NRO endorses assassinating Americans

I am not a conservative. I am a Christian libertarian technodemocrat. But if this is what is actually supposed to pass for conservative opinion leadership at a leading conservative publication, it’s no wonder that the Tea Partiers are abandoning both the Republican Party and the conservative media:

The Obama administration is not, by authorizing Awlaki’s assassination, green-lighting his killing under all conceivable circumstances. The administration, I suspect, is just making sure that if he’s found congregating in a sanctuary with other terrorists, we can bomb the sanctuary — we don’t have to forfeit a worthy military operation just because one of the terrorists happens to be an American citizen. But if he’s found under other circumstances, where there is no demonstrable military value in killing him, he will be captured, held, interrogated (one hopes), and tried — either by a civilian or (I would hope) a military court.

This seems like common sense to me. The unfortunate thing is that the assassination authorization should never have been made public. Clearly, the administration leaked it to underscore the president’s willingness to fight al-Qaeda aggressively. All the leak has done, though, is cause unnecessary legal headaches. If the administration had handled this top-secret authorization appropriately, chances are: Awlaki would, at some point, have been either killed or captured; the attendant circumstances would have made it obvious why the option chosen (kill or capture) was chosen; and no one would ever have thought to ask whether Obama had authorized his assassination.

In other words, McCarthy is just fine with passing laws that authorize the government murder of its own citizens because it happens to be politically unviable at the moment. This is deeply, profoundly, and abysmally stupid. It is insane. And there is literally nothing conservative, in the American political sense of the word, about it.

If I were the editor of NRO, I would fire McCarthy on the spot for this defense of legalizing government murder.

His argument is risibly incompetent and not only depends entirely upon the transient nature of temporal politics but also upon what he imagines Obama’s reasoning behind the assassination authorization to be. McCarthy writes: “We are a political society, not a legal one. The executive branch typically has vast legal authority, but its exercise of that authority is hemmed in — thank goodness — by politics.”

Ergo, under his reasoning, once it becomes politically popular to murder certain American citizens en masse, it will be legal to do so. This isn’t merely madness, it is the familiar route to the guillotine, the gulag, and the gas chamber. To make this argument while simultaneously claiming to wear the mantle of Edmund Burke, among others, is a grotesque offense to reason, history, and conservatism itself.

If Awlaki is genuinely a traitor, the correct Constitutional thing to do is to arrest him, put him on trial for treason, and then execute him. The fact that the Obama administration is openly attempting to omit the first two steps with the support of the conservative and mainstream media alike is an indication of how completely lawless both the United States government and its lapdog media have become.

UPDATE: McCarthy isn’t the only NROcon to cheer on Obama’s American citizen assassination policy. David French writes: “We need to stop incentivizing enemy violations of the laws of war, and one way to do that is to find them and capture or kill them no matter their location, no matter their clothing, and no matter their nationality.”

He also attempts to claim that it’s not “assassination” so long as the person assassinated is an enemy. Which, no doubt, would be news to Abraham Lincoln, among others. And William F. Buckley wept.

Mailvox: religious ignorance

Much has been made of the fact that atheists and agnostics scored the highest on the Pew Forum’s recent quiz on the world’s religions. I’ve certainly received a lot of emails about it from atheists and Christians alike. But what hasn’t been pointed out is that they still only answered 65 percent of the questions correctly. This may help explain the dichotomy we often see here between the atheist’s belief that he knows a lot about religion and his demonstrated ignorance of the tenets of a particular religion. The fact that an atheist happens to have heard of Vajrayana Buddhism or Divine Command theory, usually through a second-hand reference, will set him well ahead of the average religious individual. But it doesn’t actually mean that he knows anything about any specific religion or that his knowledge is likely to compare favorably with that of a religious adherent who happens to take his religion seriously.

Furthermore, logic suggests that someone who subscribes to no religion is far more likely to be familiar with the competing tenets of the various religions than any one adherent is to be familiar with the others. This perspective is supported by the fact that both Jews and Mormons outscored atheists and agnostics when the questions related to Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism were left out of the equation and that Mormons and evangelicals scored much better than anyone – 86 percent and 73 percent respectively – on questions related to the Bible.

So, my conclusion is that atheists should try to keep in mind that while they know more about religion in general than most evangelicals do, they don’t know as much about the Bible or Christianity. And Christians should remember that knowing a lot about Christianity is not synonymous with knowing a lot about religion.

So, if you’re interested, take the short version of the quiz yourself and report on how you did. Here is my score, which apparently would have had me in the top .02 percent: “You answered 15 out of 15 questions correctly for a score of 100%.”

Gay rights killed Clementi

The body count of the gay rights movement grows by one.

A college student jumped to his death off a bridge a day after authorities say two classmates surreptitiously recorded him having sex with a man in his dorm room and broadcast it over the Internet. Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge last week, said his family’s attorney, Paul Mainardi. Police recovered a man’s body Wednesday afternoon in the Hudson River just north of the bridge, and authorities were trying to determine if it was Clementi’s.

ABC News and The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that Clementi left on his Facebook page on Sept. 22 a note that read: “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.” On Wednesday, his Facebook page was accessible only to friends. Two Rutgers freshmen have been charged with illegally taping the 18-year-old Clementi having sex and broadcasting the images via an Internet chat program.

Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality, said in a statement Wednesday that his group considers Clementi’s death a hate crime.

It was obvious from the start that the orientationally-challenged activists would attempt to blame Clementi’s death on his roommate. But the surreptitious filming of sexual activity, while an obvious breach of etiquette as well as the law in some states, is neither uncommon nor tantamount to attempting to destroy someone’s life. Nor should the online streaming be considered anything but a joke; American Pie is a comedy, not a horror flick, after all. The problem is not that American university campuses are intolerant of the orientationally challenged, as the subtext of the media coverage suggests, but rather that they are much too tolerant.

It is obvious that Clementi didn’t kill himself simply because his actions were made public; as a musician, no doubt he had been filmed before and some of those films may have even been put online. He killed himself because he could not live with the shame of knowing that everyone would be aware of his submission to what he apparently believed to be evil desires. While giving in to our desire for evil is something that we all do from time to time, it is also true that some desires happen to be more shameful or humiliating than others. For example, a man’s desire for his neighbor’s wife is sinful, but few consider it to be as appalling as his desire for his neighbor’s child.

While Clementi may have been taught that his desires were wrong, (we don’t have any details on his upbringing, but the last name suggests a Catholic heritage), he was also steeped in years of indoctrination telling him that his abnormal desires were perfectly right and should not be resisted. That is why he felt free to act on them as soon as he got to college and out from under his parents’ eyes.

And that is why his suicide poses a problem for the “morality is a human construct” crowd. Despite literal decades of preaching about the morality of homosexuality, despite the pansexual propaganda of the public and private schools, the knowledge that what he was doing was shameful and wrong still managed to penetrate Mr. Clementi’s mind. A normal man being forced to confront his immorality in such a public way might have reacted with anger, irritation, embarrassment, or amusement, but only one who is both psychologically disturbed and appalled by his own actions will destroy himself over it.

As was discussed a few days ago regarding the police, people usually have the psychological causality of the orientationally-challenged exactly backwards. Psychological disturbance and self-destructive activity are seldom the result of the hardships of the job or the intolerance of the normally oriented, they are instead usually the primary cause of the pursuit of the police occupation or the same sex.

So it was not a juvenile prank that killed the unfortunate Mr. Clementi even though it served as the proximate trigger for his lethal actions. If anyone other than Mr. Clementi should be blamed for his suicide, it is those who repeatedly encouraged him to behave in a way that would fill him with such guilt, remorse, and shame.