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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Beatboxing Flautist: Stars & Stripes

Defining Conservatism

I am frequently asked to define conservatism. My first inclination is always to quip, "The business of pointing out the idiocy of liberalism."

I've made a point on this blog of sticking to what I refer to as "Intellectual Conservatism," that is, conservatism which refuses to rely on religious dogma. This is not because I'm an atheist (I'm a Southern Baptist) or because I lack the knowledge to defend Christianity. It's because I have a firm belief that conservatism can and should stand on its own merit, without relying on principles of faith which others may or may not share. I submit that a political philosophy must withstand (if not rely on) the tests of science, logic, legality, reason and history.

That said, I recently had a friend of mine point out that he understood my distinction of Intellectual Conservatism and strict Evangelical/Social Conservatism, but he still wanted a full explanation of what conservatism, as a political philosophy, is. I had explained the "Intellectual" part of the distinction, but not the "Conservative."

And so, I will here attempt to explain my account of conservatism (Evangelicals and Social Conservatives, stick with me! I'm not throwing you under the bus, I promise; we're going to end up at the same conservative station, we're just taking different trains to get there).

The definition of conservatism used in academia too often reduced it to a blind and ignorant adherence to past principles and ideologies. The root of the word - conserve - is used in an attempt to characterize the conservative world view as a stubborn opposition to progress. This is inaccurate.

For my own part, conservatism is a political philosophy which contends that the U.S. government must never violate the Constitution. Within that belief is the staunch conservation of personal liberties and rights from the government.

Conservatives will always favor liberty over forced equality. This is the dichotomous choice of politics. While Americans love to tout liberty and equality, we cannot have both in their fullest extent at the same time. Conservatives have a steadfast faith in the individual and hold firm to the belief that a man has a right to keep what he earns, just as he has a right to reap what he sows.

Conservatism contends that the government need not and ought not be a nanny state. In the words of Barry Goldwater:

"A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away."
Conservatism contends that, perhaps above all else, the individual and community's ability to tend to themselves and, for better or worse, accept responsibility for their own actions is paramount in their own success or failure. As Thomas Jefferson once said:
"That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves."
It is within this personal accountability that conservatives advocate for social and moral standards - not legislated, but assimilated. As the name "conservatism" suggests, conservatives understand that these moral and social standards were not manifested over night. They are the result of thousands of years of cultural evolution and by the principle of natural selection ought to be respected and, if changed, changed gradually and with great care. As Will and Ariel Durant once noted:

"Out of every hundred new ideas ninety-nine or more will probably be inferior to the traditional responses which they propose to replace. No one man, however brilliant or well-informed, can come in one lifetime to such fullness of understanding as to safely judge and dismiss the customs or institutions of his society, for those are the wisdom of generations after centuries of experiment in the laboratory of history."
Conservatism also holds firm to the understanding that peace in our time is fragile and that evil must be confronted when it rears its head. It makes very little sense to have a reactionary foreign policy.

However, conservatism holds true to America's founding principles by suggesting that the United States ought not meddle in the political affairs of other nations (i.e. advocating one candidate over another). That said, conservatives so value the rights and liberties to which they have laid claim that they oppose the violation of such rights abroad. Thomas Jefferson epitomized this position when he said:

"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Essentially, Conservatism stands diametrically opposed to the suggestion that government can do anything positive against the will of it's people because conservatism contends that government 's only role is as an extension of the people's will.

It should also be noted that Edmund Burke, widely considered the "father" of American conservatism, launched a seven year-long prosecution of the former Governor General of India, Warren Hastings, for abuses committed by the East India Company against its Indian subjects. In fact, it was Burke who coined that famous phrase:
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
John Stuart Mill held a similar position as Burke and Jefferson on war and tyranny:
"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
Margaret Thatcher would add:

"Conservatives have excellent credentials to speak about human rights. By our efforts, and with precious little help from self-styled liberals, we were largely responsible for securing liberty for a substantial share of the world's population and defending it for most of the rest."

It cannot accurately be said that conservatism is tantamount to isolationism. This is an inherently false suggestion.

Here are some other attempts to define conservatism with which I generally agree:
"Conservatism aims to maintain in working order the loyalties of the community to perceived truths and also to those truths which in their judgment have earned universal recognition.

Now this leaves room, of course, for deposition, and there is deposition — the Civil War being the most monstrous account. But it also urges a kind of loyalty that breeds a devotion to those ideals sufficient to surmount the current crisis. When the Soviet Union challenged America and our set of loyalties, it did so at gunpoint. It became necessary at a certain point to show them our clenched fist and advise them that we were not going to deal lightly with our primal commitment to preserve those loyalties. That’s the most general definition of conservatism."
-William F. Buckley
"Conservatism is the antithesis of the kind of ideological fanaticism that has brought so much horror and destruction to the world. The common sense and common decency of ordinary men and women, working out their own lives in their own way—this is the heart of American conservatism today. Conservative wisdom and principles are derived from willingness to learn, not just from what is going on now, but from what has happened before. "
- Ronald Reagan
"I define Conservatism, as I believe it is fit, on four categories of principle: Respect for the Constitution, Respect for life, Less government
and Personal responsibility...

Conservatism is not an ideology of feelings - a romanticism as some people like to say. It is an Ideology of protecting the people and the people's rights."
-Jonathan Krohn
It would seem odd that I would include the words of a (then) 13 year-old amongst such Conservative titans, but I find his definition to be the most concise yet encompassing of all - despite his age. I defend conservatism from libertarianism because I believe, as our founding fathers did, that tyranny abroad is not to be ignored. I also believe in societal standards insofar as no constitutional rights are infringed upon. These are beliefs which cannot be reconciled with hard-line libertarianism/classical liberalism/anarchism/individualism.

That said, I understand, as William F. Buckley did, that conservatives and libertarians must work in an alliance against the common enemy of liberalism. Where this common enemy seeks collectivism, socialism and perhaps even communism, we seek individual liberty and personal responsibility. Which brings us back to the dichotomy I pointed out earlier: you either support forced equality or natural liberty and personal responsibility. You needn't support 100% of either, but I think it can safely be said whichever way you lean determines whether you are liberal or conservative.

If you combine this understanding of conservatism with my earlier accounts of "Intellectual Conservatism," you have a political philosophy, framed by empirical knowledge, which aims at personal liberty and responsibility. Whether speaking about domestic or foreign policy, conservatives are devout defenders of liberty. In terms of governance less is more, but when the government is needed, it must always function within its Constitutional limitations.

This is how one defines conservatism - at least as I've come to know it - and it seems to me that these principles have an irrefutable bond with American culture. Perhaps that's why there are more self-identified American conservatives than liberals or independents. Conservatism is inclusive and productive in nature, if only politicians would truly embrace it and leave the chicanery for dead.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Political Cartoon by Mike Shelton

I've been waiting months for an opportunity to post this cartoon in irrefutable conjunction with headline news. The Left's response to Governor Mark Sanford's affair has given me just that. So predictable.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

John Beohner's Brave Attempt to Kill Cap and Tax

I have many conservative and libertarian friends who are very down on the Republican party right now. There are also many liberal publications which make it a habit to suggest that the GOP doesn't have a voice, leadership or direction. I submit that Minority Leader John Boehner showed the entire world exactly what direction the GOP needs to take yesterday during his filibusterer of the cap and tax bill which, despite his efforts, narrowly passed the House with the help of eight republicans.

A Famous Person Has Died

(Click to enlarge)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Obama on Cap and Trade Last Year

In this January 2008 clip, Barack Obama admits that, under his Cap and Trade plan (or Cap and Tax as it's more accurately called) "energy prices would necessarily skyrocket." The most accurate cost estimates put this "skyrocketing" at about $3,900 per year per household. There can be no pretending, this policy will devastate the ailing economy.

What Obama Really Swatted Down

Political Cartoon by Michael Ramirez

Thursday, June 18, 2009

If Obama Were a Surgeon...

Editorial Cartoon by Michael Ramirez

Ezra Taft Benson on Socialism

Boy, those conservatives from the 70s and 80s sure did get themselves worked up over this whole "socialism" thing, huh?

Ezra took a more christian-centric approach to defending conservatism than I do, but his speech here is worth hearing and considering given today's challenges.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Look Who's Laughing

Political Cartoon by Glenn McCoy

I thought this cartoon was particularly poignant given the recent Gallup poll which showed that "conservatives" are the largest ideological group in America - comprising about 40% of the population. "Moderates" make up about 35% of the population, and just 21% of Americans self-identify as "liberal." It's as if the Left has hoodwinked itself into thinking its views are mainstream. As I pointed out just after the election, America is a center-right country. The US was center-right before the presidential election as well, but Obama spent more money than has ever been spent in an election to convince Americans he was also center-right. Americans bought it and, as McCain has been reiterating since Obama took office, elections have consequences.

I keep hoping Obama will stand up in front of America and quote Jim Carrey's scene from the aptly named Liar Liar.
I think we've made a big mistake!
This is just... wrong, isn't it ? I manipulated the system! Just because you bought it doesn't mean I'm right. It's a technicality!
I suppose it's a hope against hope...

At least the polling information confirms what we all knew anyway: liberals don't outnumber the rest of us, they're just louder - which isn't surprising when you consider how big a microphone the MSM gives the Left.

The Letterman jokes, the treatment of Carrie Prejean and the relatively neglectful coverage of the murder of Private Long are just the most recent examples of a plethora of instances where the MSM chose to propagate liberal ideology instead of doing hard, real and appropriate reporting.

The election turmoil in Iran serves as a perfect example of how vital it is to have responsible and accountable news media. Let us hope that America never sees a day where its democracy is subverted by a demagogue who thinks he knows better than the American people.

The majority of Americans oppose redefining marriage, abortion, closing Gitmo, bailing out GM, buying out GM, the "stimulus," meeting enemy leaders without preconditions, increased government spending, increased taxes and universal healthcare. Liberalism has no mandate.The government's job is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and to act in accordance with the will of the American people - nothing more, nothing less.

If, in fact, conservatives outnumber liberals by such a wide margin as the one suggested by the most recent Gallup pole, there is no reason why the tyranny of the liberal MSM and political demagogue(s) cannot be squelched; but it will require the voice and action of the otherwise "silent majority." Conservatives can no longer afford to hold their tongues in the face of a tyrannical minority.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Brunn and the Political Spectrum

Ever since the 88-year-old Von Brunn shot up the holocaust museum, liberals have been contorting themselves to tie conservatism as a whole to Brunn's lunacy, the slaying of late-term abortionist George Tiller and an isolated incident in April where three officers were killed by a gunman using an outlawed assault rifle.

Let's ignore for a moment that, irrespective of which party is in power, violence has always risen during times of economic downturn.

Let's forget the fact that the Pittsburgh shooting happened with a banned firearm - proving once again that firearm bans don't protect the innocent, they uniquely arm the criminals.

We can overlook the fact that the murder of an Army private by a Muslim convert outside of a recruiting station in Arkansas received about 1/10th as much coverage as the Tiller case, even though they happened at about the same time.

We might even go so far as to neglect the MSM's disinterest in the act of arson that burned Governor Palin's church to the ground in December.

While we're at it, we can turn a blind eye to the several instances of hateful violence directed towards Christians by the gay community after California upheld the traditional definition of marriage.

Even if we do all of this, there is not, as the Left MSM claim, a trend which suggests conservative media or conservatism in general are propagating hate. On the contrary, James Von Brunn is reported to have created a target list before entering the Holocaust Museum, and on that list was FOX News and The Weekly Standard. Moreover, it's quite clear from Brunn's own writings that he had nothing in common with American conservative ideology. He hated capitalism, conservatism and Christianity - all of which are necessary tenants of American conservatism.

Yet the Left insists that Brunn's lunacy is the product of some sort of "flaw" in Conservatism. When the Right accurately asserts that Brunn was no "right-winger," the Left falls back on the inane argument that, "He was a Nazi, Nazis are fascists and fascism falls on the 'right' side of the political spectrum."

Let's put aside the fact that "Nazi" is a term that refers to national socialism, and that socialism is a tenant of the Left. To assert that fascism falls on the "right" side of the political spectrum is to falsely suggest that the political "spectrum" isn't a spectrum at all, but a flat line. Fascism no more falls on the Right than libertarianism falls on the Left.

Allow me to provide a visual to simplify things for our liberal comrades:

If you're interested in seeing where you fall within this spectrum, here is a political quick quiz to give you a round-about idea. Here is my quiz result as a matter of perspective:

Von Brunn is no "right-winger," and he is certainly no conservative. He's a hateful and misguided human being, and labeling him as a "right-winger" is nothing more than a cheap and tasteless political ploy to discredit conservatism.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Midweek Headlines 6/10/09

Here are the Midweek Headlines you should know about that aren't really being discussed by most of the MSM:
Those of you who follow me on Twitter can see these headlines just as soon as I find them, just by "following" me!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Obama the Snake Oil Salesman

Editorial Cartoon by Eric Allie

The AP reported this morning (to my great surprise):
The economy has shed 1.6 million jobs since the stimulus measure was signed in February, far overshadowing White House announcements estimating the effort has saved 150,000 jobs...
As Karl Rove explained in his recent article in the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Obama has an ingenious approach to job losses: He describes them as job gains. For example, last week the president claimed that 150,000 jobs had been created or saved because of his stimulus package. He boasted, "And that's just the beginning."

However, at the beginning of January, 134.3 million people were employed. At the start of May, 132.4 million Americans were working. How was Mr. Obama magically able to conjure this loss of 1.9 million jobs into an increase of 150,000 jobs?

As my former White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto points out on his blog, the Labor Department does not and cannot collect data on "jobs saved." So the Obama administration is asking that we accept its "clairvoyant ability to estimate," and the White House press corps has let Mr. Obama's ludicrous claim go virtually unchallenged.
As a result of his failing economic policies, the majority of Americans currently disapprove of Obamanomics and the GOP now leads Democrats by six points on the economy. Conservatives have continuously pointed out that Keynesian economic theory never works, but liberals believed from the bottom of their capricious little hearts that "this time" would be different. As Albert Einstein noted, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Unfortunately for America, we bought "Mr. O's Special Blend of Snake Oil Hope & Changery," and now we're broke and worse off than we were before.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Red Eye Shreds Playboy's Hateful Hate F**k List

In case you're unaware, Playboy Writer Guy Cimbalo recently published a blog post on the Playboy website which advocated and joked about angrily violating a host of Conservative women. The post has since been taken down with little-to-no fanfare or media coverage, once again proving how utterly worthless, biased and full of crap the MSM really is. You can view screenshots of the lewd post on Activist Conservative.

Violation and denigration of women only matters, apparently, when the women being denigrated and violated agree with liberal sensibilities. Of course... who can blame the MSM? They've had their hands so full trying to blame FNC's Bill O'Reilly for the slaying of mass-late term abortionist George Tiller that they simply haven't had the time to adequately report the domestic murder of an Army recruiter by an Islamic Extremist or this Playboy story. I mean, with such "soft" stories like the Obama administration blocking the sale of 6 AH-64D helicopters to Israel but then approving the sale of 12 to Egypt... who can blame the MSM for seeking out the "hard" stories... like the Obama date night?

Boy, isn't this just "the change we need?" Deficit, debt, socialism, partisan media and rape fantasies? I sure do feel better about America! I'm glad this wave of change has swept over us all just in time to save America's reputation before the evil Christians ruined everything with their dastardly morals...

This YouTube clip was brought to my attention on Twitter by @andylevy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Editorial Cartoon found through The Lonely Conservative

Intellectual Conservatism and Gay Marriage

Here is what I consider to be the intellectual conservative dissection of the gay marriage issue:

Supporting the traditional definition of marriage is neither hateful, bigoted nor ignorant. In fact, the majority (57%) of Americans, to include Barack Obama, happen to agree that a "marriage" is defined as the union of one man and one woman. As a bit of perspective for you liberals, Obama only won the 2008 popular vote by 53% - a margin many liberal publications considered to be a "landslide victory." If Obama won by a "landslide" with just 53% of the vote, what does that say about gay marriage?

But let us look at this issue pragmatically. The Left needs to make it appear as though Conservatives are filled with hate for gays - because they'll have an easier time gathering people to their cause if the legality and constitutionality of the matter stays off the table. Liberals know that the best (if not the only) weapon in their arsenal is their ability to appeal to pathos.

If not for liberal academia's persistent efforts to drum up euphemisms to favorably and continually reshape the way issues are debated, liberalism would have been snuffed out decades ago. It's not as if socialism and liberalism haven't been rejected time and again by the American people - they have! It's just that liberals are quite masterful at repackaging the same crap and presenting it in such a way that Americans forget why they rejected it in the first place.

This issue with gay marriage is no different. You will be hard-pressed to find a liberal who is willing to debate you on the substantive legal issues regarding gay marriage. Instead, you'll hear a lot of violin solos about "everyone deserving equal rights." This, my friends, is the current liberal euphemism for gay marriage. Gay marriage advocates have usurped a state-funded benefit as a "right," irrespective of the state's will to recognize it as such, and then continue to call it a "right" in the arguments which follow, even though there is no standing legal precedent which defines marriage as such.

Before I dive into the legal ramifications and precedent of the issue, I want to lay down a disclaimer. I do not use religious context to frame my political debates. I've no doubt that the founding fathers were religious/ faithful men and that they never intended for Christianity to be treated in the ways that it is today.

But as a philosophy major, I learned that faith is not and cannot be a justification for any empirical and universal argument. This is true for either morality or legality. Attributing the source of your reasoning to something the rest of the population may or may not have faith in is not conducive to creating sound social contracts. Saying "these are inalienable rights because god gave them to us," and saying "there are inalienable rights because we gave them to ourselves," for the nonbelieving population, is essentially the same thing. And because the law applies equally to all, its foundation must be equally applicable to all as well.

I am parting from traditional Conservative dogma when I say this (or at least the explanation outlined in Mark Levin's Liberty and Tyranny), but our inalienable rights come from neither our own positivism nor God. In America, our inalienable rights come from the Constitution of the United States. Those rights which are conferred to U.S. citizens are granted irrespective of that person's religious faith, sexual orientation, gender, race, creed, etc.

Can we say that politicians ought to make every decision without an ounce of moral or religious motivation? Certainly not. It's quite clear that our subjective decisions are framed by our personal value systems. However, the intellectual conservative does not believe in legal positivism and has the utmost respect for our Constitution and the founding principles of our forefathers. The law cannot just be whatever we want it to be in a given circumstance. That would lead to anarchy and tyranny. Conversely, the law ought not be so immobile as to find itself incapable of adapting to modern conflicts.

And so the intellectual conservative must balance the legal foundations laid down by our founders, historical context, legal precedent, and the modern-day empirical knowledge of the issues which face us.

Where does this leave the intellectual conservative on gay marriage?

The intellectual conservative doesn't care what people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms. Conservatives have, historically, advocated people's right to do what they want (within the law). The best conservative arguments don't suggest that gays ought to be kept apart, simply that the state is not legally obligated to recognize their union.

There is a huge, insurmountable "rights" gap here that people with a one-dimensional understanding of the gay marriage issue always fail to grasp. Insofar as a "marriage" is a state-recognized and subsidized status, the people of that state have the right to define it.

It is vitally necessary, from a legal perspective, to distinguish between a benefit and a right. The government gives benefits to thousands of groups without also giving them to others. Couples with children, military veterans, the disabled, the elderly, minorities, etc. all get tax-funded benefits because the people who are funding those benefits have consented to it (or at least refused to adequately object).

When looking at the gay marriage issue, one has to ponder... what is this really all about? Gays can already have any relationship they wish, what they're fighting for here is state-recognized status. Why? They can call themselves "married" until they're blue in the face, why do they need to the state to recognize their union? Because with state-recognition comes state benefits. And here we find the crux of the issue for the intellectual conservative - the reason the intellectual conservative wants gay marriage to be decided state-by-state isn't because he has some vehement hatred for gays, but because he believes that a state's citizens should have the autonomy to decide what they will and will not subsidize.

"Marriage," as it currently functions in American society, is a state-recognized status which yields state-subsidized benefits. Therefore, the intellectual conservative correctly asserts that each state must decide for itself whether it will include gay unions within its classification of "marriage."

But let's follow the gay marriage advocate's arguments to their furthest, logical conclusion. Let's say Perez Hilton decides that he thinks state-funded marital benefits ought to be granted to all gay couples too. Suddenly, our government no longer has legal precedent to give a benefit to one person and not another. People with children could no longer get an additional tax cut over those tax payers without children. People without disabilities would then be guaranteed the same federal funding as the disabled. Rich students would be guaranteed the same federal college aid as poor students. Why? Because government-funded benefits would be considered, under legal precedent, as a "right."

What's the result of this? Well, obviously, the most likely result is government bankruptcy. Or, we would end up with outright socialism, where the government takes 100% of everyone's revenue and then divvies it up equally to everyone. Sounds super, eh comrade?

The fact of the matter is that all sorts of demographics get benefits that others don't. Can you imagine a rich, white, Christian male college student protesting that he's not getting the same federally funded "rights" as his poor black peers? He'd be lambasted!

The simple, conservative solution to the gay marriage issue is to completely separate religious "marriage" from state-recognized unions. Then let each state's citizens vote on what they will and will not recognize as a "civil union" to receive tax-funded benefits. Remove government from religious marriage entirely, and redefine all state-recognized unions as "civil unions," because that's what it means to be a "civil union."

Personally, I think a "marriage" is a union between a man and a woman. That's what the word means; that's what it has always meant. Not a man and a man. Not a woman and a woman. Not three men and two women. Not a man an ape and an elephant. Just one man and one woman. That's what the word means, and it would seem the majority of this country agrees with me (for a change...).

If/when I get to vote on gay marriage again (as I did in 2004 for Georgia in concurrence with 76% of the majority vote) I will vote against it because I think there are better ways to spend my tax money, and I support the traditional definition of marriage. But by the same token, an "intellectual conservative" would accept the opposite decision as part of the democratic process if his state decided to accept same sex unions. That said, this is an issue to be decided by the people, not the courts.

The suggestion that all anti-gay marriage people are bigots or hateful is inherently false. Liberals need to get over the assumption that everyone (except them of course) is a bigot. I don't know how it goes over-looked that conservatives are among the most giving, generous and charitable people on the planet. Yes, there are Christians who feel obligated to force their beliefs on others, but hating all Christians because of a select minority is no different than hating all gays for their role in the spread of HIV; it's ignorant.

Liberals want to permanently link all accounts of conservatism to the far religious right because the Left is convinced it discredits the Right's position. To-date, they're right. I rarely, if ever, hear a conservative talk about gay marriage outside of a religious context. As a result, liberals are afforded the opportunity to side-step the legal and logical flaws in their own arguments and speak only to the emotion of the matter. Instead of discussing the usurpation of state-funded marital benefits, liberals now get to talk about how "radical conservatives are forcing their religious beliefs on others." It's a dog and pony show, and it completely side-steps the heart of the matter.

Now, I'd like to address another liberal argument: the claim that "gays are being denied equal protection under the law." If this were the extent of the liberal argument I'd say, in part, they're right. I don't understand the logic behind Don't Ask Don't Tell, and gays are being discriminated against in several other ways which are neither state-funded nor affect anyone else but themselves. The intellectual conservative should rail, as President Reagan did for gay teachers, against this unfair treatment.

But it's important to note the distinction between the "enforcement of a negative" and the "denial of a positive." Preventing a gay couple's children from visiting them in a hospital is the enforcement of a negative. Kicking homosexuals out of the military because of their sexual orientation is the enforcement of a negative. Firing gays because of their sexual orientation (and then denying them equal protection under discrimination laws) is an enforcement of a negative.

But the liberal does not stop at this conclusion, but takes it a step further to claim, "gays are not being provided equal protection under the law... because the state refuses to recognize their unions." The state is in no way obligated to recognize or subsidize their union if the majority of people in that state are not inclined to do so. That's the denial of a positive. These are two dramatically different things. Which brings us to the next liberal talking point.

Gay marriage advocates love to pretend like their cause is akin to women's suffrage and the civil rights movement. The stark difference between those movements and the gay marriage movement is that women and minorities were being denied rights guaranteed them by the Constitution. They were being taxed but denied the right to vote. They were being taxed but denied equal access to the public services which their tax dollars helped subsidize. They were not being treated equally or fairly by the judicial system. All of these are instances were a negative impact was being directly enforced on a discriminatory basis.

By contrast, there are instances where gays are having negatives enforced on them (as I just mentioned). As I said, the intellectual conservative should rail against these discriminations because they fly in the face of the Constitutional promise of equal protection under the law. But the Constitutional promise of equality says nothing of state-funded benefits. These benefits are exactly that, benefits which can be conferred or denied at the will of the people who fund them. The denial of a positive benefit is not the same as the negation of a right.

There is no instance where the enforcement of a negative on the gay community would necessitate forced state-recognition of their unions. Each instance of unequal treatment of the gay community can be addressed without redefining marriage or forced state-recognition. All that is required of the intellectual conservative is that he applies the constitution accurately. And while there are instances where gays might be getting treated unfairly, and even unconstitutionally, each of these instances can be solved through proper enforcement of existing law, marriage need not be redefined.

This of course leads the liberal to the conclusion that the conservative is propagating a "separate but equal" approach. This is not the case. Homosexuals have exactly the same opportunity to marry as heterosexuals... because marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman. Gays aren't being denied their right to marry, and are hence not being treated with "separate but equal" legislation. Rather, it is the LGBT community which has sought to redefine marriage to suit its own desires. Marriage is what it is, and what it has always been. If gays want to have a "marriage," they have as equal an opportunity to do that as anyone else.

Furthermore, to claim that "marriage" is merely a union of two adults in love is a misnomer. If that were the case, every couple that dates would refer to itself as being "married." This is a ludicrous suggestion and, yet again, just another feeble attempt to redefine marriage in a way that suits the gay marriage advocate's desires. Because "marriage" is a state-recognized and subsidized status, the state has the right to define it. Insofar as a state's population does not recognize a homosexual union as being "married," there can be no justification for the claim of "separate but equal" treatment.

Another argument of liberals is that gays are being denied their "right to pursue happiness." "Pursuing happiness" is not a right guaranteed by the constitution - that was the Declaration of Independence, which is not law.

If we followed the logic that everyone is guaranteed a "right" to whatever makes them happy, we would have no means for ever enforcing any law whatsoever. I could decide $1 million dollars makes me happy, rob a bank and say the government has no right to infringe on my "right to happiness." Thankfully, that's not how our government works. People aren't guaranteed everything they want in this country. This is the land of opportunity, not the land of guarantees.

Which brings us to the historical and legal precedent relating to the gay marriage issue.

Liberals will sometimes site section 1 of the 14th amendment as a means for defending their argument:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
I've already explained how the conferral of marital status is not necessary to address the instances where gays are being treated unequally under the law. So, the last sentence of this clause does not apply. But liberals sometimes contend that gay marriage cannot be a state issue because, "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." Yet marriage is not a universal privilege delineated in federal law. On the contrary, The Defense of Marriage act, passed in 1996, explicitly contradicts this assertion. This federal law (No. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419) had its provisions codified at 1 U.S.C. § 7 and 28 U.S.C. § 1738C. This law has two effects:
1. No state (or other political subdivision within the United States) needs to treat a relationship between persons of the same sex as a marriage, even if the relationship is considered a marriage in another state.
2. The federal government may not treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.
This federal law leaves the definition of marriages up to the states, but says that the federal government will not recognize (or consequentially subsidize) gay unions as marriages. Both the federal and the state governments recognize marriages for tax-funded benefits. Therefore, it's within the federal government's authority to say what it will and won't recognize to receive those federally funded benefits. It would be impractical for the Federal government not to define the status to which it is issuing benefits.

The next legal reference a liberal frequently makes is one pertaining to the "Full Faith and Credit Clause," which says:
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.
Advocates argue that this Constitutional clause means that one state is forced to recognize a gay union as "married," should that couple have gotten married in another state which recognized gay unions. However, it would appear that these gay marriage advocates have completely overlooked the second sentence of the clause: "And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof." Meaning, the Defense of Marriage Act, an act of Congress, nullifies the application of the Full Faith and Credit Clause to the gay marriage issue.

The final Constitutional straw for which liberals grasp in their attempts to justify gay marriage is the 9th amendment:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
This clause merely suggests that the people may retain rights, which are not delineated in the Constitution, for themselves through the democratic process. That's why we have state and local governments. I would also reference the 10th amendment on this matter:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Meaning, those powers not explicitly delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved by the state or local governments.

Upon having his Constitutional arguments shot down, the gay marriage advocate will inevitably turn to his "ace in the hole:" Loving v. Virginia. In the concluding paragraph of the court's opinion (issued by Chief Justice Warren in 1967), the Supreme Court of the United States said this:
Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.
Liberals cite that first sentence as a means for justifying their claim that marriage is a right. In all of the precedent ever issued about marriage, this is the only card gay marriage advocates have to play. And here is why they're wrong... first, this ruling does not suggest, in any way, that gay unions fall under the protection of the 14th amendment.

The reason this specific case was protected by the 14th amendment is because an interracial couple was married in D.C. and then had their marriage revoked by the state of Virginia. Virginia sought to actively punish (enforce a negative on) this interracial couple for breaking Virginia law - which banned interracial marriage.

The gay marriage issue is entirely distinct because gay unions aren't trying to avoid negatives through state-recognized status; they're trying to usurp positive benefits. Thus the 14th amendment does not apply. Gay's aren't being jailed simply because of their choice of partner as these interracial couples were. There's a hard and fast distinction here.

As for calling marriage a "basic human right," this has more to do with the context of the time and the definition of the word "marriage" than anything else. Marriage was and is defined as the union between one man to one woman. Nothing in the Loving v. Virginia case would necessitate state-recognized same-sex marriage because it could be argued from Justice Warren's own wording that marriage was invariably seen as a heterosexual union.

Notice that Warren says marriage is "fundamental for our existence and survival" (i.e. procreation, i.e. not gay). Obviously he didn't mean that only procreating men and women can get married; but that he defined marriage as something necessary for human existence certainly implies that he viewed marriage in its traditional context of one man and one woman, ultimately aimed at the procreation of the species. It's clear from the context of the statement that the judge was only speaking in reference to same-sex unions with reference to marriages.

As for this ruling setting "precedent" for the recognition of gay marriage, I'm afraid not.

The July 2006 majority opinion of the New York Court of Appeals in Hernandez v. Robles rejected the reliance on Loving v. Virginia in defense of same-sex marriage, holding that:
The historical background of Loving is different from the history underlying this case. Racism has been recognized for centuries — at first by a few people, and later by many more — as a revolting moral evil. This country fought a civil war to eliminate racism's worst manifestation, slavery, and passed three constitutional amendments to eliminate that curse and its vestiges. Loving was part of the civil rights revolution of the 1950s and 1960s, the triumph of a cause for which many heroes and many ordinary people had struggled since our nation began. It is true that there has been serious injustice in the treatment of homosexuals also, a wrong that has been widely recognized only in the relatively recent past, and one our Legislature tried to address when it enacted the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act four years ago (L 2002, ch 2). But the traditional definition of marriage is not merely a by-product of historical injustice. Its history is of a different kind. The idea that same-sex marriage is even possible is a relatively new one. Until a few decades ago, it was an accepted truth for almost everyone who ever lived, in any society in which marriage existed, that there could be marriages only between participants of different sex. A court should not lightly conclude that everyone who held this belief was irrational, ignorant or bigoted.
The concurring opinion added:
Plaintiffs' reliance on Loving v. Virginia (388 US 1 [1967]) for the proposition that the US Supreme Court has established a fundamental "right to marry the spouse of one's choice" outside the male/female construct is misplaced. In Loving, an interracial couple argued that Virginia's antimiscegenation statute, which precluded "any white person in this State to marry any save a white person, or a person with no other admixture of blood than white and American Indian" (id. at 5 n 4), violated the federal Due Process and Equal Protection clauses. The statute made intermarriage in violation of its terms a felony carrying a potential jail sentence of one to five years. The Lovings—a white man and a black woman—had married in violation of the law and been convicted, prompting them to challenge the validity of the Virginia law. The Supreme Court struck the statute on both equal protection and due process grounds, but the focus of the analysis was on the Equal Protection Clause. Noting that "[t]he clear and central purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment was to eliminate all official state sources of invidious racial discrimination in the States," the Court applied strict scrutiny review to the racial classification, finding "no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification" (id. at 10, 11). It made clear "that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause" (id. at 12). There is no question that the Court viewed this antimiscegenation statute as an affront to the very purpose for the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment—to combat invidious racial discrimination. In its brief due process analysis, the Supreme Court reiterated that marriage is a right "fundamental to our very existence and survival" (id., citing Skinner, 316 US at 541)—a clear reference to the link between marriage and procreation. It reasoned: "To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes . . . is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law" (id.). Although the Court characterized the right to marry as a "choice," it did not articulate the broad "right to marry the spouse of one's choice" suggested by plaintiffs here. Rather, the Court observed that "[t]he Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations" (id. [emphasis added]). Needless to say, a statutory scheme that burdens a fundamental right by making conduct criminal based on the race of the individual who engages in it is inimical to the values embodied in the state and federal Due Process clauses. Far from recognizing a right to marry extending beyond the one woman and one man union, it is evident from the Loving decision that the Supreme Court viewed marriage as fundamental precisely because of its relationship to human procreation.
As for Supreme Court precedent, the United States Supreme Court in 1972 dismissed Baker v. Nelson, which was a case where the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Minnesota law limited marriage to opposite-sex couples, and that this limitation did not violate the United States Constitution. The plaintiffs appealed, and the United States Supreme Court, 409 U.S. 810 (1972), dismissed their appeal outright "for want of substantial federal question".

This ruling (because of its recency and its relevancy) supersedes Loving v. Virginia. The Supreme Court dismissal of Baker v. Nelson serves as primary precedent as a matter of federal constitutional law because of the absence of federal authority regarding same-sex marriage (due to the fledgling nature of the cause).

Hence, the intellectual conservative can safely say that there is no standing legal precedent which suggests gay marriage is a right. As you may or may not be aware, older Supreme Court rulings are superseded by new ones, and so Loving v. Virginia matters not.

Another favorite argument of the left is that "people have a right to enter into contracts of their own volition." That's certainly correct, but any contract requires at least two willing participants. Gays can already live together by whatever means they wish and call themselves by whatever title they desire, what they want now is state-recognized status. This, therefore, is not a contract solely between the two gay people involved, but a contract between them and the state from which they seek recognition, validation and subsidization. What we have with gay marriage is one willing participant (the gay community) insisting that it has a right to a contract with the state. As with any contract, both parties must agree - hence why state-recognized unions must be defined on a state-by-state basis.

At some point, you might even come across a gay marriage advocate who suggests that Christianity has "stolen" the idea of marriage, and that marriage wasn't originally a religious institution.

One reason Christianity frequently creeps its way into this debate is because the book of Genesis defines marriage as the "divinely ordained union between one man and one woman" (Genesis 2:24). Now, the intellectual conservative needn't care how the Bible defines marriage because Biblical text cannot serve as an empirical or legal justification of policy. But what does matter is that marriage has been a religious institution since the Torah (Old Testament) was written - which precedes even Christianity, let alone the civilized process of state-recognized unions.

The Torah dates back to about 500 BC. What "legal" unions the gay-marriage advocate suggests existed before this time period is uncertain. There were very few laws during this time period, let alone sophisticated means for state-recognized statuses and taxation. We could perhaps look to Rome... but even in ancient Rome the Latin word for marriage, "matrimonium," defines the institution's main function from the roman perspective.

Its root, "mater" (mother), carries with it the implication of heterosexual procreation. The idea conventionally shared by Romans regarding the purpose of marriage was that it was a relationship between one man and one woman aimed at producing legitimate children; citizens producing new citizens. Even by Roman standards, gays could not be "married" it was then (as many feel it is now) a contradiction of terms.

And even if we were to use Roman standards, they didn't have state-recognized and supplemented unions like we do. So even if ancient Rome had allowed gays to "marry," it wouldn't be relevant to this debate beyond a superficial level. And for these Roman weddings, the "nuptiae" began with celebration, combining the legal, religious and social features of the two being wed. This, again, shows the inherent link of marriage and religion.

We could go back even further in time to Ancient Greece. Grecian priests did not direct weddings, but a set of religious rituals were followed, after which the couple would live together.

The gay marriage advocate would basically have to go back to Ancient Egypt to defend the claim that unions were distinct from religion. Obviously, humans were procreating long before either formalized marriage, governments or religions were ever conceived.

But I think a good general rule of thumb is: if you have to take your argument back 5,000 years to find a practice which justifies your claims... you're probably wrong. But even if we did reference the ancient Egyptians, all a "marriage" was to them was the signing of a contract between the parties involved. There was no real Egyptian "government" to recognize any such union as legitimate, and there were no tax-funded benefits which could be conferred to such unions. So, the reference would be totally irrelevant.

Liberal attempts to completely detach marriage from its religious history are laughable. Obviously, humans in their monogamous nature, had processes for forming unions which predate religion, government... hell.. even speech. The fact remains, "marriage" has always been a religious institution. What the Ancient Egyptians had was not marriage in the way that marriage exists today or has existed for thousands of years. In actuality, ancient Egyptian unions were more like slavery (where daughters were bartered for like property) than anything else.

This isn't to say that the act of two people being together has always been religiously overseen - but the process of forming an official union between two consenting adults known as "marriage" has always been a religious institution.

So where does all this information leave the intellectual conservative? There are two levels of conclusion to this matter: procedural and personal.

For the intellectually conservative procedural solution to the gay marriage issue, there are several things which must be done and/or realized:
  1. There is no standing legal precedent which defines marriage in such a way that gay couples might claim it as a right.
  2. All state-recognized unions (same or opposite-sex) should be exclusively referred to in legislation as "civil unions."
  3. The government (federal, state or local) should have no association with the religious conferral of marital statuses. Marriages have no business in state affairs, and the state has no business meddling with marriage. Usurping the term "marriage" is like an atheist claiming Christian Baptism as a "right." That's just a false application of the term "right."
  4. The people of each state should have a democratic say in what it is they will recognize (and consequentially subsidize) as a state-recognized union (i.e. civil union). This is not a decision to be made by activist courts.
  5. There are certain unfair and unequal practices in action (like the Don't Ask don't Tell policy) which actively punish gays as individuals solely because of their sexual orientation. Infringement of personal liberty is not something conservatism supports.
On the personal level, the intellectual conservative has far more leeway to let his personal value system come into play. Insofar as the above procedural approach is taken, the conservative can then vote on the gay marriage issue in accordance with his own values.

Do you think recognizing and subsidizing gay unions will benefit your community and state? That's a question no one can answer for you but yourself, but it is a question you have a right to answer. And the consensus of the citizens of your state, not the ruling of an activist judicial body, should be the deciding factor on how your tax money is spent.

It's certainly not the case that you must covet everything which the liberal covets for fear of being seen as a "bigot." I know this seems to be the MSM suggestion, but it simply isn't the case. Maybe you would rather your tax money go to additional school funding, or paying off government deficits. In any case, you're not a bigot simply by virtue of having a preference in how your tax money is spent. And you're not a bigot just because you support the traditional definition of marriage.

Despite the massive megaphone being used by Hollywood, the MSM and liberal academia to tout gay marriage, traditional marriage still has historical context, legal precedent and the majority of Americans on its side. The intellectual conservative can very easily make the case against gay marriage without promoting hate or discrimination. The facts as you've seen them here are rarely presented by conservatives to defend themselves. So it is my hope that you will make use of this information to defend intellectual conservatism from the vicious smears of the Left while also exposing the fundamentally unsound arguments used by gay marriage advocates.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Comparative Spending on National Defense and Healthcare

Obama wants to cut military spending while simultaneously pushing for massively expanded healthcare spending (i.e. universal/ socialized health care). With two ongoing wars, mounting nuclear tensions with North Korea and Iran and increasing unemployment at home, you might think that military spending would be the largest American government expenditure. Certainly, Obama made a point in the election of citing Bush's military spending as a means for broadly discounting "fiscal conservatism." But do you know how our military spending actually compares to our healthcare spending?

Obama Jedi Mind Trick

This is an old video, but I couldn't help but think of it as I hear the Obama administration insist it isn't engaging in socialist activities whilst simultaneously taking primary ownership in GM.

"This is not the socialist you're looking for."

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