporters. Keep up the good work, Republicans, and see how many conservatives vote Libertarian or Constitution Party next election–or just stay home.

Conservatives (and I am not talking about “Neoconservatives” who are, in effect, Neoliberals”) need to get their message across in the political realm while still realizing that politics is not the means to salvation. We must work to change people’s hearts–one person at a time. Needless to say, that means we should set a good example in our own lives. If one person, one family, one community at a time we can influence people to see the harm that liberalism does, we may make progress. Conservatives within the Republican Party should hold the line as much as possible, but if they are driven out, a viable third party coalition should be considered. Forget the Neocons and the Rockefeller “Country Club Republicans.” A coalition of social conservatives, traditional conservatives in the Russell Kirk vein, and some libertarians that are not mere libertines might be workable. Ron Paul reached out to different groups outside how own libertarian standpoint, especially on opposition to the American Empire–and this is a position to which American Conservatism should return. The Republicans are the party of empire, and the Democrats, being mainly Wilsonian, are the same. Surely some viable group of people willing to bring about real change can end a situation in which one party is only a pale shadow of the other. If the Republican Party wants to survive as a viable force in American life, it must get new leadership–conservative leadership and not wimps who back down from every attack from the predominately leftist press. The current Republican leadership deserves only contempt.

Romney’s Convention Blundering with Ron Paul Delegates

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Ron Paul, member of the United States House of...

Ron Paul, member of the United States House of Representatives from Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Romney

Romney (Photo credit: Talk Radio News Service)

Mitt Romney has done what I had feared in an earlier post: he has supported excluding Ron Paul delegates from Maine from the Republican National Convention and has denied Ron Paul a voice at the convention. Ron Paul delegates, who won the Maine caucuses according to the established rules of the Republican Party in that state, are understandably angry. As someone who voted for Ron Paul in the North Carolina Primary, reading about the way his delegates have been treated by Mr. Romney and his supporters is deeply troubling. To win the presidential election, Mr. Romney needs all the votes he can get. By treating Paul delegates in a disrespectful way, he alienates millions of Paul supporters in the United States. Most likely those among Paul supporters who may have considered “voting for the lesser of evils” in the presidential election may decide to vote Libertarian or Constitution Party instead of voting for Mr. Romney. Frankly I would not blame them.

My feelings are mixed. On the one hand, I not believe a second Obama administration would be good for the country. Although it may turn out that Republicans do not have the will to reduce spending significantly, especially given their support of American interventionism abroad, the Democrats would be far worse. Mr. Obama has continued Mr. Bush’s aggressive foreign policy, and Mr. Bush’s restraints on civil liberty have been enhanced under the Obama administration. Mr. Obama’s unlimited support of abortion, even up to the ninth month (partial-birth abortion can be performed at that state) is morally reprehensible. In addition, Mr. Obama supports a bigger government and stronger regulation, regulation that I have experienced directly at the university where I teach. The government is adding more offenses for which the university can be fined. Such regulation and massive government spending has hurt small businesses. Unlike many academics, I know personally a number of small businesspeople in my area. They have all told me that they believe their businesses will go under if Mr. Obama is re-elected.

Yet the Republicans are even more aggressive in foreign policy than the Democrats, at least rhetorically. Practically I believe that will make little difference. Ron Paul is the only candidate who opposes American intervention abroad unless it is clearly in support of American interests. His opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has brought down the wrath of so-called “mainstream” Republicans and Neoconservatives as well as the wrath of Wilsonian Democrats. Although it is a good thing that Mr. Ryan wants to cut domestic spending, he is still enamored with the Roosevelt-Johnson welfare state. Mr. Paul rejects the welfare state in principle. Although there are fiduciary relationships with Social Security and Medicare, allowing the states to deal with such matters can allow those in need to continue to receive help.

I suppose, at this point, I will bite the bullet and vote for Mr. Romney. If the country is in intractable decline, which it will be under the two major parties, at least Mr. Romney might slow the decline. I also am deeply concerned about the Obama Administration’s attitude toward religious freedom and its radical moral agenda. As such, I am at a practical level forced to vote for a candidate who can win the general election.
In any case, I am not a libertarian but a traditional conservative, somewhere between Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul. I can swallow hard and vote for Mr. Romney despite his bad behavior now.

However, other Paul supporters, angry at how they have been treated by the Romney campaign, will vote for the libertarian candidate for president. Some traditional conservatives who are fans of Mr. Paul will vote Constitution Party. Others will not vote at all, and some may even vote for Mr. Obama. Frankly I cannot understand Mr. Romney’s behavior. Perhaps he wishes to act in a decisive manner, but to act decisively against his own self-interest is unwise. I would recommend that he make a peace offering to Mr. Paul and his supporters before his behavior costs him the general election and plunges the United States into rapid ruin.

The United States Should Stay Out of Syria

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Syria

No one can legitimately deny the brutality of the Assad regime in Syria. This is not atypical of many of the Middle Eastern states where ancient customs of absolute rule are slow to die. Some people, left and right, are calling for the United States to become involved in the Syrian conflict. This would be a mistake, even if it involves indirect help to the rebels.

The danger in any revolution, as George Orwell recognized in his book, Animal Farm, is that the end result of a revolution may be a government as repressive or even more repressive than the previous government. Are the Islamists who seem to be the majority of the rebels willing to set up a state that respects human rights? One would have to be naive to believe that. If the rebels win, Syria might get lucky and have a moderate Islamist government like the one in Turkey, if such governments can truly be called “moderate.” If the rebels are hard-line Islamists, then the state of the people in Syria may be worse than it would have been under Assad. One should be careful for what one wishes.

It is not in the national interest of the United States to become involved in the Syrian conflict. It may be in the national interests of Israel or Turkey to be involved, but the United States should allow the Syrians to fight their war and let the results be what they will be. Any military aid, or worse, sending special forces units (who may be there already–who knows?) or regular combat troops would be a disaster. The United States would gain little if anything and lose a great deal given the stress that the U.S. military is already under in Iraq and Afghanistan. Make no mistake about it, the “drawdowns” do not end U. S. military operations in those nations.

Corporations that make money off the welfare-warfare state will support intervening in Syria, but the unholy alliance between the United States government and large defense contractors helps the companies more than it helps the United States. Evangelical Christians, for all their good points, too often approach Middle Eastern politics thorugh the lens of a naive dispensationist premillenialist interpretation of the Book of Revelation. They strongly support American military intervention in the Middle East, believing that such is a part of prophecy being fulfilled.

Suppose the U.S. did get involved in Syria and a radical Islamist regime hostile to the United States was the result. The intervention would surely be said to cause more harm than good. War is a destructive force and often has unintended and bitter consequences that politicians do not invision from the safety of their air conditioned and heated offices. The United States should only go to war when the national interest is at stake. The claim of advocates of force that we would be fighting for human rights is a ruse since there are many countries with brutal dictators in which the United States does not intervene. The long tentacles of the Neoconservatives and war Democrats have slithered into the highest levels of U. S. foreign policy making. Congress needs to stand up to them and not fund unnecessary interventions into the internal battles of other countries. Both presidential candidates agree with the war party’s philosophy. That is unfortunate, for whatever the outcome of the November election, the United States will have a president who desires to continue the warfare/welfare state and its unnecessary interventions into disputes that are none of the United States’ business. If Israel or Turkey want to intervene in Syria–or Iran–that is their business. It is not our place to fight others’ battles for them.

Southerners’ Warmongering and Ron Paul’s Low Vote Totals in the South

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Electoral vote of the Southern United States i...

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It would seem that Ron Paul should do well in the Southern primaries. Southerners have traditionally supported a limited role for the federal government and have called for the federal government to actually follow the Tenth Amendment. Part of that tradition was affirming the sovereignty of the states over against federal power. Even though federal power might be used for a good end, it could also be used for evil ends, and to avoid tyranny, the federal government should not be allowed to force states to follow mandates beyond its constitutional authority. Federal moves to take power from the states or to force them to remain in the federal union by force were considered unconstitutional, from the War between the States to the de facto regional dictatorships of federal judges over certain states in the South which has been forced on them since the early 1970s. Ron Paul is the only candidate who truly accepts a strictly limited role of the federal government in the lives of the states. Yet Mr. Paul does far better in the North than he does in the South and finds himself in single digits in most Southern primaries.

Sadly, Southerners have been aggressive in supporting wars. War is the most effective way for the federal government to gain unwarranted power over the people and over the states. During the War between the States, Mr. Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus and shut down newspapers that opposed administration policy. In World War I, opponents of the war were arrested and jailed. World War II massively increased federal spending and created a military-industrial complex that de facto runs the country. Federal spending–and federal incursion into the authority of the states–has increased at a rapid pace since the Second World War. The freedom and rights of the states that traditional Southerners valued, preserved for a time by Supreme Court rulings in the 1870s and by the decline of Reconstruction, have been weakened by every U.S. military intervention that bloats the federal government even more than before.

Yet Southerners have been rabidly pro-war, strongly supporting the Vietnam War (except for a few brave Southern legislators) long after the rest of the country had begun to question its wisdom. The 1968 American Independent Party vice-presidential candidate was Air Force General Curtis LeMay, who led the saturation bombing against Japanese cities in World War II and supported the use of nuclear weapons against North Vietnam as a way to ensure a South Vietnamese and American victory. The irony of a states rights party with a vice-presidential candidate who was part of the vast federal military-industrial complex who supported the anti-Christian murder of civilians was lost on Southerners. Southerners were gung ho about Desert Storm and were among the most aggressive in supporting the second Iraq War. Now Southerners are among the most rabid supporters of war with Iran, and Southern Evangelicals’ blind support for Israel’s aggressiveness is well known. A combination of Fundamentalist and Evangelical Christianity, Premillenial theology, and Scotch-Irish aggressiveness have combined to push Southerners into supporting wars that erode the very freedom from the federal government that they seek. Thus most Southerners support warmongering Neoconservatives such as Mr. Romney, Mr. Gingrich, or Mr. Santorum rather than supporting the true candidate for freedom from federal tyranny, Ron Paul.

Only if conservative Southerners overcome their lust for war will they be able to support a candidate, such as Ron Paul, who would work to reverse the power of the federal government over the states.

40% of South Carolina Republican Voters are Stark Raving Mad

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English: Newt Gingrich

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I look at my fellow Southerners in South Carolina with a feeling of exacerbation. Newt Gingrich, a pseudo-conservative, a “big government conservative,” a supporter, along with the late Jack Kemp, of affirmative action, a warmonger, and a supporter of torture as U.S. policy, won the Republican primary. He seems to desire conflict with Iran every much as Mr. Santorum. While I appreciate his conciliatory tone tonight, he resembles George W. Bush too much on both foreign and domestic policy. Ron Paul, who has the only sensible policy on foreign policy, received only 13% of the vote–thank goodness for the 13% who see beyond the lust for war and an ignorant Premillenial theology that has led to an unbalanced support of Israel in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Mr. Paul has opposed the arrogant Wilsonian triumphalism that Mr.Gingrich supports.How does Mr. Gingrich expect to balance the budget while expanding defense spending and pushing toward military conflict with Iran?

Mr. Gingrich said some good things in his acceptance speech about the Tenth Amendment–but this does not seem consistent with his policies earlier in his career. I have other questions: Does Mr. Gingrich support the free trade policy that has effectively destroyed American manufacturing? Does he really mean to appoint only strict constructionists to federal courts who will neither support the radical secularist agenda nor expand the power of the federal government over matters that should be reserved to the states? Is he willing to reconsider his position on torture? If American is as “exceptional” as he claims, surely he could support America being on the moral high ground by never participating in nor officially supporting waterboarding and other forms of torture? I doubt it,and unless I see evidence of a change of Mr. Gingrich’s positions on foreign policy and on torture, and if Mr. Gingrich wins the Republican nomination, I and other antiwar Republicans may have no moral option other than to vote for either the Libertarian or the Constitution Party candidate. The only votes that are wasted are those that violate one’s conscience. If Mr. Obama wins re-election as a result, so be it.

Republican Candidates and Waterboarding

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Official photo of Congresswoman Michele Bachma...

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Herman Cain speaking at a press conference to ...

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Although as a traditional conservative I cannot vote for Mr. Obama, I also cannot vote for Mr. Cain or Ms. Bachmann. I am voting for Ron Paul, and would be open to voting for Mr. Huntsman if he got the Republican nomination. I can swallow hard and vote for neoconservative warmongers such as Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum, but I will not vote for a candidate who supports waterboarding. Mr. Can and Ms. Bachmann explicitly said that they would reinstate waterboarding, which is, despite their denials, a form of torture. Mr. Perry hinted that he could support waterboarding, and that adds another reason I could not vote for him. Torture is objectively morally evil, and for candidates to claim Christian identity while supporting a crass utilitarianism that would countenance torture reveals their hypocrisy and the hypocrisy of their “Christian” supporters who also support waterboarding and other forms of torture. I am not so naive so as to believe that the United States has not used torture in the past, but torture has not been a part of official U. S. policy–at least it wasn’t until the administration of George W. Bush. Even Mr. Obama has only added window dressing in limiting torture, letting other countries do the dirty work. To support torture or to deny that waterboarding constitutes torture reveals a major character flaw that is incompatible with a person being president of the United States. Even if we could obtain actionable intelligence from waterboarding, which is doubtful to the point of being practically impossible, this would not morally justify the practice. Mr. Cain and Ms. Bachmann (and perhaps Mr. Perry) find themselves supporting an evil practice that strips human beings of their dignity, a dignity presupposed in the Geneva Conventions. If an open supporter of torture receives the Republican nomination, I will vote for a third party candidate. Critics of Mr. Obama might say that any Republican would be better than him, but a Republican who states that he or she would reinstate waterboarding would not be better than Mr. Obama.

The problem is that both major parties have been purchased by warmongers, to the point that critics of war and or torture such as Mr. Paul, receive limited air time in a lengthy debate. Mr. Paul only received ninety seconds of air time in last night’s debate. That is a travesty that reflects the extent to which the military-industrial complex has captured the U. S. media. The fact that so-called Christians criticize Mr. Paul for opposing torture in all forms and for opposing unnecessary wars reveals the so-called “Christian right” to be neither Christian nor truly right wing. The traditional right would neither have supported torture no engaging in unnecessary wars. The Cold War was the beginning of the fall of the right into warmongering. Afraid of Communist world domination, which could not have happened given the inevitable inefficiency of Communism, the American right supported the major U. S. military buildup of the 1950s. Southerners, who should know better after the War between the States, strongly supported this warmongering policy, as did the leaders of the Christian right in the 1970s and 80s. When  the U.S. engaged in torture in Iraq, Afghanistan, and with the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, these same groups supported the U.S. practice of torture. There are a few people on both the right and on the left who oppose torture. They should work together to change U. S. policy to the point that it cannot engage in torture anywhere and at any time. If they fail, the United States will pay by losing support in the world community–and by losing its soul.

Wall Street Protesters: Are their Criticisms Justified?

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Wall Street

The protests against corporate greed on Wall Street has spread beyond the borders of the United States–Italian police had to break up an unruly mob that was throwing rocks into buildings. I wonder if the buildings they damaged were owned by the corporations they despise–or whether they were family owned small businesses who were harmed by the damage.

Despite such bad behavior, I have some sympathy for the protesters. The banking industry almost singlehandedly destroyed the American economy. The repercussions could have damaged beyond repair European economies and led to a world economic collapse. When the regulatory shoe was pulled off the banks, their leaders did everything they could to get richer quickly by selling debt, dealing derivatives, and engaging in other risky behavior. The claim of some conservatives that the program that required banks to make home loans to the poor was responsible for the economic crisis is naive–bad loans were being made across all socioeconomic classes. Like most quick buck schemes, the bankers were bound to fail. Their greed devastated real people and their “punishment” was a reward–a multi-billion dollar bail out that would not have been given to most companies if they were in similar danger of going under. The banks were infamously thought “too big to fail.” Executives who failed were rewarded by the banks with huge bonuses. I can understand how the public can be angry when much of the recent federal debt is due to bailing out bankers.

The problem I have with the protesters is that they confuse capitalism with corporatism. Capitalism can flourish in a world without large multinational corporations. Small, community-based businesses in the older American of country and small towns can compete with each other but be close enough to their  communities to care for the people in them and be motivated by more than the profit motive. Local banks run by people with a stake in their communities have a better chance of being operated for motives other than mere profit. This is the world the Southern Agrarians–especially Andrew Lytle and Donald Davidson, wanted to return in a country dominated by huge corporations.

Some of the protestors might have sympathy with the Agrarians–there have been moves by some on the left to approach the right–especially Ron Paul supporters–about setting up capitalism in a way that encourages the local community in  a decentralized governmental system in which there is more personal freedom, a necessary prerequisite to people having room to operate small businesses. Generally, however, protestors support the same old tired socialist and Marxist systems that have failed in the past. By setting up in advance a false dichotomy with no third way, they end up supporting a system which has caused the deaths of millions of people and which has enslaved many more. Communism leads to hard-core oppression as government goes beyond its proper bounds of power and gains the hubris to think it can reverse man’s Fall.

Corporitism leads to a softer tyranny by manipulation (through a compliant media and business community). Social pressure is used to force individuals into molds that fit the corporations’ thirst for profit.  Corporate executives also lack knowledge, for the most part, of the branches of the company they are supposed to supervise–the efficient distribution of needed goods and services to local communities will be lacking. Communities desperate for jobs may sell their souls for a bowl of corporate porridge. Local resistance to large corporations often evaporates in the face of a threat from a corporation that it will not move a plant to the area unless it receives tax breaks and other economic incentives. Local communities need the jobs, and instead of encouraging small business investment, they go for a quick fix. Local banks fail, and branches of  large corporate banks open in their place. This brings jobs and capital temporarily, but corporations have become increasingly disloyal to their initial commitments to the community and have closed U. S. plants in favor of outsourcing to Mexico, Central and South America. Banks have put speculation over fiscal responsibility. In an entity as large as a contemporary corporate, money is the name of the game, and people take a distant second-place unless strong corporate leadership changes the ethic of a corporation. But that is a difficult task in a large corporation; the larger the corporation, the more difficult a change in its fundamental moral practices becomes.

The protestors are correct in much of their critique of corporatism, but are wrong in their Marxist solution to the problem. It would be better if they read the Southern Agrarians, especially Take My Stand, and authors such as D. H. Lawrence and J. R. R. Tolkien. These works offer a tertium quid that can shortchange the greed of the moneychangers.

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