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.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The "Atruthful" Obama?

Tom Bowler's blog, “Libertarian Leanings,” has a new post, dated today, called “The ‘Atruthful’ Obama,” with some accurate things to say about our current President. It begins:

Amoral is defined this way:

1. not involving questions of right or wrong; without moral quality; neither moral nor immoral.

2. having no moral standards, restraints, or principles; unaware of or indifferent to questions of right or wrong: a completely amoral person.

Substitute the words "truthful" and "untruthful" for "moral" and "immoral" in the definitions above, and you get a pretty good feel for Barack Obama's politics. For Obama, truth is completely irrelevant.

Benghazi is a good example. Five days after the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans at the consulate in Libya, Obama ordered his UN ambassador Susan Rice to go out to all the Sunday news shows to blame their deaths on a Youtube video that was supposedly so insulting that it sparked rioting throughout the middle east. It was such an unlikely story, but it was one that fit in with Obama's image. His presidency by itself was supposed to cast a new and attractive light on America for the Muslim world to see. The planned terrorist attack destroyed that narrative. Benghazi was a protest.

Later on President Obama himself went to the UN where he repeated his protest story in a speech to the General Assembly. Then weeks later during a presidential debate against Mitt Romney he contradicted all that. To Romney's obvious bafflement, Obama said that he had called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror the day after it happened. Almost everybody was caught be surprise, except the debate moderator. In what looked to have been a beautifully choreographed move, Candy Crowley jumped into the debate to declare that, yes, it was true. She had specifically looked into it and she could confidently support what the president said. Time to move on to our next debate topic. Sorry, we really don't have time for more questions on this. Obama would not have to face questions on where the protest story came from.

Remarkably, Barack Obama went on to win the election. In the midst of the most dire economic circumstances we've experienced in the last half century, Obama managed to beat out the guy who made a fortune rescuing companies from their own dire economic circumstances and putting them back on their feet. If ever there was a man equipped to deal with the hardships facing our country, it was Mitt Romney. Yet the atruthful Obama beat Romney, the turnaround artist.

He did it without offering any kind of a plan to deal with the worst unemloyment in 30 years, or any plan to deal with the rest of our economic problems. After running trillion dollar deficits for four straight years, boosting the national debt from $10.6 trillion to more than $16 trillion, he managed to sucker just enough people into believing he would fix everything by taxes on 2% of American taxpayers. Arithmetic anyone?

Obama said what he had to say, himself and through surrogates.

He said that Romney and the Republicans were waging war on women because they didn't believe the Catholic Church should be forced, against Church doctrine, to pay for women's birth control. He said that Romney got rich destroying companies, not rescuing them. He said Romney was a felon, that he misrepresented his position on corporate filings to the SEC. He said Romeny was responsible for a woman's cancer death. Her husband lost his job when the company Romney rescued went under, long after the rescue and long after Romney's involvement. The woman died six years later.

No matter that there was no truth to any of it. Barack Obama said whatever would defeat Mitt Romney. And that's where we are now. America's rescue has been put on indefinite hold. Obama won.

In place of any expectation of economic growth we have a "fiscal cliff" before us. A confrontation between Obama and Republicans over spending and taxes looms. It was contrived by Obama because he thinks that any confrontation with Republicans is one that he will win it. He might. Obama will say whatever he has to say to do it. He said so.

There is more. Read it yourself.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Two Cabinet nominations

As soon as the Senate can confirm them, two new occupants will take over the two most important Cabinet positions: Seretaries of State and Defense. It would appear that President Obama originally thought that any African-American woman named Rice would be a shoo-in for Secretary of State. But Susan Rice, though one might think qualified — she has been Ambassador to the United Nations — is no Condoleezza. And her conduct in the face of the killing of our Ambassador and several others in Benghazi was so disgraceful that she was led to realize her chances were hopeless, and she begged off before her name was formally submitted to the Senate. The proposed nominee is John Kerry, the Massachusetts Senator and Presidential candidate of the Democrats in 2004. Although, to me, it seems like an overly partisan choice, Kerry seems to be popular among his fellow Senators and looks likely to be confirmed. Apparently the other Senators seem to think he will represent us well before the world. (And among Republicans, the chance that the resulting vacancy will be filled by Scott Brown seems a plus.)
The other position, Secretary of Defense, is more problematic. A former Senator, Chuck Hagel, is President Obama's choice. As a Republican, this even looks as though the President is making an attempt to reach out to the GOP. The problem is that Hagel, though a moderate on domestic affairs, has a record on foreign policy that shows him as quite hostile to Israel — some call him anti-Semitic, though at least one posting I saw says that calling him by that adjective goes farther than is justified. It does not matter whether Hagel is a true anti-Semite; he will not be confirmed, since the Senate is more sensitive to Israel policy than President Obama is. It is obvious that the President will have to come up with another name.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Republicans and racial equality

I have seen a lot of online postings of columns from two Boston newspapers, the Herald and the Globe. The Herald is, apparently, the conservative paper in Boston, the Globe, which is owned by The New York Times, is very liberal. So it surprised me to see a post online of a column in the Globe by Jeff Jacoby, entitled A party that doesn't think with its skin. The gist of the article is to point out that the Republican Party, often criticized as racist by its opponents, is the one that is actually walking the walk on racial equality, as demonstrated by Gov. Nikki Haley's appointment of Tim Scott to the Senate. I would like to quote this column:

South Carolina's conservative Republican governor, Nikki Haley, is the daughter of Sikh immigrants from Punjab. US Representative Tim Scott of Charleston, a Tea Party hero who was raised in poverty by a divorced single mother, is South Carolina's first black Republican lawmaker in more than a century. To anyone who shares the ideals that animate modern conservatism — limited government, economic liberty, color-blind equality — it stands to reason that Haley and Scott are conservatives. And their Republican affiliation should surprise no one familiar with the GOP's long history as the party of minority civil rights.

But many people aren't familiar with that history. So relentlessly have liberal propagandists played the race card over the years that virtually anything conservatives or Republicans do — from opposing Obamacare to tweaking the president's fondness for golf — somehow gets twisted into proof of racial malice. So when Haley announced last week that she would appoint Scott to the US Senate seat being vacated by Jim DeMint, who is leaving to take a job at the Heritage Foundation, I indulged in a bit of preemptive snark.

“An Indian-American governor appoints an African-American to the US Senate,” I posted on Twitter. “Man, that lily-white GOP racism never ends, does it?”

On being sworn in, Scott will become the Senate's only sitting black member and the first from the South since the 1880s. Indeed he'll be just the seventh black senator in the nation's history; three of the others, including Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, were also Republican. Haley, meanwhile, is one of only two Indian-Americans ever elected governor (the other is Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, a fellow Republican). For anyone who esteems racial and ethnic diversity, this has to be a good-news story. Could even the most determined racial McCarthyists find reasons to decry Scott's appointment?

Of course they could.

“Tokens. That's all they are,” one Twitter user promptly replied to my tweet. Remarked another: “The man's race may be inconvenient for the Repubs, but he's a teabagger like them so they'll ignore it.” Twitter users elsewhere smeared Scott as an “Uncle Tom” and a “house Negro.”

In fairness, on Twitter anyone can pop off about anything. What about more serious venues?

Well, the NAACP — which used to be a serious organization — promptly let it be known that while it was glad to see “more integration” in Congress, it disliked Scott's “record of opposition to civil rights protection and advancing those real issues of concern of the … African-American community.” Does the NAACP really believe that Johnson opposes black civil rights? A ludicrous canard. Then again, so was its absurd resolution two years ago denouncing the Tea Party movement as a platform for “anti-Semites, racists and bigots.”

Writing Wednesday in The New York Times, University of Pennsylvania political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. was in a similar froth, slamming Scott because he doesn't think with his skin. “His politics, like those of the archconservative Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, are utterly at odds with the preferences of most black Americans.” Scott has no legitimate connection to “mainstream black politics,” Reed scoffed. He's just another “cynical token” — one more black Republican elected to Congress from a majority-white district.

It's an old story by now, this venomous lashing-out at blacks and other minorities who embrace conservative or Republican values. It especially infuriates the Democratic left to see the enthusiasm black conservatives inspire among Republicans. Far from celebrating the fact that minorities can demonstrate appeal across the political spectrum, the left whips out the race card. The rise of black Republican leaders, they say, is just a thin disguise for GOP racism. Yet if Republicans oppose a black Democratic leader, they call that racism too.

Perhaps historical guilt feelings explain this reflexive racial demagoguery. For a very long time the Democratic Party was a bulwark of American racism — it was the party that defended slavery; that fought the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments; that founded the Ku Klux Klan; that enacted Jim Crow segregation; that opposed anti-lynching laws. Could it be the psychological weight of such a record that leads so many Democrats and their allies today to promiscuously impute racism to their political opponents? Above all, to their black political opponents?

“I'm a black Republican,” Scott says serenely. “Some people think of that as zany — that a black person would be a conservative. But to me what is zany is any person — black, white, red, brown or yellow — not being a conservative.” If the accusation is that he doesn't think with his skin, Scott seems happy to plead guilty as charged.

I like this columnist. I'm just surprised that the Globe carries him.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Perhaps a compromise is possible

Well, Speaker John Boehner has indicated he is willing to accept a raise in tax rates on people with income over a million dollars. And President Barack Obama has raised his $250,000 figure to $400,000. There is still a gap there, and other aspects that are also going to be problems, but each side has given a little.

Perhaps by Dec. 31, a compromise will be achieved. I hope so. There is still a week and a half to go.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Newtown and abortion clinics - connected?

Amazingly, Gregory Kane has managed to take the Newtown killings and use them as a basis for a column about abortion. His column in yesterday's Washington Examiner was entitled “Culprit is society that devalues human life” and among the ridiculous analogies he made (addressed to President Obama, if you need to know who the “you” was supposed to mean) was:

On Friday, a gunman walked into the Connecticut elementary school and methodically, fatally shot 20 children and six adults.

He has been identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who apparently killed himself after the shootings. Now imagine the following hypothetical situation:

Lanza isn't 20, but a 30-something surgeon who, five to 10 years ago, sucked those same 20 children down a tube while they were still in the womb.

Would we be talking about the slaughter of 20 innocent children? Or would Lanza receive praises from you and others like you for being an avid supporter of women's reproductive rights?

How anyone can consider the little bit of tissue inside a uterus of a pregnant woman — which, I concede, has the potential of becoming a human being — as the equivalent of a real living 6-year-old boy or girl is beyond my comprehension. People get over a miscarriage, which is, after all, the death of just such a bit of tissue in a uterus, in a way the parents of the Newtown children will never get over their children's deaths.

But Kane has to make such stupid analogies as an excuse for his anti-abortionism.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

More on guns

The point was made today by someone on Meet the Press that one's opinion on guns is not so much dependent on your partisan affiliation as on where you are from. The speaker pointed out that he was from Wyoming, and opinions are quite different from those of an easterner. And in fact this is true -- Rudy Giuliani is no less a Republican than some of the strongest NRA-types, while the west elects pro-gun Democrats.

So how can we ever attain a consensus?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Obama's "revenge tax"

There is a blogger who calls himself "Publius" — because that was the pseudonym adopted by the three authors of the Federalist Papers, I assume — who has finally explained, in terms I can understand, President Obama's insistence on raising tax rates, even though it would hardly make a dent in the deficit. And it is so clearly correct that I would like simply to repeat it here.

I was having trouble understanding why President Obama has been clinging so fiercely to his demands to raise the top marginal tax rate to the Bill Clinton-era 39.6%. By most accounts — especially his own — Obama is a very intelligent man, and surrounds himself with very intelligent people. Surely these intelligentsia must know that raising the marginal tax rate 4.6% on those earning over $250,000 per year will do virtually nothing to erase the national debt or close the deficit, do nothing to ease the plight of the rapidly growing number of poor Americans, and do nothing to help Obama’s miserable economy — in fact it may make his miserable economy even worse.

So the question I was having trouble answering is this: if Obama and his minions know these simple, self-evident truths, why are they so hell bent on such a tax hike?

Obama claims that he has a mandate for the tax increase; it was a campaign pledge, and therefore he must meet it. But as I recall, he also made campaign pledges in 2008 to close Guantanamo Bay, to fix the economy with a huge stimulus, and pledged in 2009 to cut the deficit in half in his first four years — broken pledges all. Since these, and so many of Obama’s other prior pledges have been broken, honoring a campaign pledge cannot be the true reason for clinging to his tax hike. Moreover, pushing legislation forward because it was a campaign pledge merely begs the question: why was it a campaign pledge?

Offered here are some possible reasons why.

A primary reason for Obama's insistence on raising taxes is this: a bully bullies because he can. Obama and the intelligentsia know that if Obama stands pat on raising tax rates — and Republicans balk — he can simply blame a Republican House for going over the cliff, which is much more proximate and much more plausible than blaming Bush.

And if the Republicans balk, Obama can appear heroic by insisting in January 2013 that the House reduce tax rates on the middle class, while maintaining the higher tax rates then in place for the top bracket. Or, as has recently been proposed, Treasury Secretary Geitner might give the middle class a temporary tax break until new tax legislation is passed; a bit of a gamble if the tax rate that gets passed is higher than the temporary tax rate, as it would stick the middle class with an unwelcome tax bill in April.

Sticking it to Republicans is but a part of a bigger Obama agenda — revenge. In the hours before the 2012 election, Obama urged his followers, saying, “voting is the best revenge.” How unifying. Obama’s revenge includes slapping higher taxes on America’s most productive wage earners. Obama’s tax hike is consistent with his liberal belief that those who have succeeded have not had to play by the same same rules as those as those who have failed, have taken unfair advantage of the disadvantaged, and have gained unearned success at the expense of the unsuccessful. Such perceived unfairness must be avenged, and taxing the rich is, for those who voted for it and the president that urges it, the best revenge. For this reason, I refer to Obama’s fiscal cliff tax hike as the “Revenge Tax.”

Revenge is akin spiking the football, or rubbing salt in the wound, or issuing the middle finger salute. But revenge, like a winning vote, is temporary; it satisfies for a season only. Obama hopes to change America forever. There is thus an even bigger reason for his Revenge Tax than simple revenge.

And raising revenue, at least with his Revenge Tax alone, is not that bigger reason. Speaker Boehner has already offered $800 billion in new revenues by reducing or eliminating tax breaks — i.e., loopholes — for upper-income people. But this is a “non-starter” for Obama. Again, the question must be, why? And the answer must be that the Revenge Tax is not just about raising revenue.

I believe Obama’s refusal to accept revenue by closing tax loopholes as a proxy for the Revenge Tax, and his insistence on that tax is for this reason: closing tax loopholes is a one-time event. Raising taxes, however, can — and often does — beget raising more taxes.

Increasing the marginal rate to 39.6% won’t do any good. Everyone knows this. Thus, we can expect that once Obama gets his 39.6% tax rate, we will soon hear that it wasn’t enough, that to meet the country’s growing needs, we must make the evil rich pay still more. Perhaps $250,000 of income for the top tax bracket will be lowered to $200,000 or $175,000. This is especially more likely as the “soft bigotry of lowered expectations” takes hold. The definition of “rich” will slide down the curve, as Obama’s broken economy makes more and more people poor and fewer and fewer people rich.

Ergo, the real reason Obama clings to raising the tax rates is to set the stage for repeated, increasing, expansive tax increases, until America’s tax rates approach those of Obama’s Utopian society — Europe. Obama yearns for Europe’s unaffordable healthcare, the so-called universal healthcare system, and I believe also yearns for Europe’s lofty tax rates. Here is what America may look like in the years ahead, if Obama gets his Revenge Tax, and in the process opens the door to giving America a Euro-tax makeover:

Top Marginal Tax Rates


The question, therefore, isn’t so much whether America will go over the fiscal cliff, but whether by avoiding that cliff, America will open the floodgates to European style taxation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What's bad -- and good -- about Obamacare

Last night I attended a meeting of an organization with which I have been involved for over 25 years — one, in fact, that I helped to start. It has nothing to do with health care, but after the end of the meeting I got into a political discussion with the one perrson who is actually an employee of the organization, a woman who, in the course of the discussion, said that it was good that President Obama manipulated the Congress through parliamentary tricks in order to pass Obamacare after Scott Brown was specifically elected on a promise to prevent it — because she liked Obamacare.

At this point, we started discusssing Obamacare. Now in fact, I never said what I actually approved of in Obamacare; the only thing I was discussing was what was bad, and we had to leave the building so I never finished the discussion. But I would like to complete it here (and I intend to tell her to look at it!)

My main opposition to Obamacare as it was finally passed is to the mandatory features. I think it is a good thing to make it easier fo people to get health insurance — the facts that insurance companies cannot deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, and that they have to keep children on parents' policies longer, are good. But instead of requiring people to have coverage and fining them if they do not, what should have been done is perhaps to subsidize its purchase (the insurance exchanges might well be a good thing if they are implemented correctly), and such things as to allow purchase of plans across state lines. It might even be that it should be detached from the employer contribution way it is mostly financed, so that you do not lose coverage when you leave a job, whether voluntarily or involuntarily.

The thing I cannot accept is that you are not permitted to decide, on your own, whether you want coverage, and even what kind of coverage you can get. When it was decided that you must have health insurance, it was also decided that a Government official would decide what kind of coverage you need. If a single male wants to buy a policy that does not cover the costs of childbirth, he cannot. It's not just its requrements on the employer side — the requirement to cover contraception that Catholic institutions are protesting — the insured person has no freedom to determine the best policy for his own needs.

If it were up to me, a plan that would have made more sense would have been to require insurance companies to cover everyone who applied (no denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, as in the actual Obamacare plan), but arrange things that all employers paid the money they now put up for health insurance into a pool similar to the one they pay for unemployment insurance, and use this money to subsidize health insurance so that policies become affordable by people who cannot afford to buy it now. If a person does not want to buy health insurance, he should be able to self-insure. If he wants to buy a policy with no coverage for conditions he expects never to need, let him. The insurance companies, in turn, need to be able to price policies like life insurance policies, based on actuarial considerations, so that younger people who do not need as much medical care can get their insurance more cheaply. The fear has been spread that the young will opt out and leave the insurance companies with only the older and sicker people, raising their costs. If young people are required to pay less, however, they will be encouraged to join. Younger people do buy life insurance, so this idea works.

The other thing people have clamed would be a problem is that if you ban denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, but allow people to start coverage at any time instead of requiring it at the beginning, they will first buy insurance when they are sick. The cure for that is to make it like the Medicare drug plan — if you can enroll but you don't, then when you do enroll it costs more than it otherwise would. That seems to work in the Medicare case — it would seem to work here as well.

Those are my thoughts.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Charlie Crist, Democrat?

It seems that former Republican Governor Charlie Crist of Florida has now become a Democrat. Given that he supported President Obama's re-election this year, I suppose this is not a big surprise. And I don't really know Crist well enough to say that he's made a mistake; perhaps he is actually closer to the Democrats on important issues than he is to the Republicans.

But it is troubling to see moderates leaving the Republicans and joining the Democrats. Perhaps it is a reaction to the fact that a right-wing extremism is becoming more dominant in the GOP. But it does not recognize the left-wing extremism that has come to dominate the Democratic Party.

I actually see people claiming that President Obama is a “moderate.” It is actually clear that he is no more a moderate than his opposite numbers in the GOP, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum. His gyrations to put pro-union members on the National Labor Relations Board when he saw the Senate would not confirm them, his positions on such issues as the current “fiscal cliff” and the “Obamacare” disaster — all these make this clear. And it is not just President Obama. Both Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leaders in the two houses of Congress, have staked out far-left positions. When Arlen Specter, who had almost lost a primary to a right-wing opponent in 2004, decided that he could not stay in the GOP because it was likely to defeat him in 2010 and nominate the same right-wing candidate that he had barely defeated six years earlier, he found out that the Democratic primary voters were no more inclined to support a moderate. He lost the Democratic primary, by a much larger margin than he had won the GOP primary in 2004.

Moderates who leave the GOP for the Democrats will, I'm afraid, find that their new party is no more congenial to them, or to the idea of moderation, than the GOP. They are more likely to pull the GOP toward moderation if they stay than to pull the Democrats toward moderation, since they will not have the status of anything but “newcomer” in the Domocratic Party.

I hate to see you go, Gov. Crist, but it was your decision to make, and I am not so sure ypu won't regret in in the long run.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

More on the "fiscal cliff" controversy

I recently had an exchange of e-mails with my brother, who is politically somewhat more conservative than myself, though we are closer to each other in our views than either of us is to those our parents held. Some interesting points were made, which I will make public here. First, after I referred him to my post:

Actually, I read similar ideas to yours recently, soak the really, really rich, but leave the really rich alone. Well said on neither side being willing to compromise, when you wrote it, but there is breaking news. Joe Biden, the Clown Prince of Buffoonery, was quoted yesterday as saying that it doesn't have to be exactly 37 percent for the top bracket, it could be less, it's just the principle that the rich have to pay more.

To which my response was:

I suspect that some compromise like this will be attained in the end. What we really don't know is what is going on behind closed doors in secret negotiations, where Boehner's lieutenants and Obama's can make deals that neither can endorse in public because of the socialistic elements in the Administration and the TEA Party contingent within the House GOP.

He continued:

The Republicans were willing to compromise by expanding revenue, 800 billion worth, but that wasn't enough for the Dems, and is too much for the TEA Party.

What we have here are two opposed sides ON PRINCIPLE. (Old Yiddish saying: "Corrupt officials can be bribed into doing the right thing, but men of principle are much more expensive.")

To the Socialists, the high-earners are anathema. They contradict the very foundation of Marxism: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. They get paid more than (the Marxists think that) they need.

To the Republicans, high-earners provide the life-blood and impetus of life's flows, without their spark of energy, the society would fail and wither. Everyone else (and that includes you and me) are hangers on, who should just shut up and follow, unless we want to become entrepreneurs and get some skin in the game. This is best represented by the works of Ayn Rand.

I had to agree with his comment that “[w]hat we have here are two opposed sides ON PRINCIPLE.” But my main point is that:

All that you say is true. BUT, sometimes it is necessary to make some concessions even from one's principles. The socialistic Democrats control the White House and (except for the filibuster rule) the Senate. The Republicans control the House. Nothing can be done at all unless all three can find agreement — the Madisonian principle enshrined in the Constitution. If neither one gives an inch, a result occurs that neither side wants to happen — it's like Prisoner's Dilemma: you have to make what seems to be the worse choice, or the net result is the worst possible alternative.

I'm willing to say as much publicly, and so this post.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The blame is shared

Most of the time, I have been siding with the Republicans in their opposition to President Barack Obama's ideas. And in fact I still think that the President must be faulted in these “fiscal cliff” negotiations for his absolute refusal to make the slightest move toward a compromise. But the Republicans are not doing so well in this exchange either. I don't see much willingness to compromise on their part, and I have to give credit to at least one Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, for actually putting forth an idea: Accept that some of the highest-income taxpayers will have to see a tax rate increase — that's what any compromise must be between Obama's “raise the rates on all over $250,000” plan and the GOP's “raise no rates on anybody” plan. But set the barrier higher. Sen. Schumer proposed $1,000,000, and perhaps a GOP counterproposal would move towards that point; but setting it still higher, say $2,500,000. But I don't see anyone on the GOP side making proposals like this.

If nobody on either side is willing to move toward the other, we will surely go over the cliff. And except for Sen. Schumer, I see nobody moving an inch.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Angus Jones, Gregory Kane, and "values"

Before getting into the main point of this post, let me say that, although I used to watch a good deal of television, and mostly situation comedies, I do not have time to devote to watching the “tube,” and have never seen a single episode of “Two and a Half Men,” so this is not a comment on whether that show is “filth” or not, as its teen-aged co-star, Angus Jones, recently claimed. This post is not about the show, but addresses both Jones' comments and the column, appearing in yesterday's Washington Examiner, in which columnist Gregory Kane strongly defended Jones.

First of all, I have no problem with either Jones or Kane's right to express their opinions. But in Jones' case, it seems to me that if he really thinks as he says he does, and feels that the show, which has been the cause of his earning millions of dollars, is such “filth,” he should take all that money and (assuming the producers are not going to accept its return) donate it to charity, so he can live the life of a typical boy of his age. But he seems happy to keep his money.

In Kane's case, my point is somewhat different. It seems that Kane thinks Jones was unfairly criticized because he stood up for his religious values. Well, just as Kane has the right of freedom of speech, under our First Amendment, so do the more secular, and even atheistic, people he denounces. Kane seems to feel that in this country, people who favor “Christian values” (or “religious values” in general, as he manages to include Muslim minister Louis Farrakhan among those he singles out for praise) are being silenced in this country, while those advocating their contrary are given open free rein. I just see that everyone is able to speak out on both sides. Kane asked why Jones had to apologize — I think Jones' apology, as hypocritical as it might be, was because he realized he might be out a lot of money, not because secular forces were exerting pressure on him! (Kane also takes the media to task for not proofreading their headlines. That's the sort of thing I admit I might do, as I am a compulsive corrector of spelling/grammatical errors. But I've seen errors in the Examiner, too, so that is not really fair of him.)

So to recapitulate, I condemn neither Jones nor Kane for expressing themselves. But I think they both need to acknowledge the opposite side's right to express itself as well, and Jones, in particular, is ill-poised to condemn the people who have given him an amount of money that most teenagers (or even adults) would find beyond their dreams.