Is Ann Coulter Out of Her Mind?

I love Ann Coulter, but her latest column, in which she defends Michael Steele’s Afghanistan comments, bothers me. A lot.

Yes, she and Steele are right to call Obama and the Democrats out on their posturing about Afghanistan as the “good war” and Iraq as the bad one. Yes, the populations of the two countries are vastly different. No, I don’t know what the best strategy in Afghanistan is (check out David Forsmark and John Guardiano for two competing schools of thought).

Further, in our zeal to make these points, conservatives must be careful not to lose sight of what our ultimate goal should be in Afghanistan—and whatever we decide, we need to stick to it regardless of who’s in the White House. Ann punts on that question, and I don’t recall her voicing any of these concerns during the Bush years. But Afghanistan is “Obama’s war” might be true as far as it goes, but focusing on that aspect on it diminishes the significance of the war and obscures the core question of whether or not America should be there. And yes, in calling it a war “of Obama’s choosing,” Steele did suggest that it wasn’t worth fighting, and that Democrats held a monopoly on the blame for it.

Coulter suggests we’ve already won in Afghanistan, and that a minimal troop presence there to “prevent Osama bin Laden from regrouping, swat down al-Qaida fighters and gather intelligence” is sufficient (wait a minute—weren’t we trying to leave behind a government & military stable enough to do that on its own?).

What disturbs me most is, near the end, how easily—and suddenly—Ann lends credence to the old liberal trope about “neoconservatives” being for “permanent war.” One would think a pundit who’s repeatedly been on the receiving end of such smears would think twice before deploying it herself.

Come on, Ann.  For years, I’ve defended you as better than this.  Don’t prove me wrong now.

Conservatism Can’t Survive Without the Pro-Life Movement, Part II

In Part I, I argue that it would be politically foolish for the Right to further backpedal or abandon the pro-life cause. Here I want to make the case that the right to life truly is inseparable both from core conservatism and from any meaningful effort to advance conservative ideas—that, in fact, pro-abortion tendencies actually endanger the prospects of those who value limited government, the free market, and strong national defense.

As I explained on June 15, abortion is an affront to the Declaration of Independence. As the unjust taking of a human life, it is wrong for the same reason slavery, theft, assault, honor killings, rape, eminent domain abuse, and individual health insurance mandates are wrong: they are all violations of human liberty and natural rights.  Accordingly, society justly protects its citizens from them via law for the same reason.  As long as conservatism still “holds these truths to be self-evident” that all men have “certain unalienable rights” to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and as long as conservatism still accepts that “governments are instituted among men” for the purpose of “secur[ing] these rights,” then philosophically-consistent conservatives have no choice but to oppose legalized abortion. Nobody can support abortion in good conscience without either honestly confronting this conundrum head-on, or asking himself what definition of “conservatism” he’s been operating under all this time.

That pro-choice views are an egregious exception to conservatives’ and libertarians’ pro-liberty rhetoric should be obvious. What may be less obvious—but is no less true—is that such dubious thinking cannot help but undermine other core conservative principles and efforts. Read the rest of this entry »

Conservatism Can’t Survive Without the Pro-Life Movement, Part I (Updated)

The more I reflect on The Great NewsReal Abortion Debate, the more convinced I am that I made a critical error.

I want to revisit the issue of whether or not the pro-life cause is central or peripheral to the conservative movement.  I made clear where I stood on that question—as an egregious deprivation of human rights, abortion should be opposed by every lover of liberty with every fiber of his or her being—but I fear I didn’t go nearly far enough in explaining the implications of the answer.  This essay will explore the practical aspects of the matter; my next one will address the moral and philosophical.

I conceded that I could “basically support” the kind of ‘truce’ David Swindle was talking about, i.e. candidates centering their campaigns on the “two unifying issues” of the free market and defeating Islamofascism. That’s more or less how wartime Republican presidents since Ronald Reagan have run for office anyway (in Reagan’s case swapping out Islamofascism for the Soviet Union), and that’s okay.  I don’t have a problem with our candidates emphasizing some issues more than others to put voters’ most immediate concerns front and center, or to address crises that demand immediate resolution.

However, that doesn’t exempt a candidate from talking about the right to life at all, or from being pro-life.  I have already argued that pro-life principles are inseparable from core conservatism, and that abortion cannot be regarded as merely one issue among many, and I’ll elaborate more on those points in the next post.  But it’s also important because whether or not one is capable of recognizing abortion for the evil that it is, and is willing to do something about it, tells us something about what he or she is made of. I know there are exceptions (Ron Paul is pro-life but deranged, Joe Lieberman is radically pro-abortion, but firm on the war), but I truly believe that strongly pro-life candidates will tend to be of a higher caliber than pro-choice candidates in several qualities that will benefit public servants, and the American people, in all areas: Read the rest of this entry »

Is the Fourteenth Amendment Illegitimate?

One of NewsReal’s regular commenters, the Inquisitor, seems to think so:

…the 14th Amendment is not the law of the land as it “… was never constitutionally proposed to the states by Congress and never constitutionally ratified by the states.”

I must admit I’ve never heard this one before, but it smells like more of the same old neo-Confederate revisionism that libertarians and paleoconservatives just can’t get enough of.  And sure enough, Inquisitor cites Kevin Gutzman’s Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution as his source.  I haven’t read Gutzman, but PIG series is known for being pretty hit & miss when it comes to American history and constitutional theory.

Against my better judgment about how to productively use my time, I decided to see what I could find about this startling constitutional revelation.  I found an article by Gene Healy at the dubious LewRockwell.com, entitled “The Squalid Fourteenth Amendment.”  That should do it.

As the legally reconstituted Southern states were busy ratifying the anti-slavery Thirteenth Amendment, the Republican-dominated Congress refused to seat Southern representatives and Senators. This allowed the remaining, rump Congress to propose the Fourteenth Amendment, consistent with Article V’s requirement of a 2/3 majority for sending a proposed amendment to the states. Never mind that Congress also clearly violated that Article’s provision that “no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”

The Constitution also says that “No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation,” and that “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress…enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or engage in War, unless actually invaded.”  Oh, so now the rebels should get the protection of the Constitution they tried to withdraw from? You try to break apart the country in the name of “the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man,” and you have no right to expect to be welcomed back into the Union immediately.

Though the Northern states ratified the Fourteenth Amendment, it was decisively rejected by the Southern and border states, failing to secure the 3/4 of the states necessary for ratification under Article V. The Radical Republicans responded with the Reconstruction Act of 1867, which virtually expelled the Southern states from the Union and placed them under martial law. To end military rule, the Southern states were required to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment. As one Republican described the situation: “the people of the South have rejected the constitutional amendment and therefore we will march upon them and force them to adopt it at the point of the bayonet.”

President Andrew Johnson saw the Reconstruction Act as “absolute despotism,” a “bill of attainder against 9,000,000 people.” […] The rump Republican Congress overrode Johnson’s veto and enacted statutes that shrank both the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction and the Court itself – just in case the judicial branch got any funny ideas of its own about constitutionalism. Jackboot on its neck, the South ratified, but not before New Jersey and Ohio, aghast at Republican tyranny, rescinded their previous ratifications of the mendment. Even with the fictional consent of the Southern states, the republicans needed New Jersey and Ohio to put the amendment over the top. No matter; by joint resolution, Congress declared the amendment valid. Thus it – you’ll excuse the phrasing– “passed into law.”

The Constitution requires “three fourths of the several states” to ratify amendments.  In 1868, the Union had 37 states, requiring 28 states to ratify the 14th Amendment.  By 1868, it had thirty ratifications, meaning that New Jersey and Ohio’s withdrawals would bring the number down to…28.  (And for what it’s worth, since then, every state which originally rejected the 14th Amendment has reversed its decision.)

Once again, paleo-libertarians appear to fare little better with American history than the Left.

Now Is Not the Time for Truces

Possible GOP 2012 candidate Mitch Daniels thinks we need a “truce” on social issues:

“We’re going to just have to agree to get along for a little while,” by casting social issues like abortion aside so the next president can focus on fixing the beleaguered economy.

Expecting a backlash if the remarks weren’t explained further, Weekly Standard reporter John McCormack followed up with the governor. He asked Daniels if his remarks meant the next president shouldn’t try to stop the abortion funding in the Obama health care law or put the Mexico City Policy back in place to stop international abortion funding.

Daniels said the United States faces a “genuine national emergency” concerning the economy, budget and national debt and that “maybe these things could be set aside for a while.”

“But this doesn’t mean anybody abandons their position at all. Everybody just stands down for a little while, while we try to save the republic,” the governor added.

Daniels replied, “I don’t know,” when asked if he would issue the executive order every pro-life president has done by instituting the Mexico City Policy Obama revoked.

Given how little our national leaders actually do to end abortion or preserve marriage once they get into office, Daniels’s proposal sounds less like a game plan for “saving the republic” and more like a lazy excuse to not talk about issues he doesn’t feel like discussing.

Joseph Lawler rightly notes that Daniels’s cowardice on the Mexico City policy isn’t a truce, but unconditional surrender.  And so, the Republican march of mediocrity continues…

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A Word of Advice to the Non-Insane Paulites (if You Exist)

I’ve been in lots and lots of arguments about Ron Paul over the past several months, in which serious doubts as to the congressman’s credibility have been raised.  In response, I’ve been treated to all sorts of inane lectures of varying literacy on non-interventionism, blowback, history, progressivism, the Constitution, and, of course, those darn Jews.

What I’m almost never treated to are serious attempts to refute the facts backing up my claims (despite the fact that Paulites are pretty adamant that I’m “slandering” their prophet).  For instance, when I argue that Paul presents a biased, misleading view of the Founders’ foreign policy views, they don’t bother to explain why my read of the evidence is incorrect, or put forth new evidence that would change the picture.  When I reveal that Ron and Rand misrepresent the facts surrounding Iran (as well as other facts about the War on Terror), they’re similarly silent on the details.

Here’s a tip: If you guys wanna be taken seriously as anything other than blind cultists, evangelizing with pre-scripted talking points isn’t gonna cut it; you have to honestly consider and respond to what people actually say about your guy.  When you try to change the topic, you’re not making dents in anything but your own credibility.

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