Friday, December 31, 2010

A Review of the Year, Sort Of.

The Democrats want to bust the filibuster because the Republicans have used it so much in blocking many of their plans. Yet they used it themselves quite often thwarting the goals former President George W. Bush. This tells us two things: the Democrats, once again, are hypocrites, and that those in power like to wield that power.

The filibuster is Constitutional, folks, under Article I. If we alter it at all,then we ought to go back to when the Senator speaking had to hold the floor and stay there while filibustering. Any way you slice it, let it stand as a defense against tyranny, even if it is too often used for simple political gain or advantage. There are times when we must take the bitter with the sweet.

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has been on strike for what, now, 13 weeks? No one seems to miss it. No one really cares, outside of self serving classical music patrons, whether it is there or not. That is the final word on the subject. There is no need to support optional features or unimportant peripheral issues cannot support themselves, no matter how necessary you believe they are or what positive, ahem, note you think it may sound for the community. Having a local professional symphony is just not a big deal. The crisis, such as it is, isn't worth a quarter note.

Barack Obama and his minions forced through health care reform, and paid dearly in November. This demonstrates that the political process can work. When the people are riled enough to do something within it.

Tim Tebow's anti-abortion ad during the Super Bowl was one simple yet stunning bit of cinema, and the liberal outburst against it demonstrated their complete loathing of human life. How dare we suggest that human life is special? That's the trouble with us conservatives: we think life important.

Whatever happened to the Wikileaks, uh, scandal? Somehow it doesn't seem so awful as it was supposed to be, with what's his name behind it in legal trouble and no Third World War yet.

The Tea Party demonstrated real political clout in 2010. Are they merely an organized minority or do they represent a greater portion of American public than we are supposed to believe? Either way, as the New Year dawns, it would be a good idea for the liberals to sit back with a cup of Earl Grey and consider the risks involved in over-reaching your bounds. Perhaps a spot of cream to ease the bitterness would be in order, eh wot?

2011 approaches, and there's no reason that we shouldn't accept it with open arms. We may as well be positive, at least at the start of the new decade. Auld Lang Syne, friends. Auld Lang Syne.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Imperial President

President Barack Obama has used the current recess to appoint envoys to four nations. Although he can legitimately do that and the appointments will only last until the end of the current Congress, it still raises questions about his handling of the Presidency.

The ambassadorship to Syria had been blocked because sending one there would be seen as rewarding support for 'bad behavior'. The ambassador to Azerbaijan has been opposed by the Armenian community, while a third nomination was stalled because of alleged misrepresentations before Congress.

The President's response ignores all of this, and indeed hearkens to the imperial approach he has had over the use of his power. It is not unlike the manner in which he forced the health care reform bill upon us: he wanted, and damn the opposition, Even when it is thoroughly and emphatically against his ideals. I'm the man...you don't matter.

It would seem he has not really learned the lesson of 2010 despite his quick concessions to the GOP over the extension of the Bush tax cuts. It's a good thing the cou7ntry has the chance in 2012 to send the message more clearly and directly.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

American Conservativism: What Does the Future Hold?

The gay rights support group GOProud will be sponsoring the upcoming CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) conference this February, just as they did last year. And just like last year, there are conservatives with problems with that. Indeed, several intend to boycott CPAC in protest.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said in an interview in Christianity Today that she is proudly evangelical, yet favors gay and abortion rights. Indeed, she makes a good point about how the evangelical, in your face approach to the issues can turn off the general public. That doesn't make them wrong, or her right, but it is fair to say that it might help sway people more if some folks were to turn down their rhetoric.

Vice President Joe Biden has said that gay marriage is inevitable, and he is probably right. What might all of these things mean for the conservative movement?

There is certainly a strong libertarian streak among American conservatives. There is certainly also a strong core of social issue conservatives within the ranks as well. How well can these groups work together in the long run? Are social conservatives perhaps afraid of giving in too much to the world to accept a few difficult concessions in order to promote a broader agenda? Are fiscal conservatives seeking to give too little in return?

In short, there is a sort of angst within the greater conservative movement in the United States, and it cannot come at a worse time. We stand at the edge of what could be the most serious and significant realignment of political and social power in our country in decades, and don't always seem to know what to do with it. We must stay true to our principles and ourselves. But what principles and to what degree are they to be compromised?

And some surely will be compromised; it is in the nature of the human condition. Yet we must be able to look ourselves in the mirror the next morning and know that we will have the best which can be gotten under whatever circumstances will allow. It may well leave a bitter taste. But until we have Heaven on Earth, is it reasonable to expect better?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Redistricting and Detroit

The numbers are in: Michigan will lose one Congressional seat. But from where will it be taken? The most likely spot would be southeast Michigan, within the Detroit metropolitan area. If the Republicans in Lansing who control the redistricting process have any backbone at all, this is where they will look.

Somewhere and somehow, two Democrats will be pitted against each other while all nine seats currently held by the GOP will be put in districts as safe as possible. The Detroit area is home to several old warhorses of the Democratic left: John Dingell, John Conyers, Dale Kildee, and Sander Levin. Will any of those be willing to step aside for a political youngster such as Gary Peters or Hansen Clarke?

It's a good question. One that will not likely be asked when the inevitable Republican gerrymandering begins. You see, the GOP is evil while the existing Democrats cannot possibly be. Why should the lions with all their pork barrel clout pass the torch when they can do so much more themselves in Congress, such as keep the perks and prestige of Congressmen? This selfishness of the old guard will not be seen as an obstacle to civil politics, although it should. Yet Dingell, Conyers, et al, are little more than self serving robber barons of government: their entire lives are politics. They are nothing without the public trough from which to fill their bellies and feed their egos.

Yet what would make the redistricting process really interesting would be if the GOP should draw districts forcing John Conyers against newly elected Hansen Clarke. They are under no compulsion to maintain minority representation during this Census cycle: the state legislature can pit two minority Congressmen against one another. How much would affect the potential for lawsuits? Or will the GOP simply avoid that hassle and look elsewhere to cut Democratic power?

Regardless of the path chosen, 2011 will be interesting politically. Just remember that it will not merely be the Republicans acting in their own interest. Democratic selfishness will be the great issue from which we shall be expected to avert our eyes.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wealth and Poverty

The comedian and talk show host Bill Maher once commented that he does not think it is the rich who create jobs. Indeed, the rich are the one who cut them: they close plants and move them out of the country. Yet this knee jerk approach begs certain questions.

It ignores the demands made by workers. Workers are every bit as capable as employers of selfishness and self centered behavior and, truth be told, money grubbing. It ignores the hypocrisy of the liberal rich: how far do you go, Mr. Maher, to insure that you get the most bang for your buck with your spending? A good guess is that you try to get the best prices you can, too.

It ignores the bold reality of the entire rich/poor dichotomy. As I was told once by one of the contractors I supply, "I ain't never been hired by a poor man".

Job creation by its nature comes from wealth. Jealousy of the wealthy is simply that: demands that they give more of themselves without a fair payback for their capital investments merely reflects that jealousy. Playing to public selfishness will not create a single job. It will only continue to add pressure to the wealthy to go elsewhere.

Wealth is not a vice, and poverty is no virtue. Until we realize as much, we will simply fail to serve society well.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

John Lennon and Christmas

During the Christmas season we hear ad infinitum all and every Christmas song imaginable. That's okay, of course. They are part of the holidays and many are well worth hearing, containing sentiments expressed well and to a good point.

Not all of them quite make that standard, however; even some of the better ones. John Lennon's Happy Xmas (War is Over) is one of those. It is a neat little tune, at times ethereal and perhaps even angelic. But the trouble with it is that it preaches to the choir just a bit too much, while more or less undermining the very sentiments it pretends to address.

War is over...if you want it. Well, of course the bulk of the Western world wants it. Indeed, most individuals in the world want it. Yet the problem with calling for the end of war is that it falls on too many deaf ears. So long as that's the case, so long as there are those who do in fact want it on some level, then we have little more than something too idealistic to be practical.

Especially when you attempt to combine Lennon's general philosophy with the apparent point of the song. One need only recall the words of another famous song of his to get that irony: Imagine there's no heaven...no religion. In short, he usually in his life appealed to sentiments contrary to Christmas. Without Heaven or Religion there would be no Christmas. Indeed, with nothing universal and eternal, the sentiments he expresses in his work are rendered meaningless. There can be no brotherhood of man worth salt without forever.

And Forever is precisely what the greatest Christmas songs call us towards. Family, friends, fellowship; these are eternal values. John Lennon ultimately only speaks in support of earthly ones. Values of the type he could not safely proclaim even or especially in the Gulag, or modern China or North Korea. Places, it must be noted, without heaven or religion. Places mired in earthly concerns.

In the end, what he preaches must be hollow. Or, and we should truly and fully hope and pray for this, the song shows he was in fact a better man than his professed creed. Because as it is, what he calls for is little more than comfort and self indulgence. Those feelings are not in the Christmas spirit.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas, Even if a Day Late

Tonight, as they say, is the night. It's Christmas Eve, and all the preparations are just about in order. I have to thank my wife and daughter for the overwhelming majority of that work; I made a trip or two to the store and that's it. Thanks, ladies! To simply sit back and enjoy is gift enough for me, and I appreciate it.

My favorite part of the whole Christmas season comes now. We'll meet at church before Midnight Mass and sing carols, and the church will be lit up right as Mass starts, with the glory of Christmas morning following. Our parish, Sweetest Heart of Mary in Detroit, MI, is a spectacular old building, built when they knew what churches should look like. I miss our old parish, St. Dominic's, a victim to declining inner city Catholic population, but this one certainly is a grand old dame.

I don't want to turn this into a rant, but I'll risk that by saying that I would eschew every trapping of the holiday, every inkling of conspicuous consumption, for people to simply sit back and reflect on Christmas itself. What does it mean? How do we properly enjoy it? What exactly would be a decent balance of celebration and reverence?

Personally, I find it in those carols as we wait for Mass. That's when the appreciation appears for me: the anticipation of the Christ Child coming for our sakes. That's when I get the shivers and goose bumps, and come near tears. That's when Christmas comes for me. I hope so for you as well.

Adeste Fidelis. May the blessing of Christmas be upon you, now and for the coming year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Readiness

Let's see...

Decorations up...check.

Food bought...check.

Beer in fridge...check.

Are you sure?

Oh yeah...Guinness and Blue and Stroh's and Sam Adams, and even Bud Light (yuck, but wanting to be a good host).

Cookies for Santa? Carrots for reindeer...check.

Rum for eggnog...see beer reference.

Present for Dad...

Present for Dad...

Cripes. I gotta run.

Merry Christmas Eve all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Using Water and Acting Responsibly

When my second son was seven (say that three times fast) he happened to notice that, as I was shaving, I kept the hot water running. “Dad,” he told me a little sheepishly, “the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles say you shouldn’t keep water running when you wash.” My response would draw the ire of many: “Son, when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pay my water bill, they can tell me how much water I can use.”

Consider that story in relation to this next one. I watched a news report about a 19 year old mother of two, apparently (though it was not said definitively, to be fair) by two different fathers, lamenting that she could not afford health care for her babies with the fast food job she held, the only job she could get. The point of the story was that this was why we need national health care.

Now, were I to have told her before she chose to have sex that she should not do that as it may lead to pregnancies she would not be economically able to handle, indeed that she ought to wait until at least the time when she was able to care completely for her own children as one of the risks of sex is pregnancy, I am certain I would have been told that her actions were none of my business. Further, I am also quite sure that the general community would support her assertion. Why? Because I have no right to make comment on her morals.

Several things come to mind as I contrast these items. I would like to point out two. First, I am told I cannot tell that young woman how to act. Yet as a direct consequence of her chosen irresponsibility, I am later being told I need to pay for the results of her free will action.

Second, when I am paying out of my own funds for every drop of water I elect to use, I am told I am irresponsible.

Think about that for a moment. Then you tell me the folly of our approach to right and wrong in America today.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Battle Begins

Now that the US Census Bureau has issued its report, the fight is surely on. As reported here a couple of days ago, with Republicans gaining in ares where they are strong and in control of most state governments, the main advantages appear to be theirs.

Still, the Democrats have some devices of their own. They will almost certainly employ the courts, as also mentioned before herein, and have a few things in their favor under current federal law. Various laws regarding minority representation in Congress will likely help them keep a few seats. No matter how you slice it, the fight will be long, shrill, and raucous.

The shame of the whole enterprise is that it shouldn't matter all that much. If everyone were to play fair, the lines would be drawn almost randomly according to a roughly equal measure of the population. That is, of course, a dream scenario. It will never happen regardless of who holds power. But the further and worst part of the effort is that it shouldn't matter because the national government shouldn't be so strong. If we were to have kept to our original Constitutional ideal, redistricting would not matter as much precisely because so much less power would be at stake. If there weren't so many spoils to divide, if longevity in the Congress didn't mean so much in terms of patronage and the ability to get more and greater goodies for your own state (hardly, in the end, a commendable position), then all of these gyrations would nearly laughable.

Yet they are not. That is perhaps the most significant commentary about the situation. We have come to accept that it's about what we can get for ourselves, whether as states or individuals. And that is truly sad.

Camelot has passed by. We no longer seek the ideal but the selfish. That's what's really wrong with America today.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We Must Legislate From A Moral Perspective

It is often said, when discussing certain social issues, that we cannot legislate morals. Do you know the right response to that question?

In a word, poppycock. There is a better word, to be sure, but decorum will not allow its use here.

We can and we must legislate morals. Further, every decision ever made by every legislature, parliament, congress, diet, knesset, or whatever else you want to call it, was an action predicated on a moral decision. Making us drive on the right side of the street is based on the moral axiom that we require order. Forcing parents to send their kids to school, let alone feed and clothe them, is a moral choice that parents are obliged to do that for their progeny. Trying to force health care down our throats is a moral decision by the government that we need it, however erroneously felt.

We can and we must legislate morals. We do it all the time. The only real questions are which ones, and under what circumstances.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Census Data Bodes Ill for the President

The Census Bureau will release its report on the recent count of the US population tomorrow, and as expected, it doesn't look good for President Barack Obama and his Democratic minions for the 2012 elections. Combine this with the results of the 2010 elections and 2012 looks positively abysmal for the left.

Many states which the President won in 2008 will lose electoral votes, the ones which really count, while states such as Texas will gain big. The Lone Star State is expected to gain four House seats, and it wouldn't be a surprise if all four went to the GOP. Then we have the fact that Republicans now control the majority of state houses, the places where districts will be redrawn based on Census data, which should certainly mean that even states with little or even no loss of Congressional representation will likely end up with districts favorable to the GOP.

As a true coup de grace, a factor not created intentionally by anyone yet wildly in alignment with the Republican planets, far more Democratic senators will be up for reelection in 2012. This should give the right a great chance of taking the Senate back.

True, it is far too early to tell for sure what will happen. We know that the left will challenge many redistricting plans in court because they hate democracy. They cannot stand that they are on the outs with the voting public so they will attempt to controvert the will of the people through the courts. Yet can that plan work?

Maybe yes, maybe no. But their gyrations will surely make for interesting politics throughout the next year and a half.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Say 'Merry Christmas'; That's What it's About

A recent poll presumes to show that more Americans, by a slight and ever narrowing margin, prefer, or are at least okay with, a Merry Christmas greeting over a more generic Happy Holidays. But why ought there be any worry over such a relatively minor distinction?

Even when we say Happy Holidays there's no reasonable way to dispute that what we mean is Merry Christmas. There would be no greetings at all without a holiday season having grown around Christmas. Indeed, it mocks the holiday spirit itself if not the very idea of a broader human kinship when we start to think that it's all right to sweep a part of the beliefs of a very large part of our populace under the rug. If tolerance and respect for all cultures is what we should strive towards, then it is more than fair to ask the rest of the folks to respect Christians and their holiday by accepting a heartfelt Merry Christmas greeting.

It would seem that a person of a non-Christian faith, or of no faith at all, if truly comfortable in their belief, would have no issue with hearing Merry Christmas if it were directed at them. True, we frequently hear the old liberal argument that such things seem to force a belief on others. Yet how deep is their faith, how truly do they hold whatever personal beliefs they claim to regard as the final answer to life's questions, if a mere two word sentence leaves them quaking in their boots? If their creed is that shallow or their will so weak, they have deeper issues than what a simple Merry Christmas should bring on.

Meanwhile, and at the risk of being labeled a Limbaugh or Hannity (which would cause no uproar here as we don't mind people knowing who we are or what we favor) by those seeking to inflame those who do not share our beliefs, why ought Christians tolerate second class citizenship? Why can't our culture be included among all those other cultures which we are supposed to (and generally do) tolerate?

So go on, and tell people Merry Christmas. If they are insulted by that, we will have learned all about them which we need to know.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Altering Certain Amendments

Much gets said about what's wrong with our government, but little gets said about concrete ways to fix it. To be sure, everyone seems appropriately concerned with the acts and laws of government being constitutional. Yet rarely does anyone actually address the document itself. There are things within it which could be changed or altered to better direct the workings of Washington.

We could start by getting rid of the Fourteenth Amendment. Say what you will about how it has protected the rights of the citizenry, it has nonetheless been used to allow the Federal Government to dip too far into what originally had been considered the realm of the States, and the citizens as well. We forget that in 'championing' the citizens' rights we have seen great abuses of their rights as well. We might just be better off to leave basic human rights to the several states.

The Sixteenth Amendment ought to be trashed as well. In letting the feds dip directly into the pocketbooks of individuals we have expanded their power far beyond the intention of the framers. It must be remembered, as the great Chief Justice John Marshall said, "The power to tax implies the power to destroy." Let the feds get money from the states and from various fees for only their necessary functions.

Let's trash the Seventeenth Amendment while we're at it. If senators were elected by state legislatures as they once were, then they could get back to their true job: representing the states as states. We are a federal system after all: it isn't as though the state governments should have no direct say in federal antics.

This is only for a start, to perhaps begin discussion. Sure, nothing will come of it as the special interests hold too much sway and federal power has become too entrenched. But you got to have a dream: if you don't have a dream, how you gonna make your dreams come true?

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Death Knell of the Obama Presidency?

Congress has passed sweeping legislation to extend the so-called Bush tax cuts to all, while also extending unemployment benefits for 13 months. On the surface, it seems like the sort of bipartisan piffle which many claim that the American public desires. The Republicans got what they wanted: the tax cuts preserved for even the wealthy. The Democrats got what they wanted: an extension of unemployment benefits. Isn't that, presumably, the very definition of compromise?

Perhaps; but it also leaves a good many questions up for debate, not the least of which is whether the whole thing is a bunch of rot or not. Yet that can and will be discussed ad infinitum: the most intriguing question left is if, perchance, President Barack Obama has sealed his fate in 2012 in pushing so hard to get this thing passed.

Liberals are angry that he allowed the extension for two years of the tax cuts for the highest earners. But it would seem that all he was doing was precisely what the left has always clamored for: he reached across the aisle and gave in where he felt he needed to while protecting the jobless. Instead, we are shown once more the hypocrisy of the left when it comes to one of their oxen being gored. They preach compromise, bipartisanship, and No Labels when it suits them. Yet it is clearly a one way street. All of those things, all of those annoying labels which they claim to hate, are in fact merely smoke and mirrors in an attempt to hide their true will from the populace.

But as before, let us set aside that issue. What is really fascinating is in how the liberals are, more or less, threatening to abandon the President as he looks towards reelection. Several left wing Democrats in Congress, notable Mike Quigley from Illinois and Peter DeFazio from Oregon, have openly asked whether the bill has effectively ended his chances of winning a second term. If the higher ups feel that way, what may the grass roots think? Will they fell abandoned by the President and sit out 2012?

It is a delightful thought. Only time will tell but, from here, the view looks quite rosy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

No Label? No Point.

Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City, along with a host of other political workers and aspirants, announced this past Monday the founding of a new political group, No Labels. The organization wants to form chapters in all 435 Congressional districts, with its goal being an end to political polarization, electoral reform, the federal deficit and energy independence.

Where to begin? For starters, no group can exist without a label. Labels, quite frankly, tell us who or what we are and what we support, at least within general parameters. So in this case, No Labels stands for centrism, whatever that may be. The issues listed above seem to hit the mark as to that concern. Those issues are, by the way, more liberal than conservative, although there surely is a conservative flavor mixed into deficit questions.

Add in the fact that the vast majority of the organizers are Democrats, and it is easy to see that the new group is no honest cross the aisle organization. What they are doing is trying to play on the presumed will of certain Americans who are further presumably sick and tired of partisan politics and want the bickering to end. So they hypocritically, ahem, label themselves No Label to attempt to seem out of the mainstream.

It is interesting to note that Mayor Bloomberg, having spent more of his own money than anyone else to win and keep his office, indeed having had the system changed in NYC so that he would not be term limited, should be one spouting electoral reform. That by itself hardly strikes us as nonpartisan. It seems like a man with an agenda, which is exactly what marks most certainly any political movement. The No Label thing betrays itself by its own actions.

So what we have is a center/left partisan group deigning to call itself nonpartisan in order to attract attention and, in some way, it would seem, votes. The question then becomes, why doesn't the left want to be called liberal?

Conservatives don't mind being called conservative. Indeed, they quite insist on it. They don't mind people knowing who they are and what they mean. They don't hide behind political showmanship. They like their label.

Do the No Label people like their more generally accepted label, again, liberal? Apparently not. From what, then, do they wish to hide?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Note to Detroit: Salt the Roads!

As we demand more and more of our federal government (a habit we must break before we break ourselves) we tend to lose sight of what the proper role of government is at any level. This past weekend's winter storm in Detroit offers a great lesson in what we ought to expect of our local leaders.

Why is it that certain suburbs manage to do a decent job of clearing the roads while the largest city in the region can't get a handle on the task even two days after the blizzard has gone? A ride out Warren Avenue from the Wayne State University district, through the west side into Dearborn Tuesday morning should have raised the ire of any native Detroiter. The street conditions ranged from half bad to positively treacherous. There was no evidence of salt, and the best stretches of road were where it had the most direct sunlight. Yet the instant Warren arrived in Dearborn it was quite clear.

The trip brings back memories of the bad storms a decade ago which had the movers and shakers behind the North American Auto Show murmuring about taking the gala from Detroit if the city could not provide such basic services as clearing the highways and bi-ways efficiently. It would seem that that should have been lesson enough, yet here ten years later we are still faced with poor road conditions well after the storm has passed.

While the situation in our fair city is surely difficult, it yet begs the question of who has responsibility for the relatively simple task of getting the roads plowed and salted. If our local government cannot step to the plate and do what it should do quickly and well, it is rather galling to demand more from an entity a thousand miles away who is, or should be, naturally enough, concerned with bigger things. Detroit needs to get its act together and give citizens the local services their tax dollars merit. Until we can get satisfaction from the government powers closest to us, it is inane to think we can get better from those farther away.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Right Thinking

Much fascinating discussion can be had with an attempt at affirming the critical role reason and objectivity play in our political and social discussions. It all begins at the beginning, so to speak. One such starting point held by those against objective norms is a statement something like: nothing can be true for all times and all places.

That was a fun one back during sophomore year at university, when we discussed whether such a statement itself could be true for all times and places. But beyond such nonsense which the assertion invites, it is clear that the statement cannot be true. For if it is, then there is an objective standard of right and wrong in that there is no right and wrong. And if it's not, then there must be standards of objectivity generally.

So where would we begin? Where would we seek this objectivity?

Without self-evidence, nothing can be proven; so says the British author and apologist C. S. Lewis. He is quite right. Without axiomatic statements, things true in and of themselves, things so obviously right that no one can deny them and still call themselves rational, things which are Reason Itself, we can make no progress within the realms of morals, politics, law, and treating the next door neighbor with charity. Without things which must be accepted on their own terms, which it would be social and personal suicide to deny, we cannot know what to do even in our daily lives.

It is in this realm that most questions can be answered. Abortion is wrong because human beings have human babies. Gay marriage is wrong because it is self evident that we are made to be male/female couples. Some extrapolation may be necessary as circumstances may dictate, but all morals begin with dogmatic statements.

Which means that any decent consideration of what laws we must have must start with a reflection of how much they are in line with the first principles. Do they codify these axioms or disparage them? Do they encourage society to live within them or deny their worth? Will proposed laws make us better or worse people?

It all starts from the right beginning. If we choose to start from somewhere else, we will end up who knows where. We might, by happy accident, arrive at our destination with good laws and a good society. But there's no point taking that chance when we have a handy road map, available to all who will have it, at our beck and call.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Safe Sex

A recent federal study, published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, suggests very heavily that abstinence only sex education programs actually work. They decrease the likelihood of teens become sexually active before they should. This is contrary to the liberal assumption that young people must be treated like rabbits, with no penchant for self-discipline at all.

It is interesting that such studies are even necessary. Like the study a few years back by educationists which concluded that students who study more learn more (gasp!), the common sense of the matter is so obvious that it is hard to believe anyone would think about the questions in a contrary or contradictory manner.

The fact is, anybody who accepts that there are such things as common sense and reason see things more clearly than those who need studies with various data tables normalized to certain base lines. When we have folks who do not believe in rationality, we get folks who ultimately have an agenda. In the case of sex education, we get liberals whose presumptions muddy their objectivity, like the environmentalists whose views are skewed by the thought that mere earth and animals and plants are superior to people, or the evolutionists whose scientific findings are clouded by their presumptions. With sex ed, we have folks who want promiscuity. Consequently, they presume it will happen, rather than afford others the dignity that they may actually be able to control themselves.

Such an approach insults our children in particular and our society in general. At the risk of overusing the term, common sense tells us that a structured, disciplined environment will, by and large (for we do recognize that simple human freedom will lead to errant behavior) give us a structured and disciplined society. People can be taught to behave in appropriate manners. If we are willing to concede that such personal control is possible.

It is an easy point to accept if you believe in the dignity of the individual. If you do not believe in that, then nothing is possible.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Obamacare and Congressional Overkill

The GOP has vowed to repeal Obamacare. In fact, the Party is so passionate about it that many members put the issue as the main goal of the 2011 session of Congress. Yet the critics will yet wag their tongues, crying out about those who need health care not getting it, that preexisting conditions won't be covered for those seeking health insurance, and what about the kids who should (critics say) be on their parents coverage all the way up until they're 26?

These are relatively easy points to counter. By 26, outside of special circumstances, you ought to, as a rule, be of independent means anyway. Those who do in fact need health care will get it: no emergency room in the country with an ounce of charity will refuse to treat someone having a heart attack. Preexisting conditions must be seen more on a case by case basis: having cancer or high blood pressure may count, but pregnancy? That it almost always a controllable condition as it is almost always the result of elective behavior.

But the common thread within those individual circumstances which is not discussed when talking about the issue of health care or, it seems, when considering almost any other question before the nation, is the notion of laws needing to address any and all matters even remotely connected to a given debate. Why do our political leaders feel that every problem within our country must be faced en masse?

Why, for example, because there are many folks without health care, must the entire way we access health care be changed? Can't we simply address the troubles of those who don't have it by doing what we can (outside of simply saying, as Obamacare essentially does, 'you must get it', as though legislative fiat is all that is required to solve a problem) to create a system which makes it more affordable through private and individual initiative?

If we want to insure that preexisting conditions be treated properly, why not pass a single law which says that insurers must treat them? Of, more precisely, define which such conditions must be treated? Why change everything when what we really want to do is make the playing field just for all? Why not merely address the particulars with particular laws rather than mess with the whole scheme?

The only real reason to do this is to put the people under the thumb of the government. The group of Congressional leaders recently shown the door, no matter how much they may have said they only wanted to help, no matter how sincere they may have been in wanting to make decent health care available for all, ultimately called for a system which would give Washington unprecedented control over who gets what. Especially when we are talking about human lives, our lives, not DC's, we are in truth talking about something vile and tyrannical.

That is why the GOP calls Obamacare the greatest threat to our freedom. Because who controls who gets what in terms of the treatment of disease and other matters of the physical human condition, controls us. Those folks, that bureaucracy, those minions within the beltway, will eventually decide who lives and dies. If they are given total reign over health care.

In the long run, that means more than whether pregnancy is a preexisting condition or not.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Recycling: A Watse of Time and Water?

My wife and daughter are very into recycling, and that's okay. There's certainly nothing wrong with it, and they do it all themselves, so it doesn't even really affect me.

Still, our son while on leave from the Army commented on it in a way I had never considered. Watching his mother prepare tuna cans and milk jugs for recycling he remarked, as she was rinsing the items out and even putting the cans through the dishwater, "So we have to wash our trash?"

Which leads me to my point. Do we really need to recycle things for which there is no demand? Steel, aluminum, copper; these things all get paid for by people who have a real use for them. They're worth money, therefore they get recycled. Paper, plastic, even tin cans aren't worth anything and therefore do not get recycled so readily.

Unless the government encourages or demands it. Many recycling projects are underwritten by government or commanded by it through things such as curbside pickup. In short, they wouldn't exist without coersion. Things worth doing get done without any hint of force.

Think of that when you're washing your tuna cans, using extra water, or burning extra gas to take things to a recycling center. Are we really doing anything worth such effort?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Health care: an Individual Responsibility

Note: This passage is in direct response to someone who, in an earlier post, challenged me to come up with my own idea about health care.

-Charles Martin Cosgriff



As to creating my own solution to health care issues, I must respond that I am not obliged to do so for the very simple and sincere reason that I believe health care should be completely and totally privatized. Each individual must ultimately be responsible for their own health needs. I have no inherent right to any given person how to pursue that goal any more than I have a right to tell them what kind of a job they should have or where they should purchase a home.

With any kind of government health care, however, I am being told what kind of care I should get. This is a clear violation of individual rights and worthy only of, quite frankly, those who want to control others. At one time we called these people tyrants.

To be sure, we need to make it so that the poor and downtrodden have access to needed health care. But it is my experience that such is already the case: hospitals cannot turn down those with grave conditions, and there are hospitals (Receiving Hospital here in Detroit) in place precisely for those who cannot go anywhere else.

Governments should not be creating anything more than an environment which allows relevant and proper individual choices to flower. Then, and only then, will see any worthwhile solutions to the issues which concern us. Especially the greatest and most critical questions which do indeed plague the human condition.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

True Education Reform

Many folks, politicians, educators, and film makers even, are worried that education reform is far from done. They lament, according to an article this morning on AOL News, that the President's Race to the Top program is too little too late for some students, and that more needs to be done with early childhood education. In particular, a poll of teachers shows strong support for formal education before kindergarten. Children with very early aid do better academically in the long run.

Early education certainly makes a huge difference in the life of a child. But how formal does it have to be? We have known for eons that parents who take a role in their children's learning have a tremendous effect on their educational success. We don't need formal classroom teachers to help ensure good academics: we need parents who will take an active role in the lives of their young charges.

This whole issue reeks of a ploy by those who have a special interest in education to spread the wealth among their peers, and to create more jobs in the education arena. It further allows those of us who do not support them to be labeled as against education. Indeed, we can now be called against the poor, who have a higher rate of academic failure than the middle and upper classes.

Yet we are not. We are simply recognizing that support from home cannot be replaced by any amount of professional and formal learning. That those in poor home environments generally struggle in school is a question in truth beyond the means of any sanctioned educational system. No matter how you try, even when the kids are very young, they will not, as a rule, learn even the rudimentary bits of knowledge without a stable and concerned home life to support that effort. In fact, it is safe to say that the effects of the home life trump the efforts of the education establishment, and always will.

The issue ultimately is one of misplaced emphasis. If we want academic success we need to create a nation with stable homes and, yes, nurturing environments. Good education, like good citizenship, begins at home. It usually will not begin anywhere else, as that is where children spend, or at least should spend, the bulk of their time. As it is, all we really have is a special interest group acting for the special interest: educators seeking the creation of jobs for educators. They don't want to help kids as much as they want a jobs program funded from the public coffers.

We fail to realize that education has become a business, and that businesses usually only want what is good for them. More money and more government oversight of the classroom doesn't help those who actually need it; it only protects the teaching market for those who likely would succeed anyway. This type of hyperbole fails to serve those it purports to hold dear. Yet it does insure better cars for the classroom instructor.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The China Dilemma

China has forbidden anti-government activist Liu Xiaobo from leaving to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. His wife, Liu Xia, is under house arrest with no contact with the outside world and will not be allowed to go to Oslo to accept the award on his behalf. Further, a small number of nations, told by China that there would be 'consequences' if they were represented at the ceremony, have declined to attend.

Meanwhile, many believe that within the next few years China will have the world's largest economy, which translates into that if we play nice we may get a share of the pie. Playing nice will also help Beijing turn away from its past and become more like us.

And then there's that whole North Korean problem, which China seems to feel can be solved through negotiation. When Japan and the West balk, we are told, essentially, that we're the ones in error. This from a nation, to go more or less full circle, arrests those who like free speech too much while also limiting the amount and type of Internet access its citizens may have. And all with no apparent concern for how the rest of the family of nations feel. What are we supposed to make of this?

Simply that China is interested in China to the exclusion of all else. Those in power there want to keep their power. What that bodes for the rest of civilization is subject to debate. But know this: great power and wealth, held by an oligarchy, cannot in the long run help the causes of peace and justice without a lot of outside pressure. Especially when dealing with an oligarchy intent on pleasing itself.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Another Political Compromise: Should We Have Expected Better?

President Barack Obama and the soon to be ruling GOP came to a compromise on the Bush era tax cuts. They will, if enough Democrats care to back their leader, be extended for all taxpayers for two years, at which point they will surely become a hot button issue in the 2012 campaign.

The entire scenario makes for an interesting lesson in American politics. The President says that the deal, before which his own party and he himself wanted to have the tax cuts for the wealthiest die, was the price which had to be paid to prevent gridlock. The question becomes, was it really the desire to move things along which forced his hand, or an early, slick move to demonstrate that he is willing to work with the opposition, thus setting himself up as the next Great Compromiser heading into the next election cycle?

Likely as not, it's little of both. It isn't as though the GOP had no incentive to make nice, either, as an extension of emergency jobless benefits was in the mix, and no doubt the Republicans don't want to be seen as against the downtrodden. But the critical point here is in how it demonstrates the American system. We force compromise on our leaders. We then assail them for not sticking to principle.

It is rare that we find much sympathy for politicians, but they do merit a bit in this light. Sure, they promise the moon. Sure, they twist the Constitution into a meaningless scrap of paper. Yet there is a degree of, what can they do? It is hard enough to be a principled man or woman left to our own devices. When we are a member of Congress and have to hope that 534 other men and women, and the President, and the courts and the ACLU and myriad other interest groups and individual citizens, will act as principled as we would like, we are really working against very long odds.

A bit of scheming is almost to be expected, on all fronts, then. It may pay us to remember that when we vote, and recall that, in the end, it is our demands which ultimately drive the system.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Phys Ed Madness

A California court has ruled that parents can sue their local school district to force them to have physical education classes for their kids.

Of all the lamebrain ideas which our school embody, mandatory gym class is truly one of the lamest. Not that exercise and physical activity aren't important, but why they ought to be the province of the schools is beyond reason. Parents should be the ones making sure their children are active. It is certainly not the responsibility of the taxpaying public in general.

You would think too that the judicial system would have better things to do than entertain such frivolity. Yet judges are on the dole as are educators. Perhaps its the whole thing is simply professional courtesy. All who feed at the public trough much watch each other's backs.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Life as God Knows It.

Among the myriad life forms on planet Earth we now have discovered arsenic eating bacteria. Well, not exactly discovered: we have, under laboratory conditions, induced a strain of bacteria native to our world to survive and replicate using arsenic. Does the mean that the realms of science and religion, as some folks have since asserted, are now turned upside down?

No. What we have, simply put, is a group of scientists who have more or less trained a tiny organism to live differently. While that may be an important scientific innovation, it does not, as critics such as the American Humanist Association claim, portend the end of religion.

Why should it? If the Almighty has elected that some form of life should live off arsenic, then so be it. He created all things; if He wants a diversity of life forms, even strains of life which feed off of things poisonous to us, He shall have it.

Yet such easily understandable logic seems unintelligible in some corners. "The polite thing to say is that discoveries such as this don't really impeach the credibility of established religion, but in truth of course they really do," David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association (AHA), a leading secularist organization, said of this week's revelations about the microbes discovered in Lake Mono in California.

"The fact that life can spring forth in this way from nature, taken in context with what else we've learned in recent centuries about space and time, surely makes it less plausible that the human animal is the specially favored creation of all-powerful, all-knowing divinity," Niose said. He goes on to say that development of the new organism must necessarily challenge the belief systems of those religious folks who think the world has only existed for about 6,000 years.

A-hem. At the risk of deepening the rift between Catholics and our Protestant brethren, it is fascinating to see how the anti-religious always trumpet the views of Protestant Evangelicals when tolling the bells for the death of religion. For it is almost solely within the evangelical clique where we find the insistence that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. The humanistic community draws their arguments from what is merely one segment of Christianity, and a minority at that, rather than from an honest examination of the views of Christianity as a whole.

Consider that a scientist at the Vatican Observatory, Brother Guy Consolmagno, wrote that the experiment, "...sounds like a nice piece of work; we'll see where it goes from here...But any scientific discovery that broadens our knowledge of creation, deepens our understanding of the Creator."

Or, as we stated above, God shall have life however He wants it. The 6,000 year history of the Earth is a Protestant construct used as a straw man by secular humanists since it fits their bill. Such shallow thought allows them to ignore the more mainstream western religious, who more rightly see this new bit of science as easily within the realm of Creation.

Religion is not dead; science will not kill it. Nor are the subjects contradictory or without common ground: would there be such a thing as a Vatican Observatory if that were truly the case? In the end, the arsenic eating bacteria is what it is, and nothing more: the result of a scientific experiment which may or may not help explain or expand our scientific knowledge. Only time will answer that question. Meanwhile, let us not bother ourselves about the state of our religious belief with regard to science. Let us, rather, be concerned with the truths of science and how they may apply to our lives. Our orchards will bear better fruit with that mentality at the center of our thoughts.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

No Living Constitution is Worth a Dime

I have heard many times, and I'm sure you have too, that our wonderful Constitution is a living document. I have to imagine you have heard the sentiment expressed by the same people from whom I've so often heard it as they waxed reverentially from their lips: liberals, or what were once known as loose constructionists.

Why would anyone want anything less than a precise, or at least as precise of one as possible, interpretation of our nation's highest law? Yet that is what most of our government's leaders since about, oh, the New Deal, have asked us to support. It is what our current leaders in their rush to force federal health care down our throats want. Indeed they probably want no bother about a Constitution at all, but as we have one they have little option but work with it. Or, more exactly, to work it into whatever hash they would like it to be.

They forget, or more likely do not or do not wish to understand, that no living document, one that ebbs and flows with the times, cannot ultimately have any real meaning. It would be too parochial, too ingrained into one time or place to be useful in other eras. It would not last beyond a generation or two.

We want, we need, the words of our governing document to have the certain meanings the founders breathed into them. We need rules and guidelines which do not easily change so that we know how to act and can comprehend what is expected of us. We need a healthy static norm which we can rely on for the sake of order and progress.

We do not need the rules of the game to change or become altered based on whimsy or political expediency. We cannot survive that way: imagine a baseball game where the rules changed as a runner was between first and second to where he had to run clockwise, only to have them reversed when he raced around first, only to have his hit determined to be an out if caught on fourteen hops. Could he reasonably be expected to continue to play baseball? Would there in fact still be a game of baseball to be usefully referenced at all?

No, of course not. And neither will there be a nation we could call the United States for very long without a proper respect for the most basic rules of existence. It's time to kill the living Constitution; freeze it on the historical date of 1787. If something about it merits changing, then follow the methods which the document already contains. Anything else is simply making a mockery of the best governing document in human history.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ticket Scapling

Kid Rock is one hacked off guy. He says so in no uncertain terms in a recent post on his website in a diatribe against scalpers, people who buy tickets for his concerts only to sell them at higher prices to others. These others, true fans of Kid Rock, are, according to him, being ripped by those, um, people of questionable sexual morality. The scalpers are hoping to get rich by their practice, Mr. Rock asserts, while he himself is doing all he can to keep ticket prices low so that his fans can afford them.

That is a laudable goal, and we are more than willing to take the rock/rap/country star at his word. Still, the entire idea of scalping doesn't strike us as particularly wrong, either. It seems reasonable that, when someone buys a seat for a concert, sporting event, movie or what have you, then that seat is that person's property for the show in question. If someone else is willing to buy it off the original owner for a price above face value, what really can we say about it?

Yes, the price requested may be beyond reason. Yes, someone who simply has to see Kid Rock live come what may may be enticed to spend too much money on a ticket for one of his shows. We're admittedly not sure exactly what to say about that, but we will say that, as a general principle, the general population (outside of friends and family trying to convince a friend or family member not to overspend for what is, after all, just a concert) isn't really responsible for that person's poor judgment in such a case.

We are even willing to consider, but only that, whether scalping practices are forms of extortion. Yet the idea on the surface seems weak, based on the concept that buying a concert ticket isn't like paying a ransom, or even akin to purchasing needed things like housing or food. It strikes us that it merely comes back to poor judgment or weak mindedness; how can we, in the end, combat that? At least, in areas such as this, where a more serious moral breach is not at question?

Kid Rock's anger at the practice is indeed understandable. We truly believe that it is borne of a true goodwill wherein he genuinely does not want to see folks ripped off. Still, protecting people from themselves, though sometimes in fact the province of the greater society, isn't automatically the obligation of the whole society in every instance of human interaction which may arise, even those which do merit a certain compassion. We can't control everything, and he admits as much in his article. It would seem that, in ranting against scalping, he has done all he can. What more can be expected?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Proposed Repeal Amendment

"Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed."

This is the text of the so-called Repeal Amendment, a proposal put forth by Utah Congressman Rob Bishop. the idea is to give back to the States what they have always, on paper, had: a certain sovereignty over issues which are legitimately their concern.

The issue is fraught with worries and unlikely to pass, given the growth in the power of the very federal establishment it seeks to reign in. Too many States and too many people who feed at the public trough don't really want Washington's power out of their lives. But it is a question which must be explored more fully if we are to remain what we claim that we are: a union of States rather than one large nation per se.

Some argue that the entire notion works against majority rule. They say that smaller sates, those with fewer people, may cause the will of the overall majority to be thwarted. Perhaps; but if we are indeed a union of states, then the rule of a complete majority of the entire population of the Union isn't truly an issue. In fact it's almost arrogant: why should, for example, California have the automatic right to force Delaware to do its bidding? Simply because California is bigger?

That isn't compassion: that's brute force, plain and simple, even if the result of the ballot box. It is time we put a check on the power of Congress and the President. one which respects the individual states as states. That's really what we're all about, and what would in truth give us the diversity which the liberals crow so long and hard is what's so great about the US. Because consolidating power in DC does not give us diverse viewpoints, but, in the end, dictatorship.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Big Meeting

The newly empowered Republicans and President Barack Obama had their first big meeting the other day, in an attempt to find common ground. The early word is that there isn't any.

Indeed, can there be? In theory, we are dealing with two sides about as diametrically opposed to one another as any two groups have been in our history. We have the President's massive build up of federal power and unprecedented increases in federal spending, not to mention his almost dictatorial approach towards health care reform, against a renewed GOP sent to Washington with no other mandate than to change all that. How can Mr. Obama appeal to his base and win re-election if he gives up too much? How can Republicans go back and ask for another chance if they don't press what advantages they have as hard and as far as they may?

The most interesting irony is that next two years may hurt both sides equally. How do you compromise with such hard lines already set? Yet the American Constitutional system pretty much forces one of two alternatives upon her people. Either both sides will give up on things they would rather not surrender, at which point their established supporters will wince (if not worse), or neither side will concede a point, causing a near shut down in federal politics. Which side, liberal or conservative, would that help the most?

There's little doubt that core supporters of both the President and the GOP want their leadership to press forward on their own goals. But if that case plays out, how will the more general voting public react?

The best guess is that stalemate will help the conservatives. If they can also successfully paint President Obama as the one stalling any progress. Why? Because conservatives tend to stick to a cause better than liberals or moderates. What better example of that do we have than the most recent election cycle? After abandoning Republicans who walked away from conservatism, they came back with a vengeance when they saw what had been wrought by the 2008 electoral debacle which put the Democrats in full power. They are the voters more likely to hold true to their values at the ballot box in 2012.

If the GOP stays true to them today. Hopefully, the Republicans have taken to heart the lesson of two years back.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sarah is in the Running

So, Governor Palin doesn't think she was treated fairly by the media, and I'm inclined to agree. Big Media does not like passionate conservatives, and they can seem to be easy targets. Tina Fey's joke awhile back that marriage "is between two unwilling teenagers" is a clear throwback to the liberal fabrication that conservatism means caveman behavior, and was, as the Governor says, more a personal jibe at her family than her views.

I still like Sarah. I know there are folks out there who think her too much of an air head, citing the fact that she couldn't identify newspapers and magazines she read or that famous quip about seeing Russia from Alaska as proof. To be sure, she did appear ill prepared for some of her interviews, and if she wants to go farther in politics that must be addressed. Still, I don't see where reading the papers is necessarily a strong point for anybody. It's not as though the New York Times and Newsweek have a corner on truth (not by any stretch of the imagination!); no less an intellectual than C.S. Lewis never read the papers in great part because he knew you couldn't trust them. That was back in the 1940's and 50's, mind you.

When I look to 2012 I see no one who really excites me other than Sarah Palin. Mitt Romney perhaps, but no one else comes to mind. I think that with a little effort and no loss of the passion the Alaska Governor can make a great run. Who knows? Reagan overcame media bias. Our next best thing might just be coming from the last frontier.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Leslie Nielson

Leslie Nielson, Canadian-American actor who successfully crossed genres throughout his career, passed away yesterday at the age of 84. If anyone can be remembered fondly, if there is someone who we have lost whom you cannot think of without smiling, he is that man.

His life played out like someone who had a certain destiny, who had the kind of talent which would of its own accord come out in due time. Starting as a disc jockey in Calgary, Alberta, he moved on to study under Lorne Greene in Toronto before heading to New York to appear in many live television shows in the 1950s. Though he starred in mainly dramatic roles early on, his career seemed to explode after his role in Airplane! His flair for comedy then dominated the remainder of his acting life.

He played well received comic characters such as Frank Drebin, and less popular ones in nondescript films such as Spy Hard and Wrongfully Accused. In perhaps an homage to his Canadian roots he played an ornery old curler in Men with Brooms. Nielson was likable, indeed endearing, in almost any comic role he opted to play. That perhaps was his best acting.

Or was it acting? It has been said that he had always been a fun loving prankster behind the camera, and it isn't a stretch to find such folks genuinely fun, the kind of people we all want to be around.

So often when tributes such as these are penned, it is with a teary eye. Yet somehow this has been an easier one to write. Although the tear is there, The smile cannot be forced off my face.

We'll miss you, Shirley. If I may, this once, call you that.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Human Reason and Abortion

Pope Benedict XVI has said that human embryos are 'dynamic, autonomous individuals.' It is a good and clear statement of what seems a reasonable philosophic position: human beings have human babies.

It is high time that we state things clearly and emphatically where human life is at stake. We aren't talking about potential, we are talking about reality. The sooner we begin to emphasize that, the sooner we might begin to convince all but the hardest hearted that abortion is a great moral evil.

This is not a wholly, or even particularly, religious position, yet many will attempt to dismiss it as such. Concluding that, again, human beings have human children is no more inherently religious than asserting that rape, theft, or kidnapping is evil. Not that the religious aspect of this or any other moral question isn't important, but only that, when trying to convince someone not particularly or even openly hostile to religion that something is wrong we cannot use religion to defend it. We have to play the game on their field until such time as they come around to a more inclusive point of view.

Fortunately their field offers arguments not directly religious. We have defenses based on reason: if they are reasonable people, they will eventually begin to see these for themselves. If they are not reasonable people, well, they face a future of their making, either secular or religious, at their own peril.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Perilous Times on the Korean Peninsula

The United States and South Korea are going ahead with planned military exercises in the Yellow Sea just days after a North Korean bombardment killed two South Korean marines and two civilians. Meanwhile, protests in South Korea have led to the resignation of that nation's defense minister, and promises from the commander of their Marines that revenge will be certain and severe.

Yet these are ultimately mere sideshows to the real issue, the one drawing relatively scant attention in American eyes. The real question surrounding the recent escalation of Korean hostilities is, how will China respond to how we respond?

Beijing has said, basically, that it has no problems with the military exercises so long as they do not violate its economic zone. Still, it would appear we need more than that. We need the Chinese to reign in their ally in order to cool passions in the region.

Apparently they have admitted, privately, that they believe North Korea has gone too far. But how does that help defuse the situation? It would seem that, in the long run, someone with enough sway to reign in Pyongyang offers the only creditable method of averting further turmoil on the Korean peninsula. China is likely the only nation which can offer a useful leash on the Northern will.

So, then, the most pertinent question may be: has China westernized herself enough to be willing to call out her nearest and longest ally? Or, perhaps, is China testing western resolve by proxy?

We are quick and willing to decry what look like mere reckless actions on the part of a rogue nation. We may be well to fear that such things are not rogue at all, but calculated. In the end, what matters most is not exactly how this situation is resolved, but in who is pulling strings.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Consumerism and Conservatism

Consumerism, the great evil exemplified by the current madness rather ironically known as Black Friday, is something generally associated with conservatism. Yet it is in fact a liberal trait.

To be sure, there's nothing wrong with buying things for others, or even for one's self as such. Clothes, food, even our recreation, are things which must be regularly purchased for various yet obvious reasons. The list is surely much longer, too, but again, we get the point.

It's when we begin to buy things simply to buy them that we start to slip into error, into the evil of pure selfishness. When we have to buy a new TV because the old one is simply old, we have become consumerists. When we buy a Hummer when a van will do, we have become consumerists. When we make any purchase which is plainly conspicuous, we have become consumerists. It displays an excess of pampering, or worse, of egregious self indulgence.

That bigger, better, and newer isn't of itself wrong, true. Making purchases is something which, as with so much else, must be seen in context against the objective standards of right and wrong. There's nothing wrong with buying a tractor trailer rig if you're going into the shipping industry: a Chevy simply won't do the job. But if all you're doing is driving around to attend your daily needs, that Chevy should do just fine.

But to the point: consumerism is a liberal trait because it ultimately puts the state ahead of the individual for no good purpose other than the state. Why else would FDR, that old liberal, want to change Thanksgiving, except to lengthen the buying season? And at that, for the sake of the state in general, and his Presidency and popularity in particular. He wasn't interested in the person, but in himself and his government.

When we become preoccupied with buying things solely for the sake of the purchase, we are putting the nation ahead of the person. And we must include ourselves as persons of course: for we become less real as persons when we turn too far into ourselves. That, too, is a liberal trait, yet we will save comment on that for another time.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Meaning of Thanksgiving

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789

Anyone who claims that we weren't founded on Christian principles, read these words well and carefully. And have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving in that light.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Conspicuous Consumption and American Decadence

Friday it begins. Well, actually, tomorrow. Or perhaps even today, depending on exactly where you are and what tricks corporate American has up its sleeves. The holiday shopping season begins in earnest just as soon as the stores can make you feel guilty, or, better yet, selfish enough to buy, buy, buy!

Because, there's no point hiding from it, the real driving force behind American democracy is your obligation to treat yourself right by buying all sorts of goodies for you. Oh, and your family and friends too, of course, because they will love you so much more if you can be the one who purchases them the latest gadget, the newest bauble, the finest trinket. That's what it's all about, holidays in the You-nited States of America: conspicuous consumption of copious amounts of, quite frankly, stuff we don't really need for, ultimately, our own sense of well being.

We aren't even satisfied enough to wait until after Thanksgiving to wallow in our lust for things. Some stores are opening as early as 3 AM Friday, others are offering specials beginning in the late of hours of Thanksgiving Day itself, and a few have even dropped the pretense of caring and are offering great deals today, the day before the actual trigger is pulled to fire off what is supposed to be a full blown shopping orgy.

That such, ugh, celebrations actually run counter to what a holiday such as Thanksgiving is supposed to represent, which is being thankful for what we have (family and friendships above all, with material things coming in after such rudimentary successes as plain old survival, if you care to recall the true meaning of the tradition) only serves to make the season as it now stands more appalling. It has truly become a mockery of what our forefathers have done for us. We celebrate their sacrifice by callously ignoring that they sacrificed, not for us to buy and sell, but to have something better to appreciate: our lives and the gifts inherent in that rather than the ability to compete for better toys.

This is not say that we should not be generous towards others, even of objects not necessary to our inner life. But why not do that all year rather than at the command of the economic intelligensia? Why not buy and give brother Bill or Sister Sue that item in May, at your discretion and not at the hand of a corporate calendar? That would be true giving, and of greater merit.

The only obvious reason this doesn't happen is that we are not trained to think that way. We are expected to be lemmings in all we think and say and do. Our duty is not in fact to be kind to our neighbor but to restore the American economy.

Am I the only one who thinks that crass?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

North Korea Acts up Again

North Korea attacked a South Korean Island earlier today. The North claimed that it was reacting to South Korean military actions, while the South Koreans insisted that they were only engaging in normal training operations.

This incident is the second major aggression by the North Koreans this year. It would appear that the rogue nation is testing the waters, to see how much that world opinion and Western resolve might be pushed as they pursue their agenda.

The Korean peninsula has been a powder keg for years; at some point, outside of a severe change of outlook by Pyongyang, an outbreak of broad hostilities should be expected. If you want peace, especially when dealing with a power hungry little tin can dictator, then preparations for war my be the only recourse to such reckless actions.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Teachers aren't wrong.

While channel surfing a few minutes ago I stumbled across another of those sordid tales we have such a plethora of these days. It involved the killing of an 18 year old high school senior who was sleeping with his teacher. When her husband arrived at home and discovered the pair, he shot and killed the youth.

The entire story is reprehensible for the start. Yet there is one aspect of the whole, if you will forgive this, wretched affair, on which I'll wager a month's wages you will never hear. It won't come from the authorities, it won't come from the general society, and it certainly will not come from the school people. It is the simple point that when we approach education from the standpoint of being nonjudgmental, we should not be shocked when despicable acts such as this occur.

We teach our teachers that nothing is eternally right or wrong. We are expected to teach our students the same thing. That is what I saw in the education classes I had to take in order to become a certified teacher. That is what I was taught, or, well, what they attempted to teach me. Being of sound mind, I laid the idea on the dustbin of rancid thought where it belongs.

It's right out of the bible of the educationists, though: Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. It says right in that haughty tome that nothing is to be seen as right or wrong for all times and all places. That's why schools preach being nonjudgmental.

So when teachers sleep with students, why are we surprised? The pedagogue and the young paramour are not, by education's own definition, doing anything wrong. Until we understand that fact and begin to appreciate the ramifications of such dismal thought which today passes as intellect, we will only condemn ourselves to more and worse news with the passing of time, as true right and wrong become dim and shadowy concepts in the mists of the past.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Four Loko and Craft Brewers

Craft brewers in Michigan and elsewhere are jittery in the light of the Four Loko advisory which the Food and Drug Administration aimed at the makers of the aforementioned drink and three other companies which mix alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine in their concoctions. The warning reminds the companies in question that it is illegal to sell drinks which are unsafe for consumption, and that their products appear to fit the bill.

The trouble is that many small breweries, craft breweries which make specialty beers, often use ingredients which contain natural caffeine. They don't add caffeine per se, but it comes into the beverage through the ingredients they use, such as cocoa beans. These brewmasters worry that the recent FDA edict will prevent their making beer their way for the folks who like it.

Part of the issue revolves around the way the Four Loko makers are marketing inexpensive, high alcohol, sweetened, high caffeine drinks to the college crowd and younger. The craft brew industry doesn't do that: they make beer for the love of beer, and are more free to experiment than the large breweries.

When all gets said and done, what we have here is a fine example of the troubles involved in personal freedom issues (at several levels, not simply of the individual), government regulation, and responsible citizenship. It is rather difficult to argue that those of legal drinking age should be kept from a product they want...yet it is also difficult to argue the morality of a company making a beverage aimed at an audience who wants only to get schnockered on the cheap. Toss in the fact that many microbreweries also use ingredients which may violate the standard the FDA apparently seeks to employ, brewers not attempting to entice potentially impressionable youths but, rather, enhance the quality of their product (what true beer lover doesn't appreciate the aroma and rich taste of a chocolate stout?) and we have an interesting mess of rights at work.

How far should the government go, and we must remember we are dealing with a monolithic government, in protecting the citizens from themselves? When considering this question, we must also factor in that there's nothing wrong with that government protecting the citizens not engaging in puerile behavior from the often dangerous antics of those who are. Yet we must also consider the obvious freedoms of the rest: the beer makers and beer drinkers who are not doing wrong but are merely engaging in the responsible marketing and responsible consumption of alcoholic products.

Those in the latter category are surely justified in the fear of what blanket government dictates may impose upon them. Washington certainly seems to use a heavy trowel when issuing edicts. Still, that cannot mean that everything coming from the beltway is wrong or errant. It will be quite interesting to see how the issue plays out.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Judgment of People and Things and Ideas.

They say you can't judge a book by its cover. Then why bother to put a cover on one?

Well, to entice folks to read it. That's why there will be photos or a painting or fancy script on a book's cover. Writers and editors and publishers want the cover to sway your judgment. So, then, the axiom actually means nothing useful. So why employ it?

So that you may feel guilty when you judge something on appearance. Usually this involves something that would generally bring contempt upon itself.

Think about the next time you are blithely told that.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Libertarianism

I have said to many folks, particularly my libertarian friends, that I want to be a libertarian so bad I can taste it. And I mean that. So what keeps me from signing on?

A handful of issues, for starters: as a group, they support abortion; they don't care for an aggressive foreign policy; and I simply can't quite come around on drug questions. Further, and this will sound very odd coming from me, they have too much of a distrust of government. Like it or not, there are things which only a government can do. Keeping order, for one, and keeping potential enemies at bay with the aggressive measures necessary. But I think the root problem with libertarianism as it stands today is the belief that the individual is the final arbiter of morality, the one who sets the standard for right and wrong.

No individual can hold this kind of power. On a practical level, it invites anarchy or worse: a might makes right society. On a philosophic level, it begs one very important question: if I, as an individual, can make up my own mind about people and things, why should I ever listen to you? No progress can be made from such a starting point in ethics, which certainly means nothing can be done in any other area either.

If libertarians were to admit that it is not the individual (or that weak sister, consensus) which dictates what can and cannot be done, that justice and rightness exist outside of those realms having a genuine being of their own, I may reconsider my position. Until then, they are as bad as liberals: they want what they want because they want it. It is a poor substitute for critical thought on critical issues.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fighting for Peace

Yesterday was World Peace Day. There didn't seem to be many activities in conjunction with it.

A local library in Redford did hold a meeting of teen to discuss ways of promoting peace. That's okay so far as it goes, of course. But how far can it go?

One of the problems with promoting peace is that it's not unlike promoting war. Or promoting cars or trips to the movies or food. Peace and war, like it or not, are in truth moral neutrals in and of themselves.

We can use our cars wrongly, we can watch the bad movies, we can eat too much or what is bad for us. Likewise, we could demand peace when war is the better ethical option. And it is sometimes the better moral choice, no matter how awful the actual fact of it may be.

Further, promoting peace only really works when all parties involved want it. What did the wish for peace gain the peoples of Austria and Czechoslovakia in the years before the Second World War? In fact, it was only the desire for peace on the part of Great Britain and France which allowed the sacrifice of those nations to Hitler. That's hardly a clarion call for peaceful methods: they kept the peace, for awhile, at the price of someone else's sovereignty.

So when asked if you support peace, don't be afraid to ask the next and perhaps most important question: under what circumstances? Because to itself, peace only means the lack of violence. There are times when the overall cause of peace must be defended by the sword.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Competitive Eating?

Famed competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi could not set the Guinness world record for the fastest time to eat a 12 inch pizza. He needed to do it in 105 seconds with a knife and fork, yet the best he could muster was 123 seconds. This has led to speculation that the food athlete is past his prime, while his camp claims that the pizza wasn't cooked properly. That was the reason he couldn't eat it quickly enough.

So, what are we to gather from all of this?

More than anything else, that the west in general is becoming as decadent as the United States. Competitive eating? At the risk of sounding like a namby pamby liberal, that sort of competition truly mocks those in the world who have little or nothing to eat. It goes without saying that much of that issue ranges beyond simple poverty, or simply contributing to charity or even helping the poor directly by taking them food, as governments and various other forces are at work exacerbating the problem. The problem of poor food and poor nutrition isn't as easy as let them eat cake. Still, how can we in good conscience condone food eating contests when there are in fact so many in the world with little, if anything?

Laments that Mr. Kobayashi may be past his prime ignore that reality. If anything, they further insult the poor and hungry. They have nothing, yet this unfortunate soul may not be able to gobble down enough pizza, hot dogs, bratwurst, or whatever, to win his next eating contest or maintain his celebrity status. And we're expected to feel sorry for him.

It's just plain galling to demand that sort of consideration. Yet we should now better understand the slow decline of western civilization.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Switching Allegiances

Some folk think that Senator Jim Webb of Virginia may be considering a change of party. He faces a tough reelection campaign in 2012 in a state which may be swinging back to the GOP. There is also the prospect that a strong GOP challenge to him from George Allen or other strong Republican candidate would end his Senate career, the thought being that if he joined the GOP he could mute that threat.

Newly elected Joe Manchin from nearby West Virginia is said to be considering a similar move. He distanced himself from President Barack Obama and the Democratic party in the recent election to win his heavily conservative state. His supporters insist it won't happen, yet who isn't left to wonder considering his successful campaign tactics?

Switching parties is an idea fraught with danger. Simply say 'Arlen Specter' in a room full of politicos and you would no doubt see many knowing nods with pursed lips. Yet there is something to be said for it. Surely we would have a better idea of the exact makeup of our governing bodies, as a switch by those two alone would shift the Senate from 53-47 to 51-49, a difference which may become titanic in 2012 when we see what is, this minute, 23 Democratic Senators up for re-election while only 9 Republicans face the voters. In what might be another rout, simply having the Democratic party associated with their names may ordain them for the dust pile as happened to several Blue Dogs a couple of weeks ago.

Further, if Webb and Manchin are all that conservative, it seems only right (sorry about the pun) that they man up and join the ranks of the GOP. It is important, if perhaps only symbolically, that representatives align themselves properly.

The Senate may have a working Republican majority anyway, given the philosophical bent of a handful of Democrats in the chamber. If you risk being ostracized by your own people, then you may as well join the other side and get what perks you can from the move and build what seniority you may within it. But the important thing is this: merely the fact the talk of switching parties is on the table is another sign that the Obama Presidency is weak, built itself upon a shallow base which has no real intent on maintaining any long term political action. When your leader is all flash and dazzle, it is no surprise when the followers stay home after the lights go out.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Minority Vote and the Democratic Party

Nancy Pelosi's latest coup, if we are to believe her defenders in the press, is in settling a dispute within the Democratic Party over leadership positions in the upcoming Congressional season. Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest ranking African American in the entire history of the House of Representatives, will, essentially, become the number three member of the Democratic House leadership. His exact role is undetermined. Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland will become minority whip, the number two position behind presumed minority leader Pelosi.

This is news? That the Democratic Party has assuaged a minority Congressman with no specific promises in order to keep the peace? It seems more of a way to avoid any actual confrontation about the exact role of African Americans in a political party which has a hold on the black vote which can almost only be seen as hypnotic.

It is difficult to understand why. Many African Americans hold positions on social issues which are more in line with conservative values rather than those of the Democratic establishment. They oppose gay marriage by about a 70 to 30 margin, tend to be strongly anti-abortion, and support traditional values. Yet they vote overwhelming Democratic.

This despite the fact they seem to make no real headway within the Party, as Pelosi's recent sleight of hand demonstrates. What has Clyburn gained through buying into the plan? Or perhaps more to the point, did he have any intention of actually fighting for a higher spot anyway? Has he sold his soul to the Democrats at such a price that he has no option but to fall in line?

Has the minority vote itself become so blinded that it cannot consider any other options during election cycles? Are politics really only a matter of saying the right things, of cooing sweet nothings, in order to salve certain segments of the electorate?

If such is the case, then that segment gets exactly what it deserves: second rate status within the political power structure. And shame on the Democratic party for such polemics.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tax Cuts and the Budget

An article somewhere out in the ether, we want to say on the Huffington Post but are simply too lazy and unconcerned to look it up, asserts that the Obama White House has given up on trying to kill the Bush tax cuts and is willing to extend them, at least temporarily. The thought seems to be that that would be the only way to keep the cuts in place for the middle class. This despite the fact that it would also keep the cuts in place for the evil rich.

It doesn't matter how often it may be said, attacks on the wealthy so often are simply jealousy. People aren't bad because they're affluent, and anyone who says they wouldn't want to protect their wealth if they were wealthy is an ignoramus or a liar. It is difficult to imagine that even a full blown and true philanthropist wouldn't want to get the most bang for their buck. If you could feed two poor folks well for the initial price of feeding one, what unsympathetic character wouldn't do it?

But we digress. What all this fuss about tax cuts ignores is that budgeting is a two way street. Simply cutting direct revenue, no matter how much more in taxes that would gain in the long run (which Reagan proved rather well would happen, while the Democrats in Congress squandered the windfall) ignores the other side. It ignores the question of what government should and should not fund.

That issue tends to get set aside when budget talks go on. We fail to ask ourselves what should and should not be the province of government when we talk about the nuts and bolts of how governments acquire their gold. We cannot do that and expect any real fiscal sanity.

Mathematics teach us that both sides of an equation must balance. Likewise, we need to tie revenues and spending together if we are to get any real hold on what governments should and should not be doing. Anything short of that strikes us as intellectual dishonesty, and a recipe for economic calamity.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Think globally? Think Locally.

One of the most basic axioms a conservative should have in his arsenal is known as the Principle of Subsidiarity. Plainly stated, it says that things should be done on the most local level possible. Why? Because that it the surest way to get necessary things accomplished in the most efficient manner.

The closer we are to a problem the better we ought to be able to understand it. We will see it more clearly, and indeed, particularly with issues and events nearby, we will likely have a greater interest in it. Schools, for example, should by and large be run within the local community because it is the locals who have the greatest interest in the education of their kids. Their kids are the ones who are generally going to hang around and run things when the current generation cannot anymore.

As a rule, the closer to a problem the less money which must be spend alleviating it. This is in part due to localized control, again as issues should be seen more clearly but also as there would be no added layers of bureaucracy which would otherwise have to be paid for by the electorate. Perhaps this is why, try as she might, Washington cannot get a grip on poverty: too much money which is supposed to help the poor in fact keeps bureaucrats at their desks.

There are of course many factors to consider when deciding what job should be done where in a national scheme. A nation as a whole must take up the defense of its people: could Detroit reasonably be expected to ward off an attack by a large foreign power on its own? If we were to leave Detroit to its own devices (a prospect many folks out there may not mind, but let's set aside jokes right now) we would hardly be a nation in the best sense of the word.

As a rule, conservatives would argue that few powers would be nationwide in scope. Military protection, the necessary and proper federal judicial arrangements, coinage, and issues of commerce (to varying degrees) come first to mind. State power would be wider than that of municipalities, perhaps, while communities would see to the bulk of day in and day out tasks: police and fire protection, trash pickup, and to the schools, among other chores.

We could go on all day discussing particulars, but you get the point. Local control is the best remedy for most ills. It is a point which should be discussed, if you'll excuse the irony, on a wider scale.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tolerance: a Term for Accept Liberalism

Tolerance. The word leaps from the mouths of liberals as though a mantra. We need to be more tolerant of people, especially, it seems, those who violate long accepted mores.

Well, let's put the shoe on the other foot. If tolerance is so great, why are you trying to change my, or anyone else's, for that matter, outlook? Aren't we as representative of diversity in our divergent viewpoints as all those different folks and actions we're supposed to blindly accept? Don't we merit the same kind of acceptance which we are supposed to offer everybody else?

In the aftermath of the recent election, there have been many liberal sympathisers who have bemoaned the ignorance of the electorate in putting the GOP back in play. Conservatives have been called dummies and bullies and worse, all because we don't believe in the creeds of the left. Even the President has lamented that he likely hasn't explained himself well enough, as though we poor neanderthals simply can't understand him or his ideals. All because we have repudiated the vast excesses of the past two years.

Well, here's one conservative who's sick and tired of it. Think me dumb if you like; label me (oooh, there's another sin of the right: labeling people. Heaven forbid we know anything about them) a bully or what have you. I have one thing to say, one thing to put in your pipe to smoke.

I'm a right wing traditionalist who believes in the individual who believes in himself and his country when he and they are in the right. I believe in doing and supporting what's right while working against what's wrong, and most importantly I have faith in a just God. Tolerate me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Say No to Consenting Adults (No Matter How They Protest)

One of the most pervasive while also one of the most ridiculous arguments in favor of certain presumed freedoms is the one about consenting adults. Simply put, it makes moral a given action on the grounds that the folks involved are in agreement as to their joint participation. It is ultimately a wholly untenable position.

To begin with, if all that is required to make something ethically acceptable is the agreement of the parties involved, then we really ought to allow duels. The (presumably) two participants agreed to take shots at each other. So no matter how barbaric, as they freely entered into the contract we would have to let them fire away.

Absurd. Yet when applied to other moral questions, and prostitution for example is one key area where the adage is often used, it is something accepted as axiomatic. The truth is that you would be on stronger ground simply to argue that paying for sexual favors is not in itself wrong rather than to say it's okay because there was no coercion.

The mere fact that people are willing to sell themselves that way while there are also folks willing to buy the, ahem, product, in fact reeks of coercive effects on its own standing. One person wants money, the other wants something which money can buy. A certain coercive effect is in fact at work. Still, even setting that point aside begs the question. The best answer is that nothing is good solely because those involved want to to do it. The act in question must be good on its own stead lest those involved be acting on mere impulse or selfishness. Or, indeed, actual immorality.

This is not to say that a free will act without pressure isn't a factor in moral decision making. It goes without saying that for most personal acts to be moral they must be entered into with a reasonable amount of freedom. In marriage, for example, both the man and the woman involved must do so of their own consent. Yet a hypothetical marriage between a man and a woman both of whom are free to marry is itself already moral. We are in fact beyond the issue of the morality of the potential nuptials by the time the question of will enters the fray.

In short, when considering the rightness of something there are two questions at hand. The first and most important query is whether the act is morally right, seen objectively, on its own. The second is whether those involved are the proper parties to it. Their consent is never a point until after the moral correctness of the action is assured.