Religion

Why Beholdest Thou the Mote That Is In Bart Stupak's Eye?

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"[W]e have heard a lot in the last year from some snooty ostensibly-conservative pundits who would like to rearrange the conservative coalition and dump social conservatives overboard," writes Jennifer Rubin in Commentary. "However, the health-care bill is as good an example as we will find as to why this is politically idiotic. Here we see that it is social conservatives who remain the last men and women standing against liberal economic- and social-engineering projects. The numbers may just not be there for [Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI)] to disrupt the juggernaut, but it is instructive that the final battle is likely to be over abortion subsidies, not taxes or any other economic issue. Perhaps it's not a good idea for conservatives to tell some of their most stalwart allies to get lost."

It is unlikely that Bart Stupak's objections will derail health care reform in the resolution process, but there is some hope.

I can't endorse Rubin's use of a hyphen after an adverb, but it's an interesting point. I think any definition of conservatism broad enough to include Bart Stupak is broad enough to mean nothing, and Rubin seems to acknowledge this later in the piece by just-asking, "can we acknowledge when the chips are down they are all liberals?"

In theory the Stupak rebellion—which appears to be ongoing—is a wrinkle on the whole Cosmotarian issue that is of interest to Our Kind of People. Are social conservatives aligned in some non-incidental way with believers in small government?

My head sez nay like Mr. Ed. Even if Stupak were a Republican this would be a case of incidental friction, not shared beliefs. Otherwise you'd have to say Public Option refuseniks like Dennis Kucinich are stalwart allies whom only idiots would want to keep at a distance. Sometimes, things break your way (or more often, don't) because other people have motives that need to be respected. From an ideological view—and even more so from the tactical view Rubin is considering here—the content of the motive does not  matter.

My heart says something else, however. It seems to me that people exercising religious cussedness have done more to roll back the state's power to suppress individual freedom than any other group you can name. For many people religious conscience sows the first seeds of doubt about the goodness of the state. I know that one of the few interesting things about Catholicism in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade was having to take seriously the scary, thrilling idea that the United States government was complicit in a vast and horrible crime.

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  1. However, the health-care bill is as good an example as we will find as to why this is politically idiotic. Here we see that it is social conservatives who remain the last men and women standing against liberal economic- and social-engineering projects.

    *pulls “eject” handle*

  2. “It seems to me that people exercising religious cussedness have done more to roll back the state’s power to suppress individual freedom than any other group you can name.”

    I do, too. But I’m afraid that it’s a result of greater respect for the 1st amendment than the 5th. Bleevers are ‘way better organized than the individuals when the government takes.
    (and as mentioned by someone last week, that gal off to the left *really* looks ‘luded out.)

  3. I’d rather stand alongside Kucinich than any social conservative.

    1. The chance of a UFO sighting alone makes it more appealing.

    2. Then you’ll mostly be standing alone… somewhere far away from the action.

      1. It might mean you were near his wife, though. Hubba-hubba.

    3. At least he would have to look up to me

      1. I’d rather stand alongside Kucinich than any social conservative.

        Ron Paul is a social conservative,as are the majority of his constituents who keep electing him to Congress.

        1. Hmmm, talk about an inconvenient truth for many libertarians….

          1. he’s a social conservative but doesn’t want to push those views onto others. usually.

            1. I’ve never understood the fear of a social conservative “Theocracy” in this country. Evangelicals,Pentecostals,Mormons,Catholics,conservative mainline Protestants etc. don’t share much agreement in matters of theology. Not like the secular and religious left progressives do.I think vastly more people disapprove of the sin of “failing to recycle” than “not keeping the Sabbath” and are willing to use state force to punish the transgressors.

              1. “I think vastly more people disapprove of the sin of “failing to recycle” than “not keeping the Sabbath” and are willing to use state force to punish the transgressors.”
                Maybe vastly more, but it only takes one vote to make it law.
                I’ll pass on both because their “sins” are theirs.

              2. If nobody supports laws to keep the sabbath, why can’t you buy alcohol on Sunday in many jurisdictions?

                1. Because those laws were enacted in the benighted time when the Sabbath was more than a metal band. Since then, most attempts to change the laws have been shouted down by the propieters of local liquor stores.

                  1. The liquor lobby fights hard to keep the ban on Sunday sales of beer and wine via the grocery stores here in GA. They like the “stock-up” business on Saturday too much.

                    1. Where I lived in Alabama, it was the moonshiners that fought it most. Same difference, I guess.

    4. I’d rather stand alongside Kucinich than any social conservative.

      I think I’d say the opposite. Better a free economy with some restrictions on abortions (which people can get around using the money they get from a better economy) than a stagnant, socialized economy with easy or “free” abortions.

      1. I agree. Economic socialism will just get us closer to the brink of disaster, and closer to the statist’s dreams. As long as the states are the ones that are doing the restricting of abortion, I don’t see where anyone could really find a Constitutional issue with it either.

    5. Then you deserve what we get from that.

  4. I have a lot more respect for Dennis Kucinich than I do for Bill Frist.

    1. Why? Did you know he was chosen as one of the all-time worst mayors in American history? That he sponsored a bill banning space-based mind-control weapons? What’s Frist done that you think is worse than that?

      1. That he sponsored a bill banning space-based mind-control weapons?

        The bill also banned chemtrails by name.
        I have utmost respect for Frist as a physician and surgeon.I’m glad he returned to his “day job”.Frist is a wealthy businessman and generous philanthropist as well.He kept his own term limit pledge leaving the senate in 2006. I disagree substantially \with the politics of both Frist and Kucinich (as I would expect all libertarians do).What has Kucinich accomplished outside “the Public sector”?

    2. That’s not really a choice, P.

  5. Well, the first real check to government power in the West was the constant jockeying between the Church and the various monarchs and emperors of the Middle Ages for temporal power. Indeed, the modern notion of individual rights and liberty grew from Christian teachings regarding the dignity of all people due to their ability to participate in the universal priesthood of Christ.

    It’s no coincidence that liberal democracy never independently arose in regions whose majority faith aligned with the State in the exercise of temporal power, rather than competing against it (e.g. Islam and the Sultans, Confucianism and the emperors). So, certainly it’s healthy for society to maintain religion as a pole opposite to the state as a source of authority. That in the modern age religious organizations are voluntary associations makes them even more attractive as allies to those who want to fight for liberty.

    1. Inkblots|12.20.09 @ 8:34PM|#
      “Well, the first real check to government power in the West was the constant jockeying between the Church and the various monarchs and emperors of the Middle Ages for temporal power. Indeed, the modern notion of individual rights and liberty grew from Christian teachings regarding the dignity of all people due to their ability to participate in the universal priesthood of Christ.”

      For starters, that theory pretty much ignores Hellenistic history (and trade; “Hellenistic Economies”, Archibald et al) where many of the poli were not authoritarian either from state or religious power. Quite possibly other cultures were as free; I’ll defer to those with knowledge of them.
      Further, other readings of western history suggest that since the Roman collapse, there has always been a triangular struggle between church, state and commerce (see, I think, “The History of Money”, Weatherford for one view), and Luther simply opened a gap between the two coercive forces which then allowed commerce and human prosperity to thrive.
      So, no, I have strong doubts that the church(es) intended freedom; they simply failed to maintain their coercive primacy.

    2. The Church of England doesn’t seem to quite fit into that analysis.

  6. There is a certain overlap. For example, while I believe we have some moral duty not to go polluting our bodies with drugs and drink, I’m generally in favor of looser drug laws and people being allowed to sell medicinal marijuana by prescription. (If the kid comes home drunk or stoned, let the parents spank him and send him to bed without any supper. That’s how we used to handle the problem.)

    Also, while some of my fellow believers are always on some campaign or other to get something into schools or keep something out, I’m convinced the real solution to all our complaints about school is to abolish government schools altogether by privatizing them; then we can put in or keep out whatever we want from our schools because they’ll truly be ours.

    You might think, to hear of all the viciousness over Proposition 8, that we and the queers are always at each other’s throats, and you’d be right. However, we could also table a lot of those disputes if we could only get government out of the social engineering business. It’s the queers’ continuing efforts to impose more and more of their agenda on us through the state and our retaliation against them through the same channels that’s causing all the trouble. If adoption, marriage, and education were all privatized, you’d be amazed how quickly these disputes would die.

    Really, if you want to get more people to listen to you, you ought to focus on promoting privatization more than any other libertarian policy; it’s a good deal for virtually everyone but the state.

    1. A Christian, “we and the queers are always at each other’s throats, and you’d be right…If adoption, marriage, and education were all privatized, you’d be amazed how quickly these disputes would die.” Hell, nonsense. The problem many Christians have with “queers” is just that they are “queer”. If everything were privatized would they no longer exists? Btw, I am not “queer” but I don’t have time to mind their business just as they don’t have time to mind mine.

      1. I’d say your pederastic Safe School Czar Kevin Jennings and Fistgate pretty much prove your statist faggot buddies have plenty of time (and taxpayer dollars) to mind other people’s business, you lying bitch.

        1. Stop Lying Bitch, It would be inacurate to call Mr. Jennings my school czar due to the fact I never voted for the Dems. Lying bitch? How old are you?

      2. I’m not sure what to make of “A Christian’s” use of “queer” here, but I’m not sure it’s actually used in the derogative way you seem think it is (I’m assuming that’s the reason for the scare quotes) since it is the current term of art used in unis and so forth. But in any event, it doesn’t change the essential soundness of the point: it both sides agreed to take it out of the governmental realm where things are forced on one side or the other they could still disagree vehemently but the stakes would be taken way down since it would no longer be a winner-takes-all battle.

        1. Untermensch,”but the stakes would be taken way”. The unchristian views of radical/fundamentalist people are not dissipated by game changes.

          1. You’ll get no argument about that from me, but it does make a difference if the government is in the position to telling those on either side that they must, sub poena, honor something that they believe to be wrong (either way). When that absolutist position is no longer being enforced, then the stakes aren’t so high, and both sides can afford to relax a little.

            Compare the effectiveness of “the government is going to force us to recognize gay marriage” versus “some gays say they’re married” as political rallying cries. The second one will get some folks upset, but nowhere near what the first one would.

            1. I understand your comparison but the reality is that government is in the marriage business. If gay people want to marry then God bless them.

  7. God, would I like to transport Mr Asshole Cavanaugh back to the Middle Ages. How he would long for the modern state.

    1. Yeah, like the Middle Ages could happen again.

      You are a real schmuck, Morris.

      1. Morris only likes “the modern state” when it’s run by his kind…

    2. God, would I like to transport Mr Asshole Cavanaugh back to the Middle Ages.

      Give Obama more time. Real progress was made at Copenhagen. Keep your fingers crossed, Edward.

  8. If adoption, marriage, and education were all privatized, you’d be amazed how quickly these disputes would die.

    That’s a BIG if, but this queer agrees in principle. He just thinks that such an outcome is really unlikely and therefore understands the suspicion that other queers have of such ideas.

    PS. This queer also lives in a large urban area and hears lots of libertarian-friendly beliefs from friends and others that nevertheless don’t get expressed at the ballot-box because of the stranglehold that social conservatives have over the only *viable* party that pays lip-service to such principles. In other words, despite the presence of “fringe” third parties on most ballots, nobody votes for them even if they most closely match their beliefs.

    1. I suggested to a local GLBT group that they should focus more on domestic partnership reform, and forget the idea of getting a permission slip (marriage license) from the local government.

      Some of them liked the concept, but most are adamant about breaking the marriage barrier. My argument is “if you had all the legal protections of marriage, why ask for a piece of paper? Just get a ceremony done at the local Unitarian church or something”, but they’re pretty stubborn on getting that permission slip.

      1. You cannot possibly get all the legal protections of marriage without a permission slip from the federal government. It’s just like that. If a US citizen marries an opposite-sex foreigner, the foreign spouse gets a right to live and work in the USA right away. Shortly after that the foreign spouse can become a US permanent resident and eventually a US citizen. No domestic partnership anywhere in the US, nor same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, or Iowa lets a US citizen bring a spouse of the same gender from abroad. It’s all nice and good to argue that the government should be out of the marriage business, but everyone concerned with the issue knows that this is not gonna happen. It’s nothing but a re-iteration of the stale libertarian talking points.

  9. Right, as long as you assume that the “queers” were the ones who decided that the state should be involved in those things then your argument makes perfect sense. They decided that states should issue marriage licenses? As for anyone that believes that religious groups are a bulwark against state power I wonder how you square that with what happened to Terry Shaivo. Her family made a decision, but all the religious “small government” supporters did everything they could to get the state and federal government involved in a family affair.

    1. Terry Schiavo’s blood relations were completely at odds with her husband.The courts sided with her affinial kin while other officials sided with her consanguineal kin.Her husband and the courts ultimately prevailed.

      1. Yeah, I don’t know that the Schaivo case is a good example. The family was not in agreement in the decision and it was the state taking one side over the other, and using force to impose that side’s will. The involvement of outside religious groups was what was most hyped but not at the center of the dispute. It was the woman’s parents’ wishes versus what her husband said were hers.

        1. “When is that bitch gonna die?”

          That Satanic shitbag Michael Schiavo and every fellow “Libertarian” of his who admires him for the legal murder of his wife should all be dropped in the middle of the Sahara Desert and left to die of dehydration in punishment for their cold-blooded torture and murder. Fuck you for taking their side, faggot.

          1. Not sure who that’s directed at, but okay. I was pretty careful not to show which side I was on since that wasn’t the purpose of my comment, and I don’t think SIV showed his/her hand, either.

  10. Are social conservatives aligned in some non-incidental way with believers in small government?

    Only to the extent that individuals who hold some social conservative views also believe in small government in other areas of life. I’d say most so-cons are also fiscal conservatives, but there are plenty of people who hold one view without the other.

  11. If only the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops would get serious about the principle of subsidarity . . .

  12. I think Stupak is just angling for a big juicy piece of pork like the last holdout in the Senate got.

    Stupak will vote for the health care bill if the bribe gets big enough to give him political cover.

  13. Evangelicals,Pentecostals,Mormons,Catholics,conservative mainline Protestants etc. don’t share much agreement in matters of theology.

    They actually hold virtually identical religious beliefs, but choose to emphasize the differences.

  14. “It seems to me that people exercising religious cussedness have done more to roll back the state’s power to suppress individual freedom than any other group you can name.”

    So…using civil law to enforce biblical law never, ever happened here? Really, that’s the most absurd statement I’ve ever heard. The SoCons only want the “freedom” to have their views given the power of law. No different from anyone else really, though.

    1. Liberals like to control people’s lives, too… they generally don’t do it on religious principles, though.

      1. And worse, the Left is unrestrained by anything even resembling Holy Scripture. With them, you are totally at the mercy of the port-side zeitgeist.

        1. Well, do remember that some use “my brother’s keeper” as an excuse to bastardize the general-welfare line…

          1. This Biblical phrase taken out of context that comes to us courtesy of… (drumroll, please) …Cain, the world’s very first murderer!

            (When God asked him about his brother Abel, Cain pretended he didn’t know where he was or what had become of him. “I don’t know! What, am I my brother’s keeper?”)

            Those liberals sure know how to pick their Holy Scripture, don’t they?

            Incidentally, if the world truly is atheistic, neither free will nor morality are truly capable of existing in it and therefore libertarianism is logically absurd. You can’t prove you have any right not to be reprogrammed if all you are is an organic machine, subject to the same kind of absolute physical predetermination as any other kind of machine.

            In other words, unless your mind is actually a soul in that immaterial world where abstractions such as free will exist, something like what’s described in Holy Scripture or at least like one of Plato’s forms, you have no free will and the liberals have every reason to pull your strings. (Your only consolation–if you can truly call it that–is that nature is pulling their strings too and liberals aren’t really in control of anything they do either.)

            1. Tying lack of free will on atheism is complete bullshit as religious references have heavy restrictions to free will also (or are shepards supposed to allow their flock to go where they want?). Any social arrangement constrains activity, in the past most social arrangements have organized themselves around religious beliefs and therefore limit debate (catholicism is as much as religion as AGW). True atheism (as likely as pure libertarianism) is the willingness to question assumed beliefs. That people lack the capability is obvious (we’ll graft on to whatever social convention nets us the most inclusion and acceptance for the most part) but saying that atheism eliminates “free will” and the religion and the belief of a “god built soul” establishes it is logical fallacy at best.

            2. Interestingly to this discussion, the modern translation of “keeper” here, and the one that gets at the meaning of the biblical passage, would be babysitter, or, get ready, “nanny”. So, in modern parlance, Cain’s statement there would be something like “How the hell should I know? What do you think I am, my brother’s nanny?” I’ve never understood the mainstream Christian use of this phrase as a positive thing. All I can pin it on is the fact that they have no idea what Cain is really asking. Now if libs are using that phrase in a positive sense, you can see where it leads: the nanny state.

            3. In other words, unless your mind is actually a soul in that immaterial world where abstractions such as free will exist, something like what’s described in Holy Scripture or at least like one of Plato’s forms, you have no free will and the liberals have every reason to pull your strings.

              Wow, should have read all your comment before replying. Did you come up with that all on your own or did you get it from Brother Ray Bob Tom? I’ve seldom seen a statement that betrays such utter and unashamed ignorance of the arguments surrounding free will, theism, atheism and the like. If you want to argue with people about their beliefs and philosophy, it helps if you have even the faintest clue what those beliefs are, but you clearly think that your Sunday School version captures everything.

              For what it’s worth, I’m a believer, but I get really tired in a big hurry of stupid cant like yours that makes believers look like complete and utter morons who don’t have a clue about the real arguments for (or against) belief or atheism. If I ever debate theism or atheism, remind me to start my defense with “please disregard everything Religious Reference may ever have said on this topic”. It’s sad that as a believer I usually have a lot more sympathy for the arguments of atheists, most of whom have actually thought about the issue long enough to have a position and understand it and don’t think they can get everything from a five-minute sermon.

              There are a lot of substantive arguments in both directions, but you aren’t getting at any of them.

            4. Absolute physical predetermination?

              That’s been banished from the scientific world for a century. Modern science is full of phenomena that are strictly impossible, even in theory, to predict.

    2. But at least the constitution explicitly spells out the freedom to chose one’s religion, which implies freedom from someone else choosing your religion.

      Conversely, the constitution says nothing about the freedom to be “ungreen” and/or politically incorrect and/or fat and unhealthy, so the libs don’t have that as a check on their power like the social conservatives do.

      1. Well-put, NAL.

      2. Good point. And wasn’t that one of the arguments against the Bill of Rights at the time? That the naming of some rights would falsely imply that unnamed rights don’t matter? We need to have the 10th Amendment tattooed backwards on the foreheads of Obama, Reid, and Pelosi so that they are forced to see it in the mirror every morning.

  15. I can’t endorse Rubin’s use of a hyphen after an adverb

    Always with the grammar critique, Tim.

  16. Are social conservatives aligned in some non-incidental way with believers in small government?

    Yes. Historically, serious religious types did not believe that the state or the king had any business meddling in the commerce between men.

    1. prohibition?
      Have you read any history books?

      1. Prohibition was a progressive cause largely advanced by women,alongside suffrage, as afeminist issue.

        The Bible lacks supporting scripture for alcohol prohibition.

        Now what’s this “history” you were talking about?

        1. so no temperence movements?
          no religious support for prohibition?
          no non drinking christian sects?

          the history comment was mainly directed at the hundreds of years evidence that religious leaders were happy to meddle in or support kings in meddling in commerce.

    2. …except when the religious zealots were in control. Historically the religious zealots (catholics, puritans, amish, mormons, southern baptists, etc) have been in the minority and have thusl functioned as loud oppositions to creeping government restrictions on them and thus tangentially embraced the causes of freedom (at a federal level) embraced by libertarians. As soon as they gained majorities in their respective areas, they embraced a great deal of freedom restricting policies more aligned with their own beliefs however.

  17. So you’re saying if the abortion stuff wasn’t in the bill that all Republicans would be gungho over it? Don’t bogart that joint!

  18. Social conservatives dislike government telling them how to live their lives.

    That gives them more cause with anti-statists than statists.

    There is the smaller number who want to tell others how to live, but that is not as highly valued as having their own freedom.

    1. The vast majority of social conservatives do seem to want to tell other people how to live their lives and if possible force them to live in a way that they approve of.
      I would imagine large numbers of people who call themselves liberterian are very conservative in their own habits but unlike religious groups don’t want to force others to do as they do.
      I appreciate the argument in the article but all you have to do is look at other countries to see that religious groups are only for their own freedom and not for anyone elses.

  19. “It seems to me that people exercising religious cussedness have done more to roll back the state’s power to suppress individual freedom than any other group you can name.”

    “Once abolish the God and the government becomes the God.”
    G. K. Chesterton

    1. Mmmmm, tasty moral relativism…

  20. If a US citizen marries an opposite-sex foreigner, the foreign spouse gets a right to live and work in the USA right away. Shortly after that the foreign spouse can become a US permanent resident and eventually a US citizen.

    Hate to quibble when your point is about the unjust treament of same sex couples by ICE, but, actually, no. It takes ICE at least six months to get around to issuing foreign born spouses a Green Card and can take as much as two years or even more. Until the Green Card is issued the spouse has neither the right to live nor work in the US and even coming for a visit can complicate things.

  21. Tim Cavanaugh and many of the posters here make a lot of sense.

    I would like to quibble, however, with Cavanaugh’s use of the term ‘shared beliefs’ – as if people need to have shared beliefs on philosophical issues before they can work together politically.

    Before we even reach the question of shared beliefs, we should note that in present-day circumstances, libertarians and social conservatives have *common enemies.* In and of itself, this is enough to justify a political alliance.

    Think about it – the administration wants to consolidate federal government’s control over the U.S. health-care system, and in the course of doing so, it is abandoning the principles of the Hyde Amendment – no federal support for elective abortions. These principles are endorsed by both libertarians and social conservatives. And social conservatives who theoretically support big government have discovered that there is a connection between big government and subsidies for abortion.

    Stupak has not yet sold out like Senator Ben Iscariot, and until he does, shouldn’t he get the support of even secular libertarians? Stupak is standing up for the Hyde Amendment principles which libertarians have specifically endorsed.

    Having said that, there are a lot of people who are both socially conservative *and* dedicated to the American freedom philosophy. For example, I think there’s a Congressman from Texas who takes such a both/and approach.

    I happen to think there’s a link between virtue and America’s freedom philosophy. As Frank Meyer discussed, you need one to have the other.

    1. I happen to think there’s a link between virtue and America’s freedom philosophy. As Frank Meyer discussed, you need one to have the other.

      Depends on how you define virtue. It’s like reading Machiavelli’s The Prince: most of the interpretive difficulties in it center around what to make of the word virt?.

      If by “virtue” you mean the simultaneously watered-down and pimped out version that most contemporary social conservatives take it for, then I disagree. If you take in the older sense of being actively engaged in the political sphere and taking principled action, then I agree. (Virtue is ultimately derived from the Latin vir ‘man’ and meant manliness and strength, not sexual purity.)

      But one need not agree on specifics of sexual morality to embrace a pro-freedom stance, even if many social conservatives don’t want to distinguish between libertarians and libertines.

  22. No one seems to have anything to say about the Jews. Commentary is a Jewish mag, right? …even though most Jews seem to be liberals.

    I guess that means if you don’t like the liberals, you’re anti-Semitic. Oh, and since most blacks are fairly religious, if you’re anti-religious, you’re a racist.

  23. Before we even reach the question of shared beliefs, we should note that in present-day circumstances, libertarians and social conservatives have *common enemies.* In and of itself, this is enough to justify a political alliance.

    Until libertarians come to understand this, we are doomed to political irrelevance.

    It doesn’t matter why a politican votes yea or nay; it only matters that the bill passes or fails.

    1. Gotta disagree with that, because the rhetoric used to achieve it has repercussions. Let’s assume for a moment that a bill to abolish the Fed passes. Great, right? But now let’s assume it’s passed by a movement that gets significant public support to abolish it because they have got the public to buy into the notion that Oral Roberts University is now going to be put in charge of the economy and that this is the necessary first step towards achieving that goal. Would libertarians be right to cheer that vote because the why doesn’t matter? (I admit the example is absurd, but the right thing can be done for the wrong reason with long-term negative consequences.)

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