Rational Ryan

The Peikoff Endorsement

113 posts in this topic

[The context of that question was the seeming fact that Palin is a creationist. THAT is such an egregiously irrational viewpoint that it disqualifies someone for the position of President.

It's all irrational, where do you draw the line? Resurrection? Virgin Birth? Holy Ghosts?

One thing is certain, anyone who doesn't believe in most of this stuff, is not in the running.

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[The context of that question was the seeming fact that Palin is a creationist. THAT is such an egregiously irrational viewpoint that it disqualifies someone for the position of President.

It's all irrational, where do you draw the line? Resurrection? Virgin Birth? Holy Ghosts?

It's true, that it's all irrational, but I think one can draw the line based on a few characteristics:

1. is it going to affect how they approach policy? many classically religious people who accept religion as a personal matter do not bring their beliefs into politics--Canadian politicians, especially Liberals, have traditionally been very good this way (3 of the most gay-rights-friendly politicians were devote Catholics, and several Catholic Prime Ministers disavowed any attempts to overturn Canada's lack of abortion laws on religious bases.)

2. is it just fairly abstract religious belief, that doesn't really tie to actual life? belief in "god" and mythological religious figures tends to be quite abstract and disconnected from real life

Notice how the creationists fail this test-- they believe very absurd concrete nonsense that directly contradicts vast quantities of very clearly documented scientific evidence. If there is such a thing as Dr. Peikoff's "inherently dishonest ideas" I would put Creationism into that camp.

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[The context of that question was the seeming fact that Palin is a creationist. THAT is such an egregiously irrational viewpoint that it disqualifies someone for the position of President.

It's all irrational, where do you draw the line? Resurrection? Virgin Birth? Holy Ghosts?

It's true, that it's all irrational, but I think one can draw the line based on a few characteristics:

1. is it going to affect how they approach policy? many classically religious people who accept religion as a personal matter do not bring their beliefs into politics--Canadian politicians, especially Liberals, have traditionally been very good this way (3 of the most gay-rights-friendly politicians were devote Catholics, and several Catholic Prime Ministers disavowed any attempts to overturn Canada's lack of abortion laws on religious bases.)

2. is it just fairly abstract religious belief, that doesn't really tie to actual life? belief in "god" and mythological religious figures tends to be quite abstract and disconnected from real life

Notice how the creationists fail this test-- they believe very absurd concrete nonsense that directly contradicts vast quantities of very clearly documented scientific evidence. If there is such a thing as Dr. Peikoff's "inherently dishonest ideas" I would put Creationism into that camp.

Well, if it is how they approach policy that concerns you, she indicates no bias about teaching evolution, which is the core area of this belief. I have not seen where she intends forcing her views on the electorate, which is more than can be said for the socialists and environmentalists (the new religion). The whole concept of someone dying for our sins, and the gruesome display of that sacrifice worn by so many, is more worrisome than arguments on the age of the earth. Note that none dispute the big fella made it.

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should at least place all of Ayn Rand's works into the public domain so that they can be freely copied, quoted, translated, wiki-fied, analyzed, argued about, stored on millions of electronic devices, transcribed onto etched superalloy sheets (one of my ideas) that would last millions of years, and searched all around the internet.

I have no clue who owns these copyrights or the background of that ownership, but Phil Oliver is making a hugely important point here. If a fund-raising campaign needs to be undertaken to buy out the copyrights, so be it. It ought to be a prime focus of organized Objectivism to get the work of Ayn Rand freely available and organized on the internet in its fullest possible extent, in as many languages as possible, as soon as possible.

If this is not near the top of the agenda for ARI, I wish someone would explain why it isn't so we can get to work and deal with the problem!

One more thought -- I think I've read comments like this from Phil before, and yet I've never seen much followup from others. Phil, I want to publicly volunteer to sign on and contribute to any effort you might decide to put together to carry on this effort, and I publicly challenge others on this board to do the same! This goal is too important, and time is too short, for this issue to remain in the shadows.

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So the right to privacy and due process is at the heart of Roe v. Wade. if the Colorado legislation is to be fought in the courts, it must be on the basis of the ninth amendment right to privacy and it must also prove that the proposed legislation deprives a woman of due process. If the matter if fought in the courts it must be along the lines that the court has established. General philosophical principles do not win cases. Basing the case on precedent and the constitutional right to privacy and due process might win the case, if it goes to court. The court makes the rules and the case must be fought on the basis of these rules.

I too, object to the proposed Colorado legislation on both scientific and philosophical grounds, but that will not win the case in court.

Philosophy is not irrelevant in the courtroom. Judges make decisions based on arguments, not a mere list of precedents. And precedents in this case are on our side. But you're right that there could be problems. Conservatives object that Roe v. Wade was a bad decision, that there is no right to privacy. The problem is that privacy derives from the right to life, which so-called "pro-choice" advocates have conceded to the Right. It is possible to defend the decision, but not based on any ridiculous notion of "the right to choose".

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Philosophy is not irrelevant in the courtroom. Judges make decisions based on arguments, not a mere list of precedents. And precedents in this case are on our side. But you're right that there could be problems. Conservatives object that Roe v. Wade was a bad decision, that there is no right to privacy. The problem is that privacy derives from the right to life, which so-called "pro-choice" advocates have conceded to the Right. It is possible to defend the decision, but not based on any ridiculous notion of "the right to choose".

A philosophical approach may have some relevance to arguing a case, but the -grounding- of the case must consist of (1) the constitution or (2) or prior decisions. To be sure, logic is used to infer legal conclusions from legal premises, but purely abstract grounding for a case will usually go nowhere. Hypothetical-s and counter factual definite premises generally do not win cases in courts of appeal.

The first thing that a would be prospective judge in an appeals court must establish before he is appointed, is the acceptance of -stare decicis- that is the respect for prior decisions of the court. If the court overthrows a prior decision, it must do so on the basis that the constitution applies differently in -this particular- case than from prior cases. In any case the major grounding of any argument in court is -legal- more than philosophical. If purely philosophical arguments were decisive, our country would not be in the mess it is in now.

The fact of the matter is that we are not governed by rulers who are philosophers and philosophers who rulers. Plato's fondest wish has not become true, and in view of how much misery the principles of -The Republic- have led to*, I, for one, am grateful. If I am to be governed I would rather be governed by decent, fair minded people who have a real life outside of government, than by Philosopher Kings.

*See -The Open Society and Its Enemies- by Karl Popper (yes, -that- Karl Popper). He takes Plato's ideal state apart nail by nail and bolt by bolt.

ruveyn

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Such an argument is typical for conservatives who drop the context of the First Amendment. What would the First Amendment mean? That Congress pass a law saying the the pope is now the head of state? Such an interpretation is unreasonable. The Supreme Court did not legalize abortion based upon the Ninth Amendment. Any law that uses a religious tenet as the basis for its passage is a law respecting the establishment of religion, and is unconstitutional. Such a law uses force to make other religious (or non-religious) people abide by that legislation.

Here is a snipped from the wiki article on Roe v. Wade:

Roe v. Wade , 410 U.S. 113 (1973) is a United States Supreme Court case that resulted in a landmark decision regarding abortion.[1] According to the Roe decision, most laws against abortion in the United States violated a constitutional right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision overturned all state and federal laws outlawing or restricting abortion that were inconsistent with its holdings. Roe v. Wade is one of the most controversial and politically significant cases in U.S. Supreme Court history. Its lesser-known companion case, Doe v. Bolton, was decided at the same time.[2]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The right to privacy was established as a consequence of the ninth amendment in Griswald v. Connecticut.

So the right to privacy and due process is at the heart of Roe v. Wade. if the Colorado legislation is to be fought in the courts, it must be on the basis of the ninth amendment right to privacy and it must also prove that the proposed legislation deprives a woman of due process. If the matter if fought in the courts it must be along the lines that the court has established. General philosophical principles do not win cases. Basing the case on precedent and the constitutional right to privacy and due process might win the case, if it goes to court. The court makes the rules and the case must be fought on the basis of these rules.

I too, object to the proposed Colorado legislation on both scientific and philosophical grounds, but that will not win the case in court.

ruveyn

What evidence do you have that the right to privacy was based upon the Ninth Amendment? I know of no such connection. Nor do I agree that we have a right to privacy. Such a right is quite nebulous and undefinable, in my opinion.

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The first amendment concerns any legislation that has its origin in religion. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

"Respecting" there means "has as its subject." You can't have a law whose subject is establishing a religion like the Anglican Church in England. In England, the Church is supported by tax money and once did not allow full religious or political freedoms to Jews, Catholics, and other non-members of the Church. This led to many of them fleeing to America and making sure, in the First Amendment, that it could not happen here.

Then there is no basis for asserting the First Amendment in any case since such a law would never be proposed here. "Establishment of religion" does not mean an state church. It means a law that has one religion's point of view and support, and restricts the rights of others.

What is secular about a considering a fertilized egg a human being with the right to life? Is there any non-religious organization that upholds such a position?

That's a scientific / political issue and I have known a few atheists -- and even A.R.I. contributors -- who have believed a fetus is a person with rights.

A religious doctrine may be stripped of its religious meaning by secularizing its ideas in the same what that Marxism secularized politics by substituting society for god. But the ideas are still mysticism in epistemological method. One just has to argue against the idea from a different perspective.

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Dr. Peikoff echoes my own personal sentiments exactly. I have been saying here all along that the religious right and the Republicans are vastly more dangerous than the Democrats, and that in this election, both sides are equally awful and there is no one to vote for.

I think the people arguing otherwise have not been eating their Objectivist Wheaties.

IMHO.

Argumentation, please.

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What evidence do you have that the right to privacy was based upon the Ninth Amendment? I know of no such connection. Nor do I agree that we have a right to privacy. Such a right is quite nebulous and undefinable, in my opinion.

Griswold v Connecticut. A right to privacy was found in the "penumbra" of the 9th amendment. There is no general right of privacy enumerated in the Constitution. There is a partial right of privacy implied by the 4-th amendment.

see http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/privacy/

paragraph 1.2

ruveyn

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[The context of that question was the seeming fact that Palin is a creationist. THAT is such an egregiously irrational viewpoint that it disqualifies someone for the position of President.

It's all irrational, where do you draw the line? Resurrection? Virgin Birth? Holy Ghosts?

One thing is certain, anyone who doesn't believe in most of this stuff, is not in the running.

... and never has been. Every presidential candidate has been a Christian of one kind of another.

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You can't have a law whose subject is establishing a religion like the Anglican Church in England. In England, the Church is supported by tax money and once did not allow full religious or political freedoms to Jews, Catholics, and other non-members of the Church. This led to many of them fleeing to America and making sure, in the First Amendment, that it could not happen here.

Then there is no basis for asserting the First Amendment in any case since such a law would never be proposed here. "Establishment of religion" does not mean an state church. It means a law that has one religion's point of view and support, and restricts the rights of others.

Actually, "establishing a religion" means a law requiring a religious practice or taxpayer support of a religious practice. Examples would be the prayers and Bible readings that used to be required in public schools.

It does not mean allowing religious practices, which are explicitly protected by the "free exercise" clause, nor does the First Amendment prevent the writing of laws inspired by religious ideals. Most laws against murder have been based on "Thou shalt not kill" rather than on a genuine understanding of the right to life.

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Dr. Peikoff echoes my own personal sentiments exactly. I have been saying here all along that the religious right and the Republicans are vastly more dangerous than the Democrats, and that in this election, both sides are equally awful and there is no one to vote for.

I think the people arguing otherwise have not been eating their Objectivist Wheaties.

IMHO.

Okay, I have one question. If Immanuel Kant is the juggernaut who made the essential arguments that lead to the destruction of Western freedoms, then how is it that religion is suddenly the bigger enemy? Doesn't it make sense that removing the primary cause of the decline of philosophy, Kant, is the way to make possible the rise of Objectivism and capitalism?

After all, religious arguments are easily defeated. I have some idea about what might be going on, which would be an answer to my own question, but I'll save that for later.

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You can't have a law whose subject is establishing a religion like the Anglican Church in England. In England, the Church is supported by tax money and once did not allow full religious or political freedoms to Jews, Catholics, and other non-members of the Church. This led to many of them fleeing to America and making sure, in the First Amendment, that it could not happen here.

Then there is no basis for asserting the First Amendment in any case since such a law would never be proposed here. "Establishment of religion" does not mean an state church. It means a law that has one religion's point of view and support, and restricts the rights of others.

Actually, "establishing a religion" means a law requiring a religious practice or taxpayer support of a religious practice. Examples would be the prayers and Bible readings that used to be required in public schools.

What is your opinion of the following which used to be laws throughout the country? Not buying beer on Sunday, or not opening up a department store or mall on Sunday until 12 noon; not being able to buy contraceptives; outlawing homosexual activity; etc., etc. Do you regard such laws as violations of the First Amendment because they are based upon religious interpretations of the Bible? The laws were certainly meant to require religious practices, such as attending church or procreation.

It does not mean allowing religious practices, which are explicitly protected by the "free exercise" clause, nor does the First Amendment prevent the writing of laws inspired by religious ideals. Most laws against murder have been based on "Thou shalt not kill" rather than on a genuine understanding of the right to life.

That is true. But note how that "law" is violated in religious societies against infidels and non-believers, immigrants, non-whites, non-blacks, outsiders, etc. So the "law" was really just a rule for the majority to follow depending upon the circumstances.

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Okay, I have one question. If Immanuel Kant is the juggernaut who made the essential arguments that lead to the destruction of Western freedoms, then how is it that religion is suddenly the bigger enemy? Doesn't it make sense that removing the primary cause of the decline of philosophy, Kant, is the way to make possible the rise of Objectivism and capitalism?

After all, religious arguments are easily defeated. I have some idea about what might be going on, which would be an answer to my own question, but I'll save that for later.

The philosophic threats today are nihilism and mysticism. Nihilists set us up, and mystics knock us down. It's not that there are some ideas out there that, once removed, would reveal a rational society. The rational foundation that once existed only implicitly has been eroded to next to nothing. In its place we have only a false-dichotomy. The survival of this country is going to depend on the spread of Objectivism, not the defeat of its opposition.

I don't agree that it's eroded to nothing. It is bad and getting worse, but there is still quite a bit of good thinking out there and a long Western tradition in our favor. This is why we are as rational as we are in so many modern fields. As far as the decay of ideas goes, we will need to both defeat Kant and spread Objectivism. Thankfully, Ayn Rand has provided the arguments to defeat Kant and the positive philosophical system to rebuild the world.

Think about it this way. Kant is responsible for disconnecting reason from reality. Nihilists use this to attack all absolutists. But the idea was actually Kant's way of "making room for faith", he was trying to help religion. So nihilists are not even Kantian, he just gave them the weapon they needed to disarm the culture. In the place of reason they can advocate anything.

Yes, this was what I had in mind in my prior posting, Kant did make room for religion. He has succeeded in that and this is also the reason Islam is on the rise in the West. But, the interesting thing about Kantian epistemology is that it requires the disintegration of thought. Kant tells you that in order to be rational you have to do things which in reality are the opposite of what should be done. This is nihilism in its worst form. I'd say nihilists are Kantian in the important sense and that they accept the Kantian premises. Or perhaps they are Humeian premises, that we can't know the world as it is, and that there is no cause and effect. Almost everyone today is a Kantian.

In today's world a politician only "knows" something because he has faith. That's Kant. But I think there's a difference between someone who uses faith to command others, and those who depend on it because they know of no other alternative. There are enemies on both the Right and the Left, people who would exploit the nihilism of the age to further their own power lust. Obama's "hope" is just as much a mystical idea as the Biblical commandments of evangelicals. Hell, did you read there were women fainting at his rallies?

There is no doubt that postmodernism contains elements of religion. This is most notable with environmentalism.

But I've had a chance to think a lot about this issue and I think it's a mistake to say that everyone who believes in God or has some irrational ideas because of religious faith is the same as a power luster.

I'd venture that most people believe in God because they want an explanation for how things are.

Don't underestimate the intellectual damage that nihilists have done; just look at the schools! The next generation will be far dumber than the last, and they are already being indoctrinated with the ideas to support a socialist revolution.

This is a big concern of mine and not just those being educated now, but people like Obama too, who is thoroughly post modernist. Just do a Google search for the exams he gave as a professor. His exams are all about gender and race.

The government controls what is taught in most schools, and it has science on a leash. The mass media supports the government with a socialist bias. The colleges only reinforce the bias, and most philosophers are complicit, teaching that ideas are all opinion, that we can't really know what's true. Most honest people don't know where to turn, having been disarmed of reason long ago. So they turn to religion, the only source of absolutes they know of. I think that's why you find so many of what Betsy calls "Good Objectivist Material ™" among that crowd.

Yes, I like Betsy's analysis of this.

It's not that we have to defeat religion, because as you said religion is easily defeated and the nihilists do it all the time. I think the reason so many people hold onto it despite the arguments is they hate what they see as the alternative. But we can show them another one.

We can. Still, the question is why is religion such a major menace in comparison to Kant? If you eliminate the arguments Kant provided, you eliminate the arguments that are bolstering religion.

Peikoff's argument is two fold:

1> Religion provides a moral foundation that is attractive to people, where as modern philosophy just gives us wishy-washy moral relativism. This gives religion more long term strength to attract people.

2> Religion, unlike Communism, can't be disproved in out sensory-perceptual field. We can't see heaven. This gives religion the edge over communism.

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The vast majority of Christian Republicans don't want anybody--the government, other religions, other Christians--sticking their nose into their lives; they want to be left the hell alone to live life as they please, and they certainly don't want to meddle in the lives of others.
So they don't want to ban gay marriage or abortion? Teach intelligent design as a reasonable alternative theory to evolution? Ban Harry Potter?

A few of them do, but observe these are all legal powers religion used to have and lost (laws against abortion and teaching evolution, censorship) or currently have and are in danger of losing (ban on gay marriage)....

When it comes to Christian Republicans and abortion, how in the world can you make the claim that only a "few" of them want to ban it? Heck, the banning of abortion is one of their big issues.

I don't think I've ever encountered a Christian Republican who doesn't want to ban at least some cases of abortion, and I've encountered all too many who want to ban abortion in virtually all circumstances.

If only "a few" want to ban it, how come Mike Huckabee was so popular and did so well in the primaries? If only a few want to ban abortion, why can people like Rush Limbaugh get away with disparaging pro-choice Republicans, as he did the other day on his show? (He is by far the most popular of the conservative talk-show hosts; given his anti-abortion stance, he would not have this popularity if only "a few" of the Christian Republicans also wanted to ban abortion.)

If only a few want to ban it, where were all of these pro-choice Republican candidates for the presidential nomination? As far as I know, Giuliani was the only even partially pro-choice one among them, and of course his candidacy failed miserably.

And look at all of McCain's earlier pandering to the Religious Right - before he got the nomination, he went out of his way to make sure they all knew he was anti-abortion.

Somebody can correct me if I'm wrong, but the last pro-choice Republican who got his party's nomination for president was Gerald Ford, way back in 1976.

One can argue about whether the greatest threat to our liberties today comes from the left or right, but among the religious people on the right (and many non-religious conservatives too) the desire to ban abortion is very strong.

I also reject the claim that these people don't want to meddle in the lives of others. If all they wanted was to be left alone and they're against abortion, the solution for them would simple - just don't have one! But instead, they want to forcefully take away this choice from women they've never met.

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I don't think I've ever encountered a Christian Republican who doesn't want to ban at least some cases of abortion, and I've encountered all too many who want to ban abortion in virtually all circumstances.

I don't think I've met many NY Dems that don't have legal issues with late term abortions.

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What is your opinion of the following which used to be laws throughout the country? Not buying beer on Sunday, or not opening up a department store or mall on Sunday until 12 noon; not being able to buy contraceptives; outlawing homosexual activity; etc., etc. Do you regard such laws as violations of the First Amendment because they are based upon religious interpretations of the Bible? The laws were certainly meant to require religious practices, such as attending church or procreation.

I know you didn't mean it this way, but I couldn't let this go by: Procreation is a religious practice? Well, practicing procreation certainly can be a religious experience for me...

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What evidence do you have that the right to privacy was based upon the Ninth Amendment? I know of no such connection. Nor do I agree that we have a right to privacy. Such a right is quite nebulous and undefinable, in my opinion.

Better still, see

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment09/

The Griswold case provided a doorway for 9th amendment arguments. Not everyone liked that. For example Judge Robert Bork.

By the way, perhaps you can refresh my recollection here. Didn't Ayn Rand regard the 9th amendment as an important guarantor of rights?

ruveyn

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What is your opinion of the following which used to be laws throughout the country? Not buying beer on Sunday, or not opening up a department store or mall on Sunday until 12 noon; not being able to buy contraceptives; outlawing homosexual activity; etc., etc.

Such "blue laws" are a violation of individual rights. When they have been challenged in the courts, however, the proponents always justify blue laws on secular grounds and have often prevailed.

Do you regard such laws as violations of the First Amendment because they are based upon religious interpretations of the Bible?

Only if they restrict speech or assembly or require or forbid religious activities. Those are the subject of the First Amendment. Most blue laws are violations of property rights which, unfortunately, were never explicity protected in the Bill of Rights.

The laws were certainly meant to require religious practices, such as attending church or procreation.

Blue laws might encourage religious practices, but they don't require them. Also, while there is a biblical injunction to "be fruitful and multiply," I wasn't aware that procreation is a "religious practice."

It does not mean allowing religious practices, which are explicitly protected by the "free exercise" clause, nor does the First Amendment prevent the writing of laws inspired by religious ideals. Most laws against murder have been based on "Thou shalt not kill" rather than on a genuine understanding of the right to life.

That is true. But note how that "law" is violated in religious societies against infidels and non-believers, immigrants, non-whites, non-blacks, outsiders, etc. So the "law" was really just a rule for the majority to follow depending upon the circumstances.

Thank God we have a First Amendment!

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Peikoff's argument is two fold:

1> Religion provides a moral foundation that is attractive to people, where as modern philosophy just gives us wishy-washy moral relativism. This gives religion more long term strength to attract people.

It also gives Objectivism much more long term strength than either religion or modern philosophy.

2> Religion, unlike Communism, can't be disproved in our sensory-perceptual field. We can't see heaven. This gives religion the edge over communism.

... but definitely not against Objectivism. We're the only ones with reality on our side.

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Well, my friends, if Kantian philosophy is the biggest threat, than I submit that it is reaching its climax in John McCain. It is time for a new Code of Conduct which is Duty, Honor, My Life.

I suggest Honor, Courage, Commitment.

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When it comes to Christian Republicans and abortion, how in the world can you make the claim that only a "few" of them want to ban it? Heck, the banning of abortion is one of their big issues.

Not in California. As for other states with more fundamentalists, observe that, despite many attempts to ban or restrict abortion, very few have been passed and most of them have been thrown out by the courts. That's a big change from the days when abortion was illegal in every state.

If only "a few" want to ban it, how come Mike Huckabee was so popular and did so well in the primaries?

Huckabee lost to the much more secular McCain.

If only a few want to ban abortion, why can people like Rush Limbaugh get away with disparaging pro-choice Republicans, as he did the other day on his show? (He is by far the most popular of the conservative talk-show hosts; given his anti-abortion stance, he would not have this popularity if only "a few" of the Christian Republicans also wanted to ban abortion.)

I have never heard Rush make a religious argument against abortion. I think he opposes it because he mistakenly thinks, for secular reasons, that a fetus is a person with rights. As for his popularity, he is popular with me and with many Objectivists I know because he makes effective and entertaining arguments for individual rights, values and defends human achievement, and holds the Bad Guys up to public ridicule.

If only a few want to ban it, where were all of these pro-choice Republican candidates for the presidential nomination? As far as I know, Giuliani was the only even partially pro-choice one among them, and of course his candidacy failed miserably.

He had 80% support among California Republicans but he didn't participate in the early primaries and ran out of money. Maybe he'll do better next time.

Somebody can correct me if I'm wrong, but the last pro-choice Republican who got his party's nomination for president was Gerald Ford, way back in 1976.

Ford was opposed to legal abortion, but Ayn Rand supported him anyway.

One can argue about whether the greatest threat to our liberties today comes from the left or right, but among the religious people on the right (and many non-religious conservatives too) the desire to ban abortion is very strong.

... and unsuccessful. Not so with the desires of socialists and environmentalists.

I also reject the claim that these people don't want to meddle in the lives of others. If all they wanted was to be left alone and they're against abortion, the solution for them would simple - just don't have one! But instead, they want to forcefully take away this choice from women they've never met.

Some religious people do want to control other people, but most don't. They just want to be free to live their lives as they see fit and not be forced to engage in or fund practices that violate their religion. Religious people are not violating my rights or your rights anywhere near as much as the socialists and environmentalists.

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When it comes to Christian Republicans and abortion, how in the world can you make the claim that only a "few" of them want to ban it? Heck, the banning of abortion is one of their big issues.

Not in California. As for other states with more fundamentalists, observe that, despite many attempts to ban or restrict abortion, very few have been passed and most of them have been thrown out by the courts. That's a big change from the days when abortion was illegal in every state.

What I am disputing is your claim that only "a few" of the Christian Republicans want to ban abortion. The facts that abortion used to be illegal everywhere, and that many of the current ban attempts have failed, are not what I am disputing.

If only "a few" want to ban it, how come Mike Huckabee was so popular and did so well in the primaries?

Huckabee lost to the much more secular McCain.

Yes, I'm aware of that. But again, your claim was that only "a few" Christian Republicans wanted to ban abortion. If there were only a few, then my point is: how in the world did Huckabee ever get as much support as he did?

If only a few want to ban abortion, why can people like Rush Limbaugh get away with disparaging pro-choice Republicans, as he did the other day on his show? (He is by far the most popular of the conservative talk-show hosts; given his anti-abortion stance, he would not have this popularity if only "a few" of the Christian Republicans also wanted to ban abortion.)

I have never heard Rush make a religious argument against abortion. I think he opposes it because he mistakenly thinks, for secular reasons, that a fetus is a person with rights. As for his popularity, he is popular with me and with many Objectivists I know because he makes effective and entertaining arguments for individual rights, values and defends human achievement, and holds the Bad Guys up to public ridicule.

I only said that Limbaugh was against abortion; I have no idea what his reasons are. However, again, I claim that his great popularity wouldn't be so great if there were only a few Christian Republicans who wanted to ban abortion, because if that were the case, his anti-abortion stance would be very unpopular with his listeners. (Also, I don't see the relevance in this discussion of the fact that he is popular with some Objectivists. There are so few Objectivists that they certainly do not constitute more than a miniscule fraction of his audience.)

If only a few want to ban it, where were all of these pro-choice Republican candidates for the presidential nomination? As far as I know, Giuliani was the only even partially pro-choice one among them, and of course his candidacy failed miserably.

He had 80% support among California Republicans but he didn't participate in the early primaries and ran out of money. Maybe he'll do better next time.

Really?? Why in the world would he drop out if he had 80% support in California - surely if he was that popular he could have raised some more money. (Do you have a source to substantiate this claim - 80% sounds extremely high for any candidate to have.) In any event, my point was that most or all of the other contenders for the nomination were anti-abortion, which I am using to challenge your claim that there are only "a few" Christian Republicans who want to ban abortion.

Somebody can correct me if I'm wrong, but the last pro-choice Republican who got his party's nomination for president was Gerald Ford, way back in 1976.

Ford was opposed to legal abortion, but Ayn Rand supported him anyway.

I'm sorry to hear Ford was against abortion, and I stand corrected on that. But, that just reinforces my point about the anti-abortion stance being so prevalent among Republicans, because that means we'd have to go back to Nixon (whose abortion stance I know nothing about) or even Goldwater to find a pro-choice Republican.

...

In summary, I'm not arguing about the relative threats of left versus right; I am just disputing your claim that there are only a few Christian Republicans who want to ban abortion. Based on the evidence I've already given, I still do not see how you can reasonably make this claim. There are just too many prominent Republicans who want to ban abortion. (People like candidates, talk-show hosts and politicians who have actually been elected.) This would not be the case if only a few Republicans wanted to ban abortion, for that would mean that the vast majority wanted to keep abortion legal, and anti abortionists would not get very far in the party. How could it be that a party in which there were only "a few" who wanted to ban abortion, that we'd have to go back 40 years to find a pro-choice presidential candidate?

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What is your opinion of the following which used to be laws throughout the country? Not buying beer on Sunday, or not opening up a department store or mall on Sunday until 12 noon; not being able to buy contraceptives; outlawing homosexual activity; etc., etc.

Such "blue laws" are a violation of individual rights. When they have been challenged in the courts, however, the proponents always justify blue laws on secular grounds and have often prevailed.

Do you regard such laws as violations of the First Amendment because they are based upon religious interpretations of the Bible?

Only if they restrict speech or assembly or require or forbid religious activities. Those are the subject of the First Amendment. Most blue laws are violations of property rights which, unfortunately, were never explicity protected in the Bill of Rights.

The laws were certainly meant to require religious practices, such as attending church or procreation.

Blue laws might encourage religious practices, but they don't require them.

Almost all support for blue laws is a desire for a day off with less traffic and noise on the roads -- not exactly a conspiracy for theocracy.

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