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, August 29, 2007

The politics of sex

Larry Craig, a senator from Idaho, recently got arrested in a police sting in a men's restroom and charged with disorderly conduct in a plea bargain. The big headline on the paper I saw this morning was Craig's proclaming he wasn't gay.

That this should matter is really a shame. But Craig is a conservative Republican, and as I mentioned in my Aug. 15 post, some people think that conservatism on some issues means you have to be on all issues, and anti-homosexualism is considered a necessary part of conservatism in many people's eyes. So a liberal like Barney Frank or former governor McGreevey of New Jersey can be gay, but not a conservative senator from Idaho.

That's really stupid. Why a person who is gay can't be a conservative (or vice versa) escapes me. What sexual orientation has to do with economics (or gun control, or almost any other issue in politics) escapes me.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A blog I found

Today I just found http://americasmayor2008.blogspot.com/ (A blog specifically about Giuliani!) While this blog supports him, I don't intend support for Giuliani to be its only raison d'être. But I'll be happy to plug other blogs that I like!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

An insoluble problem?

There seems to be a clash of values among our citizens on the illegal immigration issue, which seems beyond reconciliation -- it's almost as bad as the abortion issue, which I am certain is beyond reconciliation.

Some people are so imbued with the spirit of compassion and sanctuary that they even refuse to use the word "illegal" in describing these immigrants, which of course obfuscates the issue, because to fail to distinguish legal from illegal immigration denies the actual existence of what, to their opponents, is the principal issue: people entering this country in violation of our nation's laws. As a result, pro-illegal-immigrant groups can paint their opponents as xenophobic and racist, which is a false characterization for many. (I have no intention of denying that there are some among the anti-illegal-immigrationists who are xenophobic and racist, but certainly many, probably most, are not.)

On the other hand, on the other side are folks who insist that any action short of mass deportation constitutes an amnesty. It offends me to see the McCain-Kennedy bill characterized as an "amnesty" bill, since the illegal immigrants would have to pay penalties before being granted legal status. A true amnesty would mean automatically granting them this status.

Since the positions are so far apart, with the pro-illegal-immigrant groups apparently insisting on nothing short of a true amnesty and the anti-illegal-immigrant groups calling any attempt at compromise an amnesty, I cannot see any solution.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Karl Rove vs. Hillary Clinton

Yesterday Karl Rove was on such interview programs as Meet the Press, and he had a bunch of negative things to say about Hillary Clinton. Some of the news community seemed to wonder whether he was doing that because he wanted to energize the anti-GOP Democrats to vote for her in the primaries, because he (and Republicans generally) thought she would be the easiest Democrat to beat. Others thought he was doing it for exactly the opposite reason: that Republicans were scared of Hillary. I wonder why they didn't just take Rove at his word: he believes she is the person the Democrats will nominate. Given that belief, there is no reason to attack Barack Obama, or any other also-ran Democrat: it will be Hillary that the Republican nominee will have to run against next year, and so it is Hillary that any Republican will have to put in a bad light. (I hope the GOP nominee is Giuliani, of course, but any Republican has to think the same way: it is Hillary who will be the competition in 2008.) I think Rove's action is totally logical.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Academic freedom and political correctness

Today I read something in the paper that made my blood boil. A clerk at the co-op at the University of Maryland (OK, not an official University organ, but one that gets support from the University) refused to serve a student who was wearing a "We Stand for Israel" shirt. (See http://www.examiner.com/a-883729~The_speech_police_at_Maryland.html ) While the student eventually did get served, after much argument, the student apparently found it necessary (or was convinced) to apologize to the clerk! Apparently it's just fine to be an anti-Semite; I'm sure that no clerk could have gotten away with that kind of behavior to a customer wearing a "Black Power" shirt.

As the editorial shows, political correctness has trumped academic freedom.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Why do they have to go together?

It seems to me that there is too much of an assumption that "if you believe in X, you must also believe in Y" around, where X and Y are two totally unrelated things. There are people who might be described as "economic conservatives" (I count myself among them) and people who call themselves "social conservatives" (I am certainly not among them!) and a lot of people seem to feel that if you are one, you are the other (which obviously is not true for me).

Case in point: There are two radio stations in the Washington, D. C. area which, I believe, are owned by one company and which have been advertising, "You're sure to hate one or the other" -- one, WTNT, is full of conservative talk radio, and the other is its liberal counterpart. I occasionally listen to WTNT and sometimes agree strongly with opinions expressed there, but the other day I was listening to one of the regularly featured broadcasters, Michael Savage. He was going on and on about "perverts," by which he meant homosexuals looking for their rights. I don't know what makes Mr. Savage have such a vigorous hostility to homosexuals; perhaps he's afraid of being confused with Dan Savage, a sex-advice columnist who is gay. But it just seems to me that, whatever your sexual orientation, nobody else's sexual orientation really concerns you unless they try to seduce you, and in that case, it's the unwanted attention, and not the sexual orientation, that is the problem.

Now some "social conservatives" might say it's condemned in the Bible -- and, of course, many people's reading of the Bible would agree with that, though there are obviously some very religious gay people who read that same Bible differently. But we're in a country with a pluralistic religious composition, and nobody has a right to let his religion dictate his politics to the point of banning people whose religion differs from theirs. An interpretation of "conservatism" consistent with my own economic conservatism would be to keep government out of our private business unless it damages someone, and in that case, why get involved in anyone's sex lives unless it negatively affects someone who isn't involved.

Similarly, "social conservatives" try to impose the beliefs of particular religions on areas like abortion on others who do not believe that way, and in general seem to be convinced that their own religion's views on anything trump all others. What this has to do with the essentially "laissez faire" view of economic conservatives escapes me.

Hence the title of this post: Why do they have to go together? In other words, what do they have in common that justifies the word "conservatism" being used for both?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Who's picking fights?

Senate majority leader Harry Reid is quoted as saying, of President Bush, "His comments today once again made clear that he is more interested in picking fights than problem-solving. Our differences amount to less than one percent of the budget..." This quote is even reprinted in the Democrats' own site, http://democrats.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=280358 -- so they seem proud to proclaim this. Well, if I were in some sort of an argument, and I thought that the difference was so insignificant, I'd give in! Obviously, Mr. Reid isn't about to give in -- so I'd say he is the one who is only interested in picking fights!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

And about the Democrats...

Gee, I'm glad I don't have to choose one of the candidates running for the Democratic nomination. They have to appear moderate enough that they don't scare the voters the way George McGovern did in 1972 or Michael Dukakis did a few elections later. Yet they know that only the extremists will control the nominating process. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama is really anywhere near the center, of course, so it's easy for them to please the extremists, but if they really said what they honestly want to do, it would be Dukakis all over again. So they tack toward the center, but they can't go so far away from the left wing extreme that they alienate their base. It is so nice to watch from the outside!