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.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Arlen J. Specter (1930-2012)

Yesterday, it was reported that former Senator Arlen J. Specter of Pennsylvania passed away. I have rather mixed feelings about Specter: for many years he was one of the politicians I most admired, but three years ago he made, I believe, a serious mistake which lessened my esteem for him.

I first heard of Arlen Specter, probably, many years before most of the readers of this blog. In 1965 I took a new job in Philadelphia, and I heard of this new district attorney who was fighting corruption in the Philadelphia city government. This was Arlen Specter, and I was impressed by him from this point. As it happened, that was the year he left the Democratic Party to join the Republican, and for the next 44 years, Arlen Specter represented the kind of Republicanism that I too tended to favor. In fact, when he sought the Presidency in 1996, I supported him, but he dropped out very early in the race.

Arlen Specter was born in Kansas (not a place with a lot of Jews, but that was where his family settled!) but made his political career in the city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania. Though I was never a Pennsylvania voter, I often felt that he was “my Senator,” since he tended to vote my way — until near the end of his career. In 2009, he concluded that the Republican Party was coming under the control of far-right conservatives, and, saying that “I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy of the Democratic Party,” he became a Democrat again. To me, this was his biggest mistake, because although he probably did this under the idea that he could not win a Republican primary in 2010, as events showed subsequently, he was not able to win a Democratic primary either that year. What he did not realize, probably, is that just as right-wing extremists were consolidating their influence in the Republican Party, left-wing extremists were consolidating their influence in the Democratic Party, and he was no more a typical Democrat than a typical Republican. But following this, of course, he moved leftward himself, voting for “Obamacare” and other extremist-inspired Obama administration legislation.

But it is not the 2009-2010 Arlen Specter that I think of when I remember him — rather, the Arlen Specter that served with distinction from 1980 to 2009, the voice of the sort of moderate Republicanism that I too favor. And it is to that Arlen Specter that I say, farewell.

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