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.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fidel for Obama!

Looks like Sen. Barack Obama got himself a new backer: Cuba's Fidel Castro! (see this story.)

Of course! They are both of a similar mind — America is evil and needs to be changed.

One more reason to support John McCain for president!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Failed foreign policy"?

Barack Obama keeps referring to "Bush's failed foreign policy." Well, to me it looks like one that is succeeding, although not yet completely. When George W. Bush became President, Saddam Hussein was slaughtering Kurds and anyone else who disagreed with him in Iraq, and the Taliban was presiding over an Afghan government that would criminalize a kid for flying a kite, or a girl for going to school. Today, Saddam Hussein is in his grave, and the Taliban is fighting a rear-guard action to try to take back portions of Afghanistan, while both Afghanistan and Iraq have governments that are far closer to democratic than the ones they replaced. I would call that success, not failure — at least partial success, anyway.

Meanwhile, Sen. Obama has proposed a foreign policy that truly can be described as failed. One might ask — how could his foreign policy be considered to have failed, when it hasn't been tried? Well, it has been tried — not in the United States in the 2000's, but in Great Britain in 1937! A certain Neville Chamberlain became Prime Minister that year. Like Obama today, he believed you could talk to genocidal dictators in the same way as you might to honorable men who lead democratic governments. He met with Adolf Hitler in Munich, Germany, and gave him what he wanted, control over the nation that was then called Czechoslovakia. And he returned from Munich proclaiming that he had brought "peace in our time." "Our time," apparently, lasted two more years, until Hitler invaded Poland and World War II began, at least for the European nations. (We stayed out of it until we were ourselves attacked by Hitler's Japanese ally.)

But Sen. Obama doesn't seem to know this history. He wants to show that the way to go is the way that Chamberlain tried 70 years ago. It failed then, and it won't work now.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The California Supreme Court's gay marriage decision

We have often, on economic and foreign policy matters, found common cause with the people who call themselves conservatives. But on most social issues, they are on opposite sides of the issue from my own feelings. I am sure this will be equally true with regard to the new California Supreme Court decision.

I have never understood why conservatives, who believe that in the economic sphere the government should be minimally involved, letting the market mechanisms do their thing, suddenly, when the issue is social, take the position that the government should take a stand and ram that position down the throats of the people. If two gay people get married, who does it hurt? It certainly doesn't affect a straight person's ability to marry whomever he or she wants.

Some people have said that there is no equality issue here, that gay people are trying to win special privileges that straight people do not have -- I suppose, because straight and gay people alike have the right to take an opposite-sex spouse. Well, Anatole France is quoted as saying: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets or steal bread.” Obviously, just in the same way as rich have no particular reason to "sleep under bridges, beg in the streets or steal bread," gay people have no particular wish to take an opposite-sex spouse.

Some people have claimed that, by requiring the state to recognize gay marriage, the rights of clergymen who do not want to officiate over such marriages are somehow interfered with. Well, to my knowledge, no Catholic priest has ever been forced to officiate at the marriage of a divorced Catholic, and no Jewish rabbi has ever been forced to officiate at an interfaith marriage. If clergymen are now allowed to refuse to marry people whom their own religion forbids to get married, they certainly will continue to be allewed to do so. We are talking about state recognition of marriages, and we live in a country with Church/State separation.

Another point is that, in a referendum, the California citizenry voted to ban gay marriage. I am sure that in any Southern state (and possibly some Northern ones) the citizenry, if provided with a referendum vote on the subject prior to 1954, would have approved of segregation. But we do not allow the majority to take away the minority's rights. That is a fundamental principle of the American democratic system.

So I cheer the California decision.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A letter-to-the-Editor that I fully endorse

The following letter appeared in today's Washington Examiner paper. It was so good that I repost it here as my own thoughts:

Barack Obama will be judged by friends he kept

Re: “Don’t judge Obama by Rev. Wright’s words,” From Readers, May 5

Let’s put this to rest for once and for all: Barack Obama will be judged by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s actions. Any reasonable person who sat through 20 years of this mean-spirited, anti-American rhetoric and did not walk out in disgust must have either been in a coma or agreed in part to what was being preached. You are judged by the friends you keep, the views you display and the morals you practice. All of which can be influenced at your religious center of faith. If John McCain or Hillary Clinton had been attending Aryan Nation meetings or KKK rallies, you bet they would be scolded and berated. Unfortunately, folks, it goes both ways. Get over it!

This country has finally broken the barrier keeping women and African-Americans from becoming serious contenders for the presidency. But they should certainly count on the fact that they will be vetted — as would any other candidate — on the way they view the world. I, for one, want to know that before I cast my vote.

Marc Sieracki