Friday, January 25, 2008

Advice for Single Women

The Top 10 Personal Ads You Should NOT Respond To:

10. Hello, my name is O.J.
9. I enjoy snuggling on the couch at home. Do you have one?
8. My friends describe me as abusive and violent, but I have a good heart.
7. I am hoping to find a woman with a good job. I can stay home and watch the beer.
6. You can reach me at my cell number -- Level 3, Row C, cell 307.
5. I'm a 58 year old man looking for a girl between 18 and ....
4. I'm emotionally and financially secure and relatively disease free.
3. I'm just an average, normal guy, kind of like my role model, Tom Cruise.
2. I'm looking for a woman between 36 and 44 -- D; and the number one personal ad you should not respond to:
1. Hello, my name is Bill, and Hillary is never around any more.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Keep on Losing

In 2006, the Republicans took a thumping at election time. They found themselves rejected by an electorate angered, among other things, that Republicans had forsaken fundamental principles of limited government and fiscal restraint.

Republicans in Congress seem not to have learned the lesson, given this report from Robert Novak. Those leaders seem to be gambling that their loss of popularity stems solely from the lack of public support for the Bush administration and the Iraq War. They fail to recognize that there is really no reason to vote for Republicans who show the same lack of fiscal discipline that we used to criticize Democrats for. If they fail to figure that out, they will remain in the minority for a long time to come.

People who routinely cast votes for those promising an assortment of goodies at taxpayer expense are called Democrats. Republicans prevail by promoting a different set of values. At least, we used to.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Celebrating Roe?

An editorial in today's The Tennessean begins by celebrating the 35 year old Roe v. Wade decision as "one of the most important decisions by the United States Supreme Court in affirming women's rights." That statement is correct in the same sense that one might have once said that the Dred Scott case was one of the most important affirming the rights of landowners.

Be that as it may, the newspaper proceeds to make a factually incorrect statement, claiming that in Roe v. Wade "the court ruled on women's 14th Amendment right to privacy." That claim might seem puzzling to one who actually reads the 14th Amendment, searching and searching, but never quite finding, language affirming a general right to privacy. That distraught researcher might be temporarily relieved to learn that the Court did not rule on any such thing at all.

In fact, not finding the desired right to privacy in any actual provision in the Constitution, the Court mentioned a whole bunch of Amendments -- the First, Fifth, Ninth, Fourteenth, and the Bill of Rights generally -- though they never really bothered to identify the right in any particular provisions of those amendments. Perhaps they hoped the reader would be overwhelmed by the volume and give up looking. Nevertheless, just in case a researcher managed to sort through all of those amendments, the Court added that this elusive right to privacy could be located in the "penumbras" of the Fourteenth Amendment. Well, that settles it. Since penumbras are not written, but are just sort of hanging invisibly in the air surrounding the Fourteenth Amendment, we are compelled to simply take the Court's word for it and go home.

Whatever one's opinion about a mother's right to choose to abort her child, it is difficult when reading Roe to avoid the thought that the opinion was a conclusion on a desperate quest for a rationale. Not only is the decision sloppy from the standpoint of legal reasoning, but it is also a rhetorical travesty. After all, the Court repeatedly referred to the person bearing the fetus as a "mother." In some cases, that language repeats language from state laws it is overturning, but frequently that is not the case.

Now, one cannot be a mother without a child. So, what exactly is it that the "mother" is bearing inside her body?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Confronting Evil in Our World

Nathan Moore is one of my favorite bloggers because he battles hard on ideas, but always does so with civility and class. I agree 100% with his comments on those who have done otherwise with regard to the recent downfall of one Tennessee legislator:

As far as I can tell, there is video evidence that the guy had a complete psychological meltdown. He may be a Democrat, and a liberal Democrat, but I have never, and will never, want to see anyone personally destroyed, either by their own hand or at the hands of another. In the theater of open political warfare, it’s the ideas I want to defeat, not the person.

I enjoy a good fight on the issues, and don't mind taking the gloves off for those kind of debates, but anyone who enjoys the personal downfall of a political opponent is just evil. There is a lot of evil in our world. This week, I was reading Solzhenitsyn:

"The line that divides good from evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart."

This line from The Gulag Archipelago is appropriate in that the author had just told a story lamenting that his own capacity for arrogance and pride made him more like his opponents (Stalin's interrogators) than he wished to admit.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Forgetting Where the Finish Line Is

Much of the horse race style political commentary about the Republican primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire has included predictions based on the rubrics of past campaigns. Thus, there was false speculation that Fred Thompson might drop out if he did poorly in Iowa. Now, people are saying that a Mitt Romney loss in New Hampshire puts his campaign on "life support." And don't forget, Rudy Giuliani's campaign was mistaken to to ignore the early states, and he has no chance.

All of this is nonsense, and the patterns of every campaign in my lifetime do not apply. Why would any Republican leave the race when there remains the possibility of a brokered convention? And with 5 politically viable candidates in the field, a brokered convention remains a real possibility. For each candidate, hanging on to his supporters is absolutely critical.

Monday, January 07, 2008

How Times Have Changed

SMU today hired June Jones as its new football coach, the Dallas Morning News reports. Mr. Jones agreed to a 5-year contract worth nearly $2 million/year.

I can remember when only SMU football players made that much.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Questioning the Right to Vote

A.C. Kleinheider links to a series of comments debating whether Americans are guaranteed the right to vote by the U.S Constitution. He also links to R. Neal, who ridicules the possibility of debate on the issue. Of course, many people presume that the Constitution protects whatever it happens to be that they believe should be protected, but it would seem reasonable that such disagreements be resolved by looking at the language of the Constitution itself.

As it happens, the question of whether one has a right to vote is tied to who is being elected and is largely left to the states, with amendments to the Constitution protecting certain groups against discrimination. Thus:

In elections of U.S. Representatives, under Article I Section 2, whoever has the right to vote in the election of the largest of the state legislative houses in a given state also has the right to vote for U.S. Representative. The 17th amendment provides for the same with regard to U.S. Senators.

In elections of the President, under Article II Section 1, state legislatures are given authority to determine how a given state's electors are chosen.

While those sections do not require election by popular vote, the 14th Amendment creates a serious sanction for states that restrict, with certain exceptions (removing the right to vote for commission of crimes, etc.), the right of their citizens to vote. Basically, those states who deny adults the right to vote will lose seats in the House of Representatives proportionately. Under the 14th Amendment, states and the federal government are also not allowed to discriminate with regard to the right to vote based on race -- thus, if a person of one race is allowed to vote, then a person of any race is allowed to vote. The 19th amendment provides the same guarantee with regard to sex, and the 26th amendment does the same for those at least 18 years old.

Thus, the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee the right to vote in congressional and presidential elections, but it does provide for certain protections and creates a serious disincentive for states tempted to restrict the right to popular vote.

Thinking about My Own Votes in Presidential Elections

I was thinking this morning about the fact that this will be the 7th presidential election that I have had the privilege of voting in. It will probably surprise no one to learn that I have voted Republican in the general election each time (lest anyone think I only vote along party lines, I will mention that I have twice voted for Democrats for governor: I voted for Bob Casey in Pennsylvania in 1990 and for Phil Bredeson in Tennessee in 2002). However, I have never voted for the eventual Republican nominee in a seriously contested presidential primary, unless one considers the 1992 primary to have been seriously contested. Given that track record, the Republican contenders may wish to campaign against my vote!

Here are my past primary votes:

1984 -- uncontested. The nominee was Ronald Reagan.
1988 -- I voted for Jack Kemp. The nominee was George H.W. Bush
1992 -- I voted for George H.W. Bush, who was challenged for a while by Pat Buchanan. Mr. Bush was the nominee.

1996 -- I voted for Steve Forbes (only because Phil Gramm had dropped out). The nominee was Bob Dole

2000 -- I voted for John McCain. The nominee was George W. Bush.
2004 -- uncontested. The nominee was George W. Bush.

In 2008, I plan to vote for Fred Thompson.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

If I Were Running....

2008 will mark the third presidential election for which The Oracle was constitutionally qualified to seek the highest office in the land. Alas, my name will not appear on the ballot in any state, and I would expect that trend to continue for the remainder of my lifetime.

Nonetheless, over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will set forth a number of posts outlining what my campaign priorities and positions would be if I were actually running. In so doing, I hope to lay out a consistent philosophy of governance that would be workable in the real world. I hope that readers will benefit from these posts. I am certain that I will benefit from the discipline of writing them.

The issues to be dealt with in the coming posts are as follows (as I write them, I will add links):

Iraq and the war on terrorism
The size and reach of government
Health care
Taxes and the federal budget
Campaign finance
Social security
Support for our military