Monday, April 30, 2007

Shooting Fish in a Barrel

Every so often I like to go to townhall *dot* com to laugh at certain conservative writers. They say the darnedest things! This article by John Hawkins was just too much to pass up:

Conservatives believe that judges should act like umpires instead of legislating from the bench. That means that judges should determine whether laws are permissible under the Constitution and settle debates about the meaning of laws, not impose their will based on their ideological leanings. Liberals view judges as a backdoor method of getting unpopular left-leaning legislation passed. They don't want umpires, they want political partisans in black robes who will side with them first and then come up with a rationale to explain it.

To be clear here. What John Hawkins means by "legislating from the bench" is any decision the Supreme Court makes with which he doesn't happen to agree. If the court happens to make a decision with which he does agree such as the recent decision to uphold a law banning a particular abortion procedure, that is settling a debate about the meaning of a law. Had it gone the other way, it would have been "legislating from the bench." Believe me, no one, not even the most pinko commie liberal, actually views the Supreme Court as a legislative body. They don't even expect the judges to strong arm congress into passing laws.

Conservatives believe that individual Americans have a right to defend themselves and their families with guns and that right cannot be taken away by any method short of a Constitutional Amendment, which conservatives would oppose. Liberals believe by taking arms away from law abiding citizens, they can prevent criminals, who aren't going to abide by gun control laws, from using guns in the commission of crimes.

I am sure that whenever the Supreme Court ever chooses to interpret the second amendment in any way that restricts or regulates arms, they will be "legislating from the bench." But seriously, what Mr Hawkins doesn't seem to understand is that when there is some form of gun control in place, it reduces the overall supply of guns in the community which in turn makes guns more expensive and more difficult to get. In other words, gun control limits the supply of guns on the black market which is generally where the criminals get them. What some liberals understand and what Mr Hawkins apparently doesn't understand is that if the supply of illegal guns is reduced, there were be fewer guns in the hands of criminals. If it actually will reduce the number of guns in the hands of criminals enough to justify the legislation is a matter of debate to be sure. But clearly, there are people who support gun control laws who have a better understanding of why those laws might work than Mr Hawkins does.

Conservatives believe that we should live in a color blind society where every individual is judged on the content of his character and the merits of his actions. On the other hand, liberals believe that it's ok to discriminate based on race as long as it primarily benefits minority groups.

Without getting into some of my own ambivalent feelings about affirmative action, I will just say that it is very easy to say that we should live in a color blind society when one is a member of the class of people who just happens to get the most privilege because of their race. While I don't know of John Hawkins's reactions to specific situations I cant say for sure, but again, it has been my experience that when certain white people ever find themselves in a situation where things actually are color blind and they are treated like everyone else, they don't generally like it. For instance, some of the people who are against affirmative action at the college level have no problems with programs that tend to benefit white people like legacy admissions or UofM's policy of giving preference to residents of the U.P. I suspect that if universities here in Michigan were to ever give geographical preference to students from predominately black communities, the same people who call for "color blind" policies will again complain that some other group other than them is getting preferential treatment.

Conservatives are capitalists and believe that entrepreneurs who amass great wealth through their own efforts are good for the country and shouldn't be punished for being successful. Liberals are socialists who view successful business owners as people who cheated the system somehow or got lucky. That's why they don't respect high achievers and see them as little more than piggy banks for their programs.

Ah yes…the old 'liberals hate rich people' argument. As it happens, a lot of entrepreneurs *did* get lucky in addition to working hard. Working hard alone does not necessarily lead to economic success in the USA. But that isn't why I think that we should have progressive taxation. Progressive taxation is, I assume, what Mr Hawkins is talking about when he says that liberals view rich folk as "piggy banks". You see, entrepreneurs benefit more from those liberal programs than everyone else so it only makes sense that they should pay more in taxes. For example, all that money we spend on defense benefits everyone but it really benefits the rich who get to have their businesses in a country that isn't being attacked on a regular basis. Education spending provides those entrepreneurs with a reasonably educated work force. Roads allow both workers and customers to get to the businesses these entrepreneurs are building as well as giving them something for their trucks to drive on assuming their businesses ever have to ship anything. The internet was originally a liberal government funded program which then spawned hundreds of dot com millionaires. So it isn't that liberals hate entrepreneurs. It is just that many liberals recognize that since they benefit the most from government programs, they should be the ones who pay the most for them. Oh and as it happens, a lot of those entrepreneurs who have amassed great wealth are liberals themselves. Somehow I doubt they are filled with the self loathing Mr Hawkins logic would have them feel.

Conservatives believe that abortion ends the life of an innocent child and since we believe that infanticide is wrong, we oppose abortion. Most liberals, despite what they'll tell you, believe that abortion ends the life of an innocent child, but they prefer killing the baby to inconveniencing the mother.

I am not going to get too deep into this one. I will just say that most liberals know the difference between a fetus and an infant. An abortion isn't infanticide and a fetus is not a baby. Even the IRS agrees. If you don't believe me, try to deduct a fetus on your next tax return.

Conservatives believe in confronting and defeating enemies of the United States before they can harm American citizens. Liberals believe in using law enforcement measures to deal with terrorism, which means that they feel we should allow terrorists to train, plan, and actually attempt to kill Americans before we try to arrest them -- as if you can just send the police around to pick up a terrorist mastermind hiding in Iran or the wilds of Pakistan.

I am not even sure what Hawkins is getting at here. My best guess is that he means that conservatives believe it is ok to invade countries at a huge cost to our own both financially and in human lives because people in those countries share a religion with some other people who committed a terrorist act which makes them our enemies. Well, I guess I cant argue with him. There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq because we confronted and defeated them before they had a chance to get them. Um. Yeah. Ok. It is just like Lisa Simpson's Tiger Repellant Rock!!!

Well, I'm half way through his article and I think I just need to give it a rest. It is too easy and probably isn't fair to pick on one of those conservatives who clearly isn't much of a thinker. And fwiw, I have come across conservatives who probably hold many of the same opinions as Hawkins but who tend to have more intelligent reasons why. And I probably should spend some time critiquing their writing but it isn't as easy and it isn't as fun so I probably wont.

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