Wednesday, February 29, 2012

reformed theology baby!

"What is your only comfort in life and death?"

The answer is: "That I am not my own, but belong--body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me whole-heartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him."

The opening question and answer is from the Heidelberg Catechism.You can read the catechism here.

If you're new to reformed theology, you can click here to read and see what it's all about. Personally, I think the video below (part 1 of a totally free series called, "what is reformed theology")  will give you a solid overview of reformed theology, but the other link is a good place to go as well.

Reformed links 
Entire Heidelberg Catechism 

What is reformed theology video series (free to watch online)

Counted righteous in Christ 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Quote of the week - J.P. Moreland on utilitarianism

"...utilitarianism can be used to justify actions that are clearly immoral. Consider the case of a severely deformed fetus. The child is certain to live a brief, albeit painless life. He or she will make no contribution to society. Society, however, will bear great expense. Doctors and other caregivers will invest time, emotion, and effort in adding mere hours to the baby's life. The parents will know and love the child only long enough to be heartbroken at the inevitable loss. An abortion negates all those "utility" losses. There is no positive utility lost. Many of the same costs are involved in the care of the terminally ill elderly. They too may suffer no pain, but they may offer no benefit to society. In balancing positives and negatives, and excluding from the equation the objective sacredness of all human life, we arrive at morally repugnant decisions. Here deontological and virtue ethics steer us clear of what is easier to what is right." 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Quote of the week - James Rachels on human dignity

"The doctrine of human dignity says that humans merit a level of moral concern wholly different from that accorded to mere animals; for this to be true, there would have to be some big, morally significant difference between them. Therefore, any adequate defense of human dignity would require some conception of human beings as radically different from other animals. But that is precisely what evolutionary theory calls into question. It makes us suspicious of any doctrine that sees large gaps of any sort between humans and all other creatures. This being so, a Darwinian may conclude that a successful defense of human dignity is most unlikely"

-James Rachels, Created from Animals (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 171-72. Cf. pp. 93, 97, 171

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kant and hell part two

In my post Immanuel Kant on the concept of hell I wrote about how one could use Kant's moral argument to argue for hell in the afterlife, though I didn't fully develop the thought, I only briefly wrote about it. After thinking about it some more and talking about it with some friends I think I can develop the idea further in this post, though I may finish up in a part three post. Ready? Let's go! 

Hell traditionally (at least from what I know) has been though of as eternal punishment for one's sins here on earth, whether it's eternal fire, torture, or separation from God, still it's an eternal existence of punishment. In opposition to that (or maybe it's the accurate view - there is debate about it) there is also the view that hell is not eternal punishment, but instead it's annihilation, or put another way it's non-existence. Which would make more sense philosophically? Well, let's look at Kant's moral argument again: 

From his Critique of Practical Reason:
1. Happiness is what all human beings desire. 
2. Morality is the duty of all human beings. 
3. The unity of happiness and duty is the greatest good.
4. The greatest good ought to be sought.  
5. But the unity of desire and duty (which is the greatest good) is not possible by finite human beings in limited time.
6. And the moral necessity of doing something implies the possibility of doing it (ought implies can).
7. Therefore, it is morally (practically) necessary to postulate: (a) a Deity to make this unity possible (i.e., a power to bring them together), and (b) immortality to make this unity achievable.

According to Kant, human beings will exist after our death here in the phenomenal world and exist eternally in the noumenal world. Now Kant doesn't make clear what the noumenal world is, but instead argues for the practical necessity of God to make the unity possible and immortality to make the unity achievable. So those persons who sought the greatest good will have the privilege of enjoying the greatest good after death. What about those persons who didn't seek after the greatest good? There are immoral human beings in this world who are inexplicably malevolent; what happens to them? What kind of hell would be such persons' punishment? Annihilation or eternal punishment?
Kant's argument is vague (at least to me) on what happens to the persons who do not seek the greatest good. I would think since human beings are contingent upon the Deity who created them, then wouldn't they exist after their material death? If that is true, then an eternal punishment would be due to such persons. Of course, if the cosmic judge is all-powerful as he needs to be, does it not follow that he could cause someone or something to not exist? Therefore, hell would be non-existence if my logic is followed correctly. It's difficult to think of not existing, but it doesn't make it impossible.
Some might argue that the punishment should fit the crime. If that is true, then an infinite time of punishment would not be what is due to a person who committed immoral actions in a finite amount of time would it? Maybe an infinite amount of punishment can be reached? Is such a thing possible? Philosopher Greg Koukl answers the question.
"Lewis says this, "Since the time is infinite, the amount of punishment is infinite." This is the key error. Time in the afterlife is not an infinite for any of us. It is merely everlasting and there is a difference. The future goes on and on without end, but like our expanding balloon, it never will become infinitely long. So forever and ever means that it never comes to an end, but a thing that continues to get older and older still has an age. It never gets infinitely old. Even though one lives forever and ever, one never lives for an actual eternity, which is an infinite amount of time, because no matter how old you get, you always have an age. 
The confusion is understandable because time, like numbers, is potentially infinite, but the actual expansion into this limitless arena of possibility has an edge to it. It has a size. There are no limits to the possible size of numbers, but any particular number has a quantity. My point was, in Hell some people suffer more than others. The duration of this difference is everlasting, but it never attains to an infinite. 

Suppose you and I count together. I count every number and you count every tenth number. For the entire time that we count, your number will always be ten times larger than mine even though we count forever and ever. Though the numbers may be potentially infinite, you and I are always working with finite numbers, not infinite ones. Our amounts are never equal because, no matter how much time we have, neither of us can count to infinity. Every time we add one, we are still dealing with a finite number. We will never be able to get an actual infinite by adding one number after another. 

The duration of our future is much like counting, with the numbers representing successive moments of our existence. There may be no limits to the possible age of a being who lives forever, like you and me, but any particular created being always has an age. It gets larger and larger with every moment, but it still has an age. If it has an age, then the duration of its existence is finite and not infinite. Every created being had a beginning so it can never live for an actual eternity. It is temporal, not eternal. 

The simple truth is, even though punishment in Hell is forever and ever, it can never become eternal because no matter how far one lives into the future, he always has a quantifiable age. No one will ever endure an infinity of suffering because no one lives that long. Even though they live forever and ever and ever and never die, no one suffers in Hell for an infinite amount of time, and no one enjoys Heaven for an infinite amount of time."

Understanding an infinite existence in that sense changes the outlook on hell and punishment. The Judge or Deity (whatever you want to call him) can sentence a person to an infinite punishment, while retaining the model: "the punishment fits the crime."

If we use Kant's model, I think we can say that persons who sought after the greatest good will be united after death with the greatest good and enjoy it forever while those who did not seek after the greatest good will be punished based on the severity of their immorality forever and not being able to be united with the greatest good.

Are there holes in this philosophy? Perhaps. I think it could be defended better and maybe I will return to it someday, but I think we can say that hell is a punishment without end for those who didn't seek the greatest good.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Quote of the week - Greg Koukl on the problem of evil

"God certainly is strong enough to obliterate evil from the earth or to have prevented it in the first place. No question about that. But let me ask you a question. Is it a good thing that God created human beings as free moral creatures, capable of making moral choices? It strikes me that the answer to that is yes. Because God is good--which is one of the things in question here--God created free moral creatures. 

But this changes everything, doesn't it? What makes you think that strength has anything to do with God creating a world in which there are genuinely free moral creatures and no possibility of doing wrong? 

You see, now we're back to square circles. It's just as ridiculous to ask God to create a world in which we have genuinely free creatures with no possibility to do wrong, as it is to ask Him to create a square circle. The task has nothing to do with His strength. It has to do with the nature of the problem. If you're going to have morally free creatures--that is, human beings that can make moral choices for themselves--and if God is good, then He is going to create creatures that will be truly morally free. But that entails, of necessity, at least the possibility of evil in the world."

Greg Koukl - The strength of God and the problem of evil

Saturday, February 11, 2012

presuppositional naturalism and materialism

The presuppositions of naturalism and materialism.

"The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity. Even if the evidence did not favor it, it would still be the best theory available." Richard Dawkins, The Blind watchmaker (New York: W. W. Norton, 1996), 240, 317

"Life arose here on earth from inaminate matter, by some kind of evolutionary process. This is not a statement of demonstrable fact, but an assumption. Is is not supported by any direct evidence, nor is it likely to be, but it is consistent with what evidence we do have." Franklin Harold, The way of the cell: molecules, organisms, and the order of life (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 254

"Our starting assumption as scientists ought to be that on some level consciousness has to be an illusion." John Brockman, ed., Intelligent Thought: Science versus the Intelligent Design Movement (New York: Vintage, 2006), 58

"It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori commitment to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intutive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, the materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door." Richard Lewontin, "Billions and Billions of Demons," New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Immanuel Kant on the concept of hell

Did you know Immanuel Kant philosophized on hell? Well, if you want to be factual then it's correct to say he didn't philosophize on hell, but I think you can use his moral philosophy for a philosophical defense of hell. I haven't studied that much, outside of theology that is, on the concept of hell and was wondering if one could develop a philosophy for the need of a place called hell and I actually think Kant's moral argument fits nicely in what one could call a defense for hell. Not familiar with Kant's moral argument? Simplified version: What would have to be true for ethics to be meaningful? There would have to be a god of some kind, one who is just and powerful enough to make the wicked pay for their crimes, perfect in his understanding of the evidence, and he must be righteous and incorruptible. Omnipotent, omniscient, righteous, and holy (sounds like the God of Christian theism, but I won't go there).

From his Critique of Practical Reason:
1. Happiness is what all human beings desire. 
2. Morality is the duty of all human beings. 
3. The unity of happiness and duty is the greatest good.
4. The greatest good ought to be sought.  
5. But the unity of desire and duty (which is the greatest good) is not possible by finite human beings in limited time.
6. And the moral necessity of doing something implies the possibility of doing it (ought implies can).
7. Therefore, it is morally (practically) necessary to postulate: (a) a Deity to make this unity possible (i.e., a power to bring them together), and (b) immortality to make this unity achievable.

Kant points out in his book that we not only exist phenomenally, but also noumenally so morality demands an afterlife and a meeting with the omniscient, omnipotent, holy, and eternal Judge of everything. 

How can this philosophy apply to hell? Whether it's annihilation or eternal torment, I think both can apply to Kant's moral philosophy. Our actions in this world (phenomenal) affect our future in the afterlife (noumenal) which said actions will be judged by the one who alone can judge correctly. As Kant said in his moral works, morality only makes sense if there is an afterlife. Why? Because fallible, finite human beings cannot achieve the unity of desire and duty in a limited amount of time. That unification takes an eternity to achieve. 

Wouldn't this philosophy imply universalism and not a hell? Not necessarily. Those who lived a life in pursuit of the greatest good then would be rewarded with immortality in a unified bliss of desire and duty, achieving the "holy will" or "perfection", while those who did not live their life in pursuit of the greatest good would be judged and sentenced to hell (whether hell is annihilation or eternal punishment). What about those persons who lived a mixed life? Well, understand the Judge is omniscient (all-knowing) and will judge correctly. 

I didn't aim for the bullseye in this post, understand I'm still working this out and blogging my thoughts helps out. 

The problems of a liberal education

DISCLAIMER: The following viewpoints are not those of the blogger, but a friend of his. If this point of view upsets you, you may vent, but don’t yell at the person who posted them. Start a discussion, express and opinion, but don’t yell at the person who didn’t write it, that is just senseless… These writings are the intellectual property of me, the Author, with permission granted to the blogger who is positing them. They may not be reposted or used in any form without express written consent by either myself or the blogger of Reformed Seth.

The Problems with a Liberal Education

What can be said about the Owning Wall Street Movement that hasn't already been said? Pundits come on saying we should support them, as they are 'exercising their free speech' and yet what they are doing doesn't really involve speech, but the illegal act of taking over property that isn't theirs for them to destroy, and make uninhabitable. Do they have a case? Is their cause just? Is the destruction of private, or public, property within their rights? NO!

Here is a group of disenfranchised people who feel it is their God given right, by their god, Obama and the socialist movement with an assist from liberal education, that they can do what they want, when they want, how they want, and not have to pay a price for their actions. Kind of like being a member of a union, where you can do what you want, and with enough time in the union, NOT be held responsible for you actions.

The older people who joined the movement should have known better, but they are the right age to be hippies who miss the 60's - the protest of Vietnam, and Nixon, wanting to relive their glory days - but the younger kids are a product of a school system that has spread across the country who are told that you are precious, that your misinformed thoughts have a right to be heard in whatever forum that you chose. Screw the legal owners, if you want it, TAKE IT! This stems from participation trophies, and how we need to nurture a child through all forms of life, letting them know that they didn't lose because they showed up. Sorry, when was that ever, EVER a good idea? There is a winner in every contest. The person in second place is the first loser. It is a fact of life that is continually glossed over in schools across the country AND IT IS WRONG!

Then the unions got involved with the protests. The cost of our eggs and milk going up is because they have to be rung up by union checkers, taken to your car, sometimes, by union box boys, with a union janitor cleaning up the mess; they have a lot to be upset with, because they think the Occupy Movement is their future bread and butter. Unions joining the protest, when it is unions that drive up the cost of an item, and they make enough money due to strong arm tactics, that they are in the upper 99%, and some of them, in the 1% that they claim to disdain. So, the hypocrisy of a liberal education tied in with hypocritical unions, you now have two of the worst, misinformed groups of people around, wanting everything in the world for free, and no one gets their feelings hurt.

Well, it is time to grow the hell up. People win, people lose. If there is one job opening, and two people apply, SOMEONE IS GOING TO LOSE, but yet some think it is okay to keep blowing sunshine up the skirt of the person who lost the job. WHEN DID COMMON SENSE DIE IN AMERICA?

It is bad enough that we turned a wonderful profession of teaching into baby sitters, but when did it come to the point that they had to be a parent? When did the parents abdicate the right to intercede in the child's education and say, NO, show them real life, someone wins, someone loses, and the Occupy movement is wrong. How proud are the parents of the kids who stood there and were interviewed about how they felt they shouldn't have to pay their college loans back, because they decided to major in something that has no real world applications? Want to major in Art History? Cool, make sure you can pay back those 35,000 dollar loans by working two jobs. Don't stand there saying you are special and rules don't apply to you. That is when you get unions supporting teachers who are molesting students, sleeping with students, because after all, aren't we all special in a special way? Which of course means that we are all the same, and we MUST take responsibility for our actions in life. To not do so means common sense died and the liberal educators and union organizers have won, and we will soon be like bankrupt Europe, both morally and financially.

Or at least, that is how Mark C's it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mark on homosexual marriage

DISCLAIMER: The following viewpoints, or opinions are not those of the blogger, but a friend of his. If this point of view upsets you, you may vent, but don’t yell at the person who posted them. Start a discussion, express and opinion, but don’t yell at the person who didn’t write it, that is just senseless… These writings are the intellectual property of me, the Author, with permission granted to the blogger who is positing them. They may not be reposted or used in any form without express written consent by either myself or the blogger of Reformed Seth.

Homosexual Marriage

As people who have read the articles that I have written for this blog will remember, I am a Christian, by choice, as all of us are born of sin, due to the original sin of disobedience to God. (Genesis, first few chapters)
Now I am sure that people are expecting me to slam Homosexual Marriage. Well, you will be disappointed, but only to a degree.

I think the Homosexual lobby has done a great job in trying to get people to just accept them and their behavior as just something that happens, but is it really? Why does the Homosexual lobby want people to refer to them as Gay? Why should they be ashamed of who they are? They say they are born this way, then why change it from whom they are, Homosexuals, to a less standard term, Gay? 

There is a reason I keep using the term Homosexual, as that is what they are. Gay? Not for the most part. When have you seen a group of Homosexuals happy? Were they happy beating a woman in Palm Springs because she was in favor of Prop 8? Other than the 'Pride Parades' you really don't see them happy, and they LOVE playing the victim, that they are still being mistreated, and people are still threatened by them. Yet, when someone stands up, they are 'gay bashing'. Imagine the kid in California who has been found guilty of killing a Homosexual classmate. Had someone, ANYONE, stepped in and stopped him from being harassed by the Homosexual classmate, both lives could still be intact. 

All the word ‘homosexual’ does is refer to someone who is attracted to someone of the same sex, and it covers both men and women, and much easier than saying ‘lesbian’ and ‘gay’; like a woman loving another woman is different than a man loving another man. (It isn't)

For those who are old enough and remember, it was a slippery slope when states started allowing civil unions. And I could understand why they did. It was wrong for people to be in a committed relationship to not have rights to be with their partner when they were dying, be it of cancer or of A.I.D.S. That is why people started using living wills and directives as to who has the right to make their life ending decisions, whom has the right to do what they want with their communal property.

So, some bureaucrat decided to allow them to get married, which you know would make some Homosexuals mad as hell, as they wouldn't be able to just go in and out of relationships using the lie, "Well I would stay with you forever, if we could only get married". But married made some people mad, so it was Civil Unions, which is fine. You can call it anything you want, they would still be married. But that wasn't good enough for them as a whole. It had to be mainstream; it had to be a redefinition of MARRIAGE, the holy grail of the Bible, of Christianity, Catholic's, and a bunch of other groups. And there in is the rub: people believe that marriage, the biblical kind, has to be under the rules of the bible which is one man and one woman.

So, is it wrong for Homosexuals to want to redefine what marriage is? Yes, but it is also wrong for Homosexuals to want more when they were given what they had asked for: civil unions. As a group, if they want to enact change then do it slowly. People will accept a slow change, but to scream, attack, beat and act like idiots? Doing so, they create more damage to themselves and their cause then they can ever comeback from.

Or at least, that is how Mark C's it.

Check out more of Mark's posts here

More reading on homosexual marriage

Secular case against gay adoption (I cite this article only because of the good discussion in the comment thread - the reader can see both sides played out in discussion which is nice)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Interview with Mark on republican primary and presidential election

Who do you think will win the Republican nomination? Why?

Romney will win the nomination, plain and simple. As was pointed on MSNBC (Or as one commentator called it, MSNLSD) Newt is only in this for Newt. They were talking about how Newt's campaign is in the hole financially, but yet he continues to get paid. His personal organizations, hosting web chats, entertainment and such, they have been paid, but yet his campaign is still almost 700,000 in the red. Newt has yet to show anyone that he has the country's best interest at heart and is doing this to change the direction of the country, from demagoguery to a democracy. And if you look at Newt's past, as pointed out by Ann Coulter 1, he personally is more like the current President than anyone else on the Republican side. So, mainly it is Romney's nomination due to people not wanting Newt, not because he is the best person for the job, just the best one who is sticking it out to the end.

What are your predictions on the 2012 elections?

This election will be ugly, across the board. Romney will take a lead in the polls, and suddenly the liberal left and their cronies will start off with, LOOK AT THEM, BEATING UP ON THE POOR BLACK MAN (which is just a load of crap). Barack Obama hasn't been poor in a long long long long long long time. And you know they will pull the race card whenever they get the chance, as that is all they have to run with, just like in the first election, all they had to run with was he was an unfortunate outsider. The only political record he has shown is his inability to make a decision, to vote for something that matters, and that he has an ego bigger the bin Laden's. The left loves pulling out the underdog card whenever, or however they can, playing to white guilt, where there really shouldn't have any. So, it will come down to who makes the most mistakes, and with Romney being Mormon, it will be ugly when they pull out the black card, as Mormon theology stated long ago that Blacks carry the original sin. That Cain killing Able was the first sin, not disobedience to God in eating from the forbidden Tree. So in Mormon theology, God turned Cain black for killing his brother, so others wouldn't kill him and he would live his life in shame. It was in 1978 that the NAACP was suing the Mormon Church over racial discrimination, because they wouldn't allow blacks to be ministers. JUST before the case was to go to court, they got a revelation from Joseph Smith that it was okay for blacks to hold ministerial positions within the church, and the case went away. Pulling the curtain back on the Mormon church and their beliefs, like Dave Hunt's book The God Makers will show that Mitt might be a little challenged in his thinking, and then it will come back to religion instead of the issues, because on the issues, Obama SUCKS!

Do you think the Republican candidate can win against Obama? If so, what should his strategy be?

Huntsman was the perfect candidate to go against Obama due to the fact that he was Obama's choice to be ambassador to China. So, he was liberal approved, and that would have taken out half the wind in the liberals sails. But yes, Romney can beat Obama, but he will have to keep dragging the campaign to the facts, to the issues and not personality. Romney will have to keep dragging the Obamacare vs. Romneycare debate about how he learned from the mistakes made in Massachusetts and can make better choices then Obama has made when it comes to fixing health care. He will have to show, continually that Obama is an egotistical lying ass, who says he wanted transparency, until it came time to be transparent, they will have to show the Chicago connections to Blagoavich, and how Obama says he only met him once, but there are tons of pictures showing they had an obvious connection, show the connection continues with Rahm and how dirty Chicago politics are and how they should be avoided. How Rahm lived in D.C. for two years, but Chicago judges says that he actually lived in Chicago, when he didn't, so he could become Mayor of Chicago. That right there shows the polluted logic of most Chicago politicians, and how corrupt the thought process is in Chicago, and a good part of Illinois. The only choice and chance exists on dragging the argument back to the issues, the false numbers, the facts...

Off topic: Do you think 2012 is the "doomsday" year?

If Obama gets re-elected, yes. America won't be able to continue its place of dominance in the world, we will become a colony of England, again, or maybe China, who is taking over the place we use to have. We need people who are intelligent, not book smart, but common sense smart, and that isn't Barack. It might not be Mitt, but it has to be someone who isn't Barack Hussein Obama. As for the Mayan Calendar prediction that the world will end on December 12th, 2012, I think they might have been a little preoccupied with being conquered by Spain to keep up with the calendar

Quote of the week - John Locke on reading

"This is that which I think great readers are apt to be mistaken in; those who have read of everything, are thought to understand everything too; but it is not always so. Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours. We are of the ruminating kind, and it is not enough to cram ourselves with a great load of collections ; unless we chew them over again, they will not give us strength and nourishment." 

- John Locke, as quoted in "Hand Book : Caution and Counsels" in The Common School Journal Vol. 5, No. 24 (15 December 1843) by Horace Mann, p. 371

Friday, February 3, 2012

Romney or Gingrich?

Usually Mark handles the political posts on this blog, so I don't blog often on politics, but today is different. In this post, I want to ask the question: Romney or Gingrich? I will not throw my opinion in on who would be the better candidate, I'll remain silent on that part to let you the reader decide.

Gingrich's baggage 

One of the main things I've heard personally and around the blogosphere about Gingrich is his baggage. What is the baggae? Put simply: mistakes made in his personal life. There are quite a few people who think his mistakes will hold him back from winning the Presidential election, thus he he is not electable in their eyes.

Thomas Sowell wrote:

This is not just another election, and Barack Obama is not just another president whose policies we may not like. With all of President Obama’s broken promises, glib demagoguery, and cynical political moves, one promise he has kept all too well. That was his boast on the eve of the 2008 election: “We are going to change the United States of America.”

Many Americans are already saying that they can hardly recognize the country they grew up in. We have already started down the path that has led Western European nations to the brink of financial disaster.
Internationally, it is worse. A president who has pulled the rug out from under our allies, whether in Eastern Europe or the Middle East, tried to cozy up to our enemies, and bowed low from the waist to foreign leaders certainly has not represented either the values or the interests of America. If he continues to do nothing that is likely to stop terrorist-sponsoring Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the consequences may be beyond our worst imagining.

Against this background, how much does Newt Gingrich’s personal life matter, whether we accept his claim that he has now matured or his critics’ claim that he has not? Nor should we sell the public short by saying that they are going to vote on the basis of tabloid stuff or media talking points, when the fate of this nation hangs in the balance.

Even back in the 19th century, when the scandal came out that Grover Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock — and he publicly admitted it — the voters nevertheless sent him to the White House, where he became one of the better presidents.

Do we wish we had another Ronald Reagan? We could certainly use one. But we have to play the hand we were dealt. And the Reagan card is not in the deck.

Leaving Gingrich's personal mistakes aside, what was his time as Speaker of the House like? When Gingrich was speaker was the last time we cut government, balanced the budget, and reformed entitlements; the mainstream media called it the "Clinton surplus" but Sowell got it right: "...all spending bills start in the House of Representatives, and Gingrich was speaker of the House." Consider what happened after he left: the spending got out of control, we got Sarbanes-Oxley, and they all took a blind eye to the housing issues. Does the "baggage" truly outweigh the accomplishments?

What about Romney?

Sowell wrote:

Romney is a smooth talker, but what did he actually accomplish as governor of Massachusetts, compared with what Gingrich accomplished as speaker of the House? When you don’t accomplish much, you don’t ruffle many feathers. But is that what we want? Can you name one important positive thing that Romney accomplished as governor of Massachusetts? Can anyone? Does a candidate who represents the bland leading the bland increase the chances of victory in November 2012? A lot of candidates like that have lost, from Thomas E. Dewey to John McCain.

Sowell didn't have many positive things to say about Romney. Is there anything positive to say about Romney? Many on the right think he is a liberal disguised as a conservative, that if he is a conservative then he's not conservative enough, or he is at best a moderate; tea partiers don't want a man that fits any of those descriptions, they want a true conservative. Can you blame them? The best the Right has been able to dish out are McCaines and Bushes, neither have been anything to be proud of from a conservative's point of view. Back to the point: what good can be found if Romney becomes President? Jonah Goldberg found the silver lining. 

Let me try to offer some solace. Even if Romney is a Potemkin conservative (a claim I think has merit but is also exaggerated), there is an instrumental case to be made for him: It is better to have a president who owes you than to have one who claims to own you. A President Romney would be on a very short leash. A President Gingrich would probably chew through his leash in the first ten minutes of his presidency and wander off into trouble. If elected, Romney must follow through for conservatives and honor his vows to repeal Obamacare, implement Representative Paul Ryan’s agenda, and stay true to his pro-life commitments.

Moreover, Romney is not a man of vision. He is a man of duty and purpose. He was told to “fix” health care in ways Massachusetts would like. He was told to fix the 2002 Olympics. He was told to create Bain Capital. He did it all. The man does his assignments.

In this light, voting for Romney isn’t a betrayal, it’s a transaction. No, that’s not very exciting or reassuring for those who’d sooner see monkeys fly out their nethers than compromise again. But such a bargain may just be necessary before judgment day comes.

What do you think?