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, December 27, 2011

The mischief that open primaries bring

There are a number of “centrist” bloggers, such as Solomon Kleinsmith (whose blog I generally like), who believe that our political system would be improved by opening up primaries to non-members of the party involved. I've never agreed with this, and a column in today's Washington Examiner by Byron York, entitled “‘Mischief’ voters push Paul to front of GOP race” caught my eye, making it clear that my reasons are correct. Now I know that when I cite one of York's columns in this blog (as I did very recently), it is usually to disagree with an opinion of his. But this time, he is not so much expressing an opinion as reporting facts. And his facts give me cause for concern:

Ron Paul is surging in the Republican presidential race. Just not among Republicans.

The Texas congressman is leading some polls in Iowa and is in a tie for second in New Hampshire. A candidacy once dismissed as sideshow is now being taken very seriously; the front page of Monday's Des Moines Register featured a huge spread under the headline “COULD RON PAUL WIN?”

Given Paul's views on the Fed, the gold standard and social issues, not to mention his isolationist foreign policy, the polls have left some politicos wondering whether Republican voters have somehow swerved off the rails. But there's another question that should be asked first: Who are Ron Paul's supporters? Are they, in fact, Republicans?

In an analysis accompanying his most recent survey in Iowa, pollster Scott Rasmussen noted, “Romney leads, with Gingrich in second, among those who consider themselves Republicans. Paul has a wide lead among non-Republicans who are likely to participate in the caucus.”

The same is true in New Hampshire. A poll released Monday by the Boston Globe and the University of New Hampshire shows Paul leading among Democrats and independents who plan to vote in the January 10 primary. But among Republicans, Paul is a distant third -- 33 points behind leader Mitt Romney.

In South Carolina, “Paul's support is higher among those who usually don't vote in GOP primary elections,” notes David Woodard, who runs the Palmetto Poll at Clemson University.

In a hotly-contested Republican race, it appears that only about half of Paul's supporters are Republicans. In Iowa, according to Rasmussen, just 51 percent of Paul supporters consider themselves Republicans. In New Hampshire, the number is 56 percent, according to Andrew Smith, head of the University of New Hampshire poll.

The same New Hampshire survey found that 87 percent of the people who support Romney consider themselves Republicans. For Newt Gingrich, it's 85 percent.

So who is supporting Paul? In New Hampshire, Paul is the choice of just 13 percent of Republicans, according to the new poll, while he is the favorite of 36 percent of independents and 26 percent of Democrats who intend to vote in the primary. Paul leads in both non-Republican categories.

”Paul is doing the best job of getting those people who aren't really Republicans but say they're going to vote in the Republican primary,” explains Smith. Among that group are libertarians, dissatisfied independents and Democrats who are “trying to throw a monkey wrench in the campaign by voting for someone who is more philosophically extreme,” says Smith.

Paul tops the field when pollsters ask Republicans which candidate they are certain not to support. “When you ask people which candidate they are least likely to vote for, Ron Paul is pretty high, because most Republicans here really don't want to vote for him,” says Smith. “His support is not coming, by and large, from Republican voters.”

What's true in New Hampshire is also the case in South Carolina, where Paul is 28 points behind Gingrich in the most recent Palmetto Poll. “The economic positions of libertarians are popular here, but Paul's positions on gay marriage, abortion, illegal immigration, and national defense are all antithetical to South Carolina's conservative culture,” says Woodard. “About 13 percent of the GOP primary electorate are military veterans, and they don't want to bring everyone home. We have a strong pro-life network, and it is knit into the Republican Party at its roots, and the amendment declaring marriage to be something between a man and a woman won with over 70 percent of the vote in South Carolina.”

Non-Republicans are sure to vote in all three early GOP contests. Iowa requires that caucus participants be registered Republicans, but anyone can show up on caucus night, register, and vote. In New Hampshire, so-called “undeclared” voters of any stripe can participate in the GOP primary. And South Carolina's GOP contest is open to all. Wherever Paul's final total, it will reflect lots of non-Republican votes.

Of course, next November's general election is open, too, and the Republican nominee will needs significant non-GOP support. But if Paul were the nominee, he would likely lose lots of Republicans, along with independents, and all of the Democrats who cast mischief votes on his behalf. Even his own supporters don't view him as having the best chance to beat Barack Obama.

There will be a lot written in coming weeks about Paul's role in the Republican Party. It's important to remember that a large part of his support isn't coming from Republicans.

This shows what can happen with open primaries or caucuses. And that's why I favor the kind of closed primaries we have in my current state of residence, Maryland and had in the state I grew up in, New York.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

And now, I suppose, the Iowa home stretch

Though Christmas is a “nothing” event to me, I suppose that to the majority of Iowa voters it is. So between now and the caucus day (just over a week away!) the candidates will probably be working hard to convince last-minute deciders in Iowa to choose them — since they have finished concentrating on getting ready for Christmas. It's going to be a concentrated campaign for all of them.

A couple of days ago, Byron York wrote a column in the Examiner blaming Florida for this crazy schedule. Florida moved its primary up to the end of January, so Iowa and New Hampshire had to move theirs up even earlier to be sure they were first. I disagree with Byron York. Who says that Iowa has a right to be the first state to vote on a nominee? Or that New Hampshire has the right to have the first primary? If they weren't so insistent on being first, Florida could move their primary up and Iowa and New Hampshire would just stay at the dates they'd originally chosen. No, don't blame Florida — the real culprits are the people in Iowa and New Hampshire that refuse to let anyone hold a primary before their choices are made.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Obama is good at one thing: propaganda

You have to hand it to President Obama. He managed to convince enough people that the Republicans (or at least the ones in the House of Representatives) were opposed to keeping down the Social Security payroll tax deduction, despite the facts — that the Democrats were insisting on a two-month extension of the tax reduction, while the House Republicans were pushing to extend the cuts for a whole year. Such is the Obama/Reid/Pelosi propaganda machine.

In the end, of course, the House Republicans had to cave: it was two months or no extension at all, and the Democrats had the upper hand. But I find it amazing that the public fell for this. The majority of the people seemed to accept President Obama's characterization of the Republicans. It just goes to show how good his propaganda machine is. I just hope that the people can be led to see through this propaganda haze next year, and reject the Obama administration and replace it with someone like Mitt Romney, who might be able to fix what's wrong with the economy.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Even good guys can do bad things

The motto “Don't Be Evil” of Google is well known. And in general, I think that Google is a good company. I use their Gmail mail service, and I'm impressed with their excellent spam-filtering and I enjoy the fact that since they introduced large amounts of storage, others, like Yahoo!, have had to follow suit. But even good guys like Google can do bad things.

Recently, the fellows at Google seem to have decided that they want Gmail to look better, and they upgraded their interface. The new version does not work with older versions of the web browsers people use to access the Internet. I suppose that the folks at Google figured that the newest versions of most major browsers are free, so there is no barrier to installing them. What they did not allow for is that not everyone uses their own computer to access Gmail.

Most of the time, I read Gmail on my own computer, which has on it the latest version of Internet Explorer. (I will not get into the discussion as to the merits of IE versus other browsers like Firefox, Chrome, etc. I have IE on my machine as my only browser because I've gotten used to it, and none of the alternatives is enough better for me to bother downloading it and learning to live with its quirks — and no piece of software is without its quirks that anyone needs to learn about.) But there are times when I will want to read my e-mail on a computer that is not mine — at a public library, for example. And in my county, the libraries are hurting for money. Many branches only open their doors, on some days, at 1:00 PM, and all branches have shorter hours than they did a couple of years ago. They just don't have the money to pay someone to install the latest versions of software such as IE, especially since most sites work just fine with the version they have. Some people have to use library computers as a matter of necessity, as they can't afford their own. In either case, whether it's just because I don't want to wait till I get home to read my e-mail or because someone has no alternative, I think cutting them off from the ability to access the latest version of the mail system is not a good thing. And this is why I have a bone to pick with Google.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cal Thomas and Christopher Hitchens' death

Yesterday there appeared a column in the Washington Examiner by Cal Thomas, on the death of Christopher Hitchens. The first words in this column were “Perhaps not since Madalyn Murray O'Hair and Carl Sagan has there been such an ‘evangelical’ atheist as Christopher Hitchens, the writer and social commentator who died last week after a long and public battle with esophageal cancer.” I suppose Thomas has not heard of Richard Dawkins, certainly at least as ‘evangelical’ an atheist as Hitchens. But the bigger problem I have with Thomas' column is that he seems to be trying to convince Hitchens, who is obviously incapable of reading Thomas' column.

It might make sense for Thomas to explain his beliefs, and why he holds them. Bur when he quotes Biblical passages as if they are likely to convince the atheists among us, he seems to be totally unaware of the unlikeliness that they will do so. For his column to contain statements like:

To object to God is to create morality from a Gallup Poll. In Gallup We Trust doesn't have the same authority.

Hitchens was a gifted writer, but who gave him the gift? Why was he not a gifted actor, surgeon or athlete? Why was he not talentless? Was it an evolutionary accident, which would mean his gift and his life were meaningless and merely a “chasing after the wind”? (See Ecclesiastes.) Apparently he thought so.

An atheist will tell you he doesn't need God in order to be good, or perform good works. Maybe not, but the very notion of “good” must have both a definition and a definer. “Only God is good,” said Jesus. (Mark 10:18)

clearly assumes that quotes from the Bible alone will convince someone. But an atheist like Hitchens clearly considers the Bible to be simply the work of men, with no more authority than “Das Kapital” or any other propaganda piece.

Now I write this as a believer in God, who however (as a Jew) rejects the Divine origin of such works as the Book of Mark, which Thomas quotes. (Ecclesiastes, of course, is a different story.) But I certainly cannot see a thing that Thomas says in his whole column that is likely to change the view of a convinced atheist. I am certain that Hitchens would maintain that his talent was “an evolutionary accident.”

No, I think that the world shows the hand of a Divine Guide. But I also believe that it is impossible, by any means I can imagine, to change the mind of someone who believes otherwise. So I will explain my beliefs, and my reasons for holding them, to anyone who inquires. But I cannot condemn those who come up with different ones, based on what they see in this world. And I think Cal Thomas is totally wrong to say what he does about Hitchens.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Another person realizes Romney is our best hope.

Tom Bowler writes a blog called “Libertarian Leanings,” in which he describes himself as “a New Hampshire Republican with decidedly libertarian leanings.” As one might guess, many of his posts strike a responsive chord with this “Maryland Republican with decidedly libertarian leanings” (though not all). And particularly, Tom Bowler's blog post, dated December 15th, entitled “Another ‘Not Romney’ Begins To Fade” is worth reprinting — at least this part:

I think what we've been witnessing over the last several months — what with a new front runner every few weeks — is the hope in Republican hearts for more substantial reform succumbing to the dread that Barack Obama will be re-elected. Each “not Romney” front runner stokes the fires of our hope. But then there is the fatal gaffe or a past indiscretion comes to light and fear takes over. Fear that we won't be able to stop Obama from dragging America into stagnation and mediocrity. Fear that the American way of life will be crushed under the weight of an ever more intrusive federal government, a government whose resources are devoted more and more to insulating the governing class from the voters who put them in office.

I'm settling in behind Mitt. This is no time for Republican or Libertarian purity and no time for tossing away the good in a futile quest for the perfect. Mitt Romney isn't perfect, but he will be very good for America. But most important, Obama, Pelosi, and Reid must be stopped.

This is an important point. Perfection is not the goal. Getting someone in the White House that will take us in a different direction from the one charted by President Obama is. Like Tom Bowler, I am certain that that “someone” is Mitt Romney.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Anti-Semites: Ron Paul, and Pat Buchanan -- does the GOP want their kind?

The Washington Examiner has formally endorsed Mitt Romney, but clearly some of its columnists have different ideas. Today I saw a column by Timothy P. Carney, a columnist who has a twice-weekly column in that paper, and who seems to be favoring Ron Paul. Carney refers to Paul as “[t]he principled, antiwar, Constitution-obeying, Fed-hating, libertarian Republican congressman from Texas,” and while his libertarianism has much to recommend him (though it goes to a far-too-extreme degree, by my standards), there is one particular aspect of Ron Paul that Carney seems to deny: Ron Paul's anti-Semitism.

Of course, in that same column, Carney seems to deny that Pat Buchanan was anti-Semitic. And Buchanan has made some statements that cannot be construed any other way. For example,

Indeed, of the last seven justices nominated by Democrats JFK, LBJ, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, one was black, Marshall; one was Puerto Rican, Sonia Sotomayor. The other five were Jews: Arthur Goldberg, Abe Fortas, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.

If Kagan is confirmed, Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats.

Is this the Democrats' idea of diversity?

But while leaders in the black community may be upset, the folks who look more like the real targets of liberal bias are white Protestants and Catholics, who still constitute well over half of the U.S. population.

And there is quite a number of other quotes by Pat Buchanan that can be found, such as (in 1990):

After denouncing a group of commentators with Jewish names, including Abe Rosenthal, Richard Perle and Henry Kissinger, Buchanan wrote: “If it comes to war, it will not be the civilized world humping up that bloody road to Baghdad, it will be American kids with names like McAllister, Murphy, Gonzales and Leroy Brown."

And, (in 2007):

“If you want to know ethnicity and power in the United States Senate, 13 members of the Senate are Jewish folks who are from 2 percent of the population. That is where the real power is at…"

If Buchanan is not an anti-Semite, Hitler was a rabbi! But we are really talking about Ron Paul. And it doesn't take much digging to find quotes by him that demonstrate his anti-Semitism. In fact, the same Examiner that featured Carney's column recently carried a column by Philip Klein, with such notes as:

Nearly three years ago, Israel launched a counterattack on Palestinian terrorists in Gaza who had been firing thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians. In early January 2009, Paul released a web video in which he charged that Israel was launching a “pre-emptive war,” that Palestinians were living in a “concentration camp” and that they merely had “a few small missiles.”

He then repeated this claim on Press TV — the state-owned propaganda channel of Iran's Islamist government. “To me, I look at it like a concentration camp, and people are making homemade bombs,” he said of the situation in Gaza, adding sarcastically, “like they're they aggressors?”

Not only did Paul inaccurately portray Israel as the aggressor, and ignore the Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorist attacks, but he also played into the global propaganda campaign to delegitimize Israel. Israel's enemies think that Jews have exploited global sympathy for the Holocaust, so they routinely liken Israelis to Nazis with phrases like “concentration camp.” That isn't an isolated instance of Paul employing the term. He also used it in 2010, when the Israeli navy blocked a flotilla funded by a group with terrorist ties as it attempted to break the blockade of Gaza — a blockade designed to prevent weapons from reaching Gaza terrorists. Nine of the “activists” aboard one ship were killed in the act of attacking the Israeli commandos who intercepted them — an event well documented on video. In response, Paul again condemned Israel, reiterating his claim that Palestinians were living in “concentration camps” in Gaza.

One can accept Paul's desire to avoid foreign wars as a product of his desire to reduce the role of government in general. But his desire in particular to avoid wars in support of Israel is not just that. It is clearly a sign of an underlying anti-Semitism.

Friday, December 16, 2011

An endorsement that makes sense

I don't always agree with the positions taken by The Washington Examiner, and many of my posts on here have documented my disagreements, but I was very happy to see yesterday's paper, with a headline proclaiming their strong endorsement of Mitt Romney's bid for the GOP presidential nomination, and, on page 2, the whole page taken up with an editorial explaining their reasons for their support.

Their primary reason, of course, is my own as well. It is simply that Romney has the best chance to beat Barack Obama in the election next November. And whatever the flaws that Romney has (and in enumerating these, the Examiner and I certainly differ: some things they consider bad, I'd favor, and vice versa), they cannot compare to the flaws of our sitting President. The Examiner's editorial states that:

…our country simply cannot afford four more years of Obama's record-setting deficits, willy-nilly spending and soaring national debt. His re-election would mean continuing the policies that have brought economic stagnation and high unemployment, and putting federal bureaucrats between Americans and their doctors under Obamacare.

So on this point, the Examiner and I certainly concur, and just because of this need to replace the man in the White House, we must all pull together for Mitt Romney's nomination.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A tale of two predatory companies: Please excuse the rant, but I need to vent

For this post, I guess I should apologize to those of my readers who read this blog with the expectation that I'll be discussing “important” things like the 2012 Presidential campaign. For once, I'm mostly venting about my own frustrations. It just seems that once upon a time, retailers took pride in the things they sold, and manufacturers took pride in the things they made, but those days are gone forever, and people like me have to suffer.

The two culprits in this story are a retail chain called FYE (For Your Entertainment) and a manufacturing company called Digital Products International (DPI, Inc.) making MP3 players (and other devices) under the brand name of GPX. The story actually begins a couple of years ago when I bought an MP3 player from FYE — not a GPX device, but someone else's — and got burned in the racket called “mail-in rebates.” (I wish those would be made illegal — but that won't happen. I sent in the coupon, and in due course got a check for $5. Since that was too small an amount to make a special trip to the bank to deposit, I put it aside, and only discovered it again months later — after it had become stale, so I was simply out the $5. I'm sure the company made lots of money from people like me that never got around to cashing or depositing those rebate checks!) But the MP3 player was a nice thing to have, and when I misplaced it I wanted to get another, so I went to FYE again. (Actually, a different FYE store; the one I had bought the first MP3 player from had closed.) I saw one there, marked down from $19.99 to $12.99 (no “mail-in rebate”! Just marked down, so I was sure to get the reduction.) that actually had a couple of features that made it better for me than the old one, so even if I found the old one, this one would still be worth having. I bought it, and at first I found it seemed to work OK, so there was no reason to hold on to the receipt — as it turned out, a big mistake!

After a couple of days, however, some things weren't working quite right. I couldn't put the device into “random” mode, so I wrote an e-mail to DPI to find out if I'd read the instruction sheet wrong, but this I could live with. But then the machine locked up; it wouldn't play past a particular song, and when it got to that point, I couldn't even turn it off — except by opening it up and taking out the battery! So I wrote another e-mail to DPI.

As it happened, the second one was the first one that got answered. The guy at customer service wrote me a nice friendly note, advising me to reformat the device, and even reminded me to copy the data to a backup so I didn't lose the files. I thought I was dealing with a good company in terms of having professional customer service people, but after following his instructions and reformatting the device, it turned out that it still locked up, only at a different song. So I wrote yet another e-mail. And this one was not answered, so two weeks later I wrote my fourth e-mail (the third on this particular problem — remember that my very first e-mail, about putting the device into “random” mode, hadn't yet been answered!) reminding them of my problem. I got back an e-mail, suggesting I call the company up and saying that this way we could get to the bottom of the problem. Well, as I've said before, I don't like using the telephone, but he gave me a free 800-number, so I made the call, and got to speak to two people — the one who originally answered the call and, as it turned out, the man who had sent me the e-mails — and it was decided that the particular MP3 player I had was defective, so I was advised to return it to the store where I got it for an exchange. I said I no longer had the receipt, so they might not replace it, and they said, “You have a 30-day warranty. They will replace it.”

So off I went, the next time I was in the shopping mall that had that FYE store, to that store, only to be told that without the receipt they could not do a thing. The store manager called another manager, who verified that she could not even give me store credit. Finally she called a general manager, who said that she could replace the device, but only if they had another of the same model in the store. Guess what! They'd sold them all, so there wasn't a single one. So I was out the $13 plus tax, with no recompense! I threw the MP3 player and all the packaging material on the counter, told them they could dispose of it anyway they chose, and left.

Last night, I finally got an e-mail from DPI responding to my first e-mail. Interestingly, the solution was the same as the earlier one: reformat the device. I responded that by this point, this advice was useless. I no longer had the device, and explained what had happened, and told the responder that I would never buy another DPI product again!

I'm still out the money, of course. And I'm no closer to having an MP3 player than I was three and a half weeks ago. But all I can do is make this posting, to warn my readers about predatory companies I've dealt with, so you can avoid them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Newt Gingrich - my evaluation

Since Newt Gingrich is now leading some polls on the GOP nomination race, I think he deserves a longer discussion of what I believe is good and what I believe is bad about him.

One of the things that puzzles me is that many of the people who have problems with Mitt Romney because he changed his mind on so many things have flocked to Gingrich's cause. One thing that cannot be denied about Newt Gingrich is that his own reversals on the issues have been as big as Romney's. (Actually, although I have frequently remarked that nobody's religion should be held against him, I might be faulted for pointing out that Gingrich is a fairly recent convert to Catholicism. But it points out another inconsistency in Newt Gingrich's thoughts. In 2008, Gingrich decided that he wanted to be a Roman Catholic, being officially received into that church in 2009.) I cannot imagine anyone, after reaching his sixties, to decide that the religion he has believed in all his life was wrong and that he belonged in a different one. (Actually, this is his second change — in college he converted from Lutheranism to the Baptist church. Now frankly I find Roman Catholicism an extremely unappealing religion — anyone who can accept that one person is infallible on matters of faith, surrendering his own judgment to that of one man in Rome — or anywhere else — seems to me to be denying his own ability to think straight. But I am not holding his Catholicism against him; it is that, after attaining an age of over 65, he suddenly decided to change his religion.)

Of course, it surprises me that “family-values conservatives” would prefer a twice-divorced, three-times-married man over a man like Romney who has been married to one woman for all his adult life — over 40 years — but this is not really something that matters to me, although I don't see why it doesn't matter to people who keep proclaiming the importance of the family.

My biggest gripe with Gingrich is that — while, on some issues, like the Middle East, I agree with him — he seems to be advocating some strange, even unconstitutional, ideas on other issues, like changing the terms of federal judges so as no longer to be lifetime. (Note: while I firmly agree with Gingrich's position on the Middle East, in a discussion I had with my wife yesterday, she said her position would make her less likely to vote for him — she believes a president who is so firmly on one side of the issue cannot serve as a broker between the two sides. I concede that, but I feel that no American President or anyone else, can achieve peace in the Middle East at this time — the parties are so far apart that compromise seems impossible.)

I do need to say that, if next November I find myself in a voting booth with the names of Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama in front of me, I would have no qualms about voting for Gingrich. Obama's presidency has been so bad that I cannot imagine Gingrich being any worse. In this, Gingrich differs from such as Michele Bachmann, who could not get my vote — not that I would vote for Obama, but Bachmann on the ballot would drive me to vote for a third-party candidate in protest.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Newt has it right in one place, the Middle East

Well, I have to say one thing good anout Newt Gingrich: he has the facts right on the Middle East. A posting by Muriel Kane says:

In an interview with The Jewish Channel released on Friday, Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich called the Palestinians an “invented” people and suggested they have no right to a state of their own.

“I believe that the Jewish people have a right to a state,” Gingrich told the interviewer. “Remember, there was no Palestine existing as a state. Part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs … and they had a chance to go many places. And for a variety of political reasons, we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s.”

Reuters points out that Gingrich’s remarks run counter to official United States policy, which does view the Palestinians as a people with the right to a state of their own.

Gingrich, who said his worldview was “pretty close” to that of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also described the Obama administration’s Middle East diplomacy as “out of touch with reality.” He inisted that Obama and his aides “lie to themselves” about the conflict, which he portrayed as one “between a civilian democracy that obeys the rule of law and a group of terrorists that are firing missiles every day.”

I don't like a lot of what Newt Gingrich has been saying, but on this issue, I agree completely.

Friday, December 09, 2011

One person's take on the GOP nomination prospects

My wife is nominally a Democrat. In fact, she's better described as an independent, though she is enrolled in the Democratic Party, and rarely votes in Democratic primaries. She is significantly to my left, though well to the right of much of the Democratic Party; she voted for McCain in the most recent election. (Though she considered him somewhat too right-wing, she considered Obama too left-wing, and mostly made the decision based on character. She'd found out about Obama's early history, especially the business about Alice Palmer, and she remembered that in the Dole-Clinton election, she thought Dole too right-wing, voted for Clinton, and was sorry about her decision.) At one point, because the economy soured, she had considered Obama's “change” agenda somewhat attractive, and considered voting for him, but character won out in the end. But her attitude has always been more generous toward Obama's attempts to fix the economy than my own attitude. (For more about her, see my earlier post dated November 7.)

She had been employed by Borders for 12½ years, and they closed her particular store in April; since then, she's been looking unsuccessfully for a new job. Finally, last week, she got a “yes”— from Target, for a part-time seasonal job. This week she started, and celebrated, by having a little fancier dinner than she normally considered affordable. And afterward she authorized me to quote her in this blog: “It's a sign how bad this economy is, when getting a part-time seasonal job is cause for celebration.”

She is probably willing to vote for Mitt Romney, if he is the Republican nominee. She is somewhat less likely to vote for Newt Gingrich, though she's looking more favorably at him than she had been. None of the other GOP candidates is likely to get her vote against Obama.

It's people like that that the GOP needs to win next year. One more reason I think Mitt Romney is the only nominee the GOP can choose, if they want any chance at taking over the White House.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

What planet is she on?

In yesterday's Washington Examiner I read a column by Janine Turner that blew my mind. She wrote

Warning: I am going to write something radical.

Merry Christmas.

There I did it.

During the holiday season whether I am at work, at school, at a mall or the grocery store, I am reduced to feeling like a zealot when I utter those two words. As I scurry out the door, I have to resist the impulse to hide like a prairie dog before I am caught by the holiday Political Correctness police.

Though, who needs the police? The look of fear in the eyes of the clerks and other patrons speaks volumes. It's as if at any moment the emergency alarm will be pulled and pandemonium will ensue.

Like a siren in a nuclear power plant, I am exposed. I am a traitor to the New American Way. What is the New American Way? Intimidation. Conformity. Muzzling of free speech. Denial of religion.

As I journey home and put up a Christmas tree, my traditional warm and fuzzy religious experience is disturbed by an annoying angst that a Christmas tree is offensive. If I am a comrade to the cause and following the New American Way, my Christmas tree will now be a "Holiday tree."

As I stand back and admire the twinkling lights, I experience a nagging guilt that I am somehow a religious extremist.

Christmas is under attack. Christians are being silenced by the code of Saul Alinsky, an insidious intimidation creates a new pattern of thought, like a river creates a canyon.

Liberals have perverted the First Amendment to meet their agenda denying others the true intent of its meaning. It's no wonder that they consider the Constitution an ugly word. The Constitution holds them accountable. The New American Way works only by denying it or distorting it.

The First Amendment restricts the government from mandating a religion but it also guarantees the free exercise of religion, not to mention, freedom of speech. Does this only apply to atheistic liberals?

Christians are being denied freedoms to experience Christmas. This is the black and white of the issue.

If children are caught mentioning Christmas in school, they become outcasts, a disturbance, an obstacle to the New American Way. Children who are Christians are being shamed into submission.

Yet, the liberal elite has it all wrong. We are not a country of clones. We are a country of individualism and independence and uniqueness.

Is this not the true intent of the First Amendment? The liberal elite is getting away with blatant attacks on individual freedoms.

The irony is that the liberals pride themselves on their right to provocative uses of freedom such as immersing a cross in urine. Yet Christians can't say, "Merry Christmas" and children can't hand out Christmas cards in school.

All children of all faiths should be allowed to exchange greeting cards that honor their religion. It is the restriction of this freedom, or the mandating of one religion over another, that is wrong.

Things are frighteningly askew in American culture. This has occurred because by nature conservatives are reserved, respectful. Meanwhile, the loud, liberal and loquacious Left have dominated the dialogue.

Christians, and anyone else who holds religious freedom sacred, need to step up to the Christmas tree this year and embrace it for what it is: an expression of the Christian religion. This act does not deny other religions. It merely is an expression of one of many. Should we not be tolerant and respectful of all religions in America?

Christians, or any religion, should not be denied this right anywhere - in the workplace, in the school, in the mall, in the town square.

As Christians uphold their constitutional rights, they also honor other religions. It is our distinguishing quality that make us America. It is our acceptance of these that makes us Americans.

Merry Christmas.

When I read it I thought, “What planet is she on? She can't wish people ‘Merry Christmas’?” I can't get away from Christmas stuff. Yesterday I went into Barnes and Noble and the overhead speakers were playing “Oh come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.” Who is preventing her from doing Christmas things — while I want to have them put out of my life completely, and I can't avoid them? Really!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Romney's Mormonism

Sunday, I was in a Panera or Starbucks (I forget which) having a tea and pastry, and talking to a young student who was becoming interested in politics after having been mostly indifferent. He'd asked me my opinions, and I was explaining that I really wanted to replace President Obama with someone like Mitt Romney, and when he asked why, I started to give my reasons — beginning with the fact that Obama has shown no leadership (allowing Congress to write the health care law, for example) while Romney showed that he could even get his proposals through, even when he had to work with a Massachusetts legislature heavily dominated by the opposite party. The student listened to me and agreed that this was an important point, and a nearby woman interrupted to say, “You know, I totally disagree with you. Isn't he a Mormon?” I said, certainly he was, and then she railed about how only a Christian could have the necessary morality to be President.

Well, first of all, being non-Christian myself, that comment was exactly not the sort of thing that I could accept, and I told her so, adding that the writers of our Constitution were smart enough to put into Article VI the prohibition against any religious test for any public office under the Constitution. As I put it to her, “I don't care whether a Presidential candidate is a Moslem, a Hindu, or even an atheist: and we have a Constitution that says the same thing.” She kept insisting, and I pointed out that probably the most convinced Christian we ever had in the Presidency was Jimmy Carter, but he was not a very competent President. (And at this time, the student commented that Obama was in some ways like Carter, someone who seemed like a nice person, but unable to handle the Presidency.)

Actually, of course, as far as I am concerned, Mormons are Christians: the name of their church is the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” and any church that claims to follow the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and calls him the Christ is, according to my definition, Christian. I have seen too many cases of Protestants and Catholics each denying the other the right to the term “Christian” to say that anyone who claims to be a Christian has to be accepted on his word as one, despite the claims of any other Christian that he is not. But, as it was clear that this woman had her own ideas as to what constitutes a Christian, there was no sense arguing that point with her.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Another one bites the dust

Well, now Herman Cain has withdrawn from the race for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Whether the allegations of sexual harassment lodged against Cain are true or not, enough people will believe him that it is clear his presidential hopes have been shot down. And though some sites say that Cain will endorse Newt Gingrich, the person most helped, of course, is Mitt Romney.

The more conservative elements in the GOP seem to be trying to find someone they like better than Romney. And then one after another either gives up, or botches things so badly that nobody can picture them in the Presidency. It is clear that whatever Romney's flaws (and I admit he has some; I would perhaps have preferred Chris Christie, but he doesn't want to run!) he is the best hope of the Republican Party. And does anyone think that those right-wingers would, faced with a choice between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, vote for anyone but Romney?

Let's face it. Mitt Romney will be the nominee. And those who are trying to push anyone else, deal with it.