Posts Tagged ‘socialism’

In today’s excerpt from Why Jews Should NOT Be Liberals (2001, rev. 2006), Larry Sternberg returns to the issue of free market capitalism, its benefits, and what part a good Jew should play in the system….

Most observers of American politics would agree that between the two competing political doctrines of liberalism and conservatism, when it comes to promoting, encouraging, stimulating, praising, expanding, and identifying themselves with the free market, capitalistic system, it is conservatism that captures the prize. Of course, liberals welcome the fruits and benefits of the free market, but it is mostly to their liking because it creates sufficient wealth for their redistribution schemes and not because it is the most natural and productive system yet devised by man. Still liberals continue to want to tinker with it, to control it, and when necessary, to intervene with their own pet programs and ideas….

Green Bay Tea Party with signs

Green Bay Tea Party practicing free speech and the right to peaceably assemble in protest

Conservatives, on the other hand, seem to be generally more in favor of permitting people to spend their money as the individual sees fit. They are content to permit the free market to do its wondrous work, and with the “invisible hand” doing its thing, they sit back and enjoy the fruits of their endeavors….”

Yeah, I’d say that about sums it up. No profound insights, but a pretty fair assessment, I think.

So, what does this have to do with American Jews being liberal? If we agree that it is the conservatives who do the best job of growing the free market; and if we agree that the free market is the best system yet devised by man to spread the wealth created among all the participants; and if one of the cherished goals of Judaism is to help solve the problem of poverty, then doesn’t it follow that American Jews should be the foremost champions of growing the free market, and to do this they should be conservatives?

[…] The link between Judaism and capitalism is well described by Ellis Rivkin in his book, The Shaping of Jewish History. Rivkin wrote that it was the onset of capitalism beginning in the late seventeenth century that began to bring freedom to European Jews…. Where Jews participated in the creation of a capitalistic society as in America, they enjoyed a high degree of equality from the outset. Where capitalism failed to gain a secure foothold,… Jews were either expelled or persecuted….

The history of Jews in the modern world makes explicit the connection between individual freedom and developing capitalism. And yet, there seems to persist the notion that somehow capitalism breeds too much greed and selfishness, and we Jews must be the guardians against such evil spirits. It is okay for us Jews to become wealthy and to accrue power and influence through the workings of our marvelous free market, but we’ve got to protect society and the poor and the children from the evil inclinations that must reside in those “other rich and powerful” folk. Apparently, only wealthy Jews (and liberal Democrats) possess that kindness of spirit that entitles them to possess the wealth they accumulate. So we Jews must continue to support the liberal cause because that is the only doctrine that seems to be consistent with our Jewish calling of Tsedekah, and which can control the evil impulses of those other rich guys….

lots of large denomination bills

A Whole Lotta Gelt! Moolah!

Where Jews should be making their contribution to our market economy is by exhibiting the highest morality in their dealings with others in the business world. Our capitalistic system depends on honesty, integrity, and the carrying out of one’s promises. It is when fraud and deceit enter the picture that the worst excesses occur, and when people begin to doubt the value of our system. If Jews who are already so prominent in the business world would stress the positive aspects of the free market and set great examples of honesty in their business dealings, they could do more to help the economy grow and provide jobs than any government program existing. In the process, they would also demonstrate some of the basic morality of our Jewish religion.”

We have seen several examples of “fraud and deceit” in our capitalist society over the past several years — e.g., the Enron debacle, WorldCom, Bernie Madoff, recent scandals involving banks & securities firms, etc. They are actually quite few, when you think of how many businesses, business executives, and big-time investors there are out there. But, they are an embarrassment of sorts and serve as poster-children for corporate greed & corruption, which the socialists and free market skeptics point to as justification for their suspicions & accusations. Let’s not forget, though, that greed and corruption are rampant in socialist/communist nations, too. They just don’t have as much money to steal.

I think it behooves all free-marketers to accept Sternberg’s exhortation, though, especially those of us with a religious worldview that encourages moral, ethical behavior in all aspects of our lives. We must do our level best to act honorably and with moral integrity in all business dealings.

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In his book Why Jews Should NOT Be Liberals (2001, rev. 2006), Larry F. Sternberg gives a bit of history, explaining how Jews in the late-18th & early-19th centuries came to think so highly of “socialism”. Unfortunately, they did not understand the true, basic tenets of the system, and it cost them and their descendants greatly.

Russia's Czar Alexander III

Russia's Czar Alexander III, who began the pogroms against the Jews after inheriting the throne in 1881

The link between Jews and socialism in modern times can be traced to the mass exodus that took place from Eastern Europe to the United States, beginning in 1881. Jews fleeing the tyranny of the czar followed the liberal cause, which was to liberate them from the ghettos. Liberal was a heroic term in Europe, and to break the czar’s rule, socialism was the doctrine most often preached as the way to a better life. Probably most Jews accepting socialism really were not aware of the dictionary definition: “Control by the state of all means of production and economic activity.” They knew only that anything was better than living under the czar, and socialism, with its veneer of brotherhood and charity and sharing, was appealing….

Socialism seemed to progress by pretending to be a liberal, revolutionary movement, freeing up the lives of its supporters, when in reality its basic doctrine is more state control over peoples’ lives. The Nazi Party was known as the National Socialist Party. Communism in Russia was identified as the International Socialist Movement. It was no coincidence that the word “socialist” appears prominently in both of these totalitarian regimes, which together practically decimated European Jewry. Still, there is little doubt that socialism continues to cast its enticing spell over many of our intellectuals today, some of whom have influential teaching positions in our leading universities.

The irony of it all is as [Elie] Koudurie writes [in his book The Jewish World], American Jews have long believed anti-Semitism was encouraged by the political right in America, with the right’s alleged ignoring of the social problems of poverty, prejudice, and its alleged practice of discrimination against Jews in business. Only recently are American Jews discovering that many of our problems emanate from the left with its affluence, permissiveness, wishful thinking, and its substitute of secular liberalism for their own Jewish religion.

What American Jews must always remember is that totalitarian regimes come to power by promising everything to everybody, and then remain in power through force and intimidation. And when things eventually go bad for them, there is always the need for a scapegoat, and who else fits that role but the Jew. Sidney Hook, a liberal for much of his life, is quoted as saying,

‘I was guilty of judging capitalism by its operations and socialism by its hopes and aspirations; capitalism by its works and socialism by its literature.’

Winston Churchill wrote,

‘The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.’

…I tend to believe that the socialist theory of life is not making that much headway among the baby boomers in America. Certainly, if one leans toward Judaism in practically any way, and if one does any studying of the history of socialism and its links to present day liberalism, one would have to reject following socialism in any of its forms.

Beyond all of this, there must be the realization that socialism, and its twin liberalism, by granting more and more power to the state, by looking to the state to solve all of our social, economic, and even personal problems, in effect makes the state the “God” whom all should worship. By elevating the state to this supreme position, socialism or liberalism by definition does thereby demote the eternal and One God to an inferior position. In so doing, these philosophies defy the Second Commandment, when God thundered to Moses and the Israelites on Mt. Sinai,

‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me.'”

So, it seems that the first point here is the danger in latching onto a particular movement without fully understanding the doctrines/ideology behind it. The Jews have certainly paid the price, as they may again, but the lesson serves for all of us who value our freedom. I think the American “Progressives” and their agenda — particularly the secularist flavor — serve as the current example to beware of.

[On a lighter note, I keep thinking of the immortal words of Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, who said to his companion, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”]

The second point is a warning against the subtle replacement of God with the State in people’s minds. Not that it is worshiped in quite the same way, of course. But, not all idolatry is directed at a divine being or a statue or icon of one.

<em><a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1589803833?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=sirrahc-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=1589803833″>Why Jews Should NOT Be Liberals</a></em><img style=”border: none!important; margin: 0!important;” src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=sirrahc-20&amp;l=as2&amp;o=1&amp;a=1589803833&#8243; border=”0″ alt=”” width=”1″ height=”1″ /> (2001, rev. 2006)

Here is another excerpt from the terrific book Why Jews Should NOT Be Liberals (2001, rev. 2006) by Larry F. Sternberg. Specifically, we continue from the last post, in which Sternberg (with insights from Thomas Sowell and Judge Robert Bork) looked at the tendency of liberals to not only group people into classes but to set those classes in opposition against one another. Here, he/we examine this more particularly from the standpoint of Jewish tradition & values.

 The Ten Commandments on rounded stone tabletsAlthough Judaism is described frequently as a “community” religion — that is, we are each of us responsible for our brother — there exists a plethora of laws that command treatment be administered to Jews as individuals. “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers; every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” (Deuteronomy 24:16) The Ten Commandments are directed to us as individuals, not as classes or groups. Class envy can grow into coveting your neighbor’s possessions, which is expressly forbidden by the Tenth Commandment. We are to adhere to these Commandments on our own, regardless of what others may do.”

I had never connected the commandment against coveting with class envy/warfare, somehow, but it makes perfect sense.

To pit one class or group against another is contrary to Jewish law and should be strongly condemned by our Jewish leaders. When Hitler selected Jews as the supreme evil that must be destroyed, he did not evaluate each Jew as an individual, but instead, he took anyone who had the least amount of Jewish blood to be his victim. Jews as a group had to be extinguished. He succeeded with terminating the lives of two-thirds of European Jews, and if he had won the war, would probably have reached his goal. Of all people, Jews should reject any hint of judging individuals according to their class, whether it is economic, racial, religious, color, or any other type of grouping. At the same time, trying to pit one class against another is to violate the concept of loving one’s neighbor as thyself that is stressed throughout Judaism.”

The “Great Commandment” in Judaism is most clearly stated as “…you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18 (NASB)). Jesus referenced it in the New Testament, but He usually put it second in importance after loving God with all one’s being (e.g., Mark 12:28-34 and Luke 10:25-28). The Apostle Paul also referred to this principle in Romans 13:9 and Galatians 5:14.

The complaint by the liberals that the “rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer” should be answered by Jews, not with a nodding head, but with some affirmative statements. We should be replying that to solve this problem, if indeed it is a problem, we need to improve our educational system by giving parents choice of schools; expand our system of trade schools; improve our family structure; improve the ease of starting a business of your own; and remove those governmental restrictions that inhibit the formation and expansion of new businesses. These are the types of positive changes that are needed to solve the income disparity issues. In the end, each of us must fight his own battles. It would be hoped that those who are burdened from birth with handicaps would receive help from charitable institutions and from individuals, with very limited support from governmental agencies. Such help must always be granted on an individual basis and not by any group or class status.

The very call to action by class, as used by liberals, should be an affront to Jews. As a group that has been so abused throughout history because we were classified as members of an undesirable group, our hair should stand on end and our skin should tingle when such actions are advocated. Judaism preaches unity, brotherhood of all men, and waits for the day when all peoples will accept and worship the one God…. To divide people on the basis of their individual differences for political gain to achieve political power is simply not in keeping with our Jewish traditions and should be soundly rejected by American Jews.”

Sternberg proceeds to give the “latest” (as of 2000) example of using class warfare for attempted political gain. Namely, presidential candidate Al Gore “openly appealed to the voters’ class envy instincts by proclaiming himself as the champion of ‘working families’ against the ‘powerful.'” The latter were, of course, Big Oil, Big Drug Companies, Wall Street, etc. Sound familiar? It’s a recurring theme in national elections, as exemplified more recently by the Obama campaign and the ongoing rhetoric of the Obama administration and its comrades in Congress. I think it’s safe to say that Class Warfare has become a cornerstone of modern liberal/progressive political philosophy.

Yes, I used the word “comrades” precisely because of its association with communism and because the whole Class Envy tactic and the use of Class Warfare as a socio-political strategy so closely mirrors the Marxist/Leninist teachings that lead to authoritarian, communist states in Russia, China, and elsewhere. This is what America has historically fought AGAINST, because it is antithetical to what America stands for and what the majority of the people believe in. As Sternberg has pointed out, it is contrary to the Judeo-Christian values & principles that the United States was founded upon. And it sickens & angers me to see powerbrokers, legislators, activist judges, and our President take away our freedoms and independence, as they push us evermore Leftward.

“[E]ven more disturbing than the threats from foreign terrorists is a second threat that is right here at home. It is an ideology so fundamentally at odds with historic American values that it threatens to undo the cultural ethics that have made our country great. I call it ‘secular-socialism.'”
— Newt Gingrich
New Gingrich speaking and pointing

Newt making a point (Photo by Rick Diamond/WireImage)

A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with a family member who is politically conservative and religiously agnostic. He was complaining about a video clip he had recently watched (from the Southern Republican Leadership Conference (SRLC) in New Orleans) of Newt Gingrich discussing the need for Republicans & conservatives to unite against what he has dubbed the “secular socialist machine”. My relative was annoyed & offended, because he felt that Newt was demonizing secularists, as if they couldn’t be anything but socialists. “Does he really think that only Christians (or religious people or non-secularists) are true Americans? Or that those who don’t believe in a Higher Power can’t be legitimate conservatives? I usually like and respect what Newt has to say, but he’s disappointed me, and I’ll think twice about trusting him now.”

Not having seen the clip, I wasn’t sure what to say. I know Newt is a professed Christian, and as one myself, I understand his concerns about secularist influences. So, I decided to watch the video clip myself and try to understand what Newt was getting at. If you’re interested, here it is:

Newt does mention “secularism” a couple times in the beginning, but doesn’t mention it again until near the end. For the bulk of the spliced-together clip, he defines and elaborates on the corruption, incompetence, and arrogance of Obama’s radical-Left administration and their comrades in Congress. He emphasizes their determination to ram through transformational legislation, often without even reading (let alone fully understanding) what they are voting for, and against the desires of the majority of the American people. By the way, the “machine” consists not just of those in the Executive and Legislative Branches, but also certain Federal judges, many labor union leaders, tenured faculty and news media on the hard left, and other groups who put Obama in office.

The clip ends with Newt saying:

This is a fundamental fight over the core definition of America, and it is going to require us to talk, I think, in a very different language than normal politics. I think it requires us to talk about the American culture, not American politics. Does work ethic matter, or is redistribution the alternative? It’s very central. Are we endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness? Or, does Government define who we are?… And I believe the radicalism of this administration and the incompetence of this administration make it possible to have a decisive choice for every American. And we need to make sure it’s a choice of two positive versions, not Obama versus anti-Obama, but America versus a secular socialist machine.”

I really don’t think Gingrich was implying that only Christians (or non-secularists) are true Americans. Nor do I think he was implying that secularists in general are bad people or… whatever. Even if he believed it, he’s savvy enough not to say it in public… repeatedly.

Perhaps I’m being charitable, but if I were to guess, I’d say Gingrich’s purpose for specifying the secular aspect of “the machine” is twofold. First, it distinguishes a certain brand or branch of socialism from another (i.e., “religious socialism”, as with those that hold to a “liberation theology”). If this is accurate, then I see no problem with calling it as it is. It isn’t meant to unfairly label all secularists as socialists any more than referring to “Islamist” (or “Islamic”) terrorists is meant to unfairly label all Muslims as terrorists. (Of course, that’s what the PC crowd tries to tell us it does.) Or, all terrorists as Muslims, for that matter.

Secondly, I think the “secular” term is a reminder that the “progressives” that are pushing our nation Leftward are the same ones that most often try to remove all religious symbols and expressions from the public arena or to silence “religious” people, while brandishing their “separation of church and state” slogan. Not only is it a gross misrepresentation of what Thomas Jefferson was promoting in his letter to the Danbury Baptists, but it is a slap in the face to — and, in some cases, a denial of — the Judeo-Christian principles upon which this nation was founded, as evident in the writings of our Founders and Framers. (I’m not denying some Enlightenment ideas were involved, but that’s a different discussion.)

[Aside: Of course, there are also “secularists” (i.e., atheists & agnostics) on the political Right who would like to eliminate all religion and symbols thereof from the public square (even from society at large) — e.g., Christopher Hitchens. But, I think more of them are like my relative, who recognize the good that religion can & does have in society — some, at least — and who personally have a more “live and let live” attitude, as long as no one tries to “force” religion on them or punish them for not believing as they do.]

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution (painting by Howard Chandler Christy)

It is precisely those principles that inspired the (Protestant) “work ethic” that Gingrich mentions. It was the understanding that basic, human rights can ultimately only be granted by a Higher Power and not by some government that can take them away at the whim of whomever happens to be in power. I would also add that America is much more accepting and tolerant of various religions, worldviews, & ethnicities than any other nation, whether secularist (e.g, N. Korea or Soviet Russia), theocratic (e.g., Iran), or whatever. The ideology that recognizes these things is what America was founded on, it is what makes it unique, and THAT is the America that Gingrich says is at war with the “secular socialist machine”.

I’ll finish up here with an illustrative excerpt from the transcript of the full SRLC speech that did not make it into the above video:

Let me give you an example that I find absolutely amazing, and it explains part of why I have ‘secular’ in the term ‘secular socialist machine.’ Rick Tyler, who runs Renewing American Leadership, at my request left Los Angeles and drove three and a half hours out U.S. 15 and turned south and drove eight and a half miles on a two lane road in the middle of the Mojave Desert. He came across a cross which had been erected in the desert in 1934 by the Veterans of Foreign Wars on behalf of the American dead in World War I. That cross today is surrounded by a plywood box because a government employee decided they were offended that this cross was on Federal land, and the ACLU has filed a lawsuit.

Now, from my personal perspective, a secularist who is terrified of a cross in the middle of the Mojave Desert is a totalitarian. They are so frightened of any choice, of any freedom, of any option that I think they verge on being deranged. [Applause.] And I think a country which was founded on the premise that our rights come from our Creator has some right to decide that our Creator can appear in public life.”

It’s not just any secularism, and not just socialism, per se. The big threat is the combination of the two, which is taking over our nation. “The Left has thoroughly infiltrated nearly every cultural commanding height of our civilization,” he says. “That is, they hold power, influence and control of academia, the elite news media, Hollywood, union leaders, trial lawyers, the courts, the Congress, and the bureaucracy at all levels of government.”

Now, of course, Newt has just released a new book titled To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine.  So, I guess we can all read it to find out what exactly he does mean.

Any Right-leaning secularists want to weigh in with their thoughts on Newt’s term-of-choice?

I was reading the other day in Dinesh D’Souza’s book What’s So Great about America?. There is a chapter in which D’Souza discusses how the West became the dominant civilization in the modern era owing to its “invention” of science, democracy, & capitalism. A concept central to the flourishing of these enterprises is “the idea of development itself — the idea of progress.” The notion is understood in everything from the exasperated “How can you still believe that? Join the 21st century, already!” to the general expectation that, despite current downturns & problems, our economy and knowledge will continue to grow and our children will live in a better (safer? more affluent?) world.

Here is what D’Souza has to say about this very interesting and important notion:

The idea of progress, like the idea of reason, is a doctrine that cannot be proved but must be taken on faith. The Greeks didn’t have this faith: they believed that history moves in cycles. One may say that the Greeks believed in change, but not in progress. To the degree that the Greeks found a pattern in this change, it was largely one of degeneration. For many Greek thinkers, the golden age was in the past and things had been going steadily downhill since then. Of course the Greeks admitted that things could get better, but they believed that they could just as easily get worse. What governed human destiny was chance or fate. These notions of cyclical change and degeneration and fate were not unique to the Greeks. They were shared by the Hindus, the Muslims, the Buddhists, the Confucian Chinese, and by virtually everyone else in the world.

Painting of Plato

Painting of Plato

The modern West is the only civilization to entertain the idea that there is a meaningful pattern in history, that this pattern is onward and upward, that knowledge is cumulative and that its applications to human betterment are continuous and never-ending, that the future is certain to be better than the past. “Utopia” is in this sense a Western concept, because it locates perfection in the future. For most people in the world these notions — that history is somehow encoded with meaning, that we know in advance that things will improve instead of degenerate — are even today considered nothing short of ridiculous. In the West, too, the idea of progress continues to be debated. For instance, there is ongoing argument about whether progress is comprehensive, i.e., whether progress involves only material gains or also moral gains. But in some form the faith in progress is very widespread in the West, and the belief in it holds because it is supported by the contemporary experience of the people of the West.

Where, then, did the Western belief in progress come from? From Christianity. It is Christianity that introduced the idea of a divine plan for man and the world. In this view, history was not one meaningless event after another: it represented the fulfillment of a story line — a story line that began with the Fall but would end in triumph with the Second Coming of Christ. The Christian narrative is one of Creation, [Fall, ]Incarnation, and Last Judgment. As J.B. Bury points out in The Idea of Progress, the Christian doctrine by itself does not generate the notion of progress; for this to happen it must be secularized. This is done by keeping the concept of development but introducing man as its author and instrument. Human beings, building upon the discoveries of the past and of each other, will assure the continual advance of knowledge and its application to the betterment of the human condition. This is the idea that we recognize as ‘progress.’ The idea of progress is a secular expression of the idea of providence.”

Now, that in itself is interesting. But, then I got to thinking about how a certain contingent within American politics — not just the politicians, mind you, but like-minded individuals in academia, media, etc. — likes to describe themselves as “progressive”. “Progress” by what means? Towards what?

Since the “progressive” label is predominantly associated with the political Left, it is often used interchangeably with “liberal” or “Democrat”. (I know I’m guilty of this.) But, of course, these words are distinctively different. For awhile there, this group was content to call themselves “liberal”. But, recently, the “progressive” label has come back in vogue, particularly as a means of distinguishing social liberals from those of a more “classic liberal” bent (i.e., natural rights, civil liberties, free markets, limited government). Indeed, within today’s Democratic Party, the more conservative liberals (e.g., “Blue Dogs”) are often at odds with the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) over “social issues” and the proper reach of government. The CPC includes people like Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Barney Frank (D-MA), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Charlie Rangel (D-NY), John Conyers (D-MI), and Henry Waxman (D-CA). Former members include Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sec. of Labor Hilda Solis (D-CA). Not surprisingly, the CPC’s far-Left agenda enjoys the support of the ACLU, The Nation magazine, La Raza, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, MoveOn.org, NAACP, etc.

So, what exactly is the “progressive” agenda? Modern progressivism in general holds to a broad, “non-ideological” ideology of reform. Its supposed freedom from ideological ties makes it more flexible & pragmatic than the usual political ideology, they say. This from Wikipedia:

According to John Halpin, senior advisor on the staff of the Center for American Progress, ‘Progressivism is an orientation towards politics. It’s not a long-standing ideology like liberalism, but an historically-grounded concept… that accepts the world as dynamic.’ Progressives see progressivism as an attitude towards the world of politics that is broader than conservatism vs. liberalism, and as an attempt to break free from what they consider to be a false and divisive dichotomy.”

Um, yeah, okay. But, what do they want? What are they trying to do? How about…

The CPC’s founding statement of purpose states that it was ‘organized around the principles of social and economic justice, a non-discriminatory society, and national priorities which represent the interests of all people, not just the wealthy and powerful’.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. It’s value-driven, with an emphasis on justice & equality. Sounds good, but…. Here are just a few ways in which this modern “progressive” idea plays out in the real world:

  • progressive taxation (i.e., the more you earn, the larger percentage the government takes); this means tax cuts for the poor and tax increases for the “wealthy” and businesses
  • wealth redistribution (i.e., taxing the rich & corporations to substantially increase federal funding for welfare and other “social programs”)
  • recklessly racking up humongous debts with deficit spending, bailouts, and creation of more government bureaucracies and huge entitlement programs
  • unflagging support for organized labor and trade unions, no matter how unneeded they may be, how unfair or financially draining their pensions & other special contracts are, or how much bullying & corruption they are guilty of
  • general distrust of corporations, banks, and anyone that makes a profit (i.e., they don’t like capitalism)
  • promotion of Affirmative Action and other legislation in the name of “equality of opportunity” for minorities and ending racism, when they are no longer needed and/or actually do a disservice to the ones they are supposed to help, not to mention resulting in reverse-discrimination of qualified non-minorities; also, accusing anyone who disagrees with them on this of being racist
  • a universal health care system that would ultimately increase costs (and tax burden), decrease quality of care (w/ longer waits and govt-rationing), dis-incentivise people from getting into or staying in medicine (especially general practice) because of lower pay, relinquish more control over personal decisions to the government, etc.
  • often extremist views on environmentalism (i.e., more so than mainstream liberals), resulting in legislation that prevents access to accessible energy and increases taxes and costs of energy usage; often gives preference to plants & animals over humans
  • government regulation of increasingly more areas of our personal lives and businesses (e.g., “Cap-n-Trade”, “Fairness Doctrine”, and “hate crimes” legislation)
  • advocacy of “gay rights” agenda and legalization of same-sex marriage
  • championing of even the most barbaric “abortion rights” (e.g., partial-birth abortion)
  • cutting of military spending, turning our backs on international allies, and trying to “make nice” with dictators & terrorists (who laugh at our weak threats and calls for sanctions)
  • paying mere lip-service, if that, to the problems of illegal immigration, while promoting amnesty
  • doing whatever they can get away with to deny the religious heritage of our nation and the Judeo-Christian principles upon which it was built, using an inaccurate concept of “separation of church and state” as a legal contrivance, and to undermine age-old, traditional values & moral standards
Obaman on phone with Netanyahu

The Progressive-in-Chief

It is this interpretation of “progressivism” that drives the radical Left, who are most actively moving our government and our nation away from the founding principles of our Constitution and towards being a largely secular, socialist state. That’s a system that erodes people’s freedoms, replaces traditional values & moral standards with “tolerance” and relativism, encourages dependency on the state, compromises national safety & security, and eventually leads to national bankruptcy. How exactly does this lead to the betterment of mankind? How is this “progress”?

What about those who don’t hold to the progressivist agenda? Can they be progressive? Of course. In fact, for several decades the largest conservative party in Canada was the Progressive Conservative Party. There are groups in Europe that use the term “progressive” and run from centrist (or “classic liberal”) to quite diverse in membership. And, as a political conservative myself, I can say without hesitation that I and my fellow-conservatives are fully in favor of true progress in many areas of life — from advances in science & technology to improving international relations to increasing people’s standard of living across the board. In some cases, we may even share some basic goals with “progressives” — e.g., eliminating war, poverty, disease, racism; better stewardship of the planet; recognition of human rights for all. The main differences are how we view & approach the issues. For example, who or what is responsible and to what degree? What and how much can or should be done, and by whom? What should be our priorities? How we answer these questions is based not only on facts — else, we would all agree — but on our understanding of the world and the values and principles directing us. It comes down to one’s worldview.

The first group to be identified with a term or idea in the minds of their countrymen usually gets to reap the benefits. It’s as true in politics as it is in advertising. “Progressive” is one of those words that sounds superior and can be used in an exclusivist way: “We’re progressive, so we are the ones pushing for progress and the betterment of mankind. The other guys, therefore,… aren’t.” In fact, in this case, the “other guys” (usually conservatives) are sometimes called “regressive”, as if they are advocating things that would cause civilization to move backwards. This is ridiculous. But, that’s OK. I don’t really think the American “progressives” are convincing anyone but themselves (and their European counterparts) of their own superiority or that they are the only ones working to improve our world.

What do you think?

Stupak and the Blue Dogs caved / drank the Kool-Aid / got bought off — don’t hold your breath for that executive order, Bart — and the Senate’s bill passed the House. Now what?

Painting of the Battle of Waterloo

Famous painting of the Battle of Waterloo, by Robinson (c. 1820)

Some on the Left (and part-time Republicans like David Frum) are saying that the passing of Obamacare signifies a “Waterloo” moment for the Republicans & conservatives. Now, I don’t know much about the Waterloo Campaign, but I understand that Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo marked the end of the war and the end of Napoleon’s rule. So, I guess this is supposed to be it for the Republican Party as we know it — the end of any meaningful resistance to Obamacare and the end of the days of influence/relevance for the GOP and its supposedly heartless, hatemongering, “Right Wing Conspiracy” cheerleaders.

Naturally, I disagree with the sentiment. For one thing, the poll numbers for Obamacare were clearly in our favor — somewhere between 60% & 70% were/are against it. Other surveys indicate that America still leans conservative. We may be down, but we’re not out. If I was a better student of military history, I might be able to come up with a better metaphor. I’m thinking maybe something to do with George Washington and his battered & beleaguered troops in the American Revolution. There were many battles, and they suffered many defeats. Yet, through a combination of “luck”, Providence, perseverance, bravery & skill, and the overconfidence & arrogance of their enemy, the American colonies won their independence against the superior numbers of their elitist, tax-obsessed oppressors. See the parallels?

Of course, this wasn’t just any fight, this “battle for healthcare reform”. It was one where the larger opponent tied the smaller opponent’s hand behind his back, took his gun and left him with a knife. And, as the fight progressed, the larger opponent kept changing the rules. (OK, I could try to carry this analogy out further, but it’s late, so I’ll stop.)

The Obama-Pelosi-Reid machine combined the radicalism of Alinsky, the corruption of Springfield and the machine power politics of Chicago. Sunday was a pressured, bought, intimidated vote worthy of Hugo Chavez but unworthy of the United States of America.

[But,…] This is not the end of the fight; it is the beginning of the fight…. The American people will not allow a corrupt machine to dictate their future. Together we will pledge to repeal this bill and start over. Together we will prove that this will not stand.”

Newt Gingrich

General Washington pulled victory from the jaws of defeat. So, what can we do? A number of things are already underway or in the works:

1) Republican Senators are doing all they can (within the rules) to fight the “reconciliation” maneuver being used to pass the House-required “fixes” to the bill. (For example, there is still the issue of whether “reconciliation” rules can be bent far enough to pass non-budgetary proposals.) From what I can tell, the “fixes” have to be passed as is, as a package. So, if any changes are made to the “fixes”, it will have to go back to the House for a vote. (Or, whatever Pelosi & Co. can cook up to get around a vote, if they don’t think it will go their way.)

2) Republicans in both houses are releasing “repeal” bills. It’s a longshot, and it won’t happen anytime soon — not with our current, Democrat-dominated legislature, of course. And it probably won’t have a chance until at least 2012. But, the reasoning is that a) talk in Congress, the media, & the public will keep the idea alive and “get lawmakers on the record” before upcoming elections; and, b) the bills will be in place for if/when Republicans regain the majority (see below). Some Republicans in Congress see such efforts as a distraction and an unrealistic goal. But, as Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said, “Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go after it.”

3) Over 3 dozen state governors and their attorneys general are suing Congress — 14 have already filed — for passing an unconstitutional law. Of the two main issues that come up, the first is the mandated health insurance. The argument (with which I agree) is that the Constitution gives no authority to the federal government to force any citizen to purchase any good or service, let alone from any particular merchant/source(s). The other concern is the unsubsidized billions of $ the states will have to come up with to support the millions of additional people being put into the Medicaid program. Most states are already casting about for ways to meet their budget; they can’t afford to have this thrown on top, too.

Gov. Butch Otter of Idaho

Gov. "Butch" Otter of Idaho (AP)

4) Meanwhile, a few states (beginning with Idaho and Virginia) are passing legislation to exempt their citizens from parts of Obamacare like “being forced to purchase government-approved health insurance.” As with the above lawsuits, the matter of federalism is also at issue. By instituting these federal laws, is the federal government infringing on the states’ sovereign rights?

5) It doesn’t really matter now, but had the “deem and pass” strategy been utilized by Speaker Pelosi to force Obamacare through without a House vote, Mark Levin — popular conservative talk-show host and constitutional law scholar — had already drafted a lawsuit to be immediately filed against President Obama, Att. Gen. Eric Holder, Sec. of Treas. Timothy Geithner, & Sec. of HHS Karen Sebelius for allowing such an “unconstitutional contrivance” to be used. (Not sure why Pelosi and Reid weren’t included.) Sort of a moot point now, but I am glad someone was prepared to challenge that ridiculous maneuver in court. There may still be opportunity for a similar challenge….

6) Stay Active! We need to continue to write; call; sign petitions; attend rallies; volunteer & donate to conservative candidates, PACs, Tea Parties, and other groups; etc. Let the current administration and its cohorts know that we will not stand idly by as they transform us into the European Union West. The rhetoric from the Right must be challenging and forceful, yet respectful (of persons & offices, not ideas). Marxist thought may be tolerated in America — people are free to read, say, and believe what they want — but it is, arguably by definition, NOT American and should have no part in our government.

7) Take back Congress and Take back America! In November 2010, we can begin voting out/against any candidates who aren’t & weren’t fully against Obamacare. We cannot let a few months’ time wash from our memories the stain that they left on the Constitution and our freedoms. We must vote solidly conservative leaders into office, so that they can begin repealing Obamacare, either in pieces or as a whole, if possible. We must replace it with REAL healthcare reform — common-sense, patient-centered, market-driven, and not under Big Brother’s control.

Let’s make Washington proud. George Washington, that is — as well as the rest of America’s Founding Fathers and the Framers of the U.S. Constitution. Let’s get America back on track! Can we do this? With the right people, the right strategy & tactics, with focus and perseverance, and with blessings & guidance from God above… “Yes, We Can!”

As the late Adrian Rogers said, “You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”

Some of you may have seen this, already. It was emailed to me a couple weeks ago, and I finally decided to include it here. Honestly, I don’t know if it’s a true story, but it illustrates the point beautifully:

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had once failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan”. All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade, so no one would fail and no one would receive an ‘A’….

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a ‘B’. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride, too, so they studied little. The second test average was a ‘D’! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an ‘F’.

The scores never increased, as bickering, blame, and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.