Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Richard Cohen on Mitt Romney and Rev. Mike Huckabee
This piece by Richard Cohen illustrates perfectly a point I made long ago about concerns that Mitt Romney's religious beliefs might affect his actions as President, should he be elected. Way back in February, I said:
On the one hand, we should generally want to know whether any candidate expresses a desire, through word or deed, to force us to live in accordance with his religious dictates. On the other hand, what difference does it really make what particular religion a candidate espouses if we answer the first question? To sum up my views on the question: I don't care which sect of Christianity Mitt Romney belongs to, so long as he is not committed to using the government to expand the role of Christianity in my life.Cohen's tack is to note that all the attention being focused on Romney is distracting everyone from another candidate for whom this issue definitely should be a major concern -- ordained Baptist minister Mike Huckabee.
[The Rev. Mike Huckabee's] Web site forthrightly declares that he does not distinguish between his faith and his politics. "I don't separate my faith from my personal and professional lives," he says.Cohen hits the nail on the head with that passage in the bold above, although he should have also noted that since the government has a monopoly on the use of force, Huckabee would not only get to circumvent an open debate about his views, but make the rest of us abide by them.
But a president should do exactly that. When Huckabee says he favors the teaching of intelligent design in public schools, he's taking a distinctly religious position. Intelligent design has no basis in science. And when any issue, any question, becomes a matter of faith, it means it cannot be argued. That's not what we do in a democracy. We argue about everything. (This column is my modest contribution.) [bold added]
I have plenty of other reasons not to back Mitt Romney (including some concessions he has made to the religious right), but Huckabee is perhaps the worst candidate in the Republican field in terms of purposely endangering the secular character of our republic. (But see below.) I would suggest that as a bare minimum along the lines of intellectual activism, one always refer to Huckabee as, "The Reverend Mike Huckabee".
Charen on Paul
Mona Charen's latest column attacks Ron Paul along many of the same lines I have. Interestingly, she notes that Paul is popular among various elements of the lunatic fringe, and has made multiple appearances on the kooky Alex Jones radio program. One thing Charen misses, being conservative, is that Paul is also anti-abortion.
The Reverend Mike Huckabee is dangerous for wanting to mix religion and politics, but at least he is honest about wanting to do so. Paul pretends to be a secular candidate and does the same thing. In that sense, he is more dangerous to our secular republic than the Reverend, because he will fool some who would otherwise oppose the agenda of the religious right.
And I haven't even touched on the fact that as a libertarian, Paul is a poor proponent of individual rights generally and, in particular the philosophical arguments for them espoused by Ayn Rand, who is often mistaken for (or smeared as) a libertarian.
Deep-Six the Law of the Sea
Thomas Bowden of the Ayn Rand Institute has published a must-read column against the Law of the Sea in the Wall Street Journal. [Update: Valda Redfern informs me that the article can now be read in its entirety here.]
Despite the treaty's allusion to seabeds as the "common heritage of mankind," mankind as a whole has done exactly nothing to create value in the deep ocean, which is a remote wilderness, virtually unexploited. Under the proposed treaty, however, the ocean mining companies -- whose science, exploration, technology, and entrepreneurship are being counted on to gather otherwise inaccessible riches -- are treated as mere servants of a world collective.In a time when mankind desperately needs better access to natural resources, the last thing we need is st choke off efforts to exploit them. Read the whole thing.
In practice, under the treaty's explicitly socialist approach, mining companies operate as mere licensees who must render hefty application fees as well as continuing payments (read: taxes) and obtain prior approval at every stage of work, under regulations that emerge sluggishly from multinational committees.
Licensees must also enrich a U.N.-operated competitor called, spookily enough, "The Enterprise." For every square mile of ocean bottom a licensee explores, half must be relinquished to The Enterprise, free of charge -- and the Enterprise gets to pick the better half.
A Monty Pythonesque proposal is now closer to becoming law in Colorado.
The Colorado Supreme Court cleared the way Tuesday for an anti-abortion group to collect signatures for a ballot measure that would define a fertilized egg as a person.Unfortunately, while the proposal is laughably absurd in the abstract, its consequences for the daily lives of anyone it effects will be anything but pleasant.
The court approved the language of the proposal, rejecting a challenge from abortion-rights supporters who argued it was misleading and dealt with more than one subject in violation of the state constitution.
If approved by voters, the measure would give fertilized eggs the state constitutional protections of inalienable rights, justice and due process.
"Proponents of this initiative have publicly stated that the goal is to make all abortion illegal -- but nothing in the language of the initiative or its title even mentions abortion," Kathryn Wittneben of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado said in a statement. "If that's not misleading, I don't know what is."
Wittneben and others said the measure would have would hamper in-vitro fertilization and stem cell research and would effectively ban birth control.
Proponents of the measure disagree.
"It doesn't outlaw abortion, it doesn't regulate birth control," said Kristi Burton, 20, of Colorado for Equal Rights. "It's just a constitutional principle. We're laying a foundation that every life deserves protection.
Burton said the initiative would simply define a human.
"It's very clearly a single subject," Burton said. "If it's a human being, it's a person, and hey, they deserve equal rights under our law."
Colorado for Equal Rights must collect 76,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot. Supporters have six months to gather the necessary signatures — a deadline that began with the collection of the first signatures Tuesday, said Rich Coolidge, a spokesman for the secretary of state.
Anti-abortion activists said similar voter-led initiatives or legislative efforts are under way in five other states, including Montana, Georgia, Oregon, Michigan and South Carolina. [minor formatting changes, bold added]
Today: (1) Corrected an error. (2) Added hypertext anchors.
11-26-07: Added link to Bowden article at ARI.