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Wild Bill (Conant)

You need to visit blog sites, such as mine, and websites, such as The 9.12 Project Network (for example)if you want to find some intellectual conversations regarding the problems we face and how we believe that solutions should be formulated. Yes, you will see emotional comments regarding controversies such as abortion and gun rights, but you should expect that. Not everyone is an "intellectual" such as yourself. However, you will also see some constructive conversations on these issues as well. Personally, I believe that "intellectuals" who were involved in policy-making over the past 20 years (for example) were some of the reasons why we are in such a financial and "anti-constitutional" mess today. I take a different point of view regarding the Constitution than you do. You insinuated in one of your latest posts that the U.S. Constitution is a living document and should be adjusted as times change. However, if you study the issues that the Framers of the Constitution faced and how they resolved them, you should be able to see that maintaining their values and principles led to resolutions which created the Constitution. The problem in the past 50 years is that the federal government and the court system have been slowly interpreting the Constitution based on their personal views, as opposed to sticking to the values, principles and morales that the Constitution espoused. This has directly led to the ongoing views of the responsibilities of the federal government and the court system, leading to decisions that are opposite of the public needs and views. The Constitution framed our government to place the power to the people first, followed by local, state and then federal entities. The federal government was intended to help resolve states' issues and provide protection to the citizens of the U.S. The people have the power to make policies and enjoy the rights of life, liberty and property as granted by the Constitution. But by having our elected representatives developing policies which do not reflect the people's needs but serve their own and/or special interests' needs, we have evolved from a republic (the intent of the Constitution) to a perverted democratic government (not what was intended). May I recommend that you read such books as "The 5000 Year Leap" and restudy the writings of such intellectuals as John Locke, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin (to name a few). You hopefully will get an understanding as to what today's educated, responsible and concerned populace is facing and what we are approaching in an "intellectual" manner.

John Lofton, Recovering Republican

Forget, please, "conservatism." It has been, operationally, de facto, Godless and therefore irrelevant. Secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God both are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure. As Stonewall Jackson's Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

"[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today .one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth."

Our country is collapsing because we have turned our back on God (Psalm 9:17) and refused to kiss His Son (Psalm 2).

John Lofton, Editor, TheAmericanView.com
Recovering Republican

PS – And “Mr. Worldly Wiseman” Rush Limbaugh never made a bigger ass of himself than at CPAC where he told that blasphemous “joke” about himself and God.

Oskar Lange

I enjoyed your post. One point of correction: you seem to use the word "isolationist" when I think you mean "non-interventionist." An isolationist foreign policy couples non-interventionism with economic protectionism.

I make this point because non-interventionists (e.g., Ron Paul) are often characterized as isolationists. Conflating these two issues, though usually unintentional, is often confusing.



Roy D. Schickedanz

Conservatives represent by the Republicans continued to act by trying to destroy the messenger versus the message, which is more often true than being false.

A good example is the latest over CIA briefings and water boarding and Speaker Nancy Peolosi, indicating that the CIA lied. The record of the CIA and their cover stories is well known, serving our enemies better than ourselves.

I would like to know what our good Republicans did when they heard of same procedures? Did they go to President Bush, indicating the Administration was violating both domestic and international laws and agreements? Or did they give their carte blanche to Bush; helping to provide a spin relating to our national defense, fear of fear itself?

All this reflects on the conservatives and the Republicans ideas in terms of fascism at doorstep our demoncracy.

Today, we have Rush Limbaugh acting and directing their hatred and frustration that there are Americans wanting to take back their country under the value of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, violating the Oath of Office and laws therein represent nothing but treason.

We assert they were promoting crimes against humanity, which can only be resolved by appointing a special prosecutor and indicting.

The Conservative Movement under the Republicans needs to be destroyed.



I would wager that both Becker and Posner are "conservative" in the way that they conduct their personal lives. So I would suggest that the consevatives referenced in this blog refer to a set of princples which may represent some funky public version of a political view which has little to do with being "conservative".


In effect, abortions in these cases would allow women to substitute children who would be born later, and would be better taken care of, for the fetuses that are aborted now.

This argument falls apart when you consider adoption and the waiting list for that.


Jack -

That's an interesting and probably honest response, you don't care if Global Warming is used as a "false icon" if it gets you the end you want.

I think a lot of Conservatives might take issue simply with the way it is argued or really not allowed to be argued.

Gore refuses to appear with scientists who think otherwise.

Gore's movie with plenty of factual errors is shown to elementary school children whenever the teacher didn't properly prepare for class.

Gore who thinks the issue is of upmost importance flies around on Leer jets and maintains a 20,000 square foot home.

What begins to happen when you won't even allow for debate like that is the voter,maybe only the Conservative voter begins to see it as an area that's highly specialized and that he has to just accept.

The voter is taken out of the equation simply by the fact that he can't base his decisions on common sense or first hand experience-top that off with false information being propagated and debate being restricted and then yes I think you are on to something one more way to take the voter out of the loop.

I don't think however that is a good idea, the best way to maintain law is to make sure it has a broad basis of support- it's much easier and cheaper to "enforce" that way.

Ares Vista

Labeling people either 'conservative' or 'liberal', trying to categorize hundreds of millions of people into two limited groups. This is ridiculous. How can two opposite groups represent the thinking of all the people in America? People need to think for themselves instead of joining these 'gangs'.



I am not going to patronize you by telling you something you already know or repeating some argument you have already heard, but your comment on abortion in this post was even less satisfactory.

I only note that the loss of a human life, or in your parlance, potential human life, is not so easily justifiable as the cost of waiting to carry a child to term and take care of him or her.

I agree with madawaskan's point that you do not do a very good job of addressing this issue. Most attempts to improve the deplorable state of adoption and even related social services are shot down by the abortion lobby.

Please consider that there are many voices who, if they were not prematurely silenced, may care to respectfully, if strongly, disagree with you.



Roy D. Schickedanz

It doesn’t matter if Gary Becker and Richard Posner are Conservatives or not. It is the principles, which they live by, and willing to expound in their blog on subjects, which they deem important that will find an audience of concern.

Blogs tend to produce less than critical discussions on any matter.

Under previous president, President Bush, they used the Conservatives in total without any outrage for policies and rhetoric produce.

Thus Conservatives should suffer the consequences of going along and associating themselves. Never saying No, always saying Yes!

The creditability of truth was lost in lies and propaganda. That record in history will certainly judge their performance and deeds.

The revisionists will put a slant, doctoring up the record that was less than honorable.

It became a Presidency of back sliding toward fascism, that we almost lost our Democracy to criminal thugs.

Conservatives refuse to address this record, letting Rush Limbaugh to be their spokesman for un-American activities, wanting the current administration to fail.

The Election had the population on the whole having enough and wanting change from this garbage.



Alas, those of us who admire J.S. Mill have a difficult time deciding with whom we shall cast our lot.


"A conservative philosophy would limit governmental international interventions to cases where the risks from not taking actions are very large, and the interventions reasonably straightforward."

So where the hell were you when it might have mattered to be stating these basic truths?


"A conservative philosophy would limit governmental international interventions to cases where the risks from not taking actions are very large, and the interventions reasonably straightforward."

So where the hell were you when it might have mattered to be stating these basic truths?


Becker stated:

I claimed in that post that the current Republican Party is trying to incorporate two inconsistent sets of beliefs: one is the support of competition and generally freer markets, and the other is the advocacy of interventionist policies on various social issues, such as gays in military, stem cell research, or in international affairs.

In the libertarian view of the world, there are two dimensions of freedom: personal and economic. This can be shown on a two-axis graph: on one axis is less to more personal freedom, and on the other is less to more economic freedom. We libs are in the top, right corner. Liberals, preferring more personal and less economic freedom, are in the upper left; conservatives, believing in less personal and more economic freedom, are in the lower right.
See here for more detail: http://www.theadvocates.org/quizp/index.html

paul o

Could you back up your assertion about government being inefficient. Compared to what? Measured how? The big banks were efficient in doing what?

I'm an American living in Canada, and the single-payer (government) health care system here is about 20% more efficient than the private insurance system you have there. That's huge.

Chris Graves

The brief post by Matthew earlier today asking who should a admirer of John Stuart Mill side with in today's political world gets at the underlying confusion in the present discussion. Mill is the pivotal figure moving liberalism from a focus on individual liberty within a moral and socially stable framework based on equality before the law to a philosophy of radical, anti-social individualism that confuses liberty with license recognizing the need this notion of liberty brings with it of inviting governmental mandates for redistribution of wealth and status by the state. Professor Becker, as well as Matthew, seem confused in this discussion since Mill's version of liberalism cannot decide which it is: liberty or license, equality in the eyes of God or equality in the eyes of the bureaucratic egalitarian?

One confusion Professor Becker runs into is the role of morals and tradition. While I applaud his seeing the need to respect the record that we have from the past in how to organize and direct human action by means of decentralized, organic institutions that evolved to meet the demands of a particular people, he is all too ready to overthrow the benefits such institutions bring to daily life because he believes that he knows better than the accumulated wisdom of past generations.

While I agree, as did Edmund Burke, on the need for careful change as the times and circumstances change, the examples he gives to illustrate when he would be wiling to do so are alarming. First, he proposes granting women the right to independently hold property and to enter into contracts. Contrary to what Professor Becker says, and is widely believed due to leftist propaganda, women in England have held the right to own property and enter into contracts since the Middle Ages. They typically contracted this right away to some extent when they married. One very important tie that the woman has to the man is financial security. When this tie is weakened, so is the family. University of Virginia sociologists W. Bradford Wilcox and Steven L. Nock have found that women who do not work and whose husband adequately support them as the earn at least 65% of the household income are happier in their marriage and the marriage is stronger as a result. This finding holds for women across the temperament, educational, and political spectrum including feminists. They also find that a husband who is also emotionally supportive to be key to women's marital happiness. So, in some way, we do need to discourage women entering the work force after marriage. That truth from previous times still holds, according to contemporary studies.

The next mistake Professor Becker makes in the name of reasonable updating conservative views is his embrace of easy divorce. I would certainly argue for some legal justifications for divorce such as adultery, desertion by the other mate, physical abuse, etc. But there is wisdom in not allowing easy divorce. And most divorces nowadays are for relatively trivial reasons. See a study by Margaret Brinig of George Mason University and Douglas Allen, economist at Vancouver's Simon Fraser University on why people divorce and who is more likely to file for divorce--it is women by a long shot and not usually due to abuse, adultery, etc. Arizona State University psychologist Sanford Braver finds similar results in his study published in his *Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths.* The harm done to children, no matter how many there are, is long-lasting and common. Consider here the longitudinal studies of Judith Wallerstein. Both boys and girls are harmed in their development by the absence of one of the parents continually in the home. The psychological harm done to men can be life-threatening since they are typically more emotionally invested in marriage than most women, contrary to many people's understanding. Their suicide rate goes up dramatically after a divorce as does their propensity to contract cancer. Many women tend to lose financially from divorce. We are all harmed by easy divorce as men are socialized by marriage and given a safe outlet for their sexual impulses that brings with it tenderness and a sense of responsibility as they care for their families. If the family goes, so does the whole shootin' match--the community, the economy, the society, the culture. See the Marriage Project website at Rutgers University.

I have noticed people making reference to F.A. Hayek's "Why I am not a Conservative," in this discussion. In this essay, Hayek was talking about a continental European conservatism, not an Anglo-American conservatism, that rejected individual rights and defended the Ancien Regime. Hayek, like Burke, defended individual rights placed within a social context of established personal relationships where people are anchored to a particular tradition that supports the responsible and effective use of liberty. This was Hayek's view expressed very well in this essay, "Individualism: True and False." The true individualism is the socially situated individualism while false individualism is the self-contained, socially isolated atomistic individualism that paradoxically gives rise to socialism. I am afraid that both Professor Becker and Judge Posner are sliding into this trap of false individualism.

Both Professor Becker and Judge Posner seem to overlook the work of economist Douglass North who found that economic development is dependent upon cultural and social institutions. All too often free market economists are blind to factors outside of business relationships that provide a integrated package that responsible and fruitful economic practices can flourish within. When they do consider social institutions, they falsely believe that they will simply and easily adjust to the economic changes suchh as those that Professor Becker touches on in his discussion. Like left liberals and modal libertarians, they seem oblivious to historical and social structures that shape people's lives just as much or more than do purely economic ones.

Professor Becker's discussion of abortion, though nuanced, still falls into a disregard for the individual in a responsible, life nurturing relationship with others within a person's own family by advocating the killing of innocent human life for any reason whatsoever. While there are many defenses for abortion on demand ( I support therapeutic abortions but would like to see non-therapeutic outlawed as manslaughter except for cases of rape), Professor Becker's is quite disturbing:

"In effect, abortions in these cases would allow women to substitute children who would be born later, and would be better taken care of, for the fetuses that are aborted now. That seems to me to be a tradeoff worth making."

A commentator last week appealed to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. I think his appeal was timely especially in light of this line from Professor Becker's essay this week. The fundamental determinate of rational ethical decision identified by Kant was the Categorical Imperative. The second formulation of the Categorical Imperative as framed by Kant, but could be recognized in essence by any rational person, states: "Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end."

One problem with Kant as I read him is that he can argue from too abstract a perspective. We humans tend to view people who are different from us or distant from us as less than human. That is why we need face-to-face, on-going relationships with people with whom we forge a common future. The danger is that without these bonds, we fall into the false individualism that Hayek warned us against that threatens our liberty. In abortion on demand, we have the paradox of the bombardier mentality as we kill the child that holds our future dwelling within our own wombs or the womb of those we are closest to. In its baldest form, Professor Becker describes the epitome of irrationality, immorality, and self-destruction as we treat our own flesh and blood as a mere means to an end. This is not conservatism, which should seek to save and nuture; this is nihilism.


hmmm.........got it


nice informatiom

Ask to Ashu


There is only an inconsistency because you insist on viewing the size of government as being the highest aim of conservatism or the glue which holds it together.

The clue should be in the label.

Conservatives aim to conserve America's founding principles.

It is libertarians who cast their ideology predominantly along the lines of what government cannot do.

Thus, conservatives do not have trouble embracing the American military, despite the Founders' concerns over a standing army, because they see the armed forces as protecting the American way of life and indeed Western culture.

You also cannot understand conservatism without understanding the three bulwarks of society: church, family, and property. What distinguishes conservatism is not preference for small government (libertarians and anarchists share that), but in the preservation of individual rights---especially those around church, family, and property---from government encroachment.

This is a function of conservatives' belief in natural law---where rights are not granted by government but by God.

Difficult for lawyers to understand, surely, but the law is not the highest power in the land. The Lord is. To the extent that the law does not reflect the Law---say, Roe v. Wade---it tends to destabilize our society. Conservatives generally abhor such currents---the Founders built to last.

Read the Declaration of Independence. It embodies much of what conservatism seeks to preserve.

Roy D. Schickedanz

Bravo Telfon93!

Your comments are right on the money.

Best comments all around on the subject of conservativism.


Roy D. Schickedanz

Bravo Telfon93!

Your comments are right on the money.

Best comments all around on the subject of conservatism.


Roy D. Schickedanz

Damm Senators Lieberman and Graham for not fronting the disclosures of photographs of detainees and victims of American torture.

I ask who speaks for the victims certainly not Lieberman or Graham in terms of criminal acts that should prosecuted to the fullest of our laws and international agreements.

Lets review their positions concerning torture and international agreements.

Shame on them using ever excluse under the sun that we are at war. If we are not bound by the rules of war.

American conduct is a disgrace to our people and our country.

These are conservative values from where? I assume they must go to church, being good Christians that they are, having the love for humanity in their hearts.

When do they address a wrong for a wrong?



Hey! All this blogtastic rhetorical regurgitation of Philo 101 is well and good, but have any of you with GOP membership cards noticed-

None of this matters to the majority of current registered voters. I think the Judge is far too polite, or erudite, or both, to reductively state the key point here: without a compelling electoral message, none of the permutations of definitions of "conservative" will result in anything other than more wasted blog bytes.

The day of prominent American intellectuals is over anyway, in general, not just in the GOP. I don't want a resurgence of intellectual rigor in the party. I want a resurgence of practical problem solving:

1. Where safe, legal gun ownership goes up, crime goes down. Solution: shall-issue CHLs; enforcement of existing laws; no crazies, no felons, no druggies, no drunks, no spouse-beaters.

2. Where taxes are moderate and perceived fair, investment goes up, jobs go up, budgets balance. Compare today Texas and California. Solution: Stop stealing from employers ("the rich"), keeping most for the government teat-sucking unions, and tossing pennies to the "poor" under the tin halo of "justice." Aside: why aren't these "poor" crowding their local tv news outlets, demanding with pitchforks raised to show off their glowing resumes full of As in math and summer jobs mowing grass and excellent references?

3. The US pays to defend Europe. They let us because they know we need them to buy our stuff. We do it because we need them buy our stuff. They jerk us around in NATO, WTO, UN, and ICJ because they think we need them more than they need us. Solution: let Putin shut their gas off again next winter, and this time, let some German villagers freeze to death. Coincidentally, displacing the portion of the US budget spent defending Europe to Europe would make "deficit reduction" in the US a non-fantasy proposition.

4. Israel: Iran is not going to stop until they can deter your nuclear monopoly in the region, or attack you outright. Do what you have to do. You are the wronged party, and you have the right to defend yourself. Neither Egypt nor Saudi will cry for Tehran. With Iranian sponsorship cowed or killed, Lebanon and PCA will come to the table and deal, wither and become susceptible to control, or provoke a war they will lose. That's the part Olmert got right. Regional stability goes up, US interests are served.

5. All the pricey, balky, ugly windmills in the world plus all the toxic, pricey, balky, impotent solar panels in the world can't replace coal, gas and oil. Space-based solar or nuclear - those are your choices, short of Chinese-peasant standards of living. Space-based solar sound a little too Star Trek? Nuclear it is. Lots of it, and now. Drilling what we have wouldn't hurt either, especially since the Exxon Valdez resulted in exactly zero extinctions and has not been repeated on US soil since.

Messaging, folks. Madison Avenue. Reagan didn't get elected on brain-power. He did not shriek, rant, or scold. Hippies, Marxists, victimists, and potheads should not be this difficult to discredit, displace, and electorally dispose of. Let's argue about the words we use. Let's argue about the linkages between foreign policy and US wallets. Let's argue about what makes investors write checks. Let's argue about the words we need to make the cause-effect relationship between jobs and sales so exciting it causes swooning in the first four rows. "Abortion is murder," is true - the problem is saying that way is just going to get you labeled "religous whacko." Loving to hate the MSM also results in lost Senate seats. What I love is thinking about how to manipulate them, because that's what we need to win.

You do want to win, right?

sam vinson

It may be disappointing that both Judge Posner and Professor Becker are gloomy about their appreciation of the conservative or Republican condition in America today. In fact it should not be very surprising that Judge Posner assessment is negative when two weeks ago he published a book using the term "depression" to describe our current economic situation.There is an extraordinary difference between unemployment at 9% and 30% as in 1931. Similar statistical comparisons may be made for trade, immigration, bank stability, and most other classic economic indicators. And Judge Posner's gloominess about the state of the conservative movement should not surprise when compared with traditional conservative media pundits. Many "intellectual" conservatives felt battered and beaten from the past election and the experience of being associated with the Bush Administration.

It is surely true that some classic "conservative" economic theory must be reassessed in light of the financial problems of the past 2 years. Whether that ought consist of some derivative regulation, some international money supply regulation, or increased hold requirements on securitizations to facilitate more responsible originator conduct is a matter for experts like Becker with his traditional values to figure out.

The important point is that the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress who believe in deeper government economic involvement are already demonstrating the loss of freedom and efficiency associated with their program. They'll fumble the ball back to us because of the impracticality of their ideas. Remember this group is looking at Carter, not Clinton, for inspiration.

Judge Posner and Professor Becker may never be comfortable with a society that believes in the freedom to own and carry guns. It is beyond my understanding how they can truly think that relying on police for safety is fundamentally different than preferring Honda or BMW as a car maker to USDOT. But they do, and it is their right. As a legal conservative with exposure to the arguments against incorporation, I find it difficult to argue for guns based on originalism. In my view, it is a traditional right of English speaking people (obviously lost in a recently wimpish England).

As for stem cells, it seems to me that W may be coming out as the intellectual victor on the subject as researchers regularly now are demonstrating alternate ways to produce them. If the life issues can be avoided shouldnt we do so?

Judge Posner has had a lifelong focus on economics and its application to areas of human decisionmaking beyond economics. His credits are enormous in this regard. But all life is not economics, and neither is all government.

One can meaningfully chose efficiency or utility as a standard for a sector of life and other values for other sectors. And sometimes they do collide. For me no better Supreme Court decision exists than Warren's Sunday Blue Law opinion. The desirability of protecting the opportunity for family get-togethers he celebrated in that decision was a triumph of judicial self-restraint.

As for foreign wars, it may be controversial but i choose Polk as the best of our Presidents. California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of other states? Measured in current GDP who else so enriched America. The application of military force in response to terrorist attacks? My guess is that by the next Presidential election such use of force will enjoy 2/3 suuport, maybe more. Cheyney is right: it's dangerous out there and they will prove it.

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