Another Perspective

Another Perspective

The Missing Middle Game

By 5.22.14

The latest instance of a federal judge striking down a state ban on “gay marriage” (a bit like striking down a ban on square circles, but set that aside for the moment) has social conservatives reeling again, with many of them wondering what happened to our culture.

Leftists in Western Europe, following the lead of Italian intellectual Antonio Gramsci, famously called for “a long march through the institutions” of Western Civilization. The left answered the call, entering and reshaping everything from popular media and the public schools to the ivory tower and the courts. Meanwhile, many conservatives, whose DNA should have them taking the long view of history and the future, have focused a disproportionate amount of their political energies no further than the next presidential election, high court decision, or bill on the Hill. We have been blindsided by a run of defeats in the federal courts because we were first outflanked.

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Poverty and Snowstorms

By 5.20.14

Many years ago, in upstate New York, there was a lady who was caught in a fierce snowstorm that produced conditions called a “whiteout.” That's when the snow is falling so thick and fast that all you can see in any direction is just sheer white. This lady wandered around in the storm, struggling to try to get home, but there was no way for her to know where home was.

Eventually she collapsed in the snow and died — something like 50 feet from her home that she could not see.

All too often that image comes back to me when I see so many people in poverty wandering off in all directions, either alone or following some of the many local or national messiahs — often not very far from a way out of their poverty but, like the lady who died in the snowstorm, unable to see the way.

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The Age of Hillary

By 5.19.14

Karl Rove drew considerable heat when he allegedly said Hillary Clinton had sustained brain damage during a fall late in 2012 during a panel discussion last week. The GOP strategist also called Hillary’s age into question. Rove said, “My head tells me she runs, my gut tells me this is a more complicated calculation and she might not. Two weeks before the 2016 election, she’ll turn 69. If she were to serve two terms, she’d be 77.” (1)

Considering that Rove is only four years younger than Clinton, I’m not sure if he is in a position to deliver that message. However, the considerably younger RNC Chairman Reince Priebus (who is 42) concurred with Rove’s assessment during an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press. Priebus stated, “I think that health and age is fair game. It was fair game for Ronald Reagan. It was fair game for John McCain.”

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I’m in With the In Crowd

By 5.13.14

This past weekend I crossed off two more artists off my concert bucket list. On Friday night, my roommate Christopher Kain and I went to see Rodriguez perform at Boston’s Orpheum Theater. Twenty-four hours later, I flew solo to Scullers Jazz Club to see Ramsey Lewis.

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President Michelle Obama Takes Charge

By 5.12.14

It was unseasonably warm on January 20, 2017 when Michelle Obama approached the podium. If it was due to global warming she had no complaint. It was nice to go without a heavy coat, which would have obscured her designer dress purchased for the occasion. It made a particularly nice contrast to the dowdy outfit worn by the defeated Democratic Party candidate, Hillary Clinton.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg shuffled forward Obama turned her head and caught the eye of former President Bill Clinton, seated in the front row. The president-elect winked, sparking a big smile in return—in sharp contrast to the glum expression on Hillary Clinton’s downward-looking face. Outgoing President Barack Obama was too busy modeling the perfect profile for the crowd to notice, but a lucky photographer captured the moment. That picture was sure to go viral as soon as he could file.

Michelle Obama raised her right hand to take the oath of office, and thought back to that fateful May morning.

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Cruel and Usual Punishment

By 5.8.14

Feces and blood. Those are the images that have stayed with me since I watched Solitary Nation, part one of a PBS documentary series that debuted in late April called Locked Up in America.

It offers a glimpse of life for inmates in solitary confinement at a supermax prison in Maine.

In the process of descending into madness, many prisoners in solitary confinement—some barely out of their teens—act out. They shove feces under their doors or smear it on themselves or the tiny windows of their cells.

Or they cut themselves with smuggled razor blades. They do it to protest prison conditions, out of boredom, in hopes of getting transferred to the slightly-less-restrictive psych ward, in actual suicide attempts or for some combination of those reasons.

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Jesus and the Death Penalty

By 5.3.14

Recently religious pacifist Shane Claiborne confronted Tennessee’s governor on the street to tell him what Jesus thinks about capital punishment.

Jesus did notably stop the execution of a woman accused of adultery by asking her accusers first to ponder their own sins. But nobody in Tennessee faces the death penalty for adultery. They are on death row for murder.

What does Jesus think about the proper response to murder? Christians believe Jesus is divine and therefore God’s instruction to Noah in Genesis is pertinent: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”

Unlike the later civil punishments of the Mosaic law, which are no longer considered binding, Christianity has traditionally regarded this command as having universal application.

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Fear and Loathing of Rand Paul

By 5.2.14

They’re in a tizzy about Rand Paul. They don’t like his views on abortion, on gay marriage, on civil rights or foreign policy.

Given Mr. Paul’s likelihood of being a credible contender for the Republican presidential nomination, you might expect these criticisms to be coming from liberals. But in fact, they’re coming from conservatives, as exemplified by my colleagues on these very pages who have the long knives out for the Kentucky senator.

Jed Babbin is my friend and mentor. Disagreeing with Jed is rarely a profitable enterprise. A former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, Jed takes his national security (and other things) very seriously — as do I, not least because both of my parents were officers in the U.S Navy. And so, Jed set out last week to “pop the Rand Paul bubble.”

But with the preceding caveat in mind, I must push back.

Jed begins by attacking Rand Paul’s libertarian approach to civil rights in which Sen. Paul argues that discrimination should be permissible in the private sector while not permissible in the public sector.

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Sotomayor and Toobin Push Bigotry by Association

By 5.1.14

Sonia Sotomayor pulled her punch, ever-so-slightly, last week. But where the Supreme Court justice stopped, journalists such as Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker are only too happy to tread.

To review: In Schutte v. BAMN, the Supreme Court upheld a voter-enacted amendment to the Michigan Constitution that prohibited the use of affirmative action in public higher education. But it was Sotomayor's blistering dissent that made waves when the decision was announced.

She writes in it that the amendment unconstitutionally restructured the political process, and “uniquely disadvantaged racial minorities.” To place this alleged-discrimination in context, she traced a historical arc of our nation’s “long and lamentable record of stymieing the right of racial minorities.” Majorities years ago denied African-Americans the right to vote, imposed poll taxes, and prohibited school bussing. For Sotomayor, a vote of the majority of Michiganders to ban affirmative action--the very act six Justices found constitutional—is just the “last chapter of discrimination.”

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The Punishment Fits the Crime

By 4.30.14

I understand Bill Zeiser’s “very angry thoughts” about the lifetime ban of LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling by the NBA. But in the end, I can’t agree with them.

Sure, Mr. Sterling had his private thoughts outed after his girlfriend surreptitiously recorded them.

But seriously, did Mr. Sterling never consider that a tramp 50 years his junior whom he was plying with real estate and fancy cars might not have his best interests at heart? (He clearly suggested, using words I can’t repeat on these family-friendly pages, that she was sleeping with other men — and that he didn’t mind.)

Does a billionaire lawyer owner of an NBA team really think that he has a private life when he pals around with the world’s most obvious gold-digger since Anna Nicole Smith?

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