Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quote of the Day

This "Quote of the Day" comes from Dr. Keyes's blog Loyal to Liberty and our own frequent commenter Chiu Chunling:

Chiu Chunling writes:

In war (and you are fighting one now), one must consider tactics and strategy, not just the final objective. The objective should be a nation where abortion is not merely prohibited by Federal law, but unthinkable to the citizen of good standing. [TM: for context, read Dr. Keyes's latest entries.]

Certainly, if you know (as opposed to not knowing) what your final objective is then the means to your end become more clear.

BTW, by 'the war we are fighting now,' Chiu isn't referring to the so-called "war on terror," or whatever we're calling it now.


chiu_chunling said...

I think "Overseas Aggression by racists against supporters of the totally legitimate Commander in Chief" is probably how the One thinks of it. But someone or other advised him it wouldn't do to put it quite that bluntly in public.

I must admit, I'm at a loss what to make of the apparent assertion that anyone expressing a desire for a reversal of Roe v. Wade must be a nefarious crypto-abortion supporter. I thought pro-lifers wanted to reverse Roe v. Wade. Did I miss something?

I hope it doesn't end up being the case that Dr. Keyes doesn't understand the substantial issues involved in Roe v. Wade. But who even knows anymore.

Terry Morris said...

There are some parallels between this abortion issue and the gay 'marriage' issue. Those of us who oppose gay marriage yet do not support the FMA are disparaged by people on our side as being inconsistent, constitutionally illiterate and this and that. When in fact we actually do have good reason to believe that a federal marriage amendment would actually create more problems than it would solve.

chiu_chunling said...

I'm not opposed to the idea of a pro-life amendment, though the exact wording of such a document utterly defies my comprehension of the English language. And of course the problems that would be caused by a Marriage Amendment are most of why I support that idea.

I think, as I view more of Dr. Keyes' argument, that he just has a very naive idea of what government is. Government is nothing more or less than the degree to which people are willing to obey the laws. Some forms of government involve a great deal of evil. You can argue over whether this evil comes from the necessity of intrusive enforcement mechanisms to get people to obey laws they don't like, or from the sort of person who naturally tends to suggest such mechanisms as a solution to anything, but in the end the practical thing is to judge a form of government by the effects associated with it.

Local, representative democracy does better than the alternatives. I don't lack for theories about why, but the main thing is not what theoretically might be the result of such government but the kind of benefits it actually produces.

The Defense of Marriage Act is good Constitutional law. But any law is only as good as the people it purports to govern. I...don't know whether that is overly pragmatic of me, but I have no ability to believe otherwise. I can't believe the unbelievable, how ever much I may at times envy others their apparent ability to do so.

Terry Morris said...

I think, as I view more of Dr. Keyes' argument, that he just has a very naive idea of what government is.

Hmm. I've never really thought of Dr. Keyes in terms of being naive about virtually anything I've ever heard him speak to. But you may have a point in this particular case. I've read his responses to you and I'm not quite getting it. I understand his unbending devotion to the principles of The Declaration -- a view which I personally share, but which I also recognize that a large proportion of the American citizenry does not and never will share no matter how solid one's arguments. We need to find, therefore, some kind of common ground on this and other vital subjects, which is to say the restoration of state and local autonomy. If Dr. Keyes recognized how much he sounds like Al Sharpton on this one, perhaps he might reconsider his position. But I kinda doubt it.

You wrote:

Government is nothing more or less than the degree to which people are willing to obey the laws.

Well said. I read a poem once to this very effect. It was called something like "The Real Government" or "The Real Governors" or some such. The gist of the poem was that the governed are far more important than the governors; that for government to be at all effective it relies on the acquiescence of the governed than it does on the power of law enforcement and so forth. Speaking of which, I stand amazed at what we the governed tolerate from our government these days.

I've written before that "Government is what it is -- no more, no less. It has no power in and of itself to effect good or evil of any kind." I acknowledge that there are better and worse forms of government, and that a given form of government is more suitable to a given people; that certain forms of government are more susceptible to abuse. But in the end I'm more concerned with the abusers than I am with the particular form of government they're utilizing to their ends. After all, any form of government is susceptible to abuse, some more, some less; some over the long haul, some over the short.

Terry Morris said...

A clarification:

When I said above that Keyes sounds like Al Sharpton on this one, what I meant is that he takes Sharpton's position that "we can't trust the states to do the right thing" on the issue of 'a woman's right to choose.' At bottom that's all Dr. Keyes is saying. How either of them think that we can trust the federal government over the state governments to take the right position on the issue, I have no earthly idea.

chiu_chunling said...

Well, for the time being my last couple of replies have yet to be approved.

Basically, I outline the futility of appealing to 'divine' or 'higher' law in disputes over human laws. Basically, if there were enough widespread agreement over what the higher law demanded in any particular case, there would be no need for a human law on that subject.

To argue that there should be a human law about something is to admit that insufficient agreement exists as to what the higher law dictates. That doesn't mean that there isn't a higher law, nor that one shouldn't make decisions based on that law (to the extent one understands it, at least), only that some people don't share your understanding of higher law.

For there to be any point in an argument, you must argue from premises which are not in dispute. A true dialog seeks to establish what (if anything) is held in common between the various parties, and then seeks to extend through logic the area of agreement, using the existing agreement as accepted premises.

Dr. Keyes and I agree that the Constitution of the United States (the blueprint of the national government of America) was inspired by God for the purpose of protecting the inalienable rights of the American people. In this case, he then makes what I consider to be a logically unjustified leap which ignores the actual mechanisms of the Constitution in favor of what he sees as its ultimate objectives (thus the appellation "naive").

I don't disagree about the objectives, but I judge that the design of the Constitution provides for those objectives to be reached through limitation of the national government to those necessary to efficiently govern a federation of states. The Constitution trusts the states to preserve the essential liberties of the people, not because all of them will but because as long as some of them do the people are free to live in those states.

On the other hand, if the national government takes control of the administration of those liberties (as it has done in the case of abortion) and then does it improperly or incompetently, you have no escape. The actual case of abortion illustrates this near perfectly. Really, most of the expansions of the national government's power beyond its Federal character would illustrate this as well, but abortion was the actual topic at issue.

Terry Morris said...

As I've mentioned numerous times before, the constitution does not grant exclusive authority to the central government over immigration, in spite of what many many people seem to believe epitomized by the exceedingly popular phrase "immigration is a federal issue." Indeed, the constitution barely grants the federal government any authority at all over immigration policy, i.e., the federal government is constitutionally invested with (or limited to) authority to create and enforce "uniform rules of naturalization." But that doesn't keep the federal government from effectively exercising exclusive authority over the issue of immigration. (but then again, what constitutional limitation on federal authority does the federal government actually observe anymore?)

This arbitrary exercise of an authority not granted to the federal government in the constitution deprives the states and the people thereof of their unalienable right to self-preservation. It's basically the same thing as some government entity coming to me and claiming that it has authority to force me to feed and shelter x number of immigrants in my own home (which, btw, I own outright and exclusive to everyone else). Now, I'm just one little ol' person, but if someone acting under the supposed authority of some sphere of government came to me and demanded, under such 'authority' that I do so, I'd simply laugh him into derision.

This is yet another issue where me and Dr. Keyes get a little crossways. He's not really an immigration restrictionist per se as far as I can tell, he simply wants the federal government to disallow illegal (mostly Hispanic) immigration into the country, which would include deporting those already here. I wonder whether he doesn't realize that a goodly proportion of illegal immigrants get here via the assistance of legal immigrants?

Anyway, it's all well and good to oppose illegal immigration (it's also the safer route to take since, well, who but the most extreme cases can really fault someone for opposing illegality?), but the problem I see with this manner of opposition is that it doesn't address the central issue which is where does state authority on immigration end and federal authority begin.

Terry Morris said...

Chiu, I see that your latest comments have finally made the cut in the Loyal to Liberty thread in question. I personally think your argument makes more sense (a lot more, in fact) than does Dr. Keyes's on this particular issue. After all, and as you pointed out, when the federal government claimed exclusive authority over this abortion issue it took the exact opposite postion to that of Dr. Keyes. Does he really think that his appeal to 'higher law' is ever going to change that?

Once more, if Dr. Keyes shares with that leftist nutjob Al Sharpton the belief that we can't entrust to the state governments authority over subjects left to the state governments by the written constitution, then how exactly is his position materially different than that of the left?

I'm personally more inclined to advocate the pro-life position in my state where there is a great deal of agreement on the issue and to tell the federal government to take a freakin' hike, than to attempt to effect change at the federal level where no chance of ever doing so under current conditions exists. But that's just me.

As an aside, I see that at least one commenter under the thread (Nelson) has picked up where Dr. Keyes left off, namely in accusing a pro-lifer (Gilbertabrett) of being a pro-choicer. Is this sort of thing really necessary? Really???

chiu_chunling said...

Well, that last one was my fault. After all, Gilbertabrett was responding to my contention that making laws is not enough to fight abortion, since abortion is not really that easy to police.

Women experience miscarriages, usually through no possible fault of their own. Whether or not abortion supporters occasionally try to argue abortion from that fact, a fact it remains. Modern conveniences make it very easy to induce abortion in early pregnancy with little or no risk of leaving any evidence that it was an abortion rather than miscarriage. I will not go into details because it's not something I wish to encourage in any way.

Gilbertabrett was essentially saying he was content with making a law and washing his hands. The particular way he worded it (and, in my opinion, the sentiment itself) was easily attacked as not being very pro-life.

The thing is, American conservatives can't consistently regard laws which directly contradict the Constitution as being particularly legitimate. So we're talking about making a law which, by your own vocally expressed standards of legality, is patently illegal. And Gilbertabrett said not just that that was fine by him, but that he felt no responsibility for the outcome of continuing abortion.

I didn't jump on him for it, people sometimes say things without thinking over the implications very carefully, and it's not helpful to assail every opening. It leads to an overly adversarial atmosphere. I did raise the point, and knew well enough that it could provoke an instinctive defensive response. But all the same, Gilbertabrett's response was particularly thoughtless, I won't condemn Nelson for reacting to it.

As for Dr. Keyes' position...I'm becoming convinced he doesn't really have one. He's simply too uncomfortable supporting anything that could be construed as an accommodation with abortion, and that paralyzes his ability to form a detailed, realistic position on what should be done and how to do it.

The most conservative reaction, to try and directly reverse Roe v. Wade, earns his condemnation because conservatives try to sell it as if 'leaving it up to the states' were a compromise. Given that this could only be accomplished by appointing a majority of strict constructionists or Original Intent jurists (I have problems with 'Original Intent', there is good reason to pay attention to the exact language that was ratified rather than what the drafters might have preferred...there's a reason for ratification, after all), it amounts to espousing a total reversal of almost the entire liberal agenda for the past century.

That's not really a compromise, but it does make sense to emphasize how sensible leaving it to the states is. Given that I'm in the "ordinary citizens should be assembling unregistered assault weapons in their basements" camp, I can't say I agree with the 'sensible' camp. But I would find their rational persuasive if I had the same beliefs about what was possible.

There is now simply too much evidence that the electoral system is irretrievably broken. When your votes literally won't count, voting is...insufficient. You need to look at the alternatives.

Unregistered home defense options...basically next on the list.

Terry Morris said...

Well, my understanding of what a "Pro-choicer" is is a person who advocates for the government sanction of the murder of unborn babies. Which Gilbertabrett, by his own words in the post in question, does not by any means advocate.

chiu_chunling said...

Like I said, I think that comment did not reflect his real thinking on the subject. Or perhaps I merely hope so. But that strain of "let's just make a law, but not actually enforce it" is just too incompatible with conservative thinking to be likely from someone like Gilbertabrett.

I knew that bringing up the issue of enforceability would be a bit provocative. But the reason that it can be so provocative is because usually those lured into unconstitutional methods of securing American values have overlooked the issue of enforcement. The problem of effective enforcement (or the broader pragmatic issue of what will actually happen as a result of a new law) is usually the main reason conservative ideas are better than progressive ideas.

Indeed, even the worst progressive ideas, absolute immoralities like genocide or indoctrinated perversion, are rendered palatable if we are willing to ignore reality in favor of pretty wording. 'Eugenics' is Greek for 'good breeding', and who could be against that? Well, anyone who understands what the term actually means in practice.

The essential core of morality, in my way of looking at things, is to come up with workable solutions to intractable real life problems. The problem is that it's also the core of engineering or craftsmanship. I don't understand where the line is, except that "moral" problems deal more with regulation of sentient behavior. Given that all problems (and solutions) which are possible for me to contemplate involve at least one sentient entity's behavior, and that the sheer number of sentient entities involved in a problem doesn't seem to affect whether it is a moral or technological problem, that doesn't quite constitute a bright line distinction.

Which may explain my penchant for aesthetics. I know that beauty doesn't equate to goodness, but I'm not entirely sure I understand what goodness really is and I like beauty anyway.