How to shrink the government 4

We are often challenged on our Facebook page to explain how we are conservative – the prejudice behind the question being that all conservatives in America are religious Christians so “atheist conservative” is “an oxymoron”.

Our reply is that our principles, values, political aims are conservative, in that we are for: individual freedom, small government, low taxes, a free market economy, strong defense. We add that there is nothing about conservatism that requires belief in the supernatural.

Lower taxes should mean smaller government. Small, limited government is essential for individual freedom. Freedom requires and would naturally produce a free market.

A government should do only what only a government can do: protect the liberty of the people, and of the nation as a whole. Little more.

But is it possible to shrink a government that has grown enormously too big, doing far more than a government is necessary for, having far too much power?

Kris Kobach writes at Breitbart:

For more than eighty years, beginning with FDR’s New Deal, Americans have witnessed a constant increase in the size and scope of the federal government. This expansion has continued unabated during both Democratic and Republican administrations. 

Whether measured in terms of dollars spent, or in terms of percentage of Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”) consumed by the federal government, big government has become inexorably bigger.

In 1940, federal spending was a relatively modest 9.6% of GDP – or $9.5 billion out of $98.2 billion. In 2009 under President Obama, federal spending hit a high water mark (excluding the World War II years) of 24.4% of GDP – or $3,517.7 billion out of $14,414.6 billion.

The growth of the federal civilian workforce has slowed since 1960 – leveling off between 2.5 and 3 million – but this has masked the transfer of federal programs to state and local bureaucracies. Since 1960, the number of state and local government employees has tripled to over 18 million. This growth has been driven by a tenfold increase in federal grants to cities and states. For conservatives, this trend has been depressing. We plead for smaller government, but our cries have been futile as Congress and state legislatures refuse to make significant or lasting cuts in the size of government. The growth of the Leviathan has seemed unstoppable.

The forces pushing the expansion of government are powerful. Bureaucrats justify their existence by spending every dime appropriated to their agencies and then asking for more. Politicians of both parties find it easier to win votes by serving up pork than by offering austerity. Congresses deals with every crisis by spending money. And the progressive Left continually pushes the growth of entitlements for its own political advantage.

Fortunately, there is now hope in the fight against big government. There is a demographic sea change at work – something that has the potential to shift the forces in favor of conservatives who are serious about shrinking government. The baby boomers are retiring.

The baby boomer generation – those born between 1946 and 1964 – includes 76 million Americans. Over a 19 year period that started approximately in 2011, virtually all of them will retire. That’s an average of four million people retiring every year, or nearly 11,000 every day.  And a large percentage of them are working for the government. Government agencies across the federal government, as well as in state and local governments, are seeing a slew of retirements.

Take the Social Security Administration. Starting in 2011, the SSA began seeing 4,000 retirements a year. The same is happening throughout the federal government. The bureaucrats see this as a crisis. Conservatives should see it as an opportunity.

Attrition through retirement is causing federal and state workforces to turn over. Many of these retirees need not be replaced. The size of government can be dramatically reduced simply by making the decision not to fill every vacancy. And it doesn’t take an act of Congress to do it.  All it takes is political will in the executive branch not to fill vacancies. The only exceptions should be law enforcement agencies and the military.

But can it really be done in practice? The answer is yes, it can. I know because I’ve done it. Shortly after I became Kansas Secretary of State in 2011, I saw baby boomer retirements occurring in my own agency. Realizing this opportunity, I directed my deputies to reassign the duties of retiring employees to those who remained. Wherever possible, the open positions were not to be filled. We left approximately 1/3 of the vacancies unfilled.

Over the course of six years, I was able to shrink my agency’s workforce by 18 percent. We did it through natural attrition, without massive layoffs. The smaller payroll, along with other cuts, also allowed me to reduce agency spending by over 30 percent. And the agency is still carrying out all of the same responsibilities that it was back in 2011.

The same must be done in the federal government and in state governments across the country. President Trump has already taken the first steps.  In January he imposed a freeze on hiring. And in March he issued an executive order directing agencies to find redundancies and other ways to make cuts.  Looking at the bloated federal bureaucracy, he pointed out, “Today there is duplication and redundancy everywhere.” Consequently, “Billions and billions of dollars are being wasted.”

When the hiring freeze is lifted, as it eventually will be, President Trump should order the relevant departments to fill no more than 2/3 of the vacancies that exist. Without such an order, the career bureaucrats will carry on as before, deeming every position necessary to be filled.

The baby boomers are creating those vacancies by the thousand as they retire. Fortunately, this historic opportunity coincides with a President who is serious about cutting the size of government. If he declines to fill those vacancies and if state governors do the same, we could witness the first substantial reduction in big government in our nation’s history. But it will take political will to make it happen.

It would be a start, but there would still be a long way to go to small government.

One helpful measure would be to deny government employees the right to vote. While they have it, they are all too likely to vote in their own interest – of course – and that means voting for the Party of Big Government.

It is not very likely to happen, even under a Trump administration. But it’s a good conservative idea.

Posted under Economics, government, liberty, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, September 6, 2017

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The conservation of liberty 2

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) yesterday, March 14, 2012, two potential leaders of the Republican Party described their visions of the Party’s future. (Videos of their speeches in full here.)

We quote from a report /opinion column in Time magazine:

The back-to-back pairing of Rubio and Rand was seen as the most significant matchup of the annual conference, pitting two likely 2016 Republican contenders before the party’s conservative base. The result pointed to the growing schism in the Republican Party between resurgent libertarians and more traditional Republicans.

The two men – Paul age 50, Rubio just 41 – laid out divergent visions of an inclusive Republican Party. Rubio called for a focus on economic opportunity and a muscular role overseas. Paul called for a reduction in the size of the U.S. government … [and for] the Republican Party to shift away from neoconservative foreign policy.

Actually, Paul did not “call for the Republican Party to shift away from neoconservative policy”. At least, not on this occasion. “Neoconservative foreign policy” means “the US acting in the world at large, including militarily”. The phrase also implies criticism of President Bush’s foreign policy which some libertarians and the Left believe was unduly influenced by “neoconservatives”. Time’s use of the word may convey, as some libertarians have intended it to convey, a flicker of antisemitism (though Rand Paul would almost certainly deny that he ever intends any such thing).

With almost all of what Rand Paul said we agree:

He warned that the Republican Party is “encumbered by an inconsistent approach to freedom”.

“The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered — I don’t think we need to name any names, do we?” he said, though the target, Sen. John McCain, was clear.

‘The new GOP,” Paul said advocating for … a smaller government …, “will need to embrace liberty in both the economic and the personal sphere. If we’re going to have a Republican Party that can win, liberty needs to be the backbone of the GOP.”

He pledged to introduce a budget in the coming weeks to balance the budget in five years that would also slash the income tax in half, and create a flat tax at 17 percent.

The contrast between the pair couldn’t be more obvious or consequential for the party struggling to remake itself after two straight presidential defeats.

On foreign policy we agree with Marco Rubio. In general we like Rand Paul’s ideas.

An unavoidable question is: could a more libertarian Republican Party still be the party of conservatism?

Roger L. Simon, writing at PJ Media, considers the question.

He starts on a personal note:

Last month my ninth-grade daughter attended a conference for the Junior State of America. Almost none of the high school students, she told me, caucused with the Republicans. A throng went to the libertarians.

He makes the same criticism of libertarians as we do:

I can’t totally identify as a libertarian, since I find some of their more extreme views silly. (Someone does have to pay for the interstate highway system. And Islamic jihadists are quite serious about a world caliphate. Declaring ourselves the purest of free marketers and rolling up the gangplank will not deter them in the slightest. In fact, it will only encourage them.)

All this is the long way around to saying that the problems creating the current dissension [among conservatives] stem in part from the word “conservative” itself. It seems mired in the past — even when it is not. …

Young people particularly (and even some older folks like myself) like to see themselves as oriented toward the future. …

What should conservatives do? Declare themselves to be “classical liberals,” which many are? That seems a bit academic.

Whatever the case, new terminology should and must be found. And whatever it is, it should be forward looking. …

Conservatives and libertarians — whatever they are now called — should market themselves as the party of the future. Respecting the Constitution is important, but something more than that is necessary.

We don’t think the word “conservative” needs to be replaced. Not in America. The United States was founded on the ideal of liberty. It is supremely important that it stays that way. An American conservative is someone who believes in liberty and will act to keep his country and everyone in it free. (A point implied by Marco Rubio in his speech.)

Respecting and defending the Constitution is vital to that end. If more is needed, it is in pruning away dead wood rather than tacking on “something more”.

Conservatives who drag in extraneous ideas – religion and stuffy views on sex, marriage, and drug control – are the element needing to be changed.

It is up to a new generation of Republican conservatives to effect the change.

*

There has been criticism of this year’s CPAC which we think is justified:

This is a condensation (which we quote from our own Facebook page) of an article by Robert Spencer, the indispensable expert on Islam. Read the article itself here for the author’s full explanation of why he is and yet is not a conservative.

I am generally considered to be a conservative. It is a label I have used myself, as a way of distinguishing my position from that of the liberals and Leftists who have generally sold out to the jihad, so blind in their hatred of Western civilization and the United States of America that they eagerly cast their lot with the foremost enemies of both. Nonetheless, for all that, I am not a conservative. Mitt Romney is a conservative. He called for the creation of a Palestinian state and said that “jihadism” has nothing to do with Islam. Grover Norquist is even more of a conservative than Mitt Romney. His conservative bona fides are impeccable as the leader of Americans for Tax Reform, but he also has extensive ties to Islamic supremacists, supporters of Hamas and other terrorist organizations that are sworn enemies of the United States and our ally Israel. So I must not be a conservative. Then what am I? I am an advocate of freedom: of the freedom of speech, of the equal treatment of all people under the law. Consequently, I am a foe of the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, which are enemies of both those principles. I know that there are many others like me, but neither party seems interested in us right now, and neither does the conservative movement, such as it is. It is time for a new movement, a genuine movement of freedom, one that is not compromised, not beholden, and not corrupted. Are there enough free Americans left to mount such a movement? That I do not know. But I do know that if there aren’t, all is lost, and the denouement will come quickly – more quickly than most people expect.

We sympathize with Robert Spencer’s position. We are equally exasperated by Romney’s and (far worse) Norquist’s position vis-a-vis Islam and jihad.

But why should they be allowed to define what conservatism is?

We define it as loyalty to the Constitution; to five core principles; and above all to the ideal of freedom on which the USA was founded.

The five core principles of our conservatism are: individual freedom, small government, low taxes, the free market, strong defense.

Islam is the enemy waging a war of conquest against America. How conservative can Americans be who do not even acknowledge that that is the case?

It’s past time for real conservatives to fight back with passion against its enemies: Islam, and the pro-Islam anti-America Left which managed to get one of its own elected to the presidency.

Pacifism, libertarianism, and the future of the Republican Party 15

Daniel Greenfield – one of the writers we most respect, and on most issues agree with – argues against Rand Paul’s position on drones and the government’s possible threat to lives on American soil. (See our post Death or due process? March 7, two days ago.)

Rand Paul is anti-war, like his libertarian father Ron Paul. His views on America’s conduct of foreign affairs are like his father’s.

It is chiefly on the issues of foreign policy and war that we part company with most libertarians.

So on these issues we are as critical of both father and son as Daniel Greenfield is. But we do not agree with all he says.

There are Conservative sites that are positively giddy about Rand Paul getting positive mentions from John Cusack [Hollywood leftist critic of the use of drones] and [Maoist Communist] Van Jones. [Feminist pacifist] Code Pink’s endorsement is being treated like some kind of victory.

Are we really getting worked up about getting a pat on the head from the left? …

Even saner heads are calling Rand Paul’s filibuster a political victory. The only place that it’s a victory is in the echo chambers of a victory-starved party. And to Code Pink and Van Jones who are happy to see the Republican Party adopting their views.

The “brilliant victory” was that some Republicans tried to go further on the left than Obama on National Defense. Maybe next they can try to go further left than him on Immigration, Gay Marriage and Abortion. 

And if that doesn’t work, Rand Paul and Jon Huntsman can get together on ending the War on Drugs.

On the issues of gay marriage and the war on drugs we too take a libertarian view. We don’t think that what people do in their private lives is the state’s business. (We notice that marriage is a fading institution, and so anticipate that all unions, whether heterosexual or homosexual, will become civil contracts of the same kind – leaving the religions to decide for themselves who may be married by their rites.)

On abortion our position is not conventionally conservative or libertarian. We think it should be rare and early. The law should speak on the matter only to set a time limit.

We cannot be for uncontrolled immigration as long as the host country is a welfare state.

Daniel Greenfield continues on the subject of drones, which, he says, was a smokescreen obscuring Rand Paul’s real cause:

Most Americans support using drones to kill Al Qaeda terrorists. Most Americans don’t know about the filibuster or care. Most Americans want political and economic reforms, not conspiracy theories.

The Paul filibuster was about drone strikes on American soil, the way that Obama ‘only’ wants to ban assault rifles.

This isn’t about using drones to kill Americans on American soil. That’s a fake claim being used by Rand Paul as a wedge issue to dismantle the War on Terror. Now that he’s manipulated conservative support for that, he can begin moving forward with his real agenda.

Rand Paul is on record as opposing Guantanamo Bay and supports releasing the terrorists. He’s on record opposing drone strikes against Al Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan, saying, “A perpetual drone war in Pakistan makes those people more angry and not less angry.”

This position is no different than that of his father. The only difference is that Rand Paul is better at sticking statements like these into the middle of some conservative rhetoric.

To which we say, endorsing Greenfield’s view: the belief, held by the far left and the libertarian movement, that countries hostile to the United States have been provoked to spiteful bellicose fury by American policies and actions, is wrong. It is ill-informed. America is resented for what it is – free, prosperous, successful, and above all powerful – not (unless in particular temporary instances) for anything it has done or is doing. Obama sympathizes with the resentment, and is doing his best to make the country he presides over less free, less prosperous, less successful, and much less powerful.

That the “war on terror” (ridiculous phrase but referring to something real) is not America’s fault, is the point on which we are in entire agreement with Daniel Greenfield. It is al-Qaeda, he says, which has turned the whole world into a battlefield, not America. And he is right.

Here, in the middle of Rand Paul’s drone rant is what he really stands for and against.

“It’s one thing to say yeah, these people are going to probably come and attack us, which to tell you the truth is probably not always true. There are people fighting a civil war in Yemen who probably have no conception of ever coming to America.”

The people fighting that “civil war” are tied in with Al Qaeda, including the Al-Awlaki clan, whose scion, Anwar Al-Awlaki helped organize terrorist attacks against America and was linked to 9/11.

“… We do know the U.S. drones are targeting people who have never pledged to carry out attacks in the United States, so we’re talking about noncombatants who have never pledged to carry out attacks are being attacked overseas. Think about it, if that’s going to be the standard at home, people who have never really truly been involved with combat against us. Take Pakistan where the CIA kills some people without even knowing their identities. … Think about it. If it were your family member and they have been killed and they were innocent or you believe them to be innocent, it’s going to – is it going to make you more or less likely to become involved with attacking the United States?”

This isn’t about stopping Obama from killing Americans. This is straight-line anti-war garbage.

“You know, or how much – if there’s an al-Qaida presence there trying to organize and come and attack us. Maybe there is. But maybe there’s also people who are just fighting their local government. How about Mali? I’m not sure in Mali they’re probably worried more about trying to get the next day’s food than coming over here to attack us.”

And a politician reciting Michael Mooreisms like these is supposed to stand for a “Conservative Victory”?

“I think that’s a good way of putting it, because when you think about it, obviously they’re killing some bad people. This is war. There’s been some short-term good. The question is, does the short-term good outweigh the long term cost, not only just in dollars but the long-term cost of whether or not we’re encouraging a next generation of terrorists?”

Is this the new conservative position now? That killing Al Qaeda terrorists only encourages more terrorism?

Are we all Paultards now? …

“Ultimately we as a country need to figure out how to end war. We’ve had the war in Afghanistan for 12 years now. The war basically has authorized a worldwide war.”

Not just to end the Afghan war (which should have been ended eleven or so years ago), but to end war as such. Absurd. And Rand Paul thinks that if America does not go to war, there will be no (international) wars.  That belief is naive to an extreme.

And Paul’s statement that America’s going to war in Afghanistan “authorized a worldwide war” is totally false. Islam is at war with the rest of the world doctrinally. The attack by al-Qaeda on America on 9/11/2001 was an act of aggressive, not defensive war, and it was in pursuit of religous ends.

We will quote a little more from the Greenfield article, because his argument is about more than Rand Paul’s position on foreign policy, war, and drones; it is about Conservatism and the Republican Party.

This is Rand Paul’s position. It’s the position of anti-war protesters in 2002. It’s Barack Obama’s original position before he discovered that war wasn’t so easy to end.

If you stand with Rand, this is what you stand with.

Everyone can do what they please, but if you’re going to stand with Rand, then let’s be clear about his positions and agenda. And be clear about whether you share them or not.

No more dressing this up in “Rand Paul is standing up for the Constitution.” That’s the same dishonest claim his father made for years. And none of the even more dishonest, “Drone strikes on Americans in cafes” nonsense.

That’s not what this is about.

1. Do you think that the United States is murdering innocent Muslims and inspiring terrorist attacks?

2. Do you think that if we just leave them alone, they’ll leave us alone?

3. If you think all those things, then wasn’t the left, which has been saying all these things since before September 11, right all along?

Is Van Jones agreeing with you… or are you agreeing with Van Jones? …

The Left believes those things because they are on the side of America’s enemies and want them to win. Rand Paul believes them because he knows nothing about the world beyond the borders of his own country and mentalities beyond the limits of his own imagination.  

The lesson that the Republican Party refuses to learn is that you don’t win by abandoning conservative values.

• You don’t win by going liberal on immigration.

• You don’t win by going liberal on government spending.

• You don’t win by going liberal on social values.

• And you don’t win by going liberal on national defense.

You either have a conservative agenda or a mixed bag. And Rand Paul is the most mixed bag of all, because the only area that he is conservative on is limited government.

If the new Republican position is open borders, pro-terror and anti-values, then what makes the Republican Party conservative?

Reducing conservatism to cutting the size of government eliminates it and replaces it with libertarianism. It transforms the Republican Party into the party of drugs, abortion, illegal immigration, terrorism… and spending cuts. And the latter is never going to coexist with a society based on the former. …

If Rand Paul is the future of the Republican Party… then the party has no future.

I don’t believe that we can win through political expediency that destroys principles.

We tried that in two elections and we lost. Watering down what we stand for until we stand for nothing at all except the distant promise of budget cuts is how we walked into the disaster of 2012.

John McCain in 2008. Mitt Romney in 2012. Rand Paul in 2016. And what will be left?

To be reborn, the Republican Party does not need to go to the left. It doesn’t need to stumble briefly to the right on a few issues that it doesn’t really believe in. It needs to be of the right. It needs to be comprehensively conservative in the way that our opposition now is comprehensively of the left.

If we can’t do that then we will lose. America will be over. It’ll be a name that has as much in common with this country, as modern Egypt does with ancient Egypt or as Rome of today does with the Rome of the imperial days.

We agree that “to be reborn, the Republican Party does not need to go to the left.” And we agree that Rand Paul is wrong about foreign policy and the world-wide war.

But we do not agree that libertarianism is a creed of the Left. How can it be? The Left stands essentially for state control and collectivism – viewing human beings sociologically, as units of a herd.

The American conservative Right stands for freedom of the individual above all. The Republican Party stands for freedom of the individual, therefore small government, low taxes and the free market; for property rights, therefore low taxes and the free market; for the protection of freedom, therefore the rule of law and strong defense. That is the logic of freedom. Those are the values of conservatism and the Republican Party. They are our values.

We certainly do not want illegal immigration and terrorism. Nor to “go liberal on government spending”.

But we do think the Republican Party should bend further toward libertarianism. Not leftwards, but rightwards. Individual freedom must mean that individuals make their own choices, even if those choices are harmful to themselves. What they smoke and whom they bed with are obviously matters of personal choice – while government spending, immigration, and terrorism are matters for the state.

There is a new generation of young Republicans who are conservative in their thinking about freedom under the rule of law, but frustrated by stale authoritarian attitudes towards drugs and homosexuality. They are conservative in their loyalty to the Constitution, but impatient with the religiosity of most conservatives.

Some of them are forming themselves into a new caucus. They name themselves the Republican Reason Caucus. Read about them here.

We think they may, and hope they will, restore vitality to the thoroughly demoralized Republican Party.

The Mount Vernon Statement 7

In the following report the names of conservative leaders who will be signing The Mount Vernon Statement today may be found. We have omitted them only to shorten our quotation.

What we also omit are these few words: ‘God, they say, is proudly mentioned – by name – in the Mount Vernon statement.’

We’ve cut them out because God is superfluous

The Framers of the Constitution saw no reason to put God into it, and they did not.

We believe wholeheartedly in the principles which The Mount Vernon Statement declares to be those of American conservatives, while not believing in God.

So plainly, though believers may not like this fact that we boldly and simply demonstrate, belief in a supernatural maker and law-giver is inessential to conservatism.

(In the document itself, God is referred to as ‘nature’s God’;  ie the ‘God’ which Spinoza and Einstein believed in, little more than a euphemism for ‘nature’s laws‘ – also mentioned – with which we have no quarrel.)

From Fox News:

More than 80 of the most influential and respected conservative grassroots leaders in the country plan to recommit themselves Wednesday to constitutional conservatism in an attempt to reunite and reground the movement, following a period when many thought conservatism was adrift.

They have named the document they will sign “The Mount Vernon Statement.” The signing ceremony is taking place at a library that was part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate.

The event comes on the eve of annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) which brings thousand of conservatives from around the country to Washington D.C. every year.

The long term goal at CPAC and of the Mount Vernon statement is reestablish First Principles of Constitutional Conservatism.

The more immediate goal is to galvanize — for maximum strength — the various factions of the movement in advance of the 2010 midterm elections.

The statement draws heavily on the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

It will speak directly to the three pillars of the modern movement: economic conservatives, social conservatives, and national security conservatives.

It will underscore the founding principle that constitutional self-government should be moral, responsible, and limited.

While some republicans have suggested in recent years that the GOP moderate it’s social views, or be more tolerant of government growth, or even accept bellicose tyranny overseas, conservatives argue now is the time for more backbone, not less.

Conservatives, republicans, right leaning independents, libertarians and teapartiers are searching for direction and leadership…listen up… today the leadership of some of the biggest grass roots conservative groups are speaking out. …

Organizers say no elected politicians are invited to this.

The signing ceremony harkens back to a similar event nearly 50 years ago at the home of the late William F Buckley in Sharon, Connecticut.

The Sharon Statement was penned at a meeting of 90 young conservatives as they created a group known as “Young Americans For Freedom.”

Their statement amounted to a guideline for young conservatives in the turbulent 60’s that individual liberty, limited government, a free-market, a strong economy, and strong defense are fundamental American ideals conservatives must defend.

There is no doubt today that conservatives again feel compelled to protect constitutional liberty anew.

This document seeks to be a conservative line in the sand against left-wing political advances during democratic control of Congress and the White House.

The Tea Party movement has shown full well that large swaths of previously disengaged Americans fear for the future of the republic.

Organizers say modern constitutional conservatism requires application of the rule of law to all proposals, advancing freedom, and opposing tyranny….

Conservatives now plan to directly challenge the notion that positive change in America means abandoning old ideas for new.

They assert instead that positive change means reaching back and re-embracing founding principles rather than rushing for new alternatives.

By late summer republican politicians in congress hope to lay out their 2010 election agenda.

Today conservatives grass roots leaders hope their Mount Vernon statement shows Republican politicians what should motivate them.

You can sign the document here.

Hope to reverse the change 0

Because who comes to power in the US and with what policies inevitably affects the rest of the world, we’re posting this article on the Republican Party – whose prospects at present look good for the 2010 elections – without apology to our much valued readers in other countries.

Some ruminations in the dark of the year.

The Democrats are doing badly. It must be good for the GOP. What should the GOP do to take maximum advantage of Obama’s steep fall in popularity and public revulsion against the (misnamed) stimulus and the deplorable health-care legislation?

One opinion is that Republicans will rise without having to do anything: ‘They have Obama’, as Charles Krauthammer said on Bret Baier’s ‘Special Report’ on Fox News, disagreeing with Mort Kondracke’s view that they need to offer positive ideas.

Newt Gingrich opined to Sean Hannity that the GOP needs to be ‘the alternative party, not the opposition party’, and announced that he’ll soon present another ‘contract with America’, the first one having worked well for him and the Party.

So who’s right? Just let the Democrats fail and the GOP will have an easy ride back into power? Or make promises, set out a program, announce policies?

Some say a change of leadership is needed; that Michael Steele is lackluster and bereft of ideas.

That may be the case, but ideas are not what Republicans need. They’ve always had the right ideas and only lack the resolution to stand by them and implement them. A reminder of what they are: small government, individual freedom, strong defense, a free market economy, low taxation, strict constitutionalism, rule of law.

Perhaps the less innovative and exciting the Republican Party looks and sounds, the better.

Am I murmuring into the ear of the GOP, ‘Be passive, be negative’? Yes, I am.

Conservatism is, at its best, the politics of inertia. Change is not good, rarely a necessity. Stability is liberating. People should not have to think much or often about the res publica, but be enabled by the state to go about their business freely, without fear of having to adjust to new circumstances; confident that they, their families and possessions are protected by laws reliably enforced, and distant inconspicuous military might. Conservative rule should ensure such ease for them, keeping itself unobtrusive, so the citizens may expect peace-and-order to be as natural a condition of their lives as the air they breathe.

The only active step that the GOP should energetically take as soon as it’s back in power is to undo the wrong that the Democratic regime has done. Shrink government. Repeal socialist legislation, such as the health-care act if it is passed.

It’s a very hard task. Once an entitlement has been granted it’s almost impossible to take away. Governments of West European welfare states have known for at least three decades that maintaining state pensions is actuarially impossible now that people live longer and have fewer children, but what are they doing about it? Nothing. Helplessly they go on borrowing or printing money, and getting poorer.

It’s too late for Europe to save itself. But here in America, imagine if brilliant new leaders were to arise who had the nerve to say to the people: ‘Stand on your own two feet. Don’t look to government to provide you with anything, not health care, not food stamps, not “affordable housing”, not even education.’ We’d be on the road back to full employment and prosperity. But – nah! These are just figments of fireside dreams.

Jillian Becker   January 8, 2010

Two continents pregnant with Islam 1

David Solway is the author of  a well informed and well reasoned article at Front Page Magazine. We who see ourselves as belonging to the RATIONAL RIGHT  agree with him.

We quote a part of the article. We recommend the whole thing. 

 If the rational Right fails to consolidate its base in the European political landscape, then the European Left will have brought its own eventual demise upon itself in the form of militant, illiberal and xenophobic parties of the extreme Right. It will, in fact, find itself squeezed between the jaws of an ideological vise of its own making, as two competing fascisms, one Islamic and the other indigenous, engage in a battle to the finish. Absenting the rebirth of a hardy and vigorous conservative movement, which does not shrink from instituting stringent immigration policies and enacting rules for the deportation of those who undermine the common peace, the long-term prospect for Europe doesn’t look encouraging. Even a best-case scenario is problematic: it may be too late for a conservative “revolution” to forestall either an Islamic or an ultra-reactionary denouement.

Europeans, says Walter Laqueur in The Last Days of Europe, idling away their future while Islamic political organizations patiently wait, “once the time is ripe, to launch mass violence” and the demographic time bomb is also ticking, are “quietly acquiescing in their own decline.” But, as I have argued, a growing number of Europeans are not, and the means they will adopt to counter the menace, whether successfully or not, will be harsh, coercive and turbulent. For as violence begins to move in from the Muslim enclaves in the banlieu toward the city center, as it were, and the authorities prove themselves increasingly helpless and vacillating before its progress, the reactionary Right will earn more and more legitimacy among the masses. We should make no mistake about this. The Jain-like attitude of the stimming [?]  political classes toward their avowed enemies, resulting in an anemic lack of fortitude that has become chronic, can only energize the factions of the extreme Right. The same applies to the Islamophilic and ever-compliant media, operating in tandem with a complaisant political establishment, whose motto might well be: Have pen, will grovel.

 The problem, however, is not confined to the Continent. It would be sheer folly to assume that we in North America are privileged spectators who are somehow exempt from the savage dialectic that Europe is now experiencing. It is starting to happen here as well. We may have a little more time at our disposal to try and come to terms with the predicament, but we are equally at risk. The gravest peril to America today is not an external enemy but its own developing fault lines. The tectonic plates that undergird the sense of national unity are moving apart. Strictly speaking, our situation is not identical to Europe’s, but close enough to warrant concern. If we are not vigilant and prepared to reconsider our generic assumptions about the culture of indiscriminate inclusion and the politics of spineless appeasement, Europe is our inevitable future.

Speaking at the National Press Club on June 10, 2009, Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center warned that a “perfect storm is brewing for the buildups of these hate groups,” of which the Center lists over 900. Many of the members of these cadres enlist in the army “to learn skills they will later take back to their groups while, in other instances, [they] work to recruit frustrated veterans.” Dees isolates the phenomenon of rampant Latino immigration as “the biggest engine generating increase in hate groups,” though Jew-hatred also figures prominently. But there can be no doubt that galloping Muslim immigration and high fertility rates, as well as the burgeoning influence of radical Islamic organizations, will fuel the rage felt and violence perpetrated by these virulent cells and networks.

There is only one way to defeat the extreme Right as it rises to its own depraved version of the defence of the West, and that is to disarm the common enemy and, by so doing, deprive a nascent fascism of its populist fuel. Which is another way of saying that immigration policies currently in place will need to be rethought and rendered more appropriate to the nation’s requirements, as is the case, for example, inSwitzerland, the sole western European country that attaches a high value to citizenship. And unpleasant as this may sound, we will also have to become less tolerant of the intolerant Other which refuses to recognize our values if we are to avoid the pendulum swing toward a vicious intolerance of all perceived outsiders.

We will, in short, have to embrace the conservative tradition of the moderate Right, based on the liberty of the individual, the duties of responsible citizenship, a coherent pluralism that respects the customs of the majority culture rather than a fractious multiculturalism that corrodes them, and the robust defence of the homeland against the threats, both domestic and external, that mobilize against it.

 Given that we can manage to avoid the Islamic future prophesied by Ottoman thinker Said Nursi who, in his famous Damascus Sermon, predicted that “Europe and America are pregnant with Islam. One day they will give birth to an Islamic state,” there is only one conceivable way out of the corner we are backing ourselves into. By electing moderate Right administrations, we may—just may—slip between the Clashing Rocks of the defeatist Left and the triumphalist Right.

To put it succinctly: assuming that Nursi’s prophecy does not come to pass—and that is a very big if—survival dicates that, as a society, we will have to “go conservative” and abandon the doctrinaire Left if we are not to succumb to the doctrinaire Right.

A Godless constitution 4

Liberty and Tyranny  by  Mark R Levin (Threshold Editions, New York, 2009) is an excellent book; we welcome it; we agree with most of  what Levin has to say.

However, on one point we take issue with him. He writes (pages 33-34):

The question must be asked and answered: Is it possible for the Conservative to be a Secularist?

Of course we firmly answer YES, because that is what we are.

He goes on: 

There are conservatives who self-identify as secularists, whether or not they believe in God or take a religion, and it is not for others to deny them their personal beliefs. However, it must be observed that the Declaration is at opposite with the Secularist. Therefore, the Conservative would be no less challenged than any other to make coherent that which is irreconcilable.

Leaving aside his implication that unless one believes in God one cannot be a true Conservative, let’s examine his conviction that non-belief is ‘irreconcilable’ with approval of the Declaration of  Independence. 

The Declaration refers to God four  times.

1. In the first paragraph it says that ‘the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God‘ entitle a people to a separate and equal station with another people. It would make no difference to the meaning and import of this part of the Declaration if the four words ‘and of Nature’s God ‘ were omitted. 

2. It asserts that ‘all men are created equal, that they are endowed by  their Creator with certain unalienable rights’ etc.   We agree with the ‘rights’ to live, be free, and pursue happiness. The word ‘rights’, however, muddies the waters somewhat as a right has to be granted in law, and if no earthly law can be said to have endowed mankind with these ‘rights’, then the only source imaginable  to keep the sense of the word is some Transcendent Legislator in the sky. At least the authors kept the list of such God-endowed ‘rights’ wisely short. To make a list of all things that should be allowed to men would be an infinite labour to achieve the impossible. Better to list the things men may not do – and keep it as short as necessity allows. Which is why we prefer to say that everyone should be free to (eg) live and pursue happiness. But to come back to the wording of the Declaration, its meaning would be exactly the same if instead of  ‘are endowed by their Creator with’, the authors had used the single word ‘have’.

3. In the final paragraph, the ‘Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do’ etc.  Here the Transcendent Legislator is also the Transcendent Judge of rectitude, but as it is ‘by Authority of the good People of these Colonies’ that independence is being declared, He is not required to say a word and can let His approval be assumed by the authors. Again, if the phrase about God were omitted, the Declaration, its meaning, import, and power would in no way be altered.

4.  In the last sentence, the authors mutually pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to support the Declaration. That is to say, they each guarantee to defend it whatever it takes. They also put in that they rely firmly ‘on the protection of Divine Providence‘. But they are far too sensible to rely on it exclusively. If that phrase , and the word ‘sacred’, were omitted, their pledge would remain just as valid, and their commitment would be no less strong.

So while it may be the case that a Conservative must agree with the values and purpose of the Declaration, Levin’s case is not proved that you can only agree with the Declaration if you believe in a supernatural master of the universe.  

Levin goes on (page 34) to quote George Washington as saying:

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable results … And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.” [Levin’s ellipsis]

It seems that he interprets the last sentence to imply that Washington did NOT think morality could be maintained without religion. To us it seems clear that Washington DID think it possible to be moral without being religious (as we believe we are). To  Washington this was a concession or ‘indulgence’ that he granted ‘with caution’ because (probably) he didn’t want anyone to think he shared that view. But that doesn’t cancel his acknowledgment of the possibility.  

Finally, Levin should be reminded that the Constitution of the United States does not mention God. Not once. And it is the Constitution that a Conservative must stand by. One definition of an American Conservative could be ‘a strict constitutionalist’.  

Posted under Atheism, Commentary, Conservatism, Reviews, United States by Jillian Becker on Sunday, May 24, 2009

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Our Articles of Reason 1

We are re-posting our Articles of Reason – what we’re all about – because we have temporarily lost the permanent link to them on our front page.

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ARTICLES OF REASON

A.    On Atheism

1.   Gods are creatures of the human imagination.

2.   Faith in imaginary beings does not prove their existence.

3.   All laws and moral rules are man-made.

NOTES

1.   An Agnostic may be a believer who is suspending his belief, or an unbeliever who is suspending his unbelief. If the latter, he is an atheist.

‘Seeing no reason to believe is sufficient reason not to believe’ – Karl Popper.

2.   Passionate devotion to a faith does not prove it to be true.

Many a belief can survive persecution but not critical examination.

3.   Justice is a human need and a human responsibility.

Justice may be elusive, but judgment is inescapable.

B.   On Conservatism

1.   Individual freedom is the necessary condition for prosperity, innovation, and adaptation, which together ensure survival.

2.   A culture constituted for individual freedom is superior to all others.

3.   Only the Conservative policies of the post-Enlightenment Western world are formulated to protect individual freedom.

4.   Individual freedom under the rule of non-discriminatory law, a free market economy, the limiting of government power by democratic controls and constitutional checks and balances, and strong national defense are core Conservative policies.

NOTES

Tyrants and socialist bureaucracies cannot know what people want, resist innovation, and cannot change in response to changing conditions.

Liberty and economic equality are incompatible.

The threat of totalitarianism arises when free markets are distorted by government manipulation, when free speech is constrained by rules protecting ideologies, including religions, from criticism, and when equality before the law is undermined by laws coercing economic equality.

When governments pursue ‘social justice’ – or redistribution, to give it its proper name – they rob industrious Peter to give a grant to indolent Paul. This is criminal and immoral.

Posted under Atheism, Conservatism by Jillian Becker on Thursday, May 7, 2009

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Conservatives not conservative enough 0

 Original as always, P.J.O’Rourke excoriates conservatives who failed conservatism. Here’s part of what he writes.  Read it all here.

In how many ways did we fail conservatism? And who can count that high? Take just one example of our unconserved tendency to poke our noses into other people’s business: abortion. Democracy–be it howsoever conservative–is a manifestation of the will of the people. We may argue with the people as a man may argue with his wife, but in the end we must submit to the fact of being married. Get a pro-life friend drunk to the truth-telling stage and ask him what happens if his 14-year-old gets knocked up. What if it’s rape? Some people truly have the courage of their convictions. I don’t know if I’m one of them. I might kill the baby. I will kill the boy.

The real message of the conservative pro-life position is that we’re in favor of living. We consider people–with a few obvious exceptions–to be assets. Liberals consider people to be nuisances. People are always needing more government resources to feed, house, and clothe them and to pick up the trash around their FEMA trailers and to make sure their self-esteem is high enough to join community organizers lobbying for more government resources.

If the citizenry insists that abortion remain legal–and, in a passive and conflicted way, the citizenry seems to be doing so–then give the issue a rest. Meanwhile we can, with the public’s blessing, refuse to spend taxpayers’ money on killing, circumscribe the timing and method of taking a human life, make sure parental consent is obtained when underage girls are involved, and tar and feather teenage boys and run them out of town on a rail. The law cannot be made identical with morality. Scan the list of the Ten Commandments and see how many could be enforced even by Rudy Giuliani.

Our impeachment of President Clinton was another example of placing the wrong political emphasis on personal matters. We impeached Clinton for lying to the government. To our surprise the electorate gave us cold comfort. Lying to the government: It’s called April 15th. And we accused Clinton of lying about sex, which all men spend their lives doing, starting at 15 bragging about things we haven’t done yet, then on to fibbing about things we are doing, and winding up with prevarications about things we no longer can do.

When the Monica Lewinsky news broke, my wife set me straight about the issue. "Here," she said, "is the most powerful man in the world. And everyone hates his wife. What’s the matter with Sharon Stone? Instead, he’s hitting on an emotionally disturbed intern barely out of her teens." But our horn rims were so fogged with detestation of Clinton that we couldn’t see how really detestable he was. If we had stayed our hand in the House of Representatives and treated the brute with shunning or calls for interventions to make him seek help, we might have chased him out of the White House. (Although this probably would have required a U.S. news media from a parallel universe.)

Such things as letting the abortion debate be turned against us and using the gravity of the impeachment process on something that required the fly-swat of pest control were strategic errors. Would that blame could be put on our strategies instead of ourselves. We have lived up to no principle of conservatism.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Thursday, November 13, 2008

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On being an atheist conservative 3

 Here is an article by me, in NeoConstant: Journal of Politics and Foreign Affairs, setting out some of my thoughts as an atheist conservative. 

Extract:

I am a convinced law-and-order conservative, an eagerly practicing capitalist, an ideological libertarian. I accept enthusiastically the whole package of US Republican Party policy and sentiment – pro-America, pro-victory in Iraq, pro-gun, anti-abortion (with sensible reservations), pro-death penalty, pro-tax cuts, pro-smaller government, pro-spreading democracy and freedom throughout the world, pro-Israel, anti-welfare – all except one of its usual ingredients: belief in God. I do not accept God.

Quite simply, I cannot believe in God. I am old, past my three score years and ten, and decade upon decade I have read and listened, and there cannot be much that is old or new, famous, terse, verbose, smart, innocent, insidious, widely published or commonly uttered, learnedly debated or popularly discussed on the subject of God that I have not read or heard. Because religious beliefs have been a hugely important factor in our history and the shaping of our world and time, I have long been deeply interested in how and why religions begin and develop. I have pondered well the better pro-God arguments but have found none that will do. Not one. The very lack of proof of God’s existence is a fair argument for his non-existence if one needs to produce such a thing.

 

 

 

Posted under Articles by Jillian Becker on Saturday, July 19, 2008

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