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At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

2013 Resolutions for “Conservatives”

posted by Jack Kerwick

In the spirit of this holiday, I suggest the following list of resolutions for Republicans for 2013.

Republicans must resolve to:

(1). Acknowledge that your party is not a “conservative” party.  Recognize, and then admit, that it is a neoconservative party.

(2). Come to terms with the fact that neoconservatism is almost as antithetical to genuine conservatism as is welfare-liberalism, socialism, and, in short, full-blown leftism.  And then realize that this is because neoconservatism is but another species of the latter.

(3). Disavow anyone among your ranks who prides himself upon being, say, a “Kennedy Democrat,” or a “Scoop Jackson Democrat.”  You should resolve to disavow such a person just as quickly as you should disavow a self-declared “conservative” who regards The Weekly Standard and Commentary as “conservative” publications.  Fortunately, these are two birds for which you will need only one stone, for it is a certainty that anyone who professes to be a Democrat in the mold of JFK or Scoop Jackson will think of these publications as conservative in nature.

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(4). See “conservative” talk radio and Fox News for what they are.  If Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and others really are “alternative media” voices, as they are forever assuring us, this is only because they are an acceptable alternative.  And they are an acceptable alternative only because they are a scripted alternative.   

Our “conservative alternative media” unfailingly adheres to the Politically Correct script.  This is why the left has succeeded in not only maintaining, but actually strengthening its hold over our culture during just that period that our “alternative media” has exploded.

(5). Abandon all cult-like worship of all politicians—particularly those at the national level.  Few things are as inimical to liberty as this.  Republicans seem to have a glimmer of this insight whenever they speak to the phenomenon that Sean Hannity routinely refers to as “Obamamania.”  Yet when it comes to the boulder in their own collective eye, they are oblivious. 

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Yes, the elevation of Barack Hussein Obama to the stature of a deity is both idolatrous and dangerous.  However, it is no less idolatrous or dangerous when Ronald Wilson Reagan is immortalized.  For that matter, it is equally idolatrous and dangerous to deify Abraham Lincoln and even “the Founders.”

This brings us to our next resolution.

(6). Eschew the deification of all politicians, certainly, but especially those who have championed, not just “Big” government, but Gargantuan Government. 

Indeed, it is without exaggeration that Republicans can be said to worship Lincoln.  Our 16th president they have canonized as a saint.  Yet there is no figure in American history who has done more to “fundamentally transform” the relationship between the citizen and the government than “Honest Abe.” 

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Via four long years of the bloodiest war Americans, to the present day, had ever seen, Lincoln succeeded in revoking the Founders’ vision of a federalized, constitutional government rooted in states’ rights.  He was the stuff of which the anti-Federalists’ (and many of the Federalists’) nightmares were made. Lincoln established the precedent for the ever growing consolidation of authority and power that continues to unfold at neck-breaking speed today.

Stop worshipping Lincoln and start realizing that he was as perilous a threat to liberty that America has ever faced.

(7). Drop all talk of “the Reagan Revolution.” This is closely related to the last resolution. 

There was no revolution.  Federal debts and deficits ballooned under Reagan. No department, no program, was eliminated.  Taxes were cut, yes, but so too were they increased, and they were increased more frequently, and far more significantly, than they were reduced.

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Reagan talked a good game—a great game, actually.  But he didn’t walk so well.

In practice, Reagan was every much a champion of Gargantuan Government as the Democrats with whom (he all too infrequently) did battle.

(8). Continuing this same theme, repent of the cover that you ran for George W. Bush throughout his presidency. 

Any politician who refers to himself as a “compassionate conservative” is neither compassionate nor conservative.  Government exists to see to it that justice is done.  Compassion is for individuals to dispense.  Bush was as gargantuan a spender of tax monies as any politician has ever been.  He increased the size and scope of the federal government.

Obama is our president today because Bush was our president yesterday.

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(9). Concede the glaring inconsistency of simultaneously advocating “limited government” while calling for a larger military.  In other words, recognize that the military is government, that the larger the military, the larger the government.

If you are in favor of a smaller, less intrusive government, then you must favor a smaller, or at least not a larger, military.  If, on the other hand, you favor a larger military, then you favor a larger, not a smaller, government.

(10). Call out, by name, those self-declared “conservatives” who actually threaten the cause of liberty.  Even if this proves to be an endless task, which it undoubtedly will, it is a task that needs to be fulfilled.

Happy New Year!

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In Praise of the Hangman

posted by Jack Kerwick

On Monday, Christmas Eve, 62 year-old William Spengler set fire to his home in upstate New York.  When four firefighters arrived, he rained down a storm of bullets, killing two of them.  He also shot at the police before taking his own life.

That Spengler is now numbered among the dead is cause for rejoicing.  However, that his death came at his own hands, and that it didn’t happen years ago, proves that justice was denied her due.

You see, Spengler spent 17 years in prison for having beaten to death his own grandmother back in 1980. 

Evil there will always be, but if, as Americans insist, ours is a nation of laws, there can be no conceivable justification for the fact that Spengler continued to enjoy oxygen for one minute, let alone three decades, after he was convicted of this horrific murder.  It is nothing short of a scandal that he was released from prison after having served but a 17 year sentence.   

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As the eighteenth century philosopher Immanuel Kant said, who ever “has committed murder, must die.”  

All of the associates of a civil association are related to one another in terms of laws. Unlike decrees, commands, and orders, laws do not tell us what to do.  Rather, they merely tell us how we must do whatever it is we choose to do.  Laws are the terms of self-governance, that which distinguishes persons from beasts, free agents from slaves and beasts.

Justice is the one and only virtue of a civil association.  It is the blood that courses through its veins.  Injustice—outlawry—is toxic to it.    

Every crime is an injection of poison into the bloodstream of civil association, an assault against each and every associate of whom the criminal declares himself an enemy. Thus, every criminal must be punished to the fullest extent of the law, as we say.

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For the actions of the Spenglers of the world, though—the monsters among us—death is the only fitting response.

By way of executing murderers and the chronically violent, the members of civil association resoundingly, unmistakably, affirm their respect, indeed, their reverence, for the only thread that unites them into one body: the law. 

Mere imprisonment of heinous and pathological violators of the laws, even if it is supposed to be for life, is unjust.  As long as the murderer or the torturer remains alive, far from being vanquished from the association that he threatened, he now becomes its ward: if he lives 100 years or more, every moment of his existence will be courtesy of the associates that now have to subsidize him.

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Justice screams for the death penalty, for the most egregious criminals deserve it and their victims—every law-abiding citizen—deserve that they should be subjected to it.

Murderers (and, I would add, torturers and other assortments of pathologically violent criminal offenders) must die.

Although every action taken by the government of a civil association in addressing crime (or anything else) should be motivated by the desire to do justice, it is both possible and desirable that our desire for justice be supplemented by our compassion for those directly harmed by predators.

Compassion and justice, ideally, form a seamless whole.  They need not be in conflict with one another.  In fact, more frequently than not, we see that our compassion extends most readily to those who have been denied justice.

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Personally, my heart aches for those who have been ravaged by the savage.  I needn’t lose my three year-old son, wife, mother, or close friend to a murderous thug in order to empathize—genuinely, deeply, empathize—with those who have lost their loved ones.  And I needn’t go through any of this personally in order to feel to the depths of my soul the injustice of it all.

It pains me to know that our prisons are jammed pack with vermin who haven’t the slightest regard for human life. Such is my compassion for those who have been reduced to prey, such is my thirst for righteousness, that, in the proverbial “New York minute,” I would gladly offer my services, free of charge, in the capacity of the Hangman.

Many will doubtless recoil in shock and disgust at this.  But consider:

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If I chose to enlist my resources in the service of killing enemy combatants in a war in which my country was engaged, I would be lionized for my patriotism and heroism. There would be hardly a place to which I could travel where I wouldn’t be “thanked for my service.”  Film upon film would be made glorifying my sacrifices and exploits.

Yet while some of the men who I would kill may very well be wicked, each would be doing exactly what I would be doing: fighting for the values of his people and his land.

In contrast, the bottom feeders whose lives I would extinguish as Hangman are the worst of the worst criminals. Unlike the Japanese and Germans in WWII, say, or the Vietnamese and the Iraqis in the Vietnam and Iraqi wars, respectively, they are not driven by any commitment to ideals and causes larger than themselves.

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They are evil, and they pose a much larger threat to our civil association than any posed by Al Qaeda,Iran, or any other international entity.  But while I am just as much motivated by the love of country, by justice and fellow feeling, to volunteer to be a Hangman as others are to become soldiers, I will not elicit any of the respect or admiration of the latter.

If there was true justice in our world, it is the Hangman, not the Soldier, who would receive the thanks and the glory.             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The “Reagan Revolution”: A Myth Exploded

posted by Jack Kerwick

As “the conservative movement” seeks to regain its bearings following Barack Obama’s reelection, its adherents should recognize, first of all, that its name doesn’t do justice to its true character.

That is, the conservative movement is actually a neoconservative movement.

With rare exception, virtually every “star” in the movement is a neoconservative.  From the personalities on Fox News to the shining lights of “conservative” talk radio, from “conservative” politicians to the most well known “conservative” writers, there is scarcely an intellect to be found that isn’t indebted to the neoconservative worldview.

Names must be named if constructive change is to occur.

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin, no less than Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, and Bill Bennett; Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, as much as Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich; David Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Michele Malkin, like George Will, David Brooks, and David Frum, are all neoconservatives.

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Translation: they are alike proponents of Gargantuan Government.

There is a superabundance of evidence, from their policy prescriptions to the politicians for whom they have offered endless cover, to substantiate this. But the most glaring exhibit is their veneration of Ronald Wilson Reagan.

To be more accurate, these are actually two exhibits.  The friends of liberty, real conservatives, revere no politician, however virtuous he may be. And they certainly don’t revere politicians at the national level.

The veneration of this politician, though, Reagan, is even more revealing.  Reagan was definitely likable—a fact that, being a Republican president in an era prior to the explosion of non-Democratic-friendly media outlets, speaks to his considerable talents—but he was no conservative.

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Despite all of his “limited government” rhetoric, Reagan was as much of a champion of Gargantuan Government as anyone else.  He is heralded by “conservatives” as a tax cutter. However, his much touted “tax cut” of 1981 was more than offset by two tax increases that year alone, to say nothing of the multiple tax hikes for which Reagan pushed all throughout his eight years in the Oval office.

Federal spending—and, thus, the federal government—expanded exponentially under Reagan. Both the deficit and the debt rose astronomically throughout his two terms.

His promises to the contrary aside, Reagan singularly failed to eliminate a single government program, let alone an agency.

And liberty diminished.

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The deregulation for which Reagan typically receives credit consisted of measures that Jimmy Carter implemented but which didn’t take effect until after the Gipper was already in office.

Reagan did nothing—nothing—to advance conservatism on the cultural front either.  It was the Reagan administration that launched a so-called “war on drugs.”  The idea of a local government rendering it a crime for an adult citizen to ingest a potentially harmful substance is sufficient to make any friend of liberty cock an eyebrow.  The idea of an ostensibly federal government doing so should make him recoil in horror. 

Yet Reagan waged a “war on drugs,” a war that continues over three decades later and that shows zero signs of terminating at any time in the near—or distant—future.

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It is probably the case that, to some extent, Reagan’s tough talk and liberty-centered rhetoric contributed to the implosion of the Soviet Union.  Yet precisely because it was an implosion that befell the evil empire, Reagan was, at best, a catalyst that merely expedited a process of disintegration that had already been well underway.

If there really was a “Reagan revolution,” can someone please say what it accomplished?  It isn’t just that Reagan’s presidency did nothing to arrest, and much to assist, the progressive’s agenda of cultural transformation. Some libertarian-minded thinkers, like Murray Rothbard, for instance, have argued, quite convincingly, that Reagan actually arrested the rising tide of libertarianism that was gaining steam in the mid to late 1970’s by co-opting some of its elements while relegating others to the periphery.

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Ronald Wilson Reagan was neither a conservative nor a libertarian.  Though our verdict on this score is irrefutable, there isn’t a mainstream “conservative” publication in America that would print my argument.  The deification of Reagan has assured this.

But it is just this elevation of Reagan to the stature of a god that discloses for all with eyes to see that “the conservative movement” doomed itself a long time ago.

 

 

 

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Why “the Conservative Movement” is Doomed

posted by Jack Kerwick

The so-called “conservative movement” is all but doomed.

For my gloomy prognostication I offer two sufficiently simple reasons.

First, the movement is dominated by self-serving publicity pimps and their whores who neither know nor care to know a damn thing about genuine conservatism.

Second, the grass roots of the movement, though free of their leaders’ character flaws, are no different than the latter as far as their ignorance of and indifference to the conservative tradition is concerned. 

The mainstream right in this country has been consistently tacking to the left from at least the time of the “Reagan revolution.”  The conservative movement, thus, is but a lighter version of leftism, a slightly less progressive form of progressivism.

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Even during Ronald Reagan’s two terms, a time when conservatism was supposed to have been making this explosive comeback, it was the federal government that was exploding.  We hear much from the mainstream right about Reagan’s tax cuts. We hear not a peep about his multiple tax hikes. Reagan eliminated not a single government agency or department, and he granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants.

How, I would like to know, did Reagan advance the conservative cause vis-à-vis “the social issues”—abortion, “gay rights,” abortion, affirmative action, and illegal immigration? 

Besides, even if Reagan was the great conservative giant that the mainstream right makes him out to be, he was in the last resort but a politician, and a politician in the federal government at that. 

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A true conservative knows better than to endorse messianic politics.  But this is exactly what movement conservatives do when they worship Reagan—or when they revere any politicians as great leaders.

The left sets the terms of the debate and the mainstream right subscribes to them lock, stock, and barrel.  In doing so, the left allows those on the right who are willing to toe its line to be heard. This explains why mainstream rightists employ much of the same lingo as leftists. 

For example, to justify George W. Bush’s “Freedom Agenda”—his neo-imperial crusades in theMiddle East—Fox News personalities and “conservative” talk radio hosts sound no different than their leftist counterparts sound in arguing for various domestic entitlements.  The language of “human rights,” “women rights,” “tolerance,” and “equality” abounds.

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With few exceptions—the Pauls, father and son, say, and maybe some others—the vast majority of mainstream conservative politicians in Washington D.C. are no more interested in repealing Gargantuan Government than are their Democratic rivals.  Rather, what they are interested in is taking control of this government to use for their own purposes.

In other words, they are interested in power.

But it isn’t just mainstream conservative politicians who are intent upon seeing to it that the show continues on.  Mainstream conservative journalists and pundits are equally invested in fooling the rank and file of the movement into believing that they are really interested in advancing truth and liberty.

The movement has no hope because while it claims to oppose the left, it relies upon the same universe of lies upon which the latter is built.

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For example, there is an underlying racial dimension to virtually every issue that we face—how could things be otherwise when both mainstream conservatives and leftists continually tell us that slavery is America’s “original sin?”  Yet no mainstream conservative publication will dare publish a piece that aspires to address racial issues frankly. 

The problem is even worse than this, unfortunately.  The editors of these publications are obsessed with gaining recognition for themselves.  So, they publish writers depending on whether they meet a few criteria. 

First, writers should have some name recognition themselves.  If your name is Buchanan or Coulter or Limbaugh, you’re in.

Second, like moths, they must be ever on the move, addressing only those topics that engage readers’ interest at the moment.  The timeless, or even attempts to tie the timeless in with the topical, are discouraged. In other words, events, and maybe people, are paramount.  Ideas, though, are generally not welcome.  

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Third, whatever writers say about current events, they must make sure that they remain within the bounds of acceptable—i.e. Politically Correct—discourse: the more conventional and, hence, humdrum, the better, and the safer, both editor and writer will be.

Last but certainly not least: writers must write as if they are addressing eight graders.

Anyone who doubts me on this need only look at any number of mainstream publications—from World Net Daily to American Thinker, from Townhall to National Review—to see that, with some notable exceptions, their commentators suffer from a conspicuous lack of daring and imagination.

The mainstream conservative movement, as I say, is doomed.

 

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