The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Pledge of Allegiance controversy

One of the most internal-conflict-generating issues to me is the controversy on the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. On the one hand, I have no problem saying the Pledge with those words. They do not conflict in any way with my own religious beliefs. On the other hand, it certainly seems that the atheists' fight to avoid saying the words is the same as my fight in the 7th grade to avoid singing Christmas carols, with their explicitly Christian words, and thus my instinct is to support them.

But the atheists' position in many of their legal fights has been grossly intolerant of those who, like myself, firmly do believe in a God, including some ideas that might actually be loosely subsumed under the heading "intelligent design." So I find it uncomfortable to be allied with them. And when we look at the most recent Pledge fight, in which an atheist father sued on behalf of a daughter who did not share his beliefs, it seems to me that the atheists on their part are equally coercive as their religious counterparts, and I cannot accept that.

Is there some way to civilly and rationally discuss this issue? Even more importantly, is there some way of settling this issue that will respect the rights of all people involved?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The stem cell veto

While I'm ordinarily favorably inclined toward Pres. George W. Bush, his alignment with the religious right causes me problems. He seems actually to believe in their positions, so one cannot consider it "kowtowing to the religious right," but it is unfortunate that a President who has been so good on a lot of issues has to be so bad on this one.

Certainly the stem cell veto has nothing to do with "conservatism" vs. "liberalism": Nancy Reagan, certainly one of the most conservative people in recent politics (it is she who turned Ronald Reagan into a conservative, after all! He'd been a pro-FDR union leader in the forties, if you don't know it), supported the bill strongly, as she was aware of the technological gains that could derive from stem cell research. No, what it does have to do with is the religious right's attempt to conform all of us to their ideas of what is moral and what isn't. And that is the way of the Taliban.

If you go back to the very first post on this blog, I said I believed that "[n]o person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs." And I believe this firmly. One thing that needs to be done is to reclaim the Republican Party from the religious right. It can't be done by voting for Democrats, who have their own agenda which is even more harmful to the nation. But it needs to be done by moving within the Republican Party to support those who are willing to take on the religious right.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

More on Intelligent Design vs. Creationism

One of the earliest posts on this blog had to do with people confounding creationism and intelligent design. It is certainly true that creationists must believe in ID, but not vice versa.

So it is nice to see that a book was recently published by David DeWolf, John West, Casey Luskin, and Jonathan Witt which discusses the difference between the two. I haven't yet read the book, but I've read an interview given by one of the authors in a local Washington, D. C. paper, and it looks like something worth reading.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Giuliani for President?

Recently in a campaign appearance for Robert Ehrlich, running for reelection as Governor of Maryland, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani said he was "considering" running for President in 2008. And Ehrlich made some remarks that almost sounded like an endorsement.

I've already said what I think about Giuliani -- he'd make a great President, but I doubt he can get the GOP nomination. I still think the same, though it is beginning to look as if he's becoming a serious candidate. This blog is not ready to endorse him as candidate for the nomination, but if he's nominated, I'd be happy to endorse him for election, and if Condi Rice (or someone else I like equally) doesn't turn into a competing candidate for the nomination, I will endorse him for the nomination.

Monday, July 03, 2006

John Podhoretz and Rudy Giuliani

Yesterday I saw a book by John Podhoretz, the main thrust of which was that Hillary Clinton needs to be prevented from becoming President, and there are certainly a lot of things that the book says with which I agree. But I’m not going to go into what he says about Hillary here. I noted, however, that the book’s cover mentions that in the book Podhoretz makes a surprising endorsement for the nominee to run against her, and I looked inside to see who it was. It turned out that he supports a person who’s been mentioned favorably by me in this blog: former mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York.

But as I read the chapter in question, it became clear that Podhoretz does not understand what makes Giuliani the person he is. Podhoretz makes the mistake that a lot of dogmatic conservatives (and, in mirror image, a lot of dogmatic liberals) do: he assumes that a person who shares many of his ideas with the conservative (or liberal) dogma agrees with all of that point of view. And thus, Podhoretz thinks that Giuliani’s ideas on such topics as abortion and gay rights are not what he has stated, but are in fact the conservative ideas that Podhoretz would like them to be. He seems to think that Giuliani only proclaimed himself on the so-called “liberal” side of those issues to get elected in liberal New York City. And Podhoretz is wrong.

If Giuliani were to take a position opposed to his real beliefs on any issue for the sake of election, it would be on an economic issue, not a social one. New York City is dominated by organized labor, and Giuliani’s real courage was shown by his taking on the city’s unions. That he was willing to do so shows that he really has the courage of his convictions. I think that part of Podhoretz’s error is in his thinking that, because Giuliani took on an “anti-Catholic” exhibit by the Brooklyn Museum, his loyal Catholicism would not permit him to take a position opposed to that of the Catholic Church on those issues just mentioned. And a Giuliani who is willing to fight the labor unions in New York City is certainly strong enough to have his own opinions on social issues, even when they run counter to Catholic doctrine.

Certainly, it is the opinion of this blogger that Giuliani would make a good President. But Podhoretz’s book misstates the case for him.