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Jan
23

God’s Own Party?

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GOP_book_danielwilliamsReview of Daniel K. Williams, God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right (Oxford University Press, 2012), ix + 372 pgs.

According to the majority of conservative Christians, the GOP is God’s Own Party. Voting for Republicans on election day—any Republican no matter what he believes—is an article of faith in the creed of many Christians. Voting for Democrats is a great sin. Voting for a third party is wasting your vote. Voting for Libertarians is unthinkable. Voting for no one is un-American. “Vote Republican (even if you have to hold your nose to do it)” is the great conservative Christian refrain every election season.

“Republicans, in general,” says Texas governor and former GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry, “believe in low taxes, low regulation, less spending, free-market health care, constitutionalist judges, protecting innocent life, enforcing our laws and borders, peace through strength, empowering the states, and generally advocating principles closer to limited government than not.”

Just the opposite is true, of course. The Republican Party is the party of lies, hypocrisy, crony capitalism, regulation, the drug war, war, torture, empire, foreign aid, the welfare/warfare state, and police statism, as I have documented in many articles over the years. The GOP, as my friend Tom DiLorenzo describes it, is nothing but a Gang of Plunderers. Read More→

Categories : Book Reviews
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Aug
14

How Conservative is Your Senator?

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One of the main tenets of conservatism is supposed to be fidelity to the Constitution. Let’s see how Republicans in the U.S. Senate who tout their conservatism at every election measure up.

Democrats have controlled the U.S. Senate since the 110th Congress began in January of 2007. The Senate is currently composed of 52 Democrats, 46 Republicans, and 2 Independents (Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine) who both caucus with the Democrats. But even though Republicans in the Senate are the opposition party, they aren’t living up to the conservative principles they claim to adhere to.

So, my question for every Republican is simply this: How “conservative” is your senator?

Fortunately, this is an easy thing to determine. But since most Republicans don’t bother to check the conservative credentials of those whom they put in office, I will do it for them.

Every three months, the New American magazine publishes a congressional scorecard based on the Constitution called “The Freedom Index.” It rates congressmen “based on their adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements.” The first index for the 113th Congress has just been released.

Since Republicans are always talking about their fiscal conservatism and fidelity to the Constitution, “The Freedom Index” seems like a good way to put them to the test.

A senator’s score is determined by dividing his good; that is, constitutional, votes on ten representative bills by the total number of good and bad votes he cast, and then multiplying the answer by 100 to turn it into a percent. The closer a senator’s score is to 100, the more “conservative” he is.

The votes tracked this time were concerning Hurricane Sandy disaster relief, increasing the debt limit, the Keystone XL Pipeline, a balanced-budget resolution, the UN Arms Trade Treaty, an “assault weapons” ban, a high-capacity clip ban, Internet sales tax, product labeling for genetically modified food, and farm programs (including funding for food stamps).

The average Senate score is 41 percent. Only two Democrats (Begich of Alaska and Manchin of West Virginia) received a passing score of 60 or above. A few Democrats scored a big fat zero—as we might expect.

But what we don’t expect is for the average score of Republicans to be a dismal 70.64 percent. Eight Republicans have a failing score; that is, below 60. Eleven of them have a 60—just barely above failing. This means that 19 Republicans scored lower than the 2 Democrats who received a passing score. Only 1 Republican senator, Jeff Flake of Arizona, scored a 100. The darling of conservatives, Marco Rubio, only scored an 80—that is a B-. Even Utah’s Orin Hatch scored an 80. Poor John McCain—he scored a 56. I wonder how many conservatives voted for him for president in 2008? Would McCain have been any better than Obama? I argue no here.

Senate Republicans would have scored even worse had “The Freedom Index” tracked any votes this time that related to foreign affairs. Just look at the recent 86-13 vote in the Senate against Rand Paul’s proposal to cut off foreign aid to Egypt. The Republican vote was 33-13.

It is a myth that electing more Republicans to the Senate so that the GOP can control both houses of Congress would make the country better off. If you think Republicans are bad as the opposition party, you ought to see how bad they are when they are in the majority. Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency for over four years under George W. Bush and what did it do for America but put us on the road to bigger government, further indebtedness, increased spending, and more tyranny. Almost every bad policy of Obama can be traced back to the Bush years.

But it’s not just the national government. We have had more Republicans elected to office on the federal, state, and local levels in the last twenty years than at any time in recent memory and probably not since Reconstruction. Republicans even control the House, Senate, and governorship in several states. Yet, we have more government, more government debt, more government spending, and more government tyranny at all levels than ever before—EPA, TSA, DHS, NSA, DEA, IRS, FBI, foreign military interventions, drone strikes, drug war, police brutality, etc.

Why on earth would anyone, and especially libertarians, think that voting Republican at any level would solve any problem or make things any better?

Originally posted on LewRockwell.com on August 14, 2013.

Categories : Articles
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Some libertarians are applauding the recent Supreme Court decisions relating to same-sex marriage, not because of anything to do with the Constitution, limited government, federalism, individual liberty, the proper role of government, or separating marriage from the state, but because they just happen to like the idea of same-sex marriage. As I have argued elsewhere, they are entitled to their opinion, but there is no libertarian “position” on same-sex marriage.

On Tuesday, March 26, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for and against California’s Proposition 8, a ballot initiative passed in 2008 that eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry that the California Supreme Court had recognized.

On Wednesday, March 27, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the merits and demerits of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), federal legislation passed in 1996 that defined marriage as only “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” and that permits states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the section of DOMA that defined marriage (sec. 3) was unconstitutional, thus ending the ban on same-sex married couples being recognized as married and eligible to receive federal benefits. The Court also let stand a 2010 federal district court ruling that declared Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional.

Conservatives who believe in traditional marriage and consider the term “same-sex marriage” to be an oxymoron are disturbed by the Supreme Court’s rulings. This is not generally because they find fault with any legal or constitutional arguments, but because the Court did not, in their eyes, rule in favor of traditional marriage—legal and constitutional arguments be damned.

But conservatives are also disturbed by what they see as libertarian support for same-sex marriage. This is not generally because they find fault with any arguments about individual liberty and the proper role of government, but because libertarians are not, in their eyes, upholding traditional marriage—philosophical arguments be damned.

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Categories : Articles
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I think it is rather funny how two major golden boys in the "Conservative Idol" game have been taken down by infidelity in the past few weeks: Dinesh D’Souza and now General Petraeus.

It is especially sickening, though, that according to “conservatives” the military is supposed to be the virtuous of virtuous groups, we are supposed to honor the living daylights out of them, give them special treatment (even moral license), etc., and yet at the highest levels we find such immoral scumbags. And people still think they can make decisions about who lives and who dies?

I keep growing in my dislike for social "conservatives" because, basically, they are complete and total statists. Oh yes, they say they want limited, small government, low taxes – except when it comes to enforcing their social values at the point of a gun and to making sure the military has unlimited expense accounts to police the world and blow up countries they find nominally offensive.

Even as a theologically conservative Christian, I cannot stand being associated with the socially “conservative” philosophy overall. If I had to label it, I’d say I am socially Biblical, not conservative. Even though God’s theocracy/monarchy in Israel had civil laws that we do not, nowhere in Scripture are we called as Christians to make the State make people moral.

Of course, being socially Biblical as well as a libertarian, I intuitively recognize that you cannot make people moral. People must make the choice to be moral freely. That does not meant there are no boundaries whatsoever (we expect prohibitions on violence), but personal morals must be adhered to voluntarily. If I am to believe the Bible, I cannot be a social conservative, nor a social liberal.

What do you think, is it time to abandon the term “socially conservative,” but not even replace it with “socially liberal”? Can we be “socially Biblical” and retain some nominal kinship to people on both sides? Is calling our position “socially Biblical” even a good idea in the first place? Let us know in the comments.

Categories : Random Thoughts
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It is certainly true that the Church has divided severely over issues throughout its 2,000-year history, but the last few decades have witnessed unparalleled division in recent memory. You’ll hardly hear someone offer that our country (and the Church) has become more politically united in the past decade.

Mike Slaughter and Charles Gutenson wrote Hijacked: Responding to the Partisan Church Divide to both acknowledge and correct a growing problem in the Church. Not only is the divide creating disunity within the Church, it is causing a significant number of younger Americans to reject the church because of the close relationship between partisan politics and religion. Throughout much of the 20th century, the Church’s liberal/conservative polarization was related primarily to theological issues rather than political, Democrat/Republican concerns. Only in the 1980s did theological “liberalism” (or “conservatism”) and voting primarily Democratic (or Republican) become integrally connected.

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Categories : Book Reviews
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