Selma Envy

 

SelmaHeschelMarchI was never in the military; I was in the last draft class that sent people to Vietnam, but my draft number was 275, so I wasn’t called. Rush Limbaugh likes to recount the story of how Bill Clinton regretted that 9/11 happened on his successor’s watch, thus depriving him of the opportunity to show true leadership.

I say this to make the point that as we look back, we sometimes wish that we could put ourselves into today’s events in such a way as to allow us to be cloaked in the more forgiving glow that the passage of time has given to events that were so raw at the time. Unfortunately, there are also those who will use the glow of past events to shine a light upon things that they can’t justify with reason:

“Why do so many young adults paint absurd caricatures of Christians who request government protection of their religious freedoms, arguing their true goal is to ban gay men from sitting at the local lunch counter?… Why do so many people, Gen Xers and younger, invent a monster of anti-gay bigotry and keep screaming the monster is real despite a mountain of contrary facts standing before them?”

GOP 2016: Drop Anti-SSM Plank or Drop Party Platform Entirely?

 

platformAt Hot Air yesterday, Noah Rothman asked: “Will opposition to gay marriage disappear from the GOP’s party platform?” Rothman claims that only “vicious partisans” on either side of the aisle care about platforms. I don’t know about vicious, but he’s right to say the whole platform process is outdated.

In national election years, the candidate at the top of the ticket becomes the embodiment of the party platform. Who cares about the student government-like exercise of delegates voting on an official statement of principles? Its sole purpose has become putting a social issues face on the punching bag for media coverage. The prelude to convention coverage becomes a series of divisive stories about how Republicans continue to be out of touch with young voters and emerging trends (as defined by MSM reporters). I do so hate it when they’re right.

Rothman cites polls indicating that voter sentiment on same-sex marriage is trending away from the traditional view, even among Republicans in states like New Hampshire and South Carolina. Younger voters with strong views about personal freedom are clearly leading the charge. So why not cancel the scheduled media event of a party platform debate on SSM? Isn’t the convention mostly just a kick-off event for the fall campaign anyway? Won’t social issues be pushed enough by the liberal press without Republicans themselves initiating the blood-letting?

A Few Thoughts on Indiana and Coercion

 

imageConservatives are allergic to government coercion. This allergy informs all of our positions on public policy. It informs out position on religious freedom. The reason liberals can’t tell the difference between the promotion of liberty and promotion of “hate” all comes down to our differing views of coercion. For conservatives, political coercion is the original sin of authoritarian governments. For liberals, it is the glue that binds their entire moral identity.

Consider two pillars of the progressive left: Social Security and Obamacare. Would either of these programs survive even a month if they weren’t compulsory? Would any liberal program survive? And if this kind of coercion represents a social good, then it would not seem at all unethical to force a business owner into an involuntary transaction. Once you cross that line, “hate” is the only logical explanation for opposing their policies.

(Incidentally, I used to allowed for the possibility that the charge of “hate” is just an attempt to shut down debate by casting conservatives as unreasonable, but I have talked to enough liberals to know that they actually believe this stuff).

Reiding Between the Lines

 

ReidHis decision not to seek another Senate term sent Washington into a tizzy last week, begging questions as to what prompted the surprise career choice and what it portends for control of the chamber beyond 2016. But enough about Indiana Senator Dan Coats . . .

Instead, it’s Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who made the big splash in announcing that he won’t seek a sixth term next year. And this being the nation’s capital, where no one voluntarily relinquishes power unless (a) they’re shoved out the door or (b) happen to be awaiting indictment, one wonders what all contributed to Reid’s retirement.

Here are three things to ponder:

The Estate Tax: an Explanation and a Modest Proposal

 

shutterstock_222504601As a lawyer, I spent a good part of my career helping people and families transfer wealth from one generation to the next in the most wholesome way possible. Though I’m not quite a specialist, this gave me some insight into estate tax system, why it doesn’t work, and what we should do with it.

As Americans, we are born into a state of liberty, meaning we have self-ownership and the freedoms to voluntarily exchange our labor for property and that property for other property as we see fit. The mix of property that we own when we, as P. G. Woodehouse wrote, “turn in our dinner pail” is our estate. When smart, hardworking (and lucky) Americans do this for a few decades, those estates can become quite large.

Teddy Roosevelt (prep school, Harvard, Columbia) inherited such an estate, freeing him to pursue unproductive activities full-time. This, oddly, led him to believe that allowing very productive individuals to pass on large estates to their children leads to a dangerous concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. The estate tax started out modestly enough, went up and down during and after World War I, until another patrician Roosevelt (prep school, Harvard, Columbia) came along. Roosevelt and his New Deal Democrats blamed the Great Depression on a conspiracy of rich people, and they have been doing it ever since.

The Enduring Problem of GITMO

 

imageWriting in the Washington Examiner, Byron York suggests that the prosecution of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is likely to rekindle debate over the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. President Obama is apparently embarrassed that he has not been able to close the prison as promised six years ago and — given his penchant for taking questionable executive action over congressional objections — it’s reasonable to expect him to do something about it in the next few years. There’s no way that ends well.

But while it’d be best for Obama not to get his way on this matter, GITMO’s use as a detention facility — and the political maneuvering around it — should not continue past the next presidents’ term. The prison’s location was clearly chosen less for its geographic advantages — members are welcome to correct me if I’ve missed something, but Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia has long struck me as a superior location in almost every regard that way — than for its unique political situation, being situated on the only spot on earth from which the United States military cannot be evicted that is also not subject to US civilian law. It’s humiliating for the United States military to feel it has to hide its prisoners from civilian courts (though I leave it to readers to decide on their own whether this speaks worse about our military or our courts). Comparisons to a gulag are offensive on many levels, but that’s hardly an endorsement of the situation.

Adding to the circus has been our nation’s inability to prosecute the prisoners, even under the relatively easy standards of evidence and proof afforded by the military tribunals set-up nearly a decade ago. Indeed, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s military trial is yet to even start. Unless something changes the situation — which, again, I doubt will be a good thing under President Obama — it’s likely that his detention will span at least three presidencies without resolution.

Hillary Clinton and the Perils of Inevitability

 

416px-Paul_Martin_in_2006To those who say that it is inevitable that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic Party nominee, I have a two word rebuttal: Paul Martin. My American readers will respond “Who?” My Canadian readers will immediately know what I am talking about.

To understand my allusion one must look back 10 to 15 years in Canadian history. In the late 90’s, Paul Martin was Canada’s finance minister. He became a national hero for balancing the budget and was the most popular Liberal politician in Canada. His boss, the wily Jean Chretien hated, him. In the early 2000’s, when it was clear that Chretien’s time was coming to an end, the Canadian news media played-up Paul Martin the way the US media played up Barack Obama in 2008.

As the press told it, Paul Martin was the colossus that bestrode the Canadian body politic. He is fiscally conservative and socially liberal, just the way we like our politicians. In a word, Paul Martin was inevitable.

America Is A Better, Healthier Country Than It Was a Few Weeks Ago

 

On March 4, the US Department of Justice issued a report concluding that the evidence in the Ferguson case overwhelmingly supported Office Darren Wilson’s account that he shot Michael Brown in self-defense, and overwhelmingly contradicted Dorian Johnson’s story of his friend being executed in cold blood. Then, just yesterday, police in Charlottesville, Virginia announced that there is simply no evidence to substantiate the claim that a group of male students gang-raped one of their classmates at a frat campus party. It’s less clear what, if anything, did happen, but it’s absolutely clear that it wasn’t even close to what Sabrina Erdely reported last fall.

These findings are good news in and of themselves — I prefer to live in a country without murderously racist cops and savage gangs of undergraduates, thank you very much — but that’s not the important part. The huge, unforeseen, and wonderful development in both of these cases is that many people who were invested in the narratives these incidents were meant to highlight have admitted, clearly and publicly that they were based on lies. That rarely happens and we should be pleased that it has.

When Does it End?

 

shutterstock_180292469Yesterday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz announced his candidacy for US President at Liberty University in Virginia.  He characterized his candidacy as being one of restoring American ideals and values. He characterized his candidacy as a call to arms to conservatives — young and old alike — to defend the notion of freedom in the United States. And before the crowd (supposedly forced to be there according to some) filed out of the auditorium, the denouncing of his candidacy could be heard far and wide among the very people who claim to seek the very same thing that Cruz does: a return to a proud, strong, and free America.

The denouncing was not aimed at his policies, per se, nor was it a major rejection of him ideologically. It was simply rooted in style. Some commented on how he comes off as “slimy” or insincere.  Some did not like the notion that he targeted Evangelical Christians. And even higher up the food chain, C.W. Cooke of National Review, complained that he came off as Joel Olstein seeking to sell the audience a used car.

When does this end? When does the Republican Party and those who claim membership of the conservative movement in the United States stop torpedoing Conservative candidates over petty disputes of style? Just last week there was another example of this aimed at Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker because he did not seem to be willing to throw flames at the idea of ethanol subsidies when he spoke in Iowa recently. Now we have complaints that Ted Cruz does not quite know how to get the proper presidential crease in his slacks.

Member Post

 

Obama Floats Mandatory Voting, Says It Would Be ‘Transformative’ It comes as no surprise to me that a Chicago Democrat would call for mandatory voting. Even the dead vote in Chicago. If the dead care enough to fulfill their civic obligation to vote there is no excuse for the living to shirk their civic obligation to vote. Preview Open

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GOP Primary Madness?

 

bracketsSean Davis argues states should compete to hold the first-in-the-nation primary.

If coffee is for closers, then first-in-the-nation caucuses should be preserved for winners. Thankfully, I have a solution to this problem: instead of operating under a primary handout system, the GOP should require state parties to compete for the top primary calendar spots. That solves the massive incentive problem that currently plagues the party primary system.

He continues:

Cash For Clunker Systems

 

shutterstock_82828816What can be said about the Federal New Starts Fund? Other than explicitly favoring a legacy technology over any and all potential alternatives, contributing to rank partisanship, wasting federal dollars on unneeded projects, and risking lives, it’s a total winner.

The fund doles-out approximately $2B a year in grants to municipalities looking to expand their light rail systems. However, it makes no funding available either for maintenance of existing systems, or for alternative transportation systems, such as buses, which are often cheaper, more efficient, and often safer (I’m ignoring the matter of whether or not local systems should even be federally funded to begin with). As such, city officials — already over-eager for photo-ops of new construction– are further tempted by a huge pile of cash for slick new projects, regardless of whether or not that’s what best serves their constituents. It’s also highly politicized in that having a Democrat representing you on the relevant committee is almost a guarantor of disproportionate funding; the opposite is the case if you’re represented by a Republican.

The Cato Daily Podcast has the full story:

Single Mothers and Conservatism

 

shutterstock_209614678I would like to pose two questions to my follow Ricochet members: What should be the conservative answer be to unwed single mothers? How should the GOP/Conservatives support existing single mothers (to include widows, separated, divorced, unwed)?

I think we have a tendency to focus on the origins of the issue of single mothers — such as the rise of the welfare state and the sexual revolution — without addressing how we would support those single mothers that need help today. Social Conservatives are pro-life, pro-motherhood, and pro-marriage. However, the Left perpetuates the stereotype that Conservatives are not supportive of single mothers, and it works for them politically. In the 2012 presidential election 75% of single mothers voted for the Democratic ticket.

So what say you, Ricochet? Should we cede that portion of the electorate to the Democrats and to likely dependence on the state? I believe we can do better than that.

The 2015 Obama Scandal Bracket

 

With so many White House scandals—and new ones popping up every day—how are average citizens supposed to keep track? Wouldn’t it be nice if Obama went on ESPN and mapped them all on a bracket?

Don’t waste your time on college basketball when you can make March Madness matter. Introducing the 2015 Obama Scandal Bracket! Click here for a full-size version and vote for the scandal you think will bring down the president.

The Ides Have It

 

tumblr_mji45nGw2l1r7sitbo1_1280Yesterday was the Ides of March, which leads us in one of two directions: 1) Watching the so-so 2011 political thriller of the same name, featuring George Clooney and Ryan Gosling (why does fictional politics — Ides of MarchHouse of CardsBob Roberts — involve Pennsylvania lawmakers of dubious morals?). 2) Or, given the events on this date in ancient Rome, pondering the intersection of statesmen, their supposed friends, and the wielding of knives.

Which leads us to the current goings-on between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Technically, it’s not a political backstabbing. Or even a shiv in the ribs.

An Appeal to Older People From a Millennial

 

shutterstock_177669056I recently had a discussion with an older cousin of mine in his 50s. He was telling me he would like to see the welfare state gone, deregulation, smaller government, and all the other standard stuff Conservatives want for the future. Then he was telling me how my generation is footing the bill and tough luck for you guys. Live with it while I benefit because you guys didn’t vote the other way in very large numbers. I have heard this same line of argument or reasoning multiple times before. And I explained to him that this position towards millennials as on the hook for paying for the Boomers’ and Gen-Xers’ tab is immoral.

First off, Social Security and Medicare are the biggest welfare programs in the country. People get mad when I say it, but it is true. It was sold to the country as a government-run savings account, but that isn’t the case. People generally take out more than they put in and these programs are bankrupting the nation. Medicare alone will rise from about $615 billion at present, to a little over $1 trillion in just the next seven years. The rise in costs is far beyond anything that was put into it. This is welfare, pure and simple. It is robbing the young and their future to pay for the old. It is robbing the future of this country. That is what is happening. To complain about Uncle Sam stealing or taxing all the time while cashing these checks and enjoying medicare is hypocrisy to the 10th power.

Yes, you got fleeced. The government forcibly took money out of your paychecks for decades to fund unsustainable programs that are robbing the future of this country you hold dear, and the futures of your kids and grandkids, whom I also hope you hold just as dear. You lost that money and what was done to you is unjust. But to then turn around and fleece your progeny because you got robbed does not make it right. It makes things even more unjust and puts in jeopardy the economic well being of your progeny and this nation. I am 26 years old. These programs will not exist at all when I am old enough to be done working or can work no longer. But if I had the choice right now or in the foreseeable future, I would tell the government to keep the money they robbed from me, as I will not jeopardize or steal my descendants’ future. Many conservatives have bought into the idea that we should just accept the New Deal and Great Society as already here. I reject that, totally. The New Deal and Great Society have given us decades of nothing but highway robbery and phony promises. As I reminded my cousin, Millennials didn’t invent Social Security or Medicare, and we have nothing to do with — or to gain from — these programs that will soon break our country.

Member Post

 

I keep hearing that we conservatives need to tell more stories to make people understand our point of view. Senator Rand Paul spoke Friday at Bowie State, which describes itself as an “Historically Black College” in the Maryland university system. He relates story after story of real people whose lives have been affected by bad […]

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Have Our Founding Fathers Failed Us?

 

imageIf the Founding Fathers failed in any regard, they failed to make governance sufficiently horrible, thankless, difficult, rancorous, disagreeable, and ineffective. No doubt once they found themselves in it, they discovered just how awful it really was, but they failed to keep it that way.

Little by little, steps have been taken, salaries increased, perks added, trappings acknowledged, and holding office has morphed into the insular, protected, self-congratulatory, celebrity, investment club that it now is. To paraphrase Mel Brooks: it’s good to be the government.

Our government used to be the place where only prominent, wealthy, self-less men took on the thankless tasks of self-governance. Now it’s the place where the politically ambitious rise to gain wealth and prominence. It’s full of carpet baggers and grifters on all sides of the aisle. They aspire to Washington as that’s the place where the real money and power is. Forget that the real work of government should be a tedious grind of difficult choices. “Go along, get along” is the motto; that and “You’ll get yours.”