Red Herring

The esteemed Vox Day considers that the invasion of Iraq might be a "distraction". Ah, but a distraction for whom and from what? Is it intended to distract the American people from the "failure" to find Osama bin-Laden? Or is it intended to distract bin-Laden from an ever-tightening noose? It is claimed that coalition forces know pretty much where OBL is (inacessible though it be), but that they either can't or won't go in and get him.

Such things can work in either direction. Given that the area where OBL is rumored to be is a harsh and unhospitable climate, should the US and its allies really be letting all the world know that they're closing in on him? Since he has the "home court" advantage, that would only increase his advantage. (This all presupposes, of course, that he is in fact still alive -- an idea much in doubt, given the nature of his infirmities.)

This all harks back to the Lewinsky-Bosnia "wag the dog" scenario. Was the invasion of Bosnia a red herring to distract the American people from the president's adulterous dealings with Ms. Lewinsky, or was word of the affair leaked to distract people from the failed invasion of Bosnia? Hindsight being what it is, the passage of time might give a clearer focus on both situations.

Having been misjudged and misunderstood in our own life, we're more than willing to give Pres. Bush the benefit of some considerable doubt. Perhaps there are legitimate reasons -- having to do with national security -- why the whole story is not being told. Eventually, however, the story must be told. It can only be hoped that it will be told in time for the electorate to take appropriate action.


Libertarian Outpost

The good folks at Evangelical Outpost might or might not have fairly good handle on Christianity, but their understanding of libertarianism obviously leaves something to be desired.

To those who don't fully understand it, freedom can be a rather scary thing. Perhaps that's why so many have tried over the millennia to do away with it. Free people are unpredictable, and some people just can't stand unpredictability.

Regarding EO's understanding of Christianity, much of their hang-up seems to revolve around the curious idea of "original sin". The idea is a rather odd one, presuming as it does that we're all born sinners instead of innocent. (Even the esteemed Vox Day seems to have fallen into this trap.) Libertarians, on the other hand, would tend to believe that people are basically decent, if a bit self-centered.

We would contend, of course, that there is no conflict between true libertarianism and true Christianity. God created man in His own image. Is God a sinner? Because of Adam's transgression, man has been cut off from the direct presence of God and must rely on God's revealed word to find his way in this life and to become "perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect". There is nothing in libertarianism that would conflict with this.

The Grandmaster of all Grandmasters showed a libertarian bent when He commanded His followers to "do unto others as ye would have them do unto you". Isn't this what libertarianism is all about? If there is a paradox in libertarianism, it is that libertarians want to improve society by leaving others alone. "Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the world will be clean", advised Goethe. What the statists and the religionists seem to miss is that there is nothing good about forced righteousness. And it matters not one whit whether that "righteousness" is keeping the Sabbath "holy" thru blue laws or preventing a "hostile work environment" thru "sexual harassment" policies.

Man cannot be saved in ignorance, nor can he be saved in slavery. God gave us free will in order to test us. Those who choose righteousness and live by faith in Christ will be exalted. Those who choose wickedness will be punished. How can those whose choices are made for them earn a reward?

There is a natural resistance to force. Martin Luther recognized this when he said "What can only be taught by the rod and with blows will not lead to much good; they will not remain pious any longer than the rod is behind them." Human beings resent being repressed -- by anyone. And they are quick to rebel against the yoke of oppression. It must be an innate instinct to strive for freedom, even for people who have gone their whole lives without it. Witness the Peaceful Revolution of 1989/90.

It certainly seems to us that the proper role of government is limited to those things that individuals cannot do for themselves. Righteousness is a personal matter, and ought not to be interfered with by the state. Unfortunately, the utopianists among us -- both of the right and the left -- seem to think that they can live your life better than you can. Left to their own devices, people will often make foolish -- or even evil -- choices. But... IT IS THEIR CHOICE TO MAKE!

We find it paradoxical to the point of idiocy that the government will use the threat of inordinate sanctions for minor interpersonal transgressions and yet at the same time step in to protect people from their own folly. How many people's lives have been ruined because of something they said or did that someone else took offense at? And yet, that same government will step in and demand that an employer hire an unqualified worker.

Foremost among all others, Christians should be demanding that the government leave us all alone to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling". We have no problem with people acting in their own self-interest, so long as no one else is deprived of the right to life, liberty, or property by force or by fraud. We take issue with those conservative "Christians" who seek to use the police power of the state to enforce their brand of morality, when they themselves are often guilty of worse immorality. They're quick to demand that their employees give a fair day's labor for a day's wage, but how often do they give a fair day's wage for a day's labor?

Our lives are governed by very simple natural laws, and most of our troubles in this world are caused by our attempts to circumvent those laws. All too often, those attempts involve government intervention. As P. J. O'Rourke put it, there is only one basic human right: the right to do as you damn well please. And with it, he says, comes the only basic human obligation: the obligation to take the consequences.

What libertarians seek to do is remove government from the equation -- or at least keep government from making things worse. If you choose to smoke, for example, that's your right. Of course, you have no right to inflict your poison on others. Nor do you have the right to demand that the government take money from others in order to ameliorate the consequences of your folly. If others choose -- out of the goodness of their hearts -- to come to your aid, that's their right. And they earn a reward by doing so. But it should be their free choice. And that's what libertarianism is all about -- choosing freely and living with the consequences.


Debate? What "debate"?

Everywhere you look, there's further discussion of the "debates" between the two factions of the ruling party. Excuse us, but doesn't "debate" at least imply two opposing positions? Where's the difference between Tweedledee and Tweedledum? As Friedrich von Hayek put it, "The concern of the majority parties is not whether the government may seize too much power, but who will wield that power."

It would have been a much different thing if either a) minor-party candidates had been allowed to participate, thus making it worth attending; or b) there were any substantive difference between the candidates. Radio Man told us a while back of a comment he had heard on late-night talk radio. Quoth the commentator: we're all in a car, headed for a cliff. The Republicans want to go the speed limit; the Democrats want to mash the pedal to the floor.

This three-part joint press conference by the two front-running candidates and their seconds was a real snorefest for anyone with an IQ in the high double digits. Even the last one -- the so-called "town hall" one -- was a joke. We have no doubt that the screening process for the questions involved making sure that no one would ask what either candidate would do to reduce the size, cost, scope, and intrusiveness of the Imperial Federal Government.

Of course, we must confess that our sympathies do lie just a little bit with Mr. Bush, since the deck was stacked against him from the start. No matter how well he did, the dominant news media would find a way of making him look bad. Puts us in mind of the old joke about the car race between the US and the old Soviet Union. The two cars took off together, but the American car won easily. As the Soviet press reported it, the Soviet car finished in second place, while the American car finished next to last.

One has to wonder what the Republocrats are so afraid of. If their positions are so beneficial, why should they worry about those that are different? What harm can come from letting Michael Badnarik -- or even Ralph Nader -- participate and represent (respectively) the Libertarian and Socialist viewpoints?

(And since we've already cast our absentee ballot for Mr. Badnarik, it doesn't hurt to say that we hope that Bush wins re-election. This country has already suffered thru eight years of a lying Democrat in the White House; it can certainly wait another four years for the next one.)

(As a side note, too, what kind of moron runs a presidential campaign based on a four-month incident that happened 35 years ago, and completely ignores an on-going 20-year Senate career?)

On The Road Again.....

Being on the road so much has its challenges. One of them is the unreliability of 'Net access. Fortunately, we'll be staying with Wolfman for a while and be able to use his or Santa's computer on a semi-regular basis. Not being able to read our usual on-line news is bad enough, but the idea of a blog is the occasional update, which we haven't been able to do.

Perhaps by Christmas we'll realize our dream of having a stable "base of operations". This "no fixed abode" stuff is for the birds. Even Bodhidarma had a cave to live in.

The one recent bright spot is that Pack Rat now has e-mail. All he has to do is learn to use it. And if Wonder Woman would only let us pay for an ISP subscription, she'd be a lot easier to keep in touch with.