January 22, 2007

Brownback's unusually religious announcement that he's running for President.

Let's analyze it. (I'm boldfacing the religious words.)
I have decided, after much prayerful consideration, to consider a bid for the Republican nomination for the presidency.
Now, now, he didn't say God told him to run, did he?
I am running to spread hope and ideas. We are a blessed nation at an important crossroads. War, corruption, disintegrating families, and for some, hopelessness, tear at the American Dream. We need hope and ideas.

I am running for America…to be of service in a crucial time of trial.

Ours is an exceptional nation. A nation between two oceans made up of people from every nation on earth. A great nation united by our ideals. But we are a great nation because of our goodness. If we ever lose our goodness, we will surely lose our greatness.
All very uplifting. Hope, greatness, goodness. But it's all threatened.
We believe in a culture of life—that every human life is a beautiful, sacred, unique child of a loving God.
His #1 issue is anti-abortion, and he has situated it within a larger setting of the crucial need for a nation to believe in profound ideals.
We believe in justice for all—at all times.

We believe in liberty.

But the central institutions that best transmit these values—the family and the culture—are under withering attack.

We must renew our families and rebuild our culture!

We need to revitalize marriage, support the formation of families, and encourage a culture of commitment.
The Presidency isn't about family, however, so why is he running? Justice and liberty seem to have more to do with the duties of the President, and he puts those two things first only to say "but" the family is what we primarily rely on to "transmit these values," and this gets him right back to the matter of the traditional family, which he clearly has as his core concern. But we care about more than transmitting the values of justice and liberty to the next generation, and the President has a direct role in protecting liberty and insuring that justice is done, so it's worrisome to hear him shift immediately to the the subject of the family. I'm picturing him in the debates, taking every question and finding a way to answer with family, family, family.
We need a culture that encourages what is right and discourages what is wrong—and has the wisdom to understand the difference.

Each generation of Americans is called upon to carry the torch of virtue during its brief season. If one generation lets the torch fall, its light is extinguished for all future generations. That’s a big responsibility, but we can achieve it if we pick up the torch with courage, generosity, and realism. We must meet and fulfill the job we are called to accomplish in our day. The time to act to insure our future as a nation is now.
This wordy passage mostly restates the importance of tending to the next generation. The imagery isn't very good. (What's the realistic way to pick up a torch? Grab the end that's not on fire!)
Problems abound. The federal government wastes and spends too much. We lack compassionate yet practical programs to help the poor here and around the world. We need energy independence and alternative, clean-burning, domestic-grown fuels. The scourge of cancer has killed too many and must be stopped. We need term limits for judges and members of Congress like we have for the President. We need a flat tax instead of the dreadful, incomprehensible tax code we now have.
This is the issue logjam. I certainly agree that cancer must be stopped.
And we need humility.

While I am proud to be an American, when I consider my citizenship and the responsibilities it carries today in the light of eternity, I am more humbled by it. We have been given much and will be held to account for what we have been given.
He is unashamed to present his role in the Presidency as a matter of service to God. Humility is a nice theme, and a hard one to pull off when you're putting yourself forward as deserving the most powerful position in the world. I remember John Roberts making much of the humility theme at his confirmation hearings, when he described the role of a judge. But a judge is appointed by another person -- not pressing himself forward, and a judge can rightly humble himself before the law and promise to do only what the law requires. A President must impose his will. And everyone who runs for President is pursuing his will to achieve power.
I ask mostly for your prayers. Pray for America, that our division as a people might end and that our land be healed.

Thank you for your interest and support. Thank you for your prayers. Please join our campaign of national renewal and hope for the future!

God Bless you, and God Bless this nation we love so dearly...
I heard this part of the speech on television and was struck by how religious it sounded, more so than in text form. There was passion and sincerity in his voice. Hope, healing, renewal, prayer, America, God. We get the message.

73 comments:

DCWilly said...

What happened to starting with Monroe v. Pape?

hdhouse said...

These are the very scary sentences:
1. We believe in liberty.
2. But the central institutions that best transmit these values—the family and the culture—are under withering attack.
3. We must renew our families and rebuild our culture!

1. We believe in liberty...can you tell us who doesn't believe in liberty? and who is we?
2. under attack....sounds like O'Really's attack on Christmas to me. Withering?
3. How do you renew a family at the federal level? Which culture? Dare I think judeo-christian whatever that is? slave culture? perhaps the shakers? pat robertson's view?

oh this guy is sure fire.

Mike said...

Hopefully, when Brownback's candidacy goes nowhere, we might stop hearing lamentations that the U.S. is turning into a theocracy.

Anonymous said...

I do have to say that as someone from the completely opposite side of the political spectrum from Brownback, he did come off pretty well on This Week. What he actually said was pretty frightening, but I can see how social conservatives might be able to rally behind a guy who to me is a much better communicator of their vision than either say Frist, Allen, Romney or Delay are.

Pogo said...

Re: "can you tell us who doesn't believe in liberty?"

“We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”
–Hillary Clinton, 6/28/04

When the government deprives you of your property, that's depriving you of your liberty by its most fundamental definition. Without a right to property, there is no liberty. In advocating the government confiscation of property, Hillary demonstrates that she doesn't believe in liberty.
(See Harvard law prof Charles Fried's Modern Liberty: And The Limits of Government)

Re: "How do you renew a family at the federal level? "
By keeping marriage sacrosanct and centered on the raising of children, rather than as contracts between any two or more people.

Elizabeth said...

Dear God, I'm sick to death of these people.

boston70 said...

At least he is consistent.

Bruce Hayden said...

Obviously pandering to the religious conservatives in the GOP. But I think most will go for Romney, despite being Mormon, and McCain will pick most of the rest.

Sloanasaurus said...

It's no less religious than a speech made 100 years ago. Of course, the lack of religiousity in America only reflects the success and lack of despair our country has been through the last 50 years.

There is an irony to everything of course. The secular liberals today push global warming as the new religion. However, if the environmentalists turn out to be right and global warming causes human suffering unlike anything we have seen before, then traditional religion will be back in full force and the secular liberals will be out.

MadisonMan said...

I'm for an Amendment that requires Senators to resign when they start running for President. I'm praying to God that it's passed.

hdhouse said...

Pogo said...
When the government deprives you of your property, that's depriving you of your liberty by its most fundamental definition. Without a right to property, there is no liberty. In advocating the government confiscation of property, Hillary demonstrates that she doesn't believe in liberty.

Comment: I am sure you are all about the Connecticut grab of land and Supreme Court's ruling...right?
Or where you talking about Newt and the surrender of certain "free speech"? Or Wiretapping..certainly that? Or open borders - what differentiates us from illegal aliens...

talk about basic.

Re: "How do you renew a family at the federal level? "
By keeping marriage sacrosanct and centered on the raising of children, rather than as contracts between any two or more people.

comment: let's make divorce illegal then. If that is your goal..to keep marriages together at all costs, then once hitched it is forever. Works for me but not the majority...hmmm majority....now there is a concept to balance into this.

Pogo, would you care to come up with some better ones than that?

Mike said...

I'll offer up an example of Hillary's antipathy for liberty, hd; the provision in HillaryCare that would have criminalized a physician providing health care to an individual paying out of his own pocket.

Pogo said...

Re: " I am sure you are all about the Connecticut grab of land and Supreme Court's ruling...right?"
You mean the Kelo decision? Yes, it's against liberty for that reason. I agree. Worst decision in 200 years.

"Or where you talking about Newt and the surrender of certain "free speech"?
Clarify.

"Or Wiretapping..certainly that?"
You're changing subjects. Is this a property issue you raise?

"Or open borders - what differentiates us from illegal aliens..."
Citizenship. But this has exactly what to do with property and liberty? You're flailing.

"let's make divorce illegal then. " Reductio ad moral idiocy.

vbspurs said...

I'm for an Amendment that requires Senators to resign when they start running for President. I'm praying to God that it's passed.

If only you could time travel, and tell Lyndon B. Johnson (D-TX) that -- he who benefitted from the first Bill in the nation, which allowed a senator running for national office to stay in his old post if he lost.

Of course, he won alongside JFK, but had he lost, you would've been rid of one of the most liberal Democratic senators in the US senate.

As the fortune cookie said, be careful what you wish for -- you might just lose your go'mint cheese.

Cheers,
Victoria

Cat said...

ooooooooooOOOOoooooohhhhhh scaaaaaarrry.

Anyone who thinks it's scary is just plain dumb and lazy.

I'm with Mike.

I am sick of people characterizing prayer as someone hearing God speak to them - "go forth and be President." If he said, "After much meditation," no one would have a problem with it. They would not have a problem with his speech if the candidate was black or Muslim either (they get pass as do dems pandering at black churches).

vbspurs said...

I'm quite conservative, and happy with religiosity, but this announcement does little for me.

- Tell me your plans about lowering taxes, yet keeping an eye on inflation.

- Tell me your plans about about national security.

- Tell me your plans about border and immigration control.

- Tell me your plans regarding the Middle East.

- Tell me, tell me, tell us.

Brownback? Eh. Maybe as a foil to Rudy.

It's funny that Romney is the Mormon, and devout, but he's considered the obvious strong religious right-candidate in '08, not as a Veep one to either McCain or Giuliani.

Brownback to me, reeks of Veep.

Cheers,
Victoria

Dave said...

Do these religious people really take themselve so seriously?

Life's fun! Why be so damned morose and serious all the time? Just go out, have a good time, earn a decent living, don't beat your wife or kids, and pay your taxes. What the hell does religion have to do with anything?

The Jerk said...

You mean the Kelo decision? Yes, it's against liberty for that reason. I agree. Worst decision in 200 years.

If you think Kelo is worse than Dred Scott or Plessy, you have a strange definition of liberty.

Also, is it your contention that everyone who thinks that individuals can be taxed to support collective projects "doesn't believe in liberty"?

David said...

Taking one's political cues from one's religous faith is nothing new, nor relegated to the US only.

William Wilberforce, Abraham Kuyper are just two that come to mind.

If you review either of thier works, you will see alot of similarities with how Brownback phrased his views.

Anonymous said...

Much as I disagree with Brownback, there is no question he is a very fine American with strong principles that he holds above politics. There hasn't been a liberal in 50 years who has articulated the case for America to do good by the world's weakest and most suffering better than he has. He is not a poser, and for that I give him a ton of credit.

That said, Brownback's speech is shocking and frightening. What is his basis for thinking that "the family" and "the culture" "transmits" the "values" of liberty and justice? This is an important question, because he uses that non-existent nexus to claim for the President of the United States and the federal government a critical role in "renew(ing) our families and rebuild(ing) our culture.... revitaliz(ing) marriage, support(ing) the formation of families, and encourag(ing) a culture of commitment." These vague objectives are thereupon to be promoted by federal bans on gay marriage, abortion, stem-cells and who knows what else.

It is completely random and irrational to make these leaps! Someone needs to take this guy on, rather than just patting him on the head, letting him have his portion of the "social conservative" vote without challenge, and otherwise ignoring him. It's not sufficient that Brownbeck lose the election, which he will. His ideas need to be purged from politics.

Justice and liberty have nothing whatsoever to do with the family and the culture. They are matters of law. The words "family" and "culture" do not appear in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. For that matter, "family" and "culture" aren't concepts that are classically connected with religion. Christianity is one of many faiths that is about your personal relationship with God. Individuals, not families, are "saved." And of course, the Bible is utterly silent on culture, which until now has been the source of its strength. As the spread of the faith has shown, Jesus' message is relevant to many, perhaps most cultures.

There is nothing in the Bible, not to mention the Constitution, that suggests our political leaders are responsible for doing anything about renewing families through some form of government coercion.

I'm all for renewing families. I love my family, and I try to renew my family every day through trying to be a better person. For some people, being a better person is helped by religion, and that's one of many blessings of faith for those who have it. Others try to become better people by reading philosophy, or studying the lives of great men and women. That can work too. But I don't know anyone who has become a better person because of a government regulation.

Both the left and the right fall into this trap repeatedly -- claiming for government capabilities it does not have to affect behavior it has no right to control. The idea of a president commandeering the awesome might of the U.S. federal government to make me a better father or to uplift my son culturally should be frightening to anybody. It is not a stretch to call this "heresy" from a constitutional standpoint.

As I said, Sam Brownbeck might be an exemplary person. I think Bono even likes him. There are a lot of evangelical preachers who, it turns out, are not good people. What I would recommend to Mr. Brownbeck is that he quit politics and go take over Ted Haggard's church, and clean up that mess. He will find that running a big church engaged in saving souls is probably the most effective way to help people improve their family life and to affect the culture. He should take this job, and pray that the government respects his liberty, follows the dictates of justice, and stays the hell out of his way.

SteveR said...

MM:I'm for an Amendment that requires Senators to resign when they start running for President. I'm praying to God that it's passed.

But its practically the only fun left in persidential politics. Pure bipartisan fun. OTOH a good way to clean out the cesspool though.

Mike said...

Cat said:"Anyone who thinks it's scary is just plain dumb and lazy.

I'm with Mike."

I'm an atheist, Cat, so you may not want to be seen with me. I'm just tired of the left (and it is the left) using the expression of religious belief as their boogey man.

SNAKE HUNTERS said...

As a nation, we've had... the "blessings of liberty" for 230 years, thanks to Jefferson & Madison. Hellooooooooo!

Our precious 1st Amendment protects
us from the Falwell's & Oral Robbers! It's the 1400 year old Kill Culture that we should focus on, not "Dubya" Bush, and not Hot Air Politics.

Read a Reality Weblog!

Comments Welcome. reb

www.lazyonebenn.blogspot.com

mark said...

"vbspurs" g'ment cheese huh? It's just a big joke to you. I'm guessing you weren't alive when Johnson was president. Too bad about those pesky Civil Rights Act, and Great Society, Medicare, and all that Liberal nonsense.

and "Pogo": do you pay taxes?

Pogo said...

Re: "you have a strange definition of liberty"

Liberty starts with property, which includes ownership of oneself. Without the right to propoerty, no other rights exist.

Pogo said...

Re: "is it your contention that everyone who thinks that individuals can be taxed to support collective projects "doesn't believe in liberty"?"

Of course not. Defense, police, the courts, and some infrastructure are inarguably group efforts. But beyond that, state efforts to Solve Problems are usually (if not always) worse than approaches that favor private enterprise. And when those statist efforts coerce redistribution, they are in opposition to the liberty spoken of by the Founders.

So some collective efforts are indeed anti-liberty. For example, any that can be described by the phrase "basic bargain ".

Pogo said...

Re: "those pesky Civil Rights Act"

You mean the one that Democrats tried to filibuster?

Elizabeth said...

One of our representatives, Bobby Jindal was just re-elected to the House in November, and within a week after that election he announced he was talking to God about running for governor. Apparently God and campaign contributors have spoken, and he's running. I'm irked by career politicians who move from one office to the other, especially when one race comes right on the heels of another. I'm even more irked that he blames God for his selfish decision. The governor's race was always in the front his plan, and he should have skipped out on the House campaign. But of course, he'll run on what his image of being a fin, religious man of integrity.

hdhouse said...

ok pogo:

define property. do you mean material possessions or possessions granted to us and guaranteed by the constituion or all things that as free men (woman) we possess?

or are you selective to mean your home and your land?

The idiocy of your argument is that it requires property to have a say in this. no no no

does someone who has no property..a renter..a sharecropper perhaps...have no rights because he/she doesn't own property?

sooo silly.

The Jerk said...

Liberty starts with property, which includes ownership of oneself. Without the right to propoerty, no other rights exist.

Awfully weighty pronouncement with no argument to support it. "Ownership of oneself" is an incoherent concept.

Anonymous said...

Dave wrote: "What the hell does religion have to do with anything?"

I am accepting your question as sincere. As Christians, we believe that people were made to follow the will of the Creator of the Universe, and to enjoy a close relationship with our Creator. We believe that by doing so, we are blessed, our families are blessed, and our community is blessed. Our experience is that doing so gives us joy and satisfaction. So we try to serve our Lord and Master, God.

So to us, it is a BIG thing. One of the only things that matters. We would consider it wrong to buy a piece of property without praying about it first. We thank God when we get a good parking space! So of course we would pray, long and hard, before a possible job change.

If you look at it dispassionately, you can see how it makes sense. See, it is the central organizing factor in our life. For other people, their family may be that central idea, or maybe it is power, or cocaine, or staying sober, or having a Green president. And it looks weird to all of us when someone else has a central organizing concept in their life that is not comprehensible to us.

That is why the religious mention their religion: Because it matters to them (us.)

Trey

vbspurs said...

"vbspurs" g'ment cheese huh? It's just a big joke to you. I'm guessing you weren't alive when Johnson was president. Too bad about those pesky Civil Rights Act, and Great Society, Medicare, and all that Liberal nonsense.

Actually, I quite like cheese.

Cheers,
Victoria

paul a'barge said...

Brownback: that every human life is a beautiful, sacred, unique child of a loving God.

Right. Except for that judge candidate who attended a commitment party for the daughter of her next door neighbor, who is a lesbian, and now Brownback wants to torpedo the judge candidates chances of getting her judgeship. Oh yeah, and not to mention the lesbian next-door daughter, right?

Yeah. I'll be voting for Brownback ... the day hell freezes over and monkeys fly out of my butt.

Anonymous said...

"The scourge of cancer has killed too many and must be stopped."

Well that is flying on a wing and a prayer! When I was diagnosed with the fecking thing my confessor and friend - the late and much missed Dom. Robin Gough, Prior of Quarr Abbey - laid his hand on my head and rebuked the Lord thus: "A complete cure God. I will accept nothing less."

Looks like he got his way. Which is nice.

But as for 'stopping cancer' like you stop a train by putting the brakes on and bringing it to a standstill - that ain't gonna happen.

By all means research the causes and the treatments, reduce the incidence and the prevalence. Improve health systems so there are fewer missed cases and there is optimum, swift treatment for all who need it. Promote healthy living. Seriously cut down on the use of Agent Orange - the one established cause of the type of cancer I had. And so forth.

Just don't expect to eradicate cancer any more than you would sin. Sin happens. So does and will cancer.

I do so love the indefatigable American optimism (such a counter-balance to my own traditional Scandinavian melancholy), but with this one I reckon Brownback is deep into "Can you play the piano" "I don't know, I've never tried" territory.

John Kindley said...

"A President must impose his will."

Actually, the office of President should theoretically require as much humility before the law as the office of judge. A judge is supposed to merely interpret while the President is supposed to merely execute the law; neither is supposed to create law or impose his or her own will (though the President is empowered to check the will of the legislature with the veto). It is for the legislature to create law and set policy (and declare war), and the legislators themselves are supposed to merely carry out, humbly, the will of their constituents -- though this last proposition re: legislators is more in need of qualification than the former propositions re: judges and the President.

(Would that we could find a practical way to reform the law or the culture so that legislators are in fact more responsive to their constituents than to the well-heeled special interests and lobbyists which have the financial power and influence to get them elected and re-elected. Why, for example, don't legislators avail themselves of formal and recorded town-hall type meetings, which would be far more office-appropriate than the farcical spectacles conducted by the President, and would seem to greatly improve their profile and prospects for re-election).

The cult of personality and accompanying power and prestige that has evolved around the office of President is highly unfortunate. Of course, carrying out the laws of the U.S. and defending the American republic is an exalted responsibility and deserving of great honor and respect, but just once I'd like to see a Presidential candidate put himself forth -- or better yet, be put forth by others -- more as a great servant than as a great leader. This was the aura surrounding the Presidency of George Washington, which those Presidents and Presidential candidates who would aspire to his greatness would do well to emulate.

Palladian said...

"Christianity is one of many faiths that is about your personal relationship with God."

Don't tell the Pope!

John Kindley said...

Despite what I just posted, I want our President, as our national figurehead and spokesperson, to give voice to and remind us of our highest shared ideals and purposes as a people. These include the protection of liberty and equality (at least of opportunity), and allow for the invocation of God and of our moral duties towards our fellow men (which I welcome). But I begin to get uncomfortable when a President or Presidential candidate goes beyond that, as Brownback did with his rhetoric about family values. Hammering out specific policies reflecting the values of society should be the province of the legislature, especially the state legislatures.

Cat said...

Mike said: "I'm an atheist, Cat, so you may not want to be seen with me. I'm just tired of the left (and it is the left) using the expression of religious belief as their boogey man."

I don't care if you are an atheist. What does that have to do with anything? I still agree with you 100% on this. It's a boogeyman and it's tired.

Cedarford said...

Hdhouse - 2. under attack....sounds like O'Really's attack on Christmas to me. Withering?

Bill O'Reilly is not attacking Christmas, the secular progressive Jews that run the ACLU management and policy committees are. Along with scattered atheists and non-Christians in other organizations, academia,and in government.

Pogo - Without a right to property, there is no liberty. In advocating the government confiscation of property, Hillary demonstrates that she doesn't believe in liberty.

That's the same argument the slaveowners made about their sacred 5th Amendment rights. They even had lawyers dressed in robes say property ownership come before any other liberty (Dred Scott) - and it only took 660,000 dead to disabuse the country of such insane libertarian extremism the Founders messed the Constitution up with.
As for eminent domain today? Without the ability to use the land for the greater good, we would have never been able to develop the infrastructure of a modern nation. We will have to use it again and again as we continue to progress and address the nations needs. And the rights of millionaire land speculators out to extort far more than a house or land blocking a public or city renewal use is worth --have to be balanced against the rights of others.

As for Brownback, Senator "Snowflake Kids" - the experience of 8 years of another stem-cell opposing, Terri Schiavo rutabaga-loving evangelical theocrat in the Presidency makes me singularly unenthusiastic about putting another one in. We need a break

Mike said...

"I don't care if you are an atheist. What does that have to do with anything?"

Just wanted to give you a chance to disown me, Cat, if you wanted to. ;-)

Cat said...

Madison Man, I am all for term limits for very Senators and Congressmen. 2 terms for the Senate and 4 for Congress. I like NYC's mayor 2 term limit - you can run again for a 3rd, just not consecutively.

I also believe if you run for something, you should have to leave your current post to do so (I think it currently depends on the State - Edwards had to resign due to NC law; Kerry did not).

Pogo said...

Re: "does someone who has no property..a renter..a sharecropper perhaps...have no rights because he/she doesn't own property?
sooo silly.

"Ownership of oneself" is an incoherent concept."


Inchoerent? Then why is slavery wrong? If you don't have a right to your body, why bitch about Gitmo, habeas corpus, Dred Scott, or Plessy?

And House, don't be such a dope; property doesn't mean just real estate. By my definition, the renter has a right to his wages and his car and his body. You cannot enslave him, nor take his wages nor confiscate his household goods just because you think the common good has a better use for it.

And, c'mon, sharecropper?
Doesn't the left ever thinks it's gotten even a little better than 1931 in the US and A?

Haven't the good folks of Madison ever read Madison?

Pogo said...

Re: "possessions granted to us and guaranteed by the constituion"

Sorry, can't let that pass. The US Constitution doesn't grant us our rights, to possessions or otherwise.
Wherever did you get that insane notion?

Pogo said...

Rwe: "insane libertarian extremism the Founders messed the Constitution up with"

I'll have to disagree with you, Cedarford. I'm no libertarian, but a conservative. I prefer Burke and Kirk to Rothbard and Nozick.

Any argument can be abused. The fact that slaveowners complained about property is like saying national healthcare is bad because the Nazis favored it.

And I don't have such a low view of our Founders as you. Their level of thought and debate far surpasses that of modern legislators.

Mike said...

Pogo asked: "Haven't the good folks of Madison ever read Madison?"

hdhouse is a Madisonian?

hdhouse said...

ohhhh pogo
you go
such a schmoo
woe woe woe

i'm goin' to the store masser to buy me some tweezers 'case me and da men folk gotta discect yur brain..

ohhhh wish i was livin in the land of cotton...ole times dar are not forgotten....

bearbee said...

“We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”
–Hillary Clinton, 6/28/04


Nothing new there:

Huey P. Long: "Share Our Wealth" 7 March 1935

So in this land of God’s abundance we propose laws, viz.:

1. The fortunes of the multimillionaires and billionaires shall be reduced so that no one persons shall own more than a few million dollars to the person. ....; and on all over the eight million we would impose a tax of 100 percent.



Transcript and video available.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I would love a link to the video of Hillary Clinton making that statement. I haven't been able to find one!

mark said...

Pogo: you are an internet Bully, sir. Must you always have the last word here?

Rights not "granted"? A semantical quibble, eg. the right to vote was not "granted" to women. It was discovered to have existed all along, I suppose.

And in my previous remark I did not mention "Democrats"--though I'm sure you well know that it is disingenuous to insinuate that that party is the same as todays.

And re Clinton's remark: the present day gov't asks the ultimate sacrifice of some of our fellow citizens, but you can ignore this log yet dramatically recoil from Clinton's splinter?

Pogo said...

Re; "hdhouse is a Madisonian?"

I dunno. Do Madisonians (I mean Wisconsin residents) tend to speak in minstrel style?

I know other Madisonians (readers of of the Federalist Papers) don't.

John Kindley said...

RE: Huey P. Long: "Share Our Wealth" 7 March 1935

So in this land of God’s abundance we propose laws, viz.:

1. The fortunes of the multimillionaires and billionaires shall be reduced so that no one persons shall own more than a few million dollars to the person. ....; and on all over the eight million we would impose a tax of 100 percent.

I must be a crazy kind of libertarian, if I can even without abuse of language continue to apply the label to myself, because part of the above makes sense to me. While I favor dramatically less overall government taxing and spending, I think taxes on gifts and inheritances should be increased and extended to more estates, so that income taxes can be decreased. A certain amount of tax money has to be collected to run the government, so why not tax the receipts of those who did nothing to earn the money before taxing the income of those who worked for it? (Of course, this would create a huge incentive for folks to spend their every dime before they died rather than saving for posterity, and who knows what unforeseen consequences this would have on the economy?)

Moreover, federalists and libertarians emphasize separation of powers because of the threat that concentrated power poses to liberty. The same concern about concentrated political power would also seem to apply analogously to vast concentrations of inherited financial power and wealth.

Dave said...

Well some guy earlier in the comments assumed I was sincere when I asked what the hell the big deal is about religion and why the religious are so serious and morose. The question posed is obviously bait; that someone took it seems only to prove my point. I will never understand the Brownback's of the world.

I'm too busy having fun. Would rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, etc.

Palladian said...

"As for Brownback, Senator "Snowflake Kids" - the experience of 8 years of another stem-cell opposing, Terri Schiavo rutabaga-loving evangelical theocrat in the Presidency makes me singularly unenthusiastic about putting another one in. We need a break"

Not to mention a break from those pernicious secular Jews! It's sort of alarming that the Althouse comments section's biggest opponent of "secular Jews" also calls a profoundly disabled human being a "rutabaga" and argues for the ability of the federal government to do whatever it needs in the service of progress and the Fatherland's... err, I mean nation's needs.

I'd say I agree with you about disliking Brownback's statements, but I'd rather agree with someone less, well, frightening. So in that case I'll agree with Elizabeth. I'm also sick to death of these people.

John Kindley: "I think taxes on gifts and inheritances should be increased and extended to more estates, so that income taxes can be decreased. A certain amount of tax money has to be collected to run the government, so why not tax the receipts of those who did nothing to earn the money before taxing the income of those who worked for it?"

As much as I, having been born a lower class kid, am inclined to dislike the inheritance rich, I still have to trust my rational mind here: it is none of the government's business (or it shouldn't be) where or how a private citizen acquired their legal fortune, or whether they "deserve" their inheritance and it should not be in the government's power to take that inheritance away.

The solution to the problem, that a "certain amount of tax money has to be collected to run the government" should not be finding ways to rob more money from citizens, it should be to figure out how to run the government for less.

I agree with Pogo, one of the primary duties of a government is to enforce property rights. Attempts to tie this to slavery are simply misdirection. This is about modern property rights.

Brownback managed to make himself instantly less appealing than any other candidate who's so far declared. May he and his followers exit the race as precipitously as they entered it.

hdhouse: Have you noticed that most of the other people who write comments here, regardless of their political or philosophical inclinations, don't write like idiots? Have you ever wondered why that is? Have you ever had the feeling, deep down, that you should try to emulate them? Look inside yourself, hd. Listen to your conscience. I know it must be a faint and resigned little voice that is very hard to hear, but if you be quiet and listen, you might just hear it saying: "You're not doing yourself, or your ideas, any service by writing like a slobbering moron! Redeem thyself!"

Anonymous said...

Dave wrote: "Well some guy earlier in the comments assumed I was sincere when I asked what the hell the big deal is about religion and why the religious are so serious and morose."

That was me. Are you mocking me because I took the time to read your post, think about it, then respond? Well, mock away pal! I thought you were a legitimate poster. My bad. Won't happen again.

Trey

Revenant said...

While I favor dramatically less overall government taxing and spending, I think taxes on gifts and inheritances should be increased and extended to more estates, so that income taxes can be decreased.

All that would result in is people blowing all of their savings instead of leaving it to their kids. It wouldn't help the needy at all.

I'd rather leave my money to my nieces and nephews (or kids, should I one day have some) then spend it all on myself. But if I'm not allowed to do that, you can bet your sweet as that I'm going to spend every red cent I can manage on yours truly, and do the best I can to die a pauper.

That's a fact of human psychology that that sort of braindead populism misses: most people work to build things for their children and grandchildren. Make it impossible for them to do that -- by confiscating their life's work to feed the children of some worthless welfare mother -- and they'll stop doing it. Why bother building something when the people you care about will be forbidden from enjoying it when you're gone?

downtownlad said...

Bush's approval rating is at what now, 33%? The only Republicans that will even be left to vote in the primaries will be the religious nuts. Everyone else will be a Democrat by then.

I think Brownback has an excellent shot.

tjl said...

"The only Republicans that will even be left to vote in the primaries will be the religious nuts"

DTL mistakenly assumes that the number of Republicans is equal to the number of those who express support for Bush. DTL hasn't been paying attention to the recent utterances of certain Republican senators, e.g., Chuck Hagel.

Brownback's odds of being nominated, much less elected, are about the same as those of John Kerry.

Pogo said...

Re: 'Brownback's odds of being nominated, much less elected, are about the same as those of John Kerry."

Agreed. I don't think God appreciates the sort of folks who report aloud that the Almighty has been conferencing with them and yes a run is advised.

It speaks poorly of God's network; His people really ought to get in touch with Backbrown's people and, you know, clear a few things up.

Revenant said...

DTL mistakenly assumes that the number of Republicans is equal to the number of those who express support for Bush. DTL hasn't been paying attention to the recent utterances of certain Republican senators, e.g., Chuck Hagel.

Or John McCain, for that matter, who has been sharply critical of Bush since the 2000 primary season.

DTL is also assuming that the 67% of the public who don't express support for Bush are to Bush's *left*. But a lot of right-wingers abandoned Bush over his support of illegal immigrants, his ineffective prosecution of the war on terror, and his embrace of welfare programs like the drug entitlement. What *those* people want is someone who'll crack down at the borders, kick some Muslim ass, and stop spending money like its going out of style. They're obviously not going to get those things from a Democrat.

downtownlad said...

That's irrelevant tjl. I don't know one person who supports Bush who plans on voting for the Republican - unless the nominee were Giuliani. I'm sure there are a few, but there aren't many.

And since Giuliani likes gay people - we all know that has ZERO chance of happening.

Check out the polls of the number of people who consider themselves Republican vs. Democrat. The Republican numbers of plummeting.

I used to be a Republican. Bush drove me from the party. You won't catch me voting for another one of those hateful bigots in my lifetime.

You tjl - are still drinking the Kool-aid.

Let's face it. Brownback has a great chance, because all of the other Republicans are untouchable. McCain - hated by the right. Giuliani - likes gays. Who's left? Newt??? Give me a break. Romney??? Well he's a clone of Brownback so who cares? Besides Romney is a Mormon - and that makes him a certified lunatic.

Anonymous said...

In the past few years, an increasing number of articles and stories about tax reform have appeared in the media and the internet. It is becoming increasingly clear that the current US tax code has become a problem that we must address and solve.

One of the proposed reforms is the flat tax, described in Steve Forbes' book, "The Flat Tax Revolution." The flat tax reform proposal in Congress (HR 1040) is a definite improvement over the convoluted tax code. Filing simplified tax returns on a postcard is appealing and has some popularity. However, history shows us that a flat tax doesn't offer a permanent or satisfactory solution to our tax code problems.

The income tax started out as a single rate (flat) tax. Under the control of government and isolated from the People, it gradually grew into an oversized, complex mess, with numerous loopholes, multiple brackets and high rates. In 1986, the tax code was overhauled, simplified and reduced down to two brackets. Many deductions and loopholes were eliminated. Today, we are up to six brackets, and most of the loopholes are back.

This demonstrates twice over that a flat tax simply won't stay flat due to the precedents that have been set. The flat tax leaves the current tax code in place and sets the stage for another return to the system as it is now; Congress with its power of legislation, and We the People with little input or control. Lobbyists have more access to congressmen than we do, and will continue to use their influence to procure tax breaks for special interests. Each tax break complicates the tax code just a little more, and they all add up to a code with over 66,000 pages that even tax professionals don’t fully understand.

Finally, a flat tax is still income tax; a direct tax contrary to the founders' vision as set forth in the Constitution. The income tax was made possible only after self-serving politicians did an end run around the Constitution and the People in 1913 and took powers for themselves that the Constitution denied them.

In the 109th Congress, the FairTax Bill (HR/S 25) had 63 congressional co-sponsors; the Flat Tax Bill (HR 1040) had six.

Rep. John Linder (GA) introduced HR25 (The FairTax Act of 2007) to the 110th Congress on January 4th, 2007. It already has 35 co-sponsors. The Flat Tax Bill (HR 1040) has not been introduced yet.

Popular support for the FairTax is strong and growing; flat tax support has all but vanished. Two very successful FairTax rallies have taken place; no flat tax rallies have been held or planned. The FairTax Book has outsold Steve Forbes' book "Flat Tax Revolution" by a very large margin.

Income tax in any form, flat or graduated, is unacceptable. It's time to scrap all income-based taxes once and for all and replace them with a single one-time retail tax, one that we control. At the same time, we need to repeal the 16th amendment so that income taxes will remain a memory.

Once enacted, the FairTax will shut down the income tax code and replace it with the consumption tax. Companion legislation, to be introduced to Congress soon, will start the process toward a constitutional amendment that will repeal the 16th amendment.

The flat tax was a good idea in its time, but that time has come and gone. Let's give the FairTax a chance.

Chad Sargent
FairTax Volunteer
Raleigh, NC

The Jerk said...

If you don't have a right to your body, why bitch about Gitmo, habeas corpus, Dred Scott, or Plessy?


I do think control over one's body is a right. But I don't make then proceed to err by conflating autonomy with ownership.

bearbee said...

John Kindley: "I think taxes on gifts and inheritances should be increased and extended to more estates, so that income taxes can be decreased. A certain amount of tax money has to be collected to run the government, so why not tax the receipts of those who did nothing to earn the money before taxing the income of those who worked for it?"

When taxes become 'unreasonable', people will find a way to protect their wealth such as by leaving the country and/or moving their money offshore, leaving the Government with nothing.

I understand that at one point, the US had marginal rates of 90% for high income earners. To avoid high brackets people would work less.

Pogo said...

Re: "I do think control over one's body is a right. But I don't make then proceed to err by conflating autonomy with ownership."

How can one practice any real autonomy of self if he is owned by someone else?
How can one engage in true self-government or self-determination if one is not in fact in charge of oneself?
By what tortured definition does one gain autonomy without ownership?.

If you own a car and I drive it away from the parking lot, I am stealing, not practicing autonomy. Autonomy presumes self-ownership. It makes no sense to suggest otherwise.

Pray tell, how do you have a right to yourself, your bodily integrity, to be free of violence and coercion, if you do not somehow own yourself? The child's cry It's mine tells us how basic this concept is.

Pogo said...

"at one point, the US had marginal rates of 90% for high income earners"

This, coupled with the massive social spending from the 1940s to the 1960s, was of course what led to our economic decline in the 1970s.

bearbee's right. Confiscatory taxes also make people move with their feet. This explains the flight of the rich from England, either physically, or via monetary shell games.

This is an old, old lesson that governments simply refuse to learn. The best evidence that taxes are too high is the prevasiveness of methods of tax avoidance and evasion. (No, it has not always been thus, not in the US.)

Anonymous said...

DTL wrote: "And since Giuliani likes gay people - we all know that has ZERO chance of happening."

Here is a clue for you, and it is no charge. Dude, most of us conservatives do not think about people's sexual orientation. It is irrelevent to us. Liberals are fascinated with people's orientation and race, not us. We are more practical than that. Many of us oppose gay marriage, but that is different from getting out the pink triangles and lining people up for the "showers."

So take a deep breath, hold it, now let it out slowly. Better?

Just cause you guys are focused on orientation and race does not mean we are.

Trey

me said...

Perhaps The Jerk has his eyes on abortion when he says people don't own their bodies. If a woman has autonomy over her body but she doesn't "own" it, then if she gets pregnant the state can come in and say, "Sorry, no more autnonomy until the baby is out. You don't own your uterus, the state does, and if you get pregnant, the state owns it for nine months, and since you're attached to it, we own you. After the birth, you have autonomous control of your body again."

Also he could mean mandatory vaccination -- I think the state still has the right to give you a shot even if you refuse, in the name of public health.

Also, conscription into the armed forces. I'm sure there are more examples.

The Jerk, that is just my extrapolation of where you were going with that argument, I apologize if I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

The reason this kind of hyper-religious language irks a lot of people is not that they (we) really fear that the country is heading towards some kind of theocracy or that government policies would be changed radically to reflect the president's religious views. Its that this rhetorical style is very exclusionary. It is easily embraced by people who share the candidate's brand of faith, but it signals to others (me) that our input isn't informing his or her decisionmaking on behalf of all of us. One can argue that more secular rhetoric alienates the religious voters, but I think that's a harder case to make.

Anonymous said...

I'm not quite sure how this post ended up with comments so focused on tax issues, but I wanted to comment on that too:

Palladian: As much as I, having been born a lower class kid, am inclined to dislike the inheritance rich, I still have to trust my rational mind here: it is none of the government's business (or it shouldn't be) where or how a private citizen acquired their legal fortune, or whether they "deserve" their inheritance and it should not be in the government's power to take that inheritance away. The solution to the problem, that a "certain amount of tax money has to be collected to run the government" should not be finding ways to rob more money from citizens, it should be to figure out how to run the government for less.


I think this kind of misses the point. Of course, the government should be run efficiently and use as little tax money as possible. But what sources of income are taxed and how efficiently the government should be run are separate issues.

The argument in favor of estate tax is not really about whether trust fund kids "deserve" their wealth. Its about efficiency. What wealth can the government tax while causing the least distortion to ordinary market incentives? Taxing earned income creates a disincentive to work, to employ others, to be productive (as the market would define productivity).

Taxing accumulated wealth creates an incentive to spend the wealth you have while you're alive or donate it to (tax deductible) charitable causes if you don't want it to fund the government. You can argue that it creates a disincentive to save but that effect is minimal (in 2007, the tax only applies to estates of more than $2 million plus other carve outs for spouse, etc). Maybe more than $2 million should be sheltered or there should be more protection for small business/farm/ranch interests, but taxing estates still is more economically efficient than taxing earned income.

Anonymous said...

Joseph H wrote: "One can argue that more secular rhetoric alienates the religious voters, but I think that's a harder case to make."

Good point, and I concur. The secular rhetoric that worries me is the rehtoric that positions me (a Conservative Christian) as a threat to America.

Trey

The Jerk said...

Pray tell, how do you have a right to yourself, your bodily integrity, to be free of violence and coercion, if you do not somehow own yourself?

Ownership is a shorthand for a set of rights that includes control, but control does not always and everywhere imply ownership. Ownership usually includes the right of alienation and the right to destroy what is owned. One's control over one's body does not typically include those rights. That is why the control one has over one's body is not really akin to ownership.

Me's post contains other examples where the right of control over one's body differs from the rights traditionally associated with the concept of ownership.

John Kindley said...

Revenant: "most people work to build things for their children and grandchildren. Make it impossible for them to do that -- by confiscating their life's work to feed the children of some worthless welfare mother -- and they'll stop doing it."

The idea (admittedly unrefined)I floated regarding inheritance and gift taxes was premised first on an abhorrence, in good libertarian fashion, of taxes in general and income taxes specifically. In contrast to the ideas of Bill Gates Sr. et al, I'm not proposing we keep and expand inheritance taxes to fund government welfare programs, but that we do so in order that we might tax the legitimate earnings of lower income earners less or not at all. Say that the government needs $50k for some legitimate purpose: I think it's better if that money comes from somebody's $200k inheritance than by confiscating $2k from the income of 25 people earning $20k per year, for the poor folks themselves and for the economy and society in general.

Admittedly, by doing that you are ultimately not taxing every person in direct proportion to their lifetime earnings, but I think there is something to the arguments (typical of those who favor progressive taxation) that the rich benefit more from the stability and status quo of the economic infrastructure protected by government than do the poor, and therefore should pay more for it. Philosophically, there is no basis for asserting that that higher amount should be based simply on taxing the income of everyone, rich and poor alike, based on the exact same percentage. I don't recall who said, "What need have the poor for a battleship?"

All that said, the "FairTax" proposed above by Chad Sargent may be a better alternative (or it could perhaps work with the inheritance and gift tax to totally eliminate the income tax), and I'm going to look into it.

I'm not sure that our cultural expectation that folks should leave behind a lot of money to give their progeny a leg up in the world is an unqualified good thing. A lot of people, including I'm sure some self-made rich people, believe that a better expectation and norm is that people, including the children of the wealthy, earn and make their own way in the world. If we incorporate the FairTax and find a way to increase use taxes and decrease government spending, perhaps there is a way to eliminate the income tax without making inheritance and gift taxes so high that they amount to a confiscatory tax, so that people still have an incentive to save and leave something behind for their heirs.

It's agreed that the first and most important solution is to decrease overall government spending and taxing.

John Kindley said...

Joseph Hovsep: "You can argue that it creates a disincentive to save but that effect is minimal (in 2007, the tax only applies to estates of more than $2 million plus other carve outs for spouse, etc). Maybe more than $2 million should be sheltered or there should be more protection for small business/farm/ranch interests, but taxing estates still is more economically efficient than taxing earned income."

Appreciate your clarifications, which are in line with what I was thinking. However, to my mind (which admittedly is amateurish in tax matters), if we want to replace more of the income tax with inheritance, estate and gift taxes, we should expand the latter to cover more estates than just those over the current $2 million exemption (e.g. all estates which are probated, i.e. over $50k in Indiana).

Agreed that there should be some protection for family farms and small family businesses.