Archive for August, 2010

This may really happen.

Monday, August 30th, 2010

I am a confirmed pessimist. I was sure that the Republicans would screw this up before November. You know something ? They may pull this off, after all. Not because they are Republicans, of course. They have just enough sense to get out of the way of a movement with little precedent in this country’s history. John Fund gets it.

In the past, more secular Tea Party types might not have showed up at a religiously-themed event like “Restoring Honor.” Similarly, many of the devoutly religious people I met at Saturday’s rally probably would in the past have shunned an explicitly political event such as Friday night’s Freedom Works meeting. But I kept bumping into the same people at both gatherings.

“I happen to be opposed to gay marriage, but our peril is so great that goes on the back burner,” Debbie Johnson of Georgia told me on Saturday. Bruce Majors, a gay real-estate agent from Washington D.C., had a different take. He told me earlier this year that he felt perfectly comfortable working with the Tea Party on bringing the size of government under control. “We’re both about freedom and we have a common short-term goal,” he said. Indeed, in Washington this past weekend the more libertarian and the more socially conservative elements of the Tea Party seemed to get along just fine.

I still think there is time to screw it up but the force of history seems to be too powerful. I posted before on John Boehner’s talk on economics that could not have been better. Many of us have thought for years that a real experiment with socialist policies might have a salutary effect on those who are vague liberals but not hard left ideologues. The problem was that it would be too dangerous to the country. Well, it happened !

Where are we going ?

Friday, August 27th, 2010

There are several good posts on various blogs today and I thought I would summarize some of them. This is sometimes called a “thumbsucker” column when it appears in the NY Times.

1. Germany is rapidly recovering from the financial crisis. This from, of all people, David Brooks.

During the first half of this year, German and American political leaders engaged in an epic debate. American leaders argued that the economic crisis was so bad, governments should borrow billions to stimulate growth. German leaders argued that a little short-term stimulus was sensible, but anything more was near-sighted. What was needed was not more debt, but measures to balance budgets and restore confidence.

The debate got pointed. American economists accused German policy makers of risking a long depression. The German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, countered, “Governments should not become addicted to borrowing as a quick fix to stimulate demand.”

So, the Germans went one way, we went another. Results ?

The American stimulus package was supposed to create a “summer of recovery,” according to Obama administration officials. Job growth was supposed to be surging at up to 500,000 a month. Instead, the U.S. economy is scuffling along.

The German economy, on the other hand, is growing at a sizzling (and obviously unsustainable) 9 percent annual rate. Unemployment in Germany has come down to pre-crisis levels.

In fact, the second quarter US GDP has now been revised DOWN by 1/3. To 1.6% growth.

As an editorial from the superb online think tank e21 reminds us, the Germans have recently reduced labor market regulation, increased wage flexibility and taken strong measures to balance budgets.

2. Victor Davis Hanson writes excellent columns on his web site but the one today is exceptional. “Decline is a choice.”

In the age of Obama, the notion of not being exceptional or preeminent comes as a relief to millions on the left who pretty much are in sync with the protocols of the United Nations. On the right, there is a sense that Obama is the ultimate expression of downfall; given the wild spending, the iconic efforts abroad at apology, and the rampant entitlements we simply aren’t what we once were. In between, most aren’t quite sure—but sure are worried that we may never climb out of our self-created indebtedness crater, and that the culture’s education, the nation’s borders, and the civilization’s values are eroding.

He makes the point that much of our problems are psychological and, in fact, are the consequences of one generation, the Baby Boomers.

On the plus side, as I mentioned last time, our economy is almost three times larger than China’s. American agriculture is the most productive in the world. There is simply nothing like the farmland in the Great Plains, or the 400 miles of irrigated expanse between Bakersfield and Red Bluff. For all the damage done by the federal government, we remain the most orderly free society on the planet, where merit still to a large degree determines success—not class, race, or tribal affiliation. While our universities in the humanities are increasingly corrupt, their science, engineering, and computer science departments, as well as professional schools in business and medicine, are the best in the world. It is not that Cal Tech, MIT, Harvard or Yale or Stanford are better than counterparts in Germany or Russia or China, but that an entire array such as UCLA, USC, Texas, Ohio State, Duke, and dozens of others is as well.

We have huge reserves of both coal and natural gas, and can quite easily quadruple our nuclear power generation. The U.S. military is not just the most technologically advanced and supplied, but the most experienced in all phases of modern challenges, from air campaigns to counter-insurgency.

I have lost confidence in American arts, in the sense of fiction and poetry, which are now in large part warped by the cult of race/class/gender orthodoxy that brings intertribal awards and recognition, but American scholarship in science, medicine, and the professions remains preeminent.

I agree with all this and have had confirmation with my youngest daughter’s experience at the University of Arizona two years ago. I believe, and she suspected, that her experience, at a cost of $25,000 per year, was useless. She has returned home and is starting junior college in San Diego Monday. She told me what her classes are and they all sound solid and useful.

I could go on, but you get the picture: our parents and grandparents left us a wonderful infrastructure, methodology, and constitutional system. So it is hard for our generation (I was born in 1953) to screw things entirely up, although we have done our best, within a mere twenty years of coming into the responsibility of governance.

Look at the often cited pathologies that are destroying what we inherited, and note how easily they are within our material ability to cure—and yet how psychologically we simply lack the courage to take our medicine.

I agree with his comments and there is an interesting thread in the comments section of the blog. There is a growing backlash against the cultural and political “elite,” including the practices of affirmative action. Racism has been taboo for 40 years. We are now learning that American blacks are the final reservoir of this poison and a backlash may come soon if this continues.

3. The election in Alaska is a microcosm of the coming revolt against the elites. The Alaska Republican primary election was won by a tea party and Sarah Palin backed insurgent. The GOP apparatchiks seem to be trying to steal the election for the incumbent, Lisa Murkowski, an example of nepotism if there ever was one. Sarah Palin began her career by defeating Lisa Murkowski’s father in the election for governor. He appointed his daughter to fill a vacant Senate seat. There is just nothing like starting at the top.

A reliable source unaligned with either GOP senatorial campaign in Alaska, and positioned to know, confirmed for me last night that the Alaskan Republican Party (ARP) stepped up their efforts on behalf of Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the closing days of the election, going so far as to phone bank for her from the Alaska GOP’s headquarters on election day.

There is just no better example of trying to thwart the will of the people. Primary elections should be hands-off for the party. Instead the NRSC seems to be heavily involved in trying to pick candidates. If someone were to write a book on how to fuck up a golden chance to elect lots of Republicans, this should be chapter one.

4. John Boehner gave an excellent speech that may suggest an aggressive GOP agenda. I hope so.

I refer you back to my post on Angelo Codevilla’s essay that I posted on recently. It is amazing to see how quickly his points are being proven true. These are frightening times. I took two friends from England on a tour of California three years ago. Rather than waste time at tourist attractions everyone has seen, I drove them through the Central Valley that Hanson refers to. I wanted them to see the real riches of California. Now, that valley is mostly a dust bowl thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency and its concern over a tiny non-native fish in the Sacramento Delta.

This coming election will be the most important for our future since 1860.

A long and essential discussion of the Middle East.

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I have long read Michael J Totten and he is, in my opinion, the best person to explain the Middle East to Americans. Today, he has a long column on the Middle East which any thinking person should read to understand where we are right now.

If you read nothing else of this column, please read this. It explains so much. It is an interview of a young Israeli PhD scholar of middle east politics.

Jonathan Spyer: And what they have to face up to now—and you know this very well—is that the three most powerful countries in the Middle East are not Arab.

MJT: Yes.

Jonathan Spyer: Israel, Turkey, and Iran. This is difficult for Arabs to deal with.

MJT: Many have a hard time even admitting it. I pointed this out years ago and got all kinds of grief in my inbox from Arabs who said I had no idea what I was talking about.

Jonathan Spyer: I’m sure.

MJT: They said I’m a stupid American who knows nothing of the Middle East, but they’re in denial. The only Arab country calling shots right now is Syria, and that’s only because Bashar Assad is a sidekick of the Persians.

Jonathan Spyer: A Palestinian friend of mine just the other day was telling me how Turkey and Iran are competing with each other to be the standard bearer of the Palestinian cause. Iran, with its sponsorship of Hamas and Hezbollah, and Turkey, with its flotillas, are the two countries with all the creative ideas. What do the Arab states have next to that? Nothing. Arabism’s flagship cause is championed by two non-Arab states.

How Syria fits into all this is one of the biggest divides here in Israel. There are those in the defense establishment who believe Assad’s championship of the resistance is entirely cynical and instrumental, and they want to pry him away from Iran.

MJT: His foreign policy is just instrumental and cynical, but I don’t believe for a minute he can be pried away from Iran.

Jonathan Spyer: I don’t either. And I’m glad that the people around the prime minister don’t buy it.

MJT: How do you know they don’t buy it?

Jonathan Spyer: Because I know some of them. The people around Netanyahu don’t believe this is possible.

MJT: I’m glad to hear that, because I’ve met lots of Israelis who do. And I think they’re crazy to think that. A lot of Israelis simply do not understand Syria.

Jonathan Spyer: Absolutely. They aren’t naïve people by any means. On the contrary. But they find it very hard to except the irrational and ideological elements in Middle East politics. They themselves are not irrational or ideological. They’re extremely rational, and they assume everyone else is, as well. And so they make massive errors.

MJT: It’s a common problem all over the world. Lots of people assume everyone else is just like themselves. Americans often assume most people in the Arab world want what we have. I’ve met plenty of Arabs who believe the United States is involved in these dark conspiracies like their own governments are.

Jonathan Spyer: Yes. Arabs often think they’re being mature and sophisticated by talking this way, but in order to have a proper, grown-up, three-dimensional understanding of American foreign policy you need to understand that the idea of America is one of the things that informs American foreign policy. If you don’t understand that, you won’t be able to understand what the U.S. is doing and why.

And some of the planners and thinkers here in Israel still believe that everyone at the end of the day wants the same things they want. That isn’t the case, and you will make grave errors if you assume that it is. I’m not a fan of Netanyahu’s prime ministership down the line, but he does have people around him who understand the role ideas play in this region. It stops us from making the kinds of errors that, for example, Ehud Barak made in 2000.

MJT: I thought Barak’s withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon was the right thing to do, and so was offering Arafat a Palestinian state. I supported both, and I still do even in hindsight, but we have to be honest about the results of those policies. War followed both, and Israelis will have to be extremely careful about withdrawing from the West Bank and the eastern half of Jerusalem.

Jonathan Spyer: Absolutely. Many people still say we all know what the final settlement is going to look like, so we just need to get the two sides together and work it out. To that I say, “No. You don’t know what the final status is going to look like. The final status you have in mind is what you came up with by negotiating with yourself.”

I was an early skeptic of the Oslo peace process.

MJT: Why? I wasn’t, but you were right and I was wrong. What did you see then that I didn’t?

Jonathan Spyer: We all get things wrong in the Middle East, but that time I was right. I’m not saying I was some kind of genius—I was just a kid—but I did manage to call that one for whatever it’s worth.

All you had to do at the time was be interested enough in Arab political culture to listen carefully to what the other side said. That’s all it took. Once you did that, you’d have to be a moron not to see what was coming. Most people weren’t doing that.

Hezbollah erected a billboard on the border facing south into Israel showing a severed head being held by its hair. Text in Hebrew says, Sharon, don’t forget. Your soldiers are still in Lebanon.

MJT: It’s the same in the U.S. today. Too many people don’t want to listen to what’s being said in the Arab world. A lot of it is deeply disturbing. I could be wrong, and I don’t like to psychoanalyze people, but I think that’s the problem. They’re afraid of the implications of all this crazy talk in the Middle East. So they pretend they don’t hear it, they explain it away, or they say it’s not serious.

Jonathan Spyer: I think that’s right.

MJT: I don’t like what I often hear either, and I don’t know what we should do about it, but I’m aware of it, and it’s there whether I like it or not.

Jonathan Spyer: That’s the bottom line. And from there you have to build a rational policy. You may not like it, but what else can you do?

Israelis were exhausted by a half-century of war before the peace process started. Every family in the country was shaped by it. There was an immense longing in the 1990s for peace, normalcy, and the good life. We had an intense will and longing for that. So when the Oslo crowd came to town and said, “You can be born again, you can have peace with the Arabs,” people bought into it.

They were idealists, and they were rationalists. If a note of triumphalism creeps into my voice, it’s only because I remember how arrogant they were during the 1990s when they thought they were right. They were extremely contemptuous toward everyone at the time who was trying to warn them. We were described as anachronisms from a different century.

MJT: That’s what I thought at the time.

Jonathan Spyer: Okay. Fine. It’s okay.

MJT: I was young. I wasn’t writing about the Middle East then.

Jonathan Spyer: Sure. It’s fine. Everyone gets this place wrong.

MJT: No one has ever been right consistently. I don’t think it’s possible.

Jonathan Spyer: It’s not.

MJT: This place is too weird.

Jonathan Spyer: [Laughs.] Yeah. It is.

MJT: It took me years to understand how this place works just on the most basic level because it’s so different from the part of the world I grew up in. I first had to stop assuming Arabs think like Americans. Then I had to learn how they think differently from Americans. I still don’t fully understand them, and I probably never will.

Jonathan Spyer: It’s hard. I used to try to figure it out by extrapolating from the Jewish experience, but it doesn’t work. Their response to events is totally different. It’s useless. You have to throw this sort of thinking into the trash or you can’t understand anything.

MJT: When the U.S. went into Iraq, I thought Iraqis would react the way I would have if I were Iraqi.

Jonathan Spyer: Sure.

MJT: But they didn’t. But I wasn’t only projecting. I knew they weren’t exactly like me. They’re Iraqis. I guess I expected the Arabs of Iraq to react the way the Kurds of Iraq did, and the Kurds reacted the way I would have reacted. But the Arab world isn’t America, and it is not Kurdistan.

MJT: The Arab world has its own political culture, and it’s not like the political culture I know, or even like other Middle Eastern political cultures.

If the Palestinians had a Western political culture, the problem here could be resolved in ten minutes. If you Israelis were dealing with Canadians instead of Palestinians, you would have had peace a long time ago. And if the Palestinians were dealing with Canadians instead of Israelis, there would still be a conflict.

Jonathan Spyer: That’s exactly right. And that’s why it’s so frustrating sometimes when people say, “If only the two sides could sit down and talk.”

This is why the people who worry that the GZM controversy will affect how Muslims think about Americans, are foolish. The GZM controversy is a pimple on the ass of the issues between Islam and the West. The sooner we understand this, the less chance of catastrophic error.

The NYT’s Embryonic Stem Cell Nonsense

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

By Bradley J. Fikes

A federal judge has overturned Obama’s 2009 executive order loosening most of the Bush limits on human embryonic stem cell funding. The decision has thrown researchers into perplexity, as they try to determine what is now legally permitted.

But the New York Times is even more confused, judging by a strange and overwrought story by Gardiner Harris about the decision. Harris writes:

“For scientists, the problem with the judge’s reasoning is that it may render all scientific work regarding embryonic stem cells illegal — including work allowed under the more restrictive policy adopted by President George W. Bush in 2001.”

That’s false. Bush’s policy, and the law authorizing it, only apply to human embryonic stem cell research using federal funds. The story mentions this fact. A lot of embryonic stem cell research is funded with non-federal funds, such as through California’s $3 billion stem cell research program.

So there is no way that “all scientific work regarding embryonic stem cells” can be made illegal under the decision. And the story doesn’t attempt to say how this could happen. It even quotes the plaintiffs saying they’re not seeking to ban all embryonic stem cell research, just to reinstate Bush’s standards.

Apparently, no NYT editor saw the contradiction, or cared about it.

Also strange was Harris’ second-graf description of how human embryonic stem cell researchers viewed the decision:

“The ruling came as a shock to scientists at the National Institutes of Health and at universities across the country, which had viewed the Obama administration’s new policy and the grants provided under it as settled law.”

Since it was under litigation, Obama’s executive order hardly qualifies as “settled law”. Those who thought so wasn’t paying attention. Or perhaps they were misinformed by relying on the New York Times.

DISCLAIMER: This is my opinion and not necessarily that of my employer, the North County Times.

The Left and its delusions.

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

I skim the Washington Monthly blog as a window on the thinking of the far left. They are more civil (except in comments) than the DailyKos but the mentality is the same. Today is a reasonable example. The topic is taxes.

Roll Call noted this morning that the Senate is moving towards “an epic election-year battle over Bush-era tax cuts.” That sounds about right.

The dispute helps capture exactly what the two parties prioritize right now — Dems want to keep lower rates for the middle class, while reducing the deficit by letting the rich go back to the rates they paid when the economy was healthy. Republicans want to hold the Dem proposal hostage, fighting tooth and nail for breaks for millionaires and billionaires, and adding $680 billion to the deficit the GOP pretended to care about for a while.

The “middle class” is a very elastic concept for them with the top income range going all the way down to $150,000 per year. Secondly, the group with incomes of $250,000 or more, the target class, consists of mainly small business people who are not incorporated and who file all income with a personal return.

There is also no concept here of who pays the taxes. Shouldn’t “tax cuts” be distributed to those who pay taxes ? Otherwise, it is just one more government handout to those who are nonproductive. Here is a look. The top 1% of income pays 40% of the income taxes. Hmmm That’s also about $410,000 per year, not $2 million.

The top 5% pays 60.63% of the income taxes. The threshold for the top 5% is $160,000. Well, what do you know ?

Billionaires need little help from Republicans but they do invest and are the source of most new jobs. The concern for “the deficit” on the part of Democrats may be translated as the left side of the entire argument about spending versus taxing. Republicans want to talk about cutting spending, especially tea party Republicans. I even have a compromise: Let the tax rates go back to the Clinton administration rates but let’s also go back to the number of government employees of the Clinton period.

[W]here would this $680 billion go? Nearly all of it would go to the richest 1 percent of Americans, people with incomes of more than $500,000 a year. But that’s the least of it: the policy center’s estimates say that the majority of the tax cuts would go to the richest one-tenth of 1 percent. Take a group of 1,000 randomly selected Americans, and pick the one with the highest income; he’s going to get the majority of that group’s tax break. And the average tax break for those lucky few — the poorest members of the group have annual incomes of more than $2 million, and the average member makes more than $7 million a year — would be $3 million over the course of the next decade. […]

Notice how the “richest” become those with incomes over $2 million when we are talking about one aspect of the issue but, when it is time to actually impose the taxes, the incomes shrink back down to $250,000 or, in some cases, it shriveles all the way down to $150,000 per year.

Midwestern centrists such as Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) have called for an extension of all of Bush’s tax cuts, including those benefiting individuals earning more than $200,000 and families earning over $250,000 annually.

Other Democrats say they would consider raising taxes on individuals and families earning below those thresholds, despite President Obama’s promise that middle-class families would not see their taxes increase.

Some liberals balk at the notion that families earning $250,000 or more belong in the middle class.

“Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars? Is that the top 1 percent of Americans, or half a percent? Come on!” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

Harkin said he would be willing to extend the tax cuts for families earning $150,000 or less annually.

See how elastic that number is ? Families with a combined income of $150,000 are “rich.” We went from $2 million per year to $150,000 per year just like that!

Or we’re told that it’s about helping the economy recover. But it’s hard to think of a less cost-effective way to help the economy than giving money to people who already have plenty, and aren’t likely to spend a windfall.

Did you notice that one ? Tax cuts “give” money to people who have “plenty.” Just keep repeating to yourself; it’s not your money. It’s the government’s money and they are “giving you some of it.” They used to call that “To each according to his needs.”

No, this has nothing to do with sound economic policy. Instead, as I said, it’s about a dysfunctional and corrupt political culture, in which Congress won’t take action to revive the economy, pleads poverty when it comes to protecting the jobs of schoolteachers and firefighters, but declares cost no object when it comes to sparing the already wealthy even the slightest financial inconvenience.

Once again, a translation. Schoolteachers “need” the money. Firefighters is just a cover. The “wealthy” (Those with over $150,000 per year income) don’t “need” the money.

Note, there is no concept of a private economy here. Nobody invests; nobody starts a business. The story of the 2001 tax cuts that Democrats want to repeal is here in more detail.

This is what socialism looks like in practice.

Happy Days might even be here again.

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

I am an old USC fan going back to the half senior season in 1956. I hated to see Pete Carroll go. SC has been hated as only persistant winners can be hated. See the New York Yankees for confirmation. Reggie Bush was never my favorite player. I thought Carroll put him in situations he should not have been in because he was grooming him for the Heisman. I think it may have alienated Lendale White who would have won the Heisman had he stayed for his senior year. Bush was not an inside runner and White was passed over too many times for my taste.

Then, of course, Bush stabbed Carroll and the university in the back. I was not a great fan of Garrett as Athletic Director, either.

Now, better times may be coming. Two of my favorite players were Haden and McKay. They were overachievers who both had short pro careers then settled into successful civilian careers as lawyers. Haden even became the radio voice of Notre Dame football in addition to his law practice. Now, they are back together again, responding as usual when the university needs them.

That guy looks exactly like a successful lawyer who responded when his alma mater needed him.

On the serious side, it is a relationship of two 57-year-old men with unwavering respect for each other.

McKay says, “I don’t think, in all these years, that we’ve ever had a disagreement.”

Haden says, “I trust him completely.”

On the less serious side, they are also unwavering in their pursuit of ways to rip each other. McKay calls his boss the “short quarterback.” Haden calls McKay the “employee.”

McKay says the touchdown catch in the Rose Bowl was due to his superior athletic skills. Haden says the ball hit him in the hands.

But the respect never stops filtering through the rips and jabs.

I wish Pete Carroll had had a guy he could trust implicitly.

The Ground Zero Mosque

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

I think that about says it.

Maybe one more comment. Some of the ruling class apologists have said there are other mosques in the area so what’s the big deal ? The answer, I think, is pretty clear. To quote:

Tribeca Tavern owner Greg Kosovoi said that for 10 years he was unaware that a mosque was next door. Eric Benn, co-owner of the 11-year-old Bubble Lounge, said the same.

‘None of us knew there was a mosque there,’ he said. ‘What kind of research are we supposed to do? Do we knock on every single door?’

The building at 245 West Broadway, open for services twice a week, has no signage other than the following four lines, in small print, on the door:

Dergah/Nur Ashki Jurahai/Sufi Order/Masjid al-Farah

A report written by an SLA investigator and obtained by the Trib concludes that the building is indeed a mosque, but states: ‘There are no signs or any indication that there is a Mosque located in the building.’

It’s not the mosque, it’s the symbolism.

Gay Marriage

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Gay Marriage is a huge issue right now, especially in California where an obviously biased judge has twisted the law into a pretzel to rule that Proposition 8, an amendment to the California Constitution that limits marriage to a man and a woman, is unconstitutional. I will leave it to Hugh Hewitt to explain the legal malpractice that took place. Having said all that, my concerns about gay marriage are limited to one aspect of the issue. It’s interesting that Glenn Beck shares my opinion.

This is from a recent Bill O’Reilly program

O’REILLY: But let’s take the gay marriage deal. Big ruling in California. You really didn’t cover that much, right?

BECK: Nope.


BECK: Because honestly I think we have bigger fish to fry. You can argue about abortion or gay marriage or whatever –

O’REILLY: Do you believe — do you believe that gay marriage is a threat to the country in any way?

BECK: A threat to the country?

O’REILLY: Yeah, it going to harm the country?

BECK: No, I don’t. Will the gays come and get us?

O’REILLY: OK. Is it going to harm the country in any way?

BECK: I believe — I believe what Thomas Jefferson said. If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, what difference is it to me?

O’REILLY: OK, so you don’t. That’s interesting. Because I don’t think a lot of people understand that about you.

BECK: As long as we — as long as we are not going down the road of Canada, where it now is a problem for churches to have free speech. If they can still say, hey, we –

O’REILLY: Oppose it –

BECK: — we oppose it –

O’REILLY: Right.

BECK: — but we’re not trying to kill anybody or trying to –

O’REILLY: In Sweden they have that too. OK, so gay marriage to you, not a big a threat to the nation.

This is exactly my opinion. I think the drive for marriage, as marriage, not civil unions has two possible motives behind it. One is simply to assert that gays have the right to every single social structure that straights have. That’s OK with me although I think this great obsession with marriage began with the AIDS epidemic as many gay men became concerned about promiscuity as a threat. The interest in marriage as a vow of sexual fidelity is understandable. Back in the early days of the epidemic, when there was no effective therapy, it was my very difficult duty to tell a very nice engineer that he had the disease. He protested that it couldn’t be because he had been in a committed relationship for ten years. At a moment like that, what can you say ?

I should add that such ethical dilemmas are not limited to the gay population as my partner once had a personal friend come to him asking about painful urination. As expected, my partner found that his friend had gonorrhea. He started to joke about being more careful who he favored with his attention but stopped when the friend vigorously denied any extramarital sex. He was smart enough to shut up and then, later, called the wife in. She had been bar hopping when her husband was away and had given him the STD. Of course, gonorrhea is not fatal.

The other possible motive behind this drive, which reaches the level of obsession in people like Andrew Sullivan, is an attempt to force the major religions to accept homosexuality and to retract thousands of years of doctrine that it is sinful. Andrew Sullivan professes devout Catholicism. The gay activists, like ACT UP in previous years, have targeted the Catholic Church. I can see the next step after acceptance when gay activists demand that churches perform these weddings and sue when they are refused. This is my sole real concern and it is interesting to see that Beck shares this opinion.

Good Advice

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Today, over at NRO, there is an excellent column by Michael Tanner about the coming election.

Given this record of Democratic ineptitude and the voters’ reaction to it, one would think that Republicans would be talking about these issues every day. Instead, Republicans and conservatives have spent recent weeks talking about such distracting side-issues as immigration, the 14th amendment, gay marriage, and when and where mosques should be built.

This is not the year for the culture wars to be emphasized. This is potentially a watershed election. People are worried about the survival of the republic. The economy was trashed by reckless financial speculation that was NOT George Bush’s fault, although he could have done more to stop it. The two biggest culprits are still untouched; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, protected by the Democrats as they have been Democratic Party sandboxes for years. Subsidized housing for the poor became a housing bubble and we are still dealing with the consequences. This is not the time for social conservatives to take over the platform.

Despite their repeated threats to stay home if Republicans deviated from a commitment to conservative social issues, it wasn’t the Religious Right that deserted Republicans in 2008 (or 2006, for that matter). Turnout among self-described members of the Religious Right remained steady from 2004 to 2008, and these voters remained loyally Republican. Roughly 70 percent of white evangelicals and born-again Christians voted Republican in 2006, and 74 percent in 2008, essentially in line with how they have been voting for the past two or three decades.

Like the blacks with the Democrats, the social conservatives have no where else to go. The difference is, although this is not polite to say, the social conservatives still vote on other issues. They don’t stay home in big numbers although the fumble of Bush’s drunk driving arrest might have caused enough to stay home to tie the 2000 election. This year, they need to show they have other concerns.

It was suburbanites, independents, and others who were fed up with the Republican drift toward big government who stayed home — or, worse, voted Democratic in 2008. Republicans carried the suburbs in both 2000 (49 to 47) and 2004 (52 to 47), but in 2008, suburban voters — notably wealthy, college-educated professionals, many of whom consider themselves moderate on social issues but economically conservative — voted for Barack Obama by a margin of 50 to 48. The switch among voters in the suburbs of Columbus, Charlotte, and Indianapolis, for instance, was largely responsible for moving Ohio, North Carolina, and Indiana into the Democratic column. Democrats also continued their gains in the more independent, libertarian West.

This is the year of the libertarian, not the goofy libertarian who wants to sell all the highways but the moderate libertarian that makes up a very large share of the tea party activists. These people are outraged enough to hold signs and stand on street corners, something that 95% of them never did before in their lives.

These independent and suburban voters are now regretting their Democratic flirtation. They didn’t vote for record deficits, the health-care bill, bailouts to banks and auto companies, or cap-and-trade. Having rejected big-government conservatism, they never realized they were going to get even-bigger-government liberalism.

But these voters are not culture warriors. Polls show that while they are fiscally conservative, and very upset by excessive government spending and rising deficits, they are socially moderate, tending toward indifference or even support on issues like gay marriage.

This is the year for the big tent. Gay marriage is not the issue that is going to save the country from economic collapse. I am personally neutral on gay marriage with the exception of a concern that this is actually a war on religions that disapprove of homosexuality. Having said that, let’s talk about it next year.

This year we have to save the country.

A progress report

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Winston and I are moving into our house in Lake Arrowhead. Today, I had the Direct TV guy here for about four hours and we now have TV. Courtesy of a neighbor who has not figured out how to set up security on a wireless router, we also have internet. What else could I want ? Well, the contractors who were working on a wetness problem in the family room that involved mold spores, seem to have disconnected the ducts from the furnace so I cannot heat the house. I called one highly recommended furnace repair man and he said “No.” He was going “down the hill today.” So much for that. I stopped at the local hardware store to pick up some duct tape and a mask. The mask was because I had a coughing fit that lasted a half hour after I handled the ducts earlier today.

Well, the best intentions and all that. It is now 7 PM and I haven’t fixed the ducts. I have had my dinner and a glass of wine. That, after all, is the order of precedence. Now, we have to get Winston his dinner of ground beef. Then a cigar and a walk.
More later.

Further progress as of 8/18/10.

Most of the boxes are unpacked. Winston’s fence is not yet completed as Lowes did not have enough “kennel wire.” I need 370 feet. The heat works but the past few days have been unbearably hot so that issue is moot at the moment. I figured out the trash day and that the trash company does not provide cans so that was another trip down the hill to Lowes to get trash cans and a fan.

Next week, the contractor will be restoring the downstairs family room, which was torn up due to a mold issue. My office will also be fixed up next week.

The weather is beautiful although I hear they had a heavy rainstorm over at Big Bear yesterday. It is 26 miles east and about 2,000 feet higher.