Friday, November 28, 2008
For viewing: The Lives of Others
Oscar-winning German-language film about a playwright under Stasi surveillance in Communist East Germany. This film does happen to be very relevant to the deeper meaning of this column. The playwright is the last of his artist friends still sponsored by the state, and has to decide how to use his art. A moving portrayal of the "bad kind of individualism" brought about by a totalitarian state (withdrawal from the community). Incredible performance by actual former victim of East German repression. Very fine soundtrack, as well.
For Listening: the Bach: Violin Concertos, Chaconne
from Bach's Partita No. 2 in D Minor for violin. Brahms says of the chaconne: "one of the most wonderful and most incomprehensible pieces of music." A lengthy display of inconceivable virtuosity, full of profound feelings; a whole universe of pain and triumph. Bach, of course, wrote "for the glory of God alone," but his compositions were made possible by the appreciative patronage of Prince Leopold of Cothen.
For Reading: Capital
by Karl Marx. One of the greatest systematic philosophers of all time (and it's actually a pretty good read, for philosophy). It's important, for one thing, to truly understand where the social goals of Marxism originate. Also, we don't want to throw around terms we don't understand, or "straw man" our opponents. It's ironic (and significant for the purposes of this column) that Marx copyrighted his monumental work, and was supported in his research and leisure by the patronage of Friedrich Engels.
The founding fathers alluded to a supreme authority that should be recognized and given proper credence; yet also acknowledged clear freedoms to force no man to adhere to that authority. So when we look to define the line between church and state; Where does it fall?
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Last week, Lindsay Lohan was attacked by a "flour bomb"-wielding animal rights activist in Paris, as retribution for Lohan's fur-wearing ways. See the Kodak moment here. For those of you who were wondering, a flour bomb, according to Wikipedia, consists of "flour in a fragile container, thrown at a person or object to produce an inconvenient stain." (Why is it, by the way, that Wikipedia is the only dictionary with a serious, reliable definition of "flour bomb"? Yea, definitely the second-best website ever...)
In the past, animal rights activists have also doused prominent fur-wearers with paint. Here's the punchline: in either case, the destruction of a celebrity's animal fur only means that one or several more animals will have to be killed to replace the ruined fur (unless, of course, in the unlikely event that the assault converts the celebrity into a caring defender of the natural rights of animals).
Perhaps PETA would argue that the public exposure for their cause is worth the martyrdom of a few of the innocent creatures they are sworn to protect. Interesting ethical quandary. They should make like a movie about it or something: morally ambiguous heroes are the bee's knees right now. They could even have a scene where, once the animals understand what the activists are trying to accomplish in the long run, they sacrifice their lives voluntarily--and with stoic resolve--to replace Lindsay Lohan's fur coat. Man, that would be poetry on celluloid.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Dubiously dubbed the "Employee Free Choice Act", the bill will remove secret ballot elections from the process of unionization at a workplace.
A brief rundown can be found here.
The EFCA would replace the secret ballot (which was apparently good enough for the Democrats when deciding Joe Lieberman's fate) with the collection of signatures. As soon as the Union collected signatures from over 50% of the employees, all employees would be forced to join the union.
And we all know that the labor unions would never pressre anyone into signing...
Lets take a quick peak at what we have:
Last week I touched on some of the reasons why the bailout would not help Detroit, but the more things move along, the bailout is more likely to hurt Detroit in the long run. In fact, they have put themselves in an even worse financial position just by asking for federal money.
1) As a general rule, the last thing you want to do when you are under a load of crushing debt is to take another loan.
2) One of the claims made is that they need the Federal loan since the credit crisis prevents them from obtaining private money. The problem is not the credit crisis, the problem is that no private lenders believe that Detroit will be able to repay the loan. Apparently, the markets do not either. In spite of the near guarantee that they will be getting the loan they are requesting, investors don't view GM as a good buy.
3) When an individual applies for any type of loan (car loan, mortgate, credit card, etc), their credit score gets dinged just a bit. Applying for 2 or three loans in succession they will see a significant decrease in their score. Continue down this path and the individual risks damaging his credit for a long time. The reason? Lenders begin to see the individual as desperate for cash. Most people in this situation are at the point where they cannot meet their financial obligations and are merely seeking to keep the lights on a bit longer.
By going straight to the feds, and announcing that they cannot obtain private financing, Detroit has pretty much sealed its fate. They are acting like the desperate individual described above and their stock prices show this. While bankruptcy certainly is a black mark on one's credit score, it is still easier to obtain credit with a bankruptcy and modest debt that is well within one's means than it is to be in the desperate situation described above.
4) When Detroit receives the bailout, it will certainly come with strings attached (and understandably so), but unfortunately, the strings will be of the "Well Meaning Leftist" type - such as requirements to develop green vehicles (as if CAFE already doesn't do that) and restrictions on CEO pay.
CAFE standards forced Detroit for years to sell vehicles that lost money. To recover and earn a profit, they had to rely on the SUV & light truck market. Additional requirements to sell unprofitable vehicles is certainly a greater recipe for failure.
While certainly the current CEO's have done a poor job for their pay - and certainly nobody would fault the boards if they voted them out, capping the pay for the top executive position would prevent the best and brightest from even attempting to tackle the daunting task ahead. What incentive would they have for taking the job in the first place when they can make more money elsewhere? Applying a salary cap places another handicap on the companies already far behind their foreign competitors.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Mom is doing well & things (so far) have been progressing normally.
While not specifically related to conservatism or politics, we just wanted to share the joy :)
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Where to begin? I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony, to borrow Dinesh D'Souza's quip. First off, no matter what ideology you espouse, hopefully you understand that what is "good," is not always self-evident, and hardly ever natural. But moralists and philosophers have long tried to establish some natural, "rational" basis for morality--some universal principle that will be obvious to everyone, even without recourse to anything transcendent or divine. Again, there are a lot of points one could make about this so-called "natural" morality, and I look to you all for your thoughts.
One kind of thinking about natural morality is that an "enlightened self-interest" will make you treat others kindly, both to get good things in return and to live a reasonably civil life, full of low expectations and small happinesses. Conincidentally enough, I just attended a special lecture at the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism on Alexis de Tocqueville and his critique of the American morality of rational self-interest. The speaker was Harvey Mansfield, Harvard historian and political theorist, and translator of Machiavelli and Tocqueville.
Alexis de Tocqueville was a French liberal aristocrat who travelled through America for nine months in 1831. His Democracy in America is, according to Professor Mansfield, the best book ever on democracy, and the best book ever on America. Tocqueville criticizes the American idea, even back then, that the reason to be "good," the reason to support and obey a democratic government is a rational long-view self-interest that wants to play by the rules in order to achieve a happy life later. (Of course, none of this takes into account the people that wouldn't be able to succeed playing by the rules). Tocqueville points out that, if you don't believe in an afterlife, then old age is no less fleeting than young age--there's no real reason to choose to play by the rules in favor of a finite happiness later, and against a finite happiness now. Both are equally passing. And so topples one attempt to establish a logical morality without religion. Tocqueville concludes that men need religion, or they will eventually realize that the ethical life makes no sense.
All this doesn't even touch the fact that, without some kind of transcendent standard, we can't even determine what is right anyway. Nature is not moral; it's dog-eat-dog. Certain tribes of the Auca Indians in Ecuador will, if their baby cries too much, bury it alive. That's "natural." The only reason modern, secular Americans have "generally" similar ethical standards is that, to paraphrase one political theorist, we are all sniffing fumes out of the same empty bottle (Christianity); and philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, too, has observed that the ethics of most nonbelievers are evidence of the former sacredness of our civilization.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Not the other anon: The attempt to interpret our personal experiences is one of the most meaningful things we do as humans. There's nothing wrong with anecdotal evidence--in fact, it's possible to argue that all evidence (even "research" that we personally engage in) is subjective-anecdotal. Your experiences are instructive, certainly for yourself, and, I think, for all of us.
The fact that you feel more acceptance among your gay friends is a real phenomenon, and one that probably has a number of explanations. The first is connected with your thoughtful critique of American "Christian" pseudo-manliness. I think all guys, somewhere in the depths of their beings, desire significant friendships with other guys--friendships in which communication about real thoughts and struggles occurs. Think of David and Jonathan, or the countless examples from antiquity: considering the way these people communicated and felt about each other, it's safe to say they would be laughed to scorn by most American "men." I think if genuine, meaningful man-to-man friendships were not so derided, a lot of people who think they'd like to dabble in homosexuality would realize that's not what they're looking for. (Hat tip to Zach Franzen for suggesting the need for a return to manly friendship).
After cleaning our own house, though, I have to observe that another reason for the easy communication is that homosexuality is a species of narcissism. I do not say this is homosexuality's only appeal, but, as Erich von Kuehnelt-Leddihn writes, "Homosexuality has an aspect of sameness to it along with the refusal to establish the sometimes difficult bridge--intellectual, spiritual, and psychological--to the other sex. In this respect, homosexuality is a form of narcissism, of immaturity." K-L goes on to paraphrase Dr. Marcel Eck to the effect that the "hell of homosexuality lies precisely in that it avoids genuine dialogue; homosexual love is not a quest for another but merely seeks the self." Heterosexual love constantly reminds us of the near impossibility of transcending ourselves, and yet we push and stretch against that veil. Homosexual love, at the risk of over-generalization, may feel accepting at first, but that's because it's actually self-love, and this comes out in the wash.
You want to really mix things up? Try something really radical? Just go crazy? Find a guy who can be a "soul-mate" (I'm not kidding), but then try to really get to know a woman. She'll blow your mind. I promise.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The Dems currently hold 58 seats in the senate. The GOP needs either Coleman to win here or Saxby Chambliss in Georgia to have any say at all in the senate.
For a quick rundown of the players with an eye on that position go here.
UPDATE: For anyone reading from Virginia, latest info I found is here.
Even though the events leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq started before this, to get this kicked off, I'll start with the Congress' Authorization for use of Military Force Against Iraq resolution of 2002. I'll summarize a few of the points and we'll go from there.
1) The 1990 invasion created a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and enforce UN Security Council resolutions against Iraq
2) After the invasion, Iraq entered into a UN sponsored ceasfire in which it agreed to end its pursuits of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons & cease sponsoring international terrorism
3) Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998
4) in Public Law 105–235 (August 14, 1998), Congress concluded that Iraq’s continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in ‘‘material and unacceptable breach of its internationa obligations’’ and urged the President ‘‘to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations’
These 4 items are all historical fact - and the events depicted in the resolution all took place PRIOR to George W Bush taking office. In spite of the fact that we NOW know that Iraq did not possess WMD at the time of invasion, it was public knowledge that they had weapons back in 1998. Furthermore,
5) Iraq persist[ed] in violating resolution of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait
6) the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people. NOTE: While it has now been shown that Hussein did not possess WMD at the time of the invasion, that was hardly the posture he was taking. Not only was there ample intelligence indicating the presence of WMD in Iraq, Hussein (at this point in time) did not permit weapons inspectors back into the country.
7) the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105–338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime. NOTE: as early as 1998, it was the policy of the United States to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
8) September 12, 2002, President Bush committed the United States to ‘‘work with the United Nations Security Council to meet our common challenge’’ posed by Iraq and to ‘‘work for the necessary resolutions,’’ while also making clear that ‘‘the Security Council resolutions will be enforced, and the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable NOTE: as early as September 2002, the President began working with the United Nations - in spite of the oft repeated claim of "unilateral action" - never mind the fact that acting unilaterally is not an evil in and of itself.
To quickly sum up a long post - the first several reasons listed as rationale for the Iraq invasion occured prior to President Bush taking office. President Bush ran for office on a platform that took an aggressive stance against hostile nations that support terrorist activities.
The events of September 11th underscored the importance of taking pro-active stance against increasingly bold terrorist states.
The invasion of Iraq sent a message that we will not tolerate state sponsors of terrorism. Unfortunately, as time went on, the message that was delivered by our media is that the United States does not have the stomach for a fight. IMO, it was the stance taken by the media that emboldened Iran to press forward to achieve nuclear capability. When they saw the peoples response to a difficult and expensive fight, they knew there was no way they had the stomach to do anything other than talk while they perform nuclear tests, launch missiles, etc. Fortunately, Israel has no qualms with taking out nuclear facilities in Iran.
On the plus side, President Bush had the perseverance (despite the fact that it was immensly unpopular) to stay and finish the job. Thanks to that perseverence, there is one less terrorist state in the world.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Yet its barely a blip on the radar when real progress is made using adult stem cells - allowing individuals to become their own donors. Why is it so critical that human life is destroyed?
This is besides the point that embryonic stem cell research is still perfectly legal in the US - not to mention that individual states are free to fund such research.
Hat tip: Drudge
It is disgraceful that the GOP did not press for Stevens resignation when the his gift taking was first discovered.
In other news, Minnesota has begun the automatic recount. Currently, Norm Coleman (R) leads Al Franken (D) by 215 votes. Minnesota law permits counters to divine "voter intent", so we definitely want to keep an eye on this.
Georgia's runoff election is not until December.
Second situation: People tend to view labor differently than other goods, however labor (the use of one's time) is subject to the same laws of supply and demand as any other commodity.
However, that doesn't stop attempts to fix prices on labor. As in the case of gasoline, it is an attempt to tip the scales in favor of individuals over corporations. However, unlike gasoline, the drive is to keep the price artificially high rather than artificially low.
No matter how much legislation is passed, you can't change the laws of supply and demand. You can change prices, but markets respond to higher prices - whether freely set by the seller or by the force of law - by demanding less of it.
In the case of minimum wage or living wage laws, employers respond by purchasing less of others time. This most affects those with less skills or education. After all, if you are forced to pay above market price for something, you want to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. Someone whos only skill is sweeping floors will be left out in the cold. Individuals who are hired (or are already working, but now have a legislated pay raise) will see their hours cut.
In the case of the labor unions, employers don't have the option of cutting employees when they aren't delivering value for the price. They don't have the option of cutting back on hours. Since employers (the purchasers in this case) don't have the option of purchasing less from their existing labor providers, they will most certainly not hire new workers.
The argument that huge corporations can afford to pay workers what they feel they are worth certainly does not hold wait in light of the Big Three's current situation. The UAW has killed the goose laying the golden eggs.
Again - what is better lots of people employed at a lower wage or no jobs at all?
The most visible example of this behavior is gas prices. In the summer, people tend to travel more which in turn pushes the price up. Similarly, when weather or world events disrupts the oils supply, prices go up.
Let's look at a few scenarios to illustrate free market principles in action:
First situation: A hurricane threatens (or has already hit) a coastal city prompting evacuation. The station owners respond by raising gas prices to $8/gal.
Since it would cost $120 to fill a 15 gallon tank, motorists have to make choices. Many who have 3/4 of a tank already will decide to press on and fill up in another town - or decide they have enough to get where they are going. People with empty tanks will put in just enough to get where they need to go.
Today, however, many states have past laws against price gouging in times of crisis. Suppose instead of $8/gal gas, station owners are forced by law to keep their prices at their current $2/gal. In this case there is no incentive for drivers to ration gas. Everybody tops off their 3/4 full tanks. Everyone fills their tank completely no matter how far they need to go and the situation becomes first come first serve - and the station is pumped dry much more quickly. Worse yet, the station owner who has no idea when he will be able to be refilled himself - or at what price, decides to close up shop rather than selling fuel at a loss.
As tough as it is, I think most people would prefer $8 gas to no gas at all. What is more fair? The "greedy" station owner selling small amounts of gas to as many people as possible or selling at a "fair" price and only the fastest group of people make it out in time?
To be continued...
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
~Louis D. Brandeis
Many politicians of our time are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition, that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story, who resolved not to go into the water till he had learned to swim. If men are to wait for liberty till they become wise and good in slavery, they may indeed wait forever.
~Thomas Babington Macaulay
Monday, November 17, 2008
In doing the math, the feds would be throwing $25 billion at an industry that the market currently values at only $7 billion - and that has a net worth in excess of $200 billion in the red.
Without bankruptcy, the manufacturers have no chance to obtain debt relief, escape their UAW contract and set on a proper course. As of right now, the group most in favor of the Detroit bailout is understandably the UAW.
While I certainly have no reason to doubt that the author believes that the GOP is beholden to the religious right, the notion doesn't hold water.
- Embryonic stem cell research: President Bush's executive order to withhold federal funding for the destruction of human embryos is probably his strongest point here since many people who define themselves as pro-life (including Senator McCain) do not view embryos as the equivalent of a human child. However, the argument starts to break down when one realizes that President Bush did not BAN the research (nor could he) -simply that taxpayers should not fund it. Furthermore, both candidates for president were in favor of recinding that order.
- Gay marriage: This was debated greatly in here, so I won't say anything more in that regard save to say that prop 8 passed in large part to overwhelming support from the black community - hardly a demographic one would consider Republican. Prop 8 won in a state where no Republican even remotely stands a chance in statewide elections.
- Abortion: This is the topic he spent the most time on & really the only topic that one could use to paint McCain as a slave to the religious right. However, a majority of the population favors at least some restrictions on abortion - this change would seem to be driven by advances in imagery. In addition, while certainly a high percentage of religious folks are pro-life, it would seem certain that our founders viewed life as one of the inalienable rights endowed by our creator.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Here are some of the provisions of the bill:
- To live in a safe, healthy, and nurturing environment, and to know and be cared for by the child's parent or legal guardian, except in circumstances when the child's removal from his parent or legal guardian is in the child's best interests;
- To be free from physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional abuse, neglect, cruelty, and any form of discipline that humiliates, demeans, or inflicts unnecessary mental or physical suffering or pain
These are certainly noble ideals and I am sure that the crafters of this bill are well intentioned. I certainly take no issue with the idea that children should be raised in a safe nurturing environment. Physical, sexual, psychological and emotional abuse, neglect and cruelty are evil when directed at other adults - much less children.
The problem I have is that the language in the bill subjective by nature. No hard definition is given for cruelty. What amount of pain rises to the level of "unnecessary" - is a slap on the wrist unnecessary? Are parents who choose to educate their children at home neglectful?
These are not decisions I would entrust to the NJ judiciary - and in the event the UN treaty the bill is based on is ratified, I would not entrust our federal judiciary either - much less the type of judges Presiden Obama would appoint.
UPDATE: If you live in New Jersey and wish to contact your state legislators, go here.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
The other more theoretical issue that caught my attention, as the "history/academic" guy, was the notion that Christians should, in general, oppose gay marriage in order to retain God's mercy. (And, since I have contributor privileges, I get to subject you all to my musings here on the main page.) This kind of Toynbeean/Spenglerian perspective on the structured rise and fall of nations presupposes (1) that we know all the facts and variables, can see everything that is going on in history and in the present and make comparative measurements of a nation's righteousness accordingly; (2) that Christians can know what and why God does what he does; and (3) that, for the Christian, worldly-temporal success is somehow decisive--evidence of God's favor.
A classic example of this kind of Christian moral positivism (whatever is, is right; "might makes right") is the destruction of the Spanish Armada. According to this legend, God routed the Armada with a storm to keep England, and hence the future America, Protestant. Of course, God didn't care when the Spaniards became Catholics because he likes English people better. Another example: I once heard a pastor say that Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans because of the sin in that city--never mind that the districts where much of the vice goes on were not destroyed. (And why is it always with the weather that we know it's God? Is it because weather still has some aura of incomprehensibility?)
Christians that think this way strike me like the person who reads the book of Job and then debates which friend was more right. Kind of misses the point... And how about the tower of Siloam: Jesus' followers asked him why innocent people were crushed by a falling tower. Jesus didn't answer this question; all he said was, "nobody is innocent--you had all better repent cause a tower might fall on you too." And how about Jeremiah: God tells him his life is basically going to stink all the way through it. Just stick it out.
Even if some Biblical passage tells you what God did in a certain instance and why, it does not follow that you understand God's ways and what He would do in a similar circumstance later.
To quote Sir Karl Popper, "The theory that God reveals Himself and His judgement in history is indistinguishable from the theory that worldly success is the ultimate judge and justification of our actions." Is God on the side of Islam today?
(Again, these thoughts do not specifically pertain to most of the pragmatic or ideological arguments for or against Gay marriage, just to the "God's blessing/cursing" argument. Sorry if it's a bit more abstract than the usual fare, but tell us what you think anyway...)
Friday, November 14, 2008
A few of the highlights:
- Police have had to change their tactics - at Virginia Tech, every minute the responding officers waited for backup, 4 people were shot, and 3 killed.
- Most active killers have no intention of surviving the ordeal. They often turn their gun on themselves as soon as they are confronted.
- Active killers target areas where there is little likelihood that anyone else present is armed.
Unfortunately, it seems that our legislators look at this type of information and conclude that we need MORE places where people are unarmed.
Hat Tip Radio Free NJ
It doesn't address Senate seats, Governor's chairs or anything, but the author makes smart points about staying on message. While Palin isn't Reagan, the comparison works because both were people of conviction and both were ridiculed for lack of experience and viciously attacked when they first appeared on the national scene.
Most social conservatives - especially those of a religious nature - would likely desire control over their own property. They would tend to believe that individuals should work for a living. They know the value of compassion and exhibit it at the individual level and do not wish their earnings confiscated for causes that conflict with their beliefs.
Conversly, social liberals who describe themselves as "fiscally conservative" over time (according to Goldberg) find it difficult to avoid funding of their pet causes by the state.
UPDATE: Michael Yon goes as are as to say "The war is over and we won." From the sound of it, President Obama will be able to pull troops from Iraq as he promised - but only because President Bush pressed for victory as opposed to slinking away with our tails between our legs.
To that end, we at Case 4 the Right introduce Founders Friday. I'd like to begin with the opening paragraph to the Declaration of Independence. What can we glean from it?
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Aside from the obvious statement of intention to secede, what does does this opening statement tell us about the Founders views of national sovereignty?
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Here is a list of the Senators who will be up for re-election in 2010. No senators are up from my home state, although it would take something pretty serious to unseat an incumbent Democrat in NJ.
Six years ago, Bob Toricelli was convicted of taking bribes and was forced to withdraw. In spite of the fact that the deadline to add someone to the ballot (clearly spelled out in state law) had passed, the state supreme court permitted the Democrats to add Frank Lautenberg to the ticket.
NJ voted him in anyway.
In spite of all the negative press she's received, she's a star right now. She's getting interviewed all over the place. Even in a state as distant as Alaska, she would maintain a higher profile by remaining governor (and gaining further executive experience) than she would serving as a junior senator for the minority party.
Even if the Dems get to 60, I will shed no tears for Senator Stevens - graft has no place in our government. If the GOP had been smart, they would have pressed for his resignation long ago. He had no business running for re-election.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Somehow, someway those protesting humans romping around the streets of California will find a liberal court or activist judge to overturn the vote of the people.
The first problem with the new brand is that it paints traditional conservatives as "cold and uncaring - even downright mean." Policy (liberal or conservative) is dispassionate. Well meaning individuals can hold to either policy. Decisions about which policy to follow should be based on their merits, not the personality of the person proposing them.
The next problem is that once elected, compassionate conservatism looked alot like diet liberalism in practice (at least fiscally). While President Bush made great headway in the area of tax cuts - which did provide a boon for the economy - his drastic spending increases (even discounting for the defense budget) erased a budget surplus in front of the nations eyes.
Now, on the whole, I believe President Bush to have been an excellent president (hows that for an unpopular position). He has shown himself a principled conservative on social issues, but he and the congressional Republicans have done the conservative platform no favors when they abandoned the principles of limited government.
The way I see it, Republicans in general and conservatives in particular, have two tasks at hand:
1) Educate the public as to why conservative principles make sound public policy and
2) Convince the electorate that they are going to be the party of limited government again.
The big question is can it be done? If so, how should we start?
While I'm certainly not one to favor bailouts since it prevents individuals and organizations from learning from their mistakes, Detroit is intricately woven throughout our national economy. More importantly, a large portion of the troubles GM and the others are facing is attributable to various federal and state governments - and indirectly to the voters that elected them.
With these thoughts in mind, and for your viewing pleasure, I introduce the "Well-Meaning Leftist of the Week" feature. Every week I will highlight a Leftist with a half-baked plan full of good intentions and unintended consequences. (Your suggestions for Leftists to feature, past or present, are welcome). We'll start off all historical-like.
This week: Thomas Jefferson
One of the most controversial battles the legislators of young America faced was how to pay off the IOU's and securities issued to Revolutionary armies as salary. The problem was that many patriotic, hard-fighting citizens had, despairing that they would ever be reimbursed, sold their securities to speculators--some for as little as 15 cents on the dollar. As public credit stabilized, due in part to the Federal Government's confidence-inspiring assumption of the States' debts, these securities and IOU's approached their former worth. As you can imagine, Jefferson and his party were vehemently against rewarding the weaselly speculators and in favor of tracking down the original holders (however that was to be done). Alexander Hamilton, on the other hand, recognized that, at this juncture in the Country's history, it was more important than ever to ensure confidence in the Government's ability to uphold the law. As Ron Chernow writes in his biography of Hamilton, "The knowledge that government could not interfere retroactively with a financial transaction was so vital...as to outweigh any short-term expediency." Hamilton recognized that it would be better for every citizen, great and small, if they could be sure the incentives put in place to encourage hard work, industry, and innovation would be honored. Jefferson, despite his usual understanding of the "paradox of liberty and law," ignored this fact, and so earns his place as the well-meaning Leftist of the week.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The Democrats currently hold 55 seats. Two seats are held by Independents (Bernie Sanders - VT & Joe Lieberman - CT) who will likely caucus with the Democrats - although on defense issues, Lieberman is at odds with the Democrat Party. The Republicans are currently sitting at 40 seats with 3 left to decide. The last three seats are of critical importance if the GOP is to have any say at all in the direction of this nation. If the Democrats gain control of 60 seats, Republicans will be unable to filibuster even the worst legislation (and more importantly judicial nominations) proposed by our entirely Democrat government.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Keep it clean (no profanity or name calling). Keep it relevant to the overall theme of the site (we don't care about your shoes). And please keep it serious (humor is okay, but no 9/11 conspiracy theories or Obama is a Muslim posts).
Thanks - you have the floor now.
Whether it's the current administration setting aside $700 billion (and lending another $2 trillion) for the banking industry - oh and the US auto industry, and the [insert next giant company], or the coming administration declaring that urgent action is needed for the families who struggle to figure how to pay their bills.
Whether you are a family of 4 or a company with 40,000 employees, the possiblility of failure provides incentive for caution and careful consideration of ones choices.
It should not be a news flash that life involves choices about the allocation of ones resources. Generations past struggled to pay their bills - apparently struggle and careful consideration is a bad thing now days. It is to much to expect individuals to purchase homes they can afford or rent until they can afford.
Businesses fail all the time for many reasons - maybe they provide a good or service that is not in demand, make foolish investments, are inefficient, etc. This allows the market to determine who is productive and who is not.
Safety nets promote risky behavior and inefficiency. You'll never learn to ride a bike if you never take the training wheels off.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
What Barack Obama Will Do
An Obama administration will do more than a McCain administration for the cause of life, by drastically reducing abortions through giving women and families the support and the tools they need to choose life. Barack Obama will continue to strive to make a life with dignity for all from the beginning to the end of life possible - by making sure health care is affordable, combating poverty, providing good paying jobs, and ensuring security in life's final years.
Do evangelicals believe this? Barack has shown that he is one of the strongest supporters of any and all abortion ever. Here is a good article to articulate this claim. Obama went beyond extremism when he argued against the BAIPA on the
I am no idealist who thinks McCain would have done drastically more than the Bush Administration to end abortion; but McCain, as Bush did, would have appointed judges that read the constitution as it was written. Bring the issue to the States; where we can have some hope of limiting and even ending the gruesome murder of unborn children. Give me a chance to vote instead of a court creating laws.
Map of the evangelical vote.
Thanks for that article (an excellent example of unintended consequences). I've always enjoyed your father's writing.
As far as "trickle down economics", the phrase itself was an attempt to market fiscally conservative tax policies - in actuallity, there is no real "trickle down theory of economics".
Saturday, November 8, 2008
The contributors to this blog will perhaps disagree on a number of issues. Almost certainly some responders will disagree. The beauty of liberal democracy ["liberal" in the 19th century sense of generosity and liberty] is that we all agree to have our debates and elections and then go home. We don't bring our armies with us back to Rome. I believe that there is such a thing as truth and that there's only one of it; but I also believe that it's really big, with a lot of contours.
Incidentally, to my way of thinking, that's one of the reasons for smaller government. There are too many right ways of doing things for coercion and uniformity to win the day. (And yet, there is such a thing as error too. "If men were angels, no government would be necessary": let the debates begin!)