At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Politics and Vice

posted by Jack Kerwick

Nothing like politics more readily reveals man’s intellectual and moral vices.  If ever we were in need of proof of the truth of this proposition, the Republican Party’s presidential primary race supplies it in spades.

The Democratic Party’s penchant for duplicity has long been noted by most readers of this column.  That it seeks “the fundamental transformation” of our country into something bordering on a socialist utopia will be denied only by those who choose to characterize its prime objective in other terms.  The ugly truth is that the Democratic Party of which President Barack H. Obama is the titular head abhors the America conceived by our Founders, an America within which liberty is the cardinal value.  The United States Constitution—the secret to this liberty—is a burden from which Democrats seek relief, for as long as it remains, it stands as a monumental impediment to their agenda, a systematic program that involves nothing more or less than the repeal of the Revolution of 1776. 

These are harsh words.  They are also true words. 

But lest my judgment be mistaken for a specimen of Republican Party agitprop, it should be noted that, sadly, I believe with every fiber of my being that the Republican Party is no less committed than its rival to revoking theConstitutionalRepublic fashioned by our ancestors. 

To see that this is so, we need to look neither long nor hard. 

Consider, first, that our Founders chose to secede from their Mother country because of the abuses of which they convicted the English government.  This is particularly telling, for by our standards, the latter was about as close an approximation of the ideal of a “laissez-faire” government vis-à-vis the North American colonies as any that has ever existed.  At the very least, it wasn’t remotely as intrusive as is our federal government today.  Still, our Founders, in love as they were with liberty, determined that it was intolerably oppressive.  As a result, they sought to establish, not a sovereign state, but a “federation” of sovereign states. In this new political arrangement the national government would only rarely be heard and almost never seen: as the offspring of the states, it would exist for their sakes only.

Next, consider the Republican Party’s view of the federal government today. 

While their rhetoric may at times suggest otherwise, both their utterances and deeds at most other times inform us in no uncertain terms that establishment Republicans believe just as strongly as Democrats in the supremacy of the federal government.  After all, it is Republicans more so than anyone else who expect for our federal government to lead—always through force—not just the United States, which would be bad enough, but the planet.  Although there isn’t anything remotely defensive about an interminable American project of “democratizing” the globe, so-called “defense spending,” which already consumes no small amount of all national spending, is sacrosanct for Republicans: there isn’t a single proposed cut that they won’t swiftly reject.

Even domestically, though, Republicans are no less in favor of Big Government. 

Whenever Republicans are in power, they never aspire to affect any meaningful reductions in the size of government.  During the 1990’s, Gingrich was in the vanguard of the much vaunted (and highly exaggerated) “Republican Revolution,” a media-hyped phenomenon whereby Republicans assumed control of both chambers of Congress for the first time in decades.  As Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gingrich’s became the face of this “Revolution.”  Now, as a presidential aspirant, Gingrich is busy touting his accomplishments as Speaker.  He helped to “balance the budget,” create a budget surplus, and “reform” welfare, he tells us.  While all of this is true, notice that Gingrich has not mentioned a single program for which he and the Republicans can be credited with slashing during their tenure in power. 

He has not mentioned a single such program because he cannot make mention of one.  Nothing of this sort exists.

Nor does the fact that there was a Democratic president during the 1990’s explain away Republicans’ failure in this regard.  Even when Republicans held the presidency and the Congress, they not only maintained those programs and agencies that were in place; they created policies that served to enlarge the federal government further.  The “Compassionate Conservatism” of President George W. Bush is nothing other than a robust and comprehensive species of “Welfarism.”  Whether it is “No Child Left Behind,” “the Home Ownership Society,” “Faith-Based Initiatives,” “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” or any number of other policies, the Republicans under President Bush, with their “Compassionate Conservatism,” managed to grow the government at a rate that hadn’t been seen since Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society.”

No, today’s Republican Party is galaxies removed from the world of our Founders. 

And yet this generation of Republicans, both elected officials as well as the rank and file of the party, speaks as if it were a contemporary replica of the founding generation. 

It can’t be repeated often enough that for however politically unpopular the language of “Compassionate Conservatism” may be now at days, there is no one among the field of GOP presidential candidates, except for Ron Paul, that has to date repudiated this ideology of Big Government.  Worse, Republicans continue to advocate policies that require further centralization of the federal government at the same time at which they speak of “limiting” it. 

However, nothing reveals the hypocrisy and inconsistency of Republicans more than their reactions to the presidential primary race. 

Ron Paul is the one candidate who is deadly serious about returning our government to the vision embodied in our Constitution.  Some may take issue with the proposition that he is the only such candidate; yet none would dare to take issue with the proposition that he is as impassioned and ardent an exponent of genuinely Constitutional government as any that it has. But Ron Paul has been ignored, dismissed, and trivialized by the establishment of his party.  Instead of turning to him, the majority of Republicans have instead looked toward most of the other candidates—all of whom are practically indistinguishable from one another. 

Now, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are the contest’s frontrunners.  This about says it all.  Both are establishment figures; both have been vocal advocates of socialistic designs, whether health insurance “mandates,” “initiatives” to combat “Global Warming,” the venture to deliver “Democracy” to the proverbial Four Corners of the Earth via the United States military, etc.; and both now have establishment Republican pundits producing one lame excuse after the other in their transparent—and pathetic—attempts to render these champions of Big Government appealing to the base of their party.

Mitt Romney, we are told, really is conservative; he just fooled (deceived) the Democratic voters of Massachusetts into believing otherwise when he ran for office in that state.  In any event, regarding healthcare, although he expressed his desire to do for America what he did for Massachusetts, he now claims that he has changed his mind on this point.  And even though Gingrich just two years ago appeared in an ad with Nancy Pelosi in which he helped the latter promote “Cap-and-Trade,” he now acknowledges that it was a mistake. 

This, of course, is just a sampling of the sort of intellectual gymnastics in which the pundits are engaging with respect to polishing Gingrich’s and Romney’s images. 

 Rest assured, there will be much more reality-denying to come.

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

originally published at The New American 

 

 

For Whom Should A Liberty Loving Republican Vote?

posted by Jack Kerwick

You are a Republican.  You consider yourself a “conservative,” maybe even a “Tea Partier.”  But whatever you prefer to call yourself, the truth of the matter is that there are some basic facts of contemporary American political life that you detest.

First, the federal government has grown well beyond anything that our Founding Fathers could have envisioned.  Today, it has come to assume authority over virtually every aspect of your life.

Inseparable from this first fact is another: you have far less liberty as an American than you should have under the United States Constitution.  The exponential expansion of the federal government over the decades has been inevitably attended by an equally exponential diminution of liberty.

Third, both major national parties, Republicans and Democrats, “conservatives” and “liberals” alike, in spite of their assurances to the contrary, have continued to feed the Leviathan that is our federal government.

You want change.  You want real change. 

More specifically, you want for your elected representatives to finally—finally!—walk in accordance with their talk.  You want, in other words, for Republicans to proceed to revoke the Big Government agenda that has dominated American politics for most of the twentieth century to the present.  You ache for politicians who will fight to restore the Constitutional Republic that our Founders bequeathed to us, politicians who will supplement their rhetoric of “limited government” with real action.

As a self-avowed “conservative” or Tea Partier, you have had it with establishment Republicans.  You have had it with those prominent figures in your own party who live to convince “independents” and “moderates” that it is “an open tent,” so to speak, a party able and willing to accommodate a rich, even staggering, diversity of viewpoints.  It isn’t that you have a problem with intellectual diversity in itself; it is just that you know all too well that the only viewpoints that establishment Republicans are eager to embrace when they speak thus are those that entail an ever larger role for the federal government in our daily activities. 

Establishment Republicans have proven time and time again that they are most certainly not in favor of the “limited” or “constitutional” government to which they routinely pay lip service.  With this you are exasperated.  But you are just as exhausted with those establishment Republican politicians who never tire of trying to convince you that they are not establishment Republicans. 

Since their crushing losses in ’06 and ’08, Republicans have expressed regret over having “lost their way.”  While you are relieved that they have conceded their betrayal of the very principles for which they have claimed to stand, you are no less frustrated now than you were while they were in power, for you still don’t know what in the Republican Party agenda has changed.

Now there is another Republican Party presidential primary race.  Let’s say that you don’t know the names of any of the contestants.  All that you know is the following.

Of the seven candidates, all of them, save one, adamantly supports “the War on Terror.”  More specifically, they support President George W. Bush’s “Freedom Agenda,” an enterprise that requires the United States government to deploy the time, treasure, and blood of its citizens toward the end of “spreading Democracy” throughout the world.  It was for the sake of this mission that we have spent the last decade attempting to “fundamentally transform”Iraq and Afghanistan.  

It is also for the purpose of waging “the War on Terror” that all of the candidates, save one, enthusiastically endorse “the Patriot Act;” the nationalization of airport security; and every liberty-imperiling measure ostensibly intended to provide ever greater security for Americans.

In other words, the very same policies that drove legions of American voters into the arms of Democrats in 2006 and 2008 all of the GOP’s presidential candidates, save one, continue to embrace just as ardently now as they did back then.

Although most of the base of the Republican Party, and, truth be told, most Americans, oppose “foreign aid,” all of the candidates, save one, supports it.  This lone candidate deems it unconstitutional and immoral that American citizens should be made to part with their time, energy, and money to subsidize any foreign governments.

All of the candidates claim to oppose the exorbitant spending in which our federal government engages.  Yet none of them, save one, has proposed a substantive plan to address it.  That is, none of the candidates, save one, has specified a single program, much less an agency, that he or she is unequivocally committed to eliminating.  The exceptional candidate, in stark contrast, has explicitly and unequivocally identified one trillion dollars worth of programs and agencies that he or she would abolish within one year of being elected President.  

Here is the proverbial $64,000 question: as a conservative or Tea Partier who seeks to reduce the federal government to a size and a scope that our Constitution would recognize, who among the seven GOP presidential candidates sounds most inviting?

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

originally published at The New American

An Honest Look at Ron Paul

posted by Jack Kerwick

Commentators continually draw attention to the “steadiness” that Mitt Romney has shown vis-à-vis the GOP presidential primary contest.  Romney, they point out, has “steadily” maintained his first place position.  Yet never do these same commentators point out that for all of the race’s “frontrunners” that have come and gone—Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain—Ron Paul has steadily remained in third or fourth place, depending on the polls. 

In this “An Honest Look At…” series, I have sought to show that in spite of their protestations to the contrary, each of the GOP presidential candidates exhibits a penchant for the ideology of Big Government.  Each is either ignorant of or indifferent to the secret of American liberty, a secret that lies within the fact that our national government is supposed to be a federal government, a government to which our Constitution assigns but a few specific “powers.”

As this final edition of the series establishes, it is in the person of Ron Paul alone that the Republican Party’s rhetoric of liberty becomes incarnate. 

Let’s begin by examining Paul’s positions on domestic policy.

 

Domestic Policy

Abortion

Rick Santorum is widely heralded among the Republican Party faithful as a strong “social conservative.”  For example, Santorum, we constantly hear, is as “principled” and stalwart a defender of the unborn as anyone in contemporary politics.  But Ron Paul has proven himself a tireless champion of the unborn, not just in political life but, more tellingly, as an obstetrician.  Over the span of decades, Dr. Paul delivered over 4,000 babies.  Not once did he so much as entertain the possibility of performing an abortion, and he regularly assisted women in pursuing life-affirming alternatives—like adoption—to the life-denying choice of abortion.

If elected President, Paul would seek to pass a Sanctity of Life Act which would identify conception as the beginning of human life.  He would also “effectively” repeal Roe v. Wade and introduce legislation that would prevent “activist judges from interfering with state decisions on life by removing abortion from federal jurisdiction [.]”  Being the Jeffersonian that he is, Paul agrees with our third President that it is at once “sinful and tyrannical” for anyone, whether individuals or governments, to coerce another to subsidize “the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors.”  So, in order to prevent this “sinful and tyrannical” coercion, Paul has expressed his desire to labor inexhaustibly to end all taxpayer-funded abortion services.

Paul, it should be obvious, is as committed—and consistent—an exponent of both “the right to life” and “the right to liberty.”  In both word and deed, Paul has shown that the two are inseparable.

The Economy

Of his Republican competitors, not one forecasted the economic crisis of 2008.  Ron Paul did.  Moreover, Paul predicted as early on as 2001 that the housing market was headed for a crash, an event that would have dire ramifications for our entire economy.  Unlike some of the other GOP presidential candidates, Paul staunchly opposed TARP and “the bailouts” of which it consisted.  He recognized—and insisted—that the government’s response to the economic crisis was an instance of precisely the sort of intervention in our economy that fueled it to begin with.  Correctly, Paul as well predicted that such intervention, far from abetting this crisis, would actually exacerbate it.

To begin repairing our economy and restoring our lost liberties, Paul suggests some measures that, as President, he promises to appropriate. 

First, he will veto any and all unbalanced budgets that Congress sends to him.

Second, he will steadfastly refuse any proposed increases in the debt ceiling. 

Third, upon insisting upon a “full” audit of the Federal Reserve, President Paul would set his sights on abolishing it.

Fourth, Paul would establish “sound money,” so that our government could never again dream of dramatically debasing the dollar by printing money out of thin air, so speak.

Fifth, Paul advocates the elimination of the income tax, the death tax, and capital gains taxes.  With a President Paul in the White House, Americans would be able to actually keep their legally acquired property.

Sixth, Paul would affect a drastic reduction in gas prices by way of a number of measures.  He would allow off shore drilling, eliminate the highway motor fuel tax, increase the mileage reimbursement rates, and supply tax credits to those utilizing and producing natural gas vehicles.

Seventh, as Investor Business Daily has acknowledged, Paul is the only candidate in the GOP (or, for that matter, the Democratic) field that has shown seriousness regarding spending cuts.  He has released a plan that would cut spending by one trillion dollars, not in ten or twelve or 15 years, but in one year. 

Second Amendment

Congressman Paul is as faithful a friend to Americans’ right to bear arms as any that it has ever had.  He has made legislative proposals to repeal both the Brady Bill as well the ban on “assault weapons.”  Furthermore, Paul has sponsored legislation that would withdrawAmericafrom the United Nations, an international body that has sought to impose “gun control” plans—like “the Small Arms Treaty”—around the world.  Paul, it would appear, has this peculiar notion that it is unconscionable that American taxpayers should be forced to subsidize such efforts.  Finally, Paul authored a bill that would permit airline pilots and other “specially trained law enforcement personnel” to carry fire arms aboard commercial airlines.

 

Foreign Policy

Ron Paul is opposed to all foreign aid.  He discerns no small measure of injustice in an arrangement under which Americans are made to part with their legally acquired earnings in order to fund foreign governments.

As far as national defense is concerned, the conventional wisdom among establishment Republicans is that Ron Paul is something on the order of an appeaser.  However, we needn’t look far to see through this piece of reasoning for the folly that it is.    

First, of the eight GOP presidential candidates, Ron Paul is the only one that has actually served in the military.  Secondly, he routinely receives more in the way of monetary contributions from active-duty military personnel than all of the other candidates—and their Commander-In-Chief—combined.  Third, Ronald Reagan, upon whom Paul’s Republican detractors look as a great “conservative” god of a sort, once remarked of him: “Ron Paul is one of the outstanding leaders fighting for a stronger national defense.  As a former Air Force officer, he knows well the needs of our armed forces, and he always puts them first. We need to keep him fighting for our country.” 

But there is much more to show that not only is Paul not the appeaser that his Republican foes make him out to be; he is actually more serious—much more serious—than are they about national defense.

National defense is the one, the singularly most important, of the federal government’s responsibilities.  This Ron Paul believes firmly.  Thus, he finds it inexcusable that Americans are being compelled to invest billions of dollars annually into protecting the borders of other countries while the borders of their own country remain porous.  Correcting this injustice and devoting the resources of the federal government back to where it belongs—America’s borders—Ron Paul considers the greatest of our nation’s priorities.  

Paul voted in favor of America’s deployment of military force in order to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, as well as other targeted terrorists.  Yet he adamantly rejects as a colossal waste in treasure and blood an interminable “War on Terror” consisting of “the democratization” of the Islamic world and beyond.  “Nation building” is at once unconstitutional and immoral, to say nothing of foolish.

As President, Ron Paul would indeed continue in pursuit of those who would do America harm. But to this end he would employ only those means that our Constitution accommodates.  This, in turn, implies that the Patriot Act would be put swiftly out to pasture.  It also implies that America’s days of waging undeclared wars would just as rapidly come to an end.

 

Conclusion

If Republicans, Tea Partiers, and self-avowed conservatives are truly serious about wanting a presidential candidate who is thoroughly committed to restoring and preserving liberty, then Ron Paul is their candidate—their only candidate.

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

originally published in The New American

An Honest Look at Jon Huntsman

posted by Jack Kerwick

Former Utahgovernor Jon Huntsman has just barely been able to have his voice heard in the Republican Party’s presidential primary race, so low are his polling numbers.  Yet, still, he is a candidate that, not unlike every other such candidate, proudly proclaims his commitment to liberty and, hence, “limited government.” 

But is Huntsman really who he claims to be? 

This is the question with which we must concern ourselves.  Yet as we will see, just a brief look at Huntsman’s utterances and deeds discloses in no time that, in his case, appearance is eons apart from reality.

To Huntsman’s credit, as governor ofUtahhe presided over tax cuts—sales taxes especially—and a simplification of the overall tax code.  For this, the Cato Institute lavished praise upon him.  Yet lest we hastily exploit this fact as proof of his commitment to smaller government, we would be well served to note that the very same libertarian-friendly think tank criticized Huntsman for having “completely dropped the ball on spending, with per capita spending increasing at about 10 percent annually during his tenure.” 

Huntsman believes in “global warming,” and in 2007 he combined forces with the governors of others states to sign the Western Climate Initiative, a bill oriented toward reducing the generation of greenhouse gasses.  This, it is worth observing, would have been bad enough if it was just a matter of the governments of individual states asserting their sovereignty over an issue.  But Huntsman does not have the “states’ rights” card at his disposal in this case.  As it turns out, he appeared in an ad for the organization Environmental Defense, an ad in which he demanded that the federal government “act by capping greenhouse-gas pollution.” 

That Huntsman has now retreated from this position seems more than coincidental.  However, his stated reason for revising his earlier view is telling: “Much of this discussion [concerning ‘Cap-and-Trade’] happened before the bottom fell out of the economy, and until it comes back, this isn’t the moment [for ‘Cap-and-Trade’]” (emphases mine). 

Notice, for Huntsman, the problem with so-called “Cap-and-Trade” hasn’t anything whatsoever to do with liberty; the problem—presumably, the only problem that would prevent us from pursuing this policy—is that we lack the material resources to effectively implement it. “Five years ago” we could afford to permit the federal government to conscript American taxpayers into the service of subsidizing this gargantuan policy; today we cannot.  However, once our economy bounces back, we will then be able to afford it once more!

On immigration, Huntsman is no different from his colleague and rival, Rick Perry.  Perry, everyone now knows, permitted illegal aliens pursuing a higher education at any of Texas’s public universities and colleges to pay in-state tuition rates.  Less well known is that Huntsman was equally generous with the resources of Utah’s citizens toward the illegal aliens in his state.  As Governor, he promised to veto any bill that would deprive the illegal residents of Utah of the benefit of in-state tuition rates should they go to college.  Huntsman also signed a bill granting illegal aliens “driving-privilege cards.”  Under this bill,Utah’s illegal residents would be permitted to obtain driving “privileges,” but they would not be permitted to use these licenses as forms of identification.

American liberty is inseparable from the rule of law.  Indeed, without the rule of law, there is no liberty.  Those who would govern should know this better than anyone.  Thus, when someone, like Huntsman, who is entrusted with the heavy responsibility of safeguarding the law not only fails to do so but actively undercuts it, he reveals himself to be a threat to our liberty. 

More recently, Huntsman expressed his desire to break apart our nation’s largest financial institutions, those banks that the conventional wisdom deems “too big to fail.”  That this is no mere desire on his part, that it is something to which he has given considerable thought, is born out by the fact that he has actually designed a plan to bring it about.  According to Huntsman, the only way we can avoid taxpayer-subsidized bank bailouts of the sort to which we were subjected in 2008 is to legislate out of existence these banks that are, supposedly, “too big to fail.”  Because, in his estimation, the banks at present remain “too big to fail,” the bailouts of 2008 were necessary. 

Given these aspects of Jon Huntsman’s record, it is no wonder that the left-leaning Huffingtonpost described him as a Republican “with moderate positions who was willing to work substantively with” President Obama.

As far as his approach to foreign policy is concerned, although it is true that he opposes the Patriot Act and seeks to bring American military personnel home from the Middle East sooner rather than later, it would be a mistake to conclude from this that Huntsman is any less of an “interventionist” than his more hawkish Republican colleagues.  Prior to being confirmed as President Obama’s Ambassador toChina, Huntsman promised that, if his confirmation went through, he would see to it that there would be “robust engagement” with China vis-à-vis the issue of “human rights.”  He also advocates an American/China alliance to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Our analysis need go no further, for our conclusion is inescapable: Jon Huntsman is an apostle of Big Government.

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

originally published in The New American 

 

 

 

 

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