Friday, November 30, 2007

Campaign Finance and Spending Reform

How easily people are taken in by populist appeals that are used to justify government regulation of political speech. It is common to find the following line of argument in an undergraduate research paper. The Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) reports:

Ninety-four percent of the candidates who raised the most hard money won their 2002 general elections. In primary elections, the candidate who raised the most money won 90 percent of the time.
These figures show an almost perfect correlation between money spent and electoral success. PIRG continues to blow the trumpet for drowsy patriots:
The primary problem with money in politics is that large hard money contributions—which only a small fraction of the public can afford to make—unduly influence who is able to run for office and who wins elections in the United States. Without personal wealth, or the ability to raise large sums of money from wealthy contributors, many aspiring candidates are locked out of the process. Those voters who wish to support views that are rejected by wealthy donors are left without an outlet.
They provide 2002 figures from Federal Elections Commission (FEC) campaign finance data:
U.S. elections are predominantly funded by a small number of large contributors. Just 0.22 percent of the U.S. voting age population contributed at least $200 to a 2002 congressional candidate; this narrow donor pool was responsible for 76 percent of all individual candidate contributions. Only 0.09 percent of the population made contributions of at least $1,000 and accounted for 55.5 percent of individual contributions to 2002 congressional candidates.
It is worth noting that 2002 was an off-year election, i.e. there was no presidential contest to draw people to the polls, so turnout might have been at most 40% of registered voters. Notice also that PIRG provides percentages NOT of registered voters, but of voting age population. That presumably includes people who have not registered to vote, non-citizens, convicted criminals, the insane etc. I suspect also that all those clicking Internet small donors have shifted the figures considerably since 2002, but PIRG is characteristically silent on that. Nonetheless, those ancient 2002 figures aren't all that shocking. Given how hard it is to get people actually to vote, it should not surprise us that the percentage of people who contribute money to a political campaign is a relatively small segment of voters.

But it does not follow that elected officials therefore kowtow to that 1%. To get or keep power, they must still solicit the votes of 50% of the voters plus one. To be re-elected, they must please that same majority. If giving lots of money meant that you could control the outcome of an election, George Soros would have bought the 2004 election for Democrat John Kerry. But thankfully substance, i.e. what candidates say with their money, still matters in American politics.

More evidence that political office is sold to the highest bidder. According to, Hillary Clinton has raised over $90 million for her campaign, and spent half of it already. 88% of that has been from individual contributors, or $80 million. Once again, the leading candidate is the one with the most money. Is she in the lead because she is the most promising candidate, or because she has the wealthiest backers?

First, according to the same source, Barak Obama, though he has raised $10 million less Sen. Clinton has, has spent 4 million dollars more, but he is nonetheless 10-20 points down in the polls. But that aside, it seems to escape many people who encounter these arguments that perhaps greater fund raising ability is related to greater popular support in the first place. Can Senator Clinton's front runner status be reduced simply to her bigger bank account, or might there be other factors? If Mike Gravel (he's a candidate) had $90 million, would he be polling far out in first place? No! He would still be trailing because substantively he is not a good candidate. No matter how well and how often he were to get his face and message out before the public eye, the American people would find him unattractive for reasons entirely unrelated to his "war chest" and what he can buy with it. In other words, there is a reason that Hillary Clinton attracts money!

What about campaign spending limits? Buckley v. Valeo (1976) settled that question, overturning a law which attempted to set such limits, but people still find the notion attractive. In the interest of democracy and of removing the unfair advantage that wealth and wealthy backers gives to some candidates over other, let's level the playing field by setting a cap on how much any candidate can spend in campaigning. We could even adjust it for inflation and for the size of a given electorate. But what if I want to run for the U.S. Senate and I only have $1000 in my savings account? Why should others have an advantage over me just because they have more money? Democracy is about speech and equality, not about money. This is a democracy, not a plutocracy! So the spending cap should be $1000. But what about my neighbor who has only $100 and wants to run? You see the absurdity. If I were a credible candidate, people with whom I had credibility would be thrusting me forward with donations. Hence, the dynamic relationship between the support of the people and the financial means to address them for their support.

Of course, the equal right to speak, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution, does not guarantee an equal right to the means of speech. Our republic is not only one of equality, but one of freedom. Indeed, the equality is understood in terms of freedom. "All men are created equal." We are equal in our humanity, in our essence. "And we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights." These are liberties, i.e. various aspects of the security in which to exercise our various (unequal) faculties, as well as to reap and enjoy the fruit of that exercise. Thus, though Rupert Murdoch has greater means to speak that I do, he does not have a greater right to speak. Government control of those means would be tyranny. To limit wealthy political candidates such as Mitt Romney, Michael Bloomberg, Steve Forbes or Ross Perot as to how much they could spend in addressing the nation would leave them politically "tongue-tied." But that freedom of the tongue, and by implication any means it can muster in its support, is precisely what the first amendment protects.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Republican YouTube Debate

In an earlier post, "Will the Republicans YouTube?," I predicted that, "Because this format lends itself too easily to politically awkward situations, and because it draws attention away from the candidates to the clever or shocking videos themselves, I do not expect that the Republicans will follow up with their own version of it." It seems, however, that either CNN learned a lesson from the absurdity of the first YouTube debate among the Democrats, or the Republicans successfully negotiated everything bizarre and disrespectful out of it before consenting.

I found the debate itself revealed a lot about the candidates. The minor candidates were self-consciously minor, except for Ron Paul who seems genuinely unaware that he is minor.

If the winner of this sort of event in the one who came across most consistently and convincingly as a president for our times, then John McCain was the clear winner. Since 2000, I have not trusted him, but last night he commanded my respect. On every question, he was tough, honest and seasoned with experience. Straight talk is what he gave us, and there was no sense at any point that he was posing, i.e. adopting a rehearsed posture. The contrast with the rest of the field was striking. Of course Ron Paul is also genuine, but McCain faced him down as well and put him in his place on the Iraq question. There no shortage of kowtowing on the stage to various video interrogators and invisible constituencies. But McCain was having none of it. Even on the question as to how many guns each candidate has and what what kind, he made it clear that boasting on this point was beneath him. On several occasions, the Arizona Senator spoke quietly and deliberately, but firmly and with "battered authority" to an opponent, and you knew who was the lion in the hall. He did not confront the only other lion, however: the prince of Gotham.

Mitt Romney gave some good conservative answers, but behind them displayed his reflexive big government approach to public affairs. In response to a question from a father and son regarding "black on black" crime, he first suggested strengthening the family (good answer) and then spoke of improving schools, which are not a federal responsibility, and then of putting more police on the streets, which again is none of the federal government's business. In another answer, he said he would sign a bill banning abortion nationwide, but again that is not a federal responsibility. Rudy and Fred got that one right.

Romney also revealed his liberal undergarments when, confronted with the words of a younger Mitt Romney that he looked forward to the day when gays could serve openly and honorably in the military, his line was that because we are at war, this is not the time for that to happen. Oh? Does he foresee a time when there will never be any more war? If we were to realize his beautiful vision during peacetime, we would have those homosexuals openly among the troops in the next war. So his point is that he doesn't want the Republican party to know how liberal he really is just yet.

Huckabee is no better, and perhaps worse. The Arkansas Baptist revealed his own statist instincts, but also a heart that may be too soft to be entrusted with the executive authority. I would feel safer placing the sword of state in the hands of an obviously unredeemed and unrepentant Rudy Giuliani than entrusting it to this jokester who, though he appears to be genuinely concerned to love his neighbor, does not exercise good judgment in how to apply that principle as defender of public peace and security.

As he made a point of mentioning a few times that he is a Baptist minister, it occurred to me that if he is going to take that calling and ordination seriously he should either take a church or comparable ministry or resign his ministerial office. There is no place for a clerical king in America (or anywhere for that matter).

Fred Thompson came a cross as a convincing president, but nothing to make you jump up and cheer. No fire. His negative ad went over like a lead balloon. It was inappropriate for the occasion.

Rudy Giuliani opened poorly by attacking Romney for his alleged "sanctuary mansion." He seemed petty and disingenuous. The mention of the Politico story on his misuse of public funds for his adulterous trysts with Judith Nathan was a nasty foretaste of what was all over the newspapers this morning, and may grow to larger proportions in the months to come. Why do they do these things?

Lastly, let me note that a very scary looking fellow confronted the candidates on whether the believed every word of the Bible to be the word of God, holding up a black leather Bible, presumably King James Version. Those who answered -- Romney, Giuliani and Huckabee -- did a pretty good job, though Romney seemed to choke on the phrase "every word" (my godly little 8 year old girl asked, "Why is that so hard to say?"). But they should have objected to the question itself, even to the manner in which it was asked. (There was similar moment in the Democrat debate. See "The Dignity Issue...and Courage.") There was a menacing tone to it. Do we require this of our nominee, not only that he support Christian moral positions, not only that he profess the Christian faith, not only still that he convince us that he is born again, but even that he believe that every word of the Bible is literally true? And if he asks what exactly that means, he clearly cannot be trusted with public authority. In a country where evangelical Christians are a minority, that is simply delusional. We should thank the Lord of mercy that we have as much influence as we do in one of the two parties, and work prudently and winsomely to secure liberty for godliness and to make the world as good as we can for ourselves and our neighbors.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bad Press for Huckabee

Mike Huckabee appears to be the media darling in the mainline press. That can't be good.

He is getting bad press, however, with new sources that are favored by the Republican party base.

The editors at National Review Online ("Right Questions, Wrong Answers," Nov. 19, 2007) say, essentially: "Stay away from this man!"

What Republicans need is a new domestic policy to address today’s concerns. Unfortunately, what Huckabee offers by way of solutions is a mixture of populism and big-government liberalism; the common theme of his policies is that they are half-baked.

Robert Novak, in "The False Conservative" (Nov. 26, 2007), regards him with horror. "Huckabee is campaigning as a conservative, but he is a high-tax, protectionist, big-government advocate." Novak also has critical words for the evangelicals who are backing this candidate simply because he satisfies the litmus test on abortion and one or two other social issues. I share his concern.
The rise of evangelical Christians as the force that blasted the GOP out of minority status during the last generation always contained an inherent danger if these new Republicans supported one of their own. That has happened now with Huckabee, a former Baptist minister. The danger is a serious contender for the nomination who passes the litmus tests of social conservatives but is far removed from the conservative- libertarian model of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.
There is more to governing wisely than taking the right stand on a few certainly important social issues of great moral consequence. You have to be able to protect the nation from foreign danger. You also have to be able to keep people in prison who belong in prison.

Good News From Iraq

Amir Taheri, in his column today, shares good news from Iraq that goes beyond merely the violence index.

* More than 70 percent of the cells created by al Qaeda in Iraq have been dismantled, with vast amounts of money and arms seized from terrorists and insurgents. The so-called Islamic State in Iraq, set up by al Qaeda in parts of four provinces, has collapsed.

* Iraqis who'd sought temporary refuge in neighboring countries are returning home in large numbers - 1,000 a day returning from Syria alone.

* Thanks to mediation by Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Shiite coalition, the three groups that had withdrawn from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's coalition government are expected to return to the fold.

* The British forces' handover of Basra to Iraqi authorities was completed without a hitch; Iraq's second largest city is rapidly returning to normal.

* Iraq's national currency, the dinar, is trading at its highest level since 1990 against the Iranian rial, the Kuwaiti dinar and the US dollar.

* Iraqi oil production is at its highest since 2002. Oil Minister Hussein Shahrestani recently notified OPEC that Iraq intends to produce its full quota next year.

* There's a rush of applications to set up small and medium businesses. In Baghdad alone, the figure for October was 400, compared to 80 last August.

* The fourth American university in the Arab world, and the first in Iraq, has started work in Suleymanieh, close to the Iranian border.

He also has bad news to share, and he is not short on it. It should not surprise anyone that there is lots of bad news coming out of Iraq. (There is bad news coming out of America, after all.) But on balance, the news is good.

IRAQ today is a hundred times better than what it would have been under Saddam in any imaginable circumstances. Statistics of violence don't begin to measure the efforts of a whole nation to re-emerge from the darkest night in its history. And in that sense, the news from Iraq since April 2003 has always been more good than bad.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Megachurches Found to be a Megabust


Bob Burney reports in Baptist Press that the leaders of the wildly popular seeker sensitive approach to worship, evangelism and church growth -- the so-called church growth movement -- have completed a study and found that their oh-so clever and oh-so contemporary new methods have not been doing precisely what they were thought to be so much better at doing than "traditional" (biblical) churches, i.e. gathering people not just into church, but into the Kingdom of God. Their success in growing local churches into megachurches was shallow enough for a purported lamb to wade in, but nothing more.

It was a "Science vs the Bible" disagreement. "Churches were built by demographic studies, professional strategists, marketing research, meeting "felt needs" and sermons consistent with these techniques." Rigorous and conscientious adherence to God's way, as revealed in the Scriptures, in the face of the temptation to satisfy the interests of those who have no spiritual interest in Christ was scorned as unenlightened. "We were told that preaching was out, relevance was in. Doctrine didn't matter nearly as much as innovation. If it wasn't 'cutting edge' and consumer friendly it was doomed. The mention of sin, salvation and sanctification were taboo and replaced by Starbucks, strategy and sensitivity."

Well, whereas studies showed that you have to give people what they want if you are going to bring them to Christ, now studies are showing that numbers in the door have not translated into saved souls and holy Christians.

Fundamentally, it does not seem that the Willow Creek crowd have learned their lesson. Bill Hybels, the movement's founder, admits that the measures they funded with millions of dollars didn't pay off spiritually, yet he continues to take his bearings from men rather than from God: "Other things that we didn't put that much money into and didn't put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for." Whether it is answering a questionnaire or "crying out," it is the customer who has Mr. Hybels' ear.

Greg Hawkins, the executive pastor of Willow Creek and co-author of the published study, Reveal: What Are You?, also shows that in the end he has learned nothing: "Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he's asking us to transform this planet." Everyone up to this point has been wrong. We are the first to build the church of Christ on a scientific foundation. Hear the arrogance! The bombastic noise of it diverts attentions from the silence concerning God's grace and his mysterious will. Burney observes that, in Hawkins' statement, research still takes precedence over Scripture.

Jesus said, "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8). But it seems that Bill Hybels and these other twenty-first century followers of Charles Finney still think otherwise.

Folks in the equally everything-has-changed-and-we're-the-only-one's doing-it-right "Emerging Church" movement should take humble note of these developments.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Sermon - 1783

George Duffield preached this sermon in Philadelphia on a day of thanksgiving, Thursday, December 11, 1783, called at the close of the War of Independence, for peace and for personal and national liberty. These excerpts are a suitable Thanksgiving Day reflection for any age in which the Constitution of republican liberty continues to govern us.

...For, according to this time shall it be said of these United States, what hath God wrought for them? Great indeed, is the salvation he hath shown! And great the obligations we are under to praise! For, had we failed in our just attempt to secure our invaluable rights, America’s choicest blood had flowed in liberal streams: And her most valuable citizens, throughout the states, had expired by halters and in gibbets. ...But blessed be God, with Israel of old we may take up our song; “blessed be the Lord who gave us not as a prey to their teeth. Blessed be the Lord, the snare is broken, and we are escaped.” We cried unto him in the day of our distress. He heard our intreaties; and hath brought us forth into a large place; and established our rights; and opened before us a glorious prospect. May wisdom be given, to esteem and improve the invaluable blessing.
Here has our God erected a banner of civil and religious liberty:* And prepared an asylum for the poor and oppressed from every part of the earth. Here, if wisdom guide our affairs, shall a happy equality reign; and joyous freedom bless the inhabitants wide and far, from age to age. Here, far removed from the noise and tumult of contending kingdoms and empires; far from the wars of Europe and Asia, and the barbarous African coast; here shall the husbandman enjoy the fruits of his labour; the merchant trade, secure of his gain; the mechanic indulge his inventive genius; and the sons of science pursue their delightful employment, till the light of knowledge pervade yonder, yet uncultivated, western wilds; and form the savage inhabitants into men. ...

And to him be rendered the thanks, and the praise—not unto us; not unto us; but to thy name, O Lord, be the glory. For thine is the power, and the victory, and the greatness. Both success and safety come of thee. And thou reignest over all: And hast wrought all our works, in us, and for us. Praise, therefore, thy God, O America, praise the Lord, ye, his highly favoured United States. Nor let it rest in the fleeting language of the lip; or the formal thanksgiving of a day. But, let every heart glow with gratitude: And every life, by a devout regard to his holy law, proclaim his praise. It is this, our God requires, as that wherein our personal, and national good, and the glory of his great name consist. And without which, all our professions will be but an empty name. It is, that we love the Lord our God, to walk in his ways, and keep his commandments, to observe his statutes and his judgments. That a sacred regard be maintained to righteousness and truth. That we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Deuteronomy 30. 16. Amos. 5. 24. Micah 6. 8). Then shall God delight to dwell amongst us. And these United States shall long remain, a great, a glorious, and an happy people. Which may God, of his infinite mercy, grant. Amen.

*Religious liberty, is a foundation principle in the constitutions of the respective states, distinguishing America from every nation in Europe; and resting religion on its proper basis; as supported by it’s own evidence, and the almighty care of it’s divine author; without the aid of the feeble, angry arm of civil power; which serves only to disgrace the name and religion of Jesus, by violating the rights of conscience.

Taken from Political Sermons of the American Founding Era (1730-1805), Ellis Sandoz, ed. (Liberty Press, 1991); pp.771-788.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Kim Jong Thug and the Monster Regime

Themes for Thanksgiving: The Dear Leader

As you plan out your holiday fun, you should include these videos of the zany, madcap Kim Jong Il.

Super Kim (a funny German mock-video game)
Is Kim Jong...Ill? (from chicksongs at

If only he were the clown that he appears to be. There is a third video that is game show themed, but the sadness is just too close to the surface.

If you want a quick introduction to the bizarre, totalitarian and monstrously cruel world that is Kim's North Korea, read Ian Buruma's "Kimworld: Inside the North Korean Slave State" (New Yorker, August 22, 2005). He reviews Bradley K. Martin's Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty (St. Martin's; $29.95) and Jasper Becker's Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea (Oxford; $28). Becker has the better of the two books, though both are world reading. Buruma finds that Martin "paints a grim picture in exhaustive detail, backed by many first-person accounts. But, though he is no apologist, he is perhaps fair to a fault." He finds both books informative, but Becker is less naive, less prone to be duped by this apparently charming tyrant.

North Korea in the nineteen-nineties was, in Martin's somewhat peculiar choice of phrase, “a nightmare by human-rights standards.” Farmers were not allowed to relieve their hunger by growing their own food and selling it, for, Kim observed, “Telling people to solve the food problems on their own only increases the number of farmers markets and peddlers. In addition, this creates egoism among people, and the basis of the Party's class may come to collapse.” If things were bad in “normal” life, the conditions in the vast North Korean gulag are difficult to imagine. Even here Martin's struggles for “balance” come across as slightly otiose: “While more and more inmates died as a result of malnutrition, the political prison camps continued to be run more as slave-labor and slow death camps than as instant death camps. It may seem a small distinction, but it shows that in this regard at least Kim Jong Il was no Hitler.”
Whether you are a John Birch Society Ron Paul supporter or a Bush hater or something in between, this Thanksgiving, give the Lord the thanks he is due for the good government that we have.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Greatness and Cities

Source: National Geographic

The King's College is nestled in New York City not only because we think we have something to bring to the city, but also because there is much that New York City has to give us. New York is a rich store of civilization and conversation and generally the human concourse on which thoughtful people reflect with great profit. You find these things in many cities, but in New York it is magnified and intensified. I have lived in Toronto, Boston and New York. I have lived in the cornfields of Iowa, the hills of western Pennsylvania and the the charming mill towns of central Massachusetts. It is cities, however, that provide a unique arena for those who are ambitious to expand the mind and exercise the soul.

Wilfred McClay, humanities professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, argues in a recent First Things On the Square column that conservatives should have a natural affinity for cities. ("Why Conservatives Should Care About Cities," November 14, 2007). In short, "the idea of conservatism, far from being anti-urban, has always been inextricably bound up in the history and experience of great cities."

As an aside, he once again pays tribute to the building that houses my college, "the most beautiful tall building in the world, the Empire State, a sight that still catches my breath." In A Student's Guide to U.S. History (ISI Books, 2000), he speaks at greater length on this marvelous fashioning of God's creation glory by the hands of men.

And infinitely more impressive than the elegant eclecticism of Jefferson's Monticello was the astounding tapering design of Manhattan's Empire State Building, a colossus raised up defiantly, against all odds, during the worst depths of the Great Depression, as a beacon of hope and a monument to American ambition. If there is an abiding American yearning to flee to rootless city for the rooted land, there is also an equal and opposite yearning, who finest aspect is captured in the stirring breath-catching sight of that one solitary building, rising with magnificent improbability above the lowlands of Thirty-fourth Street. (p.44)

Friday, November 16, 2007

POL 101 for Gov. Spitzer. Not a Good Grade.

Eliot Spitzer came to Albany in January as the you're-not-gonna-know-what-hit-you reforming governor. This hot shot prosecutor was expected to be a political steamroller, and of course a not-too-distant-future presidential candidate.

But I find that in politics nothing can be taken for granted (except taxes, I suppose).

But the Princeton and Harvard alum has found himself back in school rather than "teaching a few lessons" as we thought he would be. He recently shared this newly acquired insight: “Leadership is not solely about doing what one thinks is right.” You would think that someone would understand politics before he put himself forward as a political leader. (Consider Plato's comment on this in his "city as a ship" image in the Republic, 488a-489a.)

Let's assume that the governor is speaking honestly and that his driving passion is to serve what he believes is the public good. But politics is more than just good intentions. It requires knowledge, judgment and an ability to move people so that they want to follow you. Essentially it requires statesmanship.

Statesmanship is the just, prudent and persuasive exercise of authority.

  • In order for your government to be just, you have to be morally serious, concerned not for yourself but for the public good. You are a principled political leader, not an ambitious pol.

  • In order to be prudent, you have to recognize the natural limits to what can be accomplished through politics generally as well as in one's particular political circumstances. In 1787, you advocate the three-fifths compromise with the hope of defeating slavery down the road, rather than display your political purity and pass up the opportunity for a union of the American states. You must also have experience in order to judge wisely how to maximize justice in any given situation.

  • If you share power with others, you need the ability to persuade them in order to bring them into concert with your just and prudent plans. This persuasive ability--mastery in the art of rhetoric--is also necessary if you wish not only to change things for the people, but also change the people themselves, to make them more inclined to justice and more open to persuasion by just arguments.

This week, in the course of just one day, Gov. Spitzer has had to withdraw his proposal to give driver's licenses to illegal aliens, an idea opposed by 70% of New York state voters, as well as his plan to charge sales tax on purchases make by New Yorkers over the Internet, an obviously unpopular move especially at the start of the Christmas shopping season. These sudden reversals in the face of opposition are not only humiliating, but politically debilitating. Hunter College political science professor Ken Sherrill is quoted as saying, “Spitzer has to understand that other elected officials have a responsibility to represent their constituencies.” When you share power with others, even with people of your own party, who are rightly jealous of their power and responsive to their constituencies, prudence dictates persuasion rather than mere pronouncements.

Sherrill draws our attention to the pitfalls of electing a prosecutor to a political office: “It’s one thing to not get along with people as an attorney general or as an assistant district attorney. But there’s a need for it in the legislative process.”

Thoughts rise to the Giuliani candidacy. We are tempted to support him for his toughness, whether in dealing with al-Qaeda or with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. But will the governing style the worked in New York City translate successfully to Washington DC?

FYI - a Wall Street Journal editorial today offers a very informative summary and reflection on the Spitzer record and style thus far. Here is a sample:
Given Mr. Spitzer's fall in the polls, it's tempting to say New Yorkers have learned something new about the man who said on his inauguration day that, "we must change the ethics of Albany and end the politics of cynicism and division in our state." But the bullying, the arrogance and the focus on destroying anyone who stood his way were on full display when he was Attorney General. Most of the media chose to overlook these qualities, instead extolling his "crusading" style....The only real difference between Mr. Spitzer now and then is that as Governor he is obliged to govern, as opposed to merely bringing charges amid a PR offensive and then settling before having to prove anything in court. His heavy-handed approach to the drivers license plan shows the limits of such behavior in a job where he actually has to persuade people.

Ron Paul - Real Conservative or Stealth Kook?

Ron Paul has been in the peripheral vision of the public eye for many years. But rising popularity in a national campaign brings with it an intensely bright light of critical public scrutiny that takes many candidates by surprise...surprisingly. In other words, one who aspires to high office had better make sure that his political house is presentable before the rude and nosey company shows up and starts poking into drawers, sneaking away DNA samples and inspecting your library.

American Thinker presents a great deal of evidence that Ron Paul is an anti-Semite with sympathies for white-supremism, the Klan, kooky conspiracy theories and everything else that seems to go with this stuff.

As for me, I'm just asking.

In the interest of fairness, here are links to some Ron Paul YouTube stuff:

More potential trouble for Congressman Paul. The New York Sun headline today reads: "U.S. Raids Issuer of Ron Paul Coins." Albeit as someone who is not an economist, I find the arguments offered by people advocating a return to the gold standard to be quite reasonable, though I'm far from taking a side. I also don't see why federal authorities had to raid the Liberty Dollar people and haul off their bullion. But this is just another example of cranky, fringe people associated with this candidate.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hillary Clinton - A Woman of Convenience

Official Portrait of Hillary Rodham Clinton, First Lady of the United States

Rumors are flying back and forth across the internet that Hillary Clinton is a woman.

In fact, she is, but she flip flops on the issue. She is, one might say, a woman of convenience. She is a man in a man's world, but also a woman with all the privileges and immunities thereof, just as she chooses to be. Maureen Dowd calls it her "Don't hit me, I'm a girl" strategy.

As I have just begun the overwhelming task of grading 90 undergraduate papers, I will limit this post to giving you the links to helpful articles, both past and current, on this topic, along with a few teaser quotations.

Maureen Dowd, in "Gift of Gall" (NYT, Nov. 4, 2007), gives us a humorous look at Hillary's reserved right to contradict herself and in general to be "slippery and opportunistic" without having to endure the rudeness of any man confronting her on it.
Women need to rally to support Hillary and send her money because there are men, men like Tim Russert, who have the temerity to ask her questions during a debate. If there are six male rivals on stage and two male moderators and heaven knows how many men manning lights and boom mikes, the one woman should have the right to have it two ways. It’s simple math, really, an estrogen equation.

If she wants to run on her record as first lady while keeping the lid on her first lady record, that’s only fair for the fairer sex. And if she wants to have it both ways on illegal immigrants getting driver’s licenses, then she should, especially if those illegal immigrants are men, or if Lou Dobbs is ranting on the issue, because he’s not only a man, he’s a grumpy, cranky, border-crazed man.

She should certainly be allowed to play the gender card two ways, or even triangulate it. As her campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, said after the debate, she is “one strong woman,” who has dwarfed male rivals and shown she’s tough enough to deal with terrorism and play on the world stage. But she can break, just like a little girl, when male chauvinists are rude enough to catch her red-handed being slippery and opportunistic.
After Rick Lazio invaded Hillary's space at a 2000 senatorial debate in Buffalo, which was almost Hillary's McKinley ending before she even started, Dowd wrote "Her Brute Strength" (NYT, Sept. 17, 2000). "Like Al Gore, Hillary Clinton may not be the warmest candidate, but both do their homework." Dowd observes that Hillary is aware of the need to "be careful to balance her ambition and cold calculation with periodic bouts of victimhood." The BBC observed one such bout. "Rick Lazio...seized an early opportunity to refer to the Monica Lewinsky affair, and accused Mrs Clinton of guilt by association with her husband. When questioned directly about it, she showed a rare glimpse of vulnerability, saying it had been a very painful time for her, and that she still could not look at it from the perspective of history." It was touching, I'm sure.

Dowd puts it succinctly: "Hillary can move up only when she is pushed down." Tim Russert gave her a boost by bringing up the Monica Lewinsky scandal in that 2000 debate. "Mr. Lazio did her the favor of acting sanctimonious, giving her a chance to act sad and vulnerable." Her rise to power has been fueled in no small part by sympathy generated by her husband's infidelity. Dowd cites David Gergen saying that the Clinton relationship, "operates like a see-saw. If he goes down in the relationship, she goes up, and vice versa."

(Incidentally, I recall a liberal female journalist (I think it was Maureen Dowd), writing just after Bill Clinton left office, writing quite candidly on how inhumanly cold Hillary Clinton is, and thus what a horror it would be for her to be president. Perhaps I read it in TIME. Can anyone help with that?)

Peggy Noonan, in "Things are Tough All Over" (OpinionJournal, Nov. 9, 2007) compares Hillary's conveniently played "Don't hit me, I'm a girl" card to the conduct of genuinely great stateswomen (she includes Angela Merkel):

The point is the big ones, the real ones, the Thatchers and Indira Gandhis and Golda Meirs and Angela Merkels, never play the boo-hoo game. They are what they are, but they don't use what they are. They don't hold up their sex as a feint: Why, he's not criticizing me, he's criticizing all women! Let us rise and fight the sexist cur.

She then points out criticism of this maneuver from the feminist left:
When Hillary Clinton suggested that debate criticism of her came under the heading of men bullying a defenseless lass, an interesting thing happened. First Kate Michelman, the former head of NARAL and an Edwards supporter, hit her hard. "When unchallenged, in a comfortable, controlled situation, Sen. Clinton embraces her elevation into the 'boys club.' " But when "legitimate questions" are asked, "she is quick to raise the white flag and look for a change in the rules."
Finally, she compares Thatcher's toughness with Hillary's:
A word on toughness. Mrs. Clinton is certainly tough, to the point of hard. But toughness should have a purpose. In Mrs. Thatcher's case, its purpose was to push through a program she thought would make life better in her country. Mrs. Clinton's toughness seems to have no purpose beyond the personal accrual of power. What will she do with the power? Still unclear. It happens to be unclear in the case of several candidates, but with Mrs. Clinton there is a unique chasm between the ferocity and the purpose of the ferocity. There is something deeply unattractive in this, and it would be equally so if she were a man.
This is the difference between statesmanship and self aggrandizement, between government properly speaking and elective tyranny.

Lastly, let me draw your attention to what Judith Warner wrote this past spring, "The Really Real Hillary" (NYT, March 14, 2007). She argues that Hillary's problem is precisely her inability to do "the woman thing."
Poor Hillary Clinton. Not only does she have to overcome the electability thing, the likability thing and — with some voters at least — the Bill thing. Now she’s got to live up to the whole woman thing — the promise that, as Ellen Malcolm, president and founder of the fund-raising group Emily’s List, recently proclaimed on behalf of all women nationwide, she will be “a president of the United States who is like us.
Hillary doesn't get the women's vote just by being a woman. She has to come across to women as "real." Claire McCaskill did "real" at an Emily's List luncheon.
“I can’t believe I’m here. ... I can’t believe I’m in the room with these giants in our government,” she told the crowd, recalling the “pinch-me moments” she’d experienced upon arrival in Washington. (She also said she wanted to hug every person in the room.)
Warner admires Hillary Clinton, but sees the different natures she has to combine (or feign to combine) if she is going to get elected president.
Hillary’s a real tear-stopper. She has a voice that is metallic and somewhat atonal. She has the sentence structure and cadences of a political science professor. I do not mean these things as insults; she is trying out, after all, for the job of president of the United States, not fairy godmother. Nor, for that matter, your best friend. Hillary’s friends say she is warm and certainly very real. But she clearly isn’t wired to project “realness” on the national stage. And frankly, for political figures, projection is what matters most. It’s the mimicry of authenticity that carries or sinks them. It either rings true — in the case of women, by setting off lots of “just like me ... or my sister ... or my mother ... or my best friend” bells — or it falls flat.
Two who have this ability, whether by nature or by self-nurture, are Nancy Pelosi and Hillary's chief political adviser, her husband.

Pelosi’s got her reality show down pat. She’s an Everymom, the strict taskmaster who will rip the throat out of anyone, including her own kids, who behaves badly. When she swells with pride — as she did the other day, twisting her shoulders in girlish excitement as she discussed Hillary’s run — you get all warm and happy inside. You can picture her shaking a finger in the face of major potentates, filling them with fears they didn’t know lay dormant in their psyches. Her performance of femininity is so far superior to Clinton’s that it’s painful. That doesn’t mean she’s a better woman or more “real”; it’s just that she’s got the schmaltz factor all sewn up. Schmaltz — what my piano teacher, with some desperation, used to urge me to put into my playing — is something that Bill Clinton just oozes. But Hillary doesn’t.
We can see her addressing this issue.

Just as her husband was the first black president, Hillary Clinton may become not only our first woman president, but also our first transgendered president.

(Well that was a lot more than I had hoped to do. Off to class prep and grading.)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dogs Playing Poker: A Friend in Need

For any of my readers who think that I am all about the Good and the True with nothing to say about the Beautiful, let me remind you that I have previously posted on great Art. In fact, my post on "You Been Farming Long?" gets a steady stream of visitors from around the country. Given the interest in this form of folk art, I thought I would provide a post on Cassius Marcellus "Cash" Coolidge (1844-1934) of Antwerp, New York, in upstate. He is the fellow who struck upon the novel idea of painting dogs who are playing cards, the most famous of whose works is "A Friend in Need." He shows dogs of several breeds around a card table playing five card stud. By the early hours of the morning, the two dogs in the foreground have almost all the chips, but the viewer of the painting can see that they have accomplished this by cheating. The cigar smoking bulldog is passing an ace to his friend by his toes.

This is funny because dogs do not have opposable thumbs and so they cannot hold the cards. Nor can they count. You see? Genius. Of course, this is also true of cats, but cats are not funny. Dogs are funny because they are comically ugly. You might say that cows are comically ugly and do not have opposable thumbs (as Gary Larson once astutely observed). Could he have used cows? No. Cows all look the same, whereas dogs come in all shapes and sizes, just as we do, so we can see ourselves in the dogs and laugh without the pain of looking at ourselves too directly.

If you would like to know more about Coolidge, who was a very interesting fellow from an interesting time, see The Dogs Playing Poker website also tells us:

Coolidge first began his career as a professional artist by creating artwork for local cigar companies that used his paintings for "lithographed box covers or inner box lids." ...His break, however, came in 1903 when he signed a contract with the advertising company Brown & Bigelow located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Brown & Bigelow was an advertising company that specialized in "remembrance advertising." This type of advertising consists of a business distributing objects branded with a company name and logo to its loyal customers. ...He eventually painted a total of sixteen different paintings of dogs in various situations for Brown & Bigelow.
If you are feeling a bit snobbish toward this masterpiece, you might be interested to know that two of his other works from 1903, "A Bold Bluff" and "Waterloo: Two," sold for $590,400 at Doyle New York's annual Dogs in Art Auction in 2005 (, February 16, 2005).

Friday, November 9, 2007

Darwinism Poisons A Few Things Too

Note to Christopher Hitchens and friends: Finnish school shooter, Pekka-Eric Auvinen, who killed six students, a school nurse and his school principal on Wednesday before killing himself, shows that Darwinism too can poison a few things.

"I am prepared to fight and die for my cause. I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection," Auvinen said on his YouTube posting.

I'm just keeping the conversation open. Or perhaps we should drop this unprofitable line of reasoning before I have to turn to Herbert Spencer, nineteenth century social Darwinism, Margaret Sanger and (oh, why not?) Adolf Hitler.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

An Atheist Ally of Religion? Sounds Reasonable.

In the recent issue of City Journal (Autumn 2007), Theodore Dalrymple contributes his thoughts on the current “epidemic of rash books” by people whom we are calling neo-atheists, people such as Daniel Dennett, A. C. Grayling, Michel Onfray, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, for whom we here at The King’s College have a special fondness – despite his efforts to discourage our affections – because he was recently our guest.

Dalrymple’s essay, “What the New Atheists Don’t See: To Regret Religion is to Regret Western Civilization,” is a deeply humane and touchingly generous consideration of the controversy. It does not surprise me to find a defense of religious faith that is eloquent and profoundly sensible. It is a refreshing surprise, however, that it comes from a self-described atheist.

While the whole essay is a delight, both intellectually and aesthetically, l will hazard injustice by sharing two of his points. First, he says that even these scribbling neo-atheists find it impossible to avoid the language of teleology. Viewing the world as having purpose appears to be inescapable for us. “I think Dennett’s use of the language of evaluation and purpose is evidence of a deep-seated metaphysical belief (however caused) that Providence exists in the universe, a belief that few people, confronted by the mystery of beauty and of existence itself, escape entirely.” The very weapons we turn against God bear the evidence of his handiwork and proclaim him.

Though these currently popular authors see the Taliban and their atrocities in every religious person, Dalrymple, noting the rarity of religiously motivated cruelty, draws attention to the decency that the eternal perspective engenders in by far most people who genuinely embrace it. After quoting from a meditation by Bishop Joseph Hall (1574-1656) on contentment and self-control, Dalrymple concludes that, “moderation comes more naturally to the man who believes in something not merely higher than himself, but higher than mankind. After all, the greatest enjoyment of the usages of this world, even to excess, might seem rational when the usages of this world are all that there is.” It is at least arguable that unsentimental, atheistic rationalism leads logically to debauchery and ultimately to tyranny.

He drives home this connection between piety and moderation by comparing the genuine fruit of Christian faith with what these grumpy anti-theists have to offer:

“Let us compare Hall’s meditation “Upon the Sight of a Harlot Carted” with Harris’s statement that some people ought perhaps to be killed for their beliefs:

With what noise, and tumult, and zeal of solemn justice, is this sin punished! The streets are not more full of beholders, than clamours. Every one strives to express his detestation of the fact, by some token of revenge: one casts mire, another water, another rotten eggs, upon the miserable offender. Neither, indeed, is she worthy of less: but, in the mean time, no man looks home to himself. It is no uncharity to say, that too many insult in this just punishment, who have deserved more. . . . Public sins have more shame; private may have more guilt. If the world cannot charge me of those, it is enough, that I can charge my soul of worse. Let others rejoice, in these public executions: let me pity the sins of others, and be humbled under the sense of my own.

“Who sounds more charitable, more generous, more just, more profound, more honest, more humane: Sam Harris or Joseph Hall, D.D., late lord bishop of Exeter and of Norwich?”

This article brought to mind my doctoral studies at Boston College (1985-92). The political science department there was a rare gathering of several political theorists and political scientists all of whom were either students of Leo Strauss, students of his best students, or deeply influenced by him. None of them was a Christian, nor even particularly religious (to my knowledge), but they respected the weight of the Christian tradition and the serious alternative that it presents to rationalism, both classical and modern. In other words, they respected the legitimacy of the Jerusalem versus Athens debate, as any seriously reflective person would. Of course, they opted for Athens, but there was nonetheless a fruitful conversation between Catholics, Protestants, Jews, agnostics and atheists. And the world is a better place for it.

Dalrymple is clearly an atheist with whom I could have a conversation, though with this particular atheist I would surely do most of the listening.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Good News: Bill Behaved Himself


As a follow-up to my last post on Bill's Debate Party (follow the links to the two before that), I am pleased to report that the whole thing was an innocent affair, strictly above board, and a respectable time appears to have been had by all. You can watch the video here. There is no sign of Bill even getting a telephone number.

There is a lot of talent in the Clinton campaign. I get emails from Thompson and Obama too, but Hillary makes them look like Student Council campaigns. If only skill at getting power were always matched by wisdom in using power.

Of course, it is all designed to make Hillary appear human, and I must say that in unguarded moments even I am almost convinced. And while I was watching the video (as I encourage you to do), I actually felt warmth for President Bill. I don't mean the warmth of humanity that a person should feel for any fellow human being. Everyone should feel that. I mean, I felt (I stress "felt," not thought or wondered) that it might be a great thing to have a good man like this back in the White House, especially when he spoke so seemingly sincerely about the prospect of government being "back in the solutions business" when Hillary is president. But then Reason returned to the throne and, in counsel with Memory, brought me back to reality.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Attributes of Christian Political Involvement

It’s the presidential election cycle, so evangelicals are in the news again. Which candidate will they support? What price will they exact? Are they even relevant? The New York Times ran a story recently on fissures within the movement (“The Evangelical Crackup”). But anyone who thinks that American Evangelicals are going to dwindle in numbers or retreat into their old fundamentalist cultural withdrawal is deluding himself. Nonetheless, Evangelicals are not primarily a political movement, but a spiritual community. So they are for the most part conscientious and prone to seasons of critical self-assessment. Thus, a growing number of Evangelicals has become uneasy with the spiritual toll that politicking has taken on them personally and on the evangelistic calling for the church. (Consider Blinded By Might: Why the Religious Right Can’t Save America, published in 2000 by Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson).

Immediately after the broad Republican congressional defeat in 2006, David Kuo of the JWalking blog published this reflection on the Evangelical soul searching that continues today (“Putting Faith Before Politics,” New York Times, November 16, 2006):

There has been a radical change in the attitudes of evangelicals — it’s just not one that will automatically be in the Democrats’ favor. You see, evangelicals aren’t re-examining their political priorities nearly as much as they are re-examining their spiritual priorities. That could be bad news for both political parties.

John W. Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, the conservative Christian organization that gained notoriety during the 1990s when it represented Paula Jones in her sexual harassment suit against Bill Clinton, wrote this after the elections: “Modern Christianity, having lost sight of Christ’s teachings, has been co-opted by legalism, materialism and politics. Simply put, it has lost its spirituality.” He went on, “Whereas Christianity was once synonymous with charity, compassion and love for one’s neighbor, today it is more often equated with partisan politics, anti-homosexual rhetoric and affluent mega-churches.”

Mr. Whitehead is hardly alone. Just before the elections, Gordon MacDonald, an evangelical leader, wrote that he was concerned that some evangelical personalities had been seduced and used by the White House. He worried that the movement might “fragment because it is more identified by a political agenda that seems to be failing and less identified by a commitment to Jesus and his kingdom.”
After the 2006 election, conducted an online survey of 2,000 people. Two findings struck me:

  • nearly 60 percent of non-evangelicals have a more negative view of Jesus because of Christian political involvement
  • nearly 40 percent of evangelicals support the idea of a two-year Christian “fast” from intense political activism

A fast from “intense political activism” may be a healthy exercise for some, but abstaining from political engagement in general would be misguided. Christians are called to be good citizens. In a free republic, good citizens are politically engaged. It would also be a sinful neglect of one’s neighbor’s good. How to go about that political engagement Christianly appears to be the question for us at this end of the Bush presidency.

Let me suggest a theological answer. That is, I suggest that Christian political life in this land of liberty take its bearings from the character of God. I have three particular attributes in mind: his wisdom, his sovereignty and his goodness. In order for God to be trustworthy, he must have all these three attributes. If any one of them were missing, we would have no grounds for trusting him. (I'll leave you to think it through.)

Following this pattern, ...
  • If Christians are obedient to the wisdom of God, we will be a godly influence.
  • If Christians are confident in the sovereignty of God, we will be a humble influence.
  • If Christians are confident in the goodness of God, we will be an effective influence.

It is not enough to be culturally conservative. We have to be biblically faithful. But biblical fidelity entails not only godly ends, but also godly means, godly temperament, and sensible efforts to accomplish those ends in a world that is not amenable to, and even resists, godliness.

However wise we have been at selecting our policy positions, we have behaved terribly in the way we have advocated those positions. As a result of our public involvement over the past thirty years, people have come to see Evangelical Christians as self-righteous, unloving seekers after an earthly kingdom. “Humble” is neither the first nor the last word that comes to mind for most impartial observers. Unlike the non-Christians who share our political positions on matters of justice and morality but who are strangers to Christ, we should be oddly winsome. Though faithful to the truth, we should demonstrate a personal concern for our opponent’s well being. Public debate should be a form of love for neighbor, and evidently so.

As to effectiveness, Jesus calls us to be as wise (Gk, phronimos - prudent, provident) as serpents, but as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). God wants more than good intentions. He wants us to do good. He wants not only veracity, but also charity, and the best charity actually gets things done.

Looking to the next election, the one still ahead of us, Kuo offered these last words:

We will have to wait until 2008 to see just how deep this evangelical spiritual re-examination goes, and how seductive politics will continue to be to committed Christians. Meanwhile, evangelicals aren’t flocking to the Democratic Party. If anything, they are becoming more truly conservative in their recognition of the negative spiritual consequences of political obsession and of the limitations of government power.

Evangelicals should see that we live in tension between two poles. It is wrong for Christians to act franticly in the political arena the way our political opponents do who are without God and without hope in this world, and to grieve the way they do when we lose. It would also be wrong for us to retreat from our responsibility to exercise godly influence in that legitimate and noble sphere of life. Though there are limits to what can be accomplished through politics, there is also an obligation to accomplish what we can, and to do so in the confidence that God does not depend upon our efforts, but does all things well according to his at times surprising and even puzzling will.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Fred, Huck and Rudy Part IV

I'm reading more and more social conservatives who are coming out for Rudy. They are are seeing that there is no righteous evangelical statesman rising from the lower ranks or riding in to answer the call. They are re-assessing Rudy and they are being persuaded by arguments that appeal to prudence. Martin Knight at is one who has seen "Rudy's Appeal."

He likes Giuliani primarily because "he fights." He has a powerful point. When you are faced with wishy washy Republicans in a Democrat controlled Congress where the far left and jaw droppingly irresponsible Harry Reid and Nancy Polosi are in the top positions of leadership, an unbudgeable scrapper of a President is no small asset. In Giuliani, Knight sees, "an articulate, intelligent, tenacious and aggressive Conservatism that does not shy away from a fight, routinely engages the other side on the battlefield of ideas, and never ever pulls its punches."

Rudy's tenure as Mayor of New York is remarkable not just for what he got accomplished, from reducing crime, slashing welfare rolls, cleaning up Times Square, cutting taxes, etc. - things that conventional (i.e. liberal) wisdom had long declared impossible in "ungovernable" New York City, it was that he was able to be so effective in the face of the unrelenting and vituperative hostility of the New York Press Corps (at the head of which, of course, the New York Times), wave after wave of constant attacks and slander by the Left's myriad shrieking organizations, a virtually dead Gotham GOP (which, to his discredit, he did not do much to revitalize) and a City Council where his allies were less than 10% of the total body.
Knight lists what Rudy thought was worth going toe to toe over with the fire-breathing New York elite:

  • supervised a 57-percent overall drop in crime and a 65-percent plunge in homicides.
  • curbed or killed 23 taxes totaling $8 billion. He slashed Gotham's top income-tax rate 21 percent and local taxes' share of personal income 15.9 percent. Giuliani called hiking taxes after September 11 "a dumb, stupid, idiotic, and moronic thing to do."
  • While hiring 12 percent more cops and 12.8 percent more teachers, Giuliani sliced manpower 17.2 percent, from 117,494 workers to 97,338.
  • Rather than "perpetuate discrimination," Giuliani junked Gotham's 20 percent set-asides for female and minority contractors.
  • Two years before federal welfare reform, Giuliani began shrinking public-assistance rolls from 1,112,490 recipients in 1993 to 462,595 in 2001, a 58.4-percent decrease to 1966 levels. He also renamed welfare offices "Job Centers."
  • Foster-care residents dropped from 42,000 to 28,700 between 1996 and 2001, while adoptions zoomed 65 percent to 21,189.
  • Giuliani privatized 69.8 percent of city-owned apartments; sold WNYC-TV, WNYC-FM, WNYC-AM, and Gotham's share of the U.N. Plaza Hotel; and invited the private Central Park Conservancy to manage Manhattan's 843-acre rectangular garden.
  • Giuliani advocated school vouchers, launched a Charter School Fund, and scrapped tenure for principals.
  • While many libertarians frowned, Giuliani padlocked porn shops in Times Square, paving the way for smut-free cineplexes and Disney musicals.
Those are family values. That approach is the other side of the mountain from Hillary Clinton who is sure to be the Democratic nominee.

Even our Lord told us to be innocent as doves, but wise as serpents. In other words, you can behave prudently among the mixed multitude with whom we share this world, and still maintain a good conscience.

Also read Wall Street Journals' Daniel Henninger, "Can Rudy and the Right Come to Terms" (October 25, 2007), and a fine couple of articles by Tony Blankley on the prudence that Christian citizens should exercise when casting a conscientious vote: "The GOP Needs a Survival Instinct" (October 3) and "Electoral Pragmatism Reconsidered" (October 10).