Conservative or Reactionary?

Sam Brownback, Newt Gingrich, or Duncan Hunter? The competition for the mantle of “true conservative” has brought a bumper crop of self-righteous culture warriors, but few offer conservatism in government’s involvement in our lives. They strive to legislate morality, coerce propriety, and deride dissent as immoral.

The party that advocates for individual accountability should trust the individual in matters of conscience. The party that calls for smaller government has grown bureaucracy using hollow justifications of education and security. The same politicians who denounce the "nanny state," have protected us from internet gambling and feel free to violate the 4th amendment to protect us from terrorist mail.

Traditional conservatism calls for government restraint. Our Constitution calls for limited federal functions, generous liberties, and government in the interest of all Americans; representative of the majority but respectful of the minority.

Barry Goldwater was once seen as the conservative's conservative. He recognized the dubious conservatism of the religious right.

The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in "A," "B," "C," and "D." Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of "conservatism." -- Barry Goldwater, from the Congressional Record, September 16, 1981 (via Fort Liberty.org)

I propose a return to traditional conservatism. With $9 trillion in national debt, we have ample justification to cut our bloated federal government. A conservative government should remove obstacles to individual achievement, encourage free markets, and burden taxpayers as little as possible. Government should have little influence over the choices of consenting adults, and most effectively represent public interests at the state and local level.

Don't be fooled by false conservatism. Conservative social and religious values, freely imposed by an intrusive government, are reactionary. False conservatism doesn't serve the Constitution, the interests of liberty, or the American people.

Michael Smith, Republican Candidate for President

Posted by Michael Smith at January 25, 2007 12:09 AM
Comments
Comment #204912

Michael, good post. Good luck on convincing the evangelicals, corporatist and neocons that have taken over the repubs that your words are wise.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 25, 2007 1:20 AM
Comment #204915

Michael, nor does it serve the Republican Party as a minority party in Congress. The greatest good that ever came from the Republican Party in the 20th century was as they garnered the DixicCrats and acted as a constraint on runaway Democrats fiscal laziness, and their penchant for overrunning states rights and individual responsibility.

Then came the 21st century, and Republicans became more Democrat than Democrats. The voters are now looking to the Democratic Party for fiscal discipline (PayGo), saving the protections for misfortune no fault of one’s own, called the safety nets and Katrina restoration, protecting individual choice and freedom, and separation of church/boardroom and State.

If Democrats meet voters expectations on half of those, Republicans will have a very difficult and long row to hoe to regain majority status. And, then, only if the Republican Party turns its back on the political expedience of the religious right vote. For when the Republican Party sucked up to that vote to gain power, they lost their character and ethics with which to keep the power once attained.

Oh, yes, and one more thing. Republicans must return to the foreign policy of defense, instead of recreating the government into a giant department of offense. Had Republicans stuck to defense, we would have invaded Afghanistan and secured it, and then created a defensive buffer against Pakistan which would have squeezed it between the U.S. and India insuring it would not one day erupt as a foe of the U.S. like the time bomb Pakistan is to us today. Also, national defense in the conservative sense would have left stability, such as it was, in Iraq, intact.

These neo-cons turned their backs on defending our borders, and chose to offend Iraq and unite 100’s of millions of the world’s people against us, costing the U.S. decades of leadership clout in the world of global affairs, and enhancing the leadership clout of China and the EU. We will be paying a dear price for that over the next 2 decades.

I am not a Democrat because I respect the traditional conservative values. I am not a Republican because I respect the liberal concept that we are all in this together and need to insure policy always benefits the greatest number in the most positive sustainable way possible.

I am an Independent voter, once a minority, but now a member of the fastest shift in voters from the DNC and RNC in the last 45 years.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans will ever hold on to power again in the Congress without the Independent voters. And that is the new reality both parties are going to have to come to grips with. If their base doesn’t allow the party to court the independents, that party will not govern.

What do independents want? Peace, prosperity, and freedom. Their vote will go to whichever party can bring the most of those 3 items. Republicans pulled the rug out from under them on peace and freedom. That’s why Republicans lost control in November.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 25, 2007 1:56 AM
Comment #204983

That’s a good start.
Now, if you could provide some details.
What is your position on each of these important issues ?
And, if the Repubican party has been hijacked, why remain within it?

Posted by: d.a.n at January 25, 2007 12:53 PM
Comment #204991

Michael, Great Post.

I “get” why you are working within the Republican Party for change. I think you’ve got a long way to go. When Republicans begin to understand conservatism doesn’t mean ignoring the poor unwashed masses and groveling to the wealthy, perhaps I would even consider calling myself a Republican. I’m not really sure, though, that even Goldwater understood that.

Posted by: gergle at January 25, 2007 1:19 PM
Comment #204992

Michael,

I agree with you. It started to happen in the nineties when the conservatives promulgated a “we can do no wrong” philosophy, based on some very shaky extrapolations made from Reagan’s successes. Things like: Reagan opposed communism and it fell. Therefore all regimes are easily toppled and replaced with Democratic systems. Or, Reagan proved debts don’t matter. Or, Reagan was religious.

These new “conservatives” took anything Reagan did and turned into some kind of crazy rule that could never be broken. And now the difference between Reagan and Bush Sr. and the new Republicans couldn’t be more vivid. Today’s “conservatives” scare the hell out of me. It’s radicalism of the most dangerous kind masked as apple pie.

Posted by: Max at January 25, 2007 1:24 PM
Comment #205004

Beautifully articulated, Michael. I agree 100%.

Posted by: kevin23 at January 25, 2007 2:14 PM
Comment #205007

Michael:

I’m a Democrat who agrees with you. The Republican Party is radical, not conservative.

Republicans found it hard to win without attracting religious fundamentalists. And the religious right does a great deal of work for the party.

It will be interesting to see what happens if conservatives and fundamentalists go their separate ways.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at January 25, 2007 2:35 PM
Comment #205011

Here we go again!!

Let’s all blame the Republican loss on the Christians!!

Maybe if some of you guys would wipe the sleepy sand out of your eyes you may be able to see how the Democratic Party has successfully demonized Christianity through their partners in the media and Hollywood.

Just who do you think caused the numerous Republicans to step down when they were caught in questionable or criminal behavior? It sure wasn’t the Democrats. They didn’t have the power. When Democrats even hint that a Republican may be in a scandal, the Republicans are removed by their own Party members. Remember, Democrats were the minority. They could do nothing but whine. Something they still seem to be very good at. Christians keep the Republican Party in check. Who is it that is keeping the Democrats from electing those who have been under investigations and in some cases indicted and convicted, like Hastings, Jefferson, Clinton, Reid, Kennedy, etc., etc., etc.? Where are all their spotless lambs in leadership? Everyone knows their shady pasts, but nobody seems to care on the Democratic side. At least when a Republican is caught in wrongdoing, he is forced out, primarily by the Christians within the Party who expect better. That is the double standard that everyone should clearly see in politics today. The only Party holding any of their own accountable is the Republican Party. Who was the last Democrat to step down when caught in scandal, (even when hiding some $90,000 in his freezer)? Democrats present their resignation letters only “after” they have been cuffed and imprisoned, and that asking if anyone in the Party may have a friend on the judicial bench.

If you want to blame Christians for the Republican loss, then admit that it was because they were fed up with the Republicans forgetting their character and integrity, becoming like Clinton was. We expect better, and we will demand it, regardless of what Barry Golwater says, or the motives he may have wanted for having the bar lowered on integrity as it has been now with the election of the Democrats to the majority. It will not be long before the Dems are back to their old ways. The question is, will the Democrats ever really have to worry about being held accountable? Republicans are still a far cry better than the Democrats who reward their shady ladies and gents with leadership roles within the Party.

JD

Posted by: JD at January 25, 2007 2:44 PM
Comment #205014

JD, It’s a red herring to claim anyone is blaming the Republican Party’s problems on Christians. The fault lies with various self-righteous prudes, homophobes, xenophobes, racists, theocrats, bigots, and narrow-minded who have flocked to the banner of “social conservatism.” I welcome any perspective that follows Jesus’ teaching to “do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

Posted by: Michael Smith at January 25, 2007 2:59 PM
Comment #205026
Democratic Party has successfully demonized Christianity through their partners in the media and Hollywood

This is the biggest bunch of bullshit, repeated ad nauseum. Show me any Democrat that demonizes Christianity. It’s patently untrue.

And freaking tiresome and offensive to the Christians of either party, frankly.

Posted by: womanmarine at January 25, 2007 4:35 PM
Comment #205035

I freely demonize Christianity all of the time but I’m not a democrat. Of course, no one listens to me either so it’s really a moot point. ;) I’m just a bitter ex-preacher…

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 25, 2007 5:14 PM
Comment #205037

JD said: “Let’s all blame the Republican loss on the Christians”

You bet. More voted Democrat than Republican. Nuff said.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 25, 2007 5:32 PM
Comment #205040

Rhinehold:

“I freely demonize Christianity all of the time but I’m not a democrat.”

The same goes for me—and nobody listens to me either. But, I’ve found that with the Right-wing evangelicals, the Left Behinders, and all the rest of the looney Christian Right, it’s best to let it collectively shoot itself in the foot. They tend to demonize themselves very well, without any imput from me.:-)

Posted by: Tim Crow at January 25, 2007 6:05 PM
Comment #205043

Michael Smith,
Since you’re running for president, perhaps you could provide some details on your position on each of these important issues ?
Surely, you already have already prepared your position on all these important issues?

As I recall, you’re for the flat sales tax (FairTax), and your position on illegal immigration was unclear?

Posted by: d.a.n at January 25, 2007 6:23 PM
Comment #205045

The word conservative is misleading, becaue the unasked question is what you’re conservative about. Political conservatism, in the light of several decades of big government, is not conservatism anymore. It’s decidedly radical as an approach to government, compared to what the average person accepts.

This is the Republican party’s dilemma: It’s central dogma was conservative, but in practice, to remain elected, the Republicans had to deal with the New Deal Traditions people were familiar with. They could beat up on them a little bit, but they couldn’t give up on them, without either political or real world ramifications making them unpopular.

What puts religious/moral conservatism at odds with the political variety is that each asks a return to differen things which often are in conflict. Religious conservatism wants to restore the morals and blue laws sort of legislation, in a sort of “wag the dog” sense of bringing America back to its religious roots. Political conservatives want to undo what they see as the damage of the generational dominance of the Democratic Party under Roosevelt and his successors.

Religious conservatives are far less committed to the laissez faire economics and states rights issues than the political conservatives. They see the power of the New Deal scale government as a means to their ends. Some would even totally renovate the government into a theocracy (Not all, only the nuttiest of religious conservatives)

It is on this difference that the Republican party was bent over and snapped. Compassionate conservatism was religious conservatism in a secular disguise.

Another element of the destruction of Republican party was the much-maligned Neoconservative faction. Neither signed on to the Religious conservative’s vision of restoring America to a more faith-based country, nor the political Conservative’s horror of big government or their post-cold war isolationism.

Now, a party can hold conflicting factions together. What it takes, though, is political dialogue between the groups, where each side was willing to make compromises. The gaining of near absolute power was the last thing the Republicans should have done, because for a generation, against the Democrats, each faction, Neocon, Religious Right, and Classic Conservative, preached a gospel of active, uncompromising policy pushing. This worked as long as they had a common enemy to distract them from their differences. Relieved of that distraction, they turned on each other.

Meanwhile, the years in the wilderness hardened the Democrats, especially the loss of the 2004, and the Bush administration itself, not to put too fine a point on it.

Democrats had already been forced by Republican gains to become less of a left-centered party, as it had been in the 70’s, and to a lesser extent in the 80’s. They had to go moderate because there was no other place to go in the end.

This exile was a blessing in disguise. What the Republicans had was not a truly conservative majority in the country. Rather, what they had was moderates looking to continue what could be called the Reagan Equilibrium- lower taxes, efforts towards a balanced budget, moderate rollback of the government and bureaucracy, the perception of a less impeded economy, America’s military might rebuilt and victorious, and the sense of patriotic confidence.

Clinton preserved that equilibrium. The only difference here was that Congress and the Executive branch had switched places on the ideological spectrum.

Bush did more than disrupt the equilibrium. He’s absolutely destroyed it. The destruction he’s wreaked is based on his efforts to unite all the different factions of Republican thought and then enforce it all as a strong, active united party discipline. It’s like a political Babel: attempts to build the tower unto political heaven resulted in the confusion of the political languages. When the party was at the peak of its power, and every action it was not capable of taking controversial in its own party, the party could not hold up against a Democratic party that had decided to divide itself less and broaden support in the country. Once it became clear that the public was shifting its support away from the GOP, the long knives really came out.

The ironic thing, as each portion of the party blames the other, or blames having been insufficiently true to their favorite agenda, is that the responsibility for the fall of the Republicans was basically nobody’s in particular, and everybody’s in general.

Each group had the misfortune to be at odds in some way with the other, differences that would be magnified by the maximum extent of power they attained, and the hubris that comes with it. Each group thought they had a political savior in Dubya, when in fact Dubya had no true center, besides what was politically convenient at the time. Each group believed in an agenda which they planned to force as much as they could get. Each group supported something in the main that they did not have the support to continue as they would like: breaking down the modern Church/State barriers, rolling back government to the early Twentieth Century, and waging a massive campaign to remake the Middle East in Israel’s favor regardless of the support for this war or others, especially in the context of a real enemy like al-Qaeda.

The only thing the Republicans can do to win back power is to become more reasonable, to accept that Americans are not supportive of their most radical agendas, and to back off of those. If they cannot, they will not regain any of the advantages they once enjoyed.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 25, 2007 6:32 PM
Comment #205048

JD
When you put yourself up on a pedestal your foundation becomes shaky and you have a longer way to fall. The vast majority of Americans are Christian. Who exactly is persecuting the Christians? Mel Gibson? Charleton Heston? oh I know Paris Hilton. Are you aware that a greater percentage of people in red states watch that crap?

Posted by: 037 at January 25, 2007 6:45 PM
Comment #205069

paul seagul,
I am very uncertain about a comment:
I welcome any perspective that follows Jesus’ teaching to “do unto others as you would have done unto you.”
this was a comment made by somebody that you said you agree on everything with.

So deos this mean that as a dem. you are willing to follow other teachings of jesus? teachings such as Abortion is wrong, and Homosexual marriage is wrong? I was just wondering if you were willing to listen to his other teachings, after all the dems are against all of the above(and more).

Posted by: jonh at January 25, 2007 9:11 PM
Comment #205070

Michael
Nice piece and great response to JD. I wish you luck in returning the Reps to the compasionit realism of Eisenhauer. I am a yellow dog Dem but am honest enough to realize the country needs you guys.. Majority party,naw,but the best role for a real conservative party is as an effective minority party containing government intrusion.Get it together.

Posted by: BillS at January 25, 2007 9:12 PM
Comment #205083

I highly value conservative values. But today the word “conservative” has been twisted by some to achieve essentially liberal ideas of governmental control. Case in point of bi-partisan paranoia and sensationalism:

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0125071mlk1.html?link=rssfeed

This is what happens when idiotic liberal and self-righteous folks non-conservative conservatives become involved in trying to place judgment upon, and trying and regulate the behavior of, otherwise objectively (never totally) decent students and young people. Instead of concentrating on education in the classroom, and other things that they actually do have the right and responsibility to maintain control over, they would rather listen to every easily offended asshole from some special interest group who spends his lonely days perusing through people’s personal facebook pages looking for anything to take out of context and irresponsibly label as some sort of manifestation of evil rather than a simple night of innocent and well deserved FUN…for fun’s own sake!

Apparently some folks either can’t remember what fun is, or are so bitter about not being able to have it anymore that they cannot find it in themselves to allow others to enjoy themselves. Instead of forcing kids to constantly and habitually think about race and constantly alter
their behavior so that not even the most easily offended idiots can find no fault (effectively killing honesty and spontaneity…the two most
important elements of fun), maybe they should get over themselves and let kids be kids. Let kids learn lessons the right way, in the contexts in which they actually exist, if they exist at all anymore. Inflicting your own sensibilities upon others by force is no way to make friends
nor spread an idea. It just breeds contempt and bitterness, and exacerbates the ideological gap.

These kids, as evidenced by the pictures, are clearly just having a good time at a themed costume party. I’ve been to pimps and ho’s parties, white trash parties, and roman toga parties among others. Never once have I considered that my getting plastered in costume with a bunch of close friends could equate to a universal or generalized hatred or disrespect for rap culture, NASCAR, or Romans. It is such a stretch of
logic that anyone who suggests it without some credible substantiating evidence should be publicly admonished for being an implicative and
assumptive moron with no ability or will to relate with people on a level playing field. These people are self-serving and do nothing to advance racial relations, understanding or even providing insight for surrounding debates. They simply piss decent people off, and soil undeserving people’s reputations. For what? One headline and 5 minutes
of utterly forgettable and meaningless fame.

The Duke lacrosse case is a prominent example of what happens when outside parties and special interests are consulted and have great influence over local legal matters. In their blind and ruthless attacks, they implicated racism as a primary concern in the case when it was, in
fact, MUCH less important than the facts surrounding the actual people involved. Had the DA done his job in accordance with his job
description, racism would have been pretty far down on the list of concerns. These white guys were, after all, paying good money to see a
black dancer take her clothes off. It is incredibly difficult to look at the totality of facts in this case and assume these kids to be having the party and spending their money for the sole purpose of tricking the some poor black woman into putting herself in a helpless position
allowing the team members to then exhibit their otherwise bottled up group racism towards her. Isn’t it much more likely that she was there
for legitimate non-racially motivated entertainment and there were personality clashes, or some other issue entirely unrelated to race?

Apparently not according to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, and by apparently automatic extension, the mainstream media as well. Heaven forbid diligence and rationality were to get in the way of re-printing an attention grabbing headline. Maybe the word “news” is just taken for
granted. But these types of sensationalized and tangential commentaries and implications are much more properly labeled as entertainment rather
than news. They make a few people get worked up during their morning commutes, sell a few more papers or magazines, and seem fine content
this as an end. To me, the news should only include who, what, when, where, how and why. Carefully choosing stories and headlines based only on their marketability in the extreme short term is not a good formula for news. It is a great formula for tabloid entertainment, however.

Are we becoming a nation that believes deep down, in an almost Thomas Hobbes way, that people are inherently evil? That a bad act is more likely to be caused by some secretly held hidden group prejudice than by the more direct surrounding circumstances? Am I to believe that an
entire group of college kids were celebrating the oppression of black people rather than celebrating another homework-free night with a theme
they didn’t find remotely racist until a bunch of aged hippie burnouts or some self-righteous NAACP member unilaterally created a whole new context in which offense could be taken?

Are we really to become a nation that is only as strong and unified as its weakest and most sensitive members? Or are we a strong republican
democracy that values good information and consensus. I’m more than aware of the need to protect procedurally from the tyranny of the
majority, but I never thought we’d have to take a stand against the tyranny of every minority as well.

It’s all about common sense over the most convenient explanation. Everything in life is circumstantial. There is rarely a silver bullet,
and racism is certainly nowhere near a good, let alone complete, explanation in the overwhelming majority of cases where it is implicated
as a primary concern. Again, it’s all about common sense.

Posted by: Kevin23 at January 25, 2007 9:48 PM
Comment #205129


Kevin23: A very good post. There are factions on both ends of our political spectrum that would turn our castles into dungeons if we let them have their way. I do prefer a democratic republic instead of a republican democracy though.

Posted by: jlw at January 26, 2007 12:05 AM
Comment #205131

I post a large post and all that the libs can disagree with or counter is one phrase about demonizing Christians.

Well, then I will be content that you all agreed with the other 99% of my remarks!!

JD

Posted by: JD at January 26, 2007 12:37 AM
Comment #205132

Kevin23,

Yeah, those old non-conservative conservatives (Christian conservatives who want to control everybody) who just don’t want anybody to have fun crap is about as old as sin itself. In fact, I think that is the same argument the serpent used against God in the Garden of Eden. (Just do it, it won’t hurt anything. If you do it you’ll be just like God. Why let God control you? Right?) With your way of thinking, why should anybody be able to tell anyone else they are wrong? For that matter, why have laws at all? Why even pretend there is such a thing as good or bad? Why have any kind of cultural, political, moral, etc., foundation amongst any people? Everyone who actually tries to set up any rules or moral guidelines just doesn’t want anyone to have any fun, right? I’m sure a lot of people do things they know they shouldn’t in the name of fun and sometimes get away with it. Sometimes they don’t! But, gee Kevin23, that still doesn’t make it right now does it? You know, Kevin, there are a whole lot of people that have destroyed their lives and so many lives around them thinking they just needed to have what they thought was fun.I’ve certainly seen enough of that in my lifetime.

This is the liberal attitude that keeps the Democrats from being held accountable for anything they do within their own Party. Thanks for proving my point Kevin. If there is no one to place some semblance of a moral standard upon society, there is anarchy. Is that what you prefer, Kevin?

Answer this question Kevin, and all the rest of you:

Do you personally hold Republicans to a higher standard than the Democrats because of their ties to Christianity? Or, when a Republican becomes entangled in wrong-doing, do you make excuses as the Democrats do saying, “they are Republicans, not the Pope.
Think hard about that.

JD

Posted by: JD at January 26, 2007 1:17 AM
Comment #205137

JD-

Both parties should be held to the same standards. I’ve never once said otherwise.

And the slippery slope argument of social libertarianism as directly resulting in anarchy is not compelling nor in any substantiated by fact.

Laws are good, and thus respected and effective, only when they are necessary. They are not necessary simply because a small minority feel they are. If my actions harm another, and the result was objectively foreseeable, there is and should be reasonable liability. Trying to change behavior through legislation has overwhelmingly proven itself throughout history to be completely ineffective and often counter-productive. I think this was one of Michael’s main points as well.

Posted by: Kevin23 at January 26, 2007 2:33 AM
Comment #205148

JD-
Come on, you make a provocative claim, you know everything else is going to get overshadowed.

I went back and read what you wrote, and the fact is, You had a whole mess of people involved in wrongdoing, not one or two like the Democrats, but multiple folks. Worse, it was far more systematic than the more or less unrelated issues that Democrats like Murtha, Hastings, and Jefferson.

I do think if you’re going to claim that you run things in a Christian manner, you ought to be careful about how you behave. Bush should have been far more reticent about executing people, as mercy is a Christian virtue. Instead, he went overboard. The Republicans who claimed to be Christian ought to have been better stewards of the economy, not indebting us for the benefit of the richest one percent. It especially gets difficult to give these people credit for being Christians when they are like DeLay. Where are the peacemakers? Where are those who were supposed to strive for justice? Where are the people willing to give away their political careers to stand up to the idiocy that was going on. I don’t know about the individual Christians in the Congress and White House, but as a group, they failed to live out the Gospel.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 26, 2007 8:18 AM
Comment #205320

SD—
“better stewards of the economy, not indebting us for the benefit of the richest one percent.”
A statement from the Gospel of Liberalism. The economy is doing great and the richest one percent pay a whole lot of taxes. One statement that destroys a lot of previously held credibility.

Posted by: JoeRWC at January 27, 2007 7:21 AM
Comment #205324

JoeRWC-
Have you seen the actual schedule of rate reductions? It’s structured similarly to a donut. The original tax cut had a rate cut at the lowest bracket, then skipped three or four brackets, then cut the rate above 100,000, and then eliminated the bracket on top of that.

When we say it benefits the richest one percent, we’re more or less telling the truth on the matter. rate cuts at that level can net the people getting them tens of thousands of dollars or more, compared to the few hundred that most people in the brackets below.

If Bush had wanted a truly middle class tax cut, Why did he skip most of their income brackets? As for the economy doing great, there’s a real question of why most people don’t agree with that statement. Sure, Wall Street’s doing great, but that can function pretty well independent of what’s going on in most people’s lives.

No, people think the economies doing great when they’re not saddled with debt up to their eyeballs, when they can pay their bills on time, when their dollars buy more, and their products cost less. By that measure, most of us can’t agree that everything’s hunky dory.

The statement I made is pretty much true. Bush aimed his tax cut away from the middle class, giving them a few hundred dollars for their troubles. Also, the budget offices have said that about sixty percent of the budget deficit comes out of Bush’s tax cuts. So, put two and two together.

Ultimately, the only way to reduce taxes wisely is to reduce spending first, then give the tax cut. If your costs increase, so should the taxes, unless you figure out a way to reduce spending first. So on and so forth. The idea is to avoid deficit spending as much as you can. Unfortunately, this president is far to interested in trying to avoid his father’s political mistake. He doesn’t understand that it was his father’s pledge not to raise taxes when deficits were making it a fiscal necessity that was the political mistake. Everything else was merely a consequence of that.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 27, 2007 10:12 AM
Comment #205326

jonh: Jesus never talked about homosexuality or abortion.

JD: You claim that because right-wing Christians are a large faction in the Republican Party, Republicans step down when there is even a hint of a scandal. I disagree, DeLay remained in Congress even after being indicted and no one from the administration has resigned in the wake of the outing Valarie Plame. In fact, I always considered the opposite to be true, that left-wing Christian groups have traditionally kept Democrats in line more and caused them to resign as soon as it becomes clear that they have done wrong. In the case of Rep. Jefferson, I am somewhat confused; I think he should resign as do many other Democratic voters, yet he refuses.

Posted by: Warren P at January 27, 2007 10:24 AM
Comment #205446

Kevin23,

If you think that trying to change behavior through legislation has been completely ineffective and counter-productive, I suggest that you review the effects of welfare and legalized abortion.

These are in essence laws that were initiated to change behavior, but in the worst way. See where we have come in the last 50 uears? Now, we have people complaining that the government doesn’t pay for everything they want! Fifty years ago, most people would have been embarrassed to be on food stamps, a medical card, etc., etc., etc., but today they’ll rake politicians across the coals if they even mention slowing the growth of social programs.

Look at the number of abortions that have occurred and the women that are using abortion as a means of birth control. Abortion should never have been legalized except to save the life of a mother, and that would be killing the baby in self defense which would not be considered murder. Yet, now women demand abortion on demand.

If someone does not step up, talk about, and warn of the consequences of such things while they are in their stages of introduction, as Christians do, they become sin pits for the future generations to fall into. The problem with most in America is that they want things right now, without looking to the pitfalls of the future.

It is the responsibility of the Church to point out future consequences for actions. This is why the Church is an integral part of the Republican Party especially, and politics as a whole, for the sake of the nation!

JD

Posted by: JD at January 28, 2007 2:04 PM
Comment #205450

Warren P,

What left wing Christians? Where are the left wing Christians in the hierarchy of the Democratic Party? According to exit polls, 78% of those who called themselves Christians vote Republican. If there are any left wing Christians they are such a minority in the Democratic Party they don’t have a voice anyway!

Considering Dems that have stepped down during scandal- name one!

JD

Posted by: JD at January 28, 2007 2:17 PM
Comment #205469

Michael Smith -
“They strive to legislate morality, coerce propriety, and deride dissent as immoral.”

Thanks for the blanket statement which doesn’t apply to most Republicans or conservatives (of any stripe). I haven’t a clue to whom you are referring or to what proposed legislation.

Some morality is worth legislating (shouldn’t it be illegal to drive drunk?). Some types of propriety should be coerced (think about the page scandals on Capital Hill). And some types of dissent are immoral (when it comes from elected leaders who know that the consequence will be that the enemies of the U.S. will be encouraged to fight longer and harder, thus endangering the troops).

So, without specific context your words are meaningless.

I will give you this: The Republican party of today has strayed far from its conservative roots. But the conservatism you propose is also very far from the conservatism of Ronald Reagan or that which would be familiar to the Christian right.

Posted by: Don at January 28, 2007 5:44 PM
Comment #205534

Don, Sounds like the whole White House upper echelon staff and 4/5 of the Republicans in the last Congress to me. Gay marriage, abortion choice, abstinence, federal tax dollars to religious organizations, the war on drugs which creates 10’s of thousands of government jobs and bureaucracy, stem cell research…

Well, I could go on, but, what’s the point, right! The emperor has new clothes.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 28, 2007 9:40 PM
Comment #205547

Don:

Kinda sounds like JD also.

Posted by: womanmarine at January 28, 2007 11:53 PM
Comment #205553

JoeRWC,

If you think the wealthiest 1% pay a whole lot of taxes now, you should have been watching before Reagan came along! Did you know the Democrats had a tax rate of over 70% on the wealthiest of Americans at one point?

That is bureaucratic robbery! This is the tax and spend Party of Democrats. They would love to go back to those days. How would you like it if you had to give $70 of every $100 you make to the Federal government? It is no wonder all the rich individuals started supporting the Reagan Administration and Republicans. He dropped the rates to 28% which I think is still too high.

When you consider that many people give 10% in tithes to their Church or favorite charity, then another 20% or more to the government (actually over 30% if you are considered wealthy), That is 30% to 40% of all income just to support the so-called good of other people for the most part. Democrats want to call these folks greedy because they don’t want to pay another 20% to 30% to the Federal government. But, I ask, “Who are the ones really being greedy? No one in their right minds should think that even the wealthiest individual in the world should be forced to give up over 50% of his wealth. If Democrats were forcing me to do that I would leave the country, too and take my money with me! What right do they have to steal our money to try to proclaim themselves as somehow compassionate? I guess it is easy to be compassionate with another person’s money!!

JD

Posted by: JD at January 29, 2007 12:54 AM
Comment #205618

Remer -
“Don, Sounds like the whole White House upper echelon staff and 4/5 of the Republicans in the last Congress to me.”

It doesn’t to me. What you haven’t put in the mix is that some of the things to which you refer were not even issues 10 years ago. Trying to sort out the legality of new technology and new procedures is never easy. But when the left is pushing hard to legalize the stuff, someone has to put the brakes on. Legalizing gay marriage is an issue of the left. Stem cell research using human embryos is an issue of the left as well (You know that using human beings as “material” for medical research has been considered taboo and that Hitler was condemned for his use of humans as “material” for medical research). If Republicans can be blamed for “legislating morality” on these issues, then it is logical that when the Democrats seek to promote homosexual marriage, etc., they are “legislating immorality”. It sounds like you’d rather the Republicans would have sat on their hands.

Further, as you know, Smith has as his subject (and therefore mine) those who are running for Republican nomination. My comments were about Smith’s lack of specificity with regard to those candidates. “Sam Brownback, Newt Gingrich, or Duncan Hunter?” He still hasn’t responded (and probably won’t) with a specific charge. It is much easier to lump what “Republicans” have done with the names of those with whom you disagree.

Posted by: Don at January 29, 2007 12:12 PM
Comment #205977

JD-

Welfare type programs are not legislating morality, JD. Your example makes zero sense to me. Look at prohibition, the war on drugs, the prominence of back alley abortions, etc, etc, etc and you’ll find over and over again that legislating to change behavior only works when people overwhelmingly agree with the law. In other words, the law wasn’t intended to change behavior, only to acknowledge a pre-existing common morality.

It is a basic tenet of police science
(look it up if you don’t believe me) that informal controls work, and formal controls are MUCH less effective, if effective at all.

Posted by: kevin23 at January 31, 2007 12:21 PM
Comment #205979

JD-

Even if you want to continue with your idea of welfare legislation, let me tell you why it fully supports my statements:

Welfare is designed to legislate a mandate that we subsidize the poor by raising the floor. So if it is legislating morality, the moral principle would be that extreme poverty is bad, and the program will force people to not accept it.

What happened as a result of the legislation? Poor stayed poor, people did not feel as if they should change their perceptions of poverty (most consider it more a product of laziness than pure circumstance), and the programs produced counter-productive results.

So I’m lost as to how you feel this to be evidence that the governments role in regulating behavior is valid, effective, or preferable in any way.

Posted by: kevin23 at January 31, 2007 12:30 PM
Comment #206006

Kevin23

The government is where laws are made. Laws are made to regulate our behavior. See how easy that is.

Posted by: tomh at January 31, 2007 4:09 PM
Comment #206008

Tomh-

Laws are made to punish specific behavior. There is a BIG difference. Nice try.

Posted by: Kevin23 at January 31, 2007 4:26 PM
Comment #206026

The law in a particular area of my neighborhood says that the maximum speed allowed is 35 mph. That is not a punishment. That is to control behavior.

The law says I cannot go to a bank and demand money that is not mine. That is to control behavior.

There is a punishment associated with a lack of correct behavior. The law says thus and so and if I do not do thus and so then a procedure is in place for a punishment to be applied.

Posted by: tomh at January 31, 2007 6:30 PM
Comment #206036

Tomh-

Are you for real? The law in your jurisdiction says that anyone going above 35 mph, or whatever a cop deems reasonable under the circumstances, will be guilty of an infraction and subject to a fine of x dollars. The same goes for the bank thing.

They are not regulating behavior. They are punishing a specific act in a specific and finite way. Most people obey the speed limit because they understand it is the best way to stay safe and avoid injuring people. Only those who have little regard for those things would change their behavior solely to avoid a fine. I would think you of all people would understand that, being a Christian and all.

Posted by: Kevin23 at January 31, 2007 7:35 PM
Comment #206037

Of course, I am also coming from the assumption that Christianity is not based solely on using people’s fear of hell to regulate their behavior. Tell me, do you feel this way? If not, then how do you reconcile the two?

Posted by: Kevin23 at January 31, 2007 7:36 PM
Comment #206039

Kevini23
You are correct that if you exceed the posted speed limit there will be a penalty. I said that before also. People will be controlled by the speed limit sign which represents the law.

Item #2
I do not have to fear hell. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. For me hell has lost its option. I will spend eternity in heaven. That is what I believe. There are some people that should fear hell. That is where some people are heading. They do have a choice. Everybody has a choice as to where they will spend eternity. One can accept or reject Jesus Christ. God does not make one choose only the individual person makes that choice. Good deeds do not get you to heaven.

Posted by: tomh at January 31, 2007 8:04 PM
Comment #206050

Tomh-

So you agree with me then. People do not change their behavior out of fear, or because a law says it is subject to a given penalty. They do it because they feel it is the right thing to do.

And I don’t know what you are saying about the sign stopping people from speeding. It’s only a sign, and can’t stop anyone from doing anything unless they independently agree to do so. Most people I know go about 25mph in a school zone regardless of whether they happen to see a sign. Others I know will go 35 regardless of posted signs. They never alter this simply because of a sign…only when their comfort level goes down.

Look it up, Tom. Informal v. formal controls. It is not something I made up. There is a plethora of research on the subject, and they teach it in criminal justice classes. People do not alter their behavior because a law is made. They do so because they understand and respect it as the right thing to do. When they don’t, they alter their behavior only to the extent they feel minimizes the chance of getting caught. The second they feel no cop is looking, they will break the rule. And people often feel as if no cop is looking. Take a drive in any city for proof.

Posted by: Kevin23 at January 31, 2007 9:42 PM
Comment #206144

Some out of fear and some because it is righteous.

Posted by: tomh at February 1, 2007 2:16 PM
Comment #206323

Kevin23,

It is not the sign that people fear, but rather the red and blue lights in the rear view that will result if one does not heed the sign! Those red and blue lights, by the way, coming from an employee of the almighty government!

If people did not comply to laws out of fear, why then do we have so many police chase shows on TV? I only run from those whom I fear. And that would include only a precious few! How about you?

The only reason informal controls work is that they are predominantly initiated incrementally, much like welfare. Thus people change their behaviors gradually. This is exactly what I was saying about the change in society from “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. John F. Kennedy would have been shocked to see how the government progams of LBJ changed the attitude of individuals from JFK’s famous quote, to “ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country can give to you from the filthy, stinking rich!”

JD

Posted by: JD at February 2, 2007 12:05 PM
Comment #206348

JD-

You’re close. It is not the cop or the flahing lights that people fear. It is the embarrassment and shame they feel as they are being written the ticket, paying it, and standing in front of a judge answering for it. That is the real form of control. This is why we listen to our family and not strangers when they give us the same advice.

But this is all basic sociology…we’ve digressed. I don’t know what your TV example means. I doubt very much that the shows you see on TV the prior night have much of an influence on your behavior at work the next day, for example. It’s much more likely that the more meaningful social pressures will be much more influential. Then again, maybe the TV’s impression of you is just that important.

Posted by: Kevin23 at February 2, 2007 1:06 PM
Comment #285300

The reactionary ideology of the conservative religeous right has destroyed the GOP. As long as this group has control of the party, their numbers will go down with the changing demographics of our country. Look at the last election, the lost the electorial college by a landslide. They lost the Blacks, Latino, Asians, Gays, Lndependents, Females, and the Youth of the nation. Americans don’t want church mixed with state. The majority of voters don’t like the self righteous hypocrites on the right declaring what is right or wrong in their moral view and wanting to impose it om the nation. We now have the defacto leader of the GOP(Limbaugh), Hannity and the rest of the right wing shock jocks wanting to flush and purge the party of the moderates and Rino’s. Then the GOP should run Gringrich/Palin, Huckbee/Palin, or any other combination of two right wing nuts and the GOP will go down to a worst defeat than Goldwater is 1964.The conservatives sheep that follow these insane AM radio shock jocks have begun to act in a cult like fashion. They follow the daily talking points and converse with like minded individuals, they develop cult like traits. They didn’t see the take over by Dem’s in 2006, nor did they see the increase of Dem seats and the presidency in 2008. This was due to talk radio and constantly reinforcing like minded ideology with individuals of the same ideology. They had no new ideasor visions and became the obstructionist party of NO. The had no clarity of vision because their thought processers were taken over by hate radio. T.hey had no clarity of vision or what was really going on. They were living in the la-la land of talk radio. It has consumed the GOP and will be their demise

Posted by: Packeryman at July 30, 2009 11:02 AM
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