Why I Support John McCain

HT to Snooper at ANewtOne for this gem. Also cross posted at Do The Right Thing.

Commentary by Dennis Prager at World Net Daily, July 01, 2008

Last week, a conservative magazine reported that I would not vote for John McCain for president. The magazine based its claim on a column I had written in May 2007 about why I could not support John McCain for the Republican presidential nomination.
The magazine was wrong. Though I did not support Sen. McCain in the Republican primaries, the moment he became the presumptive Republican candidate I endorsed him wholeheartedly for president of the United States.

Having not been a supporter from the outset, perhaps my endorsement of John McCain will carry more weight among conservatives who are still undecided about whether to vote for John McCain.

My bottom line is this: The gulf between John McCain and conservatives is miniscule compared to the gulf between John McCain and Barack Obama.

This is true regarding virtually every issue of significance to America. The America that a President Barack Obama would shape, with the help of a Democratic Congress and a liberal Supreme Court, would be very dissimilar from the America shaped by a President John McCain.

Conservatives who will not vote for McCain are well-intentioned utopians. They are comparing McCain to a consistently conservative candidate. The reality, however, is that McCain is not running against a consistently conservative candidate. He is running against a consistently left-wing candidate. And America cannot afford to have its first leftist president ever. It can afford liberal presidents – such as Bill Clinton, or Jimmy Carter (who governed as a liberal but became a leftist after leaving the White House), or John F. Kennedy, or Lyndon Johnson, or Harry Truman – i.e., all the Democrats who have been president since World War II. But the Democratic Party has moved well to the left of liberalism. And Barack Obama is at the left of that left-wing party.

Furthermore, given the strong possibility of a Democratic House, a Democratic Senate and a liberal Supreme Court for decades to come, given the number of Supreme Court appointments a Democratic president will be able to make, an Obama victory will move America more radically leftward than ever in its history.

That is why the argument that an Obama administration will be so destructive that Americans will reject the left and then elect a real conservative to undo the damage done in an Obama presidency is deeply flawed.

First of all, other than impeachment, there is no way to undo Supreme Court appointments, two or three of which a President Obama would likely make. And given how active most liberal judges are, it won’t matter much if the country has some conservative epiphany and then elects a Republican president and Congress. Because even if the Congress and the president will not pass liberal legislation, a liberal Supreme Court will. On almost any social issue that matters – the right to bear arms, late-term abortion, the definition of marriage, capital punishment and many others – a liberal Supreme Court will rule on these issues, and there will be nothing that a post-Obama Republican president, even with a Republican Congress, will be able to do about them.

Moreover, the argument that Americans will have a conservative epiphany after four years of an Obama presidency is predicated on America being greatly damaged by his policies. What kind of mindset welcomes such damage to the country it loves for the sake of potentially gaining politically after the damage is done? Is it, for example, really worth a considerably weakened economy (which Barack Obama’s tax and other economic policies would likely lead to), with its widespread suffering and unforeseeable social and political consequences, just to – hopefully – get a conservative into the White House four or eight years later?

And the damage won’t necessarily be undone. Even Ronald Reagan, the most popular conservative to ever serve as president, could not roll back most liberal creations. He never could get rid of the useless Department of Education, for example. Nor could a then-popular President George W. Bush do a thing about Social Security even when he had a Republican House and Senate.

And how will Barack Obama’s successor undo the damage done to Iraq, the Middle East, the war on Islamic terror and the credibility of America’s assurances to allies once Iraq slides into chaos as a result of America’s precipitous withdrawal?

Therefore, as well-meaning and sincere as many conservatives are, this mode of thinking – let the country suffer under a left-wing president, Congress and Supreme Court and then it will come to its conservative senses – will likely lead to a downward spiral from which it is hard to see the country escaping for a generation, if it is lucky.

There is one person who can prevent this unhappy future – John McCain.

He will not raise taxes, the last thing we should be doing in a weakened economy.

He will reduce government spending, and thereby prevent the state from controlling even more of American life.

He will ensure that America wins in Iraq. That will make one of the biggest and richest Arab states the freest of the Arab states. And it will hand Islamic terrorists the biggest defeat they have ever suffered. It will teach potential enemies not to attack America (whether Iraq did so directly is irrelevant to the point). And it will reassure America’s allies around the world, many of whom, as in Iraq, risk their lives for America and liberty, that America will never abandon them.

He will appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court and to federal benches, thereby depriving the left of its most powerful weapon in reshaping America in its image.

He may attract enough Hispanic votes (while securing the borders) to prevent that critical constituency from identifying with the Democratic Party, something that would ensure left-wing victories for decades to come.

He will develop nuclear power, environmentalist (read leftist) opposition to which has been morally indefensible. We would all love to have a solar-powered or wind-powered country.

However, on planet earth at this time, nuclear power may be the cleanest source of energy we have. That is why France, not heretofore known as politically conservative, relies on nuclear power for nearly 80 percent of its electricity.

However noble their intentions, conservatives who do not vote for John McCain will be morally complicit in what happens to America during an Obama presidency.

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The Inspiration Behind "Trolls"


Last night, prior to posting “Trolls”, I was catching up on my reading from all the sources I subscribe to. One of my favorite radio hosts is Dennis Prager because he refuses to argue, preferring understanding to agreement.

I happen to think along the same lines.

His post at Townhall.com titled “Internet Anonymity is as Destructive as Internet Porn” was the inspiration for “Trolls”. Since my trackbacks don’t work too well with Townhall.com, I’m pasting his entire article here. It’s thought provoking and should give all true, rational adults something to think about before they post “flaming” comments on others’ blogs. I know I have tightened up my rules and will no longer tolerate “flaming” in my comments sections on my blog. I won’t succumb to the childish nonsense instigators choose to toss out. For more on my rules, go back and read “Trolls”.

A word to the wise, however. Should you choose to “flame” me, either on my blog or a blog I contribute to, I will have no compunction showing comment threads in all their glory and exposing your childishness for the world to see, complete with links. I’m simply not going to tolerate it any longer and perhaps, if you are shown to be the child you choose to act as, often enough, you may start to see the light that people are tired of such behavior and may actually choose to act as a rational, reasonable adult.

Here’s Mr. Prager’s article:

Whenever people lament aspects of the Internet, they are most likely to lament the net’s ubiquity of pornography. Only God knows, for example, how many kids, searching for some government information, typed in “whitehouse.com” only to be greeted by pornographic images (happily, the website changed hands in 2004). It is almost impossible to completely avoid such imagery even with filtering programs.

But there is something at least as awful — and arguably more destructive — that permeates the Internet: the lies, vitriol, obscenities and ad hominem attacks made by anonymous individuals on almost every website that deals with public issues.

Sexual images and prose for the purpose of sexual titillation are not new. But the ability of anyone in society to debase public discourse is new. Until the Internet, in the public’s best known venue for self-expression — letters to the editor published in newspapers and magazines — people either expressed themselves in a civilized manner or they were not published. And overwhelmingly, even those letters that were not published were written in a respectful manner because the letter-writers had to reveal their real names and their addresses (though only names and cities were published).

Being identifiable breeds responsibility; anonymity breeds irresponsibility.

That is why people — even generally decent people — tend to act so much less morally when in a crowd (the crowd renders them anonymous). That is why people tend to act more decently when they walk around with their names printed on a nametag. That is why people act more rudely when in their cars — they cannot be identified as they could outside of their car. There is no question but that most people would write very different entries on the Internet if their names were printed alongside their submission.

E-mail provides another example. It is the very rare individual who sends a hate-filled, obscenity-laced e-mail that includes his name. As the recipient of such e-mails, I know firsthand how rarely people identify themselves when sending hate-filled mail. It is so rare, in fact, that I usually respond to hate mail that includes the writer’s name just to commend him for attaching his name to something so embarrassing.

The Internet practice of giving everyone the ability to express himself anonymously for millions to read has debased public discourse. Cursing, ad hominem attacks and/or the utter absence of logic characterize a large percentage of many websites’ “comments” sections. And because people tend to do what society says it is OK to do, many people, especially younger people, are coming to view such primitive forms of self-expression as acceptable.

Some might argue that anonymity enables people to more freely express their thoughts. But this is not true. Anonymity only enables people to more freely express their feelings. Anonymity values feelings over thought, and immediate expression over thoughtful reflection.

There is not one good reason for any website, left or right, or non-political, to allow people to avoid identifying themselves. Anyone interested in serious political discourse, or in merely lowering the hate levels in our country, should welcome the banning of anonymous postings.

It would be interesting to find out how many websites continue to encourage anonymous postings. Presumably, they would pay some financial price by insisting on posters identifying themselves. I don’t know why, and I don’t know how big a price that would be, but it is hard to imagine that it is higher than the price society pays when hate, anger and irrationality become the normal way of citizens expressing themselves. And even from the websites’ own perspectives this policy is probably self-defeating. I doubt I am alone in reading fewer and fewer comments sections because of the low level of so many of the postings. Just as bad money chases away good money, moronic postings chase away intelligent ones. I have come to the point where I even read fewer comments posted about my own columns.

Websites should insist on listing names and cities of those who post comments, just as newspapers and magazines do.

The irresponsible, the angry, the obscene and the dumb have virtually taken over many Internet dialogues. But there is an easy fix, and websites owe it to society to use it. Just ban anonymous postings.

********************

Wise words, indeed.

The Inspiration Behind "Trolls"


Last night, prior to posting “Trolls”, I was catching up on my reading from all the sources I subscribe to. One of my favorite radio hosts is Dennis Prager because he refuses to argue, preferring understanding to agreement.

I happen to think along the same lines.

His post at Townhall.com titled “Internet Anonymity is as Destructive as Internet Porn” was the inspiration for “Trolls”. Since my trackbacks don’t work too well with Townhall.com, I’m pasting his entire article here. It’s thought provoking and should give all true, rational adults something to think about before they post “flaming” comments on others’ blogs. I know I have tightened up my rules and will no longer tolerate “flaming” in my comments sections on my blog. I won’t succumb to the childish nonsense instigators choose to toss out. For more on my rules, go back and read “Trolls”.

A word to the wise, however. Should you choose to “flame” me, either on my blog or a blog I contribute to, I will have no compunction showing comment threads in all their glory and exposing your childishness for the world to see, complete with links. I’m simply not going to tolerate it any longer and perhaps, if you are shown to be the child you choose to act as, often enough, you may start to see the light that people are tired of such behavior and may actually choose to act as a rational, reasonable adult.

Here’s Mr. Prager’s article:

Whenever people lament aspects of the Internet, they are most likely to lament the net’s ubiquity of pornography. Only God knows, for example, how many kids, searching for some government information, typed in “whitehouse.com” only to be greeted by pornographic images (happily, the website changed hands in 2004). It is almost impossible to completely avoid such imagery even with filtering programs.

But there is something at least as awful — and arguably more destructive — that permeates the Internet: the lies, vitriol, obscenities and ad hominem attacks made by anonymous individuals on almost every website that deals with public issues.

Sexual images and prose for the purpose of sexual titillation are not new. But the ability of anyone in society to debase public discourse is new. Until the Internet, in the public’s best known venue for self-expression — letters to the editor published in newspapers and magazines — people either expressed themselves in a civilized manner or they were not published. And overwhelmingly, even those letters that were not published were written in a respectful manner because the letter-writers had to reveal their real names and their addresses (though only names and cities were published).

Being identifiable breeds responsibility; anonymity breeds irresponsibility.

That is why people — even generally decent people — tend to act so much less morally when in a crowd (the crowd renders them anonymous). That is why people tend to act more decently when they walk around with their names printed on a nametag. That is why people act more rudely when in their cars — they cannot be identified as they could outside of their car. There is no question but that most people would write very different entries on the Internet if their names were printed alongside their submission.

E-mail provides another example. It is the very rare individual who sends a hate-filled, obscenity-laced e-mail that includes his name. As the recipient of such e-mails, I know firsthand how rarely people identify themselves when sending hate-filled mail. It is so rare, in fact, that I usually respond to hate mail that includes the writer’s name just to commend him for attaching his name to something so embarrassing.

The Internet practice of giving everyone the ability to express himself anonymously for millions to read has debased public discourse. Cursing, ad hominem attacks and/or the utter absence of logic characterize a large percentage of many websites’ “comments” sections. And because people tend to do what society says it is OK to do, many people, especially younger people, are coming to view such primitive forms of self-expression as acceptable.

Some might argue that anonymity enables people to more freely express their thoughts. But this is not true. Anonymity only enables people to more freely express their feelings. Anonymity values feelings over thought, and immediate expression over thoughtful reflection.

There is not one good reason for any website, left or right, or non-political, to allow people to avoid identifying themselves. Anyone interested in serious political discourse, or in merely lowering the hate levels in our country, should welcome the banning of anonymous postings.

It would be interesting to find out how many websites continue to encourage anonymous postings. Presumably, they would pay some financial price by insisting on posters identifying themselves. I don’t know why, and I don’t know how big a price that would be, but it is hard to imagine that it is higher than the price society pays when hate, anger and irrationality become the normal way of citizens expressing themselves. And even from the websites’ own perspectives this policy is probably self-defeating. I doubt I am alone in reading fewer and fewer comments sections because of the low level of so many of the postings. Just as bad money chases away good money, moronic postings chase away intelligent ones. I have come to the point where I even read fewer comments posted about my own columns.

Websites should insist on listing names and cities of those who post comments, just as newspapers and magazines do.

The irresponsible, the angry, the obscene and the dumb have virtually taken over many Internet dialogues. But there is an easy fix, and websites owe it to society to use it. Just ban anonymous postings.

********************

Wise words, indeed.