Monday, January 30, 2012

When Science is Turned Into Religion It Makes Reasonable Debate Difficult

Evidence that global warming alarmism is one of the biggest (and most expensive) hoaxes in history continues to pour in.

Here is an article that sums up some of the most important developments: "Science Continues to Cast Doubt on Global Warming" by Chriss W. Street. The study shows that it is likely the sun that has caused the earth to warm in the twentieth century rather than Co2.
Nature Journal of Science, ranked as the world’s most cited scientific periodical, has just published the definitive study on Global Warming that proves the dominant controller of temperatures in the Earth’s atmosphere is due to galactic cosmic rays and the sun, rather than by man.
The article he wrote on the study published in Nature can be found here and the Nature study itself can be found here.

An article in the Daily Mail reports that the Met Office (the national British weather service) has admitted that there has been no global warming in the past 15 years:
The supposed ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming is facing an inconvenient challenge after the release of new temperature data showing the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years.

The figures suggest that we could even be heading for a mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames in the 17th Century.

Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.

And here is a good article to keep in mind the next time someone says something like "All the respected scientists agree on global warming being real . . . " In the Wall Street Journal, sixteen leading scientists sign a letter with the message: "No Need to Panic about Global Warming."

The article describes the decision by Dr. Ivor Giaever to resign from the American Physical Society over its stand on global warming:
In September, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, a supporter of President Obama in the last election, publicly resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: "I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: 'The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.' In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?"
Dr. Giaever is right. A scientific theory that is described as "incontrovertible" is no longer scientific; it is ideology or religion or something else, but it is not scientific. The politicized way some "scientists" talk about global warming shows that when they talk about it they do so as individual laymen, not as scientists. If they talked as scientists they would always talk in terms of "to the best of our knowledge right now," or "current evidence suggests" or "our latest theories seem to indicate." Something "incontrovertible" is something beyond the reach of empirical evidence to confirm or disconfirm and therefore not an issue that can be decided by science per se. A clash of religious commitments is not the same as a disagreement over the empirical data and their meaning.

The broader context of this issue is the impact of postmodernism and epistemological relativism in particular on science. Marxist and neo-Marxist thought (eg. Critical Theory) is so strong in contemporary Western universities that the whole truth question is becoming sidelined in favor of analyses of which social group benefits from which theory. The idea is that, since truth per se is unknowable, the important thing about a theory like, say capitalism or sexual orientation or global warming or evolution is not whether the evidence supports it but who benefits from society holding it as true.

It is enough to make me long for the good old days in the 70s when I was taught in Philosophy of Science that Christianity is untrue because empirical evidence was against it. In those days, all you had to do to defend the faith was appeal to the facts; it was not just that, but the facts were to some extent relevant.

I thought it was a challenge then, but today it looks relatively easy! Today, the "facts" make no dent in the mindset that believes that objective truth is nothing but disguised self-interest. And when the facts are as useless as a squirt gun, one realizes how difficult the whole "preaching the Gospel" thing actually is.

It is just a good thing we have the Holy Spirit!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Liberal Catholics Wake Up to Find That Obama Played Them for Fools

In the 2008 election Obama used a collection of both liberal Catholic and Left-wing Evangelicals (the technical terms is "useful idiots") to help him get elected. Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo and Brian McLaren helped fool many Evangelicals into thinking that Obama was a moderate, a centrist, a liberal but not a socialist in order to help get him elected in a center-right country.

Now, however, liberal Catholics who voted for Obama and refused the pleadings of conservatives to recognize Obama as the left-wing ideologue that he is are beginning to realize how foolish they were to fall for the propaganda. They were warned that Obamacare would trample on religious liberty and that it would force insurers to cover abortion. Liberal Catholics scoffed. Now it is clear how sadly mistaken the liberals were.

The Editors of National Review sum up the ruling by the Health and Human Services Department:
"The Supreme Court decided decades ago that access to birth control is a constitutional right. Now, the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services has decided that access to “free” birth control is a right, too. Under new HHS regulations, which the department is authorized to create under Obamacare, insurance plans will be required to cover birth control — including the morning-after pill “ella,” which seems to work as an abortifacient in some cases — with no co-pay. The rule will take effect Aug. 1, 2012, or later.

Of course, insurance companies don’t provide anything for “free.” Any time they cover a new service or eliminate co-pays, they charge higher premiums to make up the lost revenue. So the department is forcing people who do not use birth control to subsidize it, through higher premiums, for people who do."

The issue here is religious liberty. There is to be no conscientious objection: Caesar is telling the Church to go against its moral beliefs and fall into line.

Michael Sean Winters, a liberal Catholic who supported Obamacare is appalled at the heavy-handed betrayal:
One sentence in the statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stands out: “The administration remains fully committed to its partnerships with faith-based organizations, which promote healthy communities and serve the common good.”

What can those words “fully committed” possibly mean? They have punched Sr. Carol Keehan and Fr. Jenkins and many other Catholics who have taken shots for this Administration in the nose. They have jumped over the First Amendment to coerce religious organizations to do something we find morally objectionable. They have given people who loved the Affordable Care Act reason for pause, great pause. They have given the Republicans a huge battering ram with which to beat swing voting Catholics over the head.

I say “they,” but the full responsibility for this decision rests with the President. NCR has learned that the President called Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, this morning to tell him the news. Wouldn’t you have liked to be on an extension to listen in on that conversation. The president looked Dolan in the eye in November and said he would be pleased with his decision. I am guessing that Dolan is not pleased. He is not alone.
Winters followed up this blog with a post in which he declared that Obama had lost his vote forever, here.

Thomas Peters, a conservative Catholic blogger, cannot help saying "We told you so." (Who can blame him?)
Winters is right that this decision is a huge blow to liberal Catholics who have tried to cover for Obama. But Winters is wrong that the President’s decision comes as any sort of surprise. Of course Obama would throw his liberal Catholics supporters under the bus to please his leftist secular supporters. Obama’s wedding with liberal Catholics has always been one of convenience and he just filed the divorce papers. I therefore find it hard to sympathize with liberal Catholics who are shocked by this decision, because I’ve been warning for years that their relationship with Obama was bound to end in heartbreak.
But you know things are getting weird when Father Z has kind words to say about Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles as he does here. Why? Well, Cardinal Mahoney is bitter about Obama's betrayal too:
In probably the most expansive decision on the part of the US Federal government ever, the Department of Health and Human Services has issued an "interim final rule" to require virtually all private health plans to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptives, female sterilization procedures, and related "patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity."

These are listed among "preventive services for women" that all health plans will have to include without co-pays or other cost sharing--even if the insurer, the employer or other plan sponsor, or the woman herself object to such coverage.

This decision from the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] is from the highest level of Federal government, and I cannot imagine that this decision was released without the explicit knowledge and approval of President Barack Obama.

And I cannot imagine a more direct and frontal attack on freedom of conscience than this ruling today. This decision must be fought against with all the energies the Catholic Community can muster.
From what he says in the rest of the blog post, Obama has lost Cardinal Mahoney's vote too and when Obama loses a liberal like Cardinal Mahoney, well it looks like he will be facing a united Catholic hierarchy as an enemy in the Fall election. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a response here.

All I can say to the liberal Catholics is, welcome to the fight against the most anti-Christian president in American history and what took you so long? But, better late than never.

As for the Evangelical Left, I can only wonder what it will take to wake them up.

Friday, January 20, 2012

On Teaching Students to "Think For Themselves"

Here are three questions every university professor must answer:
  1. Should university education be "unbiased"?
  2. Should professors teach students "what to think" or should they teach them "how to think"?
  3. Should a student expect a professor to come to class, lay out a range of conflicting views on a certain topic (eg. economic theories about creating jobs in a recession, whether Aristotle is misogynist, whether the British Empire was a force for good or evil in the world, various views on abortion or euthanasia or war, Milton's view of free speech, or Mill's no harm principle) and then invite the students to choose which one to accept?
I think each of these questions is more difficult to answer than one one might think at first glance.

First, let's take the third question, which asks about what I call the "cafeteria approach to forming one's opinions." Now, I understand that many of my students come to my classes expecting professors to function like the operators of the campus cafeteria. Here are four (or three or five) views on this subject: pick the one you like best.

They think this way for several reasons. For one thing, they have never experienced any form of education that did not avow this as the goal except for the hard sciences, which most of them have not studied at a rigorous level. Even those who understand that the hard sciences do not traffic in personal opinions seem to think that the humanities and social sciences are completely different on this point. So even if they are not relativists about the hard sciences, they usually are about ethics, literature and politics. (This often applies even to students who are committed Christians!)

If there is one lesson most students learn from twelve years of public school it is that they have the personal right to choose - except when they don't. The point is that in matters concerning their own bodies they have the right to be total, postmodern relativists and make up their own morality, but in matters of government, taxes, money, language and politics they must conform to group think. This is what contemporary educational theory is designed to teach and does teach very effectively.

All reality is divided into the realms of the "private" and the "public." They are convinced that it is perfectly fine to hold any view you choose on "private" issues and utterly heinous to depart from group think on "public" issues. On private issues you can have any opinion you like; on public issues you must think like the herd. However, they never get around to thinking about why various issues get assigned to each category. It never seems to intrigue them that sexual behavior used to be private and sexual morality public and now it has been reversed so that sexual behavior is public and sexual morality is private. Why is that? "Dunno, just is" many would say.

Thus, they are essentially confused about the foundations of truth, goodness and beauty. But they think their mixed-up views are sane and logical simply because they derive their opinions from the majority of authority figures in the culture.

When they encounter me, however, they are often quite shocked to realize that I do not think they have the right to choose their own truth in private matters and I actually encourage rebellion against the group think known as "political correctness" on public matters. I'm authoritarian where they have been taught to glorify the romantic rebel against authority and rebellious where they have been taught to be meekly submissive!

Unlike secular, public educational theory, I believe that there is a vast difference between the right to choose for yourself and the right to think for yourself. I believe that everyone has the right to think for himself, but also that, having thought carefully about an issue, one must bow to the objective truth on that issue instead of choosing the view that is most congenial or comfortable to oneself.

It is "pedagogical prostitution" simply to teach what the "customer" wants to hear and it is irresponsible in the extreme to present a range of true, partly true, partly false and false opinions as if they were equal in status. In fact, to teach this way is to teach epistemological relativism in practice no matter what one says in theory.

Does this mean one only teaches the "one, true view" of every issue? No, of course not. It simply means that, even when presenting views one does not hold, one recognizes and admits openly that one is coming from a particular perspective. I notice that this makes some students uncomfortable and, when that happens, the most common response is to accuse me of "bias" as if I wasn't supposed to have any - or more realistically - was not supposed to admit openly that I have any. It is as if the mere assertion that one is unbiased does the trick. But of course it doesn't in actual practice. To avoid accusations of bias, it has to be followed up by a relativistic listing of options and an invitation to the student to choose according to his own, personal, irrational preferences. As soon as it becomes clear you won't do that, the accusation of bias comes back like a shot.

As for the second question, it should be clear by now that it presents a false dilemma because the only way to teach students how to think is to challenge the late modern and false idea that discovering truth is an act of the will - a choice - and advocating the traditional and true idea that discovering truth is an act of submission of the will to reality itself. It is not submission of the will to the professor any more than it is a submission of the will to "political correctness," "leftist media elites" or "the authority figures of pop culture." We teach students to think by getting them to think instead of lazily just choosing. Our goal is to teach them to think, not to merely to let the exercise of the will lazily substitute for rational deliberation. The more they actually think the more they will come to see the poverty and nihilism of just choosing.

As for the first question, it would seem that we have a paradox: the university can only be truly unbiased by being biased. How so? A professor must be biased toward the truth as he honestly and sincerely sees it, but he he must make it clear that his opinion is not the standard of truth in itself. How can this be done?

Most importantly, a professor must, (like the preacher), point away from himself to something that stands higher than any individual opinion and try to get the student to see it for himself. Now, the fact that the student does not, at any given moment, see the truth in the same way is not as important as that the student understands that the truth itself is different from both the professor's opinion and the student's preference. The student must learn that this is so even when the professor's opinion happens to be true, just as much as it is when the professor's opinion happens to be false. Helping students develop a reverence for, and submissive spirit before, the truth is the greatest challenge of pedagogy. It is a delicate high wire act and extremely easy to mess up. For this reason, many professors lack the courage to teach well.

But if the professor seeks to exhibit no bias whatsoever, he must therefore treat truth and falsehood equally and to do this is to be a practicing relativist. And that is an ignoble betrayal of the teaching profession, for which love of wisdom and truth is the highest value.

So there must be academic freedom for both professor and student. Academic freedom for the professor will allow him to dissent from political correctness, majority opinion and cultural values that are false and in conflict with Christian truth. It thus frees the professor to stand for the truth as he sees it. Academic freedom for the student allows him to dissent from the professor's view without losing marks as long as the student has reasonable and fact-based arguments for doing so.

The grey area in adjudicating this delicate balance will arise from a clash of worldviews: the commitment to absolute truth that one hopes the Christian professor professes and the commitment to personal choice as higher than truth on private matters and the necessity of conforming to political correctness on public matters that the student has imbibed from secular education and the contemporary culture at large.

The result is a paradoxical situation: teaching students to think for themselves will necessitate a vigorous defense of truth and a refusal to allow students to say that it doesn't matter what a person chooses to believe because it is a personal choice. Some students will have to be drug through this door kicking and screaming and it won't feel to them like being made more broad-minded. It will feel like being indoctrinated - a curious paradox! But until they realize that the truth is not personal opinion - either their own or their professor's - they have not even learned that they need to think for themselves, let alone how to do so with excellence.

I tell my students that a real university education involves learning to detect, and allow for, biases because biases are everywhere - in the textbooks they read, in blog posts, in their professors, in their peers, in pop culture, in contemporary, public education etc. To expect a professor to be a safe island of objectivity in a seas of bias is unrealistic. I also tell them that open, professed, argued-for, biased beliefs are much less dangerous to them than unacknowledged, denied, presumed, biased beliefs. It is the latter for which they should especially be on the lookout.

When someone tells you that he is just "trying to help you learn to think for yourself," rather than "telling you what to think" your BS antennae should go up and a little red light should start flashing in your mind. For what comes next is likely to be either (1) a bid to get you to accept the idea that truth is a function of your personal choosing (inculcation in moral relativism) or (2) an attempt to persuade you that you have to accept the dicta of the politically correct police because that is what all right-thinking people do (inculcation in secularism).

Life is full of paradoxes.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Is Ron Paul a Conservative?

No, Ron Paul is a libertarian and that is why I utterly despise his political philosophy and regard it as being as great a danger as socialism. Libertarianism is incompatible with conservatism and incompatible with Christianity.

Many people are confused by Ron Paul's clever hijacking of the Republican Party's presidential nomination process to use as a platform for his nefarious ideas, but Ron Paul is no conservative and it is important for every Christian to understand the difference between what he stands for and what true conservatism is all about. I believe that a Biblical Christian must be a conservative of some sort and cannot be a consistent socialist or libertarian without compromising the Faith. But definitions are essential for understanding. But these terms need definition or my statements will be misunderstood.

William D. Gairdner has the best brief explanation of the difference between socialism, conservatism and libertarianism in his book, The Trouble with Canada. . . Still! (Chapter 6) Here is how he explains it.

Think of our society as having three layers. At the top is the State, the governing power. At the bottom are individuals considered as individuals only. In the middle layer are a multitude of intermediate institutions and structures which are collectively called "civil society." These range from the relatively shallow and ephemeral ones such as bowling leagues and gardening societies to the family, which is pre-political, universal and rooted in nature not culture. The Church is also part of civil society and both Church and Family are prior to the State, which is to say that the State can only recognize their integrity and right to exist but has no power to alter, ban or attack them. Historically and logically (and ontologically) the Church and Family precede the State.

Now, we can define our terms. Socialism is a form of statism, which means that socialists believe that society should be governed from the top down by an elite class of scientific planners with the chief goal being equality of outcome so that everyone has roughly the same income no matter how talented or hard-working each one is. This belief is what makes socialism a form of "statism" and all forms of statism are bad including absolute monarchies, communism, fascism and big-government, welfare-state liberalism. The idea that government should be a rational, top-down operation is the essence of the problem and this idea comes out of the Enlightment. All the various forms of statism are variations on a theme; all are oligarchic in nature.

Libertarianism is the exact opposite of statism and statism's sworn enemy. Libertarians focus on the individual and ignore the middle layer of civil society.

Because of the state's monopoly on violence, libertarians have to acknowledge the existence (and grudgingly even the limited legitimacy) of the state. But their ideal is to limit the state as much as possible, keep taxes low and provide individuals with as much liberty as possible. The only justification for the state making and enforcing a law is to protect one person from harming another. But anything that does not harm someone else should be legal. This is why Ron Paul is in favor of legalizing drugs, for example. The argument that weak people will get addicted and be exploited by drug pushers makes cuts no ice with libertarians. Their attitude is a Nietzchean indifference: "Too bad for gullible idiots."

Conservatives are different from both of the above two political philosophies in that conservatives do not have an ideology. Conservatives do not make either individual liberty or equality the first principle from which all political decisions flow, as do libertarians and socialists respectively. Conservatives do not believe in top down or bottom up governance, but instead focus on the preservation and nurturing of civil society. Conservatives believe that manners and customs are important and that law should evolve slowly up from thousands of individual court decisions. Therefore, conservatives support English common law rather than French-style code law.

Conservatives believe that a Hobbsian war of all against all, such as libertarianism would foster, is extremely bad, but they also believe that the statist cure of Nanny Government riding to the rescue at the expense of personal freedom is a cure worse than the disease. (This last point explains why, despite their disagreements, conservatives and libertarians can make a tactical alliance against all forms of statism.)

But conservatives believe that it is Family, Church and other forms of local community that give life meaning rather than individualism or collectivism (two modern ideologies). Conservatives believe that we need a state, but that it is severely limited in what it can accomplish. Most of what the state legitimately does is negative: punishing crime, defending the borders etc. But the postive shaping of virtue and individual lives should not be done by the state, but by civil society, primarily the Family and the Church. The reason for this view is that conservatives believe that morality and the meaning of life is not determined by the State.

Conservatives believe in a transcendent moral order (whether conceptualized as Divine commands, natural law or Tradition) that must be recognized. All religions and even virtuous irreligious people agree on basic morality (what C. S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man terms the Tao.) This means that conservatives accept limits to Utopian efforts to make the world perfect and also limits on personal freedom.

In fact, for conservatives real freedom is not the ability to enact one's whims or satisfy one's appetites at every moment; real freedom is the ability to realize our telos, to achieve our purpose as human beings. Christians believe we have both a natural telos as humans and an ultimate telos consisting of the beatific vision. In other words, we were made by God and for God. But we discover our true nature as human beings not as members of the mass society governed by statist planners or as individuals choosing our own values, but through religion, family and community.

There is one more term whose meaning is very difficult to pin down and which causes a lot of confusion. That term is, of course, "liberalism." What is liberalism?

Classical 19th century liberalism was a political philosophy that emphasized limited government, free markets and individual liberty with a recognition of Christianity as true and as the source of parliamentary democracy, human rights and political liberalism. This political philosophy, which has influenced much of the world through the influence of the British Empire, has been the greatest means of gaining freedom, prosperity and justice for whole societies that the world has ever seen.

The problem is that in the 19th century Europe lost its faith in Jesus Christ, as did a large chunk of the governing elites in the US, Canada and the rest of the West. This loss of faith, known as "secularization," has removed the foundation of political liberalism and has caused political liberalism to decay and rot.

During the 20th century one strand of liberalism decayed into libertarianism. With nothing more solid than the conceptually incoherent utilitarianism of J. S. Mill to sustain it, this kind of liberalism without God glorified "choice" and "the individual" until it could not avoid falling into the Nietzschean glorification of the "will to power." This is the philosophical basis of the "right to choose" slogan of the abortion wars.

In the 20th century another strand of classical liberalism decayed into pseudo-socialism. These liberals lost their grip on a transcendent concept of justice (natural law) and fell into epistemological and ethical relativism. Multiculturalism and socialist attempts at re-distribution of wealth by the state were policy results.

One strand of liberalism made an idol out of "choice" and the other made an idol out of "equality" and then eventually these two strands came together in what we can call "libertarian socialism." This is a political philosophy in which the sexual revolution meets Karl Marx with the result that contraception, pornography, promiscuity, divorce, abortion, homosexuality etc. create the illusion of "freedom" for the individual while the state confiscates an ever-increasing percentage of his income in taxes and creates an endlessly-increasing number of regulations, legal requirements and administrative laws take the place of the morality taught by the Church and inculcated by the Family.

Statists don't believe that "Father knows best" but rather that "Government knows best." And they have the nerve to mock those of us who think a flesh-and-blood father relating personally to his blood relations is dispensable while government bureaucrats performing impersonal social engineering on us is perfectly normal!

Classical liberalism is a good thing. But the word has been corrupted by those who like to hide behind it while acting as libertarian socialists. If Obama is a "liberal" then the word has lost its value. The irony is that the only people who stand today for real liberalism are conservatives.

One last point is important. I believe that a Christian must be a conservative in our historical situation because Christianity has shaped Western civilization in such beneficial and life-giving ways: limited government, parliamentary democracy, free markets, the rule of law, free speech, religious freedom, the public recognition of God, the natural law as the basis of positive law, the common law system and so on. European culture has been shaped by the uniquely Christian doctrine of the division of powers reflected in the separation of church and state. This is not a doctrine of the marginalization or privatization of church as in secularism, but a doctrine that says that both church and state have valid, though different, roles to play is sustaining a liberal democracy.

The key points to recognize are (1) that liberal democracy does not work without Christianity and (2) that Christianity must be mediated to society through civil society. Therefore a secularized liberal democracy will always degenerate into the individualistic chaos of libertarianism or the suffocating bureaucracy of statism. As Yeats put it "The center does not hold."

This is why libertarianism is so bad. Ron Paul may be a Christian; I don't know. But libertarianism is pernicious. It is what you get when you take individual liberty to such an extreme that you eliminate the structures of civil society that make society civilized.

Cross-posted at The Bayview Review.

Newt Exposes the Media's Anti-Catholic Bias

Give Newt Gingrich credit for exposing the anti-Christian bias of the secular media and highlighting the fact that it is the Christian Church that is facing more bias and discrimination than homosexuals are today.

Last night, in answer to a typically loaded question by the moderator, Gingrich said:
"I just want to raise -- since we spent this much time on these issues, I just want to raise the point about the news media bias. You don't hear the opposite question asked. Should the Catholic Church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won't accept gay couples which is exactly what the state has done. Should the Catholic Church be driven out of providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won't give in to bigotry? Should the Catholic Church find itself discriminated against by the Obama administration on key delivering of service because of the bias of the administration? The bigotry question goes both ways. There's a lot more anti-Christian bigotry today than there is concerning the other side. None of it gets covered by the news media."
You can see the video clip of this answer here. The point is that the secular media is not interested literally in "bias" or "discrimination" or "fairness," but rather in advancing the sexual revolution agenda and undermining the foundations of our culture. That is the real problem.

By the way, Mitt Romney had a great line too. He said that when he was Governor of Massachusetts the Supreme Court found that the Constitution required the state to recognize marriage between two people of the same sex. Then he said, "John Adams, the author of the Constitution would undoubtedly be very surprised to hear that!" No doubt.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

An Introduction to Rick Santorum

Here is Rick Santorum's speech in Iowa the other night after the results showed that he had tied Mitt Romney for first place after a miraculous rise in the polls late in the campaign. This speech introduces Rick Santorum to the American public and it is extremely good. In fact, it made me cry. Regardless of all the problems and all the brokenness, America must be a wonderful place if it produces men like this and voters who vote them into public office.

Just three quick comments.

1. He is careful to distinguish himself from libertarianism as much as from socialism, to which I can only say "Amen." This is refreshing and extremely important. Of course it raises questions about how he would hold the Republican coalition of traditional conservatives, Evangelicals, libertarians and national security hawks together if he distances himself from the libertarians. But my impression is that most of Ron Paul's supporters will vote Democratic or Libertarian Party anyway.

2. He has a clear linkage between social issues, especially the family, and economic issues. Jay Cost has more on this intriguing aspect of his position here:

Asked a question about how he would stop members of Congress from insider trading, Santorum began by saying that we shouldn’t need a law to prevent legislators from profiting off of non-public information, because such actions are unethical. But because our representatives don’t act ethically and morally, he said, we’ll have to pass a law to force them to do so. And then we’ll have to hire people to enforce the law. And congressional offices will swell with these new hall monitors. And the entire system of enforcement will cost Americans money.

You see, Santorum said, earnestly, “People say, ‘All we need to care about is cutting taxes and cutting government and everything will be fine.’ But if people don’t live good, decent, moral lives, government is going to get bigger. And that’s why I say families and faith is an important part of the foundation of economic limited government.”

It’s an elegant formulation—marrying values and morality to smaller government—and, superficially at least, it’s quite compelling. Santorum is the only man in the race selling this idea. The audience in Rockingham loved it.

3. Would Rick Santorum be another big government Republican president like the two Bushes? I don't think so. I think his conservatism is serious and real. He just knows how to explain why conservativism is actually compassionate, not when it imitates big-spending liberalism, but when it limits government and respects the "little platoons" of civil society.

And, besides all this, he is hated vociferously by all the right people.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Summer Job Opportunity for Pro-life Students

The Center for Bio-ethical Reform has a terrific-looking summer job opportunity for students interested in making their summer count. See the details here.

This combination of learning and activism looks like a fantastic opportunity for a motivated student who wants to stretch and grow. Spread the word.

Rick Santorum is Civilized and So He Must be Destroyed

Observers of American politics can see how the Left is completely bereft of ideas and arguments by the way they practice the politics of personal destruction as their only method of winning elections. One by one, from Sarah Palin to Rick Perry to Herman Cain to Newt Gingrich, the leftist media and the Democratic machine have attacked every Republican conservative candidate who appears to pose a real threat to Barack Obama. Flimsy accusations and ginned up charges characterize the crude, vicious, gutter-level attacks on conservatives. Rick Perry is not racist, Herman Cain is not stupid and so on. But such accusations are the only reasons leftists can think of to offer as a justification for re-electing Obama with his failed policies and clueless trashing of America's economy.

Now it is Rick Santorum's turn. It isn't because he is a bad person; it is just that his poll numbers make him a threat to win. Peter Wehner has the best commentary on the hate-filled hatchet job launched this week against him. The Left went after him - not for his economic proposals or his foreign policy ideas or his views on the issues of the day - no, they actually went after him for the way in which he and his wife chose to deal with the death of their baby 15 years ago. Yes, the best argument the Left has as to why Rick Santorum should not be president is that he didn't just throw his baby in the dumpster as, apparently, the Left thinks is the right way to do it.

First it was Alan Colmes; now it is Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post, who went on MSNBC to mock Rick Santorum for how he and his wife Karen dealt with the death of their son Gabriel. (A severe prenatal development led to his very early delivery, and Gabriel died two hours after his birth.)

“He’s not a little weird, it’s that he’s really weird,” Robinson said of Santorum. “And some of his positions he’s taken are just so weird, um, that I think that some Republicans are gonna be off-put. Um, not everybody is going to, going to be down, for example, with the story of how he and his wife handled the, the, the stillborn ah, ah, child, ah, um, whose body they took home to, to kind of sleep with it, introduce to the rest of the family. It’s a very weird story.”

You know what is really weird? Political commentators trying to gain some partisan advantage by mocking a family in grief. Now that is kinky. It betrays a basic character deficiency in a person who would stoop that low and it shows a poverty of logic and reason. They apparently have nothing intelligent to say about politics when it comes to conservatives. All they can do is attack the character of one of the most decent men in the race. Sad.

Wehner puts it in perspective:

On these comments I have three observations to make, the first of which is that spending time with a stillborn child (or one who died shortly after birth, as in the Santorum case) is commonly recommended. The matter of taking the child home for a few hours is less common, but they did it so that their other children could also spend a little time with the deceased child, and that is definitely recommended. For example, here’s the official page of the American Pregnancy Association (an association of health-care providers that treat pregnant women) about stillbirth. It recommends that parents spend time with the child, as the Santorums did, and the APA writes:

With the loss of your baby, your family members will also grieve. Your baby is someone’s granddaughter, brother, cousin, nephew or sister. It is important for your family members to spend time with the baby. This will help them come to terms with their loss. If you have other children, it is very important to be honest with them about what has happened by using simple and honest explanations. It is your decision whether you would like the children to see the baby. Ask for a Child Life Specialist at the hospital; these are trained professionals who can help you prepare your children for the heartbreaking news, and prepare them to see the baby if you wish.

This is basically what the Santorum family did. They also had a funeral, which is often done in these kinds of situations. It seems to be enormously helpful to people in a moment of terrible pain. So Robinson, like Colmes, was speaking out of a seemingly bottomless well of ignorance.

Robinson and Colmes are the weird, ignorant hillbillies, not Rick and Karen Santorum. Robinson and Colmes don't deserve to be on TV and in print and most likely would not be there if they didn't have the "politically correct" opinions and weren't willing to serve as the attack dogs of the Left. They are well-paid for what they do; one only wonders how they sleep at night.

Wehner is finished yet, however:

The second point is the casual cruelty of Robinson and those like him. Robinson seems completely comfortable lampooning a man and his wife who had experienced the worst possible nightmare for parents: the death of their child. It is one thing to say you would act differently if you were in the situation faced by Rick and Karen Santorum; it’s quite another to deride them as “crazy” and “very weird,” which is what commentators on the left are increasingly doing, and with particular delight and glee.

We are seeing how ideology and partisan politics can so disfigure people’s minds and hearts that they become vicious in their assaults on those with whom they have political disagreements. I would hope no one I know would, in a thousand years, ridicule parents who were grappling with unfathomable human pain. Even if those parents were liberal. Even if they were running for president and first lady.

This point is well-made. The Left talks about being non-violent but that is just talk. You can see the violence in their speech and the hate in their line of attack. The Left has the blood of millions of innocents on its hands while it calls us "war-mongers." This is hypocrisy on a grand scale.

The third point is it tells you something about the culture in which we live that in some quarters those who routinely champion abortion, even partial-birth abortion, are viewed as enlightened and morally sophisticated while those grieving the loss of their son, whom they took home for a night before burying, are mercilessly mocked.

It certainly does tell us something about our culture when you realize that this sort of animalistic ferocity does work in elections. But Wehner could have gone on to make explicit the point that our culture has been coarsened and vulgarized and hardened morally and emotionally by abortion itself. And that is really what lies behind these attacks.

The Santorum's baby, Gabriel, was born prematurely at an age when many babies are murdered. And so for them to show respect, tenderness and love toward such a child throws into stark relief the heartless cruelty of abortion, which is the sacrament of the religion of the Left - the ritual in which they worship the autonomy of the individual self and the primacy of the will to power. All the Santorums did was act in a normal, civilized manner toward their baby and that was enough to enrage the barbarians who celebrate killing as "necessary" and "their right."

It is worth reflecting on why it is that the Left believes that conservatives must not merely be defeated - they must be utterly and ruthlessly destroyed - and what that fact tells us about the enemy we face in these dark days.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Thoughts on Iowa (For US politics junkies)

Well, Christmas is over, as much as I hate to admit it. Over the past two weeks it has been all family and church around here and not much time for blogging. Surprisingly, the world has managed to keep on going while I was otherwise occupied.

I will get the 2012 New Year's Predictions up soon (and grade myself on my 2011 predictions). Also, I plan to do a series on "The Christian Mind" to be cross-posted at the Bayview Review. And I will continue to comment on the US election right up to November because I believe this coming election is an event of incalculable importance to the future of Western civilization. Overall, however, I'll be blogging less this year because I want to concentrate on writing two books at once between now and summer. It should be a fun half-year!

1. Mitt Romney: I have never thought Mitt Romney would be the nominee right from the beginning. Nothing that has happened so far has convinced me that I'm wrong on that score. If the Republican Party is stupid enough to nominate him it may be the end of the Republican Party. If he repeats McCain's weak and insipid campaign and loses to Obama, there will likely be in response either a total and complete conservative take-over of the Republican Party or the rise of a new, third party, which will quickly replace the Republican Party. At the moment it should worry establishment Republicans immensely that 75% of the Republican voters (even counting the Democrats and liberal Independents who came out to vote for Ron Paul) continue to vote against Romney every chance they get.

2. Ron Paul: The spectacle of an extreme liberal (aka a Libertarian) running for the leadership of a conservative party is bizarre. What next? Sarah Palin challenging Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic nomination? That would not be as weird as Ron Paul trying to pretend to be a Republican. The conservative-libertarian alliance is only tactical and depends entirely on the imminent threat of a common enemy. It is Churchill and Stalin against Hitler. But once Hitler is out of the way, the cold war is on.

3. Rick Perry: It is sad and unfortunate for the United States that Rick Perry entered late, stumbled and never recovered. He only got 10% of the vote for one reason only: people could not envision him holding his own in a debate with Obama. His policies are good, his record is good and his character is good. But he simply was not ready for the heavy debate schedule from September on. It is too bad.

4. Michele Bachmann: In a way, it is sad that she is now out of the race but not because I think she should have won. She was a voice of clarity and she clearly forced Romney to the right on some issues. She stood for continuing the Reagan Revolution and rolling back the new expansion of the welfare state under Obama and that is what the 2012 election will be all about. Her voice will be missed and if her message is sidelined in the interests of "electability" then the US will suffer as a result no matter who wins in 2012.

5. Newt Gingrich: His whining about the unfair negative advertising is in one sense perfectly justified, but in another sense pointless. He would have gotten far worse from Obama, with Obama's billion dollar negative ad machine and his leftist surrogates in the media. Of course it was odious. But it was also inevitable; if it hadn't happened now it would have happened later and it is good for Republican primary voters to see now how Newt reacts while there is still time to choose someone else. The real question is how is the (that is, any) Republican nominee going to stand up against it? Newt has one more chance to show he can fight back effectively against slander and gossip. If he can't deal effectively with Romney, he would be toast against the Chicago machine anyway. Somebody tell Newt that . . . quickly.

6. Rick Santorum: This is a good and decent man who has yet to be attacked by the biased, left-leaning media in the way that Bachmann, Perry, Cain and Gingrich were as each one rose in the polls. The one outcome that the leftist media do not want is for the Republican Party to nominate a true conservative and, especially one who is patriotic and religious, because that would mean too clear and obvious a contrast to Obama. In a contest between a real conservative and Obama, Obama loses decisively and the Republicans take over the Senate as well. And that means the end of Obamacare and the whole leftist agenda. Santorum's rise in the polls came too late for the smear machine to roll into action, so now look for it to fire up and go after him.

7. Jon Huntsman: He was irrelevant in Iowa and is irrelevant in general. He seriously mis-read the mood of the electorate when he tried to run to the left of Romney, who was busy trying to run to the right of real conservatives. Unlike Huntsman, Romney at least is smart enough to understand that in order to win in 2012 one has to at least pretend to be a conservative.

Where does the race go from here? There are many possible scenarios and nobody really knows what will happen. But let me toss out one possible path for a Santorum victory.

Suppose that Santorum manages to come second in New Hampshire, beating Huntsman and Gingrich. He will start to gain money and momentum. Then suppose that Perry and Gingrich both finish behind Santorum in South Carolina. That could leave Santorum as the last conservative standing and facing only the libertarian Paul and the moderate Romney in Florida. In that scenario, Santorum might well pull it out and turn it into a long, drawn-out two man race with Paul as an irrelevant third-place nuisance candidate. Romney might still win that race, but I predict it would be close.