Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The "Milk Before Meat" Candidate: Why Romney Doesn’t Deserve Your Vote

by Nomad

Mitt Romney Liar Puppet

The Truth about Lying
Most us as children were taught that lying was wrong. There was never any need to inquire too deeply. It just was. Why? Because I said so. End of discussion.

Later, things started getting complicated. Some lies were more acceptable than others- white lies, for example, though, in fact, all of them were still wrong. Technically.

Around the time of high school, that great petri dish for social behavior- most of us simply stopped asking this basic question and accepted lying a part of the human condition. Get over it.
Throughout the long history of philosophy the subject of deception has been a hot topic. Immanuel Kant was pretty categorical. Lying, he said, was always unethical. To be human means having the ability to be rational and to make own choices. It gave a sense of dignity to humanity. A life with any rational choice was no life for a self-respecting human being.
Bear with me.

So the reason lying is wrong is because it prevents a rational discussion of choices. (And that’s hard enough given our many inbred and subconscious prejudices.) When you lie, it fogs things up. You rob others of their freedom to choose rationally. As one source explains:
When my lie leads people to decide other than they would (had they known the truth), I have harmed their human dignity and autonomy. Kant believed that to value ourselves and others as ends instead of means, we have perfect duties (i.e., no exceptions) to avoid damaging, interfering with, or misusing the ability to make free decisions; in other words - no lying.
This also explains why politicians so often feel the need to lie, to subvert free choice. Because if politicians were mandated to tell the truth on every occasion, well, it would be a bit too easy to know who to vote for. That one.. not that one. Who in their right minds would actually vote for a person they knew was lying to them?

As a matter of fact, with some campaigns, it seems like the whole purpose is find new and improved ways to lie and thereby rob voters of their ability to choose rationally. 
Look around you. 
Incessant advertising pounding relentlessly on minds. Phone calls from strangers demanding that we vote for so and so. Propaganda machines masquerading as news organizations filling the air with the most ridiculous nonsense. And worst of all, hate, that great destroyer of rational thought, pushed like crack cocaine on all the so-called social media. Against this constant onslaught, complete disconnection- ice cold turkey- often seems to be the only method of retaining any sort of rational thought . 

Sadly, as we have seen in this election, many voters do not seem particularly interested in the truth, at all, and would prefer to believe in something that cannot be true. That’s a species of irrational panic. 

Milk and Meat
Lying is wrong. But lying comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. 
Let's take one in particular.
“Milk before meat” is a term used primarily- but not exclusively-by cultists. The idea is pretty simple. There are some things that outsiders- or those on the threshold- do not need to know, or need to be told in great detail. Too scary, too ridiculous or to gosh-darn complicated.
Just as babies need milk for nourishment, baby followers of a religion require a simple, easy to digest form of their faith. Later can come the meat- or in this case, the harder-to- understand aspects of the belief system. Ethically speaking, “milk before meat” principle (as well as the slightly more obvious “lying for the Lord”tactic) is just one slippery step on the water slide to perdition. 

The milk before meat principle is also followed by Scientologists. It is called “gradients” but the practice is the same. 
The idea of "gradients," or steps, is espoused in Scientology as the way to "handle" something in an orderly, step-by-step manner. In actuality, this concept becomes justification for deception.
One who encounters "out gradient" material belittled and invalidated by being said to have "not cognited yet," and treated like an immature schoolchild having trouble figuring it out. The implication is that when he grows up a little more he will come to agree with the use of coercion and become more skilled at understanding deception.

"Lying for the Lord" carries the same notion one step further. Some things are so valuable, so saith the practitioners, that lying in their defense or in their promotion is acceptable
Ethically in the Kantian view, of course, this is absolutely immoral and yet, a lot of this kind of thing goes on in religious circles. I am sure, for example, there are many among the Catholic clergy who have some doubts about the virgin birth but still they carry on as though they do.

These two principles were undoubtedly ones that as a missionary for the Mormon faith, Mitt Romney, must have become familiar with. As one former missionary puts it:
All missionaries are required to "deceive." That word means "lie." Milk before meat is cult mind stopper to help members justify lying. Members lie part time and mishies are close to full time liars. That's their job.
And here’s a fascinating statement by another:
Sometimes I caught myself revealing less than the whole truth, or embellishing in order to defend the church. I noticed that other members often did the same thing. I gave myself permission to be slightly dishonest because I was defending God's one true church; or so I reasoned. Eventually I decided to let the lives and sermons of the church leaders speak for themselves. If detractors were right some of the time, the church and I would deal with it.

.. My belief was that those who accused church leaders with deception were deceivers themselves; they twisted words and took remarks out of context. But as I read more church history my list grew, and at some point it occurred to me that a pattern of institutionalized deception had been established by Joseph Smith. Subsequent church leaders, including those who serve currently, followed Smith's example of lying to protect the church. The growing evidence pointed to a standard practice.

Evidence... establishes that when the church image or its leaders needed protection it was and is, okay to fib, deceive, distort, inflate, minimize, exaggerate, prevaricate or lie. You will read quotations by church leaders who admitted that deception is a useful tool to protect the church and its leaders "when they are in a tight spot," or "to beat the devil at his own game." They admit engaging in moral gymnastics; that God approves of deception - if it's done to protect the "Lord's Church" or "the brethren" as the leaders are called.
It is easy to see how such ideas could be only slightly altered to become a personal philosophy. Lying for the higher cause becomes lying for my higher cause. If lying is okay because it allows me to do God’s work, then lying to attain power to do God’s work on a larger scale should, the reasoning goes, should be even better. 

In the political sense, Romney has throughout his run for the presidency, engaged in both “milk before meat” and “lying for the Lord.” The vague quality about his policies, the constant contradictions between what he has said in the past and what he is saying now adds up to saying nothing concrete at all. The skimmest of milk. Or, as another example, his refusal to be transparent about his tax returns- which would show the intricacies of his business life. What secrets is he hiding? Definitely that’s meat. 

But this milk before meat philosophy was best characterized by Ann Romney’s remark,“We’ve given you people all you need.” This is your milk, stop asking for meat.

There was also the extremely odd way in which he successfully managed to hide his emails. Here’s what Mother Jones reported:
In the final months of Romney's four-year stint as governor, as the Boston Globe reported, 11 of his top staffers purchased the hard drives in their government-issued computers, preventing state archivists from accessing any of their emails. In its final days, the Romney administration also replaced computers and scrubbed state government servers of all the administration's emails. As the top attorney for Romney's replacement, Deval Patrick, put it: "The governor's office has found no e-mails from 2002-2006 in our possession."
That’s positively Nixonian. (And it is also a warning to the more astute voters.)

So many other things about Romney are not clear. And that’s by Romney’s design. The “meat” would choke most of the baby voters so, as far as Romney is concerned, providing them with sweetened milk is far easier. And it's worked most of the time, thanks to a gaggle of  incurious journalists. 

...Mitt Romney's lying may have very much to do with some simple practices he picked up as a Mormon missionary, a pastor, and just plain being a Mormon. In Mormonism, that practice is referred to as "milk before meat", meaning, only sharing limited, introductory doctrines to potential converts to carefully lead them down the path to accepting the more hard line, deep doctrines and covenants received in their temples. In layman's terms, "milk before meat" is basically "the end justifies the means". In other words, deception is justified in the carefully crafted conversion pattern used by both LDS missionaries, and Mormons themselves.
And Romney was not merely a member of the LDS Church. He was not merely a missionary. He was a full-fledged bishop (though some members of the LDS have challenged that term.) Francis Boyle, a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Harvard Law School where he was section-mates with Willard Mitt Romney, clarifies the leadership role:
Romney’s official positions in the hierarchy of the Mormon Church raise serious questions under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Romney must come clean and fully explain his official positions in the Mormon Church hierarchy and the extent to which he takes orders from their Prophet and Apostles. So far the mainstream news media have all given Romney a pass on this threat to the First Amendment.”
“Romney is/was a Mormon Bishop and Archbishop. They take orders from the Mormon Prophet, roughly the Mormon equivalent of the Roman Catholic Pope. Constitutionally speaking under the First Amendment, Romney is not equivalent to either John Kennedy (a lay Catholic) or Joe Lieiberman (a lay orthodox Jew) or Jimmy Carter (a lay Baptist Sunday school teacher).”
Whatever the truth about Romney’s true position in the Mormon Church, it would be extremely naive to think that Romney’s faith has had no effect on his values. 

As a Shaper of Character and Values
Certainly a open discussion of Romney’s Mormon faith is controversial. Some have said that any mention of the subject is unfair. They often present the Catholicism of John Kennedy as precedent. 

Yet that’s not quite the same. Those that objected to Kennedy as president did so purely on the basis of his Catholic faith and perhaps on the possibility that his allegiance to his faith would weigh more heavily that his loyalty to his country. Voters in 1960 were assured and were convinced that there was no danger of that. That settled the matter. Few, as far as I can see, have seriously suggested that Romney will attempt to convert the nation to Mormonism. 

In the case of Romney, the argument is somewhat more complex. The question isn’t about his Mormon faith, it is about his character. And what is the point of faith or any system of belief if not as a shaper a person’s character? This is, therefore, not a condemnation of Romney’s Mormon faith. 

This is a matter of Romney’s frequent -more or less, constant- disregard of the truth. If a man’s faith has affected his character, shouldn’t voters be allowed to question the principles of his faith? 

In any case, for Republicans to dismiss Romney’s faith is highly disingenuous since they were quite willing to make it an issue with Obama’s relationship with Reverend Wright and question the influence and his Wright’s interpretation of radical reformist Christianity. 

Later, much was made over the completely erroneous idea that Obama was a Muslim. A lie so constantly promoted by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck that even today, nearly four years after President Obama came to the White House, more than one in three conservative Republican voters think Obama is a Muslim, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

It was Colin Powell who said:
Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

Powell was correct, of course. Just being a Muslim- which Obama is not- would not be a reason to disqualify a man as president. 

However, the same argument would not be true, for most Americans, if Obama belonged to a cult/ religion that taught its clergy that committing universally-recognized wrongs was okay under specific circumstances. The same should hold true for Romney.

Either personal faith of the candidates has validity in deciding who we should vote for or it doesn’t it. If it doesn’t, why does the subject of values keep coming up in Republican circles? 

Would they deny that, for most people, values are instilled in our character through religion? I very much doubt that they would. So a discussion of Romney’s faith- as a shaper of his character and his values (but not as a comparison between the relative values of the religions) seems fair enough. 

To illustrate the problem more clearly, we must play the Reductio ad absurdum game. If a religion taught- through its day to day practice, though not from its public statements- that stealing was permissible under certain circumstances- such as, only on Saturdays or when the moon was full, would most voters think that all discussion of that particular faith to be off-limits? 
If a religion taught that God smiled at wife-swapping but only amongst members of that faith, would that candidate be as legitimate a candidate as boringly secular one?

Being a leader- at least in a democratically-minded representative government- means being responsible to the citizens that put you into that position. Being responsible means at least attempting to be be honest and open and transparent. It means responding to more information about the candidate's background.

Yes, special circumstances sometimes do apply in the real world. But for respectable and self-respecting people the circumstances should be very few.

There’s has to be some degree of trust between the people and their leader. However, in the case of Mitt Romney, America has never seen a candidate running for the highest office who has demonstrated time and time again that he in no way deserves that trust.