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, March 18, 2014

More on Ukraine

Let's be fair. While the 93-7 margin of votes in favor of leaving Ukraine was distorted by Russian military presence and Tatar boycotting the referendum, I am certain that the majority of the Crimean people prefer to be Russian, not Ukrainian. And if it is fair to let majority-Albanian Kosovo leave Serbia, and Slovakia to part with the Czechs, the will of majority-Russian Crimea should be respected too. Certainly, for us to go to war over “the territorial integrity of Ukraine” is unthinkable.

Besides, the resulting Ukraine is more homogeneous having Crimea secede. We need to get out of this thing. Give some aid to Ukraine to compensate it for the loss of territory, perhaps. But let the ethnic Russians in Crimea be. Let them join the country they belong in.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

What is the Republican Party?

I look at the polls that are being conducted, even now, two years before the nomination process begins, and I see three names at the top of the Republican list: Christie, Huckabee, and Paul. It would be hard to find three more dissimilar people to carry the banner of the party. And this shows the nature of the problem. The Republican Party is a coalition of several factions. And each of the top three is a representative of a different one of these factions.

Chris Christie is a pre-eminent example of what I would call the “pragmatic” wing of the party. He knows that “pure” Republicanism will not be imposed on a public that is (in his state) majority Democratic; therefore, he has found ways to make common cause with Democrats to get as much of his program through. It is this “pragmatism” that suited him well. His first term was so successful that he was re-elected with a landslide majority last year.

Mike Huckabee is what his followers choose to call a “social conservative”; a better term for the faction, however, is “moralist.” He is guided by the principles he believes come from God; as a result, he favors making the tenets of his religion supersede even the principles of the Constitution. I have to say that having these people in my party scares me; I am, certainly, willing to accept their votes when they go to the candidate I favor — no matter whose votes go to my candidate, it's a good thing! — but they are not people whom I want to see running the country. Their Bible is not my Bible, and their interpretation of that part of their Bible which is also in my Bible is not my interpretation of those Scriptures, but first and foremost, their insistence that they are to follow the Bible, rather than the Constitution, is what really scares me. I don't want to live in a Christian theocracy, any more than I would want to live in a Muslim theocracy like Iran.

Rand Paul does not scare me, the way Mike Huckabee does. His followers would say that they belong to a “libertarian” wing of the party, and libertarianism is a philosophy that, to a large extent, I share. However, Paul is not just libertarian, but also isolationist, and while I had thought isolationism, as a movement in the Republican Party, had died out in 1941 when the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbor, I am surprised to see it revive after more than a half century. Rand Paul has become the spokesman of this “libertarian-isolationist” wing; and as I've implied, while I share a lot of its libertarianism, I cannot accept its isolationism.

So we are not just looking at the fortunes of three candidates, but rather we are looking at the struggles of three groups of Republicans to forge a party that reflects their philosophies. And that is why I am so strongly behind Chris Christie for the nomination.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Vladimir Putin and Ukraine

I don't like Vladimir Putin. And I don't like his expansionistic activities. But I have to say he has some justification for his position on Crimea and Ukraine. There are a lot more ethnic Russians than Ukrainians in Crimea (though the Tatars pose a problem). And if they feel that they do not belong in Ukraine, their feelings need to be taken into account. And in fact, the Crimea was part of Russia until 1954, and simply taken from Russia and given to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev (who in fact was a Ukrainian himself). So I can see the feeling of wrongdoing that Russians might harbor.

So we really should let the Crimea secede from Ukraine. And I say this out of no love for Vladimir Putin, or his policies. But on this issue, he's right.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The news from Florida… and what it means for Obamacare

Tuesday there was a special election in Florida. A Republican member of the House of Representatives, Bill Young, had died and his seat was being filled, but the district in fact had been trending Democratic. President Barack Obama had won the district twice, as had the most recent Democratic candidate for Governor of Florida, Alex Sink. And this same Alex Sink was the Democratic candidate for the House seat to be filled, so she didn't need to build name recognition. And the Republican candidate, David Jolly, was a former lobbyist (a fact that his opponent used against him) with no history in politics, and who had weathered a divisive primary. So by a lot of lights, Sink was favored to flip this seat and turn it “blue.” This in fact was predicted by such as Sean Trende, even though he considers this a Republican year, and has predicted that the Republicans will take over the Senate.

So what should we conclude? Trende had said before the election was complete that this single election means little, and afterwards has not changed that point of view. But really, given all that was going in Alex Sink's favor, I think one thing is certain: it is poisonous to be associated with “Obamacare.” She was not even there to vote for it, but merely defended it in her campaigning. And David Jolly made attacking “Obamacare” the cornerstone of his campaign. This has to mean something. And certainly in the elections where Democratic incumbents are up for re-election, who actually voted for “Obamacare” in Congress, this will be used against them. I think this Noveber will be a good day for Republicans.