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What’s the Reason?

Just as the pursuit of perfection can often end in the sacrifice of what is good so too the worship of reason often results in the exaltation of mediocrity and the circumscription of reasonable thought and action.

Daily the Progressives aggressively push forward against positions which have long been the traditional battle lines of the conservative movement.  The front lines in the culture war move ever closer to the transformed America they envision.  First prayer was expelled from School.  Then the sexual revolution wave peaked with the nullification of state abortion laws by the Supreme Court and then crashed into the mainstream with condoms and birth-control distributed to school children.  Divorce became common-place, and out-of-wedlock births account for the majority in several demographics.  Pornography is a constitutional right and as close as a mouse click away in most homes.

Those who want to hold on to the America we were raised in are ridiculed in the press, movies, and by our elected officials as a wild-eyed fringe of traditionalist America-firsters clinging to our guns and Bibles.  This is why it is important to examine the place of reason as opposed to tradition in the operation of society.

To paraphrase the infamous phrase of George Bush the Younger, “I have sacrificed free market principles to save the free market system,” I would say, “At times we must suspend the rule of reason for reason to flourish.” Or follow in the footsteps of David Hume who was said to have turned against the Enlightenment its own weapons to whittle down the claims of reason by the use of rational analysis.

It is the ability to think in symbols and imagine abstract things that sets man apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.  Therefore at the outset let me say this is not an appeal for irrationality or any type of transcendental mysticism.  It is instead meant to be a rational examination of the anti-rationalistic position which is necessary for the preservation of individual freedom, personal liberty, and economic opportunity, and the only conditions under which reason can flourish and evolve.  For the attempt to apply reason and reason alone to the organization of society’s intricately woven interface of conventions stifles creativity, leaves no place for innovation, and is ultimately unreasonable.

When we attempt to apply the laws of science or the mechanical practices of engineering to human activity we run the risk of building a maze so perfect the mouse can never find the cheese.  Or in other words we can seek to make our processes so ideal that there is no room for free thinking, free action, or for the splashes of genius that are the real catalysts of societal evolution.

Those who stand by the idea that reason and reason alone should shape the future must of necessity seek to abandon tradition; for traditions are not built upon reason.  They are built upon trial and error.  That which doesn’t work is discarded, and that which works becomes accepted through use and time.  However it is impossible to completely disregard tradition.  Every day each of us moves through life acting upon hundreds of unconscious rules and procedures that we don’t think about because they were bred into us by those who raised us.  It is the consensus of a common culture and heritage which makes a people one, E Pluribus Unum.

Those who worship reason believe that they can design a perfect society, a utopia, and that all of their dreams of perfection will stand the light of day.  History proves over and over that those who seek to guide the evolution of man through the evolution of society do not create the heaven on earth they advertise.

Look to the French Revolution which cast down Christ and enshrined Reason as their God.  It didn’t produce the liberty, equality, and fraternity it promised; instead it brought forth Terror, dictatorship, war and ruin.  The Russian Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy of the Romanovs and installed an even more absolute dictatorship that promised a worker’s paradise and delivered the gulags, starvation, and collapse.

When those who think they are wise enough to make everyone’s decisions about everything try to manufacture a society that looks like their computer models they must use coercion to force those who do not accept their vision to act as if they did.  Rules, regulations and red tape bind the human spirit and prevent the growth of the un-designed, the unforeseen, and smother the spark of genius.  As counter-intuitive as it may sound a free society will always be in large measure a tradition bound society. For traditions, though they may seem unbreakable at times, are always evolving while rules are cast in concrete.

Patrick Henry told us, “Virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone that renders us invincible. These are the tactics we should study. If we lose these, we are conquered, fallen indeed . . . so long as our manners and principles remain sound, there is no danger.”

John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Our virtue is embodied and defended in our traditions.  Once these walls have fallen how can our virtue stand unprotected assailed on all sides in what is becoming an alien culture?

The ethics of virtue tells us “virtue is determined by the right reason. Virtue requires the right desire and the right reason. To act from the wrong reason is to act viciously. On the other hand, the agent can try to act from the right reason, but fail because he or she has the wrong desire. The virtuous agent acts effortlessly, perceives the right reason, has the harmonious right desire, and has an inner state of virtue that flows smoothly into action. The virtuous agent can act as an exemplar of virtue to others.”

The virtuous person acts in the way they do because it is their nature.  They have imbibed the virtue of their society and they act naturally as an embodiment of the good.  They have absorbed the traditions and they act as they do without thought, without regard or reliance on reason.  They do not question what is right or wrong.  They know what is right or wrong and act accordingly.  They follow tradition.

The worshipers of reason reject the traditions that have grown up organically in society and design their own.  They reject the good and seek the perfect.  The problem is that perfection is impossible in this life.  Perfection does not belong to the realm of man.  The air castles and utopias of the rationalistic social engineers may look good on paper; however they never materialize into anywhere we can live.

Why is it hell the Progressives will deliver instead of the heaven they promise?   This is what has traditionally happened and that’s the reason.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Liberals - Conservatives - How We Perceive Each Other

David Koch Faced 100 Death Threats Last Year

David Koch, the billionaire businessman and philanthropist, says he was the target of 100 credible death threats last year alone because of his opposition to unions in the United States.

The influential conservative, who founded and funds the tea party-friendly group Americans for Prosperity, told The Palm Beach Post that he’s no “bully.”

“They make me sound like a bully,” Koch told the Post, complaining of press coverage. “Do I look like a bully?”

The Post detailed a charity dinner that Koch and his wife, Julia, hosted recently at his Palm Beach home for the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

In 1990s, Koch discovered that he had prostate cancer. The Anderson Center successfully treated and cured him.

Koch said he is remaining active in political battles despite the criticism and threats he has received.

He told the Post that Americans for Prosperity is helping Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who faces a recall election after taking on public employee unions.

“We’re helping him, as we should. We’ve gotten pretty good at this over the years,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We’re going to spend more.”

Americans for Prosperity reportedly is spending about $700,000 on television ads supporting Walker and his reformist union policies.

But the Post notes that Koch and his brother Charles, who share the No. 4 rank in the Forbes billionaire list, have broader charitable interests than just politics. David “holds board seats with 23 nonprofit groups and has pledged gifts totaling more than $750 million for cancer research, the arts and cultural institutions, according to his foundation,” the Post reported.

Read more on Newsmax.com: David Koch Faced 100 Death Threats Last Year
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Libertarian vs NeoConservative at a Tea Party Rally

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chT2yLFON8s&feature=share[/youtube]

Republican Outlook 2012 – Part 4 – Ranking My Favorite Candidates

In my last article (Part 3) I evaluated the two presidential candidates from the 2008 Republican primary, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney, giving Romney the edge on both his business experience and his governorship. Today we will look at the remainder of my favorite candidates, Jon Huntsman, Sarah Palin, and Allen West, ending with a ranking of my favorite five potential candidates.

Jon Huntsman, Jr. Huntsman gave the vice-presidential nominating speech for Sarah Palin, and has all but been endorsed for a presidential run by John McCain. To most of America Huntsman is an unknown. He has been an insider in Washington since the 1980s serving in the Reagan, G.H.W Bush, and G.W. Bush administrations as (respectively) White House Staff Assistant, Deputy Secretary of Commerce then Ambassador to Singapore, and Deputy US Trade Representative. He is currently serves in the Obama Administration as Ambassador to China.

He was Governor of Utah for two terms, winning the second term with almost 78% of the vote. The Cato Institute rated him the top governor on tax policy, and the fifth highest on overall fiscal policy. During his administration Utah was listed as the best run state government by the Pew Center on the States.

His business experience includes an executive with the Huntsman Corporation, an international Chemical Company with annual revenues topping $8 billion and over 10,000 employees; and CEO of Huntsman Family Holdings Company. He has also headed major philanthropic organizations including the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, the Utah Opera, Envision Utah, and The Family Now Campaign.

His stand on fiscal matters, taxation, and business is strongly conservative. He is more mixed on his social positions, being strongly conservative on abortion, and gun rights, but he has liberal positions on climate change, same sex domestic unions, the Department of Education, and the Obama Stimulus. He signed Utah up in the Western Climate Action Initiative, basically a western states cap and trade arrangement. He has shunned the Tea Party conservatives but has broad appeal to old school Republicans.

Sarah Palin The candidate for vice-president on the 2008 McCain ticket has a strong appeal to deeply conservative Republicans, the religious right, Libertarians, and the Tea Party movement. The fact that she shared the ticket with McCain has given her some standing with moderate and old-line Republicans.

Upon becoming Governor of Alaska, Palin embarked on two gutsy missions: To clean out corruption in Alaska politics and to cut spending; she did this with gusto rooting out criminal activity and cronyism not just from the state government, but even within her own party. She pared back government programs, size, and waste starting with getting rid of the perks of the office of the governor.

Besides being governor, Palin served on the town council, then as mayor of Wasilla, and as a member of the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission.

Her time on the commission gave her a good practical insight into natural resource issues. Her political position is solidly conservative on both fiscal and social issues. She has experience in operating family businesses and has worked as a correspondent on Alaskan TV Stations. She has shown a great sense of fiscal responsibility and is business friendly.

Because of her run for vice-president, authoring two books, hosting an excellent documentary series on Alaska, being supportive of and responsive to the Tea Party movement, and being a frequent topic of conversation and controversy on talk shows and news commentary she is now well known. In fact, she might be too well known; she is as disliked by the left as she is liked by the right.

While I really like her positions on all the issues, she doesn’t have the level of leadership that most of the other candidates have, and certainly not the degree of financial education and experience of most of them.

Allen West  The newly elected congressman won his seat on the strength of Tea Party support. Some would point to this, his only elective office, as being not enough political experience. However, one does not work as a battalion commander in a war zone without learning a lot about practical politics. He holds a master’s degree in political science from Kansas State and a master’s degree from the Military Command College in political theory, military history, and military operations. So is probably better versed in political processes and institutions than 90% of congressmen.

He served twenty-two years as a commissioned officer in the military including both Gulf Wars serving in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He earned a bronze star, Meritorious Service Medal (2 oak clusters), Army Commendation Medal (2 oak Cluster, Valor Device), Army Achievement Medal (1 oak cluster), Valorous Unit Award, Air Assault Badge, and Parachutist Bade, as well as ten service medals. After his retirement he worked as a high school history teacher, a college ROTC instructor, and a regional director for a military consultancy to the Afghan army.

West is both a fiscal and social conservative. He sees the last fifty years of liberal social programs and policies as trapping the poor in a culture of welfare and dependency. He has an overriding respect for the U.S. Constitution and is a deeply committed patriot. He has probably the clearest understanding of any person in Congress of the Muslim religion and the threat of both conquest by migration and conquest by aggression that exists from the radical elements of the faith. He has great clarity of thought and a direct and unapologetically sincere mode of speech. He is a motivator and is himself very motivated – he is able to think on his feet, does not need a teleprompter, and is unafraid of debate and discussion.

So the way I rank my favorite five candidates is:
1. Mitt Romney
2. Allen West
3. Sarah Palin
4. Mike Huckabee
5. Jon Huntsman

I could happily support a ticket that has any two of these five on it, but feel the strongest ticket would be Mitt Romney and Allen West, because they nearly perfectly complement each other with their individual strengths. Romney is excellent in economics, business, fiscal responsibility, Administration, and practical day to day politics. West is excellent in international politics, national security, the military, crisis management, and Middle East issues, a critical gap in the current administration.  It is important that the ticket have truely qualified candidates, that they form a strong team, and that they appeal to voters accross the broad spectrum of Republican politics.  To win the must pick up independents, Libertarians, and Democrats.

If this ticket should come about, I could see Palin as Secretary of Interior, Huntsman as Secretary of State, and my preferences for Huckabee include chairman of the FCC (this wouldn’t be possible if he still has ownership in radio and TV stations), or as a white house assistant for reducing government, combining and eliminating cabinet positions and moving functions that belong to the states back to the states, or as transitional Secretary of Education or Energy to transition the department out of existence.

The final segment, part 5, of this series of blogs, will look at those not on my list who are considered or are considering becoming candidates.

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO BASHES CONSERVATIVES AND TEA PARTY - TIME TO NON FUND

By Matthew Boyle – The Daily Caller | Published: 6:30 AM 03/08/2011 | Updated: 12:09 PM 03/08/2011

A man who appears to be a National Public Radio senior executive, Ron Schiller, has been captured on camera savaging conservatives and the Tea Party movement.

“The current Republican Party, particularly the Tea Party, is fanatically involved in people’s personal lives and very fundamental Christian – I wouldn’t even call it Christian. It’s this weird evangelical kind of move,” declared Schiller, the head of NPR’s nonprofit foundation, who last week announced his departure for the Aspen Institute.

In a new video released Tuesday morning by conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe, Schiller and Betsy Liley, NPR’s director of institutional giving, are seen meeting with two men who, unbeknownst to the NPR executives, are posing as members of a Muslim Brotherhood front group. The men, who identified themselves as Ibrahim Kasaam and Amir Malik from the fictitious Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC) Trust, met with Schiller and Liley at Café Milano, a well-known Georgetown restaurant, and explained their desire to give up to $5 million to NPR because, “the Zionist coverage is quite substantial elsewhere.”

On the tapes, Schiller wastes little time before attacking conservatives. The Republican Party, Schiller says, has been “hijacked by this group.” The man posing as Malik finishes the sentence by adding, “the radical, racist, Islamaphobic, Tea Party people.” Schiller agrees and intensifies the criticism, saying that the Tea Party people aren’t “just Islamaphobic, but really xenophobic, I mean basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting. I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”

Schiller goes on to describe liberals as more intelligent and informed than conservatives. “In my personal opinion, liberals today might be more educated, fair and balanced than conservatives,” he said.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuXsQCE3Djs[/youtube]

 

Republican Outlook 2012 - Part 3 - My Candidates

Many good potential Republican candidates for the 2012 presidential election are beginning to attract attention. Some of my favorites are, in alphabetical order:

Mike Huckabee, making his second run for president, has experience as a Minister, Educator, Author of several best selling books, televangelist, television station owner and producer, and was a conservative Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Arkansas, a highly Democratic state, is an ABC Radio Commentator, and hosts a talk news show on Fox News Channel. He has very strong conservative stands on economic and social issues, respects the Constitution, and is deeply patriotic.

Jon Huntsman, Jr. is the son of a billionaire industrialist and philanthropist. He served as CEO of the Huntsman Corporation, a successful businessman and philanthropist, served in three Republican presidential administrations, as Governor of Utah, and is currently the US Ambassador to China. He has very strong conservative stands, respects the Constitution, and is deeply patriotic.

Sarah Palin, candidate for vice president in the last election and a cultural icon, TV reporter, author, business woman, commercial fisherman, served as city council and mayor, Governor of Alaska, and has starred in a documentary TV series on Alaska. She tackled corruption in state government, and even within her own party. Young, brash, quick on her feet, she has gained a strong following as well as many detractors. She is conservative both socially and economically, respects the Constitution, and is deeply patriotic.

Mitt Romney, making his second run for president, is the son of the multi-term Governor of Michigan, has served as a lay minister, is a highly successful business man, and was brought in as chairman of the US Olympics to salvage them from scandal and financial ruin, served as conservative Governor of highly Democrat Massachusetts. He has very strong conservative stands on economic and social issues, respects the Constitution, and is a deeply patriotic American.

Allen West, currently a freshman congressman from Florida, is a Career US Army Officer, who grew up in Atlanta Georgia in a military family. His father served in WW2 and made a career of the military, his mother was a civilian employee of the Marine Corps, and his brother, also career military, served in Viet Nam. He is recipient of valorous and meritorious service decorations including a bronze star. He has taught high school history and college ROTC. He is a social and fiscal conservative, and is passionately patriotic.

There are other good people out there, but these are the ones that I favor. In this post I will begin evaluating candidates and end up with a ranking of most favored to least, starting with the two candidates from the 2008 primary:

Huckabee vs. Romney. On issues, these two are almost identical, so either one of them would be a good choice for conservative voters. While I like Huckabee’s stand on issues, I have doubts about his character. I was very disappointed at his attacks on Romney’s religion during their presidential run.

Huckabee is trying to make an issue of the Massachusetts Healthcare bill. Health care is not a federal responsibility. Whether a state will provide healthcare and how they will choose to do is a state issue, and if the citizens of a state want to create a program, it is their prerogative to do so.

I have been put off by Huckabee’s apparently deceitful use of statistics to attack Romney on healthcare. First he notes that Massachusetts has the highest health care premiums in the country since Romney signed health care into law as Governor; this is not a lie, but it is deceitful, because that state already had the highest premiums of any state before the law was passed. Second he used statistics in to show that state health care costs had increased from 16 percent to 35 percent after the law was passed; again technically not a lie, but the law was passed in 2006 and the 16 percent figure is from 1990 – the cost of national health care rose nearly 300% during that period, yet Massachusetts increase was only 220%, so was considerably less than the national increase during that period. He sources this from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Association, yet that organization says the costs “have been relatively modest and well within initial projections… the health care costs are not a problem” and the program is “a great success.”

Beyond the mudslinging approach that Huckabee has chosen, I give Romney the edge on meaningful leadership experience. While both have been governor, Massachusetts has double the population of Arkansas. Romney won two elections there running on a ticket of fiscal conservatism because the tax burden and state budget were in a state of near disaster. He turned the state around reducing programs, eliminating waste, balancing the budget, and initiating private insurance based healthcare without increasing taxes.

On the matter of electability, consider some more differences between the two states. While both states are majority-Democrat states, Massachusetts Democrats outnumber Republicans 3 to 1 and are among the most liberal of states – For the last dozen or so elections they have gone Democrat; whereas Arkansas has voted Republican in the last three presidential elections. The voters in Arkansas are conservatives, both socially and fiscally. Romney based on his fiscal performance was reelected to a second term in a state that a conservative should not have a chance.  He was elected based on performance.  He has proven he is highly electable. So my rating so far:

1. Romney
2. Huckabee

In my next post, I will compare Huntsman, Palin, and West with Romney and Huckabee.

Republican Outlook 2012 – Part 2 – Resisting Infighting in the Conservative Family

Politics and religion are important and dangerous topics, and they often have an impact on each other. It grates on me to hear a candidate disparaged for his religious beliefs. There is not much that is more un-American than to do so. Religious intolerance within the Christian community threatens the power of Conservatism.

Polls show that 82% of Americans identify themselves “Christian.” This large percentage of believers belong to or attend literally “thousands” (according to adherents.com) of different denominations from the largest, Catholic, to the smallest single-congregation denomination. An outsider might ask, why so many different kinds of Christians? The answer is simple, beginning with the protestant reformation to the current day, believers have compared their church to the writings in the Bible; and often when doing this they discover some discrepancy, so they split off and start a new church that they feel is modeled more on that of the Biblical description of the church Christ organized during his mortal ministry.

Some of these splits have come about due to disagreement over such things as the mode of baptism, the necessity of baptism, the version of the Bible that is used, the way tithes and offerings are collected or administered, predestination vs. free will, the use of products such as alcohol, makeup, or meat, the use of musical instruments, female preachers, and many more such items.

Even with these divisions, the basic doctrine of Christianity remains in these churches. I studied religion in college, and I read a great deal on contemporary religion. I have not found any denomination that does not have certain basic beliefs as part of their doctrine:

  • Jesus of Nazareth was the only begotten Son of God; He lived without sin, gave Himself to pay for the sins of all humans, and is the Savior of the World, the only way back to God
  • The First and Greatest Commandment – Love God with your might, mind, and strength
  • The Second Greatest Commandment -Love your neighbor as yourself
  • The Ten Commandments

These are certainly not the only commonality between Christian denominations, but it is sufficient to illustrate that a Christian who proclaims belief in Christ is a Christian. If I believe that baptism by emersion in a requirement, and you do not, that difference does not give me the right to say you aren’t really a Christian. Whatever else you believe, because you believe in those four items above, nobody can rightly say you are not a Christian.

Religious tolerance means that you give each person the right to worship and serve God in the way they believe is right, whether it matches your belief or not. There is a limit on this tolerance in that the United States Constitution and the body of law resulting from it, including those from state and civil governments, is the only law allowed to deal with mandatory fines, seizure of property, incarceration, physical punishment, or execution for wrong doing. Other than that each church has the right to allow in or remove from membership whomever they wish and to conduct their worship and church business how they choose. And each member has the same right to participate or not.

Each Christian attends the church of their choosing because they believe it is the best church for them, or because they enjoy the fellowship, convenience, or programs. It is not fair to others to say they are not Christian because they don’t see religion in exactly the say way we do. Jesus told His apostles, “For he that is not against us is on our part.” All these churches believe the four things listed above, they are on our part.

As long as they honor the Constitution and obey the laws of the land, a candidate should not be criticized for being a “born again”, Catholic, Episcopal, Mormon, or an unaligned Christian. With the same Constitutional stipulation mentioned in the previous sentence, the same is true for non-Christian religious bodies as well. It speaks well to a person’s character that they respect t and honor their religious beliefs and are kind to others in theirs.

We need to honestly throw away religious bias and select candidates on the strength of their record, education, public service, their stand on issues, and their personal character. In the next of this series, I will exam the three candidates most know for their religious beliefs: Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Jon Huntsman.

Republican Outlook 2012 - Part 1 - Where Are We?

A recent nationwide Rasmussen Poll of likely voters in the 2012 Congressional election.  It shows voters favoring Republican/conservative candidates and causes by a narrow margin.

The night before the November election the voters said by a 51% margin they would vote for Republicans.  The new poll indicates that 45% would vote for the Republican candidate and 38% for the Democrat candidate, a 6% drop for Republicans and as much as a 10% for Democrats.  This does not indicate the political registration of those in the polling pool which is made up of registered voters who voted in the last election from both major parties, independents, and the minor parties.  17% either said they did not know how they might vote, that they wouldn’t vote, or that they would vote for a candidate who does not belong to either party.  Whichever of the major parties can win over the largest number of this 17% is likely to win the election.

When asked if they were an economic conservative 47% said they are.  Asked if they are social conservatives the number dropped to 42%.  So 53% and 58% respectively did not answer, or consider themselves centrist or liberal. 

Good news is that 68% said they believe big business and government working together is to the detriment of consumers and investors.  This seems to repudiate President Obama’s push for more involvement of government in business.

The percentage of those who feel the Obama healthcare act should be repealed completely is still holding at 51%.

In a different Newsmax online poll of potential presidential candidates, President Obama is holding a fairly solid base of those who voted for him in the last election; only about 4% of that group said they would not vote for him in 2012.

Some interesting statistics from Arizona Voter Registration in January show that independent voters in our state now outnumber Democrats; independent voter registration increased since the November election by over 28,000 to 1,010,725.  Democrats also increased their registration by 5,752 to 1,008,689.  Republicans retained their lead and have increased since November by 10,803 to 1,142,605.  In addition the Libertarians have a registration of 24,880 and the Greens have a registration of 5,040.

So by percent of total voters: Republicans 35.8%,  Independents 31.7%, Democrats 31.5%, Libertarians 0.8%, and Greens 0.2%.  There is such a slim margin between the top three registrants that in state-wide elections neither group can win without substantial support from independents.

So taking all this information into consideration things are generally looking pretty good for the Republicans and for conservatives in general, but they certainly don’t have any kind of a sure thing in the 2012 elections. 

The strengths the conservatives should emphasize are getting government out of the way of business and improving the economy.  In the border states, except for California, border security and illegal immigration are still hot buttons with about 70% siding with the Republicans.   If the Republican party can do a good job of promoting their position on these they should do well nationwide, and even better in the west.

Will Conservatives Self-Destruct Because of Religion?

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