Another Perspective

Another Perspective

How the Government Can (Almost) Guarantee Immortality

By 6.4.15

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is expected to test its flying saucer on June 4.  The technology is reported to be envisioned for flights to Mars as well as those which are human expeditions.  The implications of space travel are profound: our federal government can potentially make it available to all Americans. By doing so, it would make our society beholden to Washington, perhaps in perpetuity.

The president of the United States can promise so much: universal health care without disruption, revisions to a law without Congressional approval, job recovery for millions of displaced workers, retribution for the greedy one percent, bringing Wall Street to heel, the route of Al-Qaeda, an objective investigation of Benghazi, an Internal Revenue Service dedicated to fair play, a sixty nation coalition to fight ISIS, and a National Security Agency committed to privacy.  Alas, and as Sonny and Cher said, “The beat goes on.”

Another Perspective

Reform Ex-Im Bank, Don’t Abolish It

By 6.3.15

What can you say about a government agency that has allowed itself to be defined by its adversaries as bastion of corporate privilege? That it is a private ATM for the Fortune 500? That it is an institution established by FDR that should be abolished?

The Export-Import Bank of the United States has made itself an easy target for populist, anti-corporate forces. The aftermath of a grim recession adds fuel to the fire. In the absence of broad-based resource allocation and an effective communications strategy, Ex-Im Bank finds itself lacking support in Congress, including some of the GOP.

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Gay-Marriage Conservatives?

By 6.3.15

Speaking on Fox News Channel’s The Five, pundit Greg Gutfeld said that “gay marriage, in my opinion, is a conservative idea.” He noted that the left “generally hates traditions” and is all about “breaking with traditions,” and that gay marriage offers conservatives an opportunity to “embrace a tradition” that strengthens families and communities.

I should acknowledge that Gutfeld spoke without notes, unscripted, live and off-the-cuff. I often talk with inexactness when I’m speaking live. Live speaking is a perfect venue to make mistakes. It’s easier to type your thoughts and have the benefit of reflection, revision, and a word processor.

That said, let’s go with Gutfeld’s words, because they do represent a position held by some conservatives, and especially younger conservatives.

With all respect to Greg Gutfeld, who I usually agree with, gay marriage is absolutely not a conservative idea. Not unless, as liberals do with marriage, one redefines conservatism.

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There Is a Better Way

By 6.1.15

On Thursday, a 31-year-old woman and a young child were shot in Baltimore, making May the bloodiest month in fifteen years. However, the city’s police have responded by arresting fewer people. The number of people booked has plummeted, now that Freddie Gray’s death — and consequent street riots — have created more scrutiny for the police.

Times of crisis can show us the worst side of humanity — and sometimes, the best. While politicians and pseudo-reverends try to stir up more discontent with their speeches, one lesson from Baltimore is worth learning: everyday Americans who practice common sense are the only hope for the city and this nation. We’ve had several examples:

Toya Graham — determined to teach her son the right way to deal with anger — stole the spotlight from rioters when a news camera caught her reprimanding her son for joining his rioting friends:

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The Pixelated Moron-Maker

By 5.29.15

The pope confessed this week to switching off his television for good in 1990. He explained to the Argentine publication La Voz del Pueblo, “It was not for me.”

How does one perform pontifical duties lacking awareness of, let alone expertise in, Homeboys in Outer Space, Cop Rock, Dance Moms, and Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? The pope missed Sinead O’Conner ripping up the picture of a papal predecessor and Justin Timberlake ripping off Janet Jackson’s bra. No Puck, Snookie, Omarosa, or Speidi. Jeff Gillooly, Kato Kaelin, Lorena Bobbitt, and their Argentine equivalents remain forever erased from rather than etched in his memory.

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Pot Possibilities and Problems

By 5.26.15

Often the first thing I’m asked when traveling outside of Colorado is a half-question half-joke about how many people in the state I now call home are stoned. Although I’m pro-legalization, I’ve never touched marijuana and it seems as if I’m not alone: even though the state passed — by a 10-percent margin — a constitutional amendment in 2012 legalizing “recreational” (but still highly regulated) marijuana sale and use, sales tax receipts have underperformed expectations.

I have more context than the average American on this issue: I used to live in Amsterdam. In that wonderful city — where, I repeat, I never touched the stuff — you drink coffee at cafés but at “coffee shops” you ingest marijuana, whether by smoking or eating cookies or brownies or by who knows whatever clever delivery system the 21st century has on offer. What I noticed the few times I was in a coffee shop with friends or even just walking by The Bulldog was that the majority of the patrons were not Dutch.

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Put Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill

By 5.18.15

Washington’s latest symbolic battle is looming. America’s money celebrates its early political leaders, white males all. There’s now a campaign to provide for greater currency diversity. The group Women on 20s held a poll on what woman should be added: the victor was famed antislavery activist Harriet Tubman, who narrowly beat out First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Finishing further behind were Rosa Parks, the Civil Rights heroine, and Wilma Mankiller, the first female Cherokee chief.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time that a woman appeared on America’s money. Suffragette Susan B. Anthony graced the ill-fated dollar coin that was little used and quickly forgotten. The Native American Sacagawea later did the same and suffered a similar fate.

The Treasury Department is authorized to choose figures for America’s money. The administration has almost total discretion, since all that matters is that the person be dead. President Barack Obama indicated his interest in showcasing more women, encouraging feminist groups to rev up their political engines.

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‘Christian’ Paths to Amnesty

By 5.18.15

I understand the ideological, political, economic, and perhaps even ecclesiastical scramble over immigration “reform,” with various parties exhilarated or terrified at the prospects for gain or loss. I understand the daunting practicalities of it all and calls for emergency compromise. (Exigencies can birth strange policies, including cooperation with one mass murderer, Stalin, to stop another, Hitler.) But I’m having difficulty accepting the “Christian” case for some form of amnesty, offered (albeit by good folks) at the expense of the respect for law taught in Romans 13:1-7. The more they plead, the less convinced I find myself.

As an aside, I’ve been surprised at how those who work with Hispanics confide matter-of-factly in me their indifference to the illegal status of their flocks and their indignation at efforts to harass them. I suppose it’s a compliment of sorts, their attributing to me a certain level of sanctification, which certainly would bring me in line with their “Christlike” position. Alas, I’m not there yet, and here are 26 factors:

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The Road Back to Rousseau

By 5.14.15

What do St. Augustine (354-430) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) have to do with the recent riots in Baltimore? Lots.

For many centuries the civilization of the Western world (the world that used to be called Christendom) was based on the Augustinian theory of human nature, according to which human nature is basically bad. Due to the Fall of Adam and Eve, we — each and every one of us — suffer from an irresistible inclination to sin or immorality. We all deserve to go to Hell.

But about 300 years ago we — or at least the most “advanced” thinkers among us — decided to repudiate this dark view. We adopted a brighter view, holding that human nature is basically good. We are inclined by nature to goodness — to helping our fellow man and to feeling compassion for his suffering.

If Augustine best articulated the older and darker view, it was Jean-Jacques Rousseau who best articulated the new and brighter view. So let us say, for the sake of convenience, that we used to be Augustinians, but we are now Rousseauvians.

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The African Migration

By 5.13.15

The New York Times op-ed headline screamed: Open Up, Europe! Let Migrants In.

Last week, Philippe Legrain, a 41-year-old open-borders economist and former European Commission functionary, called upon Europe to have the “courage” to “allow people to come and go freely.” Legrain does not explain what “come and go freely” means. “Better still, diverse and dynamic newcomers can help spark the new ideas and businesses that would lift Europeans’ living standards,” he declares.

We should at this point shoo delusional Philippe out of the room, but the Times instead gives him a bullhorn and lectern.

What are Europe’s interests — and destiny? The Africans, are they migrants or invaders? What does “refugee” and “asylum seeker” mean? Are they being rescued or is something else going on? “An enclave of stability and wealth in an ocean of violence, Europe has not begun to grapple with the choices ahead,” says the Economist magazine.