Sunday, June 30, 2013

Why?

Often in our public discourse (or national conversations as some people  put it), Progressives confront long established social conventions and institutions with the question, "Why?"





Implicit in the question is the idea that once it is asked, then the presumptive legitimacy of that social convention or institution suddenly evaporates. The burden shifts to the conservative justify the existence of such conventions and institutions, no matter how long standing they may be. This mindset manifested itself most recently on the issue of same sex marriage.

Progressives have asked "Why?" about many social conventions over the last few decades.

"Why do make securing a divorce so difficult?"

"Why do we criminalize adultery?"

"Why do we criminalize non-marital sex?"

"Why do we criminalize prostitution?'

"Why do we criminalize homosexual behavior?"

"Why do we forcibly remove  illegitimate children from birth mothers who cannot afford them and put them up for adoption?"

Good questions.

Today the rate of divorces is 50% of the rate of marriage.

Today the incomes of divorced women are only 2/3 of the income they had while married.

Today sexually transmitted diseases that once were nearly eliminated in this country are epidemics.

Today over 50% of births occur out of wedlock.

Today we have a more or less permanent underclass that has become a nursery of ignorance, drug abuse, crime, and financial dependence unworthy of any citizen in our republic.

That's why.



Friday, June 28, 2013

So What's Next?

Because of the Supreme Court's muddled and  inconsistent reasoning on the two recent cases involving same sex marriage, a strange state of affairs results from its decisions . In every state citizens may either through state laws or amendments to state constitutions determine which kind of marriages their state government will recognize save one-- California. In California, state law does NOT recognize marriage but the federal law, through the Court's application of the 14th amendment, federal law DOES protect it. Same sex couples in the remaining 49 states do not enjoy the constitutional protections  that those in California enjoy. In 12 states the laws recognizes same sex marriage; in 37 states, the laws do NOT recognize same sex marriage. (six states prohibit it by statute; 29 prohibit it in their constitutions.)

Huh?

As confusing and arbitrary as these circumstances appear, they do not trouble the justices on the Court. The Supreme Court will clear it up in the next couple of years by nationalizing same sex marriage.

 Justice Kennedy in his dissent from the majority on the Proposition 8 case gave some sound legal reasons why the Court should have granted the private lawyers defending the California initiative standing to argue the case before the Court. He probably entertains some other not so legal reasons,  however, to hear the case: he wants the Court  to establish the constitutional right of marriage for same sex couples and he wants to  write the majority opinion.

The rest of the court, however, is not quite ready. Making such a rule now would throw out state statutes and state constitutional amendments restricting marriage to heterosexuals  in 37 states. The Court wants to avoid as best they can the political and social conflicts that other controversial decisions have ignited. They all remember what happened to the reputation of the Court in the decades after they threw out death penalty statutes and statues outlawing or restricting abortions.

The Court will play a waiting game to see how many more states will enact legislation recognizing same sex marriage. At some point, the Court will accept an appeal from some same sex couple whose state forbids them from marrying. They will overturn all state laws restricting marriage to heterosexuals.

It's a strange way to amend our constitution. According to its provisions, a constitutional amendment requires the approval by 3/4 of the states after an amendment has been proposed by Congress through a 2/3 majority vote.

This, too, does not trouble the justices of the Court.

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that democratic majorities cannot enact laws reflecting their moral judgments when those laws infringe upon the Court's self-proclaimed prerogative to assert its own moral authority, should anyone be surprised?










Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Menage a Trois at the Supreme Court

Previous posts at Right Detour noted the Pew Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism findings that the mainstream media overwhelmingly provided same sex marriage advocates positive coverage at the expense of their opponents and neutrality. Equally important is the media message. The media has promoted the unquestioned assumption by same sex marriage advocates that their opponents suffer from some pathology (homophobia) or possess some irrational  hatred of homosexuals.

Consequently, while homosexuals make up only 2% to 4% of the population, they enjoy the support of powerful and influential advocates among the media elites of both journalism and entertainment.

Slowly but predictably, the political elites have embraced the cause and its messages. Judges in state and federal courts led the way, followed by politicians not so courageously leading from behind. High profile politicians, such as President Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and a assortment of representatives and senators from both parties who once opposed same sex marriage and supported the Defense of Marriage Act have jettisoned principle in the name of political expediency. Or is it one form of political expediency for another?

The recent decisions of the Supreme Court illustrated this trend. The state and lower federal courts, instead of confining themselves to the legal issues, have embraced this narrative of the "gay rights" movement. First, in California the judges agreed with the plaintiffs argument that Proposition 8 singled out homosexuals because of some irrational, unreasonable aversion. And now, with today's announcement from United States Supreme Court regarding Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, the justices, too, have embraced this "narrative."

In once case, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal from Proposition 8 supporters. In a strange decision the court, after accepting the appeal and hearing the arguments,declined to rule on the case and let the lower court's substantive findings stand. The court basically said that the lower federal court erred when it allowed private lawyers to defend Proposition 8 after the state authorities refused to do so. But then it turned around and refused to consider the constitutionality of the lower court's decision in ruling that  Proposition 8 violated the United States Constitution. Justice Roberts wrote that "for a federal court to have authority under the Constitution to settle a dispute, the party before it must seek a remedy for a personal and  tangible harm." The private lawyers arguing on behalf of Proposition 8 do not meet this criteria.

In sound dissent, Justice Kennedy attacked the shortsightedness of Roberts' opinion.

"The Court's reasoning does not take into account the fundamental principles or the practical dynamics of the initiative system in California, which uses the mechanism to control and to bypass public official--the same officials who would not defend the initiative, an injury this Court now leaves remedied."

In the second case, however, Kennedy's opinion borders on obscene.

In throwing out the Defense of Marriage Act, the court probably acted correctly. Marriage is a state institution; those of us who believe in our federal system and care to be consistent about it should not be bothered by DOMA's demise. In their opinion, however, the court went beyond the simple question of federalism and  injected the same vile and insidious assumptions promoted by the "gay rights" movement.

Kennedy's opinion portrayed the movement behind Proposition 8  as an  effort to single out, impose disability, make less worthy and less respected, and otherwise disparage same sex relationships. Kennedy forbids the public from legislating moral judgments; this power is reserved only for  the Supreme Court.

 In a scathing dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia attacked Kennedy's rhetoric and the presumption of superior moral judgement on the part of the majority of the Court and its characterization of supporters of Proposition 8 as bigots:

"In the majority's judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumably valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to disparage, injure, degrade, demean, and humiliate our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homosexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one this for a society to elect change; it is another for  court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race."

So there you have it. Regardless of whether you oppose same sex marriage because of biology, tradition, religion , hatred, or even if you think the idea is just plain silly, the Supreme Court considers you a "hater." That goes whether you are one of the many average citizens who already have learned to keep your mouth shut or whether you were one of the representatives, senators, or presidents who enacted and supported DOMA.

These words cited by Justice Scalia from the mendacious majority opinion hardly sound like the cool, reasoned, jurisprudential judgment. They resemble more the moans of ecstasy from that menage a trois involving "gay rights" advocates, media elites, and the politically powerful--the soundtrack, if you will, of political pornography.

h/t American Conservative


Monday, June 24, 2013

The Message

So what is the message sent by the mainstream media?

One should speak of messages. There are several different narratives.

The media has provided some attention to the basic legal arguments of the lawyers involved. The fact that the  legal team on the side of same sex marriage consists of the all-star duo of David Boies and Ted Olsen might account for the positive attention garnered by that side of the debate. Detailed exploration of the legal nuances of constitutional law by experts, however,  hardly will attract the same interest as programs devoted to, say, the Casey Anthony or George Zimmerman cases. Consequently, viewers instead watch sometimes informative but often superficial exchanges on how such ideas as equality and rights figure in the same sex marriage debate.

Indeed, equality and rights seems to be the central message of the media personalities who, like most of us, are unacquainted with the nuances of constitutional law. This also the message of the social media and "the street," whenever advocates for same sex marriage assert their claims. Usually the claims are not followed with any philosophical grounding; and no one in the mainstream media cares to ask for it.

If asked on what grounds same sex marriage is a right, what would be the reply? Because it is  a right? Because marriage is a right? Can one seek to establish a right simply by claiming it is a right?  How would someone like this respond to Jeremy Bentham's challenge from many years ago:

"In proportion to the want of happiness resulting form the want of rights, a reason exists for wishing that there were such things as rights. But reasons for wishing there were such things as rights, are not rights--a reason for wishing that a certain right were established, is not that right--want is not supply--hunger is not bread."

If asked on what grounds homosexual  marriages are equal to heterosexual marriages, what would be the reply? Because they are? Because they have equal rights (which take us in a circle.) What would they say to Aristotle's skeptical observation that:

"Democracy arose from men thinking that if they are equal in one respect, they are equal absolutely" 

And his claim that

"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal."

No one has asked. And in our nation's public philosophy, rights and equality resonate far more powerfully than any another words, and in the debate over same sex marriage, especially over tradition and religion.

The mainstream media and social media, however, also have carried a far more insidious message from same sex marriage supporters.

While creating a narrative of gentle gay people suffering from relentless bigotry and bullying, they have manifest themselves as  intense "haters" themselves.  Because they assume no reasonable person could possibly object to affection among same sex couples or  to experience revulsion at the sexual activities of homosexuals, they conclude that anyone who does object is unreasonable. They must suffer from some pathology: "homophobia." Or worse, they harbor some malicious hatred of homosexuals. Operating as if they something like the old Vulcan Mind Meld, same sex marriage advocates and their media facilitators claim the ability to gain access to the cognitive contents and emotional states of their opponents.






The most visible poster at "gay rights" rallies in opposition to the efforts of Californians to affirm the biological, historical, and religious basis of marriage in Proposition 8 summed up the sentiments of this inarticulate mob:  "Stop the H8." While most protests consisted of love fests, some protesters held up these posters over contorted faces and teeth clenched in rage. Some adopted proto-fascist posters like one:




While they thus accuse opponents of hatred, same sex marriage advocates label them bible thumping, medieval, knuckle dragging, neanderthals.   In order to make their own hating up close and personal, the "gay rights" advocates even sought to acquire the names of all persons and groups who contributed money to the campaign for Proposition 8. Those efforts were wisely rebuffed. Armed with those names, "gay rights" advocates would be converging on homes, churches, and businesses to spew their hatred face to face. They focused most of their animus at the Mormon Church, ignoring the majority of black voters that supported Proposition 8. Recognition of black opposition might threaten their meme that "gay is the new black."

This kind of intimidation accounts as much as anything else for the change in public opinion. Many people have not undergone any change in their hearts and minds; they have simply grown tired of name calling from "gay rights" activists. It adds a new dimension to the concept of "gay bullying."

The mainstream media has demonstrated itself to be effective facilitators of this message.

And now the courts, as will be shown in the next post, have strayed far beyond their primary focus of constitutional interpretation and now embrace this narrative.





Friday, June 21, 2013

The Medium

Last week the Pew Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism published a study that concludes what every conservative knows and affirms but that every progressive knows and denies:

The mainstream media overwhelming provided support for same sex marriage.

The study took place between March 18 and May 12 as the Supreme Court began hearings on two cases involving same sex marriage. The study examined about 500 news stories. According to the report, which you can find here, the mainstream media broadcast pieces that included statements supporting same sex marriage over those that opposed same sex marriage by a margin of five to one. The survey took place at the time the Supreme Court began hearings on cases involving same sex marriage.

According to the report, 47% of the stories focused on support for same sex marriage, 9% featured the opposition, and 44% appeared neutral or presented both sides of the issues. Broken down by outlet confirmed what most already knew and a few surprises. At MSNBC the respective figures were 64% proponents, 6% opponents, and 30% mixed or neutral. At FOX News, the alleged bastion of conservatism among mainstream media outlets, the breakdown was 29% proponents, 8% opponents, and 63% mixed or neutral.

The Pew reported separated social media for traditional news outlets. At Twitter, the numbers showed 31% supported same sex marriage, 28% opposed, and 42% neutral or mixed.

This confirms that view of most conservatives that this movement, like many movements both conservative and liberal,  remains driven by  elites-- in this case those in the mainstream media.

Its difficult to assess the influence of the media. In these days of multiple cable outlets, most views probably can and do find outlets that confirm their own perspectives on the political and social issues of the day. But there has been a swing in public opinion in support of same sex marriage. I do think this change can be attributed to cogent philosophical arguments. Most pieces feature the usual pundits bloviating on one side of the issue or the other,or they present a human interest angle on some devoted lesbian couple who has been denied their "right" to marry for the 20 years they have been together. It  more closely resembles  the old "bandwagon" technique of propaganda. When so many stories appear on so many outlets and so one sided in perspective, it does contribute to a growing conformity.

This becomes clearer when one examines "the message" in the next post.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Quantitatively Easing: Right Out of the Market

Ben Bernanke announced that depending upon economic performance in the coming year, he may reevaluate the extent to which the Federal Reserve will continue its policy of quantitative easing. The announcement sparked a huge sell off these last two days on Wall Street.

It indicates the lack of confidence of investors in the strength of the so-called economic recovery out of our Bush-Obama recession.

A billboard, I'd like to see, courtesy of Illboards.com :




Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Obama's Thin Red Line

A few months back, President Obama drew a "red line" on the use of chemical weapons in the civil war in Syria:


 

He warned of "enormous consequences" if Syria crossed that line.

Those consequences so far:  sending small arms to the rebels. If this is all there is to it, he looks pretty foolish.

We hardly need yet another intervention in some conflict raging within anther Muslim country. Senator John McCain tweeted out a worse policy: a no-fly zone. First, because some group decides to revolt against their government, that does not automatically create an obligation on our part to do anything about it. Second, we do not know the identity of many of these groups or their ultimate objective beyond ousting Bashar Hafez al-Assad.

Maybe we should simply express  one of those meaningless White House announcements about our wishes for a peaceful settlement that recognizes the rights of Syrian citizens and then shut up.

Drawing lines in the sand makes us either look foolish and impotent or will provoke us to actions that we will regret. They are no good for anyone.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire; Where There's Fog There's . . .

Amid the actual scandals putrefying within the Obama administration is the revelation that the National Security Agency has been collecting metadata on communications such as phone calls and internet traffic. Without additional, more shocking revelations, this may be more akin to fog dissipating with the morning rays of the sun rather than to smoke indicating a raging fire.

The British based Guardian has begun publishing a series of articles revealing probably what most Americans suspected: that our various intelligence agencies monitor phone and other communications media for indications of possible terrorist attacks. The articles have driven the news cover this last week and provoked everything from expressions of  "troubling" feelings to protestations of outrage from left and right. Conservatives should remember that this all takes place under the legal auspices of the Bush Administration's Patriot Act.

Until we know more, the news should keep us watching and waiting. The two programs in question, Prism and Boundless Informant,  gather and aggregate metadata on communications. Although the government says it does not gather content, the Prism program has that capability. And we remember that government already denied gathering an information on Americans:







Meanwhile, revelations about the identity of the whistle blower have generated more heat. Fox News and CNN both headlines the fallacious complex question about Edward Snowden:  Hero or Traitor?
We know something is not right when both Glen Beck and Michael Moore call him a hero. Senator Diane Feinstein called his action treasonous. Maybe Snowden is neither.

Snowden's case somewhat resembles that of the NSA. The security agency allegedly collects information about telephone and internet communication; it does not collect content. Similarly, Snowden and the Guardian has only revealed the fact (already suspected) that the NSA gathers metadata. If he has any access to it, Snowden has not as yet revealed any content of the data beyond the general workings of the data gathering and aggregating programs themselves. He can claim "innocence" on the same grounds as the government.

Watch and wait.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Sunday Review: What is Conservatism?

What is Conservatism?
Frank S. Meyer
New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1964


In the continuing search here at the Secular Square for the meaning of conservatism, a review of another of those "conservative classics" published during the formative years of the post-WWII "New Conservative" movement.

As previous reviews of other books note, the post-WWII conservative movement began as an intellectual movement that lacked unity. One of the first--and enduring--works sought the roots of conservatism in Europe. Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind traced conservatism from Edmund Burke through a line, or should I say, multiple lines of American successors. Early liberal critics argued that this was not conservatism at all. Other American conservatives such as Clinton Rossiter agreed.

William F. Buckley's National Review shortly afterword became the flagship periodical of the "New Conservatism." He provided a vehicle for traditionalists such as Kirk. He also offered considerable space to conservatives of a more "libertarian" view. One of Buckley's libertarian editors, Frank S. Meyer, strongly criticized the traditionalists and Russell Kirk in particular. (See here a review of his most detailed critique: In Defense of Freedom.

Meyer provided a more formal venue for traditionalist and libertarians to hash out their differences when he edited a collection of essays he entitled, What is Conservatism? (That's the question that I want answered!) Contributors include among others Frank Meyer,  Russell Kirk, M. Stanton Evans,  Garry Wills, Willmoore Kendall, and William F. Buckley.

Reviewing a book of essays by multiple authors may prove difficult, but here it goes.  If any coherent theme runs through these essays, it is the tension between the traditionalist and libertarian wings. The different writers express this tension in a variety of motifs: traditionalism vs. liberty, prescription vs. abstract reasoning, authority vs. autonomy, revelation vs. reason. And each author offers his solution to how the two wings can achieve theoretical or philosophical coherence. Most point back to James Madison and the Constitutional structure set up at Philadelphia in 1787 as common source for the two major streams of conservative thought.

A look at a handful of the essays will provide a sense of the tension.


Meyer's introductory piece, "Freedom, Tradition, and Conservatism" sets the theme for the essays that follow. The conflict within conservatism, according to Meyer, lay between

"those who abstract from the corpus of Western belief its stress upon freedom and upon the innate importance of the individual person (which we might call the libertarian position) and those who, drawing upon the same source, stress value and order (what we might call the traditionalist position.")

 Because both the libertarians and the traditionalists draw upon the same Western tradition, according to Meyer, the conflict between the two wings as one of emphasis. In Meyer's words, "when each side emphasizes so strongly the aspect of the great tradition of the West which it sees as decisive that distortion sets in."

Moreover, the tendency to see the libertarian and traditionalist views as antitheses  appears more frequently during what Meyer calls "this revolutionary era in which the tradition has suffered extensive subversion." This leads to his point of departure. This revolutionary era calls for restoration, not conservation.


This observation opens the door to reaffirming his criticism of the traditionalists. In earlier works Meyer criticized traditional conservatives for their lack of concern for freedom and their willingness to sacrifice freedom in the name of virtue.  According to Meyer, "Natural conservatism is a legitimate human characteristic, and in settled times it is conducive to the good. It represents the universal human tendency to hold by the accustomed, to maintain existing modes of life." Contemporary circumstances, however, have revealed  the need for a new conservatism. "What is required of us is a conscious conservatism, a clearly principle restatement in new circumstances of philosophical and political truth." This means libertarianism.

He ends his essay by appealing to the achievement of the founders, who he claims embodied the contrasting differences in the claims of the individual and that of order. Out of the dialectic between those two, the founders "created a political theory and a political structure based upon the understanding that, while truth and virtue are metaphysical and moral ends, the freedom to seek them is the political conditions to those ends."

An essay by another National Review editor, M.Stanton Evans, shadows Meyer. In an essay entitled "A Conservative Case for Freedom," Evans asserts that freedom and virtue rise and fall together. "In the conservative view," he writes, "right choice is the terminal value; freedom, an instrumental, and therefore subsidiary value." He tries, however, to position his view as more centrist or moderate.  He calls the traditionalists such as Kirk authoritarians, the libertarians liberals, and his own middle of the road position, conservative. He, too, traces the roots of his expression of conservatism to Madison. The problem of the tension between liberty and order is precisely the political problem that was faced, and in Evans' view, solved by Madison and the founders.

Russell Kirk offered up the traditionalist retort in  "Prescription, Authority , and Ordered Freedom."

He begins with the following axioms:

"Civilized man lives by authority; with some reference to authority, indeed, no form of civilized life is possible. Also, man lives by prescription--that is, by ancient customer and usage, and the rights which usage and customer have established. Without just authority and respected prescription, the pillars of any tolerable civil social order, true freedom is not possible."

The authority Kirk has in mind includes family, church, and government.

Kirk charges that the essence of liberalism is its subversion of authority by ignoring tradition and relying on abstract reasoning. And throughout the nineteenth century, liberalism degenerated into socialism. As readers might suspect, Kirk aims his charges at developments in European liberalism.

Kirk claims that "by revelation, by the insights of men of genius, mankind has acquired, slowly and painfully, over thousands of years, a knowledge of human nature and of the civil social order which no one individual possibly can supplant by private rationality." From this knowledge, Kirk derives two general principles of good government.

First, good government allows "the more energetic" among the citizens to fulfill their potential without becoming tyrants over the majority. Second, good government must be in accord with "the traditions and prescriptive ways of its people." This later principle leads to his skepticism about erecting free governments among people outside the Western tradition--something that the Bush administration should have considered before it began its adventures of national building in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Finally, an essay that seems out of place in many ways:  F. A.  Hayek's "Why I Am Not a Conservative."

Yet  he, too, finds him way back to Philadelphia in 1787.

He rightly begins noting that conservatism, in its proper sense, originated in Europe in response to the French Revolution. In this he agrees with Kirk. He notes, too, that until the rise of socialism, the opposing political tradition to conservatism in  Europe was liberalism.

No such dichotomy existed in the United States. According the Hayek, liberalism is the "common tradition" in the United States. He identifies himself as a liberal. He offers a caveat, though, by explaining that his liberalism differs from what goes by liberalism in contemporary America. Hayek calls them "progressives." He prefers the label, "Old Whig."

So why is Hayek not a conservative? He offers several reasons.

Conservatism does not offer any alternative to the contemporary liberal regime. All it seems capable of accomplishing is slowing down liberalism's relentless pull. Conservatives should not ask "how fast" change should come, but instead "in what direction." In fact, conservatives seem to dread change altogether rather than simply  fear its pace.

Conservatism lacks the kind of principles that enable him to work with others in creating on order in which people can pursue their own ends.

Conservatism claims that every society has an elite who should properly exert a greater influence in public affairs. Although this claim creates its own controversy, conservatism seem to reserve for itself the prerogative to decide just who are these elites.

Conservatism likewise expresses suspicion about democracy. Hayek calls this a self-deception. The problem in Hayek's eyes is government power. According to Hayek, the power exercised by the modern American government would be even more dangerous in the hands of an elite.

Conservatism shows inconsistency in its devotion to free enterprise. While conservatives generally oppose regulatory legislation, they historically have supported tariffs for industry and price supports for agriculture.

Conservatism appears suspicious of new knowledge, especially if it conflicts with conservatism's ideological stance or suggests undesirable consequences.

Finally, conservatism frequently resorts to "supernatural" knowledge when reason fails him.

Throughout his overview of conservatism, Hayek contrasts it not with socialism or progressivism, but with Hayek's own liberalism. So how does Hayek define his own liberalism?

On the same ground on which the the other essayists in this collection rested their conservatism:

"It is the doctrine on which the American system of government is based. In its pure form, it is represented in the United States, not by the radicalism of Jefferson, nor by the conservatism of Hamilton, or even of John Adams, but by the ideas of James Madison, the "father of the Constitution."

So what of it?

This conflict between traditionalism vs. individualism, however it is construed, in a way reflects a tension in historic terms between two different versions of republicanism.

 Classical Republicanism originated in classical antiquity though the writings of Aristotle, Cicero, and Polybius. Along with such ideas as government for the common good,  rule by law rather than men, and freedom from arbitrary authority,  Classical Republicanism embraced the public philosophy that the state should inculcate virtue in its citizens, especially the elites who were expected to participate in public affairs. The virtues to inculcate, of course, were those of the elites of classical Greece and Rome. This concept of virtue changed over time. With the triumph of Christianity in Europe, those classical virtues experienced subtle changes. More important was the emergence of a bourgeoisie and a different set of virtues that included hard work, thrift, and saving. And along with these new virtues came a new articulation of individual rights. This new emphasis on rights, combined with the new economic ideas of Adam Smith, eventually became known as liberalism.

With the birth of the United States, the founders of this new regime drew upon the idea of both the older classical republicanism and the new liberal republicanism. The United States has experienced this tension ever since--the slow receding of the public philosophy of classical republicanism and the relentlessly advancing of liberal republicanism. Occasionally we hear talk about the common good and of virtue or morality from liberals and conservatives. For the most part,  however, these seem to be sentimental reflections about a past that can never be recovered.
















Saturday, June 8, 2013

Obama Record Spinning Out of Control

Each day some new scandal becomes "breaking news," even on the mainstream cable networks. Breaking news is now a broken record, with Obama at the mercy of the turntable.




Although none of these issues will threaten the survival of the administration, they will certainly keep the administration occupied with other things than their efforts at fundamentally transforming America:

Unanswered questions about Benghazi.

IRS targeting of tea party movement.

IRS squandering of millions of dollars of taxpayer revenue on conferences and travel accommodations.

The Justice Department threatening to prosecute reporters in order to secure search warrants for phone calls of reporters.

NSA  gathering data on phone calls and internet use by Americans (a distraction more than a scandal.)

Some of the stories  have been broken by a British paper the Guardian. I  wish we had a press  in this country who would serve as a more vigilant guardian of our freedom from government abuse of power.

The Obama administration is certainly the most transparently corrupt administration since that of Richard Nixon.






Thursday, June 6, 2013

Another Thing Obama Did Right

Occasionally when President Obama does something right, it is noted here at Right Detour, like herehere, and here.

Well, it happened again. But this time by Michelle Obama.

At a recent fundraiser, Michelle Obama gave a speech about the importance of children. Strangely, the topic of her speech was children, but was delivered at the private homo of a lesbian couple. During the speech, a heckler interrupted her. Obama walked over near the heckler and basically threatened to leave unless she shut up.





Later the media learned the identity of the heckler--a gay rights activist named Ellen Sturtz.  Sturtz apparently had no interest in speeches about children. Instead, she wanted to press the First Lady about her husband's lack of action on discrimination and LGBT people.

Sturtz said she was "taken aback" by Michelle Obama's reaction.

That means, Sturtz's inflated sense of self-importance was deflated.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Coronation Day!

Today, sixty years ago, Queen Elizabeth II received her crown  as queen of England during coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey.






Most news outlets made brief mention of it.


People magazine, too, noted the occasion if only to remind readers that the ceremony brought Kate and William back to the site of their wedding. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge remain favorites of People and other celebrity magazines. The royal couple appear repeatedly on the covers of these magazines at grocery store checkout stands. A look online shows that People has a special link for the royals in its "news" category.

The attitude of celebrity magazines has peculiar ironies. It seems strange that in republic based upon equality so many magazines and broadcast media exhibit such fascination for hereditary monarchy. This stands in stark contrast with the founders of our country.

In contrast to the journalistic genuflection before royalty by  magazines like People, the Founders entertained different feelings:

Thomas Jefferson:

"I was much an enemy to monarchies before I came to Europe. I am ten thousand times more so, since I have seen what they are."

Thomas Paine:

"We have heard the Rights of Man called a leveling system; but the only system to which the word leveling is truly applicable, is the hereditary monarchical system. It is a system of mental leveling. It indiscriminately admits every species of character to the same authority. Vice and virtue, ignorance and wisdom, in short, every quality, good or bad, is put on the same level. Kings succeed each other, not as rationals, but as animals. It signifies not what their mental or moral characters are."

"One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings, is, that nature disapproves it, otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind and ass for a lion."

James Wilson:

"In a monarchy there are strength and vigour. but there is a danger, that they will not be employed for the happiness and prosperity of the state."

A second irony is that company that the royals must keep in the celebrity publishing world. Their chief competitors for landing on the cover of People are those common celebrity whores--the Kardasians.