The Crisis of Our Times

"Not by force of arms are civilizations held together, but by subtle threads of moral and intellectual principle." -Russell Kirk

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Prof. Fleming on the retiring Douglas Feith

"Feith, remember, is the man who (with Richard Perle and David Wurmser) wrote a policy memorandum for the Netanyahu government, urging Bibi to ignore the United States and show no mercy to the Palestinians—a memo written by American citizens in the first person, as in “We in Israel . . . ” Although the year was only 1996, the “Americans” called for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Feith is also the genius who suggested that the United States was not bound by the Geneva Convention. He also drew up the new rules for interrogation so memorably exploited by those sweet kids with cameras at Abu Ghraib. Feith is also accused of leaking his own memo, linking Saddam Hussein with Al Qaeda, to the Weekly Standard. When Dick Cheney quoted the Standard’s article as proof that the administration had been right along, the circle of disinformation was closed."

-Thomas Fleming

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Chris Check's post on chroniclesmagazine.org

Thirty-seven years ago, a quiet gentlemen from Northern Italy named Giovanni Battista Montini caused a big stir with a little pamphlet. The stir was not because his pamphlet said anything new, but because many people were hoping that it would say something new, and it did not. Instead, it courageously restated what the world had known for—I do not exaggerate—thousands of years. History remembers Giovanni Battista Montini as Pope Paul VI and his pamphlet as Humanae Vitae, the papal encyclical that confirmed what the Catholic Church (and all Protestant churches until 1930) had always taught: Artificial contraception is intrinsically evil.It's not altogether true that Humanae Vitae said nothing new. Expanding on centuries of Church teaching, the document laid bare in a manner that can only be described as prophetic what was in store for a world that embraced contraception: "conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality."It's hard to argue with Paul VI. The Pill may not be the only reason that Americans tolerate Oval Office scandals, Viagra and Victoria Secret ads during football games, "reality" shows that make a circus out of marriage, and the reality that one in four high-school students will graduate with a sexually transmitted disease, but, as Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has written, the sexual revolution, and the consequent cultural "unraveling," would not have been "possible or sustainable without easy access to reliable contraception."Contraception, however, did more than enable the sexual revolution; it inspired it. As Paul VI warned, a man using contraception will "forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires." If you doubt that this exploitation of women has come to pass, then you must be unaware of the $12 billion American (or $57 billion worldwide) pornography industry and the marriages it has destroyed.Paul VI also warned that contraception would become "a dangerous weapon . . . in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies." If a husband and wife could sterilize themselves on the grounds that another child would break their limited means, the Pope concluded that governments could apply the same solution to "the problems of the community." Overpopulation. Crime. Feeblemindedness. Take your pick. Americans might find Pope Paul's warnings a little fantastic until they discover that controlling the populations of the Third World is a central element of our own national-security policy.When we contrast the promised benefits of contraception (spontaneity, romance, pleasure) with the realities that Paul VI predicted (divorce, adultery, political tyranny, even disease), we should not be surprised to discover that the proliferation of contraception has done nothing to slow abortion. On the contrary, the former leads to the latter. It's easy enough to see how abortion steps in when contraception all too frequently fails. But the more profound relationship between contraception and abortion is this: Both are a deliberate rejection of human life, the true end of marriage. Marriage begins as an act of love, the total gift of oneself to another. The child is the fruit of this love. Contraception deforms marriage into an arena of self-gratification or lust, to use a word out of fashion. What is the bitter fruit of lust? Abortion.Yesterday, we marked the 32nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's creation, out of whole cloth, of a mother's "right" to kill her baby. If you fear for the soul of a nation that promotes this "right" to the tune of some million-and-a-half innocent babies a year, here is my suggestion: Read Humanae Vitae, toss out your pills and prophylactics, and (if you are married, of course) have another baby. Bringing a child into the world is the most pro-life thing you can do.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Mr. Bush Should Start Listening To Conservatives

"The danger inherent in reform is that the cure may be worse than the disease. Reform is an operation on the social body; but unlike medical surgeons, reformers are not on guard against unpredictable side effects which may divert the course of reform toward unwanted results. Moreover, quite often the social doctors become part of the disease."

Eric Hoffer

A Few Encouraging Words from Waylon Jennings

There are still places where people like me can hang out
With nothing at all in this whole world to worry about
They ain't tore 'em all down yet and said every man for himself
or polished them up until nothing worth keeping is left

They ain't got 'em all
If you try here and there you'll still find a few holes in the wall
Their an endangered species but I'm keeping track
I can tell you that they ain't got 'em all

There are still women who can walk up and change your whole world
Who don't even know they're impossibly beautiful girls
Who for some crazy reason will hold you so close in the night
Til nothing else matters and you finally start feeling all right

They ain't got 'em all
They're still there and their wantin' and wonderfully willing to fall
There an endangered species but I'm keeping track
I can tell you that they ain't got 'em all

Waylon Jennings from The Complete MCA Recordings

Isn't it funny...

Isn't it funny--sadly funny--that those who call their selves conservatives distrust the federal government to spend their tax dollars, distrust it to manage the economy, distrust it to provide universal healthcare, but they welcome in full faith when the federal government tells them of their endeavors to reform the world into a flourishing democracy (a very conservative proposal, I do say).

I'm starting to see Mr. Mill's point.


Tom Piatak's post at chroniclesmagazine.org

"Over at NRO, Victor Davis Hanson admits that Bush’s inaugural speech represents “the first time that an American president has committed the United States to side with democratic reformers worldwide,” belying any claim that Bush’s speech is in any way conservative. But Hanson still praises Bush’s “idealism” and scoffs at the “moral calculus” of Bush’s critics, even though Hanson feels that, if Bush is serious about his rhetoric, we are heading for confrontation with Iran, China, Russia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and doubtless much of the rest of the globe."

"Of course, Bush’s critics would have to include
the Founding Fathers, none of whom envisioned America’s role in the world as spreading democracy around the globe at gunpoint. They would also include those of us appalled at the pictures out of Tal Afar in Iraq yesterday, where a U.S. patrol opened fire on a car, killing the parents and making orphans out of the five children in the car. Particularly poignant was the picture of a young girl, crying and covered in her parents’ blood. No amount of “idealism” can justify what happened to her, and the responsibility for her situation rests not with the soldiers who fired on her parents’ car—who are only seeking to defend themselves in a hostile and unfamiliar environment—but on those who sent the soldiers there in the first place, beginning with the “idealist” at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Perhaps a good place to begin our moral calculus would be by opposing unnecessary wars that inevitably result in death, mayhem, and images like those out of Tal Afar, and by critically examining the gauzy abstractions used to justify such wars."

Tom Piatak

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Radical Conservatism...Unpatriotic?

"The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair."

H. L. Mencken

G.K. Chesterton on the Patriotism of the Empire loving Rudyard Kipling



"He admires England, but he does not love her; for we admire things with reasons, but love them without reason. He admires England because she is strong, not because she is England."

G. K. Chesterton

The brilliant Chesterton's words help remind us about those among us who have no patriotism for their country, those who can barely muster up enough love for their wife or husband--if that. Just as many of these people--more in my experience--have the tendency to call theirselves "conservatives" as they do "liberal", so these words have little meaning any more. Let us now be divided into the Patriotic (lovers of our Country) and the Unpatriotic (admirers of power and haters of their land).

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Reflecting on NeoConservatism

“I had expected the Neoconservatives to address themselves to the great social difficulties of the U.S. today, especially to the swelling growth of a dismal urban proletariat, and the decay of the moral order. Instead, with some exceptions, their concern has been mainly with the gross national product and with ‘global wealth.’ They offer few alternatives to the alleged benefits of the Welfare State, shrugging their shoulders and the creed of most of them is no better than a latter-day Utilitarianism. I had thought that the Neoconservatives might become the champions of diversity in the world instead, they aspire to bring about a world of uniformity and dull standardization, Americanized, industrialized, democratized, logicalized, boring. They are cultural and economic imperialists, many of them.”

Russell Kirk reflecting on NeoConservatives

...perhaps I too am not a conservative.

"Another consideration that must be addressed: what does imperialism do to the constitutional design of our country? Murray Rothbard and Robert Higgs were both right to stress a general incompatibility between limited constitutional government and expanding empires. Imperial crusades make it harder to counteract consolidated managerial government. They push forward the cumulative process by which a once self-restrained regime, based on checks and balances, is turned into a unified engine of foreign expansion."

"The American statesman who made this argument best in the twentieth century was Robert Taft. Unlike Goldberg, Taft never described himself as a “conservative.” But if Goldberg and his social democratic globalist companions are “conservatives,” then perhaps I too am not a conservative."

Paul Gottfried in "Jonah, We Hardly Knew Ye!"

Hunt for WMDs over...try again?

Its old news by now, but the hunt for Iraqi WMD's is now over. It has been reported that "Bush has expressed disappointment that no weapons or weapons programs were found." Don't worry though folks, we'll try again in Iran. And if not there, we'll go to Korea (Third times a charm). Check out The National Review Online for feeble war appologetics (poor magazine hasn't been worth reading since Peter Brimelow and Sobran left). It was recently reported in The Times that the National Review has (in an editorial) had a change of heart and started critizing the War for Iraqi Democracy. I haven't read the article yet, but those ladies and gents out there in hawkland may have to stick with Bill Kristol and the Weekly Standard. They haven't even had a second thought about our cakewalk war, even as more and more conservatives wake from their lapse of reason. Kristol dosen't care "If we [neoconservatives] have to make common cause with the more hawkish liberals and fight the conservatives, that is fine with me." He dosen't care as long as there's a good fight to be fought (and there will be he assures--even if he has to make up reasons).

Stay Tuned. And Remember boys and girls, America is always in Danger as long as there's another country in the world (and there's only one way we can take care of that).

Saturday, January 15, 2005

An Endorsement for Global Free Trade

"The protective system . . . is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive. It breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point ... [T]he free trade system hastens the social revolution. It is in this revolutionary sense alone . . . that I vote in favor of free trade."

Karl Marx 1848

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Sir Walter Scott on NeoCon's, poetically speaking

Canto Sixth
I
Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,Who never to himself hath said,"This is my own, my native land!"Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,As home his footsteps he hath turned,From wandering on a foreign strand!If such there breathe, go, mark him well;For him no Minstrel raptures swell;High though his titles, proud his name,Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;Despite those titles, power, and pelf,The wretch, concentred all in self,Living, shall forfeit fair renown,And, doubly dying, shall go downTo the vile dust, from whence he sprung,Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

On Being a Conservative

"To be conservative is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss."

Michael Oakeshott


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Does Cholesterol Kill Corporations Too?

The Following article was submitted to the Wayne Review, Wayne State University's "conservative" publication, and rejected on the basis that most readers would not "get" the tongue and check presentation or "get" the "insider" terms (whatever they may be).

With a plethora of health risks being uncovered by our first-class medical field, many are choosing to cut certain portions out of their diet. No egg yolk. Only skim milk. Non-fat lattes. And don't mention bacon thats been off the table for months, especially after the cuts in AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) programs. At this rate I suspect America may be off the prominent list of the World's fattest in a few years time. I foresee a skinnier, perhaps healthier, America on the horizon. Then again, I'm no economist.

As you and I get healthier or as you at least do the fat cats in the big business show no concern for the medical warnings. They eat the bacon and, in most cases, the grease too. These corporate moguls know their way around a pork chop buffet and dinners on us. And it's going to cost us $125 billion. Or so is the estimated amount of Corporate Welfare the real pork that these companies will enjoy this year. As Time Magazine has reported, the corporate giants by the name of AT&T, Bechtel, Boeing, and General Electric account for about 40% of all this. And you were complaining about the welfare queen with the Cadillac down the street.

This particular cuisine has more variety than your favorite Italian restaurant your representatives have better imaginations than you think. Subsidies, grants, real estate discounts (or giveaways), low-interest loans, government services, and (our favorite) tax breaks are all on the menu. There's more to pork than meets the eye. And to spice it up just for effect it all comes under a nice name like Economic Development or Public-Private Partnerships. It's a tasty regale for your average corporate tycoon; pretty tempting to an average student also, I must admit. Unfortunately, the average student or for that matter the average American isn't eligible to eat so well at another's expense.

Seems unfair, doesn't it? These powerful and politically influential corporations get government handouts and special deals at the expense of taxpayers and you and I get, well, student loans. Nice, but I'd still rather have the million dollar grants. Outside of my own selfish desires, though, I can see the justification for our low interest loans. They allow us to obtain the degree of our choice, enhancing our possibilities for employment with a higher wage; thus creating payers of a higher income tax, which then will, apparently, go to fund the next acquisition of our corporate employers. True, a cynical analogy of a scheme that I do benefit from, but an analogy that can be backed up by statistics.

The justification for corporate welfare usually revolves around the prospect of creating jobs more importantly the prospect of getting us employed. It's a noble prospect, which I could support, if it worked. The big four AT&T, Bechtel, Boeing, and General Electric who benefited from the 40% of corporate welfare, as reported by Time, also saw overall employment (fall) 38% as more than a third of a million jobs disappeared. This may not be so for all beneficiaries but according to the Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), a non-profit organization that specialize in this sort of thing, corporate welfare may increase jobs in one State or Municipal but hasn't, in the long term, created more overall jobs in the nation. Corporations, considering relocation, simply wait for the highest bidder creating more jobs in one area only by taking them away from another. There's no overall benefit for anyone except for the pork eaters and the politicos they get into office.

We might as well get use to having lighter pockets from funding a corporatist state. It doesn't appear to concern many politicians. We have seen reforms--which admittedly I blessed--on the old social welfare system, which as CAGW said didn't work, destroyed incentive, perpetuated dependence and distorted the economy. Politicians pushed through these reforms happily. But in regards to corporate welfare benefits,which honestly have the same results, the handouts keep growing and going to the most powerful businesses (I presume poor citizens don't contribute much to campaign funds).

A skinnier and fitter America may never be fully realized. The fat cats prefer their high cholesterol diet. The fact that these hand outs destroy incentive and negatively effect the corporations ability to stand on their own two feet, seems to impress very few. At any rate, I doubt size 48 Armani belts will go out of style any time soon.

A Momentary Lapse of Reason: Conservatives in the War Party

The Following Article was Published in The Wayne Review, Wayne State University's "conservative" publication, in its September 2004 issue.

The bugle sounds. The charge begins. And on the battlefield our guy, the good guy, always wins. Its also fitting that the good guy is exactly that, by the virtue of his always being right. Combat is always a noble endeavor. And the cause is always clearly just. Or so it was in the romanticized novels I loved as a child when such visions seemed real. Unfortunately, these idealized pictures faded as the child became aware of the actual realities of the twentieth century--the senseless wars, the foreign policy catastrophes, and the lack of respect for the wisdom of the past.

I would like to say that such realities disillusioned me into the conservative I am now, but my evolution was much more subtle though these aspects surely made their mark. To some folks reading this, the idea that my awakening to the realities of war (and world) had an effect on the creation of a greater conservative tendency in my heart, sounds illogical. Maybe it should; especially to those most familiar with the Hannitys, OReillys, and Bushs out there. But conservatism has always had the tendency to rail against war, sometimes with great reaction and still today a large pocket rail against the stupidity of our foreign entanglements.

The fact that the conservative movement spurred out of the ashes of WWII with a suspicious eye on war and those who called for it enlightens few. The names Richard Weaver, George Santayana, and Murray Rothbard, perhaps do less. But the words of Russell Kirk should vibrate through the core of every conservative mind. In The Politics of Prudence, Kirk wrote that a "soundly conservative foreign policy, in the age which is dawning, should be neither interventionist nor isolationist: it should be prudent. Its object should not be to secure the triumph everywhere of Americas name and manners, under the slogan of democratic capitalism, but instead the preservation of the true national interest, and acceptance of the diversity of economic and political institutions throughout the world." It followed that Dr. Kirk steadily and warningly opposed the Persian Gulf War of 1991.

Currently, we are back in the Gulf under the pretense to end terrorism foreverwhat connection the country had to the 9/11 attacks I am ignorant of, though the Weekly Standard tries to inform me. The weapons of mass destruction that we knew were there, arent--at least not until we brought them over and proceeded to destabilize a once semi-stable country. We ended a brutal tyranny, true but it was a secular tyranny with a predictable hunger to remain in control, which feared the fundamentalists who would prefer to overthrow Mr. Hussein in favor of a theocracy. If we wish to fight terrorism, it might be a good idea to not increase the chances of the formation of a terrorist state by destroying a secular country in the hotbed of the Middle East.

Or so is my thought--though the Goldbergs, Bennetts, and DSouzas tell me Im wrong. These conservatives seem partial to the Soviet ideal of a benevolent global hegemony, as long as the U.S. plays big brother. These modern Alexanders ignore the tragic fates that every empire in history procured. They ignore Russell Kirk. They blow off the Vatican. They disgrace the Constitution. They close their eyes to every conservative institution and tendency in the West.
Edmund Burke calls to these men, why engage in wars halfway around the world, at incalculable expense in men and money? They answer back to end tyranny around the world through Pax Americana. There is no question about how undesirable such a thing would be, nor do the consequences look positive from my perspective. The only question I have is how conservatives can be persuaded by an idea thats so hostile to conservatism. Id like to believe it is on account of a momentary lapse of reason. And I hope that conservatives and America recover from this lapse of reason, even just momentarily.