Friday, November 28, 2008

Intellectual Properties

I don't quite know how to say this, so I'll just come out with it. The title of this column is a pun, and not a very good one. Allow me to slaughter it further by explaining the double-meaning: "intellectual property," of course, refers to the classic capitalistic notion that innovative ideas are encouraged when the innovator's rights of property are protected. We recognize that everything from Walt Disney's "Mickey Mouse" to Aaron Copland's "Rodeo" belongs, just like a material good, to their respective creators. This right is one of the cornerstones of our civilization. I am also, in the title, using "Intellectual Properties" to denote the intellectual qualities of a given creation. I envision this column as a place where I weekly recommend something for viewing, something for listening, and something for reading. The selections may not always be directly related to a conservative worldview, but we will always keep in mind the fact that these artistic innovations would not be possible without the property rights of the mind. So, considering both possible meanings of "intellectual property," I subtitle the column: Heroes of the imagination brought to you by the benefits of liberty.

For viewing: The Lives of Others

Oscar-winning German-language film about a playwright under Stasi surveillance in Communist East Germany. This film does happen to be very relevant to the deeper meaning of this column. The playwright is the last of his artist friends still sponsored by the state, and has to decide how to use his art. A moving portrayal of the "bad kind of individualism" brought about by a totalitarian state (withdrawal from the community). Incredible performance by actual former victim of East German repression. Very fine soundtrack, as well.

For Listening: the Bach: Violin Concertos, Chaconne
from Bach's Partita No. 2 in D Minor for violin. Brahms says of the chaconne: "one of the most wonderful and most incomprehensible pieces of music." A lengthy display of inconceivable virtuosity, full of profound feelings; a whole universe of pain and triumph. Bach, of course, wrote "for the glory of God alone," but his compositions were made possible by the appreciative patronage of Prince Leopold of Cothen.

For Reading: Capital
by Karl Marx. One of the greatest systematic philosophers of all time (and it's actually a pretty good read, for philosophy). It's important, for one thing, to truly understand where the social goals of Marxism originate. Also, we don't want to throw around terms we don't understand, or "straw man" our opponents. It's ironic (and significant for the purposes of this column) that Marx copyrighted his monumental work, and was supported in his research and leisure by the patronage of Friedrich Engels.

Founder's Friday

The dilemma is this:

The founding fathers alluded to a supreme authority that should be recognized and given proper credence; yet also acknowledged clear freedoms to force no man to adhere to that authority. So when we look to define the line between church and state; Where does it fall?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Well-Meaning Leftist of the Week, or, "An Inconvenient Stain"

Featured: Animal Rights Activist who "Pelted" Lindsay Lohan's fur coat with flour bomb

Last week, Lindsay Lohan was attacked by a "flour bomb"-wielding animal rights activist in Paris, as retribution for Lohan's fur-wearing ways. See the Kodak moment here. For those of you who were wondering, a flour bomb, according to Wikipedia, consists of "flour in a fragile container, thrown at a person or object to produce an inconvenient stain." (Why is it, by the way, that Wikipedia is the only dictionary with a serious, reliable definition of "flour bomb"? Yea, definitely the second-best website ever...)

In the past, animal rights activists have also doused prominent fur-wearers with paint. Here's the punchline: in either case, the destruction of a celebrity's animal fur only means that one or several more animals will have to be killed to replace the ruined fur (unless, of course, in the unlikely event that the assault converts the celebrity into a caring defender of the natural rights of animals).

Perhaps PETA would argue that the public exposure for their cause is worth the martyrdom of a few of the innocent creatures they are sworn to protect. Interesting ethical quandary. They should make like a movie about it or something: morally ambiguous heroes are the bee's knees right now. They could even have a scene where, once the animals understand what the activists are trying to accomplish in the long run, they sacrifice their lives voluntarily--and with stoic resolve--to replace Lindsay Lohan's fur coat. Man, that would be poetry on celluloid.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Open Topic Tuesday

You know the drill - keep it clean & the floor is yours.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Employee "Forced" Choice Act

Janet's article over on C4tR News regarding the "Fairness" Doctrine got me to thinking about the other misleadinly named legislation that will likely be pushed through congress shortly after January 22.

Dubiously dubbed the "Employee Free Choice Act", the bill will remove secret ballot elections from the process of unionization at a workplace.

A brief rundown can be found here.

The EFCA would replace the secret ballot (which was apparently good enough for the Democrats when deciding Joe Lieberman's fate) with the collection of signatures. As soon as the Union collected signatures from over 50% of the employees, all employees would be forced to join the union.

And we all know that the labor unions would never pressre anyone into signing...

Be careful what you wish for.

Whether in December or early next year, the likelihood that the US auto makers will receive $25 billion is a near certainty. What happens next from the perspective of Detroit? When it all plays out, will the net be a positive result from the auto industries perspective?

Lets take a quick peak at what we have:

Last week I touched on some of the reasons why the bailout would not help Detroit, but the more things move along, the bailout is more likely to hurt Detroit in the long run. In fact, they have put themselves in an even worse financial position just by asking for federal money.

1) As a general rule, the last thing you want to do when you are under a load of crushing debt is to take another loan.

2) One of the claims made is that they need the Federal loan since the credit crisis prevents them from obtaining private money. The problem is not the credit crisis, the problem is that no private lenders believe that Detroit will be able to repay the loan. Apparently, the markets do not either. In spite of the near guarantee that they will be getting the loan they are requesting, investors don't view GM as a good buy.

3) When an individual applies for any type of loan (car loan, mortgate, credit card, etc), their credit score gets dinged just a bit. Applying for 2 or three loans in succession they will see a significant decrease in their score. Continue down this path and the individual risks damaging his credit for a long time. The reason? Lenders begin to see the individual as desperate for cash. Most people in this situation are at the point where they cannot meet their financial obligations and are merely seeking to keep the lights on a bit longer.

By going straight to the feds, and announcing that they cannot obtain private financing, Detroit has pretty much sealed its fate. They are acting like the desperate individual described above and their stock prices show this. While bankruptcy certainly is a black mark on one's credit score, it is still easier to obtain credit with a bankruptcy and modest debt that is well within one's means than it is to be in the desperate situation described above.
4) When Detroit receives the bailout, it will certainly come with strings attached (and understandably so), but unfortunately, the strings will be of the "Well Meaning Leftist" type - such as requirements to develop green vehicles (as if CAFE already doesn't do that) and restrictions on CEO pay.

CAFE standards forced Detroit for years to sell vehicles that lost money. To recover and earn a profit, they had to rely on the SUV & light truck market. Additional requirements to sell unprofitable vehicles is certainly a greater recipe for failure.

While certainly the current CEO's have done a poor job for their pay - and certainly nobody would fault the boards if they voted them out, capping the pay for the top executive position would prevent the best and brightest from even attempting to tackle the daunting task ahead. What incentive would they have for taking the job in the first place when they can make more money elsewhere? Applying a salary cap places another handicap on the companies already far behind their foreign competitors.

Duped by the Irishman?

I know there have been several sites out there making light of how O’bama may have hoodwinked the American public during his campaign. I have true questions as to the validity of these claims. Obama has clearly promised many things that will not come to pass. Did he dupe a nation, or are all presidential campaigns as misleading as his?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

New addition

While probably not the best kept secret, my wife and I wish to announce that we are expecting our third child this coming May.

Mom is doing well & things (so far) have been progressing normally.

While not specifically related to conservatism or politics, we just wanted to share the joy :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Just Be Good for Goodness' Sake!"

By now most of you have probably heard of the ad campaign sponsored by the American Humanist Association this month. Says the ad, featured on a number of D.C. metrobuses, "Why believe in God? Just be good for goodness' sake!" Fred Edwards, director of communications for the AHA, claims "All of us can have moral values....Each of us knows what it means, generally, to be ethical."

Where to begin? I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony, to borrow Dinesh D'Souza's quip. First off, no matter what ideology you espouse, hopefully you understand that what is "good," is not always self-evident, and hardly ever natural. But moralists and philosophers have long tried to establish some natural, "rational" basis for morality--some universal principle that will be obvious to everyone, even without recourse to anything transcendent or divine. Again, there are a lot of points one could make about this so-called "natural" morality, and I look to you all for your thoughts.

One kind of thinking about natural morality is that an "enlightened self-interest" will make you treat others kindly, both to get good things in return and to live a reasonably civil life, full of low expectations and small happinesses. Conincidentally enough, I just attended a special lecture at the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism on Alexis de Tocqueville and his critique of the American morality of rational self-interest. The speaker was Harvey Mansfield, Harvard historian and political theorist, and translator of Machiavelli and Tocqueville.

Alexis de Tocqueville was a French liberal aristocrat who travelled through America for nine months in 1831. His Democracy in America is, according to Professor Mansfield, the best book ever on democracy, and the best book ever on America. Tocqueville criticizes the American idea, even back then, that the reason to be "good," the reason to support and obey a democratic government is a rational long-view self-interest that wants to play by the rules in order to achieve a happy life later. (Of course, none of this takes into account the people that wouldn't be able to succeed playing by the rules). Tocqueville points out that, if you don't believe in an afterlife, then old age is no less fleeting than young age--there's no real reason to choose to play by the rules in favor of a finite happiness later, and against a finite happiness now. Both are equally passing. And so topples one attempt to establish a logical morality without religion. Tocqueville concludes that men need religion, or they will eventually realize that the ethical life makes no sense.

All this doesn't even touch the fact that, without some kind of transcendent standard, we can't even determine what is right anyway. Nature is not moral; it's dog-eat-dog. Certain tribes of the Auca Indians in Ecuador will, if their baby cries too much, bury it alive. That's "natural." The only reason modern, secular Americans have "generally" similar ethical standards is that, to paraphrase one political theorist, we are all sniffing fumes out of the same empty bottle (Christianity); and philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, too, has observed that the ethics of most nonbelievers are evidence of the former sacredness of our civilization.

Your thoughts?

Friday, November 21, 2008

"The Tedious Confines of One's Own Skin"

Once again a post has become so long as to raise a number of peripherally related topics, and to mitigate against trying to pierce to the heart of any one issue (See "Open Topic Tuesday" and following thread). I wanted to lay down a few musings especially concerning "not the other anon's" observations. And I fancy that my comments may spark enough subsequent debate to warrant starting a new thread. As always, I stand ready to be corrected.

Not the other anon: The attempt to interpret our personal experiences is one of the most meaningful things we do as humans. There's nothing wrong with anecdotal evidence--in fact, it's possible to argue that all evidence (even "research" that we personally engage in) is subjective-anecdotal. Your experiences are instructive, certainly for yourself, and, I think, for all of us.

The fact that you feel more acceptance among your gay friends is a real phenomenon, and one that probably has a number of explanations. The first is connected with your thoughtful critique of American "Christian" pseudo-manliness. I think all guys, somewhere in the depths of their beings, desire significant friendships with other guys--friendships in which communication about real thoughts and struggles occurs. Think of David and Jonathan, or the countless examples from antiquity: considering the way these people communicated and felt about each other, it's safe to say they would be laughed to scorn by most American "men." I think if genuine, meaningful man-to-man friendships were not so derided, a lot of people who think they'd like to dabble in homosexuality would realize that's not what they're looking for. (Hat tip to Zach Franzen for suggesting the need for a return to manly friendship).

After cleaning our own house, though, I have to observe that another reason for the easy communication is that homosexuality is a species of narcissism. I do not say this is homosexuality's only appeal, but, as Erich von Kuehnelt-Leddihn writes, "Homosexuality has an aspect of sameness to it along with the refusal to establish the sometimes difficult bridge--intellectual, spiritual, and psychological--to the other sex. In this respect, homosexuality is a form of narcissism, of immaturity." K-L goes on to paraphrase Dr. Marcel Eck to the effect that the "hell of homosexuality lies precisely in that it avoids genuine dialogue; homosexual love is not a quest for another but merely seeks the self." Heterosexual love constantly reminds us of the near impossibility of transcending ourselves, and yet we push and stretch against that veil. Homosexual love, at the risk of over-generalization, may feel accepting at first, but that's because it's actually self-love, and this comes out in the wash.

You want to really mix things up? Try something really radical? Just go crazy? Find a guy who can be a "soul-mate" (I'm not kidding), but then try to really get to know a woman. She'll blow your mind. I promise.

Your thoughts?

Founder's Friday

We'll give this one more shot. Last week's attempt failed to generate any discussion. Hopefully we have better luck this time.

I'm going to go w/ the Declaration of Independence again, but I'll give you more than the first paragraph to work with this time. What can we glean about the Founder's views from this document?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Well Meaning Leftist of the Week.

Sorry we're a little late with this, but let's go with Richard Nixon.

Faced with rampant inflation (and pressure from Senate Democrats), President Nixon announced in June of 1973 the implementation of price controls to ease the burden of rapidly rising prices of produce, oil, and other necessities.

Introducing C4tR News

We at C4tR had some discussion about where we want to go with this site.

The original purpose of this blog was to educate others to conservative viewpoints and provide a forum to both educate and debate what conservatism is and why we believe it to be the right direction for the United States.

In an effort to keep fresh content, I've been posting more an more short news items.  This tends to drive the weightier posts down to the bottom of the page before conversations can really get going.

With that in mind, we introduce Case 4 the Right - News.  C4tR News will be the location for news and current events discussion.  It will be the new location for quick posts on recent occurences leaving the main page for heavier philosophical discussion.

What do you think?

Obama's first test

Joe Biden stated that Obama would be tested quickly.

Handling pirates would be a good way to start. Don't be gentle.

Minnesota recount underway

Powerline has more on the Minnesota recount. Keep in mind the Democrats claims to make every vote count as you read.

The Dems currently hold 58 seats in the senate. The GOP needs either Coleman to win here or Saxby Chambliss in Georgia to have any say at all in the senate.

Race for the Governor's chair in NJ

New Jersey is one of two states to hold gubernatorial elections in an odd year (Virginia being the other)

For a quick rundown of the players with an eye on that position go here.

UPDATE: For anyone reading from Virginia, latest info I found is here.

The long view on Iraq from the beginning

At the request of one of the Anonymouses, I'm posting the rationale for the Iraq invasion.

Even though the events leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq started before this, to get this kicked off, I'll start with the Congress' Authorization for use of Military Force Against Iraq resolution of 2002. I'll summarize a few of the points and we'll go from there.

1) The 1990 invasion created a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and enforce UN Security Council resolutions against Iraq

2) After the invasion, Iraq entered into a UN sponsored ceasfire in which it agreed to end its pursuits of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons & cease sponsoring international terrorism

3) Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998

4) in Public Law 105–235 (August 14, 1998), Congress concluded that Iraq’s continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in ‘‘material and unacceptable breach of its internationa obligations’’ and urged the President ‘‘to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations’

These 4 items are all historical fact - and the events depicted in the resolution all took place PRIOR to George W Bush taking office. In spite of the fact that we NOW know that Iraq did not possess WMD at the time of invasion, it was public knowledge that they had weapons back in 1998. Furthermore,

5) Iraq persist[ed] in violating resolution of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait

6) the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people. NOTE: While it has now been shown that Hussein did not possess WMD at the time of the invasion, that was hardly the posture he was taking. Not only was there ample intelligence indicating the presence of WMD in Iraq, Hussein (at this point in time) did not permit weapons inspectors back into the country.

7) the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105–338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime. NOTE: as early as 1998, it was the policy of the United States to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

8) September 12, 2002, President Bush committed the United States to ‘‘work with the United Nations Security Council to meet our common challenge’’ posed by Iraq and to ‘‘work for the necessary resolutions,’’ while also making clear that ‘‘the Security Council resolutions will be enforced, and the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable NOTE: as early as September 2002, the President began working with the United Nations - in spite of the oft repeated claim of "unilateral action" - never mind the fact that acting unilaterally is not an evil in and of itself.

To quickly sum up a long post - the first several reasons listed as rationale for the Iraq invasion occured prior to President Bush taking office. President Bush ran for office on a platform that took an aggressive stance against hostile nations that support terrorist activities.

The events of September 11th underscored the importance of taking pro-active stance against increasingly bold terrorist states.

The invasion of Iraq sent a message that we will not tolerate state sponsors of terrorism. Unfortunately, as time went on, the message that was delivered by our media is that the United States does not have the stomach for a fight. IMO, it was the stance taken by the media that emboldened Iran to press forward to achieve nuclear capability. When they saw the peoples response to a difficult and expensive fight, they knew there was no way they had the stomach to do anything other than talk while they perform nuclear tests, launch missiles, etc. Fortunately, Israel has no qualms with taking out nuclear facilities in Iran.

On the plus side, President Bush had the perseverance (despite the fact that it was immensly unpopular) to stay and finish the job. Thanks to that perseverence, there is one less terrorist state in the world.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The science of progress.

President Bush (and by extension the GOP) was excoriated for caving to the religious right and showing disdain for science when he signed an executive order prohibiting the use of Federal funds to support the destruction of human embryos for research purposes.

Yet its barely a blip on the radar when real progress is made using adult stem cells - allowing individuals to become their own donors. Why is it so critical that human life is destroyed?

This is besides the point that embryonic stem cell research is still perfectly legal in the US - not to mention that individual states are free to fund such research.

Hat tip: Drudge

Dem's get to 58

Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) has defeated incumbent Republican (and convicted felon) Ted Stevens. The Democrats are now 2 seats shy of a supermajority - meaning they can pass whatever they want the the Republicans have no chance of stopping them (including approval of activist judges).

It is disgraceful that the GOP did not press for Stevens resignation when the his gift taking was first discovered.

In other news, Minnesota has begun the automatic recount. Currently, Norm Coleman (R) leads Al Franken (D) by 215 votes. Minnesota law permits counters to divine "voter intent", so we definitely want to keep an eye on this.

Georgia's runoff election is not until December.

Spreading the wealth - conservative style (part II)

Part I is here.

Second situation: People tend to view labor differently than other goods, however labor (the use of one's time) is subject to the same laws of supply and demand as any other commodity.

However, that doesn't stop attempts to fix prices on labor. As in the case of gasoline, it is an attempt to tip the scales in favor of individuals over corporations. However, unlike gasoline, the drive is to keep the price artificially high rather than artificially low.

No matter how much legislation is passed, you can't change the laws of supply and demand. You can change prices, but markets respond to higher prices - whether freely set by the seller or by the force of law - by demanding less of it.

In the case of minimum wage or living wage laws, employers respond by purchasing less of others time. This most affects those with less skills or education. After all, if you are forced to pay above market price for something, you want to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. Someone whos only skill is sweeping floors will be left out in the cold. Individuals who are hired (or are already working, but now have a legislated pay raise) will see their hours cut.

In the case of the labor unions, employers don't have the option of cutting employees when they aren't delivering value for the price. They don't have the option of cutting back on hours. Since employers (the purchasers in this case) don't have the option of purchasing less from their existing labor providers, they will most certainly not hire new workers.

The argument that huge corporations can afford to pay workers what they feel they are worth certainly does not hold wait in light of the Big Three's current situation. The UAW has killed the goose laying the golden eggs.

Again - what is better lots of people employed at a lower wage or no jobs at all?

Spreading the wealth - conservative style

Most of us have at least a basic understanding of supply and demand: The more people that want something, the more it costs - and the less there is of that something, the more it costs.

The most visible example of this behavior is gas prices. In the summer, people tend to travel more which in turn pushes the price up. Similarly, when weather or world events disrupts the oils supply, prices go up.

Let's look at a few scenarios to illustrate free market principles in action:

First situation: A hurricane threatens (or has already hit) a coastal city prompting evacuation. The station owners respond by raising gas prices to $8/gal.

Since it would cost $120 to fill a 15 gallon tank, motorists have to make choices. Many who have 3/4 of a tank already will decide to press on and fill up in another town - or decide they have enough to get where they are going. People with empty tanks will put in just enough to get where they need to go.

Today, however, many states have past laws against price gouging in times of crisis. Suppose instead of $8/gal gas, station owners are forced by law to keep their prices at their current $2/gal. In this case there is no incentive for drivers to ration gas. Everybody tops off their 3/4 full tanks. Everyone fills their tank completely no matter how far they need to go and the situation becomes first come first serve - and the station is pumped dry much more quickly. Worse yet, the station owner who has no idea when he will be able to be refilled himself - or at what price, decides to close up shop rather than selling fuel at a loss.

As tough as it is, I think most people would prefer $8 gas to no gas at all. What is more fair? The "greedy" station owner selling small amounts of gas to as many people as possible or selling at a "fair" price and only the fastest group of people make it out in time?

To be continued...

Not exactly a bright future

John Ziegler has a video of some interesting tidbits about Obama voters from this past election - some of the finer points are outlined over at Powerline.

The biggest eye roller was this:

"87 percent said that Sarah Palin was the candidate who said she could see Russia from her house"

It was Tina Fey who said that while playing Palin on SNL.

Shockingly over half of the people interviewed were college grads. Read the link (and click through to the video - it reminds me of "Jay Walking" for those of you who are Leno fans)

UPDATE: Not the Onion video (although it's pretty funny)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We've had it all wrong.

Our current economic woes have nothing to do with people buying homes they couldn't afford, banks lending to individuals who could not pay, or exhorbidant labor costs in Michigan.

Our economy is in the crapper because of Climate Change:

Note that it's not "Global Warming" any more - it's "Climate Change"

It should be obvious to anyone that capping emmisions and forcing energy companies to pay additional fees to produce the energy we need is just what we need to pull out of this mess.

Hat Tip: Planet Gore

Freedom for Thought

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment be men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.
~Louis D. Brandeis

Many politicians of our time are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition, that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story, who resolved not to go into the water till he had learned to swim. If men are to wait for liberty till they become wise and good in slavery, they may indeed wait forever.
~Thomas Babington Macaulay

More on that slippery slope...

California Attorney General asks the state supreme court to review the constitutionality of Prop 8.

Open Topic Tuesday

OTT is a chance for every reader left, right or middle to post their thoughts.

Just keep it clean and keep it relevent to the overall theme of the blog.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Upon further review (more bailout discussion)

As more information becomes available, it becomes clearer that the bailout, even if it took place as I cautiously offered here, would be bad news.

In doing the math, the feds would be throwing $25 billion at an industry that the market currently values at only $7 billion - and that has a net worth in excess of $200 billion in the red.

Without bankruptcy, the manufacturers have no chance to obtain debt relief, escape their UAW contract and set on a proper course. As of right now, the group most in favor of the Detroit bailout is understandably the UAW.

The GOP and the Religious Right

While I find LGF useful in many areas - especially when it comes to calling out Islamic terrorists and their supporters, this essay strikes me as off. Please note that this post is not to address my opinions on the particular agendas detailed in the essay, but how they square with the author's assessment of the Republican Party's attempts to enforce religions.

While I certainly have no reason to doubt that the author
believes that the GOP is beholden to the religious right, the notion doesn't hold water.

  1. Embryonic stem cell research: President Bush's executive order to withhold federal funding for the destruction of human embryos is probably his strongest point here since many people who define themselves as pro-life (including Senator McCain) do not view embryos as the equivalent of a human child. However, the argument starts to break down when one realizes that President Bush did not BAN the research (nor could he) -simply that taxpayers should not fund it. Furthermore, both candidates for president were in favor of recinding that order.
  2. Gay marriage: This was debated greatly in here, so I won't say anything more in that regard save to say that prop 8 passed in large part to overwhelming support from the black community - hardly a demographic one would consider Republican. Prop 8 won in a state where no Republican even remotely stands a chance in statewide elections.
  3. Abortion: This is the topic he spent the most time on & really the only topic that one could use to paint McCain as a slave to the religious right. However, a majority of the population favors at least some restrictions on abortion - this change would seem to be driven by advances in imagery. In addition, while certainly a high percentage of religious folks are pro-life, it would seem certain that our founders viewed life as one of the inalienable rights endowed by our creator.
Dr. Hsieh begins by enumerating these three topics as evidence "among other things" that clearly show the GOP to be the party of theocracy, but then spends the remainder of the article focusing on abortion. Interestingly, when conservatives vote their conscience on abortion, they are derided as "single issue voters". Never mind that issues of life and death are pretty important, that label should swing both ways.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Children's Bill of Rights

Reader Melodie has brought to my attention a bill (S2334) currently before the NJ State Senate entitled "New Jersey Children's Bill of Rights". If passed, it would encode the wording of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which became an international treaty in September of 1990. While of pressing importance to parents in NJ, President Elect Obama is expected to sign the treaty.

Here are some of the provisions of the bill:

  • To live in a safe, healthy, and nurturing environment, and to know and be cared for by the child's parent or legal guardian, except in circumstances when the child's removal from his parent or legal guardian is in the child's best interests;
  • To be free from physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional abuse, neglect, cruelty, and any form of discipline that humiliates, demeans, or inflicts unnecessary mental or physical suffering or pain

These are certainly noble ideals and I am sure that the crafters of this bill are well intentioned. I certainly take no issue with the idea that children should be raised in a safe nurturing environment. Physical, sexual, psychological and emotional abuse, neglect and cruelty are evil when directed at other adults - much less children.

The problem I have is that the language in the bill subjective by nature. No hard definition is given for cruelty. What amount of pain rises to the level of "unnecessary" - is a slap on the wrist unnecessary? Are parents who choose to educate their children at home neglectful?

These are not decisions I would entrust to the NJ judiciary - and in the event the UN treaty the bill is based on is ratified, I would not entrust our federal judiciary either - much less the type of judges Presiden Obama would appoint.

UPDATE: If you live in New Jersey and wish to contact your state legislators, go here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Not far from the Tree

Another timely archived article from my Dad's "Freeman" days. Hope you like it.

Gay Marriage, Hurricanes, and the Hand of God

It seems Aaron's brief post on prop 8 generated more dialogue than any previous post (see "the slope gets slipperier..."). The thread, in fact, has become so long as to become prohibitive to following the debate. Lots of important observations were made across a variety of digressions. I'm glad, for one, that most everyone agrees that true morality can't be coerced. At the same time, law is inescapably moral: it says what you can and cannot do. (What, then, should be the small-government position on drugs, prostitution, etc?) This is one of the more interesting theoretical issues we've confronted. "The paradox of law and liberty" is, by definition, a "slippery slope." Everyone, including libertarians, draws a line of protectionism somewhere. But leave all this for a moment. And leave the specific arguments concerning prop 8, too...

The other more theoretical issue that caught my attention, as the "history/academic" guy, was the notion that Christians should, in general, oppose gay marriage in order to retain God's mercy. (And, since I have contributor privileges, I get to subject you all to my musings here on the main page.) This kind of Toynbeean/Spenglerian perspective on the structured rise and fall of nations presupposes (1) that we know all the facts and variables, can see everything that is going on in history and in the present and make comparative measurements of a nation's righteousness accordingly; (2) that Christians can know what and why God does what he does; and (3) that, for the Christian, worldly-temporal success is somehow decisive--evidence of God's favor.

A classic example of this kind of Christian moral positivism (whatever is, is right; "might makes right") is the destruction of the Spanish Armada. According to this legend, God routed the Armada with a storm to keep England, and hence the future America, Protestant. Of course, God didn't care when the Spaniards became Catholics because he likes English people better. Another example: I once heard a pastor say that Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans because of the sin in that city--never mind that the districts where much of the vice goes on were not destroyed. (And why is it always with the weather that we know it's God? Is it because weather still has some aura of incomprehensibility?)

Christians that think this way strike me like the person who reads the book of Job and then debates which friend was more right. Kind of misses the point... And how about the tower of Siloam: Jesus' followers asked him why innocent people were crushed by a falling tower. Jesus didn't answer this question; all he said was, "nobody is innocent--you had all better repent cause a tower might fall on you too." And how about Jeremiah: God tells him his life is basically going to stink all the way through it. Just stick it out.

Even if some Biblical passage tells you what God did in a certain instance and why, it does not follow that you understand God's ways and what He would do in a similar circumstance later.
To quote Sir Karl Popper, "The theory that God reveals Himself and His judgement in history is indistinguishable from the theory that worldly success is the ultimate judge and justification of our actions." Is God on the side of Islam today?

(Again, these thoughts do not specifically pertain to most of the pragmatic or ideological arguments for or against Gay marriage, just to the "God's blessing/cursing" argument. Sorry if it's a bit more abstract than the usual fare, but tell us what you think anyway...)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Profile of an Active Killer

Over the years experts have developed a profile of "Active Killers" such as the Columbine & VT shootings.

A few of the highlights:

  1. Police have had to change their tactics - at Virginia Tech, every minute the responding officers waited for backup, 4 people were shot, and 3 killed.
  2. Most active killers have no intention of surviving the ordeal. They often turn their gun on themselves as soon as they are confronted.
  3. Active killers target areas where there is little likelihood that anyone else present is armed.

Unfortunately, it seems that our legislators look at this type of information and conclude that we need MORE places where people are unarmed.

Hat Tip Radio Free NJ

RE: Don't do it Sarah!!

The Open Letter to Sarah Palin at Conservative Corner is a good read on where Palin should do should she wish to pursue the presidency in 2012.

It doesn't address Senate seats, Governor's chairs or anything, but the author makes smart points about staying on message. While Palin isn't Reagan, the comparison works because both were people of conviction and both were ridiculed for lack of experience and viciously attacked when they first appeared on the national scene.

Social and Economic conservatism - two peas in a pod

Jonah Goldberg at National Review has a nice article discussing how in practice, it's difficult to have one without the other.

Most social conservatives - especially those of a religious nature - would likely desire control over their own property. They would tend to believe that individuals should work for a living. They know the value of compassion and exhibit it at the individual level and do not wish their earnings confiscated for causes that conflict with their beliefs.

Conversly, social liberals who describe themselves as "fiscally conservative" over time (according to Goldberg) find it difficult to avoid funding of their pet causes by the state.

Chalk one up for President Bush

In spite of the drubbing he's taken in the press and overall public opinion, most people believe we are winning the war on terror.

UPDATE: Michael Yon goes as are as to say "The war is over and we won." From the sound of it, President Obama will be able to pull troops from Iraq as he promised - but only because President Bush pressed for victory as opposed to slinking away with our tails between our legs.

What makes a Conservative?

As part of the running theme begun in the prior "Packaging the conservative message" posts, it is necessary lay some ground as to what actually defines conservatism and how that applies to politically conservative individuals.

Is political conservatism a simple list of ideals? If so, are conservatives simply individuals who hold a specific percentage of those beliefs?

I don't believe so. While there are some core conservative tenets such as limited government and individual freedom, conservatism in my mind, is in large part a resistance to change. It is not adverse to change, just resistant. It understands that just because things are not going well at the moment, changing direction based soley on information available to us at an exact instant in time is blind.

Conservatism looks to the past and realizes that we have thousands of years of recorded human history and that there are lessons to be learned. If we take the time to look, we often find that most ideas we come up with are not new. Conservatives understand the importance of determining the long term affects of the decisions before proceding.

Rather than spending this past election trying to outchange the Candidate of Change, the GOP would have been better served to argue for reflection and deliberation. Moving forward, conservatives need to be vocal in pointing out specific examples of the long term affects when specific policy proposals are on the table.

Founders Friday

The founding of this nation is critical to our understanding of the rights we have as a nation. A proper understanding of our Constitution cannot be obtained without knowing what led to it's formation.

To that end, we at Case 4 the Right introduce Founders Friday. I'd like to begin with the opening paragraph to the Declaration of Independence. What can we glean from it?

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Aside from the obvious statement of intention to secede, what does does this opening statement tell us about the Founders views of national sovereignty?

Time's yours.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

2010 Elections

Republicans don't have much time to get their house in order.

Here is a list of the Senators who will be up for re-election in 2010. No senators are up from my home state, although it would take something pretty serious to unseat an incumbent Democrat in NJ.

Six years ago, Bob Toricelli was convicted of taking bribes and was forced to withdraw. In spite of the fact that the deadline to add someone to the ballot (clearly spelled out in state law) had passed, the state supreme court permitted the Democrats to add Frank Lautenberg to the ticket.

NJ voted him in anyway.

Don't do it Sarah!!

A move to the Senate would be disasterous to Palin.

In spite of all the negative press she's received, she's a star right now. She's getting interviewed all over the place. Even in a state as distant as Alaska, she would maintain a higher profile by remaining governor (and gaining further executive experience) than she would serving as a junior senator for the minority party.

US Auto Industry (part III)

Here's a solid counterpoint to my prior proposal. It included details on what would happen if GM were to file for bankruptcy.

Senate update

As ballots continute to be counted in Alaska, Democrat Mark Beglich has take an 814 vote lead over incombent Republican (and convicted felon) Ted Stevens.

Even if the Dems get to 60, I will shed no tears for Senator Stevens - graft has no place in our government. If the GOP had been smart, they would have pressed for his resignation long ago. He had no business running for re-election.

H/T Powerline

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The slope is getting slipperier by the demonstration


Somehow, someway those protesting humans romping around the streets of California will find a liberal court or activist judge to overturn the vote of the people.

Packaging the conservative message (part II)

In 2000, George W Bush ran for president as a "Compassionate Conservative." It was an attempt to break from the image of traditional conservatives as cold and uncaring - even downright mean and make a dent in the advantage modern day liberalism had (and still has) in perceived compassion. It worked (in terms of getting him elected) because in spite of media attempts to paint him as a buffoon, people could tell that he loved his country and had genuine concern for people.

The first problem with the new brand is that it paints traditional conservatives as "cold and uncaring - even downright mean." Policy (liberal or conservative) is dispassionate. Well meaning individuals can hold to either policy. Decisions about which policy to follow should be based on their merits, not the personality of the person proposing them.

The next problem is that once elected, compassionate conservatism looked alot like diet liberalism in practice (at least fiscally). While President Bush made great headway in the area of tax cuts - which did provide a boon for the economy - his drastic spending increases (even discounting for the defense budget) erased a budget surplus in front of the nations eyes.

Now, on the whole, I believe President Bush to have been an excellent president (hows that for an unpopular position). He has shown himself a principled conservative on social issues, but he and the congressional Republicans have done the conservative platform no favors when they abandoned the principles of limited government.

The way I see it, Republicans in general and conservatives in particular, have two tasks at hand:

1) Educate the public as to why conservative principles make sound public policy and
2) Convince the electorate that they are going to be the party of limited government again.

The big question is can it be done? If so, how should we start?

US Auto Industry (part II)

Where do we go from here?

Given that Detroit's problems are of our own making as a nation (see previous post), we do bear some responsibilty to help them get back on track. However, without the ability to manufacture vehicles at a cost that permits them to sell at a profit is like throwing money down a hole.

Financial assistance is in order, but Detroit also needs to be rescued from a labor union contract that prevents them from selling vehicles at a profit. The need to be released from government requirements that force them to sell unprofitable vehicles.

Unfortunately, this is what will most likely happen: Pelosi & Reid will give them financial assistance, but instead of permitting Detroit to profit, they will impose stricter efficiency standards. And since the Democrat Party is in the pocket of the Unions, there will be no relief in sight on that front either. President Bush may resist somwhat, but will sign it. Detroit will continue to be unprofitable and we the taxpayers will be in an even deeper hole.

US Auto Industry

I've been chewing this over for about a week now in order to determine where I sit on this issue.

While I'm certainly not one to favor bailouts since it prevents individuals and organizations from learning from their mistakes, Detroit is intricately woven throughout our national economy. More importantly, a large portion of the troubles GM and the others are facing is attributable to various federal and state governments - and indirectly to the voters that elected them.

Throughout the presidential campaign, the Democrats blamed the situation on the automakers failure to produce fuel efficient vehicles. This is most certainly nonsense. Since the mid 70's, automakers have been REQUIRED to produce fuel efficient vehicles. The problem is, that Americans did not want fuel efficient vehicles. Even today, many owners regret downsizing their car over this past summer.

Conversely, foreign manufactures have no trouble selling small cars. Given that even at it's highest, US pump prices pale in comparison to those found in Europe and Asia. However, while going green is a good move politically, adding $5/gal in taxes to drive buyers to smaller cars would be political suicide. Putting the onous on the car companies allows voters to temporarily have their cake and eat it to. Sticking it to corporations is always good press.

In order to meet mandated fuel efficiency standards, US manufacturers had to build and sell cars Americans did not want. While foreign manufacturers had demand overseas, they also were not saddled with labor Unions. In order to compete with foreign manufacturers and sell enough small cars to meet CAFE standards, Detroit had to sell them at a loss. While gas was cheap, they were able to cover those losses by selling light trucks and SUV's at a huge premium. With gas prices rising, this was no longer the case. Detroit was selling cars at a loss and was unable to move its money maker.

To be continued...

Well-Meaning Leftist of the Week

The fact that we can empathize with many of the ultimate goals of Leftist policies (there are, of course, prominent exceptions) while taking issue with the counter-productive secondary consequences of those policies is one of the recurrent themes of this blog. Thinking Conservatives don't love things like war and social inequity for their own sake, and pundits who gleefully give this impression are missing the point. Traditionally, though increasingly less so, it has been Conservatives who look for the unintended consequences of a given policy, taking the unpopular long view and opening themselves up to shallow and easy smears. For instance, the only right reason to fight a war is to render a future, more costly war impossible. The only right reason to allow a job to go overseas is to maintain a labor market unfettered by ridiculous employment-hampering regulations (cp. unemployment rates in France). We all agree that war and unemployment are sad facts, but the philosophic integrity of the Right depends on its opposition to sentimental, poorly-conceived policies that actually aggravate these problems in the long run.

With these thoughts in mind, and for your viewing pleasure, I introduce the "Well-Meaning Leftist of the Week" feature. Every week I will highlight a Leftist with a half-baked plan full of good intentions and unintended consequences. (Your suggestions for Leftists to feature, past or present, are welcome). We'll start off all historical-like.

This week: Thomas Jefferson
One of the most controversial battles the legislators of young America faced was how to pay off the IOU's and securities issued to Revolutionary armies as salary. The problem was that many patriotic, hard-fighting citizens had, despairing that they would ever be reimbursed, sold their securities to speculators--some for as little as 15 cents on the dollar. As public credit stabilized, due in part to the Federal Government's confidence-inspiring assumption of the States' debts, these securities and IOU's approached their former worth. As you can imagine, Jefferson and his party were vehemently against rewarding the weaselly speculators and in favor of tracking down the original holders (however that was to be done). Alexander Hamilton, on the other hand, recognized that, at this juncture in the Country's history, it was more important than ever to ensure confidence in the Government's ability to uphold the law. As Ron Chernow writes in his biography of Hamilton, "The knowledge that government could not interfere retroactively with a financial transaction was so to outweigh any short-term expediency." Hamilton recognized that it would be better for every citizen, great and small, if they could be sure the incentives put in place to encourage hard work, industry, and innovation would be honored. Jefferson, despite his usual understanding of the "paradox of liberty and law," ignored this fact, and so earns his place as the well-meaning Leftist of the week.

Packaging the conservative message.

A thoughtful post over at Powerline begins to ponder the best course for the Republican party to become politically competitive again. It's a long read, but well worth it - while the GOP is most definitely NOT synonymous with conservatism, it is definitely the best hope for conservatives to make their case.

Conservatism often involves tough love while modern liberalism promises to fix things. I was planning on posting more on this (and will later today), but Powerline hits several of the points I will be touching on later.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Freedom for Thought

"The great threat to freedom is the concentration of power."
~Milton Friedman

"In proportion as you give the state power to do things for you, you give it power to do things to you."
~Albert Jay Nock

Senate race summary - and why you should care.

Just a quick summation of my posts on the Senate races still in play:

Alaska - Ted Stevens(R) slightly ahead with absentee ballots still to be counted - should Stevens hang on, he will likely lose his seat due to a felony conviction (failure to disclose gifts). Should that occur, a special election would be held within 60 days of the vacancy to fill the seat.

Georgia - Saxby Chambliss(R) won by 3 percent, but failed to garner in excess of 50% of the vote. Under state law, a runoff election will occur on Dec. 2nd. Chambliss is favored in the runoff, but not a shoo in.

Minnesota - Norm Coleman(R) won by 725 votes - however that lead has mysteriously shrunk to 206 due to the discovery of extra votes for Franken - even though the recount is not until Nov. 19th.

Why do we care? Right now, republicans hold 40 seats. They need at least one more seat to even remotely posses the threat of a filibuster. Realistically they need all three to actually be able to wield that club.

While I remain skeptically hopeful (don't know if that makes sense) that Obama may on occasion attempt to reach across the aisle - I'm sure it wouldn't be to hard for him to reach Olympia Snowe (R-ME) or Arlen Spectre (R-PA) - he would have absolutely no reason to even try without that threat.

Without the potential for filibuster, I am certain Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi will not even look in the direction of the GOP minority. Even if 2010 provides a chance for GOP redemption, alot of bad can happen in two years.

Thank a veteran.

Be sure to honor those who have served (and are still serving) our nation in the cause of freedom.

The Race for Minnesota

By far the most intriguing race left to go is incumbent Republican Norm Coleman vs. Democrat Al Franken. It is this race that should concern every American due since the procedings since election day continue to impact the stability of our own democratic process.

I won't go into much detail here since John Lott does a far better job of analysing the craziness than I could here.

In summary, at the closing of the polls, Coleman led Franken by 725 votes - a slim margin to be sure and close enough to trigger an automatic recount under state law. However, the recount is not until November 19th, and yet since election day, Coleman's lead has shrunk to 221 votes as of Sunday night (205 as of this morning). Reminder - the recount hasn't even started yet.

While it is not unheard of for adjustments to the vote totals to occur, the shear number of votes found in this particular race exceeds the number found in all other races on the Minnesota ballot put together.

On top of this, in a race that is just about a 50-50 split, one would expect some of the adjustments to favor one candidate and some for the other. In this race, every single adjustment favored the Democrat. Tell me that doesn't smell fishy?

The Race for Georgia

This race is probably the least interesting of the three.

Incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss defeated Democrat Jim Martin 49.8% to 46.8%. Georgia state law provides that if no candidate receives 50% of the vote, there is a runoff between the top two candidates.

Since Martin would have to pull almost all of the remaining 3.4% of the vote to overtake him, Chambliss is expected to win the runoff which will be held on December 2nd.

The Race for Alaska

One seat still in the running has Alaska Senator Ted Stevens leading Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich by just over 3000 votes. However, absentee ballots have yet to be counted and officials must wait until Nov. 19th to receive them. However, even if Senator does come out on top, there is that pesky felony conviction hanging over his head.

While I certainly won't be shedding any tears to see one of the Senate's pork champions and his career corruption out of Washington, it is unclear (assuming he holds on to his lead) how the seat would be filled. If (when) his seat were to be vacated, Alaska law requires a special election within 60 days, but there is no definite answer as to whether Governor Palin gets to appoint anyone in the interim.

And you thought the election was over...

Anyone following the Senate races knows that the election is not over yet - and why you should care.

The Democrats currently hold 55 seats. Two seats are held by Independents (Bernie Sanders - VT & Joe Lieberman - CT) who will likely caucus with the Democrats - although on defense issues, Lieberman is at odds with the Democrat Party. The Republicans are currently sitting at 40 seats with 3 left to decide. The last three seats are of critical importance if the GOP is to have any say at all in the direction of this nation. If the Democrats gain control of 60 seats, Republicans will be unable to filibuster even the worst legislation (and more importantly judicial nominations) proposed by our entirely Democrat government.

In an effort to keep this in readable chunks, I'll cover each race in readable chunks.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Open Topic Tuesday

Open Topic Tuesday is an opportunity for anyone to post their perspectives. Something on your mind? Just post a comment to this thread. Right, Left, Center - whatever your affiliation post away!!

Keep it clean (no profanity or name calling). Keep it relevant to the overall theme of the site (we don't care about your shoes). And please keep it serious (humor is okay, but no 9/11 conspiracy theories or Obama is a Muslim posts).

Thanks - you have the floor now.

How can we learn from mistakes...

if no one is permitted to suffer the consequences of their mistakes?

Whether it's the current administration setting aside $700 billion (and lending another $2 trillion) for the banking industry - oh and the US auto industry, and the [insert next giant company], or the coming administration declaring that urgent action is needed for the families who struggle to figure how to pay their bills.

Whether you are a family of 4 or a company with 40,000 employees, the possiblility of failure provides incentive for caution and careful consideration of ones choices.

It should not be a news flash that life involves choices about the allocation of ones resources. Generations past struggled to pay their bills - apparently struggle and careful consideration is a bad thing now days. It is to much to expect individuals to purchase homes they can afford or rent until they can afford.

Businesses fail all the time for many reasons - maybe they provide a good or service that is not in demand, make foolish investments, are inefficient, etc. This allows the market to determine who is productive and who is not.

Safety nets promote risky behavior and inefficiency. You'll never learn to ride a bike if you never take the training wheels off.

Looking forward

While it is certainly important to keep an eye on the past in order to learn from both successes and failures, we also need to make sure we understand what is coming.

If you haven't visited already, here is the President Elect's web site. It is critical that we understand the proposals of the next "leader of the free world"

Make informed decisions.

By their teens at the latest, every US citizen knows that they have rights. Students currently taking Civics class may even be familiar with what some of them actually are.

One of my pet peeves is that we are constantly told how critical it is that every person of voting age absolutely MUST vote and that increasing voter participation of itself makes a democracy better. Every citizen has a right to vote, however, if our government is to be of the people and BY the people, individuals exercising that right have just as much a duty to be informed on basic principles impacting our nation as do those they vote for. An uninformed vote is at best like guessing on your SAT's - except that your test scores affect everyone around you.

Declaration of Independence

While clearly not on par with the first two, I'd highly recommend Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics to stay informed when it comes to determining which economic policies canditates and those in office support.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The evangelical vote for Obama

I have been trying to figure out what drove so many evangelical Christians to vote for Obama during this election. Repeatedly I have heard the phrase; “I care very deeply about abortion, but I cannot vote on only one issue”. Some felt there would be absolutely no difference, in the fight to protect the unborn, regardless of which candidate won the election. I am baffled. Look at what the Matthew25 network had to say…

What Barack Obama Will Do

An Obama administration will do more than a McCain administration for the cause of life, by drastically reducing abortions through giving women and families the support and the tools they need to choose life. Barack Obama will continue to strive to make a life with dignity for all from the beginning to the end of life possible - by making sure health care is affordable, combating poverty, providing good paying jobs, and ensuring security in life's final years.

Do evangelicals believe this? Barack has shown that he is one of the strongest supporters of any and all abortion ever. Here is a good article to articulate this claim. Obama went beyond extremism when he argued against the BAIPA on the Illinois senate floor. In the debates he claimed a national law was already in place to protect born alive infants, so the IL law was not needed. If that was true, then why was he standing on the senate floor bringing arguments against it? He was against the Illinois law just as he is against any national law that would allow a born alive child to live.

I am no idealist who thinks McCain would have done drastically more than the Bush Administration to end abortion; but McCain, as Bush did, would have appointed judges that read the constitution as it was written. Bring the issue to the States; where we can have some hope of limiting and even ending the gruesome murder of unborn children. Give me a chance to vote instead of a court creating laws.

Map of the evangelical vote.

The upcoming administration.

Paul Mirengoff seems to have the right approach to addressing real concerns conservatives have regarding the coming "change" - although I wouldn't advocate "worry". It is certainly possible for individuals to express concern without worrying.

However, "Show concern, be happy" doesn't work as a song title :)

Hat Tip: Powerline

RE: Not Far from the Tree

Thanks for that article (an excellent example of unintended consequences). I've always enjoyed your father's writing.

As far as "trickle down economics", the phrase itself was an attempt to market fiscally conservative tax policies - in actuallity, there is no real "trickle down theory of economics".

Marketing is one area where the left has a definite advantage. Most policies favored by the left seem good on the surface. After all, if the government needs more money (not getting into spending issues here), they should go to the people who have the most since they can most afford it. The boat yard story shows the flaw in that line of thought

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Starting points

No discussion can go anywhere without a starting point. Before we can get to the point of determining the best policy to pursue, we need to establish a starting point or a worldview that most accurately describes the world we live in.

Most policy proposals attempt to address perceived symptoms. For example, I would wager that relatively few enjoyed the runup in gas prices this past (and the previous summer, and the one before that, etc). Oil companies were castigated for making "obscene" profits, the CEO's of the major players were dragged before a congress that demanded to know their annual income.

It is not my intent in this post to discuss this particular issue (plenty of time for that in future posts), just that focusing on symptoms - whether or not high profits and salaries are actually a problem, does nothing for determining proper action or inaction.

The best route to setting upon a particular economic policy is to focus on what drives individuals (and groups of individuals such as corporations and governments) to behave as they do. What drives people to provide a particular good or service.

Simple observation should suffice to determine that man is fallen. Most people, even if they don't believe man has a sinful nature per se, would agree that no individual is perfect. We can train our children to do right, but we cannot change the basic nature of mankind.

While the object of desire may vary from person to person - money, power, acceptance, fame or simply feeling good about oneself- individuals are at heart greedy for something.

Work ethic may differ among individuals, but we all seek to accomplish our goals with the minimum effort necessary to obtain. We are at our hearts lazy.

Putting these to notions together, we see that no individual is going to put forth effort without some sort of compensation (not to be confused with money) in return.

The best policies are going to make use of what we know to be true about the world and all it's imperfections. Policies that deny basic imperfections in the world or believe that the nature of man can be changed by legislation are doomed to fail.

Not Far from the Tree

Check out this archived article from "The Freeman" by my late Dad about the effects of economic intervention in my home town. It's timely. Maybe "trickle-down" has outlived its usefulness as a rally cry, but it's still true that, in general, economic intervention or redistribution hurts more little people than it helps.

Cleaning House

It seems appropriate, at this juncture, to set the tone for the discussion and debate this blog heartily anticipates. I think I can speak for all the contributors to "Case 4 for the Right" when I say that we categorically distance ourselves from the unthinking, visceral pontifications that so often pass for conservative thinking in certain quarters. By way of illustration, a few vows: I will never equate a measured criticism of existing American policy with lack of patriotism. Sometimes the most patriotic thing to do is to dissent, and this unfortunate fact cuts both ways. I will never focus attacks on peripheral issues or straw men, but will attempt to grapple with the essential nature of a given debate. I will endeavor to fully understand and empathize with the positions I critique, and I will always try to feel the weight of arguments directed against me. Our mandate is not to blindly defend the words and actions of all professing conservatives, but to articulate the tenets of an inclusive and "mere" conservative orthodoxy.

The contributors to this blog will perhaps disagree on a number of issues. Almost certainly some responders will disagree. The beauty of liberal democracy ["liberal" in the 19th century sense of generosity and liberty] is that we all agree to have our debates and elections and then go home. We don't bring our armies with us back to Rome. I believe that there is such a thing as truth and that there's only one of it; but I also believe that it's really big, with a lot of contours.

Incidentally, to my way of thinking, that's one of the reasons for smaller government. There are too many right ways of doing things for coercion and uniformity to win the day. (And yet, there is such a thing as error too. "If men were angels, no government would be necessary": let the debates begin!)

What's this all about?

In viewing the trends over the last few elections, it has become clear to me that one of the biggest problems with political conservatism is that many individuals who are conservative (myself included) fail to articulate their views in a persuasive manner.

It's one thing to be in favor of smaller government, support a pro-active military, oppose universal health care or whatever your particular views are. It is another thing to be able to lay a sound basis for why a particular set of views are correct.

It is my hope through this site to foster a better understanding of what conservatism is and aid others in defending their views and persuading those around them.

In view of this past election, it became glaringly clear that if our nation is to make fully informed decisions in future elections, they need a proper understanding of the conservative world view.

The next several posts will attempt to flesh out some basic tenets of conservatism. Comments are welcome. At this time, Case4theRight is looking for contributers. If interested, please comment. Regular commentors who frequently provide thoughful insite may be invited to contribute.