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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Intelligence

A couple of days ago I was in a meeting of a bunch of people and talking about James Garfield, whom I described as "one of the smartest Persidents we've ever had." The person I was talking to remarked "as opposed to the present one." For some reason, it seems that liberal Democrats in general downgrade the intelligence of conservative Republican presidents; I've heard Eisenhower, Reagan, and our current Pres. Bush described as idiots. (John Kerry once said, according to quotes I've seen, "I can't believe I'm getting beaten by this idiot!" Yet when they were both students at Yale, Bush's grades were slightly higher than Kerry's, which seems to give a different picture.)

Obviously, anyone who can earn degrees from two of the best-reputed universities in the US (Yale and Harvard) is no idiot, and is likely pretty smart. And Pres. Bush is just such a person. Dwight Eisenhower was the general in charge of the World War II effort. And I'm quite sure Ronald Reagan was no idiot either, though I cannot point to specific intellectual accomplishments.

What it seems to be is that anyone who, looking at the facts of the world today, comes to conclusions different from those reached by our liberal Democratic commentators, cannot possibly be intelligent. What a bunch of garbage!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mitt Romney, "social conservatives," and pornography

Today I saw a headline on a local newspaper: "Romney plans attack on pornography to try to woo social conservatives." (The online version of the paper puts it slightly differently: http://www.examiner.com/a-836030~Romney_plans_attack_on_porn_to_please_conservatives.html leaving out the word "social," but obviously it means the same.) I had originally, on seeing this headline, planned to write a post on how "social conservatives" are a cancer infesting the Republican Party and how Romney is turning me off more and more; I think that pornography is hardly the crowning issue of this campaign, but cracking down on it is as stupid as cracking down on alcohol in the 1920s was, and pornography actually has its good points; a person who might be impelled to commit a rape might be more harmlessly able to give vent to his feelings by looking at it, and certainly if Bill Clinton had looked at porn instead, he might not have wrecked Monica Lewinsky's life, to give two examples.

But on reading the article, I saw more reason to sympathize with Romney's position. He was not talking about porn in general, but about porn directed toward people's e-mail boxes against their wish. Just as I feel people should have the right to look at porn -- no matter how disgusting others might find it -- I also feel people should have the right to control what they look at in a negative way: to decide what they do not want to look at. And on that point I fully agree with Mitt Romney.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dishonest terminology

As I was sitting in a Starbucks this morning and noticing that "tall" is the smallest size they offer, and "grande" (which means "large") is really their medium size, it occurs to me that people seem afraid to use honest terminology. (Of course, Starbucks' competititors do use "small, medium, and large," so not everyone is afraid to be honest. But Starbucks is by far the biggest in the business.)

Nobody is "pro-legalized-abortion" or even "anti-legalized-abortion"; they are "pro-life" or "pro-choice." As if the only thing alive is a fetus; "pro-life," after all, could mean "anti-euthanasia" or "anti-death penalty," of course. And as if the only choice anyone makes in life is whether or not to abort an unwanted fetus; "pro-choice" could mean "anti-affirmative action," "anti-union-shop," or "anti-compulsory-anything," for Heaven's sake!

Recently pro-labor-union Congressmen introduced something called "the Employee Fair Choice Act." What it really meant was to make it easier for labor unions to intimidate workers into voting for a union, by depriving them of a secret vote in labor representation elections. But obviously, to them a choice to unionize is fair, while a choice not to unionize is unfair!

Obviously, I could multiply cases of dishonesty in terminology, but these examples make it clear that nobody has a monopoly on such dishonesty.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Names!

Seems like there is a New York Times blog called "The Opinionator." Just discovered it today. Well, just to keep things straight, I have nothing to do with The Times. (As though you couldn't tell, given the great divergence in our positions!)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The other candidates

I have already indicated that my favorite among the candidates for the 2008 Presidential election is Rudy Giuliani. But what about the others?

John McCain seemed at first to be the likely GOP nominee. But he's fallen victim to the problem that he had been all things to all people. He had a lot of support from independents and Democrats who had mistakenly thought he was less conservative than the typical Republican -- not being familiar with his record. And when he became more hawkish than even President Bush, that lost him most of the support he had from those independents and Democrats. Meanwhile, his positions on campaign financing and immigration kept him from getting support from the Republican right wing. So he had neither the left nor the right, and his campaign seems to be spent. In a sense, that's a shame; I like a lot about McCain, but really, one fewer serious rival to Giuliani is probably good for my own wishes.

Mitt Romney, like Giuliani, has going for him the fact that he can win in liberal areas, a good thing for a Republican candidate. But unlike Giuliani, he seems to feel he has to recapture the right and thus disavow all his previous positions where they are not sufficiently right-wing for them. Giuliani has not reversed himself on anything; he just has felt it necessary to show where he is truly conservative, and has made these issues salient. I think that (unlike his father, who I eagerly supported for President several election cycles ago) Mitt Romney is someone who can't totally be trusted politically. I'll support him if he gets nominated to run against Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, but without a lot of enthusiasm.

None of the other Republicans has a chance. Fred Thompson seems to be the current choice of the Religious Right, which makes me doubt him, but he doesn't really have all that much support (and, while he has more experience than Barack Obama, it isn't very much!) Ron Paul brings a lot of libertarian fresh air to the House of Representatives, but he's too dogmatically extreme in his libertarianism to be President, and I think most Republicans know this. Brownback, Tancredo, Hunter, and the like are not names most people recognize, and that even the extreme religious Right has abandoned Brownback (one of their own!) for Thompson makes it clear that none of them has a chance.

On the Democratic side, there are two serious candidates, Obama and Hillary Clinton. Both try to talk like centrists, but their votes have been extremely left-wing in the Senate. No way I could support either of them. And none of the other Democrats has any more chance of getting the Democratic nomination than Tom Tancredo on the Republican side, so there's no sense even discussing them.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I suppose I should make it official

Some time ago I discussed the possibilities of nominating Rudy Giuliani and Condoleezza Rice, and at that time I thought that either of them would be a favorite choice; but Rice didn't want it and Giuliani's chances of nomination seemed minimal because the religious Right had so much influence in the GOP. Well, things have worked out differently than I expected, and Giuliani seems to be in good shape for the nomination. So I might as well make it official: this blog is supporting Giuliani for the nomination.

He doesn't agree with me on everything, but he is closer to me on all the major issues than any other announced candidate of either party, so I'm happy to declare my support.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Why I am a Republican

Last night I was at a meeting of an organization I belong to, and afterwards another regular mentioned to me that he had wondered why I was a Republican. There were a lot of others there and I didn't want to spend a lot of time discussing the matter because I knew that others might break in and the nature of the group meant I'd probably be so grossly outnumbered that it would be an unpleasant experience, so all I did was repeat a line I'd put into a letter to the editor of a local newspaper; "...the Republicans are the party of freedom, and the Democrats are the party of 'socialism light.'" This led to further arguments afout "Star Wars" and President Clinton, as I feared, and I never got to say much more on the "why" question.

But it seems to me that there are two parts to the answer: why I became a Republican, and why I remain one. The first is so easy: I grew up when New York City, my birthplace, was dominated by the Democrats and under the thumb of a corrupt Democratic machine (popularly called Tammany Hall) while both the President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the Governor, Nelson A. Rockefeller, were in my mind doing a good job of running their respective governments. Comparing the two parties' records left me a clear decision to make, and I joined the Republican Party in my mind well before I could in fact -- you had to be 21 to register and vote then, so I could not officially join the party till I was 21, but I've been a Republican in fact since I was in my early teens.

Now, I find myself in agreement with Republicans on some issues and with Democrats on others. (For a good summary of my beliefs, see my first post on this blog, back in February 2006!) But it seems to me that on the issues I consider most important, I'm with the GOP, and that is why I am still a Republican.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A view on Iraq

Right now the most divisive issue in the country seems to be the Iraq war. It is becoming another Vietnam, and unfortunately people derived the wrong lessons from Vietnam. The biggest lesson we should have learned from Vietnam is that if the people do not back the U. S. military effort, we will lose.

In Vietnam, we were winning. The Tet offensive was a desperation move by the other side, and all military people who have evaluated the situation in retrospect agree that it was a major defeat for the North Vietnamese. But because Communist sympathizers in the U. S., as well as pacifists who saw no reason to maintain the struggle against world Communism, prevailed upon the Congress to withdraw support for our military efforts, we gave up, and today Vietnam is one of four countries in the world (the others being China, Cuba, and North Korea) still under Communist domination, even after Communism has been erased in the country where it first took power (Russia) and everywhere else where it had taken over except for those four.

We did one thing very right in Iraq -- removed the genocidal dictator, Saddam Hussein, from power. We did one thing very wrong there -- refused to accept that Iraq is an artificially-united country, which should have gone the way of Yugoslavia, divided into a number of smaller, more homogeneous nations. A Kurdish state in the north, a Sunni Arab state in the center, and a Shi'ite state in the south would make more sense than a united Iraq. But once we got in there, it is imperative that we not give al-Qaeda the satisfaction of knowing they could drive us out. They would certainly impose a Taliban-style theocratic dictatorship there, where even most Sunnis could not feel at home.

What we need to do now is to try to establish some sort of order in Iraq, while building up the pro-democracy forces in all three communities. I do not know how we can back out of our support for a single united Iraq, though we need to find a way to do so. A multi-ethnic federal state can only work if all parties want it to: Switzerland is a successful example; Yugoslavia an unsuccessful one; Belgium is a question right now.

But withdrawing now, or even promising to withdraw by some specified date, is simply a recipe for insuring a Vietnam-style failure. If we say we will withdraw by some specified date, al-Qaeda's leaders only have to sit tight till one day after that date. This is not the way to go.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Cindy Sheehan's delusions of grandeur

Cindy Sheehan must really think she's something really big. Now she says that if Nancy Pelosi doesn't file an impeachment motion against President Bush, Mrs. Sheehan will run as an independent against Mrs. Pelosi in the 2008 Congressional election. Does she really think she can unseat her?

I have no great love for Nancy Pelosi -- in fact she's probably, of all major politicians in this country, the most antithetical to everything I'm for -- but in her San Francisco district, she is extremely popular. And as Speaker of the House, a position that an independent Cindy Sheehan could never hope to get, she brings an importance to that district that probably would gain her some votes that go beyond her personal popularity.

Just what does Cindy Sheehan think she can accomplish by this threat?

Reviving this blog!

It's been about a year since I last posted on this blog. I guess it's hard to keep up the enthusiasm when there's no sign that anyone's been looking at the blog. But I'm going to try to revive the blog now, and post more frequently. If anyone is looking at the blog, I hope they'll comment on a post!