presentation1.pngWhat got this post started? phadde2, who authors an excellent blog (The American Post-Standard), provided a series of comments on SURRENDERING TO THE ESTABLISHMENT? — PART 1 (starting here).Unfortunately,  made the forgivable mistake of letting scout’s interpretation (here) of what he was trying to say stand without correction. So I commented (here) and suggested that he provide clarification.  did so. Unsatisfied with his first three comments (here, here, and here),  added two more  (here and here). He also asked that I ignore his earlier comments. Of course, I am only human. So I cannot purge my mind of unwanted thoughts, but I certainly appreciated the latter comments.

What was  doing with all those comments? He was wrestling with a very complex problem. He was trying to answer a difficult question. Does the end justify the means?

Those who believe the end does justify the means actually have a name for this philosophy, Consequentialism. If you are interested in reading about the philosophy of Consequentialism, here are some links.

Frankly, I only had time to scan all these articles. Some are fairly lengthy. Nonetheless, when I need a break at work (lunch), I suppose I will read the more interesting of them.

Some years back I wrote about this subject (PHILOSOPHICAL CONFUSION OVER ENDS AND MEANS), and I found myself surprised by two things.

  • Does the end justify the means? In theory, the answer to the question is surprisingly simple. Christ commanded us to love others as we love ourselves. We fall into the trap of choosing inappropriate means when we have a selfish motive.  Thus, the solution is to love others as we love ourselves.
  • Unfortunately, we are too often concerned about our own feelings.  Therefore, we rarely put theory into practice. Then we can unwisely choose means supposedly justified by the end. Then we can refuse to do unto others as we would have others do unto us.

In his comments,  compared a politician with good intentions lying to the electorate with a spy lying to the enemy. At different times I have called politics warfare waged with ballots. So I suppose it might seem that I would sympathize with the comparison  suggested. Real warfare, however, involves a real enemy. Real warfare involves hostile people committed to the subjugation or destruction of our family, friends, and neighbors. Politics just involves peacefully settling our differences with our sometimes disagreeable and deceitful fellow citizens. We don’t lie to our sometimes disagreeable and deceitful fellow citizens. The threat of war, however, may leave us no alternative except deception to protect our family, friends, and neighbors.

Something as dire as espionage must involve a strict adherence to a code of ethics. This code must force us to distinguish between friendly nations and potential adversaries. Because we have no automatic right to deceive friendly nations and pry into their secrets, we must clearly identify potential adversaries and fix in our minds what it is about those potential adversaries that makes them inherently dangerous. Then we must — if the threat is real — do what is necessary to protect our family, friends, and neighbors and no more.

The problem, of course, lies in the implementation. We do not have pure motives. When are we being selfish? When are we just doing what is necessary to protect our family, friends, and neighbors? Sometimes the answer is not so clear, but that ambiguity does not relieve of any responsibility. It just means we must do the best we can do.

51 thoughts on “ETHICAL CONFUSION?

  1. Thanks for the post about our conversation; I think you actually made the question even more complex, but it’s a question that deserves a comprehensive process to come to an answer.

    To further the discussion within political warfare; if one believes that his fellow citizens that are disagreeable and deceitful have submitted to an ideology and crusade that would subsequently lead to the one’s nation no longer being the nation that he recognizes and loves than is that person at the point fighting a real enemy of a different nation? I guess to better clarify; if one attempts to preemptively save his nation’s foundation would that give cause to than attempt to embark on political espionage for the good of his country.

    As an observation, in our more modern times, it appears that wars of ideology are being fought within our own nation for the hearts and minds of the citizenry. Wouldn’t they abide by the same ethics and code of warring nations ? If so, how are they to be defined.

    Great post, I’m glad you asked for a clarification.


    1. Glad you provided the clarification and enjoyed this post.


      Matthew 7:12 New King James Version (NKJV)
      12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets

      I referenced the Golden Rule for a specific reason. This rule has direct relevance to our question. Unfortunately, I failed to point out that relevance in sufficient detail.

      When we choose the means to our end, we must choose a means congruent to our end. For example, if I need to travel a great distance in a relatively short time, I probably would want to get on an airplane. On the other hand, if I just want to go from my living room to the dining room, walking will suffice.

      If we want good and honorable conduct from our leaders, we must behave as good and honorable people. That is, each of us must consider the Golden Rule from two perspectives. What behavior is appropriate for me? How do I want others to behave. In the way we behave toward others we hope others will behave towards us. We each set an example. With our example, we induce others to follow the Golden Rule.

      When we engage in warfare, we have abandoned any hope of affecting the behavior of others with our example. We seek to either to subjugate or destroy enemies, not show them how they can subjugate or destroy us. Nevertheless, that is one of the problems with warfare. Enemies do learn from each others example. That is one reason why we should only engage in hostile actions when we have no other choice.

      Does the Bible contain passages where God Himself called upon Israel to destroy other peoples? Yes. Those people insisted upon doing great evil. For example, the Canaanites sacrificed their babies to idols. Therefore, God wanted His people to have nothing to do with them. God did not want His people following the bad examples set by the Canaanites.

      Nevertheless, the Bible is largely a book about love, not warfare. Therefore, the Golden Rule is a thread that runs throughout the Bible. Check out: Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 5:14,15; Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31; Romans 13:9;

      Here is a decent writeup on the Golden Rule.


  2. Oh come now, Tom. You exaggerate the import of my conversation with Phadde2. I thought it was simply a chance for two amateur Lincoln buffs to exchange views. What I think we did agree on that has some application beyond Lincoln is that today there seems to be a wider gulf between how one gets office (including what one says to get office) and the actual skills and practices of governing once office is achieved than perhaps was the case in Lincoln’s time. It is, of course, difficult to empirically make that case or to measure it, but it seems indisputable and uncontroversial that we live in a media perpetual firestorm that makes candidates’ utterances very easy to project everywhere quickly – far more so that in 1860, and we receive from our elected candidates a very low quality of governance. I think even you, in one of your lapses into rational thought, might find some merit in that idea.

    Not everything I say is evil or intended to lure people over “intellectual cliffs” as you accused me of doing with Phadde2. (of course, I would contend nothing I say has those qualities, but I know how much you need your demons ). In this case, it was, however, a civil exchange on a subject of mutual interest to Phadde2 and me.

    By the way, I don’t believe the end justifies the means, and that certainly wasn’t the point I was trying to make in my discussion with Phadde2.


    1. Thanks for the clarification, even I said myself that I could only take you words at face value; so I couldn’t assume you had any ill intent. I merely thought that were agreeing on the “methodology” of what a politician in Lincoln’s time had to do to maneuver to get elected and compared and contrasted it to a politician that lives today. Perhaps Tom should have asked both to clarify our points, but he did raise could questions in my comparison to that of Abraham Woodhull; and how we must define this ethic moral code that must be adhered.


      1. phadde2 – scout is a pretender. He pretends to be a conservative, and I suspect he is having great fun with this. Shrug. It is not worth getting angry about. Chalk it up to a lesson learned.


    2. Here is the only thing I want to reply to.

      we receive from our elected candidates a very low quality of governance.

      We receive a very low quality of governance for two basic reasons.
      1. When they lie or break the law (violate the Constitution), we don’t hold don’t our leaders accountable.
      2. Our government is doing too many things better done by the private sector. In fact, most of the money Congress now spends it spends without any clear Constitutional authorization (See the first reason again.).


  3. Frankly, after reading all the banter on this subject and post, I have decided that if someone is unethical, I do not trust him or her to make any decisions on my behalf.

    Regards and good will blogging


  4. I not sure, Tom, why my conservatism would be any more “pretend” than the next guy’s. It seems real enough to me, and it’s had plenty of time to test out over a range of issues. It’s a political-economic philosophy that I have found to have substance and utility for five decades now in my own life and in my assessment of how democratic governments should best protect the liberties of the citizens, and, in its various permutations, for at least a couple centuries since the time of Hume, Locke, Smith and Burke. I don’t question the sincerity of your beliefs, I assume you question mine because they sometimes lead me to different conclusions on policy issues. With respect, I suggest that that approach is a bit of a dead end. I often perceive that you prefer the convenience of using labels to bottle up a lot of frustratingly complicated modern social issues. I don’t share that particular preference.

    As I have mentioned before, it is probably fair to say that you and I are from different strata of conservatism – I am a traditionalist with pretty deep roots in American and English history. Burke/Kirk/Buckley are formative for me, with a good dose of Adam Smith on the economic front. You are what I regard as a modern, media-manipulable “conservative” who is ideological in your thinking and who (at least it seems form the outside looking in) feels that there is some sort of issue laundry list on which all “conservatives” agree. Any deviation from that list is, apparently, in your mind, a sign that one is not a “conservative.” I generally view political ideologies (from all parts of the political spectrum) as un-American, un-workable, and threats to clear thinking about current societal problems. Political ideology is an essentially mid-19th century mittel-europa intellectual trap, the primary pioneer of which was Marx. In this country, we were blessed not to be born in the thrall of these non-sensical parlor games of trying to impose a kind of unified field theory on everything that happens in a political context. Such intellectual games would be harmless if they remained confined to the faculty lounge, but, as we have seen with horrible clarity in the Twentieth Century, ideology from all parts of the spectrum can be deadly for millions.

    There are many hot-button current political issues that I see as having no relation to “conservative” principles as I perceive them, but are rather fanned by politicians who self-apply the conservative label, often with little depth of understanding of history, economics or core constitutional principles, because its an easy way to get votes from others who self-apply the same label, often with no more appreciation of core conservative political philosophy than the pols who are duping them. I react negatively to that phenomenon, and, when I discuss issues in this medium, try to knock down what I think is the sloppy elevation of reflexive politically motivated labelling over approaches that can more productively be applied in a practical, fact-based, knowledge context. That doesn’t mean I’m always right, but it does mean that I try to bring a useful point of view to the discussion.

    You and I have different views on some things, and perhaps some overlap on others. Take it one idea at a time. Once you or someone else here lapses into labelling my character as deceptive, you opt out of the idea-testing arena and enter the world of name-calling, a world that has no conservative or liberal import, and where anyone, even little children, can play.


    1. You drop upon us various names, all deserving great respect, but your Conservatism is not even as strong as that of John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, or Eric Cantor. It is hard to find even one issue where you stand firmly as a Conservative. Instead, you just attack as un-American any political ideology you happen to find disagreeable. Here, of course, you assault Conservatism. Hence, it would be more accurate to call you a Trojan horse.

      The term Liberal use to mean something entirely different from what it means today. Then we let duplicitous politicians call themselves “Liberal” and get away with it.

      Perhaps a word is only a breath of air, but what a shame. Without words, we cannot communicate. Therefore, when we warp words to misrepresent ourselves — or let others get away with it, we add vandalism to the sin of bearing false witness. We destroy our language; we deny ourselves even the ability to communicate what we know to be true.


  5. I don’t assault conservatism in the slightest, Tom. For the umpty-umpth time your decidedly poor reading skills have tied your shoestrings together. I applaud conservatism. I’m all for it. Where we depart is that you think “conservatism” is an ideology and I think it is anything but an ideology. I view it as almost the antithesis of ideology. I would describe it as more of an attitude. It’s an attitude of skepticism about human nature and about the tendency of humans to abuse one another when they gain even small amounts of power.

    Who are these “we” people you always talk about? Are they all you? Whoever that group is in your last paragraph, it’s a club I don’t care to join.


    1. scout – You have commented on this blog as both scout and novascout so many times that we are well pass the umpty-umpth time. So with regard to Conservatism, I think we have settled where you stand.

      What any word means is a matter of consensus. In order to label you as a Conservative, we would have to change that consensus. I for one will not support that. Others will have to decide for themselves.

      You are right about one thing. I don’t have any problem calling Conservatism an ideology. In fact, I think it Conservative to do so.

      I included the following as an addendum to this post =>

      An Addendum

      As the Online Etymology Dictionary observes, the term ideology (n.) did not begin as a term of derision.

      ideology (n.)
      1796, “science of ideas,” originally “philosophy of the mind which derives knowledge from the senses” (as opposed to metaphysics), from French idéologie “study or science of ideas,” coined by French philosopher Destutt de Tracy (1754-1836) from idéo- “of ideas,” from Greek idea (see idea) + -logy. Later used in a sense “impractical theorizing” (1813). Meaning “systematic set of ideas, doctrines” first recorded 1909.

      Ideology … is usually taken to mean, a prescriptive doctrine that is not supported by rational argument. [D.D. Raphael, “Problems of Political Philosophy,” 1970

      In its article on Destutt de Tracy, Wikipedia notes two men in particular who turned the term ideology into an expression of abuse, Napoleon Bonaparte and Karl Marx. Wikitionary confirms (here) that Napoleon Bonaparte first used the term ideologue (n.) as a term of abuse. Here, from Concepts in Communication Study, is a bit more history.


    2. “I applaud conservatism,” you say, but then make up your own private definition.

      As for American Constitutional conservatism, which you very well know is the topic under discussion, you have made abundantly clear that they (including Citizen Tom and me) are “a club I don’t care to join.”

      That’s fine, you can support government programs and be enthusiastic for the creation of dependent vassals where individual citizens used to hold sway, but your continued touting of “conservatism,” belied by your attacks on it, are what earmarks you as a pretender as both Citizen Tom and I have pointed out. None of this is a surprise to you, of course; it is your usual modus operandi.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


  6. The club I was declining to join, Keith, was the club described by Tom of him and the others who form his “we” who “warp words to misrepresent ourselves – or let others get away with it …” and who “add vandalism to the sin of false witness.” The “we” that Tom is clubbing around with who he self-acknowledges are out to “destroy our language” and who he says (seemingly boastfully) “deny ourselves the ability to communicate what we know to be true.” Now, I have reason to believe that Tom’s use of the plural in this may be an overreach, and that there are not that many people in this strange group of his. Apparently you think you may be part of it. But, taking him at face value, and assuming that the “we” here is more than just Tom and his voices, I really don’t care to have any part of that organization. It sounds completely nihilistic and anything but “conservative” in any sense I can relate to.

    I support some government programs and oppose others. There isn’t a one size fits all on that point, Keith. I don’t know any element of “conservatism” that insists that government doesn’t have a role if the citizens democratically decide that it should within the four corners of the founding documents, as written and amended.

    My definition of conservatism is hardly private. It was around long before I was born, but had its modern renaissance in my youth. It still exists and is widely held in certain literate circles, but has, I admit, been somewhat obscured recently by a sort of cartoon version that bears little resemblance to the more fundamental tenets of essential conservatism. It does make for great info-mercial “news” shows on cable TV, though, doesn’t it?


    1. Trying to misrepresent what I said on my own blog? That would be a “neat trick.” 😆

      When you have a temper tantrum and behave like this, don’t you realize you reduce yourself to the status of mere troll? Besides, such a lame attempt at deceit just provides indirect proof that you have misrepresented yourself as a Conservative. Conservatives don’t participate in such deceits.


    2. Tom,

      To be fair; equating Scout’s response as a “temper tantrum” and “reduce yourself to the status of a mere troll” seems to myself to be fallacious statement as to grab the reins of complete control of the debate.

      I must admit that I haven’t read all Scout’s comments throughout your blog, but I have read some throughout my viewership of your blog and most I don’t agree with but the central tenet of his objection here I must agree. It seems as though his objection is because of his belief system that has led him to the conclusion is that what you’re calling for is “purity test” of conservatism, however there are many forms of conservatism.

      Take Keith for example above; He and I had a disagreement from a later post as he is a secular conservative and I do not recognize that constitution in its original intent called for the need of secularism. So I was in favor of the ruling of the Supreme Court allowing prayer in the local chamber, as I believe it’s a small piece of the Everson debacle being lifted. Regardless of this disagreement, I’ve read Keith’s blog there’s no doubt in my mind that he advocates on the side of conservatism, and even with a disagreement advocates for the constitution. I welcome his aide! I would also elect to say that after comments that Scout made on my blog to a post that explained my issues with secularism that Keith and Scout may agree on the matter, which of course they would have to say for themselves.

      How did I come to conservatism ? Originally through my father, but how did I stay on the path of conservatism after most of the people that in my youth and through my higher education process were various forms of liberal? Alexander Hamilton. I’m a Hamiltonian conservative which is very different from many conservatives that I’ve met and/or talk to today as they would most likely be Jeffersonian conservatives. However, I would even surmise that I have a different version of being a Hamiltonian than most would assume. In short I believe in Constitutional government, but much like Hamilton when I think of what I could legislate to aide our nation’s citizenry; I go to the constitution and read see what in this could support and aide my idea rather than looking at it as a restraining order. (Which is perhaps is a lot of my issues with the idea of secularism) As such I do support the idea of a Central Bank, as I am an amateur economist; I’ve read many text from Hamilton, Smith, Nash, and yes even Marx. Which has led me to the conclusion that Hamilton would not have supported Federal Reserve (Which has led me to want to eliminate the FED), which I think should be obvious, as he lived through the time of ‘not worth a continental’. However creating a banking system with a currency that one can invest ‘capital’ to eliminate wealth in our society from becoming a ‘dead stock’, was essential to the rise of the American economic machine. It was progressives such as Wilson and FDR who used the idea of “Jefferson” falsely as way to deceive that masses to allow for the such legislation as 16th and 17th amendments, the Federal Reserve Act, and the New Deal.

      This all being said I am not here to debate the differences of Hamiltonian economic conservatism vs. Jeffersonian, what I am explained with the above is to provide an illustration on how conservatism can be very different but even common. Most Jeffersonian conservatism want a repeal of the Federal Reserve Act and return to a strict gold standard, which would in my opinion create a ‘dead stock’ of wealth which I would be inherently against. Yet, we are both conservatives because our ideals are formed from founding fathers to which we would both come to agreement of the desire to eliminate the FED, however the want or need to replace it would greatly differ.

      Again, I don’t know what all Scout has said in the past, what I am cautioning on is this need for a kind of “purity test”. “Purity test” only serve a select group and also makes conservatism as a whole exclusive and also undesirable. Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian are both capitalist, which reject the ideals of Socialism and Communism. However, as men and women we must also reject the notion that such ideas of paying taxes for programs that create roads (Eisenhower- R) and libraries and other needs for the citizenry is socialist in nature. Socialism in the Marx view is the ideal that labor and the worker is a valuable commodity that should have equality with those who hold the capital, at the same Communism is when the state takes this, seizes control of the economy and eliminates private property. The State creating roads, libraries, and various other programs do not align with exclusively with such thought. As proponents of economic growth Hamiltonian/Jeffersonian/Eisenhower conservatives all realize that within the economic diamond theory private property must be protected and as such all hold to conservatism.


      1. “So I was in favor of the ruling of the Supreme Court allowing prayer in the local chamber”

        So am I. I have no desire to see the Supreme Court and Congress banned from opening their sessions with prayer. And I have defended the use of “under God” in the Pledge, going back more than a decade:

        A key quote:

        It does not cause pain or trauma for an atheist, or even the child of an atheist, to see a religious symbol hanging up somewhere. It is no big deal. I’ve read the Constitution and many appellate decisions regarding religious symbols and speech, and while the Lemon Test disallows certain things to be inserted by the Government solely for the purpose of promoting one religion, incidental support is no problem. For example, the Pledge of Allegiance, had it originally contained the phrase “Under God”, would be fine. It is only the later insertion of those two words in 1954 that runs afoul of the Lemon Test. And we had better things to worry about, I think, than to make a stink about it.

        Three weeks ago, the Supreme Court announced that they would hear the Newdow “Pledge of Allegiance” case next year. Newdow claims to be an “ordained minister” and an atheist, and is representing himself. Interesting — and bizarre.

        To me, the presence of the phrase does no harm, but the removal of it advances the cause of harming America by further dismantling a core cultural component.

        In other writings, I have shredded the left who attack the idea that the US was “a Christian nation.” They refer to the Treaty of Tripoli, but without knowing the history and circumstances of that international ransom note / promise to pay the jihadists who were holding Americans hostage. At that time (Washington and Adams administrations), we elected to pay them rather than oppose them. Later, Jefferson made a different decision.

        The commenter writing as “scout” and “novascout” has a long track record of supporting various unconstitutional government programs. This is defended with irrelevant redefinitions and feigned misunderstandings, which you have seen evidence of in this thread.

        It would hardly be appropriate to label me a “purist” as this term is being used against conservatives. The purity test for Christianity, for example, does not apply to me. My problems with Romney (though I voted for him) were based on policy issues and on weakness in telling the story and advancing the cause of liberty. I would have enjoyed personally debating Obama in his stead.

        ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


        1. Well even here I stand corrected about your principles, as who else but yourself is the expert of that regard, Keith, this why of course civil dialogue is good, of course the phrase I was using as “purity test” was in regards to that of what is “conservatism”. Overall I was mainly just using you as an example of it being okay within conservatism with having a difference of opinion. I must concede that I am commented merely out of ignorance of us starting off on the wrong foot; I assumed this stance, thus making an ass out of myself, over our disagreement on Natural law. This is my mistake.

          I also acknowledged that I wasn’t aware of all of his comments, only noting the ones that he’s commented on my blog, as well as this post. Of course because of this I do not know what unconstitutional programs he supports.

          I think an important part of civil conversation is conceding points that are made rather than trying to argue every minute detail, even Citizen Tom’s criticisms of myself if I felt valid, I do so. This is where I do believe Scout has a bit of an issue when dialoging.


        2. I certainly don’t think of you as a bad person, nor an “ass,” but I confess to being disappointed at your insistence that I could not be what I am. I am willing to park that; perhaps demonstrations of consistency will have better effect than rhetorical argument. I was tempted to dredge up my old and rather lengthy discussions on stoicism, an area of mild interest for some years.

          In any event, I am troubled by the current attacks on American culture propagated by the left in recent decades, and accelerated under the Obama administration. These include a fair focus on portraying Christianity as evil, a notion badly misguided and seemingly malicious in intent. You may find this discussion of abortion clinic bombers to be of interest:

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


        3. I’d laugh but I too have been guilty of caricaturing my fellow human beings.

          Years of indoctrination in the public schools and by the mass media affect us, whether we like it or not. And so I still wonder what false assumptions I retain from the days of my programming. Fortunately, as you also appear to have observed, there is a book the high priests of secularism seem oddly determined to “casually” brush aside.

          Therefore, I read that “forbidden” literature with more enthusiasm than I might otherwise.


      2. phadde2 – Based upon the most recent 1000 comments, I am the only person who has commented more on this blog than scout, Keith comes in third place. So I think Keith and I know something about scout’s political views.

        So long as he confines his libel to me, I have no particular desire to anger scout or to run him off. If he is going to air his views, here is as good a place as any.

        I understand scout is angry. Nonetheless, I am not going to lie and call him a Conservative. It is wrong to cater to anyone’s ego with flattery.

        Are Keith and I guilty of applying a “purity test?” Yes, but is a purity test a bad thing. Do you like your drinking water pure or impure?

        Anyway, you have given me the idea for a post, OF TWISTED WORDS => PURITY.

        Thank you for providing a little bit your personal history as a Conservative and the interesting discussion on Alexander Hamilton and the banking system. I too think the Fed must go. That’s way too much power in the hands of too few.


        1. Fair enough, On purity; however, I think my issue with the quest is that man is inherently tainted with our flaws, therefore the idea of purity is often either in the eye of the beholder or simply unobtainable on this plain of being.

          In regards to conservatism or any ideology the purity of said ideology becomes merely subjective as the quest to achieve it fails to be a pragmatic approach as what it is become purely conjecture. You asked me would I prefer to drink pure water? Of course I would, but what makes the water pure? It’s clarity, in fact I have pure drinking water, its called distilled water, and its lack any sort of quenchable taste or vital nutrients. The minerals that make up the varieties of different spring water can all be different but then wouldn’t this no longer be pure formula, as they stop being uniform? Or perhaps at this point its whether it’s drinkable, of course anyone who has ever camped in the wilderness or lived in a rural area can tell you that clear and tasty water could be poison, whereas even murky well water is still drinkable and safe.

          Perhaps, the American Republic with its constitution tied to the Lockean belief of law being the supreme authority within the nation is the clarity that we must strive to achieve; yet, there has been a great many laws throughout our nation’s history that violates the natural rights of the citizenry therefore it violates natural law.

          I think its a very complex idea and quest, and I certainly tip my hat towards you if you wish to tackle it through written word.


        2. Purity is a virtue. Being human, it is impossible for us to be perfectly virtuous, but are you proposing we should stop trying? I don’t think so, but many have encouraged us to give up, and none of us — being human — have been unaffected by that discouragement. Hence, I thank you for giving me the idea for a post on purity.


        3. My examples were not of the nature of not wanting to drink “pure” water, as I stated above. (not trying to obtain a sense of purity), but realizing that as there are an abundant of minerals (attributes) that can be apart of the formula (pure drinkability) either waxing and waning in their contents.

          Virtue is a deep simple answer but as we’re living in a complex and shallow world one must realize how to apply it (virtue). Let me ask, Is it not virtue to help our fellow man? As this is exemplified in the golden rule. Yet how does one achieve this? Isn’t Marxism actually birthed from this ideal of helping the laborer? Aren’t many liberals and socialist guided by this virtue of wanting all to have a comfortable and sustaining life? According to Marx, Socialism was birthed out of the need of the laborer that has been exploited by Capitalism, as this system requires( In Marx’s view) the exploitation of the laborers commodity, their labor, which was deflated by the Capitalist. However, living a more complex and shallow world, the good intentions, virtues and desire for purity within this ideology are found to be misinformed as it breeds laziness and strips the integrity of a human being from any self worth thus stifling their nature to create and labor for their existence.

          Economist and Historians must realize that this ideology was birthed from the “purity” of Capitalism that relied upon minimizing cost, and maximizing assets to grow capital. The Pure ideology here seemed to be void of virtuous one as it violates the word of God, “”No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” However, this is another facile take on how this economic system is void of virtue. This system in the right hands is perhaps the greatest economic system because it not only leads to innovations but it can truly as the ole proverb states can teach a man to fish rather than provide him with a few meals. Two capitalist that come to mind is Henry Ford who desire to give his workers a living wage, and the other Andrew Carnegie who donated so much money to the humanities from music halls to local libraries that are still operational in communities today.

          In the political sphere. there a variety of attributes (minerals) that allow for a great conservative( Spring Water) that can be different. So the content of what is pure maybe absolute desired but however determine what is pure, or virtuous becomes more complex as it applies to the world. I may believe that fiscal responsibility is a far more pressing matter than social issues that may only get in the way of my goals. Those same fiscal goals may also be higher prioritized than State autonomy. I may value all of those things with various different levels, yet I am still a conservative. However, my fellow conservative may value state rights as their bastion of conservatism, yet this doesn’t make them any less of a pure conservative in my eyes.


        4. As an aside, Henry Ford’s initiative regarding employee pay was a tactical strategy in the furtherance of pure capitalism, but with a rather odd dose of statism (or at least paternalism) tossed in. It is interesting how the “living wage” mythos developed over the years, partly through clever marketing by the Ford folks themselves.

          But the real issue was turnover. Too many employees were leaving. He raised their base wage from $2.25 per day to $2.50 (roughly), but added a similarly sized bonus if they met certain conditions:

          The $5-a-day rate was about half pay and half bonus. The bonus came with character requirements and was enforced by the Socialization Organization. This was a committee that would visit the employees’ homes to ensure that they were doing things the “American way.” They were supposed to avoid social ills such as gambling and drinking. They were to learn English, and many (primarily the recent immigrants) had to attend classes to become “Americanized.” Women were not eligible for the bonus unless they were single and supporting the family. Also, men were not eligible if their wives worked outside the home.

          This entire scheme was to reduce his staffing costs, as the high turnover rate was expensive. And it was also a marketing ploy to head off the minimum wage notions being debated in Congress. As a bonus, it supported his notion of American ethics, though Ford was famously complicated in this arena.

          A personal aside: My father was making $1.00 per day and less as an agricultural worker at that time; even the $2.25 would have looked good to him.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


        5. I’ve heard this point argument as well, regardless; it doesn’t hinder the point I was attempting to make, if anything in further shows the complexities of virtue within the complex and shallow society.


        6. Another thing that I might point out that comes as a prime example to you and Keith’s remarks on Scout is his absence, Tom said, “He pretends to be a conservative, and I suspect he is having great fun with this.”

          As I have described the various forms of conservatism that can be concluded as what is purity within that realm and now that we are debating each other, he’s quite missing from the action, perhaps he is simply busy….. or….


        7. phadde2 –

          Virtue is a deep simple answer but as we’re living in a complex and shallow world one must realize how to apply it (virtue).

          I find this statement quite curious. I am familiar with scout’s comments. Keith is familiar with scouts comments. You have admitted you are not. So you have focused on the complexity of deciding who is a Conservative, implying it is virtuous not to make a “purity test”.

          Generally, when we are trying to be virtuous, there is nothing simple about it. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you sounds simple, but when scholars examined the complexity of actually implementing the Golden Rule they determined it necessary to break it into its component parts. We call these parts “virtues,” and there are at least seven.

          Consider the distinction between wisdom and knowledge. We may intelligently apply knowledge and still not apply it wisely. Hence, some read the Bible just to partake of the wisdom it offers.

          What kind of wisdom does the Bible offer? Consider this passage.

          James 1:22-25 New King James Version (NKJV)

          22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

          Why would a man — why would you or I — forget what kind of man he was? The Bible shows us ourselves as we are, and that’s humbling. In our pride, we hate to be humbled. The apostles Peter and Paul, before they began to serve as apostles, had to be humbled. And so do each of us. Otherwise, we look into the Bible, see ourselves, and then we immediately forget what kind of man we saw.

          Each of the seven virtues; Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, and Humility; involves some form of self-denial. To deny ourselves appropriately, we must be able to see ourselves as we are — know our true motivations. Otherwise, we cannot objectively evaluate what we know and understand what needs to be done. We cannot and will not do unto others as we would have others do unto us.

          Humility is particularly important. Without Humility we cannot accept our limits and imperfections. Imagine this old woman. She did almost nothing, but she did not do it in shame. She just did what she could because that is all she could do.

          Luke 21:1-4 New King James Version (NKJV)

          21 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

          In truth, we are all like that poor widow. We have little to give, just the best that we have.

          I know I have not the wisdom to choose so that it always seems I choose between darkest black and the most shining white. Instead, I can only hope I choose rightly between shades of gray. Yet I must choose. Because doing nothing is a choice, just as every other man and woman must choose between right and wrong actions, I also must make my choices.


  7. Tom- I was quoting you. How is that misrepresentation? You said it. Moreover, It’s consistent that other things that you and your “we” group have stated in the past. I just take you at your word.


    1. You appear to be flailing, scout. You are normally rather better at clouding issues with rhetorical mud in the water. Having a bad day? If so, I wish for better times for you, even if we disagree so substantially on the best outcomes and direction for the United States.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


  8. Tom, the whole issue of “the end justifies the means” is an interesting one indeed. I appreciate your linking Christ’s command to love others as ourselves as a core principle to understanding this difficult issue.

    My own opinion is that the end NEVER justifies the means. Once we open the door to this philosophy, we open the door to justifying any sinful action simply based upon good intentions and a desirable outcome.

    At times, because we live in a fallen world, we may be placed in a situation where our only options are acts of sin. In those cases, we are held accountable to choose the lesser of the evil choices before us. Although the “lesser evil” can never be justified (all evil is sin), it is still the best choice that was available to us at the time..

    Lord bless you. Thanks for tackling this important issue.


    1. I basically agree with your apt reply to Citizen Tom about choosing the lesser of two evils. Today,, and in history, invaders in history,, or terrorists today, make the conquered choose their God or die..

      If you did as they demanded, you are not choosing the lesser of two evils, you are choosing life over death. What is your opinion?

      Regards and good will blogging.


      1. The greater evil of the two would be to choose their God. In that instance, to choose death would be the lesser of the two evils. Far better to die than to forsake Christ and worship a false God.


        1. Rob, as you observe, Christ’s command to love others as ourselves is a core principle. If Christ had not also commanded us to love God with all our heart and soul, His command to love others as ourselves would be the core principle. As it is, the central purpose of our existence is to love and give glory to our Creator.

          scatterwisdom – Good question. Few Americans have been martyred for the Christian faith. Hardly any even know someone who has died before they would deny our savior. But it seems we are slowly losing the security we once knew. So it is well to consider the matter.

          Thank you both for your thoughtful comments. May our Lord bless you.


  9. I see you folks have been busy in my absence. Have at it. There are also elements of good discussion buried in all those words. I also see that Tom is now moving out from questioning my conservativism to questioning my Christianity. Being the self-appointed gatekeeper on these things is a big responsibility. I hope it pays well. On labelling others’ politics, talk is cheap – anyone can do it if he chooses to spend time on such things. On questioning others’ religion, one has to have a lot of divine authority.

    Getting back to a shard from all the words flying around – I’d like to pick up on the “under God” discussion about the Pledge that crept in. I sort of agree with Keith on this. I think Justice Brennan’s phrase “ceremonial deism” is a useful one. There are a lot of vaguely religious things that take place in public life that pass constitutional muster because they are essentially meaningless as substantive religion. If they meant something of theological significance, they would be unlawful. But the late-added “under God” phrase, as much as it seems to be a bit of McCarthy era graffiti drawn on a perfectly good Pledge of Allegiance that had served its purpose admirably for sixty years or so, is probably just one of those things that citizens can live with without fear that it forces religion down anyone’s throat or puts the Government in the religious henhouse where it can do harm of the type the First Amendment seeks to prevent.

    Oh, and Tom – you needn’t worry about my being angry. I am a rather jolly fellow most of the time. I flit around several blogs just because I like the exchange of views and I usually have a very big smile on my face when I read much of what is written here. If I find something here or elsewhere that angers me, I have words enough in my locker to express that feeling unequivocally. But, for the most part, this is kind of recreational for me.


    1. Welcome back.

      What constitutes an establishment of religion is debatable. I think Keith’s focus on priorities is noteworthy. Note what he said (here =>

      For example, the Pledge of Allegiance, had it originally contained the phrase “Under God”, would be fine. It is only the later insertion of those two words in 1954 that runs afoul of the Lemon Test. And we had better things to worry about, I think, than to make a stink about it.

      What makes our religious beliefs relevant is how we live out our beliefs. When we exercise the freedom to live out our beliefs, that affects how we interact with each other in a multitude of ways. If the public square is largely constituted of privately owned and operated facilities, we can each exercise our choices freely. Government’s role then becomes the protection of individual rights. If the public square is largely composed of government owned and operated facilities (monopolistic institutions), politicians make our choices for us. And “secularists” decide issues of morality for everyone.

      Therefore, if we are serious about the free exercise of religion, it seems to me that the only practical solution is limited government. That we no longer have. Hence, everyone is unhappy except the politicians in the majority.


  10. I’d be hard put to determine who the “politicians in the majority” are in the United States these days. Maybe that just means, under your formulation, that everyone is unhappy.


    1. As it happens, everyone is unhappy with our government. And you are right; it is difficult to determine “who the “politicians in the majority” are in the United States these days.”

      Instead of a republic, we have something that more closely approximates a majoritarian tyranny. So it is that on some issues we find ourselves in the majority and on others we find ourselves in the minority.

      If you like getting your own way with no holds barred, being in the majority is okay. Being in the minority, however, stinks. In addition to the obvious problem, soaring taxes and public debt, we risk losing our religious freedom and property rights to the whims of a cantankerous majority.

      Because it is easier to live under the foot of one tyrant than it is millions, majoritarian tyranny usually descends into just plan tyranny.


      1. I don’t think we are disagreeing. My refinement on your point is, however, that there is no clear majority in American politics today and there is no sign that that condition will change any time soon. The absence of a dominant policy formulation source doesn’t lead to a steamroller of, say (to use an example), “big spending”, it leads to inaction and paralysis. Pinpointing the “majority” is a complex task here these days, and I suspect it is never the same from day to day, issue to issue. This, however, does not strike me as the antithesis of a Republic, but as something of an unavoidable attribute of a Republic where general opinion is either closely divided, or is inchoate and fractured across many opinions.

        I certainly can’t discern a political “majority” attacking religious freedom in this country (to pick up another example from your comment). If you think there is, who do you define as being that majority? As I have stated before here, it’s difficult to imagine a country that offers more religious freedom to a more religiously diverse population than here. Which country would you hold up as the avatar of religious liberalism (in the traditional sense of “liberalism”, not the Fox News/MSNBC modern sense) in today’s world? How do we fall short of that example? Personal taxes also seem relatively low here, compared to other places with which I’m familiar (corporate rates are another story and we really do need to address that). Maybe they could be lower. I’ve always been a flat tax advocate. My tax rate would be lower, but I might actually pay more in taxes under such a plan. Public debt and budgetary deficits (two related but different things) are potential dangers to our society, I agree. Wars are very expensive. We will feel the effects of those expenditures for years, if not decades to come.


        1. Fundamentally, you do disagree. Any government that does not respect the rights of the minority is not a republic.

          I don’t have the interest in being substantially diverted by your questions (as opposed to more straightforward rebuttals). I will just observe that for your statements (or the suppositions in your questions) to be true:

          1. The Cultural War is settled. The Socialists and the Conservatives are still in the field battling for control of the government.

          2. We don’t have a big government growing out of control.

          3. Our goal is just to be better than every other nation. When the United States was founded, it established a unique degree of religious freedom. Even now only a few other nations come close. If the founders’ had just tried to establish greater religious freedom than that found in other parts, they would have accomplished little.
          a. The United States established religious freedom in a land where government had only a limited role. If the public square is largely composed of government owned and/or operated facilities (monopolistic institutions), politicians will make our choices for us. That includes issues that rightly involve freedom of conscience. That’s a clear problem.
          b. Other nations are not experiencing a similar crisis in the growth of government. Our standard should be what’s right, not what others are doing.

          4. Inflation, gobs of regulations, innumerable tax laws, and growing public debt do not constitute taxes.

          5. The economy is the only important thing, and its growing by leaps and bounds. It ain’t.

          6. The defense budget is still the main part of the Federal Budget. It ain’t.


  11. scout,
    Tom has a point about limited government. Too many government assistance laws remain on the books that originated with the reality of hard times. For example, the depression. The result is a lot of leeching caused by giving endlessly exists in the USA. King Solomon warned us 3000 years ago about giving endlessly with his proverb about leeches that suck blood (benefits) from their victims (taxpayers).

    In my humble opinion, there are also a number of non virtuous politicians that I consider to be leaders in the community of leeches as well as in private industry propagating about and feeding off the effects of unlimited government programs. The ethical confusion may or may not have started a government assistance program, however, foolishness is our never ending the programs.

    Regards and good will blogging.


  12. I don’t really follow how your comment of 1446 really responds to my preceding one. It seems another example of failure to communicate. I was trying to say that I don’t see a “tyranny of the majority” in modern American conditions simply because there is no obvious majority.

    A few random observations about your points, though:

    I guess I don’t know what you mean by “the public square.” I always took the phrase to mean the space where citizens meet and exchange views, sort of a national, virtual version of people gathering on a village green to discuss issues of the day. What are the government owned/operated facilities (monopolistic institutions)” that you see as having crowded out whatever used to be in the public square? I personally am not aware of politicians making moral choices for us – it seems our individual ability to make those choices is at least as robust as it always has been in this country, perhaps more so given that we have had a couple of centuries of expansive experience with interpretations of the First Amendment. But your use of a reference to government-owned monopolies in the “public square” makes me think that perhaps we aren’t talking about the same concept when we use that term.

    You’re quite right that, at the time of our founding, it wouldn’t have taken much to do better than other countries in terms of protecting religion from the corrosive influence of state involvement. However, we didn’t just try for “better”, we revolutionarily cut the cord between the state and the church, something that hasn’t happened even yet in many parts of the world and didn’t happen until more than a century later even in a country as “enlightened” as France. My point was, however, that it seems our religious freedom has considerable staying power, it is robust and that our position of supremacy on that point is unchallenged.

    We do have an extensive government. There have been times when its size as a percentage of GDP has increased considerably (e.g., the New Deal). My impression (unencumbered by checking out data), however, is that, with the possible exception of the arithmetic impact of the recent Great Recession of 2008, government as a proportion of the national economy has been relatively in decline over the past 40 years. I’m willing to be corrected on that, because I simply don’t have time to research it at the moment. But it would be worth a look.

    “Socialists” are a rare breed in this country, and they generally aren’t perceived as having much of a role on cultural or political issues. Their agenda tends to be more directed to state ownership of means of production. I can’t say that they seem to be doing very well anywhere in the world, frankly. Even countries that had overt socialist governments have backed away from socialist programs fairly dramatically. Is socialism were a stock, I wouldn’t be going long in it these days. Specifically to your points, however, I can’t perceive that the idea that “socialists” and “conservatives” are the antagonists in disputes about cultural issues in this country. I think those debates tend to be more on non-economic issues.

    Inflation has been quite variable over the course of our history. We have been in about as long and tame a period of inflation as perhaps at any time in our national experience. Of course, because these things are cyclical, inflation will come again, but it has always been thus, and I doubt that any government can do much more than try to ameliorate its negative effects. Some governments do so more successfully than others (and this doesn’t appear to be a strictly R versus D outcome). If anything, it is more difficult to insulate the economy against inflationary forces now than it was decades or centuries ago because the sources of inflation are now global and migrate quickly.

    I agree that the tax code is too complicated and ought to be clean-sheeted.


    1. The public square is that place where we interact with each other in “public.” That’s a complicated concept?

      Originally, Socialism involved government ownership of the means of production. Some bright Socialist figured out what matter is control, not ownership.

      Anyway, if actually believe the scope and power of government has decreased here of late, there is nothing I can say to change your mind.


  13. No, it’s not a complicated concept (no one said it was) and you appear to concur in my description of what is meant by “public square.” The confusion emanates from your positing of a hypothetical (I assume it was hypothetical – it certainly was not reality-based) in which “the public square is largely composed of government owned and/or operated government facilities (monopolistic institutions)” . Given our common understanding of the “public square” concept, I was puzzled as to how you see it as a government monopoly. The modern public square is largely cable, broadcast, print media, town hall meetings, and this medium that you and I use to exchange views. Where’s the government monopoly in that space?

    The proportion of government in our overall national
    community is measurable. I suspect it has increased in some aspects, decreased in others.


    1. The US government (as a strong-left Democrat Party organization) operates the great majority of media in this country, cable, broadcast, and the remaining printed news organizations. This operation extends to quite a few magazines as well.

      The public square should also include our educational arena, where faculty and students ideally gather to share knowledge and learn to enjoy the pursuit of it and the skills of critical thinking. Instead, they are indoctrinated with leftist propaganda, denied access to (or even speech about) opposing views, and taught from textbooks distributed by the federal (hard-left Democrat) government written by America-hating communists.

      Blogs and Web-only news remain bastions of independent thought and serious reporting, though these are mixed into a large world of nonsense and bias. However, the left/US government seeks to punish conservatives here, too, and constrain them any way it can, from pushing for Fairness Doctrine to disguised versions in SOPA and Net Neutrality, disguises good enough to fool some Republicans. Not that this takes much anymore.

      The free market is getting more constrained every day. It is now illegal to make several thousand kinds of private transactions, not least is buying insurance when you want to. You don’t see the impact of “government ownership and/or control” in the healthcare arena, which has had a huge impact on government control. You argue that it’s likely “in decline.” I am not surprised.

      And blogs — or really, conservatives, blogging or not — are attacked in other ways as well. I noted a report recently that “revealed conservative” donors had a post-revelation audit rate more than 10 times average. We know what the IRS continues to do so transparently to conservatives, while blatantly lying about it. We know of executives forced out of their jobs for having a personal opinion in opposition to the current government — though in one famous case, the position was exactly the same as that Obama said he held at the time.

      There are more methods. While I was ran a corporation with hundreds of employees, I have personally been criticized by Obama as “some nut in his mother’s basement” (in remarks to Jake Tapper who passed along my criticism). Shortly thereafter, the hard-left appellate court (who had just gone out of their way to fabricate a rational to protect Hillary Clinton from blatant perjury charges) decided a “slam-dunk” case I had won against me, costing me $64,000,000 dollars in a business litigation against obvious bad guys. Attorneys who read the opinion come away shaking their heads and saying “that’s just wrong” — the panel violated the “law of the case” to reverse their own previous findings. That hurt.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


      1. Hmm. More typos that is even usual for me:
        “country[,>:] cable”
        “While I [was>] ran a corporation”
        “I [have>had] personally been”
        “who passed along my criticism[ of Obama’s bracelet])
        “to fabricate a rational[>e]”

        My apologies.

        ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


    2. “I personally am not aware of politicians making moral choices for us…”

      You are astounding in your brazen ability to feign ignorance. I’d wager you didn’t even blush writing that comment.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


      1. That brazenness is sort of effective. When people try to deceive us, we expect some shame, especially when they get caught. But phadde2 had to be convinced that scout is not a Conservative. I fear some people have learned too well the wrong lessons from our accomplished politicians.


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