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. Continue reading

Helen Thomas is Helen Thomas. Film at Eleven.

Yep, Helen Thomas has been saying ugly things about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  I’m with Johan Goldberg:

But beyond that, can we do away with all of the shock and dismay at Thomas’ statement? Spare me Lanny Davis’s wounded outrage. Everyone knows she is a nasty piece of work and has been a nasty piece of work for decades.

And when I say a nasty piece of work, I don’t simply mean her opinions on Israel. She’s been full-spectrum awful. I’ve known a few people who knew her 40 years ago, and she was slimy then too. One small example can be found in James Rosen’s excellent book on John Mitchell, The Strong Man. Mitchell’s wife Martha was a mentally unstable alcoholic who would call reporters to vent sad, paranoid, fact-free theories and diatribes. At first, many reporters were eager to hear her out, but over time it became obvious that Martha Mitchell was not well and it was cruel to exploit her. Obvious, that is, to nearly everyone butHelen Thomas who continued to milk Martha Mitchell for damning quotes and nonsense

[…]

All of these condemnations, equivocations, repudiations, and protestations are all fundamentally silly because they are part of a D.C. Kabuki that treats the last straw as if it was wholly different than the million other straws everyone was happy to carry.

Yawn.

Shame of the Vatican

Sadly, organized religion is more supportive of the Left than many conservatives are willing to admit.  Now, perhaps the most disgraceful example:

The Pope on Wednesday said attacks such as one on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which killed at least 20 international activists and injured hundreds others, would not resolve disputes.

Excuse me?  So Israel doesn’t have a right to keep deadly weapons out of its enemies’ hands?  Last time I checked, the Catholic Church did recognize the concept of just war, and the Gaza blockade isn’t even a full-blown war, but a security measure.  Would the Holy Father lecture police officers for “failing to resolve disputes peacefully” every time a suspect is injured or killed while evading arrest, or is killed by a cop in self-defense?

“Once again I repeat with heartfelt spirit that violence does not resolve disputes, but generates more violence,” the pontiff said, according to DPA. “I invite you all to join me in prayer for the victims and their families and for all those who suffer.”

Actually, sometimes violence does resolve disputes.  Sometimes it’s blind devotion to negotiation or dialogue without regard for reality that gets people killed.

The coastal sliver has been under a tight Israeli blockade since 2007. The deteriorating life conditions in Gaza took a new level after Israel’s 22-day long military offensive against the strip in 2008, which left at least 1,400 Palestinians dead.

Benedict, meanwhile, urged those “with political responsibility,” to find “just solutions through dialogue,” and to guarantee the people of the Gaza Strip better life conditions.

Last time I checked, the Pope was supposed to be a source of truth and moral guidance, not lazy platitudes that fail to make distinctions between good & evil or aggressor & defender, and that indicates little to no understanding of what’s actually going on in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.  Simply disgraceful.

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.

Strauss Derangement Syndrome?

There’s a discussion thread on Free Republic about one of my recent Paul-centric NewsReal posts, in which commenter Conimbricenses notes my background as a Hillsdale College student and concludes: “I bet he’s also one of Tom Krannawitter’s lapdogs…er…lapcats?”

First, some background: Thomas Krannawitter is a former Hillsdale political science professor, Claremont Institute fellow, and author of several books, most recently Vindicating Lincoln.  I have never taken one of his classes; hearing him speak briefly twice (once commemorating 9/11, another discussing the school’s DC internship program) and reading his latest book (which I thought was very good, though I would have liked more time spent on Lincoln’s exercise of executive power) are the full extent of my familiarity with him and his ideas.

Conimbricenses’s complaint sparks the following exchange:

EternalVigilance: And I’m sure you think it’s terrible that these kids would be influenced by someone who teaches respect for the Natural Law and adherence to the Constitution, right?

Conimbricenses: No. I think it’s terrible that kids are being misled about Natural Law and the Constitution by a pseudo-historian who has an amateur’s grasp of the subjects he purports to be teaching coupled with a near-religious affection for Straussian occultism.

Springfield Reformer: conimbricenses, would you kindly share with the rest of the class exactly what you think is wrong with the “Hillsdale” conception of natural law. That would, of course, require you to explain both their position and yours, and to render an academically sound proof that yours is the correct, “non-amateur,” version. And as the self-professed “professional” among us with respect to natural law theory, I fully expect your explanation to be completely free of ad hominem content. I wait with bated breath.

Conimbricenses: The “problem” with Hillsdale comes from the rapid growth of Straussian occultists there in recent decades. The current president, Larry Arnn, is a follower of this branch of thought and has regrettably populated the political science and philosophy faculties with many of his fellow travelers.

I call the Straussian variety they practice there “amateur” because it simply does not have what it takes to compete on a scholarly level at any place beyond the echo chamber of its own adherents. The stuff they peddle does poorly in the academic peer review process. It is justifiably shredded to pieces by scholars outside of the narrow Straussian occult whenever it pops its head over into the mainstream (witness this recent example, involving a very well known Straussian Hillsdale prof: http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/jala/31.1/winger.html ) It doesn’t perform well in other universities – even sympathetic conservative ones – outside of an exceedingly small list of completely Straussian departments that are known for promoting their own from inside (Hillsdale and Claremont being the two prime examples). And in the practical sense, it tends to breed the very worst types of “conservative” government – the George W. Bush-style big spending neoconservative naively idealist “democracy building” variety that ruined the conservative brand name in the 2000’s and gave us our present state of affairs with Obama.

This isn’t the first time Claremont/Krannawitter/Strauss-phobia has arisen in response to my criticism of the Pauls; legend in his own mind “Marcus Brutus’s” complaints touched similar lines—though he couldn’t be bothered to explain how, I was supposedly a “golden-souled Straussian,” concerned “not for the good and preservation of our free society domestically, but instead, the Straussian’s ‘national greatness.’”

Of all the Paulites’ arguments, this one is among the strangest.  First, if sympathy for “George W. Bush-style big spending” exists among the Hillsdale faculty, I’ve yet to encounter it in my three years here.  Second, I have been exposed to the work of Leo Strauss (in particular, On Tyranny) in exactly one class (Classical Political Philosophy); if Straussian ideas—especially “national greatness”—are somehow coloring the school’s broader political science education, neither “Marcus” nor Conimbricenses has done anything to explain how (and the link Conimbricenses provides doesn’t seem to workUPDATE: link works now; hopefully I’ll get a chance to look over the essay over the next couple days). Third, in what I have read of Strauss (though I’m admittedly no expert), I have not encountered any sort of “national greatness” doctrine.

Thomas G. West (I know, another eeevil Claremont-ite) has an interesting look at Strauss’s foreign policy views, and the extent to which they impact “neoconservative” thought, here, in which West argues that “although there is some common ground, Strauss’s overall approach is quite different from that of Kristol, Kagan, and other prominent neoconservatives in and out of the administration.”  Whatever the truth about Strauss may be, this particular line of attack seems to reveal more about Paulite mindset than it does the rest of us.

Rand Wins, America Loses

I’ve put a lot of effort here and on NewsReal into defending Sarah Palin from various attacks.

Tonight, I regret every word of it.

Thanks in no small part to her endorsement (as well as that of James Dobson, Jim DeMint, & Erick Erickson), the deranged Rand Paul won the Kentucky GOP’s Senate nomination (more on Paul’s hideous record here and here).

Palin’s celebration of Paul’s victory on tonight’s “Hannity” consisted entirely of empty blather straight out of the Paul camp’s press releases: the grassroots are rising up, the establishment better take notice, blah blah blah.  Does she know anything about Paul’s record?  About how he’s diametrically opposed to her own views on national security?

Some of you who don’t share Paul’s affinity for appeasement or his tolerance of bigotry might nevertheless think Paul’s win is no big deal, because he only has one vote and most foreign policy will be set by the executive branch.  But first, consider that Democrats campaign for keeps – we all know the lengths to which Democrats will go to falsely smear conservatives as extremists; just imagine the field day they’ll have with all of the real dirt in Rand’s closet.  I predict a Democrat victory in the general election.

Second, odds are that more than a few mushy Republican pols and would-be candidates will interpret Paul’s win, and his legitimization by other mainstream “true” conservatives, as an indication that it’s okay and/or smart politics to tack left on defense issues.  Do we really want two pro-appeasement political parties?

I hope Jim DeMint is rewarded with the primary challenge of his life.  And Sarah Palin has proven that she does not deserve the presidency.

The Paul File Continued (Updated)

The following is an addendum to my recent NewsReal posts about Ron & Rand Paul’s disgusting relationship with radicalism and their dangerous misrepresentation of facts on all things national-security and foreign-policy related:

During the 2008 Republican National Convention, Ron Paul held a counter-event, & the campaign invited crackpot Jesse Ventura to speak there. Ventura’s tirade about what “really happened” on 9/11 was met with wild applause by Paul’s audience.

On 9/11 Truther Alex Jones’ show in 2007, Paul claimed, “if you have a 9/11 incident or something like that, they use that to do the things that they had planned all along.”

In January 2008, Paul’s Midland County, MI, campaign coordinator was one Randy Gray, who happened to moonlight as “a longstanding active and vocal organizer for the Knight’s Party faction of the Ku Klux Klan.”  The campaign did not comment on the controversy, but did scrub all traces of Gray from their websites. Continue reading