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.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The ridiculousness of COBRA

My wife, until very recently, worked at a store in the Borders chain, and became unemployed when they closed the store (as well as about 1/3 of the stores in the U. S., but about ½ of the stores in this area.) This weekend, she received a letter from Aetna, which runs the health insurance plans at Borders. She was offered the chance to continue her health insurance under COBRA, for about $400 a month.

How anyone could expect anyone to opt into this amazes me. Her unemployment compensation comes to a bit over $200 a week. That means she'd have to spend ½ of her income to get health insurance!

COBRA may have been devised as a way to provide health insurance for the unemployed, but it is a joke. You have only about ½ of the income, but you have to cover the employer's share as well, meaning you'd have to pay double the amount you did as an employed person on half the income. This legislation makes no sense. It does not really serve its purpose, but solely serves to give the illusion that health insurance for the unemployed exists.

It's issues like this that need to be addressed.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The field thins out

This weekend, Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana said he's not running for the Presidency next year. I regret his decision — he was one of the best choices for a candidate to run against Pres. Obama. More and more, it's Mitt Romney that I have to favor, despite some negative vibes.

Of course, Dennis Sanders of the Big Tent Review blog has another favorite: former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. of Utah. The fact that Sanders — whose opinions often come close to my own — is so sold on Huntsman means I could probably support him. But he is very poorly known by the American people. Since people don't generally vote for someone they've never heard of, unless Huntsman can show he can get support from enough independent voters to elect him, I retain my skepticism of him. If he does succeed in getting some public recognition, I'd probably support him. But now I can only say that Romney is my favorite, with some misgivings, and Huntsman warrants looking at.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Israel's borders

President Obama is showing, once more, his pro-Arab bias. His administration is trying to push Israel to go back to its 1967 borders, giving up, for example, the Old City of Jerusalem, which is holy to Jews. And this only on the hope that it might get peace from the Arabs.

Our neighbor, Canada, makes a lot more sense. The Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, understands the situation. The Toronto Globe and Mail reports:
The Harper government is refusing to join the United States in calling for a return to 1967 borders as a starting point for Mideast peace, a position that has drawn sharp criticism from Canada’s staunch ally Israel.

At a briefing ahead of the upcoming G8 summit in France, federal officials said the basis for the negotiations must be mutually agreed upon.

It's a fine kettle of fish when the U. S., usually Israel's staunchest ally, takes a position that, compared to Canada's, is hostile. But what can be expected of a man named "Barack Hussein Obama"?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

More and more, I really dig Chris Christie!

The Fox Nation blog has the following quote:
JERSEY CITY - Gov. Chris Christie refused to comment when asked if he believes in evolution or the theory of creationism when asked at a press conference earlier today.

"That's none of your business," Christie said.
I wish more of our politicians would give answers like that. A governor (or a President) should not be judged on his position on evolution vs. creationism (See Art. VI, paragraph 3 of the Constitution, in the case of the Presidency!)

I wish he were running for the Presidency in next year's election; I'd support him in a heartbeat! Meanwhile, hats off to the voters of New Jersey for electing this man as their Governor.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mike Huckabee opts out

Apparently, Mike Huckabee has opted out of a 2012 run for the Presidency. And I am overjoyed. Former Governor Huckabee is probably one of a small number of Republicans I could not support next year, if he ran against President Obama. His nomination would guarantee my voting for a third-party candidate, who had no chance of winning, as a "plague-on-both-your-houses" vote.

Another blogger, who uses the name "Booker Rising," says in his blog post,
Yes, I'm happy about his decision. The former Arkansas governor isn't a fiscal conservative, and he's too socially conservative for my taste.
I would totally agree.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New York State, conservatives, and gay marriage

Politics in New York State is different from what it is elsewhere. When the "one-man, one-vote" decisions in the Supreme Court came out a few decades ago, New York State happened to have a Republican State Senate and a Democratic Assembly. Both houses have managed to control their own redistricting in the follow-ups to the subsequent decennial censuses, so even now, with the State trending more and more Democratic, the State Senate is still narrowly Republican most of the time. And New York State's electoral fusion laws mean that extremists of the left and right do not necessarily stay in the two major parties, but form smaller parties that aim to swing the major parties in their directions.

It has always puzzled me that the term "conservative" is normally used to encompass both people who (as I mostly do) favor low-tax, more laissez-faire, economic policies (more individualistically oriented) and those who favor moralistic, even bigoted social policies (exactly the opposite of individualistic orientation). But in many states, the Republican Party has linked itself with both groups of people. And "conservatives," similarly, have tried to embrace both (to me opposed) sets of ideas. Barry Goldwater, who was an extreme conservative of the first kind, but very open to gay rights, would roll in his grave to hear the bigoted positions taken by many "conservatives" who revere him.

But in New York State, an interesting development has occurred. Prominent economic conservatives, rich ones who have supported the Republican Party with monetary contributions, are coming out for a gay-marriage proposal by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Hopefully, this (like Theodore Olson's defending gay marriage in California) may help disentangle the economic and social conservatives. They really have little in common, and I see no reason for them to share the "conservative" tag.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Religious extremism and anti-feminism

There are a number of extremely conservative religious groups that refuse to allow women to be treated as equals. In Saudi Arabia, women cannot drive a car or share a classroom with male students; male professors can address them only via closed circuit television.

I would like not to think of my own religion, Judaism, as harboring such ideas, but there are ultra-orthodox strains in Judaism that are just as bad. One group operated a bus line in New York City with women segregated to one part of the bus. Still, I never expected them to go as far as the latest thing I read of.

It seems that an ultra-orthodox paper called "Di Tzeitung" (a Yiddish-language weekly published in Brooklyn) does not publish images of women in its pages. And when a photograph of members of the executive branch of the government being briefed on the killing of Osama bin Laden was sent to the news media, "Di Tzeitung" edited out Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and another woman from the picture! Obviously, anything that might hint that a female could be in a "men's" position is taboo to this paper.

How far will religious extremists go?

Saturday, May 07, 2011

A "debate" that wasn't significant

The Republican candidates were invited to a debate recently. Five showed up. With the exception of Ron Paul (who really has little chance to be nominated) none of the candidates is even well known to the people; one (Herman Cain) lost in the primary of the only election he has contested. Another (Rick Santorum) was a Senator, but got rejected after the voters in his home state of Pennsylvania saw how he conducted himself in two terms. The other two, Tim Pawlenty and Gary Johnson, are qualified, each having served two terms as a state governor, but the fact is that hardly anyone has any knowledge of who they are! So either would need a lot of work on building a public image.

Seems to me this debate will have little effect on the nomination process.

Friday, May 06, 2011

One plus for Pres. Obama

Although, as in my post of yesterday, I hope that I have sufficiently often made it clear that we need to get rid of the Democratic Party and President Obama, because of their stand on economic issues like labor/management relations, this does not mean that we will not give credit where credit is due. Unlike President Jimmy Carter, whose micromanagement caused us to lose the opportunity to free our hostages, Pres. Obama succeeded in getting our military into a position to dispatch the terrorist leader, Osama bin Laden. And this will stand out as one of the few truly positive accomplishments of a President who has mostly hurt the U. S. by his actions.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Democratic Party (and President Obama), a tool of organized labor

As I have said in a previous posting, one reason I hate the Democratic Party is because it is a tool of organized labor. And this was clearly demonstrated by recent actions of the National Labor Relations Board. They have actually sued the Boeing Corporation because it wants to set up a new assembly line in South Carolina, a right-to-work state, rather than expanding operations in the more union-friendly state of Washington.

Some Republican Senators are going to try to retaliate — and I say Good for them! — by holding up some NLRB nominations to the NLRB board, including Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon, who is leading the suit. Unfortunately, until (hopefully by next year's election!) Pres. Obama is removed, it is unlikely that we will see any appointees to the NLRB who are not stooges of the organized labor movement.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Bin Laden is dead? Let us hope so!

According to Al-Jazeera, Osama bin Laden has been killed in a firefight in Pakistan. I don't know whether to believe it, but if so, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy!

Rand Paul, Donald Trump, and the Republican Party

I can't say that Sen. Rand Paul is my idea of the perfect representative of the Republican Party, but I think his comment regarding Donald Trump was right on target. He is quoted as saying, in a New Hampshire fundraiser,
"I want to see the original long form certificate, with embossed seal, of Donald Trump's Republican registration."

Trump, by bringing up the "birther" question, has deflected people from the true question, "Has Barack Obama been a good President of the United States?" There is no real reason to doubt that he is constitutionally eligible; there is no likelihood that he will be removed from office on that ground. What is more important is to have the American voting public remove him from office in November 2012. One wonders: Trump has in the past contributed more money to Democrats than to Republicans. Could this be, in fact, a move to guarantee another term to President Obama, by making it less likely that the GOP can come up with a credible 2012 candidate?

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The problem with the legal profession

The legal profession is the only one where people have to be on the side of evil. A man may be accused of a crime, and until his trial is over, he deserves a defense and the State deserves a prosecution, regardless of what the truth is; even if the prosecutor seriously believes the accused is innocent, it is his job to try to prove him guilty, and even if the defense attorney is truly convinced of his client's guilt, it is incumbent on him to try to convince the judge and jury of the opposite. Among other things, that is why I could never be a lawyer; you really need to be able to persuade a court that black is white, whether you believe it or not.

And this view of the legal profession is one thing that colors the story about Paul Clement and the "Defense of Marriage Act." While I think that Speaker of the House John Boehner is mistaken in hiring Clement to defend the constitutionality of the act, there is a presumption that if you need a lawyer, you should be able to get one, to defend any proposition. And in that sense, Paul Clement was, as Attorney General Eric Holder himself said, "doing what lawyers do." And so Clement cannot really be criticized for taking on the case.

But the law firm that Clement had been working in, King & Spalding, felt, justifiably, that the case was one with which they did not wish to be associated. Thus, King & Spalding withdrew from the case, and Clement resigned from King & Spalding, joining another law firm so he could continue to serve as Boehner's attorney in this case.

In a sense, the whole problem is the nature of the legal profession. King & Spalding did not want to be considered anti-gay-rights, but Clement felt that the pro-DOMA side needed to have his services as an attorney, and thus the result. One can deeply hope Clement loses his case, without criticizing him for acting as he did. And that it qualifies as "doing what lawyers do" is why I think that lawyers are people that have just a whiff of evil about them as a profession.