The enemy of my enemy ...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

... is not necessarily my friend.

Via HBL come three must-read articles about a couple of the early GOP front-runners for the 2012 presidential election, both of whom currently have significant Tea Party support. The first discusses a fundamentalist Christian movement to which Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry both have ties.

Since I knew he was from a family of Holocaust survivors, I asked him what he thought of the mandate that all non-Christians would have to convert or die. Oscar said that if his relatives refused to become Christians or submit to forced exile, then they would suffer the civil penalty for practicing idolatry. He would carry out the execution himself if called upon to do so by the Christian state.

Oscar was the first self-consciously Christian fascist I ever met, but he wasn't the last. Eventually, the movement, which was scorned by many leaders of the Religious Right for being "too crazy," went underground as its leaders died or fought among themselves.

Today, two of the leading Republican presidential candidates, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, reportedly have ties to the Dominionist movement. ...
The second goes into more detail about Bachmann's sordid intellectual and political past.
Bachmann and her political consultants also know that her inoffensive ode to liberty is necessary because many voters don't respond well to religious language. The more Bachmann talks about God, the more she is likely to be asked about [Francis] Schaeffer, [John] Eidsmoe, [David A.] Noebel, and some of the other exotic influences on her thinking. The success of her campaign will rest partly on her ability to keep these influences, which she has talked about for years, out of the public discussion. As I started getting deeper into a conversation with her about Schaeffer, she abruptly ended the interview. She said she had to leave for an appearance on "Hannity" but would try to set up another time to talk. I didn't hear from her again. Her press secretary later told me that Bachmann "wasn't comfortable with the line of questions, and that's why there wasn't a follow-up conversation." [minor format edits]
Schaeffer is a fundamentalist who "condemns the influence of the Italian Renaissance, the Enlightenment, Darwin, secular humanism, and postmodernism"; Eidsmoe is a fundamentalist legal activist who has been disinvited from a Tea party appearance because of a previous appearance at a national convention of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens; and Noebel is, basically a fundamentalist conspiracy nut.

The third piece notes that Rick Perry is, in its title's words, a "massive statist." This article reiterates a fact I mentioned a few days ago (i.e., that most of the new jobs in Texas have been in the government sector), but it elaborates further on why Texas has been less severely effected by the nation's current moribund economic conditions. It isn't because Rick Perry is its governor.

All of these are very good, but the first and the last of these are quick must-reads, and show that a second term for Barack Obama is not necessarily the worst thing that could befall America.

-- CAV


Mark Lindholm said...

If only the mainstream media would write such stories about Obama and his ilk. Let's see Obama on the bus fretting about a 57 state gaffe, or let's hear about his vague "associations" with La Raza or the Communist party. Have ex-commies write the story so they can proclaim with confidence that they KNOW the green commies are secretly plotting to murder anyone not ideologically pure.

When given the choise between a candidate who campaigns primarily on a free market economy with some anti-abortion and religious nonsense thrown in, or a candidate who only feigns religious beliefs but openly desires to command the entire economy (as long as we don't call it socialism!), it's a no brainer. And yes, the latter is a far worse alternative.

Gus Van Horn said...

Perry is campaigning on lip service to a free economy and has signed into law religious legislation. Both are clearly much more religious than they let on.

This is not, in either case, a real free-marketeer with just a little lip service to religion.

JC said...

In the next election we may have to decide between Francis Schaeffer or Jeremiah Wright? While I agree that Bachmann and Perry are not suitable candidates for president I am still weary of hit pieces like the first two articles. The third link seems pretty straight forward. Some of the damning associations in the New Yorker piece just merely state that she had a book on her reading list and then they pull some insane quote from it to smear Bachmann with it. Reminds me of hit jobs on Ayn Rand that try and identify her with nietzsche or that criminal that she supposedly admired which led to a short story

Mark Lindholm said...

Perry's platform includes some wonderful things like repealing Obamacare. He speaks in perfectly harsh terms about the Federal Reserve. I don't see him calling for forced conversion to Christianity either, despite some (leftist, no doubt) guy attributing beliefs to him and Bachmann based on a dude he once met.

To say he is a huge statist because he accepted federal dollars is somewhat ridiculous. If he hadn't taken the money, would Washington have given it back to the taxpayers?

But my real problem is with that Bachmann piece, which is so typical of the New Yorker, just a bunch of smears derssed up in sneering condescension. They dredge up every gaffe she ever made at the beginning in lieu of serious discussion about her platform (which is apparently little more than a collection of "resentments"). So similar to the hit piece they did on the Koch brothers.

Richard said...

Very disturbing, a Christian crusade for their own Sharia.

Gus Van Horn said...

JC and Mark,

I can see why you would find the longer piece on Bachmann suspect, and it arguably does exaggerate certain aspects of Bachmann's background. At the same time, she recommended, until very recently, books by some of the very kooks mentioned in the article, so quoting from them seems fairer game than usual for hit pieces.


Regarding Perry as a statist, his accepting federal money is not, on its own, cause for saying he's a statist. But, as the article notes, he did this, and didn't bother to cut back on the size of his government.

And he says he wants to repeal ObamaCare. So what? Every Republican an his uncle says that, but they usually follow with the "promise" to replace it with a "better" statist plan. Given Perry's willingness to, say, force couples to undergo marriage counseling, I have little confidence that Perry is going to say, "Hey! Let's not just repeal ObamaCare, but let's start getting the state completely out of medicine.

It's easy to criticize Obama. What's hard -- and no Republican has done this so far -- is to articulate a plan that doesn't entail merely a different (and more palatable) form of the same thing. (Romney is merely the most obvious one of the pack to do this.)

Mark Lindholm said...

I wouldn't go so far as to say NO Republican articulates a non-statist plan. Ron Paul does.

And it seems that the de facto Republican alternative to Obamacare these days involves 3 decidedly non-statist steps: tort reform, allowing insurers to cross state lines, and eliminating the employee health insurance deduction (which is a classic, how can the Dems complain when its raising taxes on the rich!).

Bachmann, that wacky Dominionist Theocrat, supports all 3 of those steps, although she favors replacing the tax deduction for corporations with one for individuals.

Gus Van Horn said...

So, okay, a couple of Republicans offer what COULD, in a broader context of their other views, represent initial, proper steps in the extraction of the government from medicine, but which are all but meaningless in their cases. Bachmann and Paul (a pro-lifer) are altruists, and so are not morally opposed to the welfare state on a fundamental level AND each is unacceptable anyway, on other grounds (which are related to their flawed fundamental moral premises).

Mark Lindholm said...

If altruism makes a politician unacceptable, who are we to vote for?

We who support Objectivism are so far outside the ethical mainstream that we can't hope to see a viable "pure" candidate in the near future.

Isn't it reasonable to make a distinction between those politicians who would prefer people have the choice to act altruistically, and those (like Obama) who believe in enforcing altruistic behavior at every level? At least Ron Paul believes I should be able to act according to my ethics (for the most part), even if he doesn't think like me.

Gus Van Horn said...

You're right that altruism does not, in and of itself, disqualify a candidate from support. What really disqualifies someone is when they apply it consistently enough to be dangerous. Obama is obviously very bad in this regard. Bachmann and Perry are also bad -- their altruism undercuts what should be a moral foundation for the inconsistent pro-capitalist views they hold.

Paul, I have to concede, is dangerous more so for his mysticism than his altruism. His mysticism causes him to be pro-life, regarding as humans mere fetuses. On top of that, he also shows a severe misunderstanding of individual rights, most glaringly the right to self-defense as applied to a free nation, in his pacifism. (And remember, his views are often confused with ours, thanks to the somewhat popular misconception of us as "libertarians" of the LP variety.)

So, although Paul is likely at least somewhat altruistic, I have to concede that he's probably dangerous primarily for other, philosophically deeper reasons. (Not that these don't also apply to Bachmann and Perry.)