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Discernment

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Discernment can be defined as “the ability to see and understand people, things, or situations clearly and intelligently.” It is a rare trait in today’s world. Here are three examples or exhibits for you to ponder.

Exhibit A: the Obama Administration. The Obama administration removed Cuba off its terrorism list this past Friday. With each step that the Administration takes towards normalization, American businesses are falling for Havana fever. Havana fever is reminiscent of a scene from the Hunt of Red October. Just watch the sailor’s reaction when the word Havana is mentioned, which is 1:45 of the clip. That is Havana fever.

Foggy Bottom fails to realize that in its zeal to normalize relations, those who look to the US for inspiration to bring democracy to the island are betrayed (H/T: Jay Nordlinger, National Review Online). Any US business that fails to discern the political and economic terrain of Cuba will fail. On a side note, I would encourage to read Jason’s blog posting regarding the Code of Conduct, which is found here and here.

Exhibit B: Corruption and radical environmentalism, sort of. comes from an op-ed written by Mr. Sheldon Whitehouse. (H/T: Kevin Williamson, National Review Online, The Corner, May 31st). Mr. Whitehouse’s wrote on the need for the federal government to initiate RICO action against fossil fuel companies. For those who are unaware, RICO stands for the Racketeer Influenced Corruption Act. The law was intended to go after the Mafia here in the United States. Unfortunately, some government officials would prefer using it against politically unpopular. Mr. Whitehouse writes that the US Department of Justice ought to go after “fossil fuel” companies (i.e. oil companies) because in his opinion the oil companies are conducting a fraudulent campaign against climate change.

What I fail to mention is that Mr. Whitehouse is a US Senator. We have a US Senator requesting that the Department of Justice conduct a witch hunt regarding a scientific matter that no one really knows if it is a natural phenomena or man made. We have a US Senator seeking to use government force that is reserved for criminal matters against people whom the Senator disagrees with. The bigger question is how did this guy get elected?

Finally, Exhibit C comes from Joe Carter’s First Thing’s blog this past weekend. In “Has Modern Conservatism Become A Cult?,”  Mr. Carter observes:

“The truth is the vast majority of the right subscribes to a form of libertarian populism, inflected with social conservative attachments-an unholy hybrid of Ayn Rand, William Jennings Bryan, and Morton Downey, Jr.”

It is a very interesting read. Carter may be on to something that, possibly, modern conservatism is beginning to revolve around a cult of personality. Conservatives are becoming more of Robespierre-like, rather than Gibbons.  We waste political capital hunting down “RINO’s” because they do not meet the standard for ideological purity instead of focusing our energies into formulating solutions to the multitude of problems facing our country.  For example, when was the last time you read Malkin, or heard Limbaugh, or even Levin praise a solution to an issue? We seem to forget that “good policy makes good politics.”

Discernment is a needed virtue that needs to be cultivated, especially in day where society seems to value one’s reaction rather than taking their time before responding. Discernment calls for analysis and a forces us to ask whether this battle is worth fighting instead of fighting every battle. Those who develop this skill will not only be successful in the political or the business realm, but in life as well.

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