Friday, 17 June 2011

Fox and Enemies Attack Ron Paul

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I'm beginning to appreciate Bill O'Reilly's importance to Fox News. He makes the other hosts on the station appear intelligent, well informed, and reasonable. He helps you appreciate Glenn Beck. And Greta Van Susteren, who really does try to be fair. I don't know about "fair and balanced." How do you present "balanced" news? If, as the President's economic policies are falling apart, do you provide footage of Barack Obama being a good father — taking his children to the zoo, for example?

On the Lew Rockwell website, there is a video clip of O'Reilly attempting to be dismissive of Rep. Ron Paul, seizing on Paul's performance in Monday night's candidates' forum in New Hampshire. Referring to a number of polls, O'Reilly insists, "Nobody thought Ron Paul won that debate." Did anyone else emerge as a clear winner? Michele Bachmann got some good reviews, but I don't think she was ranked as the new frontrunner. By the way, did Lincoln win his debates with Douglas? Does it matter? Is O'Reilly waiting for the poll numbers to come in before he takes a stand on expansion of slavery into the territories?

At least "Blowhard" Bill is reasonably polite in this segment, knowing he is talking to John Stossel, someone he can't bully and who is both smarter and more knowledgeable than he. But O'Reilly's apparent ignorance about John Maynard Keynes is revealing. Lord Keynes is the man whose economic theories inspired the New Deal and whose notion that federal "pump-priming" (more deficit spending) is the way to prosperity may yet lead to the downfall of the USA. Yet O'Reilly appears not to have heard the name before and needs coaching on how to pronounce it. One wonders where "Blustering" Bill was in 1971, when Richard Nixon shocked some conservatives by announcing, "We're all Keynesians now." Maybe O'Reilly, the "Faux News" conservative, was so busy shouting "Amen!" to everything Nixon said that he did not hear or remember that tribute to Lord Keynes.

Clearly, Ron Paul and his followers have a lot to do to educate the professional pundits, let alone the general public, on economic history. Maybe they should give up on the pundits and just go to the American people — over the heads of the pundits. As O'Reilly demonstrates, there is plenty of room over their heads.

Ann Coulter presents a different problem. She surely knows who Keynes was and is likely opposed to his economic theories. She has, however, been rightly described as a warmonger and is sometimes called a warmongering witch. I'll leave the witch part to the reader's discretion, but surely the milk of human kindness, if it is in her at all, does not flow from Attorney Coulter's mouth.

She is all over Ron Paul for arguing that government should get out of the marriage business, "straight" or "gay." I understand Dr. Paul to mean exactly what he said, that the federal government should stay out. I don't believe that, as a candidate for the highest federal office, he is proposing to tell the States how to deal with marriage, though his personal preference may be for no government involvement at all. For those on both the left and right who regard the State, preferably the Nation State, as the highest authority, this must appear to be dangerous nonsense.

Ignoring plain English, Coulter sails right past Paul's statement that the "federal government shouldn't be involved" and goes on to argue against the straw man holding that no government at any level should be involved. Now there are libertarians who argue that position, so the straw man ploy is in attributing it to Ron Paul. "If state governments stop officially registering marriages," Coulter writes, "then who gets to adopt? How are child support and custody issues determined if the government doesn't recognize marriage? How about a private company's health care plans — whom will those cover? Who has legal authority to issue 'do not resuscitate' orders to doctors? ... Who inherits in the absence of a will? Who is entitled to a person's Social Security and Medicare benefits? How do you know if you're divorced and able to remarry?"

Well, centuries of government involvement in and, in effect, control of marriage has certainly complicated the issue, as Attorney Coulter makes clear. And it is evolving government policies, including feckless court rulings, that make it difficult for a private company to determine something that used to be noncontroversial — namely, just what is a family? But that is true of a great many things, including Ms. Coulter's profession. How would we know who is competent to practice law without government-certified law schools, government licenses, and state bar exams? The fact that Abe Lincoln practiced law rather competently without a law degree or a bar exam might give one pause. Marriage is, to be sure, more complicated and more basic to the survival of civilization. But Coulter is not content to pose reasonable problematic questions. She argues that if Rep. Paul had his way, "your legal rights pertaining to marriage will be decided on a case-by-case basis by judges forced to evaluate the legitimacy of your marriage consecrated by a Wiccan priest — or your tennis coach."

With or without state authority, why does anyone have to recognize Wiccan-sanctioned weddings or matrimony by golf pros, any more than we have to recognize Wiccan law schools or medical schools run by golf pros? How about if we limited the state role to requiring full disclosure?

Alimony and child support arrangements could be established in pre-nuptial agreements. Paternity tests would be a legitimate role for the state — though not the federal government. Ryan McMaken on makes the case that for centuries marriage was governed in the Western world by the canons of the Catholic Church. One might go back even further to the Mosaic law, which Jesus himself cited when questioned about marriage and divorce. Just for the record, Jesus did not say, "What the State has joined together, let no man tear asunder."

The State, with its marriage by justices of the peace, its no-fault divorce, and its sanctioning of serial monogamy, has created more questions and problems than it has answered and solved. It has brought the sacrament of marriage into the marketplace, where consumers have become used to planned obsolescence and disposable products. The State does not add value. It cheapens things, from the currency to matrimony. Marriage, as Ann Coulter has unwittingly demonstrated, suffers as much from the help of its friends as from the attacks of its enemies.

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