Archive for Republican
I have been writing about the folly and wickedness of war – and especially Christian support for the same – since soon after George W. Bush invaded Iraq back in 2003. After eight years, scores of articles, and two editions of my book Christianity and War, I have received literally thousands of e-mails in response to articles I have written on war and on the military.
Warmongers, armchair warriors, chickenhawks, neoconservatives, Religious Right warvangelicals, Reich-wing nationalists, theocon Values Voters, Red-State fascists, God and country patriots, and other defenders of U.S. wars and military interventions – and especially those claiming to be Christians – that write me in disagreement are in the minority, and especially since it has become clear that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned out to be such debacles.
But there is another thing that these war and military apologists lack besides numbers: the ability to question or disagree with something I write without penning an overly emotional, mistake-ridden, profanity-laced screed. I do not indict all of my critics. Some of my detractors have raised intelligent questions and offered constructive criticisms. But these sane responses are overshadowed by the ridiculous arguments that are usually presented and the equally ridiculous criticisms that are directed toward me.
Not in any particular order, here are the most ridiculous arguments I have ever received:
My father fought in Vietnam.
Or sometimes it is my brother, uncle, or grandfather fought in World War II, Korea, or Desert Storm. What this means is that whatever I wrote about the evils of war or folly of military service doesn’t matter because someone my critic knows fought in some foreign war while "serving" in the U.S. military.
U.S. soldiers didn’t hate the people they killed.
U.S. soldiers killing Iraqis, Afghans, and other darker-skinned foreigners should not be criticized because they didn’t hate the people they killed. They were just doing their job and following orders. So when they have orders to kill your family I guess it will be okay as long as they don’t hate them?
I was in the military and I never saw a soldier do anything like you describe in some of your articles.
So, because this soldier never saw other soldiers act like "hedonists with guns" (as one Marine described it to me) or kill civilians, then these actions never happened. I guess I just made it all up.
It is okay to kill Muslims because they are trying to kill Jews.
So, I guess it is okay to kill Russians when they try to kill Chechens, Chinese when they try to kill Tibetans, and Sudanese when they try to kill each other? Oh, I see, it is just Muslims that it is okay to kill.
Muslims are commanded to kill Christians.
And this means that Christians are commanded to or have an excuse to kill Muslims? Certainly not in the New Testament.
To criticize war and the military is left-wing.
All the veterans that write me and express their agreement with my articles would take offense at that. On this fallacy, see the article by Gary Benoit of the John Birch Society (certainly not a left-wing organization) called: "Anti-war Stance Is Right, Not Left."
Soldiers are mentioned favorably in the New Testament, so there is nothing wrong with being a U.S. soldier.
Oh, you mean the soldiers that scourged Jesus, stripped him, put a purple robe on him, put a crown of thorns on his head, mocked him, smote him with their hands, spit on him, cast lots for his garments, smote him on the head, feigned worship to him, and nailed him to a cross? I didn’t think so.
Christians are called soldiers in the New Testament, so it must be okay to be a U.S. soldier.
And God is said to shout "like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine" (Psalm 78:65). Is the Lord a drunkard? There is no denying the fact that the Bible likens a Christian to a soldier (2 Timothy 2:3, Philemon 2, Philippians 2:25). But as soldiers, Christians are admonished to "put on the whole armor of God" (Ephesians 6:11) and fight against sin, the world, the flesh, and the devil. The Christian soldier wears "the breastplate of righteousness" (Ephesians 6:14) and "the helmet of salvation" (Ephesians 6:17). The weapons of the Christian soldier are not carnal (2 Corinthians 10:4); his shield is "the shield of faith" (Ephesians 6:16) and his sword is "the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). Not exactly a description of a soldier in the U.S. military.
It is not the fault of soldiers if they are sent by politicians to fight an unjust war.
Some who don’t support U.S. foreign policy and the current U.S. wars hesitate to condemn U.S. soldiers. But they just don’t get it. It is not politicians that do the fighting. If an action is evil, immoral, or unjust, then it shouldn’t be done, no matter what the consequences and no matter who tells you to do it. Wearing a uniform is no excuse.
King David was a man of war.
Yes, and because David was a man of war, the Lord said to him: "Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood" (1 Chronicles 28:3).
The Bible says there is a time of war.
So this must mean that it was time for Bush to launch two wars? Jerry Falwell thought so.
Although this next one was not directed to me personally, I mention it because it is so ridiculously outrageous:
The United States is a client state of God.
This was the argument used by a Christian apologist for U.S. wars. The person it was directed to found it so ridiculous that he e-mailed me with the account of his exchange with said apologist. What it means is that nothing the U.S. government or its military does should be criticized. This opinion is not only ridiculous; it is dangerous.
Not in any particular order, here are the most ridiculous criticisms I have ever received:
You have a Juno e-mail account.
I am not making this up. One of my e-mail accounts, and the one I use for feedback on LRC articles, is an old Juno e-mail account. I have actually had people criticize something I wrote about war or the military and then – to really drive home their point – say something like: "No wonder you believe as you do. You have a Juno e-mail account."
You only teach at a community college.
Back when I did teach at a community college, I used to get people that would dismiss anything I wrote that they didn’t agree with because I taught at a community college instead of a university. I felt I was in good company, since the only college I knew of that the great Tom Woods ever taught at was a community college.
You are only an adjunct professor.
Back when I taught at a community college, I was sometimes mockingly told that the things I wrote weren’t credible since I was just an adjunct professor, not a regular professor.
You didn’t write back a long enough e-mail.
I sometime receive long rambling e-mails with one or two sentences criticizing something I wrote and many more that have nothing to do with anything I wrote. It seems that every time I write a brief note back to the critic, I receive another e-mail that asks: "Is that all you have to say?" They are upset that they didn’t receive an e-mail of the same length as the one they sent me.
Your book is not published by a major publishing house.
In the mind of my critics that bring this up, since my book Christianity and War is published by Vance Publications (as are all of my books), of which I am the sole proprietor, designer, writer, editor, typesetter, proofreader, distributor, and marketer, it must not be worth reading; therefore, any articles I write must not be worth reading either. But if my anti-war book were published by a major publisher, then these critics would undoubtedly dismiss it as being published by a "left-wing" publisher because they falsely equate being anti-war with being a leftist.
You never served in the military.
This is the ridiculous criticism I have received more than all of the others combined. The idea is that I have no right to criticize the military because I was never in the military. Yet, these same people will criticize the president when they have never been the president, criticize Democrats when they have never been a Democrat, and criticize pornographers when they have never been a pornographer. And what is their response when someone who has been in the military long enough to retire from the military says the same things I say? My critics don’t listen to them either.
I frequently receive other ridiculous criticisms that are just simply not true. Things like: "You are a communist," "You are a liberal," "You must be a Democrat," "You hate everyone in the military," "You hate America," "You are a Quaker," "You are a pacifist dog," You are a brain dead dope smoking moron," "You have s___ for brains."
I may have received other arguments and criticisms that I have forgotten about because they were so ridiculous. The above are just the ones I remember. The important thing to me is not that people agree with me, but that they are reading something worthy of support.
Originally posted on LewRockwell.com on November 26, 2012.
Tags: Bible, Christian Right, Christianity, ethics, politics, Republican, war, war on terror
At a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor held just before the Republican National Convention began, House Speaker John Boehner, when asked about the new Republican Party Platform, said: "If it were up to me I would have the platform on one sheet of paper. Have you ever met anybody who read the party platform? I’ve not met ever anybody."
This must have been disheartening to the Republican activists from around the country who worked for months just to earn the right to attend the convention in order to have a chance of contributing to the party platform. Each state delegation assigns two of its members to a special committee that works on the platform and then presents it to the full convention for approval.
Well, I do read party platforms, and I have read the new 2012 Republican Party Platform – the preamble and every word on its 54 pages. The authors of the platform obviously think it is an important document. The preamble opens and closes with these statements:
The 2012 Republican Platform is a statement of who we are and what we believe as a Party and our vision for a stronger and freer America.
We respectfully submit this platform to the American people. It is both a vision of where we are headed and an invitation to join us in that journey.
Writing in the Washington Times, conservative Phyllis Schlafly says the new Republican Party platform "may be the best one ever adopted." It is "an excellent document written by grass-roots conservatives. It is a true reflection of American values."
But since when do American values consist of recycled clichés, pious platitudes, manifest hypocrisy, vain assurances, empty promises, and blatant lies?
After the preamble, the Republican Party platform contains six chapters:
- Restoring the American Dream: Rebuilding the Economy and Creating Jobs
- We The People: A Restoration of Constitutional Government
- America’s Natural Resources: Energy, Agriculture and the Environment
- Reforming Government to Serve the People
- Renewing American Values to Build Healthy Families, Great Schools and Safe Neighborhoods
- American Exceptionalism
But before looking at each of these chapters, we need to review a little Republican Party history first.
The Republicans controlled the House and Senate for the last six years of Clinton’s presidency (January 1995–January 2001). This was the first time the Republicans had controlled the entire Congress since the 83rd Congress under President Eisenhower (January 1953–January 1955). The Republicans controlled both the Congress and the presidency from the inauguration of George Bush on January 20, 2001, until May 24, 2001, when Republican senator Jim Jeffords switched from Republican to Independent. In the 2002 midterm election, the Republicans regained control of the Senate, but then lost both Houses to the Democrats in the 2006 midterm election. This means that for over four years the Republican Party was in complete control of the government like the Democratic Party was during Clinton’s first two years as president. The Republicans regained control of the House in the 2010 midterm election.
The importance of this history lesson will be evident as we go through the Republican platform section by section.
1. Restoring the American Dream: Rebuilding the Economy and Creating Jobs
The Republicans begin their first section with two of the biggest lies that have ever been told:
We are the party of maximum economic freedom.
Republicans will pursue free market policies that are the surest way to boost employment and create job growth and economic prosperity for all.
Does this mean that Americans are free to buy or sell any good or service they choose, from or to any person or business they choose, for any price that is voluntarily agreed upon? Of course not. Want to buy a Cuban cigar? Want to sell guns without a federal firearms license? Want to pay less than the minimum wage to a willing worker? Want to not pay overtime to a willing worker? Want to only rent your apartment to certain individuals? Want to charge the highest price you think you can get for gas? Sorry, you will pay a fine and/or go to jail.
The next two lies are so laughable I marvel at the audacity of Republicans for putting them in their platform:
Backed by a Republican Senate and House, our next President will propose immediate reductions in federal spending, as a down payment on the much larger task of long-range fiscal control.
Government spending and regulation must be reined in.
That’s funny. I have looked in detail at Paul Ryan’s budget plan that was passed by the Republican-controlled House earlier this year. He has spending increasing every year, the national debt increasing every year, and a budget that will not be balanced for twenty-three years. And the last time we had a Republican Senate, a Republican House, and a Republican president, the Republicans doubled the national debt, drastically increased spending, started two wars that will ultimately cost over $2 trillion dollars, didn’t cut any major regulations, increased the number of regulations, and gave us the first trillion-dollar deficit. I can’t wait to see what the Republicans will do this time.
What would a Republican platform be without talk of simplifying and reforming the tax code?
The tax system must be simplified.
We will reform the tax code to allow businesses to generate enough capital to grow and create jobs for our families, friends and neighbors all across America.
Taxes, by their very nature, reduce a citizen’s freedom. Their proper role in a free society should be to fund services that are essential and authorized by the Constitution, such as national security, and the care of those who cannot care for themselves. We reject the use of taxation to redistribute income, fund unnecessary or ineffective programs, or foster the crony capitalism that corrupts both politicians and corporations.
We oppose tax policies that divide Americans or promote class warfare.
Our goal is a tax system that is simple, transparent, flatter, and fair. In contrast, the current IRS code is like a patchwork quilt, stitched together over time from mismatched pieces, and is beyond the comprehension of the average citizen. A reformed code should promote simplicity and coherence, savings and innovation, increase American competitiveness, and recognize the burdens on families with children. To that end, we propose to:
- Extend the 2001 and 2003 tax relief packages – commonly known as the Bush tax cuts – pending reform of the tax code, to keep tax rates from rising on income, interest, dividends, and capital gains;
- Reform the tax code by reducing marginal tax rates by 20 percent across-the-board in a revenue-neutral manner;
- Eliminate the taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains altogether for lower and middle-income taxpayers;
- End the Death Tax; and
- Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax.
Hey Republicans, when you passed the Bush tax cuts in the first place, why didn’t you make them permanent? Why didn’t you simplify and reform the tax code when you controlled the Congress for over four years with a Republican president? Why didn’t you eliminate the estate tax permanently when you had the chance? Why didn’t you eliminate taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains altogether when you had complete control of the government? And why only for lower and middle-income taxpayers? I thought you opposed tax policies that divided Americans or promoted class warfare? And even with your Bush tax cuts, a progressive income tax by its very nature divides Americans and promotes class warfare, and especially one like we have now where half of Americans pay no income tax whatsoever. So why didn’t you reform the tax code so it wasn’t a progressive tax code as favored by Karl Marx? It is indeed strange that Republicans should say they reject the use of taxation to redistribute income and fund unnecessary programs. What do they think that 90 percent of the federal budget is spent on?
Republicans also bemoan the fact that "American businesses now face the world’s highest corporate tax rate." They call for "a reduction of the corporate rate to keep U.S. corporations competitive internationally, with a permanent research and development tax credit, and a repeal of the corporate alternative minimum tax." But the corporate tax rate didn’t go up under Obama. It has been the same for the past twenty years. Why didn’t Republicans lower the corporate tax rate when they controlled both Houses of Congress for six years under Clinton and for over four years under Bush? The only ones to blame for the high corporate tax rates are the Republicans. They are the ones who talk about cutting taxes and when given the opportunity, they blew it.
In this section, the Republicans also talk about "a federal-State-private partnership" that "must invest in the nation’s infrastructure: roads, bridges, airports, ports, and water systems," enforcing housing non-discrimination laws, and "assisting low income families and the elderly with safe and adequate shelter, especially through the use of housing vouchers." Too bad there is nothing in the Constitution that authorizes the federal government to do any of these things.
Amtrak comes under criticism in this first section of the GOP platform. "The public has to subsidize every ticket nearly $50," say the Republicans. I agree with their solution: "It is long past time for the federal government to get out of way and allow private ventures to provide passenger service to the northeast corridor. The same holds true with regard to high-speed and intercity rail across the country." So what are you Republicans waiting for? Where are the bills in the House to completely privatize Amtrak? But they wouldn’t pass a Democratic-controlled Senate or be signed into law by a Democratic president, say the Republicans. That never stopped House Republicans from passing bills to repeal Obamacare thirty-three times. And why wasn’t Amtrak sold off when the Republicans had an absolute majority under Bush?
Federal job training programs also come under condemnation in the Republican platform: "Nine federal agencies currently run 47 retraining programs at a total cost of $18 billion annually with dismal results. Both the trainees in those programs and the taxpayers who fund them deserve better." And what is the Republican solution? Is it to completely abolish the unconstitutional programs? Of course not. They must be "overhauled and made relevant for the workplace of the twenty-first century." Republicans "propose consolidation of those programs into State block grants so that training can be coordinated with local schools and employers."
The Republicans also complain about the Davis-Bacon law that "continues to drive up infrastructure construction and maintenance costs for the benefit of that party’s union stalwarts" and "costs the taxpayers billions of dollars annually in artificially high wages on government projects." They call for the law’s repeal in their platform. Fine, but instead of promising to do something about Davis-Bacon, why didn’t you actually do something about Davis-Bacon when you had the power to for over four years when Bush was the president?
2. We The People: A Restoration of Constitutional Government
The first words of section 2 are: "We are the party of the Constitution." This makes me want to either scream or throw up – or perhaps a couple hours of each. Although the Republicans claim that the Constitution is "the greatest political document ever written" and that "that sacred document shows us the path forward," anyone who looked at the Republican record – and especially when they had absolute control of the government under Bush – for more than three seconds would see instantly that they violate the Constitution every minute of every day.
Republicans have a warped view of what it means to follow the Constitution:
In the spirit of the Constitution, we consider discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, or national origin unacceptable and immoral. We will strongly enforce anti-discrimination statutes and ask all to join us in rejecting the forces of hatred and bigotry and in denouncing all who practice or promote racism, anti-Semitism, ethnic prejudice, or religious intolerance.
Since when are anti-discrimination statutes authorized by the Constitution? Discrimination is essential in a free society, as I have written here.
Republicans also have a warped view of what should be in the Constitution. They propose a human life amendment and "by whatever legislative method is most feasible," legal protection against flag desecration.
Now, anyone who knows me or has read any of my articles on abortion knows that I am unabashedly opposed to abortion. But the answer is not federalizing the issue, as Ron Paul has explained so many times. But if the Republicans are so opposed to abortion and to "using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it," then why do they vote to fund Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States?
Here is something in section 2 concerning the Constitution that I actually agree with the Republicans on:
Scores of entrenched federal programs violate the constitutional mandates of federalism by taking money from the States, laundering it through various federal agencies, only to return to the States shrunken grants with mandates attached.
But who is responsible for "scores of entrenched federal programs"? Who is responsible for not eliminating "scores of entrenched federal programs"? Why, it is the Republicans. To give one major example, see my "Republican Welfare State."
Here are two more true statements in the platform that Republicans don’t even begin to follow:
The only just government is one that truly governs with the consent of the governed.
In a free society, the primary role of government is to protect the God-given, inalienable, inherent rights of its citizens, including the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
When Republicans say they believe in a limited government, they only mean that they want a government limited to a government controlled by Republicans.
The Republican claim in their platform to "support the review and examination of all federal agencies to eliminate wasteful spending, operational inefficiencies, or abuse of power" is such a lie that I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, scream, or throw up.
What the Republicans say about the Second, Fourth, and Tenth Amendments in section 2 of their platform is insidious. The myriad of federal gun laws on the books shows that they don’t believe in the Second Amendment at all. They talk about how whether legislation being a state or a federal matter "must be determined in accordance with the Tenth Amendment, in conjunction with Article I, Section 8." Okay, so Republicans must believe that the legal status of marijuana should be left up to the states? Wrong again. Republicans are ardent drug warriors who don’t believe in federalism for a minute when it comes to the war on drugs. And here are the Republican creators and sustainers of the TSA on the Fourth Amendment: "All security measures and police actions should be viewed through the lens of the Fourth Amendment; for if we trade liberty for security, we shall have neither." Try reading that while TSA agents are feeling you up at the airport.
But wait a minute, the Republicans say in their platform that the procedures and much of the personnel of the TSA need to be “changed” because the agency is “now a massive bureaucracy of 65,000 employees who seem to be accountable to no one for the way they treat travelers.” They even “call for the private sector to take over airport screening wherever feasible and look toward the development of security systems that can replace the personal violation of frisking.” Republicans have never apologized for creating the agency in the first place, just like they have never done anything about “the personal violation of frisking.” And they expect us to believe that now, just before the election, they are concerned about Americans’ civil liberties? Do Republicans think we are that stupid?
3. America’s Natural Resources: Energy, Agriculture and the Environment
"We are the party of sustainable jobs and economic growth," begin the Republicans, but then they add "through American energy, agriculture, and environmental policy." But since when does the government have the authority to make energy, agriculture, and environmental policy in the first place? Certainly not in the Constitution the Republicans consider their "owner’s manual." (See my "Whither U.S. Energy Policy?")
Although the Republicans don’t mention Solyndra by name, they make a veiled reference to it: "Unlike the current Administration, we will not pick winners and losers in the energy marketplace. Instead, we will let the free market and the public’s preferences determine the industry outcomes." Solyndra was the first renewable-energy company to receive a loan guarantee under a provision to encourage "green energy" in Obama’s stimulus plan, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. But this was not the beginning of the government’s effort to encourage "green energy." For this we must go back to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, signed into law by George W. Bush on August 8 of that year. (See my "The Real Problem with Solyndra.")
Republicans want to expand nuclear energy. They lament that "no new nuclear generating plants have been licensed and constructed for thirty years." Have they forgotten that they had an absolute majority in the Congress for six years under Clinton and complete control of the government for over four year under Bush? The Republicans’ lamentation is of their own making.
Republicans try to blame Obama for high gas prices: "Since the current President took office in 2009, consumers pay approximately twice as much for gas at the pump." But if you look at gas prices for the last 30 years, it is evident that they began to drastically increase after Bush invaded Iraq in 2003. After reaching over $4 a gallon, gas prices made a sudden drop before the 2008 election (but not enough to help the Republicans win the presidency). At least Republicans in their platform did not say that gas prices would fall to a certain amount if they were put in charge of the government as did Republican buffoons Michele Bachmann ($2.00) and Newt Gingrich ($2.50).
On agriculture, the Republicans believe that "the proper federal role in agriculture" includes farm programs, crop insurance, agricultural research, food safety, food stamps, other domestic nutrition programs, and foreign food aid. They also say that the U. S. Forest Service – which controls about 193 million acres of land and employs 30,000 workers – "should be charged to use these resources to the best economic potential for the nation." According to the Constitution, there is no proper role of the federal government in agriculture. So, since the Republicans maintain that "when the Constitution is evaded, transgressed, or ignored, so are the freedoms it guarantees," they must want to abolish the Department of Agriculture and the Forest Service, right? Sorry, wrong again. (See my "Uncle Sam Is a Sugar Daddy.")
This section of the platform has a lot of criticism of the EPA:
We will end the EPA’s war on coal and encourage the increased safe development in all regions of the nation’s coal resources
We stand with growers and producers in defense of their water rights against attempts by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to expand jurisdiction over water, including water that is clearly not navigable.
We demand an end to the EPA’s participation in "sue and settle" lawsuits, sweetheart litigation brought by environmental groups to expand the Agency’s regulatory activities against the wishes of Congress and the public.
We oppose the EPA’s unwarranted revocation of existing permits. We also call on Congress to take quick action to prohibit the EPA from moving forward with new greenhouse gas regulations that will harm the nation’s economy and threaten millions of jobs over the next quarter century.
It almost sounds like the Republicans want to abolish the EPA. Especially since they also say:
Experience has shown that, in caring for the land and water, private ownership has been our best guarantee of conscientious stewardship, while the worst instances of environmental degradation have occurred under government control.
The most powerful environmental policy is liberty, the central organizing principle of the American Republic and its people. Liberty alone fosters scientific inquiry, technological innovation, entrepreneurship, and information exchange. Liberty must remain the core energy behind America’s environmental improvement.
Never fear, the Republicans have no plans to get rid of the EPA. They merely say: "Federal agencies charged with enforcing environmental laws must stop regulating beyond their authority." Republicans say they don’t want "activist regulators." In short, Republicans just want Republican regulations instead of Democratic regulations.
This is why we still have fuel-economy regulations (CAFE standards), which were first introduced for passenger cars in 1978. They continued under Reagan and a Republican-controlled Senate. They continued under a Republican majority in the Congress under Clinton. They continued under absolute Republican control of the government under Bush. And then in December of 2007, President Bush signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (H.R.6), which requires that automakers boost the gas mileage of their fleets to 35 mpg by the year 2020. This law was agreed to by an overwhelming majority of Republicans in the Senate and by half of the House Republicans.
4. Reforming Government to Serve the People
"We are the party of government reform," say the Republicans. They characterize the government, which they helped create and sustain, as "bloated, antiquated and unresponsive to taxpayers." They propose to "restructure" the government, to better manage it to "provide better services," as if the government was a business with customers that voluntarily patronized it. They also talk about "reversing the undermining of federalism and the centralizing of power in Washington," which, again, they are just as responsible for as the Democrats.
The Republicans have a grave philosophical deficiency, as seen by this statement in section 4 of their platform:
We look to government – local, State, and federal – for the things government must do, but we believe those duties can be carried out more efficiently and at less cost. For all other activities, we look to the private sector.
Judging from the legislation the Republicans have supported over the past thirty years, the list of things that Republicans think the government "must do" must be incredibly long. And where is it written in stone that the government "must do" anything? Wasn’t it Republican icon Ronald Reagan who said government was the problem and not the solution?
Republicans are not ashamed to acknowledge that they are firmly committed to welfare; that is, Social Security and socialized medicine:
Younger Americans have lost all faith in the Social Security system, which is understandable when they read the nonpartisan actuary’s reports about its future funding status. . . . To restore public trust in the system, Republicans are committed to setting it on a sound fiscal basis that will give workers control over, and a sound return on, their investments.
The Republican Party is committed to saving Medicare and Medicaid.
We will save Medicare by modernizing it, by empowering its participants, and by putting it on a secure financial footing.
Our goal for both Medicare and Medicaid must be to assure that every participant receives the amount of care they need at the time they need it, whether for an expectant mother and her baby or for someone in the last moments of life.
Republicans also mention allowing "younger workers the option of creating their own investment accounts as supplements to the system." But since younger workers can already create their own private investment accounts, what is the point of the government being involved?
In the Republicans’ discussion of government regulations in this section, there are four things that should be noted.
First, Republicans just assume that the government should be making rules and regulations in the first place:
The proper purpose of regulation is to set forth clear rules of the road for the citizens, so that business owners and workers can understand in advance what they need to do, or not do, to augment the possibilities for success within the confines of the law.
I thought Republicans believed in the free market?
Second, Republicans are biased against Democratic regulations.
No peril justifies the regulatory impact of Obamacare on the practice of medicine, the Dodd-Frank Act on financial services, or the EPA’s and OSHA’s overreaching regulation agenda. A Republican Congress and President will repeal the first and second, and rein in the third.
Notice that Republicans want to repeal regulations established by Democrats but only "rein in" regulations established by agencies created under a Republican president they have grown to accept.
Third, Republicans believe that if only Republicans had control of the government, then regulations would all be sound and cost-effective.
We call for a moratorium on the development of any new major and costly regulations until a Republican Administration reviews existing rules to ensure that they have a sound basis in science and will be cost-effective.
Like I said earlier, Republicans only want a government limited to a government controlled by Republicans.
And fourth, the promises Republicans make about reducing "overregulation" and reconsidering "out-of-date regulations" are just more Republican hot air. When they controlled the government under a Republican president they not only did nothing about "overregulation" or "out-of-date regulations," they made even more regulations.
Near the end of section 4, the Republicans have the audacity to say: "We will ensure that personal data receives full constitutional protection from government overreach." I guess that is why an agency the Republicans love, the NSA, is building the country’s biggest spy center in Utah.
5. Renewing American Values to Build Healthy Families, Great Schools and Safe Neighborhoods
On welfare, although the Republicans admit that the government "dispenses nearly $1 trillion in taxpayer funds across a maze of approximately 80 programs that are neither coordinated nor effective in solving poverty and lifting up families," their solution is not to eliminate welfare – or even call for a gradual end to welfare – because it fosters dependency, is unconstitutional, and redistributes wealth, but to reform the system "to ensure that it promotes work."
In spite of all their talk about freedom and responsibility, Republicans reveal themselves to be puritanical busybodies that are comfortable with a Republican nanny state:
We support the prohibition of gambling over the Internet and call for reversal of the Justice Department’s decision distorting the formerly accepted meaning of the Wire Act that could open the door to Internet betting.
Current laws on all forms of pornography and obscenity need to be vigorously enforced.
And you thought that when the Republicans said they insisted "that there should be no regulation of political speech on the Internet" and that they opposed "governmental censorship of speech through the so-called Fairness Doctrine or by government enforcement of speech codes" that they were in favor of a free society based on individual liberty and responsibility? (See my "The Gambling Question.")
Before the Republicans pledged to repeal Obamacare in section 5 of their platform, perhaps they should have talked to their presidential nominee first. Although Republicans say that they are "committed to its repeal" and that "a Republican President, on the first day in office, will use his legitimate waiver authority under that law to halt its progress and then will sign its repeal," Romney recently said that he wants to keep parts of Obamacare. He wants to replace it with his own plan "while keeping some popular provisions including coverage for people with pre-existing conditions."
And although the Republicans talk about "a free market in healthcare" and say they believe that "taking care of one’s health is an individual responsibility," such talk is meaningless since Republicans believe in using the power of the state to compel Americans to pay for other Americans’ health care (Medicare, SCHIP, Medicaid) just like the Democrats.
On education, Republicans state: "Parents are responsible for the education of their children." They acknowledge that "since 1965 the federal government has spent $2 trillion on elementary and secondary education with no substantial improvement in academic achievement or high school graduation rates." So why don’t they call for the elimination of the Department of Education? Ronald Reagan proposed abolishing of the Department of Education while campaigning for president in 1980. The Republican Party platforms of 1980 and 1996 likewise called for the department’s elimination.
I think the answer is that during Bill Clinton’s last six years in office, when the Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate, the education budget ballooned to $42.1 billion by fiscal year 2001 (Clinton’s last budget). Or perhaps the answer is that under George W. Bush, when the Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate for more than four years, the education budget increased all the way up to $100 billion in fiscal year 2006 before leveling off in the $60 billion range. And as I pointed out in "Too Little, Too Late":
Republicans participated in the expansion of the Department of Education with a Republican president and one house of Congress controlled by the Republicans, with a Republican president and both houses of Congress controlled by the Democrats, with a Democratic president and both houses of Congress controlled by the Republicans, and with a Republican president and both houses of Congress controlled by the Republicans.
I’m glad the Republicans pledge to get rid of "family planning" programs for teens, but I’m still trying to find in the Constitution where it authorizes that these programs be replaced with "abstinence education which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior."
There is one last thing Republicans say about education which shows that they don’t have a clue what the proper role of government is: "The federal government should not be in the business of originating student loans; however, it should serve as an insurance guarantor for the private sector as they offer loans to students." This, of course, means that the taxpayers would have to bail out banks that made risky loans to students that could not be repaid.
There is one last thing in this section that should make your blood boil if you are aware of how much the police state has intensified since Bush took office. I am printing the whole paragraph because it makes such incredible reading:
The resources of the federal government’s law enforcement and judicial systems have been strained by two unfortunate expansions: the overcriminalization of behavior and the over-federalization of offenses. The number of criminal offenses in the U.S. Code increased from 3,000 in the early 1980s to over 4,450 by 2008. Federal criminal law should focus on acts by federal employees or acts committed on federal property – and leave the rest to the States. Then Congress should withdraw from federal departments and agencies the power to criminalize behavior, a practice which, according to the Congressional Research Service, has created "tens of thousands" of criminal offenses. No one other than an elected representative should have the authority to define a criminal act and set criminal penalties. In the same way, Congress should reconsider the extent to which it has federalized offenses traditionally handled on the State or local level.
Hey Republicans, why is it that it is only in 2012 that you suddenly realized these things? And judging from your horrendous track record on civil liberties, I don’t see how anyone could possibly take you seriously anyway. Does anyone really think that if the Republicans regain full control of the government that the number of federal criminal offenses will be significantly reduced and real federalism restored? And I wonder if the "overcriminalization of behavior" includes the criminalization of drugs? Don’t count on it. As I remarked earlier: Republicans are ardent drug warriors who don’t believe in federalism for a minute when it comes to the war on drugs.
6. American Exceptionalism
This last section is the longest in the platform, but will be the shortest in my critique. Let me summarize it for you. The military budget must be raised. Support the troops. Iran is a threat to Israel, the United States, and the world and therefore must be prevented from building a nuclear weapon. The troops defend our freedoms. The military and its reserves must be expanded. The troops are our heroes. The United States must defend Taiwan. Support the troops. The U.S. nuclear stockpile must be modernized. The troops defend our freedoms. Missile defense bases in Europe must be established and the budget for missile defense must be raised. The troops are our heroes. Foreign aid must be continued. Support the troops. The Cuban embargo must be continued. The troops defend our freedoms. The war on drugs must continue. The troops are our heroes. Venezuela represents an increasing threat to U.S. security. Support the troops. The surge troops should remain in Afghanistan. The troops defend our freedoms. All options must remain on the table. The troops are our heroes.
I want to close with some brief comments on a statement Republicans make in section 6. In response to the various threats the United States faces from "transnational terrorism, continued belligerence by a nuclear-armed North Korea, an Iran in pursuit of nuclear weapons, rising Chinese hegemony in the Asia Pacific region, Russian activism, and threats from cyber espionage and terrorism," Republicans state that
President Obama has reduced the defense budget by over $487 billion over the next decade and fought Republican efforts to avoid another $500 billion in automatic budget cuts through a sequestration in early 2013 that will take a meat ax to all major defense programs.
Now, I am no fan of Barack Hussein Obama, and loathe him as much as I loathe George W. Bush, but that doesn’t mean that I need to make things up in order to make him look bad. My question is this: How is it possible for Obama to have "reduced the defense budget by over $487 billion over the next decade"? Two observations. 1. Congress passes the National Defense Authorization Act each year to set forth the budget of the Defense Department. The last time it was signed into law was on December 31, 2011. Since the Republicans control the House of Representatives, the bill Obama signed authorizing the current defense budget had to be one that Republicans supported or it would have never passed the House. 2. It is impossible to reduce the defense budget for any year except the next fiscal year. The Republicans are obviously referencing one of Obama’s proposed budgets – which means absolutely nothing since it is Congress that ultimately determines the amount spent on defense every year.
And if sequestration is so bad, then why did Republicans, who hold a majority in the House, vote to pass the Budget Control Act that raised the debt ceiling and set sequestration in motion? Why did Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan vote for it?
It was Mark Twain who popularized the dictum about there being three kinds of lies – lies, damn lies, and statistics. But even these pale in comparison with the lies found in the Republican Party platform.
Why should we believe anything the Republicans promise to do when they had the power to do it everyday for over four years when Bush was the president and did absolutely nothing? "The American people work too hard and too long to support a bloated government," say the Republicans. Then why didn’t they apologize for their part in giving Americans a bloated government? And why didn’t they do something about it when they had the chance?
And what good are the Republicans’ promises anyway? Republicans always say they are going to reform, examine, study, simplify, improve, rethink, restructure, and reconsider instead of abolish, cut, eliminate, slash, get rid of, end, do away with, and eradicate.
When the Republicans in their platform say anything bad about Obama, just remember that he is probably continuing one of Bush’s policies. When they say anything good about lower taxes, less spending, fewer regulations, or limited government, don’t believe a word of it. It is all a ruse to get votes.
And never mind the nineteen times that abortion is mentioned in the Republican platform. The promise of ending abortion is the carrot held just out of reach of gullible conservatives to get them to continue to vote Republican in every election hoping that the Republicans will actually do something.
It works the same way regarding economics, as explained by Lew Rockwell about the Republicans:
Economic liberty is the utopia that they keep promising to bring us, pending the higher priority of blowing up foreign peoples, jailing political dissidents, crushing the left wing on campus, and routing the Democrats. Once all of this is done, they say, then they will get to the instituting of a free-market economic system. Of course, that day never arrives, and it is not supposed to. Capitalism serves the Republicans the way Communism served Stalin: a symbolic distraction to keep you hoping, voting, and coughing up money.
The Republican platform says that the elections of 2012 will be "a referendum on the future of liberty in America." If that is truly the case, then the last thing anyone should do is vote Republican.
Originally posted at LewRockwell.com on September 12, 2012.
Tags: conservatism, elections, libertarianism, liberty, partisan politics, politicians, politics, Republican, republicans
Missouri Representative Todd Akin* made some smashingly terrible comments the other day regarding the incidence of pregnancy following rape:
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
This has made him look so bad, in fact, that even the corrupt National GOP will no longer spend any money on his campaign and urged him to drop out.
It may not be immediately apparent why this is an irresponsible use of words, so let me offer some additional explanation. Akin is effectively suggesting that if a woman is raped and it results in her conceiving, she probably wasn’t “legitimately raped.”
This is quite insensitive any way you try and spin it. In fact, every time I try to parse out what he really might be saying he ends up looking worse. Then, there’s the apology – or rather the lack thereof. Instead of just saying “I’m sorry” in the most public way possible, Akin posts to Facebook that he “misspoke.” Really? Is that all?
This entire incident is a major reason why the right-wing pro-life constituency is hard to take seriously at times. On the one hand, they desire a good thing – making abortion a thing of the past. On the other hand, they endorse a total police state to realize that goal. They have blinded themselves with power so much that they cannot see that they wish to do evil to accomplish good.
To be sure, I’m not always thrilled with the way the Libertarian Party treats abortion issues (for example, Gary Johnson), but the way Akin-gate has blown up just shows that everybody is essentially talking past each other. Thus, no progress will ever be made.
Republicans have no real incentive to do anything about abortion, because their politicians need it to be their major campaign issue year after year. Democrats, likewise, always need a pro-life issue to demonize to make sure their own campaign agenda is set. The battleground is a farce. Likewise, pro-life interest groups play the game as well, because they need to continue lining their coffers. Statism damns it all.
The only consistent position of someone who truly cares about pro-life issues is to be a complete anarchist, because the State is always a peddler of death and deception. When they aren’t killing babies at home, the US government kills babies abroad in endless wars and interventions. If you truly desire to save children, abolish the State.
There are many ways to help pregnant women that do not involve government intervention, but I imagine most of these will never see any use because the State is completely involved in every aspect of healthcare from conception to death. Why anyone would entrust the State with such important things is beyond me.
* I somewhat feel bad for Akin because we have a little history together. His son and I used to go to math contests when we were homeschoolers in high school in the St. Louis area, so we became friends. It really is too bad that Todd has proven repeatedly that he tows the Republican line at pretty much every opportunity.
Tags: abortion, politicians, politics, pro-life, Republican, Todd Akin
Recapping the interesting and significant news and articles of the past week.
Walter Block, a good friend of mine and an atheist, defends Christian libertarians publicly.
Thomas DiLorenzo gives us a short history of the Republican Party, a party not of great morals but great moral frauds.
CATO Institute has an awesome infographic on how the iPhone has reduced the amount of material we use in products.
Joel Poindexter on how government has wrecked yet another necessity: wiper fluid.
Some optimistic figures about wealth and the previous generation:
Helpful stats on health care in the U.S. versus other nations.
Ralph Raico is Mr. Classical Liberal, and has a new book out to prove it.
Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt thinks it’s a win-win to bribe kids to get good grades with money (Audio here).
Many thanks to LCC author Doug Stuart for helping assemble these links this week! Also, if you have something you’d like to talk about or news item to share, please let us know in the comments. I read every comment and usually take time to respond to almost all of them. Have a great weekend!
Tags: classical liberalism, economics, libertarianism, News of the Week, religion, Republican
Review of Wayne Grudem, Politics – According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture (Zondervan, 2010), 619 pgs., hardcover, $39.99.
I remember back in the mid 1990s when I was teaching theology and Zondervan published Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. I thought it was a good book, and now see that it has sold over 300,000 copies. Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw that the author recently wrote an equally massive book on politics. It is not everyday when a theologian is found to have such a different field of interest and, in the case of Grudem, expertise.
As I have mentioned in some of my other reviews of Christian books (see here, here, here, here, and here), because one of my primary interests is the intersection of religion with politics and economics, I try to read and possibly review any books on these subjects. Although I am usually disappointed, Politics – According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture (hereafter just Politics – According to the Bible), although it has much to disappoint, and much I vehemently disagree with, is still an important and needful work that I can recommend to Christians interested in religion and politics, albeit with many caveats.
Tags: Bible, Book Reviews, bush, Obama, politics, Republican, theology