Tuesday, April 26, 2011


According to CNN, more than 4 in 10 Republicans don't think Obama was born in the US.

The constant refrain is that Obama could end this in a minute; assuming he could, why would he as this will be a huge asset to his campaign.  What a terrible distraction. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

What are the philosophical underpinnings of the conservative movement.

A short muse about conservatism....

For those that label Obama as a Socialist/Marxists; do they know the (a)theological underpinnings of the current conservative movement? I am a "conservative" insomuch as I believe there must be a proper balance between the tyranny of individualism and the tyranny of authoritarianism; I am also a conservative because I have a very pessimistic view of human nature.  This is fairly consistent with classical conservatism and those such as Edmund Burke. But, from what I can see, the modern conservative movement has totally abandoned the sensible political and moral moderation of Burks philosophy and exchanged it for some weird amalgamation of Ayn Rand (libertarians and uber-individualist) and Leo Strauss (semi-authoritarian; Neocon);  both of these people atheist by the way.  What is even weirder is how the Christian right can swallow both of these contradictory pills and come out with something resembling a cohesive political theory (i.e. Sarah Palin).  Conservatism after all was in many ways an 18th century reaction to the governance of pure ideology and the overreaching of the liberalism of the day (i.e. Rousseau).  Unfortunately, many have made something they think is "conservative" into their own ideology.  All things in moderation, especially political ideology as each one will fail in its own good time.

More on this later; I just wanted to get my thoughts started on this topic.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Revisionism on the right

Reading this kind of drivel that Frank Turek writes here saddens me for both the future of American conservatism and evangelicalism. Are we really so stupid as to buy this back of lies?

On the other hand, the Founders were Christian people with a proper understanding of human nature who thus recognized that absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. So neither did they want the instability and abuse of power characteristic of a secular government. As a result, they brilliantly developed the perfect third alternative to the religious-secular dilemma. Instead of creating their own secular system or adopting laws directly from a sectarian religion, the founders wisely based the United States on the Moral Law (“Nature’s Law” in Jefferson’s words), which comes from God.
It is critical to recognize that our Founders based our government and moral rights on a theistic God, not on someone’s sectarian religion. This Moral Law is consistent with Christianity but does not require adherence to Christianity or even knowledge of the Bible. In fact the Bible itself says that even those who don’t have the Bible know basic right and wrong because God has “written it on their hearts” (Rom. 2:14-15).
In this respect, one could say that the country was founded on Christian theism, but the founders did not mandate the observance of Christianity. So even though most of the Founders were orthodox Christians who believed the Rights of the people came from God, they did not insist that every citizen believe in God; they simply saw no way to justify those natural moral Rights unless God exists. 

This is what is being passed for truth on conservative blogs and news shows.   Funny that Turek references Jefferson.   If anyone believes this, please study Jefferson, Madison, and especially Patrick Henry.  Then get back to me.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Guest Worker Plan, reasonable enforcement, and assimilation

It seems to me that one of the reasons that we don’t have good immigration reform is because of the failure to come up with a bill that would alleviate concerns from those on both sides of the debate. While I realize that good immigration reform includes much more than our policies on our southern border, I am going to focus on that since it is the most politically dicey. There is a third side that would like to keep things the way they are just for the cheap labor, and we will never please them (perhaps they are the one beating the drums). First, I think it is important to realize that there are different reasons for immigrating to the US for those from the south of us (Mexicans and central and southern American’s). Some of these immigrants want to bring their families over here, start a new life, and eventually gain citizenship; some are fleeing economic and political problems; others just come here to work to support their family. I believe that the last category is probably the largest category, and the least likely to assimilate to our culture. These people would prefer to live in their own country, just coming here to work. The problem is that the current system forces them to stay, which means they often bring their family also. I think that this category of people ends up getting stuck here as the economy from where they left often doesn’t improve (it didn’t help that the entire family left the community) .

Those that come to start a new life here are more similar to those immigrants from Europe in the last couple of centuries in that they expect to stay, expect their children to learn the language (many of them will try also), and see themselves as part of the American culture (even if they are also part of a Hispanic culture). From my experience, most of these people already have family that are citizens in the US, and are generally are more highly paid that the guest worker. I think giving this group an easier path to citizenship is important, but there is reason not to include it in the first steps since it is so politically dicey.
So, I think immigration reforms would be fairly popular and would help to improve the situation enough to eventually give citizenship to those that want it.
Guest Worker Plan – Allow non-criminal adult to come here to work, if they have a job lined up (perhaps by some sort of employment agency). This employment agency or company would have to pay a tax to bring this worker into the US (this could help to pay for social services as well as make their labor a little more competitively priced with American’s). All undocumented workers have some time to get into this same system. Allow these workers travel between their home country and the US. I believe that many of their families would return to their country of origin, thus making their communities more stable, and the worker more likely to return once they are able.

Enforcement – Forget about all the talk about increasing border security, deportation, etc (don’t stop what we are currently doing). After some time after the Guest Worker Plan has been instituted, audit all businesses, and make sure they have no undocumented workers (undocumented workers are often paid less than minimum wage). Impose a hefty fine on all businesses unwilling to comply with the law.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The semantic tricks of the left and the pro-life ethic

The left has mastered the art of framing a debate using semantics and accusations of hypocrisy, but let’s not despise them for this work of sophistry. Rather, while we destroy these arguments with logic and rational thought, let’s also explore them to see how we can be more consistent at applying our ethics and values.
A prime example of this is the abortion debate; the primary weapon against the abolition of abortion is how they define what is pro-life and what is pro-choice. Almost to a person, they will say that they are “pro-life”, and they then claim that pro-life means being against war, the death penalty, and against abortion (though they are only “personally” against it). Well, they are defining pro-life as an ethic of pacifism, which is certainly not required to be against abortion. They point out how hypocritical we are by calling for the end of legal abortion while not speaking against state sanctioned killing and war. To them I say that if being against the death penalty is required to be against legalized abortion, then the converse must be true making them as big of hypocrites as us. Actually, by claiming the pacifist mantle along with legalized abortion, I believe they are the hypocrites. The problem is however that the language is just a cover for their actual beliefs about abortion; that the fetus is a parasite and not a person with rights. We can see through history that oppressors and murders always dehumanize their targets, which is no different than what is happening in the abortion argument.

Having said all of this, we need to take their charges of hypocrisy and look inside our thinking to make sure our pro-life ethic is consistently applied to other issues. As I said before, the pro-life ethic is not necessarily one of pacifism (although pacifism can certainly be pro-life), but rather one of justice and the protection of innocent life. Whether it is the Just War Theory (JWT), the death penalty, or abortion, we must always seek to protect innocent life. There is a huge vacuum of thought on the JWT when it comes to our modern wars and an almost reactionary ideology when there are suggestions that the death penalty is unfairly administered. It seems like we must justify any state sanction of violence with sound and just reason.

Does our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan meet the critera for a Just War?

The general criteria for a just war as is follows:
• having just cause
• being a last resort
• being declared by a proper authority
• possessing right intention
• having a reasonable chance of success
• and the end being proportional to the means used

Does the current administration of the death penalty take enough reasonable care to ensure that innocents are not executed? Is there enough deterrence to mitigate the innocent people that will be executed?

What I have begun to realize is that I don’t have enough answers on these questions to take firm positions on the wars or on the death penalty as currently administered. Not that I can’t take a stand one way or the other, but I have to constantly reexamine my positions based on new evidence.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Where is a rational right leaning centrist to go?

To all the people here, what would you do if your party totally went off the deep end? I call myself a centrist now, but only because the Republican party has taken such a hard right that a 90s conservative is pretty much a RINO now. I’m pro-life, pro gun ownership, generally for lower taxes, etc.

On the other hand, I don’t think Obama is leading a socialist revolution against the U.S., (I think he is a little bit to the right of LBJ and FDR) don’t have a problem with the French, believe that mercy is as important on the immigration issue as is justice, am a capitalist that realizes there are too many abuses (and that government is an intuition that can help correct it)… Where do I go? Why do Rs not listen to legitimate complaints of abuses of power by liberals? IMO, liberals are great at pointing out problems if not always good at coming up with reasonable solutions.

I have listened to Rush in the past realizing he was a minority voice and one of entertainment, but grow tired of the current parade of clowns (Beck, Hannity, Savage, etc). Where are the conservative intellectuals? No one is listening to George Will or David Brooks. I’m in the conservative minority in thinking that Palin disqualified herself via her interview (so what if it was a hatchet job) and her quitting in office. I like the idea of divided government, but think the current crop of Rs are merely shills for their own corporate special interest.
Why do Rs and Ds hate centrists? Why can’t they realize that centrist represent more people in their districts as opposed to ideologues which only represent the base. Is this country really cons vs libs? It seems like there is a lot that we all agree on if we had better representatives in the house right now.
Michael McCaul is my congressman, and I’d seriously entertain voting democrat if there was a good one running against him. (Harold Ford Jr is a good example).

/end of rant.

Reliable Sources

If anybody reading this get's their information from Beck, I'd like to hear a reasonable defense of this clown. This "professor" he has on is nothing more than an uneducated fundamentalist historical revisionist. Thomas Jefferson was really an Orthodox Christian?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Basil Marceaux for President

Basil Marceaux for President

I’m a fascist, but you’re a socialist.

Go to RedState.com or DailyKos.com, and you will see these two terms bandied about generously. It seems that there are many schools of thought on why types of insults are so common in American’s political discourse, the term socialism being the insult de jour. The common explanation is that it just a sign of political polarization, anger, and extremism. While all of these things are certainly a factor, I think it has more to do with the fact that the political class has mastered the art of capitalizing on intellectual laziness. This does after all touch on modern American’s two biggest intellectual attributes; the desire to reduce everything to something very simple, and the inherent categorical pattern of thinking, which is a form of prejudicial thinking.
So, all the political class needs to do is to demonize one side by presenting a nice little package for the other side to fit in. If it is the left, communist or socialist will do; if the right, facist or nazi. There is no worry that they will be called on the genetic fallacy as that is built into the thinking of most people (if it quacks like a socialist). This is not to say that there are not elements of these ideologies in our current political ideologies as modern liberals are influenced by Marx and by the American left of the 1930s as well as Conservatives have much in common with some fascist ideology (especially those heavily influenced by the likes of Leo Strauss). American voters make the genetic fallacy (in spades) if they allow these packages to influence their views on an ideology without examining each sides specific views. The implication by these terms is totalitarian government, which I don’t believe is part of either ideology. The problem is that neither ideology fits all characteristics of what we think that socialism and fascism are (liberals policies do have a lot in common with Western democratic socialism, but that is not the image that the pejorative conjures). All ideologies have flaws, but should be able to stand or fall on their own merits rather than categorical similarities alone. Certainly these categories can be helpful if used with care in examine why an ideology might fail or how it developed, but I’m not sure that comparing Obama to Stalin because of increased taxes is such a good idea.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Thoughts on CEO pay

The question you commonly hear from liberals is “Are CEOs paid too much”. A conservative answers that they make whatever the market bears. My question is “are they paid more than they are worth to the corporation, and if so why”? Forget that a CEO might make 1000 times more than the lowest paid employee. Forget that they get a golden parachute. Even forget that they do well even when they are poor managers of the company. Are the power structures that have created this market, based on fair capitalism or are they based on power structures that have conflicts of interest?

Conservatives often bemoan the fact that union employees are and have been overpaid because of undue influence that a union exerts over a corporation, but is it not possible that a ruling class of corporate leaders have been able to exert the same type of power.

I don’t have all the answers, but some questions I will be asking are as follows: How are 401k, mutual fund, and pension fund holders represented by fund managers? To what extent do fund managers and CEOs have similar interests? To what extent do boards (which approve and recommend a salary for a CEO) consists of friends and others with a conflict of interest? For example, does this CEO sit on another CEOs board? How does performance actually affect CEO pay?

I have a hypothesis on this, and tend to think that it is a serious problem, but I’d like to see more actual evidence on either side of the debate.