Thursday, May 18, 2006

Will On Values Voters

You might say we don't quote George Will a whole lot here. There's no reason for that, he just doesn't rise to the top of the "bloggable" list very often. I guess he doesn't usually address topics that are relevant to our situation here in Montgomery County Public Schools.

This morning he does. From the Washington Post:
An aggressively annoying new phrase in America's political lexicon is "values voters." It is used proudly by social conservatives, and carelessly by the media to denote such conservatives.

This phrase diminishes our understanding of politics. It also is arrogant on the part of social conservatives and insulting to everyone else because it implies that only social conservatives vote to advance their values and everyone else votes to . . . well, it is unclear what they supposedly think they are doing with their ballots. Who Isn't A 'Values Voter'?

He goes on to quote several news stories that use the phrase "values voter" as if groups like the Family Research Council and Jerry Falwell's gang are the only voters with values.

Now, I don't really agree with the way he puts this next comment, I think he's a little glib about "liberals," especially given the nonconservative (though certainly not liberal) policies of the present administration, but I agree with his conclusion. In fact, you can't make this point strongly enough.
Today's liberal agenda includes preservation, even expansion, of the welfare state in its current configuration in order to strengthen an egalitarian ethic of common provision. Liberals favor taxes and other measures to produce a more equal distribution of income. They may value equality indiscriminately, but they vote their values.

Whatever, I don't know about valuing "equality indiscriminately," that seems a little easy to say for all that it represents. Ah, he's a conservative, he's gotta talk that way, it doesn't hurt anything. But the point is made -- one little noisy minority of people has laid claim to the concept of "values." But people on the other side -- our side -- have values, too, we just don't use it as an advertising slogan.

As we have seen, over and over, people who claim to hold these "values" are being indicted for crimes -- this prositution/bribery thing could get pretty ugly, this current "values voter" administration and Congressional majority are the most corrupt band of jackals America has ever seen. it's easy to say you have "values," and very hard to live up to the statement.

Duke Cunningham appealed to the "values voter."

Jesus said, ""When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you."

That's as clearly as this lesson can be stated.

We should be very suspicious of those who wear their faith as an article of clothing, like a uniform. Saying you have values doesn't make it so, and keeping your values private and personal doesn't mean you don't have any.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read Will's column too. Obviously, he's right. Both sides have values. They just differ on how the different values should be balanced.

You might need to think a little about your statement that only religious conservatives advertise their values. Virtually every side appeals to moral arguments. The more appropriate term for what the media is starting to refer to as "values voters" would probably be "traditional values voters". The incorrect term os probably more the fault of imprecision on the media's part than any impropriety on the part of religious conservatives.

Good quote from Jesus although he was talking about pride in one's personal piety rather than raising moral considerations in public debates. Hopefully, morality will always be a consideration in our national conversations.

May 18, 2006 10:12 AM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Dana writes,

Orin, that's the hypocrisy about which I'm speaking. The people who say they use the Bible as their roadmap to life are deluding themselves and lying to the rest of us. I know very few people who do so consistently, and there are always evasions, obfuscations, deletions, additions, and denials.

Which reminds me of one of my favorite quotes of all time,

Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.
by Duke Fran├žois de La Rochefoucauld
(sigh...I know, I know...another one of those DWEM's...sorry, but it best expresses in nine words that which would take me 900 words).

And Theresa writes (asking in vain I suspect),

So to follow your argument to a conclusion, Dana, no-one should talk about the importance of morality because no-one is moral enough to do so ?

Well, to answer that question myself, I would think that might just be the upshot of such a line of reasoning.

Theresa, without being coy, I think I can more directly answer your question. The weltanschauung (that is german for worldview) represented by TTF, as well as JimK, DanaB et al is that everyone ought to be their own "god" deciding for themselves what is good and bad, right and wrong. And why not? Hey, if a Sovereign God is simply a fiction created by the fevered imagination of the Hebrews (and refined a bit more by those Christians), then any rules established by such a God are preferences.

Bottomline? You have your preferences, and I have mine. Or, put in terms that are a tad more pointed: I prefer vaginal sex, and you prefer anal sex...who is to say one is better than the other?

Dana writes,

Some religious folk are highly moral people, and others are not. The ones doing all the screaming in the public square these days are not, and that includes your Mr. Dobson.

Only "some"? Ok, that sounds like a select one.

May 19, 2006 8:33 AM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Dana writes,


I've said this before, and you keep distorting it. There are morals, and ethics, shared by most people in this country.

Huh? Am I coming into a conversation that you have been having with Theresa? You say she keeps distorting what you have said...

They are not "traditional" in the sense that you use them, nor are they Biblical.We have a civil society because until recently we were able to recognize our common humanity and common American moral values.

Of course we have a civil society...and your point here? Oh, I see the qualifier, "until recently"...ok, I'm recently?

I have a problem with the "traditional family values" line as well (and you might have noticed that I have not used it in this forum) for a couple of reasons. First, it is not is too vague a term that too often gets thrown about this way and that. And second, use of the word tradition implies that tradition and custom establish the rightness or wrongness of an act. For example, in certain parts of the world it was once quite common that once you defeated your enemy in battle that you would eat (literally) your vanquished opponent. Now, this was a tradition, but it evades the question of whether or not this was a right or wrong thing to do. The same could be said of slavery...

The problem comes when you restrict your choice of morals to your particular worldview, or weltanschaung as Orin puts it, and when you claim them to be Biblical.

Hence, the Culture Wars...not a war really in the sense that it is a single front war.

I have pointed out on a number of occasions how they are not Biblical, or how your limited acceptance of certain Biblical morals is extremely constricted because you ignore so many others.

Really now...I missed that "memo"...could you send it again? Am I missing something here?

You are self-righteous about being Biblical unless you own up to your selectivity. You're certainly entitled to that, but when you demand in public a certain Biblical morality you should be prepared to be challenged on it.

Wow, that is presumptuous of you to I guess the Rev. John Shellby Spong is also "self-righteous" since he has a reputation of being...well, selective about biblical morality. Correct?

Yes, I try to be "prepared" for challenges...I guess I would say that Jews taking their hebrew Bible seriously has served them well. How many religious ethnic groups can boast of their famed longevity...esp. in light of repeated attacks on them as a group throughout history, with the Holocaust only being one of the latest in a long line of examples?

Orin, I believe I recently used that de la Rochefoucauld quote myself.

Good quote...compact and concise.

And, yes, I do not believe there is a single authority who has dictated morals to humanity, nor if there were that we would be very clear about what they were exactly anyway.

Thank you for your admission of this, though I will warn you that a majority of your fellow citizens do not share this view. They may not know exactly how to answer you, or what to say, but they recognize on a vague, inchoate level, that a single authority on issues of moral and ethical concerns is indeed needed.

You, for one, I believe aren't fluent in Hebrew, for instance, so your interpretation is subject to multiple levels of confusion.

Need I be fluent in Hebrew to understand a story like that of the Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah?

Dana, the arrogance of the above statement is something I don't often see, though it is still a bit stunning to the senses.

I have no problem with acknowledging that I come from a tradition with a particular history and legal code, and that that code has evolved over the past 2500 years and is a part of the American legal and ethical code. I'm proud of it. But it has evolved,

Is it still "evolving"? What is it evolving towards?

Oh, and why are you proud of it? Any particular reason?

and to isolate two sentences from the Bible while ignoring most of the others just because of your personal issues with human sexuality is hypocritical and unfair. And unChristian, according to some Christians that I know.

First off...what two sentences are you making reference to here?

I will readily admit that it is a risky business to use an authoritative book to validate one's own prejudices...will you? I recall a remark made by Rabbi Harold Kushner once in an interview; he said, "The four most religious words in the english language are: I MAY BE WRONG".

What "some" are you referring to? Dobson's buddies, such as Falwell, Robertson, Cameron, Knight, Bauer, Keyes, Scalia . . .?

Dana, please read my question is plain from the context of my comment and question that I was askin YOU to name...oh bother, here is exactly what YOU wrote,

Some religious folk are highly moral people, and others are not. The ones doing all the screaming in the public square these days are not, and that includes your Mr. Dobson.

May 18, 2006 9:35 PM

Ok, stated "some religious folk are highly moral people..." Name one. From all I have seen I think Jim Wallis is a highly moral, religious person. Can you name another on your end of the political spectrum? When I asked this question I was not thinking at all of your list of what I suspect you regard as the American Taliban...

But since you brought them all up I will give you my take on them...

Falwell? Not terribly bright.

Robertson? Good grief...where do I begin? I cringe everytime he opens his mouth...if there is anything that questions the existence of God it is this man's continued prominence (then again, he does help to fuel all those direct mail requests by the ACLU, People for the American Way et al).

Cameron? Isn't he the one that is considered a homo-basher? Not on my reading list...sorry.

Knight? Hummm, can't say I know much about him...though I wonder if this is the same individual that has
been involved in conservative, "traditional" family values business in California.

Bauer? Does not register except perhaps alongside these other names as the Margaret Atwood fantasy of what the United States might evolve into IF good, wholesome, and righteous secular folks don't first step in and protect the Republic.

Keyes? Wow, talk about whack job...this guy is as nutty as they come. Seems to be burdened by a mouth that operates at a much faster pace than his mind. He would never get my vote...ever.

Scalia? Now there is a bright bulb in the bunch! I actually had the opportunity once to hear him speak at a Conservative confab...ok, "lovefest"...when I lived in Southern California. He was upstaged by way too many others wanting to have a part in an event that he was the headliner for and when he was finally able to speak he made it clear that he was not happy with the time he had remaining to deliver his remarks. He made it clear that we would be getting a "truncated" version of his speech...

He can "shoot" from the lip more often than is wise for a sitting member of the High Court...and his opinions often read as an acerbic extension of his own personality. But make no mistake...even those who disagree with him the most agree that he is very bright as a jurist.

Did you know one of his son's is a Priest? This is the blurb from the magazine First Things: Paul Scalia is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, and chaplain for the Arlington chapter of Courage. And here is one of the recent essays he wrote (really showing some of his father's ability to dissect an issue),

May 20, 2006 4:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Dobson's buddies, such as Falwell, Robertson, Cameron, Knight, Bauer, Keyes, Scalia . . .?"

Theresa and Orin seem to be handling this question fairly well but I did want to put in a couple of cents here. I personally think highly of Dobson whose ministry has been a tremendous aid in the child-raising of Americans. To my knowledge, he isn't great buddies with Falwell and Roberston.

I've never had too much trouble Falwell's public persona although he kind of reminds me of the Cockburn song, "The trouble with normal is it only gets worse." I do know someone who once worked closely with his Moral Majority group in the early 80s, who seems to think he's privately very intolerant.

Robertson's doesn't really think much before he talks and doesn't have well thought out theological views. Whether he's actually a nut or not, he sure comes off as one.

Dobson's seems a reasonable and centered guy with a valuable ministry.

Scalia is obviously a visionary, defending the Constitution from TTF-style definition distortion.

Problem is, the good Dr D is guilty to a large degree of what TTF always says the other side is doing: associating everyone who disagrees with them together and then making an attack on the easiest target.

May 20, 2006 1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wyatt always throwing in the red herring.


May 20, 2006 7:07 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Wyatt always throwing in the red herring.


May 20, 2006 7:07 PM

Huh? Oh, that's right...this is "Teach the Facts" so everything you say is factual so you don't have to argue a point of debate or substantiate a thing you, that's amazing (sarcasm mode now off).

Anon (Wyatt?) writes,

Dobson's seems a reasonable and centered guy with a valuable ministry.

He is reasonable...and unlike Falwell and Robertson, he received his terminal degree from the University of Southern California (USC) and has real life experience in the areas he has offered advice. Oh, and his books (like Dare to Discipline) are widely read and utilized).

anyone care to take a nibble?

Off to run errands...oh goody.

May 20, 2006 8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon wrote/Orin supported--Dobson's seems a reasonable and centered guy with a valuable ministry.


Everyone is still laughing your assertion above about Dobson.
He is certainly centered in something. It is called bigotry and hate.


May 20, 2006 10:52 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Tom opined,

anon wrote/Orin supported--Dobson's seems a reasonable and centered guy with a valuable ministry.

Everyone is still laughing your assertion above about Dobson.
He is certainly centered in something. It is called bigotry and hate.

Just like not taking advice from dead rock stars (esp. those that seem to have lacked the instinct for self-preservation), I place no stock in those that hurl a name and think themselves funny enough to incite a group laugh.

Ok...sigh...I'll give another example about how Dobson is progressive. Here is a book he has written,

The New Strong-Willed Child

Dr. James Dobson, America's foremost parenting expert, shares advice on shaping the will of the strong-willed child. Learn the strategies that succeed, those that fail, and the encouragement of knowing how that headstrong child can become a man or woman of great character.

That is to say, Dobson embraces a strong-willed child and gives the parents advice on how they can channel that will in a way that will serve them better in life.

Hate and bigotry are words that are more often than not hurled out with the intent to silence or shut down debate...surely Tom you can do better...yes?


Orin Ryssman
Fort Collins, CO

May 21, 2006 3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


May 21, 2006 4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


May 21, 2006 4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh wake up Orin everyone knows how Dobson feels about homosexuals.

Get your head out the sand as of late Orin.


May 21, 2006 4:30 PM  

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