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, June 30, 2011

One more step in the vetting of the health care law

A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Cincinnati) has ruled the Obama health care law constitutional. And at least one blog post, by Eli Lehrer in the Frum Forum, predicts that the law will survive. I hope not. But a lot has to happen. Two other Circuit Courts of Appeals, the Fourth in Richmond and the Eleventh in Atlanta, still have to rule. And then, it surely will reach the Supreme Court.

The Cincinnati court was upholding a lower court ruling, in Michigan. Among the District Court rulings, two found it constitutional and two found it unconstitutional. If these courts failed to agree, why does Lehrer believe the Circuit Courts will all agree? And the Supreme Court often overrules circuit court decisions anyway. So this is just one setback for justice. In the long run, nothing has yet been decided.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An Examiner column I really liked

I've recently mentioned some columns and editorials in the Washington Examiner to which I found myself very much opposed. I should, in fairness, cite a column which appeared today, which I applaud unhesitatingly. It was done by Examiner columnist Noemie Emery. (I read it first in the paper; it is now available online as well.) She in turn was responding to a column by Michael Walsh in the National Review Online in which Walsh had said:

"After running one of the most disgraceful 'honorable' campaigns in American political history ... you'd think the least the least of the military McCains could do is to slink quietly off into the wild blue yonder with the thanks of a grateful nation trailing in his wake. But no, at age 74, he's still in the Senate ... where he can continue to reach across the aisle, poke his finger into the eyes of conservatives, hog the media spotlight, rail about Republican 'isolationists,' suck up to Fox News, and unleash his ankle-biting mini-me onto his enemies. Please, just go away."

Emery's response, after quoting this paragraph, began:

This was National Review Online contributor Michael Walsh's pique-bomb for John McCain, R-Ariz., whose behavior was clearly irking him.

But the appraisal is as short on understanding as it is long on rhetoric. McCain's "disgraceful" campaign did a remarkable job under the circumstances in staying close to Obama. He actually led him for two weeks before the financial implosion put paid to his chances.

McCain was also elected to the Senate five times, by fairly large margins. Having put away a movement conservative challenger by a two-to-one margin in the 2010 primary, he has the right and the power to do as he wants. He represents his state — not conservative pundits, to whom he owes nothing. He has the right to poke his finger in the eyes of anyone when he thinks they deserve it. He has the right to rail at "isolationists" when he thinks that they're wrong on the issues. And they, of course, have the right, and the duty, to rail back at him.

And then Emery went on to make it clear that the Republican Party has an identity separate from its conservative wing. And one of Emery's best remarks in that column is:

The Republican Party is conservative in the relative sense that it is the more conservative of the two major parties, and home to everyone in the country to the right of the center, by one degree or by one hundred: to Olympia Snowe and Michele Bachmann, to Jim DeMint and Jon Huntsman, to Rand Paul and Marco Rubio; to Scott Brown and Rick Perry.

There are no "Republicans in Name Only"; only different kinds of Republicans.

Bravo, Ms. Emery. I couldn't have said it better.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Voting methods

Recently I made a post on another blog in which I've expressed some of the same thoughts I'd earlier expressed about open primaries. A subsequent commenter made a posting in which he advocated a system that was originally called "the alternative vote" and is now often called "instant runoff voting." I once liked IRV, but unfortunately it can often lead to a siituation in which centrist candidates are rejected in favor of extremists. So it's particularly unfortunate that someone trying to form a centrist party is pushing IRV.

Readers are encouraged to read the links I've made in this post, also an article on a better system, Bucklin voting, and the best system in my opinion, score (or range) voting. Don't make up your minds untill you are familiar with all the options.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Perhaps people's minds are changing

The New York State Senate passed a gay-marriage bill yesterday. Though the chamber is controlled by Republicans, it was mostly Democratic votes that passed it; four Republicans joined all but one of the Democrats. But it is the first time a Republican-controlled legislative chamber has passed a gay-marriage bill. (See also my posting of May 15, entitled "New York State, conservatives, and gay marriage.")

But the most interesting point in this was a Republican senator representing a Buffalo-area district, Senator Mark J. Grisanti. Although he had campaigned on an anti-gay-marriage platform, the discriminatory features of the current law's permitting only straight couples to marry eventually got to him. He was quoted as saying:

I apologize for those who feel offended. I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the State of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is the same rights that I have with my wife.

Obviously, he gets it. Hopefully, others are going to realize what Sen. Grisanti has.

New York State, unlike California, has no initiative/referendum process. Once the bill is signed by Gov. Cuomo, it will become law in 30 days, and no "Prop. 8" type movement can kill it. So New York is about to become the largest State in the U. S. to permit gay marriage.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Not a good idea, even if bipartisan

A bill has been proposed by Barney Frank and Ron Paul to legalize marijuana. I think it's a terrible idea.

The plus on the bill is it would hand back to the States the right to decide whether the drug should be legal; I think that generally that sort of thing is a good thing, but not in the case of a dangerous drug which (for some reason) has lost its stigma among some people.

Some people argue that it's safer than alcohol and tobacco; I'm not so sure. People have been using those two for centuries; in the case of alcohol, for millennia. People have some idea of the effects of these two drugs, they know the risks, as well as the positive effects. Cannabis, by contrast, is a fairly new drug. On top of all this, it's usually smoked rather than ingested, so the dosage is harder to control than alcohol (though the same as tobacco). I will always say to anyone that claims that cannabis is safer than alcohol and tobacco: "Prove it." Until then, I say, keep it illegal. Let's not give people too many ways to curdle their brains. Alcohol is enough.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Yes, criticize Pres. Obama when he deserves it. But this isn't such a case!

There is a family of newspapers all called "The Examiner," published in various places around the nation, under a common ownership. One of those places is Washington, D. C., and since I live in the Washington suburbs, I get to see that edition of the Examiner regularly, without going online, though the columns appearing there do appear online, so I can link to them. The paper is pretty uniformly conservative, which means I usually agree with them on economic issues and disagree with them on social issues. And today, I saw a column on one of those social issues, and I feel I need to comment on it.

One of their regular columnists is Hugh Hewitt, and his column appeared today, under the title: "Time for government attorneys to stand up to Obama". And although some of the points that Hewitt made have some merit, Hewitt, annoyingly, said:

This president told his DOJ to refuse to defend a federal statute that has never been questioned by any federal appellate court, much less by the Supreme Court, the Defense of Marriage Act.

Now, the way I understand our Constitutional system, when no court has even ruled on a law, and perhaps even up until the Supreme Court rules on it, anyone, certainly including the President, has a right to decide whether he believes that law is constitutional. And Hewitt specifically states that DOMA "has never been questioned by any federal appellate court, much less by the Supreme Court." The way I read the Constitution, this means its constitutionality is open to each American's interpretation. And, since President Obama has sworn to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," if he deems some act of Congress to be unconstitutional, it is acting within the spirit and letter of that oath to refuse to defend it.

I am sure Mr. Hewitt does not read this blog. I wish he did, so I could ask him pointblank: Suppose you were President of the United States, and Congress passed a bill you thought unconstitutional. Would you feel bound to defend it in court?

Are there any readers of this blog whe can make a case for Hewitt having any case there? Does anyone feel there is any compulsion under the Constitution for a President to try to defend an act that he believes to be unconstitutional? I'd really love to see any reason that Hewitt might consider to justify his condemnation of President Obama on these grounds.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Jon Huntsman

I notice a lot of publicity about Jon Huntsman recently. It's not surprising to find two posts in a row over at Dennis Sanders' "Big Tent Revue" blog — he's shown a great liking for Huntsman for some time. But his name is appearing in a lot of places, treated as a serious rival to Mitt Romney, unlike such as Herman Cain (who has about as much chance of nomination as I do) or Fred Karger (who might as well have never declared his candidacy, for all the attention he's getting). So I should weigh in on him. I don't know very much about him, of course. But one newspaper described him as "the only moderate" in the race; that alone tends to incline me favorably toward him, though the comment comes from a paper tht is hardly itself describable as moderate. And the simple fact that Dennis Sanders likes him has to count in his favor, as Sanders' positions and mine tend to be pretty close on a lot of issues.

That's probably enough to say that Huntsman gets a positive rating — if he becomes well-enough known that it looks like he can beat Obama in November of next year, I could easily support him.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Judiciary: guardian of freedom

Just like the days of the African-American civil rights struggles in the 1950s and 1960s, it seems that when the more bigoted elements of our populace want to take away rights and freedoms from some group (currently, gay Americans), it takes a judicial decision to rule in favor of those rights and freedoms. As I posted in this blog last August, bigots trying to kill gay marriage rights in California challenged Judge Vaughn Walker's decision because he was gay and could himself be benefited by a ruling for gay marriage. As I said in that posting, perhaps Judge Walker should have recused himself because this was bound to happen, but the ruling itself was a good one. And so it came to another United States District Court judge, James Ware, who was asked to vacate Judge Walker's decision. (Walker has retired, but this does not figure in any of the discussions here.) And, showing the good sense required of his office, Judge Ware refused to listen to the bigots' pleas. Judge Walker's decision stands — at least unless the voices of bigotry can get an appellate judge to reverse it, which hopefully will not happen

Sunday, June 12, 2011

But will he really do it?

Newt Gingrich is supposed to make a speech tonight to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Beverly Hills, California. In it, he "will pledge that, if elected president, he would sign an executive order on his first day in office moving the American embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv."

I wish I could believe it. But of course, Gingrich is not too likely to be nominated, let alone elected, so he won't get a chance to prove his sincerity.

Not a single President, not even the most pro-Israel of them, has been willing to do this, despite the fact that it is simple courtesy to put your embassy in the capital city of the country it is accredited to. But (perhaps because of Arab oil money), no President has been willing to do this. Because the so-called "Palestinians" want to put their capital there.

I wish people would recognize the facts: there has never been such a nationality as "Palestinian." Before 1948, in fact, the only people living in the area who referred to British Palestine by the name of Palestine were the Jews. The Arabs wanted it considered as part of "Greater Syria." And in 1948, the Arabs were offered a state in the area by the United Nations, but refused it; they wanted all of British Palestine, not just a share of it. When the Jews took the UN up on its offer, the Arabs immediately attacked, but were defeated in the ensuing war, and Israel began its existence with a larger share of the territory than the UN had offered (but still a very hard-to-defend area, with a narrow neck of land in the middle).

But the Arabs never acknowledged their defeat, and still wanted to eliminate the Israeli nation completely. After two more wars, in 1967 and 1982, some Arabs (not yet all, even now!) are willing to accept an Israeli nation, if they go back to the 1948-1967 boundaries! It would be like Mexico wanting to recognize the US only if it gave back the Southwest and went back to the pre-1850 boundaries — this just isn't going to happen.

The only way to settle the Arab-Israeli question is if the Arabs are willing to accept Israel's existence and negotiate with them to determine what portion of the territories won by Israel in 1967 will Israel willingly return, in exchange for a true cessation of hostilities. The Arabs have no case: they must realize that, like Japan in 1945, they have to rely on Israel's good will. They cannot keep acting as if they can dictate terms to Israel.

But I don't think they are ready to do that. How many more wars will it take?

And why can't a US President do what Newt Gingrich says he'll do?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Looks like these judges get it!

According to the Associated Press,

Judges on a federal appeals court panel on Wednesday repeatedly raised questions about President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, expressing unease with the requirement that virtually all Americans carry health insurance or face penalties.

All three judges on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals panel questioned whether upholding the landmark law could open the door to Congress adopting other sweeping economic mandates.

And later on in the same story:

...the pointed questions about the so-called individual mandate during almost three hours of oral arguments suggests the appeals court panel is considering whether to rule against at least part of the federal law to expand health care coverage to tens of millions of Americans.

It is absolutely clear to me: the individual mandate is unconstitutional. And now, even some Democratic-appointed judges are feeling that way. (Two of the three judges on the 11th Circuit Court panel are Clinton appointees.)

It won't be finally decided until the Supreme Court gets to rule. But more and more, the unconstitutionality of this is being recognized by the Federal judiciary.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The cure is worse than the disease, but then, he doesn't believe there is a disease.

Gregory Kane is a columnist whose column appears in (among others) the Washington Examiner, a newspaper I regularly read. He's one of those rare individuals who is African-American, but politically conservative, and he recently wrote a column that made me gag — not the first I've seen out of him, but one of the worst.

The column is also on the Web, under the title "Worried gays should check out the Pink Pistols." It starts off making a number of anti-gay-rights comments, not horribly surprising since Kane usually agrees with "social conservatives" on the issues where I differ strongly with them, such as gay rights, separation of church and state, etc. (He particularly does not like the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," thinking it's going to lead to lascivious behavior of gay servicemen towards other servicemen, rather a predictable attitude, as ridiculous as that seems.)

But then comes the kicker: He transitions from his anti-gay rhetoric to the following:

What's needed is ... more Pink Pistols chapters nationwide. The Pink Pistols are, far and away, my favorite LGBT organization.

Pink Pistols members don't wait for presidential proclamations or congressional statutes for their protection. Their goal is to protect themselves.

In short, they carry firearms for "self-defense." Just what we need — more gun-toting people who feel they are at risk (sarcasm intentional). I don't know about you, but I don't want to see anyone carrying a gun around (other than a policeman or a military person who needs it to do his/her job) — but anyone who might feel they aren't gaining enough respect? He/she might shoot because of a perceived slight that wasn't real, and aim poorly, and I might be hit just because I'm passing by, even if I have nothing to do with what's going on.

But Kane doesn't think of such things. He just wants the NRA's version of the Second Amendment to apply (his post, on the Web, is even tagged "nra"!) And he doesn't care about danger from guns — he just thinks that as little as he likes gay people, if they can help him make a case for an armed society, he'll use them. To him, guns aren't dangerous. To me, they are. And even though he doesn't seem to care about the discrimination that inheres in "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" he thinks that anti-gay discrimination is just another thing that will go away if people are free to shoot other people on the slightest provocation.

Sorry, Mr. Kane, but this column is a poster case of ideas that meet with my disapproval up and down the line: you're wrong on gay rights, wrong on guns, WRONG!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Not conservative enough? Rick Santorum? Weird...

As I said yesterday, Rick Santorum is probably the candidate I like least, now that Mike Huckabee has taken himself out of contention. But this is because I think he is too far to the right, particularly on social issues. So I was ill prepared to see a column in today's Washington Examiner chastising Santorum for not being conservative enough!

It seems that what Examiner columnist Timothy Carney finds objectionable is that, back in 2004, Santorum and Pres. George W. Bush backed the re-election campaign of Arlen Specter.

In that year, Specter represented the GOP's best hope to retain that seat in Pennsylvania. Any good Republican should have backed Specter, given that nominating a more conservative candidate risked giving that seat to the Democrats. (Sure, six years later, Specter, tiring of fighting arch-conservatives in Republican primaries, switched to the Democrats. And Pat Toomey, the same man who had challenged Specter in the GOP primary six years earlier, actually won the Senate seat! But 2010 was a different thing from 2004. And it is very unlikely that Toomey would have won in 2004.)

But Carney is so enamored of ideological purity that he considers Rick Santorum insufficiently conservative. This sort of weirdness amazes me. And it's the kind of thing that makes it hard for me to stay a Republican — but, of course, it's the extremism of the Democrats in the opposite direction that keeps me in the GOP.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Another not-so-good choice

Well, as of this past weekend, Rick Santorum has declared his candidacy. And while he's not as bad as Huckabee, he's someone I really hope cannot get the nomination.

Santorum is one of the most extreme of the "social conservatives," with strong opinions against homosexuals, and other far-right positions. As I've stated in previous posts, the "social conservatives" are what are making it hard to be a Republican these days, with positions I cannot accept on many such issues, from abortion to gay rights. And so Santorum is, to me, one of the least preferred of the candidates for the nomination.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

A local straw poll

I just received an e-mail notifying me of the result of a straw poll that was taken locally in my county. It said:
Romney Wins Montgomery County Republican Straw Poll

Former Massachusetts' Governor Romney edged Christie, Giuliani and Pawlenty in voting by Maryland Republicans Former Massachusetts' Governor Mitt Romney was the winner of a straw poll conducted by the Montgomery County Republican Party on May 28 and 29 at the Hometown Holidays Festival in Rockville, Maryland.

Of the twelve Republican candidates on the ballot, Romney captured 17 percent of the vote, narrowly edging New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who received 15 percent of the vote and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani with 13 percent of the vote. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty received 11 percent of the vote.

CandidatePercent of Vote
Mitt Romney17%
Chris Christie15%
Rudy Giuliani13%
Tim Pawlenty11%
Michelle Bachmann8%
Ron Paul7%
Herman Cain6%
Newt Gingrich6%
Sarah Palin6%
Jon Huntsman4%
Rick Santorum4%
Other Candidates/No Preference3%

I took part in this straw poll, and mine is among those counted for Mitt Romney. BUT...of course, Chris Christie was not really running, and Rudy Giuliani (who is actually the person I'd love to vote for) hasn't a chance at the nomination. (I spoke to the person who was collecting the ballots, and he agreed with me: Giuliani is the best of the candidates, but he's not conservative enough to win a Republican nomination.)

I wonder how the result would be if this straw poll had been conducted with everyone voting for the one they would really like, and especially if something like "approval voting" were used, so one could choose more than one. For my real favorite (if the likelihood of winning the nomination were excluded from consideration) is, as you might gather from my earlier posts, Giuliani, and I would also rank Christie high, perhaps above Romney. I suspest there are others in that poll who feel like me.