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In response to:

Tea Party: Learn From Al Gore

Francis W. Porretto Wrote: Jul 10, 2014 7:55 AM
-- "In Mississippi, they're attempting to destroy a good Republican. --" A "good Republican?" Who campaigned on higher Federal spending? Who viciously slandered a decent man to attract the votes of Missouri Democrats in a Republican primary? Whose public behavior has become erratic enough to suspect dementia? Not your best column, Ann. Nor is it nearly your best thinking. Go have a long sit down and think this one over again.
-- " One of my biggest complaints about contemporary conservatism -- in and out of politics -- is that it has lost sight of the importance of storytelling." -- And a serious shortcoming it is. The Right needs skilled storytellers more than ever. A plausible narrative shows important principles in operation among people, rather than presenting them in the bloodless manner of a debate. Our failings at persuasion are largely due to the shortage of persons capable of animating our principles among believable, sympathetic characters trying to meet important challenges.
In response to:

Spending and Morality

Francis W. Porretto Wrote: Jul 09, 2014 10:58 AM
America was the first country to found its government on accepted moral precepts: the State and its agents were in no way exempted from the moral law. What would be criminal for a private citizen would be criminal for a government or any of its employees. I was born too late to live in that America, but I miss it terribly nonetheless.
Though overwrought, this column contains much truth. The key element is this one: -- ...the not-so-hidden desire of the left to wipe out every competing power center in society, and religion is a competing power center. -- Though I would have called religion an alternate source of moral authority rather than a "competing power center," the core insight is dead on target. Left-liberals see society in terms of power blocs, and it is in the nature of competing power blocs to want to wipe out their competitors. Politics begins to become perverse from the instant people view a political affiliation as the sole touchstone for all acceptable thought and opinion. Sadly, here in America that point was reached some time ago.
-- But the cost of benefits would be more than offset by increased economic growth. -- That is an assumption, and a contested one at that. But let's get to the meat of Tanner's assertion: that deporting persons discovered to be here **against our laws** would somehow be wrong or a violation of American principles. Here's an American principle for you, Mr. Tanner: the law applies to everyone equally. That includes immigration law and illegal aliens. If you choose to reject that principle, you'd better move very slowly around me, because you'll have forfeited all basis for trust. It might not be immediately practicable to "round up" and deport all the illegal aliens in the U.S., but the law still applies to them. When, as, and if they become visible to the law, they must be apprehended and deported -- and whether the regime in power does so will tell us if the Rule of Law still means anything in these United States.
Someone should ask this Krupa person how she feels about the death penalty: -- for convicted murderers, -- for abortionists, -- and for persons who incite lethal violence against others. (e.g., Al Sharpton) I'm sure her answers would be...revealing.
You don't read terribly well, do you? Go over the paragraph that starts "The flip side" once more. Try running your thumb under the words if it helps. I FAVOR strict border control. Have a gander here: Oh, never mind. I'll quote the important part for you: -- Borders matter because people matter. Borders are important because there must be a limit on every man's responsibilities for others, and on every nation's, too. Every political system binds its citizens in a web of mutual responsibility. Not for everything, but for the really big things commonly delegated to government: the defense of the realm, the maintenance of order in the streets, a common, generally comprehended legal system, and above all the protection of individuals' rights to life, liberty, and honestly acquired property. Israel granted the Palestinians autonomy within their zones, or, as Eric Frank Russell once put it, "the right to go to Hell in their own fashion." Now that they've chosen their course, they should be allowed to follow it to its conclusion, out of respect not only for their right to do so, but the right of Israelis not to be involved in it. Likewise, America did not agree to shelter or employ the whole world. If our borders were better secured, not only would our streets be safer, but Mexicans' interest in reforming their own polity would be greatly increased. -- Generally speaking, my principles are libertarian but my preferences are conservative. When I want a particular outcome that my principles wouldn't bring about automatically through the action of people's natural inclinations, incentives, and disincentives, I see to it myself, or admit that it's beyond my power, or accept that other people's behavior that doesn't affect me is none of my business. This is called Americanism...or at least it was at one time -- and hewing to it would have averted both the original form of Prohibition and the far more pernicious version in operation today. You're welcome.
A million tangents and not one bull's-eye. You're losing it, Mr. Mitchell. The essential difference between the conservative and the libertarian is that the former is willing to place certain outcomes ahead of whatever principles he claims to hold. The latter is not. Some conservatives, determined to attain those outcomes regardless of all other considerations, will refuse to admit that coercion cannot achieve them even after that's been conclusively demonstrated (e.g., the War on Drugs), and will fall back on nonsense such as "We have to send a message that this is **wrong**." The flip side is that the libertarian, entranced by the power of his principles, is prone to overextending them -- that is, he applies them to situations where they do not and cannot apply (e.g., warfare, border control, abortion, "children's rights"). This can make him look both silly and fanatical, a terrible combination for outreach purposes, which is part of the reason libertarianism has so little hold on American opinion. Given that conservatives have trended more and more libertarian over the past three decades, while the liberty movement has begun to shed its fringier members and weirder assertions, there is hope for an eventual ingathering that will acknowledge the principle of individual rights while conceding that there are areas of life, society, and politics that present conflicts it cannot resolve.
"Nothing gets a progressive more upset than talk of the men who founded our amazing nation." Especially since they were amazing men, with unparalleled achievements (including the U.S.a.) to their credit. They were men to whom no "progressive" thinker could possibly hold a candle -- and "progressives" know it.
Young persons who don't die young have this fascinating habit: they *mature*. This process, in the American context wherein opportunity is essentially unlimited, often causes a re-evaluation of many beliefs previously left unquestioned. I've lost count of the number of contemporaries who were ardent left-liberals in college (that was 45 years ago) and who are passionate libertarian-conservatives today -- and in the typical case, argument had nothing to do with it.
Two observations: First, "compelling governmental interest" is the most pernicious concept ever introduced into jurisprudence. A government is an agent -- a hireling. In the nature of things, it CANNOT have any interests; it can only have responsibilities and delegated powers with which to address them. Second, the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment struck most of the Founders as unnecessary: the Constitution did not give the federal government any responsibility, nor did it grant Washington any power, that could conceivably infringe on religious freedom. Even taxation was a matter anyone could walk away from, as long as the tax in question was indirect -- and direct taxes were heavily discouraged by the requirement that they be levied "in proportion to the population," thus forbidding transfer schemes. Religion was therefore inherently safe from infringement by the federal government, as long as it was confined to the powers and responsibilities enumerated in the Constitution. Of course, that's no longer the case today, which should be food for thought for any religious American.
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