Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ron Paul vs God on Politics

Rep. Ron Paul has much to his credit. He is honest. He is true to his principles. He is incorruptible. As for those principles, he is a faithful constitutionalist and so he holds to a restrictive view of what government should do. This stands in sad contrast to most government officials who view the details of the constitution rather carelessly. Dr. Paul, an OB-GYN, has also been a strong defender of the unborn.

But Paul holds these views from libertarian convictions, not Christian ones. He himself is a Christian, but he believes that one's faith is an entirely private matter with no business expressing itself in public policy. How does he know this? Libertarianism tells him so. You see what the controlling authority is.

In "Christian, why Ron Paul?" (, I argue along these lines.

"Biblical government not only secures us in our lives and property so that “we may lead a peaceful and quiet life.” It also actively cultivates a moral environment that facilitates people’s ability to live their lives “godly and dignified in every way” and pass such moral habits along to their children (1 Timothy 2:2). Libertarians like Ron Paul deny this fundamental biblical political principle. As a result, Ron Paul’s America would look more like It’s a Wonderful Life’s Potterville than Bedford Falls. What is worst in us, unchecked and undiscountenanced, would flourish among us, freely chosen but encouraged by those who would exploit their neighbor’s moral weakness for gain."

Norman Horn of ("Can a Christian be a Libertarian?") argues for Christianb Libertarianism as a Third Way in American politics.

"Libertarianism treats man’s sinful nature realistically. James Madison famously quipped that if men were angels no government would be necessary. Christian libertarians take this a step further, saying that it is precisely because men are not angels that government must have extraordinarily limited powers."
But in saying this he neglects what Madison--also in Federalist Papers No. 51--takes very seriously: the need also for government to restrain the iniquity of the governed.

Joe Knippenberg at First Things ("Libertarianism and Christianity") cites both my column and the Horn argument before concluding:

Non-pseudo-Nietzschean libertarians have always struck me as somewhat Pollyannaish in their assumptions regarding the power—more precisely, the lack of power—of human sinfulness. They see sinfulness in government, but somehow assume that the rest of us will be “good enough” with only the most minimal restraints. What’s more, they seem to assume that a “merely individualist” public philosophy won’t have untoward consequences for our common lives together.

(As an aside, for this reason, I don’t believe that Ron Paul is racist, despite the newsletters that went out in his name many years ago. In this video montage, he makes a compelling case that libertarians believe in the freedom of every individual, regardless of race, whereas racism requires seeing people as groups.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Vaclav Havel 1936-2011

The statesman of the Velvet Revolution is dead. Vaclav Havel at age 75.

Hear his reflections on the recent upheavals in the middle east.

Read his 1978 essay, "The Power of the Powerless," from Open Letters, Selected Writings 1965-1990.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Pundit-People Divide Over Gingrich

A political campaign is an extended job interview. I wrote about looking at Herman Cain's appalling knowledge gaps from that perspective ("Cain Blows His Job Interview"). If you look at Newt Gingrich's candidacy in the same way, he should get a quick dismissal. Look at his references. People who worked with him and know him best are warning us in the strongest terms to stay away from him. Would you hire someone for senior management (or for anything) with references like that?

I review the application materials in "The Gingrich Gap."

Peggy Noonan calls him “a human hand grenade who walks around with his hand on the pin, saying, ‘Watch this!’” While recognizing his virtues and great accomplishments, she calls him “ethically dubious,” “egomaniacal,” and “erratic and unreliable as a leader.” George Will says Gingrich “embodies the vanity and rapacity that make modern Washington repulsive.”

David Brooks, a remarkably genial fellow, told Time, “I wouldn’t let that guy run a 7-Eleven let alone the country.” Joe Scarborough shares this judgment, calling Gingrich “an ideological train wreck and the worst manager this side of Barack Obama.” Expanding on Noonan’s “egomaniacal,” Brooks writes that Gingrich “has every negative character trait that conservatives associate with ’60s excess: narcissism, self-righteousness, self-indulgence and intemperance.” Charles Krauthammer shares this judgment: “Gingrich has a self-regard so immense that it rivals Obama’s—but, unlike Obama’s, is untamed by self-discipline.”

Most recently, an editorial in The National Review cites “his impulsiveness, his grandiosity, his weakness for half-baked (and not especially conservative) ideas” when he was speaker of the House. “Again and again,” the editorial continues, “he put his own interests above those of the causes he championed in public.” Though that was then, “there is reason to doubt that he has changed.”
At the Fox News Iowa degate last night, Rick Santorum reminded us that when Gingrich was Speaker of the House in the 1990s, there was a conservative revolt against him.

It seems that the poor references are finding their way the the desk of Joe Citizen. Newt is slipping in the polls in Iowa. That is death to the Gingrich ascendancy. The Iowa caucuses are two and a half weeks away which is an eternity in this roller coaster primary, lots of time to join Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry in the reject file.

Newt appears to be scaring people to Romney. According to a recent Rasmussen poll, Mitt Romney has moved into the lead.

Mitt could take Iowa and New Hampshire, then roll on the the nomination. Mature, center-right administration would be a relief from the Social Democratic Revolution of the last three years.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Crony Capitalism Attacked from the Right

Crony capitalism is not capitalism at all. That should be the cry from the right.

And that is my complaint in last week's column, "Crony Capitalism vs American Liberty." I quote GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman saying, “Capitalism without failure is not capitalism.

I draw attention to conservative former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, another GOP presidential contender, who has aligned himself with the Occupy Wall Street concerns. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe last week, Roemer spoke in defense of liberty when he said that “somewhere between Wall Street and K Street the system is corrupt. Here’s why. A big check gets first in line; everybody else is out of sight. This country is not fair at the top.”

Here is Andrew Klavan in a Manhattan Institute comedy video arguing that the socialist left is actually plucked from the same government-sucking ideological sty.