Wednesday, February 29, 2012

God is a man

God doesn’t want women to use contraception.  God doesn’t want women to have abortions, but doesn’t seem to mandate that his followers show much concern with what happens once the baby is born.  God doesn’t want women to have loving relationships with other women.  God sees the rise of women in the workplace as part of the breakdown of the American family.  By God, they’re right … God must be a man.  

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

President Santorum or President Romney ... Not the End of the World

I see the threat of a Republican victory in 2012 in the same way I view the possibility of the election of Islamic fundamentalists in other places.  I don’t like it, but I believe in democracy.  If they get elected they get to run a country.  I also think that radicals tend to have their views modified by the realities of governance.  Plus, people say a lot of stuff they don’t really mean.  This is especially true of Romney.  Now, the anger and intolerance is troubling.  The views toward women seem a little … historical.  The focus on social policies not favored by most citizens is a little scary.  The black and white view of the world is probably a brand of fantasy that a country that wants to succeed can’t afford.  The failure of democrats or anyone else to step up and really challenge this nonsense, to take control of the narrative and bring some truth and facts and logic into it, is very troubling.  But, in the end, if things don’t work out I’m not going to flee across the border or go off the grid.  In a democracy things don’t always work out the way you would want.  They also never only go in one direction.  It’s not the end of the world if the Muslim Brotherhood and Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum find themselves in positions of power.  Rick Santorum as president does come pretty close, much closer than having the Muslim Brotherhood share power in Egypt, but I’m still pretty sure even President Santorum wouldn’t be the end of the world.  I certainly hope that this brand of Republicanism, the brand that is driving good representatives like Olympia Snowe into retirement, is ultimately unsuccessful and that we can soon relegate it to a history book along with McCarthyism.  I’m certainly going to do my part to make sure that happens.  I’m not going to get hysterical about it though.  It sucks that people can be successful spewing this kind of hate, anger, and nonsense.  It sucks, but it’s not the end of the world.   

Monday, February 27, 2012

If Aharon Friedman was Muslim, what kind of reaction would he 'Get'?

Sometimes what is remarkable is what isn’t said.  Aharon Friedman is on the staff of Rep. Dave Camp, the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.  Mr. Friedman and his wife were legally divorced nearly two years ago.  That isn’t, however, enough to free Mr. Friedman’s wife from the marriage.  Mr. Friedman and his wife are Orthodox Jews.  In Jewish Law, in order for the divorce to be final the man must grant his permission.  This is done in the form of a document called a Get.  Mr Friedman has not given his wife a Get.  A campaign to force him to do so is gaining steam and publicity.  There is very little being said, however, about the acceptability of the Jewish traditions themselves.  No one is ranting and raving about the fact that Jewish Law is operating in the United States … and it is operating.  No one has warned of a takeover of the American legal system by Jewish Law.  Imagine, however, if Mr. Friedman was Mr. Mohammed.  Islam has similar marriage laws which give the husband more control than the wife.  Similarly, Islamic marriage law does operate in this country, although a little less openly than Jewish marriage law.  The reaction to a Muslim man blocking a divorce would be a little different, however.  Islam as a whole would be put on trial.  The man’s actions would be called a threat, medieval, and evil.  It would be linked to terrorists.  9/11 would be brought up.  The Republican Presidential candidates would be getting involved in the act.   The Congressman would be implored to fire his staffer.  Now, I understand that Jewish marriage law and Islamic marriage law are different.  It may well be the case that the gender biased provisions in Jewish law come into play less often than is true in Islam.  These differences, however, would not come close to accounting for the difference in reactions.  We may not have any better an understanding of Judaism then we do of Islam, but we don’t approach it with as much fear, anger, hatred, and even blind rage.  The reaction to Mr. Friedman’s withholding of the Get is appropriate.  Jewish marriage law is not a threat to the American social fabric.  This is just a case of one person abusing Jewish law.  It does not call into question Judaism itself and Jewish people everywhere.  It seems ridiculous to even suggest that it would.  Unfortunately, if this story were about Mr. Mohammed rather than Mr. Friedman it wouldn’t seem nearly ridiculous enough to way too many of us.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Take the Pill and Stop the Kill

I think we might just have stumbled on what will bring us together on the issue of abortion: contraception.  Women of all races, religions, and political orientations could rally around a call to “take the pill and stop the kill.”  Maybe you prefer “carry a condom, prevent a murder” or “carry a condom, don’t kill a child.”  “Dying for a diaphragm” anyone?  Whatever the wording of the slogans, women could come together to help women take control of their own lives and stop murder.  Catholic women in this country, the vast majority of whom use contraception, could lobby church leadership to reverse the current policy concerning contraception.  They could even accuse the church of being complicit in murder … not just of the unborn but of lots of men and women all over the world who die from the spread of diseases that could have been prevented by the use of certain forms of contraception.  Religious groups all over could be put under pressure to come up with intelligent and responsible approaches to contraception, other forms of birth control, and even sex education.  The idea that contraception should be controversial is so ridiculous that it might make it apparent that the only real way to limit or eliminate abortion is to acknowledge that women are sentient and sexual beings.  They are capable of making smart decisions.  They are capable of having sex, even outside of wedlock.   When we realize that, then we can help them be in the position to make smart decisions regarding sex.  We could come together to reduce the occurrence of a practice no one likes and at the same time protect the rights of women and recognize the realities of life.  It seems like a no-brainer to me.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My budget and your budget aren't OUR budget

Please do not include an analogy to household budgets in your argument as to why we should cut the department of education or eliminate funding to Planned Parenthood.  It doesn’t support your point.  It’s just stupid.  Yes, my wife and I have a major problem if we are spending more than we bring in.  We certainly could not operate with the kind of deficit the federal government now has.  We also can’t tax our children to get more money.  My neighbor won’t buy my kids toys and charge them a small fee to play with them … or pay to visit my house and take pictures of my kids.  Last I checked I couldn’t print money in the garage either.  There also isn’t an army in there.   Why don’t I have my own army?  I don’t have my own army or print my own money because I don’t have my own country.  My budget constraints are not the same as those facing our America’s elected leaders.  So please, stop pretending as if they are.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Devil is in the Details

It is not easy to try to understand why people take actions that harm or offend you.   It’s not pleasant either.  You have to overcome fear, surprise, anger, laziness, and who knows what else to find out that the person might have an understandable or even legitimate reason for doing what they are doing.  You may even find out that they have a legitimate grievance that could be addressed.  Heck, you might even be able to deter such behavior in the future.  On the other hand, all that is a lot of effort and it’s just so much easier to refer to them as evil and as puppets of the devil.  Then, all you have to do is strike back.  You just need strategy rather than thoughtfulness.  If Iran is evil, then it makes it easier to attack.  When you think of the different interests and movements within the country, then things get murkier.  When you consider the impact on the current crisis of American actions, it gets murkier still.  When you see how the Iranian Government is trying to use this crisis to shore up support within Iran, well then it’s almost impossible to support a simplistic solution based on raw force.  This is the way it should be.  People don’t just attack us because we are good and they are bad.  They have reasons.  If we don’t acknowledge these reasons and do something about them, we can’t stop future attacks.  But if you’d rather just stand there and shout obscenities at the devil, go for it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hey Republicans ... what did you expect?

Republicans are worried now that Rick Santorum might actually have a chance to win.  They are worried that someone who would tell rape victims that they have been given a gift from God, sees the devil (the red guy with horns) behind many of the challenges facing our country, and believes that pre natal testing should be restricted because it encourages abortion might not have a chance in November.  Of course they are right, but this is something they should have thought about before now.  They should have considered it when they were working people up into a frenzy about Obamacare because it encouraged homosexuality and killed off old people in the name of socialism.  They might have given it some thought before deciding that they should allow people in their party to claim that the President was a foreign born Muslim fascist.  They might have thought about this as one negative consequence associated with embracing a movement focused on the evils of ‘big government.’  Who knows, they may have guessed that having people who believe that natural disasters are punishment from God and all Muslims are terrorists be power brokers might lead to Presidential candidates that are unelectable.  The bottom line is that Republicans have allowed their party to fall into the control of a minority of folks whose views are not representative of the majority of Americans.  I’m not sure what they can do now.  Reaching out to Sarah Palin won’t help.  Targeting contraception doesn’t seem like a winning strategy.  I suppose they can pray for war with Iran, higher gas prices, and a stalled economic recovery.  They’ve been banking all along on a worsening of the problems that face America driving Obama out of office … in fact they have actively encouraged it.  Why should they stop now?  Heck, they can’t stop now.  It would take one doozy of a war to make me vote for Rick Santorum, so they had better start cashing in on that personal connection to God soon.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Rules

It would appear that political issues are clear … that politics is a world of black and white, right and wrong, good and evil.  Certainly there are a lot of people who talk as if it is.  They are, however, quite wrong.  Right and wrong are more than just a little fuzzy in politics.  The issues are complex and legitimate concerns often point us in opposing directions.  Even if you pretend that it’s not that way, it still is.  When it comes to the expression of your opinions, however, it is a completely different story. 

There is a right and a wrong way to express your opinion about politics.  Increasingly, more folks are doing it the wrong way.  It’s way past time we acknowledge this reality and start doing something about it … namely identifying and challenging the folks who are doing it wrong.  To facilitate this effort, I am writing up a rules list.  This is a preliminary list.  It’s short, incomplete, and unpolished.  Thus I will put this list on a separate page and edit it and add to it as time goes on.  I would love suggestions, so please offer them.  For now, however, this is what it looks like:

Rule # 1) Always have a clear conclusion and at least one logical premise that supports it. 
We need to return to a discourse that puts value on logic and reason.  We need to give reasons for why we think whatever it is we think.  If we have to tell other people why we think what we think, we will have to find out.  That would be a huge thing. 

Rule #2) No insults and no name calling.
We should instantly disregard the argument of any person who refers to the people with whom they disagree as “radical liberals,” “socialists,” “elitists,” “right wing nuts,” “un-American,” “reds,’ etc.  There isn’t any place for this nonsense.  People who want to work with other people to solve problems don’t talk to each other like this, and we ought to be interested in being, hanging out with, listening to, following, and electing people who want to work together to solve problems.  We certainly have enough problems to solve.  Feel free to criticize ideas, if possible politely and constructively.  Stop criticizing people.  Let’s focus on the message rather than the messenger.

Rule #3) Stick to the facts.
This seems obvious, but more and more it seems to be OK to lapse into fiction in order to make your point.  There are not and never were death panels.  Anyone that said otherwise was lying.  Birthers were lying.  People who say that pre-natal testing leads to abortion are lying.  People who say there is no hard science to support theories of global warming are lying.  Disagreement is fine.  It is necessary.  It needs, however, to be based in the facts.

That’s it for now.  Next Monday I will call out folks who have violated these rules.  Mondays, from this point forward will be rule violation days … days reserved for calling out violators and adding to and reefing the rules.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Governor Chris Christie Has Failed

Governor Chris Christie had a test this week … a test to see if he was worthy of being more than the Governor of New Jersey.  He failed.  Governor Christie vetoed a bill that would have allowed same sex couples to marry in New Jersey.  He says that he did this because he wants the people of New Jersey to vote on the issue.  He says the people should vote on this issue, not the legislature.  I don’t think that denying folks their constitutional rights is OK even if people vote on it.  I don’t think Governor Christie does either.  Governor Christie thinks it is better for Governor Christie if the people of New Jersey sign off on this so he doesn’t have to.  Governor Christie wants to be President Christie.  He wants to be Republican President Christie, and he doesn’t think a man who signed off on gay marriage can get the Republican nomination for President.  He may well be right, at least as things stand now.  But, a man that can get the Republican nomination for president right now isn’t presidential material.  It takes more than a hatred of big government, abortion, gay people, and contraception to run the country well.  It takes a willingness to listen to others, to compromise, to negotiate, to change course if necessary, and to see the nuance in the world.  For a Republican, it’s going to take someone willing to challenge Republicans to change their direction.  It’s going to take someone willing to take on the tea party and their rigid intolerance.  It is going to take someone who can reassemble a consistent, flexible, and conservative platform of ideas and positions.  Governor Christie has shown a willingness to do some things that are unpopular with the more extreme elements of the Republican Party, like appointing conservative judges who happen to be Muslim.  Christie also has the attitude and intellect to pull off a revolution in the Republican Party and show himself worthy of being President.  Unfortunately, it turns out that he doesn’t have the courage, the courage to do the unpopular things when all eyes are on him.  All eyes are always on the President and there is always an excuse not to take risks, not to take responsibility.  What he does now is what he will do then.  Governor Christie has shown by what he has done now, that he doesn’t have what it takes for us to trust him to do anything as President. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

You hate Obama because ... because ... because what exactly?

In 2004 I would have voted for a poodle over George Bush.  So, why do I criticize people for taking the same attitude towards Barack Obama?  Am I delusional?  Probably.  Am I a hypocrite?  Maybe.  Am I right to do so?  Well, I think so.  My position on George Bush was based on a few things.  First, he squandered a golden opportunity in the wake of 9/11 to bring the world together to solve problems collectively.  Second, his administration lied to the country to get us into a war in Iraq.  Third, we went into war with no idea of what to do once we won.  Fourth, we decided it was OK to use torture.  Fifth, he made our country an object of hate and anger in the world in a way that it had never been before.  Sixth, he brought us the Patriot Act.  Seventh, he oversaw a weakening of regulatory agencies like the EPA and the regulations they enforce, allowing for things like fracking to take place with little oversight our concern for people's safety.  Eighth, he oversaw a reorganization of our disaster response systems that contributed, with the incompetence of folks he had appointed, to the fiasco that was the official response to Hurricane Katrina and to the invasion of various diseases and bugs that have destroyed crops and been very costly.  I think I'll stop there, but understand I could go on.  The basic point is that Bush was a poor president, and I can prove it.  That's why I would have favored just about anyone you could have named, even John Kerry in the 2004 election over four more years of Bush.  I still don't understand what Obama has done to earn a similar reaction.  Yes, he tried to extend health care to all Americans.  That doesn't seem to be in the same league as water boarding, but what do I know.  Yes, he did bailout the auto industry ... but he was just continuing a program started by Bush and it doesn't seem to have turned out so badly.  Yes, he is black ... but I'm not sure what he can do about that.  I understand where you might disagree with his policies.  That's fine.  And that is a perfectly defensible reason not to vote for him.  I felt that way about the elder Bush, who I voted against.  I could have imagined a lot worse presidents, and in fact I think he did a fairly good job and that history will make him look pretty good, but I couldn't vote for him because I just didn't agree with his approach on a number of the issues.  I didn't hate him.  I didn't say he was the anti-Christ.  I just don't understand why getting Obama out of office seems to have become more important for Republicans than solving America's problems.  Has been since he took office.  I'm still waiting to hear a good reason for all the hatred and anger, one that doesn't involve boogeymen like big government or ridiculous accusations of socialism, communism, fascism, and who knows what other isms.  I think I'll probably be waiting for a long time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pro life? Think about this.

Are you pro-life?  Well, I’ve got some advice for you.  Take all that money and effort you’re spending to overturn Roe v. Wade, and actually use it to make it less likely that women would seek or even are in the position to consider having an abortion.  How do you do that?  Well, I have a few suggestions.

First, provide good quality sex education to young people of almost every age everywhere and anywhere.  Talk about vaginas, conception, and childcare.  Have teenage moms come in and talk to older kids about their glamorous lives.  It would be money well spent for lots of reasons.  I know that a lot of you think sex is supposed to be scary and forbidden, but maybe you need to decide what you hate the most.

Second, while you are deciding what you hate the most, let’s talk about contraception.  If people use contraception, they are less likely to be pregnant and thus less likely to have an abortion.  If you want fewer abortions, you should want more contraception.  I know that you want sex to take place within the walls of marriage, but I think you need to be realistic about that.  It made sense to restrict sex to marriage when women were marrying at 14.  Women aren’t doing that much anymore.  It’s not realistic to expect everyone to make it out of middle school without having sex.  Hoping most women are going to wait until they are in their 30’s is fantasy.  Don’t tell me it’s a religious belief either.  Most Catholics use birth control.  If what you want is fewer abortions, this really seems like a no-brainer.  Spend a little money to make contraception of all kinds available and affordable for everyone.

Third, I’d let go one the gay marriage thing.  The more married gay couples there are, the more adoptions there will be.  Plus, if you give in on something you are going to eventually lose anyway, it might help you work together with others to eliminate the demand for abortion.  It would also mean more resources you could throw at abortion.

Fourth, I would start talking to others.  I know collaboration is a dirty word, but it does lead to getting things done.  There is no guarantee that trying to bankrupt Planned Parenthood and get the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. wade is going to work.  Measures aimed at reducing the demand for abortion would have a much wider base of support and be much more likely to become reality.  No one likes abortion.  Almost everyone would like it if abortions never took place.  Why don’t you try to capitalize more on that reality? 

Fifth, spend some of that money of yours on drug prevention, better schools, stopping inner city violence, stopping the sex trade, or providing jobs.  I feel pretty confident in saying that there would be fewer abortions if drugs were less of a problem, women were better educated, people had work, etc., etc.

Sixth, and perhaps most importantly, spend some time thinking about what happens after birth.  You are very concerned with preserving life up until it leaves the mother … what about life outside the womb.  Do you care what happens to these babies once they leave the womb?  I really think if you paid more attention to some of these questions, everything I have said up above would make a lot more sense.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Good Dad is a good listener, a steadfast support, and a good shot?

A dad in North Carolina shot his daughter’s laptop, and you can watch him do it on youtube.  Parents everywhere have done so, and then have found whatever internet outlet they could to praise Tommy Jordan for setting a positive example for children and parents everywhere.  Why wouldn’t they praise him?  Obviously if every parent shot up their children’s things when they did something wrong, teen pregnancy and drug use would be things of the past.  That goes without saying.  I certainly think every teenager should learn that violence against inanimate objects solves every problem.  I am especially fond of teaching our children to seek to humiliate people in as public a way as possible whenever they feel personally slighted.  Revenge is awesome.  It also wouldn’t be bad if the next generation learned to avoid actually talking with one another to solve problems.  Who wants to solve problems when intimidation is so much easier?  Now, I will admit that it certainly is easier to shoot a computer than it is to talk to a teenager.  Teenagers can suck.  That much is true.  I remember what an asshole I was.  I am dreading my own children’s teenage years.  I can only imagine how much more teenagers suck when parented with the tried and true friends of lazy parents everywhere: fear and anger.  Scaring and intimidating your child into doing the right thing isn’t the right thing when the child is five.  It really isn’t the right thing when the child is fifteen.  I can’t help but think that this man’s problems with his daughter have something to do with how he chooses to parent.  In his little video he surely isn’t setting much of an example.  Those of us who are lauding this man aren’t setting much of an example either.  This isn’t good parenting.  It is taking the easy way out.  My parents did not take the easy way out with me or my sister.  I’m not going to take the easy way out with my kids either.  If this means that I won’t be able to humiliate my daughter on youtube by having shooting practice with her computer, so be it.  I'll just have to find another way to get a video to go viral.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Shame on the Bristol, PA police

Tony Devine, a Councilman in Bristol, PA arranged for a guided tour of the Police Department prior to being officially sworn in.  On his tour he saw a picture with some commentary that he found to be racist, homophobic, and generally offensive.  It was a picture of Tupac Shakur flanked by the comments “Stop. Are you wearing your vest?” and “I like wiener dogs.”  He raised his concerns.  Mayor Bob Lebo and Police Chief Arnold Porter immediately launched an investigation … into why Devine was there in the first place.  I won’t mince words, this is ridiculous.  The concern isn’t about whether the picture was inappropriate; it’s about how a member of the general public could have possibly been in there while escorted by a police officer.  I mean, it’s not as if the police are public servants.  It’s not as if the reasons why Devine was there should be beside the point, at least for a little while.  It’s not as if talking about access to the police department might be a way of taking public attention away from the picture.  It’s not as if there is a sizeable minority population in Bristol that is already distrustful of the police.  It’s not as if it would have been an option simply to apologize and take the picture down.  Which brings us to the bottom line: if you make a mistake just admit it.  Politicians, police departments, and even school boards are allowed to admit to mistakes.  I don’t expect any of those folks to be perfect.  I’d rather they not pretend to be.  I’d also rather they not be racist, homophobic, secretive, and dishonest.  It’s not Tony Devine that has some explaining to do … it’s Mayor Lebo and Chief Porter.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Contraception ... Really?

Why is contraception so controversial?  Are we supposed to only have sex to procreate?  Are we supposed to believe that even if we believed sex should only be associated with procreation that there would be any possible way of actually making everyone actually only have sex when they intended to procreate?  Are we supposed to believe that women who work for Catholic universities or hospitals are less entitled to have their health insurance provide free contraception then folks who work for universities or hospitals that are not religiously affiliated?  Are we supposed to believe that Mitt Romney has really had a change of heart on this, and a dozen other things?  Are we supposed to ignore the fact that a recent poll found that a majority of Catholics support forcing religiously affiliated organizations to provide free contraception?  Are we supposed to ignore the role that contraception could play in preventing the spread of disease and reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions out here in the real world?  Are we supposed to see this as a major issue, on par with health care, unrest in the Middle East, our deteriorating infrastructure, and weak regulations in the financial sector?  Are we supposed to take anyone seriously who answers yes to any of these questions?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The President and Super PACs

The President has decided to support a Super PAC.  He opposed the Supreme Court decision that allowed for these political action committees that can receive and spend unlimited money from special interests, including corporations.  He said he wouldn’t use them.  Now he has decided he will.  Many are accusing him of hypocrisy, lying, and worse. 

The President had two choices.  First, he could keep abstain from any involvement or acknowledgment of Super PACs, while Republicans are using them to gather millions and millions of dollars (Romney’s alone has raised 30 million).  He could hope that taking the high road combined with the sizeable amount of money he has raised on his own would be enough to counter the influence of the spending of these millions, mostly on negative ads. 

His other choice is the one he has gone with … to decide to use all legal means to advance his candidacy and at the same time pledge to work to change the system so all these means are not available in the future.  He opens up another potential source of funds, while also opening himself up to criticism. 

It can’t have been an easy choice.  Neither option is without risk.  Each one has a compelling logic.  On the one hand, you are sticking to your principles.  On the other you are saying that to allow the Republicans to have a significant advantage would be to run the risk of making a much larger sacrifice.  I think that it would have been hard to find fault with either choice.  Certainly, it is hard to take Republican accusations of hypocrisy seriously.  The President made a tough decision and explained it.  It’s what he has tried to do since day one.  That’s what I want my President to do.  I don’t ask that the President be always right, no one is.  I don’t ask that the President always make the same decision I would, no one should or would.  I ask that my President make, rather than shy away from, the tough decisions.  I as that my President explain those decisions.  That’s it.  It seems easy, but history has not shown it to be easy.  I think that this President has, for the most part, has made and explained the tough decisions.  That’s why I’m voting for him.  Certainly the fact that he is using the same means to raise money as his opponents is not going to change my mind.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Duck By Any Other Name

In a small board room, the chief executive officer of a company is talking to his top executives, all of which are men except for one.  He tells them “all right men, we have to deal with this China situation.  And guys, it isn’t going to be easy.” 
What do we call that? 

In a small room filled with lots of toys, a woman is talking to a group of parents and their children.  All of the parents, except for one, are women.  She says, “Moms, it’s time for stretches.  Kids, let’s stand on one leg, and you can hold on to mom if you have to.” 
What do we call that? 

You want to know what I call them?  The same thing.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Of Clint Eastwood and Karl Marx

Chrysler puts out a commercial featuring Clint Eastwood telling us all that if we can come together, stop squabbling and fighting, and work hard we can turn things around as a country just as Chrysler has begun to.  Within a day, people are calling it pro-Obama socialist propaganda.  It’s almost too silly to be true.  Apparently, if you acknowledge any signs of recovery while Obama is still President you are part of a socialist conspiracy.  It doesn’t matter that this is an advertisement for a car company.  It doesn’t matter that in this car company ad Dirty Harry is waxing patriotic and saying that it takes more than one punch to keep us down and folks are going to “hear our engines roar.” It doesn’t matter that when Clint says "the fog, division, discord, and blame made it hard to see what lies ahead,” the visual is not of a conservative protest group but of a pro-union protest outside the capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin suggesting that the discord that separates us is discord brought about by Union ruffians and other liberals.   It doesn’t matter that Clint Eastwood is not a socialist, a liberal, or a supporter of Obama.  It doesn’t matter that the recovery of American automotive manufacturers should be something people of all political positions want.  What appears to matter most is that Obama not be re-elected.  It appears to matter more than economic recovery.  It appears to matter more than what is in the best interests of most Americans.  This is why compromise has become a dirty word.  This is why big government has become the specter of the moment.  This is why an advertisement paid for by a huge car manufacturer is interpreted as socialist propaganda.  This is why it is way past time for the rest of us to stand up and say enough is enough.

Monday, February 6, 2012

“My marine can pick off your honor student at five hundred yards.”

Bumper sticker on a car I often sit behind while waiting to pick up my daughter from kindergarten: “My marine can pick off your honor student at a click and a half.”

Mature response:  I suppose this is meant to be funny, a snappy retort to those who brag about their children on their car bumpers.  Unfortunately, joking about shooting people generally just isn’t funny.  Additionally, when someone brags about their kids and you respond by lauding your child’s marksmanship it makes you seem jealous and your child stupid.  “Your son might be smart but my son could shoot him.”  It wouldn’t be my first response.  Of course, I wouldn’t respond.  That’s probably the biggest problem with this bumper sticker.  Why do you need to respond?  What is there really to respond to?  Why does a child’s academic achievement warrant any response, and particularly such a nasty one?  Expressing such a sentiment just displays your own ignorance, pettiness, and anger.  I sincerely hope that if you have chosen to put this bumper sticker on your car, every day someone asks you to explain what exactly you were thinking.

Not so mature response:  I’m glad for your son.  You must be mighty proud.  It’s too bad, though, that he can’t actually pick off my son without landing in jail.  It’s also too bad he doesn’t have a more marketable skill.

I like government because ... I am suspicious of somebody else

If government does less, than somebody else does more.  The tasks that government performs won’t all vanish.  Some will, for better or for worse ... I tend to think worse.  The rest will be picked up by somebody else.  Call somebody else whatever you want to.  Call it the free market.  It is still somebody else.  I am less likely to know who somebody else is.  I don’t elect somebody else.  Somebody else’s main concern is somebody else.  Maybe that’s good enough for somebody else, but it just isn’t good enough for me.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I like government because ... I don't have a problem with helping people out.

I like government because I'm nice, but not naive.  If I see someone who needs help, I like to help them out.  I like it when I'm in need and other people help me out.  I think that all people in need ought to be helped out.  I know that without government intervention, people don't always get the help they need.  Now, we can disagree about what constitutes help.  I'm fine with that ... as long as our disagreement is followed by discussion and ultimately cooperation and compromise.  I'm not, however, interested in disagreeing over whether people should get help of some kind.  I don't think people should be allowed to starve.  I don't think people should be allowed to sleep at night without a roof over their heads.  I don't think people should be allowed to go without work for which they are fairly compensated if they want it.  I don't think these things can be avoided without a strong and active government.  I want to help people out.  I can't do it by myself.  I can't count on others to do it by themselves.  So, I ask government to do it and I expect them to do it effectively and efficiently.  If they don't, since I still can't do it myself, I keep at them until they do.  I also defend government from folks who either aren't nice or are naive.  Because I am.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I like government because ... I know the Civil War is over

I'm not still smarting over Sherman's march to the sea, maybe that's another reason I don't see the federal government in such a negative light.  I think the Civil War is over.  Of course, I don't see the end of slavery or the disappearance of white only water fountains as a big negative either. I actually thought it was a good thing that the Supreme Court under Earl Warren struck down segregation.  I also thought it was good that the Warren Court took initiative period ... I know it's not fashionable, but I like the idea of an activist Court.  The Warren Court struck a blow against institutionalized racism that would not have been struck for some time if it hadn't intervened.  I like that.  I like the idea of an activist court and an activist government.  That might be because my Constitution of choice is the one written by guys like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, rather than the one written by Jefferson Davis.  I like the Constitution that was created to strengthen the federal government allowing it to act more effectively in the interests of all Americans, rather than the Constitution that was written to strengthen states' rights and ultimately weaken the grip of the northern controlled federal government.  I'm not a big fan of empowering an angry and change averse minority.  I don't have a confederate flag either.  So, maybe that's why I'm OK with keeping the Department of Education.  It doesn't bother me if my children learn about evolution or the Civil War, from beginning to ... end.