Monthly Archives: November 2009

Moral Ambivalence

Both sides have their litmus tests.  Republicans, and even centrist Democrats, support the right to bear arms.  They feel that guns are only the proximate cause of homicides, suicides and tragic mistakes.  These outcomes can be addressed with training and regulation, while the root problems are sought elsewhere.

It is surprising that such open-mindedness does not extend to, say, abortion.  Abortion is murder, says the right, while the left – with equal lack of imagination – decries handgun terror from Virginia Tech to Columbine.  Each side feels that their rights are sacred, and the other’s are anathema.   Especially poignant was the use of a constitutionally protected handgun to murder an abortion doctor – in church.

The only sensible position is the libertarian one, which says that all rights are granted unless they are demonstrably damaging to society.  Gay rights, gun rights and abortion are all equal.  The left-right divide is, as usual, an affront to logic.

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Don’t Blame Sanjay

Once upon a time, Jeremiah was a student in America’s dismal public-school system.  There were a few talented young students, and not all of them were singled out for abuse.  Academic excellence might be tolerated, as long as the evidence could be concealed.  Overt signs of ambition – reading, homework, respect for teachers – were met with sanctions ranging from ostracism to actual violence.

The only sensible thing, in such a milieu, is to enjoy the ready availability of sex, drugs, and other diversions – and hope for the best after graduation.

Some years later, an immigrant Indian student showed Jeremiah the string he was wearing, wound confusedly over his shoulders and around his back.  This simple cotton string was important to young Sanjay – a reminder of his role as a full-time student.  Later, Sanjay explained, he would be a husband and a father and a successful doctor.  But first, he must give top priority to doing well in school.

There is, of course, this stereotype that Asians from South to East are lifeless drones with no spunk and no sense of fun.  American kids can justly feel smug about that, while washing Sanjay’s Mercedes.

See also:  R.I.P. Derrion Albert

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Right Wing Defeats Republican

Dede Scozzafava might have beaten Bill Owens in the NY-23 election.  She was seven points ahead on October 1.  But rightist Republicans, led by Sarah Palin, defected for Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman.  This split the Republican vote, handing victory to the Democrat.  Here is how the Washington Post described Scozzafava:

Like some other northeastern Republicans, she is generally conservative on fiscal issues but favors abortion rights and gay rights. She is, her supporters say, the kind of Republican who can win a race in a district like New York’s 23rd.

Clearly, not a “true” Republican by national-party standards.  On the other hand, Mr. Hoffman turned out to be uninformed on key local issues, like road and water projects.  He lost.  You have to hand it to the Palinistas.  They would rather lose an election than give up their litmus test.

The Republican Party used to stand for things like small government, low taxes, and fiscal conservatism.  Now, it is just anti-gay and anti-abortion.  Next to be sabotaged: Olympia Snowe.

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Enemy of the People

LiebermanSenator Joe Lieberman vows to filibuster any health bill that includes a public option.  You have read his opinion here before.  Kudos to Mr. Lieberman for voting his conscience.  He has already been kicked out of the Democratic Party.

Response from the left has been shrill.  They are calling for the senator to be stripped of his seniority, his committee positions, and kicked out of the caucus (and tried for treason, and hanged).  How’s that for civil discourse?  Most Orwellian was the instant creation of a Facebook Page called “If Joe Lieberman filibusters health care, I will donate to his opponent,” with thousands of pledges.

The page, the photo, and the vulgar blog posts bear a disturbing resemblance to Nineteen Eighty-Four’s ritualized hating of Emmanuel Goldstein.  Meanwhile, real politicians are much more relaxed.  Senator Reid himself expressed only respect for Lieberman.

Facebook, the last refuge of scoundrels.

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Mormon Pervert Jailed

Nabokov’s Mr. Humbert never got his dream of a Lolita ranch in Texas.  The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) had not been invented.  The leader of this outfit was jailed in Utah just about two years ago, and another pervert was sent up today.  Their M.O. involves creepy old men “marrying” little girls.

This kind of thing could give heterosexual marriage a bad name.

The campaign against gay marriage leans heavily on religion, morality, and spurious quotations from the bible.  The sacrament of marriage will be sullied, they say, if gays are included.  So it is salutary, if sad, to learn that bible-reading straight men can also defile the sacred institution.

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Partisan Vote on Health Reform

The Economist leads this week with an exclamation of dismay that “public option” is somehow back on the table.  This is not the National Review.  The Economist is a liberal British newspaper that endorses President Obama.  Their main argument against public option is that it does nothing to reform health care.  It merely moves the (huge) unreformed cost onto the backs of taxpayers.

The Economist also notes some features conspicuously absent from the House bill, such as tort reform and interstate competition.  Public option, most observers agree, is a Trojan horse for nationalizing the industry.  The government plan will easily run private insurers out of business.

One might wonder if this kind of “reform” is really where the House should be spending its energies, given the state of America’s economy.  The Economist finds the same explanation you have read here – craven partisanship.

By resurrecting the idea of a public plan, the Democrats are serving notice that what little chance there was of a bipartisan effort on health is gone.

The House vote ran strictly on party lines.  Check your congressman’s vote on this New York Times page.  Kudos to the few Democrats who broke ranks.  President Obama should join them.

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Bashing Democracy in Maine

Tuesday’s vote against gay marriage was a setback for democracy.  The Wall Street Journal’s boast that gay marriage “has yet to win a popular vote” is especially dangerous.  Anyone with high-school civics knows that America is a representative democracy for a reason.

Popular vote is basically mob rule, and means that any minority can be disenfranchised.  So-called “direct democracy” has made California ungovernable.

Culture warriors on both sides are guilty of venue shopping.  This issue must be settled by the states, using the legislative process according to each state’s constitution.  The “patchwork” of state laws is not a reason for federal intercession.

America should expect to endure a period of pro- and anti-gay laws at the state level, until experience at that level settles into consensus.  In the meantime, state legislators must stand up and be counted.

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